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Fardorougha, The Miser, a novel by William Carleton

Part 3

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The tryste between Connor and Una was held at the same place and hour as before, and so rapid a progress had love made in each of their hearts, that we question if the warmth of their interview, though tender and innocent, would be apt to escape the censure of our stricter readers. Both were depressed by the prospect that lay before them, for Connor frankly assured her that he feared no earthly circumstances could ever soften his father's heart so far as to be prevailed upon to establish him in life.

"What then can I do, my darling Una? If your father and mother won't consent--as I fear they won't--am I to bring you into the miserable cabin of a day laborer? for to this the son of a man so wealthy as my father is, must sink. No, Una dear, I have sworn never to bring you to poverty, and I will not."

"Connor," she replied somewhat gravely, "I thought you had formed a different opinion of me. You know but little of your own Una's heart, if you think she wouldn't live with you in a cabin a thousand and a thousand times sooner than she would live with any other in a palace. I love you for your own sake, Connor; but it appears you don't think so."

Woman can never bear to have her love undervalued, nor the moral dignity of a passion which can sacrifice all worldly and selfish considerations to its own purity and attachment, unappreciated. When she uttered the last words, therefore, tears of bitter sorrow, mingled with offended pride, came to her aid. She sobbed for some moments, and again went on to reproach him with forming so unfair an estimate of her affection.

"I repeat that I loved you for yourself only, Connor, and think of what I would feel, if you refused to spend your life in a cottage with me. If I thought you wished to marry me, not because I am Una O'Brien, but the daughter of a wealthy man, my heart would break, and if I thought you were not true--minded, and pure--hearted, and honorable, I would rather be dead than united to you at all."

"I love you so well, and so much, Una, that I doubt I'm not worthy of you--and it's fear of seeing you brought down to daily labor that's crushing and breaking my heart."

"But, dear Connor--what is there done by any cottager's wife that I don't do every day of my life? Do you think my mother lets me pass my time in idleness, or that I myself could bear to be unemployed even if she did; I can milk, make butter, spin, sew, wash, knit, and clean a kitchen; why, you have no notion," she added, with a smile, "what a clever cottager's wife I'd make!"

"Oh, Una," said Connor, now melting into tenderness greater than he had ever before felt; "Una dear, it's useless--it's useless--I can't, no, I couldn't--and I will not live without you, even if we were to beg together--but what is to be done?"

"Now, while my brother John is at home, is the time to propose it to my father and mother who look upon him with eyes of such affection and delight that I am half inclined to think their consent may be gained."

"Maybe, darling, his consent will be as hard to gain as their own."

"Now," she replied, fondly, "only you're a hard--hearted thing that's afraid to live in a cottage with me, I could tell you some good news--or rather you doubt me--and fear that I wouldn't live in one with you."

A kiss was the reply, after which he said--

"With you, my dear Una, now that you're satisfied, I would live and die in a prison--with you, with you--in whatever state of life we may be placed, with you, but without you--never, I could not--I could not----"

"Well, we are young, you know, and neither of us proud--and I am not a lazy girl--indeed, I am not; but you forget the good news."

"I forget that, and everything else but yourself, darling, while I'm in your company. O heavens! if you were once my own, and that we were never to be separated!"

"Well, but the good news!"

"What is it, dear?"

"I haye mentioned our affection to my brother, and he has promised to assist us. He has heard of your character, and of your mother's, and says that it's unjust to visit upon you----"

She paused--"You know, my dear Connor, that you must not be offended with anything I say."

"I know, my sweet treasure, what you're going to say," replied Connor, with a smile; "nobody need be delicate in saying that my father loves the money, and knows how to put guinea to guinea; that's no secret. I wish he loved it less, to be sure, but it cannot be helped; in the mean time, ma colleen dhas dhun--O, how I love them words! God bless your brother! he must have a kind heart, Una dear, and he must love you very much when he promises to assist us."

"He has, and will; but, Connor, why did you send such a disagreeable, forward, and prying person, as your father's servant to bring me your message? I do not like him--he almost stared me out of countenance."

"Poor fellow," said Connor, "I feel a good dale for him, and I think he's an honest, good--hearted boy, and besides, he's in love himself."

"I know he, was always a starer, and I say again I don't like him."

"But, as the case stands, dear Una, I have no one else to trust to--at all events, he's in our secret, and the best way, if he's not honest, is to keep him in it; at laste, if we put him out of it now, he might be talking to our disadvantage."

"There's truth in that, and we must only trust him with as little of our real secrets as possible; I cannot account for the strong prejudice I feel against him, and have felt for the past two years. He always dressed above his means, and once or twice attempted to speak to me."

"Well, but I know he's in love with some one, for he told me so; poor fellow, I'm bound, my dear Una, to show him any kindness in my power."

After some further conversation, it was once more decided that Fardorougha should, on the next day, see the Bodagh and his wife, in order to ascertain whether their consent could be obtained to the union of our young and anxious lovers. This step, as the reader knows, was every way in accordance with Fardorougha's inclination. Connor himself would have preferred his mother's advocacy to that of a person possessing such a slender hold on their good-will as his other parent. But upon consulting with her, she told him that the fact of the proposal coming from Fardorougha might imply a disposition on his part to provide for his son. At all events, she hoped that contradiction, the boast of superior wealth, or some fortunate collision of mind and principle, might strike a spark of generous feeling out of her husband's heart, which nothing, she knew, under strong excitement, such as might arise from the bitter pride of the O'Brien's, could possibly do. Besides, as she had no favorable expectations from the interview, she thought it an unnecessary and painful task to subject herself to the insults which she apprehended from the Bodagh's wife, whose pride and importance towered far and high over those of her consequential husband.

This just and sensible view of the matter, on the part of the mother, satisfied Connor, and reconciled him to the father's disinclination to be accompanied by her to the scene of conflict; for, in truth, Fardorougha protested against her assistance with a bitterness which could not easily be accounted for. "If your mother goes, let her go by herself," said he; "for I'll not interfere in't if she does. I'll take the dirty Bodagh and his fat wife my own way, which I can't do if Honor comes to be enibbin' and makin' little o' me afore them. Maybe I'll pull down their pride for them better than you think, and in a way they're not prepared for; them an' their janting car!"

Neither Connor nor his mother could help being highly amused at the singularity of the miserable pomp and parsimonious display resorted to by Fardorougha, in preparing for this extraordinary mission. Out of an old strongly locked chest he brought forth a gala coat, which had been duly aired, but not thrice worn within the last twenty years. The progress of time and fashion had left it so odd, outre, and ridiculous, that Connor, though he laughed, could not help feeling depressed on considering the appearance his father must make when dressed, or rather disfigured, in it. Next came a pair of knee--breeches by the same hand, and which, in compliance with the taste of the age that produced them, were made to button so far down as the calf of the leg. Then appeared a waistcoat, whose long pointed flaps reached nearly to the knees. Last of all was produced a hat not more than three inches deep in the crown, and brimmed so narrowly, that a spectator would almost imagine the leaf had been cut off. Having pranked himself out in these habiliments, contrary to the strongest expostulations of both wife and son, he took his staff and set forth. But lest the reader should expect a more accurate description of his person when dressed, we shall endeavor at all events to present him with a loose outline. In the first place, his head was surmounted with a hat that resembled a flat skillet, wanting the handle; his coat, from which avarice and penury had caused him to shrink away, would have fitted a man twice his size, and, as he had become much stooped, its tail, which, at the best, had been preposterously long, now nearly swept the ground. To look at him behind, in fact, he appeared all body. The flaps of his waistcoat he had pinned up with his own hands, by which piece of exquisite taste, he displayed a pair of thighs so thin and disproportioned to his small--clothes, that he resembled a boy who happens to wear the breeches of a full-grown man, so that to look at him in front he appeared all legs. A pair of shoes, polished with burned straw and buttermilk, and surmounted by two buckles, scoured away to skeletons, completed his costume. In this garb he set out with a crook-headed staff, into which long use, and the habit of griping fast whatever he got in his hand, had actually worn the marks of his forefinger and thumb.

