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the divinest of sound played, possibly not well, by my eldest sister's governess in a soft summer twilight so long ago.
Meanwhile I have left Mrs Clement, excited and pathetic, holding my thin little visage in the cup of her folded palms. She was just as faded and fair and melancholy as ever, and the same young man's head showed in the brooch frame on the unchanged black silk gown. She kissed me several times, and stroked my hair, and expressed amazement at the change in me. And while she, dear kindly soul, was only thinking of me, there was I, volatile little rascal, looking around me, delighted to see again the beautiful big red-andwhite cups, and smell the spices of the cupboard. Has tea, have bread-and-milk, ever tasted again as these modest luxuries tasted in those beautiful cups? The very remembrance of them brings the water of envy to the mouth of age. I forget the miseries of childhood only to recall the pleasure I took in that warm and rich pottery, and the brilliant effect of bowls and plates and cups upon the morning and evening damask.
noise? Go to sleep instantly, or I'll come in and whip you all round."
A sudden scamper of whiterobed limbs, and in a twinkling four heads are hidden under the sheets. Silence down the corridors, silence throughout the high old house; only the breathing of night, and four little heads are again bobbing over the pillows.
"Oh, I say, Angela, we didn't tell you, there's a new baby upstairs. Susanna! Did you ever hear of such a name? Everybody has pretty names but us. Birdie was so jealous when it came, because nurse said her nose would be out of joint, that she tried to smash its head with a poker one day. She was caught in time."
And so there was. Another lamentable little girl born into this improvident dolorous vale of Irish misery. Elsewhere boys are born in plenty. In Ireland,
the very wretchedest land on earth for woman, the one spot of the globe where no provision is made for her, and where parents consider themselves as exempt of all duty, of tenderness, of justice in her regard, where her lot as daughter, wife, and old maid bears no resemblance to the ideal of civilisation, a dozen girls are born for one boy. The parents moan, and being fatalists as well as Catholics, reflect that it is the will of God, as if they were not in the least responsible; and while they assure you that they have not wherewith to fill an extra mouth, which is inevitably true, they continue to produce their twelve, fifteen, or twenty
And that first night at home, four little girls sleeping together in two large beds, three nightdressed forms perched on a single bed, while I, the stranger returned from abroad, mimicked Mr Parker for their shrieking delight, and held my nightdress high up on either side to perform the famous curtsey of Queen Anne. And then a furious shout outside the landing, and my mother's voice"What's the meaning of that infants with alarming and in
credible indifference. This is Irish virtue. The army of inefficient Irish governesses and starving illiterate Irish teachers cast upon the Continent, forces one to lament a virtue whose results are so heartless and so deplorable. If my most sympathetic and most unsatisfactory race were only a little less virtuous in its own restricted sense of the word, and a tiny bit more rational! And not content, alas! with the iniquity of driving these poor maimed creatures upon foreign shores in the quest of daily bread, hopelessly ill-equipped for the task, without education, or knowledge of domestic or feminine lore, incapable of handling a needle or cooking an egg, without the most rudimentary instinct of order or personal cleanliness, indifferent in the matter of baths and linen, so incompetent, and vague, and careless,-these same parents at home expect these martyrs abroad to replenish their coffers with miserably earned coin. I have never met an Irish governess on the Continent who had a sou to spend on her private pleasures, for the simple reason that she sent every odd farthing home.
the iniquitous old story. Irishmen go to America, marry, and make their fortunes; but the landlord and shopkeeper at home are paid by the savings of the peasant-girls, without a "Thank you" from their parents. Let Jack or Tom send them a five-pound note in the course of a prosperous career,
"Glory be to God, but 'tis the good son he is," piously ejaculate the old folk. Let Bessy or Jane give them her heart's blood, deny herself every pleasure, not only the luxuries but the very necessaries of life, and the same old folk nod their sapient heads,-"'Tis but her duty, to be sure.'
