Another silence as deep and ominous as before.
“Very well,” said he, “you all agree. As for the sentence, it is a just one; none of you need throuble yourselves any farther about that; you may take my word for it, that it will be carried into execution. Are you willing it should?”
For the third time an unbroken silence. “That’s enough,” said he; “and now let us go quietly home.”
“It is not enough,” said a voice at the door; “let none depart without my permission, I command you;” and the words were no sooner uttered than the venerable Father Roche entered the house.
“Wretched and misguided men,” said he, to what a scene of blood and crime have I just now been an ear witness? Are you men who live under my ministry?—who have so often heard and attended to my sincere and earnest admonitions? I cannot think ye are, and yet, I see no face here that is unknown to me. Oh, think for a moment, reflect, if you can, upon what you have been doing!—planning the brutal, ungodly murder of two of your fellow creatures! And What makes the crime still more revolting, these two fellow creatures father and son. What constituted you judges over them? If they have oppressed you, and driven many of you to ruin and distress, and even to madness, yet, do you not know that there is a just God above to whom they must be accountable for the deeds done in the flesh? Are you to put yourselves in the place of the Almighty?—to snatch the sceptre of justice and judgment out of his hands, and take that awful office into your own, which belongs only to him? Are ye indeed mad, my friends? Do you not know that out of the multitude assembled here this moment there is not one of you whose life would not be justly forfeited to the law? not one. I paused at the half closed door before I entered, and was thus enabled to hear your awful, your guilty, your blasphemous proceedings. Justice belongs to God, and in mocking justice you mock the God of Justice.”
“But you don’t know, Father Roche,” said O’Regan, “you couldn’t imagine all the villany he and his son have been guilty of, and all they’ve made the people suffer.”
“I do know it too well; and these are grievances that God in his own good time will remove; but it is not for us to stain our souls with guilt in order to redress them. Now, my children, do you believe that I feel an interest in your welfare, and in your happiness hereafter? Do you believe this?”
“We do, sir; who feels for us as you do?”
“Well, then, will you give me a proof of this?”
“Name it, sir, name it.”
“I know you will,” continued the old man; “I know you will. Then, in the name of the merciful God, I implore, I entreat—and, if that will not do, then, as his servant, and the humble minister of his word and will—I command you to disavow the murderous purpose you have come to this night. Heavenly Father,” said he, looking up with all the fervor of sublime piety,