E-text prepared by Martin Robb
ORANGE AND GREEN:
A Tale of the Boyne and Limerick
G. A. Henty.
Preface. Chapter 1: A Shipwreck. Chapter 2: For James Or William. Chapter 3: The King In Ireland. Chapter 4: The Siege Of Derry. Chapter 5: The Relief Of Derry. Chapter 6: Dundalk. Chapter 7: The Coming Battle. Chapter 8: Boyne Water. Chapter 9: Pleasant Quarters. Chapter 10: A Cavalry Raid. Chapter 11: The First Siege Of Limerick. Chapter 12: Winter Quarters. Chapter 13: A Dangerous Mission. Chapter 14: Athlone. Chapter 15: A Fortunate Recognition. Chapter 16: Peace.
The subject of Ireland is one which has, for some years, been a very prominent one, and is likely, I fear, for some time yet to occupy a large share of public attention. The discontent, manifested in the troubles of recent years, has had its root in an old sense of grievance, for which there was, unhappily, only too abundant reason. The great proportion of the soil of Ireland was taken from the original owners, and handed over to Cromwell's followers, and for years the land that still remained in the hands of Irishmen was subject to the covetousness of a party of greedy intriguers, who had sufficient influence to sway the proceedings of government. The result was the rising of Ireland, nominally in defence of the rights of King James, but really as an effort of despair on the part of those who deemed their religion, their property, and even their lives threatened, by the absolute ascendency of the Protestant party in the government of the country. I have taken my information from a variety of sources; but, as I wished you to see the matter from the Irish point of view, I have drawn most largely from the history of those events by Mr. O'Driscol, published sixty years ago. There is, however, but little difference of opinion between Irish and English authors, as to the general course of the war, or as to the atrocious conduct of William's army of foreign mercenaries towards the people of Ireland.
G. A. Henty.
Chapter 1: A Shipwreck.
A few miles to the south of Bray Head, on the crest of a hill falling sharply down to the sea, stood Castle Davenant, a conspicuous landmark to mariners skirting the coast on their way from Cork or Waterford to Dublin Bay. Castle Davenant it was called, although it had long since ceased to be defensible; but when it was built by Sir Godfrey Davenant, who came over with Strongbow, it was a place of strength. Strongbow's followers did well for themselves. They had reckoned on hard fighting, but the Irish were too much divided among themselves to oppose any serious resistance to the invaders. Strongbow had married the daughter of Dermid, Prince of Leinster, and at the death of that prince succeeded him, and the greater portion of Leinster was soon divided among the knights and men-at-arms who had followed his standard. Godfrey Davenant, who was a favourite of the earl, had no reason to be dissatisfied with his share, which consisted of a domain including many square miles of fertile land, stretching back from the seacoast.
Here for many generations his descendants lived, for the most part taking an active share in the wars and disturbances which, with scarcely an interval of rest, agitated the country.
The castle had continued to deserve its name until forty years before the time this story commences, when Cromwell's gunners had battered a breach in it, and left it a heap of smoking ruins. Walter Davenant had died, fighting to the last, in his own hall. At that time, the greater part of his estate was bestowed upon officers and soldiers in Cromwell's army, among whom no less than four million acres of Irish land were divided.
Had it not been that Walter Davenant's widow was an Englishwoman, and a relation of General Ireton, the whole of the estate would have gone; but his influence was sufficient to secure for her the possession of the ruins of her home, and a few hundred acres surrounding it. Fortunately, the dowry which Mrs. Davenant had brought her husband was untouched, and a new house was reared within the ruins of the castle, the new work being dovetailed with the old.
The family now consisted of Mrs. Davenant, a lady sixty-eight years old; her son Fergus, who was, when Cromwell devastated the land, a child of five years; his wife Katherine, daughter of Lawrence McCarthy, a large landowner near Cork; and their two sons, Walter, a lad of sixteen, and Godfrey, twelve years old.
Two miles west of the castle stood a square-built stone house, surrounded by solidly-constructed barns and outbuildings. This was the abode of old Zephaniah Whitefoot, the man upon whom had been bestowed the broad lands of Walter Davenant. Zephaniah had fought stoutly, as lieutenant in one of Cromwell's regiments of horse, and had always considered himself an ill-treated man, because, although he had obtained all the most fertile portion of the Davenant estate, the old family were permitted to retain the castle, and a few hundred acres by the sea.
He was one of those who contended that the Amalekites should be utterly destroyed by the sword, and he considered that the retention of the corner of their domains, by the Davenants, was a direct flying in the face of the providence who had given them into the hands of the faithful. Not that, had he obtained possession of the ruined castle, Zephaniah Whitefoot would have repaired it or set up his abode there. The followers of Cromwell had no eyes for the beautiful. They were too much in earnest to care aught for the amenities of life, and despised, as almost sinful, anything approximating to beauty, either in dress, person, or surroundings. The houses that they reared, in this land of which they had taken possession, were bare to the point of ugliness, and their interior was as cold and hard as was the exterior. Everything was for use, nothing for ornament. Scarce a flower was to be seen in their gardens, and laughter was a sign of levity, to be sternly repressed.
Their isolation, in the midst of a hostile population, caused them no concern whatever. They cared for no society or companionship, save that of their own households, which they ruled with a rod of iron; and an occasional gathering, for religious purposes, with the other settlers of their own faith. They regarded the Irish as Papists, doomed to everlasting perdition, and indeed consigned to that fate all outside their own narrow sect. Such a people could no more mix with the surrounding population than oil with water. As a rule, they tilled as much ground in the immediate vicinity of their houses as they and their families could manage, and the rest of the land which had fallen into their possession they let, either for a money payment, or, more often, for a portion of the crops raised upon it, to such natives as were willing to hold it on these terms.
The next generation had fallen away somewhat from their fathers' standards. It is not in human nature to stand such a strain as their families had been subjected to. There is an innate yearning for joy and happiness, and even the sternest discipline cannot keep man forever in the gloomy bonds of fanaticism. In most cases, the immediate descendants of Cromwell's soldiers would gladly have made some sort of compromise, would have surrendered much of their outlying land to obtain secure and peaceful possession of the rest, and would have emerged from the life of gloomy seclusion, in which they found themselves; but no whisper of any such feeling as this would be heard in the household of Zephaniah Whitefoot, so long as he lived.
He was an old man now, but as hard, as gloomy, and as unlovable as he had been when in his prime. His wife had died very many years before, of no disease that Zephaniah or the doctor he called in could discover, but, in fact, of utter weariness at the dull life of repression and gloom which crushed her down. Of a naturally meek and docile disposition, she had submitted without murmuring to her husband's commands, and had, during her whole married life, never shocked him so much as she did the day before her death, when, for the first time, she exhibited the possession of an opinion of her own, by saying earnestly:
"You may say what you like, Zephaniah, but I do think we were meant to have some happiness and pleasure on earth. If we were intended to go through life without laughing, why should we be able to laugh? Oh, how I should like to hear one hearty, natural laugh again before I die, such as I used to hear when I was a girl!"
Jabez Whitefoot inherited his mother's docility of disposition, and, even when he grew to middle age, never dreamt of disputing his father's absolute rule, and remained strictly neutral when his wife, the daughter of an old comrade of his father, settled a few miles away, fought stoutly at times against his tyranny.
"You are less than a man, Jabez," she would say to him, indignantly, "to put up, at your age, with being lectured as if you were a child. Parental obedience is all very well, and I hope I was always obedient to my father; but when it comes to a body not being permitted to have a soul of his own, it is going too far. If you had told me that, when I became your wife, I was to become the inmate of a dungeon for the rest of my existence, I wouldn't have had you, not if you had been master of all the broad lands of Leinster."
But, though unable to rouse her husband into making an effort for some sort of freedom, Hannah Whitefoot had battled more successfully in behalf of her son, John.
"You have had the management of your son, sir, and I will manage mine," she said. "I will see that he does not grow up a reprobate or a Papist, but at least he shall grow up a man, and his life shall not be as hateful as mine is, if I can help it."
Many battles had already been fought on this point, but in the end Hannah Whitefoot triumphed. Although her husband never, himself, opposed his father's authority, he refused absolutely to use his own to compel his wife to submission.
"You know, sir," he said, "you had your own way with my mother and me, and I say nothing for or against it. Hannah has other ideas. No one can say that she is not a good woman, or that she fails in her duty to me. All people do not see life from the same point of view. She is just as conscientious, in her way, as you are in yours. She reads her Bible and draws her own conclusions from it, just as you do; and as she is the mother of the child, and as I know she will do her best for it, I shall not interfere with her way of doing it."
And so Hannah won at last, and although, according to modern ideas, the boy's training would have been considered strict in the extreme, it differed very widely from that which his father had had before him. Sounds of laughter, such as never had been heard within the walls of the house, since Zephaniah laid stone upon stone, sometimes issued from the room where Hannah and the child were together alone, and Zephaniah was out with Jabez about the farm; and Hannah herself benefited, as much as did the child, by her rebellion against the authorities. Jabez, too, was conscious that home was brighter and pleasanter than it had been, and when Zephaniah burst into a torrent of indignation, when he discovered that the child had absolutely heard some fairy stories from its mother, Jabez said quietly:
"Father, I wish no dispute. I have been an obedient son to you, and will continue so to my life's end; but if you are not satisfied with the doings of my wife, I will depart with her. There are plenty who will be glad to let me a piece of land; and if I only work there as hard as I work here, I shall assuredly be able to support her and my boy. So let this be the last word between us."
