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´╗┐Title: Live to be Useful - or, The Story of Annie Lee and her Irish Nurse
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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            LIVE TO BE USEFUL


       _THE STORY OF ANNIE LEE AND
            HER IRISH NURSE._


               [Decoration]


         _THOMAS NELSON AND SONS_
 _London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and New York_
                  _1913_



[Illustration: Annorah turned, and saw the shadow of a man on the
sloping rock.

_Page 25._]



LIVE TO BE USEFUL.



CHAPTER I.

ANNIE'S PLAN.


Annie Lee was a cripple. Until her eighth summer she had been strong
and well, like most other children; but then disease began to appear,
and although she had skilful doctors and kind nurses, it was soon too
plain that she was never to be well again.

Five years of pain and weakness had been her portion at the time our
story commences. So accustomed had she become to her sad situation,
that it seemed like a delusive dream when she remembered the sportive
hours of her earlier childhood. Like other sick children, she was far
more thoughtful than was quite natural at her age, and very seldom in
her easiest moments laughed aloud. But she was not an unhappy child.

As soon as she was old enough to understand that she had a sinful
heart and needed salvation, she had earnestly sought the Saviour of
sinners, and had been graciously received by him, and made a lamb of
his flock. In the school of Christ she learned to bear pain without
murmuring, and to submit with cheerfulness to her lot in life. Instead
of requiring comfort from her parents, who seemed to realize her
misfortune more fully than she did herself, she became their consoler,
and rarely failed in her efforts to lighten their sorrow on her
account.

"It might have been so much worse, mamma," she said one day, when Mrs.
Lee was lamenting her condition. "Only think of poor lame Phelim,
Biddy Dillon's little boy."

"What is the matter with him?" asked her mother.

"Have you not seen him? He is often in the back-yard when Biddy comes
to wash in the kitchen. I've watched him often. I think it was before
he came to this country--but I'm not sure--that a large stone, falling
from a wall, so mangled his poor limbs that one of them had to be cut
off. I never see him limping about on his crutches while Biddy is
washing without thanking God for my happier fate."

"Why, Annie, it is not probable that he suffers one-half as much as
you do."

"As much _pain_, do you mean, mamma?"

"Yes."

"I wasn't thinking of that. They are very poor; and if he lives to be
a man, how can he earn the comforts of life? I need have no care on
that account."

"I daresay he has none. There are several trades that he might learn
which require a sitting posture; he might be a shoemaker, for
instance. Do not fret on his account, Annie."

"It seems to me, mamma," replied Annie, with a thoughtful air, "that
his only prospect for the future is to be pushed about here and there
in the crowd, until at last he finds a refuge in the grave."

"What foolish fancies!" said Mrs. Lee, rising, as a noise in the yard
below attracted her to the window. "We know nothing about the future,
and it is not quite right to make ourselves sad about it. It is hardly
like your usual trust in God, to be thus imagining trouble. There's a
little lame boy in the yard, who, I suppose, is Phelim; he seems happy
enough. Hark! don't you hear him sing? He is sitting on the bench
behind the clothes-frame, and his mother is hanging out the clothes to
dry. Don't you hear her laugh at what he is singing?"

"What is it, mamma? Can you hear the words?" asked Annie, brightening
up, and raising herself on her elbow as she lay on her low couch.

"I hear them very well; but his Irish gibberish is as Greek to me. All
that I can make out is what seems to be the chorus:

    "'O Ireland, green Ireland,
        Swate gem o' the sae!'"

"Mamma," said Annie, after listening with smiling interest a while,
"it troubles me very often because Phelim knows nothing about our
Saviour. He has a sister, two years older than I am, who cannot read.
She never went to school; and none of the family can read a word."

"How did you learn this?"

"From Phelim. I speak to him sometimes when he plays under the
window."

"Well, I don't know how we can help them. If we should offer to teach
them, they would not be willing to learn."

"Are you sure of it, mamma?"

"Not quite so sure, perhaps, as if I had tried to instruct them; but I
know that they regard a book as a sort of Protestant trap, made on
purpose to catch them, soul and body. It is an evil that we cannot
remedy.--Have you more pain than usual, my dear?" said Mrs. Lee,
appearing a little startled, and bending anxiously over Annie's couch
as she observed an unusual flush on her pale cheek.

"No, mamma; but I was thinking of a plan that I have had for some
weeks, and hoping that you would not object to it."

"Object! You shall have whatever you like, if it can be procured. What
is it, Annie?"

"Oh, dear mamma," said Annie, "I do so long to do some good! I cannot
bear to live such a useless life. Every day, when I feel the goodness
of God and his great love to me, I long to do something for him. And I
think, mamma, that I have planned a way to do good without getting off
my sofa."

"You are always doing good, Annie. Do you suppose that your patience
under suffering is not a lesson to us in our smaller trials? There are
many ways in which you are a blessing to us all; so do not weary
yourself with new schemes. If God had required active service from
you, he would have given you health and strength."

"But I can do something, mamma. Please to hear my plan. I want to tell
you something more about Phelim's sister. She has been Mrs. Green's
servant, and her business was to assist in the nursery. She would have
done nicely, Phelim says, but for her violent temper. Last week one of
the children was cross and provoking, and the girl got angry and
pushed him down-stairs. He was much bruised; and, of course, she was
dismissed at once."

"I should hope so. But your plan, Annie?"

"The poor girl has no place, mamma, and, with such a dreadful temper,
is not likely to get one soon. And they are very poor. I know that
since Jessie left us, you are too closely confined here with me; and
my plan is to have this poor girl to wait on me, and--"

"Why, Annie, what a wild project!" interrupted her mother. "You must
not think of it. She would be throwing you out of the window, or
beating you to a jelly, in her first fit of ill-temper."

"Oh no, she won't, mamma," urged Annie. "She will not be so easily
vexed here, and no one is ever angry with me. Please to try her."

"Are you really in earnest, Annie?"

"Yes; and very anxious to be indulged in my strange plan."

"Have you thought how awkward she will be in assisting you?"

"I have thought of it all, over and over," replied Annie, "and I
think she will make a good nurse for me."

Mrs. Lee hesitated a long time. She could not bear to deny Annie, and
could not overcome her dislike to the proposed arrangement. But
Annie's pleading look at length decided her.

"You wish very much to try this wild-goose plan!" she said, resuming
the conversation.

"Very much, mamma," replied Annie.

"Well, you shall have your own way about it. It will last but a few
days, I am sure; and the change will interest you at any rate, poor
thing!" Then going to the window, she looked down into the yard, and
said, "Mrs. Dillon, come up to Miss Annie's room, will you?"

In a minute the woman made her appearance at the door, with the suds
still lingering in foamy flakes upon her arms and along the folds of
her apron.

"You have a daughter, I believe?" said Mrs. Lee.

"Two of them, an' ye plaze, ma'am," replied Biddy, wiping her arms as
she spoke.

"Are they both at home?"

"It's Bessie that is in service; and it's only Annorah that's at home,
shure."

"What is Annorah doing?" inquired Mrs. Lee.

"Doing?" repeated Biddy wonderingly.

"I mean, how does she get her living?"

"At service too, ma'am, when it is to be had. But, shure, it's a bad
timper she has, and will sthrike and scold whin her blood is up. An'
she has lost the fine, comfortable place she had with Mrs. Green, jist
for a thrifle of spaach."

"That is unfortunate."

"Oh, thin, ye may well say that. Anither mouth in a family like me own
is far from convenient whin the cost of the mate and the flour is
beyond raach intirely."

"Well, Biddy, Miss Annie wants some one to wait on her in the place of
Jessie, who has gone. She has taken a fancy to try your girl. When can
she come?"

"Coom! Why, this very hour, an' ye like. A blessin' on yer swate, pale
face!" said Biddy, looking pityingly towards Annie.

