The Black Prophet: A Tale Of Irish Famine
by William Carleton
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Having thus endeavored to give what we feel to be but a faint picture of the state of the kingdom at large in this memorable year, we beg our readers to accompany us once more to the cabin of our moody and mysterious friend, the Black Prophet.

Evening was now tolerably far advanced; Donnel Dhu sat gloomily, as usual, looking into the fire, with no agreeable aspect; while on the opposite side sat Nelly, as silent and nearly as gloomy-looking as himself. Every now and then his black, piercing eye would stray over to her, as if in a state of abstraction, and again with that undetermined kind of significance which made it doubtful whether the subject-matter of his cogitations was connected with her at all or not. In this position were they placed when Sarah entered the cabin, and throwing aside her cloak, seated herself in front of the fire, something about halfway between each. She also appeared moody; and if one could judge by her countenance, felt equally disposed to melancholy or ill-temper.

"Well, madam," said her father, "I hope it's no offence to ask you where you have been sportin' yourself since? I suppose you went to see Charley Hanlon; or, what is betther, his masther, young Dick o' the Grange?"

"No," she replied, "I did not. Charley Hanlon! Oh, no!"

"Well, his masther?"

"Don't vex me—don't vex me," she replied, abruptly; "I don't wish to fight about nothing, or about thrifles, or to give bad answers; but still, don't vex me, I say."

"There's something in the wind now," observed Nelly; "she's gettin' fast into one o' her tantrums. I know it by her eyes; she'd as soon whale me now as cry; and she'd jist as soon cry as whale me. Oh! my lady, I know you. Here, at any rate, will you have your supper?"

The resentment which had been gathering at Nelly's coarse observations, disappeared the moment the question as to supper had been put to her.

"Oh! why don't you," she said; "and why didn't you always spake to me in a kind voice?"

"But about young Dick," said the suspicious prophet; "did you see him since?"

"No," she replied, calmly and thoughtfully; but, as if catching, by reflection, the base import of the query, she replied, in a loud and piercing voice, rendered at once full and keen by indignation. "No! I say, an' don't dare to suspect me of goin' to Dick o' the Grange, or any sich profligate."

"Hollo! there's a breeze!" After a pause, "You won't bate us, I hope. Then, madame, where were you?"

Short as was the period that had passed since her reply and the putting of this last question, she had relapsed or fallen into a mood of such complete abstraction, that she heard him not. With her naturally beautiful and taper hand under her still more finely chiseled chin, she sat looking, in apparent sorrow and perplexity, into the fire, and while so engaged, she sighed deeply two or three times.

"Never mind her, man," said Nelly; "let her alone, an' don't draw an ould house on our heads. She has had a fight with Charley Hanlon, I suppose; maybe he has refused to marry her, if he ever had any notion of it—which I don't think he had."

Sarah rose up and approaching her, said:

"What is that you wor saying? Charley Hanlon!—never name him an' me together, from this minute out. I like him well enough as an acquaintance, but never name us together as sweethearts—mark my words now. I would go any length to sarve Charley Hanlon, but I care nothin' for him beyond an acquaintance, although I did like him a little, or I thought I did."

"Poor Charley!" exclaimed Nelly, "he'll break his heart. Arra what'll he do for a piece o' black crape to get into murnin'? eh—ha! ha! ha!"

"If you had made use of them words to me only yesterday," she replied, "I'd punish you on the spot; but now, you unfortunate woman, you're below my anger. Say what you will or what you wish, another quarrel with you I will never have."

"What does she mane?" said the other, looking fiercely at the Prophet; "I ax you, you traitor, what she manes?"

"Ay, an' you'll ax me till you're hoarse, before you get an answer," he replied.

"You're a dark an' deep villain," she uttered, while her face became crimson with rage, and the veins of her neck and temples swelled out as if they would burst; "however, I tould you what your fate would be, an' that Providence was on your bloody trail. Ay did I, and you'll find it true soon."

The Prophet rose and rushed at her; but Sarah, with the quickness of lightning, flew between them.

"Don't be so mane," she said—"don't now, father, if you rise your hand to her I'll never sleep a night undher the roof. Why don't you separate yourself from her? Oh, no, the man that would rise his hand to sich a woman—to a woman that must have the conscience she has—especially when he could put the salt seas between himself an' her—is worse and meaner than she is. As for me, I'm lavin' this house in a day or two, for my mind's made up that the same roof won't cover us."

"The divil go wid you an' sixpence then," replied Nelly, disdainfully—"an' then you'll want neither money nor company; but before you go, I'd thank you to tell me what has become o' the ould Tobaccy Box, that you pulled out o' the wall the other day. I know you were lookin' for it, an' I'm sure you got it—there was no one else to take it; so before you go, tell me—unless you wish to get a knife put into me by that dark lookin' ould father of yours."

"I know nothing about your ould box, but I wish I did."

"That's a lie, you sthrap; you know right well where it is."

"No," replied her father, "she does not, when she says she doesn't. Did you ever know her to tell a lie?"

"Ay—did I—fifty."

The Prophet rushed at her again, and again did Sarah interpose.

"You vile ould tarmagint," he exclaimed, "you're statin' what you feel to be false when you say so; right well you know that neither you nor I, nor any one else, ever heard a lie from her lips, an' yet you have the brass to say to the contrary."

"Father," said Sarah, "there's but one coorse for you; as for me, my mind's made up—in this house I don't stay if she does."

"If you'd think of what I spoke to you about," he replied, "all would soon be right wid us; but then you're so unraisonable, an' full of foolish notions, that it's hard for me to know what to do, especially as I wish to do all for the best."

"Well," rejoined Sarah, "I'll spake to you again, about it; at this time I'm disturbed and unaisy in my mind; I'm unhappy—unhappy—an' I hardly knows on what hand to turn. I'm afeared I was born for a hard fate, an' that the day of my doom isn't far from me. All, father, is dark before me—my heart is, indeed, low an' full of sorrow; an' sometimes I could a'most tear any one that 'ud contradict me. Any way I'm unhappy."

As she uttered the last words, her father, considerably surprised at the melancholy tenor of her language, looked at her, and perceived that, whilst she spoke, her large black eyes were full of distress, and swam in tears.

"Don't be a fool, Sarah," said he, "it's not a thrifle should make any one cry in sich a world as this. If Charley Hanlon and you has quarrelled, it was only the case with thousands before you. If he won't marry you, maybe as good or better will; for sure, as the ould proverb says, there's as good fish in the say as ever was catched. In the mane time think what I said to you, an' all will be right."

Sarah looked not at him; but whilst he spoke, she hastily dried her tears, and ere half a minute had passed, her face had assumed a firm and somewhat of an indignant expression. Little, however, did her father then dream of the surprising change which one short day had brought about in her existence, nor of the strong passions which one unhappy interview had awakened in her generous but unregulated heart.

CHAPTER XVIII. — Love Wins the Race from Profligacy.

Donnel Dhu M'Gowan's reputation as a Prophecy-man arose, in the first instance, as much on account of his mysterious pretensions to a knowledge of the quack prophecies of his day—Pastorini, Kolumbkille, &c, and such stuff—as from any pretensions he claimed to foretell the future. In the course of time, however, by assuming to be a seventh son, he availed himself of the credulity and ignorance of the people, and soon added a pretended insight into futurity to his powers of interpreting Pastorini, and all the catchpenny trash of the kind which then circulated among the people. This imposture, in course of time, produced its effect, Many, it is true, laughed at his impudent assumptions, but on the other hand, hundreds were strongly impressed with a belief in the mysterious and rhapsodical predictions which he was in the habit of uttering. Among the latter class we may reckon simple-hearted Jerry Sullivan and family, all of whom, Mave herself included, placed the most religious confidence in the oracles he gave forth. It was then with considerable agitation and a palpitating heart, that on the day following that of Donnel's visit to her father's she approached the Grey Stone, where, in the words of the prophet, she should meet "the young man who was to bring her love, wealth, and happiness, and all that a woman can wish to have with a man." The agitation she felt, however, was the result of a depression that almost amounted to despair. Her faithful heart was fixed but upon one alone, and she knew that her meeting with any other could not, so far as she was concerned, realize the golden visions of Donnel Dhu. The words, however, could not be misunderstood; the first person she met, on the right hand side of the way, after passing the Grey Stone, was to be the individual; and when we consider her implicit belief in Donnel's prophecy, contrasted with her own impressions and the state of mind in which she approached the place, we may form a tolerably accurate notion of what she must have experienced. On arriving within two hundred yards or so of the spot mentioned, she observed in the distance, about a half mile before her, a gentleman, on horseback, approaching her at rapid speed. Her heart, on perceiving him, literally sank within her, and she felt so weak as to be scarcely able to proceed.

