Ormond, by Maria Edgeworth

Chapter 16.

The evening after the departure of the happy trio, who were gone to Dublin to buy wedding-dresses, the party remaining at Castle Corny consisted only of King Corny, Ormond, and Father Jos. When the candles were lighted, his majesty gave a long and loud yawn, Harry set the backgammon table for him, and Father Jos, as usual, settled himself in the chimney corner; “And now Mademoiselle’s gone,” said he, “I shall take leave to indulge myself in my pipe.”

“You were on the continent this morning, Father Jos,” said Cornelius. “Did ye learn any news for us? Size ace! that secures two points.”

“News! I did,” said Father Jos.

“Why not tell it us, then?”

“I was not asked. You both seemed so wrapped up, I waited my time and opportunity. There’s a new parson come to Castle Hermitage.”

“What new person?” said King Corny. “Doublets, aces, Harry.”

“A new parson I’m talking of,” said Father Jos, “that has just got the living there; and they say Sir Ulick’s mad about it, in Dublin, where he is still.”

“Mad! — Three men up — and you can’t enter, Harry. Well, what is he mad about?”

“Because of the presentation to the living,” replied the priest, “which government wouldn’t make him a compliment of, as he expected.”

“He is always expecting compliments from government,” said Corny, “and always getting disappointments. Such throws as you have, Harry — Sixes! again — Well, what luck! — all over with me — It is only a hit at any rate! But what kind of man,” continued he, “is this new clergyman?”

“Oh! them parsons is all one kind,” said Father Jos.

“All one kind! No, no more than our own priests,” said Corny. “There’s good and bad, and all the difference in life.”

“I don’t know any thing at all about it,” said Father Jos, sullenly; “but this I know, that no doubt he’ll soon be over here, or his proctor, looking for the tithes.”

“I hope we will have no quarrels,” said Corny.

“They ought to be abolished,” said Father Jos, “the tithes, that is, I mean.”

“And the quarrels, too, I hope,” said Ormond.

“Oh! It’s not our fault if there’s quarrels,” said Father Jos.

“Faults on both sides generally in all quarrels,” said Corny.

“In lay quarrels, like enough,” said Father Jos. “In church quarrels, it don’t become a good Catholic to say that.”

“What?” said Corny.

That,” said the priest.

“Which?” said Corny.

“That which you said, that there’s faults on both sides; sure there’s but one side, and that’s our own side, can be in the right there can’t be two right sides, can there? and consequently I there won’t be two wrong sides, will there? — Ergo, there cannot, by a parity of rasoning, be two sides in the wrong.”

“Well, Harry, I’ll take the black men now, and gammon you,” said Corny. “Play away, man — what are you thinking of? is it of what Father Jos said? ’tis beyond the limits of the human understanding.”

Father Jos puffed away at his pipe for some time.

“I was tired and ashamed of all the wrangling for two-pence with the last man,” said King Corny, “and I believe I was sometimes too hard and too hot myself; but if this man’s a gentleman, I think we shall agree. Did you hear his name, or any thing at all about him, Father?”

“He is one of them refugee families, the Huguenots, banished France by the adict of Nantz, they say, and his name’s Cambray.”

“Cambray!” exclaimed Ormond.

“A very good name,” said O’Shane; “but what do you know of it, Harry?”

“Only, sir, I happened to meet with a Dr. Cambray the winter I was in Dublin, whom I thought a very agreeable, respectable, amiable man — and I wonder whether this is the same person.”

“There is something more now, Harry Ormond, I know by your face,” said Corny: “there’s some story of or belonging to Dr. Cambray — what is it?”

“No story, only a slight circumstance — which, if you please, I’d rather not tell you, sir,” said Ormond.

“That is something very extraordinary, and looks mysterious,” said Father Jos.

“Nothing mysterious, I assure you,” said Ormond — “a mere trifle, which, if it concerned only myself, I would tell directly.”

“Let him alone, father,” said King Corny; “I am sure he has a good reason — and I’m not curious: only let me whisper this in your ear to show you my own penetration, Harry — I’d lay my life” (said he, stretching over and whispering), “I’d lay my life Miss Annaly has something to do with it.”

