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The Black Baronet; or, The Chronicles Of Ballytrain, a novel by William Carleton

Chapter 20. Interview Between Lords Cullamore, Dunroe, And Lady Emily

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_ CHAPTER XX. Interview between Lords Cullamore, Dunroe, and Lady Emily

--Tom Norton's Aristocracy fails Him--His Reception by Lord Cullamore.

At the hour appointed, Lord Dunroe's father and sister arrived. The old peer, as his son usually, but not in the most reverential spirit, termed him, on entering his sleeping chamber, paused for a moment in the middle of the room, as if to ascertain his precise state of health; but his sister, Lady Emily, with all the warmth of a young and affectionate heart, pure as the morning dew-drop, ran to his bedside, and with tears in her eyes, stooped down and kissed him, exclaiming at the same time,

"My dear Dunroe; but no--I hate those cold and formal titles--they are for the world, but not for brother and sister. My dear John, how is your wound? Thank God, it is not dangerous, I hear. Are you better? Will you soon be able to rise? My dear brother, how I was alarmed on hearing it; but there is another kiss to help to cure you."

"My dear Emily, what the deuce are you about? I tell you I have a prejudice against kissing female relations. It is too tame, and somewhat of a bore, child, especially to a sick man."

His father now approached him with a grave, but by no means an unfeeling countenance, and extending his hand, said, "I fear, John, that this has been a foolish business; but I am glad to find that, so far as your personal danger was concerned, you have come off so safely. How do you find yourself?"

"Rapidly recovering, my lord, I thank you. At first they considered the thing serious; but the bullet only grazed the rib slightly, although the flesh wound was, for a time, troublesome enough. I am now, however, free from fever, and the wound is closing fast."

"Whilst this brief dialogue took place, Lady Emily sat on a chair by the bedside, her large, brilliant eyes no longer filled with tears, but open with astonishment, and we may as well add with pain, at the utter indifference with which her brother received her affectionate caresses. After a few moments' reflection, however, her generous heart supposed it had discovered his apology.

"Ah," thought the sweet girl, "I had forgotten his wound, and of course I must have occasioned him great pain, which his delicacy placed to a different motive. He did not wish to let me know that I had hurt him." And her countenance again beamed with the joy of an innocent and unsuspecting spirit.

"But, Dunroe," she said--"John, I mean, won't you soon be able to get up, and to walk about, or, at all events, to take an airing with us in the carriage? Will you not, dear John?"

"Yes, I hope so, Emily. By the way, Emily, you have grown quite a woman since I saw you last. It is now better than two years, I think, since then."

"How did you like the Continent, John?"

"Why, my dear girl, how is this? What sympathy can you feel with the experience of a young fellow like me on the Continent? When you know the world better, my dear girl, you will feel the impropriety of asking such a question. Pray be seated, my lord."

Lord Cullamore sat, as if unconsciously, in an arm-chair beside the table on which were placed his son's dressings and medicines, and resting his head on his hand for a moment, as if suffering pain, at length raised it, and said,

"No, Dunroe; no. I trust my innocent girl will never live to feel the impropriety of asking a question so natural?"

"I'm sure I hope not, my lord, with all my heart," replied Dunroe. "Have you been presented, Emily? Have you been brought out?"

"She has been presented," said her father, "but not brought out; nor is it my intention, in the obvious sense of that word, that she ever shall."

"Oh, your lordship perhaps has a tendency to Popery, then, and there is a convent in the background? Is that it, my good lord?" he asked, smiling.

"No," replied his father, who could not help smiling in return, "not at all, John. Emily will not require to be brought out, nor paraded through the debasing formalities of fashion. She shall not be excluded from fashion, certainly; but neither shall I suffer her to run the vulgar gauntlet of heartless dissipation, which too often hardens, debases, and corrupts. But a truce to this; the subject is painful to me; let us change it."

The last observation of Dunroe to his sister startled her so much that she blushed deeply, and looked with that fascinating timidity which is ever associated with innocence and purity from her brother to her father.

"Have I said anything wrong, papa?" she asked, when Lord Cullamore had ceased to speak.

"Nothing, my love, nothing, but precisely what was natural and right. Dunroe's reply, however, was neither the one nor the other, and he ought to have known it."

"Well now, Emily," said her brother, "I don't regret it, inasmuch as it has enabled me to satisfy myself upon a point which I have frequently heard disputed--that is, whether a woman is capable of blushing or not. Now I have seen you blush with my own eyes, Emily; nay, upon my honor, you blush again this moment."

