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THE WICKED WOODS OF And as if reassured by this declaration

his face brightened, and he set off to ascend TOBEREEVIL

the mountain sturdily. BY THE AUTHOR OF "HESTER'S HISTORY."

Paul Finiston had come a long way

across the world, attracted by his uncle's CHAPTER XIV. PAUL IS A COWARD. advertisement. It had found him settled When the pedlar fled from Tobereevil he down in a distant country, with employstruck off across an outskirt of the woods, ment in his hands, and a good prospect and got up among the hills. When he had for life before him. An old friend of his walked for half an hour, and while the sun father had met with him, taken him into was still red in the sky, he reached a purple his business, promised him a partnership. terrace of the mountain on which lay a Paul bad thankfully accepted the good lonely lake. Here he flung himself down luck thrust in his way, had applied himself to draw breath, and to gaze backward upon to work, and had striven to forget home the lower world. He leaned over the edge in the excitement of making a fortune. of the lake to drink from his hand, and It was a dream of his to forget that he started as his own face met his eyes look- was a Finiston of Tobereevil, to acquire ing at him from the placid water. the means of livelihood by labour of his

What nonsense this is !” he said, and own, and this done to go home in search immediately began pulling off his shock of of something he had left behind, and could black hair, his large bushy beard, and his not manage to do all his life without. How heavy dark eyebrows. He dipped his face diligently he had worked, and with what and head in the water, and rubbed both fair hopes, and how meanwhile he had been severely with a large pocket-handkerchief. teased and haunted, it is better to let him After which divestment and ablution the tell with his own lips by-and-bye. That pedlar had disappeared, and a gentleman he was a wayward, fanciful, and passionate had taken his place.

nature, certain rough notes in a little This gentleman bad light brown hair and pocket-book could tell. It might also be moustache, with very dark eyes and skin. gathered from these jottings that there was His nose was large, his forehead broad, a sort of woman-like twist about his heart and with already some nervous lines upon and brains in spite of his masculine energy it; his mouth sensitive, but firm. It was a and bearing ; something which made him face that was sure to be called handsome, illogical, tender, and uncertain in his moods. because noble and pleasing ; yet if this were With a little more generosity, Nature had manly beauty, it was that of the boldest made him a poet; with a little less, a more and least regular type.

contented man. For a few minutes he looked pale and The advertisement had found him purlanguid, like one who had undergone great suing his way steadily. It had shaken fatigue or mental trouble; but by-and-bye his purpose with a great shock, and had he started up, muttering:

brought him face to face with the longings "I am Paul Finiston, and I had a right which had been tempting him to give up

his to come here. And I go away without projected exile of years. Here was a good harming any one."

reason for going home at once. His uncle,



who was so rich, and whose heir he must whom he might meet. But the long, foul be, desired his return without a moment's shadow of Tabereevil in the evening sun delay. Even Paul's matter - of - fact em- had been too much for Paul Finiston. The ployer had looked upon his obedience as a old superstition, the old unaccountable thing of course. ** There is no doubt at terror that had made him feel himself all," he had said, regretfully, “that a bird murderer when he confronted the miser in the hand is worth a good many in the even in fancy, had fallen upon him with bush. A fortune in prospect and in exile tenfold force, now that he had looked on is pretty good, but a fortune at home and him in the flesh. May and his good genius ready made is better.” So Paul had come were forgotten. The spirit of evil had taken home; not dragged by a love of gain, but hold of him again. Let him fly from this by a hungry heart.

blight, this temptation, this curse! Let By the time he had landed in Ireland, bim return to his honest work beyond the however, the idea of presenting himself sea ! to the miser of Tobereevil had grown so So having spent a little his passion in repulsive to his mind, that he had almost the wood and on the hills, and rested a stepped from one ship to another, and fled while by the margin of the lake, he set of back whence he came. And only that that to cross the mountains on his way back to hunger of the heart was unappeased within Australia. him, his employer must have received him Soon the heat of his eagerness to be gone back ere he had ceased to be missed. had abated, and he paused as he went, to

It was in the midst of a confusion of look behind and beneath him. The glow attraction and repulsion which seized on of the evening was still ruddy on the land. him when he thought of the land of his A golden film had blurred the line of meetinheritance, that he gave way to that ing between sky and sea. Higher, long freak of jealous, inquisitive humour, which bars of weightier gold had shot from he brought a pedlar over the mountains to hind the hills, and laid themselves level the gate of Monasterlea. He would see along the west, as if barring the gate these women, and he would know if they through which the sun had passed. The remembered him. May might be married'; hills on the horizon had wrapped them. he would hear all about it. May might be selves in violet, and seemed to nestle close cold, unamiable, and forgetful. "He would against the warmth of the sky. The midsee it at a glance. And if either of these landscape rose towards the light in every speculations proved the right one, then he tint of yellow-green, and flame-colour

