Charles James Lever.

Roland Cashel (Volume 2) online

. (page 31 of 32)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


There was a fierce boldness in the way these words were uttered
Linton could not comprehend, any more than be understood what
they might mean.

'• I must plead ignorance, my Lord Duke. I really discredit tbe
eulogium you bave pronounced upon my information."

" Then I will tell you, Sir," said tbe Duke, speaking in a low thick
whisper, while his dark eyes glared with the fire of intense excitement.
" You will find me in tbe Seine !"

Linton staggered back as if he bad been struck, and a pallor spread



278 EOLAXD CASHEL.

over his features, making the very lips bloodless. " How do you
mean, Sir ? Why do you dare to say this to ineT' said he, in a voice
broken and guttural.

" Since none should better know how to appreciate the news," was
the cold answer.

Linton trembled from head to foot, and, casting a wary look around
on every side to see that they were alone, he said, " These words may
mean much, or they may mean nothing — at least nothing that has
concern for me. Now, Sir, be explicit : in what sense am I to read
them?"

The Duke looked astonished at the emotion which all the other's
self-command could not repress ; he saw, too, that he had touched a
secret spring of conscience, and with a calm reserve he said, " Take
what I have said in the sense your own heart now suggests, and I
venture to affirm it will be the least pleasing interpretation you can
put upon it !"

" You shall give me satisfaction for this. Sir," said Linton, whose
passion now boiled over. " I will not endure the tyranny of insinua-
tions from any man. Here, before you quit the house — if ever you
quit it — I will have full satisfaction for your insolence."

"Insolence!" cried the Duke.

" Tes, insolence. I repeat the word, and these gentlemen shall hear
a still stronger word addressed to you, if that will not suffice to arouse
your courage."

This speech was now directed to the crowd of gamblers, who,
suddenly awakened by the loud talking, rushed in a body into the
room.

Questions, and demands for explanation, pressed on every hand,
their countrymen gathering round the antagonists on either side,
both of whom maintained for some minutes a perfect silence. The
Duke was the first to speak. " Gentlemen," said he, "you have heard
an expression addressed to me which no Frenchman listens to without
inflicting chastisement on the speaker — I do not ask — I do not care
in the least — who this person may be — what his rank and position in
life ; I am ready to admit him to the fullest' equality witli myself It
only remains that I should satisfy myself of certain doubts, which his
own manner has originated. It may be that he cannot call me, or any
other gentleman, to account for his words."

Linton's face twitched with short convulsive jerks as he listened,
and then, crossing the room to where the Duke stood, he struck him
with his glove across the face, while, with a very shout of passion, he
uttered the one word — " Coward !" The scene became now one of
the wildest confusion. The partisanship of country surrounded either
%vith a group, who in loud tones expressed their opinions, and asked
for explanations of what had occurred. That some gross insult had



EOLAND CASHEL. 279

been put upon Linton was the prevailing impression ; but how
originating, or of what nature, none knew, nor did the principals
seem disposed to afford the information.

" I tell 3'ou, Frobisher," said Linton, angrily, " it is a matter does
not admit of explanation."

" Parbleu, Sir! you have placed it out of the reach of such," said
an old Fi'ench ofiBcer, " and I trust you will feel the consequences."
The chaos of tongues, loud in altercation and dispute, now burst
forth again, some asserting that the cause of quarrel should be openly
declared at once, others averring that the opprobrious epithet ap-
plied by Linton to the Duke effectually debarred negotiation, and
left no other arbitrament than the pistol. In the midst of this tumult,
where angry passions were already enlisted, and insolent rejoinders
passed from mouth to mouth, a still louder uproar was now heard in
the direction of the salon, and the crash of a breaking door, and the
splintering noise of the shattered wood, overtopped the other sounds.
" The Commissaire de Police !" cried some one, and the words were
electric. The hours of play were illegal — the habits of the house such
as to implicate all in charges, more or less disgraceful — and imme-
diately a general rush was made for escape — some seeking the well-
known private issues from the apartment, others preparing for a bold
attempt to force their passage through the armed followers of the
Commissary.

Every avenue of escape had been already occupied by the gendarmes ;
aud the discomfited gamblers were seen returning into the room crest-
fallen and ashamed, when the Commissary, followed by a knot of
others in plain clothes, advancing into the middle of the chamber,
pronounced the legal form of arrest on all present.

