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The Black Baronet; or, The Chronicles Of Ballytrain, a novel by William Carleton

Chapter 39. Fenton Recovered--The Mad-House

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_ CHAPTER XXXIX. Fenton Recovered--The Mad-House

Sir Thomas Gourlay, on his return with the special license, was informed by the same servant who had admitted the stranger, that a gentleman awaited him in the drawing-room.

"Who is he, M'Gregor?"

"I don't know, sir; he paid you a visit once at Red Hall, I think."

"How could I know him by that, you blockhead?"

"He's the gentleman, sir, you had hot words with."

"That I kicked out one day? Crackenfudge, eh?"

"No, faith, sir; not Crackenfudge. I know him well enough; and devil a kick your honor gave him but I wished was nine. This is a very different man, sir; and I believe you had warm words with him too, sir."

"Oh!" exclaimed his master; "I remember. Is he above?"

"I believe so, sir."

A strange and disagreeable feeling came over the baronet on hearing these words--a kind of presentiment, as it were, of something unpleasant and adverse to his plans. On entering the drawing-room, however, he was a good deal surprised to find that there was nobody there; and after a moment's reflection, a fearful suspicion took possession of him; he rang the bell furiously.

Gibson, who had been out, now entered.

"Where is Miss Gourlay, sir?" asked his master, with eyes kindled by rage and alarm.

"I was out, sir," replied Gibson, "and cannot tell."

"You can never tell anything, you scoundrel. For a thousand, she's off with him again, and all's ruined. Here, Matthews--M'Gregor--call the servants, sir. Where's her maid?--call her maid. What a confounded fool--ass--I was, not to have made that impudent baggage tramp about her business. It's true, Lucy's off--I feel it--I felt it. Hang her hypocrisy! It's the case, however, with all women. They have neither truth, nor honesty of purpose. A compound of treachery, deceit, and dissimulation; and yet I thought, if there was a single individual of her sex exempted from their vices, that she was that individual. Come here, M'Gregor--come here you scoundrel--do you know where Miss Gourlay is? or her maid?"

"Here's Matthews, sir; he says she's gone out."

"Gone out!--Yes, she's gone out with a vengeance. Do you know where she's gone, sirra? And did any one go with her?" he added, addressing himself to Matthews.

"I think, sir, she's gone to take her usual airing in the carriage."

"Who was with her?"

"No one but her maid, sir."

"Oh, no; they would not go off together--that would be too open and barefaced. Do you know what direction she took?"

"No, sir; I didn't observe."

"You stupid old lout," replied the baronet, flying at him, and mauling the unfortunate man without mercy; "take that--and that--and that--for your stupidity. Why did you not observe the way she went, you! villain? You have suffered her to elope, you hound! You have all suffered her to elope with a smooth-faced impostor--a fellow whom no one knows--a blackleg--a swindler--a thief--a--a--go and saddle half a dozen horses, and seek her in all directions. Go instantly, and--hold--easy--stop--hang you all, stop!--here she is--and her maid with her--" he exclaimed, looking out of the window. "Ha! I am relieved. God bless me! God bless me!" He then looked at the servants with something of deprecation in his face, and waving his hand, said, "Go--go quietly; and, observe me--not a word of this--not a syllable--for your lives!"

His anger, however, was only checked in mid-volley. The idea of her having received a clandestine visit from her lover during his absence rankled at his heart; and although satisfied that she was still safe, and in his power, he could barely restrain his temper within moderate limits. Nay, he felt angry at her for the alarm she had occasioned him, and the passion he had felt at her absence.

"Well, Lucy," said he, addressing her, as she entered, in a voice chafed with passion, "have you taken your drive?"

"Yes, papa," she replied; "but it threatened rain, and we returned earlier that usual."

"You look pale."

"I dare say I do, sir. I want rest--repose;" and she reclined on a lounger as she spoke. "It is surprising, papa, how weak I am!"

"Not too weak, Lucy, to receive a stolen visit, eh?"

Lucy immediately sat up, and replied with surprise, "A stolen visit, sir? I don't understand you, papa."

"Had you not a visitor here, in my absence?"