Needless to say, this inappropriate burst of indignation was not inspired in those days by the sight of my new little sister in her cradle, as white as milk, with eyes like big blue stars, the eyes of her Irish father, soft and luminous and gay. She dwelt on earth just eighteen months, and then took flight to some region where it is to be hoped she found a warmer nest than fate would have offered her here below.
My grandmother was dead, but Dennis and Mary Ann still lived with my uncle Lionel. What a joy our meeting! So "thim English" hadn't made mince-meat of me! I was whole and sound, Mary Ann remarked, but mighty spare of flesh and colour. "Just a rag of a creature," Dennis commented, as he lifted my arm. "Why didn't ye write and tell us ye were hungry, alannah?"
"I did so," I promptly retorted; "but Sister Esmeralda rubbed it out, and put in something else which wasn't a bit
"Troth, and 'tis meself 'ud enjoy givin' that wan a piece of me moind."
The whiff of the brogue was
1 I make this statement for the benefit of my country-people. If they could but know the partly earned reputation of Irishwomen on the Continent for untidiness, personal uncleanliness, and incompetence !
strong enough to waft you to the clouds. But how good to be with these two honest souls again! Uncle Lionel gave me a crown-piece, when he had tortured my cheek with his shaven chin, and called me a little renegade because of my English accent, and then I went out to the garden, neglected ever since the death of my grandfather.
Where was Hamlet, and whither had vanished Elsinore? Where was the youth with the future revolutionary name, who used to come bounding over the hedge, cheerily humming "Love among the Roses"? There were no roses now, and the house next door was to let.
After the trim gardens of England, this desolate old slip of garden, where weeds and thick grasses grew along the uncared paths, seemed a cemetery of dead seasons. Fruittrees that bore neither blossom nor fruit; flower - beds where leaf nor flower now
now mere summer urns of unfulfilled promise, and scarce a red bunch on the currantboughs. And the pool, with the circle of watering - cans above, now rusty and untouched, where I used to watch for the first faint line of shadow cast by the gathering dusk, which stole across its clear face in keeping with the stealing flight of light above-how dead and sad all this seemed, despite its quaint familiarity. I was but a child, and yet as I stood once more in that neglected garden, I had some premonition of the immitigable sadness of remembrance, the feeling that there was already a past that had slipped through my fingers, as the waters run ceaselessly from the fountain of life to mingle with the still river of death.
CHAPTER XXII. -A PRINCESS OF LEGEND.
"Is childhood dead?" Lamb asks; "is there not in the best some of the child's heart left, to respond to its earliest enchantments?" Can I now, without a responsive thrill, see myself flash into the unaltered dulness of that Kildare village, a little princess of legend, with the glory of foreign travel about me, the over-seas cut of frock and shoes, the haughty and condescending consciousness of superiority?
They were all so visibly at my feet, so glad to worship and
admire, so eager to praise, so beset with wonder. I was to spend a week in their midst, a delightful week, as long as a story, as brief as a play, a puff of happiness blown across the bleak wind of solitude, a prolonged and hilarious scamper through sensation as vivid and vital as morning light.
Mary Jane was there, with the unchanged oiled black ringlets, and in my honour she wore them bound with a bright blue ribbon. Louie came out from town to behold me, and gazed
in stupefied awe. I had been in a ship across the sea. I had traversed half of England in a railway-carriage. Had I seen
an elephant? Mary Jane wanted to know if I had seen the Queen.
No; but I had seen a naked lady, with beautiful golden hair down her back, ride through the town of Lysterby on a white pony, while twelve lovely pages in silver and gold and satin rode before, and twelve lovely maidens with long velvet cloaks lined with white satin rode behind her. This sounded as grand as a royal procession, and I glided ingeniously over the ignominy of having been to England and not having seen the Queen.
Mary Jane's mamma gave me a bowl of milk and a plate of arrowroot biscuits, and as I devoured them, with what a splendid air I recognised the old and faded views of New York! I scorned my past ignorance, and off-handedly mentioned that "You know, the sea isn't a bit like the pond." And then the search for a brilliant and captivating comparison-arm extended to suggest immensity; heaving wave, rolling ship.