"She must be gentler here," said Mrs. Lee; "she must govern her
temper. Miss Annie must not be excited and made worse by your girl's
fits of ill-humour."

"Leave her to me, mamma," said Annie. "I think, Mrs. Dillon, that
there will be no trouble. What did you say is her name?"

"Annorah, an' ye plaze, miss."

"Annorah? Very well. When shall she come, mamma?"

"Not until Monday, I think," replied Mrs. Lee. Then turning to Mrs.
Dillon, she added, "You may send her on Monday."

"An' she gets a mad streak along o' that pritty crathur," said Mrs.
Biddy, as she went down-stairs, "she desarves the warm bating she'll
get from her own mother at home."



CHAPTER II.

ANNORAH'S FIRST APPEARANCE IN THE SICK-ROOM.


Monday came, and Annorah came too. It was with a doubting heart and a
troubled look that Mrs. Lee introduced her into her daughter's
chamber. It would be difficult to find a plainer-looking or a more
awkward girl.

Mrs. Lee looked at the monstrous foot in its heavy shoe, and at the
thick, freckled hands, that seemed incapable of the gentle services
that Annie's helplessness required, and wondered at her own folly in
indulging the singular caprice of her daughter. But a single look at
Annie assured her that she, at least, felt no misgivings. Still, she
did not like to leave them by themselves until she had tested the new
attendant's ability.

"Annorah," she said, "what sort of work can you do? I'm afraid you
are not used to such services as Miss Annie will require."

"I can do most anything, ma'am," answered the girl resolutely.

"Indeed! Well, let me see how you would manage to place Annie on the
bed when she is tired of the sofa."

The words were scarcely out of her mouth before Annorah had lifted the
frail form of the invalid in her arms and deposited her in the middle
of the bed. Annie burst into such a laugh as she had not indulged in
for a year.

"I think you may be satisfied, mamma," she said; "I never was moved
easier."

Mrs. Lee began to think better of Annie's plan, and joined quite
cordially in her daughter's mirth.

"And if she were too tired to rest in any position, what would you
do?"

"Carry her to the windows, or out in the air, for a change.--Will ye
plaze to thry it, Miss Annie?"

"Not now, Annorah." Then looking towards her mother, she said, "Mamma,
you may be easy; Annorah and I shall get on famously together."

Thus assured, Mrs. Lee left them, and went down-stairs with a better
opinion of the rough Irish girl than she had thought it possible to
entertain an hour previous.

Left by themselves, the two girls began to form an acquaintance with
each other. Two persons more unlike could not have been brought
together. Annorah was evidently much interested in her young charge,
and felt the most unbounded sympathy in her sufferings. Annie spoke
first.

"Please draw my couch nearer the window, Annorah. That will do. Now,
sit down on this low stool, and tell me how long it is since you left
Ireland."

"It's two years, miss, coom April."

"So lately? Then you remember all about the old country?"

"Remember! An' it's me that'll niver forget that same. The beautiful
counthree it is!"

"Pleasanter than this, do you think?"

"A thousand times. There is no place in the world like it; the dear
ould counthree!"

"Why, then, did you leave it, Annorah?"

"Bad luck we had, miss; and a worse luck intirely here, the mane town
that this is."

"Tell me all about it."

"What for? That ye, too, may laugh like the rest, and call us the
mane, dirty set of Irish vagabonds?" asked the girl, her small eyes
kindling with a sense of imaginary insult.

"No, no, Annorah. You don't think I would say such things, do you? But
you need not tell me a word if you had rather not. I only thought it
would make me forget my pain for a little time; and, besides, I love
dearly to hear about Ireland, or any place where I have never been,"
said Annie, with a tone of voice so calm and earnest that the girl
could not doubt her sincerity.

"Do you, in truth? Why, thin, it's me that'll talk till I hoarse
meself dumb for yer good. It was the famine, miss, that came first,
and stole the bit o' food that was saved. The praties were rotten in
the field; and the poor pigs starved that should have helped us out
wi' the rint. Och, but it was a sore time o' grief whin sorra a
mouthful were left for the bit childer and the ould people who were
weak before wi' ould age! In the worst time o' all, whin the need was
the sorest, our Bessie got into disgrace, and came home from service
wi' niver a penny to help herself or us. There was nought to do and
nought to eat at all. The neighbours were faint wi' the hoonger; and
so, before the worst came, we left all that was dear and came here."

"How many of you came, Annorah?"

"Nine, miss, if we consider our uncles and cousins. We did not come
altogether; brother John, who is dead, and uncle Mike, came first. And
a fine chance to work they got directly, miss; and then they sent
money to pay the old folk's passage. Our hearts gathered coorage and
strength at once, miss, and we thought, shure, the great throubles
were over. But the next vessel brought the bad news for us, and we
forgot the glimmer of hope we had; for it was our own father dear who
was dead o' the cholera."

"Poor Annorah!" exclaimed Annie pityingly.

"Poor indade! But soon came the money for the rest; and much as we
feared the deep wathers, the hoonger still pressed on us, and the
sickness was every day striking down the stoutest, and so we all left
Ireland but Bessie."

"Did you like the passage across from Ireland?"

"No, indade."

"Were you sea-sick?"

"No, miss. But we came in the steerage; and a crowded, dirthy place it
was. The dirt was not so bad, for in the ould counthree it ofttimes
gets the betther o' us; but the men were either drunk or ill-nathured,
and the women quarrelled, and the young ones were aye cross or sick;
and a bad time they made of it all."

"Did you come directly here?"

"No; we stayed where we landed for seven weeks, till we got word to
our cousin."

"And since you have been here, Annorah, what have you been doing? Have
you been to school?"

"No; the praste forbade."

"Poor thing! Then you cannot read?"

"How should I know reading, I'd like to know? Who would teach me that
same?"

"Many good people would like to do it, if you would like to learn."

"I'm ower knowin' for that, miss," replied Annorah, with a glance
which betrayed that she was rather suspicious of Annie's good
intentions. "It's a mighty pity that readin' was contrived at all, for
it's the books that makes the black heretics o' us. 'Let alone the
books and the readin',' said Father M'Clane to me last evening, 'and
confess to me faithfully all that ye hear in the grand Protestant
family, an' all will go well wi' ye, Annorah,' says he, 'now and for
evermore.'"

Annie laughed pleasantly. "And so you are to play the spy and the
tattler; and however kindly we may treat you, you are to report all
our sayings and doings to the priest? I don't believe, Annorah, that
you can be mean enough for that, if you try. I thought the Irish
people were too generous to act so low a part."

"An' so we are, shure. Sorra a bit will the praste get from me about
you here."

"If he were a good man, a noble, honourable man," said Annie, "do you
think he would ask you--"

"He's the praste!" interrupted Annorah, her eyes flashing; "the
praste, is Father M'Clane. An' ye mind to spake well o' him, it's
nought I've to say; an' the tongue is a heretic's that would spake ill
o' him, and he laving the ould counthree to stay for our good in this
haythen land. An' the books an' the readin' were for the like o' us,
would he not be the first to bid us welcome to the same? Och, it's a
good man and a holy is Father M'Clane, say what ye will, miss."

"I have not called him otherwise," said Annie, much amused by the
Irish girl's warmth. "I only asked you, or tried to ask you, if he
would be likely to require you to tattle and to be a tell-tale, if he
were so good as you describe him?"

"It were jist putting before me eyes the maneness of the man. Is that
nothing at all, and he a praste?"

"Well, well, Annorah, we will say no more about him now. I am tired,
and must rest. You won't mind being still a while?"

"Poor little thing!" said Annorah; "ye're pale as a lily. Is there a
dhrap o' anything ye would like, and then slape a bit?"

"I will try to sleep."

"But ye cannot kape still. The pain is shure too great. Let me carry
you about a little."

"No, no; it would tire you," said Annie, who in her spasm of pain
really longed for so novel a method of changing her position.

