Charles James Lever.

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their one glass of Tokay at dessert — a something, of which a little
more would be nauseating. The less polished classes were, there-
fore, those who took the greatest pleasure in following up every clue
and tracing each circumstance that pointed to Eoland's guilt ; and
so, at last, his name was rarely mentioned among those with whom
so lately he had lived in daily, almost hourly, companionship.

When Linton, then, deemed the time expired, which his feelings
of grief and shame had demanded for retirement, he reappeared in
the world pretty much as men had always seen him. A very close
observer, if he would liave suffered any one to be such, might have
perhaps detected the expression of care in certain wrinkles round his
month, and in the extra blackness of his whiskers, where grey hairs
had dared to show themselves ; but to the world at large these signs
were inappreciable. To them he was the same even-tempered, easy-
mannered man they ever saw him. Nor was this accomplished with-
out an effort ; for, however Linton saw the hour of his vengeance
draw nigh, he also perceived that all his personal plans of fortune
and aggrandisement had utterly failed. The hopes he had so often
cherished were all fled. His title to the cottage, his prospect of a
seat in Parliament, the very sums he had won at play, and which to
a Ira'ge amount remained in Cashel's hands, he now perceived were
all forfeited to revenge. The price was, indeed, a heavy one ! and
already he began to feel it so. Many of his creditors had abstained
from pressing him so long as his intimacy with Cashel gave promise
of future solvency. That illusion was now dispelled, and each post
brought him dunning epistles, and threatening notices of various
kinds. Exposures menaced him from men whose vindictiveness he
was well aware of; but far more perilous than all these were his
relations with Tom Keane, who continued to address letter after
letter to him, craving advice and pecuniary assistance, in a tone
where menace was even more palpable than entreaty. To leave these
nnreplied to, might have been dangerous in the extreme ; to answer
them, even more perilous. No other course was, then, open than to
return to Tubbermore, and endeavour, in secret, to confer with this
man face to face. There was not any time to lose. Cashel's ti'ial was
to take place at the ensuing assizes, which now were close at hand.
Keane was to figure there as an important Avitness. It was abso-
lutely necessary to see him, and caution him as to the nature of the
evidence he should give, nor sufler him in the exuberance of his zeal
to prove " too much."

Under pretence, therefore, of a hurried trip to London, he left his
house one evening, and went on board the packet at Kingstown, dis-
missing his carriage as if about to depart ; then, suddenly affecting


to discover that his luggage had beeu carried away by mistake, he
landed, and set out witli post-horses across country towards the
western road. Before midnight he was safe in the mail, on his way
to Limerick; and by daybreak on the following inorning he was
standing in the wood of Tubbermore, and gazing with a thoughtful
head upon the house, Avhose shuttered windows and barred doors told
of its altered destiny.

From thence he wandered onward towards the cottage — some
strange, inexplicable interest over him — to see once more the spot he
had so often fancied to be his own, and where, with a fervour not
altogether unreal, he had sworn to pass his days in tranquil solitude.
Brief as had been the interval since last he stood there, the changes
were considerable. The flower-pots were trampled and trodden down,
the palings smashed, the ornamental trees and shrubs were injured
and broken by the cattle ; traces of reckless haste and carelessness
were seen in the broken gates and torn gate-posts ; while fragments
of packing-cases, straw, and paper littered the walks and the turf

Looking through the windows, broken in many places, he could see
the cottage was perfectly dismantled. Everything was gone : not a
trace remained of those who for so many years had called it home !
The desolation was complete ; nor was it without its depressing in-
fluence upon him who stood there to mark it ; for, strange enough,
there are little spots in the minds of those, w^here evil actions are
oftenest cradled, that form the refuge of many a tender thought !
Linton remembered the cottage as he saw it bright in the morning
sun ; or, more cheerful still, as the closed curtains and the blazing
fire gave a look of homelike comfort to which tlie veriest wanderer is
not insensible; and now it was cold and dark. He had no self-
accusings as to the cause. It was, to him, one of those sad mutations
which the course of fortune is ever efiecting. He even went further,
and fancied how difierent had beeu their fate if they had not rejected
his own alliance.

