JOHN NOWLAN did go home the next morning; but, after the final chances
of the night, he might as well have staid where he was.
Riding very hard from the mean public-house where he had left Horrogan, he soon gained Long-
hall. As he entered, the servants were in confusion. He enquired the cause, and learned that Mr.
Long had retired to bed rather ill. Mr. Frank was also in his chamber, yet unacquainted, at Miss
Letty's instance, with his uncle's accident; and she remained up in the drawing-room. Thither
John hastened, agitated with all the occurrences of the day, and of the previous evening, excited
with the magistrate's bumpers, fired and unsettled in his feelings, though imagining himself fixed
in a great resolution; vehement, but without a plan. As he sprang up the stairs, John vaguely
apprehended that he sought this interview for the purpose of at once breaking his dangerous
fetters; of at once telling Letty that he should leave in the morning, and bidding her something
like an eternal farewell. When he burst, rather abruptly, into the drawing-room, he did not know
that his features, manner, and whole appearance, betrayed an irregular energy, the natural effect
of his fluttering state of nerve. But Letty, roused by his entrance from her sad reverie at the fire,
saw what he could not see; saw the strange sparkling of eye, and the briskness of mien and
motion which bespoke a panting purpose; and her catching of breath, as he appeared, and her
sudden rising from her chair, showed how much she was startled. "A thousand pardons, Miss
Letty," John began, out of breath; "but you know I must be alarmed at your uncle's sudden
illness, and very anxious to hear your opinion of it."
"You are very good, Mr. Nowlan;" her head cast down, as she pulled round her a large shawl to
hide the half-disposition of her dress for bed; "but, however the illness must afflict us, I have
hopes, as it is, unhappily, rather a constitutional one, that no serious danger now threatens my
"Thank God," said John; and there was a long pause; he standing with one hand rested on a table,
she leaning against the mantel-piece; while the loud breathing of both audibly echoed through the
stilled room. Suddenly he spoke again—"And good night, then, Miss Letty; good-
b'ye, indeed; and remember me, as you know I wish to be remembered, to Mr. Long, in
the morning." He advanced a step, his hand extended; she turned, fixed her glance on his now
pale face and streaming eyes; grew pale in her turn, again looked away, and asked, "Why is this,
Mr. Nowlan? do I rightly, understand that you leave us in the morning? and if so, why in such
"I must go home to-morrow morning," he answered, speaking very slowly.
"Indeed? that is sudden and strange too," resuming her seat, to hide her faintness and
trembling—"have we given you cause?"
"I have given myself cause, Miss Letty; I have done wrong in ever leaving my humble home; and
the sooner I now return to it, the better for myself—so, good-b'ye." He stepped closer, took her
proffered hand, and, while his tears wetted it, added—" and believe me most thankful—most
grateful—most bound to pray—and bless—" his voice failed him.
"Good-b'ye, sir; I am sorry—I wish you very well;" and poor Letty wept outright, and snatching
her hand, covered with both hands her agitated face, while, as she sank back in her chair, her
large shawl fell in folds around her.
John mutely gazed on her in a wild state of feeling. It was, first, despair, then joyous distraction.
Yet one who could have watched his face, would not, perhaps, have fathomed his heart. A faint
and inane smile only played around his mouth as he thought "she loves me—that fairest
creature, that most elevated, gifted, and noble creature, loves me; and those tears, those
agonies—" Letty's passion rose higher; she sobbed aloud; the calm purpose of despair, held
even while he spoke, gave way at once; every danger was forgotten; or, if remembered, braved;
he darted to a chair by her side, again seized her hand, and, "Yes, yes!" he cried, "goody-b'ye!
