Peg O' My Heart
J. Hartley Manners
"—in that which no waters can quench, No time forget, nor distance wear away."
Up to the time of publication, December 1922, "Peg o' My Heart" has been played as a comedy in English in the United States and Canada in excess of 8000 times, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in excess of 6000 times, in India 65 times, in the Orient 20 times, in Holland 152 times, and in Scandinavia 23 times. Australia and New Zealand have seen 701 performances while South Africa has witnessed 229.
Three companies are playing in France where the total performances exceed 500, the Belgian figures are not yet available, Spain has two companies, and Italy five, the total figures for these three countries last-named running well over a thousand performances. In France and Belgium "Peg de Mon Coeur" is the title for the French language version, in Italy "Peg del Mio Cuore" is the name of the Italian "Peg", while her Spanish admirers and translators have named her "Rirri."
Over 194,000 copies of the novel have been sold in the United States, while the British Empire has bought 51,600 in novel form. In play form 3000 copies have been sold to date. The new film "Peg o' My Heart" in nine reels is being distributed throughout the entire world, and while innumerable companies are playing the comedy throughout the United States, Canada and the British Empire, an internationally-known composer, Dr. Hugo Felix, is at work upon the score of a "Peg" operetta in collaboration with its author, so that the young lady may continue her career in musical form.
The present work is submitted in its original form with the addition of illustrations taken from the film recently made, through the courtesy of the Metro Pictures Corporation, for which acknowledgment is gratefully made.
It is believed that these statistics are unique in theatrical and publishing history for it will now be possible in any large city to read or witness "Peg o' My Heart" in the five phases of her career to date, viz., novel, printed play, acted comedy, photo play and operetta.
J. Hartley Manners.
The Lotes Club, New York City, December, 1922.
BOOK THE FIRST
The Romance of an Irish Agitator and an English Lady of Quality
I The Irish Agitator Makes His First Appearance II The Panorama of a Lost Youth III St. Kernan's Hill IV Nathaniel Kingsnorth Visits Ireland V Angela VI Angela Speaks Her Mind Freely to Nathaniel VII The Wounded Patriot VIII Angela in Sore Distress IX Two Letters X O'Connell Visits Angela in London XI Kingsnorth's Despair XII Looking Forward
BOOK THE SECOND
The End of the Romance
I Angela's Confession II A Communication from Nathaniel Kingsnorth III The Birth of Peg
BOOK THE THIRD
I Peg's Childhood II We Meet an Old Friend After Many Years III Peg Leaves Her Father for the First Time
BOOK THE FOURTH
Peg in England
I The Chichester Family II Christian Brent III Peg Arrives in England IV The Chichester Family Receive a Second Shock V Peg Meets Her Aunt VI Jerry VII The Passing of the First Month VIII The Temple of Friendship IX The Dance and its Sequel X Peg Intervenes XI "The Rebellion of Peg" XII A Room in New York XIII The Morning After XIV Alaric to the Rescue XV Montgomery Hawkes XVI The Chief Executor Appears on the Scene XVII Peg Learns of Her Uncle's Legacy XVIII Peg's Farewell to England
BOOK THE FIFTH
Peg Returns to Her Father
I After Many Days II Looking Backward III An Unexpected Visitor
THE IRISH AGITATOR MAKES HIS FIRST APPEARANCE
"Faith, there's no man says more and knows less than yerself, I'm thinkin'."
"About Ireland, yer riverence?"
"And everything else, Mr. O'Connell."
"Is that criticism or just temper, Father?"
"It's both, Mr. O'Connell."
"Sure it's the good judge ye must be of ignorance, Father Cahill."
"And what might that mane?"
"Ye live so much with it, Father."
"I'm lookin' at it and listenin' to it now, Frank O'Connell."
"Then it's a miracle has happened, Father."
"To see and hear one's self at the same time is indade a miracle, yer riverence."
Father Cahill tightened his grasp on his blackthorn stick, and shaking it in the other's face, said:
"Don't provoke the Man of God!"
"Not for the wurrld," replied the other meekly, "bein' mesef a Child of Satan."
"And that's what ye are. And ye'd have others like yerself. But ye won't while I've a tongue in me head and a sthrong stick in me hand."
O'Connell looked at him with a mischievous twinkle in his blue-grey eyes:
"Yer eloquence seems to nade somethin' to back it up, I'm thinkin'."
Father Cahill breathed hard. He was a splendid type of the Irish Parish-Priest of the old school. Gifted with a vivid power of eloquence as a preacher, and a heart as tender as a woman's toward the poor and the wretched, he had been for many years idolised by the whole community of the village of M—in County Clare. But of late there was a growing feeling of discontent among the younger generation. They lacked the respect their elders so willingly gave. They asked questions instead of answering them. They began to throw themselves, against Father Cahill's express wishes and commands, into the fight for Home Rule under the masterly statesmanship of Charles Stuart Parnell. Already more than one prominent speaker had come into the little village and sown the seeds of temporal and spiritual unrest. Father Cahill opposed these men to the utmost of his power. He saw, as so many far-sighted priests did, the legacy of bloodshed and desolation that would follow any direct action by the Irish against the British Government. Though the blood of the patriot beat in Father Cahill's veins, the well-being of the people who had grown up with him was near to his heart. He was their Priest and he could not bear to think of men he had known as children being beaten and maimed by constabulary, and sent to prison afterwards, in the, apparently, vain fight for self-government.
To his horror that day he met Frank Owen O'Connell, one of the most notorious of all the younger agitators, in the main street of the little village.
O'Connell's back sliding had been one of Father Cahill's bitterest regrets. He had closed O'Connell's father's eyes in death and had taken care of the boy as well as he could. But at the age of fifteen the youth left the village, that had so many wretched memories of hardship and struggle, and worked his way to Dublin. It was many years before Father Cahill heard of him again. He had developed meanwhile into one of the most daring of all the fervid speakers in the sacred Cause of Liberty. Many were the stories told of his narrow escapes from death and imprisonment. He always had the people on his side, and once away from the hunt, he would hide in caves, or in mountains, until the hue and cry was over, and then appear in some totally unexpected town and call on the people to act in the name of Freedom.
And that was exactly what happened on this particular day. He had suddenly appeared in the town he was born in and called a meeting on St. Kernan's Hill that afternoon.
It was this meeting Father Cahill was determined to stop by every means in his power.
He could hardly believe that this tall, bronzed, powerful young man was the Frank O'Connell he had watched about the village, as a boy—pale, dejected, and with but little of the fire of life in him. Now as he stood before Father Cahill and looked him straight through with his piercing eye, shoulders thrown back, and head held high, he looked every inch a born leader of men, and just for a moment the priest quailed. But only for a moment.
"Not a member of my flock will attend yer meetin' to-day. Not a door will open this day. Ye can face the constabulary yerself and the few of the rabble that'll follow ye. But none of my God-fearin' people will risk their lives and their liberty to listen to you."
O'Connell looked at him strangely. A far-away glint came into his eye, and the suspicion of a tear, as he answered:
"Sure it's precious little they'd be riskin', Father Cahill; havin' NO liberty and their lives bein' of little account to them."
O'Connell sighed as the thought of his fifteen years of withered youth in that poor little village came up before him.
"Let my people alone, I tell ye!" cried the priest. "It's contented they've been until the likes of you came amongst us."
"Then they must have been easily satisfied," retorted O'Connell, "to judge by their poor little homes and their drab little lives."
"A hovel may be a palace if the Divine Word is in it," said the priest.
"Sure it's that kind of tachin' keeps Ireland the mockery of the whole world. The Divine Word should bring Light. It's only darkness I find in this village," argued O'Connell.
"I've given my life to spreadin' the Light!" said the priest.
A smile hovered on O'Connell's lips as he muttered:
"Faith, then, I'm thinkin' it must be a DARK-LANTERN yer usin', yer riverence."
"Is that the son of Michael O'Connell talkin'?"
Suddenly the smile left O'Connell's lips, the sneer died on his tongue, and with a flash of power that turned to white heat before he finished, he attacked the priest with:
"Yes, it is! It is the son of Michael O'Connell who died on the roadside and was buried by the charity of his neighbours. Michael O'Connell, born in the image of God, who lived eight-and-fifty years of torment and starvation and sickness and misery! Michael O'Connell, who was thrown out from a bed of fever, by order of his landlord, to die in sight of where he was born. It's his son is talkin', Father Cahill, and it's his son WILL talk while there's breath in his body to keep his tongue waggin'. It's a precious legacy of hatred Michael O'Connell left his son, and there's no priest, no government, no policeman or soldier will kape that son from spendin' his legacy."
