« ForrigeFortsæt »
goon having soon after picked it up, conveyed it promptly to its destination.
O'Hara was not wrong when, in his extremity, he called on Thornton for assistance, and yet he little knew what severe pain his request would occasion.
William Thornton was a man of no common character ;-he was the last descendant of an ancient name. His father, from very humble means, had realized a moderate independence, and died, leaving a competent income to his widow and son.
Thornton passed through College unnoticed; the course of University reading was unsuited to his taste, and a strong military turn unfitted him from entering into any of the more peaceable professions. His mother discovered his martial inclinations ;-he was her only child, and she idolized him. It may be easily conjectured how distressing to her was this disclosure -she did not speak, but her pale cheek and streaming eyes told too well her feelings. William loved his mother fondly; he saw that to leave her would break her heart, and with generous affection, resolved to sacrifice his
wishes to her happiness, and bury his disappointed hopes in his own breast,
The country became more disturbed, and Thornton's character proportionably developed itself. His politics were ultra-loyalism, and one of his turn came forward prominently in the commotions of those distracted times. His manners were open and impetuous; his opinions generally correct, and always decisive--candid almost to rudeness; and always ready, like many of his countrymen, to appeal to that worst of arguments, the pistol. Sometimes he affected great plainness, and at others extreme singularity of dress; and fond to excess of horses and dogs, he seemed to devote himself to field-sports, while attachment to society made him the last to leave the table. The world, therefore, set him down for an idle, thoughtless, honourable man, whose sole ambition was to lead a life of careless and rural enjoyment.
But the world erred in their opinion of William Thornton. It knew nothing of his private hours and secret feelings. He sighed for military fame, his heart panted for martial honours.
He felt himself destined for a soldier, with a mind no peril could distract-a heart no danger could appal. But while his mother, whose health was precarious, lived, he knew his dreams of glory must rest in abeyance. He submitted, however, to “ hope deferred,” without a murmur, and amused the tedium of unoccupied life in light and elegant reading, while his musical talents, lively fancy, and cheerful temper, enabled him to pass his time in a manner very different from what the crowd supposed.
A circumstance, however, occurred, which no longer suffered this quiet course of being to continue waveless and unrippled. Thornton had affected a distaste for female society in general, and the country misses rated him a heartless man--a kind of block hewn out by nature to exist in selfish singleness. It was not to insensibility that he owed his freedom from the thraldom of love. In fancy he had created a woman for himself, and as yet he had never met an object in which the imaginary qualities of this being were embodied. Political accordance of opinion introduced him to Lord Loftus, who justly estimating his value as a bold and
useful ally, brought him to Loftus Hall, and made him intimate with his family. Lady Constantia soon discovered that William's was a mind of no ordinary mould ; his bold and daring character struck her as uncommon; and, as the softer sex always admire bravery in man, she respected him for what, in Ireland, is reckoned the first of manly virtues. But there was a latent cause which influenced her in her attention to Thornton :-he had, from infancy, been the bosom friend of O'Hara, and to hear the brave praise another, and that other the cherished idol of her heart, was delightful to the fond girl. Poor William incautiously indulged in this dangerous communion ; he saw that she was beautiful, he heard that she was haughty ; her kindness and condescension to him were mistaken, for he little suspected that another was the cause, nor did he dream of danger until he found his heart irrevocably gone. With such dispositions as his, to love moderately was impossible, and his ardent temper encouraged him to hope to surmount insuperable difficulties, which to a less sanguine person would have been at once apparent, and would have
been accordingly abandoned in despair. What must have been his anguish, when he discovered that the being whom he idolized was devotedly attached to another? It was a dreadful trial, and Thornton required more resolution than he could command to conquer his hopeless passion. He did, however, manage to conceal it from the world; and as the secret of Lady Constantia's visit to Castle Carra was unknown to any but himself, the true state of her heart remained unsuspected.
To find Alice More was not difficult, for with the unsparing severity with which “ the bigots of the iron times" followed the friends of the disaffected, the Yeomanry of M-Cullogh had burned her cottage to the ground, desolated her little garden, and dragged the wretched owner to the Prevost, where numbers of both sexes were kept in indiscriminate confinement. On arriving at the prison, Thornton, finding that Alice had been just liberated by order of Lord Loftus, followed her to the house the family occupied in the town (for they had left their residence of Loftus Hall, and for greater security removed into Newbridge). He was in