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The Black Prophet: A Tale Of Irish Famine
by William Carleton
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We have said that the aspect of the country was depressing and gloomy; but we may add here, that these words convey but a vague and feeble idea of the state to which the people at large were reduced. The general destitution, the famine, sickness and death, which had poured such misery and desolation over the land, left, as might be expected, their terrible traces behind them. Indeed the sufferings which a year of famine and disease—and they usually either accompany or succeed each other—inflicts upon the multitudes of poor, are such as no human pen could at all describe, so as to portray a picture sufficiently faithful to the dreary and death-like spirit which should breath in it. Upon the occasion we write of, nothing met you, go where you might, but suffering, and sorrow, and death, to which we may add, tumult, and crime, and bloodshed. Scarcely a family but had lost one or more. Every face you met was an index of calamity, and bore upon it the unquestionable impressions of struggle and hardship. Cheerfulness and mirth had gone, and were forgotten. All the customary amusements of the people had died away. Almost every house had a lonely and deserted look; for it was known that one or more beloved beings had gone out of it to the grave. A dark, heartless spirit was abroad. The whole land, in fact, mourned, and nothing on which the eye could rest, bore a green or a thriving look, or any symptom of activity, but the churchyards, and here the digging and delving were incessant—at the early twilight, during the gloomy noon, the dreary dusk, and the still more funeral looking light of the midnight taper.

The first days of the assizes were now near, and among all those who awaited them, there was none whose fate excited so profound an interest as that of old Condy Dalton. His family had now recovered from their terrible sufferings, and were able to visit him in his prison—a privilege which was awarded to them as a mark of respect for their many virtues, and of sympathy for their extraordinary calamities and trials. They found him resigned to his fate, but stunned with wonder at the testimony on which he was likely to be convicted. The pedlar, who appeared to take so singular an interest in the fortunes of his family, sought and obtained a short interview with him, in which he requested him to state, as accurately as he could remember, the circumstances on which the prosecution was founded, precisely as they occurred. This he did, closing his account by the usual burthen of all his conversation ever since he went to gaol:

"I know I must suffer; but I think nothing of myself, only for the shame it will bring upon my family."

Sarah's unexpected illness disconcerted at least one of the projects of Donnel Dhu. There were now only two days until the assizes, and she was as yet incapable of leaving her bed, although in a state of convalescence. This mortified the Prophet very much, but his subtlety and invention never abandoned him. It struck him that the most effectual plan now would be—as Sarah's part in aiding to take away Mave was out of the question—to merge the violence to which he felt they must resort, into that of the famine riots; and under the character of one of these tumults, to succeed, if possible, in removing Mave from her father's house, ere her family could understand the true cause of her removal. Those who were to be engaged in this were, besides, principally strangers, to whom neither Mave nor her family were personally known; and as a female cousin of hers—an orphan—had come to reside with them until better times should arrive, it would be necessary to have some one among the party who knew Mave sufficiently to make no mistake as to her person. For this purpose he judiciously fixed upon Thomas Dalton, as the most appropriate individual to execute this act of violence against the very family who were likely to be the means of bringing his father to a shameful death. This young man had not yet recovered the use of his reason, so as to be considered sane. He still roved about as before, sometimes joining the mobs, and leading them on to the outrage, and sometimes sauntering in a solitary mood, without seeming altogether conscious of what he did or said. To secure his co-operation was a matter of little or difficulty, and the less so as he heard, with infinite satisfaction, that Dalton was perpetually threatening every description of vengeance against the Sullivans, about to be tried, and very likely to suffer for the murder.

It was now the day but one previous to the commencement of the assizes, and our readers will be kind enough to accompany us to the Grange, or rather to the garden of the Grange, at the gate of which our acquaintance Red Rody is knocking. He has knocked two or three times, and sent, on each occasion, Hanlon, old Dick, young Dick, together with all the component parts of the establishment, to a certain territory, where, so far as its legitimate historians assure us, the coldness of the climate has never been known to give any particular offence.

"I know he's inside, for didn't I see him goin' in—well, may all the devils—hem—oh, good morrow, Charley—troth you'd make a good messenger for death. I'm knocking here till I have lost the use of my arm wid downright fatigue."

"Never mind, Rody, you'll recover it before you're twice married—come in." They then entered. "Well, Rody, what's the news?"

"What the news, is it? Why then is anything in the shape of news—of good news I mean—to be had in such a counthry as this? Troth it's a shame for any one that has health an' limbs to remain in it. An' now that you're answered, what's the news yourself, Charley? I hope that the Drivership's safe at last, I thought I was to sleep at home in my comfortable berth last—"

"Not now till afther the 'sizes, Rody."

"The master's goin' to them? bekaise I heard he wasn't able."

"He's goin', he says, happen what may; he thinks it's his last visit to them, and I agree wid him—he'll soon have a greater 'sizes and a different judge to meet."

"Ay, Charley, think of that now; an' tell me, he sleeps in Ballynafail, as usual; eh, now?"

"He does of course."

"An' Jemmy Branigan goes along wid him?"

"Are you foolish, Kody? Do you think he could live widout him?"

"Well, I b'lieve not. Throth, whenever the ould fellow goes in the next world, there'll be no keepin' Jemmy from him. Howandiver, to dhrop that. Isn't these poor times, Charley, an' isn't this a poor counthry to live in—or it would be nearer the truth to say starve in?"

"No, but it would be the truth itself," replied the other. "What is there over the whole counthry but starvation and misery?"

"Any dhrames about America since, Charley? eh, now?"

"Maybe ay, and maybe no, Rody. Is it true that Tom Dalton threatens all kinds of vengeance on the Sullivans?"

"Ay, is it, an' the whole counthry says that he's as ready to knock one o' them on the head as ever the father before him was. They don't think the betther of the ould man for it; but what do you mane by 'maybe ay, an' maybe no,' Charley?"

"What do you mane by axin' me?"

Each looked keenly for some time at the other as he spoke, and after this there was a pause. At length, Hanlon, placing his hand upon Rody's shoulder, replied:

"Rody, it won't do. I know the design—and I tell you now that one word from my lips could have you brought up at the assizes—tried—and I won't say the rest. You're betrayed!"

The ruffian's lip fell—his voice faltered, and he became pale.

"Ay!" proceeded the other, "you may well look astonished—but listen, you talk about goin' to America—do you wish to go?"

"Of coorse I do," replied Body, "of coorse—not a doubt of it."

"Well," proceeded Hanlon again, "listen still! your plan's discovered, you're betrayed; but I can't tell you who betrayed you, I'm not at liberty. Now listen, I say, come this way. Couldn't you an' I ourselves do the thing—couldn't we make the haul, and couldn't we cut off to America without any danger to signify, that is, if you can be faithful?"

"Faithful!" he exclaimed. "By all the books that was ever opened an' shut, I'm thruth and honesty itself, so I am—howandiver, you said I was betrayed?"

"But I can't tell you the man that toald me. Whether you're able to guess at him or not, I don't know; but the thruth is, Rody, I've taken a likin' to you—an' if you'll just stand the trial I'm goin' to put you to, I'll be a friend to you—the best you ever had too."

"Well, Charley," said the other, plucking up courage a little, for the fellow was a thorough coward, "what is the thrial?"

"The man," continued Hanlon, "that betrayed you gave me one account of what you're about; but whether he tould me thruth or not I don't know till I hear another, an' that's yours. Now, you see clearly, Rody, that I'm up to all as it is, so you need not be a bit backward in tellin' the whole thruth. I say you're in danger, an' it's only trustin' to me—mark that—by trustin' faithfully to me that you'll get out of it; an', plaise the fates, I hope that, before three mouths is over, we'll be both safe an' comfortable in America. Do you undherstand that? I had my dhrames, Rody; but if I had, there must be nobody but yourself and me to know them."

"It wasn't I that first thought of it, but Donnel Dhu," replied Kody; "I never dreamt that he'd turn thraitor though."

"Don't be sayin' to-morrow or next day that I said he did," replied Hanlon. "Do you mind me now? A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse."

Rody, though cowardly and treacherous, was extremely cunning, and upon turning the matter over in his mind, he began to dread, or rather to feel that Hanlon had so far over-reached him. Still it might be possible, he thought, that the prophet had betrayed him, and he resolved to put a query to his companion that would test his veracity; after which he would leave himself at liberty to play a double game, if matters should so fall out as to render it necessary.

"Did the man that tould you everything," he asked, "tell you the night that was appointed for this business?"

Hanlon felt this was a puzzler, and that he might possibly commit himself by replying in the affirmative.

"No," he replied, "he didn't tell me that."

"Ah, ha!" thought his companion, "I see whereabouts you are."

He disclosed, however, the whole plot, with the single exception of the night appointed for the robbery, which, in point of date, he placed in his narrative exactly a week after the real time.

"Now," he said to himself, "so far I'm on the safe side; still, if he has humbugged me, I've paid him in his own coin. Maybe the whole haul, as he calls it, may be secured before they begin to prepare for it."

