We now proceed to the humble homestead of Torley Davoren; a homestead which we have already described as the humble abode of peace and happiness. Barney Casey, who felt anxious to know from the parents of Grace Davoren whether any trace or tidings of her had been heard of, went to pay the heart-broken family a visit for that purpose.
On entering, he found the father seated at his humble hearth, unshaven, and altogether a man careless and negligent of his appearance. He sat with his hands clasped before him, and his heavy eyes fixed on the embers of the peat fire which smouldered on the hearth. The mother was at her distaff, and so were the other two females—to wit, her grandmother and Grace's sister. But the mother! gracious heaven, what a spirit of distress and misery breathed from those hopeless and agonizing features! There was not only natural sorrow there, occasioned by the disappearance of her daughter, but the shame which resulted from her fall and her infamy; and though last not least, the terrible apprehension that the hapless girl had rushed by suicidal means into the presence of an offended God, "unanointed, unaneled," with all her sins upon her head. Her clothes were hanging from the branches of a large burdock* against the wall, and from time to time the father cast his eyes upon them with a look in which might be read the hollow but terrible expression of despair.
* The branches of the burdock, when it is cut, trimmed, and seasoned, are used by the humble classes to hang their clothes upon. They grow upwards towards the top of the stalk, and, in consequence of this, are capable of sustaining the heaviest garment.
Honest Barney felt his heart deeply moved by all this, and, sooth to say, his natural cheerfulness and lightness of spirit completely abandoned him at the contemplation of the awful anguish which pressed them down. There is nothing which makes such a coward of the heart as the influence of such a scene. He felt that he stood within a circle of misery, and that it was a solemn and serious task even to enter into conversation with them. But, as he had come to make friendly inquiries about the unfortunate girl, he forced himself to break this pitiable but terrible silence of despair.
"I know," said he, with a diffident and melancholy spirit, "that it is painful to you all to make the inquiries that I wish to make; but still let me ask you if you have got any account of her?"
The mother's heart had been bursting-pent up as it were—and this allusion to her withdrew the floodgates of its sorrow; she spread out her arms, and fising up approached her husband, and throwing them about his neck, exclaimed, in tones of the most penetrating grief,—
"O, Torley, Torley, my husband, was she not our dearest and our best?"
The husband embraced her with a flood of tears.
"She was," said he, "she was." But immediately looking upon her sister Dora, he said, "Dora, come here—bring Dora to me," and his wife went over and brought her to him.
"O, Dora dear," said he, "I love you. But, darling, I never loved you as I loved her."
"But was I ever jealous of that, father?" replied Dora, with tears. "Didn't we all love her? and did any one of you love her more than myself? Wasn't she the pride of the whole family? But I didn't care about her disgrace, father, if we had her back with us. She might repent; and if she did, every one would forgive their favorite—for sure she was every one's favorite; and above all, God would forgive her."
"I loved her as the core of my heart," said the grandmother; "but you spoiled her yourselves, and indulged her too much in dress and everything she wished for. Had you given her less of her own way, and kept her more from dances and merry-makings, it might be better for yourselves and her today; still, I grant you, it was hard to do it—for who, mavrone, could refuse her anything? O! God sees my heart how I pity you, her father, and you, too, her mother, above all. But, Torley, dear, if we only had her—if we only had her back again safe with us—then what darling Dora says might be true, and her repentance would wash away her shame—for every one loved her, so that they wouldn't judge her harshly."
"I can bear witness to that," said Barney; as it is, every one pities her, and but very few blame her. It is all set down to her innocence and want of experience, ay, and her youthful years. No; if you could only find her, the shame in regard of what I've said would not be laid heavily upon her by the people."
"O," exclaimed her father, starting up, "O, Granua, Granua, my heart's life! where are you from us? Was not your voice the music of our hearth? Did not your light laugh keep it cheerful and happy? But where are you now? O, will no one bring me back my daughter? Where is my child? she that was the light—the breakin' of the summer mornin' amongst us! But wait; they say the villain is recoverin' that destroyed her—well—he may recover from the blow of Shawn-na-Middogue, but he will get a blow from me that he won't recover from. I will imitate Morrissy—and will welcome his fate."
"Aisy, Torley," said Casey; "hould in a little. You are spakin' now of Masther Charles?"
"I am, the villain! warn't they found together?"
"I have one question to ask you," proceeded Barney, "and it is this—when did you see or spake with Shawn-na-Middogue?"
"Not since that unfortunate night."
"Well, all I can tell you is this—that Masther Charles had as much to do with the ruin of your daughter as the king of Jerusalem. Take my word for that. He is not the stuff that such a villain is made of, but I suspect who is."
"And who do you suspect, Barney?"
"I say I only suspect; but, so long as it is only suspicion, I will mention no names. It wouldn't be right; and for that reason I will wait until I have betther information. But, after all," he proceeded, "maybe nothing wrong has happened."
The mother shook her head: "I know to the contrairy," she replied, "and intended on that very night to bring her to an account about her appearance, but I never had the opportunity."
The father here wrung his hands, and his groans were dreadful.
"Could you see Shawn-na-Middogue?" asked Barney.
"No," replied Davoren; "he, too, has disappeared; and although he is hunted like a bag-fox, nobody can find either hilt or hair of him."
"Might it not be possible that she is with him?" he asked again.
"No, Barney," replied her mother, "we know Shawn too well for that. He knows how we loved her, and what we would suffer by her absence. Shawn, though driven to be an outlaw, has a kind heart, and would never allow us to suffer what we are sufferin' on her account. O, no! we know Shawn too well for that."
"Well," replied Barney, meditatively, "there's one thing I'm inclined to think: that whoever was the means of bringing shame and disgrace upon poor Granua will get a touch of his middogue that won't fail as the first did. Shawn now knows his man, and, with the help of God, I hope he won't miss his next blow. I must now go; and before I do, let me tell you that, as I said before, Masther Charles is as innocent of the shame brought upon poor Granua as the king of Jerusalem."
There is a feeling of deep but silent sorrow which weighs down the spirit after the death of some beloved individual who is taken away from among the family circle. It broods upon, and casts a shadow of the most profound gloom over the bereaved heart; but let a person who knew the deceased, and is capable of feeling a sincere and friendly sympathy for the survivors, enter into this circle of sorrow; let him or her dwell upon the memory of the departed; then that silent and pent-up grief bursts out, and the clamor of lamentation is loud and vehement. It was so upon this occasion. When Barney rose to take his departure, a low murmur of grief assailed his ears; it gradually became more loud; it increased; it burst into irrepressible violence—they wept aloud; they flew to her clothes, which hung, as we said, motionless upon the stalk of burdock against the wall; they kissed them over and over again; and it was not until Barney, now deeply affected, succeeded in moderating their sorrow, that these strong and impassioned paroxysms were checked and subdued into something like reasonable grief. Having consoled and pacified them as far as it was in his power, he then took his departure under a feeling of deep regret that no account of the unfortunate girl had been obtained.
The next day Mrs. Lindsay and Harry prepared to pay the important visit. As before, the old family carriage was furbished up, and the lady once more enveloped in her brocades and satins. Harry, too, made it a point to appear in his best and most becoming habiliments; and, truth to tell, an exceedingly handsome and well-made young fellow he was. The dress of the day displayed his manly and well-proportioned limbs to the best advantage, whilst his silver-hilted sword, in addition to the general richness of his costume, gave him the manner and appearance of an accomplished cavalier. Barney's livery was also put a second time into requisition, and the coachman's cocked hat was freshly crimped for the occasion.
"Is it true, mother?" inquired Harry, as they went along, "that this old noodle has built his residence as much after the shape of a cockle-shell as was possible to be accomplished?"
"Perfectly true, as you will see," she replied.
"But what could put such a ridiculous absurdity into his head?"
"Because he thought of the name before the house was built, and he got it built simply to suit the name. 'There is no use,' said he, 'in calling it Cockle Hall unless it resembles a cockle;' and, indeed, when you see it, you will admit the resemblance."
"Egad," said her son, "I never dreamed that fate was likely to cramp me in a cockleshell. I dare say there is a touch of sublimity about it. The associations are in favor of it."
"No," replied his mother, "but it has plenty of comfort and convenience about, it. The plan was his own, and he contrived to make it, notwithstanding its ludicrous shape, one of the most agreeable residences in the country. He is a blunt humorist, who drinks a good deal, and instead of feeling offence at his manner, which is rather rough, you will please him best by answering him exactly in his own spirit."
"I am glad you gave me this hint," said her son; "I like that sort of thing, and it will go hard if I don't give him as good as he brings."
"In that case," replied the mother, "the chances will be ten to one in your favor. Seem, above all things, to like his manner, because the old fool is vain of it, and nothing gratifies him so much."
"But about the niece? What is the cue there, mother?"