The man trembled from head to foot with the nervous intensity of his attack. Everything that had been outraged in him all his life came before him.
Father Cahill began to realise as he watched him the secret of the tremendous appeal the man had to the suffering people. Just for a moment the priest's heart went out to O'Connell, agitator though he was.
"Your father died with all the comforts of the Holy Church," said the priest gently, as he put his old hand the young man's shoulder.
"The comforts of the church!" scoffed O'Connell. "Praise be to heaven for that!" He laughed a grim, derisive laugh as he went on:
"Sure it's the fine choice the Irish peasant has to-day. 'Stones and dirt are good enough for them to eat,' sez the British government. 'Give them prayers,' say the priests. And so they die like flies in the highways and hedges, but with 'all the comforts of the Holy Church'!"
Father Cahill's voice thrilled with indignation as he said:
"I'll not stand and listen to ye talk that way, Frank O'Connell."
"I've often noticed that those who are the first to PREACH truth are the last to LISTEN to it," said the agitator drily.
"Where would Ireland be to-day but for the priest? Answer me that. Where would she be? What has my a here been? I accepted the yoke of the Church when I was scarcely your age. I've given my life to serving it. To help the poor, and to keep faith and love for Him in their hearts. To tache the little children and bring them up in the way of God. I've baptised them when their eyes first looked out on this wurrld of sorrows. I've given them in marriage, closed their eyes in death, and read the last message to Him for their souls. And there are thousands more like me, giving their lives to their little missions, trying to kape the people's hearts clean and honest, so that their souls may go to Him when their journey is ended."
Father Cahill took a deep breath as he finished. He had indeed summed up his life's work. He had given it freely to his poor little flock. His only happiness had been in ministering to their needs. And now to have one to whom he had taught his first prayer, heard his first confession and given him his first Holy Communion speak scoffingly of the priest, hurt him as nothing else could hurt and bruise him.
The appeal was not lost on O'Connell. In his heart he loved Father Cahill for the Christ-like life of self-denial he had passed in this little place. But in his brain O'Connell pitied the old man for his wasted years in the darkness of ignorance in which so many of the villages of Ireland seemed to be buried.
O'Connell belonged to the "Young Ireland" movement. They wanted to bring the searchlight of knowledge into the abodes of darkness in which the poor of Ireland were submerged. To the younger men it seemed the priests were keeping the people from enlightenment. And until the fierce blaze of criticism could be turned on to the government of cruelty and oppression there was small hope of freeing the people who had suffered so long in silence. O'Connell was in the front band of men striving to arouse the sleeping nation to a sense of its own power. And nothing was going to stop the onward movement. It pained him to differ from Father Cahill—the one friend of his youth. If only he could alter the good priest's outlook—win him over to the great procession that was marching surely and firmly to self-government, freedom of speech and of action, and to the ultimate making of men of force out of the crushed and the hopeless. He would try.
"Father Cahill," he began softly, as though the good priest might be wooed by sweet reason when the declamatory force of the orator failed, "don't ye think it would be wiser to attend a little more to the people's BODIES than to their SOULS? to their BRAINS rather than to their HEARTS? Don't ye?"
"No, I do NOT," hotly answered the priest.
"Well, if ye DID," said the agitator, "if more priests did, it's a different Ireland we'd be livin' in to-day—that we would. The Christian's heaven seems so far away when he's livin' in hell. Try to make EARTH more like a heaven and he'll be more apt to listen to stories of the other one. Tache them to kape their hovels clean and their hearts and lives will have a betther chance of health. Above all broaden their minds. Give them education and the Divine tachin' will find a surer restin' place. Ignorance and dirt fill the hospitals and the asylums, and it is THAT so many of the priests are fosterin'."
"I'll not listen to another wurrd," cried Father Cahill, turning away.
O'Connell strode in front of him.
"Wait. There's another thing. I've heard more than one priest boast that there was less sin in the villages of Ireland than in any other country. And why? What is yer great cure for vice? MARRIAGE—isn't it?"
"What are ye sayin'?"
"I'm sayin' this, Father Cahill. If a boy looks at a girl twice, what do ye do? Engage them to be married. To you marriage is the safeguard against sin. And what ARE such marriages? Hunger marryin' thirst! Poverty united to misery! Men and women ignorant and stunted in mind and body, bound together by a sacrament, givin' them the right to bring others, equally distorted, into the wurrld. And when they're born you baptise them, and you have more souls entered on the great register for the Holy Church. Bodies livin' in perpetual torment, with a heaven wavin' at them all through their lives as a reward for their suffering here. I tell ye ye're wrong! Ye're wrong! Ye're wrong! The misery of such marriages will reach through all the generations to come. I'd rather see vice—vice that burns out and leaves scar-white the lives it scorches. There is more sin in the HEARTS and MINDS of these poor, wretched, ill-mated people than in the sinks of Europe. There is some hope for the vicious. Intelligence and common-sense will wean them from it. But there is no hope for the people whose lives from the cradle to the grave are drab and empty and sordid and wretched."
As O'Connell uttered this terrible arraignment of the old order of protecting society by early and indiscriminate marriages, it seemed as if the mantle of some modern prophet had fallen on him. He had struck at the real keynote of Ireland's misery to-day. The spirit of oppression followed them into the privacy of their lives. Even their wives were chosen for them by their teachers. Small wonder the English government could enforce brutal and unjust laws when the very freedom of choosing their mates and of having any voice in the control of their own homes was denied them.
To Father Cahill such words were blasphemy. He looked at O'Connell in horror.
"Have ye done?" he asked.
"What else I may have to say will be said on St. Kernan's Hill this afternoon."
"There will be no meetin' there to-day," cried the priest.
"Come and listen to it," replied the agitator.
"I've forbidden my people to go."
"They'll come if I have to drag them from their homes."
"I've warned the resident-magistrate. The police will be there if ye thry to hold a meetin'."
"We'll outnumber them ten to one."
"There'll be riotin' and death."
"Better to die in a good cause than to live in a bad one," cried O'Connell. "It's the great dead who lead the world by their majesty. It's the bad livin' who keep it back by their infamy."
"Don't do this, Frank O'Connell. I ask you in the name of the Church in which ye were baptised—by me."
"I'll do it in the name of the suffering people I was born among."
"I command you! Don't do this!"
"I can hear only the voice of my dead father saying: 'Go on!'"
"I entreat you—don't!"
"My father's voice is louder than yours, Father Cahill."
"Have an old man's tears no power to move ye?"
O'Connell looked at the priest. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. He made no effort to staunch them. O'Connell hesitated, then he said firmly:
"My father wept in the ditch when he was dyin', dying in sight of his home. Mine was the only hand that wiped away his tears. I can see only HIS to-day, Father."
"I'll make my last appeal. What good can this meetin' do? Ye say the people are ignorant and wretched. Why have them batthered and shot down by the soldiers?"
"It has always been the martyrs who have made a cause. I am willin' to be one. I'd be a thraitor if I passed my life without lifting my voice and my hands against my people's oppressors."
"Ye're throwin' yer life away, Frank O'Connell."
"I wouldn't be the first and I won't be the last"
"Nothing will move ye?" cried the priest.
"One thing only," replied the agitator.
"And what is that?"
"Death!" and O'Connell strode abruptly away.
THE PANORAMA OF A LOST YOUTH
As O'Connell hurried through the streets of the little village thoughts surged madly through his brain. It was in this barren spot he was born and passed his youth. Youth! A period of poverty and struggle: of empty dreams and futile hopes. It passed before him now as a panorama. There was the doctor's house where his father hurried the night he was born. How often had his mother told him of that night of storm when she gave her last gleam of strength in giving him life! In storm he was born: in strife he would live. The mark was on him.
Now he came to the little schoolhouse where he first learned to read. Facing it Father Cahill's tiny church, where he had learned to pray. Beyond lay the green on which he had his first fight. It was about his father. Bruised and bleeding, he crept home that day—beaten. His mother cried over him and washed his cuts and bathed his bruises. A flush of shame crept across his face as he thought of that beating. The result of our first battle stays with us through life. He watched his conqueror, he remembered for years. He had but one ambition in those days—to gain sufficient strength to wipe out that disgrace. He trained his muscles, He ran on the roads at early morning until his breathing was good. He made friends with an English soldier stationed in the town, by doing him some slight service. The man had learned boxing in London and could beat any one in his regiment. O'Connell asked the man to teach him boxing. The soldier agreed. He found the boy an apt pupil. O'Connell mastered the art of self-defence. He learned the vulnerable points of attack. Then he waited his opportunity. One half-holiday, when the schoolboys were playing on the green, he walked up deliberately to his conqueror and challenged him to a return engagement. The boys crowded around them. "Is it another batin' ye'd be afther havin', ye beggar-man's son?" said the enemy.