"Dunroe," observed his father, "you are teasing your sister; forbear."

"But don't you see, my lord," persisted his son, "the absolute necessity for giving her a course of fashionable life, if it were only to remove this constitutional blemish. If it were discovered, she is ruined; to blush being, as your lordship knows, contrary to all the laws and statutes of fashion in that case made and provided."

"Dunroe," said his father, "I intend you shall spend part of the summer and all the autumn in Ireland, with us."

"Oh, yes, John, you must come," said his sister, clapping her snow-white hands in exultation at the thought. "It will be so delightful."

"Ireland!" exclaimed Dunroe, with well-feigned surprise; "pray where is that, my lord?"

"Come, come, John," said his father, smiling; "be serious."

"Ireland!" he again exclaimed; "oh, by the way, that's an island, I think, in the Pacific--is it not?"

"No," replied his father; "a more inappropriate position you could not have possibly found for it."

"Is not that the happy country where the people live without food? Where they lead a life of independence, and starve in such an heroic spirit?"

"My dear Dunroe," said his father, seriously, "never sport with the miseries of a people, especially when that people are your own countrymen."

"My lord," he replied, disregarding the rebuke he had received, "for Heaven's sake conceal that disgraceful fact. Remember, I am a young nobleman; call me profligate--spendthrift--debauchee--anything you will but an Irishman. Don't the Irish refuse beef and mutton, and take to eating each other? What can be said of a people who, to please their betters, practise starvation as their natural pastime, and dramatize hunger to pamper their most affectionate lords and masters, who, whilst the latter witness the comedy, make the performers pay for their tickets? And yet, although the cannibal system flourishes, I fear they find it anything but a Sandwich island."

"Papa," said Lady Emily, in a whisper, and with tears in her eyes, "I fear John's head is a little unsettled by his illness."

"You will injure yourself, my dear Dunroe," said his father, "if you talk so much."

"Not at all, my good lord and father. But I think I recollect one of their bills of performance, which runs thus: 'On Saturday, the 25th inst., a tender and affectionate father, stuffed by so many cubic feet of cold wind, foul air, all resulting from extermination and the benevolence of a humane landlord, will in the very wantonness of repletion, feed upon, the dead body of his own child--for which entertaining performance he will have the satisfaction, subsequently, of enacting with success the interesting character of a felon, and be comfortably lodged at his Majesty's expense in the jail of the county.' Why, my lord, how could you expect me to acknowledge such a country? However, I must talk to Tom Norton about this. He was born in the country you speak of--and yet Tom has an excellent appetite; eats like other people; abhors starvation; and is no cannibal. It is true, I have frequently seen him ready enough to eat a fellow--a perfect raw-head-and-bloody-bones--for which reason, I suppose, the principle, or instinct, or whatever you call it, is still latent in his constitution. But, on the other hand, whenever Tom gnashed his teeth at any one a la cannibale, if the other gnashed his teeth at him, all the cannibal disappeared, and Tom was quite harmless."

* This alludes to a dreadful fact of cannibalism, which occurred in the South of Ireland in 1846.

"By the way, Dunroe," said his father, "who is this Tom Norton you speak of?"

"He is my most particular friend, my lord--my companion--and traveled with me over the Continent. He is kind enough to take charge of my affairs: he pays my servants, manages my tradesmen--and, in short, is a man whom I could not do without. He's up to everything; and is altogether indispensable to me."

Lord Cullamore paused for some time, and seemed for a moment absorbed in some painful reflection or reminiscence. At length he said,

"This man, Dunroe, must be very useful to you, if he be what you have just described him. Does he also manage your correspondence?"

"He does, my lord; and is possessed of my most unlimited confidence. In fact, I could never get on without him. My affairs are in a state of the most inextricable confusion, and were it not for his sagacity and prudence, I could scarcely contrive to live at all. Poor Tom; he abandoned fine prospects in order to devote himself to my service."

"Such a friend must be invaluable, John," observed his sister. "They say a friend, a true friend, is the rarest thing in the world; and when one meets such a friend, they ought to appreciate him."

"Very true, Emily," said the Earl; "very true, indeed." He spoke, however, as if in a state of abstraction. "Norton!--Norton. Do you know, John, who he is? Anything of his origin or connections?"

"Nothing whatever," replied Dunroe; "unless that he is well connected--he told me so himself--too well, indeed, he hinted, to render the situation of a dependent one which he should wish his relatives to become acquainted with--Of course, I respected his delicacy, and did not, consequently, press him further upon the point."

