Ormond, by Maria Edgeworth

Chapter 30.

One morning when Ormond awoke, the first thing he heard was, that a person from Ireland was below, who was very impatient to see him. It was Patrickson, Sir Ulick O’Shane’s confidential man of business.

“What news from Castle Hermitage?” cried Ormond, starting up in his bed, surprised at the sight of Patrickson.

“The best that can be — never saw Sir Ulick in such heart — he has a share of the loan, and —”

“And what news of the Annalys?” interrupted Ormond.

“I know nothing about them at all, sir,” said Patrickson, who was a methodical man of business, and whose head was always intent upon what he called the main chance. “I have been in Dublin, and heard no country news.”

“But have you no letter for me? and what brings you over so suddenly to Paris?”

“I have a letter for you somewhere here, sir — only I have so many ’tis hard to find,” said Patrickson, looking carefully over a parcel of letters in his pocket-book, but with such a drawling slowness of manner as put Ormond quite out of patience. Patrickson laid the letters on the bed one by one. “That’s not it — and that’s not it; that’s for Monsieur un tel, marchand, rue ——; that packet’s from the Hamburgh merchants — What brings me over? — Why, sir, I have business enough, Heaven knows!”

Patrickson was employed not only by Sir Ulick O’Shane, but by many Dublin merchants and bankers, to settle business for them with different houses on the continent. Ormond, without listening to the various digressions he made concerning the persons of mercantile consequence to whom the letters were addressed, or from whom they were answers, pounced upon the letter in Sir Ulick’s handwriting directed to himself, and tore it open eagerly, to see if there was any news of the Annalys. None — they were in Devonshire. The letter was merely a few lines on business — Sir Ulick had now the opportunity he had foreseen of laying out Ormond’s money in the loan most advantageously for him; but there had been an omission in the drawing up of his power of attorney, which had been done in such a hurry on Ormond’s leaving home. It gave power only to sell out of the Three per Cents.; whereas much of Ormond’s money was in the Four per Cents. Another power, Patrickson said, was necessary, and he had brought one for him to sign. Patrickson in his slow manner descanted upon the folly of signing papers in a hurry, just when people were getting into carriages, which was always the way with young gentlemen, he said. He took care that Ormond should do nothing in a hurry now; for he put on his spectacles, and read the power, sparing him not a syllable of the law forms and repetitions. Ormond wrote a few kind lines to Sir Ulick, and earnestly besought him to find out something more about the Annalys. If Miss Annaly were married, it must have appeared in the papers. What delayed the marriage? Was Colonel Albemarle dismissed or accepted? — Where was he? — Ormond said he would be content if Sir Ulick could obtain an answer to that single plain question.

All the time Ormond was writing, Patrickson never stirred his forefinger from the spot where the signature was to be written at the bottom of the power of attorney.

“Pray,” said Ormond, looking up from the paper he going to sign, “pray, Patrickson, are you really and truly an Irishman?”

“By the father’s side, I apprehend, sir — but my mother was English. Stay, sir, if you please — I must witness it.”

“Witness away,” said Ormond; and after having signed this paper, empowering Sir Ulick to sell 30,000 l. out of the Four per cents., Ormond lay down, and wishing him a good journey, settled himself to sleep; while Patrickson, packing up his papers, deliberately said, “He hoped to be in London in short; but that he should go by Havre de Grace, and that he should be happy to execute any commands for Mr. Ormond there or in Dublin.” More he would have said, but finding Ormond by this time past reply, he left the room on tiptoe. The next morning Madame de Connal returned from the country, and sent Ormond word that she should expect him at her assembly that night.

Every body complimented Madame de Connal upon the improvement which the country air had made in her beauty — even her husband was struck with it, and paid her his compliments on the occasion; but she stood conversing so long with Ormond, that the faro-players grew impatient: she led him to the table, but evidently had little interest herself in the game. He played at first with more than his usual success, but late at night his fortune suddenly changed; he lost — lost — till at last he stopped, and rising from table, said he had no more money, and he could play no longer. Connal, who was not one of the players, but merely looking on, offered to lend him any sum he pleased. “Here’s a rouleau — here are two rouleaus — what will you have?” said Connal.

