Charles James Lever.

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remarked that they were lividly pale — the very lips were colourless ;
his hands too, trembled violently as they moved among the papers,
and his mouth continued to be moved by short convulsive twitches.
To Koland these signs of suflering conveyed a perfect ecstasy of
pleasure. That careworn, haggard face — that tremulous cheek and
lustreless eye, were already an instalment of his vengeance.

There was one box which contained many of Cashel's early letters,
when he was following the wild buccaneering life of the "West ; and
this, secured by a lock of peculiar construction, Linton had never
succeeded in opening. It stood before him, as with a last eflort he
tried every art upon it. The hinges alone seemed to ofl"er a prospect
of success, and he was now endeavouring to remove the fastenings of
these. "With more of force than skill, for defeat had rendered him
impatient, Linton had already loosened the lid, when Cashel burst
open the sash with one vigorous blow, and leaped into the room.

The terrible crash of the shattered window made Linton spring
round ; and there he stood, confronted with the other — each, motion-
less and silent. In Cashel's steady, manly form there was a very
world of indignant contempt ; and Linton met tlie gaze'.with a look of
deadly hatred. All the dissimulation by which he could cover over a



EOLAND CASHEL. 187

treachery was at an end ; liis deceit was no longer of use, and he
stood forth in the full courage of liis scoundrelism — bold, steady, and
assured.

" This admits of no excuse — no palliation," said Cashel, as he
pointed to the open letters and papers which covered the floor ; and
although the words were uttered calmly, they were more disconcert-
ing than if given with passionate vehemence.

" I never thought of any," replied Linton, collectedly.

"■ So much the better. Sir. It seems to me, frankness is the only
reparation you can make for past infamy !"

" It may be the only one you wdll be disposed to ask for," said
Linton, sneeringly.

Cashel grew fiery red. To taimt him with want of courage was
something so unexpected — for which he was so totally unprepared —
that he lost his self-possession, and in a passionate tone exclaimed :

'' Is it i/oii who dare to say this to ine ? — you, whose infamy has
need but to be published abroad, to make every one who calls him-
self ' Grentleman' shun your very contact !"

" This punctilious reverence for honour does infinite credit to your
buccaneer education," said Linton, whose eyes sparkled with malig-
nant delight at the angry passion he had succeeded in evoking. " The
friendship of escaped felons must have a wondrous influence upon
refinement."

" Enough, Sir !" said Cashel. " How came you into the room, since
the key of it is in my pocket ?"

" Were I to inform you," said Linton, "you would acknowledge
it was by a much more legitimate mode than that by which you
efiected your entrance."

'' Tou shall decide which is the pleasanter, then !" cried Cashel, as
he tore open the window, and advanced in a menacing manner to-
wards the other.

" Take care, Cashel," said Linton, in a low, deliberate voice; " I
am armed !"

And while he spoke, he placed one hand within the breast of his
coat, and held it there. Quick as was the motion, it was not sudden
enough to escape the flashing eye of Eoland, who sprang upon him,
and seized his wrist with a grasp that nearly jammed the bones to-
gether.

" Provoke me a little further," cried he, " and, by Heaven ! I'U
not give you the choice or chance of safety, but hurl you from that
window as I would the meanest housebreaker."

" Let me free — let me loose, Sir," said Linton, in a low, weak
voice, which passion, not fear, had reduced to a mere whisper. " You
shall have the satisfaction you aim at, when, and how, you please."

" By daylight to-morrow, at the boat-quay beside the lake."



188 EOLAXD CASHEL.

"Agreed. There is no need of witnesses — we understand eack
other."

" Be it so. Be true to your word, and none shall hear from me the
reasons of our meeting, nor what has occurred here this night."

" I care not if all the world knew it," said Linton, insolently ; " I
came in quest of a lost document — one, which I had my reasons to
suspect had fallen into your possession.

"And of whose forgery I have the proofs," said Cashel, as opening
the deed, he held it up before Linton's eyes. " Do you see that ?"

" And do you know, Cashel," cried Linton, assuming a voice of slow
and most deliberate utterance, " that your own title to this property
is as valueless and as worthless as that document you hold there ? Do
you know that there is in existence a paper which, produced in an
open court of justice, would reduce you to beggary, and stamp you,
besides, as an impostor ? It may be that you are well aware of that
fact ; and that the same means by whi^h you have possessed yourself
of what was mine, has delivered into your hands this valuable paper.
But the subtlety is thrown away ; I am cognisant of its existence ; I
Have even shown it to another ; and on me it depends whether you
live here as a master, or walk forth in all the exposure of a cheat."