good-b'ye for ever! I go home indeed to-morrow morning, Letty, for both our sakes: I go,
because to stay were crime and madness—ruin and death, here and hereafter; because I love,
because I love!" pressing her to him; "and because you love me! Do not turn and deny it; do not
make the sin of my confession useless as well as heinous; do not take away from me the only
palliation that Heaven will remember when 1 cry out and groan and grovel for a pardon; leave
me but the certainty I now feel, the certainty that before I grew mad, I was honoured, blessed,
cursed! blessed and cursed together with your love; leave me but that! the consciousness that
when I fell the brightest angel out of Heaven tempted me; let me have so much to plead, and I
will not be without hope in my remorse and repentance. I will not be without the hope that God,
when he permitted the glorious temptation, saw how impossible it was for me to escape it! Letty,
Letty, speak! say the word! I will have it from your lips! my only excuse, my only plea, my only
hope! the only hope of my soul, though the eternal despair of my heart!— you love me! you
love me! confess."
"I love you," she answered, as her trembling frame sank in his arms, "with my heart's full and
Muttering raptures and ecstasies, and now solely swayed by the tumultuous triumph of youthful
affection, John fell on his knees, his arms still around her neck, her cheek resting on his; and
while Letty alone wept happy tears, he kissed her lips, her forehead, her closed eyes, her
crimsoned neck, which the fallen shawl left more than usually shown. At this moment both
started, for both thought a stealthy step came to the door. Letty suddenly caught up her shawl,
and wrapped it in successive folds around her shoulders and waist: John drew back his hands,
and they dropped at his side; but he did not, or could not, rise from his knees: he listened; the
noise was not repeated: he grew assured with respect to that circumstance; but his checked
ecstasy did not return; arrested, frozen, it allowed the sudden reaction of thought; his flushed face
grew pallid, as he still knelt. Letty saw his eyes distend and fix on the fire; saw him gape; saw
cold moisture teem ftom his forehead; heard him breathe laboriously; heard him gasp: and at last,
as he uttered a low groan, John slowly lifted up his arms, cast them forward, and fell prostrate
with them; his head coming so violently in contact with the massive fender, that blood trickled
on the carpet.
This was a trying situation for a young creature like Letty. Love urged her to cry out for help;
fear of observation, on his account and her own, stifled her voice. Apprehension for his safety,
for his life, flung her on her knees by his side; yet a consciousness, if not a recollection, of the
scene that had just occurred—of the new, embarrassing, even doubtful relation, they began to
hold towards each other, distracted her efforts to serve him, and confused her speech. And yet
she raised his head from the hearth, rested it on her knee, and began to staunch the slight wound
with her handkerchief, as she cried—" For God's sake, Mr. Nowlan! rise, Sir, and retire, if you
can!—Speak, at least, and explain this sudden misery! John! dearest John Nowlan, speak—was
it illness—was it faintness?—are you better?—Gracious God! he will not, or cannot
answer!—what is to become of me! no help near that I dare call upon;—and yet I must call up
the house, John Nowlan, if you do not speak: ah! now you revive, and will be better."
"What's this?" he whispered, starting to his knees—" I remember,"— groaning as he met her
glance—" good night, Letty—farewell, indeed, for ever!" He arose, staggering.
"Sir!—Mr. Nowlan!"—in angry surprise—"explain this—explain"— correcting herself—"
explain the cause of your embarrassment, your accident, I mean;—was it sudden
illness?—giddiness?—what do you mean?"
"My vow! my eternal vow." He hid his face, and leaned against the wall.
"You are not a priest!" she screamed; "you have not vowed a vow that makes your declaration to
me—your attentions—your manner—the confession you have just extorted—Oh!—I could
not comprehend your dark meaning while you spoke! I thought it doubt of me or of my
sentiments; any thing but that! But you have not vowed a vow that makes all this
insult, presumption, outrage to me, as well as to——answer, Sir!—you are not a priest!"
