The Kellys and the O'Kellys, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XVIII

An Attorney’s Office in Connaught

‘Anty, here’s a letter for ye,’ began the widow. ‘Terry’s brought it down from the house, and says it’s from Misther Barry. I b’lieve he was in the right not to bring it hisself.’

‘A letther for me, Mrs Kelly? what can he be writing about? I don’t just know whether I ought to open it or no;’ and Anty trembled, as she turned the epistle over and over again in her hands.

‘What for would you not open it? The letther can’t hurt you, girl, whatever the writher might do.’

Thus encouraged, Anty broke the seal, and made herself acquainted with the contents of the letter which Daly had dictated; but she then found, that her difficulties had only just commenced. Was she to send an answer, and if so, what answer? And if she sent none, what notice ought she to take of it? The matter was one evidently too weighty to be settled by her own judgment, so she handed the letter to be read, first by the widow, and then by Martin, and lastly by the two girls, who, by this time, were both in the room.

‘Well, the dethermined impudence of that blackguard!’ exclaimed Mrs Kelly. ‘Conspiracy! av’ that don’t bang Banagher! What does the man mean by “conspiracy,” eh, Martin?’

‘Faith, you must ask himself that, mother; and then it’s ten to one he can’t tell you.’

‘I suppose,’ said Meg, ‘he wants to say that we’re all schaming to rob Anty of her money only he daren’t, for the life of him, spake it out straight forrard.’

‘Or, maybe,’ suggested Jane, ‘he wants to bring something agen us like this affair of O’Connell’s only he’ll find, down here, that he an’t got Dublin soft goods to deal wid.’

Then followed a consultation, as to the proper steps to be taken in the matter.

The widow advised that father Geoghegan should be sent for to indite such a reply as a Christian ill-used woman should send to so base a letter. Meg, who was very hot on the subject, and who had read-of some such proceeding in a novel, was for putting up in a blank envelope the letter itself, and returning it to Barry by the hands of Jack, the ostler; at the same time, she declared that ‘No surrender’ should be her motto. Jane was of opinion that ‘Miss Anastasia Lynch’s compliments to Mr Barry Lynch, and she didn’t find herself strong enough to move to Dunmore House at present,’ would answer all purposes, and be, on the whole, the safest course. While Martin pronounced that ‘if Anty would be led by him, she’d just pitch the letter behind the fire an’ take no notice of it, good, bad, or indifferent.’

None of these plans pleased Anty, for, as she remarked, ‘After all, Barry was her brother, and blood was thickher than wather.’ So, after much consultation, pen, ink, and paper were procured, and the following letter was concocted between them, all the soft bits having been great stumbling-blocks, in which, however, Anty’s quiet perseverance carried the point, in opposition to the wishes of all the Kellys. The words put in brackets were those peculiarly objected to.

Dunmore Inn. February, l844.

DEAR BARRY,

I (am very sorry I) can’t come back to the house, at any rate just at present. I am not very sthrong in health, and there are kind female friends about me here, which you know there couldn’t be up at the house.’ Anty herself, in the original draft inserted ‘ladies,’ but the widow’s good sense repudiated the term, and insisted on the word ‘females’: Jane suggested that ‘females’ did not sound quite respectful. alone, and Martin thought that Anty might call them ‘female friends,’ which was consequently done. ‘Besides, there are reasons why I’m quieter here, till things are a little more settled. I will forgive (and forget) all that happened up at the house between us’ ‘Why, you can’t forget it,’ said Meg. ‘Oh, I could, av’ he was kind to me. I’d forget it all in a week av’ he was kind to me,’ answered Anty ‘(and I will do nothing particular without first letting you know).’ They were all loud against this paragraph, but they could not carry their point. ‘I must tell you, dear Barry, that you are very much mistaken about the people of this house: they are dear, kind friends to me, and, wherever I am, I must love them to the last day of my life but indeed I am, and hope you believe so,

Your affectionate sister,

ANASTASIA LYNCH.

