We must now see how things went on in the enemy’s camp.
The attorney drove up to the door of Dunmore House on his car, and was shown into the drawing-room, where he met Barry Lynch. The two young men were acquainted, though not intimate with each other, and they bowed, and then shook hands; and Barry told the attorney that he was welcome to Dunmore House, and the attorney made another bow, rubbed his hands before the fire and said it was a very cold evening; and Barry said it was ‘nation cold for that time of the year; which, considering that they were now in the middle of February, showed that Barry was rather abroad, and didn’t exactly know what to say. He remained for about a minute, silent before the fire, and then asked Daly if he’d like to see his room; and, the attorney acquiescing, he led him up to it, and left him there.
The truth was, that, as the time of the man’s visit had drawn nearer, Barry had become more and more embarrassed; and now that the attorney had absolutely come, his employer felt himself unable to explain the business before dinner. ‘These fellows are so confoundedly sharp I shall never be up to him till I get a tumbler of punch on board,’ said he to himself, comforting himself with the reflection; ‘besides, I’m never well able for anything till I get a little warmed. We’ll get along like a house on fire when we’ve got the hot water between us.’
The true meaning of all which was, that he hadn’t the courage to make known his villanous schemes respecting his sister till he was half drunk; and, in order the earlier to bring about this necessary and now daily consummation, he sneaked downstairs and took a solitary glass of brandy to fortify himself for entertaining the attorney.
The dinner was dull enough; for, of course, as long as the man was in the room there was no talking on business, and, in his present frame of mind Barry was not likely to be an agreeable companion. The attorney ate his dinner as if it was a part of the fee, received in payment of the work he was to do, and with a determination to make the most of it.
At last, the dishes disappeared, and with them Terry Rooney; who, however, like a faithful servant, felt too strong an interest in his master’s affairs to be very far absent when matters of importance were likely to be discussed.
‘And now, Mr Daly,’ said Lynch, ‘we can be snug here, without interruption, for an hour or two. You’ll find that whiskey old and good, I think; but, if you prefer wine, that port on the table came from Barton’s, in Sackville Street.’
‘Thank ye; if I take anything, it’ll be a glass of punch. But as we’ve business to talk of, maybe I’d better keep my head clear.’
‘My head’s never so clear then, as when I’ve done my second tumbler. I’m never so sure of what I’m about as when I’m a little warmed; “but,” says you, “because my head’s strong, it’s no reason another’s shouldn’t be weak:” but do as you like; liberty hall here now, Mr Daly; that is, as far as I’m concerned. You knew my father, I believe, Mr Daly?’
‘Well then, Mr Lynch, I didn’t exactly know him; but living so near him, and he having so much business in the county, and myself having a little, I believe I’ve been in company with him, odd times.’
‘He was a queer man: wasn’t he, Mr Daly?’
‘Was he, then? I dare say. I didn’t know much about him. I’ll take the sugar from you, Mr Lynch; I believe I might as well mix a drop, as the night’s cold.’
‘That’s right. I thought you weren’t the fellow to sit with an empty glass before you. But, as I was saying before, the old boy was a queer hand; that is, latterly for the last year or so. Of course you know all about his will?’
‘Faith then, not much. I heard lie left a will, dividing the property between you and Miss Lynch.’
‘He did! Just at the last moment, when the breath wasn’t much more than left in him, he signed a will, making away half the estate, just as you say, to my sister. Blake could have broke the will, only he was so d —— pig-headed and stupid. It’s too late now, I suppose?’
‘Why, I could hardly answer that, you know, as I never heard the circumstances; but I was given to understand that Blake consulted McMahon; and that McMahon wouldn’t take up the case, as there was nothing he could put before the Chancellor. Mind I’m only repeating what people said in Tuam, and about there. Of course, I couldn’t think of advising till I knew the particulars. Was it on this subject, Mr Lynch, you were good enough to send for me?’
‘Not at all, Mr Daly. I look upon that as done and gone; bad luck to Blake and McMahon, both. The truth is, between you and me, Daly I don’t mind telling you; as I hope now you will become my man of business, and it’s only fair you should know all about it the truth is, Blake was more interested on the other side, and he was determined the case shouldn’t go before the Chancellor. But, when my father signed that will, it was just after one of those fits he had lately; that could be proved, and he didn’t know what he was doing, from Adam! He didn’t know what was in the will, nor, that he was signing a will at all; so help me, he didn’t. However, that’s over. It wasn’t to talk about that that I sent for you; only, sorrow seize the rogue that made the old man rob me! It wasn’t Anty herself, poor creature; she knew nothing about it; it was those who meant to get hold of my money, through her, that did it. Poor Anty! Heaven knows she wasn’t up to such a dodge as that!’