He walked to the middle of the room, bowed his head, crossed his arms on his breast, and
answered: "Curse me, as I deserve; I cannot stand more accursed than I am, to God, to you, to
man, and to myself: the vow is vowed; and, as you say, I have as presumptuously, as barbarously
insulted you, as—as I have sunk my own soul!" and he left the apartment. Letty stood a moment
gazing on the door through which he had passed, and then fell. The female attendant, entering
some minutes after, found her insensible.
John slowly ascended to his chamber, locked himself in, and sank in a chair. The next action of
which he was conscious was to start up, extinguish the light, and resume his seat in darkness. If
time be truly defined as a succession of ideas, for him whose brain holds but one abiding idea,
there is no time. John Nowlan, at least, was not mindful of the lapse of this night into the
morning. Objects began to be discernible around, and through the window; sharp breezes shook
his window-frame, and little birds twittered by, and the rooks cawed loudly in the adjoining
trees, ere he became aware of the long, dull, sleepless, tearless trance in which he had sat. Near
the window was his toilet-glass; his eye, glancing over its surface, caught the reflection of his
own face, dimly seen in the grey twilight, pallid, rigid, and stained with the blood from his
forehead. He started, as if, in his shivering lonesomeness, he had detected the visage of some
fearful stranger. He cast himself on his knees, and, with his knuckles clenched at his forehead,
began to pray.
In some time he arose and packed up, in his little trunk, the few things of his which were to be
found in the room. Next, he bathed his face in a basin of water, and arranged his dress; and in a
few moments sat to a table, and wrote two notes, one to Mr. Long, another to Letty: the first,
pleading an urgent case of necessity for his sudden absence, and expressing anxious hopes for the
speedy re-establishment of Mr. Long's health, ended with warm and sincere thanks for all that
gentleman's kindness; the second must express itself in its own words:—
"All you accused me of is true. My avowal was sacrilege to God; my extorted acknowledgment,
sacrilege to you: all the feelings I dared hold to you, wicked, insulting, blasphemous. Humbled in
the dust, kneeling on the knees of my heart to my God and my benefactress, praying pardon and
oblivion, I have but one word to offer—not a word of extenuation—that I despise—for with
ten times as much to plead, I am immeasurably guilty. Let me say the word, however. I never
concealed, intentionally, that my vow had been made. I thought you knew it perfectly. No more
do I presume to say. I go to my father's house. Farewell. Be assured, the life I shall lead—the
expiations I shall offer—the discipline my offended church must impose—the heart that from
this day must wither—that I spurn—that I cast into the blight—all this will avenge you.
Farewell. When I may dare to pray in the humblest hope of being heard, your name shall ever
ascend from my lips. Blessings, as many as my curses, be with you for ever!"
Having written his notes, he remained gazing through the window, until some slight noises told
him the servants began to stir in the house. Then he stepped cautiously down stairs, met a
kitchen-wench, gave her the notes, left directions to have his trunk sent after him, half walked,
half ran to his humble home, and entered under its roof with an unusual show of vivacity.
Immediately after breakfast he set out for the house of his old reverend friend, Mr. Kennedy,
often mentioned before in this story. His brow fell when the people there informed him that the
clergyman had accompanied his bishop to Dublin, on business of moment, and was nor expected
home for many weeks. This disappointment John thought grievous; and he was right in thinking
it so; much of his fate was involved in it. He looked round for some other spiritual adviser; his
recollections or likings proposed none to whom he could willingly unbosom himself; and he
determined to spend in solitary self-examination and discipline the time that must elapse before
the arrival of his best friend.
He shut himself up in his little study, and prepared to lay his breast bare to Heaven. But it was a
place of distracting recollections; and pleading to Peggy and his mother a preference for his
father's room, a busy removal of books, shelves, and other furniture, ensued, and his wish was
soon accomplished. He at last sat down to his task, most tremblingly anxious to speed it; but his
powers of self-abstraction were not equal to his will; it was too near his time of passion; nature
refused to he so summarily trampled down; the very feverish impatience of his purpose unfitted
him for success; and his first day and night produced nothing but sullen reveries, traitorous
recurrences, ardent aspirations, and bitter, bitter tears.
In the middle of the next day, he reflected that he was bound to make enquiries after the health of
Mr. Long: circumstances, to which that gentleman was a stranger, could not warrant a neglect
that must seem so strange and ungrateful. He therefore despatched one of his father's men to
Long Hall, instructing him to add an enquiry concerning the health of all the
family. The messenger staid away much longer than was needful; John grew impatient for his
return; he could do nothing, in the mean time, but watch him out of the window that commanded
his path: he expected, hoped, in fact, something more than an answer to the questions he had
sent; yet he dared not tell himself he did.
Towards evening, the man at last appeared, and John's anticipations were not proved vain. Miss
Letty sent assurances that her uncle was better; and with these assurances, a note to Peggy,
accompanying and explaining various rare patterns of gowns, frills, and caps; and another to
John, enclosed in it, that, the young lady informed her fair friend, would tell Mr. Nowlan how to
sow and cultivate certain flower roots, and slips, for which he had seemed anxious, and which
were forwarded by his messenger. Peggy ran to John with the note; he retired to his room, and
read as follows:—
"Rev. Dear Mr. Nowlan,
"The man will convey to you the pleasing news that my dearest uncle is not seriously ill; and you
can imagine what joy this must be to one who loves him better than her own father and
mother—than any second being on earth. Many thanks for your kind enquiries.
"I send the Dutch tulip roots I promised you; also, some specimens of the yellow picot‚ which I
can warrant; and the rare geranium slips you seemed to admire. As the two first will demand all
your care, you must study, out of the book of the London florist that accompanies them, the best
mode of culture recommended. Pray, accept, at the same time, a little portfolio containing a few
drawings you used to flatter me about, particularly a carefully finished drawing of the first sketch
you saw me make on the morning of our walk from your house to Long Hall. The music of the
wild and beautiful ballad of "Lord Ronald," and of other songs, which I believed you half asked
from me, are also in the portfolio.
"I got your note: but, indeed, I do not understand it. Of what could I "accuse" you? Nothing that
my calm recollections suggest; nothing that you ever deserved; nothing that it must not have
been as cruel as it was indelicate for me to glance at. I say from my heart, Rev. dear Sir, I have
not, I never had, the slightest reason to reproach you. Let the evening before last be eternally
forgotten. I know not what happened; I do not wish to know. But whatever I said or did, must
have been caused by the weak and wandering state of heart and mind into which I was thrown by
the sudden illness of him who merits and possesses my undivided affection. So, instead of your
asking pardon from me, I ask it of you. Indeed I do, Mr. Nowlan, must sincerely. For the
slightest undeserved word that could have caused you pain, I am—believe me I am—sorry and
afflicted. Therefore, in the name of good feeling, and good sense, abandon every thought of
visiting upon yourself, in any such shocking way as you hint at, or as the severity of your
religion may (if you wrongfully accuse your heart) enjoin,—an imaginary error. Promise me
this, or else a knowledge of your continued intention will make me, as I ought to be, the true
sufferer, and humble and degrade me beyond expression.
"In fact, we should both forget that evening; I repeat it again. I have had an undisturbed day and
night to reflect—perhaps more than reflect— thanks to your prudent generosity—and such is
my opinion. We have both been led astray by erroneous impressions; no farther does our fault
extend; let us show that the moment we are set right, we can act as becomes us. It was all
exceeding folly: and any vehement words or resolutions about it would only be a greater
absurdity. Let us meet again as if it had never occurred. That is the better way. I will never
believe that, in your breast or mine, prepossession is stronger than reason. Come to enquire after
my dear uncle's health, whenever you will,—as soon as you will—and one of us, at least, shall
prove it is not.
"Adieu, dear Rev. Sir. I enjoin the utmost care to be paid to my scarce and beautiful tulips: and
pray burn this note: that is my last and strongest request.
"I am, dear Rev. Sir,
"With respect and esteem,
"Your faithful friend,
John knew nothing of women; he had never associated with them; this note astonished him to
excess; ay, more, it mortified him, and put him in a passion. What! after all that had
occurred,—after all his high opinions of her—(and of himself he ought to have added)—was
she but a coquette—did she say words she had never felt? "Undivided affection!" and "above
any second being on earth!" of whom were those things so deliberately spoken? Then the tone of
utter contempt in which she alluded to the past—to him: and her challenges to meet him again
with such indifference! He would meet her half-way, at least. He would prove, as fully as she
could, that in his breast "prepossession was not stronger than reason."
Only two phrases of her letter at first divided his sentiments. One was, "thanks to your prudent
generosity;" prudent! Did this mean more than met the eye? Did it contain, or
hide, a reproach for his silence of one day? and was she piqued with him? The next passage
was—" a day and night to reflect—perhaps more than reflect;"
what "more?"—His conjectures subdued him; he saw her, for a moment, weeping away the
night, alone in her chamber, and his own tears started at the picture.
Then he read her letter again; and all that portion of it which sought to save him from future
suffering, took full hold of his heart. An idea of her self-devotedness, self-sacrifice, surprised
him into admiration, gratitude, and a return of the deepest, tenderest love; he flung himself on his
bed; detected the treacherous wandering; started up, and again and again, the groans of his young
heart went up for relief.
We shall pass a few days, and accompany John to pay a formal visit at Long Hall, not in anger,
nor yet in guilty impulse, but from a sedate conviction of the propriety, in every way, of such a
He found Mr. Long in his library, looking pale and shaken; but after some conversation, he found
Letty in the drawing-room, looking more pale and shaken. Prepared for his appearance, she
received him with a calm smile; and though blushes and tremors came in spite of her, she was
able to conceal them from him. Frank sat by, his arm not yet well. The interview aimed at quiet
vivacity, but was dull and overstrained. Frank rose to leave the room; John started, like a culprit,
at his motion, and withdrew before him.
Letty's appearance shocked him to the soul; and though not a word had been spoken about it,
John thought of nothing else on his way home. Conclusions that he shrunk from drawing, but
that he could not resist, seized upon his mind. She was, indeed, the sufferer more than he.
Gracious God! her suppressed feelings—her choked passion—her despairing love— her love
of him! it was striking at her life. She was dying!
He might assist her to triumph over her malady: and his presence, rather than his absence, would
be the best assistance. Constant interviews, that would end in nothing, yet that would accustom
both to regard each other as simple friends; cheering conversation on topics she delighted in;
exercise, picturesque walks that she was now giving up;—all this might effect a cure, and he
determined to be the physician. The notion of her weakness made him strong; made him
confident; forgetful of his own weakness; presumptuous.
Though he would not dream of again taking up his abode at Long Hall, they met, therefore, very
often, and read or sang in the drawing-room, or lectured on flowers in the garden, or walked out,
accompanied by Mr. Long or his nephew, to sketch; and John's hopes seemed crowned with
success. Blushes and embarrassment when they met, or sighs or reveries when they were
together, or faltering adieus, or pressures of the hand, when they parted, gave him, indeed, some
uneasiness on his own account, as well as Letty's; but still he was braced and bold in virtue, and
his constant prayers seemed ever to be answered with a promise.