Ormond declined playing any more: he said that he had lost the sum he had resolved to lose, and there he would stop. Connal did not urge him, but laughing said, that a resolution to lose at play was the most extraordinary he had ever heard.

“And yet you see I have kept it,” said Ormond.

“Then I hope you will next make a resolution to win,” said Connal, “and no doubt you will keep that as well — I prophesy that you will; and you will give fortune fair play to-morrow night.” Ormond simply repeated that he should play no more. Madame de Connal soon afterwards rose from the table, and went to talk to Mr. Ormond. She said she was concerned for his loss at play this night. He answered, as he felt, that it was a matter of no consequence to him — that he had done exactly what he had determined; that in the course of the whole time he had been losing this money he had had a great deal of amusement in society, had seen a vast deal of human nature and manners, which he could not otherwise have seen, and that he thought his money exceedingly well employed.

“But you shall not lose your money,” said Dora; “when next you play it shall be on my account as well as your own — you know this is not only a compliment, but a solid advantage. The bank has certain advantages — and it is fair that you should share them. I must explain to you,” continued Madame de Connal —“they are all busy about their own affairs, and we may speak in English at our ease — I must explain to you, that a good portion of my fortune has been settled, so as to be at my own disposal — my aunt, you know, has also a good fortune — we are partners, and put a considerable sum into the faro bank. We find it answers well. You see how handsomely we live. M. de Connal has his own share. We have nothing to do with that. If you would take my advice,” continued she, speaking in a very persuasive tone, “instead of forswearing play, as you seem inclined to do at the first reverse of fortune, you would join forces with us; you cannot imagine that I would advise you to any thing which I was not persuaded would be advantageous to you — you little know how much I am interested.” She checked herself, blushed, hesitated, and hurried on —“you have no ties in Ireland — you seem to like Paris — where can you spend your time more agreeably?”

“More agreeably — nowhere upon earth!” cried Ormond. Her manner, tone, and look, at this moment were so flattering, so bewitching, that he was scarcely master of himself. They went to the boudoir — the company had risen from the faro-table, and, one after another, had most of them departed. Connal was gone — only a few remained in a distant apartment, listening to some music. It was late. Ormond had never till this evening stayed later than the generality of the company, but he had now an excuse to himself, something that he had long wished to have an opportunity of saying to Dora, when she should be quite alone; it was a word of advice about le Comte de Belle Chasse — her intimacy with him was beginning to be talked of. She had been invited to a bal paré at the Spanish ambassador’s for the ensuing night — but she had more inclination to go to a bal masqué, as Ormond had heard her declare. Now certain persons had whispered that it was to meet the Comte de Belle Chasse that she intended to go to this ball; and Ormond feared that such whispers might be injurious to her reputation. It was difficult to him to speak, because the counsels of the friend might be mistaken for the jealous fears of a lover. With some embarrassment he delicately, timidly, hinted his apprehensions.

Dora, though naturally of a temper apt to take alarm at the touch of blame, and offence at the tone of advice, now in the most graceful manner thanked her friend for his counsel; said she was flattered, gratified, by the interest it showed in her happiness — and she immediately yielded her will, her fantaisie, to his better judgment. This compliance, and the look with which it was accompanied, convinced him of the absolute power he possessed over her heart. He was enchanted with Dora — she never looked so beautiful; never before, not even in the first days of his early youth, had he felt her beauty so attractive.

“Dear Madame de Connal, dear Dora!” he exclaimed.

“Call me Dora,” said she: “I wish ever to be Dora to Harry Ormond. Oh! Harry, my first, my best, my only friend, I have enjoyed but little real happiness since we parted.”

Tears filled her fine eyes — no longer knowing where he was, Harry Ormond found himself at her feet. But while he held and kissed in transport the beautiful hand, which was but feebly withdrawn, he seemed to be suddenly shocked by the sight of one of the rings on her finger.

“My wedding-ring,” said Dora, with a sigh. “Unfortunate marriage!”

