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 8. And Last

< Previous
Table of content

As the Bodagh and his son took the usual legal steps to forward the prosecution, it was but natural that they should calculate upon the evidence of Dandy Duffy, Ned M'Cormick, and Alick Nulty. John O'Brien accordingly informed them, on the very night of the outrage, that his father and himself would consider them as strong evidence against Bartle Flanagan, and call upon them as such. This information placed these young men in a position of incredible difficulty and danger. They knew not exactly at that moment how to proceed consistently with the duty which they owed to society at large, and that which was expected from them by the dark combination to which they were united. M'Cormick, however, begged of John O'Brien not to mention their names until the day after the next, and told him if he could understand their reason for this request, he would not hesitate to comply with it.

O'Brien, who suspected the true cause of their reluctance, did not on this occasion press them further, but consented to their wishes, and promised, not to mention their names, even as indirectly connected with the outrage, until the time they had specified had elapsed.

In the course of the following day Nogher M'Cormick presented himself to the Bodagh and his son, neither of whom felt much difficulty in divining the cause of his visit.

"Well," said Nogher, after the first usual civilities had passed, "glory be to God, gintlemen, this is desperate fine weather for the season--barrin' the wet"

John smiled, but the plain matter-of-fact Bodagh replied,

"Why, how the devil can you call this good weather, neighbor, when it's raining for the last week, night and day?"

"I do call it good weather for all that," returned Nogher, "for you ought to know that every weather's good that God sends."

"Well," said the Bodagh, taken aback a little by the Nogher's piety, "there's truth in that, too, neighbor."

"I am right," said Nogher, "an' it's nothin' else than a sinful world to say that this is bad weather, or that's bad weather--bekase the Scriptur says, 'wo be to thee----'"

"But, pray," interrupted John, "what's your business with my father and me?"

Nogher rubbed down his chin very gravely and significantly,

"Why," said he, "somethin' for your own good, gentlemen."

"Well, what is that?" said John, anxious to bring him to the point as soon as possible.

"The truth, gentlemen, is this--I'm an ould man, an' I hope that I never was found to be anything else than an honest one. They're far away this day that could give me a good carrechtur--two o' them anyhow I'll never forget--Connor an' his mother; but I'll never see them agin; an' the ould man too, I never could hate him, in regard of the love he bore his son. Long, long was the journey he tuck to see that son, an', as he tould me the day he whint into the ship, to die in his boy's arms; for he said heaven wouldn't be heaven to him, if he died anywhere else."

Nogher's eyes filled as he spoke, and we need scarcely say that neither the Bodagh nor his son esteemed him the less for his attachment to Connor O'Donovan and his family.

"The sooner I end the business I come about to-day," said he, "the better. You want my son Ned, Dandy Duffy, an' Alick Nulty, to join in givin' evidence against blaggard Bartle Flanagan. Now the truth is, gintlemen, you don't know the state o' the country. If they come into a court of justice against him, their lives won't be worth a traneen. Its aginst their oath, I'm tould, as Ribbonmen, to prosecute one another; an' from hints I resaved, I'm afraid they can't do it, as I said, barrin' at the risk o' their lives."

"Father," said John, "as far as I have heard, he speaks nothing but truth."

"I believe he does not," rejoined the Bodagh, "an', by my sowl, I'll be bound he's an honest man--upon my credit, I think you are, M'Cormick."

"I'm thankful to you, sir," said Nogher.

"I'm inclined to think further," said John, "that we have proof enough against Flanagan without them."

"Thin, if you think so, John, God forbid that we'd be the manes of bringin' the young men into throuble. All I'm sorry for is, that they allowed themselves to be hooked into sich a dark and murdherous piece of villainy."

"I know, sir, it's a bad business," said Nogher, "but it can't be helped now; no man's safe that won't join it."

"Faith, and I won't for one," replied the Bodagh, "not but that they sent many a threat to me. Anything against the laws o' the counthry is bad, and never ends but in harm to them that's consamed in it."

"M'Cormick," added the son, "villain as Flanagan is, we shall let him once more loose upon society, sooner than bring the lives of your son, and the two other young men into jeopardy. Such, unhappily, is the state of the country, and we must submit to it."

"I thank you, sir," said Nogher. "The truth is, they're sworn, it seems, not to prosecute one another, let whatever may happen; an' any one of them that breaks that oath--God knows I wish they'd think of others as much as they do of it--barrin' a stag that's taken up, an' kep safe by the Government, is sure to be knocked on the head."

"Say no more, M'Cormick," said the Bodagh's inestimable son, "say no more. No matter how this may terminate, we shall not call upon them as evidences. It must be so, father," he added, "and God help the country in which the law is a dead letter, and the passions and bigoted prejudices of disaffected or seditious men the active principle which impresses its vindictive horrors upon society! Although not myself connected with them, I know their oath, and--but I say no more. M'Cormick, your friends are safe; we shall not, as I told you, call upon them, be the result what it may; better that one guilty should escape, than that three innocent persons should suffer."

Nogher again thanked him, and having taken up his hat, was about to retire, when he paused a moment, and, after some consideration with himself, said--

"You're a scholar, sir, an'--but maybe I'm sayin' what I oughtn't to say--but sure, God knows, it's all very well known long ago."

"What is it, M'Cormick?" asked John; "speak out plainly; we will not feel offended."

