Volume One


7


UPON a summer evening, four years after the last events recorded, Daniel Nowlan, his good woman, his brother Murrough, his daughter Peggy, Masther Tony Ferret, and Peery Conolly, sat in a group round the open kitchen door. Davy Nowlan was on a visit to his father-in-law.

     Daniel, Murrough, Tony, and Peery had wine-glasses in their hands, which were occasionally filled from a jug of half-cold punch, manufactured and brought out by Mrs. Nowlan; and she and her eldest daughter sat, spinning flax, at two large wheels. Little change had taken place in the two brothers, or Masther Tony, since they and the reader last met. Daniel still showed his open simplicity of face, and, under the frequent correction of Mrs. Nowlan, still talked much on every thing he knew nothing about, but little on his own affairs: to a close observer there might appear in him, however, the traces of a heavy affliction not yet worn away, and the sobered character of look, speech, and manner, that heavy afflictions leave behind them, even when they have ceased to press hard. Murrough appeared completely unaltered. At his time of life, four years, uninterrupted by sickness, make no observable change in the outward man; and, as to grief, his own had never harmed him, and it would be unreasonable to expect that another's should. Something of the same kind may be said of Masther Tony Ferret, although he was a different description of person. Mrs. Nowlan appeared most altered. She had grown a little more silent; she hung her head on her chest oftener; or, when she did speak, and held it up, it was quite visible that she was "crosser" than we have before known her, prone to say harsh things, and give little quarter to an opponent; that her features showed untimely wrinkles; in fact, that the sorrow which had passed lightly over her husband, had soured her temper and made her already look like a peevish old woman.

     The two remaining individuals of the little group come for the first time properly before the reader of our story. Peggy Nowlan had just returned from the Thurles convent, to live at home with her father and mother, while Anty went to supply her place in class. She was now about eighteen; blooming, though rather a brunette; well formed, though not tall; attractive, if not very handsome; graceftil and well-mannered, if not very polished; and possessing, as has been said in the introduction, much useful knowledge for her situation in life, and some little accomplishments. The kind of school at which she had been, seldom fashions into pertness and affectation, like ordinary boarding-schools, the manners of its pupils: unless great natural talent exist for such graces, a young girl may come free of them out of an Irish nunnery; and Peggy Nowlan wanted the natural talent altogether, and therefore returned home without them.

     Even at this early age, Peggy was sedate, collected, and serious, in her mind and actions. Grafted on a better order of intellect, and, of course, differently directed, she had some of her mother's reflectiveness and caution; some of her thrift too; Mrs. Nowlan, herself, called her "a good manager;" but she had not a bit of her occasional acerbity; her whole heart was inherited from her urbane father. It need scarce be added, that her breast was as pure as that of a child; as simple and as unsuspecting; or that she was religious, both in strict outward observance, and internal motive and feeling.

     Directly opposite to her, as she sat demurely at her wheel, was Peery Conolly—not the Peery already sketched in the introduction; for, at this period, although in Mrs. Nowlan's estimation "a scatther-hrain," he was not deemed either a downright fool or a downright rake; nor did his circumstances in life place him on such a humble footing as to be, what he afterwards was, a dependant on Daniel Nowlan.

     In fact, Peery was the only son of a neighhouring "small farmer," almost equal in class to the Nowlans, and capable of being almost as well to do in the world as they were, if father and son possessed more sense and industry than it was known could be attributed to either. But father and son loved whisky punch rather too well; gave greater entertainments than some of their betters; were too fond of horses, horse-racing, and wagering; and owed more rent, and kept up less stock on their farms than they might have done: so that some of their wiser neighbours, and all their censorious ones, whispered many ominous old adages, in reference to their future prospects; and Mrs. Nowlan, in particular, had a bad opinion of the case.

     Yet, as misfortune had not appeared about the Conolly's in any decided shape, Peery was not turned from the door, when, soon after Peggy came home, he laughingly declared his passion for her to the old people, and requested their leave to say as much to Peggy's self. Mrs. Nowlan first shook her head, indeed, and answered nothing; then descanted on the perils of looking for a wife, while one was as wild as a mountain-goat, and couldn't even boast of the goat's beard, and didn't know his own mind, or his own means, "for that matther;" but when the old woman reflected that a son, to look after the house and the grounds, was now, by the will of God, become necessary; that Peery was so young, and might mend, and at last grow into a good boy, fit to "make up" to Peggy; and that when he did grow better and alter his economy, a good unincumbered farm might yet be his; and lastly, that though Peggy was a sedate girl, the sooner a girl, no matter how sedate, got a husband, the better for herself and her friends: when these second thoughts occurred, Peery did not receive a downright refusal, nor yet a hearty encouragement; he might just come to see them, as usual, an odd fime; and a few years soon went over, and maybe he would have more sense then; and if so, and if the colleen herself thought well of him into the bargain, why, it would then all come to pass as God willed; and that was saying a great deal, and Peery ought to be satisfied.