"The cue of a gentleman, Harry—of a well-bred and respectful gentleman. You may humor the old fellow to the top of his bent; but when you become the gentleman with her, she will not misinterpret your manner with her uncle, but will look upon the transition as a mark of deference to herself. And now you have your instructions: be careful and act upon them. Miss Riddle is a girl of sense, and, they say, of feeling; and it is on this account, I believe, that she is so critical in scrutinizing the conduct and intellect of her lovers. So there is my last hint."
"Many thanks, my dear mother; it will, I think, be my own fault if I fail with either uncle or niece, supported as I shall be by your eloquent advocacy."
On arriving at Cockle Hall, Harry, on looking out of the carriage window, took it for granted that his mother had been absolutely bantering him. "Cockle Hall!" he exclaimed: "why, curse the hall I see here, good, bad, or indifferent. What did you mean, mother? Were you only jesting?"
"Keep quiet," she replied, "and above all things don't seem surprised at the appearance of the place. Look precisely as if you had been in it ever since it was built."
The appearance of Cockle Hall was, indeed, as his mother had very properly informed him, ludicrous in the extreme. It was built on a surface hollowed out of a high bank, or elevation, with which the roof of it was on a level. It was, of course, circular and flat, and the roof drooped, or slanted off towards the rear, precisely in imitation of a cockle-shell. There was, however, a complete deceptio visus in it. To the eye, in consequence of the peculiarity of its position, it appeared to be very low, which, in point of fact, was not exactly the case, for it consisted of two stories, and had comfortable and extensive apartments". There was a paved space wide enough for two carriages to pass each other, which separated it from the embankment that surrounded it. Altogether, when taken in connection with the original idea of its construction, it was a difficult thing to look at it without mirth. On entering the drawing-room, which Harry did alone—for his mother, having seen Miss Riddle in the parlor, entered it in order to have a preliminary chat with her—her son found a person inside dressed in a pair of red plush breeches, white stockings a good deal soiled, a yellow long-flapped waistcoat, and a wig, with a cue to it which extended down the whole length of his back,—evidently a servant in dirty lively. There was something degagee and rather impudent in his manner and appearance, which Harry considered as in good keeping with all he had heard of this eccentric nobleman. Like master like man, thought he.
"Well," said the servant, looking hardly at him, "what do you want?"
"You be cursed," replied Harry; "don't be impertinent; do you think I'm about to disclose my business to you, you despicable menial? Why don't you get your stockings washed? But if you wish to know what I want, I want your master."
The butler, footman, or whatever he might hive been, fixed a keen look upon him, accompanied by a grin of derision that made the visitor's gorge rise a good deal.
"My master," said the other, "is not under this roof. What do you think of that?"
"You mean the old cockle is not in his shell, then," replied Harry.
"Come," said the other, with a chuckle of enjoyment, "curse me, but that's good. Who are you?—what are you? You are in good feathers—only give an account of yourself."
Harry was a keen observer, but was considerably aided by what he had heard from his mother. The rich rings, however, which he saw sparkling on the fingers of what he had conceived to be the butler or footman, at once satisfied him that he was then addressing the worthy nobleman himself. In the meantime, having made this discovery, he resolved to act the farce out.
"Why should I give an account of myself to you, you cursed old sot?—you drink, sirrah: I can read it in your face."
"I say, give an account of yourself; what's your business here?"
"Come, then," replied Harry, "as you appear to be a comical old scoundrel, I don't care, for the joke's sake, if I do. I am coming to court Miss Riddle, ridiculous old Cockletown's niece."
"Why are you coming to court her?"
"Because I understand she will have a good fortune after old Cockle takes his departure."
"Eh, confound me, but that's odd; why, you are a devilish queer fellow. Did you ever see Lord Cockletown?"
"Not I," replied Harry; "nor I don't care a curse whether I do or not, provided I had his niece secure."
"Did you ever see the niece?"
"Don't annoy me, sirrah. No, I didn't; neither do I care if I never did, provided I secure old Cockle's money and property. If it could be so managed, I would prefer being married to her in the dark."
The old peer walked two or three times through the room in a kind of good-humored perplexity, raising his wig and scratching his head under it, and surveying Woodward from time to time with a serio-comic expression.
"Of course you are a profligate, for that is the order of the day?"
"Why, of course I am," replied Harry.
"Indeed," replied the other, pulling a long face, "I am ashamed to answer you on that subject. Intrigues! I regret to say only half a dozen yet, but my prospects in that direction are good."
"Have you fought? Did you ever commit murder?"
"It can scarcely be called by that name. It was in tavern brawls; one was a rascally cockleman, and the other a rascally oyster-man."
"How did you manage the oysterman with a knife, eh?"
"No, sirrah; with my sword I did him open."
"Have you any expectation of being hanged?"
"Why, according to the life I have led, I think there is every probability that I may reach that honorable position."
The old peer could bear this no longer. He burst out into a loud laugh, which lasted upwards of two minutes.
"Faith," said Harry, "if you had such a prospect before you, I don't think you would consider it such a laughing matter."
"Curse you, sir, do you know who I am?"
"Curse yourself, sir," replied the other, "no, I don't; how should I, when I never saw you before?"
"Sir, I am Lord Cockletown."
"And, sir, I am Harry Woodward, son—favorite son—to, Mrs. Lindsay of Rathfillan House."
"What! are you a son of that old fagot?"
"Her favorite son, as I said; that old fagot, sir, is my mother."
"Ay, but who was your father?" asked his lordship, with a grin, "for that's the rub."
"That is the rub," said Woodward, laughing; "how the devil can I tell?"
"Good again," said his lordship; "confound me but you are a queer one. I tell you what, I like you."
"I don't care a curse whether you do or not, provided your niece does."
"Are you the fellow that has been abroad, and returned home lately?"
"I am the very fellow," replied Woodward, with a ludicrous and good-humored emphasis upon the word fellow.
"There was a bonfire made for you on your return?"
"There was, my lord."
"And there fell a shower of blood upon that occasion?"
"Not a doubt of it, my lord."
"Well, you are a strange fellow altogether. I have not for a long time met a man so much after my own heart."
"That is because our dispositions resemble each other. If I had the chance of a peerage, I would be as original as your lord-ship in the selection of my title; but I trust I shall be gratified in that, too; because, if I marry your niece, I will enter into public life, make myself not only a useful, but a famous man, and, of course, the title of Cockletown will be revived in my person, and will not perish with you. No, my lord, should I marry your niece, your title shall descend with your blood, and there is something to console you."
"Come," said the old peer, "shake hands. Have you a capacity for public business?"
"I was born for it, my lord. I feel that fact; besides, I have a generous ambition to distinguish myself."
"Well," said the peer, "we will talk all that over in a few days. But don't you admit that I am an eccentric old fellow?"
"And doesn't your lordship admit that I am an eccentric young fellow?"
"Ay, but, harkee, Mr. Woodward," said the peer, "I always sleep with one eye open."
"And I," replied Harry, "sleep with both eyes open."
"Come, confound me, that beats me, you must get on in life, and I will consider your pretensions to my niece."
At this moment his mother and Miss Riddle entered the drawing-room, which, notwithstanding the comical shape of the mansion, was spacious, and admirably furnished. Miss Riddle's Christian name was Thomasina; but her eccentric uncle never called her by any other appellation than Tom, and occasionally Tommy.
"Mrs. Lindsay, uncle," said the girl, introducing her.
"Eh? Mrs. Lindsay! O! how do you do, Mrs. Lindsay? How is that unfortunate devil, your husband?"
Now Mrs. Lindsay was one of those women who, whenever there was a selfish object in view, could not only suppress her feelings, but exhibit a class of them in direct opposition to those she actually felt.
"Why unfortunate, my lord?" she asked, smiling.
"Why, because I am told he plays second fiddle at home, and a devilish deal out of tune too, in general. You play first, ma'am; but they say, notwithstanding, that there's a plentiful lack of harmony in your concerts."
"All," she replied, "your lordship must still have your joke, I perceive; but, at all events, I am glad to see you in such spirits."
"Well, you may thank your son for that. I say, Tom," he added, addressing his niece, "he's a devilish good fellow; a queer chap, and I like him. Woodward, this is Tom Riddle, my niece. This scamp, Tom, is that woman's son, Mr. Woodward. He's an accomplished youth: I'll be hanged if he isn't. I asked him how many intrigues he has had, and he replied, with a dolorous face, only half a dozen yet. He only committed two murders, he says; and when I asked him if he thought there was any probability of his being hanged, he replied that, from a review of his past life, and what he contemplated in the future, he had little doubt of it."
Harry Woodward was indeed, a most consummate tactician. From the moment Miss Riddle entered the room, his air and manner became that of a most polished gentleman; and after bowing to her when introduced, he cast, from time to time, a glance at her, which told her, by its significance, that he had only been gratifying her uncle by playing into his whims and eccentricities. In the meantime the heart of Mrs. Lindsay bounded with delight at the progress which she saw, by the complacent spirit of the old peer, honest and adroit Harry had made in his good opinion.
"Miss Riddle," said he, "his lordship and I have been bantering each other; but although I considered myself what I may term, an able hand at it, yet I find I am no match for him."
