Charles James Lever.

Roland Cashel (Volume 2) online

. (page 8 of 32)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

over him, and he liastened forward in eager anxiety to learn the
tidings. Then, suddenly checking himself, he felt reluctant, almost
stranger that he was, to obtrude at such a moment. Eearing to ad-
vance, and unwilling to retire, he stood uncertain and hesitating.

As he remained thus, the door of the drawing-room tliat opened
upon tlie lawn was flung wide, and Tiernay passed hastily out, saying
in a loud and excited voice, " I will have my own way. I'll see Cashel
at once," And with these words he issued forth in haste. Scarcely,
however, had he gone a dozen paces, than he stopped short, and,
clasping his hands firmly together, muttered aloud, " To w'hat end
should I seek him ? What claim can I pretend — by what right
appeal to him ?"

" Every claim and every right," cried Roland, advancing towards
him, " if I can only be of any service to you."

" What ! actually here at this moment !" exclaimed Tiernay.
" Come this way with me, Sir ; we must not go into the house just
yet." And so saying, he passed his arm within Roland's, and led him
onward towards the lake.

" Is he ill ?" said Cashel—" is Mr. Corrigan taken iU ?" But
although the question was asked eagerly, Tiernay was too deeply sunk
in his own thoughts to hear it ; while he continued to mutter hur-
riedly to himself.

" AVhat -is the matter?" said Roland, at last, losing patience at a
preoccupation that could not be broken in upon. " Is Mr. Corrigan
ill ?"

" He is ruined !" said Tiernay, dropping Cashel's arm, and letting
fall his own as he spoke, with a gesture of despair.

" What do you mean ? — How ?"

"Ruined! utterly ruined !" re-echoed Tiernay ; and there was that
in his accent and the emotion of his manner that forbade any further

" It is not at a moment like this," said the Doctor, " that I can
tell you a long tale, where treachery and falsehood on one side, and
generosity and manliness on the other, played the game as ever it
has been, and ever will be played, between such antagonists; —
enough, if I say my poor friend became responsible for the debts of
a man who, but for his aid, would have had a felon's fate. This fellow,
who possesses one terrible means of vengeance, threatens now to use
it, if a demand be not complied with, which Corrigan may leave him-
salf a beggar and yet not satisfy. The threat has been held over him
for years, and for years he has struggled on, parting, one by one,
with every little requirement of his station, and submitting with



noble resignation to any and everything to stave off tlie evil day ; but
it has come at last."

"And what is the sum demanded?" said Cashel, hastily.

" I cannot tell. There are various bills ; some have been renewed
again and again, others are yet current. It is a tangled web, and, in
our hopelessness, we never sought to unravel it."

" But the danger is imminent ?"

" So imminent, that my friend will be arrested to-morrow if bail
be not forthcomins:. I have not told him this : I dare not tell him
so ; but I have made up a story to induce him to leave this to-night."

" Where for?" cried Eoland, anxiously.

" God knows ! I lose memory as well as judgment in moments
like this. I believe I advised Limerick, and thence by ship to some
port ia England, from which they could reach the Continent."

" But all this will be unnecessary if I offer myself as security,"
said Eoland.

" For a sum of which you know nothing !" muttered Tiernay, sor-

" No matter ; it cannot be, in all likelihood, more than I can meet."

"And for one who can never repay!" echoed the Doctor, still more

" "Who can tell that ?" said Cashel ; " there's many a coinage cost-
lier than ever the Mint fashioned ; he may requite me thus."

The Doctor started. "You mean — no! — no!" cried he, inter-
rupting himself, " tliat were too great good fortune. I must tell you,
Sir," added he, in a firm voice, " that there is nothing — absolutely
nothing — to give you in requital for such aid. My friend's alterna-
tive is a prison, or be your debtor for what he cannot pay."

"I am content — perfectly content," said Eoland. " There is no
need to say another word on the matter. Do not suffer him to en-
dure any anxiety we can spare him ; tell him at once the thing is

" "We must think over this a little," said Tiernay, musing. " Con
is a diflBcult feUow to deal with ; there must be something which
shall give it the semblance of a loan ; he must be made to believe it
is only a change of creditors."

" Could we not arrange it without his knowledge, while you could
affect to have made some settlement which has satisfied the others?"

" Too late — too late, for that; he has seen Hoare himself."