That was not the ring on which Ormond’s eyes were fixed.

“Dora, whose gray hair is this?”

“My father’s,” said Dora, in a tremulous voice.

“Your father!” cried Ormond, starting up. The full recollection of that fond father, that generous benefactor, that confiding friend, rushed upon his heart.

“And is this the return I make! — Oh, if he could see us at this instant!”

“And if he could,” cried Dora, “oh! how he would admire and love you, Ormond, and how he would —”

Her voice failed, and with a sudden motion she hid her face with both her hands.

“He would see you, Dora, without a guide, protector, or friend; surrounded with admirers, among profligate men, and women still more profligate, yet he would see that you have preserved a reputation of which your father would be proud.”

“My father! oh, my poor father!” cried Dora: “Oh! generous, dear, ever generous Ormond!”

Bursting into tears — alternate passions seizing her — at one moment the thoughts of her father, the next of her lover, possessed her imagination.

At this instant the noise of some one approaching recalled them both to their senses. They were found in earnest conversation about a party of pleasure that was to be arranged for the next day. Madame de Connal made Ormond promise that he would come the next morning, and settle every thing with M. de Connal for their intended expedition into the country.

The next day, as Ormond was returning to Madame de Connal’s, with the firm intention of adhering to the honourable line of conduct he had traced out for himself, just as he was crossing the Pont Neuf, some one ran full against him. Surprised at what happens so seldom in the streets of Paris, where all meet, pass, or cross, in crowds with magical celerity and address, he looked back, and at the same instant the person who had passed looked back also. An apparition in broad daylight could not have surprised Ormond more than the sight of this person. “Could it be — could it possibly be Moriarty Carroll, on the Pont Neuf in Paris?”

“By the blessing, then, it’s the man himself — Master Harry! — though I didn’t know him through the French disguise. Oh! master, then, I’ve been tried and cast, and all but hanged — sentenced to Botany — transported any way — for a robbery I didn’t commit — since I saw you last. But your honour’s uneasy, and it’s not proper, I know, to be stopping a jantleman in the street; but I have a word to say that will bear no delay, not a minute.”

Ormond’s surprise and curiosity increased — he desired Moriarty to follow him.

“And now, Moriarty, what is it you have to say?”

“It is a long story, then, please your honour. I was transported to Botany, though innocent. But first and foremost for what consarns your honour first.”

“First,” said Ormond, “if you were transported, how came you here?”

“Because I was not transported, plase your honour — only sentenced — for I escaped from Kilmainham, where I was sent to be put on board the tender; but I got on board of an American ship, by the help of a friend — and this ship being knocked against the rocks, I came safe ashore in this country on one of the sticks of the vessel: so when I knowed it was France I was in, and recollected Miss Dora that was married in Paris, I thought if I could just make my way any hows to Paris, she’d befriend me in case of need.

“But, dear master,” said Moriarty, interrupting, “it’s a folly to talk — I’ll not tell you a word more of myself till you hear the news I have for you. The worst news I have to tell you is, there is great fear of the breaking of Sir Ulick’s bank!”

“The breaking of Sir Ulick’s bank? I heard from him the day before yesterday.”

“May be you did; but the captain of the American ship in which I came was complaining of his having been kept two hours at that bank, where they were paying large sums in small notes, and where there was the greatest run upon the house that ever was seen.”

Ormond instantly saw his danger — he recollected the power of attorney he had signed two days before. But Patrickson was to go by Havre de Grace — that would delay him. It was possible that Ormond by setting out instantly might get to London time enough to save his property. He went directly and ordered post horses. He had no debts in Paris, nothing to pay, but for his stables and lodging. He had a faithful servant, whom he could leave behind, to make all necessary arrangements.

“You are right, jewel, to be in a hurry,” said Carroll. “But sure you won’t leave poor Moriarty behind ye here in distress, when he has no friend in the wide world but yourself?”

“Tell me, in the first place, Moriarty, are you innocent?”

“Upon my conscience, master, I am perfectly innocent as the child unborn, both of the murder and the robbery. If your honour will give me leave, I’ll tell you the whole story.”

