Obrazy na stronie

monstrances that she was nursed knowledge to the grave with her. back again to life and health. I am quite aware that she may not There was a similar instance in have had real cases of cancer to the illness of a stalwart labourer deal with and there are numbercalled Barry. He also had received less other objections which might the viaticum, and his wife would be raised to the supposition that do nothing more for him, only she had a secret of so much value to watching by his bedside till he the world. I can only say that no should pass away. My sister took doubt was ever mentioned at the him some jelly, found him looking time, and that all my family better, and insisted on feeding him believed that she did what she with the jelly herself in spite of professed to do. the tears and remonstrances of his The beggars of the country-side wife and daughters. My sister told were a very important part of its me that the wistful look in the people, and they used to go the poor man's face was inexpressibly round of all the houses, visiting touching. Barry recovered, and each at regular intervals, and many years later was one of the making sure of receiving charity men who carried my father to his in one form or another. When grave.

they made their visits they would One often hears of the sad come and stand outside the house deaths that occur from cancer, and until they received notice. They many a time I have wondered knew each of the family familiwhether the world has not lost a arly by name, and took the livecure or even a mitigation of this liest interest in all our doings. fearful malady. There was an old They were never allowed to go to Mrs Corrigan in our village who the back of the house and have was the last possessor of a secret dealings with the servants, but method for its treatment. I re- always received their dole at the member two instances at least front-door from one of ourselves. in which she effected a perfect It would be considered odd nowacure, and these were vouched for days to hand out a plate of victuals by the Protestant clergyman of from the luncheon-table to a ragged our parish. The cases had been creature on the doorstep, but this diagnosed by a qualified medical was done, besides giving some man, who could offer no chance trifle of money. The plate, knife, of cure except by an operation. and fork were always carefully Mrs Corrigan took them in hand, handed in again after the food and the clergyman said that her was consumed.

Some of the beg. treatment was the application of gars were very eccentric characcertain herbal infusions, which ters, and one in particular, Miss resulted in the whole diseased Daly, would in England have part coming away as if it had probably been put into an asylum. been drawn up by the roots. She used to go about dressed in The patients never subsequently scraps of faded finery, and was suffered in any way.

It was often always a very grotesque figure. proposed that some scientific man Weak in intellect she certainshould try to get Mrs Corrigan to ly was, but she had more wits disclose her secret, if she really than she generally received credit had one to tell, but the opportunity for possessing, and could somewas lost, and she died, taking her times say a sharp thing. One of


fighting if it ever came to that. the squadron was on its way from There was ample employment pro- barracks to a village some miles vided for us, however, and I think beyond our house in the opposite we were quite sufficiently prepared direction, he said we might all go to take our parts.

to bed ; if the soldiers had been My father was very particular going the other way, there might that all his arrangements should have been some cause for alarm, be strictly carried out, and he but, as it was, we need not be inspected every detail nightly to anxious. see that all was in order. Once There was an alarm-signal preor twice he gave a false alarm in concerted between our house and the middle of the night, and was our friends in the village to give very angry with my brothers, who mutual warning in case of danger. carelessly had not placed their A bell tolled in the village would shoes and clothes quite ready to inform us of an outbreak there, put on. I often wonder now at and a gun-shot from our house the matter-of-course way in which would tell the world that we were we took all these arrangements. threatened with attack. How None of us were, I think, nervous, often I have wakened at night, though we had to clamber over having dreamed that I heard the obstructions when went to alarm-bell, and remained for long bed, and we never knew that we anxiously wondering whether the might not be awakened by the noise ringing in my ears was real noise of firearms. We believed or imaginary! Everybody knows at the time, and I am pretty sure

that the Fenian conspiracy came that it was really the case, that my to nothing ; but our fears were father would have received secret by no

groundless and, warning of an attack from some though our preparations were of the country-people, who had a never put to the test, it was ungreat regard for him, before any questionably right and prudent thing was attempted against the that they should have been made. house. If such a warning had come,

We knew afterwards that we might have been able to send county was described in the confor assistance, but my father was spirators' roll of their strength as resolved to be ready for any emer "weak but willing." gency. Some of our garrison used little want of precaution on the to patrol near the house and to part of the Government, and the wards the village every evening loyal people might have given to after nightfall. They always had a the Fenians the strength that was password and, when they returned wanting to them. to the house, they had to give the No Irish house would be compassword before they were allowed plete without its share of the to enter. There was great excite supernatural, and I am bound to ment one night when the patrol say that I believed at the time came home in a great hurry, say of their occurrence, and I still ing that the rebellion had certain believe, that many unaccountable ly broken out, for a squadron of and well - authenticated circumthe —th had just passed the gate. stances have come within my We all thought that my father personal knowledge, however they would have at once prepared for may now be explained by persons the worst, but when he heard that who do not allow that "there are



A very

more things in heaven and earth," known saw and heard a pack of &c. The ghost or revenant which hounds hunting through the woods. belonged to our house I have The owner of the property, a colnever seen though I have often onel in the army, was one of them, heard it. A certain gentleman, and was, in the first instance, known familiarly as “Red Cap," very much annoyed that anybody used to drive up to the hall-door should have had hounds out on and from thence to the stables, his grounds on such a day. He which were at some little distance, thought that some of the county and sometimes be has been seen to hounds had possibly got away from drive a pair of grey horses round their kennels and were hunting on the stable-yard. There can be no their own account and sent to doubt that I, as well as all my inquire if this was the case; but family, have often heard most no, the hounds had remained quiet distinctly a carriage drive past the all that day. Then he sent to house, with the regular beat of the rather a wild young gentleman horses' feet and the grinding of who kept a pack of harriers and wheels, when there was no pos- might have forgotten propriety so sible known origin for the peculiar far as to have them out on a and well-marked sounds.