     Peery tried to be satisfied, and made some successful efforts to mend his ways; but it soon occurred to him that a greater difficulty than even the mastering of old habits remained to be got over; and that was the mastering of Peggy's heart. In one word, he saw she was totally indifferent to him; not on account of his "divilries;" not on account of her mother's cautions; but purely that she was. He sedulously applied himself to make a favourable impression; displayed his figure to advantage; exhibited his prowess in sports and games of all kinds; played off his rural wit, which was of a superior kind, or esteemed to be, and his rural flattery too; but he might as well have gone to no such trouble, as Peggy, with her own pretty, though rather prim lips, now and then told him; and thus were he and Peggy relatively situated and inclined towards each other, upon the summer evening when they formed part of the humble group outside Daniel Nowlan's comfortable dwelling.

     "By dad, dat drop was mighty strong," said Tony Ferret, after he had let down the contents of a glass, and given himself reasonable time to enjoy its flavour.

     "Then, can't you hould it wid both your hands, Masther Tony," answered Peery Conolly, with his usual attempt to show off, before his mistress, what he regarded as wit. Tony smiled applause against himself, and passed the jug to Peery, who continued:—

     "But I'd lay a bet," hitting his knuckles in slow, measured knocks against the sides of the vessel, that sent out (at least to the ears of the interested listeners) a mournful, wailing sound—"I'd lay a bet, Masther Tony, that your own sef, tho' you're not a powerful man, could hould it up, if it war as heavy over again; an' a joog, wid nothin' in it, is fur all the world like a body wid an empty skull, all talk;" still sounding with his knuckles, "all talk, an' no sense at all;"—suiting the action to the word by stooping the spout unprofitably to his glass.

     "That's the sort o' sense 'll lave you in the ditch at the heel o' the hunt," remarked Mrs. Nowlan, sharply, and with peculiar meaning. Peery felt the reproof in the way intended: he glanced sideways at Peggy, whose little subdued smile also told against him, and he hung his head; nor could the approving "Well said, Peery, a-vouchol," of Daniel Nowlan, the "Hee, hee, by dad," of Tony, nor yet the pithy "Hah," of stupid Murrough, all of which had preceded the dame's remark, make amends for the injury inflicted on his dearest hopes.

     "But the dhrop is gone, however it cum about, a-vanithee," said Daniel Nowlan, putting his request in the doubtful shape of an assertion; a sleight he had long practised, because, in case of a denial, he could shelter himself behind the ambiguous form of the sentence. There was no answer from the vanithee; it might be the humming of her wheel which had interrupted her husband's mild, half-whispered words. Peggy smiled on her father, and saying, "I can just mix a little more, Sir," took the jug, stopped a moment to see if there should be a countermand, then tripped demurely into the house, soon returned with a steaming supply, and handed it to Daniel. He beckoned knowingly to her as she resumed her seat, filled his glass, passed the measure round, while his wife still held down her head, toasted Peggy's health in dumb show, and, as the dame would say, it was quaffed by the whole party in great "hugger mugger" glee. By two of them, indeed, the toast was drunk zealously, because of their vivid relish of the medium through which they expressed their good-will: but in the father, there was a father's affection to enhance its flavour; and Peery swallowed love and punch at a draught: the latter going, by the usual passage, down his throat; the former separating from its gross accompaniment, and rushing into all the little cavities of his softened heart.

     "I don't believe," said Daniel, as he filled again, and made signs to pass the beverage around,—" I don't believe but there'll be a change this evening; and that before it's long."

     "I see no signs of any sich thing," contradicted the vanithee," although she did not look up from her wheel to notice if appearances would bear her out.

     "By dad, cousin Debby, it'll be fine, as yuu say."

     "Why, then, where was your eyes, Tony Ferret?" now looking around her.—Even when her husband had made his remark, she was pretty well convinced that his usual observation must be correct, although she unconsciously yielded to the habit of contradiction which had of late so much grown upon her, and which, on the present occasion, was peculiarly brought into play by a recollection of the melancholy fact that, two years before, upon the sudden change of a fine day into a tempestuous night, she had lost her son Phelim, in consequence of the unmanageableness of his horse, terrified at the storm, and partly, perhaps, in consequence of the inability of the rider to guide him—he had remained rather late at a fair.—"Where was the sighth o' your eyes, Tony Ferret, when you said the words afther me, like one o' them birds wid the crooked bills I seen in Limerick town, that talks, talks, widout knowin' what they're sayin'?— Didn't you see the black clouds rubbin' themsefs to the top o' Keeper-hill, when you spoke so foolish?"—

     "By dad, I didn't mind to look, when I tought you looked yoursef, Debby."

