Charles James Lever.

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boldly proclaimed that they would not imitate it. Nay,
further, that they were only awaiting the sure verdict in
their favour, to commence a criminal action against the par-
ties for the very crime they dared to insinuate against them.

" I shall now call my witnesses, my lord ; and if the
Grand Cross of the Bath, which this day's paper tells
me is to be conferred upon the plaintiff, be not meant,



400 THE KNIGHT OF G WYNNE.

like the brand which foreign justice impresses on its felons,
as a mark of ignominy, I am at a loss to understand how
it has descended on this man. Call Nathaniel Leery."

The examination of the witnesses was in perfect keep-
ing with the infamous scurrility of the speech, and the
testimony elicited went to prove everything the advocate
desired. Though exposed by cross-examination, and
their perjury proved, O'Halloran kept a perpetual recapi-
tulation of their assertions before the jury, and so artfully,
that few, save the practised minds of a legal auditory,
could have distinguished in that confused web of truth
and falsehood.

The business proceeded with difficulty, for, added to
the uproar of the storm, was a continued tumult of voices
in the outer hall of the court, and where now several
sailors, saved from the wreck, had been brought for
shelter. By frequent loud cries from this quarter the
Court was interrupted, and more than once its proceed-
ings completely arrested inconveniences which the
judges submitted to with the most tolerant patience
when at length a loud murmur arose, which gradually
swelling louder and louder, all respect for the sacred pre-
cincts of the judgment-seat seemed lost in the wild
tumult. In a tone of sharp reproof the Chief Baron
called on the sheriff to allay the uproar, and, if necessary,
to clear the hall. The order was scarcely given, when
one deafening shout was raised from the street, and, soon
caught up, echoed by a thousand voices, while shrill cries of
" He has saved them ! he has saved them ! " rent the air.

" What means this, Mr. Sheriff?"

" It is my Lord Wallincourt, my lord, who has just
rescued from the wreck three men who persisted in being
lost together, rather than separate. Hitherto only one man
was taken at each trip of the boat, but this young noble-
man offered a thousand pounds to the crew who would
accompany him, and it appears they have succeeded."

" Really, my lords," said O'Halloran, who had heard
the honourable mention of a hated name, " I must aban-
don my client's cause. These interruptions, which I
conclude your influence is powerless to remove, have so
interfered with the line of defence I had laid down for
adoption, and have so confused the order of the proofs I



THE LAST STRUGGLE. 401

had prepared, that I should but injure, and not serve, my
respected client by continuing to represent his interests."

A bland assurance from the court that order should
be rigidly enforced, and a pressing remonstrance from
O'Reilly, overcame a resolve scarcely maturely taken, and
he consented to go on.

" We will now, my lords," said he, " call a very mate-
rial witness a respectable tenant on the property who
will prove that on a day in November, antecedent to
Gleeson's death, he had a conversation with the Knight of

Gvvynne Really, my lords, I cannot proceed ; this is

no longer a court of justice."

The remainder of his words were lost in an uproar like
that of the sea itself, and like that element, the great mass
swelled forward, and a rush of people from the outer hall
bore into the Court, till seats and barriers gave way be-
fore that overwhelming throng.

For some minutes the scene was one of almost personal
conflict. The mob, driven forward by those behind, were
obliged to endure a buffeting by the more recognized pos-
sessors of the place; nor was it till police and military
had lent their aid that the court was again restored to
quiet, while several of the rioters were led off in custody.

" Who are these men, and to what purpose are they
here?" said the Chief Baron, as Bicknell officiously
exerted himself to make way for some persons behind.

" I come to tender my evidence in this cause," said a
deep, solemn voice, as a man advanced to the witness-
table, displaying to the amazed assembly a bold, intrepid
countenance, on which streaks of blue and yellow colour
were fantastically mingled, like the war-paint of a savage.

" Who are yon, sir ? " rejoined O'Halloran, with his
habitual scowl.

" My name is Bagenal Daly. I believe their lordships
are not ignorant of my rank and station ; and this gen-
tleman at my side is also here to afford his testimony.
This, my lords, is Thomas Gleeson ! "

One cry of amazement rang through, the assembly,
through which a wild shriek pierced with a clear and ter-
rible distinctness ; and now the attention was suddenly
turned towards old Hickman, who had fallen forward
senseless on the table.

