Charles James Lever.

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ladyship understood it at once, and said,

'' Oh, let us release poor Richard from his bondage.
Tell him to come in."

Lord Netherby walked forward ; but scarcely had he
entered the drawing-room, when he called out, " He's
gone ! "

" Gone ! when ? how ? " cried Lady Netherby, ringing


the bell. " Did you see Lord Wallincourt when he was
going, Davenport? " asked she, at once assuming her own
calm deportment.

" Yes, my lady."

" I hope he took the carriage."

" No, my lady, his lordship went on foot."

" That will do, Davenport. I don't receive to-day."

" I must hasten after him," said Lord Netherby, as the
servant withdrew. " We have, perhaps, incurred the
very hazard we hoped to obviate."

" I half feared it," exclaimed Lady Netherby, gravely;
" lose no time, however, and bring him to dinner ; say
that I feel very poorly, and that his society will cheer
me greatly ; if he is unfit to leave the house, stay with
him ; but above all things let him not be left alone."

Lord Netherby hastened from the room, and his carriage
was soon heard at a rapid pace proceeding down the

Lady Netherby sat with her eyes fixed on the carpet,
and her hands clasped closely, lost in thought. " Yes,"
said she, half aloud, " there is a fate in it ! This Lady
Eleanor may have her vengeance yet ! "

It was about an hour after this, and while she was still
revolving her own deep thoughts, that Lord Netherby re-
entered the room.

"Well, is he here?" asked she, impatiently.

" No, he's off to Ireland ; the very moment he reached
the hotel he ordered four horses to his carriage, and while
his servant packed some trunks, he himself drove over
to Lord Castlereagh's, but came back almost immediately.
They must have used immense despatch, for Long told me
that they would be nigh Barnet when I called."

" He's a true Wallincourt," said her ladyship, bitterly.
" Their family motto is ' Bash in danger,' and they have
well deserved it."




FORESTER for so to the end we must call him but ex-
emplified the old adage in his haste. The debility of
long illness was successfully combated for some hours by
the fever of excitement, but as that wore off, symptoms
of severe malady again exhibited themselves, and when
on the second evening of his journey he arrived at Bangor,
he was dangerously ill. With a head throbbing, and a
brain almost mad, he threw himself upon a bed, perhaps
the thought of his abortive effort to reach Ireland the
most agonizing feeling of his tortured mind. His first
care was to inquire after the sailing of the packet, and
learning that the vessel would leave within an hour, he
avowed his resolve to go at every hazard. As the time
drew nigh, however, more decided evidences of fever set
in, and the medical man who had been called to his aid,
pronounced that his life would pay the penalty were he
to persist in his rash resolve. His was not a temper to
yield to persuasion on selfish grounds, and nothing short
of his actual inability to endure moving from where he
lay at last compelled him to cede ; even then he ordered
his only servant to take the dispatches which Lord Castle-
reagh had given him, and proceed with them to Dublin,
where he should seek out Mr. Bicknell, and place them
in his hands, with strict injunctions to have them for-
warded to Lady Eleanor Darcy at once. The burning
anxiety of a mind weakened by a tedious and severe
malady, the fever of travelling, and the impatient
struggles he made to be clear and explicit in his direc-
tions, repeated as they were full twenty times over, all
conspired to exaggerate the worst features of his case,
and ere the packet sailed, his head was wandering in wild


Linwood knew his master too well to venture on a con-
tradiction, and although with very grave doubts that he
should ever see him again alive, he set out, resolving to
spare no exertions to be back soon again in Bangor. The
transit of the Channel forty-five years ago was, however,
very different from that at present, and it was already the
evening of the following day when he reached Dublin.

There was no difficulty in finding out Mr. Bicknell's
residence ; a very showy brass-plate on a door in a fashion-
able street, proclaimed the house of the well-known
man of law. He was not at home, however, nor would
be for some- hours; he had gone out on a matter of
urgent business, and left orders that except for some most
pressing reason, he was not to be se"nt for. Linwood did
not hesitate to pronounce his business such, and at length
obtained the guidance of a servant to the haunt in ques-

It was in a street of a third or fourth-rate rank, called
Stafford Street, that Bicknell's servant now stopped,' and
having made more than one inquiry as to name and
number, at last knocked at the door of a sombre-looking,
ruinous old house, whose windows, broken or patched with
paper, bespoke an air of poverty and destitution. A child
in a ragged and neglected dress opened the door, and
answering to the question " If Mr. Bicknell were there,"
in the affirmative, led Linwood up stairs creaking as they
went with rottenness and decay.