“That will be a long affair, Moriarty, if you talk out of the face, as you used to do. I will, however, find an opportunity to hear it all. But, in the meantime, stay where you are till I return.”

Ormond went instantly to Connal’s, to inform him of what had happened. His astonishment was obviously mixed with disappointment. But to do him justice, besides the interest which he really had in the preservation of the fortune, he felt some personal regard for Ormond himself.

“What shall we do without you?” said he. “I assure you, Madame and I have never been so happy together since the first month after our marriage as we have been since you came to Paris.”

Connal was somewhat consoled by hearing Ormond say, that if he were time enough in London to save his fortune, he proposed returning immediately to Paris, intending to make the tour of Switzerland and Italy.

Connal had no doubt that they should yet be able to fix him at Paris.

Madame de Connal and Mademoiselle were out — Connal did not know where they were gone. Ormond was glad to tear himself away with as few adieus as possible. He got into his travelling carriage, put his servant on the box, and took Moriarty with him in the carriage, that he might relate his history at leisure.

“Plase your honour,” said Moriarty, “Mr. Marcus never missed any opportunity of showing me ill-will. The supercargo of the ship that was cast away, when you were with Sir Herbert Annaly, God rest his soul! came down to the sea-side to look for some of the things that he had lost: the day after he came, early in the morning, his horse, and bridle, and saddle, and a surtout coat, was found in a lane, near the place where we lived, and the supercargo was never heard any more of. Suspicion fell upon many — the country rung with the noise that was made about this murder — and at last I was taken up for it, because people had seen me buy cattle at the fair, and the people would not believe it was with money your honour sent me by the good parson — for the parson was gone out of the country, and I had nobody to stand my friend; for Mr. Marcus was on the grand jury, and the sheriff was his friend, and Sir Ulick was in Dublin, at the bank. Howsomdever, after a long trial, which lasted the whole day, a ‘cute lawyer on my side found out that there was no proof that any body had been murdered, and that a man might lose his horse, his saddle, and his bridle, and his big coat, without being kilt: so that the judge ordered the jury to let me off for the murder. They then tried me for the robbery; and sure enough that went again me: for a pair of silver-mounted pistols, with the man’s name engraved upon them, was found in my house. They knew the man’s name by the letters in the big coat. The judge asked me what I had to say for myself: ‘My lard,’ says I, ‘those pistols were brought into my house about a fortnight ago, by a little boy, one little Tommy Dunshaughlin, who found them in a punk-horn, at the edge of a bog-hole.’

“The jidge favoured me more than the jury — for he asked how old the boy was, and whether I could produce him? The little fellow was brought into court, and it was surprising how clear he told his story. The jidge listened to the child, young as he was. But M’Crule was on the jury, and said that he knew the child to be as cunning as any in Ireland, and that he would not believe a word that came out of his mouth. So the short and the long of it was, I was condemned to be transported.

“It would have done you good, if you’d heard the cry in the court when sentence was given, for I was loved in the country. Poor Peggy and Sheelah! — But I’ll not be troubling your honour’s tender heart with our parting. I was transmuted to Dublin, to be put on board the tender, and lodged in Kilmainham, waiting for the ship that was to go to Botany. I had not been long there, when another prisoner was brought to the same room with me. He was a handsome-looking man, about thirty years of age, of the most penetrating eye and determined countenance that I ever saw. He appeared to be worn down with ill-health, and his limbs much swelled: notwithstanding which, he had strong handcuffs on his wrists, and he seemed to be guarded with uncommon care. He begged the turnkey to lay him down upon the miserable iron bed that was in the cell; and he begged him, for God’s sake, to let him have a jug of water by his bedside, and to leave him to his fate.

