Light O' The Morning
L. T. Meade
Part 5 out of 6
I don't mind helping you both. It don't do for young girls to be
wandering about the streets alone at night. You come with me,
honeys. I can't take you for nothing, but I'll give you supper and
breakfast, and the best bed I can, for five shillings."
Accordingly, in Mrs. Terry's company, the two girls left Waterloo
Station. She walked down a somewhat narrow side-street, crossed another,
and they presently found themselves in a little, old-fashioned square.
The square was very old indeed, belonging to quite a dead-and-gone
period of the world. The woman stopped at a house which once had been
large and stately; doubtless in days gone by it had sheltered goodly
personages and had listened to the laughter of the rich and well-to-do;
but in its old age the house was let out in tenements, and Mrs. Terry
owned a couple of rooms at the very top.
She took the girls up the dirty stairs, opened the door of a not
uncomfortable sitting room, and ushered them in.
"There now, honeys," she said; "the best I can do for you both is
the sofa for one and my bed for the other."
"No, no," said Nora, "we would not dream of taking your bed; and,
for that matter, I could not sleep," she added. "If you will let me
have a couple of chairs I shall lie down on them and wait as best I
can until the morning. Oh, I have often done it at home and thought
it great fun."
"Well, you must each have a bit of supper first; it don't do for
young girls to go to bed hungry, more particularly when they have a
journey before them. I'll get you some bread and cheese and a glass
of milk each--unless, indeed, you would prefer beer?"
"Oh, no, we would much rather have milk," said Molly.
The woman bustled about, and soon came in with a jug of milk, a
couple of glasses, some bread, and some indifferent butter.
"You can have the cheese if you really want it," she said.
"No; this will do beautifully," answered Nora.
"Well then, my dears, I'll leave you now for the night. The lamp
will burn all night. It will be lonely for young girls to be in the
dark; and I'll promise to call you at five o'clock. There's a train
leaves Euston between six and seven that you had better catch,
unless you want them as is hindering you from flight to stop you. I
am interested in this poor young lady who wants to see her father."
"Oh, thank you; you are a perfect darling!" said Nora. "I'll come
and see you some day when I am happy again, and tell you all about
"Bless your kind heart, honey! I'm glad to be able to do something
for those who are in trouble. Now then, lie down and have a bit of
sleep. I'll wake you sure and certain, and you shan't stir, the two
of you, until you have had a hot cup of tea each."
Mrs. Terry was as good as her word. She called the girls in good
time, and gave them quite a comfortable breakfast before they
started. The tea was hot; the bread was good--what else did they
Nora awoke from a very short and broken slumber.
"Soon I shall be back again," she thought. "No matter how changed
and ruined the place is, I shall be with him once more. Oh, my
darling, my heart's darling, I shall kiss you again! Oh! I am happy
at the thought."
Mrs. Terry herself accompanied them to Euston. It was too early to
get a cab; she asked them if they were good walkers. They said they
were. She took them by the shortest routes; and, somewhat tired, but
still full of a strange exultation, they found themselves at the
great station. Mrs. Terry saw them into their train, and with many
loudly uttered blessings started them on their journey. She would
not touch anything more than the five shillings, and tears were in
her eyes as she looked her last at them.
"God bless them, and particularly that little Irish girl. Haven't
she just got the cunningest, sweetest way in all the world?" thought
the good woman. "I do hope her father will be better when she gets
to him. Don't she love him just!"
Yes, it had been the most daring scheme, the wildest sort of
adventure, for two girls to undertake, and yet it was crowned with
success. They were too far on their journey for Mrs. Hartrick,
however much she might wish it, to rescue them. She might be as
angry as she pleased; but nothing now could get them back. She
accordingly did the very best thing she could do--telegraphed to Mr.
Hartrick to say that they had absolutely run away, but begged of him
to meet them in Dublin. This the good man did. He met them both on
the pier, received them quietly, without much demonstration; but
then, looking into Nora's anxious face, his own softened.
"You have come, Nora, and against my will," he said. "Are you
"Not a bit, Uncle George," she answered. "I would have come against
the wills of a thousand uncles if father were ill."
"Then I have nothing to say," he answered, with a smile, "at least
to you; but, Molly, I shall have something to talk to you about
"It was very good of you to meet us, father. Was mother terribly
"What could you expect her to be? You have behaved very badly."
"I don't think so. I did the only possible thing to save Nora's
heart from breaking."
"It seems to me," said Mr. Hartrick slowly, "that you all think of
nothing but the heart of Nora. I am almost sorry now that I ever
asked her to come to us in England."
"Oh, it's home again; it's home again!" cried the Irish girl as she
paced up and down the platform. "Molly, do listen to the brogue.
Isn't it just delicious? Come along, and let's talk to this poor old
"Oh, but he doesn't look at all pleasant," said Molly, backing a
"Bless the crayther, but he is pleasant," said Nora. "I must go and
have a chat with him." She caught hold of Molly's hand, and dragged
her to the edge of the pavement, where an old man, with almost blind
eyes, was seated in front of a large basket of rosy apples.
"And how are you this morning, father?" said Nora.
"Oh, then, it's the top of the morning to yez, honey," was the
instant reply. "And how is yourself?"
"Very well indeed," said Nora.
"Then it's I that am delighted to see yez, though see yez I can't.
Oh, then, I hope that it's a long life and plenty you'll have before
you, my sweet, dear, illigant young lady--a good bed to lie on, and
plenty to eat and drink. If you has them, what else could ail yez?
Good-by to yez; good-by to yez."
Nora slipped a couple of pence into his hand.
"The blessings of the Vargin and all the Saints be on your head,
miss. Oh! it's I that am glad to see yez. God's blessing on yez a
Nora took the old man's hand and wrung it. He raised the white
little hand to his lips and kissed it.
"There now," he said, "I have kissed yez; and these lips shan't see
wather again for many a long day--that they shan't. I wouldn't wash
off the taste of your hand, honey, for a bag of yellow gold."
"What an extraordinary man!" said Molly. "Have you known him all
"Known him all my life!" said Nora. "Never laid eyes on him before;
that's the way we always talk to one another. Oh, I can tell you we
love each other here in Ireland."
"It seems so," answered Molly, in some astonishment. "Dear me! if
you address a total stranger so, how will you speak to those you
"You wait and see," answered Nora, her dark-blue eyes shining, and a
mist of tears dimming their brightness; "you wait and see. Ah, it's
past words we are sometimes; but you wait and you'll soon see."
Mr. O'Shanaghgan was pronounced better, although Mr. Hartrick had to
admit that he was weak and fretful; and, now that Nora had come, it
was extremely likely that her presence would do her father a sight
"I knew it, Uncle George," she answered as they seated themselves in
the railway carriage preparatory to going back to O'Shanaghgan--"I
knew it, and that was why I came. You, uncle, are very wise," she
added; "and yours is a beautiful, neat, orderly country; and you are
very kind, and very clever; and you have been awfully good to the
Irish girl--awfully good; and she is very ignorant; and you know a
great deal; but one thing she does know best, and that is, the love
and the longing in the heart of her own dear father. Oh, hurrah! I'm
home again; I'm home again! Erin go bragh! Erin go bragh!"
THE WILD IRISH.
The somewhat slow Irish train jogged along its way; it never put
itself out, did that special train, starting when it pleased, and
arriving when it chose at its destination. Its guard, Jerry by name,
was of a like mind with itself; there was no hurry about Jerry; he
took the world "aisy," as he expressed it.
"What's the good of fretting?" he used to say. "What can't be cured
must be endured. I hurry no man's cattle; and my train, she goes
when she likes, and I aint going to hurry her, not I."
On one occasion Jerry was known to remark to a somewhat belated
"Why, then, miss, is it hurrying ye are to meet the train? Why,
then, you can take your time."
"Oh, Jerry!" said this anxious person, fixing her eyes on his face
in great excitement, "I forgot a most important parcel at a shop
half a mile away."
"Run and fetch it, then, honey," replied Jerry, "and I'll keep her a
This the lady accordingly did. When she returned, the heads of all
the other angry passengers were out of the windows expostulating
with Jerry as to the cause of the delay.
"Hurry up, miss," he said then. He popped her into a compartment,
and she, as he called the train, moved slowly out of the station.
At times, too, without the smallest provocation, Jerry would stop
this special train because a little "pigeen" had got off one of the
trucks and was running along the line. He and the porter shouted and
raced after the animal, caught it, and brought it back to the train.
On another occasion he calmly informed a rather important passenger,
"Ye had best get out here, for she's bust." "She" happened to be the
Into this train now got English Molly and Irish Nora. Mr. Hartrick
pronounced it quite the vilest service he had ever traveled by. He
began to grumble the moment he got into the train.
"It crawls," he said; "and it absolutely has the cheek to call
itself an express."
But Nora, with her head out of the window, was shouting to Jerry,
who came toward her full of blessings, anxious to shake her purty
white hand, and telling her that he was as glad as a shower of gould
to have her back again in the old country.
At last, however, the slow, very slow journey came to an end; and
just after sunset the party found themselves at the little wayside
station. Here a sight met Nora's eyes which displeased her
exceedingly. Instead of the old outside car which her father used to
drive, with the shabby old retainer, whose livery had long ago seen
its best days, there arrived a smart groom, in the newest of livery,
with a cockade in his hat. He touched his hat respectfully to Mr.
Hartrick, and gave a quick glance round at Nora and Molly.
"Is the brougham outside, Dennis?" was Mr. Hartrick's response.
"Yes, sir; it has been waiting for half an hour; the train is a bit
late, as usual, sir."
"You need not tell me that this train is ever in time," said Mr.
Hartrick. "Well, girls, come along; I told Dennis to meet us, and
here we are."
Molly thought nothing at all of the neat brougham, with its pair of
spirited grays; she was accustomed to driving in the better-class of
carriage all her life; but Nora turned first pale and then crimson.
She got into the carriage, and sat back in a corner; tears were
brimming to her eyes.
"This is the first. How am I to bear all the rest?" she said to
Mr. Hartrick, who had hoped that Nora would be pleased with the
brougham, with Dennis himself, with the whole very stylish get-up,
was mortified at her silence, and, taking her hand, tried to draw
"Well, little girl," he said, "I hope you will like the improvements
I have made in the Castle. I have done it all at your instigation,
"At my instigation?" cried Nora. "Oh, no, Uncle George, that you
He looked at her in some amazement, then closed his lips, and said
nothing more. Molly longed to get her father alone, in order to
explain Nora's peculiar conduct.
"It is difficult for an Englishman to understand her," thought
Molly. "I do, and I think her altogether charming; but father, who
has gone to this enormous expense and trouble, will be put out if
she does not show a little gratitude. I will tell her that she must;
I will take the very first opportunity."
And now they were turning in at the well-known gates. These gates
were painted white, whereas they had been almost reduced to their
native wood. The avenue was quite tidy, no weeds anywhere; but Nora
almost refused to look out. One by one the familiar trees seemed to
pass by her as she was bowled rapidly along in the new brougham, as
if they were so many ghosts saying good-by. But then there was the
roar--the real, real, grand roar--of the Atlantic in her ears. No
amount of tidiness, nothing could ever alter that sound.
"Oh, hurrah for the sea!" she said. She flung down the window and
popped out her head.
Mr. Hartrick nodded to Molly. "She will see a great deal more to
delight her than just the old ocean," he said.
Molly was silent. They arrived at the house; the butler was standing
on the steps, a nice, stylish-looking Englishman, in neat livery. He
came down, opened the carriage door, let down the steps, and offered
his arm to Nora to alight; but she pushed past him, bounded up the
steps, and the next moment found herself in her mother's arms.
"How do you do, my dear Nora?" said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan. "I am glad to
see you, dear, but also surprised. You acted in your usual
"Oh, another time, mother. Mummy, how are you? I am glad to see you
again; but don't scold me now; just wait. I'll bear it all patiently
another time. How is the dad, mummy?--how is the dad?"
"Your father is doing nicely, Nora; there was not the slightest
occasion for you to hurry off and give such trouble and annoyance."
"I don't suppose I have given annoyance to father," said Nora.
"Where is he--in his old room?"
"No; we moved him upstairs to the best bedroom. We thought it the
wisest thing to do; he was in considerable pain."
"The best bedroom? Which is the best bedroom?" said Nora. "Your
"The room next to mine, darling. And just come and have a look at
the drawing room, Nora."
"I will go to father first," said Nora. "Don't keep me; I can't
She forgot Molly; she forgot her uncle; she even forgot her mother.
In a moment she was bounding upstairs over those thick Axminster
carpets--those awful carpets, into which her feet sank--down a
corridor, also heavily lined with Axminster, past great velvet
curtains, which seemed to stifle her as she pushed them aside, and
the next instant she had burst open a door.
In the old days this room had been absolutely destitute of
furniture. In the older days again it had been the spare room of
Castle O'Shanaghgan. Here hospitality had reigned; here guests of
every degree had found a hearty welcome, an invitation to stay as
long as they pleased, and the best that the Castle could afford for
their accommodation. When Nora had left O'Shanaghgan, the only thing
that had remained in the old room was a huge four-poster. Even the
mattress from this old bed had been removed; the curtains had been
taken from the windows; the three great windows were bare of both
blinds and curtains. Now a soft carpet covered the entire floor; a
neat modern Albert bed stood in a recess; there were heavy curtains
to the windows, and Venetian blinds, which were so arranged as to
temper the light. But the light of the sunset had already faded, and
it was twilight when Nora popped her wild, excited little face round
In the bed lay a gaunt figure, unshaven, with a beard of a week's
growth. Two great eyes looked out of caverns, then two arms were
stretched out, and Nora was clasped to her father's breast.
"Ah, then, I have you again; may God be praised for all His mercies,"
said the Squire in a great, deep hoarse voice.
Nora lay absolutely motionless for nearly half a minute in his arms,
then she raised herself.
"Ah," she said, "that was good. I hungered for it."
"And I also hungered for it, my darling," said the Squire. "Let me
look at you, Light o' the Morning; get a light somehow, and let me
see your bonny, bonny, sweet, sweet face."
"Ah, there's a fire in the grate," said Nora. "Are there any
"Matches, bedad!" said the Squire; "there's everything that's
wanted. It's perfectly horrible. They are in a silver box, too,
bedad! What do we want with it? Twist up a bit of paper, do, Nora,
like a good girl, and light the glim the old way."
Nora caught at her father's humor at once. She had already flung off
her hat and jacket.
"To be sure I will," she said, "and with all the heart in the
world." She tore a long strip from the local paper, which was lying
on a chair near by, twisted it, lit it in the fire, and then applied
it to a candle.
"Only light one candle, for the love of heaven, child," said the
Squire. "I don't want to see too many of the fal-lals. Now then,
that's better; bring the light up to the bed. Oh, what I have
suffered with curtains, and carpets, and---"
"It's too awful, father," said Nora.
"That's it, child. That's the first cheery word I have heard for the
last six weeks--too awful I should think it is. They are smothering
me between them, Nora. I shall never get up and breathe the free air
again; but when you came in you brought a breath of air with you."
"Let's open the window. There's a gale coming up, We'll have some
air," said Nora.
"Why, then, Light o' the Morning, they say I'll get bronchitis if
the window is opened."
"They! Who are they?" said Nora, with scorn.
"Why, you wouldn't believe it, but they had a doctor down from
Dublin to see me. I don't believe he had a scrap of real Irish blood
in him, for he said I was to be nursed and messed over, and gruels
and all kinds of things brought to my bedside--I who would have
liked a fine potato with a pinch of salt better than anything under
"You'll have your potato and your pinch of salt now that I am back,"
said Nora. "I mean to be mistress of this room."
The Squire gave a laugh.
"Isn't it lovely to hear her?" he said. "Don't it do me a sight of
good? There, open the window wide, Nora, before your mother comes
in. Oh, your mother is as pleased as Punch, and for her sake I'd
bear a good deal; but I am a changed man. The old times are gone,
never to return. Call this place Castle O'Shanaghgan. It may be
suitable for an English nobleman to live in, but it's not my style;
it's not fit for an Irish squire. We are free over here, and we
don't go in for luxuries and smotherations."
"Ah, father, I had to go through a great deal of that in England,"
said Nora. "It's awful to think that sort of life has come here; but
there--there's the window wide open. Do you feel a bit of a breeze,
"To be sure I do; let me breathe it in. Prop me up in bed, Nora.
They said I was to lie flat on my back, but, bedad! I won't now that
you have come back."
Nora pushed some pillows under her father, and sat behind him to
support him, and at last she got him to sit up in bed with his face
turned to the wide-open window.
The blinds were rattling, the curtains were being blown into the
room, and the soft, wild sound of the sea fell on his ears.
"Ah, I'm better now," he said; "my lungs are cleared at bit. You had
best shut the window before your lady-mother comes in. And put the
candle so that I can't see the fal-lals too much," he continued;
"but place it so that I can gaze at your bonny face."
"You must tell me how you were hurt, father, and where."
"Bedad! then, I won't--not to-night. I want to have everything as
cheerful as possible to-night. My little girl has come back--the joy
of my heart, the light of my eyes, the top of the morning, and I'm
not going to fret about anything else."
"You needn't--you needn't," said Nora. "Oh! it is good to see you
again. There never was anybody like you in all the world. And you
were longing for Nora?"
"Now, don't you be fishing."
"But you were--wern't you?"
"To be sure--to be sure. Here, then, let me grip hold of your little
hand. I never saw such a tiny little paw. And so they haven't made a
fine English lady of you?"
"No, not they," said Nora.
"And you ran away to see your old dad? Why, then, you have the
spirit of the old O'Shanaghgans in you."
"Horses would not have kept me from you," said Nora.
"I might have known as much. How I laughed when your mother brought
in the telegram from your Aunt Grace this morning! And weren't they
in a fuss, and wasn't your Uncle George as cross as he could be, and
your mother rampaging up and down the room until I said, 'If you
want to bring on the fever, you'll go on like that, Ellen; and then
she went out, and I heard her talking to your uncle in the passage.
Clap, clap went their tongues. I never knew anything like English
people; they never talk a grain of anything amusing; that's the
worst of it. Why, it's the truth I'm telling you, darling; I haven't
had a hearty laugh since you left home. I'll do fine now. When they
were out of the room didn't I give way! I gave two loud guffaws,
that I did, when I thought of the trick you had played them. Ah,
you're a true daughter of the old race!"
Nora nestled up to her father, squeezing his hand now and then, and
looking into his face.
"We'll have a fine time to-morrow, and the next day, and the next
day, and the next," she said. "Oh! I am determined to be near you.
But isn't there one little place in the house left bare, father,
where we can go and have a happy moment?"
"Never a square inch," said the Squire, looking at her solemnly.
"It's too awful; even the attics have been cleared out and put in
order, for the servants, forsooth! says your Uncle George."
"What do we want so many retainers for? I am sure, now, if they
would take a good houseful of some of the poor villagers and plant
them up in those attics, there would be some sense in it."
"Oh, Nora, couldn't we get a bit of a place just like the old place,
all to ourselves?"
"I'll think it over," said Nora; "we'll manage somehow. We can't
stand feather-beds for ever and ever, father."
"Hark to her," said the Squire; "you're a girl after my own heart,
Light o' the Morning, and it's glad I am to see you, and to have you
While Nora and her father were talking together there came a sound
of a ponderous gong through the house.
"What's that?" said Nora, starting.
"You may well ask 'What's that?'" replied the Squire. "It's the
dinner-gong. There's dinner now in the evening, bedad! and up to
seven courses, by the same token. I sat out one or two of them; but,
bless my soul! I couldn't stand too much of that sort of thing. You
had best go and put on something fine. Your mother dresses in velvet
and silk and jewels for dinner. She looks wonderful; she is a very
fine woman indeed, is your mother. I am as proud as Punch of her;
but, all the same, it is too much to endure every day. She is
dressed for all the world as though she were going to a ball at the
Lord-Lieutenant's in Dublin. It's past standing; but you had best go
down and join 'em, Norrie."
"Not I. I am going to stay here," said Nora.
"No, no, darling pet; you had best go down, enjoy your dinner, and
come back and tell me about it. It will be fun to hear your
description. You mimic 'em as much as you like, Norrie; take 'em
off. Now, none of your coaxing and canoodling ways; off you go. You
shall come back later on, and tell me all about it. Oh, they are
stiff and stately, and they'll never know you and I are laughing at
'em up our sleeves. Now, be off with you."
So, unwillingly, Nora went. In the corridor outside she met her
"Why, you haven't begun to dress yet," said Molly; "and I'm going
down to dinner."
"Bother dress!" said Nora. "I am home again. Mother can't expect me
to dress." She rushed past her cousin. She was too excited to have
any sympathy then with English Molly. She ran up to her own room,
and stood with a sense of dismay on the threshold. It had always
been a beautiful room, with its noble proportions and its splendid
view; and it was now furnished exquisitely as well.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan had great taste. She had taken immense pains
with Nora's room; had thought it all out, and got it papered and
painted after a scheme of color of her own. The furniture was of
light wood--the room was fit to be the bower of a gracious and
lovely maiden; there were new books in the little bookcase hanging
up by the bedside. Everything was new and everything was beautiful.
There was no sense of bad taste about the room; it was furnished
Nora stood and gazed at it, and her heart sank.
"Oh! it is kind of mother; it is beautiful," she said to herself;
"but am I never, never, never to lie down in the little old bed
again? Am I never to pour water out of the cracked old jug? Am I
never to look at myself in the distorted glass? Oh, dear! oh, dear!
how I did love looking at myself in the old glass, which made one
cheek much more swollen than the other, and one eyebrow went up a
quarter of an inch above the other, and my mouth was a little
crooked! It is perfectly horrid to know one's self all one's life
long with a swollen cheek and a crooked mouth, and then see
classical features without a scrap of fun in them. Oh, dear! But I
suppose I had best get ready."
So Nora washed her face and hands, and ran downstairs. The dining
room looked heavy and massive, and the footman and the butler
attended noiselessly; and Mr. Hartrick at the foot of the table and
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan at the head looked as stately a pair as could be
found in the length and breadth of the land.
Molly, nicely dressed in her dinner-frock, was quite in keeping with
the elder pair; but wild Nora, still wearing her gray traveling-dress,
felt herself out of place. Her cheeks were flushed with the excitement
of seeing her father; her hair was wild and disarranged. Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan looked at her all over with marked disapproval.
"Why, she looks scarcely pretty," thought the mother to herself.
"How tired and fagged she appears! Dear, dear! if after all the
trouble I have gone to, Nora disappoints me in this way, life will
really not be worth living."
But Mrs. O'Shanaghgan could scarcely suppress the joy which was now
filling her life. She was the mistress of a noble home; she was at
the head of quite the finest establishment in the county. Already
all the best county folk had called upon her several times.
It is sad to state that these great and rich people had rather
neglected the lady of the Castle during the last few years; but now
that she drove about behind a pair of horses, that her house was
refurnished, that wealth seemed to have filled all her coffers, she
was certainly worth attending to.
"Now that you have come back, Nora," said her mother in the course
of the meal, "I wish to say that I have several invitations for you,
and that Molly can accept too." She looked with kindness at Molly,
who, if only Nora had been happy, would have thoroughly enjoyed
"I must show you the drawing room after dinner, my dear," said her
mother. "It is really a magnificent room. And I must also show you
my morning room, and the library, and your father's smoking room."
"This is a splendid house, you know, Ellen," said Mr. Hartrick to
his sister, "and pays for doing up. Why, a house like this in any
habitable part of England would fetch a colossal fortune."
Nora sighed and shrugged her shoulders. Molly glanced at her, and
the word "Jehoshaphat!" was almost trembling on her lips. She kept
it back, however; she was wonderfully on her good behavior to-night.
At last the long and dreary meal came to an end. Nora could scarcely
suppress her yawns of utter weariness. She began to think of nothing
but lying down, shutting her eyes, and going into a long and
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan rose from the table and sailed out of the room. A
footman flung open the door for her, and Nora and Molly followed in
"I'll be with you presently in the drawing room, Ellen," said Mr.
Hartrick to his sister; "but first of all I'll just go up and have a
smoke with O'Shanaghgan. You found your father much better to-night,
did you not, Nora?"
"I thought father looked very bad indeed," said Nora. She could not
add another word; she went out into the hall.
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan took her hand, squeezing it up in a tight
"You ought not to speak in that tone to your uncle," she said; "you
can never, never know all that he has done for us. He is the
noblest, the most generous, the best man in the world."
"Oh, I know all that, mother; I know all that," said Nora. She did
not add, "But for me he would never have done it. It was I who
inserted the thin edge of the wedge." Her tone was gentle; her
mother looked at her with a softening of her own face.
"Well, dear," she said, "your Uncle George has taken a great fancy
to you. Notwithstanding your eccentricities, Nora--and they are
considerable--he says you have the making of a fine girl. But come,
we must not neglect your cousin. Come here, dear Molly; you and Nora
will be interested in seeing what a beautiful place Castle
O'Shanaghgan is now."
Molly took hold of Nora's other hand, and they entered the drawing
room. It was lit with soft candles in many sconces; the blinds were
down; across the windows were drawn curtains of Liberty silk of the
palest, softest shade of rose. On the floor was a carpet of many
soft colors cunningly mingled. The walls were painted a pale
artistic green, large mirrors were introduced here and there, and
old family portraits, all newly framed, of dead and gone
O'Shanaghgans, hung on the painted walls. There were new tables,
knick-knacks--all the various things which constitute the drawing
room of an English lady.
Nora felt for one brief, passionate, angry moment that she was back
again at The Laurels; but then, seeing the light in her mother's
eyes, the pink flush of happiness on her cheeks, she restrained
"It makes you happy, mummy," she said, "and----"
"But what do you think of it, my darling?"
"It is a very beautiful room."
"Ah! that is right. I thought my little wildflower would appreciate
all these things when she came back again. Ah, Nora! you have been a
naughty, wild imp; but your father was delighted when he heard what
you had done. Of course I am terribly angry."
"No, you are not, mummy; you are pleased to see me again."
"I am glad to have you back, Nora; but as to being pleased, how
could I be? However, you can stay here for a fortnight or so now
that you have come; and then, when your dear uncle leaves us, you
and Molly can go back with him."
Nora did not say anything; but a stubborn look came into her face
which her mother knew of old.
From the drawing room they went to the library, which had also
undergone complete rejuvenation. The walls were laden with standard
works of different kinds; but some of the shelves were still empty.
"The old books, your uncle says, were of great value," said Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan, "and he sent them all to Dublin to be rebound. They
have not come back yet. They are to be bound in old calf, and will
suit the rest of the room. Is it not a magnificent apartment?"
Nora said "Yes" in a somewhat dreamy voice.
They then went to her mother's morning-room, and then on to the
"They might at least have left this alone," thought the girl. "They
might at least have left this one room, where he could retire when
he felt quite choked by all the furniture in the rest of the place."
But even the Squire's smoking-room was changed into the smoking-room
of an English gentleman. There were deep easy-chairs covered with
leather; there were racks for pipes, and great brass dogs before the
fireplace; on the floor was a thick carpet. Nora felt as if she
longed to give it a savage kick.
At last the terrible ordeal of going through the--to her, utterly
ruined--house was over, and she and Molly found themselves alone.
"I will go up to your father for a few minutes," said Mrs.
O'Shanaghgan, nodding to Nora. "You and your cousin will like to
have a chat; and then, my dears, I should recommend you both to go
to bed as early as possible."
When they were back again in the big drawing room Nora gave Molly a
"Come out," she said; "at least out of doors the air is the same as
Molly caught up a shawl and wrapped it round her head; but Nora went
out just as she was.
"You'll catch cold," said English Molly.
"I catch cold in my native land!" replied Irish Nora. "How little
you know me! Oh, come, Molly, I am going to be wild; I am going to
They both stepped outside on the broad gravel sweep. The moon was
up, and it was shining over everything. In the moonlight Castle
O'Shanaghgan looked very much as it had done before. The moon had
always glorified the old place, and it glorified it still. Nora
stood and gazed around her; up to the tops of the mountains, with
their dark summits clearly defined against the evening sky; across
the wide breadth of the Atlantic; over the thick plantations, the
fields, and the huge trees in the background.
"It's all the same," she said, with a glad laugh; "thank God it is
all the same. Even your father, Molly, cannot destroy the place
outside, at least."
"Oh Nora, it is such a lovely, lovely place!" said Molly. "Cannot
you be happy in it with its modern dress?"
"Happy," said Nora, suddenly brought back to her sense of misery by
the word. "I am thankful that my father is not so ill; but--but you
must help, Molly. Promise that you will."
"I am sure I'd do anything in the world," said Molly. "I think I
have been very good to-day. I have kept in my naughty words,
Jehoshaphat and Moses and Elephants, and all the rest. What do you
want me to do, Nora?"
"We must get him out of that room," said Nora.
"Him? You mean your father?"
"Yes; he will never recover there. I have been thinking and
thinking, and I'll have my plan ready by the morning; only you must
help me. I'll get Hannah Croneen to come in, and we'll do it between
us if you can help me."
"But what is it?" said Molly.
"I'll tell you in the morning; you wait and see."
THE LION IN HIS CAGE.
The Squire was better, and not better. He had received a very nasty
flesh-wound in the thigh; but the bullet had been extracted. There
was not the slightest clew to the identity of his would-be murderer.
The Squire himself had said nothing. He had been found almost
bleeding to death by the roadside; the alarm had been given, and in
terror and consternation his own tenants had brought him home.
The Squire could have said a good deal, but he said nothing. The
police came and asked him questions, but he kept his lips closed.
"I didn't see the man," he said after a pause. "Somebody fired, of
course; but I can't tell who, for I saw no one; it was from behind
the hedge. Why the scoundrel who wanted to do for me didn't shoot a
little higher up puzzles me. But there, let it rest--let it rest."
And the neighbors and the country had to let it rest, for there was
no evidence against anyone. Amongst those who came to inquire after
the Squire was Andy Neil. He came often, and was full of
commiseration, and loudly cursed the brute who had very nearly done
for his old landlord. But the neighbors had suspicions with regard
to Andy, for he had been turned out of his cot in the mountains, and
was living in the village now. They scowled at him when he passed,
and turned aside; and his own face looked more miserable than ever.
Still, he came daily up to the big kitchen to inquire for the
The doctor said there was no reason whatever why Mr. O'Shanaghgan
should not get quite well. He was by no means old--not more than
fifty; there was not the slightest occasion for a break-down, and
yet, to all appearance, a break-down there was. The Squire got
morose; he hardly ever smiled; even Nora's presence scarcely drew a
hearty guffaw from his lips. The doctors were puzzled.
"What can be wrong?" they said. But Nora herself knew very well what
was wrong. She and her father were the only ones who did know. She
knew that the old lion was dying in captivity; that he was
absolutely succumbing to the close and smothered life which he was
now leading. He wanted the free air of his native mountains; he
wanted the old life, now gone for ever, back again.
"It is true the place is saved, Norrie," he said once to his
daughter, "and I haven't a word to say. I would be the most
ungrateful dog in existence if I breathed a single word of
complaint. The place is saved; and though it nominally belongs now
to your Uncle George, to all intents and purposes it is my place,
and he gives me to understand that at my death it goes to my boy.
Yes, he has done a noble deed, and of course I admire him
"And so do I, father," said Nora; but she looked thoughtful and
troubled; and one day, after she had been in her father's room for
some time, when she met her uncle in the avenue she spoke to him.
"Well, my dear girl," he said, "what about coming back with me to
England when I go next week?"
"It is not to be thought of, Uncle George. How can I leave my father
while he is ill?"
"That is true. I have been thinking about him. The doctors are a
little distressed at his growing weakness. They cannot quite
understand it. Tonics have been given to him and every imaginable
thing has been done. He wants for nothing; his nourishment is of the
best; still he makes no way. It is puzzling."
"I don't think so," said Nora.
"What do you mean, my dear girl?"
"You might do all that sort of thing for an eagle, you know," said
Nora, raising her clear eyes and fixing them on her uncle's face.
"You might give him everything in his prison, much more than he had
when he was free; but, all the same, he would pine and--and he would
die." Tears rose to the girl's eyes; she dashed them away.
"My dear little Nora, I don't in the least see the resemblance,"
said Mr. Hartrick, who felt, and perhaps justly, rather nettled.
"You seem to imply by your words that I have done your father an
injury when I secured the home of his ancestors for him."
"Oh, forgive me, Uncle George," said Nora. "I don't really mean to
say anything against you, for you are just splendid."
Mr. Hartrick did not reply; he looked puzzled and thoughtful. Nora,
after a moment's silence, spoke again.
"I am most grateful to you. I believe you have done what is best--at
least what you think best. You have made my mother very happy, and
Terence will be so pleased; and the tenants--oh! they will get their
rights now, their cabins will be repaired, the roofs mended, the
windows put in fresh, the little gardens stocked for them. Oh, yes,
you are behaving most generously. Anyone would suppose the place
belonged to you."
"Which it does," muttered Mr. Hartrick under his breath.
"You have made a great many people happy, only somehow--somehow it
is not quite the way to make my father happy, and it is not the way
to make me happy. But I have nothing more to say, except that I
cannot leave my father now."
"You must come to us after Christmas, then," said Mr. Hartrick. "I
must go back next week, and I shall probably take Molly with me."
"Oh! leave her with me here," said Nora suddenly. "I do wish you
would; the air here is so healthy. Do let her stay, and then perhaps
after Christmas, when things are different, we might both go back."
"Of course things will be different," said Mr. Hartrick. "A new
doctor is coming to see your father next week, and he will probably
change the _regime_; he may order him fresh air, and before
long we shall have him strong and well amongst us again. He has
absolutely nothing wrong except----"
"Except that he has everything wrong," said Nora.
"Well, well, my dear child, I will think over your suggestion that
Molly should stay with you; and in the meantime remember that we are
all coming to O'Shanaghgan for Christmas."
"All of you!" said Nora in dismay.
"Yes, all of us. Your aunt has never spent a real old-fashioned
Christmas in her life, and I mean her to have it this year. I shall
bring over some of our English habits to this place. We will roast
an ox whole, and have huge bonfires, and all kinds of things, and
the tenantry shall have a right good time. There, Nora, you smile;
that pleases you."
"You are so kind," she said. She clasped his hands in both of hers,
and then turned away.
"There never was anyone kinder," thought the girl to herself; "but
all the same he does not understand." She re-entered the house and
went up to her father's room.
The Squire was lying on his back. The days were now getting short,
for November had begun. There was a big fire in the grate; the
Squire panted in the hot room.
"Just come in here," he said to Nora. "Don't make much noise; lock
the door--will you, pet?"
"Now fling the window wide open; let me get a breath of air."
Nora did open the window, but the air was moist and damp from the
Atlantic, and even she, fearless as she was, hesitated when she
heard her father's cough.
"There, child, there," he said; "it's the lungs beginning to work
properly again. Now then, you can shut it up; I hear a step. For
Heaven's sake, Nora, be quick, or your mother may come in, and won't
she be making a fuss! There, unlock the door."
"But you are worse, father; you are worse."
"What else can you expect? They don't chain up wild animals and
expect them to get well. I never lived through anything of this sort
before, and it's just smothering me."
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan entered the room.
"Patrick," she said, "would you like some sweetbread and a bit of
pheasant for your dinner?"
"Do you know what I'd like?" roared the Squire. "A great big mealy
potato, with a pinch of salt."
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan uttered a sigh, and the color rushed into her pale
"Upon my word," she said, "you are downright vulgar."
The Squire gave a feeble guffaw. Nora's heart beat as she noticed
how feeble it was. She left the room, because she could not stay
there another moment. The time had come to act. She had hesitated
long, but she would hesitate no longer. She ran downstairs. The
first person she saw was Molly.
"Well," said Molly, "how is he?"
"Very bad indeed," said Nora; "there's not a moment to lose.
Something must be done, and quickly."
"What can be done?"
"Come out with me; I have a thought in my head."
Nora and Molly went outside. They crossed the avenue, went along the
plantation at the back, and soon found themselves in the huge yard
which flanked the back of the house. In a distant part of the yard
was a barn, and this barn Nora now entered. It was untidy; the doors
fitted badly; the floor was of clay. It was quite empty.
Nora gave a sigh of relief.
"I dreamed of this barn last night," she said. "I think it is the
"For what, Nora; for what?"
"I am going to have father moved here to-day."
"Nora, what nonsense you are talking! You will kill him."
"Save his life, you mean," said Nora. "I am going to get a bedstead,
a straw paillasse, and an old hard mattress, and I am going to have
them put here; and we'll get a bit of tarpaulin to put on the floor,
to prevent the damp coming up; and I'll put a curtain across this
window so that he needn't have too much draught, the darling; and
there shall be nothing else in the room except a wooden table. He
shall have his potatoes and salt, and his bit of salt bacon, if he
wishes, and he shall have his great big bare room. I tell you what
it is, Molly, he'll never get well unless he is brought here."
"What a girl you are! But how will you do it?"
"Leave it to me. Do you mind driving with me on the outside car as
far as Cronane?"
"The outside car? I have never been on it yet."
"Oh, come along; I'll introduce you to the sweetest conveyance in
Nora's spirits rose at the thought of immediate action.
"Won't it surprise and delight him?" she said. She went up to one of
the grooms. He was an English groom, and was somewhat surprised at
the appearance of the young lady in the yard.
"What can I do for you, miss?" he said.
"I want Angus," answered Nora. "Where is he?"
Angus was one of the few old Irish servants who were still left at
Castle O'Shanaghgan. He now came forward in a sheepish kind of way;
but when he saw Nora his face lit up.
"Put one of the horses to the outside car at once--Black Bess if you
can," said Nora.
"Yes, miss," said the man, "with all the pleasure in life."
"Don't take it round to the front door. Miss Molly and I want to
drive to Cronane. You needn't come with us, Angus; just put the
horse to, and I'll drive myself."
Accordingly, in less than ten minutes' time the two girls were
driving in the direction of Cronane. Molly, brave as she was, had
some difficulty in keeping on. She clung to the sides of the car and
"Nora, as sure as Jehoshaphat and Elephants, I'll be flung out on to
the highroad!" cried Molly.
"Sit easy and nothing will happen," said Nora, who was seated
comfortably herself at the other side and was driving with vigor.
Presently they reached Cronane, which looked just as dilapidated as
"Oh, the darling place! Isn't it a relief to see it?" said Nora. "Don't
I love that gate off its hinges! It's a sight for sore eyes--that it
They dashed up the avenue and stopped before the hall door.
Standing on the steps--where, indeed, he spent most of his time--and
indulging in the luxury of an old church-warden pipe, was Squire
Murphy. He raised a shout when he saw Nora, and ran down the steps
as fast as he could.
"Why, my bit of a girl, it's good to see you!" he cried. "And who is
this young lady?"
"This is my cousin, Molly Hartrick. Molly, may I introduce you to
"Have a grip of the paw, miss," said Squire Murphy, holding out his
great hand and clasping Molly's.
"And now, what can I do for you, Nora alannah? 'Tis I that am glad
to see you. There's Biddy in the house, and the wife; they'll give
you a hearty welcome, and no mistake. You come along right in, the
pair of yez; come right in."
"But I cannot," said Nora. "I want to speak to you alone and at
once. Can you get one of the boys to hold the horse?"
"To be sure. Dan, you spalpeen! come forward this minute. Now then,
hold Black Bess, and look alive, lad. Well, Nora, what is it?"
Molly stood on the gravel sweep, Nora and the Squire walked a few
"It's this," said Nora; "you haven't asked yet how father is."
"But he is doing fine, they tell me. I see I'm not wanted at
O'Shanaghgan; and I'm the last man in the world to go there when the
cold shoulder is shown to me."
"Oh! they would never mean that," said Nora, in distress.
"Oh, don't they mean it, my dear? Haven't I been up to the Castle
day after day, and asking for the Squire with my heart in my mouth,
and ready to sit by his side and to colleague with him about old
times, and raise a laugh in him, and smoke with him; and haven't I
been repelled?--the Squire not well enough to see me; madam herself
not at home. Oh, I know their ways. When you were poor at
O'Shanaghgan, then Squire Murphy was wanted; but now that you're
rich, Squire Murphy can go his own way for aught you care."
"It is not true, Mr. Murphy," said the girl, her bright blue eyes
filling with tears. "Oh!" she added, catching his hand impulsively,
"don't I know it all? But it's not my father's fault; he would give
the world to see you--he shall see you. Do you know why he is ill?"
"Why so, Nora? Upon my word, you're a very handsome girl, Nora."
"Oh, never mind about my looks now. My father is ill because--because
of all the luxury and the riches."
"Bedad, then, I'm glad to hear it," said the Squire of Cronane. He
slapped his thigh loudly. "It's the best bit of news I have heard
this many a day; it surprised me how he could put up with it. And
it's killing him?"
"That's about it," said Nora. "He must be rescued."
"I'll do what I can," said Squire Murphy. "Will you do this? Will
you this very day get out the long cart and have an old bedstead put
into it, and an old paillasse and an old mattress; and will you see
that it is taken over this very afternoon to O'Shanaghgan? I'll be
there, and the bedstead shall be put up in the old barn, and father
shall sleep in the barn to-night, and you and I, Squire, and Hannah
Croneen, and Molly, will help to move him while the rest of the
family are at tea."
The Squire stared at Nora so long after she had made these remarks
that she really thought he had taken leave of his senses; then he
burst into a great loud laugh, clapped his hand to his side, and
wrung Nora's until she thought he would wring it off. Then he turned
back to the house, walking so fast that Nora had to run after him.
But she knew that she had found her ally, and that her father would
RELEASE OF THE CAPTIVE.
All Nora's wishes were carried into effect. The long cart was got
out. An old mattress was secured, also an old bedstead. The mattress
happened to be well aired, for, indeed, it was one on which the
Squire himself had slept the previous night; but, as he remarked, he
would gladly give the bed from under him for the sake of his old
Molly helped, also Biddy and Nora, in all the preparations, and at
last the three girls jumped upon the outside car and returned to
O'Shanaghgan. Biddy felt that she was anything but welcome. She was
certainly not looking her best. Her dress was of the shabbiest, and
her turned-up nose looked more celestial than ever. Molly was gazing
at her just as if she were a sort of curiosity, and finally Biddy
resented this close scrutiny, and turned to Nora, grasping her by
"Tell her," said Biddy, "that it is very rude to stare in that sort
of stolid way. If she were an Irish girl she would give a flashing
glance and then look away again; but that way of staring full and
stiff puts a body out. Tell her it is not true Irish manners."
"Oh, Jehoshaphat!" exclaimed Molly, "I hear you both whispering
together. What is it all about? I am nearly wild trying to keep
myself on this awful car, and I know you are saying something not in
"We are that," cried Biddy; "we are just wishing you would keep your
English manners to yourself."
Molly flushed rather indignantly.
"I did not know that I was doing anything," she said.
"Why, then," cried Biddy, "is it nothing when you are bringing the
blushes to my cheeks and the palpitation to my heart; and is it
nothing to be, as it were, exposed to the scorn of the English? Why,
then, bedad! I have got my nose from the old Irish kings, from whom
I am descended, as true as true. Blue is my blood, and I am as proud
of my ancestry as if I was Queen Victoria herself. I see that you
have neat, straight features; but you have not got a scrap of royal
blood in you--now, have you?"
"I don't think so," answered Molly, laughing in spite of herself.
"Well, if it offends you, I will try not to look at you again."
The drive came to an end, and Nora entered the big, splendidly
furnished hall, accompanied by Molly and Biddy. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan
happened to be standing there. She came hurriedly forward.
"My dear Nora," she began, but then her eyes fell upon Biddy. Her
brows went up with a satirical action; she compressed her lips and
kept back a sigh of annoyance.
"How do you do, Miss Murphy?" she said.
"I am fine, thank you kindly, ma'am," replied Biddy; "and it is
sorry I am that I had not time to change my dress and put on the
pink one with the elegant little flounces that my aunt sent me from
"Oh, your present dress will do very well," said Mrs. O'Shanaghgan,
suppressing an internal shudder at the thought of Biddy at the
renovated Castle of O'Shanaghgan in her dirty pink dress with the
"But, Miss Murphy," she continued, "I am sorry that I cannot ask you
to stay. The Squire is too unwell to admit of our having friends at
"Oh, glory!" cried Biddy, "and how am I to get back again? Why, it
was on your own outside car that I came across country, and I cannot
walk all the way back to Cronane. Oh, but what a truly beautiful
house! I never saw anything like it. Why, it is a sort of palace!"
Biddy's open admiration of the glories of O'Shanaghgan absolutely
made the good mistress of the mansion smile. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan felt
that Nora did not really care for the beautiful place--the grandly
furnished rooms had brought no enthusiasm or delight to her heart.
Nora had tried very hard to keep in her real feelings; but her
mother was quite sharp enough to know what they were. There was
little pleasure in taking a girl round rooms, corridors, and
galleries when she was only forcing herself to say pretty things
which she did not feel. Molly, of course, had always lived in a
beautiful and well-furnished house; therefore there was nothing
exciting in showing her the present magnificence of O'Shanaghgan,
and half Mrs. O'Shanaghgan's pleasure was showing the place in its
now regal state to her friends. Biddy's remark, therefore, was most
fortunate. Even wild, unkempt, untaught Irish Biddy was better than
"I tell you what it is," said the good lady, with quite a gracious
expression stealing over her features, "if you will promise to walk
softly, and not to make any loud remarks, I will take you through
the suite of drawing rooms and the big dining room and my morning
room; but you must promise to be very quiet if I give you this great
"And it is glad I'll be, and as mum as a mouse. I'll hold my hands
to my heart, and keep in everything; but, oh, Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, if
I am fit to burst now and then, you will let me run to the window
and give a big sigh? It is all I'll ask, to relieve myself; but
mum's the word for everything else."
On these terms Mrs. O'Shanaghgan conducted her unwelcome guest
through the rooms, and after a brief tour Biddy joined her
companions in the yard. Nora was busy sweeping out the barn herself,
and, with the aid of Hannah Croneen and Molly, was already beginning
to put it to rights. Biddy was now free to join the other
conspirators, and the girls quickly became friends under these
Hannah proved herself a most valuable ally. She whisked about,
dashing here and there, raising a whirlwind of dust, but, in Nora's
opinion, effecting wonders. Angus also was drawn into the midst of
the fray. His delight and approval of Nora's scheme was almost
"Ah, then," he said; "it's this will do the masther good. Oh, then,
Miss Nora, it's you that has the 'cute ways."
A tarpaulin was found and laid upon the floor. From Hannah's cottage
a small deal table was fetched. A washstand was given by Angus; a
cracked basin and jug were further secured; and Nora gave implicit
directions with regard to the boiling of the mealy potatoes and the
little scrap of bacon on which the Squire was to sup.
"You will bring them in--the potatoes, I mean--in their jackets,"
said the Irish girl, "and have them hot as hot can be."
"They shall screech, that they shall," replied Hannah; "and the
bacon, it shall be done as tasty and sweet as bacon can be. I'll
give the last bit of my own little pigeen, with all the heart in the
world, for the Squire's supper."
Accordingly, when the long cart arrived from Cronane, accompanied by
the Squire and his factotum, Mike, the barn was ready to receive the
bedstead, the straw paillasse, and the mattress. Nora managed to
convey, from the depths of the Castle, sheets, blankets, pillows,
and a counterpane, and everything was in apple-pie order by the time
the family was supposed to assemble for afternoon tea. This was the
hour that Nora had selected for having the Squire removed from his
feather-bed existence to the more breezy life of the barn. It was
now the fashion at O'Shanaghgan to make quite a state occasion of
afternoon tea. The servants, in their grand livery, were all well to
the fore. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, dressed as became the lady of so
beautiful a place, sat in her lovely drawing room to receive her
guests; and the guests came up in many conveyances--some in
carriages, some on outside cars, some on dog-carts, some on foot;
but, come as they would, they came, day after day, to show their
respects to the lady whom now the whole country delighted to honor.
