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Chapter NumberIX
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Full Date1880-12-25
Page Number44
Word Count1760
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSir Denis O'Donoghue. A Reminiscence of the English Bar
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Beyond one or two short notes telling me to what sort of place be bad arrived and asking abont our companions wbom be had left behind, and giving me one or two oommisaions which I faithfully discharged, 1 heard nothing more for ten years abont O'Donoghne, his wife, or Ultima Tbnle, beyond what I read in the newspapers. What I saw in the papers was to the effect that another learned gentleman nad been appointed to Ultima Thule, in the place of Mr. Justice O'Donoghne, who had gone to South Saccharins*

One day, however, just w, wearied with my "work, I was about to return to my dinner and ?shy wile—for by that time there was a Mrs. Fandi—a knock at the door was followed by the appearance of a sunburnt gentleman with clean shared cheeks but a long pair of moustaches, who was dressed in a white linen coat and a Panama hat, and was smoking an attenuated cigar, which looked like a prolonged lead pencil suffering from disease of the skin. He an nounced himself BBBir Denis O'Donoghue. A ehort stare of astonishment was followed by a hearty greeting on both aides, and, thanks to a Hansom cab, the welcome of Mrs. Fandi was ebortly added to my own.

1 never received a cross word or lork for bringing a friend'home to dinner, ho waver un expectedly. A place was set for O'Donoghue without any difficulty or fuss; and, five minutes after he had taken his seat, he felt as much at home as I did.

His story was soon told. His wife had quarrelled with the Governor's lady at Ultima Thole, and from that moment Mrs. O'Donoghue had suffered from au occasional cough, which she attributed to the prevalent fogs. Bhe per suaded her-husband to ask for another place, and he returned to Bngland to do so. It was September, he said, and my chambers were shut up. He saw the Colonial Minister and told him about the cold. " The sun never sets," said His lordship, " in Her Majesty's dominions, and nothing can be easier than to Suit yon in respect of climate. There is a vacancy in South Sac charins j what do you say to that V"

O'Donoghne thankfully accepted South Sac charins. Thither he went with his yielding partner. But some slight, real or imaginary, received on some publio occasion, rendered the wife of the Chief J ustice once more discontented and morose. After long endeavouring to remedy her grievances by a good deal of ill-disguised self-assertion, ehe took to mourning over them in solitude and silence. The low spirits and loss

of health which resulted she attributed to the extraordinary heat of the climate, and would often lament that her husband's unfortunate

profession required her to go through snch hard ships, which she considered she endured with an almost miracnlous fortitude.

At last O'Donoghue was obliged to go home again to ask for another change, but there had been a change in the Colonial Office, and the new Minister did not entertain his predecessor's views ss to the accommodating capacity ef Her Majesty's dominions. BeiDg miserable where he was and unable to obtaia any change, and having, moreover, earned his pension, O'Dono ghue retired from his place and. received the honoQr of knighthood.

" I took ahip," said onr guest, " to go and re lieve my Wife from the oppressive heats of South Saccharins, and wondered, during the whole voyage, to what place I should take her and how she wonld manage to get there. The vessel was detained by contrary winds, and the voyage was ten days longer than nsnal. When I arrived in the colony I found my wife had been attacked by yellow fever, and had been dead about a week. _ Poor creature! it was the contrary winds that killed her, for I'm sure I could, have rescned her from the very jaws of death if I could only have addressed her as Lady O'Donoghne."

The whole narrative was given with the same elegance and'. ease which characterized the utterances of O'Donoghne, whether grave or gay; bat there was a tone of mingled bitterness and humour in the last sentences which told a volume of domestic misery and marred ambi


Our guest, alter telling ub this history, re lapsed into comparative silence, though hardly into melancholy, for he seemed to enjoy his dinner vastly. It happened to be very good, and my wife had got oat some wine of a better sort, which I did not drink every day—the only change which had to be made in honoar of O'Donoghue.

Every -now and then hia eyes lighted on my wife with a slight expression of enquiry or ot examination, and then tamed away with an air of

reflection. Then he would stir himself up and, eay -something, and then he fell back again into silence, I attributed it to the recollection of tbe<sadeoenes which he had recounted.

Thus ended the meal.

