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perpetration of a greater crime had thrown the attempt upon my life into the background, and steps were no longer required, either to secure my safety or bring to punishment those who had endangered it, still the cause of the assault upon me was so incomprehensible, that both
my uncle and myself were anxious to trace the conspiracy to its source. Nothing during the inquiry transpired that in any way appeared to be connected with me; and, faithless to her promise, the gipsy had not attended. Although the room was crowded by a mob of the curious of either sex, had she been in the throng, from the singularity of her costume I should have easily recognised my mysterious acquaintance. The proceedings having ended, the jury were discharged, the prisoners removed, and the crowd dispersed rapidly.
“ Come, Hector,” said Mr. Hartley, “ the lady of the bridge, like others of her sex, is not always to be depended on. Where can that mysterious gentlewoman be?”
“ At your elbow," responded a voice. We started, and looked round. A woman, respectably attired, but whose features were partially hidden by a close bonnet that seemed formed to conceal the face, was standing immediately beside us. Could this be that wild wanderer who had accosted me in the park, and met me on the bridge when all but the outcasts of society were at home? I had no time left for closer examination-she tapped me gently on the shoulder—and, in a low voice, desiring me to follow, she mingled in the crowd. Mr. Hartley and I quietly obeyed the signal ; while Mark Antony and the ratcatcher joined the rabble in the street, who were waiting to offer some unenviable tokens of the estimation in which Mr. Brown and his associates were holden, before they took a final departure for durance vile.
We kept the gipsy well in sight, and observed her turning into another public-house at no great distance from the Green Man. We entered it, and were conducted by the barmaid to a back apartment, where we found the fair one seated.
The latter term is not used unadvisedly ; for a finer woman, of a certain age, could not have been found in the metropolis. Nothing of her former wild and sybil-looking air remained--the eye had lost its keen and searching glance—the voice was softened—the very manner seemed altered with the dress; and when she laid aside her bonnet, Mr. Hartley and I freely admitted that the face disclosed to us had once been positively beautiful. When the door was shut, she turned her dark intelligent eyes on mine, and regarded me in silence for a minute.
“ Yes !” she said ; “how striking is the likeness between the son and sire! and what painful recollections does that singular resemblance bring back! ay, though twenty long years of exile have passed away! But no more of this. Mr. O'Halloran, you see before you one who can hardly say whether she should love or hate the name. Time chills the deadliest enmities; and even jealousy and blighted hopes will own its soothing influence; and I, who should look upon you as an enemy, felt in your recent hour of trial all the agonizing uncertainty a mother only knows, when the child of her first affections is exposed to peril. With my early story, and wayward fate, it would
be idle to detain you. None have passed through greater vicissitudes of fortune ; none have sinned or suffered more than Mary Halligan!”
I started. “ That name's familiar ! - Were you the peasant girl_"
Through whose mistake Knockloftie, and all within its walls, were saved from violence and murder; I am that person. Ay, fallen, as I
may now appear, I was innocent, admired, wooed, won, and deserted! Pshaw !—’tis but a common tale in woman's history! No matter'tis past—it seems a dream ; but, O God, it is a fearful one! I have not, however, come here to speak about myself. I come to tender my poor services to the child—for, from the bottom of the heart of her he wronged, the father is forgiven ! Wild as my career has been, used as I have been to startling occurrences, still, the events of the last few days appear to me rather the coinage of a distempered brain than actual realities. Never did Heaven's anger fall so suddenly and severely on the guilty ; and never was the innocent so miraculously preserved. Strange, that the same day on which a life commenced, should have been twice chosen to end it by secret violence and stranger yet, that the same hand, which in infancy designed to crush you in the cradle, in the very hour of manhood, but for Heaven's mercy, would have consigned you to a bloody grave!”
“ Who was the intended murderer?” we both eagerly demanded.
“ He was one whose name is perfectly familiar to you. ever hear the colonel speak of a person named Hacket?"
