The great news was not long before it reached the ears of one not disposed to receive the information with much satisfaction, and this was Barry Lynch, the proposed bride’s amiable brother. The medium through which he first heard it was not one likely to add to his good humour. Jacky, the fool, had for many years been attached to the Kelly’s Court family; that is to say, he had attached himself to it, by getting his food in the kitchen, and calling himself the lord’s fool. But, latterly, he had quarrelled with Kelly’s Court, and had insisted on being Sim Lynch’s fool, much to the chagrin of that old man; and, since his death, he had nearly maddened Barry by following him through the street, and being continually found at the house-door when he went out. Jack’s attendance was certainly dictated by affection rather than any mercenary views, for he never got a scrap out of the Dunmore House kitchen, or a halfpenny from his new patron. But still, he was Barry’s fool; and, like other fools, a desperate annoyance to his master.
On the day in question, as young Mr. Lynch was riding out of the gate, about three in the afternoon, there, as usual, was Jack.
‘Now yer honour, Mr. Barry, darling, shure you won’t forget Jacky today. You’ll not forget your own fool, Mr. Barry?’
Barry did not condescend to answer this customary appeal, but only looked at the poor ragged fellow as though he’d like to flog the life out of him.
‘Shure your honour, Mr. Barry, isn’t this the time then to open yer honour’s hand, when Miss Anty, God bless her, is afther making sich a great match for the family? Glory be to God!’
‘What d’ye mean, you ruffian?’
‘Isn’t the Kellys great people intirely, Mr. Barry? and won’t it be a great thing for Miss Anty, to be sib to a lord? Shure yer honour’d not be refusing me this blessed day.’
‘What the d —— are you saying about Miss Lynch?’ said Barry, his attention somewhat arrested by the mention of his sister’s name.
‘Isn’t she going to be married then, to the dacentest fellow in Dunmore? Martin Kelly, God bless him! Ah! there’ll be fine times at Dunmore, then. He’s not the boy to rattle a poor divil out of the kitchen into the cold winther night! The Kellys was always the right sort for the poor.’
Barry was frightened in earnest, now. It struck him at once that Jack couldn’t have made the story out of his own head; and the idea that there was any truth in it, nearly knocked him off his horse. He rode on, however, trying to appear to be regardless of what had been said to him; and, as he trotted off, he heard the fool’s parting salutation.
‘And will yer honour be forgething me afther the news I’ve brought yer? Well, hard as ye are, Misther Barry, I’ve hot yer now, any way.’
And, in truth, Jack had hit him hard. Of all things that could happen to him, this would be about the worst. He had often thought, with dread, of his sister’s marrying, and of his thus being forced to divide everything all his spoil, with some confounded stranger. But for her to marry a shopkeeper’s son, in the very village in which he lived, was more than he could bear. He could never hold up his head in the county again. And then, he thought of his debts, and tried to calculate whether he might get over to France without paying them, and be able to carry his share of the property with him; and so he went on, pursuing his wretched, uneasy, solitary ride, sometimes sauntering along at a snail’s pace, and then again spurring the poor brute, and endeavouring to bring his mind to some settled plan. But, whenever he did so, the idea of his sister’s death was the only one which seemed to present either comfort or happiness.
He made up his mind, at last, to put a bold face on the matter; to find out from Anty herself whether there was any truth in the story; and, if there should be for he felt confident she would not be able to deceive him to frighten her and the whole party of the Kellys out of what he considered a damnable conspiracy to rob him of his father’s property,
He got off his horse, and stalked into the house. On inquiry, he found that Anty was in her own room. He was sorry she was not out; for, to tell the truth, he was rather anxious to put off the meeting, as he did not feel himself quite up to the mark, and was ashamed of seeming afraid of her. He went into the stable, and abused the groom; into the kitchen, and swore at the maid; and then into the garden. It was a nasty, cold, February day, and he walked up and down the damp muddy walks till he was too tired and cold to walk longer, and then turned into the parlour, and remained with his back to the fire, till the man came in to lay the cloth, thinking on the one subject that occupied all his mind occasionally grinding his teeth, and heaping curses on his father and sister, who, together, had inflicted such grievous, such unexpected injuries upon him.