" In this world of ours," muttered he, " the cards we are dealt by
Fortune would nearly always suffice to win, had we but skill. Tliese
people had a noble game before tliem, but, forsootli, they did not
fancy their partner ! And see what is come of it — ruin on every
side !"

Gloomy thoughts over his ovm opportunities neglected — over
eventful moments left to slip by unprofitably — stole over him. Many
of his late speculations had been unsuccessful ; he had had heavy
losses on the " turf" and the " 'Change." He had failed in promises
by which menacing dangers had been long averted. His enemies
would soon be upon him, and he was ill provided for the encounter.


Vengeance alone, of all liis aspirations, seemed to prosper ; and lie
tried to revel in that tliought as a compensation for every failure.

Nor was this unmixed with fear. "Wliat if Cashel should enter upon
a defence by exposing the events of that last night at Tubbermore ?
What if he should produce the forged deed in open court ? "Who was
to say that Enrique himself might not be forthcoming to prove his
falsehood ? Again : how far could he trust Tom Keane ? might not
the fellow's avarice suggest a tyranny impossible to endure ? AVeighty
considerations were these, and full of their own peril. Linton paused
beside the lake to ruminate, and for some time was deep buried in
thought. A light rustling sound at last ai'oused him ; he looked up,
and perceived, directly in front of him, the very man of whom he was
thinking — Tom Keane himself.

Both stood still, each fixedly regarding the other without speaking.

It seemed a game in which he who made the first move should lose.

So, certainly, did Linton feel ; but not so Tom Keane, who, with an

easy composure that all the other's "breeding" could not compass,

. said :

" Well, Sir, I hope you like your work ?"

" My work ! my work ! How can you call it mine, ^my good
friend ?" replied Linton, with a great effort to appear as much at
ease as the other.

" Just as ould Con Corrigan built the little pier we're standin' on
this minit, though his own hands didn't lay a stone of it."

" There's no similarity between the cases whatever," said Linton,
with a well-feigned laugh. " Here there was a plan — an employer —
hired labourers engaged to perform a certain task."

" Weil, well," broke in Keane, impatiently ; " sure we're not in
' Coort,' that you need make a speech. 'Twas your own doing : deny
it if you like, but don't drive me to prove it."

The tone of menace in which these words were uttered was ia-
creased by the fact, now for the first time apparent to Linton, that
Tom Keane had been drinking freely that morning, and was still
under the strong excitement of liquor.

Linton passed his arm familiarly within the other's, and in a voice
of deep meaniag, said, '" Were you only as cautious as you are cou-
rageous, Tom, there's not a man in Europe I'd rather take as my
|t partner in a dangerous enterprise. Ton are a glorious fellow in the
hour of peril, but you are a child, a mere child, when it's over."

Keane did not speak, but a leer of inveterate cunning seemed to
answer this speech.

" I say this, Tom," said Linton, coaxingly, " because I see the risk
to which your natural frankness will expose you. There are fellows
prowling about on every side to scrape up information about tliis


affair ; and as, in some unguarded moment, •when a glass too much has
made the tongue run freely, any man may say things, to explain
whicli away afterwards he is often led to go too far Tou under-
stand me, Tom ?"

" I do, Sir," said the other, nodding shortly.

" It was on that account I came down here to-day, Tom. The trial
is fixed for the 15th : now, the time is so short between this and that,
you can surely keep a strict watch over yourself till ' all is over ?' "

" And what then, Sir ?" asked Tom, with a cunning glance beneath
his brows.

" After that," rejoined Linton, affecting to mistake the meaning of
the question — " after that, the law takes its course, and you trouble
yourself no more on the matter."

" And is that all, Mr. Linton ? — is that all ?" asked the man, as,
freeing himself from the other's arm, he drew himself up to his full
lieight, and stood directly in front of him.

" I must own, Tom, that I don't understand your question."

" I'll make it plain and azy for you, then," said Keane, with a
hardened determination in his manner. " 'Twas you yourself put me
up to this business. 'Twas you that left the pistol in my possession.
'Twas you tliat towld me how it was to be done, and where to do it ;
and" — here his voice became deep, thick, and guttural witli passion —
" and, by the 'mortal God ! if I'm to hang for it, so will you too."

"Hang!" exclaimed Linton. " AYho talks of hanging? or what
possible danger do you run — except, indeed, what your own indiscreet
tongue may bring upon you?"

