The Emerald Cross: Epilogue

Pierce Mahoney had a feeling his father wanted him out of the way for some reason. In fact he thought he could guess the reason quite easily. The two men, though close as a father and son should be, did not agree about politics. The O'Mahoney was a strong and active figure in the Nationalist movement, while Pierce like his Uncle Arthur had Unionist sympathies. No doubt some Nationalist plot was afoot and his father did not want him to know more than was good for him. As a dutiful son, he was happy to take himself away and was looking forward to a day's shooting on a neighbour's estate. But when he arrived he found that his neighbour had been suddenly taken ill and the shooting party was therefore cancelled. There was nothing else to do but start the long walk home.

When he reached the edge of his father's land he was surprised to see on the road a man he recognised, though he had not seen him for many years.

"Horlock? Is that you? What are you doing here? Have you come to see me? I'm sorry I was out; I was to go to a shooting party but it was cancelled at the last minute. Come back to the house and have a drink."

"No, that's all right, thank you, Mr Mahoney. I've just come from the house. I've been calling on your father and he gave me tea."

Pierce put down his shotgun, leaning it against the fence. "My father? What did you want to see him about? My God, Horlock, you've not become one of his Nationalists, have you? Uncle Arthur will not be pleased; he's always been a loyal Unionist and I'm sure he thought you were the same."

"Sir Arthur is no longer my employer and my politics are now my own business!"

"Well, that's true. I suppose to get the job you had to keep your views secret. Sir Arthur trusted you, you could see all his confidential papers. Were you even then a spy for the Nationalists? You were very clever to deceive us all, Horlock!" Then something occurred to Pierce and he began to realise just how much they had been deceived. "It was you! You did it, Horlock! You stole the jewels!"

"Mr Mahoney! You have no evidence of that."

"I know enough through my father to know that the Nationalist secret organisations were very active at that time. They were certainly not short of money! And now I know where that money came from. How could you do it, Horlock? Living a lie every day? Your lies are over now!"

"You dare not expose me, Mr Mahoney, when your own father is such a prominent Nationalist!"

"I know my father was never involved in the theft of the jewels. He didn't agree with my uncle about politics, but he would never have caused his disgrace! Depend on it, Horlock, I will go to the police! You will be exposed - what are you doing? Put down my gun at once!"

The shot exploded into the peaceful air of the lonely country road and brave young Pierce Mahoney fell to the ground, shot through the heart.

Nobody could believe that Pierce, with everything to live for, had shot himself, and a verdict of accidental death was recorded. The funeral at the Mahoney family home in County Wicklow was well attended. In addition to the large Mahoney family, many prominent Nationalist figures were there, political allies of the O'Mahoney. Pierce's widow looked pale and her eyes were red. Vicars found himself sitting next to her sister, Gertrude Wright, herself a widow for some years.

"My sister's heart is broken," she said to Vicars. "She has not been able to eat since his death. I worry that she will make herself ill."

"It is a terrible tragedy," Vicars replied. "I will miss him greatly. He was my favourite nephew, and a good friend who always gave me his support."

"Of course, his brother's wedding will have to be postponed."

Gerald Mahoney shared his father's political views and was engaged to the daughter of a leading Nationalist politician.

"Which is the girl?" Vicars asked. "I have never seen her."

"That dark haired beauty in the grey dress trimmed with white lace. Do you see that cross she wears around her neck? Her father gave her that for her twenty-first birthday. The emeralds are said to be particularly fine."

"Do not talk to me of emeralds, or any other gems for that matter! It reminds me of a chapter of my life that I would rather forget."

"Oh, I am sorry, Sir Arthur. I am afraid I have heard very little about that, beyond what was in the Irish Times."

"You can't believe what you read in the papers!" Vicars, drawn by her gentle questioning, began to recount his version of events. He finished by denouncing Frank Shackleton who he had never ceased to believe guilty of the theft.

"There were two men who were like sons to me," he concluded. "One of them is dead and the other has betrayed me, robbed me and caused me to lose my position in the world." Looking at her pale heart-shaped face, he thought he had never seen such sympathy and warmth in a woman's eyes. Perhaps there was some slight hope of happiness in this sad world.

The End