The Macdermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter 29.

Thady’s Trial is Commenced.

On the same evening, namely that immediately before the trial, Father John visited Thady in prison, and it was the last time that they were to meet before the fate of the latter was decided. The priest had constantly visited the young man in his confinement, and had done all in his power to support and cheer his spirits under the horrible circumstances in which he was placed, and not without success. Thady had borne his incarceration and distress with the greatest courage. When remaining at Aughacashel among the lawless associates with whom he had so foolishly looked for safety, he had completely lost his fortitude and power of endurance; he was aware that he was doing what was in every sense culpable, and he then could not but look on himself as a murderer flying from justice; but now he had learned to see what was really criminal in what he had done, and what was venial; and though the last five months had been spent in prison, and though he felt by no means sanguine of his acquittal, he had, nevertheless, never regretted that he had given himself up.

Father John had again today seen Mr. O’Malley, who now that he had the affair thoroughly at his fingers’ ends, seemed to be almost sanguine of success, and consequently the good priest himself was correspondingly elated.

“I trust in God, Thady,” said he, “I confidently trust you will be with me at the Cottage tomorrow night, or at any rate the next. The Cottage shall be your home for some time, my boy, if they allow you any home in the country. I don’t want to give you false hopes, but I don’t think any jury can convict you. I’m sure Mr. O’Malley thinks so too.”

“I don’t think so, Father John; it may be so, but I don’t think so; it’s a comfort to me to know I never meant his death, although he was doing what might have tempted me to shoot him, av I’d had a pistol in my hand; for as I sit here he was dragging her down the avenue by the waist. But I never thought to kill him, and though I think they will hang me, I feel that I haven’t the weight of murdher on my hands.”

“You haven’t, Thady; indeed you may say you haven’t. I that should teach you to repent your sins, not to hide them from your own heart, tell you that you haven’t. But should they condemn you, there are those that will have. But God forbid — may God in his great mercy forbid it.”

“But, Father John, what’ll Feemy do? what will the owld man do when I am-when I’m gone? Keegan’ll have all now. She’ll be turned out to beg across the world; and what’ll ever become of her?”

“Your father’ll be cared for, Thady. Though no one else should see to him, I will, for your sake. He’s very infirm; you’ll be astonished when you see him; but while he lives and while I have a bit of bread to share with him, or a roof to shelter him, for your sake, he shall never want it.”

Thady pressed the priest’s hand between his own.

“What a thing it is to have a friend like you! but Feemy — who’ll provide for Feemy? she’ll be the only one left of the name when I’m gone; there’ll be nothing left but her; house and family’ll be gone then, and except for poor Feemy, there’d be an end of the whole concern.”

“Don’t go on that way,” said Father John, with tears in his eyes. “You’ll be able to see after, and live with your own sister yet; and who knows but you may yet beat Keegan out of Ballycloran?”

“Oh, no, Father John! av they don’t hang me out and out — av they don’t put an end to me altogether, I’ll be transported, or sent back here to gaol. I’ll never be at Ballycloran again. Bad as the place is, I loved it. I think it’s all the throuble I had with it, and with the tinants, that made me love it so. God forgive me — I was hard enough to some of them!”

Father John remained with him till the evening was far advanced, and then left him, promising to be in court on the morrow.

“Let me see you there, Father John,” said he. “Stand near me whilst it’s going on; it’ll be a comfort to me to have one friend near me among so many strangers, and at such a time.”

“I will, my boy. I must leave the court when Feemy is to come, for I’ve promised to be with Mrs. McKeon when she brings her in; but excepting that, I’ll stand as near you as they’ll let me.”

The priest then left his friend, and Thady was once more alone in his cell, about to pass the last of many long, tedious nights of suspense. There he sat, on his iron bedstead in his gloomy cell, with his eyes fixed upon vacancy, thinking over the different events of his past life, and trying to nerve himself for the fate which, he too truly believed, was in store for him. Thady’s disposition had not been prone to hope; he had never been too sanguine — never sanguine enough. From the years to which his earliest memory could fall back, he had been fighting an earnest, hard battle with the world’s cares, and though not thoroughly vanquished, he had always been worsted. He had never experienced what men called luck, and he therefore never expected it. Few men in any rank of life had known so little joy as he had done, or had so little pleasure; his only object in life had been to drive the wolf from his father’s door and to keep a roof over him and his sister.

