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fB-OAVt SHORT STORY.] Diamond…


fB-OAVt SHORT STORY.] Diamond Darling I BY WINIFRED GRAHAM. -1 On Christmas Eve all looked typically bright and cheerful at Gastlecourt, the old Irish home of the Daxliztg family. Sir Christopher, a keen sportsman, always insisted upon wintering in Ireland, and was a familiar figure in hunting circles, though bis pretty young wife occasionally breathed hereey by whispering that the sunny Riviera —for her-,held aharms. But at Obristan&s-time amy such wandering thoTijfht was held captive by old associations. A large house-party made Castleoourt the merriest possible &bode, and Lady Darling, well known as a London hostess, showed her friends- what read Irish hospitality meant. I have just received such a funny letter from some poor man in the town," she told a little group of music-lovers gathered round the piano. Lady Darling, a skilled instrumentalist, had half the opera scores at her finger ends. She pointed as she spoke to a very dirty envelope lying amongst her music, addressed in an uneducated hand to Lady Dawlin, Kertle- cort." "My correspondeirt seems to think I know him," she laughed. "At any rate, he knows me. which is half the battle! Do read the epistle, it will really amuse you." She roee from the piano and handed the soiled envelope to one of her guests, a blue- eyed young man with a passion for Wagner. He read its contents aloud, to the general merriment of the Wtoenem.- Most Noble, Kind, and Good Lady,— O'Callaghan appeals to you for a little donation to aid me on as I am a cripple. Five shillings would enable me, my lady, to get what I Vrants-some pictures, land- scapes, battles,"and small kerchiefs, as they axe light to carry about and sell in the country. You are the only noble, humane, and good lady to me always when I would appeal to your ladyship for any aid, which is about five years ago, and the reason I have trespass on your kindness now, my lady, is my arm got sore from the crutch, and I had to stay indoors for eight days and had to spend the five shillings I had saved by hard industry, to pay sixpence a night for my bed and to get a cup of tea and bread once a day, and, it left me as poor as poor. I humbly appeals to you for the five shillings to get the little articles to carry about as the arm is well, amd not to be idling about the streets, no matter how disabled I am. My lady, it is in your power to aid me to get them. Sincerely hoping you are well in health, my lady, I am, my lady, your humble, sincere, and grateful John 0 Cal- -laghan. O'Oallaghan will call at Kertlecort House on Christmas Eve about four o'clock for Lady Dawlin s kind answer and aaid five shillings to try and get the little articles. JOHN O'CALLAGHAN. A burst of laughter greeted the final words. 'And said five shillings!' He is going to make sure quite of that!" declared one of the listeners. How funny the poor Irish are!" "Yes; they simply convulse me!" declared another. "If I lived here I should keep all the begging letters; they would be much more entertaining to oolleet than picture post-cards." No one noticed, while the letter was being read, & little girl steal softly into the spacious music-room, through folding-doors, and down a, flight of shallow oaken steps. She had dark, waving hair, caught up high on her head by a big scarlet bow of soft silk—American fashion—a very short red frock, and tiny red shoes. She seemed part of the surrounding colour scheme, far the carpet, hangings, and upholstering were an intense crimson, matched by masses of berries in larse bowls on the tables. She stood in the firelight by the stone- hoqtted mantelpiece, listening with wide- open eyes to the light-hearted jokes levelled at G'Gallaghan's expense. Then, suddenly, as if she could bear it no longer, she came quickly forward, her lips quivering nervously, her little hands out- stretched. "M. mummy." she said, you will give him the five shillings You see, if he got those things he could ask people for money on the road without seeming to beg. Poor 0 Callaghan hates to seem to beg." Diamond a bright eyes, almost tearful now, saw only the human suffering and sorrow under these oddly expressed lines. What had merely amused these society men and women pierced the keener perception of that young, fresh heart. "Why, of eourse, he shall have the money," said Lady Darling, "and you can give it to him when he calls, if you like. Diamond. I don't want to be bothered to talk to him. I know what these people are, with their interminable Westings." She took two half-crowns from her purse and handed them to the delighted child. Jtay he ha-ve my old orga-n, too?" asked Diamond: the one we put the round tunes in on the yellow cards? I really don't want it any more." If the words were not quite accurate Diamond tried to think she was speaking the truth. She would not have had her mother knew for the world the pang it cost bet to part with her beloved toy. "Oh! that horrid thing which plays out of tuue," said Lady Darling. Yes, certainly let O'Gallajan have it! I am sure if he takes it about people will