" Hoare! — the money-lender from Dublin ?" said Cashel, blushing
at the recollection of his own acquaintance with him.

" Ay, Sir, of course you know him ! A man cannot enjoy such
distinguislied friendships as you have, without the aid of usurers!"
Cashel smiled good humoui'edly, and went on :
" "Where is this gentleman at present?"



" Yonder," said Tiernay, pointing to the cottage ; " but lie intends
shortly returning to the inn at the village, where perhaps it would be
better to ineet him than here. If you'll permit me, I'll just step iu
and say as much, and then we can stroll that way together."

Cashel consented, and his companion left him to do his errand. It
was only as he stood alone, and had time for reflection, that he re-
membered his conversation with Keunyfeck in the morning, and
learned that, with regard to ready money at least, he stood in a very
different position from what he supposed. That there would be.
difficulties and legal obstacles innumerable made by Kennyfeck to
any sale of property, he well knew ; but he had made up his mind
as to his course, and would not be thwarted. He had but space for
these reflections, when Tiernay joined him, saying, '

" So far all is well. Hoare will follow us in a few minutes, and,
for privacy's sake, I have made the rendezvous at my house."

" And Corrigan — how have you left him ?" asked Cashel.

" Like one in a dream. He seems neither to know whether it be
misfortune or the opposite which impends him. Were it not for
Mary, his poor heart had given way long since. Ay, Sir, there is
more true heroism in one day of that humble life, than in the boldest
deed of bravery even you have ever witnessed."

Cashel did not speak, but, in the pressure of his arm against
Tiernay's, the other felt how the theme had touched him.

" Tou only know her by the graceful elegance of her manner, and
the fascinations that, even to old men like myself, are a kind of sor-
cery ; but I have seen her ia every trial, where temper and mind, and
heart and pride, are tested, and come through all victorious ; drain-
ing the very wells of her own hopefulness to feed the exhausted
fountain which age and disappointment had dried up ; lending to
manhood a courage greater than her own ; ay, and more — showing
that her temper could resist the jarring influences of misfortune, and,
like the bright )noon above the storm-lashed clouds, soar on, glorious
and lustrous ever. What are men made of?" cried he, energetically ;
" of what stuff are they formed, when such a gii-1 as this can excite
more admiration for her beauty, than for traits of character that en-
noble Immanity ?"

" Tou speak with all a lover's warmth, Doctor," said Cashel, lialf
smiling, while, in reality, the subject intei'csted him deeply.

"And why not. Sir? I do love her, and with an affection that
only such beings inspire. It is creatures like her that redeem years
of disappointment and worldly disgust. It is in watching the single-
heartedness of that young girl that I, an old man, hackneyed and
hardened as I am, become trustful and hopeful of others. Love her!
— to be sure I love her. And so would you, if the poor fopperies amid
which you live but left you one moment free to think and feel as your



own head and heart would lead you. I hope you take no heed of my
rude speech, Sir," said he, hastily; "but it is the fault of my craft to
believe that sweet things are only ' Placebos,' given but to earn the
fee and amuse the patient."

"I thank you for it," said Cashel, pressing his hand ; "few have
ever cared to tell me truths."

" Say, rather, few have cared to resign their influence over you by-
showing they knew your weak points. Now, I have too deep an inte-
rest in you, and too slight a regard for any profit your acquaintance
can render myself, to be swayed by this. Tou don't know — you
cannot know — what a charm there is to an old fellow like myself,
whose humble fortunes limit to a life of mere routine — to thiuk that
he has an opportunity of counselling one in your station — to feel that
he has sown the seed of some good principle, that one day or other
will bear its fruit. Yes, years hence, when you have forgotten the
old village doctor — or if by chance remember, only to recal his
vulgarity or eccentricity — I will be an auxious watcher over you,
flattering myself to think that I have had some share in instilling the
precepts by which you are winning good men's esteem. Tliese
thoughts are poor men's treasures, but he that feels them would not
barter them for gold."

"I have long wished for such a counsellor," said Cashel, fervently.

" The advice will not be the less stringent that it comes when you
are heart-sick of frivolity," said Tiernay. " A¥hat could your fine
company up yonder teach you ? Such of them as are above mere-
folly, trade in vice. I have seen them all since they have assembled
here, and I am no mean physiognomist, and there is but one among
them deserving of better than the poor heartless life they're leading."

