In this state matters were, when, one morning about a week after the scene we have just described in O'Driscol's office, a dialogue to the following effect took place in the proctor's immense farm-yard, between our friend Mogue Moylan and his quondam sweetheart, Letty Lenehan. Letty, of late, that is since the morning of the peddler's conversation with Mogue, had observed that some unaccountable change had taken place in his whole manner, not only towards herself, but in his intercourse with the rest of his fellow-servants. He was for instance, much more silent that he had ever been: but although he spoke less, he appeared to think more; yet it might be observed, that whatever the subject of his thoughts was, it evidently had diffused a singular degree of serenity, and a peculiarly striking complacency through his whole manner. With respect to herself he had ascended from the lover into the patron; and although she had been amusing herself at his expense throughout their previous courtship, if it could be termed such, yet she felt no less puzzled as to the cause of such a change, and quite as anxious to ascertain it.
On the morning in question, Mogue and Jerry Joyce had been engaged in winnowing a large quantity of wheat in the barn. Jerry, whose manner was ostensibly that of a soft, simple young fellow, and whom but few looked upon as possessed of the ordinary run of common sense, was treated by Mogue, and indeed by most, but not all of his fellow servants, as one would treat a young lad who had not yet arrived at years of discretion, or maturity of judgment.
"Jerry," said Mogue, "why but you do be cortin' the girls, man alive? That I may never sin but it's a great thing to have them fond o' one."
"Ay," replied Jerry, who was perfectly well aware of his foible, "if I had the art of sootherin' and puttin' my comedher an thim like some o' my acquaintances; but, me! is it foolish Jerry Joyce they'd care about? Oh, no! begor that cock wouldn't fight."
"Your acquaintances!" exclaimed Mogue, seizing upon the term, in Jerry's reply, which he knew referred to himself, "and which of your acquaintances, now, does be sootherin' an' puttin' his comedher an' them, eh, Jerry?"
"Oh! dear me, Mogue," replied the other, "how droll you are! As if you thought I didn't mane one Mogue Moylan that they're tearin' their caps about every day in the week."
"Tearin' their caps! arrah, who is, Jerry?"
"Why, the girls."
"The girls! Och! man, sure that's an ould story; but I declare it to you, Jerry, it isn't my fault; it's a nateral gift wid me, for I take no pains to make them fond o' me; that I may never do harm if I do."
"An' how does it, happen that they are? Sure there's Letty, now—poor Letty Lenehan—an' God help her! sure, for the last week, she appears to me to be breakin' her heart. She doesn't say af coorse, that you're the occasion of it; but doesn't every one of us know that you are? Have you been could to her, or what?
"Why thin, now, Jerry, I declare it to you that I'm heart sorry for poor Letty; but what can I do? I amn't my own man, now, do you hear that?"
"Sure you don't mane to say that you're married?"
"Not exactly married; but listen hither, Jerry—you don't know the man you're spakin' to—it's a gift that God gave me—but, you don't know the man you're spakin' to; however as for poor Letty, I'll provide for her some way—the poor affectionate crature; an' she's good-lookin' too; however, as I said, I'll do something for her some way," and here he nodded and winked with most villainous significance.
If Jerry had not fully comprehended the scoundrel's character, it is very probable that this language would have caused him to give the hypocritical villain a sound drubbing; for it must be known to our readers, that Jerry and Letty were faithfully attached to each other—a circumstance which was also known to the whole family, and which nothing could have prevented Mogue from observing but his own blind and egregious vanity.
"But what do you mane, Mogue, when you say you aren't your own man!"
"I can't tell you; but the thruth is, Jerry—poor, good-natured Jerry—that every man ought to look high, especially when he sees the regard that's for him, and especially, too, when God—blessed be his name—has gifted him as some people is gifted. There's a man hereabouts that thinks he could put my nose out o' joint. Oh! it's a great thing, Jerry, to have nice, ginteel, thin features, that won't spoil by the weather. Throth, red cheeks or a white skin in a man isn't becomin'; an' as for larnin', Jerry, it may require a long time to take it in, but a very little hole would soon let it all out. May I never do harm but I'm glad that job's over," alluding to the employment at which they were engaged. "Oh! then, but that's a fine cast o' whate!"
"It is," replied Jerry; "but in regard to the larnin' I don't undherstand you."
"No matther for that, Jerry, I may be a good friend to you yet; ay, indeed may I—poor good-natured Jerry; an' when that time comes, if you have any scruple in axin' Misther Moylan to countenance you and befriend you, why it'll be your own fault my poor, good-natured Jerry."
"Many thanks, Misther Moylan," replied Jerry, assuming a gravity which he could scarcely maintain, "remember that you don't forget your promise. I'm goin' over to get the sacks from Misther John; an' by the way, aren't you goin' out to-day to shoot wid Misther M'Carthy?"
"Well, I declare, I believe I am; I know the mountains well, an' I'm fond of seein' fun, or of hearin' of it, any way."
Jerry then departed, and Mogue, now left to himself, exclaimed in a soliloquy, "Ay, an' if I don't see it this night, I'll hear of it to-morrow, I hope. Mr. M'Carthy, you're in my way; but as I said to that poor omadhawn, although it took many a year to get the larnin' into that head of yours, one little hole will soon let it out again." As Mogue uttered the last words, the ear of Letty Lenehan was somewhat nearer him than he imagined. She had come to call them to breakfast, and seeing that the back-door of the barn was open, she approached it, as being nearest to her, and on peeping in, half disposed for a piece of frolic, she heard Mogue utter the soliloquy we have just repeated; but as he stood with his back towards her, he was not at all aware that she was present, or had heard him.
Immediately after breakfast, Mogue and M'Carthy set out for the mountains, the latter furnished with all the necessary equipments for the sport, and the former carrying a game-bag and refreshments; for as M'Carthy knew that it must be the last day he could devote to such amusements, he resolved to have a good day's sport, if possible.
"Now, Mogue," said his companion, "you are much better acquainted with these mountains than I am, and with those places where we may be likely to find most game. I, therefore, place myself in your hands for the day."
"Well, indeed I ought, sir, to know them," replied Mogue, "and I believe I do; and talkin' of that, you have often heard of the great robber and rapparee, Shaun Bernha?"
"I have heard of him, and of his Stables, which lie up somewhere in these mountains."
"Exactly, sir; an' it is what I was thinkin'; that we might take a look at them in the coorse of our sport to-day; in regard, especially, that there's more game about them than in any other part of the mountains."
"Very well, then, Mogue," replied his companion, "so be it; you are, as I said, my guide for the day."
"But do you know, sir, why he was called Shaun Bernha?"
"No, I can't say I do."
"It was odd enough, to be sure. Howandever, may I be happy but they say it's true! You see, sir, he was called Shaun Bernha bekaise he never had a tooth in his head; an' no more had any of his family; and yet, sir, it's said, that he could bite a piece out of a plate of sheet iron as aisily as you or I could out a cake of gingerbread."
"Well, Morgue, all that I can say to that is, that he had devilish hard gums, and stood in no fear of the toothache."
"Well, then, we'll sweep around the slebeen hills here, keepin' Altnaveenan to our right, and Lough Mocall to our left; then, by going right ahead we'll come to his stables; and indeed they're well worth seein'."
"With all my heart, Mague, never say it again." And they accordingly proceeded at a vigorous pace to the mountains, which were now distant not more than a mile and a half from them.
In the meantime we shall leave them to pursue their game, and beg our readers to accompany us once more to the house of our friend, Fitzy O'Driscol, who, what between the dread of assassination on the one hand, and the delight of having a proper subject to justify him in communicating with the government on the other, passed his time in alterations, now of fear, and again of his peculiar ambition to be recognized as an active and fearless magistrate by the then existing powers, that were, to such as knew the man and understood his character, perfectly ludicrous. On the morning in question, he was, as usual, seated, in his morning-gown and slippers, at the breakfast-table, reading a country paper, in which, by the way, appeared the following paragraph:—
"TURBULENT STATE OR THE COUNTRY.—We regret to say, that the state of the country is every day becoming more and more unsettled. A few days ago, whilst one of our excellent and most resolute magistrates, Fitzgerald O'Driscol, Esq., was engaged in his office, determining an important case of assault that came before him, and which he did, as he usually does, to the perfect satisfaction of the parties, he received, a threatening notice, couched in most violent language, in fact, breathing of blood and assassination! Why a gentleman of such high magisterial character as Mr. O'Driscol should have been selected as an object of popular vengeance, we do not understand. Mr. O'Driscol combines in himself all those qualities that are peculiarly suited to the discharge of his duties in such distracted times as the present. Whilst firm and intrepid, almost to a miracle, he is at the same time easy of access, impartial, and kind to his humble countrymen, to whom he has uniformly proved himself mild and indulgent, so far as justice—which by the way, he always tempers with mercy—will allow him; and in consequence of this, he is uniformly known, and deserves to be known, as the poor man's magistrate. It is true, he is known also to be a man of highly loyal and constitutional principles; a warm friend to order, peace, and a resolute supporter of the laws of the land—qualities which are looked upon as crimes by the resolute and disloyal among our kind-hearted but misguided people. Of one thing, however, he would beg to apprise the mistaken individuals who have ventured to threaten him, and that is, to take care how they attempt to put their foolish threats into execution against so daring and desperate a man as Mr. O'Driscol is when provoked. He goes well armed, is a dead shot, and would feel deeply grieved at having the blood of any of his mistaken countrymen on his hands. This we say from what we know of Mr. O'Driscol, both as a man and as a magistrate. In further connection with the state of the country, we cannot think but that government, if made properly acquainted with it, would place some mild, firm, but fearless and resolute stipendiary magistrate in our neighborhood; we mean, of course, a man who is capable, by the peculiar qualities of his character, to make himself an instrument of great public good, both to the people and the government. Such a man we know; but as we are writing without either his knowledge or consent, we do not feel ourselves called upon to pursue this important subject further. All we can say is, that the violent opposition which is now organized against tithes, and which is already beginning to convulse the country, will, and even now does require, the active courage and decided abilities of such a man."
