Charles James Lever.

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O'Halloran moved on with young O'Reilly towards the

" Only think, sir," said Father John, dropping behind
with Heffernan, from whose apparent intimacy with
O'Halloran he augured a similarity of politics, "it is the
first time the Counsellor was ever in our town, the people
have been waiting since two o'clock to hear him on
the ' veto ' sorra one of them knows what the same
' veto ' is but it will be a cruel disappointment to see
him. leave the place without so much as saying a word."

" Do you think a short address from me would do


instead?" said HeiFernan, slily ; "I know pretty well
what's doing up in Dublin. "

" Nothing could be better, sir," said Father John, in
ecstasy; "if the Counsellor would just introduce you in
a few words, and say that, from great fatigue, or a sore-
throat, or anything that way, he deputed his friend
Mr. "

" Heffernan's my name."

" His friend Mr. Hefiernan to state his views about the
'veto' mind, it must be the 'veto ' you can touch on
the reform in Parliament, the oppression of the penal
laws, but the ' veto ' will bring a cheer that will beat
them all."

" You had better hint the thing to the Counsellor," said
Heffernan ; " I am ready whenever you want me."

As the priest stepped forward to make the communica-
tion to O'Halloran, that gentleman, leaning on Beecham
O'Reilly's arm, had just reached the steps of the court-
house, where now a considerable police force was sta-
tioned, a measure possibly suggested by O'Reilly him-

The crowd, on catching sight of " the Counsellor,"
cheered vociferously, and, although they were not with-
out fears that he intended to depart without speaking,
many [averred that he would address them from the
carriage. Before Father John could make known his
request, a young man, dressed in a riding costume, burst
through the line of police, and, springing up the steps,
seized O'Halloran by the collar.

" I gave you a choice, sir," said he, " and you made
it ; " and at the same instant, with a heavy horsewhip,
struck him several times across the shoulders, and even
the face. So sudden was the movement, and so violent
the assault, that, although a man of great personal
strength, O'Halloran had received several blows almost
before he could defend himself, and when he had rallied,
his adversaiy, though much lighter and less muscular,
showed in skill, at least, he was. his superior. The
struggle, however, was not to end here, for the mob,
now seeing their favourite champion attacked, with a
savage howl of vengeance dashed forward, and the


police, well aware that the youth would be torn limb
from limb, formed a line in front of him with fixed
bayonets. For a few moments the result was doubtful ;
nor was it until more than one retired into the crowd
bleeding and wounded, that the mob desisted, or limited
their rage to yells of vengeance.

Meanwhile "the Counsellor" was pulled back within
the court-house by his companions, and the young man
secured by two policemen ; a circumstance which went far
to nllay the angry tempest of the people without.

As, pale and powerless from passion, his livid cheek
marked with a deep blue welt, O'Halloran sat in one of
the waiting-rooms of the court, O'Reilly and his son
endeavoured, as well as they could, to calm down his rage :
expressing, from time to time, their abhorrence of the
indignity offered, and the certain penalty that awaited the
offender. O'Halloran never spoke ; he tried twice to utter
something, but the words died away without sound, and
he could only point to his cheek with a trembling finger,
while his eyes glared like the red orbs of a tiger.

As they stood thus, Heffernan slipped noiselessly behind
O'Reilly, and said in his ear,

" Get him off to the abbey ; your son will take care of
him. I have something for yourself to hear."

O'Reilly nodded significantly, and then, turning, said
a few words in a low, persuasive tone to O'Halloran, con-
cluding thus : " Yes, by all means, leave the whole affair
in my hands. I'll have no difficulty in making a bench.
The town is full of my brother magistrates."

" On every account I would recommend this course, sir,"
said Heffernan, with one of those peculiarly meaning looks
by which he so well knew how to assume a further insight
into any circumstance than his neighbours possessed.

" I will address the people," cried O'Halloran, breaking
his long silence with a deep and passionate utterance of
the words ; " they shall see in me the strong evidence of
the insolent oppression of that faction that rules this
country; I'll make the land ring with the tyranny that
would stifle the voice of justice, and make the profession
of the bar a forlorn hope to every man of independent


" The people have dispersed already," said Bcecham, as
he came back from the door of the court ; " the square is
quite empty."

