The House by the Church-Yard
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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Charles Nutter, it was rumoured, was to be discharged on bail early, and it was mooted in the club that a deputation of the neighbours should ride out to meet him at the boundaries of Chapelizod, welcome him there with an address, and accompany him to the Mills as a guard of honour; but cooler heads remembered the threatening and unsettled state of things at that domicile, and thought that Nutter would, all things considered, like a quiet return best; which view of the affair was, ultimately, acquiesced in.

For Mary Matchwell, at the Mills, the tidings which had thrown the town into commotion had but a solitary and a selfish interest. She was glad that Nutter was exculpated. She had no desire that the king should take his worldly goods to which she intended helping herself: otherwise he might hang or drown for ought she cared. Dirty Davy, too, who had quaked about his costs, was greatly relieved by the turn which things had taken; and the plain truth was that, notwithstanding his escape from the halter, things looked very black and awful for Charles Nutter and his poor little wife, Sally.

Doctor Toole, at half-past nine, was entertaining two or three of the neighbours, chiefly in oracular whispers, by the fire in the great parlour of the Phoenix, when he was interrupted by Larry, the waiter, with—

'Your horse is at the door, docther' (Toole was going into town, but was first to keep an appointment at Doctor Sturk's with Mr. Lowe), 'and,' continued Larry, 'there's a fat gentleman in the blue room wants to see you, if you plase.'

'Hey?—ho! let's see then,' said little Toole, bustling forth with an important air. 'The blue room, hey?'

When he opened the door of that small apartment there stood a stout, corpulent, rather seedy and dusty personage, at the window, looking out and whistling with his hat on. He turned lazily about as Toole entered, and displayed the fat and forbidding face of Dirty Davy.

'Oh! I thought it might be professionally, Sir,' said Toole, a little grandly; for he had seen the gentleman before, and had, by this time, found out all about him, and perceived he had no chance of a fee.

'It is professionally, Sir,' quoth Dirty Davy, 'if you'll be so obleeging as to give me five minutes.'

With that amiable egotism which pervades human nature, it will be observed, each gentleman interpreted 'professionally' as referring to his own particular calling.

So Toole declared himself ready and prepared to do his office, and Dirty Davy commenced.

'You know me, I believe, Sir?'

'Mr. David O'Reegan, as I believe,' answered Toole.

'The same, Sir,' replied Davy. 'I'm on my way, Sir, to the Mills, where my client, Mrs. Nutter (here Toole uttered a disdainful grunt), resides; and I called at your house, doctor, and they sent me here; and I am desirous to prove to you, Sir, as a friend of Miss Sarah Harty, styling herself Mrs. Nutter, that my client's rights are clear and irresistible, in order that you may use any interest you may have with that ill-advised faymale—and I'm told she respects your advice and opinion highly—to induce her to submit without further annoyance; and I tell you, in confidence, she has run herself already into a very sarious predicament.'

'Well, Sir, I'll be happy to hear you,' answered Toole.

''Tis no more, Sir, than I expected from your well-known candour,' replied Dirty Davy, with the unctuous politeness with which he treated such gentlemen as he expected to make use of. 'Now, Sir, I'll open our case without any reserve or exaggeration to you, Sir, and that, Doctor Toole, is what I wouldn't do to many beside yourself. The facts is in a nutshell. We claim our conjugal rights. Why, Sir? Because, Sir, we married the oppugnant, Charles Nutter, gentleman, of the Mills, and so forth, on the 7th of April, Anno Domini, 1750, in the Church of St. Clement Danes, in London, of which marriage this, Sir, is a verbatim copy of the certificate. Now, Sir, your client—I mane your friend—Misthress Mary Harty, who at present affects the state and usurps the rights of marriage against my client—the rightful Mrs. Nutter, performed and celebrated a certain pretended marriage with the same Charles Nutter, in Chapelizod Church, on the 4th of June, 1758, seven years and ten months, wanting three days, subsequent to the marriage of my client. Well, Sir, I see exactly, Sir, what you'd ask: "Is the certificate genuine?"'

Toole grunted an assent.

'Well, Sir, upon that point I have to show you this,' and he handed him a copy of Mr. Luke Gamble's notice served only two days before, to the effect that, having satisfied himself by enquiring on the spot of the authenticity of the certificate of the marriage of Charles Nutter of the Mills, and so forth, to Mary Duncan, his client did not mean to dispute it. 'And, Sir, further, as we were preparing evidence in support of my client's and her maid's affidavit, to prove her identity with the Mary Duncan in question, having served your client—I mane, Sir, asking your pardon again—your friend, with a notice that such corroboratory evidence being unnecessary, we would move the court, in case it were pressed for, to give us the costs of procuring it, Mr. Luke Gamble fortwith struck, on behalf of his client, and admitted the sufficiency of the evidence. Now, Sir, I mention these things, not as expecting you to believe them upon my statement, you see, but simply to enquire of Mr. Gamble whether they be true or no; and if true, Sir, upon his admission, then, Sir, I submit we're entitled to your good offices, and the judicious inthurfarence of the Rev. Mr. Roach, your respectable priest, Sir.'

'My friend, Sir, not my priest. I'm a Churchman, Sir, as everybody knows.'

'Of course, Sir—I ask your pardon again, Doctor Toole—Sir, your friend to induce your client—-friend I mane again, Sir—Mistress Sarah Harty, formerly housekeeper of Mr. Charless (so he pronounced it) Nutther, gentleman, of the Mills, and so forth, to surrendher quiet and peaceable possession of the premises and chattels, and withdraw from her tortuous occupation dacently, and without provoking the consequences, which must otherwise follow in the sevarest o' forms;' or, as he pronounced it, 'fawrums.'

'The sevarest o' grandmothers. Humbug and flummery! Sir,' cried Toole, most unexpectedly incensed, and quite scarlet.

'D'ye mane I'm a liar, Sir? Is that what you mane?' demanded Dirty Davy, suddenly, like the doctor, getting rid of his ceremonious politeness.

'I mane what I mane, and that's what I mane,' thundered Toole, diplomatically.

'Then, tell your friend to prepare for consequences,' retorted Dirty Davy, with a grin.

'And make my compliments to your client, or conjuror, or wife, or whatever she is, and tell her that whenever she wants her dirty work done, there's plenty of other Dublin blackguards to be got to do it, without coming to Docther Thomas Toole, or the Rev. Father Roach.'

Which sarcasm he delivered with killing significance, but Dirty Davy had survived worse thrusts than that.

'She's a conjuror, is she? I thank you, Sir.'

'You're easily obliged, Sir,' says Toole.

'We all know what that manes. And these documents sworn to by my client and myself, is a pack o' lies! Betther and betther! I thank ye again, Sir.'

'You're welcome, my honey,' rejoined Toole, affectionately.

'An' you live round the corner. I know your hall-door, Sir—a light brown, wid a brass knocker.'

'Which is a fine likeness iv your own handsome face, Sir,' retorted Toole.

'An' them two documents, Sir, is a fabrication and a forgery, backed up wid false affidavits?' continued Mr. O'Reegan.

'Mind that, Larry,' says the doctor, with a sudden inspiration addressing the waiter, who had peeped in; 'he admits that them two documents you see there, is forgeries, backed up with false affidavits; you heard him say so, and I'll call you to prove it.'

'You lie!' said Dirty Davy, precipitately, for he was quite disconcerted at finding his own sophistical weapons so unexpectedly turned against him.

'You scum o' the airth!' cried Toole, hitting him, with his clenched fist, right upon the nose, so vigorous a thump, that his erudite head with a sonorous crash hopped off the wainscot behind it; 'you lying scullion!' roared the doctor, instantaneously repeating the blow, and down went Davy, and down went the table with dreadful din, and the incensed doctor bestrode his prostrate foe with clenched fists and flaming face, and his grand wig all awry, and he panting and scowling.

'Murdher, murdher, murdher!' screamed Dirty Davy, who was not much of a Spartan, and relished nothing of an assault and battery but the costs and damages.



'Say it again, you cowardly, sneaking, spying viper; say it again, can't you?'

It was a fine tableau, and a noble study of countenance and attitude.

'Sich a bloody nose I never seen before,' grinned Larry rubbing his hands over the exquisite remembrance. 'If you only seed him, flat on his back, the great ould shnake, wid his knees and his hands up bawling murdher; an' his big white face and his bloody nose in the middle, like nothin' in nature, bedad, but the ace iv hearts in a dirty pack.'

How they were separated, and who the particular persons that interposed, what restoratives were resorted to, how the feature looked half an hour afterwards, and what was the subsequent demeanour of Doctor Toole, upon the field of battle, I am not instructed; my letters stop short at the catastrophe, and run off to other matters.

Doctor Toole's agitations upon such encounters did not last long. They blew off in a few thundering claps of bravado and defiance in the second parlour of the Phoenix, where he washed his hands and readjusted his wig and ruffles, and strutted forth, squaring his elbows, and nodding and winking at the sympathising waiters in the inn hall; and with a half grin at Larry—

'Well, Larry, I think I showed him Chapelizod, hey?' said the doctor, buoyantly, to that functionary, and marched diagonally across the broad street toward Sturk's house, with a gait and a countenance that might have overawed an army.



Just as he reached Sturk's door, wagging his head and strutting grimly—and, palpably, still in debate with Dirty Davy—his thoughts received a sudden wrench in a different direction by the arrival of Mr. Justice Lowe, who pulled up his famous gray hunter at the steps of the house by the church-yard.

'You see, Doctor Toole, it won't do, waiting. The thing's too momentous.'

And so they walked up stairs and into the drawing-room, and sent their compliments to Mrs. Sturk, who came down in deshabille, with her things pinned about her, and all over smiles. Poor little woman! Toole had not observed until now how very thin she had grown.

'He's going on delightfully, gentlemen; he drank a whole cup of tea, weak of course, Doctor Toole, as you bid me; and he eat a slice of toast, and liked it, and two Naples biscuits, Mr. Lowe, and I know he'll be delighted to see you.'

'Very good, Madam, very good,' said Toole.

'And he's looking better already. He waked out of that sweet sleep not ten minutes after you left this morning.'

'Ay, he was sleeping very quietly,' said Toole to Lowe. 'May we go up, Ma'am?'

'Oh! he'll be overjoyed, gentlemen, to see you, and 'twill do him an infinity of good. I can scarce believe my eyes. We've been tidying the study, the maid and I, and airing the cushions of his chair;' and she laughed a delighted little giggle. 'And even the weather has taken up such beautiful sunshine; everything favourable.'

