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fierce, and restless, their very look was a menace; and the regular troops were mingled with such a motley crowd as gave them the aspect of a promiscuous banditti, while the impatient gestures and sbouts of their followers, accompanied by an immense number of young boys, exactly answering to Ross's description, imparted a character more dreadful than could have attached to a regular army of military besiegers. The object of their cries the intent with which those weapons flashed in the sun-beam-was but too little questionable ; and maddening were the thoughts that crowded upon those whose domestic circles were threatened by a visitation so horrible.
Our youths found themselves surrounded by a number of lads and young men, apprenticed to the different merchants and tradesmen; these eagerly greeted their arrival, and pointed to the opposite side.
“ It cannot be-it shall not be,” cried Bryan: By timely resistance we may avoid the effusion of blood. Admit those forces and our houses will be deluged in the gore of their inmates."
“ To the gates, boys !” shouted several voices ; and the mob re-echoed the words.
The deputy-mayor hastily approached, and demanded that the cry should be silenced.
“ Never mind him, boys,” said Ross: he's in the pay of the old Papist. Sheriff Kennedy tells us another story."
The courteous reception given to the officers, and the manifest determination of some among the leading men to admit their followers, increased the irritation of the apprentices; nor was this mitigated when they perceived the foremost of the two companies already in the act of crossing the river, to force admittance,
“Now, or never !” was ejaculated by the agitated lookers on.
Bryan's mind was in a tumult of opposing princiciples, and harassing doubts; how far they should be justified in resisting what would soon become an overwhelming force, and thus increasing the certainty of slaughter, was a matter of severe perplexity to him. But then, the firm conviction that their city was formed to be the earthly bulwark of a righteous cause, an assurance that there was no restraint with the Lord, to save by many or by few, and the evident fact that butchery would be retarded, if not altogether averted, by a
so purely defensive, all wrought with him to obey the impulse of strong natural feeling. One fervent ejaculation he breathed to the Helper of the oppressed, and then raising his yoice to its utmost pitch, cried out “For our altars and our homes ! To the Guardhouse, boys! Seize the keys !” and away they started.
Some severe struggling took place, before the keys were wrested from those who had them in charge; but the rapid approach of the soldiers, to
within three hundred yards of the gate, nerved every arm among the youthful band of resolute defenders with supernatural strength. The scuffle was quickly over, the keys were won; and with the rapidity of hounds in full chace, the boys rushed to the ferrygate, the drawbridge of which they instantaneously drew up; and as the massive gates swang heavily forward, and the coarse key grated harshly upon its wards, it told that the deed was done ; a deed to which, under the all-directing power of the Most High, may doubtless, in some measure, be traced the blessings that for one hundred and forty years crowned our country. A deed achieved by unarmed boys, baffling the wily counsels of kings, impeding the progress of victorious armies, setting at nought the exterminating thunders of vindictive Rome, and proving by what seemingly inefficient means the Lord of Hosts wills to accomplish the dictates of Almighty wisdom.
At the moment when the ferry-gate was closed, Lord Antrim's myrmidons had approached within sixty yards of its portal. The other city gates were next secured and guarded by the enthusiastic spirit of those who volunteered for the duty. The hand of Bryan had been conspicuously active in assisting to perform all that his voice counselled ; and he now led back his exulting comrades to the market place : whence, after a vain attempt on the part of the Deputy Mayor to induce a reception of the enemy, they again sallied to repel a meditated movement, by which their exploit would have been rendered unavailing, and the gates thrown open. Popular feeling was now too strongly excited on their behalf to leave any doubt of the general resolution to defend the city, and the threat of bringing a piece of ordnance to bear on the intruders, sent them in disorder back to their companions ; leaving the town to the guardian protection of her devoted young apprentices.
During the whole of this tumultuous scene, old Shane had endeavoured to keep Bryan in his view; but the tottering limbs of the veteran were unequal to the task. Indeed, the celerity of the young man's movements was such, that to Shane's vision he appeared as a flash of lightning, or rather a succession of flashes, darting along various points of the horizon. However, the powerful tones of his voice, continually rising above others, as he shouted forth the words of direction and encouragement, were faithfully echoed by Shane, whose inmost soul revelled in the luxury of what he considered the first act of vengeance wrought on the part of an injured family. At length he bethought himself of the terrified and anxious females, to whose abode the uproar must have penetrated ; and he hobbled away from the scene of action, to place before them a glowing picture of Bryan's achievements. “The raal M‘Alister; the true blood of him that was now revenged.”
It was late at night before the youth could snatch an hour to satisfy his family that he was unhurt. The highest animation played upon his features, and enlivened every gesture, as he explained the events of that memorable day: and the Lady of M‘Alister never sate more erect in native dignity than while she listened to his accents, and marked the strong traits of a character endeared by cherished remembrances. Yet a tear fell, as the ejaculations of thankfulness for the past, and earnest supplication for the future, ascended from her lips : and the less subdued emotions of the mothers and sisters, who hailed in their most endeared relative a deliverer from immediate destruction, sweetened Bryan's hasty meal into luxury. But in the open expression of delight, old Shane far outdid all the rest, and frequently extorted a smile by the extravagance of his commendations on the heroes of the day.
“ What are you dreaming of, Shane ?” asked his young master, archly," the honour and glory of an apprentice boy?”
Hush, my child,” said the Lady of M‘Alister : “ and you, Shane, forbear to take from the Lord the praise which is due to him alone. The weakness, the inadequacy, of the instruments this day employed, give promise that the work will prove to have been of God; and if so, it will be a mighty and a perfect work. He who says to the foaming billows, ' hitherto shalt thou go, and no farther: here