“He dare not,” replied the mother; “and now put this light out, and do you get into bed, sir, with your clothes on.” They led me to a small bedroom, a miserable affair; but in that part of the country considered respectable. “Lie down there,” said the mother, “and wait till we call you.” They took the light away, and left me to myself and my own reflections, which were anything but pleasant. I lay awake, it might be for two hours, when I heard the sound of feet, and then a whispering under the window, and shortly afterwards a loud knocking at the door, which they were attempting to burst open. Every moment I expected that it would yield to the violence which was made use of, when the mother came down half-dressed, with a light in her hand, hastened to me, and desired me to follow her. I did so, and before she left my room, she threw the window wide open. She led me up a sort of half-stairs, half-ladder, to a small room, where I found Kathleen sitting up in her bed, and half-dressed. “O mother! mother!” cried Kathleen.
“I bid ye do it, child,” replied the mother, desiring me to creep into her daughter’s bed, and cover myself up on the side next the wall.
“Let me put on more clothes, mother.”
“No, no, if you do, they will suspect, and will not hesitate to search. Your mother bids you.”
The poor girl was burning with shame and confusion.
“Nay,” replied I, “if Kathleen does not wish it, I will not buy my safety at the expense of her feelings.”
“Yes, yes,” replied Kathleen, “I don’t mind now; those words of yours are sufficient. Come in, quick.”
Petticoat interest prevails,
and I escape; but I put my head into
the lion’s den.
There was no time for apology, and stepping over Kathleen, I buried myself under the clothes by her side. The mother then hastened downstairs, and arrived at the door just as they had succeeded in forcing it open, when in pounced a dozen men armed, with their faces blackened. “Holy Jesus! what is it that you want?” screamed the landlady.
“The blood of the tithe proctor, and that’s what we’ll have,” replied the O’Tooles.
“Not in my house—not in my house!” cried she. “Take him away, at all events; promise me to take him away.”
“So we will, honey darlint; we’ll take him out of your sight, and out of your hearing too, only show us where he may be.”
“He’s sleeping,” replied the mother, pointing to the door of the bedroom, where I had been lying down.
The party took the light from her hand, and went into the room, where they perceived the bed empty and the window open. “Devil a bit of a proctor here, anyhow,” cried one of them, “and the window open. He’s off—hurrah! my lads, he can’t be far.”
“By the powers! it’s just my opinion, Mrs M’Shane,” replied the elder O’Toole, “that he’s not quite so far off; so with your lave, or by your lave, or without your lave, we’ll just have a look over the premises.”