Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

“ I have told you, holy father,” she said, from the sword, or a widow's cow from " that I am the unfortunate sister of the driving. I was glad when they the great Mac Seneschal. My father left me alone, even while I shuddered lived in a strong castle over Ďundon. to think of the work they went on. I ald ; you can see the hill from the could then forget the tumults and disdoor. May the Queen of Heaven tresses of a life of violence in the quiet pity me! Look which way I will, I lawns and woods about our own castle; behold nothing but the scenes of my for there we were far removed from shame or of my misery; for if I look danger, and friends were at band if up, there is the cave where Mac Gille danger had come nigh us.

I was more kept my brother Raymond till young, father; and worn as I am today his beard was grown over the collar of with hardship and suffering, I was then his hauberk; and if I look down, there not unworthy to be called the daughter are the fair hills of Ards and Castle of Margery Ghal Ni’ Niel; my heart reagh, where I once roamed through was new and eager, and I longed, as I the green woods and meadows, inno- roamed the green meadows, for some cent and happy, as I once was, and as one better able to share its fresh affecI am never to be again!" The lady tions than the maidens with whom I paused, and wiped away a tear; then, spent the idle mornings, wishing and with a heavy sigh, proceeded—“We wondering as we would sing the songs were two brothers and myself, and we of true lovers, or listen to the strange spent a happy childhood ; but my tales of ladies and their knights. Well, mother died while we were all young, father, one evening before sunset, as I and my father was slain in an ambush sat alone in a haunt that I loved dearly by the wild Irish, while my brothers -it was a mossy grotto in the bank of were still youths, and I a girl just a little stream that ran hard by the rising into womanhood. Raymond and bawn of the castle-I saw a strange Alan were unlike in character as in hunter coming down the glen with bis their looks. Raymond was open and dogs. He carried a bow and a hunt. fiery, but kind and tender-hearted; ing-spear, and had a sheaf of arrow's Alan, black as his own brow, proud, stuck in his belt, and his dogs were revengeful and turbulent. They had the goodliest I ever saw. But, father, both been wild hunters and rangers of he was himself, I thought, by far the the woods before my father's death; goodliest man I ever saw, and by my but when the kindred rose to avenge troth I think so still ; for, broken as his murder, they took to the wars as if he lies within, Mac Gillmore is still they had been bred to nothing but the best man of his name, and they blood and plunder. Fieree and terrible are the tallest kindred of men in warriors they grew, above all others of Ulster at this day. It was there I their age in Ulster. Many a creaght saw him first, father ; but we did not they plundered, many a strong castle speak that evening. He came back they broke and burned, while their again the next night and spoke to me, cheeks were yet beardless as my own. and I staid talking with himn till after All the Irish of Kilwarlin and Clane- sunset. I had no thought of harm in boy stood in terror of them ; for they what I did ; but I told no one when I scarce spent one day in twenty within came home, only hurried to my bed their own walls, but were almost con- and thought myself almost happy at stantly in the field, burning and prey- last. He came back again, evening ing. The kindred had been bold and after evening, and as often as he came warlike in my father's time; but under I was there to meet him. He told me Raymond and Alan they became quite he was of the clan Rory—and true it as fierce and cruel as the barbarous was, for his mother's people were of the clans they had to contend with. It used blood of Kilwarlin--and that he had to shock my soul to hear the tales of not been with his kindred since the slaughter and devastation which they month before, but was on a hunting would bring home with them from expedition, with ten comrades only, in their ravages. I would urge mercy on the woods. I asked no more ; for Rayinond, and sometimes for my sake whatever he told me I was satisfied he was merciful; but with Alan l with it. A happy life I had, until never yet prevailed to save a grey hair we parted for that time ; for he told

