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BIRTH AND PARENTAGE.
My first recollections are those of a busy, bustling community, in which my immediate relatives and some domestic animals performed their part. To creep out in morning's prime, to listen to the birds' song, to feel the wind on my cheek or amid my clustering hair, were among the greatest, as they were the earliest, of my enjoyments.
My father's humble means sufficed ; we had enough — albeit none to spare. Potatoes, with the occasional relish of salted fish or bacon, constituted our simple fare.
Infancy, youth, flitted past as in a dream. My father worked hard out, when work was to be had ; household matters kept my mother busy indoors. Thus left to myself, I played all day; and at night crept to my little couch, soon unconscious of all save night's sweet transition into day!
But this could not last for ever. Work fell off: my father grew old, and nothing had been saved. One by one, my brothers disappeared. Some went abroad; others took employment nearer home, till they could compass a spot of their own, and pass life in the same rude transitions as their predecessors.
I alone remained, save Marion, the adopted one! Sweet Marion, thy image comes before me after many years, as the flower that blooms in June!
Full oft we coursed the river side, chasing the butterfly and yellow bee, or gathering plants
that hung beyond the brink. Anon, we sat amid the hay, pulled honeysuckle and meadowsweet, peeped at the tinted eggs, or mocked the bird that comes in spring.
We wondered what made the bean so sweet, and imparted fragrance to the flower on the wall. We gazed at the stars so radiant in the sky; and thought in our innocence they were lights held out by angels to cheer the children of men!
Sometimes we hied to the shore, and watched the billows as they thrashed the strand, or churned at the foot of some unyielding rock. But when the elements were still, we looked at the declining sun, whose red rays tinged the glorious cloud-palaces where spirits seemed to stray. There was music too in our souls, though we never heard anthem, or harp, or lute : but we were aware of many a carolling melody from pleasant mead or fitful stream !
“ A PLEASANT morning to you,” said Father Duigenan, as he one day crossed our threshold. “ And what do you propose with this great boy, who should be earning bread ?”
“We know not,” replied my parents. “He is the youngest — the last ; and we did not like to put him to the door.”
“Yet by-and-by,” resumed the Father, “God will require your souls ; then what is to become of your boy? If you have thought of nothing, what say you to the Church ?”
He showed how easily it might be done. He should prepare me himself, he said ; and, backed by his influence and instructions, I could enter the great seminary with credit and satisfaction to my friends.
Next day I repaired to the worthy priest.