" I am a Peer of France," said the Duke de Marsac, haughtily. "/' I
yield to no authority that does not carry the signature of ray Sove-
reign."

" Tou are free. Monsieur le Due," said the Commissary, bowing
respectfully.

" I am an English gentleman," said Linton, stepping forward. " I
demand by what right you presume to detain me in custody ?"

" "What is your name, Sir ?" asked the Commissary.

" Linton !" was the brief reply.

" That's the man," whispered a voice from behind the Commissary,
and, at the same instant, that functionary approached, aud laying his
hand on the other's shoulder, said :

" I arrest you. Sir, on the charge of murder."

" Murder!" repeated Linton, with a sneer that he could not merge
into a laugh. " This is a sorry jest, Sir."

" Tou will fini it sad earnest !" said a deep voice.

Linton turned round, and straight in front of him stood Eoland



280 EOLAND CASHEL.

Cashel, who, with bent brows and compressed lips, seemed struggling
to repress the passion that worked within him.

" I say, Probisher, are you omitted in the indictment ?" cried
Linton, with a sickly attempt to laugh ; " or has our buccaneering
friend forgotten to stigmatise you for the folly of having known
him?"

" He is in ony custody," said a gruff English voice, in reply to some
observation of the Commissary ; and a short, stout-built man made a
gesture to another in the crowd to advance.

'■ "What! is this indignity to be put upon me?" said Linton, as he
saw the handcuffs produced, and prepared to be adjusted to his wrists.
" Is the false accusation of a pirate and a slaver to expose me to the
treatment of a convicted felon ?"

" I will do my duty. Sir," said the police officer, steadily. " If I
do more, my superiors can hear of it. Tom, put on the irons."

"Is this your vengeance, Sir?" said Linton, as he cast a look of
ineffable hate towards Cashel ; but Eoland made no reply, as he stood
regarding the scene with an air of saddest meaning.

" You knew him better than I did, Charley," said Linton, sneer-
ingly, " when you black-balled him at the Taclit Club ; but the world
shall know him better yet than either of us — mean-spirited scoundrel
that he is."

" Come away, Sir," said the officer, as he placed himself on one side
of his prisoner, his fellow doing the same at the other.

" Not till I see your warrant," said Linton, resolutely.

" There it is, Sir, all reg'lar," said the man; "signed by the Secre-
tary of State, and attested by the witness."

" The rascality is well got up," said Linton, trying to laugh, " but
by Heaven they shall pay for it!" These words were directed to
where Eoland stood, and uttered with a concentrated hate that thrilled
through every heart around.

As Linton was led forth, the Commissary proceeded to arrest the
different individuals present on the charge of gambling in secret. In
the midst of the group was Eica, standing pale with terror, and over-
come by the revelations he had listened to.

" I will be responsible for this gentleman's appearance," said
Cashel, addressing the Commissary. " There is no need to subject
him to the insult of an arrest."

" He can only be liberated by a bail bond in presence of the Judge,
Sir. You can accompany me to the Court, and enter into the recog-
nisances, if you will."

" Be it so," said Cashel, bowing.

Eica made a sign for Eoland to approach him. He tried to speak,
but his voice was inarticulate from faintness, and the only audible
Bound was the one word " Maritaiia."



E0LAI7D CASHEL. 281

""Where?" said Casliel, eagerly.

Hica nodded in the direction of a small door tliat led from tlie
chamber, and Cashel made a gesture of assent in answer.

With headlong speed Eoland traversed the corridor, and entered
the ante-chamber at the end of it. One glance showed him that the
room was empty, and he passed on into the chamber where so lately
Linton had spoken with Maritaiia. This, too, was deserted, as was
the bedroom which opened into it. Hastening from place to pk«3e,
he called her name aloud, but no answer came. Terrified by a hundred
fears, for he well knew the rash, impetuous nature of the girl, Eoland
entreated, in tones of wildest passion, " that she might come forth —
that her friends were all around her, and nothing more to fear." But
no voice replied, and when the sound of his own died away, all was
silent. The window of the dressing-room was open, and as Eoland
looked from it into the street beneath, his eye caught the fragment
of a dress adhering to the hook of the " jalousie." It was plain now
she had made her escape in this manner, and that she was gone.

Too true ! Overcome by terror — her mind distracted by fears of
Linton — without one to succour or protect her, she had yielded to
the impulse of her dread, and leaped from the window ! That small
rag of fluttering gauze was all that remained of Maritaiia.