Hanlon, however, had other designs. After musing a little, they sauntered along the garden walks, during which he proposed a plan of their own for the robbery of Henderson; and so admirably was it concocted, and so tempting to the villainous cupidity of Duncan, that he expressed himself delighted from the commencement of its fancied execution until their ultimate settlement in America.

"It was a treacherous thing, I grant, to betray you, Rody," said Hanlon; "an' if I was in your place, I'd give him tit for tat. An', by the way, talkin' of the Prophet—not that I say it was he betrayed you—for indeed now it wasn't—bad cess to me if it was—I think you wanst said you knew more about him than I thought."

"Ah, ha," again thought Rody, "I think I see what you're afther at last; but no matther, I'll keep my eye on you. Hut, ay did I," he replied; "but I forget now what's this it was. However, I'll try if I can remember it; if I do, I'll tell you."

"You an' he will hang that murdherin' villain, Dalton—"

"I'm afeard o' that," replied the other; "an' for my part, I'd as soon be out of the thing altogether; however, it can't be helped now.'"

"Isn't it sthrange, Rody, how murdher comes out at last?" observed Hanlon; "now there's that ould man, an' see, after twenty years or more, how it comes against him. However, it's not a very pleasant subject, so let it dhrop. Here's Masther Richard comin' through the private gate," he added; "but if you slip down to my aunt's to-night, we'll have a glass of something that'll do us no harm at any rate, and we can talk more about the other business."

"Very well," replied Rody, "I'll be down, so goodbye; an' whisper, Charley," he added, putting on a broad grin; "don't be too sure that I tould you a single word o' thruth about the rob—hem—ha, ha! take care of yourself—good people is scarce you know—ha, ha, ha!"

He then left Hanlon in a state of considerable doubt as to the discovery he had made touching the apprehended burglary; and his uncertainty was the greater, inasmuch as he had frequently heard the highest possible encomiums lavished upon Duncan's extraordinary powers of invention and humbug.

Young Henderson, on hearing these circumstances, did not seriously question their truth; neither did they in the slightest degree shake his confidence in the intentions of the Prophet with respect to Mave Sullivan. Indeed, he argued very reasonably and correctly, that the man who was capable of the one act, would have little hesitation to commit the other. This train of reflection, however, he kept to himself, for it is necessary to state here, that Hanlon was not at all in the secret of the plot against Mave. Henderson had, on an earlier occasion sounded him upon it, but perceived at once that his scruples could not be overcome, and that of course it would be dangerous to repose confidence in him.

The next evening was that immediately preceding the assizes, and it was known that Dalton's trial was either the second or third on the list, and must consequently come on, on the following day. The pedlar and Hanlon sat in a depressed and melancholy mood at the fire; an old crone belonging to the village, who had been engaged to take care of the house during the absence of Hanlon's aunt, sat at the other side, occasionally putting an empty dudeen into her mouth, drawing it hopelessly, and immediately knocking the bowl of it in a fretful manner, against the nail of her left thumb.

"What's the matther, Ailey?" asked the pedlar; "are you out o' tobaccy?"

"Throth it's time for you to ax—ay am I; since I ate my dinner, sorra puff I had."

"Here then," he replied, suiting the action to the word, and throwing a few halfpence into her lap; "go to Peggy Finigan's an' buy yourself a couple of ounces, an' smoke rings round you; and listen to me, go down before you come back to Bamy Keeran's an' see whether he has my shoes done or not, an' tell him from me, that if they're not ready for me tomorrow mornin', I'll get him exkummunicated."

When the crone had gone out, the pedlar proceeded:

"Don't be cast down yet, I tell you; there's still time enough, an' they may be here still."

"Be here still! why, good God! isn't the thrial to come on to-morrow, they say?"

"So itself; you may take my word for it, that even if he's found guilty, they won't hang him, or any man of his years."

"Don't be too sure o' that," replied Hanlon; "but indeed what could I expect afther dependin' upon a foolish dhrame?"

"Never mind; I'm still of the opinion that everything may come about yet. The Prophet's wife was with Father Hanratty, tellin' him something, an' he is to call here early in the mornin'; he bid me tell you so."

"When did you see him?"

"To day at the cross roads, as he was goin' to a sick call.

"But where's the use o' that, when they're not here? My own opinion is, that she's either sick, or if God hasn't said it, maybe dead. How can we tell if ever she has seen or found the man you sent her for? Sure, if she didn't, all's lost."

"Throth, I allow," replied the pedlar, "that things is in a distressin' state with us; however, while there's life there's hope, as the Doctor says. There must be something extraordinary wrong to keep them away so long, I grant—or herself, at any rate; still, I say again, trust in God. You have secured Duncan, you say; but can you depend on the ruffian?"

"If it was on his honesty, I could not, one second, but I do upon his villainy and love of money. I have promised him enough, and it all depends on whether he'll believe me or not."

"Well, well," observed the other, "I wish things had a brighter look up. If we fail, I won't know what to say. We must only thry an' do the best we can, ourselves."

"Have you seen the agint since you gave him the petition?" asked Hanlon.

"I did, but he had no discoorse with the Hendherson's; and he bid me call on him again."

"I dunna what does he intend to do?"

"Hut, nothing. What 'id he do? I'll go bail, he'll never trouble his head about it more; at any rate I tould him a thing."

"Very likely he won't," replied Hanlon; "but what I'm thinkin' of now, is the poor Daltons. May God in his mercy pity an' support them this night!"

The pedlar clasped his hands tightly as he looked up, and said "Amen!"

"Ay," said he, "it's now, Charley, whin I think of them, that I get frightened about our disappointment, and the way that everything has failed with us. God pity them, I say, too!"

The situation of this much tried family, was, indeed, on the night in question, pitiable in the extreme. It is true, they had now recovered, or nearly so, the full enjoyment of their health, and were—owing, as we have already said, to the bounty of some unknown friend—in circumstances of considerable comfort. Dalton's confession of the murder had taken away from them every principle upon which they could rely, with one only exception. Until the moment of that confession, they had never absolutely been in possession of the secret cause of his remorse—although, it must be admitted, that, on some occasions, the strength of his language and the melancholy depth of his sorrow, filled them with something like suspicion. Still such they knew to be the natural affection and tenderness of his heart, his benevolence and generosity, in spite of his occasional bursts of passion, that they could not reconcile to themselves the notion that he had ever murdered a fellow creature. Every one knows how slow the heart of wife or child is to entertain such a terrible suspicion against a husband or a parent, and that the discovery of their guilt comes upon the spirit with a weight of distress and agony that is great in proportion to the confidence felt in them.

The affectionate family in question had just concluded their simple act of evening worship, and were seated around a dull fire, looking forward in deep dejection to the awful event of the following day. The silence that prevailed was only broken by an occasional sob from the girls, or a deep sigh from young Con, who, with his mother, had not long been returned from Ballynafail, where they had gone to make preparations for the old man's defence. His chair stood by the fire, in its usual place, and as they looked upon it from time to time, they could not prevent their grief from bursting out afresh. The mother, on this occasion, found the usual grounds for comfort taken away from both herself and them—we mean, the husband's innocence. She consequently had but one principle to rely on—that of single dependence upon God, and obedience to His sovereign will, however bitter the task might be, and so she told them.

"It's a great thrial to us, children," she observed; "an' it's only natural we should feel it. I do not bid you to stop cryin', my poor girls, because it would be very strange if you didn't cry. Still, let us not forget that it's our duty to bow down humbly before whatever misfortune—an' this is indeed a woeful one—that it pleases God in His wisdom (or, may be, in His mercy), to lay in our way. That's all we can do now, God help us—an' a hard thrial it is—for when we think of what he was to us—of his kindness—his affection!——"

Her own voice became infirm, and, instead of proceeding, she paused a moment, and then giving one long, convulsive sob, that rushed up from her very heart, she wept out long and bitterly. The grief now became a wail; and were it not for the presence of Con, who, however, could scarcely maintain a firm voice himself, the sorrow-worn mother and her unhappy daughters would have scarcely known when to cease.

"Mother dear!" he exclaimed—"what use is in this? You began with givin' us a good advice, an' you ended with settin' us a bad example! Oh, mother, darlin', forgive me the word—never, never since we remember anything, did you ever set us a bad example."

"Con dear, I bore up as long as I could," she replied, wiping her eye; "but you know, after all, nature's nature, an' will have its way. You know, too, that this is the first tear I shed, since he left us."

"I know," replied her son, laying her careworn cheek over upon his bosom, "that you are the best mother that ever breathed, an' that I would lay down my life to save your heart from bein' crushed, as it is, an' as it has been."

She felt a few warm tears fall upon her face as he spoke; and the only reply she made was, to press him affectionately to her heart.

