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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/242

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CHAPTER II.


LORD DAVID DIRRY-MOIR.


I.

LORD LINNÆUS CLANCHARLIE had not always been old and proscribed; he had had his period of youth and passion. We know from Harrison and Pride that Cromwell, when young, loved women and pleasure,—a taste which generally (another aspect of the "woman question") betrays a seditious man. Distrust the loosely clasped girdle (Male præcinctum juvenem cavete). Lord Clancharlie, like Cromwell, had had his wild hours and his irregularities. He was known to have had a natural child, a son. This son was born in England in the last days of the republic, just as his father was going into exile; hence he had never seen his father. This illegitimate son of Lord Clancharlie had grown up as page at the court of Charles II. He was styled Lord David Dirry-Moir: he was a lord by courtesy, his mother being a woman of quality.

The mother, while Lord Clancharlie was playing the owl in Switzerland, made up her mind, being a beauty, to give up sulking, and was forgiven for that Goth her first lover, by one who was undeniably a polished gentleman, and at the same time a royalist,—no less a person, in fact, than the king himself. She had been the mistress of Charles II. but a short time, sufficiently long, however, to have made his Majesty (who was delighted to have won so pretty a woman from the republic) bestow on the little Lord David, the son of his divinity,