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Title: The Black Prophet: A Tale Of Irish Famine - Traits And Stories Of The Irish Peasantry, The Works of - William Carleton, Volume Three
Author: Carleton, William
Language: English
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THE BLACK PROPHET:

A TALE OF IRISH FAMINE.


By William Carleton



CHAPTER I. -- Glendhu, or the Black Glen; Scene of Domestic Affection.


Some twenty and odd years ago there stood a little cabin at the foot
of a round hill, that very much resembled a cupola in shape, and which,
from its position and height, commanded a prospect of singular beauty.
This hill was one of a range that ran from north to southwest; but in
consequence of its standing, as it were, somewhat out of the ranks, its
whole appearance and character as a distinct feature of the country were
invested with considerable interest to a scientific eye, especially
to that of a geologist. An intersection or abrupt glen divided it from
those which constituted the range or group alluded to; through this, as
a pass in the country, and the only one for miles, wound a road into an
open district on the western side, which road, about half a mile after
its entering the glen, was met by a rapid torrent that came down from
the gloomy mountains that rose to the left. The foot of this hill, which
on the southern side was green and fertile to the top, stretched off and
was lost in the rich land that formed the great and magnificent valley
it helped to bound, and to which the chasm we have described was but an
entrance; the one bearing to the other, in size and position, much the
same relation that a small bye-lane in a country town bears to the great
leading street which constitutes its principal feature.

Noon had long passed, and the dim sun of a wet autumnal day was sloping
down towards the west through clouds and gloom, when a young girl of
about twenty-one or twenty-two years of age came out of the cabin we
have mentioned, and running up to the top of a little miniature hill or
knob that rose beside it, looked round in every direction, as if anxious
to catch a glimpse of some one whom she expected. It appeared, however,
that she watched in vain; for after having examined the country in every
direction with an eye in which might be read a combined expression of
eagerness, anger and disappointment, she once more returned to the cabin
with a slow and meditating step. This she continued to do from time
to time for about an hour and a half, when at length a female appeared
approaching, whom she at once recognized.

The situation of this hovel, for such, in fact, it must be termed,
was not only strikingly desolate, but connected also with wild and
supernatural terrors. From the position of the glen itself, a little
within which it stood, it enjoyed only a very limited portion of the
sun’s cheering beams. As the glen was deep and precipitous, so was the
morning light excluded from it by the northeastern hills, as was that of
evening by those which rose between it and the west. Indeed, it would
be difficult to find a spot marked by a character of such utter solitude
and gloom. Naturally barren, it bore not a single shrub on which a bird
could sit or a beast browse, and little, of course, was to be seen in
it but the bare gigantic projections of rock which shot out of its steep
sides in wild and uncouth shapes, or the grey, rugged expanses of which
it was principally composed. Indeed, we feel it difficult to say whether
the gloom of winter or the summer’s heat fell upon it with an air of
lonelier desolation. It mattered not what change of season came, the
place presented no appearance of man or his works. Neither bird or beast
was seen or heard, except rarely, within its dreary bosom, the only
sounds it knew being the monotonous murmurs of the mountain torrent, or
the wild echoes of the thunder storms that pealed among the hills about
it. Silence and solitude were the characteristics which predominated in
it and it would not be easy to say whether they were felt more during
the gloom of November or the glare of June.

In the mouth of this glen, not far from the cabin we have described, two
murders had been committed about twenty years before the period of our
narrative, within the lapse of a month. The one was that of a carman,
and the other of a man named Sullivan, who also had been robbed, as it
was supposed the carman had been, for the bodies of both had been made
way with and were never found. This was evident--in the one case by the
horse and cart of the carman remaining by the grey stone in question,
on which the traces of blood were long visible; and in the other by the
circumstance of Sullivan’s hat and part of his coat having been found
near the cabin in question on the following day, in a field through
which his path home lay, and in which was a pool of blood, where his
foot-marks were deeply imprinted, as if in a struggle for life and
death. For this latter murder a man named Dalton had been taken up,
under circumstances of great suspicion, he having been the last person
seen in the man’s company. Both had been drinking together in the
market, a quarrel had originated between them about money matters, blows
had been exchanged, and Dalton was heard to threaten him in very strong
language. Nor was this all. He had been observed following or rather
dogging him on his way home, and although the same road certainly led
to the residence of both, yet when his words and manner were taken into
consideration, added to the more positive proof that the footmarks left
on the place of struggle exactly corresponded with his shoes, there
could be little doubt that he was privy to Sullivan’s murder and
disappearance, as well probably as to his robbery. At all events the
glen was said to be haunted by Sullivan’s spirit, which was in the
habit, according to report, of appearing near the place of murder, from
whence he was seen to enter this chasm--a circumstance which, when taken
in connection with its dark and lonely aspect, was calculated to impress
upon the place the I reputation of being accursed, as the scene of
crime and supernatural appearances. We remember having played in it
when young, and the feeling we experienced was one of awe and terror, to
which might be added, on contemplating the “dread repose” and solitude
around us, an impression that we were removed hundreds of miles from
the busy ongoings and noisy tumults of life, to which, as if seeking
protection, we generally hastened with a strong sense of relief, after
having tremblingly gratified our boyish curiosity.

The young girl in question gave the female she had been expecting any
thing but a cordial or dutiful reception. In personal appearance
there was not a point of resemblance between them, although the _tout
ensemble_ of each was singularly striking and remarkable. The girl’s
locks were black as the raven’s wing: her figure was tall and slender,
but elastic and full of symmetry. The ivory itself was not more white
nor glossy than her skin; her teeth were--bright and beautiful, and her
mouth a perfect rosebud. It is unnecessary to say that her eyes
we’re black and brilliant, for such ever belong to her complexion and
temperament; but it in necessary to add, that they were piercing and
unsettled, and you felt that they looked into you rather than at you or
upon you. In fact, her features were all perfect, yet it often happened
that their general expression was productive of no agreeable feeling on
the beholder. Sometimes her smile was sweet as that of an angel, but let
a single impulse or whim be checked, and her face assumed a character of
malignity that made her beauty appear like that which we dream of in an
evil spirit.

The other woman, who stood to her in the relation of step-mother, was
above the middle size. Her hair was sandy, or approaching to a pale red;
her features were coarse, but regular; and her whole figure that of
a well-made and powerful woman. In her countenance might be read a
peculiar blending of sternness and benignity, each evidently softened
down by an expression of melancholy--perhaps of suffering--as if some
secret care lay brooding at her heart. The inside of the hovel itself
had every mark of poverty and destitution about it. Two or three stools,
a pot or two, one miserable standing bed, and a smaller one gathered up
under a rug in the corner, were almost all that met the eye on entering
it; and simple as these meagre portions of furniture were, they bore no
marks of cleanliness or care. On the contrary, everything appeared to be
neglected, squalid and filthy--such, precisely, as led one to see at a
glance that the inmates of this miserable hut were contented with their
wretched state of life, and had no notion whatsoever that any moral or
domestic duty existed, by which they might be taught useful notions of
personal comfort and self-respect.

“So,” said the young woman, addressing her step-mother, as she entered,
“you’re come back at last, an’ a purty time you tuck to stay away!”

“Well,” replied the other, calmly, “I’m here now at any rate; but I see
you’re in one of your tantrums, Sally, my lady. What’s wrong, I say? In
the mean time don’t look as if you’d ait us widout salt.”

“An’ a bitter morsel you’d be,” replied the younger, with a flashing
glance--“divil a more so. Here am I, sittin’, or running out an’ in,
these two hours, when I ought to be at the dance in Kilnahushogue,
before I go to Barny Gormly’s wake; for I promised to be at both. Why
didn’t you come home in time?”

“Bekaise, achora, it wasn’t agreeable to me to do so. I’m beginnin’ to
got ould an’ stiff, an’ its time for me to take care of myself.”

“Stiffer may you be, then, soon, an’ oulder may you never be, an’ that’s
the best I wish you!”

“Aren’t you afeard to talk to me in that way?” said the elder of the
two.

“No--not a bit. You won’t flake me now as you used to do. I am able an’
willin’ to give blow for blow at last, thank goodness; an’ will, too, if
ever you thry that thrick.”

The old woman gazed at her angrily, and appeared for a moment to
meditate an assault. After a pause, however, during which the brief but
vehement expression of rising fury passed from her countenance, and her
face assumed an expression more of compassion than of anger, she simply
said, in a calm tone of voice--

“I don’t know that I ought to blame you so much for your temper, Sarah.
The darkness of your father’s sowl is upon yours; his wicked spirit is
in you, an’ may Heaven above grant that you’ll never carry about with
you, through this unhappy life, the black an’ heavy burden that weighs
down his heart! If God hasn’t said it, you have his coorse, or something
nearly as bad, before you. Oh! go to the wake as soon as you like,
an’ to the dance, too. Find some one that’ll take you off of my hands;
that’ll put a house over your head--give you a bit to ait, an’ a rag to
put on you; an’ may God pity him that’s doomed to get you! If the woeful
state of the country, an’ the hunger an’ sickness that’s abroad, an’
that’s comin’ harder an’ faster on us every day, can’t tame you or keep
you down, I dunna what will. I’m sure the black an’ terrible summer
we’ve had ought to make you think of how we’ll get over all that’s
before us! God pity you, I say again, an’ whatever poor man is to be
cursed wid you!”

“Keep your pity for them that wants it,” replied the other, “an’ that’s
not me. As for God’s pity, it isn’t yours to give, and even if it was,
you stand in need of it yourself more than I do. You’re beginning
to praich to us now that you’re not able to bait us; but for your
praichments an’ your baitins, may the divil pay you for all alike!--as
he will--an’ that’s my prayer.”

A momentary gush of the step-mother’s habitual passion overcame her; she
darted at her step-daughter, who sprung to her limbs, and flew at her
in return. The conflict at first was brief, for the powerful strength of
the elder female soon told. Sarah, however, quickly disengaged herself,
and seizing an old knife which lay on a shell that served as a dresser,
she made a stab at the very heart of her step-mother, panting as she did
it with an exulting vehemence of vengeance that resembled the growlings
which a savage beast makes when springing on its prey.

“Ha!” she exclaimed, “you have it now--you have it! Call on God’s pity
now, for you’ll soon want it. Ha! ha!”

The knife, however, owing to the thick layers of cloth with which the
dress of the other was patched, as well as to the weakness of the thin
and worn blade, did not penetrate her clothes, nor render her any injury
whatsoever. The contest was again resumed. Sarah, perceiving that she
had missed her aim, once more put herself into a posture to renew the
deadly attempt; and the consequence was, that a struggle now took place
between them which might almost be termed one for life and death. It was
indeed a frightful and unnatural struggle. The old woman, whose object
was, if possible, to disarm her antagonist, found all her strength--and
it was great--scarcely a match for the murderous ferocity which was now
awakened in her. The grapple between them consequently became furious;
and such was the terrible impress of diabolical malignity which passion
stamped upon the features of this young tigress, that her step-mother’s
heart, for a moment quailed on beholding it, especially when associated
with the surprising activity and strength which she put forth., Her dark
and finely-pencilled eye-brows were fiercely knit, as it were, into one
dark line; her lips were drawn back, displaying her beautiful teeth,
that were now ground together into what resembled the lock of death: her
face was pale with over-wrought with resentment, and her deep-set eyes
glowed with a wild and flashing fire that was fearful, while her
lips were encircled with the white foam of revengeful and deadly
determination; and what added most to the terrible expression on her
whole face was the exulting smile of cruelty which shed its baleful
light over it, resolving the whole contest, as it were, and its
object--the murder of her step-mother--into the fierce play of some
beautiful vampire that was ravening for the blood of its awakened
victim.

After a struggle of some two or three minutes, the strength and coolness
of the step-mother at length prevailed, she wrested the knife out of
Sarah’s hands and, almost at the same moment, stumbled and fell. The
other, however, was far from relaxing her hold. On the contrary, she
clung to her fiercely, shouting out--

“I won’t give you up yet--I love you too well for that--no, no, it’s
fond of you I’m gettin’. I’ll hug you, mother, dear; ay will I, and kiss
you too, an’ lave my mark behind me!” and, as she spoke, her step-mother
felt her face coming in savage proximity to her own.

“If you don’t keep away, Sarah,” said the other, “I’ll stab you. What do
you mane, you bloody devil? It is going to tear my flesh with your teeth
you are? Hould off! or, as heaven’s above us, I’ll stab you with the
knife.”

“You can’t,” shouted the other; “the knife’s bent, or you’d be done for
before this. I’ll taste your blood for all that!” and, as the words were
uttered, the step-mother gave a sudden scream, making at the same time a
violent effort to disentangle herself, which she did.

Sarah started to her feet, and flying towards the door, exclaimed with
shouts of wild triumphant laughter--

“Ha, ha, ha! do you feel anything? I was near havin’ the best part of
one of your ears--ha, ha, ha!--but unfortunately I missed it; an’ now
look to yourself. Your day is gone, an’ mine is come. I’ve tasted-your
blood, an’ I like it--ha, ha, ha!--an’ if as you say it’s kind father
for me to be fond o’ blood, I say you had better take care of yourself.
And I tell you more: we’ll take care of your fair-haired beauty for
you--my father and myself will--an’ I’m told to act against her, an’ I
will too; an’ you’ll see what we’ll bring your pet, _Gra Gal_ Sullivan,
to yet! There’s news for you!”

She then went down to the river which flowed past, in whose yellow and
turbid waters--for it was now swollen with rain--she washed the blood
from her hands and face with an apparently light heart. Having meditated
for some time, she fell a laughing at the fierce conflict that had just
taken place, exclaiming to herself--

“Ha, ha, ha! Well now if I had killed her--got the ould knife into her
heart--I might lave the counthry. If I had killed her now, throth it ‘ud
be a good joke, an’ all in a fit of passion, bekase she didn’t come home
in time to let me meet him. Well, I’ll go back an’ spake soft to her,
for, afther all, she’ll give me a hard life of it.”

She returned; and, having entered the hut, perceived that the ear and
cheek of her step-mother were still bleeding.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” she said, with the utmost frankness and good
nature. “Forgive me, mother; you know I’m a hasty devil--for a devil’s
limb I am, no doubt of it. Forgive me, I say--do now--here, I’ll get
something to stop the blood.”

She sprang at the moment, with the agility of a wild cat, upon an old
chest that stood in the corner of the hut, exhibiting as she did it, a
leg and foot of surpassing symmetry and beauty. By stretching herself
up to her full length, she succeeded in pulling down several old cobwebs
that had been for years in the corner of the wall; and in the act of
doing so, disturbed some metallic substance, which fell first upon the
chest, from which it tumbled off to the ground, where it made two or
three narrowing circles, and then lay at rest.

“Murdher alive, mother!” she exclaimed, “what is this? Hallo! a
tobaccy-box--a fine round tobaccy-box of iron, bedad--an what’s this on
it!--let me see; two letthers. Wait till I rub the rust off; or stay,
the rust shows them as well. Let me see--P. an’ what’s the other? ay,
an’ M. P. M.--arra, what can that be for? Well, devil may care! let it
lie on the shelf there. Here now--none of your cross looks, I say--put
these cobwebs to your face, an’ they’ll stop the bleedin’. Ha, ha,
ha!--well--ha, ha, ha!--but you are a sight to fall in love wid this
minute!” she exclaimed, laughing heartily at the blood-stained visage
of the other. “You won’t spake, I see. Divil may care then, if you don’t
you’ll do the other thing--let it alone: but, at any rate, there’s the
cobwebs for you, if you like to put them on; an’ so _bannatht latht_,
an’ let that be a warnin’ to you not to raise your hand to me again.

     ‘A sailor courted a farmer’s daughter
     That lived contageous to the isle of Man,’” &c.

She then directed her steps to the dance in Kilnahushogue, where one
would actually suppose, if mirth, laughter, and extraordinary buoyancy
of spirits could be depended on, that she was gifted, in addition to her
remarkable beauty, with the innocent and delightful disposition of an
angel.

The step-mother having dressed the wound as well as she could, sat down
by the fire and began to ruminate on the violent contest which had just
taken place, and in which she had borne such an unfortunate part. This
was the first open and determined act of personal resistance which she
had ever, until that moment, experienced at her step-daughter’s hands;
but now she feared that, if they were to live, as heretofore, under
the same roof, their life would be one of perpetual strife--perhaps
of ultimate bloodshed--and that these domestic brawls might unhappily
terminate in the death of either. She felt that her own temper was none
of the best, and knew that so long as she was incapable of restraining
it, or maintaining her coolness under the provocations to which the
violent passions of Sarah would necessarily expose her, so long must
such conflicts as that which had just occurred take place between them.
She began now to fear Sarah, with whose remorseless disposition she
was too well acquainted, and came to the natural conclusion, that a
residence under the same roof was by no means compatible with her own
safety.

“She has been a curse to me!” she went on, unconsciously speaking aloud;
“for when she wasn’t able to bate me herself, her father did it for her.
The divil is said to be fond of his own; an’ so does he dote on her,
bekase she’s his image in everything that’s bad. A hard life I’ll lead
between them from this out, espeshially now that she’s got the upper
hand of me. Yet what else can I expect or desarve? This load that is on
my conscience is worse. Night and day I’m sufferin’ in the sight of God,
an’ actin’ as if I wasn’t to be brought in judgment afore him. What am
I to do? I wish I was in my grave! But then, agin’, how am I to face
death?--and that same’s not the worst; for afther death comes judgment!
May the Lord prepare me for it, and guide and direct me how to act! One
thing, I know, must be done--either she or I will lave this house; for
live undher the same roof wid her I will not.”

She then rose up, looked out of the door a moment, and, resuming her
seat, went on with her soliloquy--

“No; he said it was likely he wouldn’t be home to-night. Wanst he gets
upon his ould prophecies, he doesn’t care how long he stays away; an’
why he can take the delight he does in prophesyin’ and foretellin’
good or evil, accordin’ as it sarves his purpose, I’m sure I don’t
know--espeshially when he only laughs in his sleeve at the people
for believin’ him; but what’s that about poor _Gra Gal_ Sullivan? She
threatened her, and spoke of her father, too, as bein’ in it. Ah, ah! I
must watch him there; an’ you, too, my lady divil--for it ‘ill go
hard wid me if either of you injure a hair of her head. No, no, plaise
God!--none of your evil doins or unlucks prophecies for her, so long,
any way, as I can presarve her from them. How black the evenin’ is
gatherin’, but God knows that it’s the awful saison all out for the
harvest--it is that--it is that!”

Having given utterance to these sentiments, she took up the tobacco-box
which Sarah had, in such an accidental manner, tumbled out of the wall,
and surveying it for some moments, laid it hastily on the chest, and,
clasping her hands exclaimed--

“Saviour of life! it’s the same! Oh, merciful God, it’s thrue! it’s
thrue!--the very same I seen wid him that evenin’: I know it by the
broken hinge and the two letthers. The Lord forgive me my sins!--for I
see now that do what we may, or hide it as we like, God is above all!
Saviour of life, how will this end? an’ what will I do?--or how am I to
act? But any way, I must hide this, and put it out of his reach.”

She accordingly went out, and having ascertained that no person saw her,
thrust the box up under the thatch of the roof, in such a way that it
was impossible to suspect, by any apparent disturbance of the roof, that
it was there; after which, she sat down with sensations of dread that
were new to her, and that mingled themselves as strongly with her
affections as it was possible for a woman of a naturally firm and
undaunted character to feel them.



CHAPTER II. -- The Black Prophet Prophesies.


At a somewhat more advanced period of the same evening, two men were on
their way from the market-town of Ballynafail, towards a fertile portion
of the country, named Aughamuran, which lay in a southern direction
from it. One of them was a farmer, of middling, or rather of struggling,
circumstances, as was evident from the traces of wear and tear that were
visible upon a dress that had once been comfortable and decent, although
now it bore the marks of careful, though rather extensive repair. He
was a thin placid looking man, with something, however, of a careworn
expression in his features, unless when he smiled, and then his face
beamed with a look of kindness and goodwill that could not readily be
forgotten. The other was a strongly-built man, above the middle size,
whose complexion and features were such as no one could look on with
indifference, so strongly were they indicative of a twofold character,
or, we should rather say, calculated to make a twofold impression.
At one moment you might consider him handsome, and at another his
countenance filled you with an impression of repugnance, if not of
absolute aversion; so stern and inhuman were the characteristics which
you read in it. His hair, beard, and eye-brows were an ebon black, as
were his eyes; his features were hard and massive; his nose, which was
somewhat hooked, but too much pointed, seemed as if, while in a plastic
state, it had been sloped by a trowel towards one side of his face, a
circumstance which, while taken in connection with his black whiskers
that ran to a point near his mouth, and piercing eyes, that were too
deeply and narrowly set, gave him, aided by his heavy eyebrows, an
expression at once of great cruelty and extraordinary cunning. This
man, while travelling in the same direction with the other, had suffered
himself to be overtaken by him: in such a manner, however, that their
coming in contact could not be attributed to any particular design on
his part.

“Why, then, _Donnel Dhu_,” said the farmer, “sure it’s a sight for sore
eyes to see you in this side of the country; an’ now that I do see you,
how are you?”

“Jist the ould six-an’-eight-pence, Jerry; an’ how is the Sullivan
blood in you, man alive? good an’ ould blood it is, in troth; how is the
family?”

“Why we can’t--hut, what was I goin’ to say?” replied his companion; “we
can’t--complain--ershi--mishi!--why, then, God help us, it’s we that can
complain, Donnel, if there was any use in it; but, mavrone, there isn’t;
so all I can say is, that we’re jist mixed middlin’, like the praties in
a harvest, or hardly that same, indeed, since this woful change that has
come on us.”

“Ay, ay,” replied the other; “but if that change has come on you, you
know it didn’t come without warnin’ to the counthry; there’s a man
livin’ that foretould as much--that seen it comin’--ay, ever since
the pope was made prisoner, for that was what brought Bonaparte’s
fate--that’s now the cause of the downfall of everything upon him.”

“An’ it was the hard fate for us, as well as for himself,” replied
Sullivan, “little he thought, or little he cared, for what he made us
suffer, an’ for what he’s makin’ us suffer still, by the come-down that
the prices have got.”

“Well, but he’s sufferin’ himself more than any of us,” replied Donnel;
“however, that was prophesied too; it’s read of in the ould Chronicles.
‘An eagle will be sick,’ says St. Columbkill, ‘but the bed of the sick
eagle is not a tree, but a rock; an’ there, he must suffer till the
curse of the Father* is removed from him; an’ then he’ll get well, an’
fly over the world.’”

     * This is--the Pope, in consequence of Bonaparte having
     imprisoned him.

“Is that in the prophecy, Donnel?”

“It’s St. Columbian’s words I’m spakin’.”

“Throth, at any rate,” replied Sullivan, “I didn’t care we had back the
war prices again; aither that, or that the dear rents were let down to
meet the poor prices we have now. This woeful saison, along wid the low
prices and the high rents, houlds out a black and terrible look for the
counthry, God help us!”

“Ay,” returned the Black Prophet, for it was he, “if you only knew it.”

“Why, was that, too, prophesied?” inquired Sullivan.

“Was it? No; but ax yourself is it. Isn’t the Almighty in his wrath,
this moment proclaimin’ it through the heavens and the airth? Look
about you, and say what is it you see that does not foretel
famine--famine--famine! Doesn’t the dark wet day, an’ the rain, rain,
rain, foretel it? Doesn’t the rotten’ crops, the unhealthy air, an’ the
green damp foretel it? Doesn’t the sky without a sun, the heavy clouds,
an’ the angry fire of the West, foretel it? Isn’t the airth a page of
prophecy, an’ the sky a page of prophecy, where every man may read of
famine, pestilence, an’ death? The airth is softened for the grave,
an’ in the black clouds of heaven you may see the death-hearses movin’
slowly along--funeral afther funeral--funeral afther funeral--an’
nothing to folly them but lamentation an’ wo, by the widow an’
orphan--the fatherless, the motherless, an’ the childless--wo an’
lamentation--lamentation an’ wo.”

Donnel Dhu, like every prophecy man of his kind--a character in Ireland,
by the way, that has nearly, if not altogether, disappeared--was
provided with a set of prophetic declamations suited to particular
occasions and circumstances, and these he recited in a voice of high and
monotonous recitative, that caused them to fall with a very impressive
effect upon the minds and feeling of his audience. In addition to this,
the very nature of his subject rendered a figurative style and suitable
language necessary, a circumstance which, aided by a natural flow of
words, and a felicitious illustration of imagery--for which, indeed, all
prophecy-men were remarkable--had something peculiarly fascinating and
persuasive to the class of persons he was in the habit of addressing.
The gifts of these men, besides, were exercised with such singular
delight, that the constant repetition of their oracular exhibitions by
degrees created an involuntary impression on themselves, that ultimately
rose to a kind of wild and turbid enthusiasm, partaking at once of
imposture and fanaticism. Many of them were, therefore, nearly as
much the dupes of the delusions that proceeded from their own heated
imaginations as the ignorant people who looked upon them as oracles;
for we know that nothing at all events so much generates imposture as
credulity.

“Indeed, Donnel,” replied Sullivan, “what you say is unfortunately too
thrue. Everything we can look upon appears to have the mark of God’s
displeasure on it; but if we have death and sickness now, what’ll become
of us this time twelve months, when we’ll feel this failure most?”

“I have said it,” replied the prophet; “an’ if my tongue doesn’t tell
truth, the tongue that never tells a lie will.”

“And what tongue is that?” asked his companion.

“The tongue of the death-bell will tell it day afther day to every
parish in the land. However, we know that death’s before us, an’ the
grave, afther all, is our only consolation.”

“God help us,” exclaimed Sullivan, “if we hadn’t betther and brighter
consolation than the grave. Only for the hopes in our Divine Redeemer
an’ his mercy, it’s little consolation the grave could give us. But
indeed, Donnel, as you say, everything about us is enough to sink
the heart within one--an’ no hope at all of a change for the betther.
However, God is good, and, if it’s His will that we should suffer, it’s
our duty to submit to it.”

The prophet looked around him with a gloomy aspect, and, truth to say,
the appearance of everything on which the eye could rest, was such as
gave unquestionable indications of wide-spread calamity to the country.

The evening, which was now far advanced, had impressed on it a character
of such dark and hopeless desolation as weighed down the heart with a
feeling of cold and chilling gloom that was communicated by the dreary
aspect of every thing around. The sky was obscured by a heavy canopy of
low, dull clouds that had about them none of the grandeur of storm, but
lay overhead charged with those wintry deluges which we feel to be so
unnatural and alarming in autumn, whose bounty and beauty they equally
disfigure and destroy. The whole summer had been sunless and wet--one,
in fact, of ceaseless rain which fell, day after day, week after week,
and month after month, until the sorrowful consciousness had arrived
that any change for the better must now come too late, and that nothing
was certain but the terrible union of famine, disease, and death
which was to follow. The season, owing to the causes specified, was
necessarily late, and such of the crops as were, ripe had a sickly and
unthriving look, that told of comparative failure, while most of the
fields which, in our autumns, would have been ripe and yellow, were now
covered with a thin, backward crop, so unnaturally green that all hope
of maturity was out of the question. Low meadows were in a state of
inundation, and on alluvial soils the ravages of the floods Were
visible in layers of mud and gravel that were deposited over many of the
prostrate corn fields. The peat turf lay in oozy and neglected heaps,
for there had not been sun enough to dry it sufficiently for use, so
that the poor had want of fuel, and cold to feel, as well as want of
food itself. Indeed, the appearance of the country, in consequence of
this wetness in the firing, was singularly dreary and depressing. Owing
to the difficulty with which it burned, or rather wasted away, without
light or heat, the eye, in addition to the sombre hue which the absence
of the sun cast over all things, was forced to dwell upon the long black
masses of smoke which trailed slowly over the whole country, or hung,
during the thick sweltering calms, in broad columns that gave to
the face of nature an aspect strikingly dark and disastrous, when
associated, as it was, with the destitution and suffering of the great
body of the people. The general appearance of the crops was indeed
deplorable. In some parts the grain was beaten down by the rain; in
airier situations it lay cut but unsaved, and scattered over the fields,
awaiting an occasional glance of feeble sunshine; and in other and
richer soils, whole fields, deplorably lodged, were green with the
destructive exuberance of a second growth. The season, though wet, was
warm; and it is unnecessary to say that the luxuriance of all weeds
and unprofitable production was rank and strong, while an unhealthy
fermentation pervaded every thing that was destined for food. A brooding
stillness, too, lay over all nature; cheerfulness had disappeared, even
the groves and hedges were silent, for the very birds had ceased
to sing, and the earth seemed as if it mourned for the approaching
calamity, as well as for that which had been already felt. The whole
country, in fact, was weltering and surging with the wet formed by the
incessant overflow of rivers, while the falling cataracts, joined to a
low monotonous hiss, or what the Scotch term _sugh_, poured their faint
but dismal murmurs on the gloomy silence which otherwise prevailed
around.

Such was the aspect of the evening in question: but as the men advanced,
a new element of desolation soon became visible. The sun, ere he sank
among the dark western clouds, shot out over this dim and miserable
prospect a light so angry, yet so ghastly, that it gave to the whole
earth a wild, alarming, and spectral hue, like that seen in some feverish
dream. In this appearance there was great terror and sublimity, for as
it fell on the black shifting clouds, the effect was made still more
awful by the accidental resemblance which they bore to coffins, hearses,
and funeral processions, as observed by the prophecy-man, all of which
seemed to have been lit up against the deepening shades of evening
by some gigantic death-light that superadded its fearful omens to the
gloomy scenes on which it fell.

The sun, as he then appeared, might not inaptly be compared to some
great prophet, who, clothed with the majesty and terror of I an
angry God, was commissioned to launch! his denunciations against the
iniquities of nations, and to reveal to them, as they lay under the
shadow of his wrath, the terrible calamities with which he was about to
visit their transgressions.

The two men now walked on in silence for some time, Donnel Dhu having
not deemed it necessary to make any reply to the pious and becoming
sentiments uttered by Sullivan.

At length the latter spoke.

“Barrin’ what we all know, Donnel, an’ that’s the saison an’ the
sufferin’ that’s in it, is there no news stirrin’ at all? Is it thrue
that ould Dick o’ the Grange is drawin’ near to his last account?”

“Not so bad as that; but he’s still complainin’. It’s one day up and
another day down wid’ him--an’ of coorse his laise of life can’t be long
now.”

“Well, well,” responded Sullivan, “it’s not for us to pass judgment on
our fellow-creatures; but by all accounts he’ll have a hard reckonin’.”

“That’s his own affair, you know,” said Donnel Dhu; “but his son, master
Richard, or ‘Young Dick,’ as they call him, will be an improvement upon
the ould stock.”

“As to that, some says ay, an’ some says no; but I believe myself, that
he has, like his father, both good and bad in him; for the ould man, if
the maggot bit him, or that if he took the notion, would do one a good
turn; an’ if he took a likin’ to you, he’d go any lin’th to sarve you;
but, then, you were never sure of him--nor he didn’t himself know this
minute what he’d do the next.”

“That’s thrue enough,” replied Donnel Dhu; “but lavin’ him to shift for
himself, I’m of opinion that you an’ I are likely to get wet jackets
before we’re much oulder. Ha! Did you see that lightnin’? God presarve
us! it was terrible--an’--ay, there it is--the thundher! God be about
us, thundher at this hour is very fearful. I would give a thrifle to be
in my own little cabin, an’ indeed I’m afeard that I won’t be worth the
washin’ when I get there, if I can go back sich a night as it’s goin’ to
be.”

“The last few years, Donnel, has brought a grievous change,upon me and
mine,” replied Sullivan. “The time was, an’ it’s not long since, when I
could give you a comfortable welcome as well as a willin’ one; however,
thank God, it isn’t come to sich a hard pass wid me yet that I haven’t
a roof an’ a bit to ait to offer you; an’ so to sich as it is you’re
heartily welcome. Home! oh, you mustn’t talk of home this night. Blood,
you know, is thicker than wather, an’ if it was only on your wife
Nolly’s account, you should be welcome. Second an’ third cousins by the
mother’s side we are, an’ that’s purty strong. Oh, no, don’t talk of
goin’ home this night.”

“Well,” replied the other, “I’m thankful to you, Jerry, an’ indeed as
the night’s comin’ on so hard and stormy, I’ll accept your kind offer;
a mouthful of any thing will do me, an’ a dry sate at your hearth till
mornin’.”

“Unfortunately, as I said,” replied Sullivan, “it’s but poor an’ humble
treatment I can give you; but if it was betther you should be jist as
welcome to it, an’ what more can I say?”

“What more can you say, indeed! I know your good heart, Jerry, as who
doesn’t? Dear me, how it’s poorin’ over there towards the south--ha,
there it is again, that thundher! Well, thank goodness, we haven’t far
to go, at any rate, an’ the shower hasn’t come round this far yet. In
the mean time let us step out an’ thry to escape it if we can.”

“Let us cross the fields, then,” said Sullivan, “an’ get up home by the
Slang, an’ then behind our garden: to be sure, the ground is in a sad
plash, but then it will save a long twist round the road, an’ as you
say, we may escape the rain yet.”

Both accordingly struck off the highway, and took a short path across
the fields, while at every step the water spurted up out of the spongy
soil, so that they were soon wet nearly to their knees, so thoroughly
saturated was the ground with the rain which had incessantly fallen.
After toiling thro’ plashy fields, they at length went up, as Sullivan
had said, by an old unfrequented footpath, that ran behind his garden,
the back of which consisted of a thick elder hedge, through which
scarcely the heaviest rain could penetrate. At one end of this garden,
through a small angle, forming a _cul de sac_, or point, where the
hedge was joined by one of white thorn, ran the little obsolete pathway
alluded to, and as another angle brought them at once upon the spot we
are describing, it would so happen that if any one had been found there
when they appeared, it would be impossible to leave it if they wished
to do so, without directly meeting them, there being no other mode of
egress from it except by the footpath in question.

In that sheltered nook, then, our travellers found a young man about two
or three and twenty, holding the unresisting hand of a very beautiful
and bashful-looking girl, not more than nineteen, between his. From
their position, and the earnestness with which the young peasant
addressed her, there could be but little doubt as to the subject matter
of their conversation. If a bolt from the thunder which had been rolling
a little back among the mountains, and which was still faintly heard in
the distance, had fallen at the feet of the young persons in question,
it could not have filled them with more alarm than the appearance of
Sullivan and the prophet. The girl, who became pale and red by turns,
hung her head, then covered her face with her hands; and after a short
and ineffectual struggle, burst into tears, exclaiming--

“Oh, my God, it is my father!”

The youth, for he seemed scarcely to have reached maturity, after a
hesitating glance at Sullivan, seemed at once to have determined the
course of conduct he should pursue. His eye assumed a bold and resolute
look--he held himself more erect--and, turning towards the girl, without
removing his gaze from her father, he said in a loud and manly tone--

“Dear Mave, it is foolish to be frightened. What have you done that
ought to make you aither ashamed or afeared? If there’s blame anywhere,
it’s mine, not yours, and I’ll bear it.”

Sullivan, on discovering this stolen interview--for such it was--felt
precisely as a man would feel, who found himself unexpectedly within the
dart of a rattlesnake, with but one chance of safety in his favor and
a thousand against him. His whole frame literally shook with the
deadly depth of his resentment; and in a voice which fully betrayed its
vehemence, he replied--

“Blame! ay, shame an’ blame--sin an’ sorrow there is an’ ought to rest
upon her for this unnatural and cursed meetin’! Blame! surely, an’ as
I stand here to witness her shame, I tell her that there would not be
a just God in Heaven, if she’s not yet punished for holdin’ this
guilty discoorse with the son of the man that has her uncle’s blood--my
brother’s blood--on his hand of murdher--”


[Illustration: PAGE 785-- “It’s false,” replied the young fellow]


“It’s false,” replied the young fellow, with kindling eye; “it’s
false, from your teeth to your marrow. I know my father’s heart an’
his thought--an’ I say that whoever charges him with the murder of your
brother, is a liar--a false and damnable li--”

He checked himself ere he closed the sentence.

“Jerry Sullivan,” said he, in an altered voice, “I ax your pardon for
the words---it’s but natural you should feel as you do; but if it was
any other man than yourself that brought the charge of blood against my
father, I would thramp upon him where he stands.”

“An’ maybe murdher him, as my poor brother was murdhered. Dalton, I see
the love of blood in your eye,” replied Sullivan, bitterly.

“Why,” replied the other, “you have no proof that the man was murdered
at all. His body was never found; and no one can say what became of him.
For all that any one knows to the contrary, he may be alive still.”

“Begone, sirra,” said Sullivan, in a burst of impetuous resentment which
he could not restrain, “if I ever know you to open your lips to that
daughter of mine--if the mane crature can be my daughter--I’ll make it
be the blackest deed but one that ever a Dalton did; and as for you--go
in at wonst--I’ll make you hear me by and by.”

Dalton looked at him once more with a kindling but a smiling eye.

“Speak what you like,” said he--“I’ll curb myself. Only, if you wish
your daughter to go in, you had better leave the way and let her pass.”

Mave--for such was her name--with trembling limbs, burning blushes and
palpitating heart, then passed from the shady angle where they stood;
but ere she did, one quick and lightning glance was bestowed upon her
lover, which, brief though it was, he felt as a sufficient consolation
for the enmity of her father.

The prophet had not yet spoken; nor indeed had time been given him to do
so, had he been inclined. He looked on, however, with’ surprise, which
soon assumed the appearance, as well as the reality, of some malignant
satisfaction which he could not conceal.

He eyed Dalton with a grin of peculiar bitterness.

“Well,” said he, “it’s the general opinion that if any one knows or
can tell what the future may bring about, I can; an’, if my knowledge
doesn’t desave me, Dalton, I think, while you’re before me, that I’m
lookin’ at a man that was never born to be drowned at any rate. I
prophecy that, die when you may, you’ll live to see your own funeral.”

“If you’re wise,” replied the young man, “you’ll not provoke me now
Jerry Sullivan may say what he wishes--he’s safe, an he knows why; but I
warn you, Donnel Dhu, to take no liberty with me; I’ll not bear it.

“Troth, I don’t blame Jerry Sullivan,” rejoined the prophet. “Of coorse
no man would wish to have a son-in-law hanged. It’s in the prophecy that
you’ll go to the surgeons yet.”

“Did you foresee in your prophecies this mornin’ that you’d get yourself
well drubbed before night?” asked Dalton, bristling up.

“No,” said the other; “my prophecy seen no one able to do it.”

“You and your prophecy are liars, then,” retorted the other: “an’ in
the doom you’re kind enough to give me, don’t be too sure but you meant
yourself. There’s more of murdher an’ the gallows in your face than
there is in mine. That’s all I’ll say, Donnel. Anything else you’ll get
from me will be a blow; so take care of yourself.”

“Let him alone, Donnel,” said Sullivan; “it’s not safe to meddle with
one of his name. You don’t know what harm he may do you.”

“I’m not afeard of him,” said the prophet, with a sneer; “he’ll find
himself a little mistaken, if he tries his hand. It won’t be for me
you’ll hang, my lad.”

The words were scarcely uttered when a terrific blow on the eye, struck
with the rapidity of lightning, shot him to the earth, where he lay for
about half a minute, apparently insensible. He then got up, and after
shaking his head, as if to rid himself of a sense of confusion and
stupor, looked at Dalton for some time.

“Well,” said he, “it’s all over now--but the truth is, the fault was my
own. I provoked him too much, an’ without any occasion. I’m sorry
you struck me, Condy, for I was only jokin’ all the time. I never had
ill-will against you; an’ in spite of what has happened, I haven’t now.”

A feeling of generous regret, almost amounting to remorse, instantly
touched Dalton’s heart; he seized the hand of Donnel, and expressed his
sorrow for the blow he had given him.

“My God,” he exclaimed, “why did I strike you? But sure no one could for
a minute suppose that you weren’t in earnest.”

“Well, well,” said the other, “let it be a warnin’ to both of us; to me,
in the first place, never to carry a joke too far; and to you, never to
allow your passion to get the betther of you, afaird that you might give
a blow in anger that you’d have cause to repent of all the days of your
life. My eye and cheek is in a frightful state; but no matther, Condy, I
forgive you, especially in the hope that you’ll mark my advice.”

Dalton once more asked his pardon, and expressed his unqualified sorrow
at what had occurred; after which he again shook hands with Dalton and
departed.

Sullivan felt surprised at this rencontre, especially at the nature of
its singular termination; he seemed, however, to fall into a meditative
and gloomy mood, and observed when Dalton had gone--

“If I ever had any doubt, Donnel, that my poor brother owed his death to
a Dalton, I haven’t it now.”

“I don’t blame you much for sayin’ so,” replied Donnel. “I’m sorry
myself for what has happened, and especially as you were present. I’m
afeard, indeed’, that a man’s life would be but little in that boy’s
hands under a fit of passion. I provoked him too much, though.”

“I think so,” said Sullivan. “Indeed, to tell you the truth, I had as
little notion that you wore jokin’ as he had.”

“That’s my drame out last night, at all events,” said Donnel.

“How is that?” asked Sullivan, as they approached the door.

“Why,” said he, “I dreamed that I was lookin’ for a hammer at your
house, an’ I thought that you hadn’t one to give me; but your daughter
Mave came to me, and said, ‘here’s a hammer for you, Donnel, an’ take
care of it, for it belongs to Condy Dalton.’ I thought I took it, an’
the first thing I found myself doin’ was drivin’ a nail in what appeared
to be my own coffin. The same dhrame would alarm me but that I know that
dhrames goes by contrairies, as I’ve reason to think this will.”

“No man understands these things better than yourself, Donnel,” said
Sullivan; “but, for my part, I think there’s a dangerous kick in the boy
that jist left us; and I’m much mistaken or the world will hear of it
an’ know it yet.”

“Well, well,” said Donnel Dhu, in a very Christian-like spirit, “I fear
you’re right, Jerry; but still let us hope for the best.”

And as he spoke, they entered the house.



CHAPTER III. -- A Family on the Decline--Omens.


Jerry Sullivan’s house and place had about them all the marks and tokens
of gradual decline. The thatch on the roof had begun to get black, and
in some places was sinking into rotten ridges; the yard was untidy and
dirty; the walls and hedges were broken and dismantled; and the gates
were lying about, or swinging upon single hinges. The whole air of the
premises was uncomfortable to the spectator, who could not avoid feeling
that there existed in the owner either wilful neglect or unsuccessful
struggle. The chimneys, from which the thatch had sank down, stood
up with the incrustations of lime that had been trowelled round their
bases, projecting uselessly out from them; some of the quoins had fallen
from the gable; the plaster came off the walls in several places, and
the whitewash was sadly discolored.

Inside, the aspect of everything was fully as bad, if not worse.
Tables and chairs, and the general furniture of the house, had all that
character of actual cleanliness and apparent want of care which poverty
superinduces upon the most strenuous efforts of industry. The floor
was beginning to break up into holes; tables and chairs were crazy; the
dresser, though clean, had a cold, hungry, unfurnished look; and, what
was unquestionably the worst symptom of all, the inside of the chimney
brace, where formerly the sides and flitches of deep, fat bacon, grey
with salt, were arrayed in goodly rows, now presented nothing but the
bare and dust-covered hooks, from which they had depended in happier
times. About a dozen of herrings hung at one side of a worn salt-box,
and at the other a string of onions that was nearly Stripped, both
constituting the principal kitchen, varied, perhaps, with a little
buttermilk,--which Sullivan’s family were then able to afford themselves
with their potatoes.

We cannot close our description here, however; for sorry we are to
say, that the severe traces of poverty were as visible upon the inmates
themselves as upon the house and its furniture. Sullivan’s family
consisted of his eldest daughter, aged nineteen, two growing boys, the
eldest about sixteen, and several younger children besides. These last
were actually ragged--all of them were scantily and poorly clothed; and
if any additional proof were wanting that poverty, in one of its most
trying shapes, had come among them, it was to be found in their pale,
emaciated features, and in that languid look of care and depression,
which any diminution in the natural quantity of food for any length of
time uniformly impresses upon the countenance. In fact, the whole group
had a sickly and wo-worn appearance, as was evident from the unnatural
dejection of the young, who, instead of exhibiting the cheerfulness
and animation of youth, now moped about without gayety, sat brooding in
corners, or struggled for a warm place nearest to the dull and cheerless
fire.

“The day was, Donnel,” said Sullivan, whilst he pointed, with a sigh,
to the unfurnished chimney, “when we could give you--as I said awhile
agone--a betther welcome--in one sense--I mane betther tratement--than
we can give you now; but you know the times that is in it, an’ you know
the down-come we have got, an’ that the whole country has got--so you
must only take the will for the deed now--to such as we have you’re
heartily welcome. Get us some dinner, Bridget,” he added, turning to his
wife; “but, first and foremost, bring that girl into the room here till
she hears what I have to say to her; and, Donnel, as you wor a witness
to the disgraceful sight we seen a while agone, come in an’ hear, too,
what I’m goin’ to say to her. I’ll have no black thraisin in my own
family against my own blood, an’ against the blood of my loving brother,
that was so traicherously shed by that boy’s father.”

The persons he addressed immediately passed into the cold, damp room as
he spoke--Mave, the cause of all this anxiety, evidently in such a state
of excitement as was pitiable. Her mother, who, as well as every
other member of the family, had been ignorant of this extraordinary
attachment, seemed perfectly bewildered by the language of her husband,
at whom, as at her daughter, she looked with a face on which might be
read equal amazement and alarm.

Mave Sullivan was a young creature, shaped with extraordinary symmetry,
and possessed of great natural grace. Her stature was tall, and all
her motions breathed; unstudied ease and harmony. In color, her long,
abundant hair was beautifully fair--precisely of that delightful shade
which generally accompanies a pale but exquisitely clear and almost
transparent complexion. Her face was oblong, and her features so replete
with an expression of innocence and youth, as left on the beholder a
conviction that she breathed of utter guilelessness and angelic purity
itself. This was principally felt in the bewitching charm of her smile,
which was irresistible, and might turn the heart of a demon into love.
All her motions were light and elastic, and her whole figure, though not
completely developed, was sufficiently rounded by the fulness of health
and youth to give promise of a rich and luxurious maturity. On this
occasion she became deadly pale, but as she was one of those whose
beauty only assumes a new phase of attraction at every change, her
paleness now made her appear, if possible, an object of greater
interest.

“In God’s name, Jerry,” asked her mother, looking from father to
daughter in a state of much distress, “what is wrong, or what has
happened to put you in such a condition? I see by the anger in your eye
an’ the whiteness of your cheeks, barrin’ the little red spot in the
middle, that something out o’ the way all out has happened to vex you.”

“You may well say so, Bridget,” he replied; “but when I tell you that
I came upon that undutiful daughter of ours coortin’ wid the son of the
man that murdhered her uncle--my only brother--you won’t be surprised
at the state you see me in--coortin’ wid a fellow that Dan M’Gowan here
knows will be hanged yet, for he’s jist afther tellin’ him so.”

“You’re ravin’, Jerry,” exclaimed his wife, who appeared to feel the
matter as incredible; “you don’t mane to tell me that she’d spake to, or
know, or make any freedoms whatsomever wid young Condy Dalton, the
son of her uncle’s murdherer? Hut, no, Jerry, don’t say that, at all
events--any disgrace but that--death, the grave--or--or anything--but
sich an unnatural curse as that would be.”

“I found them together behind the garden not many minutes ago,” replied
Sullivan. “Donnel here seen them as well as I did--deny it she can’t;
an’ now let her say what brought her there to meet him, or rather what
brought him all the way to meet her? Answer me that, you disgrace to the
name--answer me at wanst!”

The poor girl trembled and became so weak as to be scarcely able to
stand: in fact, she durst not raise her eye to meet that of either
parent, but stood condemned and incapable of utterance.

The night had now nearly set in, and one of her little sisters entered
with a rush candle in her hand, the light of which, as it fell dimly
and feebly on the group, gave to the proceedings a wild and impressive
appearance. The prophecy-man, with his dark, stern look, peculiar nose,
and black raven hair that fell thickly over his shoulders, contrasted
strongly with the fair, artless countenance and beautiful figure of
the girl who stood beside him, whilst over opposite them were Sullivan
himself and his wife, their faces pale with sorrow, anxiety, and
indignation.

“Give me the candle,” proceeded her father; “hand it to me, child, and
leave the room; then,” he proceeded, holding it up to a great-coat of
frieze which hung against the wall--“there’s his coat--there’s my lovin’
brother’s coat; look upon it now, an’ ax yourself what do you desarve
for meeting against our will an’ consint the son of him that has the
murdher of the man that owned it on his hands an’ on his heart? What do
you desarve, I say?”

The girl spoke not, but the black prophet, struck by the words and the
unexpected appearance of the murdered man’s coat, started; in a moment,
however, he composed himself, and calmly turned his eyes upon Sullivan,
who proceeded to address his daughter.

“You have nothing to say, then? You’re guilty, an’ of coorse you have
no excuse to make; however, I’ll soon put an end to all this. Bring me a
prayerbook. If your book oath can bind you down against ever----”

He could proceed no further. On uttering the last words, his daughter
tottered, and would have fallen to the ground, had not Donnel Dhu caught
her in his arms. She had, in fact, become almost insensible from excess
of shame and over excitement, and, as Donnel carried her towards a bed
that was in the corner of the room, her head lay over against his face.

It is unnecessary to say that Sullivan’s indignation was immediately
lost in alarm. On bringing the candle near her, the first thing they
observed were streaks of blood upon Donnel Dhu’s face, that gave to it,
in connection with the mark of the blow he had received, a frightful and
hideous expression.

“What is this?” exclaimed her mother, seizing the candle and holding it
to the beautiful features of her trembling daughter, which were now also
dabbled with blood. “In God’s name, what ails my child? O Mave, Mave,
my darlin’, what’s come over you? Blessed mother of marcy, what blood is
this? _Achora, machree_, Mave, spake to! me--to the mother that ‘ud
go distracted, an’ that will, too, if anything’s wrong wid you. It was
cruel in you, Jerry, to spake to; her so harsh as you did, an’ to take
her to task before a sthranger in such a cuttin’ manner. Saiver of
Airth, Mave, darlin’, won’t you spake to me, to your own mother?”’

“Maybe I did spake to her too severely,” said the father, now relenting,
“an’ if I did, may God forgive me; for sure you know, Bridget, I
wouldn’t injure a hair of my darlin’s head. But this blood! this blood!
oh, where did it come from?”

Her weakness, however, proved of but short duration, and their
apprehension was soon calmed. Mave looked around her rather wildly, and
no sooner had her eyes rested on Donnel Dhu than she shrieked aloud, and
turning her face away from him, with something akin to fear and horror,
she flung herself into her mother’s arms, exclaiming, as she hid her
face in her bosom: “Oh save me from that man; don’t let! him near me;
don’t let him touch me. I can’t tell why, but I’m deadly afraid of him.
What blood is that upon his face? Father, stand between us!”

“Foolish girl!” exclaimed her father, “you don’t know what you’re
sayin’. Of coorse, Donnel, you’ll not heed her words for, indeed, she
hasn’t come to herself yet. But, in God’s name, where did this blood
come from that’s upon you and her?”

“You can’t suppose, Jerry,” said Donnel, “that the poor girl’s words
would make me take any notice of them. She has been too much frightened,
and won’t know, maybe in a few minutes, that she spoke them at all.”

“That’s thrue,” said her mother; “but with regard to the blood----”

She was about to proceed, when Mave rose up, and requested to be taken
out of the room.

“Bring me to the kitchen,” said she, “I’m afraid; and see this blood,
mother.”

Precisely as she spoke, a few drops of blood fell from her nose, which,
of course, accounted for its appearance on Donnel’s face, and probably
for her terror also at his repulsive aspect.

“What makes you afeard of poor Donnel, asthore?” asked her mother--“a
man that wouldn’t injure a hair of your head, nor of one belongin’ to
you, an’ never did.”

“Why, when my father,” she returned, “spoke about the coat there, an’
just as Donnel started, I looked at it, an’ seen it movin’, I don’t know
why, but I got afeard of him.”

Sullivan held up the candle mechanically, as she spoke, towards the
coat, upon which they all naturally gazed; but, whether from its dim
flickering light, or the force of imagination, cannot be determined,
one thing was certain, the coat appeared actually to move again, as if
disturbed by some invisible hand. Again, also, the prophet involuntary
started, but only for a single moment.

“Tut,” said he, “it’s merely the unsteady light of the candle; show it
here.”

He seized the rushlight from Sullivan, and approaching the coat, held
it so close to it, that had there been the slightest possible motion, it
could not have escaped their observation.

“Now,” he added, “you see whether it moves or not; but, indeed, the
poor girl is so frightened by the great scowldin’ she got, that I don’t
wondher at the way she’s in.”

Mrs. Sullivan kept still gazing at the coat, in a state of terror almost
equal to that of her daughter.

“Well,” said she, “I’ve often heard it said that one is sometimes to
disbelieve their own eyes; an’ only that I known the thing couldn’t
happen, I would swear on the althar that I seen it movin’.”

“I thought so myself, too,” observed Sullivan, who also seemed to have
been a good deal perplexed and awed by the impression; “but of coorse I
agree wid Donnel, that it was the unsteady light of the rush that made
us think so; howaniver, it doesn’t matther now; move or no move, it
won’t bring him that owned it back to us, so God rest him!--and now,
Bridget, thry an’ get us some-thin’ to ait.”

“Before the girl leaves the room,” said the prophecy man, “let me spake
what I think an’ what I know. I’ve lost many a weary day an’ night in
studyin’ the further, an’ in lookin’ into what’s to come. I must spake,
then, what I think an’ what I know, regardin’ her. I must; for when the
feelin’ is on me, I can’t keep the prophecy back.”

“Oh! let me go, mother,” exclaimed the alarmed girl; “let me go; I can’t
bear to look at him.”

“One minute, acushla, till you hear what he has to say to you,” and she
held her back, with a kind of authoritative violence, as Mave attempted
to leave the room.

“Don’t be alarmed my purty creature,” spoke the prophet; “don’t be
alarmed at what I’m goin’ to say to you, an’ about you, for you needn’t.
I see great good fortune before you. I see a grand an’ handsome husband
at your side, and a fine house to live in. I see stairs, an’ carpets,
an’ horses, an’ hounds, an’ yourself, with jewels in your white little
ears, an’ silks, an’ satins on your purty figure. That’s a wakin’ dhrame
I had, an’ you may all mark my words, if it doesn’t come out thrue; it’s
on the leaf, an’ the leaf was open to me. Grandeur an’ wealth is before
her, for her beauty an’ her! goodness will bring it all about, an’ so I
read it.”

“An’ what about the husband himself?” asked the mother, whose affections
caused! her to feel a strong interest in anything that might concern
the future interest of her daughter; “can you tell us nothing about his
appearance, that we might give a guess at him?”

“No,” replied M’Gowan, for such was the prophet’s name, “not to you; to
none but herself can I give the marks an’ tokens that will enable her
to know the man that is to be her husband when she sees him; and to
herself, in the mornin’, I will, before I go that is if she’ll allow
me--for what is written in the dark book ought to be read and expounded.
Her beauty an’ her goodness will do it all!”

The man’s words were uttered m a voice so replete with those soft and
insinuating tones that so powerfully operate upon the female heart; they
breathed, too such an earnest spirit of good will, joined to an evident
admiration of the beauty and goodness he alluded to, that the innocent
girl, not-withstanding her previous aversion, felt something like
gratification at what he said, not on account ol the prospects held out
to her, but because of the singular charm and affectionate spirit
which breathed in his voice; or, might it not have been that delicate
influence of successful flattery which so gently pervades the heart of
woman, and soothes that vanity which unconsciously lurks in the very
purest and most innocent of the sex? So far from being flattered by
his predictions, she experienced a strong sensation of disappointment,
because she knew where her affections at that moment rested, and felt
persuaded that if she were destined to enjoy the grandeur shadowed out
for her, it never could be with him whom she then loved. Notwithstanding
all this, she felt her repugnance against the prophet strongly
counterbalanced by the strange influence he began to exercise over her;
and with this impression she and they passed to the kitchen, where in a
few minutes she was engaged in preparing food for him, with a degree of
good feeling that surprised herself.

There is scarcely anything so painful to hearts naturally generous, like
those of the Sullivans, as the contest between the shame and exposure of
the conscious poverty on the one hand, and the anxiety to indulge in a
hospitable spirit on the other. Nobody unacquainted with Ireland could
properly understand the distress of mind which this conflict almost
uniformly produces. On the present occasion it was deeply felt by
this respectable but declining family, and Mave, the ingenuous and
kind-hearted girl, felt much of her unaccountable horror of this man
removed by its painful exercise. Still her aversion was not wholly
overcome, although much diminished; for, ever as she looked at his
swollen and disfigured face, and thought of the mysterious motions of
the murdered man’s coat, she could not avoid turning away her eyes, and
wishing that she had not seen him that evening. The scanty meal was at
length over; a meal on which many a young eye dwelt with those yearning
looks that take their character from the hungry and wolfish spirit which
marks the existence of a “hard year,” as it is called in our unfortunate
country, and which, to a benevolent heart, forms such a sorrowful
subject for contemplation. Poor Bridget Sullivan did all in her power to
prevent this evident longing from being observed by M’Gowan, by looking
significantly, shaking’ her head, and knitting her brows, at the
children; and when these failed she had recourse to threatening
attitudes, and all kinds of violent gestures: and on these proving also
unsuccessful, she was absolutely forced to speak aloud--

“Come, childhre, start out now, an’ play yourselves; be off, I say, an’
don’t stand ready to jump down the daicent man’s throat wid every bit he
aits.”

She then drove them abroad somewhere, but as the rain fell heavily the
poor creatures were again forced to return, and resume their pitiable
watch until the two men had finished their scanty repast.

Seated around the dull and uncomfortable fire, the whole family now
forgot the hunger and care for a time, in the wild legends with which
M’Gowan entertained them, until the hour of rest.

“We haven’t the best bed in the world,” observed Sullivan, “nor the best
bed-clothes aither, but, as I said before, I wish, for all our sakes,
they were betther. You must take your chance with these two slips o’
boys to-night as well as you can. If you wish to tumble in now you may;
or, may be you’d join us in our prayers. We sthrive, God! help us, to
say a Rosary every night; for, afther all, there’s nothin’ like puttin’
oneself! undher the holy protection of the Almighty, blessed be His
name! Indeed, this sickness that’s goin’ is so rife and dangerous that
it’s good to sthrive to be prepared, as it is indeed, whatever comes,
whether hunger or plenty, sickness or health; an’ may God keep us
prepared always!”

M’Gowan seemed for a moment at a loss, but almost immediately said in
reply--

“You are right, Jerry, but as for me, I say whatever prayers I do say,
always by myself; for I can then get my mind fixed upon them betther.
I’ll just turn into bed, then, for troth I feel a little stiff and
tired; so you must only let me have my own way to-night. To-morrow night
I’ll pray double.” He then withdrew to his appointed place of rest,
where, after having partially undressed himself, he lay down, and for
some time could hear no other sound than the solemn voices of this
struggling and afflicted little fold, as they united in offering up
their pious and simple act of worship to that Great Being, in whose
providential care they felt such humble and confiding trust.

When their devotions were concluded, they quietly, and in a spirit
at once of resignation and melancholy, repaired to their respective
sleeping places, with the exception of old Sullivan himself, who, after
some hesitation, took down the great coat already so markedly alluded
to--and exclaiming, partly to those within hearing--

“I don’t know--but still there can’t be any harm in it; sure it’s
betther that it should be doin’ some good than hangin’ up there idle,
against the wall, such a night as this. Here, Dan, for the first time
since I put it up wid my own hands, except to shake the dust off of it,
I’m goin’ to turn this big coat to some use. There,” he added, spreading
it over them; “let it help to keep you warm to-night--for God knows, you
want it, you an’ them poor gorsoons. Your coverin’ is but light, an’
you may hear the downpowrin’ of rain that’s in it; an’ the wind, too,
is risin’ fast, every minute--gettin’ so strong, indeed, that I doubt it
‘ill be a storm before it stops; an’ Dan, if it ‘udn’t be too much, may
be you’d not object to offer up one pather an’ avy for the poor sowl of
him that owned it, an’ that was brought to his account so suddenly and
so terribly. There,” he added, fixing it upon them; “it helps to keep
you warm at any rate; an’ it’s surely betther to have it so employed
than hangin’ idle, as I said, against the wall.”

M’Gowan immediately sat up in the bed, and putting down his hands,
removed the coat.

“We don’t want it at all,” he replied; “take it away, Jerry--do, for
heaven’s sake. The night’s not at all so cowld as you think, an’ we’ll
keep one another warm enough wid-out it, never fear.”

“Troth you do want it,” said Sullivan; “for fareer gair, it’s the light
coverin’ that’s over you an’ them, poor boys. Heighho, Dan, see what
innocence is--poor things, they’re sound already--an’ may God pity them
an’ provide for them, or enable me to do it!” And as he looked down upon
the sleeping lads, the tears came so abundantly to his eyes, that he was
forced to wipe them away. “Keep the coat, Dan,” he added; “you do want
it.”

“No,” replied the other. “The truth is, I couldn’t sleep under it. I’m
very timersome, an’ a little thing frightens me.”

“Oh,” said Sullivan, “I didn’t think of that: in troth, if you’re
timersome, it’s more than the world b’lieves of you. Well, well--I’ll
hang it up again; so good night, an’ a sound sleep to you, an’ to every
man that has a free conscience in the sight of God!”

No response was given to this prayer, and his words were followed by a
deep and solemn silence, that was only broken occasionally by the heavy
pattering of the descending rain, and the fitful gusts of the blast, as
they rushed against the house, and sung wildly among the few trees by
which it and the garden were enclosed.

Every one knows that a night of wind and storm, if not rising actually
to a tempest or hurricane, is precisely that on which sleep is with
its deepest influence upon men. Sullivan’s family, on that which we are
describing, were a proof of this; at least until about the hour of
three o’clock, when they were startled by a cry for help, so loud and
frightful, that in a moment he and the boys huddled on their dress, and
hurried to the bed in which the prophet lay. In a minute or two they
got a candle lit; and truly the appearance of the man was calculated to
drive fear and alarm into their hearts. They found him sitting in the
bed, with his eyes so wild and staring that they seemed straining out
of their sockets. His hair was erect, and his mouth half open, and drawn
back; while the perspiration poured from him in torrents. His hands
were spread, and held up, with their palms outwards, as if in the act of
pushing something back that seemed to approach him. “Help,” he shouted,
“he is comin’ on me--he will have me powerless in a minute. He is
gaspin’ now, as he--Stay back, stay back--here--here, help; it’s the
murdhered man--he’s upon me. Oh!--Oh, God! he’s comin’ nearer and
nearer. Help me--save me!”

Sullivan on holding the candle to his face, perceived that he was still
asleep; and suspecting the nature of his dream, he awoke him at once. On
seeing a portion of the family about him, he started again, and looked
for a moment so completely aghast that he resembled horror personified.

“Who--what--what are you? Oh,” he exclaimed, recovering, and striving to
compose himself, “ha--Good God! what a frightful drame I had. I thought
I was murdherin’ a man; murdherin’ the”--he paused, and stared wildly
about him.

“Murdherin’ who?” asked Jerry.

“Murdherin’! eh--ha--why, who talks about murdherin’?”

“Compose yourself,” added Sullivan; “you did; but you’re frightened. You
say you thought you were murdherin’ some one; who was it?”

“Yes, yesr” he replied; “it was myself. I thought the murdhered man
was--I mean, that the man was murdherin’ myself.” And he looked with a
terrible shudder of fear towards the great coat.

“Hut,” said Sullivan, “it was only a drame; compose yourself; why
should you be alarmed?--your hand is free of it. So, as I said, compose
yourself; put your trust in God, an’ recommend yourself to his care.”

“It was a terrible drame,” said the other, once more shuddering; “but
then it was a drame. Good God; yes! However, I ax pardon for disturbin’
you all, an’ breaking in upon your sleep. Go to bed now; I’m well
enough; only jist set that bit of candle by the bed-side for awhile,
till I recover, for I did get a fearful fright.”

He then laid himself down once more, and having wiped the perspiration
from his forehead, which was now cadaverous, he bade them good night,
and again endeavored to compose himself to rest. In this he eventually
succeeded, the candle burning itself out; and in about three-quarters
of an hour the whole family were once more wrapped in sound and
uninterrupted repose.

The next morning the Sullivan family rose to witness another weary and
dismal day of incessant rain, and to partake of a breakfast of
thin stirabout, made and served up with that woful ingenuity, which
necessity, the mother of invention in periods of scarcity, as well as
in matters of a different character, had made known to the benevolent
hearted wife of Jerry Sullivan. That is to say, the victuals were made
so unsubstantially thin, that in order to impose, if possible, on the
appetite, it was deemed necessary to deceive the eye by turning the
plates and dishes round and round several times, while the viands
were hot, so as by spreading them over a larger surface, to give the
appearance of a greater quantity. It is, heaven knows, a melancholy
cheat, but one with which the periodical famines of our unhappy
country have made our people too well acquainted. Previous, however, to
breakfast, the prophet had a private interview with Mave, or the _Gra
Gal_, as she was generally termed to denote her beauty and extraordinary
power of conciliating affection; _Gra Gal_ signifying the fair love, or
to give the more comprehensive meaning which it implied, the fair-haired
beauty whom all love, or who wins all love. This interview lasted, at
least, a quarter of an hour, or it might be twenty minutes, but as the
object of it did not then transpire, we can only explain the appearances
which followed it, so far at least, as the parties themselves were
concerned. The _Gra Gal_, as we shall occasionally call her, seemed
pleased, if not absolutely gratified, by the conversation that passed
between them. Her eye was elated, and she moved about like one who
appeared to have been relieved from some reflection that had embarrassed
and depressed her; still it might have been observed that this sense of
relief had nothing in it directly affecting the person of the prophet
himself, on whom her eyes fell from time to time with a glance that
changed its whole expression of satisfaction to one of pain and dislike.
On his part there also appeared a calm sedate feeling of satisfaction,
under which, however, an eye better acquainted with human nature
might easily detect a triumph. He looked, to those who could properly
understand him, precisely as an able diplomatist would who had succeeded
in gaining a point.

When breakfast was over, and previous to his departure, he brought Jerry
Sullivan and his wife out to the barn, and in a tone and manner of much
mystery, assuming at the same time that figurative and inflated style so
peculiar to him, and also to his rival the Senachie, he thus addressed
them--

“Listen,” said he, “listen, Jerry Sullivan, and Bridget, his wife; a
child was born, and a page was written--the moon saw it, and the stars
saw it; but the sun did not, for he is dark to fate an’ sees nothing
but the face of nature. Do you understand that, Jerry Sullivan, an’ you
Bridget, his wife?”

“Well, troth we can’t say we do yet, at all events,” they replied; “but
how could we, ye know, if it’s regardin’ prophecy you’re spakin’.”

“Undherstand it!” he replied, contemptuously, “you undherstand it!--no
nor Father Philemy Corcoran himself couldn’t undherstand it, barrin’ he
fasted and prayed, and refrained from liquor, for that’s the way to get
the ray o’ knowledge; at laist it’s, the way I got it first--however,
let that pass. As I was sayin’ a child was born and a page was
written--and an angel from heaven was sent to Nebbychodanazor,
the prophet, who was commanded to write. What will I write? says
Nebbychodanazor, the prophet. Write down the fate of a faymale child, by
name Mave Sullivan, daughter to Jerry Sullivan and his wife Bridget, of
Aughnmurrin. Amin, says the prophet; fate is fate, what’s before is not
behind, neither is what’s behind before, and every thing will come to
pass that’s to happen. Amin, agin, says the prophet, an’ what am I
to write? Grandeur an’ wealth--up stairs and down stairs--silks-an’
satins--an inside car--bracelets, earrings, and Spanish boots, made of
Morroccy leather, tanned at Cordovan. Amin, agin, says Nebbychodanazor,
the prophet; this is not that, neither is that the other, but every is
everything--naither can something be nothing, nor nothing something, to
the end of time; and time itself is but cousin jarmin to eternity--as is
recorded in the great book of fate, fortune and fatality. Write again,
says the angel. What am I to write? At the name of Mabel Sullivan place
along wid all the rest, two great paragons of a woman’s life, Marriage
and Prosperity--write marriage happy, and prosperity numerous--and so
the child’s born, an’ the page written--beauty and goodness, a happy
father, and a proud mother--both made wealthy through her means.”

“And so,” he proceeded, dropping the recitative, and resuming his
natural voice--

“Be kind and indulgent to your daughter, for she’ll yet live to make all
your fortunes. Take care of her and yourself till I sees yez again.”

And without adding another word he departed.



CHAPTER IV. -- A Dance, and Double Discovery.


The dance to which Sarah M’Gowan went after the conflict with her
step-mother, was but a miserable specimen of what a dance usually is in
Ireland. On that occasion, there were but comparatively few assembled;
and these few, as may be guessed, consisted chiefly of those gay and
frolicsome spirits whom no pressure of distress, nor anything short of
sickness or death, could sober down into seriousness. The meeting, in
fact, exhibited a painful union of mirth and melancholy. The season
brought with it none of that relief to the peasantry which usually makes
autumn so welcome. On the contrary, the failure of the potato crop,
especially in its quality, as well as that in the grain generally, was
not only the cause of hunger and distress, but also of the sickness
which prevailed. The poor were forced, as they too often are, to dig
their potatoes before they were fit for food; and the consequences were
disastrous to themselves in every sense. Sickness soon began to appear;
but then it was supposed that as soon as the new grain came in, relief
would follow. In this expectation, however, they were, alas! most
wofully disappointed. The wetness of the summer and autumn had soured
and fermented the grain so lamentably, that the use of it transformed
the sickness occasioned by the unripe and bad potatoes into a terrible
and desolating epidemic. At the period we are treating of, this awful
scourge had just set in, and was beginning to carry death and misery in
all their horrors throughout the country. It was no wonder, then, that,
at the dance we are describing, there was an almost complete absence of
that cheerful and light-hearted enjoyment which is, or at least which
was, to be found at such meetings. It was, besides, owing to the
severity of the evening, but thinly attended. Such a family had two
or three members of it sick; another had buried a fine young woman; a
third, an only son; a fourth, had lost the father, and the fifth, the
mother of a large family. In fact, the conversation on this occasion was
rather a catalogue of calamity and death, than that hearty ebullition of
animal spirits which throws its laughing and festive spirits into such
assemblies. Two there were, however, who, despite of the gloom which
darkened both the dance and the day, contrived to sustain our national
reputation for gayety and mirth. One of these was our friend, Sarah,
or, as she was better known, Sally M’Gowan, and the other a young fellow
named Charley Hanlon, who acted as a kind of gardener and steward to
Dick o’ the Grange. This young fellow possessed great cheerfulness, and
such an everlasting fund of mirth and jocularity, as made him the life
and soul of every dance, wake, and merry-meeting in the parish. He was
quite a Lothario in his sphere--a lady-killer--and so general an admirer
of the sex, that he invariably made I love to every pretty girl he met,
or could lure into conversation. The usual consequences followed. Nobody
was such a favorite with the sex in general, who were ready to tear each
other’s caps about him, as they sometimes actually did; and indeed this
is not at all to be wondered at. The fellow was one of the most open,
hardy liars that ever lived. Of shame he had heard; but of what it
meant, no earthly eloquence could give him the slightest perception;
and we need scarcely add, that his assurance was boundless, as were
his powers of flattery. It is unnecessary to say, then, that a man so
admirably calculated to succeed with the sex, was properly appreciated
by them, and that his falsehood, flattery, and assurance were virtues
which enshrined the vagabond in their hearts. In short, he had got the
character of being a rake; and he was necessarily obliged to suffer
the agreeable penalty of their admiration and favor in consequence. The
fellow besides, was by no means ill-looking, nor ill-made, but just had
enough of that kind of face and figure which no one can readily either
find fault with or praise.

This gallant and Sally M’Gowan, were in fact, the life of the meeting;
and Sally, besides, had the reputation of being a great favorite with
him--a circumstance which considerably diminished her popularity with
her own sex. She herself felt towards him that kind of wild, indomitable
affection, which is as vehement as it is unregulated in such minds as
hers. For instance, she made no secret of her attachment to him, but on
the contrary, gloried in it, even to her father, who, on this subject,
could exercise no restraint whatsoever over her. It is not our intention
to entertain our readers with the history of the occurrences which took
place at the dance, as they are, in fact, not worth recording. Hanlon,
at its close, prepared to see Sally home, as is usual.

“You may come with me near home,” she replied; “but I’m not goin’ home
to-night.”

“Why, where the dickens are you goin’ then?” he asked.

“To Barny Gorrnly’s wake; there ‘ill be lots of fun there, too,” she
replied. “But come--you can come wid me as far as the turn-up to the
house; for I won’t go in, nor go home neither, till afther the berril,
tomorrow.”

“Do you know,” said he, rather gravely, “the Grey Stone that’s at the
mouth of the Black Glen?”

“I ought,” said she; “sure that’s where the carman was found murdhered.”

“The same,” added Hanlon. “Well, I must go that far to-night,” said he.

“And that’s jist where I turn off to the Gormly’s.”

“So far, then, we’ll be together,” he replied.

“But why that far only, Charley--eh?”

“That’s what you could never guess,” said he, “and very few else aither;
but go I must, an’ go I will. At all events, I’ll be company for you in
passin’ it. Are you never afeard at night, as you go near it?”

“Divil a taste,” she replied; “what ‘ud I be afeard of? my father laughs
at sich things; although,” she added, musing, “I think he’s sometimes
timorous for all that. But I know he’s often out at all hours, and he
says he doesn’t care about ghosts--I know I don’t.”

The conversation now flagged a little, and Hanlon, who had been all the
preceding part of the evening full of mirth and levity, could scarcely
force himself to reply to her observations, or sustain any part in the
dialogue.

“Why, what the sorra’s comin’ over you?” she asked, as they began to
enter into the shadow of the hill at whose foot her father’s cabin
stood, and which here, for about two hundred yards, fell across the
road. “It is gettin’ afeard you are?”

“No,” he replied; “but I was given to undherstand last night, that if
I’d come this night to the Grey Stone, I’d find out a saicret that I’d
give a great deal to know.”

“Very well,” she replied, we’ll see that; an’ now, raise your spirits.
Here we’re in the moonlight, thank goodness, such as it is. Dear me,
thin, but it’s an awful night, and the wind’s risin’; and listen to the
flood, how it roars in the glen below, like a thousand bulls!”

“It is,” he replied; “but hould your tongue now for a little, and as
you’re here stop wid me for a while, although I don’t see how I’m likely
to come by much knowledge in sich a place as this.”

They now approached the Grey Stone, and as they did the moon came out
a little from her dark shrine of clouds, but merely with that dim and
feeble light which was calculated to add ghastliness and horror to the
wildness and desolation of the place.

Sally could now observe that her companion was exceedingly pale and
agitated, his voice, as he spoke, became disturbed and infirm; and as he
laid his hand upon the Grey Stone he immediately withdrew it, and taking
off his hat he blessed himself, and muttered a short prayer with an
earnestness and solemnity for which she could not account. Having
concluded it, both stood in silence for a short time, he awaiting the
promised information--for which on this occasion he appeared likely to
wait in vain;--and she without any particular purpose beyond her natural
curiosity to watch and know the event.

The place at that moment was, indeed, a lonely one, and it was by no
means surprising that, apart from the occurrence of two murders, one on,
and the other near, the spot where they stood, the neighboring peasantry
should feel great reluctance in passing it at night. The light of the
moon was just sufficient to expose the natural wildness of the adjacent
scenery. The glen itself lay in the shadow of the hill, and seemed to
the eye so dark that nothing but the huge outlines of the projecting
crags, whose shapes appeared in the indistinctness like gigantic
spectres, could been seen; while all around, and where the pale light
of! the moon fell, nothing was visible but the muddy gleams of the
yellow flood as it rushed, with its hoarse and incessant roar, through
a flat country on whose features the storm and the hour had impressed
a character of gloom, and the most dismal desolation. Nay, the still
appearance of the Grey Stone, or rock, at which they stood, had, when
contrasted with the moving elements about them, and associated with
the murder committed at its very foot, a solemn appearance that was
of itself calculated to fill the mind with awe and terror. Hanlon felt
this, as, indeed, his whole manner indicated.

“Well,” said his companion, alluding to the short prayer he had just
concluded, “I didn’t expect to see you at your prayers like a voteen
this night at any rate. Is it fear that makes you so pious upon our
hands? Troth, I doubt there’s a white feather,--a cowardly dhrop--in
you, still an’ all.”

“If you can be one minute serious, Sally, do, I beg of you. I am very
much disturbed, I acknowledge, an’ so would you, mabe, if you knew as
much as I do.”

“You’re the color of death,” she replied putting her fingers upon his
cheek; “--an, my God! is it paspiration I feel such a night as this? I
declare to goodness it is. Give me the white pocket-handkerchy that you
say Peggy Murray gave you. Where is it?” she proceeded, taking it out of
his pocket. “Ah, ay, I have it; stoop a little; take care of your hat;
here now,” and while speaking she wiped the cold perspiration from
his forehead. “Is this the one she made you a present of, an’ put the
letthers on?”

“It is,” he replied, “the very same--but she didn’t make me a present of
it, she only hemmed it for me.”

“That’s a lie of you,” she replied, fiercely; “she bought it for you out
of her own pocket. I know that much. She tould Kate Duffy so herself,
and boasted of it: but wait.”

“Well,” replied Hanlon, anxious to keep down the gust of jealousy which
he saw rising, “and if she did, how could I prevent her?”

“What letthers did she put on it?”

“P. and an M.,” he replied, “the two first letthers of my name.”

“That’s another lie,” she exclaimed; “they’re not the two first letthers
of your name, but of her own; there’s no M in Hanlon. At any rate,
unless you give the same handkerchy to me, I’ll make it be a black
business to her.”

“Keep it, keep it, wid all my heart,” he replied, glad to get rid of a
topic which at that moment came on him so powerfully and unseasonably.
“Do what you like wid it.”

“You say so willingly, now--do you?”

“To be sure I do; an’ you may tell the whole world that I said so, if
you like.”

“P. M.--oh, ay, that’s for Peggy Murray--maybe the letthers I saw on the
ould tobaccy-box I found in the hole of the wall to-day were for Peggy
Murray. Ha! ha! ha! Oh, may be I won’t have a brag over her!”

“What letthers?” asked Hanlon eagerly; “a tobaccy-box, did you say?”

“Ay did I--a tobaccy-box. I found it in a hole in the wall in our
house to-day; it tumbled out while I was gettin’ some cobwebs to stop a
bleedin’.”

“Was it a good one?” asked Hanlon, with apparent carelessness, “could
one use it?”

“Hardly; but no, it’s all rusty, an’ has but one hinge.”

“But one hinge!” repeated the other, who was almost breathless with
anxiety; “an’ the letthers--what’s this you say they wor?”

“The very same that’s on your handkerchy,” she replied--“a P. an’ an M.”

“Great God!” he exclaimed, “is this possible! Heavens! What is that? Did
you hear anything?”

“What ails you?” she enquired. “Why do you look so frightened?”

“Did you hear nothing?” he again asked.

“Ha! ha!--hear!” she replied, laughing--“hear; I thought I heard
something like a groan; but sure ‘tis only the wind. Lord! what a night!
Listen how the wind an’ storm growls an’ tyrannizes and rages down in
the glen there, an’ about the hills. Faith there’ll be many a house
stripped this night. Why, what ails you? Afther all, you’re but a
hen-hearted divil, I doubt; sorra thing else.”

Hanlon made her no reply, but took his hat off, and once more offered up
a short prayer, apparently in deep and most extraordinary excitement.

“I see,” she observed, after he had concluded, “that you’re bent on your
devotions this night; and the devil’s own place you’ve pitched upon for
them.”

“Well, now,” replied Hanlon, “I’ll be biddin’ you good-night; but before
you go, promise to get me that tobaccy-box you found; it’s the least you
may give it to me for Peggy Murray’s handkerchy.”

“Hut,” returned Sally, “it’s not worth a thraneen; you couldn’t use it
even if you had it; sure it’s both rusty and broken.”

“No matther for that,” he replied; “I want to play a thrick on Peggy
Murray wid it, so as to have a good laugh against her--the pair of
us--you wid the handkerchy, and me wid the tobaccy-box.”

“Very well,” she replied. “Ha! ha! ha!--that’ll be great. At any rate,
I’ve a crow to pluck wid the same Peggy Murray. Oh, never you fear, you
must have it; the minnit I get my hands on it, I’ll secure it for you.”
 After a few words more of idle chat they separated; he to his master’s
house, which was a considerable distance off; and this extraordinary
creature--unconscious of the terrors and other weaknesses that render
her sex at once so dependent on and so dear to man--full only of delight
at the expected glee of the wake--to the house of death where it was
held.

In the country parts of Ireland it is not unusual for those who come to
a wake-house from a distance, to remain there until the funeral takes
place: and this also is frequently the case with the nearest door
neighbors. There is generally a solemn hospitality observed on the
occasion, of which the two classes I mention partake. Sally’s absence,
therefore, on that night, or for the greater portion of the next day,
excited neither alarm nor surprise at home. On entering their miserable
sheiling, she found her father, who had just returned, and her
step-mother in high words; the cause of which, she soon learned, had
originated in his account of the interview between young Dalton and Mave
Sullivan, together with its unpleasant consequences to himself.

“What else could you expect,” said his wife, “but what you got? You’re
ever an’ always too ready wid your divil’s grin an’ your black prophecy
to thim you don’t like. I wondher you’re not afeard that some of them
might come back to yourself, an’ fall upon your own head. If ever a man
tempted Providence you do.”

“Ah, dear me!” he exclaimed, with a derisive sneer, rendered doubly
repulsive by his own hideous and disfigured face, “how pious we are!
Providence, indeed! Much I care about Providence, you hardened jade, or
you aither, whatever puts the word into your purty mouth. Providence!
oh, how much we regard it, as if Providence took heed of what we do.
Go an’ get me somethin’ to put to this swellin’, you had betther; or
if it’s goin’ to grow religious you are, be off out o’ this; we’ll have
none of your cant or pishthrougues here.”

“What’s this?” inquired Sarah, seating; herself on a three legged stool,
“the ould work, is it? bell-cat, bell-dog. Ah, you’re a blessed pair an’
a purty pair, too; you, wid your swelled face an’ blinkin’ eye. Arrah,
what dacent man gave you that? An’ you,” she added, turning to her
step-mother, “wid your cheeks poulticed, an’ your eye blinkin’ on the
other side--what a pair o’ beauties you are, ha! ha! ha! I wouldn’t be
surprised if the divil an’ his mother fell in consate wid you both!--ha!
ha!”

“Is that your manners, afther spendin’ the night away wid yourself?”
 asked her father, angrily. “Instead of stealin’ into the house
thremblin’ wid fear, as you ought to be, you walk in wid your brazen
face, ballyraggin’ us like a Hecthor.”

“Devil a taste I’m afeard,” she replied, sturdily; “I did nothin’ to be
afeard or ashamed of, an’ why should I?”

“Did you see Mr. Hanlon on your travels, eh?”

“You needn’t say eh about it,” she replied, “to be sure I did; it was to
meet him that I went to the dance; I have no saicrets.”

“Ah, you’ll come to a good end yet, I doubt,” said her father.

“Sure she needn’t be afeard of Providence, any how,” observed his wife.

“To the divil wid you, at all events,” he replied; “if you’re not off
out o’ that to get me somethin’ for this swellin’ I’ll make it worse for
you.”

“Ay, ay, I’ll go,” looking at him with peculiar bitterness, “an wid the
help of the same Providence that you laugh at, I’ll take care that the
same roof won’t cover the three of us long. I’m tired of this life, and
come or go what may, I’ll look to my sowl an’ lead it no longer.

“Do you mane to break our hearts?” he replied, laughing; “for sure we
couldn’t do less afther her, Sally; eh, ha! ha! ha! Before you lave us,
anyhow,” he added, “go and get me some Gaiharrawan roots to bring down
this swellin’; I can’t go to the Grange wid sich a face as this on me.”

