It was one evening in the week previous to their departure, that she was on her return from Ballymacan, when on passing a bend of the road between Carriglass and Fenton's farm, she met the cause of the sorrow which oppressed her, in the handsome person of James Cavanaugh, to whom she had been for more than a year and a half deeply and devotedly attached, but without the knowledge of any individual living, save her lover himself and her brother Bryan.
On seeing him she naturally started, but it was a start of pleasure, and she felt her cheek flush and again get pale, and her heart palpitated, then was still a moment, and again resumed its tumultuous pulsations.
"Blessed be God, my darlin' Dora, that I've met you at last," said James; "in heaven's name how did it happen that we haven't met for such a length of time?"
"I'm sure that's more than I can tell," replied Dora, "or rather it's what both, you and I know the cause of too well."
"Ah, poor Dora," he exclaimed, "for your sake I don't wish to spake about it at all; it left me many a sore heart when I thought of you."
Dora's natural pale cheek mantled, and her eyes deepened with a beautiful severity, as she hastily turned them on him and said, "what do you mane, James?"
"About poor Bryan's conduct at the election," he replied, "and that fifty-pound note; and may hell consume it and him that tempted him with it!"
"Do you forget," she said, "that you're spaking to his sister that knows the falsehood of it all; an' how dare you in my presence attempt to say or think that Bryan M'Mahon would or could do a mane or dishonest act? I'm afeard, James, there's a kind of low suspicion in your family that's not right, and I have my reasons for thinking so. I fear there's a want of true generosity among you; and if I could be sure of it, I tell you now, that whatever it might cost me, I'd never—but what am I sayin'? that's past."
"Past! oh, why do you spake that way, Dora dear?"
"It's no matter what I may suffer myself," she replied; "no matter at all about that; but wanst and for all, I tell you that let what may happen, I'm not the girl to go into a family that have treated my dear brother as yours has done. Your sister's conduct has been very harsh and cruel to the man she was to be married to."
"My sister, Dora, never did anything but what was right."
"Well, then, let her go and marry the Pope, with reverence be it spoken, for I don't know any other husband that's fit for her. I'd like to see the girl that never did anything wrong; it's a sight I never saw yet, I know."
"Dora, dear," replied her lover, "I don't blame you for being angry. I know that such a load of disgrace upon any family is enough to put one past their temper. I don't care about that, however," he proceeded; "if he had betrayed his church and his country ten times over, an' got five hundred pounds instead of fifty, it wouldn't prevent me from makin' you my wife."
Her eyes almost emitted fire at this unconsciously offensive language of Cavanagh. She calmed herself, however, and assumed a manner that was cool and cuttingly ironical.
"Wouldn't you, indeed?" she replied; "dear me! I have a right to be proud of that; and so you'd be mane enough to marry into a family blackened by disgrace. I thought you had some decent pride, James."
"But you have done nothing wrong, Dora," he replied; "'you're free from any blame of that kind."
"I have done nothing wrong, haven't I?" she returned. "Ay, a thousand things—for, thank God, I'm not infallible like your sister. Haven't I supported my brother in every thing he did? and I tell you that if I had been in his place I'd just 'a' done what he did. What do you think o' me now?"
"Why, that every word you say, and every lively look—ay, or angry if you like—that you give—makes me love you more and more. An' plase God, my dear Dora, I hope soon to see you my own darlin' wife."
"That's by no means a certain affair, James; an' don't rely upon it. Before ever I become your wife Kathleen must change her conduct to my brother."
"'Deed and I'm afraid that shell never do, Dora."
"Then the sorra ring ever I'll put on you while there's, breath in my body."
"Why, didn't she give him three months to clear himself?"
"Did she, indeed? And do you think that any young man of spirit would pay attention to such a stilted pride as that? It was her business to send for him face to face, and to say—'Bryan M'Mahon, I never knew you or one of your family to tell a lie or do a dishonest or disgraceful act'—and here as she spoke the tears of that ancient integrity and hereditary pride which are more precious relics in a family than the costliest jewels that ever sparkled in the sun, sprang from her eyes—'and now, Bryan M'Mahon, I ax no man's word but your own—I ax no other evidence but your own—I put it to your conscience—to that honor that has never yet been tarnished by any of your family, I say I put it to yourself, here face to face with the girl that loves you—and answer me as you are in the presence of God—did you do what they charge you with? Did you do wrong knowingly and deliberately, and against your own conscience?"
The animated sparkle of her face was so delightful and fascinating that her lover attempted to press her to his bosom; but she would not suffer it.
"Behave now," she said firmly; "sorra bit—no," she proceeded; "and whilst all the world was against him, runnin' him down and blackenin' him—was she ever the girl to stand up behind his back and defend him like a—hem—defend him, I say, as a girl that loved him ought, and a generous-girl would?"
"But how could she when she believed, him to be wrong?"
"Why did she believe him to be wrong upon mere hearsay? and granting that he was wrong! do you think now if you had done what they say he did (and they lie that say it), an' that I heard the world down on you for your first slip, do you think, I say, that I'd not defend you out of clane contrariness,—and to vex them—ay, would I."
"I know, darlin', that you'd do everything that's generous an' right; but settin' that affair aside, my dear Dora, what are you and I to do?"
"I don't know what we're to do," she replied; "it's useless for you to ax me from my father now; for he wouldn't give me to you,—sorra bit."
"But you'll give me yourself, Dora, darling."
"Not without his consent, no nor with it,—as the families stand this moment; for I tell you again that the sorra ring ever I'll put on you till your sister sends for my brother, axes his pardon, and makes up with him, as she ought to do. Oh why, James dear, should she be so harsh upon him," she said, softening at once; "she that is so good an' so faultless afther all? but I suppose that's the raison of it—she doesn't know what it is to do anything that's not right."
"Dora," said her lover, "don't be harsh on Kathleen; you don't know what she's sufferin'. Dora, her heart's broke—broke."
The tears were already upon Dora's cheeks, and her lover, too, was silent for a moment.
"She has," resumed the warm-hearted girl, "neither brother nor sister that loves her, or can love her, better than I do, afther all."
"But in our case, darling, what's to be done?" he asked, drawing her gently towards him.
"I'll tell you then what I'd recommend you to do," she replied; "spake to my brother Bryan, and be guided by him. I must go now, it's quite dusk."
There was a moment's pause, then a gentle remonstrance on the part of Dora, followed, however, by that soft sound which proceeds from the pressure of youthful lips—after which she bade her lover a hasty good-night and hurried home.
CHAPTER XXV.—The Old Places—Death of a Patriarch.
As the day appointed for the auction of the M'Mahon's stock, furniture, etc., etc., at Carriglass drew near, a spirit of deep and unceasing distress settled upon the whole family. It had not been their purpose to apprise the old man of any intention on their part to emigrate at all, and neither indeed had they done so. The fact, however, reached him from the neighbors, several of whom, ignorant that it was the wish of his family to conceal the circumstance from him—at least as long as they could—entered into conversation with him upon it, and by this means he became acquainted with their determination. Age, within the last few months—for he was now past ninety—had made sad work with both his frame and intellect. Indeed, for some time past, he might be said to hover between reason and dotage. Decrepitude had set in with such ravages on his constitution that it could almost be marked by daily stages. Sometimes he talked with singular good sense and feeling; but on other occasions he either babbled quite heedlessly, or his intellect would wander back to scenes and incidents of earlier life, many of which he detailed with a pathos that was created and made touching by the unconsciousness of his own state while relating them. They also observed that of late he began to manifest a child-like cunning in many things connected with himself and family, which, though amusing from its very simplicity, afforded at the same time a certain indication that the good old grandfather whom they all loved so well, and whose benignant character had been only mellowed by age into a more plastic affection for them all, was soon to be removed from before their eyes, never again to diffuse among them that charm of domestic truth and love, and the holy influences of all those fine old virtues which ancestral integrity sheds over the heart, and transmits pure and untarnished from generation to generation.
On the day he made the discovery of their intention, he had been sitting on a bench in the garden, a favorite seat of his for many a long year previously; "And so," said he to the neighbor with whom he had been speaking, "you tell me that all our family is goin' to America?"
"Why, dear me," replied his acquaintance, "is it possible you didn't know it?"
"Ha!" he exclaimed, "I undherstand now why they used to be whisperin' together so often, and lookin' at me; but indeed they might spake loud enough now, for I'm so deaf that I can hardly hear anything. Howaniver, Ned, listen—they all intend to go, you say; now listen, I say—I know one that won't go; now, do you hear that? You needn't say anything about it, but this I tell you—listen to me, what's your name? Barney, is it?"
"Why, is it possible, you don't know Ned Gormley?"
"Ay, Ned Gormley—och, so it is. Well listen, Ned—there's one they won't bring; I can tell you that—the sorra foot I'll go to—to—where's this you say they're goin' to, Jemmy?"
Gormley shook his head. "Poor Bryan," said he, "it's nearly all over wid you, at any rate. To America, Bryan," he repeated, in a loud voice.
"Ay, to America. Well, the sorra foot ever I'll go to America—that one thing I can tell them. I'm goin' in. Oh! never mind," he exclaimed, on Gormley offering him assistance, "I'm stout enough still; stout an' active still; as soople as a two-year ould, thank God. Don't I bear up wonderfully?"
"Well, indeed you do, Bryan; it is wonderful, sure enough."
