The Macdermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter 9.


We must now request our reader to accompany us to the little town of Mohill; not that there is anything attractive in the place to repay him for the trouble of going there.

Mohill is a small country town, standing on no high road, nor on any thoroughfare from the metropolis; and therefore it owes to itself whatever importance it may possess — and, in truth, that is not much. It is, or, at any rate, was, at the time of which we are writing, the picture of an impoverished town — the property of a non-resident landlord — destitute of anything to give it interest or prosperity — without business, without trade, and without society. The idea that would strike one on entering it was chiefly this: “Why was it a town at all? — why were there, on that spot, so many houses congregated, called Mohill? — what was the inducement to people to come and live there? — Why didn’t they go to Longford, to Cavan, to Carrick, to Dublin — anywhere rather than there, when they were going to settle themselves?” This is a question which proposes itself at the sight of many Irish towns; they look so poor, so destitute of advantage, so unfriended. Mohill is by no means the only town in the west of Ireland, that strikes one as being there without a cause.

It is built on the side of a steep hill, and one part of the town seems constantly threatening the destruction of the other. Every now and again, down each side of the hill, there is a slated house, but they are few and far between; and the long spaces intervening are filled with the most miserable descriptions of cabins — hovels without chimneys, windows, door, or signs of humanity, except the children playing on the collected filth in front of them. The very scraughs of which the roofs are composed are germinating afresh, and, sickly green with a new growth, look more like the tops of long-neglected dungheaps, than the only protection over Christian beings from the winds of heaven.

Look at that mud hovel on the left, which seems as if it had thrust itself between its neighbours, so narrow is its front! The doorway, all insufficient as it is, takes nearly the whole facing to the street. The roof, looking as if it were only the dirty eaves hanging from its more aspiring neighbour on the right, supports itself against the cabin on the left, about three feet above the ground. Can that be the habitation of any of the human race? Few but such as those whose lot has fallen on such barren places would venture in; but for a moment let us see what is there.

But the dark misery within hides itself in thick obscurity. The unaccustomed eye is at first unable to distinguish any object, and only feels the painful effect of the confined smoke; but when, at length, a faint, struggling light makes its way through the entrance, how wretched is all around!

A sickly woman, the entangled nature of whose insufficient garments would defy description, is sitting on a low stool before the fire, suckling a miserably dirty infant; a boy, whose only covering is a tattered shirt, is putting fresh, but, alas, damp turf beneath the pot in which are put to boil the potatoes — their only food. Two or three dim children — their number is lost in their obscurity — are cowering round the dull, dark fire, atop of one another; and on a miserable pallet beyond — a few rotten boards, propped upon equally infirm supports, and covered over with only one thin black quilt — is sitting the master of the mansion; his grizzly, unshorn beard, his lantern jaws and shaggy hair, are such as his home and family would lead one to expect. And now you have counted all that this man possesses; other furniture has he none — neither table nor chair, except that low stool on which his wife is sitting. Squatting on the ground — from off the ground, like pigs, only much more poorly fed — his children eat the scanty earnings of his continual labour.

And yet for this abode the man pays rent.

The miserable appearance of Irish peasants, when in the very lowest poverty, strikes one more forcibly in the towns than in the open country. The dirt and filth around them seems so much more oppressive on them; they have no escape from it. There is much also in ideas and associations. On a road-side, or on the borders of a bog, the dusty colour of the cabin walls, the potato patch around it, the green scraughs or damp brown straw which form its roof, all the appurtenances, in fact, of the cabin, seem suited to the things around it. But in a town this is not so. It evidently should not be there — its squalidness and filth are all that strike you. Poverty, to be picturesque, should be rural. Suburban misery is as hideous as it is pitiable.

Again, see that big house, with such pretensions to comfort, and even elegance — with its neat slated roof, brass knocker on the door, verandahs to the large sashed windows, and iron railing before the front. Its very grandeur is much more striking, that from each gable-end hangs another cabin, the same as those we have above described. It is true that an entrance for horses, cars, and carriages has been constructed, as it were through one end of the house itself; otherwise the mansion is but one house in the continuous street.