" Yes, I did that," whispered Heffernan in O'Reilly's
ear ; " I made the servant put on the Counsellor's greatcoat,
and drive rapidly off towards the abbey. The carriage is
now, however, at the back entrance to the court-house,
so, by all means, persuade him to return."

"When do you propose bringing the fellow up for
examination, Mr. O'Reilly?" said O'Halloran, as he arose
from his seat.

" To-morrow morning. I have given orders to summon
a full bench of magistrates, and the affair shall be sifted to
the bottom."

" You may depend upon that, sir," said the Counsellor,
sternly. "Now I'll go back with you, Mr. Beecham O'Reilly."
So saying, he moved towards a private door of the building,
where the phaeton was in waiting, and, before any atten-
tion was drawn to the spot, he was seated in the carriage,
and the horses stepping out at a fast pace towards home.

"It's not Bagenal Daly?" said O'Reilly, the very mo-
ment he saw the carriage drive off.

" No, no ! " said Heffernan, smiling.

" Nor the young Darcy the captain ?"

" Nor him either. It's a young fellow we have been
seeking for in vain the last month. His name is

" Not Lord Castlereagh's Forester ?"

"The very man. You may have met him here as
Darcy's guest ? "

O'Reilly nodded.

" What makes the affair worse is, that the relationship
with Castlereagh will be taken up as a party matter by
O'Halloran's friends in the press ; they will see a Castle
plot, where, in reality, there is nothing to blame save the
rash folly of a hot-headed boy."

"What is to be done ?" said O'Reilly, putting his hand
to his forehead, in his embarrassment to think of some
escape from the difficulty.

" I see but one safe issue always enough to any ques-
tion, if men have resolution to adopt it."


'"Let me hear what you counsel," said O'Reilly, as he
cast a searching glance at his astute companion.

" Get him off as fast as you can."

" O'Halloran ! You mistake him, Mr. Heffernan ; he'll
prosecute the business to the end."

"I'm speaking of Forester," said Heffernan, dryly; "it
is his absence is the important matter at this moment."

" 1 confess I am myself unable to appreciate your view
of the case," said O'Reilly, with a cunning smile; "the
policy is a new one to me which teaches that a magistrate
should favour the escape of a prisoner who has just in-
sulted one of his own friends."

" I may be able to explain my meaning to your satis-
faction," said Heffernan, as, taking O'Reilly's arm, he
spoke for some time in a low, but earnest manner. "Yes,"
said he, aloud, "your son Beecham was the object of this
young man's vengeance ; chance alone turned his anger
on 'the Counsellor.' His sole purpose in ' the West' was
to provoke your son to a duel, and I know well what the
result of your proceedings to-morrow would effect. Fores-
ter would not accept of his liberty on bail, nor would
he enter into a security on his part to keep the peace.
You will be forced, actually forced, to commit a young
man of family and high position to a gaol ; and what will
the world say ? That in seeking satisfaction for a very
gross outrage on the character of his friend, a young
Englishman of high family was sent to prison! In
Ireland, the tale will tell badly ; we always have more
sympathy than censure for such offenders. In England,
how many will know of his friends and connections, who
never heard of your respectable bench of magistrates
will it be very wonderful if they side with their countryman
against the stranger ? "

" How km I to face O'Halloran if I follow this coun-
sel ? "said O'Reilly, with a thoughtful but embarrassed air.

" Then, as to Lord Castlereagh," continued Heffernan,
not heeding the question, " he will take your interference
as a personal and particular favour. There never was a
more favourable opportunity for you to disconnect your-
self with the whole affair. The hired advocate may
calumniate as he will, but he can show no collusion or


connivance on your part. I may tell you, in confidence,
that a more indecent and gross attack was never uttered
than this same speech. I heard it, and from the begin-
ning to the end it was a tissue of vulgarity and falsehood.
Oh ! I know what you would say: I complimented the
speaker on his success, and all that : so I did, perfectly
true, and he understood me, too there is no greater
impertinence, perhaps, than in telling a man that you
mistook his bad cider for champagne ! But enough of
him. You may have all the benefit, if there be such, of
the treason, and yet never rub shoulders with the traitor.
You see I am eager on this point, and I confess I am
very much so. Your son Beecham could not have a
worse enemy in the world of Club and Fashion than this
same Forester ; he knows and is known to everybody."