O'Connell's reply was a well-timed punch on that youth's jaw, and the second battle was on.
As O'Connell fought he remembered every blow of the first fight when, weak and unskilful, he was an easy prey for his victor.
"That's for the one ye gave me two years ago, Martin Quinlan," cried O'Connell, as he closed that youth's right eye, and stepped nimbly back from a furious counter.
"And it's a bloody nose ye'll have, too," as he drove his left with deadly precision on Quinlan's olfactory organ, staggering that amazed youth, who, nothing daunted, ran into a series of jabs and swings that completely dazed him and forced him to clinch to save further damage. But the fighting blood of O'Connell was up. He beat Quinlan out of the clinch with a well-timed upper-cut that put the youth upon his back on the green.
"Now take back that 'beggar-man's' son!" shouted O'Connell.
"I'll not," from the grass.
"Then get up and be beaten," screamed O'Connell. The boys danced around them. It was too good to be true. Quinlan had thrashed them all, and here was the apparently weakest of them—white-faced O'Connell—thrashing him. Why, if O'Connell could best him, they all could. The reign of tyranny was over.
"Fight! Fight!" they shouted, as they crowded around the combatants.
Quinlan rose to his feet only to be put back again on the ground by a straight right in the mouth. He felt the warm blood against his lips and tasted the salt on his tongue. It maddened him. He staggered up and rushed with all his force against O'Connell, who stepped aside and caught Quinlan, as he stumbled past, full behind the ear. He pitched forward on his face and did not move. The battle was over.
"And I'll serve just the same any that sez a word against me father!"
Not a boy said a word.
"Fighting O'Connell" he was nicknamed that day, and "Fighting O'Connell" he was known years afterwards to Dublin Castle.
When he showed his mother his bruised knuckles that night and told her how he came by them, she cried again as she did two years before. Only this time they were tears of pride.
From door to door he went.
"St. Kernan's Hill at three," was all he said. Some nodded, some said nothing, others agreed volubly. On all their faces he read that they would be there.
On through the village he went until he reached the outskirts. He paused and looked around. There was the spot on which the little cabin he was born in and in which his mother died, had stood. It had long since been pulled down for improvements. Not a sign to mark the tomb of his youth. It was here they placed his father that bleak November day—here by the ditch. It was here his father gave up the struggle. The feeble pulse ebbed. The flame died out.
The years stripped back. It seemed as yesterday. And here HE stood grown to manhood. He needed just that reminder to stir his blood and nerve him for the ordeal of St. Kernan's Hill.
The old order was dying out in Ireland.
The days of spiritless bending to the yoke were over. It was a "Young Ireland" he belonged to and meant to lead. A "Young Ireland" with an inheritance of oppression and slavery to wipe out. A "Young Ireland" that demanded to be heard: that meant to act: that would fight step by step in the march to Westminster to compel recognition of their just claims. And he was to be one of their leaders. He squared his shoulders as he looked for the last time on the little spot of earth that once meant "Home" to him.
He took in a deep breath and muttered through his clenched teeth:
"Let the march begin to-day. Forward!" and he turned toward St. Kernan's Hill.
ST. KERNAN'S HILL
To the summit of the hill climbed up men, women and children. The men grimy and toil-worn; a look of hopelessness in their eyes: the sob of misery in their voices. Dragging themselves up after them came the women—some pressing babies to their breasts, others leading little children by the hand. The men had begged them to stay at home. There might be bad work that day, but the women had answered:
"If WE go they won't hurt YOU!" and they pressed on after the leaders.
At three o'clock O'Connell ascended the hill and stood alone on the great mount.
A cry of greeting went up.
He raised his hand in acknowledgment.
It was strange indeed for him to stand there looking down at the people he had known since childhood. A thousand conflicting emotions swept through him as he looked at the men and women whom, only a little while ago, it seemed, he had known as children. THEN he bent to their will. The son of a peasant, he was amongst the poorest of the poor. Now he came amongst them to try and lift them from the depths he had risen from himself.
"It is Frankie O'Connell himself," cried a voice.
"Him we knew as a baby," said another.
"Fightin' O'Connell! Hooray for him!" shouted a third.
"Mary's own child standin' up there tall and straight to get us freedom and comfort," crooned an old white-haired woman.
"And broken heads," said another old woman.
"And lyin' in the county-jail himself, mebbe, this night," said a third.
"The Lord be with him," cried a fourth.
"Amen to that," and they reverently crossed themselves.
Again O'Connell raised his hand, this time to command silence.
All the murmurs died away.
O'Connell began—his rich, melodious voice ringing far beyond the farthest limits of the crowd—the music of his Irish brogue making cadences of entreaty and again lashing the people into fury at the memory of Ireland's wrongs.
"Irish men and women, we are met here to-day in the sight of God and in defiance of the English government," (groans and hisses), "to clasp hands, to unite our thoughts and to nerve our bodies to the supreme effort of bringing hope to despair, freedom to slavery, prosperity to the land and happiness to our homes." (Loud applause.) "Too long have our forefathers lived under the yoke of the oppressor. Too long have our old been buried in paupers' graves afther lives of misery no other counthry in the wurrld can equal. Why should it be the lot of our people—men and women born to a birthright of freedom? Why? Are ye men of Ireland so craven that aliens can rule ye as they once ruled the negro?" ("No, no!") "The African slave has been emancipated and his emancipation was through the blood and tears of the people who wronged him. Let OUR emancipation, then, be through the blood and tears of our oppressors. In other nations it is the Irishman who rules. It is only in his own counthry that he is ruled. And the debt of hathred and misery and blasted lives and dead hopes is at our door today. Shall that debt be unpaid?" ("No, no!") "Look around you. Look at the faces of yer brothers and sisthers, worn and starved. Look at yer women-kind, old before they've been young. Look at the babies at their mothers' breasts, first looking out on a wurrld in which they will never know a happy thought, never feel a joyous impulse, never laugh with the honest laughther of a free and contented and God-and-government-protected people. Are yez satisfied with this?" (Angry cries of "No, no!")
"Think of yer hovels—scorched with the heat, blisthered with the wind and drenched with the rain, to live in which you toil that their owners may enjoy the fruits of yer slavery—IN OTHER COUNTHRIES. Think of yer sons and daughthers lavin' this once fair land in hundhreds of thousands to become wage-earners across the seas, with their hearts aching for their homes and their loved ones. The fault is at our own door. The solution is in our own hands. Isn't it betther to die, pike in hand, fightin' as our forefathers did, than to rot in filth, and die, lavin' a legacy of disease and pestilence and weak brains and famished bodies?" His voice cracked and broke into a high-pitched hysterical cry as he finished the peroration.
A flame leaped through the mob. The men muttered imprecations as a new light flashed from their eyes. All their misery fell from them as a shroud. They only thought of vengeance. They were men again. Their hearts beat as their progenitors' hearts must have beaten at the Boyne.
The great upheaval that flashed star-like through Ireland from epoch to epoch, burned like vitriol in their veins.
The women forgot their crying babies as they pressed forward, screaming their paean of vengeance against their oppressors.
The crowd seemed to throb as some great engine of humanity. It seemed to think with one brain, beat with one heart and call with one voice.
The cry grew into an angry roar.
Suddenly Father Cahill appeared amongst them. "Go back to your homes," he commanded, breathlessly.
"Stay where you are," shouted O'Connell.
"In the name of the Catholic Church, go!" said the priest.
"In the name of our down-trodden and suffering people, stay!" thundered O'Connell.
"Don't listen to him. Listen to the voice of God!"
"God's help comes to those who help themselves," answered the agitator.
Father Cahill made his last and strongest appeal:
"My poor children, the constabulary are coming to break up the meetin' and to arrest HIM."
"Let them come," cried O'Connell. "Show them that the spirit of Irish manhood is not dead. Show them that we still have the power and the courage to defy them. Tell them we'll meet when and where we think fit. That we'll not silence our voices while there's breath in our bodies. That we'll resist their tyranny while we've strength to shouldher a gun or handle a pike. I appeal to you, O Irishmen, in the name of yer broken homes; in the name of all that makes life glorious and death divine! In the name of yer maimed and yer dead! Of yer brothers in prison and in exile! By the listenin' earth and the watching sky I appeal to ye to make yer stand to-day. I implore ye to join yer hearts and yer lives with mine. Lift yer voices with me: stretch forth yer hands with mine and by yer hopes of happiness here and peace hereafter give an oath to heaven never to cease fightin' until freedom and light come to this unhappy land!"