In a few minutes they arrived at the door; and the old man, recovering as it were a portion of his former intellect, said, "lavin' this place—these houses—an' goin' away—far, far away—to a strange country—to strange people! an' to bring me, the ould white-haired grandfather, away from all! that would be cruel; but my son Tom will never do it."
"Well, at any rate, Bryan," said his neighbor, "whether you go or stay, God be wid you. It's a pity, God knows, that the like of you and your family should leave the country; and sure if the landlord, as they say, is angry about it, why doesn't he do what he ought to do? an' why does he allow that smooth-tongued rap to lead him by the nose as he does? Howandiver, as I said, whether you go or stay, Bryan, God be wid you!"
During all that morning Thomas M'Mahon had been evidently suffering very deeply from a contemplation of the change that was about to take place by the departure of himself and his family from Carriglass. He had been silent the greater part of the morning, and not unfrequently forced to give away to tears, in which he was joined by his daughters, with the exception of Dora, who, having assumed the office of comforter, felt herself bound to maintain the appearance of a firmness which she did not feel. In this mood he was when "grandfather," as they called him, entered the house, after having been made acquainted with their secret. "Tom," said he, approaching his son, "sure you wouldn't go to bring an ould man away?"
"Where to, father?" asked the other, a good deal alarmed.
"Why, to America, where you're all goin' to. Oh! surely you wouldn't bring the old man away from the green fields of Carriglass? Would you lay my white head in a strange land, an' among a strange people? Would you take poor ould grandfather away from them that expects him down, at Carndhu where they sleep? Carndhu's a holy churchyard. Sure there never was a Protestant buried in it but one, an' the next mornin' there was a boortree bush growin' out o' the grave, an' it's there yet to prove the maricle. Oh! ay, Carndhu's holy ground, an' that's where I must sleep."
These words were uttered with a tone of such earnest and childlike entreaty as rendered them affecting in a most extraordinary degree, and doubly so to those who heard him. Thomas's eyes, despite of every effort to the contrary, filled with tears. "Ah!" he exclaimed, "he has found it out at last; but how can I give him consolation, an' I stands in need of it so much myself?"
"Father," said he, rising and placing the old man in the arm-chair, which for the last half century had been his accustomed seat, "father, we will go together—we will all be wid you. You'll not be among strangers—you'll have your own about you still."
"But what's takin' you all away?"
"Neglect and injustice, an' the evil tongues of them that ought to know us betther. The landlord didn't turn out to be what he ought to be. May God forgive him! But at any rate I'm sure he has been misled."
"Ould Chevydale," said his father, "never was a bad landlord, an' he'd not become a bad one now. That's not it."
"But the ould man's dead, father, an' its his son we're spakin' of."
"And the son of ould Chevydale must have something good about him. The heart was always right wid his father, and every one knows there's a great deal in true blood. Sooner or later it'll tell for itself—but what is this? There was something troublin' me this minute. Oh! ay, you're goin' away, then, to America; but, mark my words:—I won't go. You may, but I'll stay here. I won't lave the green fields of Carriglass for any one. It's not much I'll be among them now, an' it isn't worth your while to take me from them. Here's where I was born—here's where the limbs that's now stiff an' feeble was wanst young and active—here's where the hair that's white as snow was fair an' curlin' like goold—here's where I was young—here's where I grew ould—among these dark hills and green fields—here you all know is where I was born; and, in spite o' you all, here's where I'll die."
The old man was much moved by all these recollections; for, as he proceeded, the tears fell fast from his aged eyes, and his voice became tremulous and full of 'sorrow.
"Wasn't it here, too," he proceeded, "that Peggy Slevin, she that was famed far an' near for her beauty, and that the sweet song was made upon—'Peggy Na Laveen'—-ay—ay, you may think yourselves fine an' handsome; but, where was there sich a couple as grandfather and Peggy Na Laveen was then?"
As he uttered these words, his features that had been impressed by grief, were lit up by a smile of that simple and harmless vanity which often attends us to the very grave; after which he proceeded:—
"There, on the side of that hill is the roofless house where she was born; an' there's not a field or hill about the place that her feet didn't make holy to me. I remember her well. I see her, an' I think I hear her voice on the top of Lisbane, ringin' sweetly across the valley of the Mountain Wather, as I often did. An' is it to take me away now from all this? Oh! no, childre', the white-haired grandfather couldn't go. He couldn't lave the ould places—the ould places. If he did, he'd die—he'd die. Oh, don't, for God's sake, Tom, as you love me!"
There was a spirit of helpless entreaty in these last words that touched his son, and indeed all who heard him, to the quick.
"Grandfather dear, be quiet," he replied; "God will direct all things for the best. Don't cry," he added, for the old man was crying like an infant; "don't cry, but be quiet, and everything will be well in time. It's a great trial, I know; but any change is better than to remain here till we come, like so many others, to beggary. God will support us, father."
The old man wiped his eyes, and seemed as if he had taken comfort from the words of his son; whereas, the fact was, that his mind had altogether passed from the subject; but not without that unconscious feeling of pain which frequently remains after the recollection of that which has occasioned it has passed away.
It was evident, from the manner of the old man, that the knowledge of their intended emigration had alarmed into action all the dormant instincts of his nature; but this was clearly more than they were competent to sustain for any length of time. Neither the tottering frame, nor the feeble mind was strong enough to meet the shock which came so unexpectedly upon them. The consequence may be easily anticipated. On the following day he was able to be up only for an hour; yet he was not sick, nor did he complain of any particular pain. His only malady appeared to consist in that last and general prostration of bodily and intellectual strength, by which persons of extreme old age, who have enjoyed uninterrupted health, are affected at, or immediately preceding their dissolution. His mind, however, though wandering and unsteady, was vigorous in such manifestations as it made. For instance, it seemed to be impressed by a twofold influence,—the memory of his early life,—mingled with a vague perception of present anxiety, the cause of which he occasionally was able to remember, but as often tried to recollect in vain.
On the second day after his discovery he was unable to rise at all; but, as before, he complained of nothing, neither were his spirits depressed. On the contrary they were rather agitated—sometimes into cheerfulness, but more frequently into an expression of sorrow and lamentation, which were, however, blended with old by-gone memories that were peculiarly reflecting to those who heard them. In this way he went on, sinking gradually until the day previous to the auction. On that morning, to their surprise, he appeared to have absolutely regained new strength, and to have been gifted with something like renovated power of speech.
"I want to get up," said he, "and it's only Tom an' Dora that I'll allow to help me. You're all good, an' wor always good to grandfather, but Tom was my best son, and signs on it—everything thruv wid him, an' God will prosper an' bless him. Where's Dora?"
"Ay, that's the voice above all o' them that went like music to my heart; but well I know, and always did, who you have that voice from; ay, an' I know whose eyes—an' it's them that's the lovely eyes—Dora has. Isn't the day fine, Dora?"
"It is, grandfather, a beautiful day."
"Ay, thank God. Well then I want to go out till I look—take one look at the ould places; for somehow I think my heart was never so much in them as now."
It is impossible to say how or why the feeling prevailed, but the fact was, that the whole family were impressed with a conviction that this partial and sudden restoration of his powers was merely what is termed the lightening before death, and the consequence was, that every word he spoke occasioned their grief, for the loss of the venerable and virtuous patriarch, to break out with greater force. When he was dressed he called Dora to aid her father in bringing him out, which she did with streaming eyes and sobbings that she could scarcely restrain. After having reached a little green eminence that commanded a glorious view of the rich country beneath and around them, he called for his chair; "an', Bryan," said he, "the manly and honest-hearted, do you bring it to me. A blessin' will follow you, Bryan—a blessin' will follow my manly grandson, that I often had a proud heart out of. An'; Bryan," he proceeded, when the latter had returned with the chair and placed him in it, "listen, Bryan—when you and Kathleen Cavanagh's married—but I needn't say it—where was there one of your name to do an unmanly thing in that respect?—but when you and Kathleen's married, be to her as your own father was to her that's gone—ever and always kind and lovin', an' what your grandfather that's now spaking to you, maybe for the last time, was to her that's long, long an angel in heaven—my own Peggy Slevin—but it's the Irish sound of it I like—Peggy Na Laveen. Bring them all out here—but what is this?—why are you all cryin'? Sure; there's nothing wrong—an' why do you cry?"
The other members of the family then assembled with tearful faces, and the good old man proceeded:—
"Thomas M'Mahon, stand before me." The latter, with uncovered head, did so; and his father resumed:—"Thomas M'Mahon, you're the only livin' son I have, an' I'm now makin' my Will. I lave this farm of Carriglass to you, while you live, wid all that's on it and in it;—that is, that I have any right to lave you—I lave it to you wid my blessin', and may God grant you long life and health to enjoy it. Ahadarra isn't mine to give, but, Bryan, it's your's; an' as I said to your father, God grant you health and long life to enjoy it, as he will to both o' you."
"Oh! little you know, grandfather dear," replied Shibby, "that we've done wid both of them for ever."
"Shibby, God bless you, achora," he returned; "but the ould man's lips can spake nothing now but the truth; an' my blessin' an' my wish, comin' from the Almighty as they do, won't pass away like common words." He then paused for a few minutes, but appeared to take a comprehensive view of the surrounding country.
"But, grandfather," proceeded simple-hearted Shibby, "sure the match between Bryan and Kathleen Cavanagh is broken up, an' they're not to be married at all."