" Tou're to rap there, and he'll come to you," said the
child, as they reached the landing, where two doors pre-
sented themselves ; and so saying, she slipped noiselessly
and stealthily down the stairs, leaving him alone in the
gloomy lobby. Linwood was not without astonishment
at the place in which he found himself, but there was no
time for the indulgence of such a feeling, and he knocked,
at first gently, and then, as no answer came, more loudly,
and at last when several minutes elapsed, without any
summons to enter, he tapped sharply at the panel with his
cane. Still there was no reply ; the deep silence of the
old house seemed like that of a church at midnight, not
a sound was heard to break it. There was a sense of
dreariness and gloom over the ruinous spot and the fast-


closing twilight that struck Linwood deeply, and it is
probable, had the mission with which he was entrusted
been one of less moment than his mastsr seemed to think
it, that Linwood would quietly have descended the stairs,
and deferred his interview with Mr. Bicknell to a more
suitable time and place. He had come, however, bent on
fulfilling his charge, and so, after waiting what he believed
to be half an hour, and which might possibly have been
five or ten minutes, he applied his hand to the lock, and
entered the room.

It was; a large, low-ceilinged apartment, whose moth-
eaten furniture seemed to rival with the building itself, and
which, though once not without some pretension to re-
spectability, was now crumbling to decay, or coarsely
mended by some rude hand. A door, not quite shut, led
into an inner apartment, and from this room the sound of
voices proceeded, whose conversation, in all probability,
had prevented Linwood's summons from being heard.

Whether the secret instincts of his calling were the
prompter for Linwood was a valet or that the strange
circumstances in which he found himself had suggested
a spirit of curiosity, but Linwood approached the door
and peeped in. The sin of eaves-dropping, like most
other sins, would seem only difficult at the first step ; the
subsequent ones came easily, for, as the listener established
himself in a position to hear what went forward, he speedily
became interested in what he heard.

By the grey half-light three figures were seen. One
was a lady, so at least her position and attitude bespoke
her, although her shawl was of a coarse and humble stuff,
and her straw bonnet showed signs of time and season.
She sat back in a deep leather chair, with hands folded,
and her head slightly thrown forward, as if intently
listening to the person who, at a distance of half the
room, addressed her. He was a thick-set, powerful
man, in a jockey-cut coat and top-boots ; a white hat,
somewhat crushed and travel-stained, was at his feet, and
across it a heavy horsewhip ; his collar was confined by a
single fold of a spotted handkerchief, that thus displayed
a brawny throat and a deep beard of curly black hair,
that made the head appear unnaturally large. The third


figure was of a little, dapper, smart-looking personage,
with a neatly-powdered head and a scrupulously white
cravat, who, standing partly behind the lady's chair, be-
stowed an equal attention on the speaker.

The green-coated man, it was clear to see, was of an
order in life far inferior to the others, and in the manner
of his address, his attitude as he sat, and his whole bear-
ing, exhibited a species of rude deference to the listeners.

'' Well, Jack," cried the little man, in a sharp lively
voice, " we knew all these facts before ; what we were
desirous of was something like proof something that
might be brought out into open court and before a jury."

" I'm afraid then, sir," replied the other, " I can't help
you there. I told Mr. Daly all I knew and all I sus-
pected, when I was up in Newgate, and if he hadn't been
in such a hurry that night to leave Dublin for the north,
I could have brought him to the very house this fellow
Garret was living in."

" Who is Garret?" broke in the lady, in a deep, full

" The late Mr. Gleeson's butler, ma'am," said the little
man ; " a person we have never been able to come at.
To summon him as a witness would avail us nothing; it
is his private testimony that might be of such use
to us."

