Изображения страниц
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Well, well," replied John, “don't dwell too much on it. I have something else to speak to you about."

[ocr errors]

Dwell on it!" returned the other; as God is above me, she's not onc minute out of my thoughts; an' I tell you, I'd rather be dead this moment, than forget her. Her minory now is the only happiness that is left to memy only wealth in this world."

"No," said John, "it is not. Connor, I have now a few words to say to you, and I know they will prove whether you are as generous as you are said to be; and whether your love for my sister is truly tender and disinterested. You have it now in your power to case her heart very much of a heavy load of concern which she feels Your father, you on your account. know, is now a ruined man, or I should rather say a poor one. You are going out under circumstances the most painful. In the country to which you are unhappily destined, you will have no friends and no one living feels this more acutely than Una; for observe me, I am now speaking on her behalf, and acting in her name. I am her agent. Now Una is richer than you night imagine, being the possessor of a legacy left her by our grandfather by my father's side. Of this legacy she herself stands in no need-but you may and will, when you reach a distant country. Now, Connor, you see how that admirable creature loves youyou see how that love would follow you to the uttermost ends of the earth. Will you, or rather are you, capable of being as generous as she is?—and can you show her that you are as much above the absurd prejudices of the world, and its cold forms, as he ought to be who is loved by a creature to VOL. XI.

truly generous and delicate as Una! You know how very poorly she is at present in health; and I tell you candidly, that your declining to accept this as a gift and memorial by which to remember her, may be attended with very serious consequences to her health."

Connor kept his eyes fixed upon the speaker, with a look of deep and earnest attention; and as O'Brien detailed with singular address and delicacy these striking proofs of Una's affection, her lover's countenance became an index of the truth with which his heart corresponded to the noble girl's tenderness and generosity. He seized O'Brien's hand

[ocr errors]

John," said he, "you are worthy of bein' Una's brother, and I could say nothing higher in your favour; but in the mane time, you and she both know that I want nothing to enable me to remember her by. This is a proof I grant you, that she loves me truly; but I knew that as well before, as I do now. In this business I cannot comply with her wish an' yours, an' you musn't press me. You, I say, mustn't press me. Through my whole life I have never lost my own good opinion, but if I did what you want me now to do, I couldn't respect myself—I would feel lowered in my own mind. In short, I'd feel unhappy, an' that I was too mane too be worthy of your sister. Once for all, then, I cannot comply in this business with your wish an' her's."

"But the anxiety produced by your refusal, may have very dangerous effects on her health."

"Then you must contrive somehow to consale my refusal from her, till she gets recovered. I couldn't do what you want me; an' if you press me farther upon it, I'll think you don't respect me as much as I'd wish her brother to do. Oh, God of heaven!" he exclaimed, clasping his hands, "must I lave you, my darling Una, for ever? I must, I must; an' the drame of all we hoped is past--but never, never, will she lave my heart. Her eye dim, an' her cheek pale! an' all for me-for a man covered with shame and disgrace! Oh, John, John, what a heart!-to love me in spite of all this, an' in spite of the world's opinion along with it"!

At this moment one of the turnkeys entered, and told him that his mother and a young lady were coming up to see him.

[ocr errors]

My mother!" he exclaimed, "I am glad she is come; but I didn't expect

[ocr errors]

her till the day after to-morrow. A young lady! Heavens above, what young lady could come with my mother!"

He involuntarily exchanged looks with O'Brien, and a thought flashed on the instant across the minds of both. They immediately understood each other.

[ocr errors]

be no

Undoubtedly," said John, "it can other-it is she-it is Una. Good God, how is this? The interview and separation will be more than she can bear-she will sink under it."

Connor made no reply, but sat down and pressed his right hand upon his forehead, as if to collect energy sufficient to meet the double trial which was now before him.

"I have only one coorse, John," said he, "now, and that is, to appear to be -what I am not-a firm-hearted man. I must try to put on a smiling face before them."

