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- No Defense, Volume 1. - 1/13 -
By Gilbert Parker
BOOK I. I. THE TWO MEET II. THE COMING OF A MESSENGER III. THE QUARREL IV. THE DUEL V. THE KILLING OF ERRIS BOYNE VI. DYCK IN PRISON VII. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER VIII. DYCK'S FATHER VISITS HIM IX. A LETTER FROM SHEILA
BOOK II X. DYCK CALHOUN ENTERS THE WORLD AGAIN XI. WHITHER NOW? XII. THE HOUR BEFORE THE MUTINY XIII. TO THE WEST INDIES XIV. IN THE NICK OF TIME XV. THE ADMIRAL HAS HIS SAY
BOOK III XVI. A LETTER XVII. STRANGERS ARRIVE XVIII. AT SALEM XIX. LORD MALLOW INTERVENES XX. OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES XXI. THE CLASH OF RACE XXII. SHEILA HAS HER SAY XXIII. THE COMING OF NOREEN XXIV. WITH THE GOVERNOR XXV. THEN WHAT HAPPENED
THE TWO MEET
"Well, good-bye, Dyck. I'll meet you at the sessions, or before that at the assizes."
It was only the impulsive, cheery, warning exclamation of a wild young Irish spirit to his friend Dyck Calhoun, but it had behind it the humour and incongruity of Irish life.
The man, Dyck Calhoun, after whom were sent the daring words about the sessions and the assizes, was a year or two older than his friend, and, as Michael Clones, his servant and friend, said, "the worst and best scamp of them all"--just up to any harmless deviltry.
Influenced by no traditions or customs, under control of no stern records of society, Calhoun had caused some trouble in his time by the harmless deeds of a scapegrace, but morally--that is, in all relations of life affected by the ten commandments--he was above reproach. Yet he was of the sort who, in days of agitation, then common in Ireland, might possibly commit some act which would bring him to the sessions or the assizes. There never was in Ireland a cheerier, braver, handsomer fellow, nor one with such variety of mind and complexity of purpose.
He was the only child of a high-placed gentleman; he spent all the money that came his way, and occasionally loaded himself with debt, which his angry father paid. Yet there never was a gayer heart, a more generous spirit, nor an easier-tempered man; though, after all, he was only twenty-five when the words with which the tale opens were said to him.
He had been successful--yet none too successful--at school and Trinity College, Dublin. He had taken a pass degree, when he might have captured the highest honours. He had interested people of place in the country, but he never used promptly the interest he excited. A pretty face, a fishing or a shooting expedition, a carouse in some secluded tavern, were parts of his daily life.
At the time the story opens he was a figure of note among those who spent their time in criticizing the government and damning the Irish Parliament. He even became a friend of some young hare-brained rebels of the time; yet no one suspected him of anything except irresponsibility. His record was clean; Dublin Castle was not after him.
When his young friend made the remark about the sessions and assizes, Calhoun was making his way up the rocky hillside to take the homeward path to his father's place, Playmore. With the challenge and the monstrous good-bye, a stone came flying up the hill after him and stopped almost at his feet. He made no reply, however, but waved a hand downhill, and in his heart said:
"Well, maybe he's right. I'm a damned dangerous fellow, there's no doubt about that. Perhaps I'll kill a rebel some day, and then they'll take me to the sessions and the assizes. Well, well, there's many a worse fate than that, so there is."
After a minute he added:
"So there is, dear lad, so there is. But if I ever kill, I'd like it to be in open fight on the hills like this--like this, under the bright sun, in the soft morning, with all the moor and valleys still, and the larks singing--the larks singing! Hooray, but it's a fine day, one of the best that ever was!"
He laughed, and patted his gun gently.
"Not a feather, not a bird killed, not a shot fired; but the looking was the thing--stalking the things that never turned up, the white heels we never saw, for I'm not killing larks, God love you!"
He raised his head, looking up into the sky at some larks singing above him in the heavens.
"Lord love you, little dears," he added aloud. "I wish I might die with your singing in my ears, but do you know what makes Ireland what it is? Look at it now. Years ago, just when the cotton-mills and the linen- mills were doing well, they came over with their English legislation, and made it hard going. When we begin to get something, over the English come and take the something away. What have we done, we Irish people, that we shouldn't have a chance in our own country? Lord knows, we deserve a chance, for it's hard paying the duties these days. What with France in revolution and reaching out her hand to Ireland to coax her into rebellion; what with defeat in America and drink in Scotland; what with Fox and Pitt at each other's throats, and the lord-lieutenant a danger to the peace; what with poverty, and the cow and children and father and mother living all in one room, with the chickens roosting in the rafters; what with pointing the potato at the dried fish and gulping it down as if it was fish itself; what with the smell and the dirt and the poverty of Dublin and Derry, Limerick and Cork--ah, well!" He threw his eyes up again.
"Ah, well, my little love, sing on! You're a blessing among a lot of curses; but never mind, it's a fine world, and Ireland's the best part of it. Heaven knows it--and on this hill, how beautiful it is!"
He was now on the top of a hill where he could look out towards the bog and in towards the mellow, waving hills. He could drink in the yellowish green, with here and there in the distance a little house; and about two miles away smoke stealing up from the midst of the plantation where Playmore was--Playmore, his father's house--to be his own one day.
How good it was! There, within his sight, was the great escarpment of rock known as the Devil's Ledge, and away to the east was the black spot in the combe known as the Cave of Mary. Still farther away, towards the south, was the great cattle-pasture, where, as he looked, a thousand cattle roamed. Here and there in the wide prospect were plantations where Irish landlords lived, and paid a heavy price for living. Men did not pay their rents. Crops were spoiled, markets were bad, money was scarce, yet--
"Please God, it will be better next year!" Michael Clones said, and there never was a man with a more hopeful heart than Michael Clones.
Dyck Calhoun had a soul of character, originality, and wayward distinction. He had all the impulses and enthusiasms of a poet, all the thirst for excitement of the adventurer, all the latent patriotism of the true Celt; but his life was undisciplined, and he had not ordered his spirit into compartments of faith and hope. He had gifts. They were gifts only to be borne by those who had ambitions.
Now, as he looked out upon the scene where nature was showing herself at her best, some glimmer of a great future came to him. He did not know which way his feet were destined to travel in the business of life. It was too late to join the navy; but there was still time enough to be a soldier, or to learn to be a lawyer.
As he gazed upon the scene, his wonderful deep blue eyes, his dark brown hair thick upon his head, waving and luxuriant like a fine mattress, his tall, slender, alert figure, his bony, capable hands, which neither sun nor wind ever browned, his nervous yet interesting mouth, and his long Roman nose, set in a complexion rich in its pink-and-cream hardness and health--all this made him a figure good to see.
Suddenly, as he listened to the lark singing overhead, with his face lifted to the sky, he heard a human voice singing; and presently there ran up a little declivity to his left a girl--an Irish girl of about seventeen years of age.
Her hat was hanging on her arm by a green ribbon. Her head was covered with the most wonderful brown, waving hair. She had a broad, low forehead, Greek in its proportions and lines. The eyes were bluer even than his own, and were shaded by lashes of great length, which slightly modified the firm lines of the face, with its admirable chin, and mouth somewhat large with a cupid's bow.
In spite of its ardent and luscious look, it was the mouth of one who knew her own mind and could sustain her own course. It was open when Dyck first saw it, because she was singing little bits of wild lyrics of
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