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woman, possessing undisciplined passions and affections; wishing to rule her sons, and finding herself without either physical or moral power to effect it. She therefore, as wiser politicians have done before her, tried to establish a balance of power, shifting the scale as the hasty fancy or irritated feeling of the moment might chance to dictate. But a plan which may answer indifferently well in the government of a nation, is often destructive when applied to the regulation of a family, and so it proved in this instance. Did Daniel offend his mother by betting at a horse-race, and losing his money, she would threaten to make his brother's share of the farm, at her death, treble his; did James spend the night at a wake or pattern, and return towards morning intoxicated, she would promise to make a settlement on Daniel, whenever he chose to marry, and leave her eldest son unprovided for.
În the commencement of our narrative we mentioned a boy named John M'Carthy, who good-naturedly protected Ellen from Dan's unkindness. This lad, now become a fine stout young farmer, possessing some acres of good land, did not lose sight of his former little playfellow. It is not my object to write a love story: indeed, as the man said when asked if he could play the organ, “I don't know whether I could do it, for I never tried." It will therefore suffice to mention that a strong attachment had sprung up between them; and as soon as Ellen attained the age of eighteen years (an uncommonly advanced period of life for a pretty Irish peasant girl to remain unmarried), John, with his parents' entire approbation, sought her for his wife. Mrs Cronin at first demurred. It would be necessary to give her daughter a portion, and she did not like to diminish her stock, now consisting of six cows. She told her proposed son-in-law that she would take a night to consider, and give him an answer in the morning.
That evening, when James and Dan came in from work, they found the house neatly swept up, a bright turf fire blazing on the open hearth, and their supper of potatoes and salt fish ready and smoking hot. As soon as they entered, Ellen went out to milk the cows, and their mother drawing her seat near the fire, began- Why, thin, boys, you wouldn't guess who was here to-day?"
"Maybe 'twas the tithe-proctor, bad luck to him ?”
"No, Jim, it wasn't the tithe-proctor, but a dacenter boy than ever he was.
What do you think of young John M'Carthy?” engage, then, he wanted to buy them three sheep I got Iast Candlemas, but the never a one of 'em will he get till I see what price they'll bring at the fair.”
"Tisn't them sheep he wants at all, but the nicest and purtiest lamb in the flock: he came to ax me would I give him your sister to be his wife.”
“She might get a worse husband than Sham Age, there's no
doubt of that,” said James; "and I suppose the boy wont be looking for fortune, he's so well to do in the world ?"
“ As to that,” said the mother, “I think I ought to give her three cows, half-a-dozen sheep, and a couple of feather-beds."
“ Are you mad, mother?" was her son's energetic rejoinder ; " that would be the purty bargain in airnest! To lave us all depinding on the other three cows to make our butter, while Miss Ellen is sitting like a lady in John M‘Carthy's parlour; for no less would do him in the new house he built."
“ Foolishness, boy. Ellen was ever and always the good daughter to me, and I'll give her what I plase, and as much as I plase. Maybe you and Dan will be sorry yet that you didn't thry to contint me better than
do." James returned a violent answer, and the dispute waxed very warm. It ended in the sons' going sulkily to bed, while their mother persisted in her intention, and threatened to give an additional gratuity of twenty pounds. Mrs Cronin was really piqued into acting thus, for her disposition was far removed from liberality; but she enriched her daughter in order to vex her rebellious sons.
After a reasonable delay, John and Ellen were married, and removed to a comfortable farm, which he had lately taken in conjunction with his brother, who was to live with them. Here, in the society of a husband whose sunny temper and cheerful countenance knew no sullen cloud, Ellen enjoyed such happiness as she had never yet known. Her young heart and mind seemed to expand and brighten beneath the influence of domestic kindness; and there was not a prouder or happier wife than herself in the whole parish of Inchigulah, when she put on her lace-cap with pink ribbons, and her finé dark-blue cloth cloak on Sunday, and accompanied her husband to chapel.
Mrs Cronin was a provident woman, and from her savings she soon contrived to replace the three cows which she had given to Ellen. Among her stock there was one red cow, a very, fine animal, which yielded an immense quantity of milk, and was quite an object of admiration in the country. James had long wished to possess it for his own, and frequently importuned his mother to give it to him. This, however, she constantly refused. She had been left by her husband sole possessor of his farm, having power to divide it among her children during her life, or to will it to them after her death, in whatever shares or proportions she pleased. She was most tenacious of her property, and, generally speaking, could with difficulty be induced to part with any of her stock. This cow, however, was employed as a powerful assistant in controlling the domestic economy. If the mother was pleased with James, she held out vague and uncertain
promises that the animal should be his; did he displease her, he was told that Tiney should be forthwith presented to Daniel; or, were both brothers defaulters, she was to be driven to the next fair, and sold for whatever she would bring; till at length the poor innocent cow had become the cause of more envy and heartburnings than the sacrifice of a hecatomb of oxen could in ancient days have appeased.
At length James contrived to extract from his mother a definite promise that from the 1st of the approaching month of June the coveted animal should be his; and all the profits derived from her were thenceforth to be appropriated to his sole use and benefit.
About the middle of May a great horse-race was to come off in the neighbourhood, and Mrs Cronin, knowing that much gambling and cheating would be likely to go on, peremptorily forbade her sons going there. They both, however, disobeyed; and going to the race-course, not only betted and played away all the little money they could collect, but James staked the precious promised cow,
and lost her. When their mother found they had gone in defiance of her positive injunctions, her rage knew no bounds ; she stormed and raved aloud against her rebellious children. In the midst of her invectives her son-in-law, who was coming to pay her a visit, walked into the house.
“ Good morning, ma'am," he said ; "I thought I heard you talking to some one as I was lifting the latch, but I see you're all alone."