     "Och, it's always bather-shinn* wid you, Tony, supposin' a body war to say the pigs abroad spoke in the Latin; an' you haven't as much as the Sense o' them poor cratures, so you haven't—see how they can tell the storm is comin'; bringin' the wisps to their beds to keep themsefs snug from it."

     "It's a thing putty sarten," put in Peery, "if Misther Tony only got lave, he'd have the wind to blow, an' the clouds to thravel, any way that 'ud be most plaisin' to the company.

     "Hee, hee, an' so I would, by dad," answered Tony, taking this witticism for the highest compliment, as it represented him in the very light in which he was anxious to appear.

     But Peery found himself again unlucky. There was a deeper frown from the dame, as much as to say, "Here is too much foolery for a son-in-law;" and the reference to Peggy's brow was no whit more hopeful; she did not relish his making a butt of her harmless though silly cousin; so he again hung his head; but even the consciousness that he was acting impoliticly could not quite keep him down as the dialogue went on.

     "Talkin' o' de weader cumin' to a change," resumed Tony, "puts me in mind of a story 'ill make ye all bust your sides laughin'."

     "Murther, Misther Tony, don't tell it so very comical entirely," requested Peery, winking on Daniel Nowlan, as it was well known that Tony often told stories promising they should be very droll, but which the sequel proved to be dull enough. In fact, Tony regarded it as part of his profession occasionally to be prepared with "a story" for his good entertainers, and so picked one up whenever he could; but, forgetting or not comprehending the aim of any thing he heard, he retailed his anecdotes without connexion or point, and his own solitary laugh was always the exclusive reward of his laudable attempts.

     "Dr change o' de weader put de story in my head, as I said afore. It was of a night dat bad weader drove a gentleman into a public house by de road-side, an' he came ridin' upon a horse."

     "Are you cock-sure o' the horse?" asked Peery.

     "Why den, by dad, I'm not positive sure; but it's to he supposed 'twas a horse or a mare, any how. Well, where was I?"

     "Where the gentleman rode up to the public house—on the back of a horse," answered Peery, with emphasis, winking again.

     "Hah!" said Murrough. Daniel gave his ready laugh. Even the dame vouchsafed a sour smile, but qualified it by adding—"Peery, you're an ownshuck."

     "Whatsomever is most plaisin,' a-vanithee, as Misther Tony 'ud say.

     Tony went on. When de gentleman cum in, he called to de son o' de landlord, who was an innocent, or foolish, as dey say—"

     "Hah," interrupted Murrough, speaking on to the amazement of all— "like enough, jist sich a one as Peery Conolly, Tony."

     "By dad, de very ditto," laughed Tony; and there was a general laugh, in which Peggy and the vanithee joined. Peery was not discomfited.

     "I'm behouldin' to you, Murrough Nowlan," he said; "an' when Tony Ferrit goes tellin' a story again, let him have your helpin' hand: an' then ye'll be two heads together; but not the two that's betther than one, I'm thinkin', but the two worser nor e'er a one at all."

     There was another laugh and a pause fur the rejoinder; but Murrough missed fire; or, more properly speaking, he was not charged with any thing else; and so Tony continued.

     "An de gentleman called for de innocent boy, an' 'John,' says he, 'give my horse someting to ate:'—John came back to him in a little time, an' 'He won't ate it, Sir,' says he.—'What?' de gentleman asked of him.—'De griddle, sir,' says John.—'Oh, John, give him someting else.'—John came again. 'He won't ate it now either, sir.'—'What did you give him now, John?' 'De hatchet, sir.'—'Give him some oats, John,' says de gentleman at last—Hee, hee, wasn't dat very droll? hee, hee:"—and for this badly—recollected old story, which, its real point forgotten, Peery knew was to be found in his well-thumbed jest-book, Tony had, as usual, all the laugh to himself.

     A little more badinage followed, in which Peery took the lead, exciting the mirth of the party against the infelicitous story-teller; and in this mirth Tony himself joined, careless whether the laugh was for or against him, so that he contributed to the happiness of the good people in whose house he was, for the time, living at free quarters.

     The conversation shortly took another turn. "Upon my conscience," began Peery, "I believe the quality abroad in the hills, making picturs o' the place, 'ill get their duckin', sure enough."