Had patient industry and constant toil been able to have effected this, he would have been, perhaps not happy, but yet not discontented; this, however, circumstances had put out of his power, and he felt that the same uncontrollable circumstances had now brought him into his present position. He knew little of the Grecian’s doctrine of necessity; but he had it in his heart that night, when he felt himself innocent, and was at the same time assured that all the kind efforts of his friends would not save him from his fate — a hangman’s rope and the county gallows.

There he sat the greater part of that night alone on his cold bedside, not knowing whether he was warm or cold — not perceiving whether it was light or dark; and no one but God might know the thoughts that passed through his untutored brain, or the feelings which kindled his warm, though rugged heart. Did he complain that though honest, industrious, and patient, ignominy and death should be his probable doom? Had he bitter hatred in his heart for those who had driven him to his fate? Did he still love those who had evinced so little sympathy with him? Sympathy! Ah! how could he miss that which he had never felt, till Father John had blessed him with his kind words! His love had not been that conscious love which requires kindness to nurture it, and love again to keep it warm. He was not aware himself how well he loved his father and his sister. His lot had been thrown with them; he had passed his life with them, and the feelings, which in a selfish man are given up to self, had with him been turned on those to whose care it had seemed that his life should be dedicated.

I do not say that he looked forward to a probable death without a shudder, or to so speedy a termination of his career, without a wish that, unfortunate as it had been, it might be prolonged; but it was the disgrace, and the circumstances of his fate, which made by far the greater portion of his misery. Could he be but once quiet in his grave, and have done with it all — be rid of the care, turmoil, and uneasiness, he would have been content. Could he have been again unborn — uncreated! He had once repined to Father John, that existence had been for him a necessary evil; and though checked by the priest for the impiety of the thought, was it odd if he often thought, that he was one of those for whom it would have been better had they never been born?

About three or four in the morning, he fell asleep, and was awakened by Father John about eight; he dressed himself in his best clothes — those in which he had been accustomed to go to mass — ate his breakfast, and about ten o’clock was led out of gaol, handcuffed, into the court-house. The gaol at Carrick-on-Shannon is not far from the court-house, and as they are both built on a neck of land running into the river, no portion of the town has to be traversed; but yet there was a great crowd collected to see the poor fellow pass by. This was the first of the bitter moments to which he had so constantly looked forward for the last few months. At length, however, he was in the dock, and here the high wooden palings, twelve feet above the ground on which he had to stand, would screen him from the view of all, save the miserable prisoners beside him and the policemen who had brought him in — until he should be called on to take his place at the bar.

After waiting there for about half an hour, sitting on the rude benches which surrounded the interior of the dock, with his eyes fixed on the red lappets of the gaoler’s coat which hung over the palings as he sat upon the bar, he heard the noise of steps in the court suddenly increased, and the sound of voices hushed; the judge was taking his seat. Mr. Baron Hamilton, accompanied by a fashionably dressed young gentleman with a white wand, entered the court at a side-door, passed behind the jury-box, and sat down on the seat of judgment, under the dusty red canopy which for many years had nodded over the wisdom of Ireland’s soundest lawyers.

Had that piece of red moreen been gifted with an ear to hear, and a tongue to tell, what an indifferent account would it give of the veracity of judges and of the consciences of lawyers! How many offences had it heard stigmatised by his lordship as the most heinous that had ever been brought before him in his judicial capacity! How many murderers, felons, and robbers, described as poor harmless, innocent, foolish boys, brought into trouble by a love of frolic! How many witnesses, vainly endeavouring to tell the truth, forced by the ingenuity of lawyers into falsehood and perjury! What awful denunciations and what light wit, almost in the same breath! Of what laughter hardly suppressed by judicial authority would it tell — what agonizing sobs altogether unsuppressable would it describe — how many a clever, smiling, self-sufficient barrister would it, from long knowledge, have learnt to laugh to scorn — of how many a sharp attorney would it declare the hidden ways! But yards of red moreen are fitting witnesses for judicial gravities and legal exercises. They hang profoundly, gravely — nay, all but solemnly — over the exposition of the criminal. They lend authority to the wrath, and protection to the wit of the wigged. They awe the criminal, repress the witnesses, inspire the juror, silence the spectator, absorb the dust, and tell no tales.