" I can guess whom you mean," said Eoland, half pleased and hall;'

" "Well, she indeed would merit a better lot ; and yet I would she
were gone."

" A\^liy so ? Do you grudge us even a passing ' gleam of virtue's
brightness ?' "

" She is more dangerous than the veriest coquette that ever lured
a man to ruin. It is in such as she, where noble qualities have run
to waste, where generous sentiments and pure afifections have been
blighted by the cold chill of a world that fosters not such gifts, the
peril is ever greatest ; for her sake aild for yours, I would she were


As they spoke thus, they had reached the wide esplanade in front
of the great house, from the windows of which lights were gleaming,
wliile sounds of festivity and pleasure floated on the night air.

Tiernay halted for a second, aud then said, "AVho could believe
that the owner of that princely mansion, filled as it is with pleasure-


loving guests, and every adjunct that can promote enjoyment, sbould
leave it, to wander on loot with a poor old village doctor, whose only
merit is to utter unpalatable truths !"

" And be happier while doing so ! add that, my worthy friend,"
said Cashel, pressing the arm that he held within his own.

" Come along, Sir ; this dalliance is pleasanter to me than to you.
I begin to feel that I may have done you good, and you should be a
doctor to know the full ecstasy of that feeling. Let us now move on,
or this man will be before us." And so saying, they moved briskly
forward towards the village of Dunkeeran.


The debts we make by plighted vows,
Bear heaviest interest, ever I


Tke Doctor's little parlour was the very "ideal" of snugness;
there was nothing which had the faintest resemblance to luxury save
the deep-cushioned arm-chair, into which he pressed Cashel at enter-
ing, but there were a hundred objects that told of home. Tlie book-
shelves, no mean indication of the owner's "trempe," were filled with
a mixture of works on medicine, the older English dramatists, and
that class of writers who prevailed in the days of Steele and Addison.
There was a microscope on one table, witli a great bunch of fresh-
plucked fern beside it. A chess-board, with an unfinished game — a
problem from a newspaper, for he had no antagonist — stood on
another table ; while full in front of the fire, with an air that be-
tokened no mean self-importance, sat a large black cat, with a red
leather collar, the very genius of domesticity. As Casliel's eyes took
a hasty survey of the room, they rested on a picture — it was the only
one there — which hung over the mantelpiece. It was a portrait of
Mary Leicester, and although a mere water-colour sketch, an excel-
lent likeness, and most characteristic in air and attitude.

"Ay!" said Tiernay, who caught the direction of his glance, "a
birthday present to me! She had promised to dine with me, but the
day, like most Irish days, when one prays for sunshine, rained tor-
rents ; and so she sent me that sketch, with a note, a merry bit of
doggrel verse, whose merit lies in its local allusions to a hundred
little things, and people only known to ourselves ; but for this, I'd be
guilty of breach of faith and show it to you."

" Is the drawing, too, by her own hand?"

" Yes ; she is a clever artist, and might, it is said by competent


judges, Lave attained high excellence as a painter, had she pursued
the study. I remember an illustration of the fact worth mentioning.
Carringford, the well-known miniature-painter, who was making a
tour of this country a couple of years back, passed some days at the
cottage, and made a picture of old Con Corrigan, for which, I may
remark passingly, poor Mary paid all her little pocket-money, some
twenty guineas, saved up from Heaven knows how long. Con did
not know this of course, and believed the portrait was a compliment
to his granddaughter. Carringford' s ability is well known, and there
is no need to say the picture was admirably painted ; but still it
wanted character ; it had not the playful ease, the gentle, indulgent
pleasantry that marks my old friend's features ; in fact, it was hard
and cold, not warm, generous, and genial ; so I thought, and so Mary
thought, and accordingly, scarcely had the artist taken his leave, when
she set to work herself, and made a portrait, which, if inferior as a
work of art, was infinitely superior as a likeness. It was Con him-
self; it had the very sparkle of his mild blue eye, the mingled glance
of droUery and softness, the slightly curled mouth, as though some
quaint conceit was lingering on the lip ! all his own. Mary's picture
hung on one side of the chimney, and Carringford's at the other, and.
so they stood when the painter came through, from Limerick, and
passed one night at Tubber-beg, on his way to Dublin. I breakfasted
there that morning, and I remember, on entering the room, I was
surprised to see the frame of Carringford's portrait empty, and a
bank-note, carefully folded, stuck in the corner. ' What does that
mean ?' said I to him, for we were alone at the time."