"At least, let me thry it for once," urged the girl, whose Irish
sympathies were powerfully awakened by her young mistress's evident
suffering; "jist for once, darlin'."

Annie offered no further resistance, and, as Annorah bore her light
form carefully up and down the room, experienced a feeling of relief
that inspired her with warm gratitude toward her uncouth attendant.

"Ye're light as down, honey," said Annorah, as she met Annie's
anxious, inquiring look.

Satisfied at last that she was really no heavy burden, the weary
invalid soon dropped asleep, with her head on the Irish girl's
shoulder. Mrs. Lee opened the door and looked in.

"Whist!" said Annorah, in a low, impatient whisper. "Kape quiet, will
ye, and let the poor lamb slape!"

Mrs. Lee hardly knew whether to be amused or provoked as she, the
mistress of the house, obeyed Annorah's imperative gesture, and
withdrew softly from the apartment.



CHAPTER III.

ANNORAH LEARNS TO READ.


In a very few days Annie was intrusted to the sole care of her young
Irish nurse, who served her with the most affectionate attention. Mrs.
Lee often came to sit with her suffering child, but Annorah alone
performed the tender offices of the sick-room. Rough and uncouth as
she was, she readily adapted herself to the services required; and no
power on earth could have persuaded her that Annie could be so well
taken care of by any one else.

"It naded a dale o' contrivance, to be shure," she said to her mother
one afternoon, when, Annie being asleep, she ran home to ask after the
family, "or I would be well bothered with all her pretty talk o'
books, and taching me to read and write; but she, poor darlin', shall
say whatever she plazes to me."

"An' if she spake ill o' the praste and the holy Church, how then,
Annorah?" asked Mrs. Dillon, eying her daughter rather curiously.

"Blessed little good can _we_ say o' Father M'Clane, whin we spake
truth, as ye know, mother dear; and it's not to be expected o' her to
tell lies for his sake."

"Does she spake o' the Catholic Church Norah?" asked her mother.

"Never at all, mother; so make yer heart aisy. She spakes to me o'
meself, and the wickedness in me heart; and when she leans so lovingly
on me shoulder, and raises her clear eyes to the blue sky, or watches
the bright sunset, and spakes so softly to me o' the beauty o' a holy
life, I feel all the betther and patienter meself for hearing the good
words. She says, mother dear, as how it is depravity that makes me so
often angered and wrong; and how that Jesus Christ, the Son o' God
himself, died to save us and cure us o' our sin. It would do yer own
heart good, could ye hear her; and there's nought wrong in it at all,
ye see."

Annie's influence grew stronger and stronger, and not a day passed
without some precious truth from her lips finding a place in the heart
of her attendant. It was many weeks before Annorah yielded to her
persuasions, and commenced learning to read. The pleasant summer days
had come, and they were often abroad in the fresh air together, Annie
in her low carriage, which was easily drawn by her young nurse.

Down in the valley behind Mr. Lee's house there was an old mill, long
since deserted and unused.

This was a favourite resort of Annie's, and it was here that she
taught Annorah to read, during the long summer afternoons.

At first Annorah was listless, indifferent, and often suspicious that
all this attention to her education boded no good to her old religious
prejudices. But she could deny Annie nothing; and after a time, as her
confidence in the piety of her gentle teacher increased, she began to
feel a deep interest in the truths taught.

In her anxiety to please her invalid charge, she made rapid progress
in reading, and before the end of the summer could write a few plain
sentences. She began to love knowledge for its own sake; and many a
pleasant hour did she spend, when Annie was asleep or weary, in
reading the easy lessons selected for her. But she was careful that
neither her mother nor the priest should suspect her progress in
learning, and as she still went regularly to "confession," it was easy
to keep her secret from them. Annie was often not a little puzzled to
know how she managed to elude the vigilance of the priest.

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon, when the air was just cool enough
to be refreshing, that, with Mrs. Lee's permission, Annie and her
nurse sought their favourite seat by the mill-stream. Annie had been
thinking more than usual about Annorah's progress in religious
knowledge, and wondering how, with the light and wisdom she had
received, she could still cling to her old superstitions. A great
change had taken place in her temper, which was now usually
controlled; her manners had gradually become more gentle; but the
radical change of heart that Annie so longed to witness, did not yet
show itself.

"Tell me, Annorah," she said, after the usual time had been spent in
reading, "does Father M'Clane know that you can read yet?"

"Not he, indade."

"Does he not question you?"

"Not exactly. He says I spake better English, and that shure it is
because I live where it is well spoken."

"What did you say to that?"

"I said. 'True, your riverence.'"

"I'm afraid that is hardly the truth, Annorah. If anything has
improved your language, it is your reading."

"To be shure. But is it not because I am with those who spake English
well, that I'm learning to read? So it was the truth, after all."

"Not the whole truth, Annorah."

Just then Annorah turned, and saw the shadow of a man on the sloping
rock at the left hand. Her first impulse was to cry out, but the fear
of alarming Annie, and her own natural courage, prevented her; and she
soon thought she could detect in the shadowy outline a resemblance to
Father M'Clane. "Och, then, the murder's out," she thought; "the mane
creature has been listening, and faith now he shall have a pill that
will settle his stomach intirely.--What were you saying, Miss Annie?"
she asked aloud, turning towards Annie's carriage.

"I said that you did not tell him the whole truth."

"Small matter for that. It was all he asked for, and it's better
plazed he is than if it were more. He's a lying ould thing himself,
any way!"

"Why, Annorah?"

"Ye may well open yer eyes. Did he not tell me last Sunday that you,
miss, with your sweet voice and comforting ways, were jist a
temptation placed in me way, by the ould inimy himself?"

"I, Annorah? What does he know of me?"

"Nothing at all, savin' that ye are a saint, and he an ould--"

"Stop, stop, Annorah. We must not speak evil of any one. I hope that
you were civil in your reply."

"Civil! indade I was. I said, 'Ye should teach your flock better than
to tempt honest people.' 'It's gettin' impudent ye are,' says he;
'ye'll be turnin' heretic next. You must be seen to and taken care
of,' says he. 'Bad luck to ye!' says I; 'when ye sees me two eyes
light me to confession again, ye may take care o' me and welcome.'"

"And shall you not go again?"

"Never again." Annorah saw the shadow raise its hand threateningly.
"No, indade. Where's the use o' telling all ye know to an ould
creature like him? Doesn't the blessed Book say that no man can come
to the Father but only through Jesus Christ? An' shure, the great
Father in heaven is angered to see me kneel down before that biggest
o' scamps, when I should be praying to himself. I'll do it no more."

"I am glad to hear you say so, Annorah; I do so hope," said Annie, as
the affectionate tears stole down her thin cheek, "that you are
beginning to learn in the school of Christ. But, my poor girl, you
will meet much opposition. I am afraid that your family will join with
the priest in opposing you."

"Let them. I'll fight them all with pleasure--more especially the
praste."

"But fighting is not the way to make them think well of the religion
of Jesus. He was mild and gentle, patient under abuse and persecution;
and he must be your pattern, if you desire to please God. You must
pray to him, Annorah, for a new heart, so that none of these angry
feelings will trouble you."

"Is it the new heart, miss, that makes you so sweet and patient?"

"If I have any goodness, Annorah, it is because God has changed my old
heart, and made it better. It is his grace that enables me to suffer
without complaining; and it is his love, which I feel in my heart,
that makes me calm and happy in my greatest pain."

"Then I am sure," said the girl earnestly, forgetting for a moment
that she was overheard. "I will never rest a day at all, till I get
that same done for me. But mayhap he will not be so willing to look
upon me."

"In his holy Book we read that he is no respecter of persons, and that
whosoever cometh unto him he will in no wise cast out."

"Why, then, I can coom as soon as the grandest. _How_ shall I coom?"