And now the judge having taken his place, the lesser men in office being duly seated beneath him, and the contending barristers having sufficiently dived into their blue bags, the prisoner is summoned, under various indictments, to take his trial for the murder of Myles Ussher; whereupon Thady is called upon by the gaoler, and, rising from his seat, takes his stand at the bar. In his position there, he is just enabled to raise his arm to the railing of the dock, and to rest his hand upon it during the ten long, horrid, wasting hours which he is destined to pass in his present painful position. His face is pale, and — always thin and sad — now thinner and sadder than ever; his eyes wander round the court, and as they at length alight on Father John, who is seated next to Mr. McKeon on the attorneys’ benches, a kind of gentle smile softens his features, and shows how great a relief he feels the presence of a friend to be. In answer to the clerk of the crown, he declares himself not guilty, professes himself ready for his trial, and the business of the day commences.

The first thing that has to be done is to call over the long panel, and the names of all competent persons in the county, from whom the jury is to be selected. But even preparatory to this, the counsel for the defence commence their fight. Mr. O’Laugher, who, as the phrase goes, is with Mr. O’Malley, begins by declaring that the list from which the names are read is an illegal list — a foolish, useless, unauthoritative list — nothing but balderdash, moonshine, and waste paper — all empty sounds, and consisting of a string of names as little to the purpose in the present case as a regimental roll-call. The sub-sheriff, who with infinite clerkly care, and much sub-shrieval experience, has made out the list, opens wide his disturbed ears, and begins to feel somewhat uncomfortable. Mr. O’Laugher goes on to declare that the present list, instead of being one properly, legally, and expressly drawn out for March 183 — is only a copy of the one in use during the summer assizes in the last year, and assures the judge with much indignant emphasis, that he cannot allow his client to submit to the injustice of receiving a verdict from a jury composed under such atrocious circumstances.

The objection is listened to with as much gravity as though a statement had been made that the prisoner had been in Newfoundland at the time of Ussher’s death, and Mr. Allewinde’s assistant begins to argue the case. The sub-sheriff and his two clerks are put into the chair, and have to swear one thing and another. Books are lugged into court — dirty papers overhauled — thick volumes quoted and consulted — precedents urged — objections answered — a great deal of self-confidence shown. At last, after a weary hour’s talk, it seems somehow decided that the sub-sheriff was in the right of it — that the list is correct, and that the prisoner may be tried. But Mr. O’Laugher is not in the least chagrined at the victory of his adversary; one would say, from his countenance, that his only object had been to delay the business for an hour, and that he triumphed in his success.

The list is accordingly read over, and the householders of County Leitrim are summoned to appear and answer to their names under a penalty of two pounds. A lamentable deficiency, however, is apparent; one only here and there answers to his name as it is called out in the sonorous and practised voice of the clerk of the crown. A notice is then given that they will be again invoked under a penalty of ten pounds, which, in spite of the fear which pervades the minds of jurymen that this will be a lock-up affair, entailing a bedless night and a meagre supper, surreptitiously supplied through the windows of the court-house, has the desired effect, and Cornelius O’Reilly, Patrick Tierney, Anthony Reynolds, &c., &c., reply to the call, and the court becomes sufficiently full of strong, thick-set, comfortable men.

This is only the long panel. Now the jury has to be formed. To twenty names the prisoner is entitled to object from caprice, and Mr. O’Laugher is not the man to give up one of the twenty. Then he can object to as many more as he chooses, on showing cause, and you may be sure Mr. O’Laugher has a great many causes to show. One man has lived near young Macdermot all his life, has been a friend of his, must have formed an opinion on the case, and is therefore not fit: another man has been his enemy, and is therefore not fit; a third man used to drive with Captain Ussher twice a week; a fourth lived in Mohill; a fifth at Drumsna; a sixth did not live in the county at all; a seventh had not a house of his own, and so on. Why, it appeared there was not a proper juror in the county! On all these objections Mr. O’Laugher was beaten; and as he was beaten on each, he indefatigably prepared for the next.