"God's merciful, if we're obedient," she added, in a few moments; "don't you remember, that when Abraham was commanded to kill his only son, he was ready to obey God, and do it; and don't you remember that it wasn't until his very hand was raised, with the knife in it, that God interfered. Whisht," she continued, "I hear a step—who is it? Oh, poor Tom!"

The poor young man entered as she spoke; and after looking about him for some time, placed himself in the arm chair.

"Tom, darlin'," said his sister Peggy, "don't sit in that—that's our poor father's chair; an' until he sits in it again, none of us ever will."

"Nobody has sich a right to sit in it as I have," he replied, "I'm a murdherer."

His words, his wild figure, and the manner in which he uttered them, filled them with alarm and horror.

"Tom, dear," said his brother, approaching him, "why do you speak that way?—you're not a murdherer!"

"I am!" he replied; "but I haven't done wid the Sullivans yet, for what they're goin' to do—ha, ha, ha!—oh, no. It's all planned; an' they'll suffer, never doubt it."

"Tom," said Mary, who began to fear that he might, in some wild paroxysm, have taken the life of the unfortunate miser, or of some one else; "if you murdhered any one, who was it?"

"Who was it?" he replied; "if you go up to Curraghbeg churchyard, you'll find her there; the child's wid her—but I didn't murdher the child, did I?"

On finding that he alluded only to the unfortunate Peggy Murtagh, they recovered from the shock into which his words had thrown them. Tom, however, appeared exceedingly exhausted and feeble, as was evident from his inability to keep himself awake. His head gradually sank upon his breast, and in a few minutes he fell into a slumber. "I'll put him to bed," said Con; "help me to raise him."

They lifted him up, and a melancholy sight it was to see that face, which had once been such a noble specimen of manly beauty, now shrunk away into an expression of gaunt and haggard wildness, that was painful to contemplate. His sisters could not restrain their tears, on looking at the wreck that was before them; and his mother, with a voice of deep anguish, exclaimed—

"My brave, my beautiful boy, what, oh, what has become of you? Oh, Tom, Tom," she added—"maybe it's well for you that you don't know the breakin' hearts that's about you this night—or the bitter fate that's over him that loved you so well."

As they turned him about, to take off his cravat, he suddenly raised his head, and looking about him, asked—

"Where's my father gone?—I see you all about me but him—where's my fath—"

Ere the words were pronounced, however, he was once more asleep, and free for a time from the wild and moody malady which oppressed him.

Such was the night, and such were the circumstances and feelings that ushered in the fearful day of Condy Dalton's trial.



CHAPTER XXIX. — A Picture of the Present—Sarah Breaks her Word.

The gray of a cold frosty morning had begun to dawn, and the angry red of the eastern sky gradually to change into that dim but darkening aspect which marks a coming tempest of snow, when the parish priest, the Rev. Father Hanratty, accompanied by Nelly M'Gowan, passed along the Ballynafail road, on their way to the Grange, for the purpose of having a communication with Charley Hanlon. It would, indeed, be impossible to describe a morning more strongly marked than the one in question, by that cold and shivering impression of utter misery which it is calculated to leave on any mind, especially when associated with the sufferings of our people. The breeze was keen and so cutting, that one felt as if that part of the person exposed to it had undergone the process of excoriation, and when a stronger blast than usual swept over the naked and desolate-looking fields, its influence actually benumbed the joints, and penetrated the whole system with a sensation that made one imagine the very marrow within the bones was frozen.

They had not proceeded far beyond the miserable shed where Sarah, in the rapid prostration of typhus, had been forced to take shelter, when, in passing a wretched cabin by the roadside, which, from its open door and ruinous windows, had all the appearance of being uninhabited, they heard the moans of some unhappy individual within, accompanied, as it were, with something like the low feeble wail of an infant.

"Ah," said the worthy priest, "this, I fear, is another of those awful cases of desertion and death that are too common in this terrible and scourging visitation. We must not pass here without seeing what is the matther, and rendering such assistance as we can."

"Wid the help o' God, my foot won't cross the threshel," replied Nelly—"I know it's the sickness—God keep it from us!—an' I won't put myself in the way o' it."

"Don't profain the name of the Almighty, you wretched woman," replied the priest, alighting from his horse; "it is always His will and wish, that in such trials as these you should do whatever you can for your suffering fellow-creatures."

"But if I should catch it," the other replied, "what 'ud become o' me? mightn't I be as bad as they are in there; an' maybe in the same place, too; an' God knows I'm not fit to die."

"Stay where you are," said the priest, "until I enter the house, and if your assistance should be necessary, I shall command you to come in."

"Well, if you ordher me," replied the superstitious creature, "that changes the case. I'll be then undher obadience to my clargy."

"If you had better observed the precepts of your religion, and the injunctions of your clergy, wretched woman, you would not be the vile creature you are to-day," he replied, as he hooked his horse's bridle upon a staple in the door-post, and entered the cabin.

"Oh, merciful father, support me!" he exclaimed, "what a sight is here! Come in at once," he added, addressing himself to Nelly; "and if you have a woman's heart within you, aid me in trying what can be done."

Awed by his words, but with timidity and reluctance, she approached the scene of appalling misery which there lay before them. But how shall we describe it? The cabin in which they stood had been evidently for some time deserted, a proof that its former humble inmates had been all swept off by typhus; for in these peculiar and not uncommon cases, no other family would occupy the house thus left desolate, so that the cause of its desertion was easily understood. The floor was strewed in some places with little stopples of rotten thatch, evidently blown in by the wind of the previous night; the cheerless fire-place was covered with clots of soot, and the floor was all spattered over with the black shining moisture called soot-drops, which want of heat and habitation caused to fall from the roof. The cold, strong blast, too, from time to time, rushed in with wild moans of desolation, that rose and fell in almost supernatural tones, and swept the dead ashes and soot from the fireplace, and the rotten thatch from the floor, in little eddies that spun about until they had got into some nook or corner where the fiercer strength of the blast could not reach them. Stretched out in this wretched and abandoned hut, lay before the good priest and his companion, a group of misery, consisting of both the dying and the dead—to wit, a mother and her three children. Over in the corner, on the right hand side of the fire-place, the unhappy and perishing creature lay, divided, or rather torn asunder, as it were, by the rival claims of affection. Lying close to her cold and shivering breast was an infant of about six months old, striving feebly, from time to time, to draw from that natural source of affection the sustenance which had been dried up by chilling misery and want. Beside her, on the left, lay a boy—a pale, emaciated boy—about eight years old, silent and motionless, with the exception that, ever and anon, he turned round his heavy blue eyes as if to ask some comfort or aid, or even some notice from his unfortunate mother, who, as if conscious of these affectionate supplications, pressed his wan cheek tenderly with her fingers, to intimate to him, that as far as she could, she responded to, and acknowledged these last entreaties of the heart; whilst, again, she felt her affections called upon by the apparently dying struggles of the infant that was, in reality, fast perishing at the now-exhausted fountain of its life. Between these two claimants was the breaking heart of the woeful mother divided, but the alternations of her love seemed now almost wrought up to the last terrible agonies of mere animal instinct, when the sufferings are strong in proportion to that debility of reason which supervenes in such deaths as arise from famine, or under those feelings of indescribable torture which tore her affection, as it were, to pieces, and paralyzed her higher powers of moral suffering. Beyond the infant again, and next the wall, lay a girl, it might be about eleven, stretched, as if in sleep, and apparently in a state of composure that struck one forcibly, when contrasted, from its utter stillness, with the yet living agonies by which she was surrounded. It was evident, from the decency with which the girl's thin scanty covering was arranged, and the emaciated arms placed by her side, that the poor parent had endeavored, as well as she could, to lay her out; and, oh, great God! what a task for a mother, and under what circumstances must it have been performed! There, however, did the corpse of this fair and unhappy child lie; her light and silken locks blown upon her still and death-like features by the ruffian blast, and the complacency which had evidently characterized her countenance when in life, now stamped by death, with the sharp and wan expression of misery and the grave. Thus surrounded lay the dying mother, and it was not until the priest had taken in, at more than one view, the whole terrors of this awful scene, that he had time to let his eyes rest upon her countenance and person. When he did, however, the history, though a fearful one, was, in her case, as indeed in too many, legible at a glance, and may be comprised in one word—starvation.

Father Hanratty was a firm minded man, with a somewhat rough manner, but a heart natural and warm. After looking upon her face for a few moments, he clasped, his hands closely together, and turning up his eyes to Heaven, he exclaimed:

"Great God, guide and support me in this trying scene!"

And, indeed, it is not to be wondered at that he uttered such an exclamation. There lay in the woman's eyes—between her knit and painful eye-brows, over her shrunk upper forehead, upon her sharp cheek-bones, and along the ridge of her thin, wasted nose—there lay upon her skeleton arms, pointed elbows, and long-jointed fingers, a frightful expression, at once uniform and varied, that spoke of gaunt and yellow famine in all its most hideous horrors. Her eyeballs protruded even to sharpness, and as she glared about her with a half conscious and half-instinctive look, there seemed a fierce demand in her eye that would have been painful, were it not that it was occasionally tamed down into something mournful and imploring, by a recollection of the helpless beings that were about her. Stripped, as she then was, of all that civilized society presents to a human being on the bed of death—without friends, aid of any kind, comfort, sympathy, or the consolations of religion—she might be truly said to have sunk to the mere condition of animal life—whose uncontrollable impulses had thus left their startling and savage impress upon her countenance, unless, as we have said, when the faint dawn of consciousness threw a softer and more human light into her wild features.