'Well, Doctor Sturk,' said Toole, cheerily, 'we have a good account of you—a vastly good account, doctor; and, by St. George, Sir, we've been tidying—'

He was going to say the study, but little Mrs. Sturk put her finger to her lip in a wonderful hurry, raising her eyebrows and drawing a breath through her rounded lips, in such sort as arrested the sentence; for she knew how Barney's wrath always broke out when he thought the women had been in his study, and how he charged every missing paper for a month after upon their cursed meddling. But Sturk was a good deal gentler now, and had a dull and awful sort of apathy upon him; and I think it was all one to him whether the women had been in the study or not. So Toole said instead—

'We've been thinking of getting you down in a little while, doctor, if all goes pleasantly; 'tis a lovely day, and a good omen—see how the sun shines in at the curtain.'

But there was no responsive sunshine upon Sturk's stern; haggard face, as he said very low—still looking on the foot-board—'I thank you, doctor.'

So after a few more questions, and a little bit of talk with Mrs. Sturk, they got that good lady out of the room, and said Lowe to the patient—

'I'm sorry to trouble you, Dr. Sturk, but there's a weighty matter at which you last night hinted; and Dr. Toole thought you then too weak; and in your present state, I would not now ask you to speak at any length, were the matter of less serious moment.'

'Yes, Sir,' said Sturk, but did not seem about to speak any more; and after a few seconds, Lowe continued.

'I mean, Dr. Sturk, touching the murder of Mr. Beauclerc, which you then said was committed by the same Charles Archer, who assaulted you in the park.'

'Ay, Sir,' said Sturk.

'The same murder of which Lord Dunoran was adjudged guilty.'

Sturk moved his lips with a sort of nod.

'And, Doctor Sturk, you remember you then said you had yourself seen Charles Archer do that murder.'

Sturk lifted his hand feebly enough to his forehead, and his lips moved, and his eyes closed. They thought he was praying—possibly he was; so they did not interrupt him; and he said, all on a sudden, but in a low dejected way, and with many pauses—

'Charles Archer. I never saw another such face; 'tis always before me. He was a man that everybody knew was dangerous—a damnable profligate besides—and, as all believed, capable of anything, though nobody could actually bring anything clearly home to him but his bloody duels, which, however, were fairly fought. I saw him only thrice in my life before I saw him here. In a place, at Newmarket, where they played hazard, was once; and I saw him fight Beau Langton; and I saw him murder Mr. Beauclerc. I saw it all!' And the doctor swore a shuddering oath.

'I lay in the small room or closet, off the chamber in which he slept. I was suffering under a bad fracture, and dosed with opium. 'Tis all very strange, Sir. I saw everything that happened. I saw him stab Beauclerc. Don't question me; it tires me. I think 'twas a dagger. It looked like a small bayonet I'll tell you how—all, by-and-by.'

He sipped a little wine and water, and wiped his lips with a very tremulous handkerchief.

'I never spoke of it, for I could not. The whole of that five minutes' work slipped from my mind, and was gone quite and clean when I awoke. What I saw I could not interrupt. I was in a cataleptic state, I suppose. I could not speak; but I saw like a lynx, and heard every whisper. When I awakened in the morning I remembered nothing. I did not know I had a secret. The knowledge was sealed up until the time came. A sight of Charles Archer's face at any time would have had, as I suppose, the same effect. When I saw him here, the first time, it was at the general's at Belmont; though he was changed by time, and carefully disguised, all would not do. I felt the sight of him was fatal. I was quite helpless; but my mind never stopped working upon it till—till—'

Sturk groaned.

'See now,' said Toole, 'there's time enough, and don't fatigue yourself. There, now, rest quiet a minute.'

And he made him swallow some more wine; and felt his pulse and shook his head despondingly at Lowe, behind his back.

'How is it?' said Sturk, faintly.

'A little irritable—that's all,' said Toole.

''Till one night, I say,'—Sturk resumed, after a minute or two, 'it came to me all at once, awake—I don't know—or in a dream; in a moment I had it all. 'Twas like a page cut out of a book—lost for so many years.' And Sturk moaned a despairing wish to Heaven that the secret had never returned to him again.

'Yes, Sir—like a page cut out of a book, and never missed till 'twas found again; and then sharp and clear, every letter from first to last. Then, Sir—then—thinking 'twas no use at that distance of time taking steps to punish him, I—I foolishly let him understand I knew him. My mind misgave me from the first. I think it was my good angel that warned me. But 'tis no use now. I'm not a man to be easily frightened. But it seemed to me he was something altogether worse than a man, and like—like Satan; and too much for me every way. If I was wise I'd have left him alone. But 'tis no good fretting now. It was to be. I was too outspoken—'twas always my way—and I let him know; and—and you see, he meant to make away with me. He tried to take my life, Sir; and I think he has done it. I'll never rise from this bed, gentlemen. I'm done for.'

'Come, Doctor Sturk, you mustn't talk that way, Pell will be out this evening, and Dillon may be—though faith! I don't quite know that Pell will meet him—but we'll put our heads together, and deuce is in it or we'll set you on your legs again.'

Sturk was screwing his lips sternly together, and the lines of his gruff haggard face were quivering, and a sullen tear or two started down from his closed eye.

'I'm—I'm a little nervous, gentlemen—I'll be right just now I'd like to see the—the children, if they're in the way, that's all—by-and-by, you know.'

'I've got Pell out, you see—not that there's any special need—you know; but he was here before, and it wouldn't do to offend him; and he'll see you this afternoon.'

'I thank you, Sir,' said Sturk, in the same dejected way.

'And, Sir,' said Lowe, 'if you please, I'll get this statement into the shape of a deposition or information, for you see 'tis of the vastest imaginable importance, and exactly tallies with evidence we've got elsewhere, and 'twouldn't do, Sir, to let it slip.'

And Toole thought he saw a little flush mount into Sturk's sunken face, and he hastened to say—

'What we desire, Dr. Sturk, is to be able to act promptly in this case of my Lord Dunoran. Measures must be taken instantly, you see, for 'tis of old standing, and not a day to be lost, and there's why Mr. Lowe is so urgent to get your statement in white and black.'

'And sworn to,' added Mr. Lowe.

'I'll swear it,' said Sturk, in the same sad tones.

And Mrs. Sturk came in, and Toole gave leave for chicken broth at twelve o'clock, about two table-spoonsful, and the same at half-past one, when he hoped to be back again. And on the lobby he gave her, with a cheery countenance, all the ambiguous comfort he could. And Lowe asked Mrs. Sturk for more pens and paper, and himself went down to give his man a direction at the door, and on the way, in the hall, Toole looking this way and that, to see they weren't observed, beckoned him into the front parlour, and, said he, in a low key—

'The pulse is up a bit, not very much, but still I don't like it—and very hard, you see—and what we've to dread, you know's inflammation; and he's so shocking low, my dear Sir, we must let him have wine and other things, or we'll lose him that way; and you see it's a mighty unpleasant case.'

And coming into the hall, in a loud confident voice he cried—'And I'll be here again by half-past one o'clock.'

And so he beckoned to the boy with his horse to come up, and chatted in the interim with Mr. Lowe upon the steps, and told him how to manage him if he grew exhausted over his narrative; and then mounting his nag, and kissing his hand and waving his hat to Mrs. Sturk, who was looking out upon him from Barney's window, he rode away for Dublin.

Toole, on reaching town, spurred on to the dingy residence of Mr. Luke Gamble. It must be allowed that he had no clear intention of taking any step whatsoever in consequence of what he might hear. But the little fellow was deuced curious; and Dirty Davy's confidence gave him a sort of right to be satisfied.

So with his whip under his arm, and a good deal out of breath, for the stairs were steep, he bounced into the attorney's sanctum.

'Who's that? Is that?—Why, bless my soul and body! 'tis yourself,' cried Toole, after an astonished pause of a few seconds at the door, springing forward and grasping Nutter by both hands, and shaking them vehemently, and grinning very joyously and kindly the while.

Nutter received him cordially, but a little sheepishly. Indeed, his experiences of life, and the situations in which he had found himself since they had last met, were rather eccentric and instructive than quite pleasant to remember. And Nutter, in his way, was a proud fellow, and neither liked to be gaped at nor pitied.

But Toole was a thorough partisan of his, and had been urgent for permission to see him in gaol, and they knew how true he had been to poor Sally Nutter, and altogether felt very much at home with him.

So sitting in that twilight room, flanked with piles of expended briefs, and surrounded with neatly docketed packets of attested copies, notices, affidavits, and other engines of legal war—little Toole having expended his congratulations, and his private knowledge of Sturk's revelations, fell upon the immediate subject of his visit.

'That rogue, Davy O'Reegan, looked in on me not an hour ago, at the Phoenix' (and he gave them a very spirited, but I'm afraid a somewhat fanciful description of the combat.) 'And I'm afraid he'll give us a deal of trouble yet. He told me that the certificate—'

'Ay—here's a copy;' and Luke Gamble threw a paper on the table before him.

'That's it—Mary Duncan—1750—the very thing—the rascal! Well, he said, you know, but I knew better, that you had admitted the certificate formally.'

'So I have. Sir,' said. Mr. Gamble, drily, stuffing his hands into his breeches' pockets, and staring straight at Toole with elevated eyebrows, and as the little doctor thought, with a very odd expression in his eyes.

'You have, Sir?'

'I have!' and then followed a little pause, and Mr. Gamble said—

'I did so, Sir, because there's no disputing it—and—and I think, Doctor Toole, I know something of my business.'

There was another pause, during which Toole, flushed and shocked, turned his gaze from Gamble to Nutter.

''Tis a true bill, then?' said Toole, scarcely above his breath, and very dismally.

A swarthy flush covered Nutter's dark face. The man was ashamed.

''Tis nigh eighteen years ago, Sir,' said Nutter embarrassed, as he well might be. 'I was a younger man, then, and was bit, Sir, as many another has been, and that's all.'

Toole got up, stood before the fire-place, and hung his head, with compressed lips, and there was a silence, interrupted by the hard man of the law, who was now tumbling over his papers in search of a document, and humming a tune as he did so.

'It may be a good move for Charles Nutter, Sir, but it looks very like a checkmate for poor Sally,' muttered Toole angrily.

Mr. Luke Gamble either did not hear him, or did not care a farthing what he said; and he hummed his tune very contentedly.