"'Twas only this, sir," continued Nogher, "I'm an unlarned man; but he would write to you may be--I mane Connor--an' if he did, I'd be glad to hear--but I hope I don't offind you, sir. You wouldn't think of me, may be, although many and many's the time I nursed him on these knees, an' carried him about in these arms, an he cried--ay, as God is my judge, he cried bitterly--when, as he said, at the time--'Nogher, Nogher, my affectionate friend, I'll never see you more.'"

John O'Brien shook him cordially by the hand, and replied--"I will make it a point to let you know anything that our family may hear from him."

"An' if you write to him, sir, just in a single line, to say that the affectionate ould friend never forgot him."

"That, too, shall be done," replied John; "you may rest assured of it."

The Bodagh, whose notions in matters of delicacy and feeling were rough but honest, now rang the bell with an uncommon, nay, an angry degree of violence.

"Get up some spirits here, an' don't be asleep. You must take a glass of whiskey before you go," he said, addressing Nogher.

"Sir," replied Nogher, "I'm in a hurry home, for I'm aff my day's work."

"By ---, but you must," rejoined the

Bodagh; "and what's your day's wages?"

"Ten pence."

"There's half-a-crown; an' I tell you more, you must come an' take a cot--tack undher me, and you'll find the change for the betther, never fear."

In point of fact in was so concluded, and Nogher left the Bodagh's house with a heart thankful to Providence that he had ever entered it.

The day of Flanagan's trial, however, now approached, and our readers are fully aware of the many chances of escaping justice which the state of the country opened to him, notwithstanding his most atrocious villainy. As some one, however, says in a play--in that of Othello, we believe--"God is above all," so might Flanagan have said on this occasion. The evidence of Biddy Nulty, some of the other servants, and the Bodagh, who identified some of the notes, was quite sufficient against him, with respect to the robbery. Nor was any evidence adduced of more circumstantial weight than Kitty Lowry's, who, on being satisfied of Flanagan's designs against Una, and that she was consequently no more than his dupe, openly acknowledged the part she had taken in the occurrences of the night on which the outrages were committed. This confession agreed so well with Bartle's character for caution and skill in everything he undertook, that his object in persuading her to leave the hall door open was not only clear, but perfectly consistent with the other parts of his plan. It was a capital crime; and when fame once more had proclaimed abroad that Bartle Flanagan was condemned to be hanged for robbing Bodagh Buie, they insisted still more strongly that the sentence was an undeniable instance of retributive justice. Striking, indeed, was the difference between his deportment during the trial, and the manly fortitude of Connor O'Donovan, when standing under as heavy a charge at the same bar. The moment he entered the dock, it was observed that his face expressed all the pusillanimous symptoms of the most unmanly terror. His brows fell, or rather hung over his eyes, as if all their muscular power had been lost--giving to his countenance not only the vague sullenness of irresolute ferocity, but also, as was legible in his dead small eye, the cold calculations of deep and cautious treachery; nor was his white, haggard cheek a less equivocal assurance of his consummate cowardice. Many eyes were now turned upon him; for we need scarcely say that his part of a case which created so much romantic interest as the conviction of Connor O'Donovan, and the history it developed of the mutual affection which subsisted between him and Una, was by no means forgotten. And even if it had, his present appearance and position would, by the force of ordinary association, have revived it in the minds of any then present.

Deprived of all moral firmness, as he appeared to be, on entering the dock, yet, as the trial advanced, it was evident that his heart and spirits were sinking still more and more, until at length his face, in consequence of its ghastliness, and the involuntary hanging of his eyebrows, indicated scarcely any other expression than that of utter helplessness, or the feeble agony of a mind so miserably prostrated, as to be hardly conscious of the circumstances around him. This was clearly obvious when the verdict of "guilty" was uttered in the dead silence which prevailed through the court. No sooner were the words pronounced than he looked about him wildly, and exclaimed--

"What's that? what's that? Oh, God--; sweet Jasus! sweet Jasus!"

His lips then moved for a little, and he was observed to mark his breast prvately with the sign of the cross; but in such a manner as to prove that the act was dictated by the unsettled incoherency of terror, and not by the promptings of piety or religion.

The judge now put on the black cap, and! was about to pronounce the fatal sentence, when the prisoner shrieked out, "Oh, my Lord--my Lord, spare me! Oh, spare me, for I'm not fit to die. I daren't meet God!"

"Alas!" exclaimed the judge, "unhappy man, it is too often true, that those who are least prepared to meet their Almighty Judge, are also the least reckless in the perpetration of those crimes which are certain, ere long, to hurry them into His presence. You find now, that whether as regards this life or the next, he who observes the laws of his religion and his country, is the only man who can be considered, in the true sense of the word, his own friend; and there is this advantage in his conduct, that, whilst he is the best friend to himself, it necessarily follows that he must be a benefactor in the same degree to society at large. To such a man the laws are a security, and not, as in your case, and in that of those who resemble you, a punishment. It is the wicked only who hate the laws, because they are conscious of having provoked their justice. In asking me to spare your life, you are aware that you ask me for that which I cannot grant. There is nothing at all in your case to entitle you to mercy; and if, by the life you have led, you feel that you are unfit to die, it is clear upon your own principles, and by the use you have made of life, that you are unfit to live."