"I will tell you how I came to him. I studied his holy Word to learn
his will, and I prayed often that he would give me his Spirit to teach
me the way to him."

"An' did he?"

"Yes. In a little time I began to know more about myself, and to see
how much I needed a Saviour; and then I saw how willing Jesus must be
to save me, having died for me as well as for others; and so, in a way
that I can't explain, I was led to give myself to him, and I soon
found peace in believing. He will teach you, Annorah, and lead you
right, if you earnestly seek him. Look at the sunset clouds. Did you
ever see such gold, and crimson, and purple before? But the sunset is
not half so bright and beautiful as the true Christian's prospects."

Looking at the sunset reminded Annorah that it was late for her charge
to be out. A very slight rustle in the bushes behind her, recalled
what she had strangely forgotten, in her interest in the conversation.
She took up a large stone and threw it among the bushes.

"What is there, Annorah?" asked Annie, in alarm.

"Only a sarpint, miss."

"Well, let us hasten home. Mamma will be anxious."

After they left, the dark form of a man rose from behind the green
knoll where they had been sitting, and moved slowly along the bank of
the stream, down the valley. It was Father M'Clane.



CHAPTER IV.

THE PRIEST MEETS ANNORAH AT HER MOTHER'S COTTAGE.


Biddy Dillon had just finished a large ironing for one of the families
in the village, and having placed the clothes-frame where the dust
from the open fire-place could not fall on the fine starched linens
and muslins, she began to set her table for tea, at the same time
counting over the gains of the week. Not a trifle in her calculations
were the wages of Annorah, who came regularly every Saturday evening
to add her contribution to the family fund.

"It's a good child she is gettin' to be, and a pleasant-tempered one,
too," said Mrs. Dillon to herself; "it's made over intirely, she is,
our Lady be praised!"

She began to sing the burden of an Irish ditty, but the broken-nosed
tea-kettle over the fire beginning to sing too, she commenced talking
again.

"Heaven send it mayn't be thrue, but it does look like the heretic's
doings. She were like a brimstone match, or like gunpowder itself, at
home, and tender-hearted as a young baby besides. Shure, it's a mighty
power, any way, that has so changed her. I can't jist feel aisy about
it, for it's Father M'Clane will find out the harm of her good spaches
and doings."

The words were hardly out of her mouth when the priest entered. The
storm on his brow was not unnoted by Biddy, but she respectfully set a
chair for him in the cleanest part of the room. She was not quite so
easily terrified by priestly wrath and authority as she had been in
her own country; for she had the sense to know that the ghostly
father's malediction did not, as in Ireland, entail a long course of
temporal misfortunes upon the poor victims of his displeasure. But she
had not yet acknowledged to herself the doubts that really existed in
her mind in regard to the truth of the Romish faith; she still clung
to the errors in which she had been brought up, and feared the effect
on her eternal happiness of Father M'Clane's displeasure. So it was
with a beating heart that she awaited his time to address her.

"Do you know that your daughter is a heretic?" was his first
question.

"Indade, no, yer riverence," replied Biddy.

"An' what sort o' a mother are you, Biddy Dillon, to stand still and
look on while the wolf stales the best o' yer flock? You might have
known that heretic family would lave not a stone unturned to catch her
at last. And so she can read--"

"_Read!_" interrupted the astonished woman.

"Yes, read! And it's the heretics' Bible she has read, too,--and all
through your fault. Mighty proud ye have been o' all the fine
housekeeping ways she has learned, and very thankful, no doubt, for
the bits o' could victuals from the big house; but where's the good
now? Ye may thank yourself that she will lose her sowl for ever."

Mrs. Dillon started and turned pale as the door softly opened, and
Annorah herself, unobserved by the priest, came in. He went on: "Do
you call her better, the pestilent crather, when, from her first going
to the grand place on the hill, never a word about them has been got
from her at confession? The obstinate crather!"

"I came to your riverence for spiritual good," said Annorah, now
coming forward and laying a fat chicken and sundry paper parcels
beside her week's wages on the little table by her mother's side. "I
came for spiritual good, and ye thried to teach me to tattle. It's a
mane trade intirely, lettin' alone the maneness of sich as teach it."

"Annorah!" exclaimed her mother, "do you dare to spake in that way o'
the praste himself?"

"I mean no harm, mother."

"No harm!" repeated Father M'Clane, turning fiercely toward her. "You
won't cheat me with words like these."

Annorah tossed her head scornfully and sat down opposite the priest,
who on his part seemed far less desirous to carry on the war since her
arrival. The cottage that he occupied belonged to Mr. Lee, and judging
that gentleman by his own heart, he feared that an unfavourable
representation of the case to him might either increase his rent or
turn him out altogether. Besides, he was not unlike blusterers, and
could denounce the erring with greater ease when they stood in awe of
him. That Annorah felt neither fear nor reverence for him, it was easy
to see. So, smothering his wrath, he began, to the great surprise of
Mrs. Dillon, to address the girl in his most coaxing tones.

"Come, come, Annorah," he said, "let us be friends. It's me that's
ould enough, and willing too, to be to you in place o' yer own
father, Heaven rest his sowl; but he's gone to a better counthree than
this sinful world. An' yer own good, child, is what I think on in
spaking to you of Miss Annie and the heretics generally. It's not for
meself, shure, that me prayers go up at the could midnight hour whin
ye're all sleeping in quiet. It's not me own throubles that make me
dream o' Heaven's wrath, but it's me care for yer sowl, Annorah, and
for the sake o' yer gettin' saved at last."

"Hear that, Norah, child," said her mother. "Who else ever fretted
themselves for yer good? What would become o' ye, an' Father M'Clane
gave ye up entirely?

"Your riverence must stay till I draw the tae and fry a bit o' the
chicken," added Biddy, as the priest rose to take his leave.

"No, thank you," he replied; "I must not sit down at ease. Small rest
is there for me when the wolf is in the fold, and the flock is in
danger."

He took leave quite cordially, but when he was gone, Biddy turned,
with a shadow on her round face, to speak to her daughter.

"An' what's this ye've been doing, child? Is it me own ears that have
heard o' yer Bible-reading and railing at the praste? What's coom to
ye now? Didn't I warn ye against their heretic ways? An' ye've been
and fallen into the dape pit as aisy as a blind sheep. Och! for shame,
Annorah Dillon! Why do ye not spake? What can ye say for yourself?"

"Mother," said Annorah, "how often you've said, when Larry O'Neale's
good luck has been tould of, that it was the larnin', shure, that did
it all! An' when we were over the great water, you said, 'How nice and
comfortable would it be an' we had one in the family like Larry
himself, to send back the news to ould friends, when we got safe
here.' Do ye not mind, mother dear, how often you've said that same
since? Well, now, I've been and learned what ye wanted so much; and
first cooms the praste and makes a big fuss, and then you, mother,
spake as if I had thried to anger in the room o' plasing ye. I'm sure
I've thried to plase you all I could."

"So ye have, mavourneen; so ye have," said Biddy, her voice softening
as she turned to look at the chicken and other things that Annorah had
brought. "It's not yer mother, honey, that has a word to say against
you; but when Father M'Clane talks o' yer being a heretic, it angers
me. This Bible that he frets about, what is it, Norah?"

"It's God's truth, mother, that he has given to teach us all; and a
brave book it is. Father M'Clane has one himself; and what frets him
is, that the heretics, as he calls them, can read it for themselves
and find out God's will; for only the praste has it with us."

"Well, then, an' the praste tells us the same, it saves us a world o'
bother, shure."

"But if the praste is not a good man, he can tell us whatever he
likes; and how do we know what is God's Word? Now, mother, in all
God's Word there is never a bit about confessing to a praste, but a
great deal about praying and confessing to God himself. But, you see,
if all our people knew that same, sorra a bit o' money would go to the
praste's pocket in comparison to what he gets now. It's that, mother
dear, that makes him so afraid we shall learn. He can't get the money
from those who can read God's Word for themselves."