pay him to go away. Such an instrument will be quite a source of income!" Diamond smiled. She knew well. young as she was, the only sacrifices worth making yere the hopeful, bright, happy ones, given without a. grudge. As sherart joyfully to the door Lady Dar- ling called her:— Don't forget to come down after tea—we are all going to be ohildren, because it's Christmas Eve—and open our presents in the hall! I wouldn't be. surprised if we had tnap-dragon or played 'blind man's buff! Diamond looked back, laughing. "How lovely!" she gasped. "It's striking lour now. I dare say O'Callaghan is here!" She new upstairs hi search of the organ, atill grasping the money close in her little am. She never realised how much she loved her or,-an till that minute! The dear old tunes grown so familiar, the dances to Which her tiny feet tripped and twinkled- what matter that they were out of tune? diamond's spirits had always made up for that, being perfectly in harmony and tune with the whole world. "A source of inecme"-m-other had said it -"a source of income for O'Callaghan!" It was very hard to have only bread and tea; perhaps the organ would bring him a little fcutter and jam, too. Accordingly, Diamond's favourite toy was earned below and given to the delighted O'Callaghan, together with five shillings from the small philanthropist's warm, eag-er #ivgers. "r want your luck to charge, O'Callaghan," Abe said, "because to-morrow will be Christ- inas Day. when everyone ought to be happy." "By the help of God and this elegant organ, it will be a st.range thing if it doesn't, little lady. O'Callaghan was almost tearful in his gratitude as he grasped Diamond's hand. 100 did not noti-ce that his were dirty; she 8aw only the light of hope leap to his sunken eyes. The pinched, thin face looked radiant. for the moment, as he lingered on the door- Step, before vanishing into the nighty mists, "There is a fair on this evening a-t. Bally- ffan," be continued, pointing to the tow-n. "I will hurry meeelf back as fast as this erutch can stump it, and play some fine music in the market-place. Be jabers! It Ourht to bring in the price of an egg from Toung and old!" He trembled with excitement, and his mood tftfected Diamond. "I a-m so glad." she cried. "I wish I eou'.d be there to see! Don't lose any time! flood-bye O'Callaghan, good-bye!" "Heaven bless you, little lady, and may you grow up to be a real fine lady, the full W the door, and get a noble gentleman to keep you in gold and silver all your life." With this strange bleesing O'Oallachan departed, for to his eye a full-blown, buxom wonum was the highest type of beauty. As Diamond stood there quite alone an idea eame to her—one of those wonderful, sudden ideas, like a lightning flash. Unseen, Diamond slipped through the open door, gently closed it. and ran hatlesa, despite the biting cold, in the direction taken by O'Callaghan. She caught him up just by a group of mangnificent beech trees.. "Wait a moment," she cried, breathlessly. "I am coming with you to the fair, O'Callaghan; yes, really!" laughing at his surprise. "I am going to make a lot of money for you, and no one will know me! I can get myself dirty directly by rubbing snow on my dress and tearing it-to look like your clothes. I'll take off my hair ribbon and my stockings, but I mast Keep my ehcee on to dance in!" "To dance in!" gasped O'Callaghan. "Of course. Don't yon see I am going to da.nce for you?" replied Diamond, releasing her curls and shamng them over her face. j "i learnt step-dancing when we were in Lon- don last summer, i used to do it in we drawing-room to the tunes on the organ, only mother played' them for me then, as she liked the piano best!" Already Diamond was jpulling off her stockings to make herself like tiia peasant children. O'Callaghan muttered a faint protest and beamed all over his face. Share the saints would reward a young lady who showed so much daring in the cause of chanty, and who was he to be hindering her from winnilig favour with the aristocracy of Heaven? Thus he oaimed his conscience, as Diamond secreted her stockingb in the niche of an old brick wall. "Perhaps," she &aid, Santa Olaus may find them while I'm gone, as it's Christmas Eve. You know he is very clever abouit see- ing stockings in tiie dark." She could not help thinking of the good time she must miss after tea, when all the house-party would be opening their presents in the oak-panelled "hall. Inere might pos- sibly be parcels with her name upon them, but she would be far away, dancing for O'Callaghan at BaJlyglen Fair! At the ligiits oi Bailyglen oame in sight. On Christmas Eve all the peasantry lett their cabins to crowd to the market- place, busy with buying, selling, gossip, and wild horseplay. "There—there are a great many people!" stammered Diamond. She was very cold, as O'Callaghan's ?ame- neos necessitated low walking. She pre- tended to herseif this was the reason her teeth chattered; she would not uwa har heart stOOd still with sudden, unexpected fear. Surely," ho replied. What would you be looking for? Christmas Eve is as good él6 a wake any day!" He took up