This threat put an end to the struggle. Zephaniah had, like most of his class, a keen eye to the main chance, and could ill spare the services of Jabez and his thrifty and hard-working wife; and henceforth, except by pointed references, in the lengthy morning and evening prayers, to the backsliding in his household, he held his peace.
Between the Castle and Zephaniah Whitefoot there had never been any intercourse. The dowager Mrs. Davenant hated the Cromwellite occupier of her estate, not only as a usurper, but as the representative of the man who had slain her husband. She never alluded to his existence, and had always contrived, in her rides and walks, to avoid any point from which she could obtain so much as a distant view of the square, ugly house which formed a blot on the fair landscape. She still spoke of the estate as if it extended to its original boundaries, and ignored absolutely the very existence of Zephaniah Whitefoot, and all that belonged to him. But when her son and Jabez grew to man's estate, at about the same period, they necessarily at times crossed each other's paths; and as in them the prejudices and enmities of their elders were somewhat softened, they would, when they met on the road, exchange a passing nod or a brief "Good morning."
Another generation still, and the boys of the two houses met as friends. Thanks to his mother's successful rebellion, John Whitefoot grew up a hearty, healthy boy, with a bright eye, a merry laugh, and a frank, open bearing.
"One would think," his grandfather remarked angrily one day, as the boy went out, whistling gaily, to fetch in a young colt Jabez was about to break, "that John was the son of a malignant, or one of the men of Charles Stuart, rather than of a God-fearing tiller of the soil."
"So long as he fears God, and walks in the right way, he is none the worse for that, father," Jabez said stoutly; "and even you would hardly say that his mother has failed in her teachings in that respect. I do not know that, so long as one has the words of Scripture in his heart, he is any the better for having them always on his lips; in other respects, I regret not that the boy should have a spirit and a fire which I know I lack myself. Who can say what may yet take place here! The Stuarts are again upon the throne, and, with James's leaning towards Papacy, there is no saying whether, some day, all the lands which Cromwell divided among his soldiers may not be restored to their original possessors, and in that case our sons may have to make their way in other paths of life than ours; and, if it be so, John will assuredly be more likely to make his way than I should have done."
"We would never surrender, save with our lives, what our swords have won. We will hold the inheritance which the Lord has given us," the old man said fiercely.
"Yes, father; and so said those whose lands we have inherited. So said Walter Davenant, of whose lands we are possessed. It will be as God wills it. He has given to us the lands of others, and it may be that he will take them away again. The times have changed, father, and the manners; and I am well pleased to see that John, while I am sure he is as true to the faith as I am myself, will take broader and, perhaps, happier views of life than I have done."
Zephaniah gave a snort of displeasure. He grieved continually at the influence which his daughter-in-law exercised over her son, and which now extended clearly to her husband; but Jabez was now a man of five-and-forty, and had lately shown that, in some respects at least, he intended to have his way, while Zephaniah himself, though still erect and strong, was well-nigh eighty.
"Remember, Jabez," he said, "that it goes hard with those who, having set their hands to the plough, turn aside."
"I shall not turn aside, father," Jabez said quietly. "I have gone too long along a straight furrow to change now; but I am not ill pleased that my son should have a wider scope. I trust and believe that he will drive his furrow as straight as we have done, although it may not be exactly in the same line."
But neither Zephaniah nor old Mrs. Davenant knew that their respective grandsons had made friends, although both the boys' fathers knew, and approved of it, although for somewhat different reasons.
"The Whitefoot boy," Mr. Davenant had said to his wife, "is, I fancy from what I have seen of him, of a different type to his father and grandfather. I met him the other day when I was out, and he spoke as naturally and outspokenly as Walter himself. He seems to have got rid of the Puritanical twang altogether. At any rate, he will do Walter no harm; and, indeed, I should say that there was a solid good sense about him, which will do Master Walter, who is somewhat disposed to be a madcap, much good. Anyhow, he is a better companion for the boy than the lads down in the village; and there is no saying, wife, how matters may go in this unhappy country. It may be that we may come to our own again. It may be that we may lose what is left to us. Anyhow, it can do no harm to Walter that he should have, as a friend, one in the opposite camp."
Somewhat similar was the talk between Hannah and Jabez, although, in their case, the wife was the speaker.
"John has told me, Jabez, that he has several times met young Davenant, and that the boy is disposed to be friendly with him; and he has asked me to speak with you, to know whether you have any objection to his making a friend of him."
"What do you say, Hannah?" Jabez asked cautiously. "My father, I fear, would not approve of it."
"Your father need know nothing about it, Jabez. He is an old man and a good man, but he clings to the ways of his youth, and deems that things are still as they were when he rode behind Cromwell. I would not deceive him did he ask; but I do not see that the matter need be mentioned in his presence. It seems to me that it will be good for John to be friends with this boy. He is almost without companionship. We have acquaintance, it is true, among the other settlers of our faith, but such companionship as he has there will not open his mind or broaden his views. We are dull people here for a lad. Had we had other children it might have been different.
"I have heard my mother speak of her life as a girl, in England, and assuredly it was brighter and more varied than ours; and it seems not to me that the pleasures which they had were sinful, although I have been taught otherwise; but, as I read my Bible, I cannot see that innocent pleasures are in any way denied to the Lord's people; and such pleasure as the companionship of the young Davenant can give John will, I think, be altogether for his good."
"But the lad is a Papist, Hannah."
"He is, Jabez; but boys, methinks, do not argue among themselves upon points of doctrine; and I have no fear that John will ever be led from the right path, nor indeed, though it is presumption for a woman to say so, do I feel so sure as our ministers that ours is the only path to heaven. We believe firmly that it is the best path, but others believe as firmly in their paths; and I cannot think, Jabez, that all mankind, save those who are within the fold of our church, can be condemned by the good Lord to perdition."
"Your words are bold, Hannah, and I know not what my father and the elders of the church would say, were they to hear them. As to that I will not argue, but methinks that you are right in saying that the companionship of the young Davenant will do our boy no harm.
"But the lad must have his father's consent. Though I reckon that we could count pounds where they could count shillings, yet, in the opinion of the world, they assuredly stand above us. Moreover, as it is only in human nature that they should regard us as those who have despoiled them, John must have no dealings with their son without their consent. If that be given, I have nought to say against it."
And so John told Walter, next time they met, and learned in reply that Walter had already obtained his father's consent to going out rambles with him; so the boys became companions and friends, and each benefited by it. To John, the bright, careless ease and gaiety of Walter's talk and manner were, at first, strange indeed, after the restraint and gloom of his home; but in time he caught something of his companion's tone, until, as has been said, his altered manner and bearing struck and annoyed his grandfather.
On the other hand, the earnestness and solidity of John's character was of benefit to Walter; and his simple truthfulness, the straightforwardness of his principles, and his blunt frankness in saying exactly what he thought, influenced Walter to quite as large an extent as he had influenced John.
So the companionship between the lads had gone on for two years. In fine weather they had met once or twice a week, and had taken long rambles together, or, throwing themselves down on the slopes facing the sea, had talked over subjects of mutual interest. Walter's education was far in advance of that of his companion, whose reading, indeed, had been confined to the Scriptures, and the works of divines and controversialists of his own church, and whose acquirements did not extend beyond the most elementary subjects.
To him, everything that Walter knew was novel and strange; and he eagerly devoured, after receiving permission from his mother, the books which Walter lent him, principally histories, travels, and the works of Milton and Shakespeare. As to the latter, Hannah had at first some scruples; and it was only after setting herself, with great misgivings as to the lawfulness of the act, to peruse the book, that she suffered her son to read it. The volume only contained some ten of Shakespeare's plays; and Hannah, on handing the book to her son, said:
"I do not pretend, John, to understand all that is written there, but I cannot see that there is evil in it. There are assuredly many noble thoughts, and much worldly wisdom. Did I think that your life would be passed here, I should say that it were better for you not to read a book which gives a picture of a life so different from what yours would be; but none can say what your lot may be. And, although I have heard much about the wickedness of the stage, I can see no line in this book which could do harm to you. I do not see it can do you much good, John, but neither do I see that it can do you any harm; therefore, if you have set your mind on it, read it, my boy."
It was a stormy evening in the first week of November, 1688. The wind was blowing in fierce gusts, making every door and casement quiver in Davenant Castle, while, between the gusts, the sound of the deep roar of the sea on the rocks far below could be plainly heard. Mrs. Davenant was sitting in a high-backed chair, on one side of the great fireplace, in which a pile of logs was blazing. Her son had just laid down a book, which he could no longer see to read, while her daughter-in-law was industriously knitting. Walter was wandering restlessly between the fire and the window, looking out at the flying clouds, through which the moon occasionally struggled.
"Do sit down, Walter," his mother said at last. "You certainly are the most restless creature I ever saw."
"Not always, mother; but I cannot help wondering about that ship we saw down the coast, making for the bay. She was about ten miles out, and seemed to be keeping her course when I saw her last, half an hour ago; but I can see, by the clouds, that the wind has drawn round more to the north, and I doubt much whether she will be able to gain the bay."
"In that case, Walter," his father said, "if her captain knows his business, he will wear round and run down for Waterford.
"I agree with you," he continued, after walking to the window and watching the clouds, "that a vessel coming from the south will hardly weather Bray Head, with this wind."
He had scarcely spoken when the door opened, and one of the servants entered.