, and would go back unknown to the other side tawny brown, and fell under the shadows of the world. In that case he would not saddened with every hue of grey, and olive, trust himself to the tortures of Tobereevil. and brown-purple. Here and there a lake The miser might have his gold all buried in or a fragment of a streamlet glanced upwani

. his coffin if he pleased. He might will his like a flame out of the depths of a hollop. estate to be kept as a vast burial-ground Here and there a farm-house or a cabin for his remains, and the mansion of Tobe- stood wrapped in a luminous haze of its reevil a monument over his bones. He, own smoke. And the woods curled out Paul Finiston, would at least be rid of and wreathed themselves over all the fore

, haunting terrors and worrying supersti- ground; one half amber and ruddy

, fused tions for the remainder of his life. But if in the burning glamour of the hour; the May should be found a maiden, still kind, other buried under the sombre purple of still mindful, with still in her heart all that their own dense shade. anxiety for his welfare which had been The beauty of the country smote him, painted in her face on that morning when like a blow from a friend. All this she had stretched out her hands to him might be his. All this barren, wasted lore from the quay, why then Paul would be a liness might be nurtured into teeming man, and brave the curse of Tobereevil.

strength. He might do it, with bis strong Well, he had gone happy from Monas- will and arm, helped by the meaner but terlea. He had seen May tender, true, and mightier power that lay rotting and rusting worthy to be loved. He would shelter him- among guineas and self under her womanhood and defy the miser's safe. How strange it was that curse. His fears had become phantoms. Heaven's work should be defaced by the His hopes had taken a lovely form of flesh wickedness of one lean dotard! How strange and blood. He walked towards Tobereevil that Paul Finiston, who panted to give a royal pedlar, ready to bestow gifts on all renewed life to a crowd of bis fellow

title-deeds in the

yer need !”


you to pa

creatures, should have to fly from the fear know ?” said Paul. “I'm a stranger here, of hurting an old man !

and I found this poor fellow lying hurt on He went more slowly now, onward and the heath. He calls out for Nan." upward, higher and higher into the upper

“ Nan and Bid !” cried Con, joyfully, mountains. The plovers cried, and whirred and with a friendly gaze at the old woman. close to him as they descended to their nests " Oh, ay! thrust him for a fool but he among the heather. A few faint echoes came knows his own frinds," said the new-comer. floating up from the valleys; too few and too “ I'm Bid, an' I know the way to Nan's : faint to bring a throb of human life into an' if it'd be a thing, young gintleman, that the lonely stillness. Yet there, and quite ye would carry him that far-why it's the suddenly, Paul came face to face with a Lord Himsel' that'll give ye a lift for it in fellow-creature.

It was Con the fool, and he was sitting Paul laughed, and forgot that he was on the heath, one leg gathered up in an the miser's heir, and strode on contentedly attitude of pain, the other extended at full with the fool on his back, and the old wolength; the foot quivering and swollen. man for his guide. They struck out on a He grasped the heather with both hands path which leaned slantwise through a pass as he leaned on them. He made no com- between two peaks of a cloven hill. And plaint, but the tears rolled heavily from following along this they heard a soft his round black eyes, and there was a tragic girlish voice saying, somewhere near : look upon his broad white face.

“Come back, now, Patsie! Don't go “Hallo !" cried Paul, “ what's the down there or ould Simon'll catch ye !" matter, my good fellow ?”

“Nan !" cried the fool in a tone of de“ Con's foot killed," answered the idiot. light. "Con walk no more.

Con die too on the And then they turned the corner of a mountains."

rock and came upon a rustic scene. Die ?” said Paul, “nothing of the kind. Come, now, where am I to carry


It was a scene like one of Mulready's By this time he had seated the idiot on pictures. Against the tall red sandstone his back.

cliff a cabin had been propped. It hung “Nan!" cried the idiot.

clinging to and slipping from this wall at Where am I to find Nan ?” asked Paul, its back, with its slanting thatch wreathed in a puzzle. He made two steps forward, with moss and brilliant weeds, its gables but seemingly in the wrong direction ; for awry, its windows one up and one down, the fool began to cry again.

its chimney crowned with an old upturned "This way, then," said Paul, and took basket, its smoke hovering upward, its door another course. The idiot laughed, and low and dark, but gilt round with the sunclapped him on the back.

glare like the gate of a royal palace. A How long he might have strayed over slim young girl sat leaning against the the hills, seeking the way to Con's friends wall, weaving a basket, with a pile of rods by means of such signs, we need not guess. at her feet. She had a fair, ruddy look of Chance sent a guide to his aid.