“You’ll have a blacker an’ a worse one on the day of judgment,” replied
Nelly, taking up an old spade as she spoke, and proceeding to look for
the Casharrawan (Dandelion) roots he wanted.

When she had gone, the prophet, assuming that peculiar sweetness of
manner, for which he was so remarkable when it suited his purpose,
turned to his daughter, and putting his hand into his waistcoat pocket,
pulled out a tress of fair hair, whose shade and silky softness were
exquisitely beautiful.

“Do you see that,” said he, “isn’t that pretty?”

“Show,” she replied, and taking the tress into her hand, she looked at
it.

“It is lovely; but isn’t that aquil to it?” she continued, letting loose
her own of raven black and equal gloss and softness--“what can it brag
over that? eh,” and as she compared them her black eye flashed, and her
cheek assumed a rich glow of pride and conscious beauty, that made her
look just such a being as an old Grecian statuary would have wished to
model from.

“It is aiquil to hers any day,” replied her father, softening into
affection as he contemplated her; “and indeed, Sally, I think you’re her
match every way except--except--no matter, troth are you.”

“What are you going to do wid it?” she asked; “is it to the Grange it’s
goin’?”

“It is an’ I want you to help me in what I mentioned to you. If I get
what I’m promised, we’ll lave the country, you and I, and as for
that ould vagabond, we’ll pitch her to ould Nick. She’s talking about
devotion and has nothing but Providence in her lips.”

“But isn’t there a Providence?” asked his daughter, with a sparkling
eye.

“Devil a much myself knows or cares,” he replied, with indifference,
“whether there is or not.”

“Bekase if there is,” she said, pausing--“if there is, one might as
well--”

She paused again and her fine features assumed an intellectual
meaning--a sorrowful and meditative beauty, that gave a new and more
attractive expression to her face than her father had ever witnessed on
it before.

“Don’t vex me, Sarah,” he replied, snappishly. “Maybe it’s goin’ to
imitate her you are. The clargy knows these things maybe--an’ maybe they
don’t. I only wish she’d come back with the caaharrawan. If all goes
right, I’ll pocket what’ll bring yourself an’ me to America. I’m
beginnin’ somehow to get unaisy; an’ I don’t wish to stay in this
country any longer.”

Whilst he spoke, the sparkling and beautiful expression which had lit
up his daughter’s countenance passed away, and with it probably the
moment in which it was possible to have opened a new and higher destiny
to her existence.

Nelly, in the meantime, having taken an old spade with her to dig the
roots she went in quest of, turned up Glendhu, and kept searching for
some time in vain, until at length she found two or three bunches of the
herb growing in a little lonely nook that lay behind a projecting ledge
of rock, where one would seldom think of looking for herbage at all.
Here she found a little, soft, green spot, covered over with dandelion;
and immediately she began to dig it up. The softness of the earth and
its looseness surprised her a good deal; and moved by an unaccountable
curiosity, she pushed the spade further down, until it was met by some
substance that felt rather hard. From this she cleared away the earth as
well as she could, and discovered that the spade had been opposed by a
bone; and on proceeding to examine still further, she discovered that
the spot on which the dandelions had grown, contained the bones of a
full grown human body.



CHAPTER V. -- The Black Prophet is Startled by a Black Prophecy.


Having satisfied herself that the skeleton was a human one, she
cautiously put back the earth, and covered it up with the green sward,
as graves usually are covered, and in such a way that there should
exist, from the undisturbed appearance of the place, as little risk as
possible of discovery. This being-settled, she returned with the herbs,
laying aside the spade, from off which she had previously rubbed the red
earth, so as to prevent any particular observation; she sat down, and
locking her fingers into each other, swayed her body backwards and
forwards in silence, as a female does in Ireland when under the
influence of deep and absorbing sorrow, whilst from time to time she
fixed her eyes on the prophet, and sighed deeply.

“I thought,” said he, “I sent you for the dandelion; where is it?”

“Oh,” she replied, unrolling it from the corner of her apron, “here
it is--I forgot it--ay, I forgot it--and no wondher--oh, no wondher,
indeed!--Providence! You may blaspheme Providence as much as you like;
but he’ll take his own out o’ you yet; an’ indeed, it’s comin’ to
that--it is, Donnel, an’ you’ll find it so.”

The man had just taken the herbs into his hand and was about to shred
them into small leaves for the poultice, when she uttered the last
words. He turned his eyes upon her; and in an instant that terrible
scowl, for which he was so remarkable, when in a state of passion, gave
its deep and deadly darkness to his already disfigured visage. His eyes
blazed, and one half of his face became ghastly with rage.

“What do you mane?” he asked; “what does she mane, Sarah? I tell you,
wanst for all, you must give up ringing Providence into my ears, unless
you wish to bring my hand upon you, as you often did! mark that!”

“Your ears,” she replied, looking at him calmly, and without seeming to
regard his threat; “oh, I only wish I could ring the fear of Providence
into your heart--I wish I I could; I’ll do for yourself what you often
pretend to do for others: but I’ll give you warnin’. I tell you now,
that Providence: himself is on your track--that his judgment’s hangin’
over you--and that it’ll fall upon! you before long. This is my
prophecy, and; a black one you’ll soon find it.”

That Nelly had been always a woman of some good nature, with gleams of
feeling and humanity appearing in a character otherwise apathetic, hard,
and dark, M’Gowan well knew; but that she was capable of bearding him
in one of his worst and most ferocious moods, was a circumstance which
amazed and absolutely overcame him. Whether it was the novelty or the
moral elevation of the position she so unexpectedly assumed, or some
lurking conviction within himself which echoed back the truth of her
language, it is difficult to say. Be that, however, as it might, he
absolutely quailed before her; and instead of giving way to headlong
violence or outrage, he sat down, and merely looked on her in silence
and amazement.

Sarah thought he was unnecessarily tame on the occasion, and that
her prophecy ought not to have been listened to in silence. The utter
absence of all fear, however, on the part of the elder female, joined to
the extraordinary union of determination and indifference with which
she spoke, had something morally impressive in it; and Sarah, who
felt, besides, that there seemed a kind of mystery in the words of the
denunciation, resolved to let the matter rest between them, at least for
the present.

A silence of some time now ensued, during which she looked from the one
to the other with an aspect of uncertainty. At length, she burst into a
hearty laugh--

“Ha, ha, ha!--well,” said she, “it’s a good joke at any rate to see my
father bate with his own weapons. Why, she has frightened you more wid
her prophecy than ever you did any one wid one of your own. Ha, ha, ha!”

To this Sally neither replied, nor seemed disposed to reply.

“Here,” added Sarah, handing her stepmother a cloth, “remimber you have
to go to Darby Skinadre’s for meal. I’d go myself, an’ save you in the
journey, but that I’m afraid you might fall in love wid one another
in my absence. Be off now, you ould stepdivle, an’ get the meal; or if
you’re not able to go, I will.”

After a lapse of a few minutes, the woman rose, and taking the cloth,
deliberately folded it up, and asked him for money to purchase the meal
she wanted.

“Here,” said he, handing her a written paper, “give him that, an’ it
will do as well as money. He expects Master Dick’s interest for Dalton’s
farm, an’ I’ll engage he’ll attend to that.”

She received the paper, and looking at it, said--

“I hope this is none of the villainy I suspect.”

“Be off,” he replied, “get what you want, and that’s all you have to
do.”

“What’s come over you?” asked Sarah of her father, after the other had
gone. “Did you get afeard of her?”

“There’s something in her eye,” he replied, “that I don’t like, and that
I never seen there before.”

“But,” returned the other, a good deal surprised, “what can there be in
her eye that you need care about? You have nobody’s blood on your hands,
an’ you stole nothing. What made you look afeard that time?”

“I didn’t look afeard.”

“But I say you did, an’ I was ashamed of you.”

“Well, never mind--I may tell you something some o’ these days about
that same woman. In the meantime, I’ll throw myself on the bed, an’ take
a sleep, for I slept but little last night.”

“Do so,” replied Sarah; “but at any rate, never be cowed by a woman. Lie
down, an’ I’ll go over awhile to Tom Cassidy’s. But first, I had better
make the poultice for your face, to take down the ugly swellin’.”

Having made and applied the poultice, she went off, light-hearted as a
lark, leaving her worthy father to seek some rest if he could.

She had no sooner disappeared than the prophet, having closed and
bolted the door, walked backwards and forwards, in a moody and unsettled
manner.

“What,” he exclaimed to himself, “can be the matther with that woman,
that made her look at me in sich a way a while agone? I could not
mistake her eye. She surely knows more than I thought, or she would not
fix her eye into mine as she did. Could there be anything in that dhrame
about Dalton an’ my coffin? Hut! that’s nonsense. Many a dhrame I had
that went for nothin’. The only thing she could stumble on is the Box,
an’ I don’t think she would be likely to find that out, unless she
went to throw down the house; but, anyhow, it’s no harm to thry.” He
immediately mounted the old table, and, stretching up, searched the
crevice in the wall where it had been, but, we need not add, in vain. He
then came down again, in a state of dreadful alarm, and made a general
search for it in every hole and corner visible, after, which his
agitation became wild and excessive.

“She has got it!” he exclaimed--“she has stumbled on it, aided by the
devil’--an’ may she soon be in his clutches!--and it’s the only thing
I’m afeard of! But then,” he added, pausing, and getting somewhat
cool--“does she know it might be brought against me, or who owned it?
I don’t think she does; but still, where can it be, and what could she
mane by Providence trackin’ me out?--an’ why did she look as if she:
knew something? Then that dhrame I can’t get it out o’ my head this
whole day--and the terrible one I had last night, too! But that last is
aisily ‘counted for. As it is, I must only wait, and watch her; and if I
find she can be dangerous, why--it’ll be worse for her--that’s all!”

He then threw himself on the wretched bed, and, despite of his
tumultuous reflections, soon fell asleep.



CHAPTER VI. -- A Rustic Miser and His Establishment


There is to be found in Ireland, and, we presume, in all other
countries, a class of hardened wretches, who look forward to a period
of dearth as to one of great gain and advantage, and who contrive, by
exercising the most heartless and diabolical principles, to make
the sickness, famine, and general desolation which scourge their
fellow-creatures, so many sources of successful extortion and rapacity,
and consequently of gain to themselves. These are Country Misers or
Money-lenders, who are remarkable for keeping meal until the arrival of
what is termed a hard year, or a dear summer, when they sell it out at
an enormous or usurious prices, and who, at all times, and under all
circumstances, dispose of it only at terms dictated by their own griping
spirit and the crying necessity of the unhappy purchasers.

The houses and places of such persons are always remarkable for a
character in their owners of hard and severe saving, which at a first
glance has the appearance of that rare virtue in our country, called
frugality--a virtue which, upon a closer inspection, is found to
be nothing with them but selfishness, sharpened up into the most
unscrupulous avarice and penury.

About half a mile from the Sullivan’s, lived a remarkable man of this
class, named Darby Skinadre. In appearance he was lank and sallow,
with a long, thin, parched looking face, and a miserable crop of yellow
beard, which no one could pronounce as anything else than “a dead
failure;” added to this were two piercing ferret eyes, always sore and
with a tear standing in each, or trickling down his fleshless cheeks; so
that, to persons disposed to judge only by appearances, he looked very
like a man in a state of perpetual repentance for his transgressions,
or, what was still farther from the truth, who felt a most Christian
sympathy with the distresses of the poor. In his house, and about it,
there was much, no doubt, to be commended, for there was much to mark
the habits of the saving man. Everything was neat and clean, not so
much from any innate love of neatness and cleanliness, as because
these qualities were economical in themselves. His ploughs and farming
implements were all snugly laid up, and covered, lest they might be
injured by exposure to the weather; and his house was filled with large
chests and wooden hogsheads, trampled hard with oatmeal, which, as they
were never opened unless during a time of famine, had their joints
and crevices festooned by innumerable mealy-looking cobwebs, which
description of ornament extended to the dresser itself, where they
might be seen upon most of the cold-looking shelves, and those neglected
utensils, that in other families are mostly used for food. His haggard
was also remarkable for having in it, throughout all the year, a
remaining stack or two of oats or wheat, or perhaps one or two large
ricks of hay, tanned by the sun of two or three summers into tawny
hue--each or all kept in the hope of a failure and a famine.

In a room from the kitchen, he had a beam, a pair of scales, and a set
of weights, all of which would have been vastly improved by a visit from
the lord-mayor, had our meal-monger lived under the jurisdiction of that
civic gentleman. He was seldom known to use metal weights when disposing
of his property; in lieu of these he always used round stones, which,
upon the principle of the Scottish proverb, that “many a little makes
a muckle,” he must have found a very beneficial mode of transacting
business.

If anything could add to the iniquity of his principles, as a plausible
but most unscrupulous cheat, it was the hypocritical prostitution of the
sacred name and character of religion to his own fraudulent impositions
upon the poor and the distressed. Outwardly, and to the eye of men,
he was proverbially strict and scrupulous in the observation of its
sanctions, but outrageously severe and unsparing upon all who appeared
to be influenced either by a negligent or worldly spirit, or who omitted
the least tittle of its forms. Religion and its duties, therefore, were
perpetually in his mouth but never with such apparent zeal and sincerity
as when enforcing his most heartless and hypocritical exactions upon
the honest and struggling creatures whom necessity or neglect had driven
into his meshes.

Such was Darby Skinadre; and certain we are that the truth of the
likeness we have given of him will be at once recognized by our readers
as that of the roguish hypocrite, whose rapacity is the standing curse
of half the villages of the country, especially during the seasons of
distress, or failure of crops.

Skinadre on the day we write of, was reaping a rich harvest from the
miseries of the unhappy people. In a lower room of his house, to the
right of the kitchen as you entered it, he stood over the scales,
weighing out with a dishonest and parsimonious hand, the scanty pittance
which poverty enabled the wretched creatures to purchase from him;
and in order to give them a favorable impression of his piety, and
consequently of his justice, he had placed against the wall a delf
crucifix, with a semi-circular receptacle at the bottom of it for
holding holy water This was as much as to say “how could I cheat you,
with the image of our Blessed Redeemer before my eyes to remind me of my
duty, and to teach me, as He did, to love my fellow-creatures?” And
with many of; the simple people, he actually succeeded in making the
impression he wished; for they could not conceive it possible, that any
principle, however rapacious, could drive a man to the practice of such
sacrilegious imposture.

There stood Skinadre, like the very Genius of Famine, surrounded by
distress, raggedness, feeble hunger, and tottering disease, in all the
various aspects of pitiable suffering, hopeless desolation, and that
agony of the heart which impresses wildness upon the pale cheek, makes
the eye at once dull and eager, parches the mouth and gives to the voice
of misery tones that are hoarse and hollow. There he stood, striving to
blend consolation with deceit, and in the name of religion and charity
subjecting the helpless wretches to fraud and extortion. Around him
was misery, multiplied into all her most appalling shapes. Fathers of
families were there, who could read in each other’s faces too truly the
gloom and anguish that darkened the brow and wrung the heart. The
strong man, who had been not long-before a comfortable farmer, now stood
dejected and apparently broken down, shorn of his strength, without a
trace of either hope or spirit; so wofully shrunk away too, from his
superfluous apparel, that the spectators actually wondered to think that
this was the large man, of such powerful frame, whose feats of strength
had so often heretofore filled them with amazement. But, alas! what will
not sickness and hunger do? There too was the aged man--the grand-sire
himself--bent with a double weight of years and sorrow--without food
until that late hour; forgetting the old pride that never stooped
before, and now coming with, the last feeble argument, to remind the
usurer that he and his father had been schoolfellows and friends,
and that although he had refused to credit his son and afterwards his
daughter-in-law, still, for the sake of old times, and of those who were
now no more, he hoped he would not refuse his gray hairs and tears, and
for the sake of the living God besides, that which would keep his son,
and his daughter-in-law, and his famishing grandchildren, who had not
a morsel to put in their mouths, nor the means of procuring it on
earth--if he failed them.

And there was the widower, on behalf of his motherless children, coming
with his worn and desolate look of sorrow, almost thankful to God that
his Kathleen was not permitted to witness the many-shaped miseries of
this woful year; and yet experiencing the sharp and bitter reflection
that now, in all their trials--in his poor children’s want and
sickness--in their moanings by day and their cries for her by night,
they have not the soft affection of her voice nor the tender touch of
her hand to soothe their pain--nor has he that smile, which was ever
his, to solace him now, nor that faithful heart to soothe him with its
affection, or to cast its sweetness into the bitter cup of affliction.
Alas! no; he knows that her heart will beat for him and them no more;
that that eye of love will never smile upon them again; and so he feels
the agony of her loss superadded to all his other sufferings, and in
this state he approaches the merciless usurer.

And the widow--emblem of desolation and dependence--how shall she meet
and battle with the calamities of this fearful season? She out of whose
heart these very calamities draw forth the remembrances of him she has
lost, with such vividness that his past virtues are added to her
present sufferings; and his manly love as a husband--his tenderness as
a parent--his protecting hand and ever kind heart, crush her solitary
spirit by their memory, and drag it down to the utmost depths of
affliction. Oh! bitter reflection!--“if her Owen wore now alive, and
in health, she would not be here; but God took him to Himself, and now
unless he--the miser--has compassion on her, she and her children--her
Owen’s children--must lie down and die! If it were not for their sakes,
poor darlings, she would I wish to follow him out of such a world; but
now she and the Almighty are all that they have to look to, blessed be
His name!”

Others there were whose presence showed; how far the general destitution
had gone into the heart of society, and visited many whose circumstances
had been looked upon as beyond its reach. The decent farmer, for
instance, whom no one had suspected of distress, made his appearance
among them with an air of cheerfulness that was put on to baffle
suspicion. Sometimes he laughed as if his heart were light, and again
expressed a kind of condescending sympathy with some poor person or
other, to whom he spoke kindly, as a man would do who knew nothing
personally of the distress which he saw about him, but who wished to
encourage those who did with the cheering hope that it must soon pass
away. Then affecting the easy manner of one who was interesting himself
for another person, he asked to have some private conversation with the
usurer, to whom he communicated the immediate want that pressed upon him
and his family.

It is impossible, however, to describe the various aspects and claims of
misery which presented themselves at Skinadre’s house. The poor
people flitted to and fro silently and dejectedly, wasted, feeble, and
sickly--sometimes in small groups of twos and threes, and sometimes a
solitary individual might be seen hastening with earnest but languid
speed, as if the life of some dear child or beloved parent, of a husband
or wife, or perhaps, the lives of a whole farcify, depended upon his or
her arrival with food.



CHAPTER VII. -- A Panorama of Misery.


Skinadre, thin and mealy, with his coat off, but wearing a waistcoat to
which were attached flannel sleeves, was busily engaged in his agreeable
task of administering to their necessities. Such was his smoothness
of manner, and the singular control which a long life of hypocrisy had
given him over his feelings, that it was impossible to draw any correct
distinction between that which he only assumed, and that which he really
felt. This consequently gave him an immense advantage over every one
with whom he came in contact, especially the artless and candid, and
all who were in the habit of expressing what they thought. We shall,
however, take the liberty of introducing him to the reader, and allow
honest Skinadre to speak for himself.

“They’re beggars--them three--that woman and her two children; still my
heart bleeds for them, bekase we should love our neighbors as ourselves;
but I have given away as much meal in charity, an’ me can so badly
afford it, as would--I can’t now, indeed, my poor woman! Sick--troth
they look sick, an’ you look sick yourself. Here, Paddy Lenahan, help
that woman an’ her two poor children out of that half bushel of meal
you’ve got; you won’t miss a handful for God’s sake.”

This he said to a poor man who had just purchased some oat-meal from
him; for Skinadre was one of those persons who, however he might have
neglected works of mercy himself, took great delight in encouraging
others to perform them.

“Troth it’s not at your desire I do it, Darby,” replied the man; “but
bekase she an’ they wants it, God help them. Here, poor creature, take
this for the honor of God: an’ I’m only sorry, for both our sakes, that
I can’t do more.”

“Well, Jemmy Duggan,” proceeded the miser, addressing a new-comer,
“what’s the news wid you? They’re hard times, Jemmy; we all know that
an’ feel it too, and yet we live, most of us, as if there wasn’t a God
ta punish us.”

“At all events,” replied the man, “we feel what sufferin’ is now, God
help us! Between hunger and sickness, the counthry was never in such a
state widin the memory of man, What, in the name o’ God, will become of
the poor people, I know not. The Lord pity them an’ relieve them!”

“Amen, amen, Jemmy! Well, Jemmy, can I do any thing for you? But Jemmy,
in regard to that, the thruth is, we have brought all these scourges
on us by our sins and our transgressions; thim that sins, Jemmy, must
suffer.”

“There’s no one denyin’ it, Darby; but you’re axin’ me can you do any
thing for me, an’ my answer to that is, you can, if you like.”

“Ah! Jemmy, you wor ever an’ always a wild, heedless, heerum-skeerum
rake, that never was likely to do much good; little religion ever rested
on you, an’ now I’m afeard no signs on it.”

“Well, well, who’s widout sin? I’m sure I’m not. What I want is, to know
if you’ll credit me for a hundred of meal till the times mends a trifle.
I have the six o’ them at home widout their dinner this day, an’ must go
widout if you refuse me. When the harvest comes round, I’ll pay you.”

“Jemmy, you owe three half-year’s, rent; an’ as for the harvest an’ what
it’ll bring, only jist look at the day that’s in it. It goes to my heart
to refuse you, poor man; but Jemmy, you see you have brought this on
yourself. If you had been an attentive, industrious man, an’ minded
your religion, you wouldn’t be as you are now. Six you have at home, you
say?”

“Ay, not to speak of the woman; an’ myself. I know you won’t, refuse
them, Darby, bekase if we’re hard pushed now, it’s, a’most every body’s
case as well as mine. Be what I may, you know I’m honest.”

“I don’t doubt your honesty, Jemmy; but Jemmy, if I sell my meal to a
man that can pay and won’t, or if I sell my meal to a man that would pay
and can’t, by which do I lose most? There it is, Jemmy--think o’ that
now. Six in family, you say?”

“Six in family, wid the woman an’ myself.”

“The sorra man livin’ feels more for you than I do, an’ I would let you
have the meal if I could; but the truth is, I’m makin’ up my rent--an’
Jemmy, I lost so much last year by my foolish good nature, an’ I gave
away so much on trust, that now I’m brought to a hard pass myself. Troth
I’ll fret enough this night for havin’ to refuse you. I know it was rash
of me to make the promise I did; but still, God forbid that ever any man
should be able to throw it in my face, an’ say that Darby Skinadre ever
broke his promise.”

“What promise?”

“Why, never to sell a pound of meal on trust.”

“God help us, then!--for what to do or where to go I don’t know.”

“It goes to my heart, Jemmy, to refuse you--six in family, an’ the two
of yourselves. Troth it does, to my very heart itself; but stay, maybe
we may manage it. You have no money, you say?”

“No money now, but won’t be so long, plaise God.”

“Well, but haven’t you value of any kind?--: sure, God help them, they
can’t starve, poor cratures--the Lord pity them!” Here he wiped away a
drop of villainous rheum which ran down his cheek, and he did it with
such an appearance of sympathy, that almost any one would have imagined
it was a tear of compassion for the distresses of the poor man’s family.

“Oh! no, they can’t starve. Have you no valuables of any kind,
Jemmy!--ne’er a baste now, or anything that way?”

“Why, there’s a young heifer; but I’m strugglin’ to keep it to help me
in the rent. I was obliged to sell my pig long ago, for I had no way of
feedin’ it.”

“Well, bring me the heifer, Jemmy, an’ I won’t let the crathurs starve.
We’ll see what can be done when it comes here. An’ now, Jemmy, let me ax
if you wint to hear mass on last Sunday?”

“Troth I didn’t like to go in this trim. Peggy has a web of frieze half
made this good while; it’ll be finished some time, I hope.”

“Ah! Jemmy, Jemmy, it’s no wondher the world’s the way it is, for indeed
there’s little thought of God or religion in it. You passed last Sunday
like a haythen, an’ now you see how you stand to-day for the same.”

“You’ll let me bring some o’ the meal home wid me now,” said the man;
“the poor cratures tasted hardly anything to-day yet, an’ they wor
cryin’ whin I left home. I’ll come back wid the heifer fullfut. Troth
they’re in utther misery, Darby.”

“Poor things!--an’ no wondher, wid such a haythen of a father; but,
Jemmy, bring the heifer here first till I look at it, an’ the sooner you
bring it here the sooner they’ll have relief, the crathurs.”

It is not our intention to follow up this iniquitous bargain any
further; it is enough to say that the heifer passed from Jemmy’s
possession into his, at about the fourth part of its value.

To those who had money he was a perfect honey-comb, overflowing with
kindness and affection, expressed in such a profusion of warm and sugary
words, that it was next to an impossibility to doubt his sincerity.

“Darby,” said a very young female, on whose face was blended equal
beauty and sorrow, joined to an expression that was absolutely
death-like, “I suppose I needn’t ax you for credit?” He shook his head.

“It’s for the couple,” she added, “an’ not for myself. I wouldn’t ax it
for myself. I know my fault, an’ my sin, an’ may God forgive myself in
the first place, an’ him that brought me to it, an’ to the shame that
followed it! But what would the ould couple do now widout me?”

“An’ have you no money? Ah, Margaret Murtagh! sinful creature--shame,
shame, Margaret. Unfortunate girl that you are, have you no money?”

“I have not, indeed; the death of my brother Alick left us as we are;
he’s gone from them now; but there was no fear of me goin’ that wished
to go. Oh, if God in His goodness to them had took me an’ spared him,
they wouldn’t be sendin’ to you this day for meal to keep life in them
till things comes round.”

“Troth I pity them--from my heart I pity them now they’re helpless and
ould--especially for havin’ sich a daughter as you are; but if it was
my own father an’ mother, God rest them, I couldn’t give meal out on
credit. There’s not in the parish a poorer man than I am. I’m done wid
givin’ credit now, thank goodness; an’ if I had been so long ago, it
isn’t robbed, and ruined, an’ beggared by rogues I’d be this day, but a
warm, full man, able and willin’ too to help my neighbors; an’ it is not
empty handed I’d send away any messenger from your father or mother, as
I must do, although my heart bleeds for them this minute.”

Here once more he wiped away the rheum, with every appearance of regret
and sorrow. In fact, one would almost suppose that by long practice he
had trained one of his eyes--for we ought to have said that there was
one of them more sympathetic than the other--to shed its hypocritical
tear at the right place, and in such a manner, too, that he might claim
all the credit of participating in the very distresses which he refused
to relieve, or by which he amassed his wealth.

The poor heart-broken looking girl, who by the way carried an
unfortunate baby in her arms, literally tottered out of the room,
sobbing bitterly, and with a look of misery and despair that it was
woeful to contemplate.

“Ah, then, Harry Hacket,” said he, passing to another, “how are you?
an’ how are you all over in Derrycloony, Harry? not forgettin’ the ould
couple?”

“Throth, middlin’ only, Darby. My fine boy, Denis, is down wid this
illness, an’ I’m wantin’ a barrel of meal from you till towards
Christmas.”

“Come inside, Harry, to this little nest here, till I tell you
something; an’, by the way, let your father know I’ve got a new prayer
that he’ll like to learn, for it’s he that’s the pious man, an’ attinds
to his duties--may God enable him! and every one that has the devotion
in the right place; _amin a Chiernah!_”

He then brought Hacket into a little out-shot behind the room in which
the scales were, and shutting the door, thus proceeded in a sweet,
confidential kind of whisper--

“You see, Harry, what I’m goin’ to say to you is what I’d not say
to e’er another in the parish, the divil a one--God pardon me for
swearin’--_amin a Chiernah!_ I’m ruined all out--smashed down and broke
horse and foot; there’s the Slevins that wint to America, an’ I lost
more than thirty pounds by them.”

“I thought,” replied Hacket, “they paid you before they went; they were
always a daicent and an honest family, an’ I never heard any one speak
an ill word o’ them.”

“Not a penny, Harry.”

“That’s odd, then, bekaise it was only Sunday three weeks, that Murty
Slevin, their cousin, if you remember, made you acknowledge that they
paid you, at the chapel green.”

“Ay, an’ I do acknowledge; bekaise, Harry, one may as well spake
charitably of the absent as not; it’s only in private to you that I’m
lettin’ out the truth.”

“Well, well,” exclaimed the other, rather impatiently, “what have they
to do wid us?”

“Ay, have they; it was what I lost by them an’ others--see now, don’t
be gettin’ onpatient, I bid you--time enough for that when you’re
refused--that prevints me from bein’ able to give credit as I’d wish.
I’m not refusin’ you, Harry; but _achora_, listen; you’ll bring your
bill at two months, only I must charge you a trifle for trust, for
chances, or profit an’ loss, as the schoolmasther says; but you’re to
keep it a saicret from livin’ mortal, bekaise if it ‘ud get known in
these times that I’d do sich a thing, I’d have the very flesh ait off
o’ my bones by others wantin’ the same thing; bring me the bill, then,
Harry, an’ I’ll fill it up myself, only be _dhe husth_ (* hold your
tongue) about it.”

Necessity forces those who are distressed to comply with many a
rapacious condition of the kind, and the consequence was that Hacket did
what the pressure of the time compelled him to do, passed his bill to
Skinadre, at a most usurious price, for the food which was so necessary
to his family.

It is surprising how closely the low rustic extortioner and the city
usurer upon a larger scale resemble each other in the expression of
their sentiments, in their habits of business, their plausibility,
natural tact, and especially, in that hardness of heart and utter want
of all human pity and sympathy, upon which the success of their black
arts of usury and extortion essentially depends. With extortion in all
its forms Skinadre, for instance, was familiar. From those who were poor
but honest, he got a bill such as he exacted from Hacket, because he
knew that, cost what it might to them, he was safe in their integrity.
If dishonest, he still got a bill and relied upon the law and its cruel
list of harassing and fraudulent expenses for security. From others he
got property of all descriptions; from some, butter, yarn, a piece of
frieze, a pig, a cow, or a heifer. In fact, nothing that possessed value
came wrong to him, so that it is impossible to describe adequately the
web of mischief which this blood-sucking old spider contrived to spread
around him, especially for those whom he knew to be too poor to avail
themselves of a remedy against his villany.

“Molly Cassidy, how are you?” he said, addressing a poor looking woman
who carried a parcel of some description rolled up under her cloak; “how
are all the family, achora?”

“Glory be to God for it, they can scarcely be worse;” replied the woman,
in that spirit of simple piety and veneration for the Deity, which in
all their misery characterizes the Irish people; “but sure we’re only
sufferin’ like others, an’ indeed not so bad as many; there’s Mick
Kelly has lost his fine boy Lanty; and his other son, young Mick, isn’t
expected to live, an’ all wid this sickness, that was brought on them,
as it is everywhere, wid bad feedin’.”

“They’re miserable times, Molly, at least I find them so; for I dunna
how it happens, but every one’s disappointment falls upon me, till they
have me a’most out of house an’ home--throth it ‘ud be no wondher I’d
get hard-hearted some day wid the way I’m thrated an’ robbed by every
one; aye, indeed, bekase I’m good-natured, they play upon me.”

The poor creature gave a faint smile, for she knew the man’s character
thoroughly.

“I have a dish of butther here, Darby,” she said, “an’ I want meal
instead of it.”

“Butther, Molly; why thin, Molly, sure it isn’t to me you’re bringing
butther--me that has so much of it lyin’ on my hands here already. Sure,
any way, it’s down to dirt since the wars is over--butther is; if it
was anything else but butther, Molly: but--it’s of no use; I’ve too
much of it.”

“The sorra other thing I have, thin, Mr. Skinadre; but sure you had
betther look at it, an’ you’ll find it’s what butther ought to be, firm,
claine, and sweet.”

“I can’t take it, achora; there’s no market for it now.”

“Here, as we’re distressed, take it for sixpence a pound, and that’s
the lowest price--God knows, if we wern’t as we are, it isn’t for that
you’d get it.”

“Troth, I dar’ say, you’re ill off--as who isn’t in these times? an’
it’s worse they’re gettin’ an’ will be gettin’ every day. Troth, I say,
my heart bleeds for you; but we can’t dale; oh, no! butther, as I said,
is only dirt now.”

“For God’s sake, thin,” exclaimed the alarmed creature, “take it for
whatever you like.”

“It ‘ud go hard wid me to see your poor family in a state of outther
want,” he replied, “an’ it’s not in my nature to be harsh to a
struggling person---so whether I lose or gain, I’ll allow you
three-pence a pound for it.”

A shade of bitterness came across her features at this iniquitous
proposal; but she felt the truth of that old adage in all its severity,
that necessity has no law.

“God help us,” she exclaimed--“threepence a pound for such butther as
this!--however, it’s the will of God sure, an’ it can’t be helped--take
it.”

“Ay, it’s aisy said, take it; but not to say what’ll I do wid it, when
I have it; however, that’s the man I am, an’ I know how it’ll end wid
me--sarvin’ every one, workin’ for every one, an’ thinkin’ of every one
but myself, an’ little thanks or gratitude for all--I know I’m not fit
for sich a world--but still it’s a consolation to be doin’ good to our
fellow-creatures when we can, an’ that’s what lightens my heart.”

A woman now entered, whose appearance excited general sympathy, as was
evident from the subdued murmurs of compassion which were breathed
from the persons assembled, as soon as she entered the room. There
was something about her which, in spite of her thin and worn dress,
intimated a consciousness of a position either then or at some previous
time, above that of the common description of farmer’s wives. No one
could mistake her for a highly-educated woman--but there was in her
appearance that decency of manner resulting from habits of independence
and from moral feeling, which at a first glance, whether it be
accompanied by superior dress or not, indicates something which is felt
to entitle its proprietor to unquestionable respect. The miser, when she
entered, had been putting away the dish of butter into the outshot we
have mentioned, so that he had not yet an opportunity of seeing her,
and, ere he returned to the scales, another female possessing probably
not less interest to the reader, presented herself--this was Mave or
Mabel, the young and beautiful daughter of the pious and hospitable
Jerry Sullivan.

Skinadre on perceiving the matron who preceded her, paused for a moment,
and looked at her with a wince in his thin features that might be taken
for an indication of either pleasure or pain. He’ closed the sympathetic
eye, and wiped it--but this not seeming to satisfy him, he then closed
both, and blew his nose with a little skeleton mealy handkerchief that
lay on a sack beside him for that purpose.

“Hem--a-hem! why, thin, Mrs. Dalton, it isn’t to my poor place I
expected you would come.”

“Darby,” she replied, “there is no use for any length of conversation
between you and me--I’m here contrary to the wishes of my family--but I
am a mother, and cannot look upon their destitution without feeling
that I should not allow my pride to stand between them and death: we are
starving, I mean--they are; and I’m come to ask you for credit; if we
are ever able to pay you, we will; if not, it’s only one good act done
to a family that often did many to you when they thought you grateful.”

“I’m the worst in the world--I’m the worst in the world,” replied
Skinadre; “but it wasn’t till I knew that you’d be put out o’ your farm
that I offered for it, and now you’ve taken away my carrecther, an’
spoken ill o’ me everywhere, an’ said that I bid for it over your heads;
ay, indeed, an’ that it was your husband that set me up, by the way--oh,
yes--an’ supposin’ it was, an’ I’m not denyin’ it, but is that any
raisin that I’d not bid for a good farm, when I knew that yez ‘ud be put
out of it?”

“I am now spakin’ about the distress of our family,” said Mrs. Dalton,
“you know that sickness has been among us, and is among us--poor Tom is
just able to be up, but that’s all.”

“Troth, an’ it ‘ud be well for you all, an’ for himself too, that he had
been taken away afore he comes in a bad end. What he will come too, if
God hasn’t said it. I hope he feels the affliction he brought on
poor Ned Munay an’ his family by the hand he made of his unfortunate
daughter.”

“He does feel it. The death of her brother and their situation has
touched his heart, an’ he’s only waitin’ for better health and better
times to do her justice; but now what answer do you give me?”

“Why, this: I’m harrished by what I’ve done for every one; an’--an’--the
short and the long of it is, that I’ve naither male nor money to throw
away. I couldn’t afford it and I can’t. I’m a rogue, Mrs. Dalton--a
miser, an extortioner, an ungrateful knave, and everything that is bad
an’ worse than another; an’ for that raison, I say, I have naither male
nor money to throw away. That’s what I’d say if I was angry; but I’m not
angry. I do feel for you an’ them; still I can’t afford to do what you
want, or I’d do it, for I like to do good for evil, bad as I am. I’m
strivin’ to make up my rent an’ to pay an unlucky bill that I have
due to-morrow, and doesn’t know where the money’s to come from to meet
both.”

“Mave Sullivan, achora, what can I--”

Mrs. Dalton, from her position in the room, could not have noticed the
presence of Mave Sullivan, but even had she been placed otherwise,
it would have been somewhat difficult to get a glimpse of the young
creature’s face. Deeply did she participate in the sympathy which was
felt for the mother of her mother, and so naturally delicate were her
feelings, that she had drawn up the hood of her cloak, lest the other
might have felt the humiliation to which Mave’s presence must have
exposed her by the acknowledgment of her distress. Neither was this all
the gentle and generous girl had to suffer. She experienced, in her own
person, as well as Mrs. Dalton did, the painful sense of degradation
which necessity occasions, by a violation of that hereditary spirit of
decent pride and independence which the people consider as the prestige
of high respect, and which, even while it excites compassion and
sympathy, is looked upon, to a certain extent, as diminished by even a
temporary visitation of poverty. When the meal-man, therefore, addressed
her, she unconsciously threw the hood of her cloak back, and disclosed
to the spectators a face burning with blushes and eyes filled with
tears. The tears, however, were for the distress of Mrs. Dalton and her
family, and the blushes for the painful circumstances which compelled
her at once to witness them, and to expose those which were left under
her own careworn father’s roof. Mrs. Dalton, however, on looking round
and perceiving what seemed to be an ebullition merely of natural shame,
went over to her with a calm but mournful manner that amounted almost to
dignity.

“Dear Mave,” she said, “there is nothing here to be ashamed of. God
forbid that the struggle of an honest family with poverty should bring
a blot upon either your good name or mine. It does not, nor it will not:
so dry your tears, my darlin’ girl; there are better times before us
all, I trust. Darby Skinadre,” she added, turning to the miser, “you
are both hard-hearted and ungrateful, or you would remember, in our
distress, the kindness we showed you in yours. If you can cleanse your
conscience from the stain of ingratitude, it must be by a change of
life.”

“Whatever stain there may be on my ungrateful conscience,” he replied,
turning up his red eyes, as it were with thanksgiving, “there’s not the
stain of blood and murdher on it--that’s one comfort.”

Mrs. Dalton did not seem to hear him, neither did she seem to look in
the direction of where he stood. As the words were uttered she had
been in the act of extending her hand to Mave Sullivan, who had hers
stretched out to receive it. There now occurred, however, a mutual
pause. Her hand was withdrawn, as was that of Mave also, who had
suddenly become pale as death.

“God bless you, my darlin’ girl!” exclaimed Mrs. Dalton, sighing, as
if with some hidden sorrow; “God bless you and yours, prays my unhappy
heart this day!”

And with these words she was about to depart, when Mave, trembling and
much agitated, laid her hand gently and timidly upon her,--adding, in a
low, sweet, tremulous voice,

“My heart is free from that suspicion--I can’t tell why--but I don’t
believe it.”

And while she spoke, her small hand gradually caught that of Mrs.
Dalton, as a proof that she would not withhold the embrace on that
account. Mrs. Dalton returned her pressure, and at the same moment
kissed the fair girl’s lips, who sobbed a moment or two in her arms,
where she threw herself. The other again invoked a blessing upon her
head, and walked out, having wiped a few tears from her pale cheeks.

The miser looked upon this exhibition of feeling with some surprise; but
as his was not a heart susceptible of the impressions it was calculated
to produce, he only said in a tone of indifference:

“Well, to be sure now, Mave, I didn’t expect to see you shakin’ hands
wid and kissin’ Condy Dalton’s wife, at any rate, considerin’ all that
has happened atween the families. However, it’s good to be forgivin’;
I hope it is; indeed I know that; for it comes almost to a feelin’ in
myself. Well, _achora_, what am I to do for you?”

“Will you let me speak to you inside a minute?” she asked.

“Will I? Why, then, to be sure I will; an’ who knows but it’s my
daughter-in-law I might have you yet, _avillish!_ Yourself and Darby’s
jist about an age. Come inside, _ahagur_.”

Their dialogue was not of very long duration. Skinadre, on returning to
the scales, weighed two equal portions of oatmeal, for one of which Mave
paid him.

“I will either come or send for this,” she said laying her hand on the
one for which she had paid. “If I send any one, I’ll give the token I
mentioned.”

“Very well, a suchar--very well,” he replied; “it’s for nobody livin’
but yourself I’d do it; but sure, now that I must begin to coort you for
Darby, it won’t be aisy to refuse you for anything in raison.”

“Mind, then,” she observed, as she seized one of the portions, in order
to proceed home; “mind,” said she, laying her hand upon that which she
was leaving behind her; “mind it’s for this one I have paid you.”

“Very well, achora, it makes no difference; sure a kiss o’ them red,
purty lips o’ yours to Darby will pay the inthrest for all.”

Two other females now made their appearance, one with whom our readers
are already acquainted. This was no other than the prophet’s wife,
who had for her companion a woman whom neither she herself nor any one
present knew.

“Mave Sullivan, darlin’,” exclaimed the former, “I’m glad to see you.
Are you goin’ home, now?”

“I am, Nelly,” replied Mave, “jist on my step.”

“Well, thin, if you stop a minute or two, I’ll be part o’ the way wid
you. I have somethin’ to mention as we go along.”

“Very well, then,” replied Mave; “make as much haste as you can, Nelly,
for I’m in a hurry;” and an expression of melancholy settled upon her
countenance as she spoke.

The stranger was a tall thin woman, much about the age and height of the
prophet’s ‘wife, but neither so lusty nor so vigorous in appearance,
She was but indifferently dressed, and though her features had evidently
been handsome in her younger days, yet there was now a thin, shrewish
expression about the nose, and a sharpness about the compressed lips,
and those curves which bounded in her mouth, that betokened much
firmness if not obstinancy in her character, joined to a look which
might as well be considered an indication of trial and suffering, as of
a temper naturally none of the best.

On hearing Mave Sullivan’s name mentioned, she started, and looked at
her keenly, and for a considerable time; after which she asked for
a drink of water, which she got in the kitchen, where she sat, as it
seemed to rest a little.

Nelly, in the meantime, put her hand in a red, three-cornered pocket
that hung by her side, and pulling out a piece of writing, presented it
to the meal man. That worthy gentleman, on casting his eye over it, read
as follows:


“Dear Skinadre: Give Daniel M’Gowan, otherwise the Black Prophet, any
quantity of meal necessary for his own family, which please charge, (and
you know why,) to your friend,

“Dick o’ the Grange, Jun.”


Skinadre’s face, on perusing this document, was that of a man who felt
himself pulled in different directions by something at once mortifying
and pleasant. He smiled at first, then bit his lips, winked one eye,
then another; looked at the prophet’s wife with complacency, but
immediately checked himself, and began to look keen and peevish. This,
however, appeared to be an error on the other side; and the consequence
was, that, after some comical alterations, his countenance settled down
into its usual expression.

“Troth,” said he, “that same Dick o’ the Grange, as he calls himself,
is a quare young gintleman; as much male as you want--a quare, mad--your
family’s small, I think?”

“But sharp an’ active,” she replied, with a hard smile, as of one who
cared not for the mirth she made, “as far as we go.”

“Ay,” said he, abruptly, “divil a much--God pardon me for swearin’--ever
they wor for good that had a large appetite. It’s a bad sign of either
man or woman. There never was a villain hanged yet that didn’t ait more
to his last breakfast than ever he did at a meal in his life before.
How-an-ever, one may as well have a friend; so I suppose, we must give
you a thrifle.”

When her portion was weighed out, she and Mave Sullivan left this scene
of extortion together, followed by the strange woman, who seemed, as
it were, to watch their motions, or at least to feel some particular
interest in them.

He had again resumed his place at the scales, and was about to proceed
in his exactions, when the door opened, and a powerful young man, tall,
big boned and broad shouldered, entered the room, leading or rather
dragging with him the poor young-woman and her child, who had just left
the place in such bitterness and affliction. He was singularly handsome,
and of such resolute and manly bearing, that it was impossible not to
mark him as a person calculated to impress one with a strong anxiety to
know who and what he might be. On this occasion his cheek was blanched
and his eye emitted a turbid fire, which could scarcely be determined as
that of indignation or illness.

“Is it thrue,” he asked, “that you’ve dared to refuse to
this--this--unfor--is it thrue that you’ve dared to refuse this girl and
her starvin’ father and mother the meal she wanted? Is this thrue, you
hard-hearted ould scoundrel?--bekaise if it is, by the blessed sky above
us, I’ll pull the wind-pipe out of you, you infernal miser!”

He seized unfortunate Skinadre by the neck, as he spoke, and almost at
the same moment forced him to project his tongue about three inches
out of his mouth, causing his face at the same time to assume, by the
violence of the act, an expression of such comic distress and terror, as
it was difficult to look upon with gravity.

“Is it thrue,” he repeated, in a voice of thunder, “that you’ve dared to
do so scoundrelly an act, an’ she, the unfortunate creature, famishing
wid hunger herself?”

While he spake, he held Skinadre’s neck as if in a vice--firm in the
same position--and the latter, of course, could do nothing more than
turn his ferret eyes round as well as he could, to entreat him to relax
his grip.

“Don’t choke him, Tom,” exclaimed Hacket, who came forward, to
interpose; “you’ll strangle him; as Heaven’s above, you will.”

“An’ what great crime would that be?” answered the other, relaxing his
awful grip of the miser. “Isn’t he an’ every cursed meal-monger like
him a curse and a scourge to the counthry--and hasn’t the same counthry
curses and scourges enough widhout either him or them? Answer me now,”
 he proceeded, turning to Skinadre, “why did you send her away widout the
food she wanted?”

“My heart bled for her; but--”

“It’s a lie, you born hypocrite--it’s a lie--your heart never bled for
anything, or anybody.”

“But you don’t know,” replied the miser, “what I lost by--”

“It’s a lie, I say,” thundered out the gigantic young fellow, once more
seizing the unfortunate meal-monger by the throat, when out again went
his tongue, like a piece of machinery touched by a spring, and again
were the red eyes now almost starting out of his head, turned round,
whilst he himself was in a state of suffocation, that rendered his
appearance ludicrous beyond description--“it’s a lie, I say, for you
have neither thruth nor heart--that’s what we all know.”

“For Heaven’s sake, let the man go,” said Hacket, “or you’ll have his
death to answer for “--and as he spoke he attempted to unclasp the young
man’s grip; “Tom Dalton, I say, let the man go.”

Dalton, who was elder brother to the lover of Mave Sullivan, seized
Hacket with one of his hands, and spun him like a child to the other end
of the room.

“Keep away,” he exclaimed, “till I settle wid him--here now, Skinadre,
listen to me--you refused my father credit when we wanted it, although
you knew we were honest--you refused him credit when we were turned out
of our place, although you knew the sickness was among us--well, you
know whether we that wor your friends, an’--my father at least--the
makin’ of you”--and as he spoke, he accompanied every third word by
a shake or two, as a kind of running commentary upon what he said;
“ay--you did--you knew it well, and I could bear all that; but I can’t
bear you to turn this unfortunate girl out of your place, widout what
she wants, and she’s sinkin’ wid hunger herself. If she’s in distress,
‘twas I that brought her to it, an’ to shame an’ to sorrow too--but I’ll
set all right for you yet, Margaret dear--an’ no one has a betther right
to spake for her.”

“Tom,” said the young woman, with a feeble voice, “for the love of God
let him go or he’ll drop.”

“Not,” replied Dalton, “till he gives you what you come for. Come now,”
 he proceeded, addressing the miser, “weigh her. How much will you be
able to carry, Margaret?”

“Oh, never mind, now, Tom,” she replied, “I don’t want any, it’s the
ould people at home--it’s them--it’s them.”

“Weigh her out,” continued the other, furiously; “weigh her out a stone
of meal, or by all the lies that ever came from your lips, I’ll squeeze
the breath out of your body, you deceitful ould hypocrite.”

“I will,” said the miser, panting, and adjusting his string of a cravat,
“I will, Tom; here, I ain’t able, weigh it yourself--I’m not--indeed I’m
not able,” said he, breathless; “an’ I was thinkin when you came in of
sendin’ afther her, bekase, when I heard of the sickness among them,
that I mayn’t sin, but I found my heart bleedin’ inwar--”


[Illustration: PAGE 807-- Tom’s clutches were again at his throat]


Tom’s clutches were again at his throat. “Another lie,” he exclaimed,
“and you’r a gone man. Do what I bid you.”

Skinadre appeared, in point of fact, unable to do so, and Dalton seeing
this, weighed the unhappy young woman a stone of oatmeal, which, on
finding it too heavy for her feeble strength, he was about to take up
himself when he put his hands to his temples, then staggered and fell.

They immediately gathered about him to ascertain the cause of this
sudden attack, when it appeared that he had become insensible. His brow
was now pale and cold as marble, and a slight dew lay upon his broad
forehead; his shirt was open, and exposed to view a neck and breast,
which, although sadly wasted, were of surpassing whiteness and great
manly beauty.

Margaret, on seeing him fall, instantly placed her baby in the hands of
another woman, and flying to him, raised his head and laid it upon her
bosom; whilst the miser, who had now recovered, shook his head, lifted
his hands, and looked as if he felt that his house was undergoing
pollution. In the meantime, the young woman bent her mouth down to his
ear, and said, in tones that were wild and hollow, and that had more of
despair than even of sorrow in them--

“Tom, oh, Tom, are you gone?--hear me!”

But he replied not to her. “Ah! there was a day,” she added, looking
with a mournful smile around, “when he loved to listen to my voice; but
that day has passed forever.”

He opened his eyes as she spoke; hers were fixed upon him. He felt a few
warm tears upon his face, and she exclaimed in a low voice, not designed
for other ears--

“I forgive you all, Tom, dear--I forgive you all!”

He looked at her, and starting to his feet, exclaimed--

“Margaret, my own Margaret, hear me! She is dyin’,” he shouted, in a
hoarse and excited voice--“she is dyin’ with want. I see it all. She’s
dead!”

It was too true; the unhappy girl had passed into another life; but,
whether from a broken heart, caused by sin, shame, and desertion, or
from famine and the pressure of general destitution and distress, could
never properly be ascertained.

“I see!” exclaimed Dalton, his eyes again blazing, and his voice hollow
with emotion--“I see--there she lies; and who brought her to that? But I
intended to set all right. Ay--there she lies. An’ again, how are we at
home? Brought low down, down to a mud cabin! Now, Dick o’ the Grange,
an’ now, Darby Skinadre--now for revenge. The time is come. I’ll take my
place at the head of them, and what’s to be done, must be done. Margaret
Murtagh, you’re lying dead before me, and by the broken heart you died
of--”

He could add no more; but with these words, tottering and frantic, he
rushed out of the miser’s house.

“Wid the help o’ God, the young savage is as mad as a March hare,”
 observed Skinadre, coolly; “but, as it’s all over wid the unfortunate
crature, I don’t see why an honest man should lose his own, at any
rate.”

Whilst uttering these words, he seized the meal, and deliberately
emptied it back into the chest from which young Dalton had taken it.



CHAPTER VIII. -- A Middle Man and Magistrate--Master and Man.


Having mentioned a strange woman who made her appearance at Skinadre’s,
it may be necessary, or, at least, agreeable to the reader, that
we should account for her presence under the roof of that worthy
individual, especially as she is likely to perform a part of some
interest in our tale. We have said already that she started on hearing
Mave Sullivan’s name mentioned, and followed her and the Black Prophet’s
wife like a person who watched their motions, and seemed to feel some
peculiar interest in either one or both. The reader must return, then,
to the Grey Stone already alluded to, which to some of the characters in
our narrative will probably prove to be a “stone of destiny.”

Hanlon, having departed from Sarah M’Gowan in a state of excitement,
wended his way along a lonely and dreary road, to the residence of
his master, Dick o’ the Grange. The storm had increased, and was still
increasing at every successive blast, until it rose to what might be
termed a tempest. It is, indeed, a difficult thing to describe the
peculiar state of his feelings as he struggled onwards, sometimes
blown back to a stand-still, and again driven forward by the gloomy and
capricious tyranny of the blast, as if he were its mere plaything.
In spite, however, of the conflict of the external elements as they
careered over the country around him, he could not shake from his
imagination the impression left there by the groan which he had heard at
the Grey Stone. A supernatural terror, therefore, was upon him, and
he felt as if he were in the presence of an accompanying spirit--of a
spirit that seemed anxious to disclose the fact that murder would not
rest; and so strongly did this impression gain upon him, that in the
fitful howling of the storm, and in its wild wailing and dying sobs
among the trees and hedges, as he went along, he thought he could
distinguish sounds that belonged not to this life. Still he proceeded,
his terrors thus translating, as it were, the noisy conflict of the
elements into the voices of the dead, or thanking Heaven that the strong
winds brought him to a calmer sense of his position, by the necessity
that they imposed of preserving himself against their violence. In this
anomalous state he advanced, until he came to a grove of old beeches
that grew at the foot of one of the hill-ranges we have described, and
here the noises he heard were not calculated to diminish his terrors. As
the huge trees were tossed and swung about in the gloomy moonlight, his
ears were assailed by a variety of wild sounds which had never reached
them before. The deep and repeated crashes of the tempest, as it
raged among them, was accompanied by a frightful repetition of hoarse
moanings, muffled groans, and wild unearthly shrieks, which encountered
him from a thousand quarters in the grove, and he began to feel
that horrible excitement which is known to be occasioned by the mere
transition from extreme cowardice to reckless indifference.

Still he advanced homewards, repeating his prayers with singular energy,
his head uncovered notwithstanding the severity of the night, and the
rain pouring in torrents upon him, when he found it necessary to cross a
level of rough land, at all times damp and marshy, but in consequence of
the rains of the season, now a perfect morass. Over this he had advanced
about half a mile, and got beyond the frightful noises of the woods,
when some large object rose into the air from a clump of plashy rushes
before him, and shot along the blast, uttering a booming sound, so loud
and stunning that he stood riveted to the earth. The noise resembled
that which sometimes proceeds from a humming-top, if a person could
suppose one made upon such a gigantic scale as to produce the deep and
hollow buzz which this being emitted. Nothing could now convince him
that he was not surrounded by spirits, and he felt confident that the
voice of undiscovered murder was groaning on the blast--shrieking, as it
were, for vengeance in the terrible voice of the tempest. He once more
blessed himself, repeated a fresh prayer, and struggled forward, weak,
and nearly exhausted, until at length he reached the village adjoining
which his master, Dick o’ the Grange, resided.

The winds now, and for some minutes previously, had begun to fall, and
the lulls in the storm were calmer and more frequent, as well as longer
in duration. Hanlon proceeded to his master’s, and peering through the
shutters, discovered that the servants had not yet retired to rest;
then bending his steps further up the village, he soon reached a small
isolated cabin, at the door of which he knocked, and in due time was
admitted by a thin, tall female.

“God protect us, dear, you’re lost!--blessed father, sich a night! Oh!
my, my! Well, well; sit near the spark o’ fire, sich as it is; but,
indeed, it’s little you’ll benefit by it. Any way, sit down.”

Hanlon sat on a stool, and laying his hat beside him on the floor, he
pressed the rain as well as he could out of his drenched hair, and for
some time did not speak, whilst the female, squatted upon the ground,
somewhat like a hare in her form, sat with the candle in her hand, which
she held up in the direction of his face, whilst her eyes were riveted
on him with a look of earnest and solemn inquiry.

“Well,” she at length said, “did your journey end, as I tould you it
would, in nothing? And yet, God presarve me, you look--eh!--what has
happened?--you look like one that was terrified, sure enough. Tell me,
at wanst, did the dhrame come out thrue?”

“I’ll not have a light heart this many a day,” he replied; “let no one
say there’s not a Providence above us to bring murdher to light.”

“God of glory be about us!” she exclaimed, interrupting him; “something
has happened! Your looks would frighten one, an’ your voice isn’t like
the voice of a livin’ man. Tell me--and yet, for all so curious as I
feel, I’m thremblin’ this minute--but tell me, did the dhrame come out
thrue, I say?”

“The dhrame came out thrue,” he replied, solemnly. “I know where the
tobaccy box is that he had about him; the same that transported my poor
uncle, or that was partly the means of doin’ it.”

The woman crossed herself, muttered a short ejaculatory prayer, and
again gathered her whole features into an expression of mingled awe and
curiosity.

“Did you go to the place you dhramed of?” she asked.

“I went to the Grey Stone,” he replied, “an’ offered up a prayer for his
sowl, afther puttin’ my right hand upon it in his name, jist as I did on
yesterday; afther I got an account of the tobaccy box, I heard a groan
at the spot--as heaven’s above me, I did.”

“Savior of earth, _gluntho shin!_”

“But that wasn’t all. On my way home, I heard, as I was passin’ the ould
trees at the Rabbit Bank, things that I can’t find words to tell you
of.”

“Well acushla, glory be to God for everything! it’s all his will,
blessed be his name! What did you hear, avick?--but wait till I throw a
drop o’ the holy wather that I have hangin’ in the little bottle at the
bed-post upon us.”

She rose whilst speaking and getting the bottle alluded to, sprinkled
both herself and him, after which she hung it up again in its former
position.

“There, now, nothin’ harmful, at any rate, can come near us afther that,
blessed be his name. Well, what did you hear comin’ home?--I mean at
the Rabbit Bank. Wurrah,” she added, shuddering, “but it’s it that’s the
lonely spot after night! What was it, dear?”

“Indeed, I can scarcely tell you--sich groans, an’ wild shoutins, an’
shrieks, man’s ears never hard in this world, I think; there I hard them
as I was comin’ past the trees, an’ afther I passed them; an’ when I
left them far behind me, I could hear, every now and then, a wild shriek
that made my blood run cowld. But there was still worse as I crossed the
Black Park; something got up into the air out o’ the rushes before me,
an’ went off wid a noise not unlike what Jerry Hamilton of the Band
makes when he rubs his middle finger up against the tamborine.”

“Heaven be about us!” she exclaimed, once more crossing herself, and
uttering a short prayer for protection from evil; “but tell me, how did
you know it was his Box, and how did you find it out?”

“By the letters P. M., and the broken hinge,” he replied.

“Blessed be the name of God!” she exclaimed again--“He won’t let the
murdher lie, that’s clear. But what I want to know is, how did your
goin’ to the Grey Stone bring you to the knowledge of the box?”

He then gave her a more detailed account of his conversation with Sarah
M’Gowan, and the singular turn which it chanced to take towards the
subject of the handkerchief, in the first instance; but when the
coincidence of the letters were mentioned, together with Sarah’s
admission that she had the box in her possession, she clasped her hands,
and looking upwards exclaimed--

“Blessed be the name of the Almighty for that! Oh, I feel there is no
doubt now the hand of God is in it, an’ we’ll come at the murdher or the
murdherers yet.”

“I hope so,” he replied; “but I’m lost Wid wet an’ cowld; so in the
meantime I’ll be off home, an’ to my bed. I had something to say to you
about another matther, but I’ll wait till mornin’; dear knows, I’m in no
condition to spake about anything else to-night. This is a snug little
cabin; but, plaise God, in the coorse of a week or so, I’ll have
you more comfortable than you are. If my own throuble was over me, I
wouldn’t stop long in the neighborhood; but as the hand of God seems
to be in this business, I can’t think of goin’ till it’s cleared up, as
cleared up it will be, I have no doubt, an’ can have none, afther what
has happened this awful night.”

Hanlon’s situation with his master was one with which many of our
readers are, no doubt, well acquainted. He himself was a clever, active,
ingenious fellow, who could, as they say in the country, put a hand to
anything, and make himself useful in a great variety of employments. He
had in the spring of that year, been engaged as a common laborer by
Dick o’ the Grange, in which capacity he soon attracted his employer’s
notice, by his extraordinary skill in almost everything pertaining to
that worthy gentleman’s establishment. It is true he was a stranger in
the country, of whom nobody knew anything--for there appeared to be some
mystery about him; but as Dick cared little of either his place of birth
or pedigree, it was sufficient for him to find that Hanlon was a
very useful, not to say valuable young man, about his house, that
he understood everything, and had an eye and hand equally quick and
experienced. The consequence was, that he soon became a favorite with
the father, and a kind of _sine qua non_ with the son, into whose rustic
gallantries he entered, with a spirit that satisfied the latter of his
capacity to serve him in that respect as well as others. Hanlon,
in truth, was just the person for such a master, and for such an
establishment as he kept. Dick o’ the Grange was not a man who, either
by birth, education, or position in society, could entertain any
pretensions to rank with the gentry of the surrounding country. It is
true he was a magistrate, but then he was a middleman, and as such found
himself an interested agent in the operation of one of the worst and
most cruel systems that ever cursed either the country or the people.
We of course mean that which suffered a third party to stand between
the head landlord, and those who in general occupied the soil. Of this
system, it may be with truth said, that the iniquity lay rather in the
principal on which it rested, than in the individual who administered
it; because it was next to an impossibility that a man anxious to
aggrandize his family--as almost every man is--could, in the exercise of
the habits which enable him to do so, avoid such a pressure upon those
who were under him as amounted to great hardships and injustice. The
system held out so many temptations to iniquity in the management of
land, and in the remuneration of labor, that it required an amount of
personal virtue and self-denial to resist them, that were scarcely to
be expected from any one, so difficult was it to overlook or neglect the
opportunities for oppression and fraud which it thus offered.

Old Dick, although bearing the character of being a violent and
outrageous man, was, however, one of those persons of whom there will
be always somebody found to speak favorably. Hot and ungovernable in
temper, he unquestionably was, and capable of savage and cruel acts;
but at the same time his capricious and unsteady impulses rendered him
uncertain, whether for good or evil; so much so, indeed, that it was
impossible to know when to ask him for a favor; nor was it extraordinary
to find him a friend this day to the man whose avowed enemy he
proclaimed himself yesterday; and this same point of character was
true the other way---for whilst certain that you had him for a friend,
perhaps you found him hard at work to oppress or over-reach you if he
could. The consequence of this peculiarity was that he had a two-fold
reputation in the country. Some were found to abuse him, and others to
mention many acts of generosity and kindness which he had been known to
perform under circumstances where they were least to be expected. This
perhaps was one reason why they made so strong an impression upon the
people, and were so distinctly remembered to his advantage. It is true
he was a violent party man, but then he wanted coolness to adjust his
principles, and thus make them subservient to his private interests. For
this reason, notwithstanding his strong and out-spoken prejudices, it
was a well know fact, that the Roman Catholic population preferred him
as a magistrate to many who were remarkable for a more equal and even
tenor of life, and in whom, under greater plausibility of manner,
there existed something which they would have readily exchanged for his
violent abuse of them and their creed.

Such was Dick o’ the Grange, a man who, as a middleman and a magistrate,
stood out a prominent representative of a class that impressed
themselves strongly upon their times, and who, whether as regards their
position or office, would not find at the present day in the ranks of
any party in Ireland a single man who could come forward and say they
were not an oppressive evil to the country.

Dick o’ the Grange, at this period of our narrative, was far advanced in
years, and had, some time past, begun to feel what is known in men
who have led a hard convivial life, as that breaking down of the
constitution, which is generally the forerunner of dissolution. On
this account he had for some time past resigned the management of his
property altogether to his son, young Dick, who was certainly wild and
unreflecting, but neither so impulsively generous, nor so habitually
violent as his father. The estimate of his character which went abroad
was such as might be expected--many thought him better than the old man.
He was the youngest son and a favorite--two circumstances which probably
occasioned his education to be neglected, as it had been. All his
sisters and brothers having been for some years married and settled in
life, he, and his father, who was a widower, kept a bachelor’s house,
where we regret to say the parental surveillance over his morals was
not so strict as it ought to have been. Young Dick was handsome, and
so exceedingly vain of his person, that any one wishing to gain a favor
either from himself or his worthy sire, had little more to do than
dexterously apply a strong dose of flattery to this his weakest point,
and the favor was sure to be granted, for his influence over old Dick
was boundless.

In this family, then, it was that Hanlon held the situation we have
described--that is, partly a gardener, and partly a steward, and partly
a laboring man. There was a rude and riotous character in and about
Dick’s whole place, which marked it at once as the property of a person
below the character of a gentleman. Abundance there was, and great
wealth; but neither elegance nor neatness marked the house or furniture.
His servants partook of the same equivocal appearance, as did the father
and son, and the “Grange” in general; but, above all and everything in
his establishment, must we place, in originality and importance, Jemmy
Branigan, who, in point of fact, ought to receive credit for the greater
portion of old Dick’s reputation, or at least for all that was good of
it. Jemmy was his old, confidential--enemy--for more than forty years,
during the greater portion of which period it could scarcely be said
with truth that, in Jemmy’s hands, Dick o’ the Grange ought to be looked
to as a responsible person. When we say “enemy,” we know perfectly well
what we mean; for if half a dozen battles between Jemmy and his master
every day during the period above mentioned constituted friendship,
then, indeed, the reader may substitute the word friend, if he pleases.

In fact, Dick and Jemmy had become notorious throughout the whole
country; and we are certain that many of our readers will, at first
glance, recognize these two remarkable individuals. Truly, the
ascendancy which Jemmy had gained over the magistrate, was surprising;
and nothing could be more amusing than the interminable series of
communications, both written and oral, which passed between them, in the
shape of dismissals from service on the one side, and notices to leave
on the other; each of which whether written or oral, was treated by the
party noticed with the most thorough contempt. Nothing was right that
Jemmy disapproved of, and nothing wrong that had his sanction, and this
without any reference whatsoever to the will of his master, who, if he
happened to get into a passion about it, was put down by Jemmy, who
got into a greater passion still; so that, after a long course of
recrimination and Billinsgate on both sides, delivered by Jemmy in an
incomparably louder voice, and with a more consequential manner, old
Dick was finally forced to succumb.

The worthy magistrate and his son were at breakfast next morning, when
young “Master Richard,” as he was called, rung the bell, and Jemmy
attended--for we must add, that Jemmy discharged the duties of butler,
together with any other duty that he himself deemed necessary, and that
without leave asked or given.

“Where’s Hanlon, Jemmy?” he asked.

“Hanlon? troth, it’s little matther where he is, an’ devil a one o’
myself cares.”

“Well, but I care, Jemmy, for I want him. Where is he?”

“He’s gone up to that ould streele’s, that lives in the cabin above
there. I don’t like the same Hanlon; nobody here knows anything about
him, nor he won’t let them know anything about him. He’s as close as
Darby Skinadre, and as deep as a dhraw-well. Altogether, he looks as if
there was a weight on his conscience, for all his lightness an’ fun--an’
if I thought so, I’d discharge him at wanst.”

“And I agree with you for once,” observed his master; “there is some
cursed mystery about him. I don’t like him, either, to say the truth.”

“An’ why don’t you like him?” asked Jemmy, with a contemptuous look.

“I can’t say; but I don’t.”

“No! you can’t? I know you can’t say anything, at all events, that you
ought to say,” replied Jemmy, who, like, his master, would have died
without contradiction; “but I can say why you don’t like him; it’s
bekaise he’s the best sarvint ever was about your place; that’s the
raison you don’t like him. But what do you know about a good sarvint or
a bad one, or anything else that’s useful to you, God help you.”

“If you were near my cane, you old scoundrel, I’d pay you for your
impertinence, ay would I.”

“Ould scoundrel, is it? Oh, hould your tongue; I’m not of your blood,
thank God!--and don’t be fastenin’ your name upon me. Ould scoundrel,
indeed!--Troth, we could spare an odd one now and then out of our own
little establishment.”

“Jemmy, never mind,” said the son, “but tell Hanlon I want to speak to
him in the office after breakfast.”

“If I see him I will, but the devil an inch I’ll go out o’ my way for
it--if I see him I will, an’ if I don’t I won’t. Did you put a fresh
bandage to your leg, to keep in them Pharisee (* Varicose, we presume)
veins o’ yours, as the docthor ordhered you?”

This, in fact, was the usual style of his address to the old magistrate,
when in conversation with him.

“Damn the quack!” replied his master: “no, I didn’t.”

“An’ why didn’t you?”

“You’re beginning this morning,” said the other, losing temper. “You had
better keep quiet, keep your distance, if you’re wise--that’s all.”

“Why didn’t you, I ax,” continued Jemmy, walking up to him, with his
hands in his coat pocket, and looking coolly, but authoritatively in his
face. “I tell you, and if you don’t know how to take care of yourself, I
do, and I will. I’m all that’s left over you now; an’ in spite of all I
can do, it’s a purty account I’d be able to give of you, if I was called
on.”

“This to my face!” exclaimed Dick--“this to my face, you villain!”--and,
as he spoke, the cane was brandished over Jemmy’s head, as if it would
descend every moment.

“Ay,” replied Jemmy, without budging, “ay, indeed--an’ a purty face it
is--a nice face hard drinkin’ an’ a bad life has left you. Ah! do it if
you dare,” he added, as the other swung his staff once or twice, as if
about to lay it down in reality; “troth, if you do, I’ll know how to
act.”

“What would you do, you old cancer--what would you do if I did?”

“Troth, what you’ll force me to do some day. I know you will, for heaven
an’ earth couldn’t stand you; an’ if I do, it’s not me you’ll have to
blame for it. Ah, that same step you’ll drive me to--I see that.”

“What will you do, you old viper, that has been like a blister to me my
whole life--what will you do?”

“Send you about your business,” replied Jemmy, coolly, but with all the
plenitude of authority in his manner; “send you from about the place,
an’ then I’ll have a quiet house. I’ll send you to your youngest
daughter’s or somewhere, or any where, out of this. So now that you know
my determination you had betther keep yourself cool, unless, indeed, you
wish to thravel. Oh, then heaven’s above, but you wor a bitther sight to
me, an’ but it was the unlucky day that ever the divil druv you acrass
me!”

“Dick,” said the father, “as soon as you go into the office, write a
discharge, as bad a one, for that old vagabond, as the English language
can enable you to do--for by the light of heaven, he shan’t sleep
another night under this roof.”

“Shan’t I?--we’ll see that, though. To the divil I pitch yourself an’
your discharge--an’ now mark my words: I’ll be no longer throubled
wid you; you’ve been all my life a torment and a heart-break to me--a
blister of French flies was swan’s down, compared to you, but by the
book, I’ll end it at last--ay, will I--I give you up--I surrendher you
as a bad bargain--I wash my hands of you--This is Tuesday mornin’, God
bless the day and the weather--an’ woeful weather it is--but sure it’s
betther than you desarve, an’ I don’t doubt but it’s you and the likes
o’ you that brings it on us! Ay, this is Tuesday mornin’, an’ I now give
you warnin’ that on Saturday next, you’ll see the last o’ me--an’ don’t
think that this warnin’ is like the rest, or that I’ll relint again,
as I was foolish enough to do often before. No--my mind’s made up--an’
indeed--” here his voice sank to a great calmness and philosophy, like a
man who was above all human passion, and who could consequently talk in
a voice of cool and quiet determination;--“An’ indeed,” he added, “my
conscience was urgin’ me to this for some time past--so that I’m glad
things has taken this turn.”

“I hope you’ll keep your word, then,” said his master, “but before you
go, listen to me.”

“Listen to you--to be sure I will; God forbid I wouldn’t; let there be
nothing at any rate, but civility between us while we’re together. What
is it?”

“You asked me last night to let widow Leary’s cow out o’ pound?”

“Ay, did I!”

“And I swore I wouldn’t.”

“I know you did. Who would doubt that, at any rate?”

“Well, before you leave us, be off now, and let the animal out o’ the
pound.”

“Is that it? Oh, God help you! what’ll you do when you’ll be left to
yourself, as you will be on Saturday next? Let her out, says you. Troth,
the poor woman had her cow safe and sound at home wid her before she
went to bed last night, and her poor childre had her milk to kitchen
their praties, the craythurs. Do you think I’d let her stay in till the
maggot bit you? Oh, ay, indeed! In the mane time, as soon as you are
done breakfast, I want you in the study, to put the bindage on that
ould, good-for-nothin’ leg o’ yours; an’ mark my words, let there be no
shirkin’ now, for on it must go, an’ will, too. If I see that Hanlon,
I’ll tell him you want to see him, Master Richard; an’ now that I’m on
it, I had betther say a word to you before I go; bekaise when I do go,
you’ll have no one to guide you, God help you, or to set you a Christian
patthern. You see that man sittin’ there wid that bad leg, stretched out
upon the chair?”

“I do, Jemmy--ha, ha, ha! Well, what next?”

“That man was the worst patthern ever you had. In the word, don’t folly
his example in anything--in any one single thing, an’ then there may be
some chance o’ you still. I’ll want you by-an’-by in the study, I tould
you.”

These last words were addressed to his master, at whom he looked as
one might be supposed to do at a man whose case, in a moral sense, was
hopeless; after which, having uttered a groan that seemed to imitate
the woeful affliction he was doomed, day by day, to suffer, he left the
room.

It is not our intention, neither is it necessary that we should enter
into the particulars of the interview which Hanlon had that morning with
young Dick. It is merely sufficient to state that they had a private
conversation in the old magistrate’s office, at which the female
whom Hanlon had visited the night before was present. When this was
concluded, Hanlon walked with her a part of the way, evidently holding
serious and interesting discourse touching a subject which we may
presume bore upon the extraordinary proceedings of the previous night.
He closed by giving her directions how to proceed on her journey; for it
seemed that she was unacquainted with the way, being, like himself, but
a stranger in the neighborhood:--“You will go on,” said he, “till you
reach the height at Aughindrummon, from that you will see the trees at
the Rabbit Bank undher you; then keep the road straight till you come to
where it crosses the ford of the river: a little on this side, and where
the road turns to your right, you will find the Grey Stone, an’ jist
opposite that you will see the miserable cabin where the Black Prophet
lives.”

“Why do they call him the Black Prophet?”

“Partly, they tell me, from his appearance, an’ partly bekaise he takes
delight in prophesyin’ evil.”

“But could he have anything to do wid the murdher?”

“I was thinkin’ about that,” he replied, “and had some talk this mornin’
wid a man that’s livin’ a long time--indeed that was born--a little
above the place--and he says that the Black Prophet, or M’Gowan, did not
come to the neighborhood till afther the murdher. I wasn’t myself cool
enough last night to ask his daughter many questions about it; an’ I was
afraid, besides, to appear over-anxious in the business. So now that
you have your instructions in that and the other matthers, you’ll manage
every thing as well as you can.”

Hanlon then returned to the Grange, and the female proceeded on her
mission to the house, if house it could be called, of the Black Prophet,
for the purpose, if possible, of collecting such circumstances as might
tend to throw light upon a dark and mysterious murder.

When Sarah left her father, after having poulticed his face, to go a
kailley, as she said, to a neighbor’s house, she crossed the ford of the
river, and was proceeding in the same directions that had been taken by
Hanlon the preceding night, when she met a strange woman, or rather she
found her standing, apparently waiting for herself, at the Grey Stone.
From the position of the stone, which was a huge one, under one ledge
of which, by the way, there grew a little clump of dwarf elder, it was
impossible that Sarah could pass her, without coming in tolerable close
contact; for the road was an old and narrow one, though perfectly open
and without hedge or ditch on either side of it.

“Maybe you could tell me, young woman, whereabouts here a man lives that
they call Donnel Dhu, or the Black Prophet; his real name is M’Gowan, I
think.”

“I ought to be able to tell you, at any rate,” replied Sarah; “I’m his
daughter.”

The strange woman, on surveying Sarah more closely, looked as if she
never intended to remove her eyes from her countenance and figure.
She seemed for a moment, as it were, to forget every other object in
life--her previous conversation with Hanlon--the message on which she
had been sent--and her anxiety to throw light upon the awful crime that
had been committed at the spot whereon she stood. At length she sighed
deeply, and appeared to recover her presence of mind, and to break
through the abstraction in which she had been wrapped. “You’re his
daughter, you say?”

“Ay, I do say so.”

“Then you know a young man by name Pierce--och, what am I sayin’!--by
name Charley Hanlon?”

“To be sure I do--I’m not ashamed of knowin’ Charles Hanlon.”

“You have a good opinion of him, then?”

“I have a good opinion of him, but not so good as I had thought.”

“Mush a why then, might one ask?”

“I’m afeard he’s a cowardly crathur, and rather unmanly a thrifle. I
like a man to be a man, an’ not to get as white as a sheet, an’ cowld as
a tombstone, bekaise he hears what he thinks to be a groan at night, an’
it may be nothin’ but an owld cow behind a ditch. Ha! ha! ha!”

“An’ where did he hear the groan?”

“Why, here where we’re standin’. Ha! ha! ha! I was thinkin’ of it since,
an’ I did hear somethin’ very like a groan; but what about it? Sich a
night as last night would make any one groan that had a groan in them.”

“You spoke about ditches, but sure there’s no ditches here.”

“Divil a matther--who cares what it was? What did you want wid my
father?”

“It was yourself that I wanted to see.”

“Faix, an’ you’ve seen me, then, an’ the full o’ your eye you tuck out
o’ me. You’ll know me again, I hope.”

“Is your mother livin’?”

“No.”

“How long is she dead, do you know?”

“I do not; I hardly remember anything about her. She died when I was
a young slip--a mere child, I believe. Still,” she proceeded, rather
slowly, musing and putting her beautiful and taper fingers to her
chin--“I think that I do remember--it’s like a dhrame to me though, an’
I dunna but it is one--still it’s like a dhrame to me, that I was wanst
in her arms, that I was cryin’, an’ that she kissed me--that she
kissed me! If she had lived, it’s a different life maybe I’d lead an’ a
different creature I’d be to-day, maybe, but I never had a mother.”

“Did your father marry a second time?”

“He did.”

“Then you have a step-mother?”

“Ay have I.”

“Is she kind to you, an’ do you like her?”

“Middlin’--she’s not so bad--better than I deserve, I doubt; I’m sorry
for what I did to her; but then I have the divil’s temper, an’ have no
guide o’ myself when it comes on me. I know whatever she may be to me,
I’m not the best step-daughter to her.”

The strange female was evidently much struck with the appearance
and singularly artless disposition of Sarah, as well as with her
extraordinary candor; and indeed no wonder; for as this neglected
creature spoke, especially with reference to her mother, her eyes
flashed and softened with an expression of brilliancy and tenderness
that might be said to resemble the sky at night, when the glowing
corruscations of the Aurora Borealis sweep over it like expanses of
lightning, or fade away into those dim but graceful undulations which
fill the mind with a sense of such softness and beauty.

“I don’t know,” observed her companion, sighing and looking at her
affectionately, “how any step-mother could be harsh to you.”

“Ha! ha! ha! don’t you, indeed? Faix, then, if you had me, maybe you
wouldn’t think so--I’m nothin’ but a born divil when the fit’s on me.”

“Charley Hanlon,” proceeded the strange woman, “bid me ax you for the
ould tobaccy-box you promised him last night.”

“Well, but he promised me a handkerchy; have you got it?”

“I have,” replied the other, producing it; “but, then, I’m not to give
it to you, unless you give me the box for it.”

“But I haven’t the box now,” said Sarah, “how-and-ever, I’ll get it for
him.”

“Are you sure that you can an’ will?” inquired the other.

“I had it in my hand yesterday,” she said, “an’ if it’s to be had I’ll
get it.”

“Well, then,” observed the other mildly, “as soon as you get him the
box, he’ll give you this handkerchy, but not till then.”

“Ha!” she exclaimed, kindling, “is that his bargain; does he think I’d
thrick him or cheat him?--hand it here.”

“I can’t,” replied the other; “I’m only to give it to you when I get the
box.”

“Hand it here, I say,” returned Sarah, whose eyes flashed in a moment;
“it’s Peggy Murray’s rag, I suppose--hand it here, I bid you.”

The woman shook her head and replied, “I can’t--not till you get the
box.”

Sarah replied not a word, but sprang at it, and in a minute had it in
her hands.

“I would tear it this minute into ribbons,” she exclaimed, with eyes of
fire and glowing cheeks, “and tramp it undher my feet too; only that I
want it to show her, that I may have the advantage over her.”

There was a sharp, fierce smile of triumph on her features as she spoke;
and altogether her face sparkled with singular animation and beauty.

“God bless me!” said the strange woman, looking at her with a wondering
yet serious expression of countenance; “I wanst knew a face like yours,
an’ a temper the aiquil of it--at any rate, my good girl, you don’t pay
much respect to a stranger. Is your stepmother at home?”

“She is not, but my father is; however, I don’t think he’ll see you now.
My stepmother’s gone to Darby Skinadre, the meal-monger’s.”

“I’m goin’ there.”

“An’ if you see her,” replied the other, “you’ll know her; a score on her
cheek--ha, ha, ha; an’ when you see it, maybe you’ll thank God that I am
not your step-daughter.”

“Isn’t there a family named Sullivan that lives not far from
Skinadre’s?”

“There is; Jerry Sullivan, it’s his daughter that’s the beauty--_Gra
Gal_ Sullivan. Little she knows what’s preparin’ for her!”

“How am I to go to Skinadre’s from this?” asked the woman.

“Up by that road there; any one will tell you as you go along.”

“Thank you, dear,” replied the woman, tenderly; “God bless you; you are
a wild girl, sure enough; but above all things, afore I go, don’t forget
the box for--for--och, for--Charley Hanlon. God bless you, a _colleen
machree_, an’ make you what you ought to be!”

Sarah, during many a long day, had not heard herself addressed in an
accent of kindness or affection; for it would be wrong to bestow upon
the rude attachment which her father entertained for her, or his surly
mode of expressing it, any term that could indicate tenderness, even in
a remote degree. She looked, therefore, at the woman earnestly, and as
she did, her whole manner changed to one of melancholy and kindness. A
soft and benign expression came like the dawn of breaking day over
her features, her voice fell into natural melody and sweetness, and,
approaching her companion, she took her hand and exclaimed--

“May God bless you for them words! it’s many a day since I heard the
voice o’ kindness. I’ll get the box, if it’s to be had, if it was only
for your own sake.”

She then passed on to her neighbor’s house, and the next appearance of
her companion was that in which the reader caught, a glimpse of her in
the house of Darby Skinadre, from which she followed Nelly M’Gowan and
Mave Sullivan with an appearance of such interest.



CHAPTER IX. -- Meeting of Strangers--Mysterious Dialogue.


_Gra Gal_ Sullivan and the prophet’s wife, having left the meal-shop,
proceeded in the direction of Aughamurran, evidently in close, and if
one could judge by their gestures, deeply important conversation. The
strange woman followed them at a distance, meditating, as might be
perceived by her hesitating manner, upon the most seasonable moment of
addressing either one or both, without seeming to interrupt or disturb
their dialogue. Although the actual purport of the topic they discussed
could not be known by a spectator, yet even to an ordinary observer, it
was clear that the elder female uttered something that was calculated to
warn or alarm the younger.

She raised her extended forefinger, looked earnestly into the face
of her companion, then upwards solemnly, and, clasping her hands with
vehemence, appeared to close her assertion by appealing to heaven in
behalf of its truth; the younger looked at her with wonder, seemed
amazed, paused suddenly on her step, raised her hands, and looked as
if about to express terror; but, checking herself, appeared as it were
perplexed by uncertainty and doubt. After this the elder woman seemed
to confide some secret or sorrow to the other, for she began to
weep bitterly, and to wring her hands as if with remorse, whilst her
companion looked like one who had been evidently transformed into an
impersonation of pure and artless sympathy. She caught the rough hand of
the other--and, ere she had proceeded very far in her narrative, a few
tears of compassion stole down her youthful cheek--after which she
began to administer consolation in a manner that was at once simple and
touching. She pressed the hand of the afflicted woman between hers, then
wiped her eyes with her own handkerchief, and soothed her with a
natural softness of manner that breathed at once of true tenderness and
delicacy.

As soon as this affecting scene had been concluded, the strange woman
imperceptibly mended her pace, until her proximity occasioned them to
look at her with that feeling which prompts us to recognize the wish of
a person to address us, as it is often expressed, by an appearance of
mingled anxiety and diffidence, when they approach us. At length Mave
Sullivan spoke--

“Who is that strange woman that is followin’ us, an’ wants to say
something, if one can judge by her looks?”

