Citation
In the hush of the evening hour

Material Information

Title:
In the hush of the evening hour
Creator:
Bampfylde, Marcia
Eland, Henry S ( Publisher )
Wells Gardner, Darton & Co ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
London
Exeter
Publisher:
Wells Gardner, Darton & Co.
Henry S. Eland
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
[4], 102 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 19 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Prayer -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Love -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Marriage -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Chivalry -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Revenge -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Fathers and daughters -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Family -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Prisoners -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
War -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Children and death -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1892
Genre:
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
England -- Exeter
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Frontispiece printed in blue ink.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Marcia Bampfylde.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026582508 ( ALEPH )
ALG2048 ( NOTIS )
42396606 ( OCLC )

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IN THE

Hush of the Evening Bour

BY THE

HON. MARCIA BAMPFYLDE.

AUTHOR OF ‘‘MAY HAMILTON.”

LONDON :
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & Co,,
PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS,
EXETER: HENRY S. ELAND.
1892.









HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

. A LEGEND.

CHAPTER I...

SIN the western coast of the Emerald
Isle, once stood an old ruin which,
from its appearance, must have been
Z long years before, a building of con-
siderable dimensions. Sombre and grim looked
the dark ivy-clad buttresses, giving an idea both of
strength and of ferocity, as if the hand had been of
iron which had planned and reared the massive
pile. The site chosen was a good one. Noble
woods rose like protecting walls on the landward
side, the mighty ocean washed its foundations on
the other, while in the distance may be seen a soft
blue range of hills. It was a fertile well-watered
part of the country, and in summer time the eye
wandered with pleasure over the bright green
meadows, all aglow with the many tinted flowers.





2 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

Very charming, too, was it on days when the sun
beat fiercely down on the open country, to wander
through the magnificent woods with the sweet
music of the feathered tribes sounding in one’s ears,
coupled with the distant roar of the sea as the
waves broke upon the shore.. Lovely was the
legend connected with this spot! in keeping with
the weird beauty of the ruin, and not out of
harmony with the peaceful smiling landscape.

What was this legend ?

What was the lovely pathetic heartr ending song,
that in the hush of the evening hour, rang like a
wail through the dark forest ?

The chirping of the grasshoppers, the singing of
the crickets, the hoot of the owl, the stirring of
the branches by the summer breeze, and the
monotonous ebb and flow of the tide; all these
sounds were audible to the ear, but what was that
other sound borne on the gentle breeze—faint—
very faint at first—but gradually rising higher and
higher, till it swelled into a song so thrilling, so
powerful, so unspeakably mournful, and yet so
beautiful, that those who keard it could scarce
restrain their tears ? Strangely moving was the
sound! It seemed as if it rose from the depths of
the forest, lingered fora space among the ruins, as
if caressing a much loved spot, and then was borne
on the wings of the wind, on-—on—higher and ever
higher, till the strain died away in the starlit sky.



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 3

Will vou listen to a tale of centuries ago ?

Loud were the sounds of feasting and of mirth
in the halls of the chief of Fitzpatrick. They were
keeping high holiday in the stately castle, for was
not young Kilchonan of Kilchonan, as gallant and
perfect a chief as ever drew sword or handled lance,
to be betrothed to sweet Effie with the raven locks,
the gentle daughter of the haughty sire, whose very
name inspired as much fear as he of the lion heart
did to the enemies of the Cross. The shades of
evening were drawing on ere the banquet ter-
minated, and then Fitzpatrick rose, and lifting his
goblet said :

Friends, retainers, all, let us drink to the health
of my noble kinsman, and future son-in-law, who
has in many a hard-fought field proved himself
worthy of the noble race from which he springs.

Hearty and prolonged were the cheers with which
the guests responded to thie call, and then the lovely
maiden, whose nuptials were so soon to be cele-
brated, was honoured in like manner by the jovial
company.

After which the haughty chief called for music
wherewith to beguile the evening hours, and the
musicians fiddled away, and many a song was sung,
and many a story told in verse. Presently the
chief of Kilchonan asked. with bashful mien and



4 1N THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

trembling tones, if Fitzpatrick’s daughter—his
future bride—whose voice with its sweet and thril-
ling notes moved all hearts, would charm those
present with its sound.

Thus appealed to, the maiden advanced and with
heightened colour, awed by so large a gathering of
strangers, glanced round as if for support.

“ What shall I sing?” She murmured softly.

“ The song of love,” whispered a deep voice in
her ear.

“With a start she turned and saw the person
who had heard and answered her almost inaudible
question. He was an old man, dressed in a manner
more befitting a pilgrim, than a guest in the chief
of Fitzpatrick’s hall, and had entered unperceived.
Kilchonan drew the host’s attention to this strange
unbidden visitor.

“ What ho friend!” cried the chief, “how comest
thou hither, and with what intent dost thou thrust
thy-self uninvited into my presence? Methinks in
that doleful garb of thine thou cuttest but a sorry
figure within my festive castle. Speak then grey-
beard! art thou a seer, and pretendest thou to read
the future? Canst thou tell men’s fortunes, and in
the hope of gaining food and lodging art come to
tell me mine, ay, and my daughter’s and my gallant
kinsman’s? The prosperity and glory of ny noble
house must ever be a theme congenial to a minstrel’s
tongue-—for doubtless thy fingers are not strangers



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 5

to the harp. Sing then, and from thy old lips let
Kilchonan learn what honour hath been done him
by his winning thus my only child, and then mayest
thou show forth the future glories of Fitzpatrick’s
line.”

But the old man shook his head.

“ Alas! alas! my lord, in the future can I pro-
mise neither wealth nor honour to thy illustrious
house, naught but ruin and decay awaits Fitz-
patrick’s race. Thy very name will be forgotten or
live only in thy child, and as for thy kinsman of
Kilchonan, he shall be for a by-word and a curse ”—

“ Hold!” shouted the baron, his eyes ablaze with
fury, “arrest this insolent vagabond who has dared
. to address me thus in my ancestral home, and talk
to me and mine of ruin and disgrace.”

A movement was made by the retainers to seize
the offender, while Effie raised her hand beseechingly
as if petitioning for his pardon; but the old man
unheeding the angry looks and words of Fitzpatrick,
continued as if talking to himself—

“And if I did discourse of rained hopes and
fallen fortunes, what said I but the truth? What
is there in this world that can last for ever—that
can outlive time ? Nought, nought; but stay,” and
the speaker’s voice sank into a whisper, “one thing
can, but that one thing is not, and never will be
thine, chief of Fitzpatrick.” Then raising his voice
he thus addressed the furious host :—



6 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“No minstrel’s song or poet’s verse shall cele-
brate thy praises. The doughty deeds of which
thou boastest will perish with thee. Thy stately
halls will echo to no sound of human life or joy;
the owl and the bat will be its only tenants. Yet,
declared I not that one thing was imperishable—
that one sound shall be heard as long as time shall
last—heard in the twilight—heard in the darkness—
heard at the dawn? Centuries hence this castle’s
legend shall be told.” The speaker stopped abruptly,
There was something in his manner so mysterious,
so solemn, that involuntarily the bold Fitzpatrick
felt awed, and he repeated—-

“Legend! what legend shall attach itself to
these walls?”

“Bid thy daughter sing the song of which I
spoke to her erewhile, and thou shalt hear, if indeed
thou hast ears to hear.” Then in a voice whose
deep pathos and rare beauty thrilled through all
hearts, the maiden sang, but her song was not of
high born dames nor chivalrous knights, nor of a
warrior’s mighty exploits, nor of a conqueror's
triumph. No, she sang of the power of love, of its
loveliness, its holiness, its deathlessness, and the
strength of her voice was such, that it could be
heard fat around. Sometimes the sound seemed
to descend to the sea, and die away in the roar of
the billows ; sometimes it seemed to pierce through
the very rooftree and lose itself in the invisible ;



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. f 7

sometimes it sounded more like a wail than a song,
and a wail, so plaintive, that the greatest human
sound could not equal it in sadness; and then
again its strains became so joyous, that the greatest
human joy could not equal it in happiness.

As the last notes died away, the old man raised
his hand, and laying it gently on the maiden’s head,
said—

“ Hast ¢kow understood the meaning of this song,
my child?”

“* Methinks, my father, the wail is for the presence
of evil, the gladness for the triumph of good; it
penetrates the earth, the sea, and the sky, for its
power no boundary limits, its strength no bars
confine,”

“Tis well,” the aged pilgrim said. “So I bia
thee sing this song on summer evenings, Sing it
on starry nights. Let it be heard above the noise
of the tempest-tossed sea. Let it be heard in
the day of rejoicing. Let it be heard in the hour
of mourning. Let it be heard in the chamber
of sickness, and in the moment of death.”

Not a sound was audible in the vast hall as the
aged pilgrim pronounced these words. Everyone
from the fierce Fitzpatrick downwards stood as if
spell-bound, and it was not till some minutes after
the old man, waving his hand in token of adieu,
had disappeared, that the host recovered his power
of speech,



8 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Faith,” exclaimed he, “ I think that old magician
has bewitched us all with his absurd propheices.”

“Cheer up girl,” turning to his daughter, “give
us a tune now of a livelier sort, one that will make
us laugh, come!”

But Effie, in answer, shook her head only, and
was about to make an effort to withdraw from the
festive scene, when the clatter of horses’ hoofs were
heard.

“Go see who it is and what he wants with us,”
said Fitzpatrick imperiously..

The order was quickly obeyed, and in a few
minutes the horseman appeared.

Kilchonan instantly recognised his oldest and
most valued servant.

i Why Oscar!” exclaimed the young chief,
“what brings thee here ?”

“That brings me here which will bring thee
back,” answered the old man testily. ‘‘ Thou hast
been a somewhat long time away, and there are
those who have not failed to profit by thy de-
parture. Brien O’Bryan has levied a force, and is
preparing to march against thee. Added to this,
some of thy men incensed at thy frequent, and
long absences, and terrified also of the blood-
thirsty tyrant who, as thou well knowest, spares
neither youth nor age in his marauding excursions,
have joined him hoping thus to keep a roof over
their heads and save the lives of their families.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR, “9

“The traitors!” exclaimed Kilchonan, “1. will
soon shew them who is their master and to. whom
they owe allegiance ; but on what pretext has this
scoundrel, O’Bryan, taken up arms against me, and
seduced my retainers ?”

“He says thy people have been pillaging his
territory, and therefore he will lay waste thine with
fire and sword. But by my faith, I believe it is
false ; his love of plunder is well-known, and he is
always said to be as blood-thirsty as a wolf.
Return! return! then, my lord, thy presence only
will help to check the invader.”

“Stay kinsman,” interposed Fitzpatrick, as the
young man starting up, called loudly for his horse,
“Twill aid thee with a force to crush this villain.
I have had dealings with him of old, and bear him
no good will. Let him learn.now what fate awaits
the man who dares to attack, and rob one, in
whose veins flows the blood of Fitzpatrick. Go
back,” he added, addressing himself to Oscar, who
stood anxiously awaiting Kilchonan’s commands,
“and say that thy master is at hand with a force
more than sufficient to crush the invader ; and then
add that the chief of Fitzpatrick and a goodly
show of vassals are marching at his side.”

“My heartfelt thanks a thousand times,” ex-
claimed Kilchonan, warmly pressing his future
father-in-law’s hand.





CHAPTER II.

= JHE hurried preparations for speedy
departure now occupied Fitzpatrick
and his followers to the exclusion



M3} of everything else. Alike forgotten
were the pilgrim and his gloomy obscure sayings,
forgotten, that is by all but one, and that one could
take no part in the general bustle, could stand by
only and silently observe,

While Oscar was retailing his bad news, Effie
leant against a corner of the table with bowed head
and clasped hands, not daring to interrupt the
speaker. It was not that she was unaccustomed to
hear of war and rumours of war, but she knew the
character Brien O'Bryan bore—a character in which
vindictiveness and cruelty were prominent traits,
and though she had every confidence in her father's
power to aid, yet even with this aid, the Gerce war-
like O’Bryan was a formidable adversary for her
lover to face, and she could not conceal her anxiety
at the prospects of this dangerous expedition.





IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. II

“ How now child!” exclaimed Fitzpatrick catch-
ing sight of her pale face, woe begone countenance,
“ what ails thee that thou lookest the colour of a
spectre ?”

“Tt was the thought of Kilchonan, and of thee
my father going forth to this dread encounter.”

“Dread encounter,” laughed Fitzpatrick scorn-
fully, “the idea of a combat to affect thee!
Wouldest thou have thy future husband but a
carpet knight, and tie him for ever to thy apron
strings? Go to girl! Such folly is unworthy of a
daughter of Fitzpatrick’s house.”

“Nay, nay,” interrupted Kilchonan, who had
that moment approached and heard what was
passing, “chide her not. It is but excess of affec-
tion that makes her so apprehensive, and at which
I, for one, am deeply flattered. She rates me
indeed above my worth, but should I blame her
for it? Effie,’ he whispered, gently taking her
hand, “come this way, I would speak with thee a
moment.”

The maiden silently acquiesced and, as he led
her from the hall Kilchonan saw that her eyes
were full of ‘tears.

It was a lovely summer evening, not a cloud to
pe seen; all around looked so beautiful, so peaceful,
it seemed hard to believe there was such a thing as
war! The sea lay calm as a rippling lake, and the
glorious hues of the setting sun threw a golden



12 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

light on the smooth waters and lit up the faces of
the lovers as they came down the grassy slope to
the sea shore. For a space neither spoke. There
was an undefined feeling of sadness in both their
hearts. Kilchonan’s departure on such an errand
was indeed in those days no uncommon thing, but
Effie felt, though she could not tell why, as if they
were bidding each other farewell for ever. It.was
Kilchonan who at last broke the silence.

“Effie, Mavoureen; why art theu so sad ?”

Effie raised her sweet young face, and in a
quivering tone replied—

“ Art thou not going to encounter a terrible foe ?
Many are the tales I have heard of the strength
and ferocity of the O’Bryan. Dost thou not re-
member when he fell on Q’Shannon and his men,
how, after cruelly torturing them, he put them to
death, and then set fire to the castle of the hapless
chief, and razed to the ground all the dwellings of
his retainers, leaving weak women, and defenceless
children to perish by the roadside of cold and star-
vation? and now ¢#ow art to meet this monster, he
deserves not the name of man. If.he remains
victor in that awful struggle—for awful it will
surely be, knowing as I do thy fiery valour and
my father’s fierce temper—and thou falles: into his
hands—alive! O my God! I tremble to think
of what would be thy fate and—mine, for every
blow that. fell on thy head would recoil on mine,



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 13

and the sword that pierced thy heart would pene-
trate mine also; and yet thou askest me—where-.
fore am I sad?”

“Nay, nay, my own fair Effie, thou art’ dis-’
tressing. thyself above measure. I shall return;
thou knowest how strong a force thy father can
bring with him, and I, for my part, can muster no
small number. There are others, too, who may fly
to my aid, for O'Bryan is universally execrated,
and none besides his immediate followers will move
a finger to help him.”

“Yes, there is truth in what thou sayest, and
well I know I am but a weak and foolish girl to”
torment myself and thee with these. cowardly
fears. But it is not so much thy bodily safety
that fills me with such chill forebodings as—’

“ As what ?” asked Kilchonan, softly.

“ As,” with a convulsive sob she could no longer
repress, “the fear of losing thee, not indeed by
death, but in a way infinitely more terrible than
death—compared to which death would be mer-
ciful—” she paused unable to find utterance,

“What in heaven’s name meanest thou, my
Effie?”

“J mean,” she answered, stifling with difficulty
her emotion, “that thou mightest forget me, thou
mightest learn to love another, ay, thou mightest
wed another.”

“Now by my faith,” exclaimed Kilchonan,



I4 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

what have I done that thou shouldest so malign
me in thy strength?”

“Effie, Mavoureen! say, say, what vile traitor
has dared to whisper so foul treason in thine ear.
Speak, child!” and the young man with flashing
eye and dilating nostrils clutched fiercely at his
sword.

An expression, both of relief and of assurance,
passed over the maiden’s face.

“My darling, my own noble Kilchoaan, forgive
me, forget that I have uttered such wicked words,
harboured such base thoughts. I see now how
true, how good thou art, and I O! how I
have insulted thee! But pardon me, for thou
knowest how great is my love for thee, how I
dream of thee, and thou only art in my waking
thoughts ; and just because my affection is so
deep, is it that I am beset with so many foolish



fears.”

“My Effie, my own little Effie, I beseech thee
stay thy tears or thou wilt surely break that
foolish, loving heart of thine. Tell me truly,
child, those thoughts by which thou hast so
deeply injured me were not awakened by the
poisonous suggestions of another, but were truly
the print of thy own morbid imagination ?”

“ Even so, but say thou wilt think no more of
my wild words. Whisper to me ere thou goest
that thou lovest me as I love thee.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 5

There was a strange passionate tenderness in
Effie’s voice which thrilled powerfully through her
companion.

“ Needest thou,’ he answered, “that I should
assure thee of that which thy own heart must
so well know? Thou sayest thou lovest me, thou
askest me to tell thee that my love equals thine.
But I cannot, for our love is not equal in passion,
in intensity, in tenderness. Mine surpasses thine,
inasmuch as I have never. doubted thee O}
Efe! can you doubt me?”

“No, no, no,” she cried, “I do not, I will not,
I cannot. But when wilt thou come back to thy
faithful and loving Effie.”

“Courage Mavoureen! Such shrinking fears are
not sweet for a warrior’s daughter, and a warrior’s
—wife. Listen, child, I go hence now to fight for

_my honoured house, and for my father’s proud

name. Thine image will always be present to my
eyes, I shall behold it amid the din of the battle-
field, in the glorious hour of victory, and (if fortune
smiles not on my arms) in the terrible moment of
defeat. If I die, I die in fighting for my father’s
house, and thou wilt know that my last thought on
earth was of thee ; the last word I uttered was thy
name, But if I escape and return once more to
thy dear side; if I crush my dastardly foe and
prove to all men that I forget not what blood runs
in my veins, then,’ and a smile came over the



16 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

speaker’s face; “shall I have one boon to ask. of
thee, gentle lady, which none but thou canst
grant.”

