Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > William Carleton > Fardorougha, The Miser > This page

Fardorougha, The Miser, a novel by William Carleton

Part 7

< Previous
Table of content
Next >

Our readers may recollect, that, at the close of that part of our tale which appeared in the preceding number, Dandy Duffy and Ned M'Cormick exchanged significant glances at each other, upon Flanagan's having admitted unawares that the female he designed to take away on the following night was "the purtiest girl in the parish." The truth was, he imagined at the moment that his designs were fully matured, and in the secret vanity, or rather, we should say, in the triumphant villainy of his heart, he allowed an expression' to incautiously pass his lips which was nearly tantamount to an admission of Una's name. The truth of this he instantly felt. But even had he not, by his own natural sagacity, perceived it, the look of mutual intelligence which his quick and suspicious eye observed to pass between Duffy and Ned M'Cormick would at once have convinced him. Una was not merely entitled to the compliment so covertly bestowed upon her extraordinary personal attractions, but in addition it might have been truly affirmed that neither that nor any adjoining parish could produce a female, in any rank, who could stand on a level with her in the character of a rival beauty. This was admitted by all who had ever seen the colleen dhan dhun, or "the purty brown girl," as she was called, and it followed as a matter of course, that Flanagan's words could imply no other than the Bodagh's daughter.

It is unnecessary to say, that Flanagan,--knowing this as he did, could almost have bit a portion of his own tongue off as a punishment for its indiscretion. It was then too late, however, to efface the impression which the words were calculated to make, and he felt besides that he would only strengthen the suspicion by an over-anxiety to remove it. He, therefore, repeated his orders respecting the appointed meeting on the following night, although he had already resolved in his own mind to change the whole plan of his operations.

Such was the precaution with which this cowardly but accomplished miscreant proceeded towards the accomplishment of his purposes, and such was his apprehension lest the premature suspicion of a single individual might by contingent treachery defeat his design, or affect his personal safety. He had made up his mind to communicate the secret of his enterprise to none until the moment of its execution; and this being accomplished, his ultimate plans were laid, as he thought, with sufficient skill to baffle pursuit and defeat either the malice of his enemies or the vengeance of the law.

No sooner had they left the schoolhouse than the Dandy and M'Cormick immediately separated from the rest, in order to talk over the proceedings of the night, with a view to their suspicions of the "Captain." They had not gone far, however, when they were overtaken by two others, who came up to them at a quick, or, if I may be allowed the expression, an earnest pace. The two latter were Rousin Redhead and his son, Corney.

"So, boys," said the Rouser, "what do you think of our business to-night? Didn't I get well out of his clutches?"

"Be me troth, Rouser, darlin'," replied the Dandy, "you niver wor completely in them till this minnit."

"Dhar ma lham charth," said Corney, "I say he's a black-hearted villin."

"But how am I in his clutches, Dandy?" inquired the Rouser.

"Why," rejoined Duffy, "didn't you see that for all you said about his throwin' the post of danger on other people, he's givin' it to you to-morrow night?"

Rousin Redhead stood still for nearly half a minute without uttering a syllable; at length he seized Dandy by the arm, which he pressed with the gripe of Hercules, for he was a man of huge size and strength.

"Chorp ad dioual, you giant, is it my arm you're goin' to break?"

"Be the tarnal primmer, Dandy Duffy, but I see it now!" said the Rouser, struck by Bartle's address, and indignant at the idea of having been overreached by him. "Eh, Corney," he continued, addressing the son, "hasn't he the Rouser set? I see, boys, I see. I'm a marked man wid him, an' it's likely, for all he said, will be on the black list afore he sleeps. Well, Corney avic, you an' others know how to act if anything happens me."

"I don't think," said M'Cormick, who was a lad of considerable penetration, "that you need be afeard of either him or the black list. Be me sowl, I know the same Bartle well, an' a bigger coward never put a coat on his back. He got as pale as a sheet, to-night, when Corney there threatened him; not but he's desateful enough I grant, but he'd be a greater tyrant only that he's so hen-hearted."

"But what job," said the rouser, "has he for us to-morrow night, do you think? It must be something past the common. Who the dioual can he have in his eye to run away wid?"

"Who's the the purtiest girl in the parish, Rouser?" asked Ned. "I thought every one knew that."

"Why, you don't mane for to say," replied Redhead, "that he'd have the spunk in him to run away with Bodagh Buie's daughter? Be the contents o' the book, if I thought he'd thry it, I stick to him like a Throjan; the dirty Bodagh, that, as Larry Lawdher said tonight, never backed or supported us, or gev a single rap to help us, if a penny 'ud save us from the gallis. To hell's delights wid him an' all belongin' to him, I say too; an' I'll tell you What it is, boys, if Flanagan has the manliness to take away his daughter, I'll be the first to sledge the door to pieces."

"Dhar a spiridh, an' so will I," said the young beetle-browed tiger beside him; "thim that can an' won't help on the cause, desarves no mercy from it."

Thus spoke from the lips of ignorance and brutality that esprit de corps of blood, which never scruples to sacrifice all minor resentments to any opportunity of extending the cause, as it is termed, of that ideal monster, in the promotion of which the worst principles of our nature, still most active, are sure to experience the greatest glut of low and gross gratification. Oh, if reason, virtue, and true religion, were only as earnest and vigorous in extending their own cause, as ignorance, persecution, and bigotry, how soon would society present a different aspect! But, unfortunately, they cannot stoop to call in the aid of tyranny, and cruelty, and bloodshed, nor of the thousand other atrocious allies of falsehood and dishonesty, of which ignorance, craft, and cruelty, never fail to avail themselves, and without which they could not proceed successfully.

M'Cormick, having heard Rousin Redhead and his son utter such sentiments, did not feel at all justified in admitting them to any confidence with himself or Duffy. He accordingly replied with more of adroitness than of candor to the savage sentiments they expressed.

"Faith, you're right, Rouser; he'd never have spunk, sure enough, to carry off the Bodagh's daughter. But, in the mane time, who was spakin' about her? Begor, if I thought he had the heart I'd--but he hasn't."

"I know he hasn't," said the Rouser.

"He's nothing but a white-livered dog," said Duffy.

"I thought, to tell you the truth," said M'Cormick, "that you might give a guess as to the girl, but for the Bodagh's daughter, he has not the mettle for that."

"If he had," replied the Rouser, "he might count upon Corney an' myself as right-hand men. We all have a crow to pluck wid the dirty Bodagh, an', be me zounds, it'll puzzle him to find a bag to hould the feathers."

"One 'ud think he got enough," observed M'Cormick, "in the loss of his haggard."

"But that didn't come from uz," said the Rouser; "we have our share to give him yet, an' never fear hell get it. We'll taich him to abuse us, an' set us at defiance, as he's constantly doin'."

"Well, Rouser," said M'Cormick, who now felt anxious to get rid of him, "we'll be wishin' you a good night; we're goin' to have a while of a kailyeah (An evening conversational visit) up at my uncle's. Corney, my boy, good night."

"Good night kindly, boys," replied the other, "an' banaght lath any how."

"Rouser, you divil," said the Dandy, calling after them, "will you an' blessed Corney there, offer up a Patthernavy for my conversion, for I'm sure that both your prayers will go far?"

Rousin Redhead and Corney responded to this with a loud laugh, and a banter.

