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" I mean to say, Sir," replied the Judge, " that so long as doubt
and obscurity veil the history of a crime, the accusation hangs over
the community at large among whom it was enacted, and that those
who were last seen in the presence of the victim have the greatest ob-
ligation to disconnect themselves with the sad event."

o2 ♦



196 nOLAND CASHEL,

"But you stopped me Avliile about to do so," cried Eoland,
angrily.

"I cautioned you, rather, against any disclosures which, whatever
your innocence, might augment suspicion against 'you," said the
Judge, mildly.

" These distinctions are too subtle for me, my Lord. The insult of
such an accusation ought to be enough, without the aggravation of
chicanery." Then, turning to Meek, Eoland went on — " You, at
least, are above this meanness, and will listen to me patiently. Look
here." He took a sheet of paper as he spoke, and proceeded with a
pen to mark out the direction of the two roads from Drumcoologan
to Tubbermore. " Here stands the village ; the road by which we
travelled in the morning takes this line, skirting the base of the
mountain towards the north : the path by which I returned follows
a shorter course, and after crossing a little rivulet here, comes out at
Ennismore, somewhere about this point."

Just as Eoland's description reached thus far, a large drop of blood
oozed from his wounded hand, and fell heavily upon the paper. There
seemed something so terribly significant in its ftilling exactly on the
very spot where the murdered body was found, that each looked at
the other in anxious dread ; and then, as if with a common impulse,
every eye was bent on Cashel, who, heart-sick with indignant anger,
stood unable to utter a word.

" I pray you. Sir, do not misconstrue my advice," said the Judge,
mildly, " nor resent a counsel intended for your good. Every expla-
nation you may offer, hereafter, will be serviceable to your case ;
every detail you enter into, now, necessarily vague, and unsupported
as it must be by other testimony, will only be injurious to you."

Cashel seated himself in a chair, and crossing his arms, seemed to
be lost in thought ; then, suddenly starting to his feet, he cried,

" Is all this a deep-laid scheme against my honour and my life, or
do you, indeed, desire to trace this crime to its author ? If so, let us
mount our horses and scour the country ; let us search every cabin ;

let us try if some discovery of a weapon "

"Ech, Sirs, we hae the weapon !" said Sir Andrew, with a sardonic
grin ; " an' it's muckle like to its brither yonder," pointing to the
open pistol-case.

Eolaud turned suddenly, and now for the first time perceived that
one of his pistols was missing from the case. Up to this moment his
anger at the suspicions directed towards him were mingled with a
degree of contemptuous disregard of tlicm ; but now, suddenly, a
terrible fear shot througli his heart that he was in the meshes of
some deep-laid scheme for his ruin ; and his mind ran over in eager
baste every circumstance that seemed to point towards guilt. His
presence with Ivennyfeck on the mountain — his departure from



EOLAND CASHEL. 197

Drumcoologan alone — his unexplained reappearance in bis own
chamber, disordered and littered as it stood — his torn dress — bis
bleeding fingers — and lastly, the missing pistol — arose in terrible
array before him ; and, with a heart-sick sigh, he laid his forehead on
the table, and never uttered a word.

It was at this juncture that a groom, splashed and heated from a
hard ride, placed a small bit of twisted paper in Mr. Goring's hand.
It was written with a pencil, and ran thus :

" Gap of Ennismore.
" Deae G.,
" It looks badly ; but I fear you have no other course than to arrest
him. In fact, it is too late for anything else. Consult Malone and
Meek.

" Tours, in great haste,

« T. Linton."

Goring handed the note to the Chief Justice, who, having read it,
passed it on to Meek. A nod from the latter, as he refolded the paper,
seemed to accord concurrence with the counsel.

" Would it not be better to defer this till after the inquest ?" ho
whispered.

"Are ye certain o' fiudin' him when ye want him?" dryly re-
marked Sir Andrew.

The Chief Justice conferred for a few seconds with Meek apart,
and then approaching Cashel, addressed him in a tone inaudible to
all but himself:

" It would be excessively painful to us, Mr. Eoland Cashel, to do
anything which should subject you to vulgar remark or impertinent
commentary ; and as, until some further light be thrown upon this
sad catastrophe, your detention is absolutely necessary, may I ask
that you will submit to this rigour, without compelling us to any
measures to enforce it."

"Am I a prisoner, my Lord ?" asked Eoland, growing lividly pale
as he spoke.

" Not precisely. Sir. No warrant has been issued against you ; but
as it is manifestly for your advantage to disprove any suspicions that
may attach to you in this unhappy affair, I hope you will see the pro-
priety of remaining where you are until they be entirely removed."

Eoland bowed coldly, and said,

" May I ask to be left alone ?"

" Of course. Sir ; we have neither the right nor the inclination to
obtrude ourselves upon you. I ought to mention, perhaps, that if
you desire to confer with any friend "

" Friend !" echoed Cashel, in bitter derision ; " such friends as I
have seen around mji^^table make the selection difiScult."



198 ROLAND CASHEL.

" I used the phrase somewhat techuically, Sir, as referring to a
legal adviser," said the Judge, hastily.

" I thank you, my Lord," replied Eoland, haughtily. " I am a
plain man, and am well aware that in your trade truth is no match
for falsehood." He walked to the window as he spoke, and by his
gesture seemed to decline further colloquy.

The Chief Justice moved slowly away, followed by the others ;
Meek withdrawing last of all, and seeming to hesitate whether he
should not say something as he went. At last he turned and said :

" I sincerely trust, Mr. Cashel, that you will not connect me with
this most painful suspicion ; your own good sense will show you how
common minds may be afiected by a number of concurring circum-
stances ; and how, in fact, truth may require the aid of ingenuity to
reconcile and explain them."

" I am not certain that I understand your meaning. Sir," said
Cashel, sternly ; " but when a number of ' concurring circumstances'
seemed to point out those with whom I associated as blacklegs, para-
sites, and calumniators, I gave them the benefit of a doubt, and be-
lieved them to be gentlemen ; I almost expected they might return
the favour when occasion offered."

Eor a second or two Meek seemed as if about to reply ; but he
moved noiselessly away at last and closed the door, leaving Eoland
alone with his own distracted thoughts.



CHAPTEE XXYII.

Are there not proofs enough ?

Or can the stubborn mind reject all truth

And cling to fallacy ?

TnE Will.

"What a change did Tubbermore present to its aspect of the day
before ! All the emblems of joy and festivity, all the motley of plea-
sure, all the gay troops of guests hastening onward in glowing eager-
ness and anticipation, were gone ; and in their stead a dreary and
mysterious silence brooded over the place, interrupted at intervals by
the bustle of some departure. Eor thus, without one word of sym-
pathy, without even a passing good-by, Eoland's *• friends" hurried
away, as if flying from the very memories of the spot.

It was a dreary winter's day ; the dark leaden clouds tliat flitted
past, and the long sighing wind, seemed to add their sad influence to
the melancholy. The house itself already appeared to feel its altered



nOLxVND CASHEL. 199

fortunes. Most of the "vvindows were closed and shuttered ; the de-
corations of rare plants and shrubs and lamps were removed ; instead
of the movement of liveried servants to and fro, ill-favoured and
coarse-clad men, the underlings of the law, crept stealthily about,
noticing each circumstance of the locality, and conferring together in
mysterious whispers. Mounted messengers, too, came and went with
a haste that boded urgency ; and post-horses were each moment ar-
riving to carry away those whose impatience to leave was manifested
in a hundred ways. Had the air of the place been infected with some
pestilential malady, their eagerness could scarce have been greater.
All the fretful irritability of selfishness, all the peevish discontent of
petty natures, exhibited themselves without shame ; and envious ex-
pressions towards those fortunate enough to " get away first," and
petulant complaints over their own delay, were bandied on every side.

A ereat table was laid for breakfast in the dining-room as usual.
All the luxuries and elegances that graced the board on former occa-
sions were there, but a few only took their places. Of these, Pro-
bisher and some military men were the chief. They, indeed, showed
comparatively little of that anxiety to be gone so marked in the others.
The monotony of the barrack and the parade was not attractive, and
they lingered like men who, however little they had of pleasure here,
had even less of inducement to betake them elsewhere.

Meek had been the first to make his escape, by taking the post-
horses intended for another, and already was many miles on his way
towards Dublin. The Chief Justice and his family were the next.
From the hour of the fatal event, Mrs. Malone had assumed a judi-
cial solemnity of demeanour that produced a great impression upon
the beholders, and seemed to convey, by a kind of reflected light, the
old Judge's gloomiest forebodings of the result.

