Upon the evening of the same day, the Italian having collected together the few movables which he called his own, and left them ready for removal in the chamber which he had for so long exclusively occupied, might have been seen, emerging from the old manor-house, and with a small parcel in his hand, wending his solitary, moon-lit way across the broad wooded pasture-lands of Morley Court. Without turning to look back upon the familiar scene, which he was now for ever leavingfor all his faculties and feelings, such as they were, had busy occupation in the measures of revenge which he was keenly pursuing, he crossed the little stile which terminated the pathway he was following, and descended upon the public roadshaking from his hat and cloak the heavy drops, which in his progress the close underwood through which he brushed had shed upon him. With a quickened pace, and with a stern, almost a savage countenance, over which from time to time there flitted a still more ominous smile, and muttering between his teeth many a short and vehement apostrophe as he went, he held his way directly toward the city of Dublin; and once within the streets, he was not long in reaching the ancient, and by this time to the reader, familiar mansion, over whose portal swung the glittering sign of the Cock and Anchor.
Now, then, thought Parucci, let us see whether I have not one card left, and that a trump. What, because I wear no sword myself, shall you escape unpunished? Foolmiscreant, I will this night conjure up such an avenger as will appal even you; I will send him with a thousand atrocious wrongs upon his head, frantic into your presenceyou had better cope with an actual incarnate demon.
Such were the exulting thoughts which lighted the features of Parucci with a fitful smile of singular grimness as he entered the inn yard, where meeting one of the waiters, he
p.164promptly inquired for O'Connor. To his dismay, however, he learnt that that gentleman had quitted the Cock and Anchor on the day before, and whither he had gone, none could inform him. As he stood, pondering in bitter disappointment what step was next to be taken, somebody tapped his shoulder smartly from behind. He turned, and beheld the square form and swarthy features of O'Hanlon, whose interview with O'Connor is recorded early in these pages. After a few brief questions and answers, in which, by a reference to the portly proprietor of the Cock and Anchor, who vouched for the accuracy of his representations, O'Hanlon satisfied the vindictive foreigner that he might safely communicate the subject of his intended communication to him, as to the sure friend of Mr. O'Connor. Both personages, Parucci and O'Hanlonor, as he was there called, Dwyerrepaired to a private room, where they remained closeted for fully half an hour. That interview had its consequencesconsequences of which sooner or later the reader shall fully hear, and which were perhaps somewhat unlike those calculated upon by honest Jacopo.
It is not necessary to detain the reader with a description of the ceremonial which conducted the mortal remains of Sir Henry Ashwoode to the grave. It is enough to say that if pomp and pageantry, lavished upon the fleeting tenement of clay which it has deserted, can delight the departed spirit, that of the deceased baronet was happy. The funeral was an aristocratic procession, well worthy of the rank and pretensions of the distinguished dead, and in numbers and éclat such as to satisfy even the exactions of Irish pride.
Carriages and four were there in abundance, and others of lesser note without number. Outriders, and footmen, and corpulent coachmen filled the court and avenue of the manor, and crowded its hall, where refreshments enough for a garrison were heaped together upon the tables. The funeral feasting and revelry finished, the enormous mob of coaches, horses, and lacqueys began to arrange itself, and assume something like order. The great velvet-covered coffin was carried out upon the shoulders of six footmen, staggering under the leaden load, and was laid in the hearse. The highborn company, dressed in the fantastic trappings of mourning, began to show themselves one by one, or in groups, at the hall-door, and took their places in their respective vehicles; and at length the enormous volume began to uncoil, and gradually passing down the great avenue, and winding along the road, to proceed toward the city, covering from the coffin to the last carriage a space of more than a mile in length.
The body was laid in the aisle of St. Audoen's Church, and a comely monument, recording in eloquent periods the virtues
p.165of the deceased, was reared by the piety of his son. The aisle, however, in which it stood, is now a roofless ruin; and this, along with many a more curious relic, has crumbled into dust from its time-worn wall: so that there now remains, except in these idle pages, no record to tell posterity that so important a personage as Sir Richard Ashwoode ever existed at all.
Of all who donned the customary suit of solemn black upon the death of Sir Richard Ashwoode, but one human being felt a pang of sorrow. But there was one whose grief was real and poignantone who mourned for him as though he had been all that was fond and tenderwho forgot and forgave all his faults and failings, and remembered only that he had been her father and she his child, and companion, and gentle, patient nurse-tender through many an hour of pain and sickness. Mary wept for his death bitterly for many a day and night; for all that he had ever done or said to give her pain, her noble nature found entire forgiveness, and every look, and smile, and word, and tone that had ever borne the semblance of kindness, were all treasured in her memory, and all called up again in affectionate and sorrowful review. Seldom indeed had the hard nature of Sir Richard evinced even such transient indications of tenderness, and when they did appear they were still more rarely genuine. But Mary felt that an object of her kindly care and companionship was gonea familiar face tor ever hiddenone of the only two who were near to her in the ties of blood, departed to return no more, and with all the deep, strong yearnings of kindred, she wept and mourned after her father.
