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Nora's Peril

Nora's Peril image
Parent Issue
Day
9
Month
March
Year
1883
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

CHAPTER UI. On the following forenoon we made a close exarntnatlon of the castle, the result of which was that a letter was Uespatched that evening to aD eminent architect in Dublin, requestlng hls early attendance. In the afternoon the (Jolonel and I contiuued our walk through the demesne occasionally sitting down to rest upon the trunk of somc fallen tree, or moss-covered stone on the margin of the rlver: selecting poiuts commanding beautitnl views of the stream and glen, through which it took its devlous course. The water iu the pools was as clear as erystal, aud we could sec the Hvely trout in great numbers di6porting in their pellucid depths. Seating himself under the shade of a venerable, oak, iny ho6t requested me to take a sect at liis side; hë then said,-- "Yon have uow, Mr. Mervyn, bceome almost a memoer of my family ; and living, as I hope we shall do, upon the most familiar and eontidential terius, I think it right to rnention that my daughter Norah has. of late, become an object of great solicitudc to me. During a visit to Genoa last sumincr we formed the acquaintance of an Italiau noblemau, Count Albano, a young man of handsome person and pleasing Uddress. He is theowner of a beautiful jacht, the fastest sailer in the Mediterranean, and which generally lay at anchor in a small bay formed by the promontory of Porto Fino, within gunshot of au ancieut castle, somewhat rcsembling mine in extent and ruinous condition. We vistted it sevcral times during our stay at (Jenoa, sailing thither in liis vacht when the wiud served; or driving along the beautiful shores of the gulf . A very small portion of the castle was habitabl'% and our friend informei me that bis family resided iu one of the (ireeian islands. aud had not visited Porto Fino for many years. "Continental society," hecoutinued, "issuch that it is impossible tb satisfy oneself as to the antecedents of all the acquaintancesone forms. We met Count Albano iu the best society in (enoa, and also at C'Ivita Yecehia, Naples, and Otber places on the eoast, and as we moved along it during our tour: and, iu faet, if the Count'6 yacht liad been titted up, as such vessels usually are, we probably should have spent more time at sea than on land; but, although over one hundred tons burden, she had only one small eabinfor theowner, andseemed to have been desigued for his exclusive enjoyment. The Comit and his vacht, occasioually dieappeared for a few days, but he always returned and renewed his assiduous attentions to Norah. It is impossible to deny that he is an attractive persou, and equallv impossible to overlook the fact, which I now regret, that she was allowed to spend more time in his society thau, perhaps, was prudent on my part ; the result is that she bocame deeply attached to him, and on his proposing an engagement, and acquainting me of their mutual aiïectiou, I thought it my duty to speak frankly my sentiment. I told him that I was about to return to Ireland, and that, although I would prefer that my daughter should not marry In a foreign country, jet if he ould satisfy me that his fortune was suflietently ampie to justify my approval of his union wlth Norah I would endeavor to overeóme any scruplesof that nature. He assured me that, altliough not wealthy, his income was such as enabled him to aspire to her hand, of which In. would give me ampie proof; and we partee with the uuderstanding that a year should chipse before the marriagc would take place, and that he was to visit us here this suinmer in fact," said my host, '"I expeet to see hib yacht, the Guiñare,' anchor iu the bay at auj moment, as Norah wrote to iuform him of our arrival, and of the diilieulty of approaeh b) land." I thanked Colonel De Burgho for the eonfi dence he had shown bv makiug tbis coinmuni catión tome; aud, atthough my heart beu quickly during its recital, and I lelt a jealous pang of disappointment at tinding tliat Norah's affectionswere preoccupied, I, hypocrite that '. was, calmly expressed a hope that nothing would occur to prevent the realization of her antieipated happines6. "We must never reckon over confidently in TlieRe matterj, Meríyn," he replied. "I an bound to return the Count's hospitality ; but ! certainly will not consent to take him as im sou-in-law unless he gives me ampie evidence of his ability to support my darling Norali ii the rank in society to which she belongs. Th( Br Utah consul at Lirorno is an