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Fardorougha, The Miser, a novel by William Carleton

Part 5

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On hearing his step she raised her head, and advancing towards the middle of the garden, took his arm, and led him towards the summer--house in which Connor and she had first acknowledged their love. She gazed wistfully upon it after they entered, and wrung her hands, but still shed no tears.

"Una," said her brother, "you had something to say to me; what is it, darling?"

She glanced timidly at him, and blushed.

"You won't be angry with me, John," she replied; "would it be proper for me to--to go"--

"What! to be present at the trial? Dear Una, you cannot think of it. It would neither be proper nor prudent, and you surely would not be considered indelicate? Besides, even were it not so, your strength is unequal to it. No, no, Una dear; dismiss it from your thoughts."

"I fear I could not stand it, indeed, John, even if it were proper; but I know not what to do; there is a weight like death upon my heart. If I could shed a tear it would relieve me; but I cannot."

"It is probably better you should feel so, Una, than to entertain hopes upon the matter that may be disappointed. It is always wisest to prepare for the worst, in order to avoid the shock that may come upon us, and which always falls heaviest when it comes contrary to our expectations."

"I do not at all feel well," she replied, "and I have been thinking of the best way to break this day's tidings to me, when you come home. If he's cleared, say, good-humoredly, 'Una, all's lost;' and if--if not, oh, desire me--say to me, 'Una, you had better go to bed, and let yaur mother go with you;' that will be enough; I will go to bed, and if ever I rise from it again, it will not be from a love of life."

The brother, seeing that conversation on the subject of her grief only caused her to feel more deeply, deemed it better to terminate than to continue a dialogue which only aggravated her sufferings.

"I trust and hope, dear Una," he said, "that you will observe my father's advice, and make at least a worthy effort to support yourself, under what certainly is a heavy affliction to you, in a manner becoming your own character. For his sake--for my mother's, and for mine, too, endeavor to have courage; be firm--and, Una, if you take my advice, you'll pray to God to strengthen you; for, after all, there is no support in the moment of distress and sorrow, like His."

"But is it not strange, John, that such heavy misfortunes should fall upon two persons so young, and who deserve it so little?"

"It may be a trial sent for your advantage and his; who can say but it may yet end for the good of you both? At present, indeed, there is no probability of its ending favorably, and, even should it not, we are bound to bear with patience such dispensations as the Great Being, to whom we owe our existence, and of whose ways we know so little, may think right to lay upon us. Now, God bless you, and support you, dear, till I see you again. I must go; don't you hear the jaunting-car driving up to the gate; be firm--dear Una--be firm, and good--by!"

Never was a day spent under the influence of a more terrible suspense than that which drank up the strength of this sinking girl during the trial of her lover. Actuated by a burning and restless sense of distraction, she passed from place to place with that mechanical step which marks those who seek for comfort in vain. She retired to her apartment and strove to pray; but the effort was fruitless; the confusion of her mind rendered connection and continuity of thought and language impossible. At one moment she repaired to the scenes where they had met, and again with a hot and aching brain, left them with a shudder that arose from a withering conception of the loss of him whose image, by their association, was at once rendered more distinct and more beloved. Her poor mother frequently endeavored to console her, but became too much affected herself to proceed. Nor were the servants less anxious to remove the heavy load of sorrow which weighed down her young spirit to the earth. Her brief, but affecting reply was the same to each.

"Nothing can comfort me; my heart is breaking; oh, leave me--leave me to the sorrow that's upon, me."

Deep, indeed, was the distress felt on her account, even by the females of her father's house, who, that day, shed many bitter tears on witnessing the mute but feverish agony of her sufferings. As evening approached she became evidently more distracted and depressed; her head, she said, felt hot, and her temples occasionally throbbed with considerable violence. The alternations of color on her cheek were more frequent than before, and their pallid and carmine hues were more alarmingly contrasted. Her weeping mother took the stricken one to her bosom, and, after kissing her burning and passive lips, pressed her temples with a hope that this might give her relief.

"Why don't you cry, anien maehree? (daughter of my heart). Thry and shed tears; it 'ill take away this burning pain that's in your poor head; oh, thry and let down the tears, and you'll see how it 'ill relieve I you."

"Mother, I can't," she replied; "I can shed no tears; I wish they were home, for I the worst couldn't be worse than this."

"No, asthore, it couldn't--it can't; husth! I--do you hear it? There they are; that's the car; ay, indeed, it's at the gate."

They both listened for a moment, and the voices of her father and brother were distinctly heard giving some necessary orders! to the servant.

"Mother, mother," exclaimed Una, pressing her hands upon her heart, "my heart is bursting, and my temples--my temples--"

"Chierna yeelish," said the mother, feeling its strong and rapid palpitations, "you can't stand this. Oh, darling of my heart, for the sake of your own life, and of the living God, be firm!"

At this moment their knock at the hall-door occasioned her to leap with a sudden start, almost out of her mother's arms. But, all at once, the tumult of that heart ceased, and the vermillion of her cheek changed to the hue of death. With a composure probably more the result of weakness than fortitude, she clasped her hands, and giving a fixed gaze towards the parlor-door, that spoke the resignation of despair, she awaited the tidings of her lover's doom. They both entered, and, after a cautious glance about the room, immediately perceived the situation in which, reclining on her mother's bosom, she lay, ghastly as a corpse, before them.

"Una, dear," said John, approaching her, "I am afraid you are ill."

She riveted her eyes upon him, as if she would read his soul, but she could not utter a syllable.

The young man's countenance became overshadowed by a deep and mournful sense of the task he found himself compelled to perform; his voice faltered, and his lips trembled, as--, in a low tone of heartfelt and profound sympathy, he exclaimed:

"Una, dear, you had better go to bed, and let my mother stay with you." Calmly she heard him, and, rising, she slowly but deliberately left the room, and proceeded up stairs with a degree of steadiness which surprised her mother. The only words she uttered on hearing this blighting communication, were, "Come with me, mother."

"Una, darling," said the latter when they had reached the bed-room, "why don't you spake to me? Let me hear your voice, jewel; only let me hear your voice."

Una stooped and affectionately kissed her, but made no reply for some minutes. She then began to undress, which she did in fits and starts; sometimes pausing, in evident abstraction, for a considerable time, and again resuming the task of preparing for bed.

"Mother," she at length said, "my heart is as cold as ice; but my brain is burning; feel my temples; how hot they are, and how they beat!"

"I do, alanna dheelish; your body, as well as your mind, is sick; but we'll sind for the doctor, darlin', and you'll soon be betther, I hope."

"I hope so; and then Connor and I can be married in spite of them. Don't they say, mother, that marriages are made in heaven?"

"They do, darlin'."

"Well, then, I will meet him there. Oh, my head--my head! I cannot bear--bear this racking pain."

Her mother, who, though an uneducated woman, was by no means deficient in sagacity, immediately perceived that her mind was beginning to exhibit symptoms of being unsettled. Having, therefore, immediately called one of the maid-servants, she gave her orders to stay with Una, who had now gone to bed, until she herself could again return to her. She instantly proceeded to the parlor, where her husband and son were, and with a face pale from alarm, told them that she feared Una's mind was going.

"May the Almighty forbid!" exclaimed her father, laying down his knife and fork, for they had just sat down to dinner; "oh, what makes you say such a thing, Bridget? What on earth makes you think it?"

"For Heaven's sake, mother, tell us at once," inquired the son, rising from the table, and walking distractedly across the room.

"Why, she's beginning to rave about him," replied her mother; "she's afther saying that she'll be married to him in spite o' them."

"In spite o' who, Bridget?" asked the Bodagh, wiping his eyes--"in spite o' who does she mane?"

"Why, I suppose in spite of Flanagan and thim that found him guilty," replied his wife.

"Well, but what else did she say, mother?"

"She axed me if marriages warn't made in heaven; and I tould her that the people said so; upon that she said she'd meet him there, and then she complained of her head. The trewth is, she has a heavy load of sickness on her back, and the sorra hour should be lost till we get a docthor."

"Yes, that is the truth, mother; I'll go this moment for Dr. H----. There's nothing like taking these things in time. Poor Una! God knows this trial is a sore one upon a heart so, faithful and affectionate as hers."

"John, had you not betther ait something before you go?" said his father; "you want it afther the troublesome day you had."

"No, no," replied the son; "I cannot--I cannot; I will neither eat nor drink till I hear what the doctor will say about her. O, my God!" he exclaimed, whilst his eyes filled with tears, "and is it come to this with you, our darling Una?--I won't lose a moment till I return," he added, as he went out; "nor will I, under any circumstances, come without medical aid of some kind."

"Let these things be taken away, Bridget," said the Bodagh; "my appetite is gone, too; that last news is the worst of all. May the Lord of heaven keep our child's mind right! for, oh, Bridget, wouldn't death itself be far afore that?"

"I'm going up to her," replied his wife; "and may God guard her, and spare her safe and sound to us; for what--what kind of a house would it be if she----but I can't think of it. Oh, wurrah, wurrah, this night!"

Until the return of their son, with the doctor, both O'Brien and his wife hung in a state of alarm bordering on agony over the bed of their beloved daughter. Indeed, the rapidity and vehemence with which incoherence, accompanied by severe illness, set in, were sufficient to excite the greatest alarm, and to justify their darkest apprehensions. Her skin was hot almost to burning; her temples throbbed terribly, and such were her fits of starting and raving, that they felt as if every minute were an hour, until the physician actually made his appearance. Long before tins gentleman reached the house, the son had made him fully acquainted with what he looked upon as the immediate cause of her illness; not that the doctor himself had been altogether ignorant of it, for, indeed, there were few persons of any class or condition in the neighborhood to whom that circumstance was unknown.

