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fear began to pervade me as Beecher entered into it. I had scarcely nerve to inquire,

'Is it in this street you live, Tom?'

'Never guessed truer in your life, old boy,' was the frank reply; and before I had recovered the first shock of the many misgivings called up by that piece of information, I stood with him at the very door of the habitation, whose lady occupant had given me such a lesson in discretion a few hours before, and read on the brass plate that it was the domicile of Mr. Thomas Beecher.

And she was his wife! The discovery utterly overwhelmed me. I felt myself dragged to the very jaws of destruction like a criminal whom some uncontrollable destiny urges to his punishment. Instinct bade me fly; but she might as well have held her tongue, for I had lost the very power of motion; and even had I possessed it, was unable to frame the commonest excuse for such a procedure. I was thus led unresisting into the hall, delivered my hat and gloves to the servant, and stood committed before my consciousness returned. Mrs. Beecher had gone out in the carriage, and was expected back every moment, was the answer given to my entertainer, when he inquired for his wife. So far fortune seemed willing to repair the damage she had done me. I had at least a few moments granted to collect my scattered senses, and lay down some plan to extricate myself. One of two lines I saw that I should adopt,-either make a frank confession, and get myself kicked out at once; or boldly stand my ground, and run the chance of Mrs. B. possessing discretion enough to hold her tongue until such time as I should be able by the most suppliant apologies to disarm her resentment, if such a blessed opportunity should ever occur. Hopeless as was this latter alternative, I concluded by adopting it.

A long and terrible period of suspense followed. I doubt if there was a single chair in the drawing-room which I did not occupy in its turn in the interim, as I fidgeted about, searching for peace on each of them, and finding it as uneasy as the other. Fortunately for me, Beecher still rattled on, either not noticing my restlessness and agony at all, or else probably, in the simplicity of his heart, attributing it to mauvaise honte. At last a carriage was heard approaching. With the unfailing instinct of fear I detected the sound, when to any other ear it would have been imperceptible. Before the vehicle turned into the street at all, I could have sworn it was bearing my doom, and I was right. Beecher looked out of the window.

'Here she comes!' exclaimed he eagerly. Excuse me, Hugh, for a moment,' and he bolted down stairs to receive his wife, leaving me to muster my courage for the dreaded interview, which was now inevitable.

Courage, indeed! it's easy to talk about it. A man may have pluck enough to stand quietly ten paces from the muzzle of a pistol now and then, when a reasonable occasion requires him, or face his nag against a seven foot wall when it stands between him and the sport; but, by the powers! I'll never take such demonstrations as these for courage again. They are but trifles to the trials I underwent in that quiet, silent drawing-room, alone, nothing to keep up the steam. With such an infernal and unforeseen éclaircissement hanging over me, involving such an utter downfall of all the hopes and schemes which led me with their bright promises from the retirement of Lisnisky;

all my innocent attempts at fascination converted by some malign influence into the most unimaginable atrocities, and that, too, against the wife of the only friend I had within sixty miles, from whom I now stood a much better chance of getting a kicking than decent entertainment, of being treated as a recreant than as a knight-errant, detected in such an aggravated offence after winging poor Mr. O'Fogarty for merely perpetrating a joke on the sisterhood of Roscommon; and then, the ridicule; why I had nothing to expect but to be the standing jest of Connaught for the next three generations at least. Oh! that I had never pretended to chivalry! Oh! that I had never been tempted to pass the Shannon! How gladly would I have consented to return home by easy stages, at the rate of a duel a mile, if I could but get out of this scrape undetected; but such a hope was vain. I could already in anticipation feel the toe of Beecher's boot. To sit still was impossible.

I heard the carriage drive off, the hall-door close. In another minute my fate was to be decided. It occurred to me to levant through the window. Alas! when I reconnoitred, I observed a bristling row of iron spikes, twelve feet beneath, upon which I should necessarily be impaled in such an attempt-a mode of quitting the world highly discreditable to any man of delicate feelings, and, moreover, open to many ugly insinuations. A beggar-boy was strolling along the street, whistling carelessly. Oh! what would I not have given to be able to change places with him unobserved; ay, or even to give one good whistle.

My sufferings were cruelly protracted; doors opened and closed; footsteps passed to and fro, but none came up. At last, after a considerable and unaccountable delay, the softly-carpeted stairs gave note of warning. I shrank into the farthest and darkest corner of the room, having previously drawn down the window-blinds, in the hope of preventing immediate recognition at least, and thus affording me a chance of making my peace in the mean time. The door opened. 'Hey! what the deuce is all this?' exclaimed Beecher, as he en. tered with his lady. Where are you, Hugh, and why have you enveloped yourself in all this darkness? afraid of startling Mrs. Beecher, I suppose, by too sudden an appearance ?-thoughtful, faith! Well, Emily, this unseen and considerate gentleman is Mr. Hugh Kelly, the resuscitator of chivalry, the champion of womankind, the ensanguined defender of Roscommon and its purity, a lion in the field, truculent and merciless, but a very lamb in the drawing-room; so you needn't be at all frightened when you see him. Appear, Hugh, in the mildest form you can assume, appear, and know Mrs. Thomas Beecher.' And, so saying, he, with a most imposing mimicry of tragic seriousness, drew up the blind, and disclosed me, trembling and humbled, to the view of the lady.