Eica was to hear these sad tidings as he was led away by the Com-
missary, but he listened to them like one whose mind was stunned
by calamity. A few low murmuring words alone escaped him, and
they indicated that he felt everything which was happening as a
judgment upon him for his own crimes.

Even in his examination before the judge, these half-uttered self-
accusings broke forth, and he seemed utterly indifierent as to what
fate awaited him. By Cashel's intervention, and the deposit of a
large sum as bail for Eica's future appearance, his liberation was
effected, and he was led away from the spot unconscious of all
around him.

As Cashel assisted the weak and tottering man through the
crowded passages of the court, he felt his arm gently touched by a
hand, at the same instant that his name was uttered. He turned
hastily, and saw at his side a woman, who, youthful and still hand-
some, bore in her appearance the signs of deep poverty and stiU
deeper sorrow. Her dress had once been rich, but now, from time
and neglect, was disfigured and shabby ; her veil, partly drawn across
her face, was torn and ragged, and her very shoes were in tatters.
A more sad-looking object it were difficult to conceive, and in the
hurried glance Eoland bestowed upon her, at a moment when all his
thoughts were intent upon other cares, he believed that she was one
entreating charity. Hastily drawing forth his purse, he offered her



282 EOLAKD CASHEL.

some money, but sbe drew proudly up, saying, " This is insult, Sir,
and I have not deserved it."

Cashel started with amazement, and drawing closer, stared eagerly
at her.

" Great Heaven !" cried he " is this possible ? Is this "

" Hush !" cried she. " Let me not hear my name — or what was
once my name — spoken aloud. I see now — you did not know me,
nor would I have brought myself to the shame of being recognised
but for liis sake. He is now before the tribunal, and will be sent to
prison for want of bail."

Cashel motioned to her not to leave the spot ; and having safely
placed Hica in his carriage, returned to the court.

By the guarantee of his name, and the offer of any moneyed se-
curity which might be required, Cashel obtained permission for Lord
Charles Erobisher to go free ; and then hurrying outside, communi-
cated the tidings to her who stood trembling with fear and anxiety.

AYith tearful eyes, and in a voice broken by sobs, she was uttering
her thanks as Lord Charles joined them.

" This, then, was your doing ?" said he, staring coldly at her.

" Say, rather, it was your own, my Lord," said Cashel, sternly.

" Oh, Charles ! thank him — thank him," cried she, hysterically.
'• Friends have not been so plentiful with us, that we can treat them
thus !"

" Lady Charles is most grateful, Sir," said Frobisher, with a cold
sneer. " I am sure the show of feeling she evinces must repay all
your generosity." And, with this base speech, he drew her arm
within his, and moved hastily away. One look towards Cashel, as
she turned to go, told more forcibly than words the agony of her
broken beart.

And this was the once gay, light-hearted girl — the wild and daring
romp, whose buoyant spirit seemed above every reverse of fortune.
Poor Jemima Meek ! she had run away from her father's home to
link her lot with a gambler ! Some play transaction, in which his
name was involved, compelled him to quit the service, and at last the
country. !Now, depending for support upon his family, now, hazard-
ing his miserable means at play, he had lived a life of recklessness
and privation — nothing left to him of his former condition, save the
name that he had brought down to infamy !




-.0



EOLAND CASHEL. 283



CHAPTER XXXYI.
"The end of all."

"What a contrast did Eoland Cashel's life now present to the pur-
poseless vacuity of his late existence ! Every hour was occupied ;
even to a late period of eacli night was he engaged by cares which
seemed to thicken around him as he advanced.

We should but weary our reader were we to follow him in the
ceaseless round of duties which hard necessity imposed. Each morn-
ing his first visit was to the hospital of St. Loviis, where Keane still
lay, weakly struggling against a malady whose fatal termination was
beyond a doubt ; and although Eoland could not wish for the pro-
longation of a life which the law would demand in expiation, he felt
a craving desire that the testimony of the dying man should be full
and explicit on every point, and that every dubious circumstance
should be explained ere the grave closed over him.