"Your honour, a boy has just come up from the village. He says that John Considine sent him to tell you that a large ship is driving in to shore, and that he thinks she will strike not far from the village."
"Why, on earth," Mr. Davenant exclaimed, "doesn't he tack and stand out to sea!"
"The boy says her foremast is gone, and they have lost all management of her."
"In that case, God help them! There is little chance for them on this rocky coast. However, I will go down at once, and see if anything can be done.
"Katherine, do you see that there are plenty of hot blankets ready, in case any of the poor fellows are washed ashore. I shall, of course, send them up here.
"I suppose, Walter, you will come down with me."
But Walter had already disappeared, having slipped off as soon as he had heard the message.
"Don't let that boy get into mischief, Fergus," old Mrs. Davenant said.
"I am afraid, mother, he is beyond me," her son said, with a smile. "No Davenant yet could ever keep out of mischief, and Walter is no exception. However, fortunately for us, we generally get out of scrapes as easily as we get into them."
"Not always, Fergus," she said, shaking her head.
"No, not always, mother; but exceptions, you know, prove the rule."
"Well, Godfrey, do you want to go?" he asked the younger boy, who had risen from the table, and was looking eagerly at him. "Of course you do; but, mind, you must keep close to me.
"Ah, Father John!" he broke off, as an ecclesiastic, muffled up to the throat in wrappings, entered the room. "Are you going down, too?"
"Assuredly I am, Fergus. You don't think a trifle of wind would keep me from doing my duty?"
In another two minutes, the two men and Godfrey sallied out. They staggered as the wind struck them, and Godfrey clung to his father's arm. Not a word was spoken as they made their way down the steep descent to the village, which consisted of about a dozen fishermen's huts. Indeed, speaking would have been useless, for no word would have been heard above the howling of the storm.
The vessel was visible to them, as they made their way down the hill. She was a complete wreck. The light of the moon was sufficient for them to see that she had, as the boy said, lost her foremast. Her sails were in ribbons, and she was labouring heavily in the sea, each wave that struck her breaking over her bows and sweeping along her deck. There was no hope for her. She could neither tack nor wear, and no anchor would hold for a moment on that rocky bottom, in such a sea.
On reaching the village, they joined a group of fishermen who were standing under the shelter of the end of a cottage.
"Can nothing be done, Considine?" Mr. Davenant shouted, in the ear of one of the fishermen.
"Not a thing, yer honour. She has just let drop one of her anchors."
"But they could not hope it would hold there," Mr. Davenant said.
"Not they, your honour, onless they were mad. They hoped it would hoult so as to bring her head round; but the cable went, as soon as the strain came. I saw her head go sharp up to the wind, and then fall off again; not that it would have made much difference in the end, though it would have given them half an hour longer of life."
"Could we get a boat off with a line, if she strikes?"
"Look at the sea, yer honour. Mr. Walter has been asking us; but there's no boat could get through that surf, not if all Ireland dipinded on it."
"Where is Walter?"
"Sure and I can't tell ye, yer honour. He was here a few minutes since; but what's come of him is more nor I can tell ye."
"He went off with Larry Doolan," a boy, who was standing next to the fisherman, shouted.
"Then, as sure as fate, they are up to some mischief," Mr. Davenant said. "Walter is bad enough by himself, but with Larry to help him, it would take a regiment to look after them."
"They can't be in much mischief tonight, yer honour," the fisherman said.
"Look, sir, she's coming in fast. She draws a power of water, and she will strike in a minute or two."
"She seems crowded with men. Can nothing be done to help them?" the priest asked.
"Nothing, your reverence. Praying for them is the only thing that can help the poor sowls now."
"You are sure it's not possible to launch a boat, Considine?"
"Look for yourself, yer honour. There's not a boat on the coast that could get through them breakers."
"There she goes."
Even above the noise of the storm, a loud cry was heard, and the crash of breaking timber as, with the shock, the main and mizzen masts, weakened by the loss of the foremast, went over the sides. The next great wave drove the vessel forward two or three fathoms.
"That's her last move," Considine said. "The rocks will be through her bottom, now."
"They are off," a boy shouted, running up.
"Who are off?" Considine asked.
"The young squire and Larry Doolan."
"Off where?" Mr. Davenant exclaimed.
"Off in the curragh, yer honour. Me and Tim Connolly helped them carry it round the Nose, and they launched her there. There they are. Sure you can see them for yourself."
The party rushed out from the shelter, and there, a quarter of a mile along on the right, a small boat was seen, making its way over the waves.
"Be jabers, yer honour, and they have done it," the boatmen said, as Mr. Davenant gave a cry of alarm.
"I didn't think of the curragh, and if I had, she could not have been launched here. Mr. Walter has hit on the only place where there was a chance. Under the shelter of the Nose it might be done, but nowhere else."
The Nose was a formidable reef of rocks, running off from a point and trending to the south. Many a ship had gone ashore on its jagged edge, but, with the wind from the northeast, it formed somewhat of a shelter, and it was under its lee that Walter and Larry had launched the curragh.
The curragh is still found on the Irish coast. It is a boat whose greatest width is at the stern, so much so that it looks like a boat cut in two. The floor is almost flat, and rises so much to the bow that three or four feet are entirely out of water. They are roughly built, and by no means fast, but they are wonderfully good sea boats, for their size, and can live in seas which would swamp a boat of ordinary build.
Walter had, with the assistance of Larry Doolan, built this boat for going out fishing. It was extremely light, being a mere framework covered with tarred canvas. As soon as Walter had reached the village, and found that the fishermen considered that no boat could possibly be put out, he had found and held a consultation with Larry.
"Do you think the curragh could go out, Larry?"
"Not she, yer honour. She would just be broke up like an eggshell with them breakers."
"But she might float, if we got beyond them, Larry."
"She might that," Larry agreed, "seeing how light she is."
"Well, will you go with me, Larry?"
"Sure and I would go anywhere with yer honour, but she could never get out."
"I am thinking, Larry, that if we carry her along beyond the Nose, we might find it calmer there."
"Well, we might," Larry agreed. "At any rate, we can try."
So, calling together two or three other boys, they had lifted the light boat and carried it with its oars along the shore, until they got beyond the Nose; but even here, it was a formidable business to launch her, for, although the rocks broke the full force of the seas, throwing the spray hundreds of feet up in the air, the waves poured through the intervals, and dashed over the lower rocks in such masses that formidable waves rolled in to the shore.
After much consultation, the boys agreed that their best plan was to scramble out on the rocks as far as possible, so as to launch the boat beyond the break of the surf.
It was a hazardous enterprise, and the whole party were, several times, nearly washed into the water as they struggled out. At last, they reached a spot beyond which they could go no farther, as a deep passage was here broken in the rock. But they were now beyond the line of breakers.
After several vain efforts to launch the boat, in each of which she narrowly escaped destruction, they agreed that the only plan was, after a wave passed, to drop her on to a flat rock, which then showed above the water, and to jump into her.
The two boys on shore were to hold the head rope, to prevent her being dashed towards the land by the next wave, while Larry worked with the oars to get her away from the ridge. The moment the wave had passed under them, the head rope was to be thrown off.
This plan was carried out. The two boys had but just time to jump into the boat and get out their oars, when the next wave lifted the boat high on its crest. The lads holding the rope were nearly torn from the rock, but they held on till the strain ceased, then they threw in the rope, and Walter and Larry bent to their oars.
"Row easy, Larry," Walter said, as the next wave passed under them, "and put her head to each wave."
Terrible as was the sea, the curragh floated buoyantly over it, though several times, as she rose to the steep waves, Walter thought that she would be thrown right over. The worst part of their task was over, when they got beyond the end of the Nose, for up to that point they were forced to row across the course of the waves, and continually to turn the boat, to face the great masses of water which ran between the rocks. But once beyond the end of the reef they turned her head north, and rowed straight towards the ship.
"She has struck, Master Walter," Larry said, glancing over his shoulder, "and her masts are gone."
"Lay out, then, Larry, there's no time to lose."
But, in spite of their efforts, the boat moved but slowly through the water, for the wind caught her high bow with such force that, at times, it needed all their strength and skill to keep her head straight. At last they were close to the ship, which already showed signs of breaking up. They ranged up alongside of it.
"Fasten a line to a keg and throw it in," Walter shouted.
In a minute, a keg was thrown overboard with a line attached. As soon as it drifted a little way from the vessel's side, they hauled it into the boat.
"Now, back, Larry; these waves would sink us in a moment, if we turn our stern to them."
The wreck lay within a hundred yards of the shore, and the boat backed until close to the line where the waves toppled over in a torrent of foam.
"Now, Larry, keep her steady. We are as near as we dare go."
Then Walter stood up in the boat, took the keg and a foot or two of line in his hand, and waited till the next wave passed under the boat. He swung the keg round his head, and hurled it towards the shore. Then he dropped into his seat, and gave two or three vigorous strokes, and, when safely beyond the line of breakers, sat quiet and watched the result.
"They have missed it the first time," he said. "Look! They are going to run into the surf for it."
The group on the shore joined hands, and the next time the keg was borne forward, in the tumble of foam, Considine ran forward and seized it. The back rush took him from his feet, but the others held on, and before the next wave came, the line was safely on the beach. A strong cable was soon pulled ashore and firmly fixed. A light line was attached to it, and the sailors at once began to pass along.
"Shall we turn back now, Master Walter?"
"We will keep near the wreck for a few minutes longer, Larry. She can't hold together long, and maybe we can pick somebody up."
