The Kellys and the O'Kellys, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XXXIV

The Doctor Makes a Clean Breast of it

We will now return for a while to Dunmore, and settle the affairs of the Kellys and Lynches, which we left in rather a precarious state.

Barry’s attempt on Doctor Colligan’s virtue was very unsuccessful, for Anty continued to mend under the treatment of that uncouth but safe son of Galen. As Colligan told her brother, the fever had left her, though for some time it was doubtful whether she had strength to recover from its effects. This, however, she did gradually; and, about a fortnight after the dinner at Dunmore House, the doctor told Mrs Kelly and Martin that his patient was out of danger.

Martin had for some time made up his mind that Anty was to live for many years in the character of Mrs Martin, and could not therefore be said to be much affected by the communication. But if he was not, his mother was. She had made up her mind that Anty was to die; that she was to pay for the doctor the wake, and the funeral, and that she would have a hardship and grievance to boast of, and a subject of self-commendation to enlarge on, which would have lasted her till her death; and she consequently felt something like disappointment at being ordered to administer to Anty a mutton chop and a glass of sherry every day at one o’clock. Not that the widow was less assiduous, or less attentive to Anty’s wants now that she was convalescent; but she certainly had not so much personal satisfaction, as when she was able to speak despondingly of her patient to all her gossips.

‘Poor cratur!’ she used to say ‘it’s all up with her now; the Lord be praised for all his mercies. She’s all as one as gone, glory be to God and the Blessed Virgin. Shure no good ever come of ill-got money not that she was iver to blame. Thank the Lord, av’ I have a penny saved at all, it was honestly come by; not that I shall have when this is done and paid for, not a stifle; (stiver Mrs Kelly probably meant) but what’s that!’ and she snapped her fingers to show that the world’s gear was all dross in her estimation. ‘She shall be dacently sthretched, though she is a Lynch, and a Kelly has to pay for it. Whisper, neighbour; in two years’ time there’ll not be one penny left on another of all the dirty money Sim Lynch scraped together out of the gutthers.’

There was a degree of triumph in these lamentations, a tone of self-satisfied assurance in the truth of her melancholy predictions, which showed that the widow was not ill at ease with herself. When Anty was declared out of danger, her joy was expressed with much more moderation.

‘Yes, thin,’ she said to Father Pat Geoghegan, ‘poor thing, she’s rallying a bit. The docthor says maybe she’ll not go this time; but he’s much in dread of a re-claps ’

‘Relapse, Mrs Kelly, I suppose?’

‘Well, relapse, av’ you will, Father Pat relapse or reclaps, it’s pretty much the same I’m thinking; for she’d niver get through another bout. God send we may be well out of the hobble this day twelvemonth. Martin’s my own son, and ain’t above industhrying, as his father and mother did afore him, and I won’t say a word agin him; but he’s brought more throuble on me with them Lynches than iver I knew before. What has a lone woman like me, Father Pat, to do wid sthrangers like them? jist to turn their backs on me when I ain’t no furder use, and to be gitting the hights of insolence and abuse, as I did from that blagguard Barry. He’d betther keep his toe in his pump and go asy, or he’ll wake to a sore morning yet, some day.’

Doctor Colligan, also, was in trouble from his connection with the Lynches: not that he had any dissatisfaction at the recovery of his patient, for he rejoiced at it, both on her account and his own. He had strongly that feeling of self-applause, which must always be enjoyed by a doctor who brings a patient safely through a dangerous illness. But Barry’s iniquitous proposal to him weighed heavy on his conscience. It was now a week since it had been made, and he had spoken of it to no one. He had thought much and frequently of what he ought to do; whether he should publicly charge Lynch with the fact; whether he should tell it confidentially to some friend whom he could trust; or whether by far the easiest alternative, he should keep it in his own bosom, and avoid the man in future as he would an incarnation of the devil. It preyed much upon his spirits, for lie lived in fear of Barry Lynch in fear lest he should determine to have the first word, and, in his own defence, accuse him (Colligan) of the very iniquity which he had himself committed. Nothing, the doctor felt, would be too bad or too false for Barry Lynch; nothing could be more damnable than the proposal he had made; and yet it would be impossible to convict him, impossible to punish him. He would, of course, deny the truth of the accusation, and probably return the charge on his accuser. And yet Colligan felt that he would be compromising the matter, if he did not mention it to some one; and that he would outrage his own feelings if he did not express his horror at the murder which he had been asked to commit.

