It was noon before Barry first opened his eyes, and discovered the reality of the headache which the night’s miserable and solitary debauch had entailed on him. For, in spite of the oft-repeated assurance that there is not a headache in a hogshead of it, whiskey punch will sicken one, as well as more expensive and more fashionable potent drinks. Barry was very sick when he first awoke; and very miserable, too; for vague recollections of what he had done, and doubtful fears of what he might have done, crowded on him. A drunken man always feels more anxiety about what he has not done in his drunkenness, than about what he has; and so it was with Barry. He remembered having used rough language with his sister, but he could not remember how far he had gone. He remembered striking her, and he knew that the servant had come in; but he could not remember how, or with what he had struck her, or whether he had done so more than once, or whether she had been much hurt. He could not even think whether he had seen her since or not; he remembered being in the garden after she had fallen, and drinking again after that, but nothing further. Surely, he could not have killed her? he could not even have hurt her very much, or he would have heard of it before this. If anything serious had happened, the servants would have taken care that he should have heard enough about it ere now. Then he began to think what o’clock it could be, and that it must be late, for his watch was run down; the general fate of drunkards, who are doomed to utter ignorance of the hour at which they wake to the consciousness of their miserable disgrace. He feared to ring the bell for the servant; he was afraid to ask the particulars of last night’s work; so he turned on his pillow, and tried to sleep again. But in vain. If he closed his eyes, Anty was before them, and he was dreaming, half awake, that he was trying to stifle her, and that she was escaping, to tell all the world of his brutality and cruelty. This happened over and over again; for when he dozed but for a minute, the same thing re-occurred, as vividly as before, and made even his waking consciousness preferable to the visions of his disturbed slumbers. So, at last, he roused himself, and endeavoured to think what he should do.
Whilst he was sitting up in his bed, and reflecting that he must undress himself before he could dress himself for he had tumbled into bed with most of his clothes on Terry’s red head appeared at the door, showing an anxiety, on the part of its owner, to see if ‘the masther’ was awake, but to take no step to bring about such a state, if, luckily, he still slept.
‘What’s the time, Terry?’ said Lynch, frightened, by his own state, into rather more courtesy than he usually displayed to those dependent on him.
‘Well then, I b’lieve it’s past one, yer honer.’
‘The d l it is! I’ve such a headache. I was screwed last night; eh, Terry?’
‘I b’lieve yer war, yer honer.’
‘What o’clock was it when I went to bed?’
‘Well then, I don’t rightly know, Mr Barry; it wasn’t only about ten when I tuk in the last hot wather, and I didn’t see yer hotier afther that.’
‘Well; tell Miss Anty to make me a cup of tea, and do you bring it up here.’ This was a feeler. If anything was the matter with Anty, Terry would be sure to tell him now; but he only said, ‘Yis, yer honer,’ and retreated.
Barry now comforted himself with the reflection that there was no great harm done, and that though, certainly, there had been some row between him and Anty, it would probably blow over; and then, also, he began to reflect that, perhaps, what he had said and done, would frighten her out of her match with Kelly.
In the meantime. Terry went into the kitchen, with the news that ‘masther was awake, and axing for tay.’ Biddy had considered herself entitled to remain all the morning at the inn, having, in a manner, earned a right to be idle for that day, by her activity during the night; and the other girl had endeavoured to enjoy the same luxury, for she had been found once or twice during the morning, ensconced in the kitchen, under Sally’s wing; but Mrs Kelly had hunted her back, to go and wait on her master, giving her to understand that she would not receive the whole household.
‘And ye’re afther telling him where Miss Anty’s gone, Terry?’ inquired the injured fair one.
‘Divil a tell for me thin, shure, he may find it out hisself, widout my telling him
‘Faix, it’s he’ll be mad thin, when lie finds she’s taken up with the likes of the widdy Kelly!’
‘And ain’t she betther there, nor being murthered up here? FIe’d be killing her out and out some night.’
‘Well, but Terry, he’s not so bad as all that; there’s worse than him, and ain’t it rasonable he shouldn’t be quiet and asy, and she taking up with the likes of Martin Kelly?’
