Sidor som bilder

death-warrant of Irish domestic happiness—in other refused an alms by the worshippers, who, whether by words, on the third morning after her husband's inter- nature generous or otherwise, believed at least that ment, the widow was waited on by those Ladies Bountiful, good works,” and alms among the rest, did not go and promised a full renewal of the lease, on her own without their “ reward.” One morning, unfortunately, terms, if sbe would only consent to theirs, or, in plainer she mistook a young gentleman, who happened to pass language, if she would only send little David and Mary to at the time, for one of the congregation, and, as was their ladyships' schools. With her own religious opi- her custom, solicited an alms " for God's sake”-susnions they, for the present, generously waived any inter- pending, for a moment, the prayers she was reciting on ference. The result of the interview was, as may be the rosary, which she held between her fingers. Had anticipated, that the ladies returned home foiled in their he simply refused her, and passed on, she would have plans of conversion, and—we were almost going to say still blessed him. But something seemed to annoy himvowing vengeance on the head of the obstinate Papist perhaps it was the sight of the beads, for she heard who thus refused to have her children enlightened. him' mutter something about -- Papists. At all

Gale day came. Rent and tithes were exacted to the events, he called a policeman who happened to be to Jast farthing, and on the bleakest night that came that hand, and gave her in charge for begging. spring—the 25th of March—the widow and her chil- No sooner, however, had the constable laid hands on dren were houseless. It was a sad “ Lady Day” for her than she recognised him. He was her long lost son, poor Margaret Pfeiffer, the first she had ever known in and her accuser was the new proprietor of Barkerville, sorrow! Still she would have struggled on contentedly Mr. Nick, who had just returned, from England to take and even happily, with the little means she possessed possession of the estate on the death of his father. Had after the sale of her effects, were it not for a new blow she known him, she would not for worlds have asked that suddenly and unexpectedly fell upon her—crushing him for charity. But she had scarcely ever seen him, all her hopes, and stamping upon her sorrowing heart and to her son he was at this time equally unknown. an impress of affliction that was never afterwards effaced. He insisted on pressing his charge, and accordingly the On his tenth birth-day, the same on which he had poor mother was conveyed in custody before a magismade his first Communion, little David was taken from trate, by her own child! This was bat one of the bither, in virtue of some legal document, of which she ter fruits of bis conversion, for, alas! poor David, once knew nothing, and, despite all her efforts and those of so pious and innocent, was now thoroughly “reformed." her parish clergyman, sent off, she knew not where, to He was not only a staunch Protestant, but an Orangebe brought up in conformity with the alleged religious man and Freemason to boot, and, as such, a rising memopinions of his father. This, as we have said, was a ber of “ the force,” as it was in those days constituted. sore blow to the poor widow, and fearing a similar fate As it was her first “offence,” the humane magistrate for her darling little Mary, who was not yet quite two dismissed the poor woman with a caution. But her son years old, she left the neighbourhood altogether. But never forgot the humiliation of that morning. In the her movements were closely watched; and wher, at process of examination her whole history came out. length, poverty and fever struck her down, in the pur- Young Squire Barker slunk away, and mother and son lieus of a crowded city, poor little Mary, too, was taken; remained face to face at the close of the investigation. and never since—and it was now seventeen years ago Happier days and a mother's full tide of affection had she laid eyes upon her. She ascertained, however, rushed back upon her, and she would fain bave clasped from what she deemed a reliable source, the precise lo- him to her heart. But he coldly evaded her advances, cality, nay, the very establishment to which she had

and actually felt ashamed to acknowledge her for his been conveyed; but, on making application there, was mother, as she stood in silence before his comrades. informed that there was no child of the name of Pfeiffer Oh! it was a deep pang to her poor suffering heart that entered on the books. Nor was there!

morning—to be, dragged, for the first time in her life, Poor little Mary! She had got a new name, and, before a magistrate, on the charge of one whose family for long, long years, never knew that by which she was had so deeply injured her—and to be conveyed there, a first called. The clergyman, as may be conceived, was by prisoner, by her own darling Davy, who cried so bitthis time, deeply interested in the poor woman's story of terly at parting with her, the last time she had laid eyes which we bave given a summary. In reply to his query on him—but, worst of all ! to meet now with such s as to how she succeeded in finding her son, notwith- reception, after all the long years she had wept and standing her ineffectual effort to discover her daughter, prayed for him. No wonder she felt sad, and gare during so long a period, she answered that the disco- vent to that sadness in tears of bitterness, as she revery was owing to the merest accident.

