The Story of Bawn
by Katharine Tynan
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Now, I thought it quite possible that he might be a guest of the Ardaraghs, who had always people staying with them. On the other hand, it was a house where I always dreaded to meet Richard Dawson, for I had heard Lady Ardaragh say, when the Dawsons were coming to Damerstown and we were all full of indignation against them, that she for her part was delighted to hear of somebody who had money and that she for one would welcome the Dawsons.

"I think money the one good and desirable thing of all the world," she had said.

I remember that Sir Arthur, who was present, looked at her in some surprise, and that she repeated the speech with greater emphasis and a heightened colour. And afterwards my grandmother spoke of her with a certain pitying tenderness, saying to Mary Champion that she was too pretty and too young to be left so much to her own devices. I overheard the speech by accident, being in the oriel of the library where long ago I had heard my grandmother's speech to my grandfather concerning me. My grandmother was fond of Lady Ardaragh and so was I.

I had taken Mickey, my foster-brother who is devoted to me, to hold the pony when I should alight. Perhaps, also, out of fear that I might meet with Richard Dawson, alone and unprotected.

When we drove up in front of the Ardaraghs' house the hall door stood open. There was not a soul in sight; not even a friendly dog came down the steps to greet us, though usually there were half a dozen of them.

I rang and knocked but no one came. It was five in the afternoon, and I guessed that Lady Ardaragh might be out and the servants at tea somewhere in the back premises.

However, I was not to be put off by an unanswered bell since the door stood open. I knew my way about the house well, and was on terms of sufficient intimacy to announce myself.

I guessed that the most likely place to find Lady Ardaragh would be the little inner drawing-room of which she had made a boudoir, to which were admitted only her favoured and intimate visitors.

I went through the house without meeting any one. There was not a sound. Often at this hour Lady Ardaragh had the boy with her; but if he had been there now I should have heard his shouts and laughter as I had heard them before. However cold and strange she might be to her serious husband Lady Ardaragh was a lovely mother, and she never looked to greater advantage than when she was romping with her boy down on the floor, her beautiful hair pulled about her, flushed, happy, smiling, as I have seen her.

No, certainly the child was not there now. As I crossed the large drawing-room I began to think there was no one there. The pale yellow silk curtains that screened the arch by which one entered the inner room were drawn close. Just outside them I paused for a second; I had almost turned back; then I heard a low laugh and there was the pleasant tinkle of teacups.

I raised the curtain to pass through, and found beyond it a French screen. I was about to pass around it into the room when I glanced up at the wall, on which hung an old-fashioned convex mirror. It reflected the room and its occupants with a minute delicacy. Her Ladyship, more like a Dresden-china figure than ever in a teagown of flowered silk, lolled in a low chair. She was holding a teacup in her pretty beringed hands. In the mirror her colour seemed more than usually high. She was very gay, animated and smiling.

There was a man with her. His back was to the mirror and at first I did not notice him. He was sitting on a tabouret, which must have been an uncomfortable seat for one of his height and length of limb. He had an air of sitting at Lady Ardaragh's feet.

I had an idea that my presence would be an intrusion, even before the man in the mirror turned his head and I recognized him.

My heart gave a great leap. Fortunately they were talking and had not heard me. Once beyond the curtain I fled as fast as my two feet would carry me back to Mickey and the phaeton.



The man I had seen was Richard Dawson, and I had not even known that Lady Ardaragh knew him, although I had suspected that she would know him in time. And here he was on terms of such easy intimacy as the scene I had come upon implied. I had been fond of Sybil Ardaragh, but for the moment I felt cold and angry towards her. It was a degradation that she should be friends, should flirt, with a man like Richard Dawson. What was she thinking of, the mother of Robin, the wife of Sir Arthur Ardaragh, who was a person of great wisdom and dignity, with a fame beyond our quiet circles? It was not worthy of her.

We went on and called at Rosebower, the little house of the two Miss Chenevixes, elderly ladies who had been great beauties in their youth. I used to think they were beauties still, with their fine, delicate features and skin no more withered than a rose of yesterday.

Miss Bride was classical, like a Muse, with her dark silky hair just streaked with grey, looped away behind her ears; while Miss Henrietta, the younger, had ringlets and large eyes and a languishing air.

It was enough for them to hear that I was going to Dublin for there to be quite a commotion. The one little maid brought in the tea, which Miss Bride poured out of a china pot into little teacups which were all of different colours, although of the same design. The tea was fragrant and strong, with thick cream in it; and when I begged for a little water to be added the two sisters broke out in protestations. That would be a real slur on their hospitality, and, seeing how they took it to heart, I was obliged to set my own liking aside and drink the tea as it was.

There were slices of thin bread and butter and sandwiches and toast under a silver cover, all of which I could have eaten myself, for I had an excellent appetite. But I denied myself again, and was rewarded by hearing Miss Henrietta declare, on her second scrap of bread and butter, that she had a most indelicate appetite, and she hoped her dear young friend, meaning me, would not be shocked at her.

I could always spend an hour or two happily in the little low-browed cottage drawing-room, with even the strong May light coming in greenly, having been filtered through the new leaves. It was a room that always pleased my imagination, for it was so full of bits of china and pictures, of old silver and ivory curios and nicknacks, that you could spend a day looking at them. On the low walls were several portraits of pretty ladies, to whom the Misses Chenevix bore the strongest resemblance. Because there had been rain earlier in the day there was a fire in the grate and the firelight sparkled prettily on the glass of the pictures, on the china and silver, and in the brooches and rings of the ladies.

A half-glass door led from the drawing-room into an old-fashioned garden which was now nearing the last of its bloom, and presently would show a most wonderful profusion of fruit; giant strawberries, currants like strings of carbuncles and rubies, raspberries larger and juicier than mulberries, with a great quantity of apples and pears and plums and apricots to follow.

The sun had come out after the rain, and I could see from where I sat the garden sparkling; and the box borders smelt very sweet.

Both the ladies were eager to know what clothes I was to have and to learn what friends I was going to see and what festivities I should attend; and Miss Bride took care to impress upon me that my visit was to be paid at a hopelessly unfashionable time of year.

"There'll be nothing doing at the Castle," she said. "I wouldn't be bothered going to Dublin unless I was to dine at the Castle."

"I dare say Bawn will find plenty of other entertainment, sister, even though she does not visit at the Castle," Miss Henrietta put in; she was always the conciliatory one. "There will be plenty of people in Dublin," she went on, "who will be very glad to see Bawn—old friends of Lady St. Leger and of Mary Champion."

"Did I say it was quite empty?" Miss Bride asked, with some asperity. "To be sure, there are always people. But she'll miss the best of it. She ought to be there for the Patrick's Ball and the command nights at the theatre. The last time I was at the Theatre Royal I was in the Viceregal box. She was a sweet, pretty creature, and His Excellency had a beautifully turned leg. We drove to Punchestown with them the following day. I remember the hundreds and hundreds of jaunting-cars tearing like mad along the road. To be sure we had outriders, but it was nearly as much as your life was worth, and coming out at the Gap afterwards we had a horse's hind legs in our carriage, and every one screaming like mad, and the dust fit to choke you. Even motors couldn't rival that."

She spoke with an air of grave exhilaration. They knew everybody and everything that was fine and gay in the social life of their day. Perhaps they would know about my fine gentleman. I only hesitated to ask because in her latter years Miss Bride had adopted a manner of hostility towards the male sex generally, and was apt to snap at any one who showed an interest in it even of the slightest. However, I screwed up my courage.

"Miss Chenevix," I began, "I met a gentleman the other day in our wood and I wondered who he might be. I can't imagine where he was staying. And I thought I would ask you if you knew who he was."

"We could do very well without men," Miss Bride said sharply. "In fact, the world could have got on very well without them. There is nothing a man can do that a woman can not do better. What was your gentleman like, Bawn?"

Despite her hostility to the male sex Miss Bride was very curious.

"He was very slim and elegant," I began—"not very young."

"Now what do you mean by not very young, Bawn? Be precise in your statements," Miss Bride said, with some asperity.

"I should say he was quite forty," I said, blushing, and wishing I had not mentioned the matter of age.

"Fiddlesticks, child! Forty is young. And so you met this young gentleman in the wood. And what happened?"

"He took Dido's paw out of a trap. He was very kind about it," I returned, conscious of Miss Bride's severe eye.

"There was no philandering, child, now was there? You're not long out of short frocks. I can't imagine how the young gentleman came to be in your woods. You'd better forget all about him, but first tell me what he was like and all that happened."

