He then staggered on homewards, half stupid from the strangulation scene, and very far removed from sobriety, in consequence of the copious libations of brandy he had swallowed in the course of the day and evening.
“Good night, Captain Phil,” cried Raymond after him; “when will you come to the hills to meet Bet M’Cracken again?—Ha ha there now, that’s one.”
“Poor infatuated young man,” exclaimed Father Roche; “if you were not so completely an object of contempt, you would surely be one of compassion. May God in his mercy pity and relieve the unfortunate people whose destinies, domestic comforts, and general happiness, are to such an extent in the keeping of men like you and your wretched father—men who breathe an atmosphere rank with prejudices of the worst description, and hot with a spirit of persecution that is as free from just policy as it is from common sense! When will this mad spirit of discord between Christians—mad, I call it, whether it poison religion, politics, or inflame religion—be banished by mutual charity, and true liberty, from our unhappy country? and when will the rulers of that country learn that most important secret, how to promote the happiness of the people without degradation on the one hand, or insolent triumph on the other?”
O’Regan’s return with the neighbors from the lower country, was somewhat, and yet not much, more protracted than Father Roche had expected. Considering everything, however, there was little time lost, for he had brought about a dozen and a half of the villagers with him. Having reached the cold bed where she lay, and where all her affections had dwelt, they placed her upon a door, and having covered her body with a cloak brought for the purpose, the little solitary procession directed their steps to that humble roof which had been, ever since Father Roche occupied it, a sheltering one to destitution, and poverty, and repentance.
As they began to move away, O’Regan said—
“Excuse me for a few minutes—I wish to go back to the spot where my father and brothers sleep; that surely is but natural, and I will soon overtake you.”
They then proceeded, and he remained at the graves of his relatives. He stood over them in silence for many minutes, keeping his face covered with his hands. At length he knelt down and sobbed out aloud.
“Father,” said he, “I have fulfilled my oath—Torley, I have fulfilled my oath—Brian, my sweet and fair-haired child—your brother, when none was left to do you justice but myself, has fulfilled his oath. Listen to me and rest quiet in your, graves. The oppressor is no more—the scourge of the poor—the persecutor—the robber that trampled upon all law—that laughed at justice—that gave vent to his bad passions, because he knew that there was neither law, nor justice in the country to protect people like you or to punish himself;—that oppressor—that scourge of the poor—that persecutor—that robber, is this night sent to his account by my hand—for by no other had such a right to fall.—Sleep quiet and contented in your graves my father—and Torley and poor Brian! As we had no law for us in this country—I was his law—I was his justice—and so may God prosper me, if there is not a heavy load taken off of my heart by the fate that has come on the villain by my hand!”