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Dials, put the handcuffs on him, and, accompanied only by another policeman, brought him down on the top of the “high-flier" coach to Liverpool-Branigan sitting between the two men all the way, and sleeping with one of them at Birmingham, while the other sat by and kept guard ; and Darcy never once unclasping his “ bracelets" from the brawny wrists of the murder er until he had him once more the King's prisoner in the strong hold of “ Clonmalla.” Such was the man who had now come up to us in disguise, fraught with some eventful tidings, and his news excited us not a little : he had unquestionable proof that an attack was to be made on our house and offices that very night by a large body of White Shirts. Darcy had heard it only ten minutes before leaving his barrack, from one of our labourers, with whom they had been tampering, but unavailingly.
My uncle received the information with a "countenance more in sorrow than in anger.” “Well, Darcy," he said, “I am quite prepared for these gentlemen; I have been warned more than once, and have had several threatening notices, though I spoke but of the first even to my family. I have lived too long in the country now not to expect something of this kind would occur. I am also too old a soldier not to have my defences all good, and have seen too much of regular warfare to dread for myself any result from a rude attack of this kind ; my only concern in the matter is that blood must flow, and that in self defence I shall be constrained to punish some of these unfortunate madmen in a more summary way than if I were delivering out justice from the bench upon their persons, as God is my judge, Gentlemen," said my uncle, becoming a little excited," from my heart I am sorry to raise my hand against a fellow creature's life in this matter, and I would do anything consistent with what is right to avoid it.” He was silent for a moment or two, and we all kept regarding him with feelings of deference and respect. “Well, Sergeant,” he continued, “we must now proceed to business; how many men can you spare me ?"
“Two of my force, sir ; three more must remain to take care of the
barrack, though I have no apprehension of the people attacking them."
“It is enough,” said the General, “it will be but a short business, and perhaps eventually may purge the country of the evil atmosphere which seems to hover round it now; as thunder storms, though violent and devastating, are succeeded by clear and wholesome weather.”
My uncle then proceeded to make his arrangements. Darcy and his two men, with their muskets, were to come to us when it was dark-there was no moon; Montfort and his English servant, and two young active fellows, were to garrison the great parlour, with liberty to sally out into any other room which might need their presence. Darcy and his men were to occupy the left wing of the house, encamping amidst thechintzery and china of the little old drawingroom; while I and the three Joyces, well armed, were to act as the patrol of the garrison, to scour the lawn and orchard and offices, to guard well the approach of the enemy, and on the first intimation of their coming, to fall back upon the house, into which we should be received on a whistle given, either by Montfort or the sergeant. And this post singularly suited my constitution as well as habits, having ever disliked sitting still when action was in the wind; and knowing, in common with my three stout companions, every green inch of the locale of the Darragh; so that to traverse it by night was as easily performed by us as at highest noon. "My uncle and the Corporal were to command the beleagured garrison, and to occupy the leads, whither our servants had been carrying the muniments of war during the last half hour. The windows were all strongly barred and shuttered, and in an ancient garden root house, which commanded from its two back windows the whole range of stabling, was the General's head gamekeeper, and three or four rangers, with orders to shoot any man who would attempt to fire or force the stable doors ; and as these fellows were all marksmen, we considered this as a very effective part of our defence. The men servants all seemed anxious to do their parts : to each of them Corporal Mon had entrusted a well furnished
guu or pistol, with a bayonetorted to depart home, or to fly to the sword, as he best could spare it. He village. This would never answer: they was much excited by the business on might meet the enemy and suffer malhand, and went about, looking cer treatment. We must in no way suftainly most hideous, yet horribly fer one to quit the house, or inhappy, with something like the fringe upon the integrity of our little attempt of a grisly smile on his garrison.” leathern lips, which, however, was Here a housemaid entered all perstill-born, and died in convulsions, turbed, to say that our cook, “Mrs. passing off in a spasmodic grin ; his Doxey, was in the starrocks," which address to the servants, as he Montfort, from his stabular associa: delivered to each man his arms and tions, explained as the staggers ; but ammunition, though perfectly unin- which we understood better as sigtelligible at the time, was long nifying hystericks. Likewise, that remembered, and ran as follows, as “Miss Johnson, the lady's maid, was he stuttered it out in his word crying and roaring in the still-room." throttling, monosyllabising fashion : My uncle at once decided the matter;
“Put; bus ; gun to should ; cock ordering Margaret Joyce, our launslow; aim low; close blink; fire dress, a girl of great sense, spirit, stedd; mind don't shoot selves ;" and conduct, to get everything into terminated by a subterraneous chuckle “ The Admiralty," to make it all which seemed to come up from his “taut and seaworthy," as the oriepigastris, or rather the region where ginal owner would have said had his his midriff ought to have been, if he ghost come in among usand most had any, which I always considered a comfortable, and then to summon all doubtful matter. Now, this speech the women. It was near six o'clock, of the Corporal being interpreted, is and the night calm, but as dark as a thus : “ Put your blunderbuss, or wolf's mouth. We had made one your gun to your shoulder; cock circuit of the place and offices, and slow; aim low ; close one eye, and found everything quiet, and my uncle fire steadily ; and take care you do had ordered a very plenteous dinner not shoot yourselves.”
