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" Exactly wbat I mean," said Linton. " He will probably linger
on, uncbauged ; so tbat if events follow tbeir habitual train, there will
be little time or temptation to spread scandal about bim ; and then,
wbat, at first blush, seems to lack kindness, is, in reality, the very
truest and most considerate service we can render."

"Then you will look to this part of tbe matter, Linton?" said
Casbel, on whom bis apparent frankness bad resumed its former
ascendancy.

" Leave it all to me," said be ; " and so good night." And, witb
tbat, he departed, leaving Casbel and Tiernay together.

They were silent for some minutes, as Linton's retiring steps were
beard going towards bis own room. Soon after tbe loud bang of a
door resounded through the house, and all was still. Little knew
tbey, tbat scarcely bad he gained bis room than be left it noiselessly,
and, slipping down tbe great stairs, crossed the ball, and, entering the
theatre, proceeded by the secret passage which led to Casbel's dress-
ing-room, and through the thin panel tbat covered which, he could
easily overhear whatever was spoken within.

" At least you will allow tbat he has been candid witb us here ?"
said Casbel, in a tone of remonstrance.

" I cannot afford to give a man my confidence, because I am. unable
to sound his intentions," said Tiernay. " I disliked this Linton from
tbe first, and I never yet saw any distinct reason to alter the senti-
ment. That he has puzzled me — ay, completely puzzled me and all
my calculations, within tbe last few days, is quite true. He has done
that which, in a man like himself, disconcerts one altogether, because
it is so difficult to trace bis probable motive. What would you say,
were I to tell you that this deep man of the world, this artful and
subtle gambler in the game of life, has actually proposed for a girl
who is utterly without fortune or family influence ? That she is en-
dowed with noble attributes — that she is one a prince might have
chosen to share his fortunes, I deem as nothing to the purpose, for I
cannot conceive such qualities as hers could weigh with him : but so
it is, be has actually made an ofler of his baud."



142 EOLAND CASHEL.

" Dare your confidence go further ?" said Casliel, eagerly, " and
tell me — to whom ?"

" Yes. I have been guilty of one breach of faith in telling you so
much, and I'll hazard all, and let you hear the remainder. It was
Mary Leicester."

" Mary Leicester !" echoed Cashel, but in a voice barely audible.

" Mary Leicester," continued Tiernay, " may count it amou"' her
triumphs to have attracted one whom all the world regards as an ad-
venturer ; a man living by the exercise of his clever wits, profiting by
the weaknesses and follies of his acquaintances, and deriving his sub-
sistence from the vices he knows how to pamper."

" And what answer has he received?" asked Cashel, timidly.

" None, as yet. Poor Corrigan, overwhelmed by misfortune,
threatened by one whose menace, if enforced, would be his death-
stroke, has begged for a day or two to consider ; but the reply is
certain."

" And will be——" Cashel could not command his emotion as he
spoke.

" Kefusal."

" You are certain of this, Tiernay ? You are positive of what you
sav?"

" I know it. My old friend, were he even inclined to this alliance,
could never coerce her ; and Mary Leicester has long since learned
to distinguish between the agreeable qualities of a clever man and the
artful devices of a treacherous one. She knows him ; she reads him
thoroughly, and as thoroughly she despises him ! I will not say that
her impressions have been unaided ; she received more than one letter
from a kind friend — Lady Kilgoff; and these were her first warnings.
Poor Corrigan knows nothing of this ; and Mary, seeing how Linton's
society was pleasurable to the old man, actually shrank from the task
of undecei\dng him. ' He has so few pleasures,' said she to me one
evening ; ' why deny him this one ?' — ' It is a poison which cannot
injure in small doses. Doctor,' added she, another time ; and so, half
jestingly, she reasoned, submitting to an intimacy that was odious to
her, because it added a gleam of comfort to the chill twilight of his
declining life."

" And you are sure of this — you are certain she will refuse him ?"
cried Cashel, eagerly.

" I am her confidant," said Tiernay, " and you see how worthily I
repay the trust ! K"ay, nay ! I woidd not tell these things to any
other living ; but I feel that I owe them to you. I have seen more
misery in life from concealment, from the delicacy that shuns a frank
avowal, than from all the falsehood that ever blackened a bad heart.
Mary has told me all her secrets; ay — don't blush so deeply — and
some of yours also."



EOLAND CASHEL. 143

Casliel did indeed grow red at this speech, and, in his eftort to con-
ceal his shame, assumed an air of dissatisfaction.

