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Title: The Return of The O'Mahony - A Novel
Author: Frederic, Harold
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE RETURN OF THE O’MAHONY

_A Novel_

By Harold Frederic

Author Of “The Lawton Girl” “Seth’s Brother’s Wife” Etc.

With Illustrations By Warren B. Davis.

New York: G. W. Dillingham Co., Publishers,

1892


[Illustration: 0010]

[Illustration: 0011]



THE RETURN OF THE O’MAHONY



CHAPTER I.--THE FATHER OF COMPANY F.

ZEKE TISDALE was the father of Company F. Not that this title had
ever been formally conferred upon him, or even recognized in terms, but
everybody understood about it. Sometimes Company F was for whole days
together exceedingly proud of the relation--but alas! more often it
viewed its parent with impatient levity, not to say contempt. In either
case, it seemed all the same to Zeke.

He was by no means the oldest man in the company, at least as
appearances went. Some there were gathered about the camp-fire, this
last night in March of ‘65, who looked almost old enough to be _his_
father--gray, gaunt, stiff-jointed old fighters, whose hard service
stretched back across four years of warfare to Lincoln’s first call for
troops, and who laughed now grimly over the joke that they had come
out to suppress the Rebellion within ninety days, and had the job still
unfinished on their hands at the end of fourteen hundred.

But Zeke, though his mud-colored hair and beard bore scarcely a trace
of gray, and neither his placid, unwrinkled face nor his lithe, elastic
form suggested age, somehow produced an impression of seniority upon all
his comrades, young and old alike. He had been in the company from the
beginning, for one thing; but that was not all. It was certain that
he had been out in Utah at the time of Albert Sidney Johnston’s
expedition--perhaps had fought under him. It seemed pretty well
established that before this Mormon episode he had been with Walker in
Nicaragua. Over the mellowing canteen he had given stray hints of even
other campaigns which his skill had illumined and his valor adorned.
Nobody ever felt quite sure how much of this was true--for Zeke had a
child’s disregard for any mere veracity which might mar the immediate
effects of his narratives--but enough passed undoubted to make him the
veteran of the company. And _that_ was not all.

For cold-blooded intrepidity in battle, for calm, clear-headed rashness
on the skirmish-line, Zeke had a fame extending beyond even his regiment
and the division to which it belonged. Men in regiments from distant
States, who met with no closer bond than that they all wore the badge
of the same army corps, talked on occasion of the fellow in the --th
New York, who had done this, that or the other dare-devil feat, and yet
never got his shoulder-straps. It was when Company F men heard this talk
that they were most proud of Zeke--proud sometimes even to the point of
keeping silence about his failure to win promotion.

But among themselves there was no secret about this failure. Once the
experiment had been made of lifting Zeke to the grade of corporal--and
the less said about its outcome the better. Still, the truth may as
well be told. Brave as any lion, or whatever beast should best typify
absolute fearlessness in the teeth of deadly peril, Zeke in times of
even temporary peace left a deal to be desired. His personal habits,
or better, perhaps, the absence of them, made even the roughest of his
fellows unwilling to be his tent-mate. As they saw him lounging about
the idle camp, he was shiftless, insubordinate, taciturn and unsociable
when sober, wearisomely garrulous when drunk--the last man out of
four-score whom the company liked to think of as its father.

And Company F had had nothing to do, now, for a good while. Through the
winter it had lain in its place on the great, steel-clad intrenched
line which waited, jaws open, for the fall of Petersburg. The ready-made
railroad from City Point was at its back, and food was plenty. But now,
as spring came on--the wet, warm Virginian spring, with every meadow
a swamp, every road a morass, every piece of bright-green woodland an
impassable tangle--the strategy of the closing act in the dread drama
sent Company F away to the South and West, into the desolate backwoods
country where no roads existed, and no foraging, be it never so
vigilant, promised food. The movement really reflected Grant’s fear
lest, before the final blow was struck, Lee should retreat into the
interior. But Company F did not know what it meant, and disliked it
accordingly, and, by the end of the third day in its quarters, was both
hungry and quarrelsome.

Evening fell upon a gloomy, rain-soaked day, which the men had miserably
spent in efforts to avoid getting drenched to the skin, and in devices
to preserve dry spots upon which to sleep at night. Permission to build
a fire, which had been withheld ever since their arrival, had only come
from division headquarters an hour ago; and as they warmed themselves
now over the blaze, biting the savorless hard-tack, and sipping the
greasy fluid of beans and chicory from their tin cups, they still looked
sulkily upon the line of lights which began to dot the ridge on which
they lay, and noted the fact that their division had grown into an army
corps, almost as if it had been a grievance. Distant firing had been
heard all day, but it seemed a part of their evil luck that it _should_
be distant.

They stared, too, with a sullen indifference at the spectacle of a
sergeant who entered their camp escorting a half-dozen recruits, and,
with stiff salutation, turned them over to the captain at the door of
his tent. The men of Company F might have studied these bounty-men,
as they stood in file waiting for the company’s clerk to fill out
his receipt, with more interest, had it been realized that they were
probably the very last men to be enrolled by the Republic for the Civil
War. But nobody knew that, and the arrival of recruits was an old
story in the --th New York, which had been thrust into every available
hellpit, it seemed to the men, since that first cruel corner at Bull
Run. So they scowled at the newcomers in their fresh, clean uniforms,
as these straggled doubtfully toward the fire, and gave them no welcome
whatever.

Hours passed under the black sky, into which the hissing, spluttering
fire of green wood was too despondent to hurl a single spark. The men
stood or squatted about the smoke-ringed pile on rails and fence-boards
which they had laid to save them from the soft mud--in silence broken
only by fitful words. From time to time the monotonous call of the
sentries out in the darkness came to them like the hooting of an owl.
Sharp shadows on the canvas walls of the captain’s tent and the sound of
voices from within told them that the officers were playing poker.
Once or twice some moody suggestion of a “game” fell upon the smoky
air outside, but died away unanswered. It was too wet and muddy and
generally depressing. The low west wind which had risen since nightfall
carried the threat of more rain.

“Grant ain’t no good, nor any other dry-land general, in this dripping
old swamp of a country,” growled a grizzled corporal, whose mud-laden
heels had slipped off his rail. “The man we want here is Noah. This is
his job, and nobody else’s.”

“There’d be one comfort in that, anyway,” said another, well read in
the Bible. “When the rain was all over, he set up drinks.”

“Don’t you make any mistake,” put in a third. “He shut himself up in his
tent, and played his booze solitaire. He didn’t even ask in the officers
of the ark and propose a game.”

“I--I ‘ve got a small flask with me,” one of the recruits diffidently
began. “I was able to get it to-day at Dinwiddie Court House. Paid more
for it I suppose, than--”

In the friendly excitement created by the recruit’s announcement, and
his production of a flat, brown bottle, further explanation was lost.
Nobody cared how much he had paid. Two dozen of his neighbors took a
lively interest in what he had bought. The flask made its tour of only
a segment of the circle, amid a chorus of admonitions to drink fair,
and came back flatter than ever and wholly empty. But its ameliorating
effect became visible at once. One of the recruits was emboldened to
tell a story he had heard at City Point, and the veterans consented to
laugh at it. Conversation sprang up as the fire began to crackle under
a shift of wind, and the newcomers disclosed that they all had clean
blankets, and that several had an excess of chewing tobacco. At this
last, all reserve was cleared away. Veterans and recruits spat into the
fire now from a common ground of liking, and there was even some rivalry
to secure such thoughtful strangers as tent-mates.

Only one of the newcomers stood alone in the muddiest spot of the
circle, before a part of the fire which would not burn. He seemed to
have no share in the confidences of his fellow-recruits. None of their
stories or reminiscences referred to him, and neither they nor any
veteran had offered him a word during the evening.

He was obviously an Irishman, and it was equally apparent that he had
just landed. There was an indefinable something in the way he stood, in
his manner of looking at people, in the very awkwardness with which
his ill-fitting uniform hung upon him, which spoke loudly of recent
importation. This in itself would have gone some way toward prejudicing
Company F against him, for Castle Garden recruits were rarely popular,
even in the newest regiments. But there was a much stronger reason for
the cold shoulder turned upon him.

This young man who stood alone in the mud--he could hardly have got half
through the twenties--had a repellent, low-browed face, covered with
freckles and an irregular stubble of reddish beard, and a furtive
squint in his pale, greenish-blue eyes. The whites of these eyes showed
bloodshot, even in the false light of the fire, and the swollen lines
about them spoke plainly of a prolonged carouse. They were not Puritans,
these men of Company F, but with one accord they left Andrew Linsky--the
name the roster gave him--to himself.

Time came, after the change of guard, when those who were entitled to
sleep must think of bed. The orderly-sergeant strolled up to the fire,
and dropped a saturnine hint to the effect that it would be best to
sleep with one eye open; signs pointed to a battle next day, and the
long roll might come before morning broke. Their brigade was on the
right of a line into which two corps had been dumped during the day, and
apparently this portended the hottest kind of a fight; moreover, it was
said Sheridan was on the other side of the ridge. Everybody knew what
that meant.

“We ought to be used to hot corners by this time,” said the grizzled
corporal, in comment, “but it’s the deuce to go into ’em on empty
stomachs. We’ve been on half-rations two days.”

“There’ll be the more to go round among them that’s left,” said the
sergeant, grimly, and turned on his heel.

The Irishman, pulling his feet with difficulty out of the ooze into
which they had settled, suddenly left his place and walked over to the
corporal, lifting his hand in a sidelong, clumsy salute.

“Wud ye moind tellin me, sur, where I’m to sleep?” he asked, saluting
again.

The corporal looked at his questioner, spat meditatively into the
embers, then looked again, and answered, briefly:

“On the ground.”

Linsky cast a glance of pained bewilderment, first down at the mud
into which he was again sinking, then across the fire into the black,
wind-swept night.

“God forgive me for a fool,” he groaned aloud, “to lave a counthry where
even the pigs have straw to drame on.”

“Where did you expect to sleep--in a balloon?” asked the corporal, with
curt sarcasm. Then the look of utter hopelessness on the other’s
ugly face prompted him to add, in a softer tone; “You must hunt up a
tent-mate for yourself--make friends with some fellow who’ll take you
in.”

“Sorra a wan’ll be friends wid me,” said the despondent recruit. “I’m
waitin’ yet, the furst dacent wurrud from anny of ’em.”

The corporal’s face showed that he did not specially blame them for
their exclusiveness, but his words were kindly enough.

“Perhaps I can fix you out,” he said, and sent a comprehensive glance
round the group which still huddled over the waning fire, on the other
side.

“Hughie, here’s a countryman of yours,” he called out to a lean, tall,
gray-bearded private who, seated on a rail, had taken off his wet boots
and was scraping the mud from them with a bayonet; “can you take him
in?”

“I have some one already,” the other growled, not even troubling to lift
his eyes from his task.

It happened that this was a lie, and that the corporal knew it to be
one. He hesitated for a moment, dallying with the impulse to speak
sharply. Then, reflecting that Hugh O’Mahony was a quarrelsome and
unsociable creature with whom a dispute was always a vexation to the
spirit, he decided to say nothing.

How curiously inscrutable a thing is chance! Upon that one decision
turned every human interest in this tale, and most of all, the destiny
of the sulky man who sat scraping his boots. The Wheel of Fortune, in
this little moment of silence, held him poised within the hair’s breadth
of a discovery which would have altered his career in an amazing way,
and changed the story of a dozen lives. But the corporal bit his lip and
said nothing. O’Mahony bent doggedly over his work--and the wheel rolled
on.

The corporal’s eye, roaming about the circle, fell upon the figure of a
man who had just approached the fire and stood in the full glare of
the red light, thrusting one foot close to the blaze, while he balanced
himself on the other. His ragged hair and unkempt beard were of the
color of the miry clay at his feet. His shoulders, rounded at best, were
unnaturally drawn forward by the exertion of keeping his hands in his
pockets, the while he maintained his balance. His face, of which snub
nose and grey eyes alone were visible in the frame of straggling hair
and under the shadow of the battered foragecap visor, wore a pleased,
almost merry, look in the flickering, ruddy light. He was humming a
droning sort of tune to himself as he watched the steam rise from the
wet leather.

“Zeke’s happy to-night; that means fight tomorrow, sure as God made
little fishes,” said the corporal to nobody in particular. Then he
lifted his voice:

“Have you got a place in your diggin’s for a recruit, Zeke--say just for
to-night?” he asked.

Zeke looked up, and sauntered forward to where they stood, hands still
in pockets.

“Well--I don’t know,” he drawled. “Guess so--if he don’t snore too bad.”

He glanced Linsky over with indolent gravity. It was plain that he
didn’t think much of him.

“Got a blanket?” he asked, abruptly.

“I have that,” the Irishman replied.

“Anything to drink?”

Linsky produced from his jacket pocket a flat, brown bottle, twin
brother to that which had been passed about the camp-fire circle earlier
in the evening, and held it up to the light.

“They called it whiskey,” he said, in apology; “an’ be the price I paid
fur it, it moight a’ been doimonds dissolved in angel’s tears; but the
furst sup I tuk of it, faith, I thought it ’ud tear th’ t’roat from
me!”

Zeke had already linked Linsky’s arm within his own, and he reached
forth now and took the bottle.

“It’s p’zen to a man that ain’t used to it,” he said, with a grave wink
to the corporal. “Come along with me, Irish; mebbe if you watch me close
you can pick up points about gittin’ the stuff down without injurin’
your throat.”

And, with another wink, Zeke led his new-found friend away from the
fire, picking his steps through the soft mud, past dozens of little
tents propped up with rails and boughs, walking unconsciously toward a
strange, new, dazzling future.



CHAPTER II--THE VIDETTE POST.

Zeke’s tent--a low and lop-sided patchwork of old blankets, strips of
wagon-covering and stray pieces of cast-off clothing--was pitched on the
high ground nearest to the regimental sentry line. At its back one could
discern, by the dim light of the camp-fires, the lowering shadows of
a forest. To the west a broad open slope descended gradually, its
perspective marked to the vision this night by red points of light,
diminishing in size as they receded toward the opposite hill’s dead wall
of blackness. Upon the crown of this wall, nearly two miles distant,
Zeke’s sharp eyes now discovered still other lights which had not been
visible before.

“Caught sight of any Rebs yet since you been here, Irish?” he asked, as
the two stood halted before his tent.

“I saw some prisoners at what they call City Point, th’ day before
yesterday--the most starved and miserable divils ever I laid eyes on.
That’s what I thought thin, but I know betther now. Sure they were
princes compared wid me this noight.”

“Well, it’s dollars to doughnuts them are their lights over yonder on
the ridge,” said Zeke.

“You’ll see enough of ’em to-morrow to last a lifetime.”

Linksy looked with interest upon the row of dim sparks which now crowned
the whole long crest. He had brought his blanket, knapsack and rifle
from the stacks outside company headquarters, and stood holding them as
he gazed.

“Faith,” he said at last, “if they’re no more desirous of seeing me than
I am thim, there’s been a dale of throuble wasted in coming so far for
both of us.”

Zeke, for answer, chuckled audibly, and the sound of this was succeeded
by a low, soft gurgling noise, as he lifted the flask to his mouth and
threw back his head. Then, after a satisfied “A-h!” he said:

“Well, we’d better be turning in now,” and kicked aside the door-flap of
his tent.

“And is it here we’re to sleep?” asked Linsky, making out with
difficulty the outlines of the little hut-like tent.

“I guess there won’t be much sleep about it, but this is our shebang.
Wait a minute.” He disappeared momentarily within the tent, entering it
on all-fours, and emerged with an armful of sticks and paper. “Now you
can dump your things inside there. I’ll have a fire out here in the jerk
of a lamb’s tail.”

The Irishman crawled in in turn, and presently, by the light of the
blaze his companion had started outside, was able to spread out his
blanket in some sort, and even to roll himself up in it, without
tumbling the whole edifice down. There was a scant scattering of straw
upon which to lie, but underneath this he could feel the chill of the
damp earth. He managed to drag his knapsack under his head to serve as a
pillow, and then, shivering, resigned himself to fate.

The fire at his feet burned so briskly that soon he began to be
pleasantly conscious of its warmth stealing through the soles of his
thick, wet soles.

“I’m thinkin’ I’ll take off me boots,” he called out. “Me feet are just
perished wid the cold.”

“No. You couldn’t get ’em on again, p’r’aps, when we’re called, and I
don’t want any such foolishness as that. When we get out, it’ll have to
be at the drop of the hat--double quick. How many rounds of cartridges
you got?”

“This bag of mine they gave me is that filled wid ’em the weight of it
would tip an outside car.”

“Can you shoot?”

“I don’t know if I can. I haven’t tried that same yet.”

A long silence ensued, Zeke squatting on a cracker-box beside the fire,
flask in hand, Linsky concentrating his attention upon the warmth at the
soles of his feet, and drowsily mixing up the Galtee Mountains with the
fire-crowned hills of a strange, new world, upon one of which he lay.
Then all at once he was conscious that Zeke had crept into the tent, and
was lying curled close beside him, and that the fire outside had sunk
to a mass of sparkless embers. He half rose from his recumbent posture
before these things displaced his dreams; then, as he sank back again,
and closed his eyes to settle once more into sleep, Zeke spoke:

“Don’t do that again! You got to lie still here, or you’ll bust the
hull combination. If you want to turn over, tell me, and we’ll flop
together--otherwise you’ll have the thing down on our heads.” There came
another pause, and Linsky almost believed himself to be asleep again.
But Zeke was wakeful.

“Say, Irish,” he began, “that country of yourn must be a pretty tough
place, if this kind of thing strikes you fellows as an improvement on
it.”

“Sur,” said Linsky, with sleepy dignity, “ther’s no other counthry on
earth fit to buckle Ireland’s shoe’s--no offence to you.”

“Yes, you always give us that; but if it’s so fine a place, why in
------ don’t you stay there? What do you all pile over here for?”

“I came to America on business,” replied Linsky, stiffly.

“Business of luggin’ bricks up a ladder!”

“Sur, I’m a solicitor’s clark.”

“How do you mean--‘Clark?’ Thought your name was Linsky?”

“It’s what you call ‘clurk’--a lawyer’s clurk--and I’ll be a lawyer
mesilf, in toime.”

“That’s worse still. There’s seven hundred times as many lawyers here
already as anybody wants.”

“I had no intintion of stoppin’. My business was to foind a certain
man, the heir to a great estate in Ireland, and thin to returrun; but
I didn’t foind my man--and--sure, it’s plain enough I didn’t returrun,
ayether; and I’ll go to sleep now, I’m thinkin’.” Zeke paid no attention
to the hint.

“Go on,” he said. “Why didn’t you go back, Irish?”

“It’s aisy enough,” Linsky replied, with a sigh. “Tin long weeks was
I scurryin’ from wan ind of the land to the other, lukkin’ for this
invisible divil of a Hugh O’Mahony”--Zeke stretched out his feet here
with a sudden movement, unnoted by the other--“makin’ inquiries here,
foindin’ traces there, gettin’ laughed at somewhere else, till me heart
was broke entoirely. ‘He’s in the army,’ says they. ‘Whereabouts?’ says
I. Here, there, everwhere they sint me on a fool’s errand. Plintv of
places I came upon where he had been, but divil a wan where he was; and
thin I gave it up and wint to New York to sail, and there I made some
fri’nds, and wint out wid ’em and they spoke fair, and I drank wid
’em, and, faith, whin I woke I was a soldier, wid brass buttons on
me and a gun; and that’s the truth of it--worse luck! And _now_ I’ll
sleep!”

“And this Hugh What-d’ye-call-him--the fellow you was huntin’
after--where did he live before the war?”

“’Twas up in New York State--a place they call Tecumsy--he’d been a
shoemaker there for years. I have here among me papers all they know
about him and his family there. It wan’t much, but it makes his identity
plain, and that’s the great thing.”

“And what d’ye reckon has become of him?”

“If ye ask me in me capacity as solicitor’s clark, I’d say that, for
purposes of law, he’d be aloive till midsummer day next, and thin doy be
process of statutory neglict, and niver know it as long as he lives; but
if you ask me proivate opinion, he’s as dead as a mackerel; and, if he
isn’t, he will be in good toime, and divil a ha’porth of shoe-leather
will I waste more on him. And now good-noight to ye, sur!”

Linsky fell to snoring before any reply came. Zeke had meant to tell
him that they were to rise at three and set out upon a venturesome
vidette-post expedition together. He wondered now what it was that had
prompted him to select this raw and undrilled Irishman as his comrade in
the enterprise which lay before him. Without finding an answer, his mind
wandered drowsily to another question--Ought O’Mahony to be told of the
search for him or not? That vindictive and sullen Hughie should be heir
to anything seemed an injustice to all good fellows; but heir to what
Linsky called a great estate!--that was ridiculous! What would an
ignorant cobbler like him do with an estate?

Zeke was not quite clear in his mind as to what an “estate” was, but
obviously it must be something much too good for O’Mahony. And why, sure
enough! Only a fortnight before, while they were still at Fort Davis,
this O’Mahony had refused to mend his boot for him, even though his
frost-bitten toes had pushed their way to the daylight between the sole
and upper. Zeke could feel the toes ache perceptibly as he thought on
this affront. Sleepy as he was, it grew apparent to him that O’Mahony
would probably never hear of that inheritance; and then he went off
bodily into dream-land, and was the heir himself, and violently resisted
O’Mahony’s attempts to dispossess him, and--and then it was three
o’clock, and the sentry was rolling him to and fro on the ground with
his foot to wake him.

“Sh-h! Keep as still as you can,” Zeke admonished the bewildered Linsky,
when he, too, had been roused to consciousness. “We mustn’t stir up the
camp.”

“Is it desertin’ ye are?” asked the Irishman, rubbing his eyes and
sitting upright.

“Sh-h! you fool--no! Feel around for your gun and knapsack and cap, and
bring ’em out,” whispered Zeke from the door of the tent.

Linsky obeyed mechanically, groping in the utter darkness for what
seemed to him an age, and then crawling awkwardly forth. As he rose to
his feet, he could hardly distinguish his companion standing beside him.
Only faint, dusky pillars of smoke, reddish at the base, gray above,
rising like slenderest palms to fade in the obscurity overhead, showed
where the fires in camp had been. The clouded sky was black as ink.

“Fill your pockets with cartridges,” he heard Zeke whisper. “We’ll
prob’ly have to scoot for our lives. We don’t want no extra load of
knapsacks.”

It strained Linsky’s other perceptions even more than it did his sight
to follow his comrade in the tramp which now began. He stumbled over
roots and bushes, sank knee-deep in swampy holes, ran full tilt into
trees and fences, until it seemed to him they must have traveled miles,
and he could hardly drag one foot after the other. The first shadowy
glimmer of dawn fell upon them after they had accomplished a short but
difficult descent from the ridge and stood at its foot, on the edge of
a tiny, alder-fringed brook. The Irishman sat down on a fallen log for a
minute to rest; the while Zeke, as fresh and cool as the morning itself,
glanced critically about him.

“Yes, here we are,” he said as last. “We can strike through here, get up
the side hill, and sneak across by the hedge into the house afore it’s
square daylight. Come on, and no noise now!”

Linsky took up his gun and followed once more in the other’s footsteps
as well as might be. The growing light from the dull-gray east made it
a simpler matter now to get along, but he still stumbled so often that
Zeke cast warning looks backward upon him more than once. At last they
reached the top of the low hill which had confronted them.

It was near enough to daylight for Linsky to see, at the distance of an
eighth of a mile, a small, red farm-house, flanked by a larger barn.
A tolerably straight line of thick hedge ran from close by where they
stood, to within a stone’s throw of the house. All else was open pasture
and meadow land.

“Now bend your back,” said Zeke. “We’ve got to crawl along up this
side of the fence till we git opposite that house, and then, somehow or
other, work across to it without bein’ seen.”

“Who is it that would see us?”

“Why, you blamed fool, them woods there”--pointing to a long strip of
undergrowth woodland beyond the house--“are as thick with Johnnies as a
dog is with fleas.”

“Thin that house is no place for any dacent man to be in,” said Linsky;
but despite this conviction he crouched down close behind Zeke
and followed him in the stealthy advance along the hedge. It was
back-breaking work, but Linsky had stalked partridges behind the
ditch-walls of his native land, and was able to keep up with his guide
without losing breath.

“Faith, it’s loike walking down burrds,” he whispered ahead; “only that
it’s two-legged partridges we’re after this toime.”

“How many legs have they got in Ireland?” Zeke muttered back over his
shoulder.

“Arrah, it’s milking-stools I had in moind,” returned Linsky, readily,
with a smile.

“Sh-h! Don’t talk. We’re close now.”

Sure enough, the low roof and the top of the big square chimney of stone
built outside the red clapboard end of the farmhouse were visible near
at hand, across the hedge. Zeke bade Linsky sit down, and opening the
big blade of a huge jackknife, began to cut a hole through the thorns.
Before this aperture had grown large enough to permit the passage of a
man’s body, full daylight came. It was not a very brilliant affair, this
full daylight, for the morning was overcast and gloomy, and the woods
beyond the house, distant some two hundred yards, were half lost in
mist. But there was light enough for Linsky, idly peering through the
bushes, to discern a grey-coated sentry pacing slowly along the edge of
the woodland. He nudged Zeke, and indicated the discovery by a gesture.

Zeke nodded, after barely lifting his eyes, and then pursued his
whittling.

“I saw him when we first come,” he said, calmly.

“And is it through this hole we’re goin’ out to be kilt?”

“You ask too many questions, Irish,” responded Zeke. He had finished
his work and put away the knife. He rolled over now to a half-recumbent
posture, folded his hands under his head, and asked:

“How much bounty did you git?”

“Is it me? Faith, I was merely a disbursing agent in the thransaction.
They gave me a roll of paper notes, they said, but divil a wan could I
foind when I come to mesilf and found mesilf a soldier. It’s thim new
fri’nds o’ moine that got the bounty.”

“So you didn’t enlist to git the money?”

“Sorra a word did I know about enlistin’, or bounty, or anything else,
for four-and-twenty hours afther the mischief was done. Is it money that
’ud recompinse a man for sittin’ here in the mud, waitin’ to be blown
to bits by a whole plantation full of soldiers, as I am here, God help
me? Is it money you say? Faith, I’ve enough to take me back to Cork
twice over. What more do I want? And I offered the half of it to the
captain, or gineral, or whatever he was, to lave me go, when I found
what I’d done; but he wouldn’t hearken to me.”

Zeke rolled over to take a glance through the hedge.

“Tell me some more about that fellow you were tryin’ to find,” he said,
with his gaze fixed on the distant sentry. “What’ll happen now that you
haven’t found him?”

“If he remains unknown until midsummer-day next, the estate goes to some
distant cousins who live convanient to it.”

“And he can’t touch it after that, s’posin’ he should turn up?”

“The law of adverse possession is twinty years, and only five of ’em
have passed. No; he’d have a claim these fifteen years yet. But rest
aisy. He’ll never be heard of.”

“And you wrote and told ’em in Ireland that he couldn’t be found?”

“That I did--or--Wait now! What I wrote was that he was in the army, and
I was afther searching for him there. Sure, whin I got to New York, what
with the fri’nds and the drink and--and this foine soldiering of moine,
I niver wrote at all. It’s God’s mercy I didn’t lose me papers on top of
it all, or it would be if I was likely ever to git out of this aloive.”

Zeke lay silent and motionless for a time, watching the prospect through
this hole in the hedge.

“Hungry, Irish?” he asked at last, with laconic abruptness.

“I’ve a twist on me like the County Kerry in a famine year.”

“Well, then, double yourself up and follow me when I give the word. I’ll
bet there’s something to eat in that house. Give me your gun. We’ll put
them through first. That’s it. Now, then, when that fellow’s on t’other
side of the house. _Now!_”

With lizard-like swiftness, Zeke made his way through the aperture, and,
bending almost double, darted across the wet sward toward the house.

Linsky followed him, doubting not that the adventure led to certain
death, but hoping that there would be breakfast first.



CHAPTER III--LINSKY’S BRIEF MILITARY CAREER.

Zeke, though gliding over the slippery ground with all the speed at
his command, had kept a watch on the further corner of the house.
He straightened himself now against the angle of the projecting,
weather-beaten chimney, and drew a long breath.

“He didn’t see us,” he whispered reassuringly to Linsky, who had also
drawn up as flatly as possible against the side of the house.

“Glory be to God!” the recruit ejaculated.

After a brief breathing spell, Zeke ventured out a few feet, and looked
the house over. There was a single window on his side, opening upon
the ground floor. Beckoning to Linsky to follow, lie stole over to the
window, and standing his gun against the clapboards, cautiously tested
the sash. It moved, and Zeke with infinite pains lifted it to the top,
and stuck his knife in to hold it up. Then, with a bound, he raised
himself on his arms, and crawled in over the sill.

It was at this moment, as Linsky for the first time stood alone, that
a clamorous outburst of artillery-fire made the earth quiver under his
feet. The crash of noises reverberated with so many echoes from hill
to hill that he had no notion whence they had proceeded, or from what
distance. The whole broad vailey before him, with its sodden meadows and
wet, mist-wrapped forests showed no sign of life or motion. But from
the crest of the ridge which they had quitted before daybreak there rose
now, and whitened the gray of the overhanging clouds, a faint film
of smoke--while suddenly the air above him was filled with a strange
confusion of unfamiliar sounds, like nothing so much as the hoarse
screams of a flock of giant wild-fowl; and then this affrighting babel
ceased as swiftly as it had arisen, and he heard the thud and swish of
splintered tree-tops and trunks falling in the woodland at the back of
the house. The Irishman reasoned it out that they were firing from the
hill he had left, over at the hill upon which he now stood, and was not
comforted by the discovery.

While he stared at the ascending smoke and listened to the din of the
cannonade, he felt himself sharply poked on the shoulder, and started
nervously, turning swiftly, gun in hand. It was Zeke, who stood at the
window, and had playfully attracted his attention with one of the long
sides of bacon which the army knew as “sow-bellies.” He had secured two
of these, which he now handed out to Linsky; then came a ham and a bag
of meal; and lastly, a twelve-quart pan of sorghum molasses. When the
Irishman had lifted down the last of these spoils, Zeke vaulted lightly
out.

“Guess we’ll have a whack at the ham,” he said cheerfully. “It’s good
raw.”

The two gnawed greedily at the smoked slices cut from the thick of the
ham, as became men who had been on short rations. Zeke listened to the
firing, and was visibly interested in noting all that was to be seen
and guessed of its effects and purpose, meanwhile, but the ham was an
effectual bar to conversation.

Suddenly the men paused, their mouths full, their senses alert. The
sound of voices rose distinctly, and close by, from the other side
of the house. Zeke took up his gun, cocked it, and crept noiselessly
forward to the corner. After a moment’s attentive listening here, and
one swift, cautious peep, he tiptoed back again.

“Take half the things,” he whispered, pointing to the provisions, “and
we’ll get back again to the fence. There’s too many of ’em for us to
try and hold the house. They’d burn us alive in there!”

The pan of sorghum fell to Linsky’s care, and Zeke, with both guns and
all the rest in some mysterious manner bestowed about him, made his way,
crouching and with long strides, toward the hedge. He got through the
hole undiscovered, dragging his burden after him. Then he took the
pan over the hedge, while Linsky should in turn crawl through. But the
burlier Irishman caught in the thorns, slipped, and clutched Zeke’s arm,
with the result that the whole contents of the pan were emptied upon
Linsky’s head.

Then Zeke did an unwise thing. He cast a single glance at the spectacle
his comrade presented--with the thick, dark molasses covering his
cap like an oilskin, soaking into his hair, and streaming down his
bewildered face in streaks like an Indian’s war-paint--and then burst
forth in a resounding peal of laughter.

On the instant two men in gray, with battered slouch hats and guns,
appeared at the corner of the house, looking eagerly up and down the
hedge for some sign of a hostile presence. Zeke had dropped to his knees
in time to prevent discovery. It seemed to be with a part of the same
swift movement that he lifted his gun, sighted it as it ran through the
thorns, and fired. While the smoke still curled among the branches and
spiked twigs, he had snatched up Linsky’s gun and fire a second shot.
The two men in gray lay sprawling and clutching at the wet grass, one on
top of the other.

[Illustration: 0039]

“Quick, Irish! We must make a break!” Zeke hissed at Linsky. “Grab what
you can and run!”

Linsky, his eyes and mouth full of molasses, and understanding nothing
at all of what had happened, found himself a moment later careering
blindly and in hot haste down the open slope, the ham and the bag of
meal under one arm, his gun in the other hand. A dozen minie-bullets
sang through the damp air about him as he tore along after Zeke, and he
heard vague volleys of cheering arise from the meadow to his right; but
neither stopped his course.

It was barely three minutes--though to Linsky, at least, it seemed an
interminable while--before the two came to a halt by a clump of trees
on the edge of the ravine. In the shelter of these broad hemlock trunks
they stood still, panting for breath. Then Zeke looked at Linsky again,
and roared with laughter till he choked and went into a fit of coughing.

The Irishman had thrown down his provisions and gun, and seated himself
on the roots of his tree. He ruefully combed the sticky fluid from his
hair and stubble beard with his fingers now, and strove to clean his
face on his sleeve. Between the native temptation to join in the other’s
merriment and the strain of the last few minutes’ deadly peril, he could
only blink at Zeke, and gasp for breath.

“Tight squeak--eh, Irish?” said Zeke at last, between dying-away
chuckles.

“And tell me, now,” Linsky began, still panting heavily, his besmeared
face red with the heat of the chase, “fwat the divil were we doin’ up
there, anny-way? No Linsky or Lynch--’tis the same name--was ever
called coward yet--but goin’ out and defoyin’ whole armies single-handed
is no fit worrk for solicitors’ clarks. Spacheless and sinseless though
I was with the dhrink, sure, if they told me I was to putt down the
Rebellion be meself, I’d a’ had the wit to decloine.”

“That was a vidette post we were on,” explained Zeke.

“There’s a shorter name for it--God save us both from goin’ there. But
fwat was the intintion? ’Tis that that bothers me entoirely.”

“Look there!” was Zeke’s response. He waved his hand comprehensively
over the field they had just quitted, and the Irishman rose to his feet
and stepped aside from his tree to see.

The little red farm-house was half hidden in a vail of smoke. Dim
shadows of men could be seen flitting about its sides, and from these
shadows shot forth tongues of momentary flame. The upper end of the
meadow was covered thick with smoke, and through this were visible dark
masses of men and the same spark-like flashing of fiery streaks. Along
the line of the hedge, closer to the house, still another wall of smoke
arose, and Linsky could discern a fringe of blue-coated men lying
flat under the cover of the thorn-bushes, whom he guessed to be
sharp-shooters.

“That’s what we went up there for--to start that thing a-goin’,” said
Zeke, not without pride. “See the guide--that little flag there by the
bushes? That’s our regiment. They was comin’ up as we skedaddled out.
Didn’t yeh hear ’em cheer? They was cheerin’ for us, Irish--that is,
some for us and a good deal for the sow-bellies and ham.”

No answer came, and Zeke stood for a moment longer, taking in with his
practiced gaze the details of the fight that was raging before him.
Half-spent bullets were singing all about him, but he seemed to give
them no more thought than in his old Adirondack home he had wasted
on mosquitoes. The din and deafening rattle of this musketry war had
kindled a sparkle in his gray eyes.

“There they go, Irish! Gad! we’ve got ’em on the run! We kin scoot
across now and jine our men.”

Still no answer. Zeke turned, and, to his amazement, saw no Linsky
at his side. Puzzled, he looked vaguely about among the trees for an
instant. Then his wandering glance fell, and the gleam of battle died
out of his eyes as he saw the Irishman lying prone at his very feet, his
face flat in the wet moss and rotting leaves, an arm and leg bent
under the prostrate body. So wrapt had Zeke’s senses been in the noisy
struggle outside, he had not heard his comrade’s fall.

The veteran knelt, and gently turned Linsky over on his back. A
wandering ball had struck him in the throat. The lips were already
colorless, and from their corners a thin line of bright blood had oozed
to mingle grotesquely with the molasses on the unshaven jaw. To
Zeke’s skilled glance it was apparent that the man was mortally
wounded--perhaps already dead, for no trace of pulse or heartbeat
could be found. He softly closed the Irishman’s eyes, and put the
sorghum-stained cap over his face.

Zeke rose and looked forth again upon the scene of battle. His regiment
had crossed the fence and gained possession of the farm-house, from
which they were firing into the woods beyond. Further to the left,
through the mist of smoke which hung upon the meadow, he could see that
large masses of troops in blue were being pushed forward. He thought he
would go and join his company. He would tell the fellows how well Linsky
had behaved. Perhaps, after the fight was all over, he would lick Hugh
O’Mahony for having spoken so churlishly to him.

He turned at this and looked down again upon the insensible Linsky.

“Well, Irish, you had sand in your gizzard, anyway,” he said, aloud.
“I’ll whale the head off ’m O’Mahony, jest on your account.”

Then, musing upon some new ideas which these words seem to have
suggested, he knelt once more, and, unbuttoning Linsky’s jacket, felt
through his pockets.

He drew forth a leather wallet and a long linen-lined envelope
containing many papers. The wallet had in it a comfortable looking
roll of green, backs, but Zeke’s attention was bestowed rather upon the
papers.

“So these would give O’Mahony an estate, eh?” he pondered, half aloud,
turning them over. “It ’ud be a tolerable good bet that he never lays
eyes on ’em. We’ll fix that right now, for fear of accidents.”

He began to kick about in the leaves, as he rose a second time, thinking
hard upon the problem of what to do with the papers. He had no matches.
He might cut down a cartridge, and get a fire by percussion--but that
would take time. So, for that matter, would digging a hole to bury the
papers.

All at once his abstracted face lost its lines of labor, and brightened
radiantly. He thrust wallet and envelope into his own pocket, and
smilingly stepped forward once more to see what the field of battle was
like. The farm-house had become the headquarters of a general and
his staff, and the noise of fighting had passed away to the furthest
confines of the woods.

“This darned old campaign won’t last up’ard of another week,” he said,
in satisfied reverie. “I reckon I’ve done my share in it, and somethin’
to lap over on the next. Nobody ’ll be a cent the wuss off if I turn
up missin’ now.”

Gathering up the provisions and his gun, Zeke turned abruptly, and
made his way down the steep side-hill into the forest, each long stride
bearing him further from Company F’s headquarters.



CHAPTER IV.--THE O’MAHONY ON ERIN’S SOIL.

It became known among the passengers on the _Moldavian_, an hour or so
before bedtime on Sunday evening, April 23, 1865, that the lights to
be seen in the larboard distance were really on the Irish coast. The
intelligence ran swiftly through all quarters of the vessel. Its truth
could not be doubted; the man on the bridge said that it truly was
Ireland; and if he had not said so, the ship’s barber had.

Excitement over the news reached its highest point in the steerage,
two-thirds of the inmates of which hung now lovingly upon the port rail
of the forward deck, to gaze with eager eyes at the far-off points of
radiance glowing through the soft northern spring night.

Farther down the rail, from the obscurity of the jostling throng, a
stout male voice sent up the opening bars of the dear familiar song,
“The Cove of Cork.” The ballad trembled upon the air as it progressed,
then broke into something like sobs, and ceased.

“Ah, Barney,” a sympathetic voice cried out, “’tis no longer the Cove;
’tis Queenstown they’re after calling it now. Small wandher the song
won’t listen to itself be sung!”

“But they haven’t taken the Cove away--God bless it!” the other
rejoined, bitterly. “’Tis there, beyant the lights, waitin’ for its
honest name to come back to it when--when things are set right once
more.”

“Is it the Cove you think you see yonder?” queried another, captiously.
“Thim’s the Fastnet and Cape Clear lights. We’re fifty miles and more
from Cork.”

“Thin if ’twas daylight,” croaked an old man between coughs, “we’d
be in sight of The O’Mahony’s castles, or what bloody Cromwell left of
them.”

“It’s mad ye are, Martin,” remonstrated a female voice. “The’re laygues
beyant on Dunmanus Bay. Wasn’t I born mesilf at Durrus?”

“The O’Mahony of Murrisk is on board,” whispered some one else,
“returnin’ to his estates. I had it this day from the cook’s helper. The
quantity of mate that same O’Mahony’s been ’atin’! An’ dhrink, is it?
Faith, there’s no English nobleman could touch him!”

On the saloon deck, aft, the interest excited by these distant lights
was less volubly eager, but it had sufficed to break up the card-games
in the smoking-room, and even to tempt some malingering passengers from
the cabins below. Such talk as passed among the group lounging along
the rail, here in the politer quarter, bore, for the most part, upon the
record of the _Moldavian_ on this and past voyages, as contrasted with
the achievements of other steamships. No one confessed to reverential
sensations in looking at the lights, and no one lamented the change
of name which sixteen years before, had befallen the Cove of Cork;
but there was the liveliest speculation upon the probabilities of the
_Bahama_, which had sailed from New York the same day, having beaten
them into the south harbor of Cape Clear, where, in those exciting war
times, before the cable was laid, every ocean steamer halted long enough
to hurl overboard its rubber-encased budget of American news, to be
scuffled for in the swell by the rival oarsmen of the cape, and borne by
the successful boat to the island, where relays of telegraph clerks
then waited day and night to serve Europe with tidings of the republic’s
fight for life.

This concentration of thought upon steamer runs and records, to the
exclusion of interest in mere Europe, has descended like a mantle upon
the first-cabin passengers of our own later generation. But the voyagers
in the _Moldavian_ had a peculiar warrant for their concern. They had
left America on Saturday, April 15, bearing with them the terrible news
of Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s Theatre, the previous evening, and
it meant life-long distinction--in one’s own eyes at least--to be the
first to deliver these tidings to an astounded Old World. Eight days’
musing on this chance of greatness had brought them to a point where
they were prepared to learn with equanimity that the rival _Bahama_
had struck a rock outside, somewhere. One of their number, a little
Jew diamond merchant, now made himself quite popular by relating his
personal recollections of the calamity which befel her sister ship, the
_Anglia_, eighteen months ago, when she ran upon Blackrock in Galway
harbor.

One of these first-cabin passengers, standing for a time irresolutely
upon the outskirts of this gossiping group, turned abruptly when the
under-sized Hebrew addressed a part of his narrative to him, and walked
off alone into the shadows of the stern. He went to the very end, and
leaned over the taff-rail, looking down upon the boiling, phosphorescent
foam of the vessel’s wake. He did not care a button about being able to
tell Europe of the murder of Lincoln and Seward--for when they left
the secretary was supposed, also, to have been mortally wounded. His
anxieties were of a wholly different sort.

He, The O’Mahony of Muirisc, was plainly but warmly clad, with a new,
shaggy black overcoat buttoned to the chin, and a black slouch hat drawn
over his eyes. His face was clean shaven, and remarkably free from lines
of care and age about the mouth and nostrils, though the eyes were
set in wrinkles. The upper part of the face was darker and more
weather-beaten, too, than the lower, from which a shrewd observer might
have guessed that until very recently he had always worn a beard.

There were half a dozen shrewd observers on board the _Moldavian_ among
its cabin passengers--men of obvious Irish nationality, whose manner
with one another had a certain effect of furtiveness, and who were
described on the ship’s list by distinctively English names, like
Potter, Cooper and Smith; and they had watched the O’Mahony of Muirisc
very closely during the whole voyage, but none of them had had doubts
about the beard, much less about the man’s identity. In truth, they
looked from day to day for him to give some sign, be it never so
slight, that his errand to Ireland was a political one. They were all
Fenians--among the advance guard of that host of Irishmen who returned
from exile at the close of the American War--and they took it for
granted that the solitary and silent O’Mahony was a member of the
Brotherhood. The more taciturn he grew, the more he held aloof, the
firmer became their conviction that his rank in the society was exalted
and his mission important. The very fact that he would not be drawn into
conversation and avoided their company was proof conclusive. They left
him alone, but watched him with lynx-like scrutiny.

The O’Mahony had been conscious of this ceaseless observation, and he
mused upon it now as he watched the white whirl of churned waters below.
The time was close at hand when he should know whether it had meant
anything or not; there was comfort in that, at all events. He was less
a coward than any other man he knew, but, all the same, this unending
espionage had worn upon his nerve. Doubtless, that was in part because
sea-voyaging was a novelty to him. He had not been ill for a moment.
In fact, he could not remember to have ever eaten and drunk more in
any eight days of his life. If it had not been for the confounded
watchfulness of the Irishmen, he would have enjoyed the whole experience
immensely. But it was evident that they were all in collusion--“in
cahoots,” he phrased it in his mind--and had a common interest in noting
all his movements. What could it mean? Strange as it may seem, The
O’Mahony had never so much as heard of the Fenian Brotherhood.

He rose from his lounging meditation presently, and sauntered forward
again along the port deck. The lights from the coast were growing more
distinct in the distance, and, as he paused to look, he fancied he could
discern a dark line of shore below them.

“I suppose your ancistral estates are lyin’ further west, sir,” spoke
a voice at his side. The O’Mahony cast a swift half-glance around, and
recognized one of the suspected spies.

“Yes, a good deal west,” he growled, curtly.

The other took no offense.

“Sure,” he went on, pleasantly, “the O’Mahonys and the O’Driscolls, not
to mintion the McCarthys, chased each other around that counthry yonder
at such a divil of a pace it’s hard tellin’ now which belonged to who.”

“Yes, we did hustle round considerable,” assented The O’Mahony, with
frigidity.

“You’re manny years away from Ireland, sir?” pursued the man.

“Why?”

“I notice you say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ It takes a long absence to tache an
Irishman that.”

“I’ve been away nearly all my life,” said The O’Mahony, sharply--“ever
since I was a little boy and turning on his heel, he walked to the
companionway and disappeared down the stairs.

“Faith, I’m bettin’ it’s the gineral himself!” said the other, looking
after him.

*****

To have one’s waking vision greeted, on a soft, warm April morning, by
the sight of the Head of Kinsale in the sunlight--with the dark rocks
capped in tenderest verdure and washed below by milkwhite breakers;
with the smooth water mirroring the blue of the sky upon its bosom, yet
revealing as well the marbled greens of its own crystalline depths;
with the balmy scents of fresh blossoms meeting and mingling in the
languorous air of the Gulf Stream’s bringing--can there be a fairer
finish to any voyage over the waters of the whole terrestrial ball!

The O’Mahony had been up on deck before any of his fellow-passengers,
scanning the novel details of the scene before him. The vessel barely
kept itself in motion through the calm waters. The soft land breeze just
availed to turn the black column of smoke rising from the funnel into
a sort of carboniferous leaning tower. The pilot had been taken on
the previous evening. They waited now for the tug, which could be seen
passing Roche’s Point with a prodigious spluttering and splashing of
side-paddles. Before its arrival, the _Moldavian_ lay at rest within
full view of the wonderful harbor--her deck thronged with passengers
dressed now in fine shore apparel and bearing bags and rugs, who bade
each other good-bye with an enthusiasm which nobody believed in, and
edged along as near as possible where the gang-plank would be.

The O’Mahony walked alone down the plank, rebuffing the porters who
sought to relieve him of his heavy bags. He stood alone at the prow
of the tug, as it waddled and puffed on its rolling way back again,
watching the superb amphitheatre of terraced stone houses, walls, groves
and gardens toward which he had voyaged these nine long days, with an
anxious, almost gloomy face. The Fenians, still closely observing him,
grew nervous with fear that this depression forboded a discovery of
contra-brand arms in his baggage.

But no scandal arose. The custom officers searched fruitlessly through
the long platforms covered with luggage, with a half perfunctory and
wholly whimsical air, as if they knew perfectly well that the revolvers
they pretended to be looking for were really in the pockets of the
passengers. Then other good-byes, distinctly less enthusiastic,
were exchanged, and the last bonds of comradeship which life on the
_Moldavian_ had enforced snapped lightly as the gates were opened.

Everybody else seemed to know where to go. The O’Mahony stood for so
long a time just outside the gates, with his two big valises at his feet
and helpless hesitation written all over his face, that even some of
the swarm of beggars surrounding him could not wait any longer, and went
away giving him up. To the importunities of the others, who buzzed about
him like blue-bottles on a sunny window-pane, he paid no heed; but he
finally beckoned to the driver of the solitary remaining outside car,
who had been flicking his broker, whip invitingly at him, and who now
turned his vehicle abruptly round and drove it, with wild shouts
of factitious warning, straight through the group of mendicants,
overbearing their loud cries of remonstrance with his superior voice,
and cracking his whip like mad. He drew up in front of the bags with
the air of a lord mayor’s coachman, and took off his shapeless hat in
salutation.

“I want to go to the law office of White & Carmody,” The O’Mahony said,
brusquely.

[Illustration: 0055]

“Right, your honor,” the carman answered, dismounting and lifting the
luggage to the well of the car, and then officiously helping his patron
to mount to his sidelong seat. He sprang up on the other side, screamed
“Now thin, Maggie!” to his poor old horse, flipped his whip derisively
at the beggars, and started off at a little dog-trot, clucking loudly as
he went.

He drove through all the long ascending streets of Queenstown at this
shambling pace, traversing each time the whole length of the town, until
finally they gained the terraced pleasure-road at the top. Here the
driver drew rein, and waved his whip to indicate the splendid scope
of the view below--the gray roof of the houses embowered in trees, the
river’s crowded shipping, the castellated shore opposite, the broad,
island-dotted harbor beyond.

“L’uk there, now!” he said, proudly. “Have yez annything like that in
Ameriky?”

The O’Mahony cast only an indifferent glance upon the prospect,

“Yes--but where’s White & Carmody’s office?” he asked. “That’s what I
want.”

“Right, your honor,” was the reply; and with renewed clucking and
cracking of the dismantled whip, the journey was resumed. That is to
say, they wound their way back again down the hill, through all the
streets, until at last the car stopped in front of the Queen’s Hotel.

“Is it thrue what they tell me, sir, that the Prisidint is murdhered?”
 the jarvey asked, as they came to a halt.

“Yes--but where the devil is that law-office?”

“Sure, your honor, there’s no such names here at all,” the carman
replied, pleasantly. “Here’s the hotel where gintleman stop, an’ I’ve
shown ye the view from the top, an’ it’s plased I am ye had such a clear
day for it--and wud ye like to see Smith-Barry’s place, after lunch?”

The stranger turned round on his seat to the better comment upon this
amazing impudence, beginning a question harsh of purpose and profane in
form.