If, at this moment, there was a soul in all Ireland over whom Satan had full dominion if there was a breast unoccupied by one good thought if there was a heart wishing, a brain conceiving, and organs ready to execute all that was evil, from the worst motives, they were to he found in that miserable creature, as he stood there urging himself on to hate those whom he should have loved cursing those who were nearest to him fearing her, whom he had ill-treated all his life and striving to pluck up courage to take such measures as might entirely quell her. Money was to him the only source of gratification. He had looked forward, when a boy, to his manhood, as a period when he might indulge, unrestrained, in pleasures which money would buy; and, when a man, to his father’s death, as a time when those means would be at his full command. He had neither ambition, nor affection, in his nature; his father had taught him nothing but the excellence of money, and, having fully imbued him with this, had cut him off from the use of it.
He was glad when he found that dinner was at hand, and that he could not now see his sister until after he had fortified himself with drink. Anty rarely, if ever, dined with him; so he sat down, and swallowed his solitary meal. He did not eat much, but he gulped down three or four glasses of wine; and, immediately on having done so, he desired the servant, with a curse, to bring him hot water and sugar, and not to keep him waiting all night for a tumbler of punch, as he did usually. Before the man had got into the kitchen, he rang the bell again; and when the servant returned breathless, with the steaming jug, he threatened to turn him out of the house at once, if he was not quicker in obeying the orders given him. He then made a tumbler of punch, filling the glass half full of spirits, and drinking it so hot as to scald his throat; and when that was done he again rang the bell, and desired the servant to tell Miss Anty that he wanted to speak to her. When the door was shut, he mixed more drink, to support his courage during the interview, and made up his mind that nothing should daunt him from preventing the marriage, in one way or another. When Anty opened the door, he was again standing with his back to the fire, his hands in his pockets, the flaps of his coat hanging over his arms, his shoulders against the mantel-piece, and his foot on the chair on which he had been sitting. His face was red, and his eyes were somewhat blood-shot; he had always a surly look, though, from his black hair, and large bushy whiskers, many people would have called him good looking; but now there was a scowl in his restless eyes, which frightened Anty when she saw it; and the thick drops of perspiration on his forehead did not add benignity to his face.
‘Were you wanting me, Barry?’ said Anty, who was the first to speak.
‘What do you stand there for, with the door open?’ replied her brother, ‘d’ you think I want the servants to hear what I’ve got to say?’
‘‘Deed I don’t know,’ said Anty, shutting the door; ‘but they’ll hear just as well now av’ they wish, for they’ll come to the kay-hole.’
‘Will they, by G—!’ said Barry, and he rushed to the door, which he banged open; finding no victim outside on whom to exercise his wrath ‘let me catch ’em!’ and he returned to his position by the fire.
Anty had sat down on a sofa that stood by the wall opposite the fireplace, and Barry remained for a minute, thinking how he’d open the campaign. At last he began:
‘Anty, look you here, now. What scheme have you got in your head? You’d better let me know, at once.’
‘What schame, Barry?’
‘Well what schame, if you like that better.’
‘I’ve no schame in my head, that I know of at laist —’ and then Anty blushed. It would evidently be easy enough to make the poor girl tell her own secret.
‘Well, go on at laist ’
‘I don’t know what you mane, Barry. Av’ you’re going to be badgering me again, I’ll go away.’
‘It’s evident you’re going to do something you’re ashamed of, when you’re afraid to sit still, and answer a common question. But you must answer me. I’m your brother, and have a right to know. What’s this you’re going to do?’ He didn’t like to ask her at once whether she was going to get married. It might not be true, and then he would only be putting the idea into her head. ‘Well why don’t you answer me? What is it you’re going to do?’
‘Is it about the property you mane, Barry?’
‘What a d d hypocrite you are! As if you didn’t know what I mean! As for the property, I tell you there’ll be little left the way you’re going on. And as to that, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do; so, mind, I warn you beforehand. You’re not able that is, you’re too foolish and weak-headed to manage it yourself; and I mean, as your guardian, to put it into the hands of those that shall manage it for you. I’m not going to see you robbed and duped, and myself destroyed by such fellows as Moylan, and a crew of huxtering blackguards down in Dunmore. And now, tell me at once, what’s this I hear about you and the Kellys?’
‘What Kellys?’ said Anty, blushing deeply, and half beside herself with fear for Barry’s face was very red, and full of fierce anger, and his rough words frightened her.
