"And so he does—and so he would; but it's all his cowardice, because he's afraid that if he was harsh to his Popish tenants some of them might shoot him from behind a hedge some fine night, and give him a leaden bullet for his supper."
"I know he's a coward," observed another, "because he allowed himself to be horsewhipped by Major Bingham, and didn't call him out for it."
"Oh, as to that," said another, "it was made up by their friends; but what's to be done? All the evidence is against him, and we are on our oaths to find a verdict according to the evidence."
"Evidence be hanged," said another; "I'll sit here till doom's-day before I find him guilty. Are we, that are all loyal Protestants, to bring out a varjuice to please the Papishes? Oh, no, faith; but here's the thing, gentlemen; mark me; here now, I take off my shoes, and I'll ait them before I find him guilty;" and as he spoke he deliberately slipped of his shoes, and placed them on the table, ready for his tough and loyal repast.
"By Gog," said another, "I'll hang him, in spite of your teeth; and, afther aiten your brogues, you may go barefooted if you like. I have brogues to ait as well as you, and one of mine is as big as two of yours."
This was followed by a chorus of laughter, after which they began to consider the case before them, like admirable and well-reasoning jurors, as they were. Two hours passed in wrangling and talking and recriminating, when, at last, one of them, striking the table, exclaimed with an oath:
"All Europe won't save the villain. Didn't he seduce my sister's daughter, and then throw her and her child back, with shame and disgrace, on the family, without support?"
"Look at that," said the owner of the shoe, holding it up triumphantly; "that's my supper to-night, and my argument in his defence. I say our—Protestant champion mustn't hang, at least until I starve first."
The other, who sat opposite to him, put his hand across the table, and snatching the shoe, struck its owner between the two eyes with it and knocked him back on the floor. A scene of uproar took place, which lasted for some minutes, but at length, by the influence of the foreman, matters were brought to a somewhat amicable issue. In this way they spent the time for a few hours more, when one of the usual messengers came to know if they had agreed; but he was instantly dismissed to a very warm settlement, with the assurance that they had not.
"Come," said one of them, pulling out a pack of cards, "let us amuse ourselves at any rate. Who's for a hand at the Spoil Five?"
The cards were looked upon as a godsend, and in a few moments one half the jury were busily engaged at that interesting game. The other portion of them amused themselves, in the meantime, as well as they could.
"Tom," said one of them, "were you ever on a special jury in a revenue case?"
"No," replied Tom, "never. Is there much fun?"
"The devil's own fun; because if we find for the defendant, he's sure to give us a splendid feed. But do you know how we manage when we find that we can't agree?"
"No. How is it?"
"Why, you see, when the case is too clear against him, and that to find for him would be too barefaced, we get every man to mark down on a slip of paper the least amount of damages he is disposed to give against him; when they're all down, we tot them up, and divide by twelve—"*
*By no means an uncommon proceeding in revenue cases, even at the present day.
"Silence," said another, "till we hear John Dickson's song."
The said John Dickson was at the time indulging them with a comic song, which was encored with roars of laughter.
"Hallo!" shouted one of those at the cards, "here's Jack Brereton has prigged the ace of hearts."
"Oh, gentlemen," said Jack, who was a greater knave at the cards than any in the pack, "upon, my honor, gentlemen, you wrong me."
"There—he has dropped it," said another; "look under the table."
The search was made, and up was lugged the redoubtable ace of hearts from under one of Jack's feet, who had hoped, by covering it, to escape detection. Detected, however, he was, and, as they all knew him well, the laughter was loud accordingly, and none of them laughed louder than Jack himself.
"Jack," said another of them, "let us have a touch of the legerdemain."
"Gentlemen, attention," said Jack. "Will any of you lend me a halfpenny?"
This was immediately supplied to him, and the first thing he did was to stick it on his forehead—although there had been brass enough there before—to which it appeared to have been glued; after a space he took it off and placed it in the palm of his right hand, which he closed, and then, extending both his hands, shut, asked those about him in which hand it was. Of course they all said in the right; but, upon Jack's opening the said hand, there was no halfpenny there.
In this way they discussed a case of life or death, until another knock came, which "knock" received the same answer as before.
"Faith," said a powerful-looking farmer from near the town of Boyle—the very picture of health, "if they don't soon let us out I'll get sick. It's I that always does the sickness for the jury when we're kept in too long."
"Why, then, Billy Bradley," asked one of them, "how could you, of all men living, sham sickness on a doctor?"
"Because," said Billy, with a grin, "I'm beginning to feel a divarsion of blood to the head, for want of a beefsteak and a pot o' porther. My father and grandfather both died of a divarsion of blood to the head."
"I rather think," observed another, "that they died by taking their divarsion at the beefsteak and the pot of porter."
"No matther," said Billy, "they died at all events, and so will we all, plaise God."
"Gome," said one of them, "there is Jack Brereton and his cane—let us come to business. What do you say, Jack, as to the prisoner?"
Jack at the time had the aforesaid cane between his legs, over which he was bent like a bow, with the head of it in his mouth.
"Are you all agreed?" asked Jack.
"All for a verdict of guilty, with the exception of this fellow and his shoes."
Jack Brereton was a handsome old fellow, with a red face and a pair of watery eyes; he was a little lame, and crippled as he walked, in consequence of a hip complaint, which he got by a fall from a jaunting-car; but he was now steady enough, except the grog.
"Jack, what do you say?" asked the foreman; "it's time to do something."
"Why," replied Jack, "the scoundrel engaged me to put down a pump for him, and I did it in such a manner as was a credit to his establishment. To be sure, he wanted the water to come whenever it was asked; but I told him that that wasn't my system; that I didn't want to make a good thing too cheap; but that the water would come in genteel time—that is to say, whenever they didn't want it; and faith the water bore me out." And here Jack laughed heartily. "But no matter," proceeded Jack, "he's only a bujeen; sure it was his mother nursed me. Where's that fellow that's going to eat his shoes? Here, Ned Wilson, you flaming Protestant, I have neither been a grand juror nor a petty juror of the county of Sligo for nothing. Where are you? Take my cane, place it between your knees as you saw me do, put your mouth down to the head of it, suck up with all your strength, and you'll find that God will give you sense afterwards."
Wilson, who had taken such a fancy for eating his shoes, in order to show his loyalty, was what is called a hard-goer, and besides a great friend of Jack's. At all events, he followed his advice—put the head of the huge cane into his mouth, and drew up accordingly. The cane, in fact, was hollow all through, and contained about three half-pints of strong whiskey. There was some wrangling with the man for a little time after this; but at length he approached Jack, and handing him the empty cane, said:
"What's your opinion, Jack?"
"Why, we must hang him," replied Jack. "He defrauded me in the pump; and I ask you did you ever put your nose to a better pump than that?"*
* We have been taken to task about this description of the jury-room; but we believe, and have good reason to believe, that every circumstance mentioned in it is a fact Do our readers remember the history of Orr's trial, where three- fourths of the jurors who convicted him were drunk—a fact to which they themselves confirmed upon oath afterwards?
"Give me your hand, Jack, we're agreed—he swings!"
At this moment an officer came to ask the same question, when, in reply, the twelve jurymen came out, and, amidst the most profound silence, the foreman handed down the issue paper to the Clerk of the Crown.
"Gentlemen," said that officer, after having cast his eye over it, "have you agreed in your verdict?"
"Is the prisoner at the bar guilty, or not guilty?"
Let us pause here a moment, and reflect upon the precarious tenure of life, as it is frequently affected by such scenes as the above, in the administration of justice. Here was a criminal of the deepest dye, shivering in the dock with the natural apprehension of his fate, but supported, notwithstanding, by the delay of the jury in coming to a verdict. He argued reasonably enough, that in consequence of that very delay he must necessarily have friends among them who would hold out to the last. The state of suspense, however, in which he was held must have been, and was, dreadful. His lips and throat became parched by excitement, and he was obliged to drink three or four glasses of water. Being unable to stand, he was accommodated with a chair, on which, while he sat, the perspiration flowed from his pallid face. Yet, with the exception of his own clique, there was scarcely an individual present who did not hope that this trial would put an end to his career of blood. After all, there was something of the retributive justice of Providence even in the conduct and feelings of the jury; for, in point of fact, it was more on account of his private crimes and private infamy that they, however wrongly, brought in their verdict. Here was he, encircled by their knowledge of his own iniquities, apart from his public acts; and there, standing in that dock, from which he might have gone out free, so far as regarded his political exploits, he found, although he did not know it, the black weight of his private vices fall upon his head in the shape of the verdict just delivered. It would be impossible to describe his appearance on hearing it; his head fell down upon his breast listless, helpless, and with a character of despair that was painful to contemplate.