'What!' she exclaimed, starting back, with an expression of unmitigated surprise, which I, at least, knew to be unaffected, but which Beecher, misinterpreting as an attempt to enter into the spirit of his joke, applauded until the room rang with his laughter. What!' continued the astonished Mrs. B., 'this-this-are you really, sir, Mr. Hugh Kelly?'

Oh, by Jove! this is too good!' roared Beecher; she expected you to have appeared in a coat of mail, or in the likeness of Rawhead and bloody-bones, at the very least.'

'Yes, ma'am,' I ventured to reply in a scarcely audible voice; and I trust I shall be able to win your forgiveness for whatever offence my appearance has ever given you.' She looked at me, and then at him; the angry flush began to fade from her brow; she saw me shrinking confused and conscious, him enjoying the scene with the wildest mirth; the utter absurdity of our different positions struck her at last, so, making a demure courtesy, she welcomed me to Dublin, wishing at the same time that I might soon be able to find a suitable subject for my knight-errantry. I was safe: the load was taken off my heart. She thought me an ass, it is true; but her thinking so had saved me from ass's treatment, and I was thankful.

Alas! I soon found what an anomaly it is in a man to pronounce himself safe so long as he is at the mercy of a woman. Every moment during dinner I was reminded of my danger; now a sly allusion; now a mischievous glance of half-subdued enjoyment plunged me into a fever of apprehension, from which the good-natured exertions of my puzzled but amused host were vainly used to rouse me. 'There's Kelly trying to catch your eye, my love,' said he, when the first course was removing.

'Let me assure you, Tom,' she drily answered, 'it would make you quite jealous if I were to tell you how successful Mr. Kelly has been in his endeavours to catch my eye.'

'Now for it,' thought I, as I bowed to the malignant beauty, and with a vehement effort gulped down a glass of port to prepare me for what was coming; but no, it was all heathen Greek to Tom. He had already in his own imagination discovered a sufficient cause for her mirth, and a sufficient meaning for her double entendres, and the burst of ringing laughter with which she received my deprecatory glances, confirmed him in his mistake.

"Well, Hugh,' said he, 'joking apart, and without the least intention in life of giving you offence, but out of pure, irrepressible curiosity, will you favour me by informing me who the deuce made that coat?'

Oh! Mickey Neale-Mickey Neale! tailor-in-chief of Lisnisky, and the parts adjacent, often in the bitterness of my heart I had cursed you that day, when observing the many quizzical glances thrown upon the unfortunate garment in question, the very triumph of your art, when in the simplicity of my heart I sported it in the streets among the more correctly decorated: little did I think I should so soon have cause to bless its very deformity for creating such an unforeseen diversion in my favour. My hopes rose again, and higher than ever; for, with a reasonable and fertile provocation for her misplaced hilarity, there was little danger of any éclaircissement being produced by the true explanation of it. There's good in everything, if people had only eyes to see it; but I flatter myself I am the first who ever discovered the advantage of wearing a laughable coat. With something more of self-possession than I had felt since my entry into the house, I answered Beecher's question; and, following the clue with which he had so unintentionally supplied me, commenced recounting sundry anecdotes of Mickey à-propos to his handiwork, some false, some true, but all calculated to the best of my power to keep up the laughter under which I expected to escape; and I succeeded, and at last had the indescribable felicity of closing the door after my tormentor, shutting her and her infernal secret, and all the cares it had cost me, altogether

out of our symposium, feeling on the occasion like a man who, after spending the night dreaming that he was sitting on a volcano, is. awakened to be told that his thirty-first cousin is dead, and has left him a thousand a-year.

'Hugh,' said Beecher to me rather gravely as I was resuming my seat, and rubbing my hands with glee, 'draw over your chair. I want to have some serious conversation with you.'

My heart sunk within me; in vain I struggled to rid myself of the presentiment that sooner or later I would suffer the condign for my misdemeanour, and everything accordingly frightened me. With a ghastly smile, I intimated to him to proceed, which he did in manner following, after emptying his glass, and replenishing it and mine.