"Well, now, Catherine," said he, addressing his daughter, who sat near him, "upon my honor and conscience that was a friendly paragraph of my friend Swiggerly—extremely so, indeed. The fact is, a dinner and a good jorum is never thrown away upon honest Swiggerly; for which raison I'll ask him to dine here on Thursday next."
He then handed her the paper, pointing out the paragraph in question, which she read with something of an arch smile, and which, on her brother Fergus (who had been to Lisnagola) joining them, she handed to him.
"Fergus," said she, looking at him with an expression of character still more comic, but yet sufficiently subdued to prevent O'Driscol from observing it, "is not that paragraph very complimentary to papa?"
Fergus, who at once reciprocated the comic glance alluded to, replied rather significantly, "It is certainly very gratifying to him, Catherine."
"And very creditable to Swiggerly," added O'Driscol.
"Yes, father," replied Fergus, "but I think he ought to preserve, if possible, a little more originality. The substance of that paragraph has been regularly in his paper, in one shape or other, three or four times a year during the last couple of years. I ought to except the introduction of the threatening notice, which certainly is a new feature, and the only new one in it."
"Fergus," said the father, whilst his round, red, convivial features became more inflamed, "you are super-critical this morning."
"Not at all, sir; but you will excuse me for saying, that I think a man who is seeking to ingratiate himself with the government, what is more, to receive substantial favors from it, ought not, from principles of self-respect, to suffer these stereotyped paragraphs to appear from time to time. Government is not so blind, sir, but they will at once see through the object of such paragraphs."
"Staryrayotyped! What the devil, sir, do you mane by staryrayotype? Do you mane to make a staryrayotype of me? That's dutiful, Mr. Fergus—filial duty, clane and clear—and no doubt about it. But I tell you, sir, that in spite of your staryrayotypes, it is such articles as the able one of my friend Swiggerly that constitutes the force of public opinion. Government! Why, sir, the government is undher more obligations to me than I am to them. It was my activity and loyalty that was the manes, principally, of returnin' the son of the gustus ratalorum of the county for the borough of Addleborough. He was their own candidate; and if that wasn't layin' them undher an obligation to me, I don't know what was. You may say what you like, but I repate, it's a right good, thing to have the force of public opinion in your favor."
"Yes, of public opinion, I grant you; but surely you cannot pretend, father, that such gross and barefaced flattery as that can be termed public opinion?"
"And why not, sir? Upon my honor and conscience, things is come to a pretty pass when a man—a magistrate—like me, must be lectured by his own son! Isn't it too bad, Catherine?"
"I am no politician, you know, but I think he doesn't mean to lecture you, papa; perhaps you ought to say to reason or remonstrate with—"
"Raison! remonstrate! And what right has he aither to raison or remonstrate with a man—or rather a magistrate—such as I am known by the government to be. He calls that paragraph gross and barefaced flattery, and myself a staryrayotype! but I tell him now that it is no flattery, nor anything at all but the downright naked thruth, and no man ought to know that better than I do, for this good raison, that it was myself wrote every line of it, and got Swiggerly only to correct it."
A deep and crimson blush overspread his daughter's face on hearing this mean and degrading admission; and Fergus, who was in the act of bringing a bit of ham to his mouth, suddenly laid it down again, then looked first at Catherine, then at his father, several times in succession. The good-humored girl, however, whose merry heart and light spirits always disposed her to look at the pleasant side of everything, suddenly glancing at the red, indignant face with which her father, in the heat of argument, and in order to illustrate the truth of public opinion in this instance, had made the acknowledgment—all at once, and before the rosy blush had departed from her beautiful face, burst out into a ringing and merry laugh, which Fergus felt to be contagious and irresistible. On glancing again at his father, he joined her in the mirth, and both laughed long and heartily.
"And so, father," proceeded Fergus, "you bring us a paragraph written by yourself, to illustrate the value of public opinion; but believe me, my dear father, and I mean it with all respect, these puffs, whether written by one's self or others—these political puffs I say, like literary ones, always do more harm than good to the object they are intended to serve."
"Never you mind that, Fergus, my boy, I know how to play my game, I think; and besides, don't you know, I expect a snug-morsel from government for yourself, my boy; yet you never consider that—not you."
"But, my dear father, I never wish to hear a respectable man like you acknowledge that he is playing a game at all; it reminds me of the cringing, sycophantic, and prostitute crew of political gamblers and manoeuvrers, by whom, not only this government, but every other, is perpetually assailed and infested, and amongst which crew it would grieve me to think that you should be included. As to myself, if I ever get anything from government, it must not come to me through any of those arrangements by which trick and management, not to say dishonesty and conniption, are, to the shame of all parties, so frequently rewarded. With a slight change upon Pope, I say—
"'Grant me honest place, or grant me none.'"
"Pope! What the devil do I care about his opinions? let him preach and stick to his controversy with Father Tom—from whom he hadn't so much to brag of—but as for you, Fergus, you are, to spake plainly, a thorough ass. What d—d stuff you have been letting out of you! Go and find, if you can, some purer world for yourself to live in, for, let me tell you, you are not fit for this. There is no perfection here, Catherine, is there?"
"Oh, yes, Papa! certainly."
"There is—is there? Well, upon my honor and conscience, now, this is the first time I've heard that argument used. Come, then, how do you prove it—eh?"
"There is perfection, papa, occasionally at least, to be found among women, and—you certainly, sir, cannot deny the truth of this—occasionally, too, among magistrates—ha ha! ha!"
"Ah! Kate, I know you of old! Very good that—extremely good, upon my word However, as I was saying, if you don't act and think as the world about you acts and thinks, you had as good, as I said, get a betther one if you can. Here, now, I see Mat Purcel coming up the avenue; and as I want to have some private conversation with him, I must be off to my office, where I desire you to send him to me. There's a time for everything, they say, and a place for everything—I hope, Fergy, you and I will have occasion, before long, to say, a place for some—ha! ha! ha! Well, as I said, there's a place for everything! and I don't think it would become me to spake upon official business anywhere but in my own office. We must not only do our business properly, but look like it."
Purcel found our pompous little man enveloped, as we have already said, in a most fashionable morning-gown and embroidered slippers, and at the same time busily engaged in writing.
"How do you do, Mr. Purcel?" said he; "will you excuse me for about three minutes, till I finish this paragraph, after which I am at your service?"
"Certainly," said Purcel, "I'm in no hurry, Fitzy, my boy."
"Here," continued the other, "amuse yourself with that paper. By the way, there's a flattering notice there of your humble servant, by our friend Swiggerly, who certainly is a man of sound judgment and ability."
"I won't interrupt you now," replied the proctor; "but I will tell you my opinion of him by and by."
The magistrate then proceeded to finish his paragraph, as he said, by his important manner of doing which, Purcel, who thoroughly understood him, was much amused. He frequently paused for instance, placed his chin in the end of his half-closed hand, somewhat like an egg in an egg-cup, looked in a meditative mood into Purcel's face, without appearing to see him at all; then went over to the library, which ought rather to have been pronounced his son's than his; and after having consulted a book—a Latin Horace, which by the way he opened at the art of poetry, of which volume it is, we presume, unnecessary to say, he did not understand a syllable, he returned to his desk seemingly satisfied, and wrote on until he had concluded the passage he was composing. He read it once in silence, then nodded his head complacently, as if satisfied with what he had Written, after which he rubbed his hands and closing the desk exclaimed, "D—n all governments, Mr. Purcel, and I wish to heaven there never had been a magistrate in Ireland."
"Why, what kind of doctrine is this, Fitzy," exclaimed his friend, "especially from such a loyal man and active magistrate as you are."
"D—n loyalty too, Mr. Purcel, it's breakin' my heart and will break it—I think I'll emigrate to America before they kill me here."
"Why, to tell you the truth, my dear Fitzy, I was a good deal alarmed when I heard of that ugly notice you got; but it's not every man would have borne the thing with such courage as you did."
"Thank you, Mister Purcel, I feel that as a compliment coming from you; and by the way, I haven't forgotten to mention you with praise in my correspondence with the Castle. However—ha! ha! ha! you rather misunderstood me—I mane to say that the life is worn out of me, by our present government—Good God! my friend, surely they ought to know that there's plenty of magistrates in the country besides myself, that could give them the information they want upon the state of the country, and the steps they ought to take to tranquillize it, as well as I could; I can't, however, get them to think so, and the consequence is that that d—n Castle can't rub its elbow without consulting, me."
"Well," replied Purcel, "you are to blame yourself for it; if you were not so loyal, and zealous, and courageous too, as you are, they would let you alone and leave you to peace and quietness, as they do other people."
"Upon my honor and conscience, it's little pace or quietness they leave me, then; but I agree with you, that the whole cause of it is my well-known loyal principle and surprising activity in keeping down disturbance and sedition. Widow Cleary's affair was an unlucky one for me, and indeed, Mat, it was the activity and resolution that I displayed in making herself and her spawn of ragged brats prisoners at the head of the Possy Comeatus, aided by the military, that first brought me into notice with the Castle."
The proctor, who feared now that he had mounted his hobby, and that he would inflict on him, as he was in the habit of doing after dinner, a long-winded series of his magisterial exploits, reminded him that he had expressed a wish to see him on very important business.
"I wouldn't care," he added, "but the truth is, Fitzy, I am pressed for want of time, as I should have been at the bishop's court, where I have cited several of these tithe rebels long before this. What is the business, then?"