On examining the diagnostics that presented themselves, he pronounced her complaint to be brain fever of the most formidable class, to wit, that which arises from extraordinary pressure upon the mind, and unusual excitement of the feelings. It was a relief to her family, however, to know that beyond the temporary mental aberrations, inseparable from the nature of her complaint, there was no evidence whatsoever of insanity. They felt grateful to God for this, and were consequently enabled to watch her sick-bed with more composure, and to look forward to her ultimate recovery with a hope less morbid and gloomy. In this state we are now compelled to leave them and her, and to beg the reader will accompany us to another house of sorrow, where the mourning was still more deep, and the spirits that were wounded driven into all the wild and dreary darkness of affliction.

Our readers cannot forget the helpless state of intoxication, in which Fardorougha left his unhappy son on the evening of the calamitous day that saw him doomed to an ignominious death. His neighbors, as we then said, having procured a car, assisted him home, and would, for his wife's and son's sake, have afforded him all the sympathy in their power; he was, however, so completely overcome with the spirits he had drank, and an unconscious latent feeling of the dreadful sentence that had been pronounced upon his son, that he required little else at their hands than to keep him steady on the car. During the greater part of the journey home, his language was only a continuation of the incoherencies which Connor had, with such a humiliating sense of shame and sorrow, witnessed in his prison cell. A little before they arrived within sight of his house, his companions perceived that he had fallen asleep; but to a stranger, ignorant of the occurrences of the day, the car presented the appearance of a party returning from a wedding or from some other occasion equally festive and social. Most of them were the worse for liquor, and one of them in particular had reached a condition which may be too often witnessed in this country. I mean that in which the language becomes thick; the eye knowing but vacant; the face impudent but relaxed; the limbs tottering, and the voice inveterately disposed to melody. The general conversation, therefore, of those who accompanied the old man was, as is usual with persons so circumstanced, high and windy; but as far as could be supposed by those who heard them cheerful and amiable. Over the loudness of their dialogue might be heard, from time to time, at a great distance, the song of the drunken melodist just alluded to, rising into those desperate tones which borrow their drowsy energy from intoxication alone. Such was the character of those who accompanied the miser home; and such were the indications conveyed to the ears or eyes of I those who either saw or heard them, as they approached Fardorougha's dwelling, where the unsleeping heart of the mother watched--and oh! with what a dry and burning anguish of expectation, let our readers judge--for the life or death of the only child that God had ever vouchsafed to that loving heart on which to rest all its tenderest hopes and affections.

The manner in which Honor O'Donovan spent that day was marked by an earnest and simple piety that would have excited high praise and admiration if witnessed in a person of rank or consideration in society. She was, as the reader may remember, too ill to be able to attend the trial of her son, or as she herself expressed it in Irish, to draw strength to her heart by one look at his manly face; by one glance from her boy's eye. She resolved, however, to draw consolation from a higher source, and to rest the burden of her sorrows, as far as in her lay, upon that being in whose hands are the issues of life and death. From the moment her husband left the threshold of his childless house on that morning until his return, her prayers to God and the saints were truly incessant. And who is so well acquainted with the inscrutable ways of the Almighty, as to dare assert that the humble supplications of this pious and sorrowful mother were not heard and answered? Whether it was owing to the fervor of an imagination wrought upon by the influence of a creed which nourishes religious enthusiasm in an extraordinary degree, or whether it was by direct support from that God who compassionated her affliction, let others determine; but certain it is, that in the course of that day she gained a calmness and resignation, joined to an increasing serenity of heart, such as she had not hoped to feel under a calamity so black and terrible.

On hearing the approach of the car which bore her husband home, and on listening to the noisy mirth of those, who, had they been sober, would have sincerely respected her grief, she put up an inward prayer of thanksgiving to God for what she supposed to be the happy event of Connor's acquittal. Stunning was the blow, however, and dreadful the revulsion of feelings, occasioned by the discovery of this sad mistake. When they reached the door she felt still farther persuaded that all had ended as she wished, for to nothing else, except the wildness of unexpected joy, could she think of ascribing her husband's intoxication.

"We must carry Fardorougha in," said one of them to the rest; "for the liquor has fairly overcome him--he's sound asleep."

"He is cleared!" exclaimed the mother; "he is cleared! My heart tells me he has come out without a stain. What else could make his father, that never tasted liquor for the last thirty years, be as he is?"

"Honor O'Donovan," said one of them, wringing her hand as he spoke, "this has been a black day to you all; you must prepare yourself for bad news."

"Thin Christ and his blessed mother support me, and support us all! but what is the worst? oh, what is the worst?"

"The barradh dhu," replied the man, alluding to the black cap which the judge puts on when passing sentence of death.

"Well," said she, "may the name of the Lord that sent this upon us be praised forever! That's no rason why we shouldn't still put our trust and reliance in him. I will show them, by the help of God's grace, an' by the assistance of His blessed mother, who suffered herself--an' oh, what is my sufferin's to her's?--I will show them I say, that I can bear, as a Christian ought, whatever hard fate it may plase the Saviour of the earth to lay upon us. I know my son is innocent, an surely, although it's hard, hard to part with such a boy, yet it's a consolation to know that he'll be better wid God, who is takin' him, than ever he'd be wid us. So the Lord's will be done this night and forever! amin!"

This noble display of glowing piety and fortitude was not lost upon those who witnessed it. After littering these simple but exalted sentiments, she crossed herself devoutly, as is the custom, and bowed her head with such a vivid sense of God's presence, that it seemed as if she actually stood, as no doubt she did, under the shadow of His power. These men, knowing the force of her love to that son, and the consequent depth of her misery at losing him by a death so shameful and violent, reverently took off their hats as she bent her head to express this obedience to the decrees of God, and in a subdued tone and manner exclaimed, almost with one voice--

"May God pity you, Honor! for who but yourself would or could act as you do this bitther, bitther night?"

"I'm only doin' what I ought to do," she replied, "what is religion good for if it doesn't keep the heart right an' support us undher thrials like this; what 'ud it be then but a name? But how, oh how, came his father to be in sich a state on this bitther, bitther night, as you say it is--aif oh! Heaven above sees it's that--how came his father, I say, into sich a state?"

They then related the circumstance as it actually happened; and she appeared much relieved to hear that his inebriety was only accidental.

"I am glad," she said, "that he got it as he did; for, indeed, if he had made himself dhrunk this day, as too many like him do on such occasions, he never again would appear the same man in my eyes, nor would my heart ever more warm to him as it did. But thanks to God that he didn't take it himself!"

She then heard, with a composure that could result only from fortitude and resignation united, a more detailed account of her son's trial, after which she added--

"As God is above me this night I find it asier to lose Connor than to forgive the man that destroyed him; but this is a bad state of heart, that I trust my Saviour will give me grace to overcome; an' I know He will if I ax it as I ought; at all events, I won't lay my side on a bed this night antil I pray to God to forgive Bartle Flanagan an' to turn his heart."

She then pressed them, with a heart as hospitable as it was pious, to partake of food, which they declined, from a natural reluctance to give trouble where the heart is known to be pressed down by the violence of domestic calamity. These are distinctions which our humble countrymen draw with a delicacy that may well shame those who move in a higher rank of life. Respect for unmerited affliction, and sympathy for the sorrows of the just and virtuous, are never withheld by the Irish peasant when allowed by those who can guide him either for goqd or for evil to follow the impulses of his own heart. The dignity, for instance, of Honor O'Donovan's bearing under a trial so overwhelming in its nature, and the piety with which she supported it, struck them, half tipsy as they were, so forcibly, that they became sobered down--some of them into a full perception of her firmness and high religious feelings; and those who were more affected by drink into a maudlin gravity of deportment still more honorable to the admirable principles of the woman who occasioned it.

One of the latter, for instance, named Bat Hanratty, exclaimed, after they had bade her good, night, and expressed their unaffected sorrow for the severe loss she was about to sustain:

"Well, well, you may all talk; but be the powdhers o' delf, nothin' barrin' the downright grace o' God could sup--sup--port that dacent mother of ould Fardorougha--I mane of his son, poor Connor. But the truth is, you see, that there's nothin'--nothin' no, the divil saize the hap'o'rth at all, good, bad, or indifferent aquil to puttin' your trust in God; bekase, you see--Con Roach, I say--bekase you see, when a man does that as he ought to do it; for it's all faisthelagh if you go the wrong way about it; but Con--Condy, I say, you're a dacent man, an' it stands to raison--it does, boys--upon my soul it does. It wasn't for nothin' that money was lost upon myself, when I was takin' in the edjigation; and maybe, if Connor O'Donovan, that is now goin' to suffer, poor fellow--

For the villain swore away my life, an' all by perjuree;
And for that same I die wid shame upon the gallows tree.

So, as I was sayin', why didn't Connor come in an' join the boys like another, an' then we could settle Bartle for staggin' against him. For, you see, in regard o'. that, Condy, it doesn't signify a traneen whether he put a match to the haggard or not; the thing is, you know, that even if he did, Bartle daren't sweat against him widout breakin' his first oath to the boys; an' if he did it afther that, an' brought any of them into throuble conthrary to the articles, be gorra he'd be entitled to get a gusset opened undher one o' his ears, any how. But you see, Con, be the book--God pardon me for swearin'--but be the book, the mother has the thrue! ralligion in her heart, or she'd never stand it the way she does, an' that proves what I was axpoundin'; that afther all, the sorra hap'-o'rth aquil to the grace o' God."

