by William Carleton
Illustrated by M. L. Flanery
CHAPTER I.—An Adventure and an Escape
II.—The Cooleen Bawn
III.—Daring Attempt of the Red Rapparee —Mysterious Disappearance of His Gang—The Avowal
IV.—A Sapient Project for our Hero's Conversion—His Rival makes his Appearance, and its Consequences
V.—The Plot and the Victims
VI.—The Warning—an Escape
VII.—An Accidental Incident favorable to Reilly, and a Curious Conversation
VIII.—A Conflagration—An Escape—And an Adventure
IX.—Reilly's Adventure Continued —A Prospect of By-gone Times—Reilly gets a Bed in a Curious Establishment
X.—Scenes that took place in the Mountain Cave
XI.—The Squire's Dinner and his Guests
XII.—Sir Robert Meets a Brother Sportsman —Draws his Nets, but Catches Nothing
XIII.—Reilly is Taken, but connived at by the Sheriff—the Mountain Mass
XIV.—Reilly takes Service with Squire Folliard
XV.—More of Whitecraft's Plots and Pranks
XVI.—Sir Robert ingeniously extricates Himself out of a great Difficulty
XVII.—Awful Conduct of Squire Folliard —Fergus Keilly begins to Contravene the Red Rapparee
XVIII.—Something not very Pleasant for all Parties
XIX.—Reilly's Disguise Penetrated —He Escapes—Fergus Reilly is on the Trail of the Rapparee—Sir Robert begins to feel Confident of Success
XX.—The Rapparee Secured—Reilly and the Cooleen Bawn Escape, and are Captured
XXI.—Sir Robert Accepts of an Invitation
XXII.—The Squire Comforts Whitecraft in his Affliction
XXIII.—The Squire becomes Theological and a Proselytizer, but signally fails
XXIV.—Preparations—Jury of the Olden Time —The Scales of Justice
XXV.—Rumor of Cooleen Bawn's Treachery —How it appears—Reilly stands his Trial —Conclusion
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
I am agreeably called upon by my bookseller to prepare for a Second Edition of "Willy Reilly." This is at all times a pleasing call upon an author; and it is so especially to me, inasmuch as the first Edition was sold at the fashionable, but unreasonable, price of a guinea and a half—a price which, in this age of cheap literature, is almost fatal to the sale of any three-volume novel, no matter what may be its merits. With respect to "Willy Reilly," it may be necessary to say that I never wrote any work of the same extent in so short a time, or with so much haste. Its popularity, however, has been equal to that of any other of my productions; and the reception which it has experienced from the ablest public and professional critics of the day has far surpassed my expectations. I accordingly take this opportunity of thanking them most sincerely for the favorable verdict which they have generously passed upon it, as I do for their kindness to my humble efforts for the last twenty-eight years. Nothing, indeed, can be a greater encouragement to a literary man, to a novel writer, in fact, than the reflection that he has an honest and generous tribunal to encounter. If he be a quack or an impostor, they will at once detect him; but if he exhibit human nature and truthful character in his pages, it matters not whether he goes to his bookseller's in a coach, or plods there humbly, and on foot; they will forget everything but the value and merit of what he places before them. On this account it is that I reverence and respect them; and indeed I ought to do so, for I owe them the gratitude of a pretty long literary life.
Concerning this Edition, I must say something. I have already stated that it was written rapidly and in a hurry. On reading it over for correction, I was struck in my cooler moments by many defects in it, which were, kindly overlooked, or, perhaps, not noticed at all. To myself, however, who had been brooding over this work for a long time, they at once became obvious. I have accordingly added an underplot of affection between Fergus Reilly—mentioned as a distant relative of my hero—and the Cooleen Bawn's maid, Ellen Connor. In doing so, I have not disturbed a single incident in the work; and the reader who may have perused the first Edition, if he should ever—as is not unfrequently the case—peruse this second one, will certainly wonder how the additions were made. That, however, is the secret of the author, with which they have nothing to do but to enjoy the book, if they can enjoy it.
With respect to the O'Reilly name and family, I have consulted my distinguished' friend—and I am proud to call him so—John O'Donovan, Esq., LL.D., M.R.I.A., who, with the greatest kindness, placed the summary of the history of that celebrated family at my disposal. This learned gentleman is an authority beyond all question. With respect to Ireland—her language—her old laws—her history—her antiquities—her archaeology—her topography, and the genealogy of her families, he is a perfect miracle, as is his distinguished fellow-laborer in the same field, Eugene Curry. Two such men—and, including Dr. Petrie, three such men—Ireland never has produced, and never can again—for this simple reason, that they will have left nothing after them for their successors to accomplish. To Eugene Curry I am indebted for the principal fact upon which my novel of the "Tithe Proctor" was written—the able introduction to which was printed verbatim from a manuscript with which he kindly furnished me. The following is Dr. O'Donovan's clear and succinct history of the O'Reilly family from the year 435 until the present time:
"The ancestors of the family of O'Reilly had been celebrated in Irish history long before the establishment of surnames in Ireland. In the year 435 their ancestor, Duach Galach, King of Connaught, was baptized by St. Patrick on the banks of Loch Scola, and they had remained Christians of the old Irish Church, which appears to have been peculiar in its mode of tonsure, and of keeping Easter (and, since the twelfth century, firm adherents to the religion of the Pope, till Dowell O'Reilly, Esq., the father of the present head of the name, quarrelling with Father Dowling, of Stradbally, turned Protestant, about the year 1800).
"The ancestor, after whom they took the family name, was Reillagh, who was chief of his sect, and flourished about the year 981.
"From this period they are traced in the Irish Annals through a long line of powerful chieftains of East Breifny (County Cavan), who succeeded each other, according to the law of Tanistry, till the year 1585, when two rival chieftians of the name, Sir John O'Reilly and Edmund O'Reilly, appeared in Dublin, at the parliament summoned by Perrot. Previously to this, John O'Reilly, finding his party weak, had repaired to England, in 1583, to solicit Queen Elizabeth's interest, and had been kindly received at Court, and invested with the order of Knighthood, and promised to be made Earl, whereupon he returned home with letters from the Queen to the Lord Deputy and Council of Ireland, instructing them to support him in his claims. His uncle, Edmund, of Kilnacrott, would have succeeded Hugh Connallagh O'Reilly, the father of Sir John, according to the Irish law of Tanistry, but he was set aside by Elizabeth's government, and Sir John set up as O'Reilly in his place. Sir John being settled in the chieftainship of East Breifny, entered into certain articles of agreement with Sir John Perrot, the Lord Deputy, and the Council of Ireland, whereby he agreed to surrender the principality of East Breifny to the Queen, on condition of obtaining it again from the crown in capite by English tenure, and the same to be ratified to him and the heirs male of his body. In consequence of this agreement, and with the intent of abolishing the tanistic succession, he, on the last day of August, 1590, perfected a deed of feofment, entailing thereby the seignory of Breifny (O'Reilly) on his eldest son, Malmore (Myles), surnamed Alainn (the comely), afterwards known as the Queen's O'Reilly.
"Notwithstanding these transactions, Sir John O'Reilly soon after joined in the rebellion of Hugh, Earl of Tyrone, and died on the first of June, 1596. After his death the Earl of Tyrone set up his second brother, Philip, as the O'Reilly, and the government of Elizabeth supported the claim of Sir John's son, Malmore, the comely, in opposition to Philip, and Edmund of Kilnacrott. But Malmore, the Queen's O'Reilly, was slain by Tyrone in the great battle of the Yellow Ford, near Benburb, on the 14th of August, 1528, and the Irish of Ulster agreed to establish Edmund of Kilnacrott, as the O'Reilly.
"The lineal descendants of Sir John passed into the French service, and are now totally unknown, and probably extinct. The descendants of Edmund of Kilnacrott have been far more prolific and more fortunate. His senior representative is my worthy old friend Myles John O'Reilly, Esq., Heath House, Emo, Queen's Co., and from him are also descended the O'Reillys of Thomastown Castle, in the County of Louth, the Counts O'Reilly of Spain, the O'Reillys of Beltrasna, in Westmeath, and the Reillys of Scarva House, in the County of Down.
"Edmund of Kilnacrott had a son John who had a son Brian, by Mary, daughter of the Baron of Dunsany, who had a famous son Malmore, commonly called Myles the Slasher. This Myles was an able military leader during the civil wars of 1641, and showed prodigies of valor during the years 1641, 1642, and 1643; but, in 1644, being encamped at Granard, in the County of Longford, with Lord Castlehaven, who ordered him to proceed with a chosen detachment of horse to defend the bridge of Finea against the Scots, then bearing down on the main army with a very superior force, Myles was slain at the head of his troops, fighting bravely on the middle of the bridge. Tradition adds, that during this action he encountered the colonel of the Scots in single combat, who laid open his cheek with a blow of his sword; but Myles, whose jaws were stronger than a smith's vice, held fast the Scotchman's sword between his teeth till he cut him down, but the main body of the Scots pressing upon him, he was left dead on the bridge.
"This Myles the Slasher was the father of Colonel John O'Reilly, of Ballymacadd, in the County Meath, who was elected Knight of the Shire for the County of Cavan, in the parliament held at Dublin on the 7th of May, 1689. He raised a regiment of dragoons, at his own expense, for the service of James II., and assisted at the siege of Londonderry in 1689. He had two engagements with Colonel Wolsley, the commander of the garrison of Belturbet, whom he signally defeated. He fought at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, and was included in the articles of capitulation of Limerick, whereby he preserved his property, and was allowed to carry arms.
"Of the eldest son of this Colonel John O'Reilly, who left issue, my friend Myles J. O'Reilly, Esq., is now the senior representative.
"From Colonel John O'Reilly's youngest son, Thomas O'Reilly, of Beltrasna, was descended Count Alexander O'Reilly, of Spain, who took Algiers! immortalized by Byron. This Alexander was born near Oldcastle, in the County Meath, in the year 1722. He was Generalissimo of his Catholic Majesty's forces, and Inspector-General of the Infantry, etc., etc. In the year 1786 he employed the Chevalier Thomas O'Gorman to compile for him a history of the House of O'Reilly, for which he paid O'Gorman the sum of L1,137 10.s., the original receipt for which I have in my possession.
"Prom this branch of the O'Reilly family was also descended the illustrious Andrew Count O'Reilly, who died at Vienna in 1832, at the age of 92. He was General of Cavalry in the Austrian service. This distinguished man filled in succession all the military grades in the Austrian service, with the exception of that of Field Marshal, and was called by Napoleon 'le respectable General O'Reilly.'
"The eldest son of Myles J. O'Reilly, Esq., is a young gentleman of great promise and considerable fortune. His rencontre with Lord Clements (now Earl of Leitrim) has been not long since prominently before the public, and in a manner which does justice to our old party quarrels! Both are, however, worthy of their high descent; and it is to be hoped that they will soon become good friends, as they are boih young, and remarkable for benevolence and love of fatherland."
As this has been considered by some persons as a historical novel, although I really never intended it as such, it may be necessary to give the reader a more distinct notion of the period in which the incidents recorded in it took place. The period then was about that of 1745, when Lord Chesterfield was Governor-General of Ireland. This nobleman, though an infidel, was a bigot, and a decided anti-Catholic; nor do I think that the temporary relaxation of the penal laws against Catholics was anything else than an apprehension on the part of England that the claims of the Pretender might be supported by the Irish Catholics, who then, so depressed and persecuted, must have naturally felt a strong interest in having a prince who professed their own religion placed upon the English throne. Strange as it may appear, however, and be the cause of it what it may, the Catholics of Ireland, as a people and as a body, took no part whatever in supporting him. Under Lord Chesterfield's administration, one of the most shocking and unnatural Acts of Parliament ever conceived passed into a law. This was the making void and null all intermarriages between Catholic and Protestant that should take place after the 1st of May, 1746. Such an Act was a renewal of the Statute of Kilkenny, and it was a fortunate circumstance to Willy Reilly and his dear Cooleen Bawn that he had the consolation of having been transported for seven years. Had her father even given his consent at an earlier period, the laws of the land would have rendered their marriage impossible. This cruel law, however, was overlooked; for it need hardly be said that it was met and spurned not only by human reason, but by human passion. In truth, the strong and influential of both religions treated it with contempt, and trampled on it without any dread of the consequences. By the time of his return from transportation, it was merely a dead letter, disregarded and scorned by both parties, and was no obstruction to either the marriage or the happiness of himself and his dear Cooleen Bawn.
I know not that there is any thing else I can add to this preface, unless the fact that I have heard several other ballads upon the subject of these celebrated lovers—all of the same tendency, and all in the highest praise of the beauty and virtues of the fair Cooleen Bawn. Their utter vulgarity, however, precludes them from a place in these pages. And, by the way, talking of the law which passed under the administration of Lord Chesterfield against intermarriages, it is not improbable that the elopement of Reilly and the Cooleen Bawn, in addition to the execution of the man to whom I have given the name of Sir Robert Whitecraft, may have introduced it in a spirit of reaction, not only against the consequences of the elopement, but against the baronet's ignominious death. Thus, in every point from which we can view it, the fate of this celebrated couple involved not only popular feeling, but national importance.
I have not been able to trace with any accuracy or satisfaction that portion or branch of the O'Reilly family to which my hero belonged. The dreary lapse of time, and his removal from the country, have been the means of sweeping into oblivion every thing concerning him, with the exception of his love for Miss Folliard, and its strange consequences. Even tradition is silent upon that part of the subject, and I fear that any attempt to throw light upon it must end only in disappointment. I have reason to believe that the Counsellor Fox, who acted as his advocate, was never himself raised to the bench; but that that honor was reserved for his son, who was an active judge a little before the close of the last century.
Dublin, December, 1856.
CHAPTER I.—An Adventure and an Escape.
Spirit of George Prince Regent James, Esq., forgive me this commencement! *
* I mean no offence whatsoever to this distinguished and multitudinous writer; but the commencement of this novel really resembled that of so many of his that I was anxious to avoid the charge of imitating him.
It was one evening at the close of a September month and a September day that two equestrians might be observed passing along one of those old and lonely Irish roads that seemed, from the nature of its construction, to have been paved by a society of antiquarians, if a person could judge from its obsolete character, and the difficulty, without risk of neck or limb, of riding a horse or driving a carriage along it. Ireland, as our English readers ought to know, has always been a country teeming with abundance—a happy land, in which want, destitution, sickness, and famine have never been felt or known, except through the mendacious misrepresentations of her enemies. The road we speak of was a proof of this; for it was evident to every observer that, in some season of superabundant food, the people, not knowing exactly how to dispose of their shilling loaves, took to paving the common roads with them, rather than they should be utterly useless. These loaves, in the course of time, underwent the process of petrifaction, but could not, nevertheless, be looked upon as wholly lost to the country. A great number of the Irish, within six of the last preceding years—that is, from '46 to '52—took a peculiar fancy for them as food, which, we presume, caused their enemies to say that we then had hard times in Ireland. Be this as it may, it enabled the sagacious epicures who lived upon them to retire, in due course, to the delightful retreats of Skull and Skibbereen,* and similar asylums, there to pass the very short remainder of their lives in health, ease, and luxury.
* Two poor-houses in the most desolate parts of the County of Cork, where famine, fever, dysentery, and cholera, rendered more destructive by the crowded state of the houses and the consequent want of ventilation, swept away the wretched in-mates to the amount, if we recollect rightly, of sometimes from fifty to seventy per diem in the years '45 and '47.
The evening, as we have said, was about the close of September, when the two equestrians we speak of were proceeding at a pace necessarily slow. One of them was a bluff, fresh-complexioned man, of about sixty summers; but although of a healthy look, and a frame that had evidently once been vigorous, yet he was a good deal stooped, had about him all the impotence of plethora, and his hair, which fell down his shoulders, was white as snow. The other, who rode pretty close to him, was much about his own age, or perhaps a few years older, if one could judge by a face that gave more undeniable evidences of those furrows and wrinkles which Time usually leaves behind him. This person did not ride exactly side by side with the first-mentioned, but a little aback, though not so far as to prevent the possibility of conversation. At this time it may be mentioned here that every man that could afford it wore a wig, with the exception of some of those eccentric individuals that are to be found in every state and period of society, and who are remarkable for that peculiar love of singularity which generally constitutes their character—a small and harmless ambition, easily gratified, and involving no injury to their fellow-creatures. The second horseman, therefore, wore a wig, but the other, although he eschewed that ornament, if it can be called so, was by no means a man of that mild and harmless character which we have attributed to the eccentric and unfashionable class of whom we have just spoken. So far from that, he was a man of an obstinate and violent temper, of strong and unreflecting prejudices both for good and evil, hot, persevering, and vindictive, though personally brave, intrepid, and often generous. Like many of his class, he never troubled his head about religion as a matter that must, and ought to have been, personally, of the chiefest interest to himself, but, at the same time, he was looked upon as one of the best and staunchest Protestants of the day. His loyalty and devotedness to the throne of England were not only unquestionable, but proverbial throughout the country; but, at the same time, he regarded no clergyman, either of his own or any other creed, as a man whose intimacy was worth preserving, unless he was able to take off his three or four bottles of claret after dinner. In fact, not to keep our readers longer in suspense, the relation which he and his companion bore to each other was that of master and servant.
The hour was now a little past twilight, and the western sky presented an unusual, if not an ominous, appearance. A sharp and melancholy breeze was abroad, and the sun, which had set among a mass of red clouds, half placid, and half angry in appearance, had for some brief space gone down. Over from the north, however, glided by imperceptible degrees a long black bar, right across the place of his disappearance, and nothing could be more striking than the wild and unnatural contrast between the dying crimson of the west and this fearful mass of impenetrable darkness that came over it. As yet there was no moon, and the portion of light or rather "darkness visible" that feebly appeared on the sky and the landscape, was singularly sombre and impressive, if not actually appalling. The scene about them was wild and desolate in the extreme; and as the faint outlines of the bleak and barren moors appeared in the dim and melancholy distance, the feelings they inspired were those of discomfort and depression. On each side of them were a variety of lonely lakes, abrupt precipices, and extensive marshes; and as our travellers went along, the hum of the snipe, the feeble but mournful cry of the plover, and the wilder and more piercing whistle of the curlew, still deepened the melancholy dreariness of their situation, and added to their anxiety to press on towards the place of their destination.
"This is a very lonely spot, your honor," said his servant, whose name was Andrew, or, as he was more familiarly called, Andy Cummiskey.