The nature of this announcement, its possible truth, added to the
consummate effrontery of him who made it, contributed to render
Cashel silent, for he was actually stunned by what he heard. Linton
saw the effect, but mistook its import. He believed that some thought
of a compromise was passing through a mind where vengeance alone
predominated ; and in this error he drew nearer to him, and in a voice
of cool and calm persuasion added :

" That 1/ou could pilot the course through all these difficulties, no
one knows better than yourself to be impossible. There is but one
living able to do so, and / am that one."

Cashel started back, and Linton went on :

" There is no question of friendship between us here. It is a matter
of pure interest and mutual convenience that binds us. Agree to my
terms, and you are still the ovrncr of the estate ; reject them, and you
are as poor as poverty and exposure can make you."

" Scoundrel !" said Cashel. It was all that he could utter : the
fulness of his passion had nearly choked him, as, taking a heavy
riding- glove from the table, he struck Linton wath it across the face.
" If there be any manhood in such a wretch, let this provoke it!"

Linton's hand grasped the weapon he carried within his coat, but
with a quick, short stroko Cashel struck down his arm, and it fell
powerless to his side.

" You shall pay dearly for this — dearly, by Heaven !" cried Linton,
as he retired towards the door.



EOLAND CASHEL, 189

" Go, Sir," said Cashel, flinging it wide open, " and go quickly, or
I may do that I should be sorry for."

" You have done that you will be sorry for, if it costs me my life's
blood to buy it." And with these words, delivered in a voice guttural
from rage, Linton disappeared, and Cashel stood alone in the centre
of the room, overwhelmed by the terrible conflict of his passions.

The room littered with papers — the open boxes scattered on every
side — his own hands cut and bleeding from the broken glass of the
window — his dress torn from the recent exertion — were evidences of
the past ; and it seemed as though, without such proofs, he could not
credit his memory, as to events so strange and stunning.

To restore something like order to his chamber, as a means of
avoiding the rumours that would be circulated by servants ; to write
some letters — the last, perhaps, he should ever indite ; to dress and
appear among his company ; to send for some one with whom he might
confer as to his afiairs — such were the impulses that alternately swayed
him, and to which he yielded by turns ; now, seating himself at his
table ; now, hastening hither and thither, tossing over the motley
livery of distasteful pleasure, or handling, with the rapture of revenge,
the weapons by which he hoped to wreak his vengeance. The only
fear that dwelt upon his mind was, lest Linton should escape him —
lest, by any accident, this, which now appeared the great business of
his life, should go unacquitted. Sometimes he reproached himself for
having postponed the hour of vengeance, not knowing what chances
might intervene, what accidents interrupt the course of his sworn
revenge. Fortune, wealth, station, love itself had no hold upon him ;
it was that mad frame of mind where one sole thought predominates,
and, in its mastery, makes all else subordinate. Would Linton be true
to the rendezvous ? — Could such a man be a coward ? — Would he
compass the vengeance he had threatened by other means ? were
questions that constantly occurred to his mind.

If the sounds of music and the clangour of festivity did break in
upon this mood from time to time, it was but to convey some indis-
tinct and shadowy impression of the inconsistency between his sad
brooding and the scene by which he was surrounded — between the
terrible conflict within him, and the wild gaiety of those who wasted
no thought upon him.



190 nOIAND CASHEL.



CHAPTEE XXVI.

Amid their feasting and their joy
A cry of " Blood!" was heard.

It was past midniglit, and the scene -vvithiu the walls of Tubber-
more was one of the most brilliant festivity. All that could fascinate
by beauty — all that could dazzle by splendour, or amuse by fancy, or
enHven by wit, were there, stimulated by that atmosphere of pleasure
in which they moved. Loveliness elevated by costume — grace ren-
dered more attractive by the licensed freedom of the hour — gaiety
exalted into exuberant joyousness by the impulse of a thousand high-
beating hearts — passed and repassed, and mingled together, tiU they
formed that brilliant assemblage wherein individuality is lost, and the
memory carries away nothing but dreamy images of enjoyment,
visions of liquid eyes and silky tresses, of fair rounded arms and
fairy feet, with stray syllables that linger on the ear and vibrate in
the heart for many a long year to come.

