The Macdermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter 28.

Assizes at Carrick-on-shannon.

And now the assize week in Carrick-on-Shannon had commenced, and all was bustle and confusion, noise, dirt, and distraction. I have observed that a strong, determined, regularly set-in week of bad weather usually goes the circuit in Ireland in company with the judges and barristers, making the business of those who are obliged to attend even more intolerable than from its own nature it is always sure to be. And so it was in this case.

On Tuesday afternoon Mr. Baron Hamilton and Justice Kilpatrick entered Carrick-on-Shannon, one after the other, in the company of the high sheriff, and a tremendous shower of rain, which drenched the tawdry liveries of the servants, and gave a most uncomfortable appearance to the whole affair.

The grand jury had been in the town since Monday morning — settling fiscal business — wrangling about roads — talking of tolls — checking county cesses — and performing those various patriotic offices, which they would fain make the uninitiated believe, require so much talent, industry, and energy; and as they were seen stepping over the running gutters, and making the best of their way through the splashing streets, their physiognomies appeared ominous of nothing good to the criminals, whose cases had in the first instance to come before them.

Every lodging in the town was engaged, beds being let, sometimes three in a room, for the moderate sum of a guinea each for the week. The hotels, for there are two, were crowded from the garrets to the cellars. Happy the man at such a period, who enjoys a bed-room which he can secure with a key — for without such precaution the rightful possessor is not at all unlikely, on entering his own premises, to find three or four somewhat rough looking strangers, perhaps liberated jurors, or witnesses just escaped from the fangs of a counsel, sitting in most undisturbed ease on his bed, eating bread and butter, and drinking bottled porter. Some huge farmer with dripping frieze coat will be squatted on his pillow, his towel spread as table-cloth on the little deal table which has been allotted to him as the only receptacle for his jug, basin, looking-glass, brushes, and every other article of the toilet, and his carpet-bag, dressing-gown, and pantaloons chucked unceremoniously into a corner, off the chairs which they had occupied, to make way for the damp friends of the big farmer, who is seated on the bed. This man is now drawing a cork from a bottle of porter, the froth of which you are quite sure from the manner in which the bottle is held, will chiefly fall upon the sheets between which you are destined to sleep — unless some half drunken ruffian, regardless of rights of possession and negligent of etiquette, deposits himself there before the hour at which you may think good to retire to rest.

Fruitless and vain would it be for you to endeavour to disturb that convivial party. Better lock up your bag, above all things not forgetting your brushes; and, as you are a witness yourself, go down to the court and admire the ingenious manner in which the great barrister, Mr. Allewinde, is endeavouring to make that unfortunate and thoroughly disconcerted young man in the witness box, swear to a point diametrically opposite to another point to which he has already sworn at the instigation of counsel on the other side — and thereby perjure himself. Never mind the bustling of eager, curious countrymen; never mind those noisy numerous policemen with their Sunday brass-chained caps; push on through them all, make your way into the centre of the court — go down there right on to the lawyers’ benches; never mind the seats being full — plunge in; if you hesitate, look timid — ask question, or hang back — you are lost, thrust out, expelled, and finally banished with ignominy into the tumultuous sea of damp frieze coats, which æstuates in the outer court. But go on with noise, impudence, and a full face; tread on people’s toes, and thrust them back with “by your leave,” and you will find yourself soon seated in direct view of the judge, counsel, witness and prisoner. You will be taken for an attorney, or, at any rate, for an influential court witness. If you talk somewhat loud, and frown very angrily in the face of the tallest policeman, you may by the ignorant even be taken for a barrister.

In fact, into court you must come, there is no other place open to receive you. The big room at the hotel, in which we have been three times on such different occasions, the long big room where McKeon presided over so many drunken spirits — where poor Feemy made her last arrangements with her lover at the ball — and where so soon afterwards she was brought forward to give her evidence touching his death, while his cold body was lying dead on the table before her — this long big room is now set apart for yet another purpose. The grand jury are to dine there, and already the knives and forks are laid out upon the long deal table. The little coffee-room — so called, though whiskey-room, or punch-room, or porter-room would be much the more appropriate name, unless indeed there is a kind of “lucus a non lucendo” propriety in the appellation — is full nearly to suffocation. There is not an unoccupied chair or corner of a table to be found.

