The Story of Bawn
by Katharine Tynan
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Neil Doherty came rushing in. He must have been at the door to have heard the fall. He took my grandfather in his arms like a baby—it struck me sharply that he must have grown thin and light for Neil to lift him so easily—and put him on the couch.

"Whisht, your Ladyship, whisht!" he said to my grandmother. "Fetch me a drop o' water and a sponge, Miss Bawn. The cut's not a deep one. There's nothin' wrong with his Lordship, and we needn't frighten the life out o' him, wirrasthruin', when he comes back to himself. Don't tell any of the women, Miss Bawn."

I got him the water as quickly and quietly as I could, and Neil washed the blood away. The cut proved, indeed, not to be serious; but it seemed an age before my grandfather's eyes opened and he looked from Neil's face to my grandmother's.

"Have I been ill?" he asked.

"Just a bit of a wakeness, your Lordship," Neil said. "But sure, you're finely now."

I did not dare come near, but waited out of sight, dreading the time when my grandfather should remember. Presently I heard him ask for me.

"Is Bawn there?" he asked. "Where are you, child?"

I came forward and Neil withdrew. I heard the library door close behind him.

"Poor little Bawn!" my grandfather said tenderly, "poor little Bawn! We must bear whatever there is to come together, we three. God would not have this child sacrificed. I see now what a coward I was."

"Never a coward, Toby, never a coward," my grandmother cried out piteously, kissing his hand.

My grandfather put out his arm and drew me close to him.

"We must bear it together, we three," he said.



We had dinner in the little black-panelled room off the hall, Neil waiting on us with a great assiduity. Now that the worst had happened and my grandfather's pride and courage had risen to meet it, it seemed to me that he looked better than he had looked for many months. To be sure he was very pale, but he had a look of resolution which became him, instead of the cowed and burdened look he had worn of late.

I remember that there were pheasants on the table and my grandfather asked where they had come from. There had been a constant shower of delicacies rained on us from Damerstown, and we should have grown sybarites if we had cared about such things. Neil, as though he understood, answered him that they had been shot in our own woods, and added that the fine peaches and grapes which were in a dish on the table were from our own houses. I was not sure it was true. We didn't grow peaches even in a hothouse in December; but I let it pass, and my elders were too engrossed in their thoughts to notice.

Once or twice I saw that the old couple held each other's hands below the table-cloth, and I felt that as long as they were together they could bear anything.

My grandfather ate a little of a pheasant's breast, and my grandmother followed his example; but though we made a show of eating it did not amount to very much. As for me, a curious sense of expectancy seemed to have taken possession of my mind, to the exclusion of other things. I could hardly say at what moment it had begun; but it grew till I was, in a manner of speaking, heady with it. We sat there very quiet, but all the time I was listening, not only with the ears of my body but with the ears of my heart.

After dinner Neil cleared away the dinner-things and removed the cloth. My grandmother bade him replenish the fire, and he went away and returned with a great armful of logs.

I guessed that my grandmother felt that in here we were out of sight of the preparations for the wedding which were going on everywhere else in the house.

Neil left the wine and the fruit on the table, stirred up the fire, and went away.

My grandparents sat in their chairs either side of the fireplace, I in the middle at first; but presently I changed places with my grandmother, and she sat holding Lord St. Leger's hand in hers while the firelight leaped up showing their old, careworn, troubled faces, which yet had a look of love and new peace in them.

Presently my grandfather fell asleep, and we talked in whispers, my grandmother and I. She still held his hand, and her eyes kept watching with a tender anxiety his pale face, almost as pale as a dead face, against the green velvet of the chair.

"He sleeps quietly, Bawn," she said. "He has not slept well of late."

"None of us has slept well," I said.

"It has almost broken our hearts, child, to be so cruel to you. I don't believe we have had a happy hour since it was settled. We have lain awake till cock-crow, night after night."

I had it in my mind to ask her if she had heard the ghosts, but she had never liked the talk about the ghosts, and, remembering that, I was silent.

"We ought to have faced it out," she went on. "As I said to Lord St. Leger, if the disgrace was there, there was no doing away with it, even though only Garret Dawson knew it. Mary always said she would not believe dishonour and deliberate misdoing on Luke's part. I ought to have had her faith."

"It is not too late," I said. "Let Garret Dawson publish his news! We shall see what he has to tell."

"But there is no disproving it, for Luke is dead and gone."

"On your own reasoning, dearest Gran," I said. "If we will not believe in Uncle Luke's disgrace then there is no disgrace for us. We shall only take it that Garret Dawson bears false witness. Who would believe Garret Dawson against Luke L'Estrange?"

"Ah, but you have lost your lover, my poor Bawn," she said tenderly. "You have lost Theobald, and this old house will pass away from you and him. It is all mortgaged and there is Luke's debt."

"Let it go," I said, wincing. "But as for Theobald, never fret about that, Gran. We were only brother and sister, too close to become closer."

"I think the wedding has turned Maureen's head," my grandmother went on fretfully. "I found her setting Luke's room in order. She would have it that he was coming home from school by the hooker from Galway. She has made his bed and put his room in order and she asked me at what hour she should light his fire."

"She is always madder at the full moon," I said.

"To-morrow morning we will send for Mary. She will help us to bear it. When I think of her faith I wonder that I should have had so little."

"I believe you are happier," I said wonderingly.

"I feel as though I had passed out of the hands of men into the hands of God," she replied, caressing my hair with her disengaged hand, for I had left my chair to sit down on the hearthrug by her.

Again I had that strange, acute sense of listening; but there was a storm outside, and the wind cried in the chimney and rattled the windows, and a branch of a tree tapped against the shutters—that was all.

"While your grandfather lives you will not be homeless," she said: "and who knows but that Theobald may be able to clear off the mortgages?"

My grandfather slept peacefully, as though he needed sleep; and now we talked and now we were silent, and the night wore on.

We could not move for fear of disturbing him. Dido came and lay on the rug beside me, and slept with her chin resting on my foot. I think my grandmother dozed a little and the fire went low for I was afraid to stir to replenish it. The old dog moaned and whimpered in her sleep, and my grandmother came out of her doze to say that she had been dreaming of Luke; and nodded off again.