Bodagh Buie, his wife, and their two children, were very luckily assembled in the parlor, when the nondescript figure of the deputy-wooer made his appearance on that part of the neat road which terminated at the gate of the little lawn that fronted the hall-door. Here there was another gate to the right that opened into the farm or kitchen yard, and as Fardorougha hesitated which to enter, the family within had an opportunity of getting a clearer view of his features and person.

"Who is that quare figure standing there?" inquired the Bodagh; "did you ever see sich a----ah, thin, who can he be?"

"Somebody comin', to see some of the sarvints, I suppose," replied his wife; "why, thin, it's not unlike little Dick Croaitha, the fairyman."

In sober truth, Fardorougha was so completely disguised by his dress, especially by his hat, whose shallowness and want of brim, gave his face and head so wild and eccentric an appearance, that we question if his own family, had they not seen him dress, could I have recognized him! At length he turned into the kitchen-yard, and, addressing a laborer whom he met, asked--

"I say, nabor, which is the right way into Bodagh Buie's house?"

"There's two right ways into it, an' you may take aither o' them--but if you want any favor from him, you had better call him Mr. O'Brien. The Bodagh's a name was first given to his father, an' he bein' a dacenter man, doesn't like it, although it sticks to him; so there's a lift for you, my hip striddled little codger."

"But which is the right door o' the house?"

"There it is, the kitchen--peg in--that's your intrance, barrin' you're a gintleman in disguise, an' if be, why turn out again to that other gate, strip off your shoes, and pass up ginteely on your tipytoes, and give a thunderin' whack to the green ring that's hangin' from the door. But see, friend," added the man, "maybe you'd do one a sarvice?"

"How," said Fardorougha, looking earnestly at him; "what is it?"

"Why, to lave us a lock o' your hair before you go," replied the wag, with a grin.

The miser took no notice whatsoever of this, but was turning quietly out of the yard, to enter by the lawn, when the man called out in a commanding voice--

"Back here, you codger!--tundher an' thump!--back I say! You won't be let in that way--thramp back, you leprechaun, into the kitchen--eh! you won't--well, well, take what you'll get--an' that'll be the way back agin."

'Twas at this moment that the keen eye of Una recognized the features of her lover's father, and a smile, which she felt it impossible to subdue, settled upon her face, which became immediately mantled with blushes. On hurrying out of the room she plucked her brother's sleeve, who followed her to the hall.

"I can scarcely tell you, dear John," she said, speaking rapidly, "it's Fardorougha O'Donovan, Connor's father; as you know his business, John, stay in the parlor;" she squeezed his hand, and added with a smile on her face, and a tear in her eye, "I fear it's all over with me--I don't know whether to laugh or cry--but stay, John dear, an' fight my battle--Una's battle."

She ran upstairs, and immediately one of the most beggarly, sordid, and pusillanimous knocks that ever spoke of starvation and misery was heard at the door.

"I will answer it myself," thought the amiable brother; "for if my father or mother does, he surely will not be allowed in."

John could scarcely preserve a grave face, when Fardorougha presented himself.

"Is Misther O'Brien widin?" inquired the usurer, shrewdly availing himself of the hint he received from the servant.

"My father is," replied John; "have the goodness to step in."

Fardorougha entered immediately, followed by young O'Brien, who said,

"Father, this is Mr. O'Donovan, who, it appears, has some important business with the family."

"Don't be mistherin' me," replied Fardorougha, helping himself to a seat; "I'm too poor to be misthered."

"With this family!" exclaimed the father in amazement; "what business can Fardorougha Donovan have with this family, John?"'

"About our children," replied the miser; "about my son and your daughter."

"An' what about them?" inquired Mrs. O'Brien; "do you dar to mintion them in the same day together?"

"Why not," said the miser; "ay, an' on the same night, too?"

"Upon my reputaytion, Mr. O'Donovan, you're extramely kind--now be a little more so, and let us undherstand you," said the Bodagh.

"Poor Una!" thought John, "all's lost; he will get himself kicked out to a certainty."

"I think it's time we got them married," replied Fardorougha; "the sooner it's done the better, and the safer for both o' them; especially for the colleen."

"Dar a Lorha, he's cracked," said Mrs. O'Brien; "sorra one o' the poor soul but's cracked about his money."

"Poor sowl, woman alive! wor you never poor yourself?"

"Yis I wor; an' I'm not ashamed to own it; but, Chierna, Frank," she added, addressing her husband, "there's no use in spakin' to him."

"Fardorougha," said O'Brien, seriously, "what brought you here?"

"Why, to tell you an' your wife the state that my son, Connor, and your daughter's in about one another; an' to advise you both, if you have sinse, to get them married afore worse happen. It's your business more nor mine."

"You're right," said the Bodagh, aside to his wife; "he's sartinly deranged. Fardorougha," he added, "have you lost any money lately?"

"I'm losin' every day," said the other; "I'm broke assistin' them that won't thank me, let alone paying me as they ought."

"Then you have lost nothing more than usual?"

"If I didn't, I tell you there's a good chance of losin' it before me;--can a man call any money of his safe that's in another man's pocket?"

"An' so you've come to propose a marriage between your son and my daughter, yet you lost no money, an' you're not mad!"

"Divil a morsel o' me is mad--but you'll be so if you refuse to let this match go an."

"Out wid him--a shan roghara," shouted Mrs. O'Brien, in a state of most dignified offence; "Damho orth, you ould knave! is it the son of a miser that has fleeced an' robbed the whole counthry side that we 'ud let our daughther, that resaved the finish to her edication in a Dubling boardin' school, marry wid?--Vic na hoiah this day!"

"You had no sich scruple yourself, ma'am," replied the bitter usurer, "when you bounced at the son of the ould Bodagh Buie, an' every one knows what he was."

"He!" said the good woman; "an' is it runnin' up comparishments betuxt yourself an' him you are afther? Why, Saint Peter wouldn't thrive on your money, you nager."

"Maybe Saint Pethur thruv on worse--but havn't you thruv as well on the Bodagh's, as if it had been honestly come by? I defy you an' the world both--to say that ever I tuck a penny from any one, more than my right. Lay that to the mimory of the ould Bodagh, an' see if it'll fit. It's no light guinea, any how."

Had Fardorougha been a man of ordinary standing and character in the country, from whom an insult could be taken, he would no doubt have been by a very summary process expelled the parlor. The history of his querulous and irascible temper, however, was so well known, and his offensive eccentricity of manner a matter of such established fact, that the father and son, on glancing at each other, were seized with the same spirit, and both gave way to an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

"Is it a laughin' stock you're makin' of' it?" said Mrs. O'Brien, highly indignant.

"Faith, achora, it may be no laughin' stock afther all," replied the Bodagh.