"It is a matter, my dear Mr. Purcel—"
"Why the devil do you Mr. Purcel me?" asked the proctor, warmly. "It was formerly Mat and Fitzy between us, and I don't see why it should not be so still."
"Hem—ahem—why it was, I grant, but then—not that I am at all a proud man, Mr. Purcel—far from it, I trust—but you see—hem—the truth is, that to a man as I am, a magistrate—trusted and—consulted by government, and having, besides, to meet certain low prejudices against me in the country, here, I don't think—I'm spaking of the magistrate now, Purcel—not of the man—observe that, but the truth is—d—m the word, for I don't think there's in the whole catalogue of names, so vulgar a one as Fitzy—and be d—d to it."
The proctor laughed till the tears came from his eyes, at the dignified distress with which the great little man resented this degrading grievance.
"Ha! ha! ha! and so," said he, "I'm not to call you Fitzy; well, well, so be it—but I have been so long in the habit of using it in our conversation, that I shall, find it a difficult matter to change the practice. But upon my conscience, Fitzy—I beg pardon, Mr. O'Driscol, I must say—I think it great weakness in your worship, to let such a trifle as that annoy you."
"It may be a weakness," said the other, "but before we go further, I make it a personal request, that you won't use Fitzy to me, and above all things, in the presence of strangers. I entrate and implore that you won't."
"Very well, then—a bargain be it—but I must insist that you never call me Mat, or anything but Mr. Purcel, again."
"Why, but you know you are not a magistrate, Mat."
"Never mind, Fitzy—hem—never mind, your worship, call me whatever you like—unless a rogue—ha! ha! ha! well, but to business—what is this you want with me?"
"A business that, if well managed, may be a beneficial one to you and me both."
"Out with it, though—you know I'm in a hurry."
"Why now," proceeded the little man, relapsing unconsciously into a sense of his violated dignity,—"curse me, if I'd for fifty—no, not for a hundred, that the Castle should come to know that I was addressed as Fitzy."
The proctor's mirth was again renewed, but after a moment or two, the serious part of the conversation was resumed by the magistrate.
"Your son John, the other morning," he proceeded, in a low and confidential tone, "hinted to me that you had partly discovered—hem—ahem—a very important circumstance—in short, that you had partly, if not altogether, discovered a—a conspiracy."
The proctor stared at him with unaffected surprise, which, by the way, did not escape the magistrate's notice. "A conspiracy!" he added, "and did John tell you this?"
"Why, not exactly," replied O'Driscol, fearing that the young man, as we have already hinted, had been indiscreet, and consequently wished to keep him as much out of blame as possible; "not exactly, my dear Mat—hem—my dear Mr. Purcel, but you know that I am rather sharp—a penetratin' fellow in my way, or I would not be of the commission to-day—he seemed merely to drop the expression accidentally only."
"I pledge my honor to you," replied the proctor, who at once saw through the hoax that his son had played off upon him, "that the young rascal had no authority from me for mentioning a single syllable about it."
"Well, but, I trust, my dear Ma—Mr; Purcel, that you are not angry with him, especially for having mentioned it to me at any rate."
"Why, my dear friend," said the other, "if the time were come, you are the first man to whom I would disclose the circumstance, but the fact simply is, that it is not ripe yet."
"Even so; you will have no objection, I trust, to let me know something of the nature of it—even now."
"It is impossible!" replied the proctor, "quite out of my power; if I breathe a syllable about it, the whole matter must be blown before the proper time, and then—"
"Well, and what then?—proceed."
"Why, neither you nor I would be one moment safe; and in that case, it is much more prudent that you should not know it—God forbid that I, above all men, should be the person to involve you in risk and danger. Your own ardor and excessive loyalty expose you—to dangers enough, and too many."
"You promise, however, when the proper time comes, to make me acquainted with it?"
"Certainly, when the proper time comes; and if the thing ripen at all, you shall hear of it."
"But listen," asked O'Driscol, licking his lips as a man would when thinking of a good dinner; "is the matter you allude to a real, actual, bona-fide conspiracy?"
"An actual live conspiracy," replied the proctor; "and as soon as it has reached maturity, and is full grown, you shall have all the honors of the discovery."
"That will do, Mat—hem, that will do my dear friend. I shall have the Castle dancing with delight—and whisper—but this is honorable between ourselves—any advantages that may result from this affair, you shall partake of. The Castle and I understand one another, and depend upon it, your name shall be mentioned with all the honor and importance due to it."
"This, then, was what you wanted with me?"
"It was, and upon my honor and conscience, you and yours, and I and mine, will have cause to rejoice in it. Government, my dear Mat—ahem—is a generous benefactor, and aided by it we shall work wonders. We shall, I trust, all be provided for—your sons and my own fool—M'Carthy, too, we shall not forget.
"All that will be very pleasant, I acknowledge," replied the proctor, dryly, "and in the meantime good-by, and may God spare both you and me long life and happiness—until then, and as long after it as we may wish for."
Our friend M'Carthy, who was little aware of the liberal provision which the benevolence of his friend had in contemplation for him, was in the meantime likely to be provided for in a very different manner, and upon principles very much at variance with those of that political gentleman yclept the Castle, an impersonation which it would be exceedingly difficult to define.
CHAPTER IX.—Sport in the Mountains.
In the course of that day Letty Lenehan, who had been musing over Mogue's soliloquy in the barn, felt that kind of impression which every one has felt more or less under similar circumstances. The fellow's words left a suspicion upon her mind that there was evil designed against young M'Carthy by this smooth-going and pious hypocrite. How to act she felt somewhat at a loss, but as the day advanced, the singular impression we have mentioned deepened, until she could conceal its existence no longer. After dinner, however, she seized upon an opportunity of consulting her friend and lover, Jerry Joyce, who, by the way, had also been somewhat surprised at an expression which escaped Mogue in the morning. On comparing notes, both came to the same conclusion, viz.,—that there existed in the bosom of Mogue some latent hard feeling against M'Carthy.
"I am sure there does," said Jerry, "and I think I know why too—Mogue isn't the only person that has a deadly hatred against Mr. M'Carthy; and indeed, Letty, I have raisons to fear that the poor young gintleman, for so he is by family and blood at all events—is in great danger. However, if it will make your mind aisy, I'll see what can be done to get him safe over it this night."
"This night, Jerry? why what do you mane? what about this night more than any other night?"
"Hut! you foolish girl," replied Jerry, "sure you ought to know that it's only a way of spakin' we have, when we say this night or this day."
"Ay," replied Letty, with great shrewdness and in a spirit of keen observation, "if you had spoken that way, you'd have said this day, and not this night, bekaise it's not night yet."
Jerry smiled, and resolving to put an end to the conversation, exclaimed, "Troth and I'll have a kiss from your lips, this day, and, if you vex me much more, another this night too;" and as he spoke, with a face of good-humor and affection, he contrived to suit the action to the word, after which Letty sprang beyond his reach, but pausing a moment ere she disappeared. "Jerry, listen," she proceeded, "don't let Mr. M'Carthy come to harm either by night or day, if you can—still an' all remember that your own life is a dearer one—to—to—yourself, at any rate, than anybody else's is."
Jerry nodded, and was about once more to lessen the distance between himself and her, when she immediately took to flight and disappeared, which was precisely what he wanted.
"God protect the young man!" he exclaimed, after she had gone, "for if that sleeveen villain is bent on doin' him harm, or, as I ought to say, of bringin' him among them, and especially to him that hates him like hell, this is the very night for it, and he has him on the spot too; well, we'll see whether they'll be back in time or not, for as Mr. M'Carthy is to dine here, Mogue at any rate must and ought to be home a little before dusk. I'll make preparation, however, and what can be done for him, I will do."
In the meantime we shall follow our two sportsmen into the mountains for a time, in order to render justice to poor innocent Mogue, who little dreamt that a human being had suspected him.
M'Carthy, on entering the mountain, at first expressed a doubt to his companion that the circuit or sweep road by Shaun Bernha's stables was rather extensive, and would occupy too much time, besides bringing them farther out of their way than it was his (M'Carthy's) intention to go.
"You know, Mogue," he observed, "I am to dine with Mr. Purcel to-day, and, if we go so far, I shall never be home in time for dinner."
"Never mind, sir," replied his companion, "you don't know all the short cuts of Sloebeens as well as I do. My life for yours, I'll take care that you won't want your dinner or your supper aither, sir, I'll go bail. Just trust yourself to me, and if I don't bring you to where the grouse, snipes, and hares is in thousands, never put faith in me again."
M'Carthy, who had every confidence in Mogue, and, also, more than usual respect for him, in consequence of his apparent love of truth and religion, accompanied him without the slightest hesitation; feeling satisfied that his intimate acquaintance with the whole wild locality around them, was a proof that he would be able to keep his word.
The scenery of those mountains, though wild, as we have said, is, nevertheless, remarkable for that poetic spirit of beauty which our learned and accomplished countryman, Dr. Petrie, infused, with such delightful effect, into his landscapes. Even the long stretches of level moor, which lie between the hill ranges, present in summer that air of warm repose which the mind recognizes as constituting a strong element of beauty; but it is at evening, when the crimson sun pours a flood of golden light upon their sides and tops, turning the rich flowery heath with which they are covered into hues of deep purple, that the eye delights to rest upon them. Nor is the wild charm of solitude to be forgotten in alluding to the character of these soft and gracefully undulating mountains. Indeed we scarcely knew anything more replete with those dream-like impressions of picturesque romance which, in a spirit so perfectly solitary, sleep, still and solemn, far from the on-goings of busy life, in the distant recesses of these barren solitudes. Many a time when young have we made our summer journey across the brown hills, which lay between us and the mountains we are describing, for the express purpose of dreaming away whole hours in their contemplation, and steeping our early imagination in the wild and novel beauty which our heart told us the spirit of solitude had impressed upon them.
How far our sportsmen proceeded, or in, what precise direction, we are not in a capacity to inform our readers. That they proceeded much further, however, than M'Carthy had wished or contemplated, will soon become sufficiently evident. What kind of sport they had, or whether successful or otherwise, it is not our present purpose to say. Be the game abundant or scarce, we leave them to pursue it, and request the reader to accompany us in a direction somewhat removed, but not very far different from theirs.
It may be necessary, however, to state here previously, that these mountains are remarkably—indeed proverbially—subject to deep, impervious mists, which wrap them in a darkness far more impenetrable to the eye than the darkest nights, and immeasurably more confounding to the reason, by at once depriving the individual whom they chance to overtake, of all sense of his relative position. At night the moon and stars may be seen, or even a fire or other light at a distance; but here, whilst enveloped in one of those dark and dismal fogs, no earthly object is seen within two yards of you, and every step made is replete with doubt or danger, and frequently with death itself, in the shape of deep shoreless lakes and abrupt precipices. The night had now set in for about two hours, and one of the deep fogs which we have just described began to break into broad gray fragments, which were driven by the wind into the deeper hollows, dissipated almost at once into the thin and invisible air. Sometimes a rush of wind would sweep along like a gigantic arrow, running through the mist, and leaving a rapid track behind it like a pathway. Sometimes again a whirl-blast would sweep round a hill, or rush up from a narrow gorge, carrying round, in wild and fantastic gyrations, large masses of the apparently solid mist, giving thus to the scene such an appearance as would lead the spectator to suppose that some invisible being or beings, of stupendous power, were engaged in these fearful solitudes.
The night, we have said, had set in, and the mist was clearing, or had altogether cleared away. Up far in these mountains lived a herd, or caretaker and gamekeeper, all in one, named Frank Finnerty. He was a man of bad character—gloomy, sullen, and possessed of very little natural feeling. The situation in which he resided was so remote and solitary, so far from the comforts and conveniences that are derived from human intercourse, that scarcely any other man in the parish could be induced to undertake the duties attached to it, or consent to live in it at all. Finnerty, however, was a dark, unsocial man, who knew that he was not liked in the country, and who, on his part, paid back to society its hatred of him with interest. He had been engaged in many outrages against the law, and had been once sentenced to transportation for manslaughter—a sentence which would have been carried into effect were it not for a point made m his case by the lawyer who defended him—His wife was a kind-hearted, benevolent woman naturally, but she had been for years so completely subdued and disjointed, that she was, at the period we write of, a poor, passive, imbecile creature, indifferent to everything, and with no more will of her own than was necessary to fulfil the duties of mere mechanical existence.
It was now near ten o'clock; Finnerty and she had been sitting at the fire in silence for some time, when at length she spoke.
"Well, I hope there was no one out on the mountains in that mist."
"Why," said he, "what is it to you or me whether there was or not?"
"That's thrue," she replied, "but one wouldn't like any harm to come to a fellow-creature."
"Dear me," he exclaimed, in harsh tones of hatred and irony, "how fond you are of your fellow-cratures to-night! little your fellow-cratures care about you."
"Well, indeed, I suppose that's thrue enough, Frank; what 'ud make them care about me or the likes o' me, and for all that whether they may think o' me now, I remimber the time when they did care about me, and when I was loved and respected by all that knew me."
There was a touching humility, and a feeble but heart-broken effort at self-respect in the poor woman's words and manner that were pitiful and pathetic to the last degree, and which even Finnerty himself was obliged to acknowledge.
"But where's the use of thinking about these things now," he replied; "it isn't what we were then, Vread, but what we are now, that we ought to think of."
"But, sure, Frank," said the simple-minded creature, "one cannot prevint the memory from, goin' back to the early times, when we wor happy, and when the world was no trouble to us."
There was a pause, and after a little she added, "I dunna is the night clearin'?"
Finnerty rose, and proceeding to the door, looked out a moment, then went to the corner of the house to get a better view of the sky, after which he returned.
"The mist is gone," he observed, "from the mountains, and I suppose the boys will soon begin to come."
"Throth, Frank," she replied, "I hate these nightly meetin's that you hould here—all this plottin' and plannin' isn't nor can't be good."
"You hate them! an' who the ould diaoul cares whether you do or not? I allow them this house to meet in, bekaise it's large and far from the polis. A house down in the country, where they might pop in on them, wouldn't be so safe; here, however, no one would suspect them of meetin', and from the way the house is situated, no one could come upon us widout bein' known or seen. You hate! that indeed!"
"An' what do they meet for, Frank? if it's a fair question!"
"It's not a fair question, an' you have no business to ax; still if you want to know, and if it can make you anything the wiser, you shall hear. It's to break a Millstone they meet."
"To brake a millstone, inngh! Oh, sorra a word of that I believe. Sure there's no millstone here?—if you want to break millstones you must go farther up—to Carnmore, where they make them. Sorra millstone's here, I know."
"You know—oh, how much you know! I tell you, there's a great Millstone that covers and grinds the whole kingdom, or at least the greatest parts of it—that's the Millstone we want to brake, and that we will brake."
"When did you hear from Mark Ratigan, or see him?"
"Mark Ratigan is snug and comfortable as a laborin' boy wid Magistrate Driscol that's in—hem—but listen to me, now if you should meet Mark anywhere down the country, you're neither to call him Mark nor Ratigan, otherwise you may be the manes of hangin' the poor boy."
"Throth, an' by all accounts, he'll come to the gallows yet."
"Well, and many a betther man did. I expect him and Hourigan both here tonight."
"An' what name does he go by now?" she asked.
"By the name of Phil Hart; and remember when there's any stranger present, you're never to call him anything else—but above all things, and upon the peril of your life, never call him Mark Ratigan."
"And do you think," replied his wife, "that I won't take care not to do it? But, Frank, tell me what was Mogue Moylan doin' here the night before last?"
"Only to let me know that he and a Misthor M'Carthy—a great friend of his and of two good creatures—Magistrate Driscol and Procthor Purcel—wor to come out shootin' on the mountains to-day and to ax if I would prevent them."
"An' did you give them lave?" she inquired.
A very peculiar expression passed over the dark grim features of her husband. "Did I give them lave?" he replied; "well, indeed, you may take your davy, I did. Why would I refuse a dacent gintleman, and a friend of Mogue Moylan's lave to shoot? Poor dacent Mogue, too, that loves thruth and religion so well—ha! ha! ha!—whisht!—here's some one."
The words were scarcely uttered, when our friends, M'Carthy and Mogue, made their appearance in the caretaker's house, both evidently in a fatigued state, especially M'Carthy, who had not been so well accustomed to travel over mountain scenery as his companion.
"Well, blessed be God that we have got the roof of a house over us at last!" exclaimed Mogue. "Frank Finnerty, how are you? an' Vread, achora, not forgettin' you—my hand to you both, but we're lost—especially this gentleman, Mr. M'Carthy—a great friend of Mr. O'Driscol's and Procthor Parcel's—but a betther man than either o' them, I hope."
"I am fairly knocked up, I admit," said M'Carthy—"in fact, I am more jaded than I ever was in my life."
"Take a chair, sir," said Finnerty; "you are welcome at all events, and I am glad to see you, or any friend of Mogue's; take this chair, sir—and—here, Mogue, do you take a stool; you must be both in a sad state, sure enough."
"Thank you, Frank," replied Mogue, "oh, then, bad cess to it for a dirty mist—God pardon me for cursin' the poor mist though, for sure it wasn't it's fault, the crathur of a mist we oughn't to curse anything that God has made, but indeed I'm a great sinner that way, God forgive me; howandever as I was sayin', only for it afther all, Mr. Francis, it's atin' your comfortable dinner, or rayther drinkin' your fine wine you'd be now at Mr. Purcel's illigant table, instead of bein' here as you are, however, sure it's good to have a house over our heads any way."
Finnerty and his wife heaped more turf on the fire, and the poor woman, with that kind spirit of hospitality and sympathy for which her countrywomen are so remarkable, told them that they must necessarily be hungry, and said she would lose no time in providing them with refreshment.
"Many thanks," replied M'Carthy, "it is not refreshment, but rest we require; we have had more refreshments of every kind with us than he could use, and it is well we were so provident, otherwise we never would or could have reached even this house alive. Such a day I have never spent—we have done nothing but wade through this d—d mist for the last six or eight hours, without the slightest knowledge of whereabout we were."
"Well, well, Mr. Francis, sure it's one comfort that we're safe at all events," said Mogue; "only I'm frettin' myself about the onaisiness they'll all feel at home, I mane in Mr. Purcel's, about you. Do you know now, that a thought strikes me, sir; I'm fresher than you are a good. deal. Now what if I'd run home and make their minds aisy in the first place, and get Jerry Joyce to bring the car up for you as far as the mountain road? You can rest yourself here in the manetime, and Frank Finnerty will see you safe that far. I'll carry the gun and things with me too—so that you'll have a lighter tramp down the hills."
This arrangement was precisely what M'Carthy could have wished.
"Thank you, Mogue, for thinking of this—you are a considerate kind fellow, and I cordially admit that I owe my life to you this day. Had you not been with me I must have lost my way and perished in the mountains."
Mogue and Finnerty exchanged glances, which, however, did not escape the observation of the wife, who thoroughly understood those changes of expression, which reflected her husband's darker and sterner purposes.
"Why, then, Misther Frank, that I may be happy but I am glad I was with you, so I am, for indeed only for me I don't think, sure enough, that ever you'd see this house to-night. There's some spirits left here still, and as I'm for another stretch, I don't think a glass of it will do me, or for that matther, Frank Finnerty here, any harm. You can see me down the hills a piece, Frank; and you, Mr. Francis, might throw yourself on the bed a while, and get an hour's sleep or so."
