“By Heavens, he does!”—and Colligan rose quickly from his seat “he means to have her murdered, and thinks to make me do the deed! Why, you vile, thieving, murdering reptile!” and as he spoke the doctor seized him by the throat, and shook him violently in his strong grasp—“who told you I was a fit person for such a plan? who told you to come to me for such a deed? who told you I would sell my soul for your paltry land?”—and he continued grasping Barry’s throat till he was black in the face, and nearly choked. “Merciful Heaven! that I should have sat here, and listened to such a scheme! Take care of yourself,” said he; and he threw him violently backwards over the chairs—“if you’re to be found in Connaught to-morrow, or in Ireland the next day, I’ll hang you!”—and so saying, he hurried out of the room, and went home.
“Well,” thought he, on his road: “I have heard of such men as that before, and I believe that when I was young I read of such: but I never expected to meet so black a villain! What had I better do?—If I go and swear an information before a magistrate there’ll be nothing but my word and his. Besides, he said nothing that the law could take hold of. And yet I oughtn’t to let it pass: at any rate I’ll sleep on it.” And so he did; but it was not for a long time, for the recollection of Barry’s hideous proposal kept him awake.
Barry lay sprawling among the chairs till the sound of the hall door closing told him that his guest had gone, when he slowly picked himself up, and sat down upon the sofa. Colligan’s last words were ringing in his ear—“If you’re found in Ireland the next day, I’ll hang you.”—Hang him!—and had he really given any one the power to speak to him in such language as that? After all, what had he said?—He had not even whispered a word of murder; he had only made an offer of what he would do if Anty should die: besides, no one but themselves had heard even that; and then his thoughts went off to another train. “Who’d have thought,” he said to himself, “the man was such a fool! He meant it, at first, as well as I did myself. I’m sure he did. He’d never have caught as he did about the farm else, only he got afraid—the confounded fool! As for hanging, I’ll let him know; it’s just as easy for me to tell a story, I suppose, as it is for him.” And then Barry, too, dragged himself up to bed, and cursed himself to sleep. His waking thoughts, however, were miserable enough.
XXVIII. FANNY WYNDHAM REBELS
We will now return to Grey Abbey, Lord Cashel, and that unhappy love-sick heiress, his ward, Fanny Wyndham. Affairs there had taken no turn to give increased comfort either to the earl or to his niece, during the month which succeeded the news of young Harry Wyndham’s death.