turned to the church, not as before, to take her stand at She had, by degrees, sunk from grade to grade of its porch, but to pray long and fervently, in one of poverty, till at last—and the poor creature sobbed bit. its little side chapels, before the image of another sor. terly, as she acknowledged the humiliating fact-she rowing mother, to whose sorrow, however, she felt became a beggar from door to door. A feeling of that hers was as pothing. And this reflection it wis shame forbade her return to the locality where she had that relieved and consoled her. Before leaving, she reonce lived in comfort : and so she remained in the city. solved never again, by her presence, to bring a blush to By a church door she took her stand, and was rarely her son's cheek, at the same time that she was deter

mined not to lose sight of him altogether, still clinging fondly to the hope, that time might bring him back again to the path in which she bad so carefully trained his childhood to walk.

For years she thus kept him in view. She saw him rise, step by step, till he reached the rank of head constable, and then she saw him marry a beautiful Catholic girl, the favourite of the village in which he then happened to be stationed. She was poor, and her parents thought they were acting well in giving her in marriage to oue so well to do in the world.

At first she was, as usual, regular in her attendance at the village chapel, and the old woman loved to kneel, unperceived, beside her, and pray for her and her husband. But soou the poor girl ceased to attend Mass, and the people said the sergeant would not allow her to go there any more. Then a little daughter was born, and its father insisted on its being baptized by the minister; but the poor mother sent it privately to the chapel to have it christened by her own clergyman. There was no one present but a poor beggar-woman, who was rarely absent from God's house whenever it was open, and she was requested to act as sponsor on the occasion. She readily complied, and no one noticed the fervor with which she elasped the little one to her bosom, when the priest bad concluded the sacred rite, which he conditionally administered. And, oh! how she watched that little one grow up, and contrived, stealthily, to meet the girl that carried it out, and curtailed her own little expenditure to purchase it sweetmeats, and thought it so like her own dear little lost Mary. Another child was born, and another. But their birth seemed to bring but little joy to either parent. The poor moiher seemed rapidly sinking into an early grave, and the sergeant was remarked of late to be a rather too frequent visitor at the village alehouse. Much of his pay was spent there, and, as a matter of course, his innocent family were the sufferers. Several reports had reached head-quarters agaiust him, but he was continually shielded by the protecting ægis of the Barker family, with whom the county inspector was on terms of closest intimacy, and to whom he himself was now also well known. For Mr. Nick had discovered that he was a genuine “ true blue," both able and willing to get up as many succe35sul conspiracies as that worthy sciou of “gentle blood" deemed necessary for the removal of obnoxious neighbours, at the public expense.

Of late such applications, on the part of Mr. Nick, to the zeal of the sergeant were rather frequent, especially since the death of his mother, and the marriage of his youngest sister. He now kept what was styled a bachelor's house, and on more than one occasion parrowly escaped the vengeance of some of his under tenantry, whose hearth his villany had blighted. Prevention being better than cure, he resolved, henceforth, to send the guardians, in the first instance, beyond the scas, and then worry the flock at bis leisure ; and, at many an assizes, at which he sat as grand juror, did he find Pfeiffer a successful agent in carrying out his diabolical projects. But his protégé's confirmed habits of intem


perance, and his brutality towards his wife and children, became at length too notorious, and, despite all remonstrance on the part of the inspector, he was dismissed from the constabulary in disgrace.

Still the young squire did not abandon him. He was as yet by far too useful an agent to be thus easily parted with. But, as Mr. Nick was as parsimonious as he was profligate, he transferred the burden of supporting him from his own shoulders to the more plethoric ones of the Irish Society, by which, after due preliminary training in the Society's Seminary, he was nomi uated bead missionary of the Ballymacsthradheen district.

Mr. Nick, as we have said, was saving; and now that he had placed Pfeiffer in a "respectable position," he determined, through his instrumentality, to place himself in a lucrative one.

His neighbour, Squire Bunbury, had a maiden sister, a little ancient it is true, and rather sallow. But she was pious and rich; and as Mr. Nick did not regard personal appearance in a wife, he was quite coutent with her other attractive qualities, or even with one of them. There was no chance, however, of nioning the siniles of Miss Diana Bunbury, or hearkening unto the chink of her gold, unless he gave up the patronage of Miss Rebecca Bloomfield, the newly-appointed mistress of the Evangelical schools of which he was patron. Mis3 Bloomfield was very pious, no doubt, and regularly paraded her two dozen kidnapped little girls, Sabbath after Sabbath-she never used the word Sunday-to “meeting." Still rumour went abroad that she regarded one of the commandments, at least, as decidedly apocryphal—to be "read” indeed with the rest, for edification,” but by no means reduced to practice. In a word, rumour said that the sooner she was provided for, the better for her reputation and that of the Society's “ hill of truth”-for so they styled the locality of which Miss Bloomfield was mistress. In this rumour, Miss Rebecca Bunbury joined, or at least gave cre. dence thereto.

But what was to be done with her? The very quesa tion that presented itself to Mr. Nick's mind, when old Bunbury insisted, one evening after their fourth bottle, on the schoolmistress's immediate marriage, as an essential preliminary to any further matrimonial negociations with his sister.

" What in the world is to be done with her ?” solilo. quised the hopeful bachelor, as he rode home to Barkerville late that same evening, after paying Miss Bloomfield a passing visit on his way.

“ I cannot part with her, and yet, confound her! that cursed old jade suspects something, and insists on her being either dismissed or married.”

The moon just peered out through a cloud at the moment, and while passing on to another, would seem to have shed a ray of its light ou the rather obscured intellect of the soliloquizer.

“I have it !” he exclaimed, rising in his saddle. "A capital plan, by Jove, hurrah !" and he set spurs to his horse with a mind considerably relieved of its recent auxiety


But mind, you


Late as it was when he reached home, a messenger Nick learned that she had gone back to the city, refusing was dispatched to the residence of Pfeiffer, which was all support from him, and was now leading a most some miles distant-and next moroing, at an early unhappy life amid the worst of its outcasts. Was it hour, a knock at the squire's door announced the arri- remorse that touched him, or was it that he hoped again val of the missionary.

to induce her to return ? We know not; but, at all Morrow, Pfeiffer !" said the squire, with a conde- events, be immediately despatched Pfeiffer in quest of scending air, as his protégé entered.

and so far bad his employéo succeeded, that be had Good morrow, your honor," returned Pfeiffer, with every necessary preliminary arranged for his marriage his most cringing obeisance.

with her on the morning sabsequent to the day on which “Well, Pfeiffer, I am glad to hear you have given we have introduced bim, through his mother, to our up the liquor. How are the classes advancing ?” readers.

“ Elegant, sir. Only for those young rascals that are After a quick walk of some twenty minutes, the always calling us 'Soupers!'"

clergyman reached the abode of crime to which we have “ I'm surprised at—at a man of your sense, Pfeiffer ; seen him so unseasonably summoned. It was a tall surely you don't mind them.”

edifice, situated in a variow lane,“ well known to the “ Not I, sir.”

police," and had evidently seen better days, though now “So I thought. Well, now, Pfeiffer, I have a capital so sadly dilapidated, and surrounded by a row of houses project in view for


of much smaller size and more recent construction. A must continue to keep from drink, I have got a wife considerable flight of slippery stone steps led to the princifor you”

pal entrance, which was doorless. Next followed a long “But, sir, sure I'm married already."

ball, the rendezvous, in wet weather, of all the javenile os Who married you?”

gamblers of the court. Its boarded floor was ankle« Priest -"

deep with mire, and so sieve-like in its perforations that Pshaw, man! I'm astonished at hearing you speak it was a marvel to the neighbourhood how drunken Bill

Don't you know a Popish priest has no power to Danagher contrived to pilot bis wooden leg in safety marry a Protestant. I wish the old fellow were now through it, when on retiring, occasionally, for a few days, alive, and I'd soon teach him canon law; but he died, from the stone jug," as he facetiously designated the I believe, of that infernal cholera when it passed this city jail, he returned to his old quarters in the garret. way. 'Twas no more a marriage than that of the crows Through this passage, and up four flights of banisterless in Barkerville rookery. I suppose you don't mean to staircase, creaking and groaning at every step, the clersay the crows are legally married-do you ?" and the gyman followed his guide, in darkness. Indeed, a light, squire smiled good-humouredly.