« Ask what thou wilt, well dost thou know thou
wilt not be refused.”

“T shall ask thee, then, to be my own fair
bride!”

Awhile, Kilchonan lingered on the heights over-
looxing the sea-shore. Beautiful was the scene to
his eyes, but not so beautiful as was the sound that
reached his ears, for the sweet rich voice of her
whom he loved was singing to the moon-lit waves,
but the last note he heard as he left Fitzpatrick’s
halls seemed in its deep melancholy, in its bitter
wail, in its pathetic beauty to be bidding him an
everlasting farewell. The young chief lifted his
cap—

“Pray God.I come back safely to thee, my
Effie, my darling, my own fair bride! O! sweet
foolish child with thy wondrous gift of song! how
couldest thou, for one moment, think that I shall
ever love any but thee ?”









CHAPTER III.

E shades of night were drawing on ;
and one by one, the starry sentinels
on high, were silently taking their
accustomed places; when the fierce
encounter between C’Bryan and Kilchonan was
brought to a close. Ghastly was the scene of
conflict! the dead and the wounded lay strewn
around in melancholy confusion. Livid agonised
faces were upturned to the evening sky, contrasting
strangely with the unutterable peace, and loveli-
ness of the star-lit vault above. The hoarse cries
for water, the faint gasps of poor sufferers, as grim
death claimed them, the deep moans of those in
the last extremity of torture, all this fell pain-
fully on the listening ear.

As the gentle daughter of Fitzpatrick had pre-
dicted, the fight had been a most obstinate and
bloody one, and had ended alas! in the defeat
of Kilchonan, and in the death of Fitzpatrick.
Before the sun of that fatal day set, Effie was
an orphan, and the prophecy of the aged minstrel,

Cc





18 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

concerning the destruction of Fitzpatrick’s castle,
seemed in a fair way to be realised.

And Kilchonan! what of him? he was not
indeed dead, but wounded, and a prisoner !

After the battle, O’Bryan gave orders that all
captives of note were to be taken alive to his
castle, and there securely immured. Such was
Kilchonan’s fate. He was flung, feverish and
suffering, into a dark cell, and there—his fierce
gaolers having seen to all the bolts and bars, and
indulged in some scurrilous jests at his expense—
left to his own reflections. These were not of a
pleasant nature. His kinsman dead, his followers
dispersed, a relentless enemy ravaging probably
both his lands and those of Fitzpatrick; and—
bitterest thought of all—Effie unprotected and at
the mercy of the conqueror. The mere thought
of this was insupportable ; and Kilchonan, in his
rage and despair, dashed himself against the door
of his prison; but he might as well have tried to
soften the hearts of O’Bryan and his men, as to
break the bars of his dungeon. Soon, too, the
pain of his wound compelled him to desist from
further exertion, and throwing himself on the
ground, he renounced all hope of succour.

Meantime, this young chief’s fate had been the
subject of serious thought to O’Bryan. His first
impulse was to slay him, and take his lands, but
upon reflection he hesitated, By the death of



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 19

Fitzpatrick, Kilchonan, after Effie (supposing her
claim was taken into account, which, being a
woman, was in those days doubtful) was heir to
his kinsman; and, therefore, were he at liberty,
he would be in possession, not only of his own
lands, but also of all Fitzpatrick’s. Now the wily
O’Bryan was fully aware of the many enemies
that surrounded him, and he doubted his being
allowed to hold in peace the vast possessions of
the two chiefs. It, therefore, occurred to him
whether it would not be better to release Kil-
chonan and restore him his domains, including
those of his kinsman, on condition of his espous-
ing Ethna, O’Bryan’s daughter and only child, and
thus entering into an alliance with his captor.
Q’Bryan was not ignorant of the proposed mar-
riage between Kilchonan and Effie; but the choice
of life, liberty, and wealth on the one hand, and
a cruel death on the’ other, would be, he thought,
more than sufficient to induce the young chief to
break his faith with his betrothed. In any case,
as O'Bryan would point out to him, he would
never now wed the girl; as if he refused com-
pliance with the conqueror’s conditions, his life
would pay the forfeit. ,

A few days later, O'Bryan gave orders for a
general slaughter of all the prisoners, with the
exception of Kilchonan ; and in order that his
intended proposals might meet with greater favour .-



20 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

from the young chief, he caused him to see the
unfortunate captives put to death; and having
thus, as he considered, disposed Kilchonan’s mind
towards him, O’Bryan ordered him to be brought
into his presence.

Dejected, pale, with bowed head, and slow step,
it would have been difficult to recognise in the
Kilchonan, who was led a prisoner into O’Bryan’s
hall, the brilliant young chief who had feasted so
merrily at the banquet of the lord Fitzpatrick ;
who had stood with his gentle cousin on the shore
of the sounding sea, and laughed at her fears when
she expressed doubts of the favourable issue of
the fight ; who had ridden forth, in all the pride
of youth and strength, from his kinsman’s home,
buoyed up with such high hopes, and with the
notes of Effie’s song ringing in his ears. Yet,
this was only a few days ago—but what changes
in this short time !

“Young man!” said O'Bryan, in his deep voice,
“JT have forborne to take thy life with those of
thy comrades, because thy youth and misfortune
move me with pity. Doubtless, thou hast had evil
counsellers about thee—notably thy late kinsman,
Fitzpatrick, always of a savage and grasping
nature—who withheld from thee the true cause
of my righteous anger. Tor, that a simple act
of justice like mine in giving thieves their deserts,
granting they were dwellers on thy territory, could



iN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 21

surely meet with nought but gratitude, saving thee,
as I did the trouble of ending thyself the lives
of these wretches. My heart’s desire is to dwell
in peace with all mankind ; and beyond measure
was I astonished and grieved, when I heard of
thy sudden, and ill-advised march against me.
What sayest thou in defence of that rash-step ?
which has caused so many of thy brave followers
—and alas! of mine also—to find an early grave!”

Kilchonan, at this question, raised his head with
a gesture of ‘surprise, and an expression, of such
haughty disdain on his handsome features, which
showed, notwithstanding the change in his appear:
ance, his courage was unabated.

“‘ This war, as thou well knowest, was not sought
by me. Not until thou hadst plundered my men
and wasted my land, did I dream of attacking
thee ; what I have done has been done in self-
defence, and in no aggressive spirit. Thou sayest
thy heart’s wish is to dwell in peace with all man-
kind, methinks thou art in no hurry to gratify thy
heart’s most laudable desire.”

The manner in which he uttered those words
were not unworthy of Kilchonan’s race.

“So ho! young man! thou thinkest it meet to
jest with me? But have a care, it would be well
for thy father’s son to remember where, and what
he is, and with whom he is conversing.”

Kilchonan’s eyes flashed.



22 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Speakest thou to me thus,” he cried, indig-
nantly ; “thinkest thou to terrify me by thy
menaces into declaring that thy quarrel was a
just one; that thou wast in the right, and my
poor kinsman and I in the wrong; that thou
hast the least idea of what truth, and honour,
and justice means?”

Kilchonan got no further. Uttering a savage
cry of rage, followed by a tremendous oath,
Q’Bryan rushed at his prisoner, hurled him to
the ground, and held his dagger to Kilchonan’s
throat. “Now,” he hissed rather than spoke,
“dost thou still call me a wicked and blood-
thirsty tyrant?”

“ Assuredly,” was the young chief’s calm reply ;
for I esteem that man wicked who takes that,
which, next to my honour, is to me most precious ;
and thou leavest me no room to doubt that thou
thirstest for my blood ; and truly may name thee
tyrant, who hesitates not to slay a wounded and:
defenceless man.”

O’Bryan loosed his hold, and reddening perhaps
with shame at his violence, or more likely with
vexation at finding his designs. not so easy of
accomplishment, said— Bs

“There! I meant thee no harm! ’tis Eut in
sportive jest, I shewed thee my shining blade.
I like thee well, boy; thou hast a nerve of iron
and a heart of steel. Fain would I give thee



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR, 23

cause to eat thy words of this day ; be thou here
as a guest, not as a prisoner, as my friend, not
as my enemy.”

“My friend!” echoed Kilchonan;” I know

not how that can be. But why,” he added im-
patiently, “all this dallying, and senseless talk
regarding friendship? The best way of proving:
thy kindly feeling towards me will be to plunge
that shining knife of thine into my heart.”
- “Be it so then,” replied O'Bryan, “here goes!”
and he lifted the steel high in air, when his arm
was suddenly tightly clasped, and a girl’s terrified
voice exclaimed—

“Father! what wouldest thou do? Murder in
cold blood, under thine own roof, one who is a

captive, unarmed ?”

«He bade me do it,” answered the chief, grimly ;

“and as to my killing him in cold blood, he has
taken good care to prevent that, seeing for the
last hour my blood has been kept at boiling pitch:
with his insolent lies.”

“Lies!” Kilchonan began, but so imploring a
look was given him by the maiden, that courtesy
forbade his continuing.

“Ay, lies!” shouted O'Bryan ; “and thou, girl,”
turning to his daughter, “this is no place for thee;
begone !”

“ But father

“ Begone, I say.”

a)





24 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“T will not go,” she exclaimed, passionately,
loosening her hold of the chief’s arm, and placing
herself between him and his prisoner, “until thou
swearest to spare this young man’s life. Nay
frown not so fiercely, better far for thee to hearken
to my request, but if thou wilt not accord to me
my prayer, then will I stand between thee and
him; and thy knife must pass through my heart
to reach his.”

“What ails the girl?” exclaimed O’Bryan, with
an oath.

“ What ails me, sayest thou? Such an ailment
as will prevent me assisting unmoved at a foul
murder perpetrated by my father.” °

“Thy words, Ethna, are somewhat strong,” said
O’Bryan, hoarsely.

« Ay, for they are true, and, therefore, are they
strong. Hear me, father,” she continued gravely,
in a voice not soft and sweet, like Effie’s, but clear
and decided, “give this young man his life, and
let him free. Then will he be thy faithful ally
in return for this thy mercy.”

“ What sayest thou ?” inquired the chief, turning
to Kilchonan. “If I listen to my daughter's
prayer, wilt thou cease to be my foe?”

The young man’s fair intercessor besought him
with a pleading, and so bewitching a glance, to
answer in the ‘affirmative, that he cculd not find
it in his heart to say her nay, and reluctantly,



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 25

he murmued “Yes,” consoling his pride, however,
‘with the reflection that he could give O’Bryan a
truer, and more befitting answer, when this lovely
and courageous girl was gone !







CHAPTER IV.

“OW the scene in the previous chapter
had been rehearsed beforehand be-
tween O’Bryan and his daughter.
Knowing the bold impetuous char-
acter of his prisoner, O’Bryan expected his over-
tures to be rejected at first with scorn; and as he
could not stoop to plead, and he did not choose
to discover all his plans, he feigned to resent
fiercely Kilchonan’s taunts, and bitterness, and to
act in a manner consistent with his established
character. Ethna’s interference had saved at the
same time the young chief’s life, and her father’s
dignity, for he could yield without humiliation to
her prayers; and the fact of Kilchonan owing
his life to her entreaties could not but give him
a feeling of gratitude towards her, and so further
her father’s plans.

No opportunity was afforded to Kilchonan for
revoking his assent to O’Bryan’s demand. At a
signal from the latter, one of the attendants






IN THE HUSH Ol THE EVENING HOUR. 27

brought the young chief’s sword; and O'Bryan,
with as much grace as he could assume, presented
it saying—

“Mayest thou receive this with the same plea-
sure, and in the same spirit that I give it,”

Kilchonan bowed as he took the weapon ; but
O'Bryan did not allow him time to reply, for,
without waiting for an answer, he instantly with-
drew; and Kilchonan was left alone with Ethna.
A deep sigh of relief escaped the girl. Kilchonan
looked at her. Very lovely was the golden-haired,
blue-eyed daughter of Brien O'Bryan, and very
different from gentle Effie with the raven locks;
soft, dove-like eyes; but perhaps the very fact
that no comparison was possible, inspired Kil-
chonan with great admiration for his fair deliverer.

“ How glad I am,” she said, with a sweet smile,
“my fathers wrath is appeased. Such fear seized
me when I heard of his victory, and of the number
of prisoners he had taken, for well know I my
impatience to save their lives.”

“It is not that my father is really so blood-
thirsty as is commonly reported, but he acts, alas!
so often in the heat of anger, and then, when his
savage mood has passed, regrets, too late, what he
has done. Thus was I apprehensive it would be in
thy case, but now thou hast agreed with him—in
how I thank thee for so doing and sparing my
father the guilt of murder—his wrathful feelings



28 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

will abate; and thou wilt returnin peace to thy home.”

‘‘T owe thee my life, lady, for had it not been for
thy intercession thy father’s dagger would have
found a resting place in my heart ; and I know not
how my debt to thee can ever be repaid. There-
fore was it that I yielded to thy wishes, and
answered as thou desired; but my feelings were
notin accord with my speech. My noble kinsman’s
blood cries out to me for vengeance, and his
daughter and his lands, must I defend?”

“If.thou swearest to lay aside thy arms and
abandon all projects of revenge thy kinsman’s lands
will be untouched, and no one will be found to
harm his daughter. Thou hast to consent only to
terms of peace,.and my father will, I am sure, leave
thee and thine unthreatened.”

“Ah! gentle lady, but little doth thou know war
and its results if thou imagined thy father will
forego the rich and wide domains of Fitzpatrick.
Compensation will he demand for his losses in the
fight ; and thou oughtest to be aware what he so
demands he will get, or rather take.”

“What is it then thou purposest to do, with a
touch of scorn in her voice ?”

“Rescue my kinswoman at the point of the
‘sword, if need be.”

“Tt is possible there may be need, was the
chilling answer ; but I doubt much if thou wilt be
the one who can supply it.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 29

- «What. meanest thou, asked Kilchonan, passion-
ately ?”

“Thou talkest of flying to thy kinswoman’s aid.
What road wilt thou take to get there ?”

Involuntarily Kilchonan grasped the hilt of his
sword. Ethna saw the movement and smiled.

‘© Thinkest thou my father and his retainers are
sleeping? Does thou imagine that thou wilt be
allowed to go hence and call thy people and Fitz-
patrick’s to arms, and no man here to say thee nay ?”

“Tf,” replied Kilchonan, I am to remain here a
close prisoner, separated from all I love—”

“From one thou lovest would be more correct,”
put in Ethna.

The young chief’s eyes flashed.

« Ay, from one above all. Better, if this be so,
that my enemy’s steel had reached its destination,
for life purchased at the price of liberty is nothing
but a living death.

“Nay, nay,” replied Ethna, soothingly, “ thou art
so vehement, so rash. Listen! I will tell thee how
thou mayest yet be free, and not only free, but in
the enjoyment of thy lands. Sign an agreement
with my father not to bear arms against him, enter
into a close and cordial alliance with him, break
thy troth with Fitzpatrick’s daughter ”—

“Never!” shouted Kilchonan.

“And wed me,” she continued, unheeding the
interruption.



30 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ These then be thy terms, O’Bryan!” muttered
the young man, almost choking with rage. “Oh!
Oh! my life was spared simply that thou mightest
have the fiendish pleasure of torturing me ;” and,
turning to Ethna, he added, “methinks thou
mayest have known that never-would I agree to
such conditions. Therefore, I pray thee, seek thy
father and tell him to end without further ceremony
the life of one who, to his dying hours, must
remain his bitterest, and most implacable foe.”

“ No need to seek my father, the order has gone
forth. Thou art a prisoner here, at liberty to go
about within the castle’s walls, but not beyond
those walls until thou seest. fit to come to an under-
standing with thy host. Also, I may tell thee that
for three days Fitzpatrick’s daughter is safe; but
if, at the expiration of that time, thou has not
arrived at the only decision open to thee, she
herself will be given in marriage to some person
selected by my father; and Fitzpatrick’s lands
. divided between her husband and the victor.”

Kilchonan stood speechless, gazing fixedly befcre
him.

“See,” continued Ethna, “I have told thee all
now, and, however much fault thou findest with
O’Bryan’s conditions, they are unalterable. I
counsel thee to think them well over, for—although
I would willingly serve thee to the utmost of my
power, despite thy abrupt and discourteous refusal



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 31

of my hand—in this instance I am powerless;
inasmuch as no man has ever succeeded in
changing my father’s resolve; how then can a
weak woman hope so to do?”

With these words the fair Ethna withdrew.

Kilchonan. remained, plunged in thought. He
was calculating his chances of escape. Evidently,
from what O’Bryan’s daughter had said, he was
guarded on all sides. Verily Fate had dealt hardly
with him, preserving his life, indeed, but only to
spend it as a prisoner, or submit to the humiliating
conditions of having a wife thrust on him, whom,
till that day, he had never seen ; and entering into
an alliance with her father, whom he hated. The
vision of Effie rose before him. Effie with her
sweet, earnest face, and glorious powerful voice!
How divinely she sang! Kilchonan thought of the
last sound that had fallen cn his ear when he went
forth—as he then hoped—to victory! What was
she doing now? Was she singing to the moving
waves? Had they told her he was a prisoner?
Did she wonder why he did not return ?

It was doubtless only his imagination, but again
he seemed to hear the sweet strains of that song
the aged minstrel had bid Effie sing at her father’s
banquet. Kiichonan stood entranced. Yes, there
it was once more—now loud—now soft—now
merry—now pleading—and at times so divinely
beautiful that a mist came over the young man’s



32 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

sight ; throughout that evening he heard it. When
sitting in O’Bryan’s hall, at the feast to which the
chief had bidden him, he heard it ; above the loud
jokes and uproarious laughter of his host, above
the clear bell-like tones of Ethna, above the clash
of arms and the incessant buzzing talk of O’Bryan’s
followers, above everything and everybody he
heard it; and when he lay down to sleep it
followed him into the land of dreams.





CHAPTER V.