“Well, I don’t know,” replied Nelly; “but whatsomever it may be, she
wishes to speak to you or me, no doubt of it.”

“She looks like a poor woman,’”* said Mave, “an’ yet she didn’t ask
anything in Skinadre’s, barring a drink of water; but, God pity her if
she’s comin’ to us for relief poor creature! At any rate, she appears to
have care and distress in her face; I’ll spake to her.”

     * A common and compassionate name for a person forced
     to ask alms.

She then beckoned the female to approach them, who did so; but they
could perceive as she advanced, that they had been mistaken in supposing
her to be one of those unhappy beings whom the prevailing famine had
driven to mendicancy. There was visible in her face a feeling of care
and anxiety certainly, but none of that supplicating expression which is
at once recognized as the characteristic of the wretched class to which
they supposed her to belong. This circumstance particularly embarrassed
the inexperienced girl, whose gentle heart at the moment sympathized
with the stranger’s anxieties, whatever they may have been, and she
hesitated a little, when the woman approached, in addressing her. At
length she spoke:

“We wor jist sayin’ to one another,” she observed, “that it looked as if
you wished to spake to either this woman or me.”

“You’re right enough, then,” she replied; “I have something to say to
her, and a single word to yourself, too.”

“An’ what is it you have to say to me?” asked Nelly; “I hope it isn’t to
borrow money from me, bekase if it is, my banker has failed, an’ left me
as poor as a church mouse.”

“Are you in distress, poor woman,” inquired the generous and
kind-hearted girl. “Maybe you’re hungry; it isn’t much we can do for
you; but little as it is, if you come home with me, you’ll come to a
family that won’t scruple to share the little they have now with any one
that’s worse off than themselves.”

“Ay, you may well say ‘now,’” observed the prophet’s wife; “for until
now, it’s they that could always afford it; an’ indeed it was the ready
an’ the willin’ bit was ever at your father’s table.”

The stranger looked upon the serene and beautiful features of Mave with
a long gaze of interest and admiration; after which she added, with a
sigh:

“And you, I believe, are the girl they talk so much about for the fair
face and good heart? Little pinetration it takes to see that you have
both, my sweet girl. If I don’t mistake, your name is Mave Sullivan, or
_Gra Gal_, as the people mostly call you.”

Mave, whose natural delicacy was tender and pure as the dew-drop of
morning, on hearing her praises thus uttered by the lips of a stranger,
blushed so deeply, that her whole neck and face became suffused with
that delicious crimson of modesty which, alas! is now of such rare
occurrence among the sex, unconscious that, in doing so, she was adding
fresh testimony to the impressions which had gone so generally abroad
of her extraordinary beauty, and the many unostentatious virtues which
adorned her humble life.

“Mave Sullivan is my name,” she replied, smiling through her blushes:
“as to the nickname, the people will call one what they like, no matther
whether it’s right or wrong.”

“The people’s seldom wrong, then, in givin’ names o’ the kind,” returned
the stranger; “but in your case, they’re right at all events, as any
one may know that looks upon you: that sweet face an’ them fair looks is
seldom if ever found with a bad heart. May God guard you, my purty and
innocent girl, an’ keep you safe from all evil, I pray his holy name.”

The prophet’s wife and Mave exchanged looks as the woman spoke: and the
latter said:

“I hope you don’t think there’s any evil before me.”

“Who is there,” replied the stranger, “that can say there’s not? Sure
it’s before us and about us every hour in the day; but in your case,
darlin’, I jist say, be on your guard, an’ don’t trust or put belief in
any one that you don’t know well. That’s all I can say, an’ indeed all I
know.”

“I feel thankful to you,” replied Mave; “and now that you wish me well,
(for I’m sure you do,) maybe you’d grant me a favor?”

“If it is widin the bounds of my power, I’ll do it,” returned the other;
“but it’s little I can do, God help me.”

“Nelly,” said Mave, “will you go on to the cross-roads there, an’ I’ll
be with you in a minute.”

The cross-roads alluded to were only a couple of hundred yards before
them. The prophet’s wife proceeded, and Mave renewed the conversation.

“What I want you to do for me is this--that is if you can do it--maybe
you could bring a couple of stones of meal to a family of the name
of--of--” here she blushed again, and her confusion became so evident
that she felt it impossible to proceed until she had recovered in some
degree her composure. “Only two or three years agone,” she continued,
“they were the daicentest farmers in the parish; but the world went
against them as it has of late a’most against every one, owing to the
fall of prices, and now they’re out of their farm, very much reduced,
and there’s sickness amongst them, as well as want. They’ve been
living,” she proceeded, wiping away the tears which were now fast
flowing, “in a kind of cabin or little cottage not far from the fine
house an’ place that was not long ago their own. Their name,” she added,
after a pause in which it was quite evident that she struggled strongly
with her feelings, “is--is--Dal-ton.”

“O was the young fellow one of them,” asked the woman, “that was so
outrageous awhile ago in the miser’s? I think I heard the name given to
him.”

“Oh, I have nothing to say for him,” replied Mave; “he was always wild,
but they say never bad-hearted; it’s the rest of the family I’m thinking
about--and even that young man isn’t more than three or four days up out
o’ the fever. What I want you to do is to bring the male I’m spakin’ of
to that family; any one will show you their little place; an’ to leave
it there about dusk this evenin’, so that no one will ever know that you
do it; an’ as you love God an’ hope for mercy, don’t breathe my name in
the business at all.”

“I will do it for you,” replied the other; “but in the meantime where am
I to get the meal?”

“Why, at the miser’s,” replied Mave; “and when you go there, tell him
that the person who told him they wouldn’t forget it to him, sent you
for it, an’ you’ll get it.”

“God forbid I refused you that much,” said the stranger; “an’ although
it’ll keep me out longer than I expected, still I’ll manage it for you,
an’ come or go what will, widout mentioning your name.”

“God bless you for that,” said Mave, “an grant that you may never be
brought to the same hard pass that they’re in, and keep you from ever
having a heavy or a sorrowful heart.”

“Ah, _acushla oge_,” replied the woman with a profound sigh, “that
prayer’s too late for me; anything else than a heavy and sorrowful heart
I’ve seldom had: for the last twenty years and upwards little but care
and sorrow has been upon me.

“Indeed, one might easily guess as much,” said Mave, “you have a look of
heart-break and sorrow, sure enough. But answer me this: how do you know
that there’s evil before me or, about me?’

“I don’t know much about it,” returned the other; “but I’m afeard
there’s something to your disadvantage planned or plannin’ against you.
When I seen you awhile ago I didn’t know you till I heard your name;
I’m a stranger here, not two weeks in the neighborhood, and know hardly
anybody in it.”

“Well,” observed Mave, who had fallen back upon her own position, and
the danger alluded to by the stranger, “I’ll do nothing that’s wrong
myself, and if there’s danger about me, as I hear there is, it’s a good
thing to know that God can guard me in spite of all that any one can do
against me.”

“Let that be your principle, ahagur--sooner or latter the hand o’ God
can and will make everything clear, and after all, dear, he is the best
protection, blessed be his name!”

They had now reached the cross-roads already spoken of, where the
prophet’s wife again joined them for a short time, previous to her
separation from Mave, whose way from that point lay in a direction
opposite to theirs.

“This woman,” said Mave, “wishes to go to Condy Dalton’s in the course
of the evening, and you, Nelly, can show her from the road the poor
place they now live in, God help them.”

“To be sure,” replied the other, “an’ the house where they did live when
they wor as themselves, full, an’ warm, an’ daicent; an’ it is a hard
case on them, God knows, to be turned out like beggars from a farm that
they spent hundreds on, and to be forced to see the landlord, ould Dick
o’ the Grange, now settin’ it at a higher rent and putting into his
own pocket the money they had laid out upon improvin’ it an’ makin’ it
valuable for him and his; troth, it’s open robbery an’ nothin’ else.”

“It in a hard case upon them, as every body allows,” said Mave, “but
it’s over now, and can’t be helped. Good-bye, Nelly, an’ God bless you;
an’ God bless you too,” she added, addressing the strange woman, whose
hand she shook and pressed. “You are a great deal oulder than I am,
an’ as I said, every one may read care an’ sorrow upon your face. Mine
doesn’t show it yet, I know, but for all that the heart within me is
full of both, an’ no likelihood of its ever bein’ otherwise with me.”

As she spoke, the tears again gushed down her cheeks; but she checked
her grief by an effort, and after a second hurried good-bye, she
proceeded on her way home.

“That seems a mild girl,” said the strange woman, “as she is a lovely
creature to look at.”

“She’s better than she looks,” returned the prophet’s wife, “an’ that’s
a great deal to say for her.”

“That’s but truth,” replied the stranger, “and I believe it; for indeed
she has goodness in her face.”

“She has and in her heart,” replied Nelly; “no wondher, indeed, that
every one calls her the _Gra Gal_, for it’s she that well deserves it. I
You are bound for Condy Dalton’s, then?” she added, inquiringly. “I
am,” said the other. “I think you must be a stranger in the country,
otherwise I’d know your face,” continued Nelly--“but maybe you’re a
relation of theirs.”

“I am a stranger,” said the other; “but no relation.”

“The Daltons,” proceeded Nelly, “are daicent people,--but hot and hasty,
as the savin’ is. It’s the blow before the word wid them always.”

“Ah, tut they say,” returned her companion, “that a hasty heart was
never a bad one.”

“Many a piece o’ nonsense they say as well as that,” rejoined Nelly; “I
know them that ‘ud put a knife into your heart hastily enough--ay,
an’ give you a hasty death, into the bargain. They’ll first break
your head--cut you to the skull, and then, indeed, they’ll give you a
plaisther. That was ever an’ always the carrecther of the same Daltons;
an’, if all accounts be thrue, the hand of God is upon them, an’ will be
upon them till the bloody deed is brought to light.”

“How is that?” inquired the other, with intense interest, whilst her
eyes became riveted upon Nelly’s hard features.

“Why, a murdher that was committed betther than twenty years ago in this
neighborhood.”

“A murdher!” exclaimed the stranger. “Where?--when?--how?”

“I can tell you where, an’ I can tell you when,” replied Nelly; “but
there I must stop--for unless I was at the committin’ of it, you might
know very well I couldn’t tell you how.”

“Where then?” she asked, and whilst she did so, it was by a considerable
effort that she struggled to prevent her agitation from being noticed by
the prophet’s wife.

“Why, near the Grey Stone at the crossroads of Mallybenagh--that’s the
where!”

“An’ now for the when?” asked the stranger, who almost panted with
anxiety as she spoke.

“Let me see,” replied Nelly, “fourteen and six makes twenty, an’ two
before that or nearly--I mane the year of the rebellion, Why it’s not
all out two-and-twenty years, I think.”

“Aisey,” said the other, “I’m but very weak an’ feeble--will you jist
wait till I rest a minute upon this green bank by the road.”

“What ails you?” asked Nelly. “You look as if you got suddenly ill.”

“I did get a little--but it’ll soon pass away,” she answered--“thrue
enough,” she added in a low voice, and as if in a soliloquy; “God is a
just Judge--he is--he is! Well, but--oh, I’ll soon get better--well, but
listen, what became of the murdhered man?--was the body ever got?”

“Nobody knows that--the body was never got--that is to say nobody knows
where it’s now lyin’, snug enough too.”

“Ha!” thought the stranger, eying her furtively--“snug enough!--there’s
more knowledge where that came from. What do you mane by snug enough?”
 she asked abruptly.

“Mane!” replied the other, who at once perceived the force of the
unguarded expression she had used;--“mane, why what could I mane, but
that whoever did the deed, hid the body where very few would be likely
to find it.”

Her companion now stood up, and approaching the prophet’s wife, raised
her hand, and said in a tone that was both startling and emphatic--

“I met you this day as you may think, by accident; but take my word for
it, and, as sure as we must both account for our acts, it was the hand
o’ God that brought us together. I now look into your face, and I tell
you that I see guilt and throuble there--ay, an’ the dark work of a
conscience that’s gnawin’ your heart both night and day.”

Whilst speaking, she held her face within about a foot of Nelly’s, into
which she looked with an expression so searching and dreadful in its
penetration, that the other shrunk back, and felt for a moment as if
subdued by a superior spirit. It was, however, only for a moment; the
sense of her subjection passed away, and she resumed that hard and
imperturbable manner, for which she had been all her life so remarkable,
unless, like Etna and Vesuvius, she burst out of this seeming coldness
into fire and passion. There, however, they stood looking sternly into
each others’ faces, as if each felt anxious that the other should quail
before her gaze--the stranger, in order that her impressions might be
confirmed, and the prophet’s wife, that she should, by the force of her
strong will, fling off those traces of inquietude which she knew very
well were often too legible in her countenance.

“You are wrong,” said Nelly, “an’ have only mistaken my face for a
lookin’-glass. It was your own you saw, all it was your own you wor
spaking of--for if ever I saw a face that publishes an ill-spent life on
the part of its owner, yours is it.”

“Care an’ sorrow I have had,” replied the other, “an’ the sin that
causes sorrow, I grant; but there’s somethin’ that’s weighin’ down your
heart, an’ that won’t let you rest until you give it up. You needn’t
deny it, for you can’t hide it--hard your eye is, but it’s not clear,
and I see that it quivers, and is unaisy before mine.”

“I said you’re mistaken,” replied the other; “but even supposin’ you wor
not, how is it your business whether my mind is aisy or not? You won’t
have my sins to answer for.”

“I know that,” said the stranger; “and God sees my own account will be
too long and too heavy, I doubt. I now beg of you, as you hope to meet
judgment, to think of what I said. Look into your own heart, and it will
tell you whether I am right or whether I am wrong. Consult your husband,
and if he has any insight at all into futurity, he must tell you that,
unless you clear your conscience, you’ll have a hard death-bed of it.”

“You’re goin’ to Condy Dalton’s,” replied Nelly, with much coolness, but
whether assumed or not it is difficult to say; “look into his face, and
try what you can find there. At any rate, report has it that there’s
blood upon his hand, an’ that the downfall of himself and his family is
only the vengeance of God, an’ the curse of murdher that’s pursuin’ him
and them.”

“Why,” inquired the other, eagerly, “was he accused of it?”

“Ay, an’ taken up for it; but bekaise the body wasn’t found, they could
do nothing to him.”

“May Heaven assist me!” exclaimed the stranger, “but this day
is----however, God’s will be done, as it will be done! Are you goin’?”

“I’m goin’,” replied Nelly; “by crossin’ the fields here, I’ll save
a great deal of ground; and when you get as far as the broken bridge,
you’ll see a large farm-house widout any smoke from it; about a quarter
of a mile or less beyant that you’ll find the house you’re lookin’
for--the house where Condy Dalton lives.”

Having thus directed the stranger, the prophet’s wife entered a gap that
led into a field, and proceeded on her way homewards, having, ere
she parted, glanced at her with a meaning which rendered it extremely
difficult to say whether the singular language addressed to her had left
behind it any such impression as the speaker wished to produce. Their
glances met and dwelt on each other for a short time: the strange
woman pointed solemnly towards the sky, and the prophet’s wife smiled
carelessly; but yet, by a very keen eye, it might have been noticed
that, under this natural or affected indifference, there lurked a blank
or rather an unquiet expression, such as might intimate that something
within her had been moved by the observations of her strange companion.



CHAPTER X. -- The Black Prophet makes a Disclosure.


The latter proceeded on her way home, having marked the miserable hovel
of Condy Dalton. At present our readers will accompany us once more to
the cabin of Donnel Dhu, the prophet.

His wife, as the reader knows, had been startled into something like
remorse, by the incidents which had occurred within the last two days,
and especially by the double discovery of the dead body and the Tobacco
box. Sarah, her step-daughter, was now grown, and she very reasonably
concluded, her residence in the same house with this fiery and violent
young female was next to an impossibility.--The woman herself was
naturally coarse and ignorant; but still there was mixed, up in her
character a kind of apathetic or indolent feeling of rectitude or
vague humanity, which rendered her liable to occasional visitations of
compunction for whatever she did that was wrong. The strongest principle
in her, however, was one which is frequently to be found among her
class--I mean such a lingering impression of religious feeling as is
not sufficiently strong to prevent the commission of crime, but yet
is capable by its influence to keep the conscience restless and uneasy
under its convictions. Whether to class this feeling with weakness or
with virtue, is indeed difficult; but to whichsoever of them it may
belong, of one thing we are certain, that many a mind, rude and hardened
by guilt, is weak or virtuous only on this single point. Persons so
constituted are always remarkable for feelings of strong superstition,
and are easily influenced by the occurrence of slight incidents, to
which they are certain to attribute a peculiar significance, especially
when connected with anything that may occasion them uneasiness for the
time, or which may happen to occupy their thoughts, or affect their own
welfare or interests.

The reader need not be surprised, therefore, on learning that this
woman, with all her apathy of character on the general matters of life,
was accessible to the feeling or principle we have just described, nor
that the conversation she had just had with the strange woman, both
disturbed and alarmed her.

On returning, she found her husband and step-daughter both at home; the
latter hacking up some white thorn wood with an old hatchet, for the
fire, and the other sitting with his head bent gloomily upon his hand,
as if ruminating upon the vicissitudes of a troubled or ill-spent life.

Having deposited her burthen, she sat down, and drawing a long breath,
wiped her face with the corner of a blue praskeen which she always wore,
and this she did with a serious and stern face, intimating, as it were,
that her mind was engaged upon matters of deep interest, whatever they
might have been.

“What’s that you’re doin’?” she inquired of Sarah, in a grave, sharp
voice.

“Have you no eyes?” replied the other; “don’t you see what I am doin’?”

“Where did you get them white thorns that you’re cuttin’ up?”

“Where did I get them, is it?”

“Ay; I said so.”

“Why, where they grew--ha, ha, ha! There’s information for you.”

“Oh, God help you! how do you expect to get through life at all?”

“Why, as well as I can--although not, maybe, as well as I wish.”

“Where did you cut them thorns, I ax?”

“An’ I tould you; but since that won’t satisfy you, I cut them on the
_Rath_ above there.”

“Heaven presarve us, you hardened jade, have you no fear of anything
about you?”

“Divil a much that I know of, sure enough.”

“Didn’t you know that them thorns belongs to the fairies, and that some
evil will betide any one that touches or injures a single branch o’
them.”

“Divil a single branch I injured,” replied Sarah, laughing; “I cut down
the whole tree at wanst.”

“My sowl to glory, if I think its safe to live in the house wid you, you
hardened divil.”

“Troth, I think you may well say so, afther yesterday’s escape,”
 returned Sarah; “an’ I have no objection that you should go to glory,
body an’ soul; an’ a purty piece o goods will be in glory when you’re
there--ha, ha, ha!”

“Throw out them thorns, I bid you.”

“Why so? Don’t we want them for the fire?”

“No matther for that; we don’t want to bring ‘the good people’--this
day’s Thursday, the Lord stand between us an’ harm--amin!--about our
ears. Out wid them.”

“No, the sorra branch.”

“Out wid them, I say, Are you afeard of neither God nor the divil?”

“Not overburdened with much fear of either o’ them,” replied the daring
young creature.

“Aren’t you afeard o’ the good people, then?”

“If they’re good people, why should we be afeard o’ them? No, I’m not.”

“Put the thorns out, I bid you again.”

“Divil a chip, mother dear; if your own evil conscience or your dirty
cowardice makes you afeard o’ the fairies, don’t think I am. I don’t
care that about them. These same thorns must boil the dinner in spite
of all the fairies in Europe; so don’t fret either yourself or me on the
head o’ them.”

“Oh, I see what’s to come! There’s a doom over this house, that’s all,
an’ over some, if not all o’ them that’s in it. Everything’s leadin’ to
it; an’ come it will.”

“Why, mother, dear, at this rate you’ll leave my father nothin’ to say.
You’re keepin’ all the black prophecies to yourself. Why don’t you rise
up, man alive,” she added, turning to him, “and let her hear how much
of the divil’s lingo you can give?--It’s hard, if you can’t prophesy as
much evil as she can. Shake yourself, ruffle your feathers, or clap your
wings three times, in the divil’s name, an’ tell her she’ll be hanged;
or, if you wish to soften it, say she’ll go to Heaven in a string. Ha,
ha, ha!”

At this moment, a poor, famine-struck looking woman, with three or four
children, the very pictures of starvation and misery, came to the door,
and, in that voice of terrible destitution, which rings feeble and
hollow from an empty and exhausted frame, she implored them for some
food.

“We haven’t it for you, honest woman,” said Nelly, in her cold,
indifferent voice--“it’s not for you now.”

The hope of relief was nearly destroyed by the unfeeling tones of the
voice in which she was answered. She looked, however, at her famishing
children, and once more returned to the door, after having gone a few
steps from it.

“Oh, what will become of these?” she added, pointing to the children. “I
don’t care about myself--I think my cares will soon be over.”

“Go to the divil out o’ that!” shouted the prophet--“don’t be tormentin’
us wid yourself and your brats.”

“Didn’t you hear already,” repeated his wife, “that you got your answer?
We’re poor ourselves, and we can’t help every one that comes to us. It’s
not for you now.”

“Don’t you hear that there’s nothing for you?” again cried the prophet,
in an angry voice; “yet you’ll be botherin’ us!”

“Indeed, we haven’t it, good woman,” repeated Nelly; “so take your
answer.”

“Don’t you know that’s a lie?” said Sarah, addressing her step-mother.
“You have it, if you wish to give it.”

“What’s a lie?” said her father, starting, for he had again relapsed into
his moodiness. “What’s a lie?--who--who’s a liar?”

“You are!” she replied, looking him coolly and contemptuously in the
face; “you tell the poor woman that there’s nothing for her. Don’t you
know that’s a lie? It may be very well to tell a lie to them that can
bear it--to a rich bodagh, or his proud lady of a wife--although it’s a
mean thing even to them; but to tell a lie to that heartbroken woman
and her poor childhre--her childhre--aren’t they her own?--an’ who would
spake for them if she wouldn’t. If every one treated the poor that way,
what would become of them? Ay, to look in her face, where there’s want
an’ hunger, and answer distress wid a lie--it’s cruel--cruel!”

“What a kind-hearted creature she is,” said her step-mother, looking
towards her father--“isn’t she?”

“Come here, poor woman,” said Sarah, calling her back; “it is for
you. If these two choose to let you and your childhre die or starve, I
won’t;” and she went to the meal to serve them as she spoke.

The woman returned, and looked with considerable surprise at her; but
Nelly went also to the meal, and was about to interpose, when Sarah’s
frame became excited, and her eyes flashed, as they always did when in a
state of passion.

“If you’re wise, don’t prevent me,” she said. “Help these creatures I
will. I’m your match now, an’ more than your match, thank God; so be
quiet.”

“If I was to die for it, you won’t have your will now, then,” said
Nelly.

“Die when you like, then,” replied Sarah; “but help that poor woman an’
her childhre I will.”

“Fight it out,” said Donnel Dhu, “its a nice quarrel, although Sal has
the right on her side.”

“If you prevent me,” said she, disregarding her step-mother, “you’ll
rue it quickly; or hould--I’m beginnin’ to hate this kind of
quarrellin’--here, let her have as much meal as will make my supper;
I’ll do without any for the sake of the childhre, this night.”

This was uttered in a tone of voice more mitigated, but at the same
time so resolute, that Nelly stepped back and left her to pursue her own
course.

She then took a wooden trencher, and with a liberal hand assisted the
poor creatures, who began to feel alarmed at the altercation which their
distress had occasioned in the family.

“You’re starvin’, childre,” said she, whilst emptying the meal into the
poor woman’s bag.

“May the blessin’ of God rest upon you,” whispered the woman, “you’ve
saved my orphans;” and, as she uttered the words, her hollow eyes
filled, and a few tears ran slowly down her cheeks.

Sarah gave a short, loud laugh, and snatching up the youngest of the
children, stroked its head and patted its cheek, exclaiming--

“Poor thing; you won’t go without your supper this night, at any rate.”

She then laughed again in the same quick, abrupt manner, and returned
into the house.

“Why, then,” said her step-mother, looking at her with mingled anger
and disdain, “is it tears you’re sheddin’--cryin’, no less! Afther that,
maricles will never cease.”

Sarah turned towards her hastily; the tears, in a moment, were dried
upon her cheeks, and as she looked at her hard, coarse, but well-shaped
features, her eyes shone with a brilliant and steady light for more than
a minute. The expression was at once; lofty and full of strong contempt,
and, as she stood in this singular but striking mood, it would indeed be
difficult to conceive a finer type of energy, feeling, and beauty,
than that which was embodied in her finely-turned and exquisite figure.
Having thus contemplated the old woman for some time, she looked upon
the ground, and her face passed rapidly into a new form and expression
of beauty. It at once became soft and full of melancholy, and might have
been mistaken for an impersonation of pity and sorrow.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed, in a low voice, that was melody itself;
“I never got it from either the one or the other--the kind or soft
word--an’ it’s surely no wondher that I am as I am.”

And as she spoke she wept. Her heart had been touched by the distress of
her fellow creatures, and became, as it were, purified and made tender
by its own sympathies, and she wept. Both of them looked at her; but as
they were utterly incapable of understanding what she felt, this natural
struggle of a great but neglected spirit excited nothing on their part
but mere indifference.

At this moment, the prophet, who seemed laboring under a fierce but
gloomy mood, rose suddenly up, and exclaimed--

“Nelly--Sarah!--I can bear this, no longer; the saicret must come out. I
am--”

“Stop,” screamed Sarah, “don’t say it--don’t say it! Let me leave the
counthry. Let me go somewhere--any where--let me--let me--die first.”

“I am----,” said he.

“I know it,” replied his wife; “a murdherer! I know it now--I knew it
since yesterday mornin’.”

“Give him justice,” said Sarah, now dreadfully excited, and seizing
him by the breast of his coat,--“give him common justice--give the man
justice, I say. You are my father, aren’t you? Say how you did it. It
was a struggle--a fight; he opposed you--he did, and your blood riz, and
you stabbed him for fear he might stab you. That was it. Ha! ha! I know
it was, for you are my father, and I am your daughter; and that’s what I
would do like a man. But you never did it--ah! you never did it in cowld
blood, or like a coward.”

There was something absolutely impressive and commanding in her
sparkling eyes, and the energetic tones of her voice, whilst she
addressed him.

“Donnel,” said the wife, “it’s no saicret to me; but it’s enough now
that you’ve owned it. This is the last night that I’ll spend with a
murdherer. You know what I’ve to answer for on my own account; and so,
in the name of God, we’ll part in the mornin’.”

“Ha!” exclaimed Sarah, “you’d leave him now, would you? You’d desart him
now; now that all the world will turn against him; now that every tongue
will abuse him; that every heart will curse him; that every eye will
turn away from him with hatred; now that shame, an’ disgrace, an’ guilt
is all upon his head; you’d leave him, would you, and join the world
against him? Father, on my knees I go to you;” and she dropped down as
she spoke; “here on my knees I go to you, an’ before you spake, mark,
that through shame an’ pain, an’ sufferin’, an’ death, I’ll stay by you,
an’ with you. But, I now kneel to you--what I hardly ever did to God--an
for his sake, for God’s sake, I ask you; oh say, say that you did not
kill the man in cowld blood; that’s all! Make me sure of that, and I’m
happy.”

“I think you’re both mad,” replied Donnel. “Did I say that I was a
murdherer? Why didn’t you hear me out?”

“You needn’t,” returned Nelly; “I knew it since yestherday mornin’.”

“So you think,” he replied, “an’ it’s but nathural you should, I was
at the place this day, and seen where you dug the _Casharrawan_. I have
been strugglin’ for years to keep this saicret, an’ now it must come
out; but I’m not a murdherer.”

“What saicret, father, if you’re not a murdherer?” asked Sarah; “what
saicret; but there is not murder on you; do you say that?”

“I do say it; there’s neither blood nor murdher on my head! but I know
who the murdherer is, an’ I can keep the saicret no longer!”

Sarah laughed, and her eyes sparkled up with singular vividness.
“That’ll do,” she exclaimed; “that’ll do; all’s right now; you’re not
a murdherer, you killed no man, aither in cowld blood or otherwise; ha!
ha! you’re a good father; you’re a good father; I forgive you all now,
all you ever did.”

Nelly stood contemplating her husband with a serious, firm, but
dissatisfied look; her chin was supported upon her forefinger and thumb;
and instead of seeming relieved by the disclosure she had just heard,
which exonerated him from the charge of blood, she still kept her eyes
riveted upon him with a stern and incredulous aspect.

“Spake out, then,” she observed coolly, “an’ tell us all, for I am not
convinced.”

Sarah looked as if she would have sprang at her.

“You are not convinced,” she exclaimed; “you are not convinced! Do you
think he’d tell a lie on such a subject as this?” But no sooner had
she uttered the words than she started as if seized by a spasm. “Ah,
father,” she exclaimed, “it’s now your want of truth comes against you;
but still, still I believe you.”

“Tell us all about it,” said Nelly, coldly; “let us hear all.”

“But you both promise solemnly, in the sight of God, never to breathe
this to a human being till I give yez lave.”

“We do; we do,” replied Sarah; “in the sight of God, we do.”

“You don’t spake,” said he, addressing Nelly.

“I promise it.”

“In the sight of God?” he added, “for I know you.”

“Ay.” said she, “in the sight of God, since you must have it so.”

“Well, then,” said he, “the common report is right; the man that
murdhered him is Condy Dalton. I have kept it in till I can bear it no
longer. It’s my intention to go to a magistrate’s as soon as my face
gets well. For near two-and-twenty years, now, this saicret is lyin’
hard upon me; but I’ll aise my mind, and let justice take it’s coorse.
Bad I have been, but never so bad as to take my fellow-crature’s life.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear it,” said his wife; “an’ now I can undherstand
you.”

“And I’m both glad and sorry,” exclaimed Sarah; “sorry for the sake of
the Daltons. Oh! who would suppose it! and what will become of them?”

“I have no peace,” her father added; “I have not had a minute’s peace
ever since it happened; for sure, they say, any one that keeps their
knowledge of murdher saicret and won’t tell it, is as bad as the
murdherer himself. There’s another thing I have to mention,” he added,
after a pause; “but I’ll wait for a day or two; it’s a thing I lost,
an’, as the case stands now, I can do nothing widout it.”

“What is it, father?” asked Sarah, with animation; “let us know what it
is.”

“Time enough yet,” he replied; “it’ll do in a day or two; in the mean
time it’s hard to tell but it may turn up somewhere or other; I hope it
may; for if it get into any hands but my own--”

He paused and bent his eyes with singular scrutiny first upon Sarah, who
had not the most distant appreciation of his meaning. Not so Nelly, who
felt convinced that the allusion he made was to the Tobacco-box, and her
impression being that it was mixed up in some way with an act of murder,
she determined to wait until he should explain himself at greater length
upon the subject. Had Sarah been aware of its importance, she would have
at once disclosed all she knew concerning it, together with Hanlon’s
anxiety to get it into his possession. But of this she could know
nothing, and for that reason there existed no association, in her mind,
to connect it with the crime which the Prophet seemed resolved to bring
to light.

When Donnel Dhu laid himself down upon the bed that day, he felt that by
no effort could he shake a strong impression of evil from off him. The
disappearance of the Box surprised him so much, that he resolved
to stroll out and examine a spot with which the reader is already
acquainted. On inspecting the newly-disturbed earth, he felt satisfied
that the body had been discovered, and this circumstance, joined with
the disappearance of the Tobacco-box, precipitated his determination to
act as he was about to do; or, perhaps altogether suggested the notion
of taking such steps as might bring Condy Dalton to justice. At present
it is difficult to say why he did not allude to the missing Box openly,
but perhaps that may be accounted for at a future and more appropriate
stage of our narrative.



CHAPTER XI. -- Pity and Remorse.


The public mind, though often obtuse and stupid in many matters, is
in others sometimes extremely acute and penetrating. For some years
previous to the time laid in our tale, the family of Condy Dalton began
to decline very perceptibly in their circumstances. There had been
unpropitious seasons; there had been failure of crops and disease
among the cattle--and, perhaps what was the worst scourge of all, there
existed a bad landlord in the person of Dick-o’-the-Grange. So long,
however, as they continued prosperous, their known principles of
integrity and strict truth caused them to be well spoken of and
respected, in spite of the imputation which had been made against them
as touching the murder of Sullivan. In the course of time, however, when
the evidences of struggle succeeded those of comfort and independence,
the world began to perceive the just judgments of God as manifested in
the disasters which befel them, and which seemed to visit them as with
a judicial punishment. Year after year, as they sank in the scale of
poverty, did the almost forgotten murder assume a more prominent and
distinct shape in the public mind, until at length it became too certain
to be doubted, that the slow but sure finger of God’s justice was laid
upon them as an additional proof that crime, however it may escape the
laws of men, cannot veil itself from the all-seeing eye of the Almighty.

There was, however, an individual member of the family, whose piety and
many virtues excited a sympathy in her behalf, as general as it was deep
and compassionate. This was Mrs. Dalton, towards whom only one universal
impression of good-will, affection, and respect prevailed. Indeed, it
might be said that the whole family were popular in the country;
but, notwithstanding their respectability, both individually and
collectively, the shadow of crime was upon them; and as long as the
people saw that everything they put their hand to failed, and that a
curse seemed to pursue them, as if in attestation of the hidden murder,
so long did the feeling that God would yet vindicate His justice by
their more signal punishment, operate with dreadful force against them,
with the single exception we have mentioned.

Mrs. Dalton, on her return home from her unsuccessful visit to the
miser’s, found her family in the same state of grievous privation in
which she had left them. ‘Tis true she had not mentioned to any of them
her intention of appealing to the gratitude or humanity of Skinadre; yet
they knew, by an intuitive perception of her purpose, that she had gone
to him, and although their pride would not allow them to ask a
favor directly from him, yet they felt pleased that she had made the
experiment, and had little doubt that the miser, by obliging her in
the request she went to prefer, would gladly avail himself of the
circumstance to regain their good will, not so much on their own
account, as for the sake of standing well in the world, in whose opinion
he knew he had suffered by his treachery towards them in the matter of
their farm. She found her husband seated in an old arm-chair, which,
having been an heir-loom in the family for many a long year, had, with
one or two other things, been purchased in at the sheriff’s sale.
There was that chair, which had come down to them from three or four
generations; an old clock, some smaller matters, and a grey sheep, the
pet of a favorite daughter, who had been taken away from them by decline
during the preceding autumn. There are objects, otherwise of little
value, to which we cling for the sake of those unforgotten affections,
and old mournful associations that invest indifferent things with a
feeling of holiness and sorrow by which they are made sacred to the
heart.

Condy Dalton was a man tolerably well stricken in years; his face was
pale, but not unhealthy looking; and his hair, which rather flowed about
his shoulders, was almost snow white--a circumstance which, in this
case, was not attributed to the natural progress of years, but to that
cankered remorse which turns the head grey before its time. Their family
now consisted of two sons and two daughters, the original number having
been two sons and three daughters--one of the latter having fallen a
victim to decline, as we have already stated. The old man was sitting in
the arm-chair, in which he leant back, having his chin at the same time
on his breast, a position which gave something very peculiar to his
appearance.

As Mrs. Dalton had occupied a good deal of time in unsuccessfully
seeking for relief from other sources, it is unnecessary to say that the
day had now considerably advanced, and the heavy shadows of this dismal
and unhealthy evening had thrown their gloom over the aspect of all
nature, to which they gave an appearance of desolation that was in
painful keeping with the sickness and famine that so mercilessly
scourged the kingdom at large. A pot of water hung upon a dark slow
fire, in order that as little time as possible might be lost in
relieving their physical wants, on Mrs. Dalton’s return with the relief
which they expected.

“Here’s my mother,” said one of her daughters, looking with a pale cheek
and languid eye out of the door; for she, too, had been visited by
the prevailing illness; “an’, my God! she’s comin’ as she went--empty
handed!”

The other sister and Con, her brother, went also to look out, and there
she was, certainly without relief.

“She isn’t able to carry it herself,” said their father; “or maybe she’s
comin’ to get one of you--Con, I suppose--to go for it. Bad as Skinadre
is, he wouldn’t have the heart to refuse us a lock o’ meal to keep the
life in us. Oh! no, he’d not do that.”

In a few moments Mrs. Dalton entered, and after looking upon the scene
of misery about her, she sat down and burst into tears. “Mother,” said
the daughter, “there’s no relief, then? You came as you went, I see.”

“I came as I went, Nanty; but there is relief. There’s relief for the
poor of this world in Heaven; but on this earth, an’ in this world,
there is none for us--glory be to the name of God, still.”

“So Skinadre refused, then?” said her husband; “he wouldn’t give the
meal?”

“No,” she replied, “he would not; but the truth is, our woful’ state
is now so well known, that nobody will trust us; they know there’s no
chance of ever bein’ paid, an’ they all say they can’t afford it.”

“I’m not surprised at what Tom says,” observed our friend, young Con,
“that the meal-mongers and strong farmers that keep the provisions up
on the poor desarves to be smashed and tramped under foot; an’ indeed
they’ll get it, too, before long, for the people can’t stand this,
especially when one knows that there’s enough, ay, and more than enough,
in the country.”

“If had tobacco,” said the old man, “I didn’t care--that would keep
the hunger off o’ me; but it’s poor Mary, here, now recoverin’ from the
sickness, that I pity; don’t cry, Mary, dear; come here, darlin’, come
here, and turn up that ould creel, and sit down beside me. It’s useless
to bid you not to cry, avourneen machree, bekaise we all know what
you feel; but you have one comfort--you are innocent--so are you
all--there’s nothing on any of your minds--no dark thought to lie upon
your heart--oh, no, no; an’ if it was only myself that was to suffer, I
could bear it; but to see them that’s innocent sufferin’ along wid me,
is what kills me. This is the hand of God that’s upon us, an’ that will
be upon us, an’ that has been upon us, an’ I knew it would be so;
for ever since that black night, the thought--the thought of what
happened!--ay, it’s that that’s in me, an’ upon me--it’s that that has
put wrinkles in my cheek before their time, an’ that has made my hair
white before its time, and that has--”

“Con, dear,” observed his wife, “I never wished you to be talkin’ of
that before them; sure you did as much as a man could do; you repented,
an’ were sorry for it, an’ what more could be expected from you?”

“Father, dear,” said Mary, drying, or struggling to dry her tears,
“don’t think of me, or of any of us, nor don’t think of anything that
will disturb your mind--don’t think of the, at any rate--I’m very
weak, but I’m not so hungry as you may think; if I had one mouthful
of anything just to take this feelin’ that I have inwardly, an’ this
weakness away, I would be satisfied--that would do me; an’ although
I’m cryin’ it’s more to see your misery, father dear, an’ all your
miseries, than for what I’m sufferin’ myself; but there’s a kiss for
you, it’s all I have to give you.”

“Mary, dear,” said her sister, smote to the heart by her words, “you’re
sufferin’ more than any of us, you an’ my father,” and she encircled
her lovingly and mournfully in her arms as she spoke, and kissed her
wan lips, after which she went to the old man, and said in a voice of
compassion and consolation that was calculated to soothe any hearers--

“Oh, father, dear, if you could only banish all uneasy thoughts from
your mind--if you could only throw that darkness that’s so often over
you, off you, we could bear anything--anything--Oh, anything, if we seen
you aisy in your mind, an’ happy!”

Mrs. Dalton had dried her tears, and sat upon a low stool musing and
silent, and apparently revolving in her mind the best course to be
pursued under such circumstances. It was singular to observe the change
that had taken place in her appearance even within a few hours; the
situation of her family, and her want of success in procuring them food,
had so broken down her spirits and crushed her heart, that the lines of
her face were deepened and her features sharpened and impressed with
the marks of suffering as strongly as if they had been left there by the
affliction of years. Her son leant himself against a piece of the broken
wall that partially divided their hut into something like two rooms, if
they could be called so, and from time to time he glanced about him, now
at his father, then at his poor sisters, and again at his heart-broken
mother, with an impatient agony of spirit that could scarcely be
conceived.

“Well,” said he, clenching his hands and grinding his teeth, “it is
expected that people like us will sit tamely undher sich tratement as we
have resaved from Dick o’ the Grange. Oh, if we had now the five hundre
good pounds that we spent upon our farm--spent, as it turned out, not
for ourselves, but to enable that ould villain of a landlord to set it
to Darby Skinadre; for I b’lieve it’s he that’s to get it, with strong
inthrest goin’ into his pocket for all our improvements; if we had now,”
 he continued, his passion rising, “if we had that five hundre pounds
now, or one hundre, or one pound, great God! ay, or one shillin’ now,
wouldn’t it save some of you from starving”

This reflection, which in the young man excited only wrath, occasioned
the female portion of the family to burst into fresh sorrow; not so the
old man; he arose hastily, and paced up and down the floor in a state of
gloomy indignation and fury which far transcended that of his son.

“Oh!” said he, “if I was a young man, as I was wanst--but the young men
now are poor, pitiful, cowardly--I would--I would;” he paused suddenly,
however, looked up, and clasping his hands, exclaimed--“forgive me,
O God! forgive the thought that was in my unhappy heart! Oh, no, no,
never, never allow yourself, Con, dear, to be carried away by anger,
for ‘fraid you might do in one minute, or in a short fit of anger, what
might make you pass many a sleepless night, an’ maybe banish the peace
of God from your heart forever!”

“God bless you for them last words, Condy!” exclaimed his wife, “that’s
the way I wish you always to spake; but what to do, or where to go, or
who to turn to, unless to God himself, I don’t know.”

“We’re come to it at last,” said their daughter Peggy; “little we
thought of it, but at all events, it’s betther to do that than to do
worse--betther than to rob or steal, or do an ondaicent act of any
kind. In the name of God, then, rather than you should die of hunger,
Mary--you an’ my father an’ all of yez--I’ll go out and beg from the
neighbors.”

“Beg!” shouted the old man, with a look of rage--“beg!” he repeated,
starting to his feet and seizing his staff--“beg! you shameless and
disgraceful strap. Do you talk of a Dalton goin’ out to bee? taka that!”

And as he spoke, he hit her over the arm with a stick he always carried.

“Now that will teach you to talk of beg-gin’. No!--die--die first--die
at wanst; but no beggin’ for any one wid the blood of a Dalton in their
veins. Death--death--a thousand times sooner!”

“Father--oh! father, father, why, why did you do that?” exclaimed his
son, “to strike poor kind an’ heart-broken Peggy, that would shed her
blood for you or any of us. Oh! father, I am sorry to see it.”

The sorrowing girl turned pale by the blow, and a few tears came down
her cheeks; but she thought not of herself, nor of her sufferings. After
the necessary pause caused by the pain, she ran to him, and, throwing
her arms about his neck, exclaimed in a gush of sorrow that was
perfectly heart-rending to witness--

“Oh! father dear, forgive me--your own poor Peggy; sure it was chiefly
on your account and Mary’s I was goin’ to do it. I won’t go, then, since
you don’t wish it; but I’ll die with you.”

The old man flung the stick from him, and clasping her in his arms, he
sobbed and wept aloud.

“My darlin’ child,” he exclaimed, “that never yet gave one of us a bad
word or angry look--will you forgive your unhappy father, that doesn’t
know what he’s doin’! Oh! I feel that this state we’re in--this outher
desolation an’ misery we’re in--will drive me mad! but that hasty blow,
_avourneen machree_--that hasty blow an’ the hot temper that makes me
give it, is my curse yet, has always been my curse, an’ ever will be
my curse; it’s that curse that’s upon me now, an’ upon all of us this
minute--it is, it is!”

“Condy,” said his wife, “we all know that you’re not as bad as you make
yourself. Within the last few years your temper has been sorely tried,
and your heart too, God knows; for our trials and our downcome in this
world has been great. In all these trials, however, and sufferings, its
a consolation to us, that we never neglected to praise an’ worship the
Almighty--we are now brought almost to the very last pass--let us go to
our knees, then, an’ throw ourselves upon His mercy, and beg of Him to
support us, an’ if it’s His holy will, to aid us, and send us relief.”

“Oh, Mary dear,” exclaimed her husband, “but you are the valuable and
faithful wife! If ever woman was a protectin’ angel to man, you wor to
me. Come children, in the name of the merciful God, let us kneel and
pray.”

The bleak and depressing aspect of twilight had now settled down upon
the sweltering and deluged country, and the air was warm, thick, moist,
and consequently unhealthy. The cabin of the Daltons was placed in a
low, damp situation; but fortunately it was approached by a remnant of
one of those old roads or causeways which had once been peculiar to the
remote parts of the country, and also of very singular structure, the
least stone in it being considerably larger than a shilling loaf. This
causeway was nearly covered with grass, so that in addition to the
antique and desolate appearance which this circumstance gave it, the
footsteps of a passenger could scarcely be heard as they fell upon the
thick close grass with which its surface was mostly covered.

Along this causeway, then, at the very hour when the Daltons, moved by
that piety which is characteristic of our peasantry, had gone to prayer,
was the strange woman whom we have already noticed, proceeding with that
relief which it may be God in His goodness had ordained should reach
them in answer to the simple but trustful spirit of their supplications.
On reaching the miserable looking cabin, she paused, listened, and heard
their voices blend in those devout tones that always mark the utterance
of prayer among the people. They were, in fact, repeating a Rosary, and
surely, it is not for those who differ with them in creed, or for any
one who feel the influence of true charity, to quarrel with the form
of prayer, when the heart is moved as theirs were, by earnestness and
humble piety.

The strange woman on approaching the door more nearly, stood again for a
minute or two, having been struck more forcibly by something which
gave a touching and melancholy character to this simple act of domestic
worship. She observed, for instance, that their prayers were blended
with many sighs, and from time to time, a groan escaped from one of
the males, which indicated either deep remorse or a sense of some great
misery. One of the female voices, too, was so feeble as scarcely to be
heard, yet there ran through it, she felt, a spirit of such tender and
lowly resignation, mingled with such an expression of profound sorrow,
as almost moved her to tears. The door was open, and the light so dim,
that she could not distinctly see their persons--two circumstances which
for a moment induced her to try if it were possible to leave the meal
there without their knowledge. She determined otherwise, however, and as
their prayers were almost immediately concluded, she entered the house.
The appearance of a stranger in the dusky gloom carrying a burden,
caused them to suppose that it was some poor person coming to ask
charity, or permission to stop for the night.

“Who is this?” asked Condy. “Some poor person, I suppose, axin’
charity,” he added. “But God’s will be done, we haven’t it to give this
many a long day. Glory be to his name!”

“This is Condy Dalton’s house?” said the strange woman in a tone of
inquiry.

“Sich as it is, it’s his house, an’ the best he has, my poor creature. I
wish it was betther both for his sake and yours,” he replied, in a calm
and resigned voice, for his heart had been touched and solemnized by the
act of devotion which had just concluded.

Mrs. Dalton, in the meantime, had thrown a handful of straw on the fire
to make a temporary light.

“Here,” said the stranger, “is a present of meal that a’ friend sent
you.”

“Meal!” exclaimed Peggy Dalton, with a faint scream of joy; “did you say
meal?” she asked.

“I did,” replied the other; “a friend that heard of your present
distress, and thinks you don’t desarve it, sent it to you.”

Mrs. Dalton raised the burning straw, and looked for about half a minute
into her face, during which the woman carried the meal over and placed
it on the hearth.

“I met you to-day, I think,” said Mrs. Dalton, “along with Donnel Dhu’s
wife on your way to Darby Skinadre’s?”

“You might,” replied the woman; “for I went there part o’ the road with
her.”

“And who are we indebted to for the present?” she asked again.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” replied the other; “barrin’ that it’s from
a friend and well-wisher.”

Mrs. Dalton clasped her hands, and looking with an appearance of
abstraction, on the straw as it burned in the fire, said in a voice that
became infirm by emotion--

“Oh! I know it; it can be no other. The friend that she speaks of is
the girl--the blessed girl--whose goodness is in every one’s mouth--_Gra
Gal_ Sullivan. I know it, I feel it.”

“Now,” said the woman, “I must go; but before I go, I wish to look on
the face of Condy Dalton.”

“There’s a bit of rush on the shelf there,” said Mrs. Dalton to one of
her daughters; “bring it over and light it.”

The girl did so, and the strange woman, taking the little taper in her
hand, approached Dalton, and looking with a gaze almost fearfully solemn
and searching into his face.

“You are Condy Dalton?” she asked.

“I am,” said he.

“Answer me now,” she proceeded, “as if you were in the presence of God
at judgment, are you happy?”

Mrs. Dalton, who felt anxious for many reasons, to relieve her
unfortunate husband from this unexpected and extraordinary catechist,
hastened to reply for him.

“How, honest woman, could a man be happy who is in a state of such
destitution, or who has had such misfortunes as he has had;” and as she
spoke her eyes filled with tears of compassion for her husband.

“Don’t break it upon me,” said the woman, solemnly, “but let me ax my
question, an’ let him give his answer. In God’s name and presence, are
you a happy man?”

“I can’t speak a lie to that, for I must yet meet my judge--I am not.”

“You have one particular thought that makes you unhappy.”

“I have one particular thought that makes me unhappy.”

“How long has it made you unhappy?”

“For near two-and-twenty years.”

“That’s enough,” she replied; “God’s hand is in it all--I must now go.
I have done what I was axed to do; but there’s a higher will at work.
Honest woman,” she added, addressing Mrs. Dalton, “I wish you and your
childre good night!”

The moment she went they almost ceased to think of her. The pot still
hung on the fire, and little time was lost in preparing a meal of food.

From the moment _Gra Gal_ Sullivan’s name was mentioned, the whole
family observed that young Con started and appeared to become all at
once deeply agitated; he walked backwards and forwards--sat down--and
rose up--applied his hands to his forehead--appeared sometimes flushed,
and again pale--and altogether seemed in a state which it was difficult
to understand.

“What is the matter with you, Con?” asked his mother, “you seem
dreadfully uneasy.”

“I am ill, mother,” he replied--“the fever that was near taking Tom
away, is upon me; I feel that I have it by the pains that’s in my head
and the small o’ my back.”

“Lie down a little, dear,” she added, “its only the pain, poor boy, of
an empty stomach--lie down on your poor bed, God help you, and when the
supper’s ready you’ll be better.”

“It’s her,” he replied--“it’s her--I know it”--and as he uttered the
words, touched by her generosity, and the consciousness of his own
poverty, he wept bitterly, and then repaired to his miserable bed, where
he stretched himself in pain and sorrow.

“Now, Con,” said his wife, in a tone of consolation and encouragement,
“will you ever despair of God’s mercy, or doubt his goodness, after what
has happened?”

“I’m an unhappy man, Nancy,” he replied, “but it never went to that with
me, thank God--but where is that poor wild boy of ours, Tom,--oh, where
is he now, till he gets one meal’s mate?”

“He is up at the Murtaghs,” said his sister, “an’ I had better fetch
him home; I think the poor fellow’s almost out of his senses since Peggy
Murtagh’s death--that an’ the dregs of the fever has him that he doesn’t
know what he’s doin’, God help him.”



CHAPTER XII. -- Famine, Death, and Sorrow.


It has never been our disposition, either in the living life we lead,
or in the fictions, humble and imperfect as they are, which owe their
existence to our imagination, to lay too heavy a hand upon human
frailty, any more than it has been to countenance or palliate vice,
whether open or hypocritical. Peggy Murtagh, with whose offence and
death the reader is already acquainted, was an innocent and affectionate
girl, whose heart was full of kind, generous, and amiable feelings. She
was very young, and very artless, and loved not wisely but too well;
while he who was the author of her sin, was nearly as young and artless
as herself, and loved her with a first affection. She was, in fact, one
of those gentle, timid, and confiding creatures who suspect not evil in
others, and are full of sweetness and kindness to every one. Never did
there live--with the exception of her offence--a tenderer daughter, or
a more affectionate sister than poor Peggy, and for this reason, the
regret was both sincere and general, which was felt for her great
misfortune. Poor girl! she was but a short time released from her early
sorrows, when her babe followed her, we trust, to a better world, where
the tears were wiped from her eyes, and the weary one got rest.

The scene in her father’s house on this melancholy night, was such as
few hearts could bear unmoved, as well on account of her parents’ grief,
as because it may be looked upon as a truthful exponent both of the
destitution of the country, and of the virtues and sympathies of our
people.

Stretched upon a clean bed in the only room that was off the kitchen,
lay the fair but lifeless form of poor Peggy Murtagh. The bed was, as is
usual, hung with white, which was simply festooned about the posts and
canopy, and the coverlid was also of the same spotless color, as
were the death clothes in which she was laid out. To those who
are beautiful--and poor Peggy had possessed that frequently fatal
gift--death in its first stage, bestows an expression of mournful
tenderness that softens while it solemnizes the heart. In her case there
was depicted all the innocence and artlessness that characterized her
brief and otherwise spotless life. Over this melancholy sweetness lay a
shadow that manifested her early suffering and sorrow, made still
more touching by the presence of an expression which was felt by the
spectator to have been that of repentance. Her rich auburn hair
was simply divided on her pale forehead, and it was impossible to
contemplate the sorrow and serenity which blended into each other upon
her young brow, without feeling that death should disarm us of our
resentments, and teach us a lesson of pity and forgiveness to our poor
fellow-creatures, who, whatever may have been their errors, will never
more offend either God or man. Her extreme youthfulness was touching in
the highest degree, and to the simplicity of her beauty was added that
unbroken stillness which gives to the lifeless face of youth the only
charm that death has to bestow, while it fills the heart I to its utmost
depths with the awful conviction that that is the slumber which no human
care nor anxious passion shall ever break, The babe, thin and pallid,
from the affliction of its young and unfortunate mother, could hardly
be looked, upon, in consequence of its position, without tears. They
had placed it by her side, but within her arm, so that by this touching
arrangement all the brooding tenderness of the mother’s love seemed to
survive and overcome the power of death itself. There they lay, victims
of sin, but emblems of innocence, and where is the heart that shall,
in the inhumanity of its justice, dare to follow them out of life,
and disturb the peace they now enjoy by the heartless sentence of
unforgiveness?

It was, indeed, a melancholy scene. The neighbors having heard of her
unexpected death, came to the house, as is customary, to render every
assistance in their power to the bereaved old couple, who were now left
childless. And here too, might we read the sorrowful impress of the
famine and illness which desolated the land. The groups around the poor
departed one were marked with such a thin and haggard expression as
general destitution always is certain to leave behind it. The skin of
those who, with better health and feeding, had been fair and glossy
as ivory, was now wan and flaccid;--the long bones of others
projected sharply, and as it were offensively to the feelings of the
spectators--the over-lapping garments hung loosely about the wasted
and feeble person, and there was in the eyes of all a dull and languid
motion, as if they turned in their socket by an effort. They were
all mostly marked also by what appeared to be a feeling of painful
abstraction, which, in fact, was nothing else than that abiding desire
for necessary food, which in seasons of famine keeps perpetually
gnawing, as they term it, at the heart, and pervades the system by that
sleepless solicitation of appetite, which, like the presence of guilt,
mingles itself up, while it lasts, with every thought and action of
one’s life.

In this instance it may be remembered, that the aid which the poor girl
had come to ask from Skinadre was, as she said, ‘for the ould couple,’
who had, indeed, been for a long time past their last meal, a very
common thing during such periods, and were consequently without a morsel
of food. The appearance of her corpse, however, at the house, an event
so unexpected, drove, for the time, all feelings of physical want from
their minds; but this is a demand which will not be satisfied, no matter
by what moral power or calamity it may be opposed, and the wretched
couple were now a proof of it. Their conduct to those who did not
understand this, resembled insanity or fatuity more than anything else.
The faces of both were ghastly, and filled with a pale, vague expression
of what appeared to be horror, or the dull staring stupor, which
results from the fearful conflict of two great opposing passions in the
mind--passions, which in this case were the indomitable ones of hunger
and grief. After dusk, when the candles were lighted, they came into
the room where their daughter was laid out, and stood for some time
contemplating herself and her infant in silence. Their visages were
white and stony as marble, and their eyes, now dead and glassy,
were marked by no appearance of distinct consciousness, or the usual
expression of reason. They had no sooner appeared, than the sympathies
of the assembled neighbors were deeply excited, and there was nothing
heard for some minutes, but groans, sobbings, and general grief. Both
stood for a short time, and looked with amazement about them. At length,
the old man, taking the hand of his wife in his, said--

“Kathleen, what’s this?--what ails me? I want something.”

“You do, Brian--you do. There s Peggy there, and her child, poor thing;
see how quiet they are! Oh, how she loved that child! an’ see her
darlin’--see how she keeps her arm about it, for fear anything! might
happen it, or that any one might take it away from her; but that’s her,
all over--she loved everything.”

“Ay,” said the old man, “I know how she loved it; but, somehow, she was
ever and always afeard, poor thing, of seemin’ over fond of it before
us or before strangers, bekaise you know the poor unhappy--bekaise you
know--what was I goin’ to say? Oh, ay, an’ I’ll tell you, although I
didn’t let on to her, still I loved the poor little thing myself--ay,
did I. But, ah! Kathleen, wasn’t she the good an’ the lovin’ daughter?”
 The old woman raised her head, and looked searchingly around the room.
She seemed uneasy, and gave a ghastly smile, which it was difficult to
understand. She then looked into her husband’s face, after which she
turned her eyes upon the countenances of the early dead who lay before
her, and going over to them, stooped and looked closely into their still
but composed faces, She then put her hand upon her daughter’s forehead,
touched her lips with her fingers, carried her hand down along her arm,
and felt the pale features of the baby with a look of apparent wonder;
and whilst she did this, the old man left the room and passed into the
kitchen.

“For God’s love, an’ take her away,” said a neighboring woman, with
tears in her eyes; “no one can stand this.”

“No, no,” exclaimed another, “it’s best to let her have her own will;
for until they both shed plenty of tears, they won’t get the betther of
the shock her unexpected death gave them.”

“Is it thrue that Tom Dalton’s gone mad, too?” asked another; “for it’s
reported he is.”

“No; but they say he’s risin’ the counthry to punish Dick o’ the
Grange and Darby Skinadre--the one, he says, for puttin’ his father
and themselves out o’ their farm; and the other for bein’ the death, he
says, of poor Peggy there and the child; an’ for tak in’, or offerin’ to
take, the farm over their heads.”

The old woman then looked around, and, asked--

“Where is Brian? Bring him to me--I want him here. But wait,” she added,
“I will find him myself.”

She immediately followed him into the I kitchen, where the poor old man
was found searching every part of the house for food.

“What are you looking for, Brian?” asked another of his neighbors.

“Oh,” he replied, “I am dyin’ wid fair hunger--wid fair hunger, an’ I
want something to ait;” and as he spoke, a spasm of agony came over his
face. “Ah,” he added, “if Alick was livin’ it isn’t this way we’d be,
for what can poor Peggy do for us afther her ‘misfortune?’ However, she
is a good girl--a good daughter to us, an’ will make a good wife, too,
for all that has happened yet; for sure they wor both young and foolish,
an’ Tom is to marry her. She is now all we have to depend on, poor
thing, an’ it wrings my heart to catch her in lonesome places, cryin’
as if her heart would break; for, poor thing, she’s sorry--sorry for her
fault, an’ for the shame an’ sorrow it has brought her to; an’ that’s
what makes her pray, too, so often as she does; but God’s good, an’
he’ll forgive her, bekaise she has repented.”

“Brian,” said his wife, “come away till I show you something.”

As she spoke, she led him into the other room.

“There,” she proceeded, “there is our dearest and our best--food--oh,
I am hungry, too; but I don’t care for that--sure the mother’s love is
stronger than hunger or want either: but there she is, that was wanst
our pride and our delight, an’ what is she now? She needn’t cry now, the
poor heartbroken child; she needn’t cry now; all her sorrow, and all her
shame, and all her sin is over. She’ll hang her head no more, nor her
pale cheek won’t get crimson at the sight of any one that knew her
before her fall; but for all her sin in that one act, did her heart ever
fail to you or me? Was there ever such love an’ care, an’ respect, as
she paid us? an’ we wouldn’t tell her that we forgave her; we wor too
hardhearted for that, an’ too wicked to say that one word that she
longed for so much--oh an’ she our only one--but now--daughter of our
hearts--now we forgive you when it’s too late--for, Brian, there they
are! there they lie in their last sleep--the sleep that they will never
waken from! an’ it’s well for them, for they’ll waken no more to care
an’ throuble, and shame! There they lie! see how quiet an’ calm they
both lie there, the poor broken branch, an’ the little withered flower!”

The old man’s search for food in the kitchen had given to the neighbors
the first intimation of their actual distress, and in a few minutes it
was discovered that there was not a mouthful of anything in the house,
nor had they tasted a single morsel since the morning before, when they
took a little gruel which their daughter made for them. In a moment,
with all possible speed, the poor creatures about them either went or
sent for sustenance, and in many a case, almost the last morsel was
shared with them, and brought, though scanty and humble, to their
immediate assistance. In this respect there is not in the world any
people so generous and kind to their fellow-creatures as the Irish,
or whose sympathies are so deep and tender, especially in periods of
sickness, want, or death. It is not the tear alone they are willing to
bestow--oh no--whatever can be done, whatever aid can be given, whatever
kindness rendered, or consolation offered, even to the last poor
shilling, or, “the very bit out of the mouth,” as they say themselves,
will be given with a good will, and a sincerity that might in vain
be looked for elsewhere. But alas! they know what it is to want this
consolation and assistance themselves, and hence their promptitude and
anxiety to render them to others. The old man, touched a little by the
affecting language of his wife, began to lose the dull stony look we
have described, and his eyes turned upon those who were about him with
something like meaning, although at that moment it could scarcely be
called so.

“Am I dhramin’?” he asked. “Is this a dhrame? What brings the people
all about us? Where’s Alick from us--an’ stay--where’s her that I loved
best, in spite of her folly? Where’s Peggy from me--there’s something
wrong wid me--and yet she’s not here to take care o’ me?”

“Brian, dear,” said a poor famished-looking woman approaching him,
“she’s in a betther place, poor thing.”

“Go long out o’ that,” he replied, “and don’t put your hands on me. It’s
Peggy’s hands I want to have about me, an’ her voice. Where’s Peggy’s
voice, I say? ‘Father, forgive me,’ she said, ‘forgive me, father, or
I’ll never be happy more;’ but I wouldn’t forgive her, although my heart
did at the same time; still I didn’t say the word: bring her here,” he
added, “tell her I’m ready now to forgive her all; for she, it’s she
that was the forgivin’ creature herself; tell her I’m ready now to
forgive her all, an’ to give her my blessin’ wanst more.”

It was utterly impossible to hear this language from the stunned and
heart-broken father, and to contemplate the fair and lifeless form
of the unhappy young creature as she lay stretched before him in the
peaceful stillness of death, without being moved even to tears. There
were, indeed, few dry eyes in the house as he spoke.

“Oh, Brian dear,” said her weeping mother, “we helped ourselves to break
her heart, as well as the rest. We wouldn’t forgive her; we wouldn’t
say the word, although her heart was breakin’ bekaise we did not. Oh,
Peggy,” she commenced in Irish, “oh, our daughter--girl of the one
fault! the kind, the affectionate, and the dutiful child, to what corner
of the world will your father an’ myself turn now that you’re gone from
us? You asked us often an’ often to forgive you, an’ we would not.
You said you were sorry, in the sight of God an’ of man, for your
fault--that your heart was sore, an’ that you felt our forgiveness
would bring you consolation; but we would not. Ould man,” she exclaimed
abruptly, turning to her husband, “why didn’t you forgive our only
daughter? Why, I say, didn’t you forgive her her one fault--you wicked
ould man, why didn’t you forgive her?”

“Oh, Kathleen, I’ll die,” he replied, mournfully, “I’ll die if I don’t
get something to ait. Is there no food? Didn’t Peggy go to thry Darby
Skinadre, an’ she hoped, she said, that she’d bring us relief; an’ so
she went upon our promise to forgive her when she’d come back wid it.”

“I wish, indeed, I had a drop o’ gruel or something myself,” replied his
wife, now reminded of her famished state by his words.

At this moment, however, relief, so far as food was concerned, did
come. The compassionate neighbors began, one by one, to return each
with whatever could be spared from their own necessities, so that in
the course of a little time this desolate old couple were supplied with
provisions sufficient to meet the demands of a week or fortnight.

It is not our intention to describe, or rather to attempt to describe,
the sorrow of Brian Murtagh and his wife, as soon as a moderate meal
of food had awakened them, as it were, from the heavy and stupid frenzy
into which the shock of their unhappy daughter’s death, joined to the
pangs of famine, had thrown them. It may be sufficient to say, that
their grief was wild, disconsolate, and hopeless. She was the only
daughter they had ever had: and when they looked back upon the gentle
and unfortunate girl’s many virtues, and reflected that they had, up
to her death, despite her earnest entreaties, withheld from her their
pardon for her transgression, they felt, mingled with their affliction
at her loss, such an oppressive agony of remorse as no language could
describe.

Many of the neighbors now proposed the performance of a ceremony, which
is frequently deemed necessary in cases of frailty similar to that of
poor Peggy Murtagh:--a ceremony which, in the instance before us,
was one of equal pathos and beauty. It consisted of a number of these
humble, but pious and well-disposed people joining in what is termed
the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, which was an earnest solicitation of
mercy, through her intercession with her Son, for the errors, frailties,
and sins of the departed; and, indeed, when her youth and beauty, and
her artlessness and freedom from guile, were taken into consideration,
in connection with her unexpected death, it must be admitted that this
act of devotion was as affecting as it was mournful and solemn. When
they came to the words, “Mother most pure, Mother most chaste, Mother
undefiled, Mother most loving, pray for her!”--and again to those,
“Morning Star, Health of the Weak, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortress of the
Afflicted, pray for her!”--their voices faltered, became broken, and,
with scarcely a single exception, they melted into tears. And it was a
beautiful thing to witness these miserable and half-famished creatures,
shrunk and pinched with hunger and want, laboring, many of them, with
incipient illness, and several only just recovered from it, forgetting
their own distress and afflictions, and rendering all the aid and
consolation in their power to those who stood in more need of it
than themselves. When these affecting prayers for the dead had been
concluded, a noise was heard at the door, and a voice which in a moment
hushed them into silence and awe. The voice was that of him whom the
departed girl had loved with such fatal tenderness.

“In the name of God,” exclaimed one of them, “let some of you keep that
unfortunate boy out; the sight of him will kill the ould couple.” The
woman who spoke, however, had hardly concluded, when Thomas Dalton
entered the room, panting, pale, tottering through weakness, and almost
frantic with sorrow and remorse. On looking at the unhappy sight before
him, he paused and wiped his brow, which was moistened by excitement and
over-exertion.

There was now the silence of death in the room so deep, that the
shooting of a spark from one of the death-candles was heard by every
one present, an incident which, small as it was, deepened the melancholy
interest of the moment.

“An’ that’s it,” he at last exclaimed, in a voice which, though weak,
quivered with excess of agony--“that’s it, Peggy dear--that’s what your
love for me has brought you to! An’ now it’s too late, I can’t help
you now, Peggy dear. I can’t bid you hould your, modest face up, as the
darlin’ wife of him who loved you betther than all this world besides,
but that left you, for all that a stained name an’ a broken heart! Ay!
an’ there’s what your love for me brought you to! What can I do now for
you, Peggy dear? All my little plans for us both--all that I dreamt of
an’ hoped to come to pass, where are they now, Peggy dear? And it wasn’t
I, Peggy, it was poverty--oh you know how I loved you!--it was the
downcome we got--it was Dick-o’-the-Grange, that oppressed us--that
ruined us--that put us out without house or home--it was he, and it was
my father--my father that they say has blood on his hand, an’ I don’t
doubt it, or he wouldn’t act the part he did--it was he, too that
prevented me from doin’ what my heart encouraged me to do for you! O
blessed God,” he exclaimed, “what will become of me! when I think of the
long, sorrowful, implorin’ look she used to give me. I’ll go mad!--I’ll
go mad!--I’ve killed her--I’ve murdhered her, an’ there’s no one to take
me up an’ punish me for it! An’ when I was ill, Peggy dear, when I had
time to think on my sick bed of all your love and all your sorrow and
distress and shame on my account, I thought I’d never see you in time
to tell you what I was to do, an’ to give consolation to your breakin’
heart; but all that’s now over; you are gone from me, an’ like the
lovin’ crathur you ever wor, you brought your baby along wid you! An’
when I think of it--oh God, when I think of it, before your shame, my
heart’s delight, how your eye felt proud out of me, an’ how it smiled
when it rested on me. Oh, little you thought I’d hould back to do you
justice--me that you doted on--an’ yet it was I that sullied you--I! me!
Here,” he shouted--“here, is there no one to saize a murdherer!--no one
to bring him to justice!”

Those present now gathered about him, and attempted as best they might,
to soothe and pacify him; but in vain.

“Oh,” he proceeded, “if she was only able to upbraid me--but what am I
sayin’--upbraid! Oh, never, never was her harsh word heard--oh, nothing
ever to me but that long look of sorrow--that long look of sorrow, that
will either drive me mad, or lave me a broken heart! That’s the look
that’ll always, always be before me, an’ that, ‘till death’s day, will
keep me from ever bein’ a happy man.”

He now became exhausted, and received a drink of water, after which he
wildly kissed her lips, and bathed her inanimate face, as well as those
of their infant, with tears.

“Now,” said he, at length; “now, Peggy dear, listen--so may God never
prosper me, if I don’t work bitther vengeance on them that along wid
myself, was the means of bringin’ you to this--Dick-o’-the-Grange, an’
Darby Skinadre, for if Darby had given you what you wanted, you might
be yet a livin’ woman. As for myself, I care not what becomes of me; you
are gone, our child is gone, and now I have nothing in this world that
I’ll ever care for; there’s nothing in it that I’ll ever love again.”

He then turned to leave the room, and was in the act of going out of it,
when her father, who had nearly recovered the use of his reason, said:

“Tom Dalton, you are lavin’ this house, an’ may the curse of that girl’s
father, broken-hearted as you’ve left him, go along wid you.”

“No,” exclaimed his wife, “but may the blessin’ of her mother rest upon
you for the sake of the love she bore you!”

“You’ve spoken late, Kathleen Murtagh,” he replied; “the curse of the
father is on me, an’ will folly me; I feel it.”

His sister then entered the room to bring him home, whither he
accompanied her, scarcely conscious of what he did, and ignorant of the
cloud of vengeance which was so soon to break upon his wretched father’s
head.



CHAPTER XIII. -- Sarah’s Defence of a Murderer.


Our readers are not, perhaps, in general, aware that a most iniquitous
usage prevailed among Middlemen Landlords, whenever the leases under
which their property was held were near being expired. Indeed, as a
landed proprietor, the middleman’s position differed most essentially
from that of the man who held his estate in fee. The interest of
the latter is one that extends beyond himself and his wants, and is
consequently transmitted to his children, and more remote descendants;
and on his account he is, or ought to be, bound by the ties of a
different and higher character, to see that it shall not pass down to
them in an impoverished or mutilated condition. The middleman, on the
contrary, feels little or none of this, and very naturally endeavors to
sweep from off the property he holds, whilst he holds it, by every means
possible, as much as it can yield, knowing that his tenure of it is
but temporary and precarious. For this reason, then, it too frequently
happened that on finding his tenant’s leases near expiring, he resorted
to the most unscrupulous and oppressive means to remove from his land
those who may have made improvements upon it, in order to let it to
other claimants at a rent high in proportion to these very improvements.

Our readers know that this is not an extreme case, but a plain,
indisputable fact, which has, unfortunately, been one of the standing
grievances of our unhappy country, and one of the great curses attending
the vicious and unsettled state of property in Ireland.

Dick-o’-the-Grange’s ejectment of Condy Dalton and his family,
therefore, had, in the eyes of many of the people, nothing in it so
startlingly oppressive as might be supposed. On the contrary, the act
was looked upon as much in the character of a matter of right on his
part, as one of oppression to them. Long usage had reconciled the
peasantry to it, and up to the period of our tale, there had been no one
to awaken and direct public feeling against it.

A fortnight had now elapsed since the scene in which young Dalton had
poured out his despair and misery over the dead body of Peggy Murtagh,
and during that period an incident occurred, which, although by no
means akin to the romantic, had produced, nevertheless, a change in the
position of Dick-o’-the-Grange himself, without effecting any either in
his designs or inclinations. His own leases had expired, so that, in one
sense, he stood exactly in the same relation to the head landlord,
in which his own tenants did to him. Their leases had dropped about a
twelvemonth or more before his, and he now waited until he should take
out new ones himself, previous to his proceeding any further in the
disposition and readjustment of his property. Such was his position
and theirs, with reference to each other, when one morning, about a
fortnight or better subsequent to his last appearance, young Dick,
accompanied by the Black Prophet, was seen to proceed towards the
garden--both in close conversation. The Prophet’s face was now free from
the consequences of young Dalton’s violence, but it had actually
gained in malignity more than it had lost by the discoloration and
disfigurement resulting from the blow. There was a calm, dark grin
visible when he smiled, that argued a black and satanic disposition; and
whenever the lips of his hard, contracted, and unfeeling mouth expanded
by his devilish sneer, a portion of one of his vile side fangs became
visible, which gave to his features a most hateful and viper-like
aspect. It was the cold, sneering, cowardly face of a man who took
delight in evil for its own sake, and who could neither feel happiness
himself, nor suffer others to enjoy it.

As they were about to enter the garden Donnel Dhu saw approaching him at
a rapid and energetic pace, his daughter Sarah, whose face, now lit up
by exercise, as well as by the earnest expression of deep interest which
might be read in it, never before appeared so strikingly animated and
beautiful.

“Who is this lovely girl approaching us?” asked the young man, whose
eyes at once kindled with surprise and admiration.

“That is my daughter,” replied Donnel, coldly; “what can she want with
me now, and what brought her here?”

“Upon my honor, Donnel, that girl surpasses anything I have seen yet.
Why she’s perfection--her figure is--is--I haven’t words for it--and her
face--good heavens! what brilliancy and animation!”


[Illustration: PAGE 834-- The Prophet’s brow darkened]


The Prophet’s brow darkened at his daughter’s unseasonable appearance in
the presence of a handsome young fellow of property, whose character for
gallantry was proverbial in the country.

“Sarah, my good girl,” said he, whilst his voice, which at once became
low and significant, quivered with suppressed rage--“what brought you
here, I ax? Did any one send for you? or is there a matther of life and
death on hands, that you tramp afther me in this manner--eh?”

“It may be life an’ death for any thing I know to the contrary,” she
replied; “you are angry at something, I see,” she proceeded--“but to
save time, I want to spake to you.”

“You must wait till I go home, then, for I neither can nor will spake to
you now.”

“Father, you will--you must,” she replied--“and in some private place
too. I won’t detain you long, for I haven’t much to say, and if I don’t
say it now, it may be too late.”

“What the deuce, M’Gowan!” said Dick, “speak, to the young woman--you
don’t know but she may have something of importance to say to you.”

She glanced at the speaker, but with a face of such indifference, as if
she had scarcely taken cognizance of him, beyond the fact that she found
some young man there in conversation with her father.

Donnel, rather to take her from under the libertine gaze of his young
friend, walked a couple of hundred yards to the right of the garden,
where, under the shadow of some trees that over-hung a neglected
fishpond, she opened the purport for her journey after him to the
Grange.

“Now, in the divil’s name,” he asked, “what brought you here?”

“Father,” she replied, “hear me, and do not be angry, for I know--at
laste I think--that what I am goin’ to say to you is right.”

“Well, madame, let us hear what you have to say.”

“I will--an’ I must spake plain, too. You know me; that I cannot think
one thing and say another.”

“Yes, I know you very well--go on--ay, and so does your unfortunate
step-mother.”

“Oh--well!” she replied--“yes, I suppose so--ha! ha!” In a moment,
however, her face became softened with deep feeling; “O, father,” she
proceeded, “maybe you don’t know me, nor she either; it’s only now I’m
beginnin’ to know myself. But listen--I have often observed your
countenance, father--I have often marked it well. I can see by you when
you are pleased or angry--but that’s aisy; I can tell, too, when the bad
spirit is up in you by the pale face but black look that scarcely any
one could mistake. I have seen every thing bad, father, in your
face--bad temper, hatred, revenge--an’ but seldom any thing good.
Father, I’m your daughter, an’ don’t be angry!”

“What, in the devil’s name, are you drivin’ at, you brazen jade?”

“Father, you said this mornin’, before you came out, that you felt your
conscience troublin’ you for not discoverin’ the murdher of Sullivan;
that you felt sorry for keepin’ it to yourself so long--sorry!--you said
you were sorry, father!”

“I did, and I was.”

“Father, I have been thinkin’ of that since; no, father--your words were
false; there was no sorrow in your face, nor in your eye,--no, father,
nor in your heart. I know that--I feel it. Father, don’t look so: you
may bate me, but I’m not afraid.”

“Go home out o’this,” he replied--“be off, and carry your cursed madness
and nonsense somewhere else.”

“Father, here I stand--your own child--your only daughter; look me in
the face--let your eye look into mine, if you can. I challenge you to
it! Now mark my words--you are goin’ to swear a murdher against the head
of a poor and distressed family--to swear it--and, father, you know he
never murdhered Sullivan!”

The Prophet started and became pale, but he did not accept the
challenge.

He looked at her, however, after a struggle to recover his composure,
and there she stood firm--erect; her beautiful face animated with
earnestness, her eyes glowing with singular lustre, yet set, and
sparkling in the increasing moisture which a word or thought would turn
into tears.

“What do you mane, Sarah?” said he, affecting coolness; “What do you
mane? I know! Explain yourself.”

“Father, I will. There was a bad spirit in your face and in your heart
when you said you were sorry; that you repented for consalin’ the
murdher so long; there was, father, a bad spirit in your heart, but no
repentance there!”

“An’ did you come all the way from home to tell me this?”

“No, father, not to tell you what I have said, but, father, dear, what
I am goin’ to say; only first answer me. If he did murdher Sullivan,
was it in his own defence? was it a cool murdher? a cowardly murdher?
because if it was, Condy Dalton is a bad man. But still listen: it’s now
near two-an’-twenty years since the deed was done. I know little about
religion, father; you know that; but still I have heard that God is
willin’ to forgive all men their sins if they repent of them; if they’re
sorry for them. Now, father, it’s well known that for many a long year
Condy Dalton has been in great sorrow of heart for something or other;
can man do more?”

“Go home out o’ this, I say; take yourself away.”

“Oh, who can tell, father, the inward agony and bitther repentance that
that sorrowful man’s heart, maybe, has suffered. Who can tell the tears
he shed, the groans he groaned, the prayers for mercy he said, maybe,
and the worlds he would give to have that man that he killed--only by
a hasty blow, maybe--again alive and well! Father, don’t prosecute him;
leave the poor heartbroken ould man to God! Don’t you see that God has
already taken him an’ his into His hands; hasn’t He punished them a
hundred ways for years? Haven’t they been brought down, step by step,
from wealth an’ respectability, till they’re now like poor beggars, in
the very dust? Oh, think, father, dear father, think of his white
hairs; think of his pious wife, that every one respects; think of his
good-hearted, kind daughters; think of their poverty, and all they have
suffered so long; an’ above all, oh, think, father dear, of what they
will suffer if you are the manes of takin’ that sorrowful white-haired
ould man out from the middle of his poor, but lovin’ and dacent and
respected family, and hangin’ him for an act that he has repented for,
maybe, and that we ought to hope the Almighty himself has forgiven him
for. Father, I go on my knees to you to beg that you won’t prosecute
this ould man; but leave him to God!”

As she uttered the last few sentences, the tears fell in torrents from
her cheeks; but when she knelt--which she did--her tears ceased to
flow, and she looked up into her father’s face with eyes kindled into
an intense expression, and her hands clasped as if her own life and
everlasting salvation depended upon his reply.

“Go home, I desire you,” he replied, with a cold sneer, for he had now
collected himself, and fell back into his habitual snarl; “Go home, I
desire you, or maybe you’d wish to throw yourself in the way of that
young profligate that I was spakin’ to when you came up. Who knows,
affcher all, but that’s your real design, and neither pity nor
compassion for ould Dalton.”

“Am I his daughter?” she replied, whilst she started to her feet, and
her dark eyes flashed with disdain: “Can I be his daughter?”

“I hope you don’t mean to cast a slur upon your--.” He paused a moment
and started as if a serpent had bitten him; but left the word “mother”
 unuttered.

Again she softened, and her eyes filled with tears. “Father, I never had
a mother!” she said.

“No,” he replied; “or if you had, her name will never come through my
lips.”

She looked at him with wonder for a few moments, after which she turned,
and with a face of melancholy and sorrow, proceeded with slow and
meditating steps in the direction of their humble cabin.

Her father, who felt considerably startled by some portions of her
appeal, though by no means softened, again directed his steps towards
the garden gate, where he left young Dick standing. Here he found this
worthy young gentleman awaiting his return, and evidently amazed at the
interview between him and his daughter; for although he had been at too
great a distance to hear their conversation, he could, and did see, by
the daughter’s attitudes, that the subject of their conversation was
extraordinary, and consequently important.

On approaching him, the Prophet now, with his usual coolness, pulled out
the tress which he had, in some manner, got from _Gra Gal_ Sullivan, and
holding it for a time, placed it in Dick’s hands.

“There’s one proof,” said he, alluding to a previous part of their
conversation, “that I wasn’t unsuccessful, and, indeed, I seldom am,
when I set about a thing in earnest.”

“But is it possible,” asked the other, “that she actually gave this
lovely tress willingly--you swear that?”

“As Heaven’s above me,” replied the Prophet, “there never was a ringlet
sent by woman to man with more love than she sent that. Why, the purty
creature actually shed tears, and begged of me to lose no time in givin’
it. You have it now, at all events--an’ only for young Dalton’s outrage,
you’d have had it before now.”

“Then there’s no truth in the report that she’s fond of him?”

“Why--ahem--n--no--oh, no--not now--fond of him she was, no doubt; an’
you know it’s never hard to light a half-burned turf, or a candle
that was lit before. If they could be got out of the counthry, at all
events--these Daltons--it would be so much out of your way, for between,
you an’ me, I can tell you that your life won’t be safe when he comes to
know that you have put his nose out of joint with the _Gra Gal_.”

“It is strange, however, that she should change so soon!”

“Ah, Master Richard! how little you know of woman, when you say so.
They’re a vain, uncertain, selfish crew--women are--there’s no honesty
in them, nor I don’t think there’s a woman alive that could be trusted,
if you only give her temptation and opportunity; none of them will stand
that.”

“But how do you account for the change in her case, I ask?”

“I’ll tell you that. First and foremost, you’re handsome--remarkably
handsome.”

“Come, come, no nonsense, Donnel; get along, will you, ha! ha!
ha!--handsome indeed! Never you mind what the world says--well!”

“Why,” replied the other, gravely, “there’s no use in denyin’ it, you
know; it’s a matther that tells for itself, an’ that a poor girl with
eyes in her head can judge of as a rich one--at any rate, if you’re not
handsome, you’re greatly belied; an’ every one knows that there’s never
smoke without fire.”

“Well, confound you!--since they’ll have it so, I suppose I may as well
admit it--I believe I am a handsome dog, and I have reason to know that,
that----” here he shook his head and winked knowingly: “Oh, come Donnel,
my boy, I can go no further on that subject--ha! ha! ha!”

“There is no dispute about it,” continued Donnel, gravely; “but still
I think, that if it was not for the mention made of the dress, an’
grandeur, and state that she was to come to, she’d hardly turn round
as she did. Dalton, you know, is the handsomest young fellow, barring
yourself, in the parish; an’ troth on your account an’ hers, I wish he
was out of it. He’ll be crossin’ you--you may take my word for it--an’ a
dangerous enemy he’ll prove--that I know.”

“Why? what do you mean?” Here the prophet, who was artfully trying
to fill the heart of his companion with a spirit of jealousy against
Dalton, paused for a moment, as if in deep reflection, after which he
sighed heavily. “Mane!” he at length replied; “I am unhappy in my mind,
an’ I know I ought to do it, an’ yet I’m loth now after sich a length of
time. Mane, did you say, Masther Richard?”

“Yes, I said so, and I say so; what do you mean by telling me that young
Dalton will be a dangerous enemy to me?”

