Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

ness.

hidden in the darkest spots in the heart she had tortured him sufficiently in this of the Wicked Woods than of kindly and way she went away and left him unattended healing herbs such as restore human life. , in his lair. And at last he declared that he Bat Tibbie knew what she was about, and could deny her no longer, but must crave she undertook to cure her master.

her to bring him ink and a pen. He would He lay in a sick-room, the ceiling of beg her to stand by while he wrote to his which let in the rain. The windows were lawyer. The lawyer must come quickly stuffed with rags in sundry places, and the and draw up the will. wind came in boldly through many loop- Now was Tibbie's moment of exultation. holes and crannies. The blankets were She felt rewarded for all her ingenuity scant on the bed ; but this did not matter, when she saw the miser's lean hand as the miser would not remove any of his scrawling the words over the paper. But ordinary clothing. He wore vest, and hat, Tibbie was not able to read, or she would and boots as he lay, with a stick at his have known even then that her master had hand to help him to spring up if needful. outwitted her. Did he lie in his bed as a sick man should Tibbie had gone too far; had been a lie, he might be cheated into a serious ill- | thought too clever. She had tortured him

In the end he should be made away so that he desired to be revenged on her. with as dead, while some one would get He had never believed Con to be his hold of his possessions. Tibbie's moving brother's son; would not have suffered him shadow, as she prowled about, haunted him to come near him if he had. Tibbie was from all corners of the room. Tibbie an impostor, but she was useful to him. might want to strangle him were he not Con was an impostor, but he amused him. ready to defend himself with that stick. But now Tibbie must be punished, and He hated Tibbie, and his fears distorted there was a nephew named Paul. He her into a demon, whereas she was only a would torment his tormentor by bringing cunning old woman. And Con was his her face to face with the heir of Tobereevil. only refuge from Tibbie, yet the miser was Heir of Tobereevil! The very thought of too sick to relish the pranks of his fool. such a title enraged him. But Tibbie must

Tibbie never brought him his scanty be punished. messes of food, nor his dose of healing So the letter to the lawyer contained inherbs, that she did not also administer a structions relating to an advertisement. bitter which he could not swallow, to wit, a Through the medium of every English and hint that her master should make his will. Irish

paper

notice was to be given to one ** Make it an' sign it an’ lock it bye,” | Paul Finiston that his presence was earshe would say. " It won't shoot ye nor nestly requested at Tobereevil. The lawyer poison ye.

It won't give ye faver nor read the letter thrice over, and turned it cholic. Ye'll live the longer for knowin' upside down, and turned it inside out. that all ye have'll go to poor innicent Con, But there was no mistake about it, and the yer brother's own child, instead of bein' advertisement went flying over the world. wrastled over an' torn to bits by sthrangers. But long before the notice fell under The simple boy'll put nothin' to waste, but Paul's eye the miser was well and stronger keep up the place as it's always been kep, than he had been for many years. Tibbie

. an' be a credit to the family name.” had fallen back into her proper place, know

The miser gnashed his teeth under her ing that her master had slipped through har:ds, but gave her fair words, because he her fingers this time. The miser's anxiety to was afraid of her. He was obstinate, how- punish Tibbie had grown weaker, while his ever, and would not satisfy her. Then she superstitious dread of his kinsman had rebegan to punish him. She kindled a large turned with more than its former strength. fire in the hungry grate, consuming coals And he was fully prepared to resist Paul and wood before his eyes with such speed Finiston, if so be the lad should prove so that the miser groaned and cried at the greedy as to obey his uncle's summons. waste, as though his own withered bones had been crackling in the furnace. Then