"If it be Una," returned the other, "I shall withdraw for a while. I know her extreme bashfulness in many cases; and I know, too, that any thing like a restraint upon her heart at presentIn a word, I shall retire for a little."

"It may be as well," said Connor: "but so far as I am concerned, it makes no difference-just as you think proper."

"Your mother will be a sufficient witness," said the delicate-minded brother; "but I will see you again after they shall have left you."

You must," replied O'Donovan. "Oh see me see me again. I have something to say to you of more value even than Una's life."

The door then opened, and assisted, or rather supported by the governor of the gaol, and one of the turnkeys, Honor O'Donovan and Una O'Brien entered the gloomy cell of the guiltless convict.

The situation in which O'Donovan was now placed, will be admitted, we think, by the reader, to have been one equally unprecedented and distressing. It has been often said, and on many occasions with perfect truth, that opposite states of feeling existing in the same breast generally neutralize each other. In Connor's heart, however, there was in this instance nothing of a conflicting nature. The noble boy's love for such a mother, bore in its melancholy beauty a touching resem. blance to the purity of his affection for Una O'Brien-each exhibiting in its highest character those virtues which made the heart of the mother

proud and loving, and that of his beautiful girl generous and devoted. So far, therefore, from their appearance together tending to concentrate his moral fortitude, it actually divided his strength, and forced him to meet each with a heart subdued and softened by his love for the other.

As they entered, therefore, he approached them, smiling as well as he could; and first taking a hand of each, would have led them over to a deal form beside the fire, but it was soon evident, that owing to their weakness and agitation united, they required greater support. He and O'Brien accordingly helped them to a seat, on which they sat with every symptom of that exhaustion which results at once from illness and mental suffering.

Let us not forget to inform our readers that the day of this mournful visit was that on which, according to his original sentence, he should have yielded up his life as a penalty to the law.

[ocr errors]

My dear mother," said he, "you an' Una know that this day ought not to be a day of sorrow among us. Only for the goodness of my friends, an' of government, it's not my voice you'd be now listenin' to-but that is now changed-so no more about it. I'm glad to see you both able to come out."

His mother, on first sitting down, clasped her hands together, and in a silent ejaculation, with closed eyes, raised her heart to the Almighty, to supplicate aid and strength to enable her to part finally with that boy who was, and ever had been, dearer to her than her own heart. Una trembled, and on meeting her brother so unexpectedly, blushed faintly, and, indeed, appeared to breathe with difficulty. She held a bottle of smelling salts in her hand.

[ocr errors]

John," she said, "I will explain this visit."

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Yes," she replied, "I was ill-but when I heard that your life was spared, I got better."

This she said with an artless but melancholy naiveté, that was very try ing to the fortitude of her lover. As she spoke she looked fondly but mournfully into his face.

"Connor," proceeded his mother, "I hope you are fully sensible of the mercy that God has shewn you, under this great thrial ?”

"I hope I am, indeed, my dear mother. It is to God I surely owe it." It is, an' I trust that go where you will, and live where you may, the day will never come when you'll forget the debt you owe your Almighty, for preventin' you from bein' cut down like a flower in the very bloom of your life. I hope, avillish machree, that that day will never come."

"God forbid it ever should, mother dear."

"Thin you may larn from what has happened, avick agus asthore, never, oh never to despair of God's mercy no matther into what thrial or difficulty you may be brought. You see whin you naither hoped for it here, nor expected it, how it came for all that."

[ocr errors]

'It did, blessed be God."

"You're goin' now, ahagur, to a sthrange land, where you'll meet-ay, where my darlin' boy will meet the worst of company; but remember, alanua villish, that your mother, well as she loves you, an' well, I own, as you desarve to be loved-that mother that hung over the cradle of her only one that dressed him, an' reared him, an' felt many a proud heart out of him -that mother would sooner at any time see him in his grave, his sowl bein' free from stain, than to know that his heart was corrupted by the world, an' the people you'll meet in it."