Emily Copland had left Morley Court and was now residing with her gay relative, Lady Stukely, so that poor Mary was left almost entirely alone, and her brother, Sir Henry, was so immersed in business and papers that she scarcely saw him even for a moment except while he swallowed bis hasty meals; and sooth to say, his thoughts were not much oftener with her than his person.
Though, as the reader is no doubt fully aware, Sir Henry's grief for the loss of his parent was by no means of that violent kind which refuses to be comforted, yet he was too chary of the world's opinion, as well as too punctilious an observer of etiquette, to make the cheerfulness of his resignation under this dispensation startlingly apparent by any overt act of levity or indifference. Sir Henry, however, must see Gordon Chancey; he must ascertain how much he owes him, and when it is all payablefacts of which he has, if any, the very dimmest and vaguest possible recollection. Therefore, upon the very day on which the funeral had taken place, as soon as the evening had closed, and darkness succeeded the twilight, the young baronet ordered his trusty servant to bring
p.166the horses to the door, and then muffling himself in his cloak, and drawing it about his face, so that even in the reflection of an accidental link he might not by possibility be recognized, he threw himself into the saddle, and telling his servant to follow him, rode rapidly through the dense obscurity towards the town.
When he had reached Whitefriar Street, he checked his pace to a walk, and calling his attendant to his side, directed him to await his return there; then dismounting, he threw him the bridle, and proceeded upon his way. Guided by the hazy starlight and by an occasional gleam from a shop-window or tavern-door, as well as by the dusky glimmer of the wretched street lamps, the young man directed his course for some way along the open street, and then turning to the right into a dark archway which opened from it, he found himself in a small, square court, surrounded by tall, dingy, half-ruinous houses which loomed darkly around, deepening the shadows of the night into impenetrable gloom. From some of these dilapidated tenements issued smothered sounds of quarrelling, indistinctly mingled with the crying of children and the shrill accents of angry females; from others the sounds of discordant singing and riotous carousal; while, as far as the eye could discern, few places could have been conceived with an aspect more dreary, forbidding, and cut-throat, and, in all respects, more depressing and suspicious.
This is unquestionably the place, exclaimed Ashwoode, as he stepped cautiously over the broken pavement; there is scarcely another like it in this town or any other; but beshrew me if I remember which is the house.
He entered one of them, the hall-door of which stood half open, and through the chinks of whose parlour-door were issuing faint streams of light and gruff sounds of talking. At one of these doors he knocked sharply with his whip-handle, and instantly the voices were hushed. After a silence of a minute or two, the parties inside resumed their conversation, and Ashwoode more impatiently repeated his summons.
There is someone knockingI tould you there was, exclaimed a harsh voice from within. Open the doore, Corny, and take a squint.
The door opened cautiously; a great head, covered with shaggy elf-locks, was thrust through the aperture, and a singularly ill-looking face, as well as the imperfect light would allow Ashwoode to judge, was advanced towards his. The fellow just opened the door far enough to suffer the ray of the candle to fall upon the countenance of his visitant, and staring suspiciously into his face for some time, while he held the lock of the door in his hand, he asked,
p.167Well, neighbour, did you rap at this doore?
No, he won't slap the doore, exclaimed the shrill voice of a female. I'll see the gentleman myself. Well, sir, she cried, presenting a tall, raw-boned figure, arrayed in tawdry rags, at the door, and shoving the man with the unkempt locks aside, she eyed Ashwoode with a leer and a grin that were anything but inviting well, sir, is there anything I can do for you. The chaps here is not used to quality, an' Pather has a mighty ignorant manner; but they are placible boys, an' manes no offence. Who is it you're lookin' for, sir?
Mr. Gordon Chancey: he lives in one of these houses. Can you direct me to him?
No, we can't, said the fellow from the fire, in a savage tone. I tould you before. Won't you take your answerwon't you? Slap that doore, Corny, or I'll get up to him myself.
Hould your tongue, you gaol bird, won't you? rejoined the female, in accents of shrill displeasure. Chancey! is not he the counsellor gentleman; he has a yallow face an' a down look, and never has his hands out of his breeches' pockets?
The very man, replied Ashwoode.
Well, sir, he does live in this court: he has the parlour next doore. The street doore stands openit's a lodging- house. One doore further on; you can't miss him.
Thank you, thank you, said Ashwoode. Good-night. And as the door was closed upon him, he heard the voices of those within raised in hot debate. He stumbled and groped his way into the hall of the house which the gracious nymph, to whom he had just bidden farewell, indicated, and knocked stoutly at the parlour-door. It was opened by a sluttish girl, with bare feet, and a black eye, which had reached the green and yellow stage of recovery. She had probably been interrupted in the midst of a spirited
p.168altercation with the barrister, for ill humour and excitement were unequivocally glowing in her face.
Ashwoode walked in, and found matters as we shall describe them in the next chapter.