"Are you sure it's all thrue?" asked Biddy, her eyes wide open with
astonishment.

"It is the truth of God. An' it's this same learning that's got out of
the holy Book that makes the difference between Protestants and
Catholics. They go to the Word itself, an' we take on hearsay whatever
the praste tells us. An' there is no word in all the Book, mother,
about praying to Mary the mother of Jesus, or to any of the saints.
Everybody is invited to pray straight up to God himself."

The girl's downright heresy, and her contempt for the mummeries of the
Romish communion, troubled her mother. But what could she do? The
change for the better in the child's temper had prepared her to look
favourably upon the change in her religion. She listened to Annorah's
continued account of what she had learned from the Bible with the
greatest interest, feeling every moment more and more disposed to
accept its teaching, and less and less disposed to blindly submit to
the priest. Annorah stayed till a late hour with her mother, repeating
over and over again the truths so interesting to herself, and
obtaining permission at last to bring the Bible itself on her next
visit. She was strictly cautioned, however, to bring it privately,
lest Father M'Clane should hear of it, and, in Biddy's language, "kick
up a scrimmage."

There were more ideas in the old woman's head than had ever found room
there before, when, after Annorah had gone, she sat down by herself
before the fire. She was both ambitious and imaginative, and long
vistas of future greatness opened before her, all commencing with the
wonderful fact that _her_ child could read and write.

"An' it's not all a queer drame," she said; "I'll hear her for meself
coom next Saturday Och! what a row it will make an' Father M'Clane,
and Teddy Muggins, and Mike Murphy get wind o' a heretic Bible being
brought to the place! But I'll hear and judge for meself, that I will;
an' if the praste be right, small harm is there to be shure; and if he
be wrong, the better for me poor sowl, and a saving o' money."



CHAPTER V.

PHELIM BRINGS BAD TIDINGS TO ANNORAH.


Annorah's troubles were not ended by the unexpected encouragement
received from her mother. Her brothers and sister, and Irish
acquaintance generally, soon heard that she no longer went to mass or
to confession; and great was the uproar among them. The unsparing
rebukes of Father M'Clane, whenever he met with any one supposed to
have any influence over her, soon fanned into life not only a vehement
hatred of the Protestants, but a bitter feeling of enmity toward the
poor girl herself. Those who had been most cordial now either passed
her in sullen silence, or openly taunted her upon her defection; and
the very children in the lane hooted after her, when she made her
usual weekly visit to her mother.

Annorah often found these things very hard to bear. Her quick Irish
blood was up with the first insulting word; but she sought for
strength from above to control it, and no outbreak of passion was
suffered to mar the sweet lesson that her patience and kindness toward
all was insensibly teaching.

She was getting ready for her usual Saturday evening's visit to her
mother's cottage, when her attention was attracted by the low
whistling of a familiar Irish air in the yard below. Looking out, she
observed her lame brother, Phelim, making signs for her to come out. A
little alarmed lest some evil had befallen her mother she hurried out
to meet him.

"What is it, Phelim? What is the matther, dear?"

"Matther, do you ask? Well, the matther is, that ye're not to coom
home till ye're sent for. Are ye not ashamed to make such a row?"

"I don't know what you mean. Sit down, Phelim dear; you're over weak
to keep standin' so. Does the new liniment no help ye at all? And ye
must carry home the money to mother, and the tea, and the sugar, and
some nice warm woollen stockings that Mrs. Lee showed me how to knit
for yerself, darlin'; and Heaven grant that it's no a bad turn o'
pain ye will get in yer bones by cooming to tell me. There's a
cranberry-pie that Mrs. Lee was to send for your own self, Phelim
dear; it will relish better than our mother's plain cooking."

The thought of eating the dainty so thoughtfully provided, produced a
choking sensation in the boy's throat, as if it had there come into a
collision with his wrath against heretics. But he said nothing, and
Annorah went on:--

"I've been making some caps for mother; but ye're no able to carry so
many things at once, poor fellow."

Still Phelim did not speak, but he gazed earnestly into her face. The
moon was up, and he could plainly see the traces of tears on her
cheek, and the sad but loving expression of her eyes as she returned
his gaze.

"An' it's the Protestant religion that makes you so good and kind,
Norah," he said at length; "our Lady help me, and I could just be a
heretic wi' ye!"

"It's little I know yet o' the truth, but, O Phelim, it's a lovely way
to heaven; and the swate, blessed feeling that fills up the heart when
I pray straight up to the Lord Jesus Christ himself, is better than to
have all the diamonds in a queen's crown. It makes me so light and
happy; so contented intirely. It quiets the bad temper into perfect
peace; and I love, as I never dreamed of doing before, all my friends
and enemies too. It's little I know yet, Phelim, but all the gould in
the world, and all the world's hate too, shall not hinder me from
learning more o' God's wonderful way to save sinners. But hurry home
now, Phelim, mavourneen; the raw night air is no good for ye."

"They may say what they will, Norah," said the boy, "but I'm sure I
will love ye for ever. An' ye'll tache me to get those heavenly
feelings, I'll jist follow the road ye have taken. I've plenty o'
time, as ye know."

"Do ye mean, will I teach you to read?"

"Yes."

"I'll speak to Miss Annie about it. Hurry home as fast as you can.
Good-night, and God bless you."

With an affectionate kiss they parted; and Annorah went slowly back to
her young mistress's room.

"How is this, Annorah?" asked Mrs. Lee, as she entered. "How happened
you to return so soon?"

"I have not been home, an' ye please, ma'am."

"Are you not going to-night?" asked Annie, raising her head from her
pillow, and noticing, with a little anxiety, the unusual expression
of her attendant's face.

"It's Phelim, my brother, miss, has been here, and it's a house full
o' company there is at home."

"And they want you to spend the holy Sabbath to-morrow in visiting
them, I suppose."

"No, Miss Annie."

"What then?" asked Mrs. Lee, after a moment's silence.

"Nothing to speak of, ma'am. Leastways nothing to trouble ye about."

"But I can see that it is something that troubles you, Norah," said
Annie, taking the rough hand of Annorah in hers, and drawing her
nearer. "Is it something that you would rather I should not know?"

"Indeed no. But it's loath I am to add my bit troubles to yours, when
ye suffer yer own so patiently. It's only that all my relatives, and
the praste, and the Catholic neighbours, are waiting for me to come
home, to bring me back to the ould Church by force. An' Phelim, poor
boy, came to tell me to keep away. It's worse he'll be for the damp
air; and it's angry they'll be for my staying away."

"Ah! Annorah, my dear nurse, I was afraid that rougher times awaited
you. I was afraid they would persecute you."

"But they haven't yet, Miss Annie."

"Perhaps it is not what you would call persecution, but it is sad to
have those we love turn against us. You must trust in God, my poor
girl. He will give you grace to bear it all."



CHAPTER VI.

THE CONFESSIONAL--AN IRISH FROLIC.


Great was the uproar in Biddy Dillon's cottage when it was found that
Annorah was not coming to make her usual Saturday evening visit to her
mother.

Preparations had been made by Father M'Clane for holding a regular
confessional; and an hour before sunset, he had taken his seat in the
little darkened chamber, behind a table on which four tallow-candles
were burning, with an uncertain, flickering light.

It had been decided in the council of relatives and friends that
Annorah's only chance of salvation lay in speedy confession, and it
was very reasonably supposed, that could she be brought back to that
Popish duty, a great point would be gained in the way to her perfect
restoration.

It was, therefore, no affectionate, loving circle that had now
assembled to "bear a hand" in Annorah's restoration to the faith. One
after another went reverently on their knees up the short, steep
stairway, and came down lighter in purse, and, as the priest wickedly
taught them, absolved of all offences, but swelling with wrath against
the poor girl whose coming was so long delayed. And when, at last, it
became apparent that she would not come, a storm of abuse was poured
upon Biddy, who, it was evident to all, did not cordially join in
their violent measures.

