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Fardorougha, The Miser, a novel by William Carleton

Part 4

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Fardorougha stood amazed and confounded, looking from one to another like a man who felt incapable of comprehending all that had passed before him. His forehead, over which fell a few gray thin locks, assumed a deadly paleness, and his eye lost the piercing expression which usually characterized it. He threw his Cothamore several times over his shoulders, as he had been in the habit of doing when about to proceed after breakfast to his usual avocations, and as often laid it aside, without being at all conscious of what he did. His limbs appeared to get feeble, and his hands trembled as if he labored under palsy. In this mood he passed from one to another, sometimes seizing a constable by the arm with a hard, tremulous grip, and again suddenly letting go his hold of him without speaking. At length a singular transition from this state of mind became apparent; a gleam of wild exultation shot from his eye; his sallow and blasted features brightened; the Cothamore was buttoned under his chin with a rapid energy of manner evidently arising from the removal of some secret apprehension.

"Then," he exclaimed, "it's no robbery; it's not robbery afther all; but how could it? there's no money here; not a penny; an' I'm belied, at any rate; for there's not a poorer man in the barony--thank God, it's not robbery!"

"Oh, Fardorougha," said the wife, "don't you see they're goin' to take him away from us?"

"Take who away from us?"

"Connor, your own Connor--our boy--the light of my heart--the light of his poor mother's heart! Oh, Connor, Connor, what is it they're goin' to do to you?"

"No harm, mother, I trust; no harm--don't be frightened."

The old man put his open hands to his temples, which he pressed bitterly, and with all his force, for nearly half a minute. He had, in truth, been alarmed into the very worst mood of his habitual vice, apprehension concerning his money; and felt that nothing, except a powerful effort, could succeed in drawing his attention to the scene which was passing before him.

"What," said he; "what is it that's wrong wid Connor?"

"He must come to jail," said one of the men, looking at him with surprise; "we have already stated the crime for which he stands committed."

"To jail! Connor O'Donovan to jail!"

"It's too true, father; Bartle Flanagan has sworn that I burned Mr. O'Brien's haggard."

"Connor, Connor," said the old man, approaching him as he spoke, and putting his arms composedly about his neck, "Connor, my brave boy, my brave boy, it wasn't you did it; 'twas I did it," he added, turning to the constables; "lave him, lave him wid her, an' take me in his place! Who would if I would not--who ought, I say--an' I'll do it--take me; I'll go in his place."

Connor looked down upon the old man, and as he saw his heart rent, and his reason absolutely tottering, a sense of the singular and devoted affection which he had ever borne him, overcame him, and with a full heart he dashed away a tear from his eye, and pressed his father to his breast.

"Mother," said he; "this will kill the old man; it will kill him!"

"Fardorougha, a hagur," said Ha wife, feeling it necessary to sustain him as much as possible, "don't take it so much to heart, it won't signify--Connor's innocent, an' no harm will happen to him!"

"But are you lavin' us, Connor? are they--must they bring you to jail?"

"For a while, father; but I won't be long there I hope."

"It's an unpleasant duty on our part," said the principal of them; "still it's one we must perform. Your father should lose no time in taking the proper steps for your defence."

"And what are we to do?" asked the mother; "God knows the boy's as innocent as I am."

"Yes," said Fardorougha, still upon dwelling the resolution he had made; "I'll go stand for you, Connor; you won't let them bring me instead of you."

"That's out of the question," replied the constable; "the law suffers nothing of the kind to take place; but if you will be advised by me, lose no time in preparing to defend him. It would be unjust to disguise the matter from you, or to keep you ignorant of its being a case of life and death."

"Life and death! what do you mane?" asked Fardorougha, staring vacantly at the last speaker.

"It's painful to distress you; but if he's found guilty, it's death."

"Death! hanged!" shrieked the old man, awaking as it were for the first time to a full perception of his son's situation; "hanged! my boy hanged! Connor, Connor, don't go from me!"

"I'll die wid him," said the mother; "I'll die wid you, Connor. We couldn't live widout him," she added, addressing the strangers; "as God is in heaven we couldn't! Oh Connor, Connor, avourneen, what is it that has come over us, and brought us to this sorrow?"

The mother's grief then flowed on, accompanied by a burst of that unstudied, but pathetic eloquence, which in Ireland is frequently uttered in the tone of wail and lamentation peculiar to those who mourn over the dead.

"No," she added, with her arms tenderly about him, and her streaming eyes fixed with a wild and mournful look of despair upon his face; "no, he is in his loving mother's arms, the boy that never gave to his father or me a harsh word or a sore heart! Long were we lookin' for him, an' little did we think it was for this heavy fate that the goodness of God sent him to us! Oh, many a look of lovin' affection, many a happy heart did he give us! Many a time Connor, avillish, did I hang over your cradle, and draw out to myself the happiness and the good that I hoped was before you. You wor too good--too good, I doubt--to be long in such a world as this, an' no wondher that the heart of the fair young colleen, the heart of the Colleen dhas dhun should rest upon you and love you; for who ever knew you that didn't? Isn't there enough, King of heaven! enough of the bad an' the wicked in this world for the law to punish, an' not to take the innocent--not to take away from us the only one--the only one--I can't--I can't--but if they do--Connor--if they do, your lovin' mother will die wid you!"

The stern officers of justice wiped their eyes, and were proceeding to afford such consolation as they could, when Fardorougha, who had sat down after having made way for Honor to recline on the bosom of their son, now rose, and seizing the breast of his coat, was about to speak, but ere he could utter a word he tottered, and, would have instantly fallen, had not Connor caught him in his arms. This served for a moment to divert the mother's grief, and to draw her attention from the son to the husband, who was now insensible. He was carried to the door by Connor; but when they attempted to lay him in a recumbent posture, it was found almost impossible to unclasp the deathlike grip which he held of the coat. His haggard face was shrunk and collapsed; the individual features sharp and thin, but earnest and stamped with traces of alarm; his brows, too, which were slightly knit, gave to his whole countenance a character of keen and painful determination. But that which struck those who were present, most, was the unyielding grasp with which he clung even in his insensibility to the person of Connor.

If not an affecting sight, it was one at least strongly indicative of the intractable and indurated attachment which put itself forth with such vague and illusive energy on behalf of his son. At length he recovered, and on opening his eyes he fixed them with a long look of pain and distraction upon the boy's countenance.

"Father," said Connor, "don't be cast down--you need not--and you ought not to be so much disheartened--do you feel better?"

When the father heard his voice he smiled; yes--his shrunk, pale, withered face was lit up by a wild, indescribable ecstasy, whose startling expression waa borrowed, one would think, as much from the light of insanity as from that of returning consciousness. He sucked in his thin cheeks, smacked his parched, skinny lips, and with difficulty called for drink. Having swallowed a little water, he looked round him with more composure, and inquired--

"What has happened me? am I robbed? are you robbers? But I tell you there's no money in the house. I lodged the last penny yesterday--afore my God I did--but--oh, what am I sayin'? what is this, Connor?"

"Father dear, compose yourself--we'll get over this throuble."

"We will, darlin'," said Honor, wiping the pale brows of her husband; "an' we won't lose him."

"No, achora," said the old man; "no, we won't lose him! Connor?"

"Well, father dear!"

"There's a thing here--here"--and he placed his hand upon his heart--"something it is that makes me afeard--a sinkin'--a weight--and there's a strugglin', too, Connor. I know I can't stand it long--an' it's about you--it's all about you."

"You distress yourself too much, father; indeed you do. Why, I hoped that you would comfort my poor mother till I come back to her and you, as I will, plase God."

"Yes," he replied; "yes, I will, I will."

"You had better prepare," said one of the officers; "the sooner this is over the better--he's a feeble man and not very well able to bear it."

"You are right," said Connor; "I won't delay many minutes; I have only to change my clothes, an' I am ready."

In a short time he made his appearance dressed in his best suit; and, indeed, it would be extremely difficult to meet, in any rank of life, a finer specimen of vigor, activity, and manly beauty. His countenance, at all times sedate and open, was on this occasion shaded by an air of profound melancholy that gave a composed grace and dignity to his whole bearing.

"Now, father," said he, "before I go, I think it right to lave you and my poor mother all the consolation I can. In the presence of God, in yours, in my dear mother's, and in the presence of all who hear me, I am as innocent of the crime that's laid to my charge as the babe unborn. That's a comfort for you to know, and let it prevent you from frettin'; and now, good by; God be with you, and strengthen, and support you both!"

Fardorougha had already seized his hand; but the old man could neither speak nor weep; his whole frame appeared to have been suddenly pervaded by a dry agony that suspended the beatings of his very heart. The mother's grief, on the contrary, was loud, and piercing, and vehement. She threw herself once more upon his neck; she kissed his lips, she pressed him to her heart, and poured out as before the wail of a wild and hopeless misery. At length, by the aid of some slight but necessary force, her arms were untwined from about his neck; and Connor then, stooping, embraced his father, and, gently placing him on a settle--bed, bade him farewell! On reaching the door he paused, and, turning about, surveyed his mother struggling in the hands of one of the officers to get embracing him again, and his gray--haired father sitting in speechless misery on the settle. He stood a moment to look upon them, and a few bitter tears rolled, in the silence of manly sorrow, down his cheeks.

"Oh, Fardorougha!" exclaimed his mother, after they had gone, "sure it isn't merely for partin' wid him that we feel so heart--broken. He may never stand under this roof again, an' he all we have and had to love!"

"No," returned Fardorougha, quietly; "no, it's not, as you say, for merely partin' wid him--hanged! God! God! Mm--here--Honor--here, the thought of it--I'll die--it'll break! Oh, God support me! my heart--here--my heart'll break! My brain, too, and my head--oh! if God 'ud take me before I'd see it! But it can't be--it's not possible that our innocent boy should meet sich a death!"

"No, dear, it is not; sure he's innocent--that's one comfort; but, Fardorougha, as the men said, you must go to a lawyer and see what can be done to defind him."

The old man rose up and proceeded to his son's bedroom.

"Honor," said he, "come here;" and while uttering these words he gazed upon her face with a look of unutterable and hopeless distress; "there's his bed, Honor--his bed--he may never sleep on it more--he may be cut down like a flower in his youth--an' then what will become of us?"

"Forever, from this day out," said the distracted mother, "no hands will ever make it but my own; on no other will I sleep--we will both sleep--where his head lay there will mine be too--avick machree--machree! Och, Fardorougha, we can't stand this; let us not take it to heart, as we do; let us trust in God, an' hope for the best."

Honor, in fact, found it necessary to assume the office of a comforter; but it was clear that nothing urged or suggested by her could for a moment win back the old man's heart from the contemplation of the loss of his son. He moped about for a considerable time; but, ever and anon, found himself in Connor's bedroom, looking upon his clothes and such other memorials of him as it contained.

During the occurrence of these melancholy incidents at Fardorougha's, others of a scarcely less distressing character were passing under the roof of Bodagh Buie O'Brien.

Our readers need not be informed that the charge brought by Bartle Flanagan against Connor, excited the utmost amazement in all who heard it. So much at variance were his untarnished reputation and amiable manners with a disposition so dark and malignant as that which must have prompted the perpetration of such a crime, that it was treated at first by the public as an idle rumor. The evidence, however, of Phil Curtis, and his deposition to the conversation which occurred between him and Connor, at the time and place already known to the reader, together with the corroborating circumstances arising from the correspondence of the footprints about the haggard with the shoes produced by the constable--all, when combined together, left little doubt of his guilt. No sooner had this impression become general, than the spirit of the father was immediately imputed to the son, and many sagacious observations made, all tending to show, that, as they expressed it, "the bad drop of the old rogue would sooner or later come out in the young one;" "he wouldn't be what he was, or the bitter heart of the miser would appear;" with many other apothegms of similar import. The family of the Bodagh, however, were painfully and peculiarly circumstanced. With the exception of Una herself, none of them entertained a doubt that Connor was the incendiary. Flanagan had maintained a good character, and his direct impeachment of Connor, supported by such exact circumstantial evidence, left nothing to be urged in the young man's defence. Aware as they were of the force of Una's attachment, and apprehensive that the shock, arising from the discovery of his atrocity, might be dangerous if injudiciously disclosed to her, they resolved, in accordance with the suggestion of their son, to break the matter to herself with the utmost delicacy and caution.

"It is better," said John, "that she should hear of the misfortune from ourselves; for, after breaking it to her as gently as possible, we can at least attempt to strengthen and console her under it."

"Heaven above sees," exclaimed his mother, "that it was a black and unlucky business to her and to all of us; but now that she knows what a revingeful villain he is, I'm sure she'll not find it hard to banish him out of her thoughts. Deah Grasthias for the escape she had from him at any rate!"

"John, bring her in," said the father; "bring the unfortunate young crature in. I can't but pity her, Bridget; I can't but pity ma colleen voghth."

When Una entered with her brother she perceived by a glance at the solemn bearing of her parents, that some unhappy announcement was about to be made to her. She sat down, therefore, with a beating heart and a cheek already pale with apprehension.

"Una," said her father, "we sent for you to mention a circumstance that we would rather you should hear from ourselves than from strangers. You were always a good girl, Una--an' obadient girl, and sensible beyant your years; and I trust that your good sinse and the grace of the Almighty will enable you to bear up undher any disappointment that may come upon you."

"Surely, father, there can be nothing worse than I know already," she replied.

"Why, what do you know, dear?"

"Only what you told me the day Fardorougha was here, that nothing agreeable to my wishes could take place."

"I would give a great deal that the business was now as it was even then," responded her father; "there's far worse to come, Una, an' you must be firm, an' prepare to hear what'll thry you sorely."

"I can't guess it, father; but for God's sake tell me at once."

"Who do you think burned our property?"

"And I suppose if she hadn't been undher the one roof wid us that it's ourselves he'd burn," observed her mother.

"Father, tell me the worst at once--whatever it may be;--how could I guess the villain or villains who destroyed our property?"

"Villain, indeed! you may well say so," returned the Bodagh. "That villain is no other than Connor O'Donovan!"

Una felt as if a weighty burden had been removed from her heart; she breathed freely; her depression and alarm vanished, and her dark eye kindled into proud confidence in the integrity of her lover.

"And, father," she asked, in a full and firm voice, "is there nothing worse than that to come?"

"Worse! is the girl's brain turned?"

"Dhar a Lhora Heena, she's as mad I believe as ould Fardorougha himself," said the mother; "worse! why, she has parted wid all the reasing she ever had."

"Indeed, mother, I hope I have not, and that my reason's as clear as ever; but, as to Connor O'Donovan, he's innocent of that charge, and of every other that may be brought against him; I don't believe it, and I never will."

"It's proved against him; it's brought, home to him."

"Who's his accuser?"

"His father's servant, Bartle Flanagan, has turned king's evidence."

"The deep-dyed villain!" she exclaimed, with indignation; "father, of that crime, so sure as God's in heaven, so sure is Connor O'Donovan innocent, and so sure is Bartle Flanagan guilty--I know it."

"You know it--explain yourself."

"I mean I feel it--ay, home to the core of my heart--my unhappy heart--I feel the truth of what I say."

"Una," observed her brother, "I'm afraid you have been vilely deceived by him--there's not the slightest doubt of his guilt."

"Don't you be deceived, John; I say he's innocent--as I hope for heaven he's innocent; and, father, I'm not a bit cast down or disheartened by anything I have yet heard against him."

"You're a very extraordinary girl, Una; but for my part I'm glad you look upon it as you do. If his innocence appears, no man alive will be better plazed at it than myself."

"His innocence will appear," exclaimed the faithful girl; "it must appear; and,--father, mark this--I say the time will tell yet who is innocent and who is guilty. God knows," she added, her energy of manner increasing, while a shower of hot tears fell down her cheeks, "God knows I would marry him to-morrow with the disgrace of that and ten times as much upon him, so certain am I that his heart and hand are free from thought or deed that's either treacherous or dishonorable."

"Marry him!" said her brother, losing temper; "nobody doubts but you'd marry him on the gallows, wid the rope about his neck."

"I would do it, and unite myself to a true heart. Don't mistake me, and mother, dear, don't blame me," she added, her tears flowing still faster; "he's in disgrace--sunk in shame and sorrow--and I won't conceal the force of what I feel for him; I won't desert him now as the world will do; I know his heart, and on the scaffold to-morrow I would become his wife, if it would take away one atom of his misery."

"If he's innocent," said her father, "you have more pinetration than any girl in Europe; but if he's guilty of such an act against any one connected with you, Una, the guilt of all the divils in hell is no match for his. Well, you have heard all we wanted to say to you, and you needn't stay."

"As she herself says," observed John, "perhaps time will place everything in its true light. At present all those who are not in love with him have little doubt of his guilt. However, even as it is, in principle Una is right; putting love out of the question, we should prejudge no one."

"Time will," said his sister, "or rather God will in His own good time. On God I'm sure he depends; on his providence I also rely for seeing his name and character cleared of all that has been brought against him. John, I wish to speak to you in my own room; not that I intend to make any secret of it, but I want to consult with you first."

"Cheerna dheelish," exclaimed her mother; "what a wife that child would make to any man that desarved her!"

"It's more than I'm able to do, to be angry with her," returned the Bodagh. "Did you ever know her to tell a lie, Bridget?"

"A lie! no, nor the shadow of a lie never came out of her lips; the desate's not in her; an' may God look down on her wid compunction this day; for there's a dark road I doubt before her!"

"Amen," responded her father; "amen, I pray the Saviour. At all evints, O'Donovan's guilt or innocence will soon be known," he added; "the 'sizes begin this day week, so that the business will soon be settled either one way or other."

Una, on reaching her own room, thus addressed her affectionate brother:

"Now, John, you know that my grandfather left rue two hundred guineas in his will, and you know, too, the impossibility of getting any money from the clutches of Pardorougha. You must see Connor, and find out how he intends to defend himself. If his father won't allow him sufficient means to employ the best lawyers--as I doubt whether he will or not--just tell him the truth, that whilst I have a penny of these two hundred guineas, he mustn't want money; an' tell him, too, that all the world won't persuade me that he's guilty; say I know him to be innocent, and that his disgrace has made him dearer to me than he ever was before."

"Surely, you can't suppose for a moment, my dear Una, that I, your brother, who, by the way, have never opened my lips to him, could deliberately convey such a message."

"It must be conveyed in some manner; I'm resolved on that."

"The best plan," said the other, "is to find out whatsoever attorney they employ, and then to discover, if possible, whether his father has furnished sufficient funds for his defence. If he has, your offer is unnecessary; and if not, a private arrangement may be made with the attorney of which nobody else need know anything."

"God bless you, John! God bless you!" she replied; "that is far better; you have been a good brother to your poor Una--to your poor unhappy Una!"

She leaned her head on a table, and wept for some time at the trying fate, as she termed it, which hung over two beings so young and so guiltless of any crime. The brother soothed her by every argument in his power, and, after gently compelling her to dry her tears, expressed his intention of going early the next day to ascertain whether or not any professional man had been engaged to conduct the defence of her unfortunate lover.

In effecting this object there was little time lost on the part of young O'Brien. Knowing that two respectable attorneys lived in the next market town, he deemed it best to ascertain whether Fardorougha had applied to either of them for the purposes aforementioned, or, if not, to assure himself whether the old man had gone to any of those pettifoggers, who, rather than appear without practice, will undertake a cause almost on any terms, and afterwards institute a lawsuit for the recovery of a much larger bill of costs than a man of character and experience would demand.

In pursuance of the plan concerted between them, the next morning found him rapping, about eleven o'clock, at the door of an attorney named Kennedy, whom he asked to see on professional business. A clerk, on hearing his voice in the hall, came out and requestedm him to step into a back room, adding that his master, who was engaged, would see him the moment he had despatched the person then with him. Thus shown, he was separated from O'Halloran's office only by a pair of folding doors, through which every word uttered in the office could be distinctly heard; a circumstance that enabled O'Brien unintentionally to overhear the following dialogue between the parties:

"Well, my good friend," said Kennedy to the stranger, who, it appeared, had arrived before O'Brien only a few minutes, "I am now disengaged; pray, let me know your business."

The stranger paused a moment, as if seeking the most appropriate terms in which to express himself.

"It's a black business," he replied, "and the worst of it is I'm a poor man."

"You should not go to law, then," observed the attorney. "I tell you beforehand you will find it is devilish expensive."

"I know it," said the man; "it's open robbery; I know what it cost me to recover the little pences that wor sometimes due to me, when I broke myself lending weeny trifles to strugglin' people that I thought honest, and robbed me aftherwards."

"In what way can my services be of use to you at present? for that I suppose is the object of your calling upon me," said Kennedy.

"Oh thin, sir, if you have the grace of God, or kindness, or pity in your heart, you can sarve me, you can save my heart from breakin'!"

"How--how, man?--come to the point."

"My son, sir, Connor, my only son, was taken away from his mother an' me, an' put into jail yesterday mornin', an' he innocent; he was put in, sir, for burnin' Bodagh Buie O'Brien's haggard, an' as God is above me, he as much burnt it as you did."

"Then you are Fardorougha Donovan," said the attorney; "I have heard of that outrage; and, to be plain with you, a good deal about yourself. How, in the name of heaven, can you call yourself a poor man?"

"They belie me, sir, they're bitther enemies that say I'm otherwise."

"Be you rich or be you poor, let me tell you that I would not stand in your son's situation for the wealth of the king's exchequer. Sell your last cow; your last coat; your last acre; sell the bed from under you, without loss of time, if you wish to save his life; and I tell you that for this purpose you must employ the best counsel, and plenty of them. The Assizes commence on this day week, so that you have not a single moment to lose. Think now whether you love your son or your money best."

"Saver of earth, amn't I an unhappy man! every one sayin' I have money, an' me has not! Where would I get it? Where would a man like me get it? Instead o' that, I'm so poor that I see plainly I'll starve yet; I see it's before me! God pity me this day! But agin, there's my boy, my boy; oh, God, pity him! Say what's the laste, the lowest, the very lowest you could take, for defendin' him; an' for pity's sake, for charity's sake, for God's sake, don't grind a poor, helpless, ould man by extortion. If you knew the boy--if you knew him--oh, afore my God, if you knew him, you wouldn't be apt to charge a penny; you'd be proud to sarve sich a boy."

"You wish everything possible to be done for him, of course."

"Of coorse, of coorse; but widout extravagance; as asy an' light on a poor man as you can. You could shorten it, sure, an' lave out a grate dale that 'ud be of no use; nu' half the paper 'ud do; for you might make the clerks write close--why, very little 'ud be wanted if you wor savin'."

"I can defend him with one counsel if you wish; but, if anxious to save the boy's life, you ought to enable your attorney to secure a strong bar of the most eminent lawyers he can engage."

"An' what 'ud it cost to hire three or four of them?"