'And I had, moreover,' said he, 'to make another admission for the same reason, videlicet, that Mary Matchwell, who now occupies a portion of the Mills, the promovent in this suit, and Mary Duncan mentioned in that certificate, are one and the same person. Here's our answer to their notice, admitting the fact.'

'I thank you,' said Toole again, rather savagely, for a glance over his shoulder had shown him the attorney's face grinning with malicious amusement, as it seemed to him, while he readjusted the packet of papers from which he had just taken the notice; 'I saw it, Sir, your brother lawyer, Mr. O'Reegan, Sir, showed it me this morning.'

And Toole thought of poor little Sally Nutter, and all the wreck and ruin coming upon her and the Mills, and began to con over his own liabilities, and to reflect seriously whether, in some of his brisk altercations on her behalf with Dirty Davy and his client, he might not have committed himself rather dangerously; and especially the consequences of his morning's collision with Davy grew in darkness and magnitude very seriously, as he reflected that his entire statement had turned out to be true, and that he and his client were on the winning side.

'It seems to me, Sir, you might have given some of poor Mrs. Nutter's friends at Chapelizod a hint of the state of things. I, Sir, and Father Roach—we've meddled, Sir, more in the business—than—than—but no matter now—and all under a delusion, Sir. And poor Mistress Sally Nutter—she doesn't seem to trouble you much, Sir.'

He observed that the attorney was chuckling to himself still more and more undisguisedly, as he slipped the notice back again into its place.

'You gentlemen of the law think of nothing, Sir, but your clients. I suppose 'tis a good rule, but it may be pushed somewhat far. And what do you propose to do for poor Mistress Sally Nutter?' demanded Toole, very sternly, for his blood was up.

'She has heard from us this morning,' said Mr. Gamble, grining on his watch, 'and she knows all by this time, and 'tisn't a button to her.'

And the attorney laughed in his face; and Nutter who had looked sulky and uncomfortable, could resist no longer, and broke into a queer responsive grin. It seemed to Toole like a horrid dream.

There was a tap at the door just at this moment.

'Come in,' cried Mr. Gamble, still exploding in comfortable little bursts of half-suppressed laughter.

'Oh! 'tis you? Very good, Sir,' said Mr. Gamble, sobering a little. He was the same lanky, vulgar, and slightly-squinting gentleman, pitted with the small-pox, whom Toole had seen on a former occasion. And the little doctor thought he looked even more cunning and meaner than before. Everything had grown to look repulsive, and every face was sinister now; and the world began to look like a horrible masquerade, full of half-detected murderers, traitors, and miscreants.

'There isn't a soul you can trust—'tis enough to turn a man's head; 'tis sickening, by George!' grumbled the little doctor, fiercely.

'Here's a gentleman, Sir,' said Gamble, waving his pen towards Toole, with a chuckle, 'who believes that ladies like to recover their husbands.'

The fellow grew red, and grinned a sly uneasy grin, looking stealthily at Toole, who was rapidly growing angry.

'Yes, Sir, and one who believes, too, that gentlemen ought to protect their wives,' added the little doctor hotly.

'As soon as they know who they are,' muttered the attorney to his papers.

'I think, gentlemen, I'm rather in your way,' said Toole with a gloomy briskness; 'I think 'tis better I should go. I—I'm somewhat amazed, gentlemen, and I—I wish you a good-morning.'

And Toole made them a very stern bow, and walked out at the wrong door.

'This way, by your leave, doctor,' said Mr. Gamble, opening the right one; and at the head of the stairs he took Toole by the cuff, and said he—

'After all, 'tis but just the wrong Mrs. Nutter should give place to the right; and if you go down to the Mills to-morrow, you'll find she's by no means so bad as you think her.'

But Toole broke away from him sulkily, with—

'I wish you a good-morning, Sir.'

It was quite true that Sally Nutter was to hear from Charles and Mr. Gamble that morning; for about the time at which Toole was in conference with those two gentlemen in Dublin, two coaches drew up at the Mills.

Mr. Gamble's conducting gentleman was in one, and two mysterious personages sat in the other.

'I want to see Mrs. Nutter,' said Mr. Gamble's emissary.

'Mrs. Nutter's in the parlour, at your service,' answered the lean maid who had opened the door, and who recognising in that gentleman an adherent of the enemy, had assumed her most impertinent leer and tone on the instant.

The ambassador looked in and drew back.

'Oh, then, 'tisn't the mistress you want, but the master's old housekeeper; ask her.'

And she pointed with her thumb towards Molly, whose head was over the banister.

So, as he followed that honest hand-maiden up stairs, he drew from his coat-pocket a bundle of papers, and glanced at their endorsements, for he had a long exposition to make, and then some important measures to execute.

Toole had to make up for lost time; and as he rode at a smart canter into the village, he fancied he observed the signs of an unusual excitement there. There were some faces at the windows, some people on the door-steps; and a few groups in the street; they were all looking in the Dublin direction. He had a nod or two as he passed. Toole thought forthwith of Mr. David O'Reegan—people generally refer phenomena to what most concerns themselves—and a dim horror of some unknown summary process dismayed him; but his hall-door shone peaceably in the sun, and his boy stood whistling on the steps, with his hands in his pockets. Nobody had been there since, and Pell had not yet called at Sturk's.

'And what's happened—what's the neighbours lookin' after?' said Toole, as his own glance followed the general direction, so soon as he had dismounted.

''Twas a coach that had driven through the town, at a thundering pace, with some men inside, from the Knockmaroon direction, and a lady that was screeching. She broke one of the coach windows in Martin's-row, and the other—there, just opposite the Phoenix.' The glass was glittering on the road. 'She had rings on her hand, and her knuckles were bleeding, and it was said 'twas poor Mrs. Nutter going away with the keepers to a mad-house.'

Toole turned pale and ground his teeth, looking towards Dublin.

'I passed it myself near Island-bridge; I did hear screeching, but I thought 'twas from t'other side of the wall. There was a fellow in an old blue and silver coat with the driver—eh?'

'The same,' said the boy; and Toole, with difficulty swallowing down his rage, hurried into the house, resolved to take Lowe's advice on the matter, and ready to swear to poor Sally's perfect sanity—'the crature!—the villains!'

But now he had only a moment to pull off his boots, to get into his grand costume, and seize his cane and his muff, too—for he sported one; and so transformed and splendid, he marched down the paved trottoir—Doctor Pell happily not yet arrived—to Sturk's house. There was a hackney coach near the steps.



In entering the front parlour from whence, in no small excitement, there issued the notes of a course diapason, which he fancied was known to him, he found Mr. Justice Lowe in somewhat tempestuous conference with the visitor.

He was, in fact, no other than Black Dillon; black enough he looked just now. He had only a moment before returned from a barren visit to the Brass Castle, and was in no mood to be trifled with.

''Twasn't I, Sir, but Mr. Dangerfield, who promised you five hundred guineas,' said Mr. Lowe, with a dry nonchalance.

'Five hundred fiddles,' retorted Doctor Dillon—his phrase was coarser, and Toole at that moment entering the door, and divining the situation from the doctor's famished glare and wild gestures, exploded, I'm sorry to say in a momentary burst of laughter, into his cocked hat. 'Twas instantly stifled, however; and when Dillon turned his flaming eyes upon him, the little doctor made him a bow of superlative gravity, which the furious hero of the trepan was too full of his wrongs to notice in any way.

'I was down at his house, bedad, the "Brass Castle," if you plase, and not a brass farthin' for my pains, nothing there but an ould woman, as ould and as ugly as himself, or the divil—be gannies! An' he's levanted, or else tuck for debt. Brass Castle! brass forehead, bedad. Brass, like Goliath, from head to heels; an' by the heels he's laid, I'll take my davy, considherin' at his laysure which is strongest—a brass castle or a stone jug. An' where, Sir, am I to get my five hundred guineas—where, Sir?' he thundered, staring first in Lowe's face, then in Toole's, and dealing the table a lusty blow at each interrogatory.

'I think, Sir,' said Lowe, anticipating Toole, 'you'd do well to consider the sick man, Sir.' The noise was certainly considerable.

'I don't know, Sir, that the sick man's considherin' me much,' retorted Doctor Dillon. 'Sick man—sick grandmother's aunt! If you can't speak like a man o' sense, don't spake, at any rate, like a justice o' the pace. Sick man, indeed! why there's not a crature livin' barrin' a natural eediot, or an apothecary, that doesn't know the man's dead; he's dead, Sir; but 'tisn't so with me, an' I can't get on without vittles, and vittles isn't to be had without money; that's logic, Mr. Justice; that's a medical fact Mr. Docthor. An' how am I to get my five hundred guineas? I say, you and you—the both o' ye—that prevented me of going last night to his brass castle—brass snuff-box—there isn't room to stand in it, bedad—an' gettin' my money. I hold you both liable to me—one an' t'other—the both o' ye.'

'Why, Sir,' said Lowe, ''tis a honorarium.'

''Tis no such thing, Sir; 'tis a contract,' thundered Dillon, pulling Dangerfield's note of promise from his pocket, and dealing it a mighty slap with the back of his hand.

'Contract or no, Sir, there's nobody liable for it but himself.'

'We'll try that, Sir; and in the meantime, what the divil am I to do, I'd be glad to know; for strike me crooked if I have a crown piece to pay the coachman. Trepan, indeed; I'm nately trepanned myself.'

'If you'll only listen, Sir, I'll show you your case is well enough. Mr. Dangerfield, as you call him, has not left the country; and though he's arrested, 'tisn't for debt. If he owes you the money, 'tis your own fault if you don't make him pay it, for I'm credibly informed he's worth more than a hundred thousand pounds.'

'And where is he, Sir?' demanded Black Dillon, much more cheerfully and amicably. 'I hope I see you well, Doctor Toole.'

That learned person acknowledged the somewhat tardy courtesy, and Lowe made answer:

'He lies in the county gaol, Sir, on a serious criminal charge; but a line from me, Sir, will, I think, gain you admission to him forthwith.'

'I'll be much obliged for it, Sir,' answered Dillon. 'What o'clock is it?' he asked of Toole; for though it is believed he owned a watch, it was sometimes not about him; and while Lowe scribbled a note, Toole asked in a dignified way—

'Have you seen our patient, Sir?'

'Not I. Didn't I see him last night? The man's dead. He's in the last stage of exhaustion with an inflammatory pulse. If you feed him up he'll die of inflammation; and if you don't he'll die of wakeness. So he lies on the fatal horns of a dilemma, you see; an' not all the men in Derry'll take him off them alive. He's gone, Sir. Pell's coming, I hear. I'd wait if I could; but I must look afther business; and there's no good to be done here. I thank you, Mr. Lowe—Sir—your most obedient servant, Doctor Toole.' And with Lowe's note in his breeches' pocket, he strode out to the steps, and whistled for his coachman, who drove his respectable employer tipsily to his destination.

I dare say the interview was characteristic; but I can find no account of it. I am pretty sure, however, that he did not get a shilling. So at least he stated in his declaration, in the action against Lowe, in which he, or rather his attorney, was nonsuited, with grievous loss of costs. And judging by the sort of esteem in which Mr. Dangerfield held Black Dillon, I fancy that few things would have pleased him better in his unfortunate situation than hitting that able practitioner as hard as might be.

Just as he drove away, poor little Mrs. Sturk looked in.

'Is there anything, Ma'am?' asked Toole, a little uneasily.

'Only—only, I think he's just a little frightened—he's so nervous you know—by that Dublin doctor's loud talking—and he's got a kind of trembling—a shivering.'

'Eh—a shivering, Ma'am?' said Toole. 'Like a man that's taken a cold, eh?'

'Oh, he hasn't got cold—I'm sure—there's no danger of that. It's only nervous; so I covered him up with another pair of blankets, and gave him a hot drink.'

'Very good, Ma'am; I'll follow you up in a minute.'

'And even if it was, you know he shakes off cold in no time, he has such a fine constitution.'

'Yes, Ma'am—that's true—very good, Ma'am. I'll be after you.'

So up stairs went Mrs. Sturk in a fuss.

'That's it,' said Toole so soon as they were alone, nodding two or three times dejectedly, and looking very glum. 'It's set in—the inflammation—it's set in, Sir. He's gone. That's the rigor.'

'Poor gentleman,' said Lowe, after a short pause, 'I'm much concerned for him, and for his family.'

''Tis a bad business,' said Toole, gloomily, like a man that's frightened. And he followed Mrs. Sturk, leaving Lowe adjusting his papers in the parlour.

Toole found his patient laden with blankets, and shivering like a man in an ague, with blue sunken face. And he slipped his hand under the clothes, and took his pulse, and said nothing but—'Ay—ay—ay'—quietly to himself, from time to time, as he did so; and Sturk—signing, as well as he could, that he wanted a word in his ear—whispered, as well as his chattering teeth would let him,

'You know what this is.'

'Well—well—there now, there; drink some of this,' said Toole, a little flurried, and trying to seem cool.

'I think he's a little bit better, doctor,' whispered poor little Mrs. Sturk, in Toole's ear.

'Twill pass away. Ma'am.'

Toole was standing by the bedside, looking rather woefully and frightened on Sturk's face, and patting and smoothing the coverlet with the palm of his stumpy, red hand; and whispering to himself from time to time, 'Yes, yes,' although with rather a troubled and helpless air.

Just then came the roll of a coach to the door, and a long peal at the knocker; and little Toole ran down to meet the great Doctor Pell in the hall. He was in, in a moment, and turned aside with Toole into the drawing-room. And Toole's voice was heard pretty volubly. It was only a conference of about two minutes. And Dr. Pell said in his usual tall way, as they came out—

'How long ago, Sir?'

'About ten—no, hardly so much—eight minutes ago,' answered Toole, as he followed that swift phantom up the stairs.

'Your most obedient, Ma'am,' said the slim and lofty doctor, parenthetically saluting the good lady; and he stood by the bedside, having laid his muff on the chair.

'Well, Sir, and how do you feel? There now, that will do, Sir; don't mind speaking; I see. And he put his hand under the clothes, and laid it on Sturk's arm, and slid it down to his hand, and felt his pulse.

'And he's been near ten minutes this way?' said the doctor.

'Oh, he was a great deal worse; 'tis a vast deal better now; isn't it, Doctor Toole?'

'The rigor is subsiding, then. Has he had a sweat, Ma'am?' said Pell.

'Oh, no—nothing like—quite nice and cool, doctor—and no fever; nice quiet sleep; and his appetite wonderful; tell him, Doctor Toole.'

'Oh, yes, Ma'am—Doctor Pell knows; I told him all, Ma'am,' said Toole, who was looking with a blank and dismal sort of contemplation upon Sturk's fallen countenance.

'Well, Ma'am,' said Pell, as he looked on his watch, 'this rigor, you see, will soon pass away, and you're doing everything we could wish, and (for he found he had time to scribble a prescription), we'll just order him a trifle. Good-day, Sir. Your most obedient, Ma'am.'

'Pen and ink in the drawing-room, Doctor Pell,' said Toole, reverentially.

'Oh! no, no, Madam, excuse me,' murmured Doctor Pell, gently pressing back Mrs. Sturk's fee, the residuum of Dangerfield's bounty, with his open palm.

'Oh, but Doctor Pell,' urged she, in a persuasive aside, half behind him, in the shadow of the doorway.

'Pray, Madam, no more—pardon me,' and Doctor Pell, with a peremptory bow, repelled his fee.

Why do physicians take their honest earnings in this clandestine way—transacted like favours, secret, sweet, and precious; and pocketed in dark corners, and whispers, like the wages of sin? Cold Doctor Pell here refused a very considerable fee. He could on occasion behave handsomely; but I can't learn that blustering, hilarious Doctor Rogerson ever refused his.

And the doctor descended, not hastily, but very swiftly, and was in the drawing-room, and the door shut.

'Gone, poor gentleman!' said Toole, in an under tone—his phraseology became refined in Pell's presence; he'd have said 'poor devil,' or 'poor dog,' if he had been with Doctor Rogerson.

Pell held the pen in his thin lips, while he tore off half-a-sheet of paper, and only shook his head funereally.

So, taking the pen in his fingers, he said, 'We'll give him so and so, if you approve.'

'Very good, Sir,' said Toole, deferentially; and Pell, not seeming to hear, dashed off a few spattered lines, with necromantic circles and zigzags at the end of each.

When Sturk afterwards saw that paper in the fingers of the maid, being very weak, he did not care to speak; but he signed with a little motion of his head, and she leaned down to listen.

'Recipe?' whispered the doctor; 'put it—in—the fire;' and he shut his eyes—tired.

Pell, looking again at his watch, was Doctor Toole's very obedient servant, and was waylaid by poor little Mrs. Sturk on the lobby.

'Well, Madam, we've put our heads together, and ordered a little matter, and that rigor—that shivering fit—will subside; and we trust he'll be easier then; and you've a very competent adviser in Doctor a—a——'

'Toole,' suggested the eager little woman.

'Doctor Toole, Madam, and he'll direct whatever may be necessary; and should he wish to consult again, you can send for me; but he's quite competent, Madam, and he'll tell you all we think.'

He had got to the end of the stairs while talking, and made his adieux, and glided down and out; and before poor little Mrs. Sturk bethought her how little she had got from him, she heard the roll of his coach wheels whirling him back again to Dublin. I believe few doctors grow so accustomed to the ghastly eclaircissement as not very willingly to shirk it when they may.

Toole shrank from it, too, and dodged, and equivocated, and evaded all he could; but he did admit there was an unfavourable change; and when he had gone—promising to be back at four o'clock—poor little Mrs. Sturk broke down—all alone in the drawing-room—and cried a passionate flood of tears; and thinking she was too long away, dried her eyes quickly, and ran up, and into Barney's room with a smile on; and she battled with the evil fear; and hope, that faithful angel that clings to the last, hovered near her with blessed illusions, until an hour came, next day, in the evening, about four o'clock, when from Barney's room there came a long, wild cry. It was 'his poor foolish little Letty'—the long farewell—and the 'noble Barney' was gone. The courtship and the married days—all a faded old story now; and a few days later, reversed arms, and muffled drums, and three volleys in the church-yard, and a little file of wondering children, dressed in black, whom the old general afterwards took up in his arms, one by one, very kindly, and kissed, and told them they were to come and play in Belmont whenever they liked, and to eat fruit in the garden, and a great deal more; for all which a poor little lady, in a widow's cap, and a lonely room, hard-by, was very grateful.



Little Doctor Toole came out feeling rather queer and stunned from Sturk's house. It was past three o'clock by this time, and it had already, in his eyes, a changed and empty look, as his upturned eye for a moment rested upon its gray front, and the window-panes glittering in the reddening sun. He looked down the street towards the turnpike, and then up it, towards Martin's-row and the Mills. And he bethought him suddenly of poor Sally Nutter, and upbraided himself, smiting the point of his cane with a vehement stab upon the pavement, for having forgotten to speak to Lowe upon her case. Perhaps, however, it was as well he had not, inasmuch as there were a few not unimportant facts connected with that case about which he was himself in the dark.

Mr. Gamble's conducting clerk had gone up stairs to Mrs. Nutter's door, and being admitted, had very respectfully asked leave to open, for that lady's instruction, a little statement which he was charged to make.

This was in substance, that Archibald Duncan, Mary Matchwell's husband, was in Dublin, and had sworn informations against her for bigamy; and that a warrant having been issued for her arrest upon that charge, the constables had arrived at the Mills for the purpose of executing it, and removing the body of the delinquent, M. M., to the custody of the turnkey; that measures would be taken on the spot to expel the persons who had followed in her train; and that Mr. Charles Nutter himself would arrive in little more than an hour, to congratulate his good wife, Sally, on the termination of their troubles, and to take quiet possession of his house.

You can imagine how Sally Nutter received all this, with clasped hands and streaming eyes, looking in the face of the man of notices and attested copies, unable to speak—unable quite to believe. But before he came to the end of his dry and delightful narrative, a loud yell and a scuffle in the parlour were heard; a shrilly clamour of warring voices; a dreadful crash of glass: a few curses and oaths in basses and barytones; and some laughter from the coachmen, who viewed the fray from outside through the window; and a brief, wild, and garrulous uproar, which made little Sally Nutter—though by this time used to commotion—draw back with her hands to her heart, and hold her breath. It was the critical convulsion; the evil spirit was being eliminated, and the tenement, stunned, bruised, and tattered, about to be at peace.

Of Charles Nutter's doings and adventures during the terrible interval between his departure on the night of Mary Matchwell's first visit to the Mills, and his return on this evening to the same abode, there is a brief outline, in the first person, partly in answer to questions, and obviously intended to constitute a memorandum for his attorney's use. I shall reprint it with your leave—as it is not very long—verbatim.

