During this dispute, my cousin Nora did the only thing that a lady, under such circumstances, could do, and fainted in due form. I was in hot altercation with Mick at the time, or I should have, of course, flown to her assistance, but Captain Fagan (a dry sort of fellow this Fagan was) prevented me, saying, ‘I advise you to leave the young lady to herself, Master Redmond, and be sure she will come to.’ And so indeed, after a while, she did, which has shown me since that Fagan knew the world pretty well, for many’s the lady I’ve seen in after times recover in a similar manner. Quin did not offer to help her, you may be sure, for, in the midst of the diversion, caused by her screaming, the faithless bully stole away.
‘Which of us is Captain Quin to engage?’ said I to Mick; for it was my first affair, and I was as proud of it as of a suit of laced velvet. ‘Is it you or I, Cousin Mick, that is to have the honour of chastising this insolent Englishman?’ And I held out my hand as I spoke, for my heart melted towards my cousin under the triumph of the moment.
But he rejected the proffered offer of friendship. ‘You — you!’ said he, in a towering passion; ‘hang you for a meddling brat: your hand is in everybody’s pie. What business had you to come brawling and quarrelling here, with a gentleman who has fifteen hundred a year?’
‘Oh,’ gasped Nora, from the stone bench, ‘I shall die: I know I shall. I shall never leave this spot.’
‘The Captain’s not gone yet,’ whispered Fagan; on which Nora, giving him an indignant look, jumped up and walked towards the house.
‘Meanwhile,’ Mick continued, ‘what business have you, you meddling rascal, to interfere with a daughter of this house?’
‘Rascal yourself!’ roared I: ‘call me another such name, Mick Brady, and I’ll drive my hanger into your weasand. Recollect, I stood to you when I was eleven years old. I’m your match now, and, by Jove, provoke me, and I’ll beat you like — like your younger brother always did.’ That was a home-cut, and I saw Mick turn blue with fury.
‘This is a pretty way to recommend yourself to the family,’ said Fagan, in a soothing tone.
‘The girl’s old enough to be his mother,’ growled Mick.
‘Old or not,’ I replied: ‘you listen to this, Mick Brady’ (and I swore a tremendous oath, that need not be put down here): ‘the man that marries Nora Brady must first kill me — do you mind that?’
‘Pooh, sir,’ said Mick, turning away, ‘kill you — flog you, you mean! I’ll send for Nick the huntsman to do it;’ and so he went off.
Captain Fagan now came up, and taking me kindly by the hand, said I was a gallant lad, and he liked my spirit. ‘But what Brady says is true,’ continued he; ‘it’s a hard thing to give a lad counsel who is in such a far-gone state as you; but, believe me, I know the world, and if you will but follow my advice, you won’t regret having taken it. Nora Brady has not a penny; you are not a whit richer. You are but fifteen, and she’s four-and-twenty. In ten years, when you’re old enough to marry, she will be an old woman; and, my poor boy, don’t you see — though it’s a hard matter to see — that she’s a flirt, and does not care a pin for you or Quin either?’
But who in love (or in any other point, for the matter of that) listens to advice? I never did, and I told Captain Fagan fairly, that Nora might love me or not as she liked, but that Quin should fight me before he married her — that I swore.
‘Faith,’ says Fagan, ‘I think you are a lad that’s likely to keep your word;’ and, looking hard at me for a second or two, he walked away likewise, humming a tune: and I saw he looked back at me as he went through the old gate out of the garden. When he was gone, and I was quite alone, I flung myself down on the bench where Nora had made believe to faint, and had left her handkerchief; and, taking it up, hid my face in it, and burst into such a passion of tears as I would then have had nobody see for the world. The crumpled riband which I had flung at Quin lay in the walk, and I sat there for hours, as wretched as any man in Ireland, I believe, for the time being. But it’s a changeable world! When we consider how great our sorrows SEEM, and how small they ARE; how we think we shall die of grief, and how quickly we forget, I think we ought to be ashamed of ourselves and our fickle-heartedness. For, after all, what business has time to bring us consolation? I have not, perhaps, in the course of my multifarious adventures and experience, hit upon the right woman; and have forgotten, after a little, every single creature I adored; but I think, if I could but have lighted on the right one, I would have loved her for EVER.
