“To jail! Connor O’Donovan to jail!”
“It’s too true, father; Bartle Flanagan has sworn that I burned Mr. O’Brien’s haggard.”
“Connor, Connor,” said the old man, approaching him as he spoke, and putting his arms composedly about his neck, “Connor, my brave boy, my brave boy, it wasn’t you did it; ’twas I did it,” he added, turning to the constables; “lave him, lave him wid her, an’ take me in his place! Who would if I would not—who ought, I say—an’ I’ll do it—take me; I’ll go in his place.”
Connor looked down upon the old man, and as he saw his heart rent, and his reason absolutely tottering, a sense of the singular and devoted affection which he had ever borne him, overcame him, and with a full heart he dashed away a tear from his eye, and pressed his father to his breast.
“Mother,” said he; “this will kill the old man; it will kill him!”
“Fardorougha, a hagur,” said Ha wife, feeling it necessary to sustain him as much as possible, “don’t take it so much to heart, it won’t signify—Connor’s innocent, an’ no harm will happen to him!”
“But are you lavin’ us, Connor? are they—must they bring you to jail?”
“For a while, father; but I won’t be long there I hope.”
“It’s an unpleasant duty on our part,” said the principal of them; “still it’s one we must perform. Your father should lose no time in taking the proper steps for your defence.”
“And what are we to do?” asked the mother; “God knows the boy’s as innocent as I am.”
“Yes,” said Fardorougha, still upon dwelling the resolution he had made; “I’ll go stand for you, Connor; you won’t let them bring me instead of you.”
“That’s out of the question,” replied the constable; “the law suffers nothing of the kind to take place; but if you will be advised by me, lose no time in preparing to defend him. It would be unjust to disguise the matter from you, or to keep you ignorant of its being a case of life and death.”
“Life and death! what do you mane?” asked Fardorougha, staring vacantly at the last speaker.
“It’s painful to distress you; but if he’s found guilty, it’s death.”
“Death! hanged!” shrieked the old man, awaking as it were for the first time to a full perception of his son’s situation; “hanged! my boy hanged! Connor, Connor, don’t go from me!”
“I’ll die wid him,” said the mother; “I’ll die wid you, Connor. We couldn’t live widout him,” she added, addressing the strangers; “as God is in heaven we couldn’t! Oh Connor, Connor, avourneen, what is it that has come over us, and brought us to this sorrow?”
The mother’s grief then flowed on, accompanied by a burst of that unstudied, but pathetic eloquence, which in Ireland is frequently uttered in the tone of wail and lamentation peculiar to those who mourn over the dead.