" Not so, my dear young friend," said Tiernay ; " I did not mean
to say one word which could offend you. Mary has indeed trusted
me with the secret nearest to her heart. She has told me of the
proudest moment of her life."

" When she rejected me ?" said Cashel, bitterly.

" So was it — when she rejected you," re-echoed Tiernay. " "When
poor, she refused wealth ; when friendless in all that friendship can
profit, she declined protection ; when almost homeless, she refused a
home ; when sought by one whom alone of all the world she pre-
ferred, she said him nay ! It was at that moment of self-sacrifice,
when she abandoned every thought of present happiness and of future
hope, and devoted herself to one humble but holy duty, she felt the
ecstasy of a martyr's triumph. You may think that these are ex-
aggerations, and that I reckon at too exalted a standard such evi-
dences of affection, but I do not think so. I believe that there is
more courage in the patient submission to an obscure and unnoticed
fortune, beset with daily trials and privations, than in braving the
stake or the scafi'old, with human sympathies to exalt the sacrifice."

" But I offered to share this duty with her; to be a son to him
whom she regarded as a father."

"How little you know of the cares — the thoughtful, watchful,
anxious cares — you were willing to share ! You could give wealth and
splendour, it is true ; you could confer all the blandishments of for-
tune, all the luxuries that rich men command ; but, one hour of gentle
solicitude in sickness — one kind look, that recalled years of tenderness
— one accustomed service, the tribute of affection — were worth all
that gold could purchase, told ten times over. And these are not to be
acquired ; they are the instincts that, born in childhood, grow strong
with years, till at length they form that atmosphere of love in which
parents live among their children. No ! Mary felt that it were a
treason to rob her poor old grandfather of even a thought that should
be his."

" But, I repeat it," cried Cashel, passionately, " I would participate
in every care ; I would share her duties, as she should share my for-
tunes."

" And what guarantee did you give for your fitness to such a task?"
said Tiernay. " Was it by your life of pleasure, a career of wild and
wasteful extravagance — was it by the unbridled freedom with which
you followed every impulse of your will — was it by the example your
friendships exhibited — was it by an iudiscriminatiug generosity, tliat
only throws a shade over better-regulated munificence, you would
show that you were suited to a life of unobtrusive, humble duties ?"

" Tou wrong me," said Cashel. " I would have lived in that cottage



144 ROLAND CASHEL.

yonder, without a tliought or a wisli for the costly pleasures you think
have such attractions for me."

" Tou had already sold it to your friend."

" Sold it! — never! — to whom ?"

" I thought Linton had purchased it."

« Never !"

'•' Well, you gave it as a gift ?"

" I did intend to do so ; but seeing the value Corrigan puts upon it,
I will give Linton double — thrice the value, rather than part with it."

"What if he refuse?"

" He will not. Linton's fancies never run counter to solid advan-
tages. A thousand pounds, with him, is always twice five hundred,
come with w-hat condition it may."

" But Linton may, for his own reasons, think differently here ; his
proposal to marry seems as though it were part of some settled plan ;
and if you have already given him a legal claim here, my opinion is,
that he will uphold it."

" That I have never done ; but my word is pledged, and to it he
may hold me, if he will. Meanwhile, I have seen Kenny feck this
morning. The man Hoare has offered us a large sum on mortgage,
and I have promised to meet them both the day after to-morrow. If
I read Tom aright, 10,000Z. will free me from every claim he has upon
me."

" A heavy sum, but not ill spent if it liberate you from his friend-
ship," cried Tiernay, eagerly.

" And so it shall."

" Tou promise me this — you give me your word upon it ?"

" I do."

" Then there arc good days in store for you. That man's intimacy
has been your bane ; even when you thought least of it, his influence
swayed your actions and perverted your motives. Under the shadow
of his evil counsels your judgment grew warped and corrupted ; you
saw all things in a false and distorted light ; and your most fatal error
of all was, that you deemed yourself a ' gentleman.' "

" I have done with him for ever," said Cashel, with slow, deliberate
utterance.

" Again I say, good days are in store for you," said Tiernay.

" I cannot live a life of daily, hourly distrust," said Cashel ; " nor
will I try it. I will sec him to-morrow; I will tell him frankly that
I am weary of his fashionable protectorate ; that as a scholar in
modish tastes I should never do him credit, and that wc must part.
Our alliance was ever a factitious one; it will not be hard to sever it."

" Tou mistake much," said Tiernay; " the partnership will not be
so easily relinquished by him who reaps all tlie profit."

