In the absence of Mrs. McNab, who was still sleeping away the effects of her late fatigues at the house of Mr. Dubois, the women of the neighborhood had arrayed Patrick McGrath, very properly, in a clean shirt of his accustomed wearing apparel, so arranging it that the folds of the red tunic could be lifted in order to expose to those who came to look upon him the wound he had received. There he lay, the rude smuggler, turned gently upon his side, one cheek pressing the pillow. Death had effaced from his countenance every trace of the stormy passions which raged in his breast when the fatal bullet struck him, and had sealed it with even a pleasant serenity.
Not so with the compeers of his race, who encircled the coffin. They scowled a fierce fury from beneath their bushy brows and muttered vows of vengeance. The rays of the sun, now rapidly declining, shot into their angry faces, the evening breeze shook out their matted locks of hair. A peculiar glow was cast over their wild, Erin features, now gleaming with unholy passion.
Mr. Norton bent for a few minutes over the coffin, while an expression of sorrow and deep commiseration overspread his countenance. Then he stepped upon a slight knoll of ground near by, raised himself to his full height and began to speak in a voice that rose above the crowd, clear, melodious, full and penetrating as the notes of a bugle. It thrilled on every ear and drew instant attention.
“Friends, brethren, fellow-sinners, one of our number has been suddenly struck down by the relentless hand of death, and we are here to pay the last honors to his mortal remains,—each and all to learn a solemn lesson while standing at the mouth of the grave. Brethren, we are to learn anew from this occasion that death often comes to man with the suddenness of the lightning flash. One moment before your comrade was struck by the fatal bullet, his eye glowed as keenly and his right arm was as powerful as yours. The next moment he was prostrate on the ground, with no power to move a single limb of his body, or utter a single sigh, or breathe a single prayer. He was dead”.
“I am ignorant whether he was prepared to make such a sudden transit from this world to that scene of judgment to which he has been summoned. You know, who were his friends and comrades, what his former course has been, and whether he was prepared to meet the Judge of all the earth. I know nothing of all this, but I fervently hope that at the last erring, awful moment, when he had just committed an act of transgression against the laws of his country, he had in his heart, and did, offer up this prayer, ’God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ We must leave him in the hands of the Almighty, who is both merciful and just. We cannot change his lot, but we have it in our power to profit by the circumstances of his death. Beholding how suddenly he has been cut off, in the prime and strength of his days, we may learn that we too may be called at some