Bessy Conway; or, The Irish Girl in America.CHAPTER XIII.
The early spring of the Middle States was already far advanced and the rich holmes of Manhattan Island were covered with freshest verdure when Paul Brannigan, going up to see how his friend Ned Finigan got on, was asked by him to take a ride with him in the stage out to one of the avenues where he was going on business. It was seldom Paul had an opportunity of escaping beyond the city limits out into the green fields whose freshness was as grateful to his eyes as the oasis of the desert to the sand.parched, sun.scorched traveller. So he joyfully accepted Ned's offer, and when they got out of the stage to walk by a near cut across the meadows to where they were going, the little man could hardly keep from singing a merry old.world lay that was on his lips, so full was his heart of joy and peace as he trotted along by the side of his tall companion. He was surprised that Ned did not seem to feel as he did himself the exhilarating influence of the balmy air, and the sweet.smelling herbage, and the rapid flow of the East River as its waters sparkled in the pale light of the crescent moon. But Ned was unusually silent and, as it were, pre.occupied, and after several attempts to make him participate in his own light.hearted gaiety, he desisted and continued his march for awhile in silence. All at once, however, he broke out into a gush of melody, and the song which had been in his heart escaped over his lips — a song of home — of mingled joy and sorrow:
"My bark o'er the billow dash'd gloriously on, And glad were the notes of the sailorboy's song, Yet sad was my bosom, and bursting with woe, For my hearth in Old Ireland wherever I go. "More dear than the roses all Italy yields, Are the redbreasted daisies that spangled the fields The shamrock, the hawthorn, the vwhite.blossom'd sloe, Oh ! my heart's in Old Ireland wherever I go. "Tho' lilies and roses no more deck the plains, And the Summer is gone, still the shamrock remains,— Like a friend in misfortune, it blooms o'er the snow, Oh ! my heart's in Old Ireland wherever I go. "Then I sigh and I vow that if e'er I get home, No more from my dear little cottage I'll roam, The harp shall resound and the goblet shall flow, For my heart's in Old Ireland wherever I go."
(* The above verses, so sweet in their simplicity, so full of exquisite pathos, arc said to have been written by a young Presbyterian minister fronn the North of Ireland who was drowned in the Schuylkill at Philadelphia. The story goes that they were found in the pocket of this unfortunate gentleman.)
"That's you, Paul!" said Ned in a more cheerful tone, as the last line, repeated again, died away on Paul's lips; "bedad ! it's yourself can do it! By the laws! I didn't hear a song since I left home that did my heart so much good as that ! Well ! now, I'd give a good deal to have a voice like yours, for I'm sure you need never feel sad or sorry while you can raise such a lilt as that -- it'll carry your heart back over the salt sea the heaviest time it is!"
"Pooh! pooh! man," said Paul carelessly, " I'd rather hear the voice of the cuckoo than all the songs I could sing in a year."
"I'd rather hear yourself than fifty cuckoos," said one from a group of laborers who were shouldering their spades and shovels to "wend their homeward way" after their day of hard toil "at the rich man's gate,"—"Not but what I have a respect for the poor bird on account of old times and where I used to
hear her, a place that maybe I'll never see again -- still I'd sooner hear you any day than her, for she has only the one note and the one word, but you have words and notes that makes a body ready to laugh and ready to cry -- may you never die or nobody go to kill you!"
''I'm obliged to you for your good wish," said Paul with his quaint gravity, " but I'd rather lie down quietly in my grave when my time comes than be travellin' the world keepin' company to the wanderin' Jew." At this palpable hit the men all laughed.
"More power to your lordship!" Another cried, "It's you that hasn't to look over your shoulder for an answer!"
"Is the master at home!" asked Ned of one of the laborers.
"Well! then, I b'lieve he is -- he passed up here a little while ago in the coach himself an' the mistress—a fine flahoola pair they are -- long life to tham -- it's themselves can fill the coach, anyhow. "
"It's a fine thing to be born with a silver spoon in one's mouth," observed Ned significantly.
"You may say that," replied two or three of ths men simultaneously.
"It's few coaches their grannies had, I'm thinkin'," subjoined one.
"Or their mammies either," suggested another.
"Well! well! no matter for that," said the one who first accosted Paul: "There's worse than him or her ridin' in coaches these times -- if they haven't the larnin' or the fine speech like the rale qtiality, they made their money honestly -- what they have is their own, an' that's what can't be said of many a one that carries as high a head as they do."