Then the spectacle of the ragged driver’s placidly amiable face and
roguish eye; of the funny old horse, like nothing so much in all the
world as an ancient hair-trunk with legs at the corners, yet which
was driven with the noise and ostentation of a six-horse team; of the
harness tied up with ropes; the tumble-down car; the broken whip; the
beggars--all this, by a happy chance, suddenly struck The O’Mahony in a
humorous light. Even as his angered words were on the air he smiled in
spite of himself. It was a gaunt, reluctant smile, the merest curling
of the lips at their corners; but it sufficed in a twinkling to surround
him with beaming faces. He laughed aloud at this, and on the instant
driver and beggars were convulsed with merriment.

The O’Mahony jumped off the car.

“I’ll run into the hotel and find out where I want to go,” he said.
“Wait here.”

Two minutes passed.

“These lawyers live in Cork,” he explained on his return. “It seems this
is only Queenstown. I want you to go to Cork with me.”

“Right, your honor,” said the driver, snapping his whip in preparation.

“But I don’t want to drive; it’s too much like a funeral. We ain’t
a-buryin’ anybody.”

“Is it Maggie your honor manes? Sure, there’s no finer quality of a mare
in County Cork, if she only gets dacent encouragement.”

“Yes; but we ain’t got time to encourage her. Go and put her out, and
hustle back here as quick as you can. I’ll pay you a good day’s wages.
Hurry, now; we’ll go by train.”

The O’Mahony distributed small silver among the beggars the while he
waited in front of the hotel.

“That laugh was worth a hundred dollars to me,” he said, more to himself
than to the beggars. “I hain’t laughed before since Linsky spilt the
molasses over his head.”



CHAPTER V.--THE INSTALLATION OF JERRY.

The visit to White & Carmody’s law-office had weighed heavily upon the
mind of The O’Mahony during the whole voyage across the Atlantic, and
it still was the burden of his thoughts as he sat beside Jerry
Higgins--this he learned to be the car-driver’s name--in the train which
rushed up the side of the Lea toward Cork. The first-class compartment
to which Jerry had led the way was crowded with people who had arrived
by the _Moldavian_, and who scowled at their late fellow-passenger
for having imposed upon them the unsavory presence of the carman. The
O’Mahony was too deeply occupied with his own business to observe this.
Jerry smiled blandly into the hostile faces, and hummed a “come-all-ye”
 to himself.

When, an hour or so after their arrival, The O’Mahony emerged from the
lawyers’ office the waiting Jerry scarcely knew him for the same man.
The black felt hat, which had been pulled down over his brows, rested
with easy confidence now well back on his head; his gray eyes twinkled
with a pleasant light; the long face had lost its drawn lines and
saturnine expression, and reflected content instead.

“Come along somewhere where we can get a drink,” he said to Jerry; but
stopped before they had taken a dozen steps, attracted by the sign and
street-show of a second-hand clothing shop. “Or no,” he said, “come
in here first, and I’ll kind o’ spruce you up a bit so’t you can pass
muster in society.”

When they came upon the street again, it was Jerry who was even more
strikingly metamorphosed. The captious eye of one whose soul is in
clothes might have discerned that the garments he now wore had not been
originally designed for Jerry. The sleeves of the coat were a trifle
long; the legs of the trousers just a suspicion short. But the smile
with which he surveyed the passing reflections of his improved image in
the shop-windows was all his own. He strode along jauntily, carrying the
heavy bags as if they had been mere featherweight parcels.

The two made their way to a small tavern near the quays, which Jerry
knew of, and where The O’Mahony ordered a room, with a fire in it, and a
comfortable meal to be laid therein at once.

“Sure, it’s not becomin’ that I should ate along wid your honor,” Jerry
remonstrated, when they had been left alone in the dingy little chamber,
overlooking the street and the docks beyond.

At this protest The O’Mahony lifted his brows in unaffected surprise.

“What’s the matter with _you?_” he asked, half-derisively; and no more
was said on the subject.

No more was said on any subject, for that matter, until fish had
succeeded soup, and the waiter was making ready for a third course. Then
the founder of the feast said to this menial:

“See here, you, don’t play this on me! Jest tote in whatever more you’ve
got, an’ put er down, an’ git out. We don’t want you bobbin’ in here
every second minute, all the afternoon.”

The waiter, with an aggrieved air, brought in presently a tray loaded
with dishes, which he plumped down all over The O’Mahony’s half of the
table.

“That’s somethin’ like it,” said that gentleman, approvingly; “you’ll
get the hang of your business in time, young man,” as the servant left
the room. Then he heaped up Jerry’s plate and his own, ruminated over a
mouthful or two, with his eyes searching the other’s face--and began to
speak.

“Do you know what made me take a shine to you?” he asked, and then made
answer: “’Twas on account of your dodrotted infernal cheek. It made me
laugh--an’ I’d got so it seemed as if I wasn’t never goin’ to laugh any
more. That’s why I cottoned to you--an’ got a notion you was jest the
kind o’ fellow I wanted. D’ye know who I am?”

Jerry’s quizzical eyes studied his companion’s face in turn, first
doubtingly, then with an air of reassurance.

“I do not, your honor,” he said at last, visibly restraining the
impulse to say a great deal more.

“I’m the O’Mahony of Murrisk, an’ I’m returnin’ to my estates.”

Jerry did prolonged but successful battle once more with his sense of
humor and loquacious instincts.

“All right, your honor,” he said, with humility.

“Maybe I don’t look like an Irishman or talk like one,” the other went
on, “but that’s because I was taken to America when I was a little
shaver, knee-high to a grasshopper, an’ my folks didn’t keep up no
connection with Irishmen. That’s how I lost my grip on the hull Ireland
business, don’t you see?”

“Sure, your honor, it’s as clear as Spike Island in the sunshine.”

“Well, that’s how it was. And now my relations over here have died
off--that is, all that stood in front of me--and so the estates come to
me, and I’m The O’Mahony.”

“An’ it’s proud ivery mother’s son of your tin-ints ‘ll be at that same,
your honor.”

“At first, of course, I didn’t know but the lawyers ’ud make a kick
when I turned up and claimed the thing. Generally you have to go to
law, an’ take your oath, an’ fight everybody. But, pshaw! why they jest
swallered me slick’n clean, as if I’d had my ears pinned back an’ be’n
greased all over. Never asked ‘ah,’ ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’ Didn’t raise a
single question. I guess there ain’t no White in the business now. I
didn’t see him or hear anything about him. But Carmody’s a reg’lar old
brick. They wasn’t nothin’ too good for me after he learnt who I was.
But what fetched him most was that I’d seen Abe Lincoln, close
to, dozens o’ times. He was crazy to know all about him, an’ the
assassination, an’ what I thought ’ud be the next move; so’t we hardly
talked about The O’Mahony business at all. An’ it seems ther’s been a
lot o’ shenanigan about it, too. The fellow that came out to America
to--to find me--Linsky his name was--why, darn my buttons, if he hadn’t
run away from Cork, an’ stole my papers along with a lot of others,
countin’ on peddlin’ ’em over there an’ collarin’ the money.”

“Ah, the thief of the earth!” said Jerry.

“Well, he got killed there, in about the last battle there was in the
war; an’ ’twas by the finding of the papers on him that--that I came
by my rights.”

“Glory be to God!” commented Jerry, as he buried his jowl afresh in the
tankard of stout.

A term of silence ensued, during which what remained of the food was
disposed of. Then The O’Mahony spoke again:

“Are you a man of family?”

“Well, your honor, I’ve never rightly, come by the truth of it,
but there are thim that says I’m descinded from the O’Higginses of
Westmeath. I’d not venture to take me Bible oath on it, but--”

“No, I don’t mean that. Have you got a wife an’ children?”

“Is it me, your honor? Arrah, what girl that wasn’t blind an’ crippled
an’ deminted wid fits wud take up wid the likes of me?”

“Well, what is your job down at Queenstown like? Can you leave it right
off, not to go back any more?”

“It’s no job at all. Sure, I jist take out Mikey Doolan’s car, wid that
thund’rin’ old Maggie, givin’ warnin’ to fall to pieces on the road in
front of me, for friendship--to exercise ’em like. It’s not till every
other horse and ass in Queenstown’s ingaged that anny mortial sow ’ll
ride on my car. An’ whin I gets a fare, why, I do be after that long
waitin’ that--”

“That you drive ’em up on top of the hill whether they want to go or
not, eh?” asked The O’Mahony, with a grin.

Jerry took the liberty of winking at his patron in response.

“Egor! that’s the way of it, your honor,” he said, pleasantly.

“So you don’t have to go back there at all?” pursued the other.

“Divila rayson have I for ever settin’ fut in the Cove ag’in, if your
honor has work for me elsewhere.”

“I guess I can fix that,” said The O’Mahony, speaking more slowly, and
studying his man as he spoke. “You see, I ain’t got a man in this hull
Ireland that I can call a friend. I don’t know nothin’ about your ways,
no more’n a babe unborn. It took me jest about two minutes, after I got
out through the Custom House, to figger out that I was goin’ to need
some one to sort o’ steer me--and need him powerful bad, too. Why, I
can’t even reckon in your blamed money, over here. You call a shillin’
what we’d call two shillin’s, an’ there ain’t no such thing as a dollar.
Now, I’m goin’ out to my estates, where I don’t know a livin’ soul, an’
prob’ly they’d jest rob me out o’ my eye-teeth, if I hadn’t got some one
to look after me--some one that knew his way around. D’ye see?”

The car-driver’s eyes sparkled, but he shook his curly red head with
doubt, upon reflection.

“You’ve been fair wid me, sir,” he said, after a pause, “an’ I’ll not
be behind you in honesty. You don’t know me at all. What the divil,
man!--why, I might be the most rebellious rogue in all County Cork.”
 He scratched his head with added dubiety, as he went on; “An’, for the
matter of that, faith, if you did know me, it’s some one else you’d
take. There’s no one in the Cove that ’ud give me a character.”

“You’re right,” observed The O’Mahony. “I don’t know you from a side o’
soleleather. But that’s my style. I like a fellow, or I don’t like him,
and I do it on my own hook, follerin’ my own notions, and just to suit
myself. I’ve been siz’in’ you up, all around, an’ I like the cut o’ your
gib. You might be washed up a trifle more, p’r’aps, and have your hair
cropped; but them’s details. The main point is, that I believe you’ll
act fair and square with me, an see to it that I git a straight deal!”

“Sir, I’ll go to the end of the earth for you,” said Jerry. He rose, and
by an instinctive movement, the two men shook hands across the table.

“That’s right,” said The O’Mahony, referring more to the clasping of
hands than to the vow of fealty. “That’s the way I want ’er to stand.
Don’t call me ‘yer honor,’ or any o’ that sort o’ palaver. I’ve been a
poor man all my life. I ain’t used to bossin’ niggers around, or playin’
off that I’m better’n other folks. Now that I’m returnin’ to my estates,
prob’ly I’ll have to stomach more or less of that sort o’ nonsense.
That’s one of the things I’ll want you to steer me in.”

“An’ might I be askin’, where are these estates, sir?”

“So far’s I can make out, they’re near where we come in sight of Ireland
first; it can’t be very far from here. They’re on the seashore--I
know that much. We go to Dunmanway, wherever that is, by the railroad
to-morrow, and there the lawyers have telegraphed to have the agent meet
us. From there on, we’ve got to stage it. The place itself is Murrisk,
beyond Skull--nice, comfortable, soothin’ sort o’ names you Irish have
for your towns, eh?”

“And what time’ll we be startin’ to-morrow?”

“The train leaves at noon--that is, for Dunmanway.”

“Thank God for that,” said Jerry, with a sigh of relief.

The O’Mahony turned upon him with such an obviously questioning glance
that he made haste to explain:

“I’ll be bound your honor hasn’t been to mass since--since ye were like
that grasshopper ye spoke about.”

“Mass--no--how d’ye mean? What is it?”

“Luk at that, now!” exclaimed Jerry, triumphantly. “See what ’d ’a’
come to ye if ye’d gone to your estates without knowing the first word
of your Christian obligations! We’ll rise early to-morrow, and I’ll get
ye through all the masses there are in Cork, betune thin an’ midday.”

“Gad! I’d clean forgotten that,” said The O’Mahony. “An’ now let’s git
out an’ see the town.”



CHAPTER VI--THE HEREDITARY BARD.

Two hours and more of the afternoon were spent before The O’Mahony and
his new companion next day reached Dunmanway.

The morning had been devoted, for the most part, to church-going, and
The O’Mahony’s mind was still confused with a bewildering jumble of
candles, bells and embroidered gowns; of boys in frocks swinging little
kettles of smoke by long chains; of books printed on one side in English
and on the other in an unknown tongue; of strange necessities for
standing, kneeling, sitting all together, at different times, for no
apparent reason which he could discover, and at no word of command
whatever. He meditated upon it all now, as the slow train bumped its
wandering way into the west, as upon some novel kind of drill, which
it was obviously going to take him a long time to master. He had his
moments of despondency at the prospect, until he reflected that if the
poorest, least intelligent, hod-carrying Irishman alive knew it all,
he ought surely to be able to learn it. This hopeful view gaining
predominance at last in his thoughts, he had leisure to look out of the
window.

The country through which they passed was for a long distance fairly
level, with broad stretches of fair grass-fields and strips of ploughed
land, the soil of which seemed richness, itself. The O’Mahony noted
this, but was still more interested in the fact that stone was the only
building material anywhere in sight. The few large houses, the multitude
of cabins, the high fences surrounding residences, the low fences
limiting farm lands, even the very gateposts--all were of gray stone,
and all as identical in color and aspect as if Ireland contained but a
single quarry.

The stone had come to be a very prominent feature in the natural
landscape as well, before their journey by rail ended--a cold, wild,
hard-featured landscape, with scant brown grass barely masking the black
of the bog lands, and dying of! at the fringes of gaunt layers of
rock which thrust their heads everywhere upon the vision. The O’Mahony
observed with curiosity that as the land grew poorer, the population,
housed all in wretched hovels, seemed to increase, and the burning
fire-yellow of the furze blossoms all about made lurid mockery of the
absence of crops.

Dunmanway was then the terminus of the line, which has since been pushed
onward to Bantry. The two travellers got out here and stood almost alone
on the stone platform with their luggage. They were, indeed, the only
first-class passengers in the train.

As they glanced about them, they were approached by a diminutive man,
past middle age, dressed in a costume which The O’Mahony had seen once
or twice on the stage, but never before in every-day life. He was a
clean-shaven, swarthy-faced little man, lean as a withered bean-pod, and
clad in a long-tailed coat with brass buttons, a long waist-coat, drab
corduroy knee-breeches and gray worsted stockings. On his head he wore a
high silk hat of antique pattern, dulled and rusty with extreme age. He
took this off as he advanced, and looked from one to the other of the
twain doubtingly.

“Is it The O’Mahony of Muirisc that I have the honor to see before me?”
 he asked, his little ferret eyes dividing their glances in hesitation
between the two.

“I’m your huckleberry,” said The O’Mahony, and held out his hand.

The small man bent his shriveled form double in salutation, and took the
proffered hand with ceremonious formality.

“Sir, you’re kindly welcome back to your ancesthral domain,” he said,
with an emotional quaver in his thin, high voice. “All your people are
waitin’ with anxiety and pleasure for the sight of your face.”

“I hope they’ve got us somethin’ to eat,” said The O’Mahony. “We had
breakfast at daybreak this morning, so’s to work the churches, and
I’m--”

“His honor,” hastily interposed Jerry, “is that pious he can’t sleep of
a mornin’ for pinin’ to hear mass.”

The little man’s dark face softened at the information. He guessed
Jerry’s status by it, as well, and nodded at him while he bowed once
more before The O’Mahony.

“I took the liberty to order some slight refresh-mints at the hotel,
sir, against your coming,” he said. “If you’ll do me the condescinsion
to follow me, I will conduct you thither without delay.”

They followed their guide, as he, bearing himself very proudly and
swinging his shoulders in rhythm with his gait, picked his way across the
square, through the mud of the pig-market, and down a narrow street of
ancient, evil-smelling rookeries, to the chief tavern of the town--a
cramped and dismal little hostelry, with unwashed children playing with
a dog in the doorway, and a shock-headed stable-boy standing over them
to do with low bows the honors of the house.

The room into which they were shown, though no whit cleaner than the
rest, had a comfortable fire upon the grate, and a plentiful meal, of
cold meat and steaming potatoes boiled in their jackets, laid on the
table. Jerry put down the bags here, and disappeared before The O’Mahony
could speak. The O’Mahony promptly sent the waiter after him, and upon
his return spoke with some sharpness:

“Jerry, don’t give me any more of this,” he said. “You can chore it
around, and make yourself useful to me, as you’ve always done; but you
git your meals with me, d’ ye hear? Right alongside of me, every time.”

Thus the table was laid for three, and the O’Mahony made his companions
acquainted with each other.

“This is Jerry Higgins,” he explained to the wondering, swart-visaged
little man. “He’s sort o’ chief cook and bottle-washer to the
establishment, but he’s so bashful afore strangers, I have to talk sharp
to him now an’ then. And let’s see--I don’t think the lawyer told me
your name.”

“I am Cormac O’Daly,” said the other, bowing with proud humility. “An
O’Mahony has had an O’Daly to chronicle his deeds of valor and daring,
to sing his praises of person and prowess, since ages before Kian fought
at Clontarf and married the daughter of the great Brian Boru. Oppression
and poverty, sir, have diminished the position of the bard in most parts
of Ireland, I’m informed. All the O’Dalys that informer times were
bards to The O’Neill in Ulster, The O’Reilly of Brefny, The MacCarthy in
Desmond and The O’Farrell of Annaly--faith, they’ve disappeared from
the face of the earth. But in Muirisc--glory be to the Lord!--. there’s
still an O’Daly to welcome the O’Mahony back and sing the celebration of
his achievements.”

“Sort o’ song-and-dance man, then, eh?” said The O’Mahony. “Well, after
dinner we’ll push the table back an’ give you a show. But let’s eat
first.”

The little man for the moment turned upon the speaker a glance of
surprise, which seemed to have in it the elements of pain. Then he
spoke, as if reassured:

“Ah, sir, in America, where I’m told the Irish are once more a rich and
powerful people, our ancient nobility would have their bards, with
rale harps and voices for singing. But in this poor country it’s only a
mettyphorical existence a bard can have. Whin I spoke the word ‘song,’
my intintion was allegorical. Sure, ’tis drivin’ you from the house
I’d be after doing, were I to sing in the ginuine maning of the word.
But I have here some small verses which I composed this day, while I was
waitin’ in the pig-market, that you might not be indisposed to listen
to, and to accept.”

O’Daly drew from his waistcoat pocket a sheet of soiled and crumpled
paper forthwith, on which some lines had been scrawled in pencil.
Smoothing this out upon the table, he donned a pair of big, hornrimmed
spectacles, and proceeded to decipher and slowly read out the following,
the while the others ate and, marveling much, listened:


I.


          “What do the gulls scream as they wheel

               Along Dunmanus’ broken shore?

          What do the west winds, keening shrill,

               Call to each othir for evermore?

                   From Muirisc’s reeds, from Goleen’s weeds,

                   From Gabriel’s summit, Skull’s low lawn,

               The echoes answer, through their tears,

                   ‘O’Mahony’s gone! O’Mahony’s gone!’


II.

          “But now the sunburst brightens all,

               The clouds are lifted, waters gleam,

          Long pain forgotten, glad tears fall,

               At waking from this evil dream.

                   The cawing rooks, the singing brooks,

                   The zephyr’s sighs, the bee’s soft hum,

               All tell the tale of our delight--

                   O’Mahony’s come! O’Mahony’s come!


III.


          “O’Mahony of the white-foamed coast,

               Of Kinalmeaky’s nut-brown plains,

          Lord of Rosbrin, proud Raithlean’s boast,

               Who over the waves and the sea-mist reigns.

                   Let Clancy quake! O’Driscoll shake!

                        The O’Casey hide his head in fear!

               While Saxons flee across the sea--

                   O’Mahony’s here! O’Mahony’s here!”


The bard finished his reading with a trembling voice, and looked at his
auditors earnestly through moistened eyes. The excitement had brought a
dim flush of color upon his leathery cheeks where the blue-black line of
close shaving ended.

“It’s to be sung to the chune of ‘The West’s Awake!’” he said at last,
with diffidence.

“You did that all with your own jack-knife, eh?” remarked the The
O’Mahony, nodding in approbation. “Well, sir, it’s darned good!”

“Then you’re plased with it, sir?” asked the poet.

“‘Pleased!’ Why, man, if I’d known they felt that way about it, I’d have
come years ago. ‘Pleased?’ Why it’s downright po’try.”

“Ah, that it is, sir,” put in Jerry, sympathetically. “And to think of
it that he did it all in the pig-market whiles he waited for us! Egor!
’twould take me the best part of a week to conthrive as much!”

O’Daly glanced at him with severity.

“Maybe more yet,” he said, tersely, and resumed his long-interrupted
meal.

“And you’re goin’ to be around all the while, eh, ready to turn these
poems out on short notice?” the O’Mahony asked.

“Sir, an O’Daly’s poor talents are day and night at the command of the
O’Mahony of Muirisc,” the bard replied. Then, scanning Jerry, he put a
question:

“Is Mr. Higgins long with you, sir?”

“Oh, yes; a long while,” answered The O’Mahony, without a moment’s
hesitation. “Yes--I wouldn’t know how to get along without him--he’s
been one of the family so long, now.”

The near-sighted poet failed to observe the wink which was exchanged
across the table.

“The name Higgins,” he remarked, “is properly MacEgan. It is a very
honorable name. They were hereditary Brehons or judges, in both Desmond
and Ormond, and, later, in Connaught, too. The name is also called
O’Higgins and O’Hagan. If you would permit me to suggest, sir,” he went
on, “it would be betther at Muirisc if Mr. Higgins were to resume his
ancestral appellation, and consint to be known as MacEgan. The children
there are that well grounded in Irish history, the name would secure
for him additional respect in their eyes. And moreover, sir, saving Mr.
Higgins’s feelings, I observed that you called him ‘Jerry.’ Now ‘Jerry’
is appropriate when among intimate friends or relations, or bechune
master and man--and its more ceremonious form, Jeremiah, is greatly
used in the less educated parts of this country. But, sir, Jeremiah is,
strictly speaking, no name for an Irishman at all, but only the cognomen
of a Hebrew bard who followed the Israelites into captivity, like Owen
Ward did the O’Neils into exile. It’s a base and vulgar invintion of the
Saxons--this new Irish Jeremiah--for why? because their thick tongues
could not pronounce the beautiful old Irish name Diarmid or Dermot.
Manny poor people for want of understanding, forgets this now. But in
Muirisc the laste intelligent child knows betther. Therefore, I would
suggest that when we arrive at your ancesthral abode, sir, Mr. Higgins’s
name be given as Diarmid MacEgan.”

“An’ a foine bould name it is, too!” said Jerry. “Egor! if I’m called
that, and called rigular to me males as well, I’ll put whole inches to
my stature.”

“Well, O’Daly,” said The O’Mahony, “you just run that part of the show
to suit yourself. If you hear of anything that wants changin’ any time,
or whittlin’ down or bein’ spelt different, you can interfere right then
an’ there without sayin’ anything to me. What I want is to have things
done correct, even if we’re out o’ pocket by it. You’re the agent of the
estate, ain’t you?”

“I am that, sir; and likewise the postmaster, the physician, the
precepthor, the tax-collector, the clerk of the parish, the poor law
guardian and the attorney; not to mintion the proud hereditary post to
which I’ve already adverted, that of bard and historian to The O’Mahony.
But, sir, I see that your family carriage is at the dure. We’ll be
startin’ now, if it’s your pleazure. It’s a long journey we’ve before
us.”

When the bill had been called for and paid by O’Daly, and they had
reached the street, The O’Mahony surveyed with a lively interest the
strange vehicle drawn up at the curb before him. In principle it was
like the outside cars he had yesterday seen for the first time, but much
lower, narrower and longer. The seats upon which occupants were expected
to place themselves back to back, were close together, and cushioned
only with worn old pieces of cow-skin. Between the shafts was a shaggy
and unkempt little beast, which was engaged in showing its teeth
viciously at the children and the dog. The whole equipage looked a
century old at the least.

At the end of four hours the rough-coated pony was still scurrying along
the stony road at a rattling pace. It had galloped up the hills and
raced down into the valleys with no break of speed from the beginning.
The O’Mahony, grown accustomed now to maintaining his seat, thought
he had never seen such a horse before, and said so to O’Daly, who sat
beside him, Jerry and the bag being disposed on the opposite side, and
the driver, a silent, round-shouldered, undersized young man sitting in
front with his feet on the shafts.

“Ah, sir, our bastes are like our people hereabouts,” replied the
bard--“not much to look at, but with hearts of goold. They’ll run till
they fall. But, sir--halt, now, Malachy!--yonder you can see Muirisc.”

The jaunting-car stopped. The April twilight was gathering in the clear
sky above them, and shadows were rising from the brown bases of the
mountains to their right. The whole journey had been through a bleak and
desolate moor and bog land, broken here and there by a lonely glen,
in the shelter of which a score of stone hovels were clustered, and to
which all attempts at tillage were confined.

Now, as The O’Mahony looked, he saw stretched before him, some hundred
feet below, a great, level plain, from which, in the distance, a
solitary mountain ridge rose abruptly. This plain was wedgeshaped, and
its outlines were sharply defined by the glow of evening light upon the
waters surrounding it--waters which dashed in white-breakers against the
rocky coast nearest by, but seemed to lie in placid quiescence on the
remote farther shore.

It was toward this latter dark line of coast, half-obscured now as
they gazed by rising sea-mists, that O’Daly pointed; and The O’Mahony,
scanning the broad, dusky landscape, made out at last some flickering
sparks of reddish light close to where the waters met the land.

“See, O’Mahoney, see!” the little man cried, his claw-like hand
trembling as he pointed. “Those lights burned there for Kian when he
never returned from Clontarf, eight hundred years ago; they are burning
there now for you!”



CHAPTER VII--THE O’MAHONY’S HOME-WELCOME.

The road from the brow of the hill down to the plain wound in such
devious courses through rock-lined defiles and bog-paths shrouded with
stunted tangles of scrub-trees, that an hour elapsed before The O’Mahony
again saw the fires which had been lighted to greet his return. This
hour’s drive went in silence, for the way was too rough for talk.
Darkness fell, and then the full moon rose and wrapped the wild
landscape in strange, misty lights and weird shadows.

All at once the car emerged from the obscurity of overhanging trees and
bowlders, and the travellers found themselves in the very heart of the
hamlet of Muirisc. The road they had been traversing seemed to have
come suddenly to an end in a great barn-yard, in the center of which
a bonfire was blazing, and around which, in the reddish flickering
half-lights, a lot of curiously shaped stone buildings, little and big,
old and new, were jumbled in sprawling picturesqueness.

About the fire a considerable crowd of persons were gathered--thin,
little men in long coats and knee-breeches; old, white-capped women with
large, black hooded cloaks; younger women with crimson petticoats and
bare feet and ankles, children of all sizes and ages clustering about
their skirts--perhaps a hundred souls in all. Though The O’Mahony
had very little poetic imagination or pictorial sensibility, he was
conscious that the spectacle was a curious one.

As the car came to a stop, O’Daly leaped lightly to the ground, and ran
over to the throng by the bonfire.

“Now thin!” he called out, with vehemence, “have ye swallowed ye’re
tongues? Follow me now! Cheers for The O’Mahony! Now thin! One--two--”

The little man waved his arms, and at the signal, led by his piping
voice, the assembled villagers sent up a concerted shout, which filled
the shadowed rookeries round about with rival echoes of “hurrahs” and
“hurroos,” and then broke, like an exploding rocket, into a shower of
high pitched, unintelligible ejaculations.

Amidst this welcoming chorus of remarks, which he could not understand,
The O’Mahony alighted, and walked toward the fire, closely followed by
Jerry, and by Malachy, the driver, bearing the bags.

For a moment he almost feared to be overthrown by the spontaneous rush
which the black-cloaked old women made upon him, clutching at his arms
and shoulders and deafening his ears with a babel of outlandish sounds.
But O’Daly came instantly to his rescue, pushing back the eager crones
with vigorous roughness, and scolding them in two languages in sharp
peremptory tones.

“Back there wid ye, Biddy Quinn! Now thin, ould deludherer, will ye
hould yer pace! Come along out o’ that, Pether’s Mag! Lave his honor a
free path, will ye!” Thus, with stern remonstrance, backed by cuffs
and pushes, O’Daly cleared the way, and The O’Mahony found himself
half-forced, half-guided away from the fire and toward a tall and
sculptured archway, which stood, alone, quite independent of any
adjoining wall, upon the nearest edge of what he took to be the
barnyard.

Passing under this impressive mediæval gateway, he confronted a strange
pile of buildings, gray and hoar in the moonlight where their surface
was not covered thick with ivy. There were high pinnacles thrusting
their jagged points into the sky line, which might be either chimneys
or watch-towers; there were lofty gabled walls, from which the roofs
had fallen; there were arched window-holes, through which vines twisted
their umbrageous growth unmolested; and side by side with these signs of
bygone ruin, there were puzzling tokens of present occupation.

A stout, elderly woman, in the white, frilled cap of her district, with
a shawl about her shoulders and a bright-red skirt, stood upon the steps
of what seemed the doorway of a church, bowing to the new-comer. Behind
her, in the hall, glowed the light of a hospitable, homelike fire.

“It is his honor come back to his own, Mrs. Sullivan,” the stranger
heard O’Daly’s voice call out.

“And it’s kindly welcome ye are, sir,” said the woman, bowing again.
“Yer honor doen’t remimber me, perhaps. I was Nora O’Mara, thin, in the
day whin ye were a wee bit of a lad, before your father and mother--God
rest their sowls!--crossed the say.”

“I’m afraid I doen’t jest place you,” said The O’Mahony. “I’m the worst
hand in the world at rememberin’ faces.”

The woman smiled.

“Molare! It’s not be me face that anny boy of thirty years back ’ud
recognize me now,” she said, as she led the way for the party into the
house. “There were thim that had a dale of soft-sawderin’ words to spake
about it thin; but they’ve left off this manny years ago.”

“It’s your cooking and your fine housekeeping that we do be praising now
with every breath, Mrs. Sullivan; and sure that’s far more complimintary
to you than mere eulojums on skin-deep beauty, that’s here to-day
and gone to-morrow, and that was none o’ your choosing at best,” said
O’Daly, as they entered the room at the end of the passage.

“Thrue for you, Cormac O’Daly,” the housekeeper responded, with
twinkling eyes; “and I’m thinkin’, if we’d all of us the choosin’ of new
faces, what an altered appearance you’d presint, without delay.”

A bright, glowing bank of peat on the hearth filled the room with cozy
comfort.

It was a small, square chamber, roofed with blackened oak beams, and
having arched doors and windows. Its walls, partly of stone, partly of
plaster roughly scratched, were whitewashed. The sanded floor was
bare, save for a cowskin mat spread before the fire. A high,
black-wood sideboard at one end of the room, a half-dozen stiffbacked,
uncompromising looking chairs, and a table in the center, heaped with
food, but without a cloth, completed the inventory of visible furniture.

Mrs. O’Sullivan bustled out of the room, leaving the men together. The
O’Mahony sent a final inquisitive glance from ceiling to uncarpeted
floor.

“So this is my ranch, eh?” he said, taking off his hat.

“Sir, you’re welcome to the ancesthral abode of the O’Mahony’s of
Muirisc,” answered O’Daly, gravely. “The room we stand in often enough
sheltered stout Conagher O’Mahony, before confiscation dhrove him forth,
and the ruffian Boyle came in. ’Tis far oldher, sir, than Ballydesmond
or even Dunmanus.”

“So old, the paper seems to have all come off’n the walls,” said The
O’Mahony. “Well, we’ll git in a rocking-chair or so and a rag-carpet and
new paper, an’ spruce her up generally. I s’pose there’s lots o’ more
room in the house.”

“Well, sir, rightly spakin’, there is a dale more, but it’s mostly not
used, by rayson of there being no roof overhead. There’s this part
of the castle that’s inhabitable, and there’s a part of the convent
forninst the porch where the nuns live, but there’s more of both, not to
mintion the church, that’s ruined entirely. Whatever your taste in ruins
may plase to be, there’ll be something here to delight you. We have thim
that’s a thousand years old, and thim that’s fallen into disuse
since only last winter. Anny kind you like: Early Irish, pray-Norman,
posht-Norman, Elizabethan, Georgian, or very late Victorian--here
the ruins are for you, the natest and most complate and convanient
altogether to be found in Munster.”

The eyes of the antiquarian bard sparkled with enthusiasm as he
recounted the architectural glories of Muirisc. There was no answering
glow in the glance of The O’Mahony.

“I’ll have a look round first thing in the morning,” he said, after the
men had seated themselves at the table.

A bright-faced, neatly clad girl divided with Mrs. O’Sullivan the task
of bringing the supper from the kitchen beyond into the room; but it was
Malachy, wearing now a curiously shapeless long black coat, instead of
his driver’s jacket, who placed the dishes on the table, and for the
rest stood in silence behind his new master’s chair.

The O’Mahony grew speedily restless under the consciousness of Malachy’s
presence close at his back.

“We can git along without him, can’t we?” he asked O’Daly, with a curt
backward nod.

“Ah, no, sir,” pleaded the other. “The boy ’ud be heart-broken if
ye sint him away. ’Twas his grandfather waited on your great-uncle’s
cousin, The O’Mahony of the Double Teeth; and his father always served
your cousins four times removed, who aich in his turn held the title;
and the old man sorrowed himsilf to death whin the last of ’em
desaysed, and your honor couldn’t be found, and there was no more an
O’Mahony to wait upon. The grief of that good man wud ’a’ brought
tears to your eyes. There was no keeping him from the dhrink day or
night, sir, till he made an ind to him-silf. And young Malachy, sir,
he’s composed of the same determined matarial.”

“Well, of course, if he’s so much sot on it as all that,” said The
O’Mahony, relenting. “But I wanted to feel free to talk over affairs
with you--money matters and so on; and--”

“Ah, sir, no fear about Malachy. Not a word of what we do be saying does
he comprehind.”

“Deef and dumb, eh?”

“Not at all; but he has only the Irish.” In answer to O’Mahony’s puzzled
look, O’Daly added in explanation: “It’s the glory of Muirisc, sir, that
we hould fast be our ancient thraditions and tongue. In all the place
there’s not rising a dozen that could spake to you in English. And--I
suppose your honor forgets the Irish entoirely? Or perhaps your parents
neglected to tache it to you?”

“Yes,” said The O’Mahony; “they never taught me any Irish at all;
leastways, not that I remember.”

“Luk at that now!” exclaimed O’Daly, sadly, as he took more fish upon
his plate.

“It’s goin’ to be pritty rough sleddin’ for me to git around if nobody
understands what I say, ain’t it?” asked The O’Mahony, doubtfully.

“Oh, not at all,” O’Daly made brisk reply. “It’s part of my hereditary
duty to accompany you on all your travels and explorations and
incursions, to keep a record of the same, and properly celebrate thim in
song and history. The last two O’Mahonys betwixt ourselves, did nothing
but dhrink at the pig-market at Dunmanway once a week, and dhrink at
Mike Leary’s shebeen over at Ballydivlin the remainding days of the
week, and dhrink here at home on Sundays. To say the laste, this
provided only indifferent opportunities for a bard. But plase the Lord
bether times have come, now.”

Malachy had cleared the dishes from the board, and now brought forward
a big square decanter, a sugar-bowl, a lemon fresh cut in slices, three
large glasses and one small one. O’Daly at this lifted a steaming copper
kettle from the crane over the fire, and began in a formally ceremonious
and deliberate manner the brewing of the punch. The O’Mahony watched the
operation with vigilance. Then clay pipes and tobacco were produced, and
Malachy left the room.

“What I wanted to ask about,” said The O’Mahony, after a pause, and
between sips from his fragrant glass, “was this: That lawyer, Carmody,
didn’t seem to know much about what the estate was worth, or how the
money came in, or anything else. All he had to do, he said, was to snoop
around and find out where I was. All the rest was in your hands. What I
want to know is jest where I stand.”

“Well, sir, that’s not hard to demonsthrate. You’re The O’Mahony of
Muirisc. You own in freehold the best part of this barony--some nine
thousand acres. You have eight-and-thirty tinants by lasehold, at a
total rintal of close upon four hundred pounds; turbary rights bring in
rising twinty pounds; the royalty on the carrigeens bring ten pounds;
your own farms, with the pigs, the barley, the grazing and the butter,
produce annually two hundred pounds--a total of six hundred and thirty
pounds, if I’m not mistaken.”

“How much is that in dollars?”

“About three thousand one hundred and fifty dollars, sir.”

“And that comes in each year?” said The O’Mahony, straightening himself
in his chair.

“It does that,” said O’Daly; then, after a pause, he added dryly: “and
goes out again.”

“How d’ye mean?”

“Sir, the O’Mahonys are a proud and high-minded race, and must live
accordingly. And aich of your ancestors, to keep up his dignity,
borrowed as much money on the blessed land as ever he could raise, till
the inthrest now ates up the greater half of the income. If you net
two hundred pounds a year--that is to say, one thousand dollars--you’re
doing very well indeed. In the mornin’ I’ll be happy to show you all me
books and Mrs. Fergus O’Mahony.”

“Who’s she?”

“The sister of the last of The O’Mahonys before you, sir, who married
another of the name only distantly related, and has been a widow these
five years, and would be owner of the estate if her brother had broken
the entail as he always intinded, and never did by rayson that there was
so much dhrinking and sleeping and playing ‘forty-five’ at Mike Leary’s
to be done, he’d no time for lawyers. Mrs. Fergus has been having the
use of the property since his death, sir, being the nearest visible
heir.”

“And so my comin’ threw her out, eh? Did she take it pritty hard?”

“Sir, loyalty to The O’Mahony is so imbedded in the brest of every sowl
in Muirisc, that if she made a sign to resist your pretinsions, her own
frinds would have hooted her. She may have some riservations deep down
in her heart, but she’s too thrue an O’Mahony to revale thim.”

More punch was mixed, and The O’Mahony was about to ask further
questions concerning the widow he had dispossessed, when the door opened
and a novel procession entered the room.

Three venerable women, all of about the same height, and all clad in a
strange costume of black gowns and sweeping black vails, their foreheads
and chins covered with stiff bands of white linen, and long chains of
beads ending in a big silver-gilt cross swinging from their girdles,
advanced in single file toward the table--then halted, and bowed
slightly.

O’Daly and Jerry had risen to their feet upon the instant of this
curious apparition, but the The O’Mahony kept his seat, and nodded with
amiability.

“How d’ do?” he said, lightly. “It’s mighty neighborly of you to run
in like this, without knockin’, or standin’ on ceremony. Won’t you sit
down, ladies? I guess you can find chairs.”

“These are the Ladies of the Hostage’s Tears, your honor,” O’Daly
hastened to explain, at the same time energetically winking and
motioning to him to stand.

But The O’Mahony did not budge.

“I’m glad to see you,” he assured the nuns once more. “Take a seat,
won’t you? O’Daly here’ll mix you up one o’ these drinks o’ his’n, I’m
sure, if you’ll give the word.”

“We thank you, O’Mahony,” said the foremost of the aged women, in a
deep, solemn voice, but paying no heed to the chairs which O’Daly and
Jerry had dragged forward. “We come solely to do obeisance to you as the
heir and successor of our pious founder, Diarmid of the Fine Steeds, and
to presint to you your kinswoman--our present pupil, and the solitary
hope of our once renowned order.”

The O’Mahony gathered nothing of her meaning from this lugubrious wail
of words, and glanced over the speaker’s equally aged companions in vain
for any sign of hopefulness, solitary or otherwise. Then he saw that
the hindmost of the nuns had produced, as if from the huge folds of her
black gown, a little girl of six or seven, clad in the same gloomy tint,
whom she was pushing forward.

The child advanced timidly under pressure, gazing wonderingly at The
O’Mahony, out of big, heavily fringed hazel eyes. Her pale face was made
almost chalk-like by contrast with a thick tangle of black hair, and
wore an expression of apprehensive shyness almost painful to behold.

The O’Mahony stretched out his hands and smiled, but the child hung
back, and looked not in the least reassured. He asked her name with an
effort at jovialty.

[Illustration: 0089]

“Kate O’Mahony, sir,” she said, in a low voice, bending her little knees
in a formal bob of courtesy.

“And are you goin’ to rig yourself out in those long gowns and vails,
too, when you grow up, eh, siss?” he asked.

“The daughters of The O’Mahonys of Muirisc, with only here and there a
thrifling exception, have been Ladies of the Hostage’s Tears since the
order was founded here in the year of Our Lord 1191,” said the foremost
nun, stiffly. “After long years, in which it seemed as if the order must
perish, our prayers were answered, and this child of The O’Mahonys was
sent to us, to continue the vows and obligations of the convent, and
restore it, if it be the saints’ will, to its former glory.”

“Middlin’ big job they’ve cut out for you, eh, siss?” commented The
O’Mahony, smilingly.

The pleasant twinkle in his eye seemed to attract the child. Her face
lost something of its scared look, and she of her own volition moved a
step nearer to his outstretched hands. Then he caught her up and seated
her on his knee.

“So you’re goin’ to sail in, eh, an’ jest make the old convent hum
again? Strikes me that’s a pritty chilly kind o’ look-out for a little
gal like you. Wouldn’t you now, honest Injun, rather be whoopin’ round
barefoot, with a nanny-goat, say, an’ some rag dolls, an’--an’--climbin’
trees an’ huntin’ after eggs in the hay-mow--than go into partnership
with grandma, here, in the nun business?”

The O’Mahony had trotted the child gently up and down, the while he
propounded his query. Perhaps it was its obscure phraseology which
prompted her to hang her head, and obstinately refuse to lift it even
when he playfully put his finger under her chin. She continued to gaze
in silence at the floor; but if the nuns could have seen her face they
would have noted that presently its expression lightened and its big
eyes flashed, as The O’Mahony whispered something into her ear. The good
women would have been shocked indeed could they also have heard that
something.

“Now don’t you fret your gizzard, siss,” he had whispered--“you needn’t
be a nun for one solitary darned minute, if you don’t want to be.”



CHAPTER VIII--TWO MEN IN A BOAT.

A fishing-boat lay at anchor in a cove of Dun-manus Bay, a hundred rods
from shore, softly rising and sinking with the swell of the tide which
stirred the blue waters with all gentleness on this peaceful June
morning. Two men sat in lounging attitudes at opposite ends of the
little craft, yawning lazily in the sunshine. They held lines in their
hands, but their listless and wandering glances made it evident that
nothing was further from their thoughts than the catching of fish.

The warm summer air was so clear that the hamlet of Muirisc, whose gray
walls, embroidered with glossy vines, and tiny cottages white with
lime-wash were crowded together on the very edge of the shore, seemed
close beside them, and every grunt and squawk from sty or barn-yard came
over the lapping waters to them as from a sounding-board. The village,
engirdled by steep, sheltering cliffs, and glistening in the sunlight,
made a picture which artists would have blessed their stars for. The two
men in the boat looked at it wearily.

“Egor, it’s my belafe,” said the fisher at the bow, after what seemed
an age of idle silence, “that the fishes have all follied the byes an’
gerrels, an’ betaken thimselves to Ameriky.” He pulled in his line, and
gazed with disgust at the intact bait. “Luk at that, now!” he continued.
“There’s a male fit for the holy Salmon of Knowledge himsilf, that
taught Fin MacCool the spache of animals, and divil a bite has the
manest shiner condiscinded to make at it.”

“Oh, darn the fish!” replied the other, with a long sigh. “I don’t care
whether we catch’ any or not. It’s worth while to come out here even if
we never get a nibble and baked ourselves into bricks, jest to get rid
of that infernal O’Daly.”

It was The O’Mahony who spake, and he invested the concluding portion
of his remark with an almost tearful earnestness. During the pause which
ensued he chewed vigorously upon the tobacco in his mouth, and spat into
the sea with a stern expression of countenance.

“I tell you what, Jerry,” he broke out with at last--“I can’t stand much
more of that fellow. He’s jest breakin’ me up piecemeal. I begin to feel
like Jeff Davis--that it ’ud have bin ten dollars in my pocket if I’d
never bin born.”

“Ah, sure, your honor,” said Jerry, “ye’ll git used to it in time. He
manes for the best.”

“That’s jest what makes me tired,” rejoined The O’Mahony; “that’s what
they always said about a fellow when he makes a confounded nuisance of
himself. I hate fellows that mean for the best. I’d much rather he
meant as bad as he knew how. P’raps then he’d shut up and mind his own
business, and leave me alone part of the time. It’s bad enough to have
your estate mortgaged up to the eyebrows, but to have a bard piled on
top o’ the mortgages--egad, it’s more’n flesh and blood can stand! I
don’t wonder them other O’Mahonys took to drink.”

“There’s a dale to be said for the dhrink, your honor,” commented the
other, tentatively.

“There can be as much said as you like,” said The O’Mahony, with
firmness, “but _doin_’ is a hoss of another color. I’m goin’ to stick to
the four drinks a day an’ two at night; an’ what’s good enough for me’s
good enough for you. That bat of ours the first week we come settled
the thing. I said to myself: ‘There’s goin’ to be one O’Mahony that dies
sober, or I’ll know the reason why!’”

“Egor, Saint Pether won’t recognize ye, thin,” chuckled Jerry; and the
other grinned grimly in spite of himself.

“Do you know I’ve bin fig’rin’ to myself on that convent business,” The
O’Mahony mused aloud, after a time, “an’ I guess I’ve pritty well sized
it up. The O’Mahonys started that thing, accordin’ to my notion, jest to
coop up their sisters in, where board and lodgin’ ’ud come cheap, an’
one suit o’ clothes ’ud last a lifetime, in order to leave more money
for themselves for whisky. I ain’t sayin’ the scheme ain’t got some
points about it. You bar out all that nonsense about bonnets an’ silk
dresses an’ beads an’ fixin’s right from the word go, and you’ve got
’em safe under lock an’ key, so ’t they can’t go gallivantin’ round
an’ gittin’ into scrapes. But I’ll be dodrotted if I’m goin’ to set
still an’ see ’em capture that little gal Katie agin her will. You
hear _me!_ An’ another thing, I’m goin’ to put my foot down about goin’
to church every mornin’. Once a week’s goin’ to be my ticket right from
now. An’ you needn’t show up any oftener yourself if you don’t want to.
It’s high time we had it out whether it’s me or O’Daly that’s runnin’
this show.”

“Sure, rightly spakin’, your honor’s own sowl wouldn’t want no more than
a mass aich Sunday,” expounded Jerry, concentrating his thoughts upon
the whole vast problem of dogmatic theology. “But this is the throuble
of it, you see, sir: there’s the sowls of all thim other O’Mahonys
that’s gone before, that the nuns do be prayin’ for to git out of
purgatory, an’--”

“That’s all right,” broke in The O’Mahony, “but my motto is: let every
fellow hustle for himself. They’re on the spot, wherever it is, an’
they’re the best judges of what they want; an’ if they ain’t got sand
enough to sail in an’ git it, I don’t see why I should be routed up out
of bed every mornin’ at seven o’clock to help ’em. To tell the truth,
Jerry, I’m gittin’ all-fired sick of these O’Mahonys. This havin’ dead
men slung at you from mornin’ to night, day in an’ day out, rain or
shine, would have busted up Job himself.”

“I’m thinking, sir,” said Jerry, with a merry twinkle in his eyes,
“there’s no havin’ annything in this worruld without payin’ for that
same. ’Tis the pinalty of belongin’ to a great family. Egor, since
O’Daly thranslated me into a MacEgan I’ve had no pace of me life, by
rayson of the necessity to demane mesilf accordin’.”

“Why, darn it all, man,” pursued the other, “I can’t do a solitary
thing, any time of day, without O’Daly luggin’ up what some old rooster
did a thousand years ago. He follows me round like my shadow, blatherin’
about what Dermid of the Bucking Horses did, an’ what Conn of the Army
Mules thought of doin’ and didn’t, and what Finn of the Wall-eyed Pikes
would have done if he could, till I git sick at my stomach. He won’t let
me lift my ‘finger to do anything, because The O’Mahony mustn’t sile his
hands with work, and I have to stand round and watch a lot of bungling
cusses pretend to do it, when they don’t know any more about the work
than a yellow dog.”

“Faith, ye’ll not get much sympathy from the gintry of Ireland on _that_
score,” said Jerry.

“An’ then that Malachy--he gives me a cramp! he ain’t got a grin in his
whole carcass, an’ he can’t understand a word that I say, so that O’Daly
has that for another excuse to hang around all the while. Take my steer,
Jerry; if anybody leaves you an estate, you jest inquire if there’s a
bard and a hereditary dumb waiter that go with it; an’ if there is, you
jest sashay off somewhere else.”

“Ah, sir, but an estate’s a great thing.”

“Yes--to tell about. But now jest look at the thing as she stands. I’m
the O’Mahony an’ all that, an’ I own more land than you can shake a
stick at; but what does it all come to? Why, when the int’rest is paid,
I am left so poor that if churches was sellin’ at two cents apiece, I
couldn’t buy the hinge on a contribution box. An’ then it’s downright
mortifyin’ to me to have to git a livin’ by takin’ things away from
these poverty-stricken devils here. I’m ashamed to look ’em in the
face, knowin’ as I do how O’Daly makes ’em whack up pigs, an’ geese,
an’ chickens, an’ vegetables, an’ fish, not to mention all the money
they can scrape together, just to keep me in idleness. It ain’t fair.
Every time one of ’em comes in, to bring me a peck o’ peas, or a pail
o’ butter, or a shillin’ that he’s managed to earn somewhere, I say to
myself: ‘Ole hoss, if you was that fellow, and he was loafin’ round as
The O’Mahony, you’d jest lay for him and kick the whole top of his head
off, and serve him darned well right, too.’”

Jerry looked at his master now with a prolonged and serious scrutiny,
greatly differing from his customary quizzical glance.

“Throo for your honor,” he said at last, in a hesitating way, as if his
remark disclosed only half his thought.

“Yes, sirree, I’m sourin’ fast on the hull thing,” The O’Mahony
exclaimed. “To do nothin’ all day long but to listen to O’Daly’s yarns,
an’ make signs at Malachy, an’ think how long it is between drinks--that
ain’t no sort o’ life for a white man. Egad! if there was any fightin’
goin’ on anywhere in the world, darn me if I would not pull up stakes
an’ light out for it. Another six months o’ this, an’ my blood’ll all be
turned to butter-milk.”

The distant apparition of a sailing-vessel hung upon the outer horizon,
the noon sun causing the white squares of canvas to glow like jewels
upon the satin sheen of the sea. Jerry stole a swift glance at his
companion, and then bent a tong meditative gaze upon the passing
vessel, humming softly to himself as he looked. At last he turned to his
companion with an air of decision.