‘May be so; but wouldn’t she be a dale happier with Martin thaii up here wid him? Any ways it don’t do angering him, so, get him the tay, Judy.’
It was soon found that this was easier said than done, for Anty, in her confusion, had taken away the keys in her pocket. and there was no tea to be had.
The bell was now rung, and, as Barry had gradually re-assured himself, rung violently; and Terry, when he arrived distracted at the bed-room door, was angrily asked by his thirsty master why the tea didn’t appear? The truth was now obliged to come out, or at any rate, part of it: so Terry answered, that Miss Anty was out, and had the keys with her.
Miss Anty was so rarely out, that Barry instantly trembled again. Had she gone to a magistrate, to swear against him? Had she run away from him? Had she gone off with Martin?
‘Where the d l’s she gone, Terry?’ said he, in his extremity.
‘Faix, yer honour, thin, I’m not rightly knowing; but I hear tell she’s down at the widow Kelly’s.’
‘Who told you, you fool?’
‘Well thin, yer honer, it war Judy.’
‘And where’s Judy?’
And it ended in Judy’s being produced, and the two of them, at length, explained to their master, that the widow had come up early in the morning and fetched her away; and Judy swore ‘that not a know she knowed how it had come about, or what had induced the widow to come, or Miss Anty to go, or anything about it; only, for shure, Miss Anty was down there, snug enough, with Miss Jane and Miss Meg; and the widdy war in her tantrums, and wouldn’t let ony dacent person inside the house-door barring Biddy. And that wor all she knowed av’ she wor on the book.’
The secret was now out. Anty had left him, and put herself under the protection of Martin Kelly’s mother; had absolutely defied him, after all his threats of the preceding night. What should he do now! All his hatred for her returned again, all his anxious wishes that she might be somehow removed from his path, as an obnoxious stumbling-block. A few minutes ago, he was afraid he had murdered her, and he now almost wished that lie had done so. He finished dressing himself, and then sat down in the parlour, which had been the scene of his last night’s brutality, to concoct fresh schemes for the persecution of his sister.
In the meantime, Terry rushed down to the inn, demanding the keys, and giving Mrs Kelly a fearful history of his master’s anger. This she very wisely refrained from retailing, but, having procured the keys, gave them to the messenger, merely informing him, that ‘thanks to God’s kind protection, Miss Anty was tolerably well over the last night’s work, and he might tell his master so.’
This message Terry thought it wisest to suppress, so he took the breakfast up in silence, and his master asked no more questions. He was very sick and pale, and could eat nothing; but he drank a quantity of tea, and a couple of glasses of brandy-and-water, and then he felt better, and again began to think what measures he should take, what scheme he could concoct, for stopping this horrid marriage, and making his sister obedient to his wishes. ‘Confound her,’ he said, almost aloud, as he thought, with bitter vexation of spirit, of her unincumbered moiety of the property, ‘confound them all!’ grinding his teeth, and meaning by the ‘all’ to include with Anty his father, and every one who might have assisted his father in making the odious will, as well as his own attorney in Tuam, who wouldn’t find out some legal expedient by which he could set it aside. And then, as he thought of the shameful persecution of which he was the victim, lie kicked the fender with impotent violence, and, as the noise of the falling fire irons added to his passion, he reiterated his kicks till the unoffending piece of furniture was smashed; and then with manly indignation he turned away to the window.