It would have been difficult to imagine that one, even one, amid
that gorgeous throng, had any other thought than pleasure, so head-
long seemed the impulse of enjoyment. In vain the moralist might
have searched for any trace of that care which is believed to be the
unceasing burden of humanity. Even upon those who sustained no
portion of the brilliancy around them, pleasure had set its seal. Lady
Janet herself wondered, and admired, and stared, in an ecstasy of
delight she could neither credit nor comprehend. It was true, Linton's
absence — " unaccountable," as she called it — was a sad drawback upon
her enjoyment. Yet her own shrewdness enabled her to penetrate
many a mystery, and detect beneath the dusky folds of more than one
domino those who a few moments previous had displayed themselves
in all the splendour of a gorgeous costume.

In vain did Lord Charles Erobisher cover his Tartar dress with a
Laplander's cloak and hood, to follow Miss Meek unnoticed. In vain
did Upton abandon his royalty as Henri IV. for a Dominican's cowl,
the better to approach a certain fair nun with dark blue eyes : Lady
Janet whispered, " Take care, Olivia," as she passed her. Even IMrs.
Leicester White, admirably disguised as a Gipsy Fortune-teller, did
not dare to speculate upon Lady Janet's "future" — possibly, out of
fear of her " present," ]Mr. Howie alone escaped detection, as, dressed
to represent the ObeUsk of the " Luqsor," he stood immovable in the
middle of tlie room, listeniug to everybody, and never supposed to be
anything but an inanimate ornament of the saloon.



EOLAND CA3HEL. 191

It was only "when a minuet was about to be formed, and a question
arose as to whetlier the obelisk could not be removed, that the
Egyptian monument was seen slowly sidling off amidst the company,
to the great amusement of all who had not opened their confidences
beneath its shadow. For an instant the laughter that circulated in
many a distant group was directed to this quarter, and bursts of mer-
riment were excited by the absurdity of the incident. With that
mysterious instinct by which moods of joy or grief are perpetuated
from heart to heart, till each in a crowded assembly is moved as is his
neighbour, the whole room shook with convulsive laughter. It was
just then — at the very moment when boundless pleasure filled every
avenue of feeling — a terrible cry, shrill and piercing, burst upon the
air. All was still — still as a lone church at midnight. Each gazed
upon the other, as if silently asking, had he heard the sound ? Again
it came, louder and nearer ; and then a long, loud, swelling chant rang
out, wild and frantic as it rose, till it died away in a cadence of the
very saddest and dreariest meaning.

" "What is it ? — What can it be ?" were uttered by many in broken
voices ; while others, too much terrified to speak, sank half fainting
upon their seats, their colourless cheeks and livid lips in terrible con-
trast to their gay attire,

" There ! — listen to it again ! — Good Heaven ! what can it be ?"

"It's a death 'keen!'" said a country gentleman, a magistrate
named Goring ; " something must have happened among the people !"

And now, none knew from what quarter arising, or by whom
spoken, but the dreadful word " Muedee," was heard through the
room. Many issued forth to ask for tidings ; some, stayed to assure
and rally the drooping courage of others ; some, again, divested of
the " motley," moved hurriedly about, seeking for this one or that.
Ail was terror, confusion, and dismay.

" Oh, here is Mr. Linton !" cried several, as, with his domino on hia
arm, pale, and like one terror-struck, he entered the room. " What
is it, Mr. Linton ? Do you know what has happened ?"

" Get Mrs. Kennyfeck and the girls away," whispered he to a
friend, hurriedly ; " tell them something — anything — ^but take them
from this."

" What!" exclaimed Meek, to whom Linton had whispered some-
thing, but in a voice too low to be clearly audible,

" Kennyfeck is murdered !" said Linton, louder.

As if the terrible tidings had floated on the air, in an instant it was
on every tongue, and vibrating in every ear ; and then, in heartrend-
ing screams of passionate grief, the cry of the widow and her children
burst forth, cry following cry in wild succession. Seized with an
hysteric paroxysm, Mrs. Kennyfeck was carried to her room ; while
of her daughters, the elder sat mute, speechless, and, to all seeming,



192 EOLAND CASHEL.

insensible ; the younger, struggling in convulsive passion to go to her
father.