Then the jurors themselves objected. They unblushingly declared themselves unfit; — asserted that they could not depend upon themselves to give a true verdict, and assured the judge that their minds would be improperly biassed by circumstances on one side or the other. What atrocious characters! — what self-condemned miscreants! Why does not the judge instantly, with that stern look he knows so well how to assume, turn them out of court, bid them make way for honest men, and send them home, disgraced for ever, to their sorrowing families? Does he do so? No indeed! he picks his teeth while Mr. Allewinde assures this recusant or the other that he has no doubt but that he will make a most eligible juror; and at last, with considerable delay, a little trial takes place in each case, and two other jurymen have to decide on their oaths, whether Terence Murphy stands indifferent between our Lord and Sovereign the King and the prisoner at the bar; and to enable them to decide, they have to hear all the evidence in the case.

The twelve are at last sworn — the proper officer repeating in each case those awful words, “Juror, look upon the prisoner. Prisoner, look upon the juror. You shall well and truly try, and true deliverance make, between our Lord and Sovereign the King and the prisoner at the bar — so help you God!”

As this injunction in each case reached Thady’s ear, he moved his eyes upon the man who was then being sworn, as if demanding from him that true deliverance to which he felt himself entitled. And now the prisoner having pleaded, the indictments read, and the jury armed with pen, ink, and paper, Mr. Allewinde, full of legal dignity and intellectual warmth, rises to his subject. We will not follow him through the whole of the long narrative which he, with great practised perspicuity, and in the clearest language, laid before the jury, for we already know the facts which he had to detail. He first of all described the death of Ussher; then stated that he could prove that the prisoner had killed him, and having informed the jury that doubtless the prisoner’s sister was in the act of eloping with the deceased when he met his death, launched out into a powerful description of the present dreadful state of the country. He told the jury that it was in his power to prove to them that the prisoner was one of an illegal society who had often threatened Ussher, and that he had but a day or two previous to the affray met a sworn portion of his own tenants for the purpose of planning the murder. He went on to tell the jury that they were not to allow themselves to be deceived by the idea that the murder could not have been premeditated, because there existed a presumption that the prisoner was not aware of Ussher’s expected presence in the avenue; for that the fact of the murder having been talked over deliberately, and then executed, afforded the strongest evidence that the prisoner was at the time lying in wait for the deceased; and that, through the servants, or from other means, he had made himself cognisant of the projected elopement. He then, preparatory to examining the witnesses, concluded in the following words —

“Gentlemen of the jury — You are probably all aware that the prisoner is from that rank in life to which the greatest number of yourselves belong; and you cannot but see that the fact of his being so, greatly increases the magnitude of his presumed crime. Far be it from me to urge you on this account to come to a conviction, should the evidence prove in any way deficient; but I do implore you, if you value the peace of your country — the comfort of your hearths — the safety of your houses — and the protection of your property; not to allow yourselves to be led away by a feeling of false sympathy, or to be improperly actuated by the idea that the deed was done in legitimate defence of the prisoner’s sister, if the evidence do not prove that such was the case. I do implore you to divest yourselves of any such preconceived notions. Did the evidence merely go to show that Mr. Ussher was killed by the brother whilst eloping with the sister, it would doubtless be fair that the circumstance should be taken into your consideration; but when you shall have heard it proved that the death of this unfortunate man was deliberately talked over, canvassed, and decided on by the very man by whom it was executed, you will only fall into the shallow device by which the prisoner has endeavoured to deceive you, did you not clearly perceive that he has merely used the fact of his sister’s elopement as a favourable opportunity for the completion of his project. Gentlemen, I shall now proceed to call the different witnesses, satisfied that when you shall have heard their evidence, you will have no difficulty in coming to a verdict in the case.”

The first witness called was Dr. Blake. He stated that he had examined the body the day after Ussher had met his death; that he had no doubt death had been occasioned by two heavy blows, one of which had fractured the skull immediately over the temple, and which was of itself quite sufficient to cause instantaneous death; that he should presume these blows to have been inflicted with some heavy blunt instrument, and that he considered the stick then produced in court and shown to him was such as had probably been used on the occasion.