But breaking the furniture, though it was what the widow predicted of him, wouldn’t in any way mend matters, or assist him in getting out of his difficulties. What was he to do? He couldn’t live on œ200 a-year; he couldn’t remain in Dunmore, to be known by every one as Martin Kelly’s brother-inlaw; he couldn’t endure the thoughts of dividing the property with such ‘a low-born huxtering blackguard’, as he called him over and over again. He couldn’t stay there, to be beaten by him in the course of legal proceedings, or to give him up amicable possession of what ought to have been what should have been his what he looked upon as his own. He came back, and sat down again over the fire, contemplating the debris of the fender, and turning all these miserable circumstances over in his mind. After remaining there till five o’clock, and having fortified himself with sundry glasses of wine, he formed his resolution. He would make one struggle more; he would first go down to the widow, and claim his sister, as a poor simple young woman, inveigled away from her natural guardian; and, if this were unsuccessful, as he felt pretty sure it would be, he would take proceedings to prove her a lunatic. If he failed, he might still delay, and finally put off the marriage; and he was sure he could get some attorney to put him in the way of doing it, and to undertake the work for him. His late father’s attorney had been a fool, in not breaking the will, or at any rate trying it, and he would go to Daly. Young Daly, he knew, was a sharp fellow, and wanted practice, and this would just suit him. And then, if at last he found that nothing could be done by this means, if his sister and the property must go from him, he would compromise the matter with the bridegroom, he would meet him half way, and, raising what money he could on his share of the estate, give leg bail to his creditors, and go to some place abroad, where tidings of Dunmore would never reach him. What did it matter what people said? he should never hear it. He would make over the whole property to Kelly, on getting a good life income out of it. Martin was a prudent fellow, and would jump at such a plan. As he thought of this, he even began to wish that it was done; he pictured to himself the easy pleasures, the card-tables, the billiard-rooms, and caf‚s of some Calais or Boulogne; pleasures which he had never known, but which had been so glowingly described to him; and he got almost cheerful again as he felt that, in any way, there might be bright days yet in store for him.
He would, however, still make the last effort for the whole stake. It would be time enough to give in, and make the best of a pis aller, when he was forced to do so. If beaten, he would make use of Martin Kelly; but he would first try if he couldn’t prove him to be a swindling adventurer, and his sister to be an idiot.
Much satisfied at having come to this salutary resolution, he took up his hat, and set out for the widow’s, in order to put into operation the first part of the scheme. He rather wished it over, as he knew that Mrs Kelly was no coward, and had a strong tongue in her head. However, it must be done, and the sooner the better. He first of all looked at himself in his glass, to see that his appearance was sufficiently haughty and indignant, and, as he flattered himself, like that of a gentleman singularly out of his element in such a village as Dunmore; and then, having ordered his dinner to be ready on his return, he proceeded on his voyage for the recovery of his dear sister.
Entering the shop, he communicated his wishes to Meg, in the manner before described; and, while she was gone on her errand, he remained alone there, lashing his boot, in the most approved, but, still, in a very common-place manner.
‘Oh, mother!’ said Meg, rushing into the room where her mother, and Jane, and Anty, were at dinner, ‘there’s Barry Lynch down in the shop, wanting you.’
‘Oh my!’ said Jane. ‘Now sit still, Anty dear, and he can’t come near you. Shure, he’ll niver be afther coming upstairs, will he, Meg?’
Anty, who had begun to feel quite happy in her new quarters, and among her kind friends, turned pale, and dropped her knife and fork. ‘What’Il I do, Mrs Kelly?’ she said, as she saw the old lady complacently get up. ‘You’re not going to give me up? You’ll not go to him?’
‘Faith I will thin, my dear,’ replied the widow; ‘never fear else I’ll go to him, or any one else that sends to me in a dacent manner. Maybe it’s wanting tay in the shop he is. I’ll go to him immediately. But, as for giving you up, I mane you to stay here, till you’ve a proper home of your own; and Barry Lynch has more in him than I think, av’ he makes me alter my mind. Set down quiet, Meg, and get your dinner.’ And the widow got up, and proceeded to the shop.
The girls were all in commotion. One went to the door at the top of the stairs, to overhear as much as possible of what was to take place; and the other clasped Anty’s hand, to re-assure her, having first thrown open the door of one of the bed-rooms, that she might have a place of retreat in the event of the enemy succeeding in pushing his way upstairs.
‘Your humble sarvant, Mr Lynch,’ said the widow, entering the shop and immediately taking up a position of strength in her accustomed place behind the counter. ‘Were you wanting me, this evening?’ and she took up the knife with which she cut penn’orths of tobacco for her customers, and hitting the counter with its wooden handle looked as hard as copper, and as bold as brass.
