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invading shoals of seals, which gambol and turn | stands Glas-aitch-é Island, a mere rock, a hunin clumsy sport, with a glint of white bellies as they roll, and a shower of prismatic gems.
dred feet above sea-level, crowned by an antique fortress, which was modernized and rendered habitable by a caprice of the late lord. At the period which now occupies us it con
In June the salmon arrive in schools, led each by a solemn pioneer, who knows his own special river; and then the fisher-folk are busy.sisted of a dwelling rising sheer from the rock
So are the seals, whose appetite is dainty. Yet the hardy storm-children of Ennishowen love the seals although they eat their fishfor their coats are warm and soft to wear; their oil gives light through the long winter evenings for weaving off stuff and net-mending. There is a superstition which accounts for their views as to the seals; for they believe them to be animated by the souls of deceased maiden-aunts. It is only fair in the inevitable equalization of earthly matter that our maiden-aunts should taste of our good things, and that we in our turn should live on theirs. A mile from the shore-at Swilly's mouth
on three sides; its rough walls pierced by small windows, and topped by a watch-tower, on which was an iron beacon-basket. The fourth side looked upon a little garden, where, protected by low scrub and chronically asthmatic trees, a few flowers grew unkempt—planted there by my lady when she first visited the place as mistress. On this side, too, was a little creek which served as harbour for the boats-a great many boats of every sort and size; for the only amusement at Glas-aitch-é was boating, with a cast for a salmon or a codling now and again, and an occasional shot at a seal or cormorant.
MISS LAFFA N.
[Miss Laffan is to some extent the precursor | place in the conversations between the charof a new school in Irish fiction. The Irishman acters on the so-called "burning questions” of always witty, good-humoured, and blundering, Irish politics; and these discussions reveal a was almost annihilated by the stern realism penetrating sense of the real issues and the of Carleton, who painted him as he too often is genuine opinions of people that are especially —sad, brooding, and amid unhappy surround- remarkable in an authoress. The fault of the ings. But Carleton wrote only of the very poor, book is that those debates are interpolated, and his realism, though sometimes unsparing so to speak-and do not (as in the case say enough, was usually sympathetic. Miss Laffan of Miss Keary's Castle Daly) arise naturally draws most of her pictures from the middle out of the incidents of the story. The Hon. classes; and she cannot be accused as a rule of Miss Ferrard is written in a milder key, and too much sympathy with the people she de- on a pleasanter theme; for it deals chiefly scribes. Even her admirers cannot acquit with the wayward loves of two Celtic natures; her of overdrawing occasionally; for she is a and there are passages descriptive of nature satirist, and satire can rarely keep within the full of picturesqueness, and conversations and modesty of nature; but, on the other hand, she situations of deep romantic charm. Flitters, deserves the highest praise for the courage Tatters, and the Counsellor from which our and the remarkable skill with which she has extracts are taken-is a work of quite a difexposed some of the shams and the narrow-ferent character from any Miss Laffan had ness that deface the society of Ireland as of yet produced. It is a study of Arab life in every other country. Her writings in this Dublin, full of human pathos, and, let us hope, respect mark unquestionably a new era in though intended to be relentlessly realistic, Irish literature. not wholly free from exaggeration. This short story is perhaps the most successful Miss Laffan has written, and fully deserves the unanimous praise which it has received. In Christy Carew-which is the last book the authoress has produced-she is back once again among the middle classes of Dublin, and her biting satire of some of the mean
Her first work was Hogan, M.P. In this her satire is perhaps seen in its most crude, and, to some minds, most repellent form. The central figure is a loud-mouthed and insincere demagogue; and this character is sustained with great force and fidelity. An important feature of the book is the discussions that take
nesses of metropolitan life cannot be read without much amusement and without a certain degree of sadness.]
THREE DUBLIN ARABS.
(FROM “FLITTERS, TATTERS, AND THE COUNSELLOR.")
Ladies first. Flitters, aged eleven, sucking the tail of a red herring, as a member of the weaker and gentler sex first demands our attention. She is older and doubly stronger than either Tatters or the Counsellor, who are seated beside her on the wall of the river, sharing with her the occupation of watching the operations of a mud-barge at work some dozen yards out in the water. Of the genus street Arab Flitters is a fair type. Barefooted, of course, though, were it not for the pink lining that shows now and again between her toes, one might doubt that fact-bareheaded, too, with a tangled, tufted, matted shock of hair that has never known other comb save that ten-toothed one provided by nature, and which, indeed, Flitters uses with a frequency of terrible suggestiveness.
