Charles James Lever.

The O'Donoghue: Tale of Ireland Fifty Years Ago online

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voice, "this is like revenge! You struck me once - you called me coarse
plebeian, too! We shall be able to see the blood you are proud of - aye,
the blood! the blood!" - and then, as if worn out by exhaustion, he
heaved a heavy sigh, and fell into deep moaning as before.

Sir Archy, who felt in the scene a direct acknowledgment of his appeal
to Heaven, drew closer to the window, and listened. Gradually, and like
one awaking from a heavy slumber, the sick man stretched his limbs, and
drew a long sigh, whose groaning accent spoke of great debility and
then, starting up in his bed, shouted - "It is, it is the King's
warrant - who dares to oppose it. Ride in faster, men - faster; keep
together here, the west side of the mountain. There - there, yonder, near
the beach. Who was that spoke of pardon? Never; if he resists, cut him
down. Ride for it, men, ride;" and in his mad excitement, he arose from
his bed, and gained the floor. "There - that's him yonder; he has taken
to the mountains; five hundred guineas to the hand that grasps him
first," and he tottered to the window, and tearing aside the curtain,
looked out.

[Illustration: 404]

"Worn and wasted, with beard unshaven for weeks long, and eyes
glistening with the lustre of insanity, the expression of his features
actually chilled the heart's blood of the old man, as he stood almost at
his side, and unable to move away. For a second or two Hemsworth gazed
on the other, as if some struggling effort of recognition was labouring
in his brain; and then, with a mad struggle he exclaimed -

"They were too late; the Council gave but eight days. I suppressed the
proclamation in the south. Eight days - after that, no pardon - in this
world at least" - and a fearful grin of malice convulsed his features;
then with an altered accent, and a faint smile, from which sickness tore
its oft-assumed dissimulation, he said, "I did every thing to persuade
him to surrender - to accept the gracious favour of the crown; but he
would not - no, he would not!" - and, with another burst of laughter, he
staggered back into the room, and fell helpless on the floor. Sir Archy
was in no compassionate mood at the moment, and without bestowing a
thought on the sufferer, he hastened down the path, and with all the
speed of which he was capable, returned to Carrig-na-curra.




CHAPTER XLII. THE SHEALING

Sir Archy's manner, so precise and measured in every occasion of life,
had undergone a very marked change before he arrived at Carrig-na-curra;
exclamations broke from him at every moment, mingled with fervently
expressed hopes, that he might not be yet too late to rescue Mark from
his peril. The agitation of his mind and the fatigue of his exertions
completely overcame him; and when he reached the house, he threw himself
down upon a seat, utterly exhausted.

"Are you unwell, my dear uncle?" broke from Kate and Herbert together,
as they stood at either side of his chair.

"Tired, wearied, heated, my dear children; nothing more. Send me Kerry
here; I want to speak to him."

Kerry soon entered, and Sir Archy, beckoning him to his side, whispered
a few words rapidly into his ear. Kerry made no reply, but hastened from
the room, and was soon after seen hurrying down the causeway.

"I see, my dear uncle," whispered Kate, with a tremulous accent - "I see
you have bad tidings for us this morning - he is worse."

"Waur he canna be," muttered Sir Archy, with a significance that gave
the words a very equivocal meaning.

"But there is still hope. They told us yesterday that to-morrow would be
the crisis of the malady - the twentieth day since his relapse."

"Yes, yes!" said the old man, who, not noticing her remark, pursued
aloud the track of his own reflections. "Entrapped - ensnared - I see it
all now. And only eight days given! - and even of these to be kept in
ignorance. Poor fellow, how you have been duped."

"But this delirium may pass away, uncle," said Kate, who, puzzled at his
vague expressions, sought to bring him again to the theme of Hemsworth's
illness.

"Then comes the penalty, lassie," cried he, energetically. "The
Government canna forgie a rebel, as parents do naughty children, by the
promise of doing better next time. When a daring scheme - but wait a bit,
here's Kerry. Come to the window, man; come over here," and he called
him towards him.

Whatever were the tidings Kerry brought, Sir Archy seemed overjoyed by
them; and taking Herbert's arm, he hurried from the room, leaving the
O'Donoghue and Kate in a state of utter bewilderment.

"I'm afraid, my sweet niece, that Hemsworth's disease is a catching
one. Archy has a devilish wild, queer look about him to-day," said the
O'Donoghue, laughing.

