What advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast...
To feed and clothe thee?

Guildenstern. The King, sir,—
Hamlet. Ay, sir, what of him?
Guild. Is in his retirement marvellous distempered.
Hamlet. With drink, sir?
Guild. No, my lord, rather with choler.
Hamlet. The King doth wake to-night and takes his
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels.

Horatio. Is it a custom?
Hamlet. Ay, marry is't:
But to my mind, though I am native here,
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour'd in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel...
Makes us traduced and taxed.—Hamlet.

TO do The Macnamara justice, while he was driving homeward upon that very shaky car round the lovely coast, he was somewhat disturbed in mind as he reflected upon the possible consequences of his quarrel with old Mr. Gerald. He was dimly conscious of the truth of the worldly and undeniably selfish maxim referring to the awkwardness of a quarrel with a neighbour. And if there is any truth in it as a general maxim, its value is certainly intensified when the neighbour in question has been the lender of sundry sums of money. A neighbour under these conditions should not be quarrelled with, he knew.

The Macnamara had borrowed from Mr. Gerald, at various times, certain moneys which had amounted in the aggregate to a considerable sum; for though Daireen's grandfather was not possessed of a very large income from the land that had been granted to his ancestors some few hundred years before, he had still enough to enable him from time to time to oblige The Macnamara with a loan. And this reflection caused The Macnamara about as much mental uneasiness as the irregular motion of the vehicle did physical discomfort. By the time, however, that the great hill, whose heather slope was now wrapped in the purple shade of twilight, its highest peak alone being bathed in the red glory of the sunset, was passed, his mind was almost at ease; for he recalled the fact that his misunderstandings with Mr. Gerald were exactly equal in number to his visits; he never passed an hour at Suanmara without what would at any rate have been a quarrel but for Mr. Gerald's good nature, which refused to be ruffled. And as no reference had ever upon these occasions been made to his borrowings, The Macnamara felt that he had no reason to conclude that his present quarrel would become embarrassing through any action of Mr. Gerald's. So he tried to feel the luxury of the scorn that he had so powerfully expressed in the room at Suanmara.

“Mushrooms of a night's growth!” he muttered. “I trampled them beneath my feet. They may go down on their knees before me now, I'll have nothing to say to them.” Then as the car passed out of the glen and he saw before him the long shadows of the hills lying amongst the crimson and yellow flames that swept from the sunset out on the Atlantic, and streamed between the headlands at the entrance to the lough, he became more fixed in his resolution. “The son of The Macnamara will never wed with the daughter of a man that is paid by the oppressors of the country, no, never!”

This was an allusion to the fact of Daireen's father being a colonel in the British army, on service in India. Then exactly between the headlands the sun went down in a gorgeous mist that was permeated with the glow of the orb it enveloped. The waters shook and trembled in the light, but the many islands of the lough remained dark and silent in the midst of the glow. The Macnamara became more resolute still. He had almost forgotten that he had ever borrowed a penny from Mr. Gerald. He turned to where Standish sat silent and almost grim.

“And you, boy,” said the father—“you, that threw your insults in my face—you, that's a disgrace to the family—I've made up my mind what I'll do with you; I'll—yes, by the powers, I'll disinherit you.”

But not a word did Standish utter in reply to this threat, the force of which, coupled with an expressive motion of the speaker, jeopardised the imperfect spring, and wrung from Eugene a sudden exclamation.

“Holy mother o' Saint Malachi, kape the sthring from breakin' yit awhile!” he cried devoutly.

And it seemed that the driver's devotion was efficacious, for, without any accident, the car reached the entrance to Innishdermot, as the residence of the ancient monarchs had been called since the days when the waters of Lough Suangorm had flowed all about the castle slope, for even the lough had become reduced in strength.

The twilight, rich and blue, was now swathing the mountains and overshadowing the distant cliffs, though the waters at their base were steel gray and full of light that seemed to shine upwards through their depth. Desolate, truly, the ruins loomed through the dimness. Only a single feeble light glimmered from one of the panes, and even this seemed agonising to the owls, for they moaned wildly and continuously from the round tower. There was, indeed, scarcely an aspect of welcome in anything that surrounded this home which one family had occupied for seven hundred years.

As the car stopped at the door, however, there came a voice from an unseen figure, saying, in even a more pronounced accent than The Macnamara himself gloried in, “Wilcome, ye noble sonns of noble soyers! Wilcome back to the anshent home of the gloryous race that'll stand whoile there's a sod of the land to bear it.”

“It's The Randal himself,” said The Macnamara, looking in the direction from which the sound came. “And where is it that you are, Randal? Oh, I see your pipe shining like a star out of the ivy.”

From the forest of ivy that clung about the porch of the castle the figure of a small man emerged. One of his hands was in his pocket, the other removed a short black pipe, the length of whose stem in comparison to the breadth of its bowl was as the proportion of Falstaff's bread to his sack.

“Wilcome back, Macnamara,” said this gentleman, who was indeed The Randal, hereditary chief of Suangorm. “An' Standish too, how are ye, my boy?” Standish shook hands with the speaker, but did not utter a word. “An' where is it ye're afther dhrivin' from?” continued The Randal.

“It's a long drive and a long story,” said The Macnamara.

“Thin for hivin's sake don't begin it till we've put boy the dinner. I'm goin' to take share with ye this day, and I'm afther waitin' an hour and more.”

“It's welcome The Randal is every day in the week,” said The Macnamara, leading the way into the great dilapidated hall, where in the ancient days fifty men-at-arms had been wont to feast royally. Now it was black in night.