WEEK had passed since Kilchonan’s
| conversation with Ethna—a conver-
sation that was destined to be the
first of very many. The captive
chief could not now complain of his treatment ;
every civility was shown him; everything done to
make his enforced stay a pleasant one. O’Bryan
was courtesy itself, and Ethna most charming, and
fascinating, so fascinating that Kilchonan found con-
siderable pleasure in her company; and at times,
the thought flashed across him whether, after all, he
had not better subsmit to his host’s terms; for no-
thing was to be obtained by resistance: and if he
married Ethna, Fitzpatrick’s daughter would be left
unmolested. O'Bryan, too, he thought, was not
such a monster as had always been represented ; so
that an alliance with him would have nothing so
very disagreeable in it ; and the friendship of two -
such powerful chiefs would probably put an end to

the many petty wars that were always occurring, and
D





34 _ IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

ensure for some time a general peace. Kilchonan
was raised from his meditations by the voice of
Ethna. “ How grave thou seemest! and thy brow
is clouded. Has aught happened to annoy thee ?”

“Nay,” replied Kilchonan; “I was but thinking
how inexorable is fate.”

“And to fight her, is but waste of breath ;” re-
plied the maiden quietly. “ Thou thinkest fate has
dealt hardly with thee, but my lot is a far bitter
one than thine.’

Her voice faltered, and the tears stood in her
eyes. .

“ Surely not,” said Kilchonan, kindly, “ thy lot is
a happy one. Look how thy father dotes on thee !
thy home is secure, for he is strong, and able to hold
his own against his foes; and in these days, alas,
might is indeed right.”

Ethna shook her head. “I am not happy, for
though my father cares for me in his rough way, he
is oftentimes very harsh—nay, almost cruel—if
by any mischance I cross his will, and this I cannot
forbear doing, when some poor prisoner's life is hang-
ing in the balance.”

“ Tell me,’ asked Kilchonan, softly, “was thy
father wroth with thee for interceding for my life?”

“ Perhaps—a little,” replied Ethna, hastily, “ but
that matters not. I told thee his terms; and when
I saw how hard they appeared unto thee, I did en-
deavour to obtain some concession; but he will



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 35

concede nothing, and drove me with threats from his
presence ; so that, coward as I am, I dare not again
approach the subject.”

She paused, and clasping her hands, added sadly,
‘In three more days the time is up, and how
to save thee.”

“T know not.”

Kilchonan was deeply touched at this solicitude
on his behalf. She had braved then her father’s
anger for his sake, and what return was he going to
make her for her kindness ?

Infuriate O’Bryan by resistance, and cause her the
pain of knowing her father a murderer. The young
chief was sorely perplexed. If he continued firm
in his refusal of O’Bryan’s offers, death awaited him ;
and violent hands would be laid on Effie; and this
fair girl would be bowed down with remorse for a
crime for which she was guiltless. Looking at
Ethna, he saw she was now weeping.

“Sweet maiden!” he exclaimed, taking her hand s
I beg of thee not to grieve. Thou shalt no more
suffer pain on my account, fetch hither thy father
that I may tell him I submit to his condition.”

The .word submit grated on Ethna’s ear.

“I thank thee from my heart,” she sadly said ; “and
not long will I burden thee ; for, directly we leave
this place I willtake such measures as shall rid thee
of me, and then again free, thou mayest wed thy

kinswoman and still keep friends with my father.”
D?



36 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

« Ah! what is this that thou sayest ? How darest
thou allow thyself for one moment to imagine that
I will ever connive at such villiny? How darest
thou even make mention in my presence of such
wicked treachery? No, Ethna, no, I forget not of
what race I come, and I scorn



“And proudly, I also forget not of what race
I come,” interrupted Ethna, and I scorn to fetter
with my presence one who cares not for me,
therefore, to satisfy my father and escape from here,
wed me, and then once outside these walls, I will
leave thee, Hush! not a word more;” as Kil-
chonan was about to interrupt her, “here comes my
father.”

Greatly pleased was O'Bryan to find his scheme
realized.

Ile assured the young chief, that from hencefor-
ward he would be dear to him as his own son, that
their interests would be identical, their aims and
ambitions the same, and with many other such
_ expressions, concluded by giving him his paternal
blessing, and offering up a prayer that all jealousies
and misunderstandings might now cease between
the two great houses of Kilchonan, and of O’Bryan ;
and they might pass the remainder of their lives
united by the closest bonds of friendship.

If by these earnestly expressed hopes uttered in
as solemn a manner as O’Bryan could assume, he
thought to impress Kilchonan with his sincerity, his
object was lost, as the young chief heard not one



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 37

word, Ile was engrossed by the thought of Ethna;
his eyes saw only her. What a brave self-sacrificing
girl she was, thus to procure his release, and having
done that, to offer to end her life rather than stand
between him and happiness! She was proud too:
and Kilchonan admired pride. Somehow, in his
mind, pride was always associated with courage,
and he wished Effie had a little more of the former.
But she was so gentle, so yielding, so easily moved °
to tears. Se would never have thrown herself like
Ethna between O’Bryan and his prisoner; se would
never be capable of sustaining the part Ethna
proposed to play during the next few days. -Was
it not therefore much better in turbulent times like
these, to have a brave wife like the fierce O’Bryan’s
daughter. than the gentle, clinging, tender wife.
Effie would assuredly be? Poor little thing, she
was very loveable, very engaging ; but if she were
allowed to live unmolested in Fitzpatrick’s Castle,
she would soon get over the disappointment his
marriage with another would cause her ; particularly,
when she understood that, unless he was prepared
to die, he had no choice left but to fall in with
O’Bryan’s views. Surely, if she loved him as she
professed to do, she would rather see him free, and
in possession of his estates, than know him dead.
It was very sad for her, but no more so for him ; it
was the luck of war and they must both accept the
inevitable. In spite therefore of some misgivings as



38 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

to Effie treating matters as lightly and pleasantly
as ie was disposed to do; he managed by dint of
reasoning to persuade himself that he was really
fond of Ethna, and that she was much better suited
to him than Effe.

Ethna was not slow in perceiving the change in
his manner, but was inclined to put it down to his
approaching prospect of escape from imprisonment
in O’Bryan’s gloomy castle ; so the gayer he grew,
the sadder she became; till at last, noting her
melancholy he drew from her by dint of question-
ing, the avowal that it was her love for him that
made her so sad. and the bitter conciousness of how
soon they must part. Then Kilchonan urged on by
the conclusion he had come to that day, and
fascinated by her charms and beauty, not only
confessed he cared for her, but even went so far as
to say the affection he bore her was greater than he
had ever felt for his young cousin. “ Effie, he said,
is most sweet and loveable ; but she is not like thee,
my Ethna, not sensible and courageous as thou art.”

“ You flatter me,” replied she, smiling, “though, in
truth, I know not how hard my father’s child would
have lived, was she possessed of the gentleness and
timidity of Fitzpatrick’s daughter. Lived we in
other times, it might be well to possess these pleas-
ing qualities, but now they serve us not?” “ True,”
replied her companion, “ but with us to protect her,
Effie will be suffered to dwelt in peace, sheltered
from those storms she is so unfit to face.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 39

“ Ay, under thy protection, and my father’s, Fitz-
patrick’s lands will be safe from invasion, but thou
wilt have openly to take possession of them, else

they will not long temain free from attack.”

“Certainly, I will guard them, but they are not
really mine till her death.”

“Or her marriage,” put in Ethna, quietly,

“Her marriage ?” exclaimed Kilchonan, sharply,
and in a tone which showed the subject was not
agreeable to him; “‘ Nay, were she to marry, they
never would be mine, she would give them to her
husband.”

“And that,” interrupted Ethna, “ my father will
not allow. Thou must keep them, Kilchonan, at
least,” she added, seeing a cloud on the young chief’s
face, ‘ostensibly during my father’s life. Besides,
there would be no difficulty, for he who weds thy
kinswoman, must needs be thy friend, and conse-
quently no dispute could arise. But, be cautious, I
pray thee, before my father, for I care not to excite
his anger ; and thou knowest as regards myself,” she
added with a bewitching smile, “thou has but to
say thy wishes, and, however difficult, they will be
fulfilled; and eagerly did she scan his counte-
nance as she said these words.

And the charming manner and beautiful face grew
upon him, and so fascinated him, that more did he
love her, and more and more convinced was he of the
wisdom of hischoice. They talked as tenderly, and



42 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

as affectionately as he and Effie had been wont to
do; though there was no seashore, and Ethna
lacked the wondrous voice of the daughter of Fitzpat-
rick. Kilchonan spent his evening in much the
same manner as he had done the eve of the battle.
Ethna was troubled with none of poor Effie’s doubts
and fears (the remembrance of those doubts must
have stung him now), but this was a relief to the
young chief, and his spirits rose higher and higher
as he eyed the grim walls of his prison, and thought
in a few days more, he would be free, with Ethna
by his side.







CHAPTER VI.

SSAHERE is one of the name of Oscar
: ‘| come urgently, desiring to speak with
thee,” said O’Bryan on the morrow, to
his destined son-in-law. “ Knowest





thou ought of him, and what his business here may
be?” and the old chief viewed Kilchonan sus-
piciously.

“Qscar! my faithful Oscar! is he here? I pray
thee, let him enter, for he is my eldest and most
trusted servant.”

” Perchance he comes then to inquire how it fares
with thee ; and thou wil! be able to cheer his honest
heart with thy good tidings.”

The words were cheerful, but there was a certain
hesitation about the tone, as if O'Bryan had still
some doubts whether Kilchonan really thought his
prospects so bright.

“He will, indeed, rejoice to see me safe, and
sound,” replied the young chief, so warmly, that
O’Bryan’s suspicions were laid to rest, and‘he strode
out to give orders for the admission of Oscar.



42 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

When the old servant beheld his master, he darted
forward with a cry of joy.

“O my lord, my dear lord! sad has been the time
to me, since the day of that conflict, when I heard.
my beloved chief was wounded, and a prisoner
in the hands of that savage.”

“Hush!” exclaimed Kilchonan, “abuse not my
host, for he has shown me much kindness, and we
are friends and allies now.”

“ Allies?” cried the astonished Oscar, “ Since
when, hast thou linked thy fortune with this poor
foo— ?”

*T tell thee,” was the angry answer, “ that hence-
forth, we are united by the closest ties of friendship ;
and this being so, I can suffer no abuse to the Chief,
O'Bryan.”

“ But tell me,” said Oscar, after a few seconds of
amazed silence, “how comes it, he has not only spared
thy life, but also taken thee in such affection? Thy
states, I conclude, are restored to thee ?”

“Naturally, else I should not form an alliance
with him.”

“My kinswoman’s too, he touches not ; so me-
thinks in future, the epithets of grasping and blood-
thirsty, with which he is oftimes honoured, will be
misplaced.”

“Fitzpatrick’s lands untouched! Thine own
restored to thee! What gains he then by this ill-
starred quarrel ?”

“ His intentions were otherwise from what thou



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 43

thoughtest; he means bit to punish a few ruffians
that dwelt on my land; and by ill-luck, thou, and
others of my followers imagined he intended to
attack me ; but all now has been satisfactorily ex-
plained.”

“Faith ! then, right glad am I tohearit. Would
that it had been done before thy poor kinsman fell ;

22

his daughter



« Ay, how fares his daughter?” interrupted Kil-
chonan.

“Not well, as thou canst easily imagine. She
knows thee a captive, and is living in hourly dread
of hearing of thy death; but now that all is well,
and thou art reconciled with O’Bryan ——”

“Yes, go to her, for I have a message for thee to
deliver.”

“Oscar,” taking the old man’s hand, “ thou art
my oldest, and my truest friend.”

“ Thou mayest find many to serve thee, exclaimed
his follower vehemently, but none who will do so
more willingly, and devotedly than Oscar.”

“TI know, therefore do I ask thee to go to my
gentle cousin and break, to her—at this word break,
Oscar's face grew alarmed—that from force of
circumstance, our marriage is impossible; that the
power is no longer mine if I had the will,” he added
in a lower voice, “to wed her. I am pledged to
marry the fair daughter of O Bryan, a maiden as
beautiful, as she is brave, and who will I doubt not,
be as dear as a sister to Effie—in time.”



44. IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Faith ! ¢vz// need time,” muttered Oscar, “ and
Idoubt me much if time be long enough, more
likely ‘twill need eternity.”

“By my marriage with the chief's daughter,”
continued Kilchonan gravely, unheeding the inter-
ruption, “ Fitzpatrick’s possessions will be secured

‘to his child; and she can dwell happily in her
father’s Castle. Tell her also that no choice was
mine. Hither, I marry O’Bryan’s daughter, regain
my liberty and lands, and thus be in a position to
help her, should she need it; or, die a violent death,
have my property confiscated, and Effie herself be
given in marriage to one of O’Bryan’s friends.
Make her clearly understand this, and put it to her
whether she would rather I was dead, or wedded
to one who in every way is likely to bring me
happiness.”

*‘T will ask her,” replied the old servant, doggedly,

’ “and if her opinion be as mine, she would rather
hear of thy death, than of thy dishonour.”

“My dishonour!” exclaimed Kilchonan, with
flashing eyes, “ what meanest thou?”

“What I say. If thou callest it honourable to
ally thyself with thy house’s greatest foe, the slayer
of thy brave Kinsman ; and marry his daughter for
the sake of enjoying in peace thy worldly goods
notwithstanding thou hast plighted thy troth with
thy cousin; then as regardeth honour thy notions
and mine do differ.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 45

“ How darest thou address me thus ?” exclaimed
his master, very angrily, “thou presumest, I suppose,
on thy many ycars of faithful service, and in con-
sideration of thy services, I forgive thee ; but in
future, I pray thee, weigh thy words before speak-
ing, else it may be the worse for thee.”

“YT care not about myself,” said the old man,
sadly, “but it will be the worse for thee, I am
thinking. O; my master! my dear master !” beat-
ing his breast the while, “that I should have lived
to see this day !”

In spite of his resentment at Oscar’s words, Kil-
chonan could not help being touched by his retainer’s
evident affection for him.

« Well, man ; well, it is the luck of war, and what
is done, cannot be undone; therefore, do my
bidding, and take my message to Fitzpatrick’s
daughter, and tell her that as long as I live, no
harm shall come near her. Now go,” and Kilcho-
nan pushed him gently from him.

Once outside the castle wall, Oscar paused, and
almost croaned at the prospect of the cruel task
before him—that of informing Effie of his beloved
master’s faithlessness.

“Who would have thought it? Who would
have thought it?” he ejaculated, and if angry
glances could have killed, O'Bryan and his daugh-
ter assuredly they would never have survived those of
Oscar.



46 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

Shaking his fist fiercely at the unconscious
building, he turned at last to depart, and made
the best of his way to the dead chief's castle.

Effie was waiting for him, he saw her from afar,
gazing eagerly in the direction whence she knew he
would come.

After the disastrous fight, the old man had broken
to her, as gently as he could, the news of her father’s
death, and of Kilchonan’s capture. He then
thought there was no hope of the young chief's life
being spared, and had hinted as much to Effie, so
her state of mind ever since had been piteous.

Oscar, however, promised her solemnly, to leave
no stone unturned to obtain access to Kilchonan,
and see, if by any chance, he could be rescued from
the death, that, in a]l probability, awaited him.

His life was saved ; but were the tidings Oscar
now brought, easier to break to her than those, of
which he was before the bearer. It was as lovely
an evening as the one on which Effie bade Kilcho-
nan farewell, and saw her father ride away for the
last time; but now, she had no eyes for anything
around her. Her heart almost stopped when she
saw Oscar, for the expression of his face was not cal-
culated to reassure her.

He is dead? she uttered in an agonised tone.
Oscar shook his head

“ Then, wherefore, lookest thou so mournful? Is
his wound so serious that he is nigh unto death ?’



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 47

Oscar stood for a moment silent, drawing his
breath very hard, as if he had been walking ata
too rapid pace ; but it was not the rapidity of his
movements that caused his breathlessness ; but the
emotion he felt at the crushing blow he was about
to inflict on Effie.

So beneath the summer sky, the faithful old
retainer, grown grey in the service of his master’s
family, related to the young girl beside him, his
interview with Kilchonan. He told her everything,
dwelling as much as possible on the tyranny of
O’Bryan, which left Kilchonan powerless to follow
his inclinations. Effie listened in silence ; and save
for the blanched cheek, and stony expression of the
eyes, no onlooker would have supposed that the
narrative affected her.

When Oscar had finished, she held out her hand
and the old servant bowed over it in silence;
then, still in silence, Effie left him, and walked
slowly down to the seashore, and seating herself
on a rock, gazed fixedly across the ocean.

The first blow had been bad enough ; but chen,
even if they were separated in this world, Kilchonan
was still hers ; and only the thin veil of death divided
them ; but now—he was lost to her for ever? Little
did Kilchonan realise Effie’s character, when he
justified his base conduct to himself by supposing
she would rather know he was alive, though faithless,
tkan dead. The shock she had received was so



48 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

sudden, so overpowering, that for a time all her
faculties seemed benumbed ; and it was long before
she could make up her mind to rise and return to
the Castle, where, so lately, all was life and merri-
ment, and now, all was silence and gloom. When
the shades of night fell on Fitzpatrick’s castle, in
the still midnight air, rose the sound of a woman’s
voice,

Lovely was the voice ; divine were the words she
sang ; they seemed to fill the air around; and a
homeless wanderer who was trudging on his lonely
path, heard, and started, wondering, as he paused to
listen, whether the choir of heaven ever descended
on earth to cheer poor mortals with their glorious
strains. But the sound died away ; and then, all
was silence.

The day dawned ; and the morning sun shone
once more over the castle, touching the grey hills
with light, illuminating the woodland glades, and
throwing a silvery streak across the sea; and it
shone also on the old castle of Fitzpatrick, bright-
ening the grim interior, and shedding its golden
beams on the dark hair and sweet face of a girl
kneeling in prayer.