VOL. II. D D



402 THE KNIGHT OF GWTOKE.

" My client is very ill lie is dangerously ill. My lord, I
beg to suggest an adjournment of the cause," said O'Hallo-
ran ; while O'Reilly, with a face like death, continued to
whisper eagerly in his ear. " I appeal to the plaintiff
himself, if he be here, and is not devoid of the feelings at-
tributed to him, and I ask that the cause may be adjourned."

" It is not a case in which the defendant's illness can
be made use of to press such a demand," said one of the
judges, mildly ; " but if the opposite party consent "

" He is worse, my lord."

" I say, if the opposite party "

" He is dead ! " said O'Halloran, solemnly ; and letting go
the lifeless hand, it fell with a heavy bang upon the table.

" Take your verdict," said O'Halloran, with the look
of a demon; and, bursting his way through the crowd,
disappeared.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

CONCLUSION.

WHEN Forester entered the Knight's room in the inn,
where, in calm quietude, he sat awaiting the verdict, he
hesitated for a moment how he should break the joyful
tidings of Daly's arrival.

" Speak out," said Darcy. " If not exactly without
hope, I am well prepared for the worst."

" Can you say you are equally ready to hear the best ? "
asked Forester, eagerly.

" '\ he best is a very strong word, my young friend,"
said Darcy, gravely.

" And yet, I speak advisedly the best."

" If so, perhaps I am not so prepared. My heart has
dwelt so long on these troubles, recognizing them as I felt
they must be, that I would, perhaps, ask a little time to
think how I should hear tidings so remote from all expec-
tation. Of course, I do not speak of the mere verdict here."

" Nor I," interposed Forester, impatiently " I speak
of what restores you to your ancient house and rank, your
station and your fortune."



CONCLUSION. 403

" Can this bo true ?"

" Ay, Maurice, every word of it," broke in Daly, who,
having listened so far, could no longer restrain himself.
The two old men fell into each others' arms with all the cor-
dial affection with which they had embraced as school-
fellows sixty years before.

Great as was Darcy's amazement at seeing his oldest
friend thus suddenly restored, ifc was nothing in comparison
to what he felt as Daly narrated the event of the shipwreck,
and his rescue from the sinking vessel by Forester.

"And your companions, who were they ?" asked Darcy,
eagerly.

" You shall hear."

" I guess one of them already," interposed the Knight.
" The trusty Sandy. Is it not so ? "

" The other you will never hit upon," said Daly, nod-
ding an assent.

" I'm thinking over all our friends, and yet none seem,
likely."

" Come, Maurice, prepare yourself for surprise. What
think you, if he to whose fate I had linked myself, resolv-
ing that, live or die, we should not separate, if this man
was Gleeson honest Tom Gleeson?"

The words seemed stunning in their effect, for Darcy
leaned, back and passing his hands over his closed lids,
murmured, " I hope my poor faculties are not wandering
I trust this may be no delusion."

" He is yonder," said Daly, taking the Knight's hand
in his strong grasp ; " Sandy mounts guard over him.
Not that the poor devil thinks of or desires escape He
was too weary of a life of deception and sin when we
caught him, to wish to prolong it. Now, rouse yourself,
and listen to me."

It would, doubtless, be a heavy tax on our kind reader's
patience were we to relate, circumstantially, the conver-
sation that, now commencing, lasted during the entire
night and till late in the following morning. Enough if
we say that Daly, having, through Freney's instrumen-
tality, discovered that Gleeson had not committed suicide*
but only spread this rumour for concealment's sake, re-
solved to pursue him to America. Fearing that any sus-
picion of his object might escape, he did not even trust

D P 2



404 THE KNIGHT OP G WYNNE.

Bicknell with the secret; but, by suffering him to continue
law proceedings as before, totally blinded the Hickmans
as to the possibility of the event.

It would in itself be a tale of marvel to recount the
strange adventures which Daly encountered in his search
and pursuit of Gleeson, who had originally taken up his
residence in the States was recognized there, and fled
into Canada, where he wandered about from place to place,
conscience-stricken and miserable. He was wretchedly
poor, besides, for on the bills and securities he carried
away, many being on eminent houses in America, payment
was stopped, and being unable to risk proceedings, he was
reduced to beggary.