I must have sat for some hours bemoaning myself on the garden bench, for it was morning when I came to Castle Brady, and the dinner-bell clanged as usual at three o’clock, which wakened me up from my reverie. Presently I gathered up the handkerchief, and once more took the riband. As I passed through the offices, I saw the Captain’s saddle was still hanging up at the stable-door, and saw his odious red-coated brute of a servant swaggering with the scullion-girls and kitchen-people. ‘The Englishman’s still there, Master Redmond,’ said one of the maids to me (a sentimental black-eyed girl, who waited on the young ladies). ‘He’s there in the parlour, with the sweetest fillet of vale; go in, and don’t let him browbeat you, Master Redmond.’
And in I went, and took my place at the bottom of the big table, as usual, and my friend the butler speedily brought me a cover.
‘Hallo, Reddy my boy!’ said my uncle, ‘up and well? — that’s right.’
‘He’d better be home with his mother,’ growled my aunt.
‘Don’t mind her,’ says Uncle Brady; ‘it’s the cold goose she ate at breakfast didn’t agree with her. Take a glass of spirits, Mrs. Brady, to Redmond’s health.’ It was evident he did not know of what had happened; but Mick, who was at dinner too, and Ulick, and almost all the girls, looked exceedingly black, and the Captain foolish; and Miss Nora, who was again by his side, ready to cry. Captain Fagan sat smiling; and I looked on as cold as a stone. I thought the dinner would choke me: but I was determined to put a good face on it, and when the cloth was drawn, filled my glass with the rest; and we drank the King and the Church, as gentlemen should. My uncle was in high good-humour, and especially always joking with Nora and the Captain. It was, ‘Nora, divide that merry-thought with the Captain! see who’ll be married first.’ ‘Jack Quin, my dear boy, never mind a clean glass for the claret, we’re short of crystal at Castle Brady; take Nora’s and the wine will taste none the worse;’ and so on. He was in the highest glee — I did not know why. Had there been a reconciliation between the faithless girl and her lover since they had come into the house?
I learned the truth very soon. At the third toast, it was always the custom for the ladies to withdraw; but my uncle stopped them this time, in spite of the remonstrances of Nora, who said, ‘Oh, pa! do let us go!’ and said, ‘No, Mrs. Brady and ladies, if you plaise; this is a sort of toast that is drunk a great dale too seldom in my family, and you’ll plaise to receive it with all the honours. Here’s CAPTAIN AND MRS. JOHN QUIN, and long life to them. Kiss her, Jack, you rogue: for ‘faith you’ve got a treasure!’
‘He has already ‘—— I screeched out, springing up.
‘Hold your tongue, you fool — hold your tongue!’ said big Ulick, who sat by me; but I wouldn’t hear.
‘He has already,’ I screamed, ‘been slapped in the face this morning, Captain John Quin; he’s already been called coward, Captain John Quin; and this is the way I’ll drink his health. Here’s your health, Captain John Quin!’ And I flung a glass of claret into his face. I don’t know how he looked after it, for the next moment I myself was under the table, tripped up by Ulick, who hit me a violent cuff on the head as I went down; and I had hardly leisure to hear the general screaming and skurrying that was taking place above me, being so fully occupied with kicks, and thumps, and curses, with which Ulick was belabouring me. ‘You fool!’ roared he —’ you great blundering marplot — you silly beggarly brat’ (a thump at each), ‘hold your tongue!’ These blows from Ulick, of course, I did not care for, for he had always been my friend, and had been in the habit of thrashing me all my life.
When I got up from under the table all the ladies were gone; and I had the satisfaction of seeing the Captain’s nose was bleeding, as mine was — HIS was cut across the bridge, and his beauty spoiled for ever. Ulick shook himself, sat down quietly, filled a bumper, and pushed the bottle to me. ‘There, you young donkey,’ said he, ‘sup that; and let’s hear no more of your braying.’
‘In Heaven’s name, what does all the row mean?’ says my uncle. ‘Is the boy in the fever again?’
‘It’s all your fault,’ said Mick sulkily: ‘yours and those who brought him here.’
‘Hold your noise, Mick!’ says Ulick, turning on him; ‘speak civil of my father and me, and don’t let me be called upon to teach you manners.’
‘It IS your fault,’ repeated Mick. ‘What business has the vagabond here? If I had my will, I’d have him flogged and turned out.’
‘And so he should be,’ said Captain Quin.
‘You’d best not try it, Quin,’ said Ulick, who was always my champion; and turning to his father, ‘The fact is, sir, that the young monkey has fallen in love with Nora, and finding her and the Captain mighty sweet in the garden today, he was for murdering Jack Quin.’