to be prepared in the servants' hall, We held a council of war early in knowing that beef and beer are great the evening as to the way we should stirrers of the blood, and encouragers dispose of the ladies of the establish- of valour. When seven and eight ment during the attack. My uncle o'clock had come, the female servants proposed ordering a fire and lights came up to the hall, and my uncle into the Admiralty," and locking all said– The little book-room, called of the fair sex in, with a large tea "The Admiralty,' is in a very safe pot and its cheering appurtenances to position, in case this threatened atsoothe them in their captivity, but tack takes place; and as it is Miss Madeline gently but firmly declined Nugent's wish and mine also to take the proposed incarceration, saying, in all the care we can of you, you will a very decided tone: “ Uncle, I shall please suffer Margaret Joyce, who remain in my chamber, or with appears the stoutest of you all, to Walter ; I have no fear when I have take you there, where you will have 80 many strong hearts and hands tea and every comfort, and remain till about me, and my heavenly Father this affair is over.” above me.” She looked tenderly at Margaret led the way, curtseying the General, and tearfully at Mont to us, and smiling on her terrified fort; yet, though the long silken band, who, however, acquiesced in black lash was moistened for a the arrangement, even to Mrs. Doxey, moment, there was a proud glance who “ looked exceedingly well," which shot from underneath it, and Montfort said, “ for a woman who the short upper lip was still with the had just come out of the staggers !” calmness of determination.
As the party filed off up the oak “ Be it so, my dear," answered the staircase, one remained, and well I General, “ I can trust you ; but Le- knew she would not go of mere permuel tells me that some of the fe suasion, or of command either. This male servants are making a great was Beckie, who planted as firmly as noise below stairs, and one or two of the old chair to the carpet, and them even demanding to be permit- looking just as blackly on us all, said " I'm surely na ganging to fearfully up. Mr. Mon came up to thon 'mirealty the night. I'm surely her in a zig-zag fashion, and having na fet person to be locked up as if it completed his parallels, he began was in Darry jail, with them low thus :-" The Gen'r'l told me, maum, scullions and ketchen maids, or even to take you up stairs," clutching her that foolish dressy creature, Miss by the arm ; upon which she dealt Johnson, with her astericks and her him a box on the ear which made the airs. I'll stay with Miss Maddie-- whip-cord muscles to vibrate in his egh-egh—but you waunt be hen horny face, yet his temper stood undering me, my own sweet child. moved. Egh-oh! you waunt turn off your “ Gang awa' wi you, you ould, puir auld Beckie. Oh ! dearie me! dried-up, longbacked lobster ; must I dearie me! dearie me! why did I obey you, you ugly, flat-faced muayever lave the daycent North to be nial ? Tak your hand off my arm or shot by these Connaught salvages? I'll fell you." What came over me to come awa' To my amaze the corporal obeyed from my grandfeyther's beg house, and her, and, making a grim how, saidhe the most beautiful old man ! Oh “All right, maum, good by," and dear! oh dear! what would Squire passing by his antagonist, he seemed Montgomery, of Con-voy house say as if he were about to leave the hall, if he saw me locked up in Connaught when suddenly backing on her, in and the salvages a shootering me?" dos-a-dos fashion, he threw his long The rest of her speech went over the sinewy arms quick behind him, and cataract of her tears, and was drowned round her, confining her hands; and, in the pool of her sobs. Madeline lifting her on his back as easily as a went to her, and putting her arms school-boy would truss his satchel, or round her, kissed her cheek kindly, Mr. Punch his show-box, he stalked and said—“ Dear Beckie, do as my swiftly up the stairs with his living uncle wishes, for my sake-he must burden, who, all subdued by this sudbe obeyed.”