When the verdict was handed down, the judge immediately put on the black-cap; but Whitecraft's head was resting on his breast, and he did not for some time see it. At length, stirred into something like life by the accents of the judge, he raised his head with an effort. The latter addressed him as thus: "Sir Robert Whitecraft, you have been convicted this day by as enlightened a jury as ever sat in a jury-box. You must be aware yourself, by the length of time, and consequently the deep and serious investigation which they bestowed—and, it is evident, painfully bestowed—upon your unhappy case, that your conviction is the deliberate result of their conscientious opinion. It is obvious, as I said, from the length of time occupied in the jury-room, that the evidence in your case was sifted closely, and canvassed with the ability and experience of able and honest men. In the verdict they have returned the Court perfectly concurs; and it now only remains for me to pass upon you that awful sentence of the law which is due to your cruel life and flagitious crimes. Were you a man without education, nurtured in ignorance, and the slave of its debasing consequences, some shade of compassion might be felt for you on that account. But you cannot plead this; you cannot plead poverty, or that necessity which urges many a political adventurer to come out as a tyrant and oppressor upon his fellow-subjects, under the shield of the law, and in the corrupt expectation of reward or promotion. You were not only independent in your own circumstances, but you possessed great wealth; and why you should shape yourself such an awful course of crime can only be attributed to a heart naturally fond of persecution and blood. I cannot, any more than the learned Attorney-General, suffer the privileges of rank, wealth, or position to sway me from the firm dictates of justice. You imagined that the law would connive at you—and it did so too long, but, believe me, the sooner or later it will abandon the individual that has been provoking it, and, like a tiger when goaded beyond patience, will turn and tear its victim to pieces. It remains for me now to pronounce the awful sentence of the law upon you; but before I do so, let me entreat you to turn your heart to that Being who will never refuse mercy to a repentant sinner; and I press this upon you the more because you need not entertain the slightest expectation of finding it in this world. In order, therefore, that you may collect and compose your mind for the great event that is before you, I will allow you four days, in order that you may make a Christian use of your time, and prepare your spirit for a greater tribunal than this. The sentence of the Court is that, on the fifth day after this, you be, etc., etc., etc.; and may God have mercy on your soul!"
At first there was a dead silence in the Court, and a portion of the audience was taken completely by surprise on hearing both the verdict' and the sentence. At length a deep, condensed murmur, which arose by degrees into a yell of execration, burst forth from his friends, whilst, on the other hand, a peal of cheers and acclamations rang so loudly through the court that they completely drowned the indignant vociferations of the others. In the meantime silence was restored, and it was found that the convict had been removed during the confusion to one of the condemned cells. What now were his friends to do? Was it possible to take any steps by which he might yet be saved from such a disgraceful death? Pressed as they were for time, they came to the conclusion that the only chance existing in his favor was for a deputation of as many of the leading Protestants of the county, as could be prevailed upon to join in the measure, to proceed to Dublin without delay. Immediately, therefore, after the trial, a meeting of the baronet's friends was held in the head inn of Sligo, where the matter was earnestly discussed. Whitecraft had been a man of private and solitary enjoyments—in social and domestic life, as cold, selfish, inhospitable, and repulsive as he was cruel and unscrupulous in his public career.
The consequence was that he had few personal friends of either rank or influence, and if the matter had rested upon his own personal character and merits alone, he would have been left, without an effort, to the fate which had that day been pronounced upon him. The consideration of the matter, however, was not confined to himself as an individual, but to the Protestant party at large, and his conviction was looked upon as a Popish triumph. On this account many persons of rank and influence, who would not otherwise have taken any interest in his fate, came forward for the purpose, if possible, of defeating the Popish party—who, by the way, had nothing whatsoever to do in promoting his conviction—and of preventing the stigma and deep disgrace which his execution would attach to their own. A very respectable deputation was consequently formed, and in the course of the next day proceeded to Dublin, to urge their claims in his favor with the Lord Lieutenant. This nobleman, though apparently favorable to the Catholic people, was nevertheless personally and secretly a bitter enemy to them. The state policy which he was instructed and called upon to exercise in their favor differed toto coelo from his own impressions. He spoke to them, however, sweetly and softly, praised them for their forbearance, and made large promises in their favor, whilst, at the same time, he entertained no intention of complying with their request. The deputation, on arriving at the castle, ascertained, to their mortification, that the viceroy would not be at home until the following day, having spent the last week with a nobleman in the neighborhood; they were consequently obliged to await his arrival. After his return they were admitted to an audience, in which they stated their object in waiting upon him, and urged with great earnestness the necessity of arresting the fate of such a distinguished Protestant as Sir Robert Whitecraft; after which they entered into a long statement of the necessity that existed for such active and energetic men in the then peculiar and dangerous state of the country.
To all this, however, he replied with great suavity, assuring them that no man felt more anxious to promote Protestant interests than he did, and added that the relaxation of the laws against the Catholics was not so much the result of his own personal policy or feeling as the consequence of the instructions he had received from the English Cabinet. He would be very glad to comply with the wishes of the deputation if he could, but at present it was impossible. This man's conduct was indefensible; for, not content in carrying out the laws against the Catholics with unnecessary rigor, he committed a monstrous outrage against a French subject of distinction, in consequence of which the French Court, through their Ambassador in London, insisted upon his punishment.
"Very well, my lord," replied the spokesman of the deputation, "I beg to assure you, that if a hair of this man's head is injured there will be a massacre of the Popish population before two months; and I beg also to let you know, for the satisfaction of the English Cabinet, that they may embroil themselves with France, or get into whatever political embarrassment they please, but an Irish Protestant will never hoist a musket, or draw a sword, in their defence. Gentlemen, let us bid his Excellency a good-morning."
This was startling language, as the effect proved, for it startled the viceroy into a compliance with their wishes, and they went home post-haste, in order that the pardon might arrive in time.
CHAPTER XXV.—Reilly stands his Trial
Rumor of Cooleen Bawn's Treachery—How it appears—Conclusion.
Life, they say, is a life of trials, and so may it be said of this tale—at least of the conclusion of it; for we feel that it devolves upon us once more to solicit the presence of our readers to the same prison in which the Red Rapparee and Sir Robert Whitecraft received their sentence of doom.
As it is impossible to close the mouth or to silence the tongue of fame, so we may assure our readers, as we have before, that the: history of the loves of those two celebrated individuals, to wit, Willy Reilly and the far-famed Cooleen Bawn, had given an interest to the coming trial such as was never known within the memory of man, at that period, nor perhaps equalled since. The Red Rapparee, Sir Robert Whitecraft, and all the other celebrated "villains of that time, have nearly perished out of tradition itself, whilst those of our hero and heroine are still fresh in the feelings of the Connaught and Northern peasantry, at whose hearths, during the winter evenings, the rude but fine old ballad that commemorated that love is still sung with sympathy, and sometimes, as we can I testify, with tears. This is fame. One circumstance, however, which deepened the interest felt by the people, told powerfully against the consistency of the Cooleen Bawn, which was, that she had resolved to come forward that day to bear evidence against; her lover. Such was the general impression received from her father, and the attorney Doldrum, who conducted the trial against Reilly, although our readers are well aware that on this point they spoke without authority. The governor of the prison, on going that morning to conduct him to the bar, said:
"I am sorry, Mr. Reilly, to be the bearer of bad news; but as the knowledge of it may be serviceable to you or your lawyers, I think I ought to mention it to you."
"Pray, what is it?" asked Reilly.
"Why, sir, it is said to be a fact that the Cooleen Bawn has proved false and treacherous, and is coming this day to bear her testimony against you."
Reilly replied with a smile of confidence, which the darkness of the room prevented the other from seeing, "Well, Mr. O'Shaugh-nessy, even if she does, it cannot be helped; have you heard what the nature of her evidence is likely to be?"
"No; it seems her father and Doldrum the attorney asked her, and she would not tell them; but she said she had made her mind up to attend the trial and see justice done. Don't be cast down, Mr. Reilly, though, upon my soul, I think she ought to have stood it out in your favor to the last."
"Come," said Reilly, "I am ready; time will tell, Mr. O'Shaughnessy, and a short time too; a few hours now, and all will know the result."
"I hope in God it may be in your favor, Mr. Reilly."
"Thank you, O'Shaughnessy; lead on; I am ready to attend you."
The jail was crowded even to suffocation; but this was not all. The street opposite the jail was nearly as much crowded as the jail itself, a moving, a crushing mass of thousands having been collected to abide and hear the issue. It was with great difficulty, and not without the aid of a strong military force, that a way could be cleared for the judge as he approached the prison. The crowd was silent and passive, but in consequence of the report that the Cooleen Bawn was to appear against Reilly, a profound melancholy and an expression of deep sorrow seemed to brood over it. Immediately after the judge's carriage came that of the squire, who was accompanied by his daughter, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Hastings, for Helen had insisted that her father should procure their attendance. A private room in the prison had, by previous arrangement, been prepared for them, and to this they were conducted by a back way, so as to avoid the crushing of the crowd. It was by this way also that the judge and lawyers entered the body of the court-house, without passing through the congregated mass.
At length the judge, having robed himself, took his seat on the bench, and, on casting his eye over the court-house, was astonished at the dense multitude that stood before him. On looking at the galleries, he saw that they were crowded with ladies of rank and fashion. Every thing having been now ready, the lawyers, each with his brief before him, and each with a calm, but serious and meditative aspect, the Clerk of the Crown cried out, in a voice which the hum of the crowd rendered necessarily loud:
"Mr. Jailer, put William Reilly to the bar."