“Miss Annaly! — nothing in the world — only — yes, I recollect she was present.”

“There now — would not any body think I’m a conjuror? a physiognomist is cousin to (and not twice removed from) a conjuror.”

“But I assure you, though you happened to guess right partly as to her being present, you are totally mistaken, sir, as to the rest.”

“My dear Harry, totally means wholly: if I’m right in a part, I can’t be mistaken in the whole. I am glad to make you smile, any way — and I wish I was right altogether, and that you was as rich as Croesus into the bargain; but stay a bit, if you come home a hero from the wars — that may do — ladies are mighty fond of heroes.”

It was in vain that Ormond assured his good old imaginative friend that he was upon a wrong scent. Cornelius stopped to humour him; but was convinced that he was right: then turned to the still smoking Father Jos, and went on asking questions about Dr. Cambray.

“I know nothing at all about him,” said Father Jos, “but this, that Father M’Cormuck has dined with him, if I’m not misinformed, oftener than I think becoming in these times — making too free! And in the chapel last Sunday, I hear he made a very extraordinary address to his flock — there was one took down the words, and handed them to me: after remarking on the great distress of the season — first and foremost about the keeping of fast days the year — he allowed the poor of his flock, which is almost all, to eat meat whenever offered to them, because, said he, many would starve — now mark the obnoxious word —‘if it was not for their benevolent Protestant neighbours, who make soup and broth for them.’”

“What is there obnoxious in that?” said Cornelius.

“Wait till you hear the end —‘and feed and clothe the distressed.’”

“That is not obnoxious either, I hope,” said Ormond, laughing.

“Young gentleman, you belong to the establishment, and are no judge in this case, permit me to remark,” said Father Jos; “and I could wish Mr. O’Shane would hear to the end, before he joins in a Protestant laugh.”

“I’ve heard of a ‘Protestant wind’ before,” said Harry, “but not of a Protestant laugh.”

“Well, I’m serious, Father Jos,” said Corny; “let me hear to the end what makes your face so long.”

“‘And, I am sorry to say, show more charity to them than their own people, the rich Catholics, sometimes do.’ If that is not downright slander, I don’t know what is,” said Father Jos.

“Are you sure it is not truth, Father?” said Corny.

“And if it was, even, so much the worse, to be telling it in the chapel, and to his flock — very improper in a priest, very extraordinary conduct!”

Father Jos worked himself up to a high pitch of indignation, and railed and smoked for some time, while O’Shane and Ormond joined in defending M’Cormuck, and his address to his flock — and even his dining with the new clergyman of the parish. Father Jos gave up and had his punch. The result of the — whole was, that Ormond proposed to pay his respects the next morning to Dr. Cambray.

“Very proper,” said O’Shane: “do so — fit you should — you are of his people, and you are acquainted with the gentleman — and I’d have you go and show yourself safe to him, that we’ve made no tampering with you.”

Father Jos could not say so much, therefore he said nothing.

O’Shane continued, “A very exact church-goer at the little church there you’ve always been, at the other side of the lake — never hindered — make what compliment you will proper for me — say I’m too old and clumsy for morning visitings, and never go out of my islands. But still I can love my neighbour in or out of them, and hope, in the name of peace, to be on good terms. Sha’n’t be my fault if them tithes come across. Then I wish that bone of contention was from between the two churches. Meantime, I’m not snarling, if others is not craving: and I’d wish for the look of it, for your sake, Harry, that it should be all smooth; so say any thing you will for me to this Dr. Cambray — though we are of a different faith, I should do any thing in rason.”

“Rason! what’s that about rason?” said Father Jos: “I hope faith comes before rason.”

“And after it, too, I hope, Father,” said Corny.

Father Jos finished his punch, and went to sleep upon it.

