CHAPTER V.

"pat."
"Yes, sur."

"Can you pack up my traps so that I can leave here on Saturday?" "Everything, sur?"

"Yes, everything. That is, my guns and shooting togs, and my clothing. The rest of the kit I'll buy. And, Pat"

"Yes, sur."

"I'm going to leave the country—to South Africa, in fact. I may not need your services after Saturday."

"Have I—have I done anything wrong, sur?" asked Pat, twirling a button of his jacket and timorously edging toward the table at which his master was seated.

"Oh, bless you, no—not that!" said Jack, looking up at his faithful servitor and involuntarily

smiling at the woe-begone appearance of the latter. "You've been a good servant, Pat. I'll be glad to recommend you. But the fact is, I expect to rough it for some months, at least, and I do not care to induce you to share the hardships I expect to encounter."

"An' would y' have me otherwise?" Pat eagerly asked.

"Gladly. But I have no right to even invite you to undergo the difficulties and face the dangers which I expect to meet."

"Then supposin' I invite myself, sur?"

"Do you mean it?"

"Do I mean it, sur?" Pat reproachfully repeated. "Do I mean that when I think of all the kindnesses you have done me durin' the past five years, I could not say, ' Where you go, there I go'?"

"But, Pat," Jack gravely remonstrated. "Have you fully considered the matter. It may mean to death's door, ay"

"To death's dure, or through it, for that matther," Pat doggedly persisted. "If you whistle, I'll come."

"God bless you, boy. That's the first encouraging word I've heard in many a day, and I'll not forget it," said his master, grasping his hand and giving it a hearty shake. "But remember, you're leaving pleasant corners for less cheerful ones. Take time to reconsider."

"I've reconsidhered and considhered again. I'm glad o' the chanst to get away from here,

partly because you're goin', and partly because

Well, never mind. I'm wid you."

"Because what, Pat?"

"Well, sur, because of a woman, if y' must know."

"Oh, ho! A woman, eh? Women seem to be at the bottom of all mischief, don't they?"

"Well, I don't know about that, sur. Me father—Lord ha' mercy on his sowl—used to say when he was whippin' me, that he was doin' it for me good, but I couldn't see it that way. This may be all for the best," he added philosophically.

"Tell me about it, unless you consider it a private matter," continued the master. "I'm interested."

"Well, sur, 'twas this way: I had me eye for a long while on one o' Lady Sturling's girls, Mary Doyle, an' faith I was makin' pickchers in me eye o' mesel' an' hersel' settled down on some little place as snug as two frogs undher a toadsthool. Finally, says I to mesel': 'I'll sphake to her, an' break the news,' never thinkin' but that she'd say 'Yes' so quick as to take me breath away. But there was two things ag'in' me at that time. One was that Mary had just been promoted to Lady Muriel's Frinch maid's place—the wan that was discharged—which made her full o' the divil's own notions, and the other thing was Sergeant McGinnis. An' may the divil fly away wid the same McGinnis, God forgive me. Well, since Mary sthepped int' the shoes o' the Frinch maid there was no sthandin' her at all, at all. In the firsht place, Mary Doyle became Marie D'Oyle, an' her pug nose fairly tilts backward, as well as up. In the second place, McGinnis—oh, damn McGinnis! savin' yer presence, sur

"Well, says I, afther beatin' about the bush for a while, ' Will ye have me, Mary?' 'Have ye for what?' says she. 'For betther or wurse,' says I. 'Yerra, go 'long wid ye,' says she. 'D'y' think I'd marry the like o' ye?' says she. 'Faix

ye might,' says I, 'or wurse,' says I. 'Divil a fear of it,' says she, ' so long as Sergeant Michael McGinnis is above ground,' says she. It was then I had me fursht rush o' brains to the head. 'So McGinnis is yer ch'ice?' says I. 'Well,' says I, 'if a scaarlet coat is what yer marryin', yer welcome to it,' says I. 'Faith ye'll find that in any three-ball shop in Whitechapel.' Wid that she came at me like a tiger-ess. 'Th' back o' me han an' the sole o' me fut t'y',' says she. 'Take yersel' out o' here,' says she; 'an' the farther y' go the more y'r company'll be enj'yed,' says she. An' so, sur, if y' mus' know, there's the rest o' the raison. I'd like to get far enough from this spot t' make me company really enj'yable t' her. Th' farther we go the betther it'll plaze us all."

Jack laughed, in spite of himself. "A scarlet coat!" he bitterly soliloquized, forgetting Pat's presence, and thinking only of the apt application of this remark to his own love affairs. Pat scraped his foot to recall Jack from his meditations.

"Well, women are queer creatures, Pat," he added, as if to signify that the conversation was closed.

« PreviousContinue »