On these occasions Mr. Hartrick sat with his sister, and helped her
to entertain her visitors. It had been one of the sore points
between Nora and her mother that the former would not appear to
afternoon tea. Nora had made her sick father her excuse. On the
present occasion she took good care not even to show her face inside
the house. But Molly kept watch, just behind the plantation, and
soon rushed into the yard to say that the carriages were beginning
"A curious party have come just now," said Molly, "in such a droll
carriage, with yellow wheels and a glass body. It looks like a sort
of a Lord Mayor's coach."
"Why, it must be the coach of the O'Rorkes," cried Nora. "Fancy
Madam coming to see mother! Why, Madam will scarcely pay a visit to
royalty itself. There is no doubt that mother is thought a lot of
now. Oh, dear, oh, dear, what a frightfully society life we shall
have to lead here in future! But I have no time to think of mother
and her friends just now. Squire, will you come upstairs with me to
see father? Hannah, please wait down here to be ready to help?
Angus, you must also come upstairs, and wait in the passage outside
the Squire's room until I send for you."
Having given her directions, Nora entered the house. All was quiet
and peaceful. The well trained English servants were, some of them,
in the kitchen premises, and some of them attending in the hall and
drawing rooms, where the guests were now arriving thick and fast.
Nora had chosen her hour well. She entered her father's room,
accompanied by Squire Murphy.
The old Squire was lying, half-dozing, in his luxurious bed. The
fire had been recently built up. The room felt close.
"Ah, dear!" said Squire Murphy, "it is difficult to breathe here!
And how's yourself, O'Shanaghgan, my man? Why, you do look drawn and
pulled down. I am right glad to see ye, that I am."
The Squire of Cronane grasped the hand of the Squire of
O'Shanaghgan, and the Squire of O'Shanaghgan looked up at the other
man's weather-beaten face with a pathetic expression in his deep-set,
hawk-like, dark eyes.
"I am bad, Murphy--very bad," said the Squire; "it's killing me they
are amongst them."
"Why, then, it looks like it," said Squire Murphy. "I never was in
such a smotheration of a place before. Faix, then, why don't you
have the window open, and have a bit of air circulating through the
"It's forbid I am," said the Squire. "Ah, Murphy! it's killing me,
it's killing me."
"But it shall kill you no longer, father," said Nora. "Oh, father!
Squire Murphy and I have made up such a lovely, delicious plan. What
would you say to a big, bare room again, father; and a hard bed
again, father; and potatoes and a pinch of salt and a little bit of
bacon again, father?"
"What would I say?" cried the Squire. "I'd say, glory be to Heaven,
and all the Saints be praised; but it is too good luck to be true."
"Not a bit of it," said Squire Murphy; "it is going to be true. You
just do what you are bid, and you will be in the hoight of
The wonder-stricken Squire now had to listen to Nora's plan.
"We have done it," she cried, in conclusion; "the barn is ready. It
makes a lovely bedroom; there are no end of draughts, and you'll get
well in a jiffy."
"Then let's be quick," said the Squire, "or your lady-mother will be
up and prevent me. Hurry, Nora, for Heaven's sake! For the life of
me, don't give me a cup of cold water to taste, and then dash it
from my lips. If we are not quick, we'll be caught and prevented
from going. I am ready; wrap me up in a rug, and carry me out. I am
ready and willing. Good-by to feather bed-dom. I don't want ever to
see these fal-lals again."
The next few moments were ones of intense excitement; but before ten
minutes had elapsed the Squire was lying in the middle of the hard
bed, gazing round him with twinkling eyes and a smile on his lips.
The appearance of Hannah Croneen, with a dish of steaming potatoes
and a piece of boiled bacon, was the final crown to his rapture.
Are there any words in the language to describe the scene which took
place at O'Shanaghgan when Mrs. O'Shanaghgan discovered what Nora
had done? She called her brother to her aid; and, visiting the barn
in her own august person, her company dress held neatly up so as to
display her trim ankles and pretty shoes, solemnly announced that
her daughter Nora was guilty of the murder of her own father, and
that she, Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, washed her hands of her in the future.
"Yes, Nora," said the irate lady, "you can go your own way from this
time. I have done all that a mother could do for you; but your
wildness and insubordination are past bearing. This last and final
act crowns all. The servants shall come into the barn, and bring
your poor father back to his bedroom, and you shall see nothing of
him again until the doctor gives leave. Pray, George," continued
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan, "send one of the grooms at once for Doctor
Talbot. I doubt if my poor husband has a chance of recovery after
this mad deed; but we must take what steps we can."
"Now, look here, Ellen," said the Squire; "if you can't be aisy, be
as aisy as you can. There's no sort of use in your putting on these
high-falutin airs. I was born an Irishman. I opened my eyes on this
world in a good, sharp draught, and, if I am to die, it's in a draught
I'll leave the world; but, once for all, no more smotherations for me.
I've had too much of 'em. You say this child is likely to be the death
of me. Why, then, Ellen--God forgive yer ignorance, my poor wife--but
it's the life of me she'll be, not the death. Isn't it in comfort I'm
lying for the first time since that spalpeen behind the hedge tried
to fell me to the earth? Isn't it a good meal I've just had?--potatoes
in their jackets, and a taste of fat bacon; and if I can wash it down,
as I mean to later on, with a drop of mountain-dew, why, it's well
I'll slumber to-night. You're a very fine woman, me lady, and I'm
proud as Punch of you, but you don't know how to manage a wild
Irishman when he is ill. Now, Nora, bless her pretty heart, saw right
through and through me--the way I was being killed by inches; the hot
room and the horrid carpets and curtains; and the fire, not even made
of decent turf, but those ugly black coals, and never a draught
through the chamber, except when I took it unbeknownst to you. Ah,
Nora guessed that her father was dying, and there was no way of saving
him but doing it on the sly. Well, I'm here, the girleen has managed
it, and here I'll stay. Not all the doctors in the land, nor all the
fine English grooms, shall take me back again. I'll walk back when
I'm fit to walk, and I'll do my best to bear all that awful furniture;
but in future this is my bedroom, and now you know the worst."
The Squire had a great color in his face as he spoke; his eyes were
shining as they had not shone since his accident, and his voice was
quite strong. Squire Murphy, who was standing near, clapped him on
"Why, Patrick," he said, "it's proud of you I am; you're like your
old self again--blest if you're not."
Nora, who was kneeling by her father's bed, kept her face slightly
turned away from her mother; the tears were in her eyes, but there
was a well of thanksgiving in her heart. In spite of her mother's
angry reproaches, she knew she had done the right thing. Her father
would get well now. After all, his Irish daughter knew what he
wanted, and she must bear her English mother's anger.
In an incredibly short space of time two or three of the men-servants
appeared, accompanied by Dr. Talbot. They stood in the entrance to
the barn, prepared to carry out orders; but now there stole past them
the Irish groom, Angus, and Hannah Croneen. These two came and stood
near Nora at the head of the bed. Dr. Talbot examined the patient,
looked round the cheerless barn, and said, with a smile, glancing
from Mrs. O'Shanaghgan to O'Shanaghgan's own face:
"This will never do; you must get back to your own comfortable room,
my dear sir--that is, if I am to continue to attend you."
"Then, for God's sake, leave off attending me, Talbot," said the
Squire. "You must be a rare ignoramus not to see that your treatment
is killing me out and out. It's fresh air I want, and plenty of it,
and no more fal-lals. Is it in my grave you'd have me in a
fortnight's time? You get out of this, and leave me to Mother Nature
and the nursing of my Irish colleen."
This was the final straw. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan left the barn, looking
more erect and more stately even than when she had entered it. Mr.
Hartrick followed her, so did the enraged Dr. Talbot, and lastly the
English servants. Squire Murphy uttered the one word, "Routed!" and
clapped his hand on his thigh.
The Squire, however, spoke sadly.
"I am sorry to vex your lady mother, Nora," he said; "and upon my
soul, child, you must get me well as quick as possible. We must
prove to her that we are in the right--that we must."
"Have a dhrop of the crayther, your honor," said Hannah, now coming
forward. "It's truth I'm telling, but this is me very last bottle of
potheen, which I was keeping for me funeral; but there, his honor's
wilcome to every drain of it."
"Pour me out a little," said the Squire.
He drank off the spirit, which was absolutely pure and unadulterated,
and smacked his lips.
"It's fine I'll be to-night," he said; "it's you that have the 'cute
ways, Nora. You have saved me. But, indeed, I thank you all, my
friends, for coming to my deliverance."
That night, in her smoke-begrimed cabin, Hannah Croneen described
with much unction the way madam and the English doctor had been made
to know their place, as she expressed it.
"'Twas himself that put them down," said Hannah. "Ah, but he is a
grand man, is O'Shanaghgan."
Mrs. O'Shanaghgan spent a very unhappy night. No comfort could she
derive even from Mr. Hartrick's words. Nora was an out-and-out
rebel, and must be treated accordingly; and as to the Squire--well,
when Nora attended his funeral her eyes might be opened. The good
lady was quite certain that the Squire would have developed
pneumonia by the morning; but when the reports reached her that he
looked heartier and better than he had since his illness, she could
scarcely believe her ears. This, however, was a fact, for Mother
Nature did step in to cure the Squire; and the draughty barn, with
its lack of every ordinary comfort, was so soothing to his soul that
it began to have an equally good effect upon his body.
Notwithstanding that it poured rain outside, and that great eddies
of wind came from under the badly-fitting doors and in at the cracks
of the small windows, the Squire ate his food with appetite, and
began once again to enjoy life. In the first place, he was no longer
lonely. It was impossible for his old friends and retainers to visit
him in the solitude of his grand bedroom; but it was perfectly easy,
not only for Squire Murphy and Squire Fitzgerald, and half the other
squireens of the neighborhood, to slip into the barn and have a
"collogue," as they expressed it; but also the little gossoons in
their ragged trousers and bare feet, and the girleens, with their
curly hair, and roguish dark-blue eyes, to scuttle in also. For
could they not dart under the bed like so many rabbits if madam's
step was heard, and didn't the Squire, bless him! like to have them
with him when madam was busy with her English friends? Then Nora
herself, the darling of his heart, was scarcely ever away from him
now. Didn't she sit perched like a bird on the foot of the hard bed
and cause him to roar with laughter as she described the English and
their ways? Molly, too, became a prime favorite with the Squire. It
is sad to relate that he encouraged her in her naughty words, and
she began to say "Jehoshaphat!" and "Elephants!" and "Holy Moses!"
more frequently than ever.