CHAPTER IX. KATHERINE WITH A LOVER. she brought wine to his side, and fat The Archbolds had been out of the roasted hens, and large rolls of butter, and country for two or three years. Those tea, and ham, besides every other delicacy hopes and fears, and anxieties and dethat could be had in the country, taking lights about their troublesome and idolised care to magnify the cost of each dish as daughter had kept them in such a tumult she laid it before him. And then when of going and coming, and not knowing where they were to be next or what they those broom-covered mountains, and wonwere to do afterwards, that they never had derful wildernesses of beauty in their been able to drag themselves so far out of hollows. One vast torrent roared all the her reach as to repose themselves, even for winter through at the back of the castle, a day, in the solitude of Camlough. But on its way from some lofty tarn to the sea. now they were coming home. The news For at one side the valley the encircling spread gladly over the country. Sir John hills gave way, and the blue Atlantic filled was a good landlord, and pleasant-spoken the gap on the horizon, with its flecks of with his people. He was “that kind, creamy rock and its amethystine islands, you wouldn't think he was a gintleman its flights of white birds and rare flitting at all,” whereas the agent might be “an sails. And craft from the nearest fishingimperor for impidence !" There would village on the coast would shelter betimes be no more ejectments. There would be under the cliffs; and sometimes a stranger no more snapping of whips in an honest would alight upon the warm gold sands of but helpless man's face ; for the agent was the creek and explore a little this nook of better-mannered when the master was in beauty, which was so generously cultivated the country. Even the ladies got a wel- and so gratefully fruitful, so hidden from come, which in truth they had never earned. the world, as if giants had built it round It was a fine thing, after all, to have a with strong high walls on purpose to keep grand lady going stepping about the it a solitude for ever. And seals would lie mountains, even though Lady Archbold's and bask upon the sand in the hot san; and high nose might be a thing of awe to it was haunted by a mermaid, who was the peasants. So the Archbolds were at often seen swimming round the headlands home; and they had brought with them in the gloaming, and was well known to an Anglo-American mother and her son; sleep here upon moonlight nights. And about whom there is a story which shall be the golden eagles barked to one another told.

over the mouths of the deep caves, through It may be that this castle of Cam- which the high green water, with thunder lough was not in reality more magnificent and music, rolled itself heavily into myste. than many other dwellings of its kind. rious abysses of the earth, coming back Perhaps here surprise added something to again moaning, with much tumult and con. splendour. The castle in itself was an im- fusion. posing mass of stateliness, old enough and The castle itself stood at the back of the grey enough to accord well with the scenery valley well set against the brawniestaround it; yet with no signs of age or wooded mountain of the range. Blooming decay; strong and grand, and big and gardens gathered round it, blushing up to handsome, overflowing even through its its windows, and laughing in at its very windows and doors with the fulness of the doors, and wandering away thence into adornments and luxuries of the day. It wide mossy lawns, and soft leafy slopes stood in a sheltered valley, among moun- and dells. There was an exuberant growth tains. This valley was in reality “ Cam- of flowers everywhere, and people fancied lough in the hills,” for the hills had that their colours were more brilliant at opened and made place for it down among Camlough than at any other place. Certain their knces, and cherished and protected it is that fruits would ripen here in open air it, kept away the harsher winds, and in that would not grow out of hot-house in vited down the kindly sun, till under their other parts of the land. A walk round the fostering care it had grown rich and fruit- back premises of the castle explained the ful, and sumptuous with beauty. The mystery of how everything were done in loneliness of its glens and dingles made order and kept in order in the place as fairyland in the fissures of the awful rocks perfectly as though Camlough were an outwhich overhung it. Trees of the most skirt of London. All around one vast paved beautiful foliage had climbed dizzy heights, yard cottages stood in rows, which were and clothed them with colour, and softened the homes of the tradesmen whom it was their wild outlines. The scarlet berries useful to have at hand. There were trees and light plumage of the mountain-ash growing in the middle of the yard, and hung clear against the deep blue sky. A garden-beds round the windows of the cothundred waterfalls made silver tracks down tages. Trees leaned high over the walls, and the brown-purple steeps of the mountains, nodded about the chimneys, and the peaks like gleaming stairways into the clouds. of the mountains looked over into the yard. There were lakes in the violet summits of And the goodwives knew better than to