me one evening that he must follow Killileagh ; but it was Adam Gari the roe-deer into Dufferin, but promised Mac Gillmore, the old chief, his father, to come back in four days. I came who laid the ambush. The Seneschal home that evening with a sadder heart had hanged two of the kindred, who than I can tell you. But I was doomed were found hunting within his bounds, to have cause for worse trouble than and Adam was sworn by sun and wind the grief of a foolish girl longing after to revenge them. Three times they her lover's return. The kindred had came down with the whole strength of been abroad for twenty days, and they the clan, and thrice we beat them off : came back that very night. They had but, after the oath he had sworn, Adam been defeated in a great battle with Garv would not rest till he bad fulfilled the wild Irish, and had lost all their it. So, hearing by a spy that the Senesprisoners and a great prey of cattle at chal was gone to Carrickfergns to meet the fords. Raymond was wounded, his cousin, the prior of Muckamore, he and two of our fosterers killed, and laid an ambush of ten men in the wood Alan was wild with rage and grief. beyond the fords of Lagan, and after They were our old enemies, the clan lying in wait two nights and a day, Gillmore, that had set upon them ; accomplished his purpose. My father and, father, think what a story it was and his cousin were both slain by arrows for me to hear, when they told me as they rode at the head of their comthat Hugh Oge, the Gillmore's youngest pany; and so swift of foot were the son, who had headed his people in the Gillmores, that the mounted men at battle, had been twice seen hunting arms who guarded the seneschal, were within a mile of our castle only three unable to come up with them on the days before! Alan had heard it from broken ground ; so that Adam and his a ranger of the abbot of Bangor, who fosterers escaped. I had heard strange and had met him in his beat. He described dreadful reports of the Muintir Gillmore, him as he had seen him in the fight, as was natural among a family that had tall, dark, some three or four years his experienced such a loss at their hands. own elder, wearing a belt set with studs The two poor wretches whom my father of silver, and swift of foot as a red had first put to death, were said to have deer. Who had seen him ?- It was been no better than pagans, having died at the head of the glen the ranger said without once calling on either God or he met him. Who had been in the the saints; and it was now affirmed that glen of late ? Had I seen any stranger the whole clan were utter heathens. I there or in the wood ?-He questioned had never thought of the clan Gillmore me so fiercely that for a moment I without a shudder; I had fancied them thought he must have known all. But à race of such beings as I had heard of I denied it; I could not have confessed under the name of wild men of the it after what I heard, though it had woods; and, in truth, with regard to been known to all the clan; for I was the kindred at large, my fancy did not now sure that my lover was no other much deceive me ; but when I became than the young Mac Gillmore : and, certain that Hugh was of the clan, a father, I did not tell you at the time ;

; wonderful change came over my mind. but you will, I think, feel some com- Sore, sore I strove against it ; long I passion for me when I tell you now, strove to cherish horror where my that this kindred, this Muintir Gill- breast would admit love only; for more-I will tell you presently, horror of Hugh Oge my heart could when this choking in the throat not conceive. When I would try to leaves me :-they were the same paint him bloody, fierce, exulting over wild Irish of whom I told you; they my dead kinsman, as I thought that were the same clan who slew the duty should have shown him to my Seneschal. But, father, do not think eyes, I could see nothing but the picthat Hugh had any part in his death. ture of the beautiful, swift, eagle-eyed No ; bad as I am, you need not slud. young hunter : his eyes haunted me in der at the suspicion that I am wedded the dark ; his voice was sounding to my father's murderer! Oh, no! sweetly in my ears, though Alan should Hugh was then in Dufferin, preying be raging against our father's murderthe Whites under their own walls of erg at my side. Night and day I strug.