     "Quality, inagh,"* remarked the vanithee, in a disdainful tone, and again in her petulant manner; probably irritated at a distinctive appellation applied to persons with whom she and her present friends were not immediately connected: "The half o' them that sets up for quality, what are they but poor mangey cratures, too proud to work, an' half starvin' on their gentility; you'll see six o' them sittin,' main hungry, to a chicken, an' one rib o' small bacon, that wouldn't give a christhen male to a child from the breast; an' they'll dhrink their could wather from ould silver mugs, rubbed out o' the hands o' the thrue people o' the counthry, in the time when the sthrung arm was betther than the right."

     "Ay, faith," agreed Peery; "there's the magisthrate Adams; sure it's well known, as ould Matthew Conolly often tould me, the whole crew o' them come over sogerin' throopers in the times the wars used to be in Limerick; an'," continued Peery, altogether forgetting himself, "there's them he picked his wife from, Square Long's people; didn't the first o' them buy every sod iv Knocktoonygrany, when the right owner was runnin' away, for a brown loaf to fill the poor suwl's belly, an' an ould limpin' white horse that died o' the staggers the first day's journey, though th' ould soger that gave him, as good as swore he was a young baste, fit to thravel; an' it turned out in the end he was the priest's own horse, that carried the poor saint iv a man for thirty long years upon his back, an' couldn't go above a mile, and was never afore axed to go, widout stappin' to dhraw his breath."

     Mrs. Nowlan made her first sally because she thought she had been placed by Peery below "the quality," as he called them; she now took fire at the manner in which he treated her own predecessors.

     "Why, then, the divil's in your tongue, for one beeaula gon skeech;"* taking her foot from her wheel, and so stopping its motion; "you're jist what I ever tuck you to be, without sense or rason; tell me, i' you plase, who gave you lave to talk in this fashion? Wasn't it all for the good o' the counthry, that them you're spakin' of got it into their hands? Wouldn't it all be bogs, an' woods, an' wild places, full up o' wild people, to this blessed day, widout sense or rason, like you, Peery Conolly? In the times when you an' your sort was dhruv out, was there one field o' corn for the hundhred? Didn't they live on wild bastes? Was there the good firkins sent to Limerick, that time? Was there, in the whole counthry, sich a gentleman, dead or alive, as Char- less Long, o' Long Hall, esquire, that's come o' the stock you're runnin' down, so clever, an' other people along wid him? Was there? tell me that, Peery the gandher."

     Peery answered in a contrite, penitent tone, and with as much servile submission in his manner as Tony Ferret himself could assume, although their motives were so different: love of eating and drinking being Tony's guiding star; love of Peggy, Peery's.

     "Why, then, musha, indeed, a-vanithee, there isn't his like in the counthry round; he's good for the poor, when they wants law, or somethin' to ate; an' it 'ud he a woe day for us all that any thing 'ud happen to him. An' sure I'm only sore afeard the storm 'ill come on him, an' on his purty niece, God's blessin' on her two rosy cheeks, an' on his nephew, Misther Frank Adams, along wid her; for I seen 'em all over in the hills, wid books and paper afore 'em, a good way off, as I come across to see you this evening. I'm tould, Misthress Nowlan, he'll lave all he's worth in the world, among the two? Do you think he will?"

     If Peery had thoughtlessly offended, he made amends by his panegyric; and his sly effort to change the subject, by appealing to Mrs. Nowlan's superior information concerning a family she sometimes felt proud of, further assisted the kindness and communicativeness of her reply.

     "That's what 'ill come to pass, to a sartenty, Peery, aroon; when he went to sow his grief in foreign parts, afther the death of the poor young wife, that happened only six months from their marriage day, he tuck them two, the youngest dauther (at that time) o' the Adams's, an' the fourth ouldest o' the sons, an' brought 'em to England, an' gave 'em the best o' schoolin'; an' sure enough, all done to bring 'em up to the great fortin he's to share betuxt 'em."

     "Well, as I said afore, I'm only afrard they'll be caught wid the storum in the hill," resumed Peery', somewhat assured: "what's your notion o' the storum, Misther Tony Ferret?"

     "By dad," looking all over the sky, which was now dark and lowering, and could not leave any one in doubt of the result,—" by dad, an' it's hard to say, I believe."

     "It's comin', sure enough," said the dame.

     "By dad, an' so it is," having at last ascertained which way the good woman would have it.

     "God grant they may be shelthered in time," continued Mrs. Nowlan, "for, jist sich a night left the œther's and mother's house widout a son, barring the poor young priest within, an' sure he's no more than the child on one's knee, in regard of doin' a hand's turn for us in our auld age; but God's will be done—an' whisht! look! there it is at last."

