Charles James Lever.

Roland Cashel (Volume 2) online

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courage and shakes the purpose. I cannot endure it any longer."

" Eemain with me, then, for a day — for two at furthest — and we
will go together to Naples."

" Do not ask me, Eoland. Some accident — some one of those
chances which bcfal each hour of life — might delay us ; arid then, I
might never see her more. She is to leave Naples by the end of the
month, but to go whither, or how, she will not tell. ■•'Promise me to
follow. Let us meet there ; and then, if the world has not a faster
bold upon you than I deem it has, we'll seek our fortune together iu
new lands. What say you ? is it a bargain r"

" Agreed," said Eoland. " I'll leave this within a week, without


it be my fate to quit it never. Let us rendezvous at Naples, then ;
and fortune shall decide what after."

" How hundreds of things press upon my mind, all of which, when
I am gone, wiE be remembered, but which now are confusedly
mingled up together ! "What warnings I meant to have given you !
what cautions ! and now I can think of nothing."

" I have room for but one thought," said Cashel, sternly : " it is a
debt which every hour unpaid increases by a tenfold interest."

" It need not weigh long upon your conscience. Linton wears the
dress of a grandee of Spain to-night ; but he'lT conceal it from time
to time beneath a plain brown domino with yellow cape. Do not
mix with jour company on arriving, but wait till about twelve o'clock
in your room, and you'll hear him as he enters his own : then, with-
out risk of disturbance, you can see him ; or, if you like it better,
send another to him. Should he be the man you suppose, the whole
can be easUy arranged by the light of morning."

" And so shall it be," said Cashel, in a deep low voice.

" If this life of luxury has not unsteadied your finger, I'd not take
his place for half your fortune."

A short motion of the head . from Cashel seemed to concur with
this speech.

" How I wish you were to be with me, Enrique !" said he, after a
silence of some minutes.

" So should I, Eoland ; but you will not need me : were there two
to bring to reckoning, I'd stay, cost what it might. And here we say
farewell." They had walked together, during this coUoquy, to the
high road, which on one side leads towards Tubbermore, and on the
other to Limerick.

Cashel held his comrade's hand "fast clasped in his own, without
speaking. The sense of isolation had never struck him so forcibly as
now that, having met an old and attached friend, he was about to part
with him so suddenly. It appeared to darken his solitude into some-
thing more lonely still.

"I'd have thought that all this wealth had made you happier," said
Enrique, as he gazed at the sorrow-struck features of his friend.

" Neither happier nor better," said Eoland, mournfully.

"There! see yonder," cried Enrique, "where you see the lamps
flashing ; those are the carriages of your gay company. Eemember
that you are the host to-night ; and so, good-by."

" Good-by, my old comrade."

" One word more," said Enrique. " Be not weak-hearted — trust
none of them^ — they are false, every one : some from envy ; some from
treachery; some from that fickleness that they fancy to be knowledge
of life; but all are alike. And so, till we meet again at Naples."

" At Naples," echoed Cashel ; and with head bent down, pursued
his way homeward.



Warmth may suit the gen'rous fool ;
The deeper knave must aye be cool.


Eapidlt as carriage after carriage rolls up the broad approach to
Tubbermore, the lamps flashing and glittering through the dark wood,
we must beg of our reader to turn back a few hours in our history,
and follow the steps of jMr. Linton, as, leaving the cottage, he turned
towards the " Great House."

Probably, to a mind constituted like his, there could be no more
poignant sense of sorrow and regret than that experienced in conse-
quence of a sudden and irrepressible burst of passion. It was a
great fault — the greatest he could commit. In justice to him, we will
own it was of the very rarest in occurrence. His outbreaks of anger,
like his moments of calm, were all studied beforehand ; and nothing
short of a catastrophe, unexpected and overwhelming, could have
surprised him into the fatal excess of which his interview with Corri-
gan was an instance.

If repentance could have compensated for his sin, assuredly the
o^ence might have been eflaced from the tablet of his misdeeds.
Never was sorrow more true, heartfelt, and cutting. He called none
of his accustomed casuistry to aid him in softening down his fault ;
he saw it in all the breadth of its enormity, as a foul blot upon that
system of deceit in which years of practice had made him so perfect.
He felt compromised by himself ; and possibly, to a cunning man,
this is the bitterest of all self-reproaches.