"The whole expenses might amount to between thirty and forty guineas."

A deep groan of dismay, astonishment, and anguish, was the only reply made to this for some time.

"Oh, heavens above!" he screamed, "what will--what will become of me! I'd rather be dead, as I'll soon be, than hear this, or know it at all. How could I get it? I'm as poor as poverty itself! Oh, couldn't you feel for the boy, an' defend him on trust; couldn't you feel for him?"

"It's your business to do that," returned the man of law, coolly.

"Feel for him; me! oh, little you know how my heart's in him; but any way, I'm an unhappy man; everything in the world wide goes against me; but--oh, my darlin' boy--Connor, Connor, my son, to be tould that I don't feel for you--well you know, avourneen machree--well you know that I feel for you, and 'ud kiss the track of your feet upon the ground: Oh, it's cruel to tell it to me; to say sich a thing to a man that his heart's braakin' widin him for your sake; but, sir, you sed this minute that you could defend him wid one lawyer?"

"Certainly, and with a cheap one, too, if you wish; but, in that case, I would rather decline the thing altogether."

"Why? why? sure if you can defind him chapely, isn't it so much saved? isn't it the same as if you definded him at a higher rate? Sure, if one lawyer tells the truth for the poor boy, ten or fifteen can do no more; an' thin maybe they'd crass in an' puzzle one another if you hired too many of them."

"How would you feel, should your son be found guilty; you know the penalty is his life. He will be executed."

O'Brien could hear the old man clap his hands in agony, and in truth he walked about wringing them as if his heart would burst.

"What will I do?" he exclaimed; "what will I do? I can't lose him, an' I won't lose him! Lose him! oh God, oh God, it is to lose the best son and only child that ever man had! Wouldn't it be downright murdher in me to let him be lost if I could prevint it? Oh, if I was in his place, what wouldn't he do for me, for the father that he always loved!"

The tears ran copiously down his furrowed cheeks; and his whole appearance evinced such distraction and anguish as could rarely be witnessed.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," he added; "I'll give you fifty guineas after my death if you'll defind him properly."

"Much obliged," replied the other; "but in matters of this kind we make no such bargains."

"I'll make it sixty, in case you don't axe it now."

"Can you give me security that I'll survive you? Why, you are tough-looking enough to outlive me."

"Me tough!--no, God help me, my race is nearly ran; I won't be alive this day twelve months--look at the differ atween us."

"This is idle talk," said the attorney; "determine on what you'll do; really my time is valuable, and I am now wasting it to no purpose."

"Take the offer--depind on't it'll soon come to you."

"No, no," said the other, coolly; "not at all; we might shut up shop if we made such post obit bargains as that."

"I'll tell you," said Fardorougha; "I'll tell you what;" his eyes gleamed with a reddish, bitter light; and he clasped his withered hands together, until the joints cracked, and the perspiration teemed from his pale, sallow features; "I'll tell you," he added--"I'll make it seventy!"




"Ninety!"--with a husky shriek

"No, no."

"A hundhre'--a hundhre'--a hundhre'," he shouted; "a hundhre', when I'm gone--when I'm gone!"

One solemn and determined No, that precluded all hopes of any such arrangement, was the only reply.

The old man leaped up again, and looked impatiently and wildly and fiercely about him.

"What are you?" he shouted; "what are you? You're a divil--a born divil. Will nothing but my death satisfy you? Do you want to rob me--to starve me--to murdher me? Don't you see the state I'm in by you? Look at me--look at these thremblin' limbs--look at the sweat powerin' down from my poor ould face! What is it you want? There--there's my gray hairs to you. You have brought me to that--to more than that--I'm dyin' this minute--I'm dyin'--oh, my boy--my boy, if I had you here--ay, I'm--I'm--"

He staggered over on his seat, his eyes gleaming in a fixed and intense glare at the attorney; his hands were clenched, his lips parched, and his mummy-like cheeks sucked, as before, into his toothless jaws. In addition to all this, there was a bitter white smile of despair upon his features, and his thin gray locks, that were discomposed in the paroxysm by his own hands, stood out in disorder upon his head. We question, indeed, whether mere imagination could, without having actually witnessed it in real life, conceive any object so frightfully illustrative of the terrible dominion which the passion of avarice is capable of exercising over the human heart.

"I protest to Heaven," exclaimed the attorney, alarmed, "I believe the man is dying--if not dead, he is motionless."

"O'Donovan, what's the matter with you?"

The old man's lips gave a dry, hard smack, then became desperately compressed together, and his cheeks were drawn still further into his jaws. At length he sighed deeply, and changed his fixed and motionless attitude.

"He is alive, at all events," said one of his young men.

Fardorougha turned his eyes upon the speaker, then upon his master, and successively upon two other assistants who were in the office.

"What is this?" said he, "what is this?--I'm very weak--will you get me a dhrink o' wather? God help me--God direct me! I'm an unhappy man; get me a dhrink, for Heaven's sake! I can hardly spake, my mouth and lips are so dry."

The water having been procured, he drank it eagerly, and felt evidently relieved.

"This business," he continued, "about the money--I mane about my poor boy. Connor, how will it be managed, sir?"

"I have already told you that there is but one way of managing it, and that is, as the young man's life is at stake, to spare no cost."

"And I must do that?"

"You ought, at least, remember that he's an only son, and that if you lose him--"

"Lose him!--I can't--I couldn't--I'd die--die--dead--"

"And by so shameful a death," proceeded Cassidy, "you will not only be childless, but you will have the bitter fact to reflect on that he died in disgrace. You will blush to name him! What father would not make any sacrifice to prevent his child from meeting such a fate? It's a trying thing and a pitiable calamity to see a father ashamed to name the child that he loves."

The old man arose, and, approaching Cassidy, said, eagerly, "How much will do? Ashamed to name you, alanna, Ghierna--Ghierna--ashamed to name you, Connor! Oh! if the world knew you, as thore, as well as I an' your poor mother knows you, they'd say that we ought to be proud to hear your name soundin' in our ears. How much will do? for, may God stringthen me, I'll do it."

"I think about forty guineas; it may be more, and it may be less, but we will say forty."

"Then I'll give you an ordher for it on a man that's a good mark. Give me pin an' paper, fast."

"The paper was placed before him, and he held the pen in his hand for some time, and, ere he wrote, turned a look of deep distress on Cassidy.

"God Almighty pity me!" said he; "you see--you see that I'm a poor heart--broken creature--a ruined man I'll be--a ruined man!"

"Think of your son, and of his situation."

"It's before me--I know it is--to die like a dog behind a ditch wid hunger!"

"Think of your son, I say, and, if possible, save him from a shameful death."

"What! Ay--yis--yis--surely--surely--oh, my poor boy--my innocent boy--I will--I will do it."

He then sat down, and, with a tremulous hand, and lips tightly drawn together, wrote an order on P----, the county treasurer, for the money.

Cassidy, on seeing it, looked alternately at the paper and the man for a considerable time.

"Is P----your banker?" he asked.

"Every penny that I'm worth he has."

"Then you're a ruined man," he replied, with cool emphasis. "P---- absconded the day before yesterday, and robbed half the county. Have you no loose cash at home?"

"Robbed! who robbed?"

"Why, P----has robbed every man who was fool enough to trust him; he's off to the Isle of Man, with the county funds in addition to the other prog."

"You don't mane to say," replied Fardorougha, with a hideous calmness of voice and manner; "you don't, you can't mane to say he has run off wid my money?"

"I do; you'll never see a shilling of it, if you live to the age of a Hebrew patriarch. See what it is to fix the heart upon money. You are now, what you wish the world to believe you to be, a poor man."

"Ho! ho!" howled the miser, "he darn't, he darn't--wouldn't God consume him if he robbed the poor--wouldn't God stiffen him, and pin him to the airth, if he attempted to run off wid the hard earnings of strugglin' honest men? Where 'ud God be, an' him to dar to do it! But it's a falsity, an' you're thryin' me to see how I'd bear it--it is, it is, an' may Heaven forgive you!"

"It's as true as the Gospel," replied the other; "why, I'm surprised you didn't hear it before now--every one knows it--it's over the whole country."

"It's a lie--it's a lie!" he howled again; "no one dar to do such an act. You have some schame in this--you're not a safe man; you're a villain, an' nothin' else; but I'll soon know; which of these is my hat?"

"You are mad, I think," said Cassidy.

"Get me my hat, I say; I'll soon know it; but sure the world's all in a schame against me--all, all, young an' ould--where's my hat, I say?"

"You have put it upon your head this moment," said the other.

"An' my stick?"

"It's in your hand."

"The curse o' Heaven upon you," he shrieked, "whether it's thrue or false!" and, with a look that might scorch him to whom it was directed, he shuffled in a wild and frantic mood out of the house.

"The man is mad," observed Cassidy; "or, if not, he will soon be so; I never witnessed such a desperate case of avarice. If ever the demon of money lurked in any man's soul, it's in his. God bless me! God bless me! it's dreadful! Richard, tell the gentleman in the dining-room I'm at leisure to see him."

The scene we have attempted to describe spared O'Brien the trouble of much unpleasant inquiry, and enabled him to enter at once into the proposed arrangements on behalf of Connor. Of course he did not permit his sister's name to transpire, nor any trace whatsoever to appear, by which her delicacy might be compromised, or her character involved. His interference in the matter he judiciously put upon the footing of personal regard for the young man, and his reluctance to be even the indirect means of bringing him to a violent and shameful death. Having thus fulfilled Una's instructions, he returned home, and relieved her of a heavy burthen by a full communication of all that had been done.

The struggle hitherto endured by Fardoroug--he was in its own nature sufficiently severe to render his sufferings sharp and pungent; still they resembled the influence of local disease more than that of a malady which prostrates the strength and grapples with the powers of the whole constitution. The sensation he immediately felt, on hearing that his banker had absconded with the gains of his penurious life, was rather a stunning shock that occasioned for the moment a feeling of dull, and heavy, and overwhelming dismay. It filled, nay, it actually distended his narrow soul with an oppressive sense of exclusive misery that banished all consideration for every person and thing extraneous to his individual selfishness. In truth, the tumult of his mind was peculiarly wild and anomalous. The situation of his son, and the dreadful fate that hung over him, were as completely forgotten as if they did not exist. Yet there lay, underneath his own gloomy agony, a remote consciousness of collateral affliction, such as is frequently experienced by those who may be drawn, by some temporary and present pleasure, from the contemplation of their misery. We feel, in such cases, that the darkness is upon us, even while the image of the calamity is not before the mind; nay, it sometimes requires an effort to bring it back, when anxious to account for our depression; but when it comes, the heart sinks with a shudder, and we feel, that, although it ceased to engage our thoughts, we had been sitting all the time beneath its shadow. For this reason, although Fardorougha's own loss absorbed, in one sense, all his powers of suffering, still he knew that something else pressed with additional weight upon his heart. Of its distinct character, however, he was ignorant, and only felt that a dead and heavy load of multiplied affliction bent him in burning anguish to the earth.

There is something more or less eccentric in the gait and dress of every miser. Fardorougha's pace was naturally slow, and the habit for which, in the latter point, he had all his life been remarkable, was that of wearing a great-coat thrown loosely about his shoulders. In summer it saved an inside one, and, as he said, kept him cool and comfortable. That he seldom or never put his arms into it arose from the fact that he knew it would last a much longer period of time than if he wore it in the usual manner.