For one week these feelings quite destroyed poor Colligan’s peace of mind; during the second, he determined to make a clean breast of it; and, on the first day of the third week, after turning in his mind twenty different people Martin Kelly young Daly the widow the parish priest the parish parson the nearest stipendiary magistrate and a brother doctor in Tuam, he at last determined on going to Lord Ballindine, as being both a magistrate and a friend of the Kellys. Doctor Colligan himself was not at all acquainted with Lord Ballindine: he attended none of the family, who extensively patronised his rival, and he had never been inside Kelly’s Court house. He felt, therefore, considerable embarrassment at his mission; but he made up his mind to go, and, manfully setting himself in his antique rickety gig, started early enough, to catch Lord Ballindine, as he thought, before he left the house after breakfast.

Lord Ballindine had spent the last week or ten days restlessly enough. Armstrong, his clerical ambassador, had not yet started on his mission to Grey Abbey, and innumerable difficulties seemed to arise to prevent his doing so. First of all, the black cloth was to be purchased, and a tailor, sufficiently adept for making up the new suit, was to be caught. This was a work of some time; for though there is in the West of Ireland a very general complaint of the stagnation of trade, trade itself is never so stagnant as are the tradesmen, when work, is to be done; and it is useless for a poor wight to think of getting his coat or his boots, till such time as absolute want shall have driven the artisan to look for the price of his job unless some private and underhand influence be used, as was done in the case of Jerry Blake’s new leather breeches.

This cause of delay was, however, not mentioned to Lord Ballindine; but when it was well got over, and a neighbouring parson procured to preach on the next Sunday to Mrs O’Kelly and the three policemen who attended Ballindine Church, Mrs Armstrong broke her thumb with the rolling-pin while making a beef pudding for the family dinner, and her husband’s departure was again retarded. And then, on the next Sunday, the neighbouring parson could not leave his own policemen, and the two spinsters, who usually formed his audience.

All this tormented Lord Ballindine. and he was really thinking of giving up the idea of sending Mr Armstrong altogether, when he received the following letter from his friend Dot Blake.

Limmer’s Hotel. April, 1847.

Dear Frank,

One cries out, ‘what are you at?’ the other, ‘what are you after?’ Every one is saying what a fool you are! Kilcullen is at Grey Abbey, with the evident intention of superseding you in possession of Miss W, and, what is much more to his taste, as it would be to mine, of her fortune. Mr T. has written to me from Grey Abbey, where he has been staying: he is a good-hearted fellow, and remembers how warmly you contradicted the report that your match was broken off. For heaven’s sake, follow up your warmth of denial with some show of positive action, a little less cool than your present quiescence, or you cannot expect that any amount of love should be strong enough to prevent your affianced from resenting your conduct. I am doubly anxious; quite as anxious that Kilcullen, whom I detest, should not get young Wyndham’s money, as I am that you should. He is utterly, utterly smashed. If he got double the amount of Fanny Wyndham’s cash, it could not keep him above water for more than a year or so; and then she must go down with him. I am sure the old fool, his father, does not half know the amount of his son’s liabilities, or he could not be heartless enough to consent to sacrifice the poor girl as she will be sacrificed, if Kilcullen gets her. I am not usually very anxious about other people’s concerns; but I do feel anxious about this matter. I want to have a respectable house in the country, in which I can show my face when I grow a little older, and be allowed to sip my glass of claret, and talk about my horses, in spite of my iniquitous propensities and I expect to be allowed to do so at Kelly’s Court. But, if you let Miss Wyndham slip through your fingers, you won’t have a house over your head in a few years’ time, much less a shelter to offer a friend. For God’s sake, start for Grey Abbey at once. Why, man alive, the ogre can’t eat you!