" But I cannot perceive how the thing is to be done,"
broke in O'Reilly, pettishly ; " you seem to forget that
O'Hulloran is not the man to be put off with any lame,
disjointed story."

"Easily enough," said Heffernan, coolly ; " there is no
difficulty whatever. You can blunder in the warrant of
his committal ; you can designate him by a wrong
Christian name ; call him Robert, not Richard ; he may
be admitted to bail, and the sum a low one. The rest
follows naturally; or, better than all, let some other magis-
trate you surely know more than one to aid in such
a pinch take the case upon himself, and make all the
necessary errors ; that's the best plan."

"Conolly, perhaps," said O'Reilly, musingly; "he is a
great friend of Darcy's, and would risk something to assist
this young fellow."

" Well thought of," cried Heffernan, slapping him on
the shoulder ; "just give me a line of introduction to
Mr. Conolly on one of your visiting cards, and leave the
rest to me."

" If I yield to you in this business, Mr. Heflfernan,"
said O'Reilly, as he sat down to write, " I assure you it
is far more from my implicit confidence in your skill to
conduct it safely to the end, than from any power of per-
suasion in your arguments. O'Halloran is a formidable


"You never were more mistaken in your life," said
Heffernan, laughing ; " such men are only noxious by the
terror they inspire ; they are the rattlesnakes of the
world of mankind, always giving notice of their approach,
and never dangerous to the prudent. He alone is to be
dreaded who, tiger-like, utters no cry till his victim is in
his fangs."

There was a savage malignity in the way these words
were uttered that made O'Reilly almost shudder. Hef-
fernan saw the emotion he had unguardely evoked, and
laughing, said,

" Well, am I to hold over the remainder of my visit to
the abbey as a debt unpaid ? for I really have no fancy to
let you off so cheaply."

" But you are coming back with me are you not ? "

" Impossible ! I must take charge of this foolish boy,
and bring him up to Dublin ; I only trust I have a vested
right to come back and see you at a future day."

O'Reilly responded to the proposition with courteous
warmth, and with mutual pledges, perhaps of not dissi-
milar sincerity, they parted, the one to his own home, the
other to negotiate in a different quarter, and in a very
different spirit of diplomacy.




MR. HEFFERNAN possessed many worldly gifts and excel-
lences, but upon none did he so much pride himself, in the
secret recesses of his heart he was too cunning to in-
dulge in more public vauntings as in the power he
wielded over the passions of men much younger than
himself. Thoroughly versed in their habits of life, tastes,
and predilections, he knew how much always to concede
to the warm and generous temperament of their age, and
to maintain his influence over them, less by the ascend-
ancy of ability, than by a more intimate acquaintance
with all the follies and extravagances of fashionable

Whether he had, or had not, been a principal actor in
the scenes he related with so much humour, it was diffi-
cult to say : for he would gloss over his own personal
adventures so artfully, that it was not easy to discover
whether the motives were cunning or delicacy. He
seemed, at least, to have done everything that wildness
and eccentricity had ever devised ; to have known inti-
mately every man renowned for such exploits ; and to
have gone through a career of extravagance and dissipa-
tion quite sufficient to make him an unimpeachable au-
thority in every similar case. The reserve which young
men feel with regard to those older than themselves was
never experienced in Con Hefiernan's company ; they
would venture to tell him anything, well aware that,
however absurd the story or embarrassing the scrape,
Heffernan was certain to cap it by another, twice as ex-
travagant in every respect.

Although Forester was by no means free from the faults


of his age and class, the better principles of his nature
had received no severe or lasting injury, and his estima-
tion for Heffernan proceeded from a very different view
of his character from that which we have just alluded to.
He knew him to be the tried and trusted agent of his
cousin, Lord Castlereagh, one for whose abilities he enter-
tained the greatest respect ; he saw him consulted and
advised with on every question of difficulty, his opinions
asked, his suggestions followed ; and if, occasionally, the
policy was somewhat tortuous, he was taught to believe
that the course of politics, like that " of true love, never
did run smooth." In this way, then, did he learn to look
up to Heffernan, who was too shrewd a judge of motives
to risk a greater ascendancy by any hazardous appeal to
the weaker points of his character.

