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Letitia, Ellen, were committed to a peaceful grave, over which it was his privilege daily to watch ; and their spirits, he knew, were yet more safely housed in the mansions of the blessed, under the guardian hand of Him who had loved them, and who gave himself for them : whereas this agonized husband and father was left in the most dreadful surmises, as to what of mortal suffering might yet await those in whom his own life seemed to be wrapped up. “ And I know not,” thought Bryan, “ whether he be a partaker in that precious faith which seems to support the soul of his expiring wife." With such thoughts in his mind, he gradually approached the stranger ; and having rested for a while on the wall beside him, addressed him in a voice of respectful commiseration.
“ You are not alone in your sufferings : alas, that the only consolation which we can offer should be a fellowship in wretchedness !"
The stranger shook his head in token of bitter assent, but neither spoke nor looked up.
Encouraged by this slight proof of attention to his words, Bryan proceeded : “ I know that he whose power to save is as infinite as the compassion which calls that power into action, is likewise touched with a feeling of all our infirmities—has in all points been tempted like as we are”.
* Yet without sin,” interrupted the other : and then raising his tearful eyes to heaven, he ejaculated, “ Oh, merciful High Priest ! subdue these sinful repinings, and teach my soul to say, “It is the Lord.'"
There was a simple, a sublime fervour in the tone of this short appeal, that bespoke the agony of spirit under which the sufferer struggled for resignation ; it carried reproach to many a heart which had failed under similar trial to seek to the same source for comfort and submission. To Bryan the words were fraught with solid satisfaction; and confirmed him in a purpose already formed in his benevolent mind. Pressing still nearer to the object of his compassion, he continued in a low voice, the expression of his christian sympathy; and then said, “ There is evident danger in your remaining to occupy a station from which it is yet hardly possible to urge your removal. Whenever your feelings will permit you to relinquish for a short space this post of melancholy watching, leave it to me I will not neglect for a moment the sacred charge—and give my aged grandmother the support of your arm to her bereaved home, where your presence will fill one of its many vacancies with a fellow sufferer, partaking alike in our abounding affliction, and in the consolation that, through divine grace, sometimes much more abounds."
The stranger turned upon him his heavy and swollen eyes, with an expression of deep thankfulness, replying, “It is a brotherly offer; and with a brother's frankness I will accept it.”
“Where have you been, Magrath ?” asked Bryan, as his faithful follower mounted the wall near him.
“ I have been putting my hand to the work yonder, your honour,” he replied, pointing to the place where the gallows had stood, which, with scrupulous adherence to the letter and spirit of their declaration, the Derry men had taken down as soon as the crowd moved off from below.
“And did your governor really purpose to execute those miserable captives?” asked the stranger, whose name was Morrison.
“Every neck of them, Sir, we would have stretched,” answered Magrath sternly, “and themselves never denied the justice of it.”
“That acknowledgment was what saved them," added Bryan; “together with the evident fact, that the savage foreigners cared not bow much of native blood might flow, but would rather rejoice in proportion to the horrors perpetrated under their iniquitous domination."
“They are encouraged by the priests,” said Morrison.
“Look yonder !” exclaimed Magrath, unconscious of the agonizing interest that the scene to which he pointed must excite in the breast of his hearer.
A French officer, who appeared to have received some order to investigate the condition of those who
remained below the walls, had approached the place where Morrison's wife lay, seemingly in a quiet sleep. Attended by three or four soldiers, he reached the spot, and rudely pushing with his foot the helpless creature before him, he demanded in broken English why she did not follow the rest of the rabble on their march.
She raised her hollow eyes, and articulated some words too faintly to be understood. The Frenchman, with his sheathed sword, was about to thrust the pillow of ragged clothes from beneath her head, at the same time ordering her to rise, while Morrison, grasping the top of the wall, seemed in act to throw himself over, as the nearest way to succour her, when an Irish sergeant approaching, in a tone of suppressed rage, exclaimed, “Let the woman die in peace.”
The officer commanded him to retire, but he stood his ground, seemingly prepared to resist, in deed as well as by words, the wanton barbarity of his companions, towards one so evidently suffering the pangs of dissolution; while the soldiers, pressing nearer, seemed anxious for some command to remove him by force.
This was presently given; and at the same moment the serjeant, placing himself astride over the narrow couch, drew his hanger; but several of his countrymen running up, among whom was an officer, the Frenchman moved back, calling on his men to disarm the mutineer, and conduct him to the fort.
“ What's this, Connellan ?” asked the Irish officer, “how came you to mutiny, sir ?”
“ Is it mutiny to defend a dying countrywoman from those who thirst for Irish blood ?" said the serjeant, in his native tongue.
“ Is she dying ?”
The Frenchman asserted that she was as well able to walk off as the rest of the party ; but that she preferred lying there, in the hope of being taken into the town.
“ No fear of that,” answered the other. starving rascals know better than to let more hungry mouths into their den; besides,” he added, stooping to look at her pallid face, “ she is really at the point of death.
The Frenchman made no reply to this, but in a more violent tone repeated the order to seize Connellan for mutiny.
“ I've committed no mutiny, and I'll not be disarmed by you," said the serjeant, darting a look of defiance at all the foreign soldiers.
“ You're right, my lad,” exclaimed the officer, 66 and General Hamilton will
the same.' The Frenchman vehemently protested that all the rules of military service were on his side ; that for a non-commissioned officer to draw his sword upon a superior, was death before any court-martial.
“ Never mind,” replied the other, with provoking coolness. “ We're not particular here, you know.