I heard Neil Doherty bolt and bar the hall door on his way to bed and I knew then that it must be eleven. There were many things to think of. To-morrow the preparations for the wedding must all be put a stop to. The presents must be returned. There was so much to be done, so many things to be cancelled. I wondered when and how Garret Dawson's blow would fall. He was one to seek an opportunity of doing it publicly. That it would fall I had no doubt. There was no relenting behind that face of granite.

Well, for to-night the old souls might sleep. To-morrow there would be Mary Champion to stand by them. I did not yet dare to think of the joy that was coming to me from over the world. It would be another blow to them that I loved Anthony Cardew.

Also through my thoughts there came the face of Richard Dawson, and I wondered if he was somewhere out in the night. I did not feel that the house to which he was to have brought me a bride could contain him that night. What was he doing? Where had he gone for consolation? My pity for him and my remorse were great.

A coal fell out of the fire with a sudden noise, and the displaced coals fell in, sending up a big shower of sparks. The storm was at its height. It seemed to shake the solid house. And suddenly my grandmother awoke.

"Bawn, Bawn," she said, "I dreamt that your grandfather was dead and it was terrible."

At the moment my grandfather opened his eyes.

"I am very tired," he said—"very, very tired and old. If Luke is coming he ought to be here soon. Why is he not here to protect us?"

There came a sound above the crying of the wind. My grandmother had been leaning tenderly over her husband who seemed to have sunk back into his sleep; now she looked at me with a piteous terror. The wind soughed and died away, and in the pause we heard them plainly, wheels on the gravel outside that stopped at the door.

"It is the death-coach," my grandmother said. I rather saw than heard her say it, for her pale lips seemed incapable of speech.

"No, no," I cried. "It is nothing of the sort. It is the messenger I am expecting. I have been listening for him all the evening. Be quiet! He is coming for good: to help us."

But she did not seem to hear me. She had thrown both her arms about my grandfather, as though to ward off what was coming. The action awoke him, and he stood up tall and commanding as I remembered him of old, as I had not seen him for many a day.

"What is the matter, Maeve?" he asked. "You are with me. There is nothing to fear."

I noticed that the wound had opened, and his white hair was stained with blood.

"It is the death-coach," cried my grandmother.

"What matter, if it comes for both of us?" he said.

"It is not the death-coach," I cried. "It is a friend, some one come to our help. Look at Dido! She would be frightened if it were the death-coach. See how she listens!"

Above the crying of the storm there came a tremendous rat-tat on the knocker of the hall door.



My grandfather made a step or two towards the door, but my grandmother, who seemed distraught with terror, would not let him go, but clung to him the closer. Dido had gone to the door of the room and was barking to get out. She was running up and down in a frenzy of impatience. The tremendous knocking still went on above the noise of the wind.

"It is absurd," I cried, trying to make my grandmother hear; "did any one ever know the death-coach to come knocking at the door?"

But she was too terrified to hear me. So I let her be, and, snatching one of the candles from the table, I went out into the hall. I knew quite well that I should not be able to draw back the heavy bolts, but, while I looked at them helplessly, half-deafened by the incessant knocking of the great iron knocker on the oak door, old Neil came down the stairs muttering, as was his way.

"First I thought it was a ghost," he said, "but no ghost ever knocked like that. God send he brings good news, whoever he is! Glory be to God, he's in a divil of a hurry to get in."

I held my candle for him to see, and the knocking ceased while he undid the bolts. Dido was whining and running up and down impeding him, and I heard him say that he'd kick her if it wasn't that she was already afflicted with blindness, the creature, and was Master Luke's dog. Now that the silence had come we heard the rain driven in torrents against the fanlight above the hall door.

At the moment the bolt fell I glanced behind me. My grandfather and grandmother had come out into the hall: his arm was about her with a protecting tenderness. There was a huddle of women-servants in all sorts of undress, peeping from the back hall. In front of them, pushing them back, was Maureen, her shoulders covered with a shawl upon which her grey hair fell loosely.

The door burst open as soon as the bolt fell, and there was a rush of wind and rain, and my candle went out. I saw a tall figure against the stormy sky where the moon looked through the fast-driven clouds.

"God save us, what a night!" the new-comer said, entering and closing the door behind him; and it took all his strength to close it.

"Bring lights, bring lights," I cried; and ran to my grandfather to whisper to him to take my grandmother back into the room lest the sudden joy should be too much for her. For I had seen old Dido leap on to the stranger with a frantic joy, licking his face and hands; or I had known that it was so without seeing it, for the hall was in darkness.

Some one brought a light, and I saw old Maureen leap at the tall stranger as Dido had done and fling her arms about him, crying out for her Ladyship, where was her Ladyship, for Master Luke had come home.

And after that everything was confusion for a few minutes, and I can scarcely remember what happened in the babel of voices all crying out and rejoicing at once.

"See that the horse is put up for the night and that the man has food and shelter," I heard Uncle Luke say to Neil.

Then he, Uncle Luke, passed through the affectionate crowd that seemed as if it would eat him with joy. I saw him go to his father and mother, put an arm about each and pass within the little room, and there after a moment I followed them.

They were all three standing on the hearthrug when I came in, and Uncle Luke had one arm about his mother and the other thrown across his father's neck.

"So this is little Bawn," he said, letting them go, and coming forward to meet me. "So this is little Bawn."

I should have known his blue eyes and smile anywhere, I thought, although his hair was as if dust had been sprinkled over it, and there were deep lines in the face I remembered as being very merry. I had a passing wonder that in this moment he remembered my existence or recognized me, for Lord and Lady St. Leger were still dumb or inarticulate with joy, and could not have spoken of me.

"Yes, I am Bawn," I said, lifting my face to kiss him. "I am so glad you have come home, Uncle Luke."

"I should have come long ago," he said. "Yet, thank God, I come in time. I have messages for you, little Bawn, to be delivered later."

So he, he of all people, was Anthony's messenger!

He put his arm about me and we returned to the old couple by the fire.

"We were kept back by the storm," he said. "Oh, how I fretted and fumed lest I should arrive too late! And Mary Champion, how is she? Is she maid or wife or widow?"