“ Oh, thin! thrue for you, John; I am all alone, and cold and lonely is my heart this day afther the tratement of them ungrateful boys that I tuk such care of, and such pride out of. The villains of the world! to go off agin my orders; but I'll pay them for it yet."
John, who was a most amiable, good-natured young man, and a great favourite with his mother-in-law, tried to soothe her and calm her
anger; and to all appearance he succeeded. She talked quietly of Ellen, and asked many questions concerning the welfare of their household; but the bitter feeling still rankled in her bosom, and her thoughts were brooding over the undutiful conduct of her sons. After some time John rose to depart, and Mrs Cronin followed him a few steps from the door. “And so you tell me," said she, “that Ellen is well in health, and happy, and content with everything about her. God keep her so; she was ever and always a good daughter to me; and now, Sham, darling, I'll send her a urty little present, that maybe you wont see the likes of agin in a hurry.” Só saying, she led him into the field where Tiney was feeding, and desired him to drive her home at once, and give her to Ellen with her mother's love and blessing.
John was as much pleased as surprised at his mother-in-law's unwonted generosity; and knowing nothing of the cow having been promised to James, felt of course no scruple in taking her. He accordingly drove her home, thinking, as he
went along, what a pleasant surprise it would be to his dear Ellen. Tiney was indeed greatly admired by her new mistress, who had often fed her when a calf; and John's brother pronounced her to be “a rale beauty, worth almost any money!'
My readers may perhaps imagine the miserable state of James's mind when he returned that evening to his mother's house. His conscience told him that he had been guilty of a great sin in disobeying his parent, and his selfish feelings reproached him with having thrown away every farthing he possessed; and last, and worst of all, he knew that, on the 1st of June, he would have to part with his cow, or ransom her with a sum which he had no means of raising. He walked into the cottage, and sat down by the fire without uttering a word. His mother, who, now that her passion had in some measure cooled, felt rather apprehensive of the storm so soon to be awakened in his breast, was equally taciturn. Daniel had remained outside, to attend to the horse which they had ridden in turn, and there was no one else withia doors.
Presently the girl entered with a pail of milk. Arrah, misthress," said she, “I felt as quare and as lonely to-night without having poor Tiney to milk; and see yerself, the milk looks nothing since hers is taken out of it.”
“ Tiney!” said James; “ what's the matter with her ?"
“Ah, you may go whistle for Tiney!” said his mother; "I gave her to-day to a boy that's worth ten of you, and that I heartily wish was my son in your stead."
“ Mother!” said James, clenching his fist furiously, “ you wouldn't dare do it!"
It would be needless and painful to dwell on the scene that followed. Dan having come in, joined in the war of words; and at length the wearied and enraged mother retired to bed, and her sons, breathing curses and threats, also sought their place of repose. Dan, who had not so much cause for excitement, and who, besides, was of a more apathetic disposition than James, slept soundly; but his brother did not close his eyes all night, and at four o'clock in the morning he awoke Daniel. In pursuance of a plan which they had concerted on the previous evening, they dressed themselves quickly, and stole noiselessly out of doors. They each carried a gun, and walked along rapidly for some time in silence. At length Daniel, looking earnestly at the inflamed features and bloodshot eyes of his brother, said, “ Jim, what are you going to do at all at all ?"
“ I'm going to make that sneaking spalpeen give me up my fine cow, that he wheedled that foolish ould woman out of."
“And what'll we do if he wont give her up paceably?" “Maybe I have a thrifle of logic here that'll persuade him,"
said James, touching the lock of his gun significantly. “ Them M'Carthys never had much pluck in them.'
On they walked, but the fresh morning breeze and glorious sunshine, which awakened all living things, and summoned them to joyous activity, had no soothing or softening influence on a heart consumed by its own restless fire. After a walk of six miles, the brothers arrived at M'Carthy's farm, and in a meadow at some distance from the house they saw Tiney quietly grazing.
“ Now for it, Dan,” said James; “We'll drive her off, and let me see if one of the M'Carthys dare touch her agin.” So saying, he proceeded to throw down the gap which had been built up to prevent the cattle in the field from straying beyond its precincts. At this moment John and his brother appeared advancing towards him.
“Good morning, Jim," said the former ; "you're out early to-day.”
“ Not a bit too early to disappoint thieves and robbers,” was the courteous rejoinder. “Ho! you thought you'd have my
fine cow all to yerself; but 'twas aisy wid ye, my boy. I'm come to take her back, and the never a hair of her will you see agin, if 'twas to save yer life.”
James, I don't understand all this. Your mother gave me the cow freely, without me ever axing her, many thanks to her for that same; and I wont have her taken back by you on a suddent without rhyme or rason.”.
“ You wont, wont you ?” said James; "see if you dare prevint me.” And he immediately proceeded to drive the animal out of the field.
John ran to intercept him, and stood in the gap, at the same time saying quietly, “Now, Jim, leave off this nonsense : you know I don't want to fight with you, but the cow shan't leave this field to-day.". In a transport of passion James raised his gun, fired it with deadly aim, and down fell the stout and manly youth before him a bleeding corpse at his feet. The wretched murderer and Daniel, when they saw what was done, began to fly with speed; but the victim's brother, uttering a loud cry of horror, ran to lay hold on James. The latter, as if possessed by a demon, seized Daniel's gun and fired at his pursuer. He, too, fell mortally wounded. James stopped for a moment, raised him up, placed him with his head leaning against a tree, and then, with such a yell as might have resounded through earth's primeval valley when Cain stood a convicted and sentenced criminal before his Righteous Judge, the guilty being and his brother fled.
VII. In less than an hour afterwards the Widow Cronin was standing in her house preparing the morning meal, when her eldest