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O'Grady's surprise was little inferior to my own, as I introduced General Hinton and Father Loftus. But as to Mr. Rooney, he actually believed the whole to be a dream; and even when candles were brought, and he had taken a patient survey of the priest, he was far from crediting that my parent was not performed by deputy, till my father's tact and manner convinced him of his mistake.
While the priest was recounting some circ.u.mstances of his journey, I took occasion to tell my father of O'Grady's intentions regarding Julia, which with all the warmth of his nature he at once responded to; and touching his gla.s.s gaily with Phil's, merely added, 'With my best wishes.' Poor O'Grady caught up the meaning at once, and grasped his hand with enthusiasm, while the tears started to his eyes.
It would lead me too far, and perhaps where the goodnature of my reader might not follow me, were I to speak more of that happy evening. It is enough to say that Father Loftus won every moment on my father, who also was delighted with the hearty racinees of honest Paul. Their stores of pleasantry and fun, so new to him, were poured forth with profusion; and a party every member of which was more disposed to like one another and be pleased, never met together.
I myself, however, was not without my feeling of impatience to reach the drawing-room, which I took the first favourable opportunity of effecting--only then perceiving that O'Grady had antic.i.p.ated me, having stolen away some time before.
CHAPTER LXII. CONCLUSION
It would be even more wearisome to my reader than the fact was worrying to myself, were I to recount the steps by which my father communicated to Lady Charlotte the intended marriages, and finally obtained her consent to both. Fortunately, for some time previous she had been getting tired of Paris, and was soon brought to suppose that these little family arrangements were as much 'got up' to afford her an agreeable surprise and a healthful stimulant to her weak nerves as for any other cause whatever.'
With Mrs. Rooney, on the other hand, there was considerable difficulty.
The holy alliance she had contracted with the sovereigns had suggested so much of grandeur to her expectations that she dreamed of nothing but archdukes and counts of the empire, and was at first quite inexorable at the bare idea of the _mesalliance_ that awaited her ward. A chance decided what resisted every species of argument. Corny Delany, who had been sent with a note to Mr. Rooney, happened to be waiting in the hall while Mrs. Rooney pa.s.sed out to her carriage escorted by the 'Tartar'
of whom we have already made mention. Mrs. Rooney was communicating her orders to her bearded attendant by a code of signals on her fingers, when Corny, who watched the proceeding with increasing impatience, exclaimed--
'Arrah, can't you tell the man what you want? Sure, though you have him dressed like a wild baste, he doesn't forget English.'
It is a Tartar!' said Mrs. Rooney, with a contemptuous sneer at Corny and a forbidding wave of her hand ordaining silence.
'A Tarther! Oh, blessed Timothy! there's a name for one that comes of dacent people! He's a county Oarlow man, and well known he is in the same parts. Many a writ he served--eh, Tim?'
'Tim!' said Mrs. Rooney, in horror, as she beheld her wild-looking friend grin from ear to ear, with a most fearful significance of what he heard.
'It wasn't my fault, ma'am, at all,' said the Tartar, with a very Dublin accent in the words; 'it was the master made me.'
What further explanation Tim might have afforded it is difficult to say, for Mrs. Rooney's nerves had received too severe and too sudden a shock.
A horrible fear lest all the kingly and royal personages by whom she had been for some weeks surrounded might only turn out to be Garlow men, or something as unsubstantial, beset her; a dreadful unbelief of everything and everybody seized upon her, and quite overcome, she fainted. O'Grady, who happened to come up at the instant, learned the whole secret at once, and with his wonted readiness resolved to profit by it. Mrs. Paul returned to the drawing-room, and ere half an hour was fully persuaded that as General Hinton was about to depart for Ireland as Commander of the Forces, the alliance was on the whole not so deplorable as she had feared.
To reconcile so many conflicting interests, to conciliate so many totally opposite characters, was a work I should completely have failed in without O'Grady's a.s.sistance. He, however, entered upon it _con amore_; and under his auspices, not only did Lady Charlotte receive the visits of Father Tom Loftus, but Mr. Paul became actually a favourite with my cousin Julia; and, finally, the grand catastrophe of the drama was accomplished, and my lady-mother proceeded in all state to wait on Mrs. Rooney herself, who, whatever her previous pretensions, was so awed by the condescension of her ladyship's manner that she actually struck her colours at the first broadside.