"I had, sir, but the visit was intended for you. Our interview was perfectly accidental."

"Ah! faith, Lucy, it was too well timed to be accidental. I'm not such a fool as that comes to. Accidental, indeed! Lucy, you should not say so."

"I am not in the habit of stating an untruth, papa. The visit, sir--I should rather say, the interview--was purely accidental; but I am glad it took place."

"The deuce you are! That is a singular acknowledgment, Lucy, I think."

"It is truth, sir, notwithstanding. I was anxious to see him, that I might acquaint him with the change that has taken place in my unhappy destiny. If I had not seen him, I should have asked your permission to write to him."

"Which I would not have given."

"I would have submitted my letter to you, sir."

"Even so; I would not have consented."

"Well, then, sir, as truth and honor demanded that act from me, I would haye sent it without your consent. Excuse me for saying this, papa; but you need not be told that there are some peculiar cases where duty to a parent must yield to truth and honor."

"Some peculiar cases! On the contrary, the cases you speak of are the general rule, my girl--the general rule--and rational obedience to a parent the exception. Where is there a case--and there are millions--where a parent's wish and will are set at naught and scorned, in which the same argument is not used? I do not relish these discussions, however. What I wish to impress upon you is this--you must see this fellow no more."

Lucy's temples were immediately in a blaze. "Are you aware, papa, that you insult and degrade your daughter, by applying such a term to him? If you will not spare him, sir, spare me; for I assure you that I feel anything said against him with ten times more emotion than if it were uttered against myself."

"Well, well; he's a fine fellow, a gentleman, a lord; but, be he what he may, you must see him no more."

"It is not my intention, papa, to see him again."

"You must not write to him."

"It will not be necessary."

"But you must not."

"Well, then, I shall not."

"Nor receive kis letters."

"Nor receive his letters, knowing them to be his."

"You promise all this?"

"I do, sir, faithfully. I hope you are now satisfied, papa?"

"I am, Lucy--I am. You are not so bad a girl as I sus--no, you are a very good girl; and when I see you the Countess of Cullamore, I shall not have a single wish un-gratified."

Lucy, indeed, poor girl, was well and vigilantly guarded. No communication, whether written or otherwise, was permitted to reach her; nor, if she had been lodged in the deepest dungeon in Europe, and secured by the strongest bolts that ever enclosed a prisoner, could she have been more rigidly excluded from all intercourse, her father's and her maid's only excepted.

Her lover, on receiving the documents so often alluded to from old Corbet, immediately transmitted to her a letter of hope and encouragement, in which he stated that the object he had alluded to was achieved, and that he would take care to place such documents before her father, as must cause even him to forbid the bans. This letter, however, never reached her. Neither did a similar communication from Mrs. Mainwaring, who after three successive attempts to see either her or her father, was forced at last to give up all hope of preventing the marriage. She seemed, indeed, to have been fated.

In the meantime, the stranger, having, as he imagined, relieved Lucy's mind from her dreaded union with Dunroe, and left the further and more complete disclosure of that young nobleman's position to Mrs. Mainwaring, provided himself with competent legal authority to claim the person of unfortunate Fenton. It is unnecessary to describe his journey to the asylum in which the wretched young man was placed; it is enough to say that he arrived there at nine o'clock in the morning, accompanied by old Corbet and three officers of justice, who remained in the carriage; and on asking to see the proprietor, was shown into a parlor, where he found that worthy gentleman reading a newspaper.

This fellow was one of those men who are remarkable for thick, massive, and saturnine features. At a first glance he was not at all ill-looking; but, on examining his beetle brows, which met in a mass of black thick hair across his face, and on watching the dull, selfish, cruel eyes that they hung over--dead as they were to every generous emotion, and incapable of kindling even at cruelty itself--it was impossible for any man in the habit of observing nature closely not to feel that a brutal ruffian, obstinate, indurated, and unscrupulous, was before him. His forehead was low but broad, and the whole shape of his head such as would induce an intelligent phrenologist to pronounce him at once a thief and a murderer.

The stranger, after a survey or two, felt his blood boil at the contemplation of his very visage, which was at once plausible and diabolical in expression. After some preliminary chat the latter said:

"Your establishment, sir, is admirably situated here. It is remote and isolated; and these, I suppose, are advantages?"