innocence and health, short, saucy features, Coming up the hill he saw a figure, and large blue eyes. Her loose auburn wending slowly, and with the help of a locks hung in a heap of bronzed flakes upon stick, up the slippery braes. It was a little her neck. The sun had browned her woman dressed in a long grey cloak which cheeks, her hands, and her naked feet, had seen many winters, a scarlet handker- which were prettily crossed before her, chief on her head, her face brown as a where she sat. But her temples, and her nut, and her hair lying like a white silk throat, and her little ears were white. Two fringe along her wrinkled brow.

mahogany-coloured urchins with curly black God save yer honor !" cried she, hair were playing with the rods that lay cheerily. “Who'd think to meet a gintle- beside her. Another, younger, swarthier, man on the mountains-let alone wid a and sturdier, had wandered to a distance, poor omadhaun on his back !"

and looked back over his shoulder with Are you Nan ?” asked Paul.

audacity in his arch black eyes. All these “ Nan? Ochone! is it Nan Kearney ye wild creatures were clothed in dark red mane ? Then it's fifty long years since I flannel, the girl with a white kerchief across was the cut o’ Nan Kearney !"

the bosom. In the doorway a woman was “I never saw Nan, and how am I to spinning wool. All round about them spread



the red and purple mountains with their goin' to let ye make little o' yersel' to rich tawny patches, where the grass and sthrangers that might believe ye! Whiles tender herbage had broken out through the ye pay us visits an' it rises our hearts to heath. Below lay the sea, and in the dis- see ye, an’ whiles ye stay away, an' we're tance the white gleam of a village on the lonesome till ye come roun'. That's the coast. And over all, and through all, way it is wid her, yer honor, she lives among glowed that after-glare of the sunset, upon the people; but there's nobody in the whole red cliffs, ripe cheeks, cabin, heath, and counthry that would dar' call Bid a beggar

but hersel'!" The repose

of this scene was disturbed “God love ye, Mary Kearney!" said by the new-comers. The girl sprang to Bid, drying her eyes and throwing up her her feet, spilling her rods; the children head, "an' now I'll have my say. Ye hear shrieked and clapped their hands in de that woman, yer honor,” she said, addresslight at seeing Con perched on another ing herself to Paul. “ An'ye'd think man's back; the spinning woman ran out maybe she was that well to live that she from under the shadow of the doorway. had nothing to do but hand away her creelThere they were laughing, gesticulating, fuls o' potatoes, an' her magfáls o' male making themselves more picturesque at to every hungry mouth that comes lookin' every turn, till they found that Con was a bit through the hills. An' ye don't know hurt. Then there was a sudden hush, then that her good man is dead, an' her hunted little cries, and grieved faces, and the out o' the nate little houseen that he built scene wore an air of vivid tragedy; till wid his own hands. Ye don't know what they found that he was not much injured a waste bitteen o' land this was whin she after all. Then the laughter broke out got it, an' how her an' her soft gossoons again. The fool was placed reclining on hammered it wid their spades till they dug a couch of dried heather, clapped on the the little fields up out o' the rock. An' shoulder, cheered, pitied, and purred over. maybe ye don't know, but she has ten Nan fetched a pitcher of water, and bathed childher till her share, an' nine o' them and bandaged the hurt foot.

younger nor Nan; all like steps o' stairs. “ Is he her brother ?” asked Paul of the An' her spinnin', an' diggin', an' plantin', spinning woman, whom Bid had introduced an' sewin', an' the agint holdin' a whip as Mrs. Kearney, the house-mother of this over her head all the time! Ye didn't homestead.

know her afore, yer honor, but maybe ye'll “ Her brother, is it? No, no, he's no know her now. Look at her there! Mary son o' mine. But sure if he isn't what's Kearney; that always has a corner for the differ? He comes an' he goes. We'd thim that's worse off nor hersel'!" be lonesome an' quare without the fool. Bid gesticulated with her hand, as if As for Nan, he's just like one o' the babbies she were denouncing Mary Kearney. She till her. An' he'd kiss the groun' she stopped, out of breath; and the two women walks!”

looked away from each other, and cried in “ See that now!” said Bid, striking in, a sort of passion over each other's troubles ; “how fools does flourish! Gets purty girls till Nan's clear voice came ringing between to bathe their feet, an' gintlemen to carry them, like the sound of a pleasant bell them on their shouldhers."

across the storm. And kind-hearted women to lead them “ Ye're all thankin' an' praisin' other," back to their friends when they are astray,” said she, blithely, “but here's a poor boy said Paul, smiling.

