Poll, as she addressed her, spoke eagerly, and her voice trembled with what appeared to Mary to be deep and earnest agitation.
“Miss M’Loughlin,” she exclaimed, in a low, but tremulous voice, “I now forgive your father all—I forgive him and his—you need not forgive, for I never bore you ill-will—but I am bound to tell you that there’s danger over your father’s house and hearth this night. There is but one can save them, and he will. You must go into your own room, raise the window, and he will soon be there.”
“What is that, Poll,” said Mary, seriously alarmed, “I thought I heard the sound of low voices among the trees there. Who are they, or what is it?”
“Make haste,” said Poll, leading the way, “go round to your room and come to the window. It’s an awful business—there is people there in the clump—be quick, and when you come to the window raise it, and I’ll tell you more through it.”
Mary, in a state of great terror, felt that ignorant as she was of the dangers and difficulties by which she was surrounded, she had no other alternative than to be guided by Poll, who seemed to know the full extent of the mysterious circumstances to which she made such wild and startling allusions.
Poll immediately proceeded to Miss M’Loughlin’s bed-room, the window of which was soon opened by Mary herself, who with trembling hands raised it no higher than merely to allow the necessary communication between them.
“You don’t know, nor could you never suspect,” said Poll, “the struggles that Misther Phil is makin’ for you and yours. This night, maybe this hour, will show his friendship for your family. And now, Mary M’Loughlin, if you wish to have yourself and them safe—safe, I say, from his own father’s blood-hounds,” and this she hissed into her ear, squeezing her hand at the same time until it became painful—in a voice so low, earnest, and condensed, that it was scarcely in human nature to question the woman’s sincerity; “if,” she continued, “you wish to have them safe—and Harman safe, be guided by him, and let him manage it his own way. He will ask you to do nothing that is wrong or improper in itself; but as you love your own family—as you value Harman’s life—let him act according to his own way, for he knows them he has to deal with best.”
“Wo—wo—heavy and bitter betide you, Poll Doolin, if you are now deceiving me, or prompting mo to do anything that is improper! I will not act in this business blindfold—neither I nor my family are conscious of evil, and I shall certainly acquaint them this moment with the danger that is over them.”
“By the souls of the dead,” replied Poll, uttering the oath in Irish, “if you do what you say there will be blood shed this night—the blood, too, of the nearest and dearest to you! Do not be mad, I say, do not be mad!”
“May God guide me?” exclaimed the distressed girl, bursting into tears; “for of myself I know not how to act.”