"Oh! what," she at length asked herself, "would I not now give but for one glance of young Condy Dalton! But it is not to be. The unfortunate murdher of my uncle has prevented that for ever; although I can't get myself to believe that any of the Daltons ever did it; but maybe that's because I wish they didn't. The general opinion is, that his father is the man that did it. May the Lord forgive them, whoever they are, that took his life—for it was a black act to me at any rate!"

Across the road, before her, ran one of those little deep valleys, or large ravines, and into this had the horseman disappeared as she closed the soliloquy. He had not, however, at all slackened his pace, but, on the contrary, evidently increased it, as she could hear by the noise of his horse's feet. At this moment she reached the brow of the ravine, and our readers may form some conception of what she felt when, on looking down it she saw her lover, young Dalton, toiling up towards her with feeble and failing steps, while pressing after him from the bottom, came young Henderson, urging his horse with whip and spur. Her heart, which had that moment bounded with delight, now utterly failed her, on perceiving the little chance which the poor young man had of being the first to meet her, and thus fulfill the prophecy. Henderson was gaining upon him at a rapid rate, and must in a few minutes have passed him, had not woman's wit and presence of mind come to her assistance. "If he cannot run up the hill," she said to herself, "I can run to him down it"—and as the thought occurred to her, she started towards him at her greatest speed, which indeed was considerable, as her form was of that light and elastic description which betokens great powers of activity and exertion. The struggle indeed was close; Henderson now plied whip and spur with redoubled energy, and the animal was approaching at full speed. Mave, on the other hand, urged by a thousand motives, forgot everything but the necessity of exertion. Dalton was incapable of running a step, and appeared not to know the cause of the contest between the parties. At length Mave, by her singular activity and speed reached her lover, into whose arms she actually ran, just as Henderson had come within about half a dozen yards of the spot where she met him. This effort, on the part of Mave, was in perfect accordance with the simple earnestness of her character; her youthful figure, her innocence of manner, the glow of beauty, and the crowd of blushing graces which the act developed, together with the joyous exultation of her triumph on reaching her lover's arms, and thus securing to herself and him completion of so delightful a prediction—all, when taken in at one view, rendered her being so irresistibly fascinating, that her lover could scarcely look upon the incident as a real one, but for a moment almost persuaded himself that his beloved Mave had undergone some delightful and glorious transformation—such as he had seen her assume in the dreams of his late illness.

Henderson, finding himself disappointed, now pulled up his horse and addressed her:

"Upon my word, Miss Sullivan—I believe," he added, "I have the pleasure of addressing Jeremy Sullivan's daughter—so far famed for her beauty—I say, upon my word, Miss Sullivan, your speed outstrips the wind—those light and beautiful feet of yours scarcely touch the ground—I am certain you must dance delightfully."

Mave again blushed, and immediately extricated herself from her lover's arms, but before she did, she felt his frame trembling with indignation at the liberty Henderson had taken in addressing her at all.

"Dalton," the latter proceeded, unconscious of the passion he was exciting, "I cannot but envy you at all events; I would myself delight to be a winning post under such circumstances."

Dalton looked at him, and his eye, like that of his father, when enraged, glared with a deadly light.

"Pass on, sir," he replied; "Mave Sullivan is no girl for the like of you to address. She wishes to have no conversation with you, and she will not."

"I shan't take your word for that, my good friend," replied Henderson, smiling; "she can speak for herself; and will, too, I trust."

"Dear Condy," whispered Mave, "don't put yourself in a passion; you are too weak to bear it."

"Miss Sullivan," proceeded young Dick, "is a pretty girl, and as such I claim a portion of her attention, and—should she so far favor me—even of her conversation; and that with every respect for your very superior judgment, my good Mr. Dalton."

"What is your object, now, in wishin' to spake to her?" asked the latter, looking him sternly in the face.

"I don't exactly see that I'm bound to answer your catechism," said Dick; "it is to Miss Sullivan I would address myself. I speak to you, Miss Sullivan; and, allow me to say, that I feel a very warm interest in your welfare, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to promote it by any means in my power."

Mave was about to reply, but Dalton anticipated her.

"The only favor you can bestow upon Miss Sullivan, as you are plaised to call her, is to pass her by," said Dalton; "she wishes to have no intimacy nor conversation of any kind with such a noted profligate. She knows your carrechter, Mr. Henderson; or if she doesn't, I do—an' that it's as much as a daicent girl's good name is worth to be seen spakin' to you. Now, I tell you again to pass on. Don't force either yourself or your conversation upon her, if you're wise. I'm here to protect her—an' I won't see her insulted for nothing."

"Do you mean that as a threat, my good fellow?"

"If you think it a threat, don't deserve it, an' you won't get it. If right was to take place, our family would have a heavy account to settle with you and yours; and it wouldn't be wise in you to add this to it."

"Ha! I see—oh, I understand you, I think—more threatening—eh?"

"As I said before," replied Dalton, "that's as you may deserve it. Your cruelty, and injustice, and oppression to our family, we might overlook; but I tell you, that if you become the means of bringin' a stain—the slightest that ever was breathed—upon the fair name of this girl, it would be a thousand times betther that you never were born."

"Ah! indeed, Master Dalton! but in the mean time, what does Miss Sullivan herself say? We are anxious to hear your own sentiments on this matter, Miss Sullivan."

"I would feel obliged to you to pass on, sir," she replied; "Condy Dalton is ill, and badly able to bear sich a conversation as this."

"Here," said Dalton, fiercely, laying his hand upon Mave's shoulder, "if you cross my path here—or lave but a shadow of a stain, as I said, upon her name, woe betide you!"

"Your wishes are commands to me, Miss Sullivan," replied Henderson, without noticing Dalton's denunciation in the slightest degree; "and, I trust that when we meet again, you won't be guarded by such a terrible bow-wow of a dragon as has now charge of you. Good bye! and accept my best wishes until then."

He immediately set spurs once more to his horse, and in a few minutes had turned at the cross roads, and taken that which led to his father's house.

"It was well for him," said Dalton, immediately after he had left them, "that I hadn't a loaded pistol in my hand—but no, dear Mave," he added, checking himself, "the hasty temper and the hasty blow is the fault of our family, an' so far as I am consarned, I'll do everything to overcome it."

Mave now examined him somewhat more earnestly than she had done; and although grieved at his thin and wasted appearance, yet she could not help being forcibly struck by the singular clearness and manly beauty of his features. And yet this beauty filled her heart with anything but satisfaction; for on contemplating it, she saw that it was over-shadowed by an expression of such settled sorrow and dejection, as it was impossible to look upon without the deepest compassion and sympathy.

"We had betther rest a little, dear Mave," he said; "you must be fatigued, and so am I. Turn back a little, will you, an' let us sit upon the Grey Stone; it's the only thing in the shape of a seat that is now near us. Have you any objection?"

"None in the world," she replied; "I'll be time enough at my uncle's, especially as I don't intend to come home to-night."

They accordingly sauntered back, and took their seat upon a ledge of the stone in question, that almost concealed them from observation; after which the dialogue proceeded as follows:

"Condy," observed Mave, "I was glad to hear that you recovered from the fever; but I'm sorry to see you look so ill: there is a great deal of care in your face."

"There is, dear Mave; there is," he replied, with a melancholy smile, "an' a great deal of care in my heart. You look thin yourself, and careworn too, dear."

"We are not without our own struggles at home," she replied, "as, indeed, who is now? But we had more than ourselves to fret for."

"Who?" he asked; but on putting the question, he saw a look of such tender reproach in her eye as touched him.

"Kind heart!" he exclaimed; "kindest and best of hearts, why should I ax such a question? Surely I ought to know you. I am glad I met you, Mave, for I have many things to say to you, an' it's hard to say when I may have an opportunity again."

"I know that is true," said she; "but I did not expect to meet you here."

"Mave," he proceeded, in a voice filled with melancholy and sadness, "you acknowledged that you loved me."

She looked at him, and that look moved him to the heart.

"I know you do love me," he proceeded, "and now, dear Mave, the thought of that fills my heart with sorrow."

She started slightly, and looked at him again with a good deal of surprise; but on seeing his eyes filled with tears, she also caught the contagion, and asked with deep emotion:

"Why, dear Condy? Why does my love for you make your heart sorrowful?"

"Because I have no hope," said he—"no hope that ever you can be mine."

Mave remained silent; for she knew the insurmountable obstacles that prevented their union; but she wept afresh.

"When I saw your father last, behind your garden, the day I struck Donnel Dhu," Dalton proceeded, "I tould him what I then believed to be true, that my father never had a hand in your uncle's death. Mave, dear, I cannot tell a lie; nor I will not. I couldn't say as much to him now; I'm afeard that his death is on my father's sowl."

Mave started and got pale at the words. "Great God!" she exclaimed, "don't say so, Con dear. Oh, no, no—is it your father that was always so good, an' so generous to every one that stood in need of it at his hands, an' who was also so charitable to the poor?"

"Ay," said he, "he was charitable to the poor; but of late I've heard him say things that nobody but a man that has some great crime to answer for could or would say. I believe too that what the public says is right: that it's the hand of God Himself that's upon him an' us for that murdher."

"But maybe," said Mave, who still continued pale and trembling; "maybe it was accidentally afther all; a chance blow, maybe; but whatever it was, dear Con, let us spake no more about it. I am not able to listen to it; it would sicken me soon."

"Very well, dear, we'll drop it; an' I hope I'm wrong; for I can't think, afther all, that a man with such a kind and tendher heart as my father—a pious man, too; could—" he paused a moment, and then added; "oh! no; I'm surely wrong; he never did the act. However, as we said, I'll drop it; for indeed, dear Mave, I have enough that's sorrowful and heartbreakin' to spake about, over and above that unfortunate subject."

"I hope," said Mave, "that there's nothing worse than your own illness; an' you know, thanks be to the Almighty, you're recoverin' fast from that."

"My poor lovin' sister Nancy," said he, "was laid down yesterday morning with this terrible faver; she was our chief dependence; we could stand it out no longer; I could, an' can do nothing; an' my mother this mornin'"—His tears fell so fast, and his affliction was so deep, that he was not able, for a time to proceed.

"Oh! what about her?" asked Mave, participating in his grief; "oh! what about her that every one loves?"

"She was obliged to go out this mornin'," he proceeded, "to beg openly in the face of day among the neighbors! Now, Mave Sullivan, farewell!" said he rising, while his face was crimsoned over with shame; "farewell, Mave Sullivan; all, from this minute, is over between you an' me. The son of a beggar must never become your husband; will never call you his wife; even if there was no other raison against it."

The melancholy but lovely girl rose with him; she trembled; she blushed—and again got pale; then blushed once more; at length she spoke:

"An' is that, dear Con, all that you yet know of Mave Sullivan's heart, or the love for you that's in it? Your mother! Oh! an' is it come to that with her? But—but—do you think that even that, or anything that wouldn't be a crime in yourself; or, do you think; oh! I know not what to say; I see now, dear Con, the raison for the sorrow that's in your face; the heart-break an' the care that's there; I see, indeed, how low in spirits an' how hopeless you are; an' I see that although your eye is clear still it's heavy; heavy with hard affliction; but then, what is love, Con dear, if it's to fly away when these things come on us? Is it now, then, that you'd expect me to desert you?—to keep cool with you, or to lave you when you have no other heart to go to for any comfort but mine? Oh, no! Con dear. You own Mave Sullivan is none of these. God knows it's little comfort," she proceeded, weeping bitterly; "it's little comfort's in my poor heart for any one; but there's one thing in it, Con, dear; that, poor as I stand here this minute; an' where, oh! where is there or could' there be a poorer girl than I am; still there's one thing in it that I wouldn't exchange for this world's wealth; an' that, that, dear Con, is my love for you! That's the love, dear Con, that neither this world nor its cares, nor its shame, nor its poverty, nor its sorrow, can ever overcome or banish; that's the love that would live with you in wealth; that would keep by your side through good and through evil; that would share your sickness; that would rejoice with you; that would grieve with you; beg with you, starve with you, an', to go where you might, die by your side. I cannot bid you to throw care and sorrow away; but if it's consolation to you to know an' to feel how your own Mave Sullivan loves you, then you have that consolation. Dear Con, I am ready to marry you, an' share your distress tomorrow; ay, this day, or this minute, if it could be done."

There was a gentle, calm, but firm enthusiasm about her manner, which carried immediate conviction with it, and as her tears fell in silence, she bestowed a look upon her lover which fully and tenderly confirmed all that her tongue had uttered.

Both had been standing; but her lover, taking her hand, sat down, as she also did; he then turned around and pressed her to his heart; and their tears in this melancholy embrace of love and sorrow both literally mingled together.

"I would be ungrateful to God, my beloved Mave," he replied, "and unworthy of you—and, indeed, at best I'm not worthy of you—if I didn't take hope an' courage, when I know that sich a girl Joves me; as it is, I feel my heart aisier, an' my spirits lighter; although, at the same time, dear Mave, I'm very wake, and far from being well."

"That's bekaise this disturbance of your mind is too much for you yet—but keep your spirits up; you don't know," she continued, smiling sweetly through her tears; "what a delightful prophecy was fulfilled for us this day—ay, awhile ago, even when I met you."

"No," he replied, "what was it?" She then detailed the particulars of Donnel Dhu's prediction, which she dwelt upon with a very cheerful spirit, after which she added:

"And now, Con dear, don't you think that's a sign we'll be yet happy?"

Dalton, who placed no reliance whatever on Donnel Dhu's impostures, still felt reluctant to destroy the hope occasioned by such an agreeable illusion. "Well," he replied, "although I don't much believe in anything that ould scoundrel says; I trust, for all that, that he has tould you truth for wanst."

"But how did you happen to come here, Con?" she asked; "to be here at the very minute, too?"

"Why," said he, "I was desired to be the first to meet you after you passed the Grey Stone—the very one we're sittin' on—if I loved you, an' wished to sarve you."

"But who on earth could tell you this?" she asked; "bekaise I thought no livin' bein' knew of it but myself and Donnel Dhu."

"It was Sarah, his daughter," said Dalton; "but when I asked her why I should come to do so, she wouldn't tell me—she said if I wished to save you from evil, or at any rate from trouble. That's a strange girl—his daughter," he added; "she makes one do whatever she likes."

"Isn't she very handsome?" said Mave, with an expression of admiration. "I think she's without exception, the prettiest girl I ever seen; an' her beautiful figure beats all; but somehow they say every one's afraid of her, an' durstn't vex her."

"She examined me well yesterday, at all events," replied Con. "I thought them broad, black, beautiful eyes of hers would look through me. Many a wager has been laid as to which is the handsomest—you or she; an' I know hundreds that 'ud give a great deal to see you both beside one another."

"Indeed, an' she has it then," said Mave, "far an' away, in face, in figure, an' in everything."

"I don't think so," he replied; "but at any rate not in everything—not in the heart, dear Mave—not in the heart."

"They say she's kind hearted, then," replied Mave.

"They do," said Con, "an' I don't know how it comes; but somehow every one loves her, and every one fears her at the same time. She asked me yestherday if I thought my father murdhered Sullivan."

"Oh! for God's sake, don't talk about it," said Mave, again getting pale; "I can't bear to hear it spoken of."

The Grey Stone—on a low ledge of which, nearly concealed from public view, our lovers had been sitting—was, in point of size, a very large rock of irregular size. After the last words, alluding to the murder, had been uttered, an old man, very neatly but plainly dressed, and bearing a pedlar's pack, came round from behind a projection of it, and approached them. From his position, it was all but certain that he must have overheard their whole conversation. Mave, on seeing him, blushed deeply, and Dalton himself felt considerably embarrassed at the idea that the stranger had been listening, and become acquainted with circumstances that were never designed for any other ears but their own.

The old man, on making his appearance, surveyed our lovers from head to foot with a curious and inquisitive eye—a circumstance which, taken in connection with his eaves-dropping, was not at all relished by young Dalton.

"I think you will know us again," said he in no friendly voice. "How long have you been sittin' behind the corner there?" he inquired.

"I hope I may know yez agin," replied the pedlar, for he was one; "I was jist long enough behind the corner to hear some of what you were spakin' about last."

"An' what was that?" said Dalton, putting him to the test.

"You were talkin' about the murdher of one Sullivan."

"We were," replied Dalton; "but I'll thank you to say nothing further about it; it's disagreeable to both of us—distressin' to both of us."

"I don't understand that," said the old pedlar; "how can it be so to either of you, if you're not consarned in it one way or other?"

"We are, then," said Dalton, with warmth; "the man that was killed was this girl's uncle, and the man that was supposed to take his life is my father. Maybe you understand me now?"

The blood left the cheeks of the old man, who staggered over to the ledge whereon they sat, and placed himself beside them.

"God of Heaven!" said he, with astonishment, "can this be thrue?"

"Now that you know what you do know," said Dalton, "we'll thank you to drop the subject."

"Well, I will," said he; "but first, for Heaven's sake, answer me a question or two. What's your name, avick?"

"Condy Dalton."

"Ay, Condy Dalton!—the Lord be about us! An' Sullivan—Sullivan was the name of the man that was murdhered, you say?"

"Yes, Bartley Sullivan—God rest him!"

"An' whisper—tell me—God presarve us!—was there anything done to your father, avick? What was done to him?"

"Why, he was taken up on suspicion soon afther it happened; but—but—there was nothing done: they had no proof against him, an' he was let go again."

"Is your father alive still?"

"He is livin'," replied Dalton; "but come—pass on, ould man," he added, bitterly; "I'll give you no more information."

"Well, thank you, dear," said the pedlar; "I ax your pardon for givin' you pain—an' the colleen here—ay, you're a Sullivan, then—an' a purty but sorrowful lookin' crature your are, God knows. Poor things! God pity you both an' grant you a betther fate than what appears to be before you! for I did hear a thrifle of your discoorse."

There was something singularly benevolent and kind in the old pedlar's voice, as he uttered the last words, and he had not gone many perches from the stone, when Dalton's heart relented as he reflected on his harsh and unfriendly demeanor towards him.

"That is a good ould man," he observed, "and I am now sorry that I spoke to him so roughly—there was kindness in his voice and in his eye as he looked upon us."

"There was," replied Mave, "and I think him a good ould man too. I don't think he would harm any one."

"Dear Mave," said Dalton, "I must now get home as soon as I can; I don't feel so well as I was—there is a chill upon me, and I'm afeared I won't have a comfortable night."

"And I can do nothing for you!" added Mave, her eyes filling with tears.

"I didn't thank you for that lock of hair you sent me by Donnel Dhu," he added. "It is here upon my heart, and I needn't say that if anything had happened me, or if anything should happen me, it an' that heart must go to dust together."

"You are too much cast down," she replied, her tears flowing fast, "an' it can't surely be otherwise; but, dear Con, let us hope for better days—an' put our trust in God's goodness."

"Farewell, dear Mave," he replied, "an may God bless and presarve you till I see you again!"

"An' may He send down aid to you all," she added, "an' give consolation to your breakin' hearts!"

An embrace, long, tender, and mournful, accompanied their words, after which they separated in sorrow and in tears, and with but little hope of happiness on the path of life that lay before them.

CHAPTER XIX. — Hanlon Secures the Tobacco-box.—Strange Scene at Midnight.

The hour so mysteriously appointed by Red Rody for the delivery of the Tobacco-box to Hanlon, was fast approaching, and the night though by no means so stormy as that which we have described on the occasion of that person's first visit to the Grey Stone, was nevertheless dark and rainy, with an occasional slight gust of wind, that uttered a dreary and melancholy moan, as it swept over the hedges. Hanlon, whose fear of supernatural appearances had not been diminished by what he had heard there before as well as on his way home, now felt alarmed at every gust of wind that went past him. He hurried on, however, and kept his nerves as firmly set as his terrors would allow him, until he got upon the plain old road which led directly to the appointed place. The remarkable interest which he had felt at an earlier stage of the circumstances that compose our narrative, was beginning to cool a little, when it was revived by his recent conversation with Red Rody concerning the Black Prophet, and the palpable contradictions in which he detected that person, with reference to the period when the Prophet came to reside in the neighborhood. His anxiety therefore, about the Tobacco-box began, as he approached the Grey Stone, to balance his fears; so that by the time he arrived there, he found himself cooler and firmer a good deal than when he first crossed the dark fields from home. Hanlon, in fact, had learned a good deal of the Prophet's real character, from several of those who had never been duped by his impostures; and the fact of ascertaining that the very article so essential to the completion of his purpose, had been found in the Prophet's house or possession, gave a fresh and still more powerful impulse to his determinations. The night, we have already observed, was dark, and the heavy gloom which covered the sky was dismal and monotonous. Several flashes of lightning, it is true, had shot out from the impervious masses of black clouds, that lay against each other overhead. These, however, only added terror to the depression which such a night and such a sky were calculated to occasion.

"I trust," thought Hanlon, as he approached the stone, "that there will be no disappointment, and that I won't have my journey on sich a dark and dismal night for nothing. How this red ruffian can have any authority over a girl like Sarah, is a puzzle that I can't make out."

It was just as these thoughts occurred to him that he arrived at the Stone, where he stood anxiously waiting and listening, and repeating his pater noster, as well as he could, for several minutes, but without hearing or seeing any one.

"I might have known," thought he, "that the rascal could bring about nothing of the kind, an' I am only a fool for heedin' him at all."

At this moment, however, he heard the noise of a light, quick footstep approaching, and almost immediately afterwards Sarah joined him.

"Well, I am glad you are come," said he, "for God knows when I thought of our last stand here, I was anything but comfortable."

"Why," replied Sarah, "what wor you afeard of? I hate a cowardly man, an' you are cowardly."

"Not where mere flesh and blood is consarned," he replied; "I'm afeard of neither man nor woman—but I wouldn't like to meet a ghost or spirit, may the Lord presarve us!"

"Why, now? What harm could a ghost or spirit do you? Did you ever hear that they laid hands on or killed any one?"

"No; but for all that, it's well known that several persons have died of fright, in consequence."

"Ay, of cowardliness; but it wasn't the ghost killed them. Sure the poor ghost only comes to get relief for itself—to have masses said; or, maybe, to do justice to some one that is wronged in this world. There's Jimmy Beatty, an' he lay three weeks of fright from seein' a ghost, an' it turned out when all was known, that the ghost was nothing more or less than Tom Martin's white-faced cow—ha! ha! ha!"

"At any rate, let us change the subject," said Hanlon; "you heard yourself the last night we wor here, what I'll never forget."

"We heard some noise like a groan, an' that was all; but who could tell what it was, or who cares either?"

"I, for one, do; but, dear Sarah, have you the box?"

"Why does your voice tremble that way for? Is it fear? bekaise if I thought it was, I wouldn't scruple much to walk home with' out another word, an' bring the box with me."

"You have it, then?"

"To be sure I have, an' my father an' Nelly is both huntin' the house for it."

"Why, what could your father want with it?"

"How can I tell?—an' only that I promised it to you, I wouldn't fetch it at all?"

"I thought you had given it up for lost; how did you get it again?"

"That's nothing to you, an' don't trouble your head about it. There it is now, an' I have kept my word; for while I live, I'll never break it if I can. Dear me, how bright that flash was!"

As Hanlon was taking the box out of her hand, a fearful flash of sheeted lightning opened out of a cloud almost immediately above them, and discovered it so plainly, that the letters P. M. were distinctly legible on the lid of it, and nearly at the same moment a deep groan was heard, as if coming-out of the rock.

"Father of Heaven!" exclaimed Hanlon, "do you hear that?"

"Yes," she replied, "I did hear a groan; but here, do you go—oh, it would be useless to ask you—so I must only do it myself; stand here an' I'll go round the rock; at any rate let us be sure that it is a ghost."

"Don't, Sarah," he exclaimed, seizing her arm; "for God's sake, don't—it is a spirit—I know it—don't lave me. I understand it all, an' maybe you will some day, too."

"Now," she exclaimed indignantly, and in an incredulous voice; "in God's name, what has a spirit to do with an old rusty Tobaccy-box? It's surely a curious box; there's my father would give one of his eyes to find it; an' Nelly, that hid it the other day, found it gone when she went to get it for him."

"Do you toll me so?" said Hanlon, placing it as he spoke in his safest pocket.

"I do," she replied; "an' only that I promised it to you, and would not break my word, I'd give it to my father; but I don't see myself what use it can be of to him or anybody."

Hanlon, despite of his terrors, heard this intelligence with the deepest interest—indeed, with an interest so deep, that he almost forgot them altogether; and with a view of eliciting from her as much information in connection with it as he could, he asked her to accompany him a part of the way home.

"It's not quite the thing," she replied, "for a girl like me to be walkin' with a young fellow at this hour; but as I'm not afeard of you, and as I know you are afeard of the ghost—if there is a ghost—I will go part of the way with you, although it does not say much for your courage to ask me."

"Thank you, Sarah; you are a perfect treasure."

"Whatever I was, or whatever I am, Charley, I can never be anything more to you than a mere acquaintance—I don't think ever we were much more—but what I want to tell you is, that if ever you have any serious notion of me, you must put it out of your head."

"Why so, Sarah?"

"Why so," she replied, hastily; "why, bekaise I don't wish it—isn't that enough for you, if you have spirit?"