CHAPTER VII.

eG) BRYAN ought to have been pleased
at the manner in which his plans
had been carried out, and content,
at least for a time, to lay aside his



Sees

sword and rest; but to live long in peace with his
neighbours was not, as Oscar would have said, in
the old fox’s nature; and casting his eyes about
to see what next there was for him to do, his
greedy gaze fell upon the rich domains of Fitz-
patrick. Now, if O’Bryan had been satisfied with
the realisation of his first project, all would have
been well; for Kilchonan, though maintaining
Effie’s right, meant to keep faith with O'Bryan, and
prevent Fitzpatrick’s estates from falling into the
hands of any of his father-in-law’s enemies. But
the old chief now felt he should never rest until
Effie was either married to one of his followers,
who would be entirely subservient to his will; or
better still, the girl, in some way, got rid of, her
possessions either become wholly his, or part his,

part Kilchonan’s. The latter would be by far the
K



50 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

best plan; but then it would be difficult to gain
the consent of Effie’s kinsman to any scheme
which. boded evil to her. It was necessary to
begin gently ; and, for this purpose, O'Bryan rode
over to Kilchonan Castle and informed Ethna of his
desire that Effie should marry a poor kinsman of
theirs, named O’Seary. As her father rightly
guessed, nothing could be more pleasing to Ethna
than the prospect of the daughter of Fitzpatrick
marrying ; for in spite of Kilchonan’s ardent plea-
sure in Ethna’s socicty, she had always a lingering
suspicion that whenever he was silent, and pre-
occupied, it was because he was thinking of his
cousin, and the bare idea of this being the case
made her madly jealous. She really loved Kil-
chonan, and not even her aread of, or kabitual
obedience to her father, would have induced her
to join in any scheme disadvantageous to him.
Ethna listened attentively while O’Bryan made
known his wishes.

“ Against this project I have nought to object ;
would that Kilchonan had nothing either!”

“Thou thinkest then he will find somewhat to
say?”

“He will, and that somewhat will not be to thy
liking.”

“Tush! girl, 470 canst alter his mind.” Ethna
shook her head —* Not unless I can convince him it
is for her good.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 51

“ So it is,” said O’ Bryan gruffly.

“For ours, thou meanest ; She is in no danger.”

“Perhaps some one could be found to threaten
invasion, and so put her in danger, remarked the
old chief slyly; and when her kinsman sees the
troubles to which her defenceless situation exposes
her, he will be only too glad she should find a
protection both for herself and for her lands.”

“Who is the some one to be?”

“Never fear child, there are many who, for the
sake of obliging me, will make a feint of attacking
the castle.”

“Tf thou canst manage this, then, Kilchonan
may be persuaded thou art right, and he, in his

”



turn, may persuade his cousin, but

“ But what ? asked O'Bryan sharply.”

“Tf the girl is obstinate, and refuses, Kilchonan
will never consent.”

“ She is, from what I have heard, but a poor, weak:
creature, and, if she be frightened, will soon yield.”

“T trust, my father, thou art right; so do thy
part and foment a disturbance, and I will do mine.”

A few days later, a messenger was seen hurrying
trom the castle of the chief O’Bryan to the castle
of the chief Kilchonan ; and the tidings he bore
were that an incursion was meditated by the chief
O’Shannon on the domains of Fitzpatrick. Kil-
chonan, on receipt of this news, hastened without’
delay to impart the intelligence to Ethna.



52 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

“ Ah! I feared as much,” she said, “so rich a
prize could not but attract the covetous. This
emboldens me to tell thee of what my father in-
formed me the other day, that he was afraid there
would be many found to rise up against thy cousin,
were she long to live unprotected. Now, one of
the name of O’Seary, a brave and gallant kinsman
of our house, holdest her in great affection, and
could she be brought to care for him, it might be
well for her to—marry.”

* Kilchonan's face flushed.”

“ Methinks a more suitable partner could be
found for the daughter and heiress of the brave
Fitzpatrick, than a poor kinsman of O’Bryan’s, how-
ever worthy he may be!”

Ethna noticed the change in his countenance,
and a pang of jealousy shot through her, as she
marked his unwillingness that Effie should find
any other protector than himself.

“Tt is of thy sweet cousin’s happiness, I am
thinking. Would it not be fair to tell her of
O’Seary’s proposals, and learn her mind upon the
matter?”

“T see little use in it,’ was the cold reply. “But
consider,” urged Ethna, “the helpless position in
whicl., should aught of harm befall thyself, or my
father, which, God forbid: thou wouldest leave
her.”

The young chief sighed.





1N THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 53

“Dost thou not think ’twould be kinder to
explain to her how things are, and let her shape
her future course as she sees fit ?”

“There is truth, my Ethna, in what thou sayest,
and if Effie wishes it, I will not oppose her linking
her fortunes with him of whom thou hast made
mention ; tis for her, not for us, to decide—but
how to tell her ?”

“Wherein lies the difficulty? Hie thee to her
this day and let her know. Or,” she added, seeing
Kilchonan hesitate, “if thou likest not the task, I
will supply thy place.”

But, though the young chief shrank from meeting
his kinswoman, he was determined no impulsion,
however gentle, should be used to make her do
aught against her will; and he felt he could trust
no one but himself to be impartial.

“ I thank thee for thy offer, fair one, but better is
it that I go.

“Ay, she will listen to thee,” replied Ethna,
quietly, “whien others would perchance fail.”

These words, “she will listen to thee when others
might speak in vain,” rang unpleasantly in the ears
of the young chicf as he took the familiar road
which led to Fitzpatrick’s castle. How should he
dare to meet Effie? How should he dare to look
her in the face ? meet the gaze of her lovely eyes?
or listen to the low sweet voice ? He paused awhile
at the entrance. What a change had taken place in



ba IN THE HUSH O}' THE EVENING HOUR.

his life since last he was there! A sound smote on
his ear—it was Effie’s glorious voice he heard. She
was singing again the same song the aged minstrel
had bid her sing in her father’s hall. What a flow
of memories rushed over him as he listened! Once
more, he saw the jovial feast, and heard the ringing
cheers when his health was proposed. Once more,
he saw Effie timid, and blushing, hesitating what
to sing, and heard the grave voice of the minstrel
whispering to her to sing the song of love ; and
then, as now, the wonderful tones rang out in the
death-like silence. Once more, he stood on the
sea shore and told her of his love which nothing
could ever change, and rebuked her doubts. and
laughed at her fears; and then rode away, vowing
within himself that never should aught come be-
tween him and his love ; and then, as now, the last
notes of her song died away in the evening air.

Effie was sitting on-a little hillock, overlooking
the sea, when Kilchonan at last found courage to
approach her. At the sound of footsteps she
looked up, and when she saw who it was, an
expression of mingled surprise and indignation
passed over her face. Then, as Kilchonan did
not speak, she rose, and said coldly—

“To what am I indebted for the honour of thy
presence ?”

“Effie!” said her kinsman, in a low, pleading
voice, “forgive my unwelcome intrusion; but I
have news for thee of import.”





IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 55

“Indeed ! I cannot divine what news thou hast,
for I know of naught likely to interest me.”

“ Thy personal safety must surely be of moment
to thee. O’Shannon is, I hear, on the point of
invading thy lands, and marching against this
castle.”

“And if he does,” asked Effie, quietly.

“If he do,” exclaimed the chief, looking at her
in amazement, caused by her unwonted coolness
on hearing tidings that would formerly have so
alarmed her; “why he will then burn the castle
to the ground, and take thee prisoner.”

“Not so, for I should perish in the flames.”

Kilchonan could not believe his ears, when he
heard these cold laconic answers, and saw the
composed, fearless manner in which she uttered
them. Was this the timid, shrinking, clinging
girl he had so often described to Ethna? was
this the girl so much alarmed at even the rumour
of war, who had been so frightened. when Oscar
came and told of O’Bryan’s hostile acts ? was she,
indeed, the same person? or had her father’s death
and her lover’s faithlessness wrought some mar-
vellous transformation in her? ;

“ But—but—” he said, hesitatingly, “I cannot
bear to think of thy helpless position.”

“No need is’ there for thee to do so, even if
thou couldest bear it.”

“ Be not wrath with me, I pray,” said Kilchonan,



56 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

summoning all his courage, “but there is one, of
the name of O’Seary, probably thou knowest him
not, whom thy sweet face hath so enchanted that
he craves to have speech of thee, and would fain
find favour in thy eyes.”

Effie raised her hand, and said, determinedly —

“If thou comest hither to apprise me of
O’Shannon’s warlike intentions, I thank thee, and
shall act accordingly, but if thou comest to tell
me thou hast found one who will willingly offer
me his hand for the sake of my father’s domains,
then do I despise thee for thy ignorance of my
character, which could lead thee for a moment
to suppose I could ever lend an ear to either him
or any other of O’Bryan’s satellites.”

“ He has naught to do with O’Bryan.”

“ Pardon me, he has, inasmuch as he is one of
his paid followers.”

“ Surely, thou must be misinformed, when thou
deemest him a paid follower, he is a kinsman of
C’Bryan, but has nought else to do with that chief.”

“ T intend to have nought to do, either with him
or with his chief. Take this, I pray thee, for my
final answer.”

«Art thou, then, unaware that thy tenure of
these lands is a very frail one ? and that though to
the utmost of my power I will protect thee, yet—”

“Thy power is limited, interrupted [ffic, that J
can well conceive.”



JH

IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 57

“ Nay, misapprehend me not, though indeed, I
have deserved little at thy hands——_.”

“Enough ! I refer not to the past. Thou sayest
thou wilt defend my territories as long as thou art
able. More it would be impossible for thee to do.”

“Can I not make clear to thee how unavailing
will all efforts be to prevent incursions into thy
domains while thou hast no one by thee to protect
them ?”

“T have a Protector,’

>

and she pointed solemnly
on high.

Kilchonan felt awed, and almost afraid of Effie!
how he would once have scoffed at the idea!

Suddenly she fixed her large Gark eyes full on
him.

“What is thy true purpose in coming here?
Thou talkest to me over much of the threatened
dangers which surround me. I tell thee, I heed
them not; and thou urgest on me the desirability
of listening to the suit of one, O’Seary, a kinsman |
of my father’s murderer—a fit suitor, truly, for
Fitzpatrick’s daughter! Is it that thou covetest ’
my lands? waiving my claim—thou art the nearest
of kin os

“Effie!” cried Kilchonan, scarlet with indigna-
tion, “ Shame on thee for harbouring such thoughts



of me:”
“ Excite not thyself thus!” she interposed

gravely, “there is no cause.”



58 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Whatsoever thou pleasest canst thou take; I
am powerless to prevent it.”

“ However might it not be well not to refute too
violently my suggestions, as, though it may now
appear far from thee, a time may come, when thou,
or at least others for thee, will see fit to look on it
with greater favour, if as I suspect, I fall not into
their views.” _

“ Thou art unkind, unjust; never have I har-
boured the bad intentions of which thou accusest
me!”

“ Doubtless, not hitherto, but we can answer only
for the present ; thou canst not tell what circum-
stance may arise.”

“ No circumstance can possibly arise to make me
;” he paused, for suddenly he thought himself
of the indignant protestations he had made, when
Effie expressed her fears, lest he should ever learn
to love another than her.”

Circumstances had in that case certainly justified
her apprehensions; and overcome with confusion
and shame, Kilchonan turned, and fled from her
presence.









CHAPTER VIII.

heard from Ethna of the bold atti-
tude Effie had assumed! Never had
the doughty warrior been a patient



man, and he felt little disposed to try and acquire
that virtue now ; for what did he gain by waiting ?
was not age creeping over him? and had he not,
in consequence, a shorter time to live in which to
enjoy his worldly goods? Effie must, therefore,
either be compellec to submit or else—be put out of
the way! It was truly provoking that Kilchonan
was so unreasonable; and considering he had
married the beautiful Ethna, he had no excuse
to’ make such a fuss about his stupid little kins-
woman. Really, O’Bryan began to think it would
have been much less trouble if he had treated
Kilchonan like the other prisoners; and trusted
to his good luck to keep by the sword what he
had won by the sword. It was, however, as his
daughter said, too late to lament his conduct now;
and he must dispose of Effie as best he could;



62 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

provided always, and this stipulation was made
by Ethna with heightened colour, and flashing
eyes, that no ill befel Kilchonan. The old chief
listened to this reservation with a grim smile,
which boded ill to anyone, whoever he might be,
that dared to cross his path.

Kilchonan’s first impulse, after so abruptly
quitting Effie, was to summon his followers and
guard the boundaries of the Fitzpatrick estates ;
so that in the event of O’Shannon carrying out
his plan of invasion, he would be met, and, as
Kilchonan hoped, repuised at the outset. Ethna,
though aware this move of the young chief
would not suit O’Bryan’s policy, did not dare
to offer any opposition, her great object being
to leave Kilchonan in happy ignorance of the
dark designs forming against his kinswoman.
This was not difficult, as he was of a most un-
suspicious nature, and, in consequence, no match
for his cunning old father-in-law.

Kilchonan’s movement did not tend to soothe
O’Bryan’s angry feelings ; he sent him a message,
the peremptory tone of which incensed the young
chief, urging him for the security of Effie’s lands,
to take nominal possession of them, occupy for a
time Fitzpatrick’s castle. This, O’Bryan said,
would have far more effect in keeping the enemy at
bay, than the plan Kilchonan had now adopted.

Kilchonan, however, had a great repugnance to



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 61 -

take up his abode in the dead chief’s castle;
this dislike, coupled with his irritation at the tone of
command, suddenly assumed towards him, caused
him to send back, in answer, a curt refusal.

O’Bryan’s fury knew no bounds. Was it for this
he had spared the young man’s life? to receive a
flat contradiction to his behests? What a fool he
had been not to drive his dagger through Kil-
chonan’s heart, when the latter had mockingly
asked him to do so, saying it was the greatest
mercy that could be shown him! Would that I
had! muttered the old chief clinching his hands,
“it certainly would have been the best for me, if
not for him.”

The first person on whom O’Bryan’s anger fell
was Ethna.

Why had she interposed to save Kilehonan’s life!
if she had let her father have his way, all these
difficulties would have been avoided ; the young
chief would, very properly, have followed his de-
parted kinsman into the next world.

Ethna’s fair face flushed, as she listened to these
angry reproaches.

“T fail, my father, to see in what these difficulties
consist of which thou speakest.”

“ Then thy vision must be limited,” growled the
chief, “Why girl, thinkest thou it fulfils my pur-
pose to have Kilchonan with his men barring the
way to Fitzpatrick’s castle, thus hindering all



62 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

attempts to intimidate his kinswoman! Thinkest
thou I have taken the trouble for nothing, to rouse
O'’Shannon, under promise of reward, to menace
hostilities 2? Art thou aware of the object I have
in view, that of ridding myself of Fitzpatricl’s
daughter, taking her lands—reserving always a
portion for thy husband, as next of kin, provided,
that is, he behaves as he should, if not—let him
look to himself!” and O’Bryan shook his fist
menacingly in the air.

“ Father,’ said Ethna gravely, “ when thou
plottest mischief against Fitzpatrick’s child, I do
not contradict thee; she is the daughter of thy
bitterest foe, who, never during his lifetime, missed
an occasion to work thee harm; therefore, deal
with her as ‘thou wilt.”

“J thank thee for thy gracious permission,”
sneered ©’Bryan, “ which accords well with thy
feelings ; for surely, if I have little cause to like
the father, thou hast less to Jove the daughter.”

Ethna’s cheek paled at these words, but she
suffered them to pass unnoticed. “ But beware!”
she exclaimed passionately, “of what thou dost to
her kinsman. Beware, beware, of how thou formest
plans of ills against him! for if the day comes
when thy sword is drawn for his destruction, thou
wilt surely wish it had never been unsheathed.”

“Waste not thy breath, child, in idle threats,
they will avail nought with me. Wiser were it



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 63

that thou went to Kilchonan, informed him of my
determination, at all risks, to keep the peace we
are at present enjoying, Therefore, if he declines
to occupy Fitzpatrick’s castle, why I must e’en do
so for him: though I much fear my company may
not be over welcome to the young lady.”

“T shall wait until this time to-morrow for his
answer, and if he cares as he appears to do (with
a sly look at Ethna), for his cousin's happiness,
methinks “twere better he went than I.”

Kilchonan was sorely perplexed, and angry,
when he heard from Ethna of her father’s resolu-
tion. The idea of inhabiting, even for a short
time, Fitzpatrick’s castle, was to him most dis-
tasteful. Invade Effie’s home with an armed
force, it. was an act which nothing short of the
most pressing danger could excuse. “What would
she think of him? That speech of hers—Thou
canst not tell what circumstances may_ arise,”
came back to him and stung him. “ That
O'Bryan,” he muttered, grinding his teeth ; “ever ©
since my espousals with his daughter, hath he
done nought but raise difficulties at every step I
take. Methinks ’tis with intent done, and perchance
the invasion of Fitzpatrick’s lands is but incited
by him to annoy me. Ah! if I knew this to be
so”—and a dark look came into the young chief’s
eyes—“if I was certain,’ and he drew a deep
breath, “ but, have a care old fox—have a care!”



64 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“The old fox, as thou rightly callest him, has
ensured ¢/iy having some care,” said the voice
of Oscar, who, unperceived, had approached his
master, and overheard his last words; “ methinks
he has given thee little else since the pleasure
of his acquaintance has been granted thee.”

«Tush! Oscar, man! heed not my idle plaints.
I have no cause of anger against the chief,
O’Bryan; I was but growling at the cursed fate
which forces me to take a step I like not well.’

“ Indeed!” exclaimed Oscar, looking concerned,
“may I make bold to ask what that step is?”

“To occupy Fitzpatrick’s castle,” replied Kil-
chonan, reddening.

“ True, ‘tis only fer a time; just till we have
ensured O’Shannon’s good behaviour: but it
grieves me to disturb the peace of my cousin's

”



home and

“ Surely,” said Oscar, “ especially, when, as in the
present case, there seemeth no reason so to do.”

“‘ Nay, there is reason; for if I refused, O'Bryan
would take my place, and unwelcome as any
intrusion must be to my kinswoman, my presence
will be to her less annoying than that of O'Bryan.”

“ What !’” cried Oscar, “ did e propose to thrust
his company upon her?”

* One of us,’ he said, “must go to prevent
O’Shannon attacking the castle.”

“Tis strange, that the chief O'Shannon should



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 65

‘be found so unmanageable ; for, if report says-true,
he has been so crushed (ere now) by O’Bryan,: that
the old chief’s will to. him is law.

An uneasy expression passed over Kilchonan’sface.