"Don't I say, darlin', that they will be married, an' be happy—ay, an' may God make them happy! as He will, blessed be His holy name! God, acushla, can bring about everything in His own good way."
After another pause of some minutes he murmured to himself—"Peggy Na Laveen—Peggy Na Laveen—how far that name has gone! Turn me round a little. What brought us here, childre'? Oh! ay—I wanted to see the ould places—there's Claghleim, where the walls of the house she was born in, and the green garden, is both to the fore; yet I hope they won't be disturbed, if it was only for the sake of them that's gone; an' there's the rock on the top of Lisbane,where, in the summer evening, long, long ago, I used to sit an' listen to Peggy Na Laveen singin' over our holy songs—the darlin' ould songs of the counthry. Oh! clear an' sweet they used to ring across the glen of the Mountain Wather. An' there's the hills an' the fields where she an' I so often sported when we wor both young; there they are, an' many a happy day we had on them; but sure God was good to us, blessed be His name, as He ever will be to them that's obadient to His holy will!"
As he uttered the last words he clasped his two hands together, and, having closed his eyes, he muttered something internally which they could not understand. "Now," said he, "bring me in again; I have got my last look at them all—the ould places, the brave ould places! oh, who would lave them for any other country? But at any rate, Tom, achora, don't take me away from them; sure you wouldn't part me from the green fields of Carriglass? Sure you'd not take me from the blessed graveyard of Carndhu, where we all sleep. I couldn't rest in a sthrange grave, nor among strange people; I couldn't rest, barrin' I'm wid her, Peggy Na Laveen." These words he uttered after his return into the house.
"Grandfather," said Bryan, "make your mind aisy; we won't take you from the brave ould places, and you will sleep in Carndhu with Peggy Na Laveen; make your heart and mind easy, then, for you won't be parted."
He turned his eyes upon the speaker, and a gleam of exultation and delight settled upon his worn but venerable features; nor did it wholly pass away, for, although his chin sank upon his breast, yet the placid expression remained. On raising his head they perceived that this fine and patriarchal representative of the truthful integrity and simple manners of a bygone class had passed into a life where neither age nor care can oppress the spirit, and from whose enjoyment no fear of separation can ever disturb it.
It is unnecessary to describe the sorrow which they felt. It must be sufficient to say that seldom has grief for one so far advanced in years been so sincere and deep. Age, joined to the knowledge of his affectionate heart and many virtues, had encircled him with a halo of love and pious veneration which caused his disappearance from among them to be felt, as if a lamb of simple piety and unsullied truth had been removed from their path for ever.
That, indeed, was a busy and a melancholy day with the M'Mahons; for, in addition to the death of the old grandfather, they were obliged to receive farewell visits to no end from their relations, neighbors, and acquaintances. Indeed it would be difficult to find a family in a state of greater distress and sorrow. The auction, of course, was postponed for a week—that is, until after the old man's funeral—and the consequence was that circumstances, affecting the fate of our dramatis personae had time to be developed, which would otherwise have occurred too late to be available for the purposes of our narrative. This renders it necessary that we should return to a period in it somewhat anterior to that at which we have now arrived.
CHAPTEE XXVI.—Containing a Variety of Matters.
Our readers cannot have forgotten the angry dialogue which Kate Hogan and her male relations indulged in upon the misunderstanding that had occurred between the Cavanaghs and M'Mahons, and its imputed cause. We stated at the time that Hycy Burke and the Hogans, together with a strange man and woman, were embarked in some mysterious proceedings from which both Kate Hogan and Teddy Phats had been excluded. For some time, both before and after that night, there had been, on the other hand, a good, deal of mysterious communication between several of our other characters. For instance Kate Hogan and Nanny Peety had had frequent interviews, to which, in the course of time, old Peety, Teddy Phats, and, after him, our friend the schoolmaster had been admitted. Nanny Peety had also called on Father Magowan, and, after him, upon young Clinton; and it was evident, from the result of her disclosures to the two latter, that they also took a warm interest, and were admitted to a participation in, the councils we mention. To these proceedings Clinton had not been long privy when he began to communicate with Vanston, who, on his part, extended the mystery to Chevydale, between whom and himself several confidential interviews had already taken place. Having thrown out these hints to our readers, we beg them to accompany us once more to the parlor of Clinton the gauger and his nephew.
"So, uncle, now that you have been promoted to the Supervisorship, you abandon the farm; you abandon Ahadarra?"
"Why, won't I be out of the district, you blockhead? and you persist in refusing it besides."
"Most positively; but I always suspected that Fethertonge was a scoundrel, as his conduct in that very business with you was a proo—hem, ahem."
"Go on," said the uncle, coolly, "don't be ashamed, Harry; I was nearly as great a scoundrel in that business as he was. I told you before that I look upon the world as one great pigeon, which every man who can, without exposing, himself, is obliged to pluck. Now, in the matter of the farm, I only was about to pluck out a feather or two to put in my own nest—or yours, if you had stood it."
"At any rate, uncle, I must admit that you are exceedingly candid."
"No such thing, you fool; there is scarcely an atom of candor in my whole composition—I mean to the world, whatever I may be to you. Candor, Harry, my boy, is a virtue which very few in this life, as it goes, can afford to practice—at least I never could."
"Well but, uncle, is it not a pity to see that honest family ruined and driven out of the country by the villany of Burke on the one hand, and the deliberate fraud and corruption of Fethertonge, on the other. However, now that you are resolved to unmask Fethertonge, I am satisfied. It's a proof that you don't wish to see an honest family oppressed and turned, without reasonable compensation, out of their property."
"It's a proof of no such thing, I tell you. I don't care the devil had the M'Mahons; but I am bound to this ninnyhammer of a landlord, who has got me promoted, and who promises, besides, to get an appointment for you. I cannot see him, I say, fleeced and plucked by this knavish agent, who winds him about his finger like a thread; and, as to those poor honest devils of M'Mahons, stop just a moment and I will show you a document that may be of some value to them. You see, Fethertonge, in order to enhance the value of his generosity to myself, or, to come nearer the truth, the value of Ahadarra, was the means of placing a document, which I will immediately show you, in my hands."
He went to his office or study, and, after some search, returned and handed the other a written promise of the leases of Ahadarra and Carriglass, respectively, to Thomas M'Mahon and his son Bryan, at a certain reasonable rent offered by each for their separate holdings.
"Now," he proceeded, "there's a document which proves Fethertonge, notwithstanding his knavery, to be an ass; otherwise he would have reduced it to ashes long ago; and, perhaps, after having turned it to his account, he would have done so, were it not that I secured it. Old Chevydale, it appears, not satisfied with giving his bare word, strove, the day before he died, to reduce his promise about the lease to writing, which he did, and entrusted it to the agent for the M'Mahons, to whom, of course, it was never given."
"But what claim had you to it, uncle?"
"Simply, if he and I should ever come to a misunderstanding, that I might let him know he was in my power, by exposing his straightforward methods of business; that's all. However, about the web that this fellow Burke has thrown around these unfortunate devils the M'Mahons, and those other mighty matters that you told of, let me hear exactly what it is all about and how they stand. You say there is likely to be hanging or transportation among them."
"Why, the circumstances, sir, are these, as nearly as I am in possession of them:—There is or was, at least a day or two ago, a very pretty girl—"
"Ay, ay—no fear but there must be that in it; go along."
"A very pretty girl, named Nanny Peety, a servant in old Jemmy Burke's, Hycy's father. It appears that his virtuous son Hycy tried all the various stratagems of which he is master to debauch the morals of this girl, but without success. Her virtue was incorruptible."
"Ahem! get along, will you, and pass that over."
"Well, I know that's another of your crotchets, uncle; but no matter, I should be sorry, from respect to my mother's memory, to agree with you there: however to proceed; this Nanny Peety at length—that is about a week ago—was obliged to disclose to her father the endless persecution which she had to endure at the hands of Hycy Burke; and in addition to that disclosure, came another, to the effect that she had been for a considerable period aware of a robbery which took place in old Burke's—you may remember the stir it made—and which robbery was perpetrated by Bat Hogan, one of these infamous tinkers that live in Gerald Cavanagh's kiln, and under the protection of his family. The girl's father—who, by the way, is no other than the little black visaged mendicant who goes about the country—"
"I know him—proceed."
"Her father, I say, on hearing these circumstances, naturally indignant at Hycy Burke for his attempts to corrupt the principles of his daughter, brought the latter with him to Father Magowan, in whose presence she stated all she knew; adding, that she had secured Bat Hogan's hat and shoes, which, in his hurry, he had forgotten on the night of the robbery. She also requested the priest to call upon me, 'as she felt certain,' she said, 'in consequence of a letter of Burke's which I happened to see as she carried it to the post-office, that I could throw some light upon his villany. He did so.' It was on that affair the priest called here the other day, and I very candidly disclosed to him the history of that letter, and its effect in causing the seizure of the distillery apparatus—the fact being that everything was got up by Hycy himself—I mean at his cost, with a view to ruin M'Mahon. And this I did the more readily, as the scoundrel has gone far to involve me in the conduct imputed to M'Mahon, as his secret abbettor and enemy."
"Well," observed his uncle, "all that's a very pretty affair as it stands; but what are you to do next?"