He then proceeded to exhort him, in the usual terms, to sue for reconciliation with an offended God, through the merits and sufferings of Christ. After which he sentenced him to be executed on the fifth day from the close of the assizes. On hearing the last words of the judge, he clutched the dock at which he stood with a convulsive effort; his hands and arms, however, became the next moment relaxed, and he sank down in a state of helpless insensibility. On reviving he found himself in his cell, attended by two of the turnkeys, who felt now more alarmed at his screams and the horror which was painted on his face, than by the fainting fit from which he had just recovered. It is not our design to dwell at much length upon the last minutes of such a man; but we will state briefly, that, as might be expected, he left nothing unattempted to save his own life. On the day after his trial, he sent for the sheriff, and told him, that, provided his life were granted by the government, he could make many important disclosures, and give very valuable information concerning the state and prospects of Ribbonism in the country, together with a long list of the persons who were attached to it in that parish. The sheriff told him that this information, which might under other circumstances have been deemed of much value by the government, had already been anticipated by another man during the very short period that had elapsed since his conviction. There was nothing which he could now disclose, the sheriff added, that he himself was not already in possession of, even to the rank which he, Flanagan, was invested with among them, and the very place where he and they had held their last meeting. But, independently of that, he proceeded, it is not usual for: government to pardon the principals in any such outrage as that for which you have been convicted. I shall, however, transmit your proposal to the Secretary, who may act in the matter as he thinks proper.

In the meantime his relatives and confederates were not idle outside, each party having already transmitted a petition to the Castle in his behalf. That of his relations contained only the usual melancholy sentiments, and earnest entreaties for mercy, which are to be found in such documents. The memorial, however, of his confederates was equally remarkable for its perverted ingenuity, and those unlucky falsehoods which are generally certain to defeat the objects of those who have recourse to them.

It went to say that the petitioners feared very much that the country was in a dangerous state, in consequence of the progressive march of Ribbonism in parts of that parish, and in many of the surrounding districts. That the unhappy prisoner had for some time past made himself peculiarly obnoxious to this illegal class of persons; and that he was known in the country as what is termed "a marked man," ever since he had the courage to prosecute, about two years ago, one of their most notorious leaders, by name Connor O'Donovan, of Lisnamona; who was, at the period of writing that memorial, a convict during life in New South Wales, for a capital White-boy offence.

That said Connor O'Donovan, having seduced the affections of a young woman named Una O'Brien, daughter of a man called Michael O'Brien, otherwise Bodagh Buie, or the Yellow Churl, demanded her in marriage from her father and family, who unanimously rejected his pretensions. Upon which, instigated by the example and practice of the dark combination of which he was so distinguished a leader, he persuaded memorialist, partly by entreaties, but principally by awful and mysterious threats, to join him in the commission of this most atrocious crime. That, from the moment he had been forced into the participation of such an act, his conscience could not permit him to rest night or day; and he consequently came forward boldly and fearlessly, and did what he considered his duty to God and his country.

That, in consequence of this conscientious act, O'Donovan, the Ribbon ringleader, was capitally convicted; but through the interest of some leading gentlemen of the parish, who were ignorant of his habits and connections, the sentence was, by the mercy of government, commuted to transportation for life.

That, upon his banishment from the country, the girl whose affections he had seduced, became deranged for some time; but, after her recovery, expressed, on many occasions, the most bitter determinations to revenge upon petitioner the banishment of her lover; and that the principal evidence upon which petitioner was convicted, was hers * and that of a girl named Bridget Kulty, formerly a servant in his father's house, and known to have been his paramour.

* This was a falsehood, inasmuch as Una, having been concealed in another room, could give, and did give, no evidence that any way affected his life.

That this girl, Bridget Nulty, was taken into O'Brien's family at the suggestion of his daughter Una; and that, from motives of personal hatred, she and Bridget Nulty, aided by another female servant of O'Brien's named Kitty Lowry, formed the conspiracy of which petitioner is unhappily the victim.

It then proceeded to detail how the conspiracy of Una O'Brien and the two females she had taken in as accomplices, was carried into effect; all of which was done with singular tact and ingenuity; every circumstance being made to bear a character and design diametrically opposed to truth. It concluded by stating that great exultation had been manifested by the Ribbonmen of that parish, who, on the night of petitioner's conviction, lit bonfires in several parts of the neighborhood, fired shots, sounded horns, and displayed other symptoms of great rejoicing; and hoped his excellency would, therefore, interpose his high prerogative, and prevent petitioner from falling a sacrifice to a conspiracy on one hand, and the resentment of a traitorous confederacy on the other; and all this only for having conscientiously and firmly served the government of the country.

Our readers need not be surprised at the ingenuity of this plausible petition, for the truth is that before government supported any system of education at all in Ireland, the old hedge school-masters were, almost to a man, office-bearers and leaders in this detestable system. Such men, and those who were designed for the priesthood, with here and there an occasional poor scholar, were' uniformly the petition writers, and, indeed, the general scribes of the little world in which they lived. In fact, we have abundance of public evidence to satisfy us, that persons of considerable literasy attainments have been connected with Ribbonism in all its stages.

This fine writing, however, was unfortunately counteracted, in consequence of the information already laid before the sheriff by no less a personage than Rouser Redhead, who, fearing alike the treachery and enmity of his leader, resolved thus to neutralize any disclosures he should happen to make. But lest this might not have been sufficient to exhibit the character of that document, the proposal of Bartle himself to make disclosures was transmitted to the Secretary of State, by the same post; so that both reached that gentleman, pari passu, to his no small astonishment.