Now, Biddy Dillon had too much of the national character to sit down
quietly and receive their abuse, and soon a regular quarrel ensued,
which would have speedily become a fight, but for the descent of
Father M'Clane into their midst, and his imperative command that each
one should sit down quietly and "hould his tongue."

"Whisht! whisht! Of what are ye thinking, ye silly gossoons? Will ye
bring down the peace officers upon ye, and take out the bit o' the
night in the prison, instead o' drinking me health, as ye may, and me
helping to do that same? Arrah! Why should ye glower and snarl at each
other, like a kennel o' mad puppies, when it's the brave frolic ye may
have together? It's the soft looks and the fine words ye must use, an'
ye would win the young heretic back; ye may fight over her till the
great day o' all, and it will be but a sorrowful waste o' the
powther, barrin' the swate chance ye are losing now o' a comfortable
frolic. Arrah, now, Dennis darlin', a sup o' the whisky for me, a
thrifle sthrong, an' ye plaze. It's a could night to be out wi' an
empty stoomach."

"Stay till the morning, father," said Biddy, coming up to him with an
anxious face; "we cannot kape peace an' ye do not bide wi' us; the
frolic will be all the better an' ye stay to the orderin' o' it,--and
the best bed is waitin' yer riverence's convanience. There's Sandy and
Mike will fight an' ye lave, and Katy there is ready to tear out the
eyes o' big Nelly Murphy. It's quarrelling they've been the whole
blessed day. Bide with us, lest the dear childer who is the cause o'
it all should be kilt and murdered intirely, an' she sthrays home
to-night."

She spoke in a low voice, and he replied in the same tone, drawing her
back from the crowd, who were all talking together.

"Look here, Biddy Dillon," he said; "the girl must lave that grand
house and come home to live here with you."

"Lave Miss Annie, do ye mane, sir?"

"Small hope for her sowl an' she do not."

"And few are the pennies I can bring to yer riverence when the child
has no wages to bring home o' a Saturday. Sorra a hap'orth to spare
will I find; it's no me two hands alone can find bread for the mouths
o' all, and--"

"Stuff and nonsense!" interrupted the priest; "there's many another
place can be had for a sthrong, likely lass like her. Good servants
are not over plenty, and she can be better placed."

"But where, I would like ye to tell? It's in a Protestant family she
must be, an' she goes out to service at all."

"Yes; but they'll let her alone in some houses. Sorra a bit do the
most o' them care what becomes o' the sowl, an' the work be done to
their liking. Our Lady be praised! it's to the far counthrees that the
Protestant missionaries are sent, and the silver is given; for
one-half o' the pains taken wi' the poor crathurs who work in their
kitchens would have ruined us all."

"Yer riverence spakes thrue, to be shure," said Biddy; "but for all
that, it will never be a bit o' use to thry to make a good Catholic o'
Norah, now that she can read the big books and talk so bravely
herself. An' it were to be the savin' o' her life, she would never
confess to a praste again, or take the holy wafer from his hands. But
if ye would take it aisy and lave it to me, and persuade these
meddlesome boobies to mind their own particular business, and
throuble us no more, it's meself would be sure to bring the handsome
sum to yer riverence when I come to confession. Contrariwise, you see,
and you kape fussing, and they kape fussing, it's all loss it is to
ye, and no gain."

The priest's countenance brightened perceptibly. He seemed much
impressed with Biddy's view of the case, and was not slow to perceive
its worldly wisdom. So, after addressing the waiting company to some
purpose, he left them.

But Biddy sat thoughtfully in a corner, with her lame boy. She had, in
her conversation with the priest, cunningly hit on an expedient to
propitiate him for a time, but she was ill at ease. She could not at
once throw off the chains of teaching that had bound her all her life;
and so dim was the light that she had received, that she dared not yet
follow it.

"Oh, then, it's a jewel she is, core o' me heart, Norah dear!"

The last two words were whispered so loud that Phelim heard them, and
he said, "I've seen her to-night, mother."

"Who? Spake aisy, mavourneen."

"Our Norah."

"When?" questioned his mother, with an anxious glance at the unheeding
revellers.

"Afther dusk. I thought ye would like her to kape away to-night."

"Now blessings on ye for a handy callant as ye are," said Biddy,
patting his shoulder approvingly. "An' how is she?"

"Well as ever, mother, and kind-tempered and good too. A power of good
things she has sent, and they're safe hid in the cellar. The money is
in me coat pocket, mother. Shall I give it ye?"

"Not now. Kape it till all be gone. Was she sorry or mad, Phelim?"

"Mad? Not at all. Sorry? I don't know at all. Her voice was all
courage and kindness; but I saw big tears on her cheek, for all that."

The mother and son sat silently looking into the fire for a few
moments. At last Phelim spoke. "Mother," said the boy, "ye'll not have
them abuse her and torment her, just for changing into such a dear
crathur?"

"She's a heretic, lad."

"What o' that? She's good, any way," said Phelim stoutly. "I would I
were a big man. We'd see who would throuble her then. It's a thrashin'
they'd get, an' it's manners they'd learn, and no charges made for the
teaching."

"Whisht, lad! it's careful and sly we must be. An' do ye not bother
yer poor head wi' yer sister's new notions. It's a nation o' throuble
I'd have with a pair o' ye at once; and ye're no earning money,
Phelim, boy, to buy off the praste. Kape a still tongue, lad, an' ye
bite it in two; an' don't go for to meddle wi' matters concerning yer
sowl. The praste an' yer poor mother will kape a sharp look-out; an'
it will go hard, shure, if between us ye are not saved at last."

"But, mother, where is the harm if I look for meself a bit? Who can
see Norah, so gentle and loving, so careful o' you and me, so pleasant
to every one, and not want to know more o' the way she has taken?"

"Yes, yes, lad; but have ye no sense at all? What if ye have been
tould a secret, can ye not kape it the same? Now mind, once for all;
ye're not to know it at all, if Norah brings home the Word o' the Lord
to read to her ould ignorant mother (it's a swate voice she has), and
ye shall hear the big Book as well; only mind, Phelim, acushla, ye're
to know nothing at all, let who will spake to ye o' the same."

"Yes; but, mother, what if I myself learn to--"

"Hush!--Is it o' me ye are spaking?" asked Biddy, turning to a cluster
of people who had drawn near them. "It's no hearty I feel to-night,
and poor lame Phelim is kaping me company. Is it room for the dance ye
are wanting? The other is the roomiest, and the floor is the
plainest."

Hurrying out with ready good-will to assist in the needful
preparations, Biddy soon removed any suspicions that might have been
entertained in the minds of any of her neighbours of any leaning on
her part toward heresy.



CHAPTER VII.

BIDDY DILLON BECOMES A "HERETIC."


Several months passed quietly by. It was winter, and the heaviest snow
that had fallen within the memory of that personage so universally
known and respected--namely, the oldest inhabitant--now lay upon the
ground; and all in town and country who were partial to the exercise
of skating could enjoy it freely. But the severe cold confined the
delicate invalids to their heated rooms, and fair Annie Lee again
found herself shut up to the tiresome routine of sick-room pleasures,
only varied by intervals of suffering. The pleasure, however,
predominated. She seemed almost to forget her pain and increasing
languor in her unceasing efforts to instruct her young nurse.

Annorah, on her part, thirsted for knowledge, especially for the
wisdom that cometh from above. She improved, too, rapidly enough to
satisfy a less partial teacher. In the varied arts of housewifery, and
in the more intricate use of the needle, she had also become quite
expert, and, to use Mrs. Lee's own words, "was quite a treasure in
every part of the house."

