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Fardorougha, The Miser, a novel by William Carleton

Part 6

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To those whose minds and bodies are of active habits, there can be scarcely anything more trying than a position in which the latter is deprived of its usual occupation, and the former forced to engage itself only on the contemplation of that which is painful. In such a situation, the mental and physical powers are rendered incapable of mutually sustaining each other; for we all know that mere corporal employment lessens affliction, or enables us in a shorter time to forget it, whilst the acuteness of bodily suffering, on the other hand, is blunted by those pursuits which fill the mind with agreeable impressions. During the few days, therefore, that intervened between the last interview which Connor held with Nogher M'Cormick, and the day of his final departure he felt himself rather relieved than depressed by the number of friends who came to visit him for the last time. He was left less to solitude and himself than he otherwise would have been, and, of course, the days of his imprisonment were neither so dreary nor oppressive as the uninterrupted contemplation of his gloomy destiny would have rendered them. Full of the irrepressible ardor of youth, he longed for that change which he knew must bring him onward in the path of life; and in this how little did he resemble the generality of other convicts, who feel as if time were bringing about the day of their departure with painful and more than ordinary celerity! At length the interviews between him and all those whom he wished to see were concluded, with the exception of three, viz.--John O'Brien and his own parents, whilst only two clear days intervened until the period, of his departure.

It was on the third morning previous to that unhappy event, that the brother of his Una--the most active and indefatigable of all those who had interested themselves for him--was announced as requiring an interview. Connor, although prepared for this, experienced on the occasion, as every high-minded person would do, a strong feeling of degradation and shame as the predominant sensation. That, indeed, was but natural, for it is undoubtedly true that we feel disgrace the more heavily upon us in the eyes of those we esteem, than we do under any other circumstances. This impression, however, though as we have said the strongest,--was far from being the only one he felt. A heart like his could not be insensible to the obligations under which the generous and indefatigable exertions of young O'Brien had placed him. But, independently of this, he was Una's brother, and the appearance of one so dear to her gave to all his love for her a character of melancholy tenderness, more deep and full than he had probably ever experienced before. Her brother would have been received with extraordinary warmth on his own account, but, in addition to that, Connor knew that he now came on behalf of Una herself. It was, therefore, under a tumult of mingled sensations, that he received him in his gloomy apartment--gloomy in despite of all that a humane jailer could do to lessen the rigors of his confinement.

"I cannot welcome you to sich a place, as this is," said Connor, grasping and wringing his hand, as the other entered, "although I may well say that I would be glad to see you anywhere, as I am, indeed, to see you even here. I know what I owe you, an' what you have done for me."

"Thank God," replied the other, returning his grasp with equal pressure, "thank God, that, at all events, the worst of what we expected will not----" He paused, for, on looking at O'Donovan, he observed upon his open brow a singular depth of melancholy, mingled less with an expression of shame, than with the calm but indignant sorrow of one who could feel no resentment against him with whom he spoke.

O'Brien saw, at a glance, that Connor, in consequence of something in his manner, joined to his inconsiderate congratulations, imagined that he believed him guilty. He lost not a moment, therefore, in correcting this mistake.

"It would have been dreadful," he proceeded, "to see innocent blood shed, through the perjury of a villain--for, of course, you cannot suppose for a moment that one of our family suppose you to be guilty."

"I was near doin' you injustice, then," replied the other; "but I ought to know that if you did think me so, you wouldn't now be here, nor act as you did. Not but that I thought it possible, on another account you----No," he added, after a pause, "that would be doin' the brother of Una injustice."

"You are right," returned O'Brien. "No circumstance of any kind"--and he laid a peculiar emphasis on the words--"no circumstance of any kind could bring me to visit a man capable of such a mean and cowardly act; for, as to the loss we sustained, I wouldn't think of it. You, Connor O'Donovan, are not the man to commit any act, either the one or the other. If I did not feel this, you would not see me before you." He extended his hand to him while he spoke, and the brow of Connor brightened as he met his grasp.

"I believe you," he replied; "and now I hope we may spake out like men that undherstand one another. In case you hadn't come, I intended to lave a message for you with my mother. I believe you know all Una's secrets?"

"I do," replied O'Brien, "just as well as her confessor."

"Yes, I believe that," said Connor. "The sun in heaven is not purer than she is. The only fault she ever could be charged with was her love for me; and heavily, oh! far too heavily, has she suffered for it!"

"I, for one, never blamed her on that account," said her brother. "I knew that her good sense would have at any time prevented her from forming an attachment to an unworthy object; and upon the strength of her own judgment, I approved of that which she avowed for you. Indeed, I perceived it myself before she told me; but upon attempting to gain her secret, the candid creature at once made me her confidant."

"It is like her," said Connor; "she is all truth. Well would it be for her, if she had never seen me. Not even the parting from my father and mother sinks my heart with so much sorrow, as the thought that her love for me had made her so unhappy. It's a strange case, John O'Brien, an' a trying one; but since it is the will of God, we must submit to it. How did you leave her? I heard she was getting better."

"She is better," said John--"past danger, but still very delicate and feeble. Indeed, she is so much worn down, that you would scarcely know her. The brightness of her dark eye is dead--her complexion gone. Sorrow, as she says herself, is in her and upon her. Never, indeed, was a young creature's love so pure and true."

O'Donovan made no reply for some time; but the other observed that he turned away his face from him, as if to conceal his emotion. At length his bosom heaved vehemently, three or four times, and his breath came and went with a quick and quivering motion, that betrayed the powerful struggle which he felt.

"I know it is but natural for you to feel deeply," continued her brother; "but as you have borne everything heretofore with so much firmness, you must not break down--"

"But you know it is a deadly thrial to be forever separated from sich a girl. Sufferin' so much as you say--so worn! Her dark eye dim with--oh, it is, it is a deadly thrial--a heart--breaking thrial! John O'Brien," he proceeded, with uncommon earnestness, "you are her only brother, an' she is your only sister. Oh, will you, for the sake of God, and for my sake, if I may take the liberty of sayin' so--but, above all things, will you, for her own sake, when I am gone, comfort and support her, and raise her heart, if possible, out of this heavy throuble?"

Her brother gazed on him with a melancholy smile, in which might be read both admiration and sympathy.

"Do you think it possible that I would, or could omit to cherish and sustain poor Una, under such thrying circumstances! Everything considered, however, your words are only natural--only natural."

"Don't let her think too much about it," continued O'Donovan. "Bring her out as much as you can--let her not be much by herself. But this is folly in me," he added; "you know yourself better than I can instruct you how to act."

"God knows," replied the brother, struck and softened by the mournful anxiety for her welfare which Connor expressed, "God knows that all you say, and all I can think of besides, shall be done for our dear girl--so make your mind easy."

"I thank you," replied the other; "from my soul an' from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Endeavor to make her forget me, if you can; an' when this passes away out of her mind, she may yet be happy--a happy wife and a happy mother--an' she can then think of her love for Connor O'Donovan, only as a troubled dream that she had in her early life."

"Connor," said the other, "this is not right--you must be firmer;" but as he uttered the words of reproof, the tears almost came to his eyes.

"As for my part," continued Connor, "what is the world to me now, that I've lost her? It is--it is a hard and a dark fate, but why it should fall upon us I do not know. It's as much as I can do to bear it as I ought."

"Well, well," replied John, "don't dwell too much on it. I have something else to speak to you about."

"Dwell on it!" returned the other; "as God is above me, she's not one minute out of my thoughts; an' I tell you, I'd rather be dead this minute, than forget her. Her memory now is the only happiness that is left to me--my only wealth in this world."