‘What Kellys! Did you ever hear of Martin Kelly? d d young robber that he is!’ Anty blushed still deeper rose a little way from the sofa, and then sat down again. ‘Look you here, Anty I’ll have the truth out of you. I’m not going to be bamboozled by such an idiot as you. You got an old man, when he was dying, to make a will that has robbed me of what was my own, and now you think you’ll play your own low game; but you’re mistaken! You’ve lived long enough without a husband to do without one now; and I can tell you I’m not going to see my property carried off by such a low, paltry blackguard as Martin Kelly.’
‘How can he take your property, Barry?’ sobbed forth the poor creature, who was, by this time, far gone in tears.
‘Then the long and the short of it is, he shan’t have what you call yours. Tell me, at once, will you is it true, that you’ve promised to marry him?’
Anty replied nothing, but continued sobbing violently.
‘Cease your nonsense, you blubbering fool! A precious creature you are to take on yourself to marry any man! Are you going to answer me, Anty?’ And he walked away from the fire, and came and stood opposite to her as she sat upon the sofa. ‘Are you going to answer me or not?’ he continued, stamping on the floor.
‘I’ll not stop here and be trated this way Barry I’m sure I do all I I can for you and you’re always bullying me because father divided the property.’ And Anty continued sobbing more violently than ever. ‘I won’t stop in the room any more,’ and she got up to go to the door.
Barry, however, rushed before her, and prevented her. He turned the lock, and put the key in his pocket; and then he caught her arm, as she attempted to get to the bell, and dragged her back to the sofa.
‘You’re not off so easy as that, I can tell you. Why, d’ you think you’re to marry whom you please, without even telling me of it? What d’you think the world would say of me, if I were to let such an idiot as you be caught up by the first sharper that tried to rob you of your money? Now, look here,’ and he sat down beside her, and laid his hand violently on her arm, as he spoke, ‘you don’t go out of this room, alive, until you’ve given me your solemn promise, and sworn on the cross, that you’ll never marry without my consent; and you’ll give me that in writing, too.’
Anty at first turned very pale when she felt his heavy hand on her arm, and saw his red, glaring eyes so near her own. But when he said she shouldn’t leave the room alive, she jumped from the sofa, and shrieked, at the top of her shrill voice ‘Oh, Barry! you’ll not murdher me! shure you wouldn’t murdher your own sisther!’
Barry was rather frightened at the noise, and, moreover, the word ‘murder’ quelled him. But when he found, after a moment’s pause, that the servants had not heard, or had not heeded his sister, he determined to carry on his game, now that he tad proceeded so far. He took, however, a long drink out of his tumbler, to give him fresh courage, and then returned to the charge.
‘Who talked of murdering you? But, if you bellow in that way, I’ll gag you. It’s a great deal I’m asking, indeed that, when I’m your only guardian, my advice should be asked for before you throw away your money on a low ruffian. You’re more fit for a mad-house than to be any man’s wife; and, by Heaven, that’s where I’ll put you, if you don’t give me the promise I ask! Will you swear you’ll marry no one without my leave?’
Poor Anty shook with fear as she sate, with her eyes fixed on her brother’s face. He was nearly drunk now, and she felt that he was so and he looked so hot and so fierce so red and cruel, that she was all but paralysed. Nevertheless, she mustered strength to say,
‘Let me go, now, Barry, and, tomorrow, I’ll tell you everything indeed I will and I’ll thry to do all you’d have me; indeed,’ and indeed, I will! Only do let me go now, for you’ve frighted me.’
‘You’re likely to be more frighted yet, as you call it! And be tramping along the roads, I suppose, with Martin Kelly, before the morning. No! I’ll have an answer from you, any way. I’ve a right to that!’
‘Oh, Barry! What is it you want? Pray let me go pray, pray, for the love of the blessed Jesus, let me go.’
‘I’ll tell you where you’ll go, and that’s into Ballinasloe mad-house! Now, mark me so help me I’ll set off with you this night, and have you there in the morning as an idiot as you are, if you won’t make the promise I’m telling you!’
By this time Anty’s presence of mind had clean left her. Indeed, all the faculties of her reason had vanished; and, as she saw her brother’s scowling face so near her own, and heard him threatening to drag her to a mad-house, she put her hands before her eyes, and made one rush to escape from him to the door to the window anywhere to get out of his reach.