"Isn't she wonderful?" they cried; "and the fine language of her!"
From cottage to cottage, from shop to shop, I wandered, intoxicated by the incense of admiration. I embroidered fact and invented fiction with the readiness of the fanciful traveller. Sister Esmeralda became an unimaginable fiend, who had persecuted me as if I had been the heroine of the fairy-tale I
was acting, till the entire village was fit to rise and shout for her blood.
"The likes of that did you ever hear?" a gaunt peasant in corduroy would ask his neighbour in dismay.
"Troth and 'tis thim English as is a quare lot. Beat a little lady as is fit to rule the lot of them, and lock her up in dungeons along with spirits and goblins, and starve the life and soul out of her! Sure 'tis worse they are than in the days of Cromwell."
Naturally, in the amazing record of my experiences, the hidden bones and marble hand of my old friend, the White Lady of the Ivies, played a prominent and shuddering part.
Under the influence of such an audience, I tasted the fascinating results of suffering. I was in that brief week repaid for all the previous slights of fortune. I reposed in the lap of adulation, and turned my woes into a dramatic enjoyment. I had suffered; but the romantic activity of my imagination, with a natural mirthfulness of temperament, preserved me from the self-centred and subjective misery of the visionary, and from the embittering anguish of rancour. Once I had excited the local mind against Sister Esmeralda and the wretched superioress of the Ladies of Mercy, my anger against them vanished, and they simply remained in memory as picturesque instruments of misfortune. But for the moment I was too full of the joy of living for anything like morbid selfpity. I preferred to loll on the grass beside Bessy the apple
woman, and treat all the children of the green to her darling trays of apples with uncle Lionel's bright crown - piece. Bessy never tired of assuring me that I was a wonderful creature, which I fully believed, and Louie made frequent mention of his thirst to be old enough to marry me. It soothed him to hear that he was much nicer than Frank, 'the horrid Lysterby boy. Louie had not made his first confession, and he was thrillingly and fearfully interested in the tale of mine.
"You know," I dolefully remarked, "the priest won't let you confess any of the nice interesting-looking sins, with the lovely big names, like a-dul-tery and for-ni-fi-ca-tion and defraud-ing. He makes you tell awful little sins, like talking in class and answering a nun, and all that sort of thing.'
"Oh, but I say," shouted Louie, wagging a remonstrative head, "the priest can't prevent you from saying you committed adultery."
"Yes, but he says you didn't; and then it seems you're telling a lie to the Holy Ghost, and you may be struck dead in the confessional-box."
This Louie regarded as an excessive risk to run for the simple pleasure of confessing a nice big sin. He thought the matter over
in bed that night, and communicated to me next morning his intention to confess to having stolen two marbles from Johnnie Magrath, and having licked Tim Martin.
"You know, Angy, I really did lick him, he's such an awful beast, and made his nose bleed rivers, with a black dab under his eyes as big as my fist; and here are the two marbles I stole."
He went back to town that afternoon, with his little grey eyes moist over the brimming smiles of his lively comic mouth. His was a hilarious depression, a rowdy melancholy, emblematic of the destiny in store for him. He grimaced wonderfully, with screwed-up eyelids and twisted and bunched-out lips, and kept on muttering all the time we walked together to the coachhouse where the mail-car started from "It's an awful shame, so it is. A fellow can't do what he likes, but there's always somebody bothering him and ordering him about."
Dear, honest, little playmate! That was the last, last glimpse I had of him. We exchanged our last kiss at the top of the village street, and I wildly waved my handkerchief until a deep bend of the long white Kildare road hid the car, as it seemed to roll off the flat land
CHAPTER XXIII.-MY FIRST TASTE OF FREEDOM.
My parents had taken a house at Dalkey, with a garden a dream of delights, that ran by shadowy slopes and bosky alleys
VOL. CLXV.-NO. M.
down to the grey rocks where the sea seemed to become our very own, as it rolled over the rocks, and made, from time to