" Well, you see, sir," continued the green coat, or, as
he was familiarly named by the other, Jack, whom, per-
haps, our reader has already recognised as Freney, the
others being Miss Daly and Bicknell " well, you see, sir,
Mr. Daly was angry at the way things was done that
night and sure enough he had good cause and sorra
bit of a word he'd speak to me when I was standing with
the tears in my eyes to thank him ; no, nor he wouldn't
take the mare that was ready saddled and bridled in
Healey's stables waiting for him, but he turned on his
heel with ' D n you for a common highwayman ; it's
what a man of blood and birth ever gets by stretching a
hand to save you.' "

" He should have thought of that before," remarked
Miss Daly, solemnly.

" Faith, and if he did, ma'am, your humble servant


would have had to dance upon nothing ! " rejoined
Freney, with a laugh that was very far from mirthful.

" And what was the circumstance which gave Mr.
Daly so much displeasure, Jack ? " asked Bicknell. " I
thought that everything went on exactly as he had
planned it."

" Quite the contrary, sir ; nothing was the way it ought
to be. The fire was never thought of "

" Never thought of! Do you mean to say it was an
accident ? "

" No, I don't, sir ; I mean, that all we wanted was to
make believe that the gaol was on fire, which was easy
enough with burning straw ; the rest was all planned
safe and sure. And when we saw the real flames shoot-
ing up, sorra one was more frightened than some of
ourselves ; each accusing the other, cursing and shouting,
and crying like mad ! Ay, indeed ! there was an ould
fellow in for sheep-stealing, and nothing would convince
him but that it was ' the devil took us at our word,' and
sent his own fire for us. Not one of them was more
puzzled than myself. I turned it every way in my mind,
and could make nothing of it ; for although I knew well
that Mr. Daly would burn down Dublin from Barrack
Street to the North Wall if he had a good reason for it,
I knew also he'd not do it out of mere devilment. Be-
sides, ma'am, the way matters was going, it was likely
none of us would escape. There was I saving your
presence with eight-pound fetters on my legs. Ay,
f'aix ! I went down the ladder with them afterwards."

" But the fire."

" I'm coming to it, sir. I was sitting this way, with
my chin on my hands, at the window of my cell, trying
to get a taste of fresh air, for the place was thick of
smoke, when I seen the flames darting out of the win-
dows of a public-house at the corner, the sign of the
' Cracked Padlock,' and, at the same minute, out came
the fire through the roof, a gread red spike of flame
higher than the chimney. ' That's no accident,' says I to
myself, ' whatever them that's doing it means ; ' and sure
enough, the blaze broke out in the other corner of the
street just as I said the words. Well, ma'am, of all the


terrible yells and cries that was ever heard, the prisoners
set up then, for though there was eight lying for execu-
tion on Saturday, and twice as many more very sure of
the same end after the sessions, none of us liked to face
such a dreadful thing as fire. Just then, ma'am, at that
very minute, there came, as it might be, under my window,
a screech so loud and so piercing that it went above all
the other cries, just the way the yellow fire darted]
through the middle of the thick lazy smoke. Sorra one
could give such a screech but a throat I knew well, and
so I called out at the top of my voice, ' Ah, ye limb of the
devil, this is your work ! ' and as sure as I'm here, there
came a laugh in my ears, and whether it was the devil
himself gave it or Jemmy, I often doubted since."

" And who is Jemmy?" asked Bicknell.

"A bit of a ' gossoon' I had to mind the horses, and
meet me with a beast here and there, as I wanted. The
greatest villain for wickedness that was ever pinioned ! "

" And so he was really the cause of the fire '? "

"Ay, was he! He not only hid the tinder and
chips "

Just as Freney had got thus far, he drew his legs up
close beneath him, sunk down his head as if into his neck,
and with a spring, such as a tiger might have given,
cleared the space between himself and the door, and
rolled over on the floor, with the trembling figure of Lin-
wood under him. So terribly sudden was the leap, that
Miss Daly and Bicknell scarcely saw the bound ere they
beheld him with one hand upon the victim's throat, while
with the other he drew forth a clasp-knife, and opened
the blade with his teeth.

" Keep back, keep back," said Freney, as Bicknell drew
nigh ; and the words came thick and guttural, like the
deep growl of a mastiff.

"Who are you, and what brings you here?" said
Freney, as, setting his knee on the other's chest, he relin-
quished the grasp by which he had almost choked

" I came to see Mr. Bicknell," muttered the nearly life-
less valet.