"In the name and in the spirit of God's mercy," asked the priest, "if you have the use of your tongue or voice, tell me what the matter is with you or your children? Is it sickness or starvation?"

The sound of a human voice appeared to arrest her attention, and rouse her a little. She paused, as it were, from her sufferings, and looked first at the priest, and then at his companion—but she spoke not. He then repeated the question, and after a little delay he saw that her lips moved.

"She is striving to speak," said he, "but cannot. I will stoop to her."

He repeated the question a third time, and, stooping, so as to bring his ear near her mouth, he could catch, expressed very feebly and indistinctly, the word—hunger. She then made an effort, and bent down her mouth to the infant which now lay still at her breast. She felt for its little heart, she felt its little lips—but they were now chill and motionless; its little hands ceased to gather any longer around her breast; it was cold—it was breathless—it was dead! Her countenance now underwent a singular and touching change—a kind of solemn joy—a sorrowful serenity was diffused over it. She seemed to remember their position, and was in the act, after having raised her eyes to heaven, of putting round her hand to feel for the boy who lay on the other side, when she was seized with a short and rather feeble spasm, and laying down her head in its original position between her children, she was at last freed from life and all the sufferings which its gloomy lot had inflicted upon her and those whom she loved.

The priest, seeing that she was dead, offered up a short but earnest prayer for the repose of her soul, after which he turned his attention to the boy.

"The question now is," he observed to his companion, "can we save this poor, but interesting child?"

"I hardly think it possible," she replied; "doesn't your reverence see that death's workin' at him—and an' aisey job he'll have of the poor thing now."

"Hunger and cold have here done awful work," said Father Hanratty, "as they have and will in many other conditions similar to this. I shall mount my horse, and if you lift the poor child up, I will wrap him as well as I can in my great coat,"—which, by the way, he stripped off him as he spoke. He then folded it round the boy, and putting him into Nelly's arms, was about to leave the cabin, when the child, looking round him for a moment, and then upon his mother, made a faint struggle to get back.

"What is it, asthore?" asked the woman; "what is it you want?"

"Lave me wid my mother," he said; "let me go to her; my poor father's dead, an' left us—oh! let me stay with her."

The poor boy's voice was so low and feeble, that it was with difficulty she heard the words, which she repeated to the priest.

"Dear child," said the latter, "we are bringing you to where you will get food and drink, and a warm bed to go to, and you will get better, I hope."

And as he took the helpless and innocent sufferer into his arms, after having fixed himself in the saddle, the tears of strong compassion ran down his cheeks.

"He is as light as a feather, poor thing," exclaimed the kind-hearted man; "but I trust in heaven we may save him yet."

And they immediately hurried onward to the next house, which happened to be that of our friend Jerry Sullivan, to the care of whose humane and. affectionate family they consigned him.

We cannot dwell here upon that which every reader can anticipate; it is enough to say that the boy with care recovered, and that his unfortunate mother with her two children received an humble grave in the nearest churchyard, beyond the reach of the storms and miseries of life forever.

On reaching the Grange, or rather the house now occupied by widow Hanlon, the priest having sent for Charley, into whose confidence he had for some time been admitted, had a private conference, of considerable length, with him and the pedlar; after which, Nelly was called in, as it would seem, to make some disclosure connected with the subject they were discussing. A deep gloom, however, rested upon both Hanlon and the pedlar; and it was sufficiently evident that whatever the import of Nelly M'Gowan's communication may have been, it was not of so cheering a nature as to compensate for the absence of widow Hanlon, and the party for which she had been sent. Father Hanratty having left them, they took an early breakfast, and proceeded to Ballynafail—which we choose to designate as the assize town—in order to watch, with disappointed and heavy hearts, the trial of Condy Dalton, in whose fate they felt a deeper interest than the reader might suppose.

All the parties attended, the Prophet among the rest; and it might have been observed, that his countenance was marked by an expression of peculiar determination. His brow was, if possible, darker than usual; his eye was quicker and more circumspect, but his complexion, notwithstanding this, was not merely pale, but absolutely white as ashes. The morning came, however, and the assies were opened with the usual formalities. The judge's charge to the grand jury, in consequence of the famine outrages which had taken place to such an extent, was unusually long; nor was the "King against Dalton," for the murder of Sullivan, left without due advice and comment. In this way a considerable portion of the day passed. At length a trial for horse-stealing came on, but closed too late to allow them to think of commencing any other case during that day; and, as a natural consequence, that of Condy Dalton was postponed until the next morning.

It is an impressive thing; and fills the mind with a reverend sense of the wisdom manifested by an over-ruling Providence, to reflect upon the wondrous manner in which the influence of slight incidents is made to frustrate the subtlest designs of human ingenuity, and vindicate the justice of the Almighty in the eyes of his creatures, sometimes for the reward of the just, and as often for the punishment of the guilty. Had the trial of Dalton, for instance, gone on, as had been anticipated, during the first day, it is impossible to say how many of the characters in our humble drama might have grievously suffered or escaped in consequence. At all events it is not likely that the following dialogue would have ever taken place, or been made instrumental in working out purposes, and defeating plans, with which the reader, if he is not already, will very soon be made acquainted.

Donnel Dhu had returned from the assizes, and was sitting, as usual, poring over the fire, when he asked the old woman who nursed Sarahif there had been any persons inquiring for him since nightfall.

"Three or four," she replied; "but I said you hadn't come home yet; an' divil a one o' them but was all on the same tune, an' bid me to tell you that it was a safe night."

"Well, I hope it is, Biddy," he replied, "but not so safe," he added to himself, "as I could wish it to be. How is Sarah?"

"She's better," replied the woman, "an' was up to-day for an hour or two; but still she's poorly, and I think her brain isn't right yet."

"Very likely it isn't," said the Prophet. "But, Biddy, when were you at Shanco?"

"Not this week past."

"Well, then, if you like to slip over for an hour or so now, you may, an' I'll take care of Sarah till you come back; only don't be longer."

"Long life to you, Donnel; throth an' I want to go, if it was only to set the little matthers right for them poor orphans, my grandchildre."

"Well, then, go," he replied; "but don't be more than an hour away, mind. I'll take care of Sarah for you till you come back."

At this moment a tap came to the door, and Donnel, on hearing it, went out, and in a minute or two returned again, saying—

"Hurry, Biddy; make haste, if you wish to go at all; but remember not to be more than an hour away."

The old creature accordingly threw her cloak about her, and made the best of her way to see her grandchildren, both of whose parents had been swept away by the first deadly ravages of the typhus fever.

She had not been long gone, when another tap was given, and Donnel, on opening the door, said—

"You may come in now; she's off to Shanco. I didn't think it safe that she should see us together on this night, at all events. Sit down. This girl's illness has nearly spoiled all; however, we must only do the best we can. Thank God the night's dark, that's one comfort."

"If we could a' had Dalton found guilty," replied Body, "all would be well over this night, an' we might be on our way out o' this to America; but what 'ud you do wid Sarah if we had? Sure she wouldn't be able to travel, nor she won't, I doubt, as it is."

"Sarah," replied the Prophet, who suspected the object of the question, "is well fit to take care of herself. We must only go without her, if she's not able to come the day afther to-morrow. Where are the boys for the Grange?"

"Undher shelter of the Grey Stone, waitin' to start."

"Well, then, as it it," said Donnel, "they know their business, at any rate. The Grange folk don't expect them this week to come, you think?"

Rody looked at the Prophet very keenly, as he thought of the conversation that took place between himself and Charley Hanlon, and which, upon an explanation with Donnel, he had detailed. The fellow, however, as we said, was both cowardly and suspicious, and took it into his head that his friend might feel disposed to play him a trick, by sending him to conduct the burglary, of which Hanlon had spoken with such startling confidence—a piece of cowardice which, indeed, was completely gratuitous and unfounded on his part; the truth being, that it was the Prophet's interest, above all things, to keep Rody out of danger, both for that worthy individual's sake and his own. Rody, We say, looked at him; and of a certainty it must be admitted, that the physiognomy of our friend, the Seer, during that whole day, was one from which no very high opinion of his integrity or good faith could be drawn.

"It's a very sthrange thing," replied Rody, in a tone of thought and reflection, "how Charley Hanlon came to know of this matther at all."

"He never heard a word of it," replied Donnel, "barrin' from yourself."

"From me!" replied Rody, indignantly; "what do you mane by that?"

