Charles James Lever.

Roland Cashel (Volume 2) online

. (page 27 of 32)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


to proceed further with his friends, and darkly hinting that his return
to the village was more than doubtful.

"Wherever Cashel turned, desertion and desolation met him ; and
the cutting question that ever recurred to his mind was, " Is this my
doing? Are these the consequences of my folly?" The looks of
the villagers seemed to tally with the accusation, as in cold respect
they touched their hats as he passed, but never spoke : " not one
said God bless him."

He twice set out for the cottage, and twice turned back — his over-
full heart almost choked with emotion. The very path that led
thither reminded him too fully of the past, and he turned from it
into the wood, to wander about for hours long, lost in thought.

He sought and found relief in planning out something for his
future life. The discovery of the murderer — the clearing up of the
terrible mystery that involved that crime — had become a duty, and
he resolved to apply himself to it steadily and determinedly. His
unacquitted debt of vengeance on Linton, too, was not forgotten.
These accomplished, he resolved again to betake himself to the " new
world beyond seas." Wealth had become distasteful to him : it was
associated with all that lowered and humiliated him. He felt that
with poverty his manly reliance, his courageous daring to confront
danger, would return — that once more upon the wild prairie, or the
blue waters of the Pacific, he would grow young of heart and high
in spirit, forgetting the puerile follies into which a life of affluence
had led him. " Would that I could believe it all a dream !" thought
he. " Would that this whole year were but a vision, and that I
could go back to what I once was, even as ' the Buccaneer' they
called me !"

His last hours in Tubbermore were spent in arrangements that
showed he never intended to return there. His household was all
discharged — his equipages and horses despatched to the capital to be
sold — his books, his plate, and all that was valuable in furniture,
were ordered to be packed up and transmitted to Dublin. He felt a

VOL. II. E



242 EOLAND CASHEL.

kind of malicious pleasure in erasing and effacing, as it were, every
trace of the last few months.

" I will leave it," muttered he, " to become the wreck I found it —
would that I could be what I was ere I knew it !"

The following day he left Tubbermore for ever, and set out for
Dublin.



CHAPTEE XXXI.

And, with a sleuth-hound's scent,
Smells blood afar !

It was nightfall when Eoland Cashel entered Dublin. The stir
and movement of the day were over, and that brief interval which
separates the life of business from that of pleasure had succeeded.
Pew were stirring in the streets, and they were hastening to the
dinner-parties, whose hour had now arrived. It was little more than
a year since Cashel had entered that same capital, and what a change
Lad come over him within that period ! Then, he was buoyant in all
the enjoyment of youth, health, and affluence; now, although still
young, sorrow and care had worn him into premature age. His
native frankness had become distrust ; his generous reliance on the
world's good faith had changed into a cold and cautious reserve
which made him detestable to himself.

Although he passed several of his former acquaintance without
being recognised, he could not persuade himself but that their avoid-
ance of him was intentional, and he thought he saw a purpose-like
insolence in the pressing entreaties with which the newsveudors per-
secuted him to buy " The FuU and True Eeport of the Trial of Eoland
Cashel for Murder."

And thus it was that ho whose fastidious modesty had shrunk from
everything like the notoriety of fashion, now saw himself exposed to
that more terrible ordeal, the notoriety of crime. The consciousness
of innocence could not harden him against the poignant suffering the
late exposure had inflicted. His whole life laid bare ! Not even to
gratify the morbid curiosity of gossips ; not to amuse the languid
listlessuess of a world devoured by its own ennui ; but far worse !
To furnish motives for an imputed crime ! To give the clue to a
murder ! In the bitterness of his torn heart, he asked liimself —
" Have I deserved all this ?— Is this tlie just requital for my conduct
towards others ? Have the hospitality I have extended, the generous
assistance I have proffered— have the thousand extravagances I have
committed to gratify others— no other fruits than these ?" Alas !



EOLAND CASHEL. 243

f

the answer of Ms enlightened intelligence could no longer blind bim
by its flatteries. He recognised at last, that to his abuse of fortune
were owing all his reverses ; that the capricious extravagance of the
rich man — his misplaced generosity, his pompous display — can create
enemies far more dangerous than all the straits and appliances of re-
bellious poverty ; that the tie of an obligation which can ennoble a
generous nature, may, in a bad heart, develop the very darkest ele-
ments of iniquity ; and that he who refuses to be bound by gratitude
is enslaved by hate !

