“Very well; seein’ that, what more have we to say, barrin’ to hould our tongues. Children sent late always come either for great good or great sarra to their parents—an’ God grant that this may be for good to the honest people—for indeed honest people they are, by all accounts. But what myself wonders at is, that Honor Donovan never once opened her lips to me about it. However, God’s will be done! The Lord send her safe over all her throubles, poor woman! And, now that we’re out o’ this thief of a lane, lay an for the bare life, and never heed me. I’m as good a horseman as yourself; and, indeed, I’ve a good right, for I’m an ould hand at it.”
“I’m thinkin’,” she added, after a short silence, “it’s odd I never was much acquainted with the Donovans. I’m tould they’re a hard pack, that loves the money.”
“Faix,” replied her companion, “Let Fardorougha alone for knowin’ the value of a shillin’!—they’re not in Europe can hould a harder grip o’ one.”
His master, in fact, was a hard, frugal man, and his mistress a woman of somewhat similar character; both were strictly honest, but, like many persons to whom God has denied offspring, their hearts had for a considerable time before been placed upon money as their idol; for, in truth, the affections must be fixed upon something, and we generally find that where children are denied, the world comes in and hardens by its influence the best and tenderest sympathies of humanity.
After a journey of two miles they came out on a hay-track, that skirted an extensive and level sweep of meadow, along which they proceeded with as much speed as a pillionless midwife was capable of bearing. At length, on a gentle declivity facing the south, they espied in the distance the low, long, whitewashed farm-house of Fardorougha Donovan. There was little of artificial ornament about the place, but much of the rough, heart-stirring wildness of nature, as it appeared in a strong, vigorous district, well cultivated, but without being tamed down by those finer and more graceful touches, which nowadays mark the skilful hand of the scientific agriculturist.
To the left waved a beautiful hazel glen, which gradually softened away into the meadows above mentioned. Up behind the house stood an ancient plantation of whitethorn, which, during the month of May, diffused its fragrance, its beauty, and its melody, over the whole farm. The plain garden was hedged round by the graceful poplar, whilst here and there were studded over the fields either single trees or small groups of mountain ash, a tree still more beautiful than the former. The small dells about the farm were closely covered with blackthorn and holly, with an occasional oak shooting up from some little cliff, and towering sturdily over its lowly companions. Here grew a thick interwoven mass of dog-tree, and upon a wild hedgerow, leaning like a beautiful wife upon a rugged husband, might be seen, supported by clumps of blackthorn, that most fragrant and exquisite of creepers, the delicious honeysuckle. Add to this the neat appearance of the farm itself, with its meadows and cornfields waving to the soft sunny breeze of summer, and the reader may admit, that without possessing any striking features of pictorial effect, it would, nevertheless, be difficult to find an uplying farm upon which the eye could rest with greater satisfaction.