"That was considerate on your part," replied the Earl, somewhat dryly; "but if he be such as you have described him, I agree with Emily in thinking he must be invaluable. And now, John, with respect to another affair--but perhaps this interview may be injurious to your health. Talking much, and the excitement attending it, may be bad, you know."

"I am not easily excited, my lord," replied Dunroe; "rather a cool fellow; unless, indeed, when I used to have duns to meet. But now Norton manages all that for me. Proceed, my lord."

"Yes, but, John," observed Lady Emily, "don't let affection for papa and me allow you to go beyond your strength."

"Never mind, Emily; I am all right, if this wound were healed, as it will soon be. Proceed, my lord."

"Well, then, my dear Dunroe, I am anxious you should know that I have had a long conversation with Sir Thomas Gourlay, upon the subject of your marriage with his beautiful and accomplished daughter."

"Yes, the Black Baronet; a confounded old scoundrel by all accounts."

"You forget, sir," said the Earl, sternly, "that he is father to your future wife."

"Devilish sorry for it, my lord. I wish Lucy was daughter to any one else--but it matters not; I am not going to marry the black fellow, but twelve thousand a year and a pretty girl. I know a prettier, though."

"Impossible, John," replied Lady Emily, with enthusiasm. "I really think Lucy Gourlay the most lovely girl I have ever seen--the most amiable, the most dignified, the most,accomplished, the most--dear John, how happy I shall be to call her sister!"

"Dunroe," proceeded his father, "I beg you consider this affair seriously--solemnly--the happiness of such a girl as Lucy Grourlay is neither to be sported with nor perilled. You will have much to reform before you can become worthy of her. I now tell you that the reformation must be effected, sincerely and thoroughly, before I shall ever give my consent to your union with her. There must be neither dissimulation nor hypocrisy on your part. Your conduct must speak for you, and I must, from the clearest evidence, be perfectly satisfied that in marrying you she is not wrecking her peace and happiness, by committing them to a man who is incapable of appreciating her, or who is insensible to what is due to her great and shining virtues."

"It would be dreadful, John," said his sister, "if she should not feel happy. But if John, papa, requires reformation, I am sure he will reform for Lucy's sake."

"He ought to reform from a much higher principle, my dear child," replied her father.

"And so he will, papa. Will you not, dear brother?"

"Upon my honor, my lord," said Dunroe, "I had a conversation this very morning upon the subject with Tom Norton."

"I am glad to hear it, my dear son. It is not too late--it is never too late--to amend the life; but in this instance there is an event about to take place which renders a previous reformation, in its truest sense, absolutely indispensable."

"My lord," he replied, "the truth is, I am determined to try a course of religion. Tom Norton tells me it is the best thing in the world to get through life with."

"Tom Norton might have added that it is a much better thing to get through death with," added the Earl, gravely.

"But he appears to understand it admirably, my lord," replied Dunroe. "He says it quickens a man's intellects, and not only prevents him from being imposed upon by knaves and sharpers, but enables him, by putting on a long face, and using certain cabalistic phrases, to overreach--no, not exactly that, but to--let me see, to steer a safe course through the world; or something to that effect. He says, too, that religious folks always come best off, and pay more attention to the things of this life, than any one else; and that, in consequence, they thrive and prosper under it. No one, he says, gets credit so freely as a man that is supposed to be religious. Now this struck me quite forcibly, as a thing that might be very useful to me in getting out of my embarrassments. But then, it would be necessary to go to church, I believe--to pray--sing psalms--read the Bible--and subscribe to societies of some kind or other. Now all that would be very troublesome. How does a person pray, my lord? Is it by repeating the Ten Commandments, or reading a religious book?"

Despite the seriousness of such a subject, Lord Cullamore and his daughter, on glancing at each other, could scarcely refrain from smiling.

"Now, I can't see," proceeded Dunroe, "how either the one or the other of the said commandments would sharpen a man for the world, as Tom Norton's religion does."

The good old Earl thought either that his son was affecting an ignorance on the subject which he did not feel, or that his ignorance was in reality so great that for the present, at least, it was useless to discuss the matter with him.

"I must say, my dear Dunroe," he added, in a kind and indulgent voice, "that your first conceptions of reformation are very original, to say the least of them."