He then sang a comic song, and, having passed an additional eulogium on the conduct of Honor O'Donovan, concluded by exhibiting some rather unequivocal symptoms of becoming pathetic from sheer sympathy; after which the stiporific effect of his libations soon hushed him into a snore that acted as a base to the shrill tones in which his companions I addressed one another from each side of the car.

Fardorougha, ever, since the passion of avarice had established its accursed dominion in his heart, narrowed by degrees his domestic establishment, until, towards the latter years of his life, it consisted of only a laboring boy, as the term is, and a servant girl.

Indeed, no miser was ever known to maintain a large household; and that for reasons too obvious to be detailed. Since Connor's incarceration, however, his father's heart had so far expanded, that he hired two men as inside servants, one of them, now the father of a large family, being the identical Nogher M'Cormick, who, as the reader remembers, was in his service at the time of Connor's birth. The other was a young man named Thaddy Star, or Reillaghan, as it is called in Irish, who was engaged upon the recommendation of Biddy Nulty, then an established favorite with her master and mistress, in consequence of her faithful devotion to! them and Connor, and her simple-hearted participation in their heavy trouble. The manner in which they received the result of her son's trial was not indeed calculated to sustain his mother. In the midst of the clamor, however, she was calm and composed; but it would have been evident, to a close observer, that a deep impression of religious duty alone sustained her, and that the yearnings of the mother's heart, though stilled by resignation to the Divine Will, were yet more intensely agonized by the suppression of what she secretly felt. Such, however, is the motive of those heroic acts of self-denial, which religion only can enable us to perform. It does not harden the heart, or prevent it from feeling the full force of the calamity or sorrow which comes upon us; no, but whilst we experience it in all the rigor of distress, it teaches us to reflect that suffering is our lot, and that it is our duty to receive these severe dispensations in such a manner as to prevent others from being corrupted by our impatience, or by our open want of submission to the decrees of Providence. When the agony of the Man of Sorrow was at its highest, He retired to a solitary place, and whilst every pore exuded water and blood, he still exclaimed--"Not My will, but Thine be done." Here was resignation, indeed, but at the same time a heart exquisitely sensible of all it had to bear. And much, indeed, as yet lay before that of the pious mother of our unhappy hero, and severe was the trial which, on this very night, she was doomed to encounter.

When Fardorougha awoke, which he did not do until about three o'clock in the morning, he looked wildly about him, and, starting up in the bed, put his two hands on his temples, like a man distracted by acute pain; yet anxious to develop in his memory the proceedings of the foregoing day. The inmates, however, were startled from their sleep by a shriek, or rather a yell, so loud and unearthly that in a few minutes they stood collected about his bed. It would be impossible, indeed, to conceive, much less to describe, such a picture of utter horror as then presented itself to their observation. A look that resembled the turbid glare of insanity was riveted upon them whilst he uttered shriek after shriek, without the power of articulating a syllable. The room, too, was dim and gloomy; for the light of the candle that was left burning beside him had become ghastly for want of snuffing. There he sat--his fleshless hands pressed against his temples; his thin, gray hair standing out wildly from his head; his lips asunder; and his cheeks sucked in so far that the chasms occasioned in his jawbones, by the want of his back teeth, were plainly visible.

"Chiemah dheelish," exclaimed Honor, "what is this? as Heaven's above me, I believe he's dyin'; see how he gasps! Here, Fardorougha," she exclaimed, seizing a jug of water which had been left on a chair beside him, but which he evidently did not see, "here, here, darlin', wet your lips; the cool water will refresh you."

He immediately clutched the jug with eager and trembling hands, and at one rapid draught emptied it to the bottom.

"Now," he shouted, "I can spake, now I can spake. Where's my son? where's my son? an' what has happened me? how did I come here? was I mad? am I mad? but tell me, tell me first, where's Connor? Is it thrue? is it all thrue? or is it me that's mad?"

"Fardorougha, dear," said his wife, "be a man, or, rather, be a Christian. It was God gave Connor to us, and who has a better right to take him back from us? Don't go flyin' in His face, bekase He won't ordher everything as you wish. You haven't taken off of you to-night, so rise, dear, and calm yourself; then go to your knees, lift your heart to God, and beg of Him to grant you stringth and patience. Thry that coorse, avoumeen, an' you'll find it the best."

"How did I come home I say, Oh tell me Honor, was I out of my wits?"

"You fainted," she replied; they gave you whiskey to support you; an' not bein' accustomed to it, it got into your head."

"Oh, Honor, our son, our son!" he replied; then, starting out of the bed in a fit of the wildest despair, he clasped his handy together, and shrieked out, "Oh, our son, our son, our son Connor! Merciful Saviour, how will I name it? to be hanged by the neck! Oh, Honor, Honor, don't you pity me? don't you pity me? Mother of Heaven, this night? That barradh dim, that barradh dim, put on for our boy, our innocent boy; who can undherstand it, Honor? It's not justice; there's no justice in Heaven, or my son wouldn't be murdhered, slaughtered down in the prime of his life, for no rason! But no matther; let him be taken; only hear this: if he goes, I'll never,bend my knee to a single prayer while I've life; for it's terrible, it's cruel, 'tisn't justice; nor do I care what becomes of me, either in this world or the other. All I want, Honor, is to folly him as soon as I can; my hopes, my happiness, my life, my everything, is gone wid him; an' what need I care, thin, what becomes of me? I don't, I don't."

The faces of the domestics grew pale as they heard, with silent horror, the incoherent blasphemies of the frantic miser; but his wife, whose eyes were riveted on him while he spoke, and paced, with a hurried step, up and down the room, felt at a loss whether to attribute his impiety to an attack of insanity, or to a temporary fever, brought on by his late sufferings and the intoxication of the preceding night.

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Fardorougha," she said calmly, placing her hand upon his shoulder, "are you sinsible that you're this minute afther blasphemin' your Creator?"

He gave her a quick, disturbed, and peevish look, but made no reply. She then proceeded:

"Fardorougha, I thought the loss of Connor the greatest punishment that could be put upon me; but I find I was mistaken. I would rather see him dead to-morrow, wid, wid the rope about his neck, than to hear his father blasphemin' the livin' God! Fardorougha, it's clear that you're not now fit to pray for yourself, but, in the name of our Saviour, I'll go an' pray for you. In the mean time, go to bed; sleep will settle your head, and you will be better, I trust, in the mornin'."

The calm solemnity of her manner awed him, notwithstanding the vehemence of his grief. He stood and looked at her, with his hands tightly clasped, as she went to her son's bedroom, in order to pray for him. For a moment, he seemed abashed and stunned. While she addressed him, he involuntarily ceased to utter those sounds of anguish which were neither shrieks nor groans, but something between both. He theli resumed his pace, but with a more settled step, and for some minutes maintained perfect silence.

"Get me," said he, at length, "get me a drink of wather; I'm in a flame wid drouth."

When Biddy Nulty went out to fetch him this, he inquired of the rest what Honor meant by charging him with blasphemy.

"Surely to God, I didn't blasphame," he said, peevishly; "no, no, I'm not that bad; but any how, let her pray for me; her prayer will be heard, if ever woman's was."

When Biddy returned, he emptied the jug of water with the same trembling eagerness as before; then clasped his hands again, and commenced pacing the room, evidently in a mood of mind about to darken into all the wildness of his former grief.

"Fardorougha," said Nogher M'Cormick; "I was undher this roof the night your manly son was born. I remimber it well; an' I remimber more betoken, I had to check you for flying in the face o' God that sent him to you. Instead o' feelin' happy and delighted, as you ought to ha' done, an' as any other man but yourself would, you grew dark an' sulky, and grumbled bekase you thought there was a family comin'. I tould you that night to take care an' not be committing sin; an' you may renumber, too, that I gev you chapter an' verse for it out o' Scripture: 'Woe be to the man that's born wid a millstone about his neck, especially if he's to be cast into the say.' The truth is, Fardorougha, you warn't thankful to God for him; and you see that afther all, it doesn't do to go to loggerheads wid the Almighty. Maybe, had you been thankful for him, he wouldn't be where he is this night. Millstone! Faith, it was a home thrust, that same verse; for if you didn't carry the millstone about your neck, you had it in your heart; an' you now see and feel the upshot. I'm now goin' fast into age myself; my hair is grayer than your own, and I could take it to my death," said the honest fellow, while a tear or two ran slowly down his cheek; "that, exceptin' one o' my own childre', an' may God spare them to me! I couldn't feel more sorrow at the fate of any one livin', than at Connor's. Many a time I held him in these arms, an' many a little play I made for him; an' many a time he axed me why his father didn't nurse him as I did;' bekase,' he used to say, 'I would rather he would nurse me than anybody else, barring my mother; and, afther him, you, Nogher.'"

These last observations of his servant probed the heart of the old man to the quick; but the feeling which they excited was a healthy one; or, rather, the associations they occasioned threw Fardorougha's mind upon the memory of those affections, which avarice had suppressed, without destroying.

"I loved him, Nogher," said he, deeply agitated; "Oh none but God knows how I loved him, although I didn't an' couldn't bring myself to show it at the time. There was something upon me; a curse, I think, that prevented me; an' now that I love him as a father ought to do, I will not have him. Oh, my son, my son, what will become of me, after you? Heavenly Father, pity me and support me! Oh, Connor, my son, my son, what will become of me?"