‘Well, Mr Lynch, of course I know nothing of the absolute facts; but from what I hear, I think it’s as well to let the will alone. The Chancellor won’t put a will aside in a hurry; it’s always a difficult job would cost an immense sum of money, which should, any way, come out of the property; and, after all, the chances are ten to one you’d be beat.’
‘Perhaps you’re right, now; though I’m sure, had the matter been properly taken up at first had you seen the whole case at the first start, the thing could have been done. I’m sure you would have said so; but that’s over now; it’s another business I want you for. But you don’t drink your punch! and it’s dry work talking, without wetting one’s whistle,’ and Barry carried out his own recommendation.
‘I’m doing very well, thank ye, Mr Lynch. And what is it I can do for you?’
‘That’s what I’m coming to. You know that, by the will, my sister Anty gets from four to five hundred a year?’
‘I didn’t know the amount; but I believe she has half whatever there is.’
‘Exactly: half the land, half the cash, half the house, half everything, except the debts! and those were contracted in my name, and I must pay them all. Isn’t that hard, Mr Daly?’
‘I didn’t know your father had debts.’
‘Oh, but he had debts which ought to have been his; though, as I said, they stand in my name, and I must pay them.’
‘And, I suppose, what you now want is to saddle the debts on the entire property? If you can really prove that the debts were incurred for your father’s benefit, I should think you might do that. But has your sister refused to pay the half? They can’t be heavy. Won’t Miss Lynch agree to pay the half herself?’
This last lie of Barry’s for, to give the devil his due, old Sim hadn’t owed one penny for the last twenty years was only a bright invention of the moment, thrown off by our injured hero to aggravate the hardships of his case; but he was determined to make the most of it.
‘Not heavy? faith, they are heavy, and d d heavy too, Mr Daly! what’ll take two hundred a-year out of my miserable share of the property; divil a less. Oh! there’s never any knowing how a man’ll cut up till he’s gone.’
‘That’s true; but how could your father owe such a sum as that, and no one know it? Why, that must be four or five thousand pounds?’
‘About five, I believe.’
‘And you’ve put your name to them, isn’t that it?’
‘Something like it. You know, he and Lord Ballindine, years ago, were fighting about the leases we held under the old Lord; and then, the old man wanted ready money, and borrowed it in Dublin; and, some years since that is, about three years ago, sooner than see any of the property sold, I took up the debt myself. You know, it was all as good as my own then; and now, confound it! I must pay the whole out of the miserable thing that’s left me under this infernal will. But it wasn’t even about that I sent for you; only, I must explain exactly how matters are, before I come to the real point.’
‘But your father’s name must be joined with yours in the debt; and, if so, you can come upon the entire property for the payment. There’s no difficulty about that; your sister, of course, must pay the half.’
‘It’s not so, my dear fellow. I can’t explain the thing exactly, but it’s I that owe the money, and I must pay it. But it’s no good talking of that. Well, you see, Anty that’s my sister, has this property all in her own hands. But you don’t drink your punch,’ and Barry mixed his third tumbler.
‘Of course she has; and, surely she won’t refuse to pay half the claims on the estate?’
‘Never mind the claims!’ answered Barry, who began to fear that he had pushed his little invention a thought too far. ‘I tell you, I must stand to them; you don’t suppose I’d ask her to pay a penny as a favour? No; I’m a little too proud for that. Besides, it’d be no use, not the least; and that’s what I’m coming to. You see, Anty’s got this money, and . You know, don’t you, Mr Daly, poor Anty’s not just like other people?’
‘No,’ said Mr Daly ‘I didn’t. I can’t say I know much about Miss Lynch. I never had the pleasure of seeing her.’
‘But did you never hear she wasn’t quite right?’
‘Indeed, I never did, then.’
‘Well that’s odd; but we never had it much talked about, poor creature. Indeed, there was no necessity for people to know much about it, for she never gave any trouble; and, to tell the truth, as long as she was kept quiet, she never gave us occasion to think much about it. But, confound them for rogues those who have got. hold of her now, have quite upset her.’
‘But what is it ails your sister, Mr Lynch?’
‘To have it out, at once, then she’s not right in her upper story. Mind, I don’t mean she’s a downright lunatic; but she’s cracked, poor thing, and quite unable to judge for herself, in money-matters, and such like; and, though she might have done very well, poor thing, and passed without notice, if she’d been left quiet, as was always intended, I’m afraid now, unless she’s well managed, she’d end her life in the Ballinasloe Asylum.’
The attorney made no answer to this, although Barry paused, to allow him to do so. Daly was too sharp, and knew his employer’s character too well to believe all he said, and he now began to fancy that he saw what the affectionate brother was after. ‘Well, Daly,’ continued Barry, after a minute’s pause; ‘after the old man died, we went on quiet enough for some time. I was up in Dublin mostly, about that confounded loan, and poor Anty was left here by herself; and what should she do, but take up with a low huxter’s family in the town here.’
‘That’s bad,’ said the attorney. ‘Was there an unmarried young man among them at all?’
‘Faith there was so; as great a blackguard as there is in Connaught.’
‘And Miss Lynch is going to marry him?’
‘That’s just it, Daly; that’s what we must prevent. You know, for the sake of the family, I couldn’t let it go on. Then, poor creature, she’d be plundered and ill-treated she’d be a downright idiot in no time; and, you know, Daly, the property’d go to the devil; and where’d I be then?’
Daly couldn’t help thinking that, in all probability, his kind host would not be long in following the property; but he did not say so. He merely asked the name of the ‘blackguard’ whom Miss Anty meant to marry?
‘Wait till I tell you the whole of it. The first thing I heard was, that Anty had made a low ruffian, named Moylan, her agent.’
‘I know him; she couldn’t have done much worse. Well?’
‘She made him her agent without speaking to me, or telling me a word about it; and I couldn’t make out what had put it into her head, till I heard that this old rogue was a kind of cousin to some people living here, named Kelly.’
‘What, the widow, that keeps the inn?’
‘The very same! confound her, for an impertinent scheming old hag, as she is. Well; that’s the house that Anty was always going to; drinking tea with the daughters, and walking with the son an infernal young farmer, that lives with them, the worst of the whole set.’
‘What, Martin Kelly? There’s worse fellows than him, Mr Lynch.’
‘I’ll be hanged if I know them, then; but if there are, I don’t choose my poor sister only one remove from an idiot, and hardly that to be carried off from her mother’s house, and married to such a fellow as that. Why, it’s all the same infernal plot; it’s the same people that got the old man to sign the will, when he was past his senses!’
‘Begad, they must have been clever to do that! How the deuce could .they have got the will drawn?’
‘I tell you, they did do it!’ answered Barry, whose courage was now somewhat raised by the whiskey. ‘That’s neither here nor there, but they did it; and, when the old fool was dead, they got this Moylan made Anty’s agent: and then, the hag of a mother comes up here, before daylight, and bribes the servant, and carries her off down to her filthy den, which she calls an inn; and when I call to see my sister, I get nothing but insolence and abuse.’
‘And when did this happen? When did Miss Lynch leave the house?’
‘Yesterday morning, about four o’clock.’
‘She went down of her own accord, though?’
‘D l a bit. The old hag came up here, and filched her out of her bed.’
‘But she couldn’t have taken your sister away, unless she had wished to go.’
‘Of course she wished it; but a silly creature like her can’t be let to do all she wishes.. She wishes to get a husband, and doesn’t care what sort of a one she gets; but you don’t suppose an old maid forty years old, who has always been too stupid and foolish ever to be seen or spoken to, should be allowed to throw away four hundred a-year, on the first robber that tries to cheat her? You don’t mean to say there isn’t a law to prevent that?’
‘I don’t know how you’ll prevent it, Mr Lynch. She’s her own mistress.’
‘What the d l! Do you mean to say there’s nothing to prevent an idiot like that from marrying?’
‘If she was an idiot! But I think you’ll find your sister has sense enough to marry whom she pleases.’
‘I tell you she is an idiot; not raving, mind; but everybody knows she was never fit to manage anything.’
‘Who’d prove it!’
‘Why, I would. Divil a doubt of it! I could prove that she never could, all her life.’
‘Ah, my dear Sir! you couldn’t do it; nor could I advise you to try that is, unless there were plenty more who could swear positively that she was out of her mind. Would the servants swear that? Could you yourself, now, positively swear that she was out of her mind?’
‘Why she never had any mind to be out of.’
‘Unless you are very sure she is, and, for a considerable time back, has been, a confirmed lunatic, you’d be very wrong very ill-advised, I mean, Mr Lynch, to try that game at all. Things would come out which you wouldn’t like; and your motives would be — would be —’ seen through at once, the attorney was on the point of saying, but he stopped himself, and finished by the words ‘called in question’.
‘And I’m to sit here, then, and see that young blackguard Kelly, run off with what ought to be my own, and my sister into the bargain? I’m blessed if I do! If you can’t put me in the way of stopping it, I’ll find those that can.’
‘You’re getting too much in a hurry, Mr Lynch. Is your sister at the inn now?’
‘To be sure she is.’
‘And she is engaged to this young man?’
‘Why, then, she might be married to him tomorrow, for anything you know.’
‘She might, if he was here. But they tell me he’s away, in Dublin.’
‘If they told you so today, they told you wrong: he came into Dunmore, from Tuam, on the same car with myself, this very afternoon.’
‘What, Martin Kelly? Then he’ll be off with her this night, while we’re sitting here!’ and Barry jumped up, as if to rush out, and prevent the immediate consummation of his worst fears.
‘Stop a moment, Mr Lynch,’ said the more prudent and more sober lawyer. ‘If they were off, you couldn’t follow them; and, if you did follow and find them, you couldn’t prevent their being married, if such were their wish, and they had a priest ready to do it. Take my advice; remain quiet where you are, and let’s talk the matter over. As for taking out a commission “de lunatico”, as we call it, you’ll find you couldn’t do it. Miss Lynch may be a little weak or so in the upper story, but she’s not a lunatic; and you couldn’t make her so, if you had half Dunmore to back you, because she’d be brought before the Commissioners herself, and that, you know, would soon settle the question. But you might still prevent the marriage, for a time, at any rate at least, I think so; and, after that, you must trust to the chapter of accidents.’
‘So help me, that’s all I want! If I got her once up here again, and was sure the thing was off, for a month or so, let me alone, then, for bringing her to reason!’
As Daly watched his comrade’s reddening face, and saw the malicious gleam of his eyes as he declared how easily he’d manage the affair, if poor Anty was once more in the house, his heart misgave him, even though he was a sharp attorney, at the idea of assisting such a cruel brute in his cruelty; and, for a moment, he had determined to throw up the matter. Barry was so unprincipled, and so wickedly malicious in his want of principle, that he disgusted even Daly. But, on second thoughts, the lawyer remembered that if he didn’t do the job, another would; and, quieting his not very violent qualms of conscience with the idea that, though employed by the brother, he might also, to a certain extent, protect the sister, he proceeded to give his advice as to the course which would be most likely to keep the property out of the hands of the Kellys.
He explained to Barry that, as Anty had left her own home in company with Martin’s mother, and as she now was a guest at the widow’s, it was unlikely that any immediate clandestine marriage should be resorted to; that their most likely course would be to brazen the matter out, and have the wedding solemnised without any secrecy, and without any especial notice to him, Barry. That, on the next morning, a legal notice should be prepared in Tuam, and served on the widow, informing her that it was his intention to indict her for conspiracy, in enticing away from her own home his sister Anty, for the purpose of obtaining possession of her property, she being of weak mind, and not able properly to manage her own affairs; that a copy of this notice should also be sent to Martin, warning him that he would be included in the indictment if he took any proceedings with regard to Miss Lynch; and that a further copy should, if possible, be put into the hands of Miss Lynch herself.
‘You may be sure that’ll frighten them,’ continued Daly; ‘and then, you know, when we see what sort of fight they make, we’ll be able to judge whether we ought to go on and prosecute or not. I think the widow’ll be very shy of meddling, when she finds you’re in earnest. And you see, Mr Lynch,’ he went on, dropping his voice, ‘if you do go into court, as I don’t think you will, you’ll go with clean hands, as you ought to do. Nobody can say anything against you for trying to prevent your sister from marrying a man so much younger than herself, and so much inferior in station and fortune; you won’t seem to gain anything by it, and that’s everything with a jury; and then, you know, if it comes out that Miss Lynch’s mind is rather touched, it’s an additional reason why you should protect her from intriguing and interested schemers. Don’t you see?’
Barry did see, or fancied he saw, that he had now got the Kellys in a dead fix, and Anty back into his own hands again; and his self-confidence having been fully roused by his potations, he was tolerably happy, and talked very loudly of the manner in which he would punish those low-bred huxters, who had presumed to interfere with him in the management of his family.
Towards the latter end of the evening, he became even more confidential, and showed the cloven foot, if possible, more undisguisedly than he had hitherto done. He spoke of the impossibility of allowing four hundred a year to be carried off from him, and suggested to Daly that his sister would soon drop off, that there would then be a nice thing left, and that he, Daly, should have the agency, and if he pleased, the use of Dunmore House. As for himself, he had no idea of mewing himself up in such a hole as that; but, before he went, he’d take care to drive that villain, Moylan, out of the place. ‘The cursed villany of those Kellys, to go and palm such a robber as that off on his sister, by way of an agent!’
To all this, Daly paid but little attention, for he saw that his host was drunk. But when Moylan’s name was mentioned, he began to think that it might be as well either to include him in the threatened indictment, or else, which would be better still, to buy him over to their side, as they might probably learn from him what Martin’s plans really were. Barry was, however, too tipsy to pay much attention to this, or to understand any deep-laid plans. So the two retired to their beds, Barry determined, as he declared to the attorney in his drunken friendship, to have it out of Anty, when he caught her; and Daly promising to go to Tuarn early in the morning, have the notices prepared and served, and come back in the evening to dine and sleep, and have, if possible, an interview with Mr Moylan. As he undressed, he reflected that, during his short professional career, he had been thrown into the society of many unmitigated rogues of every description; but that his new friend, Barry Lynch, though he might not equal them in energy of villany and courage to do serious evil, beat them all hollow in selfishness, and utter brutal want of feeling, conscience, and principle.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01