“O’Mahony,” he said, using the name thus for the first time, “I’m
resolved in me mind to disclose something to ye. It’s a sacret I’m goin’
to tell you.”

He spoke with impressive solemnity, and the other looked up with
interest awakened.

“Go ahead,” he said.

“Well, sir, your remarks this day, and what I’ve seen wid me own eyes
of your demaynor, makes it plane that you’re a frind of Ireland.
Now there’s just wan way in the worruld for a frind of Ireland to
demonsthrate his affection--and that’s be enrollin’ himsilf among thim
that’ll fight for her rights. Sir, I’ll thrust ye wid me sacret. I’m a
Fenian.”

The O’Mahony’s attentive face showed no light of comprehension. The word
which Jerry had uttered with such mystery conveyed no meaning to him at
all at first; then he vaguely recalled it as a sort of slang description
of Irishmen in general, akin to “Mick” and “bogtrotter.”

“Well, what of it?” he asked, wonderingly.

Jerry’s quick perception sounded at once the depth of his ignorance.

“The Fenians, sir,” he explained, “are a great and sacret society, wid
tins of thousands of min enlisted here, an’ in Ameriky, an’ among the
Irish in England, wid intint to rise up as wan man whin the time comes,
an’ free Ireland. It’s a regular army, sir, that we’re raisin’, to
conquer back our liberties, and dhrive the bloody Saxon foriver away
from Erin’s green shores.”

The O’Mahony let his puzzled gaze wander along the beetling coast-line
of naked rocks.

“So far’s I can see, they ain’t green,” he said; “they’re black and
drab. An’ who’s this fellow you call Saxon? I notice O’Daly lugs him
into about every other piece o’ po’try he nails me with, evenin’s.”

“Sir, it’s our term for the Englishman, who oppreases us, an’ dhrives us
to despair, an’ prevints our holdin’ our hieads up amongst the nations
of the earth. Sure, sir, wasn’t all this counthry roundabout for a three
days’ journey belongin’ to your ancesthors, till the English stole it
and sold it to Boyle, that thief of the earth--and his tomb, be the same
token, I’ve seen many a time at Youghal, where I was born. But--awh,
sir, what’s the use o’ talkin’? Sure, the blood o’ the O’Mahonys ought
to stir in your veins at the mere suspicion of an opporchunity to
sthrike a blow for your counthry.” The O’Mahony yawned and stretched his
long arms lazily in the sunshine.

“Nary a stir,” he said, with an idle half-grin. “But what the deuce is
it you’re drivin’ at anyway?”

“Sir, I’ve towld ye we’re raisin’ an army--a great, thund’rin’ secret
army--and whin it’s raised an’ our min all dhrilled an’ our guns an’
pikes all handy--sure, thin we’ll rise and fight. An’ it’s much mistaken
I am in you, O’Mahony, if you’d be contint to lave this fun go on undher
your nose, an’ you to have no hand in it.”

“Of course I want to be in it,” said The O’Mahony, evincing more
interest. “Only I couldn’t make head or tail of what you was talkin’
about. An’ I don’t know as I see yet jest what the scheme is. But you
can count me in on anything that’s got gunpowder in it, an’ that’ll give
me somethin’ to do besides list’nin’ to O’Daly’s yawp.”

“We’ll go to Cork to-morrow, thin, if it’s convanient to you,” said
Jerry, eagerly. “I’ll spake to my ‘B,’ or captain, that is, an’
inthroduce ye, through him, to the chief organizer of Munster, and sure,
they’ll mak’ ye an’ ‘A,’ the same as a colonel, an’ I’ll get promotion
undher ye--an’, Egor! we’ll raise a rigiment to oursilves entirely--an’
Muirisc’s the very darlin’ of a place to land guns an’ pikes an’ powdher
for all Ireland--an’ ’tis we’ll get the credit of it, an’ get more
promotion still, till, faith, there’ll be nothin’ too fine for our
askin’, an’ we’ll carry the whole blessed Irish republic around in our
waistcoat pocket. What the divil, man! We’ll make ye presidint, an’ I’ll
have a place in the poliss.”

“All right,” said The O’Mahony, “we’ll git all the fun there is out of
it; but there’s one thing, mind, that I’m jest dead set about.” ..

“Ye’ve only to name it, sir, an’ they’ll be de-loighted to plase ye.”

“Well, it’s this: O’Daly’s got to be ruled out o’ the thing. I’m goin’
to have one deal without any hereditary bard in it, or I don’t play.”



CHAPTER IX--THE VOICE OF THE HOSTAGE.

We turn over now a score of those fateful pages on which Father Time
keeps his monthly accounts with mankind, passing from sunlit June, with
its hazy radiance lying softly upon smooth waters, to bleak and shrill
February--the memorable February of 1867.

A gale had been blowing outside beyond the headlands all day, and by
nightfall the minor waters of Dunmanus Bay had suffered such prolonged
pulling and hauling and buffeting from their big Atlantic neighbors that
they were up in full revolt, hurling themselves with thunderous roars of
rage against the cliffs of their coast line, and drenching the darkness
with scattered spray. The little hamlet of Muirisc, which hung to its
low, nestling nook under the rocks in the very teeth of this blast,
shivered, soaked to the skin, and crossed itself prayerfully as the wind
shrieked like a banshee about its roofless gables and tower-walls and
tore at the thatches of its clustered cabins.

The three nuns of the Hostage’s Tears, listening to the storm without,
felt that it afforded an additional justification for the infraction of
their rules which they were for this evening, by no means for the first
time, permitting themselves. Religion itself rebelled against solitude
on such a night.

Time had been when this convent, enlarged though it was by the piety of
successive generations of early lords of Muirisc, still needed more
room than it had to accommodate in comfort its host of inmates. But that
time, alas! was now a musty tradition of bygone ages. Even before the
great sectarian upheaval of the mid-Tudor period, the ancient family
order of the Hostage’s Tears had begun to decline. I can’t pretend to
give the reason. Perhaps the supply of The O’Mahony’s daughters fell
off; possibly some obscure shift of fashion rendered marriage more
attractive in their eyes. Only this I know, that when the Commissioners
of Elizabeth, gleaning in the monastic stubble which the scythe of Henry
had laid bare, came upon the nuns at Muirisc, whom the first sweep of
the blade had missed, they found them no longer so numerous as they
once had been. Ever since then the order had dwindled visibly. The three
remaining ladies had, in their own extended cloistral career, seen the
last habitable section of the convent fall into disuse and decay, until
now only their own gaunt, stone-walled trio of cells, the school-room,
the tiny chapel, and a chamber still known by the dignified title of the
“reception hall,” were available for use.

Here it was that a great mound of peat sparkled and glowed on the
hearth, under a capricious draught which now sucked upward with a
whistling swoop whole clods of blazing turf--now, by a contradictory
freak, half-filled the room with choking bog-smoke. Still, even when
eyes were tingling and nostrils aflame, it was better to be here than
outside, and better to have company than be alone.

Both propositions were shiningly clear to the mind of Corinac O’Daly,
as he mixed a second round of punch, and, peering through the steam from
his glass at the audience gathered by the hearth, began talking again.
The three aged nuns, who had heard him talk ever since he was born,
sat decorously together on a bench and watched him, and listened as
attentively as if his presence were a complete novelty. Their chaplain,
a snuffy, half-palsied little old man, Father Harrington to wit,
dozed and blinked and coughed at the smoke in his chair by the fire as
harmlessly as a house-cat on the rug. Mrs. Fergus O’Mahony, a plump and
buxom widow in the late twenties, with a comely, stupid face, framed
in little waves of black, crimped hair pasted flat to the skin, sat
opposite the priest, glass in hand. Whenever the temptation to yawn
became too strong, she repressed it by sipping at the punch.

“Anny student of the ancient Irish, or I might say Milesian charachter,”
 said O’Daly, with high, disputatious voice, “might discern in our
present chief a remarkable proof of what the learned call a reversion
of toypes. It’s thrue what you say, Mother Agnes, that he’s unlike
and teetotally different from anny other O’Mahony of our knowledge
in modhern times. But thin I ask mesilf, what’s the maning of this?
Clearly, that he harks back on the ancesthral tree, and resimbles
some O’Mahony we _don’t_ know about! And this I’ve been to the labor
of thracing out. Now attind to me! ’Tis in your riccords, that four
ginerations afther your foundher, Diarmid of the Fine Steeds, there came
an O’Mahony of Muirisc called Teige, a turbulent and timpistuous man,
as his name in the chronicles, Teige Goarbh, would indicate. ’Tis well
known that he viewed holy things with contimpt. ’Twas he that wint on
to the very althar at Rosscarbery, in the chapel of St. Fachnau Mougah,
or the hairy, and cudgeled wan of the daycons out of the place for the
rayson that he stammered in his spache. ’Twas he that hung his bard,
my ancestor of that period, up by the heels on a willow-tree, merely
because he fell asleep over his punch, afther dinner, and let the
rival O’Dugan bard stale his new harp from him, and lave a broken and
disthressful old insthrumint in its place. Now there’s the rale ancestor
of our O’Mahony. ’Tis as plain as the nose on your face. And--now
I remimber--sure ’twas this same divil of a Teige Goarbh who was
possessed to marry his own cousin wance removed, who’d taken vows here
in this blessed house. ‘Marry me now,’ says he. ‘I’m wedded to the
Lord,’ says she. ‘Come along out o’ that now,’ says he. ‘Not a step,’
says she. And thin, faith, what did the rebellious ruffian do but
gather all the straw and weeds and wet turf round about, and pile ’em
undernayth, and smoke the nuns out like a swarm o’ bees. Sure, that’s as
like our O’Mahony now as two pays in a pod.”

As the little man finished, a shifty gust blew down the flue, and sent a
darkling wave of smoke over the good people seated before the fire. They
were too used to the sensation to do more than cough and rub their eyes.
The mother-superior even smiled sternly through the smoke.

“Is your maning that O’Mahony is at present on the roof, striving to
smoke us out?” she asked, with iron clad sarcasm.

“Awh, get along wid ye, Mother Agnes,” wheezed the little priest, from
his carboniferous corner.

“Who would he be afther demanding in marriage here?”

O’Daly and the nuns looked at their aged and shaky spiritual director
with dulled apprehension. He spoke so rarely, and had a mind so
far removed from the mere vanities and trickeries of decorative.
conversation, that his remark puzzled them. Then, as if through a single
pair of eyes, they saw that Mrs. Fergus had straightened herself in her
chair, and was simpering and preening her head weakly, like a conceited
parrot.

The mother-superior spoke sharply.

“And do you flatther yoursilf, Mrs. Fergus O’Mahony, that the head of
our house is blowing smoke down through the chimney for _you?_” she
asked. “Sure, if he was, thin, ’twould be a lamint-able waste of
breath. Wan puff from a short poipe would serve to captivate _you!_”

Cormac O’Daly made haste to bury his nose in his glass. Long
acquaintance with the attitude of the convent toward the marital
tendencies of Mrs. Fergus had taught him wisdom. It was safe to
sympathize with either side of the long-standing dispute when the other
side was unrepresented. But when the nuns and Mrs. Fergus discussed it
together, he sagaciously held his peace.

“Is it sour grapes you’re tasting, Agnes O’Mahony?” put in Mrs. Fergus,
briskly. In new matters, hers could not be described as an alert mind.
But in this venerable quarrel she knew by heart every retort, innuendo
and affront which could be used as weapons, and every weak point in the
other’s armor.

“Sour grapes! _me!_” exclaimed the mother-superior, with as lively an
effect of indignation as if this rejoinder had not been flung in her
face every month or so for the past dozen years. “D’ye harken to that,
Sister Blanaid and Sister Ann! It’s _me_, after me wan-and-fifty years
of life in religion, that has this ojus imputation put on me! Whisht
now! don’t demane yourselves by replyin’! We’ll lave her to the
condimnation of her own conscience.”

The two nuns had made no sign of breaking their silence before this
admonition came, and they gazed now at the peat fire placidly. But the
angered mother-superior ostentatiously took up her beads, and began
whispering to herself, as if her thoughts were already millions of miles
away from her antagonist with the crimped hair and the vacuous smile.

“It’s persecuting me she’s been these long years back,” Mrs. Fergus
said to the company at large, but never taking her eyes from the
mother-superior’s flushed face; “and all because I married me poor
desaysed husband, instead of taking me vows under her.”

“Ah, that poor desaysed husband!” Mother Agnes put in, with an ironical
drawl in the words. “Sure, whin he was aloive, me ears were just worn
out with listening to complaints about him! Ah, thin! ’Tis whin we’re
dead that we’re appreciated!”

“All because I married,” pursued Mrs. Fergus, doggedly, “and wouldn’t
come and lock mesilf up here, like a toad in the turf, and lave me
brothers free to spind the money in riot and luxurious livin’. May be,
if God’s will had putt a squint on me, or given me shoulders a twist
like Danny at the fair, or otherwise disfigured me faytures, I’d have
been glad to take vows. Mortial plainness is a great injucement to
religion.”

The two nuns scuffled their feet on the stone floor and scowled at the
fire. Mother Agnes put down her beads, and threw a martyr-like glance
upward at the blackened oak roof.

“Praise be to the saints,” she said, solemnly, “that denied us the
snare of mere beauty without sinse, or piety, or respect for old age, or
humility, or politeness, or gratitude, or--”

“Very well, thin, Agnes O’Mahony,” broke in Mrs. Fergus, promptly.
“If ye’ve that opinion of me, it’s not becomin’ that I should lave
me daughter wid ye anny longer. I’ll take her meself to Kenmare next
week--the ride over the mountains will do me nervous system a power o’
good--and _there_ she’ll learn to be a lady.”

Cormac O’Daly lifted his head and set down his glass. He knew perfectly
well that with this familiar threat the dispute always came to an end.
Indeed, all the parties to the recent contention now of their own accord
looked at him, and resettled themselves in their seats, as if to notify
him that his turn had come round again.

“I’m far from denying,” he said, as if there had been no interruption at
all, “that our O’Mahony is possessed of qualities which commind him to
the vulgar multichude. It’s thrue that he rejewced rints all over the
estate, and made turbary rights and the carrigeens as free as wather,
and yet more than recouped himself by opening the copper mines beyant
Ardmahon, and laysing thim to a company for a foine royalty. It’s thrue
he’s the first O’Mahony for manny a gineration who’s paid expinses, let
alone putting money by in the bank.”

“And what more would ye ask?” said Mrs. Fergus. “Sure, whin he’s
done all this, and made fast frinds with every man, women and child
roundabout into the bargain, what more would ye want?”

“Ah, what’s money, Mrs. Fergus O’Mahony,” remonstrated O’Daly, “and
what’s popularity wid the mere thoughtless peasanthry, if ye’ve no
ancesthral proide, no love and reverence for ancient family thraditions,
no devout desoire to walk in the paths your forefathers trod?”

“Faith, thim same forefathers trod thim with a highly unsteady step,
thin, bechune oursilves,” commented Mrs. Fergus.

“But their souls were filled with blessid piety,” said Mother Agnes,
gravely. “If they gave small thought to the matter of money, and loike
carnal disthractions, they had open hands always for the needs of the
church, and of the convint here, and they made holy indings, every soul
of ’em.”

“And they respected the hereditary functions of their bards,” put in
O’Daly, with a conclusive air.

At the moment, as there came a sudden lull in the tumult of the storm
outside, those within the reception-room heard a distinct noise of
knocking, which proceeded from beneath the stone-flags at their feet.
Three blows were struck, with a deadened thud as upon wet wood, and then
the astounded listeners heard a low, muffled sound, strangely like a
human voice, from the same depths.

The tempest’s furious screaming rose again without, even as they
listened. All six crossed themselves mechanically, and gazed at one
another with blanched faces.

“It is the Hostage,” whispered the mother-superior, glancing
impressively around, and striving to dissemble the tremor which forced
itself upon her lips. “For wan-and-fifty years I’ve been waiting to hear
the sound of him. My praydecessor, Mother Ellen, rest her sowl, heard
him wance, and nixt day the roof of the church fell in. Be the same
token, some new disasther is on fut for us, now.”

Cormac O’Daly was as frightened as the rest, but, as an antiquarian, he
could not combat the temptation to talk.

“’Tis now just six hundred and seventy years,” he began, in a husky
voice, “since Diarmid of the Fine Steeds founded this convint, in
expiation of his wrong to young Donal, Prince of Connaught. ’Twas the
custom thin for the kings and great princes in Ireland to sind their
sons as hostages to the palaces of their rivals, to live there as
security, so to spake, for their fathers’ good behavior and peaceable
intintions. ’Twas in this capacity that young Donal O’Connor came
here, but Diarmid thrated him badly--not like his father’s son at
all--and immured him in a dungeon convanient in the rocks. His mother’s
milk was in the lad, and he wept for being parted from her till his
tears filled the earth, and a living well sprung from thim the day he
died. So thin Diarmid repinted and built a convint; and the well bubbled
forth healing wathers so that all the people roundabout made pilgrimages
to it, and with their offerings the O’Mahonys built new edifices till
’twas wan of the grandest convints in Desmond; and none but fay-males
of the O’Mahony blood saying prayers for the sowl of the Hostage.”

The nuns were busy with their beads, and even Mrs. Fergus bent her head.
At last it was Mother Agnes who spoke, letting her rosary drop.

“’Twas whin they allowed the holy well to be choked up and lost sight
of among fallen stones that throuble first come to the O’Mahonys,” she
said solemnly. “’Tis mesilf will beg The O’Mahony, on binded knees, to
dig it open again. Worse luck, he’s away to Cork or Waterford with his
boat, and this storm’ll keep him from returning, till, perhaps, the
final disasther falls on us and our house, and he still absinting
himsilf. Wirra! What’s that?”

The mother-superior had been forced to lift her voice, in concluding, to
make it distinct above the hoarse roar of the elements outside. Even
as she spoke, a loud crackling noise was heard, followed by a crash of
masonry which deafened the listeners’ ears and shook the walls of the
room they sat in.

With a despairing groan, the three nuns fell to their knees and bowed
their vailed heads over their beads.



CHAPTER X--HOW THE “HEN HAWK” WAS BROUGHT IN.

The good people of Muirisc had shut themselves up in their cabins,
on this inclement evening of which I have spoken, almost before the
twilight faded from the storm-wrapt outlines of the opposite coast. If
any adventurous spirit of them all had braved the blast, and stood
out on the cliff to see night fall in earnest upon the scene, perhaps
between wild sweeps of drenching and blinding spray, he might have
caught sight of a little vessel, with only its jib set, plunging and
laboring in the trough of the Atlantic outside. And if the spectacle
had met his eyes, unquestionably his first instinct would have been to
mutter a prayer for the souls of the doomed men upon this fated craft.

On board the _Hen Hawk_ a good many prayers had already been said. The
small coaster seemed, to its terrified crew, to have shrunk to the size
of a walnut shell, so wholly was it the plaything of the giant waters
which heaved and tumbled about it, and shook the air with the riotous
tumult of their sport. There were moments when the vessel hung poised
and quivering upon the very ridge of a huge mountain of sea, like an
Alpine climber who shudders to find himself balanced upon a crumbling
foot of rock between two awful depths of precipice; then would come the
breathless downward swoop into howling space and the fierce buffeting
of ton-weight blows as the boat staggered blindly at the bottom of the
abyss; then again the helpless upward sweep, borne upon the shoulders
of titan waves which reared their vast bulk into the sky, the dizzy
trembling upon the summit, and the hideous plunge--a veritable nightmare
of torture and despair.

Five men lay or knelt on deck huddled about the mainmast, clinging
to its hoops and ropes for safety. Now and again, when the vessel
was lifted to the top of the green walls of water, they caught vague
glimpses of the distant rocks, darkling through the night mists, which
sheltered Muirisc, their home--and knew in their souls that they were
never to reach that home alive. The time for praying was past. Drenched
to the skin, choked with the salt spray, nearly frozen in the bitter
winter cold, they clung numbly to their hold, and awaited the end.

One of them strove to gild the calamity with cheerfulness, by humming
and groaning the air of a “come-all-ye” ditty, the croon of which rose
with quaint persistency after the crash of each engulfing wave had
passed. The others were, perhaps, silently grateful to him--but they
felt that if Jerry had been a born Muirisc man, he could not have done
it.

At the helm, soaked and gaunt as a water-rat, with his feet braced
against the waist-rails, and the rudder-bar jammed under his arm and
shoulder, was a sixth man--the master and owner of the _Hen Hawk_. The
strain upon his physical strength, in thus by main force holding the
tiller right, had for hours been unceasing--and one could see by his
dripping face that he was deeply wearied. But sign of fear there was
none.

Only a man brought up in the interior of a country, and who had come to
the sea late in life, would have dared bring this tiny cockle-shell of a
coaster into such waters upon such a coast. The O’Ma-hony might himself
have been frightened had he known enough about navigation to understand
his present danger. As it was, all his weariness could nor destroy
the keen sense of pleasurable excitement he had in the tremendous
experience. He forgot crew and cargo and vessel itself in the splendid
zest of this mad fight with the sea and the storm. He clung to the
tiller determinedly, bowing his head to the rush of the broken waves
when they fell, and bending knees and body this way and that to answer
the wild tossings and sidelong plung-ings of the craft--always with a
light as of battle in his gray eyes. It was ever so much better than
fighting with mere men.

The gloom of twilight ripened into pitchy darkness, broken only by
momentary gleams of that strange, weird half-light which the rushing
waves generate in their own crests of foam. The wind rose in violence
when the night closed in, and the vessel’s timbers creaked in added
travail as huge seas lifted and hurled her onward through the black
chaos toward the rocks. The men by the mast could every few minutes
discern the red lights from the cottage windows of Muirisc, and
shuddered anew as the glimmering sparks grew nearer.

Four of these five unhappy men were Muirisc born, and knew the sea as
they knew their own mothers. The marvel was that they had not revolted
against this wanton sacrifice of their lives to the whim or perverse
obstinacy of an ignorant landsman, who a year ago had scarcely known
a rudder from a jib-boom. They themselves dimly wondered at it now, as
they strained their eyes for a glimpse of the fatal crags ahead. They
had indeed ventured upon some mild remonstrance, earlier in the day,
while it had still been possible to set the mainsail, and by long tacks
turn the vessel’s course. But The O’Mahony had received their suggestion
with such short temper and so stern a refusal, that there had been
nothing more to be said--bound to him as Muirisc men to their chief, and
as Fenians to their leader, as they were. And soon thereafter it became
too late to do aught but scud bare-poled before the gale; and now there
was nothing left but to die.

They could hear at last, above the shrill clamor of wind and rolling
waves, the sullen roar of breakers smashing against the cliffs. They
braced themselves for the great final crash, and muttered fragments of
the Litany of the Saints between clenched teeth.

A prodigious sea grasped the vessel and lifted it to a towering height,
where for an instant it hung trembling. Then with a leap it made a
sickening dive down, down, till it was fairly engulfed in the whirling
floods which caught it and swept wildly over its decks. A sinister
thrill ran through the stout craft’s timbers, and upon the instant came
the harsh grinding sound of its keel against the rocks. The men shut
their eyes.

A dreadful second--and lo! the _Hen Hawk_, shaking herself buoyantly
like a fisher-fowl emerging after a plunge, floated upon gently rocking
waters--with the hoarse tumult of storm and breakers comfortably behind
her, and at her sides only the sighing-harp music of the wind in the
sea-reeds.

“Hustle now, an’ git out your anchor!” called out the cheerful voice of
The O’Mahony, from the tiller.

The men scrambled from their knees as in a dream. They ran out the
chain, reefed the jib, and then made their way over the flush deck aft,
slapping their arms for warmth, still only vaguely realizing that they
were actually moored in safety, inside the sheltered salt-water marsh,
or _muirisc_, which gave their home its name.

This so-called swamp was at high tide, in truth, a very respectable
inlet, which lay between the tongue of arable land on which the hamlet
was built and the high jutting cliffs of the coast to the south. Its
entrance, a stretch of water some forty yards in width, was over a bar
of rock which at low tide could only be passed by row-boats. At its
greatest daily depth, there was not much water to spare under the
forty-five tons of the Hen Hawk. She had been steered now in utter
darkness, with only the scattered and confusing lights of the houses
to the left for guidance, unerringly upon the bar, and then literally
lifted and tossed over it by the great rolling wall of breakers. She lay
now tossing languidly on the choppy waters of the marsh, as if breathing
hard after undue exertion--secure at last behind the cliffs.

The O’Mahony slapped _his_ arms in turn, and looked about him. He
was not in the least conscious of having performed a feat which any
yachtsman in British waters would regard as incredible.

“Now, Jerry,” he said, calmly, “you git ashore and bring out the boat.
You other fellows open the hatchway, an’ be gittin’ the things out. Be
careful about your candle down-stairs. You know why. It won’t do to
have a light up here on deck. Some of the women might happen to come
out-doors an see us.”

Without a word, the crew, even yet dazed at their miraculous escape,
proceeded to carry out his orders. The O’Mahony bit from his plug a
fresh mouthful of tobacco, and munched it meditatively, walking up and
down the deck in the darkness, and listening to the high wind howling
overhead.

The _Hen Hawk_ had really been built at Barnstable, a dozen years
before, for the Devon fisheries, but she did not look unlike those
unwieldy Dutch boats which curious summer visitors watch with unfailing
interest from the soft sands of Scheveningen.

Her full-flushed deck had been an afterthought, dating back to the
time when her activities were diverted from the fishing to the carrying
industry. The O’Mahony had bought her at Cork, ostensibly for use in
the lobster-canning enterprise which he had founded at Muirisc.
Duck-breasted, squat and thick-lined, she looked the part to perfection.

The men were busy now getting out from the hold below a score of small
kegs, each wrapped in oil skin swathings, and, after these, more than
a score of long, narrow wooden cases, which, as they were passed up the
little gangway from the glow of candlelight into the darkness, bore
a gloomy resemblance to coffins. An hour passed before the empty boat
returned from shore, having landed its finishing load, and the six men,
stiff and chilled, clumsily swung themselves over the side of the vessel
into it.

“Sure, it’s a new layse of life, I’m beginnin’,” murmured one of them,
Dominic by name, as he clambered out upon the stone landing-place. “It’s
dead I was intoirely--an’ restricted agin, glory be to the Lord!”

“Sh-h! You shall have some whisky to make a fresh start on when we’re
through,” said The O’Mahony. “Jerry, you run ahead an’ open the side
door. Don’t make any noise. Mrs. Sullivan’s got ears that can hear grass
growin’. We’ll follow on with the things.”

The carrying of the kegs and boxes across the village common to the
castle, in which the master bore his full share of work, consumed nearly
another hour. Some of the cottage lights ceased to burn. Not a soul
stirred out of doors.

The entrance opened by Jerry was a little postern door, access to which
was gained through the deserted and weed-grown church-yard, and the
possible use of which was entirely unsuspected by even the housekeeper,
let alone the villagers at large. The men bore their burdens through
this, traversing a long, low-arched passage-way, built entirely of
stone and smelling like an ancient tomb. Thence their course was down
a precipitous, narrow stairway, winding like the corkscrew stairs of a
tower, until, at a depth of thirty feet or more, they reached a small
square chamber, the air of which was mustiness itself. Here a candle was
fastened in a bracket, and the men put down their loads. Here, too, it
was that Jerry, when the last journey had been made, produced a bottle
and glasses and dispensed his master’s hospitality in raw spirits, which
the men gulped down without a whisper about water.

“Mind!--day after to-morrow; five o’clock in the morning, sharp!” said
The O’Mahony, in admonitory tones. Then he added, more softly: “Jest
take it easy to-morrow; loaf around to suit yourselves, so long’s you
keep sober. You’ve had a pritty tough day of it Good-night. Jerry’n
me’ll do the rest. Jest pull the door to when you go out.”

With answering “Good nights,” and a formal hand-shake all around, the
four villagers left the room. Their tired footsteps were heard with
diminishing distinctness as they went up the stairs.

Jerry turned and surveyed his master from head to foot by the light of
the candle on the wall.

“O’Mahony,” he said, impressively, “you’re a divil, an’ no mistake!”

The other put the bottle to his mouth first. Then he licked his lips and
chuckled grimly.

“Them fellows was scared out of their boots, wasn’t they? An’ you, too,
eh?” he asked.

“Well, sir, you know it as well as I, the lives of the lot of us would
have been high-priced at a thruppenny-bit.”

“Pshaw, man! You fellows don’t know what fun is. Why, she was safe as a
house every minute. An’ here I was, goin’ to compliment you on gittin’
through the hull voyage without bein’ sick once--thought, at last, I was
really goin’ to make a sailor of you.”

“Egor, afther to-day I’ll believe I’ve the makin’ of annything under
the sun in me--or on top of it, ayther. But, sure, sir, you’ll not deny
’twas timptin’ providence saints’ good-will to come in head over heels
under wather, the way we did?”

“We _had_ to be here--that’s all,” said The O’Mahony, briefly. “I’ve got
to meet a man tomorrow, at a place some distance from here, sure pop;
and then there’s the big job on next day.” Jerry said no more, and The
O’Mahony took the candle down from the iron ring in the wall.

“D’ye know, I noticed somethin’ cur’ous in the wall out on the staircase
here as we come down?” he said, bearing the light before him as he moved
to the door. “It’s about a dozen steps up. Here it is! What d’ye guess
that might a-been?”

The O’Mahony held the candle close to the curved wall, and indicated
with his free hand a couple of regular and vertical seams in the
masonry, about two feet apart, and nearly a man’s height in length.

“There’s a door there, or I’m a Dutchman,” he said, lifting and lowering
the light in his scrutiny.

The mediæval builders could have imagined no sight more weird than that
of the high, fantastic shadows thrown upon the winding, well-like walls
by this drenched and saturnine figure, clad in oilskins instead of
armor, and peering into their handiwork with the curiosity of a man
nurtured in a log-cabin.

“Egor, would it be a dure?” exclaimed the wondering Jerry.

His companion handed the candle to him, and took from his pocket a big
jack-knife--larger, if anything, than the weapon which had been left
under the window of the little farm-house at Five Forks. He ran the
large blade up and down the two long, straight cracks, tapping the
stonework here and there with the butt of the handle afterward. Finally,
after numerous experiments, he found the trick--a bolt to be pushed down
by a blade inserted not straight but obliquely--and a thick, iron-bound
door, faced with masonry, but with an oaken lining, swung open, heavily
and unevenly, upon some concealed pivots.

The O’Mahony took the light once more, thrust it forward to make sure of
his footing, and then stepped over the newly-discovered threshold,
Jerry close at his heels. They pushed their way along a narrow and
evil-smelling passage, so low that they were forced to bend almost
double. Suddenly, after traversing this for a long distance, their path
was blocked by another door, somewhat smaller than the other. This gave
forth a hollow sound when tested by blows.

“It ain’t very thick,” said The O’Mahony. “I’ll put my shoulder against
it. I guess I can bust her open.”

The resistance was even less than he had anticipated. One energetic
shove sufficed; the door flew back with a swift splintering of rotten
wood. The O’Mahony went stumbling sidelong into the darkness as the
door gave way. At the moment a strange, rumbling sound was heard at
some remote height above them, and then a crash nearer at hand, the
thundering reverberation of which rang with loud echoes through the
vault-like passage. The concussion almost put out the candle, and Jerry
noted that the hand which he instinctively put out to shield the flame
was trembling.

“Show a light in here, can’t ye?” called out The O’Mahony from the black
obscurity beyond the broken door. “Sounds as if the hull darned castle
’d been blown down over our heads.”

Jerry timorously advanced, candle well out in front of him. Its small
radiance served dimly to disclose what seemed to be a large chamber,
or even hall, high-roofed and spacious. Its floor of stone flags was
covered with dry mold. The walls were smoothed over with a gray coat of
plastering, whole patches of which had here and there fallen, and more
of which tumbled even now as they looked. They saw that this plastering
had been decorated by zigzag, saw-toothed lines in three or four colors,
now dulled and in places scarcely discernible. The room was irregularly
shaped. At its narrower end was a big, roughly built fireplace, on the
hearth of which lay ashes and some charred bits of wood, covered, like
the stone itself, by a dry film of mold. The O’Mahony held the candle
under the flue. The way in which the flame swayed and pointed itself
showed that the chimney was open.

Cooking utensils, some of metal, some of pottery, but all alike of
strange form, were bestowed on the floor on either side of the hearth.
There was a single wooden chair, with a high, pointed back, standing
against the wall, and in front of this lay a rug of cowskin, the reddish
hair of which came off at the touch. Beside this chair was a low,
oblong wooden chest, with a lifting-lid curiously carved, and apparently
containing nothing but rolls of parchment and leather-bound volumes.

At the other and wider end of the room was an archway built in the
stone, and curtained by hangings of thick, mildewed cloth. The O’Mahony
drew these aside, and Jerry advanced with the light.

In a little recess, and reaching from side to side of the arched walls,
was built a bed of oaken beams, its top the height of a man’s middle.
Withered and faded straw lay piled on the wood, and above this both
thick cloth similar to the curtains and finer fabrics which looked like
silk. The candle shook in Jerry’s hand, and came near to falling, at the
discovery which followed.

On the bed lay stretched the body of a bearded and tonsured man, clad
in a long, heavy, dark woolen gown, girt at the waist with a leathern
thong--as strangely dried and mummified as are the dead preserved in St.
Michan’s vaults at Dublin or in the Bleikeller of the Dom at Bremen.
The shriveled, tan-colored face bore a weird resemblance to that of the
hereditary bard.

The O’Mahony looked wonderingly down upon this grim spectacle, the while
Jerry crossed himself.

“Guess there won’t be much use of callin’ a doctor for _him_,” said the
master, at last.

Then he backed away, to let the curtains fall, and yawned.

“I’m about tuckered out,” he said, stretching his arms. “Let’s go up
now an’ take somethin’ warm, and git to bed. We’ll keep mum about this
place. P’rhaps--I shouldn’t wonder--it might come in handy for O’Daly.”



CHAPTER XI--A FACE FROM OUT THE WINDING-SHEET.

The sun was shining brightly in a clear sky next morning, when the
people of Muirisc finally got up out of bed, and, still rubbing their
eyes, strolled forth to note the ravages of last night’s storm, and talk
with one another about it.

There was much to marvel at and discuss at length in garrulous groups
before the cottage doors. One whole wing of the ancient convent
structure--that which tradition ascribed to the pious building fervor of
Cathal _an Diomuis_, or “the Haughty”--had been thrown down during the
night, and lay now a tumbled mass of stones and timber piled in wild
disorder upon the _débris_ of previous ruins. But inasmuch as the fallen
building had long been roofless and disused, and its collapse meant only
another added layer of chaos in the deserted convent-yard, Muirisc did
not worry its head much about it, and even yawned in Cormac O’Daly’s
face as he wandered from one knot of gossips to another, relating
legends about Cathal the Proud.

What interested them considerably more was the report, confirmed now
by O’Daly himself, that just before the crash came, six people in the
reception hall of the convent had distinctly heard the voice of the
Hostage from the depths below the cloistral building. Everybody in
Muirisc knew all about the Hostage. They had been, so to speak, brought
up with him. Prolonged familiarity with the pathetic story of his
death in exile, here at Muirisc, and constant contact with his name as
perpetuated in the title of their unique convent, made him a sort of
oldest inhabitant of the place. Their lively imaginations now quickly
built up and established the belief that he was heard to complain,
somewhere under the convent, once every fifty years. Old Ellen Dumphy
was able to fix the period with exactness because when the mysterious
sound was last heard she was a young woman, and had her face bound up,
and was almost “disthracted wid the sore teeth.”

But most interesting of all was the fact that there, before their eyes,
riding easily upon the waters of the Muirisc, lay the _Hen Hawk_, as
peacefully and safely at anchor as if no gale had ever thundered upon
the cliffs outside. The four men of her crew, when they made their
belated appearance in the morning sunlight out-of-doors, were eagerly
questioned, and they told with great readiness and a flowering wealth
of adjectives the marvelous story of how The O’Mahony aimed her in
pitch darkness at the bar, and hurled her over it at precisely the
psychological moment, with just the merest scraping of her keel. To the
seafaring senses of those who stood now gazing at the vessel there was
more witchcraft in this than in the subterranean voice of the Hostage
even.

“Ah, thin, ’tis our O’Mahony’s the grand divil of a man!” they
murmured, admiringly.

No work was to be expected, clearly, on the day after such an
achievement as this. The villagers stood about, and looked at the squat
coaster, snugly raising and sinking with the lazy movement of the tide,
and watched for the master of Muirisc to show himself. They had never
before been conscious of such perfect pride in and affection for this
strange Americanized chieftain of theirs. By an unerring factional
instinct, they felt that this apotheosis of The O’Mahony in their hearts
involved the discomfiture of O’Daly and the nuns, and they let the
hereditary bard feel it, too.

“Ah, now, Cormac O’Daly,” one of the women called out to the poet, as he
hung, black-visaged and dejected, upon the skirts of the group, “tell me
man, was it anny of yer owld Diarmids and Cathals ye do be perplexin’ us
wid that wud a-steered that boat beyond over the bar at black midnight,
wid a gale outside fit to blow mountains into the say? Sure, it’s not
botherin’ his head wid books, or delutherin’ his moind wid ancestral
mummeries, or wearyin’ the bones an’ marrow out of the saints wid
attendin’ their business instead of his own, that _our_ O’Mahony do be
after practicin’.”

The bard opened his lips to reply. Then the gleam of enjoyment in the
woman’s words which shone from all the faces roundabout, dismayed him.
He shook his head, and walked away in silence. Meanwhile The O’Mahony,
after a comfortable breakfast, and a brief consultation with Jerry, had
put on his hat and strolled out through the pretentious arched doorway
of his tumble-down abode. From the outer gate he saw the clustered
villagers upon the wharf, and guessed what they were saying and thinking
about him and his boat. He smiled contentedly to himself, and lighted
a cigar. Then, sucking this with gravity, hands in pockets and hat well
back on head, he turned and sauntered across the turreted corner of
his castle into the ancient church-yard, which lay between it and the
convent. The place was one crowded area of mortuary wreckage--flat
tombstones sunken deep into the earth; monumental tablets, once erect,
now tipping at every crazy angle; pre-historic, weather-beaten runic
crosses lying broken and prone; more modern and ambitious sarcophagi of
brick and stone, from which sides or ends had fallen away, revealing
to every eye their ghostly contents; the ground covered thickly with
nettles and umbrageous weeds, under which the unguided foot continually
encountered old skulls and human bones--a grave-yard such as can be seen
nowhere in the world save in western Ireland.

The O’Mahony picked his way across this village Golgotha, past the ruins
of the ancient church, and into the grounds to the rear of the convent
buildings, clambering as he went over whole series of tumbled masonry
heaped in weed-grown ridges, until he stood upon the edge of the havoc
wrought by this latest storm.

No rapt antiquary ever gazed with more eagerness upon the remains of a
pre-Aryan habitation than The O’Mahony now displayed in his scrutiny
of the destruction worked by last night’s storm, and of the group of
buildings its fury had left unscathed. He took a paper from his
pocket, and compared a rude drawing upon it with various points in the
architecture about him which he indicated with nods of the head. People
watching him might have differed as to whether he was a student of
antiquities, a builder or an insurance agent. Probably none would
have guessed that he was striving to identify some one of the numerous
chimneys-before him with a certain fireplace which he knew of,
five-and-twenty feet underground.

As he stood thus, absorbed in calculation, he felt a little hand steal
into his big palm, and nestle there confidingly. His face put on a
pleased smile, even before he bent it toward the intruder.

“Hello, Skeezucks, is that you?” he said, gently. “Well, they’ve gone
an’ busted your ole convent up the back, here, in great shape, ain’t
they?”

Every one of the score of months that had passed since these two first
met, seemed to have added something to the stature of little Kate
O’Mahony. She had grown, in truth, to be a tall girl for her age--and an
erect girl, holding her head well in air, into the bargain. Her face had
lost its old shy, scared look--at least in this particular company. It
was filling out into the likeness of a pretty face, with a pleasant glow
of health upon the cheeks, and a happy twinkle in the big, dark eyes.

For answer, the child lifted and swung his hand, and playfully butted
her head sidewise against his waist.

“’Tis I that wouldn’t mind if it all came down,” she said, in the
softest West Carbery brogue the ear could wish.

“What!” exclaimed the other, in mock consternation. “Well, I never! Why,
here’s a gal that don’t want to go to school, or learn now to read an’
cipher or nothin’! P’r’aps you’d ruther work in the lobster fact’ry?”

“No, I’d sail in the boat with you,” said Kate, promptly and with
confidence.

The O’Mahony laughed aloud.

“I guess you’d a got your fill of it yisterday, sis,” he remarked.

“It’s that I’d have liked best of all,” she pursued. “Ah! take me with
you, O’Mahony, whin next the waves are up and the wind’s tearin’ fit to
bust itsilf. I’ll not die till I’ve been out in the thick of it, wance
for all.”

“Why, gal alive, you’d a-be’n smashed into sausage-meat!” chuckled the
man. “Still, you’re right, though. They ain’t nothin’ else in the world
fit to hold a candle to it. Egad! Some time I _will_ take you, sis!”

The child spoke more seriously:

“Sure, we’re the O’Mahonys of the Coast of White Foam, according to
O’Heerin’s old verse, and it’s in my blood as well as yours.”

“Right you are, sis!” he responded, smiling, as he added under his
breath: “an’ mebbe a trifle more.” Then, after a moment’s pause, he
changed the subject.

“See here; you’re up on these things--in fact, they don’t seem to learn
you anything else--hain’t I heerd O’Daly tell about the old O’Mahonys
luggin’ round a box full o’ saints’ bones when they went on a rampage,
to sort o’ give ’em luck! I got to thinkin’ about it last night after
I went to bed, but I couldn’t jest git it straight in my head.”

“It’s the _cathach_” (she pronounced it _caha_) “you mane,” Kate
answered. “Sometimes it contained bones, but more often ’twas a
crozieror a holy book from the saint’s own pen, or a part of his
vest-mints.”

“No; I like the bones notion best,” said The O’Mahony. “There’s
something substantial an’ solid about bones. If you’ve got a genuine
saint’s bones, it’s a thing he’s bound to take an interest in, an’ see
through; whereas, them other things--his books an’ his clo’se an’ so
on--why, he may a-been sick an’ tired of ’em years ’fore he died.”

It was the girl’s turn to laugh.

“It’s a strange new fit of piety ye’ve on yeh, O’Mahony,” she said, with
the familiarity of a spoiled pet. “Sure, when I tell the nuns, they’ll
be lookin’ to see you build up a whole foine new convint for ‘em without
delay.”

“No; I’m savin’ that till you git to be the boss nun,” said The
O’Mahony, dryly, and with a grin.

“’Tis older than Methusalem ye’ll be thin!” asked the child,
laughingly. And with that she seized his hand once more and dragged him
forward to a closer inspection of the ruins.

Some hours later, having been driven across country to Dunmanway by
Malachy, and thence taken the local train onward, The O’Mahony found
himself in the station at Ballineen, with barely time enough to hurry
across the tracks and leap into the train which was already starting
westward. In this he was borne back over the road he had just traversed,
until a stop was made at Manch station. The O’Mahony alighted here, much
pleased with the strategy which made him appear to have come from the
east. He took an outside car, and was driven some two miles into the
bleak, mountainous country beyond Toome, to a wayside inn known as
Kearney’s Retreat. Here he dismounted, bidding the carman solace himself
with drink, and wait.

Entering the tavern, he paused at the bar and asked for two small
bottles of porter to be poured in one glass. Two or three men were
loitering about the room, and he spoke just loud enough to make sure
that all might hear him. Then, having drained the glass, and stood idly
conversing for a minute or two with the woman at the bar, he made his
way through a side door into the adjoining ball alley, where some young
fellows of the neighborhood chanced to be engaged in a game.

He stood apart, watching their play, for only a few moments. Then one of
the men whom he had seen but not looked closely at in the bar, came up
to him, and said from behind, in an interrogative whisper:

“Captain Harrier, I believe?”

“Yes,” said The O’Mahony, “Captain Harrier--” with a vague notion of
having heard that voice before.

Then he turned, and in the straggling roof-light of the alley beheld the
other’s face. It taxed to the utmost every element of self-possession in
him to choke down the exclamation which sprang to his lips.

The man before him was Linsky!--Linsky risen from the dead, with the
scarred gash visible on his throat, and the shifty blue-green eyes still
bloodshot, and set with reddened eyelids in a freckled face.

“Yes--Captain--Harrier,” he repeated, lingering upon each word, as his
brain fiercely strove to assert mastery over amazement, apprehension and
perplexity.

The new-comer looked full into the The O’Mahony’s face without any sign
whatever of recognition.

“Thin I’m to place mesilf at your disposal,” he said, briefly. “You know
more of what’s in the air than I do, no doubt. Everything is arranged, I
hear, for rising in both Cork an’ Tralee to-morrow, an’ in manny
places in both counties besides. Officially, however, I know nothing of
this--an’ have no right to know. I’m just to put mysilf at your command,
and deliver anny messages you desire to sind to other cinters in your
district. Here’s me papers.”

The O’Mahony barely glanced at the inclosures of the envelope handed
him. They took the familiar form of a business letter of introduction,
and a commercial contract, signed by a firm-name which to the
uninitiated bore no significance. He noted that the name given was
“Major Lynch.” He observed also, with satisfaction, that his hand, as
it held the papers, was entirely steady. “Everybody’s been notified,”
 he said, after a time, instinctively assuming a slight hoarseness of
speech. “I’ve been all over the ground, myself. You can meet me--let’s
see--say at the bottom of the black rock jest overlookin’ the marteller
tower at----at eleven o’clock, sharp, to-morrow forenoon. The rocks
behind the tower, mind--t’other side of the coast-guard houses. You’ll
see me land from my boat.”

“I’ll not fail,” said the other. “I can bring a gun--moryah, I’m
shooting at say-gulls.”

“They ain’t much need of that,” responded The O’Mahony. “You might git
stopped an’ questioned. There’ll be guns enough. Of course, the takin’
of the tower’ll be as easy as rollin’ off a log. The thing’ll be to hold
it afterward.”

“We’ll howld whatever we take, sir, all Ireland over,” said Major Lynch,
with enthusiasm.

“I hope so! Good-bye. Mind, eleven sharp,” was the response, and the two
men separated.

The O’Mahony did not wait for the finish of the game of ball, but
sauntered out of the alley through the end door, walked to his car,
and set off direct for Toome. At this place he decided to drive on to
Dunmanway station. Dismissing the carman at the door, and watching his
departure, he walked over to the hotel, joined the waiting Malachy, and
soon was well on his jolting way back to Muirisc.

Curiously enough, the bearing of Linsky’s return upon his own
personal fortunes and safety bore a very small part in The O’Mahony’s
meditations, as he clung to his seat over the rough homeward road. All
that might take care of itself, and he pushed it almost contemptuously
aside in his mind. What he did ponder upon unceasingly, and with growing
distrust, was the suspicion with which the manner of the man’s offer to
deliver messages had inspired him.



CHAPTER XII--A TALISMAN AND A TRAITOR

At five o’clock on this February morning it was still dark. For more
than half an hour a light had been from time to time visible, flitting
about in the inhabited parts of the castle. There was no answering
gleams from any of the cottage windows, along the other side of the
village green; but all the same, solitary figures began to emerge from
the cabins, until eighteen men had crossed the open space and were
gathered upon the little stone pier at the edge of the _muirisc_. They
stood silently together, with only now and again a whispered word,
waiting for they knew not what.

Presently, by the faint semblance of light which was creeping up behind
the eastern hills, they saw Jerry, Malachy and Dominic approaching, each
bearing a burden on his back. These were two of the long coffin-like
boxes and two kegs, one prodigiously heavy, the other by comparison
light. They were deposited on the wharf without a word, and the two
first went back again, while Dominic silently led the others in the task
of bestowing what all present knew to be guns, lead and powder, on board
the _Hen Hawk_. This had been done, and the men had again waited for
some minutes before The O’Mahony made his appearanee.

He advanced through the obscure morning twilight with a brisk
step, whistling softly as he came. The men noted that he wore
shooting-clothes, with gaiters to the knee, and a wide-brimmed, soft,
black hat, even then known in Ireland as the American hat, just as the
Americans had previously called it the Kossuth.

Half-way, but within full view of the waiting group, he stopped, and
looked critically at the sky. Then he stepped aside from the path, and
took off this hat of his. The men wondered what it meant.

Jerry was coming along again from the castle, his arms half filled
with parcels. He stopped beside the chief, and stood facing the path,
removing his cap as well.

Then the puzzled observers saw Malachy looming out of the misty shadows,
also bare-headed, and carrying at arms length before him a square case,
about in bulk like a hat-box. As he passed The O’Mahony and Jerry they
bowed, and then fell in behind him, and marched, still uncovered, toward
the landing-place.

The tide was at its flood, and the _Hen Hawk_ had been hauled by ropes
up close to the wharf. Malachy, with stolid face and solemn mien, strode
in fine military style over the gunwale and along the flush deck to the
bow. Here he deposited his mysterious burden, bowed to it, and then put
on the hat he had been carrying under his arm.

The men crowded on board at this--all save two, who now rowed forward in
a small boat, and began pulling the _Hen Hawk_ out over the bar with a
hawser. As the unwieldy craft slowly moved, The O’Mahony turned a long,
ruminative gaze upon the sleeping hamlet they were leaving behind. The
whole eastern sky was awake now with light--light which lay in brilliant
bars of lemon hue upon the hill-tops, and mellowed upward through opal
and pearl into fleecy ashen tints. The two in the boat dropped behind,
fastened their tiny craft to the stern, and clambered on board.

A fresh, chill breeze caught and filled the jib once they had passed the
bar, and the crew laid their hands upon the ropes, expecting orders to
hoist the mainsail and mizzen-sheets. But The O’Mahony gave no sign, and
lounged in silence against the tiller, spitting over the taffrail into
the water, until the vessel had rounded the point and stood well off
the cliffs, out of sight of Muirisc, plunging softly along through the
swell. Then he beckoned Dominic to the helm, and walked over toward the
mast, with a gesture which summoned the whole score of men about him. To
them he began the first speech he had ever made in his life:

“Now, boys,” he said, “prob’ly you’ve noticed that the name’s been
painted off the starn of this ere vessel, over night. You must ’a’
figured it out from that, that we’re out on the loose, so to speak.
Thay’s only a few of ye that have ever known me as a Fenian. It was agin
the rules that you should know me, but I’ve known you all, an’ I’ve be’n
watchin’ you drill, night after night, unbeknown to you. In fact, it
come to the same thing as my drillin’ you myself--because, until I
taught your center, Jerry, he knew about as much about it as a pig knows
about ironin’ a shirt. Well, now you all see me. I’m your boss Fenian in
these parts.”