The whole town is in the devil of a ferment about Brien. Of course you heard the rumour, last week, of his heels being cracked? Some of the knowing boys want to get out of the trap they are in; and, despairing of bringing the horse down in the betting by fair means, got a boy out of Scott’s stables to swear to the fact. I went down at once to Yorkshire, and published a letter in Bell’s Life last Saturday, stating that he is all right. This you have probably seen. You will be astonished to hear it, but I believe Lord Tattenham Corner got the report spread. For heaven’s sake don’t mention this, particularly not as coining from me. They say that if Brien does the trick, he will lose more than he has made these three years, and I believe he will, lie is nominally at 4 to 1; but you can’t get 4 to anything like a figure from a safe party. For heaven’s sake go to Grey Abbey, and at once.

Always faithfully, W. BLAKE.

This letter naturally increased Lord Ballindine’s uneasiness, and he wrote a note to Mr Armstrong, informing him that he would not trouble him to go at all, unless he could start the next day. Indeed, that he should then go himself, if Mr Armstrong did not do so.

This did not suit Mr Armstrong. He had made up his mind to go; he could not well return the twenty pounds he had received, nor did he wish to forego the advantage which might arise from the trip. So he told his wife to be very careful about her thumb, made up his mind to leave the three policemen for once without spiritual food, and wrote to Lord Ballindine to say that he would be with him the next morning, immediately after breakfast, on his road to catch the mail-coach at Ballyglass.

He was as good as his word, or rather better; for he breakfasted at Kelly’s Court, and induced Lord Ballindine to get into his own gig, and drive him as far as the mail-coach road.

‘But you’ll be four or five hours too soon,’ said Frank; ‘the coach doesn’t pass Ballyglass till three.’

‘I want to see those cattle of Rutledge’s. I’ll stay there, and maybe get a bit of luncheon; it’s not a bad thing to be provided for the road.’

‘I’ll tell you what, though,’ said Frank. ‘I want to go to Tuam, so you might as well get the coach there; and if there’s time to spare, you can pay your respects to the bishop.’

It was all the same to Mr Armstrong, and the two therefore started for Tuam together. They had not, however, got above half way down the avenue, when they saw another gig coming towards them; and, after sundry speculations as to whom it might contain, Mr Armstrong pronounced the driver to be ‘that dirty gallipot, Colligan.’

It was Colligan; and, as the two gigs met in the narrow road, the dirty gallipot took off his hat, and was very sorry to trouble Lord Ballindine, but had a few words to say to him on very important and pressing business.

Lord Ballindine touched his hat, and intimated that he was ready to listen, but gave no signs of getting out of his gig.

‘My lord,’ said Colligan, ‘it’s particularly important, and if you could, as a magistrate, spare me five minutes.’

‘Oh, certainly, Mr Colligan,’ said Frank; ‘that is, I’m rather hurried I may say very much hurried just at present. But still I suppose there’s no objection to Mr Armstrong hearing what you have to say?’

‘Why, my lord,’ said Colligan, ‘I don’t know. Your lordship can judge yourself afterwards; but I’d rather ’

‘Oh, I’ll get down,’ said the parson. ‘I’ll just take a walk among the trees: I suppose the doctor won’t be long?’

‘If you wouldn’t mind getting into my buggy, and letting me into his lordship’s gig, you could be following us on, Mr Armstrong,’ suggested Colligan.

This suggestion was complied with. The parson and the doctor changed places; and the latter, awkwardly enough, but with perfect truth, whispered his tale into Lord Ballindine’s ear.

At first, Frank had been annoyed at the interruption; but, as he learned the cause of it, he gave his full attention to the matter, and only interrupted the narrator by exclamations of horror and disgust.

