Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

store for him! He was entering, as it' were, upon a proof of Iris high opinion of Fanny's personal charms. new life, and he anticipated no future interruption. Fanny had now been at the Glen five or six weeks, With Fanny he could not be otherwise than happy. and had hardly stirred from her husband's bedside ;

When his wounds were healed, and the doctor had he was now, however, getting quite stout, and he insistgiven assiirance of a specdy recovery, a long absent ed upon her accompanying Mary Codey' to the pattern friend made his appearance at the Glen. It was the of Kilmanan, which, of course, always occurs upon a' landlord, Mr. Healy. He had spent the last seven years holiday in the parish. He felt very lonely during her at Oxford, in London, and on the continent; and though absence, for she had by this time become necessary to a mere stripling when he quitted the country, he had his happiness; and he rejoiced when she returned. now returned in all the fulness of manhood. His fos- There was even more than usual fondness in her cater-brother recognized him at once; but he perceived resses; but he thought her cheek was flushed, and her with regret that time, and college, and travel, had eyes had that appearance which follows recent'weepwrought a sad change in his disposition. His language ing; he did not question her, however, but an incipient was no longer the same; it was composed of flash jealousy was awakened when he learnt next day that phrases, quite unintelligible to Matty; and, though by she had gone from the pattern to see Healy Hall. His no means fastidious, the oaths of the young squire sur- heart misgave him; he became restless and unhappy; prised him. His manner, too, was altered, and, as a fever ensued, and his recovery was considerably proMatty thought, for the worse; it had not that former tracted. When he was able to leave his bed, the familiar kindness in it which rendered him so dear to world had no charms for him; he looked upon every his foster-brother; it was haughty, distant, and calcu- | thing around his dwelling with a misanthropic eye, lated to impress upon his old playfellow a conscious- and viewed Fanny with a fixed stare of indecision; he ness of inferiority. All this, however, might be right; knew not whether he should love or hate. One so inMr. Healy was under the necessity, perhaps, of sup-nocently looking, so tender, and so pretty, ought to be porting the dignity of his station'; and when he took his guiltless; but then her visit to Healy Hall, her condeparture from the Glen, the nurse, Rossiter, and Fanny cealing it from him, and her appearance and manner were loud in the praises of the squire ; his visit was on her return, gave testimony against her. Still he considered an honour; and, as the condescension of had only his suspicions; and, apprehensive of the greatness is sure to please, Matty offered no opposition “ world's dread laugh," and fearful of lowering Fanny to their laudations, but he felt that they were in part in her own estimation-in the estimation of her undeserved.

friends—he did not communicate to any living being In a few days a visitor of a very different description the thoughts that madly tortured him. Could he ascercame to the Glen, in all the flaunting finery of a rustic tain the fact which he most dreaded, he imagined belle. When Mary Codey entered, all were filled with he should be happy; dishonour itself, he fancied, surprise; but her manner was so kind, her regrets for would be preferable to the horrors of suspense. the past appeared so sincere, and her wishes to be con- He who suspects the fidelity of his wife, must be a sidered on her footing of former friendship expressed coward ; if he whispers his suspicions to a living with so much earnestness, that she found herself quickly being, and these prove unfounded, he stands through restored to the good opinion of her neighbours. Matty life a conspicuous thing for the finger of scorn to point was glad to see her under such circumstances; it re- at; he puts his domestic happiness in jeopardy; and lieved him from many unpleasant apprehensions, and he runs the risk of forfeiting the affection of her he would convince the censorious that he had not wronged wrongs.

And then his children !- This is what her. To Fanny, Mary was particularly attentive ; and makes the jealous man additionally miserable; he is on a disposition so confiding and unsuspecting, her prof. compelled to seem to be what he is not; he becomes a fers of friendship and regard made a forcible impres- hypocrite, and affects a friendship for those he loathes sion. She was now constant in her visits; and the and detests. The world is to him a place of torture ; young squire came almost every day; he praised Fan- and, if wanting in moral courage, he naturally seeks, in ny's beauty much more than Matty desired; but when an unhallowed death, an escape from mental torturehe snatched a kiss from her, one day before his depar- the worst, the most poignant of sufferings. ture, the anger of the husband had almost overcome Matty found himself in this situation; the squire was the habitual deference of the foster-brother. Still it almost daily in his visits; his attentions to Fanny were was only in accordance with' his wild manner, and marked and unseemly, but still the husband spoke rot;

now?

he indirectly mentioned the circumstance to his mother, During all this time Fanny exhibited towards her but she ridiculed his suspicion, and he had not the

husband the most tender affection; but in her presence courage again to allude to it. In the mean time the he preserved an obstinate silence; several times she alteration in his looks and manner did not escape the attempted to address him, but he either commanded observation of his neighbours; and, while he thought her to desist, or abrubtly left her. When she presented that his wife was virtuous in others, if not in his

the baby for a kiss, he frowned, and turned away; own, he was maddened to find that he was looked upon aud when she wept, he never offered consolation. by all as one consuming with unavowed jealousy-as a The general discontent now burst forth in open reman deeply injured by one who ought to have been the bellion; but Matty was at first indifferent to the events last to injure him in so tender a part. Still he affected which were passing around him. During the first week ignorance; and when Fanny presented to him her first of the insurrection, Fanny was one day missed at born, his heart was softened: he caressed the babe dinner; nurse Rossiter had the child, but no mother with a father's fondness, but, on suddenly turning round, appeared. The family was in great alarm, and all ke caught Mary Codey laughing at him, behind his were on the point of going out in search of her, when back. He looked again at the infant, and thought he Mary Codey entered. There was a smile of exultation recognized in its unsettled features the exact picture of on her face, and turning towards Matty, she said, his foster-brother; he dropt it upon the bed, hurried jeeringly, “Rossiter, where is your Barnyforth wife out of the house, and, in a state of distraction, wandered into the fields; but he could not escape from

“ Where!” exclaimed the unhappy man, starting up the suspicions that haunted him. He threw himself

on his feet. upon the ground, started up, and again sunk to the “ In the squire's arms, Matty! in the squire's arm !" earth. Night fell around and he thought not of home. she replied ; “ Ha, is Mary Codey revenged, Matty?' Exhausted by his own phrenzy, he lay motionless upon

But he wanted not to gratify her revenge; he the earth; and was not conscious of any one being snatched his pistol, and ran to Healy Hall; here present, when he was forcibly lifted from the ground, a however, he could find no traces of his wife; but he bandage placed on his eyes, and his hair, with con- learnt enough to convince him, that his long cherished siderable adroitness, was cut close to his head. He suspicions were but too well founded. A food of offered hardly any resistance; but when left alone, a bitter tears relieved his heart, and, while the paroxysm new direction was given to his thoughts. He had been was on him, Billy Mulloy, in the dress of an insuriinportuned to enter into the society of United Irish- | gent officer, paid him a visit. Treason could not men, and as they knew each other by the shortness of approach him at a moment better calculated to secure their hair, he imagined it was a party of the conspira- admission into his breast; he hurried to Wexford, and, tors who had thus admitted him, without his consent, as the man who had dishonoured him was a Protestant, a member of the body. Next day, when the squire he was easily persuaded to look upon all the professors visited the Glen, he playfully removed Matty's hat, and

of that creed as enemies. His natural humanity gave then laughingly exelaimed, “ A Cropry!" and Croppy way to momentary rage: he exceeded the most sankenceforth was the title by which Rossiter was known guinary in the dreadful excesses of the day, and, from throughout the country, a sobriquet which was sub- the savage ferocity he exhibited, a band of ruffians sequently extended to the insurgents of 1798.

chose him for their leader. While busy with the work This new insult aroused Matty to a sudden ebullition of destruction on Wexford Bridge, a voice from the of feeling; he spoke sharply to his landlord; and, for crowd, exclaimed, “ Matty Rossiter, where is your ouce, indulged in the idea of seeking revenge, by wife?removing the object of his suspicions. His whole soul “ Where?” he demanded, turning round, and Mary was absorbed in this feeling: at first it was delightful: Codey stood before him. it served to give now energy to his mind; but reflection “ At Healy Hall,” she replied. warned him of the sin and danger that attended such “ You tould me so afore an lied," said he. an act; and when he was on the point of perpetrating "No," said she; I sed Fanny was in the squire's the dreadful deed, the pistol dropt from his hand : arms, but did not stay at Healy Hall. She is there kolier and kinder thoughts occured, and he escaped now, however, Matty." the erime of having stained his hands in the blood of “ The Captain is an injured man," cried the mob, in foster-brother,

and as he made a movement to depart, a host of people volunteered to accompany him. As they shrieks of Fanny and the fearful buzz of the enraged passed up John-street, Mary’s voice was heard from populace. the church-yard, exclaiming, “ Matty Rossiter, am I In a few minutes the work of destruction was acrevenged ?"