"Well, not exactly, I believe," replied his lordship; "but, notwithstanding, you are one of the best I have met."
"Why, my lord," replied Woodward, "I like the thing; and, indeed, I never knew any one fond of it who did not possess a good heart and a candid disposition; so, you see, my lord, there is a compliment for each of us."
"Yes, Woodward, and we both deserve it."
"I trust Mr. Woodward," observed his niece, "that you don't practise your abilities as a banterer upon our sex."
"Never! Miss Riddle; that would be ungenerous and unmanly. There is nothing due to your sex but respect, and that, you know, is incompatible with banter.
"The wit that could wantonly sport with the modesty of woman degenerates into impudence and insult;" and he accompanied the words with a low and graceful bow.
This young fellow, thought Miss Riddle, is a gentleman.
"Yes, but, Mr. Woodward, we sometimes require a bantering; and, what is more, a remonstrance. We are not perfect, and surely it is not the part of a friend to overlook our foibles or our errors."
"True, Miss Riddle, but it is not by bantering they will be reclaimed. A friendly remonstrance, delicately conveyed, is one thing, but the buffoonery of a banter is another."
"What's that?" said the peer, "buffoonery! I deny it, sir, there is no buffoonery in banter."
"Not, my lord, when it occurs between gentlemen," replied Woodward, "but you know, with the ladies it is a different thing."
"Ay, well, that's not bad; a proper distinction. I tell you what, Woodward, you are a clever fellow; and I'm not sure but I'll advocate your cause with Tom there. Tom, he tells me he is coming to court you, and he says he doesn't care a fig about either of us, provided he could secure your fortune. Ay, and, what's more, he says that if you and he are married, he hopes it will be in the dark. What do you think of that now?"
Miss Riddle did not blush, nor affect a burst of indignation, but she said what pleased both Woodward and his mother far better.
"Well, uncle," she replied, calmly, "even if he did say so, I believe he only expressed in words what most, if not all, of my former lovers actually felt, but were too cautious to acknowledge."
"I trust, Miss Eiddle," said Harry, smiling graciously, "that I am neither so silly nor so stupid as to defend a jest by anything like a serious apology. You will also be pleased to recollect that, as an argument for my success, I admitted two murders, half a dozen intrigues, and the lively prospect of being hanged. The deuce is in it, if these are not strong qualifications in a lover, especially in a lover of yours, Miss Riddle."
The reader sees that the peer was anything but a match for Woodward, who contrived, and with perfect success, to turn all his jocular attacks to his own account.
Miss Riddle smiled, for the truth was that Harry began to rise rapidly in her good opinion. His sprightliness was gentlemanly and agreeable, and he contrived, besides, to assume the look and air of a man who only indulged in it in compliment to her uncle, and, of course, indirectly to herself, with whom, it was but natural, he should hope to make him an advocate. Still the expression of his countenance, as he managed it, appeared to her to be that of a profound and serious thinker—one whose feelings, when engaged, were likely to retain a strong hold of his heart. That he should model his features into such an expression is by no means strange, when we reflect with what success hypocrisy can stamp upon them all those traits of character for which she wishes to get credit from the world.
"Come, Tom," said his lordship, "it's time for luncheon; we can't allow our friends to go without refreshments. I say, Woodward, I'm a hospitable old fellow; did you ever know that before?"
"I have often heard it, my lord," replied the other, "and I hope to have still better proof of it." This was uttered with a significant, but respectful glance, at the niece, who was by no means displeased at it.
"Ay! ay!" said his lordship, laughing, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Well, you shall have an opportunity, and soon, too; you appear to be a blunt, honest fellow; and hang me but I like you."
Miss Riddle now went out to order in the refreshments, but not without feeling it strange how her uncle and herself should each contemplate Woodward's character in so different a light—the uncle looking upon him as a blunt, honest fellow, whilst to her he appeared as a man of sense, and a perfect gentleman Such, however, was the depth of his hypocrisy, that he succeeded at once in pleasing both, and in deceiving both.
"Well, Woodward, what do you think of Tom?" asked his lordship.
"Why, my lord, that she is an admirable and lovely girl."
"Well, you are right, sir; Tom is an admirable girl, and loves her old uncle as if he was her father, or maybe a great deal better; she will have all I am worth when I pop off, so there's something for you to think upon."
"No man, my lord, capable of appreciate ing her could think of anything but herself."
"What! not of her property?"
"Property, my-lord; is a very secondary subject when taken into consideration with the merits of the lady herself. I am no enemy to property, and I admit its importance as an element of happiness when reasonably applied, but I am neither sordid nor selfish; and I know how little, after all, it contributes to domestic enjoyment, unless accompanied by those virtues which constitute the charm of connubial life."
"Confound me but you must have got that out of a book, Woodward."
"Out of the best book, my lord—the book of life and observation."
"Why, curse it, you are talking philosophy, though."
"Only common sense, my lord."
His lordship, who was walking to and fro in the room, turned abruptly round, looked keenly at him, and then, addressing Mrs. Lindsay, said,—
"Why, upon my soul, Mrs. Lindsay, we must try and do something with this fellow; he'll be lost to the world if we don't. Come, I say, we must make a public man of him."
"To become a public man is his own ambition, my lord," replied Mrs. Lindsay; "and although I am his mother, and may feel prejudiced in his favor, still I agree with your lordship that it is a pity to see such abilities as his unemployed."
"Well, madam, we shall consider of it. What do you think, Woodward, if we made a bailiff of you?"
At this moment Miss Riddle entered the room just in time to hear the question.
"The very thing, my lord; and the first capture I should make would be Miss Riddle, your fair niece here."
"Curse me, but the fellow's a cat," said the peer, laughing. "Throw him as you will, he always falls upon his legs. What do you think, Tom? Curse me but your suitor here talked philosophy in your absence."
"Only common sense, Miss Riddle," said Harry. "Philosophy, it is said, excludes feeling; but that is not a charge which I ever heard brought against common sense."
"I am an enemy neither to philosophy nor common sense," replied his niece, "because I think neither of them incompatible with feeling; but I certainly prefer common sense."
"There's luncheon announced," said the peer, rubbing his hands, "and that's a devilish deal more comfortable than either of them. Come, Mrs. Lindsay; Woodward, take Tom with you."
They then descended to the dining-room, where the conversation was lively and amusing, the humorous old peer furnishing the greater proportion of the mirth.
"Mrs. Lindsay," said he, as they were preparing to go, "I hope, after all, that this clever son of yours is not a fortune-hunter."
"He need not be so, my lord," replied his mother, "and neither is he. He himself will have a handsome property."
"Will have. I would rather you wouldn't speak in the future tense, though. Woodward," he added, addressing that gentleman, "remember that I told you that I sleep with one eye open."
"If you have any doubts, my lord, on this subject," replied Woodward, "you may imitate me: sleep with both open."
"Ay, as the hares do, and devil a bit they're the better for it; but, in the meantime, what property have you, or will you have? There is nothing like coming to the point."
"My lord," replied Woodward, "I respect Miss Riddle too much to enter upon such a topic in her presence. You must excuse me, then, for the present; but if you wish for precise information on the subject, I refer you to my mother, who will, upon a future occasion—and I trust it will be soon—afford you every satisfaction on this matter."
"Well," replied his lordship, "that is fair enough—a little vague, indeed—but no matter, your mother and I will talk about it. In the meantime you are a devilish clever fellow, and, as I said, I like you; but still I will suffer no fortune-hunter to saddle himself upon my property. I repeat it, I sleep with one eye open. I will be happy to see you soon, Mr. Woodward; but remember I will be determined on this subject altogether by the feelings of my niece Tom here."
"I have already said, my lord," replied Woodward, "that, except as a rational element in domestic happiness, I am indifferent to the consideration or influence of property. The prevailing motives with me are the personal charms; the character, and the well-known virtues of your niece. It is painful to me to say even this in her presence, but your lordship has forced it from me. However, I trust that Miss Riddle understands and will pardon me."
"Mr. Woodward," she observed, "you have said nothing unbecoming a gentleman; nothing certainly but that which you could not avoid saying."
After the usual forms of salutation at parting, Harry and his mother entered the old carriage and proceeded on their way home.
"Well, Harry," said his mother, "what do you think?"
"A hit," he replied; "a hit with both, but especially with the niece, who certainly is a fine girl. If there is to be any opposition, it will be with that comical old buffoon, her uncle. He says he sleeps with one eye open, and I believe it. You told me it could not be determined whether he was more fool or knave; but, from all I have seen of him, the devil a bit of fool I can perceive, but, on the contrary, a great deal of the knave. Take my word for it, old Cockle-town is not to be imposed upon."
"Is there no likelihood of that wretch, Alice Goodwin, dying?" said his mother.
"That is a case I must take in hand," returned the son. "I shall go to Ballyspellan and put an end to her. After that we can meet old Cockletown with courage. I feel that I am a favorite with his niece, and she, you must have perceived, is a favorite with him, and can manage him as she wishes, and that is one great point gained—indeed, the greatest."