Weddings are stupid things in reality, but on paper they are detestable.
Not even the _Morning Post_ can give them a touch of interest. I shall not, then, trouble my reader with any narrative of white satin and orange-flowers, bouquets, breakfasts, and Bishop Lus...o...b..; neither shall I entertain him with the article in the French _Feuilleton_ as to which of the two brides was the more strictly beautiful, and which more lovely.
Having introduced my reader to certain acquaintances--some of them rather equivocal ones, I confess--I ought perhaps to add a word of their future fortunes.
Mr. Ulick Burke escaped to America, where, by the exercise of his abilities and natural sharpness, he acc.u.mulated a large fortune, and distinguished by his anti-English prejudices, became a leading member of Congress.
Of Lord Dudley de Vere I only know that he has lived long enough, if not to benefit by experience, to take advantage of Lord Brougham's change in the law of imprisonment for debt. I saw his name in a late number of the _Times_, with a debt of some fifteen thousand annexed to it, against which his available property was eleven pounds odd shillings.
Father Loftus sleeps in Murranakilty. No stone marks his resting-place; but not a peasant's foot, for many a mile round, has not pressed the little pathway that leads to his grave, to offer up a prayer for a good man and a friend to the poor.
Tipperary Joe is still to be met on the Kilkenny road. His old red coat, now nearly russet colour, is torn and ragged; the top-boots have given place to bare legs, as well tanned as their predecessors; but his merry voice and cheerful 'Tally-ho!' are still as rich as of yore, and his heart, poor fellow! as light as ever it was.
Corny Delany is the amiable proprietor of a hotel in the neighbourhood of Castlebar, where his habitual courtesy and amenity are as conspicuous as of yore. He has requested me to take this opportunity of recommending his establishment to the 'Haythins and Turks' that yearly perform tours in his vicinity.
The Rooneys live, and are as hospitable as ever. I dare not venture to give their address, lest you should take advantage of the information.
O'Grady and his wife are now at Malta.
Jack Hinton and his are, as they have every right to be--
Your very grateful and obedient Servants.
My dear Friends,--You must often have witnessed, in the half-hour which preludes departure from a dinner-party, the species of quiet bustle leave-taking produces. The low-voiced announcement of Mr. Somebody's carriage, the whispered good-night, the bow, the slide, the half-pressed finger--and he is gone. Another and another succeed him, and the few who linger on turn ever towards the opening door, and while they affect to seem at ease, are cursing their coachman and wondering at the delay.
The position of the host on such an occasion is precisely that of the author at the close of a volume. The same doubts are his whether the entertainment he has provided has pleased his guests; whether the persons he has introduced to one another are mutually satisfied. And, finally, the same solitude which visits him who 'treads alone some banquet-hall deserted' settles down upon the weary writer who watches one by one the spirits he has conjured up depart for ever, and, worse still, sees the tie snapped that for so long a period has bound him to his readers; and while they have turned to other and newer sources of amus.e.m.e.nt, he is left to brood over the time when they walked together, and his voice was heard amongst them.
Like all who look back, he sees how much better he could have done were he again to live over the past. He regrets many an opportunity of interesting you lost for ever, many an occasion to amuse you which may never occur again. It is thus that somehow--insensibly, I believe--a kind of sadness creeps over one at the end of a volume; misgivings as to success mingle with sorrows for the loss of our accustomed studies; and, altogether, the author is little to be envied, who, having enjoyed your sympathy and good wishes for twelve months, finds himself at last at the close of the year at the limit of your kindness, and obliged to say 'Good-bye,' even though it condemns him to solitude.
I did wish, before parting with you at this season, to justify myself before you for certain things which my critics have laid to my charge; but on second thoughts I have deemed it better to say nothing, lest by my defence against manslaughter a new indictment should be framed, and convict me of murder.
Such is the simple truth. The faults, the very great faults, of my book I am as well aware of as I feel myself unable to correct them. But in justice to my monitors I must say, that they have less often taken me up when tripping than when I stood erect upon good and firm ground. Yet let me be grateful for all their kindness, which for critics is certainly long-lived; and that I may still continue for a season to enjoy their countenance and yours is the most sincere desire of your very devoted servant,
P.S.--A bashful friend desires an introduction to you. May I present Tom Burke, of Ours? H. L.