On leaving the attorney's office, he might be seen creeping along towards the County Treasurer's, at a pace quite unusual to him; his hollow, gleaming eyes were bent on the earth; his Gothamore about his shoulders; his staff held with a tight desperate grip, and his whole appearance that of a man frightfully distracted by the intelligence of some sudden calamity.

He had not proceeded far on this hopeless errand, when many bitter confirmations of the melancholy truth, by persons whom he met on their return from P----'s residence, were afforded him. Even these, however, were insufficient to satisfy him; he heard them with a vehement impatience, that could not brook the bare possibility of the report being true. His soul clung with the tenacity of a death--grip to the hope, that however others might have suffered, some chance might, notwithstanding, still remain in Ms particular favor. In the meantime, he poured out curses of unexampled malignity against the guilty defaulter, on whose head he invoked the Almighty's vengeance with a venomous fervor which appalled all who heard him. Having reached the treasurer's house, a scene presented itself that was by no means calculated to afford him consolation. Persons of every condition, from the squireen and gentleman farmer, to the humble widow and inexperienced orphan, stood in melancholy groups about the deserted mansion, interchanging details of their losses, their blasted prospects, and their immediate ruin. The cries of the widow, who mourned for the desolation brought upon her and her now destitute orphans, rose in a piteous wail to heaven, and the industrious fathers of many struggling families, with pale faces and breaking hearts, looked in silent misery upon the closed shutters and smokeless chimneys of their oppressor's house, bitterly conscious that the laws of the boasted constitution under which they lived, permitted the destroyer of hundreds to enjoy, in luxury and security, the many thousands of which, at one fell and rapacious swoop, he had deprived them.

With white, quivering lips and panting breath, Fardorougha approached and joined them.

"What, what," said he, in a broken sentence, "is this true--can it, can it be true? Is the thievin' villain of hell gone? Has he robbed us, ruined us, destroyed us?"

"Ah, too thrue it is," replied a farmer; "the dam' rip is off to that nest of robbers, the Isle of Man; ay, he's gone! an' may all our bad luck past, present, and to come, go with him, an' all he tuck!"

Fardorougha looked at his informant as if he had been P----himself; he then glared from one to another, whilst the white foam wrought up to his lips by the prodigious force of his excitement. He clasped his hands, then attempted to speak, but language had abandoned him.

"If one is to judge from your appearance, you have suffered heavily," observed the farmer.

The other stared at him with a kind of angry amazement for doubting it, or it might be, for speaking so coolly of his loss. "Suffered!" said he, "ay, ay, but did yeea thry the house? we'll see--suffered!--suffered!--we'll see."

He immediately shuffled over to the hall door, which he assaulted with the eagerness of a despairing soul at the gate of heaven, throwing into each knock such a character of impatience and apprehension, as one might suppose the aforesaid soul to feel from a certain knowledge that the devil's clutches were spread immediately behind, to seize and carry him to perdition. His impetuosity, however, was all in vain; not even an echo reverberated through the cold and empty walls, but, on the contrary, every peal was followed by a most unromantic and ominous silence.

"That man appears beside himself," observed another of the sufferers; "surely, it he wasn't half-mad, he'd not expect to find any one in an empty house!"

"Devil a much it signifies whether he's mad or otherwise," responded a neighbor. "I know him well; his name's Fardorougha Donovan, the miser of Lisnamona, the biggest shkew that ever skinned a flint. If P----did nothin' worse than fleece him, it would never stand between him an' the blessin' o' Heaven."

Fardorougha, in the mean time, finding that no response was given from the front, passed hurriedly by an archway into the back court, where he made similar efforts to get in by attempting to force the kitchen door. Every entrance, however, had been strongly secured; he rattled, and thumped, and screamed, as if P----himself had actually been within hearing, but still to no purpose; he might as well have expected to extort a reply from the grave.

When he returned to the group that stood on the lawn, the deadly conviction that all was lost affected every joint of his body with a nervous trepidation, that might have been mistaken for delirium tremens. His eyes were full of terror, mingled with the impotent fury of hatred and revenge; whilst over all now predominated for the first time such an expression of horror and despair, as made the spectators shudder to look upon him.

"Where was God," said he, addressing them, and his voice, naturally thin and wiry, now became lmsky and hollow, "where was God, to suffer this? to suffer the poor to be ruined, and the rich to be made poor? Was it right for the Almighty to look on an' let the villain do it? No--no--no; I say no!"

The group around him shuddered at the daring blasphemy to which his monstrous passion had driven him. Many females, who were in tears, lamenting audibly, started, and felt their grief suspended for a moment by this revolting charge against the justice of Providence.

"What do you all stand for here," he proceeded, "like stocks an stones? Why don't yees kneel with me, an' let us join in one curse; one, no, but let us shower them down upon him in thousands--in millions; an' when we can no longer spake them, let us think them. To the last hour of my life my heart 'ill never be widout a curse for him; an' the last word afore I go into the presence of God, 'll be a black, heavy blessin' from hell against him an' his, sowl an' body, while a drop o' their bad blood's upon the earth."

"Don't be blasphamin', honest man," said a bystander; "if you've lost money, that's no rason why you should fly in the face o' God for P----'s roguery. Devil a one o' myself cares if I join you in a volley against the robbin' scoundril, but I'd not take all the money the rip of hell ran away wid, an' spake of God as you do."

"Oh, Saver!" exclaimed Fardorougha, who probably heard not a word he said; "I knew--I knew--I always felt it was before me--a dog's death behind a ditch--my tongue out wid starvation and hunger, and it was he brought me to it!"

He had already knelt, and was uncovered, his whitish hair tossed by the breeze in confusion about a face on which was painted the fearful workings of that giant spirit, under whose tremendous grasp he writhed and suffered like a serpent in the talons of a vulture. In this position, with uplifted and trembling arms, his face raised towards heaven, and his whole figure shrunk firmly together by the intense malignity with which he was about to hiss out his venomous imprecations against the defaulter, he presented at least one instance in which the low, sordid vice of avarice rose to something like wild grandeur, if not sublimity.

Having remained in this posture for some time, he clasped his withered hands together and wrung them until the bones cracked; then rising up and striking his stick bitterly upon the earth--

"I can't," he exclaimed, "I can't get out the curses against him; but my heart's full of them--they're in it--they're in it!--it's black an' hot wid them; I feel them here--here--movin an if they war alive, an' they'll be out."

Such was the strength and impetuosity of his hatred, and such his eagerness to discharge the whole quiver of his maledictions against the great public delinquent, that, as often happens in cases of overwhelming agitation, his faculties were paralyzed by the storm of passion which raged within him.

Having risen to his feet, he left the group, muttering his wordless malignity as he went along, and occasionally pausing to look back with the fiery glare of a hyena at the house in which the robbery of his soul's treasure had been planned and accomplished.

It is unnecessary to say that the arrangements entered into with Cassidy, by John O'Brien, were promptly and ably carried into effect. A rapid ride soon brought the man of briefs and depositions to the prison, where the unhappy Connor lay. The young man's story, though simple, was improbable, and his version of the burning such as induced Cassidy, who knew little of impressions and feelings in the absence of facts, to believe that no other head than his ever concocted the crime. Still, from the manly sincerity with which his young client spoke, he felt inclined to impute the act to a freak of boyish malice and disappointment, rather than to a spirit of vindictive rancor. He entertained no expectation whatsoever of Connor's acquittal, and hinted to him that it was his habit in such cases to recommend his clients to be prepared for the worst, without, at the same time, altogether abolishing hope. There was, indeed, nothing to break the chain of circumstantial evidence in which Flanagan had entangled him; he had been at the haggard shortly before the conflagration broke out; he had met Phil Curtis, and begged that man to conceal the fact of his having seen him, and he had not slept in his own bed either on that or the preceding night. It was to no purpose he affirmed that Flanagan himself had borrowed from him, and worn, on the night in question, the shoes whose prints were so strongly against him, or that the steel and tinder--box, which were found in his pocket, actually belonged to his accuser, who must have put them there without his knowledge. His case, in fact, was a bad one, and he felt that the interview with his attorney left him more seriously impressed with the danger of his situation, than he had been up till that period.

"I suppose," said he, when the instructions were completed, "you have seen my father?"

"Everything is fully and liberally arranged," replied the other, with reservation; "your father has been with me to--day; in fact, I parted with him only a few minutes before I left home. So far let your mind be easy. The government prosecutes, which is something in your favor; and now, good-by to you; for my part, I neither advise you to hope or despair. If the worst comes to the worst, you must bear it like a man; and if we get an acquittal, it will prove the more agreeable for its not being expected."

The unfortunate youth felt, after Cassidy's departure, the full force of that dark and fearful presentiment which arises from the approach of the mightiest calamity that can befall an innocent man--a public and ignominious death, while in the very pride of youth, strength, and those natural hopes of happiness which existence had otherwise promised. In him this awful apprehension proceeded neither from the terror of judgment nor of hell, but from that dread of being withdrawn from life, and of passing down from the light, the enjoyments and busy intercourse of a breathing and conscious world, into the silence and corruption of the unknown grave. When this ghastly picture was brought near him by the force of his imagination, he felt for a moment as if his heart had died away in him, and his blood became congealed into ice. Should this continue, he knew that human nature could not sustain it long, and he had already resolved to bear his fate with firmness, whatever that fate might be. He then reflected that he was innocent, and, remembering the practice of his simple and less political forefathers, he knelt down and fervently besought the protection of that, Being in whose hands are the issues of life and death.

On rising from this act of heartfelt devotion, he experienced that support which he required so much. The fear of death ceased to alarm him, and his natural fortitude returned with more than its usual power to his support. In this state of mind he was pacing his narrow room, when the door opened, and his father, with a tottering step, entered and approached him. The son was startled, if not terrified, at the change which so short a time had wrought in the old man's appearance.

"Good God, father dear!" he exclaimed, as the latter threw his arms with a tight and clinging grasp about him; "good heavens! what has happened to change you so much for the worse? Why, if you fret this way about me, you'll soon break your heart. Why will you fret, father, when you know I am innocent? Surely, at the worst, it is better to die innocent than to live guilty."

"Connor," said the old man, still clinging tenaciously to him, and looking wildly into his face, "Connor, it's broke--my heart's broke at last. Oh, Connor, won't you pity me when you hear it--won't you, Connor--oh, when you hear it, Connor, won't you pity me? It's gone, it's gone, it's gone--he's off, off--to that nest of robbers, the Isle of Man, and has robbed me and half the county. P----has; I'm a ruined man, a beggar, an' will die a dog's death."

Connor looked down keenly into his father's face, and began to entertain a surmise so terrible that the beatings of his heart were in a moment audible to his own ear.

"Father," he inquired, "in the name of God what is wrong with you? What is it you spake of? Has P----gone off with your money? Sit down, and don't look so terrified."

"He has, Connor--robbed me an' half the county--he disappeared the evenin' of the very day I left my last lodgment wid him; he's in that nest of robbers, the Isle of Man, an' I'm ruined--ruined! Oh God! Connor, how can I stand it? all my earnin's an' my savin's an' the fruits of my industry in his pocket, an' upon his back, an' upon his bones! My brain is reelin'--I dunna what I'm doin', nor what I'll do. To what hand now can I turn myself? Who'll assist me! I dunna what I'm doin', nor scarcely what I'm sayin'. My head's all in confusion. Gone! gone! gone! Oh see the luck that has come down upon me! Above all men, why was I singled out to be made a world's wondher of--why was I? What did I do? I robbed no one; yet it's gone--an' see the death that's afore me! oh God! oh God!"