Something in the last sentence must have touched a chord in Una's heart, for the tears, without her showing any other external signs of emotion, streamed down her cheeks.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

consinted to come with you this day."

The weeping girl here dried her eyes, and by a strong effort hushed her grief.

[ocr errors]

My advice, thin, to you, is never to neglect your duty to God, for if you do it wanst or twist, you'll begin by degrees to get careless-thin, bit by bit, asthore, your heart will harden, your conscience will lave you, an' wickedness, an' sin, an' guilt will come upon you. It's no matther, asthore, how much wicked comrades may laugh an' jeer at you, keep you thrue to the will of your good God, an' to your religious duties, an' let them take their own coorse. Will you promise me to do this, asuillish machree?"

"Mother, I have always sthrove to do it, an' with God's assistance, always will."

"An' my son, too, will bear up undher this like a man. Remember, Connor darlin', that although you're lavin' us for ever, yet your poor father an' I have the blessed satisfaction of knowin' that we're not childless-that you're alive, an' that you may yet do well an' be happy. I mintion these things, accushla machree, to show you that there's nothin' over you so bad, but you may shew yourself firm and manly undher it-act as you have done. It's you, asthore, ought to comfort your father an' me; an' I hope whiu you're partin' from him, that you'll Oh God, support him! I wish, Connor darlin', that that partin' was over, but I depend upon you to make it as light upon him as you can."

She paused, apparently from exhaustion. Indeed it was evident, either that she had little else to add, or that she felt too weak to speak much more, with such a load of sorrow and aflliction on her heart.

"There is one thing, Connor jewel, that I needn't mintion. Of coorse you'll write to us as often as you convaniently can. Oh do not forget that, for you know that that bit of paper from your own hand, is all belongin' to you we will ever see more. A vick machree, machree, many a long look out we will have for it. It may keep the ould man's heart from breakin'."

She was silent, but as she uttered the last words, there was a shaking of the voice, which gave clear proof of the difficulty with which she went through the solemn task of being calm, which for the sake of her son, she had heroically imposed upon herself.

She was now silent, but as is usual

with Irishwomen when under the influence of sorrow, she rocked herself involuntarily to and fro, whilst, with closed eyes, hands clapsed as before, she held communion with God, the only true source of comfort.

"Connor," she added, after a pause, during which he and Una, though silent from respect to her, were both deeply affected; "sit formint me, avick machree, that, for the short time you're to be with me, I may have you my eyes.-Husth now, a colleen machree, an' remimber your promise. Where's the stringth you said you'd show ?"


She then gazed with a long look of love and sorrow upon the fine countenance of her manly son, and nature would be no longer restrained—

"Let me lay my head upon your breast," said she; "I'm attemptin' too much the mother's heart will give out the mother's voice-will speak the mother's sorrow! Oh, my son, my son, my darlin', manly son-are you lavin' your lovin' mother for evermore, for evermore ?"

She was overcome; placing her head upon his bosom, her grief fell into that beautiful but mournful wail with which, in Ireland, those of her sex weep over the dead.

Indeed, the scene assumed a tenderness, from this incident, which was inexpressibly affecting; inasmuch as the cry of death was but little out of place when bewailing that beloved boy whom, by the stern decree of law, she

was never to see again.

Connor kissed her pale check and lips, and rained down a flood of bitter tears upon her face; and Una, borne away by the enthusiasm of her sorrow, threw her arms also around her, and wept aloud.

At length, after having, in some degree, eased her heart, she sat up, and with that consideration and good sense for which she had ever been remarkable, said

"Nature must have its way; an' surely, within rasou, it's not sintul, seein' that God himself has given us the feelin's of sorrow, whin thin that we love is lavin' us-lavin' us never, never to see them agin. It's only nature, afther all; and now, ma colleen dhas"

Her allusion to the final separation of those who love-or, in her own words, "to the feelin's of sorrow, whin thim we love is lavin' us"- was too much for the heart and affections of the fair girl at her side, whose grief now

passed all the bounds which her previous attempts at being firm had prescribed to it.