This too was agreed to—Mogue and Finnerty took each a glass of whiskey, as did Mrs. Finnerty, by permission of her husband, and in a few minutes she and M'Carthy were left by themselves.
After the two worthies had been gone a few minutes, she proceeded to the door, and as the night had now become tolerably light, she looked out, but with a great deal of caution. At first she saw no person, but in walking in the shadow of the house, along! the sidewall to the left, she was able to observe five or six persons coming towards her husband and Moylan in a body; she saw that they stopped and were in close conversation, pointing frequently towards the house as they spoke. She returned to M'Carthy with the same caution, and, approaching him, was about to speak, when dread of her husband supervened for the moment, and she paused like a person in doubt. The peculiar glare and the satanic smile which her husband gave to Mogue, who, by the way, seemed perfectly to understand it, oppressed her with an indistinct sense of approaching evil which she could neither shake off, nor separate from the strange gentleman to whom their glances evidently referred. She remembered also to have heard her husband say upon one occasion when he was drunk, that Mogue Moylan was the deepest villain in the barony—ay, or in the kingdom; and that only for his cowardice he would be a man after his own heart. 'Twas true, she knew that he had contradicted all this afterwards when he got sober, and said it was the liquor that caused him to speak as he did, that Mogue was a good kind-hearted crature, who loved truth, and was one of the most religious boys among them.
This, however, did not satisfy her; the impression of some meditated evil against their temporary guest was too strong to be disregarded, and on recollecting that Mogue had been up with her husband only the evening but one before, as if to prepare him for something unusual, the conviction arose to an alarming height.
We have said that this woman was a poor passive creature, whose life was a mere round of almost mechanical action. This, to be sure, so far as regarded her own domestic duties, and in general every matter in which her husband's opinions and her own could clash, was perfectly true. She was naturally devoid, however, of neither heart nor intellect, when any of her fellow-creatures happened to come within the range of her husband's enmity or vengeance, as well as upon other occasions too, and it was well known that she had given strong proofs of this. Her life in general appeared to be one long lull, but, notwithstanding its quietude, there was, under circumstances of crime or danger, the brooding storm ready to start up into action.
"Sir," said she, on returning into the house, "I'm a plain and ignorant woman, so that you needn't feel surprised or alarmed at anything I am goin' to say. I hope you will pardon me, sir, when I ax if you seen my husband before, or if you know him either more or less?"
M'Carthy did feel surprised, and replied in the negative to both points of her question—"I do not know your husband," he said, "nor have I to my knowledge ever seen him until to-night; may I beg to inquire why you ask?"
"It's not worth your while," she replied, "it was a mere thought that came into my head: but you and Mogue Moylan never had a dispute, sir?"
"Why, what can put such a notion into your head, my good woman? Certainly not. Mogue and I have been always on the best of terms."
She paused again for some minutes, after which, she said, in a voice not audible.
"There's something in the wind for all that.
"Sir." she proceeded, "you'll think me odd, but will you let me ax if you wor ever threatened or put on your guard, of if you know of any enemy you have that would wish to injure you?"
M'Carthy now started, and, looking at her with a gaze of equal curiosity and astonishment, replied, "Your language, my good woman, is beyond doubt very strange—why do you ask me these questions?"
"Answer me first, if you plaise," she replied.
"I have certainly been put on my guard," he returned, "and informed that I ought to be cautious, for that I had an enemy and that danger was before me."
"When, and in what way did this happen?"
"I shall make no further communication on the subject," he replied, "until you speak more plainly."
"Then," she proceeded, "I'm afeard there's danger over you this night, if God hasn't said it."
"Not, I trust, while I am under the protection of your husband and Mogue Moylan."
She shook her head. "If you haven't something better to depend upon, I wouldn't think myself overly safe; but you didn't answer the last question I axed you. How wor you warned, and who warned you?"
He then gave her a brief account of the rencounter he had with the Whiteboys, and alluded to the unknown but friendly individual who had put him on his guard.
"I knew it," she exclaimed, "I knew it; I couldn't mistake the look that passed between them. Now, in God's name," she said, "if you're able to drag a limb afther you at all, start out o' this and save yourself, and, let what will happen, I entreat, for the love of God, that you won't mention my name."
This he faithfully promised; "But," replied he to her warning, "I really am not able to escape, and I cannot think that your husband would injure a man who never offended him."
"But that's not the way they do sich things; it's not the man you offended that will injure you, but some blackguard stranger that he gets to do it for him, and that you'll know nothing about. In God's name, I say, be off out o' this. Even as a stranger you can hardly be safe, and if you wish to know why, whisper," and she spoke so low as only barely to be heard, "there's a meeting of Whiteboys to be here to-night; anyhow, you're the friend of O'Driscol and Procthor Purcel, and that same would be enough to make them give you a knock. Don't face home," said she, "or you'll be likely to meet them, but take the mountains wanst more on your head. Get out upon the road at Altanaveenan and you may be safe. God of Glory!" she exclaimed, "here they are—but watch my face and be guided by me—here, throw yourself into that bed below and pretend to sleep—I'll do what woman can, but I'm afeared we lost our chance."
M'Carthy distinctly heard them laughing as they approached the door, and, in accordance with the advice he had got, he went to the lower part of the house and lay down on the bed, where he closed his eyes and breathed like one asleep. He now began to investigate Mogue's conduct, in persisting to bring him by so circuitous a sweep such a distance out of his way, and decidedly contrary to his wishes. He hesitated, however, to inculpate Mogue, who certainly could not have anticipated or brought on the fog, which had occasioned them to wander for such a length of time among the mountains. Then, on the other hand, he deprived him of his gun and ammunition, but might not that also have been from motives of kindness?
In the meantime, eight or ten men came into the house each and all with their faces blackened, and some of them as before wearing shirts outside their dress; and this he could see from the position of the bed where he lay. The chat among themselves and with Mrs. Finnerty was not, as is the case in romances, either mysterious or awful. On the contrary, it was light and pleasant, and by no means calculated to heighten McCarthy's fears; who, to say truth, however, although resolute and full of courage, would as lief been spending the evening with his friend the proctor.
"Well, Vread," said one of them, "any news in the mountains?"
"News in the mountains!" exclaimed Vread, "well, indeed, that's good."
"Any deaths or marriages among the grouse, eh?"
Vread, as we have said, had got a glass of spirits, a circumstance which, to a low heart but a kind one like hers, may probably have accounted for a portion of her energy, as well as of her sympathy with the apprehended danger to M'Carthy.
"Troth," she replied, with more vivacity than might have been expected from her, "when you spake to a dacent woman it ought to be with a clane face at any rate."
"Why, Vread, how can you say it's dirty," replied the fellow, "when you know I washed it before I came out?"
"It must be in the divil's basin, then," she replied, "for if one can judge by their eyes, you're more like one of his childre than your honest father's, whoever he was or is. Troth, I'm afeard it's a dirty business you're; all about to-night, if a body is to take you by your looks."
"Why, then," observed another, "who 'ud think that poor die-away Vread had so much spunk in her? Vread," he proceeded, "you must a been a great beauty wanst upon a time; a very purty face you had, they say."
"Whatever it was," she replied, "I thank God I was never ashamed to show it like too many of my neighbors."
"Don't be too sure that we're your neighbors, Vread."
"Troth, I hope not," she returned; "I don't think my neighbors 'ud be consarned in sich disgraceful work, as I'm afraid brings yez out. Faugh upon you all! its unmanly."
Her husband, accompanied by six or eight more, now made his appearance; a circumstance which at once put an end to the part that his wife was disposed to bear in their conversation.
Other chat of various character then took place, in which, however, M'Carthy, who now watched them closely, could observe that they did not all join.
"Whisht," said one of them, "is there anybody asleep in the house? I think I hear some one snorin!"
"There is," said Finnerty, "a gentleman that was out shootin' to-day wid a servant-man of Mr. Parcel's the procthor—named Mogue Moylan."
"And a very great scoundrel is Mogue Moylan," said one of them, with a wink at the rest.
"Well, no," said Finnerty, "I think not—poor Mogue's a daecnt, quiet crature, and has a great regard for truth and religion."
M'Carthy, from his position the bed, had, by means of a fortunate rift in the blankets, a complete view of the whole party, and he could mark with accuracy, in consequence of their black faces, every grin now made distinctly visible by their white teeth.
"Who is the gentleman that snores so beautifully?" asked another of them.
"He is a gentleman named O'Connor," replied poor Vread, anxious, if possible, even at the risk of much subsequent abuse and ill-treatment, to conceal his name.
"Ay," said Finnerty, corroborating her; much, indeed, to her astonishment, "he is a Mr. O'Connor, I believe, a very handsome-lookin', fine young fellow."
"What the blazes," said another of them, "keeps him? Surely he ought to be here before now. Had Mr. O'Connor good sport?"
"How could he," replied Finnerty, "wid the fog that was on the mountains?"
At this moment an individual made his appearance, whom it was impossible to look upon without being most forcibly struck by his figure. He was a broad-shouldered, muscular, powerful man, with immensely large limbs; his hair was black, and a huge pair of whiskers of the same color stretched across his cheeks, met at his chin, and ran down in an unbroken line round a huge and remarkably well-set neck. The moment he entered, and before he had time to speak, two or three of them instantly placed their fingers significantly upon their lips, as if to indicate silence, apprehensive, as M'Carthy at the time thought, lest his voice might be recognised. Another of them then whispered something to him, and whatever the secret was, it caused him to glance for a moment, and involuntarily, towards the bed. All that he spoke afterwards was uttered in whispers.
CHAPTER X.—The Sport Continued.