“Huroo!” cried the men, waving their hats.

I don’t really suppose this intelligence surprised them in the least,
but they fell gracefully in with The O’Mahony’s wish that it should seem
to do so, as is the polite wont of their race.

“Well,” he continued, colloquially, “here we are! We’ve been waitin’ and
workin’ for a deuce of a long time. Now, at last, they’s somethin’ for
us to do. It ain’t my fault that it didn’t come months and months ago.
But that don’t matter now. What I want to know is: are you game to
follow me?”

“We are, O’Mahony!” they called out, as one man.

“That’s right. I guess you know me well enough by this time to know I
don’t ask no man to go where I’m afeared to go myself. There’s goin’ to
be some fightin’, though, an’ you fellows are new to that sort of thing.
Now, I’ve b’en a soldier, on an’ off, a good share of my life. I ain’t a
bit braver than you are, only I know more about what it’s like than you
do. An’ besides, I should be all-fired sorry to have any of ye git hurt.
You’ve all b’en as good to me as your skins could hold, an’ I’ll do my
best to see you through this thing, safe an’ sound.”

“Cheers for The O’Mahony!” some one cried out, excitedly; but he held up
a warning hand.

“Better not holler till you git out o’ the woods,” he said, and then
went on: “Seein’ that you’ve never, any of you, be’n under fire, I’ve
thought of somethin’ that’ll help you to keep a stiff upper-lip, when
the time comes to need it. A good many of you are O’Mahonys born; all
of you come from men who have followed The O’Mahony of their time in
battle. Well, in them old days, you know, they used to carry their
_cathach_ with them, to bring ’em luck, same as American boys spit on
their bait when they’re fishin’. So I’ve had Malachy, here, bring along
a box, specially made for the purpose, an’ it’s chuck full of the bones
of a family saint of mine. We found him--me an’ Jerry--after the wind
had blown part of the convent down, layin’ just where he was put when
he died, with the crucifix in his hands, and a monk’s gown on. I ain’t a
very good man, an’ p’r’aps you fellows have noticed that I ain’t much of
a hand for church, or that sort of thing; but I says to myself, when I
found this dead an’ dried body of an O’Mahony who _was_ pious an’ good
an’ all that: ‘You shall come along with us, friend, an’ see our tussle
through.’ He was an Irishman in the days when Irishmen run their own
country in their own way, an’ I thought he’d be glad to come along with
us now, an’ see whether we was fit to call ourselves Irishmen, too. An’
I reckon you’ll be glad, too, to have him with us.”

Stirred by a solitary impulse, the men looked toward the box at the
bow--a rudely built little chest, with strips of worn leather nailed to
its sides and top--and took off their hats.

“We are, O’Mahony!” they cried.

“Up with your sails, then!” The O’Mahony shouted, with a sudden change
to eager animation. And in a twinkling the _Hen Hawk_ had ceased dal
lying, and, with stiffly bowed canvas and a buoyant, forward careen, was
kicking the spray behind her into the receding picture of the Dunmanus
cliffs.

*****

Nearly five hours later, a little council, or, one might better say,
dialogue of war, was held at the stern of the speeding vessel.
The rifles had long since been taken out and put together, and the
cartridges which Jerry had already made up distributed. The men were
gathered forward, ready for whatever adventure their chief had in mind.

“I’m goin’ to lay to in a minute or two,” confided The O’Mahony to
Jerry, in an undertone.

Jerry looked inquiringly up and down the deserted stretch of brown
headlands before them. Not a sign of habitation was in view.

“Is it _this_ we’ve come to besayge and capture?” he asked, with
incredulity.

“No. Right round that corner, though, lays the marteller tower we’re
after. Up to yesterday my plan was jest to sail bang up to her an’
walk in. But somethin ’s happened to change my notions. They’ve sent a
fellow--an American Irishman--to be what they call my ‘cojutor.’ I don’t
jest know what it means; but, whatever it is, I don’t think much of it.
He’s waitin’ over there for me to land. Well, now, I’m goin’ to land
here instid, an’ take five of the men with me, an’ kind o’ santer down
toward the tower from the land side, keepin’ behind the hedges. You’ll
stay on board here, with Dominic at the helm under your orders, and only
the jib and mizzen-top up, and jest mosey along into the cove toward the
tower, keepin’ your men out o’ sight and watchin’ for me. If there’s a
nigger in the fence, I’ll smoke him out that way.”

Some further directions in detail followed, and then the bulk of the
canvas was struck, and the vessel hove to. The small boat was drawn to
the side, and the landing party descended to it. One of their own number
took the oars, for it was intended to keep the boat in waiting on the
beach. Their guns lay in the bottom, and they were conscious of a
novel weight of ammunition in their pockets. They waved their hands in
salution to the friends and neighbors they were leaving, and then, with
a vigorous sweep of the oars, the boat went tossing on her course to the
barren, rocky shore.

The O’Mahony, curled up on the seat at the bow, scanned the wide
prospect with a roving scrutiny. No sail was visible on the whole
horizon. A drab, hazy stain over the distant sky-line told only that the
track of the great Atlantic steamers lay outward many miles. On the
land side--where rough, blackened boulders rose in ugly points from the
lapping water, as outposts to serried ranks of lichened rocks which, in
their turn, straggled backward in slanting ascent to the summit, masked
by shaggy growths of furze--no token of human life was visible.

[Illustration: 0143]

A landing-place was found, and the boat securely drawm up on shore
beyond highwater mark. Then The O’Mahony led the way, gun in hand,
across the slippery reach of wet sea-weed, and thence, by winding
courses, obliquely up the hillside. He climbed from crag to crag with
the agility of a goat, but the practiced Muirisc men kept close at his
heels.

Arrived at the top, he paused in the shelter of the furze bushes to
study the situation.

It was a great and beautiful panorama upon which he looked meditatively
down. The broad bay lay proudly in the arms of an encircling wall of
cliffs, whose terraced heights rose and spread with the dignity of some
amphitheatre of the giants. At their base, the blue waters broke in
a caressing ripple of cream-like foam; afar off, the sunshine crowned
their purple heads with a golden haze. Through the center of this noble
sweep of sheltering hills cleft the wooded gorge of a river, whose
mouth kissed the strand in the screening shadow of a huge mound, reared
precipitously above the sea-front, but linked by level stretches of
sward to the mainland behind. On the summit of this mound, overlooking
the bay, was one of those curious old martello towers with which England
marked the low comedy stage of her panic about Bonaparte’s invasion.

The tower--a squat, circular stone fort, with a basement for magazine
purposes, and an upper story for defensive operations--kept its look-out
for Corsican ghosts in solitude. Considerably to this side, on the edge
of the cliff, was a white cluster of coast-guard houses, in the yard of
which two or three elderly men in sailor attire could be seen sunning
themselves. Away in the distance, on the farther bend of the bay, the
roofs and walls of a cluster of cottages were visible, and above these,
among the trees, scattered glimpses of wealthier residences.

Of all this vast spectacle The O’Mahony saw nothing but the martello
tower, and the several approaches to it past the coast-guard houses. He
chose the best of these, and led the way, crouching low behind the line
of hedges, until the whole party halted in the cover of a clump of
young sycamores, upon the edge of the open space leading to the mound.
A hundred feet away from them, at the base of a jagged bowlder of black
slatish substance, stood a man, his face turned toward the tower and the
sea. It was Linsky.

After a time he lifted his hand, as if in signal to some one beyond.

The O’Mahony, from his shelter behind, could see that the _Hen Hawk_ had
rounded the point, and was lazily rocking her way along across the bay,
shoreward toward the tower. For a moment he assumed that Linsky’s sign
was intended for the vessel.

Then some transitory movement on the surface of the tower itself caught
his wandering glance, and in the instant he had mastered every detail of
a most striking incident. A man in a red coat had suddenly appeared at
the landward window of the martello tower, made a signal to Linskey, and
vanished like a flash.

The O’Mahony thoughtfully raised his rifle, and fastened his attention
upon that portion of Linsky’s breast and torso which showed above the
black, unshaken sight at the end of its barrel.



CHAPTER XIII--THE RETREAT WITH THE PRISONERS

The Hen Hawk was idly drifting into the cove toward the little
fishing-smack pier of stone and piles which ran out like a tongue from
the lower end of the mound. Only two of her men were visible on deck. A
group of gulls wheeled and floated about the thick little craft as she
crawled landward.

These things The O’Mahony vaguely noted as a background to the figure of
the traitor by the rock, which he studied now with a hard-lined face and
stony glance over the shining rifle-barrel.

He hesitated, let the weapon sink, raised it again--then once for all
put it down. He would not shoot Linsky.

But the problem what to do instead pressed all the more urgently for
solution.

The O’Mahony pondered it gravely, with an alert gaze scanning the whole
field of the rock, the towered mound and the waters beyond for helping
hints. All at once his face brightened in token of a plan resolved upon.
He whispered some hurried directions to his companions, and then, gun in
hand, quitted his ambush. Bending low, with long, stealthy strides,
he stole along the line of yew hedge to the rear of the rock which
sheltered Linsky. He reached it without discovery, and, still
noiselessly, half slipped, half leaped down the earthern bank beside it.
At this instant his shadow betrayed him. Linsky turned, his lips opened
to speak. Then, without a word, he reeled and fell like a log under a
terrific sidelong blow on jaw and skull from the stock of The O’Mahony’s
clubbed gun.

The excited watchers from the sycamore shield behind saw him fall, and
saw their leader spring upon his sinking form and drag it backward
out of sight of the martello tower. Linsky was wearing a noticeable
russet-brown short coat. They saw The O’Mahony strip this off the
other’s prostrate body and exchange it for his own. Then he put on
Linsky’s hat--a drab, low-crowned felt, pulled well over his eyes--and
stood out boldly in the noon sunlight, courting observation from the
tower. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and spread it out upon the
black surface of the rock, and began pacing up and down before it with
his eyes on the tower.

Presently the same red-coated apparition was momentarily visible at
the land-side window. The O’Mahony held up his hand and went through a
complicated gesture which should signify that he was coming over to the
tower, and desired the other to come down and talk with him. This other
gave a sign of comprehension and assent, and disappeared.

The O’Mahony walked, unarmed, and with a light, springing step, across
the sloping sward to the tower. He paused at the side of its gray wall
for an instant, to note that the _Hen Hawk_ lay only a few feet distant
from the pier-end. Then he entered the open ground-door of the tower,
and found himself in a circular, low, stone room, which, though
whitewashed, seemed dark, after the bright sunlight outside. Some
barrels stood in a row against the wall, and one of these was filled
with soiled cotton-waste which had been used for cleaning guns. The
newcomer helped himself to a large handful of this, and took from his
pocket a compact coil of stout packing-cord. Then he moved toward the
little iron staircase at the other end of the chamber, and, leaning with
his back against it, waited.

The next minute the door above opened, and the clatter of spurred boots
rang out on the metal steps. The O’Mahony’s sidelong glance saw two
legs, clad in blue regimental trowsers with a red stripe, descend past
his head, and then the flaring vision of a scarlet jacket.

“Well, they’re landing, it seems,” said the officer, as his foot was on
the bottom step.

The O’Mahony turned like a leopard, and sprang forward, flinging his
arm around the other’s neck, and jamming him backward against the steps
and wall, while, with his free hand, he thrust the greasy, noxious rags
into his mouth and face. The struggle between the two strong men was
fierce for a moment. Then the officer, blinded and choking under the
gag, felt himself being helplessly bound, as if with wires, so tightly
were the merciless ligatures drawn round arms and legs and head--and
then hoisted into mid-air, and ignominiously jolted forward through
space, with the effect of riding pickaback on a giant kangaroo.

The O’Mahony emerged from the tower, bent almost double under the burden
of the stalwart captive, who still kept up a vain, writhing attempt at
resistance. The whole episode had lasted scarcely two minutes, and no
one above seemed to have heard the few muffled sounds of the conflict.

[Illustration: 0151]

With a single glance toward the companions he had left in hiding among
the sycamores, he began a hasty, staggering course diagonally down the
side of the mound toward the water-front. He did not even stop to learn
whether pursuit was on foot, or if his orders had been obeyed concerning
Linsky.

At the foot of the hill he had to force his way through a thick thorn
hedge to gain the roadway leading to the pier. Weighted as he was,
the task was a difficult one, and when it was at last triumphantly
accomplished, his clothes hung in tatters about him, and he was covered
with scratches. He doggedly made his way onward, however, with bowed,
bare head and set teeth, stumbling along the quay to the vessel’s edge.
The _Hen Hawk_ had been brought up to the pier-corner, and The O’Mahony,
staggering over the gunwale, let his burden fall, none too gently, upon
the deck.

A score of yards to the rear, came, at a loping dog-trot, the five men
he had left behind him among the trees. One of them bore an armful of
guns and his master’s discarded coat and hat. Each of the others grasped
either a leg or an arm of the still insensible Linsky, and, as they in
turn leapt upon the vessel, they slung him, face downward and supinely
limp, sprawling beside the officer.

With all swiftness, sails were rattled up, and the weight of
half-a-dozen brawny shoulders laid against pike-poles to push the vessel
off.

The tower had suddenly taken the alarm! The reverberating “boom-m-m” of
a cannon sent its echoes from cliff to cliff, and the casement windows
under the machicolated eaves were bristling with gun-barrels flashing in
the noon-day sun.

For one anxious minute--even as the red-coats began to issue, like a
file of wasps, from the doorway at the bottom of the tower--the sails
hung slack. Then a shifting land-breeze caught and filled the sheets,
the _Hen Hawk_ shook herself, dipped her beak in the sunny waters--and
glided serenely forward.

She was standing out to sea, a fair hundred yards from land, when the
score of soldiers came to the finish of their chase on the pier-end, and
gazed, with hot faces and short breath, upon her receding hull. She was
still within range, and they instinctively half-poised their guns
to shoot. But here was the difficulty: The O’Mahony had lifted the
grotesquely bound and gagged figure of their commanding officer, and
held it upright beside him at the helm.

For this reason they forbore to shoot, and contented themselves with a
verbal volley of curses and shouts of rage, which may have startled the
circling gulls, but raised only a staid momentary smile on the gaunt
face of The O’Mahony. He shrilled back a prompt rejoinder in the teeth
of the breeze, which belongs to polite literature no more than did the
cries to which it was a response.

Thus the _Hen Hawk_ ploughed her steady way out to open sea--until the
red-coats which had been dodging about on the heights above were lost to
sight through even the strongest glass, and the brown headlands of the
coast had become only dim shadows of blue haze on the sky line.

*****

Linsky had been borne below, to have his head washed and bandaged, and
then to sleep his swoon off, if so be that he was to recover sensibility
at all during what remained to him of terrestrial existence. The British
officer had even before that been relieved of the odious gun-rag gag,
and some of the more uncomfortable of his bonds. He had been given a
seat, too, on a coil of rope beside the capstan--against which he leaned
in obdurate silence, with his brows bent in a prolonged scowl of disgust
and wrath. More than one of the crew, and of the non-maritime Muirisc
men as well, had asked him if he wanted anything, and got not so much as
a shake of the head in reply.

The O’Mahony paced up and down the forward deck, for a long time,
watching this captive of his, and vaguely revolving in his thoughts the
problem of what to do with him. The taking of prisoners had been no
part of his original scheme. Indeed, for that matter, nothing of this
original scheme seemed to be left. He had had, he realized now, a
distinct foreboding of Linsky’s treachery. Yet its discovery had as
completely altered everything as if it had come upon him entirely
unawares. He had done none of the things which he had planned to do. The
_cathach_ had been brought for nothing. Not a shot had been fired. The
martello tower remained untaken.

When he ruminated upon these things he ground his teeth and pressed his
thin lips together. It was all Linsky’s doing. He had Linsky safe below,
however. It would be strange indeed if this fact did not turn out to
have interesting consequences; but there would be time enough later on
to deal with that.

The presence of the British officer was of more immediate importance.
The O’Mahony walked again past the capstan, and looked his prisoner over
askance. He was a tall man, well on in the thirties, slender, yet with
athletic shoulders; his close-cropped hair and short moustache were of
the color of flax; his face and neck were weather-beaten and browned.
The face was a good one, with shapely features and a straightforward
expression, albeit, seen now at its worst, under a scowl and the smear
of the rags. After much hesitation The O’Mahony finally made up his mind
to speak, and walked around to confront the officer with an amiable nod.

“S’pose you’re jest mad through an’ through at bein’ grabbed that _way_
an’ tied up like a calf goin’ to market, an’ run out in that sort o’
style,” he said, in a cheerfully confidential tone. “I know _I’d_ be
jest bilin’! But I hope you don’t bear no malice. It _had_ to be done,
an’ done that way, too! You kin see that yourself.”

The Englishman looked up with surly brevity of glance at the speaker,
and then contemptuously turned his face away. He said never a word.

The O’Mahony continued, affably:

“One thing I’m sorry for: It _was_ pritty rough to have your mouth
stuffed with gun-wipers; but, really, there wasn’t anything else handy,
and time was pressin’. Now what d’ye say to havin’ a drink--jest to
rense the taste out o’ your mouth?”

The officer kept his eyes fixed on the distant horizon. His lips
twitched under the mustache with a movement that might signify
temptation, but more probably reflected an impulse to tell his
questioner to go to the devil. Whichever it was he said nothing.

The O’Mahony spoke again, with the least suspicion of acerbity in his
tone.

“See here,” he said; “don’t flatter yourself that I’m worryin’ much
whether you take a drink or not; an’ I’m not a man that’s much given
to takin’ slack from anybody, whether they wear shoulder-straps or not.
You’re my pris’ner. I took you--took you myself, an’ let you have a
good lively rassle for your money. It wasn’t jest open an’ aboveboard,
p’r’aps, but then you was layin’ there with your men hid, dependin’ on
a sneak an’ a traitor to deliver me an’ my fellows into your hands. So
it’s as broad as ’tis long. Only I don’t want to make it especially
rough for you, an’ I thought I’d offer you a drink, an’ have a talk
with you about what’s to be done next. But if you’re too mad to talk or
drink, either, why, I kin wait till you cool down.”

Once more the officer looked up, and this time, after some hesitation,
he spoke, stiffly; “I _should_ like some whisky and water, if you have
it--and will be good enough,” he said.

The O’Mahony brought the beverage from below with his own hand. Then, as
on a sudden thought, he took out his knife, knelt down and cut all the
cords which still bound the other’s limbs.

The officer got gingerly up on his feet, kicked his legs out straight
and stretched his arms.

“I wish you had done that before,” he said, taking the glass and eagerly
drinking off the contents.

“I dunno why I didn’t think of it,” said The O’Mahony, with genuine
regret. “Fact is, I had so many other things on my mind. This findin’
yourself sold out by a fellow that you trusted with your life is enough
to kerflummux any man.”

“That ought not to surprise any Irishman, I should think,” said the
other, curtly. “However much Irish conspiracies may differ in other
respects, they’re invariably alike in one thing. There’s always an
Irishman who sells the secret to the government.”

The O’Mahony made no immediate answer. The bitter remark had suddenly
suggested to him the possibility that all the other movements in Cork
and Kerry, planned for that day, had also been betrayed! He had been too
gravely occupied with his own concerns to give this a thought before.
As he turned the notion over now in his mind, it assumed the form of a
settled conviction of universal treachery.

“There’s a darned sight o’ truth in what you say,” he assented,
seriously, after a pause.

The tone of the reply took the English officer by surprise. He looked up
with more interest, and the expression of cold sulkiness faded from his
face. “You got off with great luck,” he said. “If they had many more
like you, perhaps they might do something worth while. You’re an
Irish-American, I fancy? And you have seen military service?”

The O’Mahony answered both questions with an affirmative nod.

“Then I’m astonished,” the officer went on, “that you and men like you,
who know what war is really like, should come over here, and spend
your money and risk your lives and liberty, without the hope of doing
anything more than cause us a certain amount of bother. As a soldier,
you must know that you have no earthly chance of success. The odds are
ten thousand to one against you.”

The O’Mahony’s eyes permitted themselves a momentary twinkle. “Well,
now, mister,” he said, carelessly; “I dunno so much about that. Take you
an’ me, now, f’r instance, jest as we stand: I don’t reckon that bettin’
men ’u’d precisely tumble over one another in the rush to put their
money on _you_. Maybe I’m no judge, but that’s the way it looks to me.
What do you think yourself, now--honest Injun?”

The Englishman was not responsive to this light view of the situation.
He frowned again, and pettishly shrugged his shoulders.

“Of course, I did not refer to _that!_” he said. “My misadventure is
ridiculous and--ah--personally inconvenient--but it--ah--isn’t war. You
take nothing by it.”

“Oh, yes--I’ve taken a good deal--too much, in fact,” said The O’Mahony,
going off into a brown study over the burden of his acquisitions which
his words conjured up. He paced up and down beside his prisoner for a
minute or two. Then he halted, and turned to him for counsel.

“What do you think, yourself, would be the best thing for me to do with
you, now’t I’ve got you?” he asked.

“Oh--really!--really, I must decline to advise with you upon the
subject,” the other replied, frostily.

“On the one hand,” mused The O’Mahony, aloud, “you got scooped in afore
you had time to fire a shot, or do any mischief at all--so ’t we don’t
owe you no grudge, so to speak. Well, that’s in your favor. And then
there’s your mouth rammed full of gun-waste--that ought to count some on
your side, too.”

The Englishman looked at him, curiosity struggling with dislike in his
glance, but said nothing.

“On ’t’ other hand,” pursued The O’Mahony, “you ain’t quite a prisoner of
war, because you was openly dealin’ with a traitor and spy, and playin’
to come the gouge game over me an’ my men. That’s a good deal ag’in’
you. For sake of argument, let’s say the thing is a saw-off, so far as
what’s happened already is concerned. The big question is: What’s goin’
to happen?”

“Really--” the officer began again, and then closed his lips abruptly.

“Yes,” the other went on, “that’s where the shoe pinches. I s’pose now,
if I was to land you on the coast yonder, anywhere, you wouldn’t give
your word to not start an alarm for forty-eight hours, would you?”

“Certainly not!” said the Englishman, with prompt decision.

“No, I thought not. Of course, the alarm’s been given hours ago, but
your men didn’t see me, or git enough of a notion of my outfit to make
their description dangerous. It’s different with you.”

The officer nodded his head to indicate that he was becoming interested
in the situation, and saw the point.

“So that really the most sensible thing I could do, for myself and
my men, ’u’d be to lash you to a keg of lead and drop you
overboard--wouldn’t it, now?”

The Englishman kept his eyes fixed on the middle distance of gently,
heaving waters, and did not answer the question. The O’Mahony, watching
his unmoved countenance with respect, made pretense of waiting for a
reply, and leaned idly against the capstan to fill his pipe. After a
long pause he was forced to break the silence.

“It sounds rough,” he said; “but it’s the safest way out of the thing.
Got a wife an’ family?”

The officer turned for the fraction of an instant to scrowl indignantly,
the while he snapped out:

“That’s none of your d----d business!”

Whistling softly to himself, with brows a trifle lifted to express
surprise, The O’Mahony walked the whole length of the deck and back,
pondering this reply:

“I’ve made up my mind,” he announced at last, upon his return. “We’ll
land you in an hour or so--or at least give you the dingey and some food
and drink, and let you row yourself in, say, six or seven miles. You can
manage it all right before nightfall--an’ I’ll take my chances on your
startin’ the hue-an’-cry.”

“Understand, I promise nothing!” interposed the other.

“No, that’s all right,” said The O’Mahony. “Mind, if I thought there was
any way by which you was likely to get these men o’ mine into trouble,
I’d have no more scruple about jumpin’ you into the water there than
I would about pullin’ a fish out of it. But, as I figure it out, they
don’t stand in any danger. As for me--well, as I said, I’ll take my
chances. It’ll make me a heap o’ trouble, I dare say, but I deserve
that. This trip o’ mine’s been a fool-performance from the word ‘go,’
and it’s only fair I should pay for it.”

The Englishman looked up at the yawl rigging, taut under the strain of
filled sails; at the men huddled together forward; last of all at his
captor. His eyes softened.

“You’re not half a bad sort,” he said, “in--ah--spite of the gun-waste.
I should think it likely that your men would never be troubled, if they
go home, and--ah--behave sensibly.”

The O’Mahony nodded as if a pledge had been given.

“That’s what I want,” he said. “They are simply good fellows who jest
went into this thing on my account.”

“But in all human probability,” the officer went on, “_you_ will be
caught and punished. It will be a miracle if you escape.”

The O’Mahony blew smoke from his pipe with an incredulous grin, and the
other went on:

“It does not rest alone with me, I assure you. A minute detailed
description of your person, Captain Harrier, has been in our possession
for two days.”

“I-gad! that reminds me,” broke in The O’Mahony, his face darkening as
he spoke--“the man who gave you that name and that description is lyin’
down-stairs with a cracked skull.”

“I don’t know that it is any part of my duty,” said the officer; “to
interest myself in that person, or--ah--what befalls him.”

“No,” said The O’Mahony, “I guess not! I guess not!”



CHAPTER XIV.--THE REINTERMENT OF LINSKY.

The red winter sun sank to hide itself below the waste of Atlantic
waters as the _Hen Hawk_, still held snugly in the grasp of the breeze,
beat round the grim cliffs of Three-Castle Head, and entered Dun-manus
Bay. The Englishman had been set adrift hours before, and by this
time, no doubt, the telegraph had spread to every remotest point on the
Southern and Western coast warning descriptions of the vessel and its
master. Perhaps even now their winged flight into the west was being
followed from Cape Clear, which lay behind them in the misty and
darkening distance. Still the _Hen Hawk’s_ course was confidently shaped
homeward, for many miles of bog and moorland separated Muirisc from any
electric current.

The O’Mahony had hung in meditative solitude over the tiller for
hours, watching the squatting groups of retainers playing silently at
“spoil-five” on the forward deck, and revolving in his mind the thousand
and one confused and clashing thoughts which this queer new situation
suggested. As the sun went down he called to Jerry, and the two,
standing together at the stern, looked upon the great ball of fire
descending behind the gray expanse of trackless waters, without a word.
Rude and untutored as they were, both were conscious, in some vague way,
that when this sun should rise again their world would be a different
thing.

“Well, pard,” said the master, when only a bar of flaming orange marked
where the day had gone, “it’ll be a considerable spell, I reckon, afore
I see that sort o’ thing in these waters again.”

“Is it l’avin’ the country we are, thin?” asked Jerry, in a sympathetic
voice.

“No, not exactly. You’ll stay here. But _I_ cut sticks to-morrow.”

“Sure, then, it’s not alone ye’ll be goin’. Egor! man, didn’t I take me
Bible-oath niver to l’ave yeh, the longest day ye lived? Ah--now, don’t
be talkin’!”

“That’s all right, Jerry--but it’s got to be that way,” replied The
O’Mahony, in low regretful tones. “I’ve figured it all out. It’ll be
mighty tough to go off by myself without you, pard, but I can’t leave
the thing without somebody to run it for me, and you are the only one
that fills the bill. Now don’t kick about it, or make a fuss, or think
I’m using you bad. Jest say to yourself--‘Now he’s my friend, an’ I’m
his’n, and if he says I can be of most use to him here, why that settles
it.’ Take the helm for a minute, Jerry. I want to go for’ard an’ say a
word to the men.”

The O’Mahony looked down upon the unintelligible game being played with
cards so dirty that he could not tell them apart, and worn by years of
use to the shape of an egg, and waited with a musing smile on his face
till the deal was exhausted. The players and onlookers formed a compact
group at his knees, and they still sat or knelt or lounged on the deck
as they listened to his words.

“Boys,” he said, in the gravely gentle tone which somehow he had learned
in speaking to these men of Muirisc, “I’ve been tellin’ Jerry
somethin’ that you’ve got a right to know, too. I’m goin’ to light
out to-morrow--that is, quit Ireland for a spell. It may be for a good
while--maybe not. That depends. I hate like the very devil to go--but
it’s better for me to skip than to be lugged off to jail, and then to
state’s prison--better for me an’ better for you. If I get out, the rest
of you won’t be bothered. Now--hold on a minute till I git through!--now
between us we’ve fixed up Muirisc so that it’s a good deal easier to
live there than it used to be. There’ll be more mines opened up soon,
an’ the lobster fact’ry an’ the fishin’ are on a good footin’ now. I’m
goin’ to leave Jerry to keep track o’ things, along with O’Daly, an’
they’ll let me know regular how matters are workin’, so you won’t suffer
by my not bein’ here.”

“Ah--thin--it’s our hearts ’ll be broken entirely wid the grief,” wailed
Dominic, and the others, seizing this note of woe as their key, broke
forth in a chorus of lamentation.

They scrambled to their feet with uncovered heads, and clustered
about him, jostling one another for possession of his hands, and
affectionately patting his shoulders and stroking his sleeves, the while
they strove to express in their own tongue, or in the poetic phrases
they had fashioned for themselves out of a practical foreign language,
the sincerity of their sorrow. But the Irish peasant has been schooled
through many generations to face the necessity of exile, and to view
the breaking of households, the separation of kinsmen, the recurring
miseries attendant upon an endless exodus across the seas, with the
philosophy of the inevitable. None of these men dreamed of attempting
to dissuade The O’Mahony from his purpose, and they listened with
melancholy nods of comprehension when he had secured silence, and spoke
again:

“You can all see that it’s _got_ to be,” he said, in conclusion. “And
now I want you to promise me this: I don’t expect you’ll have trouble
with the police. They won’t get over from Balleydehob for another day or
two--and by that time I shall be gone, and the _Hen Hawk_, too--an’ if
they bring over the dingey I gave the Englishman to land in, why, of
course there won’t be a man, woman or child in Muirisc that ever laid
eyes on it before.”

“Sure, Heaven ’u’d blast the eyes that ’u’d recognize that same boat,”
 said one, and the others murmured their confidence in the hypothetical
miracle.

“Well, then, what I want you to promise is this: That you’ll go on
as you have been doin’, workin’ hard, keepin’ sober, an’ behavin’
yourselves, an’ that you’ll mind what Jerry says, same as if I said it
myself. An’ more than that--an’ now this is a thing I’m specially sot
on--that you’ll look upon that little gal, Kate O’Mahony, as if she was
a daughter of mine, an’ watch over her, an’ make things pleasant for
her, an’--an’ treat her like the apple of your eye.”

If there was an apple in The O’Mahony’s eye, it was for the moment
hidden in a vail of moisture. The faces of the men and their words alike
responded to his emotion.

Then one of them, a lean and unkempt old mariner, who even in this keen
February air kept his hairy breast and corded, sunburnt throat exposed,
and whose hawk-like eyes had flashed through fifty years of taciturnity
over heaven knows what wild and fantastic dreams born of the sea, spoke
up:

“Sir, by your l’ave, I’ll mesilf be her bodyguard and her servant, and
tache her the wather as befits her blood, and keep the very sole of her
fut from harrum.”

“Right you are, Murphy,” said The O’Mahony. “Make that your job.”

No one remembered ever having heard Murphy speak so much at one time
before. To the surprise of the group, he had still more to say.

“And, sir--I’m not askin’ it be way of ricompinse,” the fierce-faced old
boatman went on--“but w’u’d your honor grant us wan requist?”

“You’ve only got to spit ’er out,” was the hearty response.

“Thin, sir, give us over the man ye ’ve got down stairs.”

The O’Mahony’s face changed its expression. He thought for a moment;
then asked:

“What to do?”

“To dale wid this night!” said Murphy, solemnly.

There was a pause of silence, and then the clamor of a dozen eager
voices clashing one against the other in the cold wintry twilight:

“Give him over, O’Mahony!” “L’ave him to us!” “Don’t be soilin’ yer
own hands wid the likes of him!” “Oh, l’ave him to us!” these voices
pleaded.

The O’Mahony hesitated for a minute, then slowly shook his head.

“No, boys, don’t ask it,” he said. “I’d like to oblige you, but I can’t.
He’s _my_ meat--I can’t give him up!”

“W’u’d yer honor be for sparin’ him, thin?” asked one, with incredulity
and surprise.

The O’Mahony of Muirisc looked over the excited group which surrounded
him, dimly recognizing the strangeness of the weirdly interwoven
qualities which run in the blood of Heber--the soft tenderness of nature
which through tears would swear loyalty unto death to a little child,
shifting on the instant to the ferocity of the wolf-hound burying its
jowl in the throat of its quarry. Beyond them were gathering the sea
mists, as by enchantment they had gathered ages before with vain intent
to baffle the sons of Milesius, and faintly in the halflight lowered the
beetling cliffs whereon The O’Mahonys, true sons of those sea-rovers,
had crouched watching for their prey this thousand of years. He could
almost feel the ancestral taste of blood in his mouth as he looked, and
thought upon his answer.

“No, don’t worry about his gitting off,” he said, at last. “I ’ll take
care of that. You’ll never see him again--no one on top of this earth
’ll ever lay eyes on him again.”

With visible reluctance the men forced themselves to accept this
compromise. The _Hen Hawk_ plunged doggedly along up the bay.

*****

Three hours later, The O’Mahony and Jerry, not without much stumbling
and difficulty, reached the strange subterranean chamber where they had
found the mummy of the monk. They bore between them the inert body of a
man, whose head was enveloped in bandages, and whose hands, hanging limp
at arm’s length, were discolored with the grime and mold from the
stony path over which they had dragged. They threw this burden on the
mediaeval bed, and, drawing long breaths of relief, turned to light some
candles in addition to the lantern Jerry had borne, and to kindle a fire
on the hearth.

They talked in low murmurs meanwhile. The O’Mahony had told Jerry
something of what part Linsky had played in his life. Jerry, without
being informed with more than the general outlines of the story, was
able swiftly to comprehend his master’s attitude toward the man--an
attitude compounded of hatred for his treachery of to-day and gratitude
of the services which he had unconsciously performed in the past. He
understood to a nicety, too, what possibilities there were in the plan
which The O’Mahony now unfolded to him, as the fire began crackling up
the chimney.

“I can answer for his gittin’ over that crack in the head,” said The
O’Mahony, heating and stirring a tin cup full of balsam over the flame.
“Once I’ve fixed this bandage on, we can bring him to with ammonia and
whisky, an’ give him some broth. He’ll live all right--an’ he’ll live
right here, d’ye mind. Whatever else happens, he’s never to git outside,
an’ he’s never to know where he is. Nobody but you is to so much as
dream of his bein’ down here--be as mum as an oyster about it, won’t
you? You’re to have sole charge of him, d’ye see--the only human being
he ever lays eyes on.”

“Egor! I’ll improve his moind wid grand discourses on trayson and
informin’ an’ betrayin’ his oath, and the like o’ that, till he’ll be
fit to die wid shame.”

“No--I dunno--p’r’aps it’d be better not to let him know _we_ know--jest
make him think we’re his friends, hidin’ him away from the police.
However, that can take care of itself. Say whatever you like to him,
only--”

“Only don’t lay a hand on him--is it that ye were thinkin’?” broke in
Jerry.

“Yes, don’t lick him,” said The O’Mahony. “He’s had about the worst
bat on the head I ever saw a a man git an’ live, to start with. No--be
decent with him, an’ give him enough to eat. Might let him have a
moderate amount o’ drink, too.”

“I suppose there’ll be a great talk about his vanishin’ out o’ sight
all at wance among the Brotherhood,” suggested Jerry.

“That don’t matter a darn,” said the other. “Jest you go ahead, an’ tend
to your own knittin’, an’ let the Brotherhood whistle. We’ve paid a good
stiff price to learn what Fenianism is worth, and we’ve learned enough.
Not any more on my plate, thankee! Jest give the boys the word that the
jig is up--that there won’t be any more drillin’ or meanderin’ round
generally. And speakin’ o’ drink--”

A noise from the curtained bed in the alcove interrupted The O’Mahony’s
remarks upon this important subject. Turning, the two men saw that
Linsky had risen on the couch to a half-sitting posture, and, with
a tremulous hand, drawing aside the felt-like draperies, was staring
wildly at them out of blood-shot eyes.

“For the love of God, what is it?” he asked, in a faint and moaning
voice.

“Lay down there!--quick!” called out The O’Mahony, sternly; and Linsky
fell back prone without a protest.

The O’Mahony had finished melting his gum, and he spread it now
salve-like upon a cloth. Then he walked over to where the wounded
man lay, with marvel-stricken eyes wandering over the archaic vaulted
ceiling.

“Is it dead I am?” he groaned, with a vacuous glance at the new-comer.

“No, you’ve been badly hurt in battle,” said the other, in curt tones.
“We can pull you through, perhaps; but you’ve got to shut up an’ lay
still. Hold your head this way a little more--that’s it.”

The injured man submitted to the operation, for the most part, with
apparently closed eyes, but his next remark showed that he had been
gathering his wits together.

“And how’s the battle gone, Captain Harrier?” he suddenly asked. “Is
Oireland free from the oppressor at last?”

“No!” said The O’Mahony, with dry brevity--“but she’ll be free from
_you_ for a spell, or I miss _my_ guess most consumedly.”



CHAPTER XV--“TAKE ME WITH YOU, O’MAHONY.”

The fair-weather promise of the crimson sunset was not kept. The
morning broke bloodshot and threatening, with dark, jagged storm-clouds
scudding angrily across the sky, and a truculent unrest moving the
waters of the bay to lash out at the rocks, and snarl in rising murmurs
among themselves.

Every soul in Muirisc came soon enough to share this disquietude with
the elements. Such evil tidings as these, that The O’Mahony was quitting
the country, seemed veritably to take to themselves wings. The village,
despite the fact that the fishing season had not yet arrived, and that
there was nothing else to do, could not lie abed on such a morning, much
less sleep. Even the tiniest children, routed out from their nests
of straw close beside the chimney by the unwonted bustle, saw that
something was the matter.

Mrs. Fergus O’Mahony heard the intelligence at a somewhat later hour,
even as she dallied with that second cup of coffee, which, in her
own phrase, put a tail to the breakfast. It was brought to her by a
messenger from the convent, who came to say that the Ladies of the
Hostage’s Tears desired her immediate presence upon an urgent matter.
Mrs. Fergus easily enough put two and two together, as she donned her
bonnet and _broché_ shawl. It was The O’Mahony’s departure that was to
be discussed, and the nuns were right in calling _that_ important. She
looked critically over the irregular walls of the castle, as she passed
it on her way to the convent. Here she had been born; here she had lived
in peace and plenty, after her brother’s death, until the heir from
America came to turn her out. Who knew? Perhaps she was to go back
again, after all. Mrs. Fergus agreed that the news was highly important.

The first glance which she threw about her, after she had been ushered
in the reception-hall, revealed to her that not even she had guessed the
full importance of what was toward.

The three nuns sat on their accustomed bench at one side of the fire,
and behind them, in his familiar chimney-corner, palsied old Father
Harrington lolled and half-dozed over the biscuit he was nibbling to
stay his stomach after mass. At the table, before a formidable array of
papers, was seated Cormac O’Daly, and at his side sat the person whose
polite name seemed to be Diarmid MacEgan, but whom Muirisc knew and
delighted in as Jerry. Mrs. Fergus made a mental note of surprise at
seeing him seated in such company, and then carried her gaze on to cover
the principal personage in the room. It was The O’Mahony, looking very
grave and preoccupied, and who stood leaning against the chimney-mantel
like a proprietor, who welcomed her with a nod and motioned her to a
seat.

It was he, too, who broke the silence which solemnly enveloped the
conference.

“Cousin Maggie,” he said, in explanation, to her, “we’ve got together
this little family party so early in the mornin’ for the reason that
time is precious. I’m goin’ away--for my health--in an hour or two, an’
there are things to be arranged before I go. I may be away for years;
maybe I sha’n’t ever come back.”

“Sure the suddenness of it’s fit to take one’s breath away!” Mrs. Fergus
exclaimed, and put her plump white hand to her bosom. “I’ve nerves that
bad, O’Mahony,” she added.

“Yes, it is a sudden sort of spurt,” he assented.

“And it’s your health, you say! Sure, I used to look on you as the
mortial picture of a grand, strong man.”

“You can’t always tell by looks,” said The O’Mahony, gravely. “But--the
point’s this. I’m leaving O’Daly and Jerry here, as sort o’ joint bosses
of the circus, during my absence. Daly is to be ringmaster, so to speak,
while Jerry’ll be in the box-office, and kind o’ keep an eye to the
whole show, generally.”

“I lamint, sir, that I’m not able to congratulate you on the felicity of
your mettyphor,” said Cor-mac O’Daly, whose swart, thin-visaged little
face wore an expression more glum than ever.

“At any rate, you git at my meaning. I have signed two powers of
attorney, drawn up by O’Daly here as a lawyer, which gives them power to
run things for me, while I’m away. Everything is set out in the papers,
straight and square. I’m leaving my will, too, with O’Daly, an’ that I
wanted specially to speak to you about. I’ve got just one heir in this
whole world, an’ that’s your little gal, Katie. P’r’aps it’ll be as well
not to say anything to her about it, but I want you all to know. An’ I
want you an’ her to move back into my house, an live there jest as you
did afore I come. I’ve spoken to Mrs. Sullivan about it--she’s as good
as a farrow cow in a family--an’ she’ll stay right along with you, an’
look after things. An’ Jerry here, he’ll see that your wheels are
kept greased--financially, I mean--an’--I guess that’s about all. Only
lookout for that little gal o’ yours as well as you know how--that’s
all. An’ I wish--I wish you’d send her over to me, to my house, in half
an hour or so--jest to say good-bye.”

The O’Mahony’s voice had trembled under the suspicion of a quaver at the
end. He turned now, abruptly, took up his hat from the table, and left
the room, closely followed by Jerry. O’Daly rose as if to accompany
them, hesitated for a moment, and then seated himself again.

The mother superior had heretofore preserved an absolute silence. She
bent her glance now upon Mrs. Fergus, and spoke slowly:

“Ah, thin, Margaret O’Mahony,” she said, “d’ye mind in your day of good
fortune that, since the hour you were born, ye’ve been the child of our
prayers and the object of our ceaseless intercessions?”

Mrs. Fergus put out her rounded lower lip a little and, rising from her
chair, walked slowly over to the little cracked mirror on the wall, to
run a correcting finger over the escalloped line of her crimps.

“Ay,” she said at last, “I mind many things bechune me and you--not all
of thim prayers either.”

While Mrs. Sullivan and Jerry were hard at work packing the scant
wardrobe and meager personal belongings of the master for his journey,
and the greater part of the population of Muirisc stood clustered on
the little quay, watching the _Hen Hawk_, bemoaning their own impending
bereavement, and canvassing the incredible good luck of Malachy, who was
to be the companion in this voyage to unknown parts--while the wind
rose outside, and the waters tumbled, and the sky grew overcast with
the sullen menace of a winter storm--The O’Mahony walked slowly, hand in
hand with little Kate, through the deserted churchyard.

The girl had been weeping, and the tears still blurred her eyes and
stained her red cheeks with woe-begone smudges. She clung to her
companion’s hand, and pressed her head ever and again against his arm,
but words she had none. The man walked with his eyes bent on the ground
and his lips tightly closed together. So the two strolled in silence
till they had passed out from the place of tombs, and, following a
path which wound its way in ascent through clumps of budding furze
and miniature defiles among the rocks, had gained the summit of the
cliff-wall, under whose shelter the hamlet of Muirisc had for ages
nestled. Here they halted, looking down upon the gray ruins of castle,
church and convent, upon thatched cottage roofs, the throng on the quay,
the breakers’ line of foam against the rocks, and the darkened expanse
of white-capped waters beyond.

“Don’t take on so, sis, any more; that’s a good gal,” said The O’Mahony,
at last, drawing the child’s head to his side, and gently stroking her
black hair. “It ain’t no good, an’ it breaks me all up. One thing I’m
glad of: It’s going to be rough outside. It seems to me I couldn’t ‘a’
stood it to up an’ sail off in smooth, sunshiny weather. The higher she
rolls the better I’ll like it. It’s the same as havin’ somethin’ to bite
on, when you’ve got the toothache.”

Kate, for answer, rubbed her head against his sleeve, but said nothing.

After a long pause, he went on: “’Tain’t as if I was goin’ to be gone
forever an’ a day. Why, I may be poppin’ in any minit, jest when you
least expect it. That’s why I want you to study your lessons right
along, every day, so ’t when I turn up you’ll be able to show off A
number one. Maybe you’re bankin’ on my not bein’ able to tell whether
your book learnin’ is ‘all wool an’ a yard wide’ or not. I didn’t get
much of a show at school, I know. ’Twas ‘root hog or die’ with me when
I was a boy. But I’m jest a terror at askin’ questions. Why, I’ve busted
up whole schools afore now, puttin’ conundrums to ’m that even the
school-ma’ams couldn’t answer. So you look out for me when I come.”
 The gentle effort at cheerfulness bore fruit not after its kind. Kate’s
little breast began to heave, and she buried her face against his coat.

The O’Mahony looked wistfully down upon the village and the bay, patting
the child’s shoulder in silent token of sympathy. Then an idea occurred
to him. With his finger under her chin, he lifted Kate’s face till her
glance met his.

“Oh, by the way,” he said, with animation, “have you got so you can write
pritty good?”

The girl nodded her head, and looked away.

“Why, then, look here,” he exclaimed, heartily, “what’s the matter with
your writin’ me real letters, say every few weeks, tellin’ me all that’s
goin’ on, an’ keepin’ me posted right up to date? Why, that’s jest
splendid! It’ll be almost the same as if I wasn’t away at all. Eh, won’t
it, skeezucks, eh?” He playfully put his arm around her shoulder, and
they began the descent of the path. The suggestion had visibly helped to
lighten her little heart, though she had said not a word.

“Oh, yes,” he went on, “an’ another thing I wanted to say: It ain’t
a thing that you must ever ask about--or ought to know anything about
it--but we went out yisterday an’ made fools of ourselves, an’ if I
hadn’t had the luck of a brindled heifer, we’d all been in jail to-day.
Of course, I don’t know for certain, but I shouldn’t wonder if my luck
had something to do with a--what d’ye call it?--yes, _cathach_--that we
toted along with us. Well, I’m goin’ to turn that box over for you to
keep, when we git down to the house. I wouldn’t open if it I was you--it
ain’t a pritty sight for a little gal--just a few dead men’s bones--but
the box itself is all right, an’ it can’t do you no harm, to say the
least. An’, moreover--why, here it is in my pocket--here’s a ring we
found on his thumb--cur’ous enough--that you must keep for me, too. That
makes it like what we read about in the story-books, eh? A ring that the
beauteous damsel, with the hay-colored hair, sends to Alonzo when she
gets in trouble, eh, sis?”

The child took the ring--a quaintly shaped thin band of gold, with a
carved precious stone of golden-brownish hue--and put it in her pocket.
Still she said nothing.

At ten in the forenoon, in the presence of all Muirisc, The O’Mahony at
last gently pushed his way through the throng of keening old women and
excited younger friends, and stepped over the gunwale upon the deck, and
Jerry and O’Daly restrained those who would have followed him. He had
forced his face into a half-smile, to which he clung resolutely almost
to the end. He had offered many parting injunctions: to work hard
and drink little; to send the children to school; to keep an absolute
silence to all outsiders, whether from Skull, Goleen, Crookhaven, or
elsewhere, concerning him and his departure--and many other things. He
had shaken hands a hundred times across the narrow bar of water between
the boat and pier; and now the men in the dingey out in front had the
hawser taut, and the _Hen Hawk_ was moving under its strain, when a
shrill cry raised itself above the general clamor of lamentation and
farewells.

At that moment of the vessel’s stirring, little Kate O’Mahony broke from
the group in which her mother and the nuns stood dignifiedly apart, and
ran wildly to the pier’s edge, where Jerry caught and for the moment
held her, struggling, over the widening chasm between the boat and the
quay. Her power to speak had come at last.

“Take me with you, O’Mahony!” she cried, fighting like a wild thing to
free herself. “Oh, take me with you! You promised! You promised! _Take_
me with you!”

It was then that The O’Mahony’s face lost, in a flash, its perfunctory
smile. He half stretched out his hand--then swung himself on his heel
and marched to the prow of the vessel. He did not look back again upon
Muirisc.

*****

An hour later a police-car, bearing five armed men, halted at the point
on the mountain-road from Durrus where Muirisc comes first in view. The
constables, gazing out upon the broad expanse of Dunmanus Bay, saw on
the distant water-line a yawl-rigged coasting vessel, white against the
stormy sky. Some chance whim suggested to their minds an interest in
this craft.

But when they descended into Muirisc they could not find a soul who had
the remotest notion of what a yawl-rig meant, much less of the identity
of the lugger which, even as they spoke, had passed out of sight.



CHAPTER XVI--THE LADY OF MUIRISC.

In the parish of Kilmoe--which they pronounce with a soft prolonged
“moo-h,” like the murmuring call of one of their little bright-eyed,
black-coated cows--the inhabitants are wont to say that the next parish
is America.

It is an ancient and sterile and storm-beaten parish, this Kilmoe,
thrust out in expiation of some forgotten sin or other to exist beyond
the pale of human companionship. Its sons and daughters, scattered in
tiny, isolated hamlets over its barren area, hear never a stranger’s
voice--and their own speech is slow and low of tone because the real
right to make a noise there belongs to the shrieking gulls and the wild,
west wind and the towering, foam-fanged waves, which dashed themselves,
in tireless rivalry with the thunder, against its cliffs.

Slow, too, in growth and ripening are the wits of the men of Kilmoe.
They must have gray hairs before they are accounted more than boys; and
when, from sheer old age they totter into the grave, the feeling of
the parish is that they have been untimely cut off just as they were
beginning to get their brains in fair working: order. Very often these
aged men, if they dally and loiter on the way to the tomb in the hope of
becoming still wiser, are given a sharp and peremptory push forward by
starvation. It would not do for the men of Kilmoe to know too much. If
they did, they would all go somewhere else to live--and then what would
become of their landlord?

Kilmoe once had a thriving and profitable industry, whereby a larger
population than it now contains kept body and soul together in more
intimate and comfortable relations than at present exist. The outlay
involved in this industry was very small, and the returns, though not
governed by any squalid, modern law of percentages, were, on the whole,
large.

It was all very simple. Whenever a stormy, wind-swept night set in, the
men of Kilmoe tied a lighted lantern on the neck of a cow, and drove the
animal to walk along the strand underneath the sea-cliffs. This light,
rising and sinking with the movements of the cow, bore a quaint and
interesting resemblance to the undulations of an illuminated buoy or
boat, rocked on gentle waves; and strange seafaring crafts bent their
course in confidence toward it, until they were undeceived. Then the
men of Kilmoe would sally forth, riding the tumbling breakers with great
bravery and address, in their boats of withes and stretched skin, and
enter into possession of all the stranded strangers’ goods and chattels.
As for such strangers as survived the wreck, they were sometimes sold
into slavery; more often they were merely knocked on the head. Thus
Kilmoe lived much more prosperously than in these melancholy latter days
of dependence upon a precarious potato crop.

In every family devoted to industrial pursuits there is one member who
is more distinguished for attention to the business than the others, and
upon whom its chief burdens fall. This was true of the O’Mahonys, who
for many centuries controlled and carried on the lucrative occupation
above described, on their peninsula of Ivehagh. There were branches
of the sept stationed in the more inland sea-castles of Rosbrin,
Ardintenant, Leamcon and Ballydesmond on the one side, and of Dunbeacon,
Dunmanus and Muirisc on the other, who did not expend all their
energies upon this, their genuine business, but took many vacations and
indefinitely extended holiday trips, for the improvement of their
minds and the gratification of their desire to whip the neighboring
O’Driscolls, O’Sullivans, O’Heas and O’Learys out of their boots. The
record of these pleasure excursions, in which sometimes the O’Mahonys
returned with great booty and the heads of their enemies on pikes, and
some other times did not come home at all, fills all the pages of the
Psalter of Rosbrin, beside occupying a good deal of space in the Annals
of Innisfallen and of the Four Masters, and needs not be enlarged upon
here.

But it is evident that that gentleman of the family who, from choice
or sense of duty, lived in Kilmoe, must, have pursued the legitimate
O’Mahony vocation very steadily, without any frivolous interruptions or
the waste of time in visiting his neighbors. The truth is that he had no
neighbors, and nothing else under the sun with which to occupy his mind
but the affairs of the sea. This the observer will readily conclude when
he stands upon the promontory marked on the maps as Three-Castle Head,
with the whole world-dividing Atlantic at his feet, and looks over at
the group of ruined and moss-grown keeps which give the place its name.

*****

“Oh-h! Look there now, Murphy!” cried a tall and beautiful young woman,
who stood for the first time on this lofty sea-wall, viewing the somber
line of connected castles. “Sure, _here_ lived the true O’Mahony of
the Coast of White Foam! Why, man, what were we at Muirisc but poor
crab-catchers compared wid _him?_”

She spoke in a tone of awed admiration, between long breaths of
wonderment, and her big eyes of Irish gray glowed from their cover of
sweeping lashes with surprised delight. She had taken off her hat--a
black straw hat, with a dignifiedly broad brim bound in velvet, and
enriched by a plume of the same somber hue--to save it from the wind,
which blew stiffly here; and this bold sea-wind, nothing loth, frolicked
boisterously with her dark curls instead. She put her hand on her
companion’s shoulder for steadiness, and continued the rapt gaze upon
this crumbling haunt of the dead and forgotten sea-lords.

Twelve years had passed since, as a child of eight, Kate O’Mahony had
screamed out in despair after the departing _Hen Hawk_. That vessel had
never cleft the waters of Dunmanus since, and the fleeting years had
converted the memory of its master, into a kind of heroic legendary
myth, over which the elders brooded fondly, but which the youngsters
thought of as something scarcely less remote than the Firbolgs, or the
builders of the “Danes’ forts” on the furze-crowned hills about.

But these same years, though they turned the absent into shadows, had
made of Kate a very lovely and complete reality. It would be small
praise to speak of her as the most beautiful girl on the peninsula,
since there is no other section of Ireland so little favored in that
respect, to begin with, and for the additional reason that whatever
maidenly comeliness there is existent there is habitually shrouded from
view by close-drawn shawls and enveloping hoods, even on the hottest of
summer noon-days. For all the stray traveller sees of young and pretty
faces in Ivehagh, he might as well be in the heart of the vailed (sp.)
Orient.

And even with Kate, potential Lady of Muirisc though she was, this
fashion of a hat was novel. It seemed only yesterday since she had
emerged from the chrysalis of girlhood--girlhood with a shawl over its
head, and Heaven only knows what abysses of ignorant shyness and stupid
distrust inside that head. And, alas! it seemed but a swiftly on-coming
to-morrow before this new freedom was to be lost again, and the hat
exchanged forever for a nun’s vail.

If Kate had known natural history better, she might have likened her lot
to that of the May-fly, which spends two years underground in its larva
state hard at work preparing to be a fly, and then, when it at last
emerges, lives only for an hour, even if it that long escapes the bill
of the swallow or the rude jaws of the trout. No such simile drawn
from stonyhearted Nature’s tragedies helped her to philosophy. She had,
perhaps, a better refuge in the health and enthusiasm of her own youth.

In the company of her ancient servitor, Murphy, she was spending the
pleasant April days in visiting the various ruins of The O’Mahony’s
on Ivehagh. Many of these she viewed now for the first time, and the
delight of this overpowered and kept down in her mind the reflection
that perhaps she was seeing them all for the last time as well.

“But how, in the name of glory, did they get up and down to their boats,
Murphy?” she asked, at last, strolling further out toward the edge to
catch the full sweep of the cliff front, which rises abruptly from the
beach below, sheer and straight, clear three hundred feet.

“There’s never a nearer landing-place, thin, than where we left our
boat, a half-mile beyant here,” said Murphy. “Faith, miss, ’tis the
belafe they went up and down be the aid of the little people. ’T
is well known that, on windy nights, there do be grand carrin’s-on
hereabouts. Sure, in the lake forninst us it was that Kian O’Mahony saw
the enchanted woman with the shape on her of a horse, and died of the
sight. Manny’s the time me own father related to me that same.”

“Oh, true; that _would_ be the lake of the legend,” said Kate. “Let us
go down to it, Murphy. I’ll dip me hand for wance in water that’s been
really bewitched.”

The girl ran lightly down the rolling side of the hill, and across the
rock-strewn hollows and mounds which stretched toward the castellated
cliff. The base of the third and most inland tower was washed by a
placid fresh-water pond, covering an area of several acres, and heavily
fringed at one end with rushes. As she drew near a heron suddenly rose
from the reeds, hung awkwardly for a moment with its long legs dangling
in the air, and then began a slow, heavy flight seaward. On the moment
Kate saw another even more unexpected sight--the figure of a man on
the edge of the lake, with a gun raised to his shoulder, its barrel
following the heron’s clumsy course. Involuntarily she uttered a little
warning shout to the bird, then stood still, confused and blushing.
Stiff-jointed old Murphy was far behind.

The stranger had heard her, if the heron had not. He lowered his weapon,
and for a moment gazed wonderingly across the water at this unlooked-for
apparition. Then, with his gun under his arm, he turned and walked
briskly toward her. Kate cast a searching glance backward for Murphy
in vain, and her intuitive movement to draw a shawl over her head was
equally fruitless. The old man was still somewhere behind the rocks, and
she had only this citified hat and even that not on her head. She could
see that the advancing sportsman was young and a stranger.

He came up close to where she stood, and lifted his cap for an instant
in an off-hand way. Viewed thus nearly, he was very young, with a
bright, fresh-colored face and the bearing and clothes of a gentleman,
“I’m glad you stopped me, now that I think of it,” he said, with an easy
readiness of speech. “One has no business to shoot that kind of bird;
but I’d been tying about here for hours, waiting for something better to
turn up, till I was in a mood to bang at anything that came along.”

He offered this explanation with a nonchalant half-smile, as if
confident ol its prompt acceptance. Then his face took on a more serious
look, as he glanced a second time at her own flushed countenance.

“I hope I haven’t been trespassing,” he added, under the influence of
this revised impression.

Kate was, in truth, frowning at him, and there were no means by which
he could guess that it was the effect of nervous timidity rather than
vexation.

“’Tis not my land,” she managed to say at last, and looked back again
for Murphy.

“No--I didn’t think it was anybody’s land,” he remarked, essaying
another propitiatory smile. “They told me at Goleen that I could shoot
as much as I liked. They didn’t tell me, though, that there was nothing
to shoot.”

The young man clearly expected conversation; and Kate, stealing further
flash-studies of his face, began to be conscious that his manner and
talk were not specialty different from those of any nice girl of her own
age. She tried to think of something amiable to say.

“’Tis not the sayson for annything worth shooting,” she said, and
then wondered if it was an impertinent remark.

“I know that,” he replied. “But I’ve nothing else to do, just at the
moment, and you can keep yourself walking better if you’ve got a gun,
and then, of course, in a strange country there’s always the chance that
something curious _may_ turn up to shoot. Fact is, I didn’t care so
much after all whether I shot anything or not. You see, castles are new
things to me--we don’t grow ’em where I came from--and it’s fun to me
to mouse around among the stones and walls and so on. But this is the
wildest and lonesomest thing I’ve run up against yet. I give you my
word, I’d been lying here so long, watching those mildewed old towers
there and wondering what kind of folks built ’em and lived in ’em,
that when I saw you galloping down the rocks here--upon my word, I
half thought it was all a fairy story. You know the poor people really
believe in that sort of thing, here. Several of them have told me so.”

Kate actually felt herself smiling upon the young man. “I’m afraid you
can’t always believe them,” she said. “Some of them have deludthering
ways with strangers--not that they mane anny harm by it, poor souls!”

“But a young man down below here, to-day,” continued the other--“mind
you, a _young-man_--told me solemnly that almost every night he heard
with his own ears the shindy kicked up by the ghosts on the hill back
of his house, you know, inside one of those ringed Danes’ forts, as they
call ’em. He swore to it, honest Injun.”

The girl started in spite of herself, stirred vaguely by the sound of
this curious phrase with which the young man had finished his remarks.
But nothing definite took shape in her thoughts concerning it> and she
answered him freely enough:

“Ah, well, I’ll not say he intinded desate. They’re a poetic people,
sir, living here alone among the ruins of what was wance a grand
country, and now is what you see it, and they imagine visions to
thimselves. ’Tis in the air, here. Sure, you yourself”--she smiled
again as she spoke--“credited me with being a fairy. Of course,” she
added, hastily, “you had in mind the legend of the lake, here.”

“How do you mean--legend?” asked the young man, in frank ignorance.

“Sure, here in these very waters is a woman, with the shape of a horse,
who appears to people, and when they see her, they--they die, that’s
all.”

“Well, that’s a good deal, I should think,” he responded, lightly. “No,
I hadn’t heard of that before; and, besides, you--why, you came down
the hill, there, skipping like a lamb on the mountains, not a bit like a
horse.”

The while Kate turned his comparison over in her mind to judge whether
she liked it or not, the young man shifted his gun to his shoulder, as
if to indicate that the talk had lasted long enough. Then she swiftly
blamed herself for having left this signal to him.

“I’ll not be keeping you,” she said, hurriedly.

“Oh, bless you--not at all!” he protested. “Only I was afraid I was
keeping _you_. You see, time hangs pretty heavy on my hands just now,
and I’m tickled to death to have anybody to talk to. Of course, I like
to go around looking at the castles here, because the chances are that
some of my people some time or other helped build ’em. I know my
father was born somewhere in this part of County Cork.”

Kate sniffed at him.

“Manny thousands of people have been born here,” she said, with
dignity, “but it doesn’t follow that they had annything to do with these
castles.” The young man attached less importance to the point.

“Oh, of course not,” he said, carelessly. “All I go by is the
probability that, way back somewhere, all of us O’Mahonys were related
to one another. But for that matter, so were all the Irish who--”

“And are _you_ an O’Mahony, thin?”

Kate was looking at him with shining eyes--and he saw now that she was
much taller and more beautiful than he had thought before.

“That’s my name,” he said, simply.

“An O’Mahony of County Cork?”

“Well--personally I’m an O’Mahony of Houghton County, Michigan, but my
father was from around here, somewhere.”

“Do you hear that, Murphy?” she said, instinctively turning to the
faithful companion of all her out-of-door life. But there was no Murphy
in sight.

Kate stared blankly about her for an instant, before she remembered that
Murphy had never rejoined her at the lakeside. And now she thought she
could hear some vague sound of calling in the distance, rising above the
continuous crash of the breakers down below.

“Oh, something has happened to him!” she cried, and started running
wildly back again. The young man followed close enough to keep her in
sight, and at a distance of some three hundred yards came up to her,
as she knelt beside the figure of an old peasant seated with his back
against a rock.

Something had happened to Murphy. His ankle had turned on a stone, and
he could not walk a step.



CHAPTER XVII--HOW THE OLD BOATMAN KEPT HIS VOW.

Oh, what’s to be done _now?_” asked Kate, rising to her feet and
casting a puzzled look about her. “Sure, me wits are abroad entirely.”

No answer seemed forthcoming. As far inland as the eye could stretch,
even to the gray crown of Dunkelly, no sign of human habitation was
to be seen. The jutting headland of the Three Castles on which she
stood--with the naked primeval cliffs; the roughly scattered boulders
framed in scrub-furze too stunted and frightened in the presence of the
sea to venture upon blossoms; the thin ashen-green grass blown flat
to earth in the little sheltered nooks where alone its roots might
live--presented the grimmest picture of desolation she had ever seen.
An undersized sheep had climbed the rocks to gaze upon the intruders--an
animal with fleece of such a snowy whiteness that it looked like an
imitation baa-baa from a toy-shop--and Kate found herself staring into
its vacuous face with sympathy, so helplessly empty was her own mind of
suggestions.

“’Tis two Oirish miles to the nearest house,” said Murphy, in a
despondent tone.

Kate turned to the young man, and spoke wistfully:

“If you’ll stop here, I’ll go for help,” she said.

The young man from Houghton County laughed aloud.

“If there’s any going to be done, I guess you’re not the one that’ll do
it,” he answered. “But, first of all, let’s see where we stand exactly.
How did you come here, anyhow?”

“We rowed around from--from our home--a long way distant in that
direction,” pointing vaguely toward Dunmanus Bay, “and our boat was left
there at the nearest landing point, half a mile from here.”

“Ah, well, _that’s_ all right,” said the young man. “It would take an
hour to get anybody over here to help, and that would be clean waste
of time, because we don’t need any help. I’ll just tote him over on my
back, all by my little self.”

“Ah--you’d never try to do the likes of _that!_” deprecated the girl.

“Why not?” he commented, cheerfully--and then, with a surprise which
checked further protest, she saw him tie his game-bag round his waist so
that it hung to the knee, get Murphy seated up on the rock against which
he had learned, and then take him bodily on his back, with the wounded
foot comfortably upheld and steadied inside the capacious leathern
pouch.

“‘Why not,’ eh?” he repeated, as he straightened himself easily under
the burden; “why he’s as light as a bag of feathers. That’s one of
the few advantages of living on potatoes. Now you bring along the
gun--that’s a good girl--and we’ll fetch up at the boat in no time. You
do the steering, Murphy. Now, then, here we go!”

The somber walls of the Three Castles looked down in silence upon this
strange procession as it filed past under their shadows--and if the
gulls which wheeled above and about the moss-grown turrets described the
spectacle later to the wraiths of the dead-and-gone O’Mahonys and to the
enchanted horse-shaped woman in the lake, there must have been a general
agreement that the parish of Kilmoe had seen never such another sight
before, even in the days of the mystic Tuatha de Danaan.

The route to the boat abounded to a disheartening degree in rough and
difficult descents, and even more trying was the frequent necessity for
long _détours_ to avoid impossible barriers of rock. Moreover, Murphy
turned out to be vastly heavier than he had seemed at the outset. Hence
the young man, who had freely enlivened the beginning of the journey
with affable chatter, gradually lapsed into silence; and at last,
when only a final ridge of low hills separated them from the strand,
confessed that he would like to take off his coat. He rested for a
minute or two after this had been done, and wiped his wet brow.

“Who’d think the sun could be so hot in April?” he said. “Why, where I
come from, we’ve just begun to get through sleighing.”

“What is it you’d be slaying now?” asked Kate, innocently. “We kill our
pigs in the late autumn.”

The young man laughed aloud as he took Murphy once more on his back.

“Potato-bugs, chiefly,” was his enigmatic response.

She pondered fruitlessly upon this for a brief time, as she followed on
with the gun and coat. Then her thoughts centered themselves once more
upon the young stranger himself, who seemed only a boy to look at,
yet was so stout and confident of himself, and had such a man’s way of
assuming control of things, and doing just what he wanted to do and what
needed to be done.

Muirisc did not breed that sort of young man. He could not, from his
face, be more than three or four and twenty--and at that age all the men
she had known were mere slow-witted, shy and awkward louts of boys,
whom their fathers were quite free to beat with a stick, and who
never dreamed of doing anything on their own mental initiative, except
possibly to “boo” at the police or throw stones through the windows of
a boycotted shop, Evidently there were young men in the big unknown
outside world who differed immeasurably from this local standard.

Oh, that wonderful outside world, which she was never going to see! She
knew that it was sinful and godless and pressed down and running over
with abominations, because the venerable nuns of the Hostage’s Tears had
from the beginning told her so, but she was conscious of a new and less
hostile interest in it, all the same, since it produced young men of
this novel type. Then she began to reflect that he was like Robert
Emmett, who was the most modern instance of a young man which the limits
of convent literature permitted her to know about, only his hair was
cut short, and he was fair, and he smiled a good deal, and--And lo, here
they were at the boat! She woke abruptly from her musing day-dream.

The tide had gone out somewhat, and left the dingey stranded on the
dripping sea-weed. The young man seated Murphy on a rock, untied the
game-bag and put on his coat, and then in the most matter-of-fact way
tramped over the slippery ooze to the boat, pushed it off into the water
and towed it around by the chain to the edge of a little cove, whence
one might step over its side from a shore of clean, dry sand. He then,
still as if it were all a matter of course, lifted Murphy and put him in
the bow of the boat, and asked Kate to sit in the stern and steer.

“I can talk to you, you know, now that your sitting there,” he said,
with his foot on the end of the oar-seat, after she had taken the place
indicated. “Oh--wait a minute! We were forgetting the gun and bag.”

He ran lightly back to where these things lay upon the strand, and
secured them; then, turning, he discovered that Murphy had scrambled
over to the middle seat, taken the oars, and pushed the boat off.
Suspecting nothing, he walked briskly back to the water’s edge.

“Shove her in a little,” he said, “and I’ll hold her while you get back
again into the bow. You mustn’t think of rowing, my good man.”

But Murphy showed no sign of obedience. He kept his burnt, claw-shaped
hands clasped on the motionless, dipped oars, and his eager, bird-like
eyes fastened upon the face of his young mistress. As for Kate, she
studied the bottom of the boat with intentness, and absently stirred the
water over the boat-side with her finger-tips.

“Get her in, man! Don’t you hear?” called the stranger, with a shadow
of impatience, over the six or seven feet of water which lay between him
and the boat. “Or _you_ explain it to him,” he said to Kate; “perhaps he
doesn’t understand me--tell him I’m going to row!”

In response to this appeal, Kate lifted her head, and hesitatingly
opened her lips to speak--but the gaunt old boatman broke in upon her
confused silence:

“Ah, thin--I understand well enough,” he shouted, excitedly, “an’ I’m
thankful to ye, an’ the longest day I live I’ll say a prayer for
ye--an’ sure ye’re a foine grand man, every inch of ye, glory be to the
Lord--an’ it’s not manny w’u’d ’a’ done what ye did this day--and the
blessin’ of the Lord rest an ye; but--” here he suddenly dropped his
high shrill, swift-chasing tones, and added in quite another voice--“if
it’s the same to you, sir, we’ll go along home as we are.”

“What nonsense!” retorted the young man. “My time doesn’t matter in the
least--and you’re not fit to row a mile--let alone a long distance.”

“It’s not with me fut I’ll be rowin’,” replied Murphy, rounding his back
for a sweep of the oars.

“Can’t _you_ stop him, Miss--eh--young lady!” the young man implored
from the sands.

Hope flamed up in his breast at sight of the look she bent upon Murphy,
as she leaned forward to speak--and then sank into plumbless depths.
Perhaps she had said something--he could not hear, and it was doubtful
if the old boatman could have heard either--for on the instant he had
laid his strength on the oars, and the boat had shot out into the bay
like a skater over the glassy ice.

It was a score of yards away before the young man from Houghton County
caught his breath. He stood watching it--be it confessed--with his mouth
somewhat open and blank astonishment written all over his ruddy, boyish
face. Then the flush upon his pink cheeks deepened, and a sparkle came
into his eyes, for the young lady in the boat had risen and turned
toward him, and was waving her hand to him in friendly salutation. He
swung the empty game-bag wildly about his head in answer, and then the
boat darted out of view behind a jutting ridge of umber rocks, and he
was looking at an unbroken expanse of gently heaving water--all crystals
set on violet satin, under the April sun.

He sent a long-drawn sighing whistle of bewilderment after the vanished
vision.

Not a word had been exchanged between the two in the boat until after
Kate, yielding at the last moment to the temptation which had beset her
from the first, waved that unspoken farewell to her new acquaintance
and saw him a moment later abruptly cut out of the picture by the
intervening rocks. Then she sat down again and fastened a glare of
metallic disapproval, so to speak, upon Murphy. This, however, served no
purpose, since the boatman kept his head sagaciously bent over his task,
and rowed away like mad.

“I take shame for you, Murphy!” she said at last, with a voice as full
of mingled anguish and humiliation as she could manage to make it.

“Is it too free I am with complete strangers?” asked the guileful
Murphy, with the face of a trusting babe.

“’Tis the rudest and most thankless old man in all West Carbery that
ye are!” she answered, sharply.

“Luk at that now!” said Murphy, apparently addressing the handles of his
oars. “An’ me havin’ the intintion to burnin’ two candles for him this
very night!”

“Candles is it! Murphy, once for all, ’t is a bad trick ye have of
falling to talking about candles and ‘Hail Marys’ and such holy matters,
whinever ye feel yourself in a corner--and be sure the saints like it no
better than I do.”

The aged servitor rested for a moment upon his oars, and, being
conscious that evasion was of no further use, allowed an expression of
frankness to dominate his withered and weather-tanned face.

“Well, miss,” he said, “an’ this is the truth I’m tellin’ ye--_‘t_ was
not fit that he should be sailin’ in the boat wid you.”

Kate tossed her head impatiently.

“And how long are you my director in--in such matters as these, Murphy?”
 she asked, with irony.

The old man’s eyes glistened with the emotions which a sudden swift
thought conjured up.

“How long?” he asked, with dramatic effect.

“Sure, the likes of me c’u’d be no directhor at all--but ’tis a dozen
years since I swore to his honor, The O’Mahony himself, that I’d
watch over ye, an’ protect ye, an’ keep ye from the lightest breath of
harrum--an’ whin I meet him, whether it be the Lord’s will in this world
or the nixt, I’ll go to him an’ I’ll take off me hat, an’ I’ll say: ‘Yer
honor, what old Murphy putt his word to, that same he kep!’ An’ is it
you, Miss Katie, that remimbers him that well, that ’u’d be blamin’ me
for that same?”

“I don’t know if I’m so much blaming you, Murphy,” said Kate, much
softened by both the matter and the manner of this appeal, “but ’tis
different, wit’ this young man, himself an O’Mahony by name.”

“Faith, be the same token, ’tis manny thousands of O’Mahonys there are
in foreign parts, I’m tould, an’ more thousands of ’em here at home,
an’ if it’s for rowin’ ’em all on Dunmanus Bay ye’d be, on the score
of their name, ’tis grand new boats we’d want.”

Kate smiled musingly.

“Did you mind, Murphy,” she asked, after a pause, “how like the sound of
his speech was to The O’Mahony’s?”

“That I did not!” said Murphy, conclusively.

“Ah, ye’ve no ears, man! I was that flurried at the time, I couldn’t
think what it was--but now, whin it comes back to me, it was like
talking to The O’Mahony himself. There was that one word, ‘onistinjun,’
that The O’Mahony had forever on his tongue. Surely you noticed that!”

“All Americans say that same,” Murphy explained carelessly. “’T is
well known most of ’em are discinded from the Injuns. ’Tis that
they m’ane.” It did not occur to Kate to question this bold
ethno-philological proposition. She leant back in her seat at the stern,
absent-mindedly toying with the ribbons of her hat, and watching the sky
over Murphy’s head.

“Poor, dear old O’Mahony!” she sighed at last.

“Amin to that miss!” murmured the boatman, between strokes.

“’T is a year an’ more now, Murphy, since we had the laste sign in
the world from him. Ah, wirra! I’m beginnin’ to be afraid dead ’tis he
is!”

“Keep your heart, miss; keep your heart!” crooned the old boatman, in
what had been for months a familiar phrase on his lips. “Sure no mortial
man ever stepped fut on green sod that ’ud take more killin’ than our
O’Mahony. Why, _coleen asthore_, wasn’t he foightin’ wid the French,
against the Prooshians, an’ thin wid the Turkeys against the Rooshians,
an’ bechune males, as ye’d say, didn’t he bear arms in Spain for the
Catholic king, like the thunderin’ rare old O’Mahony that he is, an’ did
ever so much as a scratch come to him--an’ him killin’ an’ destroyin’
thim by hundreds? Ah, rest aisy about _him_, Miss Katie!”

The two had long since exhausted, in their almost daily talks, every
possible phase of this melancholy subject. It was now April of 1879, and
the last word received from the absent chief had been a hastily scrawled
note dispatched from Adrianople, on New Year’s Day of 1878--when the
Turkish army, beaten finally at Plevna and decimated in the Schipka,
were doggedly moving backward toward the Bosphorus. Since that, there
had been absolute silence--and Kate and Murphy had alike, hoping against
hope, come long since to fear the worst. Though each strove to sustain
confidence in the other, there was no secret between their hearts as to
what both felt.

“Murphy,” said Kate, rousing herself all at once from her reverie,
“there’s something I’ve been keeping from you--and I can’t hold it anny
longer. Do ye mind when Malachy wint away last winter?”

“Faith I do,” replied the boatman. (Malachy, be it explained, had
followed The O’Mahony in all his wanderings up to the autumn of 1870,
when, in a skirmish shortly after Sedan, he had lost an arm and, upon
his release from the hospital, had been sent back to Muirisc.) “I mind
that he wint to Amerriky.”

“Well, thin,” whispered Kate, bending forward as if the very waves had
ears, “it’s just that he didn’t do. I gave him money, and I gave him the
O’Mahony’s ring, and sint him to search the world over till he came upon
his master, or his master’s grave--and I charged him to say only this:
‘Come back to Muirisc! ’Tis Kate O’Mahony wants you!’ And now no one
knows this but me confessor and you.”

The boatman gazed earnestly into her face.

“An’ why for did ye say: ‘Come back?’” he asked.

“Ah thin--well--‘tis O’Daly’s hard d’alin’s wid the tinants, and the
failure of the potatoes these two years and worse ahead and the birth of
me little step-brother--and--”

“Answer me now, Katie darlint?” the old man adjured her, with glowing
eyes and solemn voice. “Is it the convint ye’re afraid of for yoursilf?
Is it of your own free will you’re goin’ to take your vows?”

The girl had answered this question more than once before, and readily
enough. Now, for some reason which she could not have defined to
herself, she looked down upon the gliding water at her side, and
meditatively dipped her fingers into it, and let a succession of little
waves fling their crests up into her sleeve--and said nothing at all.



CHAPTER XVIII--THE GREAT O’DALY USURPATION.

The stern natural law of mutability--of ceaseless growth, change and
decay--which the big, bustling, preoccupied outside world takes so
indifferently, as a matter of course, finds itself reduced to a bare
minimum of influence in such small, remote and out-of-the-way places as
Muirisc. The lapse of twelve years here had made the scantest and most
casual of marks upon the village and its inhabitants. Positively no
one worth mentioning had died--for even snuffy and palsied old Father
Harrington, though long since replaced at the convent _by_ a younger
priest, was understood to be still living on in the shelter of some
retreat for aged clergymen in Kerry or Clare. The three old nuns were
still the sole ladies of the Hostage’s Tears, and, like the rest of
Muirisc, seemed only a trifle the more wrinkled and worn under this
flight of time.

Such changes as had been wrought had come in a leisurely way, without
attracting much attention. The mines, both of copper and of pyrites,
had prospered beyond the experience of any other section of Munster,
and this had brought into the immediate district a considerable alien
population. But these intrusive strangers had fortunately preferred
to settle in another hamlet in the neighborhood, and came rarely to
Muirisc. The village was still without a hotel, and had by this time
grown accustomed to the existence within its borders of a constabulary
barracks. Its fishing went forward sedately and without much profit; the
men of Muirisc only half believed the stories they heard of the modern
appliances and wonderful hauls at Baltimore and Crook-haven--and cared
even less than they credited. The lobster-canning factory had died a
natural death years before, and the little children of Muirisc, playing
about within sight of its roofless and rotting timbers, avoided closer
contact with the building under some vague and formless notion that it
was unlucky. The very idea that there had once been a man who thought
that Muirisc desired to put up lobsters in tins seemed to them
comic--and almost impious as well.

But there was one alteration upon which the people of Muirisc bestowed a
good deal of thought--and on occasion and under their breath, not a few
bitter words.

Cormac O’Daly, whom all the elders remembered as a mere “pote” and man
of business for the O’Mahonys, had suddenly in his old age blossomed
forth as The O’Daly, and as master of Muirisc. Like many other changes
which afflict human recollection, this had all come about by reason of
a woman’s vain folly. Mrs. Fergus O’Mahony, having vainly cast
alluring glances upon successive relays of mining contractors and
superintendents, and of fish-buyers from Bristol and the Isle of Man,
and even, in the later stages, upon a sergeant of police--had at
last actually thrown herself in marriage at the grizzled head of
the hereditary bard. It cannot be said that the announcement of this
ill-assorted match had specially surprised the good people of Muirisc.
They had always felt that Mrs. Fergus would ultimately triumph in her
matrimonial resolutions, and the choice of O’Daly, though obviously
enough a last resort, did not shock their placid minds. It was rather
satisfactory than otherwise, when they came to think of it, that the
arrangement should not involve the introduction of a stranger, perhaps
even of an Englishman.

But now, after nearly three years of this marriage, with a young O’Daly
already big enough to walk by himself among the pigs and geese in the
square--they said to themselves that even an Englishman would have been
better, and they bracketed the connubial tendencies of Mrs. Fergus and
the upstart ambition of Cormac under a common ban of curses.

O’Daly had no sooner been installed in the castle than he had raised the
rents. Back had come the odious charge for turf-cutting, the tax on the
carrigeens and the tithe-levy upon the gathered kelp. In the best of
times these impositions would have been sorely felt; the cruel failure
of the potatoes in 1877 and ’78 had elevated them into the domain of
the tragic.

For the first time in its history Muirisc had witnessed evictions.
Half way up the cliff stood the walls of four cottages, from which the
thatched roofs had been torn by a sheriff’s posse of policeman during
the bleakest month of winter. The gloomy spectacle, familiar enough
elsewhere throughout Ireland, had still the fascination of novelty in
the eyes of Muirisc. The villagers could not keep their gaze from those
gaunt, deserted walls. Some of the evicted people--those who were too
old or too young to get off to America and yet too hardy to die--still
remained in the neighborhood, sleeping in the ditches and subsisting
upon the poor charity of the cottagers roundabout. The sight of their
skulking, half-clad forms and hunger-pinched faces filled Muirisc with
wrathful humiliation.

Almost worst still were the airs which latterly O’Daly had come to
assume. Even if the evictions and the rack-renting could have been
forgiven, Muirisc felt that his calling himself The O’Daly was
unpardonable. Everybody in Ivehagh knew that the O’Dalys had been mere
bards and singers for the McCarthys, the O’Mahonys, and other Eugenian
houses, and had not been above taking service, later on, under the
hatred Carews. That any scion of the sept should exalt himself now, in
the shoes of an O’Mahony, was simply intolerable.

In proportion as Cormac waxed in importance, his coadjutor Jerry had
diminished. There was no longer any talk heard about Diarmid MacEgan;
the very pigs in the street knew him now to be plain Jerry Higgins. Only
the most shadowy pretense of authority to intermeddle in the affairs of
the estate remained to him. Unlettered goodnature and loyalty had stood
no chance whatever against the will and powers of the educated Cormac.
Muirisc did indeed cherish a nebulous idea that some time or other the
popular discontent would find him an effective champion, but Jerry
did nothing whatever to encourage this hope. He had grown stout and
red-faced through these unoccupied years, and lived by himself in a
barely habitable nook among the ruins of the castle, overlooking the
churchyard. Here he spent a great deal of his time, behind barred
doors and denying himself to all visitors--and Muirisc had long since
concluded that the companion of his solitude was a bottle.

“I’ve a word more to whisper into your ear, Higgins,” said O’Daly, this
very evening, at the conclusion of some unimportant conversation about
the mines.

The supper had been cleared away, and a tray of glasses flanking a
decanter stood on the table at which the speaker sat with his pipe. The
buxom and rubicund Mrs. Fergus--for so Muirisc still thought and spoke
of her--dozed comfortably in her arm-chair at one side of the bank
of blazing peat on the hearth, an open novel turned down on her lap.
Opposite her mother, Kate sat and sewed in silence, the while the men
talked. It was the room in which The O’Mahony had eaten his first meal
in Muirisc, twelve years before.

“‘A word to whishper,’” repeated O’Daly, glancing at Jerry with severity
from under his beetling black brows, and speaking so loudly that even
Mrs. Sullivan in the kitchen might have heard--“times is that hard, and
work so scarce, that bechune now and midsummer I’d have ye look about
for a new place.”

Jerry stared across the table at his co-trustee in blank amazement.
It was no surprise to him to be addressed in tones of harsh dislike
by O’Daly, or to see his rightful claims to attention contemptuously
ignored. But this sweeping suggestion took his breath away.

“What place do ye mane?” he asked confusedly. “Where else in Muirisc
c’u’d I live so aisily?”

“’T is not needful ye should live in Muirisc at all,” said O’Daly,
with cold-blooded calmness. “Sure, ’t is manny years since ye were
of anny service here. A lad at two shillings the week would more than
replace ye. In these bad times, and worse cornin’, ’t is impossible
ye should stay on here as ye’ve been doin’ these twelve years. I thought
I’d tell ye in sayson, Higgins--not to take ye unawares.”

“Glory-be-to-the-world?” gasped Jerry, sitting upright in his chair, and
staring open-eyed.

“’T is a dale of other alterations I have in me mind,” O’Daly went on,
hurriedly. “Sure, things have stuck in the mire far too long, waiting
for the comin’ to life of a dead man. ’T is to stir ’em up I will
now, an’ no delay. Me step-daughter, there, takes the vail in a few
days, an’ ’t is me intintion thin to rebuild large parts of the
convint, an’ mek new rules for it whereby gerrels of me own family can
be free to enter it as well as the O’Mahonys. For, sure, ’t is now
well known an’ universally consaded that the O’Daly’s were the most
intellectual an’ intelligent family in all the two Munsters, be rayson
of which all the ignorant an’ uncultivated ruffians like the MacCarthys
an’ The O’Mahony’s used to be beseechin’ ’em to make verses and write
books an’ divert ’em wid playin’ on the harp--an ’t is high time the
O’Daly’s came into their own ag’in, the same that they’d never lost but
for their wake good-nature in consintin’ to be bards on account of their
supayrior education. Why, man,” the swart-visaged little lawyer went
on, his black eyes snapping with excitement--“what d’ ye say to me great
ancestor, Cuchonnacht O’Daly, called _na Sgoile_, or ‘of the school,’
who died at Clonard, rest his soul, Anno Domini 1139, the most
celebrated pote of all Oireland? An’ do ye mind thim eight an’ twenty
other O’Dalys in rigular descint who achaved distinction--”

“Egor! If they were all such thieves of the earth as you are, the
world’s d------d well rid of ’em!” burst in Jerry Higgins.

He had sprung to his feet, and stood now hotfaced and with clenched
fists, glaring down upon O’Daly.

The latter pushed back his chair and instinctively raised an elbow to
guard his head.

“Have a care, Higgins!” he shouted out--“you’re in the presence of
witnesses--I’m a p’aceable man--in me own domicile, too!”

“I’ll ‘dommycille’ ye, ye blagyard!” Jerry snorted, throwing his burly
form half over the table.

“Ah, thin, Jerry! Jerry!” A clear, bell-toned voice rang in his confused
ears, and he felt the grasp of a vigorous hand upon his arm. “Is it mad
ye are, Jerry, to think of striking the likes of him?”

Kate stood at his side. The mere touch of her hand on his sleeve would
have sufficed for restraint, but she gripped his arm sharply, and turned
upon him a gaze of stern reproval.

“’Tis elsewhere ye left your manners, Jerry!” she said, in a calm
enough voice, though her bosom was heaving. “When our bards became
insolent or turned rogues, they were sent outside to be beaten. ’T was
niver done in the presence of ladies.”

Jerry’s puzzled look showed how utterly he failed to grasp her meaning.
There was no such perplexity in O’Daly’s mind. He, too, had risen,
and stood on the hearth beside his wife, who blinked vacuous inquiries
sleepily at the various members of the group in turn.

“And _we_,” he said, with nervous asperity, “when our children become
impertinent, we trounce them off to their bed.”

“Ah-h! No child of yours, O’Daly!” the girl made scornful answer, in
measured tones.

“Well, thin,” the little man snarled, vehemently, “while ye’re under my
roof, Miss O’Mahony, ye’ll heed what I say, an’ be ruled by ’t. An’
now ye force me to ’t, mark this: I’ll have no more of your gaddin’
about with that old bag-o’-bones of a Murphy. ’T is not dacint or
fittin’ for a young lady--more especially when she’s to be a--wanderin’
the Lord knows where, or--”

Kate broke in upon his harangue with shrill laughter, half hysterical.

“Is it an O’Daly that I hear discoorsin’ on dacency to an O’Mahony!” she
called out, ironically incredulous. “Well, thin--while that I’m under
your roof---”

“Egor! Who made it his roof?” demanded Jerry. “Shure, be the papers The
O’Mahony wrote out wid his own hand for us--”

“Don’t be interruptin’, Jerry!” said Kate, again with a restraining hand
on his arm. “I say this, O’Daly: The time I stop under this roof will be
just that while that it takes me to put on me hat. Not an instant longer
will I stay.”

She walked proudly erect to the chest in the corner, took up her hat and
put it on her head.

“Come now, Jerry,” she said, “I’ll walk wid you to me cousins, the
Ladies of the Hostage’s Tears. ’T will be grand news to thim that the
O’Dalys have come into _their own_ ag’in!”

Cormac O’Daly instinctively moved toward the door to bar her egress.
Then a glance at Jerry’s heavy fists and angered face bred intuition of
a different kind, and he stepped back again.

“Mind, once for all! I’ll not have ye here ag’in--neither one or other
of ye!” he shouted.

Kate disdained response by even so much as a look. She moved over to the
arm-chair, and, stooping for an instant, lightly brushed with her lips
the flattened crimps which adorned the maternal forehead. Then, with
head high in air and a tread of exaggerated stateliness, she led the way
for Jerry out of the room and the house.

Mrs. Fergus heard the front door close with a resounding clang, and the
noise definitely awakened her. She put up a correcting hand, and passed
it over her front hair. Then she yawned meditatively at the fire, and,
lifting the steaming kettle from the crane, filled one of the glasses on
the tray with hot water. Then she permitted herself a drowsy halfsmile
at the disordered appearance presented by her infuriated spouse.

“Well, thin, ’tis not in Mother Agnes O’Mahony’s shoes I’m wishin’
myself!” she said, upon reflection. “It’s right ye are to build thick
new walls to the convint. They’ll be needed, wid that girl inside!”



CHAPTER XIX--A BARGAIN WITH THE BURIED MAN.

Though by daylight there seemed to lie but a step of space between the
ruined Castle of Muirisc and the portal of the Convent of the Hostage’s
Tears, it was different under the soft, starlit sky of this April
evening. The way was long enough, at all events, for the exchange of
many views between Kate and Jerry.

“’Tis flat robbery he manes, Jerry,” the girl said, as the revolted
twain passed out together under the gateway. “With me safe in the
convint, sure he’s free to take everything for his son--me little
stepbrother--an’ thin there’s an ind to the O’Mahony’s, here where
they’ve been lords of the coast an’ the mountains an’ the castles since
before St. Patrick’s time--an’, luk ye! an O’Daly comes on! I’m fit to
tear out me eyes to keep them from the sight!”

“But, Miss Katie,” put in Jerry, eagerly, “I’ve a thought in me
head--egor! The O’Mahony himself put writin’ to paper, statin’ how every
blessed thing was to be yours, the day he sailed away. Sure ’twas
meself was witness to that same, along wid O’Daly an’ your mother an’
the nuns. To-morrow I’ll have the law on him!”

“Ah, Jerry,” the girl sighed and shook her head; “ye’ve a good heart,
but it’s only grief ye’ll get tryin’ to match your wits against
O’Daly’s. What do _you_ know about papers an’ documents, an’ the like of
that, compared wid him? Why, man, he’s an attorney himself! ’T is thim
that putts the law on other people--worse luck!”

“An’ him that usen’t to have a word for anny-thing but the praises of
The O’Mahonys!” exclaimed Jerry, lost once more in surprise at the scope
of O’Daly’s ambitions.

“I, for one, never thrusted him!” said Kate, with emphasis. “’T was
not in nature that anny man could be that humble an’ devoted to a family
that wasn’t his own, as he pretinded.”

“Weil, I dunno,” began Jerry, hesitatingly; “’t is my belafe he mint
honest enough, till that boy o’ his was born. A childless man is wan
thing, an’ a father’s another. ’T is that boy that’s turnin’ O’Daly’s
head.”

Kate’s present mood was intolerant of philosophy. “Faith, Jerry,” she
said, with sharpness, “’t is _my_ belafe that if wan was to abuse the
divil in your hearin’, you’d say: ‘At anny rate, he has a fine, grand
tail.’”

Jerry’s round face beamed in the vague starlight with a momentary smile.
“Ah, thin, Miss Katie!” he said, in gentle deprecation. Then, as upon a
hasty afterthought: “Egor! I’ll talk with Father Jago.”

“Ye’ll do nothing of the kind!” Kate commanded.

“He’s a young man, an’ he’s not Muirisc born, an’ he’s O’Daly’s fri’nd,
naturally enough, an’ he’s the chaplain of the convint. Sure, with half
an eye, ye can see that O’Daly’s got the convint on his side. My taking
the vail will profit thim, as well as him. Sure, that’s the point of it
all.”

“Thin why not putt yer fut down,” asked Jerry, “an’ say ye’ll tek no
vail at all?”

“I gave me word,” she answered, simply.

“But aisy enough--ye can say as Mickey Dugan did on the gallus, to the
hangman: ‘Egor!’ said he, ‘I’ve changed my mind.’”

“We don’t be changin’ _our_ minds!” said Kate, with proud brevity;
and thereupon she ran up the convent steps, and, after a little space,
filled with the sound of jangling bells and the rattle of bars and
chains, disappeared.

Jerry pursued the small remnant of his homeward course in a deep, brown
study. He entered his abode by the churchyard postern, bolted the door
behind him and lighted a lamp, still in an absent-minded way. Such
flickering rays as pierced the smoky chimney cast feeble illumination
upon a sort of castellated hovel--a high, stone-walled room with arched
doorways and stately, vaulted ceiling above, but with the rude furniture
and squalid disorder of a laborer’s cottage below.

But another idea did occur to him while he sat on the side of his bed,
vacantly staring at the floor--an idea which set his shrewd, brown
eyes aglow. He rose hastily, took a lantern down from a nail on the
whitewashed wall and lighted it. Then with a key from his pocket, he
unlocked a door at the farther end of the room, behind the bed, and
passed through the open passage, with a springing step, into the
darkness of a low, stone-walled corridor.

The staircase down which we saw the guns and powder carried in secrecy,
on that February night in 1867, led Jerry to the concealed doorway in
the rounded wall which had been discovered. He applied the needful trick
to open this door; then carefully closed it behind him, and made his
way, crouching and stealthily, through the passage to the door at its
end. This he opened with another key and entered abruptly.

“God save all here!” he called out upon the threshold, in the
half-jesting, half-sincere tone of one who, using an ancient formula at
the outset by way of irony, grows to feel that he means what it says.

“God save you kindly!” was the prompt response, in a thin, strangely
vibrant voice: and on the instant the speaker came forward into
firelight.

He was a slender man of middle age, with a pale, spectacled face, framed
by a veritable mane of dingy reddish hair thrown back from temples and
brow. This brow, thus bared, was broad and thoughtful besides being
wonderfully white, and, with the calm gray eyes, which shone steadily
through the glasses, seemed to constitute practically the whole face.
There were, one noted at a second glance, other portions of this face--a
weak, pointed nose, for example, and a mouth and chin hidden under
irregular outlines of straggling beard; but the brow and the eyes were
what the gaze returned to. The man wore a loose, nondescript sort of
gown, gathered at the waist with a cord. Save for a table against the
wall, littered with papers and writing materials and lighted by a lamp
in a bracket above, the chamber differed in little from its appearance
on that memorable night when the dead monk’s sleep of centuries had been
so rudely broken in upon.

“I’m glad ye’ve come down ag’in to-day,” said the man of the brow and
eyes. “Since this mornin’, I’ve traced out the idintity of Finghin--the
one wid the brain-ball I told ye of--as clear as daylight. Not a
man-jack of ’em but ’ll see it now like the nose on their face.”

“Ah, thin, that’s a mercy,” said Jerry, seating himself tentatively on
a corner of the table. “Egor! It looked at one toime there as if his
identity was gone to the divil intoirely. But l’ave you to smoke him
out!”

“It can be proved that this Finghin is wan an’ the same wid the
so-called Fiachan Roe, who married the widow of the O’Dubhagain, in the
elevinth cintury.”

“Ah, there ye have it!” said Jerry, shaking his head dejectedly. “He
_wud_ marry a widdeh, w’u’d he? Thin, be me sowl, ’tis a marvel to
grace he had anny idint--whatever ye call it--left at all. Well, sir, to
tell ye the truth, ’tis disappointed I am in Finghin. I credited him
with more sinse than to be marryin’ widdehs. An’ I suppose ye’ll l’ave
him out of your book altogether now. Egor, an’ serve him right, too!”

The other smiled; a wan and fleeting smile of the eyes and brow.

“Ah, don’t be talkin!” he said, pleasantly, and then added, with a sigh:
“More like he’ll l’ave _me_, wid me work undone. You’ll bear me witness,
sir, that I’ve been patient, an’ thried me best to live continted here
in this cave of the earth, an’ busy me mind wid work; but no man can
master his drames. ’Tis that that’s killin’ me. Every night, the
moment I’m asleep, faith, I’m out in the meadehs, wid flowers on the
ditches an’ birds singin’, an’ me fishin’ in the brook, like I was a boy
ag’in; an’ whin I wake up, me heart’s broke intirely! I tell ye, man, if
’t wasn’t for me book here, I’d go outside in spite of ’em all, an’
let ’em hang me, if they like--jist for wan luk at the sky an’ wan
breath of fresh air.”

Jerry swung his legs nonchalantly, but there was a new speculation
twinkling in his eyes as he regarded his companion.

“Ah, it won’t be long now, Major Lynch,” he said, consolingly. “An’ have
ye much more to state in your book?”

“All the translatin’ was finished long since, but _‘t_ is comparin’ the
various books together I am, an’ that takes a dale o’ time. There’s the
psalter o’ Timoleague Abbey, an’ the psalter o’ Sherkin, an’ the book
o’ St. Kian o’ Cape Clear, besides all the riccords of Muirisc that lay
loose in the chest. Yet I’m far from complainin’. God knows what I’d a’
done without ’em.”

There are many marvels in Irish archaeology. Perhaps the most wonderful
of all is the controlling and consuming spell it had cast over
Linksy, making it not only possible for him to live twelve years in an
underground dungeon, fairly contented, and undoubtedly occupied,
but lifting him bodily out of his former mental state and up into
an atmosphere of scholarly absorption and exclusively intellectual
exertion. He had entered upon this long imprisonment with only an
ordinary high-school education, and no special interest in or bent
toward books. By the merest chance he happened to have learned to speak
Irish, as a boy, and, later, to have been taught the written alphabet
of the language. His first days of solitude in the subterranean chamber,
after his recovery from the terrible blow on the head, had been whiled
away by glancing over the curious parchment writings and volumes in
the chest. Then, to kill time, he had essayed to translate one of the
manuscripts, and Jerry had obligingly furnished him with paper, pens and
ink. To have laboriously traced out the doubtful thread of continuity
running through the confused and legendary pedigrees of the fierce
Eugenian septs, to have lived for twelve long years buried in ancient
Munster genealogies, wearing the eyesight out in waking hours upon
archaic manuscripts, and dreaming by night of still more undecipherable
parchment chronicles, may well seem to us, who are out in the busy
noonday of the world, a colossal waste of time. No publisher alive would
have thought for a moment of printing Linsky’s compilations at his own
risk, and probably not more than twenty people would have regretted his
refusal the whole world over. But this consideration has never operated
yet to prevent archaeologists from devoting their time and energies
and fortunes to works which nobody on earth is going to read, much less
publish; Jerry was still contemplating Linsky with a grave new interest.

“Ye’ve changed that much since--since ye came down here for your health.
’Tis my belafe not a mother’s son of ’em ’u’d recognize ye up
above,” he said, reflectively.

Linsky spoke with eagerness:

“Man alive! I’m jist dyin’ to make the attimpt!”

“What--an’ turn yer back on all these foine riccords an’ statements that
_ye’ve_ kept yer hand to so long?”

The other’s face fell.

“Sure, I c’u’d come down ag’in,” Linsky said, hesitatingly.

“We’ll see; we’ll see,” remarked Jerry. Then, in a careless manner, as
if he had not had this chiefly in mind from the beginning, he asked:
“Usen’t ye to be tellin’ me ye were a kind of an attorney, Major Lynch?”

“I was articled to an attorney, wance upon a time, but I’d no time to
sthick to it.”

“But ye’d know how to hev the law on a man, if he was yer inemy?”

“Some of it is in me mind still, maybe,” replied Linsky, not with much
confidence.

Jerry sprang lightly down from the table, walked over to the fire, and
stood with his back to it, his legs wide apart and his thumbs in his
waistcoat armholes, as he had seen The O’Mahony bear himself.

“Well, Linsky, I’ve a bargain to offer ye,” he said, bluntly.

Linsky stared in wild-eyed amazement. He had not heard the sound of this
name of his for years.

“What--what was that name ye called?” he asked, with a faltering voice.

“Ah, it’s all right,” remarked Jerry, with assurance. “Faith, I knew ye
wor Linsky from the beginning. An’ bechune ourselves, that’s but a drop
in the bucket to the rest I know.”

Linsky’s surprise paralyzed his tongue. He could only pluck nervously at
the cord about his waist and gaze in confusion at his jailer-friend.

“You believed all this time that ye were hid away down here by your
fri’nds, to save ye from the poliss, who were scourin’ the counthry to
arrest Fenians. Am I right?” Jerry asked, with a dawning smile on his
red face.