"No," replied his mother, "the greatest is the death of Alice Goodwin."
"Be quiet," said her worthy son; "that shall be accomplished."
CHAPTER XVII. Description of the Original Tory
—Their Manner of Swearing
We have introduced an Irish outlaw, or tory, in the person of Shawn-na-Middoque, and, as it may be necessary to afford the reader a clearer insight into this subject, we shall give a short sketch of the character and habits of the wild and lawless class to which he belonged. The first description of those savage banditti that has come down to us with a distinct and characteristic designation, is known as that of the wild band of tories who overran the South and West of Ireland both before the Revolution and after it. The actual signification of the word tory, though now, and for a long time, the appellative of a political party, is scarcely known except to the Irish scholar and historian. The term proceeds from the Irish noun toir, a pursuit, a chase; and from that comes its cognate, toiree, a person chased, or pursued—thereby meaning an outlaw, from the fact that the individuals to whom it was first applied were such as had, by their murders and robberies, occasioned themselves to be put beyond the protection of all laws, and, consequently, were considered outlaws, or tories, and liable to be shot down without the intervention of judge or jury, as they often were, wherever they could be seen or apprehended. We believe the word first assumed its distinct character in the wars of Cromwell, as applied to the wild freebooters of Ireland.
Tory-hunting was at one time absolutely a pastime in Ireland, in consequence of this desperate body of people having proved the common enemy of every class, without reference to either religious or political distinction. We all remember the old nursery song, which, however simple, is very significant, and affords us an excellent illustration of their unfortunate condition, and the places of their usual retreat.
"I'll tell you a story about Johnny Magrory, Who went to the wood and shot a tory; I'll tell you another about his brother. Who went to the wood and shot another."
From this it is evident that the tories of the time of Cromwell and Charles the Second were but the lineal descendants of the thievish wood kernes mentioned by Spenser, or at least the inheritors of their habits. Defoe attributes the establishment of the word in England to the infamous Titus Oates.
"There was a meeting," says he "(at which I was present), in the city, upon the occasion of the discovery of some attempt to stifle the evidence of the witnesses (about the Popish plot), and tampering with Bedlow and Stephen Dugdale. Among the discourse Mr. Bedlow said 'he had letters from Ireland; that there were some tories to be brought over hither, who were privately to murder Dr. Oates and the said Bedlow.' The doctor, whose zeal was very hot, could never hear any man after this talk against the plot, or against the witnesses, but he thought he was one of the tories, and called almost every man who opposed him in his discourse a tory—till at last the word became popular. Hume's account of it is not very much different from this.
"The court party," says he, "reproached their antagonists with their affinity to the fanatical conventiclers of Scotland, who were known by the name of Whigs.* The country party found a resemblance between the courtiers and the Popish banditti in Ireland, on whom the appellation of tory was affixed. And after this manner these foolish terms of reproach came into public and general use."
* The word whig is taken from the fact, that in Scotland it was applied to milk that had become sour; and to this day milk that has lost its sweetness is termed by the Scotch, and their descendants in the north of Ireland, whigged milk.
It is evident, from Irish history, that the original tories, politically speaking, belonged to no party whatever. They were simply thieves, robbers, and murderers on their own account. Every man's hand was against them, and certainly their hands were against every man. The fact is, that in consequence of the predatory nature of Irish warfare, which plundered, burned, and devastated as it went along, it was impossible that thousands of the wretched Irish should not themselves be driven by the most cruel necessity, for the preservation of their lives and of those of their families, to become thieves and plunderers in absolute self-defence. Their habitations, such as they were, having been destroyed and laid in ruins, they were necessarily driven to seek shelter in the woods, caves, and other fastnesses of the country, from which they issued forth in desperate hordes, armed as well as they could, to rob and to plunder for the very means of life. Goaded by hunger and distress of every kind, those formidable and ferocious "wood kernes" only paid the country back, by inflicting on it that plunder and devastation which they had received at its hands. Neither is it surprising that they should make no distinction in their depredations, because they experienced, to their cost, that no "hosting," on either or any side, ever made a distinction with them. Whatever hand was uppermost, whether in the sanguinary struggles of their rival chiefs, or in those between the Irish and English, or Anglo-Irish, the result was the same to them. If they were not robbed or burned out to-day, they might be to-morrow; and under such circumstances to what purpose could they be expected to exercise industrious or laborious habits, when they knew that they might go to bed in comfort at night, and rise up beggars in the morning? It is easy to see, then, that it was the lawless and turbulent state of the country that reduced them to such a mode of life, and drove them to make reprisals upon the property of others, in the absence of any safe or systematic way of living. There is no doubt that a principle of revenge and retaliation animated their proceedings, and that they stood accountable for acts of great cruelty and murder, as well as of robbery. The consequence necessarily was, that they felt themselves beyond the protection of all law, and fearfully distinct in the ferocity of their character from the more civilized population of the country, which waged an exterminating warfare against them under the sanction and by the assistance of whatever government existed.
It was about the year 1689 that they began to assume or to be characterized by a different designation—we mean that of rapparees; so called, it is said, from the fact of their using the half pike or short rapier; although, for our part, we are inclined to think that they were so termed from the word rapio, to plunder, which strikes us as the most appropriate and obvious. At all events it is enough to say that the tories were absorbed in the rapparees, and their name in Ireland and Great Britain, except as a political class, was forgotten and lost in that of the rapparees, who long survived them.
Barney Casey was, as the reader must have perceived, a young fellow of good sense and very acute observation. He had been, since an early period of his youth, domesticated in the family of Mr. Lindsay, who respected him highly for his attachment and integrity. He had a brother, however, who, with his many good qualities, was idle and headstrong. His name was Michael, and, sooth to say, the wild charm of a freebooter's life, in addition to his own indisposition to labor for his living, were more than the weak materials of his character could resist. He consequently joined Shawn-na-Middogue and his gang, and preferred the dangerous and licentious life of a robber and plunderer to that of honesty and labor—precisely as many men connected with a seafaring life prefer the habits of the smuggler or the pirate to those of the more honorable or legitimate profession. Poor Barney exerted all his influence with his brother with a hope of rescuing him from the society and habits of hia dissolute companions, but to no purpose. It was a life of danger and excitement—of plans and projects, and changes, and chases, and unexpected encounters—of retaliation, and, occasionally, the most dreadful revenge. Such, however, was the state of society at that time, that those persons who had connected themselves with these desperate outlaws were by no means afraid to pay occasional visits to their own relatives, and from time to time to hold communication with them. Nay, not only was this the fact, but, what is still more strange, many persons who were related to individuals connected with this daring and unmanageable class were in the habit of attending their nightly meetings, sometimes for the purpose of preventing a robbery, or of killing a family whom they wished to suffer.
One night, during this period of our narrative, Barney's brother contrived to have secret interview with him for the purpose of communicating some information to him which had reached his ears from Shawn-na-Middogue, to the effect that Caterine Collins had admitted to him (Shawn), upon his promise of marrying her—a promise made only for the purpose of getting into her confidence, and making her useful as an agent to his designs—that she knew, she said, that it was not his brother Charles who had brought unfortunate Grace Davoren to ruin, but Harry Woodward, and, she added, when it was too late, she suspected something from his manner, of his intention to send Charles, on that disastrous night, in his stead. But Shawn, who knew Caterine and her connections well, recommended Michael Casey to apprise his brother that he could not keep too sharp an eye upon the movements of both, but, above all things, to try and induce him to set Woodward in such a way that he could repair the blow upon him, which, in mistake, he had dealt to his innocent brother. Now, although Barney almost detested Woodward, yet he was incapable of abetting Shawn's designs upon Suit Balor.
"No," said he to his brother, "I would die first. It is true I do not like a bone in his body, but I will never lend myself to such a cowardly act as that; besides, from all I know of Shawn, I did not think he would stoop to murder."
"Ay, but think of our companions," replied hia brother, "and think too, of what a notion they have of it. Shawn, however, is a different man from most, if not all, of them—and he says he was urged on by a fit of fury when he found the man, that he thought the destroyer of Grace Davoren, speaking to her in such a lonely and suspicious place. It was his intention to have bidden him to stand on his guard and defend himself, but jealousy and revenge overcame him at the moment, and he struck the blow. Thank God that it failed; but you may take my word that the next won't—because Shawn now swears, that without preface or apology, or one moment's warning, he will stab him to the heart wherever he can meet him."
"It's a bad life," replied Barney, "that Shawn's leading; but, poor fellow, he and his resaved hard treatment—their house and place torn down and laid in rains, and instead of protection from government, they found themselves proclaimed outlaws. What could he and they do? But, Michael, it was a different thing with you. Our family were comfortable—too much so, indeed, for you; you got idle habits and a distaste for work, and so, rather than settle down to industry, you should join them."
"Ay, and so would you, if you knew the life we lead."
"That might be," replied his brother, "if I didn't happen to think of the death you die."