“An’ so he will; an’ so he would to any one that he or his bore ill-will
against. You know there’s blood upon their hands.”

“No, I don’t know any such thing; I believe he was charged with the
murder of Mave Sullivan’s uncle, but as the body could not be found,
there were no grounds for a prosecution. I don’t, therefore, know that
there’s blood upon his hand.”

“Well, then, if you don’t--may God direct! me!” he added, “an’ guide me
to the best--if you don’t, Masther Richard--Heaven direct me agin!--will
I say it?--could you get that family quietly out of the counthry,
Masther Richard? Bekaise if you could, it would be betther, maybe, for
all parties.”

“You seem to know something about these Daltons, Mr. M’Gowan?” asked
Dick, “and to speak mysteriously of them?”

“Well, then, I do,” he replied; “but! what I have to say, I ought to say
it to your father, who is a magistrate.”

The other stared at him with surprise, but said nothing for a minute or
two.

“What is this mystery?” he added at length; “I cannot understand you;
but it is clear that you mean something extraordinary.”

“God pardon me, Masther Richard, but you are right enough. No; I can’t
keep it any longer. Listen to me, sir, for I am goin’ to make a strange
and a fearful discovery; I know who it was that murdhered Sullivan;
I’m in possession of it for near the last two-an’-twenty years; I have
travelled every where; gone to England, to Wales, Scotland, an’
America, but it was all of no use; the knowledge of the murdher! and the
murdherer was here,” he laid his! hand upon his heart as he spoke; “an’
durin’ all that time I had peace neither by night nor by day.”

His companion turned towards him with amazement, and truly his
appearance was startling, if not frightful; he looked as it were into
vacancy; his eyes had become hollow and full of terror; his complexion
assumed the hue of ashes; his voice got weak and unsteady, and his limbs
trembled excessively, whilst from every pore the perspiration came out,
and ran down his ghastly visage in large drops.

“M’Gowan,” said his companion, “this is a dreadful business. As yet you
have said nothing, and from what I see, I advise you to reflect before
you proceed further in it. I think I can guess the nature of your
secret; but even if you went to my father, he would tell you, that you
are not bound to criminate yourself.”

The Prophet, in the mean time, had made an effort to recover himself,
which, after a little time, was successful.

“I believe you think,” he added, with a gloomy and a bitter smile, “that
it was I who committed the murdher; oh no! if it was, I wouldn’t be
apt to hang myself, I think. No! but I must see your father, as a
magistrate; an’ I must make the disclosure to him. The man that did
murdher Sullivan is livin’, and that man is Condy Dalton. I knew of
this, an’ for two-an’-twenty years let that murdherer escape, an’ that
is what made me so miserable an’ unhappy. I can prove what I say; an’ I
know the very spot where he buried Sullivan’s body, an’ where it’s lyin’
to this very day.”

“In that case, then,” replied the other, “you have only one course to
pursue, and that is, to bring Dalton to justice.”

“I know it,” returned the Prophet; “but still I feel that it’s a
hard case to be the means of hangin’ a fellow-crature; but of the two
choices, rather than bear any longer what I have suffered an’ am still
sufferin’, I think it betther to prosecute him.”

“Then go in and see my father at once about it, and a devilish difficult
card you’ll have to play with him; for my part, I think he is mad ever
since Jemmy Branigan left him. In fact, he knows neither what he is
saying or doing without him, especially in some matters; for to tell you
the truth,” he added, laughing, “Jemmy, who was so well acquainted with
the country and every one in it, took much more of the magistrate on him
than ever my father did; and now the old fellow, when left to himself,
is nearly helpless in every sense. He knows he has not Jemmy, and he can
bear nobody else near him or about him.”

“I will see him, then, before I lave the place; an’ now, Masther
Richard, you know what steps you ought to take with regard to _Gra Gal_
Sullivan. As she is willin’ herself, of course there is but one way of
it.”

“Of course I am aware of that,” said Dick; “but still I feel that it’s
devilish queer she should change so soon from Dalton to me.”

“That’s bekaise you know nothing about women,” replied the Prophet.
“Why, Masther Richard, I tell you that a weathercock is constancy itself
compared with them. The notion of you an’ your wealth, an’ grandeur, an’
the great state you’re to keep her in--all turned her brain; an’ as a
proof of it, there you have a lock of her beautiful hair that she gave
me with her own hands. If that won’t satisfy you it’s hard to say what
can; but indeed I think you ought to know by this time o’ day how far
a handsome face goes with them. Give the divil himself but that, and
they’ll take his horns, hooves, and tail into the bargain--ay, will
they.”

This observation was accompanied by a grin so sneering and bitter, that
his companion, on looking at him, knew not how to account for it, unless
by supposing that he must during the course of his life have sustained
some serious or irreparable injury at their hands.

“You appear not to like the women, Donnel; how is that?”

“Like them!” he replied, and as he spoke his face, which had been, a
little before, ghastly with horror, now became black and venomous; “ha!
ha! how is that, you say? oh, no matther now; they’re angels; angels of
perdition; their truth is treachery, an’ their--but no matther. I’ll
now go in an’ spake to your father on this business; but I forgot to
say that I must see _Gra Gal_ soon, to let her know our plans; so do you
make your mind aisy, and lave the management of the whole thing in my
hands.”



CHAPTEE XIV. -- A Middleman Magistrate of the Old School, and his Clerk.


Dick-o’-the-Grange--whose name was Henderson--at least such is the name
we choose to give him--held his office, as many Irish magistrates
have done before him, in his own parlor; that is to say, he sat in an
arm-chair at one of the windows, which was thrown open for him, while
those who came to seek justice, or, as they termed it, law, at his
hands, were compelled to stand uncovered on the outside, no matter
whether the weather was stormy or otherwise. We are not now about
to pronounce, any opinion upon the constitutional spirit of Dick’s
decisions--inasmuch as nineteen out of every twenty of them were come
to by the only “Magistrates’ Guide” he ever was acquainted with--to wit,
the redoubtable Jemmy Branigan. Jemmy was his clerk, and although he
could neither read nor write, yet in cases where his judgments did not
give satisfaction, he was both able and willing to set his mark upon
the discontented parties m a fashion that did not allow his blessed
signature to be easily forgotten. Jemmy, however, as the reader
knows, was absent on the morning we are writing about, having actually
fulfilled his threat of leaving his master’s service--a threat, by the
way, which was held out and acted upon at least once every year since he
and the magistrate had stood to each other in the capacity of master and
servant. Not that we are precisely correct in the statement we had made
on this matter, for sometimes his removal was the result of dismissal
on the part of his master, and sometimes the following up of the notice
which he himself had given him to leave his service. Be this as it may,
his temporary absences always involved a trial of strength between the
parties, as to which of them should hold out, and put a constraint upon
his inclinations the longest; for since the truth must be told of Jemmy,
we are bound to say that he could as badly bear to live removed from the
society of his master, as the latter could live without him. For many
years of his life, he had been threatening to go to America, or to live
with a brother that he had in the Isle of White, as he called it, and on
several occasions he had taken formal leave of the whole family, (always
in the presence of his master, however,) on his departure for either
the one place or the other, while his real abode was a snug old
garret, where he was attended and kept in food by the family and his
fellow-servants, who were highly amused at the outrageous distress of
his master, occasioned sometimes by Jemmy’s obstinate determination to
travel, and sometimes by his extreme brotherly affection.

Donnel, having left his son cracking a long whip which he held in his
hand, and looking occasionally at the tress of Mave Sullivan’s beautiful
hair, approached the hall door, at which he knocked, and on the
appearance of a servant, requested to see Mr. Henderson. The man waived
his hand towards the space under the window, meaning that he should take
his stand there, and added--

“If it’s law you want, I’m afeard you’ll get more abuse than justice
from him now, since Jemmy’s gone.”

The knowing grin, and the expression of comic sorrow which accompanied
the last words, were not lost upon the prophet, who, in common with
every one in the neighborhood for a circumference of many miles, was
perfectly well aware of the life which master and man both led.

“Is that it?” said the prophet; “however, it can’t be helped. Clerk,
or no clerk, I want to see him on sarious business, tell him; but I’ll
wait, of coorse, till he’s at leisure.”

“Tom,” said Henderson from within, “Who’s there?--is that him? If it
is, tell him, confound him! to come in, and I’ll forgive him. If he’ll
promise to keep a civil tongue in his head, I’ll forget all, say. Come
in, you old scoundrel, I’m not angry with you; I want to speak to you,
at all events.”

“It’s not him, sir; it’s only Donnel M’Gowan, the Black Prophet, that
wants some law business.”

“Send him to the devil for law business What brings him here now? Tell
him he shall have neither law nor justice from me. Did you send to his
brother-in-law? May be he’s there?”

“We did, sir. Sorra one of his seed, breed, or generation but we sent
to. However, it’s no use--off to America he’s gone, or to the Isle o’
White, at any rate.”

“May the devil sink America and the Isle of White both in the ocean, an’
you, too; you scoundrel, and all of you! Only for the cursed crew that’s
about me, I’d have him here still--and he the only man that understood
my wants and my wishes, and that could keep me comfortable and easy.”

“Troth, then, he hadn’t an overly civil tongue in his head, sir,”
 replied the man; “for, when you and he, your honor, were together, there
was little harmony to spare between you.”

“That was my own fault, you cur. No servant but himself would have had
a day’s patience with me. He never abused me but when I deserved it--did
he?”

“No, your honor; I know he didn’t, in troth.”

“You lie, you villain, you know no such thing. Here am I with my
sore leg, and no one to dress it for me. Who’s to help me upstairs or
downstairs?--who’s to be about me?--or, who cares for me, now that he’s
gone? Nobody--not a soul.”

“Doesn’t Masther Richard, sir?”

“No sir; Master Richard gives himself little trouble about me. He has
other plots and plans on his hands--other fish to fry--other irons in
the fire. Masther Richard, sirra, doesn’t care a curse if I was under
the sod to-morrow, but would be glad of it; neither does, any one about
me--but he did; and you infernal crew, you have driven him away from
me.”

“We, your honor?”

“Yes, all of you; you put me first out of temper by your neglect and
your extravagance; then I vented it on him, because he was the only
one among you I took any pleasure in abusin’--speaking to. However,
my mind’s made up--I’ll call an auction--sell everything--and live in
Dublin as well as I can. What does that black hound want?”

“Some law business, sir; but I donna what it is.”

“Is the scoundrel honest, or a rogue?”

“Throth it’s more than I’m able to tell your honor, sir. I don’t know
much about him. Some spakes well, and some spakes ill of him--just like
his neighbors--ahem!”

“Ay, an’ that’s all you can say of him? but if he was here, I could soon
ascertain what stuff he’s made of, and what kind of a hearing he ought
to get. However, it doesn’t matter now--I’ll auction everything--in this
grange I won’t live; and to be sure but I was a precious-old scoundrel
to quarrel with the best servant a man ever had.”

Just at this moment, who should come round from a back passage, carrying
a small bundle in his hand, but the object of all his solicitude. He
approached quietly on tiptoe, with a look in which might be read a most
startling and ludicrous expression of anxiety and repentance.

“How is he?” said he--“how is his poor leg? Oh, thin, blessed saints,
but I was the double distilled villain of the airth to leave him as I
did to the crew that was about him! The best masther that ever an ould
vagabond like me was ongrateful to! How is he, Tom?”

“Why,” replied the other, “if you take my advice, you’ll keep from him
at all events. He’s cursin’ an’ abusin’ you ever since you went, and
won’t allow one of us even to name you.”

“Troth, an’ it only shows his sense; for I desarved nothing else at his
hands. However, if what you say is true, I’m afeared he’s not long for
this world, and that his talkin’ sense at last is only the lightening
before death, poor gintleman! I can stay no longer from him, any how,
let him be as he may; an’ God pardon me for my ongratitude in desartin’
him like a villain as I did.”

He then walked into the parlor; and as the prophet was beckoned as far
as the hall, he had an opportunity of witnessing the interview which
took place between this extraordinary pair. Jemmy, before entering,
threw aside his bundle and his hat, stripped off his coat, and in
a moment presented himself in the usual striped cotton jacket, with
sleeves, which he alway’s wore. Old Dick was in the act of letting fly
an oath at something, when Jemmy, walking in, just as if nothing had
happened, exclaimed--

“Why, thin, Mother o’ Moses, is it at the ould work I find you? Troth,
it’s past counsel, past grace wid you--I’m afraid you’re too ould to
mend. In the manetime, don’t stare as if you seen a ghost--only tell us
how is that unfortunate leg of yours?”

“Why--eh?--ay,--oh, ah,--you’re back are you?--an’ what the devil
brought you here again?--eh?”

“Come now, keep yourself quiet, you onpenitent ould sinner, or it’ll be
worse for you. How is your leg?”

“Ah, you provokin’ ould rascal--eh?--so you are back?”

“Don’t you see I am--who would stick to you like myself, afther all?
Troth I missed your dirty tongue, bad as it is--divil a thing but rank
pace and quietness I was ever in since I seen you last.”

“And devil a scoundrel has had the honesty to give me a single word of
abuse to my face since you left me.”

“And how often did I tell you that you couldn’t depind upon the crew
that’s around you--the truth’s not in them--an’ that you ought to know.
However, so far as I am concerned, don’t fret--Grod knows I forgive you
all your folly and _feasthalaga_, (* nonsense,) in hopes always that
you’ll mend your life in many respects. You had meself before you as
an example, though I say it, that ougtn’t to say it, but you know you
didn’t take pattern by me as you ought.”

“Shake hands, Jemmy; I’m glad to see you again; you were put to expense
since you went.”

“No, none; no, I tell you.”

“But I say you were.”

“There, keep yourself quiet now; no I wasn’t; an’ if I was, too, what is
it to you?”

“Here, put that note in your pocket.”

“Sorra bit, now,” replied Jemmy, “to plaise you,” gripping it tightly at
the same time as he spoke; “do you want to vex me again?”

“Put it in your pocket, sirra, unless you want me to break your head.”

“Oh, he would,” said Jemmy, looking with a knowing face of terror
towards Tom Booth and the Prophet,--“it’s the weight of his cane I’d
get, sure enough--but it’s an ould sayin’ an’ a true one, that when the
generosity’s in, it must come out. There now, I’ve put it in my pocket
for you--an’ I hope you’re satisfied. Devil a sich a tyrant in Europe,”
 said he, loudly, “when he wishes--an’ yet, after all,” he added, in
a low, confidential voice, just loud enough for his master to
hear,--“where ‘ud one get the like of him? Tom Booth, desire them to
fetch warm water to the study, till I dress his poor leg, and make him
fit for business.”

“Here is Donnel Dhu,” replied Booth, “waitin’ for law business.”

“Go to the windy, Donnel,” said Jemmy, with an authoritative air; “go to
your ground; but before you do--let me know what you want.”

“I’ll do no such thing,” replied the Prophet; “unless to say, that it’s
a matter of life an’ death.”

“Go out,” repeated Jemmy, with brief and determined authority, “an wait
till it’s his honor’s convanience, his full convanience, to see you. As
dark a rogue, sir,” he continued, having shoved the Prophet outside, and
slapped the door in his face; “and as great a schamer as ever put a coat
on his back. He’s as big a liar too, when he likes, as ever broke bread;
but there’s far more danger in him when he tells the truth, for then you
may be sure he has some devil’s design in view.”

Dick-o’-the-Grange, though vulgar and eccentric, was by no means
deficient in shrewdness and common sense--neither was he, deliberately,
an unjust man; but, like too many in the world, he generally suffered
his prejudices and his interests to take the same side. Having had his
leg dressed, and been prepared by Jemmy for the business of the day, he
took his place, as usual, in the chair of justice, had the window thrown
open, and desired the Prophet to state the nature of his business.

The latter told him that the communication must be a private one, as it
involved a matter of deep importance, being no less than an affair of
life and death.

This startled the magistrate, who, with a kind of awkward embarrassment,
ordered, or rather requested Jemmy to withdraw, intimating that he would
be sent for, if his advice or opinion should be deemed necessary.

“No matther,” replied Jemmy; “the loss will be your own; for sure I know
the nice hand you make of law when you’re left to yourself. Only before
I go, mark my words;--there you stand, Donnel Dhu, an’ I’m tellin’ him
to be on his guard against you--don’t put trust, plaise your honor, in
either his word or his oath--an’ if he’s bringin’ a charge against any
one, give it in favor of his enemy, whoever he is. I hard that he was
wanst tried for robbery, an’ I only wondher it wasn’t for murdher, too;
for in troth and sowl, if ever a man has both one and the other in his
face, he has. It’s known to me that he’s seen now and then colloguin’
an’ skulkin’ behind the hedges, about dusk, wid red Rody Duncan, that
was in twiste for robbery. Troth it’s birds of a feather wid them--and
I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see them both swing from the
same rope yet. So there’s my carrecther of you, you villain,” he added,
addressing M’Gowan, at whom he felt deeply indignant, in consequence of
his not admitting him to the secret of the communication he was about to
make.

Henderson, when left alone with the Prophet, heard the disclosures which
the latter made to him, with less surprise than interest. He himself
remembered the circumstances perfectly well, and knew that on the
occasion of Condy Dalton’s former arrest, appearances had been very
strong against him. It was then expected that he would have disclosed
the particular spot in which the body had been concealed, but as he
strenuously persisted in denying any knowledge of it, and, as the body
consequently could not be produced, they were obliged of necessity to
discharge him, but still under strong suspicions of his guilt.

The interview between Henderson and M’Gowan was a long one; and the
disclosures made were considered of too much importance for the former
to act without the co-operation and assistance of another magistrate. He
accordingly desired the Prophet to come to him on the following day but
one, when he said he would secure the presence of a Major Johnson; who
was also in the commission, and by whose warrant old Condy Dalton had
been originally arrested on suspicion of the murder. It was recommended
that every thing that had transpired between them should be kept
strictly secret, lest the murderer, if made acquainted with the charge
which was about to be brought home to him, should succeed in escaping
from justice. Young Dick, who had been sent for by his father,
recommended this, and on those terms they separated.



CHAPTER XV. -- A Plot and a Prophecy.


Our readers cannot forget a short dialogue which took place between
Charley Hanlon and the strange female, who has already borne some part
in the incidents of our story. It occurred on the morning she had been
sent to convey the handkerchief which Hanlon had promised to Sarah
M’Gowan, in lieu of the Tobacco-Box of which we have so frequently made
mention, and which, on that occasion, she expected to have received from
Sarah. After having inquired from Hanlon why Donnel Dhu was called the
Black Prophet, she asked:

“But could he have anything to do with the murdher?”

To which Hanlon replied, that “he had been thinkin’ about that, an’ had
some talk, this mornin’, wid a man that’s livin’ a long time--indeed,
that was born a little above the place, an’ he says that the Black
Prophet, or M’Gowan, did not come to the neighborhood till afther the
murdher.”

Now this person was no other than Red Rody Duncan, to whom our friend
Jemmy Branigan made such opprobrious allusion in the character of the
Black Prophet to Dick-o’-the-Grange. This man, who was generally known
by the sobriquet of Red Body, had been for some time looking after the
situation of bailiff or driver to Dick-o’-the-Grange; and as Hanlon was
supposed to possess a good deal of influence with young Dick, Duncan
very properly thought he could not do better than cultivate his
acquaintance. This was the circumstance which brought them together at
first, and it was something of a dry, mysterious manner which Hanlon
observed in this fellow, when talking about the Prophet and his
daughter, that caused him to keep up the intimacy between them.

When Donnel Dhu had closed his lengthened conference with Henderson, he
turned his steps homewards, and had got half-way through the lawn, when
he was met by Red Rody. He had, only a minute or two before, left young
Dick, with whom he held another short conversation; and as he met Rody,
Dick was still standing within about a hundred yards of them, cracking
his whip with that easy indolence and utter disregard of everything but
his pleasures, which chiefly constituted his character.

“Don’t stand to spake to me here,” said the Prophet; “that young
scoundrel will see us. Have you tried Hanlon yet, and will he do? Yes or
no?”

“I haven’t tried him, but I’m now on way to do so.”

“Caution!”

“Certainly; I’m no fool, I think. If we can secure him, the business may
be managed aisily; that is, provided the two affairs can come off on the
same night.”

“Caution, I say again.”

“Certainly; I’m no fool, I hope. Pass on.”

The Prophet and he passed each other very slowly during this brief
dialogue; the former, when it was finished, pointing naturally towards
the Grange, or young Dick, as if he I had been merely answering a few
questions respecting some person about the place that the other was
going to see. Having passed the Prophet, he turned to the left, by a
back path that led to the garden, where, in fact, Hanlon was generally
to be found, and where, upon this occasion, he found him. After a good
deal of desultory chat, Rody at last inquired if Hanlon thought there
existed any chance of his procuring the post of bailiff.

“I don’t think there is, then, to tell you the truth,” replied Hanlon;
“old Jemmy is against you bitterly, an’ Masther Richard’s interest in
this business isn’t as strong as his.”

“The blackguard ould villain!” exclaimed Rody; “it will be a good job to
give him a dog’s knock some night or other.”

“I don’t see that either,” replied Hanlon; “Ould Jemmy does a power of
good in his way; and indeed many an act of kindness the master himself
gets credit for that ought to go to Jemmy’s account.”

“But you can give me a lift in the drivership, Charley, if you like.”

“I’m afeard not, so long as Jemmy’s against you.”

“Ay, but couldn’t you thry and twist that ould scoundrel himself in my
favor?”

“Well,” replied the other, “there is something in that, and whatever I
can do with him, I will, if you’ll thry and do me a favor.”

“Me! Name it, man--name it, and it’s done, if it was only to rob the
Grange. Ha! ha! An’ by the way, I dunna what puts robbin’ the Grange
into my head!”

And, as he spoke, his eye was bent with an expression of peculiar
significance on Hanlon.

“No!” replied Hanlon with indifference; “it is not to rob the Grange. I
believe you know something about the man they call the Black Prophet?”

“Donnel Dhu? Why--ahem!--a little--not much. Nobody, indeed, knows or
cares much about him. However, like most people, he has his friends and
his enemies.”

“Don’t you remember a murdher that was committed here about
two-and-twenty-years ago?”

“I do.”

“Was that before or afther the Black Prophet came to live in this
counthry?”

“Afther it--afther it. No, no!’” he replied, correcting himself; “I am
wrong; it was before he came here.”

“Then he could have had no hand in it?”

“Him! Is it him! Why, what puts such a thing as that into your head’?”

“Faith, to tell you the truth, Rody, his daughter Sarah an’ myself is
beginnin’ to look at one another; an’, to tell you the truth again, I’d
wish to know more about the same Prophet before I become his son-in-law,
as I have some notion of doin’.”

“I hard indeed that you wor pullin’ a string wid her, an’ now that I
think of it, if you give me a lift wid ould Jemmy, I’ll give you one
there. The bailiff’s berth is jist the thing for me; not havin’ any
family of my own, you see I could have no objection to live in the
Grange, as their bailiff always did; but, aren’t you afeard to tackle
yourself to that divil’s clip, Sarah?”

“Well, I don’t know,” replied the other; “I grant it’s a hazard, by all
accounts.”

“An’ yet” continued Rody, “she’s a favorite with every one; an’ indeed
there’s not a more generous or kinder-hearted creature alive this day
than she is. I advise you, however, not to let her into your saicrets,
for if it was the knockin’ of a man on the head and that she knew it,
and was asked about it, out it would go, rather than she’d tell a lie.”

“They say she’s handsomer than _Gra Gal_ Sullivan,” said Hanlon; “and I
think myself she is.”

“I don’t know; it’s a dead tie between them; however, I can give you
a lift with her father, but not with herself, for somehow, she doesn’t
like a bone in my skin.”

“She and I made a swop,” proceeded Hanlon, “some time ago, that ‘ud take
a laugh out o’ you: I gave her a pocket-hand-kerchy; and she was to give
me an ould Tobaccy-Box--but she says she can’t find it, altho’ I
have sent for it, an’ axed it myself several times. She thinks the
step-mother has thrown it away or hid it somewhere.”

Body looked at him inquiringly.

“A Tobaccy-Box,” he exclaimed; “would you like to get it?”

“Why,” replied Hanlon, “the poor girl has nothing else to give, an’ I’d
like to have something from her, even if a ring never was to go on us,
merely as a keepsake.”

“Well, then,” replied Duncan, with something approaching to solemnity
in his voice, “mark my words--you promise to give me a lift for the
drivership with old Jemmy and the two Dicks?”

“I do.”

“Well, then, listen: If you will be at the Grey Stone to-morrow night at
twelve o’clock--midnight--I’ll engage that Sarah will give you the box
there.”

“Why, in troth, Eody, to tell you the truth if she could give it to me
at any other time an’ place, I’d prefer it. That Grey Stone is a wild
place to be in at midnight.”

“It is a wild place; still it’s there, an’ nowhere else, that you must
get the box. And now that the bargain’s made, do you think it’s
thrue that this old Hendherson”--here he looked very cautiously about
him--“has as much money as they say he has?”

“I b’lieve he’s very rich.”

“It is thrue that he airs the bank notes in the garden here, and turns
the guineas in the sun, for fraid--for fraid--they’d get blue-mowled--is
it?”

“It may, for all I know; but it’s more than I’ve seen yet.”

“An’ now between you and me, Charley--whisper--I say, isn’t it a
thousand pities--nobody could hear us, surely?”

“Nonsense--who could hear us?”

“Well, isn’t it a thousand pities, Charley, avia, that dacent fellows,
like you and me, should be as we are, an’ that mad ould villain havin’
his house full ‘o money? eh, now?”

“It’s a hard case,” replied Hanlon, “but still we must put up with our
lot. His father I’m tould was as poor in the beginnin’ as either of us.”

“Ay, but it’s the son we’re spakin about--the ould tyrannical villain
that dhrives an’ harries the poor! He has loads of money in the house,
they say--eh?”

“Divil a know myself knows, Rody:--nor--not makin’ you an ill
answer--divil a hair myself cares, Rody. Let him have much, or let him
have little, that’s your share an’ mine of it.”

“Charley, they say America’s a fine place; talkin’ about money--wid a
little money there, they say a man could do wondhers.”

“Who says that?”

“Why Donnel Dhu, for one; an’ he knows, for he was there.”

“I b’lieve that Donnel was many a place;--over half the world, if all’s
thrue.”

“Augh! the same Donnel’s a quare fellow--a deep chap--a cute follow;
but, I know more about him than you think--ay, do I.”

“Why, what do you know?”

“No matther--a thing or two about the same Donnel; an’ by the same
token, a betther fellow never lived--an’ whisper--you’re a strong
favorite wid him, that I know, for we wor talkin’ about you. In the
meantime I wish to goodness we had a good scud o’ cash among us, an’ we
safe an’ snug in America! Now shake hands an’ good bye--an’ mark me--if
you dhrame of America an’ a long purse any o’ these nights, come to me
an’ I’ll riddle your dhrame for you.”

He then looked Hanlon significantly in the face, wrung his hand, and
left him to meditate on the purport of their conversation.

The latter as he went out gazed at him with a good deal of surprise.

“So,” thought he, “you were feelin’ my pulse, were you? I don’t think
it’s hard to guess whereabouts you are; however I’ll think of your
advice at any rate, an’ see what good may be in it. But, in the name of
all that’s wondherful, how does it come to pass that that red ruffian
has sich authority over Sarah M’Gowan as to make her fetch me the very
thing I want?--that tobacco-box; an’ at sich a place, too, an’ sich an
hour! An’ yet he says that she doesn’t like a bone in his skin, which
I b’lieve! I’m fairly in the dark here; however time will make it all
clear, I hope; an’ for that we must wait.”

He then resumed his employment.

Donnel Dhu, who was a man of much energy and activity, whenever his
purposes required it, instead of turning his steps homewards, directed
them to the house of our kind friend Jerry Sullivan, with whose
daughter, the innocent and unsuspecting Mave, it was his intention to
have another private interview. During the interval that had elapsed
since his last journey to the house of this virtuous and hospitable
family, the gloom that darkened the face of the country had become
awful, and such as wofully bore out to the letter the melancholy truth
of his own predictions. Typhus fever had now set in, and was filling the
land with fearful and unexampled desolation. Famine, in all cases the
source and origin of contagion, had done, and was still doing, its work.
The early potato crop, for so far as it had come in, was a pitiable
failure; the quantity being small, and the quality watery and bad. The
oats, too, and all early grain of that season’s growth, were still more
deleterious as food, for it had all fermented and become sour, so that
the use of it, and of the bad potatoes, too, was the most certain means
of propagating the pestilence which was sweeping away the people in such
multitudes. Scarcely any thing presented itself to him as he went along
that had not some melancholy association with death or its emblems. To
all this, however, he paid little or no attention. When a funeral met
him, he merely turned back three steps in the direction it went, as was
usual; but unless he happened to know the family from which death had
selected its victim, he never even took the trouble of inquiring who
it was they bore to the grave--a circumstance which strongly proved
the utter and heartless selfishness of the man’s nature. On arriving
at Sullivan’s, however, he could not help feeling startled, hard and
without sympathy as was his heart, at the wild and emaciated evidences
of misery and want which a couple of weeks’ severe suffering had
impressed upon them. The gentle Mave herself, patient and uncomplaining
as she was, had become thin and cheerless; yet of such a character was
the sadness that rested upon her, that it only added a mournful and
melancholy charm to her beauty--a charm that touched the heart of the
beholder at once with love and compassion. As yet there had been no
sickness among them; but who could say to-day that he or she might not
be stricken down at once before to-morrow.

“Donnel,” said Sullivan, after he had taken a seat, “how you came to
prophecy what would happen, an’ what has happened, is to me a wondher;
but sure enough, _fareer gair_, (* bitter misfortune) it has all come to
pass.”

“I can’t tell myself,” replied the other, “how I do it; all I know is,
that the words come into my mouth, an’ I can’t help spakin’ them. At
any rate, that’s not surprisin’. I’m the seventh son of the seventh son,
afther seven generations; that is I’m the seventh seventh son that was
in our family; an’ you must know that the knowledge increases as they go
on. Every seventh son knows more than thim that wint before him till
it comes to the last, and he knows more than thim all. There were six
seventh sons before me, so that I’m the last; for it was never known
since the world began that ever more than seven afther one another had
the gift of prophecy in the same family. That’s the raison, you see,
that I have no sons--the knowledge ends wid me.”

“It’s very strange,” replied Sullivan, “an’ not to be accounted for by
any one but God--glory be to his name!”

“It is strange--an’ when I find that I’m goin’ to foretell any thing
that’s bad or unlucky, I feel great pain or uneasiness in my mind--but
on the other hand, when I am to prophesy what’s good, I get quite
light-hearted and aisy--I’m all happiness. An’ that’s the way I feel
now, an’ has felt for the last day or two.”

“I wish to God, Donnel,” said Mrs. Sullivan, “that you could prophesize
something good for us.”

“Or,” continued her charitable and benevolent husband, “for the
thousands of poor creatures that wants it more still than we do--sure
it’s thankful to the Almighty we ought to be--an’ is, I hope--that
this woful sickness hasn’t come upon us yet. Even Condy Dalton an’
his family--ay, God be praised for givin’ me the heart to do it--I can
forgive him and them.”

“Don’t say them, Jerry ahagur,” observed his wife, “we never had any bad
feelin’ against them.”

“Well, well,” continued the husband, “I can forgive him an’ all o’
them now--for God help them, they’re in a state of most heart-breakin’
distitution, livin’ only upon the bits that the poor starvin’ neighbors
is able to crib from their own hungry mouths for them!” And here the
tears--the tears that did honor not only to him, but to human nature
and his country--rolled slowly down his emaciated cheeks, for the deep
distress to which the man that he believed to be the murdherer of his
brother had been.

“Indeed, Donnel,” said Mrs. Sullivan, “it would be a hard an’
uncharitable heart that wouldn’t relent if it knew what they are
suffering. Young Con is jist risin’ out of the faver that was in the
family, and it would wring your--”

A glance at Mave occasioned her to pause. The gentle girl, upon whom
the Prophet had kept his eye during the whole conversation, had been
reflecting, in her wasted but beautiful features, both the delicacy and
depth of the sympathy that had been expressed for the unhappy Daltons.
Sometimes she became pale as ashes, and again her complexion assumed the
subdued hue of the wild rose; for--alas that we must say it--sorrow and
suffering--in other words, want, in its almost severest form, had
thrown its melancholy hue over the richness of her blush--which, on this
occasion, borrowed a delicate grace from distress itself. Such, indeed,
was her beauty, and so gently and serenely did her virtues shine
through it, that it mattered not to what condition of calamity they
were subjected; in every situation they seemed to shed some new and
unexpected charm upon the eyes of those who looked upon her. The mother,
we said on glancing at her, paused--but the chord of love and sorrow had
been touched, and poor Mave, unable any longer to restrain her feelings,
burst out into tears, and wept aloud on heading the name and sufferings
of her lover. Her father looked at her, and his brow got sad; but there
was no longer the darkness of resentment or indignation there; so true
is it that suffering chastens the heart into its noblest affections, and
purges it of the gloomier and grosser passions.

“Poor Mave,” he exclaimed, “when I let the tears down for the man that
has my doother’s blood on his hands, it’s no wonder you, should cry for
him you love so well.”

“Oh, dear father,” she exclaimed, throwing herself into his arms, and
embracing him tenderly, “I feel no misery nor sorrow now--the words you
have spoken have made me happy. All these sufferings will pass away;
for it cannot be but God will, sooner or later, reward your piety and
goodness. Oh, if I could do anything for--for--for any one,” and she
blushed as she spoke; “but I cannot. There is nothing here that I can
do at home; but if I could go out and work by the day, I’d do it an’ be
happy, in ordher to help the--that---family that’s now brought so low,
and that’s so much to be pitied!”

We have already said that the Prophet’s eye had been bent upon her ever
since he came into the house, but it was with an expression of benignity
and affection which, notwithstanding the gloomy character of his
countenance, no one could more plausibly or willingly assume.

Mave, in the mean time, could scarcely bear to look upon him; and it was
quite clear from her manner that she had, since their last mysterious
interview, once more fallen back into those feelings of strong aversion
with which she had regarded him at first. M’Gowan saw this, and without
much difficulty guessed at the individual who had been instrumental in
producing the change.

“God pardon an’ forgive me,” he exclaimed, as if giving unconscious
utterance to his I own reflections--“for what I had thoughts of about
that darlin’ an’ lovely girl; but sure I’ll make it up to her; an’,
indeed, I feel the words of goodness that’s to befall her breakin’ out
o’ my lips. _A colleen dhas_, I had some private discoorse wid you
when I was here last, an’ will you let me spake a few words to you by
ourselves agin?”

“No,” she replied, “I’ll hear nothing from you: I don’t like you--I
can’t like you, an’ I I’ll hold no private discoorse with you.”

“Oh, then, but that voice is music itself, an’ you are, by all accounts,
the best of girls; I but sure we have all turned over a new leaf, poor
child. I discovered how I was taken in an’ dasaved; but sure I can’t ait
you--an’ a sweet morsel you’d be, _a lanna dhas_--nor’ can I run away
wid you--an’ I seen the day that it’s not my heart would hinder me to
do that same. Oh, my goodness, what a head o’ hair! an’ talkin’ about
that--you undherstand--I’d like to have a word or two wid yourself.’

“Say whatever you have to say before my father and mother, then,” she
replied; “I have no--” she paused a moment and seemed embarrassed. The
Prophet, who skilfully threw in the allusion to her hair, guessed the
words she was on the point of uttering, and availing’ himself of her
difficulty, seemed to act as if she had completed what she was about to
say.

“I know, dear,” he added, “you have no saicrets from them: I’m glad to
hear it, an’ for that raison I’m willin’ to say what I had to say in
their presence; so far as I’m concerned, it makes no difference.”

The allusion to her hair; added to the last observations, reminded her
that it might be possible that he had some message from her lover, and
she consequently seemed to waver a little, as if struggling against her
strong, instinctive abhorrence of him.

“Don’t be afeard, Mave dear,” said her mother, “sure, poor honest Donnel
wishes you well, an’ won’t prophesize any harm to you. Go with him.”

“Do, achora,” added the father; “Donnel can have nothing to say to you
that can have any harm in it--go for a minute or two, since he wishes
it.”

Reluctantly, and with an indomitable feeling against the man, she went
out, and stood under the shelter of a little elder hedge that adjoined
the house.

“Now, tell me,” she asked, quickly, “what is it you have to say to me?”

“I gave young Condy Dalton the purty ringlet of hair you sent him.”

“What did he say?” she inquired.

“Not much,” he replied, “till I tould him it was the last token that
ever you could send him afther what your father said to you.”

“Well?”

“Why, he cursed your father, an’ said he desirved to get his neck
broke.”

“I don’t believe that,” she replied, “I know he never said them words,
or anything like them. Don’t mislead me, but tell me what he did say.”

“Ah! poor Mave,” he replied, “you little know what hot blood runs in the
Daltons’ veins. He said very little that was creditable to himself--an’
indeed I won’t repate it--but it was enough to make any girl of spirit
have done wid him.”

“An’ don’t you know,” she replied, mournfully, “that I have done with
him; an’ that there never can be anything but sorrow and good will
between us? Wasn’t that my message to him by yourself?”

“It was, dear, an’ I hope you’re still of the same mind.”

“I am,” she said; “but you are not tellin’ me the truth about him. He
never spoke disrespectfully of my father or me.”

“No, indeed, asthore, he did not then--oh, the sorra syllable--oh no;
if I said so, don’t believe me.” And yet the very words he uttered, in
consequence of the meaning which, they received from his manner, made an
impression directly the reverse of their natural import.

“Well then,” she said, “that’s all you have to say to me?”

“No,” he replied, “it is not; I want to know from you when you’ll be
goin’ to your uncle’s, at Mullaghmore.”

“To-morrow,” replied the artless and unsuspicious girl, without a
moment’s hesitation.

“Well, then,” said he, “you pass the Grey Stone, at the foot of
Mallybenagh--of coorse, I know you must. Now, my dear Mave, I want to
show you that I have some insight into futurity. What hour will you pass
it at?”

“About three o’clock, as near as I think; it may be a little more or a
little less.”

“Very well, acushlee; when you pass the Grey Stone about a few hundred
yards on the right hand side, the first person you will meet will be
a young man, well made, and very handsome. That young man will be the
person, whosoever he is--an’ I don’t know myself--that will bring you
love, and wealth, and happiness, and all that a woman can wish to have
with a man. Nor, dear, if this doesn’t happen, never b’lieve anything
I say again; but if this does happen, I hope you’ll have good sense,
_acushla machree_, to be guided by one that’s your true friend--an’
that’s myself. The first person you meet, afther passin’ the Grey Stone,
on your right hand side; remember the words. I know there’s great luck
an’ high fortune before you; for, indeed, your beauty an’ goodness well
desarves it, an’ they’ll get both.”

They then returned into the house; Mave somewhat surprised, but no
way relieved, while the Prophet seemed rather in better spirits by the
interview.

“Now, Jerry Sullivan,” said he, “an’ you, Bridget his wife, lend your
ears an’ listen. The heart of Prophet is full of good to you and yours,
and the good must come to his lips, and flow from them when it comes.
There are three books known to the wise: the Book of Marriage, the
Book of Death, and the Book of Judgment. Open a leaf, says the Angel
of Marriage--the Garden Angel of Jericho--where he brings all love,
happiness and peace to; open a’ leaf, says the Angel of Marriage--him
that has one head and ten horns--and read us a page of futurity from
the prophecy of St. Nebbychodanazor, the divine. The child is a faymale
child, says the angel with one head and ten horns--by name Mabel
Sullivan, daughter to honest Jerry Sullivan and his daicent wife
Bridget, of Aughnamurrin. Amin, says the Prophet. Time is not tide, nor
is tide time, and neither will wait for man. Three things will happen.
A girl, young and handsome, will walk forth upon the highway, and
there she will meet a man, young and handsome too, who will rise her to
wealth, happiness and grandeur. So be it, says the Book of Marriage, and
amin, agin, says the Prophet. Open a new leaf, says Nebbychodanazor, the
divine; a new leaf in the Book of Judgment, and another in the Book of
Death. A man was killed and his body hid, and a man lived with his blood
upon him. Fate is fate, and Justice is near. For years he will keep
the murther to himself, till a man’s to come that will bring him to
judgment. Then will judgment be passed, and the Book of Death will be
opened. Read, says the Prophet; it is done at last; Judgment is passed,
and Death follows; the innocent is set free, and the murdherer that
consaled the murdher so long swings at last; and all these things is to
be found by the Wise in the Books of Marriage, Death, and Judgment. He
then added, as he had done at the conclusion of his former prophecy:

“Be kind and indulgent to your daughter, for she’ll soon make all your
fortunes; an’ take care of her and yourselves till I see yez again.”

As before, he gave them no further opportunity of asking for
explanations, but immediately departed; and as if he had been moved by
some new impulse or afterthought, he directed his steps once more to the
Grange, where he saw young Henderson, with whom he had another private
interview, of the purport of which our readers may probably form a
tolerably accurate conjecture.



CHAPTER XVI. -- Mysterious Disappearance of the Tobacco-box.


M’Gowan’s mind, at this period of our narrative, was busily engaged in
arranging his plans--for we need scarcely add here, that whether founded
on justice or not, he had more than one ripening. Still there preyed
upon him a certain secret anxiety, from which, by no effort, could he
succeed in ridding himself. The disappearance of the Tobacco-box kept
him so ill at ease and unhappy, that he resolved, on his way home, to
make a last effort at finding it out, if it could be done; and many a
time did he heartily curse his own stupidity for ever having suffered
it to remain in his house or about it, especially when it was so easy
to destroy it. His suspicions respecting it most certainly rested upon.
Nelly, whom he now began to regard with a feeling of both hatred and
alarm. Sarah, he knew, had little sympathy with him; but then he
also knew that there existed less in common between her and Nelly. He
thought, therefore, that his wisest plan would be to widen the breach of
ill-feeling between them more and more, and thus to secure himself, if
possible, of Sarah’s co-operation and confidence, if not from affection
or good feeling towards himself, at least from ill-will towards her
step-mother. For this reason, therefore, as well as for others of equal,
if not of more importance, he came to the determination of taking, to a
certain extent, Sarah into his confidence, and thus making not only her
quickness and activity, but her impetuosity and resentments, useful to
his designs. It was pretty late that night, when he reached home; and,
as he had devoted the only portion of his time that remained between
his arrival and bed-time, to a description of the unsettled state of the
country, occasioned by what were properly called the Famine Outrages,
that were then beginning to take place, he made no allusion to anything
connected with his projects, to either Nelly or his daughter, the
latter of whom, by the way, had been out during the greater part of the
evening. The next morning, however, he asked her to take a short stroll
with him along the river, which she did; and both returned, after having
had at least an hour’s conversation--Sarah, with a flushed cheek and
indignant eye, and her father, with his brow darkened, and his voice
quivering from suppressed resentment; so that, so far as observation
went, their interview and communication had not been very agreeable on
either side. After breakfast, Sarah put on her cloak and bonnet, and was
about to go out, when her father said--

“Pray, ma’am, where are you goin’ now?”

“It doesn’t signify,” she replied; “but at all events you needn’t ax me,
for I won’t tell you.”

“What kind of answer is that to give me? Do you forget that I’m your
father?”

“I wish I could; for indeed I am sorry you are.”

“Oh, you know,” observed Nelly, “she was always a dutiful girl--always
a quiet good crathur. Why, you onbiddable sthrap, what kind o’ an answer
is that to give to your father?”

Ever since their stroll that morning, Sarah’s eyes had been turned from
time to time upon her step-mother with flash after flash of burning
indignation, and now that she addressed her, she said--

“Woman, you don’t know how I scorn you! Oh, you mane an’ wicked wretch,
had you no pride during all your life! It’s but a short time you an’
I will be undher the same roof together--an’ so far as I am consarned,
I’ll not stoop ever to bandy abuse or ill tongue with you again. I know
only one other person that is worse an’ meaner still than you are--an’
there, I am sorry to say, he stands in the shape of my father.”

She walked out of the cabin with a flushed check, and a step that was
full of disdain, and a kind of natural pride that might almost be termed
dignity. Both felt rebuked; and Nelly, whose face got blanched and pale
at Sarah’s words, now turned upon the Prophet with a scowl.”

“Would it be possible,” said she, “that you’d dare to let out anything
to that madcap?”

“Now,” said he, “that the coast is clear, I desire you to answer me a
question that I’ll put to you--an’ mark my words--by all that s above
us, an’ undher us, an’ about us, if you don’t spake thruth, I’ll be apt
to make short work of it.”

“What is it?” she inquired, looking at him with cool and collected
resentment, and an eye that was perfectly fearless.

“There was a Tobaccy-Box about this house, or in this house. Do you know
anything about it?”

“A tobaccy-box--is it?”

“Ay, a tobaccy-box.”

“Well, an’ what about it? What do you want wid it? An ould, rusty
Tobaccy-box; musha, is that what’s throublin’ you this mornin’?”

“Come,” said he darkening, “I’ll have no humbuggin’--answer me at wanst.
Do you know anything about it?”

“Is it about your ould, rusty Tobaccy-box? Arrah, what ‘ud I know about
it? What the sorra would a man like you do wid a Tobaccy-box, that
doesn’t ever smoke? Is it mad or ravin’ you are? Somehow I think the
stroll you had wid the vagabone gipsy of a daughter of yours, hasn’t put
you into the best of timper, or her aither. I hope you didn’t act the
villain on me: for she looks at me as if she could ait me widout salt.
But, indeed, she’s takin’ on her own hands finely of late; she’s gettin’
too proud to answer me now when I ax her a question.”

“Well, why don’t you ax her as you ought?”

“She was out all yesterday evenin’, and when I said ‘You idle sthrap,
where wor you?’ she wouldn’t even think it worth her while to give me an
answer, the vagabone.”

“Do you give me one in the manetime. What about the Box I want? Spake
the truth, if you regard your health.”

“I know nothing about your box, an’ I wish I could say as much of
yourself. However, I won’t long trouble you, that I can tell you--ay,
an’ her too. She needn’t fear that I’ll be long undher the same roof wid
her. I know, any way, I wouldn’t be safe. She would only stick me in one
of her fits, now that she’s able to fight me.”

“Now, Nelly,” said the Prophet, deliberately shutting the door, “I know
you to be a hardened woman, that has little fear in your heart. I think
you know me, too, to be a hardened and a determined man. There, now,
I have shut an’ boulted the door an’ by Him that made me, you’ll never
lave this house, nor go out of that door a livin’ woman, unless you
tell me all you know about that Tobaccy-Box. Now you know my mind an’ my
coorse--act as you like now.”

“Ha, ha, ha! Do you think to frighten me?” she asked, laughing
derisively. “Me!--oh, how much you’re mistaken, if you think so! Not
that I don’t believe you to be dangerous, an’ a man that one ought to
fear; but I have no fear of you.”

“Answer me quickly,” he replied--and as he spoke, he seized the very
same knife from which she had so narrowly escaped in her conflict with
Sarah--“answer me, I say; an’ mark, I have no reason to wish you alive.”

And as he spoke, the glare in his eyes flashed and became fearful.

“Ah,” said she, “there’s your daughter’s look an’ the same knife, too,
that was near doin’ for me wanst. Well, don’t think that it’s fear makes
me say what I’m goin’ to say; but that’s the same knife; an’ besides
I dhramed last night that I was dressed in a black cloak--an’ a black
cloak, they say, is death! Ay, death--an’ I know I’m not fit to die, or
to meet judgment, an’ you know that too. Now, then, tell me what it is
you want wid the Box.”


[Illustration: PAGE 847-- I’ll tell you nothing about it]


“No,” he replied, sternly and imperatively, “I’ll tell you nothing about
it; but get it at wanst, before my passion rises higher and deadlier.”

“Well, then, mark me, I’m not afeard of you--but I have the box.”

“An’ how did you come by it?” he asked.

“Sarah was lookin’ for a cobweb to stop the blood where she cut me in
our fight the other day, an’ it came tumblin’ out of a cranny in the
wall.”

“An’ where is it now?”

“I’ll get it for you,” she replied; “but you must let me out first.”

“Why so?”

“Because it’s not in the house.”

“An’ where is it? Don’t think you’ll escape me.”

“It’s in the thatch o’ the roof.”

The Prophet deliberately opened the door, and catching her by the
shoulder, held her prisoner, as it were, until she should make her words
good. The roof was but low, and she knew the spot too well to make any
mistake about it.

“Here,” said she, “is the cross I scraped on the stone undher the
place.”

She put up her hand as she spoke, and searched the spot--but in vain.
There certainly was the cross as she had marked it, and there was the
slight excavation under the thatch where it had been; but as for the box
itself, all search for it was fruitless--it had disappeared.



CHAPTER XVII. -- National Calamity--Sarah in Love and Sorrow.

The astonishment of the Prophet’s wife on discovering that the
Tobacco-box had been removed from the place of its concealment was too
natural to excite any suspicion of deceit or falsehood on her part, and
he himself, although his disappointment was dreadful on finding that it
had disappeared, at once perceived that she had been perfectly ignorant
of its removal. With his usual distrust and want of confidence, however,
he resolved to test her truth a little further, lest by any possibility
she might have deceived him.

“Now, Nelly,” said he sternly, “mark me--is this the way you produce
the box? You acknowledge that you had it--that you hid it even--an’
now, when I tell you I want it, an’ that it may be a matther of life an’
death to me--you purtend its gone, an’ that you know nothing about it--I
say again, mark me well--produce the box!”

“Here,” she replied, chafed and indignant as well at its disappearance
as at the obstinacy of his suspicions--“here’s my throat--dash your
knife into it, if you like--but as for the box, I tell you, that
although I did put it in there, you know as much about it now as I do.”

“Well,” said he, “for wanst I believe you--but mark me still--this box
munt be gotten, an’ it’s to you I’ll look for it. That’s all--you know
me.”

“Ay,” she replied, “I know you.”

“Eh--what do you mane by that?” he asked--“what do you know? come now; I
say, what do you know?”

“That you’re a hardened and a bad man:--oh! you needn’t brandish your
knife--nor your eyes needn’t blaze up that way, like your daughter’s,”
 she added, “except that you’re hard an’ dark, and widout one spark o’
common feelin’, I know nothin’ particularly wicked about you--but, at
the same time, I suspect enough.”

“What do you suspect, you hardened vagabond?”

“It doesn’t matther what I suspect,” she answered; “only I think you’d
have bad heart for anything--so go about your business, for I want to
have nothing more either to do or say to you--an’ I wish to glory I had
been always of that way o’ thinkin’, _a chiernah!_--many a scalded heart
I’d a missed that I got by you.”

She then walked into the cabin, and the Prophet slowly followed her with
his fixed, doubtful and suspicious eye, after which he flung the knife
on the threshold, and took his way, in a dark and disappointed mood,
towards Glendhu.

It is impossible for us here to detail the subject matter of his
reflections, or to intimate to our readers how far his determination
to bring Condy Dalton to justice originated in repentance for having
concealed his knowledge of the murder, or in some other less justifiable
state of feeling. At this moment, indeed, the family of the Daltons wore
in anything but a position to bear the heavy and terrible blow which was
about to fail upon them. Our readers cannot forget the pitiable state in
which we left them, during that distressing crisis of misery, when the
strange woman arrived with the oat-meal, which the kind-hearted Mave
Sullivan had so generously sent them. On that melancholy occasion her
lover complained of being ill, and, unfortunately, the symptoms were,
in this instance, too significant of the malady which followed them.
Indeed, it would be an infliction of unnecessary pain to detail here the
sufferings which this unhappy family had individually and collectively
borne. Young Condy, after a fortnight’s prostration from typhus fever,
was again upon his legs, tottering about, as his father had been, in
a state of such helplessness between want of food on the one hand, and
illness on the other, as it is distressing even to contemplate. If,
however, the abstract consideration of it, even at a distance, be a
matter of such painful retrospect to the mind, what must not the actual
endurance of that and worse have been to the thousands upon thousands
of families who were obliged, by God’s mysterious dispensation, to
encounter these calamities in all their almost incredible and hideous
reality.

At this precise period, the state of the country was frightful beyond
belief; for it is well known that the mortality of the season we
are describing was considerably greater than that which even cholera
occasioned in its worst and most malignant ravages. Indeed, the latter
was not attended by such a tedious and lingering train of miseries
as that, which in so many woful shapes, surrounded typhus fever.
The appearance of cholera was sudden, and its operations quick, and
although, on that account, it was looked upon with tenfold terror, yet
for this very reason, the consequences which it produced were by no
means so full of affliction and distress, nor presented such strong and
pitiable claims on human aid and sympathy as did those of typhus. In the
one case, the victim was cut down by a sudden stroke, which occasioned
a shock or moral paralysis both to himself and the survivors--especially
to the latter--that might, be almost said to neutralize its own
inflictions. In the other, the approach was comparatively so slow and
gradual, that all the sympathies and afflictions were allowed full
and painful time to reach the utmost limits of human suffering, and
to endure the wasting series of those struggles and details which
long illness, surrounded by destitution and affliction, never fails to
inflict. In the cholera, there was no time left to feel--the passions
were wrenched and stunned by a blow, which was over, one may say,
before it could be perceived; while in the wide-spread but more tedious
desolation of typhus, the heart was left to brood over the thousand
phases of love and misery which the terrible realities of the one,
joined to the alarming exaggerations of the other, never failed to
present. In cholera, a few hours, and all was over; but in the awful
fever which then prevailed, there was the gradual approach--the
protracted illness--the long nights of racking pain--day after day of
raging torture--and the dark period of uncertainty when the balance of
human life hangs in the terrible equilibrium of suspense--all requiring
the exhibition of constant attention--of the eye whose affection
never sleeps--the ear that is deaf only to every sound but the moan
of pain--the touch whose tenderness is felt as a solace, so long as
suffering itself is conscious--the pressure of the aching head--the
moistening of the parched and burning lips--and the numerous and
indescribable offices of love and devotedness, which always encompass,
or should encompass, the bed of sickness and of death. There was, we
say, all this, and much more than the imagination itself, unaided by
a severe acquaintance with the truth, could embody in its gloomiest
conceptions.

In fact, Ireland during the season, or rather the year, we are
describing, might be compared to one vast lazar-house filled with
famine, disease and death. The very skies of Heaven were hung with the
black drapery of the grave; for never since, nor within the memory of
man before it, did the clouds present shapes of such gloomy and funereal
import. Hearses, coffins, long funeral processions, and all the dark
emblems of mortality were reflected, as it were, on the sky, from the
terrible work of pestilence and famine, which was going forward on the
earth beneath them. To all this, the thunder and lightning too, were
constantly adding their angry peals, and flashing, as if uttering the
indignation of Heaven against our devoted people; and what rendered such
fearful manifestations ominous and alarming to the superstitious, was
the fact of their occurrence in the evening and at night--circumstances
which are always looked upon With unusual terror and dismay.

To any person passing through the country, such a combination of
startling and awful appearances was presented as has probably never been
witnessed since. Go where you might, every object reminded you of the
fearful desolation that was progressing around you. The features of the
people were gaunt, their eyes wild and hollow, and their gait feeble and
tottering. Pass through the fields, and you were met by little groups
bearing home on their shoulders, and that with difficulty, a coffin, or
perhaps two of them. The roads were literally black with funerals, and
as you passed along from parish to parish, the death-bells were pealing
forth, in slow but dismal tones, the gloomy triumph which pestilence
was achieving over the face of our devoted country--a country that each
successive day filled with darker desolation and deeper mourning.

Nor was this all. The people had an alarmed and unsettled aspect; and
whether you met them as individuals or crowds, they seemed, when closely
observed, to labor under some strong and insatiable want that rendered
them almost reckless. The number of those who were reduced to mendicancy
was incredible, and if it had not been for the extraordinary and
unparalleled exertions of the clergy of all creeds, medical, men,
and local committees, thousands upon thousands would have perished of
disease or hunger on the highways. Many, indeed, did so perish; and it
was no unusual sight to meet the father and mother, accompanied by their
children, going they knew not whither, and to witness one or other
of them lying down on the road side; and well were they off who could
succeed in obtaining a sheaf of straw, on which, as a luxury, to lay
down their aching head, that was never more to rise from it, until
borne, in a parish shell, to a shallow and hasty grave.

Temporary sheds were also erected on the road sides, or near them,
containing fever-stricken patients, who had no other-home; and when they
were released, at last, from their sorrows, nothing was more common than
to place the coffin on the road side also, with a plate on the lid of
it, in order to solicit, from those who passed, such aid as they could
afford to the sick or starving survivors.

That, indeed, was the trying and melancholy period in which all
the lingering traces of self-respect--all recollection of former
independence--all sense of modesty was cast to the winds. Under the
terrible pressure of the complex destitution which prevailed, everything
like shame was forgotten, and it was well known that whole families, who
had hitherto been respectable and independent, were precipitated, almost
at once, into all the common cant of importunity and clamor during this
frightful struggle between life and death. Of the truth of this, the
scenes which took place at the public Soup Shops, and other appointed
places of relief, afforded melancholy proof. Here were wild crowds,
ragged, sickly, and wasted away to skin and bone, struggling for the
dole of charity, like so many hungry vultures about the remnant of some
carcase which they were tearing, amid noise, and screams, and strife,
into very shreds; for, as we have said, all sense of becoming restraint
and shame was now abandoned, and the timid girl, or modest mother of
a family, or decent farmer, goaded by the same wild and tyrannical
cravings, urged their claims with as much turbulent solicitation and
outcry, as if they had been trained, since their very infancy, to all
the forms of impudent cant and imposture.

This, our readers will admit, was a most deplorable state of things;
but, unfortunately, we cannot limit the truth of our descriptions to the
scenes we have just attempted to portray. The misery which prevailed, as
it had more than one source, so had it more than one aspect. There were,
in the first place, studded over the country, a vast number of strong
farmers with bursting granaries and immense haggards, who, without
coming under the odious denomination of misers or mealmongers, are in
the habit of keeping up their provisions, in large quantities, because
they can afford to do so, until a year of scarcity arrives, when they
draw upon their stock precisely when famine and prices are both at their
highest. In addition to these, there was another still viler class; we
mean the hard-hearted and well known misers--men who, at every time, and
in every season, prey upon the distress and destitution of the poor,
and who can never look upon a promising spring or an abundant harvest,
without an inward sense of ingratitude against God for his goodness,
or upon a season of drought, or a failing crop, unless with a thankful
feeling of devotion for the approaching calamity.

During such periods, and under such circumstances, these men--including
those of both classes--and the famished people, in general, live and
act under antagonistic principles. Hunger, they say, will break through
stone walls, and when we reflect, that in addition to this irresistible
stimulus, we may add a spirit of strong prejudice and resentment
against these heartless persons, it is not surprising that the starving
multitudes should, in the ravening madness of famine, follow up its
outrageous impulses, and forget those legal restraints, or moral
principles, that protect property under ordinary or different
circumstances. It was just at this precise period, therefore, that the
people, impelled by hunger and general misery, began to burst out into
that excited stupefaction which is, we believe, peculiar to famine
riots. And what rendered them still more exasperated than they probably
would have been, was the long lines of provision carts which met or
intermingled with the funerals on the public thoroughfares, while on
their way to the neighboring harbors, for exportation. Such, indeed,
was the extraordinary fact! Day after day, vessels laden with Irish
provisions, drawn from a population perishing with actual hunger, as
well as with the pestilence which it occasioned, were passing out of our
ports, while, singular as it may seem, other vessels came in freighted
with our own provisions, sent back through the charity of England to our
relief.

It is not our business, any more than it is our inclination, to dwell
here upon the state of those sumptuary enactments, which reflected such
honor upon the legislative wisdom, that permitted our country to arrive
at the lamentable condition we have attempted to describe. We merely
mention the facts, and leave to those who possess position and ability,
the task of giving to this extraordinary state of things a more
effectual attention. Without the least disposition, however, to defend
or justify any violation of the laws, we may be permitted to observe,
that the very witnessing of such facts as these, by destitute and
starving multitudes, was in itself such a temptation to break in upon
the provisions thus transmitted, as it was scarcely within the strength
of men, furious with famine, to resist. Be this as it may, however, it
is our duty as a faithful historian to state, that at the present period
of our narrative, the famine riots had begun to assume something of
an alarming aspect. Several carts had been attacked and pillaged, some
strong farmers had been visited, and two or three misers were obliged to
become benevolent with rather a bad grace. At the head of these parties
were two persons mentioned in these pages; to wit, Thomas Dalton and
Red Eody Duncan, together with several others of various estimation and
character; some of them, as might be naturally expected, the most daring
and turbulent spirits in the neighborhood.

Such, then, was the miserable state of things in the country at that
particular period. The dreadful typhus was now abroad in all his deadly
power, accompanied, on this occasion, as he always is among the Irish,
by a panic which invested him with tenfold terrors. The moment fever
was ascertained, or even supposed to visit a family, that moment the
infected persons were avoided by their neighbors and friends, as if
they carried death, as they often did, about them; so that its presence
occasioned all the usual interchanges of civility and good neighborhood
to be discontinued. Nor should this excite our wonder, inasmuch as
this terrific scourge, though unquestionably an epidemic, was also
ascertained to be dangerously and fatally contagious. None, then,
but persons of extraordinary moral strength, or possessing powerful
impressions of religious duty, had courage to enter the houses of
the sick or dead, for the purpose of rendering to the afflicted those
offices of humanity which their circumstances required; if we except
only their nearest relatives, or those who lived in the same family.

Having thus endeavored to give what we feel to be but a faint picture
of the state of the kingdom at large in this memorable year, we beg
our readers to accompany us once more to the cabin of our moody and
mysterious friend, the Black Prophet.

Evening was now tolerably far advanced; Donnel Dhu sat gloomily, as
usual, looking into the fire, with no agreeable aspect; while on the
opposite side sat Nelly, as silent and nearly as gloomy-looking as
himself. Every now and then his black, piercing eye would stray over to
her, as if in a state of abstraction, and again with that undetermined
kind of significance which made it doubtful whether the subject-matter
of his cogitations was connected with her at all or not. In this
position were they placed when Sarah entered the cabin, and throwing
aside her cloak, seated herself in front of the fire, something about
halfway between each. She also appeared moody; and if one could judge by
her countenance, felt equally disposed to melancholy or ill-temper.

“Well, madam,” said her father, “I hope it’s no offence to ask you where
you have been sportin’ yourself since? I suppose you went to see Charley
Hanlon; or, what is betther, his masther, young Dick o’ the Grange?”

“No,” she replied, “I did not. Charley Hanlon! Oh, no!”

“Well, his masther?”

“Don’t vex me--don’t vex me,” she replied, abruptly; “I don’t wish to
fight about nothing, or about thrifles, or to give bad answers; but
still, don’t vex me, I say.”

“There’s something in the wind now,” observed Nelly; “she’s gettin’ fast
into one o’ her tantrums. I know it by her eyes; she’d as soon whale me
now as cry; and she’d jist as soon cry as whale me. Oh! my lady, I know
you. Here, at any rate, will you have your supper?”

The resentment which had been gathering at Nelly’s coarse observations,
disappeared the moment the question as to supper had been put to her.

“Oh! why don’t you,” she said; “and why didn’t you always spake to me in
a kind voice?”

“But about young Dick,” said the suspicious prophet; “did you see him
since?”

“No,” she replied, calmly and thoughtfully; but, as if catching, by
reflection, the base import of the query, she replied, in a loud and
piercing voice, rendered at once full and keen by indignation. “No! I
say, an’ don’t dare to suspect me of goin’ to Dick o’ the Grange, or any
sich profligate.”

“Hollo! there’s a breeze!” After a pause, “You won’t bate us, I hope.
Then, madame, where were you?”

Short as was the period that had passed since her reply and the putting
of this last question, she had relapsed or fallen into a mood of
such complete abstraction, that she heard him not. With her naturally
beautiful and taper hand under her still more finely chiseled chin, she
sat looking, in apparent sorrow and perplexity, into the fire, and while
so engaged, she sighed deeply two or three times.

“Never mind her, man,” said Nelly; “let her alone, an’ don’t draw an
ould house on our heads. She has had a fight with Charley Hanlon, I
suppose; maybe he has refused to marry her, if he ever had any notion of
it--which I don’t think he had.”

Sarah rose up and approaching her, said:

“What is that you wor saying? Charley Hanlon!--never name him an’
me together, from this minute out. I like him well enough as an
acquaintance, but never name us together as sweethearts--mark my words
now. I would go any length to sarve Charley Hanlon, but I care nothin’
for him beyond an acquaintance, although I did like him a little, or I
thought I did.”

“Poor Charley!” exclaimed Nelly, “he’ll break his heart. Arra what’ll he
do for a piece o’ black crape to get into murnin’? eh--ha! ha! ha!”

“If you had made use of them words to me only yesterday,” she replied,
“I’d punish you on the spot; but now, you unfortunate woman, you’re
below my anger. Say what you will or what you wish, another quarrel with
you I will never have.”

“What does she mane?” said the other, looking fiercely at the Prophet; “I
ax you, you traitor, what she manes?”

“Ay, an’ you’ll ax me till you’re hoarse, before you get an answer,” he
replied.

“You’re a dark an’ deep villain,” she uttered, while her face became
crimson with rage, and the veins of her neck and temples swelled out as
if they would burst; “however, I tould you what your fate would be, an’
that Providence was on your bloody trail. Ay did I, and you’ll find it
true soon.”

The Prophet rose and rushed at her; but Sarah, with the quickness of
lightning, flew between them.

“Don’t be so mane,” she said--“don’t now, father, if you rise your hand
to her I’ll never sleep a night undher the roof. Why don’t you separate
yourself from her? Oh, no, the man that would rise his hand to sich a
woman--to a woman that must have the conscience she has--especially when
he could put the salt seas between himself an’ her--is worse and meaner
than she is. As for me, I’m lavin’ this house in a day or two, for my
mind’s made up that the same roof won’t cover us.”

“The divil go wid you an’ sixpence then,” replied Nelly,
disdainfully--“an’ then you’ll want neither money nor company; but before
you go, I’d thank you to tell me what has become o’ the ould Tobaccy
Box, that you pulled out o’ the wall the other day. I know you were
lookin’ for it, an’ I’m sure you got it--there was no one else to take
it; so before you go, tell me--unless you wish to get a knife put into
me by that dark lookin’ ould father of yours.”

“I know nothing about your ould box, but I wish I did.”

“That’s a lie, you sthrap; you know right well where it is.”

“No,” replied her father, “she does not, when she says she doesn’t. Did
you ever know her to tell a lie?”

“Ay--did I--fifty.”

The Prophet rushed at her again, and again did Sarah interpose.

“You vile ould tarmagint,” he exclaimed, “you’re statin’ what you feel
to be false when you say so; right well you know that neither you nor I,
nor any one else, ever heard a lie from her lips, an’ yet you have the
brass to say to the contrary.”

“Father,” said Sarah, “there’s but one coorse for you; as for me, my
mind’s made up--in this house I don’t stay if she does.”

“If you’d think of what I spoke to you about,” he replied, “all would
soon be right wid us; but then you’re so unraisonable, an’ full of
foolish notions, that it’s hard for me to know what to do, especially as
I wish to do all for the best.”

“Well,” rejoined Sarah, “I’ll spake to you again, about it; at this time
I’m disturbed and unaisy in my mind; I’m unhappy--unhappy--an’ I hardly
knows on what hand to turn. I’m afeared I was born for a hard fate, an’
that the day of my doom isn’t far from me. All, father, is dark before
me--my heart is, indeed, low an’ full of sorrow; an’ sometimes I could
a’most tear any one that ‘ud contradict me. Any way I’m unhappy.”

As she uttered the last words, her father, considerably surprised at
the melancholy tenor of her language, looked at her, and perceived that,
whilst she spoke, her large black eyes were full of distress, and swam
in tears.

“Don’t be a fool, Sarah,” said he, “it’s not a thrifle should make
any one cry in sich a world as this. If Charley Hanlon and you has
quarrelled, it was only the case with thousands before you. If he won’t
marry you, maybe as good or better will; for sure, as the ould proverb
says, there’s as good fish in the say as ever was catched. In the mane
time think what I said to you, an’ all will be right.”

Sarah looked not at him; but whilst he spoke, she hastily dried her
tears, and ere half a minute had passed, her face had assumed a firm
and somewhat of an indignant expression. Little, however, did her father
then dream of the surprising change which one short day had brought
about in her existence, nor of the strong passions which one unhappy
interview had awakened in her generous but unregulated heart.



CHAPTER XVIII. -- Love Wins the Race from Profligacy.


Donnel Dhu M’Gowan’s reputation as a Prophecy-man arose, in the
first instance, as much on account of his mysterious pretensions to a
knowledge of the quack prophecies of his day--Pastorini, Kolumbkille,
&c, and such stuff--as from any pretensions he claimed to foretell the
future. In the course of time, however, by assuming to be a seventh son,
he availed himself of the credulity and ignorance of the people,
and soon added a pretended insight into futurity to his powers of
interpreting Pastorini, and all the catchpenny trash of the kind which
then circulated among the people. This imposture, in course of
time, produced its effect, Many, it is true, laughed at his impudent
assumptions, but on the other hand, hundreds were strongly impressed
with a belief in the mysterious and rhapsodical predictions which he
was in the habit of uttering. Among the latter class we may reckon
simple-hearted Jerry Sullivan and family, all of whom, Mave herself
included, placed the most religious confidence in the oracles he gave
forth. It was then with considerable agitation and a palpitating heart,
that on the day following that of Donnel’s visit to her father’s she
approached the Grey Stone, where, in the words of the prophet, she
should meet “the young man who was to bring her love, wealth, and
happiness, and all that a woman can wish to have with a man.” The
agitation she felt, however, was the result of a depression that almost
amounted to despair. Her faithful heart was fixed but upon one alone,
and she knew that her meeting with any other could not, so far as she
was concerned, realize the golden visions of Donnel Dhu. The words,
however, could not be misunderstood; the first person she met, on the
right hand side of the way, after passing the Grey Stone, was to be
the individual; and when we consider her implicit belief in Donnel’s
prophecy, contrasted with her own impressions and the state of mind in
which she approached the place, we may form a tolerably accurate notion
of what she must have experienced. On arriving within two hundred yards
or so of the spot mentioned, she observed in the distance, about a half
mile before her, a gentleman, on horseback, approaching her at rapid
speed. Her heart, on perceiving him, literally sank within her, and she
felt so weak as to be scarcely able to proceed.

“Oh! what,” she at length asked herself, “would I not now give but for
one glance of young Condy Dalton! But it is not to be. The unfortunate
murdher of my uncle has prevented that for ever; although I can’t get
myself to believe that any of the Daltons ever did it; but maybe that’s
because I wish they didn’t. The general opinion is, that his father is
the man that did it. May the Lord forgive them, whoever they are, that
took his life--for it was a black act to me at any rate!”

Across the road, before her, ran one of those little deep valleys, or
large ravines, and into this had the horseman disappeared as she closed
the soliloquy. He had not, however, at all slackened his pace, but, on
the contrary, evidently increased it, as she could hear by the noise of
his horse’s feet. At this moment she reached the brow of the ravine, and
our readers may form some conception of what she felt when, on looking
down it she saw her lover, young Dalton, toiling up towards her with
feeble and failing steps, while pressing after him from the bottom, came
young Henderson, urging his horse with whip and spur. Her heart,
which had that moment bounded with delight, now utterly failed her, on
perceiving the little chance which the poor young man had of being the
first to meet her, and thus fulfill the prophecy. Henderson was gaining
upon him at a rapid rate, and must in a few minutes have passed him,
had not woman’s wit and presence of mind come to her assistance. “If
he cannot run up the hill,” she said to herself, “I can run to him down
it”--and as the thought occurred to her, she started towards him at her
greatest speed, which indeed was considerable, as her form was of that
light and elastic description which betokens great powers of activity
and exertion. The struggle indeed was close; Henderson now plied whip
and spur with redoubled energy, and the animal was approaching at full
speed. Mave, on the other hand, urged by a thousand motives, forgot
everything but the necessity of exertion. Dalton was incapable of
running a step, and appeared not to know the cause of the contest
between the parties. At length Mave, by her singular activity and speed
reached her lover, into whose arms she actually ran, just as Henderson
had come within about half a dozen yards of the spot where she met him.
This effort, on the part of Mave, was in perfect accordance with the
simple earnestness of her character; her youthful figure, her innocence
of manner, the glow of beauty, and the crowd of blushing graces which
the act developed, together with the joyous exultation of her triumph
on reaching her lover’s arms, and thus securing to herself and him
completion of so delightful a prediction--all, when taken in at one
view, rendered her being so irresistibly fascinating, that her lover
could scarcely look upon the incident as a real one, but for a moment
almost persuaded himself that his beloved Mave had undergone some
delightful and glorious transformation--such as he had seen her assume
in the dreams of his late illness.

Henderson, finding himself disappointed, now pulled up his horse and
addressed her:

“Upon my word, Miss Sullivan--I believe,” he added, “I have the pleasure
of addressing Jeremy Sullivan’s daughter--so far famed for her beauty--I
say, upon my word, Miss Sullivan, your speed outstrips the wind--those
light and beautiful feet of yours scarcely touch the ground--I am
certain you must dance delightfully.”

Mave again blushed, and immediately extricated herself from her lover’s
arms, but before she did, she felt his frame trembling with indignation
at the liberty Henderson had taken in addressing her at all.

“Dalton,” the latter proceeded, unconscious of the passion he was
exciting, “I cannot but envy you at all events; I would myself delight
to be a winning post under such circumstances.”


[Illustration: PAGE 853-- His eye, like that of his father, when
enraged]


Dalton looked at him, and his eye, like that of his father, when
enraged, glared with a deadly light.

“Pass on, sir,” he replied; “Mave Sullivan is no girl for the like of
you to address. She wishes to have no conversation with you, and she
will not.”

“I shan’t take your word for that, my good friend,” replied Henderson,
smiling; “she can speak for herself; and will, too, I trust.”

“Dear Condy,” whispered Mave, “don’t put yourself in a passion; you are
too weak to bear it.”

“Miss Sullivan,” proceeded young Dick, “is a pretty girl, and as such I
claim a portion of her attention, and--should she so far favor me--even
of her conversation; and that with every respect for your very superior
judgment, my good Mr. Dalton.”

“What is your object, now, in wishin’ to spake to her?” asked the
latter, looking him sternly in the face.

“I don’t exactly see that I’m bound to answer your catechism,” said
Dick; “it is to Miss Sullivan I would address myself. I speak to you,
Miss Sullivan; and, allow me to say, that I feel a very warm interest in
your welfare, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to promote
it by any means in my power.”

Mave was about to reply, but Dalton anticipated her.

“The only favor you can bestow upon Miss Sullivan, as you are plaised
to call her, is to pass her by,” said Dalton; “she wishes to have no
intimacy nor conversation of any kind with such a noted profligate. She
knows your carrechter, Mr. Henderson; or if she doesn’t, I do--an’ that
it’s as much as a daicent girl’s good name is worth to be seen spakin’
to you. Now, I tell you again to pass on. Don’t force either yourself or
your conversation upon her, if you’re wise. I’m here to protect her--an’
I won’t see her insulted for nothing.”

“Do you mean that as a threat, my good fellow?”

“If you think it a threat, don’t deserve it, an’ you won’t get it. If
right was to take place, our family would have a heavy account to settle
with you and yours; and it wouldn’t be wise in you to add this to it.”

“Ha! I see--oh, I understand you, I think--more threatening--eh?”

“As I said before,” replied Dalton, “that’s as you may deserve it. Your
cruelty, and injustice, and oppression to our family, we might overlook;
but I tell you, that if you become the means of bringin’ a stain--the
slightest that ever was breathed--upon the fair name of this girl, it
would be a thousand times betther that you never were born.”

“Ah! indeed, Master Dalton! but in the mean time, what does Miss
Sullivan herself say? We are anxious to hear your own sentiments on this
matter, Miss Sullivan.”

“I would feel obliged to you to pass on, sir,” she replied; “Condy
Dalton is ill, and badly able to bear sich a conversation as this.”

“Here,” said Dalton, fiercely, laying his hand upon Mave’s shoulder, “if
you cross my path here--or lave but a shadow of a stain, as I said, upon
her name, woe betide you!”

“Your wishes are commands to me, Miss Sullivan,” replied Henderson,
without noticing Dalton’s denunciation in the slightest degree; “and, I
trust that when we meet again, you won’t be guarded by such a terrible
bow-wow of a dragon as has now charge of you. Good bye! and accept my
best wishes until then.”

He immediately set spurs once more to his horse, and in a few minutes
had turned at the cross roads, and taken that which led to his father’s
house.

“It was well for him,” said Dalton, immediately after he had left them,
“that I hadn’t a loaded pistol in my hand--but no, dear Mave,” he added,
checking himself, “the hasty temper and the hasty blow is the fault of
our family, an’ so far as I am consarned, I’ll do everything to overcome
it.”

Mave now examined him somewhat more earnestly than she had done; and
although grieved at his thin and wasted appearance, yet she could not
help being forcibly struck by the singular clearness and manly beauty
of his features. And yet this beauty filled her heart with anything but
satisfaction; for on contemplating it, she saw that it was over-shadowed
by an expression of such settled sorrow and dejection, as it was
impossible to look upon without the deepest compassion and sympathy.

“We had betther rest a little, dear Mave,” he said; “you must be
fatigued, and so am I. Turn back a little, will you, an’ let us sit upon
the Grey Stone; it’s the only thing in the shape of a seat that is now
near us. Have you any objection?”

“None in the world,” she replied; “I’ll be time enough at my uncle’s,
especially as I don’t intend to come home to-night.”

They accordingly sauntered back, and took their seat upon a ledge of the
stone in question, that almost concealed them from observation; after
which the dialogue proceeded as follows:

“Condy,” observed Mave, “I was glad to hear that you recovered from the
fever; but I’m sorry to see you look so ill: there is a great deal of
care in your face.”

“There is, dear Mave; there is,” he replied, with a melancholy smile,
“an’ a great deal of care in my heart. You look thin yourself, and
careworn too, dear.”

“We are not without our own struggles at home,” she replied, “as,
indeed, who is now? But we had more than ourselves to fret for.”

“Who?” he asked; but on putting the question, he saw a look of such
tender reproach in her eye as touched him.

“Kind heart!” he exclaimed; “kindest and best of hearts, why should I ax
such a question? Surely I ought to know you. I am glad I met you, Mave,
for I have many things to say to you, an’ it’s hard to say when I may
have an opportunity again.”

“I know that is true,” said she; “but I did not expect to meet you
here.”

“Mave,” he proceeded, in a voice filled with melancholy and sadness,
“you acknowledged that you loved me.”

She looked at him, and that look moved him to the heart.

“I know you do love me,” he proceeded, “and now, dear Mave, the thought
of that fills my heart with sorrow.”

She started slightly, and looked at him again with a good deal of
surprise; but on seeing his eyes filled with tears, she also caught the
contagion, and asked with deep emotion:

“Why, dear Condy? Why does my love for you make your heart sorrowful?”

“Because I have no hope,” said he--“no hope that ever you can be mine.”

Mave remained silent; for she knew the insurmountable obstacles that
prevented their union; but she wept afresh.

“When I saw your father last, behind your garden, the day I struck
Donnel Dhu,” Dalton proceeded, “I tould him what I then believed to be
true, that my father never had a hand in your uncle’s death. Mave, dear,
I cannot tell a lie; nor I will not. I couldn’t say as much to him now;
I’m afeard that his death is on my father’s sowl.”

Mave started and got pale at the words. “Great God!” she exclaimed,
“don’t say so, Con dear. Oh, no, no--is it your father that was always
so good, an’ so generous to every one that stood in need of it at his
hands, an’ who was also so charitable to the poor?”

“Ay,” said he, “he was charitable to the poor; but of late I’ve heard
him say things that nobody but a man that has some great crime to answer
for could or would say. I believe too that what the public says is
right: that it’s the hand of God Himself that’s upon him an’ us for that
murdher.”

“But maybe,” said Mave, who still continued pale and trembling; “maybe
it was accidentally afther all; a chance blow, maybe; but whatever it
was, dear Con, let us spake no more about it. I am not able to listen to
it; it would sicken me soon.”

“Very well, dear, we’ll drop it; an’ I hope I’m wrong; for I can’t
think, afther all, that a man with such a kind and tendher heart as my
father--a pious man, too; could--” he paused a moment, and then added;
“oh! no; I’m surely wrong; he never did the act. However, as we said,
I’ll drop it; for indeed, dear Mave, I have enough that’s sorrowful and
heartbreakin’ to spake about, over and above that unfortunate subject.”

“I hope,” said Mave, “that there’s nothing worse than your own illness;
an’ you know, thanks be to the Almighty, you’re recoverin’ fast from
that.”

“My poor lovin’ sister Nancy,” said he, “was laid down yesterday morning
with this terrible faver; she was our chief dependence; we could stand
it out no longer; I could, an’ can do nothing; an’ my mother this
mornin’”--His tears fell so fast, and his affliction was so deep, that
he was not able, for a time to proceed.

“Oh! what about her?” asked Mave, participating in his grief; “oh! what
about her that every one loves?”

“She was obliged to go out this mornin’,” he proceeded, “to beg openly in
the face of day among the neighbors! Now, Mave Sullivan, farewell!” said
he rising, while his face was crimsoned over with shame; “farewell, Mave
Sullivan; all, from this minute, is over between you an’ me. The son of
a beggar must never become your husband; will never call you his wife;
even if there was no other raison against it.”

The melancholy but lovely girl rose with him; she trembled; she
blushed--and again got pale; then blushed once more; at length she
spoke:

“An’ is that, dear Con, all that you yet know of Mave Sullivan’s heart,
or the love for you that’s in it? Your mother! Oh! an’ is it come to
that with her? But--but--do you think that even that, or anything that
wouldn’t be a crime in yourself; or, do you think; oh! I know not what
to say; I see now, dear Con, the raison for the sorrow that’s in your
face; the heart-break an’ the care that’s there; I see, indeed, how low
in spirits an’ how hopeless you are; an’ I see that although your eye
is clear still it’s heavy; heavy with hard affliction; but then, what is
love, Con dear, if it’s to fly away when these things come on us? Is it
now, then, that you’d expect me to desert you?--to keep cool with you,
or to lave you when you have no other heart to go to for any comfort
but mine? Oh, no! Con dear. You own Mave Sullivan is none of these.
God knows it’s little comfort,” she proceeded, weeping bitterly; “it’s
little comfort’s in my poor heart for any one; but there’s one thing in
it, Con, dear; that, poor as I stand here this minute; an’ where, oh!
where is there or could’ there be a poorer girl than I am; still there’s
one thing in it that I wouldn’t exchange for this world’s wealth; an’
that, that, dear Con, is my love for you! That’s the love, dear Con,
that neither this world nor its cares, nor its shame, nor its poverty,
nor its sorrow, can ever overcome or banish; that’s the love that would
live with you in wealth; that would keep by your side through good and
through evil; that would share your sickness; that would rejoice with
you; that would grieve with you; beg with you, starve with you, an’, to
go where you might, die by your side. I cannot bid you to throw care and
sorrow away; but if it’s consolation to you to know an’ to feel how your
own Mave Sullivan loves you, then you have that consolation. Dear Con,
I am ready to marry you, an’ share your distress tomorrow; ay, this day,
or this minute, if it could be done.”

There was a gentle, calm, but firm enthusiasm about her manner, which
carried immediate conviction with it, and as her tears fell in silence,
she bestowed a look upon her lover which fully and tenderly confirmed
all that her tongue had uttered.

Both had been standing; but her lover, taking her hand, sat down, as she
also did; he then turned around and pressed her to his heart; and their
tears in this melancholy embrace of love and sorrow both literally
mingled together.

“I would be ungrateful to God, my beloved Mave,” he replied, “and
unworthy of you--and, indeed, at best I’m not worthy of you--if I didn’t
take hope an’ courage, when I know that sich a girl Joves me; as it is,
I feel my heart aisier, an’ my spirits lighter; although, at the same
time, dear Mave, I’m very wake, and far from being well.”

“That’s bekaise this disturbance of your mind is too much for you
yet--but keep your spirits up; you don’t know,” she continued, smiling
sweetly through her tears; “what a delightful prophecy was fulfilled for
us this day--ay, awhile ago, even when I met you.”