den indignity offered to her person, was Beckie returned her caress again perfectly quiescent, and only exploded and again, till my uncle, getting im- in a faint sob now and then, mingled patient, cried—“Come now, I see with such broken sentence as these your mistress has coaxed you to do “salvages" -“locked up"_"egh, what is right. Go up after the servants dearie me !”—“ longbacked lobster" and get your tea, my good Beckie, 1 -“egh, egh, my grandfeyther!" must have the key of the book-room I was glad Madeline had not witin three minutes hence on that ta- nessed this scene; but the General, ble.” But these words seem to have gentle as he was, loved discipline, revivified all the obstinacy of my and permitted no insubordination in nurse's temper; for, loosing her arm his household, and the effect of this from Madeline's neck, she faced my passing roughness on Becky was lastuncle like a cat o' the mountain at ing and salutary. In two minutes bay, and planting her large feet on the the corporal descended the stairs as carpet, she cried, or rather screamed solemn as Saturn, and bringing the out-“I tell you, Sir, I wunna- key of “ The Admiralty” to me with W-u-n-n-a gang yane leg. I daur you a grave bow, requested that I might to mak me!"
hand it to the General, and tell him The General frowned, and then, that “ all was right." smiling, passed out of the door, ta- My uncle's plan of defence was king Madeline on his arm, and mo- now known to the whole household; tioning to me and Montfort to fol- he had a number of hand grenades low; but first, he said two words to piled on the leads, together with a the corporal, who was watching his small brazier of lighted coals to ig. eye as eagerly as a dog does that of his nite their fuses ; over these the cormaster. I confess I lingered, anxious poral was to preside, and I and my to see the end of this strange scene. party of Joyces, when we returned The corporal now approached Beckie, home, were to act under Mr. Mon's and I evidently saw that when Greek commands in throwing the grenades. meets Greek, then comes the tug of We took our last round at half-past war. I grieve to say that poor eleven; the place was all quiet as if Beckie's blood and back were both sunk in deep repose ; the air dark
and cold ; a few dim stars shining in the dull, invisible sky; there was nothing stirring in or about the grounds, where a thin mist began to rise. As we stood together by the haha, we could hear the rush of the river in the wood, in its slumberless turbulency, unaffected by the repose of the night, and unsympathizing with the surrounding still air—the few sleepy and winking stars, and the deep quietude of universal nature, which replied not to the torrent's chafing, save when borne on “ the invisible and creeping wind"-the distant booming of the Atlantic breaking on its cliffs, gave back, like subterranean thunder, its hoarse and sullen defiance. Suddenly a light shot up on the side of Slieve-naQuilla, as if a bonfire was kindled there, and this was at once answered by a similar signal high upon the Church Mountain.
“ There goes their sign," said the elder Joyce ; “ they will be down upon us now immediately. That fire is lighted on the flat rocks near old Ned M‘Divit's mountain farm. He will have a hand in this business, and it's well for him that his two sons are this night locked up snug and safe in the jail of — or else they would he sure to be in it, with the other rogue, their father. They say for certain that the Aherns were in the last fair of Ballynatrasna, and if Dermid Ruadh be with them, its just his very big red head which has consayved this mischief against the master; but come, Mr. Walter, let us get into the house and warn the General, that all may be ready."
While he was speaking, his son, who had been putting his ear to the ground, said he distinctly heard the footsteps of a large body of men coming down the avenue. We at once entered the house ; locking and barring the thick and ponderous oak door, and I immediately joined my uncle on the leads with my companion. It was an anxious moment, but my spirit rose buoyant on the billows of youthful excitement. My uncle was calm but grave; and the Corporal seemed quite in spirits for one so saturnine as he. Presently the men came on, poured over the ha-ha with a shout, and, halting within about fifty feet of the house, they fired a volley, breaking all the glass
of the parlour and bed-room windows, but doing no further damage. My uncle then, standing behind a low battlement, ordered a blue light to be burned from the roof, which disclosed to our view the lawn and shrubberies in a clear green ghastliness, and the whole of the enemy's force, about sixty men, with guns, white shirts, and blackened faces. At the same time the General cried with a loud voice, distinct as the notes of a bugle, “Men, I am prepared to defend my house. Retire from before my door this minute, or I shall be obliged to attack you and your destruction is certain."
“Ha! that is the old villian," exclaimed a savage voice-it was that of old M‘Divit "shoot him, boys." Twenty bullets whistled over our heads, but the aim was too high to do us any mischief.
“Fire your fuses, now," said the steady voice of my uncle," and throw the grenades right and left among them."