The vessel was indeed breaking up fast. Her stern was burst in, and the waves, as they poured in at the opening, smashed up the deck. Many of the crew had been washed overboard, and had instantly disappeared.
As the boat approached the wreck, an officer, who had climbed the shrouds, shouted out:
"Will your boat hold another?"
"Yes," Walter shouted back. "She will hold two more."
"I will try and swim to you," the officer said.
He threw off the long cloak, in which he was wrapped, and unbuckled his sword and let it drop, unbuttoned and took off his military coat, and, with some difficulty, got rid of his high boots.
"Can you come a bit nearer?" he shouted.
"We daren't," Walter said. "A touch from one of those floating timbers would send us to the bottom."
The officer waved his hand, and then sprang head foremost into the sea. So long was he in the water, that Walter began to think he must have struck against something, and was not coming up again; when suddenly he appeared, within twenty yards of the boat. They rowed towards him, instantly.
"You must get in over the stern," Walter said.
The officer was perfectly cool, and, placing his hands on the stern, drew himself partly over it, and Walter, grasping his hand, dragged him in. No sooner was he in, than Walter again hailed the wreck.
"We can carry one more."
But those who were still on board were huddled up in the bow, waiting their turn for the rope.
"There is a big un coming now," Larry exclaimed. "That will finish her."
A wave, towering far above its fellows, was indeed approaching. Higher and higher it rose. There was a wild cry from the wreck as it surged over it. When it had passed, the sea was covered with floating timbers, but the vessel was gone.
"We can do nothing now," Walter said. "We daren't go in among that wreckage, and any who get hold of floating planks will drift ashore.
"Now, Larry, back quietly, and let her drift down round the Nose. We must keep her head to the waves."
Ten minutes, and they were abreast of the reef. As soon as they were past it, Walter gave the word, and they rowed along, under its shelter, to the point where they had embarked.
"Now, sir," Walter said, "we will back her up to that rock. When we are close enough, you must jump."
This was safely accomplished.
"Now, Larry, row alongside when the next wave comes. We must both scramble out as well as we can."
But by this time help was at hand. The boat had been anxiously watched from the shore, and when, on the disappearance of the wreck, she was seen to be making her way back to the Nose, Mr. Davenant, with Considine and the priest, and the boys who had assisted in getting her afloat, hurried along the shore to meet her, the rest of the fishermen remaining behind, to aid any who might be washed up from the wreck.
As soon as it was seen that they intended to land at the spot where they had started, Considine and Mr. Davenant made their way along the rock, and joined the officer just as he leapt ashore. The boat came alongside on the top of the wave, and as this sank it grazed the rock and capsized, but Walter and Larry grasped the hands stretched out to them, and were hauled on to the rock, while the next wave dashed the curragh in fragments on the beach.
Chapter 2: For James Or William.
"My dear Walter," his father exclaimed as he embraced his son, as he scrambled on shore, "you have behaved like a hero, indeed, but you oughtn't to have done it.
"And you too, Larry. You both deserve a sound thrashing for the fright you have given us."
"They may have frightened you, sir," the officer said; "but assuredly, I owe my life to these brave lads. I have scarcely thanked them yet, for indeed, until I felt my foot on the rock, I had but small hopes of reaching shore safely in that cock boat of theirs. After feeling that great ship so helpless against the waves, it seemed impossible that a mere eggshell could float over them.
"My name, sir, is Colonel L'Estrange, at your service."
"My name is Davenant, colonel, and I am truly glad that my son has rescued you; but the sooner you are up at my place, the better, sir. This is no weather for standing talking in shirtsleeves."
They now made their way along the rock back to the shore, and then hurried to the village. There they learned that six men had succeeded in getting to shore along the rope, before the vessel broke up.
Telling Larry he had best have a glass of hot spirits, and then turn into bed at once, and that he was to come up to the house the first thing in the morning, Mr. Davenant, with the priest, Colonel L'Estrange, and Walter made his way up to the house, to which the men who had reached the shore had been already taken.
The party were met at the door by Mrs. Davenant, who had been extremely anxious, for Godfrey had been sent home by his father as soon as the wreck went to pieces, and had brought the news of Walter's doings, up to that time.
"He is quite safe, Katherine," Mr. Davenant said, "but you mustn't stop, either to scold him or praise him, at present.
"Hurry off, Walter, and get between the blankets. I will bring you up some hot spiced wine directly.
"Katherine, this is Colonel L'Estrange, whom Walter has brought ashore in his boat. You will excuse him, at present, for he has been for hours exposed to the storm, and must be half frozen as well as half drowned.
"Now, colonel, if you will come along with me, you will find a bed with hot blankets ready, and, I doubt not, a blazing fire.
"Ah, here is the spiced wine. Take a draught of that before you go upstairs. You can have another, after you are in bed."
Three more survivors from the wreck were presently brought up. They had been washed ashore on planks, as indeed had many others, but the rest had all been beaten to death against the rocks by the breakers.
Walter slept late the next morning, and, when he came downstairs, found that the others had already finished breakfast. When he had eaten his meal, and listened to the gentle scolding which his mother gave him for risking his life, he joined his father, who was, with Colonel L'Estrange, pacing backwards and forwards on the terrace in front of the house. The first fury of the storm was over, but it still blew strongly, and a very heavy sea was running.
"Ah, my young friend," Colonel L'Estrange said, advancing, "I am glad to see you, and to be able to thank you more warmly than I was able to do last night, when the very words seemed frozen on my lips, for having saved my life. It was a gallant deed, and one which your father may well be proud of. It showed not only bravery of the highest kind, but coolness and judgment, which are virtues even more rare. I predict a brilliant future for you, and if, in any way, my aid may be of use to you, believe me, it will be at your service."
"It was well you were a good swimmer, sir," Walter said, "for we could not have helped you, if you had not been able to help yourself, for the sea was covered with pieces of wreck, and as the boat was only covered with canvas, the slightest touch from one of the jagged ends would have made a hole in it. I am very much obliged to you for your kind offer of assistance; but, at present, we have not made up our minds what I am to be.
"Have we, father?"
"No, indeed, Walter. You have told me that you would like, at any rate for a time, to see something of the world before settling down here for life; but it is no easy matter to say what is best for you to do. Ireland offers but little field for anyone's ambition. Since King James came to the throne, and especially since Tyrconnell became governor, things have been a little more favourable for us; and I have hopes, yet, that justice will be done to the Catholic population of this unhappy country.
"Is it not monstrous, Colonel L'Estrange, that the very men who had a hand in the rebellion against King Charles the First, should still be in possession, during the reign of his son, of the lands which were taken from my father because he was loyal to his king? And so it is all over Ireland. The descendants of Cromwell's men lord it in the homes of those who were faithful to King Charles."
"It certainly seems so, sir," Colonel L'Estrange said; "but I am no politician. I am simply a soldier, and obey orders; but I own that it does seem a cruel injustice, that the great portion of the lands of this country should be held by the descendants of Cromwell's soldiers, while the lawful owners, whose only fault was that they were loyal to their king, should still be dispossessed of it."
"But I think better times are coming," Mr. Davenant said. "There can be no doubt of the king's leaning towards our religion. He has been restrained from carrying his goodwill towards us into effect, by his privy councillors and by the English party here, whose interest it is to prevent any change being made, and who constantly misrepresent the feelings of this country. From the days when Strongbow first landed, this island has been the prey of adventurers, whose only object has been to wrest the land from the native population."
"But you are yourself a descendant of one of the early English settlers, Mr. Davenant."
"That is true enough," Mr. Davenant said smiling, "and, no doubt, he was as bad as the rest of them; but, you see, we have held the land for some centuries now, and, like the other descendants of Strongbow's men, have come to look at matters from the Irish point of view, rather than the English. However, I hope for better times."
"You haven't heard the news, then, about the Prince of Orange?"
"No; what is the news?" Mr. Davenant asked. "There have been rumours, for years, that he intended to make a bid for the English throne; but I have heard nothing else."
"There was a report, before I left London, that he has already sailed from Holland," Colonel L'Estrange replied; "and, indeed, I have no doubt the rumour is well founded."
"But he will never succeed," Mr. Davenant said eagerly. "He will be put down as easily as Monmouth was."
"I do not know," Colonel L'Estrange said gravely. "The Protestant feeling in England is very strong. Monmouth was vain and empty headed, and he wrecked his own cause. The Dutchman is a different sort of man altogether, and one thing is certain: if King James can make a mess of matters, he is sure to do so. The Stuarts have always been feeble and indecisive, and James is the most feeble and indecisive of them. If William succeeds in effecting a landing, I think his chance of success is a good one."
"He may reign in England," Mr. Davenant broke in passionately, "but he will not reign in Ireland.
"But forgive me," he broke off. "I forgot, for a moment, that you are an Englishman, and my guest."
"You need not apologize, Mr. Davenant. As I said, I am a soldier and no politician. My ancestors were royalists, and I have no great love for the Dutch stadtholder, who will be supported in England by the class who rose against King Charles. At the same time, it is difficult to feel much enthusiasm for the Stuarts. The first was a pedant. The second threw away his chances, over and over again, by his duplicity and want of faith. The third was utterly selfish and unprincipled. The fourth is a gloomy bigot. Charles was, and James is, a pensioner of France. How can men be ready to sacrifice everything for such a race as this?"
"That is not the way in which we look at it in Ireland," Mr. Davenant said. "The wars here are waged under various pretences. Someone is goaded into rebellion, false charges are preferred wholesale, or there is a religious pretext; but we all know what is at the bottom of them all, simply the greed of English adventurers for Irish land; and, not content with having dispossessed the ancient owners of three-fourths of the cultivated land of the country, they want the remainder, and under the pretence that we, the descendants of the early settlers, are in sympathy with our Irish neighbours, they have marked us out for destruction, and already a great portion of our estates is in the hands of Cromwell's men. So gross have been the abuses, that the commission, which the king appointed to inquire into the seizure of our estates, only ventured to sit one day, for the proofs brought forward were so overwhelmingly strong that it was seen at once that, did the inquiry continue, it would be made manifest to all the world that justice could be satisfied by nothing less than a clear sweep of all those men who have seized our estates.
"If Ireland rises in favour of King James, it will not be for any love for the Stuarts; but it will be to recover the land which has been illegally wrested from us, and which, if Dutch William and his Whig adherents gain the upper hand, will be taken from us forever. The religious element will, of course, count for much. Already we have suffered persecution for our religion; and, if the Whigs could have their way, they would stamp it out utterly, with fire and sword. Things have looked better, during the last five or six years, than they have done since Cromwell first put foot in Ireland. We have begun to hope for justice. Tyrconnell has stood up for us, and, with the goodwill of James, has gained many concessions. We have now what we never had before, an Irish army. The land thieves have been fairly alarmed, for they have seen that the long delayed justice will be done us at last. Many have sold back their lands to the original owners, and have left the country. Others are only holding out for better terms. Another ten years of James's reign, and things would have righted themselves; but, if the Dutchman ascends the throne of England, there is no hope for Ireland, save in the sword."
"Well, we must hope it will not come to that," Colonel L'Estrange said. "I am ready to fight the battles of England on the Continent, but civil war, with all its horrors, sickens me; and civil war here is not like our civil war in England. There were no race animosities there, no memory of cruel wrongs on one side or the other. Men fought for a principle, but there were no atrocities committed, on either side, like those which have devastated Germany. The peasant ploughed the land, and the trader kept open his shop unmolested. It is true that, towards the end, there were confiscations of the property of those who still continued the strife, and a few executions of individuals; but, taking it as a whole, no war has ever caused so little suffering, to the people at large, as did the civil war in England; but assuredly, a war in Ireland now, like those which have gone before, would be marked by the foulest atrocities, massacres, and destruction on both sides."
"Yes," Mr. Davenant said, "I must own that, for downright brutal and bloody ferocity, the wars in Ireland rival those of the Huns."
Walter had listened in silence to this conversation. His father now turned to him.
"Have you heard whether Larry has recovered from his adventure of yesterday as well as you have?"
"No, father, I have not heard anything about it. I came out here directly I finished my breakfast. How are the people who were brought up here?"
"They are going on well, Walter, but they were all so bruised, as they were being drawn up through the surf, that it will be some days before any of them can leave their beds.
"How many had you on board, colonel?"
"I did not see the list of passengers, but there were twelve or fourteen aft, and, from what I saw, I should think as many more forward. There were twenty-three men in the crew. I suppose, altogether, there were some fifty on board."
"Are you going to make a long stay in Ireland?"
"No; I shall only remain here a week or two. I am the bearer of some letters from the king to Tyrconnell; and that reminds me that I must be making my way on to Dublin."
"I will ride in with you," Mr. Davenant said. "I must tell my friends this news that you bring. It seems to me to be most serious. I will have a horse round for you here, in half an hour, if that will suit you."
"Perfectly," Colonel L'Estrange replied. "That will just give me time to walk round to the village, to see the lad you call Larry, for I could not go without thanking him for the share he had in preserving my life.
"Perhaps you will go down with me, Walter, and show me his house?"
When they reached the shore, they found the whole population of the village engaged in dragging up the spars, planks, and pieces of timber with which the rocks were strewn.
"There is Larry," Walter said. "It is evident that there's nothing the matter with him."
Larry was, indeed, just coming up, dragging a piece of timber behind him; while, in his left hand, he held a large bundle of fragments of wood, of different sizes, which, as well as the timber, he was taking home for firing.
"Larry, come here. The English gentleman wants to speak to you."
The boy dropped his wood, and came up.
"My lad," Colonel L'Estrange said, "I am greatly indebted to you for your work of last night. Take this," and he placed a purse of ten guineas in Larry's hand.
"And remember that I am still greatly your debtor, and that if, at any future time, you should be in a position in which my aid may be useful, you have only to let me know, and I will stand your friend."
The sum appeared to Larry to be enormous.
"Long life to yer honour, and it's proud I am to have been of service to such a grand gentleman. It's thankful I am for your kindness, and if ever you want a boy to do a job for you, it's myself that will be proud to do it. As to yesterday, I just came because the young squire tould me to, and thankful I am that he got back safe to shore, for, if we had been drowned, I don't know whatever I should have said to the squire."
Two days after the shipwreck, Walter and John Whitefoot met at the place which they had agreed on, when they last saw each other four days before.
"I heard of your brave deed on the night of the storm, Walter. Everyone is talking of it; and even my grandfather, who has seldom a good word for any of you at the Castle, said that it was a noble deed. It was as much as I could do not to say, 'Yes, he is a friend of mine;' for I felt proud of you, I can tell you."
"It is all nonsense, John. I have often been out in a curragh in bad weather, though never in quite such a storm as that; but, once launched, she rode lightly enough, and scarce shipped a spoonful of water."
"I should like to have been there," John said; "but I should have been no use. My people have always been against my going down to the sea, deeming it a pure waste of time, except that they let me go down to swim. I can do that well, you know; but they have always forbidden my going out in boats. Now, you see, it is proved that it is not a waste of time, for you have been able to save many lives. The thought must make you very happy."
"Well, I don't know that it does, particularly," Walter said carelessly. "Of course, I was glad at the time, but I have not thought much about it one way or the other, since. You see, the news that has come has driven everything else out of our heads."
"Is it true, then, the report that we heard yesterday, that William of Orange has set out for England?"
"Yes, it is true enough; and I am afraid, by what I hear, that it is likely to cause all sorts of troubles."
"I suppose," John said gravely; "and of course, in this matter my people think differently from yours. You know we agreed that we would never talk on these subjects, but I am afraid the time is coming when there will be nothing else to be talked of."
"I am afraid so, too, John. My father thinks that there will be civil war again."
"Of course my grandfather is delighted," John said quietly. "He has been greatly disturbed in his mind, for some months, owing to the leanings of King James towards the Irish, which seem to point to his having to give up no small portion of the lands."
"We thought so too, John; and although it is your father who would lose, and mine who would gain, I don't think that even you can deny that it would be reasonable. Your grandfather got the land from mine because he fought for Cromwell against the king, and Cromwell got the best of it. Well, it seems only reasonable that, when the king again came to the throne, those who fought for him should get their own again."
"It does seem so, Walter, I must own; and I am sure I should not have cared, for myself, if the land was given back again to your father tomorrow. Then I suppose we should go back to England; and, as I know my grandfather has done well, and has laid by a good deal of money, they could take a farm there; and there would be more chance of their letting me enter upon some handicraft. I would rather that, by a great deal, than farming. All these books you have lent me, Walter, have shown me what great and noble deeds there are to be done in the world—I don't mean in fighting, you know, but in other ways. And they make the life here, toiling on the farm from sunrise to sunset, with no object save that of laying by every year more money, seem terribly empty and worthless.
"By the way, my grandfather was, yesterday evening, rating my father because, instead of always keeping me hard at work, he allowed me once or twice a week to be away for hours wasting my time—which means, though he didn't know it, going about with you. My father said stoutly that he did not think the time was altogether wasted, for that, in the last two years, I had made a notable advance in learning, and he was satisfied that I had benefited much by these intervals of recreation. Thereupon my grandfather grumbled that I was too fond of reading, and that I was filling my mind with all sorts of nonsense, whereas true wisdom was to be found in one book only.
"My father said that was true of religious wisdom, but that, for the advancement of the world, it was needed that men should learn other things. Of course, my grandfather had three or four texts ready at hand; but my father had him by saying: 'You see, father, all the commands issued to the Jews are not strictly applicable to us—for example, they were ordered not to use horses; and I do not remember that Cromwell felt that he was doing wrong, when he raised his ironsides.' That was a poser, and so the matter dropped."
Ten days later, when the boys met, John said:
"This is the last time we shall meet for some time, Walter, for I am going up to Derry to stay with a cousin of my father, who is settled there and exercises the trade of a currier. I said, some months ago, that I should like to learn a trade, but everyone was against it, then. They seemed to think that, as I should some day have the land, it was flying in the face of Providence to think of anything else. But I suppose the fact that everything is so unsettled now, and that there is no saying what may come of these events in England, may have made them think differently.
"At any rate, my father said to me yesterday: 'We have been talking over what you said, about wishing to learn a trade. If all goes on well, there is no occasion for you to learn any business save that of farming; but none can say what the Lord may not have in store for us, or what troubles may come upon us. In any case, it will do you no harm to see a little of the world outside our farm; and, therefore, your grandfather and I have settled that you shall go for a few months to my cousin, who, as you know, is a currier in Derry. He has often written, asking you to go and stay with him, seeing that he has no children of his own. Learn what you can of his business; and if it should be that you find it more to your liking than farming, I should not be one to hold you back from following the bent of your inclinations.