Here lives Mr. Cassidy, the agent; a fat, good-natured, easy man, with an active grown up son. Every one says that Mr. Cassidy is a good man, as good to the poor as he can be. But he is not the landlord, he is only the agent. What can he do more than he does? Is the landlord then so hard a man? so regardless of those who depend on him in all their wants and miseries? No, indeed; Lord Birmingham is also a kind, good man, a most charitable man! Look at his name on all the lists of gifts for unfortunates of every description. Is he not the presiding genius of the company for relieving the Poles? a vice-presiding genius for relieving destitute authors, destitute actors, destitute clergymen’s widows, destitute half-pay officers’ widows? Is he not patron of the Mendicity Society, patron of the Lying-in, Small Pox, Lock, and Fever Hospitals? Is his name not down for large amounts in aid of funds of every description for lessening human wants and pangs? How conspicuous and eager a part too he took in giving the poor Blacks their liberty! was not his aid strongly and gratefully felt by the friends of Catholic emancipation? In short, is not every one aware that Lord Birmingham has spent a long and brilliant life in acts of public and private philanthropy? ’Tis true he lives in England, was rarely in his life in Ireland, never in Mohill. Could he be blamed for this? Could he live in two countries at once? or would the world have been benefited had he left the Parliament and the Cabinet, to whitewash Irish cabins, and assist in the distribution of meal?

This would be his own excuse, and does it not seem a valid one? Yet shall no one be blamed for the misery which belonged to him; for the squalid sources of the wealth with which Poles were fed, and literary paupers clothed? Was no one answerable for the grim despair of that half-starved wretch, whom but now we saw, looking down so sadly on the young sufferers to whom he had given life and poverty? That can hardly be. And if we feel the difficulty which, among his numerous philanthropic works, Lord Birmingham must experience in attending to the state of his numerous dependents, it only makes us reflect more often, that from him to whom much is given, much indeed will be required!

But we are getting far from our story. Going a little further down the hill, there is a lane to the right. This always was a dirty, ill-conditioned lane, of bad repute and habits. Father Mathew and the rigour of the police have of late somewhat mended its manners and morals. Here too one now sees, but a short way from the main street, the grand new stirring poor-house, which ten years ago was not in being.

In this lane at the time to which we allude the widow Mulready kept the shebeen shop, of which mention has before been made.

In her business Mrs. Mulready acquired much more profit than respectability, for, whether well or ill-deserved, she had but a bad name in the country; in spite of this, however, to the company assembled here on Wednesday evening — the same evening that Thady dined with Father John — we must introduce our readers.

The house, or rather cabin, consisted only of two rooms, both on the ground, and both without flooring or ceiling; the black rafters on which the thatch was lying was above, and the uneven soil below; still this place of entertainment was not like the cabins of the very poor: the rooms were both long, and as they ran lengthways down the street, each was the full breadth of the house: in the first sat the widow Mulready, a strong, red-faced, indomitable-looking woman about fifty. She sat on a large wooden seat with a back, capable of containing two persons; there was an immense blazing fire of turf, on which water was boiling in a great potato pot, should any of her guests be able to treat themselves to the expensive luxury of punch. A remarkably dirty small deal table was beside her, on which were placed a large jar, containing a quantity of the only merchandize in which she dealt, and an old battered pewter measure, in which she gave it out; in a corner of the table away from the fire was cut a hole through the board, in which was stuck a small flickering candle. No further implements appeared necessary to Mrs. Mulready in the business which she conducted. A barefooted girl, with unwashed hands and face, and unbrushed head, crouched in the corner of the fire, ready to obey the behests of Mrs. Mulready, and attend to the numerous calls of her customers. This Hebe rejoiced in the musical name of Kathleen.

The Mohill resort of the wicked, the desperate, and the drunken, was not certainly so grand, nor so conspicuous, as the gas-lighted, mahogany fitted, pilastered gin palaces of London; but the freedom from decent restraint, and the power of inebriety at a cheap rate, were the same in each.

There was a door at the further end of the room, which opened into the one where Mrs. Mulready’s more known and regular visitors were accustomed to sit and drink, and here rumour said a Ribon lodge was held; there was a fire also here, at the further end, and a long narrow table ran nearly the whole length of the room under the two windows, with a form on each side of it. Opposite this was Mrs. Mulready’s own bed, which proved that whatever improprieties might be perpetrated in the house, the careful widow herself never retired to rest till they were all over.

The assembly on the night in question was not very numerous; there might be about twelve in it, and they all were of the poorer kind; some even had neither shoes or stockings, and there was one poor fellow had neither hat nor coat — nothing but a tattered shirt and trousers.

The most decent among them all was Pat Brady, who occupied a comfortable seat near the fire, drinking his tumbler of punch and smoking like a gentleman; Joe Reynolds was sitting on the widow’s bed, with a spade in his hand; he had only just come in. They were all from Drumleesh, with one or two exceptions; the man without the coat was Jack Byrne, the brother of the man whom Captain Ussher had taken when the malt was found in his brother-in-law’s house.

“Kathleen, agra,” hallooed Joe Reynolds, “bring me a glass of sperrits, will you?”

“Send out the rint, Joe,” hallooed out the wary widow, and Kathleen came in for the money.

“Sorrow to your sowl then, mother Mulready; d’ye think I’m so bad already then, that they haven’t left me the price of a glass?” and he put three halfpence into the girl’s hand.

“Oh, Joe,” said Brady, “don’t be taking your sperrits that way; come over here, like a dacent fellow, and we’ll be talking over this.”

“Oh, that’s all right for you, Pat; you’ve nothing to be dhriving the life out of yer very heart. I am cowld within me, and divil a word I’ll spake, till I dhriv it out of me with the sperrits,” and he poured the glass of whiskey down his throat, as though he was pouring it into a pitcher. “And now, my boys, you’ll see Joe Reynolds’ll talk may be as well as any of you. Give us a draw of the pipe, Pat.”

He took the pipe from Pat’s hand, and stuck it in his mouth.

“Well, Jack, I see’d your brother in Carrick; and I towld him how you’d done all you could for him, and pawned the clothes off your back to scrape the few shillings together for him; and what d’ye think he’d have me do then? why he towld me to take the money to Hyacinth Keegan, Esq., jist to stand to him and get him off. Why he couldn’t do it, not av he was to give his sowl — and that’s not his own to give, for the divil has it; and av he could, he wouldn’t walk across Carrick to do them a good turn — though, by Jasus, he’d be quick enough pocketing the brads. Begad, Jack, and it’s cowld you’re looking without the frieze; come and warm your shins, my boy, and take a draw out of Pat’s pipe.”

“And Joe,” said Pat, “what magisthrates war there in it?”

“Why, there war Sir Michael, and Counsellor Webb, and there war that black ruffian Jonas Brown.”

“And they jist sent him back to gaol agin, Joe?”

“No, they didn’t! Counsellor Webb stuck to the boys hard and fast, while he could; both his own boys and poor Tim; and that he may never sup sorrow; for he proved hisself this day the raal friend to the poor man —”

“But it war all no good in the end?”

“Divil a good. That thief of the world, old Brown, after axing Ussher a sight of questions, was sthrong for sending ’em back; and then Counsellor Webb axed Ussher how he could prove that the boys knew the stuff was in it; and he, the black-hearted viper, said, that warn’t necessary, so long as they war in the same house; and then they jawed it out ever so long, and Ussher said as how the whole counthry through war worse than ever with the stills; and Counsellor Webb said that war the fault of the landlords; and Brown said, he hoped they’d take every mother’s son of ’em as they could lay hands on in the counthry, and bring ’em there; and so they jawed it out a long while; and then, Sir Michael, who’d niver said a word at all, good, bad, or indifferent, said, as how Paddy Byrne and Smith war to pay each twenty pounds, and Tim ten, or else to go to gaol as long as the bloody owld barrister chose to keep ’em there.”