"As to that," said Michael, "we have all made up our minds; shooting and hanging will get nothing out of us but the death-laugh at our enemies."
"Ay, enemies of your own making," said Barney; "but as to the death-laugh on the gallows, remember that that is at your own expense. It will be what we call on the wrong side of the mouth, I think. But in regard of these nightly meetings of yours, I would have no objection to see one of them. Do you think I would be allowed to join you for an hour or two, that I might hear and see what you say and do?"
"You may, Barney; but you know it isn't every one that would get that privilege; but in ordher to make sure, I'll spake to Shawn about it. Leave is light, they say; and as he knows you're not likely to turn a spy upon our hands, I'm certain he won't have any objection."
"When and where will you meet next?" asked Barney.
"On the very spot where Shawn struck his middogue into the body of Masther Charles," replied his brother. Shawn has some oath of revenge to make against Woodward, because he suspects that the villain knows where poor Granua Davoren is."
"Well, on that subject he may take his own coorse," replied Barney; "but as for me, Michael, I neither care nor will think of the murdher of a fellow-crature, no matther how wicked he may be, especially when I know that it is planned for him. As a man and a Christian, I cannot lend myself to it, and of coorse—but this is between ourselves—I will put Mr. Woodward on his guard."
Those were noble sentiments, considering the wild and licentious period of which we write, and the dreadfully low estimate at which human life was then held.
"Act as you like," replied Michael; "but this I can tell you, and this I do tell you, that if, for the safety of this villain, you take a single step that may bring Shawn-na-Middogue into danger, if you were my brother ten times over I will not prevent him—Shawn I mean—from letting loose his vengeance upon you. No, nor upon Rathfillan House and all that it contains, you among the number."
"I will do nothing," replied Barney, firmly, "to bring Shawn or any of you into danger; but as sure as I have a Christian soul to be saved, and my life in my body, I will, as I said, put Mr. Harry Woodward upon his guard against him. So now, if you think it proper to let me be present at your meeting, knowing what you know, I will go, but not otherwise."
"I feel, Barney," said his brother, "that my mind is much hardened of late by the society I keep. I remember when I thought murder as horrible a thing as you do, but now it is not so. The planning and the plotting of it is considered only as a good joke among us."
"But why don't you lave them, then?" said Barney. "The pious principles of our father and mother were never such as they practise and preach among you. Why don't you lave them, I say?"
"Don't you know," replied Michael, "that that step would be my death warrant? Once we join them we must remain with them, let what may happen. No man laving them, unless he gets clear of the country altogether, may expect more than a week's lease of life; in general not so much. They look upon him as a man that has been a spy among them, and who has left them to make his peace, and gain a fortune from government for betraying them; and you know how often it has happened."
"It is too true, Michael," replied his brother, "for unfortunately it so happens that, whether for good or evil, Irishmen can never be got to stand by each other. Ay, it is true—too true. In the meantime call on me to-morrow with liberty from Shawn to attend your meeting, and we will both go there together."
"Very well," replied his brother, "I will do so."
The next night was one of tolerably clear moonlight; and about the hour of twelve or one o'clock some twenty or twenty-five outlaws were assembled immediately adjoining the spot where Charles Lindsay was so severely and dangerously wounded. The appearance of those men was singular and striking. Their garbs, we need scarcely inform our readers, were different from those of the present day. Many—nay, most, if not all of them, were bitter enemies to the law, which rendered it penal for them to wear their glibs, and in consequence most of those present had them in full perfection around their heads, over which was worn the barrad or Irish cap, which, however, was then beginning to fall into desuetude. There was scarcely a man of them on whose countenance was not stamped the expression of care, inward suffering, and, as it would seem, the recollection of some grief or sorrow which had befallen themselves or their families. There was something, consequently, determined and utterly reckless in their faces, which denoted them to be men who had set at defiance both the world and its laws. They all wore the truis, the brogue, and beneath the cloaks which covered them were concealed the celebrated Irish skean or mid-dogue, so that at the first glance they presented the appearance of men who were in a peaceful garb and unarmed. The persons of some of them were powerful and admirably symmetrical, as could be guessed from their well-defined outlines. They arranged themselves in a kind of circle around Shawn-na-Middogue, who stood in the centre as their chief and leader. A spectator, however, could not avoid observing that, owing to the peculiarity of their costume, which, in consequence of their exclusion from society, not to mention the poverty and hardship which they were obliged to suffer, their appearance as a body was wild and almost savage. In their countenances was blended a twofold expression, composed of ferocity and despair. They felt themselves excommunicated, whether justly or not, from the world and its institutions, and knew too well that society, and the laws by which it is regulated and protected, were hunting them like beasts of prey for their destruction. Perhaps they deserved it, and this consideration may still more strongly account for their fierce and relentless-looking aspect. There is, in the meantime, no doubt that, however wild, ferocious, and savage they may have appeared, the strong and terrible hand of injustice and oppression had much, too much, to do with the crimes which they had committed, and which drove them out of the pale of civilized life. Altogether the spectacle of their appearance there on that night was a melancholy, as well as a fearful one, and ought to teach statesmen that it is not by oppressive laws that the heart of man can be improved, but that, on the contrary, when those who project and enact them come to reap the harvest of their policy, they uniformly find it one of violence and crime. So it has been since the world began, and so it will be so long as it lasts, unless a more genial and humane principle of legislation shall become the general system of managing, and consequently, of improving society.
"Now, my friends," said Shawn-na-Middogue, "you all know why we are here. Unfortunate Granua Davoren has disappeared, and I have brought you together that we may set about the task of recovering her, whether she is living or dead. Even her heart-broken parents would feel it a consolation to have her corpse in order that they might give it Christian burial. It will be a shame and a disgrace to us if she is not found, as I said, living or dead. Will you all promise to rest neither night nor day till she is found? In that case swear it on your skeans."
In a moment every skean was out, and, with one voice, they said, "By the contents of this blessed iron, that has been sharpened for the hearts of our oppressors, we will never rest, either by night or by day, till we find her, living or dead"—every man then crossed himself and kissed his skean—"and, what is more," they added, "we will take vengeance upon the villain that ruined her."
"Hould," said Shawn; "do you know who he is?"
"By all accounts," they replied, "the man that you struck."
"No!" exclaimed Shawn, "I struck the wrong man; and poor Granua was right when she screamed out that I had murdered the innocent. But now," he added, "why am I here among you? I will tell you, although I suppose the most of you know it already: it was good and generous Mr. Lindsay's she-devil of a wife that did it; and it was her he-devil of a son, Harry Woodward, that ruined Granua Davoren. My mother happened to say that she was a heartless and tyrannical woman, that she had the Evil Eye, and that a devil, under the name of Shan-dhinne-dhuv, belonged to her family, and put her up to every kind of wickedness. This, which was only the common report, reached her ears, and the consequence was that because we were-behind in the rent only a single gale, she sent in her bailiffs without the knowledge of her husband, who was from home at the time, and left neither a bed under us nor a roof over us. At all events, it is well for her that she was a woman; but she has a son born in her own image, so far, at least, as a bad heart is concerned; that son is the destroyer of Granua Davoren; but not a man of you must raise his hand to him: he must be left to my vengeance. Caterine Collins has told me much more about him, but it is useless to mention it. The Evil Spirit I spoke of, the Shan-dhinne-dhuv, and he have been often seen together; but no matter for that; he'll find the same spirit badly able to protect him; so, as I said before, he must be left to my vengeance."
"You mentioned Caterine Collins?" said one of them. "Caterine has friends here, Shawn. What is your opinion of her?"
"Yes," observed another, "she has friends here; but, then, she has enemies too, men who have a good right to hate the ground she walks on."
"Whatever my opinion of Caterine Collins may be," said Shawn, "I will keep it to myself; I only say, that the man who injures her is no friend of mine. Isn't she a woman? And, surely, we are not to quarrel with, or injure a defenceless woman."
By this piece of policy Shawn gained considerable advantage. His purpose was to preserve such an ascendency over that cunning and treacherous woman as might enable him to make her useful in working out his own designs, his object being, not only on that account, but for the sake of his own personal safety, to stand well with both her friends and her enemies.
Other matters were discussed, and plans of vengeance proposed and assented to, the details of which would afford our readers but slight gratification. After their projects had been arranged, this wild and savage, but melancholy group, dispersed, and so intimately were they acquainted with the intricacies of cover and retreat which then characterized the surface of the country, that in a few minutes they seemed rather to have vanished like spectres than to have disappeared like living men. Shawn, however, remained behind in order to hold some private conversation with Barney Casey.
"Barney," said he, "I wish to speak, to you about that villain Woodward."
"I don't at all doubt," replied this honest and manly peasant, "that he is a villain; but at the same time, Shawn, you must remember that I am not a tory, and that I will neither aid nor assist you in your designs of murdher upon him. I received betther principles from my father and the mother who bore me; and indeed I think the same thing may be said of yourself, Shawn. Still and all, there is no doubt but that, unlike that self-willed brother of mine, you had heavy provocation to join the life you did."