Barry was quite drunk now. Had he not been so, even he would hardly have done what he then did. As she endeavoured to rush by him, he raised his fist, and struck her on the face, with all his force. The blow fell upon her hands, as they were crossed over her face; but the force of the blow knocked her down, and she fell upon the floor, senseless, striking the back of her head against the table.
‘Confound her,’ muttered the brute, between his teeth, as she fell, ‘for an obstinate, pig-headed fool! What the d l shall I do now? Anty, get up! get up, will you! What ails you?’ and then again to himself, ‘the d l seize her! What am I to do now?’ and he succeeded in dragging her on to the sofa.
The man-servant and the cook although up to this point, they had considered it would be ill manners to interrupt the brother and sister in their family interview, were nevertheless at the door; and though they could see nothing, and did not succeed in hearing much, were not the less fully aware that the conversation was of a somewhat stormy nature on the part of the brother. When they heard the noise which followed the blow, though not exactly knowing what had happened, they became frightened, and began to think something terrible was being done.
‘Go in, Terry, avich,’ whispered the woman ‘Knock, man, and go in shure he’s murdhering her!’
‘What ‘ud he do to me thin, av’ he’d strick a woman, and she his own flesh and blood! He’ll not murdher her but, faix, he’s afther doing something now! Knock, Biddy, knock, I say, and screech out that you’re afther wanting Miss Anty.’
The woman had more courage than the man or else more compassion, for, without further parleying, she rapped her knuckles loudly against the door, and, as she did so, Terry sneaked away to the kitchen.
Barry had just succeeded in raising his sister to the sofa as he heard the knock.
‘Who’s that?’ he called out loudly; ‘what do you want?’
‘Plaze yer honer, Miss Anty’s wanting in the kitchen.’
‘She’s busy, and can’t come at present; she’ll be there directly.’
‘Is she ill at all, Mr. Barry? God bless you, spake, Miss Anty; in God’s name, spake thin. Ah! Mr. Barry, thin, shure she’d spake av’ she were able.’
‘Go away, you fool! Your mistress’ll be out in a minute.’ Then, after a moment’s consideration, he went and unlocked the door, ‘or go in, and see what she wants. She’s fainted, I think.’
Barry Lynch walked out of the room, and into the garden before the house, to think over what he had done, and what he’d better do for the future, leaving Anty to the care of the frightened woman.
She soon came to herself, and, excepting that her head was bruised in the fall, was not much hurt. The blow, falling on her hands, had neither cut nor marked her; but she was for a long time so flurried that she did not know where she was, and, in answer to all Biddy’s tender inquiries as to the cause of her fall, and anathemas as to the master’s bad temper, merely said that ‘she’d get to bed, for her head ached so, she didn’t know where she was.’
To bed accordingly she went; and glad she was to have escaped alive from that drunken face, which had glared on her for the last half hour.
After wandering about round the house and through the grounds, for above an hour, Barry returned, half sobered, to the room; but, in his present state of mind, he could not go to bed sober. He ordered more hot water, and again sat down alone to drink, and drown the remorse he was beginning to feel for what he had done or rather, not remorse, but the feeling of fear that every one would know how he had treated Anty, and that they would side with her against him. Whichever way he looked, all was misery and disappointment to him, and his only hope, for the present, was in drink. There he sat, for a long time, with his eyes fixed on the turf, till it was all burnt out, trying to get fresh courage from the spirits he swallowed, and swearing to himself that he would not be beat by a woman.
About one o’clock he seized one of the candles, and staggered up to bed. As he passed his sister’s door, he opened it and went in. She was fast asleep; her shoes were off, and the bed-clothes were thrown over her, but she was not undressed. He slowly shut the door, and stood, for some moments, looking at her; then, walking to the bed, he took her shoulder, and shook it as gently as his drunkenness would let him. This did not wake her, so he put the candle down on the table, close beside the bed, and, steadying himself against the bedstead, he shook her again and again. ‘Anty’, he whispered, ‘Anty’; and, at last, she opened her eyes. Directly she saw his face, she closed them again, and buried her own in the clothes; however, he saw that she was awake, and, bending his head, he muttered, loud enough for her to hear, but in a thick, harsh, hurried, drunken voice, ‘Anty d’ye hear? If you marry that man, I’ll have your life!’ and then, leaving the candle behind him, he staggered off into his own room in the dark.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14