After these men went away, Reilly, having waited a few minutes, until he was satisfied that they had actually, one and all of them, disappeared, came down from the tree, and once more betook himself to the road. Whither to go he knew not. In consequence of having received his education abroad, his personal knowledge of the inhabitants belonging to the neighborhood was very limited. Go somewhere, however, he must. Accordingly, he resolved to advance, at all events, as far as he might be able to travel before bed-time, and then resign himself to chance for a night's shelter. One might imagine, indeed, that his position as a wealthy Roman Catholic gentleman, suffering persecution from the tool and scourge of a hostile government, might have calculated upon shelter and secrecy from those belonging to his own creed. And so, indeed, in nineteen cases out of twenty he might; but in what predicament should he find himself if the twentieth proved treacherous? And against this he had no guarantee. That age was peculiarly marked by the foulest personal perfidy, precipitated into action by rapacity, ingratitude, and the blackest ambition. The son of a Roman Catholic gentleman, for instance, had nothing more to do than change his creed, attach himself to the government, become a spy and informer on his family, and he ousted his own father at once out of his hereditary property—an ungrateful and heinous proceeding, that was too common in the time of which we write. Then, as to the people themselves, they were, in general, steeped in poverty and ignorance, and this is certainly not surprising when we consider that no man durst educate them. The government rewards, therefore, assailed them with a double temptation. In the first, the amount of it—taking their poverty into consideration—was calculated to grapple with and overcome their scruples; and in the next, they were certain by their treachery to secure the protection of government for themselves.
Such, exactly, was the state of the country on the night when Reilly found himself a solitary traveller on the road, ignorant of his destiny, and uncertain where or in what quarter he might seek shelter until morning.
He had not gone far when he overtook another traveller, with whom he entered into conversation.
"God save you, my friend."
"God save you kindly, sir," replied the other; "was not this an awful night?"
"If you may say so," returned Reilly unconsciously, and for the moment forgetting himself, "well may I, my friend."
Indeed it is probable that Reilly was thrown somewhat off his guard by the accent of his companion, from which he at once inferred that he was a Catholic.
"Why, sir," replied the man, "how could it be more awful to you than to any other man?"
"Suppose my house was blown down," said Reilly, "and that yours was not, would not that be cause sufficient?"
"My house!" exclaimed the man with a deep sigh; "but sure you ought to know, sir, that it's not every man has a house."
"And perhaps I do know it."
"Wasn't that a terrible act, sir—the burning of Mr. Reilly's house and place?"
"Who is Mr. Reilly?" asked the other.
"A Catholic gintleman, sir, that the soldiers are afther," replied the man.
"And perhaps it is right that they should be after him. What did he do? The Catholics are too much in the habit of violating the law, especially their priests, who persist in marrying Protestants and Papists together, although they know it is a hanging matter. If they deliberately put their necks into the noose, who can pity them?"
"It seems they do, then," replied the man in a subdued voice; "and what is still more strange, it very often happens that persons of their own creed are somewhat too ready to come down wid a harsh word upon 'em."
"Well, my friend," responded Reilly, "let them not deserve it; let them obey the law."
"And are you, of opinion, sir," asked the man with a significant emphasis upon the personal pronoun which we have put in italics; "are you of opinion, sir, that obedience to the law is always a security to either person or property?"
The direct force of the question could not be easily parried, at least by Reilly, to whose circumstances it applied so powerfully, and he consequently paused for a little to shape his thoughts into the language he wished to adopt; the man, however, proceeded:
"I wonder what Mr. Reilly would say if such a question was put to him?"
"I suppose," replied Reilly, "he would say much as I say—that neither innocence nor obedience is always a security under any law or any constitution either."
His companion made no reply, and they walked on for some time in silence. Such indeed was the precarious state of the country then that, although the stranger, from the opening words of their conversation, suspected his companion to be no other than Willy Reilly himself, yet he hesitated to avow the suspicions he entertained of his identity, although he felt anxious to repose the fullest confidence in him; and Reilly, on the other hand, though perfectly aware of the true character of his companion, was influenced in their conversation by a similar feeling. Distrust it could not be termed on either side, but simply the operation of that general caution which was generated by the state of the times, when it was extremely difficult to know the individual on whom you could place dependence. Reilly's generous nature, however, could bear this miserable manoeuvring no longer.
"Come, my friend," said he, "we have been beating about the bush with each other to no purpose; although I know not your name, yet I think I do your profession."
"And I would hold a wager," replied other, "that Mr. Reilly, whose house was burned down by a villain this night, is not a thousand miles from me."
"And suppose you are right?"
"Then, upon my veracity, you're safe, if I am. It would ill become my cloth and character to act dishonorably or contrary to the spirit of my religion.
'Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco.'
You see, Mr. Reilly, I couldn't make use of any other gender but the feminine without violating prosody; for although I'm not so sharp at my Latin as I was, still I couldn't use ignarus, as you see, without fairly committing myself as a scholar; and indeed, if I went to that, it would surely be the first time I have been mistaken for a dunce."
The honest priest, now that the ice was broken, and conscious that he was in safe hands, fell at once into his easy and natural manner, and rattled away very much to the amusement of his companion. "Ah!" he proceeded, "many a character I have been forced to assume."
"How is that?" inquired Reilly. "How did it happen that you were forced into such a variety of characters?"
"Why, you see, Mr. Reilly—troth and maybe I had better not be naming you aloud; walls have ears, and so may hedges. How, you ask? Why, you see, I'm not registered, and consequently have no permission from government to exercise my functions."
"Why," said Reilly, "you labor under a mistake, my friend; the bill for registering Catholic priests did not pass; it was lost by a majority of two. So far make your mind easy. The consequence is, that if you labor under no ecclesiastical censure you may exercise all the functions of your office—that is, as well as you can, and as far as you dare."
"Well, that same's a comfort," said the priest; "but the report was, and is, that we are to be registered. However, be that as it may, I have been a perfect Proteus. The metamorphoses of Ovid were nothing to mine. I have represented every character in society at large; to-day I've been a farmer, and to-morrow a poor man (a mendicant), sometimes a fool—a rare character, you know, in this world—and sometimes a tiddler, for I play a little."
"And which character did you prefer among them all?" asked Reilly, with a smile which he could not repress.
"Oh, in troth, you needn't ask that, Mr. R.—hem—you needn't ask that. The first morning I took to the fiddle I was about to give myself up to government at once. As for my part, I'd be ashamed to tell you how sent those that were unlucky enough to ear my music scampering across the country."
"And, pray, how long is that since?"
"Why, something better than three weeks, the Lord pity me!"
"And what description of dress did you wear on that occasion?" asked Reilly.
"Dress-why, then, an old yellow caubeen, a blue frieze coat, and—movrone, oh! a striped breeches. And the worst of it was, that big Paddy Mullin, from Mullaghmore, having met me in old Darby Doyle's, poor man, where I went to take a little refreshment, ordered in something to eat, and began to make me play for him. There was a Protestant in the house, too, so that I couldn't tell him who I was, and I accordingly began, and soon cleared the house of them. God bless you, sir, you could little dream of all I went through. I was one day set in the house I was concealed in, in the town of Ballyrogan, and only for the town fool, Art M'Kenna, I suppose I'd have swung before this."
"How was that?" asked Reilly.
"Why, sir, one day I got the hard word that they would be into the house where I was in a few minutes. To escape them in my own dress I knew was impossible; and what was to be done? The poor fool, who was as true as steel, came to my relief. 'Here,' said he, 'exchange wid me. I'll put on your black clothes, and you'll put on my red ones'—he was dressed like an old soldier—'then I'll take to my scrapers, an' while they are in pursuit of me you can escape to some friend's house, where you may get another dress. 'God knows,' said he, with a grin on him I didn't like, 'it's a poor exchange on my part. You can play the fool, and cock your cap, without any one to ask you for authority,' says he, 'and if I only marry a wrong couple I may be hanged. Go off now.' Well, sir, out I walked, dressed in a red coat, military hat, white knee-breeches, and black leggings. As I was going out I met the soldiers. 'Is the priest inside, Art?' they asked. I pointed in a wrong direction. 'Up by Kilclay?' I nodded. They first searched the house, however, but found neither priest nor fool; only one of them, something sharper than the rest, went out of the back door, and saw unfortunate Art, dressed in black, running for the bare life. Of course they thought it was me they had. Off they started; and a tolerable chase Art put them to. At last he was caught, after a run across the country of about four miles; but ne'er a word came out of his lips, till a keen fellow, on looking closely at him, discovered the mistake. Some of them were then going to kill the poor fool, but others interfered, and wouldn't allow him to be touched; and many of them laughed heartily when they saw Art turned into a clergyman, as they said. Art, however, was no coward, and threatened to read every man of them out from the altar. 'I'll exkimnicate every mother's son of you,' said he. 'I'm a reverend clargy; and, by the contents of my soger's cap, I'll close the mouths on your faces, so that a blessed pratie or a boult of fat bacon will never go down one of your villainous throats again; and then,' he added, 'I'll sell you for scarecrows to the Pope o' Room, who wants a dozen or two of you to sweep out his palace.' It was then, sir, that, while I was getting out of my red clothes, I was transformed again; but, indeed, the most of us are so now, God help us!"
They had now arrived at a narrow part of the road, when the priest stood.
"Mr. Reilly," said he, "I am very tired; but, as it is, we must go on a couple of miles further, until we reach Glen Dhu, where I think I can promise you a night's lodging, such as it will be."
"I am easily satisfied," replied his companion; "it would be a soft bed that would win me to repose on this night, at least."