O'Donovan took the beloved one in his arms, and, in the long embrace which ensued, seldom were love and sorrow so singularly and mournfully blended.

"I don't want to prevent you from cryin', a colleen machree; for I know it will lighten an' aise your heart," said Honor; "but remimber your wakeness, and your poor health; an' Connor avourneen, don't you-if you love her don't forget the state her health's in


[ocr errors][merged small]


God sees my heart this day," she replied-and she spoke with difficulty

"that I could and would have travelled over the world; borne joy and sorrow, hardship and distress-good fortune and bad-all happily, if you had been by my side-if you had not been taken from me. Oh, Connor, Connor, you may well pity your Una-for your's I am and was-another's I will neverbe. You are entering into scenes that will relieve you by their novelty-that will force you to think of other things and of other persons than those you've left behind you; but I-oh, what can I look upon that will not fill my heart with despair and sorrow, by reminding you and of our affection?"

me of

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

keep your mind employed upon other thoughts-by degrees you'll forget no, I don't think you could altogether forget me-me-the first, Una, you ever loved."

"And the last, Connor-the last I ver will love."

66 No, no. In the presence of my lovin' mother, I say that you must not think that way. Time will pass, my own Una, an' you will yet be happy with some other. You're very young; an', as I said, time will wear me by degrees out of your mimory.'


Una broke hastily from his embrace, for she lay upon his breast all this time

"Do you think so, Connor O'Donovan?" she exclaimed; but on looking into his face, and reading the history of deep-seated sorrow which appeared there so legible, she again "fled to him and wept."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Oh, no," she continued, I cannot quarrel with you now; but the heart of your own Una injustice, if you think it could ever feel happiness with another. Already I have my mother's consent to enter a convent-and to enter a convent is my fixed determination."

[ocr errors]

Oh, mother," said Connor, "how will I lave this blessed girl? how will I part with her ?"

Honor rose up, and, by two or three simple words, disclosed more forcibly, more touchingly, than any direct exhibition of grief could have done, the inexpressible power of the misery she felt at this eternal separation from her only boy. She scized Una's two hands, and, kissing her lips, said, in tones of the most heart-rending pa


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

We're goin', Connor-we're lavin' Are n't you you-be firm—be a man. the ould man-an' never, never moremy son, Connor? my only son-an' kneel down-kneel down till I bless you. Oh, many, many a blessin' has risen from your mother's lips an' your mother's heart, to Heaven, for you, my son, my son !"

he kuclt not alone. By his side was Connor knelt, his heart bursting, but his own Una, with meek and bended head, awaiting for her mother's blessing.

She then poured forth that blessing: first upon him who was nearest to her but still beautiful girl, whose love for heart, and afterwards upon the worn,

that adored son had made her so inexuttered this fervent but sorrowful beWhilst she pressibly dear to her. head of each, after which she stooped nediction, a hand was placed upon the and kissed them both, but without shedding a single tear.

[ocr errors]

66 comes the mo

ther's wakeness; but my son will help Now," said she, me by his manliness-so will my daughther. I am very weak. Oh, what

heart can know the sufferin's of this hour, but mine? My son, my sonConnor O'Donovan, my son!"

At this moment John O'Brien entered the room; but the solemnity and pathos of her manner and voice hushed him so completely into silent attention, that it is probable she did not perceive him.


Let me put my arms about him an kiss his lips once more, an' then I'll Say farewell."

She again approached the boy, who opened his arms to receive her, and after having kissed him and looked into his face, said, "I will now go-[ will now go;" but instead of withdrawing, as she had intended, it was ob served that she pressed him more

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »