Charles James Lever.

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" And how are they bettiug ? "What says Erobisher ?"

" He affects to think it no case for odds ; he says there's a little
fellow in the Jury-box never was known to say ' Guilty.' "

" A scheme to win money — a stale trick, my Lord Charles !" mut-
tered Linton, contemptuously , " but I've no objection to hedge a
little, for all that."

" I must be going," said Jones, looking at his watch ; " the charge
will soon be over, and I must look to the proceedings."

"Will they be long in deliberation, think you?" asked Linton.

" I suspect not ; they are all weary and tired. It is now ten
o'clock."

" I thought it later," said Linton, thoughtfully ; " time lags heavily
with him whose mind is in expectancy. Hark ! there is some one
below talking of the trial !" He opened the door to listen. " What
says he ?"

" He speaks of Cashel as still addressing the Court. Can they
have consented to hear him after all?"

A fearful curse broke from Linton, and he closed the door noise-
lessly.

" See to this, Jones ; see to it speedily. My mind misgives me
that something will go wrong."

"Tou say that you know him thoroughly, and that he never
would "

"No, no," broke in Linton, passionately ; "he'll not break one
tittle of his word, even to save his life ! When he promised me that
all should be secret between us, he made no reservations, and you'll
see that he'll not avail himself of such privileges now. I do know
him" thoroughly."

" Then what, or whence, is your fear ?"

Linton made no other answer than a gesture of his hand, implying
some vague and indistinct dread. "But go," said he, "and go
quickly. Tou ought never to have left the Court. Had you re-
mained, perhaps this might have been prevented. If all goes right,
you'll be here by daybreak at furthest, and Keane along with you.
Take care of that, Jones ; don't lose sight of him. If — if — we are
unfortunate and do you think such possible ?"

" Everything is possible with a Jury."

" True," said he, thoughtfully ; " it is an issue we should never have
left it to. But away ; hasten back. Great Heaven ! only to think
how much hangs upon the next half-hour!"

"To Cashel, you mean?" said Jones, as he prepared himself for the
road.

" No ; I mean to me. I Jo know him thoroughly ; and well I know



EOLAND CASHEL. 233

the earth would be too narrow to live upon, were that man once more
free and at liberty."

In his eagerness for Jones's departure, he almost pushed him from
the room ; and then, when he had closed and locked the door again,
he sat down beside the low flickering fire, and as the fitful light played
upon his features, all the appliances of disguise he wore could not
hide the terrible ravages that long corroding anxiety had made in him.
Tar more did he resemble the arraigned criminal than he who now
stood in the dock, and with a cheek blanched only by imprisonment,
waited calm, collected, and erect — "Equal to either fortune."

Linton had often felt all the terrible suspense which makes the
Paradise or the Hell of the gambler : he had known what it was to
have his whole fortune on the issue, at a moment when tlie rushing
mob of horsemen and foot concealed the winning horse from view, and
mingled in their mad cheers the names of those whose victory had
been his ruin and disgrace. He had watched the rolling die, on whose
surface, as it turned, all he owned in the world was staked ; he had
sat gazing on the unturned card, on which his destiny was already
written ; — and yet all these moments of agonising suspense Avere as
nothing compared to that he now suffered, as he sat with bent-down
head trying to catch the sounds which from time to time the wind
bore along from the town.

As if to feed his mind with h'ope, he would recapitulate to himself
all the weighty and damnatory details which environed Cashel, and
which, by their singular consistency and coherence, seemed irrefutable.
He would even reckon them upon his fingers, as " so many chances
against him." He would try to imagine himself one of the Jury,
listening to the evidence and the charge ; and asked himself " were it
possible to reject such proofs ?" He pictured to his mind Cashel ad-
dressing the Court with all that rash and impetuous eloquence so cha-
racteristic of him, and which, to more trained and sober tempers,
would indicate a nature little subject to the cold discipline of
restraint ; and from all these speculative dreams he would start sud-
denly up, to lean out of the window and listen. Other thoughts, too,
would cross his mind, scarcely less distracting. "What would become
of himself should Cashel escape ? Whither should he retire ? If, at
one moment, he half resolved to " stand his ground" in the world, and
trust to his consummate skill in secret calumny to ruin him, another
reflection showed that Cashel would not play out the game on these
conditions. A duel, in which one at least must fall, would be in-
evitable ; and although this was an ordeal he had braved ofteuer than
most men, he had no courage to dare it now. Through all this
tangled web of harassing hope and fear, regrets deep and poignant
entered, that he had not worked his ruin by slower and safer steps.
" I might have been both Judge and Jury — ay, and Executioner too,"



234 EOLAI^D CASHEL.

muttered he, "had I been patient." And here he gave a low,
sardonic laugh. " When the hour of confiscation came, I might have
played the Crown's part also." But so is it : there is no halting in
the downward course of wickedness; the very pleadings of self-
interest cannot save men from the commission of Crimes, by which
they are to hide Follies.