" Tou read me only as a dupe," said Cashel, fiercely.

Tiernay made no reply, but waving his hand in adieu, left the room.



EOLAND CASHEL. 145



CHAPTER XXI.

Hell's eloquence — " Temftation !"

Haeold.

Tom Keane, the Gatekeeper, sat moodily at his door on the morn-
ing after the events recorded in our last chapter. His reflections
seemed of the gloomiest, and absorbed him so completely, that he
never noticed the mounted groom, who, despatched to seek the Doctor
for Lord KilgofF, twice summoned him in vain to open the gate.
. "Holloa!" cried the smartly-equipped servant, " stupid ! will you
open that gate, I say ?"

" It's not locked," said Tom, looking up, but without the slightest
indication of obeying the request.

" Don't you see the mare won't stand ?" cried he, with an oath.

Tom smoked away without replying.

" Sulky brute, you are !" cried the groom ; " I'm glad we're to see
the last of you soon."

"With this he managed to open the gate and pass on his way.

" So, it's for turnin' me out, yez are," said Tom to himself; " turnin'
me out on the road — to starve, or maybe — to rob" — (these words
Avere uttered between the pufls of his tobacco-smoke) — " after forty
years in the same place."

The shrill barking of a cur-dog, an animal that in spitefulness as in
mangy condition seemed no bad type of its master, now aroused him,
and Tom muttered, '' Bite him. Blaze! hould him fast, yer soule!"

" Call off your dog, Keane — call him off!" cried out a voice, whose
tones at once bespoke a person of condition ; and at the same instant
Linton appeared. " You'd better fasten him up, for I feel much
tempted to ballast his heart with a bullet."

And he showed a pistol which he held at full cock in his fingers.

" Faix, ye may shoot him for all I care," said Tom ; " he's losing
his teeth, and won't be wortb a ' trawneen ' 'fore long. Gro in there
— into the house," cried he, sulkily ; and the animal shrank away
craven and cowed.

" Tou ought to keep him tied up," said Linton; " every one com-
plains of him."

" So I hear," said Tom, with a low, sardonic laugh ; " he used only
to bite the beggars, but he's begun now to be wicked with the gentle-
men. I suppose he finds they taste mighty near alike."

" Just so," said Linton, laughing ; " if the cur could speak, he'd
tell us a labourer was as tender as ' my Lord.' I've come over to see

TOL. II. L



146 EOLAND CASHEL.

you," added he, after a moment's pause, " and to say that I'm sorry
to have failed in my undertaking regarding you ; tliey are determined
to turn you out."

" I was thinking so," said Tom, moodily.

" I di(i my best. I told them you had been many years on the
estate "

'' Forty-two."

" Just so. I said forty and upwards — that your children had grown
up on it — that you were actually like a part of the property. I spoke
of the hardship of turning a man at your time of life, with a helpless
family too, upon the wide world. I even went so far as to say, that
these were not the times for such examples ; that there was a spirit
abroad of regard for the poor man, a watchful inquiry into the evils
of his condition, that made these ' clearances,' as they call them,
unwise and impolitic, as well as cruel."

" An' what did they say to that P' asked Tom, abruptly.

" Laughed — laughed heartily."

" They laughed ?"

" No — I am wrong," said Linton, quickly, " Kenuyfeck did not
laugh ; on the contrary, he seemed grave, and observed that up at
Drumcoologau is there such a name ?"

" Ay, and nice boys they're in it," said Tom, nodding.

" ' Well, up at Drumcoologau,' said he, ' such a step would be more
than dangerous.'

" ' How do you mean ?' said Mr. Cashel.

" ' They'd take the law into their own hands,' replied Kenny feck.
— The man who would evjct one of those fellows might as well make
his will, if he wished to leave one behind him. They are determined
fellows, whose fathers and grandfathers have lived and died on the
land, and find it rather hard to understand how a bit of parchment
with a big seal on it should have more force than kith and kindred."

" Did ould Kennyfeck say that ?" asked Tom, with a glance of un-
utterable cunning.

" No," replied Linton, " that observation was mine, for really I was
indignant at that summary system which disposes of a i)opulation as
coolly as men change the cattle from one pasturage to another. ]\Ir.
Cashel, however, contented himself with a laugh, and such a laugh
as, for his sake, I am right glad none of his unhappy tenantry were
witness to.

" ' Tou may do as you please down here. Sir,' said Kennyfeck—
who, by the way, does not seem to be any friend of yours — ' but the
Drumcoologan follows must be humoured.'