The face consists mainly of eyes and mouth; this last-named feature is enormously wide, so wide that there seemed some foundation for a remark of the Counsellor's, made in the days of their early acquaintance before time and friendship had softened down to his unaccustomed eyes the asperities of Flitters' appearance, and which remark was to the effect that only for her ears her mouth would have gone round her head. The Counsellor was not so named without cause, for his tongue stopped at nothing. This mouth was furnished with a set of white, even teeth, which glistened when Flitters vouchsafed a smile, and gleamed like tusks when she was enraged, which she was often, for Flitters had a short temper and a very independent disposition. The eyes, close set, under overhanging, thick brows, were of a dark brown, with a lurid light in their depths. She was tall for her age, lank of limb, and active as a cat: with her tawny skin and dark eyes one might have taken her for a foreigner, were it not for the intense nationalism of the short nose and retreating chin, and the mellifluousness of the Townsend Street brogue that issued from between the white teeth.
For attire she had a princesse robe, a cast-off perhaps of some dweller in the fashionable squares. This garment was very short in
front, and disproportionately long behind, and had a bagginess as to waist and chest that suggested an arbitrary curtailment of the skirt. Viewed from a distance it seemed to have a great many pocket-holes, but on closer inspection these resolved themselves into holes without the pockets; underneath this was another old dress, much more ancient and ragged. However, as it was summer weather, Flitters felt no inconvenience from the airiness of her attire. Indeed, to look at her now with her back against a crate of cabbages which was waiting its turn to take its place on board the Glasgow steamer, one would think she had not a care in the world. She was sitting upon one foot, the other was extended over the quay wall, and the sun shone full in her eyes, and gilded the blond curls of Tatters, who, half lying, half sitting close beside her, was musingly listening to the conversation of the Counsellor. Tatters was about six years old, small and infantine of look, but with a world of guile in his far-apart blue eyes. He could smoke and chew, drink and steal, and was altogether a finished young reprobate. He wore a funny, old jerry hat, without any brim, and with the crown pinched out, doubtless with a view to its harmonizing with the rest of his attire, the most prominent portion of which was undoubtedly the shirt. The front part of this seemed not to reach much below his breastbone; but whether to make amends for this shortcoming, or to cover deficiencies in the corduroy trousers, the hinder part hung down mid-thighs at the back. One leg of the corduroys was completely split up, and flapped loosely in front, like a lug-sail in a calm. His jacket, which was a marvel of raggedness, was buttoned up tight; and seated, hugging both his knees with his hands, he looked a wonderfully small piece of goods. He had an interesting, sweet, little face; his little black nose was prettily formed; a red cherry of a mouth showed in the surrounding dirt, and gave vent to the oaths and curses of which his speech was mainly composed in an agreeable little treble pipe.
The Counsellor, or Hoppy, for he had two names, the second derived from a personal deformity which affected his gait, was nine years old, but might have been ninety, for the Weltkunst his wrinkled, pock-marked countenance portrayed. He had small, bright, black eyes, and a sharp, inquisitive nose. A keen, ready intelligence seemed to exude from every feature. He was the ruling spirit of the trio. Tatters' manner to him was undisguisedly
deferential, and Flitters only maintained her individuality at the expense of a bullying ostentation of superior age and strength. They were all three orphans. Flitters' father had run off to America a year before;--her mother was dead. Tatters was a foundling, whose nurse had turned him loose on the streets when she found no more money forthcoming for his maintenance, and the Counsellor's antecedents were wrapped in complete obscurity. He sometimes alluded mistily to a grandmother living in Bull Lane; but he was one of those people who seem all-sufficient in themselves, and for whom one feels instinctively, and at the first glance, that no one could or ought to be responsible. He had on a man's coat, one tail of which had been removedby force, plainly, for a good piece of the back had gone with it, giving him an odd look of a sparrow which a cat has clawed a pawful of feathers out of. He had on a great felt hat of the kind known as billycock, which overshadowed well his small, knowing face. He wore shoes of very doubtful fit or comfort, but still shoes, and thus distinguishing him from his companions, who, to borrow a phrase from their own picturesque dialect, were both "on the road."
Flitters could not read. The Counsellor possessed all the education as well as most of the brains of the party. Nevertheless, Flitters was its chief support. She sang in the streets. The Counsellor played the Jew's harp, or castanets, and sometimes sang duets with her, while Tatters stood by, looking hungry and, watching for halfpence. They had other resources as well: coal-stealing along the wharfs, or sometimes sifting cinders on the waste grounds about the outskirts of the city, to sell afterwards; messages to run for workmena very uncertain and precarious resource, as no one ever employed them twice. Altogether, their lives were at least replete with that element so much coveted by people whose every want and comfort is supplied-to wit, excitement.
THE DEATH OF "FLITTERS." ["Flitters" has just been entertained by Mrs. Kelly, wife of Hugh Kelly, who had been a friend of her mother's, and who now remains alone kind to her of all people in the world. Flitters has left Mrs. Kelly's house, and this is what follows.]