This witness was not cross-examined.

Biddy was next called, and took her seat in the chair with much trepidation; but her usual womanly volubility soon returned to her, and she gave her evidence fluently enough. She stated that her mistress had confided to her her intention of eloping with Ussher on the morning of the evening on which he had been killed; that in obedience to her mistress’s commands, she had walked down the road towards Mohill, and had met Ussher in a gig, and had put a parcel for her mistress into it; that when she returned to the house, she believed her master — that was the prisoner — was in the house, in her mistress’s sitting-room; that shortly after her return she saw him come into the hall; that he then told her to go in to his sister, and that Captain Ussher was dead. She did not know what became of him after that, and that she had not seen him from that moment till the present one.

Mr. O’Laugher then asked her, whether she had told any one of her mistress’s intention of eloping with Ussher, and she replied that she had not — that she had never opened her lips on the subject to any one before she heard the prisoner say that Captain Ussher was dead. She also stated that it was her young master’s habit to go out to the stables every night.

She also was then allowed to go down, and Frederick Brown was called. He proved that Ussher had revealed to him his plan of running off with Feemy, and he stated, that not thinking much about it, he had told three or four friends of the circumstance, and that he could not tell whether or not it might in that manner have got round to the ears of the prisoner.

Mr. O’Laugher in his cross-examination bothered this young gentleman considerably, but as neither the questions nor the answers are material to the story, it would be useless to repeat them.

The next witness was Pat Brady, and as the verdict to which the jury came, depended in a great degree on his evidence, it will be given as nearly as possible in detail.

Having given his name, he stated that at the time of Ussher’s death he was in the employment of the prisoner; that he had been his confidential servant, and was intimate with all his habits; that on the night when the deceased was killed, at some time, he supposed, about half-past nine o’clock, his master had entered the kitchen at Ballycloran, and had desired him, Brady, to follow him out into the avenue; that his master, when in the avenue, had told him that he had killed Captain Ussher.

By this time the counsel had ceased asking questions, and as the witness was telling his own story, we will leave it in his words.

“I thought it war poking his fun at me, yer honours — for I knowed the Captain hadn’t been at Ballycloran that night, and that the masther had been ating his dinner at home, so I didn’t be taking much notice of what he war saying, till we war mostly half down the avenue, when Mr. Thady told me the body war there. Well, yer honours — what with the night, and what wid the trees it was a’most too dark to see; but I felt the man’s body with my foot, and then I know’d it war thrue enough what the masther was afther saying. I axed no questions thin, for I knew there’d been ill blood betwixt them, and when I comed to remember myself, I wasn’t that much surprised. But Mr. Thady axed me what we’d be doing wid the body, and I can’t exactly take upon myself to say what I answered; but, at last, he said as how we would take it down to Mrs. Mehan’s as keeps the shebeen shop beyond Ballycloran. He then told me something about Miss Feemy and the Captain — as how he was carrying her off by force like, and that war why he’d stretched him. Well, yer honours, at the bottom of the avenue, at the gate like — though for the matter of that, there ain’t no gate there — we discovered the Brown Hall gig, and Mr. Fred’s crop-tailed bay pony horse standing in the middle of the road — and the masther bid me take the body away to the police at Carrick, saying he would be off at oncet to the mountains in Aughacashel. Well, yer honours, this I did — I left the Captain’s body with the police — I took the gig to Brown Hall — and I brought home Miss Feemy’s bundle as had been left there in the gig, when the Captain came out into the avenue — and that’s the long and the short of what I knows about it, yer honours — at laste, all I knows about the murder.”

“The prisoner then owned to you,” continued Mr. Allewinde, “that it was he who killed Captain Ussher?”

“Shure he made no bones about it all — but told me straight out that he’d killed him in the avenue.”

“Did he say why he had done so?”

“Faix I don’t remember his saying thin why he’d done it — and I didn’t think to ask him. He was in a flurry like, as war nathural, and he and I carrying the dead man that’d been hearty only a few minutes afore! But shure, yer honour knows the thing had been talked over.”

“What thing had been talked over?”

“Why, the Captain’s death.”

“You mean to say by that, that arrangements had been made by certain persons to kill Captain Ussher?”

