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ters: the old ones have been burnt for lack of the price of fuel, and all that he may be better dressed than the rest of us. Such vanity and misery forsooth!"
These, and similar remarks, followed the departure of our hero. Fortunately for the speakers they did not reach the subject of them, or they would have learned that he was the last man breathing who would suffer his name and character to be made a theme for levity; though having now the power to tell his accidental, unintentional, and unconscious slanderers, By this time, gentlemen, my rascally creditors are all satisfied "he might have contented himself with cautioning his friends not to meddle with his affairs in future. Their observations overheard the day before must have been punished, for then they would have been unpardonably true.
Before sunset the honest Lanty returned from the capital, having executed his mission; he recounted to his master how completely he had astonished the various tradesmen by his voluntary discharge of debts they had feared could only be recovered by legal process.
It was whilst rendering an account of his stewardship that the eyes of the faithful domestic first fell upon the diamond ring.
"Saints presarve us! Master, jewel, but that is a magnificent bag. I'll engage Lewy Catose hasn't got such a one to wear on high days and holidays and bonfire nights; but och, what a thing it would be, if by bad look you were to lose it, or have it stolen from you, either by man or woman! My heart would break at such a misfortunate loss. Get a big iron box, Master Gerald, and lock it up, as though 'twas the apple of your eye-orr-I have a schame that will presarve it from harm's way, if you'll take a fool's advice."
"Out with it, Lanty!"
"Get one made as like it as one pea is to the other, only of false stones, and you can wear the rale thing by day, and the substitution at night. Devil a one will ever diskiver the differ; besides, you may be pushed for the ready coin some day, and you can raise a big sum upon that beauty, and yet make the world belave that 'tis still on the finger of ye."
Lanty so harped upon the expediency of having a fac-simile ring made, that his master acceded to the proposition, and sent the original to Paris for that purpose.
The next day found him traversing the terrace, full of the hope that he should get a glimpse of his charmer, but the same ill fortune befel him as before, she was invisible. Day succeeded day, and still he failed in obtaining another sight of her whose image haunted his thoughts.
In due time his ring and its double reached him; the imitation was admirable, and the literal Lanty, on hearing his master express his satisfaction at the paste counterfeit, said,
"I wonder was it by baking or boiling they found out the knack of making such sparkling stones out of flour and water?"
The palace clock had chimed six, and Lanty was puzzling his brain with various conjectures as to what could detain his master so long from his dinner, when Gerald entered his barrack-room, his countenance bearing evidence of some recent excitement.
"Musha, then, 'tis meself that is glad to see you safe back this dark evening, but what ails you entirely? Something has happened to you, and oh, holy Paul, the ring's not on your finger; tell me, master, what's gone of it, and what's come of you, that your cheeks are like damask roses, and your eyes glisten like- -what's lost for ever I'm thinking." "Fear nothing, Lanty, you shall know all. I was sauntering in the forest, this morning, tempted by the clear sky and frosty air, when I encountered his Majesty, alone; he greeted me with the most gracious condescension, and signified his pleasure to speak on a matter of some moment. It appears that the good Father who brought me the late news from Ireland has given such details to the Royal James as renders the return of the Friar an object of the greatest consequence; but one obstacle prevented-the limited means of the Monarch did not enable him to despatch the Friar on this important mission; and his Majesty, in lamenting the state of his coffers, without reserve inquired if I could devise some means to assist him in this emergency. Lanty, I have lent King James my ring."
"You'd better say gave, Master Gerald, dear, for sorrow the sight you'll ever get of it again.'
"Psha! I have the sacred promise of James, that, as soon as Louis opens his treasury in his behalf, it shall be restored; and as a proof of especial favour, I have received a command to attend his Majesty this evening."
"The laste he could do, I'm thinking; you'll get a petty soupey, or maybe only a bisky and a glass of Osacray, for what was worth a hundred million of Ecuses."