" Isn't it as good to die on the gallows as on the roadside ?" asked
the other, fiercely. " Wliat betther am I for what I done, tell me
that ?"

" I have told you before, and- 1 tell you again, that when 'all is
over' you shall be amply provided for."

" And why not before ?" said he, almost insolently.

" If you must know the reason," said Linton, affecting a smile,
"you shall hear it. Tour incaution would make you at once the
object of suspicion, were you to be seen with money at command as
freely as you will have it hereafter."

" Will you give me that in writin' ? — will you give it to me undhcr
your hand?" asked Keane, boldly. 'ji

" Of course I will," said Linton, who was too subtle a tactician to
hesitate about a pledge which could not be exacted on the instant.

" That's what I call talkin' fair," said Ivcane; "an', by my sowl,
it's the best of your play to trate me well."

" There is only one thing in the world could induce me to do other-

"An' what's that, Sir?"


" Tour daring to use a threat to me !" said Linton, sternly. " There
never was the man that tried that game — and there have been some
just as clever fellows as Tom Keane who did try it — who didn't find
that they met their match."

" I only ax what's right and fair," said the other, abashed by the
daring effrontery of Linton's air.

" And you shall have it, and more. Tou shall either have enough
to settle in America, or, if you prefer it, to live abroad."

" And why not stay at home here?" said Tom, doggedly,

" To blurt out your secret in some drunken moment, and be hanged
at last!" said Linton, with a cutting irony.

" An', may be, tell how one Misther Linton put the wickedness first
in my head," added Tom, as if finishing the sentence.

Linton bit his lip, and turned angrily away to conceal the mortifi-
cation the speech had caused him. " My good friend," said he, in a
deliberate voice, '"you think that whenever you upset the boat you
will drown me; and I have half a mind to dare you to it, just to show
you the shortness of your calculation. Trust me" — there was a ter-
rible distinctness in his utterance of these words — " trust me, that
in all my dealings with the world, I have left very little at the discre-
tion of what are called men of honour. I leave nothing, absolutely
nothing, in the power of such as you."

At last did Linton strike the right chord of the fellow's nature ;
and in his subdued and crestfallen countenance might be read the
signs of his prostration.

" Hear me now attentively, Keane, and let my words rest well in
your memory. The trial comes on on the 15th : your evidence will
be the most important of all ; but give it with the reluctance of a
man who shrinks from bringing his landlord to the scaffold. Tou
understand me ? Let everything you say show the desire to screen
Mr. Cashel. Another point : affect not to know anything save what
you actually saw. Tou never can repeat too often the words, ' I
didn't see it.' This scrupulous reliance on eyesight imposes well
upon a Jury. These are the only cautions I have to give you. Tour
own natural intelligence will supply the rest. When all is finished,
you will come up to Dublin, and call at a certain address which will
be given you hereafter. And now we part. It is your own fault if
you lose a friend who never deserted the man that stood by him,"

" An' are you going back to Dublin now. Sir ?" asked Keane, over
whose mind Linton's influence had become dominant, and who
actually dreaded to be left alone, and without his guidance.

Linton nodded an assent.

" But you'll be down here at tlie trial, Sir ?" asked Tom, eagerly,

" I suspect not," said Linton. " If not summoned as a witness,
I'll assuredly not come."

VOL. II. p


"Oh, murther !" exclaimed Tom. " I thought I'd have you in the
' Coort,' just to look up at you from time to time, to give me courage
and make me feel bovrld ; for it does give me courage when I see you
so calm and so azy, without as much as a tremble in your voice."

" It is not likely that I shall be there," rejoined Linton ; " but mind,
if I be, that you do not direct your eyes towards me. Eemember,
that every look you give, every gesture you make, will be watched and

" I wondher how I'll get through it !" exclaimed the other, sorrow-

" You'll get through it admirably, man, if you'll only think that you
are not the person in peril. It is your conscience alone can bring you
into any danger."

" "Well, I hope so ! with the help of " The fellow stopped

short, and a red flush of shame spread itself over features which in a
whole lifelong had never felt a blush.