"Bride! The poor child!" said Miss Henrietta, compassionately.

"There was no philandering," I said composedly. I am used to Miss Chenevix's ways. "How could there be? He rendered me such a service as any gentleman might have done, and went on his way. It was only seeing that we have so few strangers—"

"He might be staying at Damerstown. They have a houseful."

"I am sure he was not."

"Hoity-toity! how can you know if you know nothing about him? Tell me again what he was like. I know every one who goes in and out of every house in the county except Damerstown, and there are too many of them for me, besides which old Dawson ruined my uncle Hercules. Was he tall? You say he was tall."

"Tall and slight."

"Regular features?"

"A straight nose; his face clean shaven except for a small dark moustache; a good deal of colour in his face and great vivacity."

"And his eyes? There, you needn't tell me. I ought to know. The eyes are grey with dark lashes. You might take them for black. It is Anthony Cardew to the life."

"Snow-white hair," I added.

"Snow-white hair," Miss Bride repeated. "No, no. It can't be Anthony Cardew, unless there are white blackbirds. Hair black as jet."

"Perhaps Captain Cardew may have become white, sister," Miss Henrietta put in humbly.

"White! What would make him white?" Miss Bride asked angrily. "He can't be forty. I remember him the very day his sister was run away with—"

She pulled herself up suddenly, and turned to me with an air of great kindness.

"'Tis my tongue is running away with me," she said. "Excuse me, Bawn, my dear. Your stranger sounds like Anthony Cardew, but I don't see that it can be he. He was raven-black. Better think no more of him. I wouldn't waste a thought on any man. I wonder why the Lord made them."

I had stood up to go. I think I had known all the time that my fine gentleman and Anthony Cardew were one and the same, had understood all the time why he was so certain that his presence in our woods would be unwelcome to my grandparents.

"You never know where he might be, Anthony Cardew," Miss Bride went on, holding my hand. "One day at one end of Europe, the next at the other. Don't think of him, child. He is better worth thinking of than most men, but none of them are worth it. Good-bye, Bawn; be sure and write us word of all your fine doings."

Miss Henrietta came with me to the phaeton to whisper in my ear that I was not to mind her sister's odd views about gentlemen, because poor Bride lived in perpetual fear that she, Miss Henrietta, might marry and leave her.



As we jogged along in the evening coolness and sweetness, we came upon Sir Arthur Ardaragh with little Robin on his shoulder. The boy shouted with joy when he saw me; and when I had stopped the phaeton he called down from his height about the picnic tea father and he had had in the fields, his little fat hand upon his father's neck while he told it.

"Robin often won't eat a good tea in the nursery," his father explained. "I think he wants other little boys to make him eat; he eats a famous tea when we have it together out-of-doors and travel a distance before we have it."

"I never want other boys, dada," Robin said, "when I have you. You are better than a brother even."

"Have you been to see Sybil?" Sir Arthur asked, recapturing the young gentleman and lifting him again to his shoulder.

To my annoyance, I felt my cheeks grow red, but his kind, serious eyes showed no knowledge of it. I wished they were not so far away, those eyes, so absorbed with books and dead and gone people and dead languages. I wished they were nearer home, took more obvious thought for the pretty young wife whom I had sometimes imagined to be jealous of her husband's absorption in his studies.

"I called, but I did not see Lady Ardaragh," I said.

"Ah, I suppose she had gone out. Well, good-bye, Miss Devereux. Remember me kindly to Lord and Lady St. Leger."

A day or two later I heard my godmother mention to Lady St. Leger, when I was not supposed to be listening, that some one had seen Anthony Cardew. He had passed a night at Brosna, and he was off somewhere to the South Seas—on some romantic, treasure-hunting expedition which he had been asked to join.

"Will he never settle down?" my grandmother asked in a whisper. I noticed that they always whispered when they mentioned the name of Cardew, on account of my grandfather, no doubt, for he would always have it that Irene Cardew had been the cause of the tragedy which had resulted in Jasper Tuite's death and Uncle Luke's exile, and he hated her and Brosna and all the Cardews on her account.

"He shows no sign of it," my godmother answered. "I have little cause to love the Cardews, but Anthony is a fine fellow. It is a thousand pities that his life must be sacrificed to the memory of a woman who was always beyond his reach, even while she lived."

Perhaps if they had talked more openly I should have been less interested in the Cardews; but the mystery which hung about Brosna and its owners for me had had the effect as I grew up of stimulating my curiosity about them. And now that I knew I did not feel called upon to hate them. Even if Irene Cardew had played fast and loose between Jasper Tuite and Uncle Luke there was no reason for hating her brother, who must have been but a boy at the time. I wondered if Irene had been like her brother Anthony, had worn in her delicacy the look of a rapier, a flame, of something bright and upstanding and alive with energy.

Since I might meet Richard Dawson and had no hope of meeting Anthony Cardew, I walked much those days within our own walls, which gave me space enough for Aghadoe park-walls are four miles in length.

But most often I found myself taking the path that led to the postern gate as though the place had some pleasant, dreamy association for me.

One day I had the whim to creep again within the little glade where Anthony Cardew had come to my help. It was now all hung about with wild roses and woodbine and was very sweet, and far overhead the trees met in a light, springing roof of green, more beautiful than any cathedral.

It had grown dark, and as I stood in the glade the rain pattered on the leaves overhead, but not a drop reached me. There were harebells and saxifrage in the moss, and underneath the bushes there was scented woodruff, and there was also sweet wild thyme. I thought I would make a summer drawing-room of the place, which none should know of beside myself, and should bring my books there and my needlework and embroidery, and spend long hours there alone or with a dog's companionship which is better than solitude.

The shower passed away over the hills, and the sun shone out. It sparkled here and there where a raindrop hung on a leaf and it suffused the glade with a warm, golden glow.

Suddenly something sparkled that was not a raindrop, something in the moss and undergrowth at the entrance to the glade. I wondered I had not seen it before, but it was the first time I had entered the glade since Anthony Cardew had been there.

I picked up the shining thing with great eagerness and found it to be a miniature set about with brilliants. My foot struck against something which proved to be a leather case in which the miniature, no doubt, had lain. As it fell the case must have opened, and that was a lucky thing, for if the miniature had remained in the case it might have lain there till the day of judgment. It was the mere accident of the stones sparkling that had caught my eye.

I stood with the miniature in my hand and stared at it, and it began to dawn upon me why Anthony Cardew had thought me a ghost. The face was far, far more beautiful than mine could ever be, yet it was strangely like the face that looked at me from the glass every morning when I did my hair.

To be sure, mine, I thought, was a poor simple, common face beside the face in the miniature with its wonderful expression. I have heard my grandmother say that the fair beauties of the South are the most beautiful of all, as beautiful as they are rare; and the original of the miniature had an opulent, golden beauty which we of the cold North could never attain. Perhaps the beauty might even have been over-opulent if sorrow and sadness had not given the face an air like a crowned martyr in heaven. So sweet it was, so gentle, so full of spiritual light, that I felt I could worship the owner of such a face.

Then I noticed the grand-ducal crown in diamonds at the top of the miniature, and it came to me that this was the portrait of the lady Anthony Cardew had served with a passionate devotion. No wonder I felt aflame for her, although I was only a girl; and I thought that so Mary Stuart must have looked to have left love of her alive in the world to this day.

I thought of how much the loss must have meant to Anthony Cardew, and cast wildly about in my mind for any means of letting him know that it was safe. But I could find none; and I could only hope that presently I should learn his whereabouts. I put the miniature into my breast for greater safety, and felt it warm there, as though a heart had been alive in it.



We had rooms on the sunny side of St. Stephen's Green, not far from the Shelbourne Hotel and the Clubs, and, what interested me more, the Grafton Street shops. I was nineteen years old, and I had never seen any shops but those of Quinn, our country town, and these very seldom; so it may be imagined what wonderful places the Dublin shops appeared to me, although my godmother assured me they were not a patch on those of London and Paris. In fact, the town seemed quite strange and wonderful altogether, with the people hurrying hither and thither and the traffic in the streets and the fine stir of life. I thought I never could be tired of it all; and I was quite sure I should never be tired of the shops.

My godmother was well pleased at my delight, while she laughed at me, assuring me that Dublin was a dead city as compared with others.

"It is a Sleeping Beauty which wakes once a year," she said, "and that is in Horse-Show Week. Time was when I came up every year for the show. Now I think I shall revive the custom for your sake, Bawn. We can bespeak these rooms if they are not already bespoken. I assure you, in Horse-Show Week, Bawn, people are glad to sleep anywhere. Even the bathrooms of houses and hotels are turned into bedrooms."