The grand fact of all, however, was this: the Squire was getting
About a week after his removal to the barn Nora was out rather late
by herself. She had been visiting her favorite haunts by the
seashore, and was returning laden with seaweeds and shells, when she
was startled by hearing her name spoken in a low tone just behind
her. The sound issued from a plantation of thick underwood. The girl
paused, and her heart beat a little faster.
"Yes. What is it?" she said.
The next moment a long and skinny hand and arm were protruded,
Nora's own arm was forcibly taken possession of, and she was
dragged, against her will, into the underwood. Her first impulse was
to cry out; but being as brave a girl as ever walked, she quickly
suppressed this inclination, and turned and faced the ragged and
starved-looking man whom she expected to meet.
"Yes, Andy, I knew it was you," said Nora. "What do you want with me
now? How dare you speak to me?"
"How dare I! What do you mane by that, Miss Nora?"
"You know what I mean," answered the girl. "Oh, I have been patient
and have not said a word; but do you think I did not know? When all
the country, Andy Neil, were looking for my father's would-be
murderer, I knew where I could put my hand on him. But I did not say
a word. If my father had died I must--I must have spoken; but if he
recovered, I felt that in me which I cannot describe as pity, but
which yet prevented my giving you up to the justice you deserve. But
to meet me here, to dare to waylay me--it is too much."
"Ah, when you speak like that you near madden me," replied Andy.
"Look at me, Miss Nora; look well; look hard. Here's the skin tight
on me arums, and stretched fit to burst over me cheek-bones; and
it's empty I am, Miss Nora, for not a bite nor sup have I tasted for
twenty-four hours. The neighbors, they 'as took agen me. It has got
whispering abroad that it's meself handled the gun that laid the
Squire on what might have been his deathbed, and they have turned
agen me, and not even a pitaty can I get from 'em, and I can't get
work nowhere; and the roof is took off the little bit of a cabin in
which I was born, and two of the childers have died from cowld and
hunger. That's my portion, Miss Nora; that's my bitter portion; and
yet you ashk me, miss, why I spake to ye."
"You know why I said it," answered Nora. "There was a time when I
pitied you, but not now. You have gone too far; you have done that
which no daughter can overlook. Let me go--let me go; don't attempt
to touch me, or I shall scream out. There are neighbors near who
will come to my help."
"No, there are not," said Andy. "I 'as took good care of that. You
may scream as loud as you please, but no one will hear; and if we go
farther into the underwood no one will see. Come, my purty miss;
it's my turn now. It's my turn at last. Come along."
Nora was strong and fearless, but she had not Andy's brute strength.
With a clutch, now so fierce and desperate that she wondered her arm
was not broken, the man, who was half a madman, dragged her deeper
into the shade of the underwood.
"There now," said Andy, with a chuckle of triumph; "you has got to
listen. You're the light o' his eyes and the darlin' o' his heart.
But what o' that? Didn't my childer die of the cowld and the hunger,
and the want of a roof over them, and didn't I love them? Ah! that I
did. Do you remember the night I said I'd drown ye in the Banshee's
pool, and didn't we make a compact that if I let ye go you'd get the
Squire to lave me my bit of a cabin, and not to evict me? And how
did ye kape your word? Ah, my purty, how did ye kape your word?"
"I did my best for you," said Nora.
"Yer bhest. A poor bhest when I've had to go. But now, Miss Nora, I
aint waylaid you for nothin'. The masther has escaped this time, and
you has escaped; but as shure as there is a God in heav'n, if you
don't get Squire to consint to let me go back, there'll be mischief.
There now, Miss Nora, I've spoken. You're purty, and you're swate,
and 'tis you has got a tinder heart; but that won't do you no good,
for I'm mad with misery. It's me bit of a cabin I want to die in,
and nothing less will contint me. You may go back now, for I've said
what I come to say; but it's to-morrow night I'll be here waiting
for ye, and I warn ye to bring me the consint that I crave, for if
you don't come, be the powers! ye'll find that you've played with
fire when you neglected Andy Neil."
Having uttered these words, the miserable man dropped Nora's arm and
vanished into the depths of the plantation. Nora stood still for a
moment, then returned thoughtfully and slowly to the house.
THE CABIN ON THE MOUNTAIN.
Nora slept little that night. She had a good deal to think of, and
very anxious were her thoughts. She knew the Irishman, Andy Neil,
well, and she also knew his ferocious and half-savage temperament.
Added to his natural fierceness of character, he now undoubtedly was
possessed by temporary insanity. This had been brought on by hunger,
cold, and great misery. The man was desperate, and would think
little of desperate deeds. After all, his life was of small value to
him compared to his revenge. Whenever did an Irishman, at moments
like the present, consider life? Revenge came first, and there was
that in the man's gleaming dark eyes, in his high cheek-bones, in
his wild, unkempt, starved appearance, which showed that he would,
if something was not quickly done, once again attempt the Squire's
life. What was she to do? Nora wondered and wondered. Her father was
getting better; the open air treatment, the simple food, and the
company of his friends were effecting the cure which the luxurious
life in the heavily furnished chamber had failed to do. The Squire
would soon be well and strong again. If he were careful, he would
once again stand in health and strength on his ancestral acres.
He would get accustomed to the grandeur of the restored Castle
O'Shanaghgan; he would get accustomed to his English relatives and
their ways. He would have his barn to retire to and his friends to
talk to, and he would still be the darling, the best-loved of all,
to his daughter Nora; but at the present moment he was in danger. In
the barn, too, he was in much greater danger than he had been when
in the safe seclusion of the Castle. It would be possible for any
one to creep up to the barn at night, to push open the somewhat
frail windows or equally frail door, and to accomplish that deed
which had already been attempted. Nora knew well that she must act,
she must do something--what, was the puzzle. Squire O'Shanaghgan was
one of the most generous, open-hearted, and affectionate of men. His
generosity was proverbial; he was a prime favorite with his tenants;
but he had, like many another Irishman of his type, a certain hard
phase in his character--he could, on occasions, be almost cruel. He
had taken a great dislike to Andy Neil and to some other tenants of
his class; he had been roused to stronger feeling by their open
resistance, and had declared that not all the Land Leagues in
Ireland, not all the Fenians, not all the Whiteboys, were they
banded together in one great insurrection, should frighten him from
Those tenants who defied him, who refused to pay the scanty rent
which he asked for their humble cabins, should go out; they should,
in short, be evicted. The other men had submitted to the Squire's
iron dictation. They had struggled to put their pence and shillings
together, and with some difficulty had met the question of the rent;
but Andy Neil either could not or would not pay; and the Squire had
got the law, as he expressed it, to evict the man. There had come a
day when the wild tenant of the little cabin on the side of the bare
mountain had come home to find his household goods exposed to the
airs of heaven, the roof off his cabin, the door removed from its
hinges; the hearth, it is true, still warm with the ashes of the
sods of turf which were burning there in the morning, but the whole
home a ruin. The Squire had not himself witnessed this scene of
desolation, but had given his stern orders, and they had been
executed by his agent. When Andy saw the ruins of his home he gave
one wild howl and rushed down the side of the mountain. His sick
children--there were two of them in the cabin at the time--had been
taken pity on by some neighbors almost as poor as himself; but the
shock (or perhaps their own bad health) had caused the death of both
boys, and the man was now homeless and childless. No wonder his
brain gave way. He vowed vengeance. Vengeance was the one last thing
left to him in life; he would revenge his wrongs or die. So, waiting
his opportunity, he had crouched behind a hedge, and, with an old
gun which he had stolen from a neighbor, had fired at the Squire. In
the crucial moment, however, his hand shook, and the shot had
lodged, not in the Squire's body, but in his leg, causing a nasty
but scarcely a dangerous wound. The only one in all the world who
suspected Andy was the Squire's daughter Nora; but it was easy for
her to put two and two together. The man's words to her in the cave,
when he threatened to drown her, returned to her memory. She
suspected him; but, with an Irish girl's sympathy, she would not
speak of her suspicions--that is, if her father's life was spared.
But now the man himself had come to her and threatened fresh
mischief. She hated to denounce the poor, starved creature to the
police, and yet she _must_ protect her father. The Squire was
much better; but his temper could be roused to great fury at times,
and Nora dreaded to mention the subject of Andy Neil. She guessed
only too well that fear would not influence the fierce old Squire to
give the man back his cabin. The one thing the wretched creature now
craved was to die under the shelter of the roof where he had first
seen the light; but this natural request, so dear to the heart of
the Squire himself, under altered circumstances, would not weigh
with him under existing conditions. The mere fact that Andy still
threatened him would make him more determined than ever to stick to
his purpose. Nora did not dare to give her father even a hint with
regard to the hand which had fired that shot; and yet, and yet--oh,
God help her! she must do something, or the consequences might be
too fearful to contemplate.
As she was dressing on the following morning she thought hard, and
the idea came to her to take the matter into her own hands, and
herself give Andy leave to go back to his cabin; but, on reflection,
she found that this would be no easy matter, for the cabins from
which the tenants were evicted were often guarded by men whose
business it was to prevent the wretched creatures returning to them.
No doubt Andy's cabin would be now inaccessible; still, she might go
and look at it, and, if all other means failed, might venture to beg
of her father's agent to let the man return to it; but first of all
she would see the place. Somewhat cheered as this determination came
to her, she ran downstairs. Mr. Hartrick was returning to England by
an early train, and the carriage, which was to convey him to the
station, was already at the door. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was almost
tearful at the thought of parting with her beloved brother. Molly,
delighted at being allowed to stay on at the Castle, was also
present; but Nora's entrance on the scene caused Mrs. O'Shanaghgan
to speak fretfully.
"Late as usual, Nora," said that lady, turning and facing her
daughter as she appeared. "I am glad that you condescended to appear
before your uncle starts for England. I wonder that you have taken
"Oh, do not scold her, Ellen," said Mr. Hartrick, kindly. "I begin
to understand something of the nature of my Irish niece. When the
Squire is well again she will, I am sure, return to England and
resume her studies; but at present we can scarcely expect her to do
"I will come back some time, Uncle George," said Nora; "and oh!" she
added, "I do thank you for all your great and real kindness. I may
appear ungrateful, but indeed, indeed I am not so in my heart, and
it is very good of you to allow Molly to stay; and I will promise to
take great care of her, and not to let her get too wild."
"Thank you. Any message for your aunt, Nora?" said Mr. Hartrick
gravely. "I should like you, my dear," he added, coming up to the
girl, and laying his hand on her shoulder and looking with his kind
eyes into her face, "to send your Aunt Grace a very special message;
for you did try her terribly, Nora, when you not only ran away
yourself, but induced Molly to accompany you."
Nora hesitated for a moment, the color flamed into her face, and her
eyes grew very bright.
"Tell her, Uncle George," she said, speaking slowly and with great
emphasis, "that I did what I did for _father_. Tell her that
for no one else but father would I hurt her, and ask her to forgive
me just because I am an Irish girl; and I love--oh! I love my father
"I will take her your message, my dear," said Mr. Hartrick, and then
he stooped and kissed his niece.
A moment later he was about to step into the carriage, when Nora
rushed up to him.
"Good-by; God bless you!" she cried. "Oh, how kind you have been,
and how I love you! Please, please, do not misunderstand me; I have
many cares and anxieties at present or I would say more. You have
done splendidly, only----"
"Only what, Nora?" said her uncle.
"Only, Uncle George," answered the girl, "you have done what you
have done to please my mother, and you have done it all in the
English way; and oh! the English way is very fine, and very noble,
and very generous; but--but we _did_ want the old bare rooms
and the lack of furniture, and the place as it always has been; but
we could not expect--I mean father and I could not expect--you and
mother to remember that."
"It was impossible, Nora," said her uncle. "What I did I did, as you
express it, my dear, in the English way. The retrograde movement,
Nora, could not be expected from an Englishman; and by-and-by you,
at least, will thank me for having brought civilization to
A moment later Mr. Hartrick went away, and Nora returned to the
house. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan had left the room, and Nora found herself
alone with her cousin Molly.
"What is it, Nora?" said Molly. "You look quite pale and anxious."
"I look what I feel," said Nora.
"But can I help you in any way, Nora?"
"Yes. Will you come for a drive with me this morning?"
"Of course I will. You know well that I should like nothing better."
"Then, Molly dear, run round to the yard and tell Angus put Black
Bess to the outside car, and to bring it round to the corner of the
plantation. I do not want any one to know, and tell Angus that I
will drive Black Bess myself."
"All right," replied Molly, running off on her errand.
Nora did not stay long with her father that morning, and soon after
ten o'clock she and Molly were flying through the boreens and
winding roads in the direction of Slieve Nagorna. At the foot of the
mountain they dismounted. Nora fastened Black Bess's reins to the
trunk of a tree which stood near, and then she and Molly began to
ascend the mountain. It was a glorious winter's day; the air was
mild, as it generally is in the west of Ireland, and the sun shone
with power. Nora and Molly walked quickly. Nora, who was accustomed
to climbing from her earliest years, scaled the rocks, and jumped
from one tiny projection in the ground to another; but Molly found
her ascent more difficult. She was soon out of breath, and called in
laughing tones to Nora to wait for her.
"Forgive me," said Nora; "I sometimes forget that you are not an
"You also forget that I am practically a London girl," answered
Molly. "I have seldom or never climbed even a respectable hill, far
less a mountain with sides like this one."
"We will reach the spot which I am aiming for before long," said
Nora; "but if you are tired, do sit down, and I'll go on alone."
This, however, Molly would not hear of, and presently the girls
reached a spot where once a small cabin had stood. The walls of the
cabin were still there, but the thatched roof had disappeared, the
doors and windows had been removed, and the blackened earth where
the hearth had been alone bore evidence to the fact that fires had
been burnt there for long generations. But there was no fire now on
the desolate hearth.
"Oh, dear!" said Nora. "It makes me cry to look at the place. Once,
long, long ago, when Terry and I were tiny children, we came up
here. Andy's wife was alive then, and she gave us a hot potato each
and a pinch of salt. We ate the potatoes just here, and how good
they tasted! Little Mike was a baby, such a pretty little boy, and
dear Kathleen was so proud of him. Oh! it was a _home_ then,
whereas now it is a desolation."
"A very poor sort of home I should say," answered Molly. "What a
truly desolate place! If anybody ever lived here, that person must
be glad to have got away. It makes me shudder even to think of any
human being calling this spot a home."
"Oh!" answered Nora, "it was a very pretty home, and the one who
lived in it is broken-hearted--nay, more, he is almost crazed, all
and entirely because he has been driven away. He deserved it, I
know; but it has gone very hard with him; it has torn out his heart;
it has turned him from a man into a savage. Oh! if I had only money,
would not I build up these walls, and put back the roof, and light
the fire once more, and put the man who used to have this house as a
home back again? He would die in peace then. Oh! if only,
_only_ I had money."
"How queer you look!" said Molly. "How your eyes shine! I don't
understand you. I love you very much, but I confess I don't
understand you. Why, this desolate spot would drive most people
"But not Irish people who were born here," said Nora. "There! I have
seen what I wanted to see, and we had best be going back. I want to
drive to the village, and I want to see John Finnigan. I hope I
shall find him at home."
"Who is John Finnigan?" asked Molly.
"The man who _does_ these sort of things," said Nora, the red,
angry blood rushing to her cheeks.
She turned and quickly walked down the mountain, Molly racing and
stumbling after her. Black Bess was standing motionless where her
mistress had placed her. Nora unfastened the reins and sprang upon
the car, Molly followed her example, and they drove almost on the
wings of the wind back to the village. There they were fortunate
enough to find John Finnigan. Leaving Molly holding Black Bess's
reins, Nora went into the house. It was a very small and shabby
house, furnished in Irish style, and presided over by Mrs. Finnigan,
a very stout, untidy, and typical Irishwoman, with all the good
nature and _savoir-faire_ of her countrywomen.
"Aw, then, Miss Nora," she said, "I am glad to see you. And how's
"Much better, thank you," said Nora. "Is your husband in, Mrs.
"To be sure, deary. Finnigan's abed still. He was out late last
night. Why, listen; you can hear him snoring; the partition is thin.
He snores loud enough to be heard all over the house."
"Well, do wake him, please, Mrs. Finnigan," said Nora. "I want to
see him on a most important matter at once."
"Then, that being the case, honey, you just step into the parlor
while I go and get Finnigan to rise and dress himself."
Mrs. Finnigan threw open the door of a very untidy and small room.
Several children were having breakfast by a table which bore traces
of fish-bones, potato-peelings, and bacon-rinds. The children were
untidy, like their mother, but had the bright, very dark-blue eyes
and curly hair of their country. Nora knew them all, and was soon in
the midst of a clamorous group, while Mrs. Finnigan went out to get
her husband to rise. Finnigan himself appeared in about a quarter of
an hour, and Nora went with him into his little study.
"Well, now," said that worthy, "and what can I do for you, Miss
Nora looked very earnest and pleading.
"My father is better," she said, "but not well enough yet to be
troubled with business. I understand that you are doing some of his
business for him, Mr. Finnigan."
"Some, it is true," answered the gentleman, frowning as he spoke, "but
not all, by no means all. Since that English fine gentleman, Mr.
Hartrick, came over, he has put the bulk of the property into the
hands of Steward of Glen Lee. Steward is a Scotchman, and why he should
get work which is rightly my due is hard on me, Miss Nora--very hard
"Well," said Nora restlessly, "I know nothing about the matter. I am
sorry; but I am afraid I am powerless to interfere."
"Oh, Miss Nora!" said Finnigan, "you know very well that you have
kissed the Blarney Stone, and that no one can resist you. If you
were to say a word to the Squire he would give me my due; and now
that so much money has been put into O'Shanaghgan, it would be a
very fine thing for me to have the collecting of the rents. I am a
poor man, Miss Nora, and this business ought not to be given over my
head to a stranger."
"I will speak to father by-and-by," said Nora; "but I doubt if I can
do anything. But I have come to-day to ask you to do something for
"And what is that, Miss Nora? I am sure I'd be proud to help such a
beautiful young lady in any way."
"I dislike compliments," said Nora, coloring with annoyance. "Please
listen. You know the man you evicted from the cabin on the side of
Slieve Nagorna--Andy Neil?"
"Perfectly well, perfectly well," answered Finnigan,
"You had my father's orders?"
"I had that, Miss Nora."
"I want you, Mr. Finnigan, now to take my orders and to give Andy
back his cabin. Put a bit of roof over it--anything, even an old
tarpaulin--anything, so that he may sleep there if he likes to-night.
I want you to do this for me, and allow me to take the risk of
offending my father."
"What!" said Finnigan, "and risk myself all chance of getting the
agency. No, no, Miss Nora. Besides, what would all the other tenants
say who have been evicted in their time? The man shall get his cabin
back and a fresh roof and new windows, by the same token, when he
pays his rent, and not before."
"But he has no money to pay his rent."
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