Large men half wet through — reeking, smelling most unwholesomely as the rain steams up from their clothes — are keeping the cold out of their stomachs by various spirituous appliances. The room is half covered with damp straw, which has been kicked in from the passage; the windows are closed, and there is a huge fire burning on the other side of that moist mass of humanity. On entering the room you feel that you breathe nothing but second-hand rain; a sojourn there you find to be impossible; the porter drinkers are still in your bed-room, even on your bed up-stairs. What are you to do? where are you to go? Back home you cannot. You have a summons in your pocket; you have been unfortunately present when Mr. Terence O’Flanagan squeezed the fair hand of Miss Letitia Murphy; false Mr. Terence O’Flanagan would not come to the matrimonial altar when required; fair Miss Letitia Murphy demands damages, and you must swear to the fact of the hand having been squeezed as aforesaid. Who can tell when the case may come on? Rumour comes from the clerk of the peace, town clerk, or some other clerk who sits there in pride of place, always conspicuous under the judge’s feet, and whispers that Letitia Murphy, spinster, is coming on next. Attorneys’ clerks have been round diligently to all witnesses, especially as it seems to yourself, warning you that the important hour is at hand — that on no account may you be absent, so much as ten minutes’ walk from the court. Vainly you think to yourself that it can hardly be of such vital import that you, her father’s friend, saw little Letty Murphy’s hand ensconced one evening in the brawny palm of that false Lothario O’Flanagan; yes, of serious import is it — if not to Letty, or to Terence — yet to that facetious barrister, Mr. O’Laugher, who, at your expense, is going to amuse the dull court for a brief half-hour — and of importance to yourself, who are about to become the laughing-stock of your county for the next twelve months. It is, therefore, evident that you cannot leave the filthy town with its running gutters — the filthy inn with its steamy stinking atmosphere, and bed-room porter drinkers for good and all, and let Lothario O’Flanagan, Spinster Letty, Lawyers Allewinde and O’Laugher, with Justice Kilpatrick, settle the matter by themselves their own way; but that you must, willy nilly, in spite of rain, crowd, and offensive smell, stay and help to settle it with them. Into court therefore return, unfortunate witness; other shelter have you none; and now being a man of strong nerves — except when put into a chair to be stared at by judge, bar, grand jury, little jury, attorney, galleries, &c., &c. — you can push your way into a seat, and listen with attention to the quiddities of the legally erudite Mr. Allewinde, as on behalf of his client he ingeniously attempts — nay, as he himself afterwards boasts to the jury, succeeds in making that disconcerted young gentleman in the witness chair commit perjury.

Mr. Allewinde is a most erudite lawyer. He has been for many years employed by the crown in its prosecutions, and with great success. He knows well the art of luring on an approver, or crown witness, to give the information he wants without asking absolutely leading questions; he knows well how to bully a witness brought up on the defence out of his senses, and make him give evidence rather against than for the prisoner; and it is not only witnesses that he bullies, but his very brethren of the gown. The barristers themselves who are opposed to him, at any rate, the juniors, are doomed to bear the withering force of his caustic remarks.

“No, really, I cannot suffer this; witness, don’t answer that question. The learned gentleman must be aware that this is irregular; my lord, I must appeal to you. Stop, stop; that can never be evidence,” and so on:— the unfortunate junior, who fondly thought that with the pet witness now in the chair, he would be surely able to acquit his client, finds that he can hardly frame a question which his knowing foe will allow him to ask, and the great Mr. Allewinde convicts the prisoner not from the strength of his own case, but from his vastly superior legal acquirements.