The slow hours of the night dragged heavily on ; the fire had gone
out, and the candle too — unnoticed, and Linton sat in the dark,
brooding over his gloomy thoughts. At one moment he would start
up, and wonder if the whole were not a terrible dream — the night-
mare of his own imagination ; and it was only after an effort he re-
membered where he was, and with what object. He could not see his
watch to tell the hour, but he knew it must be late, since the fire had
long since died out, and the room was cold and chill. The agony of
expectation became at last too great to endure ; he felt his way to the
door and passed out, and groping down the narrow stair, reached the
outer door, and the road.

All was dark and lonely; not a sound of horseman or foot- traveller
broke the dreary stillness of the hour, as Linton, urged on by an im-
pulse he could not restrain, took his way towards the town. The dis-
tance was scarcely above a mile, but his progress was slow, for the
road was wet and slippery, and the darkness very great. At last he
reached the long straggling suburb, with its interminable streets of
wretched hovels ; but even here none were yet astir, and not a light
was seen to glimmer. To this succeeded the narrow streets of the
town itself — where, at long intervals, a dusky yellow haze glimmered
by way of lamplight. Stopping beneath one of these, Linton ex-
amined his watch, and found that it was near five o'clock. The late-
ness of the hour, and the unbroken stillness on every side, half in-
duced him to believe that " all was over," and Cashel's fate sealed for
good or evil ; but then Jones would have hastened back to bring the
tidings ! There could not be a doubt on this head. Urged onward to
greater speed by emotions which now were scarcely supportable, he
traversed street after street in frantic haste ; when suddenly, on turn-
ing a corner, he came in front of a large building, from whose
windows, dimmed by steam, a great blaze of light issued, and fell in
long columns upon the " Square" in front. A dense, dark mass of
human figures crowded the wide doorway, but they were silent and
motionless all. Within the Court, too, the stillness was unbroken ;
for as Linton listened he could now hear a cough, which rcsoimded
through the building.

" The Jury are in deliberation," thought he, and sat down upon
the step of a door, his eyes riveted upon the Court-house, and his
heart beating so that he could count its strokes. IS'ot far from him,
as he sat there, scarcely a hundred paces off, within the building,



EOIAND CASHEL. 235

there sat another man, waiting witli a high throbbing heart for that
word to be uttered, which should either open the door of his prison,
or close that of the grave upon him for ever. The moments of ex-
pectancy were terrible to both ! they were life-long agonies distilled
to seconds ; and he who could live through their pains must come
forth from the trial a changed man for ever after.



CHAPTER XXX.

Free to go forth once more, but oh !

How changed ! Haeold.

A SLIGHT movement in the crowd near the door — a kind of waving
motion like the quiet surging of the sea — seemed to indicate some
commotion within the Court ; and although Linton saw this, and
judged it rightly as the evidence of something eventful about to hap-
pen, he [sat still to await the result with the dogged firmness with
which he would have awaited death itself.

As we are less interested spectators of the scene, let us press our
way through the tired and exhausted crowd that fill the body of the
building. And now we stand beneath the gallery, and immediately
behind a group of about half a dozen, whose dress and demeanour at
once proclaim them of the world of fashion. These are Lord Charles
Frobisher and his friends, who, with [memorandum-books and time-
pieces before them, sit in eager anxiety, for they have wagers on
everything : on the verdict — how the Judge will charge — if the
prisoner will confess — if he will attempt a defence ; and even the
length of time the Juiy will sit in deliberation, is the subject of
a bet !

This anxiety was now at its climax, for, directly in front of them,
a small door had just opened, and a crowd of men entered, and took
their seats in the gallery.

Their grave countenances, marked by watching and eager discus-
sion, at once proclaimed that they were the Jury.

