When the afflicted widow saw the full extent of her loss, she clasped her hands together, and rose up with something of a hasty movement. She looked about the miserable cabin for a moment, and then peered into the face of every one in the room—all of whom, with the exception of Raymond, were in tears. She then pressed her temples, as if striving to recollect what had happened—sat down again beside her husband and child, and to their astonishment began to sing an old and melancholy Irish air, in a voice whose wild sweetness was in singular keeping with its mournful spirit.
To the bystanders this was more affecting a thousand times than the most vehement and outrageous grief. Father Roche, however, who had had a much more comprehensive experience than his companion, knew, or at least hoped that it would not last long.
Several of the neighbors, having seen the dead body of the constable borne away, suspected that something extraordinary had occurred on the mountain, and consequently came flocking to the cabin, anxious to know the truth. By this means, their acquaintances were brought about them—aid in every shape, as far as it could be afforded, was administered, and in a short time they had a little stock of meal, butter, milk, candles, and such other simple comforts as their poor friends and neighbors had to bestow. Such is the usual kindness of the Irish people to each other in moments of destitution and sorrow. Nothing, on the present occasion, could surpass their anxiety in ascertaining the wants of this unhappy family: and in such circumstances it is that the honest prompting of the humble heart, and its sincere participation in the calamities of its kindred poor, are known to shine forth with a lustre, which nothing but its distance from the observation of the great, or their own wilful blindness to it, could prevent it from being seen and appreciated as it ought.
Having seen her surrounded by friends and neighbors, Father Roche, after first offering as far as he thought he could reasonably attempt it, some kind advice and consolation, prepared to take his departure with Harman, leaving Raymond behind them, who indeed refused to go. “No,” said he, “I can feed Dickey here—but sure they’ll want me to run messages—I’m active and soople, an I’ll go to every place, for the widow can’t. But tell me, is the purty boy, the fair haired boy asleep, or what?—tell me?”
“Why do you ask, Raymond?” said Father Rocche.
“Bekase I love him,” replied Raymond, “and I hope he’ll waken! I would like to see him kiss his father again—but I’m afeared somehow I never will. If he awakens I’ll give him the cock any how—bad luck to me but I will.”
“Hush,” said the priest, whilst a tear started to his eye at this most artless exhibition of affection for the child—“don’t swear, Raymond. The sweet boy will never waken in this world; but he will in heaven, where he is awake already, and where you will see him again.”