When the last paragraph was read over Anty’s shoulder, Meg declared she was a dear, dear creature: Jane gave her a big kiss, and began crying; even the widow put the corner of her apron to her eye, and Martin, trying to look manly and unconcerned, declared that he was ‘quite shure they all loved her, and they’d be brutes and bastes av’ they didn’t!’

The letter, as given above, was finally decided on; written, sealed, and despatched by Jack, who was desired to be very particular to deliver it at the front door, with Miss Lynch’s love, which was accordingly done. All the care, however, which had been bestowed on it did not make it palatable to Barry, who was alone when he received it, and merely muttered, as he read it, ‘Confound her, low-minded slut! friends, indeed! what business has she with friends, except such as I please? if I’d the choosing of her friends, they’d be a strait waistcoat, and the madhouse doctor. Good Heaven! that half my property no, but two-thirds of it should belong to her I the stupid, stiff-necked robber!’

These last pleasant epithets had reference to his respected progenitor.

On the same evening, after tea, Martin endeavoured to make a little further advance with Anty, for he felt that he had been interrupted just as she was coming round; but her nerves were again disordered, and he soon found that if he pressed her now, he should only get a decided negative, which he might find it very difficult to induce her to revoke.

Anty’s letter was sent off early on the Monday morning at least, as early as Barry now ever managed to do anything to the attorney at Tuam, with strong injunctions that no time was to be lost in taking further steps, and with a request that Daly would again come out to Dunmore. This, however, he did not at present think it expedient to do. So he wrote to Barry, begging him to come into Tuam on the Wednesday, to meet Moylan, whom he, Daly, would, if possible, contrive to see on the intervening day.

‘Obstinate puppy!’ said Barry to himself ‘if he’d had the least pluck in life he’d have broken the will, or at least made the girl out a lunatic. But a Connaught lawyer hasn’t half the wit or courage now that he used to have.’ However, he wrote a note to Daly, agreeing to his proposal, and promising to be in Tuam at two o’clock on the Wednesday.

On the following day Daly saw Moylan, and had a long conversation with him. The old man held out for a long time, expressing much indignation at being supposed capable of joining in any underhand agreement for transferring Miss Lynch’s property to his relatives the Kellys, and declaring that he would make public to every one in Dunmore and Tuam the base manner in which Barry Lynch was treating his sister. Indeed, Moylan kept to his story so long and so firmly that the young attorney was nearly giving him up; but at last he found his weak side.

‘Well, Mr Moylan,’ he said, ‘then I can only say your own conduct is very disinterested and I might even go so far as to say that you appear to me foolishly indifferent to your own concerns. Here’s the agency of the whole property going a-begging: the rents, I believe, are about a thousand a-year: you might be recaving them all by jist a word of your mouth, and that only telling the blessed truth; and here, you’re going to put the whole thing into the hands of young Kelly; throwing up even the half of the business you have got!’

‘Who says I’m afther doing any sich thing, Mr Daly?’

‘Why, Martin Kelly says so. Didn’t as many as four or five persons hear him say, down at Dunmore, that divil a one of the tenants’d iver pay a haporth of the November rents to anyone only jist to himself? There was father Geoghegan heard him, an Doctor Ned Blake.’

‘Maybe he’ll find his mistake, Mr Daly.’