He was

keep their houses untidy, for many pretty youth, with fair, dim eyes, and not overpresents came from the castle to the thrifty much brains under his smooth pale forehousewife. They would sit out of the sun head. His long eager lips were too nervous under their trees with their sewing in their and full of feeling to keep safe company hands, and their children playing about with the simplicity of his eyes. them, while their good men were absent at not like a man to do well with the world the castle, as it might be, or were busy in unless Fortune might choose to take him the sheds at the lower end of the yard. in her lap and make a pet of him. And

Thas it was that Sir John dwelt among this had seemed a likely chance; for Forhis people like a feudal lord surrounded by tune is very fond of odd playthings. Yet his retainers. Numbers of his tenants lived she could not have done better than take high above on the hills, or their dwellings Christopher on her knee; and this is the nestled in bloomy places between the young man of whom a story could be told. rocks, by the side of running streams, or To be the heroine of that story was Kathepeeping from behind shelter of rugged rine Archbold's liveliest excitement at this cliffs against the sea. There was no scarcity moment: and it must be said that she of anything about Camlough, neither of looked fit to be the heroine of the most human beings, nor of kine, nor of flocks, fascinating tale that ever was told, as she nor of birds, nor of deer and other wild sat against a hayrick, holding a bat crowned animals, nor of the produce of the earth. with poppies above her golden head.

It was midsummer time, and Katherine It ought to be a pleasant task to describe entertained a hay-making group, sitting Katherine Archbold. The description of a under a haycock in a meadow, telling them blonde beauty is always charming, and anecdotes of the neighbourhood, giving Katherine was a blonde of the most genuine ludicrous descriptions of the people, in- type. Her hair was of the purest and most cluding the miser of Tobereevil and the luminous sun-colour. When loosened, it dead monk who had lived at Monasterlea. fell round her like a cloak, silken in texIt was the midsummer heat that specially ture, rippling and flossy, and descending reminded her of that strange, wild visit below her knees. When tied and pinned that she had once paid to the monastery, up in the order of fashion, it was found and she related the story for the amuse- woven into a massive crown of gold, which ment of her guests. She was aware that alone proclaimed her a queen by its glory this was a picturesque incident in her life, upon her head. Her features came as near and it cbarmed her to sketch herself as the to the old Greek model as features ever do centre of a picture. There was at least in these countries; and her eyes were blue; one person by her side who was eager to the glamouring, light-receiving, forget-meswallow any morsel which her vanity not blue. The only thing you could find might throw him. It was scarcely likely fault with was the expression of her mouth; that any young man should be many hours but not many people thought of it, as it at Camlough and not be written down in certainly did not mar the physical beauty the list of Katherine's suitors. It was still of her face. The mouth in itself was a less likely that he should be welcome there handsome one, but to a few observers there if he chose to keep his heart to himself. was a failure about it somehow. Through Katherine was a queen who would have all the many changes of the countenance it none around her but her courtiers. In the was not found to be a mobile mouth, It present instance here was a willing if a could keep a hard secret well while the suffering captive, who had already graced eyes were declaring that this face was the many triumphs of his royal mistress. The most tell-tale face ever seen. Sometimes name of this unfortunate was Christopher a tinge of cruelty constrained it to be frank, Lee. He was not a wit, nor a genius, nor and to pain those worshippers who might handsome; neither was he as yet a mil- be watching for its smiles. And unfortulionaire. Whether he ever should be the nately this cruelty was not the mischievous! latter or not, was a question at present ness of fun, but the cruelty of a will that

in the balance. It seemed hanging upon would not suffer itself to be crossed. She the blowing of a straw. It all lay at was tall and robust, and stately in her the mercy

of a woman's little humour; a carriage, and more costly as to her raiment Fes or a no, a smile or a frown; for Chris- than a princess. topher was one of those headlong people “I wish I had seen that old monk,” said who will stake the whole world upon a die. Christopher, rolling his pale eyes with He was a large, light-haired, long-faced enthusiasm. “But for him," he added to

a

[ocr errors]