They had strayed, one evening, into a fine solitary scene, Mr. Long with them, and Letty made
some pleasing sketches. Her uncle suggested that she and John should turn aside, over an
embankment, to look about for a changed grouping of objects, which he believed might form a
still better sketch. Both hesitated: it was the first time, since the scene in the drawing-room, they
expected to be alone; at last, Letty suddenly gave her arm, and in a few seconds they lost sight of
Mr. Long, and sauntered by the edge of a mountain stream. Letty set the example of talking fast
and much, he tried to follow her: but they soon grew mutually silent. They stept over a very
narrow part of the stream, and continued their walk on the other side, now doubling towards the
point from which they had started. The view did not answer Mr. Long's promises, and Letty
urged a speedy return to her uncle. It was again necessary to cross the stream; but as, at the place
they now paused, it could not he stept over by Letty, John proposed to carry her over: she
refused, with a consciousness of manner that communicated itself to him; but catching herself in
error, at once assumed much indifference, withdrew her dissent, and was lifted up in his
The rash boy trembled under his feathery weight. As mere matter of course, her arm twined
round his neck; and, burning in blushes, that for a moment overmastered her paleness, he had
never seen her look so enchanting. With tottering limbs he walked to the edge of the stream; she
called out to him to let her down, observing that he was not able to bear her across; and as she
spoke, her eyes met his.
"Ay," he answered, "able to bear you across an ocean of fire!—Letty, Letty, the heart, not the
limbs are weak,"—and, as he stept into the water, murmuring these words, his arms, in
irresistible impulse, pressed her to his heart.
"Set me down, Sir!" she exclaimed, "whatever may be the consequence, set me down!"—he
staggered among the sharp stones and rocks—"No, no," in another tone, "take care, take care of
yourself, for mercy's sake."
When they gained the opposite bank, her head rested on his shoulder; tears streamed from her
eyes; she sobbed, and made no effort to leave his arms. Maddened, distracted, he embraced her
again; she started up, and with a sudden effort, walked towards the place where her uncle was. At
the thought of her returning, alone, and unassisted, he ran after her, and kept by her side till she
had come up to Mr. Long. The now gathering twilight hid the agitation of both; and John,
making a confused apology, hastened home.
The next morning Letty sent, in a book carefully sealed up, the following note:—
"We are unmasked to each other. All our false pretences are torn away: all our false philosophy
shown to be imposition. Now there can be but one course. Let us never meet again. Let seas,
countries, oceans, worlds divide us. I can die away from you, as well as at your feet—and at
your feet I should die if——No, no! let us never meet in this world again. With our common
sufferings, let us retain the virtue that will give us hopes of meeting in another. That is all we
have to look to. I am dying, and (though I have never noticed to you) your brow and cheek tell
me the state of your heart. Farewell. I loved, and I love you above the earth's promise, without
you; above myself; but also above the thought of sacrificing you to the terrible vengeance of the
stern religion you proffer to me; pardon the word, that you conscientiously and honourably
believe in. This you already know—fully know—and, therefore, I may say it.—Farewell. We
must fly to the world's extremities asunder. I will prevail on my dear, injured uncle to go
immediately to—no matter where; you need not know that.—Attempt not to see me—dare
not.—Save us! it is in your power to do so. Farewell till eternity."
After a day's imaginary calmness, John answered thus.
"The resolution you have taken was mine also. We shall, indeed, part unto eternity. But stir not
you. Stay by your uncle's side; he needs your care, and is not in a state for travelling. To fly, and
fly far, is alone my duty. And already I have taken measures to leave Ireland for Spain. The
clerical relative you have heard me speak of will readily assist me; and I have written to him on
the subject. Indeed he spoke of it before. I return the first present you ever gave me, the little ring
I found in my room; also your books and drawings. The flowers I had planted I have torn up by
the roots, as I tear up your memory: and I would not have them bloom behind me, in my native
country, in my father's little garden, while no flower can ever more spring up in my heart.
"You say you are dying. I believe, indeed, neither of us shall long outlive this struggle; but that
will not be a crime; and if God so wills it, and since you love me as you say, I do not regret the
prospect. We shall brave death in the performance of our duty; and while our memories remain
pure after us on earth, death, and the hope beyond the grave, will be our reward. No more can he
expected from human hearts.
"Love me to the last, when I am away: I shall so love you. Surely this can be no sin; for, in
proportion as I love you, will the sacrifice of my love to my duties be great and acceptable.