When Doctor Colligan had finished, Lord Ballindine insisted on repeating the whole affair to Mr Armstrong. ‘I could not take upon myself,’ said he, ‘to advise you what to do; much less to tell you what you should do. There is only one thing clear; you cannot let things rest as they are. Armstrong is a man of the world, and will know what to do; you cannot object to talking the matter over with him.’

Colligan consented: and Armstrong, having been summoned, drove the doctor’s buggy up alongside of Lord Ballindine’s gig.

‘Armstrong,’ said Frank, ‘I have just heard the most horrid story that ever came to my ears. That wretch, Barry Lynch, has tried to induce Doctor Colligan to poison his sister!’

‘What!’ shouted Armstrong; ‘to poison his sister?’

‘Gently, Mr Armstrong; pray don’t speak so loud, or it’ll be all through the country in no time.’

‘Poison his sister!’ repeated Armstrong. ‘Oh, it’ll hang him! There’s no doubt it’ll hang him! Of course you’ll take the doctor’s information?’

‘But the doctor hasn’t tendered me any information,’ said Frank, stopping his horse, so that Armstrong was able to get close up to his elbow.

‘But I presume it is his intention to do so?’ said the parson.

‘I should choose to have another magistrate present then,’ said Frank. ‘Really, Doctor Colligan, I think the best thing you can do is to come before myself and the stipendiary magistrate at Tuam. We shall be sure to find Brew at home today.’

‘But, my lord,’ said Colligan, ‘I really had no intention of doing that. I have no witnesses. I can prove nothing. Indeed, I can’t say he ever asked me to do the deed: he didn’t say anything I could charge him with as a crime: he only offered me the farm if his sister should die. But I knew what he meant; there was no mistaking it: I saw it in his eye.’

‘And what did you do, Doctor Colligan, at the time?’ said the parson.

‘I hardly remember,’ said the doctor; ‘I was so flurried. But I know I knocked him down, and then I rushed out of the room. I believe I threatened I’d have him hung.’

‘But you did knock him down?’

‘Oh, I did. He was sprawling on the ground when I left him.’

‘You’re quite sure you knocked him down?’ repeated the parson.

‘The divil a doubt on earth about that!’ replied Colligan. ‘I tell you, when I left the room he was on his back among the chairs.’

‘And you did not hear a word from him since?’

‘Not a word.’

‘Then there can’t be any mistake about it, my lord,’ said Armstrong. ‘If he did not feel that his life was in the doctor’s hands, he would not put up with being knocked down. And I’ll tell you what’s more if you tax him with the murder, he’ll deny it and defy you; but tax him with having been knocked down, and he’ll swear his foot slipped, or that he’d have done as much for the doctor if he hadn’t run away. And then ask him why the doctor knocked him down? you’ll have him on the hip so.’

‘There’s something in that,’ said Frank; ‘but the question is, what is Doctor Colligan to do? He says he can’t swear any information on which a magistrate could commit him.’

‘Unless he does, my lord,’ said Armstrong, ‘I don’t think you should listen to him at. all; at least, not as a magistrate.’

‘Well, Doctor Colligan, what do you say?’

‘I don’t know what to say, my lord. I came to your lordship for advice, both as a magistrate and as a friend of the young man who is to marry Lynch’s sister. Of course, if you cannot advise me, I will go away again.’

‘You won’t come before me and Mr Brew, then?’

‘I don’t say I won’t,’ said Colligan; ‘but I don’t see the use. I’m not able to prove anything.’ ‘I’ll tell you what, Ballindine,’ said the parson; ‘only I don’t know whether it mayn’t he tampering with justice suppose we were to go to this hell-hound, you and I together, and, telling him what we know, give him his option to stand his trial or quit the country? Take my word for it, he’d go; and that would be the best way to be rid of him. He’d leave his sister in peace and quiet then, to enjoy her fortune.’

‘That’s true,’ said Frank; ‘and it would be a great thing to rid the country of him. Do you remember the way he rode a-top of that poor bitch of mine the other day Goneaway, you know; the best bitch in the pack?’

‘Indeed I do,’ said the parson; ‘but for all that, she wasn’t the best bitch in the pack: she hadn’t half the nose of Gaylass.’