In the room where the dinner was laid there were but two candles, and their feeble glimmer availed no more than to make the blotches on the cloth more apparent: the maps of the British Isles done in mustard and gravy were numerous. At each end a huge black bottle stood like a sentry at the border of a snowfield.

By far the greater portion of the light was supplied by the blazing log in the fireplace. It lay not in any grate but upon the bare hearth, and crackled and roared up the chimney like a demon prostrate in torture. The Randal and his host stood before the blaze, while Standish seated himself in another part of the room. The ruddy flicker of the wood fire shone upon the faces of the two men, and the yellow glimmer of the candle upon the face of Standish. Here and there a polish upon the surface of the black oak panelling gleamed, but all the rest of the high room was dim.

Salmon from the lough, venison from the forest, wild birds from the moor made up the dinner. All were served on silver dishes strangely worked, and plates of the same metal were laid before the diners, while horns mounted on massive stands were the drinking vessels. From these dishes The Macnamaras of the past had eaten, and from these horns they had drunken, and though the present head of the family could have gained many years' income had he given the metal to be melted, he had never for an instant thought of taking such a step. He would have starved with that plate empty in front of him sooner than have sold it to buy bread.

Standish spoke no word during the entire meal, and the guest saw that something had gone wrong; so with his native tact he chatted away, asking questions, but waiting for no answer.

When the table was cleared and the old serving-woman had brought in a broken black kettle of boiling water, and had laid in the centre of the table an immense silver bowl for the brewing of the punch, The Randal drew up the remnant of his collar and said: “Now for the sthory of the droive, Macnamara; I'm riddy whin ye fill the bowl.”

Standish rose from the table and walked away to a seat at the furthest end of the great room, where he sat hidden in the gloom of the corner. The Randal did not think it inconsistent with his chieftainship to wink at his host.

“Randal,” said The Macnamara, “I've made up my mind. I'll disinherit that boy, I will.”

“No,” cried The Randal eagerly. “Don't spake so loud, man; if this should git wind through the counthry who knows what might happen? Disinhirit the boy; ye don't mane it, Macnamara,” he continued in an excited but awe-stricken whisper.

“But by the powers, I do mean it,” cried The Macnamara, who had been testing the potent elements of the punch.

“Disinherit me, will you, father?” came the sudden voice of Standish echoing strangely down the dark room. Then he rose and stood facing both men at the table, the red glare of the log mixing with the sickly candlelight upon his face and quivering hands. “Disinherit me?” he said again, bitterly. “You cannot do that. I wish you could. My inheritance, what is it? Degradation of family, proud beggary, a life to be wasted outside the world of life and work, and a death rejoiced over by those wretches who have lent you money. Disinherit me from all this, if you can.”

“Holy Saint Malachi, hare the sonn of The Macnamaras talkin' loike a choild!” cried The Randal.

“I don't care who hears me,” said Standish. “I'm sick of hearing about my forefathers; no one cares about them nowadays. I wanted years ago to go out into the world and work.”

“Work—a Macnamara work!” cried The Randal horror-stricken.

“I told you so,” said The Macnamara, in the tone of one who finds sudden confirmation to the improbable story of some enormity.

“I wanted to work as a man should to redeem the shame which our life as it is at present brings upon our family,” said the young man earnestly—almost passionately; “but I was not allowed to do anything that I wanted. I was kept here in this jail wasting my best years; but to-day has brought everything to an end. You say you will disinherit me, father, but I have from this day disinherited myself—I have cast off my old existence. I begin life from to-day.”

Then he turned away and went out of the room, leaving his father and his guest in dumb amazement before their punch. It was some minutes before either could speak. At last The Randal took adraught of the hot spirit, and shook his head thoughtfully.

“Poor boy! poor boy! he needs to be looked after till he gets over this turn,” he said.

“It's all that girl—that Daireen of the Geralds,” said The Macnamara. “I found a paper with poetry on it for her this morning, and when I forced him he confessed that he was in love with her.”

“D'ye tell me that? And what more did ye do, Mac?”

“I'll tell you,” said the hereditary prince, leaning over the table.

And he gave his guest all the details of the visit to the Geralds at length.

But poor Standish had rushed up the crumbling staircase and was lying on his bed with his face in his hands. It was only now he seemed to feel all the shame that had caused his face to be red and pale by turns in the drawing-room at Suanmara. He lay there in a passion of tears, while the great owls kept moaning and hooting in the tower just outside his window, making sympathetic melody to his ears.

At last he arose and went over to the window and stood gazing out through the break in the ivy armour of the wall. He gazed over the tops of the trees growing in a straggling way down the slope to the water's edge. He could see far away the ocean, whose voice he now and again heard as the wind bore it around the tower. Thousands of stars glittered above the water and trembled upon its moving surface. He felt strong now. He felt that he might never weep again in the world as he had just wept. Then he turned to another window and sent his eyes out to where that great peak of Slieve Docas stood out dark and terrible among the stars. He could not see the house at the base of the hill, but he clenched his hands as he looked out, saying “Hope.”

It was late before he got into his bed, and it was still later when he awoke and heard, mingling with the cries of the night-birds, the sound of hoarse singing that floated upward from the room where he had left his father and The Randal. The prince and the chief were joining their voices in a native melody, Standish knew; and he was well aware that he would not be disturbed by the ascent of either during the night. The dormitory arrangements of the prince and the chief when they had dined in company were of the simplest nature.

Standish went to sleep again, and the ancient rafters, that had heard the tones of many generations of Macnamaras' voices, trembled for some hours with the echoes from the room below, while outside the ancient owls hooted and the ancient sea murmured in its sleep.

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