"Well, Barney," replied Shawn, in a melancholy tone of voice, "if the same oppressions were to come on us again, I think I would take another course. My die, however, is cast, and I must abide by it. What I wanted to say to you, however, is this:—You are livin' in the same house with Woodward; keep your eye on him—watch him well and closely; he is plotting evil for somebody."
"Why," said Barney, "how do you know that?"
"I have it," replied Shawn, "from good authority. He has paid three or four midnight visits to Sol, the herb docthor, and you know that a greater old scoundrel than he is doesn't breathe the breath of life. It has been long suspected that he is a poisoner, and they say that in spite of the poverty he takes on him, he is rich and full of money. It can be for no good, then, that Woodward consults him at such unseasonable hours."
"Ay; but who the devil could he think of poisoning?" said Barney. "I see nobody he could wish to poison."
"Maybe, for all that, the deed is done," replied Shawn. "Where, for instance, is unfortunate Granua? Who can tell that he hasn't dosed her?"
"I believe him villain enough to do it," returned the other; "but still I don't think he did. He was at home to my own knowledge the night she disappeared, and could know nothing of what became of her. I think that's a sure case."
"Well," said Shawn, "it may be so; but in the manetime his stolen visits to the ould herb docthor are not for nothing. I end, then, as I began—keep your eye on him; watch him closely—and now, good night."
These hints were not thrown away upon Barney, who was naturally of an observant turn; and accordingly he kept a stricter eye than ever upon the motions of Harry Woodward. This accomplished gentleman, like every villain of his class, was crafty and secret in everything he did and said; that is to say, his object was always to lead those with whom he held intercourse, to draw the wrong inference from his words and actions. Even his mother, as the reader will learn, was not in his full confidence. Such men, however, are so completely absorbed in the management of their own plans, that the latent principle or motive occasionally becomes apparent, without any consciousness of its exhibition on their part. Barney soon had an opportunity of suspecting this. His brother Charles, after what appeared to be a satisfactory convalescence, began to relapse, and a fresh fever to set in. The first person to communicate the melancholy intelligence to Woodward happened to be Barney himself, who, on meeting him early in the morning, said,—
"I am sorry, Mr. Woodward, to tell you that Masther Charles is a great deal worse; he spent a bad night, and it seems has got very feverish."
A gleam of satisfaction—short and transient, but which, however, was too significant to be misunderstood by such a sagacious observer as Barney—flashed across his countenance—but only for a moment. He recomposed his features, and assuming a look expressive of the deepest sorrow, said,—
"Good heavens, Casey, do you tell me that my poor brother is worse, and we all in such excellent spirits at what we considered his certain but gradual recovery?"
"He is much worse, sir; and the masther this morning has strong doubts of his recovery. He's in great affliction about him, and so are they all. His loss would be felt in the neighborhood, for, indeed, it's he that was well beloved by all who knew him."
"He certainly was a most amiable and affectionate young fellow," said Woodward, "and, for my part, if he goes from us through the means of that murdering blow, I shall hunt Shawn-na-Middogue to the death."
"Will you take a friend's advice?" replied Barney: "we all of us wish, of coorse, to die a Christian death upon our beds, that we may think of the sins we have committed, and ask the pardon of our Saviour and inthersessor for them. I say, then, if you wish to die such a death, and to have time to repent of your sins, avoid coming across Shawn-na-Middogue above all men in the world. I tell you this as a friend, and now you're warned."
Woodward paused, and his face became black with a spirit of vengeance.
"How does it happen, Casey," he asked, "that you are able to give me such a warning? You must have some particular information on the subject."
"The only information I have on the subject is this—that you are set down among most people as the man who destroyed Grace Davoren, and not your brother; Shawn believes this, and on that account, I say, it will be well for you to avoid him. He believes, too, that you have her concealed somewhere—although I don't think so; but if you have, Mr. Woodward, it would be an act of great kindness—an act becomin' both a gentleman and a Christian—to restore the unfortunate girl to her parents."
"I know no more about her than you do, Casey. How could I? Perhaps my poor brother, when he is capable of it, may be able to afford us some information on the subject. As it is I know nothing of it, but I shall leave nothing undone to recover her if she be alive, or if the thing can be accomplished. In the meantime all I can think of is the relapse of my poor brother. Until he gets better I shall not be able to fix my mind upon anything else. What is Grace Davoren or Shaivn-nu-Middogue—the accursed scoundrel—to me, so long as my dear Charles is in a state of danger?"
"Now," said he, when they parted "now to work earth and hell to secure Shaum-na-Middogue. He has got my secret concerning the girl Davoren, and I feel that while he is at large I cannot be safe. There is a reward for his head, whether alive or dead, but that I scorn. In the meantime, I shall not lose an hour in getting together a band who will scour the country along with myself, until we secure him. After that I shall be at perfect liberty to work out my plans without either fear of, or danger from, this murdering ruffian."
CHAPTER XVIII. The Toir, or Tory Hunt.
Harry Woodward now began to apprehend that, as the reader sees, either his star or that of Shawn-na-Middogue must be in the ascendant. He accordingly set to work with all his skill and craft to secure his person and offer him up as a victim to the outraged laws of his country, and to a government that had set a price upon his head, as the leader of the outlaws; or, what came nearer to his wish, either to shoot him down with his own hand, or have him shot by those who were on the alert for such persons. The first individual to whom he applied upon the subject was his benevolent step-father, who he knew was a magistrate, and whose duty was to have the wretched class of whom we write arrested or shot as best they might.
"Sir," said he, "I think after what has befallen my dear brother Charles that this murdering villain, Shawn-na-Middogue, who is at the head of the tories and outlaws, ought to be shot, or taken up and handed over to government."
"Why," asked Mr. Lindsay, "what has happened in connection with Shawn-na-Middogue and your brother?"
"Why, that it was from his hand he received the wound that may be his death. That, I think, is sufficient to make you exert yourself; and indeed it is, in my opinion, both a shame and a scandal that the subject has not been taken up with more energy by the magistracy of the country."
"But who can tell," replied Lindsay, "whether it was Shawn-na-Middogue that stabbed Charles? Charles himself does not know the individual who stabbed him."
"The language of the girl, I think," replied Woodward, "might indicate it. He was once her lover—"
"But she named nobody," replied the other; "and as for lovers, she had enough of them. If Shawn-na-Middogue is an outlaw now, I know who made him so. I remember when there wasn't a better conducted boy on your mother's property. He was a credit to his family and the neighborhood; but they were turned out in my absence by your unfeeling mother there, Harry; and the fine young fellow had nothing else for it but the life of an outlaw. Confound me if I can much blame him."
"Thank you, Lindsay," replied his wife; "as kind as ever to the woman who brought you that property. But you forget what the young scoundrel's mother said of me—do you? that I had the Evil Eye, and that there was a familiar or devil connected with me and my family?"
"Egad! and I'm much of her opinion," replied her husband; "and if she said it, I give you my honor it is only what every one who knows you says, and what I, who know you best, say as well as they. Begone, madam—leave the room; it was your damned oppression made the boy a tory. Begone, I say—I will bear with your insolence no longer."
He stood up as he spoke—his eye flashed, and the stamp of his foot made the floor shake. Mrs. Lindsay knew her husband well, and without a single syllable in reply she arose and left the room.
"Harry," proceeded his stepfather, "I shall take no proceedings against that unfortunate young man—tory though he be; I would resign my magistracy sooner. Do not, therefore, count on me."
"Well, sir," said he, with a calm but black expression of countenance, "I will not enter into domestic quarrels; but I am my mother's son."
"You are," replied Lindsay, looking closely at him—"and I regret it. I do not like the expression of your face—it is bad; worse I have seldom seen."
"Be that expression what it may, sir," replied Woodward, "by the heavens above me I shall rest neither night nor day until I put an end to Shawn-na-Middogue."
"In the meantime you shall have no assistance from me, Harry; and it ill becomes your mother's son—the woman whose cruelty to the family made him what he is—to attempt to hunt him down. On the contrary, I tell you as a friend to let him pass; the young man is desperate, and his vengeance, or that of his followers, may come on you when you least expect it. It is not his death that will secure you. If he dies through your means, he will leave those behind him who will afford you but short space to settle your last account."
"Be the consequences what they may," replied Woodward, "either he or I shall fall."
He left the room after expressing this determination, and his step-father said,—
"I'm afraid, Maria, we don't properly understand Master Harry. I am much troubled by what has occurred just now. I fear he is a hypocrite in morals, and without a single atom of honorable principle. Did you observe the expression of his face? Curse me if I think the devil himself has so bad a one. Besides, I have heard something about him that I don't like—something which I am not going to mention to you; but I say that in future we must beware of him."
"I was sorry, papa, to see the expression of his face," replied Maria; "it was fearful; and above all things the expression of his eye. It made me feel weak whenever he turned it on me."