"Why, yes, sir," replied the doctor, "the further we remove our patients from human society, the better. The exhibition of reason has, in general, a bad effect upon the insane."

"Upon what principle do you account for that?" asked the stranger. "To me it would appear that the reverse of the proposition ought to hold true."

"That may be," replied the other; "but no man can form a correct opinion of insane persons who has not mingled with them, or had them under his care. The contiguity of reason--I mean in the persons of those who approach them--always exercises a dangerous influence upon lunatics; and on this account, I sometimes place those who are less insane as keepers upon such as are decidedly so."

"Does not that, sir, seem very like setting the blind to lead the blind?"

"No," replied the other, with a heavy, I heartless laugh, "your analogy fails; it is rather like setting a man with one eye to guide another who has none."

"But why should not a man who has two guide him better?"

"Because the consciousness that there is but the one eye between both of them, will make him proceed more cautiously."

"But that in the blind is an act of reason," replied the stranger, "which cannot be applied to the insane, in whom reason is deficient."

"But where reason does not exist," said the doctor, "we must regulate them by the passions."

"By the exercise of which passion do you gain the greatest ascendency over them?" asked the stranger.

"By fear, of course. We can do nothing, at least very little, without inspiring terror."

"Ah," thought the stranger, "I have now got the key to his conduct!--But, sir," he added, "we never fear and love the same object at the same time."

"True enough, sir," replied the ruffian; "but who could or ought to calculate upon the attachment of a madman? Boys are corrected more frequently than men, because their reason is not developed: and those in whom it does not exist, or in whom it has been impaired, must be subjected to the same discipline. Terror, besides, is the principle upon which reason itself, and all society, are governed."

"But suppose I had a brother, now, or a relative, might I not hesitate to place him in an establishment conducted on principles which I condemn?"

"As to that, sir," replied the fellow, who, expecting a patient, feared that he had gone too far, "our system is an adaptable one; at least, our application of it varies according to circumstances. As our first object is cure, we must necessarily allow ourselves considerable latitude of experiment until we hit upon the right key. This being found, the process of recovery, when it is possible, may be conducted with as much mildness as the absence of reason will admit. We are mild, when we can, and severe only where we must."

"Shuffling scoundrel!" thought the stranger. "I perceive in this language the double dealing of an unprincipled villain.--Would you have any objection, sir," he said, "that I should look through your establishment?"

"I can conduct you through the convalescent wards," replied the doctor; "but, as I said, we find that the appearance of strangers--which is what I meant by the contiguity of reason--is attended with very bad, and sometimes deplorable consequences. Under all circumstances it retards a cure, under others occasions a relapse, and in some accelerates the malady so rapidly that it becomes hopeless. You may see the convalescent ward, however--that is, if you wish."

"You will oblige me," said the stranger.

"Well, then," said he, "if you will remain here a moment, I will send a gentleman who will accompany you, and explain the characters of some of the patients, should you desire it, and also the cause of their respective maladies."

He then disappeared, and in a few minutes a mild, intelligent, gentlemanly man, of modest and unassuming manners, presented himself, and said he would feel much pleasure in showing him the convalescent side of the house. The stranger, however, went out and brought old Corbet in from the carriage, where he and the officers had been sitting; and this he did at Corbet's own request.

It is not our intention to place before our readers any lengthened description of this gloomy temple of departed reason. Every one who enters a lunatic asylum for the first time, must feel a wild and indescribable emotion, such as he has never before experienced, and which amounts to an extraordinary sense of solemnity and fear. Nor do the sensations of the stranger rest here. He feels as if he were surrounded by something sacred as well as melancholy, something that creates at once pity, reverence, and awe. Indeed, so strongly antithetical to each other are his first impressions, that a kind of confusion arises in his mind, and he begins to fear that his senses have been affected by the atmosphere of the place. That a shock takes place which slightly disarranges the faculty of thought, and generates strong but erroneous impressions, is still more clearly established by the fact that the visitor, for a considerable time after leaving an asylum, can scarcely rid himself of the belief that every person he meets is insane.

