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not to be deceived, and eager multiplied inquiries elicited the truth : Cornelius told it all.
“ And there,” said he, “stands my deliverer.” For a moment she was pale and motionless; then followed caresses, wild and numberless, lavished on her child! A repast was laid: I partook of dainty wines and sumptuous fare.
The proprietor entered; his acknowledgments were brief : “ Cornelia, you should not suffer this boy to wander so ; see what has come of it.”
“Permit me, sir,” I exclaimed; “I shall answer for his safety with my own.”
I was in a position to yield assurance : they took me at my word. I went and came at pleasure. Cornelius called, or, when my studies were completed, I waited on him. He was indeed a youth of rare intelligence ; pity there had been any barrier to the recognition of his ample worth. As for the would-be murderers, as top often happens, they were no where to be found.
“It will surprise you, Michael, when I tell that you are the first, and only Catholic I ever knew. My tutor, our visiters even, nay, our very servants, are of the one exclusive creed ; with you, Michael, I have entire unreserve : how comes it, then, professing a common faith, that there should be so complete a severance ?”
So far as I knew I enumerated the political disabilities and social oppressions under which we had laboured ; the cruel reiterated confiscations, involving all, or nearly all, the property of the land; with the enmity naturally and inevi. tably accruing, on the part of the oppressed towards the oppressor-of the oppressor towards the oppressed.
“ Should I ever come to have influence, Michael, I shall remedy all that. You will advise and assist me; and the homes of at
least a portion of the Irish people shall bloom and flourish like the rose.”
It was a dark and moonless night, and my foot fell lightly on the way-side turf. I had but reached the walls of a ruined chapel, when my attention was arrested by a low yet distinct whistle. Lurking figures advanced and retired. Approaching a little nearer, I was aware of a dozen men, who sat or lay about a flickering bog-wood fire. The proprietor had dispossessed some tenants of their holdings : he should never do so again! It was at some risk, for they spoke in low and smothered tones, that I collected that the great house was to be fired at dead of night, and its inmates — day and date and all were given— put to the sword. It was enough. I shrunk into the obscurity out of which I had emerged, and next morning informed the proprietor of his impending fate. Whatever his faults, cowardice was not of the number; and he awaited the event with inflexible determination.
The hour approached: every preparation had been made. Wickets were constructed in the iron shutters. Vats, at once to annoy the besiegers, and guard against fire, stood brimful on every floor. Well crammed blunderbusses lay upon benches, loaded muskets ranged along the wall. Cornelia and the young people the while, were sheltered in the cellars.
About midnight dark forms shot past the trees, portentous noises invaded the silence of the night. Finally, a crowd of men, with stunning execrations, discharged a volley, bringing down the panes with tingling crash. A simultaneous rush was now made against the doors, which withstood the shock!
The pealing echoes had scarcely ceased ere the wickets were thrust aside, and destruc
tion was scattered among the hooting crew. With yells of rage and pain the fallen were dragged aside, while the rest sought shelter behind the trees.
A somewhat anxious interval now ensued. It was uncertain whether the besiegers would adventure afresh or retire. Soon, however, sheaves of straw and piles of blazing brush, were assiduously thrust forward. Buckets, emptied from above, somewhat abated the vigour of the flames; but this dangerous service entailed a degree of exposure of which the assailants were not slow to avail themselves.
The night wore on, but tedious was the progress of destruction. It was, therefore, proposed and carried by acclamation, to batter in the entrance by means of a recently felled tree which happened to lie about. While some proceeded with this, others stood with