"I grant it, my lord. Every one knows that all my views, acts, and expressions are original. 'Dunroe's a perfect original' is the general expression among my friends. But on the subject of religion, I am willing to be put into training. I told Tom Norton to look out and hire me a pas'n, or somebody, to give me lessons in it. Is there such a thing, by the way, as a Religious Grammar? If so, I shall provide one, and make myself master of all the rules, cases, inflections, interjections, groans, exclamations, and so on, connected with it. The Bible is the dictionary, I believe?"

Poor Lady Emily, like her father, could not for the life of her suppose for a moment that her brother was serious: a reflection that relieved her from much anxiety of mind and embarrassment on his account.

"Papa," said, she, whilst her beautiful features were divided, if we may so say, between smiles and tears, "papa, Dunroe is only jesting; I am sure he is only jesting, and does not mean any serious disrespect to religion."

"That may be, my dear Emily; but he will allow me to tell him that it is the last subject upon which he, or any one else, should jest. Whether you are in jest or earnest, my dear Dunroe, let me advise you to bring the moral courage and energies of a man to the contemplation of your life, in the first place; and in the next, to its improvement. It is not reading the Bible, nor repeating prayers, that will, of themselves, make you religious, unless the heart is in earnest; but a correct knowledge of what is right and wrong--in other words, of human duty--will do much good in the first place; with a firm resolution to avoid the evil and adopt the good. Remember that you are accountable to the Being who placed you in this life, and that your duty here consists, not in the indulgence of wild and licentious passions, but in the higher and nobler ones of rendering as many of your fellow-creatures happy as you can: for such a course will necessarily insure happiness to yourself. This is enough for the present; as soon as you recover your strength you shall come to Ireland."

"When I recover my strength!" he exclaimed. "Ay, to be eaten like a titbit. Heavens, what a delicious morsel a piece of a young peer would be to such fellows! but I will not run that horrible risk. Lucy must come to me--I am sure the prospect of a countess's coronet ought to be a sufficient inducement to her. But, to think that I should run the risk of being shot from behind a hedge--made a component part of a midnight bonfire, or entombed in the bowels of some Patagonian cannibal, savagely glad to feed, upon the hated Saxon who has so often fed upon him!--No, I repeat, Lucy, if she is to be a countess, must travel in this direction."

The indelicacy and want of all consideration for the feelings of his father, so obvious in his heartless allusion to a fact which could only result from that father's death, satisfied the old man that any reformation in his son was for the present hopeless, and even Lady Emily felt anxious to put an end to the visit as soon as possible.

"By the way," said his father, as they were taking their leave, "I have had an unpleasant letter from my brother, in which he states that he wrote to you, but got no answer."

"I never received a letter from him," replied his lordship; "none ever reached me; if it had, the very novelty of a communication from such a quarter would have prevented me from forgetting it."

"I should think so. His letter to me, indeed, is a strange one. He utters enigmatical threats--"

"Come, I like that--I am enigmatical myself--you see it is in the family."

"Enigmatical threats which I cannot understand, and desires me to hold myself prepared for certain steps which he is about to take, in justice to what he is pleased to term his own claims. However, it is not worth notice. But this Norton, I am anxious to see him, Dunroe--will you request him to call upon me to-morrow at twelve o'clock?--of course, I feel desirous to make the acquaintance of a man who has proved himself such a warm and sterling friend to my son."

"Undoubtedly, my lord, he shall attend on you--I shall take care of that. Good-by, my lord--good by, Emily--good--good--my dear girl, never mind the embrace--it is quite undignified--anything but a patrician usage, I assure you."

Now it is necessary that we should give our readers a clearer conception of Lord Dunroe's character than is to be found in the preceding dialogue. This young gentleman was one of those who wish to put every person who enters into conversation with them completely at fault. It was one of his whims to affect ignorance on many subjects with which he was very well acquainted. His ambition was to be considered a character; and in order to carry this idea out, he very frequently spoke on the most commonplace topics as a man might be supposed to do who had just dropped from the moon. He thought, also, that there was something aristocratic in this fictitious ignorance, and that it raised him above the common herd of those who could talk reasonably on the ordinary topics of conversation or life. His ambition, the reader sees, was to be considered original. It had besides, this advantage, that in matters where his ignorance is anything but feigned, it brought him out safely under the protection of his accustomed habit, without suffering from the imputation of the ignorance he affected. It was, indeed, the ambition of a vain and silly mind; but provided he could work out this paltry joke upon a grave and sensible though unsuspecting individual, he felt quite delighted at the feat; and took the person thus imposed upon into the number of his favorites. It was upon this principle among others that Norton, who pretended never to see through his flimsy irony, contrived to keep in his favor, and to shape him according to his wishes, whilst he made the weak-minded young man believe that everything he did and every step he took was the result of his own deliberate opinion, whereas in fact he was only a puppet in his hands.

His father, who was naturally kind and indulgent, felt deeply grieved and mortified by the reflections arising from this visit. During the remainder of the day he seemed wrapped in thought; but we do not attempt to assert that the dialogue with his son was the sole cause of this. He more than once took out his brother's letter which he read with surprise, not unmingled with strong curiosity and pain. It was, as he said, extremely enigmatical, whilst at the same time it contained evidences of that deplorable spirit which almost uniformly embitters so deeply the feuds which arise from domestic misconceptions. On this point, however, we shall enable the reader to judge for himself. The letter was to the following effect:

"My Lord Cullamore.--It is now nine months and upwards since I addressed a letter to your son; and I wrote to him in reference to you, because it had been for many years my intention never to have renewed or held any communication whatsoever with you. It was on this account, therefore, that I opened, or endeavored to open, a correspondence with him rather than with his father. In this I have been disappointed, and my object, which was not an unfriendly one, frustrated. I do not regret, however, that I have been treated with contempt. The fact cancelled the foolish indulgence with which an exhibition of common courtesy and politeness, if not a better feeling, on the part of your son, might have induced me to treat both you and him. As matters now stand between us, indulgence is out of the question; so is compromise. I shall now lose little time in urging claims which you will not be able to withstand. Whether you suspect the nature of these claims or not is more than I know. Be that, however, as it may, I can assure you that I had resolved not to disturb your last days by prosecuting them during your lifetime. That resolution I have now rescinded, and all that remains for me to say is; that as little time as possible shall be lost in enforcing the claims I allude to, in justice to my family.

"I am, my Lord Cullamore,

"Your obedient servant,


This strange and startling communication caused the good old man much uneasiness, even although its object and purpose were altogether beyond his comprehension. The only solution that occurred to him of the mystery which ran through it, was that it must have been written under some misconception or delusion for which he could not account. Another key to the difficulty--one equally replete with distress and alarm--was that his brother's reason had probably become unsettled, and that the communication in question was merely the emanation of mental alienation. And, indeed, on this point only could he account for the miscarriage of the letter to his son, which probably had never been written at all and existed only in the disturbed imagination of his unfortunate brother.

At all events, the contents of this document, like those mysterious presentiments of evil which sometimes are said to precede calamity, hung like a weight upon his mind, view them as he might. He became nervous, depressed, and gloomy, pleaded illness as an apology for not dining abroad; remained alone and at home during the whole evening, but arose the next morning in better spirits, and when our friend Tom Norton presented himself, he had regained sufficient equanimity and composure to pay proper attention to that faithful and friendly gentleman.

Now Tom, who resolved to make an impression, as it is termed, was dressed in the newest and most fashionable morning visit costume, drove up to the hall-door at that kind of breakneck pace with which your celebrated whips delight to astonish the multitude, and throwing the reins to a servant, desired, if he knew how to pace the horse up and down, to do so; otherwise to remember that he had a neck.

The servant in question, a stout, compact fellow, with a rich Milesian face and a mellow brogue, looked at him with a steady but smiling eye.

"Have a neck, is it?" he exclaimed; "by my sowl, an' it's sometimes an inconvenience to have that same. My own opinion is, sir, that the neck now is jist one of the tenderest joints in the body."

Norton looked at him for a moment with an offended and haughty stare.

"If you are incapable of driving the landau, sir," he replied, "call some one who can; and don't be impertinent."

"Incapable," replied the other, with a cool but humorous kind of gravity; "troth, then it's disgrace I'd bring on my taicher if I couldn't sit a saddle an' handle a whip with the best o' them. And wid regard to the neck, sir, many a man has escaped a worse fall than one from the box or the saddle."

Norton drew himself up with a highly indignant scowl, and turning his frown once more upon this most impertinent menial, encountered a look of such comic familiarity, easy assurance, and droll indifference, as it would not be easy to match. The beau started, stared, again pulled himself to a still greater height--as if by the dignity of the attitude to set the other at fault--frowned more awfully, then looked bluster, and once more surveyed the broad, knowing face and significant laughing eyes that were fixed upon him--set, as they were, in the centre of a broad grin--after which he pulled up his collar with an air--taking two or three strides up and down with what he intended as aristocratic dignity--

"Hem! ahem! What do you mean, sir?"