"She never married, for your sake, Uncle Luke," I said, speaking up boldly. "You will see her to-morrow morning."

Then I saw that he still wore his heavy cloak, and I made him take it off; and he put his mother in one chair and his father in another and sat down between them, and I came and sat on the rug at their feet.

"We thought you were dead," his father said, looking at him with an air of beatitude.

"I never did," said the mother. "And Maureen did not. Nor did Mary Champion. Luke, Luke, why did you stay away so long?"

"Because I thought I was best dead, little mother. Because I thought I should have to stand my trial for murder if I came back. I have lived in the waste places of the world since I left you, or I must have known. I say waste places, yet they are beautiful, fruitful places of the earth; only there are few white men there and those adventurers. For beauty and kindliness it was the Garden of Eden; but there has never been a day when I was not sick for Aghadoe."

"And how did you know at last?" his father asked. His mother could only look at him with shining eyes.

"Why, some one came from these parts to enlighten my blindness. He was hunting for treasure. I knew where the treasure lay, twenty fathoms deep, in a little bay of an island in the South Seas. What use was treasure to me since I could not come home? I have known murder and worse done over treasure. I knew it was there, and I let it be. The gentle, brown people of the islands had no use for it. It would only have brought in lawless and desperate men to disturb the peace of that Garden of Eden. Now it makes me a rich man. It makes him in whose charge I have left it a rich man. He will bring home the treasure. Like me, he thinks of it only as a means to an end."

"You will be able to pay the mortgage," my grandfather said, with an air of immense relief.

Then he seemed to remember something; and he cried out suddenly that Garret Dawson held an I.O.U. which Uncle Luke had given to Sir Jasper Tuite for five thousand guineas.

"He said it would hang you," the poor old man went on, sobbing and stumbling in his speech, "because, of course, it would prove that you had a motive for shooting Jasper Tuite. He said other things, dreadful for a father and mother to hear."

"But you did not believe them!" Uncle Luke said. "You did not believe them! I did owe Jasper Tuite five thousand guineas. It was a card debt. I should have known better than to play with a man of his reputation; but I repaid it, every penny. I have his receipt for it. What else, father?"

"That there was a girl, a girl whom—I should not speak of such things in Bawn's presence and your mother's—whom you had wronged. She had been on the stage in Dublin, and she accounted for your extravagance at that time. He said that Jasper Tuite came between you, tried to save the girl from you. He said it would be a pretty case to go before a jury, that you had cause, even more than the money, to hate Jasper Tuite and wish him out of the way."

"And you believed it?"

I saw Lord St. Leger cower, and I said out of my pity and love for him—

"Uncle Luke, he is old, and you had left him He could not disprove the things even if he did not believe them."

Uncle Luke's face changed. He looked down at his father.

"We will give him the lie together," he said; and then he noticed the blood on the white hair and was terrified, till we assured him it was nothing. "So little Bawn was the price of Garret Dawson's silence," he said; and then added solemnly that he could never have forgiven himself if the price had been paid.

At this point the door of the room was opened, and Neil Doherty, bowing on the threshold, announced that supper was served. And we remembered that Uncle Luke must be hungry, and his mother reproached herself, while he remembered for the first time that he had not eaten for many hours.

I don't know how Neil had managed it in the time, but the house was lit from top to bottom and the servants were standing in a line for us to pass through, all with happy faces. And Maureen stood at the head of them, as though she only had the right.

Uncle Luke gave his arm to my grandmother and I took my grandfather's, and we went up in state, with old Dido following us, to the dining-room, where supper was spread and all the silver plate was set out. There was a roaring fire in the grate and every candle in the big chandelier had been lit, and all was as though the coming of the heir had been long foreseen.

I do not think that in any house in the kingdom there was that night such joy and thanksgiving as in Aghadoe Abbey.



After a little while I went away and left them together.

Uncle Luke came with me to the dining-room door and lit my candle for me as though he had never gone away. When he had lit it he went with me outside the door, and, partly closing it, he said to me—

"Tell me, Bawn dear, did Mary Champion believe those lies?"

"She knew nothing of them," I answered. "They would not tell her the things Garret Dawson had said. But she would not have believed them. She was vexed with them for being afraid, because she said she never would believe that you had done anything which could bring disgrace on any one who loved you."

"My brave girl!" he said softly; and then he said to me with a smile that I had the handsomest and noblest gentleman in the world for a lover, and that my Anthony was coming to me as fast as he could and that they two were sworn brothers.

I ought to have slept the soundest and sweetest sleep in the world, especially as the storm had died down and the ghosts cried no longer and there seemed an atmosphere of peace and happiness over all the house. But I was disturbed in my dreams by the face of Richard Dawson, who had loved me so much to his own hurt and in my dream I was weeping.

The household was barely astir when I awoke next morning and there was a frosty air. I lay watching the window awhile as the dark gave place to dusk. It would be an hour yet before the sun should rise; and a maid came to light my fire and bring me my tea and my bath-water. But I was too excited to sleep, so I got up and dressed myself in the half light, and when I was ready I put on my outdoor things and went down the stairs. I met only a young maid sweeping the stairs with her brush and dustpan, and she looked at me as though she thought the joy had driven me mad.

"I shall be back to breakfast, Katty," I said. "It is a beautiful frosty morning for a walk."

"You're not going to walk in the dark, Miss Bawn?" she said, and stood staring after me over the banisters when I answered her that the sun would soon be up.

I liked the frosty keenness of the air, and this morning my heart was very light. Although it had rained so heavily in the night the frost had turned everything hard and stiff; but as I ran on my way down the long avenue, and heard the sleepy twittering of the birds, I could have sung for the new, healthy life that was in my veins. I had not gone far before the sun sent his golden rays above the horizon, and the blue came out in the sky overhead and it was day, and all at once the robins began to sing.

The early walk gave me a pleasant sense of adventure. I was on my way to Castle Clody, and was wondering if I should find my godmother up and how I would tell her the good news.

By the time I arrived there the whole lawn and the hedges were shining with the diamonds of the frost in the good golden light, and glancing up at my godmother's window I saw that her blind was up, and said to myself that she must be awake and about. Of course she was always an early riser, though she would have me lie late a-bed when I stayed with her, saying it was good for young people to sleep.