"We -usually have our dessert in another room during the hot weather," said Mrs. Fandi; "and so you can go to your fruit and wine without waiting for one thing to be removed and another to be brought, and can enjoy your self more in an air unpolluted by dinner."

O'Donoghue paid her some compliment on the plan being a good one, and we sat down to

dessert in the other room.

Presently we were left alone, and O'Dono ghue looked out of the window and was pleased with the little garden.

"Would you prefer sitting outside ?" I &Bked. " Teahe said, " I was going to ask you to let me light a cigar presently, and, of course, we can't do that in here, in a European house."

" Oh! for that matter," I answered, '? you may smoke anywhere here: but we'll go out all the same."

I gave him some of the things to carry and took others myself, and led the way, and my wife met ns and helped us, saying that she had already sent out the garden table and some


There were thrtee chairs instead of two, and Mrs. Fandi took her seat for a little while and

then left us again. Presently my little girl came and was introduced to O'Donoghue. She did not bore us, however, and soon left us, ask ii g, from her mother, whether we wonld have coffee out there or indoors ? We said we would have it out there.

Soon after the maid had brought it to us, my wife came again and talked to us and saw that we had all we wanted.

O'Donoghue's silent fit still continued, and every now and then he seemed to look in wonder Alternately at bis male and female entertainer. At last he looked away into. distance and drew the smoke from his cigar more rapidly till it began to burn bright, and I remembered that this was what he often did before he began to speak.

At last he .rose, and, without looking at either of as, took two or three hurried stops away and

then back to his seat.

" There mast be some mistake here," he said —speaking more to himself than to either of ns —"something wrong though neither of them know it, some delusion, some enchantment, some Oircoean witchery."

My wife looked enquiringly at me as if ask ing whether he was mad. I had no time, how ever, to interrupt or to answer bim; for he im mediately continued:—

"Aye, but its perfectly fair, though, that every man should Buffer his own way, one by illusion .to be followed by disenchantment, and the other from moroseness, selfishness, stupidity, and ill-temper, to end in—well I've taken a cottage on the coast of Oornwall, where I can keep a large pig ashore and a small yatch afloat. Ob! but I beg your pardon, Mrs Fandi, I really scarcely noticed yon were here. It is not really true iB it—it does not always continue, surely, this—appearance of domestic happiness

Which I see before me ?"

" Always," said my wife; " I now see what you were talking about, I could hardly under stand you before. Tea, we have always been bappy together."

" I never knew it otherwise," I said.

"Ton don't, I suppose, mean me to under stand," said be," that your wife always consults

your happiness as she appears to have done to day, without interrupting your wishes by ber caprices and affectations, that she is contented witb jour calling in life, satisfied with the enjoyment you can afford her, does not hold you up to the derision of her acquaintance, does not complain of circumstances' which you cannot avoid, and sicken over imaginary sorrows ?"

My wife burst out laughing, and told him we had never been different from what he had seen to-day.

" Well," said O'Donoghue with a sigh," I sup pose it is true as you say so; but it is very pain ful to hear it. I have read of such things iu books, but I have nevei seeu them. You have not quarrelled once—not even in a polite way, jou know—since I have been here. I did not think it was in human nature. That is, not in married human nature. And what have I done? What sins have I committed? I, Denis O'Donoghue, or my fathers before me .that the fruits of all my varied gifts, of my youthfnl triumphs over my companions in learn ing, of my legal knowledge, painfully acquired both by aptitude and assiduity, of my natural eloquence, both in speech and writing which must soon have enabled me to outstrip my com petitors—that the fruits of all these advantages should have been cut off prematurely by the

hand of a selfish and obstinate woman!"

" I am very sorry for you," said my wife. And O'Donoghue burst iuto tears.

We usually spend a portion of our vacations at Autumna House on the »Tornish coast, where we eat some of O'Donoghue's pig ashore and cruise in bis yacht afloat, and as he says, " indulge him with the vicarious enjoyment of the unwonted pleasures of connubial agree ment." And I often smoke my pipe with Sir Denis in a little room, adorned with the same books end pictures (with the addition of an oil painting of the Chief Justice of South Sac charins),' as furnished his chambers in Peach

bloBsom Court.