Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

2

yer need !”

you to "

creatures, should have to fly from the fear know ?” said Paul. “ I'm a stranger here, of hurting an old man !

and I found this poor fellow lying hurt on He went more slowly now, onward and the heath. He calls out for Nan." upward, higher and higher into the upper "Nan and Bid !" cried Con, joyfully, mountains. The plovers cried, and whirred and with a friendly gaze at the old woman. close to him as they descended to their nests Oh, ay! thrust him for a fool but he among the heather. A few faint echoes came knows his own frinds," said the new-comer. Hoating up from the valleys; too few and too “ I'm Bid, an' I know the way to Nan's : faint to bring a throb of human life into an' if it'd be a thing, young gintleman, that the lonely stillness. Yet there, and quite ye would carry him that far-why it's the suddenly, Paul came face to face with a Lord Himsel that'll give ye a lift for it in fellow-creature.

It was Con the fool, and he was sitting Paul laughed, and forgot that he was on the heath, one leg gathered up in an the miser's heir, and strode on contentedly attitude of pain, the other extended at full with the fool on his back, and the old wolength; the foot quivering and swollen. man for his guide. They struck out on a He grasped the heather with both hands path which leaned slantwise through a pass as he leaned on them. He made no com- between two peaks of a cloven hill. And plaint, but the tears rolled heavily from following along this they heard a soft his round black eyes, and there was a tragic girlish voice saying, somewhere near : look upon his broad white face.

“ Come back, now, Patsie! Don't go “ Hallo !” cried Paul, “what's the down there or ould Simon'll catch ye!” matter, my good fellow ?"

“ Nan!" cried the fool in a tone of deCon's foot killed," answered the idiot. light. "Con walk no more.

Con die too on the And then they turned the corner of a mountains.”

rock and came upon a rustic scene.
Die?” said Paul, ' nothing of the
kind. Come, now, where am I to carry

CHAPTER XV. BID AND THE HOUSE-MOTHER,

It was a scene like one of Mulready's By this time he had seated the idiot on pictures. Against the tall red sandstone his back.

cliff a cabin had been propped. It hung Nan!" cried the idiot.

clinging to and slipping from this wall at " Where am I to find Nan?” asked Paul, its back, with its slanting thatch wreathed in a puzzle. He made two steps forward, with moss and brilliant weeds, its gables but seemingly in the wrong direction ; for awry, its windows one up and one down, the fool began to cry again.

its chimney crowned with an old upturned ** This way, then,” said Paul, and took basket, its smoke hovering upward, its door another course.

The idiot laughed, and low and dark, but gilt round with the sunclapped him on the back.

glare like the gate of a royal palace. A How long he might have strayed over slim young girl sat leaning against the the hills, seeking the way to Con's friends wall, weaving a basket, with a pile of rods by means of such signs, we need not guess. at her feet. She had a fair, ruddy look of Chance sent a guide to his aid.

innocence and health, short, saucy features, Coming up the hill he saw a figure, and large blue eyes.

Her loose auburn Trending slowly, and with the help of a locks hung in a heap of bronzed flakes upon stick, up the slippery braes. It was a little her neck. The sun had browned her woman dressed in a long grey cloak which cheeks, her hands, and her naked feet, had seen many winters, a scarlet handker- which were prettily crossed before her, chief on her head, her face brown as a where she sat. But her temples, and her nat, and her hair lying like a white silk throat, and her little ears were white. Two fringe along her wrinkled brow.

mahogany-coloured urchins with curly black God save yer honor !” cried she, hair were playing with the rods that lay cheerily. “Who'd think to meet a gintle- beside her. Another, younger, swarthier, man on the mountains-let alone wid a and sturdier, had wandered to a distance, poor omadhaun on his back!”

and looked back over his shoulder with Are you Nan ?” asked Paul.

audacity in his arch black eyes. All these Nan? Ochone! is it Nan Kearney ye wild creatures were clothed in dark red mane ? Then it's fifty long years since I flannel, the girl with a white kerchief across was the cut o’ Nan Kearney!"