The stranger, on entering the long room in which the convalescents were assembled, felt, in the silence of the patients, and in their vague and fantastic movements, that he was in a position where novelty, in general the source of pleasure, was here associated only with pain. Their startling looks, the absence of interest in some instances, and its intensity in others, at the appearance of strangers, without any intelligent motive in either case, produced a feeling that seemed to bear the character of a disagreeable dream.

"All the patients here," said his conductor, "are not absolutely in a state of convalescence. A great number of them are; but we also allow such confirmed lunatics as are harmless to mingle with them. There is scarcely a profession, or a passion, or a vanity in life, which has not here its representative. Law, religion, physic, the arts, the sciences, all contribute their share to this melancholy picture gallery. Avarice, love, ambition, pride, jealousy, having overgrown the force of reason, are here, as its ideal skeletons, wild and gigantic--fretting, gambolling, moping, grinning, raving, and vaporing--each wrapped in its own Vision, and indifferent to all the influence of the collateral faculties. There, now, is a man, moping about, the very picture of stolidity; observe how his heavy head hangs down until his chin rests upon his breastbone, his mouth open and almost dribbling. That man, sir, so unpoetical and idiotic in appearance, imagines himself the author of Beattie's 'Minstrel' He is a Scotchman, and I shall call him over."

"Come here, Sandy, speak to this gentleman."

Sandy, without raising his lack-lustre eye, came over and replied, "Aw--ay--'Am the author o' Betty's Menstrel;" and having uttered this piece of intelligence, he shuffled across the room, dragging one foot after the other, at about a quarter of a minute per step. Never was poor Beattie so libellously represented.

"Do you see that round-faced, good-humored looking man, with a decent frieze coat on?" said their conductor. "He's a wealthy and respectable farmer from the county of Kilkenny, who imagines that he is Christ. His name is Rody Rafferty."

"Come here, Rody."

Rody came over, and looking at the stranger, said, "Arra, now, do you know who I am? Troth, I go bail you don't."

"No," replied the stranger, "I do not; but I hope you will tell me."

"I'm Christ," replied Rody; "and, upon my word, if you don't get out o' this, I'll work a miracle on you."

"Why," asked the stranger, "what will you do?"

"Troth, I'll turn you into a blackin' brush, and polish my shoes wid you. You were at Barney's death, too."

The poor man had gone deranged, it seemed, by the violent death of his only child--a son.

"There's another man," said the conductor; "that little fellow with the angry face. He is a shoemaker, who went mad on the score of humanity. He took a strong feeling of resentment against all who had flat feet, and refused to make shoes for them."

"How was that?" inquired the stranger.

"Why, sir," said the other, smiling, "he said that they murdered the clocks (beetles), and he looked upon every man with flat feet as an inhuman villain, who deserves, he says, to have his feet chopped off, and to be compelled to dance a hornpipe three times a day on his stumps."

"Who is that broad-shouldered man," asked the stranger, "dressed in rusty black, with the red head?"

"He went mad," replied the conductor, "on a principle of religious charity. He is a priest from the county of Wexford, who had been called in to baptize the child of a Protestant mother, which, having done, he seized a tub, and placing it on the child's neck, killed it; exclaiming, 'I am now sure of having sent one soul to heaven.'"

"You are not without poets here, of course?" said the stranger.

"We have, unfortunately," replied the other, "more individuals of that class than we can well manage. They ought to have an asylum for themselves. There's a fellow, now, he in the tattered jacket and nightcap, who has written a heroic poem, of eighty-six thousand verses, which he entitles 'Balaam's Ass, or the Great Unsaddled.' Shall I call him over?"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, no," replied the stranger; "keep me from the poets."

"There is one of the other species," replied the gentleman, "the thin, red-eyed fellow, who grinds his teeth. He fancies himself a wit and a satirist, and is the author of an unpublished poem, called 'The Smoking Dunghill, or Parnassus in a Fume.' He published several things, which were justly attacked on account of their dulness, and he is now in an awful fury against all the poets of the day, to every one of whom he has given an appropriate position on the sublime pedestal, which he has, as it were, with his own hands, erected for them. He certainly ought to be the best constructor of a dunghill in the world, for he deals in nothing but dirt. He refuses to wash his hands, because, he says, it would disqualify him from giving the last touch to his poem and his characters."