To seek for Maritana, to endeavour to recover this poor forlorn
girl, was his next care, and to this end he spared nothing. AVhatever
money could purchase, or skill and unwearied enterprise suggest,
were all employed in the search. Eica, whose nature seemed totally
changed by the terrible shock of Linton's culpability, gave himself
up implicitly to Cashel's guidance, and was unceasing in his efforts
to discover his missing child. But with all the practised acuteness
of the police at their command, and all the endeavours which their
zeal could practise, the search was fruitless, and not a trace of her
could be detected.

Through the Neapolitan Embassy, orders were transmitted to
Naples to inquire into the case of Enrique, whose innocence the tes-
timony of Keane went far to establish. The result was, as Cashel
ardently hoped, his complete vindication, and a telegraphic despatch
brought tidings that he was already liberated, and on his way to
Paris. While both Eoland and Eica waited impatiently for the
arrival of one whose assistance in their search would be so valuable,
the most perfect good understanding grew up between them, and
Cashel began to perceive how, beneath the vices which a life of reck-
less debauchery had created, there lay — inactive and unused for many
a day — kindly feelings and warm affections for which he had never
given him credit. As this confidence grew stronger, Eica became
more frank and open in all his intercourse, and at last revealed to



284! KOLA.ND CASHEL.

Casliel the wliole story of his life — a strange, eventful history, whose
vicissitudes were the changing fortunes of a gambler's existence. For
such was he — without a passion, a pursuit of any kind but play, he
had passed, his life in that one baneful vice. For it he had toiled and
laboured : to indulge that passion he had engaged in deadly duels,
and perilled his life by acts of forgery.

His marriage with Corrigan's daughter was brought about solely
to procure the means of play ; nor was there an energy of his mind
or an impulse of his nature had any other direction. Linton's
skill as a gambler — the unceasing resources he seemed to possess —
the stratagems and devices he could deploy — created for him, in
Eica's mind, a species of admiration that soon degenerated into a
blind submission to all his dictates. Such an ally as this, so deeply
versed in all the weak points of his fellow-men — so thoroughly
master of every impulse that moves — of every hope and fear that
sways the gambler's nature — had been the cherished desire of his
heart for many a year, and now Fortune had at last given him such
an associate. Their sudden success seemed to warrant the justice of
the hope. Everything prospered with them since their new league.
If he did not gain an equal ascendancy over the daughter's mind as
he had acquired over the father's, still the ambitious future he often
pictured before her dazzled and delighted her, and tlius, ere long, he
contrived to obtain a degree of power, although of different kinds,
over both. From such an associate as Linton concealment was im-
possible ; and Kica soon saw himself completely at the mercy of a
man who had sifted every motive of his heart, and weiglied every
action of his life, and at last became his pitiless, tyrannical master.

Eica's connexion with Corrigan suggested to Linton's inventive
mind the possibility of succeeding to that estate for which already he
had perilled so much. His plan was to obtain from Corrigan a full
renunciation of his claim to the property, and then to take the neces-
sary steps to investigate the long dormant title. All their efforts to
discover the old man's residence were, however, vain ; for although
they once obtained a clue to the fact, some information seemed to
have apprised the others of their danger, and their abode was imme-
diately changed.

It was with a strange thrill of mingled pain and pleasure Cashel
heard Kica speak of his daughter Mary — of her he had deserted for
BO many a year, and yet now yearned towards with an affection tliat
sprang from his seli'-accusings. The' terrible chastisement his own
vices had inflicted on his lonely and deserted lot seemed never absent
from his thoughts; and he would sit for hours silently, while the
heavy tears roU^xl along his furrowed cheeks, and his strong, heaving
bosom showed his agony.



BOLA>'D CASHEL. 285

The fruitlessness of their search after IMaritafia in Paris, and the
death of Tom Keane in the hospital, removed the only obstacles to
their departure from that city ; and Eica and Cashel, -^-ho now felt
their fortunes bound up together, prepared to take their leave of
Paris. The trial of Linton was to take place in Limerick, and thither
Eoland was summoned by the law officers of the Crown. This sad
duty accomplished, he was to accompany Eica to Columbia, whither
some slight hope of recovering Maritaiia induced him to proceed. As
for Cashel, once in the old haunts of childhood, he had resolved never
to quit them more.

Eoland's arrangements for departure were soon made, and he re-
paired to the Embassy, where he had been invited to breakfast on the
last morning of his stay. There was a certain bustle and movement
in the court-yard which attracted his attention ; and he saw two
travelling-carriages, with an attendant "fourgon," surrounded by
servants, and loaded with all the preparations for a long journey.