"There is worse behind, I can assure you," continued his nephew. "Hycy Burke, who is proverbially extravagant, having at last, in an indirect way, ruined young M'Mahon, from the double motive of ill-will and a wish to raise money by running illicit spirits—"
"The d—d scoundrel!" exclaimed the gauger, seized with a virtuous fit of (professional) indignation, "that fellow would scruple at nothing—proceed."
"By the way," observed the other, rather maliciously, "he made a complete tool of you in M'Mahon's affair."
"He did, the scoundrel," replied his uncle, wincing a good deal; "but, as the matter was likely to turn up, he was only working out my purposes."
"He is in a bad mess now, however," continued his nephew.
"Why, is there worse to come?"
"This same Nanny Peety, you must know, is a relative, it seems, to Bat Hogan's wife. For some time past there has come a strange man named Vincent, and his wife, to reside in the neighborhood, and this fellow in conjunction with the Hogans, was managing some secret proceedings which no one can penetrate. Now, it appears that Hogan's wife, who has been kept out of this secret, got Nanny Peety to set her father to work in order to discover it. Peety, by the advice of Hogan's wife, called in Teddy Phat's—"
"What's that? Teddy Phats? Now, by the way, Harry, don't abuse poor Teddy. You will be surprised, Hal, when I tell you that he and I have played into each other's hands for years. Yes, my boy, and I can assure you that, owing to him, both Fethertonge and I were aware of Hycy's Burke's plot against M'Mahon long before he set it a-going. The fellow, however, will certainly be hanged yet."
"Faith, sir," replied Harry, "instead of being hanged himself, he's likely to hang others. In consequence of an accidental conversation which Teddy Phats, and Finigan the tippling schoolmaster had, concerning Vincent, the stranger I spoke of, who, it appears, lives next to Finigan's school-house, Teddy discovered, through the pedagogue, who, by the way, is abroad at all hours, that the aforesaid Vincent was in the habit of going up every night to the most solitary part of the mountains, but for what purpose, except upon another distillation affair, he could not say."
The old gauger or supervisor, as he now considered himself, became here so comically excited—or, we should rather say, so seriously excited—that it was with difficulty the nephew could restrain his laughter. He moved as if his veins had been filled with quicksilver, his eyes brightened, and his naturally keen and knavish-looking features were sharpened, as it were, into an expression so acutely sinister, that he resembled a staunch old hound who comes unexpectedly upon the fresh slot of a hare.
"Well," said he, rubbing his hands—"well, go on—what happened? Do you hear, Harry? What happened? Of course they're at the distillation again. Don't you hear me, I say? What was the upshot?"
"Why, the upshot was," replied the other, "that nothing of sufficient importance has been discovered yet; but we have reason to suppose that they're engaged in the process of forgery or coining, as they were in that of illicit distillation under the patronage of the virtuous Hycy Burke, or Hycy the accomplished, as he calls himself."
"Tut, tut!" exclaimed Clinton, disappointed—"so after all, there has been nothing done?"
"Oh, yes, there has been something done; for instance, all these matters have been laid before Mr. Vanston, and he has had two or three interviews with Chevydale, in whose estimation he has exonerated young M'Mahon from the charge of bribery and ingratitude. Fethertonge holds such a position now with his employer that an infant's breath would almost blow him out of his good opinion."
"I'll tell you what, Harry, I think you have it in your power among you to punish these rogues; and I think, too, it's a pity that Fethertonge should escape. A breath will dislodge him, you say; but for fear it should not, we will give him a breeze."
"I am to meet Vanston at Chevydale's by-and-by, uncle. There's to be an investigation there; and by the way, allow me to bring Hycy's anonymous letter with me—it may serve an honest man and help to punish a rogue. What if you would come down with me, and give him the breeze?"
"Well," replied the uncle, "for the novelty of the thing I don't care if I do. I like, after all, to see a rogue punished, especially when he is not prepared for it."
After a little delay they repaired to Chevydale's house, armed with Hycy's anonymous letter to Clinton, as well as with the document which the old squire, as he was called, had left for Thomas M'Mahon and his son. They found the two gentlemen on much better terms than one would have expected; but, in reality, the state of the country was such as forced them to open their eyes not merely to the folly of harboring mere political resentments or senseless party prejudices against each other, but to the absolute necessity that existed for looking closely into the state of their property, and the deplorable condition to which, if they did not take judicious and decisive steps, it must eventually be reduced. They now began to discover a fact which they ought, long since, to have known—viz.:—that the condition of the people and that of their property was one and the same—perfectly identical in all things; and that a poor tenantry never yet existed upon a thriving or independent estate, or one that was beneficial to the landlord.
Vanston had been with his late opponent for some time before the arrival of Clinton and his nephew; and, as their conversation may not, perhaps, be without some interest to our readers, we shall detail a portion of it.
"So," says Vanston, "you are beginning to feel that there is something wrong on your property, and that your agent is not doing you justice?"
"I have reason to suspect," replied Chevydale, "that he is neither more nor less than feathering his own nest at the expense of myself and my tenantry. I cannot understand why he is so anxious to get the M'Mahons off the estate; a family unquestionably of great honesty, truth, and integrity, and who, I believe, have been on the property before it came into our possession at all. I feel—excuse me, Vanston, for the admission, but upon my honor it is truth—I feel, I say, that, in the matter of the election—that is, so far as M'Mahon was concerned, he—my agent—made a cat's paw of me. He prevented me from supporting young M'Mahon's memorial; he—he—prejudiced me against the family in several ways, and now, that I am acquainted with the circumstances of strong and just indignation against me under which M'Mahon voted, I can't at all blame him. I would have done the same thing myself."
"There is d——d villany somewhere at work," replied Vanston. "They talk of a fifty-pound note that I am said to have sent to him by post. Now, I pledge my honor as an honest man and a gentleman, that I have sifted and examined all my agents, and am satisfied that he never received a penny from me. Young Burke did certainly promise to secure me his vote; but I have discovered Burke to be a most unprincipled profligate, corrupt and dishonest. For, you may think it strange that, although he engaged to procure me M'Mahon's vote, M'Mahon himself, whom I believe, assured me that he never even asked him for it, until after he had overheard, in the head inn, a conversation concerning himself that filled him with bitter resentment against you and your agent."
"I remember it," replied Chevydale, "and; yet my agents told me that Burke did everything in his power to prevent M'Mahon from voting for you."
"That," replied the other, "was to preserve his own character from the charge of inconsistency; for, I again assure you that he had promised us M'Mahon's vote, and that he urged him privately to vote against you. But d—n the scoundrel, he is not worth the conversation we had about him. Father Magowan, in consequence of whose note to me I wrote to ask you here, states in the communication I had from him, that the parties will be here about twelve o'clock—Burke himself, he thinks, and M'Mahon along with the rest. The priest wishes to have these Hogans driven out of the parish—a wish in which I most cordially join him. I hope we shall soon rid the country of him and his villanous associates. Talking of the country, what is to be done?"
"Simply," replied Chevydale, "that we, the landed proprietors of Ireland, should awake out of our slumbers, and forgetting those vile causes of division and subdivision that have hitherto not only disunited us, but set us together by the ears, we should take counsel among ourselves, and after due and serious deliberation, come to the determination that it is our duty to prevent Irish interests from being made subservient to English interests, and from being legislated for upon English principles."
"I hope, Chevydale, you are not about to become a Repealer."
"No, sir; I am, and ever have been sickened by that great imposture. Another half century would scarcely make us fit for home legislation. When we look at the conduct of our Irish members in the British Parliament—I allude now, with few exceptions, to the Repeal members—what hope can we entertain of honesty and love of country from such men? When we look, too, at many of our Corporations and strike an average of their honesty and intellect, have we not a right to thank God that the interests of our country are not confided to the management of such an arrogant, corrupt, and vulgar crew as in general compose them. The truth is, Vanston, we must become national in our own defense, and whilst we repudiate, with a firm conviction of the folly on the one hand, and the dishonesty on the other, of those who talk about Repeal, we shall find it our best policy to forget the interests of any particular class, and suffer ourselves to melt down into one great principle of national love and good-will toward each other. Let us only become unanimous, and England will respect us as she did when we were unanimous upon other occasions."
"I feel, and am perfectly sensible of the truth of what you say," replied Vanston, "and I am certain that, in mere self-defence, we must identify ourselves with the people whose interests most unquestionably are ours."
"As to myself," continued Chevydale, "I fear I have much to repair in my conduct as an Irish landlord. I have been too confiding and easy—in fact, I have not thought for myself; but been merely good or evil, according to the caprice of the man who managed me, and whom, up until now, I did not suspect."
"The man, my good friend, is probably not worse in general than others," replied Vanston; "but the truth is, that there has been such a laxity of management in Irish property—such indifference and neglect upon our part, and such gross ignorance of our duties, that agents were, and in most cases are, at liberty to act as they please in our names, and under show of our authority; you can scarcely suppose this man, consequently, much worse than others who are placed in similar circumstances."
The dialogue was here interrupted by the entrance of old Clinton and his nephew; but, as our readers are already in possession of the proofs they brought against Hycy Burke and Fethertonge, it is not necessary that we should detail there conversation at full length.
"I must confess," said Clinton, "that I would have some reason to feel ashamed of my part in the transactions with respect to Ahadarra, were it not, in the first place, that I have never been much afflicted with the commodity; and, in the next, that these transactions are too common to excite any feeling one way or the other."