" ' It means simply that my picture cannot stand such competitor-
ship as tliat^ said he ; ' raine was a miniature, that is the man him-
self.' I will not say one-half of the flatteries he uttered, but I have
heard from others since, that he speaks of this picture as a production
of high merit. Dear girl ! that meagre sketch may soon have a gadder
interest connected with it ; it may be all that I shall possess of her !
Tes, Mr. Cash el, your generosity may stave off" the pressure of one
peril, but there is another, from which nothing but flight will rescue
my poor friend."

A sharp knocking at the door here interrupted the Doctor's recital,
and soon Hoare's voice was heard without, inquiring if Dr. Tiernay
was at home ?

Hoare's easy familiarity, as he entered, seemed to sufier a slight
shock on observing Eoland Cashel, who received him with cold

Tiernay, who saw at once that business alone would relieve the
awkwardness of the scene, briefly informed the other that Mr. Cashel
was there to learn the exact amount and circumstances of Corrigan's
liabilities, with a view to a final settlement of them.


" Yerv pleasing intelligence this, Doctor," said tlie money-lender,
rubbing his hands, " and, I am free to own, very surprising also ! Am
I to enter into an explanation of the peculiar causes of these liabili-
ties, Doctor, or to suppose," said he, " that Mr. Cashel is already con-
versant with them ?"

"Tou are to suppose, Sir," interposed Cashel, "that Mr. Cashel is
aware of every circumstance upon which he does not ask you for
further information." There was a sternness in the way he spoke
that abashed the other, who, opening a huge pocket-book on the
table, proceeded to scan its contents with diligence; while Tiernay,
whose agitation was great, sat watching him without speaking.

"The transactions," said Hoare, "date from some years back, as
these bills will show, and consist, for the most part, in drafts, at
various dates, by Mr. Leicester, of South Bank, New Orleans, on
Cornelius Corrigan, Esq., of Tubbermore. Some of these have been
duly honoured; indeed, at first, Mr. Corrigan was punctuality itself;
but bad seasons, distress at home here, greater demands, the con-
sequence of some commercial losses sustained by Mr. Leicester in the
States, all coiniue: together, the bills were not met as usual ; renewals
were given — and, when it comes to that, Mr. Cashel, I need scarcely
say difficulties travel by special train." No one joined in the little
laugh by which Mr. Hoare welcomed his own attempt at pleasantry,
and he went on : " At first we managed tolerably weU. Mr. Corrigan
devoted a portion of his income to liquidate these claims ; he made
certain sales of property ; he reduced his establishment ; in fact, I be-
lieve, he really made every sacrifice consistent with his position "

" No, Sir," broke in Tiernay, " but consistent with bare sub-

The violent tone of the interruption startled the money-lender,
who hastened to concur with the sentiment, while he faltered cut —
" Eemember, gentlemen, I speak only from hearsay; of myself I
know nothing."

" Go on with your statement. Sir," said Cashel, peremptorily.
" My statement," said Hoare, provoked at the tone assumed to-
wards him, " resolves itself into a debt of three thousand seven
hundred and forty-eight pounds some odd shillings. There are tlie
bills. The sums due for interest and commission are noted down,
and will, I believe, be found duly correct."

" Three thousand seven hundred pounds in less than five years !"
ejaculated Tiernay. " "What iniquity !"

" If your expression is intended to apply to anything in the con-
duct of this transaction, Sir," said Hoare, growing pale with passion
as he spoke, " I beg you to remember that tlicro is such a thing in
the land as redress for libel."

" If the laws will warrant sixty per cent., they may well punish


the man who calls it iufamy," said Tiernaj, almost choking \vitli

" That will do, gentlemen, that will do," said Hoare, replacing the
bills in the pocket-book, while his fingers trembled with passion. '• I
was not aware that your object in this meeting was to insult me. I'll
not expose myself a second time to such a casualty. I'll thank you
to hand me that bill, Sir?" This request was addressed to Cashel,
who, Avitli his eyes riveted on a document which he held in both
hands, sat perfectly unmindful of all around him.

" If you will have the kindness to give me that bill, Sir ?" said
Hoare, again.

" Shylock wants his bond," said Tiernay, who walked up and down
the room with clenched hands, and brows knitted into one deep

Hoare turned a scowling glance towards him, but not trusting
himself to reply, merely repeated his question to Cashel.