complished; the Croppy was borne away by his fol. At Healy Hall they were refused admittance; but lowers, and the unhappy Fanny was carried senseless resistance only increased their resolution to enter. to the house of a neighbour. It now appeared that The place was regularly besieged; and while the in- she was sinless and stainless. Mary Codey had wormed surgents were busy breaking in the front door, Matty herself into her confidence, in the hope of accomgained admission by a back window, every part of the plishing her ruin, and had agreed to betray her into mansion being long familiar to him. Hurrying up

the

power of Healy, although that thoughtless young stairs with the fury of an, enraged tiger, he met Mr. man had been her own paramour. On the day of the Healey descending. They grappled, and both rolled pattern, an unsuccessful attempt was made on Fanny's down together into the passage.

.

honour; and the abduction which followed, might “ Hold, Matty, hold! don't you know me-your have been prevented, had Matty listened to or sought own foster-brother?” said the squire piteously. an explanation. The squire, availing himself of the

“ Know you ? Yes!" replied the enraged Matty; opportunities afforded him by his privilege of visiting “ I have a right to know you.” And he struck him his nurse, persecuted her with his detestable passion, with his pistol on the temple.-" This hour is mine," until, seeing that her virtue was impregnable, he came he continued, “ and now for revenge."

to the resolution of possessing himself of her person by But just as he was about to pull the trigger of the force. Events prevented the full accomplishment of levelled pistol, Fanny, her dress torn, and her hair his design, and though she loathed the wretch, she did streaming about her face, rushed between her hus- not wish her husband to become a murderer. She was band and his victim. “No murder!" she exclaimed; faint with grief, watching, and apprehension, and the Matty, dear Matty, no murder! Your poor Fanny blow given her by Matty. The scene which she witis safe."

nessed at Healy Hall, eventually deprived her of • Strumpet!” he cried, and he madly struck her to

She wandered through the country for some the ground, as he strode past her to reach the squire. time, neglected; and, when found by her afflicted At this moment the door gave way, amidst the cheers father, she was reduced to a skeleton: all traces of of the assailants; and Mr. Healy, yielding to a sudden her former loveliness had vanished, and an early grave dread, cried out, “ Matty, save me!" An insurgent hid her from the world. hand was upon him; but such is the strangeness of The unfortunate Cropry performed many acts of man’s nature, the individual who was about to slay, madness during the rebellion ; and on its cessation, he now proved a protector. “He is my victim,” said betook himself to the fastnesses of the country, and Matty, firmly. “ The bridge of Wexford!” shouted joined the “ babes in the wood.” Wcary with a life the people. “ No-here, here!" cried Tommy Codey, abhorrent to his feelings, he wandered home; but the who now suddenly appeared among them; “ the heirs of Healy had levelled his once happy dwelling. wretch," said he, “ has ruined half the women in the He sat upon the ruins, and if his reflections had less country.—My sister,” he continued, turning to the sublimity than those of Marius amidst the fallen cocrowd, “ was good and virtuous, till he poisoned her lumns of Carthage, they were more heart-rending; mind, and brought shame upon the name of Codey." they were of a domestic nature, and he had nothing to The cry of immediate vengeance then grew louder, for expect from posterity. His injured wife was already the nice sense of female honour maintained amongst dead, and his mother was not expected to survive bier the Irish peasantry, fills them with detestation against many months. On the following day he surrendered the violators of it. The “ Croppy,” as Matty was now himself to a magistrate ; and, as his conduct on the called, resolved to defend his foster-brother—at least bridge of Wexford was notorious, he received from à from instant destruction; but the mal-contents were court-martial, sentence of death. On his way to the not to be disappointed of their prey; they pressed felon's gallows, a voice from the crowd exclaimed, forward, and soon overpowered all opposition. The Matty, I am revenged!” He turned round—Mary groans of the unhappy man, as the multitude were Codey met his eye. He raised his eye to heaven, and trampling life out of him, mingled dismally with the

passed firmly on.

