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son rushed in. His face, notwithstanding his rapid flight, was colourless; his eyes red, and glowing with a fiendish glare. “Mother," said he, extending his hand, "look there!”
The wretched woman gazed at the blood - stained fingers. “Oh, James, for the love of God tell me what you were doing!"
“ That's blood, mother,” answered he with frightful calmness; “the blood of an innocent man: it was you made me shed it, and on your soul be the guilt.” He then rushed from the house, and ran wildly up the mountains, where Daniel had already found a place of concealment.
Of course the fearful hue-and-cry of murder was soon raised, and notice sent to the nearest police station : but the faction of the Cronins was numerous and powerful, and in those days the arrest of a criminal in the remote parts of Ireland was almost impracticable. It was, and indeed is still, a point of honour among the peasantry never to deliver up a man to justice, even though he may have been guilty of the most atrocious crimes. That this point of honour rests on a false foundation, every lover of his country must grievously lament. The officious disclosure of circumstances of little moment may be neither honourable nor justifiable, but the concealment of murderers, of men who have outraged not only the law, but every just and holy feeling, is, to say the least of it, dishonourable—a crime too despicable to deserve any degree of sympathy. Yet, with feelings warped by prejudices of various kinds, the Irish, as we have said, give no aid in bringing malefactors to justice. In the present instance, notwithstanding the reward offered by government, and the vengeful watchfulness of the M'Carthys, the murderer remained for several weeks undiscovered in the wild mountain fastnesses, being fed, lodged, and concealed by the farmers who inhabited these remote regions.
Who may attempt to picture the state of his mind during this period ? He passed from the extreme of wild fiendish rage to the dull apathy of despair. This again gave way to a sense-oh, how keen and thrilling !-that all was lost. There he stood, a murderer! his hand dyed in the blood of those who had never wronged him. And when he thought of Ellen, " Oh, my sister; my own darling sister!” he would say, “ bright were your eyes, and glad was your heart, till the dark cloud of sorrow came over you. 'Twas I' that tuk him from you, that loved you better than his life; and now you're down in the dust, aileen, never to lift your eyes again to the face that was brighter to you than the sun, and more gentle than the moonbames on the river. Oh that I could buy back his life with my own; but this world and the next are shut up from me in darkness for ever!”
This mental conflict did not last long. The unhappy man one day set off for the nearest town, in order to surrender himself to justice, and while on the way, was suddenly surprised and seized by the officers of police, who were in quest of him. For a mo
ment the instinct of self-preservation led him to make a show of defence, but all regular determination to oppose the demands of the law was gone; and the feeling, that whatever should befall him, could not be worse than the fearful remorse in which he was plunged, caused him speedily to submit to his fate. He was lodged in the county jail, and in due time brought to trial. He made no defence, confessed his crime, and sought no mercy. The fearful sentence of the law was passed on him, and he was remanded to his cell. During his imprisonment, and now in the brief interval that remained until the fatal day, he was constantly visited by the prison chaplain, and the priest of his own parish, a kind good old man, who had known him from his childhood. He remained apparently unmoved by their pious admonitions, always saying there was no hope for him either in this world or the next. On the morning of his execution, as he was leaving the cell, he turned to his old friend and said, “Tell my mother I forgive her; and may she and my Maker forgive me!”
These were the last words he uttered. In a few moments the young and stately form of James Cronin lay a distorted and dishonoured corpse. Fearfully had the soul it enshrined been warped by unwitting error: fearfully was that error avenged.
VIII. We return to the unfortunate mother whose mistaken preference and indulgence had led to such a dismal domestic tragedy. On the day of her last interview with her son she fell into a state of stupor, which was followed by a raging fever. From this she slowly recovered ; but her reason was fled for ever. After a time, as she was perfectly harmless, though impatient of restraint, the person who was appointed to take care of her allowed her to wander at will through the country. Nothing seemed to agitate her save the sight of a red cow. At this she would stop, and say with a shudder, “Oh! don't you see she's stained with blood, and all the water in the sea can't wash out that colour?"
And Ellen-what of her? There are woes over which, like the artist of old, we must draw a veil. They are too deep for utterance, too sacred for description. From the day of her husband's death she never looked up, nor smiled; she languished like a wounded bird, the vigour of her young life struggling against the arrow whose death-thrust was in her heart. At length, on the day that the tidings of her brother's execution reached Inchigulah, she expired, rejoicing in the hope of meeting her beloved husband in that world where no sin nor sorrow can enter.
Daniel continued for a time to wander about the country; but as no active exertions were used to bring him to trial, he ventured to return to the farm, which had now become his. We may mention that the late tragic events, in which he had been a guilty participator, seemed to have wrought a favourable change in his character. He watched tenderly over his mother while she lived; and after her death, he married the daughter of a neighbouring farmer, and led a quiet domestic life. He still survives; but it seems as if an evil destiny dogged his footsteps. Nothing appears to thrive with him; no doubt from the spiritless manner in which he conducts his affairs. His property has thus dwindled away, so that he now possesses only one or two fields, and supports his family by daily labour. I have often seen him; and without knowing his history, even a casual observer would remark the settled dejection and spiritless expression of his countenance.
One fine summer evening, about a year after the events we have narrated, a group had assembled at the door of Mr Dogherty the schoolmaster, consisting of several farmers and Dr Handley, then verging on eighty years. While they smoked their pipes, and talked over the politics of the country, the Widow Cronin passed by. Her hair had become perfectly white, and her eye was lighted up with a restless fire which nothing but the hand of death could extinguish. She walked quickly by, looking vacantly at her old acquaintances, but not seeming to recognise any of them. “ Poor woman!” said the old doctor when she was gone, “ sorely you supped the cup of sorrow. You had two as fine lads as ever brightened a mother's eye or gladdened her heart. 'Twas a good soil to work on, but sadly 'twas misused. You thought to reap whate where you sowed nothing but hemlock !”
This, in its chief incidents, is an "owre true tale.” The records of the county Cork prison contain the memorial of James Cronin's crime and execution; and it was from an old man in the country, who was present at the trial, that I lately heard the fatal history.
THE HOMES OF ENGLAND.
How beautiful they stand!
O'er all the pleasant land.
Through shade and sunny gleam,
Of some rejoicing stream..
Around their hearths by night,
Or childhood's tale is told,
Some glorious page of old.
How softly on their bowers
That breathes from Sabbath hours !
Floats through their woods at morn;
Of breeze and leaf are born.
The cottage homes of England !
By thousands on her plains,
And round the hamlet-fanes.
Each from its nook of leaves,
As the bird beneath their eaves.
The free, fair homes of England!
Long, long in hut and hall
To guard each hallowed wall !
And bright the flowery sod,
Its country and its God! -MRS HEMANS.
MY ISLAND HOME.
My island home! I love thee well,
Despite thy rugged shore:
Fled to return no more.
Of sorrows, scarce less dear;
Affliction's balmy tear.
Despite thy barren plains :
While memory remains.
Yet not for aught below
Though early tinged by wo.
Despite thy cloudy skies;
What varied thoughts arise!
Thy ocean's circling foam
They speak of peace and home.