“I don’t know about arrangements; but there war boys through the counthry determined to have a fling at him.”

“Now I am going to ask you a question particularly affecting the prisoner, and one to which you must give me a direct answer. Have you ever been in the prisoner’s company, when he and others have expressed their determination to murder Captain Ussher?”

“Faix, I don’t know about dethermination and murder, but I’ve heard him threatened.”

“Have you heard him threatened with murder?”

“I’ve heard the boys say that he would be undher the sod that day six months.”

“Have you heard Captain Ussher threatened with death in the prisoner’s presence?”

“I don’t know that they ever said death or murder; they don’t spake out that way; av they war going to hole a chap, it’s giving him his quiatis or his gruel they’d be talking about.”

“Well, now, on your oath, have you ever, in the prisoner’s presence, heard such language used respecting Captain Ussher as made you think that he was to be killed?”

“Didn’t I tell yer honour I thought all along how he’d be killed.”

“Were you ever at Mrs. Mulready’s in Mohill?”

“I war.”

“Did you ever hear Captain Ussher’s name mentioned there?”

“I did.”

“Now tell the jury as nearly as you can what was said respecting him there.”

“Why a lot of boys swore together over a noggin or two of sperrits, to put him undher the sod — that’s all; but shure, yer honour, Mr. Thady, that’s him there,” and he pointed to the dock, “was niver at Mother Mulready’s.”

“Well, but when the boys swore to put the Captain under the sod was the prisoner’s name mentioned?”

“Oh, it war ofthen.”

“And what was said about him?”

“Why, yer honour it was this way — and I’ll tell you all I know about it off hand — and thin you’ll not be throubling yer honour’s self wid all these questions. The boys war mostly tenants to Mr. Thady here — and they did be saying that av so — av Mr. Thady would jine them in putting down the peelers and the Captain — they’d undhertake Mr. Keegan’d never put a second foot on the lands of Ballycloran; and they war the more hot about this, as they knew Mr. Thady war agin the Captain about his sisther, for he thought thim two were too thick like; and he used to be saying as how Ussher war playing his thricks with Miss Feemy. Well, along of this — and knowing as how the masther were agin Mr. Keegan too, they thought he’d jine in; and to bring him round, they swore niver to pay the rint afore he did. Well, yer honour, I was one night at the Widdy’s, that’s Mother Mulready’s, for I’d gone there knowing as how the tenants ‘d be in it, and I war noticing them to be up with the masther on Friday next about the rint. Afther I’d been telling ’em all to be up at Ballycloran, they got swearing that divil a foot they’d stir to the place, or divil a penny they’d pay any more, because Mr. Thady here war so thick with the Captain. This war jist afther the row up to Loch Sheen, when three boys war locked up about some squall — and this made the rest more bitter agin the Captain. Well, when they got swearing this way, I axed ’em, why not go to the masther like a man, and tell him what they thought. Wid that they agreed to come up to Mary’s wedding — that’s Mary McGovery, yer honour, as is my sisther, and who war to be married the Thursday; and so they parted, and a lot on ’em swore that blessed night that the Captain should be under the sod that day six months. Well, yer honour, the next morning Mr. Keegan called down to Ballycloran about law business, and somehow there war words atwixt him and Mr. Thady, and from that they got to blows, and I b’lieve somehow Mr. Keegan got the best of it, and Mr. Thady was a little hurted, and this made him bittherer nor iver.”

“But that did not make him bitterer against Captain Ussher, did it?” asked a juror.