"I think, mother," observed John, "that you and my father had better treat the matter with more seriousness. Connor O'Donovan is a young man not to be despised by any person at all near his own class of life who regards the peace and welfare of a daughter. His character stands very high; indeed, in every way unimpeachable."

The bitter scowl which had sat upon the small dark features of Fardorougha, when replying to the last attack of Mrs. O'Brien, passed away as John spoke. The old man turned hastily around, and, surveying the eulogist of his son, said,

"God bless you, asthore, for thim words! and they're thrue--thrue as the gospel, arrah what are you both so proud of? I defy you to get the aquil of my son in the barony of Lisnamona, either for face, figure or temper! I say he's fit to be a husband for as good a gill as ever stood in your daughter's shoes; an' from what I hear of her, she's as good a girl as ever the Almighty put breath in. God bless you, young man, you're a credit yourself to any parents."

"An' we have nothin' to say aginst your son, nor aginst your wife aither," replied the Bodagh; "an' if your own name was as clear----if you wor looked upon as they are--tut, I'm spakin' nonsense! How do I know whether ever your son and my daughter spoke a word to one another or not?"

"I'll go bail Oona never opened her lips to him," said her mother; "I'll go bail she had more spirit."

"An' I'll go bail she can't live widout him, an' will have him whether you like it or not," said Fardorougha.

"Mother," observed John, "will you and my father come into the next room for a minute--I wish to say a word or two to each of you; and will you, Fardorougha, have the goodness to sit here till we return?"

"Divil a notion," replied O'Donovan, "I have of stirrin' my foot till the thing's settled one way or other."

"Now," said young O'Brien, when they got into the back parlor, "it's right that you both should know to what length the courtship between Una and Connor O'Donovan has gone."

"Coortship! Vich no hoiah! sure she wouldn't go to coort wid the son o' that ould schamer."

"I'm beginning to fear that it's too thrue," observed the Bodagh; "and if she has--but let us hear John."

"It's perfectly true, indeed, mother, that she has," said the son. "Yes, and they are both this moment pledged, betrothed, promised, solemnly promised to each other; and in my opinion the old man within is acting a more honorable part than either of you give him credit for."

"Well, well, well," exclaimed the mother; "who afther that would ever thrust a daughter? The girl that we rared up as tindher as a chicking, to go to throw herself away upon the son of ould Fardorougha Donovan, the misert! Confusion to the ring ever he'll put an her! I'd see her stretched (dead) first."

"I agree with you in that, Bridget," said the husband; "if it was only to punish her thrachery and desate, I'll take good care a ring will never go on them; but how do you know all this, John?"

"From Una's own lips, father."

The Bodagh paced to and fro in much agitation; one hand in his small--clothes pocket, and the other twirling his watch-key as rapidly as he could. The mother, in the meantime, had thrown herself into a chair, and gave way to a violent fit of grief.

"And you have this from Una's own lips?"

"Indeed, father, I have; and it is much to her credit that she was candid enough to place such confidence in her brother."

"Pledged and promised to one another. Bridget, who could believe this?"

"Believe it! I don't believe it--it's only a schame of the hussy to get him. Oh, thin, Queen of Heaven this day, but it's black news to us!"

"John," said the father, "tell Una to come down to us."

"Father, I doubt that's rather a trying task for her. I wish, you wouldn't insist."

"Go off, sir; she must come down immediately, I'll have it from her own lips, too."

Without another word of remonstrance the son went to bring her down. When the brother and sister entered the room, O'Brien still paced the floor. He stood, and, turning his eyes upon his daughter with severe displeasure, was about to speak, but he appeared to have lost the power of utterance; and, after one or two ineffectual attempts, the big tears fairly rolled down his cheeks.

"See, see," said the mother, "see what you have brought us to. Is it thrue that you're promised to Fardorougha's son?"

Una tottered over to a chair, and the blood left her cheeks; her lips became dry, and she gasped for breath.

"Why, don't you think it worth your while to answer me?" continued the mother.

The daughter gave a look of deep distress and supplication at her brother; but when she perceived her father in tears, her head sank down upon her bosom.

"What! what! Una," exclaimed the Bodagh, "Una--" But ere he could complete the question, the timid creature fell senseless upon the floor.

For a long time she lay in that friendly trance, for such, in truth, it was to a delicate being, subjected to an ordeal so painful as that she was called upon to pass through. We have, indeed, remarked that there is in the young, especially in those of the softer sex, a feeling of terror, and shame, and confusion, when called upon by their parents to disclose a forbidden passion, that renders its avowal perhaps the most formidable task which the young heart can undergo. It is a fearful trial for the youthful, and one which parents ought to conduct with surpassing delicacy and tenderness, unless they wish to drive the ingenuous spirit into the first steps of falsehood and deceit.

"Father," said John, "I think you may rest satisfied with what you witness; and I am sure it cannot make you or mother happy to see poor Una miserable."

Una, who had been during the greater part of her swoon supported in her weeping and alarmed mother's arms, now opened her eyes, and, after casting an affrighted look about the room, she hid her face in her mother's bosom, and exclaimed, as distinctly as the violence of sobbing grief would permit her:

"Oh, mother dear, have pity on me! bring me up stairs and I will tell you."

"I do, I do pity you," said the mother, kissing her; "I know you'll be a good girl yet, Oona."

"Una," said her father, placing his hand gently on her shoulder, "was I ever harsh to you, or did I--"

"Father dear," she returned, interrupting him, "I would have told you and my mother, but that I was afraid."

There was something so utterly innocent and artless in this reply, that each of the three persons present felt sensibly affected by its extreme and childlike simplicity.

"Don't be afraid of me, Una," continued the Bodagh, "but answer--me truly, like a good girl, and I swear upon my reputation, that I won't be angry. Do you love the son of this Fardorougha?"

"Not, father, because he's Fardorougha's son," said Una, whose face was still hid in her mother's bosom; "I would rather he wasn't."

"But you do love him?"

"For three years he has scarcely been out of my mind."

Something that might be termed a smile crossed the countenance of the Bodagh at this intimation.

"God help you for a foolish child!" said he; "you're a poor counsellor when left to defend your own cause."

"She won't defend it by a falsehood, at all events," observed her trustworthy and affectionate brother.

"No, she wouldn't," said the mother; "and I did her wrong a while ago, to say that she'd schame anything about it."

"And are you and Connor O'Donovan promised to aich other?" inquired the father again.

"But it wasn't I that proposed the promise," returned Una.

"Oh, the desperate villain," exclaimed her father, "to be guilty of such a thing! but you took the promise Una--you did--you did--I needn't ask."

"No," replied Una.

"No!" reechoed the father; "then you did not give the promise?"

"I mean," she rejoined, "that you needn't ask."

"Oh, faith, that alters the case extremely. Now, Una, this--all this promising that has passed between you and Connor O'Donovan is all folly. If you prove to be the good obedient girl that I hope you are, you'll put him out of your head, and then you can give back to one another whatever promises you made."

This was succeeded by a silence of more than a minute. Una at length arose, and, with a composed energy of manner, that was evident by her sparkling eye and bloodless cheek, she approached her father, and calmly kneeling down, said slowly but firmly:

"Father, if nothing else can satisfy you, I will give back my promise; but then, father, it will break my heart, for I know--I feel--how I love him, and how I am loved by him."

"I'll get you a better husband," replied her father--"far more wealthy and more respectable than he is."