"I hope he has heard no bad news, sir. He is seldom so agitated as this.
But what can this mean? Here comes a chaise up the road. See, it
has stopped at the gate, and there is Kerry hastening down with a
portmantua."

Sir Archy entered as she spoke, dressed for the road, and approaching
his brother-in-law's chair, whispered a few words in his ear.

"Great heaven protect us!" exclaimed the O'Donoghue, falling back, half
unconscious, into his seat. While, turning to Kate, Sir Archy took her
hand in both of his, and said -

"My ain dear bairn, I have no secrets from you; but time is too short to
say much now. Enough, if I tell you Mark is in danger - the greatest and
most imminent. I must hasten up to Dublin and see the Secretary, and, if
possible, the Lord Lieutenant. It may be necessary, perhaps, for me to
proceed to London. Herbert is already off to the mountains, to warn Mark
of his peril. If he can escape till I return, all may go well yet. Above
all things, however, let no rumour of my journey escape. I'm only going
to Macroom, or Cork, mind that, and to be back to-morrow evening, or
next day."

A gesture from Kerry, who stood on the rock above the road, warned him
that all was ready; and, with an affectionate but hurried adieu, he left
the room, and gaining the high road, was soon proceeding towards Dublin,
at the fastest speed of the posters.

"Them's the bastes can do it," said Kerry, as he watched them, with the
admiration of a connoisseur; "and the little one wid the rat-tail isn't
the worst either."

"Where did that chaise come from, Kerry?" cried the O'Donoghue, who
could not account for the promptitude of Sir Archy's movements.

"'Twas with Doctor Dillon from Macroom it came, sir; and it was to bring
him back there again; but Sir Archibald told me to give the boy a pound
note, to make a mistake, and come over here for himself. That's the way
of it."

While we leave the O'Donoghue and his niece to the interchange of their
fears and conjectures regarding the danger which they both concurred
in believing had been communicated to Sir Archy by Hemsworth, we must
follow Herbert, who was now on his way to the mountains, to apprize Mark
that his place of concealment was already discovered, and that measures
for his capture were taken in a spirit that indicated a purpose of
personal animosity.

Herbert knew little more than this, for it was no part of Sir Archy's
plan to impart to any one his discovery of Hemsworth's treachery, lest,
in the event of his recovery, their manner towards him would lead him to
a change of tactique. Hemsworth was too cunning an adversary to concede
any advantage to. Indeed, the only chance of success against him lay
in taking the opportunity of his present illness, to anticipate his
movements. Sir Archy, therefore, left the family at Carrig-na-curra
in ignorance of this man's villainy, as a means of lulling him into
security. The expressions that fell from him, half unconsciously, in the
drawing-room, fortunately contributed to this end, and induced both the
O'Donoghue and Kate to believe that, whatever the nature of the tidings
Sir Archy had learned, their source was no other than Hemsworth himself,
of whose good intentions towards Mark no suspicion existed.

Herbert's part was limited to the mere warning of Mark, that he should
seek some more secure resting-place; but what kind the danger was, from
whom or whence it came, the youth knew nothing. He was not, indeed,
unaware of Mark's political feelings, nor did he undervalue the effect
his principles might produce upon his actions. He knew him to be
intrepid, fearless, and determined; and he also knew how the want of
some regular pursuit or object in life had served farther to unsettle
his notions and increase the discontent he felt with his condition. If
Herbert did not look up to Mark with respect for the superior qualities
of mind, there were traits in his nature that inspired the sentiment
fully as strongly. The bold rapidity with which he anticipated and met a
danger, the fertile resources he evinced at moments when most men stand
appalled and terror-struck, the calmness of his spirit when great peril
was at hand, showed that the passionate and wayward nature was the
struggle which petty events create, and not the real germ of his
disposition.

Herbert foresaw that such a character had but to find the fitting sphere
for its exercise, to win an upward way; but he was well aware of the
risks to which it exposed its possessor. On this theme his thoughts
dwelt the entire day, as he trod the solitary path among the mountains;
nor did he meet with one human thing along that lonely road. At last, as
evening was falling, he drew near the glen which wound along the base
of the mountain, and as he was endeavouring to decide on the path, a low
whistle attracted him. This, remembering it was the signal, he replied
to, and the moment after Terry crept from a thick cover of brushwood,
and came towards him.