“Jack,” said one of the others, “did Paddy, d’y remimber, happen to have an odd twenty pound in his breeches pocket? becase av so, he might jist put it down genteel, and walk out afore thim all.”

“Well, then, Corney,” answered Jack, with Pat Brady’s pipe in his mouth, “av Paddy had sich a thrifle about then, I disremember it entirely; but shure, why wouldn’t he? He’d hardly be so far as Carrick, in sich good company too, without a little change in his pocket.”

“But to go and put twenty pound on them boys!” observed the more earnest Joe; “the like of them to be getting twenty pounds! mightn’t he as well have said twenty thousand? and tin pounds on Tim too! More power to you, Jonas Brown; tin pounds for a poor boy’s warming his shins, and gagging over an owld hag’s bit of turf!”

“But Joe,” said Brady, “is it in Carrick they’re to stop?”

“Not at all; they’re to go over to the Bridewell in Ballinamore. Captain Greenough was there. A lot of his men is to take them to Ballinamore tomorrow; unless indeed, they all has the thrifle of change in their pockets, Corney was axing about.”

“And supposing now, Joe,” said Jack, “the boys paid the money, or some of the gentlemen put it down for ’em; who’d be getting it?”

“Sorrow a one of me rightly knows. Who would be getting the brads, Pat, av they war paid?”

“Who’d be getting ’em? why, who would have ’em but Masther Ussher? D’ye think he’d be so keen afther the stills, av he war not to make something by it? where d’ye think he’d be making out the hunters, and living there better nor the gentlemen themselves, av he didn’t be getting the fines, and rewards, and things, for sazing the whiskey?”

“Choke him for fines!” said Jack; “that the gay horse he rides might break the wicked neck of him!”

“Sorrow a good is there in cursing, boys,” continued Joe. “Av there war any of you really’d have the heart to be doing anything!”

“What’d we be doing, Joe? kicking our toes agin Carrick Gaol, till the police comed and spiked us? The boys is now in gaol, and there they’re like to be, for anything we’ll do to get ’em out again.”

Joe Reynolds was now puzzled a little, so he fumbled in his pockets, and bringing out another three halfpence, hallooed to Kathleen.

“Kathleen, d’ye hear, ye young divil’s imp! bring me another half noggin of speerits,” and he gave her the halfpence; “and here, bring a glass for Jack too.”

“Sind out the rint, Joe, my darling,” again bawled the widow, proving that very little said in the inner room was lost upon her.

“Oh, sink you and your rint, you owld hag!” but he paid for the glass for his friend; “and may I be d —— d if they aint the very last coppers I’ve got.”

“Long life to you, Joe,” said the other, as he swallowed the raw whiskey; “may be I’ll be able to stand to you, the same way, some of these days, bad as things is yet. You is all to be up at Ballycloran afther tomorrow, with the rints, eh Brady? What’ll you be saying to the young Masther, Joe?”

Joe was now somewhat elated by the second glass of whiskey.

“What’ll I be saying to him, is it? well I’ll tell you what I’ll be saying. I’ll just say this —‘I owes two years’ rint, Misther Macdermot, for the thrifle of bog, and the cabin I holds up at Drumleesh, and there’s what I got to pay it!’ And I’ll show him what he may put in his eye and see none the worse: and I’ll go on, and I’ll say, ‘Now, Misther Macdermot, there is the bit of oats up there, as I and poor Tim broke the back of us dhrying the land for last winter; and there is the bit of pratees; and I didn’t yet be cutting of the one, nor digging of the other; and if ye likes, ye may go and do both; and take them with yer for me; and ye may take the roof off the bit of a cabin I built myself over the ould mother; and ye may turn out the ould hag to die in the cowld and the bog; and ye may send me off, to get myself into the first gaol as is open to me. That’s what you can do, Misther Macdermot: and when you’ve done all that, there’ll be one, as would have stood betwixt you and all harum, will then go far enough to give you back your own in the hardships you’ve druv him to.’ And then I’ll go on, and I’ll say, ‘And you can do this — you can tell me to go and be d —— d, as ye did many a day, and give me what bad language ye like; and you can send Pat to me next day or so, jist to tell me to sell the oats, and bring in what thrifle I can; and then, Mr. Thady, there’ll be one who’ll not let a foot or finger of that hell-hound Keegan go on Ballycloran; there’ll be one’— and when there’s me, my boys, there’ll be lots more —‘as’ll keep you safe and snug in yer own father’s house, though all the Keegans and Flannellys in County Leitrim come to turn you out!’ And that’s what I’ll say to the Masther; and now, Pat — for he tells you pretty much all — what’ll the Masther be saying to that?”

“What’ll he be saying to it, Joe! Faix then I don’t know what he’ll be saying to it; it’s little mind, I think, he’ll have to be saying much comfort to any of you; for he’ll be vexed and out with everything, jist at present. He doesn’t like the way that Captain Ussher is schaming with his sister.”

“Like it! no, I wonder av he did; a black-hearted Protestant like him. What business is it a Macdermot would have taking up with the likes of him?”

“That’s not it neither, Joe; but he thinks the Captain don’t mane fair by Miss Feemy! and by the blessed Virgin, he ain’t far wrong.”

“Then why don’t he knock the life out of the traitor? or av there is rasons why he shouldn’t do it hisself, why don’t he get one of the boys as’d be glad of the job to help him. Look here, Pat —” and Reynolds went over to the fire-place, and with his arm against the back wall and leaning down over the seat where Brady was sitting, began whispering earnestly in his ear; and then Brady muttered something dissenting, in a low voice; and Reynolds went on whispering again, with gesticulations, and many signs. This continued for a long time, till Corney exclaimed,

“What the divil, boys, are ye colloquing about there; arn’t we all sworn frinds, and what need ye be whispering about? Why can’t ye spake what ye’ve got to say out like a man, instead of huggery muggering there in the corner with Brady, as though any one here wasn’t thrue to ye all.”

“Whist, Corney, ye born idiot, ye don’t know I s’pose what long ears the old hag there has? and ye’d be wanting her to hang two or three of us, I s’pose?”

“Divil a hang, Joe; av no one towld of any but her, we’d be safe enough that way; but what is it ye’re saying?”

But instead of answering him Reynolds continued urging something to Pat Brady; at last he exclaimed,

“Tear and ages! and why wouldn’t he side with the boys as lives on his own land? av he don’t make frinds of them, where will he find frinds? Is it among the great gintlemen of the counthry? By dad, they don’t think no more of him nor they do of us. And is it the likes of Captain Ussher as’ll be good frinds to him? He’s thinking of his own schames, and taking the honest name from his sister. Is that his frind, Pat?”

“Didn’t I tell ye, Joe, he hates Ussher a d —— d sight worse nor you or I; there’s little need to say anything to him about that.”

“Why wouldn’t he join us then? Who else is there to help him at all? won’t he be as bad as we are, if Flannelly dhrives him and the ould man out of Ballycloran; but av he’ll stick to us, divil a lawyer of ’em all shall put a keeper on the lands; and I said before, and I say it agin — and av I prove a liar, may I never see the blessed glory — av young Macdermot’ll help the boys to right themselves, the first foot Keegan puts on Ballycloran, he shall leave there, by G——d!”

“But, Joe, s’pose now Mr. Thady agreed to join you here, what’d you have him be doing at all?”

“I’d have him lend a hand to punish the murthering ruffian as have got half the counthry dhruv into gaols, and as is playing his tricks now with his own sisther.”

“But what could any of you do? You wouldn’t dare knock the chap on the head?”

“Who wouldn’t dare? by the ‘tarnal, I’d dare it myself! Isn’t there two of us here, whose brothers is now in gaol along of him? Wouldn’t you dare, Jack, av he was up there again in the counthry, to tache him how to be sazing your people?”

“By dad, I’d do anything, Joe; but I don’t know jist as to murthering. I’d do as bad to him as he did to Paddy: av they hung him, then I’d murther him, and wilcome; but Paddy’ll be out of that some of these days — and I think therefore, Joe, av we stripped his ears, it’d do this go.”

Jack Byrne’s equal justice pleased the majority of his hearers; but it did not satisfy Joe. As for Pat, he continued smoking, and said nothing.

“Oh, my boys, that’s nonsense,” said Joe; “either do the job, or let it alone. Av you’ve a mind to let Captain Ussher walk into your cabins and take any of you off to Carrick, jist as he plazes — why you can; but I’m d —— d if I does! I’ve had enough of him now; and by the ‘tarnal powers, though I swing for it, putting Tim in gaol shall cost him his life!”

Joe was very much excited and half tipsy; but he only said what most of them were waiting to hear said, and what each of them expected; not one voice was raised in dissent. Pat said nothing, but smoked and gazed on the fire.

“Masther Thady’ll be in at the wedding tomorrow, Pat?”

“Oh in course he will.”

“Will you be axing him, thin?”

“Axing him what? is it to murther Ussher?”

“No, in course not that; but will you be thrying him, will he join wid us to rid the counthry of him?”

“I tell ye, Joe, he’s willing enough to be shut of him entirely, av he knew how.”

“Oh yes, Pat, I dare say he’d be willing any poor boy’d knock him on the head, and so be rid of him; and av that he who did do it, did be hung for it, what matther in life to him? That may do very well for Masther Thady, but by the powers, it’ll not do for me!”

“Well, you can be spaking to him yourself tomorrow.”

“Yes, but you must be getting him jist to come out, and spake to us; jist dhraw him out a bit, you know.”

“Well then, boys, I’ve said as much to the Masther already, and he expects to meet you up there.”

“That’s the sort, Pat! and av he’ll but join us, divil a fear at all for Captain Ussher. Come, my boys, we’ll dhrink the gentleman’s health, as would be only dacent and proper of us, seeing the great throuble he’s at with us.”

“But where’ll ye get the whiskey, Joe?” said Corney; “I don’t think mother Mulready’ll be too quick giving you thrust.”

“That’s thrue any way; which of ye’s got the rint among yer? come, Pat, fork out for once.”

“Is it for all of ye? I’ll stand a glass for myself, and one for Joe.”

“Well, Jack,” said Corney, “you and I’ll have a dhrop together; you shan’t say I let you go away dhry.”

The rest made it up among them; and Kathleen, having duly received the price in advance, brought in a glass of spirits for each. The widow Mulready had only two glasses, and they therefore had to drink one after the other. Joe took his first, saying, “And there’s more power and success to you, Captain Ussher; and it’s a fine gentleman is the only name for ye; but av you’re above the sod this day three months, may none of us that is in it this night ever see the blessed glory!”

And they all drank the toast which their leader gave them.

They now prepared to leave; but not so quickly but that Mrs. Mulready had to give them very forcible hints that she wanted quiet possession of her bed-room; and much animated conversation passed on the occasion.

“And now, an’t ye a pretty set of boys, the whole of ye, blackguards that ye are! that ye can’t dhrink yer sperrits quietly, in a lone woman’s house, but you must be bringing the town on her, by yer d —— d ructions; and av I niver saw the foot of any of ye agin, it’s little I’d be grieving for ye.”

“Quit that, you ould hag of the divil! or I’ll give you more to talk about than’ll plaze you.”

“Is it you, Joe? by the mortial then, if ye don’t quit that, you’ll soon be having a stone roof over yer head. By the blessed Virgin, I’ll be the hanging of you av you don’t be keeping yerself to yerself.”

“Is it hanging yer talking of? And where’ll you be yerself? Not but hanging’s twice too good for you. Come, Corney, is you coming up to Loch Sheen?”

After a few more exchanges of similar civilities between the landlady and her guests, the latter at length took their departure; and the widow having duly put away the apparatus of her trade, that is, having drank what whiskey there remained in the jug, betook herself to her couch in her usual state of intoxication.

Joe Reynolds and Pat Brady had each about three miles to go home, and the greater part of the way they walked together — talking over their plans, and discussing the probability of their success.

The two men were very different. The former was impoverished, desperate, all but houseless; he had been continually at war with the world, and the world with him. Whether, had he been more fortunate, he might have been an honest man is a question difficult to solve; most certainly he had been a hard working man, but his work had never come to good; he had long been a maker of potheen, and from the different rows in which he had been connected, had got a bad name through the country. The effect of all this was, that he was now desperate; ready not only to take part against any form of restrictive authority, but anxious to be a leader in doing so; he had somehow conceived the idea that it would be a grand thing to make a figure through the country; and, as he would have said himself, “av he were hanged, what harum?”

Pat Brady was a very different character. In a very poor country he enjoyed comparative comfort; he had never been rendered desperate by want and oppression. Poor as was the Ballycloran property, he had always, by his driving and ejecting, and by one or another art of rural law which is always sure to be paid for, managed to live decently, and certainly above want: it was difficult to conceive why he should be leagued with so desperate a set of men, sworn together to murder a government officer.

Yet in the conversation they had going home he was by far the most eager of the two; he spoke of the certainty they had of getting young Macdermot to join them the next evening; told Reynolds how he would get him, if possible, to drink, and, when excited, would bring him out to talk to the boys; in short, planned and arranged all those things about which Reynolds had been so anxious — but as to which he could get so little done at the widow’s. When there, Pat had been almost silent; at any rate, he had himself proposed nothing. It had never occurred to the other, poor fellow, that Brady was making a tool of him; that though the rent-collector was now so eager in proving how easily young Macdermot might be induced to join their party, he would commit himself to nothing when they were congregated at the widow Mulready’s. Had Reynolds not been so completely duped, he would have seen that Brady made him take the part of leader when others were present, who might possibly be called upon as witnesses; but that when they were alone together, he, Brady, was always the most eager to press the necessity of some desperate measure. On the present occasion too Reynolds was half drunk, whereas Brady was quite sober.

“So,” said the latter on their way home, “thim boys is fixed in gaol for the next twelve months any way. Tim warn’t thinking he’d get lodgings for nothing so long, when he went up to widow Smith’s there at Loch Sheen.”

“Well, Pat, a year is a dreary long time for a poor boy to be locked up all for nothing; and poor Tim won’t bear up well as most might; but he that put him there will soon be sent where he’ll be treated even worser than Tim at Ballinamore; — and he won’t get out of it that soon. By G——d, I’d sooner be in Tim’s shoes this night than in Captain Ussher’s, fine gentleman as he thinks hisself!”

“But, Joe, will them boys from Loch Sheen let Tim and the others be taken quietly to Ballinamore? Won’t they try a reskey on the road?”

“There arn’t that sperrit left in ’em, Pat; — and how should it? what is the like of them with their shilelahs, and may be a few stones, agin them b —— pailers in the daylight? Av it had been at night, we might have tried a reskey; but the sperrit ain’t in ’em at all. I axed ’em to go snacks with me in doing the job, but they was afeard — and no wonder.”

“Well, you’ll be up at Mary’s wedding tomorrow, and see what the young masther’ll be saying.”

And so the two friends parted to their different homes.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01