"Have you philosophers as well as poets here?" asked the stranger.

"Oh dear, yes, sir. We have poetical philosophers, and philosophical poets; but, I protest to heaven, the wisdom of Solomon, or of an archangel, could not decide the difference between their folly. There's a man now, with the old stocking in his hand--it is one of his own, for you may observe that he has one leg bare--who is pacing up and down in a deep thinking mood. That man, sir, was set mad by a definition of his own making."

"Well, let us hear it," said the stranger.

"Why, sir, he imagines that he has discovered a definition for 'nothing.' The definition, however, will make you smile."

"And what, pray, is it?"

"Nothing," he says, "is--a footless stocking without a leg; and maintains that he ought to hold the first rank as a philosopher for having invented the definition, and deserves a pension from the crown."

"Who are these two men dressed in black, walking arm in arm?" asked the stranger. "They appear to be clergymen."

"Yes, sir," replied his conductor, "so they are; two celebrated polemical controversialists, who, when they were at large, created by their attacks, each upon the religion of the other, more ill-will, rancor and religious animosity, than either of their religions, with all their virtues, could remove. It is impossible to describe the evil they did. Ever since they came here, however, they are like brothers. They were placed in the same room, each in a strong strait-waistcoat, for the space of three months; but on being allowed to walk about, they became sworn friends, and now amuse themselves more than any other two in the establishment. They indulge in immoderate fits of laughter, look each other knowingly in the face, wink, and run the forefinger up the nose, after which their mirth bursts out afresh, and they laugh until the tears come down their cheeks."

The stranger, who during all this time was on the lookout for poor Fenton, as was old Corbet, could observe nobody who resembled him in the least.

"Have you females in your establishment?" he asked.

"No, sir," replied the gentleman; "but we are about to open an asylum for them in a detached building, which is in the course of being erected. Would you wish to hear any further details of these unhappy beings," he asked.

"No, sir," replied the stranger. "You are very kind and obliging, but I have heard enough for the present. Have you a person named Fenton in your establishment?"

"Not, sir, that I know of; he may be here, though; but you had better inquire from the proprietor himself, who--mark me, sir--I say--harkee--you have humanity in your face--will probably refuse to tell you whether he is here or not, or deny him altogether. Harkee, again, sir--the fellow is a villain--that is, entre nous, but mum's the word between us."

"I am sorry," replied the stranger, "to hear such a character of him from you, who should know him."

"Well, sir," replied the other, "let that pass--verbum sap. And now tell me, when have you been at the theater?"

"Not for some months," returned the other.

"Have you ever heard Catalani shake?"

"Yes," replied the stranger. "I have had that pleasure."

"Well, sir, I'm delighted that you have heard her, for there is but one man living who can rival her in the shake; and, sir, you have the honor of addressing that man."

This was said so mildly, calmly, rationally, and with that gentlemanlike air of undoubted respectability, which gives to an assertion such an impress of truth, that the stranger, confused as he was by what he had seen, felt it rather difficult to draw the line at the moment, especially in such society, between a sane man and an insane one.

"Would you wish, sir," said the guide, "to hear a specimen of my powers?"

"If you please," replied the stranger, "provided you will confine yourself to the shake."

The other then commenced a squall, so tuneless, wild, jarring, and unmusical, that the stranger could not avoid smiling at the monomaniac, for such he at once perceived him to be.

"You seem to like that," observed the other, apparently much gratified; "but I thought as much, sir--you are a man of taste."

"I am decidedly of opinion," said the stranger, "that Catalani, in her best days, could not give such a specimen of the shake as that."

"Thank you sir," replied the singer, taking off his hat and bowing. "We shall have another shake in honor of your excellent judgment, but it will be a shake of the hand. Sir, you are a polished and most accomplished gentleman."

