“What d’ye mean, you ruffian?”
“Isn’t the Kellys great people intirely, Mr. Barry? and won’t it be a great thing for Miss Anty, to be sib to a lord? Shure yer honour’d not be refusing me this blessed day.”
“What the d—— are you saying about Miss Lynch?” said Barry, his attention somewhat arrested by the mention of his sister’s name.
“Isn’t she going to be married then, to the dacentest fellow in Dunmore? Martin Kelly, God bless him! Ah! there’ll be fine times at Dunmore, then. He’s not the boy to rattle a poor divil out of the kitchen into the cold winther night! The Kellys was always the right sort for the poor.”
Barry was frightened in earnest, now. It struck him at once that Jack couldn’t have made the story out of his own head; and the idea that there was any truth in it, nearly knocked him off his horse. He rode on, however, trying to appear to be regardless of what had been said to him; and, as he trotted off, he heard the fool’s parting salutation.
“And will yer honour be forgething me afther the news I’ve brought yer? Well, hard as ye are, Misther Barry, I’ve hot yer now, any way.”
And, in truth, Jack had hit him hard. Of all things that could happen to him, this would be about the worst. He had often thought, with dread, of his sister’s marrying, and of his thus being forced to divide everything—all his spoil, with some confounded stranger. But for her to marry a shopkeeper’s son, in the very village in which he lived, was more than he could bear. He could never hold up his head in the county again. And then, he thought of his debts, and tried to calculate whether he might get over to France without paying them, and be able to carry his share of the property with him; and so he went on, pursuing his wretched, uneasy, solitary ride, sometimes sauntering along at a snail’s pace, and then again spurring the poor brute, and endeavouring to bring his mind to some settled plan. But, whenever he did so, the idea of his sister’s death was the only one which seemed to present either comfort or happiness.
He made up his mind, at last, to put a bold face on the matter; to find out from Anty herself whether there was any truth in the story; and, if there should be,—for he felt confident she would not be able to deceive him,—to frighten her and the whole party of the Kellys out of what he considered a damnable conspiracy to rob him of his father’s property,
He got off his horse, and stalked into the house. On inquiry, he found that Anty was in her own room. He was sorry she was not out; for, to tell the truth, he was rather anxious to put off the meeting, as he did not feel himself quite up to the mark, and was ashamed of seeming afraid of her. He went into the stable, and abused the groom; into the kitchen, and swore at the maid; and then into the garden. It was a nasty, cold, February day, and he walked up and down the damp muddy walks till he was too tired and cold to walk longer, and then turned into the parlour, and remained with his back to the fire, till the man came in to lay the cloth, thinking on the one subject that occupied all his mind—occasionally grinding his teeth, and heaping curses on his father and sister, who, together, had inflicted such grievous, such unexpected injuries upon him.