How masterly is he in all the points of his profession as evinced in a criminal court. With what “becks, and smiles, and wreathed nods,” he passes by his brethren on the prosecuting side, and takes his seat of honour. How charmingly he nods to the judge when his lordship lays down the law on some point in conformity with the opinion expressed by himself. How rapidly he throws to the wind the frivolous excuses of some juror wishing to escape the foreseen long night’s confinement. How great is he on all points of panels — admissible and inadmissible evidence — replying and not replying. How thoroughly he knows the minute practice of the place; how he withers any attorney who may dare to speak a word on his own behalf, whilst asking questions of a witness on behalf of an otherwise undefended prisoner. How unceremoniously he takes the word out of the mouth of the, in his opinion, hardly competent junior barrister who is with him. How Demosthenic is his language when addressing the jury on the enormity of all agrarian offences; with what frightful, fearful eloquence does he depict the miseries of anarchy, which are to follow nonpayment of tithes, rents, and taxes; and with what energy does he point out to a jury that their own hearths, homes, and very existence depend on their vindicating justice in the instance before them.

Mr. Allewinde was never greater than in the case now before the court. A young farmer of the better class had been served with some disagreeably legal document on account of his non-payment of an arrear of rent; he had at the time about twenty acres of unripe oats on the ground for which the arrear was due; and he also held other ground for which he owed no arrear. On ascertaining that a distraint was to be put on the ground which owed the rent, he attended there with a crowd of countrymen, and would not allow the bailiff to put his foot upon the lands; the next day the bailiff came again with police in numbers at his heels, and found the twenty acres which had yesterday been waving with green crops, utterly denuded. Every blade had been cut and carried in the night, and was then stacked on the ground on which no distraint could be levied. In twelve hours, and those mostly hours of darkness, twenty acres had been reaped, bound, carted, carried, uncarted, and stacked, and the bailiff and the policemen had nothing to seize but the long, green, uneven stubble.

The whole country must have been there — the field must have been like a fair-green the whole night — each acre must have taken at least six men to reap — there must have been thirty head of cattle, of one sort or other, dragging it home; and there must have been upwards of a hundred women and children binding and loading. There could at any rate be no want of evidence to prove the fact. One would think so, with two or three hundred people with their tools, horses, and cars. But yet, when the landlord determined on prosecuting the tenant, there was not a person to be found who had seen the corn removed; — not one. In fact people who had not seen, as the bailiff had, the corn covering the broad field one day, and the same field bare the next, began to think that the fact was not so; and that the miraculous night’s work was a fable. It was certain that the bailiff had been deterred from entering on the ground, but it was also certain that nothing but words had been used to deter him; he had not been struck or even pushed; he had only been frightened; and it seemed somewhat plain that his faint heart only had prevented him from completing his seizure — either that or some pecuniary inducement. Things were going badly with the bailiff, particularly when in answer to Mr. O’Laugher, he had been obliged to confess that on the morning on which the seizure should have been made he had taken — a thrifle of sperrits! a glass, perhaps — yes, maybe, two — yes he had taken two; three, suggested Mr. O’Laugher with a merely raised eyebrow; he couldn’t say that he had not taken three; four? again inquired Mr. O’Laugher; he didn’t think he had taken four. Could he swear he had not taken four? He would not swear he hadn’t. He would not even swear he had not taken five; — nor even six, so conscientious a bailiff was he; but he was nearly sure he hadn’t, and would swear positively he had not swallowed seven. Whereupon Mr. O’Laugher most ill-naturedly put down his morning dram at three quarters of a pint, and asked the unhappy bailiff whether that quantity was not sufficient to make him see a crop of oats in an empty field. It was going badly with the landlord and bailiff, and well with the energetic, night-working, fraudulent tenant; — and would have gone well with him, had he not determined to make assurance doubly sure.

A young man had been dining out, and had returned home at twelve o’clock on the night of the supposed miraculous reaping; he had at that hour walked home along the lane which skirted the field, and had seen no men — heard no noise — nor perceived either reapers, cars, horses, or any signs of work; yet he had passed the very gate of the field through which the corn must have come out, had it come out at all. Such was the effect of this young gentleman’s evidence, when he was handed over to Mr. Allewinde by Mr. O’Laugher, with a courteous inquiry of his brother whether he wished to ask that gentleman any questions. Mr. Allewinde said that he would ask him a few questions, and the young gentleman began to tremble.