“No,” he replied, “what was it?” She then detailed the particulars
of Donnel Dhu’s prediction, which she dwelt upon with a very cheerful
spirit, after which she added:

“And now, Con dear, don’t you think that’s a sign we’ll be yet happy?”

Dalton, who placed no reliance whatever on Donnel Dhu’s impostures,
still felt reluctant to destroy the hope occasioned by such an agreeable
illusion. “Well,” he replied, “although I don’t much believe in anything
that ould scoundrel says; I trust, for all that, that he has tould you
truth for wanst.”

“But how did you happen to come here, Con?” she asked; “to be here at
the very minute, too?”

“Why,” said he, “I was desired to be the first to meet you after you
passed the Grey Stone--the very one we’re sittin’ on--if I loved you,
an’ wished to sarve you.”

“But who on earth could tell you this?” she asked; “bekaise I thought no
livin’ bein’ knew of it but myself and Donnel Dhu.”

“It was Sarah, his daughter,” said Dalton; “but when I asked her why I
should come to do so, she wouldn’t tell me--she said if I wished to save
you from evil, or at any rate from trouble. That’s a strange girl--his
daughter,” he added; “she makes one do whatever she likes.”

“Isn’t she very handsome?” said Mave, with an expression of admiration.
“I think she’s without exception, the prettiest girl I ever seen; an’
her beautiful figure beats all; but somehow they say every one’s afraid
of her, an’ durstn’t vex her.”

“She examined me well yesterday, at all events,” replied Con. “I thought
them broad, black, beautiful eyes of hers would look through me. Many
a wager has been laid as to which is the handsomest--you or she; an’
I know hundreds that ‘ud give a great deal to see you both beside one
another.”

“Indeed, an’ she has it then,” said Mave, “far an’ away, in face, in
figure, an’ in everything.”

“I don’t think so,” he replied; “but at any rate not in everything--not
in the heart, dear Mave--not in the heart.”

“They say she’s kind hearted, then,” replied Mave.

“They do,” said Con, “an’ I don’t know how it comes; but somehow every
one loves her, and every one fears her at the same time. She asked me
yestherday if I thought my father murdhered Sullivan.”

“Oh! for God’s sake, don’t talk about it,” said Mave, again getting
pale; “I can’t bear to hear it spoken of.”

The Grey Stone--on a low ledge of which, nearly concealed from public
view, our lovers had been sitting--was, in point of size, a very large
rock of irregular size. After the last words, alluding to the murder,
had been uttered, an old man, very neatly but plainly dressed, and
bearing a pedlar’s pack, came round from behind a projection of it, and
approached them. From his position, it was all but certain that he must
have overheard their whole conversation. Mave, on seeing him, blushed
deeply, and Dalton himself felt considerably embarrassed at the idea
that the stranger had been listening, and become acquainted with
circumstances that were never designed for any other ears but their own.

The old man, on making his appearance, surveyed our lovers from head to
foot with a curious and inquisitive eye--a circumstance which, taken
in connection with his eaves-dropping, was not at all relished by young
Dalton.

“I think you will know us again,” said he in no friendly voice. “How
long have you been sittin’ behind the corner there?” he inquired.

“I hope I may know yez agin,” replied the pedlar, for he was one; “I was
jist long enough behind the corner to hear some of what you were spakin’
about last.”

“An’ what was that?” said Dalton, putting him to the test.

“You were talkin’ about the murdher of one Sullivan.”

“We were,” replied Dalton; “but I’ll thank you to say nothing further
about it; it’s disagreeable to both of us--distressin’ to both of us.”

“I don’t understand that,” said the old pedlar; “how can it be so to
either of you, if you’re not consarned in it one way or other?”

“We are, then,” said Dalton, with warmth; “the man that was killed was
this girl’s uncle, and the man that was supposed to take his life is my
father. Maybe you understand me now?”

The blood left the cheeks of the old man, who staggered over to the
ledge whereon they sat, and placed himself beside them.

“God of Heaven!” said he, with astonishment, “can this be thrue?”

“Now that you know what you do know,” said Dalton, “we’ll thank you to
drop the subject.”

“Well, I will,” said he; “but first, for Heaven’s sake, answer me a
question or two. What’s your name, avick?”

“Condy Dalton.”

“Ay, Condy Dalton!--the Lord be about us! An’ Sullivan--Sullivan was the
name of the man that was murdhered, you say?”

“Yes, Bartley Sullivan--God rest him!”

“An’ whisper--tell me--God presarve us!--was there anything done to your
father, avick? What was done to him?”

“Why, he was taken up on suspicion soon afther it happened;
but--but--there was nothing done: they had no proof against him, an’ he
was let go again.”

“Is your father alive still?”

“He is livin’,” replied Dalton; “but come--pass on, ould man,” he added,
bitterly; “I’ll give you no more information.”

“Well, thank you, dear,” said the pedlar; “I ax your pardon for givin’
you pain--an’ the colleen here--ay, you’re a Sullivan, then--an’ a purty
but sorrowful lookin’ crature your are, God knows. Poor things! God pity
you both an’ grant you a betther fate than what appears to be before
you! for I did hear a thrifle of your discoorse.”

There was something singularly benevolent and kind in the old pedlar’s
voice, as he uttered the last words, and he had not gone many perches
from the stone, when Dalton’s heart relented as he reflected on his
harsh and unfriendly demeanor towards him.

“That is a good ould man,” he observed, “and I am now sorry that I spoke
to him so roughly--there was kindness in his voice and in his eye as he
looked upon us.”

“There was,” replied Mave, “and I think him a good ould man too. I don’t
think he would harm any one.”

“Dear Mave,” said Dalton, “I must now get home as soon as I can; I don’t
feel so well as I was--there is a chill upon me, and I’m afeared I won’t
have a comfortable night.”

“And I can do nothing for you!” added Mave, her eyes filling with tears.

“I didn’t thank you for that lock of hair you sent me by Donnel Dhu,” he
added. “It is here upon my heart, and I needn’t say that if anything had
happened me, or if anything should happen me, it an’ that heart must go
to dust together.”

“You are too much cast down,” she replied, her tears flowing fast, “an’
it can’t surely be otherwise; but, dear Con, let us hope for better
days--an’ put our trust in God’s goodness.”

“Farewell, dear Mave,” he replied, “an may God bless and presarve you
till I see you again!”

“An’ may He send down aid to you all,” she added, “an’ give consolation
to your breakin’ hearts!”

An embrace, long, tender, and mournful, accompanied their words, after
which they separated in sorrow and in tears, and with but little hope of
happiness on the path of life that lay before them.



CHAPTER XIX. -- Hanlon Secures the Tobacco-box.--Strange Scene at
Midnight.


The hour so mysteriously appointed by Red Rody for the delivery of the
Tobacco-box to Hanlon, was fast approaching, and the night though by no
means so stormy as that which we have described on the occasion of that
person’s first visit to the Grey Stone, was nevertheless dark and
rainy, with an occasional slight gust of wind, that uttered a dreary
and melancholy moan, as it swept over the hedges. Hanlon, whose fear of
supernatural appearances had not been diminished by what he had heard
there before as well as on his way home, now felt alarmed at every gust
of wind that went past him. He hurried on, however, and kept his nerves
as firmly set as his terrors would allow him, until he got upon the
plain old road which led directly to the appointed place. The remarkable
interest which he had felt at an earlier stage of the circumstances
that compose our narrative, was beginning to cool a little, when it was
revived by his recent conversation with Red Rody concerning the Black
Prophet, and the palpable contradictions in which he detected that
person, with reference to the period when the Prophet came to reside in
the neighborhood. His anxiety therefore, about the Tobacco-box began, as
he approached the Grey Stone, to balance his fears; so that by the time
he arrived there, he found himself cooler and firmer a good deal than
when he first crossed the dark fields from home. Hanlon, in fact, had
learned a good deal of the Prophet’s real character, from several
of those who had never been duped by his impostures; and the fact of
ascertaining that the very article so essential to the completion of
his purpose, had been found in the Prophet’s house or possession, gave a
fresh and still more powerful impulse to his determinations. The night,
we have already observed, was dark, and the heavy gloom which covered
the sky was dismal and monotonous. Several flashes of lightning, it is
true, had shot out from the impervious masses of black clouds, that lay
against each other overhead. These, however, only added terror to
the depression which such a night and such a sky were calculated to
occasion.

“I trust,” thought Hanlon, as he approached the stone, “that there will
be no disappointment, and that I won’t have my journey on sich a
dark and dismal night for nothing. How this red ruffian can have any
authority over a girl like Sarah, is a puzzle that I can’t make out.”

It was just as these thoughts occurred to him that he arrived at the
Stone, where he stood anxiously waiting and listening, and repeating
his pater noster, as well as he could, for several minutes, but without
hearing or seeing any one.

“I might have known,” thought he, “that the rascal could bring about
nothing of the kind, an’ I am only a fool for heedin’ him at all.”

At this moment, however, he heard the noise of a light, quick footstep
approaching, and almost immediately afterwards Sarah joined him.

“Well, I am glad you are come,” said he, “for God knows when I thought
of our last stand here, I was anything but comfortable.”

“Why,” replied Sarah, “what wor you afeard of? I hate a cowardly man,
an’ you are cowardly.”

“Not where mere flesh and blood is consarned,” he replied; “I’m afeard
of neither man nor woman--but I wouldn’t like to meet a ghost or spirit,
may the Lord presarve us!”

“Why, now? What harm could a ghost or spirit do you? Did you ever hear
that they laid hands on or killed any one?”

“No; but for all that, it’s well known that several persons have died of
fright, in consequence.”

“Ay, of cowardliness; but it wasn’t the ghost killed them. Sure the
poor ghost only comes to get relief for itself--to have masses said; or,
maybe, to do justice to some one that is wronged in this world. There’s
Jimmy Beatty, an’ he lay three weeks of fright from seein’ a ghost, an’
it turned out when all was known, that the ghost was nothing more or
less than Tom Martin’s white-faced cow--ha! ha! ha!”

“At any rate, let us change the subject,” said Hanlon; “you heard
yourself the last night we wor here, what I’ll never forget.”

“We heard some noise like a groan, an’ that was all; but who could tell
what it was, or who cares either?”

“I, for one, do; but, dear Sarah, have you the box?”

“Why does your voice tremble that way for? Is it fear? bekaise if I
thought it was, I wouldn’t scruple much to walk home with’ out another
word, an’ bring the box with me.”

“You have it, then?”

“To be sure I have, an’ my father an’ Nelly is both huntin’ the house
for it.”

“Why, what could your father want with it?”

“How can I tell?--an’ only that I promised it to you, I wouldn’t fetch
it at all?”

“I thought you had given it up for lost; how did you get it again?”

“That’s nothing to you, an’ don’t trouble your head about it. There it
is now, an’ I have kept my word; for while I live, I’ll never break it
if I can. Dear me, how bright that flash was!”

As Hanlon was taking the box out of her hand, a fearful flash of sheeted
lightning opened out of a cloud almost immediately above them, and
discovered it so plainly, that the letters P. M. were distinctly legible
on the lid of it, and nearly at the same moment a deep groan was heard,
as if coming-out of the rock.

“Father of Heaven!” exclaimed Hanlon, “do you hear that?”

“Yes,” she replied, “I did hear a groan; but here, do you go--oh, it
would be useless to ask you--so I must only do it myself; stand here an’
I’ll go round the rock; at any rate let us be sure that it is a ghost.”

“Don’t, Sarah,” he exclaimed, seizing her arm; “for God’s sake,
don’t--it is a spirit--I know it--don’t lave me. I understand it all,
an’ maybe you will some day, too.”

“Now,” she exclaimed indignantly, and in an incredulous voice; “in God’s
name, what has a spirit to do with an old rusty Tobaccy-box? It’s surely
a curious box; there’s my father would give one of his eyes to find it;
an’ Nelly, that hid it the other day, found it gone when she went to get
it for him.”

“Do you toll me so?” said Hanlon, placing it as he spoke in his safest
pocket.

“I do,” she replied; “an’ only that I promised it to you, and would not
break my word, I’d give it to my father; but I don’t see myself what use
it can be of to him or anybody.”

Hanlon, despite of his terrors, heard this intelligence with the deepest
interest--indeed, with an interest so deep, that he almost forgot them
altogether; and with a view of eliciting from her as much information in
connection with it as he could, he asked her to accompany him a part of
the way home.

“It’s not quite the thing,” she replied, “for a girl like me to be
walkin’ with a young fellow at this hour; but as I’m not afeard of you,
and as I know you are afeard of the ghost--if there is a ghost--I will
go part of the way with you, although it does not say much for your
courage to ask me.”

“Thank you, Sarah; you are a perfect treasure.”

“Whatever I was, or whatever I am, Charley, I can never be anything
more to you than a mere acquaintance--I don’t think ever we were much
more--but what I want to tell you is, that if ever you have any serious
notion of me, you must put it out of your head.”

“Why so, Sarah?”

“Why so,” she replied, hastily; “why, bekaise I don’t wish it--isn’t
that enough for you, if you have spirit?”

“Well, but I’d like to know why you changed your mind.”

“Ah,” said she; “well, afther all, that’s only natural--it is but
raisonable; an’ I’ll tell you; in the first place, there’s a want of
manliness about you that I don’t like--I think you’ve but little heart
or feelin’. You toy with the girls--with this one and that one--an’ you
don’t appear to love any one of them--in short, you’re not affectionate,
I’m afeard. Now, here am I, an’ I can scarcely say, that ever you
courted me like a man that had feelin’. I think you’re revengeful, too;
for I have seen you look black an’ angry at a woman, before now. You
never loved me, I know--I say I know you did not. There, then, is some
of my raisons--but I’ll tell you one more, that’s worth them all. I love
another now--ay,” she added, with a convulsive sigh, “I love
another; and, I know, Charley, that he can’t love me--there’s more
lightnin’--what a flash! Oh, I didn’t care this minute if it went
through my heart.”

“Don’t talk so, Sarah.”

“I know what’s before me--disappointment--disappointment in
everything--the people say I’m wild and very wicked in my temper--an’ I
am, too; but how could I be otherwise? for what did I ever see or hear
undher our own miserable roof, but evil talk and evil deeds? A word of
kindness I never got from my father or from Nelly; nothing but the bad
word an’ the hard blow--until now that she is afeard of me; but little
she knew, that many a time when I was fiercest, an’ threatened to put a
knife into her, there was a quiver of affection in my heart; a yearnin’,
I may say, afther kindness, that had me often near throwin’ my arms
about her neck, and askin’ her why she mightn’t as well be kind as cruel
to me; but I couldn’t, bekaise I knew that if I did, she’d only tramp on
me, an’ despise me, an’ tyrannize over me more and more.”

She uttered these sentiments under the influence of deep feeling,
checkered with an occasional burst of wild distraction, that seemed to
originate from much bitterness of heart.

“Is it a fair question,” replied Hanlon, whose character she had
altogether misunderstood, having, in point of fact, never had an
opportunity of viewing it in it’s natural light; “is it a fair question
to ask you who is it that you’re in love wid?”

“It’s not a fair question,” she replied; “I know he loves another, an’
for that raison I’ll never breathe it to a mortal.”

“Bekaise,” he added, “if I knew, maybe I might be able to put in a good
word for you, now and then, accordin’ as I got an opportunity.”

“For me!” she replied indignantly; “what! to beg him get fond o’ me! Oh,
its wondherful the maneness that’s in a’most every one you meet. No,”
 she proceeded, vehemently; “if he was a king on his throne, sooner than
stoop to that, or if he didn’t, or couldn’t love me on my own account,
I’d let the last drop o’ my heart’s blood out first. Oh, no!--no, no,
no--ha! He loves another,” she added, hastily; “he loves another!”

“An’ do you know her?” asked Hanlon.

“Do I know her!” she replied; “do I know her! it’s I that do; ay, an’
I have her in my power, too; an’ if I set about it, can prevent a ring
from ever goin’ on them. Ha! ha! Oh, ay; that divil, Sarah M’Gowan, what
a fine character I have got! Well, well, good night, Charley! Maybe it’s
a folly to have the bad name for nothin’; at laist they say so. Ha! ha!
Good-night; I’ll go home. Oh, I had like to forgot; Red Body tould me
he was spakin’ to you about something that he says you can’t but
understhand yourself; and he desired me to get you, if I could, to join
him in it. I said I would, if it was right an’ honest; for I have great
doubts of it bein’ either the one or the other, if it comes from him.
He said that it was both; but that it ‘ud be a great piece of roguery to
have it undone. Now, if it is what he says it is, help him in it, if you
can; but if it isn’t, have no hand in it. That’s all I tould him I would
say, an’ that’s all I do say. Keep out of his saicrets I advise you;
an’, above all things, avoid everything mane an’ dishonest; for,
Charley, I have a kind o’ likin’ for you that I can’t explain, although
I don’t love you as a sweetheart. Good-night again!”

She left him abruptly, and at a rapid pace proceeded back to the Grey
Stone, around which she walked, with a view of examining whether or not
there might be any cause visible, earthly or otherwise, for the groans
which they had heard; but notwithstanding a close and diligent search,
she could neither see nor hear anything whatsoever to which they might
possibly be ascribed.

She reached home about one o’clock, and after having sat musing for a
time over the fire, which was raked for the night--that is, covered over
with greeshaugh, or living ashes--she was preparing to sleep in her
humble bed, behind a little partition wall about five feet high, at
the lower end of the cabin, when her father, who had been moaning, and
staring, and uttering abrupt exclamations in his sleep, at length rose
up, and began deliberately to dress himself, as if with an intention of
going out.

“Father,” said she, “in the name of goodness, where are you goin’ at
this time o’ the night?”

“I’m goin’ to the murdhered man’s grave,” he replied, “I’m goin’ to toll
them all how he was murdhered, an’ who it was that murdhered him.”

A girl with nerves less firm would have felt a most deadly terror at
such language, on perceiving, as Sarah at once did, that her father,
whose eyes were shut, was fast asleep at the time. In her, however, it
only produced such a high degree of excitement and interest, as might be
expected from one of her ardent and excitable temperament, imbued as it
was with a good deal of natural romance.

“In God’s name,” she said to herself, “what can this mean? Of late he
hasn’t had one hour’s quiet rest at night; nothin’ but startin’ and
shoutin’ out, an’ talkin’ about murdher an’ murdherers! What can it
mane? for he’s now walkin’ in his sleep? Father,” said she, “you’re
asleep; go back to bed, you had betther.”

“No, I’m not asleep,” he replied; “I’m goin’ down to the grave here
below, behind the rocks down in Glendhu, where the murdhered man is
lyin’ buried.”

“An’ what brings you there at this time o’ the night?”

“Ha! ha!” he replied, uttering an exclamation of caution in a low,
guarded voice--“what brings me?--whisht, hould your tongue, an’ I’ll
tell you.”

She really began to doubt her senses, notwithstanding the fact of his
eyes being shut.

“Whisht yourself,” she replied; “I don’t want to hear anything about it;
I have no relish for sich saicrets. I’m ready enough with my own hand,
especially when there’s a weapon in it--readier then ever I’ll be again;
but for all that I don’t wish to hear sich saicrets. Are you asleep or
awake?”

“I’m awake, of coorse,” he replied.

“An’ why are your eyes shut then? You’re frightful, father, to look at;
no corpse ever had sich a face as you have; your heavy brows are knit in
sich a way; jist as if you were in agony; your cheeks are so white too,
an’ your mouth is down at the corners, that a ghost--ay, the ghost of
the murdhered man himself--would be agreeable compared to you. Go to
bed, father, if you’re awake.”

To all this he made no reply, but having dressed himself, he
deliberately, and with great caution, raised the latch, and proceeded
out at that dismal and lonely hour. Sarah, for a time, knew not how to
act. She had often heard of sleep-walking, and she feared now, that if
she awakened him, he might imagine that she had heard matters which
he wished no ears whatever to hear; for the truth was, that some vague
suspicions of a dreadful nature had lately entered her mind; suspicions,
which his broken slumbers--his starts, and frequent exclamations during
sleep, had only tended to confirm.

“I will watch him at all events,” said she to herself, “and see that
he comes to no ganger.” She accordingly shut the door after her, and
followed him pretty closely into the deep gloom of the silent and
solitary glen. With cautious, but steady and unerring steps, he
proceeded in the direction of the loneliest spot of it, which having
reached, he went by a narrow and untrodden circuit--a kind of broken,
but natural pathway--to the identical spot where the body, which Nelly
had discovered, lay.

He then raised his hand, as if in caution, and whispered--“Whisht! here
is where the murdhered man’s body lies.”

“I’ll not do it,” said Sarah, “I’ll not do it; it would be mane and
ungenerous to ax him a question that might make him betray himself.”

At this moment the moon which had been for some time risen, presented
a strange and alarming aspect. She seemed red as blood; and directly
across her centre there went a black bar--a bar so ominously and
intensely black, that it was impossible to look upon it without
experiencing something like what one might be supposed to feel in the
presence of a supernatural appearance; at the performance of some magic
or unnatural rite, where the sorcerer, by the wickedness of his spell,
forced her, as it were, thus to lend a dreadful and reluctant sanction
to his proceedings.

Her father, however, proceeded: “Ay--who murdhered him, my lord? Why,
my lord--hem--it was--Condy Dalton, an’ I have another man to prove it
along wid myself--one Rody Duncan; now Rody answer strong; swear home;
mind yourself, Rody.”

These words were spoken aside, precisely as one would address them when
instructing any person to give a particular line of evidence. He then
stooped down, and placed his hand upon the grave said, as if he were
addressing the dead man:

“Ha! you sleep cool there, you guilty Villain! an’ it wasn’t my fault
that the unfaithful an’ dishonest sthrap that you got that for, didn’t
get as much herself. There you are, an’ you’ll tell no tales at all
events! You know, Rody,” he proceeded, “it was Dalton that murdhered
him; mind that--but you’re a coward at heart; as for myself there’s
nothing troubles me but that Tobaccy-Box; but you know nothing about
that; may the divil confound me, at any rate, for not destroyin’ it!
an’ that ould sthrap, Nelly, suspects something; for she’s always ringin
Providence into my ears; but if I had that box destroyed, I’d disregard
Providence; if there is a Providence.”

The words had barely proceeded out of his lips, when a peal of thunder,
astonishingly loud, broke, as it were, over their very heads, having
been preceded by a flash of lightning, so bright, that the long,
well-defined grave was exposed, in all its lonely horrors, to Sarah’s
eye.

“That’s odd, now,” said she, “that the thunder should come as he said
them very words; but thank God that it was Dalton that did the deed,
for if it was himself he’d not keep it back now, when the truth would be
sure to come out.”

“It was he, my lord, and gentlemen of the jury,” proceeded her father,
“an’ my conscience, my lord, during all this long time--”

He here muttered something which she could not understand, and after
stooping down, and putting his hand on the grave a second time, he
turned about and retraced his steps home. It appeared, however, that
late as the hour was, there were other persons abroad as well as
themselves, for Sarah could distinctly hear the footsteps of several
persons passing along the adjoining road, past the Grey Stone, and she
also thought that among the rest might be distinguished the voice of Red
Rody Duncan. The Prophet quietly opened the door, entered as usual, and
went to bed; Sarah having also retired to her own little sleeping place,
lay for some time, musing deeply over the incidents of the night.



CHAPTER XX. -- Tumults--Confessions of Murder.


The next morning opened with all the dark sultry rain and black cloudy
drapery, which had, as we have already stated, characterized the whole
season. Indeed, during the year we are describing, it was known that all
those visible signs which prognosticate any particular description of
weather, had altogether lost their significance. If a fine day came,
for instance, which indeed was a rare case, or a clear and beautiful
evening, it was but natural that after such a dark and dreary course of
weather, the heart should become glad and full of hope, that a permanent
change for the better was about to take place; but alas, all cheerful
hope and expectation were in vain. The morrow’s sun rose as before,
dim and gloomy, to wade along his dismal and wintry path, without one
glimpse of enlivening light from his rising to his setting.

We have already mentioned slightly, those outrages, to which the disease
and misery that scourged the country in so many shapes had driven the
unfortunate and perishing multitudes. Indeed, if there be any violation
of the law that can or ought to be looked upon with the most lenient
consideration and forbearance, by the executive authorities, it is
that which takes place under the irresistible pressure of famine. And
singular as it may appear, it is no less true, that this is a subject
concerning which much ignorance prevails, not only throughout other
parts of the empire, but even at home here in Ireland, with ourselves.
Much for instance is said, and has been said, concerning what are
termed “Years of Famine,” but it is not generally known that since the
introduction of the potato in this country, no year has ever past, which
in some remote locality or other, has not been such to the unfortunate
inhabitants. The climate of Ireland is so unsettled, its soil so various
in quality and the potato so liable to injury from excess of either
drought or moisture, that we have no hesitation in stating the startling
fact of this annual famine as one we can vouch for, upon our personal
knowledge, and against the truth of which we challenge contradiction.
Neither does an autumn pass without a complaint peculiar to those who
feed solely upon the new and unripe potato, and which, ever since
the year ‘32 is known by the people as the potato cholera. With these
circumstances the legislature ought to be acquainted, inasmuch as they
are calamities that will desolate and afflict the country so long as the
potato is permitted to be, as it unfortunately is, the staple food
of the people. That we are subject in consequence of that fact,
to periodical recurrences of dearth and disease, is well known and
admitted; but that every season brings its partial scourge of both these
evils to various remote and neglected districts in Ireland, has not
been, what it ought long since to have been, an acknowledged and
established fact in the sanatory statistics of the country. Indeed, one
would imagine, that after the many terrible visitations which we have
had from destitution and pestilence, a legislature sincerely anxious for
the health and comfort of the people, would have devoted itself, in some
reasonable measure, to the human consideration of such proper sumptuary
and sanatory enactments, as would have provided not only against the
recurrence of these evils, but for a more enlightened system of public
health and cleanliness, and a better and more comfortable provision of
food for the indigent and poor. As it is at present, provision dealers
of all kinds, meal-mongers, forestallers, butchers, bakers, and
hucksters, combine together, and sustain such a general monopoly in
food, as is at variance with the spirit of all law and humanity, and
constitutes a kind of artificial famine in the country; and surely;
these circumstances ought not to be permitted, so long as we have a
deliberative legislature, whose duty it is to watch and guard the health
and morals of the people.

At the present period of our narrative, and especially on the gloomy
morning following the Prophet’s unconscious visit to the grave of the
murdered man, the popular outrages had risen to an alarming height. Up
to the present time occasional outbreaks, by small and detached groups
of individuals, had taken place at night or before dawn, and rather in a
timid or fugitive manner, than with the recklessness of men who assemble
in large crowds, and set both law and all consequences at open defiance.
Now, however, destitution and disease had wrought such woeful work among
the general population, that it was difficult to know where or how to
prescribe bounds to the impetuous resentment with which they expressed
themselves against those who held over large quantities of food in order
to procure high prices. At this moment the country, with its waste,
unreaped crops, tying in a state of plashy and fermenting ruin, and its
desolate and wintry aspect, was in frightful keeping with the appearance
of the people when thus congregated together. We can only say, that the
famine crowds of that awful year should have been seen in order to have
been understood and felt. The whole country was in a state of dull
but frantic tumult, and the wild crowds as they came and went in the
perpetration of their melancholy outrages, were worn down by such
starling evidences of general poverty and suffering, as were enough
to fill the heart with fear as well as pity, even to look upon. Their
cadaverous and emaciated aspects had something in them so wild and
wolfish, and the fire of famine blazed so savagely in their hollow eyes,
that many of them looked like creatures changed from their very humanity
by some judicial plague, that had been sent down from Heaven to punish
and desolate the land. And in truth there is no doubt whatsoever, that
the intensity of their sufferings, and the natural panic which was
occasioned by the united ravages of disease and famine, had weakened
the powers of their understanding, and impressed upon their bearing
and features an expression which seemed partly the wild excitement of
temporary frenzy, and partly the dull, hopeless apathy of fatuity--a
state to which it is well known that misery, sickness, and hunger,
all together, had brought down the strong intellect and reason of
the wretched and famishing multitudes. Nor was this state of feeling
confined to those who were goaded by the frightful sufferings that
prevailed. On the contrary, thousands became victims of a quick and
powerful contagion which spread the insane spirit of violence at a rapid
rate, affecting many during the course of the day, who in the early part
of the morning had not partaken of its influence. To no other principle
than this can we attribute the wanton and irrational outrages of many of
the people. Every one acquainted with such awful visitations must know
that their terrific realities cause them, by wild influences that run
through the whole masses, to forget all the decencies and restraints of
ordinary life, until fear and shame, and becoming respect for order,
all of which constitute the moral safety of society--are thrown aside or
resolved into the great tyrannical instinct of self-preservation,
which, when thus stimulated, becomes what may be termed the insanity
of desolation. We know that the most savage animals as well as the most
timid will, when impelled by its ravenous clamors, alike forget every
other appetite but that which is necessary for the sustainment of
life. Urged by it alone, they will sometimes approach and assail the
habitations of man, and, in the fury of the moment, expose themselves to
his power, and dare his resentment; just as a famine mob will do, when
urged by the same instinct, in a year of scarcity.

There is no beast, however, in the deepest jungle of Africa itself, so
wild, savage and ferocious, as a human mob, when left to its own blind
and headlong impulses. On the morning in question, the whole country was
pouring forth its famished hordes to intercept meal-carts and provision
vehicles of all descriptions, on their way to market or to the next
sea-port for shipment; or to attack the granaries of provision dealers,
and all who, having food in large quantities, refused to give it gratis,
or at a nominal price to the poor. Carts and cars, therefore, mostly
the property of unoffending persons, were stopped on the highways, there
broken, and the food which they carried openly taken away, and, in case
of resistance, those who had charge of them were severely beaten. Mills
were also attacked and pillaged, and in many instances large quantities
of flour and grain not only carried off, but wantonly and wickedly
strewn about the streets and destroyed.

In all these acts of violence there was very little shouting; the fact
being that the wretched people were not able to shout; unless on rare
occasions; and sooth to say, their vociferations were then but a faint
and feeble echo of the noisy tumults which in general characterize
the proceedings of excited and angry crowds. Truly, those pitiable
gatherings had their own peculiarities of misery. During the progress
of the pillage, individuals of every age, sex, and condition--so far
as condition can be applied to the lower classes--might be seen behind
ditches, in remote nooks--in porches of houses, and many on the open
highways and streets, eating, or rather gobbling up raw flour, or
oat-meal; others, more fortunate, were tearing and devouring bread,
with a fury, to which only the unnatural appetites of so many famished
maniacs could be compared. As might be expected, most of these
inconsiderate acts of license were punished by the consequences which
followed them. Sickness of various descriptions, giddiness, retchings,
fainting fits, convulsions, and in some cases, death itself, were
induced by this wolfish and frightful gluttony on the part of the
starving people. Others, however, who possessed more sense, and
maintained a greater restraint over their individual sufferings, might
be seen in all directions, hurrying home, loaded with provisions of the
most portable descriptions, under which they tottered and panted,
and sometimes fell utterly prostrate from recent illness or the mere
exhaustion of want. Aged people, grey-haired old men, and old women bent
with age, exhibited a wild and excited alacrity that was grievous to
witness, while hurrying homewards--if they had a home, or if not, to the
first friendly shelter they could get--a kind of dim exulting joy feebly
blazing in their heavy eyes, and a wild sense of unexpected good
fortune working in unnatural play upon the muscles of their wrinkled and
miserable faces. The ghastly impressions of famine, however, were not
confined to those who composed the crowds. Even the children were little
living skeletons, wan and yellow, with a spirit of pain and suffering
legible upon their fleshless but innocent features--while the very dogs,
as was well observed, were not able to bark, unless they stood against
a wall; for indeed, such of them as survived, were nothing but ribs and
skin. At all events, they assisted in making up the terrible picture of
general misery which the country at large presented. Both day and night,
but at night especially, their hungry howlings could be heard over the
country, or mingling with wailings which the people were in the habit of
pouring over those whom the terrible typhus was sweeping away with such
wide and indiscriminate fatality.

Our readers may now perceive, that the sufferings of these unhappy
crowds, before they had been driven to these acts of violence, were
almost beyond belief. At an early period of the season, when the
potatoes could not be dug, miserable women might be seen early in the
morning, and in fact, during all hours of the day, gathering weeds of
various descriptions, in order to sustain life; and happy were they who
could procure a few handfuls of young nettles, chicken-weed, sorrel,
preshagh, buglass, or seaweed, to bring home as food, either for
themselves or their unfortunate children. Others, again, were glad to
creep or totter to stock-farms, at great distances across the country,
in hope of being able to procure a portion of blood, which, on such
melancholy occasions, is taken from the heifers and bullocks that graze
there, in order to prevent the miserable poor from perishing by actual
starvation and death.

Alas! little do our English neighbors know or dream of the horrors which
attend a year of severe famine in this unhappy country. The crowds which
kept perpetual and incessant siege to the houses of wealthy and even of
struggling small farmers, were such! as scarcely any pen could describe.
Neither can we render anything like adequate justice to the benevolence
and charity--nay, we ought to say, the generosity and magnanimity of
this and the middle classes in general, In no country on earth could
such noble instances of self-denial and sublime humanity be witnessed.
It has happened in thousands of instances that the last miserable
morsel, the last mouthful of nourishing liquid, the last potato, or the
last six-pence, has been divided with wretched and desolate beings who
required it more, and this, too, by persons who, when that was gone,
knew not to what quarter they could turn with a hope of replacing for
themselves that which they had just shared in a spirit of such genuine
and exalted piety.*

     * It is as well to state here that the season described
     in this tale is the dreadful and melancholy one of
     1817; and we may add, that in order to avoid the charge
     of having exaggerated the almost incredible sufferings
     of the people in that year, we have studiously kept our
     descriptions of them within the limits of truth. Dr.
     Cokkigan, in his able and very sensible pamphlet on
     “Fever and Famine as Cause and Effect in Ireland”--a
     pamphlet, by the way, which has been the means of
     conveying most important truths to statesmen, and which
     ought to be looked on as a great public benefit--has
     confirmed the accuracy of the gloomy pictures I was
     forced to draw. Here follow an extract or two:

     “It is scarcely necessary to call to recollection the
     summer of 1810, cold and wet--corn uncut in November,
     or rotting in the sheaves on the ground--potatoes not
     ripened (and when unripe there cannot be worse food),
     containing more water than nutriment--straw at such an
     extravagant price as to render the obtaining of it for
     bedding almost impossible, and when procured, retaining
     from its half-fermented state, so much moisture, that
     the use was, perhaps, worse than the want of it. The
     same agent that destroyed the harvest spoiled the turf.
     Seldom had such a multiplication of evils come
     together. In some of the former years, although food
     and bedding were deficient, the portion saved was of
     good quality, and fuel was not wanting: but in 1815
     every comfort that might have compensated for partial
     want was absent. This description applies to the two
     years of 1816 and 1817. In midsummer of 1817, the blaze
     of fever was over the entire country. It had burst
     forth in almost a thousand different points. Within the
     short space of a month, in the summer of 1817, the
     epidemic sprung forth in Tramore, Youghal, Kinsale,
     Tralee, and Clonmel, in Carrick-on-Suir, Iloscrea,
     Ballina, Castlebar, Belfast, Armagh, Omagh,
     Londonderry, Monasterevan, Tullamore and Slane. This
     simultaneous break-out shows that there must have been
     some universal cause.”

     Again:

     “The poor were deprived of employment and were driven
     from the doors where before they had always received
     relief, lest they should introduce disease with them.
     Thus, destitution and fever continued in a vicious
     circle, each impelling the other, while want of
     presence of mind aggravated a thousandfold the terrible
     infliction. Of the miseries that attend a visitation of
     epidemic fever, few can form a conception. The mere
     relation of the scenes that occurred in the country,
     even in one of its last visitations, makes one shudder
     in reading them. As Barker and Cheyne observe in their
     report, ‘a volume might be filled with instances of the
     distress occasioned by the visitation of fever in
     1817.’”

     “‘On the road leading from Cork, within a mile of the
     town (Kanturk), I visited a woman laboring under
     typhus; on her left lay a child very ill, at the foot
     of the bed another child just able to crawl about, and
     on her right the corpse of a third child who had died
     two days previously, which the unhappy mother could not
     get removed.’--Letter from Dr. O’Leary, Kanturk.

     “‘Ellen Pagan, a young woman, whose husband was
     obliged, in order to seek employment, to leave her
     almost destitute in a miserable cabin, with three
     children, gave the shelter of her roof to a poor beggar
     who had fever. She herself caught the disease, and from
     the terror created in the neighborhood, was, with her
     three children, deserted--except that some person left
     a little water and milk at the window for the
     children,--one about four, the other about three years
     old, and the other an infant at her breast. In this way
     she continued for a week, when a neighbor sent her a
     loaf of bread, which was left in the window. Four days
     after this he grew uneasy about her, and one night
     having prepared some tea and bread, he set off to her
     ralief. When he arrived, the following scene presented
     itself:--In the window lay the loaf, where it had been
     deposited four days previously; in one corner of the
     cabin, on a little straw, without covering of any kind,
     lay the wretched mother, actually dying, and her infant
     dead by her side, for the want of that sustenance which
     she had not to give; on the floor lay the children, to
     all appearance dying also of cold and hunger. At first
     they refused to take anything, and he had to pour a
     little liquid down their throats--with the cautious
     administration of food they gradually recovered. The
     woman expired before the visitor quitted the house.’--
     Letter from Dr. Mucarthney, Monivae.

     “‘A man, his wife, and two children lay together in a
     fever. The man died in the night; his wife, nearly
     convalescent, was so terrified with his corpse in the
     same bed with her, that she relapsed, and died in two
     days after; the children recovered from fever, but the
     eldest lost his reason by the fright. Many other scenes
     have I witnessed, which would be too tedious to
     relate.’--Barker & Oheyne’s Report.

     “I know not of any visitation so much to be dreaded as
     epidemic fever; it is worse than the plague, for it
     lasts throughout all seasons. Cholera may seem more
     frightful, but it is in reality less destructive. It
     terminates rapidly in death, or in as rapid recovery.
     Its visitation, too, is short, and it leaves those who
     recover unimpaired in health and strength. Civil war,
     were it not for its crimes, would be, as far as regards
     the welfare of a country, a visitation less to be
     dreaded than epidemic fever.”

     *****

     “It is not possible, then, to form an exaggerated
     picture of the sufferings of a million and a half of
     people in these countries, in their convalescence from
     fever, deprived of, not only the comforts, but even the
     necessaries of life, with scanty food, and fuel, and
     covering, only rising from fever to slowly fall victims
     to those numerous chronic diseases that are sure to
     seize upon enfeebled constitutions. Death would be to
     many a more merciful dispensation than such a
     recovery.”--Famine and Fever, as Clause and Effect in
     Ireland, &a., &o. By D. J. Cohkigan, Esq., M.D.,
     M.K.C.S.B. Dublin: J. Fannin & Co., Grafton Street.

It was to such a state of general tumult that the Prophet and his family
arose on the morning of the following day. As usual, he was grim and
sullen, but on this occasion his face had a pallid and sunken look in
it, which apparently added at least ten years to his age. There was
little spoken, and after breakfast he prepared to go out. Sarah, during
the whole morning, watched his looks, and paid a marked attention to
every thing he said. He appeared, however, to be utterly unconscious
of the previous night’s adventure, a fact which his daughter easily
perceived, and which occasioned her to feel a kind of vague compassion
for him, in consequence of the advantage it might give Nelly over
him; for of late she began to participate in her father’s fears and
suspicions of that stubborn and superstitious personage.

“Father,” said she, as he was about to go out, “is it fair to ax where
you are going?”

“It’s neither fair nor foul,” he replied; “but if it’s any satisfaction
to you to know, I won’t tell you.”

“Have you any objections then, that I should walk a piece of the way
with you?”

“Not if you have come to your senses, as you ought, about what I
mentioned to you.”

“I have something to say to you,” she replied, without noticing the
allusion he had made; “something that you ought to know.”

“An’ why not mention it where we are?”

“Bekaise I don’t wish her there to know it.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” replied Nelly; “I feel your kindness--an,’ dear
me, what a sight o’ wisdom I’ll lose by bein’ kep’ out o’ the
saicret--saicret indeed! A fig for yourself an’ your saicret; maybe I
have my saicret as well as you.”

“Well, then,” replied Sarah, “if you have, do you keep yours as I’ll
keep mine, and then we’ll be aiquil. Come, father, for I must go from
home too. Indeed I think this is the last day I’ll be with either of you
for some time--maybe ever.”

“What do you mane?” said the father.

“Hut!” said the mother, “what a goose you are! Charley Hanlon, to be
sure; I suppose she’ll run off wid him. Oh, thin, God pity him or any
other one that’s doomed to be blistered wid you!”

Sarah flashed like lightning, and her frame began to work with that
extraordinary energy which always accompanied the manifestation of her
resentment.

“You will,” said she, approaching the other--“you will, after your
escape the other day; you--no, ah! no--I won’t now; I forgot myself.
Come, father,--come, come; my last quarrel with her is over.”

“Ay,” returned Nelly, as they went out, “there you go, an’ a sweet pair
you are--father and daughter!”

“Now, father,” resumed Sarah, after they had got out of hearing, “will
you tell me if you slep’ well last night?”

“Why do you ax?” he replied; “to be sure I did.”

“I’ll tell you why I ax,” she answered; “do you know that you went last
night--in the middle of the night--to the murdhered man’s grave, in the
glen there?”

It is impossible to express the look of astonishment and dismay which he
turned up on her at these words.

“Sarah!” he said, sternly; but she interrupted him.

“It’s thruth,” said she; “an I went with--”

“What are you spakin’ about? Me go out, an’ not know it! Nonsense!”

“You went in your sleep, she rejoined.

“Did I spake?” said he, with a black and; ghastly look.
“What--what--tell me--eh? What did I say?”

“You talked a good deal, an’ said that it was Condy Dalton that
murdhered him, and that you had Red Rody to prove it.”

“That was what I said?--eh, Sarah?”

“That’s what you said, an’ I thought it was only right to tell you.”

“It was right, Sarah; but at the same time, at the peril of your life,
never folly me there again. Of coorse, you know now that Sullivan is
buried there.”

“I do,” said she; “but that’s no great comfort, although it is to know
that you didn’t murdher him. At any rate, father, remember what I tould
you about Condy Dalton. Lave him to God; an’ jist that you may feel
what you ought to feel on the subject, suppose you were in his
situation--suppose for a minute that it was yourself that murdhered
him--then ask, would you like to be dragged out from us and hanged, in
your ould age, like a dog--a disgrace to all belongin’ to you. Father,
I’ll believe that Condy Dalton murdhered him, when I hear it from his
own lips, but not till then. Now, Good-bye. You won’t find me at home
when you come back, I think.”

“Why, where are you goin’?”

“There’s plenty for me to do,” she replied; “there’s the sick an’ the
dyin’ on all hands about me, an’ it’s a shame for any one that has a
heart in their body, to see their fellow-creatures gaspin’ for want of
a dhrop of cowld wather to wet their lips, or a hand to turn them where
they lie. Think of how many poor sthrangers is lyin’ in ditches an’ in
barns, an’ in outhouses, without a livin’ bein’ a’most to look to them,
or reach them any single thing they want; no, even to bring the priest
to them, that they might die reconciled to the Almighty. Isn’t it a
shame, then, for me, an’ the likes o’ me, that has health an’ strength,
an’ nothin’ to do, to see my fellow-creatures dyin’ on all hands about
me, for want of the very assistance that I can afford them. At any rate,
I wouldn’t live in the house with that woman, an’ you know that, an’
that I oughtn’t.”

“But aren’t you afeard of catchin’ this terrible faver, that’s takin’
away so many, if you go among them’?”

“Afeard!” she replied; “no, father, I feel no fear either of that or
anything else. If I die, I lave a world that I never had much happiness
in, an’ I know that I’ll never be happy again in it. What then have I to
fear from death? Any change for me must now be for the betther; at all
events it can hardly be for the worse. No; my happiness is gone.”

“What in Heaven’s name is the matther with you?” asked her father; “an’
what brings the big tears into your eyes that way?”

“Good-bye,” said she; and as she spoke, a melancholy smile--at once sad
and brilliant--irradiated her features. “It’s not likely, father, that
ever you’ll see me under your roof again. Forgive me all my follies now,
maybe it’s the last time ever you’ll have an opportunity.”

“Tut, you foolish girl; it’s enough to sicken one to hear you spake such
stuff!”

She stood and looked at him for a moment, and the light of her smile
gradually deepened, or rather faded away, until nothing remained but a
face of exquisite beauty, deeply shadowed by anxiety and distress.

The Prophet pursued his way to Dick o’ the Grange’s, whither, indeed,
he was bent; Sarah, having looked after him for a moment with a troubled
face, proceeded in the direction of old Dalton’s, with the sufferings
and pitiable circumstances of whose family she was already but too well
acquainted. Her journey across the country presented her with little
else than records of death, suffering, and outrage. Along the roads the
funerals were so frequent, that, in general, they excited no particular
notice. They could, in fact scarcely be termed funerals, inasmuch as
they were now nothing more than squalid and meagre-looking knots of
those who were immediately related to the deceased, hurrying onward,
with reckless speed and disturbed looks to the churchyard, where their
melancholy burthen was hastily covered up with scarcely any exhibition
of that simple and affecting decorum, or of those sacred and natural
sorrows, which in other circumstances throw their tender but solemn
light over the last offices of death. As she went along, new and more
startling objects of distress attracted her notice. In dry and sheltered
places she observed little temporary sheds, which, in consequence of the
dreadful panic which always accompanies an epidemic in Ireland, had, to
a timid imagination, something fearful about them, especially when it
is considered that death and contagion were then at work in them in such
terrible shapes. To Sarah, however, they had no terrors; so far from
that, a great portion of the day was spent by her in relieving their
wretched, and, in many cases, dying inmates, as well as she could. She
brought them water, lit fires for them, fixed up their shed, and even
begged aid for them from the neighbors around, and, as far as she could,
did everything to ease their pain, or smooth their last moment by the
consolation of her sympathy. If she met a family on the highway, worn
with either illness or fatigue--perhaps an unhappy mother, surrounded
by a helpless brood, bearing, or rather tottering under a couple of sick
children, who were unable to walk--she herself, perhaps, also ill, as
was often the case--she would instantly take one of them out ‘of the
poor creature’s arms, and carry it in her own as far as she happened
to go in that direction, utterly careless of contagion, or all other
consequences.

In this way was she engaged towards evening when at a turn of the road
she was met by a large crowd of rioters, headed by Red Rody, Tom Dalton,
and many others in the parish who were remarkable only for a tendency to
ruffianism and outrage; for we may remark here, that on occasions such
as we are describing, it is generally those who have suffered least, and
have but little or nothing to complain of, that lead the misguided and
thoughtless people into crime, and ultimately into punishment.

The change that had come over young Dalton was frightful; he was not
half his former size; his clothes were now in rags, his beard grown,
his whole aspect and appearance that of some miscreant, in whom it was
difficult to say whether the ruffian or the idiot predominated the
most. He appeared now in his glory--frantic and destructive; but amidst
all this drivelling impetuosity, it was not difficult to detect some
desperate and unshaken purpose in his heavy but violent and bloodshot
eyes.

Far different from him was Red Rody, who headed his own section of
them with an easy but knowing swagger; now nodding his head with some
wonderful purpose which nobody could understand; or winking at some
acquaintance with an indefinite meaning, that set them a guessing at it
in vain. It was easy to see that he was a knave, but one of those
knaves on whom no earthly reliance could be placed, and who would betray
to-morrow, for good reasons, and without a moment’s hesitation, those
whom he had corrupted to-day.

“Come, Tom,” said Rody, “we have scattered a few of the meal-mongin’
vagabonds; weren’t you talkin’ about that blessed voteen, ould Darby
Skinadre? The villain that allowed Peggy Murtagh an’ her child to starve
to death! Aren’t we to pay him a visit?”

Dalton coughed several times, to clear his throat; a settled hoarseness
having given a frightful hollowness to his voice. “Ay,” said he--“ha,
ha, ha--by the broken-heart she died of--well--well--eh, Rody, what are
we to do to him?”

Rody looked significantly at the crowd, and grinned, and touched his
forehead, and pointed at Dalton.

“That boy’s up to everything,” said he; “he’s the man to head us
all--ha, ha!”

“Never mind laughin’ at him, anyway,” observed one of his friends;
“maybe if you suffered what he did, poor fellow, an’ his family too,
that it’s not fun you’d be makin’ of him.”

“Why,” asked a new comer; “what’s wrong wid him?”

“He’s not at himself,” replied the other, “ever since he had the faver;
that, they say, an’ the death of a very purty girl he was goin’ to be
married to, has put him beside himself, the Lord save us!”

“Come on now,” shouted Tom, in his terrible voice; “here’s the greatest
of all before us still. Who wants meal now? Come on, I say--ha, ha, ha!
Is there any of you hungry? Is there any of you goin’ to die for want of
food? Now’s your time--ho, ho! Now, Peggy, now. Amn’t I doin’ it? Ay,
am I, an’ it’s all for your sake, Peggy dear, for, I swore by the broken
heart you died of--ay, an’ didn’t I tell you that last night on your
grave where I slep’. No, he wouldn’t--he wouldn’t--but now--now--he’ll
see the differ--ay, an’ feel it too. Come on,” he shouted, “who-ever’s
hungry, folly me! ha, ha, ha!”

This idiotic, but ferocious laugh, echoing such a dreadful purpose, was
appalling; but the people who knew what he had suffered, only felt it as
a more forcible incentive to outrage. Darby’s residence was now quite at
hand, and in a few minutes it was surrounded by such a multitude, both
of men and women, as no other occasion could ever bring together. The
people were, in fact, almost lost in their own garments; some were
without coats or waistcoats to protect them from the elements, having
been forced, poor wretches, to part with them for food; others had
nightcaps or handkerchiefs upon their heads instead of hats; a certain
proof that they were only in a state of convalescence from fever--the
women stood with dishevelled hair--some of them half naked, and others
leading their children about, or bearing them in their arms; altogether
they presented such an appearance as was enough to wring the benevolent
heart with compassion and. sorrow for their sufferings.

On arriving at Darby’s house, they found it closed, but not deserted.
At first, Tom Dalton knocked, and desired the door to be opened, but the
women who were present, whether with shame or with honor to the sex, we
are at a loss to say, felt so eager on the occasion, probably for
the purpose of avenging Peggy Murtagh, that they lost not a moment
in shivering in the windows, and attacking the house with stones and
missiles of every description. In a few minutes the movement became so
general and simultaneous that the premises were a perfect wreck,
and nothing was to be seen but meal and flour, and food of every
description, either borne off by the hungry crowd, or scattered most
wickedly and wantonly through the streets, while, in the very midst of
the tumult, Tom Dalton was seen dragging poor Darby out by the throat,
and over to the centre of the street.

“Now,” said he, “here I have you at last--ha, ha, ha!”--his voice,
by the way, as he spoke and laughed, had become fearfully deep and
hollow--“now, Peggy dear, didn’t I swear it--by the broken heart
you died of, I said, an’ I’ll keep that sacred oath, darlin’.” While
speaking, the thin fleshless face of the miser was becoming black--his
eyes were getting blood-shot, and, in a very short time, strangulation
must have closed his wretched existence, when a young and tall female
threw herself by a bound upon Dalton, whom she caught by the throat,
precisely as he himself had caught Darby. It was Sarah, who saw that there
was but little time to lose in order to save the wretch’s life. Her grip
was so effectual, that Dalton was obliged to relax his hold upon the
other for the purpose of defending himself.

“Who is this?” said he; “let me go, you had better, till I have his
life--let me go, I say.”

“It’s one,” she replied, “that’s not afeard but ashamed of you. You, a
young man, to go strangle a weak, helpless ould creature, that hasn’t
strength or breath to defend himself no more then a child.”

“Didn’t he starve Peggy Murtagh?” replied Tom; “ha, ha, ha!--didn’t he
starve her and her child?”

“No,” she replied aloud, and with glowing cheeks; “it’s false--it wasn’t
he but yourself that starved her and her child. Who deserted her--who
brought her to shame, an’ to sorrow, in her own heart an’ in the eyes
of the world? Who left her to the bitter and vile tongues of the whole
counthry? Who refused to marry her, and kept her so that she couldn’t
raise her face before her fellow cratures? Who sent her, without hope,
or any expectation of happiness in this life--this miserable life--to
the glens and lonely ditches about the neighborhood, where she did
nothing but shed blither tears of despair and shame at the heartless
lot you brought her to? An’ when she was desarted by the wide world, an’
hadn’t a friendly face to look to but God’s, an’ when one kind word from
your lips would give her hope, an’ comfort, an’ happiness, where were
you? and where was that kind word that would have saved her? Let the
old man go, you unmanly coward; it wasn’t him that starved her--it was
yourself that starved her, and broke her heart!”

“Did yez hear that?” said Dalton; “ha, ha, ha--an’ it’s all thrue; she
has tould me nothing but the thruth--here, then, take the ould vagabond
away with you, and do what you like with him--”

     “‘I am a bold and rambling boy,
     My lodging’s in the isle of Throy;
     A rambling boy, although I be,
     I’d lave them all an’ folly thee.’

Ha, ha, ha!--but come, boys, pull away; we’ll finish the wreck of this
house, at any rate.”

“Wreck away,” said Sarah, “I have nothin’ to do with that; but I think
them women--man-women I ought to call them--might consider that there’s
many a starvin’ mouth that would be glad to have a little of what
they’re throwin’ about so shamefully. Do you come with me, Darby; I’ll
save you as far as I can, an’ as long as I’m able.”

“I will, achora,” replied Darby, “an’ may God bless you, for you have
saved my life; but why should they attack me? Sure the world knows, an’
God knows, that my heart bleeds--”

“Whisht,” she exclaimed, “the world an’ God both know it’s a lie, if you
say your heart bleeds for any thing but the destruction that you see
on your place. If you had given Peggy Murtagh the meal, she might be a
livin’ woman to-day; so no more falsehoods now, or I’ll turn you back to
Tom Dalton’s clutches.”

“No, then,” replied the trembling wretch, “I won’t; but between you
an’ me, then,--an’ it needn’t go farther--troth my heart bleeds for the
severity that’s--”

“One word more,” she replied, “an’ I lave you to what you’ll get.”

Sarah’s interference had a singular effect upon the crowd. The
female portion of it having reflected upon her words, soon felt and
acknowledged their truth, because they involved a principle of justice
and affection to their sex; while the men, without annexing any moral
consideration to the matter, felt themselves influenced by her exquisite
figure and great beauty.

“She’s the Black Prophet’s daughter,” exclaimed the women; “an’ if the
devil was in her, she tould Tom Dalton nothing but the truth, at any
rate.”

“An’ they say the devil is in her, the Lord save us, if ever he was in
any one--keep away from her--my sowl in Heaven! but she’d think no more
of tearin’ your eyes out, or stickin’ you wid a case-knife, than you
would of aitin’ bread an’ butther.”

“Blessed Father!” exclaimed another, “did you see the brightness of her
eyes while she was spakin?”

“No matther what she is,” said a young fellow beside them; “the devil a
purtier crature ever was made; be my soul, I only wish I had a thousand
pounds, I wouldn’t be long without a wife at any rate.”

The crowd having wrecked Skinadre’s dwelling, and carried off and
destroyed almost his whole stock of provisions, now proceeded in a
different direction, with the intention of paying a similar visit to
some similar character. Sarah and Darby--for he durst not venture, for
the present, towards his own house--now took their way to the cabin
of old Condy Dalton, where they arrived just in time to find the house
surrounded by the officers of justice, and some military.

“Ah,” thought Sarah, on seeing them; “it is done, then, an’ you lost but
little time about it. May God forgive you, father.”

They had scarcely entered, when one of the officers pulling out a paper,
looked at it and asked, “Isn’t your name Condy or Cornelius Dalton?”--

“That is my name,” said the old man.

“I arrest you, then,” he continued, “for the murder of one Bartholomew
Sullivan.”

“It is the will of God,” replied the old man, while the tears flowed
down his cheeks--“it’s God’s will, an’ I won’t consale it any longer;
take me away--I’m guilty--I’m guilty.”



CHAPTEE XXI. -- Condy Datton goes to Prison.

The scene that presented itself in Condy Dalton’s miserable cabin was
one, indeed, which might well harrow any heart not utterly callous to
human sympathy. The unhappy old man had been sitting in the armchair we
have alluded to, his chin resting on his breast, and his mind apparently
absorbed in deep and painful reflection, when the officers of justice
entered. Many of our Landlord readers, and all, probably, of our
Absentee ones, will, in the simplicity of their ignorance regarding the
actual state of the lower classes, most likely take it for granted
that the picture we are about to draw exists nowhere but in our own
imagination. Would to God that it were so! Gladly and willingly would we
take to ourselves all the shame; acknowledge all the falsehood; pay
the highest penalty for all the moral guilt of our misrepresentations,
provided only any one acquainted with the country could prove to us
that we are wrong, change our nature, or, in other words, falsify the
evidence of our senses and obliterate our experience of the truths we
are describing.

Old Dalton was sitting, as we have said, in the only memorial of his
former respectability now left him--the old arm-chair--when the men
bearing the warrant for his arrest presented themselves. The rain
was pouring down in that close, dark, and incessant fall, which gives
scarcely any hope of its ending, and throws the heart into that anxious
and gloomy state which every one can feel and perhaps no one describe.

The cabin in which the Daltons now lived was of the poorest description.
When ejected from their large holding by Dick o’ the Grange, or in other
words, were auctioned out, they were unhappily at a loss where to find
a place in which they could take a temporary refuge. A kind neighbor who
happened to have the cabin in question lying unoccupied, or rather
waste upon his hands, made them an offer of it; not, as he said, in
the expectation that they could live in it for any length of time, but
merely until they could provide themselves with a more comfortable and
suitable abode.

“He wished,” he added, “it was better for their sakes; and sorry he was
to see such a family brought so low as to live in it at all!”

Alas! he knew not at the time how deeply the unfortunate family in
question were steeped in distress and poverty. They accepted this
miserable cabin; but in spite of every effort to improve their
condition, days, weeks, and months passed, and still found them unable
to make a change for the better.

When Darby and Sarah entered, they found young Con, who had now
relapsed, lying in one corner of the cabin, on a wretched shake-down bed
of damp straw; while on another of the same description lay his amiable
and affectionate sister Nancy. The cabin stood, as we have said, in a
low, moist situation, the floor of it being actually lower--which is a
common case--than the ground about it outside. It served, therefore,
as a receptacle for the damp and under-water which the incessant
down-pouring of rain during the whole season had occasioned. It was
therefore, dangerous to tread upon the floor, it was so soft and
slippery. The rain, which fell heavily, now came down through the roof
in so many places that they were forced to put under it such vessels as
they could spare, not even excepting the beds over each of which were
placed old clothes, doubled up under dishes, pots, and little bowls,
in order, if possible, to keep them dry. The house--if such it could
be called--was almost destitute of furniture, nothing but a few pots,
dishes, wooden noggins, some spoons, and some stools being their
principal furniture, with the exception of one standing short-posted
bed, in a corner, near the fire. There, then, in that low, damp, dark,
pestilential kraal, without chimney or window, sat the old man, who,
notwithstanding its squalid misery, could have looked upon it as a
palace, had he been able to say to his own heart--I am not a murderer.

There, we say, he sat alone, surrounded by pestilence and famine in
their most fearful shapes, listening to the moanings of his sick family,
and the ceaseless dropping of the rain, which fell into the vessels that
were placed to receive it. Mrs. Dalton was “out,” a term which was used
in the bitter misery of the period, to indicate that the person to whom
it applied had been driven to the last resource of mendicancy; and his
other daughter, Mary, had gone to a neighbor’s house to beg a little
fire.

As the old man uttered the words, no language could describe the misery
which was depicted on his countenance.

“Take me,” he exclaimed; “ah, no; for then what will become of these?”
 pointing to his son and daughter, who were sick.

The very minions of the law felt for him; and the chief of them said, in
a voice of kindness and compassion:

“It’s a distressin’ case; but if you’ll be guided by me, you won’t say
anything that may be brought against yourself. I was never engaged,”
 said he, looking towards Darby and Sarah, to whom he partly addressed
his discourse, “in anything so painful as this. A man of his age, now
afther so many years! However--well--it can’t be helped; we must do our
duty.”

“Where is the rest of your family?” asked another of them; “is this
young woman a daughter of yours?”

“Not at all,” replied a third; “this is a daughter of the Black Prophet
himself; and, by japers, you hardened gipsey, it’s a little too bad for
you to come to see how your blasted ould father’s work gets on. It’s his
evidence that’s bringin’ this dacent ould man from his family to a gaol,
this miserable evenin’. Be off out o’ this, I desire you; I wondher
you’re not ashamed to be present here, above all places in the world,
you brazen devil.”

Sarah’s whole soul, however, in all its best and noblest sympathies, had
passed into and mingled with the scene of unparalleled misery which was
then before her. She went rapidly to the bed in which young Con was I
stretched; stooped down, and looking closely at him, perceived that he
was in a broken and painful slumber. She then passed to that in which
his sister lay, and saw that she was also asleep. After a glance at
each, she rubbed her hands with a kind of wild satisfaction, and going
up to old Dalton, exclaimed--for she had not heard a syllable of the
language used towards her by the officer of justice--

“Ay,” said she, laying her hand upon his white hairs; “you are to be
pitied this night, poor ould man; but which of you, oh, which of you
is to be pitied most, you or them! an’ your wife, too; an’ your other
daughter, an’ your other son, too; but he’s past under-standin’ it;
oh, what will they do? At your age, too--at your age! Oh, couldn’t you
die?--couldn’t you contrive, someway, to die?--couldn’t you give one
great struggle, an’ then break your heart at wanst, an’ forever!”

These words were uttered rapidly, but in a low and cautious voice, for
she still feared to awaken those who slept.

The old man had also been absorbed in, his own misery; for he looked
at her inquiringly, and only replied, “Poor girl, what is it you’re
saying?”

“I’m biddin’ you to die,” she replied, “if you can, you needn’t be
afeard of God--he has punished you enough for the crime you have
committed. Try an’ die, if you can--or if you can’t--oh,” she exclaimed,
“I pray God that you--that he, there--” and she ran and bent over young
Con’s bed for a moment; “that you--that you may never recover, or live
to see what you must see.”

“It’s a fact, that between hunger and this sickness,” continued he who
had addressed her last, “they say an’ I know that there’s great number
of people silly; but I think this lady is downright mad; what do you
mane, you clip?”

Sarah stared at him impatiently, but without any anger.

“He doesn’t hear me,” she added, again putting her hand in a distracted
manner upon Dalton’s gray hair; “no, no; but since it can’t be so,
there’s not a minute to be lost. Oh, take him away, now,” she proceeded,
“take him away while they’re asleep, an’ before his wife and daughter
comes home--take him away, now; and spare him--spare them--spare them
all as much sufferin’ as you can.”

“There’s not much madness in that, Jack,” returned one of them; “I
think it would be the best thing we could do. Are you ready to come now,
Dalton?” asked the man.

“Who’s that,” said the old man, in a voice of indescribable woe
and sorrow; “who’s that was talkin’ of a broken heart? Oh, God,” he
exclaimed, looking up to Heaven, with a look of intense agony, “support
me--support them; and if it be your blessed will, pity us all; but above
all things, pity them, oh, Heavenly Father, and don’t punish them for my
sin!”

“It’s false,” exclaimed Sarah, looking on Dalton, and reasoning
apparently with herself; “he never committed a could blooded murdher;
an’ the Sullivans are--are--oh--take him away,” she said, still in
a low, rapid voice; “take him away! Come now,” she added, approaching
Dalton again; “come--while they’re asleep, an’ you’ll save them an’
yourself much distress. I’m not afeard of your wife--for she can bear
it if any wife could--but I do your poor daughter, an’ she so weak an’
feeble afther her illness; come.”

Dalton looked at her, and said:

“Who is this girl that seems to feel so much for me? but whoever she is,
may God bless her, for I feel that she’s right. Take me away before they
waken! oh, she is right in every word she says, for I am not afeard of
my wife--her trust in God is too firm for anything to shake. I’m ready;
but I fear I’ll scarcely be able to walk all the way--an’ sich an
evenin’ too--Young woman, will you break this business to these ones,
and to my wife, as you can?”

“Oh, I will, I will,” she replied; “as well as I can; you did well to
say so,” she added, in a low voice to herself; “an’ I’ll stay here with
your sick family, an’ I’ll watch an’ attend them. Whatever can be done
by the like o’ me for them, I’ll do. I’ll--I’ll not lave them--I’ll
nurse them--I’ll take care of them--I’ll beg for them--oh, what would I
not do for them?” and while speaking she bent over young Con’s bed, and
clasping her hands, and wringing them several times, she repeated “oh
what wouldn’t I do for you!”

“May God bless you, best of girls, whoever you are! Come, now, I’m
ready.”

“Ay,” said Sarah, running over to him, “that’s right--I’ll break the
bitter news to them as well as it can be done; come, now.”

The old man stood, in the midst of his desolation, with his hat in his
hand, and he looked towards the beds.

“Poor things!” he exclaimed; “what a change has come over you, for what
you wanst, an’ that not long since, wor. Never, my darlin’ childhre--oh,
never did one harsh or undutiful word come from your lips to your
unhappy father. In my ould age and misery I’m now lavin’ you--may be
forever--never, maybe, to see you again in this world; an’ oh, my God,
if we are never to meet in the other; if the innocent and the guilty is
never to meet, then this is my last look at you, for everlastin’, for
everlastin’! I can’t do it,” he added, weeping bitterly--“I must take my
lave of them; I must kiss their lips.”

Sarah, while he spoke, had uttered two or three convulsive sobs; but she
shed no tears; on the contrary, her eyes were singularly animated and
brilliant. She put her arms about him, and said, in a soothing and
solicitous tone:

“Oh, no, it’s all thrue; but if you kiss them, you’ll disturb and waken
them; and then, you know, when they see you taken away in this manner,
an’ hears what it’s for, it may be their death.”

“Thrue, achora; thrue: well, I will only look at them, then. Let me keep
my eyes on them for a little; may be they may go first, an’ may be I may
go first; the last time, may be, for everlastin’, that I’ll see them!”

He went over, as he spoke, Sarah still having her hand upon his arm,
as if to intimate her anxiety to keep him under such control as might
prevent him from awakening them; and, standing first over the miserable
bed where Nancy slept, he looked down upon her.

“Ay,” said he, while the tears showered down his cheeks, “there lies the
child that never vexed a parent’s heart or ruffled one of our tempers.
May the blessin’, if it is a blessin’, or can be a blessin’--”

“It is, it is,” said Sarah, with a quick, short sob; “it is a blessin’,
an’ a holy blessin’; but bless him--bless him, too!”

“May my blessin’ rest upon you, or rather may the blessin’ of Almighty
God, rest upon you, daughter of my heart! And you too,” he proceeded,
turning to the other bed; “here is him that among them all I loved the
best; my youngest, an’ called afther myself--may my blessin’ an’ the
blessin’ of God and my Saviour rest upon you, my darlin’ son; an’ if
I never see either of you in this unhappy world, grant, oh, merciful
Father, that we may meet in the glory of Heaven, when that stain will be
taken away from me for that crime that I have repented for so long an’
so bittherly?”

Sarah, while he spoke, had let go his arm, and placing her two hands
over her eyes, her whole breast quivered; and the men, on looking at
her, saw the tears gushing out in torrents from between her finger. She
turned round, however, for a few moments, as if to compose herself;
and, when she again approached the old man, there was a smile--a smile,
brilliant, but agitated, in her eyes and upon her lips.

“There now,” she proceeded; “you have said all you can say; come, go
with them. Ah,” she exclaimed with a start of pain, “all we’ve done
or tried to do is lost, I doubt. Here’s his wife and daughter. Come out
now,” said she addressing him, “say a word or two to them outside.”

Just as she spoke, Mrs. Dalton and the poor invalid, Mary, entered the
house: the one with some scanty supply of food, and the other bearing a
live coal between two turf, one under and the other over it.

“Wait,” said Sarah, “I’ll speak to them before they come in.” And, ere
the words were uttered, she met them.

“Come here, Mrs. Dalton,” said she; “stop a minute, speak to this poor
girl, and support her. These sogers, and the constables inside, is come
about Sullivan’s business, long ago.”

“I know it,” replied Mrs. Dalton; “I’ve just heard all about it, there
beyond; but she,” pointing to her daughter, “has only crossed the ditch
from the commons, and joined me this minute.”

“Give me these,” said Sarah to the girl, “and stay here till I come out
again, wet as it is. Your mother will tell you why.”

She took the fire from her as she spoke, and, running in, laid it upon
the hearth, placing, at the same time, two or three turf about in a
hurried manner, but still in a way that argued great presence of mind,
amid all her distraction. On going out again, however, the first object
she saw was one of the soldiers supporting the body of poor Mary, who
had sunk under the intelligence. Mrs. Dalton having entered the
cabin, and laid down the miserable pittance of food which she had been
carrying, now waved her hand with authority and singular calmness, but
at the same time with a face as pallid as death itself.

“This is a solemn hour,” said she, “an’ a woful sight in this place of
misery. Keep quiet, all of you. I know what this is about, dear Condy,”
 she said; “I know it; but what is the value of our faith, if it doesn’t
teach us obedience? Kiss your child, here,” said she, “an’ go--or come,
I ought to say, for I will go with you. It’s not to be wondhered at that
she couldn’t bear it, weak, and worn, and nearly heartbroken as she is.
Bless her, too, before you go. An’ this girl,” she said, pointing at
Mary, and addressing Sarah, “you will spake to her, an’ support her as
well as you can, and stay with them all for an hour or two. I can’t lave
him.”

Dalton, while she spoke, had taken Mary in his arms, kissed her, and, as
in the case of the others, blessed her with a fervor only surpassed by
his sorrow and utter despair.

“I will stay with them,” said Sarah; “don’t doubt that--not for an hour
or two, but till they come to either life or death; so I tould him.”

“It’s a bitther case,” said Mrs. Dalton; “a bitther case; but then it’s
God’s gracious will, an’ them that He loves He chastises. Blessed be His
name for all He does, and blessed be His name ever for this!”

Mary now recovered in her father’s arms; and her mother, in a low but
energetic voice, pointing to the beds, said:

“Think of them, darlin’. There now, part with him. This world, I often
tould you dear, Mary, is not our place, but our passage; an’ although
it’s painful let us not forget that it is God Himself that is guidin’
and directin’ us through it. Come, Con dear, come.”

A long mournful embrace, and another sorrowful but fervent blessing,
and with a feeble effort at consolation, Dalton parted with the weeping
girl; and placing his hat on his white head, he gave one long look--one
indescribable look--upon all that was so dear to him in this scene of
unutterable misery, and departed. He had not gone far, however, when he
returned a step or two towards the door; and Mary, having noticed this,
went to him, and throwing her arms once more about his neck, exclaimed:

“Oh! Father, darlin’ an’ is it come to this? Oh, did we ever complain or
grumble about all we suffered, while we had you wid us? no, we wouldn’t.
What was our sufferins, father, dear--nothing. But, oh, nothing ever
broke our hearts, or troubled us, but to see you in sich sorrow.”

“It’s thrue, Mary darlin’; you wor all--all a blessin’ to me; but I feel,
threasure of my heart, that my sorrows an’ my cares will soon be over.
It’s about Tom I come back. Och, sure I didn’t care what he or we might
suffer, if it had plased God to lave him in his senses; but maybe now
he’s happier than we are. Tell him--if he can understand it, or when he
does understand it--that I lave my blessin’ and God’s blessin’ with him
for evermore--for evermore: an’ with you all; an’ with you, too, young
woman, for evermore, amen! And now come; I submit myself to the will of
my marciful Saviour.”

He looked up to heaven as he spoke, his two hands raised aloft; after
which he covered his venerable head, and, with this pious and noble
instance of resignation, did the affectionate old man proceed, as well
as his feeble limbs could support him, to the county prison, accompanied
by his pious and truly Christian wife.

As the men were about to go, he who had addressed Sarah so rudely,
approached her with as much regret on his face as its hardened and
habitual indifference to human misery could express, and said, tapping
her on the shoulder:

“I was rather rough to you, jist now, my purty girl--to’ be jabers, it’
is you that is the purty girl. I dunna, by the way, how the ould Black
Prophet came by the likes o’ you; but, then he was a handsome vagabond
in his day, himself, an’ you are like him.”

“What do you want to say?” she asked, impatiently; “but stand outside,
I won’t speak to you here--your voice would waken a corpse. Here, now,”
 she added, having gone out upon the causeway, “what is it?”

“Why, devil a thing,” he replied; “only you’re a betther girl than I
tuck you to be. It’s a pitiful case, this--a woful case at his time o’
life. Be heaventhers, but I’d rather a thousand times see Black Boy,
your own precious father, swing, than this poor ould man.”

A moment’s temporary fury was visible, but she paused, and it passed
away; after which she returned slowly and thoughtfully into the cabin.

It is unnecessary to say, that almost immediately the general rumor
of Dalton’s arrest for the murder had gone through the whole parish,
together with the fact that it was upon the evidence of the Black
Prophet and Red Rody Duncan, that the proof of it had been brought home
to him. Upon the former occasion there had been nothing against him,
but such circumstances of strong suspicion as justified the neighboring
magistrates in having him taken into custody. On this, however, the two
men were ready to point out the identical spot where the body had been
buried, and to identify it as that of Bartholomew Sullivan. Nothing
remained, therefore, now that Dalton was in custody, but to hold an
inquest upon the remains, and to take the usual steps for the trial
of Dalton at the following assizes, which were not very far distant.
Indeed, notwithstanding the desolation that prevailed throughout the
country, and in spite of the care and sorrow which disease and death
brought home to so many in the neighborhood, there was a very general
feeling of compassion experienced for poor old Dalton and his afflicted
family. And among those who sympathized with them, there was scarcely
one who expressed himself more strongly upon the subject than Mr.
Travers, the head agent of the property on which they had lived,
especially upon contrasting the extensive farm and respectable
residence, from which their middleman landlord had so harshly and
unjustly ejected them, with the squalid kennel in which they then
endured such a painful and pitiable existence. This gentleman had come
to the neighborhood, in order to look closely into the condition of the
property which had been entrusted to his management, in consequence of
a great number of leases having expired; some of which had been held
by extensive and wealthy middlemen, among the latter of whom was our
friend, Dick o’ the Grange.

The estate was the property of an English, nobleman, who derived an
income of thirty-two or thirty-three thousand a year from it; and who
though, as landlords went, was not, in many respects, a bad one; yet
when called upon to aid in relieving the misery of those from whose toil
he drew so large an income, did actually remit back the munificent sum
of one hundred pounds! [A recent fact.] The agent, himself, was one of
those men who are capable of a just, but not of a generous action. He
could, for instance, sympathize with the frightful condition of the
people--but to contribute to their relief was no part of his duty. Yet
he was not a bad man. In his transactions with his landlord’s tenancy,
he was fair, impartial, and considerate. Whenever he could do a good
turn, or render a service, without touching his purse, he would do it.
He had, it is true, very little intercourse with the poorer class of
under tenants, but, whenever circumstances happened to bring them
before him, they found him a hard, just man, who paid attention to their
complaints, but who, in a case of doubt, always preferred the interest
of his employer, or his own, to theirs. He had received many complaints
and statements against the middlemen who resided upon the property, and
he had duly and carefully considered them. His present visit, therefore,
proceeded from a determination to look closely into the state and
condition of the general tenancy, by which he meant as well those who
derived immediately from the head landlord, as those who held under
middlemen. One virtue he possessed, which, in an agent, deserves every
praise; he was inaccessible to bribery on the one hand, or flattery on
the other; and he never permitted his religious or political principles
to degenerate into prejudice, so far as to interfere with the impartial
discharge of his duty. Such was Robert James Travers, Esq., and we only
wish that every agent in the country at large would follow his example.



CHAPTER XXII. -- Re-appearance of the Box--Friendly Dialogue Between
Jimmy Branighan and the Pedlar


The next morning but one after the committal of Condy Dalton, the
strange woman who had manifested such an anxious interest in the
recovery of the Tobacco-Box, was seated at her humble fireside, in a
larger and more convenient cottage than that which we have described,
where she was soon joined by Charley Hanlon, who had already made it
so comfortable and convenient that she was able to contribute something
towards her own support, by letting what are termed in the country parts
of Ireland, “Dry Lodgings.” Her only lodger on this occasion was our
friend the pedlar, who had been domiciled with her ever since his
arrival in the neighborhood, and whose principal traffic, we may
observe, consisted in purchasing the flowing and luxuriant heads of hair
which necessity on the one hand, and fear of fever on the other, induced
the country maidens to part with. This traffic, indeed, was very general
during the period we are describing, the fact being that the poor
people, especially the females, had conceived a notion, and not a very
unreasonable one, too, that a large crop of hair not only predisposed
them to the fever which then prevailed, but rendered their recovery from
it more difficult. These notions, to be sure, resulted naturally enough
from the treatment which medical men found it necessary to adopt in
dealing with it--every one being aware that in order to relieve the
head, whether by blister or other application, it is necessary to remove
the hair. Be this, however, as it may, it is our duty to state here that
the traffic we allude to was very general, and that many a lovely and
luxuriant crop came under the shears of the pedlars who then strolled
through the country.

“Afther all, aunt,” said Hanlon, after having bidden her good morrow,
“I’m afraid it was a foolish weakness to depend upon a dhrame. I see
nothing clear in the business yet. Here now we have got the Box, an’
what are we the nearer to the discovery?”

“Well,” replied his aunt, for in that relation she stood to him, “is it
nothing to get even that? Sure we know now that it was his, an’ do you
think that M’Gowan, or as they call him, the Black Prophet, would be in
sich a state to get it--an’ his wife, too, it seems--unless there was
some raison on their part beyond the common, to come at it?”

“It’s a dark business altogether; but arn’t we thrown out of all trace
of it in the mane time? Jist when we thought ourselves on the straight
road to the discovery, it turns out to be another an’ a different
murdher entirely--the murdher of one Sullivan.”

At this moment, the pedlar, who had been dressing himself in another
small apartment, made, his appearance, just in time to catch his
concluding words.

“An’ now,” Hanlon added, “it appears that Sullivan’s body has been found
at last. The Black Prophet and Body Duncan knows all about the murdher,
an’ can prove the act home to Condy Dalton, and identify the body, they
say, besides.”

The pedlar looked at the speakers with a face of much curiosity and
interest, then mused for a time, and at length took a turn or two about
the floor, after which he sat down and began to drum his fingers on the
little table which had been placed for breakfast.

“Afther I get my breakfast,” he said at length, “I’ll thank you to let
me know what I have to pay. It’s not my intention to stop undher this
roof any longer; I don’t think I’d be overly safe.”

“Safe!--arrah why so?” asked the woman.

“Why,” he replied, “ever since I came here, you have done nothing but
collogue--collogue--an’ whisper, an’ lay your heads together, an’ divil
a syllable can I hear that hasn’t murdher at the front an’ rear of
it--either spake out, or get me my bill. If you’re of that stamp, it’s
time for me to thravel; not that I’m so rich as to make it worth any
body’s while to take the mouthful of wind out o’ me that’s in me. What
do you mean by this discoorse?”

“May God rest the sowls of the dead!” replied the woman, “but it’s not
for nothing that we talk as we do, an’ if you knew but all, you wouldn’t
think so.”

“Very likely,” he replied, in a dry but dissatisfied voice; “maybe, sure
enough, that the more I’d know of it, the less I’d like of it--here now
is a man named Sullivan--Barney, Bill, or Bartley, or some sich name,
that has been murdhered, an’ it seems the murdherer was sent to gaol
yestherday evenin’--the villain! Get me my bill, I say, it’s an unsafe
neighborhood, an’ I’ll take myself out of it, while I’m able.”

“It’s not widout raisin we talk of murdher then,” replied the woman.

“Faith may be so--get me my bill, then, I bid you, an’ in the mane time,
let me have, my breakfast. As it is, I tell you both that I carry no
money to signify about me.”

“Tell him the truth, aunt,” said Hanlon, “there’s no use in lyin’ under
his suspicion wrongfully, or allowin’ him to lave your little place for
no raison.”

“The truth is, then,” she proceeded, throwing the corner of her apron
over her left shoulder, and rocking herself to and fro, “that this young
man had a dhrame some time ago--he dremt that a near an’ dear friend of
his an’ of mine too, that was murdhered in this neighborhood, appeared
to him, an’ that he desired him to go of a sartain night, at the hour of
midnight, to a stone near this, called the Grey Stone, an’ that there he
would get a clue to the murdherer.”

‘Well, an’ did he?”

“He went--an’--but you had betther tell it yourself, avillish,” she
added, addressing Hanlon; “you know best.”

The pedlar instantly fixed his anxious and lively eyes on the young man,
intimating that he looked to him for the rest of the story.

“I went,” proceeded Hanlon, “and you shall hear everything that
happened.”

It is unnecessary for us, however, to go over the same ground a second
time. Hanlon minutely detailed to him all that had taken place at
the Grey Stone, precisely as it occurred, if we allow for a slight
exaggeration occasioned by his terrors, and the impressions of
supernatural manifestations which they left upon his imagination.

The pedlar heard all the circumstances with an astonishment which
changed his whole bearing into that of deep awe and the most breathless
attention. The previous eccentricity of his manner by degrees abandoned
him; and as Hanlon proceeded, he frequently looked at him in a state of
abstraction, then raised his eyes towards heaven, uttering, from time
to time, “Merciful Father!”--“Heaven preserve us!” and such like, thus
accompanying him by a running comment of exclamations as he went along.

“Well,” said he, when Hanlon had concluded, “surely the hand of God is
in this business; you may take that for granted.”

“I would fain hope as much,” replied Hanlon; “but as the matthers
stand now, we’re nearly as far from it as ever. Instead of gettin’ any
knowledge of the murdherer we want to discover, it proves to be the
murdher of Sullivan that has been found out.”

“Of Sullivan!” he exclaimed; “well, to be sure--oh, ay--well, sure that
same is something; but, in the mane time, will you let me look at this
Box you spoke of? I feel a curiosity to see it.”

Hanlon rose and taking the Box from a small deal chest which was
strongly locked, placed it in the pedlar’s hands. After examining it
closely for about half a minute, they could observe that he got very
pale, and his hands began to tremble, as he held and turned it about in
a manner that was very remarkable.

“Do you say,” he asked, in an agitated voice, “that you have no manes of
tracin’ the murdher?”

“None more than what we’ve tould you.”

“Did this Box belong to the murdhered man?--I mane, do you think he had
it about him at the time of his death?”

“Ay, an’ for some time before it,” replied the woman. “It’s all
belongin’ to him that we can find now.”

“And you got it in the keeping of this M’Gowan, the Black Prophet, you
say?”

“We did,” replied the woman, “from his daughter, at all events.”

“Who is this Black Prophet?” he asked; “or what is he? for that comes
nearer the mark. Where did he come from, where does he live, an’ what
way does he earn his bread?”

“The boy here,” she replied, pointing to Hanlon, “can tell you that
betther than I can; for although I’ve been at his place three or four
times, I never laid eyes on him yet.”

“Well,” continued the pedlar, “you have both a right to be thankful that
you tould me this. I now see the hand of God in the whole business. I
know this box an’ I can tell you something that will surprise you more
than that. Listen--but wait--I hear somebody’s foot. No matter--I’ll
surprise you both by an’ by.”

“Godsave all here,” said the voice of our friend, Jemmy Branigan, who
immediately entered. “In troth, this change is for the betther, at any
rate,” said he, looking at the house; “I gave you a lift wid the masther
yestherday,” he added, turning to the woman. “I think I’ll get him to
throw the ten shillings off--he as good as promised me he would.”

“Masther!” exclaimed the pedlar, bitterly--“oh, thin, it’s he that’s the
divil’s masther, by all accounts, an’ the divil’s landlord, too. Be me
sowl, he’ll get a warm corner down here;” and as he uttered the
words, he very significantly stamped with his heel, to intimate the
geographical position of the place alluded to.