‘Gad, he’s beginning young,’ said my uncle, quite good-humouredly. ‘‘Faith, Fagan, that boy’s a Brady, every inch of him.’
‘And I’ll tell you what, Mr. B.,’ cried Quin, bristling up: ‘I’ve been insulted grossly in this ‘OUSE. I ain’t at all satisfied with these here ways of going on. I’m an Englishman I am, and a man of property; and I— I’—‘If you’re insulted, and not satisfied, remember there’s two of us, Quin,’ said Ulick gruffly. On which the Captain fell to washing his nose in water, and answered never a word.
‘Mr. Quin,’ said I, in the most dignified tone I could assume, ‘may also have satisfaction any time he pleases, by calling on Redmond Barry, Esquire, of Barryville.’ At which speech my uncle burst out a-laughing (as he did at everything); and in this laugh, Captain Fagan, much to my mortification, joined. I turned rather smartly upon him, however, and bade him to understand that as for my cousin Ulick, who had been my best friend through life, I could put up with rough treatment from him; yet, though I was a boy, even that sort of treatment I would bear from him no longer; and any other person who ventured on the like would find me a man, to their cost. ‘Mr. Quin,’ I added, ‘knows that fact very well; and if HE’S a man, he’ll know where to find me.’
My uncle now observed that it was getting late, and that my mother would be anxious about me. ‘One of you had better go home with him,’ said he, turning to his sons, ‘or the lad may be playing more pranks.’ But Ulick said, with a nod to his brother, ‘Both of us ride home with Quin here.’
‘I’m not afraid of Freny’s people,’ said the Captain, with a faint attempt at a laugh; ‘my man is armed, and so am I.’
‘You know the use of arms very well, Quin,’ said Ulick; ‘and no one can doubt your courage; but Mick and I will see you home for all that.’
‘Why, you’ll not be home till morning, boys. Kilwangan’s a good ten mile from here.’
‘We’ll sleep at Quin’s quarters,’ replied Ulick: ‘WE’RE GOING TO STOP A WEEK THERE.’
‘Thank you,’ says Quin, very faint; ‘it’s very kind of you.’
‘You’ll be lonely, you know, without us.’
‘Oh yes, very lonely!’ says Quin.
‘And in ANOTHER WEEK, my boy,’ says Ulick (and here he whispered something in the Captain’s ear, in which I thought I caught the words ‘marriage,’ ‘parson,’ and felt all my fury returning again).
‘As you please,’ whined out the Captain; and the horses were quickly brought round, and the three gentlemen rode away.
Fagan stopped, and, at my uncle’s injunction, walked across the old treeless park with me. He said that after the quarrel at dinner, he thought I would scarcely want to see the ladies that night, in which opinion I concurred entirely; and so we went off without an adieu.
‘A pretty day’s work of it you have made, Master Redmond,’ said he. ‘What! you a friend to the Bradys, and knowing your uncle to be distressed for money, try and break off a match which will bring fifteen hundred a year into the family? Quin has promised to pay off the four thousand pounds which is bothering your uncle so. He takes a girl without a penny — a girl with no more beauty than yonder bullock. Well, well, don’t look furious; let’s say she IS handsome — there’s no accounting for tastes — a girl that has been flinging herself at the head of every man in these parts these ten years past, and MISSING them all. And you, as poor as herself, a boy of fifteen — well, sixteen, if you insist — and a boy who ought to be attached to your uncle as to your father’—
‘And so I am,’ said I.
‘And this is the return you make him for his kindness! Didn’t he harbour you in his house when you were an orphan, and hasn’t he given you rent-free your fine mansion of Barryville yonder? And now, when his affairs can be put into order, and a chance offers for his old age to be made comfortable, who flings himself in the way of him and competence? — You, of all others; the man in the world most obliged to him. It’s wicked, ungrateful, unnatural. From a lad of such spirit as you are, I expect a truer courage.’
‘I am not afraid of any man alive,’ exclaimed I (for this latter part of the Captain’s argument had rather staggered me, and I wished, of course, to turn it — as one always should when the enemy’s too strong); ‘and it’s I am the injured man, Captain Fagan. No man was ever, since the world began, treated so. Look here — look at this riband. I’ve worn it in my heart for six months. I’ve had it there all the time of the fever. Didn’t Nora take it out of her own bosom and give it me? Didn’t she kiss me when she gave it me, and call me her darling Redmond?’