The doors and windows of Castle Clody were always open to the fresh air; and as I went in by the open hall door I saw my godmother coming down the stairs.

"Why, bless me, it is Bawn!" she said. "What brings you so early, child? There is no bad news, I trust. Your grandmother?"

"Was never better in her life. Godmother dear, so many things have happened that I do not know where to begin."

"Begin somewhere," she said, after one quick look at me, and led the way into the little room where we usually had our meals together. The fire was lit and the table set for breakfast, and the room looked very pleasant. "Dido is not with you," she said, closing the door behind us.

"No," I returned.

"And how is that, Bawn? How did she let you come alone?"

"As I came down the stairs in the dusk of the morning she lay on the mat outside Uncle Luke's door, and when I called to her to come she wagged her old tail and would not come. For the first time she would not follow me. Godmother dear, isn't it a strange thing that Maureen should have prepared his room yesterday, saying that he would be with us before night?"

"Bawn, Bawn," cried my godmother, very pale, "if you do not mean that Luke L'Estrange has come home I can never forgive you."

"And I should deserve not to be forgiven," I said. "He has come home."

"I knew he was not dead."

"He is alive and well, and one of the first inquiries he made was for you."

"Now they shall see," she said exultantly, and her lips curled, "how much truth there was in those slanders of Garret Dawson's. Dear old souls! why were they afraid? Why would they not let me challenge him?"

"They were not so foolish," I said. "He held papers. If Uncle Luke had not come home we could not have disproved them."

"And there is an end to your marriage?" she asked breathlessly.

I held out my hand to her. It no longer carried Richard Dawson's ring.

"He set me free last night," I said, "before we knew who was coming home. You must clear him in your thoughts, godmother. He never knew how his father had obtained our consent to the marriage. He was furious when he knew and he set me free. I wish I knew what had become of him."

"Don't trouble about him, child. Presently you will find a lover worthy of you."

I said nothing, but my heart leaped. I was a proud woman to think that Anthony Cardew loved me, and still I was grieved for the others.

"You will breakfast with me, child?" she went on.

"I am furiously hungry," I replied. "And afterwards—will you come back with me to Aghadoe?"

"I think not. If your uncle wants me he will find me here."

"I think he will see Garret Dawson first. He will not come to you till all that is cleared up."

"It need never be cleared for me. Whatever the story was, it is for me as though it never existed."

I made a most prodigious breakfast. I had no anxiety as to what they might think about my absence at Aghadoe; I felt they would know where I was.

I said no more to my godmother about returning with me. I felt she was right in waiting for Uncle Luke where she was, and I was sure he would go to her when he had confronted Garret Dawson and wrung the truth from him. But after breakfast, lest they should be waiting for me at Aghadoe, I returned home the way I had come, feeling as though I walked on air. I could have run and leaped, except when a thought came to me of Richard Dawson, and then my heart was suddenly heavy.

I entered the woods by the postern gate, and hurried along with a heart full of gratitude to the kind God who had brought good out of evil and had delivered us from our troubles.

Just at the edge of the wood some one stepped from one of the side paths full in my way. It was Richard Dawson, and I was amazed at the havoc the sufferings of one night had wrought in him.

"Don't be afraid of me, Bawn," he said. "I'm not here to trouble you, only there is something I want to give you. Here are those precious papers my father held. I have been waiting here for some chance messenger to take them. They are my gift to you. Let Lord St. Leger see that he has everything and then destroy them."

He held out a sealed packet to me and I took it.

"Everything is there," he said. "Henceforth we are as harmless as a snake that has had its poison-bag out. Think kindly of me, Bawn. I am going a long journey. I have had a scene with my father. He swears that not a penny of his money shall come to me. What matter? I shall do without it very well. Good-bye, Bawn."

"God-speed," I said, altering the word of farewell.

He turned round and came back to me.

"Nay, not God-speed," he said harshly. "God has little to do with such as I am."

And then he was gone.



I walked into the dining-room and found Uncle Luke at breakfast, with Lord and Lady St. Leger on each side of him, eating little themselves, but pressing one thing after another on him.

I felt a sense of a new alertness about the house. Although the old servants were faithful they had grown a little slipshod in their ways, seeing that it mattered little to their employers. Now things had suddenly assumed a swept and garnished air. One felt that the master had come home.

They all looked up at me with some expectation when I came in.

"Where have you been so early, Bawn?" my grandmother asked, while Uncle Luke came and set a chair for me and stood smiling at me; I was glad that in those waste places of the earth he had not forgotten those fine debonair ways which of old had made the women fall in love with him.

"I have been to Castle Clody," I answered.

"I thought as much. Why did not Mary come back with you? Was she transported at the good news?"

"She thought perhaps that Uncle Luke would——"

I paused for words. I had a feeling that even in this case, where I was sure that Uncle Luke cared for his old love, I should respect my godmother's dignity. Even Luke L'Estrange ought not to be sure that she expected him.

"I thought she would have come to rejoice with us," my grandmother said disappointedly; and my grandfather's face showed that he, too, did not understand the constant friend's absence in the hour of great joy.

"Is it that she cannot forgive us?" he muttered.

But the lover knew better than that.

"To be sure I must go to her," he said. "It would not be fitting that she should come to me. I would have been earlier astir than Bawn; I would have been waiting for her doors to open, only that—there is something that must be done first."

"I don't think there is anything you need wait for, Uncle Luke," I said, handing the sealed packet to my grandfather. "I met Richard Dawson on my way back. He was waiting for some one to carry his message. He told me that my grandfather was to examine these papers, to see that everything was there, and afterwards to burn them."

My grandfather seized the papers eagerly. His hand shook so that he could not open them, and he fumbled for his glasses.

"You have a son now, sir," said Uncle Luke, putting an arm about his shoulder.

They went away to the window to examine the papers, and for some time there was silence in the room. At last my uncle gathered the lot together and going to the fire placed them on top of it. They caught; and in a few seconds there was no trace of them.

