‘And is this my father’s town of Clonbrony?’ thought Lord Colambre. ’Is this Ireland?—No, it is not Ireland. Let me not, like most of those who forsake their native country, traduce it. Let me not, even to my own mind, commit the injustice of taking a speck for the whole. What I have just seen is the picture only of that to which an Irish estate and Irish tenantry may be degraded in the absence of those whose duty and interest it is to reside in Ireland to uphold justice by example and authority; but who, neglecting this duty, commit power to bad hands and bad hearts—abandon their tenantry to oppression, and their property to ruin.’
It was now fine moonlight, and Lord Colambre met with a boy, who said he could show him a short way across the fields to the widow O’Neill’s cottage.
All were asleep at the cottage, when Lord Colambre arrived, except the widow, who was sitting up, waiting for him; and who had brought her dog into the house, that he might not fly at him, or bark at his return. She had a roast chicken ready for her guest, and it was—but this she never told him the only chicken she had left; all the others had been sent with the duty-fowl as a present to the under-agent’s lady. While he was eating his supper, which he ate with the better appetite, as he had had no dinner, the good woman took down from the shelf a pocket-book, which she gave him: ‘Is not that your book?’ said she. ’My boy Brian found it after you in the potato furrow, where you dropped it.’
‘Thank you,’ said Lord Colambre; ’there are bank notes in it, which I could not afford to lose.’
‘Are there?’ said she; ‘he never opened it—nor I.’
Then, in answer to his inquiries about Grace and the young man, the widow answered, ’They are all in heart now, I thank ye kindly, sir, for asking; they’ll sleep easy to-night anyway, and I’m in great spirits for them and myself—for all’s smooth now. After we parted you, Brian saw Mr. Dennis himself about the lase and memorandum, which he never denied, but knew nothing about. “But, be that as it may,” says he, “you’re improving tenants, and I’m confident my brother will consider ye; so what you’ll do is, you’ll give up the possession to-morrow to myself, that will call for it by cock-crow, just for form’s sake; and then go up to the castle with the new lase ready drawn, in your hand, and if all’s paid off clear of the rent, and all that’s due, you’ll get the new lase signed; I’ll promise you that upon the word and honour of a gentleman.” And there’s no going beyond that, you know, sir. So my boy came home as light as a feather, and as gay as a lark, to bring us the good news; only he was afraid we might not make up the rent, guineas and all; and because he could not get paid for the work he done, on account of the mistake in the overseer’s tally, I sold the cow to a neighbour—dog-cheap;