“Mr. Green, I think your name is,” began Mr. Allewinde.

“Yes sir.”

And then it appeared that Mr. Green absolutely remembered the night of the 12th September; had heard the rumour of the corn having been removed, but had not observed it growing there when he went to dinner; had dined at the house of the prisoner’s father, about a mile beyond the field; had certainly passed the very field; could positively swear he was perfectly sober; was certainly not carried by drunk; had not observed the field especially; could not say he had looked at the field as he passed; had heard of the bailiff’s retreat that morning; did not think to look at the ground where the mob had been; did not observe the place; will positively swear he heard nothing; was not walking in his sleep; could not swear whether the oats were standing at the time or not — whether the gate was open or shut — whether or no men were in the field; only he saw none; he believed it was moonlight.

“Why man! what did you see?” asked Mr. Allewinde.

“Nothing particular.”

“Had you your eyes open?”

No answer.

“Now by virtue of your oath were your eyes open?”

No answer.

“Come, sir, I must, and will have an answer; on your solemn oath were your eyes open when you walked by that field?”

At last, after various renewed questions, the witness says, “No.”

“Did you shut them by accident?”

After that question had been sufficiently often repeated, the witness again said, “No; he had been blinded;” and in the same way it was at last extracted from him that his ears had been stopped also, and that he had been led along the road by the field, that he might be able to swear that he had passed the place during the night without either seeing or hearing what was at the moment taking place there.

Oh that miserable witness! One could swear from the glassy look of his eyes that then also, during those awful questions, he could see nothing. The sweat rolled down his miserable face. That savage barrister appeared to him as a devil sent direct from the infernals, for his express behoof; so unmercifully did he tear him, and lacerate him; twenty times did he make him declare his own shame in twenty different ways. Oh! what a prize for a clever, sharp, ingenious, triumphant Counsellor Allewinde, that wicked false witness, with his shallow, detected device. He played with him like a cat does with a mouse — now letting him go for a moment, with the vain hope that he was to escape — then again pouncing on him, and giving him a fresh tear; till at last, when the young man was desired to leave the chair, one was almost inclined to detest the ingenuity of the ferocious lawyer more than the iniquity of the false witness.

This case was now over; the bailiff again held up his head; the landlord gained his cause; the farmer was sent to prison, and the blind and deaf witness sneaked out of town in shame and disgrace. This came of not letting well alone.

The Wednesday was now advanced, and it was settled that there would not be time for the great murder case, as poor Thady’s affair was called. Besides, Mr. Allewinde was also to conduct that, and he wanted some rest after his exertions; and as he walked out with triumph, some minor cases were brought forward for disposal, and Mr. O’Laugher rushed into the other court to defend Terence O’Flanagan before Mr. Justice Kilpatrick, against the assaults made upon his pocket by that willow-wearing spinster, Letitia Murphy.

In rushed also all the loungers from the other court. In such a place as Carrick-on-Shannon, a breach of promise of marriage case is not an every day treat, and, consequently, men are determined to make the most of it. Counsellor O’Laugher runs his hands through his dark grey hair, opens wide his light blue eye, pulls out the needful papers from that bottomless bag, and though but the other moment so signally defeated in the other court, with sure trust in his own resources prepares for victory.

The case is soon stated. Mr. Terence O’Flanagan, with five hundred a-year, profit rents, out of the town and neigbourhood of Mannhamilton, has, to the palpable evidence of the whole and next baronies, been making up, as the phrase goes, to Letty Murphy, for the last six months. This has been no case of Bardell v. Pickwick, but a real downright matter of love-making on the one side, and love made on the other. Letters, too have been written, and are now to be read in court, to the great edification of the unmarried jury, and amusement of the whole assemblage; and the deceitful culprit has gone so far as to inform the father, Murphy, that he has a thousand pounds saved to settle, if he, the father, has another to add to it. All these things Mr. O’Malley puts forward on behalf of the injured Letty, in his opening speech, and then proceeds to bring evidence to prove them.

In the first place the father gives his evidence, and is cross-examined with great effect by Mr. O’Laugher; then the letters are read, and are agreed by all to be very affectionate, proper, agreeable love-letters; there is no cross-questioning them, for though answered, they will not answer; and our friend, who escaped but just now melancholy from the porter drinkers in his bed-room, is brought forward to prove the love-makings of the delinquent.

All Mr. O’Malley’s questions he answers with great readiness and fluency, for it was for the purpose of answering them that he came forward. He states without hesitation that love-making to a considerable extent has been going on; that to his knowledge, and in his presence, most particular attentions have been paid by Mr. Terence to Miss Letty; that they have sat together, talked together, walked together, and whispered together to such an extent, that in his, the witness’s, mind, they had for some time past been considered to be a regularly engaged couple; and that, moreover, he had himself seen Mr. Terence O’Flanagan squeezing the hand of Miss Letty. Having declared so much on behalf of the lady, he also was handed over to Mr. O’Laugher to be made to say what he could on behalf of the gentleman.

In answer to different questions, he stated that he himself was a middle-aged gentleman, about forty — a bachelor moving in good society — sufficiently so to be acquainted with its usages; that he was in the habit of finding himself in company with ladies — married ladies and single; he confessed, after some interlocutions, that he did prefer the company of the latter, and that he preferred the good-looking to the plain — the young to the old; he would not state whether he had made up his own mind on the subject of matrimony, and had a very strong objection to inform the jury whether he was engaged. Was his objection insurmountable? Yes, it was; whereupon it was decided by the court that the witness need not answer the question, as he could not be called on to criminate himself. He had, probably, however, been in love? suggested Mr. O’Laugher; but he wouldn’t say that he had. A little smitten, perhaps? Perhaps he had. Was, perhaps, of a susceptible heart? No answer. And accustomed to Cupid’s gentler wounds? No answer. Hadn’t he usually in his heart a prepossession for some young lady? Mr. O’Laugher must insist on having an answer to this question; as it was absolutely necessary the jury should know the nature of a witness’s temperament, whose evidence was chiefly one of opinion, and not of facts; how could they otherwise know what weight to give to his testimony? Hadn’t he usually a prepossession in his heart for some young lady? There was a great deal of hesitation about this question, but at last he was got to inform the jury on his oath that he usually — in fact always — did entertain such a prepossession. Was he not fond of conversing with the lady who for the time might be the object of this feeling? He supposed he was. Of walking with her? No, not particularly of walking with her. Did he never walk with his loved one? He didn’t think he ever did, except by accident. Weren’t such happy accidents of frequent occurrence? They might be. Weren’t they gratifying accidents when they did occur? Why, yes; he supposed they were. Then he was fond of walking with his loved one? Why, taking it in that way, he supposed he was. Mr. O’Laugher supposed so too. Did he never whisper to this loved object? No, never. What, never? Never. What; could he swear that he had never whispered to the present object of his adoration? He had no object of adoration. Well, then, object of love? He had no object of love; that is, he wouldn’t say whether he had or not. He thought it very hard that he should be asked all these questions. Well, then, object of prepossession. Could he swear that he had never whispered with the present object of his prepossession? Never — except in church; that was to say, he couldn’t tell. Never except in church — never walk with her except by accident! Mr. O’Laugher surmised that the witness was a very cautious fellow — quite an old bird — not to be caught with chaff. Did he never sit by her? Sit by who? By the object of his prepossession? He supposed he might, at dinner, or at a party, or a concert or a ball.

