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The Story of Bawn By Katharine Tynan Characters: 6738

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

I walked into the dining-room and found Uncle Luke at breakfast, with Lord and Lady St. Leger on each side of him, eating little themselves, but pressing one thing after another on him.

I felt a sense of a new alertness about the house. Although the old servants were faithful they had grown a little slipshod in their ways, seeing that it mattered little to their employers. Now things had suddenly assumed a swept and garnished air. One felt that the master had come home.

They all looked up at me with some expectation when I came in.

"Where have you been so early, Bawn?" my grandmother asked, while Uncle Luke came and set a chair for me and stood smiling at me; I was glad that in those waste places of the earth he had not forgotten those fine debonair ways which of old had made the women fall in love with him.

"I have been to Castle Clody," I answered.

"I thought as much. Why did not Mary come back with you? Was she transported at the good news?"

"She thought perhaps that Uncle Luke would--"

I paused for words. I had a feeling that even in this case, where I was sure that Uncle Luke cared for his old love, I should respect my godmother's dignity. Even Luke L'Estrange ought not to be sure that she expected him.

"I thought she would have come to rejoice with us," my grandmother said disappointedly; and my grandfather's face showed that he, too, did not understand the constant friend's absence in the hour of great joy.

"Is it that she cannot forgive us?" he muttered.

But the lover knew better than that.

"To be sure I must go to her," he said. "It would not be fitting that she should come to me. I would have been earlier astir than Bawn; I would have been waiting for her doors to open, only that-there is something that must be done first."

"I don't think there is anything you need wait for, Uncle Luke," I said, handing the sealed packet to my grandfather. "I met Richard Dawson on my way back. He was waiting for some one to carry his message. He told me that my grandfather was to examine these papers, to see that everything was there, and afterwards to burn them."

My grandfather seized the papers eagerly. His hand shook so that he could not open them, and he fumbled for his glasses.

"You have a son now, sir," said Uncle Luke, putting an arm about his shoulder.

They went away to the window to examine the papers, and for some time there was silence in the room. At last my uncle gathered the lot together and going to the fire placed them on top of it. They caught; and in a few seconds there was no trace of them.

"How little or how much of this Garret Dawson believed to be true I leave to his Maker," he said, turning about as the last ash went up the chimney. "For his son's sake I shall not try to punish him. I believe some of these letters were forged. I will show you one of these days letters from the girl I saved from Jasper Tuite. For that is how it was. She is an honoured wife and mother of children. It is one of the few things in my life of which I may be proud."

Afterwards he went away and we knew that he was gone to Castle Clody.

There was so much to be done and I had to do it all; Lord and Lady St. Leger could only be silent together, gazing into each other's eyes, praising God humbly for their son given back from the dead. I left them in the sunshine on th

e terrace creeping up and down, and as I looked back before I entered the house by the French windows of the morning-room, I recognized all at once that my grandmother had put off her black, and was wearing grey, with some of her old lace trimming it. It was a tabinet which I must have seen in my childhood. The memory of it was so remote that I felt as if I must have read about it; but I had an exact memory of the way it was made, which was billowing about the feet, and with a very straight bodice. While I looked at them she picked a rose from the wall and fastened it into her husband's coat.

I was busy till lunch-time, putting up packets and addressing them. When at last I went downstairs I found Uncle Luke and my godmother in the drawing-room. The years seemed to have slipped away from her. Her dear brown face was as shy and rapturous as the face of any young girl in love who knows she is beloved. They were standing by the fire when I went in.

My godmother had one foot on the fender and her hand supported her cheek. As I went up to her, I saw in the mirror that she was wearing a very beautiful ring of sapphires which I had noticed on Uncle Luke's hand.

She kissed me almost timidly, with her eyes down.

"She has taken me back again, Bawn," said Uncle Luke.

"He would not listen to me when I said I was too old," said my dear godmother.

In the dining-room Neil Doherty was bustling about with an air of great importance. Lord and Lady St. Leger had not yet come in.

"Sure, it never rains but it pours," Neil said, lifting a bottle of wine from the hearth where he had put it to take the chill off. "There's a great stir in the country. 'Tisn't enough to have Master Luke walking in to us safe and sound last night, but Garret Dawson's been found dead in his study. They didn't dare disturb him when he was busy. At last when Mrs. Dawson herself sent he was dead. A good riddance to bad rubbish, say I."

It was no use rebuking Neil for his want of charity to the dead. I knew there were worse things being said of Garret Dawson by every peasant. We were silent, awed, by this sudden and awful happening. I thought of poor comfortable Mrs. Dawson, and felt that, tyrant as he had been to her, she would grieve for him as though he had been a pattern of all the virtues. Yet she had her son. A thought came to me that Garret Dawson had not had time to disinherit his son after all.

"Poor Master Richard!" Neil went on, averting his eyes on me. "'Tis all over the country that last night Tom Jordan of Clonmany escaped from his bed in the small-pox hospital. About three o'clock this morning Master Richard Dawson brought him back in that quare carriage of his that brought you home last night, Miss Bawn. Tom's mortal bad this mornin'. 'Tis pretty sure Master Richard'll get the disease for he lifted Tom in his arms. I wonder what for at all was he driving round the country that hour of the night?"

"No matter what he was driving for, he was there to good purpose," said my godmother.

"True for you, Miss Mary," Neil responded placidly.

And I, too, I wondered how it was that Richard Dawson had been abroad at such an hour of the night. But I did not wait to think of that. I was proud and glad of the thing he had done, and I remembered how I had said to him that he was brave and how pleased he had been.

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