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to cast herself into her father's arms, her powers suddenly
failed her, and she sunk at his feet in an access of syncope.

The old man raised her from the ground, and suji-
ported her across his breast, while tears of grateful
affection fell down in rapid sliowers upon her neck and
bosom. The attendant, while she supplied the necessary
means for the revival of her mistress, did not refuse her
sympathy to the sufferings of the aged parent.

At that moment the door opened, and Mr. Secretary
LInehan reentered.

'• I beg pardon, but I dropped a handlifcher some-
where, 0, murder! what's this, intirelyi"' as his eye

fell on the group.

All were too completely absorbed in another matter to
observe the intruder. Taking a speedy advantage of this
circumstance, the honest limb of justice approached the
window, and beckoned to some persons without. In a few
minules afterwards, and while he yet stood concealed in
the dark corner into which he had slunk, the whole parly
were present at his side. Korry, hearing the clatter i f
footstej s, looked over her shonhier, shrieked, started to h •;•
feet, and droi'ping the stiff and clenched hand of her yoiii g
lady, began ciajipiiig her own, and rupuating her doleful
cries in uU the fivnzy of Irish despair. Tlie father turned



104 THE AYLMERS OF BALLY- AYLMEB.

his wildered eyes on the strangers, and resigning his
daughter to the arms of her attendant —

" My child does not hear me", he said in a faint and
mournful accent, " but give her my blessings when she
"wakes, and bid her pray for me. God bless you all !

One moment, sir ". As he spoke, he pressed his

lips to the cold and marble brow of his still unconscious
daughter, and untying the light silk liandkerchief fiom her
neck, he placed it listlessly in his bosom. Then putting
himself in the custody of tlie magistrate, he was conducted
in silence to the carriage which awaited him at the avenue
gate.

Another actor was now added to the scene. William
Aylmer had juined the party at their return ; but, unwil-
ling, for many reasons, to encounter the unhappy object
of their pursuit, he had remained without until after their
departure, and now entered the room just as Katharine
began to revive.

" He is ■well. Be comforted, Katharine", were all the
answers which he returned to her first inquiries for her
parent. She was not, how^ever, so easily to be satisfied.
She repeated her inquiries with an energy and determina-
tion of manner which made disguise hopeless.

" And what do you here ?" she exclaimed, in a deli-
rium of passion, so soon as she had collected from Norry'a
" 0-hones !" and Aylmcr's silence, the truth of the event ;
"you were not with them when they first arrived — he waa
surprised — and you are his betrayer".

" You do me foul wrong. I endeavoured, perhaps
against my conscience, to dissuade the olRcers of justice
from entering here".

" Against your conscience !" she smiled with a ghastly
bitterness on him as she answered. " The conscience of
an iugrate who could turn against the life of an adopted
father; a man whuse bread he ate, whose fire wanned
hiu7, whose roof protected hiui, and whose heart loved



THE AYLMEES OF BALLY-ATLMEB. 105

him for seventeen years ! Justice ! The justice of a law
that would spill the cold blood of age, to make a peace-
oft'ering for the forgotten errors of youth ! The law that
continues to persecute after God has forgiven ! Go, go,
sir; you have less heart than I thought. Go, satisfy
your conscience, and be just".

" If my words must not be credited", said Aylmer, " I
have only to endure and to be silent".

" Answer one question. Have you not linked your
name with those of his accusers ? Are you not numbered
on their list ?"

Aylmer was silent.

" You have pledged yourself to take the old man's life !
Aylmer, do not say so. Think where you passed your
childhood. Look around you, and upon those scenes
where you first learned to enjoy life yourself. Will you
make them desolate ? Oh ! believe me, Aylmer, it is sel-
dom, very seldom, that it is in the power of human jui'g-
ment to decide between the right and the wrong in cases
so doubtful as this. The law of man that cries for 'blood'
to the last, may yet be wrong : laws as fierce and cruel
have been, and are no more in existence : and a more
merciful race of men may alter this. The law of God,
tliat commands mercy and holy forgiveness, may j^ossibly
be right. Let your own grateful heart tell you to which
of these chances you should incline".

" Katharii'e "

" Or let this consideration guide you. Suppose your-
self lying to-morrow on your death-bed, and gathering
comfort to your soul from the memory of your past actions,
would you feel happier then in the thought that you hail
forgiven a wrong, and saved your old friend, than if you
had gratified your irresolute thirst for vengeance, or jus-
tice, now ?"

" The Almighty, that sees my heart, sees how clear it
is fiom the tainting sin that you impute to it", exclaimed
5*



106



THE AYLMERS OF BALLT-AYLMEB.



the youth ; " but I have sworn to do wliat is just between
the accused, his country, and his God. That oath I must
not break".

'' May that God, then, be my poor father's help; for his
Earthly friends have forsaken him. It is enough — Ayl-
mer, farewell !" She placed her hand in his. "• IMay he
or she who acts ill in this, find mercy and pardon at the
throne of grace. I leave you without anger ; for you and
I, whatever be the issue of this heavy trial, must never
meet again".

Before Aylmer could, by act or word, return any
answer to her farewell, Katharine had glided out of the
apartment. Wishing, nevertheless, to leave some message
for her, which might possibly have the effect of vin-
dicating him in some degree from the charge of wanton
ingratitude, which she had urged against him, he turned
towards Norry, who still remained, her back supported
against the wall, clearing away, with the corner of her
check apron, the tears that were pouring fast from her red
and heavy eyes.

" Norry — " he was about to proceed.

" Oh ! Go from me, sir !" cried the faithful attendant,
M'ith a fresh burst of grief; " go from me, you contrairy
gentleman — I rise out o' you !"

And throwing her arms aloft, as if to give increased
force to the expression, the indignant souh^ette followed
her mistress.

The next day's noon beheld the fiither and daughter in-
closed witliiu the prison doors of an inconsiderable assize-
tuwn on the Ave.



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