What a scene was that ! How dreadful to mark the symbols of
levity — the decorations by which Pleasure would mock the stern
realities of Life — surrounded as they now were by suffering and
sorrow ! to see the groups as they stood ; some ministering to one
who had fainted, others conversing in low and eager whispers. The
joyous smiles, the bright glances, were gone, as though they had been
by masks assumed at will ; tears furrowed their channels through the
deep rouge, and convulsive sobs broke from beneath corsets where joy
alone had vibrated before. While in the ball-room the scene was one
of terror and dismay, a few had withdrawn into a small apartment
adjoining the garden, to consult upon what the emergency might
require. These were drawn together by Linton, and included Sir
Andrew MacFarline, the Chief Justice, Meek, and a few others
of lesser note. In a few words Linton informed them that he heard
the tidings as he passed through the hall ; that a peasant, taking the
mountain path to Scariff, had come upon the spot where the murder
was committed, and found the body still warm, but lifeless — " he also
found this weapon, the bore of which was dirty from a recent dis-
charge as he took it up."

"Why, this pistol is Mr. Cashel's!" exclaimed Sir Andrew, exa-
mining the stock closely ; " I know it perfectly — I have fired with it
myself a hundred times."

" Impossible, my dear Sir Andrew !" cried Linton, eagerly. " Tou
must be mistaken."

"Where is Mr. Cashel?" asked the Chief Justice.

" No one seems to know," replied Linton. " At a very early hour
this morning he left this in company with poor Kenny feck. It would
appear that they were not on the best of terms together ; at least,
some of the servants overheard angry words pass between them as
they drove away."

" Let us call these people before us," said Sir Andrew.

"Not at present, Sir. It would be premature and indiscreet," in-
terposed the Judge. Then, turning to Linton, he added, " Well, Sir,
and after that ?"

" After that we have no tidings of either of them."

" I'll swear to the pistol, onyhow," said Sir Andrew, who sat staring
at the weapon, and turning it about in every direction.

" Of what nature were the differences between Cashel and Kenny-
feck supposed to be ?" asked Meek of Linton.

" It is impossible to collect, from the few and broken sentences
which have been reported ; possibly, dissatisfaction on Cashel's part
at the difficulty of obtaining money ; possibly, some misunderstanding



EOLAXD CASHEL. 193

about his intentions regarding one of the girls, whom the Kennyfecks
were silly enough to suppose he was going to marry."

A slight tap at the door here arrested their attention. It was Mr.
Phillis, who came to say that footsteps had been heard in Mr. Cashel's
dressing-room, although it was well known he bimself had not re-
turned.

" INIight he not have returned and entered the room unseen, Sir ?"
said the Chief Justice, who cast a shrewd and piercing look upon the
valet.

" Scarcely, my Lord, since he is known to every servant in the
house, and people are passing and repassing in every direction."

" But there is every reason to believe that he has not returned at
all," interposed Linton. " It is some one else has been heard in his
dressing-room."

" Would it not be as well to despatch messengers to Drumcoo-
logan," said Meek, "and assure ourselves of Cashel's safety? Up
to this we are ignorant if he have not shared the fate of poor Ken-
ny feck."

" The very suggestion I was about to make. I'll take Phillis along
with me, and set out this instant," cried Linton.

"We shall miss your assistance greatly here. Sir," said the Chief
Justice.

" Tour Lordship overvalues my poor ability ; but T wiU hasten to
the utmost, and be soon back again." And thus saying, he left the
room, followed by Phillis.

" There must be an inquest at once," said the Chief Justice. " The
Coroner has power to examine witnesses on oath; and it seems to me
that some clue to the affair will present itself."

" As to this room, don't you think it were proper to inquire if any
one be really within it ?" asked Meek.

" Yes ; we will proceed thither together," replied the Judge.

"I canna be mistaken in the pistol; I'll swear to that," chimed in
Sir Andrew, whose whole thoughts were centred on that object.

"Well, Mr. Goring," said Meek, as that gentleman advanced to
meet them in the corridor, " have you obtained any clue to this sad
affair?"

The magistrate drew near, and whispered a few words in the other's'
ear. Meek started, and grasped the speaker's arm convulsively ; then,
after a pause, said, " Tell the Chief Justice." Mr. Goring approached,
and said something in a low voice to the Judge.

" Be cautious. Sir ; take care to whom you mention these circum-
stances, lest they be bruited about before we can examine into tliem,"
said the Chief Justice ; then retiring into a window with Sir Andrew
and Meek, he continued : " Tliis gentleman has just informed me that
the impress of a boot with a high heel has been discovered near the

TOL. II. o



194 EOLAND CASHEL.

spot Avliere the murder was committed ; Avliicli boot exactly tallies
with that worn by Mr. Cashel."