'When that woman, Sir, came out to the Mills,' says this document, 'I could scarce believe my eyes; I knew her temper; she was always damnably wicked; but I had found out all about her long ago; and I was amazed at her audacity. What she said was true—we were married; or rather, we went through the ceremony, at St. Clement Danes, in London, in the year '50. I could not gainsay that; but I well knew what she thought was known but to herself and another. She had a husband living then. We lived together little more than three months. We were not a year parted when I found out all about him; and I never expected more trouble from her.

'I knew all about him then. But seventeen years bring many changes; and I feared he might be dead. He was a saddler in Edinburgh, and his name was Duncan. I made up my mind to go thither straight. Next morning the Lovely Betty, packet, was to sail for Holyhead. I took money, and set out without a word to anybody. The wretch had told my poor wife, and showed her the certificate, and so left her half mad.

'I swore to her 'twas false. I told her to wait a bit and she would see. That was everything passed between us. I don't think she half understood what I said, for she was at her wits' ends. I was scarce better myself first. 'Twas a good while before I resolved on this course, and saw my way, and worse thoughts were in my head; but so soon as I made up my mind to this I grew cool. I don't know how it happened that my foot-prints by the river puzzled them; 'twas all accident; I was thinking of no such matter; I did not go through the village, but through the Knockmaroon gate; 'twas dark by that time; I only met two men with a cart—they did not know me—Dublin men, I think. I crossed the park in a straight line for Dublin; I did not meet a living soul; 'twas dark, but not very dark. When I reached the Butcher's Wood, all on a sudden, I heard a horrid screech, and two blows quick, one after the other, to my right, not three score steps away—heavy blows—they sounded like the strokes of a man beating a carpet.

'With the first alarm, I hollo'd, and ran in the direction shouting as I went; 'twas as I ran I heard the second blow; I saw no one, and heard no other sound; the noise I made myself in running might prevent it. I can't say how many seconds it took to run the distance—not many; I ran fast; I was not long in finding the body; his white vest and small clothes showed under the shadow; he seemed quite dead. I thought when first I took his hand, there was a kind of a quiver in his fingers; but that was over immediately. His eyes and mouth were a bit open; the blood was coming very fast, and the wounds on his head looked very deep—frightful—as I conjectured they were done with a falchion (a name given to a heavy wooden sword resembling a New Zealand weapon); there was blood coming from one ear, and his mouth; there was no sign of life about him, and I thought him quite dead. I would have lifted him against a tree, but his head looked all in a smash, and I daren't move him. I knew him for Dr. Sturk, of the Artillery; he wore his regimentals; I did not see his hat; his head was bare when I saw him.

'When I saw 'twas Doctor Sturk, I was frightened; he had treated me mighty ill, and I resented it, which I did not conceal; and I thought 'twould look very much against me if I were any way mixed up in this dreadful occurrence—especially not knowing who did it—and being alone with the body so soon after 'twas done. I crossed the park wall therefore; but by the time I came near Barrack-street, I grew uneasy in my mind, lest Doctor Sturk should still have life in him, and perish for want of help. I went down to the river-side, and washed my hands, for there was blood upon 'em, and while so employed, by mischance I lost my hat in the water and could not recover it. I stood for a while by the river-bank; it was a lonely place; I was thinking of crossing there first, I was so frightened; I changed my mind, however, and went round by Bloody-bridge.

'The further I went the more fearful I grew, lest Sturk should die for want of help that I might send him; and although I thought him dead, I got such a dread of this over me as I can't describe. I saw two soldiers opposite the "Royal Oak" inn, and I told them I overheard a fellow speak of an officer that lay wounded in the Butcher's Wood, not far from the park-wall, and gave them half-a-crown to have search made, which they promised, and took the money.

'I crossed Bloody-bridge, and got into a coach, and so to Luke Gamble's. I told him nothing of Sturk; I had talked foolishly to him, and did not know what even he might think. I told him all about M. M.'s, that is Mary Duncan's turning up; she went by that name in London, and kept a lodging-house. I took his advice on the matter, and sailed next morning. The man Archie Duncan had left Edinburgh, but I traced him to Carlisle and thence to York, where I found him. He was in a very poor way, and glad to hear that Demirep was in Dublin, and making money. When I came back I was in the Hue-and-Cry for the assault on Sturk.

'I took no precaution, not knowing what had happened; but 'twas night when we arrived, Duncan and I, and we went straight to Gamble's and he concealed me. I kept close within his house, except on one night, when I took coach. I was under necessity, as you shall hear, to visit Chapelizod. I got out in the hollow of the road by the Knockmaroon pond, in the park; an awful night it was—the night of the snow-storm, when the brig was wrecked off the Black Rock, you remember. I wanted to get some papers necessary to my case against Mary Duncan. I had the key of the glass door; the inside fastening was broke, and there was no trouble in getting in. But the women had sat up beyond their hour, and saw me. I got the papers, however, and returned, having warned them not to speak. I ventured out of doors but once more, and was took on a warrant for assaulting Sturk. 'Twas the women talking as they did excited the officer's suspicions.

'I have lain in prison since. The date of my committal and discharge are, I suppose, there.'

And so ends this rough draft, with the initials, I think, in his own hands, C. N., at the foot.

At about half-past four o'clock Nutter came out to the Mills in a coach. He did not drive through Chapelizod; he was shy, and wished to feel his way a little. So he came home privily by the Knockmaroon Park-gate. Poor little Sally rose into a sort of heroine. With a wild cry, and 'Oh, Charlie!' she threw her arms about his neck; and the 'good little crayture,' as Magnolia was wont to call her, had fainted. Nutter said nothing, but carried her in his arms to the sofa, and himself sobbed very violently for about a minute, supporting her tenderly. She came to herself very quickly, and hugged her Charlie with such a torrent of incoherent endearments, welcomes, and benedictions as I cannot at all undertake to describe. Nutter didn't speak. His arms were about her, and with wet eyes, and biting his nether-lip, and smiling, he looked into her poor little wild, delighted face with an unspeakable world of emotion and affection beaming from the homely lines and knots of that old mahogany countenance; and the maids smiling, blessing, courtesying, and welcoming him home again, added to the pleasant uproar which amazed even the tipsy coachman from the hall.

'Oh! Charlie, I have you fast, my darling. Oh! but it's wonderful; you, yourself—my Charlie, your own self—never, never, oh! never to part again!' and so on.

And so for a rapturous hour, it seemed as if they had passed the dark valley, and were immortal; and no more pain, sorrow, or separation for them. And, perhaps, these blessed illusions are permitted now and again to mortals, like momentary gleams of paradise, and distant views of the delectable mountains, to cheer poor pilgrims with a foretaste of those meetings beyond the river, where the separated and beloved shall embrace.

It is not always that the person most interested in a rumour is first to hear it. It was reported in Chapelizod, early that day, that Irons, the clerk, had made some marvellous discovery respecting Lord Dunoran, and the murder of which an English jury had found that nobleman guilty. Had people known that Mervyn was the son of that dishonoured peer—as in that curious little town they would, no doubt, long since have, at least, suspected, had he called himself by his proper patronymic Mordaunt—he would not have wanted a visitor to enlighten him half-an-hour after the rumour had began to proclaim itself in the streets and public haunts of the village. No one, however, thought of the haughty and secluded young gentleman who lived so ascetic a life at the Tiled House, and hardly ever showed in the town, except in church on Sundays; and who when he rode on his black hunter into Dublin, avoided the village, and took the high-road by Inchicore.

When the report did reach him, and he heard that Lowe, who knew all about it, was at the Phoenix, where he was holding a conference with a gentleman from the Crown Office, half wild with excitement, he hurried thither. There, having declared himself to the magistrate and his companion, in that little chamber where Nutter was wont to transact his agency business, and where poor Sturk had told down his rent, guinea by guinea, with such a furious elation, on the morning but one before he received his death-blow, he heard, with such feelings as may be imagined, the magistrate read aloud, not only the full and clear information of Irons, but the equally distinct deposition of Doctor Sturk, and was made aware of the complete identification of the respectable and vivacious Paul Dangerfield with the dead and damned Charles Archer!

On hearing all this, the young man rode straight to Belmont, where he was closeted with the general for fully twenty minutes. They parted in a very friendly way, but he did not see the ladies. The general, however, no sooner bid him farewell at the door-steps than he made his way to the drawing-room, and, big with his amazing secret, first, in a very grave and almost agitated way, told little 'Toodie,' as he called his daughter, to run away and leave him together with Aunt Rebecca, which being done, he anticipated that lady's imperious summons to explain himself by telling her, in his blunt, soldierly fashion, the wondrous story.

Aunt Becky was utterly confounded. She had seldom before in her life been so thoroughly taken in. What a marvellous turn of fortune! What a providential deliverance and vindication for that poor young Lord Dunoran! What an astounding exposure of that miscreant Mr. Dangerfield!

'What a blessed escape the child has had!' interposed the general with a rather testy burst of gratitude.

'And how artfully she and my lord contrived to conceal their engagement!' pursued Aunt Rebecca, covering her somewhat confused retreat.

But, somehow, Aunt Rebecca was by no means angry. On the contrary, anyone who knew her well would have perceived that a great weight was taken off her mind.

The consequences of Dangerfield's incarceration upon these awful charges, were not confined altogether to the Tiled House and the inhabitants of Belmont.

No sooner was our friend Cluffe well assured that Dangerfield was in custody of the gaoler, and that his old theory of a certain double plot carried on by that intriguing personage, with the object of possessing the hand and thousands of Aunt Rebecca, was now and for ever untenable, than he wrote to London forthwith to countermand the pelican. The answer, which in those days was rather long about coming, was not pleasant, being simply a refusal to rescind the contract.

Cluffe, in a frenzy, carried this piece of mercantile insolence off to his lawyer. The stout captain was, however, undoubtedly liable, and, with a heavy heart, he wrote to beg they would, with all despatch, sell the bird in London on his account, and charge him with the difference. 'The scoundrels!—they'll buy him themselves at half-price, and charge me a per centage besides; but what the plague better can I do?

In due course, however, came an answer, informing Captain Cluffe that his letter had arrived too late, as the bird, pursuant to the tenor of his order, had been shipped for him to Dublin by the Fair Venus, with a proper person in charge, on the Thursday morning previous. Good Mrs. Mason, his landlady, had no idea what was causing the awful commotion in the captain's room; the fitful and violent soliloquies; the stamping of the captain up and down the floor; and the contusions, palpably, suffered by her furniture. The captain's temper was not very pleasant that evening, and he was fidgety and feverish besides, expecting every moment a note from town to apprise him of its arrival.