‘Maybe he will, Mr Moylan. Maybe we’ll put the whole affair into the courts, and have a regular recaver over the property, under the Chancellor. People, though they’re ever so respectable in their way and I don’t mane to say a word against the Kellys, Mr Moylan, for they were always friends of mine but people can’t be allowed to make a dead set at a property like this, and have it all their own way, like the bull in the china-shop. I know there has been an agreement made, and that, in the eye of the law, is a conspiracy. I positively know that an agreement has been made to induce Miss Lynch to become Martin Kelly’s wife; and I know the parties to it, too; and I also know that an active young fellow like him wouldn’t be paying an agent to get in his rents; and I thought, if Mr Lynch was willing to appoint you his agent, as well as his sister’s, it might be worth your while to lend us a hand to settle this affair, without forcing us to stick people into a witness-box whom neither I nor Mr Lynch ’

‘But what the devil can I ’

‘Jist hear me out, Mr Moylan; you see, if they once knew the Kellys I mane that you wouldn’t lend a hand to this piece of iniquity ’

‘Which piece of iniquity, Mr Daly? for I’m entirely bothered.’

‘Ah, now, Mr Moylan, none of your fun: this piece of iniquity of theirs, I say; for I can call it no less. If they once knew that you wouldn’t help ’em, they’d be obliged to drop it all; the matter’d never have to go into court at all, and you’d jist step into the agency fair and aisy; and, into the bargain, you’d do nothing but an honest man’s work.’

The old man broke down, and consented to ‘go agin the Kellys,’ as he somewhat ambiguously styled his apostasy, provided the agency was absolutely promised to him; and he went away with the understanding that he was to come on the following day and meet Mr Lynch.

At two o’clock, punctual to the time of his appointment, Moylan was there, and was kept waiting an hour in Daly’s little parlour. At the end of this time Barry came in, having invigorated his courage and spirits with a couple of glasses of brandy. Daly had been for some time on the look-out for him, for he wished to say a few words to him in private, and give him his cue before lie took him into the room where Moylan was sitting. This could not well be done in the office, for it was crowded. It would, I think, astonish a London attorney in respectable practice, to see the manner in which his brethren towards the west of Ireland get through their work. Daly’s office was open to all the world; the front door of the house, of which he rented the ground floor, was never closed, except at night; nor was the door of the office, which opened immediately into the hail.

During the hour that Moylan was waiting in the parlour, Daly was sitting, with his hat on, upon a high stool, with his feet resting on a small counter which ran across the room, smoking a pipe: a boy, about seventeen years of age, Daly’s clerk, was filling up numbers of those abominable formulas of legal persecution in which attorneys deal, and was plying his trade as steadily as though no February blasts were blowing in on him through the open door, no sounds of loud and boisterous conversation were rattling in his ears. The dashing manager of one of the branch banks in the town was sitting close to the little stove, and raking out the turf ashes with the office rule, while describing a drinking-bout that had taken place on the previous Sunday at Blake’s of Blakemount; he had a cigar in his mouth, and was searching for a piece of well-kindled turf, wherewith to light it. A little fat oily shopkeeper in the town, who called himself a woollen merchant, was standing with the raised leaf of the counter in his hand, roaring with laughter at the manager’s story. Two frieze coated farmers, outside the counter, were stretching across it, and whispering very audibly to Daly some details of litigation which did not appear very much to interest him; and a couple of idle blackguards were leaning against the wall, ready to obey any behest of the attorney’s which might enable them to earn a sixpence without labour, and listening with all their, ears to the different interesting topics of conversation which might be broached in the inner office.

‘Here’s the very man I’m waiting for, at last,’ said Daly, when, from his position on the stool, he saw, through the two open doors, the bloated red face of Barry Lynch approaching; and, giving an impulse to his body by a shove against the wall behind him, he raised himself on to the counter, and, assisting himself by a pull at the collar of the frieze coat of the farmer who was in the middle of his story, jumped to the ground, and met his client at the front door.

‘I beg your pardon, Mr Lynch,’ said he as soon as he had shaken hands with him, ‘but will you just step up to my room a minute, for I want to spake to you;’ and he took him up into his bed-room, for he hadn’t a second sitting-room. ‘You’ll excuse my bringing you up here, for the office was full, you see, and Moylan’s in the parlour.’

‘The d l he is! He came round then, did he, eh, Daly?’