"It will certainly be a rude and a rough one," said the priest, "and there will be few hearts there free from care, no more than yours, Mr. Reilly. Alas! that I should be obliged to say so in a Christian country."
"You say you are fatigued," said Reilly. "Take my arm; I am strong enough to yield you some support."
The priest did so, and they proceeded at a slower pace, until they got over the next two miles, when the priest stopped again.
"I must rest a little," said he, "although we are now within a hundred yards of our berth for the night. Do you know where you are?"
"Perfectly," replied Reilly; "but, good mercy! sure there is neither house nor home within two miles of us. We are in the moors, at the very mouth of Glen Dhu.'
"Yes," replied his companion, "and I am glad we are here."
The poor hunted priest felt himself, indeed, very much exhausted, so much so that, if the termination of his journey had been at a much longer distance from thence, he would scarcely have been able to reach it.
"God help our unhappy Church," said he, "for she is suffering much; but still she is suffering nobly, and with such Christian fortitude as will make her days of trial and endurance the brightest in her annals. All that power and persecution can direct against us is put in force a thousand ways; but we act under the consciousness that we have God and truth on our side, and this gives us strength and courage to suffer. And if we fly, Mr. Reilly, and hide ourselves, it is not from any moral cowardice we do so. It certainly is not true courage to expose our lives wantonly and unnecessarily to the vengeance of our enemies. Read the Old Testament and history, and you will find how many good and pious men have sought shelter in wildernesses and caves, as we have done. The truth is, we feel ourselves called upon, for the sake of our suffering and neglected flocks, to remain in the country, and to afford them all the consolation and religious support in our power, God help them."
"I admire the justice of your sentiments," replied Reilly, "and the spirit in which they are—expressed. Indeed I am of opinion that if those who foster and stimulate this detestable spirit of persecution against you only knew how certainly and surely it defeats their purpose, by cementing your hearts and the hearts of your flocks together, they would not, from principles even of worldly policy, persist in it. The man who attempted to break down the arch by heaping additional weight upon it ultimately found that the greater the weight the stronger the arch, and so I trust it will be with us."
"It would seem," said the priest, "to be an attempt to exterminate the religion of the people by depriving them of their pastors, and consequently of their Church, in order to bring them to the impression that, upon the principle of any Church being better than no Church, they may gradually be absorbed into Protestantism. This seems to be their policy; but how can any policy, based upon such persecution, and so grossly at variance with human liberty, ever succeed? As it is, we go out in the dead hours of the night, when even persecution is asleep, and administer the consolations of religion to the sick, the dying, and the destitute. Now these stolen visits are sweeter, perhaps, and more efficacious, than if they took place in freedom and the open day. Again, we educate their children in the principles of their creed, during the same lonely hours, in waste houses, where we are obliged to keep the windows stuffed with straw, or covered with blinds of some sort, lest a chance of discovery might ensue. Such is the life we lead—a life of want and misery and suffering, but we complain not; on the contrary, we submit ourselves to the will of God, and receive this severe visitation as a chastisement intended for our good."
The necessities of our narrative, however, compel us to leave them here for the present; but not without a hope that they found shelter for the night, as we trust we shall be able to show.
CHAPTER IX.—A Prospect of Bygone Times
—Reilly's Adventure Continued—Reilly Gets a Bed in a Curious Establishment.
We now beg our readers to accompany us to the library of Sir Robert Whitecraft, where that worthy gentleman sits, with a bottle of Madeira before him; for Sir Robert, in addition to his many other good qualities, possessed that of being a private drinker. The bottle, we say, was before him, and with a smile of triumph and satisfaction on his face, he arose and rang the bell. In a few minutes a liveried servant attended it.
"Carson, send O'Donnel here."
Carson bowed and retired, and in a few minutes the Red Rapparee entered.
"How is this, O'Donnel? Have you thrown aside your uniform?"
"I didn't think I'd be called out on duty again to-night, sir."
"It doesn't matter, O'Donnel—it doesn't matter. What do you think of the bonfire?"
"Begad, it was a beauty, sir, and well managed."
"Ay, but I am afraid, O'Donnel, I went a little too far—that I stretched my authority somewhat."
"But isn't he a rebel and an outlaw, Sir Robert? and in that case—"
"Yes, O'Donnel; and a rebel and an outlaw of my own making, which is the best of it. The fellow might have lain there, concocting his treason, long enough, only for my vigilance. However, it's all right. The government, to which I have rendered such important services, will stand by me, and fetch me out of the burning—that is, if there has been any transgression of the law in it. The Papists are privately recruiting for the French service, and that is felony; Reilly also was recruiting for the French service—was he not?"
"He offered me a commission, sir."
"Very good; that's all right, but can you prove that?"
"Why, I can swear it, Sir Robert."
"Better still. But do you think he is in the country, O'Donnel?"
"I would rather swear he is, sir, than that he is not. He won't lave her aisily."
"Who do you mean by her, sir?"
"I would rather not name her, your honor, in connection with the vagabond."
"That's delicate of you, O'Donnel; I highly approve of your sentiment. Here, have a glass of wine."
"Thank you, Sir Robert; but have you any brandy, sir? My tongue is as dry as a stick, wid that glorious bonfire we had; but, besides, sir, I wish to drink success to you in all your undertakings. A happy marriage, sir!" and he accompanied the words with a ferocious grin.
"You shall have one glass of brandy, O'Donnel, but no more. I wish you to deliver a letter for me to-night. It is to the sheriff, who dines with Lord ———, a friend of mine; and I wish you to deliver it at his lordship's house, where you will be sure to find him. The letter is of the greatest importance, and you will take care to deliver it safely. No answer by you is required. He was out to-day, levying fines from Popish priests, and a heavy one from the Popish bishop, and I do not think, with a large sum of money about him, that he will go home to-night. Here is the letter. I expect he will call on me in the morning, to breakfast—at least I have asked him, for we have very serious business to discuss."
The Rapparee took the letter, finished his glass of brandy, and disappeared to fulfil his commission.
Now it so happened that on that very evening, before the premises had been set on fire, Mary Mahon, by O'Donnel's order, had entered the house, and under, as it were, the protection of the military, gathered up as much of Reilly's clothes and linen as she could conveniently carry to her cottage, which was in the immediate vicinity of Whitecraft's residence—it being the interest of this hypocritical voluptuary to have the corrupt wretch near him. The Rapparee, having left Whitecraft to his reflections, immediately directed his steps to her house, and, with her connivance, changed the dress he had on for one which she had taken from Reilly's wardrobe. He then went to the house of the nobleman where the sheriff was dining, but arrived only in time to hear that he was about to take horse on his return home. On seeing him preparing to mount, bearing a lantern in his hand, as the night was dark and the roads bad, he instantly changed his purpose as to the letter, and came to the resolution of not delivering it at all.
"I can easily say," thought he, "that the sheriff had gone home before I came, and that will be a very sufficient excuse. In the meantime," he added, "I will cross the country and be out on the road before him."
The sheriff was not unarmed, however, and felt himself tolerably well prepared for any attack that might be made on him; and, besides, he was no coward. After a ride of about two miles he found himself stopped, and almost at the same instant the lantern that he carried was knocked out of his hand and extinguished, but not until he caught a faint glimpse of the robber's person, who, from his dress, appeared to be a man much above the common class. Quick as lightning he pulled out one of his pistols, and, cocking it, held himself in readiness. The night was dark, and this preparation for self-defence was unknown to his assailant. On feeling the reins of his horse's bridle in the hands of the robber, he snapped the pistol at his head, but alas! it only flashed in the pan. The robber, on the other hand, did not seem anxious to take his life, for it was a principle among the Rapparees to shed, while exercising their rapacious functions, as little blood as possible. They have frequently taken life from a feeling of private vengeance, but not often while robbing on the king's highway. The sheriff, now finding that one pistol had missed, was about to draw out the second, when he was knocked insensible off his horse, and on recovering found himself minus the fines which he had that day levied—all the private cash about him—and his case of pistols. This indeed was a bitter incident to him; because, in addition to the loss of his private purse and firearms—which he valued as nothing—he knew that he was responsible to government for the amount of the fines.
With considerable difficulty he was able to remount his horse, and with a sense of stupor, which was very painful, he recommenced his journey home. After a ride of about two miles he met three horsemen, who immediately challenged him and demanded his name and residence.
"I am the sheriff of the county," he replied, "and have been robbed of a large sum of money and my pistols; and now," he added, "may I beg to know who you are, and by what authority you demand my name and residence?"
"Excuse us, Mr. Sheriff," they replied; "we belong to the military detachment which government has placed under the control of Sir Robert Whitecraft."
"Oh, indeed," exclaimed the sheriff; "I wish to heaven you had been a little more advanced on your journey; you might have saved me from being plundered, as I have been, and probably secured the robber."
"Could you observe, sir, what was the villain's appearance?"
"I had a small lantern," replied the functionary, "by which I caught a brief but uncertain glance of him. I am not quite certain that I could recognize his features, though, if I saw him again—but—perhaps I might, certainly I could his dress."
"How was he dressed, sir?" they inquired.
"Quite beyond the common," said the sheriff; "I think he had on a brown coat, of superior cloth and make, and I think, too, the buckles of his slices were silver."
"And his features, Mr. Sheriff?"
"I cannot exactly say," he returned; "I was too much agitated to be able to recollect them; but indeed the dim glimpse I got was too brief to afford me an opportunity of seeing them with any thing like distinctness."
"From the description you have given, sir," said one of them, "the man who robbed you must have been Reilly the Outlaw. That is the very dress he has been in the habit of wearing. Was he tall, sir, and stout in person?"
"He was a very large man, certainly," replied the sheriff; "and I regret I did not see his face more distinctly."
"It can be no other, Mr. Sheriff," observed the man; "the fellow has no means of living now, unless by levying contributions on the road. For my part, I think the scoundrel can make himself invisible; but it must go hard with us or we will secure him yet. Would you wish an escort home, Mr. Sheriff? because, if you do, we shall accompany you."
"No," replied the other, "I thank you. I would not have ventured home unattended if the Red Rapparee had still been at his vocation, and his gang undispersed; but as he is now on the safe side, I apprehend no danger."
"It's not at all impossible but Reilly may step into his shoes," said the cavalryman.
"I have now neither money nor arms," continued the sheriff; "nothing the villain robbers could covet, and what, then, have I to fear?"
"You have a life, sir," observed the man respectfully, "and if you'll allow me to say it—the life of a man who is not very well liked in the country, in consequence of certain duties you are obliged to perform. Come, then, sir, we shall see you home."
It was so arranged, and the sheriff reached his own residence, under their escort, with perfect safety.
This indeed was a night of adventure to Reilly—hunted, as he was, like a beast of prey. After what had taken place already in the early portion of it, he apprehended no further pursuit, and in this respect he felt his mind comparatively at ease—for, in addition to any other conviction of his safety, he knew that the night was far advanced, and as the country was unsettled, he was not ignorant that the small military parties that were in the habit of scouring the country generally—unless when in the execution of some express duty—retired to their quarters at an early hour, in order to avoid the severe retaliations which were frequently made upon them by the infuriated peasantry whom they—or rather the government which employed them—had almost driven to madness, and—would have driven to insurrection had the people possessed the means of rising. As it was, however, he dreaded no further pursuit this night, for the reasons which we have stated.
In the meantime the sheriff, feeling obliged by the civility of the three dragoons, gave them refreshments on a very liberal scale, of which—rather exhausted as they were—they made a very liberal use. Feeling themselves now considerably stimulated by liquor, they mounted their horses and proceeded towards their barracks—at a quick pace. In consequence of the locality in which the sheriff lived, it was necessary that they should travel in a direction opposite to that by which Reilly and the priest were going. At all events, after riding a couple of miles, they overtook three infantry soldiers who were also on their way to quarters. The blood, however, of the troopers was up—thanks to the sheriff; they mentioned the robbery, and requested the three infantry to precede them as an advanced guard, as quietly as possible, stating that there might still be a chance of coming across the villain who had plundered the sheriff, intimating their impression, at the same time, that Reilly was the man, and adding that if they could secure him their fortune was made. As has always been usual in executing cases, of the law attended with peculiar difficulty, these men—the infantry—like our present detectives, had gone out that night in colored clothes. On perceiving two individuals approaching them in the dim distance, they immediately threw their guns into the ditch, lest they should put our friends upon their guard and cause them to escape if they could. Reilly could have readily done so; but having, only a few minutes before heard from the poor old priest that he had, for some months past, been branded and pursued us a felon, he could not think of abandoning him now that he was feeble and jaded with fatigue as well as with age. Now it so happened that one of these fellows had been a Roman Catholic, and having committed some breach of the law, found it as safe as it was convenient to change his creed, and as he spoke the Irish language fluently—indeed there were scarcely any other then spoken by the peasantry—he commenced clipping his hands on seeing the two men, and expressing the deepest sorrow for the loss of his wife, from whose funeral, it appeared from his lamentations, he was then returning.
"We have nothing to apprehend, here," said Reilly; "this poor fellow is in sorrow, it seems—God help him! Let us proceed."
"Oh!" exclaimed the treacherous villain, clapping his hands—[we translate his words]—"Oh, Yeeah. Yeeah! (God, God!) what a bitther loss you'll be, my darlin' Madge, to me and your orphan childher, now and for evermore! Oh, where was there sich a wife, neighbors? who ever heard her harsh word, or her loud voice? And from mornin' till night ever, ever busy in keepin' every thing tight and clane and regular! Let me alone, will yez? I'll go back and sleep upon her grave this night—so I will; and if all the blasted sogers in Ireland—may sweet bad luck to them!—were to come to prevent me, I'd not allow them. Oh, Madge, darlin', but I'm the lonely and heartbroken man widout you this night!"
"Come, come," said the priest, "have firmness, poor man; other people have these calamities to bear as well as yourself. Be a man."
"Oh, are you a priest, sir? bekase if you are I want consolation if ever a sorrowful man did."
"I am a priest," replied the unsuspecting I man, "and any thing I can do to calm your mind, I'll do it."
He had scarcely uttered these words when! Reilly felt his two arms strongly pinioned, and as the men who had seized him were powerful, the struggle between him and them was dreadful. The poor priest at the same moment found himself also a prisoner in the hands of the bereaved widower, to whom he proved an easy victim, as he was incapable of making resistance, which, indeed, he declined to attempt. If he did not possess bodily strength, however, he was not without presence of mind. For whilst Reilly and his captors were engaged in a fierce and powerful conflict, he placed his fore-finger and thumb in his mouth, from which proceeded a whistle so piercingly loud and shrill that it awoke the midnight echoes around them.
This was considered by the dragoons as a signal from their friends in advance, and, without the loss of a moment, they set spurs to their horses, and dashed up to the scene of struggle, just as Reilly had got his right arm extricated, and knocked one of his captors down. In an instant, however, the three dragoons, aided by the other men, were upon him, and not less than three cavalry pistols were levelled at his head. Unfortunately, at this moment the moon began to rise, and the dragoons, on looking at him more closely, observed that he was dressed precisely as the sheriff had described the person who robbed him—the brown coat, light-colored breeches, and silver buckles—for indeed this was his usual dress.
"You are Willy Reilly," said the man who had been spokesman in their interview with the sheriff: "you needn't deny it, sir—I know you!"
"If you know me, then," replied Reilly, "where is the necessity for asking my name?"
"I ask again, sir, what is your name? If you be the man I suspect you to be, you will deny it."
"My name," replied the other, "is William Reilly, and as I am conscious of no crime against society—of no offence against the State—I shall not deny it."
"I knew I was right," said the dragoon. "Mr. Reilly, you are our prisoner on many charges, not the least of which is your robbery of the sheriff this night. You must come with us to Sir Robert Whitecraft; so must this other person who seems your companion."
"Not a foot I'll go to Sir Eobert Whitecraft's to-night," replied the priest. "I have made my mind up against such a stretch at such an hour as this; and, with the help of God, I'll stick to my resolution."
"Why do you refuse to go?" asked the man, a good deal surprised at such language.
"Just for a reason I have: as for that fellow being Willy Reilly, he's no more Willy Reilly than I am; whatever he is, however, he's a good man and true, but must be guided by wiser heads than his own; and I now tell him—ay, and you too—that he won't see Sir Robert Whitecraft's treacherous face to-night, no more than myself."
"Come," said one of them, "drag the idolatrous old rebel along. Come, my old couple-beggar, there's a noose before you."
He had scarcely uttered the words when twenty men, armed with strong pikes, jumped out on the road before them, and about the same number, with similar weapons, behind them. In fact, they were completely hemmed in; and, as the road was narrow and the ditches high, they were not at all in a capacity to make resistance.
"Surrender your prisoners," said a huge man in a voice of thunder—"surrender your prisoners—here are we ten to one against you; or if you don't, I swear there won't be a living man amongst you in two minutes' time. Mark us well—we are every man of us armed—and I will not ask you a second time."
As to numbers and weapons the man spoke truth, and the military party saw at once that their prisoners must be given up.
"Let us have full revenge on them now, boys," exclaimed several voices; "down with the tyrannical villains that are parse-cuting and murdherin' the country out of a face. This night closes their black work;" and as the words were uttered, the military felt themselves environed and pressed in upon by upwards of five-and-twenty sharp and bristling pikes.
"It is true, you may murder us," replied the dragoon; "but we are soldiers, and to die is a soldier's duty. Stand back," said he, "for, by all that's sacred, if you approach another step, William Reilly and that rebel priest will fall dead at your feet. We may die then; but we will sell our lives dearly. Cover the priest, Robinson."
"Boys," said the priest, addressing the insurgent party, "hold back, for God's sake, and for mine. Remember that these men are only doing their duty, and that whoever is to be blamed, it is not they—no, but the wicked men and cruel laws that set them upon us. Why, now, if these; men, out of compassion and a feeling of kindness to poor persecuted creatures, as we are, took it into their heads or their hearts to let that man and me off, they would have been, probably, treated like dogs for neglecting their duty. I am, as you know, a minister of God, and a man of peace, whose duty it is to prevent bloodshed whenever I can, and save human life, whether it is that of a Catholic or a Protestant. Recollect, my friends, that you will, every one of you, have to stand before the judgment throne of God to seek for mercy and salvation. As you hope for that mercy, then, at the moment of your utmost need, I implore, I entreat you, to show these men mercy now, and allow them to go their way in safety."
"I agree with every word the priest has said," added Reilly; "not from any apprehension of the threat held out against myself, but from, I trust, a higher principle. Here are only six men, who, as his Reverence justly said, are, after all, only in the discharge of their public duty. On the other hand, there are at least forty or fifty of you against them. Now I appeal to yourselves, whether it would be a manly, or generous, or Christian act, to slaughter so poor a handful of men by the force of numbers. No: there would be neither credit nor honor in such an act. I assure you, my friends, it would disgrace your common name, your common credit, and your common country. Nay, it would seem like cowardice, and only give a handle to your enemies to tax you with it. But I know you are not cowards, but brave and generous men, whose hearts and spirits are above a mean action. If you were cowardly butchers, I know we might speak to you in vain; but we know you are incapable of imbruing your hands, and steeping your souls, in the guilt of unresisting blood—for so I may term it—where there are so few against so many. My friends, go home, then, in the name of God, and, as this reverend gentleman said, allow these men to pass their way 'without injury.'"
"But who are you?" said their huge leader, in his terrible voice, "who presumes to lecture us?"
"I am one," replied Reilly, "who has suffered more deeply, probably, than any man here. I am without house or home, proscribed by the vengeance of a villain—a villain who has left me without a shelter for my head—who, this night, has reduced my habitation, and all that appertained to it, to a heap of ashes—who is on my trail, night and day, and who will be on my trail, in order to glut his vengeance with my blood. Now, my friends, listen—I take God to witness, that if that man were here at this moment, I would plead for his life with as much earnestness as I do for those of the men who are here at your mercy. I feel that it would be cowardly and inhuman to take it under such circumstances; yes, and unworthy of the name of William Reilly. Now," he added, "these men will pass safely to their quarters."
As they were about to resume their journey, the person who seemed to have the command of the military said:
"Mr. Reilly, one word with you: I feel that you have saved our lives; I may requite you for that, generous act yet;" and he pressed his hand warmly as he spoke, after which they proceeded on their way.
That the person of Reilly was not recognized by any of these men is accounted for by a well-known custom, peculiar to such meetings, both then and now. The individuals before and around him were all strangers, from distant parts of the country; for whenever an outrage is to be committed, or a nocturnal drilling to take place, the peasantry start across the country, in twos and threes, until they quietly reach some lonely and remote spot, where their persons are not known.
No sooner had he mentioned his name, however, than there arose a peculiar murmur among the insurgents—such a murmur indeed as it was difficult to understand; there was also a rapid consultation in Irish, which was closed by a general determination to restrain their vengeance for that night, at least, and for the sake of the celebrated young martyr—for as such they looked upon him—to allow the military to pass on without injury. Reilly then addressed them in Irish, and thanked them, both in his own name and that of the priest, for the respect evinced by, their observation of the advice they had given them. The priest also addressed them in Irish, aware, as he was, that one sentence in that language, especially from a person in a superior rank of life, carries more weight than a whole oration in the language of the Sassenagh. The poor old man's mind was once more at ease, and after these rough, but not intractable, men had given three cheers for "bould Willy Reilly," three more for the Cooleen Bawn, not forgetting the priest, the latter, while returning thanks, had them in convulsions of laughter. "May I never do harm," proceeded his reverence humorously, "but the first Christian duty that every true Catholic ought to learn is to whistle on his fingers. The moment ever your children, boys, are able to give a squall, clap their forefinger and thumb in their mouth, and leave the rest to nature. Let them talk of their spinnet and sinnet, their fiddle and their diddle, their dancing and their prancing, but there is no genteel accomplishment able to be compared to a rousing whistle on the fingers. See what it did for us to-night. My soul to glory, but only for it, Mr. Reilly and I would have soon taken a journey with our heels foremost; and, what is worse, the villains would have forced us to take a bird's-eye view of our own funeral from the three sticks, meaning the two that stand up, and the third that goes across them (The gallows). However, God's good, and, after all, boys, you see there is nothing like an accomplished education. As to the soldiers, I don't think myself that they'll recover the bit of fright they got until the new potatoes come in. Troth, while you were gathering in about them, I felt that the unfortunate vagabonds were to be pitied; but, Lord help us, when men are in trouble—especially in fear of their lives—and with twelve inches of sharp iron near their breasts, it's wonderful what effect fear will have on them. Troth, I wasn't far from feeling the same thing myself, only I knew there was relief at hand; at all events, it's well you kept your hands off them, for now, thank goodness, you can step home without the guilt of murder on your souls."
Father Maguire, for such was his name, possessed the art of adapting his language and dialect to those whom he addressed, it mattered not whether they were South, West, or North; he was, in fact, a priest who had never been in any college, but received ordination in consequence of the severity of the laws, whose operation, by banishing so many of that class from the country, rendered the services of such men indispensable to the spiritual wants of the people. Father Maguire, previous to his receiving holy orders, had been a schoolmaster, and exercised his functions on that capacity in holes and corners; sometimes on the sheltery or sunny side of a hedge, as the case might be, and on other occasions when and where he could. In his magisterial capacity, "the accomplishment" of whistling was absolutely necessary to him, because it often happened that in stealing in the morning from his retreat during the preceding night, he knew no more where to meet his little flock of scholars than they did where to meet him, the truth being that he seldom found it safe to teach two days successively in the same place. Having selected the locality for instruction during the day, he put his forefinger and thumb into his mouth, and emitted a whistle that went over half the country. Having thus given the signal three times, his scholars began gradually and cautiously to make their appearance, radiating towards him from all-directions, reminding one of a hen in a farm-yard, who, having fallen upon some wholesome crumbs, she utters that peculiar sound which immediately collects her eager little flock about her, in order to dispense among them the good things she has to give. Poor Father Maguire was simplicity itself, for, although cheerful, and a good deal of a humorist, yet he was pious, inoffensive, and charitable. True, it is not to be imagined that he could avoid bearing a very strong feeling of enmity against the Establishment, as, indeed, we do not see, so long as human nature is what it is, how he could have done otherwise; he hated it, however, in the aggregate, not in detail, for the truth is, that he received shelter and protection nearly as often from the Protestants themselves, both lay and clerical, as he did from those of his own creed. The poor man's crime against the State proceeded naturally from the simplicity of his character and the goodness of his heart. A Protestant peasant had seduced a Catholic young woman of considerable attractions, and was prevailed upon to marry her, in order to legitimize the infant which she was about to bear. Our poor priest, anxious to do as much good, and to prevent as much evil as he could, was prevailed upon to perform the ceremony, contrary to the law in that case made and provided. Ever since that, the poor man had been upon his keeping like a felon, as the law had made him; but so well known were his harmless life, his goodness of heart, and his general benevolence of disposition—for, alas! he was incapable of being benevolent in any practical sense—that, unless among the bigoted officials of the day, there existed no very strong disposition to hand him over to the clutches of the terrible statute which he had, good easy man, been prevailed on to violate.
In the meantime, the formidable body who had saved Reilly's life and his own dispersed, or disappeared at least; but not until they had shaken hands most cordially with Reilly and the priest, who now found themselves much in the same position in which they stood previous to their surprise and arrest.
"Now," said Reilly, "the question is, what are we to do? where are we to go? and next, how did you come to know of the existence in this precise locality of such a body of men?"
"Because I have set my face against such meetings," replied the priest. "One of those who was engaged to be present happened to mention the fact to me as a clergyman, but you know that, as a clergyman, I can proceed no further."
"I understand," said Reilly, "I perfectly understand you. It is not necessary. And now let me say—"
"Always trust in God, my friend," replied the priest, in an accent quite different from that which he had used to the peasantry. "I told you, not long ago, that you would have, a bed to-night: follow me, and I will lead you to a crypt of nature's own making, which, was not known to mortal man three months ago, and which is now known only to those whose interest it is to keep the knowledge of it silent as the grave."
They then proceeded, and soon came to a gap or opening on the left-hand side of the road through which they passed, the priest leading. Next they found themselves in a wild gully or ravine that was both deep and narrow. This they crossed, and arrived at a ledge of precipitous rocks, most of which were overhung to the very ground with long luxuriant heather. The priest went along this until he came to one particular spot, when he stooped, and observed a particular round stone bedded naturally in the earth.
"God-blessed be his name—has made nothing in vain," he whispered; "I must go foremost, but do as I do." He then raised up the long heath, and entered a low, narrow fissure in the rocks, Reilly following him closely. The entrance was indeed so narrow that it was capable of admitting but one man at a time, and even that by his working himself in upon his knees and elbows. In this manner they advanced in utter darkness for about thirty yards, when they reached a second opening, about three feet high, which bore some resemblance to a Gothic arch. This also it was necessary to enter consecutively. Having passed this they were able to proceed upon their legs, still stooping, however, until, as they got onwards, they found themselves able to walk erect. A third and larger opening, however, was still before them, over which hung a large thick winnow-cloth.
"Now," said the priest, "leave every thing to me. If we were to put our heads in rashly here we might get a pair of bullets through them that would have as little mercy on us as those of the troopers, had we got them. No clergyman here, or anywhere else, ever carries firearms, but there are laymen inside who are not bound by our regulations. The only arms we are allowed to carry are the truths of our religion and the integrity of our lives."
He then advanced a step or two, and shook the winnow-cloth three times, when a deep voice from behind it asked, "Quis venit?"
"Introibo ad altare Dei," replied the priest, who had no sooner uttered the words than the cloth was partially removed, and a voice exclaimed, "Benedicite, dilecte frater; beatus qui venit in nomine Domini el sacrosanctae Ecclesiae."
Reilly and his companion then entered the cave, which they had no sooner done than the former was seized with a degree of wonder, astonishment, and awe, such as he had never experienced in his life before. The whole cavern was one flashing scene of light and beauty, and reminded him of the gorgeous descriptions that were to be found in Arabian literature, or the brilliancy of the fairy palaces as he had heard of them in the mellow legends of his own country. From the roof depended gorgeous and immense stalactites, some of them reaching half way to the earth, and others of them resting upon the earth itself. Several torches, composed of dried bog fir, threw their strong light among them with such effect that the eye became not only dazzled but fatigued and overcome by the radiance of a scene so unusual. In fact, the whole scene appeared to be out of, or beyond, nature. There were about fifteen individuals present, most of them in odd and peculiar disguises, which gave them a grotesque and supernatural appearance, as they passed about with their strong torches—some bright and some flashing red; and as the light of either one or other fell upon the stalactites, giving them a hue of singular brilliancy or deep purple, Reilly could not utter a word. The costumes of the individuals about him were so strange and varied that he knew not what to think. Some were in the dress of clergymen, others in that of ill-clad peasants, and nearly one-third-of them in the garb of mendicants, who, from their careworn faces, appeared to have suffered severely from the persecution of the times. In a few minutes, however, about half a dozen diminutive beings made their appearance, busied, as far as he could guess, in employments, which his amazement at the whole spectacle, unprepared as he was for it, prevented him from understanding. If he had been a man of weak or superstitious mind, unacquainted with life and the world, it is impossible to say what he might have imagined. Independently of this—strong-minded as he was—the impression made upon him by the elf-like sprites that ran about so busily, almost induced him, for a few moments, to surrender to the illusion that he stood among individuals who had little or no natural connection with man or the external world which he inhabited. Reflection, however, and the state of the country, came to his aid, and he reasonably inferred that the cavern in which he stood was a place of concealment for those unfortunate individuals who, like himself, felt it necessary to evade the vengeance of the laws.
Whilst Reilly was absorbed in the novelty and excitement of this strange and all but supernatural spectacle, the priest held a short conversation, at some distance from him, with the strange figures which had surprised him so much. Whenever he felt himself enabled to take his eyes from the splendor and magnificence of all he saw around him, to follow the motions of Father Maguire, he could observe that that gentleman, from the peculiar vehemence of his attitudes and the evident rapidity of his language, had made either himself or his presence there the topic of very earnest discussion. In fact it appeared to him that the priest, from whatever cause, appeared to be rather hard set to defend him and to justify his presence among them. A tall, stern-looking man, with a lofty forehead and pale ascetic features—from which all the genial impulses of humanity, that had once characterized them, seemed almost to have been banished by the spirit of relentless persecution—appeared to bear hard upon him, whatever the charge might be, and by the severity of his manner and the solemn but unyielding emphasis of his attitudes, he seemed to have wrought himself into a state of deep indignation. But as it is better that our readers should be made acquainted with the topic of their discussion, rather than their attitudes, we think it necessary to commence it in a new chapter.
CHAPTER X.—Scenes that took place in the Mountain Cave
"I will not hear your apology, brother," said the tall man with the stern voice; "your conduct, knowing our position, and the state of this unhappy and persecuted country, is not only indiscreet, but foolish, indefensible, mad. Here is a young man attached—may God pardon him—to the daughter of one of the most persecuting heretics in the kingdom. She is beautiful, by every report that we have heard of her, even as an angel; but reflect that she is an heiress—the inheritress of immense property—and that, as a matter of course, the temptations are a thousand to one against him. He will yield, I tell you, to the heretic syren; and as a passport to her father's favor and her affection, he will, like too many of his class, abandon the faith of his ancestors, and become an apostate, for the sake of wealth and sensual affection."
"I question, my lord," replied the priest, "whether it is consistent with Christian charity to impute motives of such heinous guilt, when we are not in a condition to bear out our suspicions. The character of this young gentleman as a Catholic is firm and faithful, and I will stake my life upon his truth and attachment to our Church."
"You know him not, father," replied the bishop, for such he was; "I tell you, and I speak from better information than you possess, that he is already suspected. What has been his conduct? He has associated himself more with Protestants than with those of his own Church; he has dined with them, partaken of their hospitality, joined in there amusements, slept in their houses, and been with them as a familiar friend and boon companion. I see, father, what the result will necessarily be; first, an apostate—next, an informer—and, lastly, a persecutor; and all for the sake of wealth and the seductive charms of a rich heiress. I say, then, that deep in this cold cavern shall be his grave, rather than have an opportunity of betraying the shepherds of Christ's persecuted flock, and of hunting them into the caverns of the earth like beasts of prey. Our retreat here is known only to those who, for the sake of truth and their own lives, will never disclose the knowledge of it, bound as they are, in addition to this, by an oath of the deepest and most dreadful solemnity—an oath the violation of which would constitute a fearful sacrilege in the eye of God. As for these orphans, whose parents were victims to the cruel laws that are grinding us, I have so trained and indoctrinated them into a knowledge of their creed, and a sense of their duty, that they are thoroughly trustworthy. On this very day I administered to them the sacrament of confirmation. No, brother, we cannot sacrifice the interests and welfare of our holy Church to the safety of a single life—to the safety of a person who I foresee will be certain to betray us."
"My lord," replied the priest, "I humbly admit your authority and superior sanctity, for in what does your precious life fall short of martyrdom but by one step to the elevation which leads to glory? I mean the surrendering of that life for the true faith. I feel, my lord, that in your presence I am nothing; still, in our holy Church there is the humble as well as the exalted, and your lordship will admit that the gradations of piety, and the dispensations of the higher and the lower gifts, proceed not only from the wisdom of God but from the necessities of man."
"I do not properly understand you, father," said the bishop in a voice whose stern tones were mingled with something like contempt.
"I beg your lordship to hear me," proceeded Father Maguire. "You say that Reilly has associated more frequently with Protestants than he has with persons of our own religion. That may be true, and I grant that it is so; but, my lord, are you aware that he has exercised the influence which he has possessed over them for the protection and advantage and safety of his Catholic friends and neighbors, to the very utmost of his ability, and frequently with success?"
"Yes; they obliged him because they calculated upon his accession to their creed and principles."
"My lord," replied the priest with firmness, "I am an humble but independent man; if humanity and generosity, exercised as I have seen them this night, guided and directed by the spirit of peace, and of the word of God itself, can afford your lordship a guarantee of the high and Christian principles by which this young man's heart is actuated, then I may with confidence recommend him to your clemency."
"What would you say?" asked the bishop.
"My lord, he was the principal means of saving the lives of six Protestants-heretics, I mean—from being cut off in their iniquities and sins this night."
"How do you mean?" replied the stern bishop; "explain yourself!"
The good priest then gave a succinct account of the circumstances with which the reader is already acquainted; and, after having finished his brief narrative, the unfortunate man perceived that, instead of having rendered Reilly a service, he had strengthened the suspicions of the prelate against him.
"So!" said the bishop, "you advance the history of this dastardly conduct as an argument in his favor!"
As he uttered these words, his eyes, which had actually become bloodshot, blazed again; his breath went and came strongly, and he ground his teeth with rage.
Father Maguire, and those who were present, looked at each other with eyes in which might be read an expression of deep sorrow and compassion. At length a mild-looking, pale-faced man, with a clear, benignant eye, approached him, and laying his hand in a gentle manner upon his arm, said, "Pray, my dear lord, let me entreat your lordship to remember the precepts of our great Master: 'Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.' And surely, my lord, no one knows better than you do that this is the spirit of our religion, and that whenever it is violated the fault is not that of the creed, but the man."
"Under any circumstances," said the bishop, declining to reply to this, and placing his open hand across his forehead, as if he felt confusion or pain—"under any circumstances, this person must take the oath of secrecy with respect to the existence of this cave. Call him up."
Reilly, as we have said, saw at once that an angry discussion had taken place, and felt all but certain that he was himself involved in it. The priest, in obedience to the wish expressed by the bishop, went down to where he stood, and whispering to him, said:
"Salvation to me, but I had a hard battle for you. I fought, however, like a trump. The strange, and—ahem—kind of man you are called upon to meet now is one of our bishops—but don't you pretend to know that—he has heard of your love for the Cooleen Bawn, and of her love for you—be easy now—not a thing it will be but the meeting of two thunderbolts between you—and he's afraid you'll be deluded by her charms—turn apostate on our hands—and that the first thing you're likely to do, when you get out of this subterranean palace of ours, will be to betray its existence to the heretics. I have now put you on your guard, so keep a sharp lookout; be mild as mother's milk. But if you 'my lord' him, I'm dished as a traitor beyond redemption."
Now, if the simple-hearted priest had been tempted by the enemy himself to place these two men in a position where a battle-royal between them was most likely to ensue, he could not have taken a more successful course for that object. Reilly, the firm, the high-minded, the honorable, and, though last not least, the most indignant at any imputation against his integrity, now accompanied the priest in a state of indignation that was nearly a match for that of the bishop.
"This is Mr. Reilly, gentlemen; a firm and an honest Catholic, who, like ourselves, is suffering for his religion."
"Mr. Reilly," said the bishop, "it is good to suffer for our religion."
"It is our duty," replied Reilly, "when we are called upon to do so; but for my part, I must confess, I have no relish whatsoever for the honors of martyrdom. I would rather aid it and assist it than suffer for it."
The bishop gave a stem look at his friends, as much as to say: "You hear! incipient heresy and treachery at the first step."
"He's more mad than the bishop," thought Father Maguire; "in God's name what will come next, I wonder? Reilly's blood, somehow, is up; and there they are looking at each other, like a pair o' game cocks, with their necks stretched out in a cockpit—when I was a boy I used to go to see them—ready to dash upon one another."
"Are you not now suffering for your religion?" asked the prelate.
"No," replied Reilly, "it is not for the sake of my religion that I have suffered any thing. Religion is made only a pretext for it; but it is not, in truth, on that account that I have been persecuted."
"Pray, then, sir, may I inquire the cause of your persecution?"
"You may," replied Reilly, "but I shall decline to answer you. It comes not within your jurisdiction, but is a matter altogether personal to myself, and with which you can have no concern."
Here a groan from the priest, which he could not suppress, was shivered off, by a tremendous effort, into a series of broken coughs, got up in order to conceal his alarm at the fatal progress which Reilly, he thought, was unconsciously making to his own ruin.
"Troth," thought he, "the soldiers were nothing at all to what this will be. There his friends would have found the body and given him a decent burial; but here neither friend nor fellow will know where to look for him. I was almost the first man that took the oath to keep the existence of this place secret from all unless those that were suffering for their religion; and now, by denying that, he has me in the trap along with himself."
A second groan, shaken out of its continuity into another comical shower of fragmental coughs, closed this dreary but silent soliloquy.
The bishop proceeded: "You have been inveigled, young man, by the charms of a deceitful and heretical syren, for the purpose of alienating you from the creed of your forefathers."
"It is false," replied Reilly; "false, if it proceeded from the lips of the Pope himself; and if his lips uttered to me what you now have done, I would fling the falsehood in his teeth, as I do now in yours—yes, if my life should pay the forfeit of it. What have you to do with my private concerns?"
Reilly's indignant and impetuous reply to the prelate struck all who heard it with dismay, and also with horror, when they bethought themselves of the consequences.
"You are a heretic at heart," said the other, knitting his brows; "from your own language you stand confessed—a heretic."
"I know not," replied Reilly, "by what right or authority you adopt this ungentlemanly and illiberal conduct towards me; but so long as your language applies only to myself and my religion, I shall answer you in a different spirit. In the first place, then, you are grievously mistaken in supposing me to be a heretic. I am true and faithful to nay creed, and will live and die in it."
Father Maguire felt relieved, and breathed more freely; a groan was coming, but it ended in a "hem."
"Before we proceed any farther, sir," said this strange man, "you must take an oath."
"For what purpose, sir?" inquired Reilly.
"An oath of secrecy as to the existence of this place of our retreat. There are at present here some of the—" he checked himself, as if afraid to proceed farther. "In fact, every man who is admitted amongst us must take the oath."
Reilly looked at him with indignation. "Surely," thought he to himself, "this man must be mad; his looks are wild, and the fire of insanity is in his eyes; if not, he is nothing less than an incarnation of ecclesiastical bigotry and folly. The man must be mad, or worse." At length he addressed him.
"You doubt my integrity and my honor, then," he replied haughtily.
"We doubt every man until he is bound by his oath."
"You must continue to doubt me, then," replied Reilly; "for, most assuredly, I will not take it."
"You must take it, sir," said the other, "or you never leave the cavern which covers you," and his eyes once more blazed as he uttered the words.
"Gentlemen," said Reiliy, "there appear to be fifteen or sixteen of you present: may I be permitted to ask why you suffer this unhappy man to be at large?"
"Will you take the oath, sir?" persisted the insane bishop in a voice of thunder—"heretic and devil, will you take the oath?"
"Unquestionably not. I will never take any oath that would imply want of honor in myself. Cease, then, to trouble me with it. I shall not take it."
This last reply affected the bishop's reason so deeply that he looked about him strangely, and exclaimed, "We are lost and betrayed. But here are angels—I see them, and will join in their blessed society," and as he spoke, he rushed towards the stalactites in a manner somewhat wild and violent, so much so, indeed, that from an apprehension of his receiving injury in some of the dark interstices among them, they found it necessary, for his sake, to grapple with him for a few moments.
But, alas! they had very little indeed to grapple with. The man was but a shadow, and they found him in their hands as feeble as a child. He made no resistance, but suffered himself to be managed precisely as they wished. Two of the persons present took charge of him, one sitting on each side of him. Reilly, who looked on with amazement, now strongly blended with pity—for the malady of the unhappy ecclesiastic could no longer be mistaken—Reilly, we say, was addressed by an intelligent-looking individual, with some portion of the clerical costume about him.
"Alas! sir," said he, "it was not too much learning, but too much persecution, that has made him mad. That and the ascetic habits of his life have clouded or destroyed a great intellect and a good heart. He has eaten only one sparing meal a day during the last month; and though severe and self-denying to himself, he was, until the last week or so, like a father, and an indulgent one, to us all."
At this moment the pale, mild-looking clergyman, to whom we have alluded, went over to where the bishop sat, and throwing himself upon his bosom, burst into tears. The sorrow indeed became infectious, and in a few minutes there were not many dry eyes around him. Father Maguire, who was ignorant of the progressive change that had taken place in him since his last visit to the cave, now wept like a child, and Reilly himself experienced something that amounted to remorse, when he reflected on the irreverent tone of voice in which he had replied to him.
The paroxysm, however, appeared to have passed away; he was quite feeble, but not properly collected, though calm and quiet. After a little time he requested to be put to bed. And this leads us to the description of another portion of the cave to which we have not yet referred. At the upper end of the stalactite apartment, which we have already described, there was a large projection of rock, which nearly divided it from the other, and which discharged the office of a wall, or partition, between the two apartments. Here there was a good fire kept, but only during the hours of night, inasmuch as the smoke which issued from a rent or cleft in the top of this apartment would have discovered them by day. Through this slight chasm, which was strictly concealed, they received provisions, water, and fuel. In fact, it would seem as if the whole cave had been expressly designed for the purpose to which it was then applied, or, at least for some one of a similar nature.
On entering this, Reilly found a good fire, on which was placed a large pot with a mess in it, which emitted a very savory odor. Around the sides, or walls of this rock, were at least a score of heather shake-down beds, the fragrance of which was delicious. Pots, pans, and other simple culinary articles were there, with a tolerable stock of provisions, not omitting a good-sized keg of mountain dew, which their secluded position, the dampness of the place, and their absence from free air, rendered very necessary and gratifying.
"Here!" exclaimed Father Maguire, after the feeble prelate had been assisted to this recess, "here, now, put his lordship to bed; I have tossed it up for him in great style! I assure you, my dear friends, it's a shakedown fit for a prince!—and better than most of the thieves deserve. What bed of down ever had the sweet fragrance this flowery heather sends forth? Here, my lord—easy, now—lay him down gently, just as a mother would her sleeping child—for, indeed, he is a child," he whispered, "and as weak as a child; but a sound sleep will do him good, and he'll be a new man in the morning, please God."
Upon this rough, but wholesome and aromatic couch, the exhausted prelate was placed, where he had not been many minutes until he fell into a profound sleep, a fact which gratified them very much, for they assured Reilly and the priest that he had slept but a few hours each night during the last week, and that such slumber as he did get was feverish and unquiet.
Our good-humored friend, however, was now cordially welcomed by these unfortunate ecclesiastics, for such, in fact, the majority of them were. His presence seemed to them like a ray of light from the sun. His good humor, his excellent spirits, which nothing could repress, and his drollery kept them alive, and nothing was so much regretted by them as his temporary absences from time to time; for, in truth, he was their messenger, their steward, and their newsman—in fact, the only link that connected them with external life, and the ongoings of the world abroad. The bed in which the bishop now slept was in a distant corner of this inner apartment, or dormitory, as it might be termed, because the situation was higher and drier, and consequently more healthy, as a sleeping-place, than any other which the rude apartment afforded. The fire on which the large pot simmered was at least a distance of twenty-five yards from his bed, so that they could indulge in conversation without much risk of disturbing him.
It is unnecessary to say that Reilly and his friend Father Maguire felt, by this time, a tolerably strong relish for something in the shape of sustenance—a relish which was exceedingly sharpened by the savory smell sent forth throughout the apartment by the contents of whatsoever was contained in the immense pot.
"My dear brethren," said the priest, "let us consider this cavern as a rich monastery; such, alas! as existed in the good days of old, when the larder and refectory were a credit to religion and a relief to the destitute, but which, alas!—and alas! again—we can only think of as a—in the meantime, I can stand this no longer. If I possess judgment or penetration in re culinaria, I am of opinion," he added (stirring up the contents of it), "that it is fit to be operated on; so, in God's name, let us have at it."
In a few minutes two or three immense pewter dishes were heaped with a stew made up of mutton, bacon, hung beef, onions, and potatoes, forming indeed a most delicious mess for any man, much less the miserable men who were making it disappear so rapidly.
Reilly, the very picture of health, after maintaining a pace inferior to that of none, although there were decidedly some handy workmen there, now was forced to pull up and halt. In the meantime some slow but steady operations went on with a perseverance that was highly creditable; and it was now that, having a little agreeable leisure to observe and look about him, he began to examine the extraordinary costumes of the incongruous society in which, to his astonishment, he found himself a party. We must, however, first account for the oddness and incongruity of the apparent characters which they were forced to assume.
At this period the Catholics of Ireland were indeed frightfully oppressed. A proclamation had recently been issued by the Government, who dreaded, or pretended to dread, an insurrection—by which document convents and monasteries were suppressed—rewards offered for the detection and apprehension of ecclesiastics, and for the punishment of such humane magistrates as were reluctant to enforce laws so unsparing and oppressive. Increased rewards were also offered to spies and informers, with whom the country unfortunately abounded. A general disarming of all Catholics took place; domiciliary visits were made in quest of bishops, priests, and friars, and all the chapels in the country were shut up. Many of the clergy flew to the metropolis, where they imagined they might be more safe, and a vast number to caverns and mountains, in order to avoid the common danger, and especially from a wholesome, terror of that class of men called priest-hunters. The Catholic peasantry having discovered their clergy in these wild retreats, flocked to them on Sundays and festivals, in order to join in private—not public-worship, and to partake of the rites and sacraments of their Church.
Such was the state of the country at the period when the unfortunate men whom we are about to describe were pent up in this newly discovered cavern.
Now, Reilly himself was perfectly acquainted with all this, and knew very well that these unhappy men, having been frequently compelled to put on the first disguise that came to hand, had not means, nor indeed disposition, to change these disguises, unless at the risk of being recognized, taken into custody, and surrendered to the mercy of the law.
When their savory meal was concluded, Father Maguire, who never forgot any duty connected with his position—be that where it might—now went over to the large pot, exclaiming:
"It would be too bad, my friends, to forget the creatures here that have been so faithful and so steady to us. Poor things, I could see, by the way they fixed their longing eyes upon us while we were doing the handy-work at the stew, that if the matter had been left to themselves, not a spoonful ever went into our mouths but they'd have practised the doctrine of tithe upon. Come, darlings—here, now, is a little race for you—every one of you seize a spoon, keep a hospitable mouth and a supple wrist. These creatures, Mr. Reilly, are so many little brands plucked out of the burning. They are the children of parents who suffered for their faith, and were brought here to avoid being put into these new traps for young Catholics, called Charter Schools, into which the Government wishes to hook in our rising generation, under pretence of supporting and educating them; but, in point of fact, to alienate them from the affection of their parents and relations, and to train them up in the State religion, poor things. At all events, they are very handy to us here, for they slip out by turns and bring us almost every thing we want—and not one of them ever opened his lips as to the existence of this spelunca."
The meal of the poor things was abundant, but they soon gave over, and in a few minutes they tumbled themselves into their heather beds, and were soon sunk in their innocent slumbers.
"Now, gentlemen, that we have eaten a better meal than we could expect in this miserable place, thanks to the kindness of our faithful flocks, what do you think of a sup of what's in the keg? Good eating deserves a drop of mixture after it, to aid in carrying on the process of digestion! Father Hennessy, what are you at?" he exclaimed, addressing an exceedingly ill-looking man, with heavy brows and a sinister aspect. "You forget, sir, that the management of the keg is my duty, whenever I am here. You are the only person here who violates our regulations in that respect. Walk back and wait till you are helped like another. Do you call that being spiritually inclined? If so, there is not a doubt of it but you ought to be a bishop; and if you come to that, I'll stake my credit on it that you'll never let much wind into your stomach so long as you can get plenty of the solids and fluids to keep it out."
"I'm weak in the stomach," replied Hennessy, with a sensual grin, "and require it."
"But I say," replied Father Maguire, "that it would require stronger proof than any your outward man presents to confirm the truth of that. As for bearing a load either of the liquids or solids aforesaid, I'll back your bit of abdomen there against those of any three of us."
Cups and noggins, and an indescribable variety of small vessels that were never designed for drinking, were now called into requisition, and a moderate portion of the keg was distributed among them. Reilly, while enjoying his cup, which as well as the others he did with a good deal of satisfaction, could not help being amused by the comical peculiarity of their disguises.
The sinister-looking clergyman, whom we have named Hennessy, subsequently became a spy and informer, and, we may add, an enemy equally formidable and treacherous to the Catholics of the time, in consequence of having been deprived of his clerical functions by his bishop, who could not overlook his immoral and irregular conduct. He is mentioned by Matthew O'Connor, in his "History of the Irish Catholics," and consigned to infamy as one of the greatest scourges, against both the priesthood and the people, that ever disgraced the country. But it must be admitted that he stands out in dark relief against the great body of the Catholic priests at that period, whose firmness, patience, and fidelity to their trust, places them above all praise and all suspicion. It is, however, very reasonable, that men so hunted and persecuted should be forced, not only in defence of their own lives and liberties, but also for the sake of their flocks, to assume such costumes as might most effectually disguise them, so that they would be able still, even in secret and by stealth, to administer the rites of their religion to the poor and neglected of their own creed. Some were dressed in common frieze, some in servants' cast-off liveries—however they came by them—and not a few in military uniform, that served, as it were, to mark them staunch supporters of the very Government that persecuted them. A reverend archdeacon, somewhat comely and corpulent, had, by some means or other, procured the garb of a recruiting sergeant, which fitted him so admirably that the illusion was complete; and, what bore it out still more forcibly, was the presence of a smart-looking little friar, who kept the sergeant in countenance in the uniform of a drummer. Mass was celebrated every day, hymns were sung, and prayers offered up to the Almighty, that it might please him to check the flood of persecution which had overwhelmed or scattered them. Still, in the intervals of devotion, they indulged in that reasonable cheerfulness and harmless mirth which were necessary to support their spirits, depressed as they must have been by this dreadful and melancholy confinement—a confinement where neither the light of the blessed sun, nor the fresh breezes of heaven, nor the air we breathe, in its usual purity, could reach them. Sir Thomas More and Sir Walter Raleigh, however, were cheerful on the scaffold; and even here, as we have already said, many a rustic tale and legend, peculiar to those times, went pleasantly around; many a theological debate took place, and many a thesis was discussed, in order to enable the unhappy men to pass away the tedious monotony of their imprisonment in this strange lurking-place. The only man who kept aloof and took no part in these amusing recreations was Hennessy, who seemed moody and sullen, but who, nevertheless, was frequently detected in making stolen visits to the barrel.
Notwithstanding all this, however, the sight was a melancholy one; and whatever disposition Reilly felt to smile at what he saw and heard was instantly changed on perceiving their unaffected piety, which was evident by their manner, and a rude altar in a remote end of the cave, which was laid out night and day for the purpose of celebrating the ceremonies and mysteries of their Church. Before he went to his couch of heather, however, he called Father Maguire aside, and thus addressed him:
"I have been a good deal struck to-night, my friend, by all that I have witnessed in this singular retreat. The poor prelate I pity; and I regret I did not understand him sooner. His mind, I fear, is gone."
"Why, I didn't understand him myself," replied the priest; "because this was the first symptom he has shown of any derangement in his intellect, otherwise I would no more have contradicted him than I would have cut my left hand off."
"There is, however, a man—a clergyman here, called Hennessy; who is he, and what has been his life?"
"Why," replied the other, "I have heard nothing to his disadvantage. He is a quiet, and, it is said, a pious man—and I think he is too. He is naturally silent, and seldom takes any part in our conversation. He says, however, that his concealment here bears hard upon him, and is depressing his spirits every day more and more. The only thing I ever could observe in him is what you saw yourself to-night-a slight relish for an acquaintance with the barrel. He sometimes drains a drop—indeed, sometimes too much—out of it, when he gets our backs turned; but then he pleads low spirits three or four times a day—indeed, so often that, upon my word, he'll soon have the barrel pleading the same complaint."
"Well," replied Reilly, after listening attentively to him, "I desire you and your friends to watch that man closely. I know something about him; and I tell you that if ever the laws become more lenient, the moment this man makes his appearance his bishop will deprive him of all spiritual jurisdiction for life. Mark me now, Father Maguire; if he pleads any necessity for leaving this retreat and going abroad again into the world, don't let a single individual of you remain, here one hour after him. Provide for your safety and your shelter elsewhere as well as you can; if not, the worst consequences may—nay, will follow."
The priest promised to communicate this intelligence to his companions, one by one, after which, both he and Reilly, feeling fatigued and exhausted by what they had undergone in the course of the night, threw themselves each upon his couch of heather, and in a few minutes not only they, but all their companions, were sunk in deep sleep.
CHAPTEE XI.—The Squire's Dinner and his Guests.
We now return to Cooleen Bawn, who, after her separation from Reilly, retired to her own room, where she indulged in a paroxysm of deep grief, in consequence of her apprehension that she might never see him again. She also calculated upon the certainty of being obliged to sustain a domestic warfare with her father, as the result of having made him the confidant of her love. In this, however, she was agreeably disappointed; for, on meeting him the next morning, at breakfast, she was a good deal surprised to observe that he made no allusion whatsoever to the circumstance—if, indeed, an occasional muttering of some unintelligible words, sotto voce, might not be supposed to allude to it. The truth was, the old man found the promise he had made to Sir Robert one of such difficulty to his testy and violent disposition, that his language, and the restraint which he felt himself under the necessity of putting on it, rendered his conversation rather ludicrous.
"Well, Helen," he said, on entering the breakfast-parlor, "how did you rest last night, my love? Rested sound—eh? But you look rather pale, darling. (Hang the rascal!)"
"I cannot say that I slept as well as usual, sir. I felt headache."
"Ay, headache—was it? (heartache, rather. The villain.) Well come, let me have a cup of tea and a mouthful of that toast."
"Will you not have some chicken, sir?"
"No, my dear—no; just what I said—a mouthful of toast, and a cup of tea, with plenty of cream in it. Thank you, love. (A good swing for him will be delightful. I'll go to see it.) Helen, my dear, I'm going to give a dinner-party next week. Of course we'll have your future—hem—I mean we'll have Sir Robert, and—let me see—who else? Why, Oxley, the sheriff", Mr. Brown, the parson—I wish he didn't lean so much to the cursed Papists, though—Mr. Hastings, who is tarred with the same stick, it is whispered. Well, who next? Lord Deilmacare, a good-natured jackass—a fellow who would eat a jacketful of carrion, if placed before him, with as much gout as if it were venison. He went home one night, out of this, with the parson's outside coat and shovel hat upon him, and did not return them for two days."
"Does this habit proceed from stupidity, papa?"
"Not at all; but from mere carelessness. The next two days he was out with his laborers, and if a cow or pig chanced—(the villain! we'll hang him to a certainty)—chanced, I say, to stray into the field, he would shy the shovel hat at them, without remorse. Oh! we must have him, by all means. But who next? Sir Jenkins Joram. Give him plenty to drink, and he is satisfied."
"But what are his political principles, papa?"
"They are to be found in the bottle, Helen, which is the only creed, political or religious, to which I ever knew him to be attached; and I tell you, girl, that if every Protestant in Ireland were as deeply devoted to his Church as he is to the bottle, we would soon be a happy people, uncorrupted by treacherous scoundrels, who privately harbor Papists and foster Popery itself. (The infernal scoundrel.)"
"But, papa," replied his daughter, with a melancholy smile, "I think I know some persons, who, although very loud and vehement in their outcry against Popery, have, nevertheless, on more than one or two occasions, harbored Papists in their house, and concealed even priests, when the minions of the law were in search of them."
"Yes, and it is of this cursed crew of hollow Protestants that I now speak—ahem—ay—ha—well, what the devil—hem. To be sure I—I—I—but it doesn't signify; we can't be wise at all times. But after all, Helen (she has me there), after all, I say, there are some good Papists, and some good—ahem—priests, too. There now, I've got it out. However, Helen, those foolish days are gone, and we have nothing for it now but to hunt Popery out of the country. But to proceed as to the dinner."
"I think Popery is suffering enough, sir, and more than enough."
"Ho, ho," he exclaimed with triumph, "here comes the next on my list—a fine fellow, who will touch it up still more vigorously—I mean Captain Smellpriest."
"I have heard of that inhuman man," replied Helen; "I wish you would not ask him, papa. I am told he equals Sir Robert Whitecraft in both cowardice and cruelty. Is not that a nickname he has got in consequence of his activity in pursuit of the unfortunate priests?"
"It's a nickname he has given himself," replied her father; "and he has become so proud of it that he will allow himself to be called by no other. He swears that if a priest gets on the windy side of him, he will scent him as a hound would a fox. Oh! by my honor, Smellpriest must be here. The scoundrel like Whitecraft!—eh-what am I saying? Smellpriest, I say, first began his career as a friend to the Papists; he took large tracts of land in their name, and even purchased a couple of estates with their money; and in due time, according as the tide continued to get strong against them, he thought the best plan to cover his villany—ahem—his policy, I mean—was to come out as a fierce loyalist; and as a mark of his repentance, he claimed the property, as the real purchaser, and arrested those who were fools enough to trust him."
"I think I know another gentleman of my acquaintance who holds property in some similar trust for Papists," observed Helen, "but who certainly is incapable of imitating the villany of that most unprincipled man."
"Come, come, Helen; come, my girl; tut—ahem; come, you are getting into politics now, and that will never do. A girl like you ought to have nothing to do with politics or religion."
"Oh—hem-I don't mean exactly that. Oh, no; I except religion; a girl may be as religious as she pleases, only she must say as little upon the subject as possible. Come, another cup of tea, with a little more sugar, for, I give you my honor, you did not make the last one of the sweetest;" and so saying, he put over his cup with a grimace, which resembled that of a man detected in a bad action, instead of a good one.
At this moment John, the butler, came in with a plate of hot toast; and, as he was a privileged old man, he addressed his master without much hesitation.
"That was a quare business," he observed, using the word quare as an equivocal one, until he should see what views of the circumstance his master might take; "a quare business, sir, that happened to Mr. Reilly."
"What business do you allude to, you old sinner?"
"The burning of his house and place, sir. All he has, or had, is in a heap of ashes."
Helen felt not for the burning, but her eyes were fixed upon the features of the old man, as if the doom of her life depended on his words; whilst the paper on which ee write is not whiter than were her cheeks.
"What—what—how was it?" asked his master; "who did it?—and by whose authority was it done?"
"Sir Robert Whitecraft and his men did it, sir."
"Ay, but I can't conceive he had any authority for such an act."
"Wasn't Mr. Reilly an outlaw, sir? Didn't the Red Rapparee, who is now a good Protestant, swear insurrection against him?"
"The red devil, sirra," replied the old squire, forgetting his animosity to Reilly in the atrocity and oppression of the deed—"the red devil, sirra! would that justify such a cowardly scoundrel as Sir Robert—ugh—ugh—ugh—that went against my breath, Helen. Well, come here, I say, you old sinner; they burned the place, you say?"
"Sir Robert and his men did, sir."
"I'm not doubting that, you old house-leek. I know Sir Robert too well—I know the infernal—ahem; a most excellent loyal gentleman, with two or three fine estates, both here and in England; but he prefers living here, for reasons best known to himself and me, and—and to somebody else. Well, they burned Reilly out—but tell me this; did they catch the rascal himself? eh? here's five pounds for you, if you can say they have him safe."
"That's rather a loose bargain, your honor," replied the man with a smile; "for saying it?—why, what's to prevent me from saying it, if I wished?"
"None of your mumping, you old snapdragon; but tell me the truth, have they secured him hard and fast?"
"No, sir, he escaped them, and as report goes they know nothing about him, except that they haven't got him."
Deep and speechless was the agony in which Helen sat during this short dialogue, her eyes having never once been withdrawn from the butler's countenance; but now that she had heard of her lover's personal safety, a thick, smothered sob, which, if it were to kill her, she could not repress, burst from her bosom. Unwilling that either her father or the servant should witness the ecstasy which she could not conceal, and feeling that another minute would disclose the delight which convulsed her heart and frame, she arose, and, with as much composure as she could assume, went slowly out of the room. On entering her apartment, she signed to her maid to withdraw, after which she closed and bolted the door, and wept bitterly. The poor girl's emotion, in fact, was of a twofold character; she wept with joy at Reilly's escape from the hands of his cruel and relentless enemy, and with bitter grief at the impossibility which she thought there existed that he should ultimately be able to keep out of the meshes which she knew Whitecraft would spread for him. The tears, however, which she shed abundantly, in due time relieved her, and in the course of an hour or two she was able to appear as usual in the family.
The reader may perceive that her father, though of an abrupt and cynical temper, was not a man naturally of a bad or unfeeling heart. Whatever mood of temper chanced to be uppermost influenced him for the time; and indeed it might be said that one half of his feelings were usually in a state of conflict with the other. In matters of business he was the very soul of integrity and honor, but in his views of public affairs he was uncertain and inconsistent; and of course his whole life, as a magistrate and public man, was a perpetual series of contradictions. The consequence of all this was, that he possessed but small influence, as arising from his personal character; but not so from his immense property, as well as from the fact that he was father to the wealthiest and most beautiful heiress in the province, or perhaps, so far as beauty was concerned, in the kingdom itself.
At length the day mentioned for the dinner arrived, and, at the appointed hour, so also did the guests. There were some ladies asked to keep Helen in countenance, but we need scarcely say, that as the list of them was made out by her thoughtless father, he paid, in the selection of some of them, very little attention to her feelings. There was the sheriff, Mr. Oxley, and his lady—the latter a compound in whom it was difficult to determine whether pride, vulgarity, or obesity prevailed. Where the sheriff had made his capture of her was never properly known, as neither of them belonged originally to that neighborhood in which he had, several years ago, purchased large property. It was said he had got her in London; and nothing was more certain than that she issued forth the English language clothed in an inveterate cockney accent. She was a high moralist, and a merciless castigator of all females who manifested, or who were supposed to manifest, even a tendency to walk out of the line of her own peculiar theory on female conduct. Her weight might be about eighteen stone, exclusive of an additional stone of gold chains and bracelets, in which she moved like a walking gibbet, only with the felon in it; and to crown all, she wore on her mountainous bosom a cameo nearly the size of a frying-pan. Sir Jenkins Joram, who took her down to dinner, declared, on feeling the size of the bracelets which encircled her wrists, that he labored for a short time under the impression that he and she were literally handcuffed together; an impression, he added, from which he was soon relieved by the consoling reflection that it was the sheriff himself whom the clergyman had sentenced to stand in that pleasant predicament. Of Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Hastings we have only to say that they were modest, sensible, unassuming women, without either parade or pretence, such, in fact, as you will generally meet among our well-bred and educated countrywomen. Lord Deilmacare was a widower, without family, and not a marrying man. Indeed, when pressed upon this subject, he was never known to deviate from the one reply.
"Why don't you marry again, my lord?—will you ever marry?"
"No, madam, I got enough of it," a reply which, somehow, generally checked any further inquiry on the subject. Between Lady Joram and Mrs. Smellpriest there subsisted a singular analogy with respect to their conjugal attachments. It was hinted that her ladyship, in those secret but delicious moments of matrimonial felicity which make up the sugar-candy morsels of domestic life, used to sit with Sir Jenkins for the purpose, by judicious exercise, of easing, by convivial exercise, a rheumatic affection which she complained of in her right arm. There is nothing, however, so delightful as a general and loving sympathy between husband and wife; and here it was said to exist in perfection. Mrs. Smellpriest, on the other hand, was said to have been equally attached to the political principles of the noble captain, and to wonder why any clergyman should be suffered to live in the country but those of her own Church; such delightful men, for instance, as their curate, the Rev. Samson Strong, who was nothing more nor less than a divine bonfire in the eyes of the Christian! world. Such was his zeal against Papists, she said, as well as against Popery at large, that she never looked on him without thinking that there was a priest to be burned. Indeed Captain Smellpriest, she added, was under great obligations to him, for no sooner had his reverence heard of a priest taking earth in the neighborhood, than he lost no time in communicating the fact to her husband; after which he would kindly sit with and comfort her whilst fretting lest any mischief might befall her dear captain.