It now appeared, that at a very early period of life,
when a clerk in the office of old Hickman's agent, he had
committed a forgery. It was for a small sum, and only
done in anticipation of meeting the bill by his salary due
a few weeks later. So far the fraud was palliated by the
intention. By some mischance the document fell into the
possession of Dr. Hickman, whose name it falsely bore.
He immediately took steps to trace its origin, and having
succeeded, he sent for Gleeson. When the youth, pale and
terror-stricken by suspicion, made his appearance, he was
amazed that, instead of finding a prosecutor ready prepared
for his ruin, he discovered a benevolent patron, who, having
long watched the zeal and assiduity with which he dis-
charged his duties, desired to be of use to him in life.
Hickman told him that if he were disposed to make the
venture on his own account, he would use his influence to
procure him some small agencies, and even assist him
with funds, to make advances to those landlords who
might employ him. The interview lasted long. There
was much excellent advice and wise admonition on one
side, profuse expression of gratitude and lasting fidelity on
the other. " Very well, very well," said old Hickman, at
the close of a very devoted speech, in which Gleeson pro-
fessed the most attached and the most honourable motives
for he was not at all aware that his bill was known of
" I am not ignorant of mankind ; they are rarely, if ever,
very bad or very good ; they can be occasionally faithful
to their friends ; but there is one thing they are always
careful of themselves. See this " here he took from his



CONCLUSION. 405

pocket-book the forged paper, and held it before the almost
sinking youth " there is what can bring you to the
gallows any day ! Is this the first time ? "

" It is, so help me " cried he, falling on his knees.

"Never mind swearing. I believe you. And the last
also ? "

" And the last ! "

"I see it must be, by the date," rejoined Hickman.

" I can pay it, sir ; I have the money ready on Tues-
day -

"Never mind that," replied Hickman, folding it up,
mid replacing it in the pocket-book. " You shall pay me
in something better than money in gratitude. Come and
dine with me alone to-day, and we'll talk over the future."

It has never been our taste to present pictures of depra-
vity to our readers ; we would more willingly turn from
them, or, where that is impossible, make them as sketchy
as may be. Jt will be sufficient, then, if we say that
Gleeson's whole career was the plan and creation of
Hickman. The rigid and scrupulous honour, the spotless
decorum, the unshaken probity, were all devices to win
public confidence and esteem. That they were eminently
successful, the epithet of " honest Tom Gleeson," by
which he was universally known, is the guarantee. The
union of such qualities with consummate skill and the
most unwearied zeal, soon made him the most distin-
guished man in his walk, and made his services not only
an evidence of success, but of a rectitude in obtaining
success that men of character prized still more highly.

Possessed of the titles of immense estates, invested
with unbounded confidence by the owners, cognisant of
every legal flaw that could excite uneasiness, aware of
every hitch and strait of their circumstances, he was less
the servant than the master of those who employed him.

It was a period when habits of extravagance prevailed
to the widest extent. The proprietors of estates deemed
spending their incomes their only duty, and left its cares
to the agents. The only reproach, then, ever laid to
Gleeson's door was, that when a question of a sale or a,
loan was agitated, honest Tom's scruples were often a
most troublesome impediment to his less scrupulous em-
ployer. In fact, Gleeson stood before the public as a



406 THE KNIGHT OF GWYNNE.

kind of guardian of estated property ! the providence ot
dowagers, widows, and younger children !

Such a man, with his neck in a halter, at any moment
at the mercy of old Dr. Hickman, was an agent for ruin
almost inconceivable. Through his instrumentality the
old usurer laid out his immense stores of wealth at enor-
mous interest, obtained possession of vast estates at a
mere fraction of their worth, till at length, grown hardy
by long impunity, and daring by the recognition of the
world, bolder expedients were ventured on. Darcy's ruin
was long the cherished dream of Hickman ; and when,
after many a wily scheme and long negotiation, he saw
Gleeson engaged as his agent, he felt certain of victory.
His first scheme was to make Gleeson encourage young
Lionel in every project of extravagance, by putting his
name to bills, assuring him that his father permitted him
an almost unlimited expenditure. This course once en-
tered upon, and well aware that the young man kept no
record of such transactions, his name was forged to
several acceptances of large amount, and, subsequently, to
sales of property to meet them.

Meanwhile, great loans were raised by Darcy to pay oft
encumbrances, and never so employed. Till, at length,
the Knight decided upon the negotiation which was to
clear off Hickman's mortgage, the debt, of all others, he
hated most to think of. So quietly was this carried on,
that Hickman heard nothing of it ; for Gleeson, long
wearied by a life of treachery and perfidy, and never
knowing the day or the hour when disclosure might
come, had resolved on escaping to America with this
large sum of money, leaving his colleague in crime to
carry on business alone.