Very little consideration was needed to show that, so far as Cor-
rigan went, reconciliation was impossible. He knew the old man too
well to have a doubt upon that subject. What, then, was to be done ?
In which was the most profitable channel to turn the stream of coming
events ? "Were Cashel a man of different mould, there would be no
price too high to pay for that document which stood between him and
his title to the estate. It was all the difference between rank and
obscurity — between wealth and want — between the condition of an
estated gentleman and the assumption of a mere pretender. Wide
as the aitematives lay, Linton knew they would not affect Cashel's
mind. He foresaw clearly that, in a burst of his " most virtuous
probity," he would declare Corrigan the rightful owner of the estate,
and walk forth into the world as poor as when he began it. With
Cashel, therefore, all treaty would be impossible. The next consi-


deration was, what terms might be made with Corrigan through
Tiernay. The rough frankness of the old Doctor had always been
reckoned by Linton as a common-place trick of certain coarse minds,
to simulate honesty and straightforwardness. He believed that man-
kind consisted of but two categories — the knave and the fool : he who
was not one, must necessarily be the other. Now, an acute study of
Tiernay persuaded him that he was a shrewd, sound-headed man,
whose very profession had trained him into habits of investigation ;
and thought there could be little doubt, therefore, into whicb class
he fell. There was, moreover, this advantage in treating witb him,
tbat neither personal feeling nor pride of station would interfere with
the negotiation ; he would entertain the question in the simple light
of a bargain — so much for so much. The unlucky release of all
claim upon their property was, of course, to be thought of — as dete-
riorating, if not altogether invalidating, the title ; but of this it
might be possible, perhaps, to obtain possession. Cashel's papers
must be ransacked throughout ; it was very unlikely that he had taken
an unusual care of it, so that Linton was far from supposing that this
would present a serious difiS.culty. But why had he not thought of
this before ? Why had he suifered his disappointment "to blind him
to what was so palpable ? " So much for thinking the game won ere
it is finished," exclaimed he ; " but who would have thought Linton
should make this blunder ?"

To treat with Tiernay, then, realised every advantage he could thtok
of. It oflered the prospect of better terms, an easier negotiation ;
and it presented one feature of inestimable merit in his eyes — it
afibrded the means of gratifying his hatred against Cashel, without
the vengeance costing him anything. This thought, for a while, left
him incapable of entertaining every other. Cashel reduced to poverty
— humiliated to the position of an adventurer who had obtained a
property under false pretences — was a picture he could never weary of
contemplating. What a glorious consummation of revenge, could he
have involved one other in the ruin ! — if Laura had been the com-
panion of his fall! But that scheme had failed: a friendship, a
perilous one, 'tis true — had sprung up where Linton had sowed the
seeds of a very difierent passion ; and nothing remained but to involve
them both in the disgrace and ruin which a separation and its conse-
quences could inflict. "Even this," thought he, "will now be no
trifling penalty — the ' millionnaire' Koland Cashel would have con-
ferred an eclat on the fall, that would become ludicrous when asso-
ciated with the name of a mere adventurer."

If thoughts of these vengeances afibrded the most intense pleasure
to his vindictive mind, there came, ever and anon, deep regrets at the
loss of that greater game for which he had planned and plotted so
anxiously. That noble fortune which he had almost held within his


grasp — that high station from which he -would have known how to
derive all its advantages — the political position he had so long ambi-
tioned — were now all to flit from before his eyes like the forms of a
dream, unreal and impossible.

So intently had he pursued these various reasonings, that he utterly
forgot everything of his late interview with Tom Keane ; and when
the remembrance did flash upon him, the effect was almost stunning.
The crime would now be useless, so far as regarded Linton's own ad-
vantage. Mary Leicester could never be his wife : why, then, in-
volve himself, itowever remotely, in a deed as profitless as it was
perilous ? No time should be lost about this. He must see Keane
immediately, and dissuade him from the attempt. It would be easy
to assure him that the whole was a misconception — a mistake of mean-
ing. It was not necessary to convince — it was enough to avert the
act ; but this must be done at once.

