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locks by way of obeisance; old Shane laid hold on the stirrup ; and the impatient sisters seemed disposed to drag their prize from his seat, before he could well dismount. Bryan had a kiss, and a smile, and a tear too for each, with many a kind word to old Shane, as he hobbled after the youthful trio, to the presence of two more expectants; a smiling mother and a grandame, whose feelings were too deep to find vent in many words, as she embraced and blessed the sole representative of her slaughtered line.
But why attempt to describe the most indescribable of all things—an Irish welcome, bestowed on one around whom a cluster of Irish hearts entwined their fondest affections ?
Amid the interesting group now assembled, a stranger's eye would have involuntary rested on the form and features of the venerable parent. Both were strikingly noble, nor had the pressure of near threescore years and ten diminished the sparkling intelligence of the face, or bowed perceptibly the stately figure of the old lady. Highly intellectual, and marked with decision of character, her countenance yet bespoke a meek benevolence which endeared what had otherwise been too commanding to inspire affection; and there were traits of long and patient endurance, sufficient to show that a cross had indeed been borne by her, whose whole deportment told a tale of pious resignation.
She was the daughter of the princely race of O'Neill, brought, in childhood, by a chain of providential circumstances, under the influence of truly Christian advisers. Thus her mind became early and deeply imbued with doubts and apprehensions as to the soundness of her hereditary religion. Pursuing in secret the enquiry, she had made a tacit renunciation of its errors ; convinced by the mere force of reason, and such arguments as came within her reach. At an early age she had become attached to Colonel M‘Alister, a Protestant of rank and influence, whom she married, much to the chagrin of her own bigoted kindred, and resided with his family until the dreadful massacre of 1641 cut off many of them, and sent most of the survivors broken hearted to an untimely grave.
Through many calamities, and bitter reverses of fortune, she had been brought to such a thorough self-acquaintance as laid her low at the foot of the Redeemer's cross ; and rendered her a meet guide for the children of her only son, who, with their widowed mother, dwelt in this secluded nook of their native Donegal, subsisting on the wreck of a fortune once most abundant. Letitia and Ellen, the latter of whom was scarcely past the age of childhood, furnished sufficient employment for those whom they fondly designated their two mothers; but Shane distinguished the younger widow as “ the mistress," and the elder as “the Lady of M‘Alister,"
by which title she was generally known and spoken of, throughout the narrow circle of their rustic acquaintance.
Shane O'Connogher was a genuine Irishman, from the western province, bred to arms from his infancy, and most devotedly attached to the master, whose steps he had faithfully followed. The same partial affection that led him, as a young lad, to separate from the Romish communion, and to embrace nominally the faith of his benefactor, inspired him with unspeakable horror and detestation of all belonging to that party by whom the cruel murder was perpetrated. Shane was, in truth, a devotee to his political creed ; and in universal indiscriminate 'hatred of all who differed from him, he could not be outdone by any partizan of any cause whatsoever. His ardent fidelity was so appreciated by all the wrecks of M‘Alister's house, that it secured to him immunities and privileges, approaching rather to the station of a friend than that of a domestic.
Bryan had now been settled for two years with his master; and his steady application to business had won many kind approvals, with frequent permission to visit the cottagers in the glen. To them his approach was ever as the returning spring after the clouds of winter ; so dearly, so exclusively, was he beloved in that retired nook. The object of his present excursion, however, was one of more serious import than any that had preceded it ; and he lost no time in making known to the wondering little circle that surrounded the evening fire, his wish to accomplish their removal to the town of Derry.
At Bryan's earnest request, Shane was now summoned ; and be, delighted to find the restraint taken off, gave full vent to a large collection of anecdotes and inferences, bearing on the subject under debate ; of which, if some provoked a smile by their extravagant improbability, others were calculated to excite serious alarm. He concluded by advising Bryan to make a short tour through the neighbouring vallies, and to judge from the result of his own enquiries.
His suggestion was adopted ; and it was ascertained beyond dispute that preparations of a most threatening description were on foot, among
the more fierce and lawless of the peasantry. Language was uttered from the altar and the pulpit, that could admit of but one interpretation; and instances were not wanting where the Priest had added to his harangues the encouragement of his personal assistance in collecting, marshalling, and exercising his flock, as for military service. In corroboration of all this, a letter followed Bryan from Derry, with farther intelligence of a similar purport, collected from other quarters ; and the friendly head of his establishment urged an immediate removal of the family to Derry ; proffering the use of a small house, in a retired part of the town, where, if obscurity were their object, they might remain almost as much out of the busy world as in their present retreat. These concurrent circumstances satisfied the Lady of M‘Alister, that to reject such an interposition would be indeed presumptuous : and as her decisions gave law to the whole household, immediate preparations were engaged in for a hasty removal, which was accomplished without much difficulty.
It will not be doubted that the progressive advance of James II. towards a re-establishment of Popery had excited in her mind the most acute and painful interest, while a just view of what the Scrip tures inculcate of submission to constituted authori. ties, taught her to shrink from the prospect of popular insurrection on the part of the aggrieved Protestants. The act of abdication, therefore, by which the monarch subsequently vacated his throne, she hailed as a most providential interposition; the very name of William of Nassau sounding in her ears a tale of hope and joy. Beneath her calm deportment, there lay concealed an anxiety the most intense ; and while her thoughts pursued, with eagle glance, the relative position of the contending parties throughout the British Isles, that little spot to which the family had been recently removed, acquired an importance abundantly verified by the sequel. She doubted not but that a perilous fermentation pervaded the Scottish clans, and that to secure a northern point of rapid communication between that country and Ireland, such as the port of Derry