He then sat down on the bed, and, placing his hands upon his face, wept long and bitterly. His grief now, however, was natural, for, during the most violent of his paroxysms in the preceding hour, he shed not a tear; yet now they ran down his cheeks, and through his fingers, in torrents.

"Cry on, cry on," said Nogher, wiping his own eyes; "it will lighten your heart; an' who knows but it's his mother's prayers that brought you to yourself, and got this relief for you. Go, Biddy," said he, in a whisper, to the servant-maid, "and tell the mistress to come here; she'll know best how to manage him, now that he's a little calm."

"God be praised!" ejaculated Honor, on seeing him weep; "these tears will cool your head, avourneen; an' now, Fardorougha, when you're tired cryin', if you take my advice, you'll go to your knees an' offer up five pathers, five Aves, an' a creed, for the grace of the Almighty to direct and strengthen you; and thin, afther that, go to bed, as I sed, an' you'll find how well you'll be afther a sound sleep."

"Honor," replied her husband, "avourneen machree, I think you'll save your husband's sowl yet, undhor my merciful Saviour."

"Your son, undher the same merciful God, will do it. Your heart was hard and godless, Fardorougha, and, surely, if Connor's death 'll be the manes of savin' his father's sowl, wouldn't it be a blessin' instead of a misfortune? Think of it in that light, Fardorougha, and turn your heart to God. As for Connor, isn't it a comfort to know that the breath won't be out of his body till he's a bright angel in heaven?"

The old man wiped his eyes and knelt down, first having desired them to leave him. When the prayers were recited he called in Honor.

"I'm afeard," said he, "that my heart wasn't properly in them, for I couldn't prevent my mind from wanderin' to our boy."

This touching observation took the mother's affections by surprise. A tear started to her eye, but, after what was evidently a severe struggle, she suppressed it.

"It's not at once you can do it, Fardorougha; so don't be cast down. Now, go to bed, in the name of God, and sleep; and may the Lord in heaven support you--and support us both! for oh! it's we that want it this night of sorrow!"

She then stooped down and affectionately kissed him, and, having wished him good night, she retired to Connor's bed, where, ever since the day of his incarceration, this well-tried mother and enduring Christian slept.

At this stage of our story we will pause, for a moment, to consider the state of mind and comparative happiness of the few persons who are actors in our humble drama.

To a person capable of observing only human action, independently of the motives by which it is regulated, it may appear that the day which saw Connor O'Donovan consigned to a premature and shameful death, was one of unmingled happiness to Bartle Flanagan. They know little of man's heart, however, who could suppose this to be the case, or, who could even imagine that he was happier than those on whom his revenge and perfidy had entailed such a crushing load of misery. It is, indeed, impossible to guess what the nature of that feeling must be which arises from the full gratification of mean and diabolic malignity. Every action of the heart at variance with virtue and truth is forced to keep up so many minute and fearful precautions, all of which are felt to be of vast moment at the time, that we question if ever the greatest glut of vengeance produced, no matter what the occasion may have been, any satisfaction capable of counterbalancing all the contigencies and apprehensions by which the mind is distracted both before and after its preparation. The plan and accomplishment must both be perfect in all their parts--for if either fail only in a single point, all is lost, and the pleasure arising from them resembles the fruit which is said to grow by the banks of the Dead Sea--it is beautiful and tempting to the eye, but bitterness and ashes to the taste.

The failing of the county treasurer, for instance, deprived Bartle Flanagan of more than one half his revenge. He was certainly far more anxious to punish the father than the son, and were it not that he saw no other mode of effecting his vengeance on Fardorougha, than by destroying the only object on earth that he loved next to his wealth, he would have never made the innocent pay the penalty of the guilty. As he had gone so far, however, self-preservation now made him anxious that Connor should die; as he knew his death would remove out of his way the only person in existence absolutely acquainted with his villany. One would think, indeed, that the sentence pronounced upon his victim ought to have satisfied him on that head. This, however, it failed to do. That sentence contained one clause, which utterly destroyed the completeness of his design, and filled his soul with a secret apprehension either of just retribution, or some future ill which he could not shake off, and for which the reward received for Connor's apprehension was but an ineffectual antidote. The clause alluded to in the judge's charge, viz.--"the recommendation of the jury to the mercy of the Crown, in consideration of your youth, and previous good conduct, shall not be overlooked"--sounded in his ears like some mysterious sentence that involved his own fate, and literally filled his heart with terror and dismay. Independently of all this his villanous projects had involved him in a systematic course of guilt, which was yet far from being brought to a close. In fact, he now found by experience how difficult it is to work out a bad action with success, and how the means, and plans, and instruments necessary to it must multiply and become so deep and complicated in guilt, that scarcely any single intellect, in the case of a person who can be reached by the laws, is equal to the task of executing a great crime against society, in a perfect manner. If this were so, discovery would be impossible, and revenge certain.

With respect to Connor himself it is only necessary to say that a short but well-spent life, and a heart naturally firm, deprived death of its greatest terrors. Still he felt it, in some depressed moods, a terrible thing indeed to reflect, that he, in the very fullness of strength and youth, should be cut down from among his fellows--a victim without a crime, and laid with shame in the grave of a felon. But he had witnessed neither his mother's piety nor her example in vain, and it was in the gloom of his dungeon that he felt the light of both upon his spirit.

"Surely," said he, "as I am to die, is it not better that I should die innocent than guilty? Instead of fretting that I suffer, a guiltless man, surely I ought to thank God that I am so; an' that my soul hasn't to meet the sin of such a revengeful act as I'm now condemned for. I'll die, then, like a Christian man, putting my hope and trust in the mercy of my Redeemer--ever an' always hoping that by His assistance I will be enabled to do it."

Different, indeed, were the moral state and position of these two young men; the one, though lying in his prison cell, was sustained by the force of conscious innocence, and that reliance upon the mercy of God, which constitutes the highest order of piety, and the noblest basis of fortitude; the other, on the contrary, disturbed by the tumultuous and gloomy associations of guilt, and writhing under the conviction, that, although he had revenge, he had not satisfaction. The terror of crime was upon him, and he felt himself deprived of that best and only security, which sets all vain apprehensions at defiance, the consciousness of inward integrity. Who, after all, would barter an honest heart for the danger arising from secret villany, when such an apparently triumphant villain as Bartle Flanagan felt a deadly fear, of Connor O'Donovan in his very dungeon? Such, however, is guilt, and such are the terrors that accompany it.

The circumstances which, in Ireland, usually follow the conviction of a criminal, are so similar to each other, that we feel it, even in this case, unnecessary to do more than give a mere sketch of Connor's brief life as a culprit. We have just observed that the only clause in the judge's charge which smote the heart of the traitor, Flanagan, with a presentiment of evil, was that containing the words in which something like a, hope of having his sentence mitigated was held out to him, in consequence of the recommendation to mercy by which the jury accompanied their verdict. It is very strange, on the other hand, that, at the present stage of our story, neither his father nor mother knew anything whatsoever of the judge having given expression to such a hope. The old man, distracted as he was at the time, heard nothing, or at least remembered nothing, but the awful appearance of the black cap, or, as they term it in the country, the barradh dhu, and the paralyzing words in which the sentence of death was pronounced upon his son. It consequently happened that the same clause in the charge actually, although in a different sense, occasioned the misery of Bartle Flanagan on the one hand, and of Connor's parents on the other.

The morning after the trial, Fardorougha was up as early as usual, but his grief was nearly as vehement and frantic as on the preceding night. It was observed, however--such is the power of sorrow to humanize and create sympathy in the heart--that, when he arose, instead of peevishly and weakly obtruding his grief and care upon those about him, as he was wont to do, he now kept aloof from the room in which Honor slept, from an apprehension of disturbing her repose--a fact which none who knew his previous selfishness would have believed, had he not himself expressed in strong terms a fear of awakening her. Nor did this new trait of his character escape the observation of his own servants, especially of his honest monitor, Nogher M'Cormick.

"Well, well," exclaimed this rustic philosopher; "see what God's affliction does. Faith, it has brought Fardorougha to feel a trifle for others, as well as for himself. Who knows, begad, but it may take the millstone out of his heart yet; and if it does, my word to you, he may thank his wife, undher God, for it."

Before leaving home that morning to see his son, he found with deep regret that Honor's illness had been so much increased by the events of the preceding day, that she could not leave her bed. And now, for the first time, a thought, loaded with double anguish, struck upon his heart.

"Saver of earth!" he exclaimed, "what would become of me if both should go and lave me alone? God of heaven, alone! Ay, ay," he continued, "I see it. I see how asily God might make my situation still worse than I thought it could be. Oh God, forgive me my sins; and may God soften my heart! Amin!"

He then went to see his wife ere he set out for his unhappy son; and it was with much satisfaction that Honor observed a changed and chastened tone in his manner, which she had never, except for a moment at the birth of his child, noticed before. Not that his grief was much lessened, but it was more rational, and altogether free from the violence and impiety which had characterized it when he awoke from his intoxication.

"Honor," said he, "how do you find yourself this mornin', alanna? They tell me you're worse than you Wor yesterday."

"Indeed, I'm wake enough," she replied, "and very much bate down, Fardorougha; but you know it's not our own stringth at any time that we're to depend upon, but God's. I'm not willing to attempt anything beyant my power at present. My seeing him now would do neither of us any good, and might do me a great dale o' harm. I must see him, to be sure, and I'll strive, plase God, to gather up a little strength for that."