You may

gled, though from the first I felt that he could find a territory of his own love would triumph in the end; and at where we could live apart from his length love did triumph, and I found kindred, who were at feud with my myself on the evening of the fourth people? I could not have said 'yes' day watching for the swift footsteps of that evening, for all the wealth of Irehim whom I dare scarcely trust myself land ; I could only weep and pray for to think of on the first. The kindred happier times : but I promised to meet were again gone ; Raymond was re- him again; and when we parted, I felt covered, and had taken the field along more alone in the world than ever. I with his brother. I was once more had refused to listen to his entreaties alone, and I could resist no longer ; so that I would go to the woods with I had stolen out to the head of the him ; but when left alone, I did little glen; trembling at the prospect of see- else than imagine pictures of the sylvan ing my hopes fulfilled, yet satisfied that home he had promised me. all my former horror had been preju- be sure, father, that the woods were dice, and that all my present weakness always green, and the glades for ever was the work of charity. He came. sunny in my dreams. There was no Oh, father, I cannot describe that image there of leafless branches howlmeeting ! He was wounded and bleed- ing in the sleet, as I have heard them ing, his dress torn and disordered; for since, the length of many a dismal he had travelled since mid-day through night ; no thorny brakes, dripping with the wildest woods in Ulster. He had chill dews, were there ; no picture of been wounded, he said, at first in a dis- desert marshes, weltering in the noisome pute with the hunters of Kinalearty. vapours of summer, or of sedgy river Alas! he little thought what I knew banks cutting the bare feet with their when he said so. I was glad, father, sharp blades in December. I had that he was wounded, though Heaven little thought of the life I was to lead knows how willingly I would have then ; and yet, father, hard as my lot bome the pain for him; but I was glad has been, I have had such happiness to have the respite even of dressing as love could give ; and if I could but my lover's wound before I would have see those I love brought to a knowto tell bim that I knew him. I had ledge of holiness and peace, I would done ; but I could not say the word: be happier than many a lady who Mac Gillmore saw my distress ; he never walked the dew. Oh! on the cast himself at my feet, he told me he bare earth let me lie while I live, if I had deceived me, that be too had come could but see that blessed day !" to confess, but that his heart at first « Thou wilt see it yet, please God, had failed him also. I, too, confessed all; my daughter,” said the good FrancisI know not what I said, but I did not can : "but go on, I pray thee, with reproach him. He was full of joy and this strange story of thine." gratitude ; he told me that his kindred “ From what I have told you,” said were gone from the pastures they had the lady, "you will easily divine the occupied, and out of reach of our rest. Hugh's token came to me in arms; that they were satisfied with little more than a week after; and I the recovery of their herds, and would met him in the wood where we had prosecute the feud no farther, if allowed appointed. He told me he had left to remain in their new territory undis- the kindred for my sake ; that he had turbed. He told me, too, that he had found vacant pastures in Claneboy, spared Raymond's life, for my sake, at and built a hunting booth in a delightthe fords ; for that he had passed him fol valley for our home; that none but when he was down in the fray, and his two foster brothers and their wives bestowed the death-blow that might would be with us, and that all the have rid his kindred of their cruellestwood-rangers in Ulster might search enemy, upon another. He said he for ever without finding our retreat. must join his clan at their place of Horses were at hand, mantles and muster before daybreak, but that he disguises prepared ; and the priest, he would have a token left for me when told me, was waiting in the woods. I should expect his return. And then He wrapped me in a mantle, and I he asked me would I go to the woods was on horseback before him ere I with him, and be a hunter's bride, if well knew what I had done. I would

fain have had more time ; but Hugh with drawn weapons and savage threatsaid that my brothers were already on ening aspects. The Abbot was so their march homeward, and that if hoarse, from crying for assistance, that Alan were once returned I need never he could scarcely speak. He was hope to be allowed the chance of so indignant at his illtreatment, too, seeing him again. It was vain to that violent denunciations interrupted lament; and in all my shame, when I every sentence. Mac Gillmore's people thought of my uumaidenlike conduct, crowded round with looks of mirthful and amid all my real grief at leaving savage curiosity, as if they had never my home and kindred behind me, I seen a churchman before, or thought confess, father, that I was better satis- his office ridiculous. The abbot's fied in my heart than I would have threats were met with rude laugbter, been had Hugh yielded to my en- and, if he refused to proceed with the treaties, and left me as I prayed he directed service, blows forced him to would. We rode through the woods go on. In vain I wept and supplicated. till after midnight: what path we took In vain I would have said no,' while I knew not, but after we had travelled my heart, full of grief and abhorrence a long way, we saw a light before us as it was, said 'yes. The words were among the trees. Here there was a wrung from the reluctant churchman, party of wilder-looking men than I and an oath was forced from him at had ever seen before, about a great the dagger's point, that it was a true fire. They seemed to have had and binding marriage he had celebrated. as long a journey as ourselves, for Blessed be God, he did not know me! their horses, where they stood tied and I know not what name they gare to the trees around, were covered him for me. Had he known me then, with foam and reeking in the strong I would have died rather than borne fire-light. I thought he must be a his reproaches ; but he knew who I friendly priest who had ridden so hard was afterwards, as you shall hear, at that dead hour of night to such a father. I can talk of that scene now spot, on such a service. But I was with little emotion, for I have bebeld still more amazed to see that it was others since that leave it few horrors; not a mere priest that was awaiting us. but I was then long insensible after it I knew hiin by his robes to be a was completed, and when I returned diguitary of the church ; and, holy to consciousness again, the abbot and father, judge of my consternation when his fierce escort were gone, and I was on approaching nearer, I beheld the alone with my bridegroom. Father, Lord Abbot of Bangor, bareheaded, it is wonderful the power Mac Gillmore his dress torn, and his whole person has had over me from the first moment exhibiting signs of violence, and evi- he saw me to this day. My anger dently a prisoner. In reply to my could never last before his caresses, exclamations of horror and amazement and before his anger, thank God! Í Hugh told me we could not get a never bad to stand. The abbot had priest's services otherwise ; for that told me I was going among unchristened his people were under the displeasure pagans, and that the man I was marry. of the church, in consequence of the ing was a heathen, who had neither murder of the prior of Muckamore, God nor saint to pray to. I believed it and had to get such rites administered all to be the uatural invective of the as best they might, and that had latterly insulted churchman; not that Hugh been by strong hand only. It was ever told me he was a Christian, for I had then, for the first time, that I felt the never dreant that it would be necessary bitterness of real remorse. Oh, what to ask bim the question, but that the I would have given to have been back violence he had done the abbat was so with my brothers ! But it was too late great as to make it natural for that now. Hugh lifted me to the ground. enraged ecclesiastic to deny that he or There were women there who sup, his people could be such. In truth, ported me. The Abbot was dragged father, after the shock was over, I forward : Owen Gumach on one side, was too happy in my new home, which and a fusterer of Mac Gillmore, who we reached next night, to inquire was since slain, on the other ; both whether the abbot spoke truly or not.