"Well, but I'd like to know why you changed your mind."

"Ah," said she; "well, afther all, that's only natural—it is but raisonable; an' I'll tell you; in the first place, there's a want of manliness about you that I don't like—I think you've but little heart or feelin'. You toy with the girls—with this one and that one—an' you don't appear to love any one of them—in short, you're not affectionate, I'm afeard. Now, here am I, an' I can scarcely say, that ever you courted me like a man that had feelin'. I think you're revengeful, too; for I have seen you look black an' angry at a woman, before now. You never loved me, I know—I say I know you did not. There, then, is some of my raisons—but I'll tell you one more, that's worth them all. I love another now—ay," she added, with a convulsive sigh, "I love another; and, I know, Charley, that he can't love me—there's more lightnin'—what a flash! Oh, I didn't care this minute if it went through my heart."

"Don't talk so, Sarah."

"I know what's before me—disappointment—disappointment in everything—the people say I'm wild and very wicked in my temper—an' I am, too; but how could I be otherwise? for what did I ever see or hear undher our own miserable roof, but evil talk and evil deeds? A word of kindness I never got from my father or from Nelly; nothing but the bad word an' the hard blow—until now that she is afeard of me; but little she knew, that many a time when I was fiercest, an' threatened to put a knife into her, there was a quiver of affection in my heart; a yearnin', I may say, afther kindness, that had me often near throwin' my arms about her neck, and askin' her why she mightn't as well be kind as cruel to me; but I couldn't, bekaise I knew that if I did, she'd only tramp on me, an' despise me, an' tyrannize over me more and more."

She uttered these sentiments under the influence of deep feeling, checkered with an occasional burst of wild distraction, that seemed to originate from much bitterness of heart.

"Is it a fair question," replied Hanlon, whose character she had altogether misunderstood, having, in point of fact, never had an opportunity of viewing it in it's natural light; "is it a fair question to ask you who is it that you're in love wid?"

"It's not a fair question," she replied; "I know he loves another, an' for that raison I'll never breathe it to a mortal."

"Bekaise," he added, "if I knew, maybe I might be able to put in a good word for you, now and then, accordin' as I got an opportunity."

"For me!" she replied indignantly; "what! to beg him get fond o' me! Oh, its wondherful the maneness that's in a'most every one you meet. No," she proceeded, vehemently; "if he was a king on his throne, sooner than stoop to that, or if he didn't, or couldn't love me on my own account, I'd let the last drop o' my heart's blood out first. Oh, no!—no, no, no—ha! He loves another," she added, hastily; "he loves another!"

"An' do you know her?" asked Hanlon.

"Do I know her!" she replied; "do I know her! it's I that do; ay, an' I have her in my power, too; an' if I set about it, can prevent a ring from ever goin' on them. Ha! ha! Oh, ay; that divil, Sarah M'Gowan, what a fine character I have got! Well, well, good night, Charley! Maybe it's a folly to have the bad name for nothin'; at laist they say so. Ha! ha! Good-night; I'll go home. Oh, I had like to forgot; Red Body tould me he was spakin' to you about something that he says you can't but understhand yourself; and he desired me to get you, if I could, to join him in it. I said I would, if it was right an' honest; for I have great doubts of it bein' either the one or the other, if it comes from him. He said that it was both; but that it 'ud be a great piece of roguery to have it undone. Now, if it is what he says it is, help him in it, if you can; but if it isn't, have no hand in it. That's all I tould him I would say, an' that's all I do say. Keep out of his saicrets I advise you; an', above all things, avoid everything mane an' dishonest; for, Charley, I have a kind o' likin' for you that I can't explain, although I don't love you as a sweetheart. Good-night again!"

She left him abruptly, and at a rapid pace proceeded back to the Grey Stone, around which she walked, with a view of examining whether or not there might be any cause visible, earthly or otherwise, for the groans which they had heard; but notwithstanding a close and diligent search, she could neither see nor hear anything whatsoever to which they might possibly be ascribed.

She reached home about one o'clock, and after having sat musing for a time over the fire, which was raked for the night—that is, covered over with greeshaugh, or living ashes—she was preparing to sleep in her humble bed, behind a little partition wall about five feet high, at the lower end of the cabin, when her father, who had been moaning, and staring, and uttering abrupt exclamations in his sleep, at length rose up, and began deliberately to dress himself, as if with an intention of going out.

"Father," said she, "in the name of goodness, where are you goin' at this time o' the night?"

"I'm goin' to the murdhered man's grave," he replied, "I'm goin' to toll them all how he was murdhered, an' who it was that murdhered him."

A girl with nerves less firm would have felt a most deadly terror at such language, on perceiving, as Sarah at once did, that her father, whose eyes were shut, was fast asleep at the time. In her, however, it only produced such a high degree of excitement and interest, as might be expected from one of her ardent and excitable temperament, imbued as it was with a good deal of natural romance.

"In God's name," she said to herself, "what can this mean? Of late he hasn't had one hour's quiet rest at night; nothin' but startin' and shoutin' out, an' talkin' about murdher an' murdherers! What can it mane? for he's now walkin' in his sleep? Father," said she, "you're asleep; go back to bed, you had betther."

"No, I'm not asleep," he replied; "I'm goin' down to the grave here below, behind the rocks down in Glendhu, where the murdhered man is lyin' buried."

"An' what brings you there at this time o' the night?"

"Ha! ha!" he replied, uttering an exclamation of caution in a low, guarded voice—"what brings me?—whisht, hould your tongue, an' I'll tell you."

She really began to doubt her senses, notwithstanding the fact of his eyes being shut.

"Whisht yourself," she replied; "I don't want to hear anything about it; I have no relish for sich saicrets. I'm ready enough with my own hand, especially when there's a weapon in it—readier then ever I'll be again; but for all that I don't wish to hear sich saicrets. Are you asleep or awake?"

"I'm awake, of coorse," he replied.

"An' why are your eyes shut then? You're frightful, father, to look at; no corpse ever had sich a face as you have; your heavy brows are knit in sich a way; jist as if you were in agony; your cheeks are so white too, an' your mouth is down at the corners, that a ghost—ay, the ghost of the murdhered man himself—would be agreeable compared to you. Go to bed, father, if you're awake."

To all this he made no reply, but having dressed himself, he deliberately, and with great caution, raised the latch, and proceeded out at that dismal and lonely hour. Sarah, for a time, knew not how to act. She had often heard of sleep-walking, and she feared now, that if she awakened him, he might imagine that she had heard matters which he wished no ears whatever to hear; for the truth was, that some vague suspicions of a dreadful nature had lately entered her mind; suspicions, which his broken slumbers—his starts, and frequent exclamations during sleep, had only tended to confirm.

"I will watch him at all events," said she to herself, "and see that he comes to no ganger." She accordingly shut the door after her, and followed him pretty closely into the deep gloom of the silent and solitary glen. With cautious, but steady and unerring steps, he proceeded in the direction of the loneliest spot of it, which having reached, he went by a narrow and untrodden circuit—a kind of broken, but natural pathway—to the identical spot where the body, which Nelly had discovered, lay.

He then raised his hand, as if in caution, and whispered—"Whisht! here is where the murdhered man's body lies."

"I'll not do it," said Sarah, "I'll not do it; it would be mane and ungenerous to ax him a question that might make him betray himself."

At this moment the moon which had been for some time risen, presented a strange and alarming aspect. She seemed red as blood; and directly across her centre there went a black bar—a bar so ominously and intensely black, that it was impossible to look upon it without experiencing something like what one might be supposed to feel in the presence of a supernatural appearance; at the performance of some magic or unnatural rite, where the sorcerer, by the wickedness of his spell, forced her, as it were, thus to lend a dreadful and reluctant sanction to his proceedings.

Her father, however, proceeded: "Ay—who murdhered him, my lord? Why, my lord—hem—it was—Condy Dalton, an' I have another man to prove it along wid myself—one Rody Duncan; now Rody answer strong; swear home; mind yourself, Rody."

These words were spoken aside, precisely as one would address them when instructing any person to give a particular line of evidence. He then stooped down, and placed his hand upon the grave said, as if he were addressing the dead man:

"Ha! you sleep cool there, you guilty Villain! an' it wasn't my fault that the unfaithful an' dishonest sthrap that you got that for, didn't get as much herself. There you are, an' you'll tell no tales at all events! You know, Rody," he proceeded, "it was Dalton that murdhered him; mind that—but you're a coward at heart; as for myself there's nothing troubles me but that Tobaccy-Box; but you know nothing about that; may the divil confound me, at any rate, for not destroyin' it! an' that ould sthrap, Nelly, suspects something; for she's always ringin Providence into my ears; but if I had that box destroyed, I'd disregard Providence; if there is a Providence."