So reflecting, Linton took his way to the gate-lodge, which lay a
considerable distance off". The space afforded much time for thought,
and he was one whose thoughts travelled fast. His plans were all
matured and easy of accomplishment. After seeing Keane, he would
address a few lines to Tieruay, requesting an interview on the follow-
ing morning. That night, he resolved, should be his last at Tubber-
more ; the masquerade had, as may be conjectured, few charms for
one whose mind was charged ^\-ith heaver cares, but still it would give
him an occasion to whisper about his scandal on Lady Kilgoff", and,
later on, give him the opportunity of searching Cashel's papers for
that document he wished to obtain.

On reaching the gate-lodge, under pretence of lighting his cigar, he
entered the house, where, in all the squalid misery of their untract-
able habits, Keane's wife sat, surro\inded by her ragged children.

" Tom is at work, I suppose ?" said he, carelessly.

" No, yer Honer ; he went out early this morning to look after a
little place for us, as the master is goin' to turn us out."

" I'm sorry for that," said he, compassionately ; " land is dear, and
hard to be got now-a-days. Why don't he go to America ?"

" Indeed an' I don't know. Sir. They say it's the asy place to gain
a livin' ; fine pay, and little to do for it."

Linton smiled at an encomium for whose accuracy he would not
have vouched; and then tried to ascertain, in the same careless
fashion, in what direction Keane had gone ; but the woman could not
tell. She believed it was by the high road, but could not be certain,
since he had left the house shortly after daybreak.

Linton sauntered out in deep thought. It was evident enough to
him what the object of that journey was : it needed no clue to track
his path. It was strange ; but now, when the deed was not to secure
any future benefits to himself, it appeared before his eyes in all the


glaring colours of its criminality. It was a cold-blooded and useless
crime, and he actually shuddered as he thought upon it.

Although he well knew that it would not be possible to connect him
in any way with the act, his conscience made him restless and uneasy,
and he would have given much that he had never mooted it. It was
too late, however, now, to think of these things ; were he to mount
his horse and follow the fellow Keane, the chances of coming up with
him were few. The man would inevitably have concealed himself till
the very moment came ; and were Linton to be present at such a
time, the fact of his presence might, in such a remote and unfre-
quented spot, give rise to the very worst suspicions. "Be it so,"
said he at length, and with the tone of one who left the issue to
fortune. He foimd himself now upon the high road, and remember-
ing that he was not far from Tiernay's house, resolved on making a
visit Lu the Doctor in person. It might so happen hereafter that a
question would arise where he had passed the morning. There was
no saying what turn events might take, and it would be as well were
he able to show that he had spent some time in Tiernay's company ;
and as, in such a critical moment, it would have been far from wise to
discuss any matter connected with Cashel's property, it were safest to
make the object of the visit appear an effort to obtain Doctor Tier-
nay's kind mediation in the difference with Mr. Corrigan.

To pass half an hour in his company, under any pretext, would be
to put on record his occupation on that morning ; and, with this re-
solve, he knocked at the door.

It was with a start of surprise Tiernay received Linton as he entered
his study. The Doctor arose from the chair where he had been sitting,
and stood in the attitude of one who desires by his very air and de-
portment to express that he does not mean that the other should be

"This is an honour. Sir," said he, at last, " so undeserved on my
part, that I am at a loss how to acknowledge it."

" A little patience and a little courtesy are all I ask for, Dr. Tier-
nay," replied Linton, while he placed a chair and seated himself with
the most perfect unconcern. " You may easily guess that I do not
intrude my presence upon you without what at least seem to me to
be sufficient reasons. Whether you may think them so or not, wiU in
a great measure depend upon whether you prefer to be guided by the
false lights of an unjust prejudice, or the true illumination of your
own natural good sense and practical intelligence."

Tiernay sat down without speaking ; the appeal was made calmly
and dispassionately to him, and he felt that he could not but enter-
tain it, particularly as the scene was beneath his own roof.