the bosom. In the doorway a woman was I never saw Nan, and how am I to spinning wool. All round about them spread

[ocr errors]

66

ocean.

the red and purple mountains with their goin' to let ye make little o' yersel' to rich tawny patches, where the grass and sthrangers that might believe ye! Whiles tender herbage had broken out through the ye pay us visits an' it rises our hearts to heath. Below lay the sea, and in the dis- see ye, an' whiles ye stay away, an' we're tance the white gleam of a village on the lonesome till ye come roun'. That's the coast. And over all, and through all, way it is wid her, yer honor, she lives among glowed that after-glare of the sunset, upon the people; but there's nobody in the whole red cliffs, ripe cheeks, cabin, heath, and counthry that would dar' call Bid a beggar

but hersel'!" The repose of this scene was disturbed "God love ye, Mary Kearney!" said by the new-comers. The girl sprang to Bid, drying her eyes and throwing up her her feet, spilling her rods; the children head, "an' now I'll have my say. Ye hear shrieked and clapped their hands in de that woman, yer honor," she said, addresslight at seeing Con perched on another ing herself to Paul. “ An'ye'd think man's back; the spinning woman ran out maybe she was that well to live that she from under the shadow of the doorway. had nothing to do but hand away her creelThere they were laughing, gesticulating, fuls o' potatoes, an' her mugfuls o' male making themselves more picturesque at to every hungry mouth that comes lookin' every turn, till they found that Con was a bit through the hills. An' ye don't know hurt. Then there was a sudden hush, then that her good man is dead, an' her hunted little cries, and grieved faces, and the out o' the nate little houseen that he built scene wore an air of vivid tragedy; till wid his own hands. Ye don't know what they found that he was not much injured a waste bitteen o' land this was whin she after all. Then the laughter broke out got it, an' how her an' her soft gossoons again. The fool was placed reclining on hammered it wid their spades till they dug a couch of dried heather, clapped on the the little fields up out o' the rock. An' shoulder, cheered, pitied, and purred over. maybe ye don't know, but she has ten Nan fetched a pitcher of water, and bathed childher till her share, an' nine o' them and bandaged the hurt foot.

younger nor Nan; all like steps o' stairs. “ Is he her brother ?” asked Paul of the An' her spinnin', an' diggin', an' plantin', spinning woman, whom Bid had introduced an' sewin', an' the agint holdin' a whip as Mrs. Kearney, the house-mother of this over her head all the time! Ye didn't homestead.

know her afore, yer honor, but maybe ye'll “ Her brother, is it? No, no, he's no know her now. Look at her there! Mary son o' mine. But sure if he isn't what's Kearney; that always has a corner for the differ? He comes an' he goes. We'd thim that's worse off nor hersel'!" be lonesome an' quare without the fool. Bid gesticulated with her hand, as if As for Nan, he's just like one o' the babbies she were denonncing Mary Kearney. She till her. An' he'd kiss the groun' she stopped, out of breath; and the two women walks!”

looked away from each other, and cried in “ See that now!” said Bid, striking in, a sort of passion over each other's troubles ; “how fools does flourish! Gets purty girls till Nan's clear voice came ringing between to bathe their feet, an' gintlemen to carry them, like the sound of a pleasant bell them on their shouldhers."

across the storm. " And kind-hearted women to lead them “ Ye're all thankin' an' praisin' other," back to their friends when they are astray,” | said she, blithely, “but here's a poor boy said Paul, smiling.

that wants to be praisin' somebody too. Con "Och, och! sure I'm only a poor beg- wants to thank the gintleman that carried gar!" said Bid, tossing her head sadly. him whin his foot wouldn't walk. May the

Beggar !" said the house-mother, in- Lord love yer honor an' lift ye clane over dignantly, as if an insult had been flung at yer throubles, if ye have any ?” her own head. “Thin, Bid, have sinse! She had risen up from her position on Who calls her a beggar, I'd be glad to her knees beside Con, and stood, comely know, yer honor? If ye seen the purty and tender, looking from Con to Paul, and house she had till Simon put his clutches from Paul to Con. Paul left the other on it an' threwn her out upon the road! An' women to calm themselves, and came if ye seen the fine man she had for a son, forward to offer his further goodwill to the afore he died of the cold he caught in the fool. snow that black night. Don't cry, Bid ! He's just like to love ye for it his whole Keep up yer heart, alanna ! Sure I'm not | life long !” said Nan. But as Paul drew