At that moment a stir, a murmur, especially among the ladies in the gallery, and a turning of faces in the direction of the bar, took place as Reilly came forward, and stood erect in front of the judge. The very moment he made his appearance all eyes were fastened on him, and whatever the prejudices may have been against the Cooleen Bawn for falling in love with a Papist, that moment of his appearance absolved her from all—from every thing. A more noble or majestic figure never stood at that or any other bar. In the very prime of manhood, scarcely out of youth, with a figure like that of Antinous, tall, muscular, yet elegant, brown hair of the richest shade, a lofty forehead, features of the most manly cast, but exquisitely formed, and eyes which, but for the mellow softness of their expression, an eagle might have envied for their transparent brilliancy. The fame of his love for the Cooleen Bawn had come before him. The judge surveyed him with deep interest; so did every eye that could catch a view of his countenance; but, above all, were those in the gallery riveted upon him with a degree of interest—and, now that they had seen him, of sympathy—which we shall not attempt to describe. Some of them were so deeply affected that they could not suppress their tears, which, by the aid of their handkerchiefs, they endeavored to conceal as well as they could. Government, in this case, as it was not one of political interest, did not prosecute. A powerful bar was retained against Reilly, but an equally powerful one was engaged for him, the leading lawyer being, as we have stated, the celebrated advocate Fox, the Curran of his day.
The charge against him consisted of only two counts—that of robbing Squire Folliard of family jewels of immense value, and that of running away with his daughter, a ward of Chancery, contrary to her consent and inclination, and to the laws in that case made and provided.
The first witness produced was the sheriff—and, indeed, to state the truth, a very reluctant one was that humane gentleman on the occasion. Having been sworn, the leading counsel proceeded:
"You are the sheriff of this county?"
"Are you aware that jewellery to a large amount was stolen recently from Mr. Folliard?"
"I am not."
"You are not? Now, is it not a fact, of which you were an eye-witness, that the jewellery in question was found upon the person of the prisoner at the bar, in Mr. Folliard's house?"
"I must confess that I saw him about to be searched, and that a very valuable case of jewellery was found upon his person."
"Yes, found upon his person—a very valuable case of jewellery, the property of Mr. Folliard, found upon his person; mark that, gentlemen of the jury."
"Pardon me," said the sheriff, "I saw jewellery found upon him; but I cannot say on my oath whether it belonged to Mr. Folliard or not; all I can say is, that Mr. Folliard claimed the jewels as his."
"As his—just so. Nobody had a better right to claim them than the person to whom they belonged. What took place on the occasion?"
"Why, Mr. Folliard, as I said, claimed them, and Mr. Reilly refused to give them up to him."
"You hear that, gentlemen—refused to surrender him the property of which he had robbed him, even in his own house."
"And when you searched the prisoner?"
"We didn't search him; he refused to submit to a search."
"Refused to submit to a search! No wonder, I think! But, at the time he refused to submit to a search, had he the jewellery upon his person?"
"He had? You hear that gentlemen—at the time he refused to be searched he had the jewellery upon his person."
The sheriff was then cross-examined by Fox, to the following effect:
"Mr. Sheriff, have you been acquainted, or are you acquainted, with the prisoner at the bar?"
"Yes; I have known him for about three years—almost ever since he settled in this county."
"What is your opinion of him?"
"My opinion of him is very high."
"Yes—your opinion of him is very high," with a significant glance at the jury—"I believe it is, and I believe it ought to be. Now, upon your oath, do you believe that the prisoner at the bar is capable of the theft or robbery imputed to him?"
"I do not!"
"You do not? What did he say when the jewels were found upon him?"
"He refused to surrender them to Mr. Folliard as having no legal claim upon them, and refused, at first, to place them in any hands but Miss Folliard's own; but, on understanding that she was not in—a state to receive them from him, he placed them in mine."
"Then he considered that they were Miss Folliard's personal property, and not her father's?"
"So it seemed to me from what he said at the time."
"That will do, sir; you may go down."
"Alexander Folliard" and the father then made his appearance on the table; he looked about him, with a restless eye, and appeared in a state of great agitation, but it was the agitation of an enraged and revengeful man.
He turned his eyes upon Reilly, and exclaimed with bitterness: "There you are, Willy Reilly, who have stained the reputation of my child, and disgraced her family."
"Mr. Folliard," said his lawyer, "you have had in your possession very valuable family jewels."
"Whose property were they?"
"Why, mine, I should think."
"Could you identify them?"
"Certainly I could."
"Are these the jewels in question?"
The old man put on his spectacles, and examined them closely.
"They are; I know every one of them."
"They were stolen from you?"
"On whose person, after having been stolen, were they found?"
"On the person of the prisoner at the bar."
"You swear that?"
"I do; because I saw him take them out of his pocket in my own house after he had been made prisoner and detected."
"Then they are your property?"
"Certainly—I consider them my property; who else's property could they be."
"Pray, is not your daughter a minor?"
"And a ward in the Court of Chancery?"
"That will do, sir."
The squire was then about to leave the table, when Mr. Fox addressed him:
"Not yet, Mr. Folliard, if you please; you swear the jewels are yours?"
"I do; to whom else should they belong?"
"Are you of opinion that the prisoner at the bar robbed you of them?"
"I found them in his possession."
"And you now identify them as the same jewels which you found in his possession?"
"Hang it, haven't I said so before?"
"Pray, Mr. Folliard, keep your temper, if you please, and answer me civilly and as a gentleman. Suffer me to ask you are there any other family jewels in your possession?"
"Yes, the Folliard jewels?"
"The Folliard jewels! And how do they differ in denomination from those found upon the prisoner?"
"Those found upon the prisoner are called the Bingham jewels, from the fact of my wife, who was a Bingham, having brought them into our family."
"And pray, did not your wife always consider those jewels as her own private property?"
"Why, I believe she did."
"And did she not, at her death-bed, bequeath those very jewels to her daughter, the present Miss Folliard, on the condition that she too should consider them as her private property?"
"Why, I believe she did; indeed, I am sure of it, because I was present at the time."
"In what part of the house were those jewels deposited?"
"In a large oak cabinet that stands in a recess in my library."
"Did you keep what you call the Folliard jewels there?"
"Yes, all our jewellery was kept there."
"But there was no portion of the Folliard jewellery touched?"
"No; but the Bingham sets were all taken, and all found upon the prisoner."
"What was your opinion of the prisoner's circumstances?"
"I could form no opinion about them."
"Had he not the reputation of being an independent man?"
"I believe such was the impression."
"In what style of life did he live?"
"Certainly in the style of a gentleman."
"Do you think, then, that necessity was likely to tempt a man of independence like him to steal your daughter's jewels?"
"I'd advise you, Sergeant Fox, not to put me out of temper; I haven't much to spare just now. What the deuce are you at?"
"Will you answer my question?"
"No, I don't think it was."
"If the Bingham jewellery had been stolen by a thief, do you think that thief would have left the Folliard jewellery behind him?"
"I'll take my oath you wouldn't, if you had been in the place of the person that took them. You'd have put the Bingham jewellery in one pocket, and balanced it with the Folliard in the other. But," he added, after a slight pause, "the villain stole from me a jewel more valuable and dearer to her father's heart than all the jewellery of the universal world put together. He stole my child, my only child," and as he spoke the tears ran slowly down his cheeks. The court and spectators were touched by this, and Fox felt that it was a point against them. Even he himself was touched, and saw that, with respect to Reilly's safety, the sooner he got rid of the old man, for the present at least, the better.
"Mr. Folliard," said he, "you may withdraw now. Your daughter loved, as what woman has not? There stands the object of her affections, and I appeal to your own feelings whether any living woman could be blamed for loving such a man. You may go down, sir, for the present."
The prosecuting counsel then said: "My lord, we produce Miss Folliard herself to bear testimony against this man. Crier, let Helen Folliard be called."
Now was the moment of intense and incredible interest. There was the far-famed beauty herself, to appear against her manly lover. The stir in the court, the expectation, the anxiety to see her, the stretching of necks, the pressure of one over another, the fervor of curiosity, was such as the reader may possibly conceive, but such certainly as we cannot attempt to describe. She advanced from a side door, deeply veiled; but the tall and majestic elegance of her figure not only struck all hearts with admiration, but prepared them for the inexpressible beauty with which the whole kingdom rang. She was assisted to the table, and helped into the witness's chair by her father, who seemed to triumph in her appearance there. On taking her seat, the buzz and murmur of the spectators became hushed into a silence like that of death, and, until she spoke, a feather might have been heard falling in the court.
"Miss Folliard," said the judge, in a most respectful voice, "you are deeply veiled—but perhaps you are not aware that, in order to give evidence in a court of justice, your veil should be up; will you have the goodness to raise it?"
Deliberately and slowly she raised it, as the court had desired her—but, oh! what an effulgence of beauty, what wonderful brilliancy, what symmetry, what radiance, what tenderness, what expression!
But we feel that to attempt the description of that face, which almost had divinity stamped upon it, is beyond all our powers. The whole court, every spectator, man and woman, all for a time were mute, whilst their hearts drank in the delicious draught of admiration which such beauty created. After having raised her veil, she looked around the court with a kind of wonder, after which her eyes rested on Reilly, and immediately her lids dropped, for she feared that she had done wrong in looking upon him. This made many of those hearts who were interested in his fate sink, and wonder why such treachery should be associated with features that breathed only of angelic goodness and humanity.
"Miss Folliard," said the leading counsel engaged against Reilly, "I am happy to hear that you regret some past occurrences that took place with respect to you and the prisoner at the bar."
"Yes," she replied, in a voice that was melody itself, "I do regret them."
Fox kept his eye fixed upon her, after which he whispered something to one or two of his brother lawyers; they shook their heads, and immediately set themselves to hear and note her examination.
"Miss Folliard, you are aware of the charges which have placed the prisoner at the bar of justice and his country?"
"Not exactly; I have heard little of it beyond the fact of his incarceration."
"He stands there charged with two very heinous crimes—one of them, the theft or robbery of a valuable packet of jewels, your father's property."
"Oh, no," she replied, "they are my own exclusive property—not my father's. They were the property of my dear mother, who, on her death-bed, bequeathed them to me, in the presence of my father himself; and I always considered them as mine."
"But they were found upon the person of the prisoner?"
"Oh, yes; but that is very easily explained. It is no secret now, that, in order to avoid a marriage which my father was forcing on me with Sir Robert Whitecraft, I chose the less evil, and committed myself to the honor of Mr. Reilly. If I had not done so I should have committed suicide, I think, rather than marry Whitecraft—a man so utterly devoid of principle and delicacy that he sent an abandoned female into my father's house in the capacity of my maid and also as a spy upon my conduct."
This astounding fact created an immense sensation throughout the court, and the lawyer who was examining her began to feel that her object in coming there was to give evidence in favor of Reilly, and not against him. He determined, however, to try her a little farther, and proceeded:
"But, Miss Folliard, how do you account for the fact of the Bingham jewels being found upon the person of the prisoner?"
"It is the simplest thing in the world," she replied. "I brought my own jewels with me, and finding", as we proceeded, that I was likely to lose them, having no pocket sufficiently safe in which to carry them, I asked Reilly to take charge of them, which he did. Our unexpected capture, and the consequent agitation, prevented him from returning them to me, and they were accordingly found upon his person; but, as for stealing them, he is just as guilty as his lordship on the bench."
"Miss Folliard," proceeded the lawyer, "you have taken us by surprise to-day. How does it happen that you volunteered your evidence against the prisoner, and, now that you have come forward, every word you utter is in his favor? Your mind must have recently changed—a fact which takes very much away from the force of that evidence."
"I pray you, sir, to understand me, and not suffer yourself to be misled. I never stated that I was about to come here to give evidence against Mr. Reilly; but I said, when strongly pressed to come, that I would come, and see justice done. Had they asked me my meaning, I would have instantly told them; because, I trust, I am incapable of falsehood; and I will say now, that if my life could obtain that of William Reilly, I would lay it willingly down for him, as I am certain he would lay down his for the preservation of mine."
There was a pause here, and a murmur of approbation ran through the court. The opposing counsel, too, found that they had been led astray, and that to examine her any further would be only a weakening of their own cause. They attached, however, no blame of insincerity to her, but visited with much bitterness the unexpected capsize which they had got, on the stupid head of Doldrum, their attorney. They consequently determined to ask her no more questions, and she was about to withdraw, when Fox rose up, and said:
"Miss Folliard, I am counsel for the prisoner at the bar, and I trust you will answer me a few questions. I perceive, madam, that you are fatigued of this scene; but the questions I shall put to you will be few and brief. An attachment has existed for some time between you and the prisoner at the bar? You need not be ashamed, madam, to reply to it."
"I am not ashamed," she replied proudly, "and it is true."
"Was your father aware of that attachment at any time?"
"He was, from a very early period."
"Pray, how did he discover it?"
"I myself told him of my love for Reilly."
"Did your father give his consent to that attachment?"
"Conditionally he did."
"And pray, Miss Folliard, what were the conditions?"
"That Reilly should abjure his creed, and then no further obstacles should stand in the way of our union, he said."
"Was ever that proposal mentioned to Reilly?"
"Yes, I mentioned it to him myself; but, well as he loved me, he would suffer to go into an early grave, he said, sooner than abandon his religion; and I loved him a thousand times better for his noble adherence to it."
"Did he not save your father's life?"
"He did, and the life of a faithful and attached old servant at the same time."
Now, although this fact was generally known, yet the statement of it here occasioned a strong expression of indignation against the man who could come forward and prosecute the individual, to whose courage and gallantry he stood indebted for his escape from murder. The uncertainty of Folliard's character, however, was so well known, and his whimsical changes of opinion such a matter of proverb among the people, that many persons said to each other:
"The cracked old squire is in one of his tantrums now; he'll be a proud man if he can convict Reilly to-day; and perhaps to-morrow, or in a month hence, he'll be cursing; himself for what he did—for that's his way."
"Well, Miss Folliard," said Fox, "we will not detain you any longer; this to you must be a painful scene; you may retire, madam."
She did not immediately withdraw, but taking a green silk purse out of her bosom, she opened it, and, after inserting her long, white, taper fingers into it, she brought out a valuable emerald ring, and placing it in the hands of the crier, she said:
"Give that ring to the prisoner: I know not, William," she added, "whether I shall ever see you again or not. It may so happen that this is the last time my eyes can ever rest upon you with love and sorrow." Here a few bright tears ran down her lovely cheeks. "If you should be sent to a far-off land, wear this for the sake of her who appreciated your virtues, your noble spirit, and your pure and disinterested love; look upon it when, perhaps, the Atlantic may roll between us, and when you do, think of your Cooleen Bawn, and the love she bore you; but if a still unhappier fate should be yours, let it be placed with you in your grave, and next that heart, that noble heart, that refused to sacrifice your honor and your religion even to your love for me. I will now go."
There is nothing so brave and fearless as innocence. Her youth, the majesty of her beauty, and the pathos of her expressions, absolutely flooded the court with tears. The judge wept, and hardened old barristers, with hearts like the nether millstone, were forced to put their handkerchiefs to their eyes; but as they felt that it might be detrimental to! their professional characters to be caught weeping, they shaded off the pathos under the hypocritical pretence of blowing their noses. The sobs from the ladies in the gallery were loud and vehement, and Reilly himself was so deeply moved that he felt obliged to put his face upon his hands, as he bent over the bar, in order to conceal his emotion. He received the ring with moist eyes, kissed it, and placed it in a small locket which he put in his bosom.
"Now," said the Cooleen Bawn, "I am ready to go."
She was then conducted to the room to which we have alluded, where she met Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Hastings, both of whom she found in tears—for they had been in the gallery, and witnessed all that had happened. They both embraced her tenderly, and attempted to console her as well as they could; but a weight like death, she said, pressed upon her heart, and she begged them not to distract her by their sympathy, kind and generous as she felt it to be, but to allow her to sit, and nurture her own thoughts until she could hear the verdict of the jury. Mrs. Hastings returned to the gallery, and arrived there in time to hear the touching and brilliant speech of Fox, which we are not presumptuous enough to imagine, much less to stultify ourselves by attempting to give. He dashed the charge of Reilly's theft of the jewels to pieces—not a difficult task, after the evidence that had been given; and then dwelt upon the loves of this celebrated pair with such force and eloquence and pathos that the court was once more melted into tears. The closing speech by the leading counsel against Reilly was bitter; but the gist of it turned upon the fact of his having eloped with a ward of Chancery, contrary to law; and he informed the jury that no affection—no consent upon the part of any young lady under age was either a justification of, or a protection against, such an abduction as that of which Reilly had been guilty. The state of the law at the present time, he assured them, rendered it a felony to marry a Catholic and a Protestant together; and he then left the case in the hands, he said, of an honest Protestant jury.
The judge's charge was brief. He told the jury that they could not convict the prisoner on the imputed felony of the jewels; but that the proof of his having taken away Miss Folliard from her father's house, with—as the law stood—her felonious abduction, for the purpose of inveigling her into an unlawful marriage with himself, was the subject for their consideration. Even had he been a Protestant, the law could afford him no protection in the eye of the Court of Chancery.
The jury retired; but their absence from their box was very brief. Unfortunately, their foreman was cursed with a dreadful hesitation in his speech, and, as he entered, the Clerk of the Crown said:
"Well, gentlemen, have you agreed in your verdict?"
There was a solemn silence, during which nothing was heard but a convulsive working about the chest and glottis of the foreman, who at length said:
"Is the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?"
Here the internal but obstructed machinery of the chest and throat set to work again, and at last the foreman was able to get out—"Guilty—"
Mrs. Hastings had heard enough, and too much; and, as the sentence was pronounced, she instantly withdrew; but how to convey the melancholy tidings to the Cooleen Bawn she knew not. In the meantime the foreman, who had not fully delivered himself of the verdict, added, after two or three desperate hiccups—"on the second count."
This, if the foreman had not labored under such an extraordinary hesitation, might have prevented much suffering, and many years of unconscious calamity to one of the unhappy parties of whom we are writing, inasmuch as the felony of the jewels would have been death, whilst the elopement with a ward of Chancery was only transportation.
When Mrs. Hastings entered the room where the Cooleen Bawn was awaiting the verdict with a dreadful intensity of feeling, the latter rose up, and, throwing her arms about her neck, looked into her face, with an expression of eagerness and wildness, which Mrs. Hastings thought might be best allayed by knowing the worst, as the heart, in such circumstances, generally collects itself, and falls back upon its own resources.
"Well, Mrs. Hastings, well—the verdict?"
"Collect yourself, my child—be firm—be a woman. Collect yourself—for you will require it. The verdict—Guilty!"