     A faint quiver of lightning, and a distant thunder-growl, warranted Mrs. Nowlan's assertion, and left Tony quite unperplexed as to the concession he was to make. Big drops of rain also began to descend. Peggy started up, very pale, crossing herself, as at that time thunder always terrified her; and Peery was afforded an excusable opportunity to take her hand, pass an arm round her waist, and assist her into the house.

     "Run in, Dan Nowlan," continued her mother; "one 'ud think you like it, I say again." He rose accordingly. "Bring the jug in your hands, Tony Ferret." She stepped over the threshold, Tony answering, "I will so, by dad," yet staying to fill himself another glass: then, however, he also moved towards the door, until Murrough, laying hold of the jug, stopped him, remained alone with it, and sought shelter from the storm at his leisure.

     "Now the Lord purtect Char-less Long, of Long Hall, esquire, still I say, resumed Mrs. Nowlan, at the open door; "an' grant he may be near home, or a neighbour's house any how."

     She was interrupted by a tremendous clap; and, at the same moment, a rapid clatter of horses' feet was heard on the road, near at hand, mixed with the tones of a man speaking high, and the screams of a female. As Mrs. Nowlan replied to the scream, a young gentleman and a young lady rode into the farm-yard, followed by a servant in livery, bearing a portfolio, both greatly agitated, and enquiring if a gentleman had passed that way.

     "Avoch, no, Miss Letty, no, Masther Frank; but we know who you mane; an', och, my darlins, where did you lose him?"

     "On the road towards this house," answered the young lady. "His horse became restive; first swerved aside; then galloped furiously from us, and turned to the left, out of our sight."

     "Murther, murther!" interrupted Mrs. Nowlan, clapping her hands, "that 'ill be the carthrack to the ould quarry, the very road my boy's garron took, in the dead o' the night when we lost him; it runs a little way off, round the back o' the house, an' if he can't stop himself, or nobody for him—murther! Jack Gulligan! Paddy Laherty! where are ye all? Peery Conolly, what 'ud you be doin' there? lave Peggy to herself, she doesn't want you, an' gallop round to the quarry—John! father John, a-vich!"

     While, during Mrs. Nowlan's speech, the young lady screamed and wept aloud, and her companion and the servant turned out of the yard, as if to seek the place the dame spoke of; and while Peery also shot out to guide them, and the workmen spoken to joined him, and Daniel stepped to hold Miss Letty Adams's horse, and Tony agreed with every thing said, and started here and there, doing nothing; and Murrough, still abroad, cried "Aha! "—while, in fact, all was alarm and confusion, a crash, as if of broken glass, sounded in the inner room, and when, with another cry, Mrs. Nowlan pushed wide the door, the little room (showing two beds, a table with books, a chair overturned, and the casement burst open and shattered) was empty, and she instantly exclaimed, "Ay! the pour priest is afore them! out in the winder wid him, through the good glass an' all, I believe; bad manners to it that's so apt to be always breakin'; an' he knows the ground well; an if good is to be done, he'll do it.—Whisht!—what ails 'em, now? avoch, avoch, is it so soon over? no, wait." A distant burst of voices, that at first had no expression, soon rose to a shout—" No, thanks be to God! your uncle is safe, Miss Letty; come down, come down; Daniel, you ould fool, why don't you help her down? an' you, Tony Ferret? come down, an' come in, avourneen; you'll see him in the turn of a hand."

     Nearly at the instant, indeed, and while Miss Letty, resisting the joint politeness of Daniel and Tony, and careless of the heavy rain, still sat in her saddle, Mr. Long appeared turning into the yard, leaning on John Nowlan, who led his horse, and followed by Mr. Frank Adams, Peery, and the workmen.

     Neatly attired in black, his very handsome limbs fully expressed by the old full-dress of small- clothes and well-fitting stockings; tall, straight; his smooth brown hair parted on his forehead, and his manly cheek glowing with the delight he felt after his good action, John Nowlan approached the door, smiling a tranquil smile, first upon his mother, then upon the young lady- stranger, and seeming a little shy, rather of the thanks and praises he received from Mr. Long and the workmen, and perhaps of the presence of "the great people," than discomposed or flurried by the sudden effort he had made.

     The moment her uncle came near Miss Letty Adams, she no longer avoided to leave her saddle, but, flinging herself from it, was in his arms in an instant. While they embraced, Mrs. Nowlan hung round her son's neck, sobbing, "Corra-a-chree you war, John, a-vich, an' the pride an' blessin o' my house; an' loock an' grace attends you, whatever you do, my darlin'—only, sorrow's in the glass-winder; is it all smashed, a-roon?"

