They then conducted him before a Mr. Brooldeigh, an active magistrate of that day, and a gentleman of mild and humane character.
On reaching Brookleigh Hall, Lamh Laudher found the strange woman, Nell M’Collum, Connor’s servant maid, and the carman awaiting his arrival. The magistrate looked keenly at the prisoner, and immediately glanced with an expression of strong disgust at Nell M’Collum. The other female surveyed Lamh Laudher with an interest evidently deep; after which she whispered something to Nell, who frowned and shook her head, as if dissenting from what she had heard. Lamh Laudher, on his part surveyed the features of the female with an earnestness that seemed to absorb all sense of his own disgrace and danger.
“O’Rorke,” said the magistrate, “this is a serious charge against you. I trust you may be able effectually to meet it.”
“I must wait, your worship, till I hear fully what it is first,” replied Lamh Laudher, “afther that I’m not afraid of clearin’ myself from it.”
The woman then detailed the circumstances of the robbery, which it appeared took place at the moment her luggage was in the act of being removed to her room, after which she added, rather unexpectedly—“And now your worship, I have plainly stated the facts; but I must, in conscience, add, that although this woman,” turning to Nell M’Collum, “is of opinion that the young man before you has robbed me, yet I cannot think he did.”
“I’ll swear, your worship,” said Nell, “that on passin’ homewards last night, seein’ a car wid people about it, at Luke Connor’s door, I stood behind the porch, merely to thry if I knew who they wor. I seen this Lamh Laudher wid a small oak box in his hands, an’ I’ll give my oath that it was open, an’ that he put his hands into it, and tuck something out.”
“Pray, Nell, how did it happen that you yourself were abroad at so unseasonable an hour?” said the magistrate.
“Every one knows that I’m out at quare hours,” replied Nell; “I’m not like others. I know where I ought to be, at all times; but last night, if your worship wishes to hear the truth, I was on my way to Andy Murray’s wake, the poor lad that was shepherd to the Neils.”
“And pray, Nell,” said his worship, “how did you form so sudden an acquaintance with this respectable looking woman?”
“I knew her for years,” said Nell; “I’ve seen her in other parts of the country often.”
“You were more than an hour with her last night—were you not?” said his worship.
“She made me stay wid her,” said Nell, “bekase she was a stranger, an’ of coorse was glad to see a face she know, afther the fright she got.”
“All very natural, Nell; but in the mean time, she might easily have chosen a more respectable associate. Have you actually lost the sum of six hundred pounds, my good madam?”