reason.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

AN IRISH TALE.

for ever.

sons, and then return ere morning light could glance O'Hara of Desmond,

upon his cautious steps. His eldest boy was sixteen years of age; the second two years younger: and

Ellen's nurse, had with her charge, removed to her own Five years had O'Hara dwelt with his daughter Ellen family as a safer home. in a sequestered vale, on the borders of Kilkenny. He One night as O'Hara approached the cottage of was a member of the noble house of Desmond; but his family, suddenly beheld it in flames; he sprang under his assumed name, it was his anxious hope to forward, and heard his wife call upon him; he beheld see his Ellen happy in the affections of some worthy both his sons engaged with ruffians, who assailed their heart, and then to close his eyes

mother. In vain were his struggles to assist these He was a man of sorrows, and rarely seen to smile; dearest objects of his affection; he was himself in the for, when the heart is sick, the countenance can ill

grasp of his enemies who, after torturing him to mad. express the glow of pleasure. Ellen, his darling child,

ness, plunged their daggers into his body. was the only link that bound him to earth's duties, and From the period when Desmond's castle had been still kept humanized his sinking spirit; yet, he was cousumed, his friends and followers had bound thembrave and generous; but misery had long since claimed

selves to vengeance for his supposed death, and all him as her own, and he submitted to her galling chain.

the wrongs those of his name had suffered. The chief, He had fought the battles of King Charles the First; who had concealed O'Hara, was a vassal of Tyrone's, but anarchy, resistless, stalked abroad when the usurper, though eager to rebel, and while the cottage blazed, Cromwell, came, until cruelty, satiated, turned in dis- and wretches, more like fiends than men, howled wildly gust from her own horrors. Between the houses of round the flame, a long-scattered host of Desmonds Tyrone and Desmond an ancient feud had long sub

rushed upon them, swords-in-hand. The vassal chief sisted, and which, with all his power, O'Hara oft, in with ardour joined them in surrounding their devoted vain, had striven to adjust.

victims, whose blood now flowed in torrents in expiaOne summer eve, while all around seemed calm and

tion of their bloody deeds, though shed by foes as still, a party of Tyrone's picked followers, intent on

fierce. surprising the Desmond's, were themselves betrayed.

After this sanguinary conflict had ended in the masThey fled in haste ere Desmond's party could arrive,

sacre of every follower of Tyrone assembled to destroy and all escaped save three, who were directly shot by them, the Desmond party sought their wounded friends their exasperated opponents amidst the shouts of cruel

amongst the slain, and O'Hara with four others were exultation: but the Tyrone's, that very night, pro- conveyed from the field of slaughter still with life. ceeded even to Desmond's castle which they destroyed, He soon recovered of his bodily wounds, but it was and slew each inmate they could find within its walls. some years ere he was restored to reason. Time and

O'Hara, his wife, two sons, and Ellen, (then an the society of Ellen at length enabled him to assume a infant) escaped with some few of their domestics by a placidity, which was, however, occasionally lost in subterraneous passage, and retired to a cottage at some bitter anguish of mind, but which, on Ellen's account, distance from his own estate as a family of peasants- he invariably strove his utmost to check. In her he the Tyrone's having, with a strong and cruel hand, beheld his sum of earthly happiness ; yet had he, spread universal devastation wherever one of Des- though he knew it not, another living child—his eldest mond's party could be found.

When they fired the castle, O'Hara was the chief This boy, when first his shrieking mother was atobject of their search. Foiled in their intent they had tacked, aimed at her assailant a well-directed blow, obtained some knowledge of the spot to which he had which laid the ruffian prostrate on the earth ere his retired; but O'Hara, knowing the vengeful yearnings nearest comrade sheathed his dagger in the side of the of his foe, had disguised himself as the herdsman of a gallant youth, who still fought retreating, until in the friendly chief, too powerless, indeed, to aid his cause garden of the cot he fell, his body covered with unagainst Tyrone, who much he feared, but listed him sightly gashes.

. yet more.