     "And now, love, this gentleman commands your gratitude,—indeed, should have first received your attentions," said Mr. Long, gracefully bowing to John, and placing Miss Letty's hand in his. The eyes of the two young persons met; John still wearing with compressed lips, his mild, settled smile; and, as they mumbled something, intelligible to neither, nor, indeed, to any one around, both blushed scarlet, as the lady curtsied reverently, and as John made his formal, though not very clownish obeisance.

     All this time it was raining, though not violently; and Tony Ferret, after many smirkings round Mr. Long, and Miss Letty, and her brother, first proposed, in a voice of some authority, that the strangers should pass into the house, and that Mrs. Nowlan and Peggy should see about attending to their wants and comforts. The good dame, too much interested to notice the sudden change in his hearing, hospitably followed up the hint; and while the workmen took charge of the servant and horses, (the portfolio having been sent into the house, even before its owner was safe,) Daniel scraped forward Mr. Long; Peggy and John escorted Miss Letty; Mrs. Nowlan and Peery attended to her brother; and Tony, equally absorbed by every one, brought up the rear; Murrough, occasionally crying "Ha," having been for some time rubbing down his shins, although it was a summer evening, at the kitchen fire.

     With promptness, and no superfluous apologies for giving trouble that could not be avoided, Mr. Long, his nephew, and niece, accepted the first invitation to change their wet dresses; and Miss Letty retired with Peggy into John's study, it being the nicest room in the house; her uncle and brother, with John, into Daniel Nowlan's chamber; and in a few moments the two gentlemen re- appeared, as well appointed as was possible; one in the young priest's Sunday suit; the other in a spick-an'-span new suit, as Mrs. Nowlan declared, of her husband, just come home from Jer Thaulure's* shop-board, and not intended fur display until "next lady-day in harvest." John, making light of the partial wetting he had got, would attend to no requests from his mother or Mr. Long to change his clothes; but, slicking down his dripping hair with the palm of his hand, continued his tranquil smile and tone as he said, "He was young, and wanted a little shower to make him grow a bit."

     As they sat in the middle of the kitchen, his study door opened, and Peggy held it half ajar, as if waiting to see Miss Letty out, John glanced in, and caught the figure of the young lady standing sideways at his table, taking up his books one by one, and looking over them. She turned her head, while thus employed, met his eye, hastily laid down a book, and, brilliant in blushes and smiles, as hastily came out, leaning on Peggy's arm, and wearing Peggy's finest little gown, which, though somewhat short, yet, as the wearer happened to have very beautiful feet and—ankles, (we suppose it must be said,) by no means misfitted or misbecame her.

     Indeed, the whole transition from a dripping hat and riding habit, dishevelled locks, pale cheeks, and agitated look, to Peggy's modest full dress, Madonna bands of golden hair, cheeks coloured as well by the little excitement of dressing, as by her present graceful blushes, and glances and dimples of pleasure and content,—caused the young lady to appear as prettily attractive as she was before sadly interesting. The eyes of all spectators, while she stepped lightly into the kitchen, acknowledged this fact; and John's eyes among the number. She was the very first elegant woman he had ever come so closely in contact with; and while she spoke softly and musically, and easily and flowingly, to her uncle, Mrs. Nowlan, and Peggy; while she smiled, while she laughed, while she moved but a hand or a finger, or turned but her neck around, it was all something so new, so different from all he had before seen in women, and at the same time so superior, that poor priest John felt half-awed, half-entranced. Nor must it he forgotten, that when the lady did smile or laugh, blue eyes, lips, teeth, and, we believe we have before said, dimples, beautiful in any station of life, were thereby put into their must captivating action, or shown to the best advantage; that the harmony of her motions was aided by a perfect figure, rich in the first perfection that sometimes blesses the, with it, delightful age of maiden seventeen; that, when her neck turned so gracefully, it was white and round (though not as long) as the swan's; and that the pretty gesticulation of her hands was not prettier than the hands themselves.

     Mild and rational, moreover, in all she did or said, Miss Letty now well fulfilled the hopes of her uncle, when in infancy he took her from her father's roof, and conveyed her to England to he educated, not, as Mrs. Nowlan asserted, among the dangerous throng of a boarding-school, but in the house, and under the eye of a friendly lady, who was at once fashionable, exemplary and amiable in her conduct, and tasteful and intellectual in her recreations. The glance with which Mr. Long contemplated his niece as she came to him from John's apartment, told the satisfaction of his heart. It also intimated that he who could thus derive pleasure from a view of goodness, elegance, and gracefulness, was himself good, elegant, and graceful. And as he took the fair girl's hand, placed her by his side, and answered or joined in her sentiments of gratulation to himself, and of thanks to the humble circle around, if his tones, words, and gestures, did not fascinate as much (and why should they?) as those of his niece, they proclaimed the gentleman, whom education, travel, and high or generous pursuits, had polished and ennobled, and at the age of about forty-five, returned to his native country with few compeers. Perhaps his smiling tranquillity, and the temperate warmth of his sentiments, might have been the result as much of his early sorrow, alluded to by Mrs. Nowlan, as of his nicely-balanced susceptibilities; for there was indeed a something like a gentle toning-down of melancholy in all he looked, said, or did.