However, he walked up to Belmont a week or two after, and had a very consolatory reception from Aunt Becky. He talked upon his old themes, and upon the subject of Puddock, was, as usual, very friendly and intercessorial; in fact, she showed at last signs of yielding.

'Well, Captain Cluffe, tell him if he cares to come, he may come, and be on the old friendly footing; but be sure you tell him he owes it all to you.'

And positively, as she said so, Aunt Rebecca looked down upon her fan; and Cluffe thought looked a little flushed, and confused too; whereat the gallant fellow was so elated that he told her all about the pelican, discarding as unworthy of consideration, under circumstances so imminently promising, a little plan he had formed of keeping the bird privately in Dublin, and looking out for a buyer.

Poor little Puddock, on the other hand, had heard, more than a week before this message of peace arrived, the whole story of Gertrude's engagement to Lord Dunoran, as we may now call Mr. Mervyn, with such sensations as may be conjectured. His heart, of course, was torn; but having sustained some score of similar injuries in that region upon other equally harrowing occasions, he recovered upon this with all favourable symptoms, and his wounds healed with the first intention. He wore his chains very lightly, indeed. The iron did not enter into his soul; and although, of course, 'he could never cease but with his life to dwell upon the image of his fleeting dream—the beautiful nymph of Belmont,' I have never heard that his waist grew at all slimmer, or that his sleep or his appetite suffered during the period of his despair.

The good little fellow was very glad to hear from Cluffe, who patronised him most handsomely, that Aunt Rebecca had consented to receive him once more into her good graces.

'And the fact is, Puddock, I think I may undertake to promise you'll never again be misunderstood in that quarter,' said Cluffe, with a mysterious sort of smile.

'I'm sure, dear Cluffe, I'm grateful as I ought, for your generous pleading on my poor behalf, and I do prize the good will of that most excellent lady as highly as any, and owe her, beside, a debt of gratitude for care and kindness such as many a mother would have failed to bestow.'

'Mother, indeed! Why, Puddock, my boy, you forget you're no chicken,' said Cluffe, a little high.

'And to-morrow I will certainly pay her my respects,' said the lieutenant, not answering Cluffe's remark.

So Gertrude Chattesworth, after her long agitation—often despair—was tranquil at last, and blessed in the full assurance of the love which was henceforth to be her chief earthly happiness.

'Madam was very sly,' said Aunt Becky, with a little shake of her head, and a quizzical smile; and holding up her folded fan between her finger and thumb, in mimic menace as she glanced at Gertrude. 'Why, Mr. Mordaunt, on the very day—the day we had the pleasant luncheon on the grass—when, as I thought, she had given you your quietus—'twas quite the reverse, and you had made a little betrothal, and duped the old people so cleverly ever after.'

'You have forgiven me, dear aunt,' said the young lady, kissing her very affectionately, 'but I will never quite forgive myself. In a moment of great agitation I made a hasty promise of secrecy, which, from the moment 'twas made, was to me a never-resting disquietude, misery, and reproach. If you, my dearest aunt, knew, as he knows, all the anxieties, or rather the terrors, I suffered during that agitating period of concealment—'

'Indeed, dear Madam,' said Mordaunt—or as we may now call him, Lord Dunoran—coming to the rescue, ''twas all my doing; on me alone rests all the blame. Selfish it hardly was. I could not risk the loss of my beloved; and until my fortunes had improved, to declare our situation would have been too surely to lose her. Henceforward I have done with mystery. I will never have a secret from her, nor she from you.'

He took Aunt Becky's hand. 'Am I, too, forgiven?'

He held it for a second, and then kissed it.

Aunt Becky smiled, with one of her pleasant little blushes, and looked down on the carpet, and was silent for a moment; and then, as they afterwards thought a little oddly, she said,

'That censor must be more severe than I, who would say that concealment in matters of the heart is never justifiable; and, indeed, my dear,' she added, quite in a humble way, 'I almost think you were right.'

Aunt Becky's looks and spirits had both improved from the moment of this eclaircissement. A load was plainly removed from her mind. Let us hope that her comfort and elation were perfectly unselfish. At all events, her heart sang with a quiet joy, and her good humour was unbounded. So she stood up, holding Lord Dunoran's hand in hers, and putting her white arm round her niece's neck, she kissed her again and again, very tenderly, and she said—

'How very happy, Gertrude, you must be!' and then she went quickly from the room, drying her eyes.

Happy indeed she was, and not least in the termination of that secrecy which was so full of self-reproach and sometimes of distrust. From the evening of that dinner at the King's House, when in an agony of jealousy she had almost disclosed to poor little Lily the secret of their engagement, down to the latest moment of its concealment, her hours had been darkened by care, and troubled with ceaseless agitations.

Everything was now going prosperously for Mervyn—or let us call him henceforward Lord Dunoran. Against the united evidence of Sturk and Irons, two independent witnesses, the crown were of opinion that no defence was maintainable by the wretch, Archer. The two murders were unambiguously sworn to by both witnesses. A correspondence, afterwards read in the Irish House of Lords, was carried on between the Irish and the English law officers of the crown—for the case, for many reasons, was admitted to be momentous—as to which crime he should be first tried for—the murder of Sturk, or that of Beauclerc. The latter was, in this respect, the most momentous—that the cancelling of the forfeiture which had ruined the Dunoran family depended upon it.

'But are you not forgetting, Sir,' said Mr. Attorney in consultation, 'that there's the finding of felo de se against him by the coroner's jury?'

'No, Sir,' answered the crown solicitor, well pleased to set Mr. Attorney right. 'The jury being sworn, found only that he came by his death, but whether by gout in his stomach, or by other disease, or by poison, they had no certain knowledge; there was therefore no such coroner's verdict, and no forfeiture therefore.'

'And I'm glad to hear it, with all my heart. I've seen the young gentleman, and a very pretty young nobleman he is,' said Mr. Attorney. Perhaps he would not have cared if this expression of his good will had got round to my lord.

The result was, however, that their prisoner was to be first tried in Ireland for the murder of Doctor Barnabas Sturk.

A few pieces of evidence, slight, but sinister, also turned up. Captain Cluffe was quite clear he had seen an instrument in the prisoner's hand on the night of the murder, as he looked into the little bed-chamber of the Brass Castle, so unexpectedly. When he put down the towel, he raised it from the toilet, where it lay. It resembled the butt of a whip—was an inch or so longer than a drumstick, and six or seven inches of the thick end stood out in a series of circular bands or rings. He washed the thick end of it in the basin; it seemed to have a spring in it, and Cluffe thought it was a sort of loaded baton. In those days robbery and assault were as common as they are like to become again, and there was nothing remarkable in the possession of such defensive weapons. Dangerfield had only run it once or twice hastily through the water, rolled it in a red handkerchief, and threw it into his drawer, which he locked. When Cluffe was shown the whip, which bore a rude resemblance to this instrument, and which Lowe had assumed to be all that Cluffe had really seen, the gallant captain peremptorily pooh-poohed it. 'Twas no such thing. The whip-handle was light in comparison, and it was too long to fit in the drawer.

Now, the awful fractures which had almost severed Sturk's skull corresponded exactly with the wounds which such an instrument would inflict, and a tubular piece of broken iron, about two inches long, exactly corresponding with the shape of the loading described by Cluffe, was actually discovered in the sewer of the Brass Castle. It had been in the fire, and the wood or whalebone was burnt completely away. It was conjectured that Dangerfield had believed it to be lead, and having burnt the handle, had broken the metal which he could not melt, and made away with it in the best way he could. So preparations were pushed forward, and Sturk's dying declaration, sworn to, late in the evening before his dissolution, in a full consciousness of his approaching death, was, of course, relied on, and a very symmetrical and logical bill lay, neatly penned, in the Crown Office, awaiting the next commission for the county.



In the meantime our worthy little Lieutenant Puddock—by this time quite reconciled to the new state of things, walked up to Belmont, with his head a great deal fuller—such and so great are human vagaries—of the interview pending between him and Aunt Becky than of the little romance which had exploded so unexpectedly about a fortnight ago.

He actually saw Miss Gertrude and my Lord Dunoran walking side by side, on the mulberry walk by the river; and though he looked and felt a little queer, perhaps, a little absurd, he did not sigh, or murmur a stanza, or suffer a palpitation; but walked up to the hall-door, and asked for Miss Rebecca Chattesworth.

Aunt Becky received him in the drawing-room. She was looking very pale, and spoke very little, and very gently for her. In a reconciliation between two persons of the opposite sexes—though the ages be wide apart—there is almost always some little ingredient of sentiment.

The door was shut, and Puddock's voice was heard in an indistinct murmur, upon the lobby. Then there was a silence, or possibly, some speaking in a still lower key. Then Aunt Becky was crying, and the lieutenant's voice cooing through it. Then Aunt Becky, still crying, said—

'A longer time than you think for, lieutenant; two years, and more—always! And the lieutenant's voice rose again; and she said—'What a fool I've been!' which was again lost in Puddock's accents; and the drawing-room door opened, and Aunt Rebecca ran up stairs, with her handkerchief to her red nose and eyes, and slammed her bed-room door after her like a boarding-school miss.

And the general's voice was heard shouting 'luncheon' in the hall; and Dominick repeated the announcement to Puddock, who stood, unusually pale and very much stunned, with the handle of the open drawing-room door in his hand, looking up toward the bed-room in an undecided sort of way, as if he was not clear whether it was not his duty to follow Aunt Becky. On being told a second time, however, that the general awaited him at luncheon, he apprehended the meaning of the message, and went down to the parlour forthwith.

The general, and my lord Dunoran, and Miss Gertrude, and honest Father Roach, were there; and Aunt Becky being otherwise engaged, could not come.

Puddock, at luncheon, was abstracted—frightened—silent, for the most part; talking only two or three sentences during that sociable meal, by fits and starts; and he laughed once abruptly at a joke he did not hear. He also drank three glasses of port.

Aunt Rebecca met him with her hood on in the hall. She asked him, with a faltering sort of carelessness, looking very hard at the clock, and nearly with her back to him—

'Lieutenant, will you take a turn in the garden with me?'

To which Puddock, with almost a start—for he had not seen her till she spoke—and, upon my word, 'tis a fact, with a blush, too—made a sudden smile, and a bow, and a suitable reply in low tones; and forth they sallied together, and into the garden, and up and down the same walk, for a good while—a long while—people sometimes don't count the minutes—with none but Peter Brian, the gardener, whom they did not see, to observe them.