Fortune could not have presented a more welcome
visitor to Forester's eyes than Heffernan, as he entered
the room of the inn where the youth had been conducted
by the sergeant of police ; and where he sat, bewildered
by the difficulties in which his own rashness had involved
him. The first moments of meeting were occupied by a
perfect shower of questions, as to how Heffernan came to
be in that quarter of the world ? when he had arrived ?
and with whom he was staying? All questions which
Heffernan answered by the laughing subterfuge of saying,
" Your good genius, I suppose, sent me to get you out of
your sci'ape, and fortunately I am able to do so. But what
in the name of everything ridiculous could have induced
you to insult this man, O'Halloran ? You ought to have
known that men like him cannot fight ; they would be
made riddles of if they once consented to back by per-
sonal daring the insolence of their tongues. They set out
by establishing for themselves a kind of outlawry from
honour, they acknowledge no debts within the juris-
diction of that court, otherwise they would soon be bank-

"They should be treated like all others without the
pale of law, then," said Forester, indignantly.

" Or, like Sackville," added Heffernan, laughing, " when
they put their swords ' on the peace establishment,' they
should put their tongues on the 'civil list.' Well, well,


there are new discoveries made every day ; some men
succeed better in life by the practice of cowardice than
others ever did, or ever will do, by the exercise of valour."

" What can I do here ? Is there any thing serious in
the difficulty?" said Forester, hurriedly ; for he was in
no humour to enjoy the abstract speculations in which
Eeffernan indulged.

" It might have been a very troublesome business,"
replied Heffernan, quietly ; " the judge might have
issued a bench warrant against you, if he did not want
your cousin to make him chief baron ; and Justice
Conolly might have been much more technically accu-
rate, if he was not desirous of seeing his son in an in-
fantry regiment. It's all arranged now, however ; there
is only one point for your compliance, you must get out
of Ireland as fast as may be. O'Halloran will apply for
a rule in the King's Bench, but the proceedings will not
extend to England."

" I am indifferent where I go to," said Forester, turning
away ; " and provided this foolish affair does not get
abroad, I am well content."

" Oh ! as to that, you must expect your share of
notoriety. O'Halloran will take care to display his
martyrdom for the people ! It will bring him briefs
now ; Heaven knows what greater rewards the future
may have in store from it ! "

" You heard the provocation," said Forester, with an
unsuccessful attempt to speak calmly " the gross and
most unpardonable provocation ?"

" I was present," replied Heffernan, quietly.

" Well, what say you ? Was there ever uttered an
attack more false and foul ? Was there ever conceived a
more fiendish and malignant slander ? "

" I never heard anything worse."

" Not anything worse ! No, nor ever one-half so

" Well, if you like it, I will agree with you ; not one-
half so bad. It was untrue in all its details, unmanly in
spirit. But, let me add, that such philippics have no
lasting effect, they are like unskilful mines, that, in their
explosion, only damage the contrivers. O'Reilly, who


was the real deviser of this same attack, whose heart sug-
gested, whose head invented, and whose coffers paid for
it, will reap all the obloquy he hoped to heap upon an-
other. Take myself, for instance, an old time-worn man
of the world, who has lived long enough never to be
sudden in my friendships or my resentments, who thinks
that liking and disliking are slow pi'ocesses ; well, even
I was shocked, outraged at this affair; and, although
having no more intimacy with Darcy than the ordinary
intercourse of social life, confess I could not avoid acting
promptly and decisively on the subject. It was a question,
perhaps, more of feeling than actual judgment a case,
in which the first impulse may generally be deemed the
right one." Here Heffernan paused, and drew himself up
with an air that seemed to say, " If I am confessing
to a weakness in my character, it is, at least, one that
leans to virtue's side."

Forester awaited with impatience for the explanation,
and, not perceiving it to come, said, "Well, what did you
do in the affair ?"