Linton resumed :

"Tour friend — I hope the time is not distant when I may be


enabled to say and mine — Mr. Corrigan, acting under the gi'eatest of
all misconceptions, mistaking my heartfelt zeal in his behalf for an
undue interference in his affairs, has to-day expressed himself towards
me in a manner so uncalled for, so unfair, and ungenerous, that, con-
sidering the position I sought to occupy in his regard, either bespeaks
the existence of some secret attack upon my character, or that a mere
sudden caprice of temper overbalances with him the qualities he has
been gracious enough to speak of in terms of praise and approbation."

Tiernay gave a short, dry nod, whose significance was so very
doubtful that Liaton stopped and stared at him, as if asking for
further information.

" I had made a proposition for the hand of his granddaughter,"
resumed he, "and surely my pretensions could not subject me to
rebuke ?"

Tiernay nodded again, in the same puzxling way as before.

" Knowing the influence you possess in the family," resumed Linton,
" seeing how much confidence they repose in your counsels, I have
thought it advisable to state to you that, although natiu'ally indignant
at the treatment I have met with, and possibly carried away for a
moment by passion, my feelings regarding Miss Leicester are un-
changed ; and, I believe, unchangeable."

Tiernay moved his head slightly, as though implying assent.

" Am I to understand. Sir, that my communication is pleasing to
you ?" said Linton, firmly.

" Very pleasing in every respect," said Tiernay.

" And I may reckon upon your kind offices in my behalf, Dr.
Tiernay ?"

Tiernay shook his head negatively.

" Be kind enough to speak your mind more intelligibly. Sir, for
there is need that we should understand each other here."

" I will be as explicit as you can desire, Sir. Tour communication
was gratifying to me in so far that it showed me how my old and
esteemed friend Mr. Corrigan had thrown off the delusion in which
he had indulged regarding you, and saw you as I have always thought
you — a clever worldly man, without scruples as to his means when
an object had once gained possession of his wishes, and who never
could liave dreamed of making Miss Leicester his wife were there
not other and deeper purposes to be attained by so doing."

"Tou are candour itself, Sir," said Linton; "but I cannot feel
offence at a frankness I have myself asked for. Pray extend the
favour, and say what could possibly be these other and deeper pur-
poses you allude to ? What advantages could I propose myself by
Bucli an alliance, save increased facilities of conversation with Dr.
Tiernay, and more frequent opportunities of indulging in ' tric-trac'
with Mr. Corrigan?"


Tiemay winced under the sarcasm, but only said,

" To divine your motives would be to become your equal in skill
and cleverness. I bave no pretensions to such excellence."

" So that you are satisfied with attributing to another objects for
which you see no reason and motive, and of which you perceive no

" I am satisfied to believe in much that I cannot fathom."

" We will pm-sue this no further," said Linton, impatiently.
" Let us reverse the medal. Mr. Corrigan's refusal of me, coupled
with his uncourteous conduct, may lead to unpleasant resiolts. Is
he prepared for such ?"

" I have never known him to shrink from the consequences of his
own conduct," replied Tiemay, steadfastly.

" Even though that conduct should leave him houseless ?" whis-
pered Linton.

" It cannot, Sir, while /have a roof"

" Generously spoken, Sir," said Linton, while he threw his eyes
over the humble decorations of his chamber with an expression of
contempt there was no mistaking.

" Humble and poor enough it is. Sir," said Tiernay, answering the
glance, " but the fruit of honest industry. Neither a father's curse,
nor a mother's tear, hovers over one of the little comforts around me."

" An ancient Eoman in virtue !" exclaimed Linton, affectedly.
" How sad, that our degenerate days so ill reward such excel-

" You are wrong there. Sir. Even for merits poor and unobtrusive
as mine, there are tributes of affection more costly than great men
know of There are those on every hand around me who would re-
sign health, and hope, and life itself, to do me service. There are
some who, in their rude zeal, would think little of making even Mr.
Linton regret his having needlessly insulted me. Ay, Sir, I have
but to open that window and speak one word, and you would sorely
repent this day's proceeding."

Linton sat calm and collected under this burst of anger, as though
he were actually enjoying the outbreak he had provoked. " You
have a lawless population here, it would seem then," said he, smiling
blandly, as he rose from his seat. " I think the Government is badly
rewarded by bestowing its resources on such a neighbourhood. A
police-barracks would suit you better than an hospital, and so I shall
tell 'Mr. Downie Meek."