She drew up and stopped on seeing a sudden rush of people down a side lane. Following them with her eyes, she saw two men who had just come out of a low groggery in the lane, rolling over each other in the mud, clutching and struggling for the upper hand.
A fight clearly: Flitters forgot all the world beside, flew down the lane, and in a few minutes reached the ring that was rapidly forming round the combatants.
Two great draymen, one half drunk and encumbered with his frieze coat; the other, in his shirt sleeves, wholly drunk and in a fury of rage. They staggered to their feet, striking and kicking like wild horses. Flitters was staring open-mouthed at the man in the big coat. She knew him, but she was so dazed with excitement, that, for an instant, her recollection was puzzled-Hugh Kelly. The name flashed before her in an instant-her friend's husband; and the next moment Flitters, seeing he was at a disadvantage in the fight, had thrown herself headlong between the combatants. Which of them struck her, or how it was, she alone knew; but the next moment the two men were dragged apart by the horrified bystanders, and she fell senseless, her head crashing against the stone step of the door.
Tatters and the Counsellor, meantime, had grown impatient, and had left the rendezvous to wander up and down in search of their partner. They knew the street, but not the house, and as the pair, angry and discontented, turned into it, they beheld in the centre of a crowd a stretcher borne by four policemen, and on it lying Flitters, quiet and silent as a
Tatters fell back against the wall and gasped with terror, grief, and rage. What had happened? was she hurt, or had she "done anything?" To do anything that could bring them within the pale of the law meant five years in a reformatory. Magistrates are only too glad to clear the streets of such creatures, knowing that, however costly the reformatory system may be, it is a saving in the long run. But the recipients of the bounty are rarely in
accord with this opinion; and if Flitters was to be "quodded" for that period, it meant starvation to Tatters at least. The Counsellor might be able to make out a living for himself, but Tatters would inevitably be reduced to breaking a lamp or demanding alms of a poor-law guardian, either a preparatory step to following his friend.
The Counsellor, meantime, uttered a widemouthed howl, and flinging himself into the throng, proclaimed himself her brother, and demanded at large the history of the calamity. From twenty voices he heard twenty stories, each widely differing from the others. This much at least he knew, she was being carried to the hospital; and the two draymen who had "killed" her were in custody.
It was a beautiful day. A hot sun beat on the roofs, the granite steps of the great portico glistened with a dazzling sheen, and the huge plate-glass windows were wide open, like so many mouths gasping for air.
Tatters and the Counsellor went down a back lane-the same where the former had changed his toilette the preceding day, and lay down to pass the anxious hours as best they could.
The Counsellor's expedition in search of evidence had been absolutely useless. No one had seen the blow. Some were positive it was Slattery; others equally positive it was Hugh Kelly's foot that had given the fatal kick. His only hope lay now in the chance of Flitters being able to identify the criminal. He lay quite still, biting his fingers, and fidgeting with impatience for the hour of admittance to chime on the steeple clock near by. Tatters was quieter; he had made up his mind for the worst, and lay still in the sun-heat, mechanically tracing figures in the soft white dust of the path, or plucking idly at the blades of grass that struggled for a dusty existence in the stone-bordering beside him.
One o'clock struck; but the Counsellor was so busy counting the chimes that preceded the hour-stroke, that he did not see a cab roll by, with a policeman seated on the box, and two more inside in company with two big roughcoated men. An outside car followed, with some men in plain clothes seated on it.
They all passed up the great, white, hot steps, and through the door into a wide long hall, so cool, so clean, and fragrant of flowers, that it felt like heaven itself after the sweltering heat and dust without. They stood still, waiting for orders. The prisoners, stunned and soddened-looking, hardly raised their eyes from the tesselated floor. At last a timid, pretty nun appeared, and, drooping her eyes, murmured something to one of the men in plain clothes, at which the whole troop set themselves in motion, and followed her up a great carved oak staircase through fresh wide halls with deep windows full of cool green ferns, into a ward where, on one white bed among many others, some tenanted, some empty, lay Flitters, her dark eyes half closed, and her wild hair streaming back on the snowy pillow.
The sun-stained face had been sponged with vinegar and water, and looked strangely colourless and pinched. The dark violet circles round the eyes and mouth were most significant of
Perhaps it was as well for Hugh Kelly's all. The reverend mother stood with a grave,
He rushed back to Tatters, whom he found now the centre of a group of sympathizing women, who were bidding him not to cry, and trying to obtain his address from him. Tatters, in all his grief, did not for an instant lose his self-possession, or forget his mendacity, and was in the middle of a pathetic family history when the Counsellor arrived.
"Who hot her?" he sobbed.
""Twas Hugh Kelly: no, 'twas Slattery," replied another; "bud when she comes to she'll 'dentify him, if so be sh's raelly kilt. Don' ye remember when Bill Casey got six months for murderin his mother-in-law wid the poker; he an' his brother was in it, an' they were both had up to hospital for the old wan to choose which done it. She'll have to 'dentify Kelly whenever she comes to."