“I could not help pitying this poor cratur; I went to him, and offered him any assistance in my power. He answered me shortly, ‘What are you here for?’— I told him. ‘Well,’ says he, ‘whether you are guilty or not, is your affair, not mine; but answer me at once — are you a good man? — Can you go through with a thing? — and are you steel to the back-bone?’—‘I am,’ said I. ‘Then,’ said he, ‘you are a lucky man — for he that is talking to you is Michael Dunne, who knows how to make his way out of any jail in Ireland.’ Saying this, he sprung with great activity from the bed. ‘It is my cue,’ said he, ‘to be sick and weak, whenever the turnkey comes in, to put him off his guard — for they have all orders to watch me strictly; because as how, do you see, I broke out of the jail of Trim; and when they catched me, they took me before his honour the police magistrate, who did all he could to get out of me the way which I made my escape.’ ‘Well,’ says the magistrate, ‘I’ll put you in a place where you can’t get out — till you’re sent to ‘Botany.’ ‘Plase your worship,’ says I, ‘if there’s no offence in saying it, there’s no such place in Ireland.’—‘No such place as what?’ ‘No such place as will hold Michael Dunne.’—‘What do you think of Kilmainbam?’ says he. ‘I think it’s a fine jail — and it will be no asy matter to get out of it — but it is not impossible.’—‘Well, Mr. Dunne,’ said the magistrate, ‘I have heard of your fame, and that you have secrets of your own for getting out. Now, if you’ll tell me how you got out of the jail of Trim, I’ll make your confinement at Kilmainham as asy as may be, so as to keep you safe; and if you do not, you must be ironed, and I will have sentinels from an English regiment, who shall be continually changed: so that you can’t get any of them to help you.’—‘Plase your worship,’ said Dunne, ‘that’s very hard usage; but I know as how that you are going to build new jails all over Ireland, and that you’d be glad to know the best way to make them secure. If your worship will promise me that if I get out of Kilmainham, and if I tell you how I do it, then you’ll get me a free pardon, I’ll try hard but what before three months are over I’ll be a prisoner at large.’—‘That’s more than I can promise you,’ said the magistrate; ‘but if you will disclose to me the best means of keeping other people in, I will endeavour to keep you from Botany Bay.’—‘Now, sir,’ says Dunne, ‘I know your worship to be a man of honour, and that your own honour regards yourself, and not me; so that if I was ten times as bad as I am, you’d keep your promise with me, as well as if I was the best gentleman in Ireland. So that now, Mr. Moriarty,’ said Dunne, ‘do you see, if I get out, I shall be safe; and if you get out along with me, you have nothing to do but to go over to America. And if you are a married man, and tired of your wife, you’ll get rid of her. If you are not tired of her, and you have any substance, she may sell it and follow you.’

“There was something, Master Harry, about the man that made me have great confidence in him — and I was ready to follow his advice. Whenever the turnkey was coming he was groaning and moaning on the bed. At other times he made me keep bathing his wrists with cold water, so that in three or four days they were not half the size they were at first. This change he kept carefully from the jailor. I observed that he frequently asked what day of the month it was, but that he never made any attempt to speak to the sentinels; nor did he seem to make any preparation, or to lay any scheme for getting out. I held my tongue, and waited qui’tely. At last, he took out of his pocket a little flageolet, and began to play upon it. He asked me if I could play: I said I could a little, but very badly. ‘I don’t care how bad it is, if you can play at all.’ He got off the bed where he was lying, and with the utmost ease pulled his hands out of his handcuffs. Besides the swelling of his wrists having gone down, he had some method of getting rid of his thumb that I never could understand. Says I, ‘Mr. Dunne, the jailor will miss the fetters,’—‘No,’ said he, ‘for I will put them on again;’ and so he did, with great ease. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘it is time to begin our work.’

“He took off one of his shoes, and taking out the in-sole, he showed me a hole, that was cut where the heel was, in which there was a little small flat bottle, which he told me was the most precious thing in life. And under the rest of the sole there were a number of saws, made of watch spring, that lay quite flat and snug under his foot. The next time the turnkey came in, he begged, for the love of God, to have a pipe and some tobacco, which was accordingly granted to him. What the pipes and tobacco were for, I could not then guess, but they were found to be useful. He now made a paste of some of the bread of his allowance, with which he made a cup round the bottom of one of the bars of the window; into this cup he poured some of the contents of the little bottle, which was, I believe, oil of vitriol: in a little time, this made a bad smell, and it was then I found the use of the pipe and tobacco, for the smell of the tobacco quite bothered the smell of the vitriol. When he thought he had softened the iron bar sufficiently, he began to work away with the saws, and he soon taught me how to use them; so that we kept working on continually, no matter how little we did at a time; but as we were constantly at it, what I thought never could be done was finished in three or four days. The use of the flageolet was to drown the noise of the filing; for when one filed, the other piped.