"I'll give back the promise," said she; "but the man is not living, except Connor O'Donovan, that will ever call me wife. More wealthy! more respectable!--Oh, it was only himself I loved. Father, I'm on my knees before you, and before my mother. I have only one request to make--Oh, don't break your daughter's heart!"

"God direct us," exclaimed her mother; "it's hard to know how to act. If it would go so hard upon her, sure--"

"Amen," said her husband; "may God direct us to the best! I'm sure God knows," he continued, now much affected, "that I would rather break my own heart than yours, Una. Get up, dear--rise. John, how would you advise us?"

"I don't see any serious objection, after all," replied the son, "either you or my mother can have to Connor O'Donovan. He is every way worthy of her, if he is equal to his character; and as for wealth, I have often heard it said that his father was a richer man than yourself."

"Afther all," said the mother, "she might be very well wid him."

"I'll tell you what I'll do, then," said the Bodagh--"let us see the ould man himself, and if he settles his son dacently in life, as he can do if he wishes, why, I won't see the poor, foolish, innocent girl breaking her heart."

Una, who had sat with her face still averted, now ran to her father, and, throwing her arms about his neck, wept aloud, but said nothing.

"Ay, ay," said the latter, "it's very fine now that you have everything your own way, you girsha; but, sure, you're all the daughter we have, achora, and it would be too bad not to let you have a little of your own opinion in the choice of a husband. Now go up stairs, or where you please, till we see what can be done with Fardorougha himself."

With smiling face and glistening eyes Una passed out of the room, scarcely sensible whether she walked, ran, or flew, while the others went to renew the discussion with Pardorougha.

"Well," said the miser, "you found out, I suppose, that she can't do widout him?"

"Provided we consent to the marriage," asked the Bodagh, "how will you settle your son in life?"

"Who would I settle in life if I wouldn't settle my only son?" replied the other; "who else is there to get all I have?"

"That's very true," observed the Bodagh; "but state plainly what you'll do for him on his marriage."

"Do you consint to the marriage all of yees?"

"That's not the question," said the other. "Divil a word I'll answer till I know whither yees do or not," said Fardorougha. "Say at once that you consint, and then I'll spake--I'll say what I'll do."

The Bodagh looked inquiringly at his wife and son. The latter nodded affirmatively. "We do consent," he added.

"That shows your own sinse," said the old man. "Now what fortune will you portion your colleen wid?"

"That depinds upon what you'll do for your son," returned the Bodagh.

"And that depinds upon what you'll do for your daughter," replied the sagacious old miser.

"At this rate we're not likely to agree."

"Nothin's asier; you have only to spake out; besides it's your business, bein' the colleen's father."

"Try him, and name something fair," whispered John.

"If I give her a farm of thirty acres of good land, stocked and all, what will you do for Connor?"

"More than that, five times over; I'll give him all I have. An' now when will we marry them? Throth it was best to make things clear," added the knave, "and undherstand one another at wanst. When will we marry them?"

"Not till you say out openly and fairly the exact amount of money you'll lay down on the nail--an' that before even a ring goes upon them."

"Give it up, acushla," said the wife, "you see there's no screwin' a promise out of him, let alone a penny."

"What 'ud yees have me do?" said the old man, raising his voice. "Won't he have all I'm worth? Who else is to have it? Am I to make a beggar of myself to please you? Can't they live on your farm till I die, an' thin it'll all come to them?"

"An' no thanks to you for that, Fardorougha," said the Bodagh. "No, no; I'll never buy a pig in a poke. If you won't act generously by your son, go home, in the name of goodness, and let us hear no more about it."

"Why, why?" asked the miser, "are yees mad to miss what I can leave him? If you knew how much it is, you'd snap--; but God help me! what am I sayin'? I'm poorer than anybody thinks. I am--I am; an' will starve among you all, if God hasn't sed it. Do you think I don't love my son as well, an' a thousand times better, than you do your daughter? God alone sees how my heart's in him--in my own Connor, that never gave me a sore heart--my brave, my beautiful boy!"

He paused, and the scalding tears here ran down his shrunk and furrowed cheeks, whilst he wrung his hands, started to his feet, and looked about him like a man encompassed by dangers that threatened instant destruction.

"If you love your son so well," said John, mildly, "why do you grudge to share your wealth with him? It is but natural and it is your duty."

"Natural! what's natural?--to give away--is it to love him you mane? It is, it's unnatural to give it away. He's the best son--the best--what do you mane, I say?--let me alone--let me alone--I could give him my blood, my blood--to sich a boy; but, you want to kill me--you want to kill me, an' thin you'll get all; but he'll cross you, never fear--my boy will save me--he's not tired of me--he'd give up fifty girls sooner than see a hair of his father's head injured--so do your best, while I have Connor, I'm not afraid of yees. Thanks be to God that sent him!" he exclaimed, dropping suddenly on his knees--"oh, thanks be to God that sent him to comfort an' protect his father from the schames and villainy of them that 'ud bring him to starvation for their own ends!"

"Father," said John, in a low tone, "this struggle between avarice and natural affection is awful. See how his small gray eyes glare, and the froth rises white to his thin shrivelled lips. What is to be done?"

"Fardorougha," said the Bodagh, "it's over; don't distress yourself--keep your money--there will be no match between our childhre."

"Why? why won't there?" he screamed--"why won't there, I say? Havn't you enough for them until I die? Would you see your child breakin' her heart? Bodagh, you have no nather in you--no bowels for your colleen dahs. But I'll spake for her--I'll argue wid you till this time to-morrow, or I'll make you show feelin' to her--an' if you don't--if you don't--"

"Wid the help o' God, the man's as mad as a March hare," observed Mrs. O'Brien, "and there's no use in losin' breath wid him."

"If it's not insanity," said John, "I know not what it is."

"Young man," proceeded Fardorougha, who evidently paid no attention to what the mother and son said, being merely struck by the voice of the latter, "young man, you're kind, you have sinse and feelin'--spake to your father--don't let him destroy his child--don't ax him to starve me, that never did him harm. He loves you--he loves you, for he can't but love you--sure, I know how I love my own darlin' boy. Oh, spake to him--here I go down on my knees to you, to beg, as you hope to see God in heaven, that't you'll make him not break his daughter's heart! She's your own sister--there's but the two of yees, an' oh, don't desart her in this throuble--this heavy, heavy throuble!"

"I won't interfere farther in it," replied the young man, who, however, felt disturbed and anxious in the extreme.

"Mrs. O'Brien," said he, turning imploringly, and with a wild, haggard look to the Bodngh's wifs, "I'm turnin' to you--you're her mother--Oh think, think"--

"I'll think no more about it," she replied. "You're mad, an' thank God, we know it. Of coorse it'll run in the family, for which reasing my daughter 'ill never be joined to the son of a madman."

He then turned as a last resource to O'Brien himself. "Bodagh, Bodagh, I say," here his voice rose to a frightful pitch, "I enthrate, I order, I command you to listen to me! Marry them--don't kill your daughter, an' don't, don't, dare to kill my son. If you do I'll curse you till the marks of your feet will scorch the ground you tread on. Oh," he exclaimed, his voice now sinking, and his reason awaking apparently from exhaustion, "what is come over me? what am I sayin'?--but it's all for my son, my son." He then rose, sat down, and for more than tweny minutes wept like an infant, and sobbed and sighed as if his heart would break.

A feeling very difficult to be described hushed his amazed auditory into silence; they felt something like pity towards the unfortunate old man, as well as respect for that affection which struggled with such moral heroism against the frightful vice that attempted to subdue this last surviving virtue in the breast of the miser.