"How little or how much of this Garret Dawson believed to be true I leave to his Maker," he said, turning about as the last ash went up the chimney. "For his son's sake I shall not try to punish him. I believe some of these letters were forged. I will show you one of these days letters from the girl I saved from Jasper Tuite. For that is how it was. She is an honoured wife and mother of children. It is one of the few things in my life of which I may be proud."

Afterwards he went away and we knew that he was gone to Castle Clody.

There was so much to be done and I had to do it all; Lord and Lady St. Leger could only be silent together, gazing into each other's eyes, praising God humbly for their son given back from the dead. I left them in the sunshine on the terrace creeping up and down, and as I looked back before I entered the house by the French windows of the morning-room, I recognized all at once that my grandmother had put off her black, and was wearing grey, with some of her old lace trimming it. It was a tabinet which I must have seen in my childhood. The memory of it was so remote that I felt as if I must have read about it; but I had an exact memory of the way it was made, which was billowing about the feet, and with a very straight bodice. While I looked at them she picked a rose from the wall and fastened it into her husband's coat.

I was busy till lunch-time, putting up packets and addressing them. When at last I went downstairs I found Uncle Luke and my godmother in the drawing-room. The years seemed to have slipped away from her. Her dear brown face was as shy and rapturous as the face of any young girl in love who knows she is beloved. They were standing by the fire when I went in.

My godmother had one foot on the fender and her hand supported her cheek. As I went up to her, I saw in the mirror that she was wearing a very beautiful ring of sapphires which I had noticed on Uncle Luke's hand.

She kissed me almost timidly, with her eyes down.

"She has taken me back again, Bawn," said Uncle Luke.

"He would not listen to me when I said I was too old," said my dear godmother.

In the dining-room Neil Doherty was bustling about with an air of great importance. Lord and Lady St. Leger had not yet come in.

"Sure, it never rains but it pours," Neil said, lifting a bottle of wine from the hearth where he had put it to take the chill off. "There's a great stir in the country. 'Tisn't enough to have Master Luke walking in to us safe and sound last night, but Garret Dawson's been found dead in his study. They didn't dare disturb him when he was busy. At last when Mrs. Dawson herself sent he was dead. A good riddance to bad rubbish, say I."

It was no use rebuking Neil for his want of charity to the dead. I knew there were worse things being said of Garret Dawson by every peasant. We were silent, awed, by this sudden and awful happening. I thought of poor comfortable Mrs. Dawson, and felt that, tyrant as he had been to her, she would grieve for him as though he had been a pattern of all the virtues. Yet she had her son. A thought came to me that Garret Dawson had not had time to disinherit his son after all.

"Poor Master Richard!" Neil went on, averting his eyes on me. "'Tis all over the country that last night Tom Jordan of Clonmany escaped from his bed in the small-pox hospital. About three o'clock this morning Master Richard Dawson brought him back in that quare carriage of his that brought you home last night, Miss Bawn. Tom's mortal bad this mornin'. 'Tis pretty sure Master Richard'll get the disease for he lifted Tom in his arms. I wonder what for at all was he driving round the country that hour of the night?"

"No matter what he was driving for, he was there to good purpose," said my godmother.

"True for you, Miss Mary," Neil responded placidly.

And I, too, I wondered how it was that Richard Dawson had been abroad at such an hour of the night. But I did not wait to think of that. I was proud and glad of the thing he had done, and I remembered how I had said to him that he was brave and how pleased he had been.



Christmas passed and the dark days turned round to New Year, and New Year came and there were great clumps of snowdrops pushing up their delicate, drooping heads in all the shrubberies, neighbouring the patches of snow, for we had had a white Christmas and a white New Year.

We had settled down to the new ways of life as though the old had not been. There was perfect peace and happiness at Aghadoe. In the spring the workmen were to set to work at the task of renovating the Abbey. Uncle Luke and my godmother were to be married before Lent, quietly. As for me, I waited, till my whole life had become one expectation.

After the funeral at Damerstown was over I had gone to see Mrs. Dawson, having ascertained first that her son was absent for a few days. The poor woman had wept over me and forgiven me.

"Rick told me all," she said. "Sure, I wish you could have cared for him for himself. Only his mother knows how much good there is in him. And, dear, you must try to forgive him that's gone."

"We have forgiven him," I said, "as we hope for forgiveness."

Then she wept again softly, and poured out to me her hopes and fears for her boy.

"It's gone deep with him, dear," she said: "it's gone very deep with him. But, sure, we must trust to God to bring good out of the trouble. He'd never have done you that wrong to marry you and you fond of some one else. You don't mind my knowing, dear? My boy tells me everything. Sure, I'd have known it, for if there was no one else you must have cared for Rick."

"Some one else will care for him," I said.

"Indeed, I wouldn't mind who he married if she was good and fond of him and would keep him at home. He won't leave me now, not for a bit—till I'm happier; but he says it's best he should go, that he has a reason for going. Ah, well; he'll settle down some time, when he's got over this."

It might have been three weeks later when we heard that Richard Dawson had taken the small-pox and was lying ill at the Cottage. The illness was complicated, it was feared, by his having driven in the night to the small-pox hospital and asked to be taken in there, but there had been a recrudescence of the plague, and the place was crowded to the doors. Dr. Molyneux was working there like ten men, and it was his idea to have Richard Dawson taken to the Cottage, which was much nearer than Damerstown. We heard that the night journey, which was like to cost him his life, had been undertaken when he found the illness coming on, to prevent as much as might be the danger of infection to the large household at Damerstown. He was very ill indeed, and the doctors hardly thought he could live.

I was so sorry for him that I felt that if he died even the happiness of my meeting with my lover would be clouded over. I longed for news of him, but it was not very easy to obtain it, since the infection kept every one away.

But one day I was walking when I met Lady Ardaragh driving in her little phaeton. I had not seen her for some time and I was amazed at the change in her appearance. She looked terribly ill. All her butterfly prettiness was gone, and there was something to make the heart ache to see such evident suffering in one who had had the round softness of a child.

She pulled up her ponies as soon as she saw me.

"Bawn, Bawn," she said, "there is nothing but trouble in the world—at least in my world. Stay where you are, child; don't come too near me. Do you know that he is dying over there?"

She pointed with her whip in the direction of the Cottage.