He stopped for an instant before Kennyfeck's house ; the closed
shutters and close-drawn blinds bespoke it still the abode of mourn-
ing. He passed the residence of the Kilgoff"s, and there, the grass-
grown steps and rusted knocker spoke of absence. They had left the
country. He next came to his own mansion — that spacious building
which, at the same hour, was wont to be brilliant with wax-lights
and besieged by fast-arriving guests, where the throng of carriages
pressed forward in eager haste, and where, as each step descended,
some form or figure moved by, great in fame or more illustrious still
by beauty. K'ow, all was dark, gloomy, and deserted. A single gleam
of light issued from the kitchen, which was speedily removed as
Eoland knocked at the door.

The female servant who opened the door nearly dropped the candle
as she recognised the features of her master, who, without speaking,
passed on, and, without even removing his hat, entered the library.
Profuse in apologies for the disorder of the furniture, and excuses for
the absence of the other servants, she followed him into^the room,
and stood, half in shame and half in terror, gazing at the wan and
worn countenance of him she remembered the very ideal of health and
youth.

" If we only knew your honour was coming home to-night "

" I did not know it myself, good woman, at this hour yesterday.
Let me have something to eat — well, a crust of bread and a glass of
wine — there's surely so much in the house ?"

" I can give yoiu* honour some bread, but all the wine is packed up
and gone."

" Gone ! whither, and by whose order ?" said Eoland, calmly.

" Mr. Phillis, Sir, sent it off" about ten days ago, with the plate,
and I hear both are off to America !"

" The bread alone, then, with a glass of water, will do," said he,
without any emotion or the least evidence of surprise in his manner.

" The fare smacks of the prison still," said Eoland, as he sat at his
humble meal ; " and truly the house itself is almost as gloomy."

The aspect of everything was sad and depressing. JSTeglect and
disorder pervaded wherever he turned his steps. In some of the
rooms the remains of past orgies still littered the tables. Smashed

e2



244 EOLAND CASHEL.

vases of rare porcelain, broken mirrors, torn pictures — all the work,
in fact, which ruffian intemperance in its most savage mood accom-
plishes — told who were they who replaced his fashionable society ;
while, as if to show the unfeeling spirit of the revellers, several of the
pasquinades against himself, the libellous calumnies of the low press,
the disgusting caricatures of infamous prints, were scattered about
amid the wrecks of the debauch.

Eoland saw these things with sorrow, but without anger. " I must
have fallen low indeed," muttered he, " when it is by such men I am
judged."

In the room which once had been his study a great pile of unsettled
bills covered the table, the greater number of which he remembered
to have given the money for ; there were no letters, however, nor even
one card of an acquaintance, so that, save to his creditors, his very
existence seemed to be forgotten.

"Wearied of his sad pilgrimage from room to room, he sat down at
last in a small boudoir, which it had been his caprice once to adorn
with the portraits of " his friends !" sketched by a fashionable artist.
There they were, all smiling blandly, as he left them. What a com-
mentary on their desertion of him were the looks so full of benevo-
lence and affection ! There was Frobisher, lounging in all the ease
of fashionable indifference, but still with a smile upon his languid
features. There was Upton, the very picture of straightforward
good feeling and frankness. There was Jennings, all beaming with
generosity ; and Linton, too, occupying the chief place, seemed to
stare with the very expression of resolute attachment that so often
had imposed on Cashel, and made him think him a most devoted, but
perhaps an indiscreet, friend. Eoland's own portrait had been turned
to the wall, while on the reverse was written, in large characters, the
words, " To be hung, or hanged, elsewhere." The brutal jest brought
the colour for an instant to his cheek, but the next moment he was
calm and tranquil as before.

Lost in musings, the time stole by ; and it was late in the night
ere he betook himself to rest. His sleep was the heavy slumber of
an overworked mind ; but he awoke refreshed and with a calm courage
to breast the tide of fortune, however it might run.

Life seemed to present to him two objects of paramount interest.
One of these was the discovery of Kennyfeck's murderer ; the second
was the payment of his debt of vengeance to Linton. Some secret
instinct induced him to couple the two together; and although
neither reason nor reflection afforded a clue to link them, they came
ever in company before his mind, and rose like one fact before him.