"My heart's breakin', Honor, and I'm beginnin' to see that I've acted a bad part to both of you all along. I feel it, indeed; and if it was the will of God, I didn't care if--"

"Whisht, accushla, whisht--sich talk as that's not right. Think, Fardorougha, whether you acted a bad part towards God or not, and never heed us; an' think, too, dear, whether you acted a bad or a good part towards the poor, an' them that was in distress and hardship, an' that came to you for relief; they were your fellow-crathers, Fardorougha, at all evints. Think of these things I'm sayin, and never heed us. You know that Connor and I forgive you, but you arn't so sure whether God and them will."

These observations of this estimable woman had the desired effect, which was, as she afterwards said, to divert her husband's mind as much as possible from the contemplation of Connor's fate, and to fix it upon the consideration of those duties in which she knew his conscience, now touched by calamity, would tell him he had been deficient.

Fardorougha was silent for some time after her last observations--but at length he observed:

"Would it be possible, Honor, that all this was brought upon us in ordher to punish me for--for--"

"To punish you, Fardorougha? Fareer gaih avourneen, arn't we all punished? look at my worn face, and think of what ten days' sorrow can do in a mother's heart--think, too, of the boy. Oh no, no--do you think I've have nothin' to be punished for? But we have all one comfort, Fardorougha, and that is, that God's ever and always willin' to re-save us, when we turn to Him wid a true heart? Nobody, avillish, can forget and forgive as He does."

"Honor, why didn't you oftener spake to me this a-way than you did?"

"I often did, dear, an' you may remember it; but you were then strong; you had your wealth; everything flowed wid you, an' the same wealth--the world's temptation--was strong in your heart; but God has taken it from you I hope as a blessing--for, indeed, Fardorougha, I'm afeard if you had it now, that neither he nor--but I won't say it, dear, for God sees I don't wish to say one word that 'ud distress you now, avourneen. Any how, Fardorougha, never despair in God's goodness--never do it; who can tell what may happen?"

Her husband's grief was thus checked, and a train of serious reflection laid, which, like some of those self-evident convictions that fastened on the awakened conscience, the old man could not shake off.

Honor, in her further conversation with him, touching the coming interview with the unhappy culprit, desired him, above all things, to set "their noble boy" an example of firmness, and by no means to hold out to him any expectation of life.

"It would be worse than murdher," she exclaimed, "to do so. No--prepare him by your advice, Fardorougha, ay, and by your example, to be firm--and tell him that his mother expects he will die like an innocent man--noble and brave--and not like a guilty coward, afeard to look up and meet his God."

Infidels and hypocrites, so long as their career in vice is unchecked by calamity, will no doubt sneer when we assure them, that Fardorougha, after leaving his wife that morning once more to visit his son, felt a sense of relief, or, perhaps we should say, a breaking of faint light upon his mind, which, slight as it was, afforded him more comfort and support than he ever hoped to experience. Indeed, it was almost impossible for any heart to exist within the influence of that piety which animated his admirable wife, and not catch the holy fire which there burned with such purity and brightness.

Ireland, however, abounds with such instances of female piety and fortitude, not, indeed, as they would be made to appear in the unfeminine violence of political turmoil, in which a truly pious female would not embroil herself; but in the quiet recesses of domestic life--in the hard struggles against poverty, and in those cruel visitations, where the godly mother is forced to see her innocent son corrupted by the dark influence of political crime, drawn within the vortex of secret confederacy, and subsequently yielding up his life to the outraged laws of that country which he assisted to distract. It is in scenes like these that the unostentatious magnanimity of the pious Irish wife or mother may be discovered; and it is here where, as the night and storms of life darken her path, the holy fortitude of her heart shines with a lustre proportioned to the depth of the gloom around her.

When Fardorougha reached the town in which his ill-fated son occupied the cell of a felon, he found to his surprise that, early as were his habits, there were others whose movements were still more early than his own. John O'Brien had come to town--been with his attorney--had got a memorial in behalf of Connor to the Irish government, engrossed, and actually signed by more than one--half of the jury who tried him--all before the hour of ten o'clock. A copy of thi's document, which was written by O'Brien himself, now lies before us, with the names of all the jurors attached to it; and a more beautiful or affecting piece of composition we have never read. The energy and activity of O'Brien were certainly uncommon, and so, indeed, were his motives. As he himself told Fardorougha, whom he met as the latter entered the town--

"I would do what I have done for Connor, although I have never yet exchanged a syllable with him. Yet, I do assure you, Fardorougha, that I have other motives--which you shall never know--far stronger than any connected with the fate of your son. Now, don't misunderstand me."

"No," replied the helpless old man, who was ignorant of the condition of his sister, "I will not, indeed--I'd be long sarry."

O'Brien saw that any rational explanation he might give would be only thrown away upon a man who seemed to be so utterly absorbed and stupefied by the force of his own sufferings.

"Poor old man," he exclaimed, as Fardorougha left him, to visit Connor; "see what affliction does? There are thousands now who pity you--even you, whom almost every one who knew you, cursed and detested."

Such, indeed, was the fact. The old man's hardness of heart was forgotten in the pity that was produced by the dreadful fate which awaited his unhappy son. We must now pass briefly over occurrences which are better understood when left to the reader's imagination. John O'Brien was not the only one who interested himself in the fate of Connor. Fardorougha, as a matter of course, got the priest of the parish, a good and pious man, to draw up a memorial in the name, as he said, of himself and his wife. The gentry of the neighborhood, also, including the members of the grand jury, addressed government on his behalf--for somehow there was created among those who knew the parties, or even who heard the history of their loves, a sympathy which resulted more from those generous impulses that intuitively perceive truth, than from the cooler calculations of reason. The heart never reasons--it is, therefore, the seat of feeling, and the fountain of mercy; the head does--and it is probably on that account the seat of justice, often of severity, and not unfrequently of cruelty and persecution, Connor himself was much relieved by that day's interview with his father. Even he could perceive a change for the better in the old man's deportment. Fardorougha's praises of Honor, and his strong allusions to the support and affection he experienced at her hands, under circumstances so trying, were indeed well calculated to prepare "her noble boy," as she truly called him, for the reception of the still more noble message which she sent him.

"Father," said he, as they separated that day, "tell my mother that I will die as she wishes me; and tell her, too, that if I wasn't an innocent man, I could not do it. And oh, father," he added, and he seized his hands, and fell upon his neck, "oh, father dear, if you love me, your own Connor--and I know you do--oh, then, father dear, I say again, be guided in this heavy affliction by my dear mother's advice."

"Connor," returned the old man, deeply affected, "I will. I had made my mind up to that afore I saw you at all to-day. Connor, do you know what I'm beginning to think?"

"No, father dear, I do not."

"Why, then, it's this, that she'll be the manes of savin' your father's soul. Connor, I can look back now upon my money--all I lost--it was no doubt terrible--terrible all out. Connor, my rint is due, and I haven't the manes of meetin' it."

Alas! thought the boy, how hard it is to root altogether out of the heart that principle which inclines it to the love of wealth!

"At any rate, I will take your advice, Connor, and be guided by your mother. She's very poorly, or she'd be wid you afore now; but, indeed, Connor, her health is the occasion of it--it is--it is!"

Fardorougha's apology for his wife contained much more truth than he himself was aware of at the time he made it. On returning home that night he found her considerably worse, but, as she had been generally healthy, he very naturally ascribed her illness to the affliction she felt for the fate of their son. In this, however, he was mistaken, as the original cause of it was unconnected with the heavy domestic dispensation which had fallen upon them. So far as she was concerned, the fate of her boy would have called up from her heart fresh energy and' if possible a higher order of meek but pious courage.--She would not have left him unsustained and uncherished, had the physical powers of the mother been able to second the sacred principles with which she met and triumphed over the trial that was laid upon her.

It was one evening about ten days after O'Donovan's conviction that Bodagh Buie O'Brien's wife sat by the bedside of her enfeebled and languishing daughter. The crisis of her complaint had passed the day before; and a very slight improvement, visible only to the eye of her physician, had taken place. Her delirium remained much as before; sometimes returning with considerable violence, and again leaving reason, though feeble and easily disturbed, yet when unexcited by external causes, capable of applying its powers to the circumstances around her. On this occasion the mother, who watched every motion and anticipated every wish of the beloved one, saw that she turned her eye several times upon her as if some peculiar anxiety distressed her.

"Una, jewel," she at length inquired, "is there anything you want, colleen maehree; or anything I can do for you?"

"Come near me, mother," she replied, "come near me."

Her mother approached her still more nearly.

"I'm afraid," she said, in a very low voice, "I'm afraid to ask it."

"Only wait for a minute or two," said her mother, "an' John will--but here's the doctor's foot; they wor spakin' a word or two below; an' whisper, darlin' o' my heart, sure John has something to tell you--something that will"--

She looked with a searching anxiety into her mother's face; and it might have been perceived that the morning twilight of hope beamed faintly but beautifully upon her pale features. The expression that passed over them was indeed so light and transient that one could scarcely say she smiled; yet that a more perceptible serenity diffused its gentle irradiation over her languid countenance was observed even by her mother.

The doctor's report was favorable.

"She is slowly improving," he said, on reaching the parlor, "since yesterday; I'm afraid, however, she's too weak at present to sustain this intelligence. I would recommend you to wait for a day or two, and in the meantime to assume a cheerful deportment, and to break it to her rather by your looks and manner than by a direct or abrupt communication."

They promised to observe his directions; but when her mother informed them of the hint she herself threw out to her, they resolved to delay the matter no longer; and John, in consequence of what his mother had led her to expect, went to break the intelligence to her as well as he could. An expectation had been raised in her mind, and he judged properly enough that there was less danger in satisfying it than in leaving her just then in a state of such painful uncertainty.

"Dear Una," said he, "I am glad to hear the doctor say that you are better."

"I think I am a little," said she.

"What was my mother saying to you, just now, before the doctor was with you? But why do you look at me so keenly, Una?" said he, cheerfully; "it's sometime since you saw me in such a good humor--isn't it?"

She paused for a moment herself; and her brother could observe that the hope which his manner was calculated to awaken, lit itself into a faiut smile rather visible in her eyes than on her features.

"Why, I believe you are smiling yourself, Una."

"John," said she, earnestly, "is it good?"

"It is, darling--he won't die."

"Kiss me, kiss me," she said; "may eternal blessings rest upon you!"

She then kissed him affectionately, laid her head back upon the pillow, and John saw with delight that the large tears of happiness rolled in torrents down her palo cheeks.

It was indeed true that Connor O'Donovan was not to die. The memorials which had reached government from so many quarters, backed as they were by very powerful influence, and detailing as they did a case of such very romantic interest, could scarcely fail in arresting the execution of so stern and deadly a sentence. It was ascertained, too, by the intercourse of his friends with government, that the judge who tried his case, notwithstanding the apparent severity of his charge, had been moved by an irresistible impulse to save him, and he actually determined from the beginning to have his sentence commuted to transportation for life.

The happy effect of this communication on Una O'Brien diffused a cheerful spirit among her family and relatives, who, in truth, had feared that her fate would ultimately depend upon that of her lover. After having been much relieved by the copious flood of tears she shed, and heard with composure all the details connected with the mitigation of his sentence, she asked her brother if Connor's parents had been yet made acquainted with it.

"I think not," he replied; "the time is too short."

"John," said the affectionate girl, "oh, consider his mother; and think of the misery that one single hour's knowledge of this may take away from her heart! Go to her, my dear John, and may all the blessings of heaven rest upon you!"

"Good--by, then, Una dear; I will go."

He took her worn hand in his, as he spoke, and, looking on her with affectionate admiration, added--

"Yes! good-by, my darling sister; believe me, Una, that I think if there's justice in Heaven, you'll have a light heart yet."

"It is very light now," she returned, "compared with what it was; but go, John, don't lose a moment; for I know what they suffer."

Her mother, after John's departure for Fardorougha's, went up to sit with her; but she found that the previous scene, although it relieved, had exhausted her. In the course of a few minutes their limited dialogue ceased, and she sank into a sound and refreshing sleep, from which she did not awaken until her brother had some time returned from the execution of his pious message. And piously was that message received by her for whose misery the considerate heart of Una O'Brien felt so deeply. Fardorougha had been out about the premises, mechanically looking to the manner in which the business of his farm had been of late managed by his two servants, when he descried O'Brien approaching the house at a quick if not a hurried pace. He immediately went in and communicated the circumstance to his wife.

"Honor," said he, "here is Bodagh Buie's son comin' up to the house--what on earth can bring the boy here?"

This was the first day on which his wife had been able to rise from her sick bed. She was consequently feeble, and, physically speaking, capable of no domestic exertion. Her mind, however, was firm as ever, and prompt as before her calamity to direct and overlook, in her own sweet and affectionate manner, whatever required her superintendence.

"I'm sure I don't know, Fardorougha," she replied. "It can't, I hope, be wid bad news--they thravel fast enough--an' I'm sure the Bodagh's son wouldn't take pleasure in bein' the first to tell them to us."

"But what can bring him, Honor? What on earth can bring the boy here now, that never stood undher our roof afore?"

"Three or four minutes, Fardorougha, will tell us. Let us hope in God it isn't bad. Eh, Saver above, it wouldn't be the death of his sister--of Connor's Oona! No," she added, "they wouldn't send, much less come, to tell vis that; but sure we'll hear it--we'll hear it; and may God give us stringth to hear it right, whether it's good or bad! Amin, Jasus, this day!"

She had hardly uttered the last words, when O'Brien entered.

"Young man," said this superior woman, '"it's a poor welcome we can give you to a house of sorrow."

"Ay," said Fardorougha, "his mother an' I's here, but where is he? Nine days from this; but it 'ill kill me--it will--it will. Whin he's taken from me, I don't care how soon I folly him; God forgive me if it's a sin to say so!"

"Fardorougha," said his wife, in a tone of affectionate reproof, "remember what you promised me, an', at all evints, you forget that Mr. O'Brien here may have his own troubles; I heard your sister was unwell. Oh, how is she, poor thing?"

"I thank you, a great deal better; I will not deny but she heard a piece of intelligence this day, that has relieved her mind and taken a dead weight off her heart."

Honor, with uncommon firmness and solemnity of manner, placed her hand upon his shoulder, and, looking him earnestly in the face, said,

"That news is about our son?"

"It is," replied O'Brien, "and it's good; his sentence is changed, and he is not to die."

"Not to die!" shrieked the old man, starting up, and clapping his hands frantically--"not to die! our son--Connor, Connor--not to be hanged--not to be hanged! Did you say that, son of O'Brien Buie, did you--did you?"

"I did," replied the other; "he will not suffer."

"Now that's God," ejaculated Fardorougha, wildly; "that's God an' his mother's prayers. Boys," he shrieked, "come here; come here, Biddy Nulty, come her; Connor's not to die; he won't suffer--he won't suffer!"

He was rushing wildly to the door, but Honor placed herself before him, and said, in that voice of calmness which is uniformly that of authority and power:

"Fardorougha, dear, calm yourself. If this is God's work, as you say, why not resave it as comm' from God? It's upon your two knees you ought to drop, an'--Saver above, what's the matther wid him? He's off; keep him up. Oh, God bless you! that's it, avourneen; jist place him on the chair there fornext the door, where he can have air. Here, dear," said she to Biddy Nulty, who, on hearing herself called by her master, had come in from another room; "get some feathers, Biddy, till we burn them undher his nose; but first fetch a jug of cold water."

On looking at the face of the miser, O'Brien started, as indeed well he might, at such a pallid, worn, and death--like countenance; why, thought he to himself, surely this must be death, and the old man's cares, and sorrows, and hopes, are all passed forever.

Honor now bathed his face, and wet his lips with water, and as she sprinkled and rubbed back the gray hair from his emaciate! temples, there might be read there an expression of singular wildness that resembles the wreck produced by insanity.

"He looks ill," observed O'Brien, who actually thought him dead; "but I hope it won't signify."

"I trust in God's mercy it won't," replied Honor; "for till his heart, poor man, is brought more to God--"

She paused with untaught delicacy, for she reflected that he was her husband.

"For that matther, who is there," she continued, "that is fit to go to their last account at a moment's warnin'? That's a good girl, Biddy; give me the feathers; there's nothing like them. Dheah Gratihias! Dheah Gratihias!" she exclaimed, "he's not--he's not--an' I was afeard he was--no, he's recoverin'. Shake him; rouse him a little; Fardorougha, dear!"

"Where--where am I?" exclaimed her husband; "what is this? what ails me?"

He then looked inquiringly at his wife and O'Brien; but it appeared that the presence of the latter revived in his mind the cause of his excitement.

"Is it--is it thrue, young man? tell me--tell me!"

"How, dear, can any one have spirits to tell you good news, when you can't bear it aither like a man or a Christian?"

"Good news! You say, then, it's thrue, an' he's not to be hanged by the neck, as the judge said; an' my curse--my heavy curse upon him for a judge!"

"I hate to hear the words of his sentence, Fardorougha," said the wife; "but if you have patience you'll find that his life's granted to him; an', for Heaven's sake, curse nobody. The judge only did his duty."

"Well," he exclaimed, sinking upon his knees, "now, from this day out, let what will happen, I'll stick to my duty to God--I'll repent--I'll repent and lead a new life. I will, an' while I'm alive I'll never say a word against the will of my heavenly Saviour; never, never."

"Fardorougha," replied his--wife, "it's good, no doubt, to have a grateful heart to God; but I'm afeard there's sin in what you're sayin', for you know, dear, that, whether it plased the Almighty to take yur boy, or not, what you've promised to do is your duty. It's like sayin', 'I'll now turn my heart bekase God has deserved it at my hands.' Still, dear, I'm not goin' to condimn you, only I think it's betther an' safer to love an' obey God for His own sake! blessed be His holy name!"

Young O'Brien was forcibly struck by the uncommon character of Honor O'Donovan. Her patience, good sense, and sincere acquiescence in the will of God, under so severe a trial, were such as he had never seen: equalled. Nor could he help admitting to himself, while contemplating her conduct, that the example of such a woman was not only the most beautiful comment on religious truth, but the noblest testimony of its power.

"Yes, Honor," said the husband, in reply, "you're right, for I know that what you say is always thrue. It is, indeed," he added, addressing O'Brien, "she's aquil to a prayer-book."

"Yes, and far superior to any," replied the latter; "for she not only gives you the advice, but sets you the example."

"Ay, the sorra lie in it; an', oh, Honor, he's not to die--he's not to be h----, not to suffer. Our son's to live! Oh, Saver of earth, make me thankful this day!"

The tears ran fast from his eyes as he looked up to heaven, and uttered, the last; words. Indeed, it was impossible not to feel deep compassion for this aged man, whose heart had been smitten so heavily, and on the only two points where it was capable of feeling the blow.

After having indulged his grief for some time, he became considerably more composed, if not cheerful. Honor made many kind inquiries after Una's health, to which her brother answered with strict candor, for he had heard from Una that she was acquainted with the whole history of their courtship.

"Who knows," said she, speaking with reference to their melancholy fate, "but the God who has saved his life, an' most likely hers, may yet do more for them both? While there's life there's hope."

"Young man," said Fardorougha, "you carry a blessin' wid you wherever you go, an' may God bless you for the news you have brought to us this day! I'll go to see him tomorrow, an' wid a light heart I'll go too, for my son is not to die."

O'Brien then took his leave and returned home, pondering, as he went, upon the singular contrast which existed between the character of the miser and that of his admirable wife. He was no sooner gone than Honor addressed her husband as follows:

"Fardorougha, what do you think we ought both to do now afther the happy news we've heard?"

"I'll be guided by you, Honor; I'll be guided by you."

"Then," said she, "go an' thank God that has taken the edge, the bitther, keen edge off of our sufferin'; an' the best way, in my opinion, for you to do it, is to go to the barn by yourself, an' strive to put your whole heart into your prayers. You'll pray betther by yourself than wid me. An' in the name of God I'll do the same as well as I can in the house here. To-morrow, too, is Friday, an', plaise our Saviour, we'll both fast in honor of His goodness to us an' to our son."

"We will, Honor," said he, "we will, indeed; for now I have spirits to fast, and spirits to pray, too. What will I say, now? Will I say the five Decades or the whole Rosary?"

"If you can keep your mind in the prayers, I think you ought to say the whole of it; but if you wandher don't say more than the five."

Fardorougha then went to the bam, rather because his wife desired him, than from a higher motive, whilst she withdrew to her own apartment, there humbly to worship God in thanksgiving.

The next day had made the commutation of Connor's punishment a matter of notoriety through the whole parish, and very sincere indeed was the gratification it conveyed to all who heard it. Public fame, it is true, took her usual liberties with the facts. Some said he had got a free pardon, others that he was to be liberated after six months' imprisonment; and a third report asserted that the lord lieutenant sent him down a hundred pounds to fit him out for marriage with Una; and it further added that his excellency wrote a letter with his own hand, to Bodagh Buie, desiring him to give his daughter to Connor on receipt of it, or if not, that the Knight of the Black Rod would come down, strip him of his property, and bestow it upon Connor and his daughter.

The young man himself was almost one of the first who heard of this favorable change in his dreadful sentence.

He was seated on his bedside reading, when the sheriff and jailer entered his cell, anxious to lay before him the reply which had that morning arrived from government.

"I'm inclined to think, O'Donovan, that your case is likely to turn out more favorably than we expected," said the humane sheriff.

"I hope, with all my heart, it may," replied the other; "there is no denying, sir, that I'd wish it. Life is sweet, especially to a young man of my years."

"But if we should fail," observed the jailer, "I trust you will act the part of a man."

"I hope, at all events, that I will act the part of a Christian," returned O'Donovan. "I certainly would rather live; but I'm not afeard of death, and if it comes, I trust I will meet it humbly but firmly."

"I believe," said the sheriff, "you need entertain little apprehension of death; I'm inclined to think that that part of your sentence is not likely to be put in execution. I have heard as much."

"I think, sir, by your manner, that you have," returned Connor; "but I beg you to tell me without goin' about. Don't be afeared, sir, that I'm too wake to hear either good news or bad."

The sheriff made no reply; but placed in his hands the official document which remitted to him the awful penalty of his life. Connor read it over slowly, and the other kept his eye fixed keenly upon his countenance, in order to observe his bearing under circumstances that are often known to test human fortitude as severely as death itself. He could, however, perceive no change; not even the unsteadiness of a nerve or muscle was visible, nor the slightest fluctuation in the hue of his complexion.

"I feel grateful to the lord lieutenant for his mercy to me," said he, handing him back the letter, "as I do to the friends who interceded for me; I never will or can forget their goodness. Oh, never, never!"

"I believe it," said the sheriff; "but there's one thing that I'm anxious to press upon your attention; and it's this, that no further mitigation of your punishment is to be expected from government; so that you must make up your mind to leave your friends and your country for life, as you know now."

"I expect nothing more," returned Connor, "except this, that the hand of God may yet bring the guilt of burning home to the man that committed it, and prove my innocence. I'm now not without some hope that such a thing may be brought about some how. I thank you, Misther Sheriff, for your kindness in coming to me with this good news so soon; all that I can say is, that I thank you from my heart. I am bound to say, too, that any civility and comfort that could be shown was afforded me ever since I came here, an' I feel it, an' I'm grateful for it."

Both were deeply impressed by the firm tone of manly sincerity and earnestness with which he spoke, blended as it was by a melancholy which gave, at the same time, a character of elevation and pathos to all he said. They then shook hands with him, after chatting for some time on indifferent subjects, the jailer promising to make his situation while he should remain in prison as easy as the regulations would allow him or, "who knows," he added, smiling, "but we might make them a little easier?"

"That's a fine young fellow," said he to the sheriff, after they had left him.

"He is a gentleman," replied the sherif "by nature a gentleman; and a very uncommon one, too. I defy a man to doubt word that comes out of his lips; all he says is impressed with the stamp of truth itself and by h----n's he never committed the felony he's in for! Keep him as comfortable as you can."

They then separated.

The love of life is the first and strong principle in our nature, and what man is there except some unhappy wretch pressed down by long and galling misery to the uttermost depths of despair, who, knows that life was forfeited, whether justly or it matters little, to the laws of his country will not feel the mercy which bids him live with a corresponding sense of gratitude. The son of the pious mother acted, as if she was still his guide and monitress.

He knelt down and poured out his gratitude to that great Being who had the final claim upon it, and whose blessing he fervently invoked upon the heads of those true friends by whose exertions and influence he knew that life was restored to him.

Of his life while he remained in this country there is little more to be said than what is usually known to occur in the case of of convicts similarly circumstanced, if we exclude his separation from the few persons who were dear to him. He saw his father the next day and the old man felt almost disappointed discovering that he was deprived of the pleasure which he proposed to himself of be the bearer of such glad tidings to him. Those who visited him, however, noticed with a good deal of surprise, that he appeared as laboring under some secret aim which, however, no tact or address on their part could induce him to disclose. Many of them, actuated by the best motives, asked him in distinct terms why he appeared to be troubled; but the only reply they received was a good-humored remark that it was not to be expected that he could leave forever all that was dear to him on earth with a very cheerful spirit.

It was at this period that his old friend Nogher M'Cormick came to pay him a visit; it being the last time, as he said, that he would ever have an opportunity of seeing his face. Nogher, whose moral impressions were by no means so correct as Connor's, asked him, with a face of dry, peculiar mystery, if he had any particular wish unfulfilled; or if there remained behind him any individual against whom he entertained a spirit of enmity. If there were he begged him to make no scruple in entrusting to him a full statement of his wishes on the subject, adding that he might rest assured of having them accomplished.

"One thing you may be certain of, Nogher," said he, to the affectionate fellow, "that I have no secrets to tell; so don't let that go abroad upon me. I have heard to-day," he added, "that the vessel we are to go in will sail on this day week. My father was here this mornin'; but I hadn't heard it then. Will you, Nogher, tell my mother privately that she mustn't come to see me on the day I appointed with my father? From the state of health she's in, I'm tould she couldn't bear it. Tell her, then, not to come till the day before I sail; an' that I will expect to see her early on that day. And, Nogher, as you know more about this unhappy business than any one else, except the O'Briens and ourselves, will you give this little packet to my mother? There's three or four locks of my hair in it; one of them is for Una; and desire my mother to see Una, and to get a link of her hair to wear next my heart. My poor father--now that he finds he must part with me--is so distracted and distressed, that I couldn't trust him with this message. I want it to be kept a secret to every one but you, my mother, and Una; but my poor father would he apt to mention it in some fit of grief."

"But is there nothing else on your mind, Connor?"

"There's no heavy guilt on my mind, Nogher, I thank my God and my dear mother for it."

"Well, I can tell you one thing before you go, Connor--Bartle Flanagan's well watched. If he has been guilty--if--derry downs, who doubts it'?--well never mind; I'll hould a trifle we get him to show the cloven foot, and condemn himself yet."

"The villain," said Connor, "will be too deep--too polished for you."

"Ten to one he's not. Do you know what we've found out since this business?"


"Why, the divil resave the squig of punch, whiskey, or liquor of any sort or size he'll allow to pass the lips of him. Now, Connor, aren't you up to the cunnin' villainy of the thraitor in that maynewvre?"

"I am, Nogher; I see his design in it. He is afeard if he got drunk that he wouldn't be able to keep his own secret."

"Ah, then, by the holy Nelly, we'll sleep him yet, or he'll look sharp. Never you mind him, Connor."

"Nogher! stop," said Connor, almost angrily, "stop; what do you mane by them last words?"

"Divil a much; it's about the blaggard I'm spakin'; he'll be ped, I can tell you. There's a few friends of yours that intinds, some o' these nights, to open a gusset under one of his ears only; the divil a thing more."

"What! to take the unhappy man's life--to murdher him?"

"Hut, Connor; who's spakin' about murdher? No, only to make him miss his breath some night afore long. Does he desarve mercy that 'ud swear away the life of an innocent man?"