unless hermetically encased in a lantern, would bave been A little more such reasoning, rendered additionally useless. It could not by possibility have remained one conclusive by the promise of a handsome dowry, and a moment unextinguished amid the bowling blasts of rainsnug residence on a remote district of the estate, geue- surcharged wind that met and wrangled with each other rously volunteered by the squire, made Pfeiffer a willing on the landings. With much difficultv they at length convert to his views. The marriage was agreed on, but reached the attic storey. Here the woman stopped, when it came to the ears of his heartbroken wife, she and gently knocked at the door of the back apartment, made immediate application to the parson of Barkerville, and ber companion, despite the darkness, could perceive who, to his credit be it spoken, notwithstanding that that she trembled violently as she did so. “Jaw and order” were arrayed on the side of Pfeiffer Her apprehension, however, seemed to subside when and his patron, absolutely refused to have hand, act, or the mild, pale face of the young female who opened the part in the iviquitous proceeding. The squire, however, Goor, presented itself. was not to be foiled in his plans, though it took more “Did she come in yet ?” whispered the old woman, time than he anticipated to accomplish them. Miss “ No,” replied the party addressed, in a tone of voice Bloomfield was induced, on some feigned pretence-for that inspired the clergyman, to whom she respectfully le did not yet venture to speak of his approaching curtsied, with confidence. marriage-to resign her charge of the school, and pro- 6 Thank God,” exclaimed the poor woman, as she ceed, for some time, to the city. His wooing proceeded now confidently requested him to enter, favourably with Miss Diana, and, in due time, he led On a wretched pallet before himn lay a man appaher as bis-we cannot say blushing-fiancée to the rently in the prime of life, but livid and shrunken from lymeneal altar. But, as the happy cortège left the the effects of the terrible malady that bad fallen upon ,


known to the bridegroom, invoked a deep and awful The clergyman saw, at a glance, that the case was

malediction on the parties whose union had been just blessed by a minister of religion; and as the carriage, that bore the bridal party away, swept down the avenue, it all but passed over the faiuting form of poor Rebecca Bloomfield.

On his return from his pleasant honey-moon, Mr.

a hopeless one, and speedily prepared to administer the last rites of the church to the dying mau. But in vain did he look around for any symbol of Christianity in that wretched apartment.

There was not even & chair or table upon which he might deposit the holy oils for extreme unction. A few coarse prints hung round

the wall, and the tawdry remains of some female finery formed, with the bed, its sole furniture. Fixing the rush-light that had been before stuck against the wall, on one of the posts of the bed, to enable him to read the opening prayers of the ritual, he proceeded to hear the sick man's confession, when the females had retired. But, well versed as he was in every phase of human suffering and misery, and the resources of his ministry in alleviating both, he failed on the present occasion in eliciting anything but incoherent raviog from the unhappy sufferer. Summoning the females, he despatched the younger for some hot brandy and water to an adjacent public-house, and commenced to chafe the sick man's limbs, aided by his mother.

“Oh Davy, alanna, won't you speak to the priest," she sobbed; sure you were calling for him awhile ago, achora. Don't you remember you said run for him, mother !'Oh ! do asthore, speak to the priest ?"

“Priest! where is he ?” he wildly exclaimed, and again relapsed into his wanderings.

“ He's here, a gra-gal. Oh ! won't you say to him you're sorry for your sins ?”

At these words he made ar. effort to rise, and the widow's heart throbbed with hope, but he again sank back ou the pillow, muttering, “ too late.”

“ Too late,” he repeated in a londer tone, and the clergyman had now some hope of awaking consciousness, and was about addressing some consolatory observation to him, when his raving returned.

“The pope in the pillory, and the pillory in---" he did not finish the sentence, but again starting up, and looking wildly round, asked for Mary.