‘But, as I was saying, Armstrong, it would be a great thing to rid the country of Barry Lynch.’

‘Indeed it would.’

‘And there’d be nothing then to prevent young Kelly marrying Anty at once.’

‘Make him give his consent in writing before you let him go,’ said Armstrong.

‘I’ll tell you what, Doctor Colligan,’ said Frank; ‘do you get into your own gig, and follow us on, and I’ll talk the matter over with Mr Armstrong.’

The doctor again returned to his buggy, and the parson to his own seat, and Lord Ballindine drove off at a pace which made it difficult enough for Doctor Colligan to keep him in sight.

‘I don’t know how far we can trust that apothecary,’ said Frank to his friend.

‘He’s an honest man, I believe,’ said Armstrong, ‘though he’s a dirty, drunken blackguard.’

‘Maybe he was drunk this evening, at Lynch’s?’

‘I was wrong to call him a drunkard. I believe he doesn’t get drunk, though he’s always drinking. But you may take my word for it, what he’s telling you now is as true as gospel. If he was telling a lie from malice, he’d be louder, and more urgent about it: you see he’s half afraid to speak, as it is. He would not have come near you at all, only his conscience makes him afraid to keep the matter to himself. You may take my word for it, Ballindine, Barry Lynch did propose to him to murder his sister. Indeed, it doesn’t surprise me. He is so utterly worthless.’

‘But murder, Armstrong! downright murder; of the worst kind; studied premeditated. He must have been thinking of it, and planning it, for days. A man may be worthless, and yet not such a wretch as that would make him. Can you really think he meant Colligan to murder his sister?’

‘I can, and do think so,’ said the parson. ‘The temptation was great: he had been waiting for his sister’s death; and he could not bring himself to bear disappointment. I do not think he could do it with his own hand, for he is a coward; but I can quite believe that he could instigate another person to do it.’

‘Then I’d hang him. I wouldn’t raise my hand to save him from the rope!’

‘Nor would I: but we can’t hang him. We can do nothing to him, if he defies us; but, if he’s well handled, we can drive him from the country.’

The lord and the parson talked the matter over till they reached Dunmore, and agreed that they would go, with Colligan, to Barry Lynch; tell him of the charge which was brought against him, and give him his option of standing his trial, or of leaving the country, under a written promise that he would never return to it. In this case, he was also to write a note to Anty, signifying his consent that she should marry Martin Kelly, and also execute some deed by which all control over the property should be taken out of his own hands; and that he should agree to receive his income, whatever it might be, through the hands of an agent.

There were sundry matters connected with the subject, which were rather difficult of arrangement. In the, first place, Frank was obliged, very unwillingly, to consent that Mr Armstrong should remain, at any rate one day longer, in the country. It was, however, at last settled that he should return that night and sleep at Kelly’s Court. Then Lord Ballindine insisted that they should tell young Kelly what they were about, before they went to Barry’s house, as it would be necessary to consult him as to the disposition he would wish to have made of the property. Armstrong was strongly against this measure but it was, at last, decided on; and then they had to induce Colligan to go with them. He much wished them to manage the business without him. He had had quite enough of Dunmore House; and, in spite of the valiant manner in which he had knocked its owner down the last time he was there, seemed now quite afraid to face him. But Mr Armstrong informed him that he must go on now, as he had said so much, and at last frightened him into an unwilling compliance.

The three of them went up into the little parlour of the inn, and summoned Martin to the conference, and various were the conjectures made by the family as to the nature of the business which brought three such persons to the inn together. But the widow settled them all by asserting that ‘a Kelly needn’t be afeared, thank God, to see his own landlord in his own house, nor though he brought an attorney wid him as well as a parson and a docther.’ And so, Martin was sent for, and soon heard the horrid story. Not long after he had joined them, the four sallied out together, and Meg remarked that something very bad was going to happen, for the lord never passed her before without a kind word or a nod; and now he took no more notice of her than if it had been only Sally herself that met him on the stairs.

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