"But you must have known, Clinton," said Chevydale, "that it was a most iniquitous thing in you to enter into a corrupt bargain with a dishonest agent for the property which you knew to belong to another man."
"What other man, Mr. Chevydale? Had not M'Mahon's lease expired?"
"But had you not in your own possession my father's written promise—written, too, on his death-bed—to these honest men, that they should have their leases renewed?"
"Yes, but that was your agent's affair, and his dishonesty, too, not mine."
"As much yours as his; and, by the way, I don't see upon what principle you, who are equally involved with him in the profligacy of the transaction, should come to bear testimony against him now. They say there is honor among thieves, but I see very little of it here."
"Faith, to tell you the truth," replied Clinton, "as I said to Harry here, because I like to see a rogue punished, especially when he is not prepared for it."
"Well," said Chevydale, with a very solemn ironical smile, "I am myself very much of your way of thinking; and, as a proof of it, I beg to say that, as your appointment to the office of Supervisor has not yet been made out, I shall write to my brother, the Commissioner, to take care that it never shall. To procure the promotion of a man who can deliberately avow his participation in such shameless profligacy would be to identify myself with it. You have been doubly treacherous, Mr. Clinton; first to me, whom you know to be your friend, and, in the next place, to the unfortunate partner in your villany, and at my expense; for d——d if I can call it less. What noise is that?"
Clinton the elder here withdrew, and had scarcely disappeared when two voices were heard in the hall, in a kind of clamorous remonstrance with each other, which voices were those of Father Magowan and our friend O'Finigan, as we must now call him, inasmuch as he is, although early in the day, expanded with that hereditary sense of dignity which will not allow the great O to be suppressed.
"Behave, and keep quiet, now," said his Reverence, "you unfortunate pedagogue you; I tell you that you are inebriated."
"Pardon me, your Reverence," replied O'Finigan; "non ebrius sed vino gravatus, devil a thing more."
"Get out, you profligate," replied the priest, "don't you know that either, at this time o' day, is too bad?"
"Nego, dominie—nego, Dominie revendre—denial is my principle, I say. Do you assert that there's no difference between ebrius and gravatus vino?"
"In your case, you reprobate, I do. Where would you get the vino? However," he proceeded, "as you are seldom sober, and as I know it is possible you may have something of importance to say on a particular subject, I suppose you may as well say it now as any other time, and it's likely we may get more truth out of you."
"Ay," said the schoolmaster, "upon the principle that in vino veritas; but you know that gravatus vino and ebrius are two different things—gravatus vino, the juice o' the grape—och, och, as every one knows, could and stupid; but ebrius from blessed poteen, that warms and gives ecstatic nutrition to the heart."
The altercation proceeded for a little, but, after a short remonstrance and bustle, the priest, followed by O'Finigan, entered the room.
"Gentlemen," said the priest, "I trust you will excuse me for the society in which I happen to appear before you; but the truth is that this Finigan—"
"Pardon me, your Reverence, O'Finigan if you plaise; we have been shorn of—"
"Well, then, since he will have it so, this O'Finigan is really inebriated, and I cannot exactly say why, in this state, his presence can be of any advantage to us."
"He says," replied the master, "that I am ebrius, whereas I replied that I was only vino gravatus, by which I only meant quasi vino gravatus; but the truth is, gentlemen, that I'm never properly sober until I'm half seas over—for it is then that I have all my wits properly about me."
"In fact, gentleman," proceeded the priest, "in consequence of certain disclosures that have reached me with reference to these Hogans, I deemed it my duty to bring Nanny Peety before Mr. Chevydale here. She is accompanied by Kate Hogan, the wife of one of these ruffians, who refuses to be separated from her—and insists, consequently, on coming along with her. I don't exactly know what her motive may be in this; but I am certain she has a motive. It is a gratification to me, however, to find, gentlemen, that you both happen to be present upon this occasion. I sent word to Hycy Burke and to Bryan M'Mahon; for I thought it only fair that Hycy should be present, in order to clear himself in case any charge may be brought against him. I expect M'Mahon, too."
"Let us remove, then, to my office," said, Chevydale—"it is now a few minutes past twelve, and I dare say they will soon be here."
They accordingly did so; and, as he had said, the parties almost immediately made their appearance.
"Now, gentlemen," said Father Magowan, "I am of opinion that the best way is for this girl to state what she knows concerning these Hogans; but I think I can now persave the raison why Kate Hogan has made it a point to come with her. It is quite evident from her manner that she wishes to intimidate this girl, and to prevent her from stating fully and truly what she knows."
"No," replied Kate, "it is no such thing—she must either state the whole truth or nothing; that's what I want, an' what she must do—put the saddle on the right horse, Nanny—since you will spake."
"It is a good proverbial illustration," observed Finigan, "but I will improve it—put the saddle of infamy, I say, upon the right horse, Nanny. You see, gintlemen," he added, turning to the magistrates, "my improvement elevates the metaphor—proceed, girsha."
"Gentlemen," said Hycy, "I received a note from Father Magowan informing me that it was probable certain charges might be brought against me—or at least some complaints made," he added, softening the expression—"and I should be glad to know what they are all about, before this girl commences formally to state them; I say so in order that I may not be taken by surprise."
"You know," replied the priest, "that you cannot be taken by surprise; because I myself told you the substance of the strong suspicions that are against you."
Bryan M'Mahon now entered, and was cordially greeted by Vanston—and we may add rather kindly, in manner at least, by Chevydale.
"By the way," asked the former of these gentlemen, "does this investigation bear in any way upon your interests, M'Mahon?"
"Not, sir, so far as I am aware of—I come here because Father Magowan wished me to come. I have no interests connected with this country now," he added in a tone of deep melancholy, "there's an end to that for ever."
"Now, my good girl," said Chevydale, "you will state all you know connected with these Hogans fully and truly—that is, neither more nor less than the truth."
"All the truth, Nanny," said Kate Hogan, in a voice of strongly condensed power; "Hycy Burke," she proceeded, "you ruined Bryan M'Mahon here—and, by ruinin' him, you broke Miss Kathleen Cavanagh's heart—she's gone—no docthor could save her now; and for this you'll soon know what Kate Hogan can do. Go on, Nanny."
"Well, gintlemon," Nanny began, "in the first place it was Mr. Hycy here that got the Still up in Ahadarra, in ordher to beggar Bryan M'Mahon by the fine."
Hycy laughed. "Excellent!" said he; "Why, really, Mr. Chevydale, I did not imagine that you could suffer such a farce as this is likely to turn out to be enacted exactly in your office."
"Enacted! well, that's, appropriate at any rate," said the schoolmaster; "but in the mane time, Mr. Hycy, take care that the farce won't become a tragedy on your hands, and you yourself the hero of it. Proceed, girsha."
"How do you know," asked Chevydale, "that this charge is true?"
"If I don't know it," she replied, "my aunt here does,—and I think so does Mr. Harry Clinton an' others."
"Pray, my woman, what do you know about this matter?" asked Chevydale, addressing Kate.
"Why that it was Mr. Hycy Burke that gave the Hogans the money to make the Still, set it up—and to Teddy Phats to buy barley; and although he didn't tell them it was to ruin Bryan M'Mahon he did it, sure they all knew it was—'spishly when he made them change from Glendearg above, where they were far safer, down to Ahadarra."
"I assure you, gentlemen," said Hycy, "that the respectability of the witnesses you have fished up is highly creditable to your judgments and sense of justice;—a common vagabond and notorious thief on the one hand, and a beggarman's brat on the other. However, proceed—I perceive that I shall be obliged to sink under the force of such testimony—ha! ha! ha!"
At this moment old Jemmy Burke, having accidentally heard that morning that such an investigation was to take place, and likely to bear upon the conduct of his eldest son, resolved to be present at it, and he accordingly presented himself as Hycy had concluded his observations.
The high integrity of his character was at once recognized—he was addressed in terms exceedingly respectful, if not deferential, by the two magistrates—Chevydale having at once ordered the servant in attendance to hand him a chair. He thanked him, however, but declined it gratefully, and stood like the rest.
In the meantime the investigation proceeded. "Mr. Burke," said Chevydale, addressing himself to the old man, whose features, by the way, were full of sorrow and distress—"it may be as well to state to you that we are not sitting now formally in our magisterial capacity, to investigate any charges that may be brought against your son, but simply making some preliminary inquiries with respect to other charges, which we have been given to understand are about to be brought against the notorious Hogans."
"Don't lay the blame upon the Hogans," replied Kate, fiercely—"the Hogans, bad as people say they are, only acted under Hycy Burke. It was Hycy Burke."
"But," said Chevydale, probably out of compassion for the old man, "you must know we are not now investigating Mr. Burke's conduct."
"Proceed, gintlemen," said his father, firmly but sorrowfully; "I have heard it said too often that he was at the bottom of the plot that ruined Bryan M'Mahon, or that wint near to ruin him; I wish to have that well sifted, gintlemen, and to know the truth."
"I can swear," continued Kate, "that it was him got up the whole plan, and gave them the money for it. I seen him in our house—or, to come nearer the truth, in Gerald Cavanagh's kiln, where we live—givin' them the money."
