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similar impulse, Mark Antony and I sprang from the bench, and rushed forward to the casement which looked out upon the courtyard.
For a moment the smoke from the guerilla muskets partially obscured our view, but as it rose upwards, we saw the unhappy sufferers stretched in a line before the wall-dead, or rolling in the agonies of death. There was one singular exception ;
an officer appeared to have escaped-for he stood upright and firmly on his feet, with his hand across his bosom. In military executions, some loaded muskets are always reserved to abridge the sufferings of the condemned, should the volley of the firing party fail to end existence. But the partidas were willing executioners—every piece had been discharged—and though the Frenchman boldly called on them to “fire !”—the order was not obeyed.
To rescue the gallant victim was my instant determination, and I appealed warmly to the Empecinado in his favour. The Spaniard shook his head -and the Cura and El Manco protested against any exercise of mercy. The guerillas commenced reloading-in a few brief moments the deed would be effected, and remonstrance of no avail—but a sudden impulse of generous ardour eventually proved successful. The fosterer bounded from the casement to the courtyard-sprang through the crowd, passed along the front of the firing party, clasped the condemned soldier in his arms, and swore in very excellent Irish, and by every saint he could remember at the time, that to reach the Frenchman's body, the bullets must pass first through his.
There was not a partida in that wild band who did not personally estimate Mark Antony as the saviour of their chief, but still the fosterer's was a dangerous and doubtful experiment. It was interposing between the tiger who has tasted blood, and the victim already underneath his paw. Dark looks were turned upon the preserved and the preserver-and muttered oaths were heard, like the distant growl which heralds the bursting of a thundercloud. The Empecinado, who witnessed the occurrence from the cascment, however, lulled the coming storm-and in a voice that to be heard was to be obeyed, he commanded the surviving prisoner to be conducted to his presence; and next moment Lieutenant Cammaran entered the kitchen of the posada-on one side guarded by a guerilla-on the other supported by the honest fosterer, who still, for better security, encircled the Frenchman with his arm. Scott says
that a kinspan is part of a man's body, but a fosterbrother is a piece of his heart.” The truth of the remark never came so home to me before. In infancy, the same bosom had sustained us,-in childhood, our joys and sorrows were the same,-in youth, Mark Antony had followed my fortunes, and in manhood pre
life. No wonder, that for him mine was indeed a brother's love. But I never felt so proud of our relationship, as when I saw the fosterer confront the guerilla chiefs, with his arm locked firmly round the poor French voltigeur.
THE PARDONED VOLTIGEUR.
“ Portia. - It must not be; there is no power in Venice
MERCHANT OF VENICE.
I NEVER met a man who appeared to have made his mind up to die with more dignity and determination than Lieutenant Cammaran. He had already almost undergone the bitterness of death ; as yet his fate was an uncertainty—the sword continued suspended by a hair-and still the expression of his manly countenance was perfectly undisturbed, and neither lip nor eye-lid trembled. He planted his foot firmly on the floor, and, calmly and resolved, awaited a doubtful result the turn of the die, on which life and death depended.
How he had escaped mortal injury seemed the miracle: two balls had passed through his chaco, his epaulette was divided by another, the jacket perforated by several, and yet not one bullet of a dozen aimed at him had even razed the skin! In such a presence, and under such circumstances, to remain unmoved, required a powerful exercise of moral courage. Few there were, who bore the name of Frenchman, who would have coveted an interview with Juan Diez. El Manco, in desperate severity towards the invaders, bore even a more terrible reputation than the Empecinado; and although the Cura was a learned and pious churchman, as it might have been presumed, still, from divers exploits ascribed to him, in which unbounded liberties had been taken with life and limb, there was not a follower of the intruder who would not have preferred an interview with the archenemy himself.
“ Thou hast been condemned to death,” said Juan Diez, addressing the prisoner.
“I have,” replied the captive, steadily, "and the only marvel is that the sentence has not been yet completed.”
“ Humph! But for the thoughtless interference of this rash young man, that marvel would have been ended speedily,” returned the Empecinado. “ Hast thou aught to ask before And he made a pause.