‘Oh, I’ve had a terrible hard game to play with him. I’d no idea he’d be so tough a customer, or make such a good fight; but I think I’ve managed him.’

‘There was a regular plan then, eh, Daly? Just as I said. It was a regular planned scheme among them?’

‘Wait a moment, and you’ll know all about it, at least as much as I know myself; and, to tell the truth, that’s devilish little. But, if we manage to break off the match, and get your sister clane out of the inn there, you must give Moylan your agency, at any rate for two or three years.’

‘You haven’t promised that?’

‘But I have, though. We can do nothing without it: it was only when I hinted that, that the old sinner came round.’

‘But what the deuce is it he’s to do for us, after all?’

‘He’s to allow us to put him forward as a bugbear, to frighten the Kellys with: that’s all, and, if we can manage that, that’s enough. But come down now. I only wanted to warn you that, if you think the agency is too high a price to pay for the man’s services, whatever they may be, you must make up your mind to dispense with them.’

‘Well,’ answered Barry, as he followed the attorney downstairs, ‘I can’t understand what you’re about; but I suppose you must be right;’ and they went into the little parlour where Moylan was sitting.

Moylan and Barry Lynch had only met once, since the former had been entrusted to receive Anty’s rents, on which occasion Moylan had been grossly insulted by her brother. Barry, remembering the meeting, felt very awkward at the idea of entering into amicable conversation with him, and crept in at the door like a whipped dog. Moylan was too old to feel any such compunctions, and consequently made what he intended to be taken as a very complaisant bow to his future patron. He was an ill-made, ugly, stumpy man, about fifty; with a blotched face, straggling sandy hair, and grey shaggy whiskers. He wore a long brown great coat, buttoned up to his chin, and this was the only article of wearing apparel visible upon him: in his hands he twirled a shining new four-and-fourpenny hat.

As soon as their mutual salutations were over, Daly commenced his business.

‘There is no doubt in the world, Mr Lynch,’ said he, addressing Barry, ‘that a most unfair attempt has been made by this family to get possession of your sister’s property a most shameful attempt, which the law will no doubt recognise as a misdemeanour. But I think we shall be able to stop their game without any law at all, which will save us the annoyance of putting Mr Moylan here, and other respectable witnesses, on the table. Mr Moylan says that very soon afther your father’s will was made known ’

‘Now, Mr Daly shure I niver said a word in life at all about the will,’ said Moylan, interrupting him.

‘No, you did not: I mane, very soon afther you got the agency ’

‘Divil a word I said about the agency, either.’

‘Well, well; some time ago he says that, some time ago, he and Martin Kelly were talking over your sister’s affairs; I believe the widow was there, too.’

‘Ah, now, Mr Daly why’d you be putting them words into my mouth? sorrow a word of the kind I iver utthered at all.’

‘What the deuce was it you did say, then?’

‘Faix, I don’t know that I said much, at all.’

‘Didn’t you say, Mr Moylan, that Martin Kelly was talking to you about marrying Anty, some six weeks ago?’

‘Maybe I did; he was spaking about it.’

‘And, if you were in the chair now, before a jury, wouldn’t you swear that there was a schame among them to get Anty Lynch married to Martin Kelly? Come, Mr Moylan, that’s all we want to know: if you can’t say as much as that for us now, just that we may let the Kellys know what sort of evidence we could bring against them, if they push us, we must only have you and others summoned, and see what you’ll have to say then.’

‘Oh, I’d say the truth, Mr Daly divil a less and I’d do as much as that now; but I thought Mr Lynch was wanting to say something about the property?’

‘Not a word then I’ve to say about it,’ said Barry, ‘except that I won’t let that robber, young Kelly, walk off with it, as long as there’s law in the land.’

‘Mr Moylan probably meant about the agency,’ observed Daly.