     His nephew, Frank, was as handsome a young man as his sister was a handsome young woman. Not older than John Nowlan, that is three or four and twenty, he seemed, meantime, much older in character; in fact, he was more a man; his face showed more thought, more self-knowledge; and his eye, panicularly, had a watchfulness of expression, a peculiarity, and a depth, that the world might be supposed to have imparted to it; for the young gentleman had, at an early age, mixed much with the world. While residing at Oxford, his uncle's allowances were liberal; and when the student occasionally came up to London, his uncle's name passed him into society. In the openness and vivacity of his sister's manner he was deficient; he spoke less, and less freely than she did; yet for this difference, the difference of sex might be an apology; and then, he was always bland; and, when he liked, possessed a power of impressing himself, of interesting and even charming, that, from a first view, would be thought unlikely.

     No one that now regarded him had a higher opinion of his talent of fascination than Peery Conolly. Since Mr. Frank's return with John to the kitchen, the young gentleman sat by Peggy's side, and, although the subject of his conversation was not heard, Peery saw that it was engaging. While Frank whispered, and smiled, Peggy listened complacently and with a flattered air, or answered in her best manner, or smiled graciously too, or blushed often. Once, as her eye rose and caught Peery's, it quickly fell again, and the blush that followed was more vivid than any former one. So Peery owned in his heart the superiority of his new rival, for rival he decreed him to be, but here ended his liberality; he cursed him as heartily as he made the admission.

     "Stir yourself, Peggy, ma-vourneen, an' get the try ready for the quality," said Mrs. Nowlan; and Peery experienced some relief, for Peggy instantly rose; and looking after her, with mixed observation and pleasure, Mr. Frank rose too, and joined John Nowlan, with whom Mr. Long had been speaking kindly, and addressed him.

     "I should suppose there is good trout-fishing in your mountain streams, Sir."

     "Very good, Sir, as I am told."

     "Then you do not angle, yourself?"

     "No, Sir; though, when a boy, I used to like the sport."

     "I am sorry the liking does not continue; for I should have wished to trespass a little on your time and hospitality, provided you could have found any pleasure in accompanying me, a day or two, on a fishing excursion."

     "Father John has other fish to fry, we believe," observed Peery. Mr. Frank gave him a calm, non- comprehending stare, which put poor Peery a little out of countenance; but not so much as did the contradiction of his rather officious negative, supplied in the words of flattered compliance, that immediately escaped John, his father and mother, Tony Ferret, and even Peggy. "If Masther Frank would put the obligation on them of stopping a week or a fortnight, or just as long as he liked, he was heartily welcome, God knows, to whatever their poor cabin could afford him," Mrs. Nowlan said; "and John Nowlan would show him where the trouts used to be," Daniel followed, up; and John declared, "Nothing could give him greater pleasure, and, as he had lately been a little fagged over his books, or one thing or another, he would put his own old tackle in order, and engage to find Mr. Frank good sport:" and "By dad, an' so he could," echoed Tony; and "Her brother wanted no one to tell him the part of a gentleman," Peggy added, shooting off a glance at her discomfited swain. So, in a few words, it was arranged, that Mr. Frank should begin his visit by staying that night, and that a servant should bring his rod in the morning.

     The only person who seemed to join Peery in his objections to this arrangement was Mr. Long. While his nephew, unceremoniously, though easily, thus appealed to the hospitality of the good people of the house, he looked up with a mild expression of surprise, fixed his eye upon him as if seeking to exchange a glance that Frank, either innocently or intentionally, avoided; and at last remarked: "Why, bless me, Frank, when did you become a follower of old Isaac?"

     "We used to make many little fishing excursions at College, my dear Sir, and then I learned to like the harmless pastime, very much," answered Frank.

     "Indeed, Frank." Mr. Long paused a moment; looked down, as if in thought; and with a gentle sigh, added, "Well," and withdrew all further opposition. Peery removed to the fire, far from the group, and engaged, or tried to engage, Murrough in free and easy discourse.

