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all the honours of the championship to be out of hearing of this undisguised preference of a rival, who had so coolly deserted, and under such unfavourable auspices.
'Oh, poor Frank!-poor, poor Frank!' she continued to exclaim ever and anon, when her convulsive sobs permitted her to apply her tongue to that very indifferent use.
"By my word, Miss Seymour,' said I at length, nettled beyond forbearance, your lamentations seem to be very much wasted on that gentleman; to all appearance he placed too high a value on his personal liberty to let it stand in jeopardy in any case where a quick pair of heels could secure it to him.'
'But,' she answered passionately, if he is caught he'll be ruined.'
I had a great mind to tell her in reply, that in regard of ruination, as far as my opinion went, the boy was past praying for already; but where was the use of it? She evidently loved him, and didn't seem much inclined to love him less for his misfortunes. To me she was lost for ever, and I could well afford to be generous on the occasion. I therefore determined to give her such a hint of the character and views of her swain's associate as would form an easy clue to him if he had but the sense to follow it.
'Pray, Miss Seymour,' said I with this intent, do you know a gentleman named Hall?"
'Yes,' she faintly answered, a good deal startled by the question. 'A dashing sort of customer,' continued I, 'dark eyes and hair, whiskers ad libitum, and as much gold round his neck and fingers as would redeem a Galway mortgage.'
The same, I should think,' she replied, in the same tone, and growing rather pale.
'And, perhaps,' said I, 'your acquaintance further extends to a person of the name of Desmond.'
'I have heard of him,' said she, scarce able to answer with some overpowering emotion. Why do you ask me?'
'Because,' I answered, as I quit this country to-morrow, I would wish first to do one act of duty which chance has thrown in my way. I have happened to discover that both these persons are engaged in a swindling confederacy, and have already succeeded in my presence of defrauding of a very large sum your your that gentleman whom I saw in your company to-day. In fact, I overheard them arrange to sue him forthwith on some bond which they have obtained from him, and it is more than probable that his present dilemma is the consequence of their conspiracy.'
'It is it is!' she exclaimed breathlessly. He told me this morning he was afraid of Desmond; but Hall - Hall,' and her voice sank as she named him. 'Oh! Mr. Donnellan, he thinks that wretch is his bosom friend.'
'I was aware of that,' I replied, and he will find no difficulty in disconcerting their villainy, if he only follows the clue I have now given you. Hall seems desirous to have him in his power on account of some lady. The reason of this he will understand him
'Oh! too well-too well!' she said with a shudder: 'but you must
see him, and tell him yourself. Hall knows the very spot where he has concealed himself, and will betray him; it is in L, where he lodged in the spring, and Hall used to be there with him for days. Dear Mr. Donnellan!' she cried earnestly, won't you go and explain it to him at once before it is, perhaps, too late.'
'Excuse me,' I replied, with something of a tremor in my voice, 'my time is very limited. There are other reasons, too, why I would not wish to have any interview with that gentleman,-reasons which it would be worse than useless to talk about now.'
'Oh! don't say that, Mr. Donnellan,' she entreated again. You can have the carriage this minute. I can walk home; or I will go with you, if you let me. Only don't leave my poor-poor brother at the mercy of that treacherous Hall.'
'Mother of Moses!' I ejaculated, confounded at the discovery, 'and was that young man only your brother after all?'
Why,' she asked, with undisguised surprise, 'what else did you imamine him to be?'
'Bedad!' answered I, overjoyed at the éclaircissement, I took him for your sweetheart.'
'And what, in the name of wonder, could have put such a notion into your head?'
"Faith, I don't know,' I replied, 'barring 'twas jealousy.'
Further explanation was needless; my hopes all blazed out afresh, all the brighter for the little damp they had undergone; but it was no time for regular love-making, nor could I, at all events, have wished for a better opportunity of ingratiating myself with her than by now applying myself sedulously to the rescue of her brother. The horses' heads were accordingly turned round in the direction of the ground we had traversed to convey us to the refuge of the fugitive; and while we rapidly returned towards the park, I extracted from her all she knew of her brother's dealings with Desmond, thus throwing some light on what I knew already myself. It would seem that on that very morning he had accounted for some depression of spirits by imparting to her in confidence the fact of his having passed Desmond a bond for three hundred pounds, for money lost to him in gambling, besides his having expended in a similar pursuit all the ready money he could command; thus leaving himself no other alternative but a jail, in case his friend, who had engaged to interfere with Desmond in his behalf, should be unable to prevail with that worthy not to press the demands for payment which he had made in a rather urgent and threatening tone.