‘She was PRACTISING,’ replied Mr. Fagan, with a sneer. ‘I know women, sir. Give them time, and let nobody else come to the house, and they’ll fall in love with a chimney-sweep. There was a young lady in Fermoy’—
‘A young lady in flames,’ roared I (but I used a still hotter word). ‘Mark this; come what will of it, I swear I’ll fight the man who pretends to the hand of Nora Brady. I’ll follow him, if it’s into the church, and meet him there. I’ll have his blood, or he shall have mine; and this riband shall be found dyed in it. Yes, and if I kill him, I’ll pin it on his breast, and then she may go and take back her token.’ This I said because I was very much excited at the time, and because I had not read novels and romantic plays for nothing.
‘Well,’ says Fagan after a pause, ‘if it must be, it must. For a young fellow, you are the most blood-thirsty I ever saw. Quin’s a determined fellow, too.’
‘Will you take my message to him?’ said I, quite eagerly.
‘Hush!’ said Fagan: ‘your mother may be on the look-out. Here we are, close to Barryville.’
‘Mind! not a word to my mother,’ I said; and went into the house swelling with pride and exultation to think that I should have a chance against the Englishman I hated so.
Tim, my servant, had come up from Barryville on my mother’s return from church; for the good lady was rather alarmed at my absence, and anxious for my return. But he had seen me go in to dinner, at the invitation of the sentimental lady’s-maid; and when he had had his own share of the good things in the kitchen, which was always better furnished than ours at home, had walked back again to inform his mistress where I was, and, no doubt, to tell her, in his own fashion, of all the events that had happened at Castle Brady. In spite of my precautions to secrecy, then, I half suspected that my mother knew all, from the manner in which she embraced me on my arrival, and received our guest, Captain Fagan. The poor soul looked a little anxious and flushed, and every now and then gazed very hard in the Captain’s face; but she said not a word about the quarrel, for she had a noble spirit, and would as lief have seen anyone of her kindred hanged as shirking from the field of honour. What has become of those gallant feelings nowadays? Sixty years ago a man was a MAN, in old Ireland, and the sword that was worn by his side was at the service of any gentleman’s gizzard, upon the slightest difference. But the good old times and usages are fast fading away. One scarcely every hears of a fair meeting now, and the use of those cowardly pistols, in place of the honourable and manly weapon of gentlemen, has introduced a deal of knavery into the practice of duelling, that cannot be sufficiently deplored.
When I arrived at home I felt that I was a man in earnest, and welcoming Captain Fagan to Barryville, and introducing him to my mother, in a majestic and dignified way, said the Captain must be thirsty after his walk, and called upon Tim to bring up a bottle of the yellow-sealed Bordeaux, and cakes and glasses, immediately.
Tim looked at the mistress in great wonderment: and the fact is, that six hours previous I would as soon have thought of burning the house down as calling for a bottle of claret on my own account; but I felt I was a man now, and had a right to command; and my mother felt this too, for she turned to the fellow and said, sharply, ‘Don’t you hear, you rascal, what YOUR MASTER says! Go, get the wine, and the cakes and glasses, directly.’ Then (for you may be sure she did not give Tim the keys of our little cellar) she went and got the liquor herself; and Tim brought it in, on the silver tray, in due form. My dear mother poured out the wine, and drank the Captain welcome; but I observed her hand shook very much as she performed this courteous duty, and the bottle went clink, clink, against the glass. When she had tasted her glass, she said she had a headache, and would go to bed; and so I asked her blessing, as becomes a dutiful son —(the modern BLOODS have given up the respectful ceremonies which distinguished a gentleman in my time)— and she left me and Captain Fagan to talk over our important business.
‘Indeed,’ said the Captain,’ I see now no other way out of the scrape than a meeting. The fact is, there was a talk of it at Castle Brady, after your attack upon Quin this afternoon, and he vowed that he would cut you in pieces: but the tears and supplications of Miss Honoria induced him, though very unwillingly, to relent. Now, however, matters have gone too far. No officer, bearing His Majesty’s commission, can receive a glass of wine on his nose — this claret of yours is very good, by the way, and by your leave we’ll ring for another bottle — without resenting the affront. Fight you must; and Quin is a huge strong fellow.’
‘He’ll give the better mark,’ said I. ‘I am not afraid of him.’