"Why, when you went to sound him," said Donnel, "you let too much out; and Charley was too cute not to see what you wor at."

"All feathalagh an' nonsense," replied Eody, who, by the way, entertained a very high opinion of his own sagacity; "no mortal could suspect that there was a plot to rob the house from what I said; but hould," he added, slapping his knee, as if he had made a discovery, "ma chorp an' dioul, but I have it all."

"What is it?" said the Prophet, calmly.

"You tould the matther to Sarah, an' she, by coorse, tould it to Charley Hanlon, that she tells everything to."

"No such thing," replied the other. "Sarah knows nothing about the robbery that's to go on to-night at the Grange, but she did about the plan upon Mave Sullivan, and promised to help us in it, as I tould you before."



"Well, at any rate," replied Duncan, "I'll have nothing to do with this robbery—devil a thing; but I'll make a bargain wid you—if you manage the Grange business, I'll lend a hand in Mave Sullivan's affair."

The Prophet looked at him, fastening his dark piercing eyes-upon his face—

"I see," he proceeded, "you're suspicious or you're cowardly, or maybe both; but to make you feel that I'm neither the one nor the other, and that you have no raison to be so either, I say I'll take you at your word. Do you manage Mave Sullivan's business, and I'll see what can be done with the other. An' listen to me now, it's our business, in case of a discovery of the robbery, to have Masther Dick's neck as far in the noose for Mave's affair as ours may be for the other thing; an' for the same raison you needn't care how far you drive him. He doesn't wish to have violence; but do you take care that there will be violence, an' then maybe we may manage him if there's a discovery in the other affair."

"Donnel, you're a great headpiece—the divil's not so deep as you are; but as the most of them all is strangers, an' they say there's two girls in Sullivan's instead o' one, how will the strange boys know the right one?"

"If it goes to that," said the Prophet, "you'll know her by the clipped head. The minute they seize upon the girl with the clipped head, let them make sure of her. Poor foolish Tom Dalton, who knows nothing about our scheme, thinks the visit is merely to frighten the Sullivans; but when you get the girl, let her be brought to the crossroads of Tulnavert, where Masther Dick will have a chaise waitin' for her, an' wanst she's with him your care's over. In the meantime, while he's waitin' there, I an' the others will see what can be done at the Grange."

"But tell me, Donnel; you don't intend, surely, to leave poor Sarah behind us?"

"Eh? Sarah?" returned the Prophet.

"Ay; bekaise you said so awhile a-gone."

"I know I said so awhile ago; but regardin' Sarah, Rody, she's the only livin' thing on this earth that I care about. I have hardened my heart, thank God, against all the world but herself; an' although I have never much showed it to her, an' although I have neglected her, an' sometimes thought I hated her for her mother's sake—well, no matther—she's the only thing I love or care about for all that. Oh! no—go wid-out Sarah—come weal come woe—we must not."

"Bekaise," continued Rody, "when we're all safe, an' out o' the raich o' danger, I have a thing to say to you about Sarah."

"Very well, Rody," said the Prophet, with a grim but bitter smile, "it'll be time enough then. Now, go and manage these fellows, an' see you do things as they ought to be done."

"She's fond o' Charley Hanlon, to my own knowledge."

"Who is?"

"Sarah, an' between you an' me, it's not a Brinoge like him that's fit for her. She's a, hasty and an uncertain kind of a girl—:a good dale wild or so—an' it isn't, as I said, the! likes o' that chap that 'id answer her, but a steady, experienced, sober—"

"Honest man, Rody. Well, I'm not in a laughin' humor, now; be off, an' see that you do yourself an' us all credit."

When he was gone, the Prophet drew a long breath—one, however, from its depth, evidently indicative of anything but ease of mind. He then rose, and was preparing to go out, when Sarah, who had only laid herself on the bed, without undressing, got up, and approaching him, said, in a voice tremulous with weakness:

"Father, I have heard every word you and Rody said."

"Well," replied her father, looking at her, "I supposed as much. I made no secret of anything; however, keep to your bed—you're—"

"Father, I have changed my mind; you have neither my heart nor wish in anything you're bent on this night."

"Changed your mind!" replied the Prophet, bitterly. "Oh! you're a real woman, I suppose, like your mother; you'll drive some unfortunate man to hate the world an all that's in it yet?"

"Father, I care as little about the world as you do; but still never will I lay myself out to do anything that's wrong."

"You promised to assist us then in Mave Sullivan's business, for all that," he replied. "You can break your word, too. Ah! real woman again."

"Sooner than keep that promise, father, now, I would willingly let the last dhrop of blood out o' my heart—my unhappy heart—Father, you're provin' yourself to be what I can't name. Listen to me—you're on the brink o' destruction. Stop in time, an' fly, for there's a fate over you. I dremt since I lay down—not more than a couple of hours ago—that I saw the Tobacco Box you were lookin' for, in the hands of—"

"Don't bother or vex me with your d—d nonsense about dhrames," he replied, in a loud and excited voice. "The curse o' Heaven on all dhrames, an' every stuff o' the kind. Go to bed."

He slapped the door violently after him as he spoke, and left her to her own meditations.



CHAPTER XXX. — Self-sacrifice—Villany

Time passes now as it did on the night recorded in the preceding chapter. About the hour of two o'clock, on the same night, a chaise was standing at the cross roads of Tulnavert, in which a gentleman, a little but not much the worse of liquor, sat in a mood redolent of anything but patience. Many ejaculations did he utter, and some oaths, in consequence of the delay of certain parties whom he expected to meet there. At length the noise of many feet was heard, and in the course of a few minutes a body of men advanced in the darkness, one of whom approached the chaise, and asked—"Is that Masther Dick?"

"Master Dick, sirrah: no, it's not."

"Then there must be some mistake," replied the fellow, who was a stranger; "and as it's a runaway match, by gorra, it would never do to give the girl to the wrong person. It was Masther Dick that the Prophet desired us to inquire for."

"There is a mistake, my friend; there is—my name, my good fellow, happens to be Master Richard, or rather Mister Richard. In all other respects, everything is right. I expect a lady; and I am the gentleman, but not Master Dick, though—Richard is the correct reading."

"Then, sir," replied the fellow, "here she is;" and whilst speaking, a horseman, bearing a female before him, came forward, and in a few minutes she was transferred without any apparent resistance, to the inside of the vehicle which awaited her. This vehicle we shall now follow.

The night, as we said, was dark, but it was also cold and stormy. The driver, who had received his instructions, proceeded in the direction of the Grange; and we only I say so generally, because so many cross roads branched off from that which they took, that it was impossible to say when or where; Master or Mister Richard may have intended to stop. In the meantime, that enterprising and gallant young gentleman commenced a dialogue, somewhat as follows:—

"My dear Miss Sullivan, I must be satisfied that these fellows have conducted this business with all due respect to your feelings, I hope they have not done anything to insult you."

"I am very weak," replied the lady; "you needn't expect me to spake much, for I'm not able. I only wish I was in Heaven, or anywhere out of this world."

"You speak as if you had been agitated or frightened; but compose yourself, you are now under my protection at last, and you shall want for nothing that can contribute to your ease and comfort. Upon my honor—upon my sacred honor, I say—I would not have caused you even this annoyance, were it not that you yourself expressed a willingness—very natural, indeed, considering our affection—to meet me here to-night."

"Who tould you that I was willin' to meet you?"

"Who? why who but our mutual friend, the Black Prophet; and by the way, he is to meet us at the Grey Stone, by and by."

"He tould you false, then," replied his companion, feebly.

"Why," asked Henderson, "are you not here with your own consent?"

"I am—oh, indeed, I am,—it's altogether my own act that brings me here—my own act—an' I thank God, that I had strength for it."

"Admirable girl!—that is just what I have been led to expect from you, and you shall not regret it; I have, as I said, everything provided that can make you happy."

"Happy!—I can't bear this, sir; I'm desavin' you. I'm not what you think me."

"You are ill, I fear, my dear Miss Sullivan; the bustle and disturbance have agitated you too much, and you are ill."

"You are speaking truth. I am very ill; but I'll soon be better—I'll soon be better. She feared nothing from me," added she, in a low soliloquy; "an' could I let her outdo mo in generosity and kindness. Is this fire? Is there fire in the coach?" she asked, in a loud voice; "or is it lighthnin'? Oh, my head, my head; but it will soon be over."

"Compose yourself, I entreat of you, my dearest girl. What! good Heavens, how is this? You have not been ill for any time? Your hand—pardon me; you need not withdraw it so hastily—is quite burning and fleshless. What is wrong?"

"Everything, sir, is wrong, unless that I am here, an' that is as it ought to be. Ha, ha!"

"Good, my dearest girl—that consoles me again. Upon my honor, the old Prophet shall not lose by this; on the contrary, I shall keep my word like a prince, and at the Grey Stone shall he pocket, ere half an hour, the reward of his allegiance to his liege lord. I have, for a long time, had my eye on you, Miss Sullivan, an' when the Prophet assured me that you had discarded Dalton for my sake, I could scarcely credit him, until you confirmed the delightful fact, by transmitting me a tress of your beautiful hair."