The other nodded mechanically, still incomplete mystification.

“An’ you all the time besachin’ to go out an’ take yer chances, an’
me forever tellin’ ye ’twould be the ruin of the whole thund’rin’
Brotherhood if ye were caught?” Jerry continued, the smile ripening as
he went on.

Again Linsky’s answer was a puzzled nod of acquiescence.

“Well, thin, there’s no Brotherhood left at all, an’ ’t is manny years
since the poliss in these parts had so much as a drame of you or of anny
Fenian under the sun.”

“But why,” stammered Linsky, at last finding voice--“why--thin--”

“Why are ye here?” Jerry amiably asked the question for him. “Only a
small matther of discipline, as his reverence w’u’d say, when he ordered
peas in our boots. To be open an’ above-board wid ye, man, ye were
caught attimptin’ to hand over the lot of us to the sojers, that day we
tried to take the fort. ’T is the gallus we might ’a’ got by rayson
of your informin’. Do ye deny that same?” Linsky made no answer, but he
looked now at the floor instead of at Jerry. In truth, he had been
so long immured, confronted daily with the pretense that he was being
hidden beyond the reach of the castle’s myrmidons, that this sudden
resurrection of the truth about his connection with Fenianism seemed
almost to refer to somebody else.

“Well, thin,” pursued Jerry, taking instant advantage of the other’s
confusion, “egor, ’t was as a traitor ye were tried an’ condimned an’
sintenced, while ye lay, sinseless wid that whack on the head. There wor
thim that w’u’d--uv--uv--well, not seen ye wake this side of purgatory,
or wherever else ye had yer ticket for. But there was wan man that saved
yer life from the rest--and he said: ‘No, don’t kill him, an’ don’t bate
him or lay a finger to him, an’ I’ll be at the expinse of keepin’ him in
a fine, grand place by himsilf, wid food of the best, an’ whishky aich
day, an’ books an’ writin’s to improve his learnin’, an’ no work to do,
an’ maybe, be the grace o’ God, he’ll come to think rightly about it
all, an’ be ashamed of himsilf an’ his dirty doin’s, an be fit ag’in to
come out an’ hold up his head amongst honest min.’ That’s the m’anin’
of what he said, an’ I’m the man he said it to--an’ that’s why I’m here
now, callin’ ye by yer right name, an’ tellin’ ye the thruth.”

Linsky hesitated for a minute or two, with downcast gaze and fingers
fidgeting at the ends of his waist-cord. Then he lifted his face, which
more than ever seemed all brow and eyes, and looked frankly at Jerry.

“What ye say is a surprise to me,” he began, choosing his words as he
went. “Ye never let on what your thoughts were concernin’ me, an’ I grew
to forget how it was I came. But now you spake of it, sure ’tis the
same to me as if I’d niver been thinkin’ of anything else. Oh, thin,
tell that man who spoke up for me, whoever he may be, that I’ve no word
but praise for him. ’T was a poor divil of a wake fool he saved the
life of.”

“Wid a mixin’ of rogue as well,” put in Jerry, by way of conscientious
parenthesis.

“’Tis the same thing--the worst fool is the rogue; but I tuk to ’t
to keep soul an’ body together. Sure, I got into throuble in Cork,
as manny another boy did before me, an’ fled to Ameriky, an’ there I
listed, an’ came in at the tail of the war, an’ was shot down an’ robbed
where I lay, an’ was in the hospital for months; an’ whin I came out
divil a thing was there for me to putt me hand to; an’ the Fenians
was started, an’ I j’ined ’em. An’ there was a man I knew who made a
livin’ be sellin’ information of what winton, an’ the same offer came to
me through him--an’ me starvin’; an’ that’s the way of it.”

“An’ a notorious bad way, at that!” said Jerry, sternly.

“I’m of that same opinion,” Linsky went on, in all meakness. “Don’t
think I’m defindin’ meself. But I declare to ye, whin I look back on it,
’t is not like it was meself at all.”

“Ay, there ye have it!” exclaimed Jerry. “Luk now! Min do be changin’
and alterin’ all the while. I know a man--an old man--who used to be
honest an’ fair-spoken, an’ that devoted to a certain family, egor, he’d
laid down his life for ’em; an’ now, be rayson that he’s married a
widdeh, an’ got a boy of his own, what did he but turn rogue an’ lie
awake nights schamin’ to rob that same family! ’Tis that way we are!
An’ so wid you, Linsky, ’tis my belafe that ye began badly, an’ that
ye’re minded to ind well. Ye’re not the man ye were at all. ’T is part
by rayson, I think, of your studyin’ in thim holy books, an’ part, too,”
 his eyes twinkled as he added, “be rayson of enjoyin’ my society every
day.” Linsky passed the humorous suggestion by unheeded, his every
perception concentrated upon the tremendous possibility which had with
such strange suddenness opened before him.

“An’ what is it ye have in mind?” he asked breathlessly. “There was word
of a bargain.”

“’Tis this,” explained Jerry: “An old thief of the earth--him I spoke
of that married the widdeh--is for robbin’ an’ plunderin’ the man that
saved your life. There’s more to the tale than I’m tellin’ ye, but
that’s the way of it; an’ I’ll die for it but I’ll prevint him; an’ ’t
is beyant my poor wits to do that same; an’ so ’t is your help I’m
needin’. An’ there ye have it!”

The situation thus outlined did not meet the full measure of Linsky’s
expectations. His face fell.

“Sure ye might have had me advice in anny case,” he said “if that’s all
it comes to; but I thought I was goin’ out.”

“An’ why not?” answered Jerry. “Who’s stop-pin’ ye but me, an’ me
needin’ ye outside?”

Linsky’s eyes glowed radiantly through their glasses.

“Oh, but I’ll come!” he exclaimed. “An’ whatever ye bid me that I’ll
do!”

“Ah, but,” Jerry shook his head dubiously, “’t is you that must be
biddin’ _me_ what to do.”

“To the best of me power that I’ll do, too,” the other affirmed; and the
two men shook hands.

“On to-morrow I’ll get clothes for ye at Bantry,” Jerry said, an hour
later, at the end of the conference they had been holding, “an’ nixt day
we’ll inthroduce ye to daylight an’ to--O’Daly.”



CHAPTER XX--NEAR THE SUMMIT OF MT. GABRIEL.

A vast sunlit landscape under a smiling April sky--a landscape beyond
the uses of mere painters with their tubes and brushes and camp-stools,
where leagues of mountain ranges melted away into the shimmering haze
of distance, and where the myriad armlets of the blue Atlantic in view,
winding themselves about their lovers, the headlands, and placidly
nursing their children, the islands, marked as on a map the coastwise
journeys of a month--stretched itself out before the gaze of young
Bernard O’Mahony, of Houghton County, Michigan--and was scarcely thanked
for its pains.

The young man had completed four-fifths of the ascent of Mount Gabriel,
from the Dunmanus side, and sat now on a moss-capped boulder, nominally
meditating upon the splendors of the panorama spread out before him, but
in truth thinking deeply of other things. He had not brought a gun, this
time, but had in his hand a small, brand-new hammer, with which, from
time to time, to point the shifting phases of his reverie, he idly
tapped the upturned sole of the foot resting on his knee.

From this coign of vantage he could make out the white walls and
thatches of at least a dozen hamlets, scattered over the space of thrice
as many miles. Such of these as stood inland he did not observe a second
time. There were others, more distant, which lay close to the bay,
and these he studied intently as he mused, his eyes roaming along the
coast-line from one to another in baffled perplexity. There was
nothing obscure, about them, so far as his vision went. Everything--the
innumerable croft-walls dividing the wretched land below him into
holdings; the dark umber patches where the bog had been cut; the serried
layers of gray rock sloping transversely down the mountain-side, each
with its crown of canary-blossomed furze; the wide stretches of desolate
plain beyond, where no human habitation could be seen, yet where he knew
thousands of poor creatures lived, all the same, in moss-hidden hovels
in the nooks of the rocks; the pale sheen on the sea still further away,
as it slept in the sunlight at the feet of the cliffs--everything was as
sharp and distinct as the picture in a telescope.

But all this did not help him to guess where the young woman in the
broad, black hat lived.

Bernard had thought a great deal about this young woman during the
forty-eight hours which had elapsed since she stood up in the boat and
waved her hand to him in farewell. In a guarded way he had made some
inquiries at Goleen, where he was for the moment domiciled, but only to
learn that people on the east side of the peninsula are conscious of no
interest whatever in the people reputed to live on the west side. They
are six or eight Irish miles apart, and there is high land between them.
No one in Goleen could tell him anything about a beautiful dark young
woman with a broad, black hat. He felt that they did not even properly
imagine to themselves what he meant. In Goleen the young women are not
beautiful, and they wear shawls on their heads, not hats.

Then he had conceived the idea of investigating the west shore for
himself. On the map in his guide-book this seemed a simple enough
undertaking, but now, as he let his gaze wander again along the vast
expanse of ragged and twisted coast-line, he saw that it would mean the
work of many days.

And then--then he saw something else--a vision which fairly took his
breath away.

Along the furze-hedge road which wound its way up the mountain-side
from Dunmanus and the south, two human figures were moving toward him,
slowly, and still at a considerable distance. One of these figures was
that of a woman, and--yes, it was a woman!--and she wore, a hat--as like
as could be to that broad-brimmed, black hat he had been dreaming of.
Bernard permitted himself no doubts. He was of the age of miracles. Of
course it was _she!_

Without a moment’s hesitation he slid down off his rocky perch and
seated himself behind a clump of furze. It would be time enough to
disclose his presence--if, indeed he did at all--when she had come up to
him.

No such temptation to secrecy besets us. We may freely hasten down the
mountain-side to where Kate, walking slowly and pausing from time to
time to look back upon the broadening sweep of land and sea below her,
was making the ascent of Mount Gabriel.

Poor old Murphy had been left behind, much against his will, to nurse
and bemoan his swollen ankle. The companion this time was a younger
brother of the missing Malachy, a lumpish, silent “boy” of twenty-five
or six, who slouched along a few paces behind his mistress and bore the
luncheon basket. This young man was known to all Muirisc as John Pat,
which was by way of distinguishing him from the other Johns who were
not also Patricks. As it was now well on toward nine centuries since the
good Brian Boru ordained that every Irishman should have a surname,
the presumption is that John Pat did possess such a thing, but feudal
Muirisc never dreamed of suggesting its common use. This surname had
been heard at his baptism; it might be mentioned again upon the occasion
of his marriage, though his wife would certainly be spoken of as Mrs.
John Pat, and in the end, if he died at Muirisc, the surname would be
painted in white letters on the black wooden cross set over his grave.
For all the rest he was just John Pat.

And mediaeval Muirisc, too, could never have dreamed that his age and
sex might be thought by outsiders to render him an unsuitable companion
for Miss Kate in her wanderings over the countryside. In their eyes, and
in his own, he was a mere boy, whose mission was to run errands, carry
bundles or do whatever else the people of the castle bade him do; in
return for which they, in one way or another, looked to it that he
continued to live, and even on occasion, gave him an odd shilling or
two.

“Look, now, John Pat,” said Kate, halting once more to look back;
“there’s Dunbeacon and Dun-manus and Muirisc beyant, and, may be if it
wasn’t so far, we could see the Three Castles, too; and whin we’re at
the top, we should be able to see Rosbrin and the White Castle and the
Black Castle and the strand over which Ballydesmond stood, on the other
side, as well. ’Tis my belafe no other family in the world can stand
and look down on sevin of their castles at one view.”

John Pat looked dutifully along the coast-line as her gesture commanded,
and changed his basket into the other hand, but offered no comment.

“And there, across the bay,” the girl went on, “is the land that’s
marked on the Four Masters’ map for the O’Dalys. Ye were there many’
times, John Pat, after crabs and the like. Tell me, now, did ever you or
anny one else hear of a castle built there be the O’Dalys?”

“Sorra a wan, Miss Katie.”

“There you have it! My word, the impidince of thim O’Dalys--strolling
beggars, and hedge teachers, and singers of ballads be the wayside!
’Tis in the books, John Pat, that wance there was a king of Ireland
named Hugh Dubh--Hugh the Black--and these bards so perplexed and
brothered the soul out of him wid claims for money and fine clothes and
the best places at the table, and kept the land in such a turmoil by
rayson of the scurrilous verses they wrote about thim that gave thim
less than their demands--that Hugh, glory be to him, swore not a man of
’em should remain in all Ireland. ‘Out ye go,’ says he. But thin they
raised such a cry, that a wake, kindly man--St. Columbkill that was to
be--tuk pity on ’em, and interceded wid the king, and so, worse luck,
they kept their place. Ah, thin, if Hugh Dugh had had his way wid ’em
’t would be a different kind of Ireland we’d see this day!”

“Well, this Hugh Dove, as you call him”--spoke up a clear, fresh-toned
male voice, which was not John Pat’s--“even he couldn’t have wanted a
prettier Ireland than this is, right here in front of us!”

Kate, in vast surprise, turned at the very first sound of this strange
voice. A young man had risen to his feet from behind the furze hedge,
close beside her, his rosy-cheeked face wreathed in amiable smiles. She
recognized the wandering O’Ma-hony from Houghton County, Michigan, and
softened the rigid lines into which her face had been startled, as a
token of friendly recognition.

“Good morning,” the young man added, as a ceremonious afterthought.
“Isn’t it a lovely day?”

“You seem to be viewing our country hereabouts wid great complateness,”
 commented Kate, with a half-smile, not wholly free from irony. There
really was no reason for suspecting the accidental character of the
encounter, save the self-conscious and confident manner in which the
young man had, on the instant, attached himself to her expedition. Even
as she spoke, he was walking along at her side.

“Oh, yes,” he answered, cheerfully, “I’m mixing up business and
pleasure, don’t you see, all the while I’m here--and really they get so
tangled up together every once in a while, that I can’t tell which
is which. But just at this moment--there’s no doubt about it
whatever--pleasure is right bang-up on top.”

“It _is_ a fine, grand day,” said Kate, with a shade of reserve. The
frankly florid compliment of the Occident was novel to her.

“Yes, simply wonderful weather,” he pursued. “Only April, and here’s the
skin all peeling off from my nose.”

Kate could not but in courtesy look at this afflicted feature. It was a
short good-humored nose, with just the faintest and kindliest suggestion
of an upward tilt at the end. One should not be too serious with the
owner of such a nose.

“You have business here, thin?” she asked. “I thought you were looking
at castles--and shooting herons.”

He gave a little laugh, and held up his hammer as a voucher.

“I’m a mining engineer,” he explained: “I’ve been prospecting for a
company all around Cappagh and the Mizzen Head, and now I’m waiting to
hear from London what the assays are like. Oh, yes--that reminds me--I
ought to have asked before--how is the old man--the chap we had to carry
to the boat? I hope his ankle’s better.”

“It is, thank you,” she replied.

He chuckled aloud at the recollections which the subject suggested.

“He soured on me, right from the start, didn’t hee?” the young man went
on. “I’ve laughed a hundred times since, at the way he chiseled me
out of my place in the boat--that is to say, _some_ of the time I’ve
laughed--but--but then lots of other times I couldn’t see any fun in it
at all. Do you know,” he continued, almost dolefully, “I’ve been hunting
all over the place for you.”

“I’ve nothing to do wid the minerals on our lands,” Kate answered. “’T
is a thrushtee attinds to all that.”

“Pshaw! I didn’t want to talk minerals to _you_.”

“And what thin?”

“Well--since you put it so straight--why--why, of course--I wanted to
ask you more about our people, about the O’Mahonys. You seemed to be
pretty well up on the thing. You see, my father died seven or eight
years ago, so that I was too young to talk to him much about where he
came from, and all that. And my mother, her people were from a different
part of Ireland, and so, you see--”

“Ah, there’s not much to tell now,” said Kate, in a saddened tone. “They
were a great family once, and now are nothing at all, wid poor me as the
last of the lot.”

“I don’t call that ‘nothing at all,’ by a jugful,” protested Bernard,
with conviction.

Kate permitted herself a brief cousinly smile.

“All the same, they end with me, and afther me comes in the O’Dalys.”

Lines of thought raised themselves on the young man’s forehead and ran
down to the sunburnt nose.

“How do you mean?” he asked, dubiously.

“Are you--don’t mind my asking--are you going to marry one of that
name?”

She shrugged her shoulders, to express repugnance at the very thought.

“I’ll marry no one; laste of all an O’Daly,” she said, firmly. Then,
after a moment’s hesitation, she decided upon a further explanation.
“I’m goin’ to take me vows at the convint within the month,” she added.

Bernard stared open-eyed at her.

“I-gad!” was all he said.

The girl’s face lightened at the sound of this exclamation, bringing
back as it did a flood of welcome memories.

“I know you by that word for a true O’Mahony,--‘an American O’Mahoney,”
 she said, with eager pleasure beaming in her deep-gray eyes. She turned
to her retainer: “You remimber that same word, John Pat. Who was it used
always to be saying ‘I-gad?’”

John Pat searched the landscape with a vacuous glance.

“W’u’d it be Father Harrington?” he asked.

“Huh!” sniffed Kate, in light contempt, and turned again to the young
engineer, with a backward nod toward John Pat. “He’s an honest lad,”
 she said, apologetically, “but the Lord only knows what’s inside of his
head. Ah, sir, there _was_ an O’Mahony here--‘tis twelve years now since
he sailed away; ah, the longest day Muirisc stands she ’ll not see
such another man--bold and fine, wid a heart in him like a lion, and yit
soft and tinder to thim he liked, and a janius for war and commence and
government that made Muirisc blossom like a rose. Ah, a grand man was
our O’Mahony!”

“So you live at Muirisc, eh?” asked the practical Bernard.

“’T was him used always to say ‘I-gad!’ whin things took him by
surprise,” remarked Kate, turning to study the vast downward view
attentively.

“Well I said it because _I_ was taken by surprise,” said the young man.
“What else could a fellow say, with such a piece of news as that dumped
down on him? But say, you don’t mean it, do you--_you_ going to be a
nun?”

She looked at him through luminous eyes, and nodded a grave affirmative.

Bernard walked for a little way in silence, moodily eying the hammer in
his hand. Once or twice he looked up at his companion as if to speak,
then cast down his eyes again. At last, after he had helped her to cross
a low, marshy stretch at the base of a ridge of gray rock, and to climb
to the top of the boulder--for they had left the road now and were
making their way obliquely up the barren crest--he found words to utter.

“You don’t mind my coming along with you,” he asked, “under the
circumstances?”

“I don’t see how I’m to prevint you, especially wid you armed wid a
hammer,” she said, in gentle banter.

“And I can ask you a plain question without offending you?” he went on;
and then, without waiting for an answer, put his question: “It’s just
this--I’ve only seen you twice, it’s true, but I feel as if I’d known
you for years, and, besides, we’re kind of relations--are you going to
do this of your own free will?”

Kate, for answer, lifted her hand and pointed westward toward the
pale-blue band along the distant coast-line.

“That castle you see yonder at the bridge--” she said, “’t was there
that Finghin, son of Diarmid Mor O’Mahony, bate the MacCarthys wid great
slaughter, in Anno Domini 1319.”



CHAPTER XXI--ON THE MOUNTAIN-TOP--AND AFTER.

The two young people, with John Pat and the basket close behind, stood
at last upon the very summit of Gabriel--a wild and desolate jumble
of naked rocks piled helter-skelter about them, and at their feet a
strange, little, circular lake, which in all the ages had mirrored no
tree or flowering rush or green thing whatsoever, but knew only of
the clouds and of the lightning’s play and of the gathering of the
storm-demons for descent upon the homes of men.

A solemn place is a mountain-top. The thin, spiritualized air is all
alive with mysteries, which, down below in the sordid atmosphere, visit
only the brains of men whom we lock up as mad. The drying-up of the
great globe-floods; the slow birth of vegetation; the rank growth of
uncouth monsters; the coming of the fleet-footed, bare-skinned savage
beast called man; the primeval aeons of warfare wherein knowledge
of fire, of metals, of tanned hides and habitations was laboriously
developed and the huger reptiles were destroyed; the dawn of history
through the clouds of sun and serpent worship; the weary ages of brutish
raids and massacres, of barbaric creeds and cruel lusts--all this the
mountain-tops have stood still and watched, and, so far as in them lay,
understood.

Some have comprehended more of what they saw than others. The tallest
man is not necessarily the wisest. So there are very lofty mountains
which remain stupid, despite their advantages, and there are
relatively small mountains which have come to be almost human in their
understanding of and sympathy with the world-long drama they have
watched unfolding itself. The Brocken, for example, is scarcely
nipple-high to many another of its German brethren, yet which of the
rest has such rich memories, stretching back through countless centuries
of Teuton, Slav, Alemanni, Suevi, Frank and Celt to the days when
nomad strove with troglodyte, and the great cave-bear grappled with the
mammoth in the silent fastnesses of the Harz.

In Desmond, the broad-based, conical Gabriel has as unique a character
of another kind. There is nothing of the frank and homely German
familiarity in the reputation it enjoys at home. To be sure, the
mountain is scarred to the throat by bogcutters; cabins and the ruins
of cabins lurk hidden in clefts of rocks more than half-way up its gray,
furze-clad sides; yet it produces the effect of standing sternly aloof
from human things. The peasants think of it as a sacred eminence. It has
its very name from the legend of the archangel, who flying across Europe
in disgust at man’s iniquities, could not resist the temptation to
descend for a moment to touch with his foot this beautiful mountain gem
in the crown of Carbery.

Kate explained this legend to her young companion from Houghton County,
and showed him the marks of the celestial visitor’s foot plainly
visible in the rock. He bestowed such critical, not to say professional,
scrutiny upon these marks that she made haste to take up another branch
of the ancient fable.

“And this little round lake here,” she went on, “they’ll all tell you
’t was made by bodily lifting out a great cylinder of rock and carting
it miles through the air and putting it down in the sea out there, where
it’s ever since been known as Fasnet Rock. They say the measurements are
precisely the same. I forget now if ’t was the Archangel Gabriel did
that, too, or the divil.”

“The result comes to about the same thing,” commented the engineer.
“Whoever did it,” he went on, scanning the regularly rounded sides of
the pool, “made a good workmanlike job of it.”

“No one’s ever been able to touch the bottom of it,” said Kate, with
pride.

“Oh, come, now--I’ve heard that of every second lake in Ireland.”

“Well--certainly _I’ve_ not tested it,” she replied, frostily, “but ’t
is well known that if you sink a bottle in this lake ’t will be found
out there in Dun-manus Bay fourteen hundred feet below us.”

“Why, the very first principle of hydrostatics,” began Bernard, with
controversial eagerness. Then he stopped short, stroked his smooth chin,
and changed the subject abruptly. “Speaking of bottles,” he said, “I
see your man there is eying that lunch basket with the expression of a
meat-axe. Wouldn’t it be a clever idea to let him unpack it?” The while
John Pat stripped the basket of its contents, and spread them upon a
cloth in the mossy shadow of an overhanging boulder, the two by a common
impulse strolled over to the eastern edge of the summit.

“Beyond Roaring Water Bay the O’Driscoll Castles begin,” said Kate.
“They tell me they’re poor trifles compared wid ours.”

“I like to hear you say ‘ours,’” the young man broke in. “I want you
to keep right on remembering all the while that I belong to the family.
And--and I wish to heaven there was something I could do to show how
tickled to death I am that I do belong to it!”

“I have never been here before,” Kate said, in a musing tone, which
carried in it a gentle apology for abstraction. “I did not know there
was anything so big and splendid in the world.”

The spell of this mighty spectacle at once enchanted and oppressed her.
She stood gazing down upon it for some minutes, holding up her hand as
a plea for silence when her companion would have spoken. Then, with a
lingering sigh, she turned away and led the slow walk back toward the
lake.

“’Twas like dreaming,” she said with gravity; “and a strange thought
came to me: ’Twas that this lovely Ireland I looked down upon was
beautiful with the beauty of death; that ’twas the corpse of me
country I was taking a last view of. Don’t laugh at me! I had just that
feeling. Ah, poor, poor Ireland!”

Bernard saw tears glistening upon her long, black lashes, and scarcely
knew his own voice when he heard it, in such depths of melancholy was it
pitched.

“Better times are coming now,” he said. “If we open up the mines we are
counting on it ought to give work to at least two hundred men.”

She turned sharply upon him.

“Don’t talk like that!” she said, in half command, half entreaty. “’T
is not trade or work or mines that keeps a nation alive when ’tis fit
to die. One can have them all, and riches untold, and still sink wid a
broken heart. ’T is nearly three hundred years since the first of
the exiled O’Mahonys sailed away yonder--from Skull and Crookhaven they
wint--to fight and die in Spain. Thin others wint--Conagher and Domnal
and the rest--to fight and die in France; and so for centuries the
stream of life has flowed away from Ireland wid every other family the
same as wid ours. What nation under the sun could stand the drain? ’T
is twelve years now since the best and finest of them all sailed away to
fight in France, and to--to die--oh, _wirra!_--who knows where? So”--her
great eyes flashed proudly through their tears--“don’t talk of mines to
me! ’T is too much like the English!”

Bernard somehow felt himself grown much taller and older as he listened
to this outburst of passionate lamentation, with its whiplash end of
defiance, and realized that this beautiful girl was confiding it all to
him. He threw back his shoulders, and laid a hand gently on her arm.

“Come, come,” he pleaded, with a soothing drawl, “_don’t_ give away like
that! We’ll take a bite of something to eat, and get down again where
the grass grows. Why, you’ve no idea--the bottom of a coal-mine is
sociable and lively compared with this. I’d get the blues myself up
here, in another half-hour!”

A few steps were taken in silence, and then the young man spoke again,
with settled determination in his voice.

“You can say what you like,” he ground out between his teeth, “or,
rather, you needn’t say any more than you like; but I’ve got my own
idea about this convent business, and I don’t like it, and I don’t for
a minute believe that you like it. Mind, I’m not asking you to tell me
whether you do or not--only I want you to say just this: Count on me
as your friend--call it cousin, too, if you like; keep me in mind as a
fellow who’ll go to the whole length of the rope to help you, and break
the rope like a piece of paper twine if it’s necessary to go further.
That’s all.”

It is the property of these weird mountain-tops to make realities out of
the most unlikely things. On a lower terrestrial level Kate’s mind
might have seen nothing but fantastic absurdity in this proffer of
confidential friendship and succor, from a youth whom she met twice.
Here in the finer and more eager air, lifted up to be the companion of
clouds, the girl looked with grave frankness into his eyes and gave him
her hand in token of the bond.

Without further words, they rejoined John Fat, and sat down to lunch.

Indeed, there were few further words during the afternoon which John
Pat was not privileged to hear. He sat with them during the meal, in the
true democratic spirit of the sept relation, and he kept close behind
them on their rambling, leisurely descent of the mountain-side. From the
tenor of their talk he gathered vaguely that the strange young man
was some sort of relation from America, and as relations from America
present, perhaps, the one idea most universally familiar to the Irish
peasant’s mind, his curiosity was not aroused. Their conversation, for
the most part, was about that remarkable O’Mahony who had gone away
years ago and whom John Pat only dimly remembered.

*****

A couple of miles from Muirisc, the homeward-bound trio--for Bernard had
tacitly made himself a party to the entire expedition and felt as if
he, too, were going home--encountered, in the late afternoon, two men
sitting by the roadside ditch.

“Oh, there’s Jerry,” said Kate to her companion--“Mr. Higgins, I
mane--wan of my trustees. I’ll inthroduce you to him.”

Jerry’s demeanor, as the group approached him, bore momentary traces of
embarrassment. He looked at the man beside him, and then cast a backward
glance at the ditch, as if wishing that they were both safely
hidden behind its mask of stone wall and furze. But this was clearly
impossible; and the two stood up at an obvious suggestion from Jerry and
put as good a face upon their presence as possible.

“This is a relation of _moine_ from Ameriky, too,” said Jerry, after
some words had passed, indicating the tall, thin, shambling, spectacled
figure beside him, “Mr. Joseph Higgins, of--of--of--”

“Of Boston,” said the other, after an awkward pause.

He seemed ill at ease in his badly fitting clothes, and looked furtively
from one to another of the faces before him.

“An’ what d’ ye think, Miss Katie?” hurriedly continued Jerry. “Egor!
Be all the miracles of Moses, he’s possessed of more learnin’ about the
O’Mahonys than anny other man alive, Cormac O’Daly ’d be a fool to him.
An’, egor, he used to know _our_ O’Mahony whin he was in Ameriky, before
ever he came over to us!”

“Ye’re wrong, Jerry,” said Mr. Joseph Higgins, with cautious hesitation,
“I didn’t say I knew him. I said I knew of him. I was employed to search
for him, whin he was heir to the estate, unbeknownst to himself, an’ I
wint to the town where he’d kept a cobbler’s shop--Tecumsy was the name
of it--an’ I made inquiries for Hugh O’Mahony, but--”

“What’s that you say! Hugh O’Mahony--a shoemaker in Tecumseh, New York?”
 broke in young Bernard, with sharp, almost excited emphasis.

“’T is what I said,” responded the other, his pale face flushing
nervously, “only--only he’d gone to the war.”

“An’ that was _our_ O’Mahony,” explained Jerry.

“Glory be to God, he learned of the search made for him, an’ he came to
us afther the war.”

Bernard was not sure that he had got the twitching muscles of his face
under control, but at least he could manage his tongue.

“Oh, he came over here, did he?” he said, with a fair affectation of
polite interest.

“You spoke as if you knew him,” put in Kate, eagerly.

“My father knew him as well--as well as he knew himself,” answered
Bernard, with evasion, and then bit his lip in fear that he had said too
much.



CHAPTER XXII--THE INTELLIGENT YOUNG MAN.

Within the next few days the people of Muirisc found themselves
becoming familiar with the spectacle of two strange figures walking
about among their narrow, twisted streets or across the open space of
common between the castle and the quay. The sight of new-comers
was still unusual enough in Muirisc to disturb the minds of the
inhabitants--but since the mines had been opened in the district the
old-time seclusion had never quite come back, and it was uneasily felt
that in the lapse of years even a hotel might come to be necessary.

One of these strangers, a rickety, spindling, weirdeyed man in
spectacles, was known to be a cousin of Jerry Higgins, from America. The
story went that he was a great scholar, peculiarly learned in ancient
Irish matters. Muirisc took this for granted all the more readily
because he seemed not to know anything else--and watched his shambling
progress through the village streets by Jerry’s side with something of
the affectionate pity which the Irish peasant finds always in his heart
for the being he describes as a “nathural”.

The other new-comer answered vastly better to Muirisc’s conceptions of
what a man from America should be like. He was young, fresh-faced and
elastic of step--with square shoulders, a lithe, vigorous frame and eyes
which looked with frank and cheerful shrewdness at all men and things.
He outdid even the most communicative of Muirisc’s old white-capped
women in polite salutations to passers-by on the highway, and he was
amiably untiring in his efforts to lure with pennies into friendly
converse the wild little girls of Muirisc, who watched him with
twinkling, squirrels’ eyes from under their shawls, and whisked off like
so many coveys of partridges, at his near approach; the little boys,
with the stronger sense of their sex, invariably took his pennies, but
no more than their sisters could they be induced to talk.

There was a delightful absence of reserve in this young man from
America. Muirisc seemed to know everything about him all at once. His
name was O’Mahony, and his father had been a County-Cork man; he was a
mining engineer, and had been brought over to Europe by a mining company
as an expert in copper-ores and the refining of barytes; he was living
at Goleen, but liked Muirisc much better, both from a miner, a logical
point of view and socially; he was reckless in the expenditure of money
on the cars from Goleen and back and on the hire of boatmen at Muirisc;
he was filled to the top and running over with funny stories, he was
a good Catholic, he took the acutest interest in all the personal
narratives of the older inhabitants, and was free with his tobacco;
truly a most admirable young man!

He had been about Muirisc and the immediate vicinity for a week or
so--breaking up an occasional rock with his hammer when he was sure
people were watching him, but more often lounging about in gossip on
the main street, or fishing in the harbor with a boatman who would
talk--when he made in a casual way the acquaintance of O’Daly.

The little old man, white-haired now, but with the blue-black shadows
of clean shaving still staining high up his jaws and sunken cheeks, had
come down the street, nodding briefly to such villagers as saluted
him, and carrying his hands clasped at the buttons on the back of his
long-tailed coat. He had heard rumors of this young miner from America,
and paused now on the outskirts of a group in front of the cobbler’s
shop, whom Bernard was entertaining with tales of giant salmon in the
waters of Lake Superior.

“Oh, this is Mr. O’Daly, I believe,” the young man had on the instant
interrupted his narrative to remark. “I’m glad to meet you, sir. I’d
been thinking of calling on you every day, but I know you’re a busy man,
and it’s only since yesterday that I’ve felt that I had real business
with you. My name’s O’Mahony, and I’m here for the South Desmond Barytes
Syndicate. Probably you know the name.”

The O’Daly found his wrinkled old paw being shaken warmly in the grasp
of this affable young man before he had had time to be astonished.

“O’Daly’s my name,” he said, hesitatingly. “And you have business with
me, you said?”

“I guess you’ll think so!” responded the other. “I’ve just got word from
my superiors in London to go ahead, and naturally you’re the first man I
want to talk with.” And then they linked arms.

“Well,” said the cobbler, as they watched the receding figures of the
pair, “my word, there’s more ways of killin’ a dog than chokin’ him wid
butter!”

An hour later, Bernard sat comfortably ensconced in the easiest chair
afforded by the living-room of the castle, with the infant O’Daly on his
knee and a trio of grown-up people listening in unaffected pleasure
to his sprightly talk. He had at the outset mistaken Mrs. O’Daly for a
married sister of Kate’s--an error which he managed on the instant
to emphasize by a gravely deliberate wink at Kate--and now held the
mother’s heart completely by his genial attentions to the babe. He had
set old O’Daly all aglow with eager interest by his eulogy of Muirisc’s
mineral wealth as against all other districts in West Carbery. And all
the time, through anecdote, business converse, exchange of theories on
the rearing and precocity of infants and bright-flowing chatter on every
subject tinder the sun, he had contrived to make Kate steadily
conscious that she was the true object of his visit. Now and again the
consciousness grew so vivid that she felt herself blushing over the
embroidered altar-cloth at which she worked, in the shadow between the
windows.

“Well, sir,” said Bernard, dandling the infant tenderly as he spoke, “I
don’t know what I wouldn’t give to be able, when I go back, to tell my
father how I’d seen the O’Mahony castles here, and all that, right on
the family’s old stamping-ground.”

“Yer father died, ye say, manny years ago?” remarked O’Daly.

“Sure, ‘manny’s not the word for it,” put in Mrs. O’Daly, with a
flattering smile. “He’s but a lad yet, for all he’s seen and done.”

“Nobody could grow old in such an air as this,” said the young man,
briskly. “You, yourself, bear witness to that, Mrs. O’Daly. Yes, my
father died when I was a youngster. We moved out West after the War--I
was a little shaver then--and he didn’t live long after that.”

“And would he be in the moines, too?” asked Cormac.

“No; in the leather business,” answered Bernard, without hesitation.
“To the end of his days, he was always counting on coming back here to
Ireland and seeing the home of the O’Mahonys again. To hear him
talk, you’d have thought there wasn’t another family in Ireland worth
mentioning.”

“’T was always that way wid thim O’Mahonys,” said O’Daly, throwing a
significant glance over his wife and step-daughter. “I can spake freely
to you, sir; for I’ll be bound ye favor yer mother’s side and ye were
not brought up among them; but bechune ourselves, there’s a dale o’
nonsinse talked about thim same O’Mahonys. Did you ever hear yer father
mintion an O’Daly?”

“Well--no--I can’t say I did,” answered the young man, bending his mind
to comprehension of what the old man might be driving at.

“There ye have it!” said Cormac, bringing his hand down with emphasis on
the table. “Sir, ’t is a hard thing to say, but the ingrathitude of
thim O’Mahonys just passes belafe. Sure, ’t was we that made thim.
What were they but poyrutts and robbers of the earth, wid no since but
for raids an’ incursions, an’ burnin’ down abbeys an’ holy houses, and
makin’ war on their neighbors. An’ sure, ’t was we civilized ’em, we
O’Dalys, that they trate now as not fit to lace up their shoes. ’T
was we taught thim O’Mahonys to rade an’ write, an’ everything else
they knew in learnin’ and politeness. An’ so far as that last-mintioned
commodity goes”--this with a still more meaning, sidelong glance toward
the women--“faith, a dale of our labor was wasted intoirely.”

Even if Kate would have taken up the challenge, the young man gave her
no time.

“Oh, of course,” he broke in, “I’ve heard of the O’Dalys all my life.
Everybody knows about _them!_”

“Luk at that now!” exclaimed Cormac, in high triumph. “Sure, ’t is
Ameriky’ll set all of us right, an’ keep the old learning up. Ye’ll
have heard, sir, of Cuchonnacht O’Daly, called _‘na Sgoile_, or ‘of the
school’--”

“What, old Cocoanut!” cried Bernard, with vivacity, “I should think so!”

“’T was he was our founder,” pursued Cormac, excitedly. “An’ after him
came eight-an’-twinty descindants, all the chief bards of Ireland.
An’ in comparatively late toimes they had a school at Drumnea, in
Kilcrohane, where the sons of the kings of Spain came for their complate
eddication, an’ the princes doid there, an’ are buried there in our
family vault--sure the ruins of the college remain to this day--”

“You don’t mean to say you’re one of _that_ family, Mr. O’Daly?” asked
Bernard, with eagerness.

“’T is my belafe I’m the head of it,” responded Cormac, with lofty
simplicity. “I’m an old man, sir, an’ of an humble nature, an’ I’d not
be takin’ honors on meself. But whin that bye there--that bye ye howld
on yer knee--grows up, an’ he the owner of Muirisc an’ its moines an’
the fishin’, wid all his eddication an’ foine advantages--sure, if it
pl’ases him to asshume the dignity of _The_ O’Daly, an’ putt the grand
old family wance more where it belongs, I’m thinkin’ me bones ’ll rest
the aiser in their grave.”

Bernard looked down with an abstracted air at the unpleasantly narrow
skull of the child on his knee, with its big ears and thin, plastered
ringlets that suggested a whimsical baby-caricature of the mother’s
crimps. He heard Kate rise behind him, walk across the floor and leave
the room with an emphatic closing of the door. To be frank, the impulse
burned hotly within him to cuff the infantile head of this future chief
of the O’Dalys.

“I’ve a pome on the subject, which I composed last Aister Monday,”
 O’Daly went on, “which I’d be deloighted to rade to ye.”

“Unfortunately I must be hurrying along now,” said Bernard, rising on
the instant, and depositing the child on the floor. “I’m sorry, sir,
but--”

“Sure, ’t is you do be droivin’ everybody from the house wid yer
pomes,” commented Mrs. O’Daly, ungenerously.

“Oh, no, I assure you!” protested the young man. “I’ve often heard of
Mr. O’Daly’s verses, and very soon now I’m coming to get him to read
them all to me. Have you got some about Cocoanut, Mr. O’Daly?”

“This particular one,” said Cormac, doggedly, “trates of a much later
period. Indeed, ’t is so late that it hasn’t happened at all yit. ’T is
laid in futurity, sir, an’ dales wid the grand career me son is to have
whin he takes his proud position as _The_ O’Daly, the proide of West
Carbery.”

“Well, now, you’ve got to read me that the very first thing when I come
next time,” said Bernard. Then he added, with a smile: “For, you know, I
want you to let me come again.”

“Sir, ye can’t come too soon or stop too long,” Mrs. O’Daly assured him.
“Sure, what wid there bein’ no railway to Muirisc an’ no gintry near by,
an’ what wid the dale we hear about the O’Dalys an’ their supayriority
over the O’Mahonys, an’ thim pomes, my word, we do be starvin’ for the
soight of a new face!”

“Then I can’t be too glad that my face _is_ new,” promptly put in
Bernard, wreathing the countenance in question with beaming amiability.
“And in a few days I shall want to talk business with Mr. O’Daly, too,
about the mining rights we shall need to take up.”

“Ye’ll be welcome always,” said O’Daly.

And with that comforting pledge in his ears, the young man shook hands
with the couple and made his way out of the room.

“Don’t trouble yourselves to come out,” he begged. “I feel already at
home all over the house.”

“Now that’s a young man of sinse,” said the O’Daly, after the door had
closed behind their visitor. “’T is not manny ye’ll foind nowadays wid
such intelligince insoide his head.”

“Nor so comely a face on the outside of it,” commented his wife.

*****

At the end of the hallway this intelligent young man was not surprised
to encounter Kate, and she made no pretense of not having waited for
him. Yet, as he approached, she moved to pass by.

“’T is althered opinions you hold about the O’Mahonys and the
O’Dalys,” she said, with studied coldness and a haughty carriage of her
dark head.

He caught her sleeve as she would have passed him.

“See here,” he whispered, eagerly, “don’t you make a goose of yourself.
I’ve told more lies and acted more lies generally this afternoon for
_you_ than I would for all the other women on earth boiled together.
Sh-h! Just you keep mum, and we’ll see you through this thing slick and
clean.”

“I want no lies told for me, or acted either,” retorted Kate.

Her tone was proud enough still, but the lines of her face were
relenting.

“No, I don’t suppose for a minute you do,” he murmured back, still
holding her sleeve, and with his other hand on the latch. “You’re too
near an angel for that. I tell you what: Suppose you just start in and
do as much praying as you can, to kind o’ balance the thing. It’ll
all be needed; for as far as I can see now, I’ve got some regular old
whoppers to come yet.”

Then the young man released the sleeve, snatched up the hand at the end
of that sleeve, kissed it, and was gone before Kate could say another
word.

When she had thought it all over, through hours of seclusion in her
room, she was still very much at sea as to what that word would have
been had time been afforded her in which to utter it.



CHAPTER XXIII--THE COUNCIL OF WAR.

Having left the castle, Bernard walked briskly away across the open
square, past the quay and along the curling stretch of sands which led
to the path under the cliffs. He had taken the hammer from his pocket
and swung it as he strode onward, whistling as he went.

A mile or so along the strand, he turned off at a footway leading up the
rocks, and climbed this nimbly to the top, gaining which, he began to
scan closely the broad expanse of dun-colored bog-plain which dipped
gradually toward Mount Gabriel. His search was not protracted. He had
made out the figures he sought, and straightway set out over the bog,
with a light, springing step, still timed to a whistled marching tune,
toward them.

“Well, I’ve treed the coon!” was his remark when he had joined Jerry and
Linsky. “It was worth waiting for a week just to catch him like that,
with his guard down. Wait a minute, then I can be sure of what I’m
talking about.”

The others had not invited this adjuration by any overt display of
impatience, and they watched the young man now take an envelope from
his pocket and work out a sum on its back with a pencil in placid if
open-eyed contentment. They both studied him, in fact, much as their
grandfathers might have gazed at the learned pig at a fair--as a being
with resources and accomplishments quite beyond the laborious necessity
of comprehension.

He finished his ciphering, and gave them, in terse summary, the benefit
of it.

“The way I figure the thing,” he said, with his eye on the envelope,
“is this: The mines were going all right when your man went away,
twelve years ago. The output then was worth, say, eight thousand pounds
sterling a year. Since then it has once or twice gone as high at twenty
thousand pounds, and once it’s been down to eleven thousand pouunds.
From all I can gather the average ought to have been, say, fourteen
thousand pounds. The mining tenants hold on the usual thirty-one-year
lease, paying fifty pounds a year to begin with, and then one-sixteenth
on the gross sales. There is a provision of a maximum surface-drainage
charge of two pounds an acre, but there’s nothing in that. On my
average, the whole royalties would be nine hundred and twenty-five
pounds a year. That, in twelve years, would be eleven thousand pounds. I
think, myself, that it’s a good deal more; but that’ll do as a starter.
And you say O’Daly’s been sending the boss two hundred pounds a year?”

“At laste for tin years--not for the last two,” said Jerry.

“Very well, then; you’ve got nine thousand pounds. The interest on that
for two years alone would make up all he sent away.”

“An’ ’t is your idea that O’Daly has putt by all that money?”

“And half as much more; and not a cent of it all belongs to him.”

“Thrue for you; ’t is Miss Katie’s money,” mourned Jerry, shaking his
curly red head and disturbing his fat breast with a prolonged sigh. “But
she’ll never lay finger to anny of it. Oh, Cormac, you’re the divil!”

The young man sniffed impatiently.

“That’s the worst of you fellows,” he said, sharply. “You take fright
like a flock of sheep. What the deuce are you afraid of? No wonder
Ireland isn’t free, with men who have got to sit down and cry every
few minutes!” Then the spectacle of pained surprise on Jerry’s fat
face drove away his mood of criticism. “Or no; I don’t mean that,”
 he hastened to add; “but really, there’s no earthly reason why O’Daly
shouldn’t be brought to book. There’s law here for that sort of thing as
much as there is anywhere else.”

“’T was Miss Katie’s own words that I’d be a fool to thry to putt the
law on Cormac O’Daly, an’ him an attorney,” explained Jerry, in defiant
self-defense.

“Perhaps that’s true about _your_ putting the law on him,” Bernard
permitted himself to say. “But you’re a trustee, you tell me, as much
as he is, and others can act for you and force him to give his accounts.
That can be done upon your trust-deed.”

“Me paper, is it?”

“Yes, the one the boss gave you.”

“Egor! O’Daly has it. He begged me for it, to keep ’em together. If
I’d ask him for it, belike he’d refuse me. You’ve no knowledge of the
characther of that same O’Daly.”

For just a moment the young man turned away, his face clouded with the
shadows of a baffled mind. Then he looked Jerry straight in the eye.

“See here,” he said, “you trust me, don’t you? You believe that I want
to act square by you and help you in this thing?”

“I do, sir,” said Jerry, simply.

“Well, then, I tell you that O’Daly _can_ be made to show up, and the
whole affair can be set straight, and the young lady--my cousin--_can_
be put into her own again. Only I can’t work in the dark. I can’t play
with a partner that ‘finesses’ against me, as a whist-player would say.
Now, who is this man here? I know he isn’t your cousin any more than he
is mine. What’s his game?”

Linsky took the words out of his puzzled companion’s mouth.

“’T is a long story, sir,” he said, “an’ you’d be no wiser if you were
told it. Some time, plase God, you’ll know it all. Just now’t is enough
that I’m bound to this man and to The O’Mahony, who’s away, an’ perhaps
dead an’ buried, an’ I’m heart an’ sowl for doin’ whatever I can to help
the young lady. Only, if you’ll not moind me sayin’ so, she’s her own
worst inemy. If she takes the bit in her mouth this way, an’ will go
into the convint, how, in the name of glory, are we to stop her or do
anything else?”

“There are more than fifteen hundred ways of working _that_” replied
the young man from Houghton County, simulating a confidence he did not
wholly feel. “But let’s get along down toward the village.”

They entered Muirisc through the ancient convent churchyard, and at
his door-way Jerry, as the visible result of much cogitation, asked the
twain in. After offering them glasses of whiskey and water and lighting
a pipe, Jerry suddenly resolved upon a further extension of confidence.
To Linsky’s astonishment, he took the lantern down from the wall,
lighted it, and opened the door at the back of the bed.

“If you’ll come along wid us, sir,” he said to Bernard, “we’ll show you
something.”

“There, here we can talk at our aise,” he remarked again, when finally
the three men were in the subterranean chamber, with the door closed
behind them. “Have you anything like _this_ in Ameriky?”

Bernard was not so greatly impressed as they expected him to be. He
stolled about the vault-like room, sounding the walls with his boot,
pulling-aside the bed-curtains and investigating the drain.

“Curious old place,” he said, at last. “What’s the idea?”

“Sure, ’t is a sacret place intoirely,” explained Jerry. “Besides us
three, there’s not a man aloive who knows of it, exceptin’ The O’Mahony,
if be God’s grace he’s aloive. ’T was he discovered it. He’d the eyes
of a him-harrier for anny mark or sign in a wall. Well do I remimber our
coming here first. He lukked it all over, as you’re doing.

“‘Egor!’ says he, ‘It may come in handy for O’Daly some day.’ There was
a dead man there on the bed, that dry ye c’u’d ’a’ loighted him wid a
match.”

“’T is a part of the convint,” Linsky took up the explanation, “an’
the chest, there, was full of deeds an’ riccorcls of the convint for
manny cinturies. ‘T was me work for years to decipher an’ thranslate
thim, unbeknownst to every soul in Muirisc. They were all in Irish.”

“Yes, it’s a queer sort of hole,” said Bernard, musingly, walking
over to the table and holding up one of the ancient manuscripts to the
lamplight for investigation. “Why, this isn’t Irish, is it?” he asked,
after a moment’s scrutiny. “This is Latin.”

“’T is wan of half a dozen ye see there on the table that I couldn’t
make out,” said Linsky. “I’m no Latin scholar meself. ’T was me
intintion to foind some one outside who c’u’d thranslate thim.” Bernard
had kept his eyes on the faded parchment.

“Odd!” he said. “It’s from a bishop--Matthew O’Finn seems to be the
name--”

“He was bishop of Ross in the early part of the fourteenth cintury,” put
in Linsky.

“And this thing is a warning to the nuns here to close up their convent
and take in no more novices, because the church can’t recognize them or
their order. It’s queer old Latin, but that’s what I make it out to be.”

“’T is an illegant scholar ye are, sir!” exclaimed Jerry, in honest
admiration.

“No,” said Bernard; “only they started me in for a priest, and I got to
know Latin as well as I did English, or almost. But my godliness
wasn’t anywhere near high-water mark, and so I got switched off into
engineering. I dare say the change was a good thing all around. If
it’s all the same to you,” he added, turning to Linsky, “I’ll put this
parchment in my pocket for the time being, I want to look it over again
more carefully. You shall have it back.”

The two Irishmen assented as a matter of course. This active-minded
and capable young man, who had mining figures at his finger’s ends, and
could read Latin, and talked lightly of fifteen hundred ways to outwit
O’Daly, was obviously one to be obeyed without questions. They sat now
and watched him with rapt eyes and acquiescent nods as he, seated on the
table with foot on knee, recounted to them the more salient points of
his interview with O’Daly.

“He was a dacent ould man when I knew him first,” mused Jerry, in
comment, “an’ as full of praises for the O’Mahonys as an egg is of mate.
’T is the money that althered him; an’ thin that brat of a bye of his!
’T is since thin that he behaved like a nagur. An ’t is my belafe,
sir, that only for him Miss Katie’d never have dr’amed of interin’ that
thunderin’ old convint. The very last toime I was wid him, egor, he
druv us both from the house. ’T was the nuns made Miss Katie return
to him next day. ’T is just that, sir, that she’s no one else bechune
thim nuns an’ O’Daly, an’ they do be tossin’ her from wan to the other
of ’em like a blessid ball.”