Finnerty's house, which had been built for more purposes than were necessary for the accommodation of a caretaker or gamekeeper, was simply a plain apartment, tolerably large, with room enough in it for a couple of beds; to this was added a shooting-lodge for the owner of the mountains, which consisted of three or four bed-rooms opening from a well-sized dining-room, and a kitchen distinct from the apartment which constituted the dwelling of the gamekeeper, being that which Finnerty, as such, then occupied. It was in the dining-room of the shooting-lodge that the Whiteboy meetings were uniformly held, although of late it had been usual for those who attended them to sit in Finnerty's house until the hour had arrived for commencing business, when they adjourned to the other. We should say that the gamekeeper's house, though under the same roof, as it is termed, with the shooting-lodge, was distinct from it in other respects; that is to say, there was no internal communication between them.
"Who was that fellow that we met with you a while ago?" asked one of them a second time, as if having forgotten his name.
"Poor Mogue Moylan," replied Finnerty, "and sadly bate down he was wid this day's Work; I advised him to go to bed as soon as he could, and refresh himself by a good sleep."
"Advise!" said a voice, that almost made M'Carthy start, "it's aisier to give good advice than it is to take it; Mogue's not the only fool in this world that won't take good advice when it's given."
There could be no mistaking his voice. M'Carthy at once recognized that of the unknown friend who had warned him of danger on the night he encountered the Whiteboys, as already described.
"Come," proceeded he, "it is time we should commence business and settle the affairs of the nation at wanst; throth," he added, with a laugh, "if I was the same nation, and had a pair of good legs undher me—"
"Of what?" said the person with the black whiskers, who was evidently their leader, "of what?"
"Of ginerals like Bonnypart and Sarsfield, I'd soon have the country clear and the millstone pavin' the roads under our feet, as it will be before long, plaise God. Come, then, to business."
They accordingly proceeded to the adjoining house, with the exception of Finnerty himself, who, whether for the sake of safety, or rather for the purpose of watching M'Carthy, remained at his own fireside. His wife, on seeing this, pretended to be engaged with some domestic matter about the dresser, on which she placed a freshly lit rushlight, and availing herself of her position behind the back of her husband, who sat with his face towards the bed, she slightly raised her hands and eyes, as if to intimate that escape, she feared, was impossible.
It is incredible, the reaction which a new sensation, especially of joy or terror, or, indeed, of any feeling that is strong, superinduces upon the spirit, under circumstances of peculiar danger or interest. M'Carthy's fatigue, for instance, had now as completely departed from him as if he had not been abroad that day, and in consequence of the significant hint which he had received through the voice of his mysterious friend, he felt that if an opportunity were only offered him he would use the two legs to which his friend had alluded, when checked by the stern voice of their leader, with as much agility as ever they possessed during his life. It was this hint which made him feel certain, for the first time, that he was in imminent danger.
Half an hour had now elasped, and it was evident, from the listening attitudes and frequent stortings of Finnerty, that the debate in the lodge was high and serious. At length, one of the society hurriedly made his appearance, exclaiming; in a kind of condensed and agitated whisper, "Come in and help us—they won't stand the thing, there's only three for us." Finnerty took the candle; and, after signing to the person to go out, brought it close to M'Carthy's eyes, who opened his mouth and assumed with singular success all the deep insensible relaxation which characterizes heavy sleep. Finnerty even shook him, and said, "Hadn't you better get up, sir, and come to meet the car?" He addressed a log, however, and after another more careless and evidently satisfied glance, he laid down the candle, and then said to his wife, in a whisper, which, however, M'Carthy could hear; "The moment he wakens let us know."
Vread, who would not seem to attach any importance to the circumstance, simply nodded, by way of acquiescence, and her husband, went to join those in the lodge.
In every country whose political, commercial, or social relations, are not properly settled, or in which there exists a struggle between the principles at variance with civil order and those of enlightened progress, there will always be found a considerable portion of the population ripe and ready for violence and crime. This is an undisputable fact, and one the more dangerous too, inasmuch as crime is usually stripped by these misguided wretches of its inherent guilt, and looked upon as a necessary instrument, or, in other words, as a means to work out an end. It is true, the relative portion of the reckless and guilty is, in this country at least, considering its population, exceedingly small, for we all know how miserable the number of those who are at any time necessary to involve the character of a district at large, or inculpate the moral reputation of a whole country. At the same time, we must unquestionably admit, that, if we contrast the population of the country at large, and the frequency of crime in it, joined to its character of cool and deliberate atrocity, with that of the sister countries, we must candidly acknowledge, that the conduct of the people, even taking the proportions I have mentioned into consideration, is not only without parallel in modern times, but that religion is not merely a name, but, in every sense, incapable, whether by its internal spirit or maladministration, of discharging to society those great functional duties which mankind have a right to expect from it. But now to return.
Finnerty had joined the meeting; his wife, approaching M'Carthy, said, in a low whisper—
"They have some argument about you, whatever it is. However, with God's assistance, I'll venthur to do a thing that may be dangerous enough to myself, at any rate; but what do I care about that, if I can save an unoffendin' fellow-creature from harm?—Stay where you are then, till I come in again."
She went out as she spoke, and after an? interval of about six or eight minutes again made her appearance.
"I can't hear them plain enough," she said, on her return, "but whatever it is, I can undherstan' that the most of them all is against it. In God's name, at any rate, stay where you are—they're risin' to go home, and as the night's light they'd be sure to pounce upon you if you attempted to escape. Whatever I can do to save you from harm here I will."
The poor woman's escape from detection, while performing the friendly office of listening, was indeed very narrow. Short and hurried as her last advice to M'Carthy was, the words in which she conveyed it had scarcely been uttered, when her husband, accompanied by three persons, their faces still blackened, made his appearance. They took seats in silence around the fire, and one of them, handing over a bottle of whiskey to Finnerty, merely nodded, as much as to say, pass that about. Finnerty accordingly did so, and each of them drank a glass or two, after which they were silent as before. This silence, to M'Carthy, began to wear a solemn and a fearful aspect, especially as he knew enough of the habits of the people to be aware, that in drinking whiskey is often resorted to in order to deaden their moral, perceptions, or, in other words, as a stimulant to crime.
At length, after about a quarter of an hour had elapsed, and three of them—that is to say, two of the strangers and Finnerty—had each drank three glasses of spirits, the fourth, who had taken only one glass, beckoned to the other two to follow him.
"I think," said he, "they are all gone, and the coast is clear."
In this man's voice, M'Carthy, to his infinite delight, once more recognized that of his unknown well-wisher. Be this as it may, he and the other two left the house, and, as the reader is no doubt interested in their movements, we shall permit him to follow them to the dining-room of the shooting-lodge, where the meeting had just been held.
"Very well, then," he proceeded, "it is so best, as none of us can become a traitor against the rest. Shew me your pistols; for, as I'm an ould soger, I'll regulate them for you better than you'll be able to do yourselves."
He accordingly took their pistols, examined them closely, fixed the powder in the pans, adding' a fresh supply of priming from a little goat's horn which he carried in his-pocket. He then took out his own, which he simply looked at, and again returned to his pocket.
"Now," said he, "our best plan is to take him about the small o' the back, when he's before us, one only at a time; you," said he, addressing the tallest, "will fire first; you,"—to the other—"next if he misses him; and, as I'm the boy that doesn't miss my mark, I'll take him down, never fear, if he should escape either of you. Come now, let us go in and get him to his legs, that we may start."
On making their appearance again, Finnerty approached M'Carthy, and exclaimed as before, but on this occasion with a loud and earnest voice, "Come, sir, get up if you plaise; it's time for you to meet the car." To this M'Carthy made no reply.
"Come, sir," repeated Finnerty, "bounce; hillo, I say, Mr. M'Carthy; up wid you, sir, the car will be waitin' for you;" and he gave him a slap on the shoulder as he spoke.
"Hallo!" exclaimed the pretended sleeper, "have a care—easy,' easy—what's that? who are you?—eh—aw—oh, dear me, where am I?"
"In a friend's house, sir; get up, you know Mr. Purcel's car is waitin' for you at the mountain road below."
M'Carthy started to his feet, and on looking about him, exclaimed, "How is this, Finnerty? why are the faces of these men blackened?"
"Never you mind that, sir," replied Finnerty, "they are two or three poor fellows that's on their keepin' in regard to havin' paid their tithes against the will o' the people; an' they don't wish to be known, that's all."
"Well," replied M'Carthy, "that's their own affair, and neither yours nor mine, Finnerty. Come, then, are you ready? for I am."
"These boys, Mr. M'Carthy, has promised to take the best care of you while in their company, an' as they're goin' to the mountain road, where your're to meet the car, they'll bring you safe, sir."
"Most certainly not, Finnerty," replied the other; "I shall be escorted by no person or persons ashamed to show their faces. If you refuse to come, you break your word with me; but, in any event, I shall not travel with these men. I am too well aware of the disturbed state of the country, and that, being a friend of Mr. Purcel, I may not be popular. I consider myself, however, under your protection and under the protection of your roof, and for this reason I shall hold you accountable for my safety; and, at all events, unless you insist on expelling me, I shall remain where I am until morning."
"Why, if you insist upon it, I'll go," replied Finnerty, and four friends about you will be betther and safer than one; but in troth, to tell you the truth, Mr. M'Carthy, I'm a'most fairly knocked up myself, havin' been down the counthry and through the hills the greater part of the day. I have a great number of cattle to look afther, an' am seldom off my foot."
"Don't, sir," said his wife, in tones which were now perfectly intelligible to him, "don't ax poor Frank to go wid you tonight; you'll be as well widout him, especially as the night's so bright and clear; he's tired indeed, and, be the same token, I don't like to be here in the clouds of the night, wid nobody wid me but myself."