The words had barely proceeded out of his lips, when a peal of thunder, astonishingly loud, broke, as it were, over their very heads, having been preceded by a flash of lightning, so bright, that the long, well-defined grave was exposed, in all its lonely horrors, to Sarah's eye.

"That's odd, now," said she, "that the thunder should come as he said them very words; but thank God that it was Dalton that did the deed, for if it was himself he'd not keep it back now, when the truth would be sure to come out."

"It was he, my lord, and gentlemen of the jury," proceeded her father, "an' my conscience, my lord, during all this long time—"

He here muttered something which she could not understand, and after stooping down, and putting his hand on the grave a second time, he turned about and retraced his steps home. It appeared, however, that late as the hour was, there were other persons abroad as well as themselves, for Sarah could distinctly hear the footsteps of several persons passing along the adjoining road, past the Grey Stone, and she also thought that among the rest might be distinguished the voice of Red Rody Duncan. The Prophet quietly opened the door, entered as usual, and went to bed; Sarah having also retired to her own little sleeping place, lay for some time, musing deeply over the incidents of the night.

CHAPTER XX. — Tumults—Confessions of Murder.

The next morning opened with all the dark sultry rain and black cloudy drapery, which had, as we have already stated, characterized the whole season. Indeed, during the year we are describing, it was known that all those visible signs which prognosticate any particular description of weather, had altogether lost their significance. If a fine day came, for instance, which indeed was a rare case, or a clear and beautiful evening, it was but natural that after such a dark and dreary course of weather, the heart should become glad and full of hope, that a permanent change for the better was about to take place; but alas, all cheerful hope and expectation were in vain. The morrow's sun rose as before, dim and gloomy, to wade along his dismal and wintry path, without one glimpse of enlivening light from his rising to his setting.

We have already mentioned slightly, those outrages, to which the disease and misery that scourged the country in so many shapes had driven the unfortunate and perishing multitudes. Indeed, if there be any violation of the law that can or ought to be looked upon with the most lenient consideration and forbearance, by the executive authorities, it is that which takes place under the irresistible pressure of famine. And singular as it may appear, it is no less true, that this is a subject concerning which much ignorance prevails, not only throughout other parts of the empire, but even at home here in Ireland, with ourselves. Much for instance is said, and has been said, concerning what are termed "Years of Famine," but it is not generally known that since the introduction of the potato in this country, no year has ever past, which in some remote locality or other, has not been such to the unfortunate inhabitants. The climate of Ireland is so unsettled, its soil so various in quality and the potato so liable to injury from excess of either drought or moisture, that we have no hesitation in stating the startling fact of this annual famine as one we can vouch for, upon our personal knowledge, and against the truth of which we challenge contradiction. Neither does an autumn pass without a complaint peculiar to those who feed solely upon the new and unripe potato, and which, ever since the year '32 is known by the people as the potato cholera. With these circumstances the legislature ought to be acquainted, inasmuch as they are calamities that will desolate and afflict the country so long as the potato is permitted to be, as it unfortunately is, the staple food of the people. That we are subject in consequence of that fact, to periodical recurrences of dearth and disease, is well known and admitted; but that every season brings its partial scourge of both these evils to various remote and neglected districts in Ireland, has not been, what it ought long since to have been, an acknowledged and established fact in the sanatory statistics of the country. Indeed, one would imagine, that after the many terrible visitations which we have had from destitution and pestilence, a legislature sincerely anxious for the health and comfort of the people, would have devoted itself, in some reasonable measure, to the human consideration of such proper sumptuary and sanatory enactments, as would have provided not only against the recurrence of these evils, but for a more enlightened system of public health and cleanliness, and a better and more comfortable provision of food for the indigent and poor. As it is at present, provision dealers of all kinds, meal-mongers, forestallers, butchers, bakers, and hucksters, combine together, and sustain such a general monopoly in food, as is at variance with the spirit of all law and humanity, and constitutes a kind of artificial famine in the country; and surely; these circumstances ought not to be permitted, so long as we have a deliberative legislature, whose duty it is to watch and guard the health and morals of the people.

At the present period of our narrative, and especially on the gloomy morning following the Prophet's unconscious visit to the grave of the murdered man, the popular outrages had risen to an alarming height. Up to the present time occasional outbreaks, by small and detached groups of individuals, had taken place at night or before dawn, and rather in a timid or fugitive manner, than with the recklessness of men who assemble in large crowds, and set both law and all consequences at open defiance. Now, however, destitution and disease had wrought such woeful work among the general population, that it was difficult to know where or how to prescribe bounds to the impetuous resentment with which they expressed themselves against those who held over large quantities of food in order to procure high prices. At this moment the country, with its waste, unreaped crops, tying in a state of plashy and fermenting ruin, and its desolate and wintry aspect, was in frightful keeping with the appearance of the people when thus congregated together. We can only say, that the famine crowds of that awful year should have been seen in order to have been understood and felt. The whole country was in a state of dull but frantic tumult, and the wild crowds as they came and went in the perpetration of their melancholy outrages, were worn down by such starling evidences of general poverty and suffering, as were enough to fill the heart with fear as well as pity, even to look upon. Their cadaverous and emaciated aspects had something in them so wild and wolfish, and the fire of famine blazed so savagely in their hollow eyes, that many of them looked like creatures changed from their very humanity by some judicial plague, that had been sent down from Heaven to punish and desolate the land. And in truth there is no doubt whatsoever, that the intensity of their sufferings, and the natural panic which was occasioned by the united ravages of disease and famine, had weakened the powers of their understanding, and impressed upon their bearing and features an expression which seemed partly the wild excitement of temporary frenzy, and partly the dull, hopeless apathy of fatuity—a state to which it is well known that misery, sickness, and hunger, all together, had brought down the strong intellect and reason of the wretched and famishing multitudes. Nor was this state of feeling confined to those who were goaded by the frightful sufferings that prevailed. On the contrary, thousands became victims of a quick and powerful contagion which spread the insane spirit of violence at a rapid rate, affecting many during the course of the day, who in the early part of the morning had not partaken of its influence. To no other principle than this can we attribute the wanton and irrational outrages of many of the people. Every one acquainted with such awful visitations must know that their terrific realities cause them, by wild influences that run through the whole masses, to forget all the decencies and restraints of ordinary life, until fear and shame, and becoming respect for order, all of which constitute the moral safety of society—are thrown aside or resolved into the great tyrannical instinct of self-preservation, which, when thus stimulated, becomes what may be termed the insanity of desolation. We know that the most savage animals as well as the most timid will, when impelled by its ravenous clamors, alike forget every other appetite but that which is necessary for the sustainment of life. Urged by it alone, they will sometimes approach and assail the habitations of man, and, in the fury of the moment, expose themselves to his power, and dare his resentment; just as a famine mob will do, when urged by the same instinct, in a year of scarcity.

There is no beast, however, in the deepest jungle of Africa itself, so wild, savage and ferocious, as a human mob, when left to its own blind and headlong impulses. On the morning in question, the whole country was pouring forth its famished hordes to intercept meal-carts and provision vehicles of all descriptions, on their way to market or to the next sea-port for shipment; or to attack the granaries of provision dealers, and all who, having food in large quantities, refused to give it gratis, or at a nominal price to the poor. Carts and cars, therefore, mostly the property of unoffending persons, were stopped on the highways, there broken, and the food which they carried openly taken away, and, in case of resistance, those who had charge of them were severely beaten. Mills were also attacked and pillaged, and in many instances large quantities of flour and grain not only carried off, but wantonly and wickedly strewn about the streets and destroyed.

In all these acts of violence there was very little shouting; the fact being that the wretched people were not able to shout; unless on rare occasions; and sooth to say, their vociferations were then but a faint and feeble echo of the noisy tumults which in general characterize the proceedings of excited and angry crowds. Truly, those pitiable gatherings had their own peculiarities of misery. During the progress of the pillage, individuals of every age, sex, and condition—so far as condition can be applied to the lower classes—might be seen behind ditches, in remote nooks—in porches of houses, and many on the open highways and streets, eating, or rather gobbling up raw flour, or oat-meal; others, more fortunate, were tearing and devouring bread, with a fury, to which only the unnatural appetites of so many famished maniacs could be compared. As might be expected, most of these inconsiderate acts of license were punished by the consequences which followed them. Sickness of various descriptions, giddiness, retchings, fainting fits, convulsions, and in some cases, death itself, were induced by this wolfish and frightful gluttony on the part of the starving people. Others, however, who possessed more sense, and maintained a greater restraint over their individual sufferings, might be seen in all directions, hurrying home, loaded with provisions of the most portable descriptions, under which they tottered and panted, and sometimes fell utterly prostrate from recent illness or the mere exhaustion of want. Aged people, grey-haired old men, and old women bent with age, exhibited a wild and excited alacrity that was grievous to witness, while hurrying homewards—if they had a home, or if not, to the first friendly shelter they could get—a kind of dim exulting joy feebly blazing in their heavy eyes, and a wild sense of unexpected good fortune working in unnatural play upon the muscles of their wrinkled and miserable faces. The ghastly impressions of famine, however, were not confined to those who composed the crowds. Even the children were little living skeletons, wan and yellow, with a spirit of pain and suffering legible upon their fleshless but innocent features—while the very dogs, as was well observed, were not able to bark, unless they stood against a wall; for indeed, such of them as survived, were nothing but ribs and skin. At all events, they assisted in making up the terrible picture of general misery which the country at large presented. Both day and night, but at night especially, their hungry howlings could be heard over the country, or mingling with wailings which the people were in the habit of pouring over those whom the terrible typhus was sweeping away with such wide and indiscriminate fatality.

Our readers may now perceive, that the sufferings of these unhappy crowds, before they had been driven to these acts of violence, were almost beyond belief. At an early period of the season, when the potatoes could not be dug, miserable women might be seen early in the morning, and in fact, during all hours of the day, gathering weeds of various descriptions, in order to sustain life; and happy were they who could procure a few handfuls of young nettles, chicken-weed, sorrel, preshagh, buglass, or seaweed, to bring home as food, either for themselves or their unfortunate children. Others, again, were glad to creep or totter to stock-farms, at great distances across the country, in hope of being able to procure a portion of blood, which, on such melancholy occasions, is taken from the heifers and bullocks that graze there, in order to prevent the miserable poor from perishing by actual starvation and death.

Alas! little do our English neighbors know or dream of the horrors which attend a year of severe famine in this unhappy country. The crowds which kept perpetual and incessant siege to the houses of wealthy and even of struggling small farmers, were such! as scarcely any pen could describe. Neither can we render anything like adequate justice to the benevolence and charity—nay, we ought to say, the generosity and magnanimity of this and the middle classes in general, In no country on earth could such noble instances of self-denial and sublime humanity be witnessed. It has happened in thousands of instances that the last miserable morsel, the last mouthful of nourishing liquid, the last potato, or the last six-pence, has been divided with wretched and desolate beings who required it more, and this, too, by persons who, when that was gone, knew not to what quarter they could turn with a hope of replacing for themselves that which they had just shared in a spirit of such genuine and exalted piety.*

* It is as well to state here that the season described in this tale is the dreadful and melancholy one of 1817; and we may add, that in order to avoid the charge of having exaggerated the almost incredible sufferings of the people in that year, we have studiously kept our descriptions of them within the limits of truth. Dr. Cokkigan, in his able and very sensible pamphlet on "Fever and Famine as Cause and Effect in Ireland"—a pamphlet, by the way, which has been the means of conveying most important truths to statesmen, and which ought to be looked on as a great public benefit—has confirmed the accuracy of the gloomy pictures I was forced to draw. Here follow an extract or two:

"It is scarcely necessary to call to recollection the summer of 1810, cold and wet—corn uncut in November, or rotting in the sheaves on the ground—potatoes not ripened (and when unripe there cannot be worse food), containing more water than nutriment—straw at such an extravagant price as to render the obtaining of it for bedding almost impossible, and when procured, retaining from its half-fermented state, so much moisture, that the use was, perhaps, worse than the want of it. The same agent that destroyed the harvest spoiled the turf. Seldom had such a multiplication of evils come together. In some of the former years, although food and bedding were deficient, the portion saved was of good quality, and fuel was not wanting: but in 1815 every comfort that might have compensated for partial want was absent. This description applies to the two years of 1816 and 1817. In midsummer of 1817, the blaze of fever was over the entire country. It had burst forth in almost a thousand different points. Within the short space of a month, in the summer of 1817, the epidemic sprung forth in Tramore, Youghal, Kinsale, Tralee, and Clonmel, in Carrick-on-Suir, Iloscrea, Ballina, Castlebar, Belfast, Armagh, Omagh, Londonderry, Monasterevan, Tullamore and Slane. This simultaneous break-out shows that there must have been some universal cause."


"The poor were deprived of employment and were driven from the doors where before they had always received relief, lest they should introduce disease with them. Thus, destitution and fever continued in a vicious circle, each impelling the other, while want of presence of mind aggravated a thousandfold the terrible infliction. Of the miseries that attend a visitation of epidemic fever, few can form a conception. The mere relation of the scenes that occurred in the country, even in one of its last visitations, makes one shudder in reading them. As Barker and Cheyne observe in their report, 'a volume might be filled with instances of the distress occasioned by the visitation of fever in 1817.'"

"'On the road leading from Cork, within a mile of the town (Kanturk), I visited a woman laboring under typhus; on her left lay a child very ill, at the foot of the bed another child just able to crawl about, and on her right the corpse of a third child who had died two days previously, which the unhappy mother could not get removed.'—Letter from Dr. O'Leary, Kanturk.

"'Ellen Pagan, a young woman, whose husband was obliged, in order to seek employment, to leave her almost destitute in a miserable cabin, with three children, gave the shelter of her roof to a poor beggar who had fever. She herself caught the disease, and from the terror created in the neighborhood, was, with her three children, deserted—except that some person left a little water and milk at the window for the children,—one about four, the other about three years old, and the other an infant at her breast. In this way she continued for a week, when a neighbor sent her a loaf of bread, which was left in the window. Four days after this he grew uneasy about her, and one night having prepared some tea and bread, he set off to her ralief. When he arrived, the following scene presented itself:—In the window lay the loaf, where it had been deposited four days previously; in one corner of the cabin, on a little straw, without covering of any kind, lay the wretched mother, actually dying, and her infant dead by her side, for the want of that sustenance which she had not to give; on the floor lay the children, to all appearance dying also of cold and hunger. At first they refused to take anything, and he had to pour a little liquid down their throats—with the cautious administration of food they gradually recovered. The woman expired before the visitor quitted the house.'— Letter from Dr. Mucarthney, Monivae.

"'A man, his wife, and two children lay together in a fever. The man died in the night; his wife, nearly convalescent, was so terrified with his corpse in the same bed with her, that she relapsed, and died in two days after; the children recovered from fever, but the eldest lost his reason by the fright. Many other scenes have I witnessed, which would be too tedious to relate.'—Barker & Oheyne's Report.

"I know not of any visitation so much to be dreaded as epidemic fever; it is worse than the plague, for it lasts throughout all seasons. Cholera may seem more frightful, but it is in reality less destructive. It terminates rapidly in death, or in as rapid recovery. Its visitation, too, is short, and it leaves those who recover unimpaired in health and strength. Civil war, were it not for its crimes, would be, as far as regards the welfare of a country, a visitation less to be dreaded than epidemic fever."


"It is not possible, then, to form an exaggerated picture of the sufferings of a million and a half of people in these countries, in their convalescence from fever, deprived of, not only the comforts, but even the necessaries of life, with scanty food, and fuel, and covering, only rising from fever to slowly fall victims to those numerous chronic diseases that are sure to seize upon enfeebled constitutions. Death would be to many a more merciful dispensation than such a recovery."—Famine and Fever, as Clause and Effect in Ireland, &a., &o. By D. J. Cohkigan, Esq., M.D., M.K.C.S.B. Dublin: J. Fannin & Co., Grafton Street.

It was to such a state of general tumult that the Prophet and his family arose on the morning of the following day. As usual, he was grim and sullen, but on this occasion his face had a pallid and sunken look in it, which apparently added at least ten years to his age. There was little spoken, and after breakfast he prepared to go out. Sarah, during the whole morning, watched his looks, and paid a marked attention to every thing he said. He appeared, however, to be utterly unconscious of the previous night's adventure, a fact which his daughter easily perceived, and which occasioned her to feel a kind of vague compassion for him, in consequence of the advantage it might give Nelly over him; for of late she began to participate in her father's fears and suspicions of that stubborn and superstitious personage.

"Father," said she, as he was about to go out, "is it fair to ax where you are going?"

"It's neither fair nor foul," he replied; "but if it's any satisfaction to you to know, I won't tell you."

"Have you any objections then, that I should walk a piece of the way with you?"

"Not if you have come to your senses, as you ought, about what I mentioned to you."