There was a low murmur heard throughout the Court as they
took their seats ; and instinctively many an eye was turned towards
the dock, to watch how lie bore himself in that trying moment. With
a steady gaze fixed upon the spot from which his doom was to be
spoken, he stood erect, with arms folded and his head high. He was
deathly pale ; but not a trace of anything like fear in the calm linea-
ments of his manly features.

" The Jury seem very grave," whispered Upton to Frobisher.



236 ROLAND CASHEL.

" I \nsli tliat stupid old Judge would bestir liimself," replied Lord
Charles, looking at bis watcb ; " it wants four minutes to five : he'll
scarcely be in Court before it strikes, and I shall lose a pony through
it."

" Here he comes ! — here he comes !" said another ; and the Chief
Baron entered the Court, his face betraying that he had been aroused
from sleep.

" Are you agreed, Gentlemen of the Jury ?" asked the Judge, in a
low voice.

" Not perfectly, my Lord," said the Foreman. " "We want your
Lordship to decide a point for us ; which is — If we should be of
opinion that any grave provocation led to the death of Kennyfeck,
whether our verdict could be modified, and our finding be, in con-
sequence, for manslaughter, and not murder ?"

" The indictment," said the Judge, " does not give you that option.
It is framed without any count for the minor offence. I ought, per-
haps, also to observe, that nothing has transpired in the evidence
given here, this day, to warrant the impression you seem inclined to
entertain. Tour verdict must be one of Guilty or Not Guilty."

" "We are of opinion, my Lord," said a Juryman, " that great lati-
tude in the esj)i'ession of temper should be conceded to a young man
reared and educated as the prisoner lias been."

" These sentiments, honourable to you as they are, cannot be in-
dulged at the expense of justice, however they may find a fitting
place in a recommendation to mercy ; and even this must be accom-
panied by something more than sympathies."

" Well said, old boy !" muttered Frobisher to himself. " ]\iy odds
are looking up again."

" In that case, my Lord, we must retire again," said the Foreman ;
and the Jury once more quitted the Court, whose occupants at once
resumed all the lounging attitudes from which the late scene had
aroused them. Exhaustion, indeed, had overcome all save the
prisoner himself, who paced the narrow limits of the dock with slow
and noiseless steps, raising his head at intervals, to watch the gallery
where the Jury were to appear.

In less than half an hour the creaking of a door awoke the drowsy
Court, and the Jury were seen re-entering the box. They continued
to talk among each other as tliey took their seats, and seemed like
men still under the influence of warm discussion.

" Not agreed !" muttered Frobisher, looking at his book. " I stand
to win, even on that."

To the formal (question of the Court, the Foreman for an instant
made no reply, for he was still in eager conversation with another
Juror.

" How say you. Gentlemen of the Jury ? Are you agreed ?"



ROLAND CASHEL. 237

" "We are, my Lord," said the foreman ; " that is to say, some of
the Jury have conceded to the rest for the sake of a verdict."

" This does not seem to me like agreement," interposed the Judge.
" If you be not of the same mind, it will be your duty to retire once
more, and strive by the use of argument and reason to bring the
minority to your opinion ; or in failure of such result, to avow that
you are not like-minded."

" "We have done all that is possible in that respect, my Lord ; and
we beg you will receive our verdict."

" If it be your verdict, Grentlemen," said the Judge, " I desire
nothing more."

" We say, Not Guilty, my Lord," said the Foreman.

There was a solemn pause followed the words, and then a low
murmur arose, which gradually swelled till it burst forth into a very
clamour, that only the grave rebuke of the Bench reduced to the
wonted decorum of a Court of Justice,

" I am never disposed, Gentlemen of the Jury, to infringe upon
the sacred prerogative which environs your office. Tou are responsible
to God and your own consciences for the words you have uttered
here, this day ; but my duty requires that I should be satisfied that
you have come to your conclusion by a due understanding of the
facts laid before you in evidence, by just and natural inferences from
those facts, and by weighing well and dispassionately all that yoU'
have heard, here, to the utter exclusion of anything you may have
listened to outside of this Court. Is your verdict in accordance with
these conditions ?"

" So far, my Lord, as the mysterious circumstances of this crime
admit, I believe it is. "We say ' JS'ot Guilty,' from a firm conviction
on our minds that we are saying the truth."

