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The Purcell Papers, Volume 3 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Part 2 out of 4

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He left the room, and in a few moments
I saw him ride past the window, followed
by a mounted servant. He had directed
a domestic to inform me that he should not
be back until the next day.

I was in very great doubt as to what
course of conduct I should pursue, as to
accompanying him in the continental tour
so suddenly determined upon. I felt that
it would be a hazard too great to encounter;
for at Cahergillagh I had always the
consciousness to sustain me, that if his temper
at any time led him into violent or
unwarrantable treatment of me, I had a
remedy within reach, in the protection and
support of my own family, from all useful and
effective communication with whom, if once
in France, I should be entirely debarred.

As to remaining at Cahergillagh in
solitude, and, for aught I knew, exposed to
hidden dangers, it appeared to me scarcely
less objectionable than the former proposition;
and yet I feared that with one or
other I must comply, unless I was prepared
to come to an actual breach with Lord
Glenfallen. Full of these unpleasing doubts
and perplexities, I retired to rest.

I was wakened, after having slept uneasily
for some hours, by some person shaking me
rudely by the shoulder; a small lamp
burned in my room, and by its light, to my
horror and amazement, I discovered that my
visitant was the self-same blind old lady
who had so terrified me a few weeks before.

I started up in the bed, with a view to
ring the bell, and alarm the domestics; but
she instantly anticipated me by saying:

'Do not be frightened, silly girl! If I had
wished to harm you I could have done it
while you were sleeping; I need not have
wakened you. Listen to me, now, attentively
and fearlessly, for what I have to say
interests you to the full as much as it does
me. Tell me here, in the presence of God,
did Lord Glenfallen marry you--ACTUALLY
MARRY you? Speak the truth, woman.'

'As surely as I live and speak,' I
replied, 'did Lord Glenfallen marry me,
in presence of more than a hundred witnesses.'

'Well,' continued she, 'he should have
told you THEN, before you married him, that
he had a wife living, which wife I am. I
feel you tremble--tush! do not be frightened.
I do not mean to harm you. Mark
me now--you are NOT his wife. When I
make my story known you will be so
neither in the eye of God nor of man. You
must leave this house upon to-morrow.
Let the world know that your husband has
another wife living; go you into retirement,
and leave him to justice, which will
surely overtake him. If you remain in
this house after to-morrow you will reap the
bitter fruits of your sin.'

So saying, she quitted the room,
leaving me very little disposed to

Here was food for my very worst and
most terrible suspicions; still there was not
enough to remove all doubt. I had no
proof of the truth of this woman's statement.

Taken by itself, there was nothing to
induce me to attach weight to it; but when
I viewed it in connection with the
extraordinary mystery of some of Lord Glen-
fallen's proceedings, his strange anxiety to
exclude me from certain portions of the
mansion, doubtless lest I should encounter
this person--the strong influence, nay,
command which she possessed over him, a
circumstance clearly established by the very
fact of her residing in the very place where,
of all others, he should least have desired to
find her--her thus acting, and continuing
to act in direct contradiction to his wishes;
when, I say, I viewed her disclosure in
connection with all these circumstances, I could
not help feeling that there was at least a
fearful verisimilitude in the allegations
which she had made.

Still I was not satisfied, nor nearly so.
Young minds have a reluctance almost
insurmountable to believing, upon anything
short of unquestionable proof, the existence
of premeditated guilt in anyone whom they
have ever trusted; and in support of this
feeling I was assured that if the assertion of
Lord Glenfallen, which nothing in this
woman's manner had led me to disbelieve,
were true, namely that her mind was
unsound, the whole fabric of my doubts and
fears must fall to the ground.

I determined to state to Lord Glenfallen
freely and accurately the substance of the
communication which I had just heard, and
in his words and looks to seek for its proof
or refutation. Full of these thoughts, I
remained wakeful and excited all night,
every moment fancying that I heard the
step or saw the figure of my recent visitor,
towards whom I felt a species of horror and
dread which I can hardly describe.

There was something in her face, though
her features had evidently been handsome,
and were not, at first sight, unpleasing,
which, upon a nearer inspection, seemed to
indicate the habitual prevalence and
indulgence of evil passions, and a power of
expressing mere animal anger, with an intenseness
that I have seldom seen equalled, and
to which an almost unearthly effect was
given by the convulsive quivering of the
sightless eyes.

You may easily suppose that it was no
very pleasing reflection to me to consider
that, whenever caprice might induce her to
return, I was within the reach of this violent
and, for aught I knew, insane woman,
who had, upon that very night, spoken to
me in a tone of menace, of which her mere
words, divested of the manner and look with
which she uttered them, can convey but a
faint idea.

Will you believe me when I tell you that
I was actually afraid to leave my bed in
order to secure the door, lest I should
again encounter the dreadful object lurking
in some corner or peeping from behind
the window-curtains, so very a child was I
in my fears.

The morning came, and with it Lord
Glenfallen. I knew not, and indeed I cared
not, where he might have been; my
thoughts were wholly engrossed by the
terrible fears and suspicions which my last
night's conference had suggested to me.
He was, as usual, gloomy and abstracted,
and I feared in no very fitting mood to
hear what I had to say with patience,
whether the charges were true or false.

I was, however, determined not to suffer
the opportunity to pass, or Lord Glenfallen
to leave the room, until, at all hazards,
I had unburdened my mind.

'My lord,' said I, after a long silence,
summoning up all my firmness--'my lord,
I wish to say a few words to you upon
a matter of very great importance, of very
deep concernment to you and to me.'

I fixed my eyes upon him to discern, if
possible, whether the announcement caused
him any uneasiness; but no symptom of
any such feeling was perceptible.

'Well, my dear,' said he, 'this is no
doubt a very grave preface, and portends,
I have no doubt, something extraordinary.
Pray let us have it without more ado.'

He took a chair, and seated himself
nearly opposite to me.

'My lord,' said I, 'I have seen the
person who alarmed me so much a short
time since, the blind lady, again, upon last
night.' His face, upon which my eyes
were fixed, turned pale; he hesitated for a
moment, and then said:

'And did you, pray, madam, so totally
forget or spurn my express command, as
to enter that portion of the house from
which your promise, I might say your
oath, excluded you?--answer me that!' he
added fiercely.

'My lord,' said I, 'I have neither
forgotten your COMMANDS, since such they
were, nor disobeyed them. I was, last
night, wakened from my sleep, as I lay
in my own chamber, and accosted by the
person whom I have mentioned. How she
found access to the room I cannot pretend
to say.'

'Ha! this must be looked to,' said he,
half reflectively; 'and pray,' added he,
quickly, while in turn he fixed his eyes
upon me, 'what did this person say? since
some comment upon her communication
forms, no doubt, the sequel to your preface.'

'Your lordship is not mistaken,' said I;
'her statement was so extraordinary that
I could not think of withholding it from
you. She told me, my lord, that you had
a wife living at the time you married me,
and that she was that wife.'

