« VorigeDoorgaan »
not my fault, nor any man's fault," said Father Eustace impressively. “Remember in particular that bloody-minded heretic Robert Carre, who attacked me yesterday. I do not desire you to burn his stack-yard to the ground, but were it done what would be the harm ? If he were in the fire himself, so much the better, though I do not .bid you burn him. If his house be consumed with all the inhabitants, who can blame me? At the same time should such an event happen tonight, let those who know anything of the accident call upon me to-morrow. I have absolved many worse sins, if that be a sin ; I should rather say it is a merit to rid the world of those who deserve to be driven from it. I shall look out of my window at twelve o'clock to-night, and if there should be a red light towards Daisybank, all I can say is that the misfortune cannot be my doing, though it
may be the work of good men and trne. What do you all stand there for, staring about like astonished cassowarys, with your hands in your pockets, waiting to have your throats cut by that persecuting crew of Protestants at Heatherbrae ! Be alive! Stand up for your rights! Let there be freedom or death; and if one of you dares to vote for Sir Allan, now that he is a bloody-minded apostate, you may christen and bury yourselves, but no priest in Scotland shall do renegades any such offices of religion. Those who disobey me shall be cut off from the living, and not make their graves with the dead. Now, three groans for the Lady of Heatherbrae, and three curses for Robert Carre of Daisybank.”
The sensation was immense, and Bessie trembled as she heard the muttered thunder of fifty or an hundred angrily excited voices calling down vengeance on the benefactress of Clanmarina, and on her own dearest of earthly friends and favourites, her once affianced husband, Robert Carre. It was a terrifying sound, and the agitated girl, at a loss what to do, shrunk into her own home, where, seated at the window, she endeavoured to collect her thoughts, and to decide on the best mode of acting. The evening had become nearly dark, and no one was at hand whom she could send to warn either Lady Edith or Robert Carre of the unexpected excitement suddenly raised in the Popish quarter of Clanmarina by the announcement of Father Eustace, that Sir Allan had become an apostate from the Popish faith, and that a new candidate, Mr. OʻGrady, a straight-from-Tipperary Irish Papist, was invited to stand for the vacant seat in parliament. He was brought across the seas by Father Eustace himself, who ended his public address that night by sayingỚ“ Let us have freedom of election or perish in its defence ! If a man amongst you presumes to vote for Sir Allan, he must take the fatal consequences and shall repent it, the latest hour he has to breathe. Down with the heretic nests at Heatherbrae and Daisybank, or else down with your own lives and property. I do not bid you make a riot to-night, but if you go home like cowards in peace, my blessing shall not go along with one of you.”
Bessie had not been above a few minutes in her mother's cottage, before she heard the sound of
muffled voices and the trampling of many feet, passing under her window in the direction of Daisybank, and looking out, she saw a tumultuous mob of men and women carrying torches, sticks, flails, pokers, scythes, pitchforks, and reaper's hooks in the direction of Daisybank. Their faces, as they moved past, looked pale and resolute, and a silent determination appeared in their onward progress appalling to witness. Father Eustace walked some part of the way at their head, eridently taking the command, but immediately opposite to where Bessie sat he paused, saying—“Now, my brave fellows! Do no mischief-not that any one could call it mischief to burn the property of a heretic, or even to burn himself. O'Hara and Feeny, mark my words! I will have no hand in any violence. You had much better all disperse and go home, but if you are determined to fight in the cause of your liberty and religion, the shortest road to Daisybank is, through this gate and over that stile, keeping to the left."
Father Eustace moved solemnly away, in an opposite direction, and disappeared slowly in the surrounding darkness, while the mob advanced, headed by Pat MoDermot, with a suppressed sound of steps and voices in the direction indicated by the priest, who paused at a distance to watch them, and the tyrant dressed in sable canonicals, angrily shook his fist at one or two lingering behind as if about to turn back.
The rioters had evidently a watchword among them, and their leader who drove and dragooned
them forwards was armed with a large sledgehammer of enormous weight, which he flourished menacingly over his head.
Swifter than wind were the steps with which Bessie, wrapped closely round in her scarf of the M*Alpine tartan, now fled along the more circuitous route that led through some corn-fields to the dwelling of her endangered friends. The shutters were all closed at Daisybank, and Robert Carre, with his household assembled, was conducting the evening prayers, when a loud knock of startling vehemence at the outer door was followed by a furious ringing at the bell, which ceased not till Robert Carre opened it, and Bessie, almost fainting with terror, stumbled into the house, and breathlessly related all she had heard, or seen, or even imagined.
Scarcely "had the swift-footed girl begun to explain her errand, before Robert from her incoherent expressions at once understood the whole purport of her warning, and with the most perfect calmness took instant and vigorous measures to protect his life and property. Accompanied by his cousin Andrew, his dog Ponto, and the farm servants, he formed a regular patrol round the extensive stack-yard of Daisybank, and when the angry mob arrived, expecting to surprise a sleeping foe, they found young Carre not only wide awake, but likewise armed at all points to the teeth. Not a vulnerable spot was to be found on the premises of Daisybank, and the midnight conspirators having no authoritative priest to urge them on, and being somewhat intimidated by the firing of three guns in the air, “ merely,” as Andrew said, “a feu de joye to welcome them,” the whole Popish malcontents dispersed at once, more quietly than they met. When Robert Carre returned home glowing with gratitude to Bessie for her timely warning, and delighted at this opportunity once more to see her, she had vanished. As rapidly as she came, the melancholy and heart-stricken girl retraced her footsteps when she had given the alarm ; unable to bear the idea of deliberately -meeting her former lover under such altered circumstances, and most unwilling in any way or on any account to thrust herself upon his notice. When safely housed again, she rushed hurriedly into the very small room which she could call her own, bolted the door, and throwing herself on the bed, she clasped her hands over her eyes and burst into a passion of tears. They were not, as formerly, tears that scorched and burned up her soul, but a feeling of devout thankfulness pervaded her mind, that she had lived to serve Robert Carre, and that consciousness softened the harshness of all her previous sorrow, giving verdure and freshness to her agitated spirit. Yes, she had seen Robert once again, she had spoken to him, she had received his warm-hearted thanks before he hurried out to defend his farm-yard, she had caught his eye upon her with a look of kindness, she had felt the pressure of his hand in grateful acknowledgment of her services, and Bessie thought that now she could die happy, that she