To this, for a time, there was no reply; but there, instead, were the laughing fascinators at work, fixed not only upon him, but in him, piercing him through; the knowing grin still increasing and gathering force of expression by his own confusion.

"Curse me, sir, I don't understand this insolence. What do you mean? Do you know who it is you treat in this manner?"

Again he stretched himself, pulled up his collar as before, displaying a rich diamond ring, then taking out a valuable gold watch, glanced at the time, and putting it in his fob, looked enormously big and haughty, exclaiming again, with a frown that was intended to be a stunner--after again pacing up and down with the genuine tone and carriage of true nobility--

"I say, sir, do you know the gentleman whom you are treating with such impertinence? Perhaps you mistake me, on account of a supposed resemblance, for some former acquaintance of yours. If, so, correct yourself; I have never seen you till this moment."

There, however, was the grin, and there were the eyes as before, to which we must add a small bit of pantomime on the part of Morty O'Flaherty, for such was the servant's name, which bit of pantomime consisted in his (Morty's) laying his forefinger very knowingly alongside his nose, exclaiming, in a cautious and friendly voice however,

"Barney, achora, don't be alarmed; there's no harm done yet. You're safe if you behave yourself."

"What!" said Norton. "By the bones of St. Patrick but you are Morty O'Flaherty! Confound it, my dear Morty, why didn't you make yourself known at once? it would have relieved both of us."

"One of us, you mane," replied Morty, with a wink.

"Upon my soul I am glad to free you, Morty. And how are you, man alive? In a snug berth here, I see, with the father of my friend, Lord Dunroe."

"Ha!" exclaimed Morty, shrewdly; "is that it? Your friend; Oh, I see. Nate as ever, like a clane sixpence. Well, Barney, the world will have its way."

"Ay, Morty, and we must comply with it. Some it brings up, and others it brings down."

"Whisht, now, Barney," said Morty; "let by-gones be by-gones. That it didn't bring you up, be thankful to a gracious Providence and a light pair o' heels; that's all. And what are you now?"

"No longer Barney Bryan, at any rate," replied the other. "My name, at present, is Norton."

"At present! Upon my sowl, Barney, so far as names goes, you're a walkin' catalogue."

"Thomas Norton, Esquire; residing with that distinguished young nobleman, Lord Dunroe, as his bosom friend and inseparable companion."

"Hem! I see," said Morty, with a shrug, which he meant as one of compassion for the aforesaid Lord Dunroe; "son to my masther. Well, God pity him, Barney, is the worst I wish him. You will take care of him; you'll tache him a thing or two--and that's enough. But, Barney--"

"Curse Barney--Mr. Norton's the word."

"Well, Mr. Norton--ah, Mr. Norton, there's one person you'll not neglect."

"Who is that, Morty?"

"Faith, your mother's son, achora. However, you know the proverb--'A burnt child dreads the fire.' You have a neck still, Barney--beg pardon, Mr. Norton--don't forget that fact."

"And I'll take care of the said neck, believe me, Morty; I shall keep it safe, never fear."

"Take care you don't keep it a little too safe. A word to the wise is enough, Bar--Mr. Norton."

"It is, Morty; and I trust you will remember that that is to be a regulation between us. 'A close mouth is the sign of a wise head,' too; and there's a comrade for your proverb--but we are talking too long. Listen; keep my secret, and I will make it worth your while to do so. You may ruin me, without serving yourself; but as a proof that you will find me your friend, I will slip you five guineas, as a recompense, you know, for taking care of the landau and horses. In short, if we work into each other's hands it will be the better for us both."

"I'll keep your' saicret," replied honest Morty, "so long, Barney--hem! Mr. Norton--as you keep yourself honest; but I'll dirty my hands wid none o' your money. If I was willin' to betray you, it's not a bribe would prevent me."

Mr. Norton, in a few moments, was ushered into the presence of Lord Cullamore.

On entering the apartment, the old nobleman, with easy and native courtesy, rose up, and received him with every mark of attention and respect.

"I am happy, Mr. Norton," he proceeded, "to have it in my power to thank you for the friendship and kindness which my son, Lord Dunroe, has been so fortunate as to receive at your hands. He speaks of you with such warmth, and in terms of such high esteem, that I felt naturally anxious to make your acquaintance, as his friend. Pray be seated."