"My part was a very simple one," said Heffernan ; " I
was Mr. O'Reilly's guest, one of a large party, asked to
meet the judges and the Attorney- General. I came in,
with many others, to hear O'Halloran ; but if I did, I
took the liberty of not returning again. I told Mr.
O'Reilly frankly that, in point of fact, the thing was
false, and, as policy, it was a mistake. Party contests are
all very well, they are necessary, because without them
there is no banner to fight under; and the man of mock
liberality to either side would take precedence of those
moi'e honest but less cautious than himself; but these
things are great evils when they enlist libellous attacks
on character in their train. If the courtesies of life are
left at the door of our popular assemblies, they ought at
least to be resumed when passing out again into the

" And so you actually refused to go back to his house?"
said Forester, who felt far more interested in this simple
fact than in all the abstract speculation that accompanied it.

" I did so : I even begged of him to send my servant
and my carriage after me ; and, had it not been for your


business, before this time I had been some miles on my
way towards Dublin."

Forester never spoke, but he grasped Heffernan's
hand, and shook it with earnest cordiality.

" Yes, yes," said Heffernan, as he returned the pressure;
" men can be strong partisans, anxious and eager for their
own side, but there is something higher and nobler than
party." He arose as he spoke, and walked towards the
window, and then, suddenly turning round, and with an
apparent desire to change the theme, asked, " But how
came you here ? What good or evil fortune prompted
you to be present at this scene ? "

"I fear you must allow me to keep that a secret," said
Forester, in some confusion.

" Scarcely fair, that, my young friend," said Heffernan,
laughing, " after hearing my confession in full."

Forester seemed to feel the force of the observation,
but, uncertain how to act, he maintained a silence for
several minutes.

" Tf the affair were altogether my own, I should not
hesitate," said he at length, " but it is not so. However,
we are in confidence here, and so I will tell you. I came
to this part of the country at the earnest desire of Lionel
Darcy. I don't know whether you are aware of his
sudden departure for India. He had asked for leave of
absence to give evidence on this trial ; the application
was made a few days after a memorial he sent in for a
change of regiment. The demand for leave was unheeded,
but he received a peremptory order to repair to Ports-
mouth, and tnke charge of a detachment under sailing-
orders for India ; they consisted of men belonging to the
llth Light Dragoons, of which he was gazetted to a
troop. I was with him at Chatham when the letter
reached him, and he explained the entire difficulty to me,
showing that he had no alternative, save neglecting the
interest of his family, on the one hand, or refusing that
offer of active service he had so urgently solicited on the
other. We talked the thing over one entire night through,
and at last, right or wrong, persuaded ourselves that
any evidence he could give would be of comparatively
little value ; and that the refusal to join would be deemed

VOL. n. G


a stain upon lam as an officer, and, probably, bo the cause
of greater grief to the Knight himself than his absence
at the trial. Poor fellow! he felt far. more deeply for
quitting England without saying ' Good-by' to his family,
than for all the rest."

"And so he actually sailed in the transport?" said

" Yes, and without time for more than a few lines to
his father and a parting request to me to come over to
Ireland and be present at the trial. Whether he antici-
pated any attack of this kind or not, I cannot say, but
he expressed the desire so strongly I half suspect as

" Very cleverly done, faith !" muttered Heffernan, who
seemed far more occupied with his own reflections than at-
tending to Forester's words ; " a deep and subtle stroke,
Master O'Reilly, ably planned, and as ably executed."

" I am rejoiced that Lionel escaped this scene, at all
events," said Forester.

" I must say, it was neatly done," continued Heffernan,
still following out his own train of thought ; " ' I^on con-
tigit cuique,' as the Roman says ; it is not every man can
take in Con Heffernan I did not expect Hickman
O'Reilly would try it." He leaned his head on his hand
for some minutes, then said aloud, " The best thing for
you will be to join your regiment."

" I have left the army," said Forester with a flush, half
of shame, half of anger.

" I think you were right," replied Heffernan, calmly,
while he avoided noticing the confusion in the young
man's manner. " Soldiering is no career for any man of
abilities like yours ; the lounging life of a barrack-yard,
the mock duties of parade, the tiresome dissipations of
the mess, suit small capacities and minds of mere^routine.
But you have better stuff in you, and, with your con-
nexions and family interest, there are higher prizes to strive
for in the wheel of fortune."

"You mistake me," said Forester, hastily; "it was
with no disparaging opinion of the service I left it. My
reasons had nothing in common with such an estimate of

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 7 of 35)