"Swear by all ye hold most dear: by the God who gave ye life: by the memory of all ye hold most sacred: by the sorrow for yer women and children who have died of hunger and heart-break: stretch forth yer hands and swear to give yer lives so that the generations to come may know happiness and peace and freedom. Swear!"
He stopped at the end of the adjuration, his right hand held high above his head, his left—palm upward, stretched forward in an attitude of entreaty.
It seemed as though the SOUL of the man was pleading with them to take the oath that would bind THEIR souls to the "Cause."
Crowding around him, eyes blazing, breasts heaving, as if impelled by one common thought, the men and women clamoured with outstretched hands:
In that moment of exaltation it seemed as if the old Saint-Martyrs' halo glowed over each, as they took the oath that pledged them to the "CAUSE,"—the Cause that meant the lifting of oppression and tyranny: immunity from "buckshot" and the prison-cell: from famine and murder and coercion—all the component parts of Ireland's torture in her struggle for her right to self-government.
A moment later the crowd was hushed. A tremour ran through it. The sounds of marching troops: the unintelligible words of command, broke in on them.
Father Cahill plunged in amongst them. "The constabulary," he cried. "Back to your homes."
"Stay where you are," shouted O'Connell.
"I beg you, my children! I command you! I entreat you! Don't have bloodshed here to-day!" Father Cahill turned distractedly to O'Connell, crying out to him:
"Tell them to go back! My poor people! Tell them to go back to their homes while there's time."
Turning his back on the priest, O'Connell faced the crowd:
"You have taken your oath. Would you perjure yourselves at this old man's bidding? See where the soldiers come. Look—and look well at them. Their uniforms stand for the badge of tyranny. The glint of their muskets is the message from their illustrious sovereign of her feeling to this part of her kingdom. We ask for JUSTICE and they send us BULLETS. We cry for 'LIBERTY' and the answer is 'DEATH' at the hands of her soldiers. We accept the challenge. Put yer women and childhren behind you. Let no man move."
The men hurriedly placed the women and children so that they were protected from the first onslaught of the soldiery.
Then the men of St. Kernan's Hill, armed with huge stones and sticks, turned to meet the troops.
Mr. Roche, the resident-magistrate, rode at their head.
"Arrest that man," he cried, pointing to O'Connell.
An angry growl went up from the mob.
Father Cahill hurried to him:
"Don't interfere with them, Mr. Roche. For the love of heaven, don't. There'll be murder here to-day if ye do."
"I have my instructions, Father Cahill, and it's sorry I am to have to act under them to-day."
"It isn't the people's fault," pleaded the priest; "indeed it isn't."
"We don't wish to hurt them. We want that man O'Connell."
"They'll never give him up. Wait till to-night and take him quietly."
"No, we'll take him here. He's given the police the slip in many parts of the country. He won't to-day." The magistrate pushed forward on his horse through the fringe on the front part of the crowd and reined up at the foot of the mount.
"Frank Owen O'Connell, I arrest you in the Queen's name for inciting peaceable citizens to violence," he called up to the agitator.
"Arrest me yerself, Mr. Magistrate Roche," replied O'Connell.
Turning to an officer Roche motioned him to seize O'Connell.
As the officer pressed forward he was felled by a blow from a heavy stick.
In a second the fight was on.
The magistrate read the riot-act.
He, together with Father Cahill, called to the mob to stop. They shouted to O'Connell to surrender and disperse the people.
The soldiers formed into open formation and marched on the mob.
Maddened and reeling, with no order, no discipline, with only blind fury and the rushing, pulsing blood—that has won many a battle for England against a common foe—the men of Ireland hurled themselves upon the soldiers. They threw their missiles: they struck them with their gnarled sticks: they beat them with their clenched fists.
The order to "Fire" was given as the soldiers fell back from the onslaught.
When the smoke cleared away the ranks of the mob were broken. Some lay dead on the turf; some groaned in the agony of shattered limbs. The women threw themselves moaning on the bodies. Silence fell like a pall over the mob. Out of the silence a low angry growl went up. O'Connell had fallen too.
The soldiers surrounded his prostrate body.
The mob made a rush forward to rescue him. O'Connell stopped them with a cry:
"Enough for to-day, my men." He pointed to the wounded and dying: "Live to avenge them. Wait until 'The Day'!" His voice failed. He fell back unconscious.
Into the midst of the crowd and through the ranks of the soldiers suddenly rode a young girl, barely twenty years old. Beside her was a terrified groom. She guided her horse straight to the magistrate. He raised his hat and muttered a greeting, with a glance of recognition.
"Have him taken to 'The Gap,'" she said imperatively, pointing to the motionless body of O'Connell.
"He is under arrest," replied the magistrate.
"Do you want another death on your hands? Haven't you done enough in killing and maiming those unfortunate people?" She looked with pity on the moaning women: and then with contempt on the officer who gave the order to fire.
"You ought to be proud of your work to-day!" she said.
"I only carried out my orders," replied the man humbly.
"Have that man taken to my brother's house. He will surrender him or go bail for him until he has been attended to. First let us SAVE him." The girl dismounted and made a litter of some fallen branches, assisted by the groom.
"Order some of your men to carry him."
There was a note of command in her tone that awed both the officer and the magistrate.
Four men were detailed to carry the body on the litter. The girl remounted. Turning to the magistrate, she said:
"Tell your government, Mr. Roche, that their soldiers shot down these unarmed people." Then she wheeled round to the mob:
"Go back to your homes." She pointed to the dead and wounded: "THEY have died or been maimed for their Cause. Do as HE said," pointing to the unconscious O'Connell, "LIVE for it!"
She started down through the valley, followed by the litter-bearers and the magistrate.
The officer gave the word of command, and, with some of the ringleaders in their midst, the soldiers marched away.
Left alone with their dying and their dead, all the ferocity left the poor, crushed peasants.
They knelt down sobbing over the motionless bodies. For the time being the Law and its officers were triumphant.
This was the act of the representatives of the English government in the year of civilisation 18—, and in the reign of her late Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, by the grace of God, Empress of India.
NATHANIEL KINGSNORTH VISITS IRELAND
While the incidents of the foregoing chapters were taking place, the gentleman whose ownership shaped the destinies of many of the agitators of St. Kernan's Hill, was confronting almost as difficult a problem as O'Connell was facing on the mount.
Whilst O'Connell was pleading for the right of Ireland to govern herself, Mr. Nathaniel Kingsnorth was endeavouring to understand how to manage so unwieldy and so troublesome an estate.
The death of his father placed a somewhat extensive—and so far entirely unprofitable—portion of the village in his care. His late father had complained all his life of the depreciation of values; the growing reluctance to pay rents; and the general dying-out of the worth of an estate that had passed into the hands of a Kingsnorth many generations before in the ordinary course of business, for notes that had not been taken up, and mortgages that had been foreclosed.
It was the open boast of the old gentleman that he had never seen the village, and it was one of his dying gratifications that he would never have to.
He had all the racial antipathy of a certain type of Englishmen to anything IRISH. The word itself was unpleasant to his ears. He never heard it without a shudder, and his intimates, at his request, refrained from using it in his presence. The word represented to him all that was unsavoury, unpatriotic and unprincipled.
One phrase of his, in speaking of Ireland at a banquet, achieved the dignity of being printed in all the great London daily papers and was followed by a splenetic attack in the "Irish Nation." Both incidents pleased the old gentleman beyond measure. It was an unfailing source of gratification to him that he had coined the historical utterance. He quoted it with a grim chuckle on the few occasions when some guest, unfamiliar with his prejudice, would mention in his presence the hated word "Ireland."
It appears that one particularly hard winter, when, for some unnecessary and wholly unwarrantable reason, the potato crop had failed, and the little Irish village was in a condition of desperate distress, it was found impossible to collect more than a tithe of Mr. Kingsnorth's just dues. No persuasion could make the obstinate tenants pay their rents. Threats, law-proceedings, evictions—all were useless. They simply would not pay. His agent finally admitted himself beaten. Mr. Kingsnorth must wait for better times.
Furious at his diminished income and hating, with a bitter hatred, the disloyal and cheating tenantry, he rose at a Guildhall banquet to reply to the toast of "The Colonies."
He drew vivid pictures of the splendour of the British possessions: of India—that golden and loyal Empire; Australia with its hidden mines of wealth, whose soil had scarce been scratched, peopled by patriotic, zealous and toiling millions, honestly paying their way through life by the sweat of their God-and-Queen-fearing brows. What an example to the world! A country where the wage-earner hurried, with eager footsteps, to place the honestly earned tolls at the feet of generous and trusting landlords!