"I could not imagine a greater crowd than this," said I, for which she laughed at me, again calling me a country mouse.

Although the Castle season was over there was still a good deal going on, dinners and dances and many outdoor amusements, such as races and regattas and flower-shows, to many of which we went. And it was only when I saw how she enjoyed it all and how glad her old friends were to see her that I realized what a dull life she spent with us, always looking after that selfish invalid, her cousin, when she was not with old people like Lord and Lady St. Leger.

Also I realized, when I saw her in her fine gowns, what a stately, handsome woman she was still, and with an air of youth, although she had put away the things of youth from her.

Indeed, after the first, our lives seemed to me a whirl of gaiety, and although I went to no big balls, not having been presented, there were a good many young girls' dances and garden-parties and such things open to me, all of which I enjoyed greatly.

But one day, as it happened, my godmother was not very well, and our engagement for the afternoon had to be abandoned.

I remembered then that half our visit was over and I had not yet been to see Bridget Kelly, Maureen's sister, nor our old house which was in a sad and forsaken part of the city that hitherto we had not visited. I had had a great desire to see the old house all the time, but we had so many engagements. Now, when my godmother wanted sleep and darkness but was loth to leave me alone seemed to me an excellent moment.

"I shall go and see Bridget Kelly," I said, "while you rest. And when I come back you will be better."

"Not alone, Bawn?"

"You seem to forget I am twenty."

"But—a country mouse—and other things. I went about freely when I was your age, though the time was far more strict. But I could not let you walk about the city alone, child. Your grandmother would have a fit if she heard of such a thing."

At last I prevailed on her to let me go, on the understanding that I should take a cab which should wait to bring me back. I had a thousand times rather have had one of the outside cars, but I knew she would not hear of it unless she was with me, so I resigned myself to the stuffiness and rattling of a Dublin cab.

We crossed the city and climbed a steep hill and came presently to a region of darkness and desolation as it seemed to me, in which the houses were intolerably dreary—high, black houses that shut out the sky, fallen on evil days, since they were all sooty and grimy, with windows which had not been cleaned for years, many of them broken, and twisted and rusty railings guarding the areas.

I shuddered at the thought of the people who lived in such places.

I could see that they had once been places of consideration but now they were slums. Here and there a mean shop stood out, or the old house had been turned into a pawn office, or a builder's or baker's. Dirty children sat on the pavements or played in the gutters, while their dirty mothers gossiped in groups; and the men lounged to and from the public-houses, which were, indeed, the only bright spots in those dreadful streets.

I was relieved, when at last the cab stopped, that I had come to the end of my journey.

The last street down which we had driven was drearier than the rest, in a sense, but more respectable. There were wire blinds to all the lower windows, and there was no sign of life in the short street from end to end.

Our house crossed the end of the street, which was in a way an approach to it. It stood within stone walls, and was a great square building with wings thrown out, the style of it the pseudo-classical which was so much in favour in Ireland in the eighteenth century.

There was a great gate in the middle of the long wall; at one side of it a postern, which I pushed and found to be open. Bidding the driver wait for me I passed within.

I went up a flight of steps, under Ionic pillars, to the double hall door. I found that that, too, stood open, and I went into the hall, which was very dark despite the June sunshine without. It was an imposing hall paved with black and white marble, and the stairs ascending from it were of the same material. I was struck by the beautiful stucco work of the walls and ceiling. But dust and grime lay on everything and the air of the place struck cold.

I went back to the hall door and rang the bell, which echoed somewhere down in the lower regions of the house; but there was not a sound except that.

I rang again, and still no result, and the influence of the shut-up and abandoned house with all its shadows and memories began to chill me. I set the hall door open wide, and then I found the door at the back of the hall that led to the servants' quarters and opened that.

A rush of cold, damp air came up in my face with a mouldering smell.

"Bridget Kelly!" I called. "Bridget Kelly!"

The sound echoed as though through many vaults of stone and there was no answer.

The place and the silence began to get on my nerves. I remembered its forty-six rooms, all shut up and the furniture swathed in holland where the rooms were not empty. I have always had a dread of an empty house, and now it seized upon me. I could have run away out into the sunshine to the cabman whom I had left feeding his horse. When I had looked back before entering he and his horse had been the only living things in the black street.

But I would not run away. It would be a pretty thing to go home to my grandmother and tell her that I was afraid of the house because I could not make Bridget Kelly hear me and had run away in the full sunshine of a June day.

Probably Bridget was upstairs in some one of the forty-six rooms.

From the hall itself four doors of very fine wine-red mahogany opened. I looked into one after the other. They were reception-rooms of great size, so far as I could judge; but the sun was the other side of the house, and only an eastern light came in through the chinks of the window shutters. The rooms were full of sheeted shapes in the dimness. I don't think I could have brought myself to go into them. I know I closed each door with a hasty bang, as though it had been a Blue Beard's Chamber.

As I went upstairs my heels made a great noise on the marble steps. At the head of the stairs I came upon a door which had once been of red baize, although now the baize was in tatters. Beyond it was a long corridor, shuttered like the rest of the house.

I left the baize door open behind me while I peeped fearfully into one room after another whose doors led off from the corridor. These were bedrooms, and it was worse than downstairs. I could see the great four-posters glimmering in the darkness. The smell of mildew was everywhere.

Suddenly my courage gave out. I had an idea. Supposing that Bridget Kelly was lying dead in one of these rooms or the great stone kitchens below!

I turned about hastily, dreading what lay behind me. I would come another time with my godmother. How could one tell who was skulking in the house? The door had been open when I came to it.

And then—I heard the hall door shut with a great bang. There was no wind to shut it. It was the last straw. I fled precipitately through the baize door and on to the staircase, which was lit by a skylight overhead. Even though I met the person who had shut the door I must make towards the sunlight and the world outside.



As I came out on to the great landing which had a recess supported by pillars, I saw that a baize door on the other side, corresponding to the one by which I had come was slowly opening. To my excited fancy it opened stealthily, and I stood staring at it, not knowing what might issue from it.

Imagine, then, my joy and surprise when I saw for the second time Anthony Cardew's face. At first I could hardly believe it; and he, on his part, looked equally amazed, and very pleasurably so, I must say.

"Why, where have you dropped from, Miss Bawn?" he asked. "A minute ago I could have sworn I was alone in the house, unless, perhaps, the good old creature who looks after it had come back from her marketing."

"And where have you dropped from?" I asked, suddenly light-hearted. "I thought you were on your way to the South Seas."

"Why so I should have been," he answered, "only for sudden happenings. And how do you come here? To be sure, it is your own house, and I am a trespasser. I little thought when I came who I should find."

"I am in town for a short visit," I said, "with Miss Champion. She was not well to-day so I came to see the house alone."

"And, as luck would have it, I had a fancy on the same day to see a portrait in the picture-gallery here. It is something better than chance, Miss Bawn."

We stood looking at each other with a happy intimacy. And then his mention of the portrait recalled the miniature I had found in the wood. I had had a foolish girl's fancy to hang it about my neck under my dress, and it lay there now, suspended by a slender gold chain which was one of my godmother's gifts to me. I had a shy reluctance to let him know I carried it there.

"By the way," I said, "I believe I have a jewel of yours. I found it in the wood."

His eyes lightened and darkened in a way that was peculiar to him and his cheek flushed.

"You have found the miniature?" he said, in great excitement. "I was heartbroken for the loss of it. Have you got it with you?"

He had stretched out his hand as though he expected his recovered treasure to be handed to him at once, and I could not deny that I had it, so I took it from about my neck, murmuring something about having carried it for safety and that the case was at Aghadoe and should be returned to him.

"I thought you were gone to the ends of the earth," I said lamely; "and I was so afraid that I might lose it before I should have a chance of returning it."

He took it gently and looked at it for a second. Then he kissed it.

"Why, it is warm from its resting-place," he said, "and so the dearer."

And then he took it off from its little chain and placed it in an inner pocket of his coat, handing me back the chain.

"Maybe you'd like to see what picture it was that made me a trespasser," he said, with a suddenly reckless air. "Come, child, and you shall see. Perhaps it was the discovery that the dead was come alive that sent off two decent fellows to find a Spanish galleon without me. There are better things than gold. Aye, faith, the gold on a woman's head, the light in her eye, may be worth many treasure-ships."

We went back through the baize door through which he had come. There was a second door within it which being opened disclosed the picture-gallery; that, being lighted from overhead, had not the gloom of the rest of the house.

I looked around me at the ruffled and periwigged gentlemen, the smiling ladies, who were my ancestors and ancestresses, with interest.

"There is a picture of my grandmother here which I am said to resemble," I said, as I looked down the line of pictures, "though I am ashamed to say that I am thought to resemble her, seeing that she is a great beauty, and is, indeed, beautiful in her old age. Perhaps I resemble her without possessing any of her beauty."

"Ah, Miss Bawn," he said, looking at me roguishly, "'handsome is as handsome does.'"

"That is so," I said. "My grandmother has often told me that if I am good and gentle no one will trouble about my looks."

He turned suddenly then and he said in a singularly sweet voice—

"Dear child! dear child!"

Then he took my hand as though I had been indeed a child and led me up to the portrait.

"What do you see?" he asked.

"I never could be like anything so beautiful," I said, with indignation. "If Gran looked like that she must have been beautiful indeed, and she must have looked like it."

The young girl in the portrait was wearing a white satin gown. She was painted in the manner of the period, with a lamb beside her which she had wreathed with roses; and she stood in a flowery meadow. She had an armful of roses like Flora's self, and as she stood one or two escaped and fell down her dress. She had the long neck which has come to me, a beautiful small head, golden hair, warm fair colouring and violet eyes.

"I never could be like it," I said again.

Captain Cardew smiled. I saw him take the miniature from his pocket and look at it and again at the portrait as though he compared them.

"You see the likeness, do you not?" he asked.

"Yes, there is a likeness," I acknowledged.

"I came here to feast my eyes upon it," he said. "I was frantic at the loss of the miniature. I had seen this picture before, long ago, when I was a boy. When I first saw ... the original of the miniature I remembered this and thought it the strangest coincidence. I wanted to find out for myself if the likeness was really so strong."

"And it was?" I asked.

"It was. Yet you are more like the miniature than the portrait is."

"Ah, no," I said. "I could not be. The portrait is very beautiful."

"You are more like her," he repeated.

We had left the doors of the gallery ajar, and now we heard plainly a heavy foot coming up the stairs and puffing and wheezing as of a very stout, asthmatic person ascending.

"It is Bridget Kelly," he said, turning and smiling at me. "She was much disturbed that I would not have her as cicerone, but she remembered me from the old days, and, seeing that I would not have her, she left me to mind the house while she did her marketing."

"I found the door open when I came to it," I said.

"Bridget must have left it so. I dare say the house has a ghostly reputation and is shunned. And now, do you know why I did not go treasure-hunting?"

"How should I know?" I answered him.

He caught me suddenly into his arms.

"Because, Bawn, my darling," he said, "the dead has come alive again."



He let me go gently just as the old foot touched the top step of the stairs, and Bridget Kelly, a little, fat, rosy, smiling woman, much pleasanter of expression than her sister, Maureen, came into the gallery.

"Why, bless me, Captain Cardew," she said, "who have you found? There is a cabman at the door who would have it that he was waiting for a young lady, although I told him no young lady had come in but only a gentleman."

"Look and see who it is, Bridget," Captain Cardew answered her.

She looked at me in a momentary bewilderment. Then she flung her arms about me.

"Why, it must be Miss Bawn," she cried. "Miss Bawn, and the image of her Ladyship, yet more red in the cheeks than her Ladyship had, except maybe when his Lordship was courting her. And where did you come from at all, Miss Bawn? or did the sky open to let you fall through?"

"I came by the cab, Bridget. I am in Dublin on a visit with Miss Champion. You remember Miss Champion?"

"Is it Miss Mary? Aye, troth, I do remember her. 'Tis mistress of this house she ought to be by rights, leastways when his Lordship and her Ladyship are gone to their rest; and long may it be before they go! So you're here with Miss Mary, Miss Bawn, honey? And wasn't it the quarest thing at all that you should walk into the house and find Captain Anthony in it?"

"I was nearly running out of it," I said. "I was frightened of all the empty rooms. The sound of the hall door shutting frightened me most of all. I was about to run out of the house when I met Captain Cardew."

"Ah, sure, and you weren't frightened then?" the old woman said in a coaxing way. "You wouldn't be frightened with Captain Anthony to take care of you?—no lady would. Sure, dear, I've lived in it many a year my lone self, and worse than myself I've never seen, though they do have quare ould stories about it. I wouldn't be frightened, itself, if I did see anything, only spake bouldly to it and ax it what was keepin' it from its rest."

"My grandmother will be glad to hear you are well, Bridget. She told me to be sure to see you. She sent you some presents. You will find a parcel in the cab at the door."

"Her Ladyship is always kind and good, the Lord reward her! I think I'll be gettin' down to see her and the Abbey and Maureen before the winter comes. And now, Miss Bawn, you'll be seein' the house?"

I felt that it would be the greatest unkindness to refuse her, so we made the journey of all the forty-two rooms, and in every one Bridget had stories to tell, and she pointed to the pictures and the bric-a-brac and the tapestries, and classified the furniture, like any guide-book.

I was not as excited about them as otherwise I might have been. Indeed, I could think of nothing but that Anthony Cardew was beside me, and that he had clasped me in his arms and kissed me and that there was no gentleman on earth his equal.

I knew now how foolish it was about Theobald, and how impossible it was that our brotherly and sisterly intimacy could ever have ripened into love. Indeed, I felt years older than Theobald, and I said to myself that never in any circumstances could I have cared for a boy like him. As we went from room to room my heart felt as though it were on wings. To see Captain Cardew, how polite and kind he was to old Bridget, opening and closing the shutters for her and helping her up and down steps, filled me with pride and joy. Was it possible that he could care for a little ignorant girl like me, this preux chevalier, who had been secretly a hero of romance to me as long as I remembered?

All the time as we went Bridget talked incessantly, although she became scanter and scanter of breath. She had all sorts of reminiscences of my grandfather and grandmother and of the great days in the house; but I noticed that once when she mentioned Uncle Luke's name she coughed to cover her mistake, and looked oddly from Captain Cardew to me as though she wondered at finding us together.

And then we were taken down to the drawing-room which opened on the right-hand side of the hall; and she would take off the covers of the old French furniture to show us the beautiful old chintzes with which they were upholstered. Also she would have us admire the Italian mantelpieces inlaid with coloured marble, and the decoration of the walls and ceilings which were very fine indeed, and the picture by Angelica Kauffmann of the Lady St. Leger of that day as St. Cecilia playing on her organ, and the other beautiful things which the rooms contained. All the time she sighed over the years during which the house had been closed up.

"Sure, it's time it was all forgotten," she said, "and that his Lordship and her Ladyship came back to where many a one would welcome them. It was fine, Miss Bawn, when the wax lights were lit in all the chandeliers and the flashing of them was nearly as fine as the ladies' diamonds. There used to be the height of fashion and beauty here but never one that I'd compare to her Ladyship. Ah, sure, they were great days!"

"And who knows but they may come again?" said Anthony Cardew.

We were in the inner drawing-room by this time, and as it happened there was a picture of Theobald as a little boy sitting on his pony, above the fireplace.

A memory came back to me, out of the mists of childhood, of Theobald sitting astride the little shaggy pony. I had quite forgotten it, but now I remembered even the pony's name, which was Orson. And there was a distracted person in a velvet coat, who must have been the artist; and he implored Theobald to keep still, for he would touch up Orson and set him prancing. It was on the lawn near the yew-hedge, and I was standing by my grandmother, while Theobald on the pony was on the gravel-sweep. I knew that he made the pony curvet because I liked it; and presently my grandmother discovered that and took me away.

"Sure, the fine days will come back," the old woman assented hopefully, "and there's the bonny boy'll bring them. Miss Bawn, dear, when is Master Theobald coming home from the wars to marry you? Weren't you promised from the cradle? Sure, old as I am, I'll dance at the wedding."

To my vexation I felt the colour rush to my face and I was conscious that Captain Cardew was looking at me in a startled way.

I tried to say something to the effect that it was an arrangement which we should probably never desire to carry out, but, forcing myself to look at Captain Cardew, I was silenced by the cold and stern expression of his face.

I saw him go up and examine the portrait, and then turn away. I looked at him piteously. In spite of old Bridget's presence I had almost courage to put my hand in his and say to him that he was the only man on earth for me.

But he was holding the door open now for Bridget and me to pass through and he would not meet my eyes. And the old woman was begging me to be seated awhile till she made me a cup of tea and was inviting him similarly. He refused, saying he had business elsewhere. And then he took my hand and lifted it coldly to his lips; and shaking old Bridget by the hand he was gone.