"Well, father, let it go--you have still your health; you have still my poor mother to console you; and I hope you'll soon have myself, too; between us well keep you comfortable, and, if you'll allow us to take our own way, more so than ever you did--"

Pardorougha started, as if struck by some faint but sudden recollection. All at once he looked with amazement around the room, and afterwards with a pause of inquiry, at his son. At length, a light of some forgotten memory appeared to flash at once across his brain; his countenance changed from the wild and unsettled expression which it bore, to one more stamped with the earnest humanity of our better nature.

"Oh, Connor!" he at last exclaimed, putting his two hands into those of his son: "can you pity me, an' forgive me? You see, my poor boy, how I'm sufferin', an' you see that I can't--I won't--be able to bear up against this long."

The tears here ran down his worn and hollow cheeks.

"Oh," he proceeded, "how could I forget you, my darlin' boy? But I hardly think my head's right. If I had you with me, an' before my eyes, you'd keep my heart right, an' give me strength, which I stand sorely in need of. Saints in glory! how could I forget you, acushla, an' what now can I do for you? Not a penny have I to pay lawyer, or attorney, or any one, to defind you at your trial, and it so near!"

"Why, haven't you settled all that with Mr. Cassidy, the attorney?"

"Not a bit, achora machree, not a bit; I was wid him this day, an' had agreed, but whin I wint to give him an ordher on P----, he--oh saints above! he whistled at me an' it--an' tould me that P----was gone to that nest o' robbers, the Isle of Man."

"Connor," said he, feebly, "I am unwell--unwell--come and sit down by me."

"You are too much distressed every way, father," said his son, taking his place upon his iron bedstead beside him.

"I am," said Fardorougha, calmly; "I am too much distressed--sit nearer me, Connor. I wish your mother was here, but she wasn't able to come, she's unwell too; a good mother she was, Connor, and a good wife."

The son was struck, and somewhat alarmed, by this sudden and extraordinary calmness of the old man.

"Father dear," said he, "don't be too much disheartened--all will be well yet, I hope--my trust in God is strong."

"I hope all will be well," replied the old man, "sit nearer me, an' Connor, let me lay my head over upon your breast. I'm thinkin' a great dale. Don't the world say, Connor, that I am a bad man?"

"I don't care what the world says; no one in it ever durst say as much to me, father dear."

The old man looked up affectionately, but shook his head apparently in calm but rooted sorrow.

"Put your arms about me, Connor, and keep my head a little more up; I'm weak an' tired, an', someway, spakin's a throuble to me; let me think for a while."

"Do so, father," said the son, with deep compassion; "God knows but you're sufferin' enough to wear you out."

"It is," said Fardorougha, "it is." A silence of some minutes ensued, during which, Connor perceived that the old man, overcome with care and misery, had actually! fallen asleep with his head upon his bosom. This circumstance, though by no means extraordinary, affected him very much. On surveying the pallid face of his father, and the worn, thread--like veins that ran along his temples, and calling to mind the love of the old man for himself, which even avarice, in its deadliest power, failed to utterly overcome, he felt all the springs of his affection loosened, and his soul vibrated with a tenderness towards him, such as no situation in their past lives had ever before created.

"If my fate chances to be an untimely one, father dear," he slowly murmured, "we'll soon meet in another place; for I know that you will not long live after me."

He then thought with bitterness of his mother and Una, and wondered at the mystery of the trial to which he was exposed.

The old man's slumber, however, was not dreamless, nor so refreshing as the exhaustion of a frame shattered by the havoc of contending principles required. On the contrary, it was disturbed by heavy groans, quick startings, and those twitchings of the limbs which betoken a restless mood of mind, and a nervous system highly excited. In the course of half an hour, the symptoms of his inward commotion became more apparent. From being, as at first, merely physical, they assumed a mental character, anil passed from ejaculations and single words, to short sentences, and ultimately to those of considerable length.

"Gone!" he exclaimed, "gone! Oh God my curse--starved--dog--wid my tongue out!"

This dread of starvation, which haunted him through life, appeared in his dream still to follow him like a demon.

"I'm dyin'," he said, "I'm dyin' wid hunger--will no one give me a morsel? I was robbed an' have no money--don't you see me starvin'? I'm cuttin' wid hunger--five days without mate--bring me mate, for God's sake--mate, mate, mate!--I'm gaspin--my tongue's out; look at me, like a dog, behind this ditch, an' my tongue out!"

The son at this period would have awoke him, but he became more composed, for a time, and enjoyed apparently a refreshing sleep. Still, it soon was evident that he dreamt, and as clear that a change had come o'er the spirit of his dream.

"Who'll prevent me!" he exclaimed. "Isn't he my son--our only child? Let me alone--I must, I must--what's my life?--take it, an' let him live."

The tears started in Connor's eyes, and he pressed his father to his heart.

"Don't hould me," he proceeded. "O God! here, I'll give all I'm worth, an' save him! O, let me, thin--let me but kiss him once before he dies; it was I, it was myself that murdhered him--all might 'a been well; ay, it was I that murdhered you, Connor, my brave hoy, an' have I you in my arms? O, aviek agus asthore machree, it was I that murdhered you, by my--but they're takin' him--they're bearin' him away to--"

He started, and awoke; but so terrific had been his dream, that on opening his eyes he clasped Connor in his arms, and exclaimed,--

"No no, I'll hould him till you cut my grip; Connor, avick machree, hould to me!"

"Father, father, for God's sake, think a minute, you wor only dreaming."

"Eh--what--where am I? Oh, Connor, darling, if you knew the dhrames I had--I thought you wor on the scaffie; but thanks be to the Saver, it was only a dhrame!"

"Nothing more, father, nothing more; but for God's sake, keep your mind aisy. Trust in God, father, everything's in His hands; if; it's His will to make us suffer, we ought to submit; and if it's not His will, He surely can bring us out of all our throubles. That's the greatest comfort I have."

Fardorougha once more became calm, but still there was on his countenance, which was mournful and full of something else than simple sorrow, some deeply fixed determination, such as it was difficult to develop.

"Connor, achora," said he, "I must lave you, for there's little time to be lost. What attorney would you wish me to employ? I'll go home and sell oats and a cow or two. I've done you harm enough--more than you know--but now I'll spare no cost to get you out of this business. Connor, the tears that I saw awhile agone run down your cheeks cut me to the heart."

The son then informed him that a friend had taken proper measures for his defence, and that any further interference on his part would only create confusion and delay. He also entreated his father to make no allusion whatsoever to this circumstance, and added, "that he himself actually knew not the name of the friend in question, but that, as the matter stood, he considered even a surmise to be a breach of confidence that might be indelicate and offensive. After the trial, you can and ought to pay the expenses, and not be under an obligation to any one of so solemn a kind as that." He then sent his affectionate love and duty to his mother, at whose name his eyes were again filled with tears, and begged the old man to comfort and support her with the utmost care and tenderness. As she was unwell, he requested him to dissuade her against visiting him till after the trial, lest an interview might increase her illness, and render her less capable of bearing up under an unfavorable sentence, should such be the issue of the prosecution. Having then bade farewell to, and embraced the old man, the latter departed with more calmness and fortitude than he had up to that period displayed.

When Time approaches the miserable with calamity in his train, his opinion is swifter than that of the eagle; but, alas! when carrying them towards happiness, his pace is slower than is that of the tortoise. The only three persons on earth, whose happiness was involved in that of O'Donovan, found themselves, on the eve of the assizes, overshadowed by a dreariness of heart, that was strong in proportion to the love they bore him. The dead calm which had fallen on Fardorougha was absolutely more painful to his wife than would have been the paroxysms that resulted from his lust of wealth. Since his last interview with Connor, he never once alluded to the loss of his money, unless abruptly in his dreams, but there was stamped upon his whole manner a gloomy and mysterious composure, which, of itself, wofully sank her spirits, independently of the fate which impended over their son. The change, visible on both, and the breaking down of their strength were indeed pitiable.

As for Una, it would be difficult to describe her struggle between confidence in his innocence, and apprehension of the law, which she knew had often punished the guiltless instead of the criminal. 'Tis true she attempted to assume, in the eyes of others, a fortitude which belied her fears, and even affected to smile at the possibility of her lover's honor and character suffering any tarnish from the ordeal to which they were about to be submitted. Her smile, however, on such occasions, was a melancholy one, and the secret tears she shed might prove, as they did to her brother, who was alone privy to her grief, the extent of those terrors which, notwithstanding her disavowal of them, wrung her soul so bitterly. Day after day her spirits became more and more depressed, till, as the crisis of Connor's fate arrived, the roses had altogether flown from her cheeks.

Indeed, now that the trial was at hand, public sympathy turned rapidly and strongly in his favor; his father had lost that wealth, the acquisition of which earned him so heavy a portion of infamy; and, as he had been sufficiently punished in his own person, they did not think it just to transfer any portion of the resentment borne against him to a son who had never participated in his system of oppression. They felt for Connor now on his own account, and remembered only his amiable and excellent character. In addition to this, the history of the mutual attachment between him and Una having become the topic of general conversation, the rash act for which he stood committed was good-humoredly resolved into a foolish freak of love; for which it would be a thousand murders to take away his life. In such mood were the public and the parties most interested in the event of our story, when the morning dawned of that awful day which was to restore Connor O'Donovan to the hearts that loved him so well, or to doom him, a convicted felon, to a shameful and ignominious death.

At length the trial came on, and our unhappy prisoner, at the hour of eleven o'clock, was placed at the bar of his country to stand the brunt of a government prosecution. Common report had already carried abroad the story of Una's love and his, many interesting accounts of which had got into the papers of the day. When he stood forward, therefore, all eyes were eagerly riveted upon him; the judge glanced at him with calm, dispassionate scrutiny, and the members of the bax, especially the juniors, turned round, surveyed him through their glasses with a gaze in which might be read something more than that hard indifference which familiarity with human crime and affliction ultimately produces even in dispositions most human and amiable. No sooner had the curiosity of the multitude been gratified, than a murmur of pity, blended slightly with surprise and approbation, ran lowly through the court-house. One of the judges whispered a few words to his brother, and the latter again surveyed Connor with a countenance in which were depicted admiration and regret. The counsel also chatted to each other in a low tone, occasionally turning round and marking his deportment and appearance with increasing interest.

Seldom, probably never, had a more striking, perhaps a more noble figure, stood at the bar of that court. His locks were rich and brown; his forehead expansive, and his manly features remarkable for their symmetry; his teeth were regular and white, and his dark eye full of a youthful lustre, which the dread of no calamity could repress. Neither was his figure, which was of the tallest, inferior in a single point to so fine a countenance. As he stood, at his full height of six feet, it was impossible not to feel deeply influenced in his favor, especially after having witnessed the mournful but dignified composure of his manner, equally remote from indifference or dejection. He appeared, indeed, to view in its proper light the danger of the position in which he stood, but he viewed it with the calm, unshrinking energy of a brave man who is always prepared for the worst. Indeed, there might be observed upon his broad, open brow a loftiness of bearing such as is not unfrequently produced by a consciousness of innocence, and the natural elevation of mind which results from a sense of danger; to which we may add that inward scorn which is ever felt for baseness, by those who are degraded to the necessity of defending themselves against the villany of the malignant and profligate.

When called upon to plead to the indictment, he uttered the words "not guilty" in a full, firm and mellow voice, that drew the eyes of the spectators once more upon him, and occasioned another slight hum of sympathy and admiration. No change of color was observable on his countenance, or any other expression, save the lofty composure to which we have just alluded.