Mr. Hammond, the eminent lawyer, to whom he had written a few
lines, came punctually at ten o'clock to confer with him. Eolaud had
determined to reveal no more of his secret to the ears of counsel than



EOLAND CASHEL. 245

he had done before the Court, when an accidental circumstance
totally changed the course of his proceeding.

" I have sent for you, Mr. Hammond," said Cashel, as soon as
they were seated, " to enlist your skilful services in tracing out the
real authors of a crime of which I narrowly escaped the penalty. I
will first, however, entreat your attention to another matter, for this
may be the last opportunity ever afforded me of personally consult-
ing you."

" Tou purpose to live abroad. Sir ?" asked Hammond.

" I shall return to Mexico," said Eoland, briefly ; and then re-
sumed : " Here is a document. Sir, of whose tenor and meaning T am
ignorant, but of whose importance I cannot entertain a doubt : will
you peruse it ?"

Hammond opened the parchment; but scarcely had his eyes
glanced over it, when he laid it down before him, and said :

" I have seen this before, Mr, Cashel. Tou are aware that I already
gave you my opinion as to its value ?"

" I am not aware of that," said Eoland, calmly. " Pray, in whose
possession did you see it, and what does it mean ?"

Hammond seemed confused for a few seconds ; and then, as if
overcoming a scruple, said :

" We must both be explicit here, Sir. This document was shown
to me, by Mr. Linton, at Limerick, he alleging that it was at your
desire and by your request. As to its import, it simply means that
you hold your present estates without a title ; that document being a
full pardon, revoking all penalty of confiscation against the heirs of
Miles Corrigan, and reinstating them and theirs in their ancient pos-
sessions. Now, Sir, may I ask, do you hear this for the first time?"

Eoland nodded in acquiescence ; his heart was too full for utter-
ance, and the sudden revulsion of his feeling had brought a sickly
sensation over him.

"Mr. Linton," resumed Hammond, "in showing me this deed,
spoke of a probable alliance between you and the granddaughter of
Mr. Corrigan ; and I freely concurred in the propriety of a union
which might at once settle the difiiculty of a very painful litigation.
He promised me more fuU information on the subject, and engaged
me to make searches for a registry, if such existed, of the pardon ;
but I heard nothing more from him, and the matter escaped my
memory till this moment."

" So that all this while I have been dissipating that which was not
mine," said Eoland, with a bitterness of voice and manner that be-
spoke what he suffered.

" Tou have done what some thousands have done, are doing, and
will do hereafter — enjoyed possession of that which the law gave you,
and which a deeper research into the same law may take away."



246 EOLAND CjLSHEL.

" And Linton knew this ?"

" He certainly knew my opinion of this document ; but am I to
suppose that you were ignorant of it up to this moment ?"

" Tou shall hear all," said Cashel, passing his hand across his brow,
which now ached with the torture of intense emotion.' " To save my-
self from all the ignominy of a felon's death, I did not reveal this before.
It was with me as a point of honour, that I would reserve this man
for a personal vengeance ; but now, a glimmering light is breaking on
my brain, that darker deeds than all he worked against me lie at his
door, and that in following up my revenge I may be but robbing the
scaffold of its due. Listen to me, attentively." So saying, Cashel
narrated every event of the memorable day of Kennj-feck's death, de-
tailing his meeting with Enrique in the glen, and his last interv^iew
with Linton in his dressing-room.

Hammond heard aU with deepest interest, only interrupting at
times to ask such questions as might throw light upon the story. The
whole body of the circumstantial evidence against Eoland not only
became easily explicable, but the shrewd perception of the lawyer also
saw the consummate skill with which the details had been worked
into regular order, and what consistency had been imparted to them.
The great difficulty of the case lay in the fact, that, supposing Kenny-
feck's death had been planned by others, with tlie intention of im-
puting the crime to Cashel, yet all the circumstances, or nearly aU,
which seemed to imply his guilt, were matters of perfect accident for
which they never coidd have provided, nor even ever foreseen : such
as his entrance by the window — his torn dress — the wound of his
hand — and the blood upon his clothes.