Ormond, next morning, paid his visit — Dr. Cambray was not at home; but Harry was charmed with the neatness of his house, and with the amiable and happy appearance of his family. He had never before seen Mrs. Cambray or her daughters, though he had met the doctor in Dublin. The circumstance which Harry had declined mentioning, when Corny questioned him about his acquaintance with Dr. Cambray, was very slight, though Father Jos had imagined it to be of mysterious importance. It had happened, that among the dissipated set of young men with whom Marcus O’Shane and Harry had passed that winter in Dublin, a party had one Sunday gone to hear the singing at the Asylum, and had behaved in a very unbecoming manner during the service. Dr. Cambray preached — he spoke to the young gentlemen afterwards with mild but becoming dignity. Harry Ormond instantly, sensible of his error, made proper apologies, and erred no farther. But Marcus O’Shane in particular, who was not accustomed to endure anything, much less any person, that crossed his humour, spoke of Dr. Cambray afterwards with vindictive bitterness, and with all his talents of mimicry endeavoured to make him ridiculous. Harry defended him with a warmth of ingenuous eloquence which did him honour; and with truth, courage, and candour, that did him still more, corrected some of Marcus’s mis-statements, declaring that they had all been much to blame. Lady Annaly and her daughter were present, and this was one of the circumstances to which her ladyship had alluded, when she said that some things had occurred that had prepossessed her with a favourable opinion of Ormond’s character. Dr. Cambray knew nothing of the attack or the defence till some time afterwards; and it was now so long ago, and Harry was so much altered since that time, that it was scarcely to be expected the doctor should recollect even his person. However, when Dr. Cambray came to the Black Islands to return his visit, he did immediately recognize Ormond, and seemed so much pleased with meeting him again, and so much interested about him, that Corny’s warm heart was immediately won. Independently of this, the doctor’s persuasive benevolent politeness could not have failed to operate, as it usually did, even on a first acquaintance, in pleasing and conciliating even those who were of opposite opinions.

“There, now,” said Corny, when the doctor was gone, “there, now, is a sincere minister of the Gospel for you, and a polite gentleman into the bargain. Now that’s politeness that does not trouble me — that’s not for show — that’s for us, not himself, mark! — and conversation! Why that man has conversation for the prince and the peasant — the courtier and the anchorite. Did not he find plenty for me, and got more out of me than I thought was in me — and the same if I’d been a monk of La Trappe, he would have made me talk like a pie. Now there’s a man of the high world that the low world can like, very different from —”

Poor Corny paused, checked himself, and then resumed —“Principles, religion, and all no hinderance! — liberal and sincere too! Well, I only wish — Father Jos, no offence — I only wish, for Dr. Cambray’s sake, and the Catholic church’s sake, I was, for one day, Archbishop of Canterbury, or Primate of all Ireland, or whatever else makes the bishops in your church, and I’d skip over dean and archdeacon, and all, and make that man — clean a bishop before night.”

Harry smiled, and wished he had the power as well as the good-will.

Father Jos said, “A man ought to be ashamed not to think of his own first.”

“Now, Harry, don’t think I’d make a bishop lightly,” continued King Corny; “I would not — I’ve been a king too long for that; and though only a king of my own fashion, I know what’s fit for governing a country, observe me! — Cousin Ulick would make a job of a bishop, but I would not — nor I wouldn’t to please my fancy. Now don’t think I’d make that man a bishop just because he noticed and praised my gimcracks and inventions, and substitutes.”

Father Jos smiled, and demurely abased his eye.

“Oh! then you don’t know me as well as you think you do, father,” said O’Shane. “Nor what’s more, Harry, not his noting down the two regiments to make inquiry for friends for you, Harry, shouldn’t have bribed me to partiality — though I could have kissed his shoe-ties for it.”

“Mercy on you!” said Father Jos: “this doctor has bewitched you.”

“But did you mind, then,” persisted Corny, “the way he spoke of that cousin of mine, Sir Ulick, who he saw I did not like, and who has been, as you tell us, bitter against him, and even against his getting the living. Well, the way this Doctor Cambray spoke then pleased me — good morals without preaching — there’s do good to your enemies— the true Christian doctrine — and the hardest point. Oh! let Father Jos say what he will, there’s the man will be in heaven before many — heretic or no heretic, Harry!”

Father Jos shrugged up his shoulders, and then fixing the: glass in his spectacles, replied, “We shall see better when we come to the tithes.”

“That’s true,” said Corny.