The trial at length proceeded; and, after a long and able statement from the Attorney-General, Bartle Flanagan was called up on the table. The prisoner, whose motions were keenly observed, betrayed, on seeing him, neither embarrassment nor agitation; all that could be perceived was a more earnest and intense light in his eyes, as they settled upon his accuser. Flanagan detailed, with singular minuteness and accuracy, the whole progress of the crime from its first conception to its perpetration. Indeed, had he himself been in the dock, and his evidence against Connor a confession of his own guilt, it would, with some exceptions, have been literally true. He was ably cross-examined, but no tact, or experience, or talent, on the part of the prisoner's counsel, could, in any important degree, shake his testimony. The ingenuity with which he laid and conducted the plot was astonishing, as was his foresight, and the precaution he adopted against detection. Cassidy, Connor's attorney, had ferreted out the very man from whom he purchased the tinder-box, with a hope of proving that it was not the prisoner's property but his own; yet this person, who remembered the transaction very well, assured him that Flanagan said he procured it by the desire of Fardorougha Donovan's son.

During his whole evidence, he never once raised his eye to look upon the prisoner's face, until he was desired to identify him. He then turned round, and, standing with the rod in his hand, looked for some moments upon his victim. His dark brows got black as night, whilst his cheeks were blanched to the hue of ashes--the white smile as before sat upon his lips, and his eyes, in which there blazed the unsteady fire of a treacherous and cowardly heart, sparkled with the red turbid glare of triumph and vengeance. He laid the rod upon Connor's head, and they gazed at each other face to face, exhibiting as striking a contrast as could be witnessed. The latter stood erect and unshaken--his eye calmly bent upon that of his foe, but with a spirit in it that seemed to him alone by whom it was best understood, to strike dismay into the very soul of falsehood within him. The villain's eyes could not withstand the glance of Connor's--they fell, and his whole countenance assumed such a blank and guilty stamp, that an old experienced barrister, who watched them both, could not avoid saying, that if he had his will they should exchange situations.

"I would not hang a dog," he whispered, "on that fellow's evidence--he has guilt in his face."

When asked why he ran away on meeting Phil. Curtis, near O'Brien's house, on their return that night, while Connor held his ground, he replied that it was very natural he should run away, and not wish to be seen after having assisted at such a crime. In reply to another question, he said it was as natural that Connor should have ran away also, and that he could not account for it, except by the fact that God always occasions the guilty to commit some oversight, by which they may be brought to punishment. These replies, apparently so rational and satisfactory, convinced Connor's counsel that his case was hopeless, and that no skill or ingenuity on their part could succeed in breaking down Flanagan's evidence.

The next witness called was Phil. Curtis, whose testimony corroborated Bartle's in every particular, and gave to the whole trial a character of gloom and despair. The constables who applied his shoes to the footmarks were then produced, and swore in the clearest manner as to their corresponding. They then deposed to finding the tinder-box in his pocket, according to the information received from Flanagan, every tittle of which they found to be remarkably correct.

There was only one other witness now necessary to complete the chain against him, and he was only produced because Biddy Nulty, the servant--maid, positively stated, and actually swore, when previously examined, that she was ignorant whether Connor slept in his father's house on the night in question or not. There was no alternative, therefore, but to produce the father; and Fardorougha Donovan was consequently forced to become an evidence against his own son.

The old man's appearance upon the table excited deep commiseration for both, and the more so when the spectators contemplated the rooted sorrow which lay upon the wild and wasted features of the woe-worn father. Still the old man was composed and calm; but his calmness was in an extraordinary degree mournful and touching. "When he, sat down, after having been sworn, and feebly wiped the dew from his thin temples, many eyes were already filled with tears. When the question was put to him if he remembered the night laid in the indictment, he replied that he did.

"Did the prisoner at the bar sleep at home on that night?"

The old man looked into the face of the counsel with such an eye of deprecating entreaty, as shook the voice in which the question was repeated. He then turned about, and, taking a long gaze at his son, rose up, and, extending his hands to the judges, exclaimed:

"My lords, my lords! he is my only son--my only child!"

These words were followed by a pause in the business of the court, and a dead silence of more than a minute.

"If justice," said the judge, "could on an occasion waive her claim to a subordinate link in the testimony she requires, it would certainly be in a case so painful and affecting as this. Still, we cannot permit personal feeling, however amiable, or domestic attachment, however strong, to impede her progress when redressing public wrong. Although the duty be painful, and we admit that such a duty is one of unexampled agony, yet it must be complied with; and you consequently will answer the question which the counsel has put to you. The interests of society require such sacrifices, and they must be made."

The old man kept his eyes fixed on the judge while he spoke, but when he had ceased he again fixed them on his son.

"My lord," he exclaimed again, with clasped hands, "I can't, I can't!"

"There is nothing criminal, or improper, or sinful in it," replied the judge; "on the contrary, it is your duty, both as a Christian and a man. Remember, you have this moment sworn to tell the truth, and the whole truth; you consequently must keep your oath."

"What you say, sir, may be right, an' of coorse is; but oh, my lord, I'm not able; I can't get out the words to hang my only boy. If I said anything to hurt him, my heart 'ud break before your eyes. May be you don't know the love of a father for an only son?"

"Perhaps, my lords," observed the attorney-general, "it would be desirable to send for a clergyman of his own religion, who might succeed in prevailing on him to--"

"No," interrupted Fardorougha; "my mind's made up; a word against him will never come from my lips, not for priest or friar. I'd die widout the saykerment sooner."

"This is trifling with the court," said the judge, assuming an air of severity, which, however, he did not feel. "We shall be forced to commit you to prison unless you give evidence."

"My lord," said Fardorougha, meekly, but firmly, "I am willin' to go to prison--I am willin' to die with him, if he is to die, but I neither can nor will open my lips against him. If I thought him guilty I might; but I know he is innocent--my heart knows it; an' am I to back the villain that's strivin' to swear his life away? No, Connor avourneen, whatever they do to you, your father will have no hand in it."

The court, in fact, were perplexed in the extreme. The old man was not only firm, from motives of strong attachment, but intractable from an habitual narrowness of thought, which prevented him from taking that comprehensive view of justice and judicial authority which might overcome the repugnance of men less obstinate from ignorance of legal usages.

"I ask you for the last time," said the judge, "will you give your evidence? because, if you refuse, the court will feel bound to send you to prison."

"God bless you, my lord! that's a relief to my heart. Anything, anything, but to say a word against a boy that, since the day he was born, never vexed either his mother or myself. If he gets over this, I have much to make up to him; for, indeed, I wasn't the father to him that I ought. Avick machree, now I feel it, may be whin it's too late."

These words affected all who heard them, many even to tears.

"I have no remedy," observed the judge. "Tipstaff, take away the witness to prison. It is painful to me," he added, in a broken voice, "to feel compelled thus to punish you for an act which, however I may respect the motives that dictate it, I cannot overlook. The ends of justice cannot be frustrated."

"Mylord," exclaimed the prisoner, "don't punish the old man for refusing to speak against me. His love for me is so strong that I know he couldn't do it. I will state the truth myself, but spare him. I did not sleep in my own bed on the night Mr. O' Brien's haggard was burned, nor on the night before it. I slept in my father's barn, with Flanagan; both times at his own request but I did not then suspect his design in asking me."

"This admission, though creditable to your affection and filial duty, was indiscreet," observed the judge. "Whatever you think might be serviceable, suggest to your attorney, who can communicate it to your counsel."

"My lord," said Connor, "I could not see my father punished for loving me as he does an' besides I have no wish to conceal anything. If the whole truth could be known I would stand but a short time where I an nor would Flanagan be long out of it."

There is an earnest and impressive tone in truth, especially when spoken under circumstances of great difficulty, where it is rather disadvantageous to him who utters it, that in many instances produces conviction by an inherent candor which all feel, without as process of reasoning or argument. Theis was in those few words a warmth of affection towards his father, and a manly simplicity heart, each of which was duly appreciated by the assembly about him, who felt, without knowing why, the indignant scorn of falsehood that so emphatically pervaded his expressions. It was indeed impossible to hear them, and look upon his noble countenance and figure, without forgetting the humbleness of his rank in life, and feeling for him a marked deference and respect.

The trial then proceeded; but, alas! the hopes of Connor's friends abandoned them at its conclusion; for although the judge's charge was as favorable as the nature of the evidence permitted, yet it was quite clear that the jury had only one course to pursue, and that was to bring in a conviction. After the lapse of about ten minutes, they returned to the jury--box, and, as the foreman handed down their verdict, a feather might have been heard falling in the court. The faces of the spectators got pale, and the hearts of strong men beat as if the verdict about to be announced were to fall upon themselves, and not upon the prisoner. It is at all times an awful and trying ceremony to witness, but on this occasion it was a much more affecting one than had occurred in that court for many years. As the foreman handed down the verdict, Connor's eye followed the paper with the same calm resolution which he displayed during the trial. On himself there was no change visible, unless the appearance of two round spots, one on each cheek, of a somewhat deeper red than the rest. At length, in the midst of the dead silence, pronounced in a voice that reached to the remotest extremity of the court, was heard the fatal sentence--"Guilty;" and afterwards, in a less distinct manner--"with our strongest and most earnest recommendation for mercy, in consequence of his youth and previous good character." The wail and loud sobbings of the female part of the crowd, and the stronger but more silent grief of the men, could not, for many minutes, be repressed by any efforts of the court or its officers. In the midst of this, a little to the left of the dock, was an old man, whom those around him were conveying in a state of insensibility out of the court; and it was obvious that, from motives of humane consideration for the prisoner, they endeavored to prevent him from ascertaining that it was his father. In this, however, they failed; the son's eye caught a glimpse of his grey locks, and it was observed that his cheek paled for the first time, indicating, by a momentary change, that the only evidence of agitation he betrayed was occasioned by sympathy in the old man's sorrows, rather than by the contemplation of his own fate.

The tragic spirit of the day, however, was still to deepen, and a more stunning blow, though less acute in its agony, was to fall upon the prisoner. The stir of the calm and solemn jurors, as they issued out of their room; the hushed breaths of the spectators, the deadly silence that prevails, and the appalling announcement of the word "Guilty," are circumstances that test in man fortitude, more even than the passing of the fearful sentence itself. In the latter case, hope is banished, and the worst that can happen known; the mind is, therefore, thrown back upon its last energies, which give it strength in the same way in which the death-struggle frequently arouses the muscular action of the I body--an unconscious power or resistance that forces the culprit's heart to take refuge in the first and strongest instincts of its nature, the undying principle of self-preservation. No sooner was the verdict returned and silence obtained, than the judge, now deeply affected, put on the black cap, at which a low wild murmur of stifled grief and pity rang through the court-house; but no sooner was his eye bent on the prisoner than their anxiety to hear the sentence hushed them once more into the stillness of the grave. The prisoner looked upon him with an open but melancholy gaze, which, from the candid and manly character of his countenance, was touching in the extreme.

"Connor O'Donovan," said the judge, "have you anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon you?"

"My lord," he replied, "I can say nothing to prevent it. I am prepared for it. I know I must bear it, and I hope I will bear it as a man ought, that feels his heart free from even a thought of the crime he is to die for. I have nothing more to say."