As they sauntered up and down the room, other symptoms reached them besides those that were then subjected to their sight. As a door opened, a peal of wild laughter might be heard--sometimes groaning--and occasionally the most awful blasphemies. Ambition contributed a large number to its dreary cells. In fact, one would imagine that the house had been converted into a temple of justice, and contained within its walls most of the crowned heads and generals of Europe, both living and dead, together with a fair sample of the saints. The Emperor of Russia was strapped down to a chair that had been screwed into the floor, with the additional security of a strait-waistcoat to keep his majesty quiet. The Pope challenged Henry the Eighth to box, and St. Peter, as the cell door opened, asked Anthony Corbet for a glass of whiskey. Napoleon Bonaparte, in the person of a heroic tailor, was singing "Bob and Joan;" and the Archbishop of Dublin said he would pledge his mitre for a good cigar and a pot of porter. Sometimes a frightful yell would-reach their ears; then a furious set of howlings, followed again by peals of maniac laughter, as before. Altogether, the stranger was glad to withdraw, which he did, in order to prosecute his searches for Fenton.

"Well, sir," said the doctor, whom he found again in the parlor, "you have seen that melancholy sight?"

"I have, sir, and a melancholy one indeed it is; but as I came on a matter of business, doctor, I think we had better come to the point at once. You have a young man named Fenton in your establishment?"

"No, sir, we have no person of that name here."

"A wrong name may have been purposely given you, sir; but the person I speak of is here. And you had better understand me at once," he continued. "I am furnished with such authority as will force you to produce him."

"If he is not here, sir, no authority on earth can force me to produce him."

"We shall see that presently. Corbet, bring in the officers. Here, sir, is a warrant, by which I am empowered to search for his body; and, when found, to secure him, in order that he may be restored to his just rights, from which he has been debarred by a course of villany worthy of being concocted in hell itself."

"Family reasons, sir, frequently render it necessary that patients should enter this establishment under fictitious names. But these are matters with which I have nothing to do. My object is to comply with the wishes of their relatives."

"Your object, sir, should be to cure, rather than to keep them; to conduct your establishment as a house of recovery, not as a prison--of course, I mean where the patient is curable. I demand, sir, that you will find this young man, and produce him to me."

"But provided I cannot do so," replied the doctor, doggedly, "what then?"

"Why, in that case, we are in possession of a warrant for your own arrest, under the proclamation which was originally published in the 'Hue and Cry,' for his detention. Sir, you are now aware of the alternative. You produce the person we require, or you accompany us yourself. It has been sworn that he is in your keeping."

"I cannot do what is impossible. I will, however, conduct you through all the private rooms of the establishment, and if you can find or identify the person you want, I am satisfied. It is quite possible he may be with me; but I don't know, nor have I ever known him by the name of Fenton. It's a name I've never heard in my establishment. Come, sir, I am ready to show you every room in my house."

By this time the officers, accompanied by Corbet, entered, and all followed the doctor in a body to aid in the search. The search, however, was fruitless. Every room, cell, and cranny that was visible in the establishment underwent a strict examination, as did their unhappy occupants. All, however, in vain; and the doctor now was about to assume a tone of insolence and triumph, when Corbet said:

"Doctor, all seems plain here. You have done your duty."

"Yes," he replied, "I always do so. No man in the kingdom has given greater satisfaction, nor stands higher in that painful department of our profession to which I have devoted myself."

"Yes, doctor," repeated Corbet, with one of his bitterest grins; "you have done your duty; and for that reason I ask you to folly me."

"Where to, my good fellow?" asked the other, somewhat crestfallen. "What do you mean?"

"I think I spake plainly enough. I say, folly me. I think, too, I know something about the outs and ins, the ups and downs of this house still. Come, sir, we'll show you how you've done your duty; but listen to me, before we go one foot further--if he's dead before my time has come, I'll have your life, if I was to swing on a thousand gallowses."

One of the officers here tapped the doctor authoritatively on the shoulder, and said, "Proceed, sir, we are losing time."

The doctor saw at once that further resistance was useless.

"By the by," said he, "there is one patient in the house that I completely forgot. He is so desperate and outrageous, however, that we were compelled, within the last week or so, to try the severest discipline with him. He, however, cannot be the person you want, for his name is Moore; at least, that is the name under which he was sent here."