Our young Hibernian was received with unusual distinction by the Monarch he had served. A brilliant assemblage filled the suite of rooms, and as O'Donnel surveyed the various groups, he saw the face of her he had so often sought in vain. The especial notice bestowed on him by the King induced the nobleman who acted as Chamberlain, in the little court of St. Germains, to proffer his services, should they be required, to obtain O'Donnel a partner for the dance, which would shortly commence. Gerald eagerly inquired if his new friend knew the name of the lady leaning on the arm of an old gentleman of most forbidding aspect, and learnt that she was the niece of Monsieur Fernet, one of Louis XIV.'s private bankers; that Mademoiselle Angelique was well known to the Chamberlain, and that he would introduce O'Donnel to her for the first cotilion.
This was beyond the lover's most sanguine expectation. The beauteous Angelique was led to the salon de danse by the enraptured soldier, and whether or no gratitude interfered with justice in the decision of James, as far as the cavalier was concerned, we cannot determine, but Gerald and Angelique he declared were the handsomest couple in the assembly.
We shall not attempt a description of what passed between the young people; we need scarcely say that O'Donnel, being an Irishman, made the best use of his time, and that the fair Angelique, without confessing that she had surrendered the citadel of her heart to the gallant besieger, permitted his applying to her uncle for an entrée at their house, where he might try his chance of winning her favour.
Gerald was not the man to let a purpose cool; the following morning found him in the apartment of the banker; a passionate avowal of his love, and demand of leave to address Angelique, was received with the same cold blank look by the man of wealth as though two hearts were not concerned in the affair.
"Monsieur O'Donnel," said the banker, "a Lieutenant in the Irish Brigade, whose only wealth consists in a ring of some inconsiderable value, is not the match for my niece. I am surprised that you retain that bauble, learning, as I have done, that you are, or have been, encumbered with debt. Should you ever feel disposed to part with it, perhaps you will permit me to become the purchaser; but on the other subject I must decline communication with you."
"Will you not allow me to receive my dismissal from Maam'selle Angelique? surely she should be the party to crush my hopes, and not you."
"Maam'selle Angelique is a giddy girl: her fortune is at her own disposal, 'tis true-that is "-he added, endeavouring to withdraw so important an admission-" that is, when she comes of age-with my consent beside which, her respect for my judgment and knowledge of the world would at all times induce her to consult my wishes on a matter of importance. However, to change the subject-I've taken a fancy to your ring."
"Psha!" said O'Donnel, irritated by the manner of Fernet; "why talk about such a thing as this when a jewel beyond price is what I seek to possess?"
"Once more, pray let me beg your silence on that theme; for the rest, a thousand crowns must be of more consequence to you than a mere toy; at that price it is mine."
"That price," rejoined O'Donnel," were about as much too low for the diamond this appears as it is too high for-paste.” "Paste, indeed!" echoed old Fernet; come, come, I happen to know better. Why King James wanted me to advance him a certain sum on that identical ring, but I never lend even on such terms."
Well," laughed Gerald, "you may be a better lapidary than either his Majesty or myself; of course we know that no one would suspect him of an attempt to raise money on a paste ring-yet, if you really believed this diamond, why did you refuse the royal request? and why do you now offer me so mean a sum?"
Perhaps," drily retorted the banker, "to bribe you out of your silly suit to my niece."
You would fail, then, if you forced a diamond mine on me, in exchange for this--paste ring."
"Ha, ha," sneered Fernet, " you adhere to that story, fearful of being robbed of your only treasure; trust me it will be safer in my custody."
"At least you will not rob me of it, if you pay one thousand crowns." "Which I will do," promptly answered the millionaire, eager to overreach this inconsequent; he seized a pen, and wrote, adding, "Give me your paste, and this order on my house in Paris is yours."
"My servant waits without, let him and one of your people witness the transaction," said O'Donnel, gravely.
With pleasure," sniggered Fernet, calling in a clerk devoted to his interest, at the same moment that Gerald summoned Lanty.
"Here, Lucas," said the banker, "I give Monsieur O'Donnel one thousand crowns for the ring of which I told you.”
The man smiled his felicitations at his master.
"Which I say is paste, Lanty," firmly uttered Gerald.
"Mark that, Mounseers," cried Lanty; "divil a harm to the master's cha-racter, if he takes the gould now-though 'tisn't as much as I'd say by his as offers, if the thing should be rale."
"That's my affair," said Fernet.
"Bien," added Gerald, mischievously; "then let grasping obstinacy find out the mistake at leisure."