"You have this day been found guilty," proceeded the judge, "and, in the opinion of the court, upon clear and satisfactory evidence, of a crime marked by a character of revenge, which I am bound to say must have proceeded from a very malignant spirit. It was a wanton act, for the perpetration of which your motives were so inadequate, that one must feel at a loss to ascertain the exact principle on which you committed it. It was also not only a wicked act, but one so mean, that a young man bearing the character of spirit and generosity which you have hitherto borne, as appears from the testimony of those respectable persons who this day have spoken in your favor, ought to have scorned to contemplate it even for a moment. Had the passion you entertained for the daughter of the man you so basely injured, possessed one atom of the dignity, disinterestedness, or purity of true affection, you never could have stooped to any act offensive to the object of your love, or to those even in the remotest degree related to her. The example, consequently, which you have held out to society, is equally vile and dangerous. A parent discharges the most solemn and important of all duties, when disposing of his children in marriage, because by that act he seals their happiness or misery in this life, and most probably in that which is to come. By what tie, by what duty, by what consideration, is not a parent bound to consult the best interests of those beloved beings whom he has brought into the world, and who, in a great measure, depend upon him as their dearest relative, their guardian by the voice of nature, for the fulfilment of those expectations upon which depend the principal comforts and enjoyments of life? Reason, religion, justice, instinct, the whole economy of nature, both in man and the inferior animals, all teach him to secure for them, as far as in him lies, the greatest sum of human happiness; but if there be one duty more sacred and tender than another, it is that which a parent is called upon to exercise on behalf of a daughter. The son, impressed by that original impulse which moves him to assume a loftier place in the conduct of life, and gifted also with a stronger mind, and clearer judgment, to guide him in its varied transactions, goes abroad into society, and claims for himself a bolder right of thought and a wider range of action, while determining an event which is to exercise, as marriage does, such an important influence upon his own future condition, and all the relations that may arise out of it. From this privilege the beautiful and delicate framework of woman's moral nature debars her, and she is consequently forced, by the graces of her own modesty--by the finer texture of her mind--by her greater purity and gentleness--in short, by all her virtues, into a tenderer and more affecting dependence upon the judgment and love of her natural guardians, whose pleasure is made, by a wise decree of God, commensurate with their duty in providing for her wants and enjoyments. There is no point of view in which the parental character shines forth with greater beauty than that in which it appears while working for and promoting the happiness of a daughter. But you, it would seem, did not think so. You punished the father by a dastardly and unmanly act, for guarding the future peace and welfare of a child so young, and so dear to him. What would become of society if this exercise of a parent's right on behalf of his daughter were to be visited upon him as a crime, by every vindictive and disappointed man, whose affection for them he might, upon proper grounds, decline to sanction? Yet it is singular, and, I confess, almost inexplicable to me at least, why you should have rushed into the commission of such an act. The brief period of your existence has been stained by no other crime. On the contrary, you have maintained a character far above your situation in life--a character equally remarkable for gentleness, spirit, truth, and affection--all of which your appearance and bearing have this day exhibited. Your countenance presents no feature expressive of ferocity, or of those headlong propensities which lead to outrage; and I must confess, that on no other occasion in my judicial life have I ever felt my judgment and my feelings so much at issue. I cannot doubt your guilt, but I shed those tears that it ever existed, and that a youth of so much promise should be cut down prematurely by the strong arm of necessary justice, leaving his bereaved parents bowed down with despair that can never be comforted. Had they another son--or another child, to whom their affections could turn--"

Here the judge felt it necessary to pause, in consequence of his emotions. Strong feelings had, indeed, spread through the whole court, in which, while he ceased, could be heard low moanings, and other symptoms of acute sorrow.

"It is now your duty to forget every earthly object on which your heart may have been fixed, and to seek that source of consolation and mercy which can best sustain and comfort you. Go with a penitent heart to the throne of your Redeemer, who, if your repentance be sincere, will in no wise cast you out. Unhappy youth, prepare yourself, let me implore you, for an infinitely greater and more awful tribunal than this. There, should the judgment be in your favor, you will learn that the fate, which has cut you off in the bloom of early life, will bring an accession of happiness to your being for which no earthly enjoyment here, however prolonged or exalted, could compensate you. The recommendation of the jury to the mercy of the crown, in consideration of your youth and previous good conduct, will not be overlooked; but in the mean time the court is bound to pronounce upon you the sentence of the law, which is, that you be taken from the prison from which you came, on the eighth of next month, at the hour of ten o'clock in the forenoon, to the front drop of the jail, and there hanged by the neck, until you be dead; and may God have mercy on your soul!"

"My lord," said the prisoner, unmoved in voice or in manner, unless it might be that both expressed more decision and energy than he had shown during any other part of the trial; "my lord, I am now a condemned man, but if I stood with the rope about my neck, ready to die, I would not exchange situations with the man that has: been my accuser. My lord, I can forgive him, and I ought, for I know he has yet to die, and must meet his God. As for myself, I am thankful that I have not such a conscience as his to bring before my Judge; and for this reason I am not afraid to die."

He was then removed amidst a murmur of grief, as deep and sincere as was ever expressed for a human being under circumstances of a similar character. After having! entered the prison, he was about to turn along a passage which led to the apartment hitherto allotted to him.

"This way," said the turnkey, "this way; God knows I would be glad to let you stop in the room you had, but I haven't the power. We must put you into one of the condemned cells; but by ---, it'll go hard if I don't stretch a little to make you as comfortable I as possible.

"Take no trouble," said Connor, "take no trouble. I care now but little about my own comfort; but if you wish to oblige me, bring me my father. Oh, my mother, my mother!--you, I doubt, are struck down already!"

"She was too ill to attend the trial to-day," replied the turnkey.

"I know it," said Connor; "but as she's not here, bring me my father. Send out a messenger for him, and be quick, for I wont rest till I see him--he wants comfort--the old man's heart will break."

"I heard them say," replied the turnkey, after they had entered the cell allotted to him, "that he was in a faint at Mat Corrigan's public house, but that he had recovered. I'll go myself and bring him in to you."

"Do," said Connor, "an' leave us the moment you bring him."

It was more than an hour before the man I returned, holding Fardorougha by the arm, and, after having left him in the cell, he instantly locked it outside, and withdrew as he had been desired. Connor ran to support his tottering steps; and wofully indeed did unfortunate parent stand in need of his assistance. In the picture presented by Fardorougha the unhappy young man forgot in a moment his own miserable and gloomy fate. There blazed in his father's eyes an excitement at once dead and wild--a vague fire without character, yet stirred by an incomprehensible energy wholly beyond the usual manifestations of thought or suffering. The son on beholding him shuddered, and not for the first time, for he had on one or two occasions before become apprehensive that his father's mind might, if strongly pressed, be worn down, by the singular conflict of which it was that scene, to that most frightful of all maladies--insanity. As the old man, however, folded him in his feeble arms, and attempted to express what he felt, the unhappy boy groaned aloud, and felt even in the depth of his cell, a blush of momentary shame suffuse his cheek and brow. His father, notwithstanding the sentence that had been so shortly before passed upon his son--that father, he perceived to be absolutely intoxicated, or, to use a more appropriate expression, decidedly drunk. There was less blame, however, to be attached to Fardorougha on this occasion, than Connor imagined. When the old man swooned in the court-house, he was taken by his neighbors to a public-house, where he lay for some minutes in a state of insensibility. On his recovery he was plied with burnt whiskey, as well to restore his strength and prevent a relapse, as upon the principle that it would enable him to sustain with more firmness the dreadful and shocking destiny which awaited his son. Actuated by motives of mistaken kindness, they poured between two and three glasses of this fiery cordial down his throat, which, as he had not taken so much during the lapse of thirty years before, soon reduced the feeble old man to the condition in which we have described him when entering the gloomy cell of the prisoner.

"Father," said Connor, "in the name of Heaven above, who or what has put you into this dreadful state, especially when we consider the hard, hard fate that is over us, and upon us?"

"Connor," returned Fardorougha, not perceiving the drift of his question, "Connor, my son, I'll hang--hang him, that's one comfort."

"Who are you spaking about?"

"The villain sentence was passed on to--to--day. He'll swing--swing for the robbery; P----e will. We got him back out of that nest of robbers, the Isle o' Man--o' Man they call it--that he made off to, the villain!"

"Father dear, I'm sorry to see you in this state on sich a day--sich a black day to us. For your sake I am. What will the world say of it?"

"Connor, I'm in great spirits all out, exceptin' for something that I forget, that--that--li--lies heavy upon me. That I mayn't sin, but I am--I am, indeed--for now that we've cotch him, we'll hang the villain up. Ha, ha, ha, it's a pleasant sight to see sich a fellow danglin' from a rope!"

"Father, sit down here, sit down here upon this bad and comfortless bed, and keep yourself quiet for a little. Maybe you'll get better soon. Oh, why did you drink, and us in such trouble?"

"I'll not sit down; I'm very well able to stand," said he, tottering across the room. "The villain thought to starve me, Connor, but you heard the sentence that was passed on him to-day. Where's Honor, from me? she'll be glad, whin--whin she hears it, and my son, Connor, will too--but he's, he's--where is Connor?--bring me, bring me to Connor. Ah, avourneen, Honor's heart's breaking for him--'t any rate, the mother's heart--the mother's heart--she's laid low wid an achin', sorrowful head for her boy."

"Father, for God's sake, will you try and rest a little? If you could sleep, father dear, if you could sleep."

"I'll hang P----e--I'll hang him--but if he gives me back my money, I'll not touch him. Who are you?"

"Father dear, I'm Connor, your own son, Connor."

"I'll marry you and Una, then. I'll settle all the villain robbed me of on you, and you'll have every penny of it after my death. Don't be keepin' me up, I can walk very well; ay, an' I'm in right good spirits. Sure, the money's got, Connor--got back every skilleen of it. Ha, ha, ha, God be praised! God be praised! We've a right to be thankful--the world isn't so bad afther all."

"Father, will you try and rest?"

"It's not bad, afther all--I won't starve, as I thought I would, now that the arrighad is got back from the villain. Ha, ha, ha, it's great, Connor, ahagur!"

"What is it, father dear."

"Connor, sing me a song--my heart's up--it's light--arn't you glad?--sing me a song."

"If you'll sleep first, father dear."

"The Uligone, Connor, or Shuilagra, or the Trougha--for, avourneen, avourneen, there must be sorrow in it, for my heart's low, and your mother's heart's in sorrow, an' she's lyin' far from us, an' her boy's not near her, an' her heart's sore, sore, and her head achin', bekase her boy's far from her, and she can't come to him!"

The boy, whose noble fortitude was unshaken during the formidable trial it had encountered in the course of that day, now felt overcome by this simple allusion to his mother's love. He threw his arms about his father's neck, and, placing his head upon his bosom, wept aloud for many, many minutes.

"Hiisth, Connor, husth, asthore--what makes you cry? Sure, all 'ill be right now that we've got back the money. Eh? Ha, ha, ha, it's great luck, Connor, isn't it great? An' you'll have it, you an' Una, afther my death--for I won't starve for e'er a one o' yees."

"Father, father, I wish you would rest."

"Well, I will, avick, I will--bring me to bed--you'll sleep in your own bed to-night. Your poor mother's head hasn't been off of the place where your own lay, Connor. No, indeed; her heart's low--it's breakin'--it's breakin'--but she won't let anybody make your bed but herself. Oh, the mother's love, Connor--that mother's love, that mother's love--but, Connor--"

"Well, father, dear."

"Isn't there something wrong, avick: isn't there something not right, somehow?"