'And did he tell you who was this obliging friend, Miss Seymour?' I asked.
She held down her head, and made no answer, but twitched the string of her parasol in confusion: I bethought me of Hall's words that I had overheard in the gambling-house, of his extreme intimacy with her duped brother, and allowing a little for the usual exaggeration inflicted on all stories brought to the country, or in fact brought anywhere, had not a doubt but that he was the rival with whom I had been threatened; though, if I was to draw any conclusion from the apparent feelings of the lady towards him, he was far from being so dangerous a rival as I was at first led to suppose.
'I shouldn't wonder if it was to Hall he alluded,' remarked I carelessly, in order to bring her to some clear demonstration on the subject.
'Thank God!' she exclaimed in a low and fervent voice, 'he'll know Hall at last.'
'So much for Hall,' thought I, dismissing the man from my apprehensions, and stealing a glance at the bowed face of my beautiful companion. It was pale-deadly pale; and while her eyes glowed with thankfulness, tears were straying quick and silent down her cheeks. There was something wrong still. I took her hand in mine, and spoke some nonsense or other, incoherent enough,-some rambling assurances of devotion, and so forth, ending with a declaration of my willingness to defend her against all comers if she gave me but the title to do so.
"Mr. Donnellan,' said she, turning abruptly round, there is one thing you must promise me. This explanation will naturally place you very much in Frank's confidence; and Hall's treachery, if it be proved, will exasperate him to a degree that I shudder to think of. Will you pledge yourself to me that you will use your best influence to prevent anything in the way of a duel? I know it will be a hard thing to do; but you must promise it to me. Remember, he must not meet Hall.'
'Nonsense!' exclaimed I, laughing at her simplicity. I can only assure you, my dear Miss Seymour, that it would be against all rules for your brother to meet the fellow after his conduct; so you may dismiss all fears on that head. Meet Hall! why the best-natured man in Ireland wouldn't fight him for charity.'
'Well,' replied she, remember I place my brother in your hands.' And in my hands he shall be perfectly safe,' I answered; and now let us talk about ourselves, and that pleasant Galway ball.'
Into what a sea of reminiscences we plunged! Who could have thought that an acquaintance of some five hours' length or so could supply such a fund for conversation? yet so it was that even the most trifling incident which occurred during that interim had been so firmly planted in both our memories, that when we drew on them for materials we found a hoard that might keep us employed from sunrise to sunset. I felt myself rapidly gaining ground in her favour, as rapidly approaching the opportunity of winning her brother's good-will, and offering him a substitute for the treacherous friend from whom I was to extricate him. It seemed scarce a minute until we were beyond the smoke of the city; the park was soon left behind, with its rolling thunders of artillery, its floating music swelling and sinking with each fitful breath of the summer air, and dying away at last in the distance, with its glittering pageantry of which a casual glance could now and then be caught through the foliage of the trees as we swept along the road: high hearts and happy were there, no doubt, but mine was as light as the best of them; and where was the brow even among that throng of loveliness which could vie with that of my gentle Grace? Still we talked, and still we could have talked to the end of the journey, even if it were to reach to Athlone, until, at last, on mounting the crest of the hill which overhangs the town of Lucan, the coachman turned round with an anxious and alarmed expression-for he had picked up enough to understand the object of our journey-and pointing to one of the houses in the Main Street, (I believe they call it,) bade us remark the crowd which had gathered before the door. It was the very house in which Frank Seymour had notified his intention of taking refuge.
Powerless with anxiety, his sister sank back in the carriage, while I
sprang to my feet, and leaned forward to catch a glimpse of something that might inform me of what was going on. There was the crowd, sure enough, while people were running from every quarter to increase itsome in their hurry, not waiting to put on a hat-others coatless, and all straining to reach the scene. Swifter even than before flew the horses, urged on by a renewed application of whipcord. Down the hill we thundered, and pulled up with a jerk within a few yards of the door indicated. With one bound I reached the flagway the moment the carriage stopped, and diving through the crowd, with difficulty reached the hall-door. I could gather, from the remarks made as I passed, that there were bailiffs up stairs endeavouring to arrest a gentleman, who, they said, had escaped from them, and locked himself up in one of the rooms. The uproar within confirmed what I had heard, but so dense was the crowd that I almost despaired of reaching Seymour before some mischief would be done. I struggled madly to get forward; and some persons observing my extreme anxiety, and rightly guessing that I had some object connected with the affair, made way for me, and enabled me to reach the staircase.