He walked off to his workshop, and took down his fowling-piece to put the finishing stroke to his work for the next day, which was to be the first day of partridge-shooting: he looked forward with delight — anticipating the gratification he should have in going out shooting with Harry, and trying his new fowling-piece. “But I won’t go out to-morrow till the post has come in; for my mind couldn’t enjoy the sport till I was satisfied whether the answer could come about your commission, Harry: my mind misgives me — that is, my calculation tells me, that it will come to-morrow.”

Good Corny’s calculations were just: the next morning the little post-boy brought answers to various letters which he had written about Ormond — one to Ormond from Sir Ulick O’Shane, repeating his approbation of his ward’s going into the army, approving of all the steps Cornelius had taken — especially of his intention of paying for the commission.

“All’s well,” Cornelius said. The next letter was from Cornelius’s banker, saying that the five hundred pound was lodged, ready. “All well.” The army-agent wrote, “that he had commissions in two different regiments, waiting Mr. O’Shane’s choice and orders per return of post, to purchase in conformity.”—“That’s all well.” General Albemarle’s answer to Mr. O’Shane’s letter was most satisfactory: in terms that were not merely officially polite, but kind, “he assured Mr. O’Shane that he should, as far as it was in his power, pay attention to the young gentleman, whom Mr. O’Shane had so strongly recommended to his care, and by whose appearance and manner the general said he had been prepossessed, when he saw him some months ago at Corny Castle. There was a commission vacant in his son’s regiment, which he recommended to Mr. Ormond.”

“The very thing I could have wished for you, my dear boy — you shall go off the day after to-morrow — not a moment’s delay — I’ll answer the letters this minute.”

But Harry reminded him that the post did not go out till the next day, and urged him not to lose this fine day — this first day of the season for partridge shooting.

“Time enough for my business after we come home — the post does not go out till morning.”

“That’s true: come off, then — let’s enjoy the fine day sent us; and my gun, too — I forgot; for I do believe, Harry, I love you better even than my gun,” said the warm-hearted Corny. “Call Ormond. Moriarty; let us have him with us — he’ll enjoy it beyond all: one of the last day’s shooting with his own Prince Harry! — but, poor fellow, we’ll not tell him that.”

Moriarty and the dogs were summoned, and the fineness of the day, and the promise of good sport, put Moriarty in remarkably good spirits. By degrees King Corny’s own spirits rose, and he forgot that it was the last day with Prince Harry, and he enjoyed the sport. After various trials of his new fowling-piece, both the king and the prince agreed that it succeeded to admiration. But even in the midst of his pride in his success, and his joy in the sport, his superior fondness for Harry prevailed, and showed itself in little, almost delicate instances of kindness, which could hardly have been expected from his unpolished mind. As they crossed a bog, he stooped every now and then, and plucked different kinds of bog-plants and heaths.

“Here, Harry,” said he, “mind these for Dr. Cambray. Remember yesterday his mentioning that a daughter of his was making a botanical collection, and there’s Sheelah can tell you all the Irish names and uses. Some I can note for you myself; and here, this minute — by great luck! the very thing he wanted! — the andromeda, I’ll swear to it: throw away all and keep this — carry it to her to-morrow — for I will have you make a friend of that Dr. Cambray; and no way so sure or fair to the father’s heart as by proper attention to the daughter — I know that by myself. Hush, now, till I have that partridge! — Whirr! — Shot him clean, my dear gun! — Was not that good, Harry?”

Thus they continued their sport till late; and returning, loaded with game, had nearly reached the palace, when Corny, who had marked a covey, quitted Harry, and sent his dog to spring it, at a distance much greater than the usual reach of a common fowling-piece. Harry heard a shot, and a moment afterwards a violent shout of despair; — he knew the voice to be that of Moriarty, and running to the spot from whence it came, he found his friend, his benefactor, weltering in his blood. The fowling-piece, overloaded, had burst, and a large splinter of the barrel had fractured the skull, and had sunk into the brain. As Moriarty was trying to raise his head, O’Shane uttered some words, of which all that was intelligible was the name of Harry Ormond. His eye was fixed on Harry, but the meaning of the eye was gone. He squeezed Harry’s hand, and an instant afterwards O’Shane’s hand was powerless. The dearest, the only real friend Harry Ormond had upon earth was gone for ever!

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Last updated Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 14:02