66

nearer to her Con's face changed. He “A bad name !” groaned the housethrew one arm round Nan's little sun- mother. burnt feet, and waved Paul backward with " Whist wid yer nonsense !” cried the the other.

beggar woman ;

sure the heart o' a man " Don't mind him, yer honor,” said Nan, isn't in his name ! He's a young man, yer | smiling indulgently, and patting the fool's honor, an' they say he's good, an' some day

rough head with her hand. “ There's he'll be comin' here wid the mercy o' God whiles he's quare, an' ye'd think it's in his two han's for the poor.” jealous he'd be," she said, blushing instan- “ How do you know that?” asked Paul. taneously all over her pretty ripe face, “an' “We're prayin' for it,” said Bid, pathethen he don't like anybody to spake to me tically, “an' we've prayed for it long. It but hissel. An' sure it's wicked to teaze won't give me back what I have lost when the likes o' him; an' maybe dangersome as it comes, but whiniver I look at one o' well."

Mary's gossoons sittin' there I think he'll Here Mrs. Kearney stepped forward, live to see the good times !" without her tears, and invited the young Why don't he come home at once ?” gentleman to join the frugal supper of her cried the house-mother, passionately. “Why family. Bid and she had carried out a couldn't he come wid even a promise that'd table from the cabin, on which they had keep us alive? What is it that makes placed a huge dish of fine new potatoes, quality so hard, I wondher? There's nobody some coarse earthen platters, and some comes here but only to tant us, an' crass us. salt. “Well would it plase us to offer The last that come here he was a rale fine betther to a gintleman an'a sthranger!" gintleman, an' he was shootin' for his pleasaid Mrs. Kearney. Paul declared that sure over the mountains. An' I lighted his nothing could be better. And then they —that thing that the quality smokes inall sat down together in the soft purple stead o’a pipe- I lighted it for him, an' he twilight; the heir of Tobereevil

, the beggar, sat down there fornent me, an' he tould me the fool, the house-mother, the pretty the Irish was a lazy people, an'axed me maiden, and a troop of hungry children. why didn't I work. An'he faulted the ould

By this time Paul was quite at home basket up on the chimley ; sure it was the with the party. He humoured Con by best that Nan could do for it! and he taking no notice of Nan, and giving all his faulted the stuffin' I had put in a windaattention to the elder women. He had hole to keep out the cruel blast. I could many questions to ask, not mere idle ques- ha' tould him that I loved a bit o' glass tions, but in search of information which as well as he did, an' that I had wanst a he felt to concern himself. He had a purty houseen wid windas as bright as friendly fellow - feeling for these simple diamonds. But I sickened ower it somemountaineers. They and he were suffer ways an' I hadn't a word to say. I couldn't ing under the weight of a common curse. give him an answer. I just turned on my

** I'm a stranger, you know," said Paul, heel an’ went in an’ shut my door.” with a blush at his own cunning, “and I " Ay, ay!" said Bid, soothingly, "we want to hear something about this Simon know the cut o' him. But this gintleman's whom you talk about. Tell me about none o' that sort." him."

"I ax his pardon," said Mary Kearney, The house-mother and Bid looked at humbly, “ for maybe he'd think I evened it one another, as if to say, "Where can we till him. But we know he's none o' that begin ?

sort." ** 'Deed, sir,” said Bid, “it's but fool's “ And what if this Paul Finiston should work to talk o' him. He's the scourge o' turn out to be one o' that sort ?” asked the counthry that has the curse o’him for a Paul. lan'lord. And if it wasn't that the people The woman turned a startled glance has some hopes o'thim that'll come afther upon him, and then cast a look of anguish him, it'd be well they were all dead an' in on her children. their graves."

