Our readers may recollect, that, at the close of that part of our tale which appeared in the preceding number, Dandy Duffy and Ned M’Cormick exchanged significant glances at each other, upon Flanagan’s having admitted unawares that the female he designed to take away on the following night was “the purtiest girl in the parish.” The truth was, he imagined at the moment that his designs were fully matured, and in the secret vanity, or rather, we should say, in the triumphant villainy of his heart, he allowed an expression’ to incautiously pass his lips which was nearly tantamount to an admission of Una’s name. The truth of this he instantly felt. But even had he not, by his own natural sagacity, perceived it, the look of mutual intelligence which his quick and suspicious eye observed to pass between Duffy and Ned M’Cormick would at once have convinced him. Una was not merely entitled to the compliment so covertly bestowed upon her extraordinary personal attractions, but in addition it might have been truly affirmed that neither that nor any adjoining parish could produce a female, in any rank, who could stand on a level with her in the character of a rival beauty. This was admitted by all who had ever seen the colleen dhan dhun, or “the purty brown girl,” as she was called, and it followed as a matter of course, that Flanagan’s words could imply no other than the Bodagh’s daughter.
It is unnecessary to say, that Flanagan,—knowing this as he did, could almost have bit a portion of his own tongue off as a punishment for its indiscretion. It was then too late, however, to efface the impression which the words were calculated to make, and he felt besides that he would only strengthen the suspicion by an over-anxiety to remove it. He, therefore, repeated his orders respecting the appointed meeting on the following night, although he had already resolved in his own mind to change the whole plan of his operations.
Such was the precaution with which this cowardly but accomplished miscreant proceeded towards the accomplishment of his purposes, and such was his apprehension lest the premature suspicion of a single individual might by contingent treachery defeat his design, or affect his personal safety. He had made up his mind to communicate the secret of his enterprise to none until the moment of its execution; and this being accomplished, his ultimate plans were laid, as he thought, with sufficient skill to baffle pursuit and defeat either the malice of his enemies or the vengeance of the law.
No sooner had they left the schoolhouse than the Dandy and M’Cormick immediately separated from the rest, in order to talk over the proceedings of the night, with a view to their suspicions of the “Captain.” They had not gone far, however, when they were overtaken by two others, who came up to them at a quick, or, if I may be allowed the expression, an earnest pace. The two latter were Rousin Redhead and his son, Corney.