Mrs. Leicester White deferred her departure to oblige Mr. Howie,
who was making a series of sketches for the Pictorial Paul Pry,
showing not only the various facades of Tubbermore House, but
several interesting " interiors :" such as the " Ball-room when the
fatal tidings arrived ;" " Dressing-room of Eoland Cashel, Esq., when
entered by the Chief Justice and his party ;" the most effective of
all being a very shadowy picture of the '' Gap of Ennismore — the
scene of the murder ;" the whole connected by a little narrative so
ingeniously drawn up as to give public opinion a very powerful bias
against Cashel, whose features, in the woodcut, would in themselves
have made a formidable indictment.

Of the Kennyfecks, few troubled themselves with even a casual
inquiry : except the fact that a ihshiouable physician had been sent
for to Dublin, little was known about them. Eut where was Linton
all this while ? Some averred that he had set out for the capital, to
obtain the highest legal assistance for his friend ; others, that he was



200 BOLAXD CASHEL.

SO overwhelmed by tlie terrible calamity as to have fallen into a state
of fatuous insensibility. None, however, could really give any correct
account of him. He had left Tubbermore, but in what direction none
could tell.

As the day wore on, a heavy rain began to fall ; and of those who
still remained in the house, little knots of two and three assembled
at the windows, to watch for the arrival of their wished-for " posters,"
or to speculate upon the weather. Another source of speculation
there was besides. Some hours before, a magistrate, accompanied by
a group of ill-dressed and vulgar-looking men, had been seen to pass
the house, and take the path which led to the Gap of Ennismore.
These formed the Inquest, who were to inquire into the circumstances
of the crime, and whose verdict, however unimportant in a strictly
legal sense, was looked for with considerable impatience by some of
the company. To judge from the anxious looks that were directed
towards the mountain-road, or the piercing glances which at times
were given through telescopes in that direction, one would have
augured that some, at least, of those there, were not destitute of
sympathy for him whose guests they had been, and beneath whose
roof they still lingered. A very few words of those that passed be-
tween them will best answer how this impression is well founded.

" Have you sent your groom off, Upton ?" asked Trobisher, as he
stood with a coffee-cup in his hand at the window.

" Tes, he passed the window full half an hour ago."

"They are confoundedly tedious," said Jennings, half suppressing
a yawn. " I thought those kind of fellows just gave a look at the
body, and pronounced their verdict at once."

" So they do when it's one of their own class ; but in the case of a
gentleman they take a prodigious interest in examining his watch,
and his purse, and his pocket-book ; and, in fact, it is a grand occa-
sion for prying as far as possible into his private concerns."

" I'll double our bet, Upton, if you like," said Frobisher, languidly.

The other shook his head negatively.

"Why, the delay is clearly in your favour, man. If they were
strong in their convictions, they'd have brouglit him in guilty an
hour ago."

" That is my opinion too," said Jennings.

" AVell, here goes. Two fifties be it," cried Upton.

Frobisher took out his memorandum-book and wrote something
with a pencil.

" Isn't that it ?" said he, showing the lines to Upton.

" Just so. ' Wilful murder,' " muttered the other, reading.

" You have a great ' pull ' upon me, Upton," said Frobisher ; " by
Jove ! if you were generous, you'd give me odds."
" How so ?"



EOLAXI) CASHEl. 201

" Why, you saw his face since the affair, and I didn't."

" It would need a better physiognomist than I am to read it. He
looked exactly as he always does ; a thought paler, perhaps, but no
other change."

" Here comes a fellow with news," said Jennings, throwing open
the window. " I say, my man, is it over ?"

" No, Sir ; the Jury want to see one of Mr. Cashel's boots."

Jennings closed the sash, and lighting a cigar, sat down in an
easy-chair. A desultory conversation here arose among some of the
younger military men whether a coroner's verdict were final, and
whether a " fellow could be hanged" when it pronounced him guilty ;
the astute portion of the debaters inclining to the opinion that
although this was not the case in England, such would be " law" in
Ireland. Then the subject of confiscation was entertained, and various
doubts and surmises arose as to what would become of Tubbermore
when its proprietor had been executed ; with sly jests about the re-
versionary rights of the Crown, and the magnanimity of extending
mercy at the price of a great landed estate. These filled up the time
for an hour or so more, interspersed with conjectures as to Cashel's
present frame of mind, and considerable wonderment why he hadn't
" bolted" at once.

At last Upton's groom was seen approaching at a tremendous pace ;
and in a few minutes after he had pulled up at the door, and dis-
mounting with a spring, hastened into the house.