" ' I will see that,' said IVIr. Cashel, who, in his own hot-headed
way, actually likes opposition, ' but we'll certainly begin with this
fellow Keane.'



EOLAND CASHEL, 14.7

" ' I suppose you'll give biin tlie means to emigrate ?' said I, ad-
dressing Kennyfeck.

" ' "We generally do in these cases,' said he.

" ' I'll not give the scoundrel a farthing,' broke in Mr. Cashel. ' I
took a dislike to him from the very hour I came here.' And then he
went on to speak about the dirt and neglect about the gate-lodge, the
ragged appearance of the children — even your own looks displeased
him ; in fact, I saw plainly that somehow you had contrived to make
him your enemy, not merely of a few days' standing, but actually
from the moment of his first meeting you. Kennyfeck, though not
your friend, behaved better than I expected: he said that to turn
you out was to leave you to starve ; that there was no employment to
be had in the country ; that your children were all young and help-
less ; that you were not accustomed to daily labour ; indeed, he made
out your case to be a very hard one, and, backed as it was by myself,
I hoped that we should have succeeded ; but, as I said before, Mr.
Cas'hel, for some reason of his own, or perhaps without any reason,
hates you. He has resolved that out you shall go, and go you must !"

Keane said nothing, but sat moodily moving his foot backwards and
forwards on the gravel.

" Por Mr. Cashel's sake, I'm not sorry the lot has fallen upon a
quiet-tempered fellow like yourself; there are plenty here who
wouldn't bear the hardship so patiently."

Keane looked up, and the keen twinkle of his grey eyes seemed to
read the other's very thoughts. Linton, so proof against the search-
ing glances of the well-bred world, actually cowered under the vulgar
stare of the peasant.

" So you think he's lucky that I'm not one of the Drumcoologan
boys ?" said Keane ; and his features assumed a smile of almost in-
solent meaning.

" They're bold fellows, I've heard," said Linton, "and quick to re-
sent an injury."

" Maybe there's others just as ready," said he, doggedly.

" Many are ready to feel one," said Linton, " that I'm well aware
of. The difference is, that some men sit down under their sorrows,
crestfallen and beaten; others rise above them, and make their
injuries the road to fortune. And really, much as people say against
this ' wild justice' of the people, when we consider that they have no
other possible — that the law is ever against them — that their own
right hand alone is their defence against oppression — one cannot
wonder that many a tyrant landlord falls beneath the stroke of the
ruined tenant, and particularly when the tyranny dies witli the
tyrant."

Keane listened greedily, but spoke not; and Linton went on :

" It so often happens that, as in the present case, by the death of

l2



148 EOLAND CASHEL.

one man, the estate gets into Chancery ; and then, it's nobody's affair
who pays and who does not. Tenants then have as much right as the
landlord used to have. As the rents have no owner, there's little
trouble taken to collect them ; and when any one makes a bold stand
and refuses to pay, they let him alone, and just turn upon the others
that are easier to deal with."

" Tliat's the way it used to be here long ago," said Keane.

" Precisely so. Tou remember it yourself, before Mr. Cashel's
time ; and so it might be again, if he should try any harsh measures
with those Drumcoologan fellows. Let me light my cigar from your
pipe, Keane," said he ; and, as he spoke, he laid down the pistol
which he had still carried in his hand. Keaue's eyes rested on the
handsome weapon with an cx2)ression of stern intensity.

" Cashel would think twice of going up to that mountain barony
to-morrow, if he but knew the price that lies upon his head. The
hundreds of acres that to-day are a support to as many people, — and
this day twelvemonth, perhaps, may lie barren and waste; while the
poor peasants that once settled there have died of himger, or wander
friendless and houseless in some fixr-away country, — and all this to
depend on the keen eye and the steady hand of any one man brave
enough to pull a trigger !"

" Is he going to Drumcoologan to-morrow ?" asked Keane, dryly.

" Yes ; he is to meet Kennyfeck there, and go over the property
with him, and on Tuesday evening he is to return here. Perhaps I
may be able to put in another word for you, Tom, but I half fear it
is hopeless."

" 'Tis a lonely road that leads from Slieehan's Mill to the oidd
churchyard," said Keane, more bent upon following out his own
fancies than in attending to Linton.

" So I believe," said Linton ; " but Mr. Cashel cares little for its
solitude ; he rides always without a servant, and so little does he fear
danger, that he never goes armed."

" I lieard that afore," observed Tom, significantly.