Then, on the other hand, he pointed to that small portion of the British Isles, where to pay rent was a crime: where landlords were but targets for insult and vituperation—yes, and indeed for BULLETS from the hidden assassin whenever they were indiscreet enough to visit a country where laws existed but that they might be broken, and crime stalked fearlessly through the land. Such a condition was a reproach to the English government.
"Why," he asked the astonished gathering of dignitaries, "why should such a condition exist when three hundred and sixty-five men sat in the House of Commons, sent there by electors to administer the just and wise laws of a just and wise country? Why?"
As he paused and glared around the table for the reply that was not forthcoming, the undying phrase sprang new-born from his lips:
"Oh," he cried; "oh! that for one brief hour Providence would immerse that island of discontent beneath the waters of the Atlantic and destroy a people who seemed bent on destroying themselves and on disintegrating the majesty and dignity and honour of our great Empire!"
Feeling that no words of his could follow so marvellous a climax, he sat down, amid a silence that seemed to him to be fraught with eloquence, so impressive and significant was—to him—its full meaning. Some speeches are cheered vulgarly. It was the outward sign of coarse approval. Others are enjoyed and sympathised with inwardly, and the outward tribute to which was silence—and that was the tribute of that particular Guildhall gathering on that great night.
It seemed to Wilberforce Kingsnorth, hardened after-dinner speaker though he was, that never had a body of men such as he confronted and who met his gaze by dropping their eyes modestly to their glasses, been so genuinely thrilled by so original, so comprehensive and so dramatic a conclusion to a powerful appeal.
Kingsnorth felt, as he sat down, that it was indeed a red-letter night for him—and for England.
The Times, in reviewing the speeches the following morning, significantly commented that:
"Mr. Kingsnorth had solved, in a moment of entreaty, to a hitherto indifferent Providence, the entire Irish difficulty."
When Nathaniel Kingsnorth found himself the fortunate possessor of this tract of land peopled by so lawless a race, he determined to see for himself what the conditions really were, so for the first time since they owned a portion of it, a Kingsnorth set foot on Irish soil.
Accompanied by his two sisters he arrived quietly some few weeks before and addressed himself at once to the task of understanding the people and the circumstances in which they lived.
On this particular afternoon he was occupied with his agent, going systematically through the details of the management of the estate.
It was indeed a discouraging prospect. Such a condition of pauperism seemed incredible in a village within a few hours of his own England. Except for a few moderately thriving tradesmen, the whole population seemed to live from hand to mouth. The entire village was in debt. They owed the landlords, the tradesmen, they even owed each other money and goods. It seemed to be a community cut off from the rest of the world, in which nothing from the outside ever entered. No money was ever put into the village. On the contrary there was a continuous withdrawal. By present standards a day would come when the last coin would depart and the favoured spot would be as independent of money as many of the poorer people were of clothing.
It came as a shock to Nathaniel Kingsnorth. For the first time it began to dawn on him that, after all, the agitators might really have some cause to agitate: that their attitude was not one of merely fighting for the sake of the fight. Yet a lingering suspicion, borne of his early training, and his father's doctrines about Ireland, that Pat was really a scheming, dishonest fellow, obtruded itself on his mind, even as he became more than half convinced of the little village's desperate plight.
Nathaniel loathed injustice. As the magistrate of his county he punished dishonesty. Was the condition he saw due to English injustice or Irish dishonesty? That was the problem that he was endeavouring to solve.
"There doesn't seem to be a sixpence circulating through the whole place," he remarked to the agent when that gentleman had concluded his statement of the position of matters.
"And there never will be, until some one puts money into the village instead of taking it out of it," said the agent.
"You refer to the land-owners?"
"I do. And it's many's the time I wrote your father them same words."
"It is surely not unnatural for owners to expect to be paid for the use of houses and land, is it? We expect it in England," said Kingsnorth drily.
"In England the landlord usually lives on his estate and takes some pride in it."
"Small pride anyone could take in such an estate as this," Kingsnorth laughed bitterly. Then he went on: "And as for living on it—," and he shrugged his shoulders in disgust. "Before the Kingsnorths came into possession the MacMahons lived on it, and proud the people were of them and they of the people, sir."
"I wish to God they'd continued to," said Kingsnorth wrathfully.
"They beggared themselves for the people—that's what they did, sir. Improvements here—a road there. A quarry cut to give men work and a breakwater built to keep the sea from washing away the poor fishermen's homes. And when famine came not a penny rent asked—and their women-kind feedin' and nursin' the starvin' and the sick. An' all the time raisin' money to do it. A mortgage on this and a note of hand for that—until the whole place was plastered with debt. Then out they were turned."
The agent moved away and looked out across the well-trimmed lawn to conceal his emotion.
"Ill-timed charity and business principles scarcely go together, my good Burke," said Kingsnorth, with ill-concealed impatience. He did not like this man's tone. It suggested a glorification of the former BANKRUPT landlord and a lack of appreciation of the present SOLVENT one.
"So the English think," Burke answered.
Kingsnorth went on: "If we knew the whole truth we would probably find the very methods these people used were the cause of the sorry condition this village is in now. No landlord has the right to pauperise his tenantry by giving them money and their homes rent-free. It is a man's duty and privilege to WORK. INDEPENDENCE—that is what a man should aim at. The Irish are always CRYING for it. They never seem to PRACTISE it."
"Ye can't draw the water out of a kettle and expect it to boil, sir, and by the same token independence is a fine thing to tache to men who are dependent on all."
"Your sympathies appear to be entirely with the people," said Kingsnorth, looking shrewdly and suspiciously at the agent.
"No one could live here man and boy and not give it to them," answered Burke.
"You're frank, anyway."
"Pity there are not more like me, sir."
"I'll see what it is possible to do in the matter of improving conditions. Mind—I promise nothing. I put my tenants on probation. It seems hopeless. I'll start works for the really needy. If they show a desire to take advantage of my interest in them I'll extend my operations. If they do NOT I'll stop everything and put the estate on the market."
Burke looked at him and smiled a dry, cracked smile.
He was a thin, active, grizzled man, well past fifty, with keen, shrewd eyes that twinkled with humour, or sparkled with ferocity, or melted with sorrow as the mood seized him. As he answered Kingsnorth the eyes twinkled.
"I'm sure it's grateful the poor people 'ull be when they hear the good news of yer honour's interest in them."
"I hope so. Although history teaches us that gratitude is not a common quality in Ireland. 'If an Irishman is being roasted you will always find another Irishman to turn the spit,' a statesman quoted in the House of Commons a few nights ago."
"That must be why the same statesman puts them in prison for standin' by each other, I suppose," said Burke, with a faint smile.
"You are now speaking of the curses of this country—the agitators. They are the real cause of this deplorable misery. Who will put money into a country that is ridden by these scoundrels? Rid Ireland of agitators and you advance her prosperity a hundred years. They are the clogs on the wheel of a nation's progress." He picked up a copy of the local newspaper and read a headline from one of the columns:
"I see you have agitators even here?"
"We have, sir."
"Drive them out of the town. Let the people live their own lives without such disturbing elements in them. Tell them distinctly that from the moment they begin to work for me I'll have no 'meetings' on my property. Any of my tenants or workmen found attending them elsewhere will be evicted and discharged."
"I'll tell them, sir."
"I mean to put that kind of lawlessness down with a firm hand."
"If ye DO ye'll be the first, Mr. Kingsnorth."
"There is one I see to-day," glancing again at the paper.
"There is, sir."
"Who is this man O'Connell?"
"A native of the village, sir."
"What is he—a paid agitator?"
"Faith there's little pay he gets, I'm thinkin'."
"Why don't the police arrest him?"
"Mebbe they will, sir."
"I'll see that they do."
"And what do you find so amusing, Mr. Burke?"
"It's a wondher the English government doesn't get tired of arrestin' them. As fast as they DO others take their place. It's the persecution brings fresh converts to the 'Cause.' Put one man in jail and there'll be a hundred new followers the next day."
"We'll see," said Kingsnorth firmly. "Here is one district where the law will be enforced. These meetings and their frequent bloodshed are a disgrace to a civilised people."
"Ye may well say that, yer honour," replied Burke.
"Before I invest one penny to better the condition of the people I must have their pledge to abandon such disgraceful methods of trying to enlist sympathy. I'll begin with this man O'Connell. Have him brought to me to-morrow. I'll manage this estate my own way or I'll wash my hands of it. My father was often tempted to."
"He resisted the temptation though, sir."
"I'm sorry he did. That will do for to-day. Leave these statements. I'll go over them again. It's hard to make head or tail of the whole business. Be here tomorrow at ten. Bring that fellow O'Connell with you. Also give me a list of some of the more intelligent and trustworthy of the people and I'll sound them as to the prospects of opening up work here. Drop them a hint that my interest is solely on the understanding that this senseless agitation stops."