"No," said John, "it is not. Connor, I have now a few words to say to you, and I know they will prove whether you are as generous as you are said to be; and whether your love for iny sister is truly tender and disinterested. You have it now in your power to ease her heart very much of a heavy load of concern which she feels on your account. Your father, you know, is now a ruined man, or I should say a poor man. You are going out under circumstances the most painful. In the country to which you are unhappily destined, you will have no friends--and no one living feels this more acutely than Una; for, observe me, I am now speaking on her behalf, and acting in her name. I am her agent. Now Una is richer than you might imagine, being the possessor of a legacy left her by our grandfather by my father's side. Of this legacy, she herself stands in no need--but you may and will, when you reach a distant country. Now, Connor, you see how that admirable creature loves you--you see how that love would follow you to the uttermost ends of the earth. Will you, or rather are you capable of being as generous as she is?--and can you show her that you are as much above the absurd prejudice of the world, and its cold forms, as he ought to be who is loved by a creature so truly generous and delicate as Una? You know how very poorly she is at present in health; and I tell you candidly, that your declining to accept this as a gift and memorial by which to remember her, may be attended with very serious consequences to her health."

Connor kept his eyes fixed upon the speaker, with a look of deep and earnest attention; and as O'Brien detailed with singular address and delicacy these striking proofs of Una's affection, her lover's countenance became an index of the truth with which his heart corresponded to the noble girl's tenderness and generosity. He seized O'Brien's hand.

"John," said he, "you are worthy of bein' Una's brother, and I could say nothing higher in your favor; but, in the mane time, you and she both know that I want nothing to enable me to remember her by. This is a proof, I grant you, that she loves me truly; but I knew that as well before, as I do now. In this business I cannot comply with her wish an' yours, an' you musn't press me. You, I say, musn't press me. Through my whole life I have never lost my own good opinion; but if I did what you want me now to do, I couldn't respect myself--I would feel lowered in my own mind. In short, I'd feel unhappy, an' that I was too mane to be worthy of your sister. Once for all, then, I cannot comply in this business with your wish an' hers."

"But the anxiety produced by your refusal may have very dangerous effects on her health."

"Then you must contrive somehow to consale my refusal from her till she gets recovered. I couldn't do what you want me; an' if you press me further upon it, I'll think you don't respect me as much as I'd wish her brother to do. Oh, God of Heaven!" he exclaimed, clasping his hands, "must I lave you, my darling Una, forever? I must, I must! an' the drame of all we hoped is past--but never, never, will she lave my heart! Her eye dim, an' her cheek pale! an' all forme--for a man covered with shame and disgrace! Oh, John, John, what a heart!--to love me in spite of all this, an' in spite of the world's opinion along with it!"

At this moment one of the turnkeys entered, and told him that his mother and a young lady were coming up to see him.

"My mother!" he exclaimed, "I am glad she is come; but I didn't expect her till the day after to--morrow. A young lady! Heavens above, what young lady would come with my mother?"

He involuntarily exchanged looks with O'Brien, and a thought flashed on the instant across the minds of both. They immediately understood each other.

"Undoubtedly," said John, "it can be no other--it is she--it is Una. Good God, how is this? The interview and separation will be more than she can bear--she will sink under it."

Connor made no reply, but sat down and pressed his right hand upon his forehead, as if to collect energy sufficient to meet the double trial which was now before him.

"I have only one course, John," said he, "now, and that is, to appear to be--what I am not--a firm--hearted man. I must try to put on a smiling face before them."

"If it be Una," returned the other, "I shall withdraw for a while. I know her extreme bashfulness in many cases; and I know, too, that anything like restraint upon her heart at present--in a word, I shall retire for a little."

"It may be as well," said Connor; "but so far as I am concerned, it makes no difference--just as you think proper."

"Your mother will be a sufficient witness," said the delicate--minded brother; "but I will see you again after they have left you."

"You must," replied O'Donovan. "Oh I see me--see me again. I have something to say to you of more value even than Una's life."

The door then opened, and assisted, or rather supported, by the governor of the gaol, and one of the turnkeys, Honor O'Donovan and Una O'Brien entered the gloomy cell of the guiltless convict.

The situation in which O'Donovan was now placed will be admitted, we think, by the reader, to have been one equally unprecedented and distressing. It has been often said, and on many occasions with perfect truth, that opposite states of feeling existing in the same breast generally neutralize each other. In Connor's heart, however, there was in this instance nothing of a conflicting nature. The noble boy's love for such a mother bore in its melancholy beauty a touching resemblance to the purity of his affection for Una O'Brien--each exhibiting in its highest character those virtues which made the heart of the mother proud and! loving, and that of his beautiful girl generous and devoted. So far, therefore, from their appearance together tending to concentrate his moral fortitude, it actually divided his strength, and forced him to meet each with a I heart subdued and softened by his love for the other.

As they entered, therefore, he approached! them, smiling as well as he could; and, first taking a hand of each, would have led them over to a deal form beside the fire, but it was soon evident, that, owing to their weakness and agitation united, they required greater support. He and O'Brien accordingly helped them to a seat, on which they sat with every symptom of that exhaustion which results at once from illness and mental suffering.

Let us not forget to inform our readers that the day of this mournful visit was that on which, according to his original sentence, he should have yielded up his life as a penalty to the law.

"My dear mother," said he, "you an' Una know that this day ought not to be a day of sorrow among us. Only for the goodness of my friends, an' of Government, it's not my voice you'd be now listening to--but that is now changed--so no more about it. I'm glad to see you both able to come out."

His mother, on first sitting down, clasped her hands together, and in a silent ejaculation, with closed eyes, raised her heart to the Almighty, to supplicate aid and strength to enable her to part finally with that boy who was, and ever had been, dearer to her than her own heart. Una trembled, and on meeting her brother so unexpectedly, blushed faintly, and, indeed, appeared to breathe with difficulty. She held a bottle of smelling salts in her hand.

"John," she said, "I will explain this visit."

"My dear Una," he replied, affectionately, "you need not--it requires none--and I beg you will not think of it one moment more. I must now leave you together for about half an hour, as I have some business to do in town that will detain me about that time." He then left them.

"Connor," said his mother, "sit down between this darlin' girl an' me, till I spake to you."

He sat down and took a hand of each.

"A darlin' girl she is, mother. It's now I see how very ill you have been, my own Una."

"Yes," she replied, "I was ill--but when I heard that your life was spared, I got better."

This she said with an artless but melancholy naivete, that was very trying to the fortitude of her lover. As she spoke she looked fondly but mournfully into his face.

"Connor," proceeded his mother, "I hope you are fully sensible of the mercy God has shown you, under this great trial?"

"I hope I am, indeed, my dear mother. It is to God I surely owe it."

"It is, an' I trust that, go where you will and live where you may, the day will never come when you'll forget the debt you owe the Almighty, for preventin' you from bein' cut down like a flower in the very bloom of your life. I hope, avillish machree, that that day will never come."

"God forbid it ever should, mother dear!"

"Thin you may learn from what has happened, avick agus asthofe, never, oh never, to despair of God's mercy--no matter into what thrial or difficulty you maybe brought. You see, whin you naither hoped for it here, nor expected it, how it came for all that."

"It did, blessed be God!"

"You're goin' now, ahagur, to a strange land, where you'll meet--ay, where my darlin' boy will meet the worst of company; but remember, alanna avillish, that your mother, well as she loves you, an' well, I own, as you deserve to be loved--that mother that hung over the cradle of her only one--that dressed him, an' reared him, an' felt many a proud heart out of him--that mother would sooner at any time see him in his grave, his sowl bein' free from stain, than to know that his heart was corrupted by the world, an' the people you'll meet in it."

Something in the last sentence must have touched a chord in Una's heart, for the tears, without showing any other' external signs of emotion, streamed down her cheeks.

"My advice, then, to you--an' oh, avick machree, machree, it is my last, the last you will ever hear from my lips--"

"Oh, mother, mother!" exclaimed Connor, but he could not proceed--voice waa denied him, Una here sobbed aloud.

"You bore your thrial nobly, my darlin' son--you must thin bear this as well; an' you, a colleen dhas, remember your promise to me afore I consulted to come with you this day."

The weeping girl here dried her eyes, and, by a strong effort, hushed her grief.

"My advice, thin, to you, is never to neglect your duty to God; for, if you do it wanst or twist, you'll begin by degrees to get careless--thin, bit by bit, asthore, your heart will harden, your conscience will leave you, an' wickedness, an' sin, an' guilt will come upon you. It's no matter, asthore, how much wicked comrades may laugh an' jeer at you, keep you thrue to the will of your good God, an' to your religious duties, an' let them take their own coorse. Will you promise me to do this, avuillish machree? "

"Mother, I have always sthrove to do it, an' with God's assistance, always will."

"An', my son, too, will you bear up undher this like a man? Remember, Connor darlin', that although you're lavin' us forever, yet your poor father an' I have the blessed satisfaction of knowin' that we're not childless--that you're alive, an' that you may yet do well an' be happy. I mintion these things, acushla machree, to show you that there's nothin' over you so bad, but you may show yourself firm and manly undher it--act as you have done. It's you, asthore, ought to comfort your father an me; an' I hope, whin you're parted from, him, that you 'ill--Oh God, support him! I wish, Connor, darlin', that that partin' was over, but I depend upon you to make it as light upon him as you can do."

She paused, apparently from exhaustion. Indeed, it was evident, either that she had little else to add, or that she felt too weak to speak much more, with such a load of sorrow and affliction on her heart.

"There is one thing, Connor jewel, that I needn't mintion. Of coorse you'll write to us as often as you convaniently can. Oh, do not forget that! for you know that that bit of paper from your own hand, is all belongin' to you we will ever see more. Avick machree, machree, many a long look--out we will have for it. It may keep the ould man's heart from breakin'."

She was silent, but, as she uttered the last words, there was a shaking of the voice, which gave clear proof of the difficulty with which she went through the solemn task of being calm, which, for the sake of her son, she had heroically imposed upon herself.

She was now silent, but, as is usual with Irish women under the influence of sorrow, she rocked herself involuntary to and fro, whilst, with closed eyes, and hands clasped as before, she held communion with God, the only true source of comfort.

"Connor," she added, after a pause, during which he and Una, though silent from respect to her, were both deeply affected; "sit fornint me, avick machree, that, for the short time you're to be with me, I may have you before my eyes. Husth now, a colleen machree, an' remimber your promise. Where's the stringth you said you'd show?"

She then gazed with a long look of love and sorrow upon the fine countenance of her manly son, and nature would be no longer restrained--

"Let me lay my head upon your breast," said she; "I'm attemptin' too much--the mother's heart will give out the mother's voice--will speak the mother's sorrow! Oh, my son, my son, my darlin', manly son--are you lavin' your lovin' mother for evermore, for evermore?"

She was overcome; placing her head upon his bosom, her grief fell into that beautiful but mournful wail with which, in Ireland, those of her sex weep over the dead.

Indeed, the scene assumed a tenderness, from this incident, which was inexpressibly affecting, inasmuch as the cry of death was but little out of place when bewailing that beloved boy, whom, by the stern decree of law, she was never to see again.

Connor kissed her pale cheek and lips, and rained down a flood of bitter tears upon her face; and Una, borne away by the enthusiasm of her sorrow, threw her arms also around her, and wept aloud.

At length, after having, in some degree, eased her heart, she sat up, and with that consideration and good sense for which she had ever been remarkable, said--

"Nature must have its way; an' surely, within reason, it's not sinful, seein' that God himself has given us the feelin's of sorrow, whin thim that we love is lavin' us--lavin' us never, never to see them agin. It's only nature, afther all; and now ma colleen dhas"--

Her allusion to the final separation of those who love--or, in her own words, "to the feelin's of sorrow, whin thim that we love is lavin us"--was too much for the heart and affections of the fair girl at her side, whose grief now passed all the bounds which her previous attempts at being firm had prescribed to it.

O'Donovan took the beloved one in his arms, and, in the long embrace which ensued, seldom were love and sorrow so singularly and mournfully blended.

"I don't want to prevent you from cryin' a colleen machree; for I know it will lighten an' aise your heart," said Honor; "but remimber your wakeness an' your poor health; an', Connor avourneen, don't you--if you love her--don't forget the state her health's in either."

"Mother, mother, you know it's the last time I'll ever look upon my Una's face again," he exclaimed. "Oh, well may I be loath an' unwillin' to part with her. You'll think of me, my darlin' life, when I'm gone--not as a guilty man, Una dear, but as one that if he ever committed a crime, it was lovin' you an' bringin' you to this unhappy state."

"God sees my heart this day," she replied--and she spoke with difficulty--"that I could and would have travelled over the world; borne joy and sorrow, hardship and distress--good fortune and bad--all happily, if you had been by my side--if you had not been taken from me. Oh, Connor, Connor, you may well pity your Una--for yours I am and was--another's I never will be. You are entering into scenes that will relieve you by their novelty--that will force you to think of other things and of other persons than those you've left behind you; but oh, what Can I look upon that will not fill my heart with despair and sorrow, by reminding me of you and your affection?"

"Fareer gair," exclaimed the mother, speaking involuntarily aloud, and interrupting her own words with sobs of bitter anguish--"Fareer gair, ma colleen dhas, but that's the heavy truth with us all. Oh, the ould man--the ould man's heart will break all out, when he looks upon the place, an' everything else that our boy left behind him."

"Dear Una," said Connor, "you know that we're partin' now forever."

"My breaking heart tells me that," she replied. "I would give the wealth of the world that it was not so--I would--I would."

"Listen to me, my own life. You must not let love for me lie so heavy upon your heart. Go out and keep your mind employed upon other thoughts--by degrees you'll forget--no, I don't think you could altogether forget me--me--the first, Una, you ever loved."

"And the last, Connor--the last I ever will love."

"No, no. In the presence of my lovin' mother I say that you must not think that way. Time will pass, my own Una, an' you will yet be happy with some other. You're very young; an', as I said, time will wear me by degrees out of your mimory."--

Una broke hastily from his embrace, for she lay upon his breast all this time--

"Do you think so, Connor O'Donovan?" she exclaimed; but on looking into his face, and reading the history of deep--seated sorrow which appeared there so legible, she again "fled to him and wept."

"Oh, no," she continued, "I cannot quarrel with you now; but you do the heart of your own Una injustice, if you think it could ever feel happiness with another. Already I have my mother's consent to enter a convent--and to enter a convent is my fixed determination."

"Oh, mother," said Connor, "How will I lave this blessed girl? how will I part with her?"

Honor rose up, and, by two or three simple words, disclosed more forcibly, more touchingly, than any direct exhibition of grief could have done, the inexpressible power of the misery she felt at this eternal separation from her only boy. She seized Una's two hands, and, kissing her lips, said, in tones of the most heart--rending pathos--

"Oh, Una, Una, pity me--I am his mother!"