"Ay, ay, Dandy; but, be me sowl, if they only go as far as your own goodness sint you before now, it'll be seven years before they come back again; eh, do you smell anything?--ha, ha, ha!"

"The big boshthoon hot me fairly, begad," observed the Dandy. Aside--"The divil's own tongue he has."

"Bad cess to you for a walkin' bonfire, an' go home," replied the Dandy; "I'm not a match for you wid the tongue, at all at all"

"No, nor wid anything else, barrin' your heels," replied the Rouser; "or your hands, if there was a horse in the way. Arrah, Dandy?"

"Well, you graceful youth, well?"

"You ought to be a good workman by this time; you first lamed your thrade, an' thin you put in your apprenticeship--ha, ha, ha!"

"Faith, an' Rouser I can promise you a merry end, my beatity; you'll be the only man that'll dance at your own funeral; an' I'll tell you what, Rouser, it'll be like an egg-hornpipe, wid your eyes covered. That's what I call an active death, avouchal!"

"Faith, an' if you wor a priest, Dandy, you'd never die with your face to the congregation. You'll be a rope-dancer yourself yet; only this, Dandy, that you'll be undher the rope instead of over it, so good night."

"Rouser," exclaimed the other. "Rousin Redhead!"

"Go home," replied the Rouser. "Good night, I say; you've thravelled a great deal too far for an ignorant man like me to stand any chance wid you. Your tongue's lighter than your hands (In Ireland, to be light--handed signifies to be a thief) even, and that's payin' it a high compliment."

"Divil sweep you, Brien," said Dandy, "you'd beat the divil an' Docthor Fosther, Good night again!"

"Oh, ma bannaght laht, I say."

And they accordingly parted.

"Now," said Ned, "what's to be done Dandy? As sure as gun's iron, this limb of hell will take away the Bodagh's daughter, if we don't do something to prevent it."

"I'm not puttin' it past him," returned his companion, "but how to prevent it is the thing. He has the boys all on his side, barrin' yourself and me, an' a few more."

"An' you see, Ned, the Bodagh is so much hated, that even some of thim that don't like Flanagan, won't scruple to join him in this."

"An' if we were known to let the cat out o' the bag to the Bodagh, we might as well prepare our coffins at wanst."

"Faith, sure enough--that's but gospel, Ned," replied the Dandy; still it 'ud be the milliah murdher to let the double-faced villin carry off such a girl."

"I'll tell you what you'll do, thin, Dandy," rejoined Ned, "what if you'd walk down wid me as far as the Bodagh's."

"For why? Sure they're in bed now, man alive."

"I know that," said M'Cormick; "but how--an--ever, if you come down wid me that far, I'll conthrive to get in somehow, widout wakenin' them."

"The dickens you will! How, the sarra, man?"

"No matther, I will; an' you see," he added, pulling out a flask of spirits, "I'm not goin' impty-handed."

"Phew!" exclaimed Duffy, "is it there you are?--oh, that indeed! Faith I got a whisper of it some time ago, but it wint out o' my head. Biddy Nulty, faix--a nate clane girl she is, too."

"But that's not the best of it, Dandy. Sure, blood alive, I can tell you a sacret--may dipind? Honor bright! The Bodagh's daughter, man, is to give her a portion, in regard to her bein' so thrue to Connor O'Donovan. Bad luck to the oath she'd swear aginst him if they'd made a queen of her, but outdone the counsellors and lawyers, an' all the whole bobbery o' them, whin they wanted her to turn king's evidence. Now, it's not but I'd do anything to serve the purty Bodagh's daughter widout it; but you see, Dandy, if white-liver takes her off, I may stand a bad chance for the portion."

"Say no more; I'll go wid you; but how will you get in, Ned?"

"Never you mind that; here, take a pull out of this flask before you go any further. Blood an' flummery! what a night; divil a my finger I can see before me. Here--where's your hand?--that's it; warm your heart, my boy."

"You intind thin, Ned, to give Biddy the hard word about Flanagan?"

"Why, to bid her put them on their guard; sure there can be no harm in that."

"They say, Ned, it's not safe to trust a woman; what if you'd ax to see the Bodagh's son, the young soggarth?"

"I'd trust my life to Biddy--she that was so honest to the Donovans wouldn't be desateful to her sweetheart that--he--hem--she's far gone in consate wid--your sowl. Her brother Alick's to meet me at the Bodagh's on his way from their lodge, for they hould a meetin to-night too."

"Never say it again. I'll stick to you; so push an, for it's late. You'll be apt to make up the match before you part, I suppose."

"That won't be hard to do any time, Dandy."

Both then proceeded down the same field, which we have already said was called the Black Park, in consequence of its dark and mossy soil. Having, with some difficulty, found the stile at the lower end of it, they passed into a short car track, which they were barely able to follow.

The night, considering that it was the month of November, was close and foggy--such as frequently follows a calm day of incessant rain. The bottoms were plashing, the drams all full, and the small rivulets and streams about the country were above their hanks, whilst the larger rivers swept along with the hoarse continuous murmurs of an unusual flood. The sky was one sheet of blackness--for not a cloud could be seen, or anything, except the passing gleam of a cottage taper, lessened by the haziness of the night into a mere point of faint light, and thrown by the same cause into a distance which appeared to the eye much more remote than that of reality.

After having threaded their way for nearly a mile, the water spouting almost at every step up to their knees, they at length came to an old bridle--way, deeply shaded with hedges on each side. They had not spoken much since the close of their last dialogue; for, the truth is, each had enough to do, independently of dialogue, to keep himself out of drains and quagmires. An occasional "hanamondioul, I'm into the hinches;" "holy St. Peter, I'm stuck;" "tun--dher an' turf, where are you at all?" or, "by this an' by that, I dunno where I am," were the only words that passed between them, until they reached the little road we are speaking, of, which, in fact, was one unbroken rut, and on such a night almost impassable.

"Now," said M'Cormick, "we musn't keep this devil's gut, for conshumin' to the shoe or stockin' ever we'd bring out of it; however, do you folly me, Dandy, and there's no danger."

"I can do nothing else," replied the other, "for I know no more where I am than the man of the moon, who, if all's thrue that's sed of him, is the biggest blockhead alive."

M'Cormick, who knew the path well, turned off the road into a pathway that ran inside the hedge and along the fields, but parallel with the muddy boreen in question. They now found themselves upon comparatively clear ground, and, with the exception of an occasional slip or two, in consequence of the heavy rain, they had little difficulty in advancing. At this stage of their journey not a light was to be seen nor a sound of life heard, and it was evident that the whole population of the neighborhood had sunk to rest.

"Where will this bring us to, Ned?" asked the Dandy--"I hope we'll soon be at the Bodagh's."

M'Cormick stood and suddenly pressed his arm, "Whisht!" said he, in an under-tone, "I think I hard voices."

"No," replied the other in the same low tone.

"I'm sure I did," said Ned, "take my word for it, there's people before us on the boreen--whisht!"

They both listened, and very distinctly heard a confused but suppressed murmur of voices, apparently about a hundred yards before them on the little bridle--way. Without uttering a word they both proceeded as quietly and quickly as possible, and in a few minutes nothing separated them but the hedge. The party on the road were wallowing through the mire with great difficulty, many of them, at the same time, bestowing very energetic execrations upon it and upon those who suffered it to remain in such a condition. Even oaths, however, were uttered in so low and cautious a tone, that neither M'Cormick nor the Dandy could distinguish their voices so clearly as to recognize those who spoke, supposing that they had known them. Once or twice they heard the clashing of arms or of iron instruments of some sort, and it seemed to them that the noise was occasioned by the accidental jostling together of those who carried them. At length they heard one voice exclaim rather testily. "D--n your blood, Bartle Flanagan, will you have patience till I get my shoe out o' the mud--you don't expect me to lose it, do you? We're not goin' to get a purty wife, whatever you may be."