Had Flanagan's confederates consulted him, he would of course have dissuaded them from sending any petition at all, or at least, only such as he could approve of, but such is the hollowness of this bond, and so little confidence is placed in its obligation, that when any of its victims happen to find themselves in a predicament similar to Flanagan's, his companions without lead such a life of terror, and suspicion, and doubt, as it would be difficult to describe. But when, as in Bartle's case, there exists a strong distrust in his firmness and honesty, scarcely one can be found hardy enough--to hold any communication with him. This easily and truly accounts for the fact of their having got this petition written and sent to government in his name. The consequence was, that, on the day previous to that named for his execution, his death warrant reached the sheriff, who lost no time in apprising him of his unhappy fate.

This was a trying task to that humane and amiable gentleman, who had already heard of the unutterable tortures which the criminal suffered from the horror of approaching death, and the dread of eternity; for neither by penitence nor even by remorse, was he in the slightest degree moved.

"To die!" said he, staggering back; "to be in eternity to-morrow! to have to face God before twelve o'clock! tarrible! tar--rible! tarrible! Can no one save me? To die to--morrow!--tarrible!--tarrible!--tarrible! Oh that I could sink into the earth! that the ground 'ud swlly me!"

The sheriff advised him to be a man, and told him to turn to God,--who, if he repented, would in no wise cast him out. "Act," said he, "as O'Donovan did, whom you yourself prosecuted and placed in the very cell in which you now stand."

"Connor O'Donovan!" he exclaimed, "he might well bear to die; he was innocent; it was I that burned Bodagh Buie's haggard; he had neither act nor part in it no more than the child unborn. I swore away his life out of revinge to his father an' jealousy of himself about Una O'Brien. Oh, if I had as little to answer for now as he, I could die--die! Sweet Jasus, an' must I die to-morrow--be in the flames o' hell afore twelve o'clock? tarrible! terrible!"

It was absolutely, to use his own word, "terrible," to witness the almost superhuman energy of his weakness. On making this last disclosure to the sheriff, the latter stepped back from a feeling of involuntary surprise and aversion, exclaiming as he did it,--

"Oh, God forgive you, unhappy and guilty man! you have much, indeed, to answer for; and, as I said before, I advise you to make the most of the short time that is allotted to you, in repenting and seeking pardon from God."

The culprit heard him not, however, for his whole soul was fearfully absorbed in the contemplation of eternity and punishment, and death.

"Sir," said the turnkey, "that's the way he's runnin' about the room almost since his thrial; not, to be sure, altogether so bad as now, but clappin' his hands, an' scramm' an' groanin', that it's frightful to listen to him. An' his dhrames, sir, is worse. God, sir, if you'd hear him asleep, the hair would stand on your head; indeed, one of us is ordered to be still with him."

"It is right," replied the sheriff, who, after recommending him to get a clergyman, left him, and, with his usual promptness and decision, immediately wrote to the Secretary of State, acquainting him with Flanagan's confession of his own guilt, and of Connor O'Donovan's innocence of the burning of O'Brien's haggard; hoping, at the same time, that government would take instant steps to restore O'Donovan to his country and his friends.

Soon after the sheriff left him, a Roman Catholic clergyman arrived, for it appeared that against the priest who was chaplain of the jail he had taken an insurmountable prejudice, in consequence of some fancied resemblance he supposed him to bear to the miser's son. The former gentleman spent that night with him, and, after a vast deal of exertion and difficulty, got him so far composed, as that he attempted to confess to him, which, however, he did only in a hurried and distracted manner.

But how shall we describe the scene, and we have it from more than one or two witnesses, which presented itself, when the hour of his execution drew nigh. His cries and shrieks were distinctly heard from a considerable distance along the dense multitudes which were assembled to witness his death; thus giving to that dreadful event a character of horror so deep and gloomy, that many persons, finding themselves unable to bear it, withdrew from the crowd, and actually fainted on hearing the almost supernatural tones of his yells and howlings within.

In the mean time, the proceedings in the press-room were of a still more terrific description He now resembled the stag at bay; his strength became more than human. On attempting to tie his hands, five men were found insufficient for the woeful task. He yelled, and flung them aside like children, but made no attempt at escape, for, in truth, he knew not what he did. The sheriff, one of the most powerful and athletic men to be found in the province, was turned about and bent like an osier in his hands. His words, when the fury of despair permitted his wild and broken cries to become intelligible, were now for life--only life upon any terms; and again did he howl out his horrors of death, hell, and judgment. Never was such a scene, perhaps, witnessed.

At length his hands were tied, and they attempted to get him up to the platform of death, but to their amazement he was once more loose, and, flying to the priest, he clasped him with the gripe of Hercules.

"Save me, save me!" he shouted. "Let me live! I can't die! You're puttin' me into hell's fire! How can I face God? No, it's tarrible! it's tarrible! tarrible! Life, life, life--only life--oh, only life!"

As he spoke he pressed the reverend gentleman to his breast and kissed him, and shouted with a wildness of entreaty, which far transcended in terror the most outrageous paroxysms of insanity.

"I will not lave the priest," shrieked he; "so long as I stay with him so long I'll be out of the punishments of eternity. I will stick to you. Don't--don't put me away, but have pity on me! No--I'll not go, I'll not go!"