"I think I am mad to-day, Bawn," she went on: "and if I do not speak to some one I shall surely go mad. I wish I were a Roman Catholic and could confess to a priest. How much wiser they are than those who deny the necessity of confession! I have always been fond of you, Bawn. I believe you are as true as steel. Let me confess to you and save my reason."

"No, no," I said; "you are not yourself to-day. You will be sorry afterwards. There is Sir Arthur."

"If you will not listen to me I shall go to him, and there will be an end to everything. Perhaps I am mad. It's enough to drive any woman mad. Richard Dawson is dying; and my little Robin is sickening. They will not let me be with him till they know if it is the small-pox. Isn't it enough to drive a woman mad?"

"Tell me, you poor soul," I said—"tell me everything. Afterwards it will be buried at the bottom of the sea."

She turned to me with a sick look of gratitude.

"You don't know how it will ease me," she said. "I had a thought of going to Quinn by the light railway and going into the Catholic Chapel there and finding a priest who would listen to me and absolve me. But I was afraid I should be seen and recognized. When they told me Robin was sickening I knew it was a judgment of God."

"God doesn't judge in that way," I said. "Perhaps it is in that way He calls you back. I have no belief in an angry God!"

"You have not, Bawn? I was brought up on it. It turned me away from religion. You think God will not take the child away from me because of my sin?"

The anguished soul in her eyes implored me. God forgive me if it was presumptuous, but I said—

"I am so sure of His mercy that I am sure He will not."

"If He will spare me Robin, I will be a good woman for the future. Arthur has been very tender to me over the child. It was he who banished me from Robin's room, although he is there himself. He says that I am so precious to him that the world would fall in ruins without me. Why didn't he say it to me before, and not live always in a world which I could not enter? Bawn, I have never really loved any one but my husband."

"I am sure of it," I said, "as he never loved any one but you."

"Oh, the folly of it all!" she moaned, sitting huddled up in her little phaeton, with her eyes looking miserably before her.

Then she turned her gaze on me, and I felt as though her unhappy eyes scorched and burned me.

"Yet I very nearly ran away with Richard Dawson," she said. "In fact, I did run away with him that night after you had broken with him. He concealed nothing from me. He did not even pretend to love me. And I went with him on those terms. As the mercy of God would have it, we found that poor wretch in the road not twenty yards from my own gates. It seemed to sober us. We were both mad. He would not let me touch him. He told me to go back; that it was all over. I crept back. By the mercy of God I had left a door ajar. I crept back to my room, and none knows that I ever left it except he and I and you. Bawn, am I not mad to tell you such a story? You, an innocent girl! I must be mad to tell my shame to any one when it might die with him and be buried with me."

"The mercy of God met you at every step and saved you," I said, feeling how little equal I was to the task of comforting her.

"Of course you despise me," she said: and the hard misery was gone out of her eyes and voice; "but I have confessed. You will never look at me again, but you have taken the weight off my life that was crushing it."

I could only answer her in one way. I crossed the distance she had set between us, and took her in my arms and kissed her.

"I shall be your loving friend for ever," I said, while she pushed me away and cried out that I must not touch her, lest she should have the infection about her.

"Although I never touched him, Bawn, I never touched him," she kept on assuring me. "He would not permit it. Bawn, if he is to die, don't you think God will forgive him his sins because of that great act of charity? The poor creature was horrible, horrible. I ran away from him when the lamps were turned on his face. But Richard Dawson was not afraid."

"It was splendid of him," I said. "I am sure God has forgiven him."

"And I need not tell my husband? I have felt ever since that I must confess to him. If I did he might forgive me, but it would never be the same again. Now I have slaked my thirst for confession by telling you. Bawn, do you think I must tell him?"

I felt as though I answered her with a voice and an authority not my own.

"You must never tell him," I said. "You owe it to him not to destroy his happiness. If you have ever the need for confession again, come to me."

"I will, Bawn dear, and God bless you," she said, her face lighting. "You have helped me so much. Perhaps, after all, Robin may not be sickening for the small-pox. What a thing that would be!"

"If he is he will still be in the hands of God," I said.

For many days after that I waited for news of Richard Dawson so eagerly that it seemed to break in upon my expectation.

One thing I knew at least, and that was that love was nursing him. The information came to me through Maureen, in a characteristic manner. Even the happiness of these days did not make Maureen gentle.

"You've heard about Nora Brady, Miss Bawn?" she said.


My heart sank, apprehending some new calamity; while Maureen went on in bitter tones—

"I never thought well of her and now I'm proved right. The minute she heard that Master Richard was took with the small-pox she ran off to him like a mad thing. And there she is ever since. Not a womankind in the house but herself. Her mother was a decent woman; I'm glad she didn't live to see it."

"And if she did, Maureen," I said sternly, "she might be proud of her girl. It isn't possible that you are making scandal out of Nora's mercy to the sick? I think it most noble, most Christian of her. I honour her for it."

"Whisht, child!" said Maureen, scornfully. I shall never inspire respect in Maureen's breast. "I know what I know. To be sure, you'd be the last to know of it, of the walks and the talks with Master Richard. Every one knew except yourself."

"Be silent, Maureen," I said, asserting myself for once. "I know everything, everything. And I know that Nora is a good, innocent girl. Don't dare to speak to others as you have spoken to me."

And then I was contrite, seeing my old nurse quail before me, for I had never shown her that I could be angry.



About the last week of February my joy came home. I remember that it was exquisite weather, the blackbird singing his passionate song in the bare boughs fit to break your heart with its beauty. There were high, white, shining clouds on the blue, and the mountains were grey-lavender. The wall-flower clumps were in bloom in the courtyard of the Abbey, and there were many primroses and delicate primulas in the garden; and all the hyacinths were out withindoors, making a delicious smell.

I went to meet my joy with a heart in which there was no sorrow. Richard Dawson was out of danger, and little Robin Ardaragh's case had proved to be merely chicken-pox. I met them out driving, and Robin was on his mother's knee, and his father was looking at the pair as though the world contained nothing else. They pulled up when they saw me; and Lady Ardaragh cried out to me—

"Bawn, Bawn, I am the happiest woman alive."