66

66

Katherine, “ you might not be in the world; / truth came out at last. He had invited a and what would my life have been then ?" young friend to pay a visit to his daughter. he asked, blankly, as he looked this new “Not the old lady from Monasterlea, I idea in the face.

hope ?” said Katherine, without a frown. “You are a fool,” said Katherine, em- "No," said the father, laughing, because phatically, but in the softest whisper. relieved of his secret. “ Not the old lady,

Christopher gazed up at her and blinked only the little girl." with delight. He accepted her accusation, Katherine hesitated to smile, but afterand enraptured himself over the idea of wards smiled brightly. The recollection his folly. It was true that he had staked of little May was very pleasant to her. everything on her caprice, but he dreamed There never had been a lover on her list that all goodness and happiness were to be who had admired her more frankly than included in the reward of his venture. In / little Vay. the end that was soon to come his foolish- " It was rather premature of you to ness must be found equal to the most give an invitation, ." said Lady Archbold, cautious wisdom. This is what she had who had not seen Katherine's smile. "The hinted in her more serious moods, and who girl was a nice child enough when we saw would dare insinuate that she was untrue ? her; but, brought up in the wilderness as

“A ridiculous little mummy of a man," she has been, the chances are that she is went on Katherine.

uncouth and uneducated." “Who is dead, however," interrupted Katherine rather liked this suggestion. her father, very gently. “Come, Kate, we “Whether or not,” she said, imperiously, are not going to laugh at dead men.” we are going to have her here."

Miss Archbold bowed her head, and Certainly, my darling, if you wish it," frowned under the shelter of her bat, and her ladyship said, hurriedly. And then seeexerted severe control over her temper, ing that Mrs. Lee looked strangely at her, while she tore up some fresh roses with she drew away that lady to stroll with her sudden fury in her fingers.

under some distant trees; and to explain “ That is how I am afraid you will tear by the way how generous and hospitable up my heart,” said simple Christopher, her dear Katherine was, and what a lively trying to make a joke. But a flash from attachment she had always cherished to a her eyes made liim quail as he spoke, stupid little girl whom she had not seen while the next moment he was blinded by for years. Sir John also made a thankful a shower of rent rose-leaves.

escape, being relieved of his confession, and “Oh, you fool, you fool!” murmured having regained his peace of mind. Katherine, who had seen his fright, and When the elders had

gone, Katherine who had melted again as suddenly as she stood up, yawned a little, threw herself had flamed. Christopher was himself again, i back against the haycock, and remained for that musical murmur of a curious pet reclining there, as if lazily enjoying her name was the very signal and watchword life, and the sunshine, and every soft inof his delight. And he was right in ex- ! fluence of the moment. She gazed towards pecting that she would now be very good the clouds, the hills, the trees, the lawns, to him, for she dropped him one sweet and then slowly brought her eyes to Chrisword after another, while she picked up her topher's passionate gaze, which was bent flowers and pretended to put them to rights upon her full all the time. Then she smiled again ; as if sorry for the destruction she in his eyes, just as if she had been a truehad made.

hearted woman who had pledged her love, Mrs. Lee sighed as she looked at the and was not ashamed of its being seen. picture of the beautiful young woman Katherine, Katherine !" cried Christositting smiling in the hay, and the be- pher, as if in bodily pain, “why will you witched young man at her feet. Mrs. Lee love to torture me? Why will you not was a troubled-looking woman, with large speak out at once? When will you answer brown eyes, and very odd manners. This me? When will you promise to be my son of hers was like to break her heart. wife ?"

Sir John stood a little aloof from the She took his outstretched hand tenderly group, and had evidently at this moment in her own, and patted it soothingly with got something on his mind. He had done a her jewelled fingers. good-natured thing and was nervous about * Poor little Christopher !” she said, confessing it. He was not master of his “ 'poor dear Christopher! why will you castle which people envied him. But the not be patient ?"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ Because I love you!" broke out the arose out of the spurious Popish Plot. This poor youth; "I love you-bitterly!” And entirely imaginary conspiracy, which led to he fairly burst into tears.

the persecution and death of many innocent "I do not like bitter love," said Kathe- men, came to light on the 12th of August, rine, coldly, letting fall his hand.