that wants to be praisin' somebody too. Con "Och, och! sure I'm only a poor beg- wants to thank the gintleman that carried gar!” said Bid, tossing her head sadly. him whin his foot wouldn't walk. May the Beggar !" said the house-mother, in- Lord love yer honor an' lift ye

clane over dignantly, as if an insult had been flung at yer throubles, if ye have any ?" her own head. “Thin, Bid, have sinse! She had risen up from her position on Who calls her a beggar, I'd be glad to her knees beside Con, and stood, comely know, yer honor ? If ye seen the purty and tender, looking from Con to Paul, and house she had till Simon put his clutches from Paul to Con. Paul left the other on it an' threwn her out upon the road! An' women to calm themselves, and came if ye seen the fine man she had for a son, forward to offer his further goodwill to the afore he died of the cold he caught in the fool. snow that black night. Don't cry, Bid ! He's just like to love


for it his whole Keep up yer heart, alanna! Sure I'm not | life long!” said Nan. But as Paul drew

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nearer to her Con's face changed. He “A bad name !” groaned the housethrew one arm round Nan's little sun- mother. burnt feet, and waved Paul backward with " Whist wid yer nonsense !” cried the the other.

beggar woman ;

sure the heart o' a man " Don't mind him, yer honor,” said Nan, isn't in his name ! He's a young man, yer | smiling indulgently, and patting the fool's honor, an' they say he's good, an' some day

rough head with her hand. “ There's he'll be comin' here wid the mercy o' God whiles he's quare, an' ye'd think it's in his two han's for the poor.” jealous he'd be," she said, blushing instan- “ How do you know that?” asked Paul. taneously all over her pretty ripe face, “an' “We're prayin' for it,” said Bid, pathethen he don't like anybody to spake to me tically, “an' we've prayed for it long. It but hissel. An' sure it's wicked to teaze won't give me back what I have lost when the likes o' him; an' maybe dangersome as it comes, but whiniver I look at one o' well."

Mary's gossoons sittin' there I think he'll Here Mrs. Kearney stepped forward, live to see the good times !" without her tears, and invited the young Why don't he come home at once ?” gentleman to join the frugal supper of her cried the house-mother, passionately. “Why family. Bid and she had carried out a couldn't he come wid even a promise that'd table from the cabin, on which they had keep us alive? What is it that makes placed a huge dish of fine new potatoes, quality so hard, I wondher? There's nobody some coarse earthen platters, and some comes here but only to tant us, an' crass us. salt. “Well would it plase us to offer The last that come here he was a rale fine betther to a gintleman an'a sthranger!" gintleman, an' he was shootin' for his pleasaid Mrs. Kearney. Paul declared that sure over the mountains. An' I lighted his nothing could be better. And then they —that thing that the quality smokes inall sat down together in the soft purple stead o’a pipe- I lighted it for him, an' he twilight; the heir of Tobereevil

, the beggar, sat down there fornent me, an' he tould me the fool, the house-mother, the pretty the Irish was a lazy people, an'axed me maiden, and a troop of hungry children. why didn't I work. An'he faulted the ould

By this time Paul was quite at home basket up on the chimley ; sure it was the with the party. He humoured Con by best that Nan could do for it! and he taking no notice of Nan, and giving all his faulted the stuffin' I had put in a windaattention to the elder women. He had hole to keep out the cruel blast. I could many questions to ask, not mere idle ques- ha' tould him that I loved a bit o' glass tions, but in search of information which as well as he did, an' that I had wanst a he felt to concern himself. He had a purty houseen wid windas as bright as friendly fellow - feeling for these simple diamonds. But I sickened ower it somemountaineers. They and he were suffer ways an' I hadn't a word to say. I couldn't ing under the weight of a common curse. give him an answer. I just turned on my

** I'm a stranger, you know," said Paul, heel an’ went in an’ shut my door.” with a blush at his own cunning, “and I " Ay, ay!" said Bid, soothingly, "we want to hear something about this Simon know the cut o' him. But this gintleman's whom you talk about. Tell me about none o' that sort." him."

"I ax his pardon," said Mary Kearney, The house-mother and Bid looked at humbly, “ for maybe he'd think I evened it one another, as if to say, "Where can we till him. But we know he's none o' that begin ?

sort." ** 'Deed, sir,” said Bid, “it's but fool's “ And what if this Paul Finiston should work to talk o' him. He's the scourge o' turn out to be one o' that sort ?” asked the counthry that has the curse o’him for a Paul. lan'lord. And if it wasn't that the people The woman turned a startled glance has some hopes o'thim that'll come afther upon him, and then cast a look of anguish him, it'd be well they were all dead an' in on her children. their graves."

" Why, thin, if he do, sir," she said, This was the very point that Paul wished sighing, thin the best frind that we had'd to arrive at. He wanted to hear from their be somebody that'd take us out, wan by own lips what they expected from the wan, an' shoot us down wid a gun!” miser's heir.

- Heaven forbid !" said Paul, hastily, " Who is to come after him ?” he said. then added, “I suppose he keeps away in 6. He's wan Paul Finiston,” began Bid. disgust at the whole thing."

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