'Break in the door, my boys; you've law on your side!' was shouted in a voice that sounded above all the din, and which I recognized at once to be Desmond's. Two or three more vigorous struggles brought me half way up the stairs, and gave me a view of the landing-place where was the door that stood between Desmond and his prey, and which it seemed they were now about to burst open. One blow had been struck with an iron bar, and Desmond was encouraging the operator to strike another, when the voice of young Seymour from within was heard, warning him to desist.
'By heavens!' he furiously exclaimed, if another blow is struck, I'll fire through the door, and you may share what you get between you.' 'Don't mind him!' shouted Desmond. 'Devil a thing he has but the poker.'
'Do you think so?' retorted Seymour, discharging a pistol through the window at the rear; 'and there's another where that came from.'
At the noise of the shot the crowd at the head of the stairs, and the lobby, deeming their personal safety as of more importance than their curiosity, made a burst down the stairs, and effectually stopped my further progress in that direction. Just as Desmond, enraged at the defection of his satellites, snatched up the bar, and was about to try his own strength on the refractory door, I shouted to him to forbear, but he heeded me not. The opposite balustrade of the ascending staircase was within about a yard of that on which I stood; and having stretched across, and grappled in the rails, I swung myself over, hanging by my arms, determined, at any risk, to prevent such a fatal collision as must take place if he put his threat into execution. I was too late, however; ere I could obtain a footing on the lobby, a blow had been struck, and in quick succession the report of a pistol followed from within, the balls splintering the pannels as they passed through, one whizzing by my ear, while a stinging twitch in my right arm indicated where the other had found a resting-place. I looked down in horror at the depth below; it was little less than twenty feet; my head grew dizzy, my arm failed, and down-down I went crashing into the hall of the basement story.
When I came thoroughly to myself, and recovered from the bewilderment in which I was plunged immediately on my resuscitation, I found
myself stretched on a sofa in a little parlour, with the wind blowing on my face, and a strong smell of apothecary's stuff affecting my nostrils. Seymour I recognized at once, standing at my head, with a face as doleful as if he had been guilty of manslaughter. Desmond and one of his bailiffs were looking on, and a couple of policemen gave interest to the group. A surgical-looking old gentleman was feeling my pulse, and two or three other people whom I did not know, but whose local importance authorized them to poke their noses into the transaction, were standing at the foot of the sofa. A buzz ran through the whole party when I revived, and I observed the servant who drove me out quit the room hastily, as if to impart the good news elsewhere.
I made an effort to rise, that I might test the soundness of my limbs, but a thrilling sensation of pain in my arm, side, and head, compelled me to resume my prostrate attitude, even before the surgeon could issue his injunctions.
'Very little hurt, sir. A most fortunate escape; but must remain strictly quiet for a day or two. There now, pray don't stir, and you'll be all to rights long before you want to get married. Mustn't talk, thoughmustn't talk.'
This latter part of the prohibition, however, I insisted on breaking; and addressing Seymour, who, poor fellow! seemed deeply affected by the accident, I procured the departure of all persons unconcerned, and disclosed to him all I knew, and all I had to say about the swindling partnership existing between Hall and Desmond, and expressed my regret that I had not been on the spot a few minutes sooner, when the disclosure might have had the effect of preventing the occurrence of anything unpleasant. One thought alone, however, seemed to engross him; he had trusted, and been deceived, and, but for this timely discovery of the designs of his false friend, would have been made the instrument of worse than ruin to his sister. He was stunned by the magnitude of the danger he had escaped, as well as by the mortification he had already undergone, and for a time could do no more than offer his incoherent acknowledg ments of the service I had rendered to him and his. Desmond and his gang, on the first allusion to his confederacy with Hall, had slunk out of the room, and finally from the premises, abandoning the doubtful capture; and, a sufficient explanation having been afforded to the police, they too. departed, leaving Seymour at liberty to do what he liked, so as he abstained from the further use of gunpowder; and now, having succeeded in freeing him from the ugly dilemma in which he had been placed, it is time I should say something about myself. My hurts, on a closer inspection, seemed to amount-imprimis, to a pistol-wound in the arm; item, a cut on the head; item, a serious bruise on the hip; item, a couple of ribs broken; and, all things considered, I regarded myself as being more fortunate than usual. Seymour's deepest sympathy I had, as a matter of course. People always have such a liking for their own jobs, even though they are not professionally entitled to kill or slay; but the joy of his sister when she learned that I was but slightly hurt, was more to me than the sympathy of all the lords of the creation together. She had fainted on the first report of fire-arms, and on her recovery received the distracting intelligence that her brother had shot a gentleman. I don't want to take credit to myself for all her woe, since even the death of a tinker under such circumstances would have been a serious affliction; however,