“The wonder is to me she’s stood it for a minute,” said Bernard; “a
proud girl like her.”

“Ah, sir,” said Jerry, “it isn’t like in Ameriky, where every wan’s free
to do what phases him. What was the girl to do? Where was she to go if
she defied thim that was in authority over her? ’T is aisy to talk,
as manny’s the toime she’s said that same to me; but ’t is another
matther to _do!_”

“There’s the whole trouble in a nutshell,” said Bernard. “Everybody
talks and nobody does anything.”

“There’s truth in that sir,” put in Linsky; “but what are _you_
proposin’ to do? There were fifteen hundred ways, you said. What’s wan
of ’em?”

“Oh, there are fifteen hundred and two now,” responded Bernard, with
a smile. “You’ve helped me to two more since I’ve been down here--or,
rather, this missing O’Mahony of yours has helped me to one, and I
helped myself to the other.”

The two stared in helpless bewilderment at the young man.

“That O’Mahony seems to have been a right smart chap,” Bernard
continued. “No wonder he made things hum here in Muirisc. And a prophet
too. Why, the very first time he ever laid eyes on this cave here, by
your own telling, he saw just what it was going to be good for.”

“I don’t folly ye,” said the puzzled Jerry.

“Why, to put O’Daly in, of course,” answered the young man, lightly.
“That’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

“Egor! ’T is a grand idea that same!” exclaimed Jerry, slapping his
thigh. “Only,” he added, with a sinking enthusiasm, “suppose he wouldn’t
come?”

Bernard laughed outright.

“That’ll be easy enough. All you have to do is to send word you want
to see him in your place up stairs; when he comes, tell him there’s
a strange discovery you’ve made. Bring him down here, let him in, and
while he’s looking around him just slip out and shut the door on him. I
notice it’s got a spring-lock from the outside. A thoughtful man, that
O’Mahony! Of course, you’ll want to bring down enough food and water to
last a week or so, first; perhaps a little whiskey, too. And I’d carry
up all these papers, moreover, and put ’em in your room above. Until
the old man got quieted down, he might feel disposed to tear things.”

“Egor! I’ll do it!” cried Jerry, with sparkling eyes and a grin on his
broad face. “Oh, the art of man!”

The pallid and near-sighted Linsky was less alive to the value of this
bold plan.

“An’ what’ll ye do nixt?” he asked, doubtfully.

“I’ve got a scheme which I’ll carry out to-morrow, by myself,” said
Bernard. “It’ll take me all day; and by the time I turn up the day
after, you must have O’Daly safely bottled up down here. Then I’ll be
in a position to read the riot act to everybody. First we’ll stand the
convent on its head, and then I’ll come down here and have a little
confidential talk with O’Daly about going to prison as a fraudulent
trustee.”

“Sir, you’re well-named ‘O’Mahony,’” said Jerry, with beaming
earnestness, “I do be almost believin’ ye’re _his_ son!”

Bernard chuckled as he sprang off the table to his feet.

“There might be even stranger things than that,” he said, and laughed
again.



CHAPTER XXIV--THE VICTORY OF THE “CATHACH.”

One day passed, and then another, and the evening of the third day drew
near--yet brought no returning Bernard. It is true that on the second
day a telegram--the first Jerry had ever received in his life--came
bearing the date of Cashel, and containing only the unsigned
injunction:

                   _“Don’t be afraid.”_

It is all very well to say this, but Jerry and Linsky read over the
brief message many scores of times that day, and still felt themselves
very much afraid.

Muirisc was stirred by unwonted excitement. In all its history,
the village had never resented anything else quite so much as the
establishment of a police barrack in its principal street, a dozen years
before. The inhabitants had long since grown accustomed to the sight
of the sergeant and his four men lounging about the place, and had even
admitted them to a kind of conditional friendship, but, none the less,
their presence had continued to present itself as an affront to Muirisc.
From one year’s end to another, no suspicion of crime had darkened the
peaceful fame of the hamlet. They had heard vague stories of grim and
violent deeds in other parts of the south and west, as the failure of
the potatoes and the greed of the landlords conspired together to
drive the peasantry into revolt, but in Muirisc, though she had had her
evictions and knew what it was to be hungry, it had occurred to no one
to so much as break a window.

Yet now, all at once, here were fresh constables brought in from Bantry,
with an inspector at their head, and the amazed villagers saw these
newcomers, with rifles slung over their short capes, and little round
caps cocked to one side on their close-cropped heads, ransacking every
nook and cranny of the ancient town in quest of some mysterious thing,
the while others spread their search over the ragged rocks and moorland
roundabout. And then the astounding report flew from mouth to mouth that
Father Jago had read in a Dublin paper that O’Daly was believed to have
been murdered.

Sure enough, now that they had thought of it, O’Daly had not been seen
for two or three days, but until this strange story came from without,
no one had given this a thought. He was often away, for days together,
on mining and other business, but it was said now that his wife, whom
Muirisc still thought of as Mrs. Fergus, had given the alarm, on the
ground that if her husband had been going away over night, he would
have told her. There was less liking for this lady than ever, when this
report started on its rounds.

Three or four of the wretched, unwashed and half-fed creatures, who had
fled from O’Daly’s evictions to the shelter of the furze-clad ditches
outside, had been brought in and sharply questioned at the barracks, on
this third day, but of what they had said the villagers knew nothing.
And, now, toward evening, the excited groups of gossiping neighbors
at the corners saw Jerry Higgins himself, with flushed face and
apprehensive eye, being led past with his shambling cousin toward
constabulary headquarters by a squad of armed policemen. Close upon
the heels of this amazing spectacle came the rumor--whence started, who
could tell?--that Jerry had during the day received a telegram clearly
implicating him in the crime, At this, Muirisc groaned aloud.

“’Tis wid you alone I want to spake,” said Kate, bluntly, to the
mother superior.

The April twilight was deepening the shadows in the corners of the
convent’s reception hall, and mellowing into a uniformity of ugliness
the faces of the four Misses O’Daly who sat on the long bench before the
fireless hearth. These young women were strangers to Muirisc, and had
but yesterday arrived from their country homes in Kerry or the Macroom
district to enter the convent of which their remote relation was
patron. They were plain, small-farmers’ daughters, with flat faces, high
cheek-bones and red hands. They had risen in clumsy humility when Kate
entered the room, staring in admiration at her beauty, and even more at
her hat; they had silently seated themselves again at a sign from the
mother superior, still staring in round-eyed wonder at this novel kind
of young woman; and they clung now stolidly to their bench, in the
face of Kate’s remark. Perhaps they did not comprehend it, But they
understood and obeyed the almost contemptuous gesture by which the aged
nun bade them leave the room.

“What is it thin, _Dubhdeasa?_” asked Mother Agnes, with affectionate
gravity, seating herself as she spoke. The burden of eighty years rested
lightly upon the lean figure and thin, wax-like face of the nun. Only a
close glance would have revealed the fine net-work of wrinkles covering
this pallid skin, and her shrewd observant eyes flashed still with the
keenness of youth. “Tell me, what is it?”

“I’ve a broken heart in me, that’s all!” said the girl.

She had walked to one of the two narrow little windows, and stood
looking out, yet seeing nothing for the mist of tears that might not
be kept down. Only the affectation of defiance preserved her voice from
breaking.

“Here there will be rest and p’ace of mind,” intoned the other. “’T
is only a day more, Katie, and thin ye’ll be wan of us, wid all the
worriments and throubles of the world lagues behind ye.”

The girl shook her head with vehemence and paced the stone floor
restlessly.

“’T is I who’ll be opening the dure to ’em and bringing ’em all in
here, instead. No fear, Mother Agnes, they’ll folly me wherever I go.”

The other smiled gently, and shook her vailed head in turn.

“’T is little a child like you drames of the rale throubles of me,”
 she murmured. “Whin ye’re older, ye’ll bless the good day that gave ye
this holy refuge, and saved ye from thim all. Oh, Katie, darlin’, when I
see you standing be me side in your habit--’t is mesilf had it made
be the Miss Maguires in Skibbereen, the same that sews the vestmints for
the bishop himself--I can lay me down, and say me _nunc dimittis_ wid a
thankful heart!”

Kate sighed deeply and turned away. It was the trusting sweetness of
affection with which old Mother Agnes had enveloped her ever since the
promise to take vows had been wrung from her reluctant tongue that rose
most effectually always to restrain her from reconsidering that promise.
It was clear enough that the venerable O’Mahony nuns found in the speedy
prospect of her joining them the one great controlling joy of their
lives. Thinking upon this now, it was natural enough for her to say:

“Can thim O’Daly girls rade and write, I wonder?”

“Oh, they’ve had schooling, all of them. ’T is not what you had here,
be anny manes, but ’t will do.”

“Just think, Mother Agnes,” Kate burst forth, “what it ‘ll be like to be
shut with such craytures as thim afther--afther you l’ave us!”

“They’re very humble,” said the nun, hesitatingly. “’T is more of that
same spirit I’d fain be seeing in yourself, Katie! And in that they’ve
small enough resimblance to Cormac O’Daly, who’s raked ’em up from
the highways and byways to make their profession here. And oh--tell me
now--old Ellen that brings the milk mintioned to Sister Blanaid that
O’Daly was gone somewhere, and that there was talk about it.”

“Talk, is it!” exclaimed Kate, whose introspective mood had driven this
subject from her mind, but who now spoke with eagerness. “That’s the
word for it, ‘talk.’ ’T is me mother, for pure want of something to
say, that putt the notion into Sergeant O’Flaherty’s thick skull, and,
w’u’d ye belave it, they’ve brought more poliss to the town, and they’re
worriting the loives out of the people wid questions and suspicions.
I’m told they’ve even gone out to the bog and arrested some of thim
poor wretches of O’Driscolls that Cormac putt out of their cottages last
winter. The idea of it!”

“Where there’s so much smoke there’s some bit of fire,” said the older
woman. “Where _is_ O’Daly?” The girl shrugged her shoulders.

“’T is not my affair!” she said, curtly. “I know where he’d be, if I’d
my will.”

“Katie,” chanted the nun, in tender reproof, “what spirit d’ye call that
for a woman who’s within four-an’-twinty hours of making her profession!
Pray for yourself, child, that these worldly feelings may be taken from
ye!”

“Mother Agnes,” said the girl, “if I’m to pretind to love Cormac O’Daly,
thin, wance for all, ’t is no use!”

“We’re bidden to love all thim that despite--” The nun broke off her
quotation abruptly. A low wailing sound from the bowels of the earth
beneath them rose through the flags of the floor, and filled the chamber
with a wierd and ghostly dying away echo. Mother Agnes sprang to her
feet.

“’T is the Hostage again!” she cried. “Sister Ellen vowed to me she
heard him through the night. Did _you_ hear him just now?”

“I heard _it_,” said Kate, simply.

The mother superior, upon reflection, seated herself again.

“’T is a strange business,” she said, at last. Her shrewd eyes,
wandering in a meditative gaze about the chamber, avoided Katie’s face.
“’T is twelve years since last we heard him,” she mused aloud, “and
that was the night of the storm. ’T is a sign of misfortune to hear
him, they say--and the blowing down of the walls that toime was taken
be us to fulfill that same. But sure, within the week, The O’Mahoney had
gone on his thravels, and pious Cormac O’Daly had taken his place,
and the convint prospered more than ever. At laste _that_ was no
misfortune.”

“Hark to me, Mother Agnes,” said Kate, with emphasis. “You never used to
favor the O’Mahonys as well I remimber, but you’re a fair-minded woman
and a holy woman, and I challenge ye now to tell me honest: Wasn’t
anny wan hair on The O’Mahony’s head worth the whole carcase of Cormac
O’Daly? ’T was an evil day for Muirisc whin he sailed away. If the
convint has prospered, me word, ’t is what nothing else in Muirisc has
done. And laving aside your office as a nun, is it sp’akin well for a
place to say that three old women in it are better off, and all the rist
have suffered?”

“Katie!” admonished the other. “You’ll repint thim words a week hence!
To hearken to ye, wan would think yer heart was not in the profession
ye’re to make.”

The girl gave a scornful, little laugh.

“Did I ever pretind it was?” she demanded.

“’T is you are the contrary crayture!” sighed the mother superior.
“Here now for all these cinturies, through all the storms and wars and
confiscations, this holy house has stud firm be the old faith. There
’s not another family in Ireland has kept the mass in its own chapel,
wid its own nuns kneeling before it, and never a break or interruption
at all. I’ll l’ave it to yer own sinse: Can ye compare the prosperity
of a little village, or a hundred of ’em, wid such a glorious and
unayqualed riccord as that? Why, girl, ’t is you should be proud
beyond measure and thankful that ye’re born and bred and selected
to carry on such a grand tradition. To be head of the convint of
the O’Mahonys ’t is more historically splindid than to be queen of
England.”

“But if I come to be the head at all,” retorted Kate, “sure it will be a
convint of O’Dalys.”

The venerable woman heaved another sigh and looked at the floor in
silence.

Kate pursued her advantage eagerly.

“Sure, I’ve me full share of pride in proper things,” she said, “and no
O’Mahony of them all held his family higher in his mind than I do.
And me blood lapes to every word you say about that same. But would
_you_--Agnes O’Mahony as ye were born--would you be asking me to have
pride in the O’Dalys? And that ’s what ’t is intinded to make of the
convint now. For my part, I’d be for saying: ‘L’ave the convint doy now
wid the last of the ladies of our own family rather than keep it alive
at the expinse of giving it to the O’Dalys.’”

Mother Agnes shook her head.

“I’ve me carnal feelings no less than you,” she said, “and me family
pride to subdue. But even if the victory of humility were denied me,
what c’u’d we do? For the moment, I’ll put this holy house to wan
side. What can _you_ do? How can you stand up forninst Cormac O’Daly’s
determination? Remimber, widout him ye’re but a homeless gerrel, Katie.”

“And whose fault is that, Mother Agnes?” asked Kate, with swift glance
and tone. “Will ye be telling me ’t was The O’Mahony’s? Did he l’ave
me widout a four-penny bit, depindent on others, or was it that others
stole me money and desaved me, and to-day are keeping me out of me own?
Tell me that, Mother Agnes.”

The nun’s ivory-tinted face flushed for an instant, then took on a
deeper pallor. Her gaze, lifted momentarily toward Kate, strayed beyond
her to vacancy. She rose to her full height and made a forward step,
then stood, fumbling confusedly at her beads, and with trembling,
half-opened lips.

“’T is not in me power,” she stammered, slowly and with difficulty.
“There--there _was_ something--I’ve not thought of it for so long--I’m
forgetting strangely--”

She broke off abruptly, threw up her withered hands in a gesture of
despair, and then, never looking at the girl, turned and with bowed head
left the room.

Kate still stood staring in mingled amazement and apprehension at the
arched casement through which Mother Agnes had vanished, when the oak
door was pushed open again, and Sister Blanaid, a smaller and younger
woman, yet bent and half-palsied under the weight of years, showed
herself in the aperture. She bore in her arms, shoving the door aside
with it as she feebly advanced, a square wooden box, dust-begrimed and
covered in part with reddish cow-skin.

“Take it away!” she mumbled. “’T is the mother-supayrior’s desire you
should take it from here. ’T is an evil day that’s on us! Go fling
this haythen box into the bay and thin pray for yourself and for her,
who’s taken that grief for ye she’s at death’s door!”

The door closed again, and Kate found herself mechanically bearing this
box in her arms and making her way out through the darkened hallways to
the outer air. Only when she stood on the steps of the porch, and set
down her burden to adjust her hat, did she recognize it. Then, with a
murmuring cry of delight, she stooped and snatched it up again. It was
the _cathach_ which The O’Mahony had given her to keep.

On the instant, as she looked out across the open green upon the harbor,
the bay, the distant peninsula of Kilcrohane peacefully gathering to
itself the shadows of the falling twilight--how it all came back to
her! On the day of his departure--that memorable black-letter day in her
life--he had turned over this rude little chest to her; he had told her
it was his luck, his talisman, and now should be hers. She had carried
it, not to her mother’s home, but to the tiny school-room in the old
convent, for safekeeping. She recalled now that she had told the nuns,
or Mother Agnes, at least, what it was. But then--then there came a
blank in her memory. She could not force her mind to remember when she
ceased to think about it--when it made its way into the lumber-room
where it had apparently lain so long.

But, at all events, she had it now again. She bent her head to touch
with her lips one of the rough strips of skin nailed irregularly upon
it; then, with a shining face, bearing the box, like some sanctified
shrine, against her breast, she moved across the village-common toward
the wharf and the water.

The injunction of quavering old Blanaid to cast it into the bay drifted
uppermost in her thoughts, and she smiled to herself. She had been
bidden, also, to pray; and reflection upon this chased the smile away.
Truly, there was need for prayer. Her perplexed mind called up, one by
one, in disheartening array, the miseries of her position, and drew new
unhappiness from the confusion of right and wrong which they presented.
How could she pray to be delivered from what Mother Agnes held up as the
duties of piety? And, on the other hand, what sincerity could there be
in any other kind of spiritual petition?

She wandered along the shore-sands under the cliffs, the box tightly
clasped in her arms, her eyes musingly bent upon the brown reaches of
drenched seaweed which lay at play with the receding tide.

Her mind conjured up the image of a smiling and ruddy young face,
sun-burned and thatched with crisp, curly brown hair--the face of that
curious young O’Mahony from Houghton County. His blue eye looked at her
half quizzically, half beseeching, but Kate resolutely drove the image
away. He was only the merest trifle less mortal than the others.

So musing, she strolled onward. Suddenly she stopped, and lifted her
head triumphantly; the smile had flashed forth again upon her face, and
the dark eyes were all aglow. A thought had come to her--so convincing,
so unanswerable, so joyously uplifting, that she paused to marvel at
having been blind to it so long. Clear as noon sunlight on Mount Gabriel
was it what she should pray for.

What _could_ it ever have been, this one crowning object of prayer, but
the return of The O’Mahony?

As her mental vision adapted itself to the radiance of this revelation,
the abstracted glance which she had allowed to wander over the bay was
arrested by a concrete object. Two hundred yards from the water’s edge
a strange vessel had heaved to, and was casting anchor. Kate could hear
the chain rattling out from the capstan, even as she looked.

The sight sent all prayerful thoughts scurrying out of her head. The
presence of vessels of the size of the new-comer was in itself most
unusual at Muirisc. But Kate’s practiced eye noticed a strange novelty.
The craft, though thick of beam and ungainly in line, carried the
staight running bowsprit of a cutter, and in addition to its cutter
sheets had a jigger lug-sail. The girl watched these eccentric sails as
they were dropped and reefed, with a curious sense of having seen
them somewhere before--as if in a vision or some old picture-book of
childhood. Confused memories stirred within her as she gazed, and held
her mind in daydream captivity. A figure she seemed vaguely to know,
stood now at the gunwale.

The spell was rudely broken by a wild shout from the cliff close above
her. On the instant, amid a clatter of falling stones and a veritable
landslide of sand, rocks and turf, a human figure came rolling,
clambering and tumbling down the declivity, and ran toward her, its arms
stretched and waving with frantic gestures, and emitting inarticulate
cries and groans as it came.

The astonished girl instinctively raised the box in her hands, to use
it as a missile. But, lo, it was old Murphy who, half stumbling to his
knees at her feet, fiercely clutched her skirts, and pointed in a frenzy
of excitement seaward!

“Wid yer own eyes look at it--it, Miss Katie!” he screamed. “Ye can see
it yerself! It’s not dr’aming I am!”

“It’s drunk ye are instead, thin, Murphy,” said the girl, sharply,
though in great wonderment.

“Wid joy! Wid joy I’m drunk!” the old man shouted, dancing on the sands
and slippery sea-litter like one possessed, and whirling his arms about
his head.

“Murphy, man! What ails ye? In the name of the Lord--what--”

The browned, wild-eyed, ragged old madman had started at a headlong pace
across the wet waste of weeds, and plunged now through the breakers,
wading with long strides--knee-deep, then immersed to the waist. He
turned for an instant to shout back: “I’ll swim to him if I drown for
it! ’Tis the master come back!”

The girl fell to her knees on the sand, then reverently bowed her head
till it rested upon the box before her.



CHAPTER XXV--BERNARD’S GOOD CHEER.

Sorra a wink o’ sleep could I get the night,” groaned the wife of
O’Daly--Mrs. Fergus--“what with me man muthered, an’ me daughter
drowned, an’ me nerves that disthracted ’t was past the power of hot
dhrink to abate em.”

It was early morning in the reception hall of the convent. The old nuns
sat on their bench in a row, blinking in the bright light which poured
through the casement as they gazed at their visitor, and tortured their
unworldly wits over the news she brought. The young chaplain, Father
Jago, had come in from the mass, still wearing soutane and beretta. He
leaned his burly weight against the mantel, smiling inwardly at thoughts
of breakfast, but keeping his heavy face drawn in solemn lines to fit
these grievous tidings.

The mother superior sighed despairingly, and spoke in low, quavering
tones. “Here, too, no one sleeps a wink,” she said. “Ah, thin, ’t is
too much sorrow for us! By rayson of our years we’ve no stringth to bear
it.”

“Ah--sure--’t is different wid you,” remarked Mrs. Fergus. “You’ve no
proper notion of the m’aning of sleep. Faith, all your life you’ve been
wakened bechune naps by your prayer-bell. ’T is no throuble to you.
You’re accustomed to ’t. But wid me--if I’ve me rest broken, I’m
killed entirely. ’T is me nerves!”

“Ay, them nerves of yours--did I ever hear of ’em before?” put in
Mother Agnes, with a momentary gleam of carnal delight in combat on her
waxen face. Then sadness resumed its sway. “Aye, aye, Katie! Katie!” she
moaned, slowly shaking her vailed head. “Child of our prayers, daughter
of the White Foam, pride of the O’Mahonys, darlin’ of our hearts--what
ailed ye to l’ave us?”

The mother superior’s words quavered upward into a wail as they ended.
The sound awakened the ancestral “keening” instinct in the other aged
nuns, and stirred the thin blood in their veins. They broke forth in
weird lamentations.

“Her hair was the glory of Desmond, that weighty and that fine!” chanted
Sister Ellen. “Ah, wirra, wirra!”

“She had it from me,” said Mrs. Fergus, her hand straying instinctively
to her crimps. Her voice had caught the mourning infection: “Ah-hoo!
Katie Avourneen,” she wailed in vocal sympathy. “Come back to us,
darlint!”

“She’d the neck of the Swan of the Lake of Three Castles!” mumbled
Sister Blanaid. “’T was that same was said of Grace O’Sullivan--the
bride of The O’Mahony of Ballydivlin--an’ he was kilt on the strand
benayth the walls--an’ she lookin’ on wid her grand black eyes--”

“Is it floatin’ in the waves ye are, _ma creevin cno_--wid the fishes
surroundin’ ye?” sobbed Mrs. Fergus.

Sister Blanaid’s thick tongue took up the keening again. “’T was I
druv her out! ‘Go ’long wid ye,’ says I, ‘an’ t’row that haythen box o’
yours into the bay’--an’ she went and t’rew her purty self in instead;
woe an’ prosthration to this house!--an’ may the Lord--”

Father Jago at this took his elbow from the mantel and straightened
himself. “Whisht, now, aisy!” he said, in a tone of parental authority.
“There’s modheration in all things. Sure ye haven’t a scintilla
of evidence that there’s annyone dead at all. Where’s the sinse of
laminting a loss ye’re not sure of--and that, too, on an impty stomach?”

“Nevir bite or sup more will I take till I’ve tidings of her!’ said the
mother superior.

“The more rayson why I’ll not be waiting longer for ye now,” commented
the priest; and with this he left the room. As he closed the door behind
him, a grateful odor of frying bacon momentarily spread upon the air.
Mrs. Fergus sniffed it, and half rose from her seat; but the nuns clung
resolutely to their theme, and she sank back again.

“’T is my belafe,” Sister Ellen began, “that voice we heard, ’t is
from no Hostage at all--’t is the banshee of the O’Mahonys.”

The mother superior shook her head.

“Is it likely, thin, Ellen O’Mahony,” she queried, “that _our_ banshee
would be distressed for an O’Daly? Sure the grand noise was made whin
Cormac himself disappeared.”

“His marryin’ me--’t is clear enough that putt him in the family,” said
Mrs. Fergus. “’T would be flat injustice to me to ’ve my man go an’
never a keen raised for him. I’ll stand on me rights for that much Agnes
O’Mahony.”

“A fine confusion ye’d have of it, thin,” retorted the mother superior.
“The O’Dalys have their own banshee--she sat up her keen in Kilcrohane
these hundreds of years--and for ours to be meddlin’ because she’s
merely related by marriage--sure, ’t would not be endured.”

The dubious problem of a family banshee’s duties has never been
elucidated beyond this point, for on the instant there came a violent
ringing of the big bell outside, the hoarse clangor of which startled
the women into excited silence. A minute later, the white-capped lame
old woman-servant threw open the door.

A young man, with a ruddy, smiling face and a carriage of boyish
confidence, entered the room. He cast an inquiring glance over the
group. Then recognizing Mrs. Fergus, he gave a little exclamation of
pleasure, and advanced toward her with outstretched hand.

“Why, how do you do, Mrs. O’Daly?” he exclaimed, cordially shaking her
hand. “Pray keep your seat. I’m just playing in luck to find _you_ here.
Won’t you--eh---be kind enough to--eh--introduce me?”

“’T is a young gintleman from Ameriky, Mr. O’Mahony by name,” Mrs.
Fergus stammered, flushed with satisfaction in his remembrance, but
doubtful as to the attitude of the nuns.

The ladies of the Hostage’s Tears had drawn themselves into as much
dignified erectness as their age and infirmities permitted. They eyed
this amazing new-comer in mute surprise. Mother Agnes, after the
first shock at the invasion, nodded frostily in acknowledgment of his
respectful bow.

“Get around an’ spake to her in her north ear,” whispered Mrs. Fergus;
“she can’t hear ye in the other.”

Bernard had been long enough in West Carbery to comprehend her meaning.
In that strange old district there is no right or left, no front or
back--only points of the compass. A gesture from Mrs. Fergus helped him
now to guess where the north might lie in matters auricular.

“I didn’t stand on ceremony,” he said, laying his hat on the table and
drawing off his gloves. “I’ve driven over post-haste from Skibbereen
this morning--the car’s outside--and I rushed in here the first thing.
I--I hope sincerely that I’m in time.”

“‘In toime?’” the superior repeated, in a tone of annoyed mystification.
“That depinds entoirely, sir, on your own intintions. I’ve no
information, sir, as to either who you are or what you’re afther doing.”

“No, of course not,” said Bernard, in affable apology. “I ought to have
thought of that. I’ll explain things, ma’am, if you’ll permit me. As I
said, I’ve just raced over this morning from Skibbereen.”

Mother Agnes made a stately inclination of her vailed head.

“You had a grand morning for your drive,” she said.

“I didn’t notice,” the young man replied, with a frank smile. “I was too
busy thinking of something else. The truth is, I spent last evening with
the bishop.”

Again the mother superior bowed slightly.

“An estimable man,” she remarked, coldly.

“Oh, yes; nothing could have been friendlier,” pursued Bernard, “than
the way he treated me. And the day before that I was at Cashel, and had
a long talk with the archbishop. He’s a splendid old gentleman, too. Not
the least sign of airs or nonsense about him.”

Mother Agnes rose.

“I’m deloighted to learn that our higher clergy prodhuce so favorable an
impression upon you,” she said, gravely; “but, if you’ll excuse us, sir,
this is a house of mourning, and our hearts are heavy wid grief, and
we’re not in precisely the mood--”

Bernard spoke in an altered tone:

“Oh! I beg a thousand pardons! Mourning, did you say? May I ask--”

Mrs. Fergus answered his unspoken question.

“Don’t you know it, thin? ’T is me husband, Cormac O’Daly. Sure
he’s murdhered an’ his body’s nowhere to be found, an’ the poliss are
scourin’ all the counthry roundabout, an’ there’s a long account of ’t in
the _Freeman_ sint from Bantry, an’ more poliss have been dhrafted
into Muirisc, an’ they’ve arrested Jerry Higgins and that long-shanked,
shiverin’ _omadhaun_ of a cousin of his. ’T is known they had a
tellgram warnin’ thim not to be afraid--”

“Oh, by George! Well, this _is_ rich!”

The young man’s spontaneous exclamations brought the breathless
narrative of Mrs. Fergus to an abrupt stop. The women gazed at him in
stupefaction. His rosy and juvenile face had, at her first words, worn a
wondering and puzzled expression. Gradually, as she went on, a light
of comprehension had dawned in his eyes. Then he had broken in upon her
catalogue of woes with a broad grin on his face.

“Igad, this _is_ rich!” he repeated. He put his hands in his pockets,
withdrew them, and then took a few steps up and down the room, chuckling
deeply to himself.

The power of speech came first to Mother Agnes. “If ’t is to
insult our griefs you’ve come, young sir,” she began; “if that’s your
m’aning--”

“Bless your heart, madam!” Bernard protested. “I’d be the last man in
the world to dream of such a thing. I’ve too much respect. I’ve an aunt
who is a religious, myself. No, what I mean is it’s all a joke--that is,
a mistake. O’Daly isn’t dead at all.”

“What’s that you’re sayin’?” put in Mrs. Fergus, sharply. “Me man is
aloive, ye say?”

“Why, of course”--the youngster went off into a fresh fit of
chuckling--“of course, he is--alive and kicking. Yes, especially
kicking!”

“The Lord’s mercy on us!” said the mother superior. “And where would
Cormac be, thin!”

“Well, that’s another matter. I don’t know that I can tell you just
now; but, take my word for it, he’s as alive as I am, and he’s perfectly
safe, too.”

The astonished pause which followed was broken by the mumbling monologue
of poor half-palsied Sister Blanaid:

“I putt the box in her hands, an’ I says, says I: ‘Away wid ye, now, an’
t’row it into the say!’ An’ thin she wint.”

The other women exchanged startled glances. In their excitement they had
forgotten about Kate.

Before they could speak, Bernard, with a mystified glance at the
spluttering old lady, had taken up the subject of their frightened
thoughts.

“But what I came for,” he said, looking from one to the other, “what I
was specially in a stew about, was to get here before--before Miss
Kate had taken her vows. The ceremony was set down for to-day, as I
understand. Perhaps I’m wrong; but that’s why I asked if I was in time.”

“You _are_ in time,” answered Mother Agnes, solemnly.

Her sepulchral tone jarred upon the young man’s ear. Looking into
the speaker’s pallid, vail-framed face, he was troubled vaguely by a
strange, almost sinister significance in her glance.

“You’re in fine time,” the mother superior repeated, and bowed her head.

“Man alive!” Mrs. Fergus exclaimed, rising and leaning toward him.
“You’ve no sinse of what you’re saying. Me daughter’s gone, too!”

“‘Gone!’ How gone? What do you mean?” Bernard gazed in blank
astonishment into the vacuous face of Mrs. Fergus. Mechanically he
strode toward her and took her hand firmly in his.

“Where has she gone to?” he demanded, as his scattered wits came under
control again. “Do you mean that she’s run away? Can’t you speak?”

Mrs. Fergus, thus stoutly adjured, began to whimper:

“They sint her from here--’t was always harsh they were wid her--ye
heard Sister Blanaid yerself say they sint her--an’ out she wint to walk
under the cliffs--some byes of Peggy Clancy saw her go--an’ she never
came back through the long night--an’ me wid no wink o’ sleep--an’ me
nerves that bad!”

Overcome by her emotions, Mrs. Fergus, her hand still in Bernard’s
grasp, bent forward till her crimps rested on the young man’s shoulder.
She moved her forehead gingerly about till it seemed certain that the
ornaments were sustaining no injury. Then she gave her maternal feelings
full sway and sobbed with fervor against the coat of the young man from
Houghton County.

“Don’t cry, Mrs. O’Daly,” was all Bernard could think of to say.

The demonstration might perhaps have impressed him had he not perforce
looked over the weeping lady’s head straight into the face of the mother
superior. There he saw written such contemptuous incredulity that he
himself became conscious of skepticism.

“_Don’t_ take on so!” he urged, this time less gently, and strove to
disengage himself.

But Mrs. Fergus clung to his hand and resolutely buried her face against
his collar. Sister Ellen had risen to her feet beside Mother Agnes,
and he heard the two nuns sniff indignantly. Then he realized that the
situation was ridiculous.

“What is it you suspect?” he asked of the mother superior, eager to make
a diversion of some kind.

“You can’t be imagining that harm’s come to Miss Kate--that she ’s
drowned?”

“That same _was_ our belafe,” said Mother Agnes, glaring icily upon him
and his sobbing burden.

The inference clearly was that the spectacle before her affronted
eyes had been enough to overturn all previous convictions, of whatever
character.

Bernard hesitated no longer. He almost wrenched his hand free and then
firmly pushed Mrs. Fergus away.

“It’s all nonsense,” he said, assuming a confidence he did not wholly
feel. “She’s no more drowned than I am.”

“Faith, I had me fears for _you_, wid such a dale of tears let loose
upon ye,” remarked Mother Agnes, dryly.

The young man looked straight into the reverend countenance of the
superior and confided to it an audacious wink.

“I’ll be back in no time,” he said, taking up his hat. “Now don’t you
fret another bit. She’s all right. I know it. And I’ll go and find her.”
 And with that he was gone.

An ominous silence pervaded the reception hall. The two nuns, still
standing, stared with wrathful severity at Mrs. Fergus. She bore their
gaze with but an indifferent show of composure, patting her disordered
crimps with an awkward hand, and then moving aimlessly across the room.

“I’ll be going now, I’m thinking,” she said, at last, yet lingered in
spite of her words.

The nuns looked slowly at one another, and uttered not a word.

“Well, thin, ’t is small comfort I have, annyway, or consolation
either, from the lot of ye,” Mrs. Fergus felt impelled to remark,
drawing her shawl up on her head and walking toward the door. “An’ me
wid me throubles, an’ me nerves.”

“Is it consolation you’re afther?” retorted Mother Agnes, bitterly.
“I haven’t the proper kind of shoulder on me for _your_ variety of
consolation.”

“Thrue ye have it, Agnes O’Mahony,” Mrs. Fergus came back, with her
hand on the latch. “An’ by the same token, thim shoulders were small
consolation to you yourself, till you got your nun’s vail to hide
’em!”

When she had flounced her way out, the mother superior remained
standing, her gaze bent upon the floor.

“Sister Ellen,” she said at last, “me powers are failing me. ’T is
time I laid down me burden. For the first time in me life I was unayqual
to her impiddence.”



CHAPTER XXVI--THE RESIDENT MAGISTRATE


When Bernard O’Mahony found himself outside the convent gateway, he
paused to consider matters.

The warm spring sunlight so broadly enveloped the square in which he
stood, the shining white cottages and gray old walls behind him and the
harbor and pale-blue placid bay beyond, in its grateful radiance, that
it was not in nature to think gloomy thoughts. And nothing in the young
man’s own nature tended that way, either.

Yet as he stopped short, looked about him, and even took off his hat
to the better ponder the situation, he saw that it was even more
complicated than he had thought. His plan of campaign had rested upon
two bold strategic actions. He had deemed them extremely smart, at the
time of their invention. Both had been put into execution, and, lo, the
state of affairs was worse than ever!

The problem had been to thwart and overturn O’Daly and to prevent
Kate from entering the convent. These two objects were so intimately
connected and dependent one upon the other, that it had been impossible
to separate them in procedure. He had caused O’Daly to be immured
in secrecy in the underground cell, the while he went off to secure
episcopal interference in the convent’s plans. His journey had been
crowned with entire success. It had involved a trip to Cashel, it
is true, but he had obtained an order forbidding the ladies of the
Hostage’s Tears to add to their numbers. Returning in triumph with this
invincible weapon, he discovered now that O’Daly’s disappearance had
been placarded all over Ireland as a murder, that his two allies were in
custody as suspected assassins, and that--most puzzling and disturbing
feature of it all--Kate herself had vanished.

He did not attach a moment’s credence to the drowning theory. Daughters
of the Coast of White Foam did not get drowned. Nor was it likely that
other harm had befallen a girl so capable, so selfreliant, so thoroughly
at home in all the districts roundabout. Obviously she was in hiding
somewhere in the neighborhood. The question was where to look for her.
Or, would it be better to take up the other branch of the problem first?

His perplexed gaze, roaming vaguely over the broad space, was all at
once arrested by a gleam of flashing light in motion. Concentrating his
attention, he saw that it came from the polished barrel of a rifle borne
on the arm of a constable at the corner of the square. He put on his
hat and walked briskly over to this corner. The constable had gone,
and Bernard followed him up the narrow, winding little street to the
barracks.

As he walked, he noted knots of villagers clustered about the cottage
doors, evidently discussing some topic of popular concern. In the
roadway before the barracks were drawn up two outside cars. A policeman
in uniform occupied the driver’s seat on each, and a half-dozen others
lounged about in the sunshine by the gate-posts, their rifles slung over
their backs and their round, visorless caps cocked aggressively over
their ears. These gentry bent upon him a general scowl as he walked past
them and into the barracks.

A dapper, dark-faced, exquisitely dressed young gentleman, wearing
slate-tinted gloves and with a flower in his button-hole, stood in the
hall-way--two burly constables assisting him meanwhile to get into a
light, silk-lined top-coat.

“Come, you fool! Hold the sleeve lower down, can’t you!” this young
gentleman cried, testily, as Bernard entered. The two constables divided
the epithet between them humbly, and perfected their task.

“I want to see the officer in charge here,” said Bernard, prepared by
this for discourtesy.

The young gentleman glanced him over, and on the instant altered his
demeanor.

“I am Major Snaffle, the resident magistrate,” he said, with great
politeness. “I’ve only a minute to spare--I’m driving over to Bantry
with some prisoners--but if you’ll come this way--” and without further
words, he led the other into a room off the hall, the door of which the
two constables rushed to obsequiously open.

“I dare say those are the prisoners I have come to talk about,” remarked
Bernard, when the door had closed behind them. He noted that this was
the first comfortably furnished room he had seen in Ireland, as he took
the seat indicated by the major’s gesture.

Major Snaffle lifted his brows slightly at this, and fastened his bright
brown eyes in a keen, searching glance upon Bernard’s face.

“Hm-m!” he said. “You are an American, I perceive.”

“Yes--my name’s O’Mahony. I come from Michigan.”

At sound of this Milesian cognomen, the glance of the stipendiary grew
keener still, if possible, and the corners of his carefully trimmed
little mustache were drawn sharply down. There was less politeness in
the manner and tone of his next inquiry.

“Well--what is your business? What do you want to say about them?”

“First of all,” said Bernard, “let’s be sure we’re talking about the
same people. You’ve got two men under arrest here--Jerry Higgins of this
place, and a cousin of his from--from Boston, I think it is.”

The major nodded, and kept his sharp gaze on the other’s countenance
unabated.

“What of that?” he asked, now almost brusquety.

“Well, I only drove in this morning--I’m in the mining business,
myself--but I understand they’ve been arrested for the m---- that is, on
account of the disappearance of old Mr. O’Daly.”

The resident magistrate did not assent by so much as a word. “Well?
What’s that to you?” he queried, coldly.

“It’s this much to me,” Bernard retorted, not with entire good-temper,
“that O’Daly isn’t dead at all.”

Major Snaffle’s eyebrows went up still further, with a little jerk. He
hesitated for a moment, then said: “I hope you know the importance of
what you are saying. We don’y like to be fooled with.”

“The fooling has been done by these who started the story that he was
murdered,” remarked Bernard.

“One must always be prepared for that--at some stage of a case--among
these Irish,” said the resident magistrate. “I’ve only been in Ireland
two years, but I know their lying tricks as well as if I’d been born
among them. Service in India helps one to understand all the inferior
races.”

“I haven’t been here even two months,” said the young man from Houghton
County, “but so far as I can figure it out, the Irishmen who do the
bulk of the lying wear uniforms and monkey-caps like paper-collar boxes
perched over one ear. The police, I mean.”

“We won’t discuss _that_,” put in the major, peremptorily. “Do you know
where O’Daly is?”

“Yes, sir, I do,” answered Bernard.

“Where?”

“You wouldn’t know if I told you, but I’ll take you to the place--that
is, if you’ll let me talk to your prisoners first.”

Major Snaffle turned the proposition over in his mind. “Take me to the
place,” he commented at last; “that means that you’ve got him hidden
somewhere, I assume.”

Bernard looked into the shrewd, twinkling eyes with a new respect.
“That’s about the size of,” he assented.

“Hra-m! Yes. That makes a new offense of it, with _you_ as an accessory,
I take it--or ought I to say principal?”

Bernard was not at all dismayed by this shift in the situation.

“Call it what you like,” he answered. “See here, major,” he went on,
in a burst of confidence, “this whole thing’s got nothing to do with
politics or the potato crop or anything else that need concern you. It’s
purely a private family matter. In a day or two, it’ll be in such shape
that I can tell you all about it. For that matter, I could now, only
it’s such a deuce of a long story.”

The major thought again.

“All right,” he said. “You can see the prisoners in my presence, and
then I’ll give you a chance to produce O’Daly. I ought to warn you,
though, that it may be all used against you, later on.”

“I’m not afraid of that,” replied Bernard.

A minute later, he was following the resident magistrate up a winding
flight of narrow stone stairs, none too clean. A constable, with a bunch
of keys jingling in his hand, preceded them, and, at the top, threw open
a heavy, iron-cased door. The solitary window of the room they entered
had been so blocked with thick bars of metal that very little light came
through. Bernard, with some difficulty, made out two figures lying in
one corner on a heap of straw and old cast-off clothing.

“Get up! Here’s some one to see you!” called out the major, in the
same tone he had used to the constables while they were helping on the
overcoat.

Bernard, as he heard it, felt himself newly informed as to the spirit
in which India was governed. Perhaps it was necessary there; but it made
him grind his teeth to think of its use in Ireland.

The two figures scrambled to their feet, and Bernard shook hands with
both.

“Egor, sir, you’re a sight for sore eyes!” exclaimed Jerry, effusively,
wringing the visitor’s fingers in his fat clasp. “Are ye come to take us
out?”

“Yes, that’ll be easy enough,” said Bernard. “You got my telegram all
right?”

Major Snaffle took his tablets from a pocket, and made a minute on them
unobserved.

“I did--I did,” said Jerry, buoyantly. Then with a changed expression
he added, whispering: “An’ that same played the divil intirely. ’T was
for that they arrested us.”

“Don’t whisper!” interposed the resident magistrate, curtly.

“Egor! I’ll say nothing at all,” said Jerry, who seemed now for the
first time to consider the presence of the official.

“Yes--don’t be afraid,” Bernard urged, reassuringly. “It’s all right
now. Tell me, is O’Daly in the place we know of?”

“He is, thin! Egor, unless he’d wings on him, and dug his way up through
the sayling, like a blessed bat.”

“Did he make much fuss?”

“He did not--lastewise we didn’t stop to hear, He came down wid us aisy
as you plaze, an’ I unlocked the dure. ’T is a foine room,’ says I.
‘’T is that,’ says he. ‘Here’s whishky,’ says I. ‘I’d be lookin’ for
that wherever you were,’ says he, ‘even to the bowels of the earth.’
‘An’ why not?’ says I. ‘What is it the priest read to us, that it makes
a man’s face to shine wid oil?’ ‘A grand scholar ye are, Jerry,’ says
he--”

“Cut it short, Jerry!” interposed Bernard. “The main thing is you left
him there all right?”

“Well, thin, we did, sir, an’ no mistake.”

“My plan is, major,”--Bernard turned to the resident magistrate--“to
take my friend here, Jerry Higgins, with us, to the place I’ve been
speaking of. We’ll leave the other man here, as the editors say in my
country, as a ‘guarantee of good faith.’ The only point is that we three
must go alone. It wouldn’t do to take any constables with us. In fact,
there’s a secret about it, and I wouldn’t feel justified in giving it
away even to you, if it didn’t seem necessary. We simply confide it to
you.”

“You can’t confide anything to me,” said the resident magistrate.
“Understand clearly that I shall hold myself free to use everything I
see and learn, if the interests of justice seem to demand it.”

“Yes, but that isn’t going to happen,” responded Bernard. “The interests
of justice are all the other way, as you’ll see, later on. What I mean
is, if the case isn’t taken into court at all--as it won’t be--we can
trust you not to speak about this place.”

“Oh--in my private capacity--that is a different matter.”

“And you won’t be afraid to go alone with us?--it isn’t far from here,
but, mind, it is downright lonesome.”

Major Snaffle covered the two men--the burly, stout Irishman and the
lithe, erect, close-knit young American--with a comprehensive glance.
The points of his mustache trembled momentarily upward in the beginning
of a smile. “No--not the least bit afraid,” the dapper little gentleman
replied.

The constables at the outer door stood with their big red hands to their
caps, and saw with amazement the major, Bernard and Jerry pass them and
the cars, and go down the street abreast. The villagers, gathered about
the shop and cottage doors, watched the progress of the trio with even
greater surprise. It seemed now, though, that nothing was too marvelous
to happen in Muirisc. Some of them knew that the man with the flower in
his coat was the stipendary magistrate from Bantry, and, by some obscure
connection, this came to be interpreted throughout the village as
meaning that the bodies of both O’Daly and Miss Kate had been found. The
stories which were born of this understanding flatly contradicted one
another at every point as they flew about, but they made a good enough
basis for the old women of the hamlet to start keening upon afresh.

The three men, pausing now and again to make sure they were not
followed, went at a sharp pace around through the churchyard to the door
of Jerry’s abode, and entered it. The key and the lantern were found
hanging upon their accustomed pegs. Jerry lighted the candle, pushed
back the bed, and led the descent of the narrow, musty stairs through
the darkness. The major came last of all.

“I’ve only been down here once myself,” Bernard explained to him, over
his shoulder, as they made their stumbling way downward. “It seems the
place was discovered by accident, in the old Fenian days. I suppose the
convent used it in old times--they say there was a skeleton of a monk
found in it.”

“Whisht, now!” whispered Jerry, as, having passed through the long, low
corridor leading from the staircase, he came to a halt at the doorway.
“Maybe we’ll surproise him.”

He unlocked the door and flung it open. No sound of life came from
within.

“Come along out ‘o that, Cormac!” called Jerry, into the mildewed
blackness.

There was no answer.

Bernard almost pushed Jerry forward into the chamber, and, taking the
lantern from him, held it aloft as he moved about. He peered under the
table; he opened the great muniment chest; he pulled back the curtains
to scrutinize the bed. There was no sign of O’Daly anywhere.

“Saints be wid us!” gasped Jerry, crossing himself, “the divil’s flown
away wid his own!”

Bernard, from staring in astonishment into his confederate’s fat face,
let his glance wander to the major. That official had stepped over the
threshold of the chamber, and stood at one side of the open door. He
held a revolver in his gloved, right hand.

“Gentlemen,” he said, in a perfectly calm voice, “my father served in
Ireland in Fenian times, and an American-Irishman caught him in a trap,
gagged him with gun-rags, and generally made a fool of him. Such things
do not happen twice in any intelligent family. You will therefore walk
through this door, arm in arm, handing me the lantern as you pass, and
you will then go up the stairs six paces ahead of me. If either of you
attempts to do anything else, I will shoot him down like a dog.”



CHAPTER XXVII--THE RETURN OF THE O’MAHONY.

Bernard had never before had occasion to look into the small and
ominously black muzzle of a loaded revolver. An involuntary twitching
seized upon his muscles as he did so now, but his presence of mind did
not desert him.

“No! Don’t shoot!” he called out. The words shook as he uttered them,
and seemed to his nervously acute hearing to be crowded parts of a
single sound. “That’s rank foolishness!” he added, hurriedly. “There’s
no trick! Nobody dreams of touching you. I give you my word I’m more
astonished than you are!”

The major seemed to be somewhat impressed by the candor of the young
man’s tone. He did not lower the weapon, but he shifted his finger away
from the trigger.

“That may or may not be the case,” he said with a studious affectation
of calm in his voice. “At all events, you will at once do as I said.”

“But see here,” urged Bernard, “there’s an explanation to everything.
I’ll swear that old O’Daly was put in here by our friend here--Jerry
Higgins. That’s straight, isn’t it, Jerry?”

“It is, sir!” said Jerry, fervently, with eye askance on the revolver.

“And it’s evident enough that he couldn’t have got out by himself.”

“That he never did, sir.”

“Well, then--let’s figure. How many people know of this place?”

“There’s yoursilf,” responded Jerry, meditatively, “an’ mesilf an’
Linsky--me cousin, Joseph Higgins, I mane. That’s all, if ye l’ave
O’Daly out. An’ that’s what bothers me wits, who the divil _did_ l’ave
him out?”

“This cousin of yours, as you call him,” put in the resident
magistrate--“what did he mean by speaking of him as Linsky? No lying,
now.”

“Lying, is it, your honor? ’T is aisy to see you’re a stranger in
these parts, to spake that word to me. Egor, ’t is me truth-tellin ’s
kept me the poor man I am. I remember, now, sir, wance on a time whin I
was only a shlip of a lad--”

“What did you call him Linsky for?” Major Snaffle demanded,
peremptorily.

“Well, sir,” answered Jerry, unabashed, “’t is because he’s freckles on
him. ‘Linsky’ is the Irish for a ‘freckled man!’ Sure, O’Daly would tell
you the same--if yer honor could find him.”

The major did not look entirely convinced.

“I don’t doubt it,” he said, with grim sarcasm; “every man, woman and
child of you all would tell the same. Come now--we’ll get up out of
this. Link your arms together, and give me the lantern.”

“By your lave, sir,” interposed Jerry, “that trick ye told us of your
father--w’u’d that have been in a marteller tower, on the coast beyant
Kinsale? Egor, sir, I was there! ’T was me tuk the gun-rags from your
father’s mouth. Sure, ’t is in me ricolliction as if ’t was
yesterday. There stud The O’Mahony--”

At the sound of the name on his tongue, Jerry stopped short. The secret
of that expedition had been preserved so long. Was there danger in
revealing it now.

To Bernard the name suggested another thought. He turned swiftly to
Jerry.

“Look here!” he said. “You forgot something. The O’Mahony knew of this
place.”

“Well, thin, he did, sir,” assented Jerry. “’T was him discovered it
altogether.”

“Major,” the young man exclaimed, wheeling now to again confront the
magistrate with his revolver, “there’s something queer about this whole
thing. I don’t understand it any more than you do. Perhaps if we put our
heads together we could figure it out between us. It’s foolishness to
stand like this. Let me light the candles here, and all of us sit down
like white men. That’s it,” he added as he busied himself in carrying
out his suggestion, to which the magistrate tacitly assented. “Now we
can talk. We’ll sit here in front of you, and you can keep out your
pistol, if you like.”