"Egad, and it had something of the same effect on myself," replied her father. "There is some damned expression in it that takes away one's strength. Well," as I said, "we must beware of him."
Woodward's next step was to pay a visit to Lord Cockletown, who, as he had gained his title in consequence of his success in tory-hunting, and capturing the most troublesome and distinguished outlaws of that day, was, he thought, the best and most experienced person to whom he could apply for information as to the most successful means of accomplishing his object. He accordingly waited on his lordship, to whom he thought, very naturally, that this exploit would recommend him. His lordship was in the garden, where Woodward found him in hobnailed shoes, digging himself into what he called his daily perspirations.
"Don't be surprised, Mr. Woodward," said he, "at my employment; I am taking my every-day sweat, because I feel that I could not drink as I do and get on without it. Well, what do you want with me? Is it anything about Tom? Egad, Tom says she rather likes you than otherwise; and if you can satisfy me as to property settlements, and all that, I won't stand in your way; but, in the meantime, what do you want with me now? If it's Tom's affair, the state of your property comes first."
"No, my lord, I shall leave all dealings of business between you and my mother. This is a different affair, and one on which I wish to have your lordship's advice and direction."
"Ay, but what is it? Confound it, come to the point."
"It is a tory-hunt, my lord."
"Who is the tory, or who are the tories? Come, I'm at home here. What's your plan?"
"Why, simple pursuit. We have the posse comitatus."
"The posse comitatus!—the posse devil; what do the tories care about the posse comitatus? Have you bloodhounds?"
"No, my lord, but I think we can procure them."
"Because," proceeded his lordship, "to go hunt a tory without bloodhounds is like looking for your grandmother's needle in a bottle of straw."
"I am thankful to your lordship for that hint," replied Harry Woodward; "but the truth is, I have been almost since my infancy out of the country, and am consequently, very ignorant of its usages."
"What particular tory are you going to hunt?'"
"A fellow named Shawn-na-Middogue."
"Ah! Shawn-na-Middogue, your mother's victim? Don't hunt him. If you're wise you'll keep your distance from that young fellow. I tell you, Mr. Woodward, there will be more danger to yourself in the hunt than there will be to him. It's a well-known fact that it was your mother's severity to his family that made a tory of him; and, as I said before, I would strongly recommend you to avoid him. How many bloodhounds have you got?"
"Why, I think we can muster half a dozen."
"Ay, but do you know how to hunt them?"
"Not exactly; but I suppose we may depend upon the instinct of the dogs."
"No, sir, you may not, unless to a very limited extent. Those tories always, when pursued by bloodhounds, go down the wind whenever it is possible, and, consequently, leave very little trail behind them. Your object will be, of course, to hunt them against the wind; they will consequently have little chance of escape, unless, as they are often in the habit of doing, they administer a sop."
"What is a sop, my lord?"
"A piece of raw beef or mutton, kept for twenty-four hours under the armpit until it becomes saturated with the moisture of the body; after this, administer it to the dog, and instead of attacking he will follow you over the world. The other sop resorted to by these fellows is the middogue, or skean, and, as they contrive to manage its application, it is the surer of the two. Should you like to see Tom?"
"Unquestionably, my lord. I intended before going to have requested the honor of a short interview."
"Ay, of course, to make love. Well, I tell you that Tom, like her uncle, has her wits about her. Go up, then, you will find her in the withdrawing-room; and listen—I desire that you will tell her of your tory-hunting project, and ask her opinion upon it. Now, don't forget that, because I will make inquiries about it."
Woodward certainly found her in what was then termed the withdrawing-room. She was in the act of embroidering, and received him with much courtesy and kindness.
"I hope your mother and family are all well, Mr. Woodward," she said; "as for your sister Maria she is quite a stay-at-home. Does she ever visit any one at all?"
"Very rarely, indeed, Miss Riddle: but I think she will soon do herself the pleasure of calling upon you."
"I shall feel much obliged, Mr. Woodward. From what I have heard, and the little I have seen of her, a most amiable girl You have had a chat with my kind-hearted, but eccentric uncle?"
"I have; and he imposed it on me as a condition that I should mention to you an enterprise on which I am bent."
"An enterprise! Pray, what is it?"
"Why, a tory-hunt; I am going to hunt down Shawn-na-Middogue, as he is called, and I think it will be rendering the country a service to get rid of him."
Miss Riddle's face got pale as ashes; and she looked earnestly and solemnly into Woodward's face.
"Mr. Woodward," said she, "would you oblige me with one simple request? Do not hunt down Shawn-na-Middogue: my uncle and I owe him our lives."
"How is that, Miss Riddle?"
"Do you not know that my uncle was a tory hunter?"
"I have certainly heard so," replied Woodward; "and I am, besides, aware of it from the admirable instructions which he gave me concerning the best method of hunting them down."
"Yes, but did he encourage you in your determination of hunting down Shawn-na-Middogue?"
"No, certainly; but, on the contrary, advised me to pass him by—to have nothing to do with him."
"Did he state his reasons for giving you such advice?"
"He mentioned something with reference to certain legal proceedings taken by my mother against the family of Shawn-na-Middogue. But I presume my mother had her own rights to vindicate, and beyond that I know nothing of it. He nearly stabbed my brother to death, and I will leave no earthly means unattempted to shoot the villain down, or otherwise secure him."
"Well, you are aware that my uncle was the most successful and celebrated tory-hunter of his day, and rendered important services to the government in that capacity—services which have been liberally rewarded."
"I am aware of it, Miss Riddle."
"But you are not aware, as I am, that this same Shawn-na-Middogue saved my uncle's life and mine on the night before last?"
"How could I, Miss Riddle?"
"It is a fact, though, and I beg you to mark it; and I trust that if you respect my uncle and myself, you will not engage in this cruel and inhuman expedition."
"But your uncle mentioned nothing of this to me, Miss, Riddle."
"He does not know it yet. I have been all yesterday thinking over the circumstance, with a view of getting his lordship to interfere with the government for this unfortunate youth; but I felt myself placed in circumstances of great difficulty and delicacy with respect to your family and ours. I hope you understand me, Mr. Woodward. I allude to the circumstances which forced him to become an outlaw and a tory, and it struck me that my uncle could not urge any application in his favor without adverting to them."
"O, Miss Riddle, if you feel an interest in his favor, he shall experience no molestation from me."
"The only interest which I feel in him is that of humanity, and gratitude, Mr. Woodward; but, indeed, I should rather say that the gratitude should not be common to a man who saved my uncle's life and mine."
"And pray may I ask how that came about? At all events he has made me his friend forever."
"My uncle and I were returning home from dinner,—we had dined at Squire Dawson's,—and on coming to a lonely part of the road we found our carriage surrounded by a party of the outlaws, who shouted out, 'This is the old tory-hunter, who got his wealth and title by persecuting us, and now we will pay him home for all,' 'Ay,' observed another, 'and his niece is with him, and we will have her off to the mountains.' The carriage was immediately surrounded, and I know not to what an extent their violence and revenge might have proceeded, when Shawn same bounding among them with the air of a man who possessed authority over them.
"'Stop,' said he; 'on this occasion they must go free, and on every occasion. Lord Cockletown, let him be what he may before, is of late a good landlord, and a friend to the people. His niece, too, is—' He then complimented me upon some trifling acts of kindness I had paid to his family when—hem—ahem—in fact, when they stood much in need of it."
This was a delicate evasion of any allusion to the cruel conduct of his mother towards the outlaw's family.
"When," she went on, "he had succeeded in restraining the meditated violence of the tories, he approached me—for they had already dragged me out, and indeed it was my screaming that brought him with such haste to the spot. 'Now, Miss Riddle,' said he, in a low whisper which my uncle could not hear, 'one good act deserves another; you were kind to my family when they stood sorely in need of it. You and your uncle are safe, and, what is more, will be safe: I will take care of that; but forget Shawn-na Middogue, the outlaw and tory, or if ever you mention his name, let it be in a spirit of mercy and forgiveness. Mr. Woodward, you will not hunt down this generous young man?"
"I would as soon hunt down my father, Miss Riddle, if he were alive. I trust you don't imagine that I can be insensible to such noble conduct."
"I do not think you are, Mr. Woodward; and I hope you will allow the unfortunate youth to remain unmolested until my uncle, to whom I shall mention this circumstance this day, may strive to have him restored to society."
We need scarcely assure our readers that Woodward pledged himself in accordance with her wishes, after which he went home and prepared such a mask for his face, and such a disguise of dress for his person, as, when assumed, rendered it impossible for any one to recognize him. Such was the spirit in which he kept his promise to Miss Riddle, and such the honor of every word that proceeded from his hypocritical lips.
In the meantime the preparations for the chase were made with the most extraordinary energy and caution. Woodward had other persons engaged in it, on whom he had now made up his mind to devolve the consequences of the whole proceedings. The sheriff and the posse comitatas, together with assistance from other quarters, had all been engaged; and as some vague intelligence of Shawn-na-Midoque's retreat had been obtained, Woodward proceeded in complete disguise before daybreak with a party, not one of whom was able to recognize him, well armed, to have what was, in those days, called a tory-hunt.