" The Doctor " was not, however, ts be thus duped.
Secret and silent as the arrangements for flight were, he
heard of them all ; and hastening out to Gleeson's house,
coolly told him that any attempt at escape would bring
him to the gallows. Gleeson attempted a denial. He
alleged that his intended going over to England was
merely on account of this sum, which Darcy was negotiat-
ing for, to pay off the mortgage.

A new light broke on Hickman. He saw that his
terrified confederate could not much longer be relied upon,



CONCLUSION. 407

and it was agreed between them that Gleeson should pay
the money to redeem the mortgage, and, having obtained
the release, show it to the Knight of Gwynne. This done,
he was to carry it back to Hickman, and, for the sum of
j10,000, replace it in his hands, thus enabling the doctor
to deny the payment and foreclose the mortgage, while
honest Tom, weary of perfidy, and seeking repose, should
follow his original plan, and escape to America.

The money was paid, as Freney surmised and Daly
believed ; but Gleeson, still dreading some act of treachery,
instead of returning the release, and claiming the price,
started a day earlier than he promised. The rest is known
to the reader. Whether the Hickraans credited the story
of the suicide or not, they were never quite free of the
terror of a disclosure ; and, in pressing the matrimonial
arrangement, hoped for ever to set at rest the disputed
possession.

It would probably not interest our readers were we to
dwell longer on Gleeson or his motives. That some
vague intention existed of one day restoring to Darcy the
release of his mortgage, is perhaps not unlikely. A latent
spark of honour, long buried beneath the ashes of crime,
often shines out brightly in the last hour of existence^
There might be, too, a cherished project of vengeance
against the man that tempted and destroyed him. Be it
as it may, he guarded the document as though it had been
his last hope; and, when tracked, pursued, and overtaken
near Fort Erie by a party of the Delawares, of whom the
Howling Wind, alias Bagenal Daly, was chief, it was found
stitched up in the breast of his waistcoat.

Our space does not permit us to dwell upon Bagenal
Daly's adventures, though we may assure our readers that
they were both wild and wonderful. One only regret
darkened the happiness of his exploit. It was that he
was compelled so soon to leave the pleasant society of the
Red Skins, and the intellectual companionship of " Blue
Fox" and "Hissing Lightning;" while Sandy, discover-
ing himself to be a widower, would gladly have contracted
new ties, to cement the alliance of the ancient house of
M'Grane with that of the Royal Family of Hickinbooki,
or the " Slimy Whip Snake," a fair princess of which had
bid high for his affections. Indeed, the worthy Sandy had



408 THE KNIGHT OF GWYNNE.

become romantic on the subject, and suggested that, if tho
lady -would condescend to adopt certain articles of attire,
he would have no objection to take her back to the Corvy.
These were sacrifices, however, that not even love was
called upon to make, and the project was abortive.

So far have we condensed Bagenal Daly's narrative,
which, orally delivered, lasted till the sun was high and
the morning fine and bright. He had only concluded,
when a servant in O'lieilly's livery brought a letter, which
he said was to be given to the Knight of Gwynne, but
required no answer. Its contents were the following :

" SIR, The melancholy catastrophe of yesterday even-
ing might excuse me in your eyes from any attention to
the claims of mere business. But the discovery of cer-
tain documents lately in the possession of my father,
demand at my hands the most prompt and complete
reparation. I now know, sir, that we were unjustly pos-
sessed of an estate and property that were yours. I also
know that severe wrongs have been inflicted upon you
through the instrumentality of my family. I have only to
make the best amende in my power, by immediately
restoring the one, and asking forgiveness for the other.
If you can and will accord me the pardon I seek, I shall,
as soon as the sad duties which devolve upon me here are
completed, leave this country for the Continent, never to
return. I have already given directions to my legal
adviser to confer with Mr. Bicknell, and no step will be
omitted to secure a safe and speedy restoration of your
house and estate to its rightful owner. In deep humilia-
tion, I remain,

"Your obedient servant,

" H. O'REILLY."

" Poor fellow ! " said Darcy, throwing down the letter
before Daly ; " he seems to have been no party to the
iraud, and yet all the penalty falls upon him."