When they came to the white wicket-door of the garden, Aunt Rebecca hastily dropped his arm, on which she had leaned; and together they returned to the house very affably; and there Aunt Becky bid him good-bye in a whisper, a little hastily; and Puddock, so soon as he found Dominick, asked for the general.

He had gone down to the river; and Puddock followed. As he walked along the court, he looked up; there was a kind of face at the window. He smiled a great deal and raised his hat, and placed it to his heart, and felt quite bewildered, like a man in a dream; and in this state he marched down to the river's bank.

They had not been together for a full minute when the stout general threw back his head, looking straight in his face; and then he stepped first one, then another, fat little pace backward, and poked his cane right at the ribs of the plump little lieutenant, then closing with him, he shook both Puddock's hands in both his, with a hearty peal of laughter.

Then he took Puddock under his arm. Puddock had to stoop to pick up his hat which the general had dislodged. And so the general walks him slowly towards the house; sometimes jogging his elbow a little under his ribs; sometimes calling a halt and taking his collar in his finger and thumb, thrusting him out a little, and eyeing him over with a sort of swagger, and laughing and coughing, and whooping, and laughing again, almost to strangulation; and altogether extraordinarily boisterous, and hilarious, and familiar, as Cluffe thought, who viewed this spectacle from the avenue.

Mr. Sterling would not have been quite so amused at a similar freak of Mrs. Hidleberg's—but our honest general was no especial worshipper of money—he was rich, too, and his daughter, well dowered, was about to marry a peer, and beside all this, though he loved 'Sister Becky,' her yoke galled him; and I think he was not altogether sorry at the notion of a little more liberty.

At the same moment honest Peter Brien, having set his basket of winter greens down upon the kitchen-table, electrified his auditory by telling them, with a broad grin and an oath, that he had seen Lieutenant Puddock and Aunt Rebecca kiss in the garden, with a good smart smack, 'by the powers, within three yards of his elbow, when he was stooping down cutting them greens!' At which profanity, old Mistress Dorothy, Aunt Rebecca's maid, was so incensed that she rose and left the kitchen without a word. The sensation there, however, was immense; and Mistress Dorothy heard the gabble and laughter fast and furious behind her until she reached the hall.

Captain Cluffe was asking for Aunt Rebecca when Puddock and the general reached the hall-door, and was surprised to learn that she was not to be seen. 'If she knew 'twas I,' he thought, 'but no matter.'

'Oh, we could have told you that; eh, Puddock?' cried the general; ''tisn't everybody can see my sister to-day, captain; a very peculiar engagement, eh, Puddock?' and a sly wink and a chuckle.

Cluffe smiled a little, and looked rather conscious and queer, but pleased with himself; and his eyes wandered over the front windows hastily, to see if Aunt Becky was looking out, for he fancied there was something in the general's quizzing, and that the lady might have said more than she quite intended to poor little Puddock on the subject of the gallant mediator; and that, in fact, he was somehow the theme of some little sentimental disclosure of the lady's. What the plague else could they both mean by quizzing Cluffe about her?

Puddock and he had not gone half-way down the short avenue, when Cluffe said, with a sheepish smile:

'Miss Rebecca Chattesworth dropped something in her talk with you, Puddock, I see that plain enough, my dear fellow, which the general has no objection I should hear, and, hang it, I don't see any myself. I say, I may as well hear it, eh? I venture to say there's no great harm in it.'

At first Puddock was reserved, but recollecting that he had been left quite free to tell whom he pleased, he made up his mind to unbosom; and suggested, for the sake of quiet and a longer conversation, that they should go round by the ferry.

'No, I thank you, I've had enough of that; we can walk along as quietly as you like, and turn a little back again if need be.'

So slowly, side by side, the brother-officers paced toward the bridge; and little Puddock, with a serious countenance and blushing cheeks, and looking straight before him, made his astounding disclosure.

Puddock told things in a very simple and intelligible way, and Cluffe heard him in total silence; and just as he related the crowning fact, that he, the lieutenant, was about to marry Miss Rebecca Chattesworth, having reached the milestone by the footpath, Captain Cluffe raised his foot thereupon, without a word to Puddock, and began tugging at the strap of his legging, with a dismal red grin, and a few spluttering curses at the artificer of the article.

'And the lady has had the condescension to say that she has liked me for at least two years.'

'And she hating you like poison, to my certain knowledge,' laughed Captain Cluffe, very angrily, and swallowing down his feelings. So they walked on a little way in silence, and Cluffe, who, with his face very red, and his mouth a good deal expanded, and down in the corners, was looking steadfastly forward, exclaimed suddenly,—


'I see, Cluffe,' said Puddock; 'you don't think it prudent—you think we mayn't be happy?'

'Prudent,' laughed Cluffe, with a variety of unpleasant meanings; and after a while—'And the general knows of it?'

'And approves it most kindly,' said Puddock.

'What else can he do?' sneered Cluffe; ''tis a precious fancy—they are such cheats! Why you might be almost her grand-son, my dear Puddock, ha, ha, ha. 'Tis preposterous; you're sixteen years younger than I.'

'If you can't congratulate me, 'twould be kinder not to say anything, Captain Cluffe; and nobody must speak in my presence of that lady but with proper respect; and I—I thought, Cluffe, you'd have wished me well, and shaken hands and said something—something—'

'Oh, as for that,' said Cluffe, swallowing down his emotions again, and shaking hands with Puddock rather clumsily, and trying to smile, 'I wish you well, Heaven knows—everything good; why shouldn't I, by George? You know, Puddock, 'twas I who brought you together. And—and—am I at liberty to mention it?'

Puddock thought it better the news should be proclaimed from Belmont.

'Well, so I think myself,' said Cluffe, and relapsed into silence till they parted, at the corner of the broad street of Chapelizod and Cluffe walked at an astounding pace on to his lodgings.

'Here's Captain Cluffe,' said Mrs. Mason, to a plump youth, who had just made the journey from London, and was standing with the driver of a low-backed car, and saluted the captain, who was stalking in without taking any notice.

'Little bill, if you please, captain.'

'What is it?' demanded the captain, grimly.

'Obediar's come, Sir.'

'Obediar!' said the captain. 'What the plague do you mean, Sir?'

'Obediar, Sir, is the name we give him. The pelican, Sir, from Messrs. Hamburgh and Slighe.'

And the young man threw back a piece of green baize, and disclosed Obediar, who blinked with a tranquil countenance upon the captain through the wires of a strong wooden cage. I doubt if the captain ever looked so angry before or since. He glared at the pelican, and ground his teeth, and actually shook his cane in his fist; and if he had been one bit less prudent than he was, I think Obediar would then and there have slept with his fathers.

Cluffe whisked himself about, and plucked open the paper.

'And what the devil is all this for, Sir? ten—twelve pounds ten shillings freightage and care on the way—and twenty-five, by George, Sir—not far from forty pounds, Sir,' roared Cluffe.

'Where'll I bring him to, Sir?' asked the driver.

The captain bellowed an address we sha'n't print here.

'Curse him—curse the brute! forty pounds!' and the captain swore hugely, 'you scoundrel! Drive the whole concern out of that, Sir. Drive him away, Sir, or by Jove, I'll break every bone in your body, Sir.'

And the captain scaled the stairs, and sat down panting, and outside the window he heard the driver advising something about putting the captain's bird to livery, 'till sich time as he'd come to his sinses;' and himself undertaking to wait opposite the door of his lodgings until his fare from Dublin was paid.

Though Cluffe was occasionally swayed by the angry passions, he was, on the whole, in his own small way, a long-headed fellow. He hated law, especially when he had a bad case; and accordingly he went down again, rumpling the confounded bill in his hand, and told the man that he did not blame him for it—though the whole thing was an imposition; but that rather than have any words about it, he'd pay the account, and have done with it; and he stared again in the face of the pelican with an expression of rooted abhorrence and disgust, and the mild bird clapped its bill, perhaps expecting some refreshment, and looking upon the captain with a serene complacency very provoking under the circumstances.

'How the devil people can like such misshapen, idiotic-looking, selfish, useless brutes; and, by George, it smells like a polecat—curse it! but some people have deuced queer fancies in more matters than one. The brute! on my soul, I'd like to shoot it.'

However, with plenty of disputation over the items, and many oaths and vows, the gallant captain, with a heavy and wrathful heart, paid the bill; and although he had sworn in his drawing-room that he'd eat the pelican before Aunt Rebecca should have it, he thought better also upon this point too, and it arrived that evening at Belmont, with his respectful compliments.

Cluffe was soon of opinion that he was in absolute possession of his own secret, and resolved to keep it effectually. He hinted that very evening at mess, and afterwards at the club, that he had been managing a very nice and delicate bit of diplomacy which not a soul of them suspected, at Belmont; and that by George, he thought they'd stare when they heard it. He had worked like a lord chancellor to bring it about; and he thought all was pretty well settled, now. And the Chapelizod folk, in general, and Puddock, as implicitly as any, and Aunt Rebecca, for that matter, also believed to their dying day that Cluffe had managed that match, and been a true friend to little Puddock.

Cluffe never married, but grew confoundedly corpulent by degrees, and suffered plaguily from gout; but was always well dressed, and courageously buckled in, and, I dare say, two inches less in girth, thanks to the application of mechanics, than nature would have presented him.



The excitement was high in Chapelizod when the news reached that a true bill was found against Charles Archer for the murder of Barnabas Sturk. Everywhere, indeed, the case was watched with uncommon interest; and when the decisive day arrived, and the old judge, furrowed, yellow, and cross, mounted the bench, and the jury were called over, and the challenges began, and the grim, gentlemanlike person with the white hair, and his right arm in a black silk sling, whispering to his attorney and now and again pencilling, with his left hand, a line to his counsel with that indescribable air of confidence and almost defiance, pleaded to the indictment 'not guilty,' and the dreadful business of the day began, the court was crowded as it seldom had been before.

A short, clear, horrible statement unfolded the case for the crown. Then the dying deposition of Sturk was put in evidence; then Irons the clerk was put up, and told his tale doggedly and distinctly, and was not to be shaken. 'No, it was not true that he had ever been confined in a mad house.' 'He had never had delirium tremens.' 'He had never heard that his wife thought him mad.' 'Yes, it was true he had pledged silver of his master's at the Pied Horse at Newmarket' 'He knew it was a felony, but it was the prisoner who put it into his head and encouraged him to do it.' 'Yes, he would swear to that.' 'He had several times spoken to Lord Dunoran, when passing under the name of Mervyn, on the subject of his father being wronged.' 'He never had any promise from my lord, in case he should fix the guilt of that murder on some other than his father.' Our friend, Captain Cluffe, was called, and delivered his evidence in a somewhat bluff and peremptory, but on the whole effective way.