This question occasioned the son to feel as if his heart would literally burst to pieces, especially when he considered the circumstances under which the old man put it. Indeed, there was something so transcendently appalling in his intoxication, and in the wild but affecting tone of his conversation, that, when joined to his pallid and spectral appearance, it gave a character, for the time being, of a mood that struck the heart with an image more frightful than that of madness itself.

"Wrong, father!" he replied, "all's wrong, and I can't understand it. It's wel for you that you don't know the doom that's upon us now, for I feel how it would bring you down, and how it will, too. It will kill you, my father--it will kill you."

"Connor, come home, avick, come home--I'm tired at any rate--come home to you mother--come, for her sake--I know I'm not at home, an' she'll not rest till I bring you safe back to her. Come now, I'll have no put offs--you must come, I say--I ordher you--I can't and won't meet her wid out you. Come, avick, an' you can sing mi the song goin' home--come wid your owi poor ould father, that can't live widout you--come, a sullish machree, I don't feel right here--we won't be properly happy till we go to your lovin' mother."

"Father, father, you don't know what you're making me suffer! What heart, blessed heaven, can bear--"

The door of his cell here opened, and the turnkey stated that some five or six of his friends were anxious to see him, and, above all things, to take charge of his father to his own home. This was a manifest relief to the young man, who then felt more deeply on his unhappy father's account than on his own.

"Some foolish friends," said he, "have given my father liquor, an' it has got into his head--indeed, it overcame him the more as I never remember him to taste a drop of spirits during his life before. I can see no body now an' him in this state; but if they wish me well, let them take care of him, and leave him safe at his own house, and tell them I'll be glad if I can see them tomorrow, or any other time."

With considerable difficulty Fardorougha was removed from Connor, whom he clung to with all his strength, attempting also to drag him away. He then wept bitterly, because he declined to accompany him home, that he might comfort his mother, and enjoy the imagined recovery of his money from P----e, and the conviction which he believed they had just succeeded in getting against that notorious defaulter.

After they had departed, Connor sat down upon his hard pallet, and, supporting his head with his hand, saw, for the first time, in all its magnitude and horror, the death to which he found himself now doomed. The excitement occasioned by his trial, and his increasing firmness, as it darkened on through all its stages to the final sentence, now had--in a considerable degree abandoned him, and left his heart, at present, more accessible to natural weakness than it it had been to the power of his own affections. The image of his early-loved Una had seldom since his arrest been out of his imagination. Her youth, her beauty, her wild but natural grace, and the flashing glances of her dark enthusiastic eye, when joined to her tenderness and boundless affection for himself--all caused his heart to quiver with deadly anguish through every fibre. This produced a transition to Flanagan--the contemplation of whose perfidious vengeance made him spring from his seat in a paroxysm of indignant but intense hatred, so utterly furious that the swelling tempest which it sent through his veins caused him to reel with absolute giddiness.

"Great God!" he exclaimed, "you are just, and will this be suffered?"

He then thought of his parents, and the fiery mood of his mind changed to one of melancholy and sorrow. He looked back upon his aged father's enduring struggle--upon the battle of the old man's heart against the accursed vice which had swayed its impulses so long--on the protracted conflict between the two energies, which, like contending fivmies in the field, had now left little but ruin and desolation behind them. His heart, when he brought all these things near him, expanded, and like a bird, folded its wings about the gray-haired martyr to the love he bore him. But his mother--the caressing, the proud, the affectionate, whose heart, in the vivid tenderness of hope for her beloved boy, had shaped out his path in life, as that on which she could brood with the fondness of a loving and delighted spirit--that mother's image, and the idea of her sorrows prostrated his whole strength, like that of a stricken infant, to the earth.

"Mother, mother," he exclaimed, "when I think of what you reared me for, and what I am this night, how can my heart do otherwise than break, as well on your account as on my own, and for all that love us! Oh! what will become of you, my blessed mother? Hard does it go with you that you're not about your pride, as you used to call me, now that I'm in this trouble, in this fate that is soon to cut me down from your loving arms! The thought of you is dear to my heart, dear, dearer, dearer than that of any--than my own Una. What will become of her, too, and the old man? Oh, why, why is it that the death I am to suffer is to fall so heavily on them that love me best?"

He then returned to his bed, but the cold and dreary images of death and ruin haunted his imagination, until the night was far spent, when at length he fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

By the sympathy expressed at his trial, our readers may easily conceive the profound sorrow which was felt for him, in the district where he was known, from the moment the knowledge of his sentence had gone abroad among the people. This was much strengthened by that which, whether in man or woman, never fails to create an amiable prejudice in its favor--I mean youth and personal beauty. His whole previous character was now canvassed with a mournful lenity that brought out his virtues into beautiful relief; and the fate of the affectionate son was deplored no less than that of the youthful, but rash and inconsiderate lover. Neither was the father without his share of compassion, for they could not forget that, despite of all his penury and extortion, the old man's heart had been fixed, with a strong but uncouth affection, upon his amiable and only boy. It was, however, when they thought of his mother, in whose heart of hearts he had been enshrined as the idol of her whole affection, that their spirits became truly touched. Many a mother assumed in her own person, by the force of imagination, the sinking woman's misery, and poured forth, in unavailing tears, the undeniable proofs of the sincerity with which she participated in Honor's bereavement. As for Flanagan, a deadly weight of odium, such as is peculiar to the Informer in Ireland, fell upon both him and his. Nor was this all. Aided by that sagacity which is so conspicuous in Irishmen, when a vindictive or hostile feeling is excited among them, they depicted Flanagan's character with an accuracy and truth astonishingly correct and intuitive. Numerous were the instances of cowardice, treachery, and revenge remembered against him, by those who had been his close and early companions, not one of which would have ever occurred to them, were it not that their minds had been thrown back upon the scrutiny by the melancholy fate in which he had involved the unhappy Connor O'Donovan. Had he been a mere ordinary witness in the matter, he would have experienced little of this boiling indignation at their hands; but first to participate in the guilt, and afterwards, for the sake of the reward, or from a worse and more flagitious motive, to turn upon him, and become his accuser, even to the taking away of the young man's life--to stag against his companion and accomplice--this was looked upon as a crime ten thousand times more black and damnable than that for which the unhappy culprit had been consigned to so shameful a death.

But, alas, of what avail was all this sympathy and indignation to the unfortunate youth himself or to those most deeply interested in his fate? Would not the very love and sorrow felt towards her son fall upon his mother's heart with a heavier weight of bitterness and agony? Would not his Una's soul be wounded on that account with a sharper and more deadly pang of despair and misery? It would, indeed, be difficult to say whether the house of Bodagh Buie or that of Fardorougha was then in the deeper sorrow. On the morning of Connor's trial, Una arose at an earlier hour than usual, and it was observed when she sat at breakfeast, that her cheek was at one moment pale as death, and again flushed and feverish. These symptoms were first perceived by her affectionate brother, who, on witnessing the mistakes she made in pouring out the tea, exchanged a glance with his parents, and afterwards asked her to allow him to take her place. She laid down the tea-pot, and, looking him mournfully in the face, attempted to smile at a request so unusual.

"Una, dear," said he, "you must allow me. There is no necessity for attempting to conceal what you feel--we all know it--and if we did not, the fact of your having filled the sugar-bowl instead of the tea-cup would soon discover it."

She said nothing, but looked at him again, as if she scarcely comprehended what he said. A glance, however, at the sugar-bowl convinced her that she was incapable of performing the usual duties of the breakfast table. Hitherto she had not raised her eyes to her father or mother's face, nor spoken to them as had been her wont, when meeting at that strictly domestic meal. The unrestrained sobbings of the mother now aroused her for the first time, and on looking up, she saw her father wiping away the big tears from his eyes.

"Una, avourneen," said the worthy man, "let John make tay for us--for, God help you, you can't do it. Don't fret, achora machree, don't, don't, Una; as God is over me, I'd give all I'm worth to save him, for your sake."

She looked at her father and smiled again; but that smile cut him to the heart.

"I will make the tea myself, father," she replied, "and I won't commit any more mistakes;" and as she spoke she unconsciously poured the tea into the slop--bowl.

"Avourneen," said her mother, "let John do it; acushla machree, let him do it."

She then rose, and without uttering a word, passively and silently placed herself on her brother's chair--he having, at the same time, taken that on which she sat.

"Una," said her father, taking her hand, "you must be a good girl, and you must have courage; and whatever happens, my darling, you'll pluck up strength, I hope, and bear it."

"I hope so, father," said she, "I hope so."

"But, avourneen machree," said her mother, "I would rather see you cryin' fifty times over, than smilin' the way you do."

"Mother," said she, "my heart is sore--my heart is sore."

"It is, ahagur machree; and your hand is tremblin' so much that you can't bring the tay--cup to your mouth; but, then, don't smile so sorrowfully, anein machree."

"Why should I cry, mother?" she replied; "I know that Connor is innocent. If I knew him to be guilty, I would weep, and I ought to weep."

"At all events, Una," said her father, "you know it's the government, and not us, that's prosecuting him."

To this Una made no reply, but, thrusting away her cup, she looked with the same mournful smile from one to the other of the little circle about her. At length she spoke.

"Father, I have a request to ask of you."

"If it's within my power, Una darling, I'll grant it; and if it's not, it'll go hard with me but I'll bring it within my power. What is it, asthore machree?"

"In case he's found guilty, to let John put off his journey to Maynooth, and stay with me for some time--it won't be long I'll keep him."

"If it pleases you, darling, he'll never put his foot into Maynooth again."

"No," said the mother, "dhamnho to the step, if you don't wish him."

"Oh, no, no," said Una, "it's only for a while."

"Unless she desires it, I will never go," replied the loving brother; "nor will I ever leave you in your sorrow, my beloved and only sister--never--never--so long as a word from my lips can give you consolation."

The warm tears coursed each other down his cheeks as he spoke, and both his parents, on looking at the almost blighted flower before them, wept as if the hand of death had already been upon her.

"Father, and John are going to his trial," she observed; "for me I like to be alone;--alone; but when you return to-night, let John break it to me. I'll go now to the garden. I'll walk about to-day--only before you go, John, I want to speak to you."

Calmly and without a tear, she then left the parlor, and proceeded to the garden, where she began to dress and ornament the hive which contained the swarm that Connor had brought to her on the day their mutual attachment was first disclosed to each other.

"Father," said John, when she had gone, "I'm afraid that Una's heart is broken, or if not broken, that she won't survive his conviction long--it's breaking fast--for my part, in her present state, I neither will nor can leave her."

The affectionate father made no reply, but, putting his handkerchief to his eyes, wept, as did her mother, in silent but bitter grief.

"I cannot spake about it, nor think of it, John," said he, after some time, "but we must do what we can for her."

"If anything happens her," said the mother, "I'd never get over it. Oh marciful Savior! how could we live widout her?"

"I would rather see her in tears," said John--"I would rather see her in outrageous grief a thousand times than in the calm but ghastly resolution with which she is bearing herself up against the trial of this day. If he's condemned to death, I'm afraid that either her health or reason will sink under it, and, in that case, God pity her and us, for how, as you say, mother, could we afford to lose her? Still let us hope for the best. Father, it's time to prepare; get the car ready. I am going to the garden, to hear what the poor thing has to say to me, but I will be with you soon."

Her brother found her, as we have said, engaged calmly, and with a melancholy pleasure, in adorning the hive which, on Connor's account, had become her favorite. He was not at all sorry that she had proposed this short interview, for, as his hopes of Connor's acquittal were but feeble, if, indeed, he could truly be said to entertain any, he resolved, by delicately communicating his apprehensions, to gradually prepare her mind for the worst that might happen. _

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