"When I call it paste," concluded Fernet, hastily withdrawing the ring from our soldier's finger, "then you may claim my niece and her dower, Sir; take my order.-Lucas, I have made a bargain!"
"May you always be as content with it as I am!" said O'Donnel; and pocketing the order, he walked away-followed by the exultant Macarthy.
That very evening Gerald was again sent for by the King. Louis, learning the strait into which his royal brother had been driven, had gently chidden him for not having applied to the friendship of France, and forced on him an addition to his usual allowance, which enabled James at once to reclaim and return the O'Donnel ring.
Next day, Gerald, again chatting with his fellow-soldiers, was joined by old Fernet-our hero, aside, and in English, bade one of his friends rally him on the loss of his ring.
Ha," commented the banker, rubbing his hands, "that diamond Lucas has taken to a Paris jeweller, from whom I expect, every moment, to receive rather more than I gave you, Monsieur."
"More or less," said O'Donnel," I told you it was paste."
"You did, knowing no better."
"Knowing, at least, that this answers my purpose quite as well," said the young soldier, withdrawing his glove.
"Diable!" exclaimed Fernet; "two rings, exactly alike?"
"In all but value," quoth Gerald; "one for my King and myself, the other for Monsieur Fernet; and, considering the obligations under which his manner of receiving my proposal for his niece has laid me, it is natural to conclude that I should part with my family jewel to him for a third of its worth, with pleasure. The amount he offered did credit to his integrity; he scorns to take advantage of a brave man's poverty, at the very moment when he is baffling that man's dearest hopes.'
"What mean you?" demanded Fernet; but ere Gerald could reply, Lucas, on his way home, and closely followed by Lanty, accosted his master with,
"Oh, Monsieur, you have been insulted in my person, by that accursed jeweller; he says the ring is-"
"Paste," chorused Gerald, Lanty, and the bevy of officers. Paste?" repeated the dismayed Avaro.
"Yes, paste!" articulated Lucas. "Bless me!" said Gerald, coolly;
were you young, and a man of
rank, Sir, I ought to take satisfaction for this doubt of my word, given you before two witnesses. As it is, I suppose you know that your attempt at-I may call it-defrauding me of my diamond, here, has placed your reputation entirely at my mercy."
"That it has!" chimed in the O'Donnelites.
"Och, the negur!" shouted Lanty, "cotched in his own trap." "Of course," continued Gerald, "I shall feel it my duty to apprize both our sovereigns of the facts, lest they should imagine me capable of passing counterfeits. It will be nothing new for a grey negociant, a marchand, to have attempted a miserly transaction; but the name of an officer of the Irish Brigade must not suffer unjustly."
"Certainly not," coincided Gerald's amused compeers, while Fernet and Lucas stood
"Meet statues for the Court of Fear."
"It is paste, then," sighed the aged man.
"If you admit that," took up the lover, "you know what follows: you said, before your own man and mine, that when you called it so I might claim your niece and her dower."
"You did that, ould Jew-as I'm ready to testify," said Lanty.
"Poo," cried one of Gerald's friends, "the canaille care nothing for breaking their words; if they were men of honour no witnesses were needful."
"Monsieur O'Donnel," pleaded Fernet, attempting to laugh, "I own that even in your candour you have been too deep for me; honesty, it seems, is the best policy, after all. I assure you my only wish was to procure, at the highest sum I could afford, a present fit for my dear Angelique-what I have purchased of you is unworthy of her acceptance."
"Oh, Sir," said Gerald, "this statement accords but ill with that of your having striven to sell the ring. Its original shall be Angelique's when she is mine; pray wear the copy yourself, for my sake."
The merriment of the juvenile hearers was now so boisterous that the uncle was fain to retreat, leaning on the arm of the lover-and hoped to hush up a story so little to his own advantage, by bestowing Angelique and her fortune on the gallant son of Erin; but no sooner was she the fast married" Madame O'Donnel, than Lanty, and wags of a higher grade, including Louis XIV. himself, revived the tale, to the constant annoyance of Monsieur Fernet, who, to his dying day, had to bear the sobriquet of THE Diamond Merchant.
BENSON E. HILL.