“Thou must be misinformed,” he said curtly.
“ Go now, and see to the preparations for my—for
our departure.”

“ The lady Ethna accompanies thee ?”

“ Certainly, I cannot leave her here—half my
men withdrawn, and an enemy on the alert !”

“Now Heaven grant!” muttered the old servant
to himself, as he went to execute his master’s
‘command, “that no fresh mischief is afloat ;- but
never knew I yet good come out of anything in
which O’Bryan had a hand. The lady cannot tarry
here, because, should it please the enemy to come,
there are not men enough left to defend her. If
that is so, how will there be enough defenders for
Kilchonan’s castle? O’Bryan, O’Bryan, if, ere ‘I
die, we settle not our reckonings, then have I served
in vain three generations of Kilchonan’s race. O!
my master, into what toils hast thou fallen? but
alack! thou canst not stop now; thou hast chosen
thy path and must e’en follow it to the end. Ah
me! Ah me!”

A terrific storm was raging round Fitzpatrick’s
castle. The rain was pouring down in torrents—

the hailstones literally sweeping the ground. Vivid
F



66 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

flashes of lightning lit up the landscape, showing
the foaming billows of the infuriated sea dashing
like a huge avalanche against the coast. The angry,
tossing waters almost drowned the deep roar of the
thunder, as crash followed crash, echoing and re-
echoing among the distant hills. Seldom had such
a storm been seen; and the dark outline of the
castle, one moment wrapt in gloom, and the next
encircled in a blaze of light, Jooked weird, and
sinister with the black clouds hanging like a funeral
pall over its strong towers.
Two figures were standing in a recess of the wall
_where in a measure they were sheltered from the
storm ; only in a measure though, for Kilchonan’s
hair was damp from the spray that, every now and
then, a wave, more angry than its fellows, sent up;
and Oscar’s cloak bore evidence of the drenching
rain. It was a night not fit for a dog to be out ;
but apparently, it suited the temper of these two,
for neither made the slightest attempt to move,
when the storm, which had for a moment lulled,
woke up again with renewed vigour.
“The Saints preserve us!” exclaimed Oscar,
“ what an awful night!”
“JT have seen many a storm, both on sea and
land, but never one to equal this.”
“ Ay, at this season of the year, we look not for
such strife among the elements.”
“Pray God it bodes no ill ; but my heart misgives

n

me,



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 67

“O! go to! with thy forebodings and misgivings,
thou art for ever croaking.”

“Tf the elements have fallen out, what has that
to do with us? let them settle it among themselves
as best they can.”

“Hark!” exclaimed Oscar! “what sound was
that!”

“What sound!” replied the other smiling, “ why,
the same methinks that hath been audible for the
last hour—the sound of the storm ae

Kilchonan suddenly stopped. Above the noise
of the tempest-tossed sea, rose a sound which was
not that of the storm. It was the glorious voice of

Effie. She sang in that wild and fearful night, of
the love that suffers all, that forgives all, that
conquers all, of the love that is stronger than death,
of the love that endures when all else is gone; and
the voice within was more powerful than the storm
.without. It reached the ears of the watchers out-
side, it penetrated into Ethna’s distant chamber ; it
routed Kilchonan’s armed retainers, it seemed to
rise and pierce the lowering clouds, and float above
the furious waves. The echo of that lovely strain
lingered long around the castle walls ; it lingered
when the rain had ceased, and the ocean had sunk
to rest ; it lingered when the pale moon-beams lit
up the calm waters, and the bright stars studded
the blue firmament; and it lingered still—when

Effie slept.
x







CHAPTER IX,

tions were, in his eyes, fully justified
when news came that O’Shannon was
on the point of attacking Kilchonan's



Castle.
- Ah! did I not say so?” cried the old man after

delivering the message to his chief. “Well I knew
that crafty villain was plotting mischief when he
caused thee to withdraw from Kilchonan with so

large'a force.”

“Of whom art thou speaking?” interrupted his
master sternly.

“ Of O’Bryan.”

“Then prithee keep thy opinion regarding that
chief to thyself, for no abuse of him will I suffer in
my presence.”

“Tt strikes me, thou wilt have to suffer some-
thing more, ere thou hast done with him, or, rather,
he with-thee; for thou hast little choice in the

matter.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. .- 69 :

“ And little choice wilt thou have in any mattet,”
exclaimed Kilchonan angrily, “if thou canst not
betimes moderate thy tongue ; I tell thee, as I told
thee, but the other day, that thou presumest on thy
long services to me and mine.”

“Hath thy saintly lady, and her godly father
said this of me ?”

‘“ Dost thou suppose?” replied Kilchonan scorn-
fully, “ that thy importance is sufficient to occupy,
for one moment, the thought of either the chief, or
his daughter ?”’

“TI know not,” replied Oscar doggedly. “ but this
much I know ; however little in the past O’Bryan
may have heeded me, he shall have verily in the
future, to do with me.”

“Thou wilt have to do with thy master, if, in
spite of my repeated prohibitions, thou CONSENS
thy threats.”

“T shall not continue them ; I shall act.”

“The fool, thou couldest do that part to perfec-
tion.”

“ Hark thou! my Tord ‘when the day comes, as
come it surely will, that thou reapest the fruit of
thy folly in lending an ear to the counsels of thy
insidious foe ; say not, thou wert not warned ; say
not that among all thy followers, there was not one
found to open thy eyes to the dangers thickening
around thee ; say, rather, I only was to blame, for
I despised all counsel, and rejected all advice.”



j> .- IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

« When thou hast done this raving, perhaps thou
wilt be so good as to heed to my orders. We leave
within an hour this place. See that everything be
ready. My intention is to take O’Shannon. by
surprise, and fall on him in the rear; as whatever
may be thy notions of duty, szve are to defend my
father’s home, oles

“Thou wouldest do wiser to stay here. No great
mischief will be done to thy lands ; and were even
Kilchonan castle to be burnt to the ground, sad as
that day would be to me, it would grieve me less
than seeing my beloved chief go headlong into the
trap prepared for him.”

“Now, by my faith, Oscar, I think thou art in
thy dotage. Didst hear what I said? go, I tell
thee, and trouble me no more with thy senseless
talk.”

“Thy commands shall be obeyed save in one
particular. Doubtless, thy purpose was that I
should accompany thee ;”

“ Certainly, and is so still.”

“ Craving thy pardon then, it suits my fancy to
remain.”

“ This is too much,” cried the angry chief, “I tell
thee thou art to go.”

“OQ, my dear master, listen! but for a moment.
Think not I mean aught of disrespect to thee;
willingly will I give my life to save thee ; but the
wisdom of age is mine, and further I can see than



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. at,

thou, with thy eyes of youth.” The old man’s voice
broke a little, and Kilchonan softened thereby, said
in a gentler tone than he had hitherto spoken:

“ Look now, my good Oscar, well am I assured
of thy. deep attachment to me, and know my
interests are always paramount in thy eyes; but
thou must allow me, in these matters, to judge for
myself, and obey without remonstrance, my behests.
Remember ! therefore, we start in one brief hour;
and thou, as ever, will be in attendance on me.”
And allowing no time for further remark, Kilchonan
left the old servant alone.

The latter leant against the wall, and, covering his
face with his hands, gave way to the grief that filled
his breast.

“ Oscar, what aileth thee ?” said a sweet voice at
his side.

He looked up, and saw Effie.

“Can I do aught o thee,” she continued, “ tell
me!”

“ Alack! Alack! I fear no human help will be of
much avail to extricate my dear master from the
perils he has brought upon himself;” and Oscar
proceeded to inform Effie of the news that had
arrived, and of Kiichonan’s consequent departure.

“These are indeed unpleasant tidings;” said
Effie gravely.

“What grieves me most of all is that I must
disobey my chief. I cannot go, as he wishes, with
him.”



723 = IN THE HUSH: OF THE EVENING HOUR,

“Not go with him! wherefore? Snrely in the
hour of danger thou wilt not desert him.”

“J must, and that is what will well nigh break
my heart.”

“ But why.”

“ Thinkest thou that I can go and leave thee here
when any moment may see this Castle attacked.”

“ My father’s lands are broad ; and his followers
are many,” replied Effie proudly; “and though I
am but a girl, yet, they who dwell on Fitzpatrick’s
lands will never suffer tamely the entrance of a foe.”

“J meant not truly, to disparage Fitzpatrick’s

men, but they want a leader; and if I follow my
chief to Kilchonan, I fail to see where they will find
one.”
“Thou must not tarry here, however much they
lack a leader,” replied Effie firmly, “thy place is by
thy master’s side, and thou art not one who will fail
to answer the call of duty.”

“My duty methinks, is here.”

“ Not when thy chief’s home is in danger.”

“There is no danger, ’tis but a feint. There will
be no fighting worth the name; for as sure as I live,
O’Shannon hath but done this by O’Bryan’s orders,
to draw Kilchonan far from here. No, no, lady,
this scare is part of a villainous plot, and my poor
master doth not see through it.”

“Is it possible ?” asked Effie surprised, “that he
is so blind!”

J



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 73

He was wont to be somewhat sharper.

“ Ah! but there are none so blind as those that
will not see.”

Effie sighed. “Still Oscar, thou must not linger
here. If mischief is intended, thy presence may
work much good.”

“ Ay, but ere, not there, lies the root of it!”

“ Tell me,” said Effie, looking him steadily in the
face, “what is it thou fearest ?”

“TI fear, Jady, that O’Bryan is but Waites till he
see our backs to——. well to menace this place.”

“ His daughter is here,” replied Effie quietly, “he
will not do aught to frighten her.”

That is my only comfort ; but he is deep—deep
—deep!”

There was a pause ; and then the daughter of
Fitzpatrick said—“ I thank thee, Oscar, for thy kind
thought of my welfare, which urges thee to stay ;
but it must not be. Go with thy chief! I am not
fearful of what O’Bryan or any other foe may do.
Remember! there is a God above.”

“Tis well there is.”

“Tis well indeed, therefore, thou canst go,”

“Thou meanest it in truth ?”

“I do; and whatever the future hath in store,
let us both be found at our posts!”

Her words and manner were too decided to admit
of any remonstrance; and the old man, after
contemplating her for a second in silent admiration,
went to do her, and his master’s bidding.





74 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

“T am glad thou art in possession of thy senses,”
said the young chief to Oscar, as they rode towards
Kilchonan.

“Would that all those who lose them were
equally certain of regaining them,” was the gruff

rejoinder.

Kilchonan reddened at the implied meaning of
these words, and said: “ Thy company to day is
none the pleasantest, and had I been on pleasure
bent, methinks my enjoyment would have been
greater, if thou hadst stayed behind.”

Qscar had no heart to answer. Powerless, as he
felt himself to communicate to his loved lord the
fears that filled his own mind, and more convinced
every moment that they were on the brink of a
precipice, down which, the smallest false step would
precipitate them, he had the additional sorrow of
finding that his warnings were looked on as out-
bursts of querulousness, and pardoned only in
consideration of his age. He determined therefore
to say no more; he had eased his conscience by
speaking, and if Kilchonan qwozld not listen, why
he must take the consequences.

About a mile from the castle, they fell in with
the enemy. O’Shannon made but a feeble resist-
ance to the impetuous charge of Kilchonan (at
which verification of his predictions, Oscar could
not help feeling rather triumphant) and the young
chief took possession of his home in peace. Oscar’s



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 75

lingering hope, that after the facility with which he
had put his foe to flight, his master might signify
his intention of returning the next day to Fitz-
patrick, was not realised. Kilchonan was moody,
and irritable the whole of that evening, and gave
Oscar no opportunity of urging their speedy
departure. His easy victory, indeed, rather tended
to annoy him than otherwise, proving, as it did, that
Oscar was in the right as to O’Shannon’s attack
being a mere feint; and in spite of his seeming
scorn of his old retainer’s fears, he could not help
experiencing a lurking feeling of uneasiness, the
cause of which he could not define. For had not
O'Bryan always behaved towards him in the most
open, and friendly manner? True he had annoyed
the young chief by so peremptorily ordering him to
occupy Fitzpatrick’s castle ; but did not the fact of
O’Shannon immediately threatening Kilchonan’s
dwelling (though he was afraid to proceed to
extreme measures) show how right O’Bryan had
been in divining the enemy’s mischievous designs on
Effie’s possessions ? and by his wise counsel, pre-
vented her home being attacked, and he retired to
rest that night in no enviable frame of mind. He
was angry with Oscar for questioning O’Bryan’s
good faith, angry with himself for letting these
suspicions trouble him, angry with O’Bryan for not
taking steps to crush O’Shannon, and angry with
Effie (though he grudgingly admired it) for her



76 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

coolness, and indifference to danger, which rendered
her deaf to all entreaties, and impervious to all
reasoning. He slept badly, and rose next. morning;
cross with himself and with everyone else. . .

Oscar, on his side, did not pass a pleasanter night.
than his master; but he did not go through the
form of pretending to sleep. A prey to every kind:
of fear which assumed more and more alarming
aspects the longer he dwelt on them, he felt he
could not rest, and taking up his station at the top
of the castle, from whence, in clear weather, a fine
prospect was obtained of the surrounding country,
he stood motionless, and watchful throughout the
hours of darkness. Unfortunately for his vision, a
thick mist hung round the place, and to his excited
imagination, all sorts of fantastic shapes, and weird
faces were continually appearing and disappearing
behind the grey veil which rendered even the nearest
objects indistinct. When the day broke, it found.
him still at his post, but his vigil was at last re-
warded, for spying eagerly on all sides to see if he
could detect anything stirring, he beheld in the
distance someone ‘hurrying towards Kilchonan, and
as the man came nearer, he recognised his nephew,
young Donald, whom he had left at Fitzpatrick
with strict injunctions to come and tell him if aught
was seen of O’Bryan-or his men. Guessing, there-
fore, his communication was of interest, he went
eagerly to meet Donald. Is all well? was the old
man’s anxious enquiry.



«IN THE. HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. V7

© All-ig well as yet,” was the - answer, ‘ but
O’Bryan hath been to Fitzpatrick.” -

«“ Ah!” exclaimed Oscar, grinding his teeth,
“when did he get.there ?”

_& About half an hour after thy departure. Isaw

him ride in, and’ I approached, remembering thou
badest me take note of what he said. The lady
Ethna met him at the door, and they walked
together to the little knoll, where they. sat down,
and it being an open space, I could not conceal
myself to hear what they said; but I judged by
the chief’s gesticulatious, that their discussion was
an exciting one. Presently they came back, and
the chief called for his horse. As he was mounting
I heard him say to his daughter—

“Remember! now, before nightfall to-morrow,
thou must quit this, or the consequences will be on
thy own head.” _

The lady, in answer, just nodded, and then said
.-“ Thou wilt, to-morrow, see Kilchonan.”

“ Ay, I must go there to keep him quiet. I shall
be with him in the morning and tell him everything
is all right here.”

“He would like to know! and I wish thou
couldest have heard the laugh he gave—it was like
the devil’s own.”

“‘T can believe it. He comes then here to-day?”

“ This morning.”



78 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOURe

“Tt is evident by bidding his daughter leave
before nightfall that he proposeth to carry out his
diabolical plot to night. I thank thee lad for
apprising me of this, forewarned is as they say
forearmed. Hie thee back to Fitzpatrick, and keep
thy eyes open, and thy mouth shut! I must devise
some means of preventing until to-morrow, O’Bryan
leaving this place, He is too cautious to let any-
thing in his absence be done.”

“* Cautious, thou mayest say that,” replied Donald
emphatically ; and taking leave of his aged relation,
he retraced his steps; and Oscar returned to the
castle to meditate on what he had heard, and plan
his actions accordingly.







CHAPTER X.

JS we have seen, O’Bryan’s arrival at

Fitzpatrick followed close on Kilcho-
nan’s departure. The old chief was
= growing furiously impatient, and
determined to bring matters to acrisis. But his
first care was to ensure Ethna's absence, for O’Bryan
loved his golden-haired child as well as his hard and
selfish nature was capable of loving. Her mother
had been a descendant of the hardy Norsemen ; and
the lovely maiden of those northern climes had
bewitched O'Bryan with her sunny hair, and bright
blue eyes. Fiercely did he mourn, and bitterly did
he curse the fate that consigned to a premature
grave, the fair child of the Vikings.

He loved as he hated, vehemently and wildly,
and when death came between him and his love, his
rage knew no bounds.

Angry that he had cared for her so much, he
vented his wrath on all mankind that had the mis-
fortune to come in his way. Never had he been
known to be so cruel, so remorseless, so regardless





. 8o . IN THE HUSH OF.THE EVENING HOUR.

of human life as during the first years that followed

- on his loss. For some time he could not endure
the sight of Ethna; her shapely, golden head
reminded him of what he had been bereft, but
time softened him in regard to his child; her
wonderful beauty grew upon him, and charmed him,
and as he marked the strong likeness she bore to
her mother, her face became pleasing to him, and
in a fashion, though in a rough one he loved her—
loved her as much as he allowed himself to love
anything again of which death might once more rob
him. His child’s safety was therefore, amid all his
plotting, paramount with him.

“ Thou must return to-morrow, Ethna, to Kil-
chonan,” said O’Bryan, as they seated themselves
on the grassy knoll overlooking the sea.

“ Wherefore, my father ?”

“Wherefore? because I wish it. Is not that a
sufficient reason for thee.”

“But Kilchonan will be returning here when he
hath dispersed O’Shannon and his kinsmen.”

« Q’Shannon will not be so easily dispersed ; that
is to say it will not be at present safe for Kilchonan
to leave his home.”

“Thou art seemingly now, as anxious that Fitz-
patrick’s castle should be vacated, as a few days
back, thou wert urgent it should be occupied.”

“ Circumstances alter cases, girl, There is now
no fear of this place being attacked.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 81

“T can then remain here.”

“No, thou canst not,” replied the chief, angrily.
“* Have I not said thou must quit to: morrow ?”

Ethna fixed her calm blue eyes on her father’s
face, and said: :

* Would it not be as weil, my father, to honour
me with thy confidence ?.”
“What meanest thou?”

“IT mean that if thou acquaintest me not, at least
in some degree, with thy plans, I may, unwillingly,
defeat them.”