"Well, Eobert, how did it go?" cried Upton, as, followed by the
rest, he met him in the hall.

"You've lost, Sir," said the man, wiping his forehead.

" Confound the rascals ! But what are the words of the verdict ?"

" ' Wilful murder,' Sir."

" Of course," said Frobisher, coolly; "they could give no other."

" It's no use betting against you," cried Upton, pettishly. " You
are the luckiest dog in Europe."

"Come, I'll give you a chance," said Frobisher; "double or quit
that they hang him."

" No, no ; I've lost enough on him, I'll not have it."

" Well, I suppose we've nothing to wait for now," yawned Jen-
nings. " Shall we start ?"

" Not till we have luncheon, I vote," cried an Infantry Sub ; and
his suggestion met general approval. And while they are seated at
a table where exquisite meats and rarest wines stimulated appetite
and provoked excess, let us turn for a few brief moments to him
who, still their entertainer, sat in his lone chamber, friendless and
deserted.

So rapid had been the succession of events which occupied one
single night, that Eoland could not believe it possible months had



202 EOLA.ND CASHEL.

not passed over. Even tlieu, he found it diiEcult to disentangle the
real circumstances from those fancied results his imagination had
already depicted ; many of the true incidents appearing far more like
fiction than the dreamy fancies his mind invented. His meeting
with Enrique, for instance, was infinitely less probable than that he
should have fought a duel with Linton ; and so, in many other cases,
his faculties wavered between belief and doubt, till his very senses
reeled with the confusion. Kennyfeck's death alone stood out from
this chaotic mass, clear, distinct, and palpable, and, as he sat brood-
ing over this terrible fact, be was totally unconscious of its bearing
upon his own fortunes. Selfishness formed no part of his nature ;
his fault lay in the very absence of self-esteem, and the total defi-
ciency of that individuality which prompts men to act up to a self-
created standard. He could sorrow for him who was no more, and
from whom he had received stronger proofs of devotion than from all
his so-called friends ; he could grieve over the widowed mother and
the fatherless girls, for whose destitution he felt, he knew not how or
wherefore, a certain culpability ; but of himself and his own critical
position, not a thought arose. The impressions that no effort of his
own could convey, fell with a terrific shock upon him when suggested
by another.

He was seated at his table, trying, for the twentieth time, to collect
his wandering thoughts, and determine what course to follow, when a
tap was heard at his door, and it opened at the same instant.

" I am come. Sir," said Mr. Goring, with a voice full ot feeling,
" to bring you sad tidings ; but for which events may have, in a mea-
sure, prepared you." He paused ; perhaps hoping that Cashel would
spare him the pain of continuing ; but Eoland never spoke.

"The inquest has completed its labours," said Groring, with in-
creasing agitation ; "and the verdict is one of ' wilful murder.' "

"It was a foul and terrible crime," said Cashel, shuddering; " the
poor fellow was animated with kind intentions and benevolent views
towards the people. In all our intercourse, he displayed but one
spirit "

"Have a care, Sir," said Goring, mildly. '"It is just possible
that, in the frankness of the moment, something may escape you
which hereafter you might wish unsaid ; and standing in the position
you now do "

" How so ? "What position. Sir, do I occupj-, that should preclude
me from the open expression of my sentiments?"

"I have already told you, Sir, that the verdict of the jury was
wilful murder, and I hold here in ray hand the warrant for your
arrest."

"As the criminal? as the murderer?" cried Cashel, with a voice



EOLAND CASHEL. 203

almost like a shriek of agouy. Goring bowed bis bead, and Eoland
fell powerless on the floor.

Summoning others to bis aid, Goring succeeded in lifting him up
and placing bim on a bed. A few drops of blood that issued from bis
mouth, and bis heavy snoring respiration, indicated an apoplectic
seizure. Messengers were sent in various directions to fetch a
doctor. Tiernay was absent, and it was some hours ere one could
be found. Large bleeding and quiet produced the usual effects, and
toAvards evening Cashel's consciousness bad returned ; but memory
was still clouded and incoherent, and he lay without speaking, and
almost without thoue:bt.

After the lapse of about a week he was able to leave bis bed and
creep about bis chamber, whose altered look contributed to recal his
mind to the past. AU his papers and letters bad been removed ; the
window was secured with iron stanchions ; and policemen stood sentry
at the door. He remembered everything that had occurred, and sat
down in patient thought to consider what be should do.