" What did you want with me ? "


" Wait a bit," interposed Freney. " Who brought you
here ? how came you to be standing by that door ? "

" Mr. Bicknell's servant showed me the house, and a
child brought me to this room."

" There, sir," said Freney, turning his head towards
Bicknell, without releasing the strong pressure by which
he pinned the other down " there, sir, so much for your
caution. You told me if I came to this lady's lodgings
here, that I was safe, and now here's this fellow has heard
us and everything we've said, maybe these two hours."

"I only heard about Newgate," muttered the miserable
Linwood ; " I was but a few minutes at the door, and was
going to knock. I came from Lord Wallincourt with
papers of great importance for Mr. Bicknell. I have them,
if you'll let me "

" Let him get up," said Miss Daly, calmly.

Freney stood back, and retired between his victim and
the door, where he stood, with folded arms and bent
brows, watching him.

" He has almost broke in my ribs," said Linwood, as
he pressed his hand to his side, with a grimace of true

" So much for eaves-dropping. You need expect no pity
from me," said Miss Daly, sternly. " Where are these

" My lord told me," said the man, as he took them from
his breast, "that I was to give them into Mr. Bicknell's
own hands, with strictest directions to have them for-
warded at the instant. But for that," added he, whining,
" I had never come to this."

" Let it be a lesson to you about listening, sir," said Miss
Daly. "Had my brother been here "

" Ob, by the powers ! " broke in Freney, " he'd have
pitched you neck and crop into the water-hogshead below,
if your master was the Lord-Lieutenant."

By this time Bicknell was busy reading the several
addresses on the packets, and the names inscribed in the
corners of each.

" If I'm not mistaken, madam," said he, to Miss Daly,
" this Lord Wallincourt is the new peer, whose brother
died at Lisbon. The name is Forester."


"Yes, sir, you are right," muttered Linwood.

" The same Mr. Richard Forester my brother knew, the
cousin of Lord Castlereagh ? "

" Yes, ma'arn," said Linwood.

" Where is he ? Is he here ? "

"No, ma'am, he's lying dangerously ill, if he be yet
alive, at Bangor. He wanted to bring these papers over
himself, but was only able to get so far when the fever
came on him again."

"Is he alone?"

"Quite alone, ma'am, no one knows even his name.
He would not let me say who he was."

Miss Daly turned towards Bicknell, and spoke for
sevei-al minutes in a quick and eager voice. Meanwhile,
Freney, now convinced that he had not to deal with a spy
or a thief-catcher, came near and addressed Linwood.

" I didn't mean to hurt ye till I was sure ye deserved it,
but never play that game any more."

Linwood appeared to receive both apology and precept
with equal discontent.

" Another thing," resumed Freney : "I'm sure you are
an agreeable young man in the housekeeper's room and
the butler's parlour, very pleasant and conversable, with
a great deal of anecdote and amusing stories, but, mind me,
let nothing tempt ye to talk about what ye heard me say
to-night. It's not that I care about myself it's worse
than gaol-breaking they can tell of me but I won't have
another name mentioned. D'y e mind me ?"

As if to enforce the caution, he seized the listener be-
tween his finger and thumb, and whether there was some-
thing magnetic in the touch, or that it somehow conveyed
a foretaste of what disobedience might cost, but Linwood
winced till the tears came, and stammered out,

" You may depend on it, sir, I'll never mention, it."

"I believe you," said the robber, with a grin, and fell
back to his place.

" I will not lose a post, rely upon it, madam," said
Bicknell ; " and am I to suppose you have determined on
this journey?"

"Yes," said Miss Daly, "the case admits of little hesi-
tation ; the young man is alone, friendless, and unknown.


I'll hasten over at once I am too old for slander, Mr.
Bicknell. Besides, let me see who will dare to utter it."

There was a sternness in her features as she spoke that
made her seem the actual image of her brother. Then,
turning to Linwood, she continued,

" I'll go over this evening to Bangor in the packet ; let
me find you there."

"I'll see him safe on board, ma'am," said Freney, with
a leer, while, slipping his arm within the valet's, he half
led, half drew him from the room.



