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BY THE O'HARA FAMILY.
CHAPTER VI. BEFORE William's brimful passion could in any way explode, his cousin also passed him from the inner chamber, whispering—“ I leave you a moment for your own sake—for your own good-stay quiet until I come back.” Then he knocked at the door, and when it was opened for him by the soldier without, issued through it.
“ Quiet!” there was but slight probability that William Hutchinson could have shaped himself to the counsel conveyed in this word; and it would be vain to attempt to describe how he passed the short space of time until his cousin's reappearance.
But when William again stood before him, the tempter, as if awesurfeited with the near verging of the precipice towards which his own hand led the staggering victim, was deadly pale; and he moved, looked, and spoke, slowly and stealthily.
“ Your father has just sent off for Blake again,” he said—and he Jied.
“ But I have no weapon of any kind," muttered William ; “ give me one.” “Il unarmed like yourself, how can I do so ?
But stop-yesfor our little spree last night, I think I did buckle round me, out of view, a pretty something of the kind--ay, and here it is your own old middy dirk-your initials on the little hilt, too-and hark ye, I have just left him in his dressing-room, where, with the good daylight shut out, just as you have it here, and a lamp, he proposes to rest, he says—to rest and think, for half an hour or so, until Blake and the soldiers come to drag you away.”
Thank you, James"-he snatched the little weapon ; “ now, goodby;" he was approaching the door.
"No, not that way,'* interposed James; “the soldier, you knowthe sentinel"
6 I'll strike bim down before me!"
6 Tut-no, no- -hearken to me; within this same inner chamber that you spoke of a while ago is a little private door, on which there is no attendant-it has been overlooked. Come, I will show it to
“ Ay-do-come !” and William walked after his guide, almost. tottering, and senseless, and blind, under the fever of his emotions : and--- Giant force !” he whispered, as his cousin led him through the little private door, “whatever you are that have lent me strength for this resolution, prop your own good work! cramp it all round with thoughts of iron! Nature, if it is your doing, befriend it as you ought to do I stop the beatings of my heart and brain-choke up all
Concluded from p. 269. Dec. 1838.- VOL. XXIII.NO. XCII.
memory-all instinct-all early prejudice—the very running of my blood—lest it may whisper of a father-source! Come, James !”
They gained a silent lobby together, and separated for different parts of the house.
A few steps brought James Hutchinson into the hall of the mansion. Here, to his surprise, he found the officers from Dublin much sooner than he supposed Michael Cassin could have expedited them, run, as he might, upon his own feet, or even galloping, as he might, upon the back of the fleetest horse. The men looked at him, and he looked at them, with mutual wistfulness and inquiry. But after a short
pause he beckoned them to follow him up the stairs towards his own study. They did so, whispering amongst themselves.
Upon the threshold of the study he encountered, to his increased surprise, the Dublin physician.
“ We were seeking you, Mr. James Hutchinson," he said, with a severe and startling frown, “we were seeking you—these officers and myself.”
“ Mel seeking me, sir !-why ? upon what account ?” stammered Mr. James.
“ To explain—this, sir.” The worthy doctor opened the hollow of his hand, and James saw in it a very, very small phial ; a w certain little article” of which James had spoken to Mike Cassin in the Laurel Walk in the garden, and which had cost poor Mike so much unnecessary trouble. With a catching of breath, as if he had been stabbed, James staggered into his study, well attended there.
But James Hutchinson had truly informed William that Sir Miles intended to endeavour to repose awhile, or at least to collect his thoughts, upon a sofa in his dressing-room; as also that, in the hope of assisting himself in his attempt, he had arranged to exclude the daylight, and keep a chamber-lamp burning.
The baronet stretched himself on a sofa. Old Martin waited on him.
“ Everything is lost to me, good Martin—every hope."
The old man uttered low, inarticulate sounds of sympathy and condolence.
“ My sins--ay, all the sins of my life-ay, and all the sins of my father, and of his father before him—have been well registered in heaven, or this dreadful visitation would not have fallen upon me! I have been with him, Martin. But as I said, my good Martin, there is not a jot of hope for us. He is lost-lost here and hereafter!"
Again the old servant uttered low sounds of lamentation.
“ Go to bed, old man,” resumed his master, "and take some sleep; you have had none all last night, and your eyes are bleared with watching, and I believe with crying too.”
“ I could not sleep, sir,” answered Martin, his voice quite faltering
“ Well, be obstinate. Give me that book from the table, and I will try to read a strengthening lesson of resignation to the will of God.”
Martin handed him the book, and left the room, that he might indeed weep heartily and without notice.
But the poor father strove in vain to read, even though the book he opened was the Great Book of comfort for the heart of suffering
Almost unconsciously his thoughts shaped themselves into muttered words.
“ I thought, in my pride, that my name might have been a fragrant example of good. But, right or wrong as I might have been, everything worthy has now departed out of it; the good—the fragrancethe example everything. I do not live in this wicked son ; and with your bones, my gracious, first-born boy, and with your good mother's, which followed yours, my hopes must rest
He was interrupted by Martin again coming in greatly startled, and leading a man, also much flurried and frightened, whom Sir Miles did not immediately recognise as having seen before.
“ What is this now, Martin ?” he demanded, rising, and looking almost sternly, at the interruption.
“ This man, Sir Miles-indeed it is not my fault—this man says his business with you is life and death; and he would take no denial.”
“ Well, then, sir ?" and Sir Miles turned to the other. “ We must be alone, Sir Miles,” whispered the man.
Ay? and yet as I look upon your face it indeed seems frightridden-leave us, Martin.” The servant obeyed.
“ Now, sir ?"
“O Sir Miles ! my lord—are we alone of a sartinty? Are you quite sure of id ? Is there no little hidin’-hole where Misther James -or his red divvle for him
“ Speak your business at once, sir,” interrupted the baronet, his tantalised nerves giving way to impatience.
“ I will, Sir Miles, I will-och, sure I will—an’ what I come to speak to you about can be said in one word—it's-” he continued, stuttering and still sinking his voice—it's—it's murther, it is."
“ Murder! are you mad, fellow ? what murder ? murder whom?"
“ Husth-whisper-on your own self.”
“ Stop !" weakly screamed the baronet; and he fell back, his hand catching at his throat, and his frame shaking. He thought he knew what name the man was about to mention, and human nature craved a pause of preparation, before he could nerve himself to hear it plainly pronounced. After a short time he spoke again, in a low tone.
6 Go on, now. It is
Sir Miles clutched his hair with both his hands, and while his lips moved, his eyes strained upwards.
“ But saize on your nevy first--for he is the worst of the two in the business.”
“Outface this man, O God !” continued the agonised father, now praying aloud ; " speak in thunder against so hellish a charge ; but if he utters the truth, in mercy, then, let the bolt cut its way through 66 You may remember a poor crathur of a man, Sir Miles
one poor Mike Cassin—that you gev a pardon to, on the head of the little misundherstandin' a short time ago.'
“ Ay-yes—well ?" and Sir Miles turned to him, as if passingly relieved by a new thought.
“ I'm that Mike Cassin, Sir Miles."
“ You are ? and how, then, can you have naturally come to me with this information ? My nephew, and not I, was your real benefactor—and now you are here to inform against him-explain that."
And while Mike Cassin went on with his explanation, Sir Miles heard him not; but pursuing his own rapid reasonings, if reasonings they might be called in such a feverish moment, suddenly turned upon him, and seized him by the neck.
“ Ah !—to be sure k—the scoundrel only invents a lie to get at my purse !--Martin 1-Look on me, fellow-look straight into my face ! Yes—it is a falsehood—I see it there in your eye! Martin, come here! Now, villain, you shall rue this !”.
“ Wid all my heart, if I tell you a word o’lie,” said Cassin.
To Sir Miles' reiterated calls Martin reappeared. His master commanded his assistance to bind Mike hand and foot. The huntsman submitted without a murmur. Only stay where you are, Sir Miles, for a little while," he added, " and be alone, an' you'll see who is right, and who is wrong."