“It would be only manners to wait till your opinion is axed of him,”
 replied Jemmy; “so mind your pack, you poor sprissaun, or when you do
spake, endeavor to know something of what you’re discoorsin’ about.
Masther, indeed! Divil take your impidence!”

“He’s a scourge to the counthry,” continued the pedlar; “a worse
landlord never faced the sun.”

“That’s what we call in this part of the counthry--a lie,” replied
Jemmy. “Do you understand what that manes?”

“No one knows what an’ outrageous ould blackguard he is betther than
yourself,” proceeded the pedlar; “an’ how he harrishes the poor.”

“That’s ditto repated,” responded Jemmy; “you’re improvrn’--but tell me
now do you know any one that he harrished?”

This was indeed a hazardous question on the part of Jemmy; who, by the
way, put it solely upon the presumption of the peddlar’s ignorance of
Dick’s proceedings as a landlord, in consequence of his (the pedlar)
being a stranger.

“Who did you ever know that he harrished, i’ you please?”

“Look at the Daltons,” replied the other; “what do you call his conduct
to them?”

Jemmy, who, whenever he felt himself deficient in truth, always made
up for the want of it by warmth of temper, now turned shortly upon his
antagonist, and replied, in a spirit very wide of the argument--

“What do I call his conduct to them? What do you call the nose on your
face, my codger? Divil a sich an impident crature ever I met.”

“It would be no wondher that the curse o’ God would come on him for his
tratement to that unfortunate and respectable family,” responded the
pedlar.

“The curse o’ God knows where to fall best,” replied Jemmy, “or it’s not
in the county jail ould Condy Dalton ‘ud be for murdher this day.”

“But,” returned the other, “isn’t it a disgraceful thing to be, as they
say he and yourself is, a pair o’ scourges in the hands o’ God for your
fellow-creatures; an’ in troth you’re both fit for it by all accounts.”

“Troth,” replied Jemmy, whose gall was fast rising, “it’s a scourge wid
nine tails to it ought to go to your back. The Daltons desarved all
they got at his hands; an’ the same pack was never anything else than a
hot-brained crew, that ‘ud knock you on the head to-day, and groan over
you to-morrow. He sarved them right, an’ he’s a liar that says to the
contrary; so if you have a pocket for that put it in it.”

Jemmy, in fact, was now getting rapidly into a towering passion, for it
mattered little how high in violence his own pitched battles with Dick
ran, he never suffered, nor could suffer a human being to abuse his
master behind his back, but himself. So confirmed, however, by habit,
was his spirit of contradiction, that had the pedlar begun to praise
Dick, Jemmy would immediately have attacked him without remorse, and
scarcely have left a rag of his character together.

“It’s a shame for you,” proceeded the pedlar, “to defend an’ ould sinner
like him; but then as there’s a pair of you, that’s not unnatural; every
rogue will back his brother. I could name the place, any way, that’ll
hould you both yet.”

“An’ I could,” replied Jemmy, “name the piece of machinery that’ll be
apt to hould you, if you give the masther any more abuse. Whether you’ll
grow in it or not, is more than I know, but be me sowl, we’ll plant you
there any how. Do you know what the stocks manes? Faith, many a spare
hour you’ve sarved there, I go bail, that is, when, you had nothing else
to do--an’ by the way of raycreation jist.”

“Ay,” said the pedlar, “listen how he sticks to the ould villain--but
sure, if you put any other two blisthers together, they’ll do the same.”

“My own opinion is,” observed Hanlon’s aunt, “that it’s a pity of the
Daltons, at any raite. Every one feels for them--but still the hand o’
God an’ his curse, I’m afeard, is upon them.”

“An’ that’s more, maybe, than you know,” replied Jemmy. “Maybe God’s
only punishing them, bekaise he loves them. It’s good to have our
suffering in this world.”

“Afther all,” said the pedlar, “I’m afeard myself, too, that the wrath
o’ the Almighty has marked them out. Indeed, I’m sure of it.”

“An’ maybe that’s not the only lie you’re sure of,” replied Jemmy. “It’s
a subject, any way, you don’t undherstand. No,” he proceeded, “by all
accounts, Charley, it would wring any one’s heart to see him taken away
in his ould age from his miserable family and childre, and then he’s so
humble, too, and so resigned to the will an’ way o’ God. He’s lyin’
ill in the gaol. I seen him yestherday--I went to see him an’ to say
whatever I could to comfort him. God pity his gray hairs! an’--hem--have
compassion on him and his this day!”

The poor fellow’s heart could stand the sudden contemplation of Dalton’s
sorrow no longer--and on uttering the last words he fairly wept.

“If I had known what it was about,” he proceeded; “but that ould
scoundrel of a Prophet--ay, an’ that other ould scoundrel of a masther
o’ mine--hem ay--whish--but--what am I sayin’?--but if I had known it,
‘ud go hard but I’d give him a lift--so that he might get out o’ the
way, at any rate.”

“Ay,” said the pedlar, “at any rate, indeed--faith, you may well say
it; but I say, that at any rate he’ll be hanged as sure as he murdhered
Sullivan, and as sure as he did, that he may swing, I pray this day!”

“I’ll hould no more discoorse wid that circulatin’ vagabone,” replied
Jemmy; “I’m a Christian man--a peaceable man; an’ I know what my
religion ordhers me to do when I meet the likes of him--and that is when
he houlds the one cheek towardst me to give him a sound Christian rap
upon the other. So to the divil I pitch, you, you villain, sowl and
body, an’ that’s the worst I wish you. If you choose to be unchristian,
be so; but, be my sowl, I’ll not set you the example. Charley,” he
proceeded, addressing Hanlon, “I was sent for you in a hurry. Masther
Dick wants you, and so does Red Rody--the villain! and I tell you to
take care of him, for, like that vagabone, Judas, he’d kiss you this
minute and betray you the next.”

“I believe you’re purty near the truth,” replied Jemmy, “but I was near
forgettin’--it seems the Crowner of the country is sick, an’ there can’t
be an inquest held till he recovers; if he ever does recover, an’ if
it ‘ud sarve poor ould Dalton, that he never may, I pray God this
day!--come away, you’ll be killed for stayin’.”

Just then young Henderson himself called Hanlon forth, who, after some
conversation with him, turned towards the garden, where he held a second
conference with Red Rody, who, on leaving him appeared in excellent
spirits, and kept winking and nodding, with a kind of burlesque good
humor, at every one whom he knew, until he reached home.

In this state stood the incidents of our narrative, suspended for
some time by the illness of the coroner, when Mr. Travers, himself a
magistrate, came to the head inn of the county town in which he always
put up, and where he held his office. He had for several days previously
gone over the greater portion of the estate, and inspected the actual
condition of the tenantry on it. It is unnecessary to say that he was
grieved at the painful consequences of the middleman system, and of
sub-letting in general. Wherever he went, he found the soil in many
places covered with hordes of pauper occupants, one holding under
another in a series that diminished from bad to worse in everything but
numbers, until he arrived at a state of destitution that was absolutely!
disgraceful to humanity. And what rendered this state of things doubly
painful and anomalous was the fact, that while these starving wretches
lived upon his employer’s property, they had no claim on him as a
landlord, nor could he recognize them as tenants. It is true that these
miserable creatures, located upon small patches of land, were obliged
to pay their rents to the little tyrant who was over them, and he
again, probably to a still more important little tyrant, and so on; but
whenever it happened that the direct tenant, or any one of the series,
neglected to pay his or their rent, of course the landlord had no other
remedy than to levy it from off the soil, thus rendering it by no means
an unfrequent case that the small occupiers who owed nothing to him
or those above them were forced to see their property applied to the
payment of the head rent, in consequence of the inability, neglect, or
dishonesty of the middleman, or some other subordinate individual from
whom, they held. This was a state of things which Mr. Travers wished to
abolish, but to do so, without inflicting injury, however unintentional,
or occasioning harshness to the people, was a matter not merely
difficult but impossible. As we are not, however, writing a treatise
upon the management of property, we shall confine ourselves simply to
the circumstances only of such of the tenants as have enacted a part in
our narrative.

About a week had now elapsed since the abusive contest between Jemmy
Branigan and the pedlar; the coroner was beginning to recover, and
Charley Hanlon’s aunt had disappeared altogether from the neighborhood.
Previous to her departure, however, she, her nephew, and the pedlar, had
several close, and apparently interesting conferences, into which their
parish priest, the Rev. Anthony Devlin, was ultimately admitted. It
was clear, indeed, that whatever secret the pedlar communicated, had
inspired both Hanlon and his aunt with fresh energy in their attempts to
discover the murderer of their relative; and there could be little doubt
that the woman’s disappearance from the scene of its perpetration was in
some way connected with the steps they were taking to bring everything
connected with it to light.

Travers, already acquainted with the committal of old Dalton, as he was
with all the circumstances of his decline and eviction from his farm,
was sitting in his office, about twelve o’clock, when our friend, the
pedlar, bearing a folded paper in his hand, presented himself, with a
request that he might be favored with a private interview. This, without
any difficulty, was granted, and the following dialogue took place
between them:--

“Well, my good friend,” said the agent; “what is the nature of this
private business of yours?”

“Why, plase your honor, it’s a petition in favor of ould Condy Dalton.”

“A petition! Of what use is a petition to Dalton? Is he not now in gaol,
on a charge of murder? You would not have me attempt to obstruct the
course of justice, would you? The man will get a fair trial, I hope.”

“I hope so, your honor; but this petition is not about the crime the
unfortunate man is in for; it’s an humble prayer to your honor, hopin’
you might restore him--or, I ought rather to say, his poor family, to
the farm that they wor so cruelly put out of. Will your honor read it,
sir, and look into it, bekaise, at any rate, it sets forth too common a
case.”

“I am partly acquainted with the circumstances, already; however, let me
see the paper.”

“The pedlar placed it in Mr. Travers’ hands,--who on looking over it,
read, somewhat to his astonishment, as follows:--

“The humble petition of Cornelius Dalton, to his Honor, Mr. John Robert
Travers, Esq., on behalf of himself, his Wife, and his afflicted family;
now lying in a state of almost superhuman Destitution--by Eugenius
M’Grane, Philomath and classical Instructor in the learned Languages
of Latin, English, and the Hibernian Vernacular, with an inceptive
Initiation into the Rudiments of Greek, as far as the Gospel of St. John
the Divine; attended with copious Disquisitions on the relative Merits
of moral and physical Philosophy, as contrasted with the pusillanimous
Lectures of that Ignoramus of the first Water, Phadrick M’Swagger,
falsely calling himself Philomath--_cum multis aliis quos enumerare
longum est_:

“Humbly Sheweth--

“That Cornelius Dalton, late of Cargah, gentleman agriculturist, held
a farm of sixty-six Irish acres, under the Right Honorable (the reverse
could be proved with sound and legitimate logic) Lord Mollyborough, an
absentee nobleman, and proprietor of the Tullystretchem estate. That the
said Cornelius Dalton entered upon the farm of Cargah, with a handsome
capital and abundant stock, as became a man bent on improving it, for
both the intrinsic and external edification and comfort of himself and
family. That the rent was originally very high; and, upon complaint of
this, several well indited remonstrances, urged with most persuasive
and enthusiastic eloquence, as the inditer hereof can testify, were
most insignificantly and superciliously disregarded. That the said
Mr. Cornelius Dalton persisted notwithstanding this great act of
contemptuosity and discouragement to his creditable and industrious
endeavors, to expend, upon the aforesaid farm, in solid and valuable
improvements, a sum of seven hundred pounds and upwards, in building,
draining, enclosing, and manuring--all of which improvements
transcendantly elevated the value of the farm in question, as the whole
rational population of the country could depose to--_me ipso teste
quoque_. That when this now highly emendated tenement was brought to the
best condition of excellence of which it was susceptible, the middleman
landlord--_va miseris agricolis!_--called upon him for an elevation
of rent, which was reluctantly complied with, under the tyrannical
alternative of threatened ejection, incarceration of cattle, &c, &c,
and many other proceedings equally inhuman and iniquitous. That this
rack-rent, being now more than the land could pay, began to paralyze the
efforts, and deteriorate the condition of the said Mr. Cornelius Dalton;
and which, being concatenated with successive failures in his crops,
and mortality among his cattle, occasioned him, as it were, to retrogade
from his former state; and in the course of a few calamitous years, to
decline, by melancholy gradation and oppressive treatment from Richard
Henderson, Esq., J.P., his landlord, to a state of painful struggle and
poverty. That the said Richard Henderson, Esq., his unworthy landlord,
having been offered a still higher rent, from a miserable disciple,
named Darby Skinadre, among others, unfeelingly availed himself of
Dalton’s _res augusta_--and under play of his privileges as a landlord,
levied an execution upon his property, auctioned him out, and expelled
him from the farm; thus turning a respectable man and his family,
hopeless and houseless, beggars upon the world, to endure misery
and destitution. That the said Mr. Cornelius Dalton, now plain Corny
Dalton--for vile poverty humilifies even the name--or rather his
respectable family, among whom, _facile princeps_, for piety and
unshaken trust in her Redeemer, stands his truly unparalleled wife, are
lying in a damp wet cabin within about two hundred perches of his
former residence, groaning with the agonies of hunger, destitution,
dereliction, and disease, in such a state of complicated and multiform
misery as rarely falls to the lot of human eyes to witness. That the
burthen and onus of this petition is, to humbly supplicate that Mr.
Cornelius Dalton, or rather his afflicted and respectable family, may
be reinstated in their farm as aforesaid, or if not, that Richard
Henderson, J.P., may be compelled to swallow such a titillating emetic
from the head landlord as shall compel him to eructate to this oppressed
and plundered man all the money he expended in making improvements,
which remain to augment the value of the farm, but which, at the same
time, were the means of ruining himself and his most respectable family:
for, as the bard says, ‘_sio vos non vobis_,’ &c, &c. Of the remainder
of this appropriate quotation, your honor cannot be incognizant, or
any man who has had the advantage of being college-bred, as every true
gentleman or ‘_homo factus ad unguem_’ must have, otherwise he fails to
come under this category.--And your petitioner will ever pray.”

“Are you the Mr. Eugenius McGrane,” asked the agent, “who drew up this
extraordinary document?”

“No, your honor; I’m only merely a friend of the Daltons, although a
stranger in the neighborhood.”

“But what means have Dalton or his family, granting that he escapes
from this charge of murder that’s against him, of stocking or working so
large a farm? I am aware myself that the contents of this petition, with
all its pedantry, are too true.”

“But consider, sir, that he sunk seven hundred pounds in it, an’ that,
according to everything like fair play, he ought either to get his farm
again, at a raisonable rate, or his money that raised its value for the
landlord, back again; sure, that’s but fair, your honor.”

“I’m not here to discuss the morality of the subject, my good friend,
neither do I question the truth of your argument, simply as you put it.
I only say, that what you ask, is impracticable. You probably know not
Dick o’ the Grange, for you say you are a stranger--if you did, you
would not put yourself to the trouble of getting even a petition for
such a purpose written.”

“It’s a hard case, your honor.”

“It is a hard case; but the truth is, I see nothing that can be done for
the Daltons. To talk of putting a family, in such a state as they are
now in, back again, upon such a farm, is stark nonsense--without stock
or capital of any kind--the thing is ridiculous.”

“But suppose they had stock and capital?”

“Why, then, they certainly would have the best right to the farm--but
where’s the use of talking about stock or capital, so far as they are
concerned?”

“I wish your honor would interfere for an oppressed and ill-treated
family, against as great a rogue, by all accounts, as ever broke
bread--I wish you would make me first sure that they’d get their farm.”

“To what purpose, I say?”

“Why, sir, for a raison I have. If your honor will make me sure that
they’ll get their land again, that’s all I want.”’

“What is your reason? Have you capital, and are you willing to assist
them?”

The pedlar shook his head. “Is it the likes o’ me, your honor? No, but
maybe it might be made up for them some way.”

“I believe,” said the agent, “that your intentions are good; only that
they are altogether impracticable. However, a thought strikes me. Go to
Dick o’ the Grange, and lay your case before him. Ask a new lease
for your friends, the Daltons--of course he won’t give it; but at all
events, come back to me, and let me know, as nearly in his own words as
you can, what answer he will give you; go now, that is all that I can do
for you in the matter.”

“Barrin’ this, your honor, that set in case the poor heart-broken
Daltons wor to get capital some way.”

“Perhaps,” said Travers, interrupting him, “you can assist them.”

“Oh, if I could!--no, but that set in case, as I said, that it was to be
forthcomin’, you persave. Me!--oh, the Lord that _I was_ able!”

“Very well,” replied the other, anxious to rid himself of the pedlar,
“that will do, now. You are, I perceive, one of those good-natured,
speculating creatures, who are anxious to give hope and comfort to every
one. The world has many like you; and it often happens, that when some
good fortune does throw the means of doing good into your power, you
turn out to be a poor, pitiful, miserable crew, without actual heart
or feeling. Goodbye, now. I have no more time to spare--try Dick o’ the
Grange himself, and let me know his answer.”

So saying, he rang the bell, and our friend the pedlar, by no means
satisfied with the success of his interview, took his leave.



CHAPTER XXIII. -- Darby in Danger--Nature Triumphs.

The mild and gentle Mave Sullivan, with all her natural grace and
unobtrusive modesty, was yet like many of the fair daughters of her
country, possessed of qualities which frequently lie dormant in the
heart until some trying calamity or startling event of more than
ordinary importance, awakens them into life and action. Indeed, any one
in the habit of observing the world, may have occasionally noticed, that
even within the range of his own acquaintances, there has been many a
quiet and apparently diffident girl, without pretence or affectation of
any kind, who when some unexpected and stunning blow has fallen either
upon herself or upon some one within the circle of her affections, has
manifested a spirit so resolute or a devotion so heroic, that she has at
once constituted herself the lofty example whom all admire and endeavor
to follow. The unrecorded calamities of ordinary life, and the annals
of human affection, as they occur from day to day around us, are full of
such noble instances of courage and self sacrifice on the part of woman
for the sake of those who are dear to her. Dear, holy, and heroic woman!
how frequently do we who too often sneer at your harmless vanities
and foibles, forget the light by which your love so often dispels the
darkness of our affliction, and the tenderness with which your delicious
sympathy charms our sorrows and our sufferings to rest, when nothing
else can succeed in giving us one moment’s consolation!

The situation of the Daltons, together with the awful blow which fell
upon them at a period of such unexampled misery, had now become the
melancholy topic of conversation among their neighbors, most, if
not all, of whom were, however, so painfully absorbed in their own
individual afflictions either of death, or famine, or illness, as to
be able to render them no assistance. Such as had typhus in their own
families were incapable of attending to the wants or distress of others,
and such as had not, acting under the general terror of contagion which
prevailed, avoided the sick houses as they would a plague.

On the morning after old Dalton’s removal to prison, Jerry Sullivan
and his family were all assembled around a dull fire, the day being, as
usual, so wet that it was impossible to go out unless upon some matter
of unusual importance; there was little said, for although they had
hitherto escaped the fever, still their sufferings and struggles were
such as banished cheerfulness from among them. Mave appeared more pale
and dejected than they had ever yet seen her, and it was noticed by one
or two of the family, that she had been occasionally weeping in some
remote corner of the house where she thought she might do so without
being observed.

“Mave, dear,” said her father, “what is the matter wid you? You look,
darlin’, to be in very low spirits to-day. Were you cryin’?”

She raised her large innocent eyes upon him, and they instantly filled
with tears.

“I can’t keep it back from you, father,” she replied, “let me do as I
will--an’ oh, father dear, when we look out upon the world that is in
it, an’ when we see how the hand o’ God is takin’ away so many from
among us, and when we see how the people everywhere is sufferin’ and
strugglin’ wid so much--how one is here this day, and in a week to come
in the presence of their Judge! Oh, surely, when we see all the doin’s
of death and distress about us, we ought to think that it’s no time to
harbor hatred or any other bad or unchristian feelin’s in our hearts!”

“It is not, indeed, darlin’; an’ I hope nobody here does.”

“No,” she replied; and as she spoke, the vibrations of sorrow and of
sympathy shook her naturally sweet voice into that tender expression
which touches the heart of the hearer with such singular power--“no,
father,” she proceeded, “I hope not; religion teaches us a different
lesson--not only to forgive our enemies, but to return good for evil.”

“It does, _achora machree_,” replied her father, whose eyes expressed a
kind of melancholy pride, as he contemplated his beautiful but sorrowful
looking girl, giving utterance to truths which added an impressive and
elevated character to her beauty.

“Young and ould, _achushla machree_, is fallin’ about us in every
direction; but may the Father of Mercy spare you to us, my darlin’
child, for if anything was to happen you, where--Oh, where could we look
upon your aiquil, or find anything that could console us for your loss?”

“If it’s my fate to go, father, I’ll go, an if it isn’t God will take
care of me; whatever comes, I’m resigned to His will.”

“Ay, dear, an’ you ever wor, too--and for the same raison God’s blessin’
will be upon you; but what makes you look so low, avourneen? I trust in
my Saviour, you are not unwell, Mave, dear.”

“Thanks be to God, no, father; but there’s a thing on my mind, that’s
distressin’ me very much, an’ I hope you’ll allow me my way in it.”

“I may say so, dear; because I know you wouldn’t ax me for anything that
‘ud be wrong to grant you. What is it, Mave?”

“It’s the unhappy an’ miserable state that these poor Daltons is in,”
 she replied. “Father, dear, forgive me for what I’m about to say; for,
although it may make you angry, there’s nothin’ farther from my heart
than to give you offence.”

“You needn’t tell me so, Mave; you need not, indeed; but sure you know,
darlin’, that unfortunately, we have nothing in our power to do for
them; I wish to the Lord we had! Didn’t we do all that people in our
poor condition could do for them? Didn’t you, yourself, achora, make us
send them such little assistance as we could spare?--ay, even to sharin’
I may say, our last morsel wid them; an’ now, darlin’, you know we
haven’t it.”

“I know that,” she replied, as she wiped away the tears; “where is there
a poorer family than we are, sure enough? but, father, dear; we can
assist them--relieve them; ay, maybe save them--for all that.”

“God be praised then!” exclaimed Sullivan; “only show me how, an’ we’ll
be glad to do it; for I can forget everything now, Mave, but their
distress.”

“But do you know the condition they’re in at this moment?” she asked,
“do you know, father, that they’re stretched on the bed of sickness? I
mean Nancy an’--an’ young Con, who has got into a relapse; poor Mary is
scarcely able to go about, she’s so badly recovered from the fever; an’
Tom, the wild unfortunate young man, is out of his senses, they say.
Then there’s nobody to look to them but Mrs. Dalton herself; an’ she,
you know, has to go ‘out’ to ask their poor bit from the neighbors. Only
think,” she proceeded, with a fresh burst of sorrow, “oh, only think,
father, of sich a woman bein’ forced to this!”

“May the Lord pity her an’ them, this woeful day!” exclaimed Sullivan.

“Now, father,” proceeded Mave; “I know--oh who knows better or so
well--what a good an’ a kind an’ a forgivin’ heart you have; an’ I know
that even in spite of the feelin’ that was, and maybe is, upon your mind
against them, you’ll grant me my wish in what I’m goin’ to ask.”

“What is it then?--let me hear it.”

“It’s this: you know that here, in our family I can do nothing to help
ourselves--that is, there is nothing for me to do--an’ I feel the time
hang heavy on my hands. I have been thinkin’, father dear, of this
miserable state the poor Daltons is in, without any one to attend them
in their sickness--to say a kind word to them, or to hand them even a
drink of clean water, if they wanted it. Them that hasn’t got the fever
yet, won’t go near them for fear of catchin’ it. What, then, will become
of them? There they are, without the face, or hand, or voice of kindness
about them. Oh, what on God’s blessed earth will become of them? They
may die an’ they must die, for want of care and assistance.”

“But sure that’s not our fault, dear Mave; we can’t help them.”

“We can, father--an’ we must; for if we don’t they’ll die. Father,” she
added, laying her wasted hand in his; “it is my intention to go over to
them--an’ as I have nothing that I can do at home, to spend the greater
part of the day with them in takin’ care of them--an’--an’ in doin’ what
I can for them, Yes, father dear--it is my intention--for there is none
but me to do it for them.”

“Saviour of earth, Mave dear, is it mad you are? You, _achora machree_,
that’s! dearer to us all than the apple of our eye, or the very pulse of
our hearts--to let you into a plague-house--to let you near the deadly
faver that’s upon them--where you’d be sure to catch it; an’ then--oh,
blessed Father. Mave what’s come over you, to think of sich a
thing?--ay, or to think that we’d let you expose yourself? But it’s all
the goodness and kindness of your affectionate heart; put it out of your
head, however--don’t name it, or let us hear of it again.”

“But, father, it’s a duty that our religion teaches us.”

“Why--what’s come over you, Mave?--all at wanst too--you that was so
much afeard of it that you wouldn’t go on a windy side of a feverish
house, nor walk near any one that was even recoverin’ from it. Why,
what’s come over you?”

“Simply, father, the thought if I don’t go to them and help them, they
will die. I was afeard of the fever, and I am afeard of it--but am I to
let my own foolish fears prevent me from doin’ the part of a Christian
to them? Let us put ourselves in their place--an’ who knows--although
may God forbid!--but it may be our own before the season passes--suppose
it was our own case--an’ that all the world was afeard to come near us;
oh, what would we think of any one, man or woman, that trustin’ in God,
would set their own fears at defiance, an’ come to our relief.”

“Mave, I couldn’t think of it; if anything happened you, an’ that we
lost you, I never would lay my head down without the bitther thought
that I had a hand in your death.”

At this moment, the mother who had been in another room, came in to
the kitchen--and having listened for a minute to the subject of their
conversation, she immediately joined her husband; but still with
feelings of deep and almost tearful sympathy for the Daltons.

“It’s like her, poor affectionate girl,” she exclaimed, looking tenderly
at her daughter; “but it’s a thing, Mave, we could never think of; so
put it out of your head.”

She approached her mother, and, seizing her hands, exclaimed:--

“Oh, mother, for the sake of the livin’ God, make it your own
case!--think of it--bring it home to you--look into the frightful state
they’re in. Are they to die in a Christian country for want of some kind
person to attend upon them? Is it not our duty, when we know how they
are sufferin’? I cannot rest, or be at ease; an’ I am not afeard of
fever here. You may say I love young Condy Dalton, an’ that it is on
his account I am wishin’ to go. Maybe it is; an’ I will now tell you at
wanst, that I do love him, and that if it was the worst plague that ever
silenced the noise of life in a whole country, it wouldn’t prevent me
from goin’ to his relief, nor to the relief of any one belongin’ to
him.”

“I know,” said her father, “that that was at the bottom of it.”

“I do love him,” she continued, “an’ this is more than ever I had
courage to tell you openly before; but, father, I feel that I am called
upon here to go to their assistance, and to see that they don’t die
from neglect in a Christian country. I have trust an’ confidence in the
Almighty God. I am not afeard of fever now; and even if I take it an’
die, you both know that I’ll die in actin’ the part of a Christian girl;
an’ what brighter hope could anything bring to us than the happiness
that such a death would open to me? But here I feel that the strength
and protection of God is upon me, and I will not die.”

“That’s all very well Mave,” said her mother; “but if you took it, and
did die--oh, darlin’------”

“In God’s name, then, I’ll take my chance, an’ do the duty that I feel
myself called upon to do; and, father dear, just think for a minute--the
thrue Christian doesn’t merely forgive the injury but returns good for
evil; and then, above all things, let us make it our own case. As I said
before, if we were as they are--lyin’ racked with pain, burnin’ with
druth, the head splittin’, the whole strength gone--not able, maybe, to
spake, and hardly able to make a sign--to wake ourselves, to put a drink
to our lips;--suppose, I say, we wor lyin’ in this state, an’ that all
the world had deserted us--oh, wouldn’t we say that any fellow-crature
that had the kindness and the courage to come and aid us--wet our lips,
raise our heads, and cheer our sinkin’ hearts by the sound of their
voice alone--oh, wouldn’t we say that it was God that in His mercy put
it into their heart to come to us, and relieve us, and save us?”

The mother’s feelings gave way at this picture; and she said, addressing
her husband--

“Jerry, maybe it’s right that she should go, bekaise, afther all, what
if it’s God Himself that has put it into her heart?”

He shook his head, but it was clear that his opposition began to waver.

“Think of the danger,” he replied; “think of that. Still if I thought it
was God’s own will that was setting her to it--”

“Father,” she replied, “let us do what is right, and lave the rest to
God Himself. Surely you aren’t afeard to trust in _Him_. I may take
the fever here at home, without goin’ at all, and die; for if it’s His
blessed will that I should die of it, nothing can save me, let me go or
stay where I plaise; and if it’s not, it matthers little where I go; His
divine grace and goodness will take care of me and protect me. It’s to
God Himself, then, you are trustin’ me, an’ that ought to satisfy you.”

Her parents looked at each other--then at her; and, with tears in their
eyes, as if they had been parting with her as for a sacrifice, they
gave a consent, in which that humble confidence in the will of God
which constitutes the highest order of piety, was blended with a natural
yearning and terror of the heart, lest they were allowing her to place
herself rashly within the fatal reach of the contagion which prevailed.
Having obtained their permission, she lost very little time in preparing
for the task she had proposed to execute. A very small portion of meal,
and a little milk, together with one or two jugs of gruel, whey, &c, she
put under her cloak; and after getting the blessings of her parents,
and kissing them and the rest of the family, she departed upon her
pious--her sublime mission, followed by the tears and earnest prayers of
her whole family.

How anomalous, and full of mysterious and inexplicable impulses is
the human heart! Mave Sullivan, who, in volunteering to attend at the
contagious beds of the unfortunate Daltons, gave singular and noble
proof of the most heroic devotedness, absolutely turned from the common
road, on her way to their cabin, rather than meet the funeral of a
person who had died of fever, and on one or two occasions kept aloof
from men who she knew to be invalids by the fact of their having
handkerchiefs about their heads--a proof, in general, that they had been
shaved or blistered, while laboring under its severest form.

When she had gone within about a quarter of a mile of her destination,
she met two individuals, whose relative positions indicated anything but
a state of friendly feeling between them. The persons we allude to were
Thomas Dalton and the miserable object of his vengeance, Darby Skinadre.
Our readers are aware that Sarah caused Darby to accompany her, for
safety, to the cabin of the Daltons, as she feared that, should young
Dalton again meet him at the head of his mob, and he in such a furious
and unsettled state, the hapless miser might fall a victim to his
vengeance. No sooner, therefore, had the meal-monger heard Tom’s name
mentioned by his father, when about to proceed to prison, than he left
a dark corner of the cabin, into which he had slunk, and, passing out,
easily disappeared, without being noticed, in the state of excitement
which prevailed.

The very name of Tom reminded him that he was in his father’s house, and
that should he return, and find him there, he might expect little mercy
at his hands. Tom, however, amidst the melancholy fatuity under which he
labored, never forgot that he had an account to settle with Skinadre.
It ran through his unsettled understanding like a sound thread through
a damaged web; for ever and anon his thought and recollection would turn
to Peggy Murtagh, and the miser’s refusal to give her credit for the
food she asked of him. During the early part of that day he had
gone about with a halter in his hand, as if seeking some particular
individual; and whenever he chanced to be questioned as to his object,
he always replied with a wild and ferocious chuckle--

“The fellow that killed her!--the fellow that killed her!”

Upon the present occasion, Mave was surprised by meeting him and the
miser, whom he must have met accidentally, walking side by side, but in
a position which gave fearful intimation of Dalton’s purpose respecting
him. Around the unfortunate wretch’s neck was the halter aforesaid,
made into a running noose, while, striding beside him, went his wild and
formidable companion, holding the end of it in his hand, and eyeing
him from time to time with a look of stupid but determined ferocity.
Skinadre’s appearance and position were ludicrously and painfully
helpless. His face was so pale and thin that it was difficult to see,
even in those frightfuf times of sickness and famine, a countenance from
which they were more significantly reflected. He was absolutely
shrunk up with terror into half his size, his little thin, corded neck
appearing as if it were striving unsuccessfully to work its way down
into his trunk, and his small ferret eyes looking about in every
direction for some one to extricate him out of the deadly thrall in
which he was held. Mave, who had been aware of the enmity which his
companion bore him, as well as of its cause, and fearing that the halter
was intended to hang the luckless mealman, probably upon the next tree
they came to, did not, as many another female would do, avoid or run
away from the madman. On the contrary, she approached him with an
expression singularly winning and sweet on her countenance, and in
a voice of great kindness, laid her hand upon his arm to arrest his
attention, asked him how he did. He paused a moment, and looking upon
her with a dull but turbid eye, exclaimed with an insane laugh, pointing
at the same time, to the miser--“This is the fellow that killed her--ha,
ha, ha, but I have him now--here he is in the noose; in the noose. Ay,
an’ I swore it, an’ there’s another, too, that’s to get it, but I won’t
rob any body, nor join in that at all; I’ll hang him here, though--ha,
Darby, I have you now.”

As he spoke, poor Skinadre received a chuck of the halter which almost
brought his tongue out as far as in the throttling process which we have
before described.

“Mave, achora,” said he, looking at her after his recovery from the
powerful jerk he had just got, “for the sake of heaven, try an’ save my
life; if you don’t he’ll never let me out of his hands a livin’ man.”

“Don’t be alarmed, Darby,” she replied, “poor Tom won’t injure you; so
far from that, he’ll take the halter from about your neck, an’ let you
go. Won’t you let poor Darby go, Tom?”

“I will,” he replied, “after I hang him--ha, ha, ha; ‘twas he that
killed her; he let her die wid hunger, but now he’ll swing for it, ha,
ha!”

These words were accompanied by another chuck, which pulled miserable
Skinadre almost off his legs.

“Tom, for shame,” said Mave, “why would you do sich an unmanly thing
with this poor ould crature?--be a man, and let him go.”

“Ay, when he’s, hangin’, wid his tongue out, ha, ha, ha; wait till we
get to the Rabbit Bank, where there’s a tree to be had; I’ve sworn it,
ay, on her very grave too; so good-by, Mave! Come along, Darby.”

“Mave, as you expect to have the gates of Heaven opened to your sowl,
an’ don’t lave me,” exclaimed the miser with clasped hands.

Mave looked up and down the road, but could perceive no one approach who
might render the unfortunate man assistance.

“Tom,” said she, “I must insist on your settin’ the poor man at liberty;
I insist upon it. You cannot, an’ you must not take his life in a
Christian country; if you do, you know you will be hanged yourself. Let
him go immediately.”

“Oh, ay,” he replied, “you insist, Mave; but I’ll tell you what--I’ll
put Peggy in a coach yet, when I come into my fortune; an’ so you’ll
insist, will you? Jest look at that wrist of yours,” he replied, seizing
hers, but with gentleness, “and then look at this of mine; an’ now will
you tell me that you’ll insist? Come, Darby, we’re bound for the Bank;
there’s not a beech there but’s a hundred feet high, an’ that’s higher
than ever I’ll make you swing from. Your heart bled for her, didn’t it!
but how will you look when I have you facin’ the sun, wid your tongue
out?”

“Tom,” replied the wretch, “I go on my knees to you, an’ as you hope,
Tom--”

“Hope, you hard-hearted hound! isn’t her father’s curse upon me? ay, an’
in me? Wasn’t she destroyed among us? an’ you bid me hope. By the broken
heart she died of, you’ll get a double tug for that,” and he was about
to drag him on in a state of great violence, when Mave again placed her
hand upon, his arm, and said--

“I am sure, Tom, you are not ungrateful; I am sure you would not forget
a kind act done to poor Peggy, that’s gone.”

“Peggy!” he replied, “what’s about her? gone!--Peggy gone!--is she
gone?”

“She is gone,” replied Mave, “but not lost; an’ it is most likely that
she is now looking down with displeasure at your conduct and intentions
towards this poor man; but listen.”

“Are you goin’ to spake about Peggy, though?”

“I am, and listen. Do you remember one evenin’ in the early part of this
summer, it was of a Sunday, there was a crowd about old Brian Murtagh’s
house, and the report of Peggy’s shame had gone abroad and couldn’t be
kept from people’s eyes any longer. She was turned out of her father’s
house--she was beaten by her brother who swore that he would take the
life of the first person, whether man or woman, young or ould, that
would give her one hour’s shelter. She was turned out, poor, young,
misled and mistaken crature, and no one would resave her, for no one
durst. There was a young girl then passin’ through the village, on
her way home, much about Peggy’s own age, but barring in one respect,
neither so good nor so handsome. Poor Peggy ran to that young girl, an’
she was goin’ to throw herself into her arms, but she stopped. ‘I am not
worthy,’ she said, cryin’ bitterly; ‘I am not worthy,--but oh, I have no
roof to shelter me, for no one dare take me in. What will become of me?’”

While she spoke, Dalton’s mind appeared to have been stirred into
something like a consciousness of his situation, and his memory to have
been brought back, as it were, from the wild and turbulent images, which
had impaired its efficacy, to a personal recollection of circumstances
that had ceased to affect him. His features, for instance, became more
human, his eye more significant of his feeling, and his whole manner
more quiet and restored. He looked upon the narrator with an awakened
interest, surveyed Darby, as if he scarcely knew how or why he came
there, and then sighed deeply. Mave proceeded:

“‘I am an outcast now,’ said poor Peggy; ‘I have neither house nor home;
I have no father, no mother, no brother, an’ he that I loved, an’ said
that he loved me, has deserted me. Oh,’ said she, ‘I have nothing to
care for, an’ nobody to care for me now, an’ what was dearest of all--my
good name--is gone: no one will shelter me, although I thought of
nothing but my love for Thomas Dalton!’ She was scorned, Thomas Dalton,
she was insulted and abused by women who knew her innocence and her
goodness till she met him; every tongue was against her, every hand
was against her, and every door was closed against her; no, not every
one--the young woman she spoke to, with tears in her eyes, out of
compassion for one so young and unfortunate, brought Peggy Murtagh home,
and cried with her, and gave her hope, and consoled her, and pleaded
with her father and mother for the poor deluded girl in such a way that
they forgot her misfortune and sheltered her; till, after her brother’s
death, she was taken in again to her own father’s house. Now, Tom,
wouldn’t you like to oblige that girl who was kind to poor Peggy
Murtagh?”

“It was in Jerry Sullivan’s--it was into your father’s house she was
taken.”

“It was Tom; and the young woman who befriended Peggy Murtagh is now
standin’ by your side and asks you to let Darby Skinadre go; do, then,
let him go, for the sake of that young woman!”

Mave, on concluding, looked up into his face, and saw that his eyes were
moist; he then smiled moodily, and, placing his hand upon her head in an
approving manner, said--

“You wor always good, Mave--here, set Darby free; but my mind’s uneasy;
I’m not right, I doubt:--nor as I ought to be; but I’ll tell you
what--I’ll go back towards home wid you, if you’ll tell me more about
Peggy.”

“Do so,” she replied, delighted at such a proposal; “an’ I will tell
you many a thing about her; an’ you, Darby,” she added, turning round
to that individual--short, however, as the time was, the exulting, but
still trembling usurer was making his way, at full speed, towards his
own house; so that she was spared the trouble of advising him, as she
had intended, to look to his safety as well as he could. Such was the
gentle power with which Mave softened and subdued this ferocious and
unsettled young man to her wishes; and, indeed, so forcible in general
was her firm but serene enthusiasm, that wherever the necessity for
exerting it occurred, it was always crowned with success.

Thomas Dalton as might be expected, swayed by the capricious impulse of
his unhappy derangement, did not accompany her to his father’s cabin.
When within a few hundred yards of it, he changed his intention, and
struck across the country like one who seemed uncertain as to the course
he should take. Of late, indeed, he rambled about, sometimes directing,
otherwise associating himself with, such mobs as we have described;
sometimes wandering, in a solitary manner, through the country at large;
and but seldom appearing at home. On the present occasion, he looked at
Mave, and said:

“I hate sick people, Mave, an’ I won’t go home; but, whisper, when you
see Peggy Murtagh’s father, tell him that I’ll have her in a coach, yet,
plaise God, an’ he’ll take the curse off o’ me, when he hears it, maybe,
an’ all will be right.”

He then bid her good-bye, turned from the road, and bent his steps in
the direction of the Rabbit Bank, on one of the beeches of which he had
intended to hang the miser.



CHAPTER XXIV. -- Rivalry.

If the truth were known, the triumph which Mave Sullivan achieved over
the terror of fever which she felt in common with almost every one in
the country around her, was the result of such high-minded devotion,
as would have won her a statue in the times of old Greece, when
self-sacrifice for human good was appreciated and rewarded. In her case,
indeed, the triumph was one of almost unparalleled heroism; for among
all the difficulties which she had to overcome, by far the greatest was
her own constitutional dread of contagion. It was only on reaching the
miserable pest-house in which the Daltons lived, and on witnessing, with
her own eyes, the clammy atmosphere which, in the shape of dark heavy
smoke, was oozing in all directions from its roof, that she became
conscious of the almost fatal step that she was about to take, and the
terrible test of Christian duty and exalted affection, to which she was
in the act of subjecting herself.

On arriving at the door, and when about to enter, even the resolution
she had come to, and the lofty principle of trust in God, on which
it rested, were scarcely able to support her against the host of
constitutional terrors, which, for a moment, rushed upon her breast. The
great act of self-sacrifice, as it may almost be termed, which she was
about to perform, became so diminished in her imagination, that all
sense of its virtue passed away; and instead of gaining strength from
a consciousness of the pure and unselfish motive by which she was
actuated, she began to contemplate her conduct as the result of a rash
and unjustifiable presumption on the providence of God, and a wanton
exposure of the life he had given her. She felt herself tremble; her
heart palpitated, and for a minute or two her whole soul became filled
with a tumultuous and indistinct! perception of all she had proposed to
do, as well as of everything about her. Gradually, however, his state
of feeling cleared away--by and by the purity and Christian principle
that were involved in her conduct, came to her relief.

“What,” she asked herself, “if they should die without assistance? In
God’s name, and with his strength to aid me, I will run all risks, and
fulfil the task I have taken upon me to do. May he support and protect
me through it.”

Thus resolved, and thus fortified, she entered the gloomy scene of
sickness and contagion.

There were but four persons within: that is to say, her lover, his
sister Nancy, Mary the invalid, and Sarah M’Gowan. Nancy and her brother
were now awake, and poor Mary occupied her father’s arm-chair, in which
she sat with her head reclined upon the back of it, somewhat, indeed,
after his own fashion--and Sarah opposite young Con’s bed, having her
eyes fixed, with a mournful expression, on his pale and almost deathlike
countenance. Mave’s appearance occasioned the whole party to feel
much surprise--and Mary rose from her arm-chair, and greeting her
affectionately, said--

“I cannot welcome you, dear Mave, to sick a place as this--and indeed I
am sorry you came to see us--for I needn’t tell you what I’d feel--what
we’d all feel,” and here she looked quickly, but with the slightest
possible significance at her brother, “if anything happened you in
consequence; which may God forbid! How are you all at home?”

“We are all free from sickness, thank God,” said Mave, whom the presence
of Sarah caused to blush deeply; “but how are you all here? I am sorry
to find that poor Nancy is ill--and that Con has got a relapse.”

She turned her eyes upon him as she spoke, and, on contemplating his
languid and sickly countenance, she could only, by a great effort,
repress her tears.

“Do not come near us, dear Mave,” said Dalton, “and, indeed, it was
wrong to come here at all.”

“God bless you, an’ guard you, Mave,” said Nancy, “an’ we feel your
goodness; but as Con says, it was wrong to put yourself in the way
of danger. For God’s sake, and as you hope to escape this terrible
sickness, lave the house at wanst. We’re sensible of your kindness--but
lave us--lave us--for every minute you stop, may be death to you.”

Sarah, who had never yet spoken to Mave, turned her black mellow eyes
from her to her lover, and from him to her alternately. She then dropped
them for a time on the ground, and again looked round her with something
like melancholy impatience. Her complexion was high and flushed, and her
eyes sparkled with unaccustomed brilliancy.

“It’s not right two people should run sich risk on our account,” said
Con, looking towards Sarah; “here’s a young woman who has come to nurse,
tend and take care of us, for which, may God bless her, and protect
her!--it’s Sarah M’Gowan, Donnel Dhu’s daughter.”

“Think of Mave Sullivan,” said Sarah--“think only’ of Mave
Sullivan--she’s in danger--ha--but as for me--suppose I should take the
faver and die?”

“May God forbid, poor girl,” exclaimed Con; “it would lave us all a sad
heart. Dear Mave don’t stop here--every minute is dangerous.”

Sarah went over to the bedside, and putting her hand gently upon his
forehead, said--

“Don’t spake to pity me--I can’t bear pity; anything at all but pity
from you. Say you don’t care what becomes of me, or whether I die or
not--but don’t pity me.”

It is extremely difficult to describe Sarah’s appearance and state
of mind as she spoke this. Her manner towards Con was replete with
tenderness, and the most earnest and anxious interest, while at the same
time there ran through her voice a tone of bitter feeling, an evident
consciousness of something that pressed strongly on her heart, which
gave a marked and startling character to her language.

Mave for a moment forgot everything but the interest which Sarah, and
the mention of her, excited. She turned gently round from Mary, who had
been speaking to her, and fixing her eyes on Sarah, examined her with
pardonable curiosity, from head to foot; nor will she be blamed, we
trust, if, even then and there, the scrutiny was not less close, in
consequence of it having been I known to her that in point of beauty,
and symmetry of figure, they had stood towards each other, for some time
past, in the character of rivals. Sarah who had on, without stockings,
a pair of small slippers, a good deal the worse for wear, had risen from
the bed side, and now stood near the fire, directly opposite the only
little window in the house, and, consequently, in the best light it
afforded. Mave’s glance, though rapid, was comprehensive; but she felt
it was sufficient: the generous girl, on contemplating the wild grace
and natural elegance of Sarah’s figure, and the singular beauty and
wonderful animation of her features, instantly, in her own mind,
surrendered all claim to competition, and admitted to herself that Sarah
was, without exception, the most perfectly beautiful girl she ever seen.
Her last words, too, and the striking tone in which they were spoken,
arrested her attention still more; so that she passed naturally from the
examination of her person to the purport of her language.

We trust that our readers know enough of human nature, to understand
that this examination of Sarah, upon the part of Mave Sullivan, was
altogether an involuntary act, and one which occurred in less time than
we have taken to write any one of the lines in which it is described.

Mave, who perceived at once that the words of Sarah were burdened by
some peculiar distress, could not prevent her admiration from turning
into pity without exactly knowing why; but in consequence of what Sarah
had just said, she feared to express it either by word or look, lest she
might occasion her unnecessary pain. She consequently, after a slight
pause, replied to her lover--

“You must not blame me, dear Con, for being here. I came to give
whatever poor attendance I could to Nancy here, and to sich of you as
want it, while you’re sick. I came, indeed, to stay and nurse you all,
if you will let me; an’ you won’t be sorry to hear it, in spite of all
that has happened, that I have the consent of my father an’ mother for
so doin’.”

A faint smile of satisfaction lit up her lover’s features, but this was
soon overshadowed by his apprehension for her safety.

Sarah, who had for about a half minute been examining Mave on her
part, now started, and exclaimed with flashing eyes, and we may add, a
bursting and distracted heart--

“Well, Mave Sullivan, I have often seen you, but never so well as now.
You have goodness an’ truth in your face. Oh, it’s a purty face--a
lovely face. But why do you state a falsehood here--for what you’ve just
said is false; I know it.”

Mave started, and in a moment her pale face and neck were suffused by
one burning blush, at the idea of such an imputation. She looked around
her, as if enquiring from all those who were present the nature of the
falsehood attributed to her; and then with a calm but firm eye, she
asked Sarah what she could mean by such language.

“You’re afther sayin’,” replied Sarah, “that you’re come here to nurse
Nancy there. Now that’s not true, and you know it isn’t. You come here
to nurse young Con Dalton: and you came to nurse him, bekaise you love
him. No, I don’t blame you for that, but I do for not saying so, without
fear or disguise--for I hate both.”

“That wouldn’t be altogether true either,” replied Mave, “if I said so;
for I did come to nurse Nancy, and any others of the family that might
stand in need of it. As to Con, I’m neither ashamed to love him, nor
afeard to acknowledge it; and I had no notion of statin’ a falsehood
when I said what I did. I tell you, then, Sarah M’Gowan, that you’ve
done me injustice. If there appeared to be a falsehood in my words,
there was none in my heart.”

“That’s truth; I know, I feel that that’s truth,” replied Sarah,
quickly; “but oh, how wrong I am,” she exclaimed, “to mention that
or anything else here that might distract him! Ah,” she proceeded,
addressing Mave, “I did you injustice--I feel I did, but don’t be angry
with me, for I acknowledge it.”

“Why should I be angry with you?” replied Mave, “you only spoke what you
thought, an’ this, by all accounts, is what you always do.”

“Let us talk as little as possible here,” replied Sarah, the sole
absorbing object of whose existence lay in Dalton’s recovery. “I will
speak to you on your way home, but not here--not here;” and while
uttering the last words she pointed to Dalton, to intimate that further
conversation might disturb him.

“Dear Mave,” observed Mary, now rising from her chair, “you are stayin’
too long; oh, for God’s sake, don’t stop; you can’t dhrame of the danger
you’re in.”

“But,” replied Mave, calmly, “you know, Mary, that I came to stop and to
do whatever I can do till the family comes round. You are too feeble to
undertake anything, and might only get into a relapse if you attempted
it.”

“But, then we have Sarah M’Gowan,” she replied, “who came, as few
would--none livin’ this day, I think, barrin’ yourself and her--to stay
with us, and to do anything that she can do for us all. May God for ever
bless her! for short as the time is, I think she has saved some of our
lives--Condy’s without a doubt.”

Mave turned towards Sarah, and, as she looked upon her, the tears
started to her eyes.

“Sarah M’Gowan,” said she, “you are fond of truth, an’ you are right;
I can’t find words to thank you for doin’ what you did, God bless and
reward you!”

She extended her hand as she spoke, but Sarah put it back. “No,” said
she, indignantly, “never from you; above all that’s livin’ don’t you
thank me. You, you, why you arn’t his wife yet,” she exclaimed, in a
suppressed voice of deep agitation, “an maybe you never will. You don’t
know what may happen--you don’t know--”

She immediately seemed to recollect something that operated as a motive
to restrain any exhibition of strong feeling or passion on her part, for
all at once she composed herself, and sitting down, merely said:--

“Mave Sullivan, I’m glad you love truth, and I believe you do; I can’t,
then, resave any thanks from you, nor I won’t; an’ I would tell you why,
any place but here.”

“I don’t at all understand you,” replied Mave; “but for your care and
attention to him, I’m sure it’s no harm to say, may God reward you! I
will never forget it to you.”

“While I have life,” said Dalton feebly, and fixing his eyes upon
Sarah’s face, “I, for one, won’t forget her kindness.”

“Kindness!” she re-echoed--“ha, ha!--well, it’s no matter--it’s no
matter!”

“She saved my life, Mave; I was lyin’ here, and hadn’t even a drink of
water, and there was no one else in the house; Mary, there, was out, an’
poor Nancy was ravin’ an’ ragin’ with illness and pain; but she, Sarah,
was here to settle us, to attend us, to get us a drink whenever we
wanted it--to raise us up, an’ to put it to our lips, an’ to let us down
with as little pain as possible. Oh, how could I forget all this? Dear,
dear Sarah, how could I forget this if I was to live a thousand years?”

Con’s face, while he spoke, became animated with the enthusiasm of the
feeling to which he gave utterance, and, as his eyes were fixed on Sarah
with a suitable expression, there appeared to be a warmth of emotion
in his whole manner which a sanguine person might probably interpret in
something beyond gratitude.

Sarah, after he had concluded, looked upon him with a long, earnest, but
uncertain gaze; so long, indeed, and so intensely penetrating was
it, that the whole energy of her character might, for a time, be read
clearly in the singular expression of her eyes. It was evident that her
thoughts were fluttering between pleasure and pain, cheerfulness and
gloom; but at length her countenance lost, by degrees its earnest
character, the alternate play of light and shadow over it ceased, and
the gaze changed, almost imperceptibly, into one of settled abstraction.

“It might be,” she said, as if thinking aloud--“it might be--but time
will tell; and, in the manetime, everything must be done fairly--fairly;
still, if it shouldn’t come to pass--if it should not--it would be
betther if I had never been born; but it may be, an’ time will tell.”

Mave had watched her countenance closely, and without being able to
discover the nature of the conflict that appeared in it, she went over,
and placing her hand gently upon Sarah’s arm, exclaimed--

“Don’t blame me for what I’m goin’ to say, Sarah--if you’ll let me call
you Sarah; but the truth is, I see that your mind is troubled. I wish to
God I could remove that trouble, or that any one here could! I am sure
they all would, as willingly as myself.”

“She is troubled,” said Mary; “I know by her manner that there’s
something distressing on her mind. Any earthly thing that we could do to
relieve her we would; but I asked her, and she wouldn’t tell me.”

It is likely that Mary’s kindness, and especially Mave’s, so gently, but
so sincerely expressed, touched her as they spoke. She made no reply,
however, but approached Mave with a slight smile on her face, her lips
compressed, and her eyes, which were fixed and brilliant, floating in
something that looked like moisture, and which might as well have been
occasioned by the glow of anger as the impulse of a softer emotion, or
perhaps--and this might be nearer the truth--as a conflict between the
two states of feeling. For some moments she looked into Mave’s very
eyes, and after a little, she seemed to regain her composure, and
sat down without speaking. There was a slight pause occasioned by the
expectation that she had been about to reply, during which Dalton’s eyes
were fixed upon her. In her evident distress, she looked upon him. Their
eyes met, and the revelation that that glance of anguish, on the part of
Sarah, gave to him, disclosed the secret.

“Oh, my God!” he exclaimed, involuntarily and unconsciously, “is this
possible?”

Sarah felt that the discovery had been made by him at last; and seeing
that all their eyes were still upon her, she rose up, and approaching
Mave, said--

“It is true, Mave Sullivan, I am troubled--Mary, I am troubled;” and as
she uttered the words, a blush so deep and so beautiful spread itself
over her face and neck, that the very females present were, for the
moment, lost in admiration of her radiant youth and loveliness. Dalton’s
eyes were still upon her, and after a little time, he said--

“Sarah, come to me.”

She went to his bedside, and kneeling, bent her exquisite figure
over him; and as her dark brilliant eyes looked into his, he felt the
fragrance of her breath mingling with his own.

“What is it?” said she.

“You are too near me,” said he.

“Ah, I feel I am,” she said, shaking her head.

“I mane,” he added, “for your own safety. Give me your hand, dear
Sarah.”

He took her hand, and raising himself a little on his right side, he
looked upon her again; and as he did so, she felt a few warm tears
falling upon it.

“Now,” he said, “lay me down again, Sarah.”

A few moments of ecstatic tumult, in which Sarah was unconscious of
anything about her, passed. She then rose, and sitting down on the
little stool, she wept for some minutes in silence. During this quiet
paroxysm no one spoke; but when Dalton turned his eyes upon Mave
Sullivan, she was pale as ashes.

Mary, who had noticed nothing particular in the incidents just related,
now urged Mave to depart; and the latter, on exchanging glances with
Dalton, could perceive that a feeble hectic had overspread his face. She
looked on him earnestly for a moment, then paused as if in thought, and
going round to his bedside, knelt down, and taking his hand, said--

“Con, if there is any earthly thing that I can do to give ease and
comfort to your mind, I am ready to do it. If it would relieve you,
forget that you ever saw me, or ever--ever--knew me at all. Suppose I
am not living--that I am dead. I say this, dear Con, to relieve you from
any pain or distress of mind that you may feel on my account. Believe
me, I feel everything for you, an’ nothing now for myself. Whatever
you do, I tell you that a harsh word or thought from me you will never
have.”

Mave, while she spoke, did not shed a tear; nor was her calm, sweet
voice indicative of any extraordinary emotion. Sarah, who had been
weeping until the other began to speak, now rose up, and approaching
Mave, said--

“Go, Mave Sullivan--go out of this dangerous house; and you, Condy
Dalton, heed not what she has said. Mave Sullivan, I think I understand
your words, an’ they make me ashamed of myself, an’ of the thoughts that
have been troublin’ me. Oh, what am I when compared to you?--nothing
nothing.”

Mave had, on entering, deposited the little matters she had brought
for their comfort, and Mary now came over, and placing her hand on her
shoulder, said:

“Sarah is right, dear Mave; for God’s sake do not stay here. Oh,
think--only think if you tuck this faver, an’ that anything happened
you.”

“Come,” said Sarah, “leave this dangerous place; I will see you part of
the way home--you can do nothing here that I won’t do, and everything
that I can do will be done.” Her lover’s eyes had been fixed upon her,
and with a feeble voice--for the agitation had exhausted him--he added
his solicitations for her departure to theirs.

“I hope I will soon be better, dear Mave, and able to get up too--but
may God bless you and take care of you till then!”

Mave again went round and took his hand, on which he felt a few tears
fall.

“I came here, dear Con,” she said, “to take care of you all, and why
need I be ashamed to say so--to do all I could for yourself. Sarah here
wishes me to spake the truth, an’ why shouldn’t I? Think of my words
then, Con, and don’t let me or the thoughts of me occasion you one
moment’s unhappiness. To see you happy is all the wish I have in this
world.”

She then bade them an affectionate farewell, and was about to take her
departure, when Sarah, who had been musing for a moment, went to Dalton,
and having knelt on one knee, was about to speak, and to speak, as
was evident from her manner, with great earnestness, when she suddenly
restrained herself, clasped her hands with a vehement action, looked
distractedly from him to Mave, and then suddenly rising, took Mave’s
hand, and said:

“Come away--it’s dangerous to stop where this fever is--you ought to
be careful of yourself--you have friends that loves you, and that would
feel for you if you were gone. You have a kind good father,--a lovhin’
mother--a lovin’ mother, that you could turn to, an’ may turn to, if
ever you should have a sore heart--a mother--oh, that blessed word--what
wouldn’t I give to say that I have a mother! Many an’ outrage--many a
wild fit of passion--many a harsh word, too--oh, what mightn’t I be now
if I had a mother? All the world thinks I have a bad heart--that I’m
without feelin’; but, indeed, Mave Sullivan, I’m not without feelin’,
an’ I don’t think I have a bad heart.”

“You have not a bad heart,” replied Mave, taking her hand; “no one, dear
Sarah, could look into your face and say so; no, but I think so far from
that, your heart is both kind and generous.”

“I hope so,” she replied, “I hope I have--now come you and leave this
dangerous house; besides I have something to say to you.”

Mave and she proceeded along the old causeway that led to the cabin, and
having got out upon the open road, Sarah stood.

“Now, Mave Sullivan,” said she, “listen--you do me only justice to say
that I love truth, an’ hate a lie, or consalement of any kind. I ax you
now this--you discovered awhile ago that I love Condy Dalton? Isn’t that
thrue?”

“I wasn’t altogether certain,” replied Mave, “but I thought I did--an’
now I think you do love him.”

“I do love him--oh, I do--an’ why as you said, should I be ashamed of
it?--ay, an’ it was my intention to tell you so the first time I’d see
you, an’ to give you fair notice that I did, an’ that I’d lave nothing
undone to win him from you.”

“Well,” replied the other, “this is open and honest, at all events.”

“That was my intention,” pursued Sarah, “an’ I had, for a short time,
other thoughts; ay, an’ worse thoughts; my father was pursuadin’ me--but
I can’t spake on that--for he has my promise not to do so. Oh, I’m
nothing, dear Mave--nothing at all to you. I can’t forget your words
awhile ago--bekaise I knew what you meant at the time, when you said to
Con, ‘any earthly thing that I can do to give aise and comfort to your
mind. I am ready to do it. If it would relieve you, forget that you ever
saw me or ever knew me.’ Now, Mave, I’ve confessed to you that I love
Con Dalton--but I tell you not to trouble your heart by any thoughts
of me; my mind’s made up as to what I’ll do--don’t fear me, I’ll never
cross you here. I’m a lonely creature,” she proceeded, bursting into
bitter tears; “I’m without friends and relations, or any one that cares
at all about me--”

“Don’t say so,” replied Mave, “I care about you, an’ it’s only now that
people is beginning to know you--but that’s not all, Sarah, if it’s
any consolation to you to know it--know it--Condy Dalton loves you--ay,
loves you, Sarah M’Gowan--you may take my word for that--I am certain
this day that what I say is true.”

“Loves me!” she exclaimed.

“Loves you,” repeated Mave, “is the word, an I have said it.”

“I didn’t suspect that when I spoke,” she replied.

Each looked upon the other, and both as they stood were as pale as death
itself. At length Mave spoke.

“I have only one thought, Sarah, an’ that is how to make him happy; to
see him happy.”

“I can scarcely spake,” replied Sarah; “I wouldn’t know what to say if I
did. I’m all confused; Mave, dear, forgive me!”

“God bless you,” replied Mave, “for you are truth an’ honesty itself.
God bless an’ you, make him happy! Good-bye, dear Sarah.”

She put her hand into Sarah’s and felt that it trembled excessively--but
Sarah was utterly passive; she did not even return the pressure which
she had received, and when Mave departed, she was standing in a reverie,
incapable of thought, deadly pale, and perfectly motionless.



CHAPTEE XXV. -- Sarah Without Hope.


How Sarah returned to Dalton’s cabin she herself knew not. Such was the
tumult which the communication then made to her by Mave, had occasioned
in her mind, that, the scene which had just taken place, altogether
appeared to her excited spirit like a troubled dream, whose impressions
were too unreal and deceptive to be depended on for a moment. The
reaction from the passive state in which Mave had left her, was, to a
temperament like her’s, perfectly overwhelming. Her pulse beat high,
her cheek burned, and her eye flashed with more than its usual fire
and overpowering brilliancy, and, with the exception of one impression
alone, all her thoughts were so rapid and indistinct as to resemble the
careering clouds which fly in tumult and confusion along the troubled
sky, with nothing stationary but the sun far above, and which, in this
case, might be said to resemble the bright conviction of Dalton’s love
for her, that Mave’s assurance had left behind it. On re-entering the
cabin, without being properly conscious of what she either did or said,
she once more knelt by the side of Dalton’s bed, and hastily taking his
unresisting hand, was about to speak; but a difficulty how to shape her
language held her in a painful and troubled suspense for some moments,
during which Dalton could plainly perceive the excitement, or rather
rapture, by which she was actuated. At length a gush of hot and burning
tears enabled her to speak, and she said:

“Con Dalton--dear Con, is it true? can it be true?--oh, no--no--but,
then, she says it--is it true that you like me--like me!--no, no--that
word is too wake--is it true that you love me? but no--it can’t
be--there never was so much happiness intended for me; and then, if it
should be true--oh, if it was possible, how will I bear it? what will
I do? what--is to be the consequence? for my love for you is beyond all
belief--beyond all that tongue can tell. I can’t stand this struggle--my
head is giddy--I scarcely know what I’m sayin’, or is it a dhrame that
I’ll waken from, and find it false--false?”

Dalton pressed her hand, and looking tenderly upon her face, replied:

“Dear Sarah, forgive me; your dhrame is both thrue and false. It is true
that I like you--that I pity you; but you forbid me to say that--well it
is true, I say, that I like you; but I can’t say more. The only girl I
love in the sense you mane, is Mave Sullivan. I could not tell you an
untruth, Sarah; nor don’t desave yourself. I like you, but I love her.”

She started up, and in an instant dashed the tears from her cheeks;
after which she said:

“I am glad to know it; you have said the truth--the bitther truth; ay,
bitther it will prove, Condy Dalton, to more than me. My happiness in
this world is now over forever. I never was happy; an’ its clear that
the doom is against me; I never will be happy. I am now free to act as I
like. No matther what I do, it can’t make me feel more than I feel now.
I might take a life; ay, twenty, an’ I couldn’t feel more miserable than
I am. Then, what is there to prevent me from workin’ out my own will,
an’ doin’ what my father wishes? I may make myself worse an’ guiltier;
but unhappier I cannot be. That poor, weak hope was all I had in this
world; but that is gone; and I have no other hope now.”

“Compose yourself, dear Sarah; calm yourself,” said Dalton.

“Don’t call me dear Sarah,” she replied; “you were wrong ever to do so.
Oh, why was I born! an’ what has this world an’ this life been to me but
hardship an’ sorrow? But still,” she added, drawing herself up, “I will
let you all see what pride can do. I now know my fate, an’ what I must
suffer: an’ if one tear would gain your love, I wouldn’t shed it--never,
never.”

“Sarah,” said Mary, in a soothing voice, “I hope you won’t blame poor
Con. You don’t know maybe that himself an’ Mave Sullivan has loved one
another ever since they were--”

“No more about Mave Sullivan,” she replied, almost fiercely; “lave her
to me. As for me, I’ll not brake my word, either for good or evil; I
was never the one to do an ungenerous--an ungenerous--no--” She paused,
however, as if struck by some latent conviction, and, in a panting
voice, she added, “I must lave you for a while, but I will be back in an
hour or two; oh, yes I will; an’ in the mane time, Mary, anything that
is to be done, you can do it for me till I come agin. Mave Sullivan!
Mave Sullivan! lave Mave Sullivan to me!”

She then threw an humble garment about her, and in a few minutes was
on her way to have an interview with her father. On reaching home, she
found that he had arrived only a few minutes before her; and to
her surprise he expressed something like; good humor, or, perhaps,
gratification at her presence there. On looking into her face more
closely, however, he had little trouble in perceiving that something
extraordinary had disturbed her. He then glanced at Nelly, who, as
usual, sat gloomily by the fire, knitting her brows and groaning with
suppressed ill-temper as she had been in the habit of doing, ever since
she suspected that Donnel had made a certain disclosure, connecting with
her, to Sarah.

“Well,” said he, “has there been another battle? have you been _ding
dust_ at it as usual? What’s wrong, Sally? eh? Did it go to blows wid
you, for you looked raised?”

“You’re all out of it,” replied Nelly; “her blood’s up, now, an’ I’m not
prepared for a sudden death. She’s dangerous this minute, an’ I’ll take
care of her. Blessed man, look at her eyes.”

She repeated these words with that kind of low, dogged ridicule and
scorn which so frequently accompany stupid and wanton brutality; and
which are, besides, provoking, almost beyond endurance, when the mind is
chafed by a consideration of an exciting nature.

Sarah flew like lightning to the old knife, which we have already
mentioned, and, snatching it from the shelf of the dresser, on which it
lay, exclaimed:

“I have now no earthly thought, nor any hope of good in this world,
to keep my hand from evil; an’ for all ever you made me suffer, take
this--”

Her father had not yet sat down, and it was, indeed, well that he had
not--for it required all his activity and strength united, to intercept
the meditated blow, by seizing his daughter’s arm.’

“Sarah,” said he, “what is this? are you mad, you murdhering jade, to
attempt the vagabond’s life? for she is a vagabond, and an ill-tongued
vagabond. Why do you provoke the girl by sich language, you
double-distilled ould sthrap? you do nothin’ but growl an’ snarl, an’
curse, an’ pray--ay, pray, from mornin’ to night, in sich a way, that
the very devil himself could not bear you, or live wid you. Begone out
o’ this, or I’ll let her at you, an’ I’ll engage she’ll give you what’ll
settle you.”

Nelly rose, and putting on her cloak went out.

“I’m goin’,” she replied, looking at, and addressing the Prophet; “an’
plaise God, before long I’ll have the best wish o’ my heart fulfilled,
by seein’ you hanged; but, until then, may my curse, an’ the curse o’
God light on you and pursue you. I know you have tould her everything,
or she wouldn’t act towards me as she has done of late.”

Sarah stood like the Pythoness, in a kind of savage beauty, with the
knife firmly grasped in her hand.

“I’m glad she’s gone,” she said; “but it’s not her, father, that I ought
to raise my hand against.”

“Who then, Sarah?” he asked, with something like surprise.

“You asked me,” she proceeded, “to assist in a plan to have Mave
Sullivan carried off by young Dick o’ the Grange--I’m now ready for
anything, and I’ll do it. This world, father, has nothing good or happy
in it for me--now I’ll be aquil to it; if it gives me nothing good,
it’ll get nothing out of me. I’ll give it blow for blow; kindness, good
fortune, if it was to happen--but it can’t now--would soften me; but I
know, I feel that ill-treatment, crosses, disappointments, an’ want of
all hope in this life, has made, an’ will make me a devil--ay, an’ oh!
what a different girl I might be this day!”

“What has vexed you?” asked the father “for I see that something has.”

“Isn’t it a cruel thing,” she proceeded, without seeming to have
attended to him; “isn’t it a cruel thing to think that every one you
see about you has some happiness except yourself; an’ that your heart is
burstin’, an’ your brain burnin’, an’ no relief for you; no one point
to turn to, for consolation--but everything dark and dismal, and fiery
about you?”

“I feel all this myself,” said the Prophet; “so, don’t be disheartened,
Sarah; in the coorse o’ time your heart will get so hardened that you’ll
laugh at the world--ay, at all that’s either bad or good in it, as I
do.”

“I never wish to come to that state,” she replied; “an’ you never felt
what I feel--you never had that much of what was good in your heart.
No,” she proceeded, “sooner than come to that state--that is, to your
state--I’d put this knife into my heart. You, father, never loved one of
your own kind yet.”

“Didn’t I?” he replied, while his eyes lightened into a glare like those
of a provoked tiger; “ay, I loved one of our kind--of your kind; loved
her--ay, an’ was happy wid her--oh, how happy. Ah, Sarah M’Gowan, an’
I loved my fellow-creatures then, too, like a fool as I was: loved, ay,
loved; an’ she that I so loved proved false to me--proved an adulteress;
an’ I tell you now, that it may harden your heart against the world,
that that woman--my wife--that I so loved, an’ that so disgraced me, was
your mother.”

“It’s a lie--it’s as false as the devil himself,” she replied, turning
round quickly, and looking him with frantic vehemence of manner in the
face. “My mother never did what you say. She’s now in her grave, an’
can’t speak for or defend herself; but if I were to stand here till
judgment day, I’d say it was false. You were misled or mistaken, or your
own bad, suspicious nature made you do her wrong; an’ even if it was
thrue--which it is not, but false as hell--why would you crash and
wring her daughter’s heart by a knowledge of it? Couldn’t you let me get
through the short but bitther passage of life that’s before me, without
addin’ this to the other thoughts that’s distractin’ me?”

“I did it, as I said,” he replied, “to make you harden your heart,
an’ to prevent you from puttin’ any trust in the world, or expectin’
anything either of thruth or goodness from it.”

She started, as if some new light had broken in upon her, and turning to
him, said--

“Maybe I undherstand you, father--I hope I do. Oh, could it be that
you wor wanst--a--a--a betther man--a man that had a heart for
fellow-creatures, and cared for them? I’m lookin’ into my own heart
now, and I don’t doubt but I might be brought to the same state yet. Ha,
that’s terrible to think of; but again, I can’t believe it. Father, you
can stoop to lies an’ falsity--that I could not do; but no matther; you
wor wanst a good man, maybe. Am I right?”

The Prophet turned round, and fixing his eyes upon his daughter, they
stood each gazing upon the other for some time. He then looked for
a moment into the ground, after which he sat down upon a stool, and
covering his face with both his hands, remained in that position for two
or three minutes.

“Am I right, father?” she repeated.

He raised his eyes, and looking upon her with his usual composure,
replied--

“No--you are wrong--you are very wrong. When I was a light-hearted,
affectionate boy, playing with my brothers and sisters, I was a villain.
When I grew into youth, Sarah, an’ thought every one full of honesty an’
truth, an’ the world all kindness, an’ nothin’ about me but goodness,
an’ generosity, an’ affection, I was, of coorse, a villain. When I loved
the risin’ sun--when I looked upon the stars of heaven with a wonderin’
and happy heart--when the dawn of mornin’ and the last light of the
summer evening filled me with joy, and made me love every one and
everything about me--the trees, the runnin’ rivers, the green fields,
and all that God--ha, what am I sayin’?--I was a villain. When I loved
an’ married your mother, an’ when she--but no matther--when all these
things happened, I was, I say, a villain; but now that things is changed
for the betther, I am an honest man!”

“Father, there is good in you yet,” she said, as her eyes sparkled in
the very depth of her excitement, with a hopeful animation that had its
source in a noble and exalted benevolence, “you’re not lost.”

“Don’t I say,” he replied, with a cold and bitter sneer, “that I am an
honest man.”

“Ah,” she replied, “that’s gone too, then--look where I will,
everything’s dark--no hope--no hope of any kind; but no matther now;
since I can’t do betther, I’ll make them think o’ me: aye, an’ feel me
too. Come, then, what have you to say to me?”

“Let us have a walk, then,” replied her father. “There is a weeny
glimpse of sunshine, for a wondher. You look heated--your face is
flushed too, very much, an’ the walk will cool you a little.”

“I know my face is flushed,” she replied; “for I feel it burnin’, an’
so is my head; I have a pain in it, and a pain in the small o’ my back
too.”

“Well, come,” he continued, “and a walk will be of sarvice to you.”

They then went out in the direction of the Rabbit Bank, the Prophet,
during their walk, availing himself of her evident excitement to draw
from her the history of its origin. Such a task, indeed, was easily
accomplished, for this singular creature, in whom love of truth, as well
as a detestation of all falsehood and subterfuge, seemed to have been
a moral instinct, at once disclosed to him the state of her affections,
and, indeed, all that the reader already knows of her love for Dalton,
and her rivalry with Mave Sullivan. These circumstances were such
precisely as he could have wished for, and our readers need scarcely
be told that he failed not to aggravate her jealousy of Mave, nor to
suggest to her the necessity on her part, if she possessed either pride
or spirit, to prevent her union with Dalton by every means in her power.

“I’ll do it,” she replied, “I’ll do it; to be sure I feel it’s not
right, an’ if I had one single hope in this world, I’d scorn it; but
I’m now desperate; I tried to be good, but I’m only a cobweb before the
wind--everything is against me, an’ I think I’m like some one that never
had a guardian angel to take care of them.”

The Prophet then gave her a detailed account of their plan for carrying
away Mave Sullivan, and of his own subsequent intentions in life.

“We have more than one iron in the fire,” he proceeded, “an’ as soon as
everything comes off right, and to our wishes, we’ll not lose a single
hour in going to America.”

“I didn’t think,” said Sarah, “that Dalton ever murdered Sullivan till
I heard him confess it; but I can well understand it now. He was hasty,
father, and did it in a passion, but it’s himself that has a good heart.
Father, don’t blame me for what I say, but I’d rather be that pious,
affectionate ould man, wid his murdher on his head, than you in the
state you’re in. An’ that’s thrue, I must turn back and go to them--I’m
too long away: still, something ails me--I’m all sickish, my head and
back especially.”

“Go home to your own place,” he replied; “maybe it’s the sickness you’re
takin.”

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I felt this way once or twice before, an’ I know
it’ll go off me--good-bye.”

“Good-bye, Sarah, an’ remember, honor bright and saicresy.”

“Saicresy, father, I grant you, but never honor bright for me again.
It’s the world that makes me do it--the wicked, dark, cruel world, that
has me as I am, widout a livin’ heart to love me--that’s what makes me
do it.”

They then separated, he pursuing his way to Dick o’ the Grange’s,
and she to the miserable cabin of the Daltons. They had not gone far,
however, when she returned, and calling after him, said--

“I have thought it over again, and won’t promise altogether till I see
you again.”

“Are you goin’ back o’ your word so soon!” he asked, with a kind of
sarcastic sneer. “I thought you never broke your word, Sarah.”

She paused, and after looking about her as if in perplexity, she turned
on her heel, and proceeded in silence.



CHAPTER XXVI. -- The Pedlar Runs a Close Risk of the Stocks.


Nelly’s suspicions, apparently well founded as they had been, were
removed from the Prophet, not so much by the disclosure to her and
Sarah, of his having been so long cognizant of Sullivan’s murder by
Dalton, as by that unhappy man’s own confession of the crime. Still, in
spite of all that had yet happened, she could not divest herself of
an impression that something dark and guilty was associated with
the Tobacco-box; an impression which was strengthened by her own
recollections of certain incidents that occurred upon a particular
night, much about the time of Sullivan’s disappearance. Her memory,
however, being better as to facts than to time, was such as prevented
her from determining whether the incidents alluded to had occurred
previous to Sullivan’s murder, or afterwards. There remained, however,
just enough of suspicion to torment her own mind, without enabling her
to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion as to Donnel’s positive guilt,
arising from the mysterious incidents in question. A kind of awakened
conscience, too, resulting not from any principle of true repentance,
but from superstitious alarm and a conviction that the Prophet had
communicated to Sarah a certain secret connected with her, which she
dreaded so much to have known, had for some time past rendered her whole
life a singular compound of weak terror, ill-temper, gloom, and a kind
of conditional repentance, which depended altogether upon the fact of
her secret being known. In this mood it was that she left the cabin as
we have described.

“I’m not fit to die,” she said to herself, after she had gone--“an’
that’s the second offer for my life she has made. Any way, it’s the best
of my play to lave them; an’ above all, to keep away from her. That’s
the second attempt; and I know to a certainty, that if she makes a third
one, it’ll do for me. Oh, no doubt of that--the third time’s always the
charm!--an’ into my heart that unlucky knife ‘ill go, if she ever tries
it a third time! They tell me,” she proceeded, soliloquizing, as she was
in the habit of doing, “that the inquest is to be held in a day or two,
an’ that the crowner was only unwell a trifle, and hadn’t the sickness
afther all. No matther--not all the wather in the sky ‘ud clear my mind
that there’s not villany joined with that Tobaccy-box, though where it
could go, or what could come of it (barrin’ the devil himself or the
fairies tuck it,) I don’t know.”

So far as concerned the coroner, the rumor of his having caught the
prevailing typhus was not founded on fact. A short indisposition,
arising from a cold caught by a severe wetting, but by no means of a
serious or alarming nature, was his only malady; and when the day to
which the inquest had been postponed had arrived, he was sufficiently
recovered to conduct that important investigation. A very large
crowd was assembled upon the occasion, and a deep interest prevailed
throughout that part of the country. The circumstances, however, did
not, as it happened, admit of any particular difficulty Jerry Sullivan
and his friends attended as, was their duty, in order to give evidence
touching the identity of the body. This, however, was a matter of
peculiar difficulty. On disinterring the remains, it was found that the
clothes worn at the time of the murder had not been buried with them--in
other words, that the body had been stripped of all but the under
garment, previous to its interment. The evidence, nevertheless, of the
Black Prophet and of Red Rody was conclusive. The truth, however, of
most if not of all the details, but not of the fact itself, was denied
by old Dalton, who had sufficiently recovered from his illness, to be
present at the investigation. The circumstances deposed to by the
two witnesses were sufficiently strong and home to establish the fact
against him, although he impugned the details as we have stated, but
admitted that--after a hard battle with weighty sticks, he did kill
Sullivan with an unlucky blow, and left him dead in a corner of the
field for a short time near the Grey Stone. He said that he did not bury
the body, but that he carried it soon afterwards from the field in which
the unhappy crime had been committed, to the roadside, where he laid it
for a time, in order to procure assistance. He said he then changed his
mind, and having become afraid to communicate the unhappy accident
to any of the neighbors, he fled in great terror across the adjoining
mountains, where he wandered nearly frantic until the approach of
day-break the next morning. He then felt himself seized with an
uncontrollable anxiety to return to the scene of conflict, which he
did, and found, not much to his surprise indeed, that the body had been
removed, for he supposed at the time that Sullivan’s friends must have
brought it home. This he declared was the truth, neither more nor less,
and he concluded by solemnly stating, that he knew no more than the
child unborn what had become of the body, or how it disappeared. He
also acknowledged that he was very much intoxicated at the time of the
quarrel, and that were it not for the shock he received by perceiving
that the man was dead, he thought he would not have had anything beyond
a confused and indistinct recollection of the circumstance at all.
He admitted also that he had threatened Sullivan in the market, and
followed him closely for the purpose of beating him, but maintained that
the fatal blow was not given with an intention of taking his life.

The fact, on the contrary, that the body had been privately buried
and stripped before interment, was corroborated by the circumstance of
Sullivan’s body-coat having been found the next morning in a torn and
bloody state, together with his great coat and hat; but indeed, the
impression upon the minds of many was, that Dalton’s version of the
circumstances was got up for the purpose of giving to what was looked
upon as a deliberate assassination, the character of simple homicide or
manslaughter, so as that he might escape the capital felony, and come
off triumphantly by a short imprisonment. The feeling against him too
was strengthened and exasperated by the impetuous resentment with which
he addressed himself to the Prophet and Rody Duncan, while giving their
evidence, for it was not unreasonable to suppose that the man, who at
his years, and in such awful circumstances, could threaten the lives of
the witnesses against him, as he did, would not hesitate to commit, in
a fit of that ungovernable passion that had made him remarkable through
life, the very crime with which he stood charged through a similar act
of blind and ferocious vengeance. Others, on the contrary held different
opinions; and thought that the old man’s account of the matter was both
simple and natural, and bore the stamp of sincerity and truth upon the
very face of it. Jerry Sullivan only swore that, to the best of
his opinion, the skeleton found was much about the size of what his
brother’s would be; but as the proof of his private interment by Dalton
had been clearly established by the evidence of the Prophet and Rody,
constituting, as it did, an unbroken chain of circumstances which
nothing could resist, the jury had no hesitation in returning the
following verdict:--

“We find a verdict of wilful murder against Cornelius Dalton, Senior,
for that he, on or about the night of the fourteenth of December, in
the year of grace, 1798, did follow and waylay Bartholomew Sullivan, and
deprive him of his life by blows and violence, having threatened him to
the same effect in the early part of the aforesaid day.”

During the progress of the investigation, our friend the pedlar and
Charley Hanlon were anxious and deeply attentive spectators. The former
never kept his eyes off the Prophet, but surveyed him with a face in
which it was difficult to say whether the expression was one of calm
conviction or astonishment. When the investigation had come to a close,
he drew Hanlon aside and said--

“That swearin’, Charley, was too clear, and if I was on the jury myself
I would find the same verdict. May the Lord support the poor old man in
the mane time! for in spite of all that happened one can’t help pity’n’
him, or at any rate his unfortunate family. However see what comes by
not havin’ a curb over one’s passions when the blood’s up.”

“God’s a just God,” replied Hanlon--“the murderer deserves his
punishment, an’ I hope will meet it.”

“There is little doubt of it,” said the pedlar, “the hand of God is in
it all.”

“That’s more than I see, or can at the present time, then,” replied
Hanlon. “Why should my aunt stay away so long?--but I dare say the truth
is, she is either sick or dead, an’ if that’s the case, what’s all you
have said or done worth? You see it’s but a chance still.”

“Trust in God,” replied the pedlar, “that’s all either of us can do or
say now. There’s the coffin. I’m tould they’re goin’ to bury him, and to
have the greatest funeral that ever was in the counthry; but, God knows,
there’s funerals enough in the neighborhood widout their making a show
of themselves wid this.”

“There’s no truth in that report either,” said Hanlon. “I was speakin’
to Jerry Sullivan this mornin’, an’ I have it from him that they intend
to bury him as quietly as they can. He’s much changed from what he
was--Jerry is--an’ doesn’t wish to have the old man hanged at all, if he
can prevent it.”

“Hanged or not, Charley, I must go on with my petition to Dick o’ the
Grange. Of course I have no chance, but maybe the Lord put something
good into Travers’s heart, when he bid me bring it to him; at any rate
it can do no harm.”

“Nor any earthly good,” replied the other. “The farm is this minute the
property of Darby Skinadre, an’ to my knowledge Master Dick has a good
hundred pounds in his pocket for befriendin’ the meal-monger.”

“Still an’ all, Charley, I’ll go to the father, if it was only bekaise
the agent wishes it; I promised I would, an’ who knows at any rate but
he may do something for the poor Daltons himself, when he finds that the
villain that robbed and ruined them won’t.”

“So far you may be right,” said Hanlon, “an’ as you say, if it does
no good it can do no harm; but for my part, I can scarcely think of
anything but my poor aunt. What, in God’s name, except sickness or
death, can keep her away, I don’t know.”

“Put your trust in God, man--that’s my advice to you.”