“When the bar was cut through, he fitted the parts nicely together, and covered them over with rust. He proceeded in the same manner to cut out another bar; so that we had a free opening out of the window. Our cell was at the very top of the jail, so that even to look down to the ground was terrible.

“Under various pretences, we had got an unusual quantity of blankets on our beds; these he examined with the utmost care, as upon their strength our lives were to depend. We calculated with great coolness the breadth of the strips into which he might cut the blankets, so as to reach from the window to the ground; allowing for the knots by which they were to be joined, and for other knots that were to hinder the hands and feet from slipping.

“‘Now,’ said he, ‘Mr. Moriarty, all this is quite asy, and requires nothing but a determined heart and a sound head: but the difficulty is to baffle the sentinel that is below, and who is walking backward and forward continually, day and night, under the window; and there is another, you see, in a sentry-box, at the door of the yard: and, for all I know, there may be another sentinel at the other side of the wall. Now these men are never twice on the same duty: I have friends enough out of doors, who have money enough, and would have talked reason to them; but as these sentinels are changed every day, no good can be got of them: but stay till to-morrow night, and we’ll try what we can do.’

“I was determined to follow him. The next night, the moment that we were locked in for the night, we set to work to cut the blankets into slips, and tied them together with great care. We put this rope round one of the fixed bars of the window; and, pulling at each knot, we satisfied ourselves that every part was sufficiently strong. Dunne looked frequently out of the window with the utmost anxiety — it was a moonlight night.

“‘The moon,’ said he, ‘will be down in an hour and a half.’

“In a little while we heard the noise of several girls singing at a distance from the windows, and we could see, as they approached, that they were dancing, and making free with the sentinels: I saw that they were provided with bottles of spirits, with which they pledged the deluded soldiers. By degrees the sentinels forgot their duty; and, by the assistance of some laudanum contained in some of the spirits, they were left senseless on the ground. The whole of this plan, and the very night and hour, had been arranged by Dunne with his associates, before he was put into Kilmainham. The success of this scheme, which was totally unexpected by me, gave me, I suppose, plase your honour, fresh courage. He, very honourably, gave me the choice to go down first or to follow him. I was ashamed not to go first: after I had got out of the window, and had fairly hold of the rope, my fear diminished, and I went cautiously down to the bottom. Here I waited for Dunne, and we both of us silently stole along in the dark, for the moon had gone in, and we did not meet with the least obstruction. Our out of door’s assistants had the prudence to get entirely out of sight. Dunne led me to a hiding-place in a safe part of the town, and committed me to the care of a seafaring man, who promised to get me on board an American ship.

“‘As for my part,’ said Dunne, ‘I will go in the morning, boldly, to the magistrate, and claim his promise.’

“He did so — and the magistrate with good sense, and good faith, kept his promise, and obtained a pardon for Dunne.

“I wrote to Peggy, to get aboard an American ship. I was cast away on the coast of France — made my way to the first religious house that I could hear of, where I luckily found an Irishman, who saved me from starvation, and who sent me on from convent to convent, till I got to Paris, where your honour met me on that bridge, just when I was looking for Miss Dora’s house. And that’s all I’ve got to tell,” concluded Moriarty, “and all true.”

No adventures of any sort happened to our hero in the course of his journey. The wind was fair for England when he reached Calais: he had a good passage; and with all the expedition that good horses, good roads, good money, and civil words, ensure in England, he pursued his way; and arrived in the shortest time possible in London.

He reached town in the morning, before the usual hour when the banks are open. Leaving orders with his servant, on whose punctuality he could depend, to awaken him at the proper hour, he lay down, overcome with fatigue, and slept — yes — slept soundly.

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Last updated Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 14:02