The reply to this was short, but pithy--"May all the divils in hell's fire pull the tongue out o' you, for nothin' but hell itself, you villin, timpted me to bring you with me."

This was not intended to be heard, nor was it by the person against whom it was uttered, he being some distance behind--but as Ned and his companion were at that moment exactly on the other side of the hedge, they could hear the words of this precious soliloquy--for such it was--delivered as they were with a suppressed energy of malignity, worthy of the heart which suggested them.

M'Cormick immediately pulled Duffy's coat, without speaking a word, as a hint to follow him with as little noise as possible, which he did, and ere many minutes they were so far in advance of the others, as to be enabled to converse without being heard. "Thar Bheah Duffy," said his companion, "there's not a minute to be lost."

"There is not," replied the other--"but what will you do with me? I'll lend a hand in any way I can--but remember that if we're seen, or if it's known that we go against them in this--"

"I know," said the other, "we're gone men; still we must manage it somehow, so as to save the girl; God! if it was only on Connor O'Donovan's account, that's far away this night, I'd do it. Dandy you wor only a boy when Blannarhasset prosecuted you, and people pitied you at the time, and now they don't think much the worse of you for it; an' you know it was proved since, that what you sed then was thrue, that other rogues made you do it, an' thin lift you in the lurch. But d--n it, where's the use of all this? give me your hand, it's life or death--can I thrust you?"

"You may," said the other, "you may, Ned; do whatever you wish with me."

"Then," continued Ned, "I'll go into the house, and do you keep near to them without bein' seen; watch their motions; but above all things, if they take her off--folly on till you see where they'll bring her; after that they can get back enough--the sogers, if they're a wantin'."

"Depind an me, Ned; to the core depind an me."

They had now reached the Bodagh's house, upon which, as upon every other object around them, the deep shadows of night rested heavily. The Dandy took up his position behind one of the porches of the gate that divided the little grass--plot before the hall--door and the farmyard, as being the most central spot, and from which he could with more ease hear, or as far as might be observe, the plan and nature of their proceedings.

It was at least fifteen minutes before they reached the little avenue that led up to the Bodagh's residence; for we ought to have told our readers, that M'Cormick and Duffy, having taken a short path, left the others--who, being ignorant of it, were forced to keep to the road--considerable behind them. Ned was consequently from ten to fifteen minutes in the house previous to their arrival. At length they approached silently, and with that creeping pace which betokens either fear or caution, as the case may be, and stood outside the gate which led to the grass-plot before the hall-door, not more than three or four yards from the porch of the farm-yard gate where the Dandy stood concealed. And here he had an opportunity of witnessing the extreme skill with which Flanagan conducted this nefarious exploit. After listening for about a minute, he found that their worthy leader was not present, but he almost immediately discovered that he was engaged in placing guards upon all the back windows of the dwelling-house and kitchen. During his absence the following short consultation took place among those whom he left behind him, for the purpose of taking a personal part in the enterprise:

"It was too thrue what Rousin Redhead said to-night," observed one of them, "he always takes care to throw the post of danger on some one else. Nowit's not that I'm afeared, but as he's to have the girl himself, it's but fair that his own neck should run the first danger, an' not mine."

They all assented to this.

"Well, then, boys," he proceeded, "if yez support me, well make him head this business himself. It's his own consarn, not ours; an' besides, as he houlds the Articles, it's his duty to lead us in everything. So I for wan, won't take away his girl, an' himself keepin' back. If there's any one here that'll take my place for his, let him now say so."

They were all silent as to that point; but most of them said, they wished, at all events, to give "the dirty Bodagh," for so they usually called him, something to remember them by, in consequence of his having, on all occasions, stood out against the system.

"Still it's fair," said several of them, "that in takin' away the colleen, Bartle should go foremost, as she's for himself an' 'not for huz."

"Well, then, you'll all agree to this?"

"We do, but whist--here he is."

Deeply mortified was their leader on finding that they had come unanimously to this determination. It was too late now, however, to reason with them, and the crime, to the perpetration of which he brought them, too dangerous in its consequences, to render a quarrel with them safe or prudent. He felt himself, therefore, in a position which, of all others, he did not wish. Still his address was too perfect to allow any symptoms of chagrin or disappointment to be perceptible in his voice or manner, although, the truth is, he cursed them in his heart at the moment, and vowed in some shape or other to visit their insubordination with vengeance.

Such, indeed, is the nature of these secret confederacies that are opposed to the laws of the land, and the spirit of religion. It matters little how open and apparently honest the conduct of such men may be among each other; there is, notwithstanding this, a distrust, a fear, a suspicion, lurking at every heart, that renders personal security unsafe, and life miserable. But how, indeed, can they repose confidence in each other, when they know that in consequence of their connection with such systems, many of the civil duties of life cannot be performed without perjury on the one hand, or risk of life on the other, and that the whole principle of the combination is founded upon hatred, revenge, and a violation of all moral obligation?

"Well, then," said their leader, "as your minds is made up, boys, follow me as quickly as you can, an' don't spake a word in your own voices."

They approached the hall-door, with the exception of six, who stood guarding the front windows of the dwelling-house and kitchen; and, to the Dandy's astonishment, the whole party, amounting to about eighteen, entered the house without either noise or obstruction of any kind.

"By Japurs," thought he to himself, "there's thraichery there, any how."

This now to the Dandy was a moment of intense interest. Though by no means a coward, or a young fellow of delicate nerves, yet his heart beat furiously against his ribs, and his whole frame shook with excitement. He would, in truth, much rather have been engaged in the outrage, than forced as he was, merely to look on without an opportunity of taking a part in it, one way or the other. Such, at least, were his own impressions, when the report of a gun was heard inside the house.

Dhar an Iffrin, thought he again, I'll bolt in an' see what's goin' an--oh ma shaght millia mattach orth, Flanagan, if you spill blood--Jasus above! Well, any how, come or go what may, we can hang him for this--glory be to God!

These reflections were very near breaking-forth into words.

"I don't like that," said one of the guards to another; "he may take the girl away, but it's not the thing to murdher any one belongin' to a dacent family, an' of our own religion."

"If it's only the Bodagh got it," replied his comrade, who was no other than Micky Malvathra, "blaizes to the hair I care. When my brother Barney, that suffered for Caam Beal (crooked mouth) Grime's business, was before his thrial, hell resave the taisther the same Bodagh would give to defind him."

"Damn it," rejoined the other, "but to murdher a man in his bed! Why, now, if it was only comin' home from a fair or market, but at midnight, an' in his bed, begorra it is not the thing, Mickey."

There was now a pause in the conversation for some minutes; at length, screams were heard, and the noise of men's feet, as if engaged in a scuffle upon the stairs, for the hall-door lay open. A light, too, was seen, but it appeared to have been blown out; the same noise of feet tramping, as if still in a tumult, approached the door, and almost immediately afterwards Flanagan's party approached, bearing in their arms a female, who panted and struggled as if she had been too weak to shriek or call for assistance. The hall-door was then pulled to and locked by those who were outside.

The Dandy could see, by the passing gleam of light which fell upon those who watched beside him, that their faces were blackened, and their clothes covered by a shirt, as was usual with the Whiteboys of old, and for the same object--that of preventing--themselves from being recognized by their apparel.

"So far so good," said Flanagan, who cared not now whether his voice was known or not; "the prize is mine, boys, an' how to bring ma colleen dhas dhun to a snug place, an' a friendly priest that I have to put the knot on us for life."

"By ---," thought Duffy, "I'll put a different kind of a knot on you for that, if I should swing myself for it."

They hurried onwards with as much speed as possible, bearing the fainting female in a seat formed by clasping their hands together. Duffy still stood in his place of concealment, waiting to let them get so far in advance as that he might dog them without danger of being heard. Just then a man cautiously approached, and in a whisper asked, "Is that Dandy?"

"It is--Saver above, Ned, how is this? all's lost!"

"No, no--I hope not--but go an' watch them; we'll folly as soon as we get help. My curse on Alick Nulty, he disappointed me an' didn't come; if he had, some of the Bodagh's sarvant boys would be up wid us in the kitchen, an' we could bate them back aisy; for Flanagan, as I tould you, is a dam-coward."

"Well, thin, I'll trace them," replied the other; "but you know that in sich darkness as this you haven't a minute to lose, otherwise you'll miss them."

"Go an; but afore you go listen, be the light of day, not that we have much of it now any way--by the vestment, Biddy Nulty's worth her weight in Bank of Ireland notes; now pelt and afther them; I'll tell you again."

Flanagan's party were necessarily forced to retrace their steps along the sludgy boreen we have mentioned, and we need scarcely say, that, in consequence of the charge with which they were encumbered, their progress was proportionally slow; to cross the fields on such a night was out of the question.

The first thing Flanagan did, when he found his prize safe, was to tie a handkerchief about her mouth that she might not scream, and to secure her hands together by the wrists. Indeed, the first of these precautions seemed to be scarcely necessary, for what with the terror occasioned by such unexpected and frightful violence, and the extreme delicacy of her health, it was evident that she could not utter even a shriek. Yet, did she, on the other hand, lapse into fits of such spasmodic violence as, wrought up as she was by the horror of her situation, called forth all her physical energies, and literally give her the strength of three women.

"Well, well," observed one of the fellows, who had assisted in holding her down during these wild fits, "you may talk of jinteel people, but be the piper o' Moses, that same sick daughter of the Bodagh's is the hardiest sprout I've laid my hands on this month o' Sundays."

"May be you'd make as hard a battle yourself," replied he to whom he spoke, "if you wor forced to a thing you hate as much as she hates Bartle."

"May be so," rejoined the other, with an incredulous shrug, that seemed to say he was by no means satisfied by the reasoning of his companion.

Bartle now addressed his charge with a hope of reconciling her, if possible, to the fate of becoming united to him.

"Don't be at all alarmed, Miss Oona, for indeed you may take my word for it, that I'll make as good and as lovin' a husband as ever had a purty wife. It's two or three years since I fell in consate wid you, an' I needn't tell you, darlin', how happy I'm now, that you're mine. I have two horses waitin' for us at the end of this vile road, an', plase Providence, we'll ride onwards a bit, to a friend's house o' mine, where I've a priest ready to tie the knot; an' to-morrow, if you're willin', we'll start for America; but if you don't like that, we'll live together till you'll be willin' enough, I hope, to go any where I wish. So take heart, darlin', take heart. As for the money I made free wid out o' your desk, it'll help to keep us comfortable; it was your own, you know, an' who has a betther right to be at the spendin' of it?"

This, which was meant for consolation, utterly failed, or rather aggravated the sufferings of the affrighted girl they bore, who once more struggled with a power that resembled the intense muscular strength of epilepsy, more than anything else. It literally required four of them to hold her down, so dreadfully spasmodic were her efforts to be free.

The delay caused by those occasional workings of terror, at a moment when Flanagan expected every sound to be the noise of pursuit, wrought up his own bad passions to a furious height. His own companions could actually hear him grinding his teeth with vexation and venom, whenever anything on her part occurred to retard their flight. All this, however, he kept to himself, owing to the singular command he possessed over his passions. Nay, he undertook, once more, the task of reconciling her to the agreeable prospect, as he termed it, that life presented her.

"We'll be as happy as the day's long," said he, "espichilly when heaven sends us a family; an' upon my troth a purty mother you'll make? suppose, darlin' love, you wondher how I got in to-night, but I tell you I've my wits about me; you don't know that it was I encouraged Biddy Nulty to go to live wid you, but I know what I was about then; Biddy it was that left the door open for me, an' that tould me the room you lay in, an' the place you keep your hard goold an' notes; I mintion these things to show you how I have you hemmed in, and that your wisest way is to submit without makin' a rout about it. You know that if you wor taken from me this minit, there 'ud be a stain upon your name that 'ud never lave it, an' it wouldn't be my business, you know, to clear up your character, but the conthrary. As for Biddy, the poor fool, I did all in my power to prevint her bein' fond o' me, but ever since we two lived with the ould miser, somehow she couldn't."

For some time before he had proceeded thus far, there was felt, by those who carried their fair charge, a slight working of her whole body, especially of the arms, and in a moment Flanagan, who walked a little in advance of her, with his head bent down, that he might not be put to the necessity of speaking loud, suddenly received, right upon his nose, such an incredible facer as made the blood spin a yard out of it.

"May all the curses of heaven an' hell blast you, for a cowardly, thraicherous, parjured stag! Why, you black-hearted informer, see now what you've made by your cunnin'. Well, we hope you'll keep your word--won't I make a purty mother, an' won't we be happy as the day's long, espichilly when Heaven sends us a family? Why, you rap of hell, aren't you a laughing-stock this minute? An' to go to take my name too--an' to leave the guilt of some other body's thraichery on me, that you knew in your burnin' sowl to be innocent--me, a poor girl that has only my name an' good character to carry me through the world. Oh, you mane-sphirted, revengeful dog, for you're not a man, or you'd not go to take sich revenge upon a woman, an' all for sayin' an' puttin' it out on you, what I ever an' always will do, that struv to hang Connor O'Donovan, knowin' that it was yourself did the crime the poor boy is now sufferin' for. Ha! may the sweetest an' bitterest of bad luck both meet upon you, you villin! Amin I pray this night!"

The scene that followed this discovery, and the unexpected act which produced it, could not, we think, be properly described by either pen or pencil. Flanagan stood with his hands alternately kept to his nose, from which he flung away the blood, as it sprung out in a most copious stream. Two-thirds, indeed we might say three-fourths of his party, were convulsed with suppressed laughter, nor could they prevent an occasional cackle from being heard, when forcibly drawing in their breath, in an effort not to offend their leader. The discovery of the mistake was, in itself, extremely ludicrous, but when the home truths uttered by Biddy, and the indescribable bitterness'caused by the disappointment, joined to the home blow, were all put together, it might be said that the darkness of hell itself was not so black as the rage, hatred, and thirst of vengeance, which at this moment consumed Bartle Flanagan's heart. He who had laid his plans so artfully that he thought failure in securing his prize impossible, now not only to feel that he was baffled by the superior cunning of a girl, and made the laughing-stock of his own party, who valued him principally upon his ability in such matters; but, in addition to this, to have his heart and feelings torn, as it were, out of his body, and flung down before him and his confreres in all their monstrous deformity, and to be jeered at, moreover, and despised, and literally cuffed by the female who outreached him--this was too much; all the worst passions within him were fired, and he swore in his own heart a deep and blasphemous oath, that Biddy Nulty never should part from him unless as a degraded girl.

The incident that we have just related happened so quickly that Flanagan' had not time to reply a single word, and Biddy followed up her imprecation by a powerful effort to release herself.

"Let me home this minnit, you villin," she continued; "now that you find yourself on the wrong scent--boys, don't hould me, nor back that ruffin in his villany."

"Hould her like hell," said Bartle, "an' tie her up wanst more; we'll gag you, too, my lady--ay, will we. Take away your name--I'll take care you'll carry shame upon your face from this night to the hour of your death. Characther indeed!--ho, by the crass I'll lave you that little of that will go far wid you."

"May be not," replied Biddy; "the same God that disappointed you in hangin' Connor O'Donovan--"

"Damn you," said he, "take that;" and as he spoke he struck the poor girl a heavy blow in the cheek, which cut her deeply, and for a short time rendered her speechless.

"Bartle," said more than one of them, "that's unmanly, an' it's conthrary to the regulations.'

"To perdition wid the regulations! Hasn't the vagabone drawn a pint of blood from my nose already?--look at that!" he exclaimed, throwing away a handful of the warm gore "hell seize her! look at that--Ho be the--" He made another onset at the yet unconscious girl as he spoke, and would have still inflicted further punishment upon her, were it not that he was prevented.

"Stop," said several of them, "if you wor over us fifty times you won't lay another finger on her; that's wanst for all, so be quiet."

"Are yez threatenin' me?" he asked, furiously, but in an instant he changed his tone--"Boys dear," continued the wily but unmanly villain--"boys dear, can you blame me? disappointed as I am by this--by this--ha anhien na sthreepa--I'll----" but again he checked himself, and at length burst out into a bitter fit of weeping. "Look at' this," he proceeded, throwing away another handful of blood, "I've lost a quart of it by her."

"Be the hand af my body," said one of them in a whisper, "he's like every coward, it's at his own blood he's cryin'; be the vartue of my oath, that man's not the thing to depind on."

"Is she tied an' gagged?" he then inquired.

"She is," replied those who tied her. "It was very asy done, Bartle, afther the blow you hot her."

"It wasn't altogether out of ill--will I hot her aither," he replied, "although, boys dear, you know how she vexed me, but you see, the thruth is, she'd a' given us a great dale o' throuble in gettin' her quiet."

"An' you tuck the right way to do that," they replied ironically; and they added, "Bartle Flanagan, you may thank the oaths we tuck, or be the crass, a single man of us wouldn't assist you in this consarn, afther your cowardly behaver to this poor girl. Takin' away the Bodagh's daughter was another thing; you had betther let the girl go home."

Biddy had now recovered, and heard this suggestion with joy, for the poor girl began to entertain serious apprehensions of Flanagan's revenge and violence, if left alone with him; she could not speak, however, and those who bore her, quickened their pace at his desire, as much as they could.

"No," said Bartle, artfully, "I'll keep her prisoner anyhow for this night. I had once a notion of marryin' her--an' may be--as I am disappointed in the other--but we'll think of it. Now we're at the horses and we'll get an faster."

This was indeed true.

After the journey we have just described, they at length got out of the boreen, where, in the corner of a field, a little to the right, two horses, each saddled, were tied to the branch of a tree. They now made a slight delay until their charge should be got mounted, and were collected in a group on the road, when a voice called out, "Who goes there?"

"A friend to the guard."

"Good morrow!"

"Good morrow mornin' to you!"

"What Age are you in?"

"The end of the fifth."

"All right," said Bartle, aloud; "now, boys," he whispered to his own party, "we must tell them good-humoredly to pass on--that this is a runaway--jist a girl we're bringin' aff wid us, an' to hould a hard cheek (*To keep it secret) about it. You know we'd do as much for them."

Both parties now met, the strangers consisting of about twenty men.

"Well, boys," said the latter, "what's the fun?"

"Devil a thing but a girl we're helpin' a boy to take away. What's your own sport?"

"Begorra, we wor in luck to-night; we got as party a double-barrelled gun as ever you seen, an' a case of murdherin' fine--pistols."

"Success, ould heart! that's right; we'll be able to stand a tug whin the 'Day' comes."

"Which of you is takin' away the girl, boys?" inquired one of the strangers.

"Begad, Bartle Flanagan, since there's no use in hidin' it, when we're all as we ought to be."

"Bartle Flanagan!" said a voice--"Bartle Flanagan, is it? An' who's the girl?"

"Blur an' agres, Alick Nulty, don't be too curious, she comes from Bodagh Buie's."

Biddy, on hearing the voice of her brother, made another violent effort, and succeeded in partially working the gag out of her mouth--she screamed faintly, and struggled with such energy that her hands again became loose, and in an instant the gag was wholly I removed.

"Oh Alick, Alick, for the love o' God save me from Flanagan! it's me, your sisther Biddy, that's in it; save me, Alick, or I'll be lost; he has cut me to the bone wid a blow, an' the blood's pourin' from me."

Her brother flew to her. "Whisht, Biddy, don't be afeard!" he exclaimed.

"Boys," said he, "let my party stand by me; this is the way Bartle Flanagan keeps his oath!" (* One of the clauses of the Ribbon oath was, not to injure or maltreat the wife or sister of a brother Ribbonman.)

"Secure Bartle," said Biddy. "He robbed Bodagh Buie's house, an' has the money about him."

The horses were already on the road, but, in consequence of both parties filling up the passage in the direction which Bartle and nis followers intended taking, the animals could not be brought through them without delay and trouble, even had there been no resistance offered to their progress.

"A robber too!" exclaimed Nulty, "that's more of his parjury to'ards uz. Bartle Flanagan, you're a thraitor, and you'll get a thraitor's death afore you're much oulder. He's not fit to be among us," added Alick, addressing himself to both parties, "an' the truth is, if we don't hang or settle him, he'll some day hang us."

"Bartle's no thraitor," said Mulvather, "but he's a thraitor that says he is."

The coming reply was interrupted by "Boys, good night to yez;" and immediately the clatter of a horse's feet was heard stumbling and floundering back along the deep stony boreen. "Be the vestment he's aff," said one of his party; "the cowardly villin's aff wid himself the minit he seen the approach of danger."

"Sure enough, the bad dhrop's in him," exclaimed several on both sides. "But what the h--l does he mane now, I dunna?"

"It'll be only a good joke to-morrow wid him," observed one of them--"but, boys, we must think how to manage him; I can't forgive him for the cowardly blow he hot the poor colleen here, an' for the same rason I didn't dhraw the knot so tight upon her as I could a' done."

"Was it you that nipped my arm?" asked Biddy.

"Faix, you may say that, an' it was to let you know that, let him say as he would, after what we seen of him to-night, we wouldn't allow him to thrate you badly without marryin' you first."

The night having been now pretty far advanced, the two parties separated in order to go to their respective homes--Alick taking Biddy under his protection to her master's. As the way of many belonging to each lodge lay in the same direction, they were accompanied, of course, to the turn that led up to the Bodagh's house. Biddy, notwithstanding the severe blow she had got, related the night's adventure with much humor, dwelling upon her own part in the transaction with singular glee.

"There's some thraicherous villin in the Bodagh's," said she, "be it man or woman; for what 'id you think but the hall-door was left lying to only--neither locked nor boulted. But, indeed, anyhow, it's the start was taken out o' me whin Ned M'Cormick--that you wor to meet in our kitchen, Alick--throth, I won't let Kitty Lowry wait up for you so long another time." She added this to throw the onus of the assignation off her own shoulders, and to lay it upon those of Alick and Kitty. "But, anyhow, I had just time to throw her clothes upon me and get into her bed. Be me sowl, but I acted the fright an' sickness in style. I wasn't able to spake a word, you persave, till we got far enough from the house to give Miss Oona time to hide herself. Oh, thin, the robbin' villin how he put the muzzle of his gun to the lock of Miss Oona's desk, when he couldn't get the key, an' blewn it to pieces, an' thin he took every fardin' he could lay his hands upon."

She then detailed her own feelings during the abduction, in terms so ludicrously abusive of Flanagan, that those who accompanied her were exceedingly amused; for what she said was strongly provocative of mirth, yet the chief cause of laughter lay in the vehement sincerity with which she spoke, and in the utter unconsciousness of uttering anything that was calculated to excite a smile. There is, however, a class of such persons, whose power of provoking laughter consists in the utter absence of humor. Those I speak of never laugh either at what they say themselves, or what any one else may say; but they drive on right ahead with an inverted originality that is perfectly irresistible.

We must now beg the reader to accompany them to the Bodagh's, where a scene awaited them for which they were scarcely prepared. On approaching the house they could perceive, by the light glittering from the window chinks, that the family were in a state of alarm; but at this they were not surprised; for such a commotion in the house, after what had occurred, was but natural. They went directly to the kitchen door and rapped.

"Who is there?" said a voice within.

"It's Biddy; for the love o' God make haste, Kitty, an' open."

"What Biddy are you? I won't open."

"Biddy Nulty. You know me well enough, Kitty; so make haste an' open, Alick, mark my words," said she in a low voice to her brother, "Kitty's the very one that practised the desate this night--that left the hall-door open. Make haste, Kitty, I say."

"I'll do no such thing indeed," replied the other; "it was you left the hall-door open to-night, an' I heard you spakin' to fellows outside. I have too much regard for my masther's house an' family to let you or any one else in to-night. Come in the mornin'."

"Folly me, Alick," said Biddy, "folly me."

She went immediately to the hall-door, and gave such a single rap with the knocker, as brought more than Kitty to the door.

"Who's there?" inquired a voice, which she and her brother at once knew to be Ned M'Cormick's.

"Ned, for the love o' God, let me an' Alick in!" she replied; "we got away from that netarnal villin."

Instantly the door was opened, and the first thing Ned did was to put his arms about Biddy's neck, and--we were going to say kiss her.

"Saints above!" said he, "what's this?" on seeing that her face was dreadfully disfigured with blood.

"Nothin' to signify," she replied; "but thanks be to God, we got clane away from the villin, or be the Padheren Partha, the villin it was that got clane away from hus. How is Miss Oona?"

"She went over to a neighbor's house for safety," replied Ned, smiling, "an' will be back in a few minutes; but who do you think, above all men in the five quarters o' the earth, we have got widin? Guess now."

"Who?" said Biddy; "why, I dunna, save--but no, it couldn't."

"Faix but it could, though," said Ned, mistaking her, as the matter turned out.

"Why, vick na hoiah, no! Connor O'Donovan back! Oh! no, no, Ned; that 'ud be too good news to be thrue."

The honest lad shook his head with an expression of regret that could not be mistaken as the exponent of a sterling heart. And yet, that the reader may perceive how near akin that one circumstance was to the other in his mind, we have only to say, that whilst the regret for Connor was deeply engraven on his features, yet the expression of triumph was as clearly legible as if his name had not been at all mentioned.

"Who, then, Ned?" said Alick. "Who the dickens is it?"

"Why, divil resave the other than Bartle Flanagan himself--secured--and the constables sent for--an' plaze the Saver he'll be in the stone jug afore his head gets gray any how, the black-hearted villin!"

It was even so; and the circumstances accounting for it are very simple. Flanagan, having mounted one of the horses, made the best of his way from what he apprehended was likely to become a scene of deadly strife. Such was the nature of the road, however, that anything like a rapid pace was out of the question. When he had got over about half the boreen he was accosted in the significant terms of the Ribbon password of that day.

"Good morrow!"

"Good morrow mornin' to you!"

"Arrah what Age may you be, neighbor?"

Now the correct words were, "What Age are we in?" (* This order or throng of the Ages is taken from Pastorini) but they were often slightly changed, sometimes through ignorance and sometimes from design, as in the latter case less liable to remark when addressed to persons not up.

"In the end of the Fifth," was the reply.

"An' if you wor shakin' hands wid a friend, how would you do it? Or stay--all's right so far--but give us a grip of your cham ahas (right hand)."

Flanagan, who apprehended pursuit, was too cautious to trust himself within reach of any one coming from the direction in which the Bodagh lived. He made no reply, therefore, to this, but urged his horse forward, and attempted to get clear of his catechist.

"Dhar Dhegh! it's Flanagan," said a voice which was that of Alick Nulty; and the next moment the equestrian was stretched in the mud, by a heavy blow from the but of a carbine. Nearly a score of men were immediately about him; for the party he met on his return were the Bodagh's son, his servants, and such of the cottiers as lived near enough to be called up to the rescue. On finding himself secured, he lost all presence of mind, and almost all consciousness of his situation.

"I'm gone," said he; "I'm a lost man; all Europe can't save my life. Don't kill me, boys; don't kill me; I'll go wid yez quietly--only, if I am to die, let me die by the laws of the land."

"The laws of the land?" said John O'Brien; "oh, little, Bartle Flanagan, you respected them. You needn' be alarmed now--you are safe here--to the laws of the land we will leave you; and by them you must stand or fall."

Bartle Flanagan, we need scarcely say, was well guarded until a posse of constables should arrive to take him into custody. But, in the mean time, a large and increasing party sat up in the house of the worthy Bodagh; for the neighbors had been alarmed, and came flocking to his aid. 'Tis true, the danger was now over; but the kind Bodagh, thankful in his heart to the Almighty for the escape of his daughter, would not let them go without first partaking of his hospitality. His wife, too, for the same reason, was in a flutter of delight; and as her heart was as Irish as her husband's, and consequently as hospitable, so did she stir about, and work, and order right and left until abundant refreshments were smoking on the table. Nor was the gentle and melancholy Una herself, now that the snake was at all events scotched, averse to show herself among them--for so they would have it. Biddy Nulty had washed her face; and, notwithstanding the poultice of stirabout which her mistress with her own hands applied to her wound, she really was the most interesting person present, in consequence of her heroism during the recent outrage. After a glass of punch had gone round, she waxed inveterately eloquent, indeed, so much so that the mourner, the colleen dhas dhun, herself was more than once forced to smile, and in some instances fairly to laugh at the odd grotesque spirit of her descriptions.

"The rascal was quick!" said the Bodagh, "but upon my credit, Biddy, you wor a pop afore him for all that. Divil a thing I, or John, or the others, could do wid only one gun an' a case o' pistols against so many--still we would have fought life or death for poor Una anyhow. But Biddy, here, good girl, by her cleverness and invention saved us the danger, an' maybe was the manes of savin' some of our lives or theirs. God knows I'd have no relish to be shot myself," said the pacific Bodagh, "nor would I ever have a day or night's pace if I had the blood of a fellow-crathur on my sowl--upon my sowl I wouldn't."