A furlong distant from this scene of blood, in a low O'Hara, when the midnight bell had struck, would miserable cabin, lived an old widow, distinguished by to the cottage hie, which now contained the treasures the neighbouring peasantry as “ evil-eyed Norry.” of his soul-press to his aching breast his wife and Her husband had been of the most fierce and unre

son.

lenting of the fosterers* of Tyrone. He was slain in She administered to his necessities. She was skilled a skirmish with the Desmonds, when Norah, before in the healing properties of roots and herbs—a skill their enemy by inheritance, now vowed to live but to that had earned for her the credit of dealing in charms obtain revenge. She taught her infant son to lisp their and spells, and soon proved their efficacy upon her name with curses; and, as he grew, her greatest care young patient, who, though he knew not his hostess, was, to strengthen every prejudice she had instilled was to her well known. into his mind. Her constant theme was of his father's As soon as O'Hara was capable of an idea, his first death; and when she had urged him to strive, by act was to call around him his kinsmen; and his wrongs treachery or force, on all occasions to trample on a occupying his sole thoughts-after addressing them Desmond's neck, she would forewarn him, as he prized upon the cruelties practised upon him and his, until her blessing or might diead her curse, most deeply to both himself and friends were wrought up to a degree revenge it.

of madness—he knelt down and took a solemn oath to This one feeling seemed to have engrossed her every avenge his blood upon the House of Tyrone whenever thought; she spoke little but to her son alone; and to and wherever an opportunity offered him the means ; her neighbours she was the cause of perpetual dread. calling upon all his kinsfolk who loved their race to do When she scowled upon them they trembled from fear the like. of her powers of mischief: all domestic calamities for They all readily complied; and O'Hara setting them miles around were laid to her charge; and wherever the example, each with the point of his dirk let bloud “ evil-eyed Norry" appeared, hilarity herself became from his arm into the same goblet, by which, as the rude in her presence. She was in the constant practice commingled streams of consanguinity and union, they of changing one miserable retreat for another; and pledged themselves to adhere to the compact they had most fortunate was it deemed for the whole parish made. when old Norah had turned her back upon it.

O'Hara, as his passions became more subdued, reOf the three individuals who had fallen of Tyrone's | gretted what he had done: his heart was seared for party, previously to the burning of Desmond's castle,

ever ; but he was too good a man to think that the her son was one—an event that severed the only tie punishment of the innocent could atone for the crimes that bound her to humanity; yet she wept not his

of the guilty; and taking Ellen (then in her thirteenth fate—for Norah could not weep; and she who before year) with means suficient for his purpose, he quitted lived but for vengeance on one noble race, now seemed

his friends, kindred, and the scene of his sorrows for as though her fiend-like soul, at war with all mankind, his present retreat, where his chief occupations were was filled with deadly hate of friend and foe.

in instructing his daughter, and attending to his little She it was who had betrayed O'Hara to Tyrone;

farm. Though reserved, he was to all around him yet would she now almost as readily have betrayed kind and condescending; and through his peasant's her former friends; for Tyrone had cursed her as she

garb the rustics of his neighbourhood saw that which crossed his path when galled by his defeat, and Norah they felt to be above themselves, and with their esteem never could forgive a real or imagined injury. She

the most respectful deference was siewn towards him. felt herself despised by all, and all she hated.

Thus had O'Hara and his daughter passed nearly It was Norah who discovered the son of O'Hara

five years, when having strayed farther than usual .weltering in his own blood. She saw he breathed ; and

from his home, he on his return at even, suddenly as she gazed upon his death-like features, she thought heard within a thicket near him appalling execrations, he resembled the son she had lost—lost by the hands

and at the same instant the sound of blows, with a of O'Hara's followers! She had raised her foot, and

faint exclamation of “ I am murdered!” O'Hara was about to place it on his throat ; he sighed heavily;

darted forward, and beheld two ruffians bending over she grinned upon his sufferings and paused; then mut

a young man, who lay upon the earth apparently lifetering—“ If I can save him I will—Tyrone has cursed

less. O'Hara was a man of well-knit frame, wło, me, and Father Doyle hates as I do."

springing on the nearest of the robbers, wrenched at ouce the dagger from his grasp, with which he attacked

them both so resolutely that they fled with the booty * When a child is nursed in Ireland, the whole family of the nurse herself claim it as a soster-brother (or sister); and

they had plundered from their victim, whom O'Hara in their characteristic squabbles, the fosterers of any person

bore upon his shoulders to his own cottage, where by of repute are always the foremost to espouse bis quarrels. the attentions paid him by its inmates he was sova

« AnteriorContinua »