“Very well,” said the woman, “between you, I suppose, you will let the priest, M’Cabe have him; and then it will be said he died a Papish.”
“What’s that?” inquired Mr. Lucre, with an interest which he could not conceal; “what has M’Cabe to do with him?”
“Why,”, returned the woman, “he has made him a Papish, but I want him to die a True Blue, and not shame the family.”
“I shall attend,” said Lucre; “I shall lose no time in attending. What’s your husband’s name?”
“Bob Beatty, sir.”
“Oh, yes, he is subject to epilepsy.”
“The same, sir.”
She then gave him directions to find the house, and left him making very earnest and rapid preparations to do what he had not done for many a long year—attend a death-bed; and truly his absence was no loss.
In the meantime, Father M’Cabe having heard an account of Bob’s state, and that the minister had been sent for, was at once upon the alert, and lost not a moment in repairing to his house. So very eager, indeed, were these gentlemen, and so equal their speed, that they met at the cross-roads, one of which turned to Bob’s house. In the meantime, we may as well inform our readers here, that Bob himself had, in his wife’s presence, privately sent for Father Roche.
Each instantly suspected the object of the other, and determined in his own mind, if possible, to frustrate it.
“So, sir,” said the priest, “you are on your way to Bob Beatty’s, who is, as you know, one of my flock. But how do you expect to get through the business, Mr. Lucre, seeing that you are so long out of practice?”
“Bob Beatty was never, properly speaking, one of your flock, Mr. M’Cabe. I must beg leave to ride forward, sir, and leave you to your Christian meditations. One interview with you is enough for any man.”
“Faith, but I love you too well to part with you so easily,” said the priest, spurring on his horse, “cheek by jowl—and a beautiful one you have—will I ride with you, my worthy epicure; and, what is more, I’ll anoint Bob Beatty before your eyes.”
“And, perhaps, perform another miracle,” replied Mr. Lucre, bitterly.
“Ay will, if it be necessary,” said the priest; “but I do most solemnly assure you that by far the most brilliant miracle of modern days is to find the Rev. Phineas Lucre at a sick-bed. Depend upon it, however, if Beatty had not turned Catholic, he might die like a dog for the same Mr. Lucre.”
“I will not abstract the last shilling from his pocket for the unction of superstition, at all events.”
“Not you, faith; you’ll charge him nothing I grant, and right glad am I to find that you know the value of your services. You forget, however, that my flock pay you well for doing this nothing—that is, for discharging your duty—notwithstanding.”
Both now pushed on at a rapid rate, growling at each other as they went along. On getting into the fields they increased their speed; and as the peasantry of both religions were apprised of the circumstances connected with Bob’s complaint and conversion, each party cheered on their own champion.