"As you are upon that subject, gentlemen," observed Harry Clinton, "I think it due to the character of Bryan M'Mahon to state that I am in a capacity to prove that Hycy Burke was unquestionably at the bottom—or, in point of fact, the originator—of his calamities with reference to the act of illicit distillation, and the fine which he would have been called on to pay, were it not that the Commissioners of Excise remitted it."
"Thank you, Mr. Clinton," replied Hycy; "I find I am not mistaken in you—I think you are worthy of your accomplices"—and he pointed to Kate and Nanny as he spoke—"proceed."
"We are passing," observed Vanston, "from one to another rather irregularly, I fear; don't you think we had better hear this girl fully in the first place; but, my good girl," he added, "you are to understand that we are not here to investigate any charges against Mr. Hycy Burke, but against the Hogans. You will please then to confine your charges to them."
"But," replied Nanny, "that's what I can't do, plase your honor, widout bringin' in Hycy Burke too, bekaise himself an' the Hogans was joined in everything."
"I think, gintlemen," said the priest, "the best plan is to let her tell her story in her own way."
"Perhaps so," said Chevydale; "proceed, young woman, and state fully and truly whatever you have got to say."
"Well, then," she proceeded, "there's one thing I know—I know who robbed Mr. Burke here;" and she pointed to the old man, who started.
The magistrates also looked surprised. "How," said Vanston, turning his eyes keenly upon her, "you know of the robbery; and pray, how long have you known it?'"
"Ever since the night it was committed, plaise your honor."
"What a probable story!" exclaimed Hycy; "and you kept it to yourself, like an honest girl as you are, until now!"
"Why, Mr. Burke," said Vanston, quickly and rather sharply, "surely you can have no motive in impugning her evidence upon that subject?"
Hycy bit his lip, for he instantly felt that he had overshot himself by almost anticipating the charge, as if it were about to be made against himself;—"What I think improbable in it," said Hycy, "is that she should, if in possession of the facts, keep them concealed so long."
"Oh, never fear, Mr. Hycy, I'll soon make that plain enough," she replied.
"But in the mean time," said Chevydale, "will you state the names of those who did commit the robbery?"
"I will," she replied.
"The whole truth, Nanny," exclaimed Kate.
"It was Bat Hogan, then, that robbed Mr. Burke," she replied; "and—and—"
"Out wid it," said Kate.
"And who besides, my good girl?" inquired Vanston.
The young woman looked round with compassion upon Jemmy Burke, and the tears started to her eyes. "I pity him!" she exclaimed, "I pity him—that good old man;" and, as she uttered the words, she wept aloud.
"This, I fear, is getting rather a serious affair," said Vanston, in a low voice to Chevydale—"I see how the tide is likely to turn."
Chevydale merely nodded, as if he also comprehended it. "You were about to add some other name?" said he; "in the mean time compose yourself and proceed."
Hycy Burke's face at this moment had become white as a sheet; in fact, to any one of common penetration, guilt and a dread of the coming disclosure were legible in every lineament of it.
"Who was the other person you were about to mention?" asked Vanston.
"His own son, sir, Mr. Hycy Burke, there."
"Ha!" exclaimed Chevydale; "Mr. Hycy Burke, do you say? Mr. Burke," he added, addressing that gentleman, "how is this? Here is a grave and serious charge against you. What have you to say to it?"
"That it would be both grave and serious," replied Hycy, "if it possessed but one simple element, without which all evidence is valueless—I mean truth. All I can say is, that she might just as well name either of yourselves, gentlemen, as me."
"How do you know that Hogan committed the robbery?" asked Hycy.
"Simply bekaise I seen him. He broke open the big chest above stairs."
"How did you see him?" asked Vanston.
"Through a hole in the partition," she replied, "where a knot of the deal boards had come out. I slep', plaise your honor, in a little closet off o' the room the money was in."
"Is it true that she slept there, Mr. Burke?" asked Vanston of the old man.
"It is thrue, sir, God help me; that at all events is thrue."
"Well, proceed," said Chevydale.
"I then throw my gown about my shoulders; but in risin' from my bed it creaked a little, an' Bat Hogan, who had jest let down the lid of the chest aisily when he hard the noise, blew out the bit of candle that he had in his hand, and picked his way down stairs as aisily as he could. I folloyed him on my tippy-toes, an' when he came opposite the door of the room where the masther and misthress sleep, the door opened, an' the mistress wid a candle in her hand met him full—but in the teeth. I was above upon the stairs at the time, but from the way an' the place she stood in, the light didn't rache me, so that I could see them widout bein' seen myself. Well, when the mistress met him she was goin' to bawl out wid terror, an' would, too, only that Masther Hycy flew to her, put his hand on her mouth, an' whispered something in her ear. He then went over to Bat, and got a large shafe of bank-notes from him, an' motioned him to be off wid himself, an' that he'd see him to-morrow. Bat went down in the dark, an' Hycy an' his mother had some conversation in a low voice on the lobby. She seemed angry, an' he was speakin' soft an' strivin' to put her into good humor again. I then dipt back to bed, but the never a wink could I get till mornin'; an' when I went down, the first thing I saw was Bat Hogan's shoes. It was hardly light at the time; but at any rate I hid them where they couldn't be got, an' it was well I did, for the first thing I saw was Bat himself peering about the street and yard, like a man that was looking for something that he had lost."
"But how did you know that the shoes were Hogan's?" asked Vanston.
"Why, your honor, any one that ever seen the man might know that. One of his heels is a trifle shorter than the other, which makes him halt a little, an' he has a bunion as big as an egg on the other foot."
"Ay, Nanny," said Kate, "that's the truth; but I can tell you more, gentlemen. On the evenin' before, when Mr. Hycy came home, he made up the plan to rob his father wid Phil Hogan; but Phil got drunk that night an' Bat had to go in his place. Mr. Hycy promised to see the Hogans that mornin' at his father's, about ten o'clock; but when they went he had gone off to Ballymacan; an' as they expected him every minute, they stayed about the place in spite o' the family, an' mended everything they could lay their hands on. Bat an' Mr. Hycy met that night in Teddy Phat's still-house, in Glendearg, an' went home together across the mountains aftherward."
"Well, Mr. Burke, what have you to say to this?" asked Chevydale.
"Why," replied Hycy, "that it's a very respectable conspiracy as it stands, supported by the thief and vagabond, and the beggar's brat."
"Was there any investigation at the time of its occurrence?" asked Vanston.
"There was, your honor," replied Nanny; "it was proved, clearly enough that Phil and Ned Hogan were both dead drunk that night an' couldn't commit a robbery; an' Masther Hycy himself said that he knew how Bat spent the night, an' that of course he couldn't do it; an' you know, your honors, there was no gettin' over that. I have, or rather my father has, Bat Hogan's shoes still."
"This, I repeat, seems a very serious charge, Mr. Burke," said Chevydale again.
"Which, as I said before, contains not one particle of truth," replied Hycy. "If I had resolved to break open my father's chest to get cash out of it, it is not likely that I would call in the aid of such a man as Bat Hogan. As a proof that I had nothing to do with the robbery in question, I can satisfy you that my mother, not many days after the occurrence of it, was obliged to get her car and drive some three or four miles' distance to borrow a hundred pounds for me from a friend of hers, upon her own responsibility, which, had I committed the outrage in question, I would not have required at all."
Old Burke's face would, at this period of the proceedings, have extorted compassion from any heart. Sorrow, distress, agony of spirit, and shame, were all so legible in his pale features—that those who were present kept their eyes averted, from respect to the man, and from sympathy with his sufferings.
At length he himself came forward, and, after wiping away a few bitter tears from his cheeks, he said—"Gentlemen, I care little about the money I lost, nor about who took it—let it go—as for me, I won't miss it; but there is one thing that cuts me to the heart—I'm spakin' about the misfortune that was brought, or near bein' brought, upon this honest an' generous-hearted young man, Bryan M'Mahon, through manes of a black plot that was got up against him—I'm spakin' of the Still that was found on his farm of Ahadarra. That, if my son had act or part in it, is a thousand times worse than the other; as for the takin' of the money, I don't care about it, as I said—nor I won't prosecute any one for it; but I must have my mind satisfied about the other affair."
It is not our intention to dwell at any length upon the clear proofs of his treachery and deceit, which were established against him by Harry Clinton, who produced the anonymous letter to his uncle—brought home to him as it was by his own evidence and that of Nanny Peety.
"There is, however," said Vanston, "another circumstance affecting the reputation and honesty of Mr. Bryan M'Mahon, which in your presence, Mr. M'Gowan, I am anxious to set at rest. I have already contradicted it with indignation wherever I have heard it, and I am the more anxious to do so, now, whilst M'Mahon and Burke are present, and because I have been given to understand that you denounced him—M'Mahon—with such hostility from the altar, as almost occasioned him to be put to death in the house of God."
"You are undher a mistake there, Major Vanston, with great respect," replied the priest. "It wasn't I but my senior curate, Father M'Pepper; and he has already been reprimanded by his Bishop."
"Well," replied the other, "I am glad to hear it. However, I, now solemnly declare, as an honest man and an Irish, gentleman, that neither I, nor any one for me, with my knowledge, ever gave or sent any money to Bryan M'Mahon; but perhaps we may ascertain who did. M'Mahon, have you got the letter about you?"
"I have, sir," replied Bryan, "and the bank-note, too."
"You will find the frank and address both in your own handwriting," said Hycy. "It was I brought him the letter from the post-office."