"Enough," said the Judge. '• Clerk, record the Verdict." Then
turning to the dock, towards which every eye was now bent, he con-
tinued : " Eoland Cashel, a jury of your countrymen, solemnlj^ sworn
to try you on the charge of murder, have this day pronounced you
' Not Guilty.' Tou go, therefore, free from this dock', to resume that
station you occupied in society, without stain upon your character or
blemish upon your fame. The sworn verdict we have recorded ob-
literates the accusation. But, for the sake of justice, for the interests
of the glorious prerogative we possess in Trial by Jury, for the sacred
cause of Truth itself, I implore you, before quitting this Court, to
unravel the thread of this dark mystery, so far as in you lies — to fill
up those blanks in the narrative you have already given us — to con-
firm, to the extent in your power, the justice of that sentence by
which you are restored once more to the society of your friends and
family. This, I say, is now your duty ; and the example you will give,
in performing it, will reflect credit upon yourself, and do service to



238 EOLAND CA.SHEL.

the cause of truth, when you, and I, and those around us, shall be no
more."

It was with stronger show of emotion than Cashel had yet displayed
that he leaned over the dock, and said :

" My Lord, when life, and something more than life, were in peril,
I deemed it right to reserve certain details from the notoriety of this
Court. I did so, not to involve any other in the suspicion of this guilt,
whose author I know not. I did not do so from any caprice, still less from
that misanthropic affectation the Counsel was ungenerous enough to
ascribe to me. I believe that I had good and sufficient reasons for
the course I adopted. I still think I have such. As to the rest, the
discovery of this guilt is now become the duty of my life — I owe it
to those whose words have set me free, and I pledge myself to the
duty."

The Bench now conferred with the Crown Lawyers as to the pro-
ceedings necessary for the discharge of the prisoner ; and already the
crowds, wearied and exhausted, began to withdraw. The interest of
the scene was over ; and in the various expressions of those that
passed might be read the feelings with which they regarded the
result. Many reprobated the verdict as against law and all the facts ;
some attributed the " finding" to the force of caprice; others even
hinted the baser motive, that they didn't like " to hang a man who
spent his income at home ;" and others, again, surmised that bribery
might have had " something to do with it." Few believed in Cashel's
innocence of the crime ; and even they said nothing, for their convic-
tions were more those of impulse than reason.

" Who coidd have thouglit it !" muttered Upton, as, with a knot
of others, he stood waiting for the crowd to pass out.

Frobisher shrugged his shoulders, and went on totting a line of
figures in his memorandum-book.

"Better off than I thought!" said he to himself; " seven to five
taken that he would not plead — eight to three, that he would not
call Linton. Long odds upon time won : lost by verdict four hundred
and fifty. "Well, it might have been worse ; and I've got a lesson —
never to trust a Jury."

"I say, Charley," whispered Upton, "what are you going to do ?"

" How do you mean ?"

" "Will you go up and speak to him ?" said he, with a motion of his
head towards the dock.

Frobisher's sallow cheek grew scarlet. Lost and dead to every
sense of honourable feeling for many a day, tlie well liad not alto-
gether dried up, and it was with a look of cutting insolence ho said :

" No, Sir ; if I did not stand by him before, I'll not be the hound
to crawl to his feet now."

"By Jove! I don't see the thing in that light. He's all right



EOLAND CASHEL. 239

noWy and there's no reason why we shouldn't know him as we used
to do."

"Are you so certain that he will know you?"" was Erobisher's
sharp reply as he turned away.

The vast moving throng pressed forward, and now all were speedily
commingled — spectators, lawyers, jurors, Avitnesses. The spectacle
was ovei', and the empty Court stood silent and noiseless, where a
few moments back human hopes and passions had surged like the
waves of a sea.

The great space in front of the Court-house, filled for a few mo-
ments by the departing crowd, grew speedily silent and empty — for
day had not yet broken, and all were hastening homeward to seek
repose. One figure alone was seen to stand in that spot, and then
move slowly, and to all seeming irresolutely, onward. It was Cash el
himself, who, undecided whither to turn, walked listlessly and care-
lessly on.

As he turned the corner of a street, a jaunting-car, around which
some travellers stood, stopped the way, and he heard the words of the
driver :

" There's another place to spare."
"Where for?" asked Cashel.
" Limei'ick, Sir," said the man.