his position by the grey stone Court House in the oeittre of the main street, and began turning the handle of the small organ with a will—Diamond showing him how to insert the tunes. This is my favourite dance," she said. I did it at a children's bazaar in London." The moment the familiar tune broke upon her ear Diamond forgot cold, shyness, and that strange shrinking from the grimy Irish faces w hdeh she at first experienced. Off went the little feet, round flew' the short, snow-be- spattered skirts, whilst dishevelled curls in bewitching disorder floated on the evening breeze. Diamond, graceful as a sylph, threw her whole energy into the performance. Her eyes seemed dancing with her body, her lips were parted in a smile, without which a dance is dead. Instantly a crowd gathered, for here was an exhilarat- ing novelty, actually something new in Bailyglen. O'Callaghan had never been seen with an organ before, and the townsfolk I mistook the little dancin-g girl for a stranger in their midst. Shouts of applause, loud compliments, and clapping of hands greeted Diamond's efforts. When she paused to rest, making a pretty Little bow, the sight of the delighted faces sent a thrill through the breathless child. "Aye, my beauty, don't let them judge you by words; let them judge you by deeds!" cried OCaUaghan, giving her his cap and intimating that she should hand it round to the spectators. Instead, with- a pretty smile, she placed the cap on the ground, saying if they had anything for O'Cajlaghan they might throw it that way. Inistanttly a i shower of copipera greeted the suggestion, and several pieces of silver, for among the | onlookers were one or two well-to-do tradœ- men who had stopped out of curiosity. O'Callaghan's eyes nearly started out of his head as he grabbed the gain. "By St. Patrick," he gapped, "if some good craythur isn't for fetching me a little refreshment I'll be fainting clean away!" Freeh faces appeared momentarily to swell the ranks of Diamond's admirers. She bent over O'Callaghan, who signed to her to fix ajiother tune in the organ. I am very sorry," she told him, politely, but I think I must go now. It is nearly my bedtime, and, you see, I have a long walk home. I am afraid it will be too dark for me even to find my stockings agadn." O'Callaghan stared up at her with a queer, wild look that completely altered his face. "Going!" he snarled, snatching her arm; not if I know it! You've got to dance first —or there will be murthur! He shook his fist threateningly, and seemed preparing for an onslaught with his crutch. I am never going to let you leave me!" he muttered. "Never so long as I live!" I can't—I can't stay!" she cried, dragging her arm from him and trying to make her escape quickly through the denee crowd. Stop her! Stop her!" shrieked O'Cal- laghan. She's no right to be leaving of me!" His words caused general dissension. One or two rough haawte caught hold of Diamond. ( while several voices proclaimed the child should be left alone. Amonp, the prevailing confusion Diamond felt auffcca-ted and faint. In her weak child's voice she called Help, help!" with all the breath left to her. Suddenly the crowd fell back.* Women curtseyed low. men bared tiheir heads. It seemed to Diamond that the King of England must unexpectedly have appeared to camse such homage. Looking up she foumd hereelf standing un- molested, face to face with the parish priest. If you please, yer reverence," said a woman, from under a huge ahawl, she's English, and O'Callaghan says she belongs to him. You'll see, if you spake to her, she's never one of us. I saw that with my eyes shut." Father Malone put a protecting hand on the little Protestant girl's shoulder. I am Diamond Darling, from Castle- comrt," the child explained, tearfully, and I am so tired! Will you please take me home?" She nestled up against him with a con. fiding air, made the more winning by her complete weariness. The parish priest was a muscular man, and he lifted the tired child-form like a feather, carrying her tenderly in his pro- tecting arms to the shelter of the great white eon vent near by. Her head lay confidingly on his shoulder; by the time he handed her to the nims she bad fallen into a sound sleep. "Take good care of her while I ride to I Castleconrt." be said. I think I shall be a welcome visitor, for the little one must have been massed." Diamond was still asleep when Sir Chris- topher and Lady Darling arrived in a closed carriage to fetch the wanderer. The sisters had wrapped her in a blanket and dried her wet clothes. They beamed upon Lady Darling as ahe thanked them warmly, and saluted her with a nun's kiss. Sir Christopher carried the stall slumber- ing chi'd to the oarria-ge. His face showed he had passed through hours of anxiety. Once Diamond started up crying, I can't -I can't stay!" in a voice of terror; then, seeing her parents, she laughed softly and sank back into her father's aims. Your fur is so soft," she murmured, stroking the sable collar of his overcoat. I am so glad you are my father and not O'Oallaghon!"




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