“Methinks, child, thou wilt have trouble to do
that ;” and the smile the speaker gave was not a
pleasant one.

“JT care not what trouble it doth cost me, so that
I ensure Kilchonan’s safety.”

“ By obeying my commands, thou dost ensure it.
No one will harm him while I protect him. Cast
aside thy foolish suspicions and do my bidding!”

“What is it thou purposest to do here?” asked
Ethna, turning and pointing to Fitzpatrick’s
dwelling.

“What I please. Trouble not thy head about my
concerns! I promise thee Kilchonan’s safety, and
that is all for which thou carest.”

“That is all.”

* Good then, I go to him to-morrow, shall I bid
him tarry where he is, and thou wilt join him.”

* Hark! what sound is that?”
G



82 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

Clear, and strong rose Effie’s tones in the bright

sttmmer’s morning.

“It is the daughter of Fitzpatrick singing. She

hath a wondrous voice.”

“JT must go,” cxclaimed O'Bryan hastily, “ time
presses. Fare thee well, child !”

“] will walk to the gate with thee,” replied Ethna
rising. .

She did not care to stay and listen to that lovely
song.

As they descended the hill, the sound was borne
to them more clearly, and the deep pathos of the
air touched Ethna, and annoyed the chief.

“’Twould be well to cut that nightingale’ throat,”
was his muttered exclamation. “Such senseless
warbling is not pleasing to my ears, and he strode
on faster to the castle.”

When her father had gone, Ethna walked down
to the sea-shore, and turning an angle on the beach,
came suddenly on Effie leaning against the rock
with a harp by her side.

“I crave thy pardon,” stammered Ethna, for

- Kilchonan’s kinswoman was the last person she
wished to meet.

“There is no cause,” replied Effie courteously,
“the Ocean’s shore is free to all.”

“Thou hast been singing erewhile, to the great
deep,” said Ethna glancing at the harp.

“ Yes, altough here, one has no need of song, for
to me, there is music in the waves.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HUUR. 83

“The sea affords me little pleasure ; and in the
breaking of the waves there is to me more melan-
choly than mirth.”-

“Nay, that can hardly be ?”

“ Thou thinkest not?”

Ethna glanced at the speaker. The slight figure,
childish face, and wistful, innocent expression,
inclined O’Bryan’s daughter (at first) to despise the
gentle Effie; but, with all her simplicity, Effie was
possessed of an unconscious dignity of manner
which checked the scornful words ere they passed
Ethna’s lips.

“ Surely, thou wouldest rather laugh than ye ie
she said.

Efe hesitated.

“Tam not sure. “Tis true, we sometimes weep
from sadness ; but there are also tears of joy.”

‘ These last, methinks, thou sheddest but seldom,
if melancholy be to thee so dear.”

‘“‘Unhappiness is not my portion,” was the quiet
reply.

_The same sensation of awe began to steal over
Ethna, as had crept over Kilchonan when Effie
heard from him with so much calmness, of the
perils that surrounded her. ae

“Yet thy songs are always sad,” reamed Ethna
slightly colouring, “The other night I heard thee
singing throughout that dreadful storm.” .

“It was the song of love I sang,” replied Iffie
softly.



84 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

«‘ And is love always sad.”

“ Yes, love, if sweet, is always sad.”

“ Wherefore ! ”

“ Because love’s home is not on earth, and never,
methinks, can an exile be merry,”

The sweet voice and manner of the speaker
touched Ethna, and in a low voice, she said :

“Perchance, I have helped to make thee sad ?
If so, forgive me.”

Effie gravely smiled, and shook her head. “ Thou
wast not to blame ; and all is well with me.”

An overpowering feeling of self-reproach seized
Ethna, as she thought of her father’s dark hints,
and her own departure on the morrow. She deter-
mined to warn Effie of her danger, and see if she
could save her.

“My happiness would be great,” she said, “ if thou
wouldest be my friend.”

“Nor are we enemies,” was the quiet answer.
“T would fain love thee, if thou wilt let me, stam-
-mered Ethna, blushing deeply, and to-morrow I go
from hence. It grieves me to know, thou art left
alone in this old castle; for these days are not
peaceful ories; and great would be thy danger if
foes came here.”

“Trouble not thyself at leaving me, though I
thank thee for thy kindly thought, this old castle,
as thou termest it, is dear to me; and if foes
should come, then meeter were it that they found



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR, 85

Fitzpatrick’s daughter in her father’s home, than
like a coward taking refuge in the dwelling of a
stranger.”

The spirit which dictated these proud words found
an answering echo in Ethna’s heart. Her face
kindled with admiration.

“Effie” she exclaimed, “worthy daughter of
Fitzpatrick’s race, thy sentiments accord well with
mine, but, I beseech thee, be warned. I know that
there is danger in remaining here ; else would my
father not have warned me to depart.”

Effie shook her head, in token that she would
not yield ; and rose to go.

“ Sing me first one song,” said Ethna—and Effie
sang.

As the last notes died away, Ethna hid her face
to conceal the tears she could not suppress, and
when, after a few moments, she turned to thank her,
Effie was gone.

Proof against O’Bryan’s threats, Kilchonan’s
warnings, Oscar’s entreaties, and Ethna’s prayers,
proof against her own timid feelings, and beating
heart, the daughter of Fitzpatrick awaited calmly
in her ancestral halls, the bursting of the storm.









CHAPTER XI.
PEESSAHE fog had lifted; the clouds were



—

rapidly dispersing; and the sun was
coming out, giving promise of a
‘beautiful summer’s day. Kilchonan
erat at He gate of his castle, gloomily surveying
the scene. The restless night he had passed did
not tend to raise his spirits; and the beauties of
that June morning were lost on him.

“ Oscar,” he shouted, “look yonder! who comes
there over the brow of the hill?”

Oscar looked-—“ If I mistake not, it is the chief
O’Bryan,”

“Tis well, I desire to speak with him.”

‘Dark grew the brow of Oscar, as the grim chief
approached ; and had O’Bryan seen the !ook the
old retainer shot at him, as he dismounted, he
might have doubted the wisdom of his coming.

“Thou hast news of O’Shannon?” asked Kil-
chonan.

The chief smiled. “ Methinks, boy, thou
shouldest have been the one to answer that
question.”

“T fear thou, or perchance others for thee, are
strangely neglectful.”



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 87

« How meanest thou ?”

“O’Shannon hath rallied his force once more,
and is gradually surrounding thee.”

“ Kilchonan’s eyes flashed.

“Art thou sure of this? It was but yester-
night that Oscar came and told me the chief
meditated no further attack; and his men were
disbanding.”

* He told thee wrong; my information comes
from one who saw.”

“So have all these hours been wasted, fondly
dreaming all was quiet.”

“Greatly at a loss to know what could have
urged thy follower thus to deceive thee, worthy, as
I presume he is, of thy confidence ?”

“Till to-day, he was, but——-Oscar! catching
sight of the old man, come here.”

Oscar approached wiih an air of defiance that
irritated Kilchonan.

“ Didst thou not tell me we had nothing more to
fear from O’Shannon ?”

“J did, and I say so still.”

“Then thou sayest what is not true,” cried his
master angrily, “for instead of nothing, we have
everything to fear. O Shannon makest ready to
surround this castle.”

“ That will I not believe,” cried Oscar stoutly.

“ Scoundrel }” shouted O'Bryan, crimson with
rage, “ darest thou to doubt my word ?”



88 1N THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“Have a care!” exclaimed Kilchonan, “ thou
mayest too far try my patience. Whom didst thou
trust for thy information.”

“To mine own eyes.”

“Then, methinks, they are not worthy ones,”
sneered O’Bryan.

“They are better far than thine, inasmuch as
they discern twixt truth, and falsehood, which thy
distorted vision cannot do.”

At this audacious speech. O’Bryan stood for a
moment silent with rage, then drawing the dagger
he wore always concealed about him, he made a
movement as if to stab the speaker, but he was
prevented by Kilchonan springing forward and
exclaiming :

“By my faith Oscar thou must be mad insulting
thus a guest of mine. What meanest thou by such
behaviour? answer me, dost hear me,” he cried,
his passion rising at Oscar’s silence.

“ Wilt thou answer me?”

“Of what use, said the old man sadly, to answer
those who have no ears to hear ?”

Methinks caitiff thou posest for a would be
prophet,” cried O’Bryan with a rude laugh,“ but
despite thy prophetic utterances, I warn thee, if
thou valuest thy life, never again to let me hear
the sound of thy insolent tongue. Keep it for thy
master, for whose sake it is I now forbear to notice

further thy lying words.”





IN THE HUSH Ol THE EVENING HOUR. ig 89

“ Get thee gone” cried Kilchonan, “and intrude
not on my presence till thy mode of speech be
somewhat altered.”

Then turning to O’Bryan, he invited him to enter
the castle, saying ‘‘I crave thee, pardon my old
retainer’s rudeness ; he is but an unmannerly bear;
but he has long served me and mine, which makes
me loath to deal with him, as his conduct merits it.”

“ Say no more thereon,” cried O’Bryan, clapping
the young chief on the shoulder, “I hold thee not
responsible for thy follower’s behaviour; and as for
the ruffian himself, he is not worth a thought; only,”
and O’Bryan smiled grimly, “let him not come in
my way!” He shall not, he shall not, “ exclaimed
Kilchonan eagerly.” -

“Tis well, for truly, can I say that never yet,
suffered I any man to address to me such language
as he thought fit to use, so thou mayest take my
now enduring it as a great compliment to thyself.

O'Bryan then proceeded to point out to Kil-
chonan the necessity of remaining, for the present,
where he was, assuring him he would do his best to
crush O’Shannon, and would himself undertake the
defence of Fitzpatrick’s lands and castle.

” © Tn answer to Kilchonan’s half reproachful remark
that the powerful chief might, at once, have put an
end to all further hostile movements on the part of
O'Shannon, O'Bryan replied, “ Faith, so I would
have, had I but known he meditated so much



go i IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

mischief ; there are, however, wheels within wheels,
and one must have a care how one treads upon one’s
neighbour's toes. O’Shannon hath many friends,
whom it would suit neither thee nor me to offend.
Therefore, would I fain have dealt gently with him ;
but it seems soft words are wasted, so we must try
whether hard ones will better answer our purpose.
Ethna tells me she joins thee here to-day. I felt
somewhat anxious, |nowing foes were abroad, but
I did not like, well, to gainsay her.”

“Ethna!” exclaimed Kilchonan surprised,
“comes she here from Fitzpatrick? Methinks it
had been safer for her to abide where she is,”

“ Ay, ay, but a wilful woman must e’en have her
way. Perchance I may meet her on my homeward
ride.”

Having thus, as he flattered himself, removed
from the young chief’s mind, all suspicion of his
intentions, O’Bryan felt in a most amiable mood.
Never had Kilchonan found him so pleasant ; and
he reproached himself for having ever suspected
him, which assuredly he would not have done had
it not been for the dark hints, and unreasonable
hatred of Oscar.

It was drawing towards evening when O’Bryan
took leave of his host with the avowed intention of
returning to his own domains. They parted in the
most friendly manner ; and the sly chief chuckled
as he saw how completely he had managed to



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. ‘gL

deceive Kilchonan. “ Simpleton,” he muttered, as he
rodé along, “though fe is no worse than the rest,
they are none of them a match for me. Ha! Ha!
they, one and all, are hoodwinked! even Ethna
guesses ouly half my purpose.”

O’Bryan was wrong; there was one person who
was not hoodwirked, but had from the first seen
clearly through the chief’s designs. Perhaps it may
appear strange that Oscar should have been so
utterly wanting in all caution as to insult the fierce
O’Bryan to his face, and in the hearing also of his
master, wliom it could not fail to offend ; but it was
necessary for the carrying out of his plans. Oscar’s
first idea to shut the gates of Kilchonan Castle on
OC’Bryan was abandoned by him as useless ; for not
only would the young chief have insisted on his
guest going free, but would, if necessary, have got
further assistance, and forced Oscar to yield to his
commands. O’Bryan must, therefore be stopped on
the road to Fitzpatrick, where, out of earshot cf
Kilchonan and his men, Oscar trusted to his own
strong arm, and to the justice of his cause to grant
him success. Some excuse, however, must first be
found to absent himself from his master, and the
old retainer could think of no better plan than the
one he followed, namely, drawing down Kilchonan’s
anger on him, and being dismissed from his
presence.

«© So the old fox.warns me never to let him hear



g2 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

the sound of my tongue,” said Oscar to himself, as
he started for the spot where he meant to conceal
himself ; “well, I will gratify him, but whether the
point of my knife will better suit him, remains to
be seen. It is a blessing he rides alone; otherwise
two to one would have been a poor look out for me.
Ha! here is the tree, I marked it; and behind the
shelter of these friendly branches, I will wait till
that arch fiend passes, and ¢hex O'Bryan shall our
accounts be squared ;” and the old retainer’s eyes
gleamed as fiercely as did those of his intended
victim.

Many hours had Oscar to wait before he heard
the sound of a horse’s hoofs, and, peeping from
behind the tree, he beheld the chief coming along
at a leisurely pace. O’Bryan had time before him ;
his work was not till nightfall. Oscar remembered
this, and the remembrance made him grasp, with
additional firmness, the knife he held. It was the
work of a second to dash out, seize the horse’s
bridle, and aim a thrust with his weapon at the
rider, who, unprepared for this sudden apparition,
had drawn neither sword nor dagger. A gash
across the face was the first intimation O’Bryan
received of the old retainer’s presence. For a
moment he was stunned by the suddenness and
violence of the attack, but the next he had re-
covered himself, and, uttering a loud execration,
leapt from the saddle with an agility wonderful for



IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 93

his years, and, rushing at Oscar, steel in hand, the
two were soon engaged in a life and death struggle.
O’Bryan, stung like a wild animal to madness by
the wound he had received, and still further infuri-
ated by recognising in his assailant the man whom
his foolish clemency had that morning spared, lost
all self-command, and struck out wildly and
aimlessly. Oscar had succeeded in knocking the
dagger out of the chief’s hand, and was about to
plunge the knife into his heart, when the arrival of
.a third party changed the aspect of affairs.

After O’Bryan’s departure, Kilchonan had
mounted his horse and ridden forth with the idea
of ascertaining for himself the movements of
O’Shannon. Following the road O’Bryan had
taken, it was not long before he eame upon the two
combatants, and to his consternation and anger.
“Villain!” he cried, “throwing himself from his
horse, and seizing Oscar’s arm, wilt thou murder
the chief O’Bryan ?”

The old retainer vouchsafed no answer, but made
a desperate lunge at his enemy.

“Help! help!” gasped O'Bryan.

The young chief attempted to wrest the knife
out of Oscar’s hand.

*Stay thy hand,” cried the oid man, “let me
kill him, wicked, blood-thirsty hypocrite! He shai?
not escape now,”

For a second, he and his master struggled ; the



94 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

knife gleamed high in air, and Oscar—his strength
spent—staggered backwards—stabbed by the hand
of his loved lord! Then, as the old retainer fixed
his dying eyes with an expression of indescribable
sadness and affection on his chief, it rushed over
Kilchonan what he had done.

“ Osear, Oscar,” he cried, kneeling down beside
him ; “I have slain thee, thou best, and truest of
friends!” .

' At these words, a faint smile played over the
features of Oscar, and, as his lips moved, Kilchonan

bent over him to catch what he said. ‘It was for

thy sake, I did it. Thou shouldest have let me kill

_ hin first, then would I gladly have yielded up my

life—but—now—to have failed—to die by thy hand

—thou, for whom I would willingly have shed my

last drop of blood. O!”—and he sank back ex-

hausted. _ \

“What have I done,’ groaned Kilchonan.
“Would that I had lost my right arm ere I had
committed this cursed deed.”

“ Cursed deed!” sneered O’Bryan, who had
looked on, with angry impatience at this scene,
“perhaps if I had been lying where he is, thou
wouldest have called it a blessed one. However,
let me tell thee for thy consolation, that in no
case would the rascal have been suffered to live ;
so, by thy timely action thou hast saved me all
further trouble.”



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IN THE

Hush of the Evening Bour

BY THE

HON. MARCIA BAMPFYLDE.

AUTHOR OF ‘‘MAY HAMILTON.”

LONDON :
WELLS GARDNER, DARTON & Co,,
PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS,
EXETER: HENRY S. ELAND.
1892.



HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

. A LEGEND.

CHAPTER I...

SIN the western coast of the Emerald
Isle, once stood an old ruin which,
from its appearance, must have been
Z long years before, a building of con-
siderable dimensions. Sombre and grim looked
the dark ivy-clad buttresses, giving an idea both of
strength and of ferocity, as if the hand had been of
iron which had planned and reared the massive
pile. The site chosen was a good one. Noble
woods rose like protecting walls on the landward
side, the mighty ocean washed its foundations on
the other, while in the distance may be seen a soft
blue range of hills. It was a fertile well-watered
part of the country, and in summer time the eye
wandered with pleasure over the bright green
meadows, all aglow with the many tinted flowers.


2 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

Very charming, too, was it on days when the sun
beat fiercely down on the open country, to wander
through the magnificent woods with the sweet
music of the feathered tribes sounding in one’s ears,
coupled with the distant roar of the sea as the
waves broke upon the shore.. Lovely was the
legend connected with this spot! in keeping with
the weird beauty of the ruin, and not out of
harmony with the peaceful smiling landscape.

What was this legend ?

What was the lovely pathetic heartr ending song,
that in the hush of the evening hour, rang like a
wail through the dark forest ?

The chirping of the grasshoppers, the singing of
the crickets, the hoot of the owl, the stirring of
the branches by the summer breeze, and the
monotonous ebb and flow of the tide; all these
sounds were audible to the ear, but what was that
other sound borne on the gentle breeze—faint—
very faint at first—but gradually rising higher and
higher, till it swelled into a song so thrilling, so
powerful, so unspeakably mournful, and yet so
beautiful, that those who keard it could scarce
restrain their tears ? Strangely moving was the
sound! It seemed as if it rose from the depths of
the forest, lingered fora space among the ruins, as
if caressing a much loved spot, and then was borne
on the wings of the wind, on-—on—higher and ever
higher, till the strain died away in the starlit sky.
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 3

Will vou listen to a tale of centuries ago ?