The next morning was dark and gloomy. Gray, heavy mists lay upon the mountain-tops, from which, as the light of the rising sun fell upon them, they retreated in broken masses to the valleys and lower grounds beneath them. A cold, chilly aspect lay upon the surface of the earth, and the white mists that had descended from the mountain-tops, or were drawn up from the ground by the influence of the sun, were, although more condensed, beginning to get a warmer look.
Notwithstanding the secrecy with which this enterprise was projected it had taken wind, and many of those who had suffered by the depredations of the tories were found joining the band of pursuers, and many others who were friendly to them, or who had relations among them, also made their appearance, but contrived to keep somewhat aloof from the main body, though not at such a distance as might seem to render them suspected; their object being to afford whatever assistance they could, with safety to themselves and without incurring any suspicion of affinity to the unfortunate tories.
The country was of intricate passage and full of thick woods. At this distance of time, now that it is cleared and cultivated, our readers could form no conception of its appearance then. In the fastnesses and close brakes of those woods lay the hiding-places and retreats of the tories—"the wood kernes" of Spenser's day. A tory-hunt at that time, or at any time, was a pastime of no common, danger. Those ferocious and determined banditti had little to render life desirable. They consequently set but a slight value upon it. The result was that the pursuits after them by foreign soldiers, and other persons but slightly acquainted with the country, generally ended in disaster and death to several of the pursuers.
On the morning in question the tory-hunters literally beat the woods as if they had been in the pursuit of game, but for a considerable time with little effect. Not the appearance of a single tory was anywhere visible; but, notwithstanding this, it so happened that some one of their enemies occasionally dropped, either dead or wounded, by a shot from the intricacies and covers of the woods, which, upon being searched and examined, afforded no trace whatsoever of those who did the mischief. This was harassing and provocative of vengeance to the military and such wretched police as existed in that day. No search could discover a single trace of a tory, and many of those in the pursuit were obliged to withdraw from it—not unreluctantly, indeed, in order to bear back the dead and wounded to the town of Rathfillan.
As they were entering an open space that lay between two wooded enclosures, a white hare started across their path, to the utter consternation of those who were in pursuit. Woodward, now disguised and in his mask, had been for a considerable time looking behind him, but this circumstance did not escape his notice, and he felt, to say the least of it, startled at her second appearance. It reminded him, however, of the precautions which he had taken; and he looked back from time to time, as we have said, in expectation of something appertaining to the pursuit. At length he exclaimed,
"Where are the party with the blood-hounds? Why have they not joined us and come up with us?
"They have started a wolf," replied one of them, "and the dogs are after him; and some of them have gone back upon the trail of the wounded men."
"Return for them," said he; "without their assistance we can never find the trail of these accursed tories; but, above all, of Shawn-na-Middoque."
In due time the dogs were brought up, but the trails were so various that they separated mostly into single hunts, and went at such a rapid speed that they were lost in the woods.
At length two of them who came up first, gave tongue, and the body of pursuers concentrated themselves on the newly-discovered trail, keeping as close to the dogs as they could. Those two had quartered the woods and returned to the party again when they fell upon the slot of some unfortunate victim who had recently escaped from the place. The pursuit now became energetic and full of interest, if we could forget the melancholy and murderous fact that the game pursued were human victims, who had nothing more nor less to expect from their pursuers than the savage wolves which then infested the forests—a price having been laid upon the heads of each.
After some time the party arrived at the outskirts of the wood, and an individual was seen bounding along in the direction of the mountains—the two dogs in full pursuit of him. The noise, the animation, and the tumult of the pursuit were now astounding, and rang long and loud over the surface of the excited and awakened neighborhood, whilst the wild echoes of their inhuman enjoyment were giving back their terrible responses from the hills and valleys around them. The shouting, the urging on of the dogs by ferocious cries of encouragement, were loud, incessant, and full of a spirit which, at this day, it is terrible to reflect upon. The whole country was alive; and the loud, vociferous agitation which disturbed it, resembled the influence of one of those storms which lash the quiet sea into madness. Fresh crowds joined them, as we have said, and the tumult still became louder and stronger. In the meantime, Shawn-na-Middogue's case—it was he—became hopeless—for it was the speed of the fleetest runner that ever lived to that of two powerful bloodhounds, animated, as they were, by their ferocious instincts. Indeed, the interest of the chase was heightened by the manner and conduct of the dogs, which, when they came upon the trail of the individual, in question, yelped aloud with an ecstatic delight that gave fresh courage to the vociferous band of pursuers.
"Who can that man be?" asked one of them; "he seems to have wings to his feet."
"By the sacred light of day," exclaimed another, "it is no other than the famous Shawn-na-Middogue himself. I know him well; and even if I did not, who could mistake him by his speed of foot?"
"Is that he?" said the mask; "then fifty pounds in addition to the government reward to the man who will shoot him down, or secure him, living or dead: only let him be taken."
Just then four or five persons, friends of course to the unfortunate outlaw, came in before the dogs across the trail, in consequence of which the animals became puzzled, and lost considerable time in regaining it, whilst Shawn, in the meantime, was fast making his way to the mountains.
The reward, however, offered by the man in the black mask—for it was a black one—accelerated the speed of the pursuers, between whom a competition of terrible energy and action arose as to which of them should secure the public reward and the premium that were offered for his blood. Shawn, however, had been evidently exhausted, and sat down considerably in advance of them, on the mountain side, to take breath, in order to better the chance of effecting his escape; but whilst seated, panting after his race, the dogs gained rapidly upon him. Having put his hand over his eyes, and looked keenly down—for he had the sight of an eagle—the approach of the dogs did not seem at all to alarm him.
"Ah, thank God, they will have him soon," said the mask, "and it is a pity that we cannot give them the reward. Who owns those noble dogs?"
"You will see that very soon, sir," replied a man beside him; "you will see it very soon—you may see it now."
As he uttered the words the dogs sprang upon Shawn, wagged their tails as if in a state of most ecstatic delight, and began to caress him and lick his face.
"Finn, my brave Finn!" he exclaimed, patting him affectionately, "and is this you? and Oonah, my darling Oonah, did the villains think that my best friends would pursue me for my blood? Come now," said he, "follow me, and we will lead them a chase."
During this brief rest, however, four of the most active of his pursuers, who knew what is called the lie of the country, succeeded, by passing through the skirt of the wood in a direction where it, was impossible to observe them, in coming up behind the spot where he had sat, and consequently, when he and his dogs, or those which had been once his, ascended its flat summit, the four men pounced upon him. Four against one would, in ordinary cases, be fearful odds; but Shawn knew that he had two stanch and faithful friends to support him. Quick as lightning his middogue was into one of their hearts, and almost as quickly were two more of them seized by the throats and dragged down by the powerful animals that defended him. The fourth man was as rapidly despatched by a single blow, whilst the dogs were literally tearing out the throats of their victims. In the course of about ten minutes, what between Shawn's middogue and the terrible fangs and strength of those dreadful animals, the four men lay there four corpses. Shawn's danger, however, notwithstanding his success, was only increasing. His pursuers had now gained upon him, and when he looked around he found himself hemmed in, or nearly so. Speed of foot was everything; but, what was worst of all, with reference to his ultimate escape, four other dogs were making their way up the mountains—dogs to which he was a stranger, and he knew right well that they would hunt him with all the deadly instincts of blood. They were, however, far in the distance, and he felt little apprehension from them. Be this as it may, he bounded off accompanied by his faithful friends, and not less than twenty shots were fired after him, none of which touched him. The number of his pursuers, dogs included, almost made his heart sink; and would have done so, but that he was probably desperate and reckless of life. He saw himself almost encompassed; he heard the bullets whistling about him, and perceived at a glance that the chances of his escape were a thousand to one against him. With a rapid sweep of his eye he marked the locality. It also was all against him. There was a shoreless lake, abrupt and deep to the very edge, except a slip at the opposite side, lying at his feet. It was oblong, but at each end of it there was nothing like a pass for at least two or three miles. If he could swim across this he knew that he was safe, and that he could do so he felt certain, provided he escaped the bullets and the dogs of the pursuers. At all events he dashed down and plunged in, accompanied by his faithful attendants. Shot after shot was sent after him; and so closely did some of them reach him, that he was obliged to dive and swim under water from time to time, in order to save himself from their aim. The strange bloodhounds, however, which had entered the lake, were gaining rapidly on him, and on looking back he saw them within a dozen yards of him. He was now, however, beyond the reach of their bullets, unless it might be a longer shot than ordinary, but the four dogs were upon him, and in the extremity of despair he shouted out,—"Finn and Oonah, won't you save me?" Shame upon the friendship and attachment of man! In a moment two of the most powerful of the strange dogs were in something that resembled a death struggle with his brave and gallant defenders. The other two, however, were upon himself; but by a stab of his middogue he despatched one of them, and the other he pressed under water until he was drowned.