‘In faith,’ said the Captain,’ I believe you are not; for a lad, I never saw more game in my life.’
‘Look at that sword, sir,’ says I, pointing to an elegant silver-mounted one, in a white shagreen case, that hung on the mantelpiece, under the picture of my father, Harry Barry. ‘It was with that sword, sir, that my father pinked Mohawk O’Driscol, in Dublin, in the year 1740; with that sword, sir, he met Sir Huddlestone Fuddlestone, the Hampshire baronet, and ran him through the neck. They met on horseback, with sword and pistol, on Hounslow Heath, as I dare say you have heard tell of, and those are the pistols’ (they hung on each side of the picture) ‘which the gallant Barry used. He was quite in the wrong, having insulted Lady Fuddlestone, when in liquor, at the Brentford assembly. But, like a gentleman, he scorned to apologise, and Sir Huddlestone received a ball through his hat, before they engaged with the sword. I am Harry Barry’s son, sir, and will act as becomes my name and my quality.’
‘Give me a kiss, my dear boy,’ said Fagan, with tears in his eyes. ‘You’re after my own soul. As long as Jack Fagan lives you shall never want a friend or a second.’
Poor fellow! he was shot six months afterwards, carrying orders to my Lord George Sackville, at Minden, and I lost thereby a kind friend. But we don’t know what is in store for us, and that night was a merry one at least. We had a second bottle, and a third too (I could hear the poor mother going downstairs for each, but she never came into the parlour with them, and sent them in by the butler, Mr. Tim): and we parted at length, he engaging to arrange matters with Mr. Quin’s second that night, and to bring me news in the morning as to the place where the meeting should take place. I have often thought since, how different my fate might have been, had I not fallen in love with Nora at that early age; and had I not flung the wine in Quin’s face, and so brought on the duel. I might have settled down in Ireland but for that (for Miss Quinlan was an heiress, within twenty miles of us, and Peter Burke, of Kilwangan, left his daughter Judy L700 a year, and I might have had either of them, had I waited a few years). But it was in my fate to be a wanderer, and that battle with Quin sent me on my travels at a very early age: as you shall hear anon.
I never slept sounder in my life, though I woke a little earlier than usual; and you may be sure my first thought was of the event of the day, for which I was fully prepared. I had ink and pen in my room — had I not been writing those verses to Nora but the day previous, like a poor fond fool as I was? And now I sat down and wrote a couple of letters more: they might be the last, thought I, that I ever should write in my life. The first was to my mother:—
‘Honoured Madam’— I wrote —‘This will not be given you unless I fall by the hand of Captain Quin, whom I meet this day in the field of honour, with sword and pistol. If I die, it is as a good Christian and a gentleman — how should I be otherwise when educated by such a mother as you? I forgive all my enemies — I beg your blessing as a dutiful son. I desire that my mare Nora, which my uncle gave me, and which I called after the most faithless of her sex, may be returned to Castle Brady, and beg you will give my silver-hiked hanger to Phil Purcell, the gamekeeper. Present my duty to my uncle and Ulick, and all the girls of MY party there. And I remain your dutiful son,
To Nora I wrote:—
‘This letter will be found in my bosom along with the token you gave me. It will be dyed in my blood (unless I have Captain Quin’s, whom I hate, but forgive), and will be a pretty ornament for you on your marriage-day. Wear it, and think of the poor boy to whom you gave it, and who died (as he was always ready to do) for your sake.
These letters being written, and sealed with my father’s great silver seal of the Barry arms, I went down to breakfast; where my mother was waiting for me, you may be sure. We did not say a single word about what was taking place: on the contrary, we talked of anything but that; about who was at church the day before, and about my wanting new clothes now I was grown so tall. She said I must have a suit against winter, if — if — she could afford it. She winced rather at the ‘if,’ Heaven bless her! I knew what was in her mind. And then she fell to telling me about the black pig that must be killed, and that she had found the speckled hen’s nest that morning, whose eggs I liked so, and other such trifling talk. Some of these eggs were for breakfast, and I ate them with a good appetite; but in helping myself to salt I spilled it, on which she started up with a scream. ‘THANK GOD,’ said she, ‘IT’S FALLEN TOWARDS ME.’ And then, her heart being too full, she left the room. Ah! they have their faults, those mothers; but are there any other women like them?