Little lame Phelim came for an hour each afternoon to Miss Annie's
room to be made a "schollard, shure;" and every Saturday evening found
Annorah, with her Bible, seated by her mother's fireside, reading, and
in her own earnest but uncouth manner expounding the truths she read.

One Sabbath evening in March, Father M'Clane set out for a walk to
Mrs. Dillon's cottage. His prospects and reflections had been of a
grave and sad character throughout the day, and his threadbare coat
and lean purse had been more than usually suggestive of the great
truth, that all earthly comforts are fleeting and transitory.

For the first time Biddy had that day absented herself from the
Catholic chapel. Annorah had lately added to her Scripture reading,
"Kirwan's Letters to Archbishop Hughes." She read it to her mother
whenever a spare hour enabled her to run home. Biddy had been greatly
interested in the appeals and arguments of her talented countryman,
and deeply impressed by his life-like delineation of the follies and
superstitions of the Romish ritual.

"It's rasonable he is intirely," she said, "and a bright son o' the
ould counthree, blessin's on it! It's him who spakes well o' the poor
ruined crathers, and praises us all for the natural generous-sowled
people we are. He knows us intirely, Norah dear. Shure he's a
wonderful man and a bould, let alone the thrue son o' ould Ireland,
for doing the beautiful thing. Read us one more letther, mavourneen,
before ye are off, and lave the book here. Mayhap Phelim will spell
out a morsel or so when the Sabbath even is coom."

"You will not go to confession to-morrow, dear mother?" said Annorah.

"Not I," replied Biddy firmly.

"It goes to my heart, mother, that the money we earn so hardly, and
which should be kept to comfort your old age, should go for nothing,
or worse."

"I will do it no more. Make yer heart aisy, honey. Never a penny o'
mine will the praste hould in his hand again."

"He will visit you, mother."

"An' what o' that? Let him coom. He is welcome an' he minds his own
business, and only dhraps in for a bit o' gossip; but an' he
interferes in me private consarns, it's soon he'll find himself
relaved o' all throuble on account o' us."

Annorah saw that there was no reason now to fear that her mother would
be overawed by the priest; but she still lingered anxiously. Her
mother saw the shade on her face, and asked,--

"What is it, Norah? Are you in throuble?"

"Do not quarrel with him, mother," replied the daughter.

"Let him be dacent, and it's ceevil treatment he'll get; but no man
shall browbeat me on me own floor," said Biddy, in a tone which
declared the firmness of her purpose.

It was on the night succeeding this conversation, that Father M'Clane
visited the cottage. As he approached the house he paused at the
unusual sound of a voice reading. It was Phelim imperfectly spelling
out to his mother and a few of the neighbours one of the letters of
Kirwan. The priest, who was not remarkably well versed in the books of
the day, did not know the work, but supposed that it was the Bible to
which they were so profoundly listening. His face grew as dark as the
night shades around him.

"I've caught ye at last!" he exclaimed, as, without ceremony, he burst
into the room. "This tells the story. It's not that ye are ill in bed,
or hindered by the rain, or the could; it's because ye are heretics
all, that ye shun the confession and the holy mass. Do ye know what
the Church has power to do wi' the like o' ye? Arrah! it was the
heavenly and not the mortal wisdom that made the hot fires o'
purgatory for such. Small help will ye get from me when the flames are
scorching ye. Never a mass shall be said for a sowl o' ye, unless ye
repent at once."

"And what call have ye to spake the like o' that," said Biddy, "and me
sitting peaceably by me own fire wi' the neighbours?" She spoke in a
low, uncertain tone, for his sudden appearance had startled her. A
hush had fallen on the little assembly, and signs of terror flitted
across the faces of the most timid, as the familiar voice of the
priest recalled their old Popish fears. He was not slow to perceive
this, or to take advantage of it.

"And who taught yer lame boy to read at all? Who brought the heretic
Bible into yer house? And who gathered the poor neighbours together to
hear the false words that lead to perdition? Answer me that, Misthress
Dillon," said the priest in a tone of anger.

Biddy did not reply, though she had quite regained her usual courage.

"I'll ask ye a plain question, Biddy Dillon, and I want a straight
answer. Will ye, or will ye not, give up these heretic doings, and
stay in the communion o' the holy Church?"

"An' it plaze yer riverence," replied Biddy, no ways disconcerted,
"yer blessed saints are nothing to me; an' I shall do as I plaze."

"Hear the woman! Do you hear the bould blasphemer?" he exclaimed.

"An' what if they do hear? It were a sore pity they should be sthruck
deaf to plaze ye," replied Biddy, her eyes flashing with excitement.
"I would ye were in ould Ireland, or, for the matther o' that, in
purgatory itself."

"We would--" said the priest.

"No doubt o' it. But it's here I am, at yer service," interrupted
Biddy.

"Yes, and it's here ye've been bought for a wee pinch o' tae and a few
poor, lean chickens. Sowl and body ye've been bought, and a mighty
poor bargain have the blind purchasers made o' it."

"Plazing yer riverence, ye know nought o' what ye are saying, and
small throuble ye'll make wi' yer idle words. It's not a turkey, duck,
or hen could buy Biddy Dillon. Ye've tried it yerself, father, and so
ye know."

"It's a black heart ye have," said the priest, whose courage was
hardly equal to his anger, and whose valour speedily cooled before
resolute opposition. "It's blacker than ink ye are, Biddy Dillon,
with the wicked heresy."

Like most Irish women, Biddy was well skilled in the art of scolding,
and among her neighbours was considered rather more expert in the
business than themselves. When angry, abusive epithets seemed to fall
as naturally from her tongue as expressions of endearment when she was
pleased.

"A black heart, did ye say?" she cried, rising and facing the priest,
who involuntarily retired a step from her; "the same to yerself! An'
ye were bathed in Lough Ennel, and rinsed in the Shannon at Athlone,
it would not half clane out the vile tricks ye are so perfect in. A
black heart has Biddy Dillon? An' ye were ducked and soaked over night
in the Liffey mud at Dublin, ye were claner than now? A black heart?
An' yerself an ould penshioner, idle and mane, stirrin' up a scrimmage
in an honest woman's house, and repeating yer haythenish nonsense, an'
ye able and sthrong to take hould o' the heaviest end o' the work! Are
ye not ashamed? What are ye good for?"

"The saints preserve us! what a tongue the woman has!" exclaimed
Father M'Clane, making a futile effort to smile, as he turned his
face, now pale as death, toward the company. "But I have no time to
stay longer. I warn ye all, my friends, to kape away from this
accursed house, and to turn a deaf ear to all that is said to ye here.
Your souls are in peril. Ye are almost caught in the snare. Ye should
run for yer lives before ye perish entirely. I shall remember you,
Biddy Dillon."

"In course ye will. An' ye show yerself here again, barrin' as a
peaceable frind or ould acquaintance, ye'll find yerself remimbered
too, honey."

There was a silence of some minutes after the priest left the house.
It was broken by the most timid of the party.

"Afther all, Biddy, my heart misgives me. Of what use are all the
prayers on the beads, the Hail Marys, and the penance, the fasting
from meat on Fridays, or even the blessed salt o' our baptism, if we
anger the praste, and he refuse to give us the holy oil at the last?
What will become o' us then?"

"What can a wicked ould praste do to help us? It's God alone can
strengthen us then. I wouldn't give a penny for the oil. It's a
betther way, darlin', that God has provided for us. It's a brave story
that Phelim is waiting to read to us. There's thruth and sense in it,
too, ye will find.--It's a fine counthree is this, Masther Barry, and
a free," added Biddy, turning to a stout man, who, with scarcely a
whole article in his apparel, was lounging in the shade of a corner.

"Thrue for ye," he replied,--"though it's little I get out of it,
barrin' the sup o' whisky wi' my supper."