"But, blood alive, masther, what could I 'a' done only for Ned M'Cormick, that gave us the hard word?" said Biddy, anxious to transfer the merit of the transaction to her lover.

"Well, well, Bid," replied the Bodagh, "maybe neither Ned nor yourself will be a loser by it. If you're bent on layin' your heads together we'll find you a weddin' present, anyway."

"Bedad, sir, I'm puzzled to know how they got in so aisy," said Ned.

"That matter remains to be cleared up yet," said John. "There is certainly treachery in the camp somewhere."

"I am cock sure the hall--door was not latched," said Duffy; "for they had neither stop nor stay at it."

"There is a villing among us sartainly," observed Mrs. O'Brien; "for as heaving is above me, I locked it wid my own two hands this blessed night."

"I thought it might be wid the kay, Bridget," said the Bodagh, laughing at his own easy joke; "for you see, doors is ginerally locked wid kays--ha! ha! ha!"

"Faix, but had Oona been tuck away tonight wid that vag o' the world, it's not laughin' you'd be."

"God, He sees, that's only thruth, too, Bridget," he replied; "but still there's some rogue about the place that opened the door for the villins."

"Dar ma chuirp, I'll hould goold I put the saddle on the right horse in no time," said Biddy. "Misthress, will you call Kitty Lowry, ma'am, i' you plase? Ill do everything above boord; no behind backs for me; blazes to the one alive hates foul play more nor I do."

We ought to have observed that one of Biddy's peculiarities was a more than usual readiness at letting fly, and not unfrequently at giving an oath; and as her character presented a strange compound of simplicity and cleverness, honesty and adroitness, her master and mistress, and fellow-servants, were frequently amused by this unfeminine propensity. For instance, if Una happened to ask her, "Biddy, did you iron the linen?" her usual reply was, "No, blast the iron, miss, I hadn't time." Of course the family did everything in their power to discourage such a practice; but on this point they found it impossible to reform her. Kitty Lowry's countenance, when she appeared, certainly presented strong indications of guilt; but still there was a hardness of outline about it which gave promise at the same time of the most intrepid assurance. Biddy, on the. other hand, was brimful of consequence, and a sense of authority, on finding that the judicial power was on this occasion entrusted chiefly to her hands. She rose up when Kitty entered, and stuck a pair of red formidable fists with great energy into her sides.

"Pray ma'am," said she, "what's the raisin' you refused to let me in to-night, afther gettin' away wid my life from that netarnal blackguard, Bartle Flanagan--what's the raisin I say, ma'am, that you kep' me out afther you knewn who was in it?"

There was here visible a slight vibration of the head, rather gentle at the beginning, but clearly prophetic of ultimate energy, and an unequivocal determination to enforce whatever she might say with suitable action even in its widest sense.

"An' pray, ma'am," said the other, for however paradoxical it may appear, it is an established case that in all such displays between women, politeness usually keeps pace with scurrility; "An' pray, ma'am," replied Kitty, "is it to the likes o' you we're to say our catechize?"

Biddy was resolved not to be outdone in politeness, and replied--

"Af you plaise, ma'am," with a courtesy.

"Lord protect us! what will we hear next, I wondher? Well, ma'am?" Here her antagonist stood, evidently waiting for the onset.

"You'll hear more than'll go down your back pleasant afore I've done wid you, ma'am."

"Don't be makin' us long for it in the mane time, Miss Biddy."

"You didn't answer my question, Miss Kitty. Why did you refuse to let me in tonight?"

"For good raisons--bekase I--hard you cologgin' an' whisperin' wid a pack of fellows without."

"An' have you the brass to say so, knowin' that it's false an' a lie into the bargain?" (Head energetically shaken.)

"Have I the brass, is it? I keep my brass in my pocket, ma'am, not in my face, like some of our friends." (Head shaken in reply to the action displayed by Kitty.)

This was a sharp retort; but it was very well returned.

"Thank you, ma'am," replied Biddy, "if it's faces you're spakin' about, I know you're able to outface me any day; but whatever's in my face there's no desate in my heart, Miss Lowry. Put that in your pocket." (One triumphant shake of the head at the conclusion.)

"There's as much in your heart as'll shame your face, yet, Miss Nulty. Put that in yours." (Another triumphant shake of the head.)

"Thank God," retorted Biddy, "none o' my friends ever knewn what a shamed face is. I say, madam, none o' my family iver wore a shamed face. Thiguthu shin? " (Do you understand that? )

This, indeed, was a bitter hit; for the reader must know that a sister of Lowry's had not passed through the world without the breath of slander tarnishing her fair fame.

"Oh, it's well known your tongue's no slander, Biddy."

"Thin that's more than can be said of yours, Kitty."

"If my sisther met with a misfortune, it was many a betther woman's case than ever you'll be. Don't shout till you get out of the wood, ma'am. You dunna what's afore yourself. Any how, it's not be lettin' fellows into the masther's kitchen whiff the family's in bed, an' dhrinkin' whiskey wid them, that'll get you through the world wid your character safe. * * * An' you're nothin' but a barge, or you'd not dhraw down my sisther's name that never did you an ill turn, whatever she did to herself, poor girl!"

"An' do you dar' for to call me a barge? * * * * Blast your insurance! be this an' be that, for a farden I'd malivogue the devil out o' you."

"We're not puttin' it past you, madam, you're blaggard enough to fight like a man; but we're not goin' to make a blaggard an' a bully of ourselves, in the mane time."

[The conversation, of which we are giving a very imperfect report, was garnished by both ladies with sundry vituperative epithets, which it would be inconsistent with the dignity of our history to record.]

"That's bekase you haven't the blood of a hen in you * * * sure we know what you are! But howld! be me sowl, you're doin' me for all that. Ah, ha! I see where you're ladin' me; but it won't do, Miss Kitty Lowry. I'll bring you back to the catechize agin. You'd light the straw to get away in the smoke; but you're worth two gone people yet, dhough."

"Worth half a dozen o' you, any day."

"Well, as we're both to the fore, we'll soon see that. How did you know, my lady, that the masther's hall door was left open to-night? Answer me that, on the nail!"

This was what might be very properly called a knock-down blow; for if the reader but reflects a moment he will see that Kitty, on taxing her antagonist, after her rescue, with leaving it open, directly betrayed herself, as there was and could have been no one in the house cognizant of the fact at the time unless the guilty person. With this latter exception, Alick Nulty was the, only individual aware of it, and from whom the knowledge of it could come. Kitty, therefore, by her over-anxiety to exculpate herself from a charge which had not been made, became the unconscious instrument I of disclosing the fact of her having left the door open.

This trying query, coming upon her unexpectedly as it did, threw her into palpable confusion. Her face became at once suffused with a deep scarlet hue, occasioned by mingled shame and resentment, as was at once evident from the malignant and fiery glare which she turned upon her querist.

"Get out," she replied; "do you think I'd think it worth my while to answer the likes o' you? I'd see you farther than I could look first. You, indeed! faugh! musha bad luck to your impidence!"