The Cooleen Bawn did not faint—nor become weak—but she put her fair white hand to her forehead—then looked around the room, then upon Mrs. Brown, and lastly upon Mrs. Hastings. They also looked upon her. God help both her and them! Yes, they looked upon her countenance—that lovely countenance—and then into her eyes—those eyes! But, alas! where was their beauty now? Where their expression?
"Miss Folliard! my darling Helen!" exclaimed Mrs. Hastings, in tears—"great God, what is this, Mrs. Brown? Come here and look at her."
Mrs. Brown, on looking at her, whispered, in choking accents, "Oh! my God, the child's reason is overturned; what is there now in those once glorious eyes but vacancy? Oh, that I had never lived to see this awful day! Helen, the treasure, the delight of all who ever knew you, what is wrong? Oh, speak to us—recognize us—your own two best friends—Helen—Helen! speak to us."
She looked upon them certainly; but it was with a dead and vacant stare which wrung their hearts.
"Come," said she, "tell me where is William Reilly? Oh, bring me to William Reilly; they have taken me from him, and I. know not where to find him."
The two kind-hearted ladies looked at one another, each stupefied by the mystery of what they witnessed.
"Oh," said Mrs. Hastings, "her father must be instantly sent for Mrs. Brown, go to the lobby—there is an officer there—desire him to go to Mr. Folliard and say that—but we had better not alarm him too much," she added, "say that Miss Folliard wishes to see him immediately."
The judge, we may observe here, had not yet pronounced sentence upon Reilly. The old man, who, under all possible circumstances, was so affectionately devoted and attentive to his daughter, immediately proceeded to the room, in a state of great triumph and exultation exclaiming, "Guilty, guilty; we have noosed him at last." He even snapped his fingers, and danced about for a time, until rebuked by Mrs. Hastings.
"Unhappy and miserable old man," she exclaimed, with tears, "what have you done? Look at the condition of your only child, whom you have murdered. She is now a maniac."
"What," he exclaimed, rushing to her, "what, what is this? What do you mean? Helen, my darling, my child—my delight—what is wrong with you? Recollect yourself, my dearest treasure. Do you not know me, your own father? Oh, Helen, Helen! for the love of God speak to me. Say you know me—call me father—rouse yourself—recollect me—don't you know who I am?"
There, however, was the frightfully vacant glance, but no reply.
"Oh," said she, in a low, calm voice, "where is William Reilly? They have taken me from him, and I cannot find him; bring me to William Reilly."
"Don't you know me, Helen? don't you know your loving father? Oh, speak to me, child of my heart! speak but one word as a proof that you know me."
She looked on him, but that look filled his heart with unutterable anguish; he clasped her to that heart, he kissed her lips, he strove to soothe and console her—but in vain. There was the vacant but unsettled eye, from which the bright expression of reason was gone; but no recognition—no spark of reflection or conscious thought—nothing but the melancholy inquiry from those beautiful lips of—"Where's William Reilly? They have taken me from him—and will not allow me to see him. Oh, bring me to William Reilly!"
"Oh, wretched fate!" exclaimed her distracted father, "I am—I am a murderer, and faithful Connor was right—Mrs. Brown—Mrs. Hastings—hear me, both—I was warned of this, but I would not listen either to reason or remonstrance, and now I am punished, as Connor predicted. Great heaven, what a fate both for her and me—for her the innocent, and for me the guilty!"
It is unnecessary to dwell upon the father's misery and distraction; but, from all our readers have learned of his extraordinary tenderness and affection for that good and lovely daughter, they may judge of what he suffered. He immediately ordered his carriage, and had barely time to hear that Reilly had been sentenced to transportation for seven years. His daughter was quite meek and tractable; she spoke not, nor could any ingenuity on their part extract the slightest reply from her. Neither did she shed a single tear, but the vacant light of her eyes had stamped a fatuitous expression on her features that was melancholy and heartbreaking beyond all power of language to describe.
No other person had seen her since the bereavement of her reason, except the officer who kept guard on the lobby, and who, in the hurry and distraction of the moment, had been dispatched by Mrs. Brown for a glass of cold water. Her father's ravings, however, in the man's presence, added to his own observation, and the distress of her female friends were quite sufficient to satisfy him of the nature of her complaint, and in less than half an hour it was through the whole court-house, and the town besides, that the Cooleen Bawn had gone mad on hearing the sentence that was passed upon her lover. Her two friends accompanied her home, and remained with her for the night.
Such was the melancholy conclusion of the trial of Willy Reilly; but even taking it at its worst, it involved a very different fate from that of his vindictive rival, Whitecraft. It appeared that that worthy gentleman and the Red Rapparee had been sentenced to die on the same day, and at the same hour. It is true, Whitecraft was aware that a deputation had gone post-haste to Dublin Castle to solicit his pardon, or at least some lenient commutation of punishment. Still, it was feared that, owing to the dreadful state of the roads, and the slow mode of travelling at that period, there was a probability that the pardon might not arrive in time to be available; and indeed there was every reason to apprehend as much. The day appointed for the execution of the Red Rapparee and him arrived—nay, the very hour had come; but still there was hope, among his friends. The sheriff, a firm, but fair and reasonable man, waited beyond the time named by the judge for his execution. At length he felt the necessity of discharging his duty; for, although more than an hour beyond the appointed period had now elapsed, yet this delay proceeded from no personal regard he entertained for the felon, but from respect for many of those who had interested themselves in his fate.
After an unusual delay the sheriff felt himself called upon to order both the Rapparee and the baronet for execution. In waiting so long for a pardon, he felt that he had transgressed his duty, and he accordingly ordered them out for the last ceremony. The hardened Rapparee died sullen and silent; the only regret he expressed being that he could not live to see his old friend turned off before him.
"Troth," replied the hangman, "only that the sheriff has ordhered me to hang you first as bein' the betther man, I would give you that same satisfaction; but if you're not in a very great hurry to the warm corner you're goin' to, and if you will just take your time for a few minutes, I'll engage to say you will soon have company. God speed you, any way," he exclaimed as he turned him off; "only take your time, and wait for your neighbors. Now, Sir Robert," said he, "turn about, they say, is fair play—it's your turn now; but you look unbecomin' upon it. Hould up your head, man, and don't be cast down. You'll have company where you're goin'; for the Red Rapparee tould me to tell you that he'd wait for you. Hallo!—what's that?" he exclaimed as he cast his eye to the distance and discovered a horseman riding for life, with a white handkerchief, or flag of some kind, floating in the breeze. The elevated position in which the executioner was placed enabled him to see the signal before it could be perceived by the crowd. "Come, Sir Robert," said he, "stand where I'll place you—there's no use in asking you to hould up your head, for you're not able; but listen. You hanged my brother that you knew to be innocent; and now I hang you that I know to be guilty. Yes, I hang you, with the white flag of the Lord Lieutenant's pardon for you wavin' in the distance; and listen again, remember Willy Reilly;" and with these words he launched him into eternity.
The uproar among his friends was immense, as was the cheering from the general crowd, at the just fate of this bad man. The former rushed to the gallows, in order to cut him down, with a hope that life might still be in him, a process which the sheriff, after perusing his pardon, permitted them to carry into effect. The body was accordingly taken into the prison, and a surgeon procured to examine it; but altogether in vain; his hour had gone by, life was extinct, and all the honor they could now pay Sir Robert Whitecraft was to give him a pompous funeral, and declare him a martyr to Popery both of which they did.
On the day previous to Reilly's departure his humble friend and namesake, Fergus, at the earnest solicitation of Reilly himself, was permitted to pay him a last melancholy visit. After his sentence, as well as before it, every attention had been paid to him by O'Shaughnessy, the jailer, who, although an avowed Protestant, and a brand plucked from the burning, was, nevertheless, a lurking Catholic at heart, and felt a corresponding sympathy with his prisoner. When Fergus entered his cell he found him neither fettered nor manacled, but perfectly in the enjoyment at least of bodily freedom. It is impossible, indeed, to say how far the influence of money may have gone in securing him the comforts which surrounded him, and the attentions which he received. On entering his cell, Fergus was struck by the calm and composed air with which he received him. His face, it is true, was paler than usual, but a feeling of indignant pride, if not of fixed but stern indignation, might be read under the composure into which he forced himself, and which he endeavored to suppress. He approached Fergus, and extending his hand with a peculiar smile, very difficult to be described, said:
"Fergus, I am glad to see you; I hope you are safe—at least I have heard so."
"I am safe, sir, and free," replied Fergus; "thanks to the Red Rapparee and the sheriff for it."
"Well," proceeded Reilly, "you have one comfort—the Red Rapparee will neither tempt you nor trouble you again; but is there no danger of his gang taking up his quarrel and avenging him?"
"His gang, sir? Why, only for me he would a' betrayed every man of them to Whitecraft and the Government, and had them hanged, drawn, and quartered—ay, and their heads grinning at us in every town in the county."
"Well, Fergus, let his name and his crimes perish with him; but, as for you, what do you intend to do?"
"Troth, sir," replied Fergus, "it's more than I rightly know. I had my hopes, like others; but, somehow, luck has left all sorts of lovers of late—from Sir Robert Whitecraft to your humble servant."
"But you may thank God," said Reilly, with a smile, "that you had not Sir Robert Whitecraft's luck."