Leaving these homely moralizers to pursue the subject at their leisure in beguilement of their homeward march, we must follow our oddly matched comrades up to the door of the palatial mansion where 'the master' dwelt in what he
intended for aristocratic splendor. The building was of brown stone with windows opening almost to the floor on every story, and portals large and lofty leading to its spacious had Along the front ran a broad piazza whose roof was supported by light and graceful pillars of Egyptian marble, around which the rarest flowers of Spring were twining their fairy tendrils, in preparation for the gorgeous show of Summer. A sloping lawn lay in front of the house, its hue of emerald velvet indicating the care bestowed upon it. The view through the halfclosed curtains of crimson and yellow damask was like a glimpse into some of those palaces of Eastern story, our childhood's wonder and delight, and Ned Finigan said to his friend as he timidly placed his hand on the bell:
"Well! do you know, Paul, myself's afraid to venture in. Still, I suppose I must, as we came so far."
He rang with a tremulous hand, and the door was opened by a colored servant in livery. He looked savage, Ned thought, and he did, too, for he had opened the door with his best box ready in expectation of some distinguished, or, at least, well.dressed visitor. Seeing Ned and the dwarf he asked gruffly what they wanted, and seemed well inclined to shut the door in their faces.
"A good evenin' to you!" said Ned in a deprecating tone; "would you be pleased to tell me is Mister McRory in the house?"
"Can't say," said the nigger grandly; "what you want him for?"
"Well! I just came up to see him about a little business of my own."
"Mr. McRory neber sees nobody on business here. Go to his office tomorrow."
"But couldn't I speak a word with him? If you'd be so kind as to tell him that it's Ned Finigan that wants to see him, I'm sure he wouldn't refuse after me and this other decent man comin' so far."
"Tell you it an't no use" -- and the nigger made to shut the door -- " Missis sees company tonight."
"God spare her her eyesight," Ned broke in rather abruptly. "Doesn't she see them every night?"
The consequential man of office not perceiving the droll expression of Ned's face, took the trouble to answer with much condescension:
"No, she don't receive every night -- that an't the fashion -- she receives every Tuesday."
"God reward her!" ejaculated Ned, taking the word in its usual acceptation amongst has class. "She must be a very pious lady to receive every Tuesday -- it's a wonder it isn't Sunday?"
There's no saying what the nigger might have done or said with regard to this last blunder of Ned's, but just at the moment the lord of the mansion made his appearance at the further end of the room, and Ned called out to him:
"Mr. McRory, sir! I wanted to speak a word with you, if it was pleasing."
"Who is that, Sambo?" said Mr. McRory to his man.
"It's me, sir!" said Ned advancing down the long hall, hat in hand.
"Who are you!"
"Ned Finigan, sir."
"What the deuce brings you here, Ned Finigan?"
Ned began in an apologetic tone: "I made so bold as te come up to see you, sir, in regard to a little business that's troublin' me."
"Do you know, Mister Ned Finigan, that I have an office ill town, where you may find me every day from nine to four?"
I know you have, sir, and I was there twice the day, but you weren't in."
"Really, you're a troublesome fellow, and you come at a confoundedly wrong time -- but come along in here -- I suppose it's about the readiest way to get you off -- now mind, I have no time to listen to longwinded stories. Who is that other fellow? Has he a little business, too?"
"He's a decent man, sir, a friend of mine, that came with me for company."
"Let him sit in the hall, Sambo!" said Sambo's master, at the same time giving Sambo a wink suggestive of caution. Paul anticipated Sambo's reluctant invitation, by saying he'd rather wait outside. He supposed Ned wouldn't be long.
Mr. McRory led the way into a room opening on the hall at the side opposite the parlors. It was splendidly fitted up with shelves and mahogany book.cases, and as many books, Ned used to say, as would keep all New York reading for a twelvemonth. There were fine pictures in gilt frames, too, the like of which Ned had never seen, and blue damask curtains hanging to the ground. It was well for Ned that he was no connoisseur of paintings, for he admired those he saw around him to such a degree that they fairly dazzled his eyes, and so he told hIr McRory who was as much Battered by the compliment as if Ned Finigan had come from the classic Vale of Arno instead of the golden Valley of the Suir. Whether the hope of such a result had been at the bottom of Ned's critical observation, is beyond our power to tell, but certain it is that Mr. McRory was a different man altogether after this timely manifestation of Ned's taste for the fine arts.
"Well! what's wrong with you, Ned ?" said the great man smilingly. "How goes it with the Castle these times?"
"Famously, Mr. McRory! famously, sir! and the sorra thing ails myself, either, glory be to God, only in regard to Peery Murphy -- that's Ally's father -- he's out o' work at the present time, an' I heard you were on the lookout for a settled sober man to drive some of the horses -- now that's what Peery's best at? for he was a carman to home -- you know what that is, sir?"
"I guess I do," said McRory with a goodnatured smile; "but about your father.in.law -- now couldn't you have waited till I'd be in town to.morrow? eh, Ned?"
"Why, then, I could, Mr. McRory, only I was told there were others lookin' after the situation, and I didn't know but I'd be too late if I waited till the morrow."