" I have often remonstrated with him about it," said Linton. " I've
said, ' Eemember how many there are interested in your downfal.
One bullet through your forehead is a lease for ever, rent-free, to
many a man whose life is now one of grinding poverty.' But he is
self-willed and obstinate. In his pride, he thinks himself a match for
any man — as if a riile bore and a percussion-lock like tliat, there, did
not make the merest boy his equal ! Besides, lie Avill not bear
in mind that his is a life exposed to a thousand risks ; ho has neither
family nor connexions interested in him : Avere he to be found dead
on the roadside to-morrow, there is neither father nor brolliei*, nor
uncle nor cousin, to take up the inquiry how he met his fate. The




Tlie Tcmptatioii



ROLAND CASHEL. 149

coroner would earn his guinea or two, and there would be the end
of it !"

" Did he ever do you a had turn, Mr. Linton ?" asked Keane, while
he fixed his cold eyes on Linton with insolent effrontery.

"Me! injure me? Never. He would have shown me many a
favour, but I would not accept of such. How came you to ask this
question?"

" Because you seem so interested about his comin' home safe to-
morrow evening," said Tom, with a dry laugh.

" So I am !" said Linton, with a smile of strange meaning.

" An' if he was to come to harm, sorry as you'd be, you couldn't
help it, Sir?" said Keane, still laughing.

" Of course not ; these mishaps are occurring every day, and will
continue as long as the coujitry remains in its present state of
wretchedness."

Keane seemed to ponder over the last words, for he slouched his
hat over his eyes, and sat with clasped hands and bent-down head for
several minutes in silence. At last he spoke, but it was in a tone and
with a manner whose earnestness contrasted strongly with his former
levity.

" Can't we speak openly, Mr. Linton ? — wouldn't it be best for both
of us to say fairly what's inside of us this minit ?"

" I'm perfectly ready," said Linton, seating himself beside him ;
" I do not desire anything better than to show my confidence in a
man of courage like yourself."

" Then let us not be losin' our time," said the other, grufily.
" What's the job worth ? that's the chat. "What is it worth ?"

",Tou are certainly a most practical speaker," said Linton, laugh-
ing in his own pecuhar way, " and clear away preliminaries in a very
summary fashion."

" If I'm not worth trustin', now," replied the other, doggedly,
" ye'd betther have nothin' to say to me."

" I did not mean that, nor anything like it, Tom. I was only
alluding to your straightforward, business-like way of treating a
subject which less vigorously-minded men would approach timidly
and carefully."

" Paix, I'd go up to him bouldly, if ye mane that !" cried the other,
who misconceived the eulogy passed upon his candour.

" I know it — well I know it," said Linton, encouraging a humour
he had thus casually evoked ; for in the bloodshot eyes and flushed
cheeks of the other, it was plain to see what was passing within him.

" Do ye want it done ? Tell me that — be fair and above-boord
with me — do you want it done ?"

Linton was silent ; but a slight, an almost imperceptible motion of
his brows made the reply.



150 EOLA^'D CASHEL.

" And now, what's it worth ?" resumed Tom.

" To yow," said Linton, speaking slowly, '' it is worth much — every-
thing. It is all the difference between poverty, suffering, and a gaol,
and a life of ease and comfort either here or in America. Tour little
farm, that you hold at present by the will, or rather the caprice, of
your landlord, becomes your own for ever ; when I say for ever, I
mean what is just as good, since the estate will be thrown back into
Chancery ; and it is neither 9/our children nor mine will see the end
of that."

" That's no answer to wze," said Keane, fixing his cold, steady stare
on Linton's face. " I want to know — and I won't ax it again — what
is it worth to youV

" To me ! — to one .'" said Linton, starting. *' How could it be worth
anything to me .'"'

" You know that best yourself," said Tom, sulkily.

" I am neither the heir to his estate, nor one of his remote kindred.
If I see a fine property going to ruin, and the tenantry treated like
galley-slaves, I may, it is true, grieve over it ; I may also perceive
what a change — a total and happy change — a mere accident might
work ; for, after all, just think of the casualties that every day brings
forth "

" I hav'n't time for these thouglits, now," muttered Tom.

"Always to the point — always thinking of the direct question!"
said Linton, smiling.

" 'Tisn't yer Honer's failin', anyhow," said Tom, laughing sar-
donically.

'• You shall not say that of me, Tom," said Linton, affecting to
relish the jocularity ; " I'll be as prompt and ready as yourself. I'll
wager you ten sovereigns in' gold — there they are — that I can keep



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 32)