"Faith, sir," replied Fergus archly, "there's a pair of us may do so. You went nearer his luck—such as it was—than I did."
"True enough," replied the other, with a serious air; "I had certainly a narrow escape; but I wish to know, as I said, what you intend to do? It is your duty now, Fergus, to settle industriously and honestly."
"Ah, sir, honestly. I didn't expect that from you, Mr. Reilly."
"Excuse me, Fergus," said Reilly, taking him by the hand; "when I said honestly I did not mean to intimate any thing whatsoever against your integrity. I know, unfortunately, the harsh circumstances which drove you to associate with that remorseless villain and his gang; but I wish you to resume an industrious life, and, if Ellen Connor is disposed to unite her fate with yours, I have provided the means—ample means for you both to be comfortable and happy. She who was so faithful to her mistress will not fail to make you a good wife."
"Ah," replied Fergus, "it's I that knows that well; but, unfortunately, I have no hope there."
"No hope; how is that? I thought your affection was mutual."
"So it is, sir—or, rather, so it was; but she has affection for nobody now, barring the Cooleen Bawn."
Reilly paused, and appeared deeply moved by this. "What," said he, "will she not leave her? But I am not surprised at it."
"No, sir, she will not leave her, but has taken an oath to stay by her night and day, until—better times come."
We may say here that Reillys friends took care that neither jailer nor turnkey should make him acquainted with the unhappy state of the Cooleen Bawn; he was consequently ignorant of it, and, fortunately, remained so until after his return home.
"Fergus," said Reilly, "can you tell me how the Cooleen Bawn bears the sentence which sends me to a far country?"
"How would she bear it, sir? You needn't ask: Connor, at all events, will not part from her—not, anyway, until you come back."
"Well, Fergus," proceeded Reilly, "I have, as I said, provided for you both; what that provision is I will not mention now. Mr. Hastings will inform you. But if you have a wish to leave this unhappy and distracted country, even without Connor, why, by applying to him, you will be enabled to do so; or, if you wish to stay at home and take a farm, you may do so."
"Divil a foot I'll leave the country," replied the other. "Ellen may stick to the Cooleen Bawn, but, be my sowl, I'll stick to Ellen, if I was to wait these seven years. I'll be as stiff as she is stout; but, at any rate, she's worth waitin' for."
"You may well say so," replied Reilly, "and I can quarrel neither with your attachment nor your patience; but you will not forget to let her know the provision which I have left for her in the hands of Mr. Hastings, and tell her it is a slight reward for her noble attachment to my dear Cooleen Bawn. Fergus," he proceeded, "have you ever had a dream in the middle of which you awoke, then fell asleep and dreamt out the dream?"
"Troth had I, often, sir; and, by the way, talkin' of dreams, I dreamt last night that I was wantin' Ellen to marry me, and she said, 'not yet, Fergus, but in due time.'"
"Well, Fergus," proceeded Reilly, "perhaps there is but half my dream of life gone; who knows when I return—if I ever do—but my dream may be completed? and happily, too; I know the truth and faith of my dear Cooleen Bawn. And, Fergus, it is not merely my dear Cooleen Bawn that I feel for, but for my unfortunate country. I am not, however, without hope that the day will come—although it may be a distant one—when she will enjoy freedom, peace, and prosperity. Now, Fergus, good-by, and farewell! Come, come, be a man," he added, with a melancholy smile, whilst a tear stood even in his own eye—"come, Fergus, I will not have this; I won't say farewell for ever, because I expect to return and be happy yet—if not in my own country, at least in some other, where there is more freedom and less persecution for conscience' sake."
Poor Fergus, however, when the parting moment arrived, was completely overcome. He caught Reilly in his arms—wept over him bitterly—and, after a last and sorrowful embrace, was prevailed upon to take his leave.
The history of the Cooleen Bawn's melancholy fate soon went far and near, and many an eye that had never rested on her beauty gave its tribute of tears to her undeserved sorrows. There existed, however, one individual who was the object of almost as deep a compassion; this was her father, who was consumed by the bitterest and most profound remorse. His whole character became changed by his terrible and unexpected shock, by which his beautiful and angelic daughter had been blasted before his eyes. He was no longer the boisterous and convivial old squire, changeful and unsettled in all his opinions, but silent, quiet, and abstracted almost from life.
He wept incessantly, but his tears did not bring him comfort, for they were tears of anguish and despair. Ten times a day he would proceed to her chamber, or follow her to the garden where she loved to walk, always in the delusive hope that he might catch some spark of returning reason from those calm-looking but meaningless eyes, after which he would weep like a child. With respect to his daughter, every thing was done for her that wealth and human means could accomplish, but to no purpose; the malady was too deeply seated to be affected by any known remedy, whether moral or physical. From the moment she was struck into insanity she was never known to smile, or to speak, unless when she chanced to see a stranger, upon which she immediately approached, and asked, with clasped hands:
"Oh! can you tell me where is William Reilly? They have taken me from him, and, I cannot find him. Oh! can you tell me where is William Reilly?"
There was, however, another individual upon whose heart the calamity of the Cooleen Bawn fell like a blight that seemed to have struck it into such misery and sorrow as threatened to end only with life. This was the faithful and attached Ellen Connor. On the day of Reilly's trial she experienced the alternations of hope, uncertainty, and despair, with such a depth of anxious feeling, and such feverish excitement, that the period of time which elapsed appeared to her as if it would never come to an end. She could neither sit, nor stand, nor work, nor read, nor take her meals, nor scarcely think with any consistency or clearness of thought. We have mentioned hope—but it was the faintest and the feeblest element in that chaos of distress and confusion which filled and distracted her mind. She knew the state and condition of the country too well—she knew the powerful influence of Mr. Folliard in his native county—she knew what the consequences to Reilly must be of taking away a Protestant heiress; the fact was there—plain, distinct, and incontrovertible, and she knew that no chance of impunity or acquittal remained for any one of his creed guilty of such a violation of the laws—we say, she knew all this—but it was not of the fate of Reilly she thought. The girl was an acute observer, and both a close and clear thinker. She had remarked in the Cooleen Bawn, on several occasions, small gushes, as it were, of unsettled thought, and of temporary wildness, almost approaching to insanity. She knew, besides, that insanity was in the family on her father's side; * and, as she had so boldly and firmly stated to that father himself, she dreaded the result which Reilly's conviction might produce upon a mind with such a tendency, worn down and depressed as it had been by all she had suffered, and more especially what she must feel by the tumult and agitation of that dreadful day.
* The reader must take this as the necessary material for our fiction. There never was insanity in Helen's family; and we make this note to prevent them from taking unnecessary offence.
It was about two hours after dark when she was startled by the noise of the carriage-wheels as they came up the avenue. Her heart beat as if it would burst, the blood rushed to her head, and she became too giddy to stand or walk; then it seemed to rush back to her heart, and she was seized with thick breathing and feebleness; but at length, strengthened by the very intensity of the interest she felt, she made her way to the lower steps of the hall door in time to be present when the carriage arrived at it. She determined, however, wrought up as she was to the highest state of excitement, to await, to watch, to listen. She did so. The carriage stopped at the usual place, the coachman came down and opened the door, and Mr. Folliard came out. After him, assisted by Mrs. Brown, came Helen, who was immediately conducted in between the latter and her father. In the meantime poor Ellen could only look on. She was incapable of asking a single question, but she followed them up to the drawing-room where they conducted her mistress. When she was about to enter, Mrs. Brown said:
"Ellen, you had better not come in; your mistress is unwell."
Mrs. Hastings then approached, and, with a good deal of judgment and consideration, said:
"I think it is better, Mrs. Brown, that Ellen should see her, or, rather, that she should see Ellen. Who can tell how beneficial the effect may be on her? We all know how she was attached to Ellen."
In addition to those fearful intimations, Ellen heard inside the sobs and groans of her distracted father, mingled with caresses and such tender and affectionate language as, she knew by the words, could only be addressed to a person incapable of understanding them. Mrs. Brown held the door partially closed, but the faithful girl would not be repulsed. She pushed in, exclaiming:
"Stand back, Mrs. Brown, I must see my mistress!—if she is my mistress, or anybody's mistress now,"—and accordingly she approached the settee on which the Cooleen Bawn sat. The old squire was wringing his hands, sobbing, and giving vent to the most uncontrollable sorrow.
"Oh, Ellen," said he, "pity and forgive me. Your mistress is gone, gone!—she knows nobody!"
"Stand aside," she replied; "stand aside all of you; let me to her."
She knelt beside the settee, looked distractedly,—but keenly, at her for about half a minute—but there she sat, calm, pale, and unconscious. At length she turned her eyes upon Ellen—for ever since the girl's entrance she had been gazing on vacancy—and immediately said:
"Oh! can you tell me where is William Reilly? They have taken me from him, and I cannot find him. Oh! will you tell me where is William Reilly?"
Ellen gave two or three rapid sobs; but, by a powerful effort, she somewhat composed herself.
"Miss Folliard," she said, in a choking voice, however, "darling Miss Folliard—my beloved mistress—Cooleen Bawn—oh, do you not know me—me, your own faithful Ellen, that loved you—and that loves you so well—ay, beyond father and mother, and all others living in this unhappy world? Oh, speak to me, dear mistress—speak to your own faithful Ellen, and only say that you know me, or only look upon me as if you did."