Lord Glenfallen became ashy pale,
almost livid; he made two or three efforts
to clear his voice to speak, but in vain,
and turning suddenly from me, he walked
to the window. The horror and dismay
which, in the olden time, overwhelmed
the woman of Endor when her spells
unexpectedly conjured the dead into her
presence, were but types of what I felt
when thus presented with what appeared
to be almost unequivocal evidence of the
guilt whose existence I had before so
strongly doubted.

There was a silence of some moments,
during which it were hard to conjecture
whether I or my companion suffered

Lord Glenfallen soon recovered his self-
command; he returned to the table, again
sat down and said:

'What you have told me has so
astonished me, has unfolded such a tissue
of motiveless guilt, and in a quarter from
which I had so little reason to look for
ingratitude or treachery, that your
announcement almost deprived me of speech;
the person in question, however, has one
excuse, her mind is, as I told you before,
unsettled. You should have remembered
that, and hesitated to receive as
unexceptionable evidence against the honour of
your husband, the ravings of a lunatic. I
now tell you that this is the last time I
shall speak to you upon this subject, and,
in the presence of the God who is to judge
me, and as I hope for mercy in the day
of judgment, I swear that the charge thus
brought against me is utterly false,
unfounded, and ridiculous; I defy the world
in any point to taint my honour; and,
as I have never taken the opinion of madmen
touching your character or morals, I
think it but fair to require that you will
evince a like tenderness for me; and now,
once for all, never again dare to repeat
to me your insulting suspicions, or the
clumsy and infamous calumnies of fools.
I shall instantly let the worthy lady who
contrived this somewhat original device,
understand fully my opinion upon the
matter. Good morning;' and with these
words he left me again in doubt, and
involved in all horrors of the most agonising

I had reason to think that Lord
Glenfallen wreaked his vengeance upon the
author of the strange story which I had
heard, with a violence which was not
satisfied with mere words, for old Martha,
with whom I was a great favourite, while
attending me in my room, told me that
she feared her master had ill-used the
poor blind Dutch woman, for that she
had heard her scream as if the very life
were leaving her, but added a request that
I should not speak of what she had told
me to any one, particularly to the master.

'How do you know that she is a Dutch
woman?' inquired I, anxious to learn
anything whatever that might throw a light
upon the history of this person, who seemed
to have resolved to mix herself up in my

'Why, my lady,' answered Martha, 'the
master often calls her the Dutch hag, and
other names you would not like to hear,
and I am sure she is neither English nor
Irish; for, whenever they talk together,
they speak some queer foreign lingo, and
fast enough, I'll be bound. But I ought
not to talk about her at all; it might be
as much as my place is worth to mention
her--only you saw her first yourself, so
there can be no great harm in speaking of
her now.'

'How long has this lady been here?'
continued I.

'She came early on the morning after
your ladyship's arrival,' answered she; 'but
do not ask me any more, for the master
would think nothing of turning me out of
doors for daring to speak of her at all,
much less to you, my lady.'

I did not like to press the poor woman
further, for her reluctance to speak on this
topic was evident and strong.

You will readily believe that upon the
very slight grounds which my information
afforded, contradicted as it was by the
solemn oath of my husband, and derived
from what was, at best, a very questionable
source, I could not take any very
decisive measure whatever; and as to the
menace of the strange woman who had thus
unaccountably twice intruded herself into
my chamber, although, at the moment, it
occasioned me some uneasiness, it was not,
even in my eyes, sufficiently formidable to
induce my departure from Cahergillagh.

A few nights after the scene which I
have just mentioned, Lord Glenfallen having,
as usual, early retired to his study, I was
left alone in the parlour to amuse myself
as best I might.

It was not strange that my thoughts
should often recur to the agitating scenes
in which I had recently taken a part.

The subject of my reflections, the solitude,
the silence, and the lateness of the hour,
as also the depression of spirits to which I
had of late been a constant prey, tended to
produce that nervous excitement which places
us wholly at the mercy of the imagination.

In order to calm my spirits I was
endeavouring to direct my thoughts into
some more pleasing channel, when I heard,
or thought I heard, uttered, within a few
yards of me, in an odd, half-sneering tone,
the words,

'There is blood upon your ladyship's

So vivid was the impression that I
started to my feet, and involuntarily placed
my hand upon my neck.

I looked around the room for the speaker,
but in vain.

I went then to the room-door, which I
opened, and peered into the passage, nearly
faint with horror lest some leering, shapeless
thing should greet me upon the threshold.

When I had gazed long enough to assure
myself that no strange object was within
sight, 'I have been too much of a rake lately;
I am racking out my nerves,' said I,
speaking aloud, with a view to reassure

I rang the bell, and, attended by old
Martha, I retired to settle for the night.

While the servant was--as was her
custom--arranging the lamp which I have
already stated always burned during the
night in my chamber, I was employed
in undressing, and, in doing so, I had
recourse to a large looking-glass which
occupied a considerable portion of the wall
in which it was fixed, rising from the
ground to a height of about six feet--this
mirror filled the space of a large panel
in the wainscoting opposite the foot of
the bed.

I had hardly been before it for the lapse
of a minute when something like a black
pall was slowly waved between me and

'Oh, God! there it is,' I exclaimed,
wildly. 'I have seen it again, Martha--
the black cloth.'

'God be merciful to us, then!' answered
she, tremulously crossing herself. 'Some
misfortune is over us.'

'No, no, Martha,' said I, almost instantly
recovering my collectedness; for, although
of a nervous temperament, I had never
been superstitious. 'I do not believe in
omens. You know I saw, or fancied I
saw, this thing before, and nothing followed.'

'The Dutch lady came the next morning,'
replied she.

'But surely her coming scarcely
deserved such a dreadful warning,' I

'She is a strange woman, my lady,' said
Martha; 'and she is not GONE yet--mark
my words.'

'Well, well, Martha,' said I, 'I have not
wit enough to change your opinions, nor
inclination to alter mine; so I will talk
no more of the matter. Good-night,' and
so I was left to my reflections.

After lying for about an hour awake,
I at length fell into a kind of doze; but
my imagination was still busy, for I was
startled from this unrefreshing sleep by
fancying that I heard a voice close to my
face exclaim as before:

'There is blood upon your ladyship's

The words were instantly followed by a
loud burst of laughter.

Quaking with horror, I awakened, and
heard my husband enter the room. Even
this was it relief.

Scared as I was, however, by the tricks
which my imagination had played me, I
preferred remaining silent, and pretending
to sleep, to attempting to engage my
husband in conversation, for I well knew that
his mood was such, that his words would
not, in all probability, convey anything
that had not better be unsaid and unheard.

Lord Glenfallen went into his dressing-
room, which lay upon the right-hand side
of the bed. The door lying open, I could
see him by himself, at full length upon a
sofa, and, in about half an hour, I became
aware, by his deep and regularly drawn
respiration, that he was fast asleep.

When slumber refuses to visit one, there
is something peculiarly irritating, not to
the temper, but to the nerves, in the
consciousness that some one is in your
immediate presence, actually enjoying the
boon which you are seeking in vain; at
least, I have always found it so, and
never more than upon the present occasion.

A thousand annoying imaginations
harassed and excited me; every object which
I looked upon, though ever so familiar,
seemed to have acquired a strange phantom-
like character, the varying shadows thrown
by the flickering of the lamplight, seemed
shaping themselves into grotesque and
unearthly forms, and whenever my eyes
wandered to the sleeping figure of my
husband, his features appeared to undergo
the strangest and most demoniacal contortions.

Hour after hour was told by the old
clock, and each succeeding one found me, if
possible, less inclined to sleep than its

It was now considerably past three; my
eyes, in their involuntary wanderings,
happened to alight upon the large mirror
which was, as I have said, fixed in the
wall opposite the foot of the bed. A view
of it was commanded from where I lay,
through the curtains. As I gazed fixedly
upon it, I thought I perceived the broad
sheet of glass shifting its position in
relation to the bed; I riveted my eyes upon
it with intense scrutiny; it was no
deception, the mirror, as if acting of its own
impulse, moved slowly aside, and disclosed
a dark aperture in the wall, nearly as large
as an ordinary door; a figure evidently
stood in this, but the light was too dim to
define it accurately.

It stepped cautiously into the chamber,
and with so little noise, that had I not
actually seen it, I do not think I should
have been aware of its presence. It was
arrayed in a kind of woollen night-dress,
and a white handkerchief or cloth was
bound tightly about the head; I had no
difficulty, spite of the strangeness of the
attire, in recognising the blind woman
whom I so much dreaded.

She stooped down, bringing her head
nearly to the ground, and in that attitude
she remained motionless for some moments,
no doubt in order to ascertain if any
suspicious sound were stirring.

She was apparently satisfied by her
observations, for she immediately recommenced
her silent progress towards a ponderous
mahogany dressing-table of my
husband's. When she had reached it, she
paused again, and appeared to listen
attentively for some minutes; she then
noiselessly opened one of the drawers, from
which, having groped for some time, she
took something, which I soon perceived to
be a case of razors. She opened it, and tried
the edge of each of the two instruments
upon the skin of her hand; she quickly
selected one, which she fixed firmly in her
grasp. She now stooped down as before,
and having listened for a time, she, with
the hand that was disengaged, groped her
way into the dressing-room where Lord
Glenfallen lay fast asleep.

I was fixed as if in the tremendous spell
of a nightmare. I could not stir even a
finger; I could not lift my voice; I could
not even breathe; and though I expected
every moment to see the sleeping man
murdered, I could not even close my eyes
to shut out the horrible spectacle, which I
had not the power to avert.

I saw the woman approach the sleeping
figure, she laid the unoccupied hand lightly
along his clothes, and having thus ascertained
his identity, she, after a brief
interval, turned back and again entered my
chamber; here she bent down again to

I had now not a doubt but that the
razor was intended for my throat; yet
the terrific fascination which had locked
all my powers so long, still continued to
bind me fast.

I felt that my life depended upon the
slightest ordinary exertion, and yet I
could not stir one joint from the position
in which I lay, nor even make noise
enough to waken Lord Glenfallen.

The murderous woman now, with long,
silent steps, approached the bed; my
very heart seemed turning to ice; her
left hand, that which was disengaged,
was upon the pillow; she gradually slid
it forward towards my head, and in an
instant, with the speed of lightning, it
was clutched in my hair, while, with
the other hand, she dashed the razor at
my throat.

A slight inaccuracy saved me from
instant death; the blow fell short, the
point of the razor grazing my throat.
In a moment, I know not how, I found
myself at the other side of the bed,
uttering shriek after shriek; the wretch
was, however, determined if possible to
murder me.

Scrambling along by the curtains, she
rushed round the bed towards me; I
seized the handle of the door to make my
escape. It was, however, fastened. At all
events, I could not open it. From the mere
instinct of recoiling terror, I shrunk
back into a corner. She was now within
a yard of me. Her hand was upon my

I closed my eyes fast, expecting never to
open them again, when a blow, inflicted
from behind by a strong arm, stretched the
monster senseless at my feet. At the same
moment the door opened, and several
domestics, alarmed by my cries, entered the

I do not recollect what followed, for I
fainted. One swoon succeeded another, so
long and death-like, that my life was
considered very doubtful.

At about ten o'clock, however, I sunk
into a deep and refreshing sleep, from which
I was awakened at about two, that I might
swear my deposition before a magistrate,
who attended for that purpose.

I accordingly did so, as did also Lord
Glenfallen, and the woman was fully
committed to stand her trial at the ensuing

I shall never forget the scene which the
examination of the blind woman and of
the other parties afforded.

She was brought into the room in the
custody of two servants. She wore a kind
of flannel wrapper which had not been
changed since the night before. It was
torn and soiled, and here and there smeared
with blood, which had flowed in large
quantities from a wound in her head. The
white handkerchief had fallen off in the
scuffle, and her grizzled hair fell in masses
about her wild and deadly pale countenance.

She appeared perfectly composed,
however, and the only regret she expressed
throughout, was at not having succeeded
in her attempt, the object of which she
did not pretend to conceal.

On being asked her name, she called
herself the Countess Glenfallen, and refused
to give any other title.

'The woman's name is Flora Van-
Kemp,' said Lord Glenfallen.

'It WAS, it WAS, you perjured traitor
and cheat!' screamed the woman; and
then there followed a volley of words
in some foreign language. 'Is there a
magistrate here?' she resumed; 'I am
Lord Glenfallen's wife--I'll prove it--
write down my words. I am willing to
be hanged or burned, so HE meets his
deserts. I did try to kill that doll of
his; but it was he who put it into my
head to do it--two wives were too many;
I was to murder her, or she was to hang
me; listen to all I have to say.'

Here Lord Glenfallen interrupted.

'I think, sir,' said he, addressing the
magistrate, 'that we had better proceed
to business; this unhappy woman's furious
recriminations but waste our time. If
she refuses to answer your questions,
you had better, I presume, take my

'And are you going to swear away
my life, you black-perjured murderer?'
shrieked the woman. 'Sir, sir, sir, you
must hear me,' she continued, addressing
the magistrate; 'I can convict him--he
bid me murder that girl, and then, when
I failed, he came behind me, and struck
me down, and now he wants to swear
away my life. Take down all I say.'

'If it is your intention,' said the
magistrate, 'to confess the crime with which you
stand charged, you may, upon producing
sufficient evidence, criminate whom you

'Evidence!--I have no evidence but
myself,' said the woman. 'I will swear
it all--write down my testimony--write
it down, I say--we shall hang side by side,
my brave lord--all your own handy-work,
my gentle husband.'

This was followed by a low, insolent,
and sneering laugh, which, from one in
her situation, was sufficiently horrible.

'I will not at present hear anything,'
replied he, 'but distinct answers to the
questions which I shall put to you upon
this matter.'

'Then you shall hear nothing,' replied
she sullenly, and no inducement or
intimidation could bring her to speak

Lord Glenfallen's deposition and mine
were then given, as also those of the
servants who had entered the room at the
moment of my rescue.

The magistrate then intimated that she
was committed, and must proceed directly
to gaol, whither she was brought in a
carriage; of Lord Glenfallen's, for his
lordship was naturally by no means in-
different to the effect which her vehement
accusations against himself might produce,
if uttered before every chance hearer whom
she might meet with between Cahergillagh
and the place of confinement whither she
was despatched.

During the time which intervened between
the committal and the trial of the prisoner,
Lord Glenfallen seemed to suffer agonies
of mind which baffle all description; he
hardly ever slept, and when he did, his
slumbers seemed but the instruments of
new tortures, and his waking hours were,
if possible, exceeded in intensity of terrors
by the dreams which disturbed his sleep.

Lord Glenfallen rested, if to lie in the
mere attitude of repose were to do so, in
his dressing-room, and thus I had an opportunity
of witnessing, far oftener than I
wished it, the fearful workings of his mind.
His agony often broke out into such fearful
paroxysms that delirium and total loss of
reason appeared to be impending. He
frequently spoke of flying from the country,
and bringing with him all the witnesses of
the appalling scene upon which the prosecution
was founded; then, again, he would
fiercely lament that the blow which he
had inflicted had not ended all.

The assizes arrived, however, and upon
the day appointed Lord Glenfallen and I
attended in order to give our evidence.

The cause was called on, and the prisoner
appeared at the bar.

Great curiosity and interest were felt
respecting the trial, so that the court was
crowded to excess.

The prisoner, however, without appearing
to take the trouble of listening to the
indictment, pleaded guilty, and no repre-
sentations on the part of the court availed
to induce her to retract her plea.

After much time had been wasted in a
fruitless attempt to prevail upon her to
reconsider her words, the court proceeded,
according to the usual form, to pass

This having been done, the prisoner was
about to be removed, when she said, in a
low, distinct voice:

'A word--a word, my lord!--Is Lord
Glenfallen here in the court?'

On being told that he was, she raised
her voice to a tone of loud menace, and

'Hardress, Earl of Glenfallen, I accuse
you here in this court of justice of two
crimes,--first, that you married a second
wife, while the first was living; and again,
that you prompted me to the murder, for
attempting which I am to die. Secure
him--chain him--bring him here.'

There was a laugh through the court at
these words, which were naturally treated
by the judge as a violent extemporary
recrimination, and the woman was desired
to be silent.

'You won't take him, then?' she said;
'you won't try him? You'll let him go

It was intimated by the court that he
would certainly be allowed 'to go free,'
and she was ordered again to be removed.

Before, however, the mandate was
executed, she threw her arms wildly into the
air, and uttered one piercing shriek so full
of preternatural rage and despair, that it
might fitly have ushered a soul into those
realms where hope can come no more.

The sound still rang in my ears, months
after the voice that had uttered it was for
ever silent.

The wretched woman was executed in
accordance with the sentence which had
been pronounced.

For some time after this event, Lord
Glenfallen appeared, if possible, to suffer
more than he had done before, and altogether
his language, which often amounted to half
confessions of the guilt imputed to him, and
all the circumstances connected with the
late occurrences, formed a mass of evidence
so convincing that I wrote to my father,
detailing the grounds of my fears, and
imploring him to come to Cahergillagh without
delay, in order to remove me from my
husband's control, previously to taking
legal steps for a final separation.

Circumstanced as I was, my existence
was little short of intolerable, for, besides
the fearful suspicions which attached to my
husband, I plainly perceived that if Lord
Glenfallen were not relieved, and that
speedily, insanity must supervene. I therefore
expected my father's arrival, or at least
a letter to announce it, with indescribable

About a week after the execution had
taken place, Lord Glenfallen one morning
met me with an unusually sprightly air.

'Fanny,' said he, 'I have it now for the
first time in my power to explain to your
satisfaction everything which has hitherto
appeared suspicious or mysterious in my
conduct. After breakfast come with me
to my study, and I shall, I hope, make all
things clear.'

This invitation afforded me more real
pleasure than I had experienced for months.
Something had certainly occurred to
tranquillize my husband's mind in no ordinary
degree, and I thought it by no means
impossible that he would, in the proposed
interview, prove himself the most injured
and innocent of men.

Full of this hope, I repaired to his study
at the appointed hour. He was writing
busily when I entered the room, and just
raising his eyes, he requested me to be

I took a chair as he desired, and
remained silently awaiting his leisure, while
he finished, folded, directed, and sealed his
letter. Laying it then upon the table
with the address downward, he said,

'My dearest Fanny, I know I must have
appeared very strange to you and very
unkind--often even cruel. Before the end
of this week I will show you the necessity
of my conduct--how impossible it was that
I should have seemed otherwise. I am
conscious that many acts of mine must
have inevitably given rise to painful
suspicions--suspicions which, indeed, upon
one occasion, you very properly communicated
to me. I have got two letters
from a quarter which commands respect,
containing information as to the course by
which I may be enabled to prove the negative
of all the crimes which even the most
credulous suspicion could lay to my charge.
I expected a third by this morning's post,
containing documents which will set the
matter for ever at rest, but owing, no
doubt, to some neglect, or, perhaps, to some
difficulty in collecting the papers, some
inevitable delay, it has not come to hand
this morning, according to my expectation.
I was finishing one to the very same
quarter when you came in, and if a sound
rousing be worth anything, I think I shall
have a special messenger before two days
have passed. I have been anxiously
considering with myself, as to whether I had
better imperfectly clear up your doubts by
submitting to your inspection the two
letters which I have already received, or
wait till I can triumphantly vindicate
myself by the production of the documents
which I have already mentioned, and I
have, I think, not unnaturally decided upon
the latter course. However, there is a
person in the next room whose testimony
is not without its value excuse me for
one moment.'

So saying, he arose and went to the
door of a closet which opened from the
study; this he unlocked, and half opening
the door, he said, 'It is only I,' and then
slipped into the room and carefully closed
and locked the door behind him.

I immediately heard his voice in
animated conversation. My curiosity upon
the subject of the letter was naturally great,
so, smothering any little scruples which I
might have felt, I resolved to look at the
address of the letter which lay, as my
husband had left it, with its face upon the
table. I accordingly drew it over to me
and turned up the direction.

For two or three moments I could scarce
believe my eyes, but there could be no
mistake--in large characters were traced
the words, 'To the Archangel Gabriel in

I had scarcely returned the letter to its
original position, and in some degree
recovered the shock which this unequivocal
proof of insanity produced, when the closet
door was unlocked, and Lord Glenfallen
re-entered the study, carefully closing and
locking the door again upon the outside.

'Whom have you there?' inquired I,
making a strong effort to appear calm.

'Perhaps,' said he, musingly, 'you might
have some objection to seeing her, at least
for a time.'