"'But this is between ourselves. My father's ideas on these subjects you know, and it would cause much trouble, did he think that you had any idea of not following in the path in which he and I have trod. But to me it seems better that each should go on the path towards which his mind is turned—that is, when he has made quite sure, after long reflection and prayer, that it is no idle whim but a settled earnest desire. If, then, after your visit to your uncle, you feel that you are truly called to follow a life other than that you would lead here, I shall not oppose you. The Lord has blessed our labours. The land is fertile, and I can well provide the moneys that will be needful to start you, either in business with my cousin, or in such way as may appear best.'
"I thanked him gravely, but indeed, Walter, I had difficulty in restraining myself from shouting with joy, for a life like that of my father and grandfather here would be very grievous to me. I have no desire to gain greater wealth than we have, but I long for a higher life than this."
"I don't know, John," Walter said doubtfully. "Unless, as you say, these troubles make a difference, you will be a large landowner some day; and these bitternesses will die out in time, and you will take a very different position from that which your grandfather holds. Of course, we regard him as a usurper, but you know, in the third generation the grandson of a usurper becomes a legitimate monarch. My ancestors usurped the land from the native Irish by the sword, just as your grandfather did from us; but we came, in time, to be regarded as the natural lords of the soil, and so will you. But to be a currier! That strikes me as a tremendous come down!"
"I care nothing about coming up or coming down," John said simply. "I long only for an honest mode of life, in which, instead of dwelling solitary, and seeing no one from year to year save at our Sabbath meetings, I may mix with others and take part in a more active and busy life. In itself, I do not suppose that the trade of a currier is a very pleasant one; but that matters little if, when work is done, one has leisure for some sort of communication with others, and for improving one's mind. It will be to me something like what going to court in London would be to you, Walter. I am most grieved about my mother. She will miss me sorely.
"She said to me last night, 'I fear somewhat, John, that the course I have taken with you has greatly unfitted you for settling down here, as we have done before you; but although I shall miss you sadly, I do not blame myself for what I have done. I think myself, my son, that there are higher lives than that spent in tilling the soil from boyhood to old age. It is true the soil must be tilled. There must be ever hewers of wood and drawers of water; but God has appointed for each his place, and I think, my son, that you have that within you which would render the life with which your father and grandfather have been well contented an irksome one for you.
"'I have no fear that we shall be always separated. Your grandfather is an old man, and when the Lord pleases to take him, your father and I will be free to do as we choose, and can, if we like, dispose of this land and quit this troubled country, and settle in England or elsewhere, near where you may be. It is true that we shall get little for the land; for, broad as are its acres, who will give much for a doubtful title? But there is ample laid by for our old age, and I see not the sense of labouring incessantly, as does your grandfather, merely to lay up stores which you will never enjoy. Did I see any signs of a decrease in the bitter animosity which parties feel towards each other here, I might think differently; but there is no prospect of peace and goodwill returning in your time, and therefore, no object in your father and I toiling on for the rest of our lives, when the return of our labour will be of little worth to you. Such being so, I do not regret that your thoughts turn to the world of which you have read in books. The world is but a secondary consideration to us, 'tis true, but I can see no special goodness in a life of dull monotony.'"
"I wonder where your mother got hold of her ideas, John. She is so different from most of your people."
"She is indeed," John agreed. "It was from her mother that she received her teaching. I know she was not happy with her husband, who was as gloomy and fanatical as is my grandfather, and she ever looked back to the happy days of her girlhood in England. I think she did for my mother just what my mother has done for me, only the difference is that she never had sufficient influence with her husband to enable her to carry out her views for her daughter, while my mother—"
"Has managed to have her own way," Walter laughed.
"I suppose so, and that in spite of my grandfather. Certainly I owe everything to her, for I am sure, if it hadn't been for her, my father would never have ventured to oppose the old man, even so far as to let me know you. It makes one sad to think, Walter, that religion should sometimes make those who think most of it tyrants in their families. My grandfather is terribly earnest in his religion. There is no pretence or mistake about it; but, for all that, or rather because of it, he would, if he could, allow no one else to have a will or opinion of his own."
"I don't think it's the religion, John, but the manner of the religion. My mother and grandmother are both as religious as anyone could be; but I don't think I ever heard either of them say a hard word of a soul. Their religion is a pleasure to them, and not a task, and I know that some years ago, when we had a priest who was always denouncing the Protestants, they very soon managed to get him changed for another.
"What a funny thing it is, to be sure, that people should quarrel about their religion! After all, we believe all the same important things; and as to others, what does it matter, provided we all do our best in the way that seems right to us?"
But this was too liberal for John. He had been brought up in too strait a sect to subscribe to such an opinion as this.
"I do think it makes a difference, Walter," he said slowly.
"I don't," Walter said. "It's just a matter of bringing up. If you had been born in the Castle, and I had been born in your place, you would have thought as I do, and I should have thought as you do; and of course, still more if you had been born in a Catholic country like Italy, where you would never have heard of Protestantism, and I had been born in a Protestant country like Holland, where I should never have had a chance of becoming a Catholic. Very few people ever change their religion. They just live and die as they have been born and educated."
"It seems so," John said after a pause; "but the question is too deep for us."
"Quite so," Walter laughed, "and I don't want to argue it.
"Well, when are you going to start?"
"I am off tomorrow morning. My father has an acquaintance in Dublin who is starting for Derry, and I am to go in his charge."
For another hour the boys chatted together, and then, with mutual promises of writing regularly, whenever they had the chance, they said goodbye; and the following morning John started with his father to Dublin, and next day journeyed north towards Derry.
Chapter 3: The King In Ireland.
On the 12th of November, a vessel arrived in Dublin with the news that William of Orange had landed at Torbay on the 5th. The news created the wildest excitement. The Protestants, who had been deeply depressed, by the apparent intention of James to hand back, to their original owners, the land which had been wrested from them, now took heart and began openly to arm. Upon the other hand, the Catholics felt that, if William and the Whigs succeeded to the chief power in England, their faith, their remaining property, and their lives were alike menaced, and they, too, prepared to fight to the last for all they held dear.
Walter rode several times with his father into Dublin. The streets presented a strange spectacle. They were crowded with Protestant fugitives from the country districts. These had forsaken all, and flocked into Dublin, fearing that the Irish would retaliate for past grievances by a general massacre. The banks of the Liffey were crowded by these fugitives, who, with tears and cries, besought the captains of the vessels lying there to give them passage to England. All sorts of rumours of bloodshed, massacre, and destruction circulated through the city. The Protestants in the north were said to have fallen upon the Catholic population, and to have put them to the sword, while in the south and west it was said the Catholics had taken the same measures against the Protestants. Both reports were equally false, but they were generally believed, and added to the panic and dismay.
In fact, however, both parties were waiting. The Protestants dared not commence hostilities until assured that William was firmly seated on the English throne, and ready to come to their assistance. The Catholics were equally desirous to maintain the peace, until assured that no hope remained save the sword.
A month after John Whitefoot had left, Walter received a letter from him:
Dear Friend Walter:
You will have heard, no doubt, of the troubles that have arisen here. My father sent me here to learn a trade, but at present, all men's minds are so agitated that there is no talk save of arms and of fighting. My kinsman is as bad as the others. He spends the day going hither and thither among the townsfolk, and has been made an officer in one of the six companies which have been raised here, and pays no further heed to business. The town is mightily divided: the younger and more zealous spirits are all for fighting, while almost all the older and wealthier citizens are opposed to this.
"This is how the trouble began. The Earl of Tyrconnell sent, as you know, three thousand soldiers to help King James, at the first news of the landing of the prince, and to do so he withdrew the regiment which was in garrison in this town. On the 7th of this month of December, the people here heard that the regiment of the Earl of Antrim was approaching the town to take the place of those troops. When the news arrived, there was a sort of panic in the town, and the news was spread that this regiment was intended to massacre the people.
"Why this should be I do not know, and I cannot but think that the alarm was a false one. However, the regiment arrived on the river bank, and some of its officers crossed and entered the city. When they were in council with some of the leading citizens, a party of apprentices, with some of the rabble, shut the gates. For some time there was great debate. The older citizens were mostly in favour of admitting the earl's regiment. Why, they asked, should Derry alone defy the power of Tyrconnell and King James? If King William made his cause good, and came over to Ireland to aid the Protestants, it would be time enough for the men of Derry to join him, and to fight for their faith; but if they now stood alone, they could do no good to the cause of King William, and would bring destruction on themselves and their city.
"But these arguments were of no avail. The apprentices and all the young men of the town, and the fugitives who had come in from the country round, were all for fighting, and so the gates were kept shut; and Lord Antrim, seeing that he could do nothing against such a strong place as Derry, marched away with his regiment. This seems to me a fair account of what has happened. What will come of it I know not; but, being a Protestant, my feelings would incline me to the side of William. Yet it seems to me that his friends here have acted hastily, in thus adventuring themselves against all the forces of King James, and that sore trouble is like to come upon the town. However, it is not for me to judge. I am as warm as any of them in defence of our religion, and shall try to do my best in case of need. I am sorry, dear Walter, that we have to take different sides in this quarrel, but of course we are each of the opinion of our elders, and must not blame each other for what is indeed not of our own choosing.
