« PoprzedniaDalej »
THE AUTHOR OF “ THE COLLEGIANS."
IN TWO VOLUMES.
PRINTED BY J. & J. HARPER, 82 CLIFF-STREET.
SOLD BY COLLINS AND HANNAY, COLLINS AND CO., G. AND C. AND H. CARVILL, O. A
ROORBACH, WHITE, GALLAHER, AND WHITE, A. T. GOODRICH, W. B. GILLEY, E.
I HURRIED after Dalton, the threat still ringing in my ear, and the scene of wo and blood still present to my sight. I found him on the public road which lay between the cabin of the Shanahans and my house, engaged in conversation with his son, who had joined him just before. With little persuasion I was able to prevail on both to spend the remainder of the evening at my house.
While Henry Dalton amused himself with the ladies, I took an opportunity of expressing to his father my apprehension lest the brother of the man we had shot should find it possible to put his menaces into execution. “ You would tremble more,” said Dalton, “if you
knew the circumstances of this man's story, or rather of his father's story, for he only inherits the gloomy spirit which his parent's act originated."
“ Was it in allusion, then, to such an act that you called him the SON OF A PARRICIDE ?"
“ You shall hear the tale. It is worth hearing, as a proof of the deadly violence to which those people are sometimes apt to be carried in their fits of momentary excitation. You know the Coom Collee, or the Hag's Valley, near Killarney ?”
“ No," said I, “ I never was as Killarney.''
“Well, there is such a place in the neighbourhood of the Lakes, a vast, gloomy, shrubless, silent, rocky region, looking the very. theatre of witchery and romance. Piles of enormous mountains, with lakes embosomed among their peaks and sides at various elevations, form the entrance to this stupendous recess ; as you advance you find yourself in the centre of an extensive chasm, scooped out of the heaptup hills, with a lonely river brattling among the fallen crags, and a dreary waste of stone and heath and bog separating the precipitous and time splintered Reeks of Macgillicuddy from the less rugged mountains of the Gap. In the centre of this waste were two cottages, or rather cabins, held by two families of different names, one of them O'Sheas, from the ancient clan in the Esk mountain near Glengariff, the other consisting of the father and the grandfather of this Shanahan. Both families supported themselves by feeding sheep and goats on the sides of the neighbouring mountains, and one might have supposed that even with all the national blood flowing pure in their veins, they might have forgotten in such a' solitude, the national predilection for combat. But this was not the case, for the inhabitants of the two cabins constituted two opposite factions, the O'Sheas taunting the Shanahans with the meanness of their origin, and the latter grounding an equal quantity of vituperation upon the negligence and roguery of the O'Sheas.
“ What fomented this disunion to the height was the marriage of the younger Shanahan with the eldest daughter of the other house, a circumstance which one would have supposed more likely to reconcile the opposite interests of both parties. Until that time, the father and son had lived in perfect harmony, the latter, indeed, interfering little in the family feud, which the former sustained with the vigour of a Capulet. You may suppose that the astonishment of the old man was not little, when he beheld his son whom he had been educating in a scrupulous detestation of the rival house, appear upon his floor with his Dalilah, fresh from the abode of the Philistines, linked to his side. That fair one was the aged woman whose impotent grief appeared to affect you so forcibly to-night, and she came beneath his roof bringing for her dowry all the ancestral pride of the generations which had preceded her, and all the extreme dishonesty of that in which she had grown up and flourished.
“ The wings of Peace did not overshadow this union. War was kindled upon the hearth of the Shanahans, and the ties which had from early childhood bound the affections of the young man to his aged parent were gradually unbound by the fingers of his daughter-in-law. Instead of
the domestic paradise which young Shanahan, in common with all husbands of whatever rank or education, promised himself in his married life, the scenes of altercation which continually arose made it resemble one of Dante's Tartarian gyres. Many vain attempts were inade by the unhappy husband to reconcile these dissensions, and his continual disappointments began to throw a shade of gloom and menace over his own brow.
“ Things had continued in this state for several months, when, on a cold November evening, the keeper of a little hunting lodge, at the end of the valley, was surprised by a visit from the old man. He appeared uneasy and dejected, and told without reserve, when questioned, the occasion of his anxiety. For the last three or four days’, he said, “I have seen my son and his wife whispering together in secret, and my mind misgives me that they are plotting soinething against my life. May heaven forgive them if they injure me, but I'm sure I never did any thing to deserve their hatred.' The keeper, perceiving his uneasiness, pressed him to remain that night, for the better security, with him and his family. But this the old man declined, saying, that if any unfairness were meant, the time would be found as easily on any future day as at present. He departed, a gloomy presentiment appearing to lurk between his brows.
“ Although the keeper imagined it probable that his apprehensions were rather the result of a hypochondriac habit than of any real cause for dread, yet he could not himself resist the unaccountable spirit of curiosity which impelled him early the next morning to walk up the Hag's Valley, and inquire after the old man. Arrived at the cottage, the first unusual sensation which he received was an extraordinary smell which seemed to proceed from the interior. Deeming it possible, however, that in his excited state of feeling his sense might have deceived him in this particular, (you know Rousseau calls smell the sense of imagination) he disregarded this circumstance, and lifted the latch, without thinking much upon the matter.
Tithin was Shanahan's wife seated at à table on which was spread their breakfast of potatoes and goat's milk, while her husband sat apart, his arms hanging downward over the back of his chair and his eyes fixed gloomily upon the ground. He took mo notice of the keeper's entrance, nor did he at all appear