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The Purcell Papers, Volume 1 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Part 3 out of 3

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mahogany box, bound with brass, and of
about two feet in length, laid upon the
table in the hall. O'Connor, thanking him
for his punctuality, requested him to come
into his study for a moment, when, with a
melancholy collectedness, he proceeded to
make arrangements for our witnessing his
will. The document was a brief one, and
the whole matter was just arranged, when
the two O'Gradys crept softly into the

'So! last will and testament,' said the
elder. 'Why, you have a very BLUE notion
of these matters. I tell you, you need not
be uneasy. I remember very well, when
young Ryan of Ballykealey met M'Neil
the duellist, bets ran twenty to one against
him. I stole away from school, and had a
peep at the fun as well as the best of them.
They fired together. Ryan received the
ball through the collar of his coat, and
M'Neil in the temple; he spun like a top:
it was a most unexpected thing, and
disappointed his friends damnably. It was
admitted, however, to have been very
pretty shooting upon both sides. To be
sure,' he continued, pointing to the will,
'you are in the right to keep upon the
safe side of fortune; but then, there is no
occasion to be altogether so devilish down
in the mouth as you appear to be.'

'You will allow,' said O'Connor, 'that
the chances are heavily against me.'

'Why, let me see,' he replied, 'not so
hollow a thin,, either. Let me see, we'll say
about four to one against you; you may
chance to throw doublets like him I told
you of, and then what becomes of the odds
I'd like to know? But let things go as
they will, I'll give and take four to one,
in pounds and tens of pounds. There,
M'Donough, there's a GET for you; b--t
me, if it is not. Poh! the fellow is stolen
away,' he continued, observing that the
object of his proposal had left the room;
'but d---- it, Purcell, you are fond of a SOFT
THING, too, in a quiet way--I'm sure you are
--so curse me if I do not make you the
same offer-is it a go?'

I was too much disgusted to make any
reply, but I believe my looks expressed
my feelings sufficiently, for in a moment he

'Well, I see there is nothing to be done,
so we may as well be stirring. M'Donough,
myself, and my brother will saddle the horses
in a jiffy, while you and Purcell settle
anything which remains to be arranged.'

So saying, he left the room with as much
alacrity as if it were to prepare for a fox-
hunt. Selfish, heartless fool! I have
often since heard him spoken of as A CURSED
but such eulogies as these are not calculated
to mitigate the abhorrence with
which his conduct upon that morning inspired me.

The chill mists of night were still hovering
on the landscape as our party left the
castle. It was a raw, comfortless morning
--a kind of drizzling fog hung heavily over
the scene, dimming the light of the sun,
which had now risen, into a pale and even
a grey glimmer. As the appointed hour
was fast approaching, it was proposed that
we should enter the race-ground at a point
close to the stand-house--a measure which
would save us a ride of nearly two miles,
over a broken road; at which distance
there was an open entrance into the race-
ground. Here, accordingly, we dismounted,
and leaving our horses in the care of a
country fellow who happened to be stirring
at that early hour, we proceeded up a narrow
lane, over a side wall of which we were
to climb into the open ground where stood
the now deserted building, under which the
meeting was to take place. Our progress
was intercepted by the unexpected appearance
of an old woman, who, in the scarlet
cloak which is the picturesque characteristic
of the female peasantry of the south, was
moving slowly down the avenue to meet us,
uttering that peculiarly wild and piteous
lamentation well known by the name of
'the Irish cry,' accompanied throughout
by all the customary gesticulation of
passionate grief. This rencounter was more
awkward than we had at first anticipated;
for, upon a nearer approach, the person
proved to be no other than an old attached
dependent of the family, and who had her-
self nursed O'Connor. She quickened her
pace as we advanced almost to a run; and,
throwing her arms round O'Connor's neck,
she poured forth such a torrent of lamentation,
reproach, and endearment, as showed
that she was aware of the nature of our
purpose, whence and by what means I
knew not. It was in vain that he sought
to satisfy her by evasion, and gently to
extricate himself from her embrace. She
knelt upon the ground, and clasped her
arms round his legs, uttering all the while
such touching supplications, such cutting
and passionate expressions of woe, as went
to my very heart.

At length, with much difficulty, we
passed this most painful interruption;
and, crossing the boundary wall, were
placed beyond her reach. The O'Gradys
damned her for a troublesome hag, and
passed on with O'Connor, but I remained
behind for a moment. The poor woman
looked hopelessly at the high wall which
separated her from him she had loved
from infancy, and to be with whom at
that minute she would have given worlds,
she took her seat upon a solitary stone
under the opposite wall, and there, in a
low, subdued key, she continued to utter
her sorrow in words so desolate, yet
expressing such a tenderness of devotion as
wrung my heart.

'My poor woman,' I said, laying my
hand gently upon her shoulder, 'you will
make yourself ill; the morning is very cold,
and your cloak is but a thin defence
against the damp and chill. Pray return
home and take this; it may be useful to

So saying, I dropped a purse, with what
money I had about me, into her lap, but
it lay there unheeded; she did not hear

'Oh I my child, my child, my darlin','
she sobbed, 'are you gone from me? are
you gone from me? Ah, mavourneen,
mavourneen, you'll never come back alive
to me again. The crathur that slept on my
bosom--the lovin' crathur that I was so
proud of--they'll kill him, they'll kill him.
Oh, voh! voh!'

The affecting tone, the feeling, the
abandonment with which all this was uttered,
none can conceive who have not heard the
lamentations of the Irish peasantry. It
brought tears to my eyes. I saw that no
consolation of mine could soothe her grief,
so I turned and departed; but as I rapidly
traversed the level sward which separated
me from my companions, now considerably
in advance, I could still hear the wailings
of the solitary mourner.

As we approached the stand-house, it
was evident that our antagonists had
already arrived. Our path lay by the side
of a high fence constructed of loose stones,
and on turning a sharp angle at its extremity,
we found ourselves close to the appointed
spot, and within a few yards of a
crowd of persons, some mounted and some
on foot, evidently awaiting our arrival.
The affair had unaccountably taken wind,
as the number of the expectants clearly
showed; but for this there was now no

As our little party advanced we were
met and saluted by several acquaintances,
whom curiosity, if no deeper feeling, had
brought to the place. Fitzgerald and the
Captain had arrived, and having dismounted,
were standing upon the sod. The former,
as we approached, bowed slightly and sullenly--
while the latter, evidently in high
good humour, made his most courteous
obeisance. No time was to be lost; and
the two seconds immediately withdrew to
a slight distance, for the purpose of
completing the last minute arrangements. It
was a brief but horrible interval--each
returned to his principal to communicate
the result, which was soon caught up and
repeated from mouth to mouth throughout
the crowd. I felt a strange and insurmountable
reluctance to hear the sickening
particulars detailed; and as I stood
irresolute at some distance from the principal
parties, a top-booted squireen, with a hunting
whip in his hand, bustling up to a
companion of his, exclaimed:

"Not fire together!--did you ever hear
the like? If Fitzgerald gets the first shot
all is over. M'Donough sold the pass,
by----, and that is the long and the short
of it.'

The parties now moved down a little to
a small level space, suited to the purpose;
and the captain, addressing M'Donough,

'Mr. M'Donough, you'll now have the
goodness to toss for choice of ground; as
the light comes from the east the line must
of course run north and south. Will you
be so obliging as to toss up a crown-piece,
while I call?'

A coin was instantly chucked into the
air. The captain cried, 'Harp.' The
HEAD was uppermost, and M'Donough
immediately made choice of the southern
point at which to place his friend--a
position which it will be easily seen had
the advantage of turning his back upon
the light--no trifling superiority of
location. The captain turned with a kind of
laugh, and said:

'By ----, sir, you are as cunning as a
dead pig; but you forgot one thing. My
friend is a left-handed gunner, though
never a bit the worse for that; so you
see there is no odds as far as the choice of
light goes.'

He then proceeded to measure nine paces
in a direction running north and south, and
the principals took their ground.

'I must be troublesome to you once
again, Mr. M'Donough. One toss more,
and everything is complete. We must
settle who is to have the FIRST SLAP.'

A piece of money was again thrown
into the air; again the captain lost the toss
and M'Donough proceeded to load the
pistols. I happened to stand near Fitzgerald,
and I overheard the captain, with
a chuckle, say something to him in which
the word 'cravat' was repeated. It
instantly occurred to me that the captain's
attention was directed to a bright-coloured
muffler which O'Connor wore round his
neck, and which would afford his antagonist
a distinct and favourable mark. I
instantly urged him to remove it, and at
length, with difficulty, succeeded. He
seemed perfectly careless as to any
precaution. Everything was now ready; the
pistol was placed in O'Connor's hand, and
he only awaited the word from the captain.

M'Creagh then said:

'Mr. M'Donough, is your principal

M'Donough replied in the affirmative;
and, after a slight pause, the captain, as
had been arranged, uttered the words:


O'Connor fired, but so wide of the mark
that some one in the crowd exclaimed:

'Fired in the air.'

'Who says he fired in the air?' thundered
Fitzgerald. 'By ---- he lies, whoever
he is.' There was a silence. 'But
even if he was fool enough to fire in the
air, it is not in HIS power to put an end to
the quarrel by THAT. D---- my soul, if I
am come here to be played with like a
child, and by the Almighty ---- you shall
hear more of this, each and everyone of
you, before I'm satisfied.'

A kind of low murmur, or rather groan,
was now raised, and a slight motion was
observable in the crowd, as if to intercept
Fitzgerald's passage to his horse.
M'Creagh, drawing the horse close to the
spot where Fitzgerald stood, threatened,
with the most awful imprecations, 'to
blow the brains out of the first man who
should dare to press on them.'

O'Connor now interfered, requesting the
crowd to forbear, and some degree of order
was restored. He then said, 'that in
firing as he did, he had no intention whatever
of waiving his right of firing upon
Fitzgerald, and of depriving that gentleman
of his right of prosecuting the affair
to the utmost--that if any person present
imagined that he intended to fire in the
air, he begged to set him right; since,
so far from seeking to exort an unwilling
reconciliation, he was determined that no
power on earth should induce him to
concede one inch of ground to Mr. Fitzgerald.'

This announcement was received with a
shout by the crowd, who now resumed
their places at either side of the plot of
ground which had been measured. The
principals took their places once more, and
M'Creagh proceeded, with the nicest and
most anxious care, to load the pistols; and
this task being accomplished, Fitzgerald
whispered something in the Captain's ear,
who instantly drew his friend's horse so as
to place him within a step of his rider,
and then tightened the girths. This
accomplished, Fitzgerald proceeded
deliberately to remove his coat, which he
threw across his horse in front of the
saddle; and then, with the assistance of
M'Creagh, he rolled the shirt sleeve up to
the shoulder, so as to leave the whole of
his muscular arm perfectly naked. A
cry of 'Coward, coward! butcher,
butcher!' arose from the crowd. Fitzgerald

'Do you object, Mr. M'Donough? and
upon what grounds, if you please?' said he.

'Certainly he does not,' replied
O'Connor; and, turning to M'Donough,
he added, 'pray let there be no unnecessary delay.'

'There is no objection, then,' said

'_I_ object,' said the younger of the
O'Gradys, 'if nobody else will.'

' And who the devil are you, that DARES
to object?' shouted Fitzgerald; 'and what
d--d presumption prompts you to DARE to
wag your tongue here?'

'I am Mr. O'Grady, of Castle Blake,'
replied the young man, now much
enraged; 'and by ----, you shall answer
for your language to me.'

'Shall I, by ----? Shall I?' cried he,
with a laugh of brutal scorn; 'the more
the merrier, d--n the doubt of it--so now
hold your tongue, for I promise you you
shall have business enough of your own to
think about, and that before long.'

There was an appalling ferocity in his tone
and manner which no words could convey.
He seemed transformed; he was actually
like a man possessed. Was it possible, I
thought, that I beheld the courteous
gentleman, the gay, good-humoured
retailer of amusing anecdote with whom,
scarce two days ago, I had laughed and
chatted, in the blasphemous and murderous
ruffian who glared and stormed
before me!

O'Connor interposed, and requested
that time should not be unnecessarily lost.

'You have not got a second coat on?'
inquired the Captain. 'I beg pardon,
but my duty to my friend requires that I
should ascertain the point.'

O'Connor replied in the negative. The
Captain expressed himself as satisfied,
adding, in what he meant to be a
complimentary strain, 'that he knew Mr.
O'Connor would scorn to employ padding
or any unfair mode of protection.'

There was now a breathless silence.
O'Connor stood perfectly motionless; and,
excepting the death-like paleness of his
features, he exhibited no sign of agitation.
His eye was steady--his lip did not
tremble--his attitude was calm. The
Captain, having re-examined the priming
of the pistols, placed one of them in the
hand of Fitzgerald.--M'Donough inquired
whether the parties were prepared, and
having been answered in the affirmative,
he proceeded to give the word, 'Ready.'
Fitzgerald raised his hand, but almost
instantly lowered it again. The crowd had
pressed too much forward as it appeared,
and his eye had been unsteadied by the
flapping of the skirt of a frieze riding-coat
worn by one of the spectators.

'In the name of my principal,' said the
Captain, 'I must and do insist upon these
gentlemen moving back a little. We ask
but little; fair play, and no favour.'

The crowd moved as requested.
M'Donough repeated his former question,
and was answered as before. There was a
breathless silence. Fitzgerald fixed his
eye upon O'Connor. The appointed
signal, 'Ready, fire!' was given. There
was a pause while one might slowly reckon
three--Fitzgerald fired--and O'Connor
fell helplessly upon the ground.

'There is no time to be lost,' said
M'Creagrh; 'for, by ----, you have done
for him.'

So saying, he threw himself upon his
horse, and was instantly followed at a
hard gallop by Fitzgerald.

'Cold-blooded murder, if ever murder
was committed,' said O'Grady. 'He shall
hang for it; d--n me, but he shall.'

A hopeless attempt was made to
overtake the fugitives; but they were better
mounted than any of their pursuers, and
escaped with ease. Curses and actual yells
of execration followed their course; and as,
in crossing the brow of a neighbouring
hill, they turned round in the saddle to
observe if they were pursued, every
gesture which could express fury and
defiance was exhausted by the enraged and
defeated multitude.

'Clear the way, boys,' said young
O'Grady, who with me was kneeling
beside O'Connor, while we supported him
in our arms; 'do not press so close, and
be d--d; can't you let the fresh air to
him; don't you see he's dying?'

On opening his waistcoat we easily
detected the wound: it was a little below
the chest--a small blue mark, from which
oozed a single heavy drop of blood.

'He is bleeding but little--that is a
comfort at all events,' said one of the gentlemen
who surrounded the wounded man.

Another suggested the expediency of
his being removed homeward with as
little delay as possible, and recommended,
for this purpose, that a door should be
removed from its hinges, and the patient,
laid upon this, should be conveyed from
the field. Upon this rude bier my poor
friend was carried from that fatal ground
towards Castle Connor. I walked close
by his side, and observed every motion of
his. He seldom opened his eyes, and was
perfectly still, excepting a nervous WORKING
of the fingers, and a slight, almost
imperceptible twitching of the features,
which took place, however, only at
intervals. The first word he uttered was
spoken as we approached the entrance of
the castle itself, when he said; repeatedly,
'The back way, the back way.' He feared
lest his mother should meet him abruptly
and without preparation; but although
this fear was groundless, since she never
left her room until late in the day, yet it
was thought advisable, and, indeed, necessary,
to caution all the servants most
strongly against breathing a hint to their
mistress of the events which had befallen.

Two or three gentlemen had ridden
from the field one after another, promising
that they should overtake our party before
it reached the castle, bringing with them
medical aid from one quarter or another;
and we determined that Mrs. O'Connor
should not know anything of the occurrence
until the opinion of some professional
man should have determined the extent of
the injury which her son had sustained
--a course of conduct which would at
least have the effect of relieving her from
the horrors of suspense. When O'Connor
found himself in his own room, and laid
upon his own bed, he appeared much
revived--so much so, that I could not help
admitting a strong hope that all might yet
be well.

'After all, Purcell,' said he, with a
melancholy smile, and speaking with
evident difficulty, 'I believe I have got off
with a trifling wound. I am sure it cannot
be fatal I feel so little pain--almost

I cautioned him against fatiguing
himself by endeavouring to speak; and he
remained quiet for a little time. At
length he said:

'Purcell, I trust this lesson shall not
have been given in vain. God has been
very merciful to me; I feel--I have an
internal confidence that I am not wounded
mortally. Had I been fatally wounded--
had I been killed upon the spot, only think
on it'--and he closed his eyes as if the
very thought made him dizzy--'struck
down into the grave, unprepared as I am,
in the very blossom of my sins, without a
moment of repentance or of reflection; I
must have been lost--lost for ever and ever.'

I prevailed upon him, with some
difficulty, to abstain from such agitating
reflections, and at length induced him to
court such repose as his condition admitted
of, by remaining perfectly silent, and as
much as possible without motion.

O'Connor and I only were in the room;
he had lain for some time in tolerable
quiet, when I thought I distinguished the
bustle attendant upon the arrival of some
one at the castle, and went eagerly to the
window, believing, or at least hoping, that
the sounds might announce the approach
of the medical man, whom we all longed
most impatiently to see.

My conjecture was right; I had the
satisfaction of seeing him dismount and
prepare to enter the castle, when my
observations were interrupted, and my
attention was attracted by a smothered,
gurgling sound proceeding from the bed in
which lay the wounded man. I instantly
turned round, and in doing so the spectacle
which met my eyes was sufficiently

I had left O'Connor lying in the bed,
supported by pillows, perfectly calm, and
with his eyes closed: he was now lying
nearly in the same position, his eyes open
and almost starting from their sockets,
with every feature pale and distorted as
death, and vomiting blood in quantities
that were frightful. I rushed to the door
and called for assistance; the paroxysm,
though violent, was brief, and O'Connor
sank into a swoon so deep and death-like,
that I feared he should waken no more.

The surgeon, a little, fussy man, but I
believe with some skill to justify his
pretensions, now entered the room, carry-
ing his case of instruments, and followed
by servants bearing basins and water and
bandages of linen. He relieved our
doubts by instantly assuring us that 'the
patient' was still living; and at the same
time professed his determination to take
advantage of the muscular relaxation
which the faint had induced to examine
the wound--adding that a patient was
more easily 'handled' when in a swoon
than under other circumstances.

After examining the wound in front
where the ball had entered, he passed his
hand round beneath the shoulder, and
after a little pause he shook his head,
observing that he feared very much that
one of the vertebrae was fatally injured,
but that he could not say decidedly until
his patient should revive a little. 'Though
his language was very technical, and
consequently to me nearly unintelligible,
I could perceive plainly by his manner
that he considered the case as almost

O'Connor gradually gave some signs of
returning animation, and at length was so
far restored as to be enabled to speak.
After some few general questions as to
how he felt affected, etc., etc., the surgeon,
placing his hand upon his leg and pressing
it slightly, asked him if he felt any pressure
upon the limb? O'Connor answered in
the negative--he pressed harder, and
repeated the question; still the answer was
the same, till at length, by repeated
experiments, he ascertained that all that part
of the body which lay behind the wound
was paralysed, proving that the spine must
have received some fatal injury.

'Well, doctor,' said O'Connor, after the
examination of the wound was over; 'well,
I shall do, shan't I?'

The physician was silent for a moment,
and then, as if with an effort, he replied:

'Indeed, my dear sir, it would not be
honest to flatter you with much hope.'

'Eh?' said O'Connor with more alacrity
than I had seen him exhibit since the
morning; 'surely I did not hear you
aright; I spoke of my recovery--surely
there is no doubt; there can be none--
speak frankly, doctor, for God's sake--am
I dying?'

The surgeon was evidently no stoic, and
his manner had extinguished in me every
hope, even before he had uttered a word
in reply.

'You are--you are indeed dying. There
is no hope; I should but deceive you if I
held out any.'

As the surgeon uttered these terrible
words, the hands which O'Connor had
stretched towards him while awaiting his
reply fell powerless by his side; his head
sank forward; it seemed as if horror and
despair had unstrung every nerve and
sinew; he appeared to collapse and shrink
together as a plant might under the
influence of a withering spell.

It has often been my fate, since then, to
visit the chambers of death and of suffering;
I have witnessed fearful agonies of
body and of soul; the mysterious shudderings
of the departing spirit, and the heart-
rending desolation of the survivors; the
severing of the tenderest ties, the piteous
yearnings of unavailing love--of all these
things the sad duties of my profession have
made me a witness. But, generally speaking,
I have observed in such scenes some
thing to mitigate, if not the sorrows, at
least the terrors, of death; the dying man
seldom seems to feel the reality of his
situation; a dull consciousness of approaching
dissolution, a dim anticipation of
unconsciousness and insensibility, are the
feelings which most nearly border upon an
appreciation of his state; the film of death
seems to have overspread the mind's eye,
objects lose their distinctness, and float
cloudily before it, and the apathy and
apparent indifference with which men
recognise the sure advances of immediate
death, rob that awful hour of much of its
terrors, and the death-bed of its otherwise
inevitable agonies.

This is a merciful dispensation; but the
rule has its exceptions--its terrible
exceptions. When a man is brought in an
instant, by some sudden accident, to the
very verge of the fathomless pit of death,
with all his recollections awake, and his
perceptions keenly and vividly alive, without
previous illness to subdue the tone of
the mind as to dull its apprehensions--
then, and then only, the death-bed is truly

Oh, what a contrast did O'Connor afford
as he lay in all the abject helplessness of
undisguised terror upon his death-bed, to
the proud composure with which he had
taken the field that morning. I had
always before thought of death as of a
quiet sleep stealing gradually upon
exhausted nature, made welcome by suffering,
or, at least, softened by resignation;
I had never before stood by the side of
one upon whom the hand of death had
been thus suddenly laid; I had never seen
the tyrant arrayed in his terror till then.
Never before or since have I seen horror
so intensely depicted. It seemed actually
as if O'Connor's mind had been unsettled
by the shock; the few words he uttered
were marked with all the incoherence of
distraction; but it was not words that
marked his despair most strongly, the
appalling and heart-sickening groans
that came from the terror-stricken and
dying man must haunt me while I
live; the expression, too, of hopeless,
imploring agony with which he turned
his eyes from object to object, I can
never forget. At length, appearing
suddenly to recollect himself, he said, with
startling alertness, but in a voice so
altered that I scarce could recognise the

'Purcell, Purcell, go and tell my poor
mother; she must know all, and then,
quick, quick, quick, call your uncle, bring
him here; I must have a chance.' He
made a violent but fruitless effort to rise,
and after a slight pause continued, with
deep and urgent solemnity: 'Doctor, how
long shall I live? Don't flatter me.
Compliments at a death-bed are out of
place; doctor, for God's sake, as you would
not have my soul perish with my body, do
not mock a dying man; have I an hour to

'Certainly,' replied the surgeon; 'if you
will but endeavour to keep yourself tranquil;
otherwise I cannot answer for a

'Well, doctor,' said the patient, 'I will
obey you; now, Purcell, my first and
dearest friend, will you inform my poor
mother of--of what you see, and return
with your uncle; I know you will.'

I took the dear fellow's hand and kissed
it, it was the only answer I could give,
and left the room. I asked the first
female servant I chanced to meet, if her
mistress were yet up, and was answered in
the affirmative. Without giving myself
time to hesitate, I requested her to lead
me to her lady's room, which she accordingly
did; she entered first, I supposed to
announce my name, and I followed closely;
the poor mother said something, and held
out her hands to welcome me; I strove
for words; I could not speak, but nature
found expression; I threw myself at her
feet and covered her hands with kisses and
tears. My manner was enough; with a
quickness almost preternatural she understood
it all; she simply said the words:
'O'Connor is killed;' she uttered no

How I left the room I know not; I
rode madly to my uncle's residence, and
brought him back with me--all the rest
is a blank. I remember standing by
O'Connor's bedside, and kissing the cold
pallid forehead again and again; I remember
the pale serenity of the beautiful
features; I remember that I looked upon
the dead face of my friend, and I remember
no more.

For many months I lay writhing and
raving in the frenzy of brain fever; a
hundred times I stood tottering at the
brink of death, and long after my restoration
to bodily health was assured, it appeared
doubtful whether I should ever be
restored to reason. But God dealt very
mercifully with me; His mighty hand
rescued me from death and from madness
when one or other appeared inevitable.
As soon as I was permitted pen and ink,
I wrote to the bereaved mother in a tone
bordering upon frenzy. I accused myself
of having made her childless; I called
myself a murderer; I believed myself
accursed; I could not find terms strong
enough to express my abhorrence of my
own conduct. But, oh! what an answer I
received, so mild, so sweet, from the
desolate, childless mother! its words spoke all
that is beautiful in Christianity--it was
forgiveness--it was resignation. I am
convinced that to that letter, operating as
it did upon a mind already predisposed, is
owing my final determination to devote
myself to that profession in which, for
more than half a century, I have been a
humble minister.

Years roll away, and we count them not
as they pass, but their influence is not the
less certain that it is silent; the deepest
wounds are gradually healed, the keenest
griefs are mitigated, and we, in character,
feelings, tastes, and pursuits, become such
altered beings, that but for some few
indelible marks which past events must
leave behind them, which time may
soften, but can never efface; our very
identity would be dubious. Who has not
felt all this at one time or other? Who
has not mournfully felt it? This trite, but
natural train of reflection filled my mind as
I approached the domain of Castle Connor
some ten years after the occurrence of the
events above narrated. Everything looked
the same as when I had left it; the old
trees stood as graceful and as grand as
ever; no plough had violated the soft
green sward; no utilitarian hand had
constrained the wanderings of the clear and
sportive stream, or disturbed the lichen-
covered rocks through which it gushed, or
the wild coppice that over-shadowed its
sequestered nooks--but the eye that
looked upon these things was altered, and
memory was busy with other days,
shrouding in sadness every beauty that
met my sight.

As I approached the castle my emotions
became so acutely painful that I had
almost returned the way I came, without
accomplishing the purpose for which I had
gone thus far; and nothing but the conviction
that my having been in the neighbourhood
of Castle Connor without visiting
its desolate mistress would render me
justly liable to the severest censure, could
overcome my reluctance to encountering
the heavy task which was before me. I
recognised the old servant who opened the
door, but he did not know me. I was
completely changed; suffering of body and
mind had altered me in feature and in
bearing, as much as in character. I asked
the man whether his mistress ever saw
visitors. He answered:

'But seldom; perhaps, however, if she
knew that an old friend wished to see her
for a few minutes, she would gratify him
so far.'

At the same time I placed my card in
his hand, and requested him to deliver it
to his mistress. He returned in a few
moments, saying that his lady would be
happy to see me in the parlour, and I
accordingly followed him to the door, which
he opened. I entered the room, and was
in a moment at the side of my early friend
and benefactress. I was too much agitated
to speak; I could only hold the hands
which she gave me, while, spite of every
effort, the tears flowed fast and bitterly.

'It was kind, very, very kind of you to
come to see me,' she said, with far more
composure than I could have commanded;
'I see it is very painful to you.'

I endeavoured to compose myself, and
for a little time we remained silent; she
was the first to speak:

'You will be surprised, Mr. Purcell,
when you observe the calmness with
which I can speak of him who was dearest
to me, who is gone; but my thoughts are
always with him, and the recollections of
his love'--her voice faltered a little--'and
the hope of meeting him hereafter enables
me to bear existence.'

I said I know not what; something
about resignation, I believe.

'I hope I am resigned; God made me
more: so,' she said. 'Oh, Mr. Purcell, I
have often thought I loved my lost child
TOO well. It was natural--he was my only
child--he was----' She could not proceed
for a few moments: 'It was very natural
that I should love him as I did; but it
may have been sinful; I have often thought
so. I doated upon him--I idolised him--I
thought too little of other holier affections;
and God may have taken him from me,
only to teach me, by this severe lesson,
that I owed to heaven a larger share of
my heart than to anything earthly. I
cannot think of him now without more
solemn feelings than if he were with me.
There is something holy in our thoughts
of the dead; I feel it so.' After a pause,
she continued--'Mr. Purcell, do you
remember his features well? they were very
beautiful.' I assured her that I did.
'Then you can tell me if you think this a
faithful likeness.' She took from a drawer
a case in which lay a miniature. I took it
reverently from her hands; it was indeed
very like--touchingly like. I told her so;
and she seemed gratified.

As the evening was wearing fast, and I
had far to go, I hastened to terminate my
visit, as I had intended, by placing in her
hand a letter from her son to me, written
during his sojourn upon the Continent. I
requested her to keep it; it was one in
which he spoke much of her, and in terms
of the tenderest affection. As she read its
contents the heavy tears gathered in her
eyes, and fell, one by one, upon the page;
she wiped them away, but they still
flowed fast and silently. It was in vain
that she tried to read it; her eyes were
filled with tears: so she folded the letter,
and placed it in her bosom. I rose to
depart, and she also rose.

'I will not ask you to delay your
departure,' said she; 'your visit here
must have been a painful one to you. I
cannot find words to thank you for the
letter as I would wish, or for all your
kindness. It has given me a pleasure greater
than I thought could have fallen to the lot
of a creature so very desolate as I am;
may God bless you for it!' And thus we
parted; I never saw Castle Connor or its
solitary inmate more.


Being a Fourth Extract from the Legacy of the late F.
Purcell, P. P. of Drumcoolagh.

'All this HE told with some confusion and
Dismay, the usual consequence of dreams
Of the unpleasant kind, with none at hand
To expound their vain and visionary gleams,
I've known some odd ones which seemed really planned
Prophetically, as that which one deems
"A strange coincidence," to use a phrase
By which such things are settled nowadays.'

Dreams! What age, or what
country of the world, has not
and acknowledged the mystery
of their origin and end? I have
thought not a little upon the subject,
seeing it is one which has been often
forced upon my attention, and sometimes
strangely enough; and yet I have never
arrived at anything which at all appeared
a satisfactory conclusion. It does appear
that a mental phenomenon so extraordinary
cannot be wholly without its use. We
know, indeed, that in the olden times it
has been made the organ of communication
between the Deity and His creatures; and
when, as I have seen, a dream produces
upon a mind, to all appearance hopelessly
reprobate and depraved, an effect so powerful
and so lasting as to break down the
inveterate habits, and to reform the life
of an abandoned sinner, we see in the
result, in the reformation of morals which
appeared incorrigible, in the reclamation of
a human soul which seemed to be irre-
trievably lost, something more than could
be produced by a mere chimera of the
slumbering fancy, something more than
could arise from the capricious images of a
terrified imagination; but once presented,
we behold in all these things, and in their
tremendous and mysterious results, the
operation of the hand of God. And
while Reason rejects as absurd the
superstition which will read a prophecy in every
dream, she may, without violence to herself,
recognise, even in the wildest and
most incongruous of the wanderings of a
slumbering intellect, the evidences and the
fragments of a language which may be
spoken, which HAS been spoken, to terrify,
to warn, and to command. We have
reason to believe too, by the promptness
of action which in the age of the prophets
followed all intimations of this kind, and
by the strength of conviction and strange
permanence of the effects resulting from
certain dreams in latter times, which effects
we ourselves may have witnessed, that
when this medium of communication has
been employed by the Deity, the evidences
of His presence have been unequivocal.
My thoughts were directed to this subject,
in a manner to leave a lasting impression
upon my mind, by the events which I
shall now relate, the statement of which,
however extraordinary, is nevertheless

About the year 17--, having been
appointed to the living of C---h, I
rented a small house in the town, which
bears the same name: one morning in the
month of November, I was awakened
before my usual time by my servant, who
bustled into my bedroom for the purpose
of announcing a sick call. As the Catholic
Church holds her last rites to be totally
indispensable to the safety of the departing
sinner, no conscientious clergyman can
afford a moment's unnecessary delay, and
in little more than five minutes I stood
ready cloaked and booted for the road, in
the small front parlour, in which the
messenger, who was to act as my guide,
awaited my coming. I found a poor
little girl crying piteously near the door,
and after some slight difficulty I ascertained
that her father was either dead or
just dying.

'And what may be your father's name,
my poor child?' said I. She held down
her head, as if ashamed. I repeated the
question, and the wretched little creature
burst into floods of tears still more bitter
than she had shed before. At length,
almost provoked by conduct which
appeared to me so unreasonable, I began to
lose patience, spite of the pity which I
could not help feeling towards her, and I
said rather harshly:

'If you will not tell me the name of the
person to whom you would lead me, your
silence can arise from no good motive, and
I might be justified in refusing to go with
you at all.'

'Oh, don't say that--don't say that!'
cried she. 'Oh, sir, it was that I was
afeard of when I would not tell you--I
was afeard, when you heard his name, you
would not come with me; but it is no use
hidin' it now--it's Pat Connell, the
carpenter, your honour.'

She looked in my face with the most
earnest anxiety, as if her very existence
depended upon what she should read there;
but I relieved her at once. The name,
indeed, was most unpleasantly familiar to
me; but, however fruitless my visits and
advice might have been at another time,
the present was too fearful an occasion to
suffer my doubts of their utility or my
reluctance to re-attempting what appeared
a hopeless task to weigh even against the
lightest chance that a consciousness of
his imminent danger might produce in him
a more docile and tractable disposition.
Accordingly I told the child to lead the
way, and followed her in silence. She
hurried rapidly through the long narrow
street which forms the great thoroughfare
of the town. The darkness of the hour,
rendered still deeper by the close approach
of the old-fashioned houses, which lowered
in tall obscurity on either side of the way;
the damp, dreary chill which renders the
advance of morning peculiarly cheerless,
combined with the object of my walk, to
visit the death-bed of a presumptuous
sinner, to endeavour, almost against my
own conviction, to infuse a hope into the
heart of a dying reprobate--a drunkard
but too probably perishing under the
consequences of some mad fit of intoxication;
all these circumstances united served to
enhance the gloom and solemnity of my
feelings, as I silently followed my little
guide, who with quick steps traversed the
uneven pavement of the main street.
After a walk of about five minutes she
turned off into a narrow lane, of that
obscure and comfortless class which is
to be found in almost all small old-
fashioned towns, chill, without ventilation,
reeking with all manner of offensive
effluviae, and lined by dingy, smoky, sickly
and pent-up buildings, frequently not only
in a wretched but in a dangerous condition.

'Your father has changed his abode
since I last visited him, and, I am afraid,
much for the worse,' said I.

'Indeed he has, sir; but we must not
complain,' replied she. 'We have to thank
God that we have lodging and food,
though it's poor enough, it is, your

Poor child! thought I, how many an
older head might learn wisdom from thee
--how many a luxurious philosopher, who
is skilled to preach but not to suffer,
might not thy patient words put to the
blush! The manner and language of this
child were alike above her years and
station; and, indeed, in all cases in which
the cares and sorrows of life have anticipated
their usual date, and have fallen, as they
sometimes do, with melancholy prematurity
to the lot of childhood, I have observed
the result to have proved uniformly the
same. A young mind, to which joy and
indulgence have been strangers, and to
which suffering and self-denial have been
familiarised from the first, acquires a
solidity and an elevation which no other
discipline could have bestowed, and which,
in the present case, communicated a striking
but mournful peculiarity to the manners,
even to the voice, of the child. We
paused before a narrow, crazy door, which
she opened by means of a latch, and we
forthwith began to ascend the steep and
broken stairs which led upwards to the
sick man's room.

As we mounted flight after flight
towards the garret-floor, I heard more and
more distinctly the hurried talking of many
voices. I could also distinguish the low
sobbing of a female. On arriving upon
the uppermost lobby these sounds became
fully audible.

'This way, your honour,' said my little
conductress; at the same time, pushing
open a door of patched and half-rotten
plank, she admitted me into the squalid
chamber of death and misery. But one
candle, held in the fingers of a scared and
haggard-looking child, was burning in the
room, and that so dim that all was twilight
or darkness except within its immediate
influence. The general obscurity,
however, served to throw into prominent
and startling relief the death-bed and its
occupant. The light was nearly approximated
to, and fell with horrible clearness
upon, the blue and swollen features of the
drunkard. I did not think it possible that
a human countenance could look so terrific.
The lips were black and drawn apart; the
teeth were firmly set; the eyes a little
unclosed, and nothing but the whites appearing.
Every feature was fixed and livid, and
the whole face wore a ghastly and rigid
expression of despairing terror such as I
never saw equalled. His hands were crossed
upon his breast, and firmly clenched; while,
as if to add to the corpse-like effect of the
whole, some white cloths, dipped in water,
were wound about the forehead and

As soon as I could remove my eyes from
this horrible spectacle, I observed my friend
Dr. D----, one of the most humane of a
humane profession, standing by the bedside.
He had been attempting, but unsuccessfully,
to bleed the patient, and had now
applied his finger to the pulse.

'Is there any hope?' I inquired in a

A shake of the head was the reply.
There was a pause while he continued
to hold the wrist; but he waited in vain
for the throb of life--it was not there: and
when he let go the hand, it fell stiffly back
into its former position upon the other.

'The man is dead,' said the physician, as
he turned from the bed where the terrible
figure lay.

Dead! thought I, scarcely venturing to
look upon the tremendous and revolting
spectacle. Dead! without an hour for
repentance, even a moment for reflection;
dead I without the rites which even the
best should have. Is there a hope for
him? The glaring eyeball, the grinning
mouth, the distorted brow--that unutterable
look in which a painter would have
sought to embody the fixed despair of the
nethermost hell. These were my answer.

The poor wife sat at a little distance,
crying as if her heart would break--the
younger children clustered round the bed,
looking with wondering curiosity upon the
form of death never seen before.

When the first tumult of uncontrollable
sorrow had passed away, availing myself
of the solemnity and impressiveness of the
scene, I desired the heart-stricken family
to accompany me in prayer, and all knelt
down while I solemnly and fervently
repeated some of those prayers which
appeared most applicable to the occasion. I
employed myself thus in a manner which,
I trusted, was not unprofitable, at least to
the living, for about ten minutes; and
having accomplished my task, I was the
first to arise.

I looked upon the poor, sobbing,
helpless creatures who knelt so humbly around
me, and my heart bled for them. With
a natural transition I turned my eyes from
them to the bed in which the body lay;
and, great God! what was the revulsion,
the horror which I experienced on seeing
the corpse-like terrific thing seated half
upright before me; the white cloths which
had been wound about the head had now
partly slipped from their position, and
were hanging in grotesque festoons about
the face and shoulders, while the distorted
eyes leered from amid them--

'A sight to dream of, not to tell.'

I stood actually riveted to the spot. The
figure nodded its head and lifted its arm,
I thought, with a menacing gesture. A
thousand confused and horrible thoughts
at once rushed upon my mind. I had
often read that the body of a presumptuous
sinner, who, during life, had been
the willing creature of every satanic
impulse, after the human tenant had deserted
it, had been known to become the horrible
sport of demoniac possession.

I was roused from the stupefaction of
terror in which I stood, by the piercing
scream of the mother, who now, for the
first time, perceived the change which had
taken place. She rushed towards the bed,
but stunned by the shock, and overcome by
the conflict of violent emotions, before she
reached it she fell prostrate upon the

I am perfectly convinced that had I not
been startled from the torpidity of horror
in which I was bound by some powerful
and arousing stimulant, I should have
gazed upon this unearthly apparition until
I had fairly lost my senses. As it was,
however, the spell was broken--superstition
gave way to reason: the man whom all
believed to have been actually dead was

Dr. D---- was instantly standing by
the bedside, and upon examination he
found that a sudden and copious flow of
blood had taken place from the wound
which the lancet had left; and this, no
doubt, had effected his sudden and almost
preternatural restoration to an existence
from which all thought he had been for ever
removed. The man was still speechless,
but he seemed to understand the physician
when he forbid his repeating the painful
and fruitless attempts which he made to
articulate, and he at once resigned himself
quietly into his hands.

I left the patient with leeches upon his
temples, and bleeding freely, apparently
with little of the drowsiness which accompanies
apoplexy; indeed, Dr. D---- told
me that he had never before witnessed a
seizure which seemed to combine the
symptoms of so many kinds, and yet
which belonged to none of the recognised
classes; it certainly was not apoplexy,
catalepsy, nor delirium tremens, and yet it
seemed, in some degree, to partake of the
properties of all. It was strange, but
stranger things are coming.

During two or three days Dr. D----
would not allow his patient to converse in
a manner which could excite or exhaust
him, with anyone; he suffered him merely
as briefly as possible to express his
immediate wants. And it was not until the fourth
day after my early visit, the particulars of
which I have just detailed, that it was thought
expedient that I should see him, and then
only because it appeared that his extreme
importunity and impatience to meet me
were likely to retard his recovery more than
the mere exhaustion attendant upon a short
conversation could possibly do; perhaps,
too, my friend entertained some hope that
if by holy confession his patient's bosom
were eased of the perilous stuff which no
doubt oppressed it, his recovery would be
more assured and rapid. It was then, as I
have said, upon the fourth day after my
first professional call, that I found myself
once more in the dreary chamber of want
and sickness.

The man was in bed, and appeared low
and restless. On my entering the room he
raised himself in the bed, and muttered,
twice or thrice:

'Thank God! thank God!'

I signed to those of his family who
stood by to leave the room, and took a
chair beside the bed. So soon as we were
alone, he said, rather doggedly:

'There's no use in telling me of the
sinfulness of bad ways--I know it all. I
know where they lead to--I seen everything
about it with my own eyesight, as
plain as I see you.' He rolled himself in
the bed, as if to hide his face in the
clothes; and then suddenly raising himself,
he exclaimed with startling vehemence:
'Look, sir! there is no use in mincing the
matter: I'm blasted with the fires of hell;
I have been in hell. What do you think
of that? In hell--I'm lost for ever--I
have not a chance. I am damned already

The end of this sentence he actually
shouted. His vehemence was perfectly
terrific; he threw himself back, and
laughed, and sobbed hysterically. I
poured some water into a tea-cup, and
gave it to him. After he had swallowed
it, I told him if he had anything to
communicate, to do so as briefly as he could,
and in a manner as little agitating to
himself as possible; threatening at the same
time, though I had no intention of doing
so, to leave him at once, in case he again
gave way to such passionate excitement.

'It's only foolishness,' he continued, 'for
me to try to thank you for coming to such
a villain as myself at all. It's no use for me
to wish good to you, or to bless you;
for such as me has no blessings to

I told him that I had but done my duty,
and urged him to proceed to the matter
which weighed upon his mind. He then
spoke nearly as follows:

'I came in drunk on Friday night last,
and got to my bed here; I don't remember
how. Sometime in the night it seemed
to me I wakened, and feeling unasy in
myself, I got up out of the bed. I wanted
the fresh air; but I would not make a
noise to open the window, for fear I'd
waken the crathurs. It was very dark
and throublesome to find the door; but
at last I did get it, and I groped my way
out, and went down as asy as I could. I
felt quite sober, and I counted the steps
one after another, as I was going down,
that I might not stumble at the bottom.

'When I came to the first landing-place
--God be about us always!--the floor of it
sunk under me, and I went down--down--
down, till the senses almost left me. I do
not know how long I was falling, but it
seemed to me a great while. When I
came rightly to myself at last, I was
sitting near the top of a great table;
and I could not see the end of it, if it
had any, it was so far off. And there
was men beyond reckoning, sitting down
all along by it, at each side, as far as I
could see at all. I did not know at first
was it in the open air; but there was a
close smothering feel in it that was not
natural. And there was a kind of light that
my eyesight never saw before, red and
unsteady; and I did not see for a long time
where it was coming from, until I looked
straight up, and then I seen that it came
from great balls of blood-coloured fire that
were rolling high over head with a sort of
rushing, trembling sound, and I perceived
that they shone on the ribs of a great roof
of rock that was arched overhead instead
of the sky. When I seen this, scarce
knowing what I did, I got up, and I said,
"I have no right to be here; I must go."
And the man that was sitting at my left
hand only smiled, and said, "Sit down
again; you can NEVER leave this place." And
his voice was weaker than any child's voice
I ever heerd; and when he was done speaking
he smiled again.

'Then I spoke out very loud and bold,
and I said, "In the name of God, let me
out of this bad place." And there was a
great man that I did not see before, sitting
at the end of the table that I was near; and
he was taller than twelve men, and his face
was very proud and terrible to look at.
And he stood up and stretched out his hand
before him; and when he stood up, all that
was there, great and small, bowed down
with a sighing sound, and a dread came on
my heart, and he looked at me, and I
could not speak. I felt I was his own,
to do what he liked with, for I knew at
once who he was; and he said, "If you
promise to return, you may depart for a
season;" and the voice he spoke with was
terrible and mournful, and the echoes of it
went rolling and swelling down the endless
cave, and mixing with the trembling of the
fire overhead; so that when he sat down
there was a sound after him, all through
the place, like the roaring of a furnace, and
I said, with all the strength I had, "I
promise to come back--in God's name let
me go!"

'And with that I lost the sight and
the hearing of all that was there, and
when my senses came to me again, I
was sitting in the bed with the blood all
over me, and you and the rest praying
around the room.'

