Page images
PDF
EPUB

shall thy proud wases be stayed,' may have blessed our little fortress to be the feeble but sufficient barrier against the progress of His church's foes. Here he may be about to kindle a fire through which they cannot pass ; a fire whose intenseness shall try us, even as silver is tried. We are now pent up, beset by open foes, and in manifest peril of being surrounded by accumulating hosts, not one man of whom can set upon us to hurt us, unless the Lord give the word. Oh, my children ! shall we trust to an arm of flesh, and cast away the shield of the Almighty, by boasting in our own prowess ? Let us rather turn unto Him, in weeping and supplication, and pray that in these kindling flames we may be purified, and made white and shine-for in the straitness of this siege, the slain of the Lord shall be many."

She then read the first two chapters of Joel, and offered up an impressive prayer.

“ Grandmother,” said Bryan, as he took her hands on rising to depart, " when I ran down to the portal, when I laid hold on the pulleys of the bridge, when I lent my strength to close those heavy gatesthe sound of whose creaking hinges I never, never shall forget—the prayer of David was in my heart and on my lips, let us now fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great : and let us not fall into the hand of man !'”

“ Peace and blessing be with my dear boy!" she replied ; and the tears of all mingled on his cheek, as they bade him a reluctant farewell.

“ Heaven bless her ladyship!” muttered Shane, as he secured the door, after wringing his young master's offered hand, " the like of her isn't above ground for throwing a wet blanket. And she's right, too, I'm entirely certain, in respect to the siege : for when the boys slammed the creaking ould gates in the faces of yon spalpeens, thinks I, its your heart's blood that 'll spout upon 'em yet, jewels of the world ! And Shane O'Connogher's old ears will tingle, when your merry voices are turned into dying groans, and the roar of big guns be yonr ullaloo !” And, overcome with the picture that his fancy drew, he slunk away to his little dormitory.

During the night, considerable tumult prevailed in the city, and with dawning day it arose to a higher swell ; and agitating was the anxiety of the M'Alisters, as they sat in desponding silence, bending many impatient looks on the door.

Suddenly, the loud report of two cannon, successively discharged from the walls, preceded and followed by most exulting shouts, sent a tremor through every frame. Old Shane, who had reluctantly consented to keep guard over the household, started, and threw back his head, as the aged war-horse, who smells the battle afar off. The sisters drew nearer to each other, and gazed with fearful expectation on the opening door. Never had the protecting arms of their brother been so welcome as now, when, bursting into the room, every feature irradiate with joy, he embraced them, and exclaimed, “ The post has brought us glorious news : not only has the Prince of Denmark declared for William of Nassau, but many a proud name of English rank and influence swells the roll of his adherents. Our own Ormonde has ranged his true men under the banner of Orange; and the tide of popular feeling runs steadily along, promising victory and peace.”

Ejaculations of delight and thanksgiving followed the welcome communication. “ But the guns, brother !” said Ellen.

“ Merely a shot in bonour of our deliverer ; but I did not stay to witness its effect on the gentry over the water; so anxious was I to be the bearer of welcome news. And now have I earned my breakfast ?"

“ What ! fasting yet, my poor boy?” said his mother, as she eagerly advanced to her little stores.

“ That's right, Master Bryan,” said Shane, with great emphasis, “ eating is the last thing in life that a soldier should think about. But is it you that have been on guard all night, avourneen ?”

“ Sure, and I have, Shane, who should keep the gates but the boys that shut them ?”

“ True for ye: and have you mustered the garri

son ?"

“ Aye, and a bare three hundred of fighting men can we number, for the defence of our good town.”

“ Say three hundred and one, Sir :” exclaimed Shane, as he drew himself into an upright position.

6. Three hundred and one, then : and to arm those we have made free to open the magazine, and have taken out muskets for about half that number : how to equip the rest, we know not. But that cowardly rabble before the walls cannot face the report of a child's pop-gun. Shoulder the poker, Shane, ready --present—and off they will scamper."

“ Beware, my child, of viewing these things too lightly,” said his grandmother. 66 Victorious moments are moments of temptation, when a vainglorious spirit is too apt to taint the Christian's joy. For our sins is the chastisement sent : and no race of beings, no reptile, no insect, is too mean to execute the judgments of the Lord, where he wills to smite. Frogs, flies, and lice, were made effectual to scourge the pride of warlike Egypt."

Bryan assented : and united prayer was then engaged in, led by the venerable lady. Fervently did she supplicate that the Lord would look favourably on his little Zion, and be to them a strong hold in that their day of adversity. A touching recurrence to past scenes melted every heart; and if one thing beyond all others characterized these prayers, it was the energetic pleading for every single soul among the thousands then thirsting for Protestant blood.

Immediately on rising, the lady withdrew to her apartment, and brought forth the antique arms of her slaughtered husband. She had, on that morning, opened a chest, which for many a long year had remained unexplored; and often had it excited the curiosity of the young people, as they remarked the jealous care with which its possessor kept it under her immediate guardianship. The objects now presented to their eyes were new to them : but a heavy groan from peor old Shane bespoke his recognition of the broad sword, from whose hilt of costly workmanship depended a knot, deeply encrusted with gore. A belt of black leather, much embrowned with age, trailed along the ground; and a brace of pistols, superbly mounted with silver, completed a burden almost too heavy for the arms that trembled as they bore it. Bryan hastened to take the weapons ; and his knees involuntarily touched the ground, as he kissed the hands that wielded them. His heart was too full for any other expression of thankfulness.

Bryan and his friend Ross were keeping their accustomed guard towards evening, the former still endeavouring to awaken in his comrade's mind that concern after eternal things for which their growing perils furnished a more forcible argument, when

P

« PreviousContinue »