As the door slammed behind him, again the cold chill of the house struck me for the sunshine had gone with him. I realized my own unreadiness too late, and I could have followed him, calling out to him till he should turn round and come back and hear me tell him that it was all foolishness about Theobald and I loved only him. Indeed, I got so far as to run out to the postern gate and look down the street.

But it was as lifeless as when I had come in. There was only my cab, and the driver dozing on the box and the patient horse standing quietly between the shafts to break the dead monotony of the lines of black houses.



I drank Bridget's strong, sweet tea without protest, and ate the thin bread and butter, feeling it taste like sawdust in my mouth.

Meanwhile, the good old soul sat and looked at me with a beaming expression.

"I little thought," she said, "when I rose up this morning, honey-jewel, of who'd be here before the day was over. Sure, you're pale, love! Maybe 'twas tiring you I was, trapesin' through the house. Maureen 'ud have something to say to me. She was always terrible jealous of her babies."

I assured her I was not tired. I tried to talk to her about Maureen and the Abbey and my grandparents, and all the time I felt that she watched me with an anxious and fond gaze.

"I wouldn't be telling her Ladyship, if I was you, Miss Bawn," she said suddenly, "about meeting Captain Anthony Cardew here. 'Twould vex her, so it would. I was surprised to find you talking together. 'Twas the unluckiest thing in the world that you and him should meet."

"I had met Captain Cardew before, Bridget," I said coldly. "He had rendered me a service. I'm sure all that old trouble ought to be forgotten, and I think my grandmother is too good a Christian, and too reasonable to bear Captain Cardew enmity for something which was no fault of his."

"That may be, dearie," old Bridget said, with the fond, coaxing way of our people towards us. "That may be. Still, if I was you, Miss Bawn, I wouldn't think of Captain Anthony, even if he did do you a service. He's a beautiful gentleman, and many a lady was mad for him, I know well, and not his fault either; and many a poor girl, too, because he was so pleasant. And no woman had ever cause to blame him or do anything but love him. Still, dear, Master Theobald's the husband for you. Isn't he young and bonny, like yourself? And Captain Cardew has a white head. He's old by you, Miss Bawn."

I remembered the old, childish days when she had been tenderer to me than Maureen, and she looked at me so wistfully that I could not be angry with her. Indeed, I could have almost wept, like the child of long ago, on her comfortable breast. And I was hardly vexed that she called Anthony Cardew old. What did it matter, since I loved him, and he would always, always be the finest gentleman in the world to me?

I kissed her and left her, promising to come again and to bring Miss Champion with me, and I drove back in the cab to St. Stephen's Green. At one moment my heart was heavy because Captain Cardew was angry with me; and at another it was irrationally light, because he loved me and breathed the same air with me. Was it only a few hours ago since we had been almost strangers and I had believed him far away at the ends of the earth? And how the world had changed for him and for me since! To be sure, I had been unready, and I realized now that I had no address which should find him. But I could find out where he was. Why, any second I might meet him in these streets! And the mere possibility made them blossom like the rose. Men like Anthony Cardew did not easily hide themselves. I would find him, and the foolish misunderstanding would be cleared up. As for the other difficulties—what did they matter since we loved each other? I had that happy confidence in him that he would sweep through obstacles as a bright sword through a maze of thorns.

When I arrived at St. Stephen's Green, expecting to find my godmother sleeping or at least resting, I found her, to my amazement, up and bustling about, and her maid packing our trunks.

"Why, how long you have been, Bawn!" she said; "and I wanted you, child. We are going home this evening. There will be just time to catch the six o'clock express. Louise has packed for you, and we can dine in the train."

"But why, why?" I asked, cold dismay seizing on my heart.

"I will tell you presently. Poor Bawn—what a shame that your gaieties should be interrupted! I would leave you behind me, if I could. But perhaps we shall return."

She drew me to her and kissed me. Of course she could say no more, since Louise was in the room; but glancing at the dressing-table, which was now stripped of its pretty things in silver and tortoise-shell, a letter addressed in my grandmother's handwriting caught my eye. It must have come since I went out; and there must be something in it to explain our sudden departure.

"There is nothing wrong at Aghadoe, is there?" I asked, in sharp fear.

"I should have told you, Bawn, if there was. They are quite well."

I went out of the room into my own little room, where my trunks stood in the middle, locked and labelled. The letter must have come immediately after I had gone out. What could it contain that necessitated this hurried flight? I looked around the little room where I had been happy for a fortnight, and my eyes filled with tears. I had a feeling that I should not come back to it.

While I stood there, miserably, I heard a knock at the hall door, without attaching any significance to it. There was nothing left for me to do—everything had been done for me; so I sat down in my hat and jacket as I was, and gave myself up to a bitter regret. At the moment it seemed the hardest and cruellest thing in the world that I should be taken away from the place which held Anthony Cardew—where I might meet him at any moment—and, so far as I could see, since my grandparents were well, without adequate cause.

I had a sudden feeling as though they, as though my godmother, must know that I loved Anthony Cardew and that he loved me in return. Of course, it was impossible; but it seemed to be a foretaste of the opposition I should have to face; and, although I could face it for his sake, yet it struck me coldly that I should ever be in opposition to the will of those who loved me so tenderly.

There was a tap at the door, and the little maid of the house came in, with a sad face, to say that the cab was come.

"And, Miss Bawn," she added, "I found this in the letter-box for you, when I went to call the cab."

I took the letter from her hand and my heart gave a great leap. I had never seen my beloved's handwriting, but I had not a doubt that it was his. Ah, so he had not left me in suspense! He had written to me to tell me, surely, that he understood. He was not one to let a misunderstanding come between us. How fortunate it was that I had told him where we were! He must have left the letter himself. He had been so near me, and I had not known.

I put down the letter with an indifferent air till the little maid had left the room. When she had gone I snatched it up and was about to read it, when my godmother called me, and then I thrust it into my bosom unread. I placed it over my heart and it felt warm there. It brought me into touch with him, so that, after all, it was not so bitter to be going since I could write. And the very keeping back the reading of the letter was sweet.

I was able to face my godmother with a smiling face, although I've no doubt my eyes still bore the traces of tears.

"You are a dear child, Bawn," she said, lifting my face by the chin, and looking down into my eyes, "a dear child!"

I felt a hypocrite at her praises, for I had been in flat rebellion a little while before, and it was only the letter that had enabled me to lift up my heart; but her mind was too occupied for her to notice how my eyes fell and the guilty expression I must have worn.

A minute later we were in the cab, and I was watching the stream of people in the street eagerly to see if I might see Anthony Cardew's face among them. But I did not see any one at all resembling him.

And presently we were in the train and had a carriage to our two selves; and when the train had started my godmother took out of her handbag my grandmother's letter.

"I am going to let you read this, Bawn," she said, "for I think you are of an age now to be taken into our difficulties. I confess it puzzles me."



"My dearest daughter," the letter began; it was so my grandmother always addressed Mary Champion. "We are pleased with the fine accounts of how Bawn is enjoying herself and your gaieties and the old friends you have met. The house is very lonely without Bawn, and I miss your coming, and there has been no letter from Theobald since you went. Perhaps Bawn has had one. We seem to realize that we are old and our children dead and their children away from us, all at once."

The letter went on to talk of trivial and ordinary things, but my grandmother was bad at deception, and one felt that her thoughts were not in the things she told, but that they were written with an intention to conceal something. And at last the thin deception gave way.

"Mr. Dawson has been to see Lord St. Leger," ran the last paragraph. "He had some astounding news. And Mrs. Dawson has driven over to call, and we are to dine with them next week. I wish you were home, Mary. I want you to lean upon."

When I had read I turned amazed eyes on my godmother.

"The Dawsons!" I said. "And we used always to say that though every other house in the county were opened to the Dawsons, Aghadoe Abbey would shut its door in their faces."

"It shall shut its door," Mary Champion said indignantly. "He is frightening them because they are old and have no son to lean upon. Garret Dawson is an evil plotter and schemer, and there is blood and tears on his money. Aghadoe shall be safe from him."

"How can he have frightened them?" I asked. "They have never borrowed money from him."

The cloud deepened on my godmother's face.

"It must be something about Luke," she said. "But whatever it is, I will swear it is not true. Luke never did anything that would put his old father and mother in the power of Garret Dawson. He has frightened them because I was not there to protect them. I shall tear through his web of lies."

As she said it the light came to her eyes and the colour to her lips, and I wondered that any one could ever have thought her plain.

"So you see, Bawn," she said, as she took the letter from me and folded it up, "there was cause for our return. You know I would not take you away from your enjoyment without cause."