"Nogher," replied the other, rising up and speaking with the utmost solemnity--

"If one drop of his blood is spilt on my account, it will bring the vengeance of Heaven upon the head of every man havin' a hand in it. Will you, because he's a villain, make yourself murdherers--make yourselves blacker than he is?"

"Wiry, thin, death alive! Connor, have you your seven sinsis about you? Faith, that's good; as if it was a sin to knock such a white-livered Judas upon the head! Sin!--oh hell resave the morsel o' sin in that but the contrairy. Sure its only sarvin' honest people right, to knock such a desaiver on the head. If he had parjured himself for sake of the truth, or to assist a brother in trouble--or to help on the good cause--it would be something; but to go to--but--arra, be me sowl, he'll sup sarra for it, sure enough! I thought it would make your mind aisy, or I wouldn't mintion it till we'd let the breath out of him."

"Nogher," said Connor, "before you leave this unfortunate room, you must take the Almighty to witness that you'll have no hand in this bloody business, an' that you'll put a stop to it altogether. If you don't, and that his life is taken, in the first place, I'll be miserable for life; and in the next, take my word for it, that the judgment of God will fall heavily upon every one consarned in it."

"What for? Is it for slittin' the juggler of sich a rip? Isn't he as bad as a heretic, an' worse, for he turned against his own. He has got himself made the head of a lodge, too, and holds Articles; but it's not bein' an Article-bearer that'll save him, an' he'll find that to his cost. But, indeed, Connor, the villain's a double thraitor, as you'd own, if you knew what I heard a hint of?"

"Well, but you must lave him to God."

"What do you think but I got a whisper that he has bad designs on her."

"On who?" said O'Donovan (starting).

"Why, on your own girl, Oona, the Bodagh's daughter. He intends, it's whispered, to take her off; an' it seems, as her father doesn't stand well with the boys, that Bartle's to get a great body of them to assist him in bringing her away."

Connor paced his cell in deep and vehement agitation. His resentment against this double-dyed villain rose to a fearful pitch; his color deepened-his eye shot fire, and, as he clenched his hand convulsively, Nogher saw the fury which this intelligence had excited in him.

"No," he proceeded, "it would be an open sin an' shame to let such an etarnal limb of the devil escape."

It may, indeed, be said that O'Donovan never properly felt the sense of his restraint until this moment. When he reflected on the danger to which his beloved Una was exposed from the dark plans of this detestable villain, and recollected that there existed in the members of the illegal confederacy such a strong spirit of enmity against Bodagh Buie, as would induce them to support Bartle in his designs upon his daughter, he pressed his hand against his forehead, and walked about in a tumult of distress and resentment, such as he had never yet felt in his bosom.

"It's a charity it will be," said Nogher, shrewdly availing himself of the commotion he had created, "to stop the vagabone short in the coorse of his villany. He'll surely bring the darlin' young girl off, an' destroy her."

For a few moments he felt as if his heart were disposed to rebel against the common ordinances of Providence, as they appeared to be manifested in his own punishment, and the successful villainy of Bartle Flanagan. The reflection, however, of a strong and naturally pious mind soon enabled him to perceive the errors into which his passions would lead him, if not restrained and subjected. He made an effort to be calm, and in a considerable degree succeeded.

"Nogher," said he, "let us not forget that this Bartle--this--but I will not say it--let us not forget that God can asily turn his plans against himself. To God, then, let us lave him. Now, hear me--you must swear in His presence that you will have neither act nor part in doing him an injury--that you will not shed his blood, nor allow it to be shed by others, as far as you can prevent it."

Nogher rubbed his chin gravely, and almost smiled at what he considered to be a piece of silly nonsense on the part of Connor. He determined, therefore, to satisfy his scruples as well as he could; but, let the consequence be what it might, to evade such an oath.

"Why, Connor," said he, "surely, if you go to that, we can have no ill-will against the d--n villain; an' as you don't wish it, we'll dhrop--the thing; so now make your mind aisy, for another word you or any one else won't ever hear about it."

"And you won't injure the man?"

"Hut! no," replied Nogher, with a gravity whose irony was barely perceptible, "what would we murdher him for, now that you don't wish it? I never had any particular wish to see my own funeral."

"And, Nogher, you will do all you can to prevent him from being murdhered?"

"To be sure, Connor--to be sure. By He that made me, we won't give pain to a single hair of his head. Are you satisfied now?"

"I am," replied the ingenuous young man, who was himself too candid to see through the sophistry of Nogher's oath.

"And now, Nogher," he replied, "many a day have we spent together--you are one of my oldest friends. I suppose this is the last time you will ever see Connor O.'Donovan; however, don't, man--don't be cast down; you will hear from me, I hope, and hear that I am well too."

He uttered this with a smile which cost him an effort; for, on looking into the face of his faithful old friend, he saw his muscles working under the influence of strong feeling--or, I should rather say, deep sorrow--which he felt anxious, by a show of cheerfulness, to remove. The fountains, however, of the old servant's heart were opened, and, after some ineffectual attempts to repress his grief, he fell upon Connor's neck, and wept aloud.

"Tut, Nogher," said Connor, "surely it's--glad you ought to be, instead of sorry. What would you have done if my first sentence had been acted upon?"

"I'm glad for your sake," replied the other, "but I'm now sorry for my own. You will live, Connor, and you may yet be happy; but he that often held you in his arms--that often played with you, and that, next to your father and mother, you loved betther than any other livin'--he, poor Nogher, will never see his boy more."

On uttering these words, he threw himself again upon Connor's neck, and we are not ashamed to say that their tears flowed together.

"I'll miss you, Connor, dear; I'll not see your face at fair or market, nor on the chapel--green of a Sunday. Your poor father will break his heart, and the mother's eye will never more have an opportunity of being proud out of her son. It's hard upon me to part wid you, Connor, but it can't be helped; I only ax you to remember Nogher, that, you know, loved you as if you wor his own; remimber me, Connor, of an odd time. I never thought--oh, Grod, I never thought to see this day! No wondher--oh, no wondher that the fair young crature should be pale and worn, an' sick at heart! I love her now, an' ever will, as well as I did yourself. I'll never see her, Connor, widout thinkin' heavily of him that her heart was set upon, an' that will then be far away from her an' from all that ever loved him."

"Nogher," replied Connor, "I'm not without hope that--but this--this is folly. You know I have a right to be thankful to God and the goodness of government for sparin' my life. Now, farewell--it is forever, Nogher, an' it is a tryin' word to-day; but you know that every one goin' to America must say it; so, think that I'm goin' there, an' it won't signify."

"Ah, Connor, I wish I could," replied Nogher; "but, to tell the truth, what breaks my heart is, to think of the way you are goin' from us. Farewell, then, Connor darlin; an' may the blessin' of God, an' His holy mother, an' of all the saints be upon you now an' foriver. Amin!"

His tears flowed fast, and he sobbed aloud, whilst uttering the last words; he then threw his arms about Connor's neck, and, having kissed him, he again wrung his hand, and passed out of the cell in an agony of grief.

Such is the anomalous nature of that peculiar temperament, which, in Ireland, combines within it the extremes of generosity and crime. Here was a man who had been literally affectionate and harmless during his whole past life, yet, who was now actually plotting the murder of a person who had never,--except remotely, by his treachery to Connor, whom he loved--rendered him an injury, or given him any cause of offence. And what can show us the degraded state of moral feeling among a people whose natural impulses are as quick to virtue as to vice, and the reckless estimate which the peasantry form of human life, more clearly than the fact, that Connor, the noble--minded, heroic, and pious peasant, could admire the honest attachment of hia old friend, without dwelling upon the dark point in his character, and mingle his tears with a man who was deliberately about to join in, or encompass, the assassination of a fellow-creature!

Even against persons of his own creed the Irishman thinks that revenge is a duty which he owes to himself;--but against those of a different faith it is not only a duty but a virtue--and any man who acts out of this feeling, either as a juror, a witness, or an elector--for the principle is the same--must expect to meet such retribution as was suggested by a heart like Nogher M'Cormick's, which was otherwise affectionate and honest. In the secret code of perverted honor by which Irishmen are guided, he is undoubtedly the most heroic and manly, and the most worthy also of imitation, who indulges in, and executes his vengeance for injuries whether real or supposed, with the most determined and unshrinking spirit; but the man who is capable of braving death, by quoting his own innocence as an argument against the justice of law, even when notoriously guilty, is looked upon by the people, not as an innocent man--for his accomplices and friends know he is not--but as one who is a hero in his rank of life; and it is unfortunately a kind of ambition among too many of our ill-thinking but generous countrymen, to propose such men as the best models for imitation, not only in their lives, but in that hardened hypocrisy which defies and triumphs over the ordeal of death itself.

Connor O'Donovan was a happy representation of all that is noble and pious in the Irish character, without one tinge of the crimes which darken or discolor it. But the heart that is full of generosity and fortitude, is generally most susceptible of the kinder and more amiable affections. The noble boy, who could hear the sentence of death without the commotion of a nerve, was forced to weep on the neck of an old and faithful follower who loved him, when he remembered that, after that melancholy visit, he should see his familiar face no more. When Nogher left him, a train of painful reflections passed through his mind. He thought of Una, of his father, of his mother, and for some time was more depressed than usual. But the gift of life to the young is ever a counterbalance to every evil that is less than death. In a short time he reflected that the same Providence which had interposed between him and his recorded sentence, had his future fate in its hands; and that he had health, and youth, and strength--and, above all, a good conscience--to bear him through the future vicissitudes of his appointed fate. _

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