The Counsellor listened so far, his sharp ears selecting all the salient points out of the babel, for everybody had rushed out into the street to enjoy the excitement. Then he seized Tatters, and started with him in pursuit of the cortège.
They followed it to the hospital, and waited until nearly seven o'clock to hear the report of the doctors.
Two o'clock was the hour at which the poor senseless body was to recover its understanding and human intelligence. Long before even mid-day Tatters and the Counsellor might have been seen skulking about the precincts of the hospital. They saw a pale, sickly woman, with a tiny infant in her arms, go up the huge granite steps of the door, and beg in vain for admittance. After a short interview with the portress sister she crept away again, sobbing despairingly.
wife that the Counsellor did not guess her bootless errand.
anxious face at the head of the bed; and, as the men in plain clothes prepared their writing materials, the beads of her great rosary slipped through her fingers one by one.
She knew well what the identification meant -starvation and ruin to the man's wife and little children.
Flitters, dying, half dead as she was, knew this too. She could see the figures going and coming against the white painted wall before her; she could hear drowsily the sounds of life and stir without in the air that streamed through the open casements, and now and again black spots, like flies, passed before her eyes. She knew Hugh Kelly had struck her, and that he was there waiting for her to say so, in order to be marched back to prison till the assizes came on; and his wife, her friend, and the tiny baby that had lain in her lap the day before, were to starve. Flitters curled her lip at the idea.
Then Slattery, a big black-headed, burly man, was made to stand up before the bed, with his hat on as he had it when the offence was committed. The usual questions were put. Flitters answered clearly, "No, that was not the man." With a sigh of relief, and a look of thankfulness, he moved to one side, and Hugh Kelly, with every trace of colour faded from his red face, and with lips that trembled, though he bit them, tried to make his eyes meet the great burning light of Flitters', as she stared resolutely at him.
"No!" she said, in an emphatic, though broken tone, "that's not him, either."
Every one started, and, most of all, Hugh Kelly himself. Flitters repeated in a fainter voice, what she had said. Positively sure, on her oath, and all the rest of it. She knew she was dying, and didn't care; he never laid a finger on her.
Then she broke down, and could say no more. Her eyes closed, and she seemed to fall back into the stupor from which she had been just roused. Further questioning was declared to be as impossible as it was useless, and, baffled and wondering, the ministers of justice withdrew.
They gave her some restoratives, and, after a while, she sank into a restless stupor.
As soon as two chimed, the impatient Counsellor jumped up, and taking Tatters by the hand, presented himself at the door. They were put into the waiting-room; after an hour's impatient detention there the door opened and admitted the reverend mother.
She led the way through the vast painted
halls up the carved staircase, past niches whence great white statues held out hands that expressed pity or benediction; windows filled with cool green ferns, or bright, sweetsmelling flowers, through the open sashes of which currents of warm balmy air came pouring in. They stepped on soft, thick matting, or polished slippery oak. Everything seemed large and magnificent to their unaccustomed eyes, and the Mother Superior's black trailing cloak gave her the proportions of a goddess.
At last they reached Flitters' bedside; two nuns were beside her, and held up the pillow which the child's head rested on, that she might breathe more easily, for she was gasping pitifully now. Her eyes rested a moment on the faces of her partners, and she signed Tatters to draw nearer to her. He obeyed, passing up the side of the bed opposite to that where the two sisters were. He was crying, and laid his grubby little hand on hers.
The Counsellor pushed rapidly behind him. "Flitters," he said, "did ye 'dentify Hugh Kelly, eh?"
Flitters did not reply; she was looking beseechingly at the reverend mother; she, wondering and compassionating, took the place of the other nuns, who moved away down to the foot-rail of the bed, and bent her handsome, kind face over the dying form.
Flitters held out her hand, holding that of Tatters in it, and looked again from him to the Mother Superior's face.
She now understood, and, with tears in her eyes, took the dirty little paw from Flitters.
"Don't fear, my poor child, I will take care of him, and God, who cares for the desolate--'
Flitters' face seemed to lighten for an instant, somehow, and she turned her deep eyes to the Counsellor.
"D'ye hear me?" he repeated; "did ye 'dentify him, Hugh Kelly, ye know?"
He spoke in a loud, quick voice, for he saw that all light and understanding was fast fading from her face.
She heard him, though. The great eyes opened wide once more, and met the Counsellor's with all the old light and fire glowing in their depths. With a supreme effort she caught back, as it were, one fleeting breath.
"Ye lie," she gasped, "he never laid a finger"
The word died upon her lips; and, as it did, the fierce, defiant look faded from her face into a gentle smile, that remained there when the nun's white hands had closed the eyes for ever.