"Yes, I knew that," I said.

Indeed, when we reached Aghadoe my grandmother was so tremulous in her joy at seeing us, and she clung so to Mary Champion, that we might have been away two years instead of two weeks.

It was late when we arrived, and there was supper prepared for us; and while we ate it my grandfather sat in his chair by the window, where we could not see his face, and was silent. There was a gloom over the meal, a sense of trouble impending. It was not at all a joyful occasion as it ought to have been, since we had come back. My grandmother hovered about us uneasily, pressing this and that thing upon us, for she had bidden Neil Doherty to lock up and go to bed, saying that we could wait on ourselves, to his manifest indignation. And presently my grandfather got up, excused himself for being tired, and, having kissed my godmother and me on our cheeks, went away with a tired and uncertain step.

Something had happened. It was obvious that there was a sense of it in the faces of the old servants. Even Dido whimpered uneasily under my caressing hand.

My grandmother remembered to ask me if I had heard from Theobald, and it was only then, with a sense of shame, that I realized the absence of Theobald's letters and the fact that I had not noticed their absence. Why, I had not written to Theobald for several weeks past; but I did not dare to tell my grandmother so. Of course there were many reasons why Theobald should not have written. He was very gay in India, much in demand in his spare time for all sorts of entertainments.

"If there had been any serious reason for his not writing we should have heard fast enough, Gran," I said.

"Why, that is true, Bawn," she replied. "Still, where one loves one is unnecessarily anxious."

I felt the rebuke of her words, though I knew she had intended no rebuke, and made up my mind with a rush of compunction to write a long letter to Theobald in the morning.

Miss Champion was staying the night at Aghadoe; and I thought it would be well to leave her and my grandmother together that they might talk over things. Besides that, I had not yet read my letter and the moment was approaching when I might do so. And all at once my patience seemed to have given out, to be quite exhausted. So I took my bedroom candle and went.

When I had reached my own room I locked the door lest by any chance I should be disturbed; although that did not seem likely. I lit four candles and made quite an illumination in the great, dim room. Then I took the letter from where it had lain all day over my heart, and I set it on the table in the candle-light. I got into a loose gown and slippers with a kind of painful, yet sweet deliberation. Now that the moment had come for my joy I dallied with it.

My first love-letter! I realized all at once that Theobald's fond, boyish epistles had no real, man's love in them. I was only the dear companion, the sister, to him. I was sure of it, else I had been very unhappy.

Then I took the letter and held it to the candle-light with a throbbing heart. And this is what I read:

"My dear Miss Bawn,

"For a moment I forgot my white head and my years, and for that foolish presumption you must pardon me and never think less kindly of me. From your old servant's lips I learned the truth: that you had a lover of your own age, whom I pray God may be worthy of you. After all, since my dream of treasure here was but a dream, I have reconsidered my refusal, and shall join the expedition in search of mere earthly treasure. If we never meet again, think kindly of him who would die for you.

"Your faithful friend and servant, "Anthony Cardew."

I was like one who has had a blow and a bad one, and I felt a curious quietness steal upon me and numb me. Despite the sweet, warm air of the summer night I was cold. In the quietness I heard the Abbey clock strike twelve; I heard soft stirrings in the leaves outside; a thousand little sounds which I would not have noticed at another time, that were distinct in the stillness that had come upon me.

I went on making my preparations for bed as though nothing had happened. I omitted nothing, but all the time I felt as though I were somehow outside my body and knew the dull numbness of it as a thing apart.

When I was ready at last I unlocked the door so that the maid who came with my morning tea and my bath-water should not find it locked. Then I blew out the candles, and, taking the letter in my hand, I crept into bed.

That night I was awakened by the crying in the shrubbery outside which I had not heard for a long time, and I listened to it, cold in the darkness, till the cocks began crowing and then it ceased. I knew that the ghosts always came for trouble at Aghadoe, and I prayed hard that the trouble might be only mine and might spare the two dear old people. The thought of Theobald, and that I had not even noticed the absence of his letters, stung me sharply. What if harm should come to Theobald? As the cocks crew and the grey turned to blue and then to gold in the room, I lay staring up at the ceiling, praying that harm had not come to Theobald, that he might be well and happy although I must be miserable for ever.



The morning sun was in my room when I awoke and my godmother was by my bed.

"You have been crying in your sleep, Bawn," she said. "I thought I heard you several times during the night, but was not sure. Are you anxious about Theobald, child?"

"There is some trouble in the air," I said, turning away my head. "But I don't think it was I who cried."

"I would not say that to Lady St. Leger, Bawn," she said, lifting my face and making me look at her.

"It is not for a death," I said, "or we should have heard the coach."

"God forbid!" I noticed that her face had a new look of care since yesterday, that there were rings round her fine eyes as though she had not slept. "Yet it may be bad enough, although not for a death."

"What is it?"

"Why, Bawn, child, that is the strangest thing of all. You are no longer a child, Bawn, and I bring my burden to you to lighten it by sharing. They will not tell me what the trouble is."

"Not tell you!"

I was amazed. For so long I had known Mary Champion as the stay and support of my grandparents that I could hardly believe there was anything they would keep from her.

"They will not tell me," she repeated. "Your grandmother says that it is Lord St. Leger's will that I am not to be told. It is something they must endure together. I know it is something about Luke. If they will not tell me I shall go and ask Garret Dawson why he is frightening them and with what."

"Grandpapa would never forgive you," I said.

The shadow fell deeper on her face.

"I know he would not," she said. "Must I wait for them to speak, then, lest I should do harm?"

"I think you must wait for them to speak."

"If it was a mere matter of money"—she wrung her hands together in a way which in a person of her calm, benignant temperament suggested great distress—"if it were a mere matter of money, I would sell Castle Clody—yes, every stick and stone of it. But I think it is more than money. I shall ask Lord St. Leger to tell me. It is not fair that I, who ought to have been Luke's wife and their daughter, should be kept in the dark."

She went away and left me then, and I got up and dressed with a heavy heart, which all the chorus of the birds and the sweet green of the trees and grass and the delicious scents and sounds outside could not charm from its heaviness.

At breakfast, although my godmother did her best, talking about old friends we had met in Dublin and delivering their messages to Lord and Lady St. Leger, and although I tried to do my part, the gloom was as marked as the gloom last night. My grandfather and grandmother sat side by side at the round table, and now and again they looked at each other like people who were absorbed in grave anxieties to the exclusion of what went on about them.

I thought that my grandfather had, all of a sudden, begun to show his age. He was not so far from eighty, but hitherto he had been hale and active, so that one would have credited him with many years less. But now he seemed shaky and tremulous, as my grandmother had been last night. His blue eyes had a film of trouble over them, as I remembered to have seen them when I was a child and there was the trouble about Uncle Luke. I had noticed it then with a childish wonder, although I had forgotten about it till now.

After breakfast he went out to the garden with my grandmother and walked up and down with her on the terrace in the sun.

"I am going to see if they will not tell me, Bawn," my godmother said presently, standing up. "And I shall not rest till I have found out. Garret Dawson will find it a very different thing to frighten me. Your grandfather is very old, Bawn, or this would not have happened."

She went after them, and I saw her take an arm of each and go down the garden with them, they leaning on her.

When they were out of sight I went into the library to write my letter to Theobald, taking the blotting-pad and pen and ink and paper to my favourite seat in the oriel. There presently my godmother found me. I was getting on but slowly with the letter, for my unhappy thoughts were grinding upon each other like the stones of a quern, trying to find a solution of something that could not be solved.

"Lord St. Leger would do everything but tell me the whole truth," she said. "Poor souls! They think I ought not to be told evil of Luke, as though I were not the one to say that I did not believe it. There is something of money in it, but there is worse than money. What is one to do in this darkness? They don't see how cruel it is to me, to keep me in the dark. I have to be patient with them because they are so old."

Then she stooped and kissed me.

"I must go back to Castle Clody now," she said. "I wonder how my baby has done without me? She does worse without me than she thinks."

I had heard her before call her cousin her baby, and indeed it was true that Miss Joan depended on her for everything.

Then her eye fell on my letter, and she asked me if I were writing to Theobald; and when I answered her that I was she put her hand on my head and told me not to be anxious about Theobald, because she was sure he was all right and that a letter was only delayed.

"Don't lose your beauty-sleep any more, Bawn," she said, "for I am sure there is a letter on its way. All this has spoilt your looks since yesterday."

As the day went on it grew very hot. All the windows were open, without making the room cooler; there was a sleepy sound of insects in the grass outside. Bees droned in and out of the window. White clouds sailed across the sky; and a soft, warm wind rustled the leaves with a sound like rain upon them.