"Show me the letter, if you plaise," said Nanny, who, after looking first at it and then at Hycy, added, "and it was I gave it this little tear near the corner, and dhrew three scrapes of a pin across the paper, an' there they are yet; an' now I can take my oath that it was Mr. Hycy that sent that letther to Bryan M'Mahon—an' your Reverence is the very man I showed it to, and that tould me who it was goin' to, in the street of Ballymacan."'
On a close inspection of the letter it was clearly obvious that, although there appeared at a cursory glance a strong resemblance between the frank and the address, yet the difference was too plain to be mistaken.
"If there is further evidence necessary," said Vanston, looking at Hycy significantly, "my agent can produce it—and he is now in the house."
"I think you would not venture on that," replied Hycy.
"Don't be too sure of that," said the other, determinedly.
"Sir," replied Father Magowan, "there is nothing further on that point necessary—the proof is plain and clear; and now, Bryan M'Mahon, give me your hand, for it is that of an honest man—I am proud to see that you stand pure and unsullied again; and it shall be my duty to see that justice shall be rendered! you, and ample compensation made for all that you have suffered."
"Thank you, sir," replied Bryan, with an air of deep dejection, "but I am sorry to say it is now too late—I am done with the country, and with those that misrepresented me, for ever."
Chevydale looked at him with deep attention for a moment, then whispered something to Vanston, who smiled, and nodded his head approvingly.
Jemmy Burke now prepared to go. "Good mornin', gintlemen," he said, "I am glad to see the honest name cleared and set right, as it ought to be; but as for myself, I lave you wid a heavy—wid a breakin' heart."
As he disappeared at the door, Hycy rushed after him, exclaiming, "Father, listen to me—don't go yet till you hear my defence. I will go and fetch him back," he exclaimed—"he must hear what I have to say for myself."
He overtook his father at the bottom of the hall steps. "Give me a hundred pounds," said he, "and you will never see my face again."
"There is two hundre'," said his father; "I expected this. Your mother confessed all to me this mornin', bekaise she knew it would come out here, I suppose. Go now, for undher my roof you'll never come again. If you can—reform your life—an' live at all events, as if there was a God above you. Before you go answer me;—what made you bring in Bat Hogan to rob me?"
"Simply," replied his son, "because I wished to make him and them feel that I had them in my power—and now you have it."
Hycy received the money, set spurs to his horse, and was out of sight in a moment—"Ah!" exclaimed the old man, with bitterness of soul, "what mightn't he be if his weak and foolish mother hadn't taken it into her head to make a gentleman of him! But now she reaps as she sowed. She's punished—an' that's enough."—And thus does Hycy the accomplished make his exit from our humble stage.
"Gintlemen," said Finigan, "now that the accomplished Mr. Hycy is disposed of, I beg to state, that it will be productive of much public good to the country to expatriate these three virtuous worthies, qui nomine gaudent Hogan—and the more so as it can be done on clear legal grounds. They are a principal means of driving this respectable young man, Bryan M'Mahon, and his father's family, out of the land of their birth; and there will be something extremely appropriate—and indicative besides of condign and retributive punishment—in sending them on their travels at his Majesty's expense. I am here, in connection with others, to furnish you with the necessary proof against them; and I am of opinion that the sooner they are sent upon a voyage of discovery it will be so much the better for the rejoicing neighborhood they will leave behind them."
The hint was immediately taken with respect to them and Vincent, all of whom had been engaged in coming under Hycy's auspices—they were apprehended and imprisoned, the chief evidence against them being Teddy Phats, Peety Dhu, and Finigan, who for once became a stag, as he called it. They were indicted for a capital felony; but the prosecution having been postponed for want of sufficient evidence, they were kept in durance until next assizes;—having found it impossible to procure bail. In the meantime new charges of uttering base coin came thick and strong against them; and as the Crown lawyers found that they could not succeed on the capital indictment—nor indeed did they wish to do so—they tried them on the lighter one, and succeeded in getting sentence of transportation passed against every one of them, with the exception of Kate Hogan alone.—So that, as Finigan afterwards said, "instead of Bryan M'Mahon, it was they themselves that became 'the Emigrants of Ahadarra,' at the king's expense—and Mr. Hycy at his own."
How Kathleen Cavanagh spent the time that elapsed between the period at which she last appeared to our readers and the present may be easily gathered from what we are about to write. We have said already that her father, upon the strength of some expressions uttered in a spirit of distraction and agony, assured Jemmy Burke that she had consented to marry his son Edward, after a given period. Honest Jemmy, however, never for a moment suspected the nature of the basis upon which his worthy neighbor had erected the superstructure of his narrative; but at the same time he felt sadly puzzled by the melancholy and declining appearance of her whom he looked upon as his future daughter-in-law. The truth was that scarcely any of her acquaintances could recognize her as the same majestic, tall, and beautiful girl whom they had known before this heavy disappointment had come on her. Her exquisite figure had lost most of its roundness, her eye no longer flashed—with its dark mellow lustre, and her cheek—her damask cheek—distress and despair had fed upon it, until little remained there but the hue of death itself. Her health in fact was evidently beginning to go. Her appetite had abandoned her; she slept little, and that little was restless and unrefreshing. All her family, with the exception of her father and mother, who sustained themselves with the silly ambition of their daughter being able to keep her jaunting-car—for her father had made that point a sine qua non—all, we say, with the above exceptions, became seriously alarmed at the state of her mind and health.
"Kathleen, dear," said her affectionate sister, "I think you have carried your feelings against Bryan far enough."
"My feelings against Bryan!" she exclamed.
"Yes," proceeded her sister, "I think you ought to forgive him."
"Ah, Hanna darling, how little you know of your sister's heart. I have long since forgiven him, Hanna."
"Then what's to prevent you from making up with him?"
"I have long since forgiven him, Hanna; but, my dear sister, I never can nor will think for a moment of marrying any man that has failed, when brought to the trial, in honest and steadfast principal—the man that would call me wife should be upright, pure, and free from every stain of corruption—he must have no disgrace or dishonor upon his name, and he must feel the love of his religion and his country as the great ruling principles of his life. I have long since forgiven Bryan, but it is because he is not what I hoped he was, and what I wished him to be, that I am as you see me."
"Then you do intend to marry?" asked Hanna, with a smile.
"Why do you ask that, Hanna?"
"Why, because you've given me sich a fine description of the kind o' man your husband is to be."
"Hanna," she replied, solemnly, "look at my cheek, look at my eye, look at my whole figure, and then ask me that question again if you can. Don't you see, darling, that death is upon me? I feel it."
Her loving and beloved sister threw her arms around her neck, and burst into an irrepressible fit of bitter grief.
"Oh, you are changed, most woefully, Kathleen, darlin'," she exclaimed, kissing her tenderly; "but if you could only bear up now, time would set everything right, and bring you about right, as it will still, I hope."
Her sister mused for some time, and then added—"I think I could bear up yet if he was to stay in the country; but when I recollect that he's going to another land—forever—I feel that my heart is broken: as it is, his disgrace and that thought are both killin' me. To-morrow the auction comes on, and then he goes—after that I will never see him. I'm afraid, Hanna, that I'll have to go to bed; I feel that I'm hardly able to sit up."
Hanna once more pressed her to her heart and wept.
"Don't cry, Hanna dear—don't cry for me; the bitterest part of my fate will be partin' from you."
Hanna here pressed her again and wept aloud, whilst her spotless and great-minded sister consoled her as well as she could. "Oh, what would become of me!" exclaimed Hanna, sobbing; "if anything was to happen you, or take you away from me, it would break my heart, too, and I'd die."
"Hanna," said her sister, not encouraging her to proceed any further on that distressing subject; "on to-morrow, the time I allowed for Bryan to clear himself, if he could, will be up, and I have only to beg that you'll do all you can to prevent my father and mother from distressing me about Edward Burke; I will never marry him, but I expect to see him your husband yet, and I think he's worthy of you—that's saying a great deal, I know. You love him, Hanna—I know it, and he loves you, Hanna, for he told me so the last day but one he was here;—you remember they all went out, and left us together, and then he told me all."
Hanna's face and neck became crimson, and she was about to reply, when a rather loud but good-humored voice was heard in the kitchen, for this dialogue took place in the parlor—exclaiming, "God save all here! How do you do, Mrs. Cavanagh? How is Gerald and the youngsters?"
"Indeed all middlin' well, thank your reverence, barrin' our eldest girl that's a little low spirited for some time past."
"Ay, ay, I know the cause of that—it's no secret—where is she now? If she's in the house let me see her."
The two sisters having composed their dress a little and their features, immediately made their appearance.
"God be good to us!" he exclaimed, "here's a change! Why, may I never sin, if I'd know her no more than the mother that bore her. Lord guard us! look at this! Do you give her nothing, Mrs. Cavanagh?"
"Nothing on airth," she replied; "her complaint's upon the spirits, an' we didn't think that physic stuff would be of any use to her."
"Well, perhaps I will find a cure for her. Listen to me, darling. Your sweetheart's name and fame are cleared, and Bryan M'Mahon is what he ever was—an honest an' upright young man."
Kathleen started, looked around her, as if with amazement, and without seeming to know exactly what she did, went towards the door, and was about to walk out, when Hanna, detaining her, asked with alarm—"Kathleen, what ails you, dear? Where are you going?"