"Oh, i' you plaise, ma'am," said Biddy, dropping a courtesy, that might well be termed the very pink of politeness--"we hope you'll show yourself a betther Christin than to be ignorant o' your catechize. So. ma'am, if it 'ud be plaisin' to you afore the company maybe you'd answer it."

"Who made you my misthress, you blaggard flipe? who gave you authority to ax me sich a question?" replied the other. "A fellow-servant like myself! to the devil I pitch you. You, indeed! Faix, it's well come up wid the likes o' you to ballyrag over me."

"Well, but ma'am dear, will you answer--that is, i' you plaise, for sure we can't forget our manners, you know--will you jist answer what I axed you? Oh, be me cowl, your face condimns you, my lady!" said Biddy, abruptly changing her tone; "it does, you yolla Mullatty, it does. You bethrayed the masther's house, an' Miss Oona, too, you villin o' blazes! If you could see your face now--your guilty face!"

The spirit of her antagonist, being that of a woman, could bear no more. The last words were scarcely uttered, when Lowry made a spring like a tigress at her opponent, who, however, received this onset with a skill and intrepidity worthy of Penthesilea herself. They were immediately separated, but not until they had twisted and twined about one another two or three times, after which, each displayed, by way of a trophy, a copious handful of hair that had changed proprietor-ship during their brief but energetic conflict.

In addition to this, there were visible on Kitty's face five small streams of liquid gore, which, no doubt, would have been found to correspond with the red expanded talons of her antagonist.

John O'Brien then put the question seriously to Lowry, who, now that her blood was up, or probably feeling that she had betrayed herself, declined to answer it at all.

"I'll answer nothin' I don't like," she replied, "an' I'll not be ballyraged by any one--not even by you, Misther John; an' what's more, I'll lave the sarvice at the shriek o' day to-morrow. I wouldn't live in the house wid that one; my life 'udn't be safe undher the wan roof wid her."

"Thin you'll get no carrecther from any one here," said Mrs. O'Brien; "for, indeed, any way, there was never a minute's peace in the kitchen since you came into it."

"Divil cares," she replied, with a toss of her head; "if I don't, I must only live widout it, and will, I hope."

She then flounced out of the room, and kept grumbling in an insolent tone of voice, until she got to her bed. Alick Nulty then detailed all the circumstances he had witnessed, by which it appeared unquestionable that Kitty Lowry had been aware of Flanagan's design, and was consequently one of his accomplices. This in one sense was true, whilst in another and the worst they did her injustice. It is true that Bartle Flanagan pretended affection for her, and contrived on many occasions within the preceding five months, that several secret meetings should take place between them, and almost always upon a Sunday, which was the only day she had any opportunity of seeing him. He had no notion, however, of entrusting her with his secret. In fact, no man could possibly lay his plans with deeper design or more ingenious precaution for his own safety than Flanagan. Having gained a promise from the credulous girl to elope with him on the night in question, he easily induced her to leave the hall door open. His exploit, however, having turned out so different in its issue from that which Kitty expected, she felt both chagrined and confounded, and knew not at first whether to ascribe the abduction of Biddy Nulty to mistake or design; for, indeed, she was not ignorant of Flanagan's treacherous conduct to the sex--no female having ever repulsed him, whose character he did not injure whenever he could do so with safety. Biddy's return, however, satisfied her that Bartle must have made a blunder of some kind, or he would not have taken away her fellow-servant instead of herself; and it was the bitterness which weak minds always feel when their own wishes happen to be disappointed, that prompted her resentment against poor Biddy, who was unconsciously its object. Flanagan's primary intention was still, however, in some degree, effected, so far as it regarded the abduction. The short space of an hour gave him time to cool and collect himself sufficiently to form the best mode of action under the circumstances. He resolved, therefore, to plead mistake, and to produce Kitty Lowry to prove that his visit that night to the Bodagh's house was merely to fulfil their mutual promise of eloping together.

But there was the robbery staring him in the face; and how was he to manage that? This, indeed, was the point on which the accomplished villain felt by the sinking of his heart that he had overshot his mark. When he looked closely into it, his whole frame became cold and feeble from despair, the hard paleness of mental suffering settled upon his face, and his brain was stunned by a stupor which almost destroyed the power of thinking.

All this, however, availed him not. Before twelve o'clock the next day informations had been sworn against him, and at the hour of three he found himself in the very room which had been assigned to Connor O'Donovan, sinking under the double charge of abduction and robbery.

And now once more did the mutability of public feeling and opinion as usual become apparent. No sooner had fame spread abroad the report of Flanagan's two-fold crime, and his imprisonment, than those very people who had only a day or two before inferred that Connor O'Donovan was guilty, because his accuser's conduct continued correct and blameless, now changed their tone, and insisted that the hand of God was visible in Flanagan's punishment. Again were all the dark traits of his character dragged forward and exposed; and this man reminded that man, as that man did some other man, that he had said more than once that Bartle Flanagan would be hanged for swearing away an innocent young man's life. Such, however, without reference to truth or justice, is public opinion among a great body of the people, who are swayed by their feelings only, instead of their judgment. The lower public will, as a matter of course, feel at random upon everything, and like a fortuneteller, it will for that reason, and for that only, sometimes be found on the right side. From the time which elapsed between the period of Bartle's imprisonment and that of his trial, many strange circumstances occurred in connection with it, of which the public at large were completely ignorant. Bartle was now at the mercy of a man who had been long looked upon with a spirit of detestation and vengeance by those illegal confederations with which he had uniformly declined to associate himself. Flanagan's party, therefore, had now only two methods of serving him, one was intimidation, and the other a general subscription among the various lodges of the district, to raise funds for his defence. To both of these means they were resolved to have recourse.

Many private meetings they held among themselves upon those important matters, at which Dandy Duff and Ned M'Cormick attended, as was their duty; and well was it for them the part they took in defeating Bartle Flanagan, and serving the Bodagh and his family, was unknown to their confederates. To detail the proceedings of their meetings, and recount the savage and vindictive ferocity of such men, would be pacing the taste and humanity of our readers a bad compliment. It is enough to say that a fund was raised for Flanagan's defence, and a threatening notice written to be pasted on the Bodagh Buie's door--of which elegant production the following is a literal copy:--

"Buddha Bee--You 'ave wan iv our boys in for abjection an' rubbry--an' it seems is resolved to parsequte the poor boy at the nuxt 'Shizers--now dhis is be way av a dalikit hint to yew an' yoos that aff butt wan spudh av his blud is spiled in quensequence av yewr parsequtin' im as the winther's comin' on an' the wether gettin' cowld an' the long nights settin' in yew may as well prapare yewr caughin an' not that same remimber you've a praty dother an may no more about her afore you much shoulder.

"Simon Pettier Staeught."

This and several others of the same class were served upon the Bodagh, with the intention of intimidating him from the prosecution of Flanagan. They had, however, quite mistaken their man. The Bodagh, though peaceable and placable, had not one atom of the coward in his whole composition. On the contrary, he was not only resolute in resisting what he conceived to be oppressive or unjust, but he was also immovably obstinate in anything wherein he fancied he had right on his side. And even had his disposition been inclined to timidity or pliancy, his son John would have used all his influence to induce him to resist a system which is equally opposed to the laws of God and of man, as well as to the temporal happiness of those who are slaves to the terrible power which, like a familiar devil, it exercises over its victims under the hollow promise of protection. _

Read next: Part 8. And Last

Read previous: Part 6

Table of content of Fardorougha, The Miser


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book