“Well, ye see, Pat McGrath lived back here, half a mile or so, an’ he’s got lots o’ cousins an’ friends ’ut live all along on this ’ere river, more or less, till ye git to Chartham, that’s sitooated to the mouth. Well, these fellers has been in the habit o’ gittin’ together and goin’ deown river and hirin’ once in a spell, some sort of old, cranky craft and goin’ skylarking reound to Eastport and Portland. Arter a while they’d cum back and smuggle in a cargo o’ somethin’ or ’nother from the States, and sheirk the dooties. Well, ’beout a week ago, there was a confounded old crittur ’ut lives halfway from here to Chartham, that informed on’ em. So they jes’ collected together—’beout twenty fellers—and mobbed him. And the old cuss fired into ’em and killed this ’ere man. So neow they’ve brought his body hum, and his wife’s a poor shiftless thing, and she’s been a hollerin’ and screechin’ ever sence she heerd of it”.
“Poor woman!” said Mr. Norton, greatly shocked.
“Well, I might as well tell yer the whole on’t”, said Micah, scratching his head. “Yer see, he was one o’ these Catholics, this Pat was, and the fellers went to the priest (he lives deown river, little better’n ten mile from here) in course to git him to dew what’s to be done to the funeral, and the tarnal old heathen wouldn’t dew it. He sed Pat had gone agin the law o’ the kentry, and he wouldn’t hev anything to do ’beout it. So the fellers brought the body along, and I swear, Pat McGrath shall hev a decent funeral, any way”.
“Where is the funeral to be?” asked Mr. Norton, after listening attentively to the account Micah had given him.
“O! deown here ’n the grove. The body’s to my heouse, and Maggie his wife’s there a screechin’. The graveyard’s close here, and so they didn’t carry him hum”.
“I’ll, go down and see this poor Maggie”, said Mr. Norton.
“Don’t, for the Lord’s sake. I’m eenermost crazy neow. The heouse is jammed full o’ folks, and there ain’t nothin, ready. You jes’ wait here, till I git things in shape and I’ll cum arter ye”.
Micah then departed to complete his arrangements, and Mr. Norton returned to his post, in the sick-room.
It was nearly five o’clock in the afternoon, before a messenger came to inform him that the hour of burial had arrived.
A strange scene presented itself to his view, as he approached the grove. A motley company, composed of the settlers of every grade and condition for miles around, had collected there. Men, women, and children in various costume—the scarlet and crimson shirt, or tunic, carrying it high above all other fashions—were standing, or walking among the trees, conversing upon the event that had brought them together.
As the missionary approached, the loud indignant voices subsided into a low murmur, and the people made way for him to reach the centre of the group.
Here he found the coffin, placed upon a pile of boards, entirely uncovered to the light of day and to the inspection of the people, who had, each in turn, gazed with curious eyes upon the lifeless clay it enclosed.