" Drive on, b 1 you !" cried a deep voice from the other side of

the vehicle ; and the fellow's whip descended with a heavy slash, and
the beast struck out into a gallop, and speedily was out of sight,

" Didn't you see who it was ?" muttered the speaker to the man
beside him.
"No."

"It was Cashel himself— I knew him at once; and I tell you,
Jones, he would have known me, too, for all this disguise, when a
gleam of day came to shine."

As for Cashel, he stood gazing after the departing vehicle, with a
strange chaos of thought working within, " Am I then infixmous ?"
said he at last, " that these men will not travel in my company. Is
it to this the mere accusation of crime has brought me!" And,
slight as tlie incident was, it told upon him as some acrid substance
would irritate and corrode an open wound — festering the tender
surface,

"Better thus dreaded than the 'Dupe' I have been!" said he,
boldly, and entered the inn, where now the preparations for the
coming day had begun. He ordered his breakfast, and post-horses
for Killaloe, resolved to see Tubbermore once again, ere he left it
for ever.

It was a bright morning in the early spring as Cashel drove through
the wide-spreading park of Tubbermore. Dewdrops spangled the



240 EOLAND CASHEL.

grass, amid wliicli crocus and daffodil flo^vers were scattered. The
trees were topped with fresh buds ; the birds were chirping and
twittering on the branches ; the noiseless river, too, flowed past, its
circling eddies looking like blossoms on the stream. All was joyous
and redolent of promise, save him whose humbled spirit beheld in
everything around him the signs of self-reproach.

" These," thought he, " were the rich gifts of fortune that I have
squandered ! This was the paradise I have laid waste ! Here, where
I might have lived happy, honoured, and respected, I see myself
wretched and sbunned! The defeats we meet witb in hardy and
hazardous enterprise are softened down by having dared danger fear-
lessly — by having combated manfully with the enemy. But Avhat
solace is there for him whose reverses spring from childlike weakness
and imbecility — whose life becomes the plaything of parasites and
flatterers ! Could I ever liave thought I would become this ? AVhat
should I once have said of him who would have prophesied me such
as I now am ?"

These gloomy reveries grew deeper and darker as he wandered
from place to place, and marked the stealthy glances and timid
reverences of the peasants as they passed him. " It is only the Jury
have called me 'IS'ot Guilty,' " said he to himself; "the world has
pronounced another verdict, I have come from that dock as one
might have risen from an unhonoured grave, to be looked on with
fear and sorrow. Be it so ; mine must be a lonely existence."

Every room he entered recalled some scene of his past life. Here
was the spacious hall, where, in all the excesses of the banquet,
laughter had rung and wit had sparkled, loud toasts w'ere proffered,
and high-spirited mirtli had once held sway. Here was the drawing-
room, wliere grace and female loveliness were blended, mingling their
odours like flowers in a " bouquet." Here, the little chamber he had
often sought to visit Lady Kilgoff, and passed those liours of '" sweet
converse" wherein his whole nature became changed, and liis rude
pirit softened by the tender influences of a woman's mind. Here
was his own favourite room — the spot from which, in many an hour
snatched from the cares of host, he had watched the wide-flowing
river, and thought of the current of his own life, miugling with liis
reveries many a high bope and many a glorious promise. And now
the whole scene was changed. The mirth, the laughter, the giiests,
the hopes, were fled, and he stood alone in those silent halls, that
never again were to echo with the glad voice of pleasure.

The chief object of his return to Tubbermore was to regain pos-
session of that document wliicli he liad concealed in the cleft of a
beech-tree, before scaling the approach to the window. He found
the spot without difficulty, and soon possessed himself of the paper,



EOLAND CASHEL. 241

the contents of which, however, from being conveyed in a character
he was not familiar with, he could not master.

He next proceeded to the gate-lodge, desirous to see Keane, and
make some arrangement for his future support before he should leave
Tubbermore. The man, however, was absent ; his wife, whose manner
betrayed considerable emotion, said that her husband had returned
in company with another, who remained without, while he hastily
packed a few articles of clothiug in a bundle, and then left the house,
whither to she knew not.

Eoland's last visit was to Tieruay's house ; but he, too, was from
home. He had accompanied Corrigan to Dublin, intending to take
leave of him there ; but a few hurried lines told that he had resolved



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 26 of 32)