It was in the pleasantest season of the had devolved. The remnant of the clan year, and we wanted for nothing that were to be with us that night, Hugh hearts contented in themselves could had scarce time to kiss his infant son wish for. We were in the fastest before he was again summoned away to country in Ireland: there was but one muster the little force of fighting men pass to it, and a single man could hold that remained, and make one last effort it against a hundred. Hugh spent his to recover some of their plundered mornings in the field, hunting and herds. Weak as I was, I rose and fishing: at night he played on the assisted in preparing the best reception harp, or sang to me, while his foster we could for the fugitives. I had brothers made their arrows, or prepared never seen any of my hu-band's kintheir fishing tackle. The wives of dred, save those who lived along with our fosterers were modest and kind- us, and the wild horsemen who had hearted, and as we were many a been present at my wedding. I now no day's journey from a church I never longer regarded them with abhorrence asked to attend one. In truth, fa- as the murderers of my father, I was ther, I forgot everything in the eager to alleviate their sufferings as the novelty of my situation. I no longer victims of my people's revenge ; so that remembered which was Sunday or I awaited their arrival anxiously ; but, which Monday; for all days of the father, when the multitude of mournyear were high festivals with us ; anders, children, women, and old men, if Hugh brought us game froin the who were henceforth to be my kindred, woods for twenty days together, I appeared toiling slowly up the hill excused his supposed forgetfulness by before our dwelling, I was in the first remembering that it could not but be bitterness of my disappointment, base long since one leading such a life as enough to reproach Hugh in my heart, his, could have received instructions for bringing me among such savage from his clergy. It was sinful, I know, beings. But their wild aspects soon thus to forget my duties in my happi- ceased to be the only cause of my shame, ness; but, father, it was thoughtless- and, I confess, of 'my renewed abhor

more than conscious neglect. rence, for, after they had pitched their Winter came, and our hunting booth booths, and secured the few goods was strengthened and enlarged; a they had been able to preserve, some bawn was raised about it, and the of the elder women came to my dwelkindred sent us a herd of fat cattle, Jing, to offer me such services as they with warm mantles and whatever else had in their power to bestow. My the season demanded. Winter passed infant was naturally the chief object as happily as summer, and my baby of their attention ; and they showed was born in the spring. But Hugh had such tenderness about him as won my been summoned away three days before. gratitude. It was kind and generous He had promised not to remain longer in those, who but a few minutes before than a single day, yet he did not had been bewailing their own dead, return for ten days after. Fears for to sing as they did to the child of one, him made me less anxious to have my whose people had been such bitter boy baptized than I would have been enemies to them. But while they were had he been with me. In truth, I nursing the infant, and trying to trace scarce thought of the infant's christen a likeness to his father on his little feaing in apprehensions for his father's tures, one of them asked me by what safety. At length he returned; but name I meant to call my son; and I will what a tale he had to tell me! The never forget the terror and sickness retreat of his people had been dis- that fell upon me, when, on my replycovered, and my brothers, with the ing that so soon as our present troubles church vassals of Bangor, Muckamore were over I hoped to get a priest, and and Carrickfergus, had spoiled them have him called for his father, she of their entire substance, burned their who had asked the question, looking dwellings, and put more than one half as if she did not understand me, reof their whole number to the sword. peated the words—“A priest, bantierna, Adam Mac Gillmore and his eldest and what would you please to do with son were amongst the slain, and on a priest ? ” Hugh the chieftainship of the kindred To baptize any child," I answered.

Vol. VI.

ness

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »