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The Purcell Papers, Volume 2 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Part 2 out of 3

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room?' said my uncle.

'No,' was the brief reply.

'Secure the jewels, Ned; the French
harpy must not lay her claws upon them.
You're a steady hand, by G----! not
much blood--eh?'

'Not twenty drops,' replied his son,
'and those on the quilt.'

'I'm glad it's over,' whispered my uncle
again. 'We must lift the--the THING
through the window, and lay the rubbish
over it.'

They then turned to the bedside, and,
winding the bed-clothes round the body,
carried it between them slowly to the
window, and, exchanging a few brief words
with some one below, they shoved it over
the window-sill, and I heard it fall heavily
on the ground underneath.

'I'll take the jewels,' said my uncle;
'there are two caskets in the lower
drawer.'

He proceeded, with an accuracy which,
had I been more at ease, would have
furnished me with matter of astonishment, to
lay his hand upon the very spot where my
jewels lay; and having possessed himself
of them, he called to his son:

'Is the rope made fast above?'

'I'm not a fool--to be sure it is,'
replied he.

They then lowered themselves from the
window. I now rose lightly and cautiously,
scarcely daring to breathe, from my place
of concealment, and was creeping towards
the door, when I heard my cousin's voice,
in a sharp whisper, exclaim: 'Scramble up
again! G--d d----n you, you've forgot to
lock the room-door!' and I perceived, by
the straining of the rope which hung from
above, that the mandate was instantly
obeyed.

Not a second was to be lost. I passed
through the door, which was only closed,
and moved as rapidly as I could, consistently
with stillness, along the lobby.
Before I had gone many yards, I heard
the door through which I had just passed
double-locked on the inside. I glided
down the stairs in terror, lest, at every
corner, I should meet the murderer or one
of his accomplices.

I reached the hall, and listened for a
moment to ascertain whether all was silent
around; no sound was audible. The parlour
windows opened on the park, and through
one of them I might, I thought, easily
effect my escape. Accordingly, I hastily
entered; but, to my consternation, a
candle was burning in the room, and by
its light I saw a figure seated at the
dinner-table, upon which lay glasses,
bottles, and the other accompaniments of
a drinking-party. Two or three chairs
were placed about the table irregularly, as
if hastily abandoned by their occupants.

A single glance satisfied me that the
figure was that of my French attendant.
She was fast asleep, having probably
drank deeply. There was something
malignant and ghastly in the calmness of
this bad woman's features, dimly illuminated
as they were by the flickering blaze
of the candle. A knife lay upon the table,
and the terrible thought struck me--
'Should I kill this sleeping accomplice in
the guilt of the murderer, and thus secure
my retreat?'

Nothing could be easier--it was but to
draw the blade across her throat--the
work of a second. An instant's pause,
however, corrected me. 'No,' thought I,
'the God who has conducted me thus far
through the valley of the shadow of death,
will not abandon me now. I will fall into
their hands, or I will escape hence, but it
shall be free from the stain of blood. His
will be done.'

I felt a confidence arising from this
reflection, an assurance of protection which
I cannot describe. There was no other
means of escape, so I advanced, with a
firm step and collected mind, to the
window. I noiselessly withdrew the bars
and unclosed the shutters--I pushed open
the casement, and, without waiting to look
behind me, I ran with my utmost speed,
scarcely feeling the ground under me, down
the avenue, taking care to keep upon the
grass which bordered it.

I did not for a moment slack my speed,
and I had now gained the centre point
between the park-gate and the mansion-
house. Here the avenue made a wider
circuit, and in order to avoid delay, I
directed my way across the smooth sward
round which the pathway wound, intending,
at the opposite side of the flat, at a
point which I distinguished by a group of
old birch-trees, to enter again upon the
beaten track, which was from thence
tolerably direct to the gate.

I had, with my utmost speed, got about
half way across this broad flat, when the
rapid treading of a horse's hoofs struck
upon my ear. My heart swelled in my
bosom as though I would smother. The
clattering of galloping hoofs approached--
I was pursued--they were now upon the
sward on which I was running--there was
not a bush or a bramble to shelter me--
and, as if to render escape altogether
desperate, the moon, which had hitherto
been obscured, at this moment shone forth
with a broad clear light, which made every
object distinctly visible.

The sounds were now close behind me.
I felt my knees bending under me, with
the sensation which torments one in
dreams. I reeled--I stumbled--I fell--
and at the same instant the cause of my
alarm wheeled past me at full gallop. It
was one of the young fillies which
pastured loose about the park, whose
frolics had thus all but maddened me
with terror. I scrambled to my feet, and
rushed on with weak but rapid steps, my
sportive companion still galloping round
and round me with many a frisk and fling,
until, at length, more dead than alive, I
reached the avenue-gate and crossed the
stile, I scarce knew how.

I ran through the village, in which all was
silent as the grave, until my progress was
arrested by the hoarse voice of a sentinel,
who cried: 'Who goes there?' I felt that
I was now safe. I turned in the direction
of the voice, and fell fainting at the
soldier's feet. When I came to myself; I
was sitting in a miserable hovel,
surrounded by strange faces, all bespeaking
curiosity and compassion.

Many soldiers were in it also: indeed,
as I afterwards found, it was employed as
a guard-room by a detachment of troops
quartered for that night in the town. In
a few words I informed their officer of the
circumstances which had occurred, describing
also the appearance of the persons
engaged in the murder; and he, without
loss of time, proceeded to the mansion-
house of Carrickleigh, taking with him a
party of his men. But the villains had
discovered their mistake, and had effected
their escape before the arrival of the
military.

The Frenchwoman was, however,
arrested in the neighbourhood upon the next
day. She was tried and condemned upon
the ensuing assizes; and previous to her
execution, confessed that 'SHE HAD A
HAND IN MAKING HUGH TISDAL'S BED.' She
had been a housekeeper in the castle at
the time, and a kind of chere amie of my
uncle's. She was, in reality, able to speak
English like a native, but had exclusively
used the French language, I suppose to
facilitate her disguise. She died the same
hardened wretch which she had lived,
confessing her crimes only, as she alleged, that
her doing so might involve Sir Arthur
T----n, the great author of her guilt and
misery, and whom she now regarded with
unmitigated detestation.

With the particulars of Sir Arthur's and
his son's escape, as far as they are known,
you are acquainted. You are also in
possession of their after fate--the terrible, the
tremendous retribution which, after long
delays of many years, finally overtook and
crushed them. Wonderful and inscrutable
are the dealings of God with His creatures.

Deep and fervent as must always be my
gratitude to heaven for my deliverance,
effected by a chain of providential
occurrences, the failing of a single link of which
must have ensured my destruction, I was
long before I could look back upon it with
other feelings than those of bitterness,
almost of agony.

The only being that had ever really
loved me, my nearest and dearest friend,
ever ready to sympathise, to counsel, and
to assist--the gayest, the gentlest, the
warmest heart--the only creature on
earth that cared for me--HER life had been
the price of my deliverance; and I then
uttered the wish, which no event of my
long and sorrowful life has taught me to
recall, that she had been spared, and that,
in her stead, _I_ were mouldering in the
grave, forgotten and at rest.

THE BRIDAL OF CARRIGVARAH.

Being a Sixth Extract from the Legacy of the late Francis
Purcell, P. P. of Drumcoolagh.

In a sequestered district of the
county of Limerick, there stood
my early life, some forty
years ago, one of those strong stone
buildings, half castle, half farm-house,
which are not unfrequent in the South of
Ireland, and whose solid masonry and
massive construction seem to prove at
once the insecurity and the caution of the
Cromwellite settlers who erected them.
At the time of which I speak, this
building was tenanted by an elderly man,
whose starch and puritanic mien and
manners might have become the morose
preaching parliamentarian captain, who
had raised the house and ruled the
household more than a hundred years
before; but this man, though Protestant
by descent as by name, was not so in
religion; he was a strict, and in outward
observances, an exemplary Catholic; his
father had returned in early youth to the
true faith, and died in the bosom of the
church.

Martin Heathcote was, at the time of
which I speak, a widower, but his house-
keeping was not on that account altogether
solitary, for he had a daughter, whose age
was now sufficiently advanced to warrant
her father in imposing upon her the
grave duties of domestic superintendence.

This little establishment was perfectly
isolated, and very little intruded upon by
acts of neighbourhood; for the rank of
its occupants was of that equivocal kind
which precludes all familiar association
with those of a decidedly inferior rank,
while it is not sufficient to entitle its
possessors to the society of established
gentility, among whom the nearest
residents were the O'Maras of Carrigvarah,
whose mansion-house, constructed
out of the ruins of an old abbey, whose
towers and cloisters had been levelled by
the shot of Cromwell's artillery, stood
not half a mile lower upon the river
banks.

Colonel O'Mara, the possessor of the
estates, was then in a declining state of
health, and absent with his lady from the
country, leaving at the castle, his son
young O'Mara, and a kind of humble
companion, named Edward Dwyer, who,
if report belied him not, had done in his
early days some PECULIAR SERVICES for the
Colonel, who had been a gay man--
perhaps worse--but enough of recapitulation.

It was in the autumn of the year 17--
that the events which led to the catastrophe
which I have to detail occurred.
I shall run through the said recital as
briefly as clearness will permit, and leave
you to moralise, if such be your mood,
upon the story of real life, which I even
now trace at this distant period not without
emotion.

It was upon a beautiful autumn evening,
at that glad period of the season when
the harvest yields its abundance, that
two figures were seen sauntering along
the banks of the winding river, which I
described as bounding the farm occupied
by Heathcote; they had been, as the rods
and landing-nets which they listlessly
carried went to show, plying the gentle,
but in this case not altogether solitary
craft of the fisherman. One of those
persons was a tall and singularly handsome
young man, whose dark hair and
complexion might almost have belonged
to a Spaniard, as might also the proud but
melancholy expression which gave to his
countenance a character which contrasts
sadly, but not uninterestingly, with
extreme youth; his air, as he spoke with
his companion, was marked by that careless
familiarity which denotes a conscious
superiority of one kind or other, or which
may be construed into a species of
contempt; his comrade afforded to him in
every respect a striking contrast. He
was rather low in stature--a defect which
was enhanced by a broad and square-built
figure--his face was sallow, and his
features had that prominence and sharpness
which frequently accompany personal
deformity--a remarkably wide mouth,
with teeth white as the fangs of a wolf,
and a pair of quick, dark eyes, whose
effect was heightened by the shadow of a
heavy black brow, gave to his face a
power of expression, particularly when
sarcastic or malignant emotions were to
be exhibited, which features regularly
handsome could scarcely have possessed.

'Well, sir,' said the latter personage,
'I have lived in hall and abbey, town
and country, here and abroad for forty
years and more, and should know a thing
or two, and as I am a living man, I
swear I think the girl loves you.'

'You are a fool, Ned,' said the
younger.

'I may be a fool,' replied the first
speaker, 'in matters where my own
advantage is staked, but my eye is keen
enough to see through the flimsy disguise
of a country damsel at a glance; and I
tell you, as surely as I hold this rod, the
girl loves you.'

'Oh I this is downright headstrong
folly,' replied the young fisherman.
'Why, Ned, you try to persuade me
against my reason, that the event which
is most to be deprecated has actually
occurred. She is, no doubt, a pretty
girl--a beautiful girl--but I have not
lost my heart to her; and why should I
wish her to be in love with me? Tush,
man, the days of romance are gone, and
a young gentleman may talk, and walk,
and laugh with a pretty country maiden,
and never breathe aspirations, or vows, or
sighs about the matter; unequal matches
are much oftener read of than made, and
the man who could, even in thought,
conceive a wish against the honour of
an unsuspecting, artless girl, is a villain,
for whom hanging is too good.'

This concluding sentence was uttered
with an animation and excitement, which
the mere announcement of an abstract
moral sentiment could hardly account
for.

'You are, then, indifferent, honestly
and in sober earnest, indifferent to the
girl?' inquired Dwyer.

'Altogether so,' was the reply.

'Then I have a request to make,'
continued Dwyer, 'and I may as well urge
it now as at any other time. I have
been for nearly twenty years the faithful,
and by no means useless, servant of your
family; you know that I have rendered
your father critical and important
services----' he paused, and added hastily:
'you are not in the mood--I tire you,
sir.'

'Nay,' cried O'Mara, 'I listen patiently
--proceed.'

'For all these services, and they were
not, as I have said, few or valueless, I
have received little more reward than
liberal promises; you have told me often
that this should be mended--I'll make it
easily done--I'm not unreasonable--I
should be contented to hold Heathcote's
ground, along with this small farm on
which we stand, as full quittance of all
obligations and promises between us.'

'But how the devil can I effect that
for you; this farm, it is true, I, or my
father, rather, may lease to you, but
Heathcote's title we cannot impugn; and
even if we could, you would not expect
us to ruin an honest man, in order to
make way for YOU, Ned.'

'What I am,' replied Dwyer, with the
calmness of one who is so accustomed to
contemptuous insinuations as to receive
them with perfect indifference, 'is to be
attributed to my devotedness to your
honourable family--but that is neither
here nor there. I do not ask you to
displace Heathcote, in order to made
room for me. I know it is out of your
power to do so. Now hearken to me for
a moment; Heathcote's property, that
which he has set out to tenants, is worth,
say in rents, at most, one hundred
pounds: half of this yearly amount is
assigned to your father, until payment be
made of a bond for a thousand pounds,
with interest and soforth. Hear me
patiently for a moment and I have done.
Now go you to Heathcote, and tell him
your father will burn the bond, and cancel
the debt, upon one condition--that when
I am in possession of this farm, which you
can lease to me on what terms you think
suitable, he will convey over his property
to me, reserving what life-interest may
appear fair, I engaging at the same time
to marry his daughter, and make such
settlements upon her as shall be thought
fitting--he is not a fool--the man will
close with the offer.'

O'Mara turned shortly upon Dwyer,
and gazed upon him for a moment with
an expression of almost unmixed resentment.

'How,' said he at length, 'YOU contract
to marry Ellen Heathcote? the poor,
innocent, confiding, light-hearted girl.
No, no, Edward Dwyer, I know you too
well for that--your services, be they what
they will, must not, shall not go unrewarded--
your avarice shall be appeased--
but not with a human sacrifice! Dwyer,
I speak to you without disguise; you
know me to be acquainted with your
history, and what's more, with your
character. Now tell me frankly, were I
to do as you desire me, in cool blood,
should I not prove myself a more
uncompromising and unfeeling villain than
humanity even in its most monstrous
shapes has ever yet given birth
to?'

Dwyer met this impetuous language
with the unmoved and impenetrable calmness
which always marked him when
excitement would have appeared in
others; he even smiled as he replied:
(and Dwyer's smile, for I have seen it,
was characteristically of that unfortunate
kind which implies, as regards the
emotions of others, not sympathy but
derision).

'This eloquence goes to prove Ellen
Heathcote something nearer to your heart
than your great indifference would have
led me to suppose.'

There was something in the tone,
perhaps in the truth of the insinuation, which
at once kindled the quick pride and the
anger of O'Mara, and he instantly replied:

'Be silent, sir, this is insolent
folly.'

Whether it was that Dwyer was more
keenly interested in the success of his suit,
or more deeply disappointed at its failure
than he cared to express, or that he was in
a less complacent mood than was his wont,
it is certain that his countenance expressed
more emotion at this direct insult than it
had ever exhibited before under similar
circumstances; for his eyes gleamed for an
instant with savage and undisguised ferocity
upon the young man, and a dark glow
crossed his brow, and for the moment he
looked about to spring at the throat of his
insolent patron; but the impulse whatever
it might be, was quickly suppressed, and
before O'Mara had time to detect the
scowl, it had vanished.

'Nay, sir,' said Dwyer, 'I meant no
offence, and I will take none, at your
hands at least. I will confess I care not,
in love and soforth, a single bean for the
girl; she was the mere channel through
which her father's wealth, if such a pittance
deserves the name, was to have flowed into
my possession--'twas in respect of your
family finances the most economical
provision for myself which I could devise--a
matter in which you, not I, are interested.
As for women, they are all pretty much
alike to me. I am too old myself to make
nice distinctions, and too ugly to succeed by
Cupid's arts; and when a man despairs of
success, he soon ceases to care for it. So,
if you know me, as you profess to do, rest
satisfied "caeteris paribus;" the money part
of the transaction being equally advantageous,
I should regret the loss of Ellen
Heathcote just as little as I should the
escape of a minnow from my landing-net.'

They walked on for a few minutes in
silence, which was not broken till Dwyer,
who had climbed a stile in order to pass a
low stone wall which lay in their way,
exclaimed:

'By the rood, she's here--how like a
philosopher you look."

The conscious blood mounted to O'Mara's
cheek; he crossed the stile, and, separated
from him only by a slight fence and a gate,
stood the subject of their recent and somewhat
angry discussion.

'God save you, Miss Heathcote,' cried
Dwyer, approaching the gate.

The salutation was cheerfully returned,
and before anything more could pass,
O'Mara had joined the party.

My friend, that you may understand the
strength and depth of those impetuous
passions, that you may account for the
fatal infatuation which led to the catastrophe
which I have to relate, I must tell
you, that though I have seen the beauties
of cities and of courts, with all the splendour
of studied ornament about them to
enhance their graces, possessing charms
which had made them known almost
throughout the world, and worshipped with
the incense of a thousand votaries, yet
never, nowhere did I behold a being of
such exquisite and touching beauty, as
that possessed by the creature of whom I
have just spoken. At the moment of
which I write, she was standing near the
gate, close to which several brown-armed,
rosy-cheeked damsels were engaged in
milking the peaceful cows, who stood
picturesquely grouped together. She had
just thrown back the hood which is the
graceful characteristic of the Irish girl's
attire, so that her small and classic head was
quite uncovered, save only by the dark-
brown hair, which with graceful simplicity
was parted above her forehead. There
was nothing to shade the clearness of her
beautiful complexion; the delicately-formed
features, so exquisite when taken singly, so
indescribable when combined, so purely
artless, yet so meet for all expression. She
was a thing so very beautiful, you could
not look on her without feeling your heart
touched as by sweet music. Whose
lightest action was a grace--whose lightest
word a spell--no limner's art, though ne'er
so perfect, could shadow forth her beauty;
and do I dare with feeble words try to
make you see it?[1] Providence is indeed
no respecter of persons, its blessings and
its inflictions are apportioned with an
undistinguishing hand, and until the race is
over, and life be done, none can know
whether those perfections, which seemed
its goodliest gifts, many not prove its most
fatal; but enough of this.

[1] Father Purcell seems to have had an admiration
for the beauties of nature, particularly as developed in
the fair sex; a habit of mind which has been rather
improved upon than discontinued by his successors
from Maynooth.--ED,

Dwyer strolled carelessly onward by
the banks of the stream, leaving his
young companion leaning over the gate
in close and interesting parlance with
Ellen Heathcote; as he moved on, he
half thought, half uttered words to this
effect:

'Insolent young spawn of ingratitude
and guilt, how long must I submit to be
trod upon thus; and yet why should I
murmur--his day is even now declining--
and if I live a year, I shall see the
darkness cover him and his for ever. Scarce
half his broad estates shall save him--but
I must wait--I am but a pauper now--a
beggar's accusation is always a libel--they
must reward me soon--and were I
independent once, I'd make them feel my
power, and feel it SO, that I should die the
richest or the best avenged servant of a
great man that has ever been heard of--
yes, I must wait--I must make sure of
something at least--I must be able to
stand by myself--and then--and then--'
He clutched his fingers together, as if in
the act of strangling the object of his
hatred. 'But one thing shall save him--
but one thing only--he shall pay me my
own price--and if he acts liberally, as no
doubt he will do, upon compulsion, why
he saves his reputation--perhaps his neck
--the insolent young whelp yonder would
speak in an humbler key if he but knew
his father's jeopardy--but all in good
time.'

He now stood upon the long, steep,
narrow bridge, which crossed the river
close to Carrigvarah, the family mansion
of the O'Maras; he looked back in the
direction in which he had left his
companion, and leaning upon the battlement,
he ruminated long and moodily. At
length he raised himself and said:

'He loves the girl, and WILL love her
more--I have an opportunity of winning
favour, of doing service, which shall bind
him to me; yes, he shall have the girl, if
I have art to compass the matter. I must
think upon it.'

He entered the avenue and was soon
lost in the distance.

Days and weeks passed on, and young
O'Mara daily took his rod and net, and
rambled up the river; and scarce twelve
hours elapsed in which some of those
accidents, which invariably bring lovers
together, did not secure him a meeting of
longer or shorter duration, with the
beautiful girl whom he so fatally
loved.

One evening, after a long interview with
her, in which he had been almost irresistibly
prompted to declare his love, and
had all but yielded himself up to the
passionate impulse, upon his arrival at
home he found a letter on the table
awaiting his return; it was from his
father to the following effect:

'To Richard O'Mara.
'September, 17--, L----m, England.

'MY DEAR SON,--
'I have just had a severe attack of
my old and almost forgotten enemy, the
gout. This I regard as a good sign; the
doctors telling me that it is the safest
development of peccant humours; and I
think my chest is less tormenting and
oppressed than I have known it for some
years. My chief reason for writing to
you now, as I do it not without difficulty,
is to let you know my pleasure in certain
matters, in which I suspect some shameful,
and, indeed, infatuated neglect on your
part, "quem perdere vult deus prius
dementat:" how comes it that you have
neglected to write to Lady Emily or any of
that family? the understood relation
subsisting between you is one of extreme
delicacy, and which calls for marked and
courteous, nay, devoted attention upon
your side. Lord ---- is already offended;
beware what you do; for as you will find,
if this match be lost by your fault or folly,
by ---- I will cut you off with a shilling.
I am not in the habit of using threats
when I do not mean to fulfil them, and
that you well know; however I do not
think you have much real cause for alarm
in this case. Lady Emily, who, by the
way, looks if possible more charming than
ever, is anything but hard-hearted, at
least when YOU solicit; but do as I desire,
and lose no time in making what excuse
you may, and let me hear from you when
you can fix a time to join me and your
mother here.
'Your sincere well-wisher and father,
'RICHARD O'MARA.'

In this letter was inclosed a smaller one,
directed to Dwyer, and containing a
cheque for twelve pounds, with the following
words:

'Make use of the enclosed, and let me
hear if Richard is upon any wild scheme
at present: I am uneasy about him, and
not without reason; report to me speedily
the result of your vigilance.
'R. O'MARA.'

Dwyer just glanced through this brief,
but not unwelcome, epistle; and deposited
it and its contents in the secret recesses of
his breeches pocket, and then fixed his
eyes upon the face of his companion, who
sat opposite, utterly absorbed in the perusal
of his father's letter, which he read again
and again, pausing and muttering between
whiles, and apparently lost in no very
pleasing reflections. At length he very
abruptly exclaimed:

'A delicate epistle, truly--and a politic
--would that my tongue had been burned
through before I assented to that doubly-
cursed contract. Why, I am not pledged
yet--I am not; there is neither writing,
nor troth, nor word of honour, passed
between us. My father has no right to
pledge me, even though I told him I liked
the girl, and would wish the match. 'Tis
not enough that my father offers her my
heart and hand; he has no right to do it;
a delicate woman would not accept professions
made by proxy. Lady Emily! Lady
Emily! with all the tawdry frippery, and
finery of dress and demeanour--compare
HER with---- Pshaw! Ridiculous! How
blind, how idiotic I have been.'

He relapsed into moody reflections,
which Dwyer did not care to disturb, and
some ten minutes might have passed before
he spoke again. When he did, it was in
the calm tone of one who has irrevocably
resolved upon some decided and important
act.

'Dwyer,' he said, rising and approaching
that person, 'whatever god or demon told
you, even before my own heart knew it,
that I loved Ellen Heathcote, spoke truth.
I love her madly--I never dreamed till
now how fervently, how irrevocably, I am
hers--how dead to me all other interests
are. Dwyer, I know something of your
disposition, and you no doubt think it
strange that I should tell to you, of all
persons, SUCH a secret; but whatever be
your faults, I think you are attached to
our family. I am satisfied you will not
betray me. I know----'

'Pardon me,' said Dwyer, 'if I say that
great professions of confidence too
frequently mark distrust. I have no possible
motive to induce me to betray you; on the
contrary, I would gladly assist and direct
whatever plans you may have formed.
Command me as you please; I have said
enough.'

'I will not doubt you, Dwyer,' said
O'Mara; ' I have taken my resolution--I
have, I think, firmness to act up to it. To
marry Ellen Heathcote, situated as I am,
were madness; to propose anything else
were worse, were villainy not to be named.
I will leave the country to-morrow, cost
what pain it may, for England. I will at
once break off the proposed alliance with
Lady Emily, and will wait until I am my
own master, to open my heart to Ellen.
My father may say and do what he likes;
but his passion will not last. He will
forgive me; and even were he to disinherit
me, as he threatens, there is some property
which must descend to me, which his will
cannot affect. He cannot ruin my
interests; he SHALL NOT ruin my happiness.
Dwyer, give me pen and ink; I will write
this moment.'

This bold plan of proceeding for many
reasons appeared inexpedient to Dwyer,
and he determined not to consent to its
adoption without a struggle.

'I commend your prudence,' said he, 'in
determining to remove yourself from the
fascinating influence which has so long
bound you here; but beware of offending
your father. Colonel O'Mara is not a man
to forgive an act of deliberate disobedience,
and surely you are not mad enough to
ruin yourself with him by offering an out-
rageous insult to Lady Emily and to her
family in her person; therefore you must
not break off the understood contract which
subsists between you by any formal act--
hear me out patiently. You must let Lady
Emily perceive, as you easily may, without
rudeness or even coldness of manner, that
she is perfectly indifferent to you; and
when she understands this to be the case,
it she possesses either delicacy or spirit,
she will herself break off the engagement.
Make what delay it is possible to effect;
it is very possible that your father, who
cannot, in all probability, live many
months, may not live as many days if
harassed and excited by such scenes as
your breaking off your engagement must
produce.'

'Dwyer,' said O'Mara, 'I will hear you
out--proceed.'

'Besides, sir, remember,' he continued,
'the understanding which we have termed
an engagement was entered into without
any direct sanction upon your part; your
father has committed HIMSELF, not YOU, to
Lord ----. Before a real contract can
subsist, you must be an assenting party to
it. I know of no casuistry subtle enough
to involve you in any engagement whatever,
without such an ingredient. Tush!
you have an easy card to play.'

'Well,' said the young man, 'I will
think on what you have said; in the
meantime, I will write to my father to
announce my immediate departure, in order
to join him.'

'Excuse me,' said Dwyer, 'but I would
suggest that by hastening your departure
you but bring your dangers nearer. While
you are in this country a letter now and
then keeps everything quiet; but once
across the Channel and with the colonel,
you must either quarrel with him to your
own destruction, or you must dance attendance
upon Lady Emily with such assiduity
as to commit yourself as completely as if
you had been thrice called with her in the
parish church. No, no; keep to this side
of the Channel as long as you decently
can. Besides, your sudden departure must
appear suspicious, and will probably excite
inquiry. Every good end likely to be
accomplished by your absence will be
effected as well by your departure for
Dublin, where you may remain for three
weeks or a month without giving rise to
curiosity or doubt of an unpleasant kind;
I would therefore advise you strongly to
write immediately to the colonel, stating
that business has occurred to defer your
departure for a month, and you can then
leave this place, if you think fit,
immediately, that is, within a week or so.'

Young O'Mara was not hard to be persuaded.
Perhaps it was that, unacknowledged
by himself, any argument which
recommended his staying, even for an
hour longer than his first decision had
announced, in the neighbourhood of Ellen
Heathcote, appeared peculiarly cogent and
convincing; however this may have been,
it is certain that he followed the counsel of
his cool-headed follower, who retired that
night to bed with the pleasing conviction
that he was likely soon to involve his
young patron in all the intricacies of
disguise and intrigue--a consummation which
would leave him totally at the mercy of
the favoured confidant who should possess
his secret.

Young O'Mara's reflections were more
agitating and less satisfactory than those
of his companion. He resolved upon
leaving the country before two days had
passed. He felt that he could not fairly
seek to involve Ellen Heathcote in his
fate by pledge or promise, until he had
extricated himself from those trammels
which constrained and embarrassed all his
actions. His determination was so far
prudent; but, alas! he also resolved that
it was but right, but necessary, that he
should see her before his departure. His
leaving the country without a look or a
word of parting kindness interchanged,
must to her appear an act of cold and
heartless caprice; he could not bear the
thought.

'No,' said he, 'I am not child enough
to say more than prudence tells me
ought to say; this cowardly distrust of my
firmness I should and will contemn.
Besides, why should I commit myself? It is
possible the girl may not care for me. No,
no; I need not shrink from this interview.
I have no reason to doubt my firmness--
none--none. I must cease to be governed
by impulse. I am involved in rocks
and quicksands; and a collected spirit,
a quick eye, and a steady hand, alone can
pilot me through. God grant me a safe
voyage!'

The next day came, and young O'Mara
did not take his fishing-rod as usual, but
wrote two letters; the one to his father,
announcing his intention of departing
speedily for England; the other to Lady
Emily, containing a cold but courteous
apology for his apparent neglect. Both
these were despatched to the post-office
that evening, and upon the next morning
he was to leave the country.

Upon the night of the momentous day
of which we have just spoken, Ellen Heathcote
glided silently and unperceived from
among the busy crowds who were engaged
in the gay dissipation furnished by what
is in Ireland commonly called a dance
(the expenses attendant upon which, music,
etc., are defrayed by a subscription of one
halfpenny each), and having drawn her
mantle closely about her, was proceeding
with quick steps to traverse the small
field which separated her from her father's
abode. She had not walked many yards
when she became aware that a solitary
figure, muffled in a cloak, stood in the
pathway. It approached; a low voice
whispered:

'Ellen.'

'Is it you, Master Richard?' she replied.

He threw back the cloak which had
concealed his features.

'It is I, Ellen, he said; 'I have been
watching for you. I will not delay you
long.'

He took her hand, and she did not
attempt to withdraw it; for she was too
artless to think any evil, too confiding to
dread it.

'Ellen,' he continued, even now unconsciously
departing from the rigid course
which prudence had marked out; 'Ellen,
I am going to leave the country; going
to-morrow. I have had letters from
England. I must go; and the sea will soon
be between us.'

He paused, and she was silent.

'There is one request, one entreaty I
have to make,' he continued; 'I would,
when I am far away, have something to
look at which belonged to you. Will you
give me--do not refuse it--one little lock
of your beautiful hair?'

With artless alacrity, but with trembling
hand, she took the scissors, which in simple
fashion hung by her side, and detached one
of the long and beautiful locks which
parted over her forehead. She placed it
in his hand.

Again he took her hand, and twice he
attempted to speak in vain; at length he
said:

'Ellen, when I am gone--when I am
away--will you sometimes remember,
sometimes think of me?'

Ellen Heathcote had as much, perhaps
more, of what is noble in pride than the
haughtiest beauty that ever trod a court;
but the effort was useless; the honest
struggle was in vain; and she burst into
floods of tears, bitterer than she had ever
shed before.

I cannot tell how passions rise and fall;
I cannot describe the impetuous words of
the young lover, as pressing again and
again to his lips the cold, passive hand,
which had been resigned to him, prudence,
caution, doubts, resolutions, all vanished
from his view, and melted into nothing.
'Tis for me to tell the simple fact, that
from that brief interview they both
departed promised and pledged to each other
for ever.

Through the rest of this story events
follow one another rapidly.

A few nights after that which I have
just mentioned, Ellen Heathcote disappeared;
but her father was not left long
in suspense as to her fate, for Dwyer,
accompanied by one of those mendicant
friars who traversed the country then even
more commonly than they now do, called
upon Heathcote before he had had time to
take any active measures for the recovery
of his child, and put him in possession of
a document which appeared to contain
satisfactory evidence of the marriage of
Ellen Heathcote with Richard O'Mara,
executed upon the evening previous, as the
date went to show; and signed by both
parties, as well as by Dwyer and a servant
of young O'Mara's, both these having acted
as witnesses; and further supported by
the signature of Peter Nicholls, a brother
of the order of St. Francis, by whom the
ceremony had been performed, and whom
Heathcote had no difficulty in recognising
in the person of his visitant.

This document, and the prompt personal
visit of the two men, and above all, the
known identity of the Franciscan, satisfied
Heathcote as fully as anything short
of complete publicity could have done.
And his conviction was not a mistaken
one.

Dwyer, before he took his leave,
impressed upon Heathcote the necessity of
keeping the affair so secret as to render it
impossible that it should reach Colonel
O'Mara's ears, an event which would have
been attended with ruinous consequences to
all parties. He refused, also, to permit
Heathcote to see his daughter, and even
to tell him where she was, until circumstances
rendered it safe for him to visit
her.

Heathcote was a harsh and sullen man;
and though his temper was anything but
tractable, there was so much to please,
almost to dazzle him, in the event, that he
accepted the terms which Dwyer imposed
upon him without any further token of
disapprobation than a shake of the head,
and a gruff wish that 'it might prove all
for the best.'

Nearly two months had passed, and
young O'Mara had not yet departed for
England. His letters had been strangely
few and far between; and in short, his
conduct was such as to induce Colonel
O'Mara to hasten his return to Ireland,
and at the same time to press an engagement,
which Lord ----, his son Captain
N----, and Lady Emily had made to
spend some weeks with him at his
residence in Dublin.

A letter arrived for young O'Mara,
stating the arrangement, and requiring his
attendance in Dublin, which was accordingly
immediately afforded.

He arrived, with Dwyer, in time to
welcome his father and his distinguished
guests. He resolved to break off his
embarrassing connection with Lady Emily,
without, however, stating the real motive,
which he felt would exasperate the resentment
which his father and Lord ----
would no doubt feel at his conduct.

He strongly felt how dishonourably he
would act if, in obedience to Dwyer's
advice, he seemed tacitly to acquiesce in
an engagement which it was impossible for
him to fulfil. He knew that Lady Emily
was not capable of anything like strong
attachment; and that even if she were,
he had no reason whatever to suppose that
she cared at all for him.

He had not at any time desired the
alliance; nor had he any reason to suppose
the young lady in any degree less
indifferent. He regarded it now, and not
without some appearance of justice, as
nothing more than a kind of understood
stipulation, entered into by their parents,
and to be considered rather as a matter of
business and calculation than as involving
anything of mutual inclination on the part
of the parties most nearly interested in the
matter.

He anxiously, therefore, watched for an
opportunity of making known his feelings
to Lord ----, as he could not with propriety
do so to Lady Emily; but what at
a distance appeared to be a matter of easy
accomplishment, now, upon a nearer
approach, and when the immediate impulse
which had prompted the act had subsided,
appeared so full of difficulty and almost
inextricable embarrassments, that he
involuntarily shrunk from the task day after
day.

Though it was a source of indescribable
anxiety to him, he did not venture to write
to Ellen, for he could not disguise from
himself the danger which the secrecy of
his connection with her must incur by his
communicating with her, even through a
public office, where their letters might be
permitted to lie longer than the gossiping
inquisitiveness of a country town would
warrant him in supposing safe.

It was about a fortnight after young
O'Mara had arrived in Dublin, where all
things, and places, and amusements; and
persons seemed thoroughly stale, flat, and
unprofitable, when one day, tempted by
the unusual fineness of the weather, Lady
Emily proposed a walk in the College
Park, a favourite promenade at that time.
She therefore with young O'Mara, accompanied
by Dwyer (who, by-the-by, when
he pleased, could act the gentleman
sufficiently well), proceeded to the place
proposed, where they continued to walk for
some time.

'Why, Richard,' said Lady Emily, after
a tedious and unbroken pause of some
minutes, 'you are becoming worse and
worse every day. You are growing absolutely
intolerable; perfectly stupid! not
one good thing have I heard since I left
the house.'

O'Mara smiled, and was seeking for a
suitable reply, when his design was
interrupted, and his attention suddenly and
painfully arrested, by the appearance of
two figures, who were slowly passing the
broad walk on which he and his party
moved; the one was that of Captain
N----, the other was the form of--Martin
Heathcote!

O'Mara felt confounded, almost stunned;
the anticipation of some impending
mischief--of an immediate and violent
collision with a young man whom he had ever
regarded as his friend, were apprehensions
which such a juxtaposition could not fail
to produce.

'Is Heathcote mad?' thought he.
'What devil can have brought him
here?'

Dwyer having exchanged a significant
glance with O'Mara, said slightly to Lady
Emily:

'Will your ladyship excuse me for a
moment? I have a word to say to Captain
N----, and will, with your permission,
immediately rejoin you.'

He bowed, and walking rapidly on, was
in a few moments beside the object of his
and his patron's uneasiness.

Whatever Heathcote's object might be,
he certainly had not yet declared the secret,
whose safety O'Mara had so naturally
desired, for Captain N---- appeared in
good spirits; and on coming up to his
sister and her companion, he joined them
for a moment, telling O'Mara, laughingly,
that an old quiz had come from the country
for the express purpose of telling tales, as
it was to be supposed, of him (young
O'Mara), in whose neighbourhood he
lived.

During this speech it required all the
effort which it was possible to exert to
prevent O'Mara's betraying the extreme
agitation to which his situation gave rise.
Captain N----, however, suspected no-
thing, and passed on without further
delay.

Dinner was an early meal in those days,
and Lady Emily was obliged to leave the
Park in less than half an hour after the
unpleasant meeting which we have just
mentioned.

Young O'Mara and, at a sign from
him, Dwyer having escorted the lady
to the door of Colonel O'Mara's house,
pretended an engagement, and departed
together.

Richard O'Mara instantly questioned
his comrade upon the subject of his
anxiety; but Dwyer had nothing to
communicate of a satisfactory nature. He
had only time, while the captain had been
engaged with Lady Emily and her
companion, to say to Heathcote:

'Be secret, as you value your existence:
everything will be right, if you be but
secret.'

To this Heathcote had replied: 'Never
fear me; I understand what I am
about.'

This was said in such an ambiguous
manner that it was impossible to conjecture
whether he intended or not to act upon
Dwyer's exhortation. The conclusion
which appeared most natural, was by no
means an agreeable one.

It was much to be feared that Heathcote
having heard some vague report of
O'Mara's engagement with Lady Emily,
perhaps exaggerated, by the repetition,
into a speedily approaching marriage, had
become alarmed for his daughter's interest,
and had taken this decisive step in order
to prevent, by a disclosure of the circumstances
of his clandestine union with Ellen,
the possibility of his completing a guilty
alliance with Captain N----'s sister. If
he entertained the suspicions which they
attributed to him, he had certainly taken
the most effectual means to prevent their
being realised. Whatever his object might
be, his presence in Dublin, in company
with Captain N----, boded nothing good
to O'Mara.

They entered ----'s tavern, in Dame
Street, together; and there, over a hasty
and by no means a comfortable meal, they
talked over their plans and conjectures.
Evening closed in, and found them still
closeted together, with nothing to interrupt,
and a large tankard of claret to sustain
their desultory conversation.

Nothing had been determined upon,
except that Dwyer and O'Mara should
proceed under cover of the darkness to
search the town for Heathcote, and by
minute inquiries at the most frequented
houses of entertainment, to ascertain his
place of residence, in order to procuring a
full and explanatory interview with him.
They had each filled their last glass, and
were sipping it slowly, seated with their
feet stretched towards a bright cheerful
fire; the small table which sustained the
flagon of which we have spoken, together
with two pair of wax candles, placed
between them, so as to afford a convenient
resting-place for the long glasses out of
which they drank.

'One good result, at all events, will be
effected by Heathcote's visit,' said O'Mara.
'Before twenty-four hours I shall do that
which I should have done long ago. I
shall, without reserve, state everything.
I can no longer endure this suspense--this
dishonourable secrecy--this apparent
dissimulation. Every moment I have passed
since my departure from the country has
been one of embarrassment, of pain, of
humiliation. To-morrow I will brave
the storm, whether successfully or not is
doubtful; but I had rather walk the high
roads a beggar, than submit a day longer
to be made the degraded sport of every
accident--the miserable dependent upon a
successful system of deception. Though
PASSIVE deception, it is still unmanly,
unworthy, unjustifiable deception. I
cannot bear to think of it. I despise myself,
but I will cease to be the despicable thing
I have become. To-morrow sees me free,
and this harassing subject for ever at
rest.'

He was interrupted here by the sound
of footsteps heavily but rapidly ascending
the tavern staircase. The room door
opened, and Captain N----, accompanied
by a fashionably-attired young man,
entered the room.

Young O'Mara had risen from his seat
on the entrance of their unexpected
visitants; and the moment Captain N----
recognised his person, an evident and
ominous change passed over his countenance.
He turned hastily to withdraw, but,
as it seemed, almost instantly changed his
mind, for he turned again abruptly.

'This chamber is engaged, sir,' said the
waiter.

'Leave the room, sir,' was his only
reply.

'The room is engaged, sir,' repeated the
waiter, probably believing that his first
suggestion had been unheard.

'Leave the room, or go to hell!' shouted
Captain N----; at the same time seizing
the astounded waiter by the shoulder, he
hurled him headlong into the passage,
and flung the door to with a crash that
shook the walls. 'Sir,' continued he,
addressing himself to O'Mara, 'I did not
hope to have met you until to-morrow.
Fortune has been kind to me--draw, and
defend yourself.'

At the same time he drew his sword,
and placed himself in an attitude of
attack.

'I will not draw upon YOU,' said O'Mara.
'I have, indeed, wronged you. I have
given you just cause for resentment; but
against your life I will never lift my
hand.'

'You are a coward, sir,' replied Captain
N----, with almost frightful vehemence,
'as every trickster and swindler IS. You
are a contemptible dastard--a despicable,
damned villain! Draw your sword, sir,
and defend your life, or every post
and pillar in this town shall tell your
infamy.'

'Perhaps,' said his friend, with a sneer,
'the gentleman can do better without his
honour than without his wife.'

'Yes,' shouted the captain, 'his wife--
a trull--a common----'

'Silence, sir!' cried O'Mara, all the
fierceness of his nature roused by this last
insult--'your object is gained; your blood
be upon your own head.' At the same
time he sprang across a bench which stood
in his way, and pushing aside the table
which supported the lights, in an instant
their swords crossed, and they were
engaged in close and deadly strife.

Captain N---- was far the stronger of
the two; but, on the other hand, O'Mara
possessed far more skill in the use of the
fatal weapon which they employed. But
the narrowness of the room rendered this
advantage hardly available.

Almost instantly O'Mara received a
slight wound upon the forehead, which,
though little more than a scratch, bled so
fast as to obstruct his sight considerably.

Those who have used the foil can tell
how slight a derangement of eye or of
hand is sufficient to determine a contest of
this kind; and this knowledge will prevent
their being surprised when I say, that,
spite of O'Mara's superior skill and
practice, his adversary's sword passed
twice through and through his body, and
he fell heavily and helplessly upon the
floor of the chamber.

Without saying a word, the successful
combatant quitted the room along with
his companion, leaving Dwyer to shift
as best he might for his fallen comrade.

With the assistance of some of the
wondering menials of the place, Dwyer
succeeded in conveying the wounded man
into an adjoining room, where he was laid
upon a bed, in a state bordering upon
insensibility--the blood flowing, I might
say WELLING, from the wounds so fast as
to show that unless the bleeding were
speedily and effectually stopped, he could
not live for half an hour.

Medical aid was, of course, instantly
procured, and Colonel O'Mara, though at
the time seriously indisposed, was urgently
requested to attend without loss of time.
He did so; but human succour and
support were all too late. The wound had
been truly dealt--the tide of life had ebbed;
and his father had not arrived five minutes
when young O'Mara was a corpse. His
body rests in the vaults of Christ Church, in
Dublin, without a stone to mark the spot.

The counsels of the wicked are always
dark, and their motives often beyond
fathoming; and strange, unaccountable,
incredible as it may seem, I do believe,
and that upon evidence so clear as to
amount almost to demonstration, that
Heathcote's visit to Dublin--his betrayal
of the secret--and the final and terrible
catastrophe which laid O'Mara in the
grave, were brought about by no other
agent than Dwyer himself.

I have myself seen the letter which
induced that visit. The handwriting is
exactly what I have seen in other alleged
specimens of Dwyer's penmanship. It is
written with an affectation of honest alarm
at O'Mara's conduct, and expresses a
conviction that if some of Lady Emily's
family be not informed of O'Mara's real
situation, nothing could prevent his
concluding with her an advantageous alliance,
then upon the tapis, and altogether throwing
off his allegiance to Ellen--a step
which, as the writer candidly asserted,
would finally conduce as inevitably to his
own disgrace as it immediately would to
her ruin and misery.

The production was formally signed
with Dwyer's name, and the postscript
contained a strict injunction of secrecy,
asserting that if it were ascertained that
such an epistle had been despatched from
such a quarter, it would be attended with
the total ruin of the writer.

It is true that Dwyer, many years after,
when this letter came to light, alleged it to
be a forgery, an assertion whose truth,
even to his dying hour, and long after he
had apparently ceased to feel the lash of
public scorn, he continued obstinately to
maintain. Indeed this matter is full of
mystery, for, revenge alone excepted,
which I believe, in such minds as Dwyer's,
seldom overcomes the sense of interest,
the only intelligible motive which could
have prompted him to such an act was the
hope that since he had, through young
O'Mara's interest, procured from the
colonel a lease of a small farm upon the
terms which he had originally stipulated,
he might prosecute his plan touching the
property of Martin Heathcote, rendering
his daughter's hand free by the removal of
young O'Mara. This appears to me too
complicated a plan of villany to have
entered the mind even of such a man as
Dwyer. I must, therefore, suppose his
motives to have originated out of
circumstances connected with this story which
may not have come to my ear, and perhaps
never will.

Colonel O'Mara felt the death of his
son more deeply than I should have
thought possible; but that son had been
the last being who had continued to
interest his cold heart. Perhaps the pride
which he felt in his child had in it more of
selfishness than of any generous feeling.
But, be this as it may, the melancholy
circumstances connected with Ellen
Heathcote had reached him, and his
conduct towards her proved, more strongly
than anything else could have done, that
he felt keenly and justly, and, to a certain
degree, with a softened heart, the fatal
event of which she had been, in some
manner, alike the cause and the victim.

He evinced not towards her, as might
have been expected, any unreasonable
resentment. On the contrary, he exhibited
great consideration, even tenderness, for
her situation; and having ascertained
where his son had placed her, he issued
strict orders that she should not be
disturbed, and that the fatal tidings, which
had not yet reached her, should be withheld
until they might be communicated in
such a way as to soften as much as
possible the inevitable shock.

These last directions were acted upon
too scrupulously and too long; and,
indeed, I am satisfied that had the event
been communicated at once, however
terrible and overwhelming the shock
might have been, much of the bitterest
anguish, of sickening doubts, of harassing
suspense, would have been spared her,
and the first tempestuous burst of sorrow
having passed over, her chastened spirit
might have recovered its tone, and her life
have been spared. But the mistaken
kindness which concealed from her the
dreadful truth, instead of relieving her
mind of a burden which it could not support,
laid upon it a weight of horrible
fears and doubts as to the affection of
O'Mara, compared with which even the
certainty of his death would have been
tolerable.

One evening I had just seated myself
beside a cheerful turf fire, with that true
relish which a long cold ride through a
bleak and shelterless country affords,
stretching my chilled limbs to meet the
genial influence, and imbibing the warmth
at every pore, when my comfortable
meditations were interrupted by a long
and sonorous ringing at the door-bell
evidently effected by no timid hand.

A messenger had arrived to request my
attendance at the Lodge--such was the
name which distinguished a small and
somewhat antiquated building, occupying
a peculiarly secluded position among the
bleak and heathy hills which varied the
surface of that not altogether uninteresting
district, and which had, I believe, been
employed by the keen and hardy ancestors
of the O'Mara family as a convenient
temporary residence during the sporting
season.

Thither my attendance was required, in
order to administer to a deeply distressed
lady such comforts as an afflicted mind can
gather from the sublime hopes and consolations
of Christianity.

I had long suspected that the occupant
of this sequestered, I might say desolate,
dwelling-house was the poor girl whose
brief story we are following; and feeling a
keen interest in her fate--as who that had
ever seen her DID NOT?--I started from my
comfortable seat with more eager alacrity
than, I will confess it, I might have
evinced had my duty called me in another
direction.

In a few minutes I was trotting rapidly
onward, preceded by my guide, who urged
his horse with the remorseless rapidity of
one who seeks by the speed of his progress
to escape observation. Over roads and
through bogs we splashed and clattered,
until at length traversing the brow of a
wild and rocky hill, whose aspect seemed
so barren and forbidding that it might
have been a lasting barrier alike to mortal
sight and step, the lonely building became
visible, lying in a kind of swampy flat,
with a broad reedy pond or lake stretching
away to its side, and backed by a farther
range of monotonous sweeping hills,
marked with irregular lines of grey rock,
which, in the distance, bore a rude and
colossal resemblance to the walls of a
fortification.

Riding with undiminished speed along
a kind of wild horse-track, we turned the
corner of a high and somewhat ruinous
wall of loose stones, and making a sudden
wheel we found ourselves in a small
quadrangle, surmounted on two sides by
dilapidated stables and kennels, on
another by a broken stone wall, and upon
the fourth by the front of the lodge itself.

The whole character of the place was that
of dreary desertion and decay, which
would of itself have predisposed the mind
for melancholy impressions. My guide
dismounted, and with respectful attention
held my horse's bridle while I got down;
and knocking at the door with the handle
of his whip, it was speedily opened by a
neatly-dressed female domestic, and I was
admitted to the interior of the house, and
conducted into a small room, where a fire
in some degree dispelled the cheerless air,
which would otherwise have prevailed
to a painful degree throughout the
place.

I had been waiting but for a very few
minutes when another female servant,
somewhat older than the first, entered the
room. She made some apology on the
part of the person whom I had come to
visit, for the slight delay which had already
occurred, and requested me further to wait
for a few minutes longer, intimating that
the lady's grief was so violent, that without
great effort she could not bring herself
to speak calmly at all. As if to beguile
the time, the good dame went on in a
highly communicative strain to tell me,
amongst much that could not interest me,
a little of what I had desired to hear. I
discovered that the grief of her whom I
had come to visit was excited by the
sudden death of a little boy, her only
child, who was then lying dead in his
mother's chamber.

'And the mother's name?' said I, inquiringly.

The woman looked at me for a moment,
smiled, and shook her head with the air of
mingled mystery and importance which
seems to say, 'I am unfathomable.' I
did not care to press the question, though
I suspected that much of her apparent
reluctance was affected, knowing that my
doubts respecting the identity of the person
whom I had come to visit must soon
be set at rest, and after a little pause the
worthy Abigail went on as fluently as
ever. She told me that her young
mistress had been, for the time she had
been with her--that was, for about a year
and a half--in declining health and spirits,
and that she had loved her little child to a
degree beyond expression--so devotedly
that she could not, in all probability,
survive it long.

While she was running on in this way
the bell rang, and signing me to follow,
she opened the room door, but stopped in
the hall, and taking me a little aside, and
speaking in a whisper, she told me, as I
valued the life of the poor lady, not to say
one word of the death of young O'Mara.
I nodded acquiescence, and ascending a
narrow and ill-constructed staircase, she
stopped at a chamber door and knocked.

'Come in,' said a gentle voice from
within, and, preceded by my conductress,
I entered a moderately-sized, but rather
gloomy chamber.

There was but one living form within it
--it was the light and graceful figure of a
young woman. She had risen as I
entered the room; but owing to the
obscurity of the apartment, and to the
circumstance that her face, as she looked
towards the door, was turned away from
the light, which found its way in dimly
through the narrow windows, I could not
instantly recognise the features.

'You do not remember me, sir?' said the
same low, mournful voice. 'I am--I WAS
--Ellen Heathcote.'

'I do remember you, my poor child,'
said I, taking her hand; 'I do remember
you very well. Speak to me frankly--
speak to me as a friend. Whatever I can
do or say for you, is yours already; only
speak.'

'You were always very kind, sir, to
those--to those that WANTED kindness.'

The tears were almost overflowing, but
she checked them; and as if an accession
of fortitude had followed the momentary
weakness, she continued, in a subdued but
firm tone, to tell me briefly the
circumstances of her marriage with O'Mara.
When she had concluded the recital,
she paused for a moment; and I asked
again:

'Can I aid you in any way--by advice
or otherwise?'

'I wish, sir, to tell you all I have been
thinking about,' she continued. 'I am
sure, sir, that Master Richard loved me
once--I am sure he did not think to
deceive me; but there were bad, hard-
hearted people about him, and his family
were all rich and high, and I am sure he
wishes NOW that he had never, never seen
me. Well, sir, it is not in my heart to blame
him. What was _I_ that I should look at
him?--an ignorant, poor, country girl--
and he so high and great, and so beautiful.
The blame was all mine--it was all my
fault; I could not think or hope he would
care for me more than a little time. Well,
sir, I thought over and over again that
since his love was gone from me for ever,
I should not stand in his way, and hinder
whatever great thing his family wished for
him. So I thought often and often to write
him a letter to get the marriage broken,
and to send me home; but for one reason,
I would have done it long ago: there was
a little child, his and mine--the dearest,
the loveliest.' She could not go on for a
minute or two. 'The little child that is
lying there, on that bed; but it is dead
and gone, and there is no reason NOW why
I should delay any more about it.'

She put her hand into her breast, and
took out a letter, which she opened. She
put it into my hands. It ran thus:

'DEAR MASTER RICHARD,
'My little child is dead, and your
happiness is all I care about now. Your
marriage with me is displeasing to your
family, and I would be a burden to you,
and in your way in the fine places, and
among the great friends where you must
be. You ought, therefore, to break the
marriage, and I will sign whatever YOU
wish, or your family. I will never try
to blame you, Master Richard--do not
think it--for I never deserved your
love, and must not complain now that
I have lost it; but I will always pray
for you, and be thinking of you while
I live.'

While I read this letter, I was satisfied
that so far from adding to the poor
girl's grief, a full disclosure of what had
happened would, on the contrary, mitigate
her sorrow, and deprive it of its sharpest
sting.

'Ellen,' said I solemnly, 'Richard
O'Mara was never unfaithful to you; he
is now where human reproach can reach
him no more.'

As I said this, the hectic flush upon her
cheek gave place to a paleness so deadly,
that I almost thought she would drop lifeless
upon the spot.

'Is he--is he dead, then?' said she,
wildly.

I took her hand in mine, and told her
the sad story as best I could. She listened
with a calmness which appeared almost
unnatural, until I had finished the mournful
narration. She then arose, and going to
the bedside, she drew the curtain and gazed
silently and fixedly on the quiet face of the
child: but the feelings which swelled at
her heart could not be suppressed; the
tears gushed forth, and sobbing as if her
heart would break, she leant over the bed
and took the dead child in her arms.

She wept and kissed it, and kissed it and
wept again, in grief so passionate, so
heartrending, as to draw bitter tears from
my eyes. I said what little I could to
calm her--to have sought to do more
would have been a mockery; and observing
that the darkness had closed in, I
took my leave and departed, being
favoured with the services of my former
guide.

I expected to have been soon called
upon again to visit the poor girl; but
the Lodge lay beyond the boundary of my
parish, and I felt a reluctance to trespass
upon the precincts of my brother minister,
and a certain degree of hesitation in intruding
upon one whose situation was so
very peculiar, and who would, I had no
doubt, feel no scruple in requesting my
attendance if she desired it.

A month, however, passed away, and I
did not hear anything of Ellen. I called
at the Lodge, and to my inquiries they
answered that she was very much worse
in health, and that since the death of the
child she had been sinking fast, and so
weak that she had been chiefly confined
to her bed. I sent frequently to inquire,
and often called myself, and all that I
heard convinced me that she was rapidly
sinking into the grave.

Late one night I was summoned from
my rest, by a visit from the person who
had upon the former occasion acted as
my guide; he had come to summon me to
the death-bed of her whom I had then
attended. With all celerity I made my
preparations, and, not without considerable
difficulty and some danger, we made a
rapid night-ride to the Lodge, a distance
of five miles at least. We arrived safely,
and in a very short time--but too late.

I stood by the bed upon which lay the
once beautiful form of Ellen Heathcote.
The brief but sorrowful trial was past--
the desolate mourner was gone to that
land where the pangs of grief, the tumults
of passion, regrets and cold neglect, are
felt no more. I leant over the lifeless face,
and scanned the beautiful features which,
living, had wrought such magic on all that
looked upon them. They were, indeed,
much wasted; but it was impossible for
the fingers of death or of decay altogether
to obliterate the traces of that exquisite
beauty which had so distinguished her.
As I gazed on this most sad and striking
spectacle, remembrances thronged fast upon
my mind, and tear after tear fell upon the
cold form that slept tranquilly and for ever.

A few days afterwards I was told that a
funeral had left the Lodge at the dead of
night, and had been conducted with the
most scrupulous secrecy. It was, of course,
to me no mystery.

Heathcote lived to a very advanced age,
being of that hard mould which is not
easily impressionable. The selfish and the
hard-hearted survive where nobler, more
generous, and, above all, more sympathising
natures would have sunk for ever.

Dwyer certainly succeeded in extorting,
I cannot say how, considerable and advantageous
leases from Colonel O'Mara; but
after his death he disposed of his interest
in these, and having for a time launched
into a sea of profligate extravagance, he
became bankrupt, and for a long time I
totally lost sight of him.

The rebellion of '98, and the events
which immediately followed, called him
forth from his lurking-places, in the
character of an informer; and I myself have
seen the hoary-headed, paralytic perjurer,
with a scowl of derision and defiance, brave
the hootings and the execrations of the
indignant multitude.

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