I remember closing my eyes and leaning my head against the window-shutter. I suppose I was tired after the wakefulness of the night. Anyhow, I must have fallen asleep and slept a couple of hours.

When I began to wake the sky had become gloomy and overcast, but it was as hot as ever, and there was some one talking close at hand, a low, quiet talking which at first mixed with my dreams and was a part of them.

Presently I recognized the fact that I must have fallen asleep over the letter to Theobald, and also that the voice, the voices, near me were those of my grandfather and grandmother.

I had no intention to eavesdrop, but I was drowsy and for a moment or two I nodded again.

"But why should Luke have borrowed money from Jasper Tuite?" my grandmother said. "He could have had what he liked from us."

"He had as handsome an allowance as I could afford to give him," my grandfather said, "and he knew that he could have come to me in a difficulty."

"And why should Garret Dawson spring it on us at this time of day?" my grandmother went on. "Why should he frighten us with it now that we are old, and have no son to lean upon?"

"Because he wants the money, and I wonder he has gone without it so long. And also because we have not opened our doors to him nor accepted his invitations. He is determined that we shall assist at his triumph."

"And we must do it?"

"We must do it, else he will publish the boy's disgrace."

"And must Bawn go with us, Toby?"

"Yes; we have to do it thoroughly. The invitation included Bawn. She will not feel it as we shall; and she knows nothing of our cause for unhappiness."

"She does not look over-happy," my grandmother said, and sighed. "I wish Theobald were home and that they were married."

"Poor Theobald! poor boy! We have placed him in Garret Dawson's power. When you and I are gone, Theobald and Bawn will be homeless, unless we can propitiate this man to spare them; and I have heard it said that Garret Dawson has as much mercy in his heart as a tiger. But I had to sign, dear; you know I had to sign."

"My poor Toby, I know!"

A silence followed; I did not dare to stir, to betray my presence. But presently they got up and went away, and when I heard the slow steps die away in the distance I went out by the open window to ponder over what I had heard.



I went away to that glade in the wood of happy memories to think things out, and dropped down there amid the flowers of which it was full, with my eyes fixed on the wood-anemones and violets without seeing them.

Troubles were coming, indeed, so thick and fast that my mind was in a confusion. I did not know whether to tell my godmother or not what I had overheard. She had a straight way of going to the root of things. Supposing that she did as she had threatened, and went to Dawson himself for the truth, might she not exasperate him into making public the thing which had so much power to frighten Lord and Lady St. Leger? I had gathered that there was disgrace hanging over us, disgrace, and homelessness for Theobald and me. Aghadoe Abbey was dear to us as flesh and blood. Was it possible that it could pass away from us into the possession of the Dawsons? Why, I would a thousand times rather that fire had it and that it should be consumed to ashes.

It should have been a small thing by comparison that my grandfather had said I was to go to the Dawsons' dinner-party, but I had so violent an aversion to going that the matter really bulked large in the list of troubles. I should not mind so much if Richard Dawson were not present, and of course it might be that already he had found us too dull and had gone away on his wanderings.

But this little hope of mine was destined very soon to be extinguished.

I have not said that old Dido was with me, but, since she was my constant companion this was to be expected. She had followed me to the glade, and was lying with her head on the end of my skirt, at peace, since she was with me. Away from me or my grandmother or Miss Champion she would whimper and shiver like a lonely old ghost in a world of living things.

Suddenly as I sat there, thinking, she crept close to me with a low growl. I had not heard a sound except the songs of the birds and the stir of the south wind in the leaves that was like the placid flowing of waters. I put my hand on her head and she bristled under my hand, but she was quiet. She would always be quiet with my hand upon her head.

I wondered if it were a wild cat or a weazel or a stoat that had so excited her. But I was not long in suspense. There came a murmur of voices and a man's laugh. Then there were footsteps. I had a vague alarm. Who could it be that walked in our woods and set Dido bristling? She was a gentle creature and knew her friends; and the people about were all kind and friendly to "Master Luke's" old dog.

I threw a fold of my skirt over her head to keep her from hearing, and, with my hand on her collar, I moved as close as I could to the leafy screen that separated the glade from the wood-path.

There was a couple coming up the path; presently they were in my view, and I saw to my grief and amazement that the man was Richard Dawson—I had known it, indeed, from the first—and the girl who walked with him was Nora Brady, the pretty little girl who had interested me at Araglin Creamery. Richard Dawson walked with his arm about her. She was looking up at him as though she adored him. Just as they passed he bent his head and kissed her and again I heard him laugh. The laugh made me hate him, if possible, more than ever.

I guessed that they had come in by the postern gate and would return that way, and I did not dare to stir till they had come back again. They did not, however, take so long. They came back again very soon, whispering as they had gone; and as soon as I judged it safe I left the glade and hurried home as fast as ever I could resolving to have the postern gate bolted so that Richard Dawson should not dare to come into our woods, and resolving also to see and speak with Nora Brady as soon as ever I had a chance. Perhaps, indeed, she would not listen to me, but I could only do my best.

As it happened, my opportunity came sooner than I had expected; for it was only next day that I met her coming with a basket of eggs to the Abbey.

She dropped me a curtsey and would have passed on, but I stopped her. We were all alone in the wide avenue, as much alone to all intents and purposes as we could have been anywhere. I went straight to the point, feeling the painfulness of having to speak and doing it as directly as possible.

"Nora," I said, "I am only a girl like yourself, so don't be frightened of me. I always thought you a good girl, Nora, but I saw you walking yesterday in the wood with Mr. Dawson of Damerstown, and you were like lovers, and that ought not to be so unless you are going to marry him."

"Oh, Miss Bawn!"

Poor Nora's face was covered with confusion, and I am sure I blushed as hotly as she did, yet I was conscious of a cold, shrinking feeling from this courtship between her and Richard Dawson which I was sure could lead to no good.

"It isn't right, Nora," I said.

"God help me! I know that, Miss Bawn," she said, looking at me with frightened eyes. "I've tried to give it up; I've tried to resist him, but I can't. There's something stronger than myself that drives me to him. I love him, Miss Bawn, so I do; and I can't help it that he's a rich gentleman and I'm only a poor girl. If you ever loved any one yourself, Miss Bawn, you'd know."

"I do know, Nora," I said. I knew that if Anthony Cardew lifted his finger to me I would follow him over the world. "I do know. But it can only end in misery, unless Mr. Dawson were willing to marry you."

"He has never said a word about marriage. But you mustn't think he's bad, Miss Bawn. 'Tis my own fault, for I love him so much, and he can't help seeing it. But he's never said a word he mightn't say to a lady. There's the kissing——"

"Yes, there's the kissing. It oughtn't to be, Nora." As I said it I felt what a poor hypocrite I was, for I could never have resisted Anthony Cardew if he had wished to kiss me, never, never, no matter what trouble or misery it involved. "You ought to go away, Nora, out of the reach of temptation. There is no one dependent on you; no one for whose sake you need dread to go. The only thing would be to go away."

"I've thought of it, Miss Bawn, but sure, if he wanted me I'd only have to come back."

There was something in her voice that frightened me; it sounded so hopeless, so without any capacity for resistance.

"My aunt is own maid to Lady Garmoy," she went on. "She could get me a place in her ladyship's household, under herself. I might go, but, Miss Bawn, I'd never know the day nor the hour he mightn't draw me back to him. All the same, you mustn't think me a bad girl, Miss Bawn. It isn't right for him or for me; sure, I know it isn't. I can't say my prayers as I used to. But if I went among strangers I couldn't tell the day or the hour it 'ud be too much for me, and I'd be stealing out of the house and taking the train back. It isn't as if there was some one I could tell, some one that would hold me, that I could run to when the fit was on me."

"Nora," I said, with a sudden thought, "how would it be if you were to come to me? My grandmother will let me have a maid of my own when I want one. Come to me, and Bridget Connor will teach you your duties, and you will have the little room off mine to sit and sew in. You need never go outside the Abbey gates if you do not care to. The place is big enough to walk about in. And if you are hard pressed you can run to me, Nora. You will feel that I am just a girl like yourself, and will not be afraid. And I shall hold your hands till the danger is past."

"May the Lord reward you, Miss Bawn!"

"Then I may speak to Lady St. Leger?"

"I shall love to be with you, Miss Bawn. Sure, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you. He'll never know where I am, no more than if I'd slipped off to my aunt at Lady Garmoy's. I need never be leaving the Abbey unless to go to Mass on a Sunday, and he'll never know anything about that. 'Tis for his sake as much as my own. 'Tisn't right that he should be making love to a poor girl."