Again he kissed his lips, cheeks, and forehead, and still clung to him with terrific violence, until at last his hands were finally secured beyond the possibility of his again getting them loose. He then threw himself upon the ground, and still resisted, with a degree of muscular strength altogether unaccountable in a person, even of his compact and rather athletic form. His appearance upon the platform will long be remembered by those who had the questionable gratification of witnessing it. It was the struggle of strong men dragging a strong man to the most frightful of all precipices--Death.

When he was seen by the people in the act of being forced with such violence to the drop, they all moved, like a forest agitated by a sudden breeze, and uttered that strange murmur, composed of many passions, which can only be heard where a large number of persons are congregated together under the power of something that is deep and thrilling in its interest. At length, after a struggle for life, and a horror of death possibly unprecedented in the annals of crime, he was pushed upon the drop, the spring was touched, and the unhappy man passed shrieking into that eternity which he dreaded so much. His death was instantaneous, and, after hanging the usual time, his body was removed to the goal; the crowd began to disperse, and in twenty minutes the streets and people presented nothing more than their ordinary aspect of indifference to everything but their own affairs.*

* We have only to say, that W--m O--k, Esq., of Jj--sb--e, sheriff of the county of D--n. and those who officially attended, about four years ago, the execution of a man named M--y--, at the gaol of D--rip--k, for a most heinous murder, will, should they happen to see this description, not hesitate to declare that it falls far, far short of what they themselves witnessed upon this terrible occasion. There is nothing mentioned here which did not then occur, but there is much omitted.

Such, and so slight, after all, is the impression which death makes upon life, when the heart and domestic affections are not concerned.

And now, gentle and patient reader--for well, indeed, has thy patience been tried, during the progress of this tantalizing narrative--we beg to assure thee, that unless thou art so exquisitely tender-hearted as to mourn over the fate of Bartle Flanagan, the shadows which darkened the morning and noon of our story have departed, and its eye will be dewy, and calm, and effulgent.

Flanagan's execution, like any other just and necessary vindication of the law, was not without its usual good effect upon the great body of the people; for, although we are not advocates for a sanguinary statute-book, neither are we the eulogists of those who, with sufficient power in their hands, sit calmly and serenely amidst scenes of outrage and crime, in which the innocent suffer by the impunity of the guilty. Fame, who is busy on such occasions, soon published to a far distance Flanagan's confession of having committed the crime for which O'Donovan was punished. John O'Brien had it himself! from the sheriff's lips, as well as from a still more authentic statement written by the priest who attended him, and signed by the unhappy culprit's mark, in the presence of that gentleman, the governor of the gaol, and two turnkeys. The sheriff now heard, from O'Brien, for the first time, that O'Donovan's parents, having disposed of all their property, followed him to New South Wales, a circumstance by which he was so much struck at the moment, that he observed to O'Brien,--

"Do you not think it the duty of the Government, considering all the young man and his parents have suffered by that rascal's malice, to bring the whole family back at its own expense? For my part, aware as I am of the excellent disposition of the Secretary, I think, if we ask them, it will be done."

"Our best plan, perhaps," replied John, "is to get a memorial to that effect signed by those who subscribed to the former one in his behalf. I think it is certainly necessary, for, to tell you the truth, I doubt whether they are in possession of funds sufficient for the expenses of so long a journey."

"I know," said the sheriff, "that there is little time to be lost, for S----," naming the governor of the gaol, "tells me that the next convict ship sails in a fortnight. We must, therefore, push forward the business as rapidly as we can."

Well and truly did they keep their words, for we have the satisfaction of adding, that on the seventh day from the date of that conversation, they received a communication from the Castle, informing them that, after having taken the peculiar hardships of O'Donovan's singular case into mature consideration, they deemed the prayer of the memorial such as they felt pleasure in complying with; and that the Colonial Secretary had been written to, to take the proper steps for the return of the young man and his parents to their own country at the expense of the Government.

This was enough, and almost more than O'Brien expected. He had now done as much as could be done for the present, and nothing remained but to await their arrival with hope and patience. In truth, the prospect that now presented itself to the Bodagh's family was one in which, for the sake of the beloved Una, they felt a deep and overwhelming interest. Ever since Connor's removal from the country her spirits had gradually become more and more depressed. All her mirth and gayety had abandoned her; she disrelished reading; she avoided company; she hardly ever laughed, but, on the contrary, indulged in long fits of bitter grief while upon her solitary rambles. Her chief companion was Biddy Nulty, whom she exempted from her usual employment whenever she wished that Connor should be the topic of their conversation. Many a time have they strolled together through the garden, where Una had often stood, and, pointing to the summer--house, where the acknowledgments of their affection were first exchanged, said to her humble companion,--

"Biddy, that is the spot where he first told me that he loved me, and where I first acknowledged mine to him."

She would then pull out from her heart the locket which contained his rich brown hair, and, after kissing it, sit and weep on the spot which was so dear to her.

Biddy's task, then, was to recount to the unhappy girl such anecdotes as she remembered of him; and, as these were all to his advantage, we need scarcely say that many an entertainment of this kind she was called upon to furnish to her whose melancholy enjoyment was now only the remembrance of him, and what he had once been to her.

"I would have been in a convent long before now, Biddy," said she, a few days before Flanagan's trial, "but I cannot leave my father and mother, because I know they could not live without me. My brother John has declined Maynooth lest I should feel melancholy for want of some person to amuse me and to cheer me; and now I feel that it would be an ungrateful return I should make if I entered a convent and left my parents without a daughter whom they love so well, and my brother without a sister on whom he doats."

"Well, Miss," replied Biddy, "don't be cast down; for my part I'd always hope for the best. Who knows, Miss, but a betther lave may be turned up for you yet? I'd hould a naggin' that God nivir intinded an innocent creature like you to spind the rest of your life in sadness and sorrow, as you're doin'. Always hope for the best."

"Ah, Biddy," she replied, "you don't know what you speak of. His sentence is one that can never be changed; and as for hoping for the best how can I do that, Biddy, when I know that I have no 'best' to hope for. He was my best in this world; but he is gone. Now go in, Biddy, and leave me to myself for a little. You know how I love to be alone."

"May God in heaven pity you, Miss Oona," exclaimed the poor girl, whilst the tears gushed from her eyes, "as I do this day! Oh, keep up your heart, Miss, darlin'! for where there's life there's hope."

Little did she then dream, however, that hope would so soon restored to her heart, or that the revolution of another year should see her waiting with trembling delight for the fulness of her happiness.

On the evening previous to Bartle Flanagan's execution, she was pouring out tea for her father and mother, as was usual, when her brother John came home on his return from the assizes. Although the smile of affection with which she always received him lit up her dark glossy eyes, yet he observed that she appeared unusually depressed, and much more pale than she had been for some time past.

"Una, are you unwell, dear?" he asked, as she handed him a cup of tea.

She looked at him with a kind of affectionate reproof in her eyes, as if she wondered that he should be ignorant of the sorrow which preyed upon her.

"Not in health, John," she replied; "but that man's trial, and the many remembrances it has stirred up in my mind, have disturbed me. I am very much cast down, as you may see. Indeed, to speak the truth, and without disguise, I think that my heart is broken. Every one knows that a breaking heart is incurable."

"You take it too much to yourself, a lanna dhas," said her mother; "but you must keep up your spirits, darlin'--time will work wonders."

"With me, mother, it never can."

"Una," said John, with affected gravity, "you have just made two assertions which I can prove to be false."

She looked at him with surprise.

"False, dear John?"

"Yes, false, dear Una; and I will prove it, as I said. In the first place, there is a cure for a breaking' heart; and, in the next place, time will work wonders even for you."

"Well," said she, assuming a look of sickly cheerfulness, "I should be very ungrateful, John, if I did not smile for you, even when you don't smile yourself, after all the ingenious plans you take to keep up my spirits."

"My dear girl," replied John, "I will not trifle with you; I ask you now to be firm, and say whether you are capable of hearing--good news."

"Good news to me! I hope I am, John."

"Well, then, I have to inform you that this day Bartle Flanagan has confessed that it was not Connor O'Donovan who burned our haggard, but himself. The sheriff has written to inform the Government, so that we will have Connor back again with a name and character unsullied."

She looked at him for a moment, then at her parents; and her cheek still got paler, and after a slight pause she burst into a vehement and irrepressible paroxysm of grief.

"John, is this true?" inquired his father.

"Vic va hoiah! John--blessed mother!--thrue?--but is it, John? is it?"

"Indeed, it is, mother--the villain, now, that he has no hope of his life, confessed it this day!"

"God knows, darlin'," exclaimed the Bodagh's warm--hearted wife, now melting into tears herself, "it's no wondher you should cry tears of joy for this. God wouldn't be above us, a cushla oge machree, or he'd sind brighter days before your young and innocent heart."

Una could not speak, but wept on; the grief she felt, however, became gradually milder in its character, until at length her violent sobbings were hushed; and, although the tears still flowed, they flowed in silence.

"We will have him back, sartinly," said the Bodagh; "don't cry, dear, we'll have him here again with no disateful villain to swear away his life."

"I could die now," said the noble--minded girl; "I think I could die now, without even seeing him. His name is cleared, and will be cleared; his character untainted; and that is dearer to me even than his love. Oh, I knew it! I knew it!" she fervently exclaimed; "and when all the world was against him, I was for him; I and his own mother--for we were the two that knew his heart best."

"Well," said John, smiling, "if I brought you gloomy news once, I believe I have brought you pleasant news twice. You remember when I told you he was not to die."

"Indeed, John, dear, you are the best brother that ever God blessed a sister with; but I hope this is not a dream. Oh, can it be possible! and when I awake in the morning, will it be to the sorrowful heart I had yesterday? I am bewildered. After this, who should ever despair of the goodness of God, or think that the trial he sends but for a time is to last always?"

"Bridget," said the gracious Bodagh, "we must have a glass of punch; an' upon my reputaytion, Oona, we'll drink to his speedy return."

"Throth, an' Oona will take a glass, herself, this night," added her mother; "an' thanks be to Goodness she'll be our colleen dhas dhun again--won't you have a glass, asthore machree?"

"I'll do anything that any of you wishes me, mother," replied Una.

She gave, as she uttered the words, a slight sob, which turned their attention once more to her, but they saw at once, by the brilliant sparkle of her eyes, that it was occasioned by the unexpected influx of delight and happiness which was accumulating around her heart.

"Mother," she said, "will you make the punch for them to--night? I cannot rest till I let poor Biddy Kulty know what has happened. Cleared!" she added, exultingly, "his name and character cleared!"