"I will, sir. To-morrow morning at ten," and Burke started for the door.
"Oh, and—Burke—I hope you are more discreet with my tenants than you have been with me?"
"In what way, Mr. Kingsnorth?"
"I trust that you confine your sympathy with them to your FEELINGS and not give expression to them in words."
"I can't say that I do, Mr. Kingsnorth."
"It would be wiser to in future, Mr. Burke."
"Well, ye see, sir, I'm a MAN first and an AGENT afterwards."
"Yes, sir. It's many's the ugly thing I've had to do for your father, and if a kind word of mine hadn't gone with it, it's precious little of the estate would be fit to look at to-day, Mr. Kingsnorth."
"And why not?"
"Do ye remember when Kilkee's Scotch steward evicted two hundred in one day, sir?"
"I do not."
"Rade about it. It's very enlightenin'."
"The poor wretched, evicted people burnt down every dwellin' and tree on the place, sir."
"I would know how to handle such ruffians."
"That's what Kilkee thought. 'Tache them a lesson,' said he. 'Turn them into the ditches!' And he DID. HE thought he KNEW how to handle them. He woke up with a jump one mornin' when he found a letter from the under-steward tellin' him his Scotch master was in the hospital with a bullet in his spleen, and the beautiful house and grounds were just so much blackened ashes."
"It seems to me, my good man, there is a note of agreement with such methods, in your tone."
"Manin' the evictin' or the burnin', yer honour?"
"You know what I mean," and Kingsnorth's voice rose angrily.
"I think I do," answered Burke quietly.
"I want an agent who is devoted to my interests and to whom the people are secondary."
"Then ye'd betther send to England for one, sir. The men devoted to landlords and against the people are precious few in this part of Ireland, sir."
"Do you intend that I should act on that?"
"If ye wish. Ye can have my TIME at a price, but ye won't have my INDEPENDENCE for any sum ye like to offer."
"Very well. Send me your resignation, to take effect one month from to-day."
"It's grateful I am, Mr. Kingsnorth," and he went out.
In through the open window came the sound of the tramping of many feet and the whisper of subdued voices.
Kingsnorth hurried out on to the path and saw a number of men and women walking slowly down the drive, in the centre of which the soldiers were carrying a body on some branches. Riding beside them was his sister Angela with her groom.
"What new horror is this?" he thought, as he hurried down the path to meet the procession.
Wilberforce Kingsnorth left three children: Nathaniel—whose acquaintance we have already made, and who in a large measure inherited much of his father's dominant will and hardheadedness—Monica, the elder daughter, and Angela the younger.
Nathaniel was the old man's favourite.
While still a youth he inculcated into the boy all the tenets of business, morality and politics that had made Wilberforce prosperous.
Pride in his name: a sturdy grasp of life: an unbending attitude toward those beneath him, and an abiding reverence for law and order and fealty to the throne—these were the foundations on which the father built Nathaniel's character.
Next in point of regard came the elder daughter Monica. Patrician of feature, haughty in manner, exclusive by nature she had the true Kingsnorth air. She had no disturbing "ideas": no yearning for things not of her station. She was contented with the world as it had been made for her and seemed duly proud and grateful to have been born a Kingsnorth.
She was an excellent musician: rode fairly to hounds: bestowed prizes at the local charities with grace and distinction—as became a Kingsnorth—and looked coldly out at the world from behind the impenetrable barriers of an old name.
When she married Frederick Chichester, the rising barrister, connected with six county families, it was a proud day for old Kingsnorth.
His family had originally made their money in trade. The Chichesters had accumulated a fortune by professions. The distinction in England is marked.
One hesitates to acknowledge the salutation of the man who provides one with the necessities of life: a hearty handshake is occasionally extended to those who minister to one's luxuries.
In England the law is one of the most expensive of luxuries and its devotees command the highest regard.
Frederick Chichester came of a long line of illustrious lawyers—one had even reached the distinction of being made a judge. He belonged to an honourable profession.
Chichesters had made the laws of the country in the House of Commons as well as administered them in the Courts.
The old man was overjoyed.
He made a handsome settlement on his eldest daughter on her marriage and felt he had done well by her, even as she had by him.
His son and elder daughter were distinctly a credit to him.
Five years after Monica's birth Angela unexpectedly was born to the Kingsnorths.
A delicate, sickly infant, it seemed as if the splendid blood of the family had expended its vigour on the elder children.
Angela needed constant attention to keep her alive. From tremulous infancy she grew into delicate youth. None of the strict standards Kingsnorth had used so effectually with his other children applied to her. She seemed a child apart.
Not needing her, Kingsnorth did not love her. He gave her a form of tolerant affection. Too fragile to mix with others, she was brought up at home. Tutors furnished her education. The winters she passed abroad with her mother. When her mother died she spent them with relations or friends. The grim dampness of the English climate was too rigorous for a life that needed sunshine.
Angela had nothing in common with either her brother or her sister. She avoided them and they her. They did not understand her: she understood them only too well!
A nature that craved for sympathy and affection—as the frail so often do—was repulsed by those to whom affection was but a form, and sympathy a term of reproach.
She loved all that was beautiful, and, as so frequently happens in such natures as Angela's, she had an overwhelming pity for all that were unhappy. To her God made the world beautiful: man was responsible for its hideousness. From her heart she pitied mankind for abusing the gifts God had showered on them.
It was on her first home-coming since her mother's death that her attention was really drawn to her father's Irish possessions.
By a curious coincidence she returned home the clay following Wilberforce Kingsnorth's electrical speech, invoking Providence to interpose in the settlement of the Irish difficulty. It was the one topic of conversation throughout dinner. And it was during that dinner that Angela for the first time really angered her father and raised a barrier between them that lasted until the day of his death.
The old man had laughed coarsely at the remembrance of his speech on the previous night, and licked his lips at the thought of it.
Monica, who was visiting her father for a few days smiled in agreeable sympathy.
Nathaniel nodded cheerfully.
From her father's side Angela asked quietly:
"Have you ever been in Ireland, father?"
"No, I have not," answered the old man sharply: "And, what is more, I never intend to go there."
"Do you know anything about, the Irish?" persisted Angela.
"Do I? More than the English government does. Don't I own land there?"
"I mean do you know anything about the people?" insisted Angela.
"I know them to be a lot of thieving, rascally scoundrels, too lazy to work, and too dishonest to pay their way, even when they have the money."
"Is that all you know?"
"All!" He stopped eating to look angrily at his daughter. The cross-examination was not to his liking.
Angela went on
"Yes, father; is that all you know about the Irish?"
"Isn't it enough?" His voice rose shrilly. It was the first time for years anyone had dared use those two hated words "Ireland" and "Irish" at his table. Angela must be checked and at once.
Before he could begin to check her, however, Angela answered his question:
"It wouldn't be enough for me if I had the responsibilities and duties of a landlord. To be the owner of an estate should be to act as the people's friend, their father, their adviser in times of plenty and their comrade in times of sorrow."
"Indeed? And pray where did you learn all that, Miss?" asked the astonished parent.
Without noticing the interruption or the question, Angela went on:
"Why deny a country its own government when England is practically governed by its countrymen? Is there any position of prominence today in England that isn't filled by Irishmen? Think. Our Commander-in-Chief is Irish: our Lord High Admiral is Irish: there are the defences of the English in the hands of two Irishmen and yet you call them thieving and rascally scoundrels."
Kingsnorth tried to speak; Angela raised her voice:
"Turn to your judges—the Lord Chief is an Irishman. Look at the House of Commons. Our laws are passed or defeated by the Irish vote, and yet so blindly ignorant and obstinate is our insular prejudice that we refuse them the favours they do us—governing THEMSELVES as well as England."
Kingsnorth looked at his daughter aghast. Treason in his own house! His child speaking the two most hated of all words at his own dinner table and in laudatory terms. He could scarcely believe it. He looked at her a moment and then thundered:
"How dare you! How dare you!"
Angela smiled a little amusedly-tolerant smile as she looked frankly at her father and answered:
"This is exactly the old-fashioned tone we English take to anything we don't understand. And that is why other countries are leaving us in the race. There is a nation living within a few hours' journey from our doors, yet millions of English people are as ignorant of them as if they lived in Senegambia." She paused, looked once more straight into her father's eyes and said: "And you, father, seem to be as ignorant as the worst of them!"
"Angela!" cried her sister in horror.
Nathaniel laughed good-naturedly, leaned across to Angela and said:
"I see our little sister has been reading the sensational magazines. Yes?"