Loud were the sounds of feasting and of mirth
in the halls of the chief of Fitzpatrick. They were
keeping high holiday in the stately castle, for was
not young Kilchonan of Kilchonan, as gallant and
perfect a chief as ever drew sword or handled lance,
to be betrothed to sweet Effie with the raven locks,
the gentle daughter of the haughty sire, whose very
name inspired as much fear as he of the lion heart
did to the enemies of the Cross. The shades of
evening were drawing on ere the banquet ter-
minated, and then Fitzpatrick rose, and lifting his
goblet said :

Friends, retainers, all, let us drink to the health
of my noble kinsman, and future son-in-law, who
has in many a hard-fought field proved himself
worthy of the noble race from which he springs.

Hearty and prolonged were the cheers with which
the guests responded to thie call, and then the lovely
maiden, whose nuptials were so soon to be cele-
brated, was honoured in like manner by the jovial
company.

After which the haughty chief called for music
wherewith to beguile the evening hours, and the
musicians fiddled away, and many a song was sung,
and many a story told in verse. Presently the
chief of Kilchonan asked. with bashful mien and
4 1N THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

trembling tones, if Fitzpatrick’s daughter—his
future bride—whose voice with its sweet and thril-
ling notes moved all hearts, would charm those
present with its sound.

Thus appealed to, the maiden advanced and with
heightened colour, awed by so large a gathering of
strangers, glanced round as if for support.

“ What shall I sing?” She murmured softly.

“ The song of love,” whispered a deep voice in
her ear.

“With a start she turned and saw the person
who had heard and answered her almost inaudible
question. He was an old man, dressed in a manner
more befitting a pilgrim, than a guest in the chief
of Fitzpatrick’s hall, and had entered unperceived.
Kilchonan drew the host’s attention to this strange
unbidden visitor.

“ What ho friend!” cried the chief, “how comest
thou hither, and with what intent dost thou thrust
thy-self uninvited into my presence? Methinks in
that doleful garb of thine thou cuttest but a sorry
figure within my festive castle. Speak then grey-
beard! art thou a seer, and pretendest thou to read
the future? Canst thou tell men’s fortunes, and in
the hope of gaining food and lodging art come to
tell me mine, ay, and my daughter’s and my gallant
kinsman’s? The prosperity and glory of ny noble
house must ever be a theme congenial to a minstrel’s
tongue-—for doubtless thy fingers are not strangers
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 5

to the harp. Sing then, and from thy old lips let
Kilchonan learn what honour hath been done him
by his winning thus my only child, and then mayest
thou show forth the future glories of Fitzpatrick’s
line.”

But the old man shook his head.

“ Alas! alas! my lord, in the future can I pro-
mise neither wealth nor honour to thy illustrious
house, naught but ruin and decay awaits Fitz-
patrick’s race. Thy very name will be forgotten or
live only in thy child, and as for thy kinsman of
Kilchonan, he shall be for a by-word and a curse ”—

“ Hold!” shouted the baron, his eyes ablaze with
fury, “arrest this insolent vagabond who has dared
. to address me thus in my ancestral home, and talk
to me and mine of ruin and disgrace.”

A movement was made by the retainers to seize
the offender, while Effie raised her hand beseechingly
as if petitioning for his pardon; but the old man
unheeding the angry looks and words of Fitzpatrick,
continued as if talking to himself—

“And if I did discourse of rained hopes and
fallen fortunes, what said I but the truth? What
is there in this world that can last for ever—that
can outlive time ? Nought, nought; but stay,” and
the speaker’s voice sank into a whisper, “one thing
can, but that one thing is not, and never will be
thine, chief of Fitzpatrick.” Then raising his voice
he thus addressed the furious host :—
6 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“No minstrel’s song or poet’s verse shall cele-
brate thy praises. The doughty deeds of which
thou boastest will perish with thee. Thy stately
halls will echo to no sound of human life or joy;
the owl and the bat will be its only tenants. Yet,
declared I not that one thing was imperishable—
that one sound shall be heard as long as time shall
last—heard in the twilight—heard in the darkness—
heard at the dawn? Centuries hence this castle’s
legend shall be told.” The speaker stopped abruptly,
There was something in his manner so mysterious,
so solemn, that involuntarily the bold Fitzpatrick
felt awed, and he repeated—-

“Legend! what legend shall attach itself to
these walls?”

“Bid thy daughter sing the song of which I
spoke to her erewhile, and thou shalt hear, if indeed
thou hast ears to hear.” Then in a voice whose
deep pathos and rare beauty thrilled through all
hearts, the maiden sang, but her song was not of
high born dames nor chivalrous knights, nor of a
warrior’s mighty exploits, nor of a conqueror's
triumph. No, she sang of the power of love, of its
loveliness, its holiness, its deathlessness, and the
strength of her voice was such, that it could be
heard fat around. Sometimes the sound seemed
to descend to the sea, and die away in the roar of
the billows ; sometimes it seemed to pierce through
the very rooftree and lose itself in the invisible ;
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. f 7

sometimes it sounded more like a wail than a song,
and a wail, so plaintive, that the greatest human
sound could not equal it in sadness; and then
again its strains became so joyous, that the greatest
human joy could not equal it in happiness.

As the last notes died away, the old man raised
his hand, and laying it gently on the maiden’s head,
said—

“ Hast ¢kow understood the meaning of this song,
my child?”

“* Methinks, my father, the wail is for the presence
of evil, the gladness for the triumph of good; it
penetrates the earth, the sea, and the sky, for its
power no boundary limits, its strength no bars
confine,”

“Tis well,” the aged pilgrim said. “So I bia
thee sing this song on summer evenings, Sing it
on starry nights. Let it be heard above the noise
of the tempest-tossed sea. Let it be heard in
the day of rejoicing. Let it be heard in the hour
of mourning. Let it be heard in the chamber
of sickness, and in the moment of death.”

Not a sound was audible in the vast hall as the
aged pilgrim pronounced these words. Everyone
from the fierce Fitzpatrick downwards stood as if
spell-bound, and it was not till some minutes after
the old man, waving his hand in token of adieu,
had disappeared, that the host recovered his power
of speech,
8 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Faith,” exclaimed he, “ I think that old magician
has bewitched us all with his absurd propheices.”

“Cheer up girl,” turning to his daughter, “give
us a tune now of a livelier sort, one that will make
us laugh, come!”

But Effie, in answer, shook her head only, and
was about to make an effort to withdraw from the
festive scene, when the clatter of horses’ hoofs were
heard.

“Go see who it is and what he wants with us,”
said Fitzpatrick imperiously..

The order was quickly obeyed, and in a few
minutes the horseman appeared.

Kilchonan instantly recognised his oldest and
most valued servant.

i Why Oscar!” exclaimed the young chief,
“what brings thee here ?”

“That brings me here which will bring thee
back,” answered the old man testily. ‘‘ Thou hast
been a somewhat long time away, and there are
those who have not failed to profit by thy de-
parture. Brien O’Bryan has levied a force, and is
preparing to march against thee. Added to this,
some of thy men incensed at thy frequent, and
long absences, and terrified also of the blood-
thirsty tyrant who, as thou well knowest, spares
neither youth nor age in his marauding excursions,
have joined him hoping thus to keep a roof over
their heads and save the lives of their families.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR, “9

“The traitors!” exclaimed Kilchonan, “1. will
soon shew them who is their master and to. whom
they owe allegiance ; but on what pretext has this
scoundrel, O’Bryan, taken up arms against me, and
seduced my retainers ?”

“He says thy people have been pillaging his
territory, and therefore he will lay waste thine with
fire and sword. But by my faith, I believe it is
false ; his love of plunder is well-known, and he is
always said to be as blood-thirsty as a wolf.
Return! return! then, my lord, thy presence only
will help to check the invader.”

“Stay kinsman,” interposed Fitzpatrick, as the
young man starting up, called loudly for his horse,
“Twill aid thee with a force to crush this villain.
I have had dealings with him of old, and bear him
no good will. Let him learn.now what fate awaits
the man who dares to attack, and rob one, in
whose veins flows the blood of Fitzpatrick. Go
back,” he added, addressing himself to Oscar, who
stood anxiously awaiting Kilchonan’s commands,
“and say that thy master is at hand with a force
more than sufficient to crush the invader ; and then
add that the chief of Fitzpatrick and a goodly
show of vassals are marching at his side.”

“My heartfelt thanks a thousand times,” ex-
claimed Kilchonan, warmly pressing his future
father-in-law’s hand.


CHAPTER II.

= JHE hurried preparations for speedy
departure now occupied Fitzpatrick
and his followers to the exclusion



M3} of everything else. Alike forgotten
were the pilgrim and his gloomy obscure sayings,
forgotten, that is by all but one, and that one could
take no part in the general bustle, could stand by
only and silently observe,

While Oscar was retailing his bad news, Effie
leant against a corner of the table with bowed head
and clasped hands, not daring to interrupt the
speaker. It was not that she was unaccustomed to
hear of war and rumours of war, but she knew the
character Brien O'Bryan bore—a character in which
vindictiveness and cruelty were prominent traits,
and though she had every confidence in her father's
power to aid, yet even with this aid, the Gerce war-
like O’Bryan was a formidable adversary for her
lover to face, and she could not conceal her anxiety
at the prospects of this dangerous expedition.


IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. II

“ How now child!” exclaimed Fitzpatrick catch-
ing sight of her pale face, woe begone countenance,
“ what ails thee that thou lookest the colour of a
spectre ?”

“Tt was the thought of Kilchonan, and of thee
my father going forth to this dread encounter.”

“Dread encounter,” laughed Fitzpatrick scorn-
fully, “the idea of a combat to affect thee!
Wouldest thou have thy future husband but a
carpet knight, and tie him for ever to thy apron
strings? Go to girl! Such folly is unworthy of a
daughter of Fitzpatrick’s house.”

“Nay, nay,” interrupted Kilchonan, who had
that moment approached and heard what was
passing, “chide her not. It is but excess of affec-
tion that makes her so apprehensive, and at which
I, for one, am deeply flattered. She rates me
indeed above my worth, but should I blame her
for it? Effie,’ he whispered, gently taking her
hand, “come this way, I would speak with thee a
moment.”

The maiden silently acquiesced and, as he led
her from the hall Kilchonan saw that her eyes
were full of ‘tears.

It was a lovely summer evening, not a cloud to
pe seen; all around looked so beautiful, so peaceful,
it seemed hard to believe there was such a thing as
war! The sea lay calm as a rippling lake, and the
glorious hues of the setting sun threw a golden
12 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

light on the smooth waters and lit up the faces of
the lovers as they came down the grassy slope to
the sea shore. For a space neither spoke. There
was an undefined feeling of sadness in both their
hearts. Kilchonan’s departure on such an errand
was indeed in those days no uncommon thing, but
Effie felt, though she could not tell why, as if they
were bidding each other farewell for ever. It.was
Kilchonan who at last broke the silence.

“Effie, Mavoureen; why art theu so sad ?”

Effie raised her sweet young face, and in a
quivering tone replied—

“ Art thou not going to encounter a terrible foe ?
Many are the tales I have heard of the strength
and ferocity of the O’Bryan. Dost thou not re-
member when he fell on Q’Shannon and his men,
how, after cruelly torturing them, he put them to
death, and then set fire to the castle of the hapless
chief, and razed to the ground all the dwellings of
his retainers, leaving weak women, and defenceless
children to perish by the roadside of cold and star-
vation? and now ¢#ow art to meet this monster, he
deserves not the name of man. If.he remains
victor in that awful struggle—for awful it will
surely be, knowing as I do thy fiery valour and
my father’s fierce temper—and thou falles: into his
hands—alive! O my God! I tremble to think
of what would be thy fate and—mine, for every
blow that. fell on thy head would recoil on mine,
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 13

and the sword that pierced thy heart would pene-
trate mine also; and yet thou askest me—where-.
fore am I sad?”

“Nay, nay, my own fair Effie, thou art’ dis-’
tressing. thyself above measure. I shall return;
thou knowest how strong a force thy father can
bring with him, and I, for my part, can muster no
small number. There are others, too, who may fly
to my aid, for O'Bryan is universally execrated,
and none besides his immediate followers will move
a finger to help him.”

“Yes, there is truth in what thou sayest, and
well I know I am but a weak and foolish girl to”
torment myself and thee with these. cowardly
fears. But it is not so much thy bodily safety
that fills me with such chill forebodings as—’

“ As what ?” asked Kilchonan, softly.

“ As,” with a convulsive sob she could no longer
repress, “the fear of losing thee, not indeed by
death, but in a way infinitely more terrible than
death—compared to which death would be mer-
ciful—” she paused unable to find utterance,

“What in heaven’s name meanest thou, my
Effie?”

“J mean,” she answered, stifling with difficulty
her emotion, “that thou mightest forget me, thou
mightest learn to love another, ay, thou mightest
wed another.”

“Now by my faith,” exclaimed Kilchonan,
I4 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

what have I done that thou shouldest so malign
me in thy strength?”

“Effie, Mavoureen! say, say, what vile traitor
has dared to whisper so foul treason in thine ear.
Speak, child!” and the young man with flashing
eye and dilating nostrils clutched fiercely at his
sword.

An expression, both of relief and of assurance,
passed over the maiden’s face.

“My darling, my own noble Kilchoaan, forgive
me, forget that I have uttered such wicked words,
harboured such base thoughts. I see now how
true, how good thou art, and I O! how I
have insulted thee! But pardon me, for thou
knowest how great is my love for thee, how I
dream of thee, and thou only art in my waking
thoughts ; and just because my affection is so
deep, is it that I am beset with so many foolish



fears.”

“My Effie, my own little Effie, I beseech thee
stay thy tears or thou wilt surely break that
foolish, loving heart of thine. Tell me truly,
child, those thoughts by which thou hast so
deeply injured me were not awakened by the
poisonous suggestions of another, but were truly
the print of thy own morbid imagination ?”

“ Even so, but say thou wilt think no more of
my wild words. Whisper to me ere thou goest
that thou lovest me as I love thee.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 5

There was a strange passionate tenderness in
Effie’s voice which thrilled powerfully through her
companion.

“ Needest thou,’ he answered, “that I should
assure thee of that which thy own heart must
so well know? Thou sayest thou lovest me, thou
askest me to tell thee that my love equals thine.
But I cannot, for our love is not equal in passion,
in intensity, in tenderness. Mine surpasses thine,
inasmuch as I have never. doubted thee O}
Efe! can you doubt me?”

“No, no, no,” she cried, “I do not, I will not,
I cannot. But when wilt thou come back to thy
faithful and loving Effie.”

“Courage Mavoureen! Such shrinking fears are
not sweet for a warrior’s daughter, and a warrior’s
—wife. Listen, child, I go hence now to fight for

_my honoured house, and for my father’s proud

name. Thine image will always be present to my
eyes, I shall behold it amid the din of the battle-
field, in the glorious hour of victory, and (if fortune
smiles not on my arms) in the terrible moment of
defeat. If I die, I die in fighting for my father’s
house, and thou wilt know that my last thought on
earth was of thee ; the last word I uttered was thy
name, But if I escape and return once more to
thy dear side; if I crush my dastardly foe and
prove to all men that I forget not what blood runs
in my veins, then,’ and a smile came over the
16 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

speaker’s face; “shall I have one boon to ask. of
thee, gentle lady, which none but thou canst
grant.”

« Ask what thou wilt, well dost thou know thou
wilt not be refused.”

“T shall ask thee, then, to be my own fair
bride!”

Awhile, Kilchonan lingered on the heights over-
looxing the sea-shore. Beautiful was the scene to
his eyes, but not so beautiful as was the sound that
reached his ears, for the sweet rich voice of her
whom he loved was singing to the moon-lit waves,
but the last note he heard as he left Fitzpatrick’s
halls seemed in its deep melancholy, in its bitter
wail, in its pathetic beauty to be bidding him an
everlasting farewell. The young chief lifted his
cap—

“Pray God.I come back safely to thee, my
Effie, my darling, my own fair bride! O! sweet
foolish child with thy wondrous gift of song! how
couldest thou, for one moment, think that I shall
ever love any but thee ?”






CHAPTER III.

E shades of night were drawing on ;
and one by one, the starry sentinels
on high, were silently taking their
accustomed places; when the fierce
encounter between C’Bryan and Kilchonan was
brought to a close. Ghastly was the scene of
conflict! the dead and the wounded lay strewn
around in melancholy confusion. Livid agonised
faces were upturned to the evening sky, contrasting
strangely with the unutterable peace, and loveli-
ness of the star-lit vault above. The hoarse cries
for water, the faint gasps of poor sufferers, as grim
death claimed them, the deep moans of those in
the last extremity of torture, all this fell pain-
fully on the listening ear.

As the gentle daughter of Fitzpatrick had pre-
dicted, the fight had been a most obstinate and
bloody one, and had ended alas! in the defeat
of Kilchonan, and in the death of Fitzpatrick.
Before the sun of that fatal day set, Effie was
an orphan, and the prophecy of the aged minstrel,

Cc


18 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

concerning the destruction of Fitzpatrick’s castle,
seemed in a fair way to be realised.

And Kilchonan! what of him? he was not
indeed dead, but wounded, and a prisoner !

After the battle, O’Bryan gave orders that all
captives of note were to be taken alive to his
castle, and there securely immured. Such was
Kilchonan’s fate. He was flung, feverish and
suffering, into a dark cell, and there—his fierce
gaolers having seen to all the bolts and bars, and
indulged in some scurrilous jests at his expense—
left to his own reflections. These were not of a
pleasant nature. His kinsman dead, his followers
dispersed, a relentless enemy ravaging probably
both his lands and those of Fitzpatrick; and—
bitterest thought of all—Effie unprotected and at
the mercy of the conqueror. The mere thought
of this was insupportable ; and Kilchonan, in his
rage and despair, dashed himself against the door
of his prison; but he might as well have tried to
soften the hearts of O’Bryan and his men, as to
break the bars of his dungeon. Soon, too, the
pain of his wound compelled him to desist from
further exertion, and throwing himself on the
ground, he renounced all hope of succour.