"Well, that's true enough, but take yourself off now like a decent man, for I heard some company coming in, and Mrs. McRory won't be well pleased for me to be out of the room -- I'll see about Peery's business to.morrow. You may come to my office with him about twelve o'clock."
"Long life to you, Mister McRory! -- may your shadow never be less!"
Thereupon the great man repaired to the parlor, where his worthy spouse sat in state glittering with jewelry and the richest brocade that money could buy in New York, her comely face as fresh, and fair, and rosy, as though twenty-five instead of fortyfive was the number of her years. She had already " received" some half a dozen ladies and gents -- more or less and the sound of carriage wheels announced the arrival of others .
When Ned went out and looked round in search of Paul, no Paul was there. Shrewdly surmising that the hunchback had taken his unseemly bulk out of the way and from under the eyes of "the quality," Ned hurried down the short avenue and there, indeed, he found the little man sitting on the low stone base of the iron railing which divided Mr. McRory's lawn from the high road. He looked as contented as possible amusing himself with the gambols of a little red squirrel in the branches of a neighboring linden.
"I suppose you thought I'd never come," said Ned wiping the perspiration from his brow, for he had walked at the top of his.speed down the avenue.
" 'Deed I didn't, then," said Paul, "I knew you'd End your way out of there in no time at all -- it isn't the likes of you or me they want in it. That's vhat made me come down here to wait, an' I'm glad I did, for it's myself had the fine time of it watchin' the antics of that fellow there. I declare my heart'" broke laughing at him!"
"Bad manners to you for a sprissaun," said Ned pleasantly, "will you get up out o' that, and let us be movin' home? It's easy seen you haven't much to trouble you, or it isn't there you'd be squattin' so contentedly."
" 'Deed I could sit till mornin' in it, an' never find the time long either. Still I think it's as well to be on the move. Ah i you villain!" This last to the waggish little animal whose sports had beguiled his time so happily.
As the two trudged along to meet the stage, Ned, being in a better humor for talking, rattled away with his accustomed fluency on a great variety of subjects. All of a sudden Paul turned up the side of his head to him and said with keen emphasis:
"How is Mister Herbert gettin' on these times?" "How the mischief do I know?" returned Ned sharply. "What have I to do with Mister Herbert?"
"Why, I'm told he's a daily visitor at the castle, and brings a power of custom there, too. Maybe it isn't true, though."
"Well ! it is, and it isn't," said Ned with some embarrassment; " he does come in of an odd time, but he's not a daily visitor."
An' I'm told that you and him are as great as two pickpockets "
"It's a lie for anybody that says it," cried Ned vehemently.
"Oh! maybe it is," said Paul in an ironical tone, "an' maybe it's a lie, too, that he does be treatin' the landlord to the best in the house oftener than it's good for his health. Dear me! isn't it a wicked world when decent people can't turn in their skins without somebody makin' a talk of it!"
"Come now, Paul! none of your jibin'! It would blister your tongue to speak a good word of any one, so it would."
"Many a good word I said of you, then," Paul replied, " an' it didn't blister my tongue. An' there's Bessy Conway, to go no farther -- I'd like to see the man or woman that ever heard
(181) me say an ill word of her, for the reason that she never left it in my power."
"It's well she didn't," said Ned rather sarcastically.
"Ay! is it! but if you that's her own blood relation had only half the respect for her that I have -- that's not a drop's blood to her -- you'd keep that rap of a fellow at arm's length. Do you hear anything, Ned?"
"Don't be botherin' me, I tell you! Mister Herbert has done more to help me along since r set up the Castle than anybody else -- barrin' Mister McRory. You done your best to blacken him, Paul ! but, by the powers! you've played that game out -- you're long enough throwin' dust in my eyes!"
"Wisha, God help you, poor foolish fellow!" said Paul in n tone of commiseration, "it isn't me that's throwin' dust in yoar eyes, though it is a throwin' in them in handfulls."
"God bless you, Paul! and hold your tongue!" cried Ned half in anger, half in sport; "think I can see as well as you anyhow."
"I tell you you can't, Ned Firwigan!" said Paul with thrilling emphasis, and stopping short to look up in Ned's face, "if you weren't as blind as a bat and as dull as a beetle you wouldn't let it into your mind that If enry Herbert forgets Ale day you made a show of him before all that was on board the Garrick."
"Husht! here's the stage coming but even if it wasn't, I wouldn't hear another word about that matter. I tell you once for all, he's a rare gentleman, that!"
"To be sure he is, and so is the big black.avised fellow that has his claw on him -- they're both rale gentlemen, I knowmyself, but between you and them be it, Ned! they're the lads that have.tlleir eyes wide open if yours are shut. I wish you joy of your friends, Ned! but for me, I'll wash my hands of you !"