"I thought I'd make sure of you before I let you pass, Master Herbert,"
cried he, "for I couldn't see your face, the way your head was hanging
down. Take the little path to the left, and never turn till you come to
the white-thorn tree - then straight up the mountain for a quarter of
a mile or so, till you reach three stones, one over another. From that
spot you'll see the shealing down beneath you."

"My brother is there now?" said Herbert, enquiringly.

"Yes; he never leaves it long now; and he got a bit of a fright the
other evening, when the French schooner came into the bay."

"A French schooner here, in the bay?"

"Ay, just so; but with an English flag flying. She landed ten men at
the point, and then got out to sea as fast as she could. She was out of
sight before dark."

"And the men - what became of them?"

"They staid an hour or more with Master Mark. One of them was an old
friend, I think; for I never saw such delight as he was in to see your
brother. He gave him two books, and some paper, and a bundle - I don't
know what was in it - and then they struck off towards Kenmare Bay, by a
road very few know in these parts."

All these particulars surprised and interested Herbert not a
little; - for although far from implicitly believing the correctness
of Terry's tidings, as to the vessel being a French one, yet the event
seemed not insignificant as showing that Mark had friends, who were
aware of his present place of concealment. Without wasting further time,
however, he bade Terry good-bye, and started along the path down the
glen.

Following Terry's directions, Herbert found the path, which, in
many places was concealed by loose furze bushes, evidently to prevent
detection by strangers, and at last, having gained the ridge of the
mountain, perceived the little shealing at a distance of some hundred
feet beneath him. It was merely a few young trees, covered over with
loose sods, which, abutting against the slope of the hill, opened
towards the sea, from whence the view extended along thirty miles of
coast on either hand.

At any other moment, the glorious landscape before him would have
engrossed Herbert's entire attention. The calm sea, over which night was
slowly stealing - the jutting promontories of rock, over whose sides the
white foam was splashing - the tall dark cliffs, pierced by many a' cave,
through which the sea roared like thunder - all these caught his thoughts
but for a second, and already with bounding steps he hurried down the
steep, where the next moment a scene revealed itself, of far deeper
interest to his heart.

Through the roof of the shealing, from which, in many places, the dry
sods had fallen, he discovered his brother, stretched upon the earthen
floor of the hut, intently gazing on a large map, which lay widespread
before him. The figure was indeed Mark's. The massive head, on either
side of which, in flowing waves, the long and locky hair descended,
there was no mistaking. But the costume was one Herbert saw for the
first time. It was a simple uniform of blue and white, with a single
silver epaulette, and a sword, hilted with the same metal. The shako was
of dark fur, and ornamented with a large bouquet of tri-colored ribbons,
whose gay and flaunting colours streamed with a strange contrast along
the dark earthen floor. Amid all his terror for what these emblems
might portend, his heart bounded with pride at the martial and handsome
figure, as, leaning on one elbow, he traced with the other hand the
lines upon the map. Unable to control his impatience longer, he cried
out -

"Mark, my brother!" and the next moment they were in each other's arms.

[Illustration: 411]

"You passed Terry on the mountain? He was at his post, I trust?" said
Mark, anxiously.

"Yes, but for his directions I could never have discovered the path."

"All's well, then. Until I hear a certain signal from him, I fear
nothing. The fellow seems neither to eat nor sleep. At least since I've
been here, he has kept watch night and day in the mountains."

"He always loved you, Mark."

"He did so; but now it is not me he thinks of. His whole heart is in the
cause - higher and nobler than a mere worthless life like mine.";

"Poor fellow! he is but half-witted at best," said Herbert.

"The more reason for his fidelity now," said Mark, bitterly. "The men
of sense are traitors to their oaths, and false to their friends. The
enterprise cannot reckon, save on the fool or the madman. I know the
taunt you hint at, as - - "

"My dearest brother," cried Herbert, with streaming eyes.

"My own dear Herbert, forgive me," said Mark, as he flung his arm round
his neck. "These bursts of passion come over me after long and
weary thoughts. I am tired to-day. Tell me, how are they all at
Carrig-na-curra?"

"Well, and, I would say, happy, Mark, were it not for their anxieties
about you. My uncle heard some news to-day so threatening in its nature,
that he has set out for Dublin post haste, and merely wrote these few
lines, which he gave me for you before he started."