“ The experiment shall be tried more successfully,” said the Frenchman, coolly. “ Yes; I have an orphan daughter! My poor Pauline! ~thou hast no mother to protect thee-and in an hour thou wilt be
atherless! I would send her all I have—my parting blessing ; and, with your permission, write a brief letter, which this kind and gallant youth will, I have no doubt, endeavour to get safely conveyed to Paris.'
“ Mona sin diaoul !”exclaimed the fosterer, drawing the back of his hand across his eyes, “ Miss Pauline shall get it, though I walked every inch of the road, and committed highway robbery for my expenses.”
“ Thy request is granted. Diego, bring my portefeuille hither.”
• And make the letter short,” continued El Manco, coldly ; “I have some ten leagues to ride after thy execution; I'll wait until it's over, for I hate to leave a job half done.”
“ Gracious God !" I exclaimed; “surely this cannot be serious ! Pause, Don Juan !-One so miraculously preserved—the very
hand of Providence visible in his escape !-Would you slay him ?-deliberately, coldly, slay him? No, no, I can't I won't believe it. are brave !--the brave are not assassins; and this would be an act of butchery! You would not sanction it. Did I conceive it possible that you would, by Heaven, the worst remembrance of my life would be, to think that you and I had ever fought side by side, and hand and heart together!”
The Spaniard coloured; but a sarcastic smile was the only reply he vouchsafed. I am too warm, Don Juan; like that of your own land, Irish
; blood is hot. Forgive me if I have offended you.” A gracious smile from the Empecinado was returned, and conveyed a gracious pardon. “ Now let me ask a favour : make me in gratitude your debtor; I have a claim on you. From the surprise, three nights ago, I risked nothing but captivity ; by the French I should have been honourably respected ; and had I determined on escape, a fitter time and better opportunity would have been readily found to attempt it. circumstances were different, nay, desperate. With you 'twas but a choice of deaths—the sword or halter the alternative—while I had only to remain quiet, and not a hair of my head would have suffered injury. Did I fail you then ?— Did my foster brother? No; we perilled all, fought by your side, and hewed out a path by which you escaped a death more certain, even than that which now awaits this unfortunate gentleman."
“ Stop, Mr. O'Halloran,” said Juan Diez, interrupting me. you have stated is correct; and the only difficulty in the case is to reconcile gratitude with duty. I see a course by which matters may be accommodated ; and, from your interference on his behalf, I will save this Frenchman; that is, provided he accedes to terms. There are none here but those he may rely on. Listen, prisoner, and pause before you answer me.” He took an open packet from his breast. “ These papers, in cypher, were found carefully concealed upon the body of your late commander: you were his secretary, and know the key ; give me the means of reading the contents, and thou art free as yonder bird.” A pigeon passed the casement at the moment.
“ Hast thou not the key ?"
“ I have,” returned the captive.
“ Speak-disclose it—liberty is thine; and none shall ever know the means by which I obtained a knowledge of the secret.”
“ First, may this tongue be palsied !” And the captive drew himself proudly up.
“ To the court-yard, then !” returned the Empecinado. “No more, sir,” he said, perceiving I was about to urge anew my claims upon him for late service. “Have I your final answer to my proposal ?” he continued, turning to the condemned.
“ Fixed and final !” was the firm reply.
“ And upon my conscience, as a true Catholic,” exclaimed the fosterer, “a dirtier proposal, Mister Empecinado, I never listened to ! -you would have the honest lad heré turn traitor, after hanging three dacent men of the same profession scarcely half an hour ago ! Arrah, have ye neither conscience nor decency, Don Juan?”
“ What ho!” returned the Spaniard, “art thou, too, upon me?”