‘Yes, Mrs Kelly,’ said Barry, with as much dignity as he could muster, ‘I do want to speak to you. My sister has foolishly left her home this morning, and my servants tell me she is under your roof. Is this true?’
‘Is it Anty? Indeed she is thin: ating her dinner, upstairs, this very moment;’ and she rapped the counter again, and looked her foe in the face.
‘Then, with your leave, Mrs Kelly, I’ll step up, and speak to her. I suppose she’s alone?’
‘Indeed she ain’t thin, for she’s the two girls ating wid her, and myself too, barring that I’m just come down at your bidding. No; we’re not so bad as that, to lave her all alone; and as for your seeing her, Mr Lynch, I don’t think she’s exactly wishing it at present; so, av’ you’ve a message, I’ll take it.’
‘You don’t mean to say that Miss Lynch my sister is in this inn, and that you intend to prevent my seeing her? You’d better take care what you’re doing, Mrs Kelly. I don’t want to say anything harsh at present, but you’d better take care what you’re about with me and my family, or you’ll find yourself in a scrape that you little bargain for.’
‘I’ll take care of myself, Mr Barry; never fear for me, darling; and, what’s more, I’ll take care of your sister, too. And, to give you a bit of my mind she’ll want my care, I’m thinking, while you’re in the counthry.’
‘I’ve not come here to listen to impertinence, Mrs Kelly, and I will not do so. In fact, it is very unwillingly that I came into this house at all.’
‘Oh, pray lave it thin, pray lave it! We can do without you.’
‘Perhaps you will have the civility to listen to me. It is very unwillingly, I say, that I have come here at all; but my sister, who is, unfortunately, not able to judge for herself, is here. How she came here I don’t pretend to say ’
‘Oh, she walked,’ said the widow, interrupting him; ‘she walked, quiet and asy, out of your door, and into mine. But that’s a lie, for it was out of her own. She didn’t come through the kay-hole, nor yet out of the window.’
‘I’m saying nothing about how she came here, but here she is, poor creature!’
‘Poor crature, indeed! She was like to be a poor crature, av’ she stayed up there much longer.’
‘Here she is, I say, and I consider it my duty to look after her. You cannot but be aware, Mrs Kelly, that this is not a fit place for Miss Lynch. You must be aware that a road-side public-house, however decent, or a village shop, however respectable, is not the proper place for my sister; and, though I may not yet be legally her guardian, I am her brother, and am in charge of her property, and I insist on seeing her. It will be at your peril if you prevent me.’
‘Have you done, now, Misther Barry?’
‘That’s what I’ve got to say; and I think you’ve sense enough to see the folly not to speak of the danger, of preventing me from seeing my sister.’
‘That’s your say, Misther Lynch; and now, listen to mine. Av’ Miss Anty was wishing to see you, you’d be welcome upstairs, for her sake; but she ain’t, so there’s an end of that; for not a foot will you put inside this, unless you’re intending to force your way, and I don’t think you’ll be for trying that. And as to bearing the danger, why, I’ll do my best; and, for all the harm you’re likely to do me that’s by fair manes, I don’t think I’ll be axing any one to help me out of it. So, good bye t’ ye, av’ you’ve no further commands, for I didn’t yet well finish the bit I was ating.’
‘And you mean to say, Mrs Kelly, you’ll take upon yourself to prevent my seeing my sister?’
‘Indeed I do; unless she was wishing it, as well as yourself; and no mistake.’
‘And you’ll do that, knowing, as you do, that the unfortunate young woman is of weak mind, and unable to judge for herself, and that I’m her brother, and her only living relative and guardian?’