'There are feelings, Hugh, that lie too deep to be understood in their full extent by others-why don't you drink your wine, man?feelings of the most sacred character, which will not bear the slightest violation. I'll thank you for the sherry.-Some months ago I could not have understood them myself; at present they must be unintelligible to you.-Perhaps you'd rather have punch? - You know, however, what a man would feel on being personally insulted; multiply that a hundred-fold-(empty that glass, will you?)-multiply that a hundred-fold, and you may form some idea of what a husband feels when an insult is offered to his wife!'

'Oh, dear!-oh, dear!' I ejaculated to myself, 'will I never be out of this terrible scrape?' There was no mistaking what he was driving at, so I edged round as near to the door as I could, in order to be ready to bolt at the slightest warning, muttering at the same time something about my deep respect for Mrs. Beecher.

'Emily has complained to me since her return,' continued he, 'of a very gross insult that was offered to her this morning, into which the duties of a husband command me to inquire most rigidly.' So he knew it all the time, and was merely shamming his ignorance in order to lull me into a deceptive security.

'Pray don't say another word,' I stammered forth with difficulty. I'll set all to rights if you only allow me-only let me say a few words, just


Thank you, Hugh-thank you!' said he, interrupting me, and seizing my hand with a most unaccountable expression of cordiality, before I was able to frustrate his attempt, and get out of his reach: 'I'm sure you will, and I can't but regard it as fortunate that I should have met you just at the time when I was likely to require your assistance and experience; for, though Emily, poor thing! doesn't for a moment imagine what will be the result of her communication, you will at once see how I must act; but to the point :-'

I was in a maze; could it be that he didn't suspect me to be the individual complained of? There was a chance of safety for me still, and I listened eagerly to his continuation.

'You must know the house opposite mine is a boarding house, and I have been frequently annoyed by its inmates previously, but to-day in particular. D-e! but I'll break every bone in the fellow's body don't you think I ought?'

Oh! be calm-be calm, Beecher,' said I, in a far more lugubrious tone than I wished, it being no part of my desire that he should perceive the interest I took in the well-doing of the incognito so menaced.

'Calm-pooh! just listen,' continued my host, throwing off a glass of wine to keep his indignation from cooling. A fellow, a ruffian, some ignorant puppy or another, who has got himself planted in one. of the front-rooms, has taken it into his head to play the spy into my apartments; and not content with that, had the audacity (may the devil fly away with him! I can hardly tell the story)-he has had the assurance this very day, after inspecting my wife dressing herself (she of course never dreaming of a spectator); not content with that, and lest she should be ignorant of the insult already offered, as soon as she had concluded, and his curiosity was satisfied, he raised his window, and publicly kissed hands to her, and played off I know not how many more mummeries.'

'Shameful!' exclaimed I, with affected indignation, as was expect. ed from me, after hearing such a graphic account of my indiscretion, 'shameful, indeed! but the poor creature may be mad-must be mad, in fact, and ought to be looked after; or-or-probably, you know, there may be some mistake, you know, and then


'Curse it, no,' replied the irate husband, interrupting me. soon satisfy you on that point,' and he pulled the bell-rope.

'What-what are you about?' exclaimed I, in utter dismay, imagining he intended to submit Mrs. B. to my examination on the subject. The servant appeared.


Send up Betty,' was the direction given to him, and he disappeared on his mission. You must know,' continued he to me, 'that she was a witness to the whole affair; in fact, I believe, shared the fellow's attentions on some previous occasions, until he raised his pretensions higher-for I find that according to her report this is a nuisance of old standing-at least she says she has repeatedly observed him at his post, and would know him among a million.'

What the deuce! All the dangers I had passed were as nothing to this one. I sprang from my seat the moment I obtained a clear conception of my peril, and placed my back to the door just as the Abigail laid her hand outside on the handle to open it and enter. Beecher looked at me in amazement, and rose from his chair. The chambermaid pushed against the door, but I retained my post.

"Tut-tut!' said I, in a voice almost stifled with terror, 'this would never do: you don't know what devils these chambermaids are. She would smoke your designs in a moment, and alarm the whole house, perhaps the whole neighbourhood. For mercy's sake tell her to go about her business; do, now, and I'll explain the whole thing to you. I assure you have a most particular reason for not wishing her to come in. There, now, say you don't want her.' To make all sure, I turned the key.

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'Really I can't understand what you 're about,' was the stammering remark of the master of the house, whose authority I had so unceremoniously arrogated. How the deuce can the servants suspect but you're an attorney going to prosecute the rascal? You forget that Betty doesn't know you at all,-never saw you in her life.'


'Oh! who can tell that they 're as sharp as needles,' said I, in extenuation of my abruptness; there's no knowing what she might say,-what whim she might take into her head.'

'Hang me if I ever saw a Connaughtman in my life so much afraid of encountering womankind,' was his natural comment after he dismissed the chambermaid; but, as you are determined to have your

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