"Ay, let us part, indeed; but not, as you urge it, without a parting. Do not start nor tremble. I have
long reflected on this point; and a glorious opportunity of beginning the sacrifice, a holy one for
practising, together, the self-triumph we are called on to make, presents itself. I shall go, this
evening, in a post-chaise with my sister Peggy, to Nenagh, so far on our Way to Dublin: it will
await me on the road, at the middle stile, a little after six o'clock. All my preparations are made.
Meet me, accompanied by your brother Frank, at the stile, and let us walk and converse one half-
hour together, your brother, my sister, you and I; and then let me take your unimpassioned hand
for the last time. You shall see me worthy of this indulgence, and I shall see you worthy of
granting it. Farewell till six."
Having despatched this letter, John proceeded, amid the tears of his family, to complete his very
last arrangements for the road. Towards evening, he called Peggy into his room, and asked her if
Mr. Frank had yet proposed for her to her father; Peggy, in an affliction he could not explain, and
which alarmed him, replied in the negative. He was about to proceed in the brotherly strain he
felt as his duty—for John was now full of duties,—when he recollected that Mr. Frank's arm
had been ill since the very night they spoke on the subject; and with but a few delicate cautions,
which Peggy still took very strangely, he put an end to the subject.
The hour of separation from his father and mother arrived; it will be imagined for us. Two men
preceded him with his luggage to the road-side. Peggy took his arm as he walked from the
threshold of his home. About half way to the stile, she professed, in a hesitating manner, to have
forgotten something; said she would return for it; and he walked on alone.
Inside the stile, he met Letty and her brother. The young gentleman carried a fowling-piece, to
have a shot, as he expressed it, at whatever might come in the way. He also took from a side-
pocket a pair of travelling pistols, of which he begged John's acceptance. The young priest
refused them, with a smile at their uselessness to him; but his friend was politely pressing,
saying, as his journey was a long one, he did not know when they might be useful, and John
accepted them; laying them on a bank where all were now sitting, in expectation of Peggy's
The lovers began their interview in the very way, indeed, they had sternly promised to each
other's breasts; and neither trembled until the post-chaise was heard arriving, on the road near
them. John then expressed his surprise at Peggy's delay; and Frank clambered up an eminence to
look out for her. But "she did not yet come in view," he said, "although the twilight might hide
her figure." Then looking in another direction, he cried out—" A fox! I must have a shot at
him!"—and disappeared before John or Letty could urge him to remain.
Upon thus finding themselves alone, they shook like condemned criminals. They were silent.
They arose, and stept apart, affecting to he engaged in looking out for Frank or Peggy. The
sudden report of Frank's fowling-piece was heard. Letty bounded as if its contents had been
levelled at her heart—then tottered, and was falling. John caught her in his arms. Absolutely
overpowered, she clung to him. Again he returned her embrace!
In but a few moments more he was rushing, haggard and wild, out of the little retreat. He had
started from his blaspheming knees, tearing his hair, foaming,—a maniac. The pistols given him
by Frank lay in his way. He snatched them up, with a cry of mad joy, and ran forward, in the
impulse of but removing himself from her sight, and then putting an end to his own life. A stifled
laugh sounded close to his ear—he turned, expecting to see standing palpable before him, the
triumphant enemy of man. Maggy Nowlan, now showing no symptom of laughter, confronted
him at the turn from the dell.
"Stop, priest John!" she cried, "I was lookin' for you to tell you a sacret; last night, your sister
Peggy lost herself to a friend of yours, and they are now hard by together, an' she on her knees,
beggin' him to make her an honest woman."
His random suspicions of the day burst in his already raging breast.
"Bring me to them!" he gasped.
"This way, then;" and Maggy walked on.