" How came you by this ?" cried Eoland, rising from the table, and
holding out a written paper towards Hoare — " I ask, Sir, how came
you by this?" reiterated he, while the paper shook with the hand
that held it.

" Oh ! I perceive," said Hoare ; " that document has no concern
with the case before us ; it refers to another and very different trans-

" This is no answer to my question. Sir," said Cashel, sternly ; " I
asked, and I ask you again, how it came into your hands ?"

" Don't you think. Sir, that it would be more appropriate to express
your regret at having examined a paper not intended to have been
submitted to you ?" said Hoare, in a tone half insolent, half defe-

" I saw my name upon it," said Cashel ; " coupled, too, mth that
of another, of wliom I preserve too many memories to treat anything
lightly wherein he bears a part ; besides, there can be but little indis-
cretion in reading that to which I had attached my own signature.
And now, once more, Sir, how do I see it in your possession ?"

" Eeally, Mr. Cashel, when the question is put in this tone and
manner, I am much disposed to refuse an answer. I can see nothing
in our relative situations that can warrant the assumption of these
airs towards me."

" Shylock, again !" exclaimed Tiernay, who continued to pace the
room during this scene with hasty strides.

" Not so. Sir," said Cashel, as Hoai'e moved towards tlie door,
against which, Eoland now placing a chair, sat down. ". Out of this
room you shall not stir, till I hear a distinct and clear account of the
circumstances by which I find you in possession of this paper."

" Tou have no right, Sir, to demand such an answer."


" Possibly not, legally speaking," said Cash el, whose voice became
calmer and deeper as his passion increased. " You are more conver-
sant with .law than I am, and so I take it that your opinion is correct.
But I have the right which a good conscience and strong will beget,
and I teU you again, you'll not leave this room before you satisfy me,
or you'll not leave it living."

" I call you to witness, Dr. Tiernay," said Hoare, whose accents
trembled with fear and anger together, " that this is a case of false
imprisonment — that a threat against my life has been uttered, if I do
not surrender the possession of certain papers."

" Nothing of the kind," broke in Tiernay ; " there is no thought of
taking anything from you by force. Mr. Eoland Cashel — doubtless
for good reasons of his own — has asked you a question, which you,
demurring to answex-, he tells you that you shall not leave the room
till you do."

" And do you fancy, Sir, that such conduct is legal ?" cried Hoare.

"I cannot say," rejoined Tiernay; "but that it is far more mild
and merciful than I could have expected under the circumstances, I
am perfectly ready to aver."

" May I read the paper out?" said Hoare, with a malicious scowl
at Cashel.

" There is no need that you should, Sir," said Eoland; "its con-
tents are known to me, whom alone they concern."

" You can, I opine, have no objection that your friend, Dr. Tiernay,
should hear them ?"

" I repeat, Sir, that with the contents of that paper, neither you
nor any one else has any concern ; they relate to me, and to me alone."

" Then I must labour under some misapprehension," said Hoare,
aiFectedly ; " I had fancied there was another person at least equally

"Will you dare, Sir!" said Eoland; and in the thick guttural
latterance there was that which made the otlier tremble with fear.

" If the matter be one, then," said he, rallying into his former
assurance, " tliat you deem best kept secret, it would be perhaps a
judicious preliminary to any conversation on the subject, that Dr.
Tiernay should withdraw."

" I only await Mr. Cashel's pleasure," said Tiernay, moving towards
the door.

" Then you will remain, Sir," said Eoland, firmly. " Eemain, and
listen to what this gentleman has so menacingly alluded. Here it is :
it is the promise, given under my hand, that I will espouse the
daughter of a certain Don Pedro Eica, to whom, in the date herein
annexed, I have been this day betrothed ; or, in forfeiture of such
pledge, pay down the sum of seventy thousand dollars, thereby ob-
taining a full release from the conditions of the contract. It was the


rash pledge of a young and tliouglitless boy, with regard to one who
neither accepted liis afiection nor acknowledged the contract. I do
not say this to absolve myself from the forfeiture, which I am ready
to acquit this hour. I speak of it, that, as a man of honour, I may
not seem to pay a debt of feeling by a clieque on my banker."

" But this betrothal," said Tiernay ; " what does it imply ?"

" It is a ceremony common enough in Old Spain and her once

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 32)