On his getting calm, they spoke to him kindly, but in firm and friendly terms communicated their ultimate determination, that, in consequence of his declining to make an adequate provision for the son, the marriage could by no means take place. He then got his hat, and attempted to reach the road which led down to the little lawn, but so complete was his abstraction, and so exhausted his faculties, that it was not without John's assistance he could reach the gate which lay before his eyes. He first turned out of the walk to the right, then crossed over to the left, and felt surprised that a wall opposed him in each direction.

"You are too much disturbed," said John, "to perceive the way, but I will show you."

"I suppose I thought it was at home I was," he replied, "bekase at my own house one must turn aither to the right or to the left, as, indeed, I'm in the custom of doin'."

Whilst Fardorougha was engaged upon his ill-managed mission, his wife, who felt that all human efforts at turning the heart of her husband from his wealth must fail, resolved to have recourse to a higher power. With this purpose in view, she put on her Sunday dress, and informed Connor that she was about to go for a short time from home.

"I'll be back if I can," she added, "before your father; and, indeed, it's as good not to let him know anything about it."

"About what, mother? for I know as little about it as he does."

"Why, my dear boy, I'm goin' to get a couple o' masses sed, for God to turn his heart from that cursed airaghid it's fixed upon. Sure it houlds sich a hard grip of his poor sowl, that it'll be the destruction of him here an' hereafther. It'll kill him afore his time, an' then I thrimble to think of his chance above."

"The object is a good one, sure enough, an' it bein' for a spiritual purpose the priest won't object to it."

"Why would he, dear, an' it for the good of his sowl? Sure, when Pat Lanigan was jealous, his wife got three masses sed for him; and, wid the help o' God, he was cured sound and clane."

Connor could not help smiling at this extraordinary cure for jealousy, nor at the simple piety of a heart, the strength of whose affection he knew so well. After her return she informed the son, that, in addition to the masses to be said against his father's avarice, she had some notion of getting another said towards his marriage with Una.

"God help you, mother," said Connor, laughing; "for I think you're one of the innocentest women that ever lived; but whisht!" he added, "here's my father--God grant that he may bring good news!"

When Fardorougha entered he was paler or rather sallower than usual; and, on his thin, puckered face, the lines that marked it were exhibited with a distinctness greater than ordinary. His eyes appeared to have sunk back more deeply into his head; his cheeks had fallen farther into his jaws; his eyes were gleamy and disturbed; and his Whole appearance bespoke trouble and care and the traces of a strong and recent struggle within him.

"Father," said Connor, with a beating heart, "for Heaven's sake, what news--what tidings? I trust in God it's good."

"They have no bowels, Connor--they have no bowels, thim O'Briens."

"Then you didn't succeed."

"The father's as great a bodagh as him he was called after--they're a bad pack--an' you mustn't think of any one belongin'to them."

"But tell us, man dear," said the wife, "what passed--let us know it all."

"Why, they would do nothin'--they wouldn't hear of it. I went on my knees to them--ay, to every one of them, barrin' the colleen herself; but it was all no use--it's to be no match."

"And why, father, did you go on your knees to any of them," said Connor; "I'm sorry you did that."

"I did it on your account, Connor, an' I'd do it again on your account, poor boy."

"Well, well, it can't be helped."

"But tell me, Fardorougha," inquired Honor, "was any of the fault your own--what did you offer to do for Connor?"

"Let me alone," said he, peevishly; "I won't be cross-questioned about it. My heart's broke among you all--what did I offer to do for Connor? The match is knocked up, I tell you--and it must be knocked up. Connor's young, an' it'll be time enough for him to marry this seven years to come."

As he said this, the fire of avarice blazed in his eyes, and he looked angrily at Honor, then at the son; but, while contemplating the latter, his countenance changed from anger to sorrow, and from sorrow to a mild and serene expression of affection.

"Connor, avick," said he, "Connor, sure you'll not blame me in this business? sure you won't blame your poor, heart--broken father, let thim say what they will, sure you won't, avilish?"

"Don't fret on my account, father," said the sonj "why should I blame you? God knows you're strivin' to do what you would wish for me."

"No, Honor, I know he wouldn't; no," he shouted, leaping up, "he wouldn't make a saicrefize o' me! Connor, save me, save me," he shrieked, throwing his arms about his neck; "save me; my heart's breakin'--somethin's tearin' me different ways inside; I can cry, you see; I can cry, but I'm still as hard as a stone; it's terrible this I'm sufferin'--terrible all out for a weak ould man like me. Oh, Connor, avick, what will I do? Honor, achora, what 'ill become o' me--ainn't I strugglin', strugglin' against it, whatever it is; don't yees pity me? Don't ye, avick machree, don't ye, Honor? Oh, don't yees pity me?"

"God pity you!" said the wife, bursting into tears; "what will become of you? Pray to God, Fardorougha, pray to Him. No one alive can change your heart but God. I wint to the priest to-day, to get two masses said to turn your heart from that cursed money. I didn't intind to tell you, but I do, bekase it's your duty to pray now above all times, an' to back the priest as well as you can."

"It's the best advice, father, you could get," said the son, as he helped the trembling old man to his seat.

"An' who bid you thin to go to lavish money that way?" said he, turning snappishly to Honor, and relapsing again into the peevish spirit of avarice; "Saver o' Heaven, but you'll kill me, woman, afore you have done wid me! How can I stand it, to have my hard--earned----an' for what? to turn my heart from money? I don't want to be turned from it--I don't wish it! Money!--I have no money--nothin'--nothin'--an' if there's not better decreed for me, I'll be starved yet--an' is it any wondh'er? to be robbin' me the way you're doin'!"

His wife clasped her hands and looked up towards heaven in silence, and Connor, shaking his head despairingly, passed out to join Flanagan at his labor, with whom he had not spoken that day. Briefly, and with a heavy heart, he communicated to him the unsuccessful issue of his father's interference, and asked his opinion as to how he should conduct himself under circumstances so disastrous to his happiness and prospects. Bartle advised him to seek another interview with Una, and, for that purpose, offered, as before, to ascertain, in the course of that evening, at what time and place she would see him. This suggestion, in itself so natural, was adopted, and as Connor felt, with a peculiar acuteness, the pain of the situation in which he was! placed, he manifested little tendency to conversation, and the evening consequently passed heavily and in silence.

Dusk, however, arrived, and Bartle prepared himself to execute the somewhat difficult commission he had so obligingly undertaken. He appeared, however, to have caught a portion of Connor's despondency, for, when about to set out, he said "that he felt his spirits sunk and melancholy; just," he added, "as if some misfortune, Connor, was afore aither or both of us; for my part I'd stake my life that things will go ashanghran one way or other, an' that you'll never call Una O'Brien your wife."

"Bartle," replied the other, "I only want you to do my message, an' not be prophesyin' ill--bad news comes to soon, without your tellin' us of it aforehand. God knows, Bartle dear, I'm distressed enough as it is, and want my spirits to be kept up rather than put down."

"No, Connor, but you want somethin' to divart your mind off this business altogether, for a while; an' upon my saunies it 'ud be a charity for some friend to give you a fresh piece of fun to think of--so keep up your heart, how do you know but I may do that much for you myself? But I want you to lend me the loan of a pair of shoes; divil a tatther of these will be together soon, barrin' I get them mended in time; you can't begrudge that, any how, an' me wearin' them on your own business."