"Salve et benedicite, brother," interrupted the steady tones of Friar Shanaghan,
stopping his "poor grey," at the road-side, in view of John.The madman uttered another shout,
sprang back to the road, stuffing the pistols into his breast, clasped the astonished old man by the
hand, then seized his arm, and cried out—"Down from your saddle, Sir!—down, quickly!"
"Why, and whither, man?"
"To do a good deed! to save souls!—Heaven sends you! down, down!— life and death are in
He forced him down, and the old friar, thus exhorted, allowed himself to be hurried along. Again
John met Maggy; again called on her to lead the way.
"Only on one promise do I lade either of you," she answered; "promise—swear!—that you will
not tell him I warned you."
"We swear by ten thousand heavens and hells—go on!"
"There they are, then," resumed Maggy, pointing to a gap in a field, as she retreated far from the
John dragged in the friar, and saw, indeed, Peggy kneeling to Mr. Frank, and with the wildest
energy, urging him to something, while he stood over her in an impassioned but stern
"Villain!" screamed John Nowlan, bursting between them; "right her this moment! here is your
own gift to make you," presenting the pistols; "and here is the priest God has sent to help
Peggy started, screaming, from her knees, calling on him to hold his hand and his purpose;
Frank, shrinking back, utterly confounded, asked what he meant. The friar laid his hand on his
arm. John sprang aside: "Touch me not, sir!" he roared; "let no man venture that! but proceed, in
your duty, to make this guilty pair man and wife; or, by the Heaven we have all outraged, you
shall be my victim, before I shoot him and her, and then destroy myself! Take her hand, seducer,
villain! she already wears a ring—that will do! take her hand I say, or—"
"John Nowlan! brother!" interrupted Peggy, again dropping on her knees to him; "why do you
ask this? what terrible madness has come over you?"
"The madness that is necessary for this! Up, woman, and stand by his side! one of our father's
children, at least, shall have a good name after this night, a patched-up good name, may be, but
no matter; up! or as sure as the same mother bore us, I will kill you at my feet!" He held the
pistol to her head; it pressed her forehead; she sprang up; still pointing the pistols at her and
Frank, he continued to roar for the office of the friar.
"Let the madman have his way," said Frank coolly, after a pause, and he took Peggy's hand; she
struggled, and "Hear me, John!" she cried; "I wish not this, I—"
"Not another word!" he exclaimed. All further opposition seemed not only useless but really
dangerous, to a degree too horrible to contemplate; in vain did the friar try to exert his voice; in
vain did Peggy add—" Brother, brother, you are ruining me!" At the maniac's still increasing
threats, the old ecclesiastic drew out his missal, and, in a few moments, Mr. Frank and Peggy
Nowlan were married.
"That will do, I wish ye joy!" resumed John, when the sudden ceremony was over: 'good-b'ye,
sister; brother Frank, good-b'ye," shaking their hands; "and now for my own luck; you'll hear of
me if ye do not hear from me: good night!"
He was rushing from them: "John! John!" cried Peggy, "throw down the pistols;" she ran after
him, and a second time fell at his feet.
He stopped a moment. His glaring eyes darted into hers. He flung the pistols far over her head;
kissed her cheek, and finally disappeared from his overwhelmed sister. A few bounds brought
him back to the poor Letty. She reclined, senseless, on the earth. He caught her up in his arms,
muttering—"And now no tie but that one which crime has tied, which hell binds close! No lot
but your lot, my victim! Here lowly you shall not lie, to be spurned and scorned of all, and I the
undoer! Come, I can yet sacrifice myself with you! The father's and mother's curse, the curse of
that church whose fallen minister I am, the shouts of the world, shall follow me; still we shall be
one! Come, Letty!" he ran with her to the post-chaise, lifted her into the seat his sister Peggy was
to have occupied; was whirled off on his road to Dublin, and seven years elapsed before any
positive tidings of John Nowlan reached his native place, with the exception of a circumstance
known only to the old clergyman, Mr. Kennedy, which that gentleman never divulged.