When she was gone I went to take down the sword with which my father had vanquished the Hampshire baronet, and, would you believe it? — the brave woman had tied A NEW RIBAND to the hilt: for indeed she had the courage of a lioness and a Brady united. And then I took down the pistols, which were always kept bright and well oiled, and put some fresh flints I had into the locks, and got balls and powder ready against the Captain should come. There was claret and a cold fowl put ready for him on the sideboard, and a case-bottle of old brandy too, with a couple of little glasses on the silver tray with the Barry arms emblazoned. In after life, and in the midst of my fortune and splendour, I paid thirty-five guineas, and almost as much more interest, to the London goldsmith who supplied my father with that very tray. A scoundrel pawnbroker would only give me sixteen for it afterwards; so little can we trust the honour of rascally tradesmen!
At eleven o’clock Captain Fagan arrived, on horseback, with a mounted dragoon after him. He paid his compliments to the collation which my mother’s care had provided for him, and then said, ‘Look ye, Redmond my boy; this is a silly business. The girl will marry Quin, mark my words; and as sure as she does you’ll forget her. You are but a boy. Quin is willing to consider you as such. Dublin’s a fine place, and if you have a mind to take a ride thither and see the town for a month, here are twenty guineas at your service. Make Quin an apology, and be off.’
‘A man of honour, Mr. Fagan,’ says I, ‘dies, but never apologises. I’ll see the Captain hanged before I apologise.’
‘Then there’s nothing for it but a meeting.’
‘My mare is saddled and ready,’ says I; ‘where’s the meeting, and who’s the Captain’s second?’
‘Your cousins go out with him,’ answered Mr. Fagan.
‘I’ll ring for my groom to bring my mare round,’ I said, ‘as soon as you have rested yourself.’ Tim was accordingly despatched for Nora, and I rode away, but I didn’t take leave of Mrs. Barry. The curtains of her bedroom windows were down, and they didn’t move as we mounted and trotted off . . . BUT TWO HOURS AFTERWARDS, you should have seen her as she came tottering downstairs, and heard the scream which she gave as she hugged her boy to her heart, quite unharmed and without a wound in his body.
What had taken place I may as well tell here. When we got to the ground, Ulick, Mick, and the Captain were already there: Quin, flaming in red regimentals, as big a monster as ever led a grenadier company. The party were laughing together at some joke of one or the other: and I must say I thought this laughter very unbecoming in my cousins, who were met, perhaps, to see the death of one of their kindred.
‘I hope to spoil this sport,’ says I to Captain Fagan, in a great rage, ‘and trust to see this sword of mine in yonder big bully’s body.’
‘Oh! it’s with pistols we fight,’ replied Mr. Fagan. ‘You are no match for Quin with the sword.’
‘I’ll match any man with the sword,’ said I.
‘But swords are today impossible; Captain Quin is — is lame. He knocked his knee against the swinging park-gate last night, as he was riding home, and can scarce move it now.’
‘Not against Castle Brady gate,’ says I: ‘that has been off the hinges these ten years.’ On which Fagan said it must have been some other gate, and repeated what he had said to Mr. Quin and my cousins, when, on alighting from our horses, we joined and saluted those gentlemen.
‘Oh yes! dead lame,’ said Ulick, coming to shake me by the hand, while Captain Quin took off his hat and turned extremely red. ‘And very lucky for you, Redmond my boy,’ continued Ulick; ‘you were a dead man else; for he is a devil of a fellow — isn’t he, Fagan?’
‘A regular Turk,’ answered Fagan; adding, ‘I never yet knew the man who stood to Captain Quin.’
‘Hang the business!’ said Ulick; ‘I hate it. I’m ashamed of it. Say you’re sorry, Redmond: you can easily say that.’
‘If the young FELLER will go to DUBLING, as proposed’— here interposed Mr. Quin.
‘I am NOT sorry — I’ll NOT apologise — and I’ll as soon go to DUBLING as to —!’ said I, with a stamp of my foot.
‘There’s nothing else for it,’ said Ulick with a laugh to Fagan. ‘Take your ground, Fagan — twelve paces, I suppose?’
‘Ten, sir,’ said Mr. Quin, in a big voice; ‘and make them short ones, do you hear, Captain Fagan?’
‘Don’t bully, Mr. Quin,’ said Ulick surlily; ‘here are the pistols.’ And he added, with some emotion, to me, ‘God bless you, my boy; and when I count three, fire.’