I stooped down and kissed Nora on the cheek. It seemed incredible that Richard Dawson should have filled Nora's innocent heart with much the same feeling that I had for Anthony Cardew, but I said nothing. Who is to answer for such things?

"I will come back with you now and speak to Lady St. Leger," I said.



The day following that Nora became an inmate of Aghadoe. She had no relative nearer than an uncle, who had a houseful of children of his own, so that Nora's absence must be a relief in a manner of speaking; and my grandmother never refused me anything in reason. Nora was modest and dainty in her ways, and having been brought up by the nuns she was an excellent needlewoman, so that she had so much equipment for the post of my maid.

The day came round on which we were to dine at Damerstown. I had not meant to tell Nora that we were going there, but she discovered it from something my grandmother said when she came to my room, and I noticed that she sat with tightly compressed lips over her sewing that afternoon.

She had put out my dress for me by my orders. I had chosen the least becoming garment in my wardrobe, a black grenadine, very simply made, which belonged to my schoolgirl days. It was high to the neck and had elbow sleeves, and the cut was old-fashioned. I wished to look my worst at Damerstown, although I was forced to go there by my grandfather's will.

It was nearly time for me to dress when my grandmother came into the little room, where I was sitting watching Nora as she sewed a little tucker of old lace into the neck of the garment.

"What are you going to wear, Bawn?" she asked.

"This." I indicated the grenadine.

"It will never do, Bawn," my grandmother said, shaking her head. "We are to do honour to our hosts. I am wearing my moire and my diamonds. If you were to appear in this your grandfather would send you back to change."

"I should have thought it good enough for the Dawsons," I said, with a little heat; and then I remembered Nora's presence, and also that my grandparents were frightened of the Dawsons and anxious to propitiate them, and I was sorry.

"What would you like me to wear, Gran?" I asked.

"Your white silk with the Limerick lace."

"Why, I shall be like a bride," I said aghast, for the white silk was one of my godmother's gifts to me, and the finest gown I possessed. When she had given it to me she had said that I should dance in it at a Castle ball.

"Never mind," my grandmother said. "Your grandfather wishes it, child. And you are to wear the pearls. I am going to send Bridget Connor to dress your hair. Nora can do the rest." She turned to smile kindly at Nora. "See you look your best, child. It is your grandfather's will."

Bridget Connor piled my hair in soft, cloudy masses on the top of my head. In and out through the coils she wound a string of my grandmother's pearls. Then she went away, and Nora took her place and helped to dress me.

The white silk had lain by for many a year and was somewhat yellowed, but the richer for that. Louise in adapting it had altered its character but little. It was short in the waist and somewhat narrowly cut, straight and demure all round till it ended in a little train at the back. It was almost swathed in the most beautiful old Limerick lace, through which the rich ivory tints of the silk showed. My grandmother's pearls went three times round my neck before they fell loosely on my bodice.

When I looked at my reflection in the long mirror I confess my splendour rather dazzled me. If only it had been for Anthony Cardew's eyes! But I hated that I should appear so fine to do honour to the Dawsons, and I dreaded more than ever meeting Richard Dawson's insolent gaze.

I wondered how he would take it when he saw me and recognized me for the peasant girl he had insulted. Would he be abashed, confused? I thought he must be; and the one pleasant thing in what was going to befall me was that I should see his discomfiture.

"Miss Bawn, you look as if you'd just come out of heaven," Nora said fervently, as she watched me drawing on my lace mittens.

"I don't feel like it, Nora," I replied, "nor as if I were going there either."

At the last moment something of my grandmother's could not be found, so that we were delayed and arrived at Damerstown on the stroke of eight.

My neighbour at the dinner-table told me afterwards that Mr. Dawson had fidgeted over our late arrival. I thought I could see it in the look of relief with which he came to meet us, and the evident flurry of poor Mrs. Dawson, who was looking fatter than ever in a very tight-fitting, plum-coloured satin, and hotter than ever, despite the incessant waving of her fan.

The long, splendid drawing-room was full of very gaily-dressed ladies, much bejewelled, and many men whose looks did not prepossess me. When I had sat down, under cover of my grandmother, in a chair a little retired behind hers, I looked about me with some dread, and I was glad to recognize the friendly face of Sir Arthur Ardaragh, who came up to us with a cordial greeting. He did not look at all at home among the Dawsons' friends, and I wondered how Lady Ardaragh had persuaded him to come.

For a moment I did not see Lady Ardaragh anywhere, but presently her uplifted voice told me where she was, and looking down I caught a glimpse of her pretty shoulders showing rosily out of a pale green frock. She was talking to some one; I could not see who it was for the moment.

I had not yet seen Richard Dawson; and as my eye went from one to the other of the gentlemen without seeing him, I began to be almost hopeful that he was not there.

Sir Arthur Ardaragh was talking to my grandmother and to Mrs. Dawson, who plainly was too much absorbed by the anxieties of the occasion to hear much of what he was saying. She kept looking with an air of trepidation at her husband who was being effusively polite to my grandfather.

There were only ourselves and the Ardaraghs present of the county-people. The other guests were staying at Damerstown or had come from a distance; they were very fashionable, but I did not like the very low dresses and the loud talk of the ladies, nor the tired, cynical-looking men. Every one of the men, old and young, wore the same expression. I have seen its like since at a foreign Casino, where I watched the baccarat.

The groups broke up as dinner was announced. Mr. Dawson gave his arm to my grandmother. I waited, wondering who might fall to my lot. Then from the group which had been about Lady Ardaragh's chair came—Richard Dawson. He had an air as though he came but half willingly.

Mrs. Dawson, who was going in with my grandfather, turned to me in a great flurry.

"My son will have the honour to take you in, Miss Devereux," she said. The words sounded as though they had been learnt off by heart.

Then Richard Dawson looked at me; and I saw the stupefaction in his eyes. I looked back at him, a direct glance of hatred, as I put my finger-tips gingerly on his sleeve.

"So!" he said in a whisper—"so! What a trick for Fate to play me! And I have been wondering where on earth you had disappeared to. Can you ever forgive me?"

"Never!" I answered, as I went down the marble staircase side by side with him.



The memory of that long, dragging, magnificent meal is like a nightmare to me. I loathed it all, the vulgar display of gold plate—I heard afterwards who it was that Garret Dawson had cheated out of it—the number of men-servants, the exotic flowers that made the room sickly, the fruits out of their season.

We are simple people and not accustomed to such banquets; but I was surprised to see how greedy some of the ladies were over the turtle soup, the ortolans and truffles, all the fine things which must have been brought from far off for the dinner. There was an incessant popping of champagne corks, and I wondered at the frequent refilling of the glasses. I did not drink wine—my grandmother did not consider it becoming in a girl—and it seemed the hardest thing in the world to procure a glass of water, judging by the delay in bringing it when I asked for it.

Lady Ardaragh sat nearly opposite to us. I noticed that she was very flushed and her eyes bright, and that she chattered and laughed a great deal.

I had made up my mind that I would not speak to Richard Dawson, although I was forced to sit by him, and that was a contact which I found most detestable. But he would talk to me and sit close to me, and once when I had turned away from him and addressed Sir Arthur Ardaragh, who was on the other side of me, I caught my grandmother's eye on me with a look of appeal.

I wished my godmother had been there. She had been invited to the dinner, but she would not go nor consent to be civil to the Dawsons. Nor would she believe that there was anything about Uncle Luke which might not come into the light of day.

"And if there could be," she said proudly, "I would rather it was told than go in terror of the Dawsons. I had as lief trust the world as them any day."

After that glance of my grandmother I did not turn away again from Richard Dawson, much as I detested his closeness and his breath upon my cheek. I thought the dinner would never be over. As it went on I could not but feel that he was making himself and me conspicuous. He drank a good deal of wine, and the more he drank the more he leant to me and tried to look into my eyes, so that I felt thoroughly sick and ashamed. I could have pushed him away with both hands, but that was not possible in the publicity of a dinner-table. He whispered in my ear, he leant to me, he behaved as an infatuated lover, and presently it seemed to me that my fellow-guests smiled here and there and looked significant. Lady Ardaragh talked more than ever to the blase-looking young lord who was her neighbour and her colour was heightened. Her witticisms came to me across the table, or a portion of them, and I thought she was saying wild, unbecoming things. I was sure I saw Sir Arthur wince when I turned to him. But it was all too much of a nightmare to myself to be greatly concerned about the feelings of others, even those I liked very much.

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