" TJie pistol is his ; I'll tak my oath on that," muttered Sir
Andrew.

" Here's Phillis coming back," said Meek. " What's the matter^
Phillis r"

'• Mr. Lintou sent me back, Sir, to say that the ivy which covered
the wall on the east end of the house has been torn down, and seems
to infer that some one must have climbed up it, to reach my master's
dressing-room."

" This is a very important circumstance," said the Chief Justice.
" Let us examine the room at once." And so saying, he led the way
towards it.

Not a word was spoken as the party passed along the corridor and
ascended the stairs ; each feared, even by a syllable, to betray the
terrible suspicions that were haunting his mind. It was a solemn
moment ; and so their looks and gestures bespoke it. The house
itself had suddenly become silent ; scarce a sound was heard within
that vast building, which so late had rung with revelry and joy. A
distant door would clap, or a faintly-heard shriek from some one still
suiferiug from the recent shock ; but all else was hushed and still.

" That is the room," said Meek, pointing to a door, beneath which,
although it was now daybreak, a stream of light issued ; and, slight
as the circumstance was, the looks exchanged among the party seemed
to give it a significance.

The Chief Justice advanced and tapped at the door. Immediately
a voice was heard from within that all i-ecognised as Cashel's, asking,

" Who's there ?"

" We want you, Mr. Cashel," said the Judge, in an accent which
all the instincts of his habit had not rendered free from a slight
tremor.

The door was immediately thrown wide, and Eolaud stood before
them.* He had not changed his dress since his arrival, and his torn
sleeve and blood-stained trousers at once caught every eye that was
fixed upon him. The disorder, too, was not confined to his own
haggard look ; the room itself was littered with papers and letters,
with clothes strewn carelessly in every direction ; and, conspicuously
amid all, an open pistol-case was seen, from which one of the weapons
was missing. A mass of cliarred paper lay within the fender, and a
great heap of paper lay, as it were ready for burning, beside the
hearth. There was full time for those who stood there to notice all
these particulars, since neither spoke, but each gazed on the other in
terrible uncertainty. Cashel was the first to break the silence.

" Well, Sirs," said he, in a voice that only an efibrt made calm,



EOLAI^^D CASHEL. 195

" are my friends so very impatient at my absence that they come to
seek me in my dressing-room ?"

" The dreadful event that has just occurred, Sir," said the Judge,
" makes apology for our intrusion unnecessary. We are here from
duty, Mr. Cashel, not inclination, still less caprice."

The solemnity of manner in Avhich he spoke, and the grave faces
around him on every side, seemed to apprise Eoland that bad tidings
avp'aited him, and he looked eagerly to each for an explanation. At
length, as none spoke, he said :

" Will no one vouchsafe to put an end to this mystification ? What
I pray, is this event that has happened ?"

" Mr. Kenuyfeck has been murdered," said the Judge.

Eoland staggered backwards, and grasped a chair for support.
" When ? — How ? — Where ?" said he, in a low voice, every accent
of which trembled.

" All as yet is hidden in mystery, Sir. We know nothing beyond
the fact that his dead body was discovered in the Gap of Ennismore,
and that a pistol-shot had penetrated his brain." Sir Andrew grasped
the weapon more tightly as these words were uttered.

" Tou left this in his company, Mr. Cashel ?" asked Groring.

" Tes ; we set out at daybreak for Drumcoologan, where an affair
of business required our presence. We spent the whole of the day
together, and as evening drew nigh, and our business had not been
completed, I resolved to hasten back here, leaving him to follow
whenever he could."

"Tou have been on the best terms together, I believe?" said
Groring.

" Stay — I cannot permit this," interposed the Chief Justice, autho-
ritatively. " There must be nothing done here which is not strictly
honourable as well as legal. It is right that Mr. Cashel should under-
stand that when an event of this nature has occurred, no one, how-
ever high his station, or unblemished his fame, can claim exemption
from that scrutiny which the course of justice demands ; and the
persons latest in the company of the deceased are more peculiarly
those exposed to such inquiry. I woidd, thei'efore, caution him against
answering any questions here, which may be prejudicial hereafter."

" Do I understand you aright, my Lord ?" said Cashel, whose whole
frame trembled with agitation as he spoke. " Do your words imply
that I stand here in the light of a suspected party?"



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 32)