“Well?” said Major Snaffle, inquiringly, when he had seated himself
between the others and the door, yet sidewise, so that he might not be
taken unawares by any new-comer.

“Tell him, Jerry, who this O’Mahony of yours was,” directed Bernard.

“Ah, thin--a grand divil of a man!” said Jerry, with enthusiasm. “’T
was he was the master of all Muirisc. Sure ’t was mesilf was the first
man he gave a word to in Ireland whin he landed at the Cove of Cork.
‘Will ye come along wid me?’ says he. ‘To the inds of the earth!’ says
I. And wid that--”

“He came from America, too, did he?” queried the major. “Was that the
same man who--who played the trick on my father? You seem to know about
that.”

“Egor, ’t was the same!” cried Jerry, slapping his fat knee and
chuckling with delight at the memory. “’T was all in the winkin’ of
an eye--an’ there he had him bound like a calf goin’ to the fair, an’ he
cartin’ him on his own back to the boat. Up wint the sails, an’ off we
pushed, an’ the breeze caught us, an’ whin the soldiers came, faith,
’t was safe out o’ raych we were. An’ thin The O’Mahony--God save
him!--came to your honor’s father--”

“Yes, I know the story,” interrupted the major. “It doesn’t amuse me as
it does you. But what has this man--this O’Mahony--got to do with this
present case?”

“It’s like this,” explained Bernard, “as I understand it: He left
Ireland after this thing Jerry’s been telling you about and went
fighting in other countries. He turned his property over to two trustees
to manage for the benefit of a little girl here--now Miss Kate O’Mahony.
O’Daly was one of the trustees. What does he do but marry the girl’s
mother--a widow--and lay pipes to put the girl in a convent and
steal all the money. I told you at the beginning that it was a family
squabble. I happened to come along this way, got interested in the
thing, and took a notion to put a spoke in O’Daly’s wheel. To manage
the convent end of the business I had to go away for two or three days.
While I was gone, I thought it would be safer to have O’Daly down here
out of mischief. Now you’ve got the whole story. Or, no, that isn’t all,
for when I got back I find that the young lady herself has disappeared;
and, lo and behold, here’s O’Daly turned up missing, too!”

“What’s that you say?” asked Major Snaffle. “The young lady gone, also?”

“Is it Miss Kate?” broke in Jerry. “Oh, thin, ’t is the divil’s worst
work! Miss Kate not to be found--is that your m’aning? ’T is not
consayvable.”

“Oh, I don’t think there’s anything serious in _that_,” said Bernard.
“She’ll turn out to be safe and snug somewhere when everything’s cleared
up. But, in the meantime, where’s O’Daly? How did he get out of here?”

The major rose and walked over to the door. He examined its fastenings
and lock with attention.

“It can only be opened from the outside,” he remarked as he returned to
his seat.

“I know that,” said Bernard. “And I’ve got a notion that there’s only
one man alive who could have come and opened it.”

“Is it Lin--me cousin, you mane?” asked Jerry.

“Egor! He was never out of me sight, daylight or dark, till they
arrested us together.”

“No,” replied Bernard. “I didn’t mean him. The man I’m thinking of is
The O’Mahony himself.”

Jerry leaped to his feet so swiftly that the major instinctively
clutched his revolver anew. But there was no menace in Jerry’s manner.
He stood for a moment, his fat face reddened in the candle’s pale glow,
his gray eyes ashine, his mouth expanding in a grin of amazed delight.
Then he burst forth in a torrent of eager questioning.

“Don’t you mane it?” he cried. “The O’Mahony come back to his own ag’in?
W’u’d he--is it--oh, thin, ‘t is too good to be thrue, sir! An’ we
sittin’ here! An’ him near by! An’ me not--ah, come along out ’o this!
An’ ye’re not desayvin’ us, sir? He’s thruly come back to us?”

“Don’t go too fast,” remonstrated Bernard “It’s only guess-work There’s
nothing sure about it at all. Only there’s no one else who _could_ have
come here.”

“Thrue for ye, sir!” exclaimed Jerry, all afire now with joyous
confidence. “’T is a fine, grand intelligince ye have, sir. An’ will
we be goin’, now, major, to find him?”

Under the influence of Jerry’s great excitement, the other two had risen
to their feet as well.

The resident magistrate toyed dubiously with his revolver, casting sharp
glances of scrutiny from one to the other of the faces before him, the
while he pondered the probabilities of truth in the curious tale to
which he had listened.

The official side of him clamored for its entire rejection as a lie.
Like most of his class, with their superficial and hostile observation
of an alien race, his instincts were all against crediting anything
which any Irish peasant told him, to begin with. Furthermore, the half
of this strange story had been related by an Irish-American--a type
regarded by the official mind in Ireland with a peculiar intensity of
suspicion. Yes, he decided, it was all a falsehood.

Then he looked into the young man’s face once more, and wavered. It
seemed an honest face. If its owner had borne even the homeliest and
most plebeian of Saxon labels, the major was conscious that he should
have liked him. The Milesian name carried prejudice, it was true, but--

“Yes, we will go up,” he said, “in the manner I described. I don’t see
what your object would be in inventing this long rigmarole. Of course,
you can see that if it isn’t true, it will be so much the worse for
you.”

“We ought to see it by this time,” said Bernard, with a suggestion of
weariness. “You’ve mentioned it often enough. Here, take the lantern.
We’ll go up ahead. The door locks itself. I have the key.”

The three men made their way up the dark, tortuous flight of stairs,
replaced the lantern and key on their peg in Jerry’s room, and emerged
once more into the open. They filled their lungs with long breaths of
the fresh air, and then looked rather vacuously at one another. The
major had pocketed his weapon.

“Well, what’s the programme?” asked Bernard.

Before any answer came, their attention was attracted by the figure of
a stranger, sauntering about among the ancient stones and black wooden
crosses scattered over the weed-grown expanse of the churchyard. He was
engaged in deciphering the names on the least weather-beaten of these
crosses, but only in a cursory way and with long intermittent glances
over the prospect of ivy-grown ruins and gray walls, turrets and gables
beyond. As they watched him, he seemed suddenly to become aware of their
presence. Forthwith he turned and strolled toward them.

As he advanced, they saw that he was a tall and slender man, whose
close-cut hair and short mustache and chin tuft produced an effect of
extreme whiteness against a notably tanned and sun-burnt skin. Though
evidently well along in years, he walked erect and with an elastic and
springing step. He wore black clothes of foreign, albeit genteel aspect.
The major noted on the lapel of his coat a tell-tale gleam of red
ribbon--and even before that had guessed him to be a Frenchman and a
soldier. He leaped swiftly to the further assumption that this was The
O’Mahony, and then hesitated, as Jerry showed no sign of recognition.

The stranger halted before them with a little nod and a courteous upward
wave of his forefinger.

“A fine day, gentlemen,” he remarked, with politeness.

Major Snaffle had stepped in front of his companions.

“Permit me to introduce myself,” he said, with a sudden resolution, “I
am the stipendiary magistrate of the district. Would you kindly tell me
if you are informed as to the present whereabouts of Mr. Cormac O’Daly,
of this place?”

The other showed no trace of surprise on his browned face.

“Mr. O’Daly and his step-daughter,” he replied, affably enough, “are
just now doing me the honor of being my guests, aboard my vessel in the
harbor.”

Then a twinkle brightened his gray eyes as he turned their glance upon
Jerry’s red, moon-like face. He permitted himself the briefest of dry
chuckles.

“Well, young man,” he said, “they seem to have fed you pretty well,
anyway, since I saw you last.” For another moment Jerry stared in
round-eyed bewilderment at the speaker. Then with a wild “Huroo!” he
dashed forward, seized his hand and wrung it in both of his.

“God bless ye! God bless ye!” he gasped, between little formless
ejaculations of dazed delight. “God forgive me for not knowin’
ye--you’re that althered! But for you’re back amongst us--aloive and
well--glory be to the world!”

He kept close to The O’Mahony’s side as the group began now to move
toward the gate of the churchyard, pointing to him with his fat thumb,
as if to call all nature to witness this glorious event, and murmuring
fondly to himself: “You’re come home to us!” over and over again.

“I am much relieved to learn what you tell me, Mr.---- Or rather, I
believe you are O’Mahony without the mister,” said Major Snaffle, as
they walked out upon the green. “I dare say you know--this has been
a very bad winter all over the west and south’, and crime seems to be
increasing, instead of the reverse, as spring advances. We have had
the gravest reports about the disaffection in this district--especially
among your tenants. That’s why we gave such ready credence to the theory
of murder.”

“Murder?” queried The O’Mahony. “Oh, I see--you thought O’Daly had been
murdered?”

“Yes, we arrested your man Higgins, here, yesterday. I was just on the
point of starting with him to Bantry jail, an hour ago, when this
young gentleman--” the major made a backward gesture to indicate
Bernard--“came and said he knew where O’Daly was. He took me down to
that curious underground chamber--”

“Who took you down, did you say?” asked The O’Mahony, sharply. He turned
on his heel as he spoke, as did the major.

To their considerable surprise, Bernard was no longer one of the party.
Their dumfounded gaze ranged the expanse of common round about. He was
nowhere to be seen.

The O’Mahoney looked almost sternly at Jerry.

“Who is this young man you had with you--who seems to have taken to
running things in my absence?” he demanded.

Poor Jerry, who had been staring upward at the new-comer with the dumb
admiration of an affectionate spaniel, cowered humbly under this glance
and tone.

“Well, yer honor,” he stammered, plucking at the buttons of his coat in
embarrassment, “egor, for the matter of that--I--I don’t rightly know.”



CHAPTER XXVIII--A MARINE MORNING CALL.

The young man from Houghton County, strolling along behind these
three men, all so busily occupied with one another, had, of a sudden,
conceived the notion of dropping silently out of the party.

He had put the idea into execution and was secure from observation on
the farther side of the ditch, before the question of what he should do
next shaped itself in his mind. Indeed, it was not until he had made his
way to the little old-fashioned pier and come to an enforced halt among
the empty barrels, drying nets and general marine odds and ends which
littered the landing-stage, that he knew what purpose had brought him
hither.

But he perceived it now with great clearness. What other purpose, in
truth, did existence itself contain for him?

“I want to be rowed over at once to that vessel there,” he called out to
John Pat, who made one of a group of Muirisc men, in white jackets and
soft black hats, standing beneath him on the steps. As he descended and
took his seat in one of the waiting dingeys, he noted other clusters of
villagers along the shore, all concentrating an eager interest upon the
yawl-rigged craft which lay at anchor in the harbor. They pointed to
it incessant as they talked, and others could be seen running forward
across the green to join them. He had never supposed Muirisc capable of
such a display of animation.

“The people seem tickled to death to get The O’Mahony back again,” he
remarked to John Pat, as they shot out under the first long sweep of the
oars.

“They are, sir,” was the stolid response.

“Did your brother come back with him--that one-armed man who went after
him--Malachy, I think they called him?”

“He did, sur,” said Pat, simply.

“Well”--Bernard bent forward impatiently--“tell me about it! Where did
he find him? What do people say?”

“They do be saying manny things,” responded the oarsman, rounding his
shoulders to the work.

Bernard abandoned the inquiry, with a grunt of discouragement, and
contented himself perforce by watching the way in which the strange
craft waxed steadily in size as they sped toward her. In a minute or two
more, he was alongside and clambering up a rope-ladder, which dangled
its ends in the gently heaving water.

Save for a couple of obviously foreign sailors lolling in the sunshine
upon a sail in the bows, there was no one on deck. As he looked about,
however, in speculation, the apparition of a broad, black hat, with
long, curled plumes, rose above the companionway. He welcomed it with an
exclamation of delight, and ran forward with outstretched hands.

The wearer of the hat, as she stepped upon the deck and confronted this
demonstration, confessed to surprise by stopping short and lifting her
black brows in inquiry. Bernard sheepishly let his hands fall to his
side before the cool glance with which she regarded him.

“Is it viewing the vessel you are?” she asked. “Her jigger lug-sail is
unusual, I’m told.”

The young man’s blue eyes glistened in reproachful appeal.

“What do I know about lugger jig-sails, or care, either,” he asked. “I
hurried here the moment I heard, to--to see _you!_”

“’T is flattered I am, I’m sure,” said Kate, dryly, looking away from
him to the brown cliffs beyond.

“Come, be fair!” Bernard pleaded. “Tell me what the matter is. I thought
I had every reason to suppose you’d be glad to see me. It’s plain enough
that you are not; but you--you _might_ tell me why. Or no,” he went on,
with a sudden change of tone, “I won’t ask you. It’s your own affair,
after all. Only you’ll excuse the way I rushed up to you. I’d had
my head full of your affairs for days past, and then your
disappearance--they thought you were drowned, you know--and I--I--”

The young man broke off with weak inconclusiveness, and turned as if to
descend the ladder again. But John Pat had rowed away with the boat, and
he looked blankly down upon the clear water instead.

Kate’s voice sounded with a mellower tone behind him.

“I wouldn’t have ye go in anger,” she said.

Bernard wheeled around in a flash.

“Anger!” he cried, with a radiant smile chasing all the shadows from his
face. “Why, how on earth _could_ I be angry with _you?_ No; but I was
going away most mightily down in the mouth, though--that is,” he added,
with a rueful kind of grin, “if my boat hadn’t gone off without me. But,
honestly, now, when I drove in here this morning from Skibbereen,
I felt like a victorious general coming home from the wars. I’d done
everything I wanted to do. I had the convent business blocked, and I had
O’Daly on the hip; and I said to myself, as we drove along: ‘She’ll
be glad to see me.’ I kept saying that all the while, straight from
Skibbereen to Muirisc. Well, then--you can guess for yourself--it was
like tumbling backward into seven hundred feet of ice-water!”

Kate’s face had gradually lost its implacable rigidity, and softened now
for an instant into almost a smile.

“So much else has happened since that drive of yours,” she said gently.
“And what were ye doing at Skibbereen?”

“Well, you’ll open _your_ eyes!” predicted Bernard, all animation once
again; and then he related the details of his journey to Skibbereen and
Cashel, of his interviews with the prelates and of the manner in which
he had, so to speak, wound up the career of the convent of the Hostage’s
Tears. “It hadn’t had any real, rightdown legitimate title to existence,
you know,” he concluded, “these last five hundred years. All it needed
was somebody to call attention to this fact, you see, and, bang, the
whole thing collapsed like a circus-tent in a cyclone!”

The girl had moved over to the gunwale, and now leaning over the rail,
looked meditatively into the water below.

“And so,” she said, with a pensive note in her voice, “there’s an end
to the historic convent of the O’Mahonys! No other family in Ireland
had one--’t was the last glory of our poor, hunted and plundered and
poverty-striken race; and now even that must depart from us.”

“Well--hang it all!” remonstrated Bernard--“it’s better that way than
to have _you_ locked up all your life. I feel a little blue myself about
closing up the old convent, but there’s something else I feel a thousand
times more strongly about still.”

“Yes--isn’t it wonderful?--the return of The O’Mahony!” said Kate. “Oh,
I hardly know still if I’m waking or not. ’T was all like a blessid
vision, and ’t _was_ supernatural in its way; I’ll never believe
otherwise. There was I on the strand yonder, with the talisman he’d
given me in me arms, praying for his return--and, behold you there was
this boat of his forninst me! Oh! Never tell me the age of miracles is
past?”

“I won’t--I promise you!” said Bernard, with fervor. “I’ve seen one
myself since I’ve been here. It was at the Three Castles. I had my gun
raised to shoot a heron, when an enchanted fairy--”

“Nothing to do but he’d bring me on board,” Kate put in, hastily. “Old
Murphy swam out to him ahead of us, screaming wid delight like one
possessed. And we sat and talked for hours--he telling strange stories
of the war’s he’d been in wid the French, and thin wid Don Carlos,
and thin the Turks, and thin wid some outlandish people in a Turkish
province--until night fell, and he wint ashore. And whin he came back he
brought O’Daly wid him--where in the Lord’s name he found him passes my
understanding, and thin we up sail and beat down till we stood off
Three Castle Head. There we lay all night--O’Mahony gave up his cabin
to me--and this morning back we came again. And now--the Lord be
praised!--there’s an ind to all our throubles!”

“Well,” said Bernard, with deliberation, “I’m glad. I really _am_ glad.
Although, of course, it’s plain enough to see, there’s an end to me,
too.”

A brief time of silence passed, as the two, leaning side by side on the
rail, watched the slow rise and sinking of the dull-green wavelets.

“You’re off to Ameriky, thin?” Kate finally asked, without looking up.

The young man hesitated.

“I don’t know yet,” he said, slowly. “I’ve got a curious hand dealt out
to me. I hardly know how to play it. One thing is sure, though: hearts
are trumps.”

He tried to catch her glance, but she kept her eyes resolutely bent upon
the water.

“You know what I want to say,” he went on, moving his arm upon the rail
till there was the least small fluttering suggestion of contact with
hers. “It must have said itself to you that day upon the mountain-top,
or, for that matter, why, that very first time I saw you I went away
head over heels in love. I tell you, candidly, I haven’t thought or
dreamed for a minute of anything else from that blessed day. It’s all
been fairyland to me ever since. I’ve been so happy! May I stay in
fairyland, Kate?”

She made no answer. Bernard felt her arm tremble against his for an
instant before it was withdrawn. He noted, too, the bright carmine flush
spring to her cheek, overmantle her dark face and then fade away before
an advancing pallor. A tear glittered among her downcast lashes.

“You mustn’t deny me _my_ age of miracles!” he murmuringly pleaded. “It
_was_ a miracle that we should have met as we did; that I should have
found you afterward as I did; that I should have turned up just when
you needed help the most; that the stray discovery of an old mediæval
parchment should have given me the hint what to do. Oh, don’t _you_ feel
it, Kate? Don’t _you_ realize, too, dear, that there was fate in it all?
That we belonged from the beginning to each other?”

Very white-faced and grave, Kate lifted herself erect and looked at him.
It was with an obvious effort that she forced herself to speak, but her
words were firm enough and her glance did not waver.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “_your_ miracle has a trick in it. Even if
’t would have pleased me to believe in it, how can I, whin ’t is
founded on desate.”

Bernard stared at her in round-eyed wonderment.

“How ‘deceit’?” he stammered. “How do you mean? Is it about kidnapping
O’Daly? We only did that--”

“No, ’t is _this_,” said Kate--“we ‘ll be open with each other, and
it’s a grief to me to say it to you, whom I have liked so much, but you
‘re no O’Ma-hony at all.”

The young man with difficulty grasped her meaning.

“Well, if you remember, I never said I knew my father was one of _the_
O’Mahonys, you know. All I said was that he came from somewhere in
County Cork. Surely, there was no deceit in that.”

She shook her head.

“No; what ye said was that your name was O’Mahony.”

“Well, so it is. Good heavens! _That_ isn’t disputed, is it?”

“And you said, moreover,” she continued, gravely, “that your father knew
_our_ O’Mahony as well almost as he knew himsilf.”

“Oh-h!” exclaimed Bernard, and fell thereupon into confused rumination
upon many thoughts which till then had been curiously subordinated in
his mind.

“And, now,” Kate went on, with a sigh, “whin I mintion this to The
O’Mahony himself, he says he never in his life knew any one of your
father’s name. O’Daly was witness to it as well.”

Bernard had his elbows once more on the rail. He pushed his chin hard
against his upturned palms and stared at the skyline, thinking as he had
never been forced to think before.

“Surely there was no need for the--the misstatement,” said Kate, in
mournful recognition of what she took to be his dumb self-reproach. “See
now how useless it was--and a thousand times worse than useless! See how
it prevints me now from respecting you and being properly grateful to
you for what you’ve done on me behalf, and--and--”

She broke off suddenly. To her consternation she had discovered that
the young man, so far from being stricken speechless in contrition, was
grinning gayly at the distant landscape.

Turning with abruptness she walked indignantly aft. Cormac O’Daly
had come up from below, and stood wistfully gazing landward over the
taffrail. She joined him, and stood at his side flushed and wrathful.

Bernard was not wholly able to chase the smile from his face as he rose
and sauntered over toward her. She turned her back as he approached and
tapped the deck nervously with her foot. Nothing dismayed, he addressed
himself to O’Daly, who seemed unable to decide whether also to look the
other way or not.

“Good morning, sir,” he said affably. “You’re quite a stranger, Mr.
O’Daly.”

Kate, at his first word, had walked briskly away up the deck. Cormac’s
little black eyes snapped viciously at the intruder.

“At laste I’m not such a stranger,” he retorted, “but that me thrue name
is known, an’ I’m here be the invitation of the owner.”

“I’m sorry you take things so hard, Mr. O’Daly,” said Bernard. “An easy
disposition would come very handy to you, seeing the troubles you ’ve
got to go through with yet.”

The small man gazed apprehensively at his tormentor.

“I don’t folly ye,” he stammered.

“I’m going to propose that you _shall_ follow me, sir,” replied the
young man in an authoritative tone. “I understand that in conversation
last night between your step-daughter and you and _The_--the owner of
this vessel, the question of my name was brought up, and that it was
decided that I was a fraud. Now, I’m not much given to making a fuss,
but there are some things, especially at certain times, that I can’t
stand--not for one little minute. This is one of ’em. Now I’m going to
suggest that we hail one of those boats there and go ashore at once--you
and Miss Kate and I--and clear this matter up without delay.”

“We’ll remain here till The O’Mahony returns!” said O’Daly, stiffly.
“’T was his request. ’T is no interest of mine to clear the matther
up, as you call it.”

“Well, it was no interest of mine, Mr. O’Daly,” remarked Bernard,
placidly, “to go over the mining contracts you’ve made as trustee
during the past dozen years and figure out all the various items of
the estate’s income; but I’ve done it. It makes a very curious little
balance-sheet. I had intended to fetch it down with me to-day and go
over it with you in your underground retreat.”

“In the devil’s name, who are you?” snarled Cormac, with livid face and
frightened eyes. “That’s just what I proposed we should go right and
settle. If you object, why, I shall go alone. But in that case, it may
happen that I shall have to discuss with the gentleman who has just
arrived the peculiarities of that balance-sheet I spoke of. What do you
think, eh?”

O’Daly did not hesitate.

“Sur, I’ll go wid you,” he said. “The O’Mahony has no head for figures.
’T would be flat injustice to bother him wid ’em, and he only newly
landed.” Bernard walked lightly across the deck, humming a little tune
to himself as he advanced, and baiting a short foot from where Kate
stood.

“O’Daly’s going ashore with me,” he remarked. “He dare not!” she
answered, over her shoulder. “The O’Mahony bade him stop here.”

“Well, this is more or less of a free country, and he’s changed his
mind. He’s going with me. I--I want you to come, too.”

“’Tis loikely!” she said, with a derisive sniff.

“Kate,” he said, drawing nearer to her by a step and speaking in low,
earnest tones, “I hate to plead this sort of thing; but you have nothing
but candid and straightforward friendship from me. I’ve done a trifle
of lying _for_ you, perhaps, but none _to_ you. I’ve worked for you as I
never worked for myself. I’ve run risks for you which nothing else under
the sun would have tempted me into. All that doesn’t matter. Leave that
out of the question. I did it because I love you. And for that selfsame
reason I come now and ask this favor of you. You can send me away
afterward, if you like; but you _can’t_ bear to stop here now, thinking
these things of me, and refusing to come out and learn for yourself
whether they are true or false, for that would be unfair, and it’s not
in your blood--in _our_ blood--to be that.”

The girl neither turned to him nor spoke, but he could see the outline
of her face as she bowed her head and gazed in silence at the murmuring
water; and something in this sight seemed to answer him.

He strode swiftly to the other side of the vessel, and exultantly waved
his handkerchief in signal to the boatmen on the shore.



CHAPTER XXIX--DIAMOND CUT PASTE.

The O’Mahony sat once more in the living-room of his castle--sat
very much at his ease, with a cigar between his teeth, and his feet
comfortably stretched out toward the blazing bank of turf on the stone
hearth.

A great heap of papers lay upon the table at his elbow--the contents of
O’Daly’s strong-box, the key to which he had brought with him from
the vessel--but not a single band of red tape had been untied. The
O’Mahony’s mood for investigation had exhausted itself in the work
of getting the documents out. His hands were plunged deep into his
trousers’ pockets now, and he gazed into the glowing peat.

His home-coming had been a thing to warm the most frigid heart. His own
beat delightedly still at the thought of it. From time to time there
reached his ears from the square without a vague braying noise, the
sound of which curled his lips into the semblance of a grin. It seemed
so droll to him that Muirisc should have a band--a fervent half-dozen
of amateurs, with ancient and battered instruments which successive
generations of regimental musicians bad pawned at Skibbereen or Bantry,
and on which they played now, neither by note nor by ear, but solely by
main strength.

The tumult of discord which they produced was dreadful, but The O’Mahony
liked it. He had been pleasurably touched, too, by the wild enthusiasm
of greeting with which Muirisc had met him when he disclosed himself on
the main street, walking up to the police-station with Major Snaffle
and Jerry. All the older inhabitants he knew, and shook hands with. The
sight of younger people among them whom he did not know alone kept alive
the recollection that he had been absent twelve long years. Old and
young alike, and preceded by the hurriedly summoned band, they had
followed him in triumphal procession when he came down the street
again, with the liberated Jerry and Linsky at his heels. They were still
outside, cheering and madly bawling their delight whenever the bandsmen
stopped to take breath. Jerry, Linsky and the one-armed Malachy were
out among them, broaching a cask of porter from the castle cellar; Mrs.
Fergus and Mrs. Sullivan were in the kitchen cutting up bread and meat
to go with the drink.

No wonder there were cheers! Small matter for marvel was it, either,
that The O’Mahony smiled as he settled down still more lazily in his
arm-chair and pushed his feet further toward the fire.

Presently he must go and fetch O’Daly and Kate from the vessel--or no,
when Jerry came in he would send him on that errand. After his long
journey The O’Mahony was tired and sleepy--all the more as he had sat up
most of the night, out on deck, talking with O’Daly. What a journey
it had been! Post-haste from far away, barbarous Armenia, where the
faithful Malachy had found him in command of a Turkish battalion,
resting after the task of suppressing a provincial rebellion. Home
they had wended their tireless way by Constantinople and Malta and
mistral-swept Marseilles, and thence by land across to Havre. Here,
oddly enough, he had fallen in with the French merchant to whom he had
sold the _Hen Hawk_ twelve years before--the merchant’s son had served
with him in the Army of the Loire three years later, and was his
friend--and he had been able to gratify the sudden fantastic whim of
returning as he had departed in the quaint, flush-decked, yawl-rigged
old craft. It all seemed like a dream!

“If your honor plazes, there’s a young gintleman at the dure--a Misther
O’Mahony, from America--w’u’d be afther having a word wid ye.”

It was the soft voice of good old Mrs. Sullivan that spoke.

The O’Mahony woke with a start from his complacent day-dream. He drew
his feet in, sat upright, and bit hard on his cigar for a minute in
scowling reflection.

“Show him in,” he said, at last, and then straightened himself
truculently to receive this meddling new-comer. He fastened a stern and
hostile gaze upon the door.

Bernard seemed to miss entirely the frosty element in his reception. He
advanced with a light step, hat in hand, to the side of the hearth, and
held one hand with familiar nonchalance over the blaze, while he nodded
amiably at his frowning host.

“I skipped off rather suddenly this morning,” he said, with a pleasant
half-smile, “because I didn’t seem altogether needful to the party for
the minute, and I had something else to do. I’ve dropped in now to say
that I’m as glad as anybody here to see you back again. I’ve only been
about Muirisc a few weeks, but I already feel as if I’d been born
and brought up here. And so I’ve come around to do my share of the
welcoming.”

“You _seem_ to have made yourself pretty much at home, sir,” commented
The O’Mahony, icily.

“You mean putting O’Daly down in the family vault?” queried the young
man. “Yes, perhaps it was making a little free, but, you see, time
pressed. I couldn’t be in two places at once, now, could I? And while
I went off to settle the convent business, there was no telling what
O’Daly mightn’t be up to if we left him loose; so I thought it was best
to take the liberty of shutting him up. You found him there, I judge,
and took him out.”

The O’Mahony nodded curtly, and eyed his visitor with cool disfavor.

“As long as you’re here, sir, you might as well take a seat,” he said,
after a minute’s pause. “That ’s it. Now, sir, first of all, perhaps
you wouldn’t mind telling me who you are and what the devil you mean,
sir, by coming here and meddling in this way with other people’s private
affairs.”

“Curious, isn’t it,” remarked the young man from Houghton County,
blandly, “how we Americans lug in the word ‘sir’ every other breath?
They tell me no Englishman ever uses it at all.”

The O’Mahony stirred in his chair.

“I’m not as easy-going a man or as good-natured as I used to be, my
young friend,” he said, with an affectation of calm, through which ran a
threatening note.

“I shouldn’t have thought it,” protested Bernard. “You seemed the pink
of politeness out there in the graveyard this morning. But I suppose
years of campaigning--”

“See here!” the other interposed abruptly. “Don’t fool with me. It’s
a risky game! Unless you want trouble, stop monkeying and answer my
question straight: Who are you?”

The young man had ceased smiling. His face had all at once become very
grave, and he was staring at The O’Mahony with wide-open, bewildered
eyes.

“True enough!” he gasped, after his gaze had been so protracted that the
other half rose from his seat in impatient anger. “Why--yes, sir! I’ll
swear to it--well--this _does_ beat all!”

“Your _cheek_ beats all!” broke in The O’Mahony, springing to his feet
in a gust of choleric heat.

Bernard stretched forth a restraining hand.

“Wait a minute,” he said, in evidently sincere anxiety not to be
misunderstood, and picking his words slowly as he went along, “hold
on--I’m not fooling! Please sit down again. I’ve got something
important, and mighty queer, too, to say to you.”

The O’Mahony, with a grunt of reluctant acquiescing, sat down once more.
The two men looked at each other with troubled glances, the one vaguely
suspicious, the other still round-eyed with surprise.

“You ask who I am,” Bernard began. “I’ll tell you. I was a little
shaver--oh, six or seven years old--just at the beginning of the War. My
father enlisted when they began raising troops. The recruiting tent in
our town was in the old hay-market by the canal bridge. It seems to me,
now, that they must have kept my father there for weeks alter he ’d
put his uniform on. I used to go there every day, I know, with my mother
to see him. But there was another soldier there--this is the queer thing
about a boy’s memory--I remember him ever so much better than I do my
own father. It’s--let’s see--eighteen years now, but I’d know him to
this day, wherever I met him. He carried a gun, and he walked all day
long up and down in front of the tent, like a polar bear in his cage.
We boys thought he was the most important man in the whole army. Some of
them knew him--he belonged to our section originally, it seems--and they
said he’d been in lots of wars before. I can see him now, as plainly
as--as I see you. His name was Tisdale--Zeb, I think it was--no, Zeke
Tisdale.”

Perhaps The O’Mahony changed color. He sat with his back to the window,
and the ruddy glow from the peat blaze made it impossible to tell. But
he did not take his sharp gray eye off Bernard’s face, and it never so
much as winked.

“Very interesting,” he said, “but it doesn’t go very far toward
explaining who you are. If I’m not mistaken, _that_ was the question.”

“Me?” answered Bernard, “Oh, yes, I forgot that. Well, sir, I am
the only surviving son of one Hugh O’Mahony, who was a shoemaker in
Tecumseh, who served in the same regiment, perhaps the same company,
with this Zeke Tisdale I’ve told you about, and who, after the War,
moved out to Michigan where he died.”

An oppressive silence settled upon the room. The O’Mahony still looked
his companion straight in the face, but it was with a lack-luster eye
and with the effect of having lost the physical power to look elsewhere.
He drummed with his fingers in a mechanical way on the arms of the
chair, as he kept up this abstracted and meaningless gaze.

There fell suddenly upon this long-continued silence the reverberation
of an exceptionally violent outburst of uproar from the square.

“Cheers for The O’Mahony!” came from one of the lustiest of the now
well-lubricated throats; and then followed a scattering volley of wild
hurroos and echoing yells.

As these died away, a shrill voice lifted itself, screaming:

“Come out, O’Mahony, an’ spake to us! We’re dyin’ for a sight of you!”

The elder man had lifted his head and listened. Then he squinted and
blinked his eyelids convulsively and turned his head away, but not
before Bernard had caught the glint of moisture in his eyes.

The young man had not been conscious of being specially moved by what
was happening. All at once he could feel his pulses vibrating like the
strings of a harp. His heart had come up into his throat. Nothing was
visible to him but the stormy affection which Muirisc bore for this
war-born, weather-beaten old impostor. And, clearly enough, _he_ himself
was thinking of only that.

Bernard rose and stepped to the hearth, instinctively holding one of his
hands backward over the fire, though the room was uncomfortably hot.

“They’re calling for you outside, sir,” he said, almost deferentially.

The remark seemed stupid after he had made it, but nothing else had come
to his tongue.

The lurking softness in his tone caught the other’s ear, and he turned
about fiercely.

“See here!” he said, between his teeth. “How much more of this is there
going to be? I’ll fight you where you stand--here!--now!--old as I
am--or I’ll--I’ll do something else--anything else--but d----m me if I’ll
take any slack or soft-soap from _you!_”

This unexpected resentment of his sympathetic mood impressed Bernard
curiously. Without hesitation, he stretched forth his hand. No
responsive gesture was offered, but he went on, not heeding this. .

“My dear sir,” he said, “they are calling for you, as I said. They
are hollering for ‘The O’Mahony of Muirisc.’ You are The O’Mahony of
Muirisc, and will be till you die. You hear _me!_”

The O’Mahony gazed for a puzzled minute into his young companion’s face.

“Yes--I hear you,” he said, hesitatingly.

“_You_--are The--O’Mahony--of--Muirisc!” repeated Bernard, with a
deliberation and emphasis; “and I’ll whip any man out of his boots who
says you’re not, or so much as looks as if he doubted it!”

The old soldier had put his hands in his pockets and began walking
slowly up and down the chamber. After a time he looked up.

“I s’pose you can prove all this that you’ve been saying?” he asked, in
a musing way.

“No--prove nothing! Don’t want to prove anything!” rejoined Bernard,
stoutly.

Another pause. The elder man halted once more in his meditative pacing
to and fro.

“And you say I _am_ The--The O’Mahony of Muirisc?” he remarked.

“Yes, I said it; I mean it!”

“Well, but--”

“There’s no ‘but’ about it, sir!”

“Yes, there is,” insisted The O’Mahony, drawing near and tentatively
surrendering his hand to the other’s prompt and cordial clasp.
“Supposing it all goes as you say--supposing I _am_ The O’Mahony--what
are _you_ going to be?”

The young man’s eyes glistened and a happy change--half-smile,
half-blush--blossomed all over his face.

“Well,” he said, still holding the other’s hand in his, “I don’t
know just how to tell you--because I am not posted on the exact
relationships; but I’ll put it this way: If it was your daughter that
you ’d left on the vessel there with O’Daly, I’d say that what I
propose to be was your son-in-law. See?”

It was only too clear that The O’Mahony did see. He had frowned at the
first adumbration of the idea. He pulled his hand away now, and pushed
the young man from him.

“No, you don’t!” he cried, angrily. “No, sirree! You can’t make any
such bargain as that with _me!_ Why--I’d ’a’ thought you’d ’a’ known
me better! _Me_, going into a deal, with little Katie to be traded off?
Why, man, you’re a fool!”

The O’Mahony turned on his heel contemptuously and strode up and down
the room, with indignant sniffs at every step. All at once he stopped
short.

“Yes,” he said, as if in answer to an argument with himself, “I’ll tell
you to get out of this! You can go and do what you like--just whatever
you may please--but I’m boss here yet, at all events, and I don’t want
anybody around me who could propose that sort of thing. _Me_ make Kate
marry you in order to feather my own nest! There’s the door, young man!”

Bernard looked obdurately past the outstretched forefinger into the
other’s face.

“Who said anything about your _making_ her marry me?” he demanded. “And
who talked about a deal? Why, look here, colonel”--the random title
caught the ear of neither speaker nor impatient listener--“look at it
this way: They all love you here in Muirisc; they’re just boiling over
with joy because they’ve got you here. That sort of thing doesn’t happen
so often between landlords and tenants that one can afford to bust it up
when it does occur. And I--well--a man would be a brute to have tried to
come between you and these people. Well, then, it’s just the same with
me and Katie. We love each other--we are glad when we’re together; we’re
unhappy when we’re apart. And so I say in this case as I said in the
other, a mane between you and these people. Well, then, it’s just the
same with me and Katie. We love each other--we are glad when we’re
together; we’re unhappy when we’re apart. And so I say in this case as I
said in the other, a man would be a brute--”

“Do you mean to tell me--” The O’Mahony broke in, and then was himself
cut short.

“Yes, I _do_ mean to tell you,” interrupted Bernard; “and, what’s more,
she means to tell you, too, if you put on your hat and walk over to the
convent.” Noting the other’s puzzled glance, he hastened on to explain:
“I rowed over to your sloop, or ship, or whatever you call it, after
I left you this morning, and I brought her and O’Daly back with me on
purpose _to_ tell you.”

Before The O’Mahony had mastered this confusing piece of information,
much less prepared verbal comment upon it, the door was thrust open;
and, ushered in, as it were, by the sharply resounding clamor of the
crowd outside, the burly figure of Jerry Higgins appeared.

“For the love o’ God, yer honor,” he exclaimed, in a high fever of
excitement, “come along out to ‘em! Sure they’re that mad to lay eyes
on ye, they’re ’ating each other like starved lobsters in a pot!
Ould Barney Driscoll’s the divil wid the dhrink in him, an’ there he is
ragin’ up an’ down, wid his big brass horn for a weapon, crackin’ skulls
right an’ left; an’ black Clancy’s asleep in his drum--‘t was Sheehan
putt him into it neck an’ crop--an’ ’t is three constables work to
howld the boys from rollin’ him round in it, an--an--”

“All right, Jerry,” said The O’Mahony; “I’ll come right along.”

He put on his hat and relighted his cigar, in slow and silent
deliberation. He tarried thereafter for a moment or two with an
irresolute air, looking at the smoke-rings abstractedly as he blew them
into the air.

Then, with a sudden decision, he walked over and linked Bernard’s arm
in his own. They went out together without a word. In fact, there was no
need for words.



CHAPTER XXX--A FAREWELL FEAST.

We enter the crumbling portals of the ancient convent of the O’Mahonys
for a final visit. The reddened sun, with its promise of a kindly
morrow, hangs low in the western heavens and pushes the long shadow of
the gateway onward to the very steps of the building. We have no call
to set the harsh-toned jangling old bell in motion. The door is open and
the hall is swept for guests.

This hour of waning day marked a unique occurrence in the annals of the
House of the Hostage’s Tears. Its nuns were too aged and infirm to go to
the castle to offer welcome to the newly returned head of the family. So
The O’Mahony came to them instead. He came like the fine old chieftain
of a sept, bringing his train of followers with him. For the first time
within the recollection of man, a long table had been spread in the
reception-hall, and about it were gathered the baker’s dozen of people
we have come to know in Muirisc. Even Mrs. Sullivan, flushed scarlet
from her labor in the ill-appointed convent kitchen, and visibly
disheartened at its meagre results, had her seat at the board beside
Father Jago. But they were saved from the perils of a party of thirteen
because the one-armed Malachy, dour-faced and silent, but secretly
bursting with pride and joy, stood at his old post behind his master’s
chair.

There had not been much to eat, and the festival stood thus early at the
stage of the steaming kettle and the glasses so piping hot that fingers
shrank from contact, though the spirit beckoned. And there was not one
less than twelve of these scorching tumblers--for in remote Muirisc the
fame of Father Mathew remained a vague and colorless thing like that of
Mahomet or Sir Isaac Newton--and, moreover, was not The O’Mahony come
home?

“Yes, sir,” The O’Mahony said from his place at the right hand of Mother
Agnes, venturing an experimental thumb against his glass and sharply
withdrawing it, “wherever I went, in France or Spain or among the Turks,
I found there had been a soldier O’Mahony there before me. Why, a French
general told me that right at one time--quite a spell back, I should
judge--there were fourteen O’Mahonys holding commissions in the French
army. Yes, I remember, it was in the time of Louis XIX.”

“You’re wrong, O’Mahony,” interrupted Kate, with the smile of a spoiled,
favorite child, “’t was nineteen O’Mahonys in the reign of Louis XIV.”

“Same thing,” he replied, pleasantly. “It’s as broad as it is long.
There the O’Mahony’s were, anyway, and every man of ’em a fighter. It
set me to figuring that before they went away--when they were all cooped
up here together on this little neck of land--things must have been kept
pretty well up to boiling point all the year round.”

“An’ who was it ever had the power to coop ’em up here?” demanded
Cormac O’Daly, with enthusiasm. “Heaven be their bed! ’T was not in
thim O’Mahonys to endure it! Forth they wint in all directions, wid
bowld raids an’ incursions, b’ating the O’Heas an’ def’ating the Coffeys
wid slaughter, an’ as for the O’Driscolls--huh!--just tearing ’em
up bodily be the roots! Sir, _t_ was a proud day whin an O’Daly first
attached himself to the house of the O’Mahonys--such grand min as
they, were, so magnanimous, so pious, so intelligent, so ferocious an’
terrifying--sir, me old blood warms at thought of ’em!”

The caloric in Cormac’s veins impelled him at this juncture to rise to
this feet. He took a sip from his glass, then adjusted his spectacles,
and produced the back of an envelope from his pocket.

“O’Mahony,” he said, with a voice full of emotion, “I’ve a slight pome
here, just stated down hurriedly that I’ll take the liberty to rade to
the company assimbled. ’T is this way it runs:

                   ‘Hark to thim joyous sounds that rise.

                   Making the face of Muirisc to be glad!

                   ’T is the devil’s job to believe one’s eyes--’”

“Well, thin, don’t be trying!” brusquely interrupted Mrs. Fergus. As the
poet paused and strove to cow his spouse with a sufficiently indignant
glance, she leaned over the table and addressed him in a stage whisper,
almost audible to the deaf old nuns themselves.

“Sit down, me man!” she adjured him. “’T is laughing at ye they are!
Sure, doesn’t his honor know how different a chune ye raised while
he was away! ’T is your part to sing small, now, an’ keep the ditch
betwixt you an’ observation.”

Cormac sat down at once, and submissively put the paper back in his
pocket. It was a humble and wistful glance which he bent through his
spectacles at the chieftain, as that worthy resumed his remarks.

The O’Mahony did not pretend to have missed the adjuration of Mrs.
Fergus.

“That started off well enough, O’Daly,” he said; “but you’re getting too
old to have to hustle around and turn out poetry to order, as you used
to. I’ve decided to allow you to retire--to sort of knock off your shoes
and let you run in the pasture. You can move into one of the smaller
houses and just take things easy.”

“But, sir--me secretarial juties--” put in O’Daly, with quavering voice.

“There’ll be no manner of trouble about that,” said the O’Mahony,
reassuringly. “My friend, here, Joseph Higgins, of Boston, he will look
out for that. I don’t know that you’re aware of it, but I took a good
deal of interest in him many years ago--before I went away--and I
foresaw a future for him. It hasn’t turned out jest as I expected, but
I’m satisfied, all the same. Before I left, I arranged that he should
pursue his studies during my absence.” A grimly quizzical smile played
around the white corners of his mustache as he added: “I understand that
he jest stuck to them studies night and day--never left ’em once for
so much as to go out and take a walk for the whole twelve years.”

“Surely, sir,” interposed Father Jago, “that’s most remarkable! I never
heard tell of such studiosity in Maynooth itself!”

The O’Mahony looked gravely across the table at Jerry, whose broad,
shining face was lobster-red with the exertion of keeping itself
straight.

“I believe there’s hardly another case on record,” he said. “Well, as
I was remarking, it’s only natural, now, that I should make him my
secretary and bookkeeper. I’ve had a long talk with him about it--and
about other things, too--and I guess there ain’t much doubt about our
getting along together all right.”

“And is it your honor’s intintion--Will--will he take over my functions
as bard as well?” Cormac ventured to inquire. He added in deprecating
tones: “Sure, they’ve always been considered hereditary.”

“No; I think we’ll let the bard business slide for the time being,”
 answered The O’Mahony. “You see, I’ve been going along now a good many
years without any poet, so I’ve got used to it. There was one fellow out
at Plevna--an English newspaper man--who did compose some verses about
me--he seemed to think they were quite funny--but I shot off one of
his knee-pans, and that sort of put a damper on poetry, so far as I was
concerned. However, we’ll see how your boy turns out. Maybe, if he takes
a shine to that sort of thing--”

“Then you’re to stay with us?” inquired Mother Agnes. “So grand ye are
wid your decorations an’ your foreign titles--sure, they tell me
you’re Chevalier an’ O’Mahony Bey both at wance--’t will be dull as
ditch-water for you here.”

“No, I reckon not,” replied The O’Mahony. “I’ve had enough of it. It’s
nigh on to forty years since I first tagged along in the wake of a drum
with a musket on my shoulder. I don’t know why I didn’t come back years
ago. I was too shiftless to make up my mind, I suppose. No, I’m going to
stay here--going to die here--right among these good Muirisc folks, who
are thumping each other to pieces outside on the green. Talk about its
being dull here--why, Mother Agnes, ’t would have done your heart
good to see old Barney Driscoll laying about him with that overgrown,
double-barreled trumpet of his. I haven’t seen anything better since we
butted our heads up against Schipka Pass.”

“’T will be grand tidings for the people--that same,” interposed Kate,
with happiness in glance and tone.

The O’Mahony looked tenderly at her.

“That reminds me,” he said, and then turned to the nuns, lifting his
voice in token that he especially addressed them. “There was some talk,
I understand, about little Katie here--”

“Little, is it!” laughed the girl. “Sure, to pl’ase you I’d begin
growing again, but that there’d be no house in Muirisc to hold me.”

“Some talk about big Kate here, then,” pursued the O’Mahony, “going into
the convent. Well, of course, that’s all over with now.” He hesitated
for a moment, and decided to withhold all that cruel information about
episcopal interference. “And I’ve been thinking it over,” he resumed,
“and have come to the conclusion that we’d better not try to bolster up
the convent with new girls from outside. It’s always been kept strictly
inside the family. Now that that can’t be done, it’s better to let it
end with dignity. And that it can’t help doing, because as long as it’s
remembered, men will say that its last nuns were its best nuns.”

He closed with a little bow to the Ladies of the Hostage’s Tears. Mother
Agnes acknowledged the salutation and the compliment with a silent
inclination of her vailed head. If her heart took grief, she did not say
so.

“And your new secretary--” put in Cormac, diffidently yet with
persistence, “has he that acquaintance an’ familiarity wid mining
technicalities and conthracts that would fit him to dale wid ’em
satisfactorily?”

A trace of asperity, under which O’Daly definitely wilted, came into The
O’Mahony’s tone.

“There is such a thing as being too smart about mining contracts,” he
said with meaning. Then, with a new light in his eyes he went on: “The
luckiest thing that ever happened on this footstool, I take it, has
occurred right here. The young man who sits opposite me is a born
O’Mahony, the only son of the man who, if I hadn’t turned up, would have
had rightful possession of all these estates. You have seen him about
here for some weeks. I understand that you all like him. Indeed, it’s
been described to me that Mrs. Fergus here has quite an affection for
him--motherly, I presume.”

Mrs. Fergus raised her hand to her hair, and preened her head.

“An’ not so old, nayther, O’Mahony,” she said, defiantly. “Wasn’t I
married first whin I was a mere shlip of a girl?”

Sister Ellen looked at Mother Agnes, and lifted up both her hands. The
O’Mahony proceeded, undisturbed:

“As I’ve said, you all like him. I like him too, for his own sake,
and--and his father’s sake--and--But that can wait for a minute. It’s a
part of the general good luck which has brought him here that he turns
out to be a trained mining engineer--just the sort of a man, of all
others, that Muirisc needs. He tells me that we’ve only scratched the
surface of things roundabout here yet. He promises to get more wealth
for us and for Muirisc out of an acre than we’ve been getting out of a
townland. Malachy, go out and look for old Murphy, and if he can walk,
bring him in here.”

The O’Mahony composedly busied himself in filling his glass afresh,
the while Malachy was absent on his quest. The others, turning their
attention to the boyish-faced, blushing young man whom the speaker had
eulogized so highly, noted that he sat next, and perhaps unnecessarily
close, to Kate, and that she, also betrayed a suspicious warmth of
countenance. Vague comprehension of what was coming began to stir in
their minds as Malachy reappeared. Behind him came Murphy, who leaned
against the wall by the door, hat in hand, and clung with a piercing,
hawk-like gaze to the lightest movement on the master’s face.

The O’Mahony rose to his feet, glass in hand.

“Murphy,” he said, “I gave her to you to look after--to take care
of--the Lady of Muirisc.”

“You did, sir!” shouted the withered and grimy old water-rat,
straightening himself against the wall.

“You’ve done it well, sir,” declared The O’Mahony. “I’m obliged to you.
And I wanted you in particular to hear what I’m going to say. Malachy,
get a glass for yourself and give one to Murphy.”

The one-armed servitor leaned gravely forward and whispered in The
O’Mahony’s ear.

“I don’t care a button,” the other protested. “You can see him home.
This is as much his funeral as it is anybody else’s on earth. That’s it.
Are you all filled? Now, then, ladies and gentlemen, I am getting along
in years. I am a childless man. You’ve all been telling me how much I’ve
changed these last twelve years. There’s one thing I haven’t changed a
bit in. I used to think that the cutest, cunningest, all-fired loveliest
little girl on earth was Katie here. Well, I think just the same now.
If I was her father, mother, sister, hired girl and dog under the wagon,
all in one, I couldn’t be fonder of her than I am. She was the apple
of my eye then; she is now. I’d always calculated that she should be
my heir. Well, now, there turns up this young man, who is as much an
O’Mahony of the real stock as Kate is. There’s a providence in these
things. They love each other. They will marry. They will live in the
castle, where they’ve promised to give me board and lodging, and when I
am gone, they will come after me. I’m going to have you all get up and
drink the health of my young--nephew--Bernard, and of his bride, our
Kate, here, and--and of the line of O’Mahonys to come.”

When the clatter of exclamations and clinking glasses had died down, it
was Kate who made response--Kate, with her blushing, smiling face held
proudly up and a glow of joyous affection in her eyes. .

“If that same line of O’Mahonys to come stretched from here to the top
of Mount Gabriel,” she said, in a clear voice, “there’d not be amongst
thim all the ayqual to _our_ O’Mahony.”


THE END.





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