old friend o mine, and I shall require that the promise proofs shall be pronounced satisfactory by him in the meantime, I have made you aequaintec witli the present positiou of maters, and we must await the deuouement with patience. O one thing I am assured - Norah is a dutiful an( affectionate daughter, and bas promised me that she will never marr,y Count Albano without my consent. Here was a feeble gleam of hope for me, ani I resolved to keep a guard upon my feelings but at the same time, to watch clnsëly the pro ceediugs of my rival, who, I feit convineed would turn out a villain of the deepest dye. Uow trne tbe proverb "Trifles, light as air, Are, to the jealous, eonfirmation strong As proof of holy writ." I fuund mvself already selüshly gloatiug over the satisfaction and triüniph I should feel in detóeting aud exposiug this, I feit cortain, vile imposter, who had dared to aspire to the han of my beautiful Norah. I never for a momeni thought of the pain and sorrow she would naturally suffer; and I vowed to subject his every action to such a microscopie scrutiny as woulc infallibly pierce through the mystery surrounding his character and real positiou. Colonel De Burgho arose from his seat anc wc contiuued our walk. I observed that the extensive plantations had been entirely ueglected, and that thcy contained a vast quantity of valuable timber which should be at once" removed for the sake of those selectcd te reinal . "Yes," said he, "I quite agree with you; the only prudent thing my fathereverdid, álthough not done with a view to protit, but for the cuconragement of game, was to plant a great portion of this demesue, aud I, during the entire f amine years, authorized my agent to expend the entire reutal inadditiocal planting, in order to give cmployment to the starving population. The result is that there are now several hundred acres of inarketable timber ; but the difficulty is to get it to market." I pointed out that as he eoutemplatud considerable outlay upon the castle aud estáte the most proritable mode of transport would be to purchase two smal] coasting vessels, and toeut and eonvey the tim ber to the water's edge, ready for shipmeut to Cork aud other porta whcre therc was a good (Iemand : tbc vessels bringing back the foreign timber, slatcs, etc., required for bis purposes. Land earriage for either bein" quite impracticable; this suggestion Col. De Burgho at once approved. In discussing matters conneetod with the interestiug scieuce of wood-craft, -ve arrived at the castle in good time for our afternoon meal, aud spent another delightful evening, as befere, in sailing on the bay. The weather had hitherto been mild and ealm. This frequently happens in summer on the west coast of Ireland, and is appareutly vouchsafed as a compensation for the dreary days of storm aud fog that prevail through the winter mouths. A week had elapsed siuce my arrival, during which my inttmacy with mv host's beautiful daughter inercased daily. Col. De Burgho and I occupied the greater part of our time in inspectiug the grounds and estáte, and in devisinê plans for their improvcment; my professional skül and, practical knowlcdgc of the country here eame to his assistanee. He had been a keen observer of the most improved modes of agriculture in Italy and the soutb of Frauce, and many of his suggestlons were admirable, but required for their successful adoption the mechauical knowledge with which 1 waa so conversant. We agreed that the wiser course would be to sketch the whole 'eampaign' - the eolouel alwavs used military terins when relevant - and carry out thesubsequeut "moVenunts" when it was complete. "Better," he sald, "lay siego to one dlfficulty ata time; ive vill batter away at and 'reduce" the mo6t imjortant outpots lirst, and then cut uu the ¦uemy In detail; let us tirst direct our ful! forcé upou the salient xrints, - you see I have studied the art of var," whieh indeed he had uot onlv done but lad aleo distinguished himself highly iu the Sardiuian service, as h6 numerous medals mi leeoratione well testilled. I liad obtained maps of theestate, over whleh we had ridden or walked duriug the week, and on the dav at which I have now arrived had completed a rough plan of the "eampaigu " upo n which we adjourned to dine. and take our boating excursión as usual. The evening waa beautiful, a gentle breeze rlppliug the waters, ju6t sufüetent to impel our boat upou an almost even keel. Norah and Kathleen were u high spirits, and the ('oionel and I, after a close day's work, feit the delicious languor that aecompanles the well earned repose of neu who