“It’s Corny that will be the first to knock your brains out,” replied Kathleen, “unless I can stop him. I must go now, and I’ll see what can be done.”
Kathleen would have departed without touching the gold; but I caught her by the wrist, collected it, and put it into her hand. “That’s not like a tithe proctor, at all events,” replied Kathleen; “but my heart aches, and my head swims, and what’s to be done I know not.” So saying, Kathleen quitted the room.
“Well,” thought I, after she had left the room, “at all events, I have not been on a wrong scent this time. Kathleen has proved to me that Fleta is the daughter of the late Sir William; and if I escape this snare, Melchior shall do her justice.” Pleased with my having so identified Melchior and Fleta, I fell into a train of thought, and for the first time forgot my perilous situation; but I was roused from my meditations by an exclamation from Kathleen. “No, no, Corny, nor any of ye—not now—and mother and me to witness it—it shall not be. Corny, hear me, as sure as blood’s drawn, and we up to see it, so sure does Corny O’Toole never touch this hand of mine.” A pause, and whispering followed, and again all appeared to be quiet. I unstrapped my portmanteau, took out my pistols, which were loaded, re-primed them, and remained quiet, determined to sell my life as dearly as possible.
It was more than half an hour before Kathleen returned; she looked pale and agitated. “Keep quiet, and do not think of resistance,” said she, “it is useless. I have told my mother all, and she believes you, and will risk her life to save him who has watched over the little girl whom she nursed; but keep quiet, we shall soon have them all out of the house. Corny dare not disobey me, and he will persuade the others.”
She then went out again, and did not return for nearly an hour, when she was accompanied by her mother.
“Kathleen has told me all, young sir,” said she, “and do what we can, we will; but we hardly know what to do. To go to the castle would be madness.”
“Yes,” replied I; “but cannot you give me one of your horses to return the way I came?”
“That was our intention; but I find that the O’Tooles have taken them all out of the stable to prevent me; and the house is watched. They will come at midnight and attack us, that I fully expect, and how to conceal you puzzles my poor head.”
“If they come, we can but persuade them that he has escaped,” replied Kathleen; “they will no longer watch the house, and he will then have some chance.”
“There is but one chance,” replied the mother, who took Kathleen aside, and whispered to her. Kathleen coloured to the forehead, and made no reply.
“If your mother bids you, Kathleen, there can be no harm.”
“Yes; but if Corny was—”