"This is a fair city, standing on rising ground by a stately river, and with strong walls; and at any other time life would be very pleasant here, although living among so many people seems strange to me, after my life on the farm. I hear all sorts of tales about fighting in other parts, and of the slaughter of Protestants by rapparees, but know not whether they are true. As my cousin, who is an earnest man, is wholly taken up with the present affairs, and all business is at a stand, I have little to do, and spend much of my time by the river side, and have taken to fishing, which I like mightily, and yesterday I caught a fish weighing three pounds, and we had him for dinner. I often wish you were with me. Write me a long letter, and tell me all that you are doing.
"Your affectionate friend,
Indeed, throughout all Ireland preparations for war were going on. All over the north, the Protestants were banding themselves in arms; and, under the excuse of some outrages, committed by a few isolated parties of peasants known as rapparees, were everywhere harrying the Catholics, carrying fire and sword into quiet villages, burning, slaying, and carrying off their grain and cattle. Throughout the whole of Ulster, Charlemont and Carrickfergus alone remained in the hands of King James's troops.
England and Scotland had now accepted William as their king, and James had fled to France. With the exception of Ulster, Ireland remained staunch to King James. In the south Lord Inshiquin, and in Connaught Lord Kingston, had each raised corps among the Protestant settlers for William, and were the first to commence hostilities, and the latter, marching north, made an attack on Carrickfergus.
Tyrconnell now issued commissions to several of the Catholic nobility and gentry, to raise troops for the king's service, and as the people responded to the call readily, some fifty regiments of foot and several troops of horse were soon raised. But though men were forthcoming in abundance, there was a great want of arms and all munitions of war. There were, in the government stores, only twenty thousand arms, and most of these were old weapons, that had been returned to store as unserviceable, and only about a thousand muskets were found to be of any use. There was no artillery or ammunition, and no money with which these necessaries could be purchased abroad. The gentry would have willingly contributed, but all had been well-nigh ruined by the confiscation of their property, and could do little towards filling the treasury.
Never did a nation enter upon a war so badly provided with all necessaries as did Ireland, when she resolved to adhere to the cause of her king, and to resist the power of England and Scotland, aided by that of Holland and the Protestant States of Germany.
Mr. Davenant had been one of the first to respond to the invitation of Tyrconnell, and had set about raising a troop of horse. He had no difficulty in getting the number of men in Bray and the surrounding villages, and the difficulty in mounting them was overcome by the patriotism of sundry gentlemen and citizens of Dublin, who willingly contributed their spare horses to the king's service.
Their arms were various. Some had swords, some short pikes, while a few only had pistols; but the smiths everywhere toiled hard converting scythes and reaping hooks into swords and pikes, and before they were ready to take the field, the whole troop were provided with swords.
Walter had eagerly begged his father to appoint him cornet of the troop, and Mr. Davenant might have yielded, had it not been for his wife's entreaties. Even old Mrs. Davenant, intensely loyal as she was to the cause of James, sided with her daughter in law.
"Of course, Fergus, you will do your duty to the king. It would indeed be a shame for a Davenant to hold back; but, at Walter's age there can be no occasion for him, as yet, to take a commission. I am ready to give my son, as I gave my husband, to the king; and when Walter becomes a man, he too must go, if duty demands it; but for the present, assuredly there is no reason why such a boy should mix himself up in this unhappy struggle. Besides, if aught befalls you, it is to him that his mother will have to look in the future. There are hundreds and thousands of strong and active men in Ireland, and the necessity has not yet come for boys to take the field."
So Walter, to his intense disappointment, was refused the cornetcy of the troop, but his father, who fully entered into his feelings, finally told him that, when the troop took the field, he should accompany him.
"You are not to carry arms, Walter, or to mix yourself up in any way with it. You will be a sort of camp follower, you know; but you will see all that goes on, and will be able to prepare yourself to take your place in the ranks, if the war should, unhappily, go on for any time."
With this Walter had to be satisfied; and, indeed, although somewhat disappointed at not being, at once, allowed to join the troop, he felt sure that it would not be very long before his father, once away from the influence of his wife and mother, would allow him to join.
"May I take Larry with me, father? He would look after my horse, and would be useful to you for running messages, and all sorts of things. He wants to go very much. You see, his uncle and two or three of his cousins have joined the troop, and he would have joined, too, if you had not thought him too young."
"The worst of you and Larry is, that you are always getting into some scrape together," Mr. Davenant said, with a smile.
"But I should not get into scrapes on such a business as this," Walter said indignantly. "This is a serious affair, and of course, going with you, I should be very particular."
"Yes, as long as I was close by, Walter. However, I don't mind your taking Larry. He would, as you say, be useful, and you will want somebody to look after your horse and act as your servant. We may be separated, sometimes, for the troop may be sent on detached service, when I could not take you with me."
The permission to take Larry quite reconciled Walter to the downfall of his hopes of going as cornet, and, in high spirits, he hastened down to the village, to tell Larry that his father had consented to his accompanying him.
All through January, Mr. Davenant was busy drilling his troop. Throughout all Ireland, both parties were preparing for the storm which was soon to burst. Lord Mountjoy, a Protestant nobleman, was sent with his regiment, which consisted for the most part of Protestants, to Derry. He held a meeting with the leading townspeople, who agreed to admit the Protestant soldiers, upon the condition that no more troops were sent. Accordingly, the Protestant troops, under Colonel Lundy, entered the town, and Lord Mountjoy assumed the governorship.
Tyrconnell soon perceived that he had made a mistake in sending Mountjoy to Derry, for instead of overawing the inhabitants, his regiment had, in fact, become a part of the rebel garrison. He therefore recalled Mountjoy and sent him over to France, on the pretence of an embassy to King James, but, as soon as he arrived there, he was treacherously thrown into prison.
The people of Derry received quantities of powder and arms from Scotland, and, on the 20th of February, the Prince of Orange was formally proclaimed king in Derry; and this example was followed throughout Ulster. This was, in fact, the beginning of the war. Anxious to save Ireland from the horrors of civil war, Lord Granard, and other Protestant noblemen of the council, joined Tyrconnell in issuing a proclamation, ordering the Protestant corps to lay down their arms; and as they did not obey, Lieutenant General Hamilton was despatched to the north, with a thousand regular troops and a considerable number of irregulars.
These came up with the insurgents at Dromore, and defeated them with great slaughter. They rallied at Hillsborough, but again were defeated and scattered. Hamilton divided his force, and, marching through the north, reduced Ulster to submission, with the exception only of the fortified towns of Enniskillen and Derry. In the south General M'Carty was equally successful in clearing Munster of William's adherents, and defeated Lord Inshiquin in every encounter.
On the 14th of March, Mr. Davenant, who had ridden into Dublin, returned in the evening with the news that the king had landed at Kinsale, two days before, with fifteen hundred Irish troops in the pay of France, and a hundred French officers, intended to aid in drilling the new levies.
"I am glad, indeed, that he has arrived, for had he been met on the seas by the English fleet, all our hopes might have been dashed at a blow. Now that he is with us, it will rouse the enthusiasm of the people to the utmost. If he is wise, he will surely be able to unite all Ireland under him; save of course the fanatics of the north, who, however, can do nothing against the whole strength of the country, since Hamilton's little force, alone, has been sufficient to put down all opposition, save where they remain shut up behind the walls of Derry and Enniskillen.
"It is not with them that we have to cope alone—they would be utterly powerless—it is with the army of England and Scotland we shall have to fight. Unfortunately we have no fleet, and they can land wherever they choose; but now the king is really among us, all who have hitherto wavered will join. Let England and Scotland choose their king as they will, but there is no reason why Ireland should desert its rightful monarch at their bidding."
"When will the king arrive at Dublin, father?"
"He goes first to Cork, Walter. Tyrconnell has set out, and will meet him there. They say he will be here in about ten days' time. The French ambassador, the Marquis d'Avaux, comes with him, and many French nobles."
"Do you think, father, he will at once order that his friends shall receive the land again which was taken from them by Cromwell's soldiers?"
"I hope not, my boy. It is his interest and not our own we must think of now; and if Ireland is to resist, successfully, the English and continental troops of Dutch William, we must be united—we must be Irishmen first, Catholics and Protestants afterwards. I trust that he will issue such proclamations as will allay the alarm of the Protestants, and bind us all together.
"King James is not like his father. In no single case, since he came to the throne, has he broken his royal word once given; therefore, all may feel confidence in any promises he may make. I have, of course, no hope that anything he can say will influence the fanatics of Derry and Enniskillen, but we can afford to disregard them. They are entailing misery and suffering upon themselves, without the slightest benefit to the cause they advocate. If we beat the English, of course those places must finally surrender. If the English beat us, they will get their Dutch William as king, without any effort on their part. I think, myself, that it will be very unwise to attempt anything against those two places. The people there can shut themselves up in their walls, as long as they like, and by so doing can in no way harm us. If we take their towns, it will only add to the bad blood that already exists. Better by far leave them to themselves, until the main battle is fought out."
On the 23rd, the news came that the king was to arrive in Dublin the next day, and Mr. Davenant, or, as he was now called, Captain Davenant, went over, with all the gentry of the neighbourhood, to meet him.
King James was received with enthusiasm. Addresses were presented to him by the several public bodies, and by the clergy of the Established Church. His answer to these addresses gave satisfaction to all. He promised favour and protection to the Established Protestant Church; issued an invitation to the Protestants who had fled the kingdom to return to their homes, and assured them of safety and his particular care; and he commanded that, with the exception of the military, no Catholics should carry arms in Dublin. Finally, he summoned a parliament to meet him in Dublin on the 7th of May.
One day, a messenger arrived with a despatch for Captain Davenant.