They took Cassin into the next room. you have wronged him," resumed Sir Miles, before he turned back into his dressing-room—“ if you have wronged him, man, may all the curses of Heaven shower down on your head like rain !—may a blight come over you l-may the blood sicken in you, and may the flesh dry up on your bones, while still you go on living, and living, and living-and that life be
Hot, scalding tears burst from the poor speaker's eyes. He returned with old Martin to the dressing-room. Cassin remained quietly locked up.
“Martin !” now said Sir Miles, absently. The servant answered. His master remained silent. He mentioned the old man's name again.
“My dear, dear master!” said Martin, clasping his hands, and looking up to his face, terrified and bewildered.
“ Hush, not a word, Martin. I do tremble, I believe-but no matter. Get me a sword. The one you will find over the mantelpiece in the dining-parlour. It was my father's--get me that !”
The old man, scarce knowing what he said, or, indeed, what meant anything he now saw or heard, remonstrated feebly and pointlessly ; Sir Miles stormed at him-an unusual occurrence between them. He tottered away on his errand, hurried back with the sword, and presented it.
“ Now leave me once more, Martin.” The faithful follower still
your death |
hesitated. " Leave me, old man, I say !” and at length Sir Miles was alone.
We may put his mind and his heart into language.
“Ay! I do tremble indeed; yet surely ’tis not poor fear-not mean cowardice. Come, I will be firmer.” He knelt down and prayed—O with what beseeching anguish of soul l—that this bitter, bitter cup might pass away—that he might have been misinformed, and that William Hutchinson might not come into his presence.
He arose again. • Or even let him come !-it will not be as my son ;nor as the son of the good mother who, however he may forget them now, taught him, with his prayers, the principles, at least, of good; and the seed that the mother sows in a young boy's heart is hardly ever rooted out, they say, although for a time it may be choked up; -ha-yes!"-Acting on a sudden impulse, he advanced to a full-length portrait which fronted the door of the dressing-room, and drew back a curtain that generally covered it. It was that of a young and beautiful matron, holding, half-asleep upon her knee, a fine-formed, rosy-faced boy, while her smiling eyes of love, and pride, and tenderness, were turned
him. “ He will know that,” continued the father, “if indeed he is to enter in here ; but no, no—even should he appear, as I have said, it will not be as William Hutchinson ; but rather as a poor, pale maniac, raving of a something to be done—a something, too, he dares no more attempt than-tut, tut--I trembled at nothing at all. I only present my person to him—I only stand before him--our looks only encounter, and he drops – drops at my feet ! Along the iron nerving of very madness, nature's touch will shoot a spark so mighty, and so all-conquering, that everything sinful in his soul must quake to it-melt to it! I will lie down on the sofa here, and hide the sword, and pretend to sleep; but still watch him- -hist !--does not a stealthy step come along the lobby?-hist-hist!"-
Hastily reclining on the sofa, and, as he had proposed, concealing the sword under its pillows, Sir Miles closed his eyes, and affected to breathe hardly. The footstep did continue to come nearer. It arrived outside the door, and there, for an instant, was unsteady and shuffling. The father's heart beat so loudly as to become plainly audible; cold blood seemed to run through his veins, and from the crown of his head down his neck and his back bone. An unsteady hand protruded through the unclosed door, pushed it fully open, and the unhappy William stood, indeed, on the threshold.
His boat-cloak, which he had not thrown off since the evening before, was folded tight around him. His face was a wretched sight -ghastly, white, and dragged; his jaw half-dropped and half-chattered, and his eyes rolled wildly and weakly--continuing to stand in the doorway, his body swayed from side to side, and his knees bent forward. All this his father was able to observe, though very confusedly, through his slightly unclosed eyelids.
“Where am I?” Sir Miles then heard him mutter ; “yonder is a man taking his rest— Waken ! waken !"—he shouted; and then he paused to listen, as he thought, to the echoes of his own voice, shaping themselves into loud, yelling cadences, mingled with shrieks and