Tiernay grew suddenly pale. The threat was too palpable to be
mistaken, nor was he sufiiciently conversant with the world of policy
to detect its fallacy.

" Two hundred pounds a year," resumed Linton, " can be of no
moment to one who is surrounded by such generous devotion, while


some respect for law or order -will be a good ' alternative,' — isn't that
the phrase, Doctor ?"

Tiernay could not utter a word. Like many men who pass their
lives in seclusion, he had formed the most exaggerated ideas of the
despotism of those in power ; he believed that for the gratification of
a mere whim or passing caprice they would not scruple at an act of
oppression that might lead to ruin itself; he felt shocked at the peril
to which a hasty word had exposed him. Linton. read him like a
book, and gazing fixedly at him, said, " Tour craft has taught you
little of worldly skill. Dr. Tiernay, or you would have seen that it is
better to incur a passing inconvenience, than run the risk of a severe
and perhaps fatal misfortune. Methinks that a science of expedi-
encies might have instilled a few of its wise precepts into every-day

The Doctor stared, half in astonishment, half in auger, but never

" Reflect a little upon this point," said Linton, slowly ; •'■ remem-
ber, too, that a man like myself, who never acts without an object,
may be a very good associate for him who has neither courage nor
energy for action at all ; and lastly, betliink you that the subtlety and
skill which can make a useful friend, can become very readily the
materials of a dangerous enemy."

Linton knew well the force and significance of vagueness, either
in threat or promise ; and no sooner had he done speaking than he
left the room and the house ; while Tiernay, bewildered and terrified,
sat down to think over what had passed.

"He'll come to terms, I see that!" cried Linton to himself, as he
entered the park of Tubbermore. " A little time — a sleepless night
or two — the uncertainty of that future, which to every man past fifty
gets anotlier tinge of black with each year — will do the business, and
I'll have him suing for the conditions he would now reject."

Never yet, however, had time been a greater object with Linton.
The host of creditors whom he had staved off" for some months back
— some, by paying large sums on account ; others, by the assurance
that he was on the eve of a rich marriage — would, at the very first
semblance of his defeat, return and overwhelm him. Many of his
debts were incurred to hush up play transactions, which, if once made
public, his station in society would be no longer tenable. Of his
former associates, more than one lived upon him by the mere menace
of the past. Some were impatient, too, at the protracted game he
played with Eoland, and reproached him with not " finishing him off"
long before, by cards and the dice-box. Others, were indignant that
they were not admitted to the share of the spoil, with all the contin-
gent advantages of mixing in a class where they might have found the
most profitable acquaintances. To hold all these in check had been


a diflBcult matter, and few save Limself could have accomplished it.
To restrain them much longer was impossible. "With these thoughts
be walked along, scarce noticing the long string of carriages which
now filled the avenue, and hastened towards the house. Occasionally
a thought would cross his mind, " "What if the bullet had already done
its work ? What if that vast estate were now once more thrown upon
the wide ocean of litigation ? "Would Corrigan prefer his claim again,
or would some new suitor spring up ? and if so, what sum could re-
compense the possession of that pardon by which the whole property
might be restored to its ancient owners ? Amid all these canvassings,
no feeling arose for the fate of him who had treated him as a bosom
friend — not one regret, not so much as one sensation of pity. True,
indeed, he did reflect upon what course to adopt when the tidings ar-
rived. Long did he vacillate whether Tom Keane should not be
arrested on suspicion. There were difficulties in either course, and,
as usual, he preferred that coming events should suggest their own

At last he reached the great house, but instead of entering by the
front door, he passed into the court-yard, and gained his own apart-
ment unobserved. As he entered he locked the door, and placed the
key in such a manner that none could peep through the keyhole. He
then walked leisurely around the room ; and although he knew there
was no other outlet, he cast a glance of scrutinising import on every
side, as if to assure himself that he was alone. This done, he opened
a small cupboard in the wall behind his bed, and took forth the iron
box, in which, since its discovery, he had always kept the pardon, as
well as the forged conveyance of Tubber-beg.

Linton placed the box before him on the table, and gazed at it in a
kind of rapture. "There," thought he, "lies the weapon by which

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 19 of 32)