"If you're a gentlemen, sir," said the friendly voice, "you won't take this honest man from his wife at such an hour o' the night. If you take my advice too, I'd recommend you to come along wid ourselves at wanst."
There was no mistaking the friendly voice embodied in these words, as well as in those of Mrs. Finnerty. M'Carthy accordingly replied:—
"Very, well, Finnerty, I will proceed with these men. I should indeed be sorry to cause you any additional fatigue, or to fetch you from your house at such an hour. I will therefore put myself under the protection and guidance of these worthy fellows, who, I hope, will remember that although a friend to Mr. Purcel personally, yet I am none to any harshness he may have resorted to for the recovery of his tithes."
"There's nobody here," replied the still friendly voice, "inclined to offer you any offense, bekaise you happen to be a friend to Mr. Purcel"—and there was a marked emphasis laid upon the name—"so now," the voice proceeded, "you may make your mind aisy on that head."
A singular but significant laugh proceeded, from the other two, which, however, was repressed by a glance from "the friend," who said, "Come, boys, turn out; now, sir, the sooner we get over this journey the betther."
"Well, Finnerty," said M'Carthy, "many thanks for the hospitable shelter of your house, and to you also, Mrs. Finnerty, for your kindness and the trouble I have occasioned you."
Mrs. Finnerty's voice had now nearly abandoned her; and, as our young sportsman, after having shaken hands with her husband, now paid that compliment to herself, he perceived that the poor creature's hand was literally passive and cold as ice, whilst the words she attempted to utter literally died away unspoken on her lips.
Having got about a mile from the house, his unknown friend began to become loquacious, and related several anecdotes of successful escape from the meshes and minions of the law, a theme in which his two companions seemed to take singular delight; for they laughed immoderately at every recorded victory in outwitting the legal functionaries aforesaid.
"I was wanst upon a time," he proceeded, "taken up for a resky; (* a rescue) the case bein' you see, that we wanted the rent and the landlord wanted patience; so begad, at any rate, we gev the bloody bailiffs a thrifle for themselves, and the consequence was that we brought the cows back to a neighbor's place that belonged to another property, and the four bailiffs, poor creatures, lay upon the ground lookin' at us, an' never said ill we did it, for a raison they had; do you undherstand, boys?"
"Ay, we do undherstand; the bloddy thieves; divil break his neck that invinted rint, anyhow; sure there's no harm in wishin' that, the villain."
"Ay, an' tides," (* Tithes) replied the other; "however, we'll settle that first, and then the rents will soon follow them; an' sure there's no harm in that aither."
"Well an' good:—no, divil a harm's in it;—well an' good: to make a long story short, they grabbed me in a house up in the mountains—not unlike Finnerty's, I think that's his name—where I was on my keepin'; so what 'ud you have of it, but we were comin' acrass the hills, jist as it might be said we are now—only there's none of us a prisoner, thank goodness—hem! Well, I said to myself, hit or miss, I'll thry it; I have a pair o' legs, an' it won't be my fault or I'll put them to the best use: an' for that raison it'll be divil take the hindmost wid us. Now listen, boys; I started off, an' one fellow that had a pistol let bang at me, but long life to the pistol, divil a one of it would go off; bang again came the other chap's, but 'twas ditto repaited, and no go any more than the other. Well, do you know now, that the third fellow—for there was only three af them, I must tell you—the third fellow, I'm inclined to think, was a friend at bottom; for the devil a one of him struv to break his heart in overtakin' me. Well, by that manes, I say, I got off from two of as double-distilled villains as ever wor born to die by suspin-sion."
This narrative, the spirit of which was so acceptable to his two companions, and, if truth must be told, equally so to the third, was treasured up by M'Carthy, who felt that it ingeniously but cautiously pointed out to him the course he should adopt under his own peculiar circumstances. The consequence was, that on coming within about a couple of furlongs of a dark, narrow, thickly-wooded glen, through which he knew they must pass, he bolted off at the top of his speed, which, although very considerable for a man whose strength had been so completely exhausted by fatigue and the unusual slavery of that day's wandering through the mountains, was, notwithstanding, such as would never have enabled him to escape from his companions.
He had not gone a perch when the click of a pistol was heard, but no report; the fact having been, that the pistol missed fire, and did not go off.
"D—n your blood!" exclaimed the "friend" to the other, "fire, and don't let him escape;" the ruffian did so when click No. 2 was heard, but as before no report.
"Aisy," said the fellow who had fired first, pulling out a long Spanish dagger; "an inch or two of this is as safe as a bullet, any day; and by japers he won't escape it." He sprang after M'Carthy as he spoke, followed by his companion. The third man stepped a pace or two to the right, and levelling a long double-barrelled pistol, deliberately fired, when McCarthy's first pursuer fell; the second man, however, with that remarkable, quickness of wit which characterizes the Irish, in their outrages as well as in their pastimes, suddenly stooped, and taking the dreadful dagger out of the hands of the wounded man, continued the pursuit bounding after his foe with a spirit of vengeance and ferocity, now raised to the highest pitch. The stranger, seeing that M'Carthy was still in equal danger if not in still greater, for the now infuriated ruffian was gaining upon him, once more levelled his pistol—fired—and, as before, down came the intended assassin. He himself then sprang forward, as if in pursuit of M'Carthy, exclaiming, "Hell and fury, why did yez keep between me and him—I think he's hit; give me that dagger, and I'll go bail I'll make his body soon put six inches of it out of sight," and having uttered, these words, he rushed forward, as if in pursuit of their victim.
After he had left them, the following brief dialogue took place between these two worthies:—
"Hourigan, blazes to me but I'm shot."
"Hell's perdition to the unlucky villain—so am I—where are you shot, Mark?"
"By japers, the blood's pourin' out from me in the thigh, an' I'm afeard I'm done for—blast his unlucky hand, the villain; I wisht I had my dagger in him. Where are you shot, Darby?"
"Oh, vo—vo—on the right hip—but—oh, sweet Jasus, what will become of us if we're to die here—may the devil clap his cruibs (* Talons; claws) in the sowl of him that done it!"
"Amin, I pray the blessed Saviour this night! Do you think, Darby, he was a traitor, and done it a purpose?"
"Oh, mavrone, oh!—if I die widout the priest, what 'ud become o' me, an' all the sins I have to answer?"
"I say, was the villain a traitor, do you think?"
"Mavrone, oh!—blessed Lord forgive me—well—I can hardly think so—didn't he volunteer along wid yourself an' myself—oh, sweet Jasus! what a life I lead—oh, Mark Ratigan, Mark Ratigan, what will become o' me!—-I swore away the lives of two innocent men—I proved three alibis for three of as black villains as ever stretched a rope or charged a blunderbush! 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come'—oh, Lord! forbid that yet a while! could you join in a Leadhan wurrah?"
"Blast you, you thick-headed vagabone! don't you know it's wrong to call me Mark Ratigan—isn't Phil Hart my name now?—no, I tell you, that I can't join you in a Leadhan wurrah—nor I didn't think you wor such a d—d cowardly hound as you are—can't you die—if you're goin' to die—like a man, an' not like an ould woman? Be my sowl, Darby, my boy, afther this night I'll never trust you again. It's yourself that 'ud turn traitor on your country and her cause, if you got the rope and hangman at your nose."
"Holy Mary, mother of God! pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, amin! Oh, sweet Jasus! have parsecution on me this night, an' spare me if it's your blessed will, till I get time to repint properly anyhow. Mark, darlin', are you gettin' waker, for I am?"
"To blazes wid you, and don't bother me—no, I'm not—I've tied my handkerchy about the place I was shot in, an' stopped the blood—eh—here—well done, Mark—hem—Phil Hart, I mane—bravo—see—that now—instead of bleatin' like a dyin' sheep, I've stopped the blood, an' here I am able to stand and walk. Come," said he, approaching his companion, "where are you shot?—let us see?"
He stooped down, and on examining the Wound by the light of the moon, perceived at once that it was not all imagination and evil conscience. He consequently forced him to his legs, then bound up the wound with the fellow's handkerchief just as he had done his own, and in a few minutes they were able to resume their journey, slowly, it is true, and on the part of Ratigan, whose wound was the more serious, with a good deal of difficulty and pain, notwithstanding his hardihood.
In the meantime, M'Carthy was soon overtaken by the friendly Whiteboy, whose speed; of foot was indeed extraordinary. On seeing, the dagger in his pursuer's hand—for such he deemed him to be—he had prepared himself for resistance, the fact being, than in consequence of their blackened faces, and the state of perturbation and excitement in which he felt himself, he was in no condition to recognize any of the party unless by their voices.
"Don't be alarmed," exclaimed the stranger, approaching him, "I have saved your life for this night most likely, by takin' the, life of them that intended to murder you."
"I certainly feel," replied M'Carthy, "that I owe my life to you, and I know not what return I can make you for it. But why should I speak so, since I am ignorant of your name, as well as of everything whatsoever concerning you? As to the other two persons, I cannot understand why they should attempt to murder me, as I am not conscious of having given offence to, any person."
"You have never given offence to them," replied the stranger; "but unfortunately this, part of the country's in such a state of feelin' at the present time, that it's as aisy to find one man to murdher another as it would be to get a man to shoot a dog. No, sir; you never offended these men, but they were set on to take your life by a man who hates you."
"Well, since you have been on more than one occasion so generous to me, can you not let me know who that person is?"
"No, sir; that man has a hundred—ay, ten hundred eyes through the counthry—in the shape of spies—and five times as many hands any time he may wish for them. You may thank a friend of yours for sendin' me to save your life this night. Your family have been friends to him and to me too, although you don't know it. As for me, I go with him heart an' hand in puttin' down the tithes, but I'll always save the life of a friend, if I can; and indeed I have been forced to shoot these two men, in ordher to save yours to-night. I must go now and see what state they're in—whether alive or dead; but before. I go, listen:—tell the procthor that he has a fearful account to meet, and that soon; let neither him nor his sons be fool-hardy; say to him, that the wisest thing he can do is to remove himself and his family into the town of Lisnagola; or, if he won't do that, to keep his house half-filled with fire-arms; for I tell you now, the time is not long till he'll need them all. Tell them not to go out at night at all, or even by day, unless well armed; and do you yourself take the same advice; and now good-night. But, listen again: there, you see, is the spot below there, where the car was to meet you; but there's no car in it, and even if there was, I wouldn't recommend you to go on it; and if you're goin' to O'Driscol's don't go up the avenue, but by the back way, behind the garden, for it's very likely there's another man—and a fearful man, on the look-out for you, in case you should be missed by us. Farewell, for the present."
A few minutes brought this kind-hearted Whiteboy back to the spot where Hourigan and his companion, who was also his cousin, fell. He was a good deal surprised, but still highly gratified, at not finding them where they had fallen, as it was a 'proof to him that his aim at either had not been fatal, as he certainly had no intention of taking their lives, or of rendering them any greater injury than the infliction of such wound as might put an end to their pursuit of M'Carthy. On advancing a little farther, he saw them proceeding, by a different but shorter path towards the inland country; and being now satisfied, from their appearance, that they had not been mortally wounded, he left them to reach home as best they might, and proceeded himself in another direction.
CHAPTER XI.—The Sport Still Continued.
It is necessary to say here, that Moylan had not the slightest intention of sending Mr. Purcel's car to meet our friend M'Carthy, inasmuch as he never for a moment supposed that this devoted youth was likely to leave the mountains alive. His own egregious vanity, engrafted on a cowardly, jealous, and malignant disposition, prompted him, ever since he had been induced by the pedlar, out of a mere banter, to suppose that he had engaged the affections of Julia Purcel, to look upon this young man as a person that ought to be got out of his way. In this manner there was, indeed, a peculiar combination of circumstances against M'Carthy; for it so happened that Moylan, whilst anxious to wreak his own jealousy and hatred upon him, was, at the same time, executing the will of another individual who stood behind the scenes. On every side, then, M'Carthy was surrounded by mortal dangers that were completely veiled in obscurity. During this very night it was resolved to assassinate him, be the consequences what they might; and if he should escape, in the one instance, he was to be sought after in whatever house he took refuge, with the exception only of Purcel's, which his enemies were, for the present, afraid to attack. Every avenue and road leading to it however, was watched, with a hope that if he escaped elsewhere, they might shoot him down from, behind a hedge.
The condition of all secret and illegal societies in Ireland is, indeed, shocking and most detestable, when contemplated from any point of view whatsoever. In every one of them—that is, in every local body or branch of such conspiracy—there is a darker and more secret class, comparatively few in number, who undertake to organize the commission of crimes and outrages; and who, when they are controlled by the peaceably-disposed and enemies to bloodshed, always fall back upon this private and blood-stained clique, who are always willing to execute their sanguinary behests, as it were, con amore. In other cases, however, as we have stated before, even the virtuous and reluctant are often compelled, by the dark and stern decrees of these desperate ruffians, to perpetrate crimes from which they revolt. It was, therefore, in pursuance of these abominable principles that the arrangements for M'Carthy's murder were made on the night in question.
Jerry Joyce perceiving, as he had feared, that M'Carthy did not return to dinner, at once came to the determination that he would go to Finnerty's, where, from his connection with Whiteboyism, he knew that a meeting of them was to be held on that night. He accordingly armed himself with a ease of pistols, which he had been allowed to keep for the preservation of his master's family and premises, in case they should be attacked. He had not gone, however, within two miles of the mountains, when he met Mogue on His way home, carrying M'Carthy's, or rather John Purcel's double gun, and other shooting gear.
"Why, Mogue," said he, "how does this come? Where's Mr. M'Carthy from you?"
"Oh! that I may never sin—but sure I know I will—for I'm a great sinner—God forgive me!—but anyhow, that I may never sin, if I'm worth the washin'! Oh! Jerry, darlin', sick a killin' day as we had I never passed, an' I'm well accustomed to the mountains. Sure, now, Jerry, if you have one spunk of common charity in your composition, you'll take me up on your back and carry me home, otherwise I'll lie down on the road, and either die at wanst or sleep it out till mornin'."
"But that's not tellin' me where you left Mr. M'Carthy," replied Jerry, whose apprehensions were not at all lessened by this indirect and circuitous answer. "Where is he, and what has become of him?"
"Of all the mists that ever riz out o' the airth, or fell from the blessed heavens above as—glory be to the name of God! we had it on the mountains this whole day. Why, now, Jerry, a happy death to me, but you might cut it with a knife, at the very least, an' how we got through it, I'm sure, barrin' the Providence of God, I dunna. But indeed we're far from bein' worthy of the care He takes of us."
While speaking, he had, as an illustration of his fatigue, taken his seat upon the grassy ditch, which bounded in the road, and altogether enacted the part of a man completely broken down by over-exertion.
"But, Mogue, my pious creature, you're not tellin' us where you left—"
"Why, then, salvation to you, for one Jerry, do you think it's ait him I did? Sound asleep in Frank Finnerty's I left him, where he'll be well taken care of. Oh! thin, if ever a poor inoffensive young gintleman—for sure he's that by birth, as we say, at all events, as well as by larnin'—was brought to death's door with this day's work, he was. I thought to flatther him home if he could come, but it was no go. An' thin, agin, I thought it was a sin to ax' him; an' so for a afraid they'd be alarmed at home, I was on my way to make all your minds aisy. An' whisper hether, Jerry—not that I look upon Frank Finnerty an the man he ought to be, for we all know the narrow escape he had for the murder of Tom Whisky's son—still an' all, he's safe wid Finnerty, bekaise he knows that we know where he is, and that if anything happened him we'd hould him accountable."
"Well," replied Jerry, affecting a satisfaction which, however, he did not feel, "I'm glad he's safe; for, as you say, Mogue, although Frank Finnerty is pretty well known, still what could tempt him to harm Mr. M'Carthy?"
"I know that," said Mogue; "still an' all, the nerra foot I'd brought him to his house, only we stumbled on it out o' the mist, by mere accident, an' by coorse it was the next to us. Goodness' sake, Jerry, carry these things home for me, will you? I'm not able to mark the ground—do, avick, an' I'll offer up a pathran avy for you before I lay down my head this night, tired as I am."
"Well, begad, it's myself that would, Mogue, but you see, as I'm out for a while, an' so near my poor mother's, throth I'll slip over and see how she is, the crature; only for that, Mogue, I'd lighten you of the shootin' things wid a heart an' a half."
"But sure you can see your poor mother, the crature, any other evenin'? Do come back, Jerry, an' I'll do twiste as much for you agin. Oh! oh! milia murther! I'm not able to get on my legs. Give me your hand, Jerry—oh! oh!—well, well—what's this at all? Jerry, achora, don't desart me now, 'an me in the state you see. I'll never get home by myself—that's what I won't—mavrone, oh! what's this?—I'm fairly kilt."
"Well, but the thruth is, Mogue," replied his companion, "that I got a message from my mother, sayin' that she's not well, and wishes most partiklarly to see me about my sisther Shibby's marriage. Now, Mogue, you're a pious and religious boy, an' would be the last to encourage me to neglect a parent's wishes: ay, or that would allow me to do so, even if I intended it; throth I know it's a scoulden' you'd give me if I did."
Mogue's flank was completely turned; he was, in fact, most adroitly taken upon his own principle; his egregious vanity was ticked by this compliment to his piety; and, as he was at no time a person of firm character, he gave way.
Thought Jerry to himself, as he left this plausible hypocrite, to proceed home under his affected fatigue, "I know there's mischief on foot to-night, for if there wasn't I an' others 'ud be summoned to this meetin'; there will be nobody there, I suppose, but the black squad or the bloodmen. It'll go hard wid me, at any rate, but I'll send one there that'll bring Mr. M'Carthy from among them without suspicion; an' so here goes to lose no time about it."
He then plunged into the most solitary and remote fields, and pursued his way, anxious, if possible, to meet no one, much less any of those who belonged, as he said, "to the black squad."
Of late, the state of public feeling upon the subject of tithes had become so violent and agitated, that Mr. Purcel's immediate friends found it almost a matter involving their personal safety to dine with him. At all events, such of them as accepted his hospitality took care to leave his house very early, and to keep themselves well armed besides. On the evening in question, no one had been invited but M'Carthy and Fergus O'Driscol. The heroic magistrate, however, ever since the receipt of the threatening letter, would not suffer his son (who certainly participated in none of his father's cowardice), to dine abroad at all, lest his absence and well-known intrepidity might induce the Whiteboys, or other enemies of law, to attack the house when its principal defence was from home. The evening, therefore, hung heavy on their heads at Longshot Lodge, which was the name of Purcel's residence, especially upon that of the fair Julia, who felt not merely disappointed, but unusually depressed' by the unaccountable absence of her lover, knowing as she did, the turbulence which prevailed in the country. She scarcely ate any dinner, and in the course of a short time retired to her own room, which commanded a view of the way by which he should approach the house, where she watched, casement up, until she heard a foot in the avenue, which, however, her acute ear, well accustomed to McCarthy's, soon told her was not that of her lover. On looking more closely she perceived, however, that it was Mogue Moylan; and, unable to restrain her impatience, she raised the window still higher, and called down as Mogue passed under it, on his way round to the kitchen, but in a low, earnest voice, with, as Mogue thought, a good deal of confidential in it, "Is that Mogue?"