“Die! die! Connor darlin’—my brave boy—my only son—why do you talk about death? What is it for? what is it about? Oh, for the love of God, tell us what did our boy do?”
“He is charged by Bartle Flanagan,” replied one of the constables, “with burning Bodagh Buie O’Brien’s haggard, because he refused him his daughter. He must now come with us to jail.”
“I see the whole plot,” said Connor, “and a deep one it is; the villain will do his worst; still I can’t but have dependence upon justice and my own innocence. I can’t but have dependence upon God, who knows my heart.”
Fardorougha stood amazed and confounded, looking from one to another like a man who felt incapable of comprehending all that had passed before him. His forehead, over which fell a few gray thin locks, assumed a deadly paleness, and his eye lost the piercing expression which usually characterized it. He threw his Cothamore several times over his shoulders, as he had been in the habit of doing when about to proceed after breakfast to his usual avocations, and as often laid it aside, without being at all conscious of what he did. His limbs appeared to get feeble, and his hands trembled as if he labored under palsy. In this mood he passed from one to another, sometimes seizing a constable by the arm with a hard, tremulous grip, and again suddenly letting go his hold of him without speaking. At length a singular transition from this state of mind became apparent; a gleam of wild exultation shot from his eye; his sallow and blasted features brightened; the Cothamore was buttoned under his chin with a rapid energy of manner evidently arising from the removal of some secret apprehension.
“Then,” he exclaimed, “it’s no robbery; it’s not robbery afther all; but how could it? there’s no money here; not a penny; an’ I’m belied, at any rate; for there’s not a poorer man in the barony—thank God, it’s not robbery!”
“Oh, Fardorougha,” said the wife, “don’t you see they’re goin’ to take him away from us?”
“Take who away from us?”
“Connor, your own Connor—our boy—the light of my heart—the light of his poor mother’s heart! Oh, Connor, Connor, what is it they’re goin’ to do to you?”
“No harm, mother, I trust; no harm—don’t be frightened.”
The old man put his open hands to his temples, which he pressed bitterly, and with all his force, for nearly half a minute. He had, in truth, been alarmed into the very worst mood of his habitual vice, apprehension concerning his money; and felt that nothing, except a powerful effort, could succeed in drawing his attention to the scene which was passing before him.
“What,” said he; “what is it that’s wrong wid Connor?”
“He must come to jail,” said one of the men, looking at him with surprise; “we have already stated the crime for which he stands committed.”