"Yes, but it's the safer, Andy," replied his master. "There is not a human habitation within miles of us."
"It doesn't follow, sir, that this place, above all others in the neighborhood, is not, especially at this hour, without some persons about it. You know I'm no coward, sir."
"What, you scoundrel! and do you mean to hint that I'm one?"
"Not at all, sir; but you see the truth is, that, this being the very hour for duck and wild-fowl shootin', it's hard to say where or when a fellow might start up, and mistake me for a wild duck, and your honor for a curlew or a bittern."
He had no sooner spoken than the breeze started, as it were, into more vigorous life, and ere the space of many minutes a dark impenetrable mist or fog was borne over from the solitary hills across the dreary level of country through which they passed, and they felt themselves suddenly chilled, whilst a darkness, almost palpable, nearly concealed them from each other. Now the roads which we have described, being almost without exception in remote and unfrequented parts of the country, are for the most part covered over with a thick sole of close grass, unless where a narrow strip in the centre shows that a pathway is kept worn, and distinctly marked by the tread of foot-passengers. Under all these circumstances, then, our readers need not feel surprised that, owing at once to the impenetrable obscurity around them, and the noiseless nature of the antique and grass-covered pavement over which they went, scarcely a distance of two hundred yards had been gained when they found, to their dismay,' that they had lost their path, and were in one of the wild and heathy stretches of unbounded moor by which they were surrounded.
"We have lost our way, Andy," observed his master. "We've got off that damned old path; what's to be done? where are you?"
"I'm here, sir," replied his man; "but as for what's to be done, it would take Mayo Mullen, that sees the fairies and tells fortunes, to tell us that. For heaven's sake, stay where you are, sir, till I get up to you, for if we part from one another, we're both lost. Where are you, sir?"
"Curse you, sirra," replied his master angrily, "is this either a time or place to jest in? A man that would make a jest in such a situation as this would dance on his father's tombstone."
"By my soul, sir, and I'd give a five-pound note, if I had it, that you and I were dancing 'Jig Polthogue' on it this minute. But, in the mane time, the devil a one o' me sees the joke your honor speaks of."
"Why, then, do you ask me where I am, when you know I'm astray, that we're both astray, you snivelling old whelp? By the great and good King William, I'll be lost, Andy!"
"Well, and even if you are, sir," replied Andy, who, guided by his voice, had now approached and joined him; "even if you are, sir, I trust you'll bear it like a Christian and a Trojan."
"Get out, you old sniveller—what do you mean by a Trojan?"
"A Trojan, sir, I was tould, is a man that lives by sellin' wild-fowl. They take an oath, sir, before they begin the trade, never to die until they can't help it."
"You mean to say, or to hint at least, that in addition to our other dangers we run the risk of coming in contact with poachers?"
"Well, then, sir, if I don't mistake they're out to-night. However, don't let us alarm one another. God forbid that I'd say a single word to frighten you; but still, you know yourself that there's many a man not a hundred miles from us that 'ud be glad to mistake you for a target, a mallard, or any other wild-fowl or that description."
"In the meantime we are both well armed," replied his master; "but what I fear most is the risk we run of falling down precipices, or walking into lakes or quagmires. What's to be done? This fog is so cursedly cold that it has chilled my very blood into ice."
"Our best plan, sir, is to dismount, and keep ourselves warm by taking a pleasant stroll across the country. The horses will take care of themselves. In the meantime keep up your spirits—we'll both want something to console us; but this I can tell you, that devil a bit of tombstone ever will go over either of us, barrin' the sky in heaven; and for our coffins, let us pray to the coffin-maker, bekaise, you see, it's the maddhu ruah * (the foxes), and ravens, and other civilized animals that will coffin us both by instalments in their hungry guts, until our bones will be beautiful to look at—afther about six months' bleaching—and a sharp eye 'twould be that 'ud know the difference between masther and man then, I think."
We omitted to say that a piercing and most severe hoar frost had set in with the fog, and that Cummiskey's master felt the immediate necessity of dismounting, and walking about, in order to preserve some degree of animal heat in his body.
"I cannot bear this, Andy," said he, "and these two gallant animals will never recover it after the severe day's hunting they've had. Poor Fiddler and Piper," he exclaimed, "this has proved a melancholy day to you both. What is to be done, Andy? I am scarcely able to stand, and feel as if my strength had utterly left me."
"What, sir," replied his servant, who was certainly deeply attached to his master, "is it so bad with you as all that comes to? Sure I only thought to amuse you, sir. Come, take courage; I'll whistle, and maybe somebody will come to our relief."
He accordingly put his two fingers into his mouth, and uttered a loud and piercing whistle, after which both stood still for a time, but no reply was given.
"Stop, sir," proceeded Andrew; "I'll give them another touch that'll make them spake, if there's any one near enough to hear us."
He once more repeated the whistle, but with two or three peculiar shakes or variations, when almost instantly one of a similar character was given in reply.
"Thank God," he exclaimed, "be they friends or foes, we have human creatures not far from us. Take courage, sir. How do you feel?"
"Frozen and chilled almost to death," replied his master; "I'll give fifty pounds to any man or party of men that will conduct us safely home."
"I hope in the Almighty," said Andrew to himself in an anxious and apprehensive tone of voice, "that it's not Parrah Ruah (Red Patrick), the red Rapparee, that's in it, and I'm afeered it is, for I think I know his whistle. There's not a man in the three baronies could give such a whistle as that, barring himself. If it is, the masther's a gone man, and I'll not be left behind to tell the story, God protect us!
"What are you saying, Andy?" asked his master: "What were you muttering just now?"
"Nothing, sir, nothing; but there can be no harm, at all events, to look to our pistols. If there should be danger, let us sell our lives like men."
"And so we will, Andy. The country I know is in a disturbed and lawless state, and ever since that unfortunate affair of the priest, I know I am not popular with a great many. I hope we won't come across his Rapparee nephew."
"Whether we do or not, sir, let us look to our firearms. Show me yours till I settle the powdher in them. Why, God bless me, how you are tremblin'."
"It is not from fear, sir," replied the intrepid old man, "but from cold. If any thing should happen me, Andy, let my daughter know that my will is in the oaken cabinet; that is to say, the last I made. She is my heiress—but that she is by the laws of the land. However, as I had disposed of some personal property to other persons, which disposition I have revoked in the will I speak of—my last, as I said—I wish you to let her know where she may find it. Her mother's jewels are also in the same place—but they, too, are hers by right of law—her mother bequeathed them to her."
"All! sir, you are right to remember and think well of that daughter. She has been a guardian angel to you these five years. But why, sir, do you give me this message? Do you think I won't sell my life in defence of yours? If you do you're mistaken."
"I believe it, Andrew; I believe it, Andy," said he again, familiarizing the word; "but if this red Rapparee should murder me, I don't, wish you to sacrifice your life on my account. Make your escape if he should be the person who is approaching us, and convey to my daughter the message I have given you."
At this moment another whistle proceeded from a quarter of the moor much nearer them, and Andy, having handed back the pistols to his master, asked him should he return it.
"Certainly," replied the other, who during all this time was pacing to and fro, in order to keep himself from sinking; "certainly, let us see whether these persons are friends or enemies."
His servant then replied to the whistle, and in a few minutes it was answered again, whilst at the same time a strong but bitter wind arose which cleared away the mist, and showed them with considerable distinctness the position which they occupied.
Within about ten yards of them, to the left, the very direction in which they had been proceeding, was a small deep lake' or tarn, utterly shoreless, and into which they unquestionably would have walked and perished, as neither of them knew how to swim. The clearing away of the mist, and the light of the stars (for the moon had not yet risen), enabled the parties to see each other, and in a few minutes Andrew and his master were joined by four men, the principal person among them being the identical individual whom they both had dreaded—the Red Rapparee.
"Master," said Cummiskey, in a whisper, on seeing them approach, "we must fight for it, I'm afeered, but let us not be rash; there may be a friend or two among them, and it is better to come off peaceably if we can."
"I agree with you," replied his master. "There is no use in shedding unnecessary blood; but, in any event, let us not permit them to disarm us, should they insist on doing so. They know I never go three yards from my hall-door without arms, and it is not improbable they may make a point of taking them from us. I, however, for one, will not trust to their promises, for I know their treachery, as I do their cowardice, when their numbers are but few, and an armed opponent or two before them, determined to give battle. Stand, therefore, by me, Andy, and, by King William, should they have re-course to violence, we shall let them see, and feel too, that we are not unprepared."
"I have but one life, sir," replied his faithful follower; "it was spent—at least its best days were—in your service, and sooner than any danger should come to you, it will be lost in your defence. If it was only for the sake of her, that is not here, the Cooleen Bawn, I would do it."
"Who goes there?" asked a deep and powerful voice when the parties had come within about twenty yards of each other.
"By the powers!" exclaimed Andrew in a whisper, "it's himself the Red Rapparee!"
"We are friends," he replied, "and have lost our way."
The other party approached, and, on joining our travellers, the Rapparee started, exclaiming, "What, noble Squire, is it possible that this is you? Hut! it can't be—let me look at you closer, till I make sure of you."
"Keep your distance, sir," replied the old man with courage and dignity; "keep your distance; you see that I and my servant are both well armed, and determined to defend ourselves against violence."