" I see but one clue to this mystery," said Hammond, thoughtfully ;
" but the more I reflect upon it, the more likely does it seem. Ken-
nyfeck's fate was intended for you — he fell by a mistake."

Eoland started with astonishment, but listened with deep attention,
as Hammond recapitulated everything which accorded with this as-
sumption.

" But why was one of my own pistols taken for the deed ?"

" Perhaps to suggest the notion of suicide."

" How could my death have been turned to profit ? Was I not
better as the living dupe than as the dead enemy ?"

" Do you not see how your death legalised the deed with a forged
signature ? "Who was to dispute its authenticity ? Besides, how
know we what ambitions Linton may not have cherished when hold-
ing in his hands the only title to the estate. We may go too fast
with these 'suspicious, but let us not reject them as inconsistent.
Who is this same witness, Keane ? Wliat motives had he for the
gratitude he evinced on the trial ?"



EOLAND CASHEL. 247

" None whatever : on the contrary, I never showed him any favour ;
it was even my intention to dismiss him from the gate-lodge !"

" And he was aware of this ?"

" Perfectly. He had besought several people to intercede for him,
Linton among the rest."

" So that he was known to Linton ? And what has become of him
since the trial ?"

" That is the strangest of all. My wish was to have done something
for the poor fellow. I could not readily forget the feeling he showed,
at a moment, too, when none seemed to remember me ; so that when
I reached Tubbermore I at once repaired to the lodge, but he was
gone."

"And in what direction?"

" His wife could not tell. The poor creature was distracted at
being deserted, and seemed to think — ^from what cause I know not —
that he would not return. He had come back after the trial in
company with another, who remained on the roadside while Keane
hastily packed up some clothes, after which they departed together."

" This must be thought of," said Hammond, gravely, while he
wrote some lines in his note-book.

"It is somewhat strange, indeed," said Cashel, "that th e very
men to whom my gratitude is most due are those who seem to avoid
me. Thus, Jones, who gave me his aid upon the trial "

" Do not speak of him. Sir," said Hammond, in a voice of agitation ;
" he is one who has sullied an order that has hitherto been almost
without a stain. There is but too much reason to think that he was
bribed to destroy you. His whole line of cross-examination on the
trial was artfully devised to develop whatever might injure you ; but
the treachery turned upon the men who planned it. The Attorney-
G-eneral saw it, aud the Court also. It was this saved you."

Cashel sat powerless and speechless at this disclosure. It seemed
to fill up in his mind the cup of iniquity, and he never moved nor
uttered a word as he listened.

" Jones you will never see again. The bar of some other land
across the sea may receive him, but there is not one here who would
stoop to be his colleague. But now for others more important. I
will this day obtain tlae Judge's notes of the trial, and give the whole
case the deepest consideration. Inquiry shall be set on foot as to
Keane, with whom he has gone, and in what direction, Linton, too,
must be watched ; the report is that ho lies dangerously ill at his
country-house, but that story may be invented to gain time."

Cashel could scarcely avoid a smile at the rapidity with which the
lawyer detailed his plan of operation, and threw out, as he went, the
signs of distrust so characteristic of his craft. As for himself, he



248 EOLAJJD CASHEL.

Tvas enjoined to remain in the strictest privacy — to see no one, nor
even to leave the house, except after nightfaU.

" Eely upon it," said Hammond, " your every movement is watched ;
and our object will be to ascertain by whom. This will be our first
clue ; and when we obtain one, others will soon follow."

It was no privation for Cashel to follow a course so much in ac-
cordance with his ■wishes. Solitude — even that which consigned him
to the saddest reveries — was far more pleasurable than any inter-
course ; so that he never ventured beyond the walls of his house for
weeks, nor exchanged a word, except with Hammond, who regularly
visited him each day, to report the progress of his investigation.

The mystery did not seem to clear away, even by the skilful con-
trivances of the lawyer. Of Keane not a trace could be discovered ;
nor could any clue be obtained as to his companion. All that Ham-
mond knew was, that although a doctor's carriage daily drove to
Linton's house, Linton himself had long since left the country — it
was believed for the Continent.

Disappointed by continual failures, and wearied by a life whose
only excitement lay in anxieties and cares, Cashel grew each day
sadder and more depressed. The desire for vengeance, too, that first
had filled his mind, grew weaker as time rolled on. The wish to
reinstate himself fully in the world's esteem diminished, as lie lived
apart from all its intercourse, and he sank into a low despondency,
which soon showed its ravages upon his face and figure."

One object alone remained for him — this was to seek out Corrigan
and place in his hand the document of his ancestor's pardon ; this
done, Roland resolved to betake himself to Mexico, and again, among
the haunts of his youth, to try and forget that life of civilisation
which had cost him so dearlv.



CHAPTER XXXII.

How sweete and lovely dost thou make the shame

Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beautie of thy budding name.

Some years passed over, and the name of Roland Cashel ceased to
be uttered, or his memory even evoked, in that capital where once his
wealth, his eccentricities and his notoriety, had been the theme of
every tongue. A large ncglected-looking house, with closed shutters
and grass-grown steps, would attract the attention of some passing
stranger to ask whom it belonged to, but the name of Mr. Cashel was



EOLAND CASHEL. 249

almost all that many knew of him, and a vague impression that he was
travelling in some remote and far-away land.

Tubbermore, too, fell back into its former condition of ruin and
decay. Xo one seemed to know into whose hands the estate had
fallen, but the talismanic word " Chancery" appeared to satisfy every
inquiry, and account for a desolation that brooded over the property
and all who dwelt on it. The very "Cottage" had yielded to the
course of time, and little remained of it save a few damp discoloured
walls and blackened chimneys ; while here and there a rare shrub, or
a tree of foreign growth, rose among the rank weeds and thistles, to
speak of the culture which once had been the pride of this lovely
spot. J-

Had there been a " curse upon the place," it could not have been
more dreary and sad-looking.

Of the gate-lodge — where Keane lived — a few straggling ruins
alone remained, in a corner of which a miserable family was herded
together, their wan looks and tattered clothing showing that they
were dependent for existence on the charity of the very poor. These
were Keane's wife and children, to whom he never again returned.
There was a blight over everything. The tenantry themselves, no
longer subject to the visits of the agent, the stimulus to all industry
withdrawn, would scarcely labour for their own support, but passed
their lives in brawls and quarrels, which more than once had led to a
felon's sentence. The land lay untilled ; the cattle, untended, strayed
at will through the uufenced fields. The villages on the property were
crammed by a host of runaway wretches whose crimes had driven
them from their homes, till at length the district became the plague-
spot of the country, where, even at noonday, few strangers were bold
enough to enter, and the word " Tubbermore " had a terrible signifi-
cance in the neighbourhood round about.

Let us now turn for the last time to him whose fortune had so
powerfully influenced his property, and w^hose dark destiny seemed
to throw its shadow over all that once was his. For years Eolaud
Cashel had been a wanderer. He travelled every country of the Old
"World and the New ; his appearance and familiarity with the language
enabling him to assume the nationality of a Spaniard, and thus screen
him from that painful notoriety to which his story was certain to
expose him. Journeying alone, and in the least expensive manner —
for he no longer considered himself entitled to any of the property he
once enjoyed — he made few acquaintances and contracted no friend-
ships. One object alone gave a zest to existence — to discover Mr.
Corrigan, and place within his hands the title-deeds of Tubbermore.
"With this intention he had searched through more than half of
Europe, visiting the least frequented towns, and pursuing inquiries
in every possible direction ; at one moment cheered by some glimmer-



250 EOLAND CASHEL.

ing prospect of success, at anotlier dashed by disappointment and
failure. If a tliouglit of Linton did occasionally cross him, he
struggled manfully to overcome the temptings of a passion which
should thwart the dearest object of his life, and make vengeance pre-
dominate over truth and honesty. As time rolled on the spirit of his
hatred became gradually weaker ; and if he did not forgive all the ills
his treachery had worked, his memory of them was less frequent and
less painful.

His was a cheerless, for it was a friendless, existence. Avoiding
his own countrymen from the repugnance he felt to sustain his dis-
guise by falsehood, he wandered from land to land and city to city
like some penitent in the accomplishment of a vow. The unbroken
monotony of this life, the continued pressure of disappointment, at
last began to tell upon him, and in his moody abstractions — his fits
of absence and melancholy — might be seen the change which had
come over him. He might have been a long time ignorant of an



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 27 of 32)