"And I the happiest man," said Sir Arthur, seriously. "Would you believe it, Miss Devereux, that she thought I cared more for my books than for her? As though anything could give me consolation without her!"

Then Lady Ardaragh cried out that they were a pair of egotists and pulled me down to kiss her, saying that she wished me joy, for every one knew by this time that Anthony Cardew was my lover and was coming home to me.

We were very quiet at the Abbey. A fortnight earlier Uncle Luke and my godmother had been married, and were now spending a quiet honeymoon at Killarney. They were going to live at Castle Clody when they returned; and there was a great ado making preparations for them, and every day I was over there, sometimes with my grandmother, to see that things were going on as they should.

By this time, long before this indeed, my grandparents knew all about Anthony, and were reconciled to the idea of my marrying a Cardew. Indeed, there had never been anything against my Anthony, for he was one of those whom everybody loved and admired. But the shadowy barrier was down, and they had rejoiced that I was to marry the man who had been instrumental in bringing Luke home after all those years. My grandmother said even that she was glad there had been no attachment of the sort between me and Theobald, since she had no liking for a marriage of first cousins.

By this time also we had Miss Travers' portrait, and she and Theobald were engaged. She was a very sweet-looking girl, and so much prettier than I, having delicate little features and beautiful brown eyes and red lips, that I was not surprised Theobald had forgotten his old fancy for me.

She was coming home in the summer and was to stay at Aghadoe, and Theobald was to follow her in the autumn and they were to be married. My grandmother was rather nervous about the prospect of receiving her alone.

"For, of course, you will be on your travels, Bawn," she said; "and although Luke and Mary will be at Castle Clody, it will not be the same thing as if they were here. But I must love her, seeing that she will be Theobald's wife, and, please God, the mother of the heir—that is, after Luke and Theobald, of course."

I was glad my godmother was not there to hear, lest it should hurt her, for she loved children and ought to have been the mother of a houseful of them.

Now that my expectation was to be fulfilled within a few days I became oddly frightened of it. Supposing he found that he did not love me after all, that he had been misled by a fancied resemblance in me to the miniature! Supposing, supposing ... I put away thoughts of calamity from me with both hands. God was too good to let anything happen to him now.

I was so fidgety and restless that I felt I worried the old couple. I could settle to nothing. I could not read, although I had always been a greedy reader. I was living my own love-story too keenly to be put off with imaginary ones. Music held me for a little while; but through it I was listening—listening for his coming, or for the telegram that should announce the arrival of his boat at Southampton. I used to look across at the lighted table by the fire where my grandparents played cribbage night after night, and wonder at the quiet old faces. Would Anthony and I come to be like that? So interested in the chance of a card, so content to sit quietly in a chimney-corner? I could not believe it of Anthony. He would be always like a sword, like a flame.

I went and came now to Brosna as one who had a right. I would come in upon Terence Murphy scrubbing a floor or polishing silver or some such thing, and he would look up as my shadow fell on him.

"Any news, Miss Bawn?"

"None, Terence, not yet."

"Ah, well; sure, it's on its way. There's nothing like being ready in time."

Day after day now he lit the fires in Anthony's rooms. Day after day I went across and gathered the little lavender primulas, the faint, garden primroses, the crocuses and violets and wall-flowers, and filled bowls and vases with them. I believe Terence Murphy used to wait up till the small hours, lest by chance his master should come unannounced. Always the house stood ready for him, like our hearts. I knew Anthony's faithful servant loved him like a dog, and it endeared him to me. Through February our waiting prolonged itself.

The 28th of February was a day of balmy airs. There was a light mist on the grass, and as you walked it was through a silver web of gossamers. Gossamers hung on every briarbush and floated about the fields. The raindrops of last night jewelled them in the rays of the sun. Dido and I broke whole silver forests on our morning walk to Brosna.

I remember that the blackbird was singing deliciously, yet less poignantly sweet than he should sing at dusk. There was a mysterious stir and flutter of spring in all the coppices. A quiet south wind marshalled the pearly clouds before it as though it were a shepherd driving a flock to the fold.

As I entered Brosna by the garden-way I noticed that Terence had run up the Irish flag on the flagstaff which he had placed on the little lawn outside Anthony's rooms, and I remembered that it was the anniversary of a battle in which my Anthony had covered himself with glory.

In the sheltered garden it was very warm. The sun drew out the aromatic odours from the hedges and borders of box. Terence had been polishing up the dial. It winked in the sun, and as I passed I stopped to read the inscription—

"I count only the golden hours."

There was no stir of Terence about. Usually one heard him singing or whistling or shouting half a mile away. I saw to my vases. I looked into the room which Anthony used as a dining-room when he was at home, and saw the table set, the old damask table-cloth, patched and darned by Terence himself, warmly white, the silver and glass shining. I smiled as I noticed that two places had been set. It was as though Terence anticipated the wonderful days to come.

Anthony's chair was drawn in front of the fire, which had been lately attended to, for the hearth was clean, and a log of cherry-wood burning on the coals sent out a delicious fragrance. Presently Terence would come bustling in to ask, "What news, Miss Bawn?" Sitting in the chair in front of the warm fire, full of beatific dreams, I somehow fell asleep.

I had been dreaming the most wonderful things, and when I started out of my sleep I thought I was still dreaming. Anthony was kneeling by me. His arms were about me.

"I've been watching you for the last half-hour," he said; "and, faith, I couldn't wait any longer for a kiss. Did I frighten you, darling? You looked so much like an angel that you half-frightened me. What have you been doing to yourself? You were round and soft the last time I held you. There is some change."

"You should have seen me two months ago," I said, "when I was going to die of marrying any man but you."

"Ah, Bawn, darling, is it only that you are taking pity on my white head? What is it that you see in me? I am twice your age, child."

"And the finest gentleman in the three kingdoms," I said, stroking his hair. "So fine a gentleman that you are out of date. The commonplace world doesn't grow fine gentlemen like you nowadays."

Afterwards we had our first meal together. They would not expect me back yet to lunch, and Anthony had arrived hungry as a hunter, while he protested that a man as much in love as he had no right to be hungry.