"Going," she replied; "I was going to—where?—why?—what—what has happened?"
"The news came upon her too much by surprise," said Hanna, looking towards the priest.
"Kathleen, darlin'," exclaimed her mother, "try and compose yourself. Lord guard us, what can ail her?"
"Let her come with me into the parlor, mother, an' do you an' Father Magowan stay where you are."
They accordingly went in, and after about the space of ten minutes she recovered herself so far as to make Hanna repeat the intelligence which the simple-hearted priest had, with so little preparation, communicated. Having listened to it earnestly, she laid her head upon Hanna's bosom and indulged in a long fit of quiet and joyful grief. When she had recovered a little, Father Magowan entered at more length into the circumstances connected with the changes that had affected her lover's character so deeply, after which he wound up by giving expression to the following determination—a determination, by the way, which we earnestly recommend to all politicians of his profession.
"As for my part," said he, "it has opened my eyes to one thing that I won't forget:—a single word of politics I shall never suffer to be preached from the altar while I live; neither shall I allow denouncements for political offences. The altar, as the bishop told me—and a hard rap he gave Mr. M'Pepper across the knuckles for Bryan's affair—'the altar,' said he, 'isn't the place for politics, but for religion; an' I hope I may never hear of its being desecrated with politics again,' said his lordship, an' neither I will, I assure you."
The intelligence of the unexpected change that had taken place in favor of the M'Mahon's, did not reach them on that day, which was the same, as we have stated, on which their grandfather departed this life. The relief felt by Thomas M'Mahon and his family at this old man's death, took nothing from the sorrow which weighed them down so heavily in consequence of their separation from the abode of their forefathers and the place of their birth. They knew, or at least they took it for granted that their grandfather would never have borne the long voyage across the Atlantic, a circumstance which distressed them very much. His death, however, exhibiting, as it did, the undying attachment to home which nothing else could extinguish, only kindled the same affection more strongly and tenderly in their hearts. The account of it had gone abroad through the neighborhood, and with it the intelligence that the auction would be postponed until that day week. And now that he was gone, all their hearts turned with sorrow and sympathy to the deep and almost agonizing' struggles which their coming departure caused their father to contend with. Bryan whose calm but manly firmness sustained them all, absolutely feared that his courage would fail him, or that his very health would break down. He also felt for his heroic little sister, Dora, who, although too resolute to complain or urge her own sufferings, did not endure the less on that account.
"My dear Dora," said he, after their grandfather had been laid out, "I know what you are suffering, but what can I do? This split between the Cavanaghs and us has put it out of my power to serve you as I had intended. It was my wish to see you and James Cavanagh married; but God knows I pity you from my heart; for, my dear Dora, there's no use in denyin' it, I understand too well what you feel."
"Don't fret for me, Bryan," she replied; "I'm willin' to bear my share of the affliction that has come upon the family, rather than do anything mane or unworthy. I know it goes hard with me to give up James and lave him for ever; but then I see that it must be done, and that I must submit to it. May God strengthen and enable me! and that's my earnest prayer. I also often prayed that you an' Kathleen might be reconciled; but I wasn't heard, it seems. I sometimes think that you ought to go to her; but then on second thoughts I can hardly advise you to do so."
"No, Dora, I never will, dear; she ought to have heard me as you said face to face; instead o' that she condemned me without a hearin'. An' yet, Dora," he added, "little she knows—little she drames, what I'm sufferin on her account, and how I love her—more now than ever, I think; she's so changed, they say, that you could scarcely know her." As he spoke, a single tear fell upon Dora's hand which he held in his.
"Come. Bryan," she said, assuming a cheerfulness which she did not feel, "don't have it to say that little Dora, who ought and does look up to you for support, must begin to support you herself; to-morrow's the last day—who knows but she may relent yet?" Bryan smiled faintly, then patted her head, and said, "darling little Dora, the wealth of nations couldn't purchase you."
"Not to do any thing mane or wrong, at any rate," she replied; after which she went in to attend to the affairs of the family, for this conversation took place in the garden.
As evening approached, a deep gloom, the consequence of strong inward suffering, overspread the features and bearing of Thomas M'Mahon. For some time past, he had almost given himself over to the influence of what he experienced—a fact that was observable in many ways, all more or less tending to revive the affection which he felt for his departed wife. For instance, ever since their minds had been made up to emigrate, he had watched, and tended, and fed Bracky, her favorite cow, with his own hands; nor would he suffer any one else in the family to go near her, with the exception of Dora, by whom she had been milked ever since her mother's death, and to whom the poor animal had now transferred her affection. He also cleaned and oiled her spinning-wheel, examined her clothes, and kept himself perpetually engaged in looking at every object that was calculated to bring her once more before his imagination.
About a couple of hours before sunset, without saying where he was going, he sauntered down to the graveyard of Gamdhu where she lay, and having first uncovered his head and offered up a prayer for the repose of her soul, he wept bitterly.
"Bridget," said he, in that strong figurative language so frequently used by the Irish, when under the influence of deep, emotion; "Bridget, wife of my heart, you are removed from the thrials and throubles of this world—from the thrials and throubles that have come upon us. I'm come, now—your own husband—him that loved you beyant everything on this earth, to tell you why the last wish o' my heart, which was to sleep where I ought to sleep, by your side, can't be granted to me, and to explain to you why it is, in case you'd miss me from my place beside you. This unfortunate counthry, Bridget, has changed, an' is changin' fast for the worse. The landlord hasn't proved himself to be towards us what he ought to be, and what we expected he would; an' so, rather than remain at the terms he axes from us, it's better for us to thry our fortune in America; bekaise, if we stay here, we must only come to poverty an' destitution, an' sorrow; an' you know how it 'ud break my heart to see our childre' brought to that, in the very place where they wor always respected. They're all good to me, as they ever wor to' us both, acushla machree; but poor Bryan, that you loved so much—your favorite and your pride—has had much to suffer, darlin', since you left us; but blessed be God, he bears it manfully and patiently, although I can see by the sorrow on my boy's brow that the heart widin him is breakin'. He's not, afther all, to be married, as you hoped and wished he would, to Kathleen Cavanagh. Her mind has been poisoned against him; but little she knows him, or she'd not turn from him as she did. An' now, Bridget, asthore machree, is it come to this wid me? I must lave you for ever. I must lave—as my father said, that went this day to heaven as you know, now—I must lave, as he said, the ould places. I must go to a strange country, and sleep among a strange people; but it's for the sake of our childre' I do so, lavin' you alone there where you're sleepin'? I wouldn't lave you if I could help it; but we'll meet yet in heaven, my blessed wife, where there won't be distress, or injustice, or sorrow to part us. Achora machree, I'm come, then, to take my last farewell of you. Farewell, then, my darlin' wife, till we meet for evermore in heaven!"
He departed from the grave slowly, and returned in deep sorrow to his own house.
About twelve o'clock the next morning, the family and those neighbors who were assembled as usual at the wake-house, from respect to the dead, were a good deal surprised by the appearance of Mr. Vanston and their landlord, both of whom entered the house.
"Gentlemen, you're welcome," said old M'Mahon; "but I'm sorry to say that it's to a house of grief and throuble I must welcome you—death's here, gentlemen, and more than death; but God's will be done, we must be obaidient."
"M'Mahon," said Chevydale, "give me your hand. I am sorry that either you or your son have suffered anything on my account. I am come now to render you an act of justice—to compensate both you and him, as far as I can, for the anxiety you have endured. Consider yourselves both, therefore, as restored to your farms at the terms you proposed originally. I shall have leases prepared—give up the notion of emigration—the country cannot spare such men as you and your admirable son. I shall have leases I say prepared, and you will be under no necessity of leaving either Carriglass or Ahadarra."
Need we describe the effect which such a communication had upon this sterling-hearted family? Need we assure our readers that the weight was removed from all their hearts, and the cloud from every brow? Is it necessary to add that Bryan M'Mahon and his high-minded Kathleen were married? that Dora and James followed their example, and that Edward Burke, in due time, bestowed his hand upon sweet and affectionate Hanna Cavanagh?
We have little now to add. Young Clinton, in the course of a few months, became agent to Chevydale, whose property soon gave proofs that kindness, good judgment, and upright principle were best calculated not only to improve it, but to place a landlord and his tenantry on that footing of mutual good-will and reciprocal interest upon which they should ever stand towards each other.
We need scarcely say that the sympathy felt for honest Jemmy Burke, in consequence of the disgraceful conduct of his son, was deep and general. He himself did not recover it for a long period, and it was observed that, in future, not one of his friends ever uttered Hycy's name in his presence.
With respect to that young gentleman's fate and that of Teddy Phats, we have to record a rather remarkable coincidence. In about three years after his escape, his father received an account of his death from Montreal, where it appears he expired under circumstances of great wretchedness and destitution, after having led, during his residence there, a most profligate and disgraceful life. Early the same day on which the intelligence of his death reached his family, they also received an account through the M'Mahons to the effect that Teddy Phats had, on the preceding night, fallen from one of the cliffs of Althadawan and broken his neck; a fate which occasioned neither surprise nor sorrow.
We have only to add that Bryan M'Mahon and his wife took Nanny Peety into their service; and that Kate Hogan and Mr. O'Finigan had always a comfortable seat at their hospitable hearth; and the latter a warm glass of punch occasionally, for the purpose, as he said himself, of keeping him properly sober.