The beautiful girl then left the room, and, short as was the space which had elapsed since she heard her brother's communication, they could not help being struck at the light elastic step with which she tripped out of it. Brief, however, as the period was, she had time to cast aside the burthen of care which had pressed her down and changed her easy pace to the slow tread of sorrow.

"God help our poor colleen dhas," exclaimed her mother, "but she's the happy creature, this night!"

"And happy will the hearth be where her light will shine," replied her father, quoting a beautiful Irish proverb to that effect.

"The ways of Providence are beautiful when seen aright or understood," observed her brother. "She was too good to be punished, but not too perfect to be tried. Their calamitous separation will enhance the value of their affection for each other when they meet; for pure and exalted as her love for him is, yet I am proud to say that Connor is worthy of her and it."

That night her mother observed that Una spent a longer time than usual at her devotions, and, looking into her room when passing, she saw her on her knees, and heard her again sobbing with the grateful sense of a delighted heart. She did not again address her, and they all retired to happier slumbers than they had enjoyed for many a night.

Our readers have already had proofs of Una's consideration, generosity, and common delicacy. Her conduct at the approach of her lover's trial, and again when he was about to leave her and his country forever, they cannot, we are sure, have forgotten. When her brother had shown the official communication from the Castle, in which government expressed its intention of bringing Connor and his parent's home at its own expense, the Bodagh and his wife,--knowing that the intended husband of their daughter possessed no means of supporting her, declared, in order to remove any shadow of anxiety from her mind, that O'Donovan, after their marriage, should live with themselves, for they did not wish, they said, that Una should be separated from them. This was highly gratifying to her, but beyond her lover's welfare, whether from want of thought or otherwise, it is not easy to say, she saw that their sympathy did not extend. This troubled her, for she knew how Connor loved his parents, and how much any want of comfort they might feel would distress him. She accordingly consulted with her ever faithful confidant, John, and begged of him to provide for them, at her own expense, a comfortable dwelling, and to furnish it, as near as might be practicable in the manner in which their former one had been furnished. She also desired him to say nothing to their parents about this, "for I intend," she added, "to have a little surprise for them all."

About the time, therefore, when the vessel in which they were to arrive was expected, a snug, well--furnished house, convenient to the Bodagh's, amply stored with provisions, and kept by a daughter of Nogher M'Cormick, awaited them. Nothing that could render them easy was omitted, and many things also were procured, in the shape of additional comforts, to which they had not been accustomed before.

At length the arrival of the much wished-for vessel was announced, and John O'Brien, after having agreed to let Una know by letter where the Bodagh's car should meet them, mounted the day coach, and proceeded to welcome home his future brother-in-law, prepared, at the same time, to render both to him and his parents whatever assistance they stood in need of, either pecuniary or otherwise, after so long and so trying a voyage.

The meeting of two such kindred spirits may be easily conceived. There were few words wasted between them, but they were full of truth and sincerity.

"My noble fellow," said O'Brien, clasping Connor's hand, "she is at home with a beating heart and a happy one, waiting for you."

"John," replied the other fervently, "the wealth of the universe is below her price. I'm not worthy of her, except in this, that I could shed my heart's dearest blood to do her good."

"Little you know of it yet," said the other smiling significantly, "but you will soon."

It appeared that Fardorougha's wife had borne the hardships of both voyages better than her husband, who, as his son sensibly observed, had been too much worn down before by the struggle between his love for him and his attachment to his money.

"His cares are now nearly over," said Connor, with a sigh. "Indeed, he is so far gone that I don't know how to lave him while I'm providin' a home for him to die in."

"That is already done," replied O'Brien. "Una did not forget it. They have a house near ours, furnished with everything that can contribute to their comfort."

Connor, on hearing this, paused, and his cheek became pale and red alternately with emotion--his nerves thrilled, and a charm of love and pleasure diffused itself over his whole being.

"There is no use in my speaking," he exclaimed; "love her more than I do I cannot."

In consequence of Fardorougha's illness, they were forced to travel by slower and shorter stages than they intended. O'Brien, however, never left them; for he knew that should the miser die on the way, they would require the presence and services of a friend. In due time, however, they reached the place appointed by John for the car to meet them; and ere many hours had passed, they found themselves once more in what they could call their home. From the miser's mind the power of observing external nature seemed to have been altogether withdrawn; he made no observation whatever upon the appearance or novelty of the scene to which he was conveyed, nor of the country through which he passed; but when put to bed he covered himself with the bed-clothes, and soon fell into a slumber.

"Connor," said his mother, "your father's now asleep, an' won't miss you; lose no time, thin, in goin' to see her; and may God strinthen you both for sich a meetin'!" They accordingly went. The Bodagh was out, but Una and her mother were sitting in the parlor when the noise of a jaunting-car was heard driving up to the door; Una involuntarily looked out of the window, and seeing two she started up, and putting her hands together, hysterically exclaimed thrice, "Mother, mother, mother, assist me, assist me--he's here!" Her mother caught her in her arms; and at the same moment Connor rushed in. Una could only extend her arms to receive him; he clasped her to his heart, and she sobbed aloud several times rapidly, and then her head sank upon his bosom.

Her mother and brother were both weeping.