Here he paused and wiped away the
chill drops of horror which hung upon his

I remained silent for some moments.
The vision which he had just described
struck my imagination not a little, for
this was long before Vathek and the
'Hall of Eblis' had delighted the world;
and the description which he gave had, as
I received it, all the attractions of novelty
beside the impressiveness which always
belongs to the narration of an EYE-WITNESS,
whether in the body or in the spirit, of the
scenes which he describes. There was
something, too, in the stern horror with
which the man related these things, and
in the incongruity of his description, with
the vulgarly received notions of the great
place of punishment, and of its presiding
spirit, which struck my mind with awe,
almost with fear. At length he said, with
an expression of horrible, imploring
earnestness, which I shall never forget--
'Well, sir, is there any hope; is there any
chance at all? or, is my soul pledged and
promised away for ever? is it gone
out of my power? must I go back to the

In answering him, I had no easy task to
perform; for however clear might be my
internal conviction of the groundlessness
of his tears, and however strong my scepticism
respecting the reality of what he had
described, I nevertheless felt that his
impression to the contrary, and his humility
and terror resulting from it, might be made
available as no mean engines in the work
of his conversion from prodigacy, and of
his restoration to decent habits, and to
religious feeling.

I therefore told him that he was to
regard his dream rather in the light of a
warning than in that of a prophecy; that
our salvation depended not upon the word
or deed of a moment, but upon the habits
of a life; that, in fine, if he at once
discarded his idle companions and evil habits,
and firmly adhered to a sober, industrious,
and religious course of life, the powers of
darkness might claim his soul in vain, for
that there were higher and firmer pledges
than human tongue could utter, which
promised salvation to him who should
repent and lead a new life.

I left him much comforted, and with a
promise to return upon the next day. I
did so, and found him much more cheerful
and without any remains of the dogged
sullenness which I suppose had arisen from
his despair. His promises of amendment
were given in that tone of deliberate
earnestness, which belongs to deep and
solemn determination; and it was with no
small delight that I observed, after
repeated visits, that his good resolutions, so
far from failing, did but gather strength
by time; and when I saw that man shake
off the idle and debauched companions,
whose society had for years formed alike
his amusement and his ruin, and revive
his long discarded habits of industry and
sobriety, I said within myself, there is
something more in all this than the operation
of an idle dream.

One day, sometime after his perfect
restoration to health, I was surprised on
ascending the stairs, for the purpose of
visiting this man, to find him busily
employed in nailing down some planks
upon the landing-place, through which, at
the commencement of his mysterious vision,
it seemed to him that he had sunk. I
perceived at once that he was strengthening
the floor with a view to securing
himself against such a catastrophe, and
could scarcely forbear a smile as I bid
'God bless his work.'

He perceived my thoughts, I suppose,
for he immediately said:

'I can never pass over that floor without
trembling. I'd leave this house if I
could, but I can't find another lodging in
the town so cheap, and I'll not take a
better till I've paid off all my debts, please
God; but I could not be asy in my mind
till I made it as safe as I could. You'll
hardly believe me, your honour, that while
I'm working, maybe a mile away, my heart
is in a flutter the whole way back, with
the bare thoughts of the two little steps I
have to walk upon this bit of a floor. So
it's no wonder, sir, I'd thry to make it
sound and firm with any idle timber I

I applauded his resolution to pay off his
debts, and the steadiness with which he
perused his plans of conscientious economy,
and passed on.

Many months elapsed, and still there
appeared no alteration in his resolutions of
amendment. He was a good workman,
and with his better habits he recovered his
former extensive and profitable employment.
Everything seemed to promise comfort and
respectability. I have little more to add,
and that shall be told quickly. I had one
evening met Pat Connell, as he returned
from his work, and as usual, after a mutual,
and on his side respectful salutation, I
spoke a few words of encouragement and
approval. I left him industrious, active,
healthy--when next I saw him, not three
days after, he was a corpse.

The circumstances which marked the
event of his death were somewhat strange
--I might say fearful. The unfortunate
man had accidentally met an early friend
just returned, after a long absence, and in
a moment of excitement, forgetting everything
in the warmth of his joy, he yielded
to his urgent invitation to accompany him
into a public-house, which lay close by the
spot where the encounter had taken place.
Connell, however, previously to entering
the room, had announced his determination
to take nothing more than the strictest
temperance would warrant.

But oh! who can describe the inveterate
tenacity with which a drunkard's habits
cling to him through life? He may repent
--he may reform--he may look with
actual abhorrence upon his past profligacy;
but amid all this reformation and
compunction, who can tell the moment in
which the base and ruinous propensity may
not recur, triumphing over resolution,
remorse, shame, everything, and prostrating
its victim once more in all that is
destructive and revolting in that fatal vice?

The wretched man left the place in a
state of utter intoxication. He was
brought home nearly insensible. and
placed in his bed, where he lay in the deep
calm lethargy of drunkenness. The
younger part of the family retired to rest
much after their usual hour; but the poor
wife remained up sitting by the fire, too
much grieved and shocked at the occur-
rence of what she had so little expected,
to settle to rest; fatigue, however, at
length overcame her, and she sank
gradually into an uneasy slumber. She
could not tell how long she had remained
in this state, when she awakened, and
immediately on opening her eyes, she
perceived by the faint red light of the
smouldering turf embers, two persons, one
of whom she recognised as her husband,
noiselessly gliding out of the room.

'Pat, darling, where are you going?'
said she. There was no answer--the door
closed after them; but in a moment she
was startled and terrified by a loud and
heavy crash, as if some ponderous body had
been hurled down the stair. Much alarmed,
she started up, and going to the head of
the staircase, she called repeatedly upon her
husband, but in vain. She returned to
the room, and with the assistance of her
daughter, whom I had occasion to mention
before, she succeeded in finding and lighting
a candle, with which she hurried again
to the head of the staircase.

At the bottom lay what seemed to be a
bundle of clothes, heaped together, motionless,
lifeless--it was her husband. In
going down the stair, for what purpose
can never now be known, he had fallen
helplessly and violently to the bottom, and
coming head foremost, the spine at the
neck had been dislocated by the shock, and
instant death must have ensued. The
body lay upon that landing-place to which
his dream had referred. It is scarcely
worth endeavouring to clear up a single
point in a narrative where all is mystery;
yet I could not help suspecting that the
second figure which had been seen in the
room by Connell's wife on the night of his
death, might have been no other than his
own shadow. I suggested this solution of
the difficulty; but she told me that the
unknown person had been considerably in
advance of the other, and on reaching the
door, had turned back as if to communicate
something to his companion. It was then
a mystery.

Was the dream verified?--whither had
the disembodied spirit sped?--who can
say? We know not. But I left the house
of death that day in a state of horror
which I could not describe. It seemed to
me that I was scarce awake. I heard and
saw everything as if under the spell of a
night-mare. The coincidence was terrible.

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