Mr. Fagan put my pistol into my hand — that is, not one of mine (which were to serve, if need were, for the next round), but one of Ulick’s. ‘They are all right,’ said he. ‘Never fear: and, Redmond, fire at his neck — hit him there under the gorget. See how the fool shows himself open.’ Mick, who had never spoken a word, Ulick, and the Captain retired to one side, and Ulick gave the signal. It was slowly given, and I had leisure to cover my man well. I saw him changing colour and trembling as the numbers were given. At ‘three,’ both our pistols went off. I heard something whizz by me, and my antagonist, giving a most horrible groan, staggered backwards and fell.
‘He’s down — he’s down!’ cried the seconds, running towards him. Ulick lifted him up — Mick took his head.
‘He’s hit here, in the neck,’ said Mick; and laying open his coat, blood was seen gurgling from under his gorget, at the very spot at which I aimed.
‘How is it with you?’ said Ulick. ‘Is he really hit?’ said he, looking hard at him. The unfortunate man did not answer, but when the support of Ulick’s arm was withdrawn from his back, groaned once more, and fell backwards.
‘The young fellow has begun well,’ said Mick, with a scowl. ‘You had better ride off, young sir, before the police are up. They had wind of the business before we left Kilwangan.’
‘Is he quite dead?’ said I.
‘Quite dead,’ answered Mick.
‘Then the world’s rid of A COWARD,’ said Captain Fagan, giving the huge prostrate body a scornful kick with his foot. ‘It’s all over with him, Reddy — he doesn’t stir.’
‘WE are not cowards, Fagan,’ said Ulick roughly, ‘whatever he was! Let’s get the boy off as quick as we may. Your man shall go for a cart, and take away the body of this unhappy gentleman. This has been a sad day’s work for our family, Redmond Barry: you have robbed us of 1500(pounds) a year.’
‘It was Nora did it,’ said I; ‘not I.’ And I took the riband she gave me out of my waistcoat, and the letter, and flung them down on the body of Captain Quin. ‘There!’ says I—‘take her those ribands. She’ll know what they mean: and that’s all that’s left to her of two lovers she had and ruined.’
I did not feel any horror or fear, young as I was, in seeing my enemy prostrate before me; for I knew that I had met and conquered him honourably in the field, as became a man of my name and blood.
‘And now, in Heaven’s name, get the youngster out of the way,’ said Mick.
Ulick said he would ride with me, and off accordingly we galloped, never drawing bridle till we came to my mother’s door. When there, Ulick told Tim to feed my mare, as I would have far to ride that day; and I was in the poor mother’s arms in a minute.
I need not tell how great were her pride and exultation when she heard from Ulick’s lips the account of my behaviour at the duel. He urged, however, that I should go into hiding for a short time; and it was agreed between them that I should drop my name of Barry, and, taking that of Redmond, go to Dublin, and there wait until matters were blown over. This arrangement was not come to without some discussion; for why should I not be as safe at Barryville, she said, as my cousin and Ulick at Castle Brady? — bailiffs and duns never got near THEM; why should constables be enabled to come upon me? But Ulick persisted in the necessity of my instant departure; in which argument, as I was anxious to see the world, I must confess, I sided with him; and my mother was brought to see that in our small house at Barryville, in the midst of the village, and with the guard but of a couple of servants, escape would be impossible. So the kind soul was forced to yield to my cousin’s entreaties, who promised her, however, that the affair would soon be arranged, and that I should be restored to her. Ah! how little did he know what fortune was in store for me!
My dear mother had some forebodings, I think, that our separation was to be a long one; for she told me that all night long she had been consulting the cards regarding my fate in the duel: and that all the signs betokened a separation; then, taking out a stocking from her escritoire, the kind soul put twenty guineas in a purse for me (she had herself but twenty-five), and made up a little valise, to be placed at the back of my mare, in which were my clothes, linen, and a silver dressing-case of my father’s. She bade me, too, to keep the sword and the pistols I had known to use so like a man. She hurried my departure now (though her heart, I know, was full), and almost in half-an-hour after my arrival at home I was once more on the road again, with the wide world as it were before me. I need not tell how Tim and the cook cried at my departure: and, mayhap, I had a tear or two myself in my eyes; but no lad of sixteen is VERY sad who has liberty for the first time, and twenty guineas in his pocket: and I rode away, thinking, I confess, not so much of the kind mother left alone, and of the home behind me, as of tomorrow, and all the wonders it would bring.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:13