Mark read the paper twice over, and then tearing it, threw the fragments
at his feet, while he muttered -

"I cannot, I must not leave this."

"But your safety depends on it, Mark - so, my uncle pressed upon me. The
danger is imminent, and, he said, fatal."

"So would it be, were I to leave my post. I cannot tell you, Herbert - I
dare not reveal to you what our oath forbids me: - but here I must
remain."

"And this dress, Mark - why increase the risk you run by a uniform which
actually designates treason?"

"Who will dare to tell me so?" cried Mark, impetuously. "The uniform is
that of a French grenadier - the service whose toil is glory, and whose
cause is liberty. It is enough that I do not wear it without authority.
You can satisfy yourself on that head soon. Read this," and he unfolded
a paper, which, bearing the arms and seal of the French Republic,
purported to be a commission as Lieutenant in Hoche's own regiment of
grenadiers, conferred on Mark O'Donoghue in testimony of esteem for his
fidelity to the cause of Irish independence. "You are surprised that I
can read the language, Herbert," said he, smiling; "but I have laboured
hard this summer, and, with Kate's good aid, have made some progress."

"And is your dream of Irish independence brought so low as this,
Mark - that the freedom you speak of must be won by an alien's valour?"

"They are no aliens, whose hearts beat alike for liberty. Language,
country, seas may divide us, but we are brothers in the glorious cause
of humanity. Their swords are with us now, as would be ours for them,
did the occasion demand them. Besides, we must teach the traitors, boy,
that we can do without them - that if her own sons are false, Ireland
has friends as true; and then, woe to them who have betrayed her. Oh, my
brother, the brother of my heart, how would I kneel in thankfulness to
heaven, if the same hopes that stirred within me were yours also. If
the genius you possess were enlisted in the dear cause of your own
country - if we could go forth together, hand in hand, and meet danger
side by side, as now we stand."

"My love for you would make the sacrifice, Mark," said Herbert, as the
tears rolled heavily along his cheek; "but my convictions, my reason, my
religion, alike forbid it."

"Your religion, Herbert? - did I hear you aright?"

"You did. I am a Protestant."

Mark fell back as his brother spoke; a cold leaden tinge spread over his
features, and he seemed like one labouring against the sickness of an
ague.

"Oh, is it not time!" cried he, as he clasped his hands above his head,
and shook them in an agony of emotion - "is it not time to strike the
blow, ere every tie that bound us to the land should be rent asunder;
rank, place, wealth, and power they have despoiled us of; our faith
degraded, our lineage scoffed, and now the very links of blood
divided - We have not brothers left us!"

Herbert bent down his head upon his knees, and wept bitterly.

"Who will tell me I have not been tried, now?" continued Mark, in a
strain of impassioned sorrow - "deceived on every hand - robbed of my
heritage - my friends all false - my father" - he stopped short, for at the
moment Herbert looked up, and their eyes met.

"What of our father, Mark?"

"My brain was wandering then," said Mark, in a broken voice. "Once more
I ask forgiveness: we are brothers still; if we be but true of heart to
Him who knows all hearts, He will not suffer us to be divided. Can
you remain a while with me, Herbert? - I know you don't mind a rough
bivouac."

"Yes, Mark, I'll not leave you. All is well at home, and they will guess
what cause detained me." So saying, the two brothers sat down side by
side, and with hands clasped firmly in each other, remained sunk in
silent thought.

The whole night through they talked together. It was the first moment,
for many a long year, since they had unburdened their hearts like
brothers, and in the fulness of their affection the most secret thoughts
were revealed, save one topic only, of which neither dared to speak,
and while each incident of the past was recalled, and friends were
mentioned, Mark never once alluded to Kate, nor did Herbert utter the
name of Sybella Travers.

Of his plans for the future, Mark made no secret; he had accepted a
commission in the French army, on the understanding that an invasion of
Ireland was determined on, in the event of which, his services would be
of some value. He hoped to reach France by the schooner, which, after
landing her cargo near the mouth of the Shannon, was to return at once
to Cherbourg; once there, he was to enter the service, and learn its
discipline.