"But ye might--the more shame it is. Ye are weel-conditioned and
hearty. It's no the counthree is to blame, neighbour, nor Katy indade.
She works night and day for ye an' the childer. Ye are better here
than over the sae."

"Oh, then, I don't know. When I came to this counthree, I had never a
rag to me back, an' now, faith, I'm nothing but rags. A fine, illigant
counthree!"

"Lave the liquor alone, Peter Barry, and ye may have the best of the
land for yerself. An' ye would give up the dhrinking, a better lad
could not be found, nor a handsomer."

"It's too sthrong for me. It's many a day have I given it up for ever,
and been drunk as a beast in an hour. But to-night, says Katy to me,
'It's the heretic Bible as is read at Mrs. Dillon's has a cure in it
for weak sinners like you, Peter dear.' So I came to hear a bit o' the
Bible, an' ye plaze."

So Kirwan's Letters were laid aside, and a New Testament brought out.
Phelim read very poorly, and was often obliged to spell over the long
words, and did not always succeed in giving the correct pronunciation;
but no fault was found by his eager listeners. He read how Christ
healed the leper, and poor Peter Barry found in the story a word of
encouragement for him. He read of the Saviour's gracious compassion
for the hungering multitude; and his ignorant auditors praised the
divine Being who so sympathized with mortal infirmities. Phelim was
often interrupted by remarks or approving comments, but these in no
way diminished the interest of the sacred story.



CHAPTER VIII.

ANNIE'S DEATH--ANNORAH'S PROSPECTS.


On every pleasant evening Biddy Dillon's cottage was thronged by those
who came to listen to the Word of God. It was in vain that Father
M'Clane opposed these meetings. His threats and arguments, once so
potent, seemed now but to lessen his power. He even secured the
services of a neighbouring priest, and with him visited each Irish
family in succession, coaxing and flattering where his authority was
not acknowledged. But, alas for him and his prospects! he could do
nothing with the people.

The Protestant clergyman of the village, when he heard of the interest
felt in lame Phelim's reading, readily came to their assistance, and
joyfully read and explained the divine lessons. As their knowledge of
the right way increased, their impressions of its importance to them
personally were deepened, and Annorah soon had the happiness of seeing
not only her mother and brother bowing at the foot of the cross of
Christ, but many others earnestly seeking the salvation of their
souls.

The little Irish neighbourhood had been named New Dublin. It stood
quite by itself, a thick belt of wood and the narrow mill-stream
isolating it from the large village, where Mr. Lee's residence stood.
Nothing but the smoke, which in summer as well as in winter is ever
pouring from Irish chimneys, revealed to a visitor the existence of
their pleasant hamlet. Still it was not so far retired but that, when
a wake was held for the dead, the noise of the revelry seriously
disturbed their quieter neighbours; and when a row ensued, as was
often the case, the distant uproar alarmed as well as annoyed the
timid women and children. But no one thought of interfering. The
wealthy owners of the iron-works and factories in the vicinity were
glad to secure their labour, because of its cheapness, and never
troubled themselves about an occasional noise, if the general
interests of their business were not neglected.

There were not wanting those who pitied their low estate, and who
would have sincerely rejoiced in their elevation; but until poor
invalid Annie Lee began to instruct Annorah, no one had dreamed of
winning them, by self-sacrifice and kindness, to a knowledge of the
truth. Annie herself, while patiently explaining over and over again
what seemed to her as simple and plain as possible, little imagined
the glorious results that were indirectly to grow out of her feeble
efforts. But God watches the least attempt to do good, and fosters the
tiniest seed sown; and Annie, without knowing it, was sowing seed for
a plenteous harvest.

But while the good work prospered, she herself was rapidly ripening
for heaven. She knew that she was hastening to a better land, even a
heavenly; and she strove to improve every moment of the time that
remained, in efforts to give stability to Annorah's religious
feelings. Many were the conversations that they had together on the
condition of the poor Irish people, and countless almost were the
directions that Annorah received in regard to the best methods of
winning their love and confidence. Young as she was, Annie had
learned that all efforts to benefit the unfortunate or ignorant are
vain so long as the cold shoulder is turned towards them. She had
proved in Annorah's case the magic effect of loving words and
sympathy.

As the spring advanced, Annie grew weaker. The mild air seemed to
enervate rather than to brace her system, and she grew daily more
emaciated. Her paroxysms of pain were less frequent, and she suffered
most from languor and drowsiness. It was apparent to all but her fond
parents that her days were numbered. They watched over her with the
tenderest affection, hoping when there was no hope, and persuading
themselves and each other that she would rally again when the ripe
summer brought its gentle breezes and beautiful blossoms.

"She is so fond of flowers and of the open air," said Mrs. Lee to
Annorah, when, after an unusually restless and painful day, Annie had
fallen asleep at last, and both left the room to breathe the fresh
evening air. "When the weather gets settled so that she can let you
draw her little carriage down by the mill-stream again, she will
brighten up and get stronger. It is enough to make a well person ill,
to be shut up so long."

"Ye know best, shure," said Annorah, in her grief resuming her
national accent and brogue--"Ye know best, but it's thinner and weaker
she's getting, and is a baby for weight in me arms. Och! the dark day
it will be for poor Norah when she looks her last on that swate angel
face!" And the poor girl burst into tears, and covered her face with
her apron. After a few moments she went on to say,--"It'll go hard wi'
ye all, Mrs. Lee: ye'll miss her dear ways an' her heavenly smiles;
she is yer own blood, were she not an angel intirely. But oh, ma'am,
she's been to me what no words can tell; and the short life o' me will
seem without end till I go to wait on her above. Oh, what'll I do
without her, when the whole world is dark as night?"

Mrs. Lee could not reply, for she, too, was weeping. There was
something in Annorah's desolate tone that went to her heart, and
inspired a pitying affection for the plain-looking girl by her side,
which she would once have thought impossible. She began to comprehend
the mystery of Annie's caressing manner to her young nurse.

"Annorah, my poor girl," she faltered at length.

"Ah, ma'am, in all me troubles, and when I was wickedest, was it not
her voice that was full and sweet with the pleasant encouragement? Oh,
core o' me heart, acushla, what'll I do? what'll I do?"

"We must trust in God, Annorah. If he takes her from us, it will be
for the best, and we must learn to say, 'His will be done.' She will
leave us her lovely example to guide us, and we shall not forget how
she strove to do good. We shall be lonely; but is it not selfish in us
to wish her to stay here and suffer? God knows what is best for us
all."

It was but a little time that they were permitted to hope. Fair Annie
Lee's appointed work was done, her mission of love was accomplished,
and she was ready to depart. Shut up by her protracted illness from
all the ordinary paths of usefulness, she had found out a way to work
in her Saviour's service. Long will it be ere her gentle acts of
kindness will be forgotten, or her precious influence cease to be felt
by those who knew her.

She died suddenly, perhaps unconsciously at last. Annorah had placed
her couch so that she could see the beautiful changes in the rich June
sunset; and when she returned after a moment's absence to her side,
she found that, with a sweet smile of joyous triumph on her lips, she
had fallen asleep in Jesus.

       *       *       *       *       *

Annorah, although greatly refined by reading and association with
educated people, and especially improved by the happy influence of
true religion, yet retains enough of the characteristics of her nation
to make her an acceptable visitor in the humblest cottage in New
Dublin. It was long after the death of her young mistress before she
regained her usual cheerfulness. But time, the great healer of sorrow,
has gradually softened her grief, and made her cherished memories of
Miss Annie, like beautiful pictures, very pleasant to look upon.


FINIS



Transcriber's Note

Minor typographic punctuation errors have been corrected without note.

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.

There is a large amount of dialect in this book, which all remains as
printed in the original text. This includes some variable spelling,
e.g. crather--crathur, plase--plaze.

Page 55--Sharron amended to Shannon--"... and rinsed in the Shannon at
Athlone ..."





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