“Brave, dear, wild Una! nothing can ever quell your gaiety of heart.”
And Una kissed her merrily on the cheek.
So the oak door of the room again opened, and Shaeen, with his conductor, descended the stair. He walked with the scared boy in grim silence near half way down the wild hill-side toward Murroa, and then he stopped, and said in Irish——
“You never saw the fairies before, my fine fellow, and ’tisn’t often those who once set eyes on us return to tell it. Whoever comes nearer, night or day, than this stone,” and he tapped it with the end of his cane, “will never see his home again, for we’ll keep him till the day of judgment; goodnight, little gossoon—and away with you.”
So these young ladies, Alice and Una, with two old servants, by their father’s direction, had taken up their abode in a portion of that side of the old castle which overhung the glen; and with the furniture and hangings they had removed from their late residence, and with the aid of glass in the casements and some other indispensable repairs, and a thorough airing, they made the rooms they had selected just habitable, as a rude and temporary shelter.
The Priest’s Adventures in the Glen
At first, of course, they saw or heard little of their father. In general, however, they knew that his plan was to procure some employment in France, and to remove them there. Their present strange abode was only an adventure and an episode, and they believed that any day they might receive instructions to commence their journey.
After a little while the pursuit relaxed. The government, I believe, did not care, provided he did not obtrude himself, what became of him, or where he concealed himself. At all events, the local authorities showed no disposition to hunt him down. The young ladies’ charges on the little forfeited property were paid without any dispute, and no vexatious inquiries were raised as to what had become of the furniture and other personal property which had been carried away from the forfeited house.
The haunted reputation of the castle—for in those days, in matters of the marvellous, the oldest were children—secured the little family in the seclusion they coveted. Once, or sometimes twice a week, old Laurence, with a shaggy little pony, made a secret expedition to the city of Limerick, starting before dawn, and returning under the cover of the night, with his purchases. There was beside an occasional sly moonlit visit from the old parish priest, and a midnight mass in the old castle for the little outlawed congregation.
As the alarm and inquiry subsided, their father made them, now and then, a brief and stealthy visit. At first these were but of a night’s duration, and with great precaution; but gradually they were extended and less guarded. Still he was, as the phrase is in Munster, “on his keeping.” He had firearms always by his bed, and had arranged places of concealment in the castle in the event of a surprise. But no attempt nor any disposition to molest him appearing, he grew more at ease, if not more cheerful.