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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 594 pages of information about Valentine M'Clutchy, The Irish Agent.
unsuspicious people, she had reached the dignity of a matron.  Her companion was dressed in faded black, from top to toe, and from the expression of her thin, sallow face, and piercing black eyes, there could be little doubt she had seen a good deal of the world as it exists in rustic life.  The person who overtook these two females carried a portfolio, and appeared to observe the country and its scenery, as he went along with well marked attention.

“Pray, ma’am,” said he, “whose is that fine old building to the right, which appears to be going to ruin?  It is evidently not inhabited.”

“You’re a stranger in the place, then,” replied the female, “or you surely might know Castle Cumber House, where old Tom Topertoe used to live before the union came.  He was made a lord of for sellin’ our parliament, and now his son, the present lord, is leadin’ a blessed life abroad, for he never shows his face here.”

“He is an absentee, then?”

“To be sure he is, and so is every man of them now, barrin’ an odd one.  The country’s deserted, and although business is lookin’ up a little—­take your time, Susanna, we needn’t be in sich a hurry now—­although, as I said, business is lookin’ up a little, still it’s nothing to what it was when the gentry lived at home wid us.”

“Who is agent to this Lord Cumber, pray?”

“A blessed boy, by all accounts, but that’s all I’ll say about him—­I know him too well to make him my enemy.”

“Why, is he not popular—­is he not liked by the tenantry?”

“Oh, Lord, to be sure—­they doat upon him; and, indeed, no wondher, he’s so kind and indulgent to the poor.  To tell you the truth, he’s a great blessin’ to the country.”

“That, to be sure, is very satisfactory—­and, pray, if I may take the liberty, who is his law agent, or has he one?”

“Why, another blessed—­hem—­a very pious devout man, named Mr. Solomon M’Slime, an attorney—­but, indeed, an attorney that almost shames the Bible itself, he’s so religious.  Isn’t he, Susanna?”

“He hath good gifts; if he doth not abuse them.”

“Religion is certainly the best principle in life, if sincerely felt, and not prostituted and made a mask of.”

“A mask! isn’t that, sir, a thing that people put on and off their face, according as it may suit them?”

“Just so, madam; you have exactly described it.”

“Oh, the divil a mask ever he made of it, then, for he never lays it aside at all.  He has kept it on so steadily, that, I’ll take my oath, if he was to throw, it off now, he wouldn’t know himself in the looking-glass, it’s so long since he got a glimpse of his own face.”

“Lord Cumber must be a happy man to have two such valuable agents upon his property.”

“Talkin’ of Lord Cumber and his property, if you wish to know all about them, here’s your man comin’ over by the cross road here—­he’s goin’ to M’Clutchy’s I suppose, and, as you appear to be goin’ in the same direction, I’ll hand you over to him.  Good morrow, Darby?”

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