Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XI.

But I know what my own taste in female beauty is, and I will describe it. A woman five feet two inches high (without her shoes), half an inch more or less; plump, even when young, and prone to crum rather than crust as she increases in years; small-boned, small hands, and small nimble feet, and giving evident proofs that the fruit of her love is not, for want of an ample natural supply, to be banished to a hireling breast. Sprightly eyes, of I care not what colour ; features that speak; a voice at once feminine and firm, and a laugh that banishes melancholy from my abode.

Cobbett.

When young O'Hara retired to his chamber, he sought in vain the repose which the fatigue of his day's journey might have been expected to produce. An indistinct apprehension of danger is sometimes felt, although one cannot resolve it to any satisfactory cause ; and Henry endeavoured to banish uneasy feelings which threw a feverish restlessness over his slumbers. If for a moment he succeeded in composing

himself to sleep, dreams of Mahony and Alice More disturbed him, and he arose, to break the chain of sombre meditations, by looking on the placid scenery which lay before his window. The clock struck three, and to his surprise, voices not very distant stole on his ear; he listened anxiously, and from a glass-door which opened from the library upon the lawn, a man issued, carefully muffled in a dark cloak, and immediately the door was closed and bolted. The stranger stopped-looked around him for an instant, and seemed uncertain which path to strike into. After a moment's hesitation, he turned into a narrow walk which led çircuitously to the lake, and in a short time the faint sound of his retiring footsteps ceased to be heard. Henry hurried on his clothes, and taking his travelling pistols from the table, passed down to the library. All was perfectly silent, and he found no difficulty in passing through the same door which had given the stranger egress. A private turn through the shrubbery led by a neglected path directly to the water, and this he chose as likely to enable him to overtake the object of his curiosity. Nor was he deceived

narrow

for on reaching the termination of the walk, cautious footsteps announced that the unknown was approaching. "Concealed in the thick foliage of the Laurestinas, he perceived him issue into the moonlight, and after looking carefully round for an instant, he clapped his hands sharply—the signal was promptly answered by a small boat starting from a little inlet, and stopping at the bank to receive him. One man was in the skiff, and as Henry was about to start from his concealment and confront those mysterious persons, the well-known tones of the boatman (in whom he recognised Pat Mahony) arrested him. “ Well, Colonel, what the devil kept you-three long hours—and it is so confoundedly cold.” 6 Was all quiet since," said the stranger.

Still as the grave nothing astir but ghosts and water-fowl. Was all right at the castle?”

6 All,” said the stranger. - Young O'Hara detained me a full hour talking of his travels to the old one, and faith I thought the father would be so new-fangled with the story, as to keep me shivering in the closet till cockcrow. I got the despatches for the Directory, and you must land me as far up the lake as you can.”

" Come, then," replied the boatman, “ let us be moving ; if M‘Cullogh knew the precious freight and crew that occupy his boat to-night,” and he laughed heartily. “ Faugh! there's as much tawdry orange in the stern-sheets as in the Nassau Lodge on a making-night; only it may be useful again, by St. Peter I would stave it, although it cost me a long hour. Here, Colonel, here is a real Protestant oar for you, never contaminated by a Popish paw till now pull away, my hearty."

The boat shot away from the shore; in a few minutes it doubled a head-land, and Henry returned to the castle. On reaching the glassdoor, a light in his father's dressing-room-attracted his attention. This apartment opened immediately from the library, and was considered by the inmates of the house as the private chamber of O'Hara. When engaged here, no domestic presumed to enter, and the task of airing and arranging it was intrusted to his own personal attendant. Through the opening in the shutters Henry perceived that his father was not alone-there was another in the room, but owing to the confined aperture, the figure was but indistinctly seen; once he passed between him and the lights, and it struck him that he had seen the person before. At the moment, his father lifted a taper from the table, as about to retire, and he was obliged to pass hastily into the library. Before he reached his chamber, the noise of the locking of the door indicated that O'Hara had retired for the night.

Once more he threw himself upon a restless bed-fancy was too busy to let him sleep, and the suspicion long entertained was too true--his father was an United Irishman! Every circumstance confirmed it-the characters he had remembered as intimates at Castle Carra were notoriously inimical to the existing government, and would his father hold sentiments different from his associates ? No-he knew that the recollection of his military disgrace rankled deeply in his breast-his character as a soldier, and his popularity with the disaffected, would render him a desirable leader to head the existing conspiracy; the offer would be made, and

« ForrigeFortsæt »