Down in a narrow, dark dungeon, where the damp and stench were intolerable, and nothing could be seen until a light was procured, they found something lying on filthy straw that had human shape. The hair and beard were long and overgrown; the features, begrimed with filth, were such as the sharpest eye could not recognize; and the whole body was so worn and emaciated, so ragged and tattered in appearance, that it was evident at a glance that foul practices must have been resorted to in order to tamper with life."

"Now, sir," said the doctor, addressing the stranger, "I will leave you and your friends to examine the patient, as perhaps you might feel my presence a restraint upon you."

The stranger, after a glance or two at Fenton, turned around, and said, sternly, "Peace-officer, arrest that man, and remove him to the parlor as your prisoner. But hold," he added, "let us first ascertain whether this is Mr. Fenton or not."

"I will soon tell you, sir," said Corbet, approaching the object before them, and feeling the left side of his neck.

"It is him, sir," he said; "here he is, sure enough, at last."

"Well, then," repeated the stranger, "arrest that man, as I said, and let two of you accompany him to the parlor, and detain him there until we join you."

On raising the wretched young man, they found that life was barely in him; he had been asleep, and being roused up, he screamed aloud.

"Oh," said he, "I am not able to bear it--don't scourge me, I am dying; I am doing all I can to die. Why did you disturb me? I dreamt that I was on my mother's knee, and that she was kissing me. What is this? What brings so many of you now? I wish I had told the strange gentleman in the inn everything; but I feared he was my enemy, and perhaps he was. I am very hungry."

"Merciful God!" exclaimed the stranger; "are such things done in a free and Christian country? Bring him up to the parlor," he added, "and let him be shaved and cleansed; but be careful of him, for his lamp of life is nearly exhausted. I thank you, Corbet, for the suggestion of the linen and clothes. What could we have done without them? It would have been impossible to fetch him in this trim."

We must pass over these disagreeable details. It is enough to say that poor Fenton was put into clean linen and decent clothes, and that in a couple of hours they were once more on their way with him, to the metropolis, the doctor accompanying them, as their prisoner.

The conduct of Corbet was on this occasion very singular. He complained that the stench of the dungeon in which they found Fenton had sickened him; but, notwithstanding this, something like ease of mind might be read in his countenance whenever he looked upon Fenton; something that, to the stranger at least, who observed him closely, seemed to say, "I am at last satisfied: the widow's heart will be set at rest, and the plans of this black villain broken to pieces." His eye occasionally gleamed wildly, and again his countenance grew pale and haggard, and he complained of headache and pains about his loins, and in the small of his back.

On arriving in Dublin, the stranger brought Fenton to his hotel, where he was desirous to keep him for a day or two, until he should regain a little strength, that he might, without risk, be able to sustain the interview that was before him. Aware of the capricious nature of the young man's feelings, and his feeble state of health, he himself kept aloof from him, lest his presence might occasion such a shock as would induce anything like a fit of insanity--a circumstance which must mar the pleasure and gratification of his unexpected reappearance. That medical advice ought instantly to be procured was evident from his extreme weakness, and the state of apathy into which he had sunk immediately after, his removal from the cell. This was at once provided; but unfortunately it seemed that all human skill was likely to prove unavailable, as the physician, on seeing and examining him, expressed himself with strong doubts as to the possibility of his recovery. In fact, he feared that his unhappy patient had not many days to live. He ordered him wine, tonics, and light but nutritious food to be taken sparingly, and desired that he should be brought into the open air as often as the debility of his constitution could bear it. His complaint, he said, was altogether a nervous one, and resulted from the effects of cruelty, terror, want of sufficient nourishment, bad air, and close confinement.

In the meantime, the doctor was committed to prison, and had the pleasure of being sent, under a safe escort, to the jail of the county that had been so largely benefited by his humane establishment.

As we are upon this painful subject, we may as well state here that he was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, with hard labor. _

Read next: Chapter 40. Lady Gourlay Sees Her Son

Read previous: Chapter 38. An Unpleasant Disclosure To Dunroe

Table of content of Black Baronet; or, The Chronicles Of Ballytrain


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