"I have made my bargain with them; my face is never to turn from
England, till Ireland be free; after that I am theirs, to march on the
Rhine or the Danube - where they will. Personal ambition I have none! - to
serve as a simple grenadier in the ranks of that army, that shall first
plant the standard of liberty here; such is my only compact. Speak to me
of defeat or disaster, if you will; but do not endeavour to persuade
me against an enterprise I have resolved to go through with, nor try to
argue with me, where my impulses are stronger than my reason."

In this strain Mark spoke, and while Herbert listened in sorrow, he
knew too well his brother's nature, to offer a word of remonstrance in
opposition to his determination.

Mark, on his side, led his brother to talk of many of his own plans for
the future, where another and a very different ambition was displayed.

Herbert had entered the lists where intellect and genius are the
weapons, and in his early triumphs had conceived that passion for
success, which once indulged, only dies with life itself. The day broke
upon them, thus conversing, and already the sunlight was streaming over
the western ocean, as they lay down side by side, and slept.




CHAPTER XLIII. THE CONFEDERATES.

The paroxysm which Sir Archibald had witnessed, formed the crisis of
Hemsworth's malady; and on the evening of the same day, his disease
had so far abated of its violence, that his delirium had left him, and
excessive debility was now the only symptom of great danger remaining.
With the return of his faculties, came back his memory, clear and
unclouded, of every incident up to the very moment of his accident; and
as he lay, weak and wasted on his bed, his mind reverted to the plans
and projects of which his illness had interrupted the accomplishment.
The excitement of the theme seemed rather to serve than be hurtful to
him; and the consciousness of returning health gave a spring to his
recovery; fatigue of thought induced deep sleep, and he awoke on the
following day refreshed and recruited.

The lapse of time in illness is, probably, one of the most painful
thoughts that await upon recovery. The lethargy in which we have been
steeped simulates death; while the march of events around us show how
insignificant our existence is, and how independently of us the work of
life goes on.

When Wylie was summoned to his master's bed-side, the first question
put to him was, what day of the month it was? and his astonishment was,
indeed, great, as he heard it was the 16th of December, and that he had
been above two months on a sickbed.

"Two months here!" cried he; "and what has happened since?"

"Scarcely anything, sir," said Wylie, well knowing the meaning of the
question. "The country is quiet - the people tranquil. Too much so,
perhaps, to last. The young O'Donoghue has not been seen up the glen
for several weeks past; but his brother passes frequently from
Carrig-na-curra to the coast, and back again, so that there is little
doubt of his still being in his old hiding-place. Talbot - Barrington I
mean - has been here again, too."

"Barrington! - -what brings him back? I thought he was in France."

"The story goes that he landed at Bantry with a French agent. One thing
is certain, the fellow had the impudence to call here and leave his card
for you, one day I was at Macroom."

"That piece of boldness bodes us no good," said Hemsworth. "What of the
others? Who has called here from Carrig-na-curra?"

"A messenger every day; sometimes twice in the same day."

"A messenger! - not one of the family?"

"For several weeks they have had no one to come. Sir Archy and the
younger brother are both from home."

"Where, then, is Sir Archy?" said Hemsworth, anxiously.

"That would seem a secret to every one. He left this one morning at a
moment's notice, taking the chaise that brought the doctor here. The
post-boy pretended he was discharged; but I say that the excuse was made
up, and that the fellow was bribed. On reaching Macroom, the old man got
fresh horses, and started for Cork."

"And what's the report in the country, Wylie?"

"There are two stories. One, that he heard some rumours of an accusation
against himself, for intriguing with the United people, and thought best
to get over to Scotland for a while."

"That's folly; what is the other rumour?"

"A more likely one," said Wylie, as he threw a shrewd glance beneath his
half-closed eye-lids. "They say that he determined to go up to Dublin,
and see the Lord Lieutenant, and ask him for a free pardon for Mark."

Hemsworth sprung up in the bed at these words, as if he had been stung.

"And who says this, Wylie?"

"I believe I was the first that said so myself," said Wylie, affecting
modesty; "when Kerry told me, that the old man packed up a court dress
and a sword."

"You're right, Sam; there's not a doubt of it. How long is this ago?"

"Five weeks on Tuesday last."

"Five weeks! - five weeks lost already! And have you heard what has been
done by him? - what success he's met with?"

"No, sir; but you can soon know something about it yourself."

"How do you mean? - I don't understand you."

"These are the only two letters he has written as yet. This, one came on



Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe O'Donoghue: Tale of Ireland Fifty Years Ago → online text (page 35 of 41)