“ A hundred times. He was the villain that would have betrayed the old castle and its inmates to a band of murderers. They assailed it on the first anniversary of my birth-night, and were bloodily repulsed. I often have heard my father execrate that scoundrel's treachery. Another perished by his hand-"
“ Stop! name him not. There were in the world two beings whom I regarded with divided love. One perished. Would that it had been by any other hand. I have forgotten—no, that were impossible—but I strive to banish from memory all that occurred upon that fatal night.”
“ Then Hacket was the person who devised and attempted my murder ?” I exclaimed.
“ No-another sought your life. He was but the agent of that person."
“ By whom, then, was the wretch employed ?"
“ Of that I am utterly uninformed; and, strange as it may appear, Hacket was left in equal ignorance. If any knew the secret, it was the murdered man—and with him it rests. Have you no suspicions ? Have you crossed the path of love, or barred the road to wealth ? Are there any whose interests you have thwarted ?
Are you an object of hatred or of fear ?" I shook my head; but Mr. Hartley replied to the inquiry.
“ There are, Mary-and more than one, the dearest objects of whose hearts this youth will one day overturn, as the child throws down the card edifice in a moment, which has cost him a world of pains to build.”
“ Look there, Hector O'Halloran! There will your secret enemy be found.”
“ Right, by heaven! You are on the sure track, my friend,” returned my uncle. “ Where will deadlier feeling harbour than in the bosom of a monk, thwart but his ambition ? or in that of sordid scoundrel, who trembles for wealth acquired by knavery? Were you acquainted with recent occurrences in which our young friend has been connected, my life upon it, your conviction would be confirmed as to the quarter from which the danger came.”
“ And am I not worthy of that confidence ?” inquired the gipsy, in a tone that showed herself offended.
Undoubtedly,” returned Mr. Hartley. “One day more, and I will give you ample proof of the dependence I place in your fidelity and discretion. That day I would devote to my young friend. It is the last he will pass in England for a time.”
“ What! is he then leaving England ?” “ He is ordered to the Peninsula, and sails on Thursday evening."
66 Heaven send him better luck than his father! God knows whether
you and I shall ever meet again !” she said, addressing me. “ May the best fortunes of a soldier be yours! Farewell! I saw your first and your twentieth, and may your next be a happier anniversary than either!” She wrung my
hand. I left the room, but Mr. Hartley remained, and a quarter of an hour passed before he joined me in the street. We walked to the hotel, and there the fosterer and his companion were in waiting.
Mark, I am ordered off. What can I do for you before I leave England ?” I said, addressing the former.
Mr. O'Toole merely answered with a sigh “hot as a furnace."
“ Where shall I find you on my return ? and how will you dispose of yourself in the mean time?”
“ Dispose of myself ?” returned the fosterer, like an echo. Why, am I not also, ready for the Peninsula ? Arrah ! what would they say at Kilcullen, if you went to the wars, Master Hector, and I remained at home? Mona-sin-dioul, if I went back, the very dogs would not acknowledge me. But, love apart, where can I put in a happier twelvemonth ? Have I not listened, till my heart beat again, to the old colonel's talking to the priest about the time when he stormed that village in the Low Countries where he lost his arm. Often have I fancied that I saw him bursting through the streets at the head of his noble grenadiers, scattering the French column like a flock of sheep, while the shout of ‘Liberty' was answered by a thundering · Faugh a ballagh!' It would be cruel, Hector, to leave me behind you—I will be no burden to you."
He placed a little packet in my hand; and turning to the window, the poor fosterer sentimentalized in secret, while I perused a letter he had received after we had separated at the inquest. With the course of Mark Antony's love adventures, that gentle affair with Miss Biddy O’Dwyer excepted, I was altogether ignorant—and I felt interest in the fosterer's epistle. I read it accordingly; and, could woman rise in
the estimation of one who loved as I did, that artless letter would have raised her. “ You have followed me to England. In that you
have violated our agreement; but my heart offers a ready apology for the offence. I told you that twelve months must pass before we met again ; and in that resolution I am confirmed. My brother has wildly ventured to the coast of Spain, on secret service connected with some of the guerilla chiefs in Arragon; and, in the mean time, I am resident in the family of the village clergyman. Mark, I am happy, because I
, am once more respectable. Let me remain until the year elapses under this good man's dwelling—and then that wanderer whom you protected in her hour of destitution, will prove to you that she has not forgotten her deliverer.