"Nonsense, man--to be sure I will; stop an' I'll bring them out to you in half a shake."

He accordingly produced a pair of shoes, nearly new, and told Bartle that if he had no objection to accept of them as a present, he might consider them as his own.

This conversation took place in Fardorougha's barn, where Flanagan always slept, and kept his small deal trunk.

He paused a moment when this good--natured offer was made to him; but as it was dark no particular expression could be discovered on his countenance,

"No!" said he vehemently; "may I go to perdition if I ought!--Connor--Connor O' Donovan--you'd turn the div--"

"Halt, Bartle, don't be angry--whin I offered them, I didn't mane to give you the slightest offence; it's enough for you to tell me you won't have them without gettin' into a passion."

"Have what? what are you spakin' about?"

"Why--about the shoes; what else?"

"Yes, faith, sure enough--well, ay, the shoes!--don't think of it, Connor--I'm hasty; too much so, indeed, an' that's my fault. I'm like all good-natured people in that respect; however, I'll borry them for a day or two, till I get my own patched up some way. But, death alive, why did you get at this season o' the year three rows of sparables in the soles o' them?"

"Bekase they last longer, of coorse; and now, Bartle, be off, and don't let the grass grow under your feet till I see you again."

Connor's patience, or rather his impatience, that night, was severely taxed. Hour after hour elapsed, and yet Bartle did not return. At length he went to his father's sleeping-room, and informed him of the message he had sent through Flanagan to Una.

"I will sleep in the barn to-night, father," he added; "an' never fear, let us talk as we may, but we'll be up early enough in the morning, plase God. I couldn't sleep, or go to sleep, till I hear what news he brings back to us; so do you rise and secure the door, an' I'll make my shakedown wid Bartle this night."

The father who never refused him anything unpecuniary (if we may be allowed the word), did as the son requested him, and again went to bed, unconscious of the thundercloud which was so soon to burst upon them both.

Bartle, however, at length returned, and Connor had the satisfaction of hearing that his faithful Una would meet him the next night, if possible, at the hour of twelve o'clock, in her father's haggard. Her parents, it appeared, had laid an injunction upon her never to see him again; she was watched, too, and, unless when the household were asleep, she found it altogether impracticable to effect any appointment whatsoever with her lover. She could not even promise with certainty to meet him on that night, but she desired him to come, and if she failed to be punctual, not to leave the place of appointment for an hour. After that, if she appeared not, then he was to wait no longer. Such was the purport of the message which Flanagan delivered him.

Flanagan was the first up the next morning, for the purpose of keeping an appointment which he had with Biddy Neil, whom we have already introduced to the reader. On being taxed with meanness by this weak but honest creature, for having sought service with the man who had ruined his family, he promised to acquaint her with the true motive which had induced him to enter into Fardorougha's employment. Their conversation on this point, however, was merely a love scene, in which Bartle satisfied the credulous girl, that to an attachment for herself of some months' standing, might be ascribed his humiliation in becoming a servant to the oppressor and destroyer of his house. He then passed from themselves and their prospects to Connor and Una O'Brien, with whose attachment for each other, as the reader knows, he was first made acquainted by his fellow-servant.

"It's terrible, Biddy," said he, "to think of the black and revengeful heart that Connor bears to Bodagh Buie and his family merely bekase they rufuse to let him marry Una. I'm afeard, Biddy darlin', that there'll be dark work about it on Connor's side; an' if you hear of anything bad happenin' to the Bodagh, you'll know where it comes from."

"I don't b'lieve it, Bartle, nor I won't b'lieve it--not, any way, till I hear that it happens. But what is it he intends to do to them?"

"That's more than I know myself," replied Bartle; "I axed as much, an' he said till it was done nobody would be the wiser."

"That's quare," said the girl, "for a better heart than Connor has, the Saver o' the world never made."

"You think so, agra, but wait; do you watch, and you'll find that he don't come in to-night. I know nothin' myself of what he's about, for he's as close as his father's purse, an' as deep as a draw--well; but this I know, that he has black business on his hands, whatever it is. I trimble to think of it!"

Flanagan then got tender, and, after pressing his suit with all the eloquence he was master of, they separated, he to his labor in the fields, and she to her domestic employment, and the unusual task of watching the motions of her master's son.

Flanagan, in the course of the day, suggested to Connor the convenience of sleeping that night also in the barn. The time of meeting, he said was too late, and his father's family, who were early in their hours, both night and morning, would be asleep even before they set out. He also added, that lest any of the O'Briens or their retainers should surprise him and Una, he had made up his mind to accompany him, and act as a vidette during their interview.

Connor felt this devotion of Bartle to his dearest interests, as every grateful and generous heart would.

"Bartle," said he, "when we are married, if it's ever in my power to make you aisy in life, may I never prosper if I don't do it! At all events, in some way I'll reward you."

"If you're ever able, Connor, I'll have no objection to be behoulden to you; that is, if you're ever able, as you say."

"And if there's a just God in heaven, Bartle, who sees my heart, however things may go against me for a time, I say I will be able to sarve you, or any other friend that desarves it. But about sleepin' in to-night--coorse I wouldn't be knockin' up my father, and disturbin' my poor mother for no rason; so, of coorse, as I said, I'll sleep in the barn; it makes no difference one way or other."

"Connor," said Flanagan, with much solemnity, "if Bodagh Buie's wise, he'll marry you and his daughter as fast as he can."

"An' why, Bartle?"

"Why, for rasons you know nothin' about. Of late he's got very much out o' favor, in regard of not comin' in to what people wish."

"Speak plainer, Bartle; I'm in the dark now."

"There's work goin' on in the counthry, that you and every one like you ought to be up to; but you know nothin', as I said, about it. Now Bodagh Buie, as far as I hear--for I'm in the dark myself nearly as much as you--Bodagh Buie houlds out against them; an' not only that, I'm tould, but gives them hard words, an' sets them at defiance."

"But what has all this to do with me marrying his daughter?"

"Why, he wants some one badly to stand his friend wid them; an' if you were married to her, you should on his account become one o' thim; begad, as it is, you ought, for to tell the truth there's talk--strong talk too--about payin' him a nightly visit that mayn't sarve him."

"Then, Bartle, you're consarned in this business."

"No, faith, not yet; but I suppose I must, if I wish to be safe in the counthry; an' so must you too, for the same rason."

"And, if not up, how do you know so much about it?"

"From one o' themselves, that wishes the! Bodagh well; ay, an' let me tell you, he's a marked man, an' the night was appointed to visit him; still it was put back to thry if he could be managed, but he couldn't; an' all I know about it is that the time to remimber him is settled, an' he's to get it, an', along wid other things, he'll be ped for turnin' off--however, I can't say any more about that."

"How long is it since you knew this?"

"Not long--only since last night, or you'd a got it before this. The best way, I think, to put him on his guard 'ud be to send him a scrape of a line wid no name to it."

"Bartle," replied Connor, "I'm as much behoulden to you for this, as if it had been myself or my father that was marked. God knows you have a good heart, an' if you don't sleep sound, I'm at a loss to know who ought."

"But it's hard to tell who has a good heart, Connor; I'd never say any one has till I'd seen them well thried."