1678. As the king was strolling in the Christopher dashed off his tears, and park, one Kirby, a chemist, accosted him, turned aside with an impulse of sullen and said : “Sire, keep within the company. shame.

Your enemies have a design upon your life, “ It is hard to know how to please,” he and you may be shot in this very walk.” said, “ when one's heart is breaking: The intrusive chemist, then gaining the ear

“ Breaking, is it?” said Katherine, of the swarthy king, assured him that the lightly

“Oh no, don't let it be so foolish. Jesuits had hired two men, named Grove Come, now, you need not look so sad. and Pickering, to shoot him with silver Why should we hurry over the pleasant bullets, and Sir George Wakeman, the part of life? There is no reason for haste, queen's physician, to poison him. Doctor is there?"

Tongue, a restless London divine, who had “ There is reason for haste," said Chris- written violently against the Jesuits, had topher, vehemently.

been Kirby's informant. Tongue had been · Nay, now, what is it?" said Katherine, warned by a man who had thrust papers staring at him.

with the intelligence under his door. The But Christopher's unruliness was over mysterious Protestant turned out to be the for the present.

He had blushed crimson, afterwards notorious Titus Oates, the son and had nothing more to say. He folded of an Anabaptist preacher, who had taken his long arms, and gazed doggedly on the orders, and had received a small living ground.

from the Duke of Norfolk. Indicted for Come, now, you are sulky!” said Ka- perjury, Oates became a naval chaplain, but therine.

“Cannot you be good-tempered ? had been dismissed with disgrace.' He had And I was just going to offer you a treat." then turned Catholic, and entered the Jesuit

A treat ?" echoed Christopher, without college at St. Omer, whence he had been raising his eyes.

ignominiously expelled. Before the Lord Yes, a treat." She laid her hand Treasurer and Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, coaxingly on his arm. " Are you quite too a celebrated anti-Roman Catholic justice, ill-humoured to ride with me to-morrow?" these fanatical meddlers and wretches in

“ Not quite," replied Christopher, un- vented and repeated a myriad lies. Four bending

Irish ruffians had been hired to stab the “In that case, I am going to Monas- king at Windsor, and Sir George Waketerlea,” said Katherine.

man, for poisoning Charles, was to receive " To Monasterlea?” said Christopher, fifteen thousand pounds. For killing the

. astray.

king, Grove was to receive fifteen thousand “Yes; to unearth a young woman out pounds, and Pickering, a less avaricious of the ruins."

murderer, thirty thousand masses. Twenty And Katherine laughed gaily; expecting thousand London Roman Catholics were to a new excitement in the meek-eyed worship rise on an appointed day, massacre all the which little May was going to give her.

Protestants, and burn London a second time. Scotland and Ireland were to rise,

and two hundred thousand pounds and CHRONICLES OF LONDON

forty thousand “ black bills” had been proSTREETS.

vided for the latter revolt. All the Irish FLEET-STREET (THE WEST END). Protestants were to be massacred; while, PERHAPS no part of London has ever been according to that brazen liar Oates, eighty more illuminated by flares of torches or Jesuit hirelings had expended seven hunblazes of squibs than the Temple Bar end dred fire-balls in burning London in 1666, of Fleet-street.

when they had stolen in the confusion It was to that attenuated figure of Queen fourteen thousand pounds' worth of proElizabeth in the south-east niche that the perty. If the Duke of York did not conraging Protestants of Charles the Second's sent to the utter extirpation of the Proreign made their fanatical pilgrimages, at testant religion, “then to pot James must the dictation of that clever sedition-monger go," was the Jesuits' decision. The plotters, Lord Shaftesbury. These dangerous pro

as Oates declared, had a secret jargon of cessions of an angry and turbulent mob their own. Fire-balls were called " Tewkes

« AnteriorContinua »