“What! sit by the object you love best at a concert, and not whisper to her between the tunes — and you a Connaught man!” said Mr. O’Laugher. “Come, mend your reputation a little; wasn’t that a slip you made, when you said now you’d never whispered to her at a concert?” Perhaps he had at a concert. “Well, now, I thought so. I thought by your complexion you wouldn’t sit by a pretty girl, and take no notice of her. Did you never squeeze a girl’s hand while you were whispering to her?” He couldn’t remember. “Now, on your oath did you never squeeze a girl’s hand?” He might have done so. “Did you never put your arm round a girl’s waist?” At last the witness owned he might have done even that. “And now, one question, and I’ve done. Did you never kiss a girl?” No answer. “Come, that’s the last. After all you’ve owned you needn’t haggle at that; out with it, man, it must come at last. Did you never kiss a girl?” Alas for the sake of morality, the witness was at length obliged to own that he had perpetrated the enormity. “And,” asked Mr. O’Laugher with a look of great surprise, “were you never proceeded against for damages? Was an action for breach of promise of marriage never brought against you?”

No, never; the witness had never been in such a predicament.

“What, never? You who have declared, I won’t say unblushingly, for heaven knows you have blushed enough about it, but openly and on your oath, that you have always some different object of affection, with whom you walk, sit, talk, and whisper; whose hand you squeeze, round whose waist you put your arm (a crime, by the by, never imputed to my client), whom you even confess that you kiss; and yet you sit here secure, unassailed, unsolicited for damages, unengaged, as you lead us to suppose. What are the fathers and brothers of Connaught doing to let such a hydra-headed monster as thou near their doors — such a wolf into their sheep-pens? Go down, thou false Lothario. Go down, thou amorous Turk, and remember that a day of retribution may yet come for yourself.”

The unfortunate witness hurried out of court — ran through the pelting rain to the inn — crammed his brushes and pantaloons into the carpet-bag in spite of damp, farmers, and burly porter drinkers — paid a guinea for the bed in which he had never slept, and hiring a post-car, hurried from the scene of his disgrace, regardless of the torrents which were falling.

On the Wednesday morning, for it had been forgotten till then, a summons was served on Hyacinth Keegan to attend as a witness at Thady’s trial, on the prisoner’s behalf; and as he was living in the town the service was quite in sufficient time, and there was no possible means by which he could avoid the disagreeable duty which was thus imposed upon him. He was much annoyed, however, for he felt that there were no questions, which he could be asked on the subject, which it would not annoy him to answer. He had been out but little since the day on which he had been so savagely treated at Drumleesh — indeed he had not been able to go out till quite lately; and he now most thoroughly wished that he was bad enough to obtain a medical certificate, which would prevent the necessity of his attending in court. That, however, was impossible, and he, therefore, sat himself to consider what answers he would give to the questions they would be most likely to ask him. Regard for his oath he had none; but there were some most disagreeable questions which, if asked him, he would be obliged to answer with the truth, for on those subjects he would be unable to lie without detection. His rancour against Thady was unabated. Unless young Macdermot were hung he would be unable to avenge the mutilated stump which crippled all his exertions, and now rendered his existence miserable.

He flattered himself, however, that Brady’s evidence would render that event certain; and whatever annoying questions might be put to himself on the defence, he was determined that Brady should swear to enough on the direct examination to ensure his purpose.

On the Wednesday evening it was decided that Thady’s case was to come on first in the criminal court on Thursday morning, and on the same Wednesday evening Keegan sent for Brady into his office.

Pat was now regularly installed as the attorney’s managing man on the property, and there was therefore nothing very remarkable in his sending for him, although he was going to be a witness on the morrow.

“Did you hear, Brady,” said the master, “that they’ve summoned me for the trial tomorrow?”

“Iss, yer honour; they war telling me so up at the court; there’s Dolan is summoned too.”

“Who’s Dolan?”

“He’s one of the boys, Mr. Keegan, as war in it that night at Mrs. Mehan’s.”

“Well, and what can he say? he can’t say Macdermot wasn’t there. He can’t do any harm, Pat; for if he was to swear that he wasn’t there, there’s enough to prove that he was.”

“No, yer honour, it isn’t that he’ll be saying, but he’ll be saying Captain Ussher’s name wasn’t mentioned, or may be that the boys were merely taking their drink, innocent like; that’s what I be afeared — and that’s what Corney’ll say; you’ll see av he don’t; he’s the biggest liar in Drumleesh.”