At length the hour for setting out arrived, and both, armed with good oaken cudgels proceeded to Bodagh Buie's haggard, whither they arrived a little before the appointed hour. An utter stillness prevailed around the place--not a dog barked--not a breeze blew, nor did a leaf move on its stem, so calm and warm was the night. Neither moon nor stars shone in the firmament, and the darkness seemed kindly to throw its dusky mantle over this sweet and stolen interview of our young lovers. As yet, however, Una had not come, nor could Connor, on surveying the large massy farm--house of the Bodagh, perceive any appearance of light, or hear a single sound, however faint, to break the stillness in which it slept. Bartle, immediately after their arrival in the haggard, separated from his companion, in order, he said, to give notice of interruption, should Una be either watched or followed.

"Besides, you know," he added, "sweethearts like nobody to be present but themselves, when they do be spakin' soft to one another. So I'll just keep dodgin' about, from place to place wid my eye an' ear both open, an' if any intherloper comes I'll give yees the hard word."

Heavily and lazily creep those moments during which an impatient lover awaits the approach of his mistress; and woe betide the wooer of impetuous temperament who is doomed, like our hero, to watch a whole hour and a half in vain. Many a theory did his fancy body forth, and many a conjecture did he form, as to the probable cause of her absence. Was it possible that they watched her even in the dead hour of night? Perhaps the grief she felt at her father's refusal to sanction the match had brought on indisposition; and--oh, harrowing thought!--perhaps they had succeeded in prevailing upon her to renounce him and his hopes forever. But no; their affection was too pure and steadfast to admit of a supposition so utterly unreasonable. What, then, could have prevented her from keeping an appointment so essential to their future prospects, and to the operations necessary for them to pursue? Some plan of intercourse--some settled mode of communication must be concerted between them; a fact as well known to herself as to him.

"Well, well," thought he, "whatever's the reason of her not coming, I'm sure the fault is not hers; as it is, there's no use in waitin' this night any longer."

Flanagan, it appeared, was of the same opinion, for in a minute or two he made his appearance, and urged their return home. It was clear, he said, that no interview could take place that night, and the sooner they reached the barn and got to bed the better.

"Folly me," he added; "we can pass through the yard, cross the road before the hall-door, and get over the stile, by the near way through the fields that's behind the orchard."

Connor, who was by no means so well acquainted with the path as his companion, followed him in the way pointed out, and in a few minutes they found themselves walking at a brisk pace in a direction that led homewards by a shorter cut. Connor's mind was too much depressed for conversation, and both were proceeding in silence, when Flanagan started in alarm, and pointed out the figure of some one walking directly towards them. In less than a minute the person, whoever he might be, had come within speaking distance, and, as he shouted "Who comes there?" Flanagan bolted across the ditch, along which they had been going, and disappeared. "A friend," returned Connor, in reply to the question.

The other man advanced, and, with a look of deep scrutiny, peered into his face. "A friend," he exclaimed; "faith, it's, a quare hour for a friend to be out. Who are you, eh? Is this Connor O'Donovan?"

"It is; but you have the advantage of me."

"If your father was here he would know Phil Curtis, any way.''

"I ought to 'a known the voice myself," said Connor; "Phil, how are you? an' what's bringin' yourself out at this hour?"

"Why, I want to buy a couple o' milk cows in the fair o' Kilturbit, an' I'm goin' to catch my horse, an' make ready. It's a stiff ride from this, an' by the time I'm there it I'll be late enough for business, I'm thinkin'. There was some one wid you; who was it?"

"Come, come," said Connor, good--humoredly, "he was out coortin', and doesn't wish to be known; and Phil, as you had the luck to meet me, I beg you, for Heaven's sake, not to breathe that you seen me near Bodagh Buie's to-night; I have various reasons for it."

"It's no secret to me as it is," replied Curtis; "half the parish knows it; so make your mind asy on that head. Good night, Connor! I wish you success, anyhow; you'll be a happy man if you get her; although, from what I hear has happened, you have a bad chance, except herself stands to you."

The truth was, that Fardorougha's visit to the Bodagh, thanks to the high tones of his own shrill voice, had drawn female curiosity, already suspicious of the circumstances, to the keyhole of the parlor-door, where the issue and object of the conference soon became known. In a short time it had gone among the servants, and from them was transmitted, in the course of that and the following day, to the tenants and day-laborers! who contrived to multiply it with such effect, that, as Curtis said, it was indeed no secret to the greater part of the parish.

Flanagan soon rejoined Connor, who, on taxing him with his flight, was informed, with an appearance of much regret, that a debt of old standing due to Curtis had occasioned it.

"And upon my saunies, Connor, I'd rather any time go up to my neck in wather than meet a man that I owe money to, whin I can't pay him. I knew Phil very well, even before he spoke, and that was what made me cut an' run."

"What!" said Connor, looking towards the east, "can it be day-light so soon?"

"Begad, it surely cannot," replied his companion.

"Holy mother above us, what is this?"

Both involuntarily stood to contemplate the strange phenomenon which presented itself to their observation; and, as it was certainly both novel and startling in its appearance, we shall pause a little to describe it more minutely.

The night, as we have already said, was remarkably dark, and warm to an unusual degree. To the astonishment, however, of our two travellers, a gleam of light, extremely faint, and somewhat resembling that which precedes the rising of a summer sun, broke upon their path, and passed on in undulating sweeps for a considerable space before them. Connor had scarcely time to utter the exclamation just alluded to, and Flanagan to reply to him, when the light around them shot farther into the distance and deepened from its first pale hue into a rich and gorgeous purple. Its effect, however, was limited within a circle of about a mile, for they could observe that it got faint gradually, from the centre to the extreme verge, where it melted into utter darkness.

"They must mean something extraordinary," said Connor; "whatever it is, it appears to be behind the hill that divides us from Bodagh's Buie's house. Blessed earth! it looks as if the sky was on fire!"

The sky, indeed, presented a fearful but sublime spectacle. One spot appeared to glow with the red-white heat of a furnace, and to form the centre of a fiery cupola, from which the flame was flung in redder and grosser masses, that darkened away into wild and dusky indistinctness, in a manner that corresponded with the same light, as it danced in red and frightful mirth upon the earth. As they looked, the cause of this awful phenomenon soon became visible. From behind the hill was seen a thick shower of burning particles rushing up into the mid air, and presently the broad point of a huge pyramid of fire, wavering in terrible and capricious power, seemed to disport itself far up in the very depths of the glowing sky. On looking again upon the earth they perceived that this terrible circle was extending itself over a wider circumference of country, marking every prominent object around them with a dark blood--red tinge, and throwing those that were more remote into a visionary but appalling relief.

"Dhar Chriestha," exclaimed Flanagan, "I have it; thim I spoke about has paid Bodagh Buie the visit they promised him."

"Come round the hip o' the hill," said Connor, "till we see where it really is; but I'll tell you what, Bartle, if you be right, woe betide you! all the water in Europe wouldn't wash you free in my mind, of being connected in this same Ribbon business that's spreading through the country. As sure as that sky--that fearful sky's above us, you must prove to me and other's how you came to know that this hellish business was to take place. God of heaven! let us run--surely it couldn't be the dwelling-house!"

His speed was so great that Bartle could find neither breath nor leisure to make any reply.

"Thank God!" he exclaimed; "oh, thank God it's not the house, and there lives are safe! but blessed Father, there's the man's whole haggard in flames!"

"Oh, the netarnal villains!" was the simple exclamation of Flanagan.

"Bartle," said his companion, "you heard what I said this minute?"

