Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

of such a person being present. They now threw their eyes round the spacious room; and a figure, which answered to the description, appeared seated in one of its remote corners at a writing table. They turned their eyes instantly away, for a very fine map of Ireland hung on the wall, near to which they sat. The Commodore took it down, and began to trace his route with a pencil, while Mr. De Vere followed his track with his

eye as he looked over his shoulder.

Meantime the gentlewoman resembled, as she sat, one of those wax-work figures, which, at once grotesque and natural, are coloured to the life, yet inanimate as death; for she remained, for a considerable time after the strangers had entered the

room,
with her

eyes rivetted on their persons, and her pen suspended above the paper upon which she had been writing. There was an intensity in her fixed look that implied something more than mere idle curiosity.

[ocr errors]

In whatever manner their sudden appearance had affected her, they seemed to hold her senses in suspension; and many minutes had elapsed, and the strangers had travelled, on paper, overthe whole province of Munster, before she resumed, with a long drawn sigh, the occupation they had interrupted. In her person this elderly gentlewoman was low and somewhat bulky: her headdress was a tête, with side curls, powdered, surmounted by a small high crowned beayer hat, laid flat upon the head. She wore a black crape veil, so fastened up in the centre as to expose a very red nose, and a very large pair of dark green spectacles; her chin was sunk in her cravat, whose long fringed ends belonged to other epochs of fashion than the present. The immense chitterling of her habit shirt appeared through her single-breasted, long-waisted, brass-buttoned camblet-joseph. Her whole appearance, though most risibly

singular, was such as would have been scarcely deemed extraordinary in the remote counties of Ireland twenty or thirty years back, when old fashions and old habits remained in full force among the provincial gentry, who preserved the faith, principles, and costume of their ancestors alike unchanged. Even still such figures are occasionally seen in the middle ranks of rural life, riding on a pillion to mass on a holiday, or making one of a congregation of ten in some remote and solitary church, whose parish, though it bring a large revenue to its non-resident incumbent, may not consist of as many protestant families.

The impatience of the travellers for the refreshment of the toilette and the breakfast table was now considerably abaited by the occupation which the map afforded them. The Commodore had traced with his pencil the great Mun.ster road as far as Cashel; then diverged,

by cross ways, towards the Gaulty Mountains, to the towns of Doneraile and Buttevant. From this point he was proceeding towards Kerry, when his companion interrupted him, by observing :

“I perceive we are proceeding by the same route, as far as Butteyant. I am going to the south, and shall halt at Kilcoleman, the reposoir, where, in the course of my pilgrimage through this island of saints, my imagination will do homage to the memory of Spencer. If you have not any objection, I should like much to accompany you so far; but you will reject the proposal with the same frankness it is made, if it is the least géne to you."

“ On the contrary, I shall accept it with pleasure, as far as Buttevant; but from thence my uncertain route, through a wild country, will be passed on horseback; and the business of an ardent research would leave me no time for the enjoyment of your society, from which I have already derived so much. But,” he added, after an abrupt pause, and suddenly speaking in Spanish, "you are ignorant of my name and situation. You may dislike this equivocal position, in which I am necessarily thrown; for it would not suit my views or my convenience to reveal either. To the title, however, of Commodore, given me by my crew, I have a right : for the rest, you must take me as I am, and upon trust.”

“I take you upon your own terms,” was the reply, “ and I adopt them as my own: to confess the truth, I like the mystery and romance of our connexion. It is foreign to the established forms of the world's calculated ties: and whether or not, when we part, we ever meet again, I shall look upon the accident which brought me acquainted with the commander of Il Librador as among the most pleasant events of my life. I am weary of the stale forms of what is

« ZurückWeiter »