“Do you remember, dear Mark, that when you rescued me from that villain Jew, you flung your purse into my lap, and pressed me to accept it? If that circumstance has escaped your memory, it lives, and will ever live, in mine. Use prudently the small sum enclosed; and when another supply is needed, remember that the desolate female whom you generously saved from more than death, has now the means, and wish to prove her gratitude.
The epistle contained sincere expressions of affection, and was subscribed “ Julia.”
“ Why, Mark, what the deuce is all this about? and who is this lady, who forks out her fifty pounds, and subscribes herself “ most affectionately yours?"
“ I'll tell you again, Master Hector. But won't you let me go with you
?" “ Faith, my dear Mark, I never intended that you should remain behind. Have we not been to each other as flint to steel from childhood ? Where should I now be but for your rescue ?
When boys, our joys and sorrows were the same; and now, as men, Mark, upwards or downwards, our fortunes shall run together.”
“ I thought you wouldn't leave me," said the fosterer.
“ And pray," inquired the ratcatcher, “what the divil is to become of me? You can volunteer, Mark, but I am too old ; and were I younger, I wouldn't much like to 'list; for I fancy that the guerilla line would be more in my way of business. But let us all go together. Blessings on that nate-spoken elderly gentleman they call Mr. Hartley! He's short in the grain as cat's hair, but the heart and purse are open. Here I am, new rigged from head to foot-ay, and rich as a Jewbad luck to the whole community of them, root and branch !” and the captain put his finger to the eye which had heen damaged in the last night's contest. “ It was that long-whiskered ruffin that giv me this token of regard. Well, all's settled, and we go together, any how.”
It would have been useless to offer any objection to the determination of the gallant captain ; and, after a consultation with my uncle, it was soon agreed that my fosterer should join one of the regiments of the brigade I was attached to, as a volunteer, and the ratcatcher enact valet de chambre during my absence.
Time pressed. Mr. O'Toole gratefully acknowledged, but returned the fifty pounds sent him by his mistress ; swore fidelity and everlasting love anew ; and by the munificence of Mr. Hartley, we all—to wit, the ratcatcher, the fosterer, and myself—were amply provided with that indispensable requisite for opening a campaign, properly designated “the sinews of war.” My future companions took their departure for the Seven Dials, to bid their loving countrymen, there dwelling, , an affectionate farewell. An Irish parting is always accompanied by a heavy drink, as sorrow is proverbially dry. No doubt the symposium, like every other pleasant carouse, ended in a general engagement; for when the twain honoured me with a visit next morning, I remarked that the gallant captain had been accommodated with a second black eye, probably conferred upon him as a keepsake by one of his agreeable companions.
• Blanch. Now shall I see thy love; what motive may
Const. That which upholdeth him that thee upholds,
“ I know thee well;
I NEVER sate out a more melancholy dinner than that with Mr. Hartley and his daughter on the last evening of my sojourn in the metropolis. Mine honoured uncle was gloomy and abstracted. Isidora looked the very image of despair ; and I felt any thing but martial satisfaction at the immediate certainty of having an early opportunity afforded of “fleshing my maiden sword.” Like the courage of Bob Acres, my military ardour was hourly evaporating from my finger-ends. A month since, the prospect of being shot at was a matter of indifference'; but in that brief space my feelings had undergone a marvellous change. From childhood, I had listened to my father's stories as he “ told how fields were won,” and caught the enthusiasm of a man, every inch a soldier. But then I knew not what it was to love I had not felt the witchery that attends a first attachment—the confession of mutual passion as yet had not fallen on my ear, soft as angels' whispers to sleeping infancy. I had loved, and sued, and was accepted ; and now this sweetest dream of life was to be broken ; and from one dearer than all that earth contained, I was to be separated for a long period—perhaps for ever! I came rapidly