“Faix thin, I think it did, yer honour,” answered Pat. “It seemed to make him bitther altogether agin everybody; when I war talking to him aftherwards about coming down to the wedding, he seemed to be trating all the world alike. But the Captain and Mr. Keegan especial. Well, when the supper war over, and the boys were begun dancing, Mr. Thady come down and immediately comed into the inside room, where the men war sitting dhrinking, and I war wid them: thin one of the men, a tinent to Mr. Thady, up and tould the masther all as I’ve tould yer honours, of what took place at the Widdy’s in Mohill, and how av Mr. Thady would jine them to rid the counthry of the Captain, they’d stand to him, and wouldn’t let Mr. Keegan on the lands of Ballycloran, right or wrong. Wid that there war a dale of shilly-shallying — but at last the masther said as how he would jine the boys in ridding the counthry of the Captain, and he thin agreed to come down to the Widdy’s the next night, or that afther, to get the secret signs and the pass-words, and to take the oaths they war to swear him to. Wid that he tuk an oath thin niver to tell nothin’ of what had passed that night. After that, I don’t remember rightly how it war, but he got up to look for Miss Feemy, and she war out walking in the road wid the Captain. Well, Mr. Thady went down the road afther thim — and there war a ruction in the road betwixt thim two; but as I warn’t there I can’t say exactly what was said one side or the other. By the time they come agin to Mrs. Mehan’s door, Father John, that’s Father Magrath, you know, war there, and made the pace betwixt ’em; and that’s all I can tell yer honours about it av I war to sit here till doomsday.”

“You said just now,” said Mr. Allewinde, “that the prisoner agreed to join the men assembled at Mrs. Mehan’s in ridding the country of Captain Ussher; now what was meant by ridding the country of him?”

“Why isn’t it ridding the counthry of him? yer honour knows what that means as well as ere a boy in the barony.”

“Perhaps I do; but you must tell the jury what you mane by it.”

“Is it I? I didn’t mane nothin’ at all: it warn’t I as said it — or as war ever a going to do it.”

“What did you suppose was the meaning of those who did make use of the phrase?”

“I ‘sposed the boys did mane to get rid of the Captain out of the counthry; jist that, yer honour.”

“But how did you suppose they were to get rid of him?”

“Oh, yer honour, I niver heard the particklars; I niver knew nothin’ of the plan. I warn’t one of them, you know.”

“But the prisoner agreed to join them in any plan, or in some plan for ridding the country of Captain Ussher?”

“He did, yer honour; shure I said that before.”

“Now, you said some time ago, that when you first discovered that Captain Ussher had been killed by the prisoner, and that when you came to remember yourself, you weren’t much surprised. Now, thank God! it is, at any rate in this county, a very uncommon thing to find that one man has killed another. Can you tell the jury why you were not surprised at such an event as that?”

“Becase I knowed there war ill-blood betwixt the two.”

“But men do not kill one another whenever they quarrel, do they?”

“Faix, they do sometimes.”

“Did you ever, of your own knowledge, know a man before who killed another?”

“Oh dear! yes; shure I did.”

“Well, tell us an instance.”

“Why there war ould Paddy Rafferty, who war in the Cavan Militia in the Rabellion — av he didn’t kill scores of the French at Ballinamuck, he’s the biggest liar I ever heard; but he’s dead now, yer honour.”

“Supposing that the death of Captain Ussher had happened a fortnight before — that the prisoner had killed him a fortnight before the day on which he did kill him, would you not have been surprised then?”

“Why I don’t know that a fortnight makes much difference.”

“Answer my question. In such a case as that, would you not have felt more surprise than you did when the affair did occur?”

“Why, yer honour, I can’t answer that — becase, you see, it didn’t happen then, and I couldn’t exactly be saying what my feelings might be.”

“At any rate, you were not surprised?”

“Oh yes, I war surprised; in course it war a surprise to me when I kicked the dead body; but when I come to think over all about the Captain, I warn’t that much surprised.”

“After what had taken place at Mrs. Mehan’s, you did not expect Captain Ussher would be very long lived?”

“Faix, he lived longer than I expected — seeing the way he war going on through the counthry.”

“Do you remember telling me some time ago, speaking of Captain Ussher’s death, that the thing had been talked over?”

“I b’lieve I said as much.”

“What did you mean by that?”

“Why just that the job had been talked about.”

“What job?”

“Why this job.”

“What job? Tell the jury what job.”

“Faix, they all know well enough by this time,” and the witness looked up to the jury, “— or else they oughtn’t to be there, any way.”

“Tell them what job you mean — never mind what they know.”

“‘Deed thin, you’re bothering me so entirely with yer jobs, I don’t rightly know myself which I’m maning.”

“Think a little then, for you must tell them; you said the job had been talked over; what was it that had been talked over?”

The witness gave a stolid look at the counsel, but answered nothing.