" I'd like to be able to give you something better than this, Tom,"
said Linton, as he placed a handful of loose silver in the other's palm ;
*' but it is safer for the present that you should not be seen with much

" I owe more than this at Mark Shea's ' public,' " said Tom, look-
ing discontentedly at the money.

" And why should you owe it ?" said Linton, bitterly. " What is
there in your circumstances to warrant debts of this kind ?"

"Didn't I earn it — tell me that ?" asked the ruffian, with, a savage

" I see that you are hopeless," said Linton, turning away in dis-
gust. " Take your own coui'se, and see v\here it will lead you."

" No — you mean where it will lead us," said the fellow, insolently.

" What ! do you dare to threaten me ! Now, once for all, let this
have an end. I have hitherto treated you with candour and with
kindness. If you fancy that my hate can be more profitable than my
friendship, say so, and before one hour passes over your head I'll have
you committed to prison as an accessary to the murder."

" I ax your pardon humbly — I didn't mean to anger yer Honer,"
said the other, in a servile tone. " I'll do everything you bid me —
and sure you know best what ought to be done."

" Then let us part good friends," said Linton, holding out his hand
towards him. " I see a boat coming over the lake which wUl drop
me at Killaloe ; we must not be seen together — so good-by, Tom,

" Good-by, and a safe journey to yer Honer," said Tom, as, touch-
ing his hat respectfully, he retired into the wood.

The boat which Linton descried was still above a mile from the
shore, and he sat down upon a stone to await its coming. Beautiful


as that placid lake was, with its background of bold mountains, its
scattered islands, and its jutting promontories, lie bad no eye for
these, but followed with a peering glance the direction in which Tom
Keane had departed.

"There are occasions," muttered he to himself, " when the boldest
courses are the safest. Is this one of these ? Dare I trust that
fellow, or would this be better r" And, as if mechanically, he drew
forth a double-barrelled pistol from his breast, and looked fixedly
at it.

He arose from his seat, and sat down again — his mind seemed
beset with hesitation and doubt ; but the conflict did not last long,
for he replaced the weapon, and walking down to the lake, dipped his
fingers in the water and bathed his temples, saying to himself:

'•' Better as it is : over-caution is as great an error as foolhardiness."

With a dexterity acquired by long practice, he now disguised his
features so perfectly that none could have recognised him ; and by
the addition of a wig and whiskers of bushy red hair, totally changed
the character of his appearance. This he did, that at any future
period he might not be recognised by the boatmen, who, in answer to
his signal, now pulled vigorously towards the shore.

He soon bargained with them to leave him at Killaloe, and as they
rowed along engaged them to talk about the country, in which he
afiected to be a tourist. Of course the late murder was the theme
uppermost in every mind, and Linton marked with satisfaction how
decisively the current of popular belief ran in attributing the guilt to

With a perversity peculiar to the peasant, the Agent, whom they
had so often inveighed against for cruelty in his lifetime, they now
discovered to have been the type of all that was kind-hearted and
benevolent ; and had no hesitation in attributing his unhappy fate to
an altercation in which he, with too rash a zeal, was the " poor man's

The last words he was heard to utter on leaving Tubbermore were
quoted, as implying a condemnation on Cashel's wasteful extravagance,
at a time when the poor around were " perishing of hunger." Even
to Linton, whose mind was but too conversant with the sad truths of
the story, these narratives assumed the strongest form of consistency
and likelihood ; and he saw how efiectually circumstantial evidence
can convict a man in public estimation, long before a jury are sworn
to try him.

Crimes of this nature, now, had not been unfrequent in that dis-
trict ; and the country people felt a species of savage vengeance in
urging their accusations against a " Grentleman," who had not what
they reckoned as the extenuating circumstances to diminish or explain
away his guilt.



" He wasn't turned out of hia little place to die on the roadside,"
muttered one. " He wasn't threatened, like poor Tom Keane, to be
' starminated,' " cried another.

" And who is Tom Keane ?" asked Linton.

" The gatekeeper up at the big house yonder, Sir ; one that's lived
man and boy nigh fifty years there ; and Mr. Cashel swore he'd root
him out, for all that !"

" Ay !" chimed in another, in a moralising whine, " an' see where
he is himself, now !"

" I wondher now if they'd hang him, Sir ?" asked one.

" Why not," asked Linton, " if he should be found guilty ?"