Charles Nutter, after some whispered consultation, was also called, and related what we have heard. 'Yes, he had been arrested for the murder of Dr. Sturk, and now stood out on bail to answer that charge.' Then followed some circumstances, one of which, the discovery of a piece of what was presumed to be the weapon with which the murder was perpetrated, I have already mentioned. Then came some evidence, curious but quite clear, to show that the Charles Archer who had died at Florence was not the Charles Archer who had murdered Beauclerc, but a gentleman who had served in the army, and had afterwards been for two years in Italy, in the employment of a London firm who dealt in works of art, and was actually resident in Italy at the time when the Newmarket murder occurred, and that the attempt to represent him as the person who had given evidence against the late Lord Dunoran was an elaborate and cunning contrivance of the prisoner at the bar. Then came the medical evidence.

Pell was examined, and delivered only half a dozen learned sentences; Toole, more at length, made a damaging comparison of the fragment of iron already mentioned, and the outline of the fractures in the deceased man's head; and Dillon was questioned generally, and was not cross-examined. Then came the defence.

The points were, that Sturk was restored to speech by the determined interposition of the prisoner at the bar, an unlikely thing if he was ruining himself thereby! That Sturk's brain had been shattered, and not cleared from hallucinations before he died; that having uttered the monstrous dream, in all its parts incredible, which was the sole foundation of the indictment against that every way respectable and eminent gentleman who stood there, the clerk, Irons, having heard something of it, had conceived the plan of swearing to the same story, for the manifest purpose of securing thereby the favour of the young Lord Dunoran, with whom he had been in conference upon this very subject without ever once having hinted a syllable against Mr. Paul Dangerfield until after Doctor Sturk's dream had been divulged; and the idea of fixing the guilt of Beauclerc's murder upon that gentleman of wealth, family, and station, occurred to his intriguing and unscrupulous mind.

Mr. Dangerfield, in the dock nodded sometimes, or sneered or smirked with hollow cheeks, or shook his head in unison with the passing sentiment of the speaker, directing, through that hot atmosphere, now darkening into twilight, a quick glance from time to time upon the aspect of the jury, the weather-gauge of his fate, but altogether with a manly, sarcastic, and at times a somewhat offended air, as though he should say, ''Tis somewhat too good a jest that I, Paul Dangerfield, Esq., a man of fashion, with my known character, and worth nigh two hundred thousand pounds sterling, should stand here, charged with murdering a miserable Chapelizod doctor!' The minutes had stolen away; the judge read his notes by candle-light, and charged, with dry and cranky emphasis, dead against that man of integrity, fashion, and guineas; and did not appear a bit disturbed at the idea of hanging him.

When the jury went in he had some soup upon the bench, and sipped it with great noise. Mr. Dangerfield shook hands with his counsel, and smirked and whispered. Many people there felt queer, and grew pale in the suspense, and the general gaze was fixed upon the prisoner with a coarse curiosity, of which he seemed resolutely unconscious; and five minutes passed by and a minute or two more—it seemed a very long time—the minute-hands of the watches hardly got on at all—and then the door of the jury-room opened, and the gentlemen came stumbling in, taking off their hats, and silence was called. There was no need; and the foreman, with a very pale and frightened face, handed down the paper.

And the simple message sounded through the court—


And Mr. Dangerfield bowed, and lifted up a white, smiling countenance, all over shining now with a slight moisture.

Then there was some whispering among the conductors of the prosecution; and the leader stood up to say, that, in consequence of a communication from the law officers in England, where the prisoner was to be arraigned on a capital indictment, involving serious consequences to others—for the murder, he meant, of Mr. Beauclerc—the crown wished that he should stand over for judgment until certain steps in that case had been taken at the other side. Then the court enquired whether they had considered so and so; and the leader explained and satisfied his lordship, who made an order accordingly. And Mr. Dangerfield made a low bow, with a smirk, to his lordship, and a nod, with the same, to his counsel; and he turned, and the turnkey and darkness received him.

Mr. Dangerfield, or shall we say the villain, Charles Archer, with characteristic promptitude and coolness, availed himself of the interval to try every influence he could once have set in motion, and as it were to gather his strength for a mighty tussle with the king of terrors, when his pale fingers should tap at his cell door. I have seen two of his letters, written with consummate plausibility and adroitness, and which have given me altogether a very high idea of his powers. But they were all received with a terrifying coldness or with absolute silence. There was no reasoning against an intuition. Every human being felt that the verdict was true, and that the judgment, when it came would be right: and recoiled from the smiling gentleman, over whose white head the hempen circle hung like a diabolical glory Dangerfield, who had something of the Napoleonic faculty of never 'making pictures' to himself, saw this fact in its literality, and acquiesced in it.

He was a great favourite with the gaoler, whom, so long as he had the command of his money, he had treated with a frank and convivial magnificence, and who often sat up to one o'clock with him, and enjoyed his stories prodigiously, for the sarcastic man of the world lost none of his amusing qualities: and—the fatigues of his barren correspondence ended—slept, and eat, and drank, pretty much as usual.

This Giant Despair, who carried the keys at his girdle, did not often get so swell a pilgrim into his castle, and was secretly flattered by his familiarity, and cheered by his devilish gaiety, and was quite willing to make rules bend a little, and the place as pleasant as possible to his distinguished guest, and give him in fact, all his heart could desire, except a chance of escape.

'I've one move left—nothing very excellent—but sometimes, you know, a scurvy card enough will win the trick. Between you and me, my good friend, I have a thing to tell that 'twill oblige my Lord Dunoran very much to hear. My Lord Townshend will want his vote. He means to prove his peerage immediately and he may give a poor devil a lift, you see—hey?

So next day there came my Lord Dunoran and a magistrate, not Mr. Lowe—Mr. Dangerfield professed a contempt for him, and preferred any other. So it was Mr. Armstrong this time, and that is all I know of him.

Lord Dunoran was more pale than usual; indeed he felt like to faint on coming into the presence of the man who had made his life so indescribably miserable, and throughout the interview he scarcely spoke six sentences, and not one word of reproach. The villain was down. It was enough.

Mr. Dangerfield was, perhaps, a little excited. He talked more volubly than usual, and once or twice there came a little flush over his pallid forehead and temples. But, on the whole, he was very much the same brisk, sardonic talker and polite gentleman whom Mr. Mervyn had so often discoursed with in Chapelizod. On this occasion, his narrative ran on uninterruptedly and easily, but full of horrors, like a satanic reverie.

'Upon my honour, Sir,' said Paul Dangerfield, with his head erect, 'I bear Mr. Lowe no ill-will. He is, you'll excuse me, a thief-catcher by nature. He can't help it. He thinks he works from duty, public spirit, and other fine influences; I know it is simply from an irrepressible instinct. I do assure you, I never yet bore any man the least ill-will. I've had to remove two or three, not because I hated them—I did not care a button for any—but because their existence was incompatible with my safety, which, Sir, is the first thing to me, as yours is to you. Human laws we respect—ha, ha!—you and I, because they subserve our convenience, and just so long. When they tend to our destruction, 'tis, of course, another thing.'

This, it must be allowed, was frank enough; there was no bargain here; and what ever Mr. Dangerfield's plan might have been, it certainly did not involve making terms with Lord Dunoran beforehand, or palliating or disguising what he had done. So on he went.

'I believe in luck, Sir, and there's the sum of my creed. I was wrong in taking that money from Beauclerc when I did, 'twas in the midst of a dismal run of ill-fortune. There was nothing unfair in taking it, though. The man was a cheat. It was not really his, and no one could tell to whom it belonged; 'twas no more his because I had found it in his pocket than if I had found it in a barrel on the high seas. I killed him to prevent his killing me. Precisely the same motive, though in your case neither so reasonable nor so justifiable, as that on which, in the name of justice, which means only the collective selfishness of my fellow-creatures, you design in cool blood to put me publicly to death. 'Tis only that you, gentlemen, think it contributes to your safety. That's the spirit of human laws. I applaud and I adopt it in my own case. Pray, Sir' (to Mr. Armstrong), 'do me the honour to try this snuff, 'tis real French rappee.

'But, Sir, though I have had to do these things, which you or any other man of nerve would do with a sufficient motive, I never hurt any man without a necessity for it. My money I've made fairly, though in great measure by play, and no man can say I ever promised that which I did not perform. 'Tis quite true I killed Beauclerc in the manner described by Irons. That was put upon me, and I could not help it. I did right. 'Tis also true, I killed that scoundrel Glascock, as Irons related. Shortly after, being in trouble about money and in danger of arrest, I went abroad, and changed my name and disguised my person.

'At Florence I was surprised to find a letter directed to Charles Archer. You may suppose it was not agreeable. But, of course, I would not claim it; and it went after all to him for whom it was intended. There was actually there a Mr. Charles Archer, dying of a decline. Three respectable English residents had made his acquaintance, knowing nothing of him but that he was a sick countryman. When I learned all about it, I, too, got an introduction to him; and when he died, I prevailed with one of them to send a note signed by himself and two more to the London lawyer who was pursuing me, simply stating that Charles Archer had died in Florence, to their knowledge, they having seen him during his last illness, and attended his funeral.

'I told them that he had begged me to see this done, as family affairs made it necessary; 'twas as well to use the event—and they did it without difficulty. I do not know how the obituary announcement got into the newspapers—it was not my doing—and naming him as the evidence in the prosecution of my Lord Dunoran was a great risk, and challenged contradiction, but none came. Sir Philip Drayton was one of the signatures, and it satisfied the attorney.

'When I came to Chapelizod, though, I soon found that the devil had not done with me, and that I was like to have some more unpleasant work on my hands. I did not know that Irons was above ground, nor he either that I was living. We had wandered far enough asunder in the interval to make the chances very many we should never meet again. Yet here we met, and I knew him, and he me. But he's a nervous man, and whimsical.

'He was afraid of me, and never used his secret to force money from me. Still it was not pleasant. I did not know but that if I went away he might tell it. I weighed the matter; 'tis true I thought there might have come a necessity to deal with him; but I would not engage in anything of the sort, without an absolute necessity. But Doctor Sturk was different—a bull-headed, conceited fool. I thought I remembered his face at Newmarket, and changed as it was, I was right, and learned all about him from Irons. I saw his mind was at work on me, though he could not find me out, and I could not well know what course a man like that might take, or how much he might have seen or remembered. That was not pleasant either.

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