His companion made no reply to this, and the chaise went on for some minutes without any further discourse. Henderson, at length, ventured to put over his hand towards the corner in which his companion sat; but it no sooner came in contact with her person, than he felt her shrinking, as it were, from his very touch. With his usual complacent confidence, however, in his own powers of attraction and strongly impressed, besides, with a belief in his knowledge of the sex, he at once imputed all this to caprice on the behalf of Mave, or rather to that assumption of extreme delicacy, which is often resorted to, and overacted, when the truthful and modest principle from which it should originate has ceased to exist.

"Well, my dear girl," he proceeded, "I grant that all this is natural enough—quite so—I know the step you have taken shows great strength of character; for indeed it requires a very high degree of moral courage and virtue in you, to set society and the whole world at perfect defiance, for my sake; but, my dearest girl, don't be cast down—you are not alone in this heroic sacrifice; not at all, believe me. You are not the first who has made it for me; neither, I trust, shall you be the last. This I say, of course, to encourage you, because I see that the step you have taken has affected you very much, as is natural it should."

A low moan, apparently of great pain, was the only reply Henderson received to this eloquent effort at consolation. The carriage again rolled onward in silence, and nothing could be heard but the sweep of the storm without—for it blew violently—and deep breathings, or occasional moanings, from his companion within. They drove, it might be, for a quarter of an hour, in this way, when Henderson felt his companion start, and the next moment her hand was placed upon his arm.

"Ha! ha! my dearest," thought he, "I knew, notwithstanding all your beautiful startings and fencings, that matters would come to this. There is nothing, after all, like leaving you to yourselves a little, and you are sure to come round. My dear Miss Sullivan," he added, aloud, "be composed—say but what it is you wish, and if a man can accomplish it, it must be complied with, or procured for you."

"Then," said she, "if you are a human being, let me know when we come to the Grey Stone."

"Undoubtedly, I shall. The grim old Prophet promised to meet us there—and, for a reason I have, I know he will keep his word. We shall be there in less than a quarter of an hour. But, my precious creature, now that you understand how we are placed with relation to each other, I think you might not, and ought not, object to allowing me to support you after the fatigue and agitation of the night—hem! Do repose your head upon my bosom, like a pretty, trembling, agitated dear, as you are."

"Hould away!" exclaimed his companion; "don't dare to lay a hand upon me. If your life is worth anything—an' it's not worth much—keep your distance. You'll find your mistake soon. I didn't put myself in your power without the manes of defendin' myself an' punishin' you, if you should desarve it."

"Beautiful caprice! But, my dearest girl, I can understand it all—it is well done; and I know, besides, that a little hysterics will be necessary in their proper place; but for that you must wait till we get to our destination; and then you will be most charmingly affected with a fit—a delightful, sweet, soft, sobbing fit—which will render it necessary for me to soothe and console you; to wipe your lovely eyes; and then, you know, to kiss your delicious lips. All this, my darling girl, will happen as a natural consequence, and in due time every thing will be well."

There was no reply given to this; but the moaning was deeper, and apparently more indicative of pain and distress than before. A third silence ensued, during which they arrived at the Grey Stone, of whose proximity the driver had received orders to give them intimation.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Henderson, "what's the matter? Why do you stop, my good fellow?"

"We are at the Grey Stone, your honor," replied the man.

"Oh, very well; pull up a moment," he added. "My dear Miss Sullivan, we are at the Grey Stone now," said he, addressing her.

She moaned again, and started. "Whist," said she; "I don't hear his voice."

At this moment a man approached the driver, and desired him to let him know that a person wished to speak with him.

The female in the carriage no sooner heard the voice, even although the words were uttered in whispers, than she called out—

"Father, come to me—help me home—I'm dyin'! You've been desaved, Mr. Henderson," she added. "It wasn't Mave Sullivan, but the Prophet's own daughter, you took away. Blessed be God, I've saved her that disgrace. Father, help me home. I won't be long a throuble to you now."

"What's this!" exclaimed Henderson. "Are you not Miss Sullivan?"

"Am I in a dhrame?" said the Prophet, approaching the door of the chaise. "Surely—now—what is it? It's my daughter's voice! Is that Sarah that I left in her bed of typhus faver this night? Or, am I in a dhrame still, I say? Sarah, is it you? Spake."

"It is me, father; help me home. It will be your last throuble with me, I think—at laste, I hope so—oh, I hope so!"

"Who talks about typhus fever?" asked Henderson, starting out of the chaise with alarm. "What means this? Explain yourself."

"I can no more explain it," replied the Prophet, "than you can. I left my daughter lyin' in bed of typhus faver, not more than three or four hours ago; an' if I'm to believe my ears, I find her in the carriage with you now!"

"I'm here," she replied; "help me out."

"Oh, I see it all now," observed Henderson, in a fit of passion, aggravated by the bitterness of his disappointment—"I see your trick; an' so, you old scoundrel, you thought to impose your termagant daughter upon me instead of Miss Sullivan, and she reeking with typhus fever, too, by your own account. For this piece of villany I shall settle with you, however, never fear. Typhus fever! Good God!—and I so dreadfully afraid of it all along, that I couldn't bear to look near a house in which it was, nor approach any person even recovering out of it. Driver, you may leave the girl at home. As for me, I shall not enter your chaise again, contaminated, as it probably is, with that dreadful complaint, that is carrying off half the country. Call to the Grange in the morning, an' you shall be paid. Good-night, you prophetical old impostor. I shall mark you for this piece of villany; you may rest assured of that. A pretty trudge I shall have to the Grange, such a vile and tempestuous night; but you shall suffer for it, I say again."

Donnel Dhu was not merely disappointed at finding Sarah in such a situation; he was literally stupefied with amazement, and could scarcely believe the circumstances to be real. It had been agreed between him and Henderson, that should the latter succeed in fetching Mave Sullivan as far as the Grey Stone, he (the Prophet) should be considered to have fulfilled the conditions of the compact entered into between them, and the wages of his iniquity were to have been paid to him on that spot. It is unnecessary to say, therefore, that his disappointment and indignation were fully equal to those of Henderson himself.

"Where am I to go now?" asked the driver.

"To hell!" replied the Prophet, "an you may bring your fare with you."

"You must take the reins yourself, then," replied the man, "for I don't know the way."

"Drive across the river, here then," continued the other, "and up the little road to the cottage on the right; yes, to the right—till we get that—that—I can't find words to name her—in the house."

A few minutes brought them to the door, and poor Sarah found herself once more in her own cabin, but in such a state as neutralized most of her father's resentment. When the driver had gone, Donnel came in again, and was about to wreak upon her one of those fits of impetuous fury, in which, it was true, he seldom indulged, but which, when wrought to a high state of passion, were indeed frightful.

"Now," he began, "in the name of all that's"—he paused, however, for on looking closely at her, there appeared something in her aspect so utterly subversive of resentment, that he felt himself disarmed at once. Her face was as pale as his own, but the expression of it was so chaste, so mournful, and yet so beautiful, that his tongue refused its office.

"Sarah," said he, "what is the matter with, you?—account for all this—I don't understand it."

She rose with great difficulty, and, tottering over towards him, laid her head upon his bosom, and looking up with a smile of melancholy tenderness into his face, burst into tears.

"Father," said she, "it is not worth your while to be angry with Sarah now. I heard words from your lips this night that would make me forgive you a thousand crimes. I heard you say that you loved me—loved me better than anything else in this world. I'm glad I know it, for that will be all the consolation I will have on my bed of death—an' there it is, father," she said, pointing to that which she always occupied; "help me over to it now, for I feel that I will never rise from it more."

Her father spoke not, but assisted her to the bed from which the old nurse, who had fallen asleep in it, now rose. He then went into the open air for a few minutes, but soon returned, and going over to the bedside where she lay, he looked upon her long and earnestly.

"Father," said she, "I only did my duty this night. I knew, indeed, I would never recover it—but then she risked her life for me, an' why shouldn't I do as much for her?"

The Prophet still looked upon her, but spoke not a word; his lips were closely compressed, his hands tightly clasped, and his piercing eyes almost immovable. Minute after minute thus passed, until nearly half an hour had elapsed, and Sarah dreadfully exhausted by what she had undergone, found her eyes beginning to close in an unsettled and feverish slumber. At length he said, in a tone of voice which breathed of tenderness itself—

"Sleep, dear Sarah—dear Sarah, sleep."

She apparently was asleep, but not so as to be altogether unconscious of his words, for, in spite of illness and fatigue, a sweet and serene smile stole gently over her pale face, rested on it for a little, and again, gradually, and with a mournful placidity died away. Her father sighed deeply, and turning to the bedside, said—

"It is useless to ask her anything this night, Biddy. Can you tell me what became of her, or how she got out?"

"Oh, the sorra word," replied the old woman; "I'm sure such a start was never taken out o' mortal as I got when I came here, and found her gone. I searched all the neighborhood, but no use—divil a sowl seen her—so afther trottin' here an' there, an' up and down, I came in not able to mark the ground, and laid myself down on the bed, where I fell asleep till you came back; but where, in the name of all that's wonderful, was she?"

Donnel sat down in silence, and the crone saw that he was in no mood for answering questions, or entering into conversation; she accordingly clapped herself on her hunkers, and commenced sucking her dudeen, without at all seeming to expect a reply.

We, however, shall avail ourselves of the historian's privilege, in order to acquaint our readers, very briefly, with that, of which we presume, so far as Sarah is concerned, they can scarcely plead ignorance. Having heard the conversation between Rody Duncan and her father, which satisfied her that the plot for taking away Mave Sullivan was to be executed that very night, Sarah, with her usual energy and disregard for herself, resolved to make an effort to save her generous rival, for we must here acquaint our readers, that during the progress of her convalescence, she had been able to bring to her recollection the presence of Mave Sullivan in the shed on more than one occasion. She did not, however, depend upon her own memory or impressions for this, but made inquiries from her nurse, who, in common with the whole neighborhood, had heard of Mave's humanity and attention towards her, to which it was well known, she owed her life. The generous girl, therefore, filled with remorse at having, for one moment, contemplated any act of injury towards Mave, now determined to save her from the impending danger, or lose her life in the attempt. How she won her way in such an enfeebled state of health, and on such a night, cannot now be known; it is sufficient here to say, that she arrived only a few minutes before the attack was made upon Sullivan's house, and just in time to have Mave and her cousin each concealed under a bed. Knowing, however, that a strict search would have rendered light of some kind necessary, and enable the ruffians to discover Mave besides, she, at once, threw herself in their way, under a feigned attempt to escape, and the next moment three or four voices exclaimed, exultingly, "we have her—the cropped head—here she is—all's right—come away; you darlin', you'll be a happy girl before this day week!"

"I hope so," she replied; "oh, I hope so—bring me away!"

The Prophet's own adventure was not less disastrous. Rody Duncan's sudden withdrawal from the robbery surprised him very much. On seriously and closely reconsidering the circumstances, it looked suspicious, and ere a single hour had passed, Donnel felt and impression that, on that business at least, Rody had betrayed him. Acting upon this conviction.—for it amounted to that—he soon satisfied himself that the house was secured against, the possibility of any successful attack upon it. This he discovered in the village of Grange, when, on inquiring, he found that most of the young men were gone to sit up all night in the "big house". So much being known, any additional information to Donnel was unnecessary. He accordingly relinquished the enterprise; and remembering the engagement with young Henderson at the Grey Stone, met him there, to receive the wages of his iniquity; but with what success, the reader is already acquainted.

This double failure of his projects, threw the mind of the Prophet into a train of deep and painful reflection. He began to reflect that his views of life and society might not, after all, be either the safest or the best. He looked back over his own past life, and forward to the future, and he felt as if the shadow of some approaching evil was over him. He then thought of his daughter, and pictured to himself what she might have been, had he discharged, as he ought to have done, the duties of a Christian parent towards her. This, and other recollections, pressed upon Mm, and his heart was once or twice upon the point of falling back into the fresh impulses of its early humanity, when the trial of tomorrow threw him once more into a gloom, that settled him down into a resentful but unsatisfactory determination to discharge the duty he had imposed upon himself.



CHAPTER XXXI. — A Double Trial—Retributive Justice.

With beating and anxious hearts did the family of the Daltons rise upon the gloomy morning of the old man's trial. Deep concern prevented them from eating, or even feeling inclined to eat; but when about to sit down to their early and sorrowful repast, Mrs. Dalton, looking around her, asked—

"Where is poor Tom from us this morning?"

"He went out last night," replied one of his sisters, "but didn't come back since."

"That poor boy," said his mother, "won't be long with us; he's gone every way—health and strength, and reason. He has no appetite—and a child has more strength. After this day he must be kept in the house, if possible, or looked to when he goes out; but indeed I fear that in a day or two he will not be able to go anywhere. Poor affectionate boy! he never recovered the death of that unhappy girl, nor ever will; an' it would be well for himself that he was removed from this world, in which, indeed, he's now not fit to live."

Little time was lost in the despatch of their brief meal, and they set out, with the exception of Mary, to be present at the trail of their aged father.

The court was crowded to excess, as was but natural, for the case had excited a very deep interest throughout almost the whole country.

At length the judge was seated, and in a few minutes Cornelius Dalton was put to the bar, charged with the wilful murder of Bartholomew Sullivan, by striking him on the head with a walking-stick, in the corner of a field, near a place called the Grey Stone, &c, &c, situate and being in the barony of, &c, &c.

When the reverend looking old man stood up at the bar, we need scarcely say that all eyes were immediately turned on him with singular interest. It was clear, however, that there was an admission of guilt in his very face, for, instead of appearing with the erect and independent attitude of conscious innocence, he looked towards the judge and around the court with an expression of such remorse and sorrow, and his mild blue eye had in it a feeling so full of humility, resignation and contrition, that it was impossible to look on his aged figure and almost white hairs with indifference, or, we should rather say, without sympathy. Indeed, his case appeared to be one of those in which the stern and unrelenting decree of human law comes to demand its rights, long after the unhappy victim has washed away his crime by repentance, and made his peace with God, a position in connection with conventional offences that is too often overlooked in the administration of justice and the distribution of punishment.

It was not without considerable difficulty that they succeeded in prevailing on him to plead not guilty; which he did at length, but in a tone of voice that conveyed anything but a conviction of his innocence to the court, the jury, and those about him.

The first witness called was Jeremiah Sullivan, who deposed that he was present in one of the Christmas Margamores [Big Market] in the year 1798, when an altercation took place between his late brother Bartle and the prisoner at the bar, respecting the price of some barley, which the prisoner had bought from his brother. The prisoner had bought it, he said, for the sum of thirty-five pounds fifteen shillings, whilst his brother affirmed that it was only thirty-five pounds thirteen shillings—upon which they came to blows; his brother, when struck by the prisoner, having returned the blow, and knocked the prisoner down. They were then separated by their friends, who interposed, and, as the cause of the dispute was so trifling, it was proposed that it should be spent in drink, each contributing one-half. To this both assented, and the parties having commenced drinking, did not confine themselves to the amount disputed, but drank on until they became somewhat tipsy, and were, with difficulty, kept from quarrelling again. The last words he heard from them that night were, as far as he can remember—"Dalton," said his brother, "you have no more brains than the pillar of a gate." Upon which the other attempted to strike him, and, on being prevented, he shook his stick at him, and swore that "before he slept he'd know whether he had brains or not." Their friends then took them different ways, he was separated from them, and knows nothing further about what happened. He never saw his brother alive afterwards. He then deposed to the finding of his coat and hat, each in a crushed and torn state. The footmarks in the corner of the field were proved to have been those of his brother and the prisoner, as the shoes of each exactly fitted them when tried. He was then asked how it could be possible, as his brother had altogether disappeared, to know whether his shoes fitted the foot-prints or not, to which he replied, that one of his shoes was found on the spot the next morning, and that a second pair, which he had at home, were also tried, and fitted precisely.

The next witness was Rody Duncan, who deposed that on the night in question, he was passing on a car, after having sold a load of oats in the market. On coming to the corner of the field, he saw a man drag or carry something heavy like a sack, which, on seeing him, Rody, he (the man,) left hastily inside the ditch, and stooped, as if to avoid being known. He asked the person what he was about, who replied that, "he hoped he was no gauger;" by which he understood that he was concerned in private distillation, and that it might have been malt; an opinion in which he was confirmed, on hearing the man's voice, which he knew to be that of the prisoner, who had been engaged in the poteen work for some years. One thing struck him, which he remembered afterwards, that the prisoner had a hat in his hand; and when it was observed in the cross-examination that the hat might have been his own, he replied that he did not think it could, as he had his own on his head at the time. He then asked was that Condy Dalton, and the reply was, "it is, unfortunately;" upon which he wished him good-night, and drove homewards. He remembers the night well, as he lived at that time down at the Long Ridge, and caught a severe illness on his way home, by reason of a heavy shower that wet him to the skin. He wasn't able to leave the house for three months afterwards. It was an unlucky night any way.

Next came the Prophet. It was near daybreak on the morning of the same night, and he was on his way through Glendhu. He was then desired to state what it was that brought him through Glendhu at such an hour. He would tell the truth, as it was safe to do so now—he had been making United Irishmen that night, and, at all events, he was on his keeping, for the truth was, he had been reported to government, and there was a warrant out for him. He was then desired to proceed in his evidence, and he did so. On his way through Glendhu he came to a very lonely spot, where he had been obliged to hide, at that time, more than once or twice, himself. Here, to his surprise, he found the body of a man lying dead, and he knew it at once to be that of the late Bartholomew Sullivan; beside it was a grave dug, about two feet deep. He was astonished and shocked, and knew not what to say; but he felt that murder had been committed, and he became dreadfully afraid. In his confusion and alarm he looked about to try if he could see any person near, when he caught a glimpse of the prisoner, Condy Dalton, crouched among a clump of black-thorn bushes, with a spade in his hands. It instantly came into his head that he, the prisoner, on finding himself discovered, might murder him also; and, in order to prevent the other from supposing that he had seen him, he shouted out and asked is there any body near? and hearing no answer, he was glad to get off safe. In less than an hour he was on his way out of the country, for on coming within sight of his own house, he saw it surrounded with soldiers, and he lost no time in going to England, where, in about a month afterwards, he heard that the prisoner had been hanged for the murder, which was an untrue account of the affair, as he, the prisoner, had only been imprisoned for a time, which he supposed led to the report.

When asked why he did not communicate an account of what he had seen to some one in the neighborhood before he went, he replied, that "at that hour the whole country was in bed, and when a man is flying for his life, he is not very anxious to hould conversations with any body."

On the cross-examination he said, that the reason why he let the matter rest until now was, that he did not wish to be the means of bringin' a fellow-creature to an untimely death, especially such a man as the prisoner, nor to be the means of drawing down disgrace upon his decent and respectable family. His conscience, however, always kept him uneasy, and to tell the truth, he had neither peace nor rest for many a long year, in consequence of concealing his knowledge of the murder, and he now came forward to free his own mind from what he had suffered by it. He wished both parties well, and he hoped no one would blame him for what he was doing, for, indeed, of late, he could not rest in his bed at night. Many a time the murdhered man appeared to him, and threatened him, he thought for not disclosing what he knew.

At this moment, there was a slight bustle at that side of the court where the counsel for the defense sat, which, after a little time, subsided, and the evidence was about to close, when the latter gentleman, after having closely cross-examined him to very little purpose, said:

"So you tell us, that in consequence of your very tender conscience, you have not, of late, been able to rest in your bed at night?"

"I do."

"And you say the murdered man appeared to you and threatened you?"

"I do."

"Which of them?"

"Peter Magennis—what am I sayin'? I mean Bartle Sullivan."

"Gentlemen of the jury, you will please take down the name of Peter Magennis—will your lordship also take a note of that? Well," he proceeded, "will you tell us what kind of a man this Bartle or Bartholomew Sullivan was?"

"He was a very remarkable man in appearance; very stout, with a long face, a slight scar on his chin, and a cast in his eye."

"Do you remember which of them?"

"Indeed I don't, an' it wouldn't be raison able that I should, afther sich a distance of time."

"And, you saw that man murdered?"

"I seen him dead, afther having been murdhered."

"Very right—I stand corrected. Well, you saw him buried?"

"I didn't see him buried, but I saw him dead, as I said, an' the grave ready for him."

"Do you think now if he were to rise again from that grave, that you would know him?"

"Well I'm sure I can't say. By all accounts the grave makes great changes, but if it didn't change him very much entirely, it wouldn't be hard to know him again—for, as I said, he was a remarkable man."

"Well, then, we shall give you an opportunity of refreshing your memory—here," he said, addressing himself to some person behind him; "come forward—get up on the table, and stand face to face with that man."

The stranger advanced—pushed over to the corner of the table, and, mounting it, stood, as he had been directed, confronting the Black Prophet.

"Whether you seen me dead," said the stranger, "or whether you seen me buried, is best known to yourself; all I can say is, that here I am—by name Bartle Sullivan, alive an' well, thanks be to the Almighty for it!"

"What is this?" asked the judge, addressing Dalton's counsel; "who is this man?"

"My lord," replied that gentleman, "this is the individual for the murder of whom, upon the evidence of these two villains, the prisoner at the bar stands charged. It is a conspiracy as singular as it is diabolical; but one which, I trust, we shall clear up, by and by."

"I must confess, I do not see my way through it at present," returned the judge; "did not the prisoner at the bar acknowledge his guilt?—had you not some difficulty in getting him to plead not guilty? Are you sure, Mr. O'Hagan, that this stranger is not a counterfeit?"

The reply of counsel could not now be heard—hundreds in the court house, on hearing his name, and seeing him alive and well before them, at once recognized his person, and testified their recognition by the usual manifestations of wonder, satisfaction and delight. The murmur, in fact, gradually gained strength, and deepened until it fairly burst forth in one loud and astounding cheer, and it was not, as usual, until the judge had threatened to commit the first person who should again disturb the court, that it subsided. There were two persons present, however, to whom we must direct the special attention of our readers—we mean Condy Dalton and the Prophet, on both of whom Sullivan's unexpected appearance produced very opposite effects. When old Dalton first noticed the strange man getting upon the table, the appearance of Sullivan, associated, as it had been, by the language of his counsel, with some vague notion of his resurrection from the grave, filled his mind with such a morbid and uncertain feeling of everything about him that he began to imagine himself in a dream, and that his reason must soon awaken to the terrible reality of his situation. A dimness of perception, in fact, came ever all his faculties, and for some minutes he could not understand the nature of the proceedings around him. The reaction was too sudden for a mind that had been broken down so long, and harrassed so painfully, by impressions of remorse and guilt. The consequence was, that he had forgot, for a time, the nature of his situation—all appeared unintelligible confusion about him,—he could see a multitude of faces, and the people, all agitated by some great cause of commotion, and that was, then, all he could understand about it.

"What is this," said he to himself;—"am I on my trial?—or is it some dhrame that I'm dhramin' at home in my own poor place among my heart-broken family?"

A little time, however, soon undeceived him, and awoke his honest heart to a true perception of his happiness.

"My lord," said the strange man, in reply to the judge's last observation, "I am no counterfeit—an' I thank my good an' gracious God that I have been able to come in time to save this worthy and honest man's life. Condy Dalton," said he, "I can explain all; but in the mane time let me shake hands wid you, and ax your pardon for the bad tratement and provocation I gave you on that unlucky day—well may I say so, so far as you are concerned—for, as I hear, an' as I see, indeed, it has caused you and your family bitter trouble and sorrow."

"Bartle Sullivan! Merciful Father, is this all right? is it real? No dhrame, then! an' I have my ould friend by the hand—let me see—let me feel you!—it is—it's truth—but, there now—I don't care who sees me—I must offer one short prayer of thanksgivin' to my marciful God, who has released me from the snares of my enemies, an' taken this great weight off o' my heart!" As he-spoke, he elapsed his hands, looked up with an expression of deep and heartfelt gratitude to heaven, then knelt down in a corner of the dock, and returned thanks to God.

The Prophet, on beholding the man, stood more in surprise than astonishment, and seemed evidently filled more with mortification rather than wonder. He looked around the court with great calmness, and then fastening his eyes upon Sullivan, studied, or I appeared to study, his features for a considerable time. A shadow so dark or we should rather say, so fearfully black settled upon his countenance, that it gave him an almost supernatural aspect; it looked in fact, as if the gloom of his fate had fallen upon him in the midst of his plans and iniquities. He seemed, for a moment, to feel this himself; for while the confusion and murmurs were spreading through the court, he muttered to himself—

"I am doomed; I did this, as if something drove me to it; however, if I could only be sure that the cursed box was really lost, I might laugh at the world still."

He then looked around him with singular composure, and ultimately at the judge, as if to ascertain whether he might depart or not. At this moment, a pale, sickly-looking female, aided, or rather supported, by the Pedlar and Hanlon, was in the act of approaching the place where Dalton's attorney stood, as if to make some communication to him, when a scream was heard, followed by the exclamation—

"Blessed Heaven! it's himself!—it's himself!"

Order and silence were immediately called by the crier, but the Prophet's eyes had been already attracted to the woman, who was no other than Hanlon's aunt, and for some time he looked at her with an apparent sensation of absolute terror. Gradually, however, his usual indomitable hardness of manner returned to him; he still kept his gaze fixed upon her, as if to make certain that there could be no mistake, after which his countenance assumed an expression of rage and malignity that no language could describe; his teeth became absolutely locked, as if he could have ground her between them, and his eyes literally blazed with fury, that resembled that of a rabid beast of prey. The shock was evidently more than the woman could bear, who, still supported by the Pedlar and Planlon, withdrew in a state almost bordering on insensibility.

A very brief space now determined the trial. Sullivan's brother and several of the jurors themselves clearly established his identity, and as a matter of course, Condy Dalton was instantly discharged. His appearance in the street was hailed by the cheers and acclamations of the people, who are in general delighted with the acquittal of a fellow-creature, unless under circumstances of very atrocious criminality.

"I suppose I may go down," said the Prophet,—"you have done with me?"

"Not exactly," replied Dalton's counsel.

"Let these two men be taken into custody," said the judge, "and let an indictment for perjury be prepared against them, and sent to the grand jury forthwith."

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