Page images

admire, perchance to sketch, the lofty headlands. For my part, I prefer indoor nature, having already witnessed enough of her ladyship’s outward adornments..

I contrive leisure to hammer some classics into the head of a wild youth, my sister's son, and a greater adept at pulling an oar or a trigger than at learning. But he is a good lad withal; and I intend, if spared, that he shall “ walk the hospitals,” trusting, through favour of old commanders, coupled with my own long services, to procure him an appointment in one of Her Majesty's cruizers.

Somehow, salmon, various game, deer even, with tobacco, brandy, and foreign wines, find their way into my little abode. My fellow, Joe, a disabled marine, whose life I once saved, avers with a wink,—the familiarity of an old servant,that they come from the fairies. I fancy, however, though I never see it done, that my patients

are at the bottom of it: indeed their gratitude knows no bounds. “ It is scandalous of a queen's officer,” I say, and vainly try to frown it down, for I cannot well throw these free gifts into the sea. Besides, when I come in cold and wet a-nights, after visiting some poor creature on the hills, I find slippers and a change close by my study fire. The winds may howl, the waves may roar without, but the bogwood blazes not the less cheerily within; and Joe insists so on it, that a tumbler of brandy-and-water in the old corner will do me good, that I have not the heart to refuse.

The coast-guard captain, and maybe the gauger and supervisor, look in of an evening. They ask where I get my liquors, and swear they will deal at the same shop. I might be embarrassed for a reply, did they wait for one; but they proceed without a moment's delay to enjoy themselves as though they might never do so again. I think I have seen a leer in their eyes, or a lurking smile, as they ply the rubber or some round game; while Joe with officious alacrity bustles in and out, replenishing the shining brass kettle on the hob. Indeed, they often call when time or storm stayed, and help themselves in my absence, whereat I am heartily glad. For Joe keeps the keys of my cellar, which he locks with the solemnity of a gaoler; though for the life of me I cannot tell why, seeing that there are but two of us, besides the old woman, who cooks our meals, speaks nothing but Irish, and drinks only water.

Truly my hospitality thrives on itself, for the more the salmon, the mountain mutton, the brandy and wine are consumed, the more vigorously do they return. Why, I could sustain a siege, were it come to that pass; and without the assistance of my friends and certain pensioners, I know not what I should do.

When the rector and curate go their rounds they do me the honour to abide under my roof, and I am favoured with frequent calls from the Presbyterian minister and the priest. The “ doctor's,” though I say it, is a home house with them all: the attachment, in truth, is mutual ; for rich and poor, high and low, lean to me alike. And why not? If plenty without pro- • fusion, hospitality devoid of ostentation, and moderation in all things, fail to conciliate esteem, I know not what is to do it. Some tinge of melancholy shoots across my old heart when I think of it; but the “ doctor" will be missed when he is called away.

I plead the garrulous privilege of my age. I am talking too much, and I know it ; but there were matters to relate that needed this little introduction. And anent the priest, every one is aware that the subordinates of the Romish church are moved about at will; so the gentleman speak

ing of the curate, whom I was accustomed to see, had been replaced by another.

“How happens it, Joe,” said I,“ that the priest never comes here now? Step over, will you, and give my compliments, the doctor's compliments, and say how happy I should be to see him at dinner.” The invitation was courteously declined; but my new friend called soon after, as it might be to thank me himself. Fancy a thin spare man, well 'past forty, but looking older than he was, haggard and meagre to a degree, and wearing masses of coal-black hair here and there shot with grey. His dark eyes, though piercing and restless, were tempered by an expression of infinite melancholy. They evinced a peculiarity which I had never witnessed before, becoming at intervals suddenly fixed, as if the attention were turned to sights and sounds about to be present, but which, fading away, gave rise to disappointment, if not despair.

« PreviousContinue »