The stage rattled up and the two took their places at opposite ends of the carriage. No words, therefore, past between
them, and they even avoided each other's eyes, so strong was the feeling elicited on either side by the recent passage at arms! They had got as far as Eighth street on their way down the Third avenue, when the stage stopped to take in a passenger, whom our friends at once recognized as Father Daly. Ned sat next the door, and in answer to his respectful greeting, the priest said in a low voice:
"I'm glad to meet you here, Ned! I am just on my way to your house."
"To my house, your reverence!" Ned repeated in surprise; "why, then, it's yourself will be welcome as the flowers in May, but I'm sure it's an honor we didn't expect, Ally or me."
There was a tremor in his voice that showed a misgiving of some kind, but there were too many eyes on him there to permit questions, especially of a priest, so he was forced to restrain his curiosity till he reached home.
At Prince street, where Ned and Father Daly got out, Paul got out, too, as he wanted to speak to the priest about something of importance, and was thankful for the opportunity thus afforded him. This explanation was meant particularly for Ned's ear, by way of excuse for " troubling his house,"! after what had passed between them."
Ally was all in a flutter at the sight of Father Daly. Dropping her lowest curtsy, she whispered to Ned to take his reverence up stairs, and she'd be up in a minute. Paul could not be prevailed upon to go up until after the priest had made the object of his visit known to those whom it concerned, so he took his seat on the bench in the corner.
And what was Father Daly's business there that evening? Ned did not venture to put the question, but he looked it, and the priest with a kindly smile hastened to satisfy his curiosity.
"Are you aware that your sister-in-law is going to be married ?"
Ned jumped from his seat. " My sister-in-law, your reverence ? Mary Murphy, is it?"
"Your sister-in-law, Mary Murphy!"
Without more ado Ned pulled the door open, and running to the stair-head called out "Ally! Ally! come here, Ally!"
"Lord bless us, what's the matter?" cried Ally from below; "is the house a.fire?"
"House a.fire ! no, it isn't, but Mary's goin' to be married!" Ned answered from above.
In a moment both husband and wife were in the room, breathless with excitement. "Why, Father Daly dear ! sure it can't be true!" ejaculated Ally as she dropped into a chair panting and gasping. "Whys we never heard a word of it -- not even my father or mother -- for if they had, their first race would be to let us know. Oh! it can't be true, your reverence!"
"I fear it is," said the priest with a shake of the head that denoted little satisfaction.
"But who is it to, your reverence?"
"Oh! a young fellow that nominally belongs to our parish -- that is he lives in it -- his name is Luke Mulligan -- do you know any such person?"
"Luke Mulligan!" said one, "Luke Mulligan!" echoed the other, and then they looked into each other's eyes, and their faces grew very red.
"Why, then, Ned !" said Ally much disturbed, "could it be the same Luke Mulligan that used to go round gatherin' rags at home?"
"God knows but it is, Ally! You know we heard that he came out to America after that scrape that he got into about Cashel somewhere. "
"Oh Lord! oh Lord!" groaned Ally, "what's this for, at all? Ah then, what's the scamp doin' here, your reverence?"
"That's what I cannot tell you, Mrs. Finigan!" the priest said very gravely. "I have not been able to learn that he does for a living, or whether he does anything -- all I know is that he dresses very showily -- sports rings, and scarf.pins, and
what not, and is altogether what they call here 'a swell.' s fine looking fellow he is, too!"
"But, my goodness, Father Daly! where did the good.foruothing creature fall in with him?"
"That is more than I can tell you, Mrs. Finigan!" said Father Daly rising; "the young couple came to me yesterday evening to be married. I, of course, asked your sister if she had the consent of her parents, and, after some hesitation, she answered in the affirmative. I then asked why they were not with her, or why it wasn't to their parish priest she applied. Mary could give no satisfactory reason, and the fellow began to bluster and give impudence, saying that the young woman was over twenty-one -- could do as she liked, and so on. Of course I refused to marry them until I had ascertained whether the girl's parents were cognizant of the matter, or how far the necessary conditions had been, or were likely to be, complied with. You are now to acquaint your father and mother of Mary's intentions, and let them take what steps they may think proper -- my advice to you and them is, to prevent the marriage if possible. Unless I am much mistaken it would entail misery and perhaps ruin on your sister."
Paul just then knocked at the door, and as Ned passed him on the lobby, he whispered: "There's a lot of people waitin' below, and Henry Herbert among the rest. I'll see you all down there before I go."
The dwarf's business with Father Daly was soon dispatched. He merely slipped a two dollar bill into his hand to say Masses for poor Philip Sheehan. "Dolly and me were going up to you to.morrow or next day, so this will save us the journey. The old woman has a notion that she'd rather have your reverence say the Masses than anybody else."
Father Daly took a note of the affair in his memorandum, and sent word to Mrs. Sheehan that he was going to see her very soon. Reminding Ally of the necessity of seeing her parents at once about Mary, he hurried away.
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