So ac

Sunday. But he also could show customed were we to the occur that he and his harriers had been rence that we paid no attention at home. The curious thing was to it, and I remember that fre- that a telegram was shortly afterquently, when we had company in wards received, saying that the the evening, a stranger would ask colonel's brother and heir had who was the late arrival and would died of cholera in India. The be told, “Oh, it's nothing. facts of the hunting-hounds having only Red Cap,” very much to his been seen by so many people and or her astonishment when the ex the death which immediately folplanation was given. The story lowed caused a great deal of reran that, in olden days, a member mark at the time and have never of a county family had been shot yet received any commonplace at our gate and that his unquiet explanation. spirit still often revisited the scene At the same house, when I of his death. But “Red Cap's” myself was staying there on a visits had no particular meaning visit, occurred incidents and did not portend either disaster which made a very deep impresor good fortune. It was very sion on me, and indeed on all the different with occurrences at a other guests.

I daresay many country house, the property of readers may know that peacocks one of our oldest friends. There are supposed, by unusual conduct, before the death of one of the to presage misfortune. Neither I family, a pack of hounds was said nor most, at any rate, of the other to be always seen hunting in the inmates of House at the time woods near the house. I had often I speak of knew of this belief, so heard that when the old squire, a the sequel of the circumstances contemporary of my grandfather, which I shall relate struck died, many people saw the hounds with peculiar force and vividness. in full cry; but I know that, on A lady staying in the house had one Sunday in my own recollec- a young child with her which had tion, several people who were well been ailing for some days. One



evening she came down-stairs in cared afterwards to talk of peavery low spirits after nursing her cocks and their ways. child all day and said, “I'm sure Another house in our old county I must give up all hope, for the belongs to Lord and it is peacock has come round to my said that before the death of the side of the house, and all to-day head of the family foxes are alit has been sitting on the window- ways seen sitting on the doorstep sill.” Of course all the rest of of the house. Only one of the the party pooh-poohed the notion, Lords — has died in my time, and tried to cheer her a little. and it is well known that two foxes No one

was more emphatic in were seen during all the day prescorning the idea that the peacock vious to the good old man's death could give a bad omen than a playing about on the lawns, and young man of the highest promise, in the early morning of the day and extremely popular with all of itself they were seen sitting on us, as he was in every society. the doorsteps. As the house is Nothing that could be said brought in the heart of the best hunting any confidence or comfort to the country in Ireland, where foxes mother, however, and to our great are most carefully preserved, persorrow her forebodings were justi- haps it is too much to say that fied, for the poor child died during the sight of a fox or foxes has the following night. Even then there, at any time, any unusual none of us thought any more about significance. the peacock, or, if we

To pass to what was a case of bered its conduct at all, we only very curiously justified foreboding. looked upon it as a strange coinci. There was a piano-tuner who used dence. The mother with her dead to come from Dublin periodically child left the house and about two to tune our piano and do the same days afterwards the young man

service in the various country whom I mentioned above told us houses. He had an unconquerat breakfast, “If I was inclined able dread of being drowned and to be superstitious, I should be could never be induced to enter afraid that something was going a boat or trust himself on water to happen to me next, for the under any conditions. peacock now insists upon haunt- he met his death by drowning in ing my side of the house, and has

a very strange manner.

He was been sitting on my window-sill.” in an omnibus in Dublin which by As he was in the best of spirits, some accident was capsized while and apparently in the highest crossing a bridge over the canal, health, we all joined with him in and, falling over the low parapet, laughing at the implied warning was precipitated into the lock. by the bird. He left us on either The water was only a foot or two that or the following day, and the deep and there was no reason why next we heard of him was that he the passengers should not all have had suddenly taken ill, and had been extricated at the cost of a died in London. The shock of few broken bones and bruises. If the death of one to whom we the result had not been so ghastly, were all so much attached was the peculiarly Irish train of the terrible, and I do not think that canal-lock-keeper's reasoning would any one who was of the small be in the highest degree droll. He party at

House at that time felt he ought to do something when

And yet

he saw the accident and, thinking of my youth in a dear home, and that the simplest way of getting have been led into the too common the omnibus out would be to float weakness of chronicling small beer; it, forthwith turned on all the but, however they may appear to water into the lock. Several—I others, these trifling events are to forget how many—of the inside me part of a happy time which has passengers were drowned, and left -amongst them the unfortunate

Deposited upon

the silent shore piano-tuner.

precious I fear it may be said that I

Of memory, images and

thoughts have overrated the interest attach That shall not die and cannot be ing to some of the trifling events destroyed."

« PoprzedniaDalej »