“And a good one it is,” replied the other, “if we could only follow it
up as we ought. Every one here wondhers at the change that’s come over
me--I that was so light and airy, and so fond of every divarsion that
was to be had, am now as grave as a parson; but indeed no wondher,
for ever since that awful night at the Grey Stone--since both nights
indeed--I’m not the same man, an’ feel as if there was a weight come
over me that nothing will remove, unless we trace the murdher, an’ I
hardly know what to say about it, now that my aunt isn’t forthcommin’”

“Trust in God, I tell you, for as you live, truth will come to light
yet.”

The conversation took various changes as they proceeded, until they
reached the Grange, where the first person they met was Jemmy Branigan,
who addressed his old enemy, the pedlar, in that peculiarly dry and
ironical tone which he was often in the habit of using when he wished
to disguise a friendly act in an ungracious garb--a method of granting
favors, by the way, to which he was proverbially addicted. In fact, a
surly answer from Jemmy was as frequently indicative of his intention
to serve you with his master as it was otherwise; but so adroitly did he
disguise his sentiments, that no earthly penetration could develop them
until proved by the result. Jemmy, besides, liked the pedlar at heart
for his open, honest scurrility--a quality which he latterly found
extremely beneficial to himself, inasmuch as now that, increasing
infirmity had incapacitated his master from delivering much of the
alternate abuse that took place between them, he experienced great
relief every moment from a fresh breathing with his rather eccentric
opponent.

“Jemmy,” said Hanlon, “is the master in the office?”

“Is he in the office?--Who wants him?” and as he put the query he
accompanied it by a look of ineffable contempt at the pedlar.

“Your friend, the pedlar, wants him; and so now,” added Hanlon, “I leave
you both to fight it out between you.”

“You’re comin’ wid your petition, an’ a purty object you are, goin’ to
look afther a farm for a man that’ll be hanged, (may God forbid--this
day, amin!” he exclaimed in an under-tone which the other could not
hear): “an’ what can you expect but to get kicked out or put in’ the
stocks for attemptin’ to take a farm over another man’s head.”

“What other man’s head?--nobody has it yet.”

“Ay, has there--a very daicent respectable man has it, by name one
Darby Skinadre. (May he never warm his hungry nose in the same farm,
the miserable keowt that he is this day,” he added in another soliloquy,
which escaped the pedlar): “a very honest man is Darby Skinadre, so you
may save yourself the trouble, I say.”

“At any rate there’s no harm in tryin’--worse than fail we can’t,
an’ if we succeed it’ll be good to come in for anything from the ould
scoundrel, before the devil gets him.”

Jemmy gave him a look.

“Why, what have you to say against the ould boy? Sure it’s not casting
reflections on your own masther you’d be.”

“Oh, not at all,” replied the pedlar, “especially when I’m expectin’ a
favor from one of his sarvints. Throth he’ll soon by all accounts have
his hook in the ould Clip o’ the! Grange--an’ afther that some of his
friends will soon folly him. I wouldn’t be mainin’ one Jemmy Branigan.
Oh, dear no--but it’s a sure case that’s the Black Boy’s intention to
take the whole family by instalments, an’ wid respect to the sarvints to
place them in their ould situations. Faith you’ll have a warm berth of
it, Jemmy, an’ well you desarve it.”

“Why then you circulating vagabone,” replied Jemmy; “if you wern’t a
close friend to him, you’d not know his intentions so well. Don’t let
out on yourself, man alive, unless you have the face to be proud of your
acquaintance, which in throth is more than anyone, barrin’ the same set,
could be of you.”

“Well, well,” retorted the pedlar, “sure blood alive, as we’re all of
the same connection, let us not quarrel now, but sarve another if we
can. Go an’ tell the old blackguard I want to see him about business.”

“Will I tell him you’re itchy about the houghs?--eh? However, the thruth
is, that they,”--and he pointed to the stocks--“might be justice, but no
novelty to you. The iron gathers is an ornament you often wore, an’ will
again, plase goodness.”

“Throth, and. your ornament is one you’ll never wear a second time--the
hemp collar will grace your neck yet; but never mind, you’re leadin’ the
life to desarve it. See now if I can spake a word wid your masther for a
poor family.”

“Why, then, to avoid your tongue, I may as well tell you that himself,
Masther Richard, and Darby Skinadre’s in the office; an’ if you can use
the same blackguard tongue as well in a good cause as you can in a bad
one, it would be well for the poor crayturs. Go in now, an’,” he added
in another soliloquy, “may the Lord prosper his virtuous endayvors, the
vagabone; although all hope o’ that’s past, I doubt; for hasn’t Skinadre
the promise, and Masther Richard the bribe? However, who can tell?---so
God prosper the vagabone, I say again.”

The pedlar, on entering, found old Henderson sitting in an arm-chair,
with one of his legs, as usual, bandaged and stretched out before him on
another chair. He seemed much worn and debilitated, and altogether
had the appearance of a man whose life was not worth a single week’s
purchase. Skinadre was about taking leave of his patron, the son, who
had been speaking to him as the pedlar entered.

“Don’t be unaisy, Darby,” he said. “We can’t give you a lease for about
a week or fortnight; but the agent is now here, an’ we must first take
out new leases ourselves. As soon as we do you shall have yours.”

“If you only knew, your honor, the scrapin’ I had in these hard times,
to get together that hundhre--”

“Hush--there,” said the other, clapping his hand, with an air of
ridicule and contempt upon the miser’s mouth; “that will do now; be off,
and depend upon----mum, you understand mo! Ha, ha, ha!--that’s not a bad
move, father,” he added; “however, I think we must give him the farm.”

The pedlar had been standing in the middle of the floor, when young
Dick, turning round suddenly, asked him with a frown, occasioned by the
fact of his having overheard this short dialogue, what he wanted.

“God save you honors, gintlemen,” said the pedlar, in a loud
straightforward voice. “I’m glad to see your honor looking so well,”
 he added, turning to the father; “it’s fresh an’ young your gettin’,
sir!--glory be to God!”

“Who is this fellow, Dick? Do you think I look better, my man?”

“Says Jemmy Branigan to me afore I came in,” proceeded the
pedlar,--“he’s a thrue friend o’ mine, your honor, Jemmy is, an’ ‘ud
go to the well o’ the world’s end to sarve me--says he, you’ll be
delighted, Harry, to see the masther look so fresh an’ well.”

“And the cursed old hypocrite is just after telling me, Dick, to prepare
for a long journey; adding, for my consolation, that it won’t be a
troublesome one, as it will be all down hill.”

“Why,” replied the son, “he has given you that information for the ten
thousandth time, to my own knowledge. What does this man want? What’s
your business, my good fellow?”

“Beggin’ your pardon, sir,” replied the pedlar, “will you allow me
to ask you one question; were you ever in the forty-seventh foot? Oh,
bedad, it must be him to a sartinty,” he added, as if to himself. “No,”
 replied Dick; “why so?”

“Take care, your honor,” said the pedlar, smiling roguishly;--“take care
now, your honor, if it wasn’t you--”

“What are you speaking about--what do you mean?” asked the young man.

The pedlar went over to him, and said, in a low voice, looking
cautiously at the father, as if he didn’t wish that he should hear him--

“It was surely your honor took away Lord Handicap’s daughter when
you wor an ensign--the handsome ensign, as they called you in the
forty-seventh? Eh? faix I knew you the minute I looked at you.”

“Ha, ha, ha! Do you know what, father? He says I’m the handsome ensign
of the forty-seventh, that took away Lord Handicap’s daughter.”

“The greatest beauty in all England,” added the pedlar; “an’ I knew him
at wanst, your honor.”

“Well, Dick, that’s a compliment, at any rate,” replied the father.

“Were you ever in the forty-seventh?” asked the son, smiling.

“Ah, ah!” returned the pedlar, with a knowing wink, “behave yourself,
captain; I’m not so soft as all that comes to; but sure as I have
a favor to ax from his honor, your father, I’m glad to have your
assistance. Faix, by all accounts you pleaded your own cause well, at
any rate; and I hope you’ll give me a lift now wid his honor here.”

Dick the younger laughed heartily, but really had not ready virtue
sufficient about, to disclaim the pedlar’s compliment.

“Come, then,” he added; “let us hear what your favor is?”

“Oh, thin, thank you, an’ God bless you, captain. It’s this: only to
know if you’d be good enough to grant a new lease of Cargah Farm to
young Condy Dalton; for the ould man, by all accounts, is not long for
this world.”

Both turned their eyes upon him with a look of singular astonishment.

“Who are you at all, my good fellow?” asked the father; “or what devil
drove you here on such an impudent message? A lease to the son of that
ould murderer and his crew of beggars! That’s good, Dick! Well done,
soger! will you back him in that, captain? Ha, ha, ha! D--n me, if I
ever heard the like of it!”

“I hope you will back me, captain,” said the pedlar.

“Upon what grounds, comrade? Ha, ha, ha! Go on! Let us hear you!”

“Why, your honor, bekaise he’s best entitled to it. Think of what it
was when he got it, an’ think of what it is now, and then ax
yourselves--‘Who raised it in value an’ made it worth twiste what it
was worth?’ Wasn’t it the Daltons? Didn’t they lay out near eight hundre
pounds upon it? An, didn’t you, at every renewal, screw them up--beggin’
your pardon, gintlemen--until they found that the more they improved it
the poorer they were gettin’? An’ now that it lies there worth double
its value, an’ they that made it so (to put money into your pocket)
beggars--within a few hundred yards of it--wouldn’t it be rather hard to
let them die an’ starve in destitution, an’ them wishin’ to get it back
at a raisonable rint?”

“In this country, brother soldier,” replied Dick ironically, “we
generally starve first and die afterwards.”

“You may well say so, your honor, an’ God knows, there’s not upon the
face of the arth a counthry where starvation is so much practised, or so
well understood. Faith, unfortunately, it’s the national divarsion wid
us. However, is what I’m sayin’ raisonable, gintlemen?”

“Exceedingly so,” said Dick; “go on.”

“Well, then, I wish to know, will you give them a new lease of their
farm?”

“You do! do you?”

“Troth I do, your honor.”

“Well, then,” replied the son, “I beg to inform you that we will not.”

“Why so, your honor?”

“Simply, you knave,” exclaimed the father, in a passion, “because we
don’t wish it. Kick him out, Dick!”

“My good friend and brother soldier,” said Dick, “the fact is, that we
are about to introduce a new system altogether upon our property. We are
determined to manage it upon a perfectly new principle. It has been too
much sublet under us, and we have resolved to rectify this evil. That is
our answer. You get no lease. Provide for yourself and your friends, the
Daltons, as best you can, but on this property you get no lease. That is
your answer.”

“Begone, now, you scoundrel,” said the father, “and not a word more out
of your head.”

“Gintlemen!--gintlemen!”--exclaimed the pedlar, “have you no
consciences? Is there no justice in the world? The misery, and sorrow,
and sufferin’s of this misfortunate family, will be upon you, I doubt,
if you don’t do them justice.”

“Touch the bell, Dick! Here some one! Jemmy Branigan! Harry Lowry! Jack
Clinton! Where are you all, you scoundrels? Here, put this rascal in the
stocks immediately! in with him!”

Jemmy, who, from an adjoining room, had been listening to every word
that passed, now entered.

“Here, you, sir: clap this vagabond in the stocks for his insolence. He
has come here purposely to insult myself and my son. To the stocks with
him at once.”

“No!” replied Jemmy; “the devil resave the stock will go on him this
day. Didn’t I hear every word that passed? An’ what did he say but the
thruth, an’ what every one knows to be the thruth?”

“Put him in the stocks, I desire you, this instant!”

“Throth if you wor to look at your mug in the glass, you’d feel that
you’ll soon be in a worse stocks yourself than ever you put any poor
craythur into,” replied the redoubtable Jemmy. “Do you be off about
your business, in the mane time, you good-natured vagabone, or this ould
fire-brand will get some one wid less conscience than I have, that’ll
clap you in them.”

“Never mind, father,” observed the son; “let the fellow go about his
business--he’s not worth your resentment.”

The pedlar took the hint and withdrew, accompanied by Jemmy, on whose
face there was a grin of triumph that he could not conceal.

“I tould you,” he added, as they went down the steps, “that the same
stocks was afore you; an’ in the mane time, God pardon me for the
injustice I did in keepin’ you out o’ them.”

“Go on,” replied the other; “devila harsh word ever I’ll say to you
again.”

“Throth will you,” said Jemmy; “an’ both of us will be as fresh as a
daisy in the mornin’, plaise goodness. I have scarcely any one to abuse
me, or to abuse, either, now that the ould masther is so feeble.”

Jemmy extended his hand as he spoke, and gave the pedlar a squeeze, the
cordiality of which was strongly at variance with the abuse he had given
him.

“God bless you!” said the pedlar, returning the pressure; “your bark is
worse than your bite. I’m off now, to mention the reception they gave
me and the answers I got, to a man that will, maybe, bring themselves to
their marrow-bones afore long.”

“Ay, but don’t abuse them, for all that,” replied Jemmy, “for I won’t
bear it.”

“Throth,” returned the other, “you’re a quare Jemmy--an’ so God bless
you!”

Having uttered these words, in an amicable and grateful spirit, our
friend the pedlar bent his steps to the head inn of the next town--being
that of the assizes, where Mr. Travers, the agent, kept his office.



CHAPTER XXVII. -- Sarah Ill--Mave Again, Heroic.


Young Henderson, whose passion for Mave Sullivan was neither virtuous
nor honorable, would not have lent himself, notwithstanding, to the
unprincipled projects of the Prophet, had not that worthy personage
gradually and dishonestly drawn him into a false position. In other
words, he led the vain and credulous young man to believe that Mave had
been seized with a secret affection for him, and was willing, provided
everything was properly managed, to consent to an elopement. For this
purpose, it was necessary that the plan should be executed without
violence, as the Prophet well knew, because, on sounding young Dick upon
that subject, in an early stage of the business, he had ascertained
that the proposal of anything bordering upon outrage or force, would
instantly cause him to withdraw from the project altogether. For this
reason, then, he found it necessary, if possible to embark Sarah as an
accomplice, otherwise, he could not effect his design without violence,
and he felt that her co-operation was required to sustain the falsehood
of his assertions to Henderson with regard to Mave’s consent to: place
herself under his protection. This was to be brought about so as to
hoodwink Henderson, in the following manner: The Prophet proposed that
Sarah should, by his own or her ingenuity, contrive to domicile herself
in Jerry Sullivan’s house for a few days previous to the execution of
their design; not only for the purpose of using her influence, such as
it was, to sway the young creature’s mind and principles from the path
of rectitude and virtue, by dwelling upon the luxury and grandeur of her
future life with Henderson, whose intentions were to be represented as
honorable, but, if necessary, to leave a free ingress to the house, so
as that under any circumstances, and even with a little violence,
Mave should be placed in Henderson’s hands. Should the Prophet, by his
management, effect this, he was to receive a certain sum of money from
his employer the moment he or his party had her in their possession--for
such were the terms of the agreement--otherwise Donnel Dhu reserved to
himself the alternative of disclosing the matter to her friends, and
acquainting them with her situation. This, at all events, was readily
consented to by Henderson, whose natural vanity and extraordinary
opinion of his own merits in the eyes of the sex, prevented him
from apprehending any want of success with Mave, provided he had an
opportunity of bringing the influence of his person, and his wonderful
powers of persuasion, to bear upon such a simple country girl as he
considered her to be. So far, then, he had taken certain steps to secure
himself, whilst he left Henderson to run the risk of such contingencies
as might in all probability arise from the transaction.

This, however, was but an under-plot of the Prophet, whose object was
indeed far beyond that of becoming the paltry instrument of a rusty
intrigue. It was a custom with Dick o’ the Grange, for a few years
previous to the date of our story, to sleep during the assizes, in the
head inn of the town, attended by Jemmy Branigan. This was rendered
in some degree necessary, by the condition of his bad leg, and his
extraordinary devotion to convivial indulgence--a propensity to which he
gave full stretch during the social license of the grand jury dinners.
Now, the general opinion was, that Henderson always kept large sums of
money in the house--an opinion which we believe to have been correct,
and which seemed to have been confirmed by the fact, that on no occasion
were both father and son ever known to sleep out of the house at the
same time, to which we may also add another--viz., that the whole family
were well provided with fire arms, which were freshly primed and loaded
every night.

The Prophet, therefore, had so contrived it, that young Dick’s design
upon Mave Sullivan, or in other words, the Prophet’s own design upon
the money coffers of the Grange, should render his absence from home
necessary whilst his father was swilling at the assizes, by which
arrangement, added to others that will soon appear, the house must, to
a certain degree, be left unprotected, or altogether under the care
of dissolute servants, whose habits, caught from those of the
establishment, were remarkable for dissipation and neglect.

The Prophet, indeed, was naturally a plotter. It is not likely, however,
that he would ever have thought of projecting the robbery of the Grange,
had he not found himself, as he imagined, foiled in his designs upon
Mave Sullivan, by the instinctive honor and love of truth which shone
so brilliantly in the neglected character of his extraordinary daughter.
Having first entrapped her into a promise of secrecy--a promise which he
knew death itself would scarcely induce her to violate, he disclosed to
her the whole plan in the most plausible and mitigated language. Effort
after effort was made to work upon her principles, but in vain. Once
or twice, it is true, she entertained the matter for a time--but a
momentary deliberation soon raised her naturally noble and generous
spirit above the turpitude of so vile a project.

It was, then, in this state of things that the failure of the one, and
the lesser plan, through the incorruptible honor of his daughter, drove
him upon the larger and more tempting one of the burglary. In this
latter, he took unto himself as his principal accomplice, Red Rody
Duncan, whose anxiety to procure the driver’s situation arose from the
necessity that existed, to have a friend in the house, who might aid
them in effecting a quiet entrance, and by unloading or wetting the
fire-arms, neutralize the resistance which they might otherwise expect.

Sarah’s excitement and distraction, however, resulting from her last
interview with young Dalton, giving as it did, a fatal blow to her
passion and her hopes, vehement and extraordinary as they were, threw
her across her father’s path at the precise moment when her great but
unregulated spirit, inflamed by jealousy and reckless from despair,
rendered her most accessible to the wily and aggravating arguments with
which he tempted and overcame her. Thus did he, so far as human means
could devise, or foresight calculate, provide for the completion of two
plots instead of one.

It is true, Mave Sullivan was not left altogether without being
forewarned. Nobody, however, had made her acquainted with the peculiar
nature of the danger that was before her. Nelly M’Gowan, as she was
called, had strongly cautioned her against both Donnel and Sarah, but
then Nelly herself was completely in the dark as to the character of the
injury against which she warned her, so that her friendly precautions
were founded more upon the general and unscrupulous profligacy of
Donnel’s principles, and his daughter’s violence, than upon any
particular knowledge she possessed of her intentions towards her. Mave’s
own serene and innocent disposition was such in fact as to render her
not easily impressed by suspicion; and our readers may have perceived,
by the interview which took place between her and Sarah, that from the
latter, she apprehended no injury.

It was on the following day after that interview, about two o’clock,
that while she was spreading some clothes upon the garden hedge, during
a sickly gleam of sunshine, our friend the pedlar made his appearance,
and entered her father’s house. Mave having laid her washing before the
sun, went in and found him busily engaged in showing his wares, which
consisted principally of cutlery and trinkets. The pedlar, as she
entered, threw a hasty glance at her, perceived that she shook down her
luxuriant hair, which had been disarranged by a branch of thorn that
was caught in it while stretching over the hedge. She at once recognized
him, and blushed deeply; but he seemed altogether to have forgotten her.

“Ha!” he exclaimed, “well, that I may be blest, but it’s many a long day
since I seen such a head o’ hair as that! Holy St. Countryman, but it’s
a beauty. Musha, a _Ora Gal_, maybe you’ll dispose of it, for, in troth,
if ever a face livin’ could afford to part with its best ornament,
your’s is that one.”

Mave smiled and blushed at the compliment, and the pedlar eyed her
apparently with a mixed feeling of admiration and compassion.

“No,” she replied, “I haven’t any desire to part with it.”

“You had the sickness, maybe?”

“Thanks be to the mercy of God,” she fervently exclaimed, “no one in
this family has had it yet.”

“Well, achora,” he continued, “if you take my advice you’ll dispose of
it, in regard that if the sickness--which may God prevent--should come,
it will be well for you to have it off you. If you sell it, I’ll give
you either money or value for it; for indeed, an’ truth it flogs all
I’ve seen this many a day.”

“They say,” observed her mother, “that it’s not lucky to sell one’s
hair, and whether it’s true or not I don’t know; but I’m tould for a
sartinty, that there’s not a girl that ever sould it but was sure to
catch the sickness.”

“I know that there’s truth in that,” said Jerry himself. “There’s Sally
Hacket, and Mary Geoghegan, and Katy Dowdall, all sould it, and not
one of them escaped the sickness. And, moreover, didn’t I hear Misther
Cooper, the bleedin’ doctor, say, myself, in the market, on Sathurday,
that the people couldn’t do a worse thing than cut their hair close, as
it lets the sickness in by the head, and makes it tin times as hard upon
them, when it comes.”

“Well, well, there’s no arguin’ wid you,” said the pedlar, “all I say
is, that you ought to part wid it, acushla--by all means you ought.”

“Never mind him, Mave darlin’,” said her mother, whose motive in saying
so was altogether dictated by affectionate apprehensions for her health.

“No,” replied her daughter, “it is not my intention, mother, to part
with what God has given me. I have no notion of it.”

At this stage of the dialogue, her eldest brother, who had been getting
a horse shod at the next forge, entered the house, and threw himself
carelessly on a chair. His appearance occasioned a alight pause in the
conversation.

“Well, Denny,” said the father, “what’s the news?”

“Bad news with the Daltons,” replied the boy.

“With the Daltons!” exclaimed Mave, trembling, and getting paler, if
possible, than she was; “for God’s mercy, Dennis, what has happened
amongst them?”

“I met Mrs. Dalton a while ago,” he replied, “and she tould me that they
had no one now to take care of them. Sarah M’Gowan, the Black Prophet’s
daughter, has catched the sickness, and is lyin’ in a shed there beyant,
that a poor thravellin’ family was in about a week ago. Mrs. Dalton says
her own family isn’t worse wid the sickness, but betther, she thinks;
but she was cryin’, the daicent craythur, and she says they’ll die
wid neglect and starvation, for she must be out, and there’s no one to
attend to them, and they have nothing but the black wather, God help
them!”

While he spoke, Mave’s eyes were fastened upon him, as if the sentence
of her own life or death was about to issue from his lip. Gradually,
however, she breathed more freely; a pale red tinged her cheek for a
moment, after which, a greater paleness settled upon it again.

The pedlar shook his head. “Ah,” he exclaimed, “they are hard times,
sure enough; may the Lord bring us all safe through them! Well, I see
I’m not likely to make my fortune among you,” he added, smiling, “so
I must tramp on, but any way, I must thank you for house-room and your
civility.”

“I’d offer something to ait,” said Mrs. Sullivan, with evident pain,
“but the truth is--”

“Not a morsel,” replied the other, “if the house was overflown.’. God
bless you all--God bless you.”

Mave, almost immediately after her brother had concluded, passed to
another room, and returned just as the old pedlar had gone out. She
instantly followed him with a hasty step; while he, on hearing her foot,
turned round.

“You told me that you admired my hair,” she said, on coming up to him.
“Now, supposin’ I’m willin’ to sell it to you, what ought I to get for
it?”

“Don’t be alarmed by what they say inside,” replied the pedlar; “any
regular doctor would tell that, in these times, it’s safer to part wid
it--that I may be happy but I’m tellin’ you thruth. What is it worth?
What are you axin?”

“I don’t know; but for God’s sake cut it off, and give me the most you
can afford for it. Oh! believe me, it’s not on account of the mere value
of it, but the money may save lives.”

“Why, achora, what do you intend doin’ wid the money, if it’s a fair
question to ax?”

“It’s not a fair question for a stranger--it’s enough for me to tell you
that I’ll do nothing with it without my father and mother’s knowledge.
Here, Denny,” she said, addressing her brother, who was on his way to
the stable, “slip a stool through the windy, an’ stay wid me in the
barn--I want to send you of a message in a few minutes.”

It is only necessary to say that the compensation was a more liberal one
than Mave had at all expected, and the pedlar disencumbered her of as
rich and abundant a mass of hair as ever ornamented a female head. This
he did, however, in such a way as to render the absence of it as little
perceptible as might be; the side locks he did not disturb, and Mave,
when she put on a clean night cap, looked as if she had not undergone
any such operation.

As the pedlar was going away, he called her aside, so as that her
brother might not hear.

“Did you ever see me afore?” he asked.

“I did,” she replied, blushing. “Well, achora,” he proceeded, “if ever
you happen to be hard set, either for yourself or your friends, send
for me, in Widow Hanlon’s house at the Grange, an’ maybe I may befriend
either you or them; that is, as far as I can--which, dear knows, is not
far; but, still an’ all, send. I’m known as the _Cannie Sugah_, or Merry
Pedlar, an’ that’ll do. God mark you, _ahagur!_”

Her brother’s intelligence respecting the situation of the Daltons, as
well as of Sarah M’Gowan, saved Mave a long explanation to her parents
for the act of having parted with her hair.

“We are able to live--barely able to live,” she exclaimed; “an’ thanks
be to God we have our health; but the Daltons--oh! they’ll never get
through what they’re sufferin’; an’ that girl--oh! mother, sich a girl
as that is--how little does the world know of the heart that beautiful
craythur has. May the mercy of God rest upon her! This money is for the
poor Daltons an’ her; we can do without it--an’, mother dear, my hair
will grow again. Oh! father dear, think of it--lyin’ in a could shed by
the road-side, an’ no one to help or assist her--to hand her a drink--to
ease her on her hard bed--bed!--no on the cold earth I suppose! Oh!
think if I was in that desolate state. May God support me, but she’s
the first I’ll see; an’ while I have life an’ strength, she musn’t want
attendance; an’ thank God her shed’s on my way to the Daltons!”

She then hastily sent her brother into Ballynafail for such comforts as
she deemed necessary for both parties; and in the mean time, putting a
bonnet over her clean nightcap, she proceeded to the shed in which Sarah
M’Gowan lay.

On looking at it ere she entered, she could not help shuddering. It
was such a place as the poorest pauper in the poorest cabin would not
willingly place an animal in for shelter. It simply consisted of a
few sticks laid up against the side of a ditch; over these sticks were
thrown a few scraws--that is, the sward of the earth cut thin; in the
inside was the remnant of some loose straw, the greater part having been
taken away either for bedding or firing.

When Mave entered, she started at the singular appearance of Sarah. From
the first moment her person had been known to her until the present, she
had never seen her look half so beautiful. She literally lay stretched
upon a little straw, with no other pillow than a sod of earth under that
rich and glowing cheek, while her raven hair had fallen down, and added
to the milk-white purity of her shining neck and bosom.

“Father of Mercy!” exclaimed Mave, mentally, “how will she live--how
can she live here? An’ what will become of her? Is she to die in this
miserable way in a Christian land?”

Sarah lay groaning with pain, and starting from time to time with the
pangs of its feverish inflictions. Mave spoke not when she entered the
shed, being ignorant whether Sarah was asleep or awake; but a very few
moments soon satisfied her that the unhappy and deserted girl was under
the influence of delirium.

“I won’t break my promise, father, but I’ll break my heart; an’ I can’t
even give her warnin’. Ah! but it’s threacherous--an’ I hate that. No,
no--I’ll have no hand in it--manage it your own way--it’s threacherous.
She has crossed my happiness,you say--ay, an’ there you’re right--so
she has--only for her I might--amn’t I as handsome, you say, an’ as
well shaped--haven’t I as white a skin?--as beautiful hair, an’ as good
eyes?--people say betther--an’ if I have, wouldn’t he come to love me in
time?--only for her--or if there wasn’t that bar put between us. You’re
right, you’re right. She’s the cause of all my sufferin’ an’ sorrow. She
is--I agree--I agree--down with her--out o’ my way with her--I hate the
thoughts of her--an’ I’ll join it--for mark me, father, wicked I may
be, but more miserable I can’t--so I’ll join you in it. What need I care
now?”

Mave felt her heart sink, and her whole being disturbed with a heavy
sense of terror, as Sarah uttered the incoherent rhapsody which we have
just repeated. The vague, but strongly expressed warnings which she
had previously heard from Nelly, and the earnest admonitions which that
person had given her to beware of evil designs on the part of Donnel Dhu
and his daughter, now rushed upon her mind; and she stood looking upon
the desolate girl with feelings that it is difficult to describe. She
also remembered that Sarah herself had told her in their very last
interview, that she had other thoughts, and worse thoughts than the fair
battle of rivalry between them would justify; and it was only now, too,
that the unconscious allusion to the Prophet struck her with full force.

Her sweet and gentle magnanimity, however, rose over every other
consideration but the frightfully desolate state of her unhappy rival.
Even in this case, also, her own fears of contagion yielded to the
benevolent sense of duty by which she was actuated.

“Come what will,” she said to her own heart; “we ought to return good
for evil; an’ there’s no use in knowing what is right, unless we strive
to put it in practice. At any rate, poor girl--poor, generous Sarah, I’m
afeard that you’re never likely to do harm to me, or any one else, in
this world. May God, in his mercy, pity and relieve you--and restore you
wanst more to health!”

Mave, unconsciously, repeated the last words aloud; and Sarah, who had
been lying with her back to the unprotected opening of the shed, having
had a slight mitigation, and but a slight one, of the paroxysm under
which she had uttered the previous incoherencies, now turned round, and
fixing her eyes upon Mave, kept sharply, but steadily, gazing at her
for some time. It was quite evident, however, that consciousness had
not returned, for after she had surveyed Mave for a minute or two, she
proceeded--

“The devil was there a while ago, but I wasn’t afeard of him, because
I knew that God was stronger than him; and then there came an
angel--another angel, not you--and put him away; but it wasn’t my
guardian angel for I never had a guardian angel--oh, never, never--no,
nor any one to take care o’ me, or make me love them.”

She uttered the last words in a tone of such deep and distressing
sorrow, that Mave’s eyes filled with tears, and she replied--

“Dear Sarah, let me be your guardian angel; I will do what I can for
you; do you not know me?”

“No, I don’t; arn’t you one o’ the angels that come about me?--the place
is full o’ them.”

“Unhappy girl--or maybe happy girl,” exclaimed Mave, with a fresh gush
of tears, “who knows but the Almighty has your cold and deserted--bed
I can’t call it--surrounded with beings that may comfort you, an’ take
care that no evil thing will harm you. Oh no, dear Sarah, I am far from
that--I’m a wake, sinful mortal.”

“Bekaise they’re about me continually an’--let me see--who are you? I
know you. One o’ them said a while ago, ‘May God relieve you and restore
you wanst more to health;’ I heard the voice.”

“Dear Sarah, don’t you know me?” reiterated Mave; “look at me--don’t you
know Mave Sullivan--your friend, Mave Sullivan, that knows your value
and loves you.”

“Who?” she asked, starting a little; “who--what name is that?--who is
it?--say it again.”

“Don’t you know Mave Sullivan, that loves you, an’ feels for your
miserable situation, my dear Sarah.”

“I never had a guardian angel, nor any one to take care o’ me--nor a
mother, many a time--often--often the whole world--jist to look at her
face--an’ to know--feel--love me. Oh, a dhrink, a dhrink--is there no
one to get me a dhrink! I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’--is there no one to get
me a dhrink! Mave Sullivan, Mave Sullivan, have pity on me! I heard some
one name her--I heard her voice--I’ll die without a dhrink.”

Mave looked about the desolate shed, and to her delight spied a tin
porringer, which Sarah’s unhappy predecessors had left behind them;
seizing this, she flew to a little stream that ran by the place, and
filling the vessel, returned and placed it to Sarah’s lips. She drank
it eagerly, and looking piteously and painfully up into Mave’s face, she
laid back her head, and appeared to breathe more freely. Mave hoped that
the drink of cold water would have cooled her fever and assuaged her
thirst, so as to have brought her to a rational state--such a state
as would have enabled the poor girl to give some account of the
extraordinary situation in which she found herself, and of the
circumstances which occasioned her to take shelter in such a place. In
this, however, she was disappointed. Sarah having drank the cold water,
once more shut her eyes, and fell into that broken and oppressive
slumber which characterizes the terrible malady which had stricken her
down. For some time she waited with this benign expectation, but seeing
there was no likelihood of her restoration, to consciousness, she again
filled the tin vessel, and placing it upon a stone by her bedside,
composed the poor girl’s dress about her, and turned her steps toward a
scene in which she expected to find equal misery.

It is not our intention, however, to dwell upon it. It is sufficient
to say, that she found the Daltons--who, by the way, had a pretty long
visit from the pedlar--as her brother had said, beginning to recover,
and so far this was consolatory; but there was not within the walls of
the house, earthly comfort, or food or nourishment of any kind. Poor
Mary was literally gasping for want of sustenance, and a few hours more
might have been fatal to them all. There was no fire--no gruel, milk or
anything that could in the slightest possible degree afford them relief.
Her brother Denny, however, who had been desired by her to fetch his
purchases directly to their cabin, soon returned, and almost at a moment
that might be called the crisis, not of their malady, for that had
passed, but of their fate itself, his voice was heard, shouting from a
distance that he had discharged his commission; for we may observe that
no possible inducement could tempt him to enter that or any other house
where fever was at work. Mave lost little time in administering to their
wants and their weaknesses. With busy and affectionate hands she did all
that could be done for them at that particular juncture. She prepared
food for Mary, made whey and gruel, and left as much of her little purse
as she thought could be spared from the wants of Sarah M’Gowan.

In the course of two or three days afterwards, however, Sarah’s
situation was very much changed for the better; but until that change
was effected, Mave devoted as much time to the poor girl as she could
possibly spare. Nor was the force of her example without its beneficial
effects in the neighborhood, especially as regarded Sarah herself. The
courage she displayed, despite her constitutional timidity, communicated
similar courage to others, in consequence of which Sarah was scarcely
ever without some one in her bleak shed to watch and take care of her.
Her father, however, on hearing of her situation, availed himself of
what some of the neighbors considered a mitigation of her symptoms, and
with as much care and caution as possible, she was conveyed home on a
kind of litter, and nurse-tended by an old woman from the next village,
Nelly having disappeared from the neighborhood.

The attendance of this old woman, by the way, surprised the Prophet
exceedingly. He had not engaged her to attend on Sarah, nor could he
ascertain who had. Upon this subject she was perfectly inscrutable. All
he could know or get out of her was, that she had been engaged; and
he could perceive also, that she was able to procure her many general
comforts, not usually to be had about the sick bed of a person in her
condition of life.

Mave, during all her attendance upon Sarah, was never able to ascertain
whether, in the pauses of delirium, she had been able to recognize her.
At one period, while giving her a drink of whey, she looked up into her
eyes with something like a glance of consciousness, mingled with wonder,
and appeared about to speak, but in a moment it was gone, and she
relapsed into her former state.

This, however, was not the only circumstance that astonished Mave.
The course of a single week also made a very singular change in the
condition of the Daltons. Their miserable cabin began to exhibit an
abundance of wholesome food, such as fresh meat, soup, tea, sugar,white
bread, and even to wine, to strengthen the invalids. These things were
to Mave equally a relief and a wonder; nor were the neighbors less
puzzled at such an unaccountable improvement in the circumstances of
this pitiable and suffering family. As in the case of Sarah, however,
all these comforts, and the source from whence they proceeded, were
shrouded in mystery. It is true, Mrs. Dalton smiled in a melancholy way
when any inquiries were made about the matter, and shaking her head,
declared, that although she knew, it was out of her power to break the
seal of secrecy, or violate the promise she had made to their unknown
benefactor.

Sarah’s fever was dreadfully severe, and for some time after her removal
from the shed, there was little hope of her recovery. Our friend, the
pedlar, paid her a visit in the very height of her malady, and without
permission, given or asked, took the liberty, in her father’s absence,
of completely removing her raven hair, with the exception, as in Mave’s
case, of those locks which adorn the face and forehead, and, to
his shame and dishonesty be it told, without the slightest offer of
remuneration.



CHAPTER XXVIII. -- Double Treachery.


The state of the country at this period of our narrative was, indeed,
singularly gloomy and miserable. Some improvement, however, had taken
place in the statistics of disease; but the destitution was still so
sharp and terrible, that there was very little diminution of the tumults
which still prevailed. Indeed the rioting, in some districts, had risen
to a frightful extent. The cry of the people was, for either bread or
work; and to still, if possible, this woeful clamor, local committees,
by large subscriptions, aided, in some cases, by loans from government,
contrived to find them employment on useful public works. Previous to
this, nothing could surpass the prostration and abject subserviency with
which the miserable crowds solicited food or labor. Only give them labor
at any rate--say sixpence a day--and they did not wish to beg or violate
the laws. No, no; only give them peaceable employment, and they would
rest not only perfectly contented, but deeply grateful. In the meantime,
the employment they sought for was provided, not at sixpence, but
at one-and-sixpence a day; so that for a time they appeared to feel
satisfied, and matters went on peaceably enough. This, however, was too
good to last. There are ever, among such masses of people, unprincipled
knaves, known as “politicians”--idle vagabonds, who hate all honest
employment themselves, and ask no better than to mislead and fleece
the ignorant unreflecting people, however or wherever they can. These
fellows read and expound the papers on Sundays and holidays; rail not
only against every government, no matter what its principles are, but,
in general, attack all constituted authority, without feeling one single
spark of true national principle, or independent love of liberty. It is
such corrupt scoundrels that always assail the executive of the country,
and at the same time supply the official staff of spies and informers
with their blackest perjurers and traitors. In truth, they are always
the first to corrupt, and the first to betray. You may hear these
men denouncing government this week, and see them strutting about the
Castle, its pampered instruments, and insolent with its patronage, the
next. If there be a strike, conspiracy, or cabal of any kind, these
“patriots” are at the bottom of it; and wherever ribbonism and other
secret societies do not exist, there they are certain to set them
agoing.

For only a short time were these who had procured industrial employment
permitted to rest satisfied with the efforts which had been made on
their behalf. The “patriots” soon commenced operations.

“Eighteen pence a day was nothing; the government had plenty of money,
and if the people wished to hear a truth, it could be tould them by
those who knew--listen hether”--as the Munster men say--“the country
gentlemen and the committees are putting half the money into their own
pockets”--this being precisely what the knaves would do themselves if
they were in their places--“and for that reason we’ll strike for higher
wages.”

In this manner were the people led first into folly, and ultimately
into rioting and crime; for it is not, in point of fact, those who are
suffering most severely that take a prominent part in these senseless
tumults, or who are the first to trample upon law and order. The evil
example is set to those who do suffer by these factious vagabonds;
and, under such circumstances, and betrayed by such delusions, the
poor people join the crowd, and find themselves engaged in the outrage,
before they have time to reflect upon their conduct.

At the time of which we write, however, the government did not consider
it any part of its duty to take a deep interest in the domestic or
social improvement of the people. The laws of the country, at that
period, had but one aspect--that of terror; for it was evident that the
legislature of the day had forgotten that neither an individual nor a
people can both love and fear the same object at the same time. The laws
checked insubordination and punished crime; and having done this, the
great end and object of all law was considered to have been attained.
We hope, however, the day has come when education, progress, improvement
and reward, will shed their mild and peaceful lustre upon our
statute-books, and banish from them those Draconian enactments, that
engender only fear and hatred, breathe of cruelty, and have their origin
in a tyrannical love of blood.

We have said that the aspect of the country was depressing and gloomy;
but we may add here, that these words convey but a vague and feeble
idea of the state to which the people at large were reduced. The general
destitution, the famine, sickness and death, which had poured such
misery and desolation over the land, left, as might be expected, their
terrible traces behind them. Indeed the sufferings which a year of
famine and disease--and they usually either accompany or succeed each
other--inflicts upon the multitudes of poor, are such as no human pen
could at all describe, so as to portray a picture sufficiently faithful
to the dreary and death-like spirit which should breath in it. Upon
the occasion we write of, nothing met you, go where you might, but
suffering, and sorrow, and death, to which we may add, tumult, and
crime, and bloodshed. Scarcely a family but had lost one or more.
Every face you met was an index of calamity, and bore upon it the
unquestionable impressions of struggle and hardship. Cheerfulness and
mirth had gone, and were forgotten. All the customary amusements of the
people had died away. Almost every house had a lonely and deserted look;
for it was known that one or more beloved beings had gone out of it to
the grave. A dark, heartless spirit was abroad. The whole land, in fact,
mourned, and nothing on which the eye could rest, bore a green or a
thriving look, or any symptom of activity, but the churchyards, and here
the digging and delving were incessant--at the early twilight, during
the gloomy noon, the dreary dusk, and the still more funeral looking
light of the midnight taper.

The first days of the assizes were now near, and among all those who
awaited them, there was none whose fate excited so profound an interest
as that of old Condy Dalton. His family had now recovered from their
terrible sufferings, and were able to visit him in his prison--a
privilege which was awarded to them as a mark of respect for their many
virtues, and of sympathy for their extraordinary calamities and trials.
They found him resigned to his fate, but stunned with wonder at the
testimony on which he was likely to be convicted. The pedlar, who
appeared to take so singular an interest in the fortunes of his family,
sought and obtained a short interview with him, in which he requested
him to state, as accurately as he could remember, the circumstances on
which the prosecution was founded, precisely as they occurred. This he
did, closing his account by the usual burthen of all his conversation
ever since he went to gaol:

“I know I must suffer; but I think nothing of myself, only for the shame
it will bring upon my family.”

Sarah’s unexpected illness disconcerted at least one of the projects of
Donnel Dhu. There were now only two days until the assizes, and she
was as yet incapable of leaving her bed, although in a state of
convalescence. This mortified the Prophet very much, but his subtlety
and invention never abandoned him. It struck him that the most effectual
plan now would be--as Sarah’s part in aiding to take away Mave was
out of the question--to merge the violence to which he felt they must
resort, into that of the famine riots; and under the character of one
of these tumults, to succeed, if possible, in removing Mave from her
father’s house, ere her family could understand the true cause of her
removal. Those who were to be engaged in this were, besides, principally
strangers, to whom neither Mave nor her family were personally known;
and as a female cousin of hers--an orphan--had come to reside with them
until better times should arrive, it would be necessary to have some one
among the party who knew Mave sufficiently to make no mistake as to her
person. For this purpose he judiciously fixed upon Thomas Dalton, as the
most appropriate individual to execute this act of violence against the
very family who were likely to be the means of bringing his father to
a shameful death. This young man had not yet recovered the use of his
reason, so as to be considered sane. He still roved about as before,
sometimes joining the mobs, and leading them on to the outrage, and
sometimes sauntering in a solitary mood, without seeming altogether
conscious of what he did or said. To secure his co-operation was a
matter of little or difficulty, and the less so as he heard, with
infinite satisfaction, that Dalton was perpetually threatening every
description of vengeance against the Sullivans, about to be tried, and
very likely to suffer for the murder.

It was now the day but one previous to the commencement of the assizes,
and our readers will be kind enough to accompany us to the Grange,
or rather to the garden of the Grange, at the gate of which our
acquaintance Red Rody is knocking. He has knocked two or three times,
and sent, on each occasion, Hanlon, old Dick, young Dick, together with
all the component parts of the establishment, to a certain territory,
where, so far as its legitimate historians assure us, the coldness of
the climate has never been known to give any particular offence.

“I know he’s inside, for didn’t I see him goin’ in--well, may all
the devils--hem--oh, good morrow, Charley--troth you’d make a good
messenger for death. I’m knocking here till I have lost the use of my
arm wid downright fatigue.”

“Never mind, Rody, you’ll recover it before you’re twice married--come
in.” They then entered. “Well, Rody, what’s the news?”

“What the news, is it? Why then is anything in the shape of news--of
good news I mean--to be had in such a counthry as this? Troth it’s a
shame for any one that has health an’ limbs to remain in it. An’ now
that you’re answered, what’s the news yourself, Charley? I hope that
the Drivership’s safe at last, I thought I was to sleep at home in my
comfortable berth last--”

“Not now till afther the ‘sizes, Rody.”

“The master’s goin’ to them? bekaise I heard he wasn’t able.”

“He’s goin’, he says, happen what may; he thinks it’s his last visit
to them, and I agree wid him--he’ll soon have a greater ‘sizes and a
different judge to meet.”

“Ay, Charley, think of that now; an’ tell me, he sleeps in Ballynafail,
as usual; eh, now?”

“He does of course.”

“An’ Jemmy Branigan goes along wid him?”

“Are you foolish, Kody? Do you think he could live widout him?”

“Well, I b’lieve not. Throth, whenever the ould fellow goes in the next
world, there’ll be no keepin’ Jemmy from him. Howandiver, to dhrop that.
Isn’t these poor times, Charley, an’ isn’t this a poor counthry to live
in--or it would be nearer the truth to say starve in?”

“No, but it would be the truth itself,” replied the other. “What is
there over the whole counthry but starvation and misery?”

“Any dhrames about America since, Charley? eh, now?”

“Maybe ay, and maybe no, Rody. Is it true that Tom Dalton threatens all
kinds of vengeance on the Sullivans?”

“Ay, is it, an’ the whole counthry says that he’s as ready to knock one
o’ them on the head as ever the father before him was. They don’t think
the betther of the ould man for it; but what do you mane by ‘maybe ay,
an’ maybe no,’ Charley?”

“What do you mane by axin’ me?”

Each looked keenly for some time at the other as he spoke, and after
this there was a pause. At length, Hanlon, placing his hand upon Rody’s
shoulder, replied:

“Rody, it won’t do. I know the design--and I tell you now that one word
from my lips could have you brought up at the assizes--tried--and I
won’t say the rest. You’re betrayed!”

The ruffian’s lip fell--his voice faltered, and he became pale.

“Ay!” proceeded the other, “you may well look astonished--but listen,
you talk about goin’ to America--do you wish to go?”

“Of coorse I do,” replied Body, “of coorse--not a doubt of it.”

“Well,” proceeded Hanlon again, “listen still! your plan’s discovered,
you’re betrayed; but I can’t tell you who betrayed you, I’m not at
liberty. Now listen, I say, come this way. Couldn’t you an’ I ourselves
do the thing--couldn’t we make the haul, and couldn’t we cut off to
America without any danger to signify, that is, if you can be faithful?”

“Faithful!” he exclaimed. “By all the books that was ever opened an’
shut, I’m thruth and honesty itself, so I am--howandiver, you said I was
betrayed?”

“But I can’t tell you the man that toald me. Whether you’re able to
guess at him or not, I don’t know; but the thruth is, Rody, I’ve taken
a likin’ to you--an’ if you’ll just stand the trial I’m goin’ to put you
to, I’ll be a friend to you--the best you ever had too.”

“Well, Charley,” said the other, plucking up courage a little, for the
fellow was a thorough coward, “what is the thrial?”

“The man,” continued Hanlon, “that betrayed you gave me one account of
what you’re about; but whether he tould me thruth or not I don’t know
till I hear another, an’ that’s yours. Now, you see clearly, Rody, that
I’m up to all as it is, so you need not be a bit backward in tellin’ the
whole thruth. I say you’re in danger, an’ it’s only trustin’ to me--mark
that--by trustin’ faithfully to me that you’ll get out of it; an’,
plaise the fates, I hope that, before three mouths is over, we’ll be
both safe an’ comfortable in America. Do you undherstand that? I had my
dhrames, Rody; but if I had, there must be nobody but yourself and me to
know them.”

“It wasn’t I that first thought of it, but Donnel Dhu,” replied Kody; “I
never dreamt that he’d turn thraitor though.”

“Don’t be sayin’ to-morrow or next day that I said he did,” replied
Hanlon. “Do you mind me now? A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind
horse.”

Rody, though cowardly and treacherous, was extremely cunning, and upon
turning the matter over in his mind, he began to dread, or rather
to feel that Hanlon had so far over-reached him. Still it might be
possible, he thought, that the prophet had betrayed him, and he resolved
to put a query to his companion that would test his veracity; after
which he would leave himself at liberty to play a double game, if
matters should so fall out as to render it necessary.

“Did the man that tould you everything,” he asked, “tell you the night
that was appointed for this business?”

Hanlon felt this was a puzzler, and that he might possibly commit
himself by replying in the affirmative.

“No,” he replied, “he didn’t tell me that.”

“Ah, ha!” thought his companion, “I see whereabouts you are.”

He disclosed, however, the whole plot, with the single exception of the
night appointed for the robbery, which, in point of date, he placed in
his narrative exactly a week after the real time.

“Now,” he said to himself, “so far I’m on the safe side; still, if he
has humbugged me, I’ve paid him in his own coin. Maybe the whole haul,
as he calls it, may be secured before they begin to prepare for it.”

Hanlon, however, had other designs. After musing a little, they
sauntered along the garden walks, during which he proposed a plan
of their own for the robbery of Henderson; and so admirably was it
concocted, and so tempting to the villainous cupidity of Duncan, that
he expressed himself delighted from the commencement of its fancied
execution until their ultimate settlement in America.

“It was a treacherous thing, I grant, to betray you, Rody,” said Hanlon;
“an’ if I was in your place, I’d give him tit for tat. An’, by the
way, talkin’ of the Prophet--not that I say it was he betrayed you--for
indeed now it wasn’t--bad cess to me if it was--I think you wanst said
you knew more about him than I thought.”

“Ah, ha,” again thought Rody, “I think I see what you’re afther at last;
but no matther, I’ll keep my eye on you. Hut, ay did I,” he replied;
“but I forget now what’s this it was. However, I’ll try if I can
remember it; if I do, I’ll tell you.”

“You an’ he will hang that murdherin’ villain, Dalton--”

“I’m afeard o’ that,” replied the other; “an’ for my part, I’d as soon
be out of the thing altogether; however, it can’t be helped now.’”

“Isn’t it sthrange, Rody, how murdher comes out at last?” observed
Hanlon; “now there’s that ould man, an’ see, after twenty years or more,
how it comes against him. However, it’s not a very pleasant subject, so
let it dhrop. Here’s Masther Richard comin’ through the private gate,”
 he added; “but if you slip down to my aunt’s to-night, we’ll have a
glass of something that’ll do us no harm at any rate, and we can talk
more about the other business.”

“Very well,” replied Rody, “I’ll be down, so goodbye; an’ whisper,
Charley,” he added, putting on a broad grin; “don’t be too sure that I
tould you a single word o’ thruth about the rob--hem--ha, ha! take care
of yourself--good people is scarce you know--ha, ha, ha!”

He then left Hanlon in a state of considerable doubt as to the discovery
he had made touching the apprehended burglary; and his uncertainty was
the greater, inasmuch as he had frequently heard the highest possible
encomiums lavished upon Duncan’s extraordinary powers of invention and
humbug.

Young Henderson, on hearing these circumstances, did not seriously
question their truth; neither did they in the slightest degree shake
his confidence in the intentions of the Prophet with respect to Mave
Sullivan. Indeed, he argued very reasonably and correctly, that the man
who was capable of the one act, would have little hesitation to commit
the other. This train of reflection, however, he kept to himself, for it
is necessary to state here, that Hanlon was not at all in the secret of
the plot against Mave. Henderson had, on an earlier occasion sounded him
upon it, but perceived at once that his scruples could not be overcome,
and that of course it would be dangerous to repose confidence in him.

The next evening was that immediately preceding the assizes, and it was
known that Dalton’s trial was either the second or third on the list,
and must consequently come on, on the following day. The pedlar and
Hanlon sat in a depressed and melancholy mood at the fire; an old crone
belonging to the village, who had been engaged to take care of the house
during the absence of Hanlon’s aunt, sat at the other side, occasionally
putting an empty dudeen into her mouth, drawing it hopelessly, and
immediately knocking the bowl of it in a fretful manner, against the
nail of her left thumb.

“What’s the matther, Ailey?” asked the pedlar; “are you out o’ tobaccy?”

“Throth it’s time for you to ax--ay am I; since I ate my dinner, sorra
puff I had.”

“Here then,” he replied, suiting the action to the word, and throwing
a few halfpence into her lap; “go to Peggy Finigan’s an’ buy yourself a
couple of ounces, an’ smoke rings round you; and listen to me, go down
before you come back to Bamy Keeran’s an’ see whether he has my shoes
done or not, an’ tell him from me, that if they’re not ready for me
tomorrow mornin’, I’ll get him exkummunicated.”

When the crone had gone out, the pedlar proceeded:

“Don’t be cast down yet, I tell you; there’s still time enough, an’ they
may be here still.”

“Be here still! why, good God! isn’t the thrial to come on to-morrow,
they say?”

“So itself; you may take my word for it, that even if he’s found guilty,
they won’t hang him, or any man of his years.”

“Don’t be too sure o’ that,” replied Hanlon; “but indeed what could I
expect afther dependin’ upon a foolish dhrame?”

“Never mind; I’m still of the opinion that everything may come about
yet. The Prophet’s wife was with Father Hanratty, tellin’ him something,
an’ he is to call here early in the mornin’; he bid me tell you so.”

“When did you see him?”

“To day at the cross roads, as he was goin’ to a sick call.

“But where’s the use o’ that, when they’re not here? My own opinion is,
that she’s either sick, or if God hasn’t said it, maybe dead. How can
we tell if ever she has seen or found the man you sent her for? Sure, if
she didn’t, all’s lost.”

“Throth, I allow,” replied the pedlar, “that things is in a distressin’
state with us; however, while there’s life there’s hope, as the Doctor
says. There must be something extraordinary wrong to keep them away so
long, I grant--or herself, at any rate; still, I say again, trust
in God. You have secured Duncan, you say; but can you depend on the
ruffian?”

“If it was on his honesty, I could not, one second, but I do upon his
villainy and love of money. I have promised him enough, and it all
depends on whether he’ll believe me or not.”

“Well, well,” observed the other, “I wish things had a brighter look up.
If we fail, I won’t know what to say. We must only thry an’ do the best
we can, ourselves.”

“Have you seen the agint since you gave him the petition?” asked Hanlon.

“I did, but he had no discoorse with the Hendherson’s; and he bid me
call on him again.”

“I dunna what does he intend to do?”

“Hut, nothing. What ‘id he do? I’ll go bail, he’ll never trouble his
head about it more; at any rate I tould him a thing.”

“Very likely he won’t,” replied Hanlon; “but what I’m thinkin’ of now,
is the poor Daltons. May God in his mercy pity an’ support them this
night!”

The pedlar clasped his hands tightly as he looked up, and said “Amen!”

“Ay,” said he, “it’s now, Charley, whin I think of them, that I get
frightened about our disappointment, and the way that everything has
failed with us. God pity them, I say, too!”

The situation of this much tried family, was, indeed, on the night in
question, pitiable in the extreme. It is true, they had now recovered,
or nearly so, the full enjoyment of their health, and were--owing, as
we have already said, to the bounty of some unknown friend--in
circumstances of considerable comfort. Dalton’s confession of the murder
had taken away from them every principle upon which they could rely,
with one only exception. Until the moment of that confession, they
had never absolutely been in possession of the secret cause of his
remorse--although, it must be admitted, that, on some occasions, the
strength of his language and the melancholy depth of his sorrow, filled
them with something like suspicion. Still such they knew to be the
natural affection and tenderness of his heart, his benevolence and
generosity, in spite of his occasional bursts of passion, that they
could not reconcile to themselves the notion that he had ever murdered a
fellow creature. Every one knows how slow the heart of wife or child is
to entertain such a terrible suspicion against a husband or a parent,
and that the discovery of their guilt comes upon the spirit with
a weight of distress and agony that is great in proportion to the
confidence felt in them.

The affectionate family in question had just concluded their simple act
of evening worship, and were seated around a dull fire, looking forward
in deep dejection to the awful event of the following day. The silence
that prevailed was only broken by an occasional sob from the girls, or
a deep sigh from young Con, who, with his mother, had not long been
returned from Ballynafail, where they had gone to make preparations for
the old man’s defence. His chair stood by the fire, in its usual place,
and as they looked upon it from time to time, they could not prevent
their grief from bursting out afresh. The mother, on this occasion,
found the usual grounds for comfort taken away from both herself and
them--we mean, the husband’s innocence. She consequently had but one
principle to rely on--that of single dependence upon God, and obedience
to His sovereign will, however bitter the task might be, and so she told
them.

“It’s a great thrial to us, children,” she observed; “an’ it’s only
natural we should feel it. I do not bid you to stop cryin’, my poor
girls, because it would be very strange if you didn’t cry. Still, let
us not forget that it’s our duty to bow down humbly before whatever
misfortune--an’ this is indeed a woeful one--that it pleases God in His
wisdom (or, may be, in His mercy), to lay in our way. That’s all we can
do now, God help us--an’ a hard thrial it is--for when we think of what
he was to us--of his kindness--his affection!----”

Her own voice became infirm, and, instead of proceeding, she paused a
moment, and then giving one long, convulsive sob, that rushed up from
her very heart, she wept out long and bitterly. The grief now became
a wail; and were it not for the presence of Con, who, however, could
scarcely maintain a firm voice himself, the sorrow-worn mother and her
unhappy daughters would have scarcely known when to cease.

“Mother dear!” he exclaimed--“what use is in this? You began with givin’
us a good advice, an’ you ended with settin’ us a bad example! Oh,
mother, darlin’, forgive me the word--never, never since we remember
anything, did you ever set us a bad example.”

“Con dear, I bore up as long as I could,” she replied, wiping her eye;
“but you know, after all, nature’s nature, an’ will have its way. You
know, too, that this is the first tear I shed, since he left us.”

“I know,” replied her son, laying her careworn cheek over upon his
bosom, “that you are the best mother that ever breathed, an’ that I
would lay down my life to save your heart from bein’ crushed, as it is,
an’ as it has been.”

She felt a few warm tears fall upon her face as he spoke; and the only
reply she made was, to press him affectionately to her heart.

“God’s merciful, if we’re obedient,” she added, in a few moments; “don’t
you remember, that when Abraham was commanded to kill his only son, he
was ready to obey God, and do it; and don’t you remember that it
wasn’t until his very hand was raised, with the knife in it, that God
interfered. Whisht,” she continued, “I hear a step--who is it? Oh, poor
Tom!”

The poor young man entered as she spoke; and after looking about him for
some time, placed himself in the arm chair.

“Tom, darlin’,” said his sister Peggy, “don’t sit in that--that’s our
poor father’s chair; an’ until he sits in it again, none of us ever
will.”

“Nobody has sich a right to sit in it as I have,” he replied, “I’m a
murdherer.”

His words, his wild figure, and the manner in which he uttered them,
filled them with alarm and horror.

“Tom, dear,” said his brother, approaching him, “why do you speak that
way?--you’re not a murdherer!”

“I am!” he replied; “but I haven’t done wid the Sullivans yet, for what
they’re goin’ to do--ha, ha, ha!--oh, no. It’s all planned; an’ they’ll
suffer, never doubt it.”

“Tom,” said Mary, who began to fear that he might, in some wild
paroxysm, have taken the life of the unfortunate miser, or of some one
else; “if you murdhered any one, who was it?”

“Who was it?” he replied; “if you go up to Curraghbeg churchyard, you’ll
find her there; the child’s wid her--but I didn’t murdher the child, did
I?”

On finding that he alluded only to the unfortunate Peggy Murtagh, they
recovered from the shock into which his words had thrown them. Tom,
however, appeared exceedingly exhausted and feeble, as was evident from
his inability to keep himself awake. His head gradually sank upon his
breast, and in a few minutes he fell into a slumber. “I’ll put him to
bed,” said Con; “help me to raise him.”

They lifted him up, and a melancholy sight it was to see that face,
which had once been such a noble specimen of manly beauty, now shrunk
away into an expression of gaunt and haggard wildness, that was painful
to contemplate. His sisters could not restrain their tears, on looking
at the wreck that was before them; and his mother, with a voice of deep
anguish, exclaimed--

“My brave, my beautiful boy, what, oh, what has become of you? Oh,
Tom, Tom,” she added--“maybe it’s well for you that you don’t know the
breakin’ hearts that’s about you this night--or the bitter fate that’s
over him that loved you so well.”

As they turned him about, to take off his cravat, he suddenly raised his
head, and looking about him, asked--

“Where’s my father gone?--I see you all about me but him--where’s my
fath--”

Ere the words were pronounced, however, he was once more asleep, and
free for a time from the wild and moody malady which oppressed him.

Such was the night, and such were the circumstances and feelings that
ushered in the fearful day of Condy Dalton’s trial.



CHAPTER XXIX. -- A Picture of the Present--Sarah Breaks her Word.


The gray of a cold frosty morning had begun to dawn, and the angry
red of the eastern sky gradually to change into that dim but darkening
aspect which marks a coming tempest of snow, when the parish priest,
the Rev. Father Hanratty, accompanied by Nelly M’Gowan, passed along the
Ballynafail road, on their way to the Grange, for the purpose of having
a communication with Charley Hanlon. It would, indeed, be impossible
to describe a morning more strongly marked than the one in question,
by that cold and shivering impression of utter misery which it is
calculated to leave on any mind, especially when associated with the
sufferings of our people. The breeze was keen and so cutting, that
one felt as if that part of the person exposed to it had undergone the
process of excoriation, and when a stronger blast than usual swept over
the naked and desolate-looking fields, its influence actually benumbed
the joints, and penetrated the whole system with a sensation that made
one imagine the very marrow within the bones was frozen.

They had not proceeded far beyond the miserable shed where Sarah, in the
rapid prostration of typhus, had been forced to take shelter, when, in
passing a wretched cabin by the roadside, which, from its open door and
ruinous windows, had all the appearance of being uninhabited, they heard
the moans of some unhappy individual within, accompanied, as it were,
with something like the low feeble wail of an infant.

“Ah,” said the worthy priest, “this, I fear, is another of those awful
cases of desertion and death that are too common in this terrible and
scourging visitation. We must not pass here without seeing what is the
matther, and rendering such assistance as we can.”

“Wid the help o’ God, my foot won’t cross the threshel,” replied
Nelly--“I know it’s the sickness--God keep it from us!--an’ I won’t put
myself in the way o’ it.”

“Don’t profain the name of the Almighty, you wretched woman,” replied
the priest, alighting from his horse; “it is always His will and wish,
that in such trials as these you should do whatever you can for your
suffering fellow-creatures.”

“But if I should catch it,” the other replied, “what ‘ud become o’ me?
mightn’t I be as bad as they are in there; an’ maybe in the same place,
too; an’ God knows I’m not fit to die.”

“Stay where you are,” said the priest, “until I enter the house, and if
your assistance should be necessary, I shall command you to come in.”

“Well, if you ordher me,” replied the superstitious creature, “that
changes the case. I’ll be then undher obadience to my clargy.”

“If you had better observed the precepts of your religion, and the
injunctions of your clergy, wretched woman, you would not be the vile
creature you are to-day,” he replied, as he hooked his horse’s bridle
upon a staple in the door-post, and entered the cabin.

“Oh, merciful father, support me!” he exclaimed, “what a sight is here!
Come in at once,” he added, addressing himself to Nelly; “and if you
have a woman’s heart within you, aid me in trying what can be done.”

Awed by his words, but with timidity and reluctance, she approached the
scene of appalling misery which there lay before them. But how shall we
describe it? The cabin in which they stood had been evidently for some
time deserted, a proof that its former humble inmates had been all swept
off by typhus; for in these peculiar and not uncommon cases, no other
family would occupy the house thus left desolate, so that the cause
of its desertion was easily understood. The floor was strewed in some
places with little stopples of rotten thatch, evidently blown in by the
wind of the previous night; the cheerless fire-place was covered with
clots of soot, and the floor was all spattered over with the black
shining moisture called soot-drops, which want of heat and habitation
caused to fall from the roof. The cold, strong blast, too, from time
to time, rushed in with wild moans of desolation, that rose and fell in
almost supernatural tones, and swept the dead ashes and soot from the
fireplace, and the rotten thatch from the floor, in little eddies that
spun about until they had got into some nook or corner where the fiercer
strength of the blast could not reach them. Stretched out in this
wretched and abandoned hut, lay before the good priest and his
companion, a group of misery, consisting of both the dying and the
dead--to wit, a mother and her three children. Over in the corner,
on the right hand side of the fire-place, the unhappy and perishing
creature lay, divided, or rather torn asunder, as it were, by the rival
claims of affection. Lying close to her cold and shivering breast was an
infant of about six months old, striving feebly, from time to time, to
draw from that natural source of affection the sustenance which had been
dried up by chilling misery and want. Beside her, on the left, lay
a boy--a pale, emaciated boy--about eight years old, silent and
motionless, with the exception that, ever and anon, he turned round his
heavy blue eyes as if to ask some comfort or aid, or even some notice
from his unfortunate mother, who, as if conscious of these affectionate
supplications, pressed his wan cheek tenderly with her fingers, to
intimate to him, that as far as she could, she responded to, and
acknowledged these last entreaties of the heart; whilst, again, she
felt her affections called upon by the apparently dying struggles of
the infant that was, in reality, fast perishing at the now-exhausted
fountain of its life. Between these two claimants was the breaking heart
of the woeful mother divided, but the alternations of her love seemed
now almost wrought up to the last terrible agonies of mere animal
instinct, when the sufferings are strong in proportion to that debility
of reason which supervenes in such deaths as arise from famine, or under
those feelings of indescribable torture which tore her affection, as
it were, to pieces, and paralyzed her higher powers of moral suffering.
Beyond the infant again, and next the wall, lay a girl, it might be
about eleven, stretched, as if in sleep, and apparently in a state of
composure that struck one forcibly, when contrasted, from its utter
stillness, with the yet living agonies by which she was surrounded. It
was evident, from the decency with which the girl’s thin scanty covering
was arranged, and the emaciated arms placed by her side, that the poor
parent had endeavored, as well as she could, to lay her out; and, oh,
great God! what a task for a mother, and under what circumstances must
it have been performed! There, however, did the corpse of this fair and
unhappy child lie; her light and silken locks blown upon her still and
death-like features by the ruffian blast, and the complacency which had
evidently characterized her countenance when in life, now stamped by
death, with the sharp and wan expression of misery and the grave. Thus
surrounded lay the dying mother, and it was not until the priest had
taken in, at more than one view, the whole terrors of this awful scene,
that he had time to let his eyes rest upon her countenance and person.
When he did, however, the history, though a fearful one, was, in her
case, as indeed in too many, legible at a glance, and may be comprised
in one word--starvation.

Father Hanratty was a firm minded man, with a somewhat rough manner, but
a heart natural and warm. After looking upon her face for a few moments,
he clasped, his hands closely together, and turning up his eyes to
Heaven, he exclaimed:

“Great God, guide and support me in this trying scene!”

And, indeed, it is not to be wondered at that he uttered such an
exclamation. There lay in the woman’s eyes--between her knit and painful
eye-brows, over her shrunk upper forehead, upon her sharp cheek-bones,
and along the ridge of her thin, wasted nose--there lay upon her
skeleton arms, pointed elbows, and long-jointed fingers, a frightful
expression, at once uniform and varied, that spoke of gaunt and yellow
famine in all its most hideous horrors. Her eyeballs protruded even
to sharpness, and as she glared about her with a half conscious and
half-instinctive look, there seemed a fierce demand in her eye that
would have been painful, were it not that it was occasionally tamed down
into something mournful and imploring, by a recollection of the helpless
beings that were about her. Stripped, as she then was, of all that
civilized society presents to a human being on the bed of death--without
friends, aid of any kind, comfort, sympathy, or the consolations of
religion--she might be truly said to have sunk to the mere condition of
animal life--whose uncontrollable impulses had thus left their startling
and savage impress upon her countenance, unless, as we have said, when
the faint dawn of consciousness threw a softer and more human light into
her wild features.

“In the name and in the spirit of God’s mercy,” asked the priest, “if
you have the use of your tongue or voice, tell me what the matter is
with you or your children? Is it sickness or starvation?”

The sound of a human voice appeared to arrest her attention, and rouse
her a little. She paused, as it were, from her sufferings, and looked
first at the priest, and then at his companion--but she spoke not. He
then repeated the question, and after a little delay he saw that her
lips moved.

“She is striving to speak,” said he, “but cannot. I will stoop to her.”

He repeated the question a third time, and, stooping, so as to bring
his ear near her mouth, he could catch, expressed very feebly and
indistinctly, the word--hunger. She then made an effort, and bent down
her mouth to the infant which now lay still at her breast. She felt for
its little heart, she felt its little lips--but they were now chill
and motionless; its little hands ceased to gather any longer around her
breast; it was cold--it was breathless--it was dead! Her countenance
now underwent a singular and touching change--a kind of solemn joy--a
sorrowful serenity was diffused over it. She seemed to remember their
position, and was in the act, after having raised her eyes to heaven,
of putting round her hand to feel for the boy who lay on the other side,
when she was seized with a short and rather feeble spasm, and laying
down her head in its original position between her children, she was
at last freed from life and all the sufferings which its gloomy lot had
inflicted upon her and those whom she loved.

The priest, seeing that she was dead, offered up a short but earnest
prayer for the repose of her soul, after which he turned his attention
to the boy.

“The question now is,” he observed to his companion, “can we save this
poor, but interesting child?”

“I hardly think it possible,” she replied; “doesn’t your reverence see
that death’s workin’ at him--and an’ aisey job he’ll have of the poor
thing now.”

“Hunger and cold have here done awful work,” said Father Hanratty, “as
they have and will in many other conditions similar to this. I shall
mount my horse, and if you lift the poor child up, I will wrap him as
well as I can in my great coat,”--which, by the way, he stripped off
him as he spoke. He then folded it round the boy, and putting him into
Nelly’s arms, was about to leave the cabin, when the child, looking
round him for a moment, and then upon his mother, made a faint struggle
to get back.

“What is it, asthore?” asked the woman; “what is it you want?”

“Lave me wid my mother,” he said; “let me go to her; my poor father’s
dead, an’ left us--oh! let me stay with her.”

The poor boy’s voice was so low and feeble, that it was with difficulty
she heard the words, which she repeated to the priest.

“Dear child,” said the latter, “we are bringing you to where you will
get food and drink, and a warm bed to go to, and you will get better, I
hope.”

And as he took the helpless and innocent sufferer into his arms, after
having fixed himself in the saddle, the tears of strong compassion ran
down his cheeks.

“He is as light as a feather, poor thing,” exclaimed the kind-hearted
man; “but I trust in heaven we may save him yet.”

And they immediately hurried onward to the next house, which happened to
be that of our friend Jerry Sullivan, to the care of whose humane and.
affectionate family they consigned him.

We cannot dwell here upon that which every reader can anticipate; it is
enough to say that the boy with care recovered, and that his unfortunate
mother with her two children received an humble grave in the nearest
churchyard, beyond the reach of the storms and miseries of life forever.

On reaching the Grange, or rather the house now occupied by widow
Hanlon, the priest having sent for Charley, into whose confidence he had
for some time been admitted, had a private conference, of considerable
length, with him and the pedlar; after which, Nelly was called in, as it
would seem, to make some disclosure connected with the subject they
were discussing. A deep gloom, however, rested upon both Hanlon and
the pedlar; and it was sufficiently evident that whatever the import of
Nelly M’Gowan’s communication may have been, it was not of so cheering
a nature as to compensate for the absence of widow Hanlon, and the party
for which she had been sent. Father Hanratty having left them, they took
an early breakfast, and proceeded to Ballynafail--which we choose to
designate as the assize town--in order to watch, with disappointed
and heavy hearts, the trial of Condy Dalton, in whose fate they felt a
deeper interest than the reader might suppose.

All the parties attended, the Prophet among the rest; and it might
have been observed, that his countenance was marked by an expression of
peculiar determination. His brow was, if possible, darker than
usual; his eye was quicker and more circumspect, but his complexion,
notwithstanding this, was not merely pale, but absolutely white as
ashes. The morning came, however, and the assies were opened with the
usual formalities. The judge’s charge to the grand jury, in consequence
of the famine outrages which had taken place to such an extent, was
unusually long; nor was the “King against Dalton,” for the murder
of Sullivan, left without due advice and comment. In this way
a considerable portion of the day passed. At length a trial for
horse-stealing came on, but closed too late to allow them to think
of commencing any other case during that day; and, as a natural
consequence, that of Condy Dalton was postponed until the next morning.

It is an impressive thing; and fills the mind with a reverend sense of
the wisdom manifested by an over-ruling Providence, to reflect upon the
wondrous manner in which the influence of slight incidents is made to
frustrate the subtlest designs of human ingenuity, and vindicate the
justice of the Almighty in the eyes of his creatures, sometimes for the
reward of the just, and as often for the punishment of the guilty. Had
the trial of Dalton, for instance, gone on, as had been anticipated,
during the first day, it is impossible to say how many of the characters
in our humble drama might have grievously suffered or escaped in
consequence. At all events it is not likely that the following dialogue
would have ever taken place, or been made instrumental in working out
purposes, and defeating plans, with which the reader, if he is not
already, will very soon be made acquainted.

Donnel Dhu had returned from the assizes, and was sitting, as usual,
poring over the fire, when he asked the old woman who nursed Sarahif
there had been any persons inquiring for him since nightfall.

“Three or four,” she replied; “but I said you hadn’t come home yet; an’
divil a one o’ them but was all on the same tune, an’ bid me to tell you
that it was a safe night.”

“Well, I hope it is, Biddy,” he replied, “but not so safe,” he added to
himself, “as I could wish it to be. How is Sarah?”

“She’s better,” replied the woman, “an’ was up to-day for an hour or
two; but still she’s poorly, and I think her brain isn’t right yet.”

“Very likely it isn’t,” said the Prophet. “But, Biddy, when were you at
Shanco?”

“Not this week past.”

“Well, then, if you like to slip over for an hour or so now, you may,
an’ I’ll take care of Sarah till you come back; only don’t be longer.”

“Long life to you, Donnel; throth an’ I want to go, if it was only to
set the little matthers right for them poor orphans, my grandchildre.”

“Well, then, go,” he replied; “but don’t be more than an hour away,
mind. I’ll take care of Sarah for you till you come back.”

At this moment a tap came to the door, and Donnel, on hearing it, went
out, and in a minute or two returned again, saying--

“Hurry, Biddy; make haste, if you wish to go at all; but remember not to
be more than an hour away.”

The old creature accordingly threw her cloak about her, and made the
best of her way to see her grandchildren, both of whose parents had been
swept away by the first deadly ravages of the typhus fever.

She had not been long gone, when another tap was given, and Donnel, on
opening the door, said--

“You may come in now; she’s off to Shanco. I didn’t think it safe that
she should see us together on this night, at all events. Sit down. This
girl’s illness has nearly spoiled all; however, we must only do the best
we can. Thank God the night’s dark, that’s one comfort.”

“If we could a’ had Dalton found guilty,” replied Body, “all would be
well over this night, an’ we might be on our way out o’ this to America;
but what ‘ud you do wid Sarah if we had? Sure she wouldn’t be able to
travel, nor she won’t, I doubt, as it is.”

“Sarah,” replied the Prophet, who suspected the object of the question,
“is well fit to take care of herself. We must only go without her, if
she’s not able to come the day afther to-morrow. Where are the boys _for
the Grange?_”

“Undher shelter of the Grey Stone, waitin’ to start.”

“Well, then, as it it,” said Donnel, “they know their business, at any
rate. The Grange folk don’t expect them this week to come, you think?”

Rody looked at the Prophet very keenly, as he thought of the
conversation that took place between himself and Charley Hanlon, and
which, upon an explanation with Donnel, he had detailed. The fellow,
however, as we said, was both cowardly and suspicious, and took it into
his head that his friend might feel disposed to play him a trick, by
sending him to conduct the burglary, of which Hanlon had spoken with
such startling confidence--a piece of cowardice which, indeed, was
completely gratuitous and unfounded on his part; the truth being, that
it was the Prophet’s interest, above all things, to keep Rody out of
danger, both for that worthy individual’s sake and his own. Rody, We
say, looked at him; and of a certainty it must be admitted, that the
physiognomy of our friend, the Seer, during that whole day, was one
from which no very high opinion of his integrity or good faith could be
drawn.

“It’s a very sthrange thing,” replied Rody, in a tone of thought and
reflection, “how Charley Hanlon came to know of this matther at all.”

“He never heard a word of it,” replied Donnel, “barrin’ from yourself.”

“From me!” replied Rody, indignantly; “what do you mane by that?”

“Why, when you went to sound him,” said Donnel, “you let too much out;
and Charley was too cute not to see what you wor at.”

“All _feathalagh_ an’ nonsense,” replied Eody, who, by the way,
entertained a very high opinion of his own sagacity; “no mortal could
suspect that there was a plot to rob the house from what I said; but
hould,” he added, slapping his knee, as if he had made a discovery, “_ma
chorp an’ dioul_, but I have it all.”

“What is it?” said the Prophet, calmly.

“You tould the matther to Sarah, an’ she, by coorse, tould it to Charley
Hanlon, that she tells everything to.”

“No such thing,” replied the other. “Sarah knows nothing about the
robbery that’s to go on to-night at the Grange, but she did about the
plan upon Mave Sullivan, and promised to help us in it, as I tould you
before.”


[Illustration: PAGE 913-- I’ll have nothing to do with this robbery]


“Well, at any rate,” replied Duncan, “I’ll have nothing to do with this
robbery--devil a thing; but I’ll make a bargain wid you--if you manage
the Grange business, I’ll lend a hand in Mave Sullivan’s affair.”

The Prophet looked at him, fastening his dark piercing eyes-upon his
face--

“I see,” he proceeded, “you’re suspicious or you’re cowardly, or maybe
both; but to make you feel that I’m neither the one nor the other, and
that you have no raison to be so either, I say I’ll take you at your
word. Do you manage Mave Sullivan’s business, and I’ll see what can be
done with the other. An’ listen to me now, it’s our business, in case
of a discovery of the robbery, to have Masther Dick’s neck as far in the
noose for Mave’s affair as ours may be for the other thing; an’ for the
same raison you needn’t care how far you drive him. He doesn’t wish to
have violence; but do you take care that there will be violence,
an’ then maybe we may manage him if there’s a discovery in the other
affair.”

“Donnel, you’re a great headpiece--the divil’s not so deep as you are;
but as the most of them all is strangers, an’ they say there’s two girls
in Sullivan’s instead o’ one, how will the strange boys know the right
one?”

“If it goes to that,” said the Prophet, “you’ll know her by the clipped
head. The minute they seize upon the girl with the clipped head, let
them make sure of her. Poor foolish Tom Dalton, who knows nothing about
our scheme, thinks the visit is merely to frighten the Sullivans;
but when you get the girl, let her be brought to the crossroads of
Tulnavert, where Masther Dick will have a chaise waitin’ for her, an’
wanst she’s with him your care’s over. In the meantime, while he’s
waitin’ there, I an’ the others will see what can be done at the
Grange.”

“But tell me, Donnel; you don’t intend, surely, to leave poor Sarah
behind us?”

“Eh? Sarah?” returned the Prophet.

“Ay; bekaise you said so awhile a-gone.”

“I know I said so awhile ago; but regardin’ Sarah, Rody, she’s the only
livin’ thing on this earth that I care about. I have hardened my heart,
thank God, against all the world but herself; an’ although I have never
much showed it to her, an’ although I have neglected her, an’ sometimes
thought I hated her for her mother’s sake--well, no matther--she’s
the only thing I love or care about for all that. Oh! no--go wid-out
Sarah--come weal come woe--we must not.”

“Bekaise,” continued Rody, “when we’re all safe, an’ out o’ the raich o’
danger, I have a thing to say to you about Sarah.”

“Very well, Rody,” said the Prophet, with a grim but bitter smile,
“it’ll be time enough then. Now, go and manage these fellows, an’ see
you do things as they ought to be done.”

“She’s fond o’ Charley Hanlon, to my own knowledge.”

“Who is?”

“Sarah, an’ between you an’ me, it’s not a Brinoge like him that’s fit
for her. She’s a, hasty and an uncertain kind of a girl--:a good dale
wild or so--an’ it isn’t, as I said, the! likes o’ that chap that ‘id
answer her, but a steady, experienced, sober--”

“Honest man, Rody. Well, I’m not in a laughin’ humor, now; be off, an’
see that you do yourself an’ us all credit.”

When he was gone, the Prophet drew a long breath--one, however, from its
depth, evidently indicative of anything but ease of mind. He then rose,
and was preparing to go out, when Sarah, who had only laid herself on
the bed, without undressing, got up, and approaching him, said, in a
voice tremulous with weakness:

“Father, I have heard every word you and Rody said.”

“Well,” replied her father, looking at her, “I supposed as much. I made
no secret of anything; however, keep to your bed--you’re--”

“Father, I have changed my mind; you have neither my heart nor wish in
anything you’re bent on this night.”

“Changed your mind!” replied the Prophet, bitterly. “Oh! you’re a real
woman, I suppose, like your mother; you’ll drive some unfortunate man
to hate the world an all that’s in it yet?”

“Father, I care as little about the world as you do; but still never
will I lay myself out to do anything that’s wrong.”

“You promised to assist us then in Mave Sullivan’s business, for all
that,” he replied. “You can break your word, too. Ah! real woman again.”

“Sooner than keep that promise, father, now, I would willingly let the
last dhrop of blood out o’ my heart--my unhappy heart--Father, you’re
provin’ yourself to be what I can’t name. Listen to me--you’re on the
brink o’ destruction. Stop in time, an’ fly, for there’s a fate over
you. I dremt since I lay down--not more than a couple of hours ago--that
I saw the Tobacco Box you were lookin’ for, in the hands of--”

“Don’t bother or vex me with your d--d nonsense about dhrames,” he
replied, in a loud and excited voice. “The curse o’ Heaven on all
dhrames, an’ every stuff o’ the kind. Go to bed.”

He slapped the door violently after him as he spoke, and left her to her
own meditations.



CHAPTER XXX. -- Self-sacrifice--Villany


Time passes now as it did on the night recorded in the preceding
chapter. About the hour of two o’clock, on the same night, a chaise was
standing at the cross roads of Tulnavert, in which a gentleman, a little
but not much the worse of liquor, sat in a mood redolent of anything but
patience. Many ejaculations did he utter, and some oaths, in consequence
of the delay of certain parties whom he expected to meet there. At
length the noise of many feet was heard, and in the course of a few
minutes a body of men advanced in the darkness, one of whom approached
the chaise, and asked--“Is that Masther Dick?”

“Master Dick, sirrah: no, it’s not.”

“Then there must be some mistake,” replied the fellow, who was a
stranger; “and as it’s a runaway match, by gorra, it would never do to
give the girl to the wrong person. It was Masther Dick that the Prophet
desired us to inquire for.”

“There is a mistake, my friend; there is--my name, my good fellow,
happens to be Master Richard, or rather Mister Richard. In all other
respects, everything is right. I expect a lady; and I am the gentleman,
but not Master Dick, though--Richard is the correct reading.”

“Then, sir,” replied the fellow, “here she is;” and whilst speaking,
a horseman, bearing a female before him, came forward, and in a few
minutes she was transferred without any apparent resistance, to the
inside of the vehicle which awaited her. This vehicle we shall now
follow.

The night, as we said, was dark, but it was also cold and stormy. The
driver, who had received his instructions, proceeded in the direction of
the Grange; and we only I say so generally, because so many cross roads
branched off from that which they took, that it was impossible to say
when or where; Master or Mister Richard may have intended to stop. In
the meantime, that enterprising and gallant young gentleman commenced a
dialogue, somewhat as follows:--

“My dear Miss Sullivan, I must be satisfied that these fellows have
conducted this business with all due respect to your feelings, I hope
they have not done anything to insult you.”

“I am very weak,” replied the lady; “you needn’t expect me to spake
much, for I’m not able. I only wish I was in Heaven, or anywhere out of
this world.”

“You speak as if you had been agitated or frightened; but compose
yourself, you are now under my protection at last, and you shall want
for nothing that can contribute to your ease and comfort. Upon my
honor--upon my sacred honor, I say--I would not have caused you
even this annoyance, were it not that you yourself expressed a
willingness--very natural, indeed, considering our affection--to meet me
here to-night.”

“Who tould you that I was willin’ to meet you?”

“Who? why who but our mutual friend, the Black Prophet; and by the way,
he is to meet us at the Grey Stone, by and by.”

“He tould you false, then,” replied his companion, feebly.

“Why,” asked Henderson, “are you not here with your own consent?”

“I am--oh, indeed, I am,--it’s altogether my own act that brings me
here--my own act--an’ I thank God, that I had strength for it.”

