‘’Pon honour,’ cried Lady Dashfort, ’I can swear for Heathcock, that I have eaten excellent hares and ducks of his shooting, which, to my knowledge,’ added she, in a loud whisper, ‘he bought in the market.’
EMPTUM APRUM!’ said Lord Colambre to the count, without danger of being understood by those whom it concerned.
The count smiled a second time; but politely turning the attention of the company from the unfortunate colonel by addressing himself to the laughing sportsmen, ‘Gentlemen, you seem to value these,’ said he, sweeping the artificial flies from the table into the little basket from which they had been taken; ’would you do me the honour to accept of them? They are all of my own making, and consequently of Irish manufacture.’ Then, ringing the bell, he asked Lady Dashfort’s permission to have the basket put into her carriage.
Benson and Williamson followed the servant, to prevent them from being tossed into the boot. Heathcock stood still in the middle of the room taking snuff.
Count O’Halloran turned from him to Lord Colambre, who had just got happily to the burial-place of the Nugents, when Lady Dashfort, coming between them, and spying the title of the chapter, exclaimed—
’What have you there?—Antiquities! my delight!—but I never look at engravings when I can see realities.’
Lord Colambre was then compelled to follow, as she led the way into the hall, where the count took down golden ornaments, and brass-headed spears, and jointed horns of curious workmanship, that had been found on his estate; and he told of spermaceti wrapped in carpets, and he showed small urns, enclosing ashes; and from among these urns he selected one, which he put into the hands of Lord Colambre, telling him that it had been lately found in an old abbey-ground in his neighbourhood, which had been the burial-place of some of the Nugent family.
’I was just looking at the account of it, in the book which you saw open on my table.—And as you seem to take an interest in that family, my lord, perhaps,’ said the count, ’you may think this urn worth your acceptance.’
Lord Colambre said, ’It would be highly valuable to him—as the Nugents were his near relations.’
Lady Dashfort little expected this blow; she, however, carried him off to the moose-deer, and from moose-deer to round-towers, to various architectural antiquities, and to the real and fabulous history of Ireland, on all which the count spoke with learning and enthusiasm. But now, to Colonel Heathcock’s great joy and relief, a handsome collation appeared in the dining-room, of which Ulick opened the folding-doors.
‘Count, you have made an excellent house of your castle,’ said Lady Dashfort.
‘It will be, when it is finished,’ said the count. ‘I am afraid,’ added he, smiling, ’I live like many other Irish gentlemen, who never are, but always to be, blest with a good house. I began on too large a scale, and can never hope to live to finish it.’