"We are to move into Dublin, tomorrow, Walter," he said when he read it. "We are to take the field at once. The king himself is going to march in command of us against Derry. I think his majesty is wrong; and I know that Tyrconnell has argued strongly against his intention. There are three reasons against it. First, as I told you, I think it were better to leave Derry alone, until the main issue is settled. Secondly, King James has no military experience whatever, and if ought goes wrong with the expedition, he will lose prestige. Thirdly, although it were well for him to be with the army when it fights a foreign foe, it were better that he should not lead it against men who are, however much they may rebel against him, his own subjects.
"I know Tyrconnell has set forth these objections to him; but, unhappily, obstinacy is a fault of all the Stuart race, and it generally happens that they are most obstinate when most wrong. However, I trust that when Derry sees so strong a force marching against it, it will open its gates without resistance. A siege can only entail horrible suffering on the town; and that suffering will, in the end, tell against James's cause, for it will excite the sympathy of the Protestants in England and Scotland, and make them all the hotter to conquer Ireland."
The following day, the troop was mustered in front of the castle, and, after a tender farewell to his wife and mother, Captain Davenant placed himself at their head and rode off. A quarter of an hour later Walter, with Larry Doolan on a rough little pony by his side, rode after the troop.
Dublin was reached in the afternoon. The town presented a festive appearance. The principal streets were still draped with the flags which had been hung out at the king's entry, five days before. The streets were thronged with people, for loyalists had come in from all parts of the country to welcome the king.
Large numbers of men, belonging to the newly raised regiments, wandered among the crowd, and with these were mingled the French uniforms of the Irish troops who had come over with James. The troop was loudly cheered by the crowd, as it passed through the town to the spot assigned to it in the camp of the force gathered near the city. Walter and Larry rode a short distance behind the troop, and joined it as soon as it reached the ground allotted to it.
"It was a brave sight, father, was it not, to see the city decked out, and all the people cheering for the king? Dublin is setting a fine example—isn't it?"
"You must not set much weight upon the cheering of a crowd, Walter. I do not say that the people of Dublin may not, at the present moment, be loyal to the king; but if he were defeated, and William were to march in, you would see that they would cheer him just as heartily. The mob of London cheered King James, as he passed through it, a week before he was so ill advised as to fly; and they threw up their hats for joy, a fortnight later, for William. No, my boy—there is no dependence on a mob. They worship success, and the king who is present is sure to be vastly more dear to them than the king who is absent.
"And now you had better help Larry picket your horses. Put them by the side of mine. See how the troopers fasten theirs, and do yours the same. When that is done, send Larry to get hold of some wood, and light a fire. It will be cold when the sun goes down. As for food, we have brought enough with us for tonight. Tomorrow, I suppose, we shall get rations."
Captain Davenant now posted a certain number of men to look after the horses, and the rest set off to cut firewood; and, in an hour, four or five great fires were blazing. Forage was served out for the horses, from the stores which had been collected, and also a truss of straw to every three soldiers, as bedding.
Walter had, in the meantime, strolled away among the other camps, and was greatly amused at the various shifts and contrivances that the men had made to make themselves comfortable. A few only of the officers had tents; for these, as well as all other necessaries of war, were wanting; and the troops who had, for some little time, been in camp there, had raised all sorts of shelter from the weather. Some had constructed little huts of turf, thatched with straw or rushes; others had erected little tents, some of sailcloth obtained from the shipping, others of blankets, coarse linen cloaks, or any other articles on which they could lay hands. All were in high spirits at the prospect of the termination of the monotony of continued drill, and of the commencement of active campaigning. Huge fires blazed everywhere, and the country, for some distance round, had been completely stripped of its wood.
Everywhere was life and bustle. Men were cleaning their arms, preparatory to the march of next day. Others were cooking at the fires. Troopers were grooming their horses. Snatches of song, and loud laughter, rose in the air.
After wandering about for an hour, Walter rejoined his father. Captain Davenant was sitting with the two officers of his troop, Lieutenant O'Driscoll and Cornet Heron, by a fire, the materials for which the three troopers who acted as their servants had collected. There was no cooking to be done, for sufficient cold provisions had been brought with the troop.
"You are just in time, Walter," his father said. "We are going to fall to, at once, at our meal.
"Hand over that cold chicken, Larry; and do you, Tim Donelly, broach that keg of claret. Give me the bread, Fergus—that's right.
"Now, gentlemen, here's a hunk each. Plates are a luxury which we must do without, in the field. Now let us fall to."
Walter seated himself on a truss of straw beside his father, and thought he had never enjoyed a meal so much, in his life, as the bread and cold chicken, eaten as they were in the open air in front of the crackling fire. Each was provided with a horn, and these were filled from the keg.
"Here's to the king, gentlemen. Success to his arms!"
All stood up to drink the toast, and then continued their meal. Three chickens vanished rapidly, and the troopers kept their horns filled with claret.
"If we always do as well as that," Captain Davenant said, as they finished the meal, "we shall have no reason to grumble. But I fear that's too much to expect.
"Bring me my pipe and tobacco, Larry. You will find them in the holsters of my saddle.
"Fergus, do you undo these trusses, and lay the straw out even—that will do.
"Now, lads, you will find plenty more provisions in the wallet. Do you go and get your own suppers, then give an eye to the horses. We shall not want anything more."
For two or three hours, the three officers and Walter sat chatting by the fire, occasionally piling on fresh logs. Gradually the din of voices in the camp died away, and the bright fires burned down.
"I think we had better turn in," Captain Davenant said at last. "We must be astir an hour before daylight, for we march as soon as it's light."
Rolling themselves in their long cloaks, they lay down upon the straw. It was some time before Walter got to sleep. The novelty of the situation, and the strangeness of lying with the night air blowing in his face, made him unusually wakeful. Occasionally, too, a laugh, from some party who were sitting late round their fire, attracted his attention, and the sound of the snorting and pawing of the horses also kept him awake; but at last he, too, went off to sleep.
In spite of his warm cloak, he felt stiff and chilled when the sound of the trumpets and drums roused the camp.
"Well, Walter, how do you like sleeping in the open?" his father said, as he rose to his feet and shook himself.
"I don't mind the sleeping, father, but the waking is not so pleasant. However, I shall soon get accustomed to it, I suppose. But I always did hate getting up in the dark, even when we were going out fishing."
"You won't always get as comfortable a bed as this, Walter; so don't expect it. The time will come, ere long, when you will look back upon this as absolute luxury. We are not likely to get straw another night, I can tell you.
"Now, Fergus, bring that wallet here. We must breakfast before we get in the saddle."
Walter came to the conclusion that breakfast, eaten in the dark, was a very inferior meal to dinner before a great fire. However, he kept his thoughts to himself, and, as soon as he had finished, went to aid Larry in saddling the horses.
"I suppose I can ride with you today, father?" he said, as he mounted.
"Yes; there will not be any military display by the way. Many of the soldiers have got nothing in the way of uniform at present. So you can ride with me. But if any general officer comes along, you must draw off a little, and drop behind with Larry, who will follow in the rear of the troop."
As soon as daylight appeared, the bugles gave the signal, and the force, preceded by its cavalry, started on its march towards the north.
Chapter 4: The Siege Of Derry.
There was an air of excitement in the streets of Derry. Knots of people were gathered, talking excitedly. Women stood at the doors of all the houses, while men moved aimlessly and restlessly about between the groups, listened for a time to a speaker, and then moved on again. The work of strengthening the defences, which had gone on incessantly for the last three months, had ceased, while numbers of persons were gathered on the walls, looking anxiously towards the south. A general air of gloom and despondency hung over the place. The storm which Derry had braved was gathering around it at last. King James and his troops were advancing against it.
Opinion was strongly divided in the city. Almost without exception, the older citizens deprecated resistance. The walls, indeed, were strong, and the position formidable. The king had no artillery worth speaking of, and the walls, manned by brave men, might well, for a definite time, resist assault; but the stores of food could not long support the large population now gathered in the town, and there seemed no possibility, whatever, of assistance from England before the horrors of famine would be upon them. To what purpose, then, oppose resistance, which must, even if successful, cause frightful sufferings to the inhabitants, and which, if unsuccessful, would hand over the city to the vengeance of James.
The garrison had been strengthened by two regiments and a vast quantity of supplies. But, including everything, there were but provisions for ten days, and as many weeks might elapse before assistance could come.
The younger and more ardent spirits were for resistance to the last.
"Better," they said, "die of hunger, than surrender the Protestant stronghold to the Papists."
Every hour brought crowds of fugitives, the inhabitants of all the villages deserting their homes at the approach of the royal forces, and flying, with what goods they could carry, to Derry.
Archdeacon Hamilton had arrived with a message from the king, offering that if the city would, within four days, surrender, there should be an amnesty to all for past offences, and that the property of all the inhabitants should be respected. This proposition was now being considered by the governor and his council, together with all the principal officers of the English regiments.
John Whitefoot had been out all day, and had just returned to his cousin's house, which was crowded with fugitives, as the tanner had friends and connections in all the villages, and had opened his doors to all who sought shelter, until every room was filled. It was a pitiful sight to see women, with their babies in their arms and their children gathered round them, sitting forlornly, almost indifferent to the momentous consultation which was going on, and thinking only of their deserted homes, and wondering what had befallen them. The men had, for the most part, been out in the streets gathering news. The tanner's wife, assisted by two or three of the women, was busy at the great fire on the hearth, over which hung some huge pots in which broth and porridge were being prepared.