" You have come in time, Mr. Cashel," said the Ambassador, as he
shook hands with him, " to see our new Minister at Florence, who is
now on his way thither ; and what will have more interest in your
eyes, a very pretty girl, who has become the great literary character
of our circles here. I regret much that she is about to leave us."

Cashel bowed politely, but with the cold iudiflerence of one for
whom the tidings had no peculiar interest, and accompanied the Am-
bassador into a salon, crowded with company.

" I have a young countryman to present to you, my Lord," said his
Excellency, leading Cashel forward, " who I trust will wear a less
sombre face in the sunny south than he has done in our northern
latitudes. Mr. Eoland Casliel— Lord KilgofF."

A sudden start of surprise was made by both, and Eoland stood
mute and thunderstruck as Lord Kilgolf advanced towards him with
extended hand, and said :

" Tes, Mr. Cashel, your old friend in better health and spirits than
when last you saw him ; and better able to thank you for much hos-
pitality, and apologise for much injustice."

"Let me have my share in both acknowledgments," said Lady
Kilgoff, rising, and taking Cashel's hand with much cordiality.

Eoland tried to mutter a few words, but he could not succeed ; and
his eyes ranged about the chamber till they fell upon one who, pale
and motionless, regarded him with a look of most expressive sadness.

" Miss Leicester, too, here ?" said he, at last.

''Tes, Mr. Cashel," said Lady Kilgoff; " chance is about to do for
us, what all our skill would have failed in. Here are two worthy
people who will r^ot hear your name mentioned, and who now must
consent, not alone to hear, but see you in person. I am quite con-



286 EOLAI^D CASHEL.

vinced you never did or could have injured them. Stand forward,
Mr. Corrigau, and make your charge."

" I will save that gentleman the pain of accusing me," said Eoland,
with deep emotion. " I have injured him deeply, but yet unwittingly.
I have long desired this meeting, to place in his hands a document I
have never ceased to carry about me — the title to a property of which
I was not the rightful owner, and which is his — and his only."

" I will not, I cannot accept of it, Sir," said Corrigan, proudly.
" I will never see that cottage more."

" I do not speak of ' the Cottage,' " said Cashel, " but of the whole
estate of Tubbermore, the ancient possession of your house — still
yours. There is the proof." And, as he spoke, he drew forth the
pardon, and handed it to Corrigan.

The old man trembled in every limb as he perused the paper, which
he now read over for the third time.

" A royal pardon to Miles Corrigan, my grandfather !" exclaimed
he, gasping for breath ; " and how came you by this, Sir ?"

"The story is soon told," said Cashel, relating in a few words the
singular steps of the discovery.

" And you have travelled throughout Europe for upwards of three
years to disencumber yourself of 16,000Z. a year ?" said the Ambas-
sador, smiling good natur£dly.

" I have done so to disencumber mvself of the weight of an in-
justice."

*' And this is the youth you would accuse of deception ?" said Lady
Kilgoff, haughtily.

" Forgive me, lady ; forgive one who has suffered too heavily from
the world not to fall into the error of thinking once unjustly of a
benefactor."

" I have no title to the name. Sir," said Cashel. " Nay, more. I
am your debtor for wealth which I squandered, believing it my ovrn."

" I knew him better than any of you," cried old Doctor Tiemay,
rushing forward and grasping Cashel by both hands. " My own
generous, high-hearted boy. Come here, Mary ; tell him candidly
that you, too, were always of my opinion. This is no time for coy-
ness. Let us have a little honesty after all this deception." He
drew Cashel to one side, and, in a deep whisper, said, " What of that
Spanish girl ? — Are you married or not ?"

Eoland smiled at the eagerness of the old man's manner, and, in
half-sadness, said, " Poor Maritaiia is now a fugitive — we know not
where."

A sudden commotion at the door, and a tumult of voices, inter-
rupted the scene, and Eica rushed in, crying in ecstasy, *' She is
found — my child is found !"



EOLAND CASHEL. 287

The travellers of the diligence passing through the wood of Ver-
sailles had discovered the form of a sleeping girl at the foot of a tree,
and carried her back with them to Paris. Enrique himself, being
among them, recognised her at once, and soon succeeded in finding
out Rica, into whose arms he restored her.

While Rica hurriedly poured forth this explanation, old Corrigan
stood tremulous with agitation, and at last, advancing towards him,



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 32)