" Why, thin, if he do, sir," she said, This was the very point that Paul wished sighing, thin the best frind that we had'd to arrive at. He wanted to hear from their be somebody that'd take us out, wan by own lips what they expected from the wan, an' shoot us down wid a gun!” miser's heir.

- Heaven forbid !" said Paul, hastily, " Who is to come after him ?” he said. then added, “I suppose he keeps away in 6. He's wan Paul Finiston,” began Bid. disgust at the whole thing."

[ocr errors]

“Oh, yer honor," said Nan, speaking It was now dark, with that clear darkness up in her fresh voice, “if the Lord had kep' of the mountain world on a summer's night. away in disgust from all sinners, what'd ha' The moon came floating up from the lower become of the world ?"

world, swimming in faint gold through “Nan, Nan!” said her mother, quickly, the black-purple atmosphere. The party “yer tongue's too free.”

broke up, and the various figures moved “ She's right,” said Paul, “and I think about like pleasant shadows in the luminous if he believed he could be of use that Paul twilight. The fire-light began to glow Finiston would come here."

through the cabin doorway. Counsels were “Do ye know him? Are ye his frind ?" being held about the housing of the stranger, cried three voices together.

the guest of the night. The women spread "I know something of him,” said Paul. new straw in an out-house, where they all

“ You do ?” cried Bid. “Oh, thin, I'll meant to sleep, leaving the cabin to his make bould to send a word till him, if yer honor. Paul frustrated their intentions, honor'll take the charge o't.”

however, by taking possession of the out. Willingly,” said Paul; “I promise he house, with Con for a companion. Soon shall surely hear your message.'

all was silent on the mountain-side. Paul “First tell him to come, for the love o'God slept soundly on his bed of straw. Once an' the poor. It would rise cratures' hearts during the night he awoke. Through a to hear a bit o' a promise from him, an' he breach in the wall he could see the moon might stop some harm, an' do many's the still hovering over the hills. In her wake good turn. An' thin if that doesn't touch, he saw a face floating; May's face, with just tell him that if he doesn't come soon that look which it had worn as she clasped there'll be a poor fool body put stannin' her black cross. in his shoes!”

“ What a coward I have been !” he said. “ How?" asked Paul. “Who is that?”

“ Yondher!” said Bid, pointing to Con, who had fallen sound asleep on the heather

A CUBAN WEDDING. at Nan's feet.

“ Tell me what you mean,” said Paul. I PACE, like a sentinel on guard, the

“ There's wan Tibbie, an’she calls hersel' spacious market-place which stands more Misther Finiston's housekeeper, an' she than forty feet above the hilly streets of lives there an’houlds the grip o' him. An' a Cuban town. Occasionally I pause to she says she's Con's aunt. An' she gives lean over the iron rail which encloses the out that her sisther, Con's mother, was market, and to contemplate a certain singlemarried on Simon's brother, an' she calls storied habitation beneath me. A covered Con the heir o' Tobereevil. An' there's a balcony, as roomy as a small chamber, lawyer comes here, the agint-may the stands before the blue and white painted curse o' the counthry

house; the windows and door of which Stop, Bid !" cried the house-mother. are so lofty and wide that the interior of

Ay, sure!” said Bid. "I needn't sin the dwelling being brilliantly illuminated my soul on him; God forgive him, an' with gas, I can see into every apartment

which faces the street. A couple of ladies, Go on, please,” said Paul.

attired in light muslin, are swaying and “ Well, this lawyer knows the way o' fanning themselves in cane rocking-chairs, makin' wills, an’some fine mornin' Simon'll and are apparently entertaining, or being die, lavin' all he has to Con. And Tibbie entertained by, two gentlemen visitors who and the lawyer'll have Tobereevil betune are seated before them, also in rockingthem. What would Paul Finiston say to chairs, and with fans and cigarettes in their honor ?"

hands. Anon a third gentleman and then a Paul had turned pale. “I think,” said fourth, both attired in spotless white drill he, “that if he wouldn't come for the first , starched to the stiffness of cardboard, step part of your message he would not for the into the balcony from the street, enter by second."

the open door, and without a word occupy “But don't ye see it's the same thing ?” | two of the twelve rocking-chairs, which are cried the house-mother, passionately. “Oh arranged in rows in the centre of the apartLord! What way will it be wid the people ment, like seats in a railway carriage. The in this counthry at all?"

conversation does not seem very animated ; “ I did not say he would not come,” said but it is varied by the younger lady, who Paul, gently.

presently rises in the most languid manner

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

me!