" They say, Sir, the gentlemen can always pay for another man to
be hanged instead of them. Musha, maybe 'tisn't true," added he,
diffidently, as he saw the smile on Linton's face.

" I think you'll find that the right man will sufi'er in this case,"
said Linton ; and a gleam of malignant passion shot from his dark
eyes as he spoke.


As I listened I thought myself guilty. — Wabren Hastings.

Foe several days before that appointed for the trial of Eoland
Cashel, the assize town was crowded with visitors from every part of
the island. Not a house, not a room was unoccupied, so intense was
the interest to witness a cause into which so many elements of ex-
citing story entered. His great wealth, his boundless extravagance,
the singular character of his early life, gave rise to a hundred curious
anecdotes, which the press circulated with a most imscrupulous

Nor did public curiosity stop at the walls of the prison ; for every
detail of his life, since the day of his committal, was carefully re-
corded by the papers. The unbroken solitude in which he lived ;
the apparent calm collectedness in which he awaited his trial; his
resolute refusal to employ legal assistance ; his seeming indifference
to the alleged clues to the discovery of the miu-der, were commented
on and repeated till they formed the table-talk of the land.

The only person with whom he desired to communicate was Doctor
Tiemay ; but the Doctor had left Ireland in company with old Mr.
Corrigan and Miss Leicester, and none knew Avhither they had di-
rected their steps.

Of all his former friends and acquaintances, Cashel did not appear


to remember one ; nor, certainly, did tbey intrude themselves in any
way upon his recollection. The Public, it is true, occupied themselves
abundantly with his interests. Letters, some with signatures, the
greater number without, were addressed to him, containing advices
and counsels the strangest and most opposite, and requests, which to
one in his situation were the most inappropriate. Exhortations to
confess his crime came from some, evidently more 'anxious for the
solution of a mystery than the repentance of a criminal. Some, sug-
gested legal quibbles to be used at the trial ; others, hinted at certain
most skilful advocates, whose services had been crowned with success
in the case of most atrocious wretches. A few, asked for autographs ;
and one, in a neat crowquill baud, with paper smelling strongly of
musk, requested a lock of his hair !

If by any accident Cashel opened one of the epistles, he was certain
to feel amused. It was, to him at least, a new view of life, and of that
civilisation against which he now felt himself a rebel. Grenerally,
however, he knew nothing of them : a careless indifference, a reckless
disregard of the future, had taken complete possession of him ; and
the only impatience he ever manifested was at the slow march of the
time which should elapse before the day of trial.

The day at length arrived ; and even within the dreary walls of the
prison were heard the murmured accents of excitement as the great
hour drew nigh.

Mr. Goring at an early hour had visited the prisoner, to entreat him,
for the last time, to abandon his mad refusal of legal aid ; explaining
forcibly that there were constantly cases occurring where innocence
could only be asserted by disentangling the ingenious tissue with
which legal astuteness can invest a circumstance. Cashel rejected
this counsel calmly but peremptorily ; and when pressed home by other
arguments, in a moment of passing impatience confessed that he was
" weary of life, and would make no effort to prolong it."

" Even so. Sir," said Goring, " there is here another question at
issue. Are you satisfied to fill the dishonoured grave of a criminal ?
Does not the name by which men will speak of you hereafter possess
any terror for you now ?"

A slight tremor shook Cashel's voice as he replied, " "Were I one
who left kindred or attached friends behind him, these considerations
would have their weight, nor would I willingly leave them the heritage
of such disgrace ; but I am alone in the world, without one to blush
for my dishonour, or shed a tear over my sorrow. The calumny of
my fellow-men will only fall on ears sealed by death ; nor will their
jeers break the slumber I am so soon to sleep."

Goring laboured hard to dissuade him from his resolve, but to no
purpose. The only consolation of which Eoland seemed capable arose


from the dogged indifference lie felt as to the result, and the con-
sciousness of an. innocence he was too proud to assert.

Prom an early hour of the morning the Court was crowded. Many
persons distinguished in the world of fashion were to he seen amid
the gowned and wigged throng that filled the body of the building ;
and in the galleries were a vast number of ladies, whose elegance of
dress told how much they regarded the scene as one of display, as
well as of exciting interest. Some, had been frequent guests at his

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 23 of 32)