“Oh, they’d soon knock all that out of him; besides, isn’t he one of these potheen boys?”

“Faix he is so, Mr. Keegan.”

“Then they’ll not believe him — they’ll believe you a deal sooner than him that way; but you must be plain about this, Brady, that they were talking about Ussher that night — d’ye hear? Be d —— d but if you let them shake you about that you’re lost. D’ye hear? Why don’t you answer me, eh?”

“Oh! shure, your honour, I’ll be plain enough; certain sure the Captain’s name war mentioned.”

“Mentioned! yes, and how was it mentioned? Didn’t you tell me that Reynolds and young Macdermot were talking broadly about murdhering him? Didn’t they agree to kill him — to choke him in a bog hole — or blow his brains out?”

“It war your honour they war to put in a bog hole.”

“D——n them! I’ll have ’em before I’ve done. But don’t you know that Macdermot, Reynolds, and the other fellow agreed to put an end to Ussher? Why you told me so twenty times.”

“I b’lieve they did; but faix, I ain’t shure I heard it all rightly myself, yer honour; I warn’t exactly one of the party.”

“That won’t do, Brady; you told me distinctly that Reynolds and Macdermot swore together to kill the man; and you must swear to that in court. Why the barrister has been told that you can prove it.”

“But, Mr. Keegan, do you wish me now to go and hang myself? You would not wish a poor boy to say anything as’d ruin hisself?”

“Be d —— d, but some one has been tampering with you. You know you’ll be in no danger, as well as I do; and by heavens if you flinch now it’ll be worse for you. Mind, I want you to say nothing but the truth. But you know Ussher’s death was settled among them; and you must say it out plainly — d’ye hear? And I tell you what, Brady, if you give your evidence like a man you’ll never be the worse of those evenings you spent at Mohill at Mrs. Mulready’s, you know. But if you hesitate or falter, as sure as you stand there, they’ll come against you; and then I’ll not be the man to help you out of the scrape.”

“But, Mr. Keegan, yer honour, they do be saying that iv I brings out all that, it’ll hang the young masther out and out, and then I’ll have his blood upon my conscience.”

“Have the divil on your conscience. Isn’t he a murderer out and out? and, if so, shouldn’t you tell the truth about it? Why, you fool, it’s only the truth. What are you afraid of? after telling me so often that you would go through with it without caring a flash for any one!”

“But you see there’s so much more of a ruction about it now through the counthry than there war. Counsellor Webb and all thim has made Mr. Thady’s name so great, that there’d be no pace for a boy at all av he war to say a word agin him.”

“Then it’s a coward you are afther all, Brady?”

“No, yer honour, I’m no coward; but it’s a bad thing living in a counthry, where all the boys is sworn to stretch you.”

“Nonsense, Pat; did they ever stretch me? and haven’t I done as bad and worse to them twenty times. They’re trying to frighten you out of your duty, and you’re going to let them. Any way, I see you are not the man for me. I thought you had more pluck in you.”

“Why thin, Mr. Keegan, I’ve pluck enough; but faix, I don’t like hanging the young man thin — and now it’s out.”

“Very well — then you’ll be transported for perjury, that’s all; all the things you’ve to swear to have been sent written out to the Counsellor; and when you contradict in court what you have already declared to be the truth they’ll prosecute you for perjury, and a deal of good you’ll do young Macdermot afther all!”

After a few more arguments of a similar nature, Brady was again reduced to his allegiance, and at last was dismissed, having promised to swear stiffly both that Ussher’s death had been agreed on at the meeting at Mrs. Mehan’s, and also that in private conversation with him (Pat Brady) Macdermot had frequently expressed his determination of being revenged on Ussher for the injury he was doing to his sister. And Hyacinth Keegan betook himself to the company of the fair partner of his prosperity and misfortunes, comforting himself with the idea that he was sure of success in his attempts to secure Thady’s conviction, and flattering himself that Mr. O’Malley could at the worst only ask him some few teasing questions about the property.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/trollope/anthony/macdermots-of-ballycloran/chapter28.html

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