Norton, who was a quick and ready fellow, in more senses than one, bowed lowly, and with every mark of the deepest respect; but, at the same time, he certainly started upon a high and a rather hazardous theory--to wit, that of a man of consequence, who wished to be considered with respect to Dunroe rather as a patron than a dependent.

The fellow, we should have stated to the reader, was originally from Kerry, though he adopted Connaught, and consequently had a tolerable acquaintance with Latin and Greek--an acquisition which often stood him in stead through life; joined to which was an assurance that nothing short of a scrutiny such as Morty O'Maherty's could conquer.

"I assure you, my lord," he replied, "you quite overrate any trifling services I may have rendered to my friend Dunroe. Upon my soul and honor you do. I have done nothing for him--that is, nothing to speak of. But the truth is, I took a fancy to Dunroe; and I do assure you again, Lord Cullamore, that when I do take a fancy to any person--a rare case with me, I grant--I would go any possible lengths to serve him. Every man has his whim, my lord, and that is mine. I hope your lordship had a pleasant trip across Channel?"

"Yes, thank you, Mr. Norton; but I have been for some time past in delicate health, and am not now so capable of bearing the trip as formerly. Still I feel no reason to complain, although far from strong. Dunroe, I perceive, is reduced considerably by his wound and the consequent confinement."

"Oh, naturally, of course, my lord; but a few days now will set him upon his legs."

"That, it seems to me, Mr. Norton, was a very foolish and unpleasant affair altogether."

"Nothing could be more so, my lord. It was altogether wrong on the part of Dunroe, and so I told him."

"Could you not have prevented it, Mr. Norton?"

"Ha, ha, ha! very good, Lord Cullamore. Ask me could I prevent or check a flash of lightning. Upon my soul and honor, the thing was over, and my poor friend down, before you could say 'Jack Robinson'--hem!--as we say in Connaught."

"You have travelled, too, with my son, Mr. Norton, and he is perfectly sensible of the services you have rendered him during his tour."

"God forbid, my Lord Cullamore, that I should assume any superiority over poor, kind-hearted, and honorable Dunroe; but as you are his father, my lord, I may--and with pride and satisfaction I do it--put the matter on its proper footing, and say, that Dunroe travelled with me. The thing is neither here nor there, of course, nor would I ever allude to it unless as a proof of my regard and affection for him."

"That only enhances your kindness, Mr. Norton."

"Why, my lord, I met Dunroe in Paris--no matter, I took him out of some difficulties, and prevented him from getting into more. He had been set by a clique of--but I will not dwell on this, it looks like egotism--I said before, I took a fancy to him--for it frequently happens, my good lord, that you take a fancy to the person you have served."

"True enough, indeed, Mr. Norton."

"I am fond of travelling, and was about to make my fourth or fifth tour, when I met your son, surrounded by a crew of--but I have alluded to this a moment ago. At all events, I saw his danger--a young man exposed to temptation--the most alluring and perilous. Well, my lord, mine was a name of some weight and authority, affording just the kind of countenance and protection your son required. Well, I travelled with him, guarded him, guided him, for as to any inconvenience I may myself have experienced in taking him by the most comprehensive routes, and some other matters, they are not worth naming. Of course I introduced him to some of the most distinguished men of France--to the Marquis De Fogleville, for instance, the Count Rapscallion, Baron Snottellin, and some others of the first rank and nobility of the country. The pleasure of his society, however, more than compensated me for all."

"But, pardon me, Mr. Norton, I believe the title and family of De Fogleville have been extinct. The last of them was guillotined not long since for an attempt to steal the crown jewels of France, I think."

"True, my lord, you are perfectly right, the unhappy man was an insane legitimist; but the title and estates have been revived in the person of another member of the family, the present marquis, who is a nobleman of high consideration and honor."

"Oh, indeed! I was not aware of that, Mr. Norton," said his lordship. "I am quite surprised at the extent of your generosity and goodness to my son."

"But, my lord, it is not my intention to give up Dunroe or abandon the poor fellow yet awhile. I am determined to teach him economy in managing his affairs, to make him know the value of time, of money, and of system, in everything pertaining to Life and business. Nor do I regret what I have done, nor what I propose to do; far from it, my lord. All I ask is, that he will always look upon me as a friend or an elder brother, and consult me, confide in me, and come to me, in fact, or write to me, whenever he may think I can be of service to him."

"And in his name, of course, I may at least thank you, Mr. Norton," replied the Earl, with a slight irony in his manner, "not only for all you have done, but for all you propose to do, as you say."