“Come,” continued Mr. Allewinde, “what was the job that had been talked over?”

“Bad manners to the likes of me; but I war niver cute, and now I’m bothered intirely.”

“You mean to tell the jury then that you don’t know what you meant when you said the thing had been talked over; do you?”

“Why, I s’pose it was this thing about Captain Ussher. Weren’t we talking of that then?”

“That’s for you to say. Was it Captain Ussher’s death that had been talked over?”

“Witness, don’t answer that question,” said Mr. O’Malley. “I’m sure my learned friend will not press it; it’s very seldom he makes such a slip as that.”

Mr. Allewinde had asked a leading, and therefore an unallowable question.

“Why the witness had just said that he supposed it was this thing about Captain Ussher,” said Mr. Allewinde.

“I’ll say no more about it,” continued Mr. O’Malley, “feeling perfectly certain that you will not press the question.”

“Well,” said Mr. Allewinde to the witness, “tell the jury at once what was the thing that had been talked over.”

“Why, yer honour knows well enough. Shure weren’t you saying it yourself, only the gentleman here wouldn’t let you.”

“Well, now do you say it.”

“Say what?”

“Say what was the thing that had been talked over.”

“Talked over when, yer honour?”

“You told the jury some time since that the prisoner owned to you in the avenue that he had killed Captain Ussher, did you not?”

“Faix, I did — and it was thrue for me — he made no bones about it at all.”

“And you then added that the thing had been talked over; what thing was it that had been talked over?”

“Ah, that’s what you’re wanting, is it? ‘Deed thin I’m axing yer pardon for keeping yer honours all this time in suspinse. Faix thin, Captain Ussher war the thing what war talked over; and divil a lie in it, for he war talked over ofthen enough.”

“Captain Ussher had been talked over in such a manner as to prevent your feeling much surprise, when you found that the prisoner had killed him, isn’t that it?”

“Jist so — faix, I’d have no difficulty in discoursing wid yer honour, av the other gentleman wouldn’t put in his say.”

“You’ll find by and by he’ll have a great deal more to say.”

“In course; and no objection on arth on my part so long as it’s one at a time.”

“Now I think I have only two more questions to ask you, if you will give me direct answers to them.”

“Twenty, av you plaze, yer honour.”

“You have said that the tenants of the prisoner had sworn together to put Captain Ussher under the sod, and also that the prisoner had agreed to join the tenants in ridding the country of him; was the former phrase, that of putting the Captain under the sod, used in the prisoner’s presence on the evening of the wedding?”

“There war a lot of thim phrases used — ridding the counthry — sodding him — and all thim sort of disagreeable sayings; but I can’t swear to any one exactly at Mrs. Mehan’s — thim’s the sort of words.”

“Very well. Now I think you told us that when the prisoner desired you to take the dead body to the police at Carrick, he told you he was going to some place: where did he say he was going to?”

“To Aughacashel.”

“Where’s Aughacashel?”

“It’s a mountain behind Drumshambo.”

“And did he tell you why he was going to Aughacashel?”

“That he mightn’t be tuk, I s’pose.”

“I don’t want your supposition. Did the prisoner tell you why he was going to Aughacashel?”

“There war some of the tinants there, I b’lieve, and he thought he’d be safe may be.”

“Did the prisoner tell you that he was going to Aughacashel because he thought he’d be safe there?”

“I’ll tell you how it war thin. We were jist talking together about what he’d betther be doing, which was nathural, and he with the dead body there, he’d been jist afther killing. Wid that, says he, ‘Pat,’ says he, ‘where’s the stills mostly at work now?’ ‘Faith,’ says I, ‘I don’t exactly be knowing;’ for, yer honour, I niver turned a penny that way myself —‘but,’ says I, ‘sich a one’ll tell you,’ and I mintioned one of the tinants; ‘and where’s he?’ said the masther; ‘why I heard tell,’ says I, ‘that he’s in Aughacashel, but av you’ll go down to Drumleesh, you’ll find out,’ and wid that he went down the road to Drumleesh, and I druv the body off to Carrick.”

“That’ll do,” said Mr. Allewinde. “I’ve done with this witness, my lord.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/trollope/anthony/macdermots-of-ballycloran/chapter29.html

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