Not a glance, however, of recognition followed those loving solicitations; but there, before them all, she sat, with the pale face, the sorrowful brow, and the vacant look. Ellen addressed her with equal tenderness again and again, but with the same melancholy effect. The effect was beyond question—reason had departed; the fair temple was there, but the light of the divinity that had been enshrined in it was no longer visible; it seemed to have been abandoned probably for ever. Ellen now finding that every effort to restore her to rational consciousness was ineffectual, rose up, and, looking about for a moment, her eyes rested upon her father.
"Oh, Ellen!" he exclaimed, "spare me, spare me—you know I'm in your power. I neglected your honest and friendly warning, and now it is too late."
"Poor man!" she replied, "it is not she, but you, that is to be pitied. No; after this miserable sight, never shall my lips breathe one syllable of censure against you. Your punishment is too dreadful for that. But when I look upon her—look upon her now—oh, my God! what is this?"—
"Help the girl," said Mrs. Brown quickly, and with alarm. "Oh, she has fallen—raise her up, Mr. Folliard. Oh, my God, Mrs. Hastings, what a scene is this!"
They immediately opened her stays, and conveyed her to another settee, where she lay for nearly a quarter of an hour in a calm and tranquil insensibility. With the aid of the usual remedies, however, she was, but with some difficulty, restored, after which she burst into tears, and wept for some time bitterly. At length she recovered a certain degree of composure, and, after settling her dress and luxuriant brown hair, aided by Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Hastings, she arose, and once more approaching her lovely, but unconscious, mistress, knelt down, and, clasping her hands, looked up to heaven, whilst she said:
"Here, I take the Almighty God to witness, that from this moment out I renounce father and mother, brother and sister, friend and relative, man and woman, and will abide by my dear unhappy Cooleen Bawn—that blighted flower before us—both by day and by night—through all seasons—through all places wherever she may go, or be brought, until it may please God to restore her to reason, or until death may close her sufferings, should I live so long, and have health and strength to carry out this solemn oath; so may God hear me, and assist me in my intention."
She then rose, and, putting her arms around the fair girl, kissed her lips, and poured forth a copious flood of tears into her bosom.
"I am yours now," she said, caressing her mournfully: "I am yours now, my ever darling mistress; and from this hour forth nothing but death will ever separate your own Connor from you."
Well and faithfully did she keep that generous and heroic oath. Ever, for many a long and hopeless year, was she to be found, both night and day, by the side of that beautiful but melancholy sufferer. No other hand ever dressed or undressed her; no other individual ever attended to her wants, or complied with those little fitful changes and caprices to which persons of her unhappy class are subject. The consequence of this tender and devoted attachment was singular, but not by any means incompatible, we think, even with her situation. If Connor, for instance, was any short time absent, and another person supplied her place, the Cooleen Bawn, in whose noble and loving heart the strong instincts of affection could never die, uniformly appeared dissatisfied and uneasy, and looked around her, as if for some object that would afford her pleasure. On Ellen's reappearance a faint but placid smile would shed its feeble light over her countenance, and she would appear calm and contented; but, during all this time, word uttered she none, with the exception of those to which we have already alluded.
These were the only words she was known to utter, and no stranger ever came in her way to whom she did not repeat them. In this way her father, her maid, and herself passed through a melancholy existence for better than six years, when a young physician of great promise happened to settle in the town of Sligo, and her father having heard of it had him immediately called in. After looking at her, however, he found himself accosted in the same terms we have already given:
"Oh! can you tell me where is William Reilly?"
"William Reilly will soon be with you," he replied; "he will soon be here."
A start—barely, scarcely perceptible, was noticed by the keen eye of the physician; but it passed away, and left nothing but that fixed and beautiful vacancy behind it.
"Sir," said the physician, "I do not absolutely despair of Miss Folliard's recovery: the influence of some deep excitement, if it could be made accessible, might produce a good effect; it was by a shock it came upon her, and I am of opinion that if she ever does recover it will be by something similar to that which induced her pitiable malady."
"I will give a thousand pounds—five thousand—ten thousand, to any man who will be fortunate enough to restore her to reason," said her father.
"One course," proceeded the physician, "I would recommend you to pursue; bring her about as much as you can; give her variety of scenery and variety of new faces; visit your friends, and bring her with you. This course may have some effect; as for medicine, it is of no use here, for her health is in every other respect good."
He then took his leave, having first received a fee which somewhat astonished him.
His advice, however, was followed; her father and she, and Connor, during the summer and autumn months, visited among their acquaintances and friends, by whom they were treated with the greatest and most considerate kindness; but, so far as poor Helen was concerned, no symptom of any salutary change became visible; the long, dull blank of departed reason was still unbroken.
* * * * * * *
Better than seven years—and a half had now elapsed, when she and her father came by invitation to pay a visit to a Mr. Hamilton, grandfather to the late Dacre Hamilton of Monaghan, who—the grandfather we mean—was one of the most notorious priest-hunters of the day, We need not say that her faithful Connor was still in attendance. Old Folliard went riding out with his friend, for he was now so much debilitated as to be scarcely able to walk abroad for any distance, when, about the hour of two o'clock, a man in the garb, and with all the bearing of a perfect gentleman, knocked at the door, and inquired of the servant who opened it whether Miss Folliard were not there. The servant replied in the affirmative, upon which the stranger asked if he could see her.
"Why, I suppose you must be aware, sir, of Miss Folliard's unfortunate state of mind, and that she can see nobody; sir, she knows nobody, and I have strict orders to deny her to every one unless some particular friend of the family."
The stranger put a guinea into his hand, and added, "I had the pleasure of knowing her before she lost her reason, and as I have not seen her since, I should be glad to see her now, or even to look on her for a few minutes."
"Come up, sir," replied the man, "and enter the drawing-room immediately after me, or I shall be ordered to deny her."
The gentleman followed him; but why did his cheek become pale, and why did his heart palpitate as if it would burst and bound out of his bosom? We shall see. On entering the drawing-room he bowed, and was about to apologize for his intrusion, when the Cooleen Bawn, recognizing him as a stranger, approached him and said:
"Oh! can you tell me where is William Reilly? They have taken me from him, and I cannot find him. Oh, can you tell me any thing about William Reilly?"
The stranger staggered at this miserable sight, but probably more at the contemplation of that love which not even insanity could subdue. He felt himself obliged to lean for support upon the back of a chair, during which brief space he fixed his eyes upon her with a look of the most inexpressible tenderness and sorrow.
"Oh!" she repeated, "can you tell me where is William Reilly?"
"Alas! Helen," said he, "I am William Reilly."
"You!" she exclaimed. "Oh, no, the wide, wide Atlantic is between him and me."
"It was between us, Helen, but it is not now; I am here in life before you—your own William Reilly, that William Reilly whom you loved so well, but so fatally. I am he: do you not know me?"
"You are not William Reilly," she replied; "if you were, you would have a token."
"Do you forget that?" he replied, placing in her hand the emerald ring she had given him at the trial. She started on looking at it, and a feeble flash was observed to proceed from her eyes.
"This might come to you," she said, "by Reilly's death; yes, this might come to you in that way; but there is another token which is known to none but himself and me."
"Whisper," said he, and as he spoke he applied his mouth to her ear, and breathed the token into it.
She stood back, her eyes flashed, her beautiful bosom heaved; she advanced, looked once more, and exclaimed, with a scream, "It is he! it is he!" and the next moment she was insensible in his arms. Long but precious was that insensibility, and precious were the tears which his eyes rained down upon that pale but lovel countenance. She was soon placed upon a settee, but Reilly knelt beside her, and held one of her hands in his. After a long trance she opened her eyes and again started. Reilly pressed her hand and whispered in her ear, "Helen, I am with you at last."
She smiled on him and said, "Help me to sit up, until I look about me, that I may be certain this is not a dream."
She then looked about her, and as the ladies of the family spoke tenderly to her, and caressed her, she fixed her eyes once more upon her lover, and said, "It is not a dream then; this is a reality; but, alas! Reilly, I tremble to think lest they should take you from me again."
"You need entertain no such apprehension, my dear Helen," said the lady of the mansion. "I have often heard your father say that he would give twenty thousand pounds to have you well, and Reilly's wife. In fact, you have nothing to fear in that, or any other quarter. But there's his knock; he and my husband have returned, and I must break this blessed news to him by degrees, lest it might be too much for him if communicated without due and proper caution."
She accordingly went down to the hall, where they were hanging up their great coats and hats, and brought them into her husband's study.
"Mr. Folliard," said she with a cheerful face, "I think, from some symptoms of improvement noticed to-day in Helen, that we needn't be without hope."
"Alas, alas!" exclaimed the poor father, "I have no hope; after such a length of time I am indeed without a shadow of expectation. If unfortunate Reilly were here, indeed her seeing him, as that Sligo doctor told me, might give her a chance. He saw her about a week before we came down, and those were his words. But as for Reilly, even if he were in the country, how could I look him in the face? What wouldn't I give now that he were here, that Helen was well, and that one word of mine could make them man and wife?"
"Well, well," she replied, "don't be cast down; perhaps I could tell you good news if I wished."
"You're beating about the bush, Mary, at all events," said her husband, laughing.