Norton shook his head peremptorily.

"Pardon me, my lord, no thanks. I am overpaid by the pleasure of ranking Dunroe among the number of my friends."

"You are too kind, indeed, Mr. Norton; and I trust my son will be duly grateful, as he is duly sensible of all you have done for him. By the way, Mr. Norton, you alluded to Connaught. You are, I presume, an Irishman?"

"I am an Irishman, my lord."

"Of course, sir, I make no inquiry as to your individual family. I am sure from what I have seen of you they must have been, and are, persons of worth and consideration; but I wished to ask if the name be a numerous one in Ireland, or rather, in your part of it--Connaught?"

"Numerous, my lord, no, not very numerous, but of the first respectability."

"Pray, is your father living, Mr. Norton? If he be, why don't you bring him among us? And if you have any brother, I need scarcely say what pleasure it would afford me, having, as you are aware, I presume, some influence with ministers, to do anything I could for him, should he require it; probably in the shape of a foreign appointment, or something that way. Anything, Mr. Norton, to repay a portion of what is due to you by my family."

"I thank your lordship," replied Tom. "My poor father was, as too many other Irish gentlemen have been, what is termed a hard goer (the honest man was a horse jockey like myself, thought Tom)--and indeed ran through a great deal of property during the latter part of his life (when he was huntsman to Lord Rattlecap, he went through many an estate)."

"Well, but your brother?"

"Deeply indebted, my lord, but I have no brother living. Poor Edward did get a foreign appointment many years ago (he was transported for horse stealing), by the influence of one of the most eminent of our judges, who strongly advised him to accept it, and returned his name to government as a worthy and suitable candidate. He died there, my lord, in the discharge of his appointed duties. Poor Ned, however, was never fond of public business under government, and, indeed, accepted the appointment in question with great reluctance."

"The reason why I made these inquiries about the name of Norton," said Lord Cullamore, "is this. There was, several years ago, a respectable female of the name, who held a confidential situation in my family; I have long lost sight of her, however, and would be glad to know whether she is living or dead."

("My sister-in-law," thought Tom.) "I fear," he replied, "I can render you no information on that point, my lord; the last female branch of our part of the family was my grandmother, who died about three years ago."

At this moment a servant entered the apartment, bearing in his hand a letter, for which office he had received a bribe of half-a-crown. "I beg pardon, my lord, but there's a woman at the hall-door, who wishes this letter to be handed to that gentleman; but I fear there's some mistake," he added, "it is directed to Barney Bryan. She insists he is here, and that she saw him come into the house."

"Barney Bryan," said Tom, with great coolness; "show me the letter, for I think I know something about it. Yes, I am right. It is an insane woman, my lord, wife to a jockey of mine, who broke his neck riding my celebrated horse, Black and all Black, on the Curragh. The poor creature cannot believe that her husband is dead, and thinks that I enjoy that agreeable privilege. The circumstance, indeed, was a melancholy one; but I have supported her ever since."

Morty O'Flaherty, who had transferred his charge to other hands, fearing that Mister Norton might get into trouble, now came to the rescue.

"Pray," said Tom, quick as lightning, "is that insane creature below still, a poor woman whose husband broke his neck riding a race for me on the Curragh, and she thinks that I stand to her in that capacity?"

"Oh, yes; she says," added the man who brought the letter, "that this gentleman's name is not Norton, but Bryan--Barney Bryan, I think--and that he is her husband, exactly as the gentleman says."

"Just so, my lord," said Tom, smiling; "poor thing! what a melancholy delusion."

"I was present at the accident, Mr. Norton," added Morty, boldly, "and remember the circumstance, in throth, very well. Didn't the poor woman lose her senses by it?"

"Yes," replied Tom, "I have just mentioned the circumstance to his lordship."

"And--beg pardon, Mr. Norton--doesn't she take you for her husband from that day to this?"

"Yes, so I have said."

"Oh, God help her, poor thing! Isn't she to be pitied?" added Morty, with a dry roguish glance at Mr. Norton; "throth, she has a hard fate of it. Howaniver, she is gone. I got her off, an' now the place is I clear of the unfortunate creature. The lord look to her!"

The servants then withdrew, and Norton made his parting bow to Lord Cullamore, whom we now leave to his meditations on the subject of this interview. _

Read next: Chapter 21. A Spy Rewarded

Read previous: Chapter 19. Interview Between Trailcudgel And The Stranger

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