66

that, yer

possible, and crawling towards a grand “ Your father is stubborn and unreasonpiano, placed on glass pedestals as a non-able, and deserves any disappointment conductor of moisture from the brick floor, which may await him. Besides, you have proceeds to play a Danza Criolla. When been severely and unjustly punished for no she has finished her performance, and a fault that I can see. And now if happiness little more conversation, or Tertulia as it is in store for you, it will be only a wellis called, has been disposed of, the visitors earned reward for much patience and sufrise in military fashion, and saluting the fering." ladies withdraw, and betake themselves to Xy! madre mia,” sighs the younger a neighbouring house, where the same for- lady, " then you find nothing to prevent malities belonging to an evening visit in our speedy union ?" Cuba are observed.

“Nothing. And as for means, why your Still reclining upon my iron support, I father owes his position and fortune to his watch my señoras in muslin as they issue alliance with me, and although he has the forth upon the wide balcony. One of them, disposal and management of the sugar a stout old lady with a plump, good-na- estate, I have still a private parse of my tured face, summons one of her black own out of which I will assist you both domestics, who presently appears with a if Gualterito has not sufficient.” couple of rocking-chairs, which he leaves “Papacito pretended to object to him on the balcony. It is a sultry evening on the grounds of his respectability and (though the month is January), and the honour, but now we have received from night air is inviting.

his country and his friends here ample I am intimately acquainted with the testimony on those points, and also on ladies before me, and in one of them I am that which you, mamá mia, prize more deeply interested, for her name is Cachita, than all." and she is fresh from a certain convent “ Yes, Gualterito is a genuine white, where she has been incarcerated six months which, in this country of doubtful colour, for making love without her father's ap- is, you know, a great recommendation. proval.* That gentleman has lately de- Your own father's mother was anything parted for North America, in order to but-" recruit his health, which had been greatly “ No importa, mamacita ; I am going to shattered by an accident which he met wed now after your own heart.” with while inspecting some machinery in “ Your father would have you married use at his sugar estate. It is considered to young Amador, about whose dark origin a great event when a Cuban leaves his there is very little doubt. But then Don island for a foreign country, and until news Catasús, his parent, is a rich old coffeeof his safe arrival reaches his friends at planter, and that is enough for Don Sevehome, his absence is deplored, as though riano.” he had left both the old world as well as Cachita gazes upwards into the obthe new. In consideration of this, together scurity of the market-place, from whence in with the fact that my inamorata has by happier times she has often looked for me her father's grace been restored to her home to emerge. and family, it is scarcely befitting, as “ I think some one is standing there,” Cuban customs go, that her lover should she observes. renew thus early his visits at her parental “ Perhaps it is your lover, who is puncroof. So, until assured that my reappear- tilious about visiting us until he is assured ance will not be thought ill-timed, I pru- of my hearty welcome.” dently retire. But the scene of my retire- I cough twice. ment is at present far from remote, and Somebody is there, sure enongh," says from it I now take a very pardonable sur- Cachita. “May I send Gumersinda, the vey of my prospects.

negress, with a message, mamacita ?” Cachita and her amiable mother are Doña Belen gives her consent, and then airing a subject which deeply concerns my signifying her intention to retire for the happiness, so I may be excused if in the night, bids her daughter follow her in half stillness of the night I pause to overhear an hour. their dialogue. That portion of it which Soon the pattering of naked feet ascendinterests me most is when the older lady ing the stone steps which lead to the observes:

market, announces the approach of GumerSee ALL THE Year Round, New Series, vol. vii., sinda. That faithful vassal comes with an

invitation for me from her fair mistress,

P. 33.

« AnteriorContinua »