6. She'll be here in a mipate, achree,” replied the mother. But won't you think of your poor soul, Davy ?”

Mary here entered the room with the cordial, which she gently held to his parched lips. The draught seemed to revive him, and he recoguized her. instant she was clasped in his plague-stained embrace, and his hot tears mingled with her's as he asked her again and again to forgive him.

"Oh ! Davy masthore, sure you know I forgive you. I never blamed you, but those that turned you against me. Oh ! I do indeed forgive you from my heart, and (iod will forgive you too, if you only say you are sorry for offending Him."

He made no reply, but sank a corpse on the bosom of his deeply-injured wife, who, had not death thus sud. denly cut him off, would have seen him go through the mock ceremony of wedding another. In her heart of bearts she blessed God that night for having taken her three little ones to himself ere thought or word of their's could oftend Him.

The clergyman stood by for some moments utterly unable to utter a word of consolation to the two desolate hearts that were now bowed down in sorrow equal to his own by that lowly bed of death.

And oh, if they could only read his thoughts, they would have seen how he would have given worlds to be able to convince himself that the scene he had just witnessed

was an exception to the general axiom, " qualis vita finis ita."

A neighbouring clock struck the half-hour past midnight, and having given the lonely watchers what silver he had about him, and told them to call on him again next day, he was proceeding to take his departure, when the latch of the door was raised, and a female of striking beauty, but evidently flushed with drink, stood before him.

She seemed like one petrified with astonishment, and imagined no doubt that she had mistaken some other apartment for her own.

The sight of the dead man, and the presence of a priest and two strange woman in her dwelling, seemed to her inexplicable. Certainly she left no one afier her when she went out that afternoon. There must be some mistake, and she was accordingly about to withdraw, when the clergyman, who now fully recognized her as one of the latest additions to the phalanx of vice in the city, desired her to remain.

The spell was broken, and she pertly demandej “ what right he had to interfere with her ? She did not belong to him."

He was not, however, in the least surprised; it was the favorite mode of reply of many of her class to the remonsirance of the clergyman, who, when going through his parish, occasionally found it necessary to publicly censure public scandal. No, he was not surprised, when to brazen out her infamy she protested against his right of interference, as she was not a Catholic. But great was his surprise and astonishment when his guide and companion of the evening flew towards her, and with tears and kisses, clasped her again and again in her arms, calling her," her own darling, long lost Mary.” She then gazed a moment on the pallid facof the dead, and falling on her knees, gave God thank fur saving her children from eve: still greater infamy.

We have written enough of our sad but too-truthful history. Miss Bloomfield, the Evangelical schools mistress, the protegée of Mr. Nick, and, last of all, the forlorn outcast, was one and the same with the swee. little innocent Mary Pfeiffer kidnapped from her poore heartbroken mother, in that self-same city, long yeaist before. And that night beside her brother's corse, she, thanked God, with tears like the Magdalene's, for having saved her from what—bad as she was—she shu ldered at the very thought of. Her conversion was as lasting and sincere as her gratitude to heaven was heartfelt, and she died soon after, the most penitent of all the penitent inmates of the convent of the Good Shepherd in that southern city, to one of whose worst localities we have been constrained by events to conduct our reader.

The good old clergyman who witnessed some of the harrowiug scenes we bave described, still lives, as we have said. But of Mr. Nick or Barkerville, there is not a vestige remaining, save the four moss-grown walls of the nameless mansion in which the crows now celebrate their illegal nuptials, to use Mr. Nick's own ficetious phraseology. That wor hy individual hinuself, after

In an


spending, in scheming speculation, Miss Bunbury's others in the neighbourhood. A low wall, with a green ample fortune, ended his days in a private madhouse. palisade, prevented the approach of cattle and pigs to

The Terry Alts gave his mansion to the flames one the door ; the narrow space inside the wall had been fing summer's night, and, more recently still, the ham- gravelled, and a cle'natis with a few rose trees had mer of the Incumbered Estates Court shivered to pieces been trained to the wall of the house, ncar ons end, the foundation ou which Cromwell had bised the round a small window. family fortunes.