He learned without surprise, but not without a pang, that of all
his friends not one bad remained — not one bad offered a word of
counsel in his affliction, or of comfort in bis distress. He asked after
Mr. Corrigan, and beard that be had quitted the country, with bis
granddaughter, on the day before the terrible event. Tiernay, it
was said, bad accompanied them to Dublin, and not since returned.
Eoland was, then, -utterly friendless ! "What wonder if be became as
utterly reckless, as indifferent to life, as life seemed valueless ? And
so was it: be beard with indifference the order for bis removal to
Limerick, although that implied a gaol ! He listened to the vulgar,
but kindly-meant counsels of bis keepers, who advised bun to seek
legal assistance, with a smile of half-contempt. The obdurate energy
of a martyrdom seemed to take possession of bim ; and, so far from
applying bis mind to disentangle the web of suspicion around him,
be watched, with a strange interest, the convergence of every minute
circumstance towards the proof of bis guilt; a seci^et vindictivenes s
whispering to bis heart that the day would come when bis innocence
should be proclaimed; and then, what tortures of remorse would be
theirs who bad brought bim to a felon's death !

Each day added to the number of these seeming proofs, and the
newspapers, in paragraphs of gossiping, abounded with circumstances
that bad already convinced the public of Cashel's guilt : and bow
often do such shadowy convictions throw their gloom over the pri-
soner's dock ! One day, the fact of the boot-track tallying precisely
with Eoland's, filled the town ; another, it was the pistol-wadding —
part of a letter addressed to Casbel — bad been discovered. Then,
there were vague rumours afloat that the causes of Cashel's ani-



204 ROLAND CASHEL.

mosity to Kennyfeck were not so secret as the world fancied ; that
there were persons of credit to substantiate and explain them ; and,
lastly, it was made known, that among the papers seized on Cashel's
table was a letter, just begun by himself, but to whom addressed
uncertain, which ran thus :

'• As these in all lilielihood may be the last lines I shall ever
write "

Never, in all the gaudy glare of his prosperity, had he occupied
more of public attention. The metaphysical penny-a-liners speculated
upon the influence his old buccaneer habits might have exercised upon
a mind so imperfectly trained to civilisation ; and amused themselves
with guesses as to how far some Indian " cross" in blood might not
have contributed to his tragic vengeance. Less scrupulous scribes
invented deeds of violence : in a word, there seemed a kind of impulse
abroad to prove him guilty ; and it would have been taken as a piece
of casuistry, or a mawkish sympathy with crime, to assume the oppo-
site. Not, indeed, that any undertook so ungracious a task ; the tide
of accusation ran uninterrupted and unbroken. The very friendless
desolation in which he stood was quoted and commented on to this
end. One alone of all his former friends made an efl'ort in his favour,
and ventured to insinuate that his guilt was far from certain. This
was Lord Charles Frobisher, who, seeing in the one-sidedness of
public opinion the impossibility of obtainiug a bet, tried thus to " get
up" an "innocent party," in the hope of a profitable wager.

But what became of Linton all this time ? His game was a difE-
cult one ; and to enable him to play it successfully he needed reflec-
tion. To this end he afiected to be so shocked by the terrible event
as to be incapable of mixing in society. He retired, therefore, to his
cottage near Dubliu, and for some weeks lived a life of perfect seclu-
sion. Mr. Phillis accompanied him; for Linton would not trust
him out of his sight till — as he muttered in his ow n phrase — " all



was over."



This was, indeed, the most eventful period of Linton's life ; and
with consummate skill he saw that any move on his part would be an
error. It is true that, througli channels with whose workings he
was long conversant, he contributed the various paragraphs to the
papers by which Cashel's guilt was foreshadowed ; his knowledge of
Eoland suggesting many a circumstance well calculated to substan-
tiate the charge of crime. If he never ventiu'ed abroad into the
world, he made himself master of all its secret whisperings ; and
heard how he was himself commended for delicacy and good feeliug,
with the satisfaction of a man who glories in a cheat. And how
many are there who play false in life, less from the gain than the
gratification of vauity ! — a kind of diabolical pride in outwitting and
overreaching those whose good faith has made them weak ! The



EOLAND CASHEL. 205

polite world does not take the same interest in deeds of terror as do
their more humble brethren ; they take their " horrors" as they do



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 22 of 32)