“ Mr. Empecinado—and God sees I'm not quite certain whether I'm right or wrong in mistering you—but if it's wrong, why leave it on my ignorance. We have been comrades for three days, and from the little I know of ye, I would go through fire and water to serve you ; more by token, the coldest swim I ever had, I took in your company over that river the other morning. No matter about that—the glass of brandy we had from that friend of yours in the cork wood set all to rights afterwards. Well, as I was saying, ye spoke civilly of me
I not two hours ago fornent these gentlemen-him with the crooked claw, and his reverence in the colonel's jacket. Now all I ask you is a trifle. Honour bright, Don Juan! Don't ye mind, after the swim, and over a glass of brandy-nate, you offered to hang a dozen Frenchmen as a mark of friendship to me and Master Hector there? It's not much I want ; only just let one neck alone. Do, Empecinado, avourneine! Arrah, do, and take my blessing! Why, man, it would be murder, out and out, to harm him. Arrah, just look at the state ye have reduced him to !--you have drove two bullets through his cap; and as to his jacket-and may be the best the crature has in the world—it's cut into so many ribbons, that, upon my conscience, a respectable scarecrow would be ashamed to wear it in a wheat-field on a Sunday. You know I'm the last man that would interfere in matters that don't concern me.—Did I part my lips, good nor bad, when ye sent the three gentlemen to the gallows a while ago ?-and if you hanged raff of their kind out of the face-for as well as I could understand they were bailiffs or attorneys—sorra one of me would blame ye if ye strung them by the score. But this poor crature-let him go—and take Mark Antony's blessing.”
Warm as was the fosterer's appeal, it did not shake the stern resolution of the Empecinado; and a cold movement of his head negatived the supplication for mercy.
“ And won't ye, then, be after letting him off ?” continued Mark Antony, warming into Hibernian eloquence, while his cheek flushed, and his dark eyes kindled. “Ye spoke a while ago about my doing you a civil turn-let this poor fellow free, and I'll do ye twenty more, if you'll only put me in the way. But if ye're baste enough to murder
him mona sin diaoul !. the next time you're in a skrimmage, and tumble over an ould tree, may the divil pick ye up for Mark Antony O'Toole. That's all I have to say—Tiggum thu?"*
The speaker ised. Most of the fosterer's address Juan Diez comprehended ; and such portions of the speech as had been delivered in Irish, being expletive, were not very material. To the appeal, however, he turned a deaf ear, and directed, that after his letter had been written, the prisoner's sentence should be carried into immediate effect. I was about to remonstrate, but Mark Antony, having the ear of the Court, thus continued :
“ And is this your answer?” he exclaimed. “Ah, then, Empecinado, I have done with ye! Ay—and for all your fine speeches, I'm beginning to think you're no great shakes, after all; and as to your promises, they're very like what they call pig-shaving in Connaughtmuch noise and little wool. Come along, Hector, jewel! we won't remain to see this poor gentleman fairly murdered. God forgive the whole of ye! I put the sign of the cross betune us.” And here the fosterer made a crusial flourish with his thumb in the direction of the guerilla chiefs. “I can only say, that if there are three gentlemen in Spain certain of a warm corner in the next world, I'm just at present taking a parting peep at them. Good morning to ye all. I'll be obliged if you'll send one of your understrappers to put us on the right road; and I hope, Mister Diez, that the next dacent lad ye tatter out of bed at cock-crow, to drag into a rookawn first, and a river afterwards—why—that you'll trate him civiller than ye did me.”
There are few who are proof against eloquence, natural or acquired; and on all it has power alike, whether it be exercised in the fishmarket or the Four Courts. On some men it may have opposite effects; and the florid appeal that carries away the judgment of the one, will only alarm the suspicions of another; and thus, the same jury, that on the showing of Mr. Charles Phillips, values an abstracted lady at a thousand pounds, after a prosy address from Sergeant Roundabout, will estimate a similar loss only at a sixpence. Mark Antony had very awkward judges to address ; like his greater namesake,"
he was no orator,” and possibly it was all the better for his client. We have some doubts, had Mr. Joseph Hume denounced the international illegality of despatching Lieutenant Cammaran of the 16th Voltigeurs, with the arithmetical precision with which, in the House of Commons, he would calculate the waste of human breath, that the brass band of the Guards inflicts on this distressed country,—we have doubts, we say, whether the Empecinado would have been a convert. Had the Liberator of Ireland blessed or banned for an hour by Shrewsbury clock, it would have been all the same to El Manco-and to the remonstrance of the Bench of Bishops, aided by a rescript from the Pope, the Cura would have irreverently played a deaf adder.” And yet, with such unmanageable authorities to deal with, Mark Antony's eloquence prevailed.
“Stop!” cried Juan Diez, as the fosterer turned his back sullenly round, to wait while the condemned soldier conveyed to his orphan a
* Anglice, “ Do ye understand ?"