« ForrigeFortsæt »
plate without suspicion. The Colonel was apparently engaged more in observing others than in taking an active part in what was passing: His keen, grey eye continually traversed the table, and occasionally he made written remarks on shreds of paper, which were pocketed without observation. Presently, he left his seat, and after whispering a few minutes to his neighbour, retired.
With a sinking heart, Henry viewed the as. sembled conspirators. Were these men the associates of his father and Lord Edward? And had they linked themselves in desperate enterprise with persons of suspicious character and broken fortunes? The conversation, which had been de sultory, suddenly ceased, and a person who was seated at the lower end of the table, and who, from his dress and appearance, seemed to be a Dissenting Minister, rose and spoke as follows:
" It appears from the returns of Ulster, that the cause of freedom goes on triumphantly. Our advices from our brethren in France are equally exhilarating the troops destined to assist us are on board, and the fleet awaits only. a favourable wind to start for our deliverance.
The sons of liberty watch for the signal to rise, and the star of despotism sinks for ever! In you, my Lord, Leinster has placed her hopes, and under your leading, her enlightened children shall strike for freedom. We have here assembled to name a chief for Ulster; and when we consider the immense force which this patriotic province has enrolled ; when we recollect that one hundred thousand armed men are, like the lion in his lair, prepared to put forth their overwhelming strength, doubtless, whosoever may be called to the high office of commander, will not be insensible of the deep responsibility attached to this most honourable appointment. We have turned our eyes unanimously to one" (and he glanced to the spot O'Hara occupied); “and one question answered, we proceed to nominate him to the chief command."
A dead silence succeeded the Minister's address; all turned their eyes in the same direction of the speaker's, while the object of their attention, after a moment's reflection, rose and addressed the conspirators
“ I have been, Gentlemen, already acquainted
with the intentions of the delegates of Ulster ; and, although it may appear to many of those that listen a matter of surprise, I shall at once declare, that if the offer of being named your leader is made to me, under the stipulations which, I believe, are contemplated, I shall reject it! No one, for the best years of his life, has followed the cause of reform more ardently, and may I add, more uprightly, than myself. No person has more reason to complain of insult and oppression than I. I have staked life and property without a murmur; and I have never refused to meet the wishes of
countrymen in any thing which their discretion demanded; but here, in this one point, I am immoveable. Personally, I will dare death on field or scaffold; when my country strikes for freedom; but an imperious sense of duty prevents me from attempting to influence my son. On the approaching crisis, doubtless he will not remain impassive to coming events; but never shall Henry O'Hara be perilled by his parent-never shall that brave life which was so freely exposed to shelter mine--never shall it be endangered by the counsel of his father.
I am ready to play the part a man should, and when the hour comes
• O'Hara shall see his son, living or dying, by his side!” exclaimed the listener, as he sprang from his concealment, and rushed to his father's fond embrace.
A wild shout of exultation burst from the assembled delegates. O'Hara was appointed, by acclamation, to the chief command, and Henry rose from his knees a United Irishman..
The moment of enthusiasm was soon over, and the youthful rebel thought of the occurrences of this eventful night with feelings of intense agony. The life and fortune of his father was in the balance, and he had plunged into the tide to save him or perish. To retire was now impossible, for O'Hara was the appointed leader of armed thousands. He thought of love, and Emily, and saw his dream of years of happiness dissolved by the events of a few short minutes but an hour since he picturedall that a glowing lover could fancy. How. rudely was the veil removed, how suddenly the. Visión melted into air; he had ceased to be a free agent-he was now the member of a mighty
body, he was now a sworn actor in the coming scenes of anarchy, confusion, and blood. In vain he swallowed deep draughts of wine-vain were the congratulations of the delegated Republicans, as they complimented their new as-> sociate; he saw them depart without almostnoticing their salute, and found himself alone, with his father and Lord Edward.
Fitzstephen rallied him on his visible depress; sion; and perceiving that his father was much affected, Henry made an effort, and succeeded, in rousing his spirits. The conversation was opportunely turned on his intended visit to the Metropolis, and Lord Edward hinted at the probability of himself soon visiting the capital. Morning was far advanced before they separated; and O'Hara telling his son that a new groom would accompany him on his journey, as he proposed riding to Dublin, (which, bythe-by, was then the common mode of travelling), embraced him, and bade him farewell.
Late as the hour was when Henry retired to his chamber, day had not long dawned when the Major's servant awakened him. He rose with an aching head; the scenes of the pre