Una threw herself into her arms, and sobbed out--

"Yes, and mine."

"Thin you'll obey me as a daughter should," said Honor. "This is too much for you, Oona; part we both must from him, an' neither of us is able to bear much, more."

She here gave Connor a private signal to be firm, pointing unobservedly to Una's pale cheek, which at that moment lay upon her bosom.

"Connor," she proceeded, "Oona has what you sent her. Nogher--an' he is breakin' his heart too--gave it to me; an' my daughter, for I will always call her so, has it this minute next her lovin' heart. Here is hers, an' let it lie next yours."

Connor seized the glossy ringlet from his mother's hand, and placed it at the moment next to the seat of his undying affection for the fair girl from whose ebon locks it had been taken.

His mother then kissed Una again, and, rising, said--

"Now, my daughther, remimber I am your mother, an' obey me."

"I will," said Una, attempting to repress her grief--"I will; but--"

"Yes, darlin', you will. Now, Connor, my son, my son--Connor?"

"What is it, mother, darlin'?"

"We're goin', Connor,--we're lavin' you--be firm--be a man. Aren't you my son, Connor? my only son--an' the ould man--an' never, never more--kneel down--kneel down, till I bless you. Oh, many, many a blessin' has risen from your mother's lips an' your mother's heart, to Heaven for you, my son, my son!"

Connor knelt, his heart bursting, but he knelt not alone. By his side was his own Una, with meek and bended head, awaiting for his mothers blessing.

She then poured forth that blessing; first: upon him who was nearest to her heart, and afterwards upon the worn but still beautiful; girl, whose love for that adored son had made her so inexpressibly dear to her. Whilst! she uttered this fervent but sorrowful benediction, a hand was placed upon the head of each, after which she stooped and kissed them both, but without shedding a single tear.

"Now," said she, "comes the mother's wakeness; but my son will help me by his manliness--so will my daughter. I am very weak. Oh, what heart can know the sufferin's of this hour, but mine? My son, my son--Connor O'Donovan, my son!"

At this moment John O'Brien entered the room; but the solemnity and pathos of her manner and voice hushed him so completely into silent attention, that it is probable she did not perceive him.

"Let me put my arms about him and kiss his lips once more, an' then I'll say farewell."

She again approached the boy, who S opened his arms to receive her, and, after having kissed him and looked into his face, said, "I will now go--I will' now go;" but instead of withdrawing, as she had intended, it was observed that she pressed him more closely to her heart than before; plied her hands about his neck and bosom, as if she were not actually conscious of what she did; and at length sunk into a forgetfulness of all her misery upon the aching breast of her unhappy son.

"Now," said Una, rising into a spirit of; unexpected fortitude, "now, Connor, I will be her daughter, and you must be her son. The moment she recovers we must separate, and in such a manner as to show that our affection for each other shall not be injurious to her."

"It is nature only," said her brother; "or, in other words, the love that is natural to such a mother for such a son, that has overcome her. Connor, this must be ended."

"I am willing it should," replied the other. "You must assist them home, and let me see you again tomorrow. I have something of the deepest importance to say to you."

Una's bottle of smelling salts soon relieved the woe-worn mother; and, ere the lapse of many minutes, she was able to summon her own natural firmness of character. The lovers, too, strove to be firm; and, after one long and last embrace, they separated from Connor with more composure than, from the preceding scene, might have been expected.

The next day, according to promise, John O'Brien paid him an early visit, in order to hear what Connor had assured him was of more importance even than Una's life itself. Their conference was long and serious, for each felt equally interested in its subject-matter. When it was concluded, and they had separated, O'Brien's friends observed that he appeared like a man whose mind was occupied by something that occasioned him to feel deep anxiety. What the cause of this secret care was, he did not disclose to anyone except his father, to whom, in a few days afterwards, he mentioned it. His college vacation had now nearly expired; but it was mutually agreed upon, in the course of the communication he then made, that for the present he should remain with them at home, and postpone his return to Maynooth, if not abandon the notion of the priesthood altogether. When the Bodagh left his son, after this dialogue, his open, good-humored countenance seemed clouded, his brow thoughtful, and his whole manner that of a man who has heard something more than usually unpleasant; but, whatever this intelligence was, he, too, appeared equally studious to conceal it. The day now arrived on which Connor O'Donovan was to see his other parent for the last time, and this interview he dreaded, on the old man's account, more than he had done even the separation from his mother. Our readers may judge, therefore, of his surprise on finding that his father exhibited a want of sorrow or of common feeling that absolutely amounted almost to indifference.

Connor felt it difficult to account for a change so singular and extraordinary in one with whose affection for himself he was so well acquainted. A little time, however, and an odd hint or two thrown out in the early part of their conversation, soon enabled him to perceive, either that the old man labored under some strange hallucination, or had discovered a secret source of comfort known only to himself. At length, it appeared to the son that he had discovered the cause of this unaccountable change in the conduct of his father; and, we need scarcely assure our readers, that his heart sank into new and deeper distress at the words from which he drew the inference.

"Connor," said the miser, "I had great luck yestherday. You remember Antony Cusack, that ran away from me wid seventy-three pounds fifteen shillin's an' nine pence, now betther than nine years ago. Many a curse he had from me for his roguery; but somehow, it seems he only thruv under them. His son Andy called on me yestherday mornin' an' paid me to the last farden, inthrest an' all. Wasn't I in luck?"

"It was very fortunate, father, an' I'm glad of it"

"It was, indeed, the hoighth o' luck. Now, Connor, you think one thing, an' that is, that; we're partin' forever, an' that we'll never see one another till we meet in the next world. Isn't that what you think?--eh, Connor?"

"It's hard to tell what may happen, father. We may see one another even in this; stranger things have been brought about."

"I tell you, Connor, we'll meet agin; I have made out a plan in my own head for that; but the luckiest of all was the money yestherday."

"What is the plan, father?"

"Don't ax me, avick, bekase it's betther for you not to know it. I may be disappointed, but it's not likely aither; still it 'ud be risin' expectations in you, an' if it didn't come to pass, you'd only be more unhappy; an' you know, Connor darlin', I wouldn't wish to be the manes of making your poor heart sore for one minute. God knows the same young heart has suffered enough, an' more than it ought to suffer. Connor?"

"Well, father?"

"Keep up your spirits, darlin', don't be at all cast down, I tell you."

The old man caught his son's hands ere he spoke, and uttered these words with a voice of such tenderness and affection, that Connor, on seeing him assume the office of comforter, contrary to all he had expected, felt himself more deeply touched than if his father had fallen, as was his wont, into all the impotent violence of grief.

"It was only comin' here to-day, Connor, that I thought of this plan; but I wish to goodness your poor mother knew it, for thin, maybe she'd let me mintion it to you."

"If it would make me any way unhappy," replied Connor, "I'd rather not hear it; only, whatever it is, father, if it's against my dear mother's wishes, don't put it in practice."

"I couldn't, Connor, widout her consint, barrin' we'd--but there's no us in that; only keep up your spirits, Connor dear. Still I'm glad it came into my head, this plan; for if I thought that I'd never see you agin, I wouldn't know how to part wid you; my heart 'ud fairly break, or my head 'ud get light. Now, won't you promise me not to fret, acushla machree--an' to keep your heart up, an' your spirits?"

"I'll fret as little as I can, father. You know there's not much pleasure in frettin', an' that no one would fret if they could avoid it; but will you promise me, my dear father, to be guided an' advised, in whatever you do, or intend to do, by my mother--my blessed mother?"