‘All blathershin, Masther Barry,’ said the uncourteous widow, dropping the knife from her hand, and smacking her fingers: ‘as for wake mind, it’s sthrong enough to take good care of herself and her money too, now she’s once out of Dunmore House. There many waker than Anty Lynch, though few have had worse tratement to make them so. As for guardian, I’m thinking it’s long since she was of age, and, av’ her father didn’t think she wanted one, when he made his will, you needn’t bother yourself about it, now she’s no one to plaze only herself. And as for brother, Masther Barry, why didn’t you think of that before you struck her, like a brute, as you are before you got dhrunk, like a baste, and then threatened to murdher her? Why didn’t you think about brother and sisther before you thried to rob the poor wake crature, as you call her; and when you found she wasn’t quite wake enough, as you call it, swore to have her life, av’ she wouldn’t act at your bidding? That’s being a brother and a guardian, is it,Masther Barry? Talk to me of anger, you ruffian,’ continued the widow, with her back now thoroughly up; ‘you’d betther look to yourself, or I know who’ll be in most danger. Av’ it wasn’t the throuble it’d be to Anty and, God knows, she’s had throubles enough, I’d have had her before the magisthrates before this, to tell of what was done last night up at the house, yonder. But mind, she can do it yet, and, av’ you don’t take yourself very asy, she shall. Danger, indeed! a robber and ruffian like you, to talk of danger to me and his dear sisther, too, and aftimer trying his best, last night, to murdher her!’
These last words, with a long drawl on the word dear, were addressed rather to the crowd, whom the widow’s loud voice had attracted into the open shop, than to Barry, who stood, during this tirade, half stupefied with rage, and half frightened, at the open attack made on him with reference to his ill-treatment of Anty. However, he couldn’t pull in his horns now, and he was obliged, in self-defence, to brazen it out.
‘Very well, Mrs Kelly you shall pay for this impudence, and that dearly. You’ve invented these lies, as a pretext for getting my sister and her property into your hands!’
‘Lies!’ screamed the widow; ‘av’ you say lies to me agin, in this house, I’ll smash the bones of ye myself, with the broom-handle. Lies, indeed! and from you, Barry Lynch, the biggest liar in all Connaught not to talk of robber and ruffian! You’d betther take yourself out of that, fair and asy, while you’re let. You’ll find you’ll have the worst of it, av’ you come rampaging here wid me, my man;’ and she turned round to the listening crowd for sympathy, which those who dared were not slow in giving her.
‘And that’s thrue for you, Mrs Kelly, Ma’am,’ exclaimed one.
‘It’s a shame for him to come storming here, agin a lone widdy, so it is,’ said a virago, who seemed well able, like the widow herself, to take her own part.
‘Who iver knew any good of a Lynch barring Miss Anty herself?’ argued a third.
‘The Kellys is always too good for the likes of them,’ put in a fourth, presuming that the intended marriage was the subject immediately in discourse.
‘Faix, Mr Martin’s too good for the best of ’em,’ declared another.
‘Niver mind Mr Martin, boys,’ said the widow, who wasn’t well pleased to have her son’s name mentioned in the affair ‘it’s no business of his, one way or another; he ain’t in Dunmore, nor yet nigh it. Miss Anty Lynch has come to me for protection; and, by the Blessed Virgin, she shall have it, as long as my name’s Mary Kelly, and I ain’t like to change it; so that’s the long and short of it, Barry Lynch. So you may go and get dhrunk agin as soon as you plaze, and bate and bang Terry Hooney, or Judy Smith; only I think either on ’em’s more than a match for you.’
‘Then I tell you, Mrs Kelly,’ replied Barry, who was hardly able to get in a word, ‘that you’ll hear more about it. Steps are now being taken to prove Miss Lynch a lunatic, as every one here knows she unfortunately is; and, as sure as you stand there, you’ll have to answer for detaining her; and you’re much mistaken if you think you’ll get hold of her property, even though she were to marry your son, for, I warn you, she’s not her own mistress, or able to be so.’
‘Drat your impudence, you low-born ruffian,’ answered his opponent; ‘who cares for her money? It’s not come to that yet, that a Kelly is wanting to schame money out of a Lynch.’
‘I’ve nothing more to say, since you insist on keeping possession of my sister,’ and Barry turned to the door. ‘But you’ll be indicted for conspiracy, so you’d better be prepared.’