This was done at once, by the Corporal and his party, and as the shells fell over the house, a scornful laugh welcomed them from below, and a stentorian voice roared out,
“Is it foot-balls and squibs you're going to fight us with, Ĝeneral ?”alluding to the fuses which were slowly burning on the ground; “forward, white shirts, and break open the door."
On they rushed madly, but at that moment the grenades, of whose nature they appeared utterly unconscious, exploded, wounding and killing many, and throwing them all into the most hopeless fright and confusion.
“Oh! millia murdher,” exclaimed more than one rough voice, “we're sold—we're sold," and was answered by cries, howls, and groans : among which my uncle's tones rose loud and clear as the ring of a bell, as he shouted,
“Draw off-draw off now and retire this minute, or I shall fling more grenades among you, and give you a volley of bullets also."
Then, turning round, he addressed his own party,
“Let no man fire, or leave the house till he has my permission.”
But this order came too late, for Montfort and Darcy had already quit: ted the leads, and rushing down the stairs, and followed by all the garri. son in the lower room, had flung open the hall-door and issued on the lawn, where the white shirts were flying in all directions, dragging the dead and the hurt after them, and totally broken and routed.
I remained with my uncle standing on the leads : his wish was now to spare life, but Montfort and his followers, not knowing his plans, fired their pieces among theflying wretches, and did great execution : but this needless act grieved my uncle much; he was fated to be tried still more during that night. Montfort, having descried a figure still hovering near the house, as if irresolute to fight or fly, and indicating it to Darcy; that worthy, who united the velvety paw of the leopard with the activity and spring of the animal, made a roundabout dash after the figure, and succeeded in getting behind him just as Montfort had come up in his front. The fellow, seeing his retreat thus cut off, fired his carbine at Montfort, but missed him owing to Darcy, who struck up his gun with his left arm, at the same time crying out,
“Mr. Montfort, leave him to me, sir ; I will secure him.”
“ Stand aside, sir," thundered Montfort to the policeman, as, raising his fowling-piece, he poured its whole charge into the stomach of his antagonist : the wretch fell groaning and vomiting blood : the noise had now brought us all to the spot ; so we lifted the unfortunate man by his legs and arms, and carried him into the hall, and laid him on one of the oak settles. In the bearing him along a black wig had fallen from his head, and a wild shock of red hair appearing under it, Darcy recognized him at once to be Dermid Ahern. He had evidently got his death wound, and knew it well, and it was a fearful sight to witness the union of ferocity, rage, and terror, which by turns worked upon the livid features of his malignant face. We stood watching round him, when suddenly he cried,
“Is Mr. Montfort here ?-Oh, sir, I shot at you once and you escaped : and again to-night, sure you had the luck of the world ;-oh this painthis pain ;-I am dying, sir-and its yoy who have done for me. But I
want-I want, sir, just to speak one word to you, sir. You will not refuse a dying man.”
“Stoop down your face, sir, for I am getting wake-oh, so wake."
He seemed to be fainting, and his eyes closed. Montfort bent down his face, when the ruffian seizing him by his waistcoat with his left hand, and drawing a horse-pistol from his breast, struck him heavily on the head with all the convulsive energy of a dying man, and felled him to the ground: and, tumbling back the next minute, he rolled on the floor and expired; his eyes protruding and glaring, and his large teeth like those of a furious wolf all exposed in the grin of satisfied vengeance which accompanied the flight of his miserable soul. We lifted our poor friend into the drawing-room, and as we passed where Darcy was standing, I heard him say, but in tones of great respect,
“Had I dared, I should have hindered Mr. Montfort from going near Ahern, for I know well how dangerous all vermin are when they are dying ; but he was displeased at my wanting to secure that villain quietly on the lawn a while ago, and see now what is come of the poor gentleman's rashness ?"
This was alas too true. The pride and fierté of our friend had wrought him this heavy sorrow ; his skull was fractured above the right ear, and he lay senseless and breathing heavily, with hiseyes all upturned in their sockets, till thesurgeon from C a rrived, and lifted the depressed bone, when he recovered sight and voice, and knew us, and the following day brought Ć. from Dublin, who cleverly trepanned him, and gave us hopes of his ultimate though gradual recovery. Then it was the first faint smile like a sickly ray of winter sunshine, flitted over my poor Madeline's Sorro clouded face, and for many a long day during the winter and coming spring, she tenderly and bravely nursed poor Montfort; and alas he needed all her care, for his nervous system was so shattered that he could scarcely walk without support. Ille, the proudhearted, manly, independent Montfort was now glad to receive help from a woman or a boy, as he would come into the breakfast-room smiling sweetly, and with great patience, yet