A severe fit of coughing was now heard from the The new proprietor has changed the name by which, interior of the cottage, the sound coming from the for nigh two centuries, the residence of the Barkers was room to which the window overhung with climbing known. A neighbouring Christian Brothers' school has plants belonged. It was a hollow cough, one, which succede l the evangelical seminary. - Bible readers"- those from whom some dear friend has been snatched we mean paid ones—are at a discount in the locality ; away by the destroying angel of consumption, would and recent events have concurred to efface from our immediately recognise as a familiar sound; and it was statute-books the iniquitous enactment that enablud a similar fit of coughing, just a little while before, which poor Pfeiffer to legally forswear his solemn matrimonial had given rise to the observation made by old Ned engagement; though in so doing, we must say he never Connell, as we shall presently explain. dreamt of the oth'r awful impediment to his secret mar- It is necessary to state that the O'Briens had only riage with Miss Bloomfield, whom he had but rarely recently, that is some two or three years previously, seen, and of whose antecedents he was wholly ig- come into the possession of their present farm. The norant. In a word, things are much changed for tie former occupiers were a family named Sheehan, who had better, at least in the district of which we write, and been visited by misfortune, and whose younger memwith every inch of which we are familiar; and so it bers had emigrated to America after the death of their is that we may call our narrative A REMINISCENCE OF parents, the farm being then given up, with their good

will, to Tom O'Brien, an old neighbour, who was related to the Sheehans by the mother's side. O'Brien was a

stardy, active, industrious man, with a good deal of what THE OLD FORT.

people call common sense, and no ordinary amount of the “I am very sorry, Mrs. O'Brien," said an old neigh-quality which his wife had alluded to as his characterbour to a farmer's wife, while sitting, one summer's even- istic-namely, obstinacy. When he saw that a thing ing, outside a cottage-door in the south of Ireland, " I was right and useful, he totally disregarded the minor am very sorry that anything ever put it into Tom's head obstacles which might present themselves to its attaint.s till that ould fort there beyond. 'Tis little land is in ment, and he was seldom turned from his own view of it, 'am sure; and I never seen any good come of a matter by the opinions of any one else. He had a son middlin' with the likes of it."

and daughter; the former, named Harry, resembling “, Indeed, Nej Connell,” replied the woman thus ad- himself a good deal in disposition, and being besides mol. dressed, “I did my best to put him off it, but Tom, you erately well educated for his position; and the latter : know, is an obstinate man, and he would have his own soft, gentle girl named Annie, endowed with considerable way. He only langhed at me when I spoke, and said it rustic beauty and great sweetness and amiability of was the best bit of land on the farm, and you might as temper. When the family had removed to the Fort well be whislin' jigs to a mile-stone, as to try and put Farm, as it was called, Annie O'Brien was a hale and anything out of Tom's head. Sorrow go froin it for an sprightly girl, just entering her tifteenth year; there ould fort !"

was not a finer pair of dark eyes than hers in all the The farmer's wife, it may be observed, was a middle- country round, and her ruddy cheeks were the very aged woman, with a kind but care-worn and melancholy emblem of good health. She was her mother's idol; expression of countenance. Her mind appeared to be her father and brother were usually ready enough to deeply occupied with thought, while her fingers were oblige her in any trivial request sbe made ; and it was actively engaged in knitting a coarse worsted stocking; at her desire that the gravelled enclosure was made and every now and then she turned her head as if outside the front door, while her own bands trained the listening for some sound, and heaved a deep sigh. The rose trees on the cottage wall. person with whom she conversed was a feeble, elderly But in a short time Annie's health was observed to man, who had come to enquire about her daughter, then decline. Some unheeded cold introduced the seeds of dangerously ill. He was looked upon as a skilful and the fatal disease ; and soon the wasting away became intelligent man in ordinary cases of sickness or accident, visible enough, and the terrible cough threatened to either in man or beast, and was an acknowledged shake her whole frame asunder, but no one could tell anthority on the traditions of half the barony. There how or when the disease had commenced. At the was also a third person of the party, a country-woman time referred to in our tale, the destroyer had seized of the poorest class, who was enveloped in an old blue upon

her very vitals ; herbs had ceased to produce any cloak, and sat fla on the ground near Mrs. O'Brien's salutary effect; the worst symptoms had set in ; several feet. The cottage, near the open door of which they days elapsed since she had left her bed ; she could no sat, had an air of neatness that distinguished it from longer sce the roses she loved, except where one cluster

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