“I expressed my obligations, but pleaded fatigue, which indeed I felt; and we consequently soon found ourselves in his father’s parlor, where I met a very venerable old gentleman, the Rev. Mr. Roche, the Roman Catholic pastor of the parish.”
We must here exercise the privilege, which, at the commencement of this correspondence, we assured our readers we should reserve to ourselves—we allude to the ability which we possess, from ampler and clearer sources of information—to throw into Mr. Easel’s correspondence, in their proper place, such incidents as he could not have possibly known, but which let in considerable light upon the progress of his narrative.
CHAPTER XVIII.—An Execution by Val’s Blood-Hounds
Cruel Consequences of Phil’s Plot Against Mary M’Loughlin—Dreadful Determination of her Brothers—An Oath of Blood—Father Roche’s Knowledge of Nature—Interview Between Mary and her Brothers—Influence and Triumph of Domestic Affection
The hellish and cowardly plot against Mary M’Loughlin’s reputation, and which the reader knows has already been planned and perpetrated by Poll Doolin and Phil M’Clutchy, was, as such vile calumnies mostly are, generally successful with the public. On her own immediate relations and family, who knew her firmness, candor, purity of heart, and self-respect, the foul slander had no effect whatsoever, at least in shaking their confidence in her sense of honor and discretion. With the greedy and brutal public, however, it was otherwise; and the discovery of this fact, which reached them in a thousand ways, it was that filled their hearts with such unparalleled distress, terrible agony, and that expanding spirit of revenge which is never satisfied, until it closes on him whose crime has given it birth. In truth,—and it is not to be wondered at—as how almost could it be otherwise?—the diabolical and cowardly crime of Phil M’Clutchy towards their sweet and unoffending sister, had changed her three brothers from men into so many savage and insatiable Frankensteins, resolved never to cease dogging his guilty steps, until their vengeance had slaked its burning thirst in his caitiff blood.
Immediately after the night of its occurrence, a change began to take place in the conduct and deportment of their general acquaintances. Visitors dropped off, some from actual delicacy, and an unaffected compassion, and others from that shrinking fear of moral contagion, which is always most loudly and severely expressed by the private sinner and hypocrite. Their sister’s conduct was, in fact, the topic of general discussion throughout the parish, and we need not say that such discussions usually were terminated—first in great compassion for the poor girl, and then as their virtue warmed, in as earnest denunciations of her guilt. To an indifferent person, however, without any prejudice either for or against her, it was really impossible, considering the satanic success with which the plot was managed, and the number of witnesses actually present at its accomplishment, to consider Miss M’Loughlin as free at least from gross and indefensible levity, and a most unjustifiable relaxation of female prudence, at a period when it was known she was actually engaged to another.