"Have no pity for the upstart rascal, Maurice; I'll
wager a hundred thank Heaven, Mr. Gleeson has put me
in possession of a few that he was as deep as his father.
Give me this paper, and I'll ask honest Tom the question."

"Not so, Bagenal; I should be sorry to think worse of
any man than I must do. Let him have at least the



CONCLUSION. 401)

benefit of a doubt ; and as to Honest Tom, set him at
liberty ; we no longer want him ; the papers he has given
are quite sufficient more than wo are ever like to need."

Daly had no fancy for relinquishing his hold of the
game that cost him so much trouble to take, but the
Knight's words were usually a law to him, and with a
muttering remark of " I'll do it because I'll have my eye
him," he left the room to liberate his captive.

" There he goes," exclaimed Daly, as, re-entering the
room, he saw a chaise rapidly drive from the door.
" There he goes, Mam-ice, and I own to you I have an
easier conscience for having let loose Freney on the world,
than for liberating honest Tom Gleeson ; but who have
we here, with four smoking posters ? ladies, too ! "

A travelling carriage drew up at the door of the little
inn, and immediately three ladies descended. " That's
Maria," cried Daly, rushing from the room, and at once
returned with his sister, Lady Eleanor, and Miss Darcy.

Miss Daly had, three days before, rceeived a letter from
Bagenal, detailing his capture of Gleeson, and informing
her that he hoped to be back in Ireland almost as soon as
his letter. With these tidings she hastened to Lady
Eleanor, and concerted the journey which now brought
them all together.

Story-tellers have but scant privilege to linger where
all is happiness, unbroken and perfect. Like Mother
Gary's chickens, their province is rather with menacing
storm than the signs of fair weather. We have, then,
but space to say that a more delighted party never met
than those who now assembled in that little inn ; but one
face showed any signs of passing sorrow that was poor
Forester's. The general joy, to which he had so much
contributed by his exertions, rather threw a gloomier
shade over his own unhappiness, and in secret he re-
solved to say " Good-bye " that same evening.

Amid a thousand plans for the future, all tinged with
their own bright colour, they sat round the fire at evening,
when Miss Daly, whose affection for the youth was strength,
ened by what she had seen during his illness, remarked
that he alone seemed exempt from the general happiness.

" To whom we owe so much," said Lady Eleanor, kindly,
" My husband is indebted to him for his life."



410 THE KNIGHT OP GWYNNE.

" I can say as much, too," said Daly ; " not to speak
of Gleeson's gratitude."

"Nay !" exclaimed the young man, blushing, " I did
not know the service I was rendering. I little guessed
how grateful I should myself have reason to be, for being
its instrument."

" All this is very well," said Miss Daly, abruptly, "but
it is not honest no, it is not honest. There are other
feelings concerned here than such amiable generalities as
Joy, Pity, and Gratitude. Don't frown, Helen, that is
better, love a smile becomes you to perfection."

" I must stop you," said Forester, blushing deeply. "It
will be enough if I say, that any observation you can make
must give me the deepest pain, not for myself "

" But for Helen ? I don't believe it. You may be a
very sharp politician, and a very brave soldier, but you
know very little about young ladies. Yes, there's no
denying it, their game is all deceit."

"Oh! Colonel Darcy Lady Eleanor, will you not
speak a word ?" exclaimed Forester, pale and agitated.

"A hundred, my dear boy," cried the Knight, "if they
would serve you ; but Helen's one is worth them all."

" Miss Darcy, dare I hope ? Helen, dearest," added
he, in a whisper, as, taking her hand, he led her towards
a window.

" My Lord, the carriage is ready," said his servant
throwing wide the door.

"You may order the horses back again," said Daly,
dryly ; " my Lord is not going this evening."



HAS our reader ever made a long voyage ? Has he ever
experienced in himself the strange but most complete
alteration in all his sentiments and feelings when far
away from land on the wild, bleak waters and that
same "himself," when in sight of shore, with seaweed
around the prow, and land-breezes on his cheek. But a
few hours back, and that ship was his world ; he knew her
from "bow to taffrail;" he greeted the cook's galley as
though it were the " restaurant " his heart delighted in ;
he even felt a kind of friendship for the pistons as they
jerked up and down into a bowing acquaintance. But,
now, how changed are his sentiments ; how fixedly are,



CONCLUSION. 411

his eyes turned to the pier of the harbour ! and how im-
patient is he at those tacking zig-zag approaches by which



Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 34 of 35)