“Admirable girl!--that is just what I have been led to expect from you,
and you shall not regret it; I have, as I said, everything provided that
can make you happy.”

“Happy!--I can’t bear this, sir; I’m desavin’ you. I’m not what you
think me.”

“You are ill, I fear, my dear Miss Sullivan; the bustle and disturbance
have agitated you too much, and you are ill.”

“You are speaking truth. I am very ill; but I’ll soon be better--I’ll
soon be better. She feared nothing from me,” added she, in a low
soliloquy; “an’ could I let her outdo mo in generosity and kindness. Is
this fire? Is there fire in the coach?” she asked, in a loud voice; “or
is it lighthnin’? Oh, my head, my head; but it will soon be over.”

“Compose yourself, I entreat of you, my dearest girl. What! good
Heavens, how is this? You have not been ill for any time? Your
hand--pardon me; you need not withdraw it so hastily--is quite burning
and fleshless. What is wrong?”

“Everything, sir, is wrong, unless that I am here, an’ that is as it
ought to be. Ha, ha!”

“Good, my dearest girl--that consoles me again. Upon my honor, the old
Prophet shall not lose by this; on the contrary, I shall keep my word
like a prince, and at the Grey Stone shall he pocket, ere half an hour,
the reward of his allegiance to his liege lord. I have, for a long time,
had my eye on you, Miss Sullivan, an’ when the Prophet assured me that
you had discarded Dalton for my sake, I could scarcely credit him, until
you confirmed the delightful fact, by transmitting me a tress of your
beautiful hair.”

His companion made no reply to this, and the chaise went on for some
minutes without any further discourse. Henderson, at length, ventured to
put over his hand towards the corner in which his companion sat; but it
no sooner came in contact with her person, than he felt her shrinking,
as it were, from his very touch. With his usual complacent confidence,
however, in his own powers of attraction and strongly impressed,
besides, with a belief in his knowledge of the sex, he at once imputed
all this to caprice on the behalf of Mave, or rather to that assumption
of extreme delicacy, which is often resorted to, and overacted, when the
truthful and modest principle from which it should originate has ceased
to exist.

“Well, my dear girl,” he proceeded, “I grant that all this is natural
enough--quite so--I know the step you have taken shows great strength
of character; for indeed it requires a very high degree of moral
courage and virtue in you, to set society and the whole world at perfect
defiance, for my sake; but, my dearest girl, don’t be cast down--you are
not alone in this heroic sacrifice; not at all, believe me. You are not
the first who has made it for me; neither, I trust, shall you be the
last. This I say, of course, to encourage you, because I see that
the step you have taken has affected you very much, as is natural it
should.”

A low moan, apparently of great pain, was the only reply Henderson
received to this eloquent effort at consolation. The carriage again
rolled onward in silence, and nothing could be heard but the sweep
of the storm without--for it blew violently--and deep breathings, or
occasional moanings, from his companion within. They drove, it might be,
for a quarter of an hour, in this way, when Henderson felt his companion
start, and the next moment her hand was placed upon his arm.

“Ha! ha! my dearest,” thought he, “I knew, notwithstanding all your
beautiful startings and fencings, that matters would come to this. There
is nothing, after all, like leaving you to yourselves a little, and you
are sure to come round. My dear Miss Sullivan,” he added, aloud, “be
composed--say but what it is you wish, and if a man can accomplish it,
it must be complied with, or procured for you.”

“Then,” said she, “if you are a human being, let me know when we come to
the Grey Stone.”

“Undoubtedly, I shall. The grim old Prophet promised to meet us
there--and, for a reason I have, I know he will keep his word. We shall
be there in less than a quarter of an hour. But, my precious creature,
now that you understand how we are placed with relation to each other, I
think you might not, and ought not, object to allowing me to support you
after the fatigue and agitation of the night--hem! Do repose your head
upon my bosom, like a pretty, trembling, agitated dear, as you are.”

“Hould away!” exclaimed his companion; “don’t dare to lay a hand upon
me. If your life is worth anything--an’ it’s not worth much--keep your
distance. You’ll find your mistake soon. I didn’t put myself in your
power without the manes of defendin’ myself an’ punishin’ you, if you
should desarve it.”

“Beautiful caprice! But, my dearest girl, I can understand it all--it
is well done; and I know, besides, that a little hysterics will be
necessary in their proper place; but for that you must wait till we get
to our destination; and then you will be most charmingly affected with
a fit--a delightful, sweet, soft, sobbing fit--which will render it
necessary for me to soothe and console you; to wipe your lovely eyes;
and then, you know, to kiss your delicious lips. All this, my darling
girl, will happen as a natural consequence, and in due time every thing
will be well.”

There was no reply given to this; but the moaning was deeper, and
apparently more indicative of pain and distress than before. A third
silence ensued, during which they arrived at the Grey Stone, of whose
proximity the driver had received orders to give them intimation.

“Hallo!” exclaimed Henderson, “what’s the matter? Why do you stop, my
good fellow?”

“We are at the Grey Stone, your honor,” replied the man.

“Oh, very well; pull up a moment,” he added. “My dear Miss Sullivan, we
are at the Grey Stone now,” said he, addressing her.

She moaned again, and started. “Whist,” said she; “I don’t hear his
voice.”

At this moment a man approached the driver, and desired him to let him
know that a person wished to speak with him.

The female in the carriage no sooner heard the voice, even although the
words were uttered in whispers, than she called out--

“Father, come to me--help me home--I’m dyin’! You’ve been desaved, Mr.
Henderson,” she added. “It wasn’t Mave Sullivan, but the Prophet’s own
daughter, you took away. Blessed be God, I’ve saved her that disgrace.
Father, help me home. I won’t be long a throuble to you now.”

“What’s this!” exclaimed Henderson. “Are you not Miss Sullivan?”

“Am I in a dhrame?” said the Prophet, approaching the door of the
chaise. “Surely--now--what is it? It’s my daughter’s voice! Is that
Sarah that I left in her bed of typhus faver this night? Or, am I in a
dhrame still, I say? Sarah, is it you? Spake.”

“It is me, father; help me home. It will be your last throuble with me,
I think--at laste, I hope so--oh, I hope so!”

“Who talks about typhus fever?” asked Henderson, starting out of the
chaise with alarm. “What means this? Explain yourself.”

“I can no more explain it,” replied the Prophet, “than you can. I left
my daughter lyin’ in bed of typhus faver, not more than three or four
hours ago; an’ if I’m to believe my ears, I find her in the carriage
with you now!”

“I’m here,” she replied; “help me out.”

“Oh, I see it all now,” observed Henderson, in a fit of passion,
aggravated by the bitterness of his disappointment--“I see your trick;
an’ so, you old scoundrel, you thought to impose your termagant daughter
upon me instead of Miss Sullivan, and she reeking with typhus fever,
too, by your own account. For this piece of villany I shall settle with
you, however, never fear. Typhus fever! Good God!--and I so dreadfully
afraid of it all along, that I couldn’t bear to look near a house in
which it was, nor approach any person even recovering out of it. Driver,
you may leave the girl at home. As for me, I shall not enter your chaise
again, contaminated, as it probably is, with that dreadful complaint,
that is carrying off half the country. Call to the Grange in the
morning, an’ you shall be paid. Good-night, you prophetical old
impostor. I shall mark you for this piece of villany; you may rest
assured of that. A pretty trudge I shall have to the Grange, such a vile
and tempestuous night; but you shall suffer for it, I say again.”

Donnel Dhu was not merely disappointed at finding Sarah in such a
situation; he was literally stupefied with amazement, and could scarcely
believe the circumstances to be real. It had been agreed between him and
Henderson, that should the latter succeed in fetching Mave Sullivan as
far as the Grey Stone, he (the Prophet) should be considered to have
fulfilled the conditions of the compact entered into between them, and
the wages of his iniquity were to have been paid to him on that spot. It
is unnecessary to say, therefore, that his disappointment and indignation
were fully equal to those of Henderson himself.

“Where am I to go now?” asked the driver.

“To hell!” replied the Prophet, “an you may bring your fare with you.”

“You must take the reins yourself, then,” replied the man, “for I don’t
know the way.”

“Drive across the river, here then,” continued the other, “and up the
little road to the cottage on the right; yes, to the right--till we get
that--that--I can’t find words to name her--in the house.”

A few minutes brought them to the door, and poor Sarah found herself
once more in her own cabin, but in such a state as neutralized most of
her father’s resentment. When the driver had gone, Donnel came in again,
and was about to wreak upon her one of those fits of impetuous fury,
in which, it was true, he seldom indulged, but which, when wrought to a
high state of passion, were indeed frightful.

“Now,” he began, “in the name of all that’s”--he paused, however, for
on looking closely at her, there appeared something in her aspect so
utterly subversive of resentment, that he felt himself disarmed at once.
Her face was as pale as his own, but the expression of it was so chaste,
so mournful, and yet so beautiful, that his tongue refused its office.

“Sarah,” said he, “what is the matter with, you?--account for all
this--I don’t understand it.”

She rose with great difficulty, and, tottering over towards him, laid
her head upon his bosom, and looking up with a smile of melancholy
tenderness into his face, burst into tears.

“Father,” said she, “it is not worth your while to be angry with Sarah
now. I heard words from your lips this night that would make me forgive
you a thousand crimes. I heard you say that you loved me--loved me
better than anything else in this world. I’m glad I know it, for that
will be all the consolation I will have on my bed of death--an’ there it
is, father,” she said, pointing to that which she always occupied; “help
me over to it now, for I feel that I will never rise from it more.”

Her father spoke not, but assisted her to the bed from which the old
nurse, who had fallen asleep in it, now rose. He then went into the open
air for a few minutes, but soon returned, and going over to the bedside
where she lay, he looked upon her long and earnestly.

“Father,” said she, “I only did my duty this night. I knew, indeed, I
would never recover it--but then she risked her life for me, an’ why
shouldn’t I do as much for her?”

The Prophet still looked upon her, but spoke not a word; his lips were
closely compressed, his hands tightly clasped, and his piercing eyes
almost immovable. Minute after minute thus passed, until nearly half
an hour had elapsed, and Sarah dreadfully exhausted by what she had
undergone, found her eyes beginning to close in an unsettled and
feverish slumber. At length he said, in a tone of voice which breathed
of tenderness itself--

“Sleep, dear Sarah--dear Sarah, sleep.”

She apparently was asleep, but not so as to be altogether unconscious
of his words, for, in spite of illness and fatigue, a sweet and serene
smile stole gently over her pale face, rested on it for a little, and
again, gradually, and with a mournful placidity died away. Her father
sighed deeply, and turning to the bedside, said--

“It is useless to ask her anything this night, Biddy. Can you tell me
what became of her, or how she got out?”

“Oh, the sorra word,” replied the old woman; “I’m sure such a start was
never taken out o’ mortal as I got when I came here, and found her gone.
I searched all the neighborhood, but no use--divil a sowl seen her--so
afther trottin’ here an’ there, an’ up and down, I came in not able to
mark the ground, and laid myself down on the bed, where I fell asleep
till you came back; but where, in the name of all that’s wonderful, was
she?”

Donnel sat down in silence, and the crone saw that he was in no mood
for answering questions, or entering into conversation; she accordingly
clapped herself on her hunkers, and commenced sucking her dudeen,
without at all seeming to expect a reply.

We, however, shall avail ourselves of the historian’s privilege, in
order to acquaint our readers, very briefly, with that, of which
we presume, so far as Sarah is concerned, they can scarcely plead
ignorance. Having heard the conversation between Rody Duncan and her
father, which satisfied her that the plot for taking away Mave Sullivan
was to be executed that very night, Sarah, with her usual energy and
disregard for herself, resolved to make an effort to save her generous
rival, for we must here acquaint our readers, that during the progress
of her convalescence, she had been able to bring to her recollection the
presence of Mave Sullivan in the shed on more than one occasion. She did
not, however, depend upon her own memory or impressions for this,
but made inquiries from her nurse, who, in common with the whole
neighborhood, had heard of Mave’s humanity and attention towards her,
to which it was well known, she owed her life. The generous girl,
therefore, filled with remorse at having, for one moment, contemplated
any act of injury towards Mave, now determined to save her from the
impending danger, or lose her life in the attempt. How she won her way
in such an enfeebled state of health, and on such a night, cannot now be
known; it is sufficient here to say, that she arrived only a few minutes
before the attack was made upon Sullivan’s house, and just in time to
have Mave and her cousin each concealed under a bed. Knowing, however,
that a strict search would have rendered light of some kind necessary,
and enable the ruffians to discover Mave besides, she, at once, threw
herself in their way, under a feigned attempt to escape, and the next
moment three or four voices exclaimed, exultingly, “we have her--the
cropped head--here she is--all’s right--come away; you darlin’, you’ll
be a happy girl before this day week!”

“I hope so,” she replied; “oh, I hope so--bring me away!”

The Prophet’s own adventure was not less disastrous. Rody Duncan’s
sudden withdrawal from the robbery surprised him very much. On seriously
and closely reconsidering the circumstances, it looked suspicious, and
ere a single hour had passed, Donnel felt and impression that, on
that business at least, Rody had betrayed him. Acting upon this
conviction.--for it amounted to that--he soon satisfied himself that the
house was secured against, the possibility of any successful attack upon
it. This he discovered in the village of Grange, when, on inquiring, he
found that most of the young men were gone to sit up all night in the
“big house”. So much being known, any additional information to Donnel
was unnecessary. He accordingly relinquished the enterprise; and
remembering the engagement with young Henderson at the Grey Stone, met
him there, to receive the wages of his iniquity; but with what success,
the reader is already acquainted.

This double failure of his projects, threw the mind of the Prophet into
a train of deep and painful reflection. He began to reflect that his
views of life and society might not, after all, be either the safest
or the best. He looked back over his own past life, and forward to the
future, and he felt as if the shadow of some approaching evil was over
him. He then thought of his daughter, and pictured to himself what she
might have been, had he discharged, as he ought to have done, the
duties of a Christian parent towards her. This, and other recollections,
pressed upon Mm, and his heart was once or twice upon the point of
falling back into the fresh impulses of its early humanity, when the
trial of tomorrow threw him once more into a gloom, that settled him
down into a resentful but unsatisfactory determination to discharge the
duty he had imposed upon himself.



CHAPTER XXXI. -- A Double Trial--Retributive Justice.


With beating and anxious hearts did the family of the Daltons rise upon
the gloomy morning of the old man’s trial. Deep concern prevented them
from eating, or even feeling inclined to eat; but when about to sit down
to their early and sorrowful repast, Mrs. Dalton, looking around her,
asked--

“Where is poor Tom from us this morning?”

“He went out last night,” replied one of his sisters, “but didn’t come
back since.”

“That poor boy,” said his mother, “won’t be long with us; he’s gone
every way--health and strength, and reason. He has no appetite--and a
child has more strength. After this day he must be kept in the house, if
possible, or looked to when he goes out; but indeed I fear that in a
day or two he will not be able to go anywhere. Poor affectionate boy!
he never recovered the death of that unhappy girl, nor ever will; an’ it
would be well for himself that he was removed from this world, in which,
indeed, he’s now not fit to live.”

Little time was lost in the despatch of their brief meal, and they set
out, with the exception of Mary, to be present at the trail of their
aged father.

The court was crowded to excess, as was but natural, for the case had
excited a very deep interest throughout almost the whole country.

At length the judge was seated, and in a few minutes Cornelius Dalton
was put to the bar, charged with the wilful murder of Bartholomew
Sullivan, by striking him on the head with a walking-stick, in the
corner of a field, near a place called the Grey Stone, &c, &c, situate
and being in the barony of, &c, &c.

When the reverend looking old man stood up at the bar, we need scarcely
say that all eyes were immediately turned on him with singular interest.
It was clear, however, that there was an admission of guilt in his very
face, for, instead of appearing with the erect and independent attitude
of conscious innocence, he looked towards the judge and around the court
with an expression of such remorse and sorrow, and his mild blue eye had
in it a feeling so full of humility, resignation and contrition, that
it was impossible to look on his aged figure and almost white hairs with
indifference, or, we should rather say, without sympathy. Indeed, his
case appeared to be one of those in which the stern and unrelenting
decree of human law comes to demand its rights, long after the unhappy
victim has washed away his crime by repentance, and made his peace with
God, a position in connection with conventional offences that is too
often overlooked in the administration of justice and the distribution
of punishment.

It was not without considerable difficulty that they succeeded in
prevailing on him to plead not guilty; which he did at length, but in a
tone of voice that conveyed anything but a conviction of his innocence
to the court, the jury, and those about him.

The first witness called was Jeremiah Sullivan, who deposed that he
was present in one of the Christmas Margamores [Big Market] in the year
1798, when an altercation took place between his late brother Bartle and
the prisoner at the bar, respecting the price of some barley, which the
prisoner had bought from his brother. The prisoner had bought it, he
said, for the sum of thirty-five pounds fifteen shillings, whilst
his brother affirmed that it was only thirty-five pounds thirteen
shillings--upon which they came to blows; his brother, when struck by
the prisoner, having returned the blow, and knocked the prisoner down.
They were then separated by their friends, who interposed, and, as the
cause of the dispute was so trifling, it was proposed that it should be
spent in drink, each contributing one-half. To this both assented, and
the parties having commenced drinking, did not confine themselves to
the amount disputed, but drank on until they became somewhat tipsy, and
were, with difficulty, kept from quarrelling again. The last words he
heard from them that night were, as far as he can remember--“Dalton,”
 said his brother, “you have no more brains than the pillar of a gate.”
 Upon which the other attempted to strike him, and, on being prevented,
he shook his stick at him, and swore that “before he slept he’d know
whether he had brains or not.” Their friends then took them different
ways, he was separated from them, and knows nothing further about what
happened. He never saw his brother alive afterwards. He then deposed to
the finding of his coat and hat, each in a crushed and torn state. The
footmarks in the corner of the field were proved to have been those of
his brother and the prisoner, as the shoes of each exactly fitted them
when tried. He was then asked how it could be possible, as his brother
had altogether disappeared, to know whether his shoes fitted the
foot-prints or not, to which he replied, that one of his shoes was found
on the spot the next morning, and that a second pair, which he had at
home, were also tried, and fitted precisely.

The next witness was Rody Duncan, who deposed that on the night in
question, he was passing on a car, after having sold a load of oats in
the market. On coming to the corner of the field, he saw a man drag or
carry something heavy like a sack, which, on seeing him, Rody, he (the
man,) left hastily inside the ditch, and stooped, as if to avoid being
known. He asked the person what he was about, who replied that, “he
hoped he was no gauger;” by which he understood that he was concerned
in private distillation, and that it might have been malt; an opinion in
which he was confirmed, on hearing the man’s voice, which he knew to be
that of the prisoner, who had been engaged in the poteen work for some
years. One thing struck him, which he remembered afterwards, that
the prisoner had a hat in his hand; and when it was observed in the
cross-examination that the hat might have been his own, he replied that
he did not think it could, as he had his own on his head at the time.
He then asked was that Condy Dalton, and the reply was, “it is,
unfortunately;” upon which he wished him good-night, and drove
homewards. He remembers the night well, as he lived at that time down at
the Long Ridge, and caught a severe illness on his way home, by reason
of a heavy shower that wet him to the skin. He wasn’t able to leave the
house for three months afterwards. It was an unlucky night any way.

Next came the Prophet. It was near daybreak on the morning of the same
night, and he was on his way through Glendhu. He was then desired to
state what it was that brought him through Glendhu at such an hour. He
would tell the truth, as it was safe to do so now--he had been making
United Irishmen that night, and, at all events, he was on his keeping,
for the truth was, he had been reported to government, and there was a
warrant out for him. He was then desired to proceed in his evidence,
and he did so. On his way through Glendhu he came to a very lonely
spot, where he had been obliged to hide, at that time, more than once or
twice, himself. Here, to his surprise, he found the body of a man
lying dead, and he knew it at once to be that of the late Bartholomew
Sullivan; beside it was a grave dug, about two feet deep. He was
astonished and shocked, and knew not what to say; but he felt that
murder had been committed, and he became dreadfully afraid. In his
confusion and alarm he looked about to try if he could see any person
near, when he caught a glimpse of the prisoner, Condy Dalton, crouched
among a clump of black-thorn bushes, with a spade in his hands. It
instantly came into his head that he, the prisoner, on finding himself
discovered, might murder him also; and, in order to prevent the other
from supposing that he had seen him, he shouted out and asked is there
any body near? and hearing no answer, he was glad to get off safe. In
less than an hour he was on his way out of the country, for on coming
within sight of his own house, he saw it surrounded with soldiers, and
he lost no time in going to England, where, in about a month afterwards,
he heard that the prisoner had been hanged for the murder, which was
an untrue account of the affair, as he, the prisoner, had only been
imprisoned for a time, which he supposed led to the report.

When asked why he did not communicate an account of what he had seen to
some one in the neighborhood before he went, he replied, that “at that
hour the whole country was in bed, and when a man is flying for his
life, he is not very anxious to hould conversations with any body.”

On the cross-examination he said, that the reason why he let the matter
rest until now was, that he did not wish to be the means of bringin’
a fellow-creature to an untimely death, especially such a man as the
prisoner, nor to be the means of drawing down disgrace upon his decent
and respectable family. His conscience, however, always kept him uneasy,
and to tell the truth, he had neither peace nor rest for many a long
year, in consequence of concealing his knowledge of the murder, and he
now came forward to free his own mind from what he had suffered by it.
He wished both parties well, and he hoped no one would blame him for
what he was doing, for, indeed, of late, he could not rest in his bed
at night. Many a time the murdhered man appeared to him, and threatened
him, he thought for not disclosing what he knew.

At this moment, there was a slight bustle at that side of the court
where the counsel for the defense sat, which, after a little time,
subsided, and the evidence was about to close, when the latter
gentleman, after having closely cross-examined him to very little
purpose, said:

“So you tell us, that in consequence of your very tender conscience, you
have not, of late, been able to rest in your bed at night?”

“I do.”

“And you say the murdered man appeared to you and threatened you?”

“I do.”

“Which of them?”

“Peter Magennis--what am I sayin’? I mean Bartle Sullivan.”

“Gentlemen of the jury, you will please take down the name of Peter
Magennis--will your lordship also take a note of that? Well,” he
proceeded, “will you tell us what kind of a man this Bartle or
Bartholomew Sullivan was?”

“He was a very remarkable man in appearance; very stout, with a long
face, a slight scar on his chin, and a cast in his eye.”

“Do you remember which of them?”

“Indeed I don’t, an’ it wouldn’t be raison able that I should, afther
sich a distance of time.”

“And, you saw that man murdered?”

“I seen him dead, afther having been murdhered.”

“Very right--I stand corrected. Well, you saw him buried?”

“I didn’t see him buried, but I saw him dead, as I said, an’ the grave
ready for him.”

“Do you think now if he were to rise again from that grave, that you
would know him?”

“Well I’m sure I can’t say. By all accounts the grave makes great
changes, but if it didn’t change him very much entirely, it wouldn’t be
hard to know him again--for, as I said, he was a remarkable man.”

“Well, then, we shall give you an opportunity of refreshing your
memory--here,” he said, addressing himself to some person behind him;
“come forward--get up on the table, and stand face to face with that
man.”

The stranger advanced--pushed over to the corner of the table, and,
mounting it, stood, as he had been directed, confronting the Black
Prophet.

“Whether you seen me dead,” said the stranger, “or whether you seen me
buried, is best known to yourself; all I can say is, that here I am--by
name Bartle Sullivan, alive an’ well, thanks be to the Almighty for it!”

“What is this?” asked the judge, addressing Dalton’s counsel; “who is
this man?”

“My lord,” replied that gentleman, “this is the individual for the
murder of whom, upon the evidence of these two villains, the prisoner
at the bar stands charged. It is a conspiracy as singular as it is
diabolical; but one which, I trust, we shall clear up, by and by.”

“I must confess, I do not see my way through it at present,” returned
the judge; “did not the prisoner at the bar acknowledge his guilt?--had
you not some difficulty in getting him to plead not guilty? Are you
sure, Mr. O’Hagan, that this stranger is not a counterfeit?”

The reply of counsel could not now be heard--hundreds in the court
house, on hearing his name, and seeing him alive and well before them,
at once recognized his person, and testified their recognition by the
usual manifestations of wonder, satisfaction and delight. The murmur,
in fact, gradually gained strength, and deepened until it fairly burst
forth in one loud and astounding cheer, and it was not, as usual, until
the judge had threatened to commit the first person who should again
disturb the court, that it subsided. There were two persons present,
however, to whom we must direct the special attention of our readers--we
mean Condy Dalton and the Prophet, on both of whom Sullivan’s unexpected
appearance produced very opposite effects. When old Dalton first noticed
the strange man getting upon the table, the appearance of Sullivan,
associated, as it had been, by the language of his counsel, with some
vague notion of his resurrection from the grave, filled his mind with
such a morbid and uncertain feeling of everything about him that he
began to imagine himself in a dream, and that his reason must
soon awaken to the terrible reality of his situation. A dimness of
perception, in fact, came ever all his faculties, and for some minutes
he could not understand the nature of the proceedings around him. The
reaction was too sudden for a mind that had been broken down so long,
and harrassed so painfully, by impressions of remorse and guilt. The
consequence was, that he had forgot, for a time, the nature of his
situation--all appeared unintelligible confusion about him,--he could
see a multitude of faces, and the people, all agitated by some great
cause of commotion, and that was, then, all he could understand about
it.

“What is this,” said he to himself;--“am I on my trial?--or is it
some dhrame that I’m dhramin’ at home in my own poor place among my
heart-broken family?”

A little time, however, soon undeceived him, and awoke his honest heart
to a true perception of his happiness.

“My lord,” said the strange man, in reply to the judge’s last
observation, “I am no counterfeit--an’ I thank my good an’ gracious God
that I have been able to come in time to save this worthy and honest
man’s life. Condy Dalton,” said he, “I can explain all; but in the
mane time let me shake hands wid you, and ax your pardon for the bad
tratement and provocation I gave you on that unlucky day--well may I say
so, so far as you are concerned--for, as I hear, an’ as I see, indeed,
it has caused you and your family bitter trouble and sorrow.”

“Bartle Sullivan! Merciful Father, is this all right? is it real? No
dhrame, then! an’ I have my ould friend by the hand--let me see--let
me feel you!--it is--it’s truth--but, there now--I don’t care who sees
me--I must offer one short prayer of thanksgivin’ to my marciful God,
who has released me from the snares of my enemies, an’ taken this great
weight off o’ my heart!” As he-spoke, he elapsed his hands, looked up
with an expression of deep and heartfelt gratitude to heaven, then knelt
down in a corner of the dock, and returned thanks to God.

The Prophet, on beholding the man, stood more in surprise than
astonishment, and seemed evidently filled more with mortification rather
than wonder. He looked around the court with great calmness, and then
fastening his eyes upon Sullivan, studied, or I appeared to study, his
features for a considerable time. A shadow so dark or we should rather
say, so fearfully black settled upon his countenance, that it gave him
an almost supernatural aspect; it looked in fact, as if the gloom of his
fate had fallen upon him in the midst of his plans and iniquities. He
seemed, for a moment, to feel this himself; for while the confusion and
murmurs were spreading through the court, he muttered to himself--

“I am doomed; I did this, as if something drove me to it; however, if I
could only be sure that the cursed box was really lost, I might laugh at
the world still.”

He then looked around him with singular composure, and ultimately at
the judge, as if to ascertain whether he might depart or not. At this
moment, a pale, sickly-looking female, aided, or rather supported, by
the Pedlar and Hanlon, was in the act of approaching the place where
Dalton’s attorney stood, as if to make some communication to him, when a
scream was heard, followed by the exclamation--

“Blessed Heaven! it’s himself!--it’s himself!”

Order and silence were immediately called by the crier, but the
Prophet’s eyes had been already attracted to the woman, who was no other
than Hanlon’s aunt, and for some time he looked at her with an apparent
sensation of absolute terror. Gradually, however, his usual indomitable
hardness of manner returned to him; he still kept his gaze fixed upon
her, as if to make certain that there could be no mistake, after which
his countenance assumed an expression of rage and malignity that no
language could describe; his teeth became absolutely locked, as if he
could have ground her between them, and his eyes literally blazed
with fury, that resembled that of a rabid beast of prey. The shock was
evidently more than the woman could bear, who, still supported by
the Pedlar and Planlon, withdrew in a state almost bordering on
insensibility.

A very brief space now determined the trial. Sullivan’s brother and
several of the jurors themselves clearly established his identity,
and as a matter of course, Condy Dalton was instantly discharged. His
appearance in the street was hailed by the cheers and acclamations
of the people, who are in general delighted with the acquittal of
a fellow-creature, unless under circumstances of very atrocious
criminality.

“I suppose I may go down,” said the Prophet,--“you have done with me?”

“Not exactly,” replied Dalton’s counsel.

“Let these two men be taken into custody,” said the judge, “and let an
indictment for perjury be prepared against them, and sent to the grand
jury forthwith.”

“My lord,” proceeded the counsel, “we are, we think, in a capacity to
establish a much graver charge against M’Gowan--a charge of murder, my
lord, discovered, under circumstances little short of providential.”

In short, not to trouble the reader with, the dry details of the courts,
after some discussion, it was arranged that two bills should be prepared
and sent up--one for perjury, and the other for the murder of a carman,
named Peter Magennis, almost at the very spot where it had, until then,
been supposed that poor Dalton had murdered Bartholomew Sullivan. The
consequence was, that Donnel, or Donald M’Gowan, the Black Prophet,
found himself in the very dock where Dalton had stood the preceding day.
His case, whether as regarded the perjury or the murder, was entitled to
no clemency, beyond that which the letter of the law strictly
allowed. The judge assigned him counsel, with whom he was permitted
to communicate; and he himself, probably supposing that his chance of
escape was then greater than if more time were allowed to procure and
arrange evidence against him, said he was ready and willing, without
further notice, to be brought to trial.

We beg to observe here, that we do not strictly confine ourselves to the
statements made during the trial, inasmuch as we deem it necessary
to mention circumstances to the reader, which the rules of legitimate
evidence would render inadmissable in a court of justice. We are not
reporting the case, and consequently hold ourselves warranted in
adding whatever may be necessary to making it perfectly clear, or in
withholding circumstances that did not bear upon our narrative. With
this proviso, we now proceed to detail the denouement.

The first evidence against him, was that of our female friend, whom we
have called the Widow Hanlon, but who, in fact, was no other than the
Prophet’s wife, and sister to the man Magennis, whom he had murdered.
The Prophet’s real name, she stated, was M’Ivor, but why he changed
it, she knew not. He had been a man, in the early part of his life, of
rather a kind and placid disposition, unless when highly provoked, and
then his resentments were terrible. He was all his life, however, the
slave of a dark and ever-wakeful jealousy, that destroyed his peace, and
rendered his life painful both to himself and others. It happened that
her brother, the murdered man, had prosecuted M’Ivor for taking forcible
possession of a house, for which he, M’Ivor, received twelve months’
imprisonment. It happened also about that time, that is, a little before
the murder, that he had become jealous of her and a neighbor, who had
paid his addresses to her before marriage. M’Ivor, at this period, acted
in the capacity of a plain Land Surveyor among the farmers and cottiers
of the barony, and had much reputation for his exactness and accuracy.
While in prison, he vowed deadly vengeance against her brother,
Magennis, and swore, that if ever she spoke to him, acknowledged him,
or received him into her house during his life, she should never live
another day under his roof.

In this state matters were, when her brother, having heard that her
husband was in a distant part of the barony, surveying, or subdividing
a farm, came to ask her to her sister’s wedding, and while in the house,
the Prophet, most unexpectedly, was discovered, within a few perches
of the door, on his return. Terror, on her part, from a dread of his
violence, and also an apprehension lest he and her brother should meet,
and, perhaps, seriously injure each other, even to bloodshed, caused her
to hurry the latter into another room, with instructions to get out of
the window as quietly as possible, and to go home. Unfortunately he did
so, but had scarcely escaped, when a poor mendicant woman, coming in
to ask alms, exclaimed--“Take care, good people, that you have not been
robbed--I saw a man comin’ out of the windy, and runnin’ over toward
Jemmy Campel’s house”--Campel being the name of the young man of whom
her husband was jealous.

M’Ivor, now furious, ran towards Campel’s, and meeting that person’s
servant-maid at the door, asked “if her master was at home.”

She replied, “Yes, he just came in this minute.”

“What direction did he come from?”

“From the direction of your own house,” she answered.

It should be stated, however, that his wife, at once recollecting his
jealousy, told him immediately that the person who had left the house
was her brother; but he rushed on, and paid no attention whatsoever to
her words.

From this period forward he never lived with her, but she has heard
recently--no longer ago than last night--that he had associated himself
with a woman named Eleanor M’Guirk, about thirty miles farther west from
their original neighborhood, near a place called Glendhu, and it was at
that place her brother was murdered.

Neither her anxieties nor her troubles, however, ended here. When her
husband left her, he took a daughter, their only child, then almost an
infant, away with him, and contrived to circulate a report that he and
she had gone to America. After her return home, she followed her nephew
to this neighborhood, and that accounted for her presence there. So
well, indeed, did he manage this matter, that she received a very
contrite and affectionate letter, that had been sent, she thought, from
Boston, desiring her to follow himself and the child there. The deceit
was successful. Gratified at the prospect of joining them, she made
the due preparations, and set sail. It is unnecessary to say, that on
arriving at Boston she could get no tidings whatsoever of either the one
or the other; but as she had some relations in the place, she found them
out, and resided there until within a few months ago, when she set sail
for Ireland, where she arrived only a short time previous to the period
of the trial. She has often heard M’Ivor say that he would settle
accounts with her brother some fine night, but he usually added, “I will
take my time and kill two birds with one stone when I go about it,” by
which she thought he meant robbing him, as well as murdering him, as her
brother was known mostly to have a good deal of money about him.

We now add here, although the fact was not brought out until a later
stage of the trial, that she proved the identity of the body found in
Glendhu, as being that of her brother, very clearly. His right leg had
been broken, and having been mismanaged, was a little crooked, which
occasioned him to have a slight halt in his walk. The top joint also of
the second toe, on the same foot had been snapped off by the tramp of a
horse, while her brother was a schoolboy--two circumstances which were
corroborated by the Coroner, and one or two of those who had examined
the body at the previous inquest, and which they could then attribute
only to injuries received during his rude interment, but which were now
perfectly intelligible and significant.

The next witness called was Bartholemew Sullivan, who deposed--

That about a month before his disappearance from the country, he was one
night coming home from a wake, and within half a mile of the Grey Stone
he met a person, evidently a carman, accompanying a horse and cart, who
bade him the time of night as he passed. He noticed that the man had a
slight halt as he walked, but could not remember his face, although the
night was by no means dark. On passing onwards, towards home, he met
another person walking after the carman, who, on seeing him (Sullivan)
hastily threw some weapon or other into the ditch. The hour was about
three o’clock in the night (morning,) and on looking close at the man,
for he seemed to follow the other in a stealthy way, he could only
observe that he had a very pale face, and heavy black eyebrows; indeed
he has little doubt but that the prisoner is the man, although he will
not actually swear it after such a length of time.

This was the evidence given by Bartholomew Sullivan.

The third witness produced was Theodosius M’Mahon, or, as he was better
known, Toddy Mack, the Pedlar, who deposed to the fact of having,
previously to his departure for Boston, given to Peter Magennis a
present of a steel tobacco-box as a keep-sake, and as the man did not
use tobacco, he said, on putting it into his pocket--

“This will do nicely to hould my money in, on my way home from Dublin.”

Upon which Toddy Mack observed, laughingly--

“That if he put either silver or brass in it, half the country would
know it by the jingle.”

“I’ll take care of that, never fear,” replied Magennis, “for I’ll put
nothing in this, but the soft, comfortable notes.”

He was asked if the box had any particular mark by which it might be
known?

“Yes, he had himself punched upon the lid of it the initials of the
person to whom he gave it--P. M., for Peter Magennis.”

“Would you know the box if you saw it?”

“Certainly!”

“Is that it?” asked the prosecuting attorney, placing the box in his
hands.

“That is the same box I gave him, upon my oath. It’s a good deal rusted
now, but there’s the holes as I punched them; and by the same token,
there is the letter P., the very place yet where the two holes broke
into one, as I was punchin’ it.”

“Pray, how did the box come to turn up?” asked the judge:--“In whose
possession has it been ever since?”

“My lord, we have just come to that. Crier, call Eleanor M’Guirk.”

The woman hitherto known as Nelly M’Gowan, and supposed to be the
Prophet’s wife now made her appearance.

“Will you state to the gentlemen of the jury what you know about this
box?”

Our readers are partially aware of her evidence with respect to it. We
shall, however, briefly recapitulate her account of the circumstance.

“The first time she ever saw it,” she said, “was the night the carman
was murdered, or that he disappeared, at any rate. She resided by
herself, in a little house at the mouth of the Glendhu--the same she and
the Prophet had lived in ever since. They had not long been acquainted
at that time--but still longer than was right or proper. She had
been very little in the country then, and any time he did come was
principally at night, when he stopped with her, and went away again,
generally before day in the morning. He passed himself on her as an
unmarried man, and said his name was M’Gowan. On that evening he came
about dusk, but went out again, and she did not see him till far in the
night, when he returned, and appeared to be fatigued and agitated--his
clothes, too, were soiled and crumpled, especially the collar of his
shirt, which was nearly torn off, as in a struggle of some kind. She
asked him what was the matter with him, and said he looked as if he had
been fighting.” He replied--

“No, Nelly; but I’ve killed two birds with one stone this night.”

She asked him what he meant by those words, but he would give her no
further information.

“I’ll give no explanation,” said he, “but this;” and turning his back
to her, he opened a tobacco-box, which, by stretching her neck, she saw
distinctly, and, taking out a roll of bank notes, he separated one from
the rest, and handing it to her, exclaimed--“there’s all the explanation
you can want; a close mouth, Nelly, is the sign of a wise-head, an’ by
keepin’ a close mouth, you’ll get more explanations of this kind. Do you
understand that?” said he. “I do,” she replied.

“Very well, then,” he observed “let that be the law and gospel between
us.”

When he fell asleep, she got up, and looking at the box, saw that it
was stuffed with bank notes, had a broken hinge--the hinge was freshly
broken--and something like two letters on the lid of it.

“She then did not see it,” she continued, “until some weeks ago, when
his daughter and herself having had a quarrel, in which the girl cut
her--she (his daughter) on stretching up for some cobwebs on the wall
to stanch the bleeding, accidentally pulled the box out of a crevice, in
which it had been hid. About this time,” she added, “the prisoner became
very restless at night, indeed, she might say by day and night, and
after a good deal of gloomy ill temper, he made inquiries for it, and on
hearing that it had again appeared, even threatened her life if it were
not produced.” She closed her evidence by stating that she had secreted
it, but could tell nothing of its ultimate and mysterious disappearance.

Hanlon’s part in tracing the murder is already known, we presume, to the
reader. He dreamt, but his dream was not permitted to go to the jury,
that his father came to him, and said, that if he repaired to the Grey
Stone, at Glendhu, on a night which he named, at the hour of twelve
o’clock, he would get such a clue to his murder as would enable him to
bring his murderer to justice.

“Are you the son, then, of the man who is said to have been murdered?”
 asked the judge.

“He was his son,” he replied, “and came first to that part of the
country in consequence of having been engaged in a Party fight in his
native place. It seems a warrant had been issued against him and others,
and he thought it more prudent to take his mother’s name, which was
Hanlon, in order to avoid discovery, the case being a very common one
under circumstances of that kind.”

Rody Duncan’s explanation, with respect to the Tobacco-Box, was not
called for on the trial, but we shall give it here in order to satisfy
the reader. He saw Nelly M’Gowan, as we may still call her, thrusting
something under the thatch of the cabin, and feeling a kind of curiosity
to ascertain what it could be, he seized the first opportunity of
examining, and finding a tobacco-box, he put it in his pocket, and
thought himself extremely fortunate in securing it, for reasons which
the reader will immediately understand. The truth is, that Rody,
together with about half a dozen virtuous youths in the neighborhood,
were in the habit of being out pretty frequently at night--for
what purposes we will not now wait to inquire. Their usual place
of rendezvous was the Grey Stone, in consequence of the shelter and
concealment which its immense projections afforded them. On the night
of the first meeting between Sarah and Hanlon, Rody had heard the whole
conversation by accident, whilst waiting for his companions, and very
judiciously furnished the groans, as he did also upon the second night,
on both occasions for his own amusement. His motives for ingratiating
himself through means of the box, with Sarah and Hanlon, are already
known to the reader, and require no further explanation from us.

In fact, such a train of circumstantial evidence was produced, as
completely established the Prophet’s guilt, in the opinion of all who
had heard the trial, and the result was a verdict of guilty by the jury,
and a sentence of death by the judge.

“Your case,” said the judge, as he was about to pronounce sentence, “is
another proof of the certainty with which Providence never, so to speak,
loses sight of the man who deliberately sheds his fellow creature’s
blood. It is an additional and striking instance too, of the retributive
spirit with which it converts all the most cautious disguises of guilt,
no matter how ingeniously assumed, into the very manifestations by which
its enormity is discovered and punished.”

After recommending him to a higher tribunal, and impressing upon him the
necessity of repentance, and seeking peace with God, he sentenced him to
be hanged by the neck on the fourth day after the close of the assizes,
recommending his soul, as usual, to the mercy of his Creator.

The Prophet was evidently a man of great moral intrepidity and firmness.
He kept his black, unquailing eye fixed upon the judge while he spoke,
but betrayed not a single symptom of a timid or vacillating spirit. When
the sentence was pronounced, he looked with an expression of something
like contempt upon those who had broken out, as usual, into those
murmurs of compassion and satisfaction, which are sometimes uttered
under circumstances similar to his.

“Now,” said he to the gaoler, “that every thing is over, and the worst
come to the worst, the sooner I get to my cell the better. I have
despised the world too long to care a single curse what it says or
thinks of me, or about me. All I’m sorry for is, that I didn’t take more
out of it, and that I let it slip through my hands so asily as I did. My
curse upon it and its villany! Bring me in.”

The gratification of the country for a wide circle round, was
now absolutely exuberant. There was not only the acquittal of the
good-hearted and generous old man, to fill the public with a feeling
of delight, but also the unexpected resurrection, as it were, of honest
Bartholomew Sullivan, which came to animate all parties with a double
enjoyment. Indeed, the congratulations which both parties received, were
sincere and fervent. Old Condy Dalton had no sooner left the dock than
he was surrounded by friends and relatives, each and all anxious to
manifest their sense of his good fortune, in the usual way of “treating”
 him and his family. Their gratitude, however, towards the Almighty for
the unexpected interposition in their favor, was too exalted and pious
to allow them to profane it by convivial indulgences. With as little
delay, therefore, as might be, they sought their humble cabin, where
a scene awaited them that was calculated to dash with sorrow the
sentiments of justifiable exultation which they felt.

Our readers may remember that owing to Sarah’s illness, the Prophet,
as an after thought, had determined to give to the abduction of Mave
Sullivan the color of a famine outrage; and for this purpose he had
resolved also to engage Thomas Dalton to act as a kind of leader--a
circumstance which he hoped would change the character of the
proceedings altogether to one of wild and licentious revenge on the part
of Dalton. Poor Dalton lent himself to this, as far as its aspect of a
mere outbreak had attractions for the melancholy love of turbulence, by
which he had been of late unhappily animated. He accordingly left home
with the intention of taking a part in their proceedings; but he never
joined them. Where he had gone to, or how he had passed the night,
nobody knew. Be this as it may, he made his appearance at home about
noon on the day of his father’s trial, in evidently a dying state, and
in this condition his family found him on their return. ‘Tis true they
had the consolation of perceiving that he was calmer and more collected
than he had been since the death of Peggy Murtagh. His reason, indeed,
might be said to have been altogether restored.

They found him sitting in his father’s arm chair, his head
supported--oh, how tenderly supported!--by his affectionate sister,
Mary.

Mrs. Dalton herself had come before, to break the joyful tidings to
this excellent girl, who, on seeing her, burst into tears, exclaiming in
Irish--

“Mother, dear, I’m afraid you’re bringing a heavy heart to a house of
sorrow!”

“A light heart, dear Mary--a light and a grateful heart. Your father,
_acushla machree_--your father, my dear, unhappy Tom, is not a
murderer.”

The girl had one arm around her brother’s neck, but she instinctively
raised the other, as if in ecstatic delight, but in a moment she dropped
it again, and said sorrowfully--

“Ay; but, mother dear, didn’t he say himself he was guilty?”

“He thought so, dear; but it was only a rash blow; and oh, how many a
deadly accident has come from harsh blows! The man was not killed at
all, dear Mary, but is alive and well, and was in the court-house this
day. Oh! what do we not owe to a good God for His mercy towards us all?
Tom, dear, I am glad to see you at home; you must not go out again.”

“Oh, mother dear,” said his sister, kissing him, and bursting into
tears, “Tom’s dying!”

“What’s this?” exclaimed his mother--“death’s in my boy’s face!”

He raised his head gently, and, looking at her, replied, with a faint
smile--

“No, mother, I will not go out any more; I will be good at last--it’s
time for me.”

At this moment old Dalton and the rest of the family entered the house,
but were not surprised at finding Mary and her mother in tears; for they
supposed, naturally enough, that the tears were tears of joy for the
old man’s acquittal. Mrs. Dalton raised her hand to enjoin silence; and
then, pointing to her son, said--

“We must keep quiet for a little.”

They all looked upon the young man, and saw, that death, immediate
death, was stamped upon his features, gleamed wildly out of his eyes,
and spoke in his feeble and hollow voice.

“Father,” said he, “let me kiss you, or come and kiss me. Thank God for
what has happened this day. Father,” he added, looking up into the
old man’s face, with an expression of unutterable sorrow and
affection--“father, I know I was wild; but I will be wild no more. I was
wicked, too; but I will be wicked no more. There, is an end now to all
my follies and all my crimes; an’ I hope--I hope that God will have
mercy upon me, an’ forgive me.”

The tears rained fast upon his pale face from the old man’s eyes, as he
exclaimed--

“He will have mercy upon you, my darlin’ son; look to Him. I know,
darlin’, that whatever crimes or follies you committed, you are sorry
for them, an’ God will forgive you.”

“I am,” he replied; “kiss me all of you; my sight is gettin’ wake, an’
my tongue isn’t isn’t so strong as it was.”

One after one they all kissed him, and as each knew that this tender and
sorrowful, embrace must be the last that should ever pass between them,
it is impossible adequately to describe the scene which then took place.

“I have a request to make,” he added, feebly; “an’ it is, that I may
sleep with Peggy and our baby. Maybe I’m not worthy of that; but still
I’d like it, an’ my heart’s upon it; an’ I think she would like it,
too.”

“It can be done, an’ we’ll do it,” replied his mother; “we’ll do it my
darlin’ boy--my son, my son, we’ll do it.”

“Don’t you all forgive me--forgive me--everything?”

They could only, for some time, reply by their tears; but at length they
did reply, and he seemed satisfied.

“Now,” said he, “there was an ould Irish air that Peggy used to sing for
me--I thought I heard her often singin’ it of late--did I?”

“I suppose so, darlin’,” replied his mother; “I suppose you did.”

“Mary, here,” he proceeded, “sings it; I would like to hear it before I
go; it’s the air of _Gra Gal Machree_.”

“Before you go, _alanna!_” exclaimed his father, pressing him tenderly
to his breast. “Oh! but they’re bitther words to us, my darlin’ an’ my
lovin’ boy. But the air, Mary, darlin’, strive an’ sing it for him as
well as you can.”

It was a trying task for the affectionate girl, who, however, so far
overcame her grief, as to be able to sing it with the very pathos of
nature itself.

“Ay,” said he, as she proceeded, “that’s it--that’s what Peggy used to
sing for me, bekaise she knew I liked it.”

Tender and full of sorrow were the notes as they came from the innocent
lips of that affectionate sister. Her task, however, was soon over; for
scarcely had she concluded the air, when her poor brother’s ears and
heart were closed to the melody and affection it breathed, forever.

“I know,” said she, with tears, “that there’s one thing will give
comfort to you all respecting poor Tom. Peter Rafferty, who helped
him home, seein’ the dyin’ state he was in, went over to the Car, and
brought one of Father Hanratty’s curates to him, so that he didn’t
depart without resaving the rites of the Church, thank God!”

This took the sting of bitterness out of their grief, and infused
into it a spirit that soothed their hearts, and sustained them by that
consolation which the influence of religion and its ordinances, in the
hour of death and sorrow, never fail to give to an Irish family.

Old Dalton’s sleep was sound that night; and when he awoke the next
morning the first voice he heard was that of our friend Toddy Mack,
which, despite of the loss they had sustained, and its consequent
sorrow, diffused among them a spirit of cheerfulness and contentment.

“You have no raison,” said he, “to fly in the face of God--I don’t mane
you, Mrs. Dalton--but these youngsters. If what I heard is thrue that
that poor boy never was himself since the girl died, it was a mercy for
God to take him; and afther all He is a betther judge of what’s fit for
us than we ourselves. Bounce, now, Mr. Dalton; you have little time to
lose. I want you to come wid me to the agent, Mr. Travers. He wishes, I
think, to see yourself, for he says he has heard a good account o’ you,
an’ I promised to bring you. If we’re there about two o’clock we’ll hit
the time purty close.”

“What can he want with him, do you think?” asked Mrs. Dalton.

“Dear knows--fifty things--maybe to stand for one of his
childhre--or--but, ah! forgive me--I could be merry anywhere else; but
here--here--forgive me, Mrs. Dalton.”

In a short time Dalton and he mounted a car which Toddy had brought with
him, and started for the office of Mr. Travers.

While they are on their way, we shall return to our friend, young Dick,
who was left to trudge home from the Grey Stone on the night set apart
for the abduction of Mave Sullivan. Hanlon, or Magennis, as we ought now
to call him, having by his shrewdness, and Rody Duncan’s loose manner
of talking, succeeded in preventing the burglarious attack upon his
master’s house, was a good deal surprised at young Dick’s quick return,
for he had not expected him at all that night. The appearance of
the young gentleman was calculated to excite impressions of rather a
serio-comic character.

“Hanlon,” said he, “is all right?--every man at his post?”

“All right, sir; but I did not expect you back so soon. Whatever you’ve
been engaged on to-night is a saicret you’ve kep’ me out of.”

“D--e, I was afraid of you, Hanlon--you were too honest for what I was
about to-night. You wouldn’t have stood it--I probed you on it once
before, and you winced.”

“Well, sir, I assure you I don’t wish to know what it is.”

“Why, as the whole thing has failed there, can be no great secret in
it now. The old Prophet hoaxed me cursedly to-night. It was arranged
between us that he should carry off Sullivan’s handsome daughter for
me--and what does the mercenary old scoundrel do but put his own in her
place, with a view of imposing her on me.”

“Faith, an’ of the two she is thought to be the finest an’ handsomest
girl; but, my God! how could he do what you say, an’ his daughter sick
o’ the typhus?”

“There’s some d--d puzzle about it, I grant--he seemed puzzled--his
daughter-seemed sick, sure enough--and I am sick. Hanlon, I fear I’ve
caught the typhus from her--I can think of nothing else.”

“Go to bed, sir; I tould you as you went out that you had taken rather
too much. You’ve been disappointed, an’ you’re vexed;--that’s what ails
you; but go to bed, an’ you’ll sleep it off.”

“Yes, I must. In a day or two it’s arranged that I and Travers are to
settle about the leases, and I must meet that worthy gentleman with a
clear head.”

“Is Darby Skinadre, sir, to have Dalton’s farm?”

“Why, I’ve pocketed a hundred of his money for it, an’ I think he ought.
However, all this part of the property is out of lease, and you know we
can neither do nor say anything till we get the new leases.”

“Oh, yes, you can, sir,” replied Hanlon, laughing; “it’s clear you can
_do_ at any rate.”

“How is that? What do you grin at, confound you?”

“You can take the money, sir; that’s what I mane by _doin’_ him. Ha, ha,
ha!”

“Very good, Charley; but I’m sick; and I very much fear that I’ve caught
this confounded typhus.”

The next day being that on which the trial took place, he rose not from
his bed; and when the time appointed for meeting Travers came he was
not at all in anything of an improved condition. His gig was got ready,
however, and, accompanied by Hanlon, he drove to the agent’s office.

Travers was a quick, expert man of business, who lost but little time
and few words in his dealings with the world. He was clear, rapid, and
decisive, and having once formed an opinion, there was scarcely any
possibility in changing it. This, indeed, was the worst and most
impracticable point about him; for as it often happened that his
opinions were based upon imperfect or erroneous data, it consequently
followed that his inflexibility was but another name for obstinacy, and
not unfrequently for injustice.

As Henderson entered the office, he met our friend the pedlar and old
Dalton going out.

“Dalton,” said Travers, “do you and your friend stay in the next room; I
wish to see you again before you go. How do you do, Henderson?”

“I am not well,” replied Henderson, “not at all well; but it won’t
signify.”

“How is your father?”

“Much as usual: I wonder he didn’t call on you.”

“No, he did not, I suppose he’s otherwise engaged--the assizes always
occupy him. However, now to business, Mr. Henderson;” and he looked
inquiringly at Dick, as much as to say, I am ready to hear you.

“We had better see, I think,” proceeded Dick, “and make arrangements
about these new leases.”

“I shall expect to be bribed for each of them, Mr. Richard.”

“Bribed!” exclaimed the other, “ha, ha, ha! that’s good.”

“Why, do you think there’s anything morally wrong or dishonorable in a
bribe?” asked the other, with a very serious face.

“Come, come, Mr. Travers,” said Dick, “a joke’s a joke; only don’t put
so grave a face on you when you ask such a question. However, as you say
yourself, now to business--about these leases.”

“I trust,” continued Travers, “that I am both an honest man and a
gentleman, yet I expect a bribe for every lease.”

“Well, then,” replied Henderson, “it is not generally supposed that
either an honest man or a gentleman--”

“Would take a bribe?--eh?”

“Well, d--n it, no; not exactly that either; but come, let us understand
each other. If you will be wilful on it, why a wilful man, they say,
must have his way. Bribery, however--rank bribery--is a--”

“Crime to which neither an honest man nor a gentleman would stoop. You
see I anticipate what you are about to say; you despise bribery, Mr.
Henderson?”

“Sir,” replied the other, rather warmly, “I trust that I am a gentleman
and an honest man, too.”

“But still, a wilful man, Mr. Henderson must have his way, you know.
Well, of course, you are a gentleman and an honest man.”

He then rose, and touching the bell, said to the servant who answered
it:

“Send in the man named Darby Skinadre.”

If that miserable wretch was thin and shrivelled-looking when first
introduced to our readers, he appeared at the present period little
else than the shadow of what he had been. He not only lost heavily the
usurious credit he had given, in consequence of the wide-spread poverty
and crying distress of the wretched people, who were mostly insolvent,
but he suffered severely by the outrages which had taken place, and
doubly so in consequence of the anxiety which so many felt to wreak
their vengeance on him, under that guise, for his heartlessness and
blood-sucking extortions upon them.

“Your name,” proceeded the agent, “is Darby Skinadre?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you have given this gentleman the sum of a hundred pounds, as a
bribe, for promising you a lease of Cornelius Dalton’s farm?”

“I gave him a hundred pounds, but not at all as a bribe, sir; I’m an
honest man, I trust--an’ the Lord forbid I’d have anything to do wid a
bribe; an’ if you an’ he knew--if you only knew, both o’ you--the hard
strivin,’ an’ scrapin,’ an’ sweepin’ I had to get it together--”

“That will do, sir; be silent. You received this money, Mr. Henderson?”

“Tut, Travers, my good friend; this is playing too high a card about
such a matter. Don’t you know, devilish well, that these things are
common, aye, and among gentlemen and honest men too, as you say?”

“Well, that is a discussion upon which I shall not enter. Now, as you
say, to business.”

“Well, then,” continued Henderson, smiling, “if you have no objection,
I am willing that you should take Skinadre’s affair and mine as a
precedent between you and me. Let us not be fools, Mr. Travers; it is
every one for himself in this world.”

“What is it you expect, in the first place?” asked the agent.

“Why, new leases,” replied the other, “upon reasonable terms, of
course.”

“Well, then,” said Travers, “I beg to inform you that you shall not
have them, with only one exception. You shall have a lease of sixty-nine
acres attached to the Grange, being the quantity of land you actually
farm.”

“Pray, why not of all the property?” asked Dick.

“My good friend,” replied the agent, nearly in his own words to the
Pedlar; “the fact is, that we are about to introduce a new system
altogether upon our property. We are determined to manage it upon a
perfectly new principle. It has been too much sublet under us, and we
have resolved, Mr. Henderson, to rectify this evil. That is my answer.
With the exception of the Grange farm, you get no leases. We shall turn
over a new leaf, and see that a better order of things be established
upon the property. As for you, Skinadre, settle this matter of your
hundred pounds with Mr. Henderson as best you may. That was a private
transaction between yourselves; between yourselves, then, does the
settlement of it lie.”

He once more touched the bell, and desired Cornelius Dalton and the
Pedlar to be sent in.

“Mr. Henderson,” he proceeded, “I will bid you good morning; you
certainly look ill. Skinadre, you may go. I have sent for Mr. Dalton,
Mr. Henderson, to let him know that he shall be reinstated in his farm,
and every reasonable allowance made him for the oppression and injustice
which he and his respectable family have suffered at--I will not say
whose hands.”

“Travers,” replied Henderson, “your conduct is harsh--and--however, I
cannot now think of leases--I am every moment getting worse--I am very
ill--good-morning.”

He then went.

“An’ am I to lose my hundre pounds, your honor, of my hard earned money,
that I squeezed--”

“Out of the blood and marrow and life of the struggling people, you
heartless extortioner! Begone, sirra; a foot of land upon the property
for which I am agent you shall never occupy. You and your tribe, whether
you batten upon the distress of struggling industry in the deceitful
Maelstrooms of the metropolis, or in the dirty, dingy shops of a private
country village, are each a scorpion curse to the people. Your very
existence is a libel upon the laws by which the rights of civil society
are protected.”

“Troth, your honor does me injustice; I never see a case of distress
that my heart doesn’t bleed--”

“With a leech-like propensity to pounce upon it. Begone!”

The man slunk out.

“Dalton,” he proceeded, when the old man, accompanied by the Pedlar,
came in, “I sent for you to say that I am willing you should have your
farm again.”

“Sir,” replied the other, “I am thankful and grateful to you for that
kindness, but it’s now too late; I am not able to go back upon it; I
have neither money nor stock of any kind. I am deeply and gratefully
obliged to you; but I have not a sixpence worth in the world to put on
it. An honest heart, sir, an’ a clear fame, is all that God has left me,
blessed be His name.”

“Don’t b’lieve a word of it,” replied the Pedlar. “Only let your honor
give him a good lease, at a raisonable rint, makin’ allowance for his
improvements--”

“Never mind conditions, my good friend,” said the agent, “but proceed;
for, if I don’t mistake, you will yourself give him a lift.”

“May be, we’ll find him stock and capital a thrifle, any way,” replied
the Pedlar with a knowing wink. “I haven’t carried the pack all my life
for nothing, I hope.”

“I understand,” said the agent to Dalton, “that one of your sons is
dead. I leave town to-day, but I shall be here this day fortnight;--call
then, and we shall have every thing arranged. Your case was a very hard
one, and a very common one; but it was one with which we had nothing
to do, and in which, until now, we could not interfere. I have looked
clearly into it, and regret to find that such cases do exist upon Irish
property to a painful extent, although I am, glad to find that public
opinion, and a more enlightened experience, are every day considerably
diminishing the evil.”

He then rang for some one-else, and our friends withdrew, impressed
with a grateful sense of his integrity and justice.



CHAPTER XXXII. -- Conclusion.

The interest excited by the trial, involving as it did so much that
concerned the Sullivans, especially the hopes and affections of their
daughter Mave, naturally induced them--though not on this latter
account--young and old, to attend the assizes, not excepting Mave
herself; for her father, much against her inclination, had made a point
to bring her with them. On finding, however, how matters turned out, a
perfect and hearty reconciliation took place between the two families,
in the course of which Mave and the Prophet’s wife once more renewed
their acquaintance. Some necessary and brief explanation took place, in
the course of which allusion was made to Sarah and her state of health.

“I hope,” said Mave, “you will lose no time in goin’ to see her. I know
her affectionate heart; an’ that when she hears an’ feels that she has
a mother alive an’ well, an’ that loves her as she ought to be loved, it
will put new life into her.”

“She is a fine lookin’ girl,” replied her mother, “an’ while I was
spakin’ to her, I felt my heart warm to her sure enough; but she’s a
wild crature, they say.”

“Hasty a little,” said Mave; “but then such a heart as she has. You
ought to go see her at wanst.”

“I would, dear, an’ my heart is longin’ to see her; but I think it’s
betther that I should not till afther his thrial to-morrow. I’m to be a
witness against the unfortunate man.”

“Against her father!--against your own husband!” exclaimed Mave, looking
aghast at this information.

“Yes, dear; for it was my brother he murdhered an’ he must take the
consequences, if he was my husband and her father ten times over. My
brother’s blood mustn’t pass for nothin’. Besides, the hand o’ God is in
it, an’ I must do my duty.”

The heart of the gentle and heroic Mave, which could encounter contagion
and death, from a principle of unconscious magnanimity and affection,
that deserved a garland, now shrunk back with pain at the sentiments so
coolly expressed by Sarah’s mother. She thought for a moment of young
Dalton, and that if she were called upon to prosecute him,--but she
hastily put the fearful hypothesis aside, and was about to bid her
acquaintance good-bye, when the latter said:

“To-morrow, or rather the day afther, I’d wish to see her for then I’ll
know what will happen to him, an’ how to act with her; an’ if you’d come
with me, I’d be glad of it, an’ you’d oblige me.”

Mave’s gentle and affectionate spirit was disquieted within her by what
she had already heard; but a moment’s reflection convinced her that her
presence on the occasion might be serviceable to Sarah, whose excitable
temperament and delicate state of health required gentle and judicious
treatment.

“I’m afeard,” said Mrs. M’Ivor, “that by the time the trial’s over
to-morrow, it’ll be too late; but let us say the day afther, if it’s the
same to you.”

“Well, then,” replied Mave, “you can call to our place, as it’s on your
way, an’ we’ll both go together.”

“If she knew her,” said Mave to her friends, on her way home, “as I do;
if she only knew the heart she has--the lovin’, the fearless, the great
heart;--oh, if she did, no earthly thing would prevent her from goin’ to
her without the loss of a minute’s time. Poor Sarah!--brave and generous
girl--what wouldn’t I do to bring her back to health! But ah, mother,
I’m afeard;” and as the noble girl spoke, the tears gushed to her
eyes--“‘It’s my last act for you,’ she whispered to me, on that night
when the house was surrounded by villains--‘I know what you risked for
me in the shed; I know it, dear Mave, an’ I’m now sthrivin’ to pay back
my debt to you.’ Oh, mother!” she exclaimed, “where--where could one
look for the like of her! an’ yet how little does the world know about
her goodness, or her greatness, I may say. Well,” proceeded Mave, “she
paid that debt; but I’m afeard, mother, it’ll turn out that it was with
her own life she paid it.”

At the hour appointed, Mrs. M’Ivor and Mave set out on their visit to
Sarah, each now aware of the dreadful and inevitable doom that awaited
her father, and of the part which one of them, at least, had taken in
bringing it about.

About half an hour before their arrival, Sarah, whose anxiety touching
the fate of old Dalton could endure no more, lay awaiting the return of
her nurse--a simple, good-hearted, matter-of-fact creature, who had no
notion of ever concealing the truth under any circumstances. The poor
girl had sent her to get an account of the trial the best way she could,
and, as we said, she now lay awaiting her return. At length she came in.

“Well, Biddy, what’s the news--or have you got any?”

The old woman gently and affectionately put her hand over on Sarah’s
forehead, as if the act was a religious ceremony, and accompanied an
invocation, as, indeed, she intended it to do.

“May God in His mercy soon relieve you from your thrials, my poor girl,
an’ bring you to Himself! but it’s the black news I have for you this
day.”

Sarah started.

“What news,” she asked, hastily--“what black news?”

“Husth, now, an’ I’ll tell you;--in the first place, your mother is
alive, an’ has come to the counthry.”

Sarah immediately sat up in the bed, without assistance, and fastening
her black, brilliant eyes upon the woman, exclaimed--“My mother--my
mother--my own mother!--an’ do you dare to tell me that this is black
news? Lave the house, I bid you. I’ll get up--I’m not sick--I’m well.
Great God! yes, I’m well--very well; but how dare you name black news
an’ my mother--my blessed mother--in the same breath, or on the same
day?”

“Will you hear me out, then?” continued the nurse.

“No,” replied Sarah, attempting to get up--“I want to hear no more; now
I wish to live--now I am sure of one, an’ that one my mother--my own
mother--to love me--to guide me--to taich me all that I ought to know;
but, above all, to love me. An’ my father--my poor unhappy father--an’
he is unhappy--he loves me, too. Oh, Biddy, I can forgive you now for
what you said--I will be happy still--an’ my mother will be happy--an’
my father,--my poor father--will be happy yet; he’ll reform--repent
maybe; an’ he’ll wanst more get back his early heart--his heart when it
was good, an’ not hardened, as he says it was, by the world. Biddy, did
you ever see any one cry with joy before--ha--ha--did you now?”

“God strengthen you, my poor child,” exclaimed the nurse, bursting into
tears; “for what will become of you? Your father, Sarah dear, is to be
hanged for murdher, an’ it was your mother’s evidence that hanged him.
She swore against him on the thrial an’ his sentence is passed. Bartle
Sullivan wasn’t murdhered at all, but another man was, an’ it was your
father that done it. On next Friday he’s to be hanged, an’ your mother,
they say, swore his life away! If that’s not black news, I don’t know
what is.”

Sarah’s face had been flushed to such a degree by the first portion of
the woman’s intelligence, that its expression was brilliant and animated
beyond belief. On hearing its conclusion, however, the change from joy
to horror was instantaneous, shocking, and pitiable, beyond all power
of language to express. She was struck perfectly motionless and ghastly;
and as she kept her large lucid eyes fixed upon the woman’s face, the
powers of life, that had been hitherto in such a tumult of delight
within her, seemed slowly, and with a deadly and scarcely perceptible
motion, to ebb out of her system. The revulsion was too dreadful;
and with the appearance of one who was anxious to shrink or hide from
something that was painful, she laid her head down on the humble pillow
of her bed.

“Now, asthore,” said the woman, struck by the woeful change--“don’t take
it too much to. heart; you’re young, an’ please God, you’ll get over it
all yet.”

“No,” she replied, in a voice so utterly changed and deprived of its
strength, that the woman could with difficulty hear or understand her.
“There’s but one good bein’ in the world,” she said to herself, “an’
that is Mave Sullivan: I have no mother, no father--all I can love now
is Mave Sullivan--that’s all.”

“Every one that knows her does,” said the nurse.

“Who?” said Sarah, inquiringly.

“Why, Mave Sullivan,” replied the other; “worn’t you spakin’ about her?”

“Was I?” said she, “maybe so--what was I sayin’?”

She then put her hand to her forehead, as if she felt pain and
confusion; after which she waved the nurse towards her, but on the woman
stooping down, she seemed to forget that she had beckoned to her at all.

At this moment Mave and her mother entered, and after looking towards
the bed on which she lay, they inquired in a whisper, from her attendant
how she was.

The woman pointed hopelessly to her own head, and then looked
significantly at Sarah, as if to intimate that her brain was then
unsettled.

“There’s something wrong here,” she added, in an under tone, and
touching her head, “especially since I tould her what had happened.”

“Is she acquainted with everything?” asked her mother.

“She is,” replied the other; “she knows that her father is to die on
Friday an’ that you swore agin’ him.”

“But what on earth,” said Mave, “could make you be so mad as to let her
know anything of that kind?”

“Why, she sent me to get word,” replied the simple creature, “and you
wouldn’t have me tell her a lie, an’ the poor girl on her death-bed, I’m
afeard.”

Her mother went over and stood opposite where she lay, that is, near the
foot of her bed, and putting one hand under her chin, looked at her
long and steadily. Mave went to her side and taking her hand gently up,
kissed it, and wept quietly, but bitterly.

It was, indeed, impossible to look upon her without a feeling of
deep and extraordinary interest. Her singularly youthful aspect--her
surprising beauty, to which disease and suffering had given a character
of purity and tenderness almost etherial--the natural symmetry and
elegance of her very arms and hands--the wonderful whiteness of her
skin, which contrasted so strikingly with the raven black of her glossy
hair, and the soul of thought and feeling which lay obviously expressed
by the long silken eye-lashes of her closed eyes--all, when taken in at
a glance, were calculated to impress a beholder with love, and sympathy,
and tenderness, such as no human heart could resist.

Mave, on glancing at her mother, saw a few tears stealing, as it were,
down her cheeks.

“I wish to God, my dear daughter,” exclaimed the latter, in a low voice,
“that I had never seen your face, lovely as it is, an’ it surely would
be betther for yourself that you had never been born.”

She then passed to the bed-side, and taking Mave’s place, who withdrew,
she stooped down, and placing her lips upon Sarah’s white broad
forehead, exclaimed--“May God bless you, my dear daughter, is the
heart-felt prayer of your unhappy mother!”

Sarah suddenly opened her eyes, and started.--“What is wrong? There is
something wrong. Didn’t I hear some one callin’ me daughter? Here’s a
strange woman--Charley Hanlon’s aunt--Biddy, come here!”

“Well, acushla, here I am--keep yourself quiet, achora--what is it?”

“Didn’t you tell me that my mother swore my father’s life away?”

“It’s what they say,” replied the matter-of-fact nurse.

“Then it’s a lie that’s come from hell itself,” she replied--“Oh, if I
was only up and strong as I was, let me see the man or woman that durst
say so. My mother! to become unnatural and treacherous, an’ I have a
mother--ha, ha--oh, how often have I thought of this--thought of what a
girl I would be if I was to have a mother--how good I would be too--how
kind to her--how I would love her, an’ how she would love me, an’ then
my heart would sink when I’d think of home--ay, an’ when Nelly would
spake cruelly an’ harshly to me I’d feel as if I could kill her, or any
one.”

Her eye here caught Mave Sullivan’s, and she again started.

“What is this?” she exclaimed; “am I still in the shed? Mave
Sullivan!--help me up, Biddy.”

“I am here, dear Sarah,” replied the gentle girl--“I am here; keep
yourself quiet and don’t attempt to sit up; you’re not able to do it.”

The composed and serene aspect of Mave, and the kind, touching tones
of her voice, seemed to operate favorably upon her, and to aid her
in collecting her confused and scattered thoughts into something like
order.

“Oh, dear Mave,” said she, “what is this? What has happened? Isn’t there
something wrong? I’m confused. Have I a mother? Have I a livin’ mother,
that will love me?”

Her large eyes suddenly sparkled with singular animation as she asked
the last question, and Mave thought it was the most appropriate moment
to make the mother known to her.

“You have, dear Sarah, an’ here she is waitin’ to clasp you to her
heart, an’ give you her blessin’.”

“Where?” she exclaimed, starting up in her bed, as if in full health;
“my mother! where?--where?”

She held her arms out towards her, for Mave had again assumed the
mother’s station at her bedside, and the latter stood at a little
distance. On seeing her daughter’s arms widely extended towards her, she
approached her, but whether checked by Sarah’s allusion to her conduct,
or from a wish to spare her excitement, or from some natural coldness
of disposition, it is difficult to say, she did it with so little
appearance of the eager enthusiasm that the heart of the latter
expected, and with a manner so singularly cool and unexcited, that
Sarah, whose feelings were always decisive and rapid as lightning, had
time to recognize her features as Hanlon’s aunt whom she had seen and
talked to before.

But that was not all; she perceived not in her these external
manifestations of strong affection and natural tenderness for which her
own heart yearned almost convulsively; there was no sparkling glance--no
precipitate emotion--no gushing of tears--no mother’s love--in short,
nothing of what her noble and loving spirit could, recognize as
kindred to itself, and to her warm and impulsive heart. The moment--the
glance--that sought and found not what it looked for--were decisive: the
arms that had been extended remained extended still, but the spirit
of that attitude was changed, as was that eager and tumultuous delight
which had just flashed from her countenance. Her thoughts, as we said,
were quick, and in almost a moment’s time she appeared to be altogether
a different individual.

“Stop!” she exclaimed, now repelling instead of soliciting the
embrace--“there isn’t the love of a mother in that woman’s heart--an’
what did I hear?--that she swore my father’s life away--her husband’s
life away. No, no; I’m changed--I see my father’s blood, shed by her,
too, his own wife! Look at her features, they’re hard and harsh--there’s
no love in her eyes--they’re cowld and sevare. No, no; there’s something
wrong there--I feel that--I feel it--it’s here--the feelin’s in my
heart--oh, what a dark hour this is! You were right, Biddy, you brought
me black news this day--but it won’t--it won’t throuble me long--it
won’t trouble this poor brain long--it won’t pierce this poor heart
long--I hope not. Oh!” she exclaimed, turning to Mave, and extending her
arms towards her, “Mave Sullivan, let me die!”

The affectionate but disappointed girl had all Mave’s sympathies, whose
warm and affectionate feelings recoiled from the coldness and apparent
want of natural tenderness which characterized the mother’s manner,
under circumstances in themselves so affecting. Still, after having
soothed Sarah for a few minutes, and placed her head once more upon the
pillow, she whispered to the mother, who seemed to think more than to
feel:

“Don’t be surprised; when you consider the state she’s in--and indeed
it isn’t to be wondered at after what she has heard--you must make every
allowance for the poor girl.”

Sarah’s emotions were now evidently in incessant play.

“Biddy,” said she, “come here again; help me up.”

“Dear Sarah,” said Mave, “you are not able to bear all this; if you
could compose yourself an’ forget everything unpleasant for a while,
till you grow strong--”

“If I could forget that my mother has no heart to love me with--that
she’s cowld and strange to me: if I could forget that she’s brought my
father to a shameful death--my father’s heart wasn’t altogether bad; no,
an’ he was wanst--I mane in his early life--a good man. I know that--I
feel that--‘dear Sarah, sleep--deep, dear Sarah’--no, bad as he is,
there was a thousand times more love and nature in the voice that spoke
them words than in a hundred women like my mother, that hasn’t yet
kissed my lips. Biddy, come here, I say--here--lift me up again.”

There was such energy, and fire, and command, in her voice and words
now, that Mave could not remonstrate any longer, nor the nurse refuse to
obey her. When she was once more placed sitting, she looked about her--

“Mother,” she said, “come here!”

And as she pronounced the word mother, a trait so beautiful, so
exquisite, so natural, and so pathetic, accompanied it, that Mave once
more wept. Her voice, in uttering the word, quivered, and softened
into tenderness, with the affection which nature itself seems to have
associated with it. Sarah herself remarked this, even in the anguish of
the moment.

“My very heart knows and loves the word,” she said. “Oh! why is it that
I am to suffer this? Is it possible that the empty name is all that’s
left me afther all? Mother, come here--I am pleadin’ for my father
now--you pleaded against him, but I always took the weakest side--here
is God now among us--you must stand before him--look your daughter in
the face--an’ answer her as you expect to meet God, when you leave this
throubled life--truth--truth now, mother, an’ nothin’ else. Mother, I
am dyin’. Now, as God is to judge you, did you ever love my father as a
wife ought?”

There was some irresistible spirit, some unaccountable power, in her
manner and language,--such command and such wonderful love of candor in
her full dark eye--that it was impossible to gainsay or withstand her.

“I will spake the thruth,” replied her mother, evidently borne away and
subdued, “although it’s against myself--to my shame an’ to my sorrow
I say it--that when I married your father, another man had my
affections--but, as I’m to appear before God, I never wronged him. I
don’t know how it is that you’ve made me confess it; but at any rate
you’re the first that ever wrung it out o’ me.”

“That will do,” replied her daughter, calmly; “that sounds like murdher
from a mother’s lips! Lay me down now, Biddy.”

Mave, who had scarcely ever taken her eyes from off her varying and busy
features, was now struck by a singular change which she observed come
over them--a change that was nothing but the shadow of death, and cannot
be described.

“Sarah!” she exclaimed; “dear, darling Sarah, what is the matter with
you? Have you got ill again?”

“Oh! my child!” exclaimed her mother--“am I to lose you this way at
last? Oh! dear Sarah, forgive me--I’m you mother, and you’ll forgive
me.”

“Mave,” said Sarah, “take this--I remember seein’ yours and mine
together not very long ago--take this lock of my hair--I think you’ll
get a pair of scissors on the corner of the shelf--cut it off with
your own hands--let it be sent to my father--an’ when he’s dyin’ a
disgraceful death, let him wear it next his heart--an’ wherever he’s to
be buried, let him have this buried with him. Let whoever will give it
to him, say that it comes from Sarah--an’ that, if she was able, she
would be with him through shame, an’ disgrace, an’ death; that she’d
support him as well as she could in his trouble--that she’d scorn the
world for him--an’ that because he said wanst in his life that he loved
her; she’d forgive him all a thousand times, an’ would lay down her life
for him.”

“You would do that, my noble girl!” exclaimed Mave, with a choking
voice.

“An’ above all things,” proceeded Sarah, “let him be told, if it can be
done, that Sarah said to him to die without fear--to bear it up like
a man, an’ not like a coward--to look manfully about him on the very
scaffold--an’--an’ to die as a man ought to die--bravely an’ without
fear--bravely an’ without fear!”

Her voice and strength were, since the last change that Mave observed,
both rapidly sinking, and her mother, anxious, if possible, to have her
forgiveness, again approached her and said:

“Dear Sarah you are angry with me. Oh! forgive me--am I not your
mother?”

The girl’s resentments, however, had all passed, and the business of her
life, and its functions, she now felt were all over--she said so--

“It’s all over, at last now, mother,” she replied--“I have no anger
now--come and kiss me. Whatever you have done, you are still my mother.
Bless me--bless your daughter Sarah, I have nothing now in my heart but
love for everybody. Tell Nelly, dear Mave, that Sarah forgave her, an’
hoped that she’d forgive Sarah. Mave, I trust that you an’ he will be
happy--that’s my last wish, an’ tell him so. Mave, there’s sweet faces
about me, sich as I seen in the shed; they’re smilin’ upon me--smilin’
upon Sarah--upon poor, hasty Sarah McGowan--that would have loved every
one. Mave, think of me sometimes--an’ let him, when he thinks of the
wild girl that loved him, look upon you, dearest Mave, an’ love you,
if possible, better for her sake. These sweet faces are about me again.
Father, I’ll be before you--die--die like a man.”

While uttering these last few sentences, which were spoken with great
difficulty, she began to pull the bedclothes about with her hands, and
whilst uttering the last word, her beautiful hand was slightly clenched,
as if helping out a sentiment so completely in accordance with her brave
spirit. These motions, however, ceased suddenly--she heaved a deep
sigh, and the troubled spirit of the kind, the generous, the erring, but
affectionate Sarah M’Gowan--as we shall call her still--passed away to
another, and, we trust, a better life. The storms of her heart and brain
were at rest forever.

Thus perished in early life one of those creatures, that sometimes seem
as if they were placed by mistake in a wrong sphere of existence. It is
impossible to say to what a height of moral grandeur and true greatness,
culture and education might have elevated, her, or to say with what
brilliancy her virtues might have shone, had heart and affections been
properly cultivated. Like some beautiful and luxuriant flower, however,
she was permitted to run into wildness and disorder for want of a
guiding hand; but no want, no absence of training, could ever destroy
its natural delicacy, nor prevent its fragrance from smelling sweet,
even in the neglected situation where it was left to pine and die.

There is little now to be added. “Time, the consoler,” passes not in
vain even over the abodes of wretchedness and misery. The sufferings
of that year of famine we have endeavored to bring before those who may
have the power in their hands of assuaging the similar horrors which are
likely to visit this. The pictures we have given are not exaggerated,
but drawn from memory and the terrible realities of 1817.

It is unnecessary to add, that when sickness and the severity of winter
passed away, our lovers, Mave and young Condy Dalton, were happily
married, as they deserved to be, and occupied the farm from which the
good old man had been so unjustly expelled.

It was on the first social evening that the two families, now so happily
reconciled, spent together subsequent to the trial, that Bartle Sullivan
gratified them with the following account of his history:

“I remimber fightin’,” he proceeded, “wid Condy on that night, an’ the
devil’s own _bulliah battha_ he was. We went into a corner of the field
near the Grey Stone to decide it. All at wanst I forgot what happened,
till I found myself lyin’ upon a car wid the M’Mahons of Edinburg, that
lived ten or twelve miles beyant the mountains, at the foot of Carnmore.
They knew me, and good right they had, for I had been spakin’ to their
sister Shibby, but she wasn’t for me at the time, although I was ready
to kick my own shadow about her, God knows. Well, you see, I felt
disgraced at bein’ beaten by Con Dalton, an I was fond of her, so what
‘ud you have of us but off we went together to America, for you see she
promised to marry me if I’d go.

“They had taken me up on one of their carts, thinkin’ I was dhrunk, to
lave me for safety in the next neighbor’s house we came to. Well, she
an’ I married when we got to Boston; but God never blessed us wid a
family; and Toddy here, who tuk the life of a pedlar, came back afther
many a long year, with a good purse, and lived with us. At last I began
to long for home, and so we all came together. The Prophet’s wife was
wid us, an’ another passenger tould me that Con here had been suspected
of murdherin’ me. I got unwell in Liverpool, but I sent Toddy on before
me to make their minds aisy. As we wor talkin’ over these matthers, I
happened to mention to the woman what I had seen the night the carman
was murdhered, and I wondhered at the way she looked on hearin’ it. She
went on, but afther a time came back to Liverpool for me, an’ took the
typhus on her way home, but thank God, we were all in time to clear
the innocent and punish the guilty; ay, an’ reward the good, too, eh,
Toddy?’”

“I’ll give Mave away,” replied Toddy, “if there wasn’t another man in
Europe; an’ when I’m puttin’ your hand into Con’s, Mave, it won’t be an
empty one. Ay, an’ if your friend Sarah, the wild girl, had lived--but
it can’t be helped--death takes the young as well as the ould; and may
God prepare us all to meet Him!”

Young Richard Henderson’s anticipations were, unfortunately, too true.
On leaving Mr. Travers’ office, he returned home, took his bed, and;
in the course of one short week, had paid, by a kind of judicial
punishment, the fatal penalty of his contemplated profligacy. His father
survived him only a few months, so that there is not at this moment, one
of the name or blood of Henderson in the Grange. The old man died of a
quarrel with Jemmy Branigan, to whom he left a pension of fifty pounds a
year; and truly the grief of this aged servant after him was unique and
original.

“What’s to come o’ me?” said Jemmy, with tears in his eye; “I have
nothing to do, nobody to attend to, nobody to fight with, nothing to
disturb me or put me out of timper; I knew, however, that he would stick
to his wickedness to the last--an’ so he did, for the devil tempted him,
out of sheer malice, when he could get at me no way else, to lave me
fifty pounds a year, to kape me aisy! Sich revenge and villany, by a
dyin’ man, was never heard of. God help me, what am I to do now, or what
hand will I turn to? What is there before me but peace and quietness for
the remainder of my life?--but I won’t stand that long--an’ to lave me
fifty pounds a year, to kape me aisy! God forgive him!”

The Prophet suffered the sentence of the law, but refused all religious
consolation. Whether his daughter’s message ever reached him or not,
we have had no means of ascertaining. He died, however, as she wished,
firmly, but sullenly, and as if he despised and defied the world and
its laws. He neither admitted his guilt, nor attempted to maintain
his innocence, but passed out of existence like a man who was already
wearied with its cares, and who now felt satisfied, when it was too
late, that contempt for the laws of God and man, never leads to safety,
much loss to happiness. His only observation was the following--

“When I dreamt that young Dalton drove a nail in my coffin, little I
thought it would end this way.”

We have simply to conclude by saying that Rody Duncan was transported
for perjury; and that Nelly became a devotee, or voteen, and, as far as
one could judge, exhibited something like repentance for the sinful life
she had led with the Prophet.





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