"Perhaps, now, Mr. Folliard," she continued, "I could introduce a young lady who is so fond of you, old and ugly as you are, that she would not hesitate to kiss you tenderly, and cry with delight on your bosom you old thief."
They both started at her words with amazement, and her husband said: "Egad, Alick, Helen's malady seems catching. What the deuce do you mean, Molly? or must I, too, send for a doctor?"
"Shall I introduce you to the lady, though?" she proceeded, addressing the father; "but remember that, if I do, you must be a man, Mr. Folliard!"
"In God's name! do what you like," said Mr. Hamilton, "but do it at once."
She went upstairs, and said, "As I do not wish to bring your father up, Helen, until he is prepared for a meeting with Mr. Reilly, I will bring you down to him. The sight of you now will give him new life."
"Oh, come, then," said Helen, "bring me to my father; do not lose a moment, not a moment—oh, let me see him instantly!"
The poor old man suspected something. "For a thousand!" said he, "this is some good news about Helen!"
"Make your mind up for that," replied his mend; "as sure as you live it is; and if it be, bear it stoutly."
In the course of a few minutes Mrs. Hamilton entered the room with Helen, now awakened to perfect reason, smiling, and leaning upon her arm. "Oh, dear papa!" she exclaimed, meeting him, with a flood of tears, and resting her head on his bosom.
"What, my darling!—my darling! And you know papa once more!—you know him again, my darling Helen! Oh, thanks be to God for this happy day!" And he kissed her lips, and pressed her to his heart, and wept over her with ecstasy and delight. It was a tender and tearful embrace.
"Oh, papa!" said she, "I fear I have caused you much pain and sorrow: something has been wrong, but I am well now that he is here. I felt the tones of his voice in my heart."
"Who, darling, who?"
"Hamilton, bring him down instantly; but oh, Helen, darling, how will I see him?—how can I see him? but he must come, and we must all be happy. Bring him down."
"You know, papa, that Reilly is generosity itself."
"He is, he is, Helen, and how could I blame you for loving him?"
Reilly soon entered; but the old man, already overpowered by what had just occurred, was not able to speak to him for some time. He clasped and pressed his hand, however, and at length said:
"My son! my son! Now," he added, after he had recovered himself, "now that I have both together, I will not allow one minute to pass until I give you both my blessing; and in due time, when Helen gets strong, and when I get a little stouter, you shall be married; the parson and the priest will make you both happy. Reilly, can you forgive me?"
"I have nothing to forgive you, sir," replied Reilly; "whatever you did proceeded from your excessive affection for your daughter; I am more than overpaid for any thing I may have suffered myself; had it been ages of misery, this one moment would cancel the memory of it for ever."
"I cannot give you my estate, Reilly," said the old man, "for that is entailed, and goes to the next male issue; but I can give you fifty thousand pounds with my girl, and that will keep you both comfortable for life."
"I thank you, sir," replied Reilly, "and for the sake of your daughter I will not reject it; but I am myself in independent circumstances, and could, even without your generosity, support Helen in a rank of life not unsuitable to her condition."
It is well known that, during the period in which the incidents of our story took place, no man claiming the character of a gentleman ever travelled without his own servant to attend him. After Reilly's return to his native place, his first inquiries, as might be expected, were after his Cooleen Bawn; and his next, after those who had been in some degree connected with those painful circumstances in which he had been involved previous to his trial and conviction. He found Mr. Brown and Mr. Hastings much in the same state in which he left them. The latter, who had been entrusted with all his personal and other property, under certain conditions, that depended upon his return after the term of his sentence should have expired, now restored to him, and again reinstated him on the original terms into all his landed and other property, together with such sums as had accrued from it during his absence, so that he now found himself a wealthy man. Next to Cooleen Bawn, however, one of his first inquiries was after Fergus Reilly, whom he found domiciled with a neighboring middleman as a head servant, or kind of under steward. We need not describe the delight of Fergus on once more meeting his beloved relative at perfect liberty, and free from all danger in his native land.
"Fergus," said Reilly, "I understand you are still a bachelor—how does that come?"
"Why, sir," replied Fergus, "now that you know every thing about the unhappy state of the Cooleen Bawn, surely you can't blame poor Ellen for not desartin' her. As for me I cared nothing about any other girl, and I never could let either my own dhrame, or what you said was yours, out o' my head. I still had hope, and I still have, that she may recover."
Reilly made no reply to this, for he feared to entertain the vague expectation to which Fergus alluded.
"Well, Fergus," said he, "although I have undergone the sentence of a convict, yet now, after my return, I am a rich man. For the sake of old times—of old dangers and old difficulties—I should wish you to live with me, and to attend me as my own personal servant or man. I shall get you a suit of livery, and the crest of O'Reilly shall be upon it. I wish you to attend upon me, Fergus, because you understand me, and because I never will enjoy a happy heart, or one day's freedom from sorrow again. All hope of that is past, but you will be useful to me—and that you know."
Fergus was deeply affected at these words, although he was gratified in the highest degree at the proposal. In the course of a few days he entered upon his duties, immediately after which Reilly set out on his journey to Monaghan, to see once more his beloved, but unhappy, Cooleen Baton. On arriving at that handsome and hospitable town, he put up at an excellent inn, called the "Western Arms," kept by a man who was the model of innkeepers, known by the sobriquet of "honest Peter Philips". We need, not now recapitulate that with which the reader is already acquainted; but we cannot omit describing a brief interview which took place in the course of a few days after the restoration of the Cooleen Bawn to the perfect use of her reason, between two individuals, who, we think, have some claim upon the good-will and good wishes of our readers. We allude to Fergus Reilly and the faithful Ellen Connor. Seated in a comfortable room in the aforesaid inn—now a respectable and admirably kept hotel—with the same arms over the door, were the two individuals alluded to. Before them stood a black bottle of a certain fragrant liquor, as clear and colorless as water from the purest spring, and, to judge of it by the eye, quite as harmless; but there was the mistake. Never was hypocrisy better exemplified than by the contents of that bottle. The liquor in question came, Fergus was informed, from the green woods of Truagh, and more especially from a townland named Derrygola, famous, besides, for stout men and pretty girls.
"Well, now, Ellen darlin'," said Fergus, "if ever any two bachelors * were entitled to drink their own healths, surely you and I are. Here's to us—a happy marriage, soon and sudden. As for myself, I've had the patience of a Trojan."
*"Bachelor," in Ireland, especially in the country parts of it, where English is not spoken correctly, is frequently applied to both the sexes.
Ellen pledged him beautifully with her eyes, but very moderately with the liquor.
"Bedad!" he proceeded, "seven years—ay, and a half—wasn't a bad apprenticeship, at any rate; but, as I tould Mr. Reilly before he left the country—upon my sowl, says I, Mr. Reilly, she's worth waitin' for; and he admitted it."
"But, Fergus, did ever any thing turn out so happy for all parties? To me it's like a dream; I can scarcely believe it."
"Faith, and if it be a dhrame, I hope it's one we'll never waken from. And so the four of us are to be married on the same day; and we're all to live with the squire."
"We are, Fergus; the Cooleen Bawn will have it so; but, indeed, her father is as anxious for it almost as she is. Ah, no, Fergus, she could not part with her faithful Ellen, as she calls me; nor, after all, Fergus, would her faithful Ellen wish to part with her?"
"And he's to make me steward; begad, and if I don't make a good one, I'll make an honest one. Faith, at all events, Ellen, we'll be in a condition to provide for the childre', plaise God."
Ellen gave him a blushing look of reproach, and desired him to keep a proper tongue in his head.
"But what will we do with the five hundred, Ellen, that the squire and Mr. Reilly made up between them?"
"We'll consult Mr. Reilly about it," she replied, "and no doubt but he'll enable us to lay it out to the best advantage. Now, Fergus dear, I must go," she added; "you know she can't bear me even now to be any length of time away from her. Here's God bless them both, and continue them in the happiness they now enjoy."
"Amen," replied Fergus, "and here's God bless ourselves, and make us more lovin' to one another every day we rise; and here's to take a foretaste of it now, you thief."
Some slight resistance, followed by certain smacking sounds, closed the interview; for Ellen, having started to her feet, threw on her cloak and bonnet, and hurried out of the room, giving back, however, a laughing look at Fergus as she escaped.
In a few months afterwards they were married, and lived with the old man until he became a grandfather to two children, the eldest a boy, and the second a girl. Upon the same day of their marriage their humble but faithful friends were also united; so that there was a double wedding. The ceremony, in the case of Reilly and his Cooleen Bawn, was performed by the Reverend Mr. Brown first, and the parish priest afterwards; Mr. Strong, who had been for several years conjoined to Mrs. Smellpriest, having been rejected by both parties as the officiating clergyman upon the occasion, although the lovely bride was certainly his parishioner. Age and time, however, told upon the old man; and at the expiration of three years they laid him, with many tears, in the grave of his fathers. Soon after this Reilly and his wife, accompanied by Fergus and Ellen—for the Cooleen Bawn would not be separated from the latter—removed to the Continent, where they had a numerous family, principally of sons; and we need not tell our learned readers, at least, that those young men distinguished not only themselves, but their name, by acts of the most brilliant courage in continental warfare. And so, gentle reader, ends the troubled history of Willy Reilly and his own Cooleen Bawn.