"I've done more than that," replied Angela. "In Nice a month ago were two English members of Parliament who had taken the trouble to visit the country they were supposed to assist in governing. They told me that a condition of misery existed throughout the whole of Ireland that was incredible under a civilised government."
"Radicals, eh?" snapped her father.
"No. Conservatives. One of them had once held the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland and was Ireland's most bitter persecutor, until he visited the country. When he saw the wretchedness of her people he stopped his stringent methods and began casting about for some ways of lessening the poor people's torment."
"The more shame to him to talk like that to a girl. And what's more you had no right to listen to him. A Conservative indeed! A fine one he must be!"
"He is. I don't see why the Liberal party should have all the enlightenment and the Conservative party all the bigotry."
"Don't anger your father," pleaded Monica.
"Why, little Angela has come back to us quite a revolutionary," said Nathaniel.
"Leave the table," shouted her father.
Without a word Angela got up quietly and left the room. Her manner was entirely unmoved. She had spoken from her inmost convictions. The fact that they were opposed to her father was immaterial. She loathed tyranny and his method of shutting the mouths of those who disagreed with him was particularly obnoxious to her. It was also most ineffectual with her. From childhood she had always spoken as she felt. No discipline checked her. Freedom of speech as well as freedom of thought were as natural and essential to her as breathing was.
From that time she saw but little of her father. When he died he left her to her brother's care. Kingsnorth made no absolute provision for her. She was to be dependent on Nathaniel. When the time came that she seemed to wish to marry, if her brother approved of the match, he should make a handsome settlement on her.
In response to her request Nathaniel allowed her to go with him to Ireland on his tour of inspection.
Mr. Chichester was actively engaged at the Old Bailey on an important criminal case, so Monica also joined them.
Everything Angela saw in Ireland appealed to her quick sympathy and gentle heart. It was just as she had thought and read and listened to. On every side she saw a kindly people borne down by the weight of poverty. Lives ruined by sickness and the lack of nourishment. A splendid race perishing through misgovernment and intolerant ignorance.
Angela went about amongst the people and made friends with them. They were chary at first of taking her to their hearts. She was of the hated Saxon race. What was she doing there, she, the sister of their, till now, absentee landlord? She soon won them over by her appealing voice and kindly interest.
All this Angela did in direct opposition to her brother's wishes and her sister's exhortations.
The morning of the meeting she had ridden some mile to visit a poor. family. Out of five three were in bed with low fever. She got a doctor for them, gave them money to buy necessities and, with a promise to return the next day, she rode away. When within some little distance of her brother's house she saw a steady, irregular stream of people climbing a great hill. She rode toward it, and, screened by a clump of trees, saw and heard the meeting.
When O'Connell first spoke his voice thrilled her. Gradually the excitement of the people under the mastery of his power, communicated itself to her. It pulsed in her blood, and throbbed in her brain. For the first time she realised what a marvellous force was the Call of the Patriot. To listen and watch a man risking life and liberty in the cause of his country. Her heart, and her mind and her soul went out to him.
When the soldiers marched on to the scene she was paralysed with fear. When the order to fire was gives she wanted to ride into their midst and cry out to them to stop. But she was unable to move hand or foot.
When the smoke had thinned and she saw the bodies lying motionless on the ground of men who a moment before had been full of life and strength: when was added to that the horror of the wounded crying out with pain, her first impulse was to fly from the sight of the carnage.
She mastered that moment of fear and plunged forward, calling to the groom to follow her.
What immediately followed has already been told.
The long, slow, tortuous journey home: the men slowly following with the ghastly mute-body on the rude litter, became a living memory to her for all the remainder of her life.
She glanced down every little while at the stone-white face and shuddered as she found herself wondering if eke would ever hear his voice again or see those great blue-grey eyes flash with his fierce courage and devotion.
Once only did the lips of the wounded man move. In a moment Angela had dismounted and halted the soldiers. As she bent down over him O'Connell swooned again from pain.
The procession went on.
As they neared her brother's house, stragglers began to follow curiously. Sad looking men and weary women joined the procession wonderingly. All guessed it was some fresh outrage of the soldiers.
Little, ragged, old-young children peered down at the body on the litter and either ran away crying or joined in listlessly with the others.
It was an old story carrying back mutilated men to the village. None was surprised. It seemed to Angela that an infinity of time had passed before they entered the grounds attached to the Kingsnorth house.
She sent a man on ahead to order a room to be prepared and a doctor sent for.
As she saw her brother coming forward to meet her with knit brows and stern eyes she nerved herself to greet him.
"What is this, Angela?" he asked, looking in amazement at the strange procession.
"Another martyr to our ignorant government, Nathaniel," and she pressed on through the drive to the house.
ANGELA SPEAKS HER MIND FREELY TO NATHANIEL
Nathaniel's indignation at his sister's conduct was beyond bounds when he learnt who the wounded man was. He ordered the soldiers to take the man and themselves away.
The magistrate interposed and begged him to at least let O'Connell rest there until a doctor could patch him up. It might be dangerous to take him back without medical treatment. He assured Nathaniel that the moment they could move him he would be lodged in the county-jail.
Nathaniel went back to his study as the sorry procession passed on to the front door.
He sent immediately for his sister.
The reply came back that she would see him at dinner.
He commanded her to come to him at once.
In a few minutes Angela came into the room. She was deathly pale. Her voice trembled as she spoke:
"What do you want?"
"Why did you bring that man here?"
"Because he is wounded."
"Such scoundrels are better dead."
"I don't think so. Nor do I think him a scoundrel."
"He came here to attack landlords—to attack ME. ME! And YOU bring him to MY house and with that RABBLE. It's outrageous! Monstrous!"
"I couldn't leave him with those heartless wretches to die in their hands."
"He leaves here the moment a doctor has attended him."
"Very well. Is that all?"
"No, it isn't!" Kingsnorth tried to control his anger. After a pause he continued:
"I want no more of these foolhardy, quixotic actions of yours. I've heard of your visiting these wretched people—going into fever dens. Is that conduct becoming your name? Think a little of your station in life and what it demands."
"I wish YOU did a little more."
"What?" he shouted, all his anger returned.
"There's no need to raise your voice," Angela answered quietly. "I am only a few feet away. I repeat that I wish you thought a little more of your obligations. If you did and others like you in the same position you are in, there would be no such horrible scenes as I saw to-day; a man shot down amongst his own people for speaking the truth."
"You SAW it?" Nathaniel asked in dismay.
"I did. I not only SAW, but I HEARD. I wish you had, too. I heard a man lay bare his heart and his brain and his soul that others might knew the light in them. I saw and heard a man offer up his life that others might know some gleam of happiness in THEIR lives. It was wonderful! It was heroic! It was God-like!"
"If I ever hear of you doing such a thing again, you shall go back to London the next day."
"That sounds exactly as though my dead father were speaking."
"I'll not be made a laughing-stock by you."
"You make yourself one as your father did before you. A Kingsnorth! What has your name meant? Because one of our forefathers cheated the world into giving him a fortune, by buying his goods for more than they were worth, we have tried to canonise him and put a halo around the name of Kingsnorth. To me it stands for all that is mean and selfish and vain and ignorant. The power of money over intellect. How did we become owners of this miserable piece of land? A Kingsnorth swindled its rightful owner. Lent him money on usury, bought up his bills and his mortgages and when he couldn't pay foreclosed on him. No wander there's a curse on the village and on us!"
Kingsnorth tried to speak, but she stopped him:
"Wait a moment. It was a good stroke of business taking this estate away. Oh yes, it was a good stroke of business. Our name has been built up on 'good strokes of business.' Well, I tell you it's a BAD stroke of business when human lives are put into the hands of such creatures as we Kingsnorths have proved ourselves!"
"Stop!" cried Nathaniel, outraged to the innermost sanctuary of his being. "Stop! You don't speak like one of our family. It is like listening to some heretic—some—"
"I don't feel like one of your family. YOU are a KINGSNORTH. I am my MOTHER'S child. My poor, gentle, patient mother, who lived a life of unselfish resignation: who welcomed death, when it came to her, as a release from tyranny. Don't call ME a Kingsnorth. I know the family too well. I know all the name means to the people who have suffered through YOUR FAMILY."
"After this—the best thing—the only thing—is to separate," said Nathaniel.
"Whenever you wish."
"I'll make you an allowance."
"Don't let it be a burden."
"I've never been so shocked—so stunned—"
"I am glad. From my cradle I've been shocked and stunned—in my home. It's some compensation to know you are capable of the feeling, too. Frankly, I didn't think you were."
"We'll talk no more of this," and Nathaniel began to pace the room.