Their eyes met as he spoke, and for the first time O'Donovan was struck by the pallid malignity of his features. The servant gazed steadily upon him, his lips slightly but firmly drawn back, and his eye, in which was neither sympathy nor alarm, charged with the spirit of a cool and devilish triumph.

Connor's blazed at the bare idea of his villainy, and, in a fit of manly and indignant rage, he seized Flanagan and hurled him headlong to the earth at his feet. "You have hell in your face, you villain!" he exclaimed; "and if I thought that--if I did--I'd drag you down like a dog, an' pitch you head--foremost into the flames!"

Bartle rose, and, in a voice wonderfully calm, simply observed, "God knows, Connor, if I know either your heart or mine, you'll be sorry for this treatment you've given me for no rason. You know yourself that, as soon as I heard anything of the ill-will against the Bodagh, I tould it to you, in ordher--mark that--in ordher that you might let him know it the best way you thought proper; an' for that you've knocked me down!"

"Why, I believe you may be right, Bartle--there's truth in that--but I can't forgive you the look you gave me."

"That red light was in my face, maybe; I'm sure if that wasn't it, I can't tell--I was myself wonderin' at your own looks, the same way; but then it was that quare light that was in your face."

"Well, well, maybe I'm wrong--I hope I am. Do you think we could be of any use there?"

"Of use! an' how would we account for being there at all, Connor? how would you do it, at any rate, widout maybe bringin' the girl into blame?"

"You're right agin, Bartle; I'm not half so cool as you are; our best plan is to go home--"

"And go to bed; it is; an' the sooner we're there the better; sowl, Connor, you gev me a murdherin' crash."

"Think no more of it--think no more of it--I'm not often hasty, so you must overlook it."

It was, however, with an anxious and distressed heart that Connor O'Donovan reached his father's barn, where, in the same bed with Flanagan, he enjoyed, towards morning, a brief and broken slumber that brought back to his fancy images of blood and fire, all so confusedly mingled with Una, himself, and their parents, that the voice of his father calling upon them to rise, came to him as a welcome and manifest relief.

At the time laid in this story, neither burnings nor murders were so familiar nor patriotic, as the fancied necessity of working out political progress has recently made them. Such atrocities, in these bad and unreformed days, were certainly looked upon as criminal, rather than meritorious, however unpatriotic it may have been to form so erroneous an estimate of human villainy. The consequence of all this was, that the destruction of Bodagh Buie's property created a sensation in the country, of which, familiarized as we are to such crimes, we can entertain but a very faint notion. In three days a reward of five hundred pounds, exclusive of two hundred from government, was offered for such information as might bring the incendiary, or incendiaries, to justice. The Bodagh and his family were stunned as much with amazement at the occurrence of a calamity so incomprehensible to them, as with the loss they had sustained, for that indeed was heavy. The man was extremely popular, and by many acts of kindness had won the attachment and goodwill of all who knew him, either personally or by character. How, then, account for an act so wanton and vindictive? They could not understand it; it was not only a--crime, but a crime connected with some mysterious motive, beyond their power to detect.

But of all who became acquainted with the outrage, not one sympathized more sincerely and deeply with O'Brien's family than did Connor O'Donovan; although, of course, that sympathy was unknown to those for whom it was felt. The fact was, that his own happiness became, in some degree, involved in their calamity; and, as he came in to breakfast on the fourth morning of its occurrence, he could not help observing as much to his mother. His suspicions of Flanagan, as to possessing some clue to the melancholy business, were by no means removed. On the contrary, he felt that he ought to have him brought before the bench of magistrates who were conducting the investigation from day to day, and, with this determination, he himself resolved to state fully and candidly to the bench, all the hints which had transpired from Flanagan respecting the denunciations said to be held out against O'Brien and the causes assigned for them. Breakfast was now ready, and Fardorougha himself entered, uttering petulant charges of neglect and idleness against his servant.

"He desarves no breakfast," said he; "not a morsel; it's robbin' me by his idleness and schaming he is. What is he doin', Connor? or what has become of him? He's not in the field nor about the place."

Connor paused.

"Why, now that I think of it, I didn't see him to-day," he replied; "I thought that he was mendin' the slap at the Three-Acres. I'll thry if he's in the barn."

And he went accordingly to find him. "I'm afraid, father," said he, on his return, "that Bartle's a bad boy, an' a dangerous one; he's not in the barn, an' it appears, from the bed, that he didn't sleep there last night. The truth is, he's gone; at laste he has brought all his clothes, his box, an' everything with him; an' what's more, I suspect the reason of it; he thinks he has let out too much to me; an' it 'ill go hard but I'll make him let out more."

The servant-maid, Biddy, now entered and informed them that four men, evidently strangers, were approaching the house from the rear, and ere she could add anything further on the subject, two of them walked in, and, seizing Connor, informed him that he was their prisoner.

"Your prisoner!" exclaimed his mother, getting pale; "why, what could our poor boy do to make him your prisoner? He never did hurt or harm to the child unborn."

Fardorougha's keen gray eye rested sharply upon them for a moment; it then turned to Honor, afterwards to Connor, and again gleamed bitterly at the intruders--"What is this?" said he, starting up; "what is this? you don't mane to rob us?"

"I think," said the son, "you must be undher a mistake; you surely can have no business with me. It's very likely you want some one else."

"What is your name?" inquired he who appeared to be the principal of them.

"My name is Connor O'Donovan; an' I know no reason why I should deny it."

"Then you are the very man we come for," said the querist, "so you had better prepare to accompany us; in the mean time you must excuse us if we search your room. This is unpleasant, I grant, but we have no discretion, and must perform our duty."

"What do you want in this room?" said Fardorougha; "it's robbery you're on for--it's robbery you're on for--in open daylight, too; but you're late; I lodged the last penny yesterday; that's one comfort; you're late--you're late."

"What did my boy do?" exclaimed the affrighted mother; "what did he do that you come to drag him away from us?"

This question she put to the other constable, the first having entered her son's bedroom.

"I am afraid, ma'am, you'll know it too soon," replied the man; "it's a heavy charge if it proves to be true."

As he spoke his companion re-entered the apartment, with Connor's Sunday coat in his hand, from the pocket of which he drew a steel and tinder-box.

"I'm sorry for this," he observed; "it corroborates what has been sworn against you by your accomplice, and here, I fear, comes additional proof."

At the same moment the other two made their appearance, one of them holding in his hand the shoes which Connor had lent to Flanagan, and which he wore on the night of the conflagration.

On seeing this, and comparing the two circumstances together, a fearful light broke on the unfortunate young man, who had already felt conscious of the snare into which he had fallen. With an air of sorrow and manly resignation he thus addressed his parents:--

"Don't be alarmed; I see that there is an attempt made to swear away my life; but, whatever happens, you both know that I am innocent of doin' an injury to any one. If I die, I would rather die innocent than live as guilty as he will that must have my blood to answer for."

His mother, on hearing this, ran to him, and with her arms about his neck, exclaimed,

"Die! die! Connor darlin'--my brave boy--my only son--why do you talk about death? What is it for? what is it about? Oh, for the love of God, tell us what did our boy do?"

"He is charged by Bartle Flanagan," replied one of the constables, "with burning Bodagh Buie O'Brien's haggard, because he refused him his daughter. He must now come with us to jail."

"I see the whole plot," said Connor, "and a deep one it is; the villain will do his worst; still I can't but have dependence upon justice and my own innocence. I can't but have dependence upon God, who knows my heart." _

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