Her lover looked down upon her, and, as he hung over the beautiful and insensible girl, the tears which he shed copiously bedewed her face. After a few minutes she recovered, and her brother, with his usual delicacy, beckoned to his mother to follow him out of the room, knowing that the presence of a third person is always a restraint upon the interchange of even the tenderest and purest affection. Both, therefore, left them to themselves; and we, in like manner, must allow that delicious interview to be sacred only to themselves, and unprofaned by the gaze or presence of a spectator. The Bodagh and his wife were highly gratified at the steps their children had taken to provide for the comfort of Fardorougha and his wife. The next day the whole family paid them a visit, but on seeing the miser, it was clear that his days were numbered. During the most vigorous and healthy period of his life, he had always been thin and emaciated; but now, when age, illness, the severity of a sis months' voyage, and, last of all, the hand of death, left their wasting traces upon his person, it would indeed be difficult to witness an image of penury more significant of its spirit. We must, however, do the old man justice. Since the loss of his money or rather since the trial and conviction of his son, or probably since the operation of both events upon his heart, he had seldom, if ever, by a single act or expression, afforded any proof that his avarice survived, or was able to maintain its hold upon him, against the shock which awakened the full power of a father's love.

About ten o'clock, a. m., on the fourth day after their arrival, Connor, who had run over to the Bodagh's, was hurriedly sent for by his mother, who desired Nelly M'Cormick to say that his father incessantly called for him, and that he must not lose a moment in coming. He returned immediately with her, and found the old man reclining in bed, supported by his wife, who sat behind him.

"Is my boy comin'?" he said, in a thin, wiry, worn voice, but in words which, to any person near him, were as distinct almost as ever--"is my boy Connor comin'?"

"I am here, father," replied Connor, who had just entered the sick room; "sure I am always with you."

"You are, you are," said he, "you were ever an' always good. Give me your hand, Connor."

Connor did so.

"Connor, darlin'," he proceeded, "don't be like me. I loved money too much; I set my heart on it, an' you know how it was taken away from me. The priest yesterday laid it upon me, out of regard to my reignin' sin, as he called it, to advise you afore I die against lovin' the wealth o' this world too much."

"I hope I never will, father, your own misfortune ought to be a warnin' to me."

"Ay, you may say that; it's I indeed that was misfortunate; but it was all through P----an' that nest o' robbers, the Isle o' Man."

"Don't think of him or it now, my dear father--don't be discomposin' your mind about them."

Connor and his mother exchanged a melancholy glance; and the latter, who, on witnessing his frame of mind, could not help shedding bitter tears, said to him--

"Fardorougha dear, Fardorougha asthore machree, won't you be guided by me? You're now on your death--bed, an' think of God's marcy--it's that you stand most in need of. Sure, ayourneen, if you had all the money you ever had, you couldn't bring a penny of it where you're goin'."

"Well, but I'm givin' Connor advice that'll sarve him. Sure I'm not biddin' him to set his heart on it, for I tould the priest I wouldn't; but is that any raison why he'd not save it? I didn't tell the priest that I wouldn't bid him do that."

"Father," said Connor, "for the love o' God will you put these thoughts out o' your heart and mind?"

"So Connor dear," proceeded the old man, not attending to him, "in makin' any bargain, Connor, be sure to make as hard a one as you can; but for all that be honest, an' never lind a penny o' money widout interest."

"I think he's wandherin'," whispered his mother. "Oh grant it may be so, marciful Jasus this day!"

"Honor ahagur."

"Well, darlin', what is it?"

"There's another thing that throubles me--I never knew what it was to feel myself far from my own till now."

"How is that, dear?"

"My bones won't rest in my own counthry; I won't sleep wid them that belong to me. How will I lie in a strange grave, and in a far land? Oh, will no one bring me back to my own?"

The untutored sympathies of neither wife nor son could resist this beautiful and affecting trait of nature, and the undying love of one's own land, emanating, as it did, so unexpectedly, from a heart otherwise insensible to the ordinary tendernesses of life.

"Sure you are at home, avourneen," said Honor; "an' will rest wid your friends and relations that have gone before you."

"No," said he, "I'm not, I'm far away from them, but now I feel more comforted; I have one wid me that's dearer to me than them all. Connor and I will sleep together, won't we, Connor?"

This affectionate transition from every other earthly object to himself, so powerfully smote the son's heart that he could not reply.

"What ails him, Connor?" said his wife. "Help me to keep up his head--Saver above!"

Connor raised his head, but saw at a glance that the last struggle in the old man's heart was over. The miser was no more.

Little now remains to be said. The grief for old age, though natural, is never abiding.

The miser did sleep with his own; and after a decent period allotted to his memory, need we say that our hero and heroine, if we may be permitted so to dignify them, were crowned in the enjoyment of those affections which were so severely tested, and at the same time so worthy of their sweet reward.

Ned M'Cormick and Biddy Nulty followed their example, and occupied the house formerly allotted to Fardorougha and his wife. John O'Brien afterwards married, and the Bodagh, reserving a small but competent farm for himself, equally divided his large holdings between his son and son-in-law. On John's mojority he built a suitable house; but Una and her husband, and Honor, all live with themselves, and we need scarcely say, for it is not long since we spent a week with them, that the affection of the old people for their grandchildren is quite enthusiastic, and that the grandchildren, both boys and girls, are worthy of it.

William Carleton's novel: Fardorougha, The Miser


Read previous: Part 7

Table of content of Fardorougha, The Miser


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