'Who is it?' repeated I.

'Why,' said he, 'I see no use in hiding
it--the blind Dutchwoman. I have been
with her the whole morning. She is very
anxious to get out of that closet; but you
know she is odd, she is scarcely to be

A heavy gust of wind shook the door
at this moment with a sound as if something
more substantial were pushing against

'Ha, ha, ha!--do you hear her?'
said he, with an obstreperous burst of

The wind died away in a long howl,
and Lord Glenfallen, suddenly checking his
merriment, shrugged his shoulders, and

'Poor devil, she has been hardly used.'

'We had better not tease her at present
with questions,' said I, in as unconcerned a
tone as I could assume, although I felt every
moment as if I should faint.

'Humph! may be so,' said he. 'Well,
come back in an hour or two, or when you
please, and you will find us here.'

He again unlocked the door, and entered
with the same precautions which he had
adopted before, locking the door upon the
inside; and as I hurried from the room, I
heard his voice again exerted as if in eager

I can hardly describe my emotions; my
hopes had been raised to the highest, and
now, in an instant, all was gone--the
dreadful consummation was accomplished--
the fearful retribution had fallen upon the
guilty man--the mind was destroyed--the
power to repent was gone.

The agony of the hours which followed
what I would still call my AWFUL
interview with Lord Glenfallen, I cannot
describe; my solitude was, however, broken
in upon by Martha, who came to inform me
of the arrival of a gentleman, who expected
me in the parlour.

I accordingly descended, and, to my
great joy, found my father seated by the

This expedition upon his part was easily
accounted for: my communications had
touched the honour of the family. I
speedily informed him of the dreadful
malady which had fallen upon the wretched

My father suggested the necessity of
placing some person to watch him, to prevent
his injuring himself or others.

I rang the bell, and desired that one
Edward Cooke, an attached servant of the
family, should be sent to me.

I told him distinctly and briefly the
nature of the service required of him, and,
attended by him, my father and I
proceeded at once to the study. The door of
the inner room was still closed, and
everything in the outer chamber remained in the
same order in which I had left it.

We then advanced to the closet-door, at
which we knocked, but without receiving
any answer.

We next tried to open the door, but in
vain--it was locked upon the inside.
We knocked more loudly, but in

Seriously alarmed, I desired the servant
to force the door, which was, after several
violent efforts, accomplished, and we entered
the closet.

Lord Glenfallen was lying on his face
upon a sofa.

'Hush!' said I, 'he is asleep.' We
paused for a moment.

'He is too still for that,' said my

We all of us felt a strong reluctance to
approach the figure.

'Edward,' said I, 'try whether your
master sleeps.'

The servant approached the sofa where
Lord Glenfallen lay. He leant his ear
towards the head of the recumbent figure, to
ascertain whether the sound of breathing
was audible. He turned towards us, and

'My lady, you had better not wait here;
I am sure he is dead!'

'Let me see the face,' said I, terribly
agitated; 'you MAY be mistaken.'

The man then, in obedience to my command,
turned the body round, and, gracious
God! what a sight met my view. He was,
indeed, perfectly dead.

The whole breast of the shirt, with its
lace frill, was drenched with gore, as
was the couch underneath the spot where
he lay.

The head hung back, as it seemed, almost
severed from the body by a frightful gash,
which yawned across the throat. The
instrument which had inflicted it was found
under his body.

All, then, was over; I was never to learn
the history in whose termination I had
been so deeply and so tragically involved.

The severe discipline which my mind had
undergone was not bestowed in vain. I
directed my thoughts and my hopes to
that place where there is no more sin, nor
danger, nor sorrow.

Thus ends a brief tale whose prominent
incidents many will recognise as having
marked the history of a distinguished
family; and though it refers to a somewhat
distant date, we shall be found not to have
taken, upon that account, any liberties with
the facts, but in our statement of all the
incidents to have rigorously and faithfully
adhered to the truth.


Being an Eleventh Extract from the Legacy of the late
Francis Purcell, P.P. of Drumcoolagh.

The following brief narrative
contains a faithful account of one
of the many strange incidents
which chequered the life of Hardress
Fitzgerald--one of the now-forgotten heroes
who flourished during the most stirring
and, though the most disastrous, by no
means the least glorious period of our
eventful history.

He was a captain of horse in the army
of James, and shared the fortunes of his
master, enduring privations, encountering
dangers, and submitting to vicissitudes the
most galling and ruinous, with a fortitude
and a heroism which would, if coupled
with his other virtues have rendered the
unhappy monarch whom he served,
the most illustrious among unfortunate

I have always preferred, where I could
do so with any approach to accuracy, to
give such relations as the one which I am
about to submit to you, in the first person,
and in the words of the original narrator,
believing that such a form of recitation
not only gives freshness to the tale, but
in this particular instance, by bringing
before me and steadily fixing in my mind's
eye the veteran royalist who himself related
the occurrence which I am about to record,
furnishes an additional stimulant to my
memory, and a proportionate check upon
my imagination.

As nearly as I can recollect then, his
statement was as follows:

After the fatal battle of the Boyne, I
came up in disguise to Dublin, as did
many in a like situation, regarding the
capital as furnishing at once a good
central position of observation, and as
secure a lurking-place as I cared to

I would not suffer myself to believe that
the cause of my royal master was so
desperate as it really was; and while I
lay in my lodgings, which consisted of
the garret of a small dark house, standing
in the lane which runs close by
Audoen's Arch, I busied myself with
continual projects for the raising of the
country, and the re-collecting of the
fragments of the defeated army--plans, you
will allow, sufficiently magnificent for a
poor devil who dared scarce show his face
abroad in the daylight.

I believe, however, that I had not much
reason to fear for my personal safety, for
men's minds in the city were greatly
occupied with public events, and private
amusements and debaucheries, which were,
about that time, carried to an excess which
our country never knew before, by reason
of the raking together from all quarters of
the empire, and indeed from most parts
of Holland, the most dissolute and des-
perate adventurers who cared to play at
hazard for their lives; and thus there
seemed to be but little scrutiny into
the characters of those who sought concealment.

I heard much at different times of the
intentions of King James and his party,
but nothing with certainty.

Some said that the king still lay in
Ireland; others, that he had crossed over
to Scotland, to encourage the Highlanders,
who, with Dundee at their head, had been
stirring in his behoof; others, again, said
that he had taken ship for France, leaving his
followers to shift for themselves, and
regarding his kingdom as wholly lost, which
last was the true version, as I afterwards

Although I had been very active in the
wars in Ireland, and had done many deeds
of necessary but dire severity, which have
often since troubled me much to think
upon, yet I doubted not but that I might
easily obtain protection for my person and
property from the Prince of Orange, if I
sought it by the ordinary submissions;
but besides that my conscience and my
affections resisted such time-serving
concessions, I was resolved in my own mind
that the cause of the royalist party was
by no means desperate, and I looked to
keep myself unimpeded by any pledge
or promise given to the usurping Dutchman,
that I might freely and honourably
take a share in any struggle which
might yet remain to be made for the

I therefore lay quiet, going forth from
my lodgings but little, and that chiefly
under cover of the dusk, and conversing
hardly at all, except with those whom I
well knew.

I had like once to have paid dearly for
relaxing this caution; for going into
a tavern one evening near the Tholsel, I
had the confidence to throw off my hat,
and sit there with my face quite exposed,
when a fellow coming in with some
troopers, they fell a-boozing, and being
somewhat warmed, they began to drink
'Confusion to popery,' and the like, and
to compel the peaceable persons who
happened to sit there, to join them in so

Though I was rather hot-blooded, I
was resolved to say nothing to attract
notice; but, at the same time, if urged
to pledge the toasts which they were
compelling others to drink, to resist doing

With the intent to withdraw myself
quietly from the place, I paid my reckoning,
and putting on my hat, was going
into the street, when the countryman who
had come in with the soldiers called

'Stop that popish tom-cat!'

And running across the room, he got
to the door before me, and, shutting it,
placed his back against it, to prevent my
going out.

Though with much difficulty, I kept
an appearance of quietness, and turning to
the fellow, who, from his accent, I judged
to be northern, and whose face I knew--
though, to this day, I cannot say where
I had seen him before--I observed very

'Sir, I came in here with no other
design than to refresh myself, without
offending any man. I have paid my
reckoning, and now desire to go forth. If
there is anything within reason that I can
do to satisfy you, and to prevent trouble
and delay to myself, name your terms, and
if they be but fair, I will frankly comply
with them.'

He quickly replied:

'You are Hardress Fitzgerald, the
bloody popish captain, that hanged the
twelve men at Derry.'

I felt that I was in some danger, but
being a strong man, and used to perils
of all kinds, it was not easy to disconcert me.

I looked then steadily at the fellow,
and, in a voice of much confidence, I

'I am neither a Papist, a Royalist, nor
a Fitzgerald, but an honester Protestant,
mayhap, than many who make louder

'Then drink the honest man's toast,'
said he. 'Damnation to the pope, and
confusion to skulking Jimmy and his
runaway crew.'

'Yourself shall hear me,' said I, taking
the largest pewter pot that lay within my
reach. 'Tapster, fill this with ale; I grieve
to say I can afford nothing better.'

I took the vessel of liquor in my hand,
and walking up to him, I first made a
bow to the troopers who sat laughing
at the sprightliness of their facetious
friend, and then another to himself,
when saying, 'G-- damn yourself and
your cause!' I flung the ale straight into
his face; and before he had time to recover
himself, I struck him with my whole force
and weight with the pewter pot upon the
head, so strong a blow, that he fell, for
aught I know, dead upon the floor, and
nothing but the handle of the vessel
remained in my hand.

I opened the door, but one of the dragoons
drew his sabre, and ran at me to avenge
his companion. With my hand I put
aside the blade of the sword, narrowly
escaping what he had intended for me,
the point actually tearing open my vest.
Without allowing him time to repeat his
thrust, I struck him in the face with my
clenched fist so sound a blow that he
rolled back into the room with the force
of a tennis ball.

It was well for me that the rest were
half drunk, and the evening dark; for
otherwise my folly would infallibly have
cost me my life. As it was, I reached
my garret in safety, with a resolution
to frequent taverns no more until better

My little patience and money were well-
nigh exhausted, when, after much doubt
and uncertainty, and many conflicting
reports, I was assured that the flower
of the Royalist army, under the Duke of
Berwick and General Boisleau, occupied the
city of Limerick, with a determination
to hold that fortress against the prince's
forces; and that a French fleet of great
power, and well freighted with arms,
ammunition, and men, was riding in the
Shannon, under the walls of the town.
But this last report was, like many others
then circulated, untrue; there being,
indeed, a promise and expectation of such
assistance, but no arrival of it till too

The army of the Prince of Orange was
said to be rapidly approaching the town,
in order to commence the siege.

On hearing this, and being made as
certain as the vagueness and unsatisfactory
nature of my information, which came not
from any authentic source, would permit;
at least, being sure of the main point,
which all allowed--namely, that Limerick
was held for the king--and being also
naturally fond of enterprise, and impatient
of idleness, I took the resolution to travel
thither, and, if possible, to throw myself
into the city, in order to lend what assistance
I might to my former companions in
arms, well knowing that any man of strong
constitution and of some experience might
easily make himself useful to a garrison in
their straitened situation.

When I had taken this resolution, I was
not long in putting it into execution; and,
as the first step in the matter, I turned half
of the money which remained with me, in
all about seventeen pounds, into small wares
and merchandise such as travelling traders
used to deal in; and the rest, excepting some
shillings which I carried home for my
immediate expenses, I sewed carefully in the
lining of my breeches waistband, hoping that
the sale of my commodities might easily
supply me with subsistence upon the road.

I left Dublin upon a Friday morning in
the month of September, with a tolerably
heavy pack upon my back.

I was a strong man and a good walker,
and one day with another travelled easily at
the rate of twenty miles in each day, much
time being lost in the towns of any note on
the way, where, to avoid suspicion, I was
obliged to make some stay, as if to sell my

I did not travel directly to Limerick, but
turned far into Tipperary, going near to the
borders of Cork.

Upon the sixth day after my departure
from Dublin I learned, CERTAINLY, from some
fellows who were returning from trafficking
with the soldiers, that the army of the
prince was actually encamped before
Limerick, upon the south side of the

In order, then, to enter the city without
interruption, I must needs cross the river,
and I was much in doubt whether to do so
by boat from Kerry, which I might have
easily done, into the Earl of Clare's land,
and thus into the beleaguered city, or to
take what seemed the easier way, one,
however, about which I had certain misgivings
--which, by the way, afterwards turned out
to be just enough. This way was to cross
the Shannon at O'Brien's Bridge, or at
Killaloe, into the county of Clare.

I feared, however, that both these passes
were guarded by the prince's forces, and
resolved, if such were the case, not to essay
to cross, for I was not fitted to sustain a
scrutiny, having about me, though pretty
safely secured, my commission from King
James--which, though a dangerous companion,
I would not have parted from but
with my life.

I settled, then, in my own mind, that if
the bridges were guarded I would walk as
far as Portumna, where I might cross,
though at a considerable sacrifice of time;
and, having determined upon this course, I
turned directly towards Killaloe.

I reached the foot of the mountain, or
rather high hill, called Keeper--which had
been pointed out to me as a landmark--
lying directly between me and Killaloe,
in the evening, and, having ascended some
way, the darkness and fog overtook me.

The evening was very chilly, and myself
weary, hungry, and much in need of sleep,
so that I preferred seeking to cross the hill,
though at some risk, to remaining upon it
throughout the night. Stumbling over
rocks and sinking into bog-mire, as the
nature of the ground varied, I slowly
and laboriously plodded on, making very
little way in proportion to the toil it cost

After half an hour's slow walking, or
rather rambling, for, owing to the dark, I
very soon lost my direction, I at last heard
the sound of running water, and with some
little trouble reached the edge of a brook,
which ran in the bottom of a deep gully.
This I knew would furnish a sure guide to
the low grounds, where I might promise
myself that I should speedily meet with
some house or cabin where I might find
shelter for the night.

The stream which I followed flowed at
the bottom of a rough and swampy glen,
very steep and making many abrupt turns,
and so dark, owing more to the fog than to
the want of the moon (for, though not high,
I believe it had risen at the time), that I
continually fell over fragments of rock and
stumbled up to my middle into the rivulet,
which I sought to follow.

In this way, drenched, weary, and with
my patience almost exhausted, I was toiling
onward, when, turning a sharp angle in the
winding glen, I found myself within some
twenty yards of a group of wild-looking
men, gathered in various attitudes round a
glowing turf fire.

I was so surprised at this rencontre that
I stopped short, and for a time was in
doubt whether to turn back or to accost

A minute's thought satisfied me that I
ought to make up to the fellows, and trust
to their good faith for whatever assistance
they could give me.

I determined, then, to do this, having
great faith in the impulses of my mind,
which, whenever I have been in jeopardy,
as in my life I often have, always prompted
me aright.

The strong red light of the fire showed
me plainly enough that the group consisted,
not of soldiers, but of Irish kernes, or
countrymen, most of them wrapped in
heavy mantles, and with no other covering
for their heads than that afforded by their
long, rough hair.

There was nothing about them which I
could see to intimate whether their object
were peaceful or warlike; but I afterwards
found that they had weapons enough,
though of their own rude fashion.

There were in all about twenty persons
assembled around the fire, some sitting
upon such blocks of stone as happened to
lie in the way; others stretched at their
length upon the ground.

'God save you, boys!' said I, advancing
towards the party.

The men who had been talking and
laughing together instantly paused, and
two of them--tall and powerful fellows--
snatched up each a weapon, something like
a short halberd with a massive iron head,
an instrument which they called among
themselves a rapp, and with two or three
long strides they came up with me, and
laying hold upon my arms, drew me, not,
you may easily believe, making much
resistance, towards the fire.

When I reached the place where the
figures were seated, the two men still held
me firmly, and some others threw some
handfuls of dry fuel upon the red embers,
which, blazing up, cast a strong light upon

When they had satisfied themselves as
to my appearance, they began to question
me very closely as to my purpose in being
upon the hill at such an unseasonable hour,
asking me what was my occupation, where
I had been, and whither I was going.

These questions were put to me in
English by an old half-military looking
man, who translated into that language
the suggestions which his companions for
the most part threw out in Irish.

I did not choose to commit myself to
these fellows by telling them my real
character and purpose, and therefore I
represented myself as a poor travelling
chapman who had been at Cork, and was
seeking his way to Killaloe, in order to
cross over into Clare and thence to the
city of Galway.

My account did not seem fully to satisfy
the men.

I heard one fellow say in Irish, which
language I understood, 'Maybe he is a

They then whispered together for a
time, and the little man who was their
spokesman came over to me and said:

'Do you know what we do with spies?
we knock their brains out, my friend.'

He then turned back to them with whom
he had been whispering, and talked in a
low tone again with them for a considerable

I now felt very uncomfortable, not knowing
what these savages--for they appeared
nothing better--might design against me.

Twice or thrice I had serious thoughts
of breaking from them, but the two guards
who were placed upon me held me fast by
the arms; and even had I succeeded in
shaking them off, I should soon have been
overtaken, encumbered as I was with a
heavy pack, and wholly ignorant of the
lie of the ground; or else, if I were so
exceedingly lucky as to escape out of their
hands, I still had the chance of falling into
those of some other party of the same

I therefore patiently awaited the issue
of their deliberations, which I made no
doubt affected me nearly.

I turned to the men who held me, and
one after the other asked them, in their
own language, 'Why they held me?' adding,
'I am but a poor pedlar, as you see.
I have neither money nor money's worth,
for the sake of which you should do me
hurt. You may have my pack and all
that it contains, if you desire it--but do
not injure me.'

To all this they gave no answer, but
savagely desired me to hold my tongue.

I accordingly remained silent, determined,
if the worst came, to declare to the whole
party, who, I doubted not, were friendly,
as were all the Irish peasantry in the south,
to the Royal cause, my real character and
design; and if this avowal failed me, I was
resolved to make a desperate effort to
escape, or at least to give my life at the
dearest price I could.

I was not kept long in suspense, for
the little veteran who had spoken to me
at first came over, and desiring the two
men to bring me after him, led the way
along a broken path, which wound by
the side of the steep glen.

I was obliged willy nilly to go with
them, and, half-dragging and half-carrying
me, they brought me by the path, which now
became very steep, for some hundred yards
without stopping, when suddenly coming
to a stand, I found myself close before
the door of some house or hut, I could
not see which, through the planks of which
a strong light was streaming.

At this door my conductor stopped, and
tapping gently at it, it was opened by a
stout fellow, with buff-coat and jack-boots,
and pistols stuck in his belt, as also a
long cavalry sword by his side.

He spoke with my guide, and to my no
small satisfaction, in French, which
convinced me that he was one of the soldiers
whom Louis had sent to support our king,
and who were said to have arrived in
Limerick, though, as I observed above, not
with truth.

I was much assured by this circumstance,
and made no doubt but that I had fallen
in with one of those marauding parties of
native Irish, who, placing themselves under
the guidance of men of courage and
experience, had done much brave and essential
service to the cause of the king.

The soldier entered an inner door in the
apartment, which opening disclosed a rude,
dreary, and dilapidated room, with a low
plank ceiling, much discoloured by the
smoke which hung suspended in heavy
masses, descending within a few feet of the
ground, and completely obscuring the upper
regions of the chamber.

A large fire of turf and heath was
burning under a kind of rude chimney,
shaped like a large funnel, but by no means
discharging the functions for which it was
intended. Into this inauspicious apartment
was I conducted by my strange companions.
In the next room I heard voices employed,
as it seemed, in brief questioning and
answer; and in a minute the soldier re-
entered the room, and having said, 'Votre
prisonnier--le general veut le voir,' he led
the way into the inner room, which in point
of comfort and cleanliness was not a whit
better than the first.

Seated at a clumsy plank table, placed
about the middle of the floor, was a powerfully
built man, of almost colossal stature--
his military accoutrements, cuirass and rich
regimental clothes, soiled, deranged, and
spattered with recent hard travel; the
flowing wig, surmounted by the cocked hat
and plume, still rested upon his head. On
the table lay his sword-belt with its
appendage, and a pair of long holster pistols,
some papers, and pen and ink; also a
stone jug, and the fragments of a hasty
meal. His attitude betokened the languor
of fatigue. His left hand was buried beyond
the lace ruffle in the breast of his cassock,
and the elbow of his right rested upon the
table, so as to support his head. From
his mouth protruded a tobacco-pipe, which
as I entered he slowly withdrew.

A single glance at the honest, good-
humoured, comely face of the soldier
satisfied me of his identity, and removing
my hat from my head I said, 'God save
General Sarsfield!'

The general nodded

'I am a prisoner here under strange
circumstances,' I continued 'I appear
before you in a strange disguise. You
do not recognise Captain Hardress Fitzgerald!'

'Eh, how's this?' said he, approaching me
with the light.

'I am that Hardress Fitzgerald,' I
repeated, 'who served under you at the
Boyne, and upon the day of the action had
the honour to protect your person at the
expense of his own.' At the same time I
turned aside the hair which covered the
scar which you well know upon my
forehead, and which was then much more
remarkable than it is now.

The general on seeing this at once
recognised me, and embracing me cordially,
made me sit down, and while I unstrapped
my pack, a tedious job, my fingers being
nearly numbed with cold, sent the men
forth to procure me some provision.

The general's horse was stabled in a
corner of the chamber where we sat, and
his war-saddle lay upon the floor. At the
far end of the room was a second door,
which stood half open; a bogwood fire
burned on a hearth somewhat less rude
than the one which I had first seen, but
still very little better appointed with a
chimney, for thick wreaths of smoke were
eddying, with every fitful gust, about the
room. Close by the fire was strewed a
bed of heath, intended, I supposed, for the
stalwart limbs of the general.

'Hardress Fitzgerald,' said he, fixing his
eyes gravely upon me, while he slowly
removed the tobacco-pipe from his mouth,
'I remember you, strong, bold and cunning
in your warlike trade; the more desperate
an enterprise, the more ready for it, you.
I would gladly engage you, for I know
you trustworthy, to perform a piece of
duty requiring, it may be, no extraordinary
quality to fulfil; and yet perhaps, as
accidents may happen, demanding every
attribute of daring and dexterity which
belongs to you.'

Here he paused for some moments.

I own I felt somewhat flattered by the
terms in which he spoke of me, knowing
him to be but little given to compliments;
and not having any plan in my head,
farther than the rendering what service I
might to the cause of the king, caring very
little as to the road in which my duty
might lie, I frankly replied:

'Sir, I hope, if opportunity offers, I
shall prove to deserve the honourable
terms in which you are pleased to speak
of me. In a righteous cause I fear not
wounds or death; and in discharging my
duty to my God and my king, I am
ready for any hazard or any fate. Name
the service you require, and if it lies within
the compass of my wit or power, I will
fully and faithfully perform it. Have I said

'That is well, very well, my friend;
you speak well, and manfully,' replied the
general. 'I want you to convey to the
hands of General Boisleau, now in the
city of Limerick, a small written packet;
there is some danger, mark me, of your
falling in with some outpost or straggling
party of the prince's army. If you are
taken unawares by any of the enemy you
must dispose of the packet inside your
person, rather than let it fall into their
hands--that is, you must eat it. And if
they go to question you with thumb-
screws, or the like, answer nothing; let
them knock your brains out first.' In
illustration, I suppose, of the latter
alternative, he knocked the ashes out of his pipe
upon the table as he uttered it.

'The packet,' he continued, 'you shall
have to-morrow morning. Meantime comfort
yourself with food, and afterwards with
sleep; you will want, mayhap, all your
strength and wits on the morrow.'

I applied myself forthwith to the homely
fare which they had provided, and I confess
that I never made a meal so heartily to
my satisfaction.

It was a beautiful, clear, autumn morning,
and the bright beams of the early sun were
slanting over the brown heath which
clothed the sides of the mountain, and
glittering in the thousand bright drops
which the melting hoar-frost had left behind
it, and the white mists were lying like
broad lakes in the valleys, when, with my
pedlar's pack upon my back, and General
Sarsfield's precious despatch in my bosom,
I set forth, refreshed and courageous.

As I descended the hill, my heart
expanded and my spirits rose under the
influences which surrounded me. The keen,
clear, bracing air of the morning, the bright,
slanting sunshine, the merry songs of the
small birds, and the distant sounds of
awakening labour that floated up from the
plains, all conspired to stir my heart within
me, and more like a mad-cap boy, broken
loose from school, than a man of sober
years upon a mission of doubt and danger,
I trod lightly on, whistling and singing
alternately for very joy.

As I approached the object of my early
march, I fell in with a countryman, eager,
as are most of his kind, for news.

I gave him what little I had collected,
and professing great zeal for the king,
which, indeed, I always cherished, I won
upon his confidence so far, that he became
much more communicative than the
peasantry in those quarters are generally
wont to be to strangers.

From him I learned that there was a
company of dragoons in William's service,
quartered at Willaloe; but he could not
tell whether the passage of the bridge
was stopped by them or not. With a
resolution, at all events, to make the
attempt to cross, I approached the town.
When I came within sight of the river,
I quickly perceived that it was so swollen
with the recent rains, as, indeed, the
countryman had told me, that the fords
were wholly impassable.

I stopped then, upon a slight eminence
overlooking the village, with a view to
reconnoitre and to arrange my plans in
case of interruption. While thus engaged,
the wind blowing gently from the west,
in which quarter Limerick lay, I distinctly
heard the explosion of the cannon, which
played from and against the city, though
at a distance of eleven miles at the

I never yet heard the music that had
for me half the attractions of that sullen
sound, and as I noted again and again
the distant thunder that proclaimed the
perils, and the valour, and the faithfulness
of my brethren, my heart swelled with
pride, and the tears rose to my eyes; and
lifting up my hands to heaven, I prayed
to God that I might be spared to take
a part in the righteous quarrel that was
there so bravely maintained.

I felt, indeed, at this moment a longing,
more intense than I have the power to
describe, to be at once with my brave
companions in arms, and so inwardly
excited and stirred up as if I had been
actually within five minutes' march of
the field of battle.

It was now almost noon, and I had
walked hard since morning across a
difficult and broken country, so that I
was a little fatigued, and in no small
degree hungry. As I approached the
hamlet, I was glad to see in the window
of a poor hovel several large cakes of
meal displayed, as if to induce purchasers
to enter.

I was right in regarding this exhi-
bition as an intimation that entertainment
might be procured within,
for upon entering and inquiring, I was
speedily invited by the poor woman,
who, it appeared, kept this humble house
of refreshment, to lay down my pack and
seat myself by a ponderous table, upon
which she promised to serve me with a
dinner fit for a king; and indeed, to my
mind, she amply fulfilled her engagement,
supplying me abundantly with eggs,
bacon, and wheaten cakes, which I
discussed with a zeal which almost surprised

Having disposed of the solid part of
my entertainment, I was proceeding to
regale myself with a brimming measure
of strong waters, when my attention was
arrested by the sound of horses' hoofs in
brisk motion upon the broken road, and
evidently approaching the hovel in which
I was at that moment seated.

The ominous clank of sword scabbards
and the jingle of brass accoutrements

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