Barry looked considerably puzzled, and turned to the attorney for assistance. ‘He manes,’ continued Daly, ‘that he and the Kellys are good friends, and it wouldn’t be any convenience to him just to say anything that wouldn’t be pleasing to them, unless we could make him independent of them: isn’t that about the long and the short of it, Mr Moylan?’

‘Indepindent of the Kellys, is it, Mr Daly? Faix, thin, I’m teetotally indepindent of them this minute, and mane to continue so, glory be to God. Oh, I’m not afeard to tell the thruth agin ere a Kelly in Galway or Roscommon and, av’ that was all, I don’t see why I need have come here this day. When I’m called upon in the rigular way, and has a rigular question put me before the Jury, either at Sessions or ‘Sizes, you’ll find I’ll not be bothered for an answer, and, av’ that’s all, I b’lieve I may be going,’ and he made a movement towards the door.

‘Just as you please, Mr Moylan,’ said Daly; ‘and you may be sure that you’ll not be long without an opportunity of showing how free you are with your answers. But, as a friend, I tell you you’ll be wrong to lave this room till you’ve had a little more talk with Mr Lynch and myself. I believe I mentioned to you Mr Lynch was looking out for someone to act as agent over his portion of the Dunmore property?’

Barry looked as black as thunder, but he said nothing.

‘You war, Mr Daly. Av’ I could accommodate Mr Lynch, I’m shure I’d be happy to undhertake the business.’

‘I believe, Mr Lynch,’ said Daly, turning to the other, ‘I may go so far as to promise Mr Moylan the agency of the whole property, provided Miss Lynch is induced to quit the house of the Kellys? Of course, Mr Moylan, you can see that as long as Miss Lynch is in a position of unfortunate hostility to her brother, the same agent could not act for both; but I think my client is inclined to put his property under your management, providing his sister returns to her own home. I believe I’m stating your wishes, Mr Lynch.’

‘Manage it your own way,’ said Barry, ‘for I don’t see what you’re doing. If this man can do anything for me, why, I suppose I must pay him for it; and if so, your plan’s as good a way of paying him as another.’

The attorney raised his hat with his hand, and scratched his head: he was afraid that Moylan would have again gone off in a pet at Lynch’s brutality, but the old man sat quite quiet. He wouldn’t have much minded what was said to him, as long as he secured the agency.

‘You see, Mr Moylan,’ continued Daly, ‘you can have the agency. Five per cent. upon the rents is what my client ’

‘No, Daly Five per cent! I’m shot if I do!’ exclaimed Barry.

‘I’m gething twenty-five pounds per annum from Miss Anty, for her half, and I wouldn’t think of collecting the other for less,’ declared Moylan.

And then a long battle followed on this point, which it required all Daly’s tact and perseverance to adjust. The old man was pertinacious, and many whispers had to be made into Barry’s ear before the matter could be settled. It was, however, at last agreed that notice was to be served on the Kellys, of Barry Lynch’s determination to indict them for a conspiracy; that Daly was to see the widow, Martin, and, if possible, Anty, and tell them all that Moylan was prepared to prove that such a conspiracy had been formed care was also to be taken that copies of the notices so served should be placed in Anty’s hands. Moylan, in the meantime, agreed to keep out of the way, and undertook, should he be unfortunate enough to encounter any of the family of the Kellys, to brave the matter out by declaring that ‘av’ he war brought before the Judge and Jury he couldn’t do more than tell the blessed thruth, and why not?’ In reward for this, he was to be appointed agent over the entire property the moment that Miss Lynch left the inn, at which time he was to receive a document, signed by Barry, undertaking to retain him in the agency for four years certain, or else to pay him a hundred pounds when it was taken from him.

These terms having been mutually agreed to, and Barry having, with many oaths, declared that he was a most shamefully ill-used man, the three separated. Moylan skulked off to one of his haunts in the town; Barry went to the bank, to endeavour to get a bill discounted; and Daly returned to his office, to prepare the notices for the unfortunate widow and her son.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43