     Assisted by Cauth Flannigan, her maid of all work, Peggy soon had ready a show service of mock China for evening tea, accompanied by a pile of smoking hot griddle-bread, of a dainty kind, and amply buttered. When she sat down to the honours of her tea-table, Frank, after taking a round of the kitchen, as if admiring, or at least remarking its furniture, contrived to place himself accidentally by her side; John sat between Mr. Long and Miss Letty: Tony at Mrs. Nowlan's elbow.

     "Dhraw over, Peery, a-roon," said the good dame, her heart unusually happy at the honour paid to her roof that evening, as well as at the goodly and creditable display of her hospitality, and her children:—" Murrough Nowlan, dhraw near."

     "Many thanks, a-vanithee," answered Peery, rising, and trying to smile and seem much at ease, while his pale face and quivering lip bespoke the spasms at his heart—"many thanks, but I'm for goin' home to the ould man, this evenin; God be wid ye all."

     "Musha, bother, Peery, an' don't be makin' a sthookawn o' yourself, but come here an' sit down by Daniel, I say," resumed Mrs. Nowlan, very' kindly.

     "Come, a-bouchal," said Daniel, making room for him.

     "Do, Peery Conolly; sit down," added Peggy, with a smile that her conscience suggested to her good-nature.

     "Avoch no, we thank ye all again." He had observed that Mr. Frank was assiduously attending to the tea-kettle, and the cream-jug, and the sugar bowl, and the pile of hot cake, and, in fact, doing all the things that, in his present circle, he knew were considered the very essence of politeness and agreeability, while he turned sideways to Peggy, and his left arm carelessly hung over the back of her chair;—" avoch, no; the night 'ill soon be fallin', an' poor ould Matthew Conolly"—(his father)—" 'ill be waitin' for me; an' sure the table is betther filled, without me; an' you know I never cared much for the tey, any how: an' so, here goes; a good night to all the family o' this house:—an' a good night to you, Misther Long; an' the same to you, Miss; God be wid you, Tony Ferret;" and with a mixture of awkward fidget, affected gaiety, and trembling agitation, poor Peery' scraped himself out at the door, bounding from it, the moment his back was turned, and continuing his way in a race. A few seconds after, they heard him whistling and singing gaily; but they could not see, that every now and then Peery paused, set his teeth, and, with the light shillelagh he always carried, cut at the thistles or long grass he met in his path, or at some stone, or trunk of a tree, until his cudgel snapped across, when he flung far away, with a bitter curse, the part remaining in his hand, and then ran on to the next mean public-house, instead of going home to "ould Matthew Conolly;" where, until the morning broke, he remained drinking hard, along with a set of low companions, singing and screeching, the gayest of the gay, and adding another item to the extravagance, and another link to the habits that were rapidly involving him in ruin.

     The tea party he had abandoned went harmoniously on, except that Mrs. Nowlan was surprised, and a little offended, when Miss Letty politely declined to partake of her hot buttered cake, and requested, instead, a little plain bread. But Mr. Frank did not decline it, nor forget to praise it too, so that the dame's soul grew comforted again. As to Tony Ferret, as much as man could say or do to show a good will towards the cake, he said and did. And Peggy felt pleased at Mr. Frank's approbation and participation of the excellent work of her hands, as well as at all his other politeness.

     Mr. Long and his niece had been occupied in discoursing with John, who, restored to self- possession, by the simple suavity of their manners, talked in a natural and manly way upon all the subjects he could master. Perhaps it was Mr. Long's purpose, with a pleasing and unobservable tact, to draw him out a little, and see what the young man's mind was made of. At all events, he and Miss Letty seemed interested with their new friend; and now, when the servant, who had been to Mr. Long's house, returned to say that, the storm having blown off, their carriage awaited them at the nearest available point of the main road, both took John's hand, renewing thanks for his service, and expressing much respect for his person; and Mr. Long added a lively wish to cultivate his acquaintance, and a hope that, at his leisure, he and Miss Nowlan would come and see him and his niece at Long-Hall. Miss Letty, turning to Peggy, seconded the politeness; Mr. Frank urged it; John made suitable acknowledgments in his own quiet way; Peggy blushed, and answered in a style that showed she felt very much honoured; the old people returned grateful thanks; Tony Ferret said, "By dad, an' to be sure dey will so;" Murrough rubbed his shins, and cried, "Aha!" and, on the best understanding possible, Mr. Long and his niece mounted their horses, to gain their carriages, and Mr. Frank remained to go fishing early the next morning with John Nowlan.

    







 







* Be it so; or, let it be so.













 







* Indeed, or, forsooth.














 







* Babbling fool.















 







* Jerry the tailor.