"I have something to say to you," she replied, without noticing the allusion he had made; "something that you ought to know."

"An' why not mention it where we are?"

"Bekaise I don't wish her there to know it."

"Thank you, ma'am," replied Nelly; "I feel your kindness—an,' dear me, what a sight o' wisdom I'll lose by bein' kep' out o' the saicret—saicret indeed! A fig for yourself an' your saicret; maybe I have my saicret as well as you."

"Well, then," replied Sarah, "if you have, do you keep yours as I'll keep mine, and then we'll be aiquil. Come, father, for I must go from home too. Indeed I think this is the last day I'll be with either of you for some time—maybe ever."

"What do you mane?" said the father.

"Hut!" said the mother, "what a goose you are! Charley Hanlon, to be sure; I suppose she'll run off wid him. Oh, thin, God pity him or any other one that's doomed to be blistered wid you!"

Sarah flashed like lightning, and her frame began to work with that extraordinary energy which always accompanied the manifestation of her resentment.

"You will," said she, approaching the other—"you will, after your escape the other day; you—no, ah! no—I won't now; I forgot myself. Come, father,—come, come; my last quarrel with her is over."

"Ay," returned Nelly, as they went out, "there you go, an' a sweet pair you are—father and daughter!"

"Now, father," resumed Sarah, after they had got out of hearing, "will you tell me if you slep' well last night?"

"Why do you ax?" he replied; "to be sure I did."

"I'll tell you why I ax," she answered; "do you know that you went last night—in the middle of the night—to the murdhered man's grave, in the glen there?"

It is impossible to express the look of astonishment and dismay which he turned up on her at these words.

"Sarah!" he said, sternly; but she interrupted him.

"It's thruth," said she; "an I went with—"

"What are you spakin' about? Me go out, an' not know it! Nonsense!"

"You went in your sleep, she rejoined.

"Did I spake?" said he, with a black and; ghastly look. "What—what—tell me—eh? What did I say?"

"You talked a good deal, an' said that it was Condy Dalton that murdhered him, and that you had Red Rody to prove it."

"That was what I said?—eh, Sarah?"

"That's what you said, an' I thought it was only right to tell you."

"It was right, Sarah; but at the same time, at the peril of your life, never folly me there again. Of coorse, you know now that Sullivan is buried there."

"I do," said she; "but that's no great comfort, although it is to know that you didn't murdher him. At any rate, father, remember what I tould you about Condy Dalton. Lave him to God; an' jist that you may feel what you ought to feel on the subject, suppose you were in his situation—suppose for a minute that it was yourself that murdhered him—then ask, would you like to be dragged out from us and hanged, in your ould age, like a dog—a disgrace to all belongin' to you. Father, I'll believe that Condy Dalton murdhered him, when I hear it from his own lips, but not till then. Now, Good-bye. You won't find me at home when you come back, I think."

"Why, where are you goin'?"

"There's plenty for me to do," she replied; "there's the sick an' the dyin' on all hands about me, an' it's a shame for any one that has a heart in their body, to see their fellow-creatures gaspin' for want of a dhrop of cowld wather to wet their lips, or a hand to turn them where they lie. Think of how many poor sthrangers is lyin' in ditches an' in barns, an' in outhouses, without a livin' bein' a'most to look to them, or reach them any single thing they want; no, even to bring the priest to them, that they might die reconciled to the Almighty. Isn't it a shame, then, for me, an' the likes o' me, that has health an' strength, an' nothin' to do, to see my fellow-creatures dyin' on all hands about me, for want of the very assistance that I can afford them. At any rate, I wouldn't live in the house with that woman, an' you know that, an' that I oughtn't."

"But aren't you afeard of catchin' this terrible faver, that's takin' away so many, if you go among them'?"

"Afeard!" she replied; "no, father, I feel no fear either of that or anything else. If I die, I lave a world that I never had much happiness in, an' I know that I'll never be happy again in it. What then have I to fear from death? Any change for me must now be for the betther; at all events it can hardly be for the worse. No; my happiness is gone."

"What in Heaven's name is the matther with you?" asked her father; "an' what brings the big tears into your eyes that way?"

"Good-bye," said she; and as she spoke, a melancholy smile—at once sad and brilliant—irradiated her features. "It's not likely, father, that ever you'll see me under your roof again. Forgive me all my follies now, maybe it's the last time ever you'll have an opportunity."

"Tut, you foolish girl; it's enough to sicken one to hear you spake such stuff!"

She stood and looked at him for a moment, and the light of her smile gradually deepened, or rather faded away, until nothing remained but a face of exquisite beauty, deeply shadowed by anxiety and distress.

The Prophet pursued his way to Dick o' the Grange's, whither, indeed, he was bent; Sarah, having looked after him for a moment with a troubled face, proceeded in the direction of old Dalton's, with the sufferings and pitiable circumstances of whose family she was already but too well acquainted. Her journey across the country presented her with little else than records of death, suffering, and outrage. Along the roads the funerals were so frequent, that, in general, they excited no particular notice. They could, in fact scarcely be termed funerals, inasmuch as they were now nothing more than squalid and meagre-looking knots of those who were immediately related to the deceased, hurrying onward, with reckless speed and disturbed looks to the churchyard, where their melancholy burthen was hastily covered up with scarcely any exhibition of that simple and affecting decorum, or of those sacred and natural sorrows, which in other circumstances throw their tender but solemn light over the last offices of death. As she went along, new and more startling objects of distress attracted her notice. In dry and sheltered places she observed little temporary sheds, which, in consequence of the dreadful panic which always accompanies an epidemic in Ireland, had, to a timid imagination, something fearful about them, especially when it is considered that death and contagion were then at work in them in such terrible shapes. To Sarah, however, they had no terrors; so far from that, a great portion of the day was spent by her in relieving their wretched, and, in many cases, dying inmates, as well as she could. She brought them water, lit fires for them, fixed up their shed, and even begged aid for them from the neighbors around, and, as far as she could, did everything to ease their pain, or smooth their last moment by the consolation of her sympathy. If she met a family on the highway, worn with either illness or fatigue—perhaps an unhappy mother, surrounded by a helpless brood, bearing, or rather tottering under a couple of sick children, who were unable to walk—she herself, perhaps, also ill, as was often the case—she would instantly take one of them out 'of the poor creature's arms, and carry it in her own as far as she happened to go in that direction, utterly careless of contagion, or all other consequences.

In this way was she engaged towards evening when at a turn of the road she was met by a large crowd of rioters, headed by Red Rody, Tom Dalton, and many others in the parish who were remarkable only for a tendency to ruffianism and outrage; for we may remark here, that on occasions such as we are describing, it is generally those who have suffered least, and have but little or nothing to complain of, that lead the misguided and thoughtless people into crime, and ultimately into punishment.

The change that had come over young Dalton was frightful; he was not half his former size; his clothes were now in rags, his beard grown, his whole aspect and appearance that of some miscreant, in whom it was difficult to say whether the ruffian or the idiot predominated the most. He appeared now in his glory—frantic and destructive; but amidst all this drivelling impetuosity, it was not difficult to detect some desperate and unshaken purpose in his heavy but violent and bloodshot eyes.

Far different from him was Red Rody, who headed his own section of them with an easy but knowing swagger; now nodding his head with some wonderful purpose which nobody could understand; or winking at some acquaintance with an indefinite meaning, that set them a guessing at it in vain. It was easy to see that he was a knave, but one of those knaves on whom no earthly reliance could be placed, and who would betray to-morrow, for good reasons, and without a moment's hesitation, those whom he had corrupted to-day.

"Come, Tom," said Rody, "we have scattered a few of the meal-mongin' vagabonds; weren't you talkin' about that blessed voteen, ould Darby Skinadre? The villain that allowed Peggy Murtagh an' her child to starve to death! Aren't we to pay him a visit?"

Dalton coughed several times, to clear his throat; a settled hoarseness having given a frightful hollowness to his voice. "Ay," said he—"ha, ha, ha—by the broken-heart she died of—well—well—eh, Rody, what are we to do to him?"

Rody looked significantly at the crowd, and grinned, and touched his forehead, and pointed at Dalton.

"That boy's up to everything," said he; "he's the man to head us all—ha, ha!"

"Never mind laughin' at him, anyway," observed one of his friends; "maybe if you suffered what he did, poor fellow, an' his family too, that it's not fun you'd be makin' of him."

"Why," asked a new comer; "what's wrong wid him?"

"He's not at himself," replied the other, "ever since he had the faver; that, they say, an' the death of a very purty girl he was goin' to be married to, has put him beside himself, the Lord save us!"

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