He had walked in unexpectedly, but Terence had not been taken by surprise. Terence had things ready as though he had known the day and hour of his coming. He served us as excellent a meal, according to my Anthony, as had ever been eaten. As for me, I did not know what it consisted of, but only that Anthony and I sat opposite to each other and that Anthony's eyes upon me made me sometimes fain to cover my own with my hands, and that when Terence Murphy went out of the room Anthony would come round the table to kiss me. He said that the meal together was a stolen joy; something he had no right to till after we were married. He said a great many happy, foolish things. As for me, it was a meal in Elysium.



All that is long ago, and I am Bawn Cardew, who was Bawn Devereux. We have a boy, dark and fine, like Anthony, and a girl who resembles me. I am still in a bewilderment as to why Anthony should have chosen me. I believe there is no woman, gentle or simple, who comes in contact with him, from my grandmother down to Katty McCann, the beggar-woman, who is not in love with him. His way with women is always beautiful. I have seen him carry a tramp's squalling child up a steep hill and hand it to the mother at the top with the courtesy he would show to a duchess. Elderly and plain women love him especially, because he is not aware that they are elderly and plain. And men look up to him and admire him just as much after their fashion.

As I write I am in my own little morning-room at Brosna, which love has made beautiful for me. Outside I see velvet lawns and bright flower-beds, and beyond the lawns and the ha-ha I can see in the park a herd of deer feeding. At the moment it is quiet. Then I hear the thud-thud of hoofs. Our boy comes riding by on a little rough mountain pony. Terence Murphy is giving him his riding lesson. He sits in the saddle as straight as his father, although he is little more than a baby. He will have Anthony's straight, strenuous, clean look, like a blade or a flame.

And there comes Anthony himself with little Bawn on his shoulder. Her golden hair falls about his white head. There is not a grey hair in his black moustache, nor in his fine, even, black eyebrows. They go on after the pony. Presently they will come shouting for me. They are my world; but I have room for affections outside.

Brosna is now what it was meant to be, a stately, beautiful, well-kept house. We are rich: the treasure made us all rich; and that is a strange thing enough in our country, where there is no money to spare among the gentle-folk.

And talking of wealth reminds me of Richard Dawson.

It was the week before my marriage—that was Holy Week, and I was married on the Easter Tuesday—when I received a letter from Mrs. Dawson of Damerstown, asking me to come and see her. The letter accompanied a gift so beautiful and costly that if I had liked her less I should have been inclined to return it.

As it was, I let Anthony do without me for once. To be sure, he was tremendously busy getting Brosna in order for me. I had Zoe brought round, the beautiful mare who was his latest gift to me, and rode over to Damerstown.

Mrs. Dawson received me in the drawing-room, affectionate as of old, but with the air which asked forgiveness for the wrong her husband had done us. It was an air that grieved me, and as I kissed her I passed my hand over her forehead as though I would brush it away like a palpable thing.

"I thought, dearie," she said, "being what you are, that you'd be happier in your own happiness if you knew things were well with my poor Rick. He never did you any harm except to love you too much."

"No, indeed," I said hastily, "and I should be so glad to know that he has forgiven and forgotten me. I've heard, of course, that he has quite recovered and is going abroad. I shall always feel very kindly towards him and very sorry because of any wrong I did him."

"You never did him any," the mother said.

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask her where Nora Brady was, for that was a trouble to me, too, despite my happiness. The poor people round about had, I was told, taken the same view of poor Nora's devotion to her sick man as Maureen. She had slipped away from those who, like myself, would have stood her friends. But before I could ask the question Richard Dawson himself came into the room.

I was startled and a little embarrassed at first sight of him. I had had no idea that he was at Damerstown. And his face was sadly marked and pitted with the small-pox.

"Miss Devereux, you must forgive my presenting myself before you with this hideous face, but there are some things I want to tell you. There, don't look at me! Take this."

He picked up a Japanese fan and handed it to me and the action hurt me. I compelled myself to look at him without flinching.

"You are not at all hideous," I said. "No one who cared for you would think you hideous."

"Why, no," he said. "My mother looks at me as though I had the skin of a young child—and there is another—— Miss Bawn, I wish you happiness. I am very glad the better man has won."

"You are very generous."

While we talked Mrs. Dawson got up and left us. She was one of those people who are always forgetting things and going in search of them, so the action had no special significance.

"You are very generous," I said. And then I asked him the question which was in my mind. "Mr. Dawson," I said, "can you tell me where Nora is? I want to write to her, to bring her back."

"I know," he answered, "but she will not come back yet awhile. She has, by her own wish and desire, gone to school, to a convent. She had schooling enough for me, God knows, in her tender and faithful heart; but she is as obstinate as any creature ever was when she thinks a thing is right. So I have to wait, very much against my will, while the nuns make a lady of Nora. It is her own phrase. I have assured her that she is a better lady than most ladies I have known, and that I am not a gentleman. But she would banish me and try my patience."


"Meaning—that she will marry me when she has acquired the thing she desires. Meaning—I would have married her, Bawn, without love, because they blackened her, the innocent soul, for her mercy to me. But I have learned to love her. She holds my heart against all women. I am not hideous to her."

"And your mother?"

"Is enchanted. We are going to sell Damerstown and live in England. It will give us all a better chance. Good-bye, Miss Bawn, for we shall not meet again."

It made a nine days' wonder when the people heard that Richard Dawson had married Nora Brady; but that was a year later, and Damerstown was shut up and to be let.

Lord and Lady St. Leger still rule at the Abbey, and seem likely to rule for many years, to the joy of their children.

Theobald's wife is keen about her husband's profession, and will not let him leave the army yet, so that we see them only at intervals.

But the old couple are not lonely. My godmother and Uncle Luke have their full measure of happiness. They have, what my dear godmother confessed to me she had not dared to hope for—a child, a boy—brave and beautiful, worthy to succeed his father in time as the Lord St. Leger. There is no bonnier boy in all the countryside except my own, and he is the image of his father, so it is not likely that any child could be just like him. But the young heir fills Aghadoe Abbey with joy and peace. My grandmother told me the other day that the ghosts have not been heard since the child came to banish them.


Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation normalized.

Page 225, "that" changed to "than" (rather than endure)



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