"I am finished," and Angela went to the door.
"It would be better we didn't meet again—in any event—not often," added Nathaniel.
"Thank you," said Angela, opening the door. He motioned her to close it, that he had something more to say.
"We'll find you some suitable chaperone. You can spend your winters abroad, as you have been doing. London for the season—until you're suitably married. I'll follow out my father's wishes to the letter. You shall be handsomely provided for the day you marry."
She closed the door with a snap and came back to him and looked him steadily in the eyes.
"The man I marry shall take nothing from you. Even in his 'last will and testament' my father proved himself a Kingsnorth. It was only a Kingsnorth could make his youngest daughter dependent on YOU!"
"My father knew I would respect his wishes."
"He was equally responsible for me, yet he leaves me to YOUR care. A Kingsnorth!"
"The men MASTERS and the women SLAVES!"
"That is the Kingsnorth doctrine."
"It is a pity our father didn't live a little longer. There are many changes coming into this old grey world of ours and one of them is the real, honourable position of woman. The day will come in England when we will wring from our fathers and our brothers as our right what is doled out to us now as though we were beggars."
"And they are trying to govern the country of Ireland in the same way. The reign of the despot. Well, THAT is nearly over too—even as woman's degrading position to-day is almost at an end."
"Have you finished?"
Once again Angela went to the door. Nathaniel said in a somewhat changed tone:
"As it is your wish this man should be cared for, I'll do it. When he is well enough to be moved, the magistrate will take him to jail. But, for the little while we shall be here, I beg you not to do anything so unseemly again."
A servant came in to tell Angela the doctor had come. Without a word. Angela went out to see to the wounded man.
The servant followed her.
Left alone, Nathaniel sat down, shocked and stunned, to review the interview he had just had with his youngest sister.
THE WOUNDED PATRIOT
When Angela entered the sick-room she found Dr. McGinnis, a cheery, bright-eyed, rotund little man of fifty, talking freely to the patient and punctuating each speech with a hearty laugh. His good-humour was infectious.
The wounded agitator felt the effect of it and was trying to laugh feebly himself.
"Sure it's the fine target ye must have made with yer six feet and one inch. How could the poor soldiers help hittin' ye? Answer me that?" and the jovial doctor laughed again as he dexterously wound a bandage around O'Connell's arm.
"Aisy now while I tie the bandage, me fine fellow. Ye'll live to see the inside of an English jail yet."
He turned as he heard the door open and greeted Angela.
"Good afternoon to ye, Miss Kingsnorth. Faith, it's a blessin' ye brought the boy here. There's no tellin' What the prison-surgeon would have done to him. It is saltpetre, they tell me, the English doctors rub into the Irish wounds, to kape them smartin'. And, by the like token, they do the same too in the English House of Commons. Saltpetre in Ireland's wounds is what they give us."
"Is he much hurt?" asked Angela.
"Well, they've broken nothin'. Just blackened his face and made a few holes in his skin. It's buckshot they used. Buckshot! Thank the merciful Mr. Forster for that same. 'Buckshot-Forster,' as the Irish reverently call him."
Angela flushed with indignation as she looked at the crippled man.
"What a dastardly thing to do," she cried.
"Ye may well say that, Miss Kingsnorth," said the merry little doctor. "But it's betther than a bullet from a Martini-Henry rifle, that's what it is. And there's many a poor English landlord's got one of 'em in the back for ridin' about at night on his own land. It's a fatherly government we have, Miss Kingsnorth. 'Hurt 'em, but don't quite kill 'em,' sez they; 'and then put 'em in jail and feed them on bread and wather. That'll take the fine talkin' and patriotism out of them,' sez they."
"They'll never take it out of me. They may kill me, perhaps, but until they do they'll never silence me," murmured O'Connell in a voice so low, yet so bitter, that it startled Angela.
"Ye'll do that all in good time, me fine boy," said the busy little doctor. "Here, take a pull at this," and he handed the patient a glass in which he had dropped a few crystals into some water.
As O'Connell drank the mixture Dr. McGinnis said in a whisper to Angela:
"Let him have that every three hours: oftener if he wants to talk. We've got to get his mind at rest. A good sleep'll make a new man of him."
"There's no danger?" asked Angela in the same tone.
"None in the wurrld. He's got a fine constitution and mebbe the buckshot was pretty clean. I've washed them out well."
"To think of men shot down like dogs for speaking of their country. It's horrible! It's wicked! It's monstrous."
"Faith, the English don't know what else to do with them, Miss. It's no use arguin' with the like of him. That man lyin' on that bed 'ud talk the hind-foot off a heifer. The only way to kape the likes of him quiet is to shoot him, and begob they have."
"I heard you, doctor," came from the bed. "If they'd killed me to-day there would be a thousand voices would rise all over Ireland to take the place of mine. One martyr makes countless converts."
"Faith, I'd rather kape me own life than to have a hundred thousand spakin' for me and me dead. Where's the good that would be doin' me? Now kape still there all through the beautiful night, and let the blessed medicine quiet ye, and the coolin' ointment aize yer pain. I'll come in by-and-by on the way back home. I'm goin' up beyant 'The Gap' to some poor people with the fever. But I'll be back."
"Thank you, Dr. McGinnis."
"Is it long yer stayin' here?" and the little man picked up his hat.
"I don't know," said Angela. "I hardly think so."
"Well, it's you they'll miss when ye're gone, Miss Kingsnorth. Faith if all the English were like you this sort of thing couldn't happen."
"We don't try to understand the people, doctor. We just govern them blindly and ignorantly."
"Faith it's small blame to the English. We're a mighty hard race to make head nor tail of. And that's a fact. Prayin' at Mass one minnit and maimin' cattle the next. Cryin' salt tears at the bedside of a sick child, and lavin' it to shoot a poor man in the ribs for darin' to ask for his rint."
"They're not IRISHMEN," came from the sick bed.
"Faith and they are NOW. And it's small wondher the men who sit in Whitehall in London trate them like savages."
"I've seen things since I've been here that would justify almost anything!" cried Angela. "I've seen suffering no one in England dreamt of. Misery, that London, with all its poverty and wretchedness, could not compare with. Were I born in Ireland I should be proud to stake my liberty and my life to protect my own people from such horrible brutality."
The wounded man opened his eyes and looked full at Angela. It was a look at once of gratitude and reverence and admiration.
Her heart leaped within her.
So far no man in the little walled-in zone she had lived in had ever stirred her to an even momentary enthusiasm. They were all so fatuously contented with their environment. Sheltered from birth, their anxiety was chiefly how to make life pass the pleasantest. They occasionally showed a spasmodic excitement over the progress of a cricket or polo match. Their achievements were largely those of the stay-at-home warriors who fought with the quill what others faced death with the sword for. Their inertia disgusted her. Their self-satisfaction spurred her to resentment.
Here was a man in the real heart of life. He was engaged in a struggle that makes existence worth while—the effort to bring a message to his people.
How all the conversations she was forced to listen to in her narrow world rose up before her in their carping meannesses! Her father's brutal diatribes against a people, unfortunate enough to be compelled, from force of circumstance, to live on a portion of land that belonged to him, yet in whose lives he took no interest whatsoever. His only anxiety was to be paid his rents. How, and through what misery, his tenants scraped the money together to do it with, mattered nothing to him. All that DID matter was that he MUST BE PAID.
Then arose a picture of her sister Monica, with her puny social pretensions. Recognition of those in a higher grade bread and meat and drink to her. Adulation and gross flattery the very breath of her nostrils.
Her brother's cheap, narrow platitudes about the rights of rank and wealth.
To Angela wealth had no rights except to bring happiness to the world. It seemed to bring only misery once people acquired it. Grim sorrow seemed to stalk in the trail of the rich.
She could not recall one moment of real, unfeigned happiness among her family. The only time she could remember her father smiling or chuckling was at some one else's misfortune, or over some cruel thing he had said himself.
Her sister's joy over some little social triumph—usually at the cost of the humiliation of another.
Her brother's cheeriness over some smart stroke of business in which another firm was involved to their cost.
The memory of her mother was the only link that bound her to her childhood. The gentle, uncomplaining spirit of her: the unselfish abnegation of her: the soul's tragedy of her—giving up her life at the altar of duty, at the bidding of a hardened despot.
All Angela's childhood came back in a brief illuminating flash. The face of her one dear, dead companion—her mother—glowed before her. How her mother would have cared for and tended, and worshipped a man even as the one lying riddled on that bed of suffering! All the best in Angela was from her mother. All the resolute fighting quality was from her father. She would use both now in defence of the wounded man. She would tend him and care for him, and see that no harm came to him.