‘Conspiracy, is it?’ said one of Mrs Kelly’s admirers; ‘maybe, Ma’am, he’ll get you put in along with Dan and Father Tierney, God bless them! It’s conspiracy they’re afore the judges for.’
Barry now took himself off, before hearing the last of the widow’s final peal of thunder.
‘Get out wid you! You’re no good, and never will be. An’ it wasn’t for the young woman upstairs, I’d have the coat off your back, and your face well mauled, before I let you out of the shop!’ And so ended the interview, in which the anxious brother can hardly he said to have been triumphant, or successful.
The widow, on the other hand, seemed to feel that she had acquitted herself well, and that she had taken the orphan’s part, like a woman, a Christian, and a mother; anti merely saying, with a kind of inward chuckle, ‘Come to me, indeed, with his roguery! he’s got the wrong pig by the ear!’ she walked off, to join the more timid trio upstairs, one of whom was speedily sent down, to see that business did not go astray.
And then she gave a long account of the interview to Anty and Meg, which was hardly necessary, as they had heard most of what had passed. The widow however was not to know that, and she was very voluble in her description of Barry’s insolence, and of time dreadfully abusive things he had said to her how he had given her the lie, and called her out of her name. She did not, however, seem to be aware that she had, herself, said a word which was more than necessarily violent; and assured Anty over and over again, that, out of respect to her feelings, and because the man was, after all, her brother, she had refrained from doing and saying what she would have done and said, had she been treated in such a manner by anybody else. She seemed, however, in spite of the ill-treatment which she had undergone, to be in a serene and happy state of mind. She shook Anty’s two hands in hers, and told her to make herself ‘snug and asy where she was, like a dear girl, and to fret for nothing, for no one could hurt or harum her, and she undher Mary Kelly’s roof.’ Then she wiped her face in her apron, set to at her dinner; and even went so far as to drink a glass of porter, a thing she hadn’t done, except on a Sunday, since her eldest daughter’s marriage.
Barry Lynch sneaked up the town, like a beaten dog. He felt that the widow had had the best of it, and he also felt that every one in Dunmore was against him. It was however only what he had expected, and calculated upon; and what should he care for the Dunmore people? They wouldn’t rise up and kill him, nor would they he likely even to injure him. Let, them hate on, lie would follow his own plan. As he came near the house gate, there was sitting, as usual, Jacky, the fool.
‘Well, yer honer, Masther Barry,’ said Jacky, ‘don’t forget your poor fool this blessed morning!’
‘Away with you! If I see you there again, I’ll have you in Bridewell, you blackguard.’
‘Ah, you’re joking, Masther Barry. You wouldn’t like to be afther doing that. So yer honer’s been down to the widdy’s? That’s well; it’s a fine timing to see you on good terms, since you’re soon like to be so sib. Well, there an’t no betther fellow, from this to Galway, than Martin Kelly, that’s one comfort, Masther Barry.’
Barry looked round for something wherewith to avenge himself for this, but Jacky was out of his reach; so he merely muttered some customary but inaudible curses, and turned into the house.
He immediately took pen, ink, and paper, and, writing the following note dispatched it to Tuam, by Terry, mounted for the occasion, and directed on no account to return, without an answer. If Mr Daly wasn’t at home, he was to wait for his return; that is, if he was expected home that night.
Dunmore House, Feb. 1844.
My dear Sir,
I wish to consult you on legal business, which will bear no delay. The subject is of considerable importance, and I am induced to think it will be more ably handled by you than by Mr Blake, my father’s man of business. There is a bed at your service at Dunmore House, and I shall be glad to see you to dinner tomorrow.
I am, dear Sir, Your faithful servant,
P.S. You had better not mention in Tuam that you are coming to me not that my business is one that I intend to keep secret.
J.Daly, Esq., Solicitor, Tuam.
In about two hours’ time, Terry had put the above into the hands of the person for whom it was intended, and in two more he had brought back an answer, saying that Mr Daly would be at Dunmore House to dinner on the following day. And Terry, on his journey there and back, did not forget to tell everyone he saw, from whom he came, and to whom he was going.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14