have toiled mentally or physieally during the day. Ye dwellers iu eities, hov; are you not to lx; commiserated- who have never enjoyed the agreeable sensations experienred by ihe weary sportsman after a day's hunttng or constant walking over bogs and moors, the luxury of a "tub," of ehange of garmeuts, of the prepraudial glass of old brown sherry, the comfortable meal, the glowing wood lire. and bottle of generous Laütte; t'ue lounge upou a sofa, vith the fragrant moha and mature havanna): at hand: the game at whist or chess, the dressiug-gowu stage of toddy and a pipe ; and theu the arms of Morpheus, most benignant of the gods ! He who has not experieneed all this has not lived ; he may have existed - so do moles, toad, and oysters ; but that is not lif e. We had sailed out some four or live miles westward froni the shore, when I, who always oeeupied my seat as "look out," and was enjoylng my privilege as usual, observed the tnpinast of a vessel just rounding the headlanil. On she carne, sailíng with snowy wiugs as stately as a wan, until her huil was visible round its point. The words "There is that iu fernal 'Gulnare!'" were on my lips; fortunately, I restraiued myself in time. I directed Norah's attention to the beautiful vessel; instantly she exclaimed, - "Ou, papa, give me the glass," which I was obliged to pass from the stern and hand to her. "Oh, Kathleen!" she sald, af ter1 looking intently through it for a few seconds, "it is the 'Gulnare,' - fknow the long red pendants f roni the topmast. Oh, how lovely she looks!" And sol must admit she did, though, at the moment, I was wieked enough to wish that she might run upon the long reef of "pots" submerged at high water, and running out to sea for nearly a mile. It was evident, however, that 6he had"6ome pilot on board wellacquainted with the coast, for he gave the headland a wide berth, and stood well out iuto the bay for a fresh tack, which would bring the yaeht to moorings opponite the castle. "My dears," said Colonel De Burgho, "if you t hink it is the 'Gulna-e' we had tetter "bout the ship,' and return to prepare for tlie reception of our guest; with this wind weshall be more than an hour before we ground keel, and I think I see a six-oared boat putting oiï from the yacht, which will soon overtake us ; no doubt the Count has been informed that he will rcach the castle sooner by rowing across the bay than by tacking about in thi ilull breeze, and with an ebb tide." "Oh, it is the 'Gulnare,' papa'.'' said Norah. 'I would know her among a thousand ships, by her t&perblg nnists, spread of canvas, and long, low huil. ."WeUmydear," said the Colouel, '-I think you are right ; at all events it is time to return," and he turncd the boat's hend shoreward. This ehange of posltion gave Norah a clear view of the yaeht, almost right astern, and of the boat wbieh had .just been lowered trom her side; she took the glass agaiD, and, lixing it on the lattcr, said,- "How quick tliey. row,- the oars seareely seem to touch the water." Jjaying down the glass she tooiï her sister's hand, as she thought unscen by me, and her beautiful face beeame suffused with blushes as she hummed the air she had sung on the tirst night of my arrival : the words of the refrain. "my love, my love," searcely louder than a whisper. roached my ear. I feit my heart-strings tighten with supprefsed excitement- I eonld not articúlate; I knew that mr eves looked green, and that my face was pale, for all my blood ran turbulcntly to the región of the heart and was quickening its pulsatlon at a fearful pace. Norah's eyes were still fixed upon the last-pursuing boat, wheu Kathleen. kind soul ! perceiving and, I believe, suspecting the cause of, my confusión, leaned forward, so as to conceal my face from her sister's gaze aud said, - "You are lightly ciad, Mr. Mervyu, and look eold : take this shawl, I am not usiug it.and the evening air is getting chili." I gave her a gratelul glance, for as vet I had not sufficientlv mastered rav emotion to speak my thanks. At this critical moment there suddenly burst from the side of the yacht a lurid glare of lire, and iu a few seeonds the boom of a small eannon eame across the sea, and reverberated among the walls of the castle and the adjoinlug hills. " 'Tls the eveniuggun," said Norah; "you remember, papa, how the 'Gulnare' always flred a gun at sun6et. I suppo.se it is meant as a signal tous." "No doubt it is," 6aid Kathleen, "and I think our friend the Count will reach the shore as soon as we shall, for his boat seems to le flving across the water llke au afoatross." I had by this time. recovered my composure, and begau to busy myself with the lioat hook and other preparations for landing. We had searcely arrived at the quay aud given our boat in charge of its custodian, wheu the Count's pinnace pulled alongside, and he, jumping ashore, threw bis arms round Colonel De Burgho, and saluted him on both ehecKs, exclaiming, "CarUsimo amico." "Welcome, Count," said the Colonel; "we have been expeeting your arrival some davs." The Couut then tufned to Norah and Kathleen, aud shook hands warmly with both, bowing low to the former, and returniug her expressive glance with ons equally signifieaut. I was introdueed as the "Signor Mervyn," and we all walked leisurely towards the castle. The Count's valise was landed, aud thepiuuaee rowed off to meet the yacht, now just coming to an anchor about a mile distant. I walked moodily and silently aloug in the rear of the part, the demon of jealously gnawinij at mv heart: new fuel was throwu upon the fíame by the f act this hatod foreigner conversed in Itaiian. I did not reflect that it was his uative tongue. I afterwards fouud that he was an accomplished liuguist, as all his seafaring countrvmen are speaking French, Spanish. Turkis!), and modern (i reek. like uatlves; but my only thought at that momeut was that he could converse with Norah in a language I could not understand. On that evenine I purloiued an Italiau grammar, and 6peut sevcral hours every night during his stay in elandestinely mastering eolloquipl phrases, aud it was amazing how jeaiousy as6istei] and stimulated my studies. In a fortnlght 1 eould hold a conversation with Kathleeu, who innocently took an Interest iu iustrueting me how to translate an architectural work in that language. Our days were spent as usual, the colonel and I oecupying the foreuoon in business, whilethe Count visited his vessel daily, aud in the evening we took long walks in the demenes, I always being one of the party, hut my teat in the boat being uow oeeupied by the Count, I ceased to accompany the boating excursions, aud on those occasions I sauntered through the grounds and along the shore, animated with no very frieudlv feelings towards that favored Individual. I walked one evening iu a little cuve to the northward of the castle, wheu a sailor, oue of the Count's crew, who had beeu lying on the sward, with a small bundie at his side, rose up and addressed me in a strong Irish brogue. I had beeu under the impression that all his men were foreigners, and this man was as sunburnt aud rover-like as the rest. There could be no mistake, as to the place of hls nativity, hissalutation of "yer houor," being the usiial one on that part of the eoast. On further conversation he informed me that he had been iu "furriu parts" for several years, and having latelv neard at Genoa that the "Gulnare" was bounil for Englaud, he had offered his services, and had shipped as an able seaman, for the summer's cruising. He it was who had pilotedher safe round the treacherous "pots" at the headland and brought her tosafe anchorage ; he had, he told me, wheu a boy, lished the whole coast north and south of the bay for tiftv miles. He had uow receivod a week's leave, and was golng to visit the "ould modther," who lived some twenty miles north, and hopcd to see me on his return. "They're a quare set aboord," he said; "but he pay's good, an' I wanted to see the ould modther afore she dois, so I shipped with thim; but" - here he winked knowingly - 'Tin not shurc that I'll stop wid thim beyout the toiine I'm bound to; av 1 can be of any sarvice to yer honor, yev only to give me the wink, for all me forebearers lived for generations auunder the eolonel's; we wos sould to stranghers, but God be wid the ould toims when tne De Burghos owned us!" I saw at once what a valuable ally my friend "Diunis," as he pronouuced his patronymie, might prove to me; so, giving him a sóvereigu, I wished him good speed, and appointed to meet him at the same place on his return. "It's haudy, yer honor, ye.'ll obsarve" said he, "for it's out o' the castle, and o' the vesshel too." It was evident to me that Dennis bad his suspicions, but of what nature they were I did not think it prudent to inquire upou so short an acquaiutance, thinking it better to awuit the progress of events. TO BE COXTIXUED. ' Truth is always consistent with tself, and needs nothing to help it out. It is always near at hand, and is upon our lips and ready to drop out before we are aware; but falsehood is troublesome, and sets a man's invention upon the rack, and one untruth needs a great many more to make it good. Humanitv is the of the