No Defense by Gilbert Parker Page 2 of 262


CHAPTER I. THE TWO MEET

"Well, good-bye, Dyck. I"ll meet you at the sessions, or before that at the assizes."

It was only the impulsive, cheery, warning exclamation of a wild young Irish spirit to his friend Dyck Calhoun, but it had behind it the humour and incongruity of Irish life.

The man, Dyck Calhoun, after whom were sent the daring words about the sessions and the assizes, was a year or two older than his friend, and, as Michael Clones, his servant and friend, said, "the worst and best scamp of them all" - just up to any harmless deviltry.

Influenced by no traditions or customs, under control of no stern records of society, Calhoun had caused some trouble in his time by the harmless deeds of a scapegrace, but morally - that is, in all relations of life affected by the ten commandments - he was above reproach.


Yet he was of the sort who, in days of agitation, then common in Ireland, might possibly commit some act which would bring him to the sessions or the assizes. There never was in Ireland a cheerier, braver, handsomer fellow, nor one with such variety of mind and complexity of purpose.

He was the only child of a high-placed gentleman; he spent all the money that came his way, and occasionally loaded himself with debt, which his angry father paid. Yet there never was a gayer heart, a more generous spirit, nor an easier-tempered man; though, after all, he was only twenty-five when the words with which the tale opens were said to him.

He had been successful - yet none too successful - at school and Trinity College, Dublin. He had taken a pass degree, when he might have captured the highest honours. He had interested people of place in the country, but he never used promptly the interest he excited. A pretty face, a fishing or a shooting expedition, a carouse in some secluded tavern, were parts of his daily life.



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