IN the deep bay-window of a long, gloomy-looking dinner-
room of a Dublin mansion, sat a party of four persons
around a table plentifully covered with decanters and
bottles, and some stray remnants of a dessert, which
seemed to have been taken from the great table in the
middle of the apartment. The night was falling fast, for
it was past eight o'clock of an evening in autumn, and
there was barely sufficient light to descry the few scrubby-
looking ash and alder trees that studed the barren grass-
plot between the house and the stables. There was no-
thing to cheer in the aspect without, nor, if one were to
judge from the long pauses that ensued after each effort
at conversation, the few and monotonous words of the
speakers, were there any evidences of a more enlivening
spirit within doors. The party consisted of Dr. Hick-
man and his son Mr. O'Reilly, Mr. Heffernan, and "Coun-
sellor " O'Halloran.

At first, and by the dusky light in the chamber, it would
seem as if but three persons were assembled, for the old



doctor, whose debility had within tlie last few months
made rapid strides, had sunk down into the recess of the
deep chair, and save by a low quavering respiration, gave
no token of his presence. As these sounds became louder
and fuller, the conversation gradually dropped into a
whisper, for the old man was asleep. In the subdued tone
of the speakers, the noiseless gestures as they passed the
bottle from hand to hand, it was easy to mark that they
did not wish to disturb his slumbers. It is no part of our
task to detail how these individuals came to be thus asso-
ciated. The assumed object which at this moment drew
them together was the approaching trial at Galway of a
record brought against the Hickmans by Darcy. It was
Bicknell's last effort, and with it must end the long and
wearisome litigation between the houses.

The case for trial had nothing which could suggest any
fears as to the result. It was on a motion for a new trial
that the cause was to come on. The plea was misdirection
and want of time, so that, in itself, the matter was one of
secondary importance. The great question was, that a
general election now drew nigh, and it was necessary for
O'Eeilly to determine on the line of political conduct he
should adopt, and thus give O'Halloran the opportunity
of a declaration of his client's sentiments in his address
to the jury.

The conduct of the Hickmans since their accession to
the estate of Gwynne Abbey had given universal dissatis-
faction to the county gentry. Playing at first the game
of popularity, they assembled at their parties people of
every class and condition ; and while affronting the better-
bred by low association, dissatisfied the inferior order by
contact with those who made their inferiority more glaring.
The ancient hospitalities of the Abbey were remembered
in contrast with the ostentatious splendour of receptions
in which display and not kindness was intended. Vulgar
presumption and purse-pride had usurped the place once
occupied by easy good breeding and cordiality, and even
they who had often smarted under the cold reserve of
Lady Eleanor's manner, were now ready to confess that
she was born to the rank she assumed, and not an upstart,
affecting airs of superiority. The higher order of the


county gentry accordingly held aloof, and at last discon-
tinued their visits altogether ; of the second-rate, many
who were flattered at first by invitations, became dissatis-
fied at seeing the same favours extended to others below
them, and they, too, ceased to present themselves, until,
at last, the society consisted of a few sycophantic followers,
who swallowed the impertinence of the host with the aid
of his claret, and buried their own self-respect, if they
were troubled with such a quality, under the weight of
good dinners.

Hickman O'Reilly, fora length of time, affected not to
mark the change in the rank and condition of bis guests,
but as one by one the more respectable fell off, and the
few left were of a station that the fine servants of the
house regarded as little above their own, he indignantly
declined to admit any company in future, reduced the
establishment to the few merely necessary for the modest
requirements of the family, and gave it to be known that
the uncongenial tastes and habits of his neighbours made
him prefer isolation and solitude to such association.

For some time he had looked to England as the means
of establishing for himself and his son a social position.
The refusal of the minister to accord the baronetcy was a
death-blow to this hope, while he discovered that mere
wealth, unassisted by the sponsorship of some one in
repute, could not suffice to introduce Beecham into the
world of fashion. Although these things had preyed on
him severely, there was no urgent necessity to act in re-
spect of them till the time came, as it now had done, for
a general election.

The strict retirement of his life must now give way
before the requirements of an election candidate, and he
must consent to take the field once more as a public man,
or, by abandoning his seat in Parliament, accept a condi-
tion of what he knew to be complete obscurity. The old
doctor was indeed favourable to the latter course the
passion for hoarding had gone on increasing with age.
Money was, in his estimation, the only species of power
above the changes and caprice of the world. Bank-notes

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 28 of 35)