"I will--I will, Connor; an' if I had always done so, maybe it isn't here now you'd be standing, an' my heart breakin' to look at you; but, indeed, it was God, I hope, put this plan into my head; an' the money yestherday--that, too, was so lucky--far more so, Connor dear, than you think. Only for that--but sure no matther, Connor, we're not partin' for evermore now; so acushla machree, let your mind be aisy. Cheer up, cheer up my darlin' son."

Much more conversation of this kind took place between them during the old man's stay, which he prolonged almost to the last hour. Connor wondered, as was but natural, what the plan so recently fallen upon by his father could be. Indeed, sometimes, he feared that the idea of their separation had shaken his intellect, and that his allusions to this mysterious discovery, mixed up, as they were, with the uncommon delight he expressed at having recovered Cusack's money, boded nothing less than the ultimate derangement of his faculties. One thing, however, seemed obvious--that, whatever it might be, whether reasonable or otherwise, his father's mind was exclusively occupied by it; and that, during the whole scene of their parting, it sustained him in a manner for which he felt it utterly impossible to account. It is true he did not leave him without shedding tears, and bitter tears; but they were unaccompanied by the wild vehemence of grief which had, on former occasions, raged through and almost desolated his heart. The reader may entertain some notion of what he would have felt on this occasion, were it not for the "plan" as he called it, which supported him so much, when we tell him that he blessed his son three or four times dining their interview, without being conscious; that he had blessed him more than once. His last words to him were to keep up his spirits, for that there was little doubt that they would meet again.

The next morning, at daybreak, "their noble boy," as they fondly and proudly called him, was conveyed, to the transport, in company with many others; and at the hour of five o'clock p. m., that melancholy vessel weighed anchor, and spread her broad sails to the bosom of the ocean.

Although the necessary affairs of life are, after all, the great assuager of sorrow, yet there are also cases where the heart persists in rejecting the consolation brought by time, and in clinging to the memory of that which it loved. Neither Honor O'Donovan nor Una O'Brien could forget our unhappy hero, nor school their affections into the apathy of ordinary feelings. Of Fardorougha we might say the same; for, although he probably felt the want of his son's presence more keenly even than his wife, yet his grief, notwithstanding its severity, was mingled with the interruption of a habit--such as is frequently the prevailing cause of sorrow in selfish and contracted minds. That there was much selfishness in his grief, our readers, we dare say, will admit. At all events, a scene which took place between him and his wife, on the night of the day which saw Connor depart from his native land forever, will satisfy them of the different spirit which marked their feelings on that unfortunate occasion.

Honor had, as might be expected, recovered her serious composure, and spent a great portion of that day in offering up her prayers for the welfare of their son. Indeed, much of her secret grief was checked by the alarm which she felt for her husband, whose conduct on that morning before he left home was marked by the wild excitement, which of late had been so peculiar to him. Her surprise was consequently great when she observed, on his return, that he manifested a degree of calmness, if not serenity, utterly at variance with the outrage of his grief, or, we should rather say, the delirium of his despair, in the early part of the day. She resolved, however, with her usual discretion, not to catechize him on the subject, lest his violence might revive, but to let his conduct explain itself, which she knew in a little time it would do. Nor was she mistaken. Scarcely had an hour elapsed, when, with something like exultation, he disclosed his plan, and asked her advice and opinion. She heard it attentively, and for the first time since the commencement of their affliction, did the mother's brow seem unburdened of the sorrow which sat upon it, and her eye to gleam with something like the light of expected happiness. It was, however, on their retiring to rest that night that the affecting contest took place, which exhibited so strongly the contrast between their characters. We mentioned, in a preceding part of this narrative, that ever since her son's incarceration Honor had slept in his bed, and with her head on the very pillow which he had so often pressed. As she was about to retire, Fardorougha, for a moment, appeared to forget his "plan," and everything but the departure of his son. He followed Honor to his bedroom, which he traversed, distractedly clasping his hands, kissing his boy's clothes, and uttering sentiments of extreme misery and despair.

"There's his bed," he exclaimed; "there's our boy's bed--but where is he himself? gone, gone forever! There's his clothes, our darlin' son's clothes; look at them. Oh God! oh God! my heart will break outright. Oh Connor, our boy, our boy, are you gone from us forever! We must sit down to our breakfast in the mornin', to our dinner, an' to our supper at night, but our noble boy's face we'll never see--his voice we'll never hear."

"Ah, Fardorougha, it's thrue, it's thrue!" replied the wife; "but remember he's not in the grave, not in the clay of the churchyard; we haven't seen him carried there, and laid down undher the heart--breakin' sound of the dead--bell; we haven't hard the cowld noise of the clay fallin' in upon his coffin. Oh no, no--thanks, everlastin' thanks to God, that has spared our boy's life! How often have you an' I hard people say over the corpses of their children, 'Oh, if he was only alive I didn't care in what part of the world it was, or if I was never to see his face again, only that he was livin'!' An' wouldn't they, Fardorougha dear, give the world's wealth to--have their wishes? Oh they would, they would--an' thanks forever be to the Almighty! our boy is livin' and may yit be happy. Fardorougha, let us not fly into the face of God, who has in His mercy spared our son."

"I'll sleep in his bed," replied the husband; "on the very spot he lay on I'll he."

This was, indeed, trenching, and selfishly trenching upon the last mournful privilege of the mother's heart. Her sleeping here was one of those secret but melancholy enjoyments, which the love of a mother or of a wife will often steal, like a miser's theft, from the very hoard of their own sorrows. In fact, she was not prepared for this, and when he spoke she looked at him for some time in silent amazement.

"Oh, no, Fardorougha dear,the mother, the mother, that her breast was so often his pillow, has the best right, now that he's gone, to lay her head where his lay. Oh, for Heaven's sake, lave that poor pleasure to me, Fardorougha!"

"No, Honor, you can bear up undher grief better than I can. I must sleep where my boy slept."

"Fardorougha, I could go upon my knees! to you, an' I will, avourneen, if you'll grant me this."

"I can't, I can't," he replied, distractedly; "I could sleep nowhere else. I love everything belongin' to him. I can't, Honor, I can't, I can't."

"Fardorougha, my heart--his mother's heart is fixed upon it, an' was. Oh lave this to me, acushla, lave this to me--it's all I axe!"

"I couldn't, I couldn't--my heart is breakin'--it'll be sweet to me--I'll think I'll be nearer him," and as he uttered these words the tears flowed copiously down his cheeks.

His affectionate wife was touched with compassion, and immediately resolved to let him have his way, whatever it might cost herself. "God pity you," she said; "I'll give it up, I'll give it up, Fardorougha. Do sleep where he slep'; I can't blame you, nor I don't; for sure it's only a proof of how much you love him." She then bade him good--night, and, with spirits dreadfully weighed down by this singular incident, withdrew to her lonely pillow; for Connor's bed had been a single one, in which, of course, two persons could not sleep together. Thus did these bereaved parents retire to seek that rest which nothing but exhausted nature seemed disposed to give them, until at length they fell asleep under the double shadow of night and a calamity which filled their hearts with so much distress and misery.

In the mean time, whatever these two families might have felt for the sufferings of their respective children in consequence of Bartle Flanagan's villainy, that plausible traitor had watched the departure of his victim with a palpitating anxiety almost equal to what some unhappy culprit, in the dock of a prison, would experience when the foreman of his jury handed down the sentence which is either to hang or acquit him. Up to the very moment on which the vessel sailed, his cruel but cowardly heart was literally sick with the apprehension that Connor's mitigated sentence might be still further commuted to a term of imprisonment. Great, therefore, was his joy, and boundless his exultation on satisfying himself that he was now perfectly safe in the crime he had committed, and that his path was never to be crossed by him, whom, of all men living, he had most feared and hated. The reader is not to suppose, however, that by the ruin of Connor, and the revenge he consequently had gained upon Fardorougha, the scope of his dark designs was by any means accomplished. Far from it; the fact is, his measures were only in a progressive state. In Nogher M'Cormick's last interview with Connor, our readers will please to remember that a hint had been thrown out by that attached old follower, of Flanagan's entertaining certain guilty purposes involving nothing less than the abduction of Una. Now, in justice even to Flanagan, we are bound to say that no one living had ever received from himself any intimation of such an intention. The whole story was fabricated by Nogher for the purpose of getting Connor's consent to the vengeance which it had been determined to execute upon his enemy. By a curious coincidence, however,the story, though decidedly false so far as Nogher knew to the contrary, happened to be literally and absolutely true. Flanagan, indeed, was too skilful and secret, either to precipitate his own designs until the feeling of the parties should abate and settle down, or to place himself at the mercy of another person's honesty. He knew his own heart too well to risk his life by such dangerous and unseasonable confidence. Some months consequently passed away since. Connor's departure, when an event took place, which gave him still greater security. This was nothing less than the fulfilment by Fardorougha of that plan to which he looked forward with such prospective satisfaction, Connor had not been a month gone when his father commenced to dispose of his property, which he soon did, having sold out his farm to good advantage. He then paid his rent, the only debt he owed; and, having taken a passage to New South Wales for himself and Honor, they departed with melancholy satisfaction to seek that son without whose society they found their desolate hearth gloomier than the cell of a prison.

This was followed, too, by another circumstance--but one apparently of little importance--which was, the removal of Biddy Nulty to the Bodagh's family, through the interference of Una, by whom she was treated with singular affection, and admitted to her confidence.

Such was the position of the parties after, the lapse of five months subsequent to the transportation of Connor. Flanagan had conducted himself with great circumspection, and, so far as public observation could go, with much propriety. There was no change whatsoever perceptible, either in his dress or manner except that alluded to by Nogher of his altogether declining to taste any intoxicating liquor. In truth, so well did he act his part, that the obloquy raised against him at the period of Connor's trial was nearly, if not altogether, removed, and many persons once more adopted an impression of his victim's guilt.

With respect to the Bodagh and his son, the anxiety which we have described them as feeling in consequence of the latter's interview with O'Donovan, was now completely removed. Una's mother had nearly forgotten both the crime and its consequences; but upon the spirit of her daughter there appeared to rest a silent and settled sorrow not likely to be diminished or removed. Her cheerfulness had abandoned her, and many an hour did she contrive to spend with Biddy Nulty, eager in the mournful satisfaction of talking over all that affection prompted of her banished lover.

We must now beg our readers to accompany us to a scene of a different description from any we have yet drawn. The night of a November day had set in, or rather had advanced so far as nine o'clock, and towards the angle of a small three-cornered field, called by a peculiar coincidence of name, Oona's Handkerchief, in consequence of an old legend connected with it, might be seen moving a number of straggling figures, sometimes in groups of fours and fives; sometimes in twos or threes as the case might be, and not unfrequently did a single straggler advance, and, after a few private words, either join the others or proceed alone to a house situated in the angular corner of the field to which we allude. As the district was a remote one, and the night rather dark, several shots might be heard as they proceeded, and several flashes in the pan seen from the rusty arms of those who were probably anxious to pull a trigger for the first time. The country, at the period we write of, be it observed, was in a comparative state of tranquility, and no such thing as a police corps had been heard of or known in the neighborhood.

At the lower end of a long, level kind of moor called the Black Park, two figures approached a* kind of gate or pass that opened into it. One of them stood until the other advanced, and, in a significant tone, asked who comes there?

"A friend to the guard," was the reply.

"Good morrow," said the other.

"Good morrow mornin' to you."

"What age are you in?"

"In the end of the Fifth."

"All right; come on, boy; the true blood's in you, whoever you are."

"An' is it possible you don't know me, Dandy?"

"Faix, it is; I forgot my spectacles tonight. Who the dickins are you at all?"

"I suppose you purtind to forget Ned M'Cormick?"

"Is it Nogher's son?"

"The divil a other; an', Dandy Duffy, how are you, man alive?"

"Why, you see, Ned, I've been so long out of the counthry, an' I'm now so short a time back, that, upon my sowl, I forget a great many of my ould acquaintances, especially them that wor only slips when I wint acrass. Faith, I'm purty well considherin, Ned, I thank you."

"Bad luck to them that sint you acrass, Dandy; not but that you got off purty well on the whole, by all accounts. They say only that Rousin Redhead swore like a man you'd 'a' got a touch of the Shaggy Shoe."

"To the divil wid it all now, Ned; let us have no more about it; I don't for my own part like to think of it. Have you any notion of what we're called upon for to--night?"

"Divil the laste; but I believe, Dandy, that Bartle's not the white-headed boy wid you no more nor wid some more of us."

"Him! a double-distilled villain. Faith, there wor never good that had the white liver; an' he has it to the backbone. My brother Lachlin, that's now dead, God rest him, often tould me about the way he tricked him and Barney Bradly when they wor greenhorns about nineteen or twenty. He got them to join him in stealin' a sheep for their Christmas dinner, he said; so they all three stole it; an' the blaggard skinned and cut it up, sendin' my poor boacun of a brother home to hide the skin in the straw in our barn, and poor Barney, wid only the head an' trotters, to hide them in his father's tow-house. Very good; in a day or two the neighbors wor all called upon to clear themselves upon the holy Evangelisp; and the two first that he egg'd an' to do it was my brother an' Barney. Of coorse he switched the primmer himself that he was innocent; but whin it was all over some one sint Jarmy Campel, that lost the sheep, to the very spot where they hid the fleece an' trot--ters. Jarmy didn't wish to say much about it; so he tould them if they'd fairly acknowledge it an' pay him betune them for the sheep, he'd dhrop it. My father an' Andy Bradly did so, an' there it ended; but purshue the morsel of mutton ever they tasted in the mane time. As for Bartle, he managed the thing so well that at the time they never suspected him, although divil a other could betray them, for he was the only one knew it; an' he had the aiten o' the mutton, too, the blaggard! Faith, Ned, I know him well."

"He has conthrived to get a strong back o' the boys, anyhow."

"He has, an' 'tis that, and bekase he's a good hand to be undher for my revinge on Blennerhasset, that made me join him."

"I dunna what could make him refuse to let Alick Nulty join him?"

"Is it my cousin from Annaloghan? an' did he?"

"Divil a lie in it; it's as thrue as you're standin' there; but do you know what is suspected?"


"Why, that he has an eye on Bodagh Buie's daughter. Alick towld me that, for a long time afther Connor O'Donovan was thransported, the father an' son wor afeard of him. He hard it from his sister Biddy, an' it appears that the Bodagh's daughter tould her family that he used to stare her out of countenance at mass, an' several times struv to put the furraun on her in hopes to get acquainted."

"He would do it; an' my hand to you, if he undhertakes it he'll not fail; an' I'll tell you another thing, if he suspected that I knew anything about the thraitherous thrick he put on my poor brother, the divil a toe he'd let me join him; but you see I--was only a mere gorsoon, a child I may say at the time.

"At all events let us keep an eye on him; an' in regard to Connor O'Donovan's business, let him not be too sure that it's over wid him yet. At any rate, by dad, my father has slipped out a name upon him an' us that will do him no good. The other boys now call us the Stags of Lisdhu, that bein' the place where his father lived, an' the nickname you see rises out of his thrachery to poor Connor O'Donovan."

"Did he ever give any hint himself about carryin' away the Bodagh's pretty daughter?"

"Is it him'? Oh, oh! catch him at it; he's a damn sight too close to do any sich thing."

After some further conversation upon that and other topics, they arrived at the place of appointment, which was a hedge school-house; one of those where the master, generally an unmarried man, merely wields his sceptre during school-hours, leaving it open and uninhabited for the rest of the twenty-four.

The appearance of those who were here assembled was indeed singularly striking. A large fire of the unconsumed peat brought by the scholars on that morning, was kindled in the middle of the floor--it's usual site. Around, upon stones, hobs, bosses, and seats of various descriptions, sat the "boys"--some smoking and others drinking; for upon nights of this kind, a shebeen-housekeeper, uniformly a member of such societies, generally attends for the sale of his liquor, if he cannot succeed in prevailing on them to hold their meetings in his own house--a circumstance which for many reasons may not be in every case advisable. As they had not all yet assembled, nor the business of the night commenced, they were, of course, divided into several groups and engaged in various amusements. In the lower end of the house was a knot, busy at the game of "spoiled five," their ludicrous table being the crown of a hat, placed upon the floor in the centre. These all sat upon the ground, their legs stretched out, their torch-bearer holding a lit bunch of fir splinters, stuck for convenience sake into the muzzle of a horse-pistol. In the upper end, again, sat another clique, listening to a man who was reading a treasonable ballad. Such of them as could themselves read stretched over their necks in eagerness to peruse it along with him, and such as could not--indeed, the greater number--gave force to its principles by very significant gestures; some being those of melody, and others those of murder; that is to say, part of them were attempting to hum a tune in a low voice, suitable to the words, whilst others more ferocious brandished their weapons, as if those against whom the spirit of the ballad was directed had been then within the reach of their savage passions. Beside the fire, and near the middle of the house, sat a man, who, by his black stock and military appearance, together with a scar over his brow that gave him a most repulsive look, was evidently a pensioner or old soldier. This person was engaged in examining some rusty fire-arms that had been submitted to his inspection. His self-importance was amusing, as was also the deferential aspect of those who, with arms in their hands, hammering flints or turning screws, awaited patiently their turn for his opinion of their efficiency. But perhaps the most striking group of all was that in which a thick-necked, bull-headed young fellow, with blood-colored hair, a son of Rousin Redhead's--who, by the way, was himself present--and another beetle-browed slip were engaged in drawing for a wager, upon one of the school-boy's slates, the figure of a coffin and cross-bones. A hardened-looking old sinner, with murder legible in his face, held the few half-pence which they wagered in his open hand, whilst in the other he clutched a pole, surmounted by a bent bayonet that had evidently seen service. The last group worthy of remark was composed of a few persons who were writing threatening notices upon a leaf torn out of a school-boy's copy, which was laid upon what they formerly termed a copy-board, of plain deal, kept upon the knees, as a substitute for desks, while the boys were writing. This mode of amusement was called waiting for the Article-bearer, or the Captain, for such was Bartle Flanagan, who now entered the house, and saluted all present with great cordiality.

"Begad, boys," he said, "our four guards widout is worth any money. I had to pass the sign-word afore 'I could pass myself, and that's the way it ought to be. But, boys, before we go further, an' for fraid of thraitors, I must call the rowl. You'll stand in a row roun' the walls, an' thin we can make sure that there's no spies among us."

He then called out a roll of those who were members of his lodge and, having ascertained that all was right, he proceeded immediately to business.

"Rousin Redhead, what's the raisin you didn't take the arms from Captain St. Ledger's stewart? Sixteen men armed was enough to do it, an' yees failed."

"Ay, an' if you had been wid us, and sixteen more to the back o' that, you'd failed too. Begarra, captain dear, it seems that good people is scarce. Look at Mickey Mulvather there, you see his head tied up; but aldo he can play cards well enough, be me sowl, he's short of wan ear any how, an' if you could meet wan o' the same Stewart's bullets, goin' abroad at night like ourselves for its divarsion, it might tell how he lost it. Bartle, I tell you a number of us isn't satisfied wid you. You sends us out to meet danger, an' you won't come yourself."

"Don't you know, Rouser, that I always do go whenever I can? But I'm caged now; faix I don't sleep in a barn, and can't budge as I used to do."

"An' who's tyin' you to your place, thin?"

"Rouser," replied Bartle, "I wish I had a thousand like you, not but I have fine fellows. Boys, the thruth is this, you must all meet here to-morrow night, for the short an' long of it is, that I'm goin' to run away wid a wife."

"Well," replied Redhead, "sure you can do that widout our assistance, if she's willin' to come."

"Willin'! why," replied Bartle, "it's by her own appointment we're goin'."

"An' if it is, then," said the Rouser, who, in truth, was the leader of the suspicious and disaffected party in Flanagan's lodge, "what the blazes use have you for us?"

"Rouser Redhead," said Bartle, casting a suspicious and malignant glance at him, "might I take the liberty of axin' what you mane by spakin' of me in that disparagin' manner? Do you renumber your oath? or do you forget that you're bound by it to meet at twelve hours' notice, or less, whinever you're called upon? Dar Chriestha! man, if I hear another word of the kind out of your lips, down you go on the black list. Boys," he proceeded, with a wheedling look of good-humor to the rest, "we'll have neither Spies nor Stags here, come or go what may."

"Stags!" replied Rouser Redhead, whose face had already become scarlet with indignation. "Stags, you say, Bartle Flanagan! Arrah, boys, I wondher where is poor Connor O'Donovan by this time?"

"I suppose bushin' it afore now," said our friend of the preceding part of the night. "I bushed it myself for a year and a half, but be Japurs I got sick of it. But any how, Bartle, you oughn't to spake of Stags, for although Connor refused to join us, damn your blood, you had no right to go to inform upon him. Sure, only for the intherest that was made for him, you'd have his blood on your sowl."

"An' if he had itself," observed one of Flanagan's friends, "'twould signify very little. The Bodagh desarved what he got, and more if he had got it. What right has he, one of our own purswadjion as he is to hould out against us the way he does? Sure he's as rich as a Sassenach, an' may hell resave the farden he'll subscribe towards our gettin' arms or ammunition, or towards defindin' us when we're brought to thrial. So hell's delight wid the dirty Bodagh, says myself for wan."

"An' is that by way of defince of Captain Bartle Flanagan?" inquired Rouser Redhead, indignantly. "An' so our worthy captain sint the man across that punished our inimy, even accordian to your own provin', an' that by staggin' aginst him. Of coorse, had the miser's son been one of huz, Bartle's brains would be scattered to the four quarthers of heaven long agone."

"An' how did I know but he'd stag aginst me?" said Bartle, very calmly.

"Damn well you knew he would not," observed Ned M'Cormick, now encouraged by the bold and decided manner of Rouser Redhead. "Before ever you went into Fardorougha's sarvice you sed to more than one that you'd make him sup sorrow for his harshness to your father and family."

"An' didn't he desarve it, Ned? Didn't he ruin us?"

"He might desarve it, an' I suppose he did; but what right had you to punish the innocent for the guilty? You knew very well that both his son and his wife always set their faces against his doin's.'"

"Boys," said Flanagan, "I don't understand this, and I tell you more I won't bear it. This night let any of you that doesn't like to be undher me say so. Rouser Redhead, you'll never meet in a Ribbon Lodge agin. You're scratched out of wan book, but by way of comfort you're down in another"

"What other, Bartle?"

"The black list. An' now I have nothin' more to say except that if there's anything on your mind that wants absolution, look to it."

We must now pause for a moment to observe upon that which we suppose the sagacity of the reader has already discovered--that is, the connection between what has occurred in Flanagan's lodge, and the last dialogue which took place between Nogher and Connor O'Donovan. It is evident that Nogher had spirits at work for the purpose both of watching and contravening all Flanagan's plans, and, if possible, of drawing him into some position which might justify the "few friends," as he termed them, first in disgracing him, and afterwards of settling their account ultimately with a man whom they wished to blacken, as dangerous to the society of which they were members. The curse, however, of these secret confederacies, and indeed of ribbonism in general, is, that the savage principle of personal vengeance is transferred from the nocturnal assault, or the midday assassination, which may be directed against religious or political enemies, to the private bickerings and petty jealousies that must necessarily occur in a combination of ignorant and bigoted men, whose passions are guided by no principle but one of practical cruelty. This explains, as we have just put it, and justly put it, the incredible number of murders which are committed in this unhappy country, under the name of way-layings and midnight attacks, where the offence that caused them cannot be traced by society at large, although it is an incontrovertible fact, that to all those who are connected with ribbonism, in its varied phases, it often happens that the projection of such murders is known for weeks before they are perpetrated. The wretched assassin who murders a man that has never offended him personally, and who suffers himself to become the instrument of executing the hatred which originates from a principle of general enmity again a class, will not be likely, once his hands are stained with blood, to spare any one who may, by direct personal injury, incur his resentment. Every such offence, where secret societies are concerned, is made a matter of personal feeling and trial of strength between factions, and of course a similar spirit is superinduced among persons of the same creed and principles to that which actuates them against those who differ from them in politics and religion. It is true that the occurrence of murders of this character has been referred to as a proof that secret societies are not founded or conducted upon a spirit of religious rancor; but such an assertion is, in some cases, the result of gross ignorance, and, in many more, of far grosser dishonesty. Their murdering each other is not at all a proof of any such thing, but it, is a proof, as we have said, that their habit of taking away human life, and shedding human blood upon slight grounds or political feelings, follows them from their conventional principles to their private resentments, and is, therefore, such a consequence as might naturally be expected to result from a combination of men who, in one sense, consider murder no crime. Thus does this secret tyranny fall back upon society, as well as upon those who are concerned in it, as a double curse; and, indeed, we believe that even the greater number of these unhappy wretches whom it keeps within its toils, would be glad if the principle were rooted out of the country forever.

"An' so you're goin' to put my father down on the black list," said the beetle-browed son of the Rouser. "Very well, Bartle, do so; but do you see that?" he added, pointing to the sign of the coffin and the cross-bones, which he had previously drawn upon the slate; "dhav a sphirit Neev, if you do, you'll waken some mornin' in a warmer counthry than Ireland."

"Very well," said Bartle, quietly, but evidently shrinking from a threat nearly as fearful, and far more daring than his own. "You know I have nothin' to do except my duty. Yez are goin' aginst the cause, an' I must report yez; afther whatever happens, won't come from me, nor from any one here. It is from thim that's in higher quarters you'll get your doom, an' not from me, or, as I said afore, from any one here. Mark that; but indeed you know it as well as I do, an' I believe, Rouser, a good deal bether."

Flanagan's argument, to men who understood its dreadful import, was one before which almost every description of personal courage must quail. Persons were then present, Rouser Redhead among the rest, who had been sent upon some of those midnight missions, which contumacy against the system, when operating in its cruelty, had dictated. Persons of humane disposition, declining to act on these sanguinary occasions, are generally the first to be sacrificed, for individual life is nothing when obstructing the propagation of general principle.

This truth, coming from Flanagan's lips, they themselves, some of whom had executed its spirit, knew but too well. The difference, however, between their apprehension, so far as they were individually concerned, was not much; Flanagan had the person to fear, and his opponents the principle.

Redhead, however, who knew that whatever he had executed upon delinquents like himself, might also upon himself be visited in his turn, saw that his safest plan for the present was to submit; for indeed the meshes of the White-boys' system leave no man's life safe, if he express hostile opinions to it.

"Bartle," said he, "you know I'm no coward; an' I grant that you've a long head at plannin' anything you set about. I don't see, in the mane time, why, afther all, we should quarrel. You know me, Bartle; an' if anything happens me, it won't be for nothin. I say no more; but I say still that you throw the danger upon uz, and don't--"

"Rouser Redhead," said Bartle, "give me jour hand. I say now, what I didn't wish to say to-night afore, by Japurs, you're worth five men; an' I'll tell you all, boys, you must meet the Rouser here to-morrow night, an' we'll have a dhrink at my cost; an', boys--Rouser, hear me--you all know your oaths; we'll do something to-morrow night--an' I say again, Rouser, I'll be wid yez an' among yez; an' to prove my opinion of the Rouser, I'll allow him to head us."

"An', by the cross o' Moses, I'll do it in style," rejoined the hot-headed but unthinking fellow, who did not see that the adroit captain was placing him in the post of danger. "I don't care a damn what it is--we'll meet here to-morrow night, boys, an' I'll show you that I can lead as well as folly.

"Whatever happens," said Bartle, "we oughtn't to have any words or bickerin's among ourselves at any rate. I undherstand that two among yez sthruck one another. Sure yez know that there's not a blow ye giv to a brother but's a perjury--an' there's no use in that, barin an' to help forid the thruth. I'll say no more about it now; but I hope there'll never be another blow given among yez. Now, get a hat, some o' yez, till we draw cuts for six that I want to beat Tom Lynchagan, of Lisdhu; he's worken for St. Ledger, afther gettin' two notices. He's a quiet, civil man, no doubt; but that's not the thing. Obadience, or where's the use of our meetin's at all? Give him a good sound batin', but no further--break no bones."

He then marked slips of paper, equal in number to those who were present, with the numbers 1, 2, 3, &c;, to correspond, after which he determined that the three first numbers and the three last should go--all of which was agreed to without remonstrance, or any apparent show of reluctance whatever. "Now, boys," he continued, "don't forget to attend to-morrow night; an' I say to every man of you, as Darby Spaight said to the divil, when he promised to join the rebellion, 'phe dha phecka laght,' (bring your pike with you,) bring the weapon."

"An who's the purty girl that's goin' to wet you, Captain Bartle?" inquired Dandy Duffy.

"The purtiest girl in this parish, anyhow," replied Flanagan, unawares. The words, however, were scarcely out of his lips, when he felt that he had been indiscreet. He immediately added--"that is, if she is of this parish; but I didn't say she is. Maybe We'll have to thravel a bit to find her out, but come what come may, don't neglect to be all here about half-past nine o'clock, wid your arms an' ammunition."

Duffy, who had sat beside Ned M'Cormiek during the night, gave him a significant look, which the other, who had, in truth, joined himself to Flanagan's lodge only to watch his movements, as significantly returned.

When the men deputed to beat Lynchaghan had blackened their faces, the lodge dispersed for the night, Dandy Duffy and Ned M'Cormick taking their way home together, in order to consider of matters, with which the reader, in due time, shall be made acquainted. _

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