An ominous and ferocious glance passed from the Rapparee to his comrades, who, however, said nothing, but seemed to be resolved to guide themselves altogether by his conduct. The Red Rapparee was a huge man of about forty, and the epithet of "Red" had been given to him in consequence of the color of his hair. In expression his countenance was by no means unhandsome, being florid and symmetrical, but hard, and with scarcely any trace of feeling. His brows were far asunder, arguing ingenuity and invention, but his eyes, which were small and treacherous, glared—whenever he became excited—with the ferocity of an enraged tiger. His shoulders were broad, his chest deep and square, his arms long and powerful, but his lower limbs were somewhat light in proportion to the great size of his upper figure. This, however, is generally the case when a man combines in his own person the united qualities of activity and strength. Even at the period we are describing, when this once celebrated character was forty years of age, it was well known that in fleetness of foot there was no man in the province able to compete with him. In athletic exercises that required strength and skill he never had a rival, but one—with whom the reader will soon be made acquainted. He was wrapped loosely in a gray frieze big-coat, or cothamore, as it is called in Irish—wore a hat of two colors, and so pliant in texture that he could at any time turn it inside out. His coat was—as indeed were all his clothes—made upon the time principle, so that when hard pressed by the authorities he could in a minute or two transmute himself into the appearance of a nun very different from the individual described to them. Indeed he was such a perfect Proteus that no vigilance of the Executive was ever a match for his versatility of appearance, swiftness of foot, and caution. These frequent defeats of the authorities of that day made him extremely popular with the people, who were always ready to afford him shelter and means of concealment, in return for which he assisted them with food, money, and the spoils of his predatory life. This, indeed, was the sagacious principle of the Irish Robbers and Rapparees from the beginning to rob from the rich and give to the poor being their motto.
The persons who accompanied him on this occasion were three of his own gang, who usually constituted his body-guard, and acted as videttes, either for his protection or for the purpose of bringing him information of such travellers as from their known wealth or external appearance might be supposed worth attacking. They were well-made, active, and athletic men, in whom it would not be easy to recognise any particular character at variance with that of the peasantry around them. It is unnecessary to say that they were all armed. Having satisfied himself as to the identity of master and man, with a glance at his companions, the Rapparee said,
"What on earth brought you and Andy Cummiskey here, noble squire? Oh! you lost your way Andy says. Well now," he proceeded, "you know I have been many a day and night on the lookout for you; aye, could have put daylight through you many and many a time; and what do you think prevented me?"
"Fear of God, or of the gallows, I hope," replied the intrepid old man.
"Well," returned the Rapparee, with a smile of scorn, "I'm not a man—as I suppose you may know—that ever feared either of them much—God forgive me for the one, I don't ask his forgiveness for the other. No, Squire Folliard, it was the goodness, the kindness, the generosity, and the charity of the Cooleen Bawn, your lovely daughter, that held my hand. You persecuted my old uncle, the priest, and you would a' hanged him too, for merely marryin' a Protestant and a Catholic together. Well, sir, your fair daughter, and her good mother—that's now in heaven, I hope—went up to Dublin to the Lord Lieutenant, and before him the Cooleen Bawn, went on her two knees and begged my uncle's life, and got it; for the Lord Lieutenant said that no one could deny her any thing. Now, sir, for her sake, go home in peace. Boys, get their horses."
Andy Cummiskey would have looked upon all this as manly and generous, but he could not help observing a particular and rather sinister meaning in the look which the Rapparee turned on his companions as he spoke. He had often heard, too, of his treacherous disposition and his unrelenting cruelty whenever he entertained a feeling of vengeance. In his present position, however, all he could do was to stand on his guard; and with this impression strong upon him he resolved to put no confidence in the words of the Rapparee. In a few minutes the horses were brought up, and Randy (Randall) Ruah having wiped Mr. Folliard's saddle—for such was his name—with the skirt of his cothamore, and removed the hoar frost or rime which had gathered on it, he brought the animal over to him, and said, with a kind of rude courtesy,
"Come, sir, trust me; I will help you to your saddle."
"You have not the reputation of being trustworthy," replied Mr. Folliard; "keep back, sir, at your peril; I will not trust you. My own servant will assist me."
This seemed precisely the arrangement which the Rapparee and his men had contemplated. The squire, in mounting, was obliged, as every man is, to use both his hands, as was his servant also, while assisting him. They consequently put up their pistols until they should get into the saddles, and, almost in an instant, found themselves disarmed, and prisoners in the hands of these lawless and unscrupulous men.
"Now, Squire Folliard," exclaimed the Rapparee, "see what it is not to trust an honest man; had you done so, not a hair of your head would be injured. As it is, I'll give you five minutes to do three things; remember my uncle, the priest, that you transported."
"He acted most illegally, sir," replied the old man indignantly; "and, in my opinion, I say that, in consequence of his conduct, the country had a good riddance of him. I only wish I could send you after him; perhaps I shall do so yet. I believe in Providence, sirra, and that God can protect me from your violence even here."
"In the next place," proceeded the Rapparee, "think of your daughter, that you will never see again, either in this world or the next."
"I know I am unworthy of having such an angel," replied the old man, "but unless you were a cruel and a heartless ruffian, you would not at this moment mention her, or bring the thoughts of her to my recollection."
"In the last place," continued the other, "if you have any thing to say in the shape of a prayer, say it, for in five minutes' time there will be a bullet through your heart, and in five more you will be snug and warm at the bottom of the loch there below—that's your doom."
"O'Donnel," said Andy, "think that there's a God above you. Surely you wouldn't murdher this ould man and make the sowl within your body redder—if the thing's possible—than the head that's on the top of it, though in throth I don't think it's by way of ornament it's there either. Come, come, Randal, my man, this is all feastalagh (nonsense). You only want to frighten the gentleman. As for your uncle, man alive, all I can say is that he was a friend to your family, and to religion too, that sent him on his travels."
"Take off your gallowses" (braces)! said the Rapparee; "take them off, a couple of you—for, by all the powers of darkness, they'll both go to the bottom of the loch together, back to back. Down you'll go, Andy."
"By my soul, then," replied the unflinching servant, "if we go down you'll go up; and we have those belongin' to us that will see you kiss the hangman yet. Yerra, now, above all words in the alphabet what could put a gallows into your mouth? Faith, Randal, it's about your neck it'll go, and you'll put out your tongue at the daicent people that will attend your own funeral yet—that is, if you don't let us off."
"Put them both to their knees," said the Rapparee in a voice of thunder, "to their knees with them. I'll take the masther, and, Kineely, do you take the man."
The companions of the Rapparee could not avoid laughing at the comic courage displayed by Cummiskey, and were about to intercede for him, when O'Donnel, which was his name, stamped with fury on the ground and asked them if they dared to disobey him. This sobered them at once, and in less than a minute Mr. Folliard and Andy were placed upon their knees, to await the terrific sentence which was about to be executed on them, in that wild and lonely moor, and under such appalling circumstances. When placed in the desired posture, to ask that mercy from God which they were not about to experience at the hands of man, Squire Folliard spoke:
"Red Rapparee," said he, "it is not that I am afraid of death as such, but I feel that I am not prepared to die. Suffer my servant and myself to go home without harm, and I shall engage not only to get you a pardon from the Government of the country, but I shall furnish you with money either to take you to some useful calling, or to emigrate to some foreign country, where nobody will know of your misdeeds, or the life you have led here."
"Randal, my man," added Andy, "listen to what the gentleman says, and you may escape what you know yet. As for my master, Randal, let him pass, and take me in his place. I may as well die now, maybe, as another time. I was an honest, faithful servant, at all times. I have neither chick nor child to cry for me. No wife, thank God, to break my heart afther. My conscience is light and airy, like a beggarmans blanket, as they say; and, barrin' that I once got drunk wid your uncle in Moll Flanagan's sheebeen house, I don't know that I have much to trouble me. Spare him, then, and take me, if it must come to that. He has the Cooleen Bawn to think for. Do you think of her, too; and remember that it was she who saved your uncle from the gallows."
This unlucky allusion only deepened the vengeance of the Red Rapparee, who looked to the priming of his gun, and was in the act of preparing to perpetrate this most in-human and awful murder, when all interruption took place for which neither party was prepared.
Now, it so happened that within about eight or ten yards of where they stood there existed the walls and a portion of the arched roof of one of those old ecclesiastical ruins, which our antiquarians denominate Cyclopean, like lucus a non lucendo, because scarcely a dozen men could kneel in them. Over this sad ruin was what sportsmen term "a pass" for duck and widgeon, and, aided by the shelter of the building, any persons who stationed themselves there could certainly commit great havoc among the wild-fowl in question. The Red Rapparee then had his gun in his hand, and was in the very act of adjusting it to his shoulder, when a powerful young man sprung forward, and dashing it aside, exclaimed:
"What is this, Randal? Is it a double murder you are about to execute, you inhuman ruffian?"
The Rapparee glared at him, but with a quailing and subdued, yet sullen and vindictive, expression.
"Stand up, sir," proceeded this daring and animated young man, addressing Mr. Folliard; "and you, Cummiskey, get to your legs. No person shall dare to injure either of you while I am here. O'Donnel—stain and disgrace to a noble name—begone, you and your ruffians. I know the cause of your enmity against this gentleman; and I tell you now, that if you were as ready to sustain your religion as you are to disgrace it by your conduct, you would not become a curse to it and the country, nor give promise of feeding a hungry gallows some day, as you and your accomplices will do."
Whilst the young stranger addressed these miscreants with such energy and determination, Mr. Folliard, who, as well as his servant, had now got to his legs, asked the latter in a whisper who he was.
"By all that's happy, sir," he replied, "it's himself, the only man living that the Red Rapparee is afraid of; it's 'Willy Reilly.'"
CHAPTER II. The Cooleen Baum.
The old man became very little wiser by the information of his servant, and said in reply, "I hope, Andy, he's not a Papist;" but checking the unworthy prejudice—and in him such prejudices were singularly strong in words, although often feeble in fact he added, "it matters not—we owe our lives to him—the deepest and most important obligation that one man can owe to another. I am, however, scarcely able to stand; I feel be-numbed and exhausted, and wish to get home as soon as possible."
"Mr. Reilly," said Andy, "this gentleman is very weak and ill; and as you have acted so much like a brave man and a gentleman, maybe you'd have no objection to see us safe home."
"It is my intention to do so," replied Reilly. "I could not for a moment think of leaving either him or you to the mercy of this treacherous man, who dishonors a noble name. Randal," he proceeded, addressing the Rapparee, "mark my words!—if but a single hair of this gentleman's head, or of any one belonging to him, is ever injured by you or your gang, I swear that you and they will swing, each of you, from as many gibbets, as soon as the course of the law can reach you. You know me, sir, and my influence over those who protect you. As for you, Fergus," he added, addressing one of the Rapparee's followers, "you are, thank God! the only one of my blood who has ever disgraced it by leading such a lawless and guilty life. Be advised by me—leave that man of treachery,rapine, and murder—abandon him and re-form your life—and if you are disposed to become a good and an industrious member of society, go to some other country, where the disgrace you have incurred in this may not follow you. Be advised by me, and you shall not want the means of emigrating. Now begone; and think, each of you, of what I have said."
The Rapparee glanced at the noble-looking young fellow with the vindictive ferocity of an enraged bull, who feels a disposition to injure you, but is restrained by terror; or, which is quite as appropriate, a cowardly but vindictive mastiff, who eyes you askance, growls, shows his teeth, but has not the courage to attack you.
"Do not look at me so, sir," said Reilly; "you know I fear you not."
"But the meantime," replied the Rapparee, "what's to prevent me from putting a bullet into you this moment, if I wish to do it?"
"There are ten thousand reasons against it," returned Reilly. "If you did so, in less than twenty-four hours you would find yourself in Sligo jail—or, to come nearer the truth, in less than five minutes you would find yourself in hell."
"Well, now, suppose I should make the trial," said the Rapparee. "You don't know, Mr. Reilly, how you have crossed me to-night. Suppose now I should try—and suppose, too, that not one of you three should leave the spot you stand on only as corpses—wouldn't I have the advantage of you then?"
Reilly turned towards the ruined chapel, and simply raising his right hand, about eight or ten persons made their appearance; but, restrained by signal from him, they did not advance.
"That will do," said he. "Now, Randal, I hope you understand your position. Do not provoke me again; for if you do I will surround you with toils from which you could as soon change your fierce and brutal nature as escape. Yes, and I will take you in the midst of your ruffian guards, and in the deepest of your fastnesses, if ever you provoke me as you have done on other occasions, or if you ever injure this gentleman or any individual of his family. Come, sir," he proceeded, addressing the old man, "you are now mounted—my horse is in this old ruin—and in a moment I shall be ready to accompany you."
Reilly and his companions joined our travellers, one of the former having offered the old squire a large frieze great-coat, which he gladly accepted, and having thus formed a guard of safety for him and his faithful attendant, they regained the old road we I have described, and resumed their journey.
When they had gone, the Rapparee and his companions looked after them with blank faces for some minutes.
"Well," said their leader, "Reilly has knocked up our game for this night. Only for him I'd have had a full and sweet revenge. However, never mind: it'll go hard with me, or I'll have it yet. In the mane time it won't be often that such another opportunity will come in our way."
"Well, now that it is over, what was your intention, Randal?" asked the person to whom Reilly had addressed himself.
"Why," replied the miscreant, "after the deed was done, what was to prevent us from robbing the house to-night, and taking away his daughter to the mountains. I have long had my eye on her, I can tell you, and it'll cost me a fall, or I'll have her yet."
"You had better," replied Fergus Reilly, for such was his name, "neither make nor meddle with that family afther this night. If you do, that terrible relation of mine will hang you like a dog."
"How will he hang me like a dog?" asked the Rapparee, knitting his shaggy eyebrows, and turning upon him a fierce and gloomy look.
"Why, now, Randal, you know as well as I do," replied the other, "that if he only raised his finger against you in the country, the very people that harbor both you and us would betray us, aye, seize us, and bind us hand and foot, like common thieves, and give us over to the authorities. But as for himself, I believe you have sense enough to let him alone. When you took away Mary Traynor, and nearly kilt her brother, the young priest—you know they were Reilly's tenants—I needn't tell you what happened: in four hours' time he had the country up, followed you and your party—I wasn't with you then, but you know it's truth I'm spakin'—and when he had five to one against you, didn't he make them stand aside until he and you should decide it between you? Aye, and you know he could a' brought home every man of you tied neck and heels, and would, too, only that there was a large reward offered for the takin' of you livin' or dead, and he scorned to have any hand in it on that account."
"It was by a chance blow he hit me," said the Rapparee—"by a chance blow."
"By a couple dozen chance blows," replied the other; "you know he knocked you down as fast as ever you got up—I lave it to the boys here that wor present."
"There's no use in denyin' it, Randal," they replied; "you hadn't a chance wid him."
"Well, at all events," observed the Rapparee, "if he did beat me, he's the only man in the country able to do it; but it's not over, curse him—Ill have another trial with him yet."
"If you take my advice," replied Reilly, "you'll neither make nor meddle with him. He's the head o' the Catholics in this part of the country, and you know that; aye, and he's their friend, and uses the friendship that the Protestants have towards him for their advantage, wherever he can. The man that would injure Willy Reilly is an enemy to our religion, as well as to every thing that's good and generous; and mark me, Randal, if ever you cross him in what he warned you against this very night, I'll hang you myself, if there wasn't another livin' man to do it, and to the back o' that again I say you must shed no blood so long as I am with you."
"That won't be long, then," replied the Rapparee, pulling out a purse; "there's twenty guineas for you, and go about your business; but take care, no treachery."
"No," replied the other, "I'll have none of your money; there's blood in it. God forgive me for ever joinin' you. When I want money I can get it; as for treachery, there's none of it in my veins; good-night, and remember my words."
Having thus spoken, he took his way along the same road by which the old squire and his party went.
"That fellow will betray us," said the Rapparee.
"No," replied his companions firmly, "there never was treachery in his part of the family; he is not come from any of the Queen's O'Reillys.* We wish you were as sure of every man you have as you may be of him."
* Catholic families who were faithful and loyal to Queen Elizabeth during her wars in Ireland were stigmatized by the nickname of the Queen's friends, to distinguish them from others of the same name who had opposed her, on behalf of their religion, in the wars which desolated Ireland during her reign; a portion of the family of which we write were on this account designated as the Queen's O'Reillys.
"Well, now," observed their leader, "a thought strikes me; this ould squire will be half dead all night. At any rate he'll sleep like a top. Wouldn't it be a good opportunity to attack the house—aise him of his money, for he's as rich as a Jew—and take away the Colleen Bawn? We'll call at Shane Bearna's** stables on our way and bring the other boys along wid us. What do you say?"
** Shane Bearna was a celebrated Rapparee, who, among his other exploits, figured principally as a horse-stealer. He kept the stolen animals concealed in remote mountain caves, where he trimmed and dyed them in such a way as made it impossible to recognize them. These caves are curiosities at the present day, and are now known as Shane Bearna's Stables. He was a chief in the formidable gang of the celebrated Redmond O'Manion. It is said of him that he was called Bearna because he never had any teeth; but tradition tells us that he could, notwithstanding, bite a piece out of a thin plate of iron with as much ease as if it were gingerbread.
"Why, that you'll hang yourself, and every man of us."
"Nonsense, you cowardly dogs," replied their leader indignantly; "can't we lave the country?"
"Well, if you're bent on it," replied his followers, "we won't be your hindrance."
"We can break up, and be off to America," he added.
"But what will you do with the Cooleen Bawn, if you take her?" they asked.
"Why, lave her behind us, afther showin' the party creature the inside of Shane Bearea's stables. She'll be able to find her way back to her father's, never fear. Come, boys, now or never. To say the truth, the sooner we get out of the country, at all events, the better."
The Rapparee and his men had moved up to the door of the old chapel already alluded to, whilst this conversation went on; and now that their dreadful project had been determined on, they took a short cut across the moors, in order to procure additional assistance for its accomplishment.
No sooner had they gone, however, than an individual, who had been concealed in the darkness within, came stealthily to the door, and peeping cautiously out, at length advanced a few steps and looked timidly about him. Perceiving that the coast was clear, he placed himself under the shadow of the old walls—for there was now sufficient light to cast a shadow from any prominent object; and from thence having observed the direction which the Rapparee and his men took, without any risk of being seen himself, he appeared satisfied. The name of this individual—who, although shrewd and cunning in many things, was nevertheless deficient in reason—or rather the name by which he generally went, was Tom Steeple, a sobriquet given to him on account of a predominant idea which characterized and influenced his whole conversation. The great delight of this poor creature was to be considered the tallest individual in the kingdom, and indeed nothing could be more amusing than to witness the manner in which he held up his head while he walked, or sat, or stood. In fact his walk was a complete strut, to which the pride, arising from the consciousness of, or rather the belief in, his extraordinary height gave an extremely ludicrous appearance. Poor Tom was about five feet nine in height, but imagined himself to be at least a foot higher. His whole family were certainly tall, and one of the greatest calamities of the poor fellow's life was a bitter reflection that he himself was by several inches the lowest of his race. This was the only exception he made with respect to height, but so deeply did it affect him that he could scarcely ever allude to it without shedding tears. The life he had was similar in most respects to that of his unhappy class. He wandered about through the country, stopping now at one farmer's house, and now at another's, where he always experienced a kind reception, because he was not only amusing and inoffensive, but capable of making himself useful as a messenger and drudge. He was never guilty of a dishonest act, nor ever known to commit a breach of trust; and as a quick messenger, his extraordinary speed of foot rendered him unrivalled. His great delight, however, was to attend sportsmen, to whom he was invaluable as a guide and director. Such was his wind and speed of foot that, aided by his knowledge of what is termed the lie of the country, he was able to keep up with any pack of hounds that ever went out. As a soho man he was unrivalled. The form of every hare for miles about was known to him, and if a fox or a covey of partridges were to be found at all, he was your man. In wild-fowl shooting he was infallible. No pass of duck, widgeon, barnacle, or curlew, was unknown to him. In fact, his principal delight was to attend the gentry of the country to the field, either with harrier, foxhound, or setter. No coursing match went right if Torn were not present; and as for night shooting, his eye and ear were such as, for accuracy of observation, few have ever witnessed. It is true he could subsist a long time without food, but, like the renowned Captain Dalgetty, when an abundance of it happened to be placed before him, he displayed the most indefensible ignorance as to all knowledge of the period when he ought to stop, considering it his bounden duty on all occasions to clear off whatever was set before him—a feat which he always accomplished with the most signal success.
"Aha" exclaimed Tom, "dat Red Rapparee is tall man, but not tall as Tom; him no steeple like Tom; but him rogue and murderer, an' Tom honest; him won't carry off Cooleen Bawn dough, nor rob her fader avder. Come, Tom, Steeple Tom, out with your two legs, one afore toder, and put Rapparee's nose out o' joint. Cooleen Bawn dats good to everybody, Catlieks (Catholics) an' all, an' often ordered Tom many a bully dinner. Hicko! hicko! be de bones of Peter White—off I go!"
Tom, like many other individuals of his description, was never able to get over the language of childhood—a characteristic which is often appended to the want of reason, and from which, we presume, the term "innocent" has been applied in an especial manner to those who are remarkable for the same defect.
Having uttered the words we have just recited, he started off at a gait, peculiar to fools, which is known by the name of "a sling trot," and after getting out upon the old road he turned himself in the direction which Willy Reilly and his party had taken, and there we beg to leave him for the present.
The old squire felt his animal heat much revived by the warmth of the frieze coat, and his spirits, now that the dreadful scene into which he had been so unexpectedly cast had passed away without danger, began to rise so exuberantly that his conversation became quite loquacious and mirthful, if not actually, to a certain extent, incoherent.
"Sir," said he, "you must come home with me—confound me, but you must, and you needn't say nay, now, for I shall neither take excuse nor apology. I am a hospitable man, Mr.—what's this your name is?"
"My name, sir," replied the other, "is Reilly—William Reilly, or, as I am more generally called, Willy Reilly. The name, sir, though an honorable one, is, in this instance, that of an humble man, but one who, I trust, will never disgrace it."
"You must come home with me, Mr. Reilly. Not a word now."
"Such is my intention, sir," replied Reilly. "I shall not leave you until I see that all risk of danger is past—until I place you safely under your own roof."
"Well, now," continued the old squire, "I believe a Papist can be a gentleman—a brave man—a man of honor, Mr. Reilly."
"I am not aware that there is any thing in his religion to make him either dishonorable or cowardly, sir," replied Reilly with a smile.
"No matter," continued the other, who found a good deal of difficulty in restraining his prejudices on that point, no matter, sir, no matter, Mr.—a—a—oh, yes, Reilly, we will have nothing to do with religion—away with it—confound religion, sir, if it prevents one man from being thankful, and grateful too, to another, when that other has saved his life. What's your state and condition in society, Mr.—? confound the scoundrel! he'd have shot me. We must hang that fellow—the Red Rapparee they call him—a dreadful scourge to the country; and, another thing, Mr.—Mr. Mahon—you must come to my daughter's wedding. Not a word now—by the great Boyne, you must. Have you ever seen my daughter, sir?"
"I have never had that pleasure," replied Reilly, "but I have heard enough of her wonderful goodness and beauty."
"Well, sir, I tell you to your teeth that I deny your words—you have stated a falsehood, sir—a lie, sir."
"What do you mean, sir?" replied Reilly, somewhat indignantly. "I am not in the habit of stating a falsehood, nor of submitting tamely to such an imputation."
"Ha, ha, ha, I say it's a lie still, my friend. What did you say? Why, that you had heard enough of her goodness and beauty. Now, sir, by the banks of the Boyne, I say you didn't hear half enough of either one or other. Sir, you should know her, for although you are a Papist you are a brave man, and a gentleman. Still, sir, a Papist is not—curse it, this isn't handsome of me, Willy. I beg your pardon. Confound all religions if it goes to that. Still at the same time I'm bound to say as a loyal man that Protestantism is my forte, Mr. Reilly—there's where I'm strong, a touch of Hercules about me there, Mr. Reilly—Willy, I mean. Well, you are a thorough good fellow, Papist and all, though you—ahem!—never mind though, you shall see my daughter, and you shall hear my daughter; for, by the great Boyne, she must salute the man that saved her father's life, and prevented her from being an orphan. And yet see, Willy, I love that girl to such a degree that if heaven was open for me this moment, and that Saint Peter—hem!—I mean the Apostle Peter, slid to me, 'Come, Folliard, walk in, sir,' by the great Deliverer that saved us from Pope and Popery, brass money, and—ahem! I beg your pardon—well, I say if he was to say so, I wouldn't leave her. There's affection for you; but she deserves it. No, if ever a girl was capable of keeping an old father from heaven she is."
"I understand your meaning, sir," replied Reilly with a smile, "and I believe she is loved by every one who has the pleasure of knowing her—by rich and poor."
"Troth, Mr. Reilly," observed Andy, "it's a sin for any one to let their affections, even for one of their own childer, go between them and heaven. As for the masther, he makes a god of her. To be sure if ever there was an angel in this world she is one."
"Get out, you old whelp," exclaimed his master; "what do you know about it?—you who never had wife or child? isn't she my only child?—the apple of my eye? the love of my heart?"
"If you loved her so well you wouldn't make her unhappy then."
"What do you mean, you despicable old Papist?"
"I mean that you wouldn't marry her to a man she doesn't like, as you're goin' to do. That's a bad way to make her happy, at any rate."
"Overlook the word Papist, Mr. Reilly, that I applied to that old idolater—the fellow worships images; of course you know, as a Papist, he does—ahem!—but to show you that I don't hate the Papist without exception, I beg to let you know, sir, that I frequently have the Papist priest of our parish to dine with me; and if that isn't liberality the devil's in it. Isn't that true, you superstitious old Padareen? No, Mr. Reilly, Mr. Mahon—Willy, I mean—I'm a liberal man, and I hope we'll be all saved yet, with the exception of the Pope—ahem! yes, I hope we shall all be saved."
"Throth, sir," said Andy, addressing himself to Reilly, "he's a quare gentleman, this. He's always abusing the Papists, as he calls us, and yet for every Protestant servant undher his roof he has three Papists, as he calls us. His bark, sir, is worse than his bite, any day."
"I believe it," replied Reilly in a low voice, "and it's a pity that a good and benevolent man should suffer these idle prejudices to sway him."
"Divil a bit they sway him, sir," replied Andy; "he'll damn and abuse them and their religion, and yet he'll go any length to serve one o' them, if they want a friend, and has a good character. But here, now we're at the gate of the avenue, and you'll soon see the Cooleen Bawn"
"Hallo!" the squire shouted out, "what the devil! are you dead or asleep there? Brady, you Papist scoundrel, why not open the gate?"
The porter's wife came out as he uttered the words, saying, "I beg your honor's pardon. Ned is up at the Castle;" and whilst speaking she opened the gate.
"Ha, Molly!" exclaimed her master in a tone of such bland good nature as could not for a moment be mistaken; "well, Molly, how is little Mick? Is he better, poor fellow?"
"He is, thank God, and your honor."
"Hallo, Molly," said the squire, laughing, "that's Popery again. You are thanking God and me as if we were intimate acquaintances. None of that foolish Popish nonsense. When you thank God, thank him; and when you thank me, why thank me; but don't unite us, as you do him and your Popish saints, for I tell you, Molly, I'm no saint; God forbid! Tell the doctorman to pay him every attention, and to send his bill to me when the child is properly recovered; mark that—properly recovered."
A noble avenue, that swept along with two or three magnificent bends, brought them up to a fine old mansion of the castellated style, where the squire and his two equestrian attendants dismounted, and were ushered into the parlor, which they found brilliantly lighted up with a number of large wax tapers. The furniture of the room was exceedingly rich, but somewhat curious and old-fashioned. It was such, however, as to give ample proof of great wealth and comfort, and, by the heat of a large peat fire which blazed in the capacious hearth, it communicated that sense of warmth which was in complete accordance with the general aspect of the apartment. An old gray-haired butler, well-powdered, together with two or three other servants in rich livery, now entered, and the squire's first inquiry was after his daughter.
"John," said he to the butler, "how is your mistress?" but, without waiting for a reply, he added, "here are twenty pounds, which you will hand to those fine fellows at the hall-door."
"Pardon me, sir," replied Reilly, "those men are my tenants, and the sons of my tenants: they have only performed towards you a duty, which common humanity would require at their hands towards the humblest person that lives."
"They must accept it, Mr. Reilly—they must have it—they are humble men—and as it is only the reward of a kind office, I think it is justly due to them. Here, John, give them the money."
It was in vain that Reilly interposed; the old squire would not listen to him. John was, accordingly, dispatched to the hall steps, but found that they had all gone.
At this moment our friend Toni Steeple met the butler, whom he approached with a kind of wild and uncouth anxiety.
"Aha! Mista John," said he, "you tall man too, but not tall as Tom Steeple—ha, ha—you good man too, Mista John—give Tom bully dinners—Willy Reilly, Mista John, want to see Willy Reilly."
"What do you want with him, Tom? he's engaged with the master."
"Must see him, Mista John; stitch in time saves nine. Hicko! hicko! God's sake, Mista John: God's sake! Up dere;" and as he spoke he pointed towards the sky.
"Well, but what is your business, then? What have you to say to him? He's engaged, I tell you."
Tom, apprehensive that he might not get an opportunity of communicating with Reilly, bolted in, and as the parlor door stood open, he saw him standing near the large chimney-piece.
"Willy Reilly!" he exclaimed in a voice that trembled with earnestness, "Willy Reilly, dere's news for you—for de squire too—bad news—God's sake come wid Tom—you tall too, Willy Reilly, but not tall as Tom is."
"What is the matter, Tom?" asked Reilly; "you look alarmed."
"God's sake, here, Willy Reilly," replied the kind-hearted fool, "come wid Tom. Bad news."
"Hallo!" exclaimed the squire, "what is the matter? Is this Tom Steeple? Go to the kitchen, Tom, and get one of your 'bully dinners'—my poor fellow—off with you—and a pot of beer, Tom."
An expression of distress, probably heightened by his vague and unconscious sense of the squire's kindness, was depicted strongly on his countenance, and ended in a burst of tears.
"Ha!" exclaimed Reilly, "poor Tom, sir, was with us to-night on our duck-shooting excursion, and, now that I remember, remained behind us in the old ruin—and then he is in tears. What can this mean? I will go with you, Tom—excuse me, sir, for a few minutes—there can be no harm in hearing what he has to say."
He accompanied the fool, with whom he remained for about six or eight minutes, after which he re-entered the parlor with a face which strove in vain to maintain its previous expression of ease and serenity.
"Well, Willy?" said the squire—"you see, by the way, I make an old acquaintance of you—"
"You do me honor, sir," replied Reilly. "Well, what was this mighty matter? Not a fool's message, I hope? eh!"
"No, sir," said the other, "but a matter of some importance."
"John," asked his master, as the butler entered, "did you give those worthy fellows the money?"
"No, your honor," replied the other, they were gone before I went out."
"Well, well," replied his master, "it can't be helped. You will excuse me, Mr.—a—a—yes—Mr. Reilly—Willy—Willy—ay, that's it—you will excuse me, Willy, for not bringing you to the drawing room. The fact is, neither of us is in a proper trim to go there—both travel-soiled, as they say—you with duck-shooting and I with a long ride—besides, I am quite too much fatigued to change my dress—John, some Madeira. I'm better than I was—but still dreadfully exhausted and afterwards, John, tell your mistress that her father wishes to see her here. First, the Madeira, though, till I recruit myself a little. A glass or two will do neither of us any harm, Willy, but a great deal of good. God bless me! what an escape I've had! what a dreadful fate you rescued me from, my young friend and preserver—for as such I will ever look upon, you."
"Sir," replied Reilly, "I will not deny that the appearance of myself and my companions, in all probability, saved your life."
"There was no probability in it, Willy—none at all; it would have been a dead certainty in every sense. My God! here, John—put it down here—fill for that gentleman and me—thank you, John—Willy," he said as he took the glass in his trembling hand—"Willy—John, withdraw and send down, my daughter—Willy"—the old man looked at him, but was too full to utter a word. At this moment his daughter entered the room, and her father, laying down the glass, opened his arms, and said in a choking voice, "Helen, my daughter—my child—come to me;" and as she threw herself into them he embraced her tenderly and wept aloud.
"Dear papa!" she exclaimed, after the first burst of his grief was over, "what has affected you so deeply? Why are you so agitated?"
"Look at that noble young man," he exclaimed, directing her attention to Reilly, who was still standing. "Look at him, my life, and observe him well; there he stands who has this night saved your loving father from the deadly aim of an assassin—from being murdered by O'Donnel, the Red Rapparee, in the lonely moors."
Reilly, from the moment the far-famed Cooleen Dawn entered the room, heard not a syllable the old man had said. He was absorbed, entranced, struck with a sensation of wonder, surprise, agitation, joy, and confusion, all nearly at the same moment. Such a blaze of beauty, such elegance of person, such tenderness and feeling as chastened the radiance of her countenance into something that might be termed absolutely divine; such symmetry of form; such harmony of motion; such a seraphic being in the shape of woman, he had, in fact, never seen or dreamt of. She seemed as if surrounded by an atmosphere of light, of dignity, of goodness, of grace; but that which, above all, smote him, heart on, the moment was the spirit of tenderness and profound sensibility which seemed to predominate in her whole being. Why did his manly and intrepid heart palpitate? Why did such a strange confusion seize upon him? Why did the few words which she uttered in her father's arms fill his ears with a melody that charmed him out of his strength? Alas! is it necessary to ask? To those who do not understand this mystery, no explanation could be of any avail; and to those who do, none is necessary.
After her father had spoken, she raised herself from his arms, and assuming her full height—and she was tall—looked for a moment with her dark, deep, and terrible eyes upon Reilly, who in the meantime felt rapt, spell-bound, and stood, whilst his looks were riveted upon these irresistible orbs, as if he had been attracted by the influence of some delightful but supernatural power, under which he felt himself helpless.
That mutual gaze and that delightful moment! alas! how many hours of misery—of sorrow—of suffering—and of madness did they not occasion!
"Papa has imposed a task upon me, sir," she said, advancing gracefully towards him, her complexion now pale, and again over-spread with deep blushes. "What do I say? Alas—a task! to thank the preserver of my father's life—I know not what I say: help me, sir, to papa—I am weak—I am—"
Reilly flew to her, and caught her in his arms just in time to prevent her from falling.
"My God!" exclaimed her father, getting to his feet, "what is the matter? I was wrong to mention the circumstance so abruptly; I ought to have prepared her for it. You are strong, Reilly, you are strong, and I am too feeble—carry her to the settee. There, God bless you!—God bless you!—she will soon recover. Helen! my child! my life! What, Helen! Come, dearest love, be a woman. I am safe, as you may see, dearest. I tell you I sustained no injury in life—not a hair of nay head was hurt; thanks to Mr. Reilly for it thanks to this gentleman. Oh! that's right, bravo, Helen—bravo, my girl! See that, Reilly, isn't she a glorious creature? She recovers now, to set her old loving father's heart at ease."
The weakness, for it did not amount altogether to insensibility, was only of brief duration.
"Dear papa," said she, raising herself, and withdrawing gently and modestly from Reilly's support, "I was unprepared for the account of this dreadful affair. Excuse me, sir; surely you will admit that a murderous attack on dear papa's life could not be listened to by his only child with indifference. But do let me know how it happened, papa."
"You are not yet equal to it, darling; you are too much agitated."
"I am equal to it now, papa! Pray, let me hear it, and how this gentleman—who will be kind enough to imagine my thanks, for, indeed, no language could express them—and how this gentleman was the means of saving you."
"Perhaps, Miss Folliard," said Reilly, "it would be better to defer the explanation until you shall have gained more strength."
"Oh, no, sir," she replied; "my anxiety to hear it will occasion me greater suffering, I am sure, than the knowledge of it, especially now that papa is safe."
Reilly bowed in acquiescence, but not in consequence of her words; a glance as quick as the lightning, but full of entreaty and gratitude, and something like joy—for who does not know the many languages which the single glance of a lovely woman can speak?—such a glance, we say, accompanied her words, and at once won him to assent.
"Miss Folliard may be right, sir," he observed, "and as the shock has passed, perhaps to make her briefly acquainted with the circumstances will rather relieve her."
"Right," said her father, "so it will, Willy, so it will, especially, thank God, as there has been no harm done. Look at this now! Get away, you saucy baggage! Your poor loving father has only just escaped being shot, and now he runs the risk of being strangled."
"Dear, dear papa," she said, "who could have thought of injuring you—you with your angry tongue, but your generous and charitable and noble heart?" and again she wound her exquisite and lovely arms about his neck and kissed him, whilst a fresh gush of tears came to her eyes.
"Come, Helen—come, love, be quiet now, or I shall not tell you any thing more about my rescue by that gallant young fellow standing before you."
This was followed, on her part, by another glance at Reilly, and the glance was as speedily followed by a blush, and again a host of tumultuous emotions crowded around his heart.
The old man, placing her head upon his bosom, kissed and patted her, after which he related briefly, and in such a way as not, if possible, to excite her afresh, the circumstances with which the reader is already acquainted. At the close, however, when he came to the part which Reilly had borne in the matter, and dwelt at more length on his intrepidity and spirit, and the energy of character and courage with which the quelled the terrible Rapparee, he was obliged to stop for a moment, and say,
"Why, Helen, what is the matter, my darling? Are you getting ill again? Your little heart is going at a gallop—bless me, how it pit-a-pats. There, now, you've heard it all—here I am, safe—and there stands the gentleman to whom, under God, we are both indebted for it. And now let us have dinner, darling, for we have not dined?"
Apologies on the part of Reilly, who really had dined, were flung to the winds by the old squire.
"What matter, Willy? what matter, man?—sit at the table, pick something—curse it, we won't eat you. Your dress? never mind your dress. I am sure Helen here will not find fault with it. Come, Helen, use your influence, love. And you, sir, Willy Reilly, give her your arm." This he added in consequence of dinner having been announced while he spoke; and so they passed into the dining-room.
CHAPTER III.—Daring Attempt of the Red Rapparee
—Mysterious Disappearance of His Gang—The Avowal
We must go back a little. When Helen sank under the dreadful intelligence of the attempt made to assassinate her father, we stated at the time that she was not absolutely insensible; and this was the fact. Reilly, already enraptured by such wonderful grace and beauty as the highest flight of his imagination could never have conceived, when called upon by her father to carry her to the sofa, could scarcely credit his senses that such a lovely and precious burden should ever be entrusted to him, much less borne in his very arms. In order to prevent her from falling, he was literally obliged to throw them around her, and, to a certain extent, to press her—for the purpose of supporting her—against his heart, the pulsations of which were going at a tremendous speed. There was, in fact, something so soft, so pitiable, so beautiful, and at the same time so exquisitely pure and fragrant, in this lovely creature, as her head lay drooping on his shoulder, her pale cheek literally lying against his, that it is not at all to be wondered at that the beatings of his heart were accelerated to an unusual degree. Now she, from her position upon his bosom, necessarily felt this rapid action of its tenant; when, therefore, her father, after her recovery, on reciting for her the fearful events of the evening, and dwelling upon Reilly's determination and courage, expressed alarm at the palpitations of her heart, a glance passed between them which each, once and forever, understood. She had felt the agitation of him who had risked his life in defence of her father, for in this shape the old man had truly put it; and now she knew from her father's observation, as his arm lay upon her own, that the interest which his account of Reilly's chivalrous conduct throughout the whole affair had excited in it were discovered. In this case heart spoke to heart, and by the time they sat down to dinner, each felt conscious that their passion, brief as was the period of their acquaintance, had become, whether for good or evil, the uncontrollable destiny of their lives.
William Reilly was the descendant of an old and noble Irish family. His ancestors had gone through all the vicissitudes and trials, and been engaged in most of the civil broils and wars, which, in Ireland, had characterized the reign of Elizabeth. As we are not disposed to enter into a disquisition upon the history of that stormy period, unless to say that we believe in our souls both parties were equally savage and inhuman, and that there was not, literally, a toss up between them, we have only to add that Reilly's family, at least that branch of it to which he belonged, had been reduced by the ruin that resulted from the civil wars, and the confiscations peculiar to the times. His father had made a good deal of money abroad in business, but feeling that melancholy longing for his native soil, for the dark mountains and the green fields of his beloved country, he returned to it, and having taken a large farm of about a thousand acres, under a peculiar tenure, which we shall mention ere we close, he devoted himself to pasturage and agriculture. Old Reilly had been for some years dead, and his eldest son, William, was now not only the head of his immediate family, but of that great branch of it to which he belonged, although he neither claimed nor exercised the honor. In Reilly, many of those irreconcilable points of character, which scarcely ever meet in the disposition of any but an Irishman, were united. He was at once mild and impetuous; under peculiar circumstances, humble and unassuming, but in others, proud almost to a fault; a bitter foe to oppression in every sense, and to bigotry in every creed. He was highly educated, and as perfect a master of French, Spanish, and German, as he was of either English or Irish, both of which he spoke with equal fluency and purity. To his personal courage we need not make any further allusion. On many occasions it had been well tested on the Continent. He was an expert and unrivalled swordsman, and a first-rate shot, whether with the pistol or fowling-piece.
At every athletic exercise he was matchless; and one great cause of his extraordinary popularity among the peasantry was the pleasure he took in promoting the exercise of such manly sports among them. In his person he combined great strength with remarkable grace and ease. The wonderful symmetry of his form took away apparently from his size; but on looking at and examining him closely, you felt surprised at the astonishing fulness of his proportions and the prodigious muscular power which lay under such deceptive elegance. As for his features, they were replete with that manly expression which changes with, and becomes a candid exponent of, every feeling that influences the heart. His mouth was fine, and his full red lips exquisitely chiselled; his chin was full of firmness; and his large dark eyes, though soft, mellow, and insinuating, had yet a sparkle in them that gave evidence of a fiery spirit when provoked, as well as of a high sense of self-respect and honor. His complexion was slightly bronzed by residence in continental climates, a circumstance that gave a warmth and mellowness to his features, which, when taken into consideration with his black, clustering locks, and the snowy whiteness of his forehead, placed him in the very highest order of handsome men.
Such was our hero, the fame of whose personal beauty, as well as that of the ever-memorable Cooleen Bawn, is yet a tradition in the country.
On this occasion the dinner-party consisted only of the squire, his daughter, and Reilly. The old man, on reflecting that he was now safe, felt his spirits revive apace. His habits of life were jolly and convivial, but not actually intemperate, although it must be admitted that on some occasions he got into the debatable ground. To those who did not know him, and who were acquainted through common report only with his unmitigated abuse of Popery, he was looked upon as an oppressive and overbearing tyrant, who would enforce, to the furthest possible stretch of severity, the penal enactments then in existence against Roman Catholics. And this, indeed, was true, so far as any one was concerned from whom he imagined himself to have received an injury; against such he was a vindictive tyrant, and a most implacable persecutor. By many, on the other hand, he was considered as an eccentric man, with a weak head, but a heart that often set all his anti-Catholic prejudices at complete defiance.
At dinner the squire had most of the conversation to himself, his loquacity and good-humor having been very much improved by a few glasses of his rich old Madeira. His daughter, on the other hand, seemed frequently in a state of abstraction, and, on more than one occasion, found herself incapable of answering several questions which he put to her. Ever and anon the timid, blushing glance was directed at Reilly, by whom it was returned with a significance that went directly to her heart. Both, in fact, appeared to be influenced by some secret train of thought that seemed quite at variance with the old gentleman's garrulity.
"Well," said he, "here we are, thank God, all safe; and it is to you, Willy, we owe it. Come, man, take off your wine. Isn't he a fine young fellow, Helen?"
Helen's heart, at the moment, had followed her eyes, and she did not hear him.
"Hello! what the deuce! By the banks of the Boyne, I believe the girl has lost her hearing. I say, Helen, isn't Willy Reilly here, that prevented you from being an orphan, a fine young fellow?"
A sudden rosy blush suffused her whole neck and face on hearing this blunt and inconsiderate question.
"What, darling, have you not heard me?"
"If Mr. Reilly were not present, papa, I might give an opinion on that subject; but I trust you will excuse me now."
"Well, I suppose so; there's no getting women to speak to the point. At all events, I would give more than I'll mention that Sir Hobert Whitecraft was as good-looking a specimen of a man; I'll engage, if he was, you would have no objection to say yes, my girl."
"I look to the disposition, papa, to the moral feelings and principles, more than to the person.
"Well, Helen, that's right too—all right, darling, and on that account Sir Robert must and ought to be a favorite. He is not yet forty, and for this he is himself my authority, and forty is the prime of life; yet, with an immense fortune and strong temptations, he has never launched out into a single act of imprudence or folly. No, Helen, he never sowed a peck of wild oats in his life. He is, on the contrary, sober, grave, silent—a little too much so, by the way—cautious, prudent, and saving. No man knows the value of money better, nor can contrive to make it go further. Then, as for managing a bargain—upon my soul, I don't think he treated me well, though, in the swop of 'Hop-and-go-constant' against my precious bit of blood, 'Pat the Spanker.' He made me pay him twenty-five pounds boot for an old—But you shall see him, Reilly, you shall see him, Willy, and if ever there was a greater take in—you needn't smile, He en, nor look at Willy. By the good King William that saved us from Pope, and—ahem—I beg pardon, Willy, but, upon my soul, he took me completely in. I say, I shall show you 'Hop-and-go-constant', and when you see him you'll admit the 'Hop,' but the devil a bit you will find of the 'Go-constant.'"