Meantime, this young chief’s fate had been the
subject of serious thought to O’Bryan. His first
impulse was to slay him, and take his lands, but
upon reflection he hesitated, By the death of
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 19

Fitzpatrick, Kilchonan, after Effie (supposing her
claim was taken into account, which, being a
woman, was in those days doubtful) was heir to
his kinsman; and, therefore, were he at liberty,
he would be in possession, not only of his own
lands, but also of all Fitzpatrick’s. Now the wily
O’Bryan was fully aware of the many enemies
that surrounded him, and he doubted his being
allowed to hold in peace the vast possessions of
the two chiefs. It, therefore, occurred to him
whether it would not be better to release Kil-
chonan and restore him his domains, including
those of his kinsman, on condition of his espous-
ing Ethna, O’Bryan’s daughter and only child, and
thus entering into an alliance with his captor.
Q’Bryan was not ignorant of the proposed mar-
riage between Kilchonan and Effie; but the choice
of life, liberty, and wealth on the one hand, and
a cruel death on the’ other, would be, he thought,
more than sufficient to induce the young chief to
break his faith with his betrothed. In any case,
as O'Bryan would point out to him, he would
never now wed the girl; as if he refused com-
pliance with the conqueror’s conditions, his life
would pay the forfeit. ,

A few days later, O'Bryan gave orders for a
general slaughter of all the prisoners, with the
exception of Kilchonan ; and in order that his
intended proposals might meet with greater favour .-
20 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

from the young chief, he caused him to see the
unfortunate captives put to death; and having
thus, as he considered, disposed Kilchonan’s mind
towards him, O’Bryan ordered him to be brought
into his presence.

Dejected, pale, with bowed head, and slow step,
it would have been difficult to recognise in the
Kilchonan, who was led a prisoner into O’Bryan’s
hall, the brilliant young chief who had feasted so
merrily at the banquet of the lord Fitzpatrick ;
who had stood with his gentle cousin on the shore
of the sounding sea, and laughed at her fears when
she expressed doubts of the favourable issue of
the fight ; who had ridden forth, in all the pride
of youth and strength, from his kinsman’s home,
buoyed up with such high hopes, and with the
notes of Effie’s song ringing in his ears. Yet,
this was only a few days ago—but what changes
in this short time !

“Young man!” said O'Bryan, in his deep voice,
“JT have forborne to take thy life with those of
thy comrades, because thy youth and misfortune
move me with pity. Doubtless, thou hast had evil
counsellers about thee—notably thy late kinsman,
Fitzpatrick, always of a savage and grasping
nature—who withheld from thee the true cause
of my righteous anger. Tor, that a simple act
of justice like mine in giving thieves their deserts,
granting they were dwellers on thy territory, could
iN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 21

surely meet with nought but gratitude, saving thee,
as I did the trouble of ending thyself the lives
of these wretches. My heart’s desire is to dwell
in peace with all mankind ; and beyond measure
was I astonished and grieved, when I heard of
thy sudden, and ill-advised march against me.
What sayest thou in defence of that rash-step ?
which has caused so many of thy brave followers
—and alas! of mine also—to find an early grave!”

Kilchonan, at this question, raised his head with
a gesture of ‘surprise, and an expression, of such
haughty disdain on his handsome features, which
showed, notwithstanding the change in his appear:
ance, his courage was unabated.

“‘ This war, as thou well knowest, was not sought
by me. Not until thou hadst plundered my men
and wasted my land, did I dream of attacking
thee ; what I have done has been done in self-
defence, and in no aggressive spirit. Thou sayest
thy heart’s wish is to dwell in peace with all man-
kind, methinks thou art in no hurry to gratify thy
heart’s most laudable desire.”

The manner in which he uttered those words
were not unworthy of Kilchonan’s race.

“So ho! young man! thou thinkest it meet to
jest with me? But have a care, it would be well
for thy father’s son to remember where, and what
he is, and with whom he is conversing.”

Kilchonan’s eyes flashed.
22 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Speakest thou to me thus,” he cried, indig-
nantly ; “thinkest thou to terrify me by thy
menaces into declaring that thy quarrel was a
just one; that thou wast in the right, and my
poor kinsman and I in the wrong; that thou
hast the least idea of what truth, and honour,
and justice means?”

Kilchonan got no further. Uttering a savage
cry of rage, followed by a tremendous oath,
Q’Bryan rushed at his prisoner, hurled him to
the ground, and held his dagger to Kilchonan’s
throat. “Now,” he hissed rather than spoke,
“dost thou still call me a wicked and blood-
thirsty tyrant?”

“ Assuredly,” was the young chief’s calm reply ;
for I esteem that man wicked who takes that,
which, next to my honour, is to me most precious ;
and thou leavest me no room to doubt that thou
thirstest for my blood ; and truly may name thee
tyrant, who hesitates not to slay a wounded and:
defenceless man.”

O’Bryan loosed his hold, and reddening perhaps
with shame at his violence, or more likely with
vexation at finding his designs. not so easy of
accomplishment, said— Bs

“There! I meant thee no harm! ’tis Eut in
sportive jest, I shewed thee my shining blade.
I like thee well, boy; thou hast a nerve of iron
and a heart of steel. Fain would I give thee
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR, 23

cause to eat thy words of this day ; be thou here
as a guest, not as a prisoner, as my friend, not
as my enemy.”

“My friend!” echoed Kilchonan;” I know

not how that can be. But why,” he added im-
patiently, “all this dallying, and senseless talk
regarding friendship? The best way of proving:
thy kindly feeling towards me will be to plunge
that shining knife of thine into my heart.”
- “Be it so then,” replied O'Bryan, “here goes!”
and he lifted the steel high in air, when his arm
was suddenly tightly clasped, and a girl’s terrified
voice exclaimed—

“Father! what wouldest thou do? Murder in
cold blood, under thine own roof, one who is a

captive, unarmed ?”

«He bade me do it,” answered the chief, grimly ;

“and as to my killing him in cold blood, he has
taken good care to prevent that, seeing for the
last hour my blood has been kept at boiling pitch:
with his insolent lies.”

“Lies!” Kilchonan began, but so imploring a
look was given him by the maiden, that courtesy
forbade his continuing.

“Ay, lies!” shouted O'Bryan ; “and thou, girl,”
turning to his daughter, “this is no place for thee;
begone !”

“ But father

“ Begone, I say.”

a)


24 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“T will not go,” she exclaimed, passionately,
loosening her hold of the chief’s arm, and placing
herself between him and his prisoner, “until thou
swearest to spare this young man’s life. Nay
frown not so fiercely, better far for thee to hearken
to my request, but if thou wilt not accord to me
my prayer, then will I stand between thee and
him; and thy knife must pass through my heart
to reach his.”

“What ails the girl?” exclaimed O’Bryan, with
an oath.

“ What ails me, sayest thou? Such an ailment
as will prevent me assisting unmoved at a foul
murder perpetrated by my father.” °

“Thy words, Ethna, are somewhat strong,” said
O’Bryan, hoarsely.

« Ay, for they are true, and, therefore, are they
strong. Hear me, father,” she continued gravely,
in a voice not soft and sweet, like Effie’s, but clear
and decided, “give this young man his life, and
let him free. Then will he be thy faithful ally
in return for this thy mercy.”

“ What sayest thou ?” inquired the chief, turning
to Kilchonan. “If I listen to my daughter's
prayer, wilt thou cease to be my foe?”

The young man’s fair intercessor besought him
with a pleading, and so bewitching a glance, to
answer in the ‘affirmative, that he cculd not find
it in his heart to say her nay, and reluctantly,
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 25

he murmued “Yes,” consoling his pride, however,
‘with the reflection that he could give O’Bryan a
truer, and more befitting answer, when this lovely
and courageous girl was gone !




CHAPTER IV.

“OW the scene in the previous chapter
had been rehearsed beforehand be-
tween O’Bryan and his daughter.
Knowing the bold impetuous char-
acter of his prisoner, O’Bryan expected his over-
tures to be rejected at first with scorn; and as he
could not stoop to plead, and he did not choose
to discover all his plans, he feigned to resent
fiercely Kilchonan’s taunts, and bitterness, and to
act in a manner consistent with his established
character. Ethna’s interference had saved at the
same time the young chief’s life, and her father’s
dignity, for he could yield without humiliation to
her prayers; and the fact of Kilchonan owing
his life to her entreaties could not but give him
a feeling of gratitude towards her, and so further
her father’s plans.

No opportunity was afforded to Kilchonan for
revoking his assent to O’Bryan’s demand. At a
signal from the latter, one of the attendants



IN THE HUSH Ol THE EVENING HOUR. 27

brought the young chief’s sword; and O'Bryan,
with as much grace as he could assume, presented
it saying—

“Mayest thou receive this with the same plea-
sure, and in the same spirit that I give it,”

Kilchonan bowed as he took the weapon ; but
O'Bryan did not allow him time to reply, for,
without waiting for an answer, he instantly with-
drew; and Kilchonan was left alone with Ethna.
A deep sigh of relief escaped the girl. Kilchonan
looked at her. Very lovely was the golden-haired,
blue-eyed daughter of Brien O'Bryan, and very
different from gentle Effie with the raven locks;
soft, dove-like eyes; but perhaps the very fact
that no comparison was possible, inspired Kil-
chonan with great admiration for his fair deliverer.

“ How glad I am,” she said, with a sweet smile,
“my fathers wrath is appeased. Such fear seized
me when I heard of his victory, and of the number
of prisoners he had taken, for well know I my
impatience to save their lives.”

“It is not that my father is really so blood-
thirsty as is commonly reported, but he acts, alas!
so often in the heat of anger, and then, when his
savage mood has passed, regrets, too late, what he
has done. Thus was I apprehensive it would be in
thy case, but now thou hast agreed with him—in
how I thank thee for so doing and sparing my
father the guilt of murder—his wrathful feelings
28 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

will abate; and thou wilt returnin peace to thy home.”

‘‘T owe thee my life, lady, for had it not been for
thy intercession thy father’s dagger would have
found a resting place in my heart ; and I know not
how my debt to thee can ever be repaid. There-
fore was it that I yielded to thy wishes, and
answered as thou desired; but my feelings were
notin accord with my speech. My noble kinsman’s
blood cries out to me for vengeance, and his
daughter and his lands, must I defend?”

“If.thou swearest to lay aside thy arms and
abandon all projects of revenge thy kinsman’s lands
will be untouched, and no one will be found to
harm his daughter. Thou hast to consent only to
terms of peace,.and my father will, I am sure, leave
thee and thine unthreatened.”

“Ah! gentle lady, but little doth thou know war
and its results if thou imagined thy father will
forego the rich and wide domains of Fitzpatrick.
Compensation will he demand for his losses in the
fight ; and thou oughtest to be aware what he so
demands he will get, or rather take.”

“What is it then thou purposest to do, with a
touch of scorn in her voice ?”

“Rescue my kinswoman at the point of the
‘sword, if need be.”

“Tt is possible there may be need, was the
chilling answer ; but I doubt much if thou wilt be
the one who can supply it.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 29

- «What. meanest thou, asked Kilchonan, passion-
ately ?”

“Thou talkest of flying to thy kinswoman’s aid.
What road wilt thou take to get there ?”

Involuntarily Kilchonan grasped the hilt of his
sword. Ethna saw the movement and smiled.

‘© Thinkest thou my father and his retainers are
sleeping? Does thou imagine that thou wilt be
allowed to go hence and call thy people and Fitz-
patrick’s to arms, and no man here to say thee nay ?”

“Tf,” replied Kilchonan, I am to remain here a
close prisoner, separated from all I love—”

“From one thou lovest would be more correct,”
put in Ethna.

The young chief’s eyes flashed.

« Ay, from one above all. Better, if this be so,
that my enemy’s steel had reached its destination,
for life purchased at the price of liberty is nothing
but a living death.

“Nay, nay,” replied Ethna, soothingly, “ thou art
so vehement, so rash. Listen! I will tell thee how
thou mayest yet be free, and not only free, but in
the enjoyment of thy lands. Sign an agreement
with my father not to bear arms against him, enter
into a close and cordial alliance with him, break
thy troth with Fitzpatrick’s daughter ”—

“Never!” shouted Kilchonan.

“And wed me,” she continued, unheeding the
interruption.
30 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ These then be thy terms, O’Bryan!” muttered
the young man, almost choking with rage. “Oh!
Oh! my life was spared simply that thou mightest
have the fiendish pleasure of torturing me ;” and,
turning to Ethna, he added, “methinks thou
mayest have known that never-would I agree to
such conditions. Therefore, I pray thee, seek thy
father and tell him to end without further ceremony
the life of one who, to his dying hours, must
remain his bitterest, and most implacable foe.”

“ No need to seek my father, the order has gone
forth. Thou art a prisoner here, at liberty to go
about within the castle’s walls, but not beyond
those walls until thou seest. fit to come to an under-
standing with thy host. Also, I may tell thee that
for three days Fitzpatrick’s daughter is safe; but
if, at the expiration of that time, thou has not
arrived at the only decision open to thee, she
herself will be given in marriage to some person
selected by my father; and Fitzpatrick’s lands
. divided between her husband and the victor.”

Kilchonan stood speechless, gazing fixedly befcre
him.

“See,” continued Ethna, “I have told thee all
now, and, however much fault thou findest with
O’Bryan’s conditions, they are unalterable. I
counsel thee to think them well over, for—although
I would willingly serve thee to the utmost of my
power, despite thy abrupt and discourteous refusal
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 31

of my hand—in this instance I am powerless;
inasmuch as no man has ever succeeded in
changing my father’s resolve; how then can a
weak woman hope so to do?”

With these words the fair Ethna withdrew.

Kilchonan. remained, plunged in thought. He
was calculating his chances of escape. Evidently,
from what O’Bryan’s daughter had said, he was
guarded on all sides. Verily Fate had dealt hardly
with him, preserving his life, indeed, but only to
spend it as a prisoner, or submit to the humiliating
conditions of having a wife thrust on him, whom,
till that day, he had never seen ; and entering into
an alliance with her father, whom he hated. The
vision of Effie rose before him. Effie with her
sweet, earnest face, and glorious powerful voice!
How divinely she sang! Kilchonan thought of the
last sound that had fallen cn his ear when he went
forth—as he then hoped—to victory! What was
she doing now? Was she singing to the moving
waves? Had they told her he was a prisoner?
Did she wonder why he did not return ?

It was doubtless only his imagination, but again
he seemed to hear the sweet strains of that song
the aged minstrel had bid Effie sing at her father’s
banquet. Kiichonan stood entranced. Yes, there
it was once more—now loud—now soft—now
merry—now pleading—and at times so divinely
beautiful that a mist came over the young man’s
32 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

sight ; throughout that evening he heard it. When
sitting in O’Bryan’s hall, at the feast to which the
chief had bidden him, he heard it ; above the loud
jokes and uproarious laughter of his host, above
the clear bell-like tones of Ethna, above the clash
of arms and the incessant buzzing talk of O’Bryan’s
followers, above everything and everybody he
heard it; and when he lay down to sleep it
followed him into the land of dreams.


CHAPTER V.

WEEK had passed since Kilchonan’s
| conversation with Ethna—a conver-
sation that was destined to be the
first of very many. The captive
chief could not now complain of his treatment ;
every civility was shown him; everything done to
make his enforced stay a pleasant one. O’Bryan
was courtesy itself, and Ethna most charming, and
fascinating, so fascinating that Kilchonan found con-
siderable pleasure in her company; and at times,
the thought flashed across him whether, after all, he
had not better subsmit to his host’s terms; for no-
thing was to be obtained by resistance: and if he
married Ethna, Fitzpatrick’s daughter would be left
unmolested. O'Bryan, too, he thought, was not
such a monster as had always been represented ; so
that an alliance with him would have nothing so
very disagreeable in it ; and the friendship of two -
such powerful chiefs would probably put an end to

the many petty wars that were always occurring, and
D


34 _ IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

ensure for some time a general peace. Kilchonan
was raised from his meditations by the voice of
Ethna. “ How grave thou seemest! and thy brow
is clouded. Has aught happened to annoy thee ?”

“Nay,” replied Kilchonan; “I was but thinking
how inexorable is fate.”

“And to fight her, is but waste of breath ;” re-
plied the maiden quietly. “ Thou thinkest fate has
dealt hardly with thee, but my lot is a far bitter
one than thine.’

Her voice faltered, and the tears stood in her
eyes. .

“ Surely not,” said Kilchonan, kindly, “ thy lot is
a happy one. Look how thy father dotes on thee !
thy home is secure, for he is strong, and able to hold
his own against his foes; and in these days, alas,
might is indeed right.”

Ethna shook her head. “I am not happy, for
though my father cares for me in his rough way, he
is oftentimes very harsh—nay, almost cruel—if
by any mischance I cross his will, and this I cannot
forbear doing, when some poor prisoner's life is hang-
ing in the balance.”

“ Tell me,’ asked Kilchonan, softly, “was thy
father wroth with thee for interceding for my life?”

“ Perhaps—a little,” replied Ethna, hastily, “ but
that matters not. I told thee his terms; and when
I saw how hard they appeared unto thee, I did en-
deavour to obtain some concession; but he will
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 35

concede nothing, and drove me with threats from his
presence ; so that, coward as I am, I dare not again
approach the subject.”

She paused, and clasping her hands, added sadly,
‘In three more days the time is up, and how
to save thee.”

“T know not.”

Kilchonan was deeply touched at this solicitude
on his behalf. She had braved then her father’s
anger for his sake, and what return was he going to
make her for her kindness ?

Infuriate O’Bryan by resistance, and cause her the
pain of knowing her father a murderer. The young
chief was sorely perplexed. If he continued firm
in his refusal of O’Bryan’s offers, death awaited him ;
and violent hands would be laid on Effie; and this
fair girl would be bowed down with remorse for a
crime for which she was guiltless. Looking at
Ethna, he saw she was now weeping.

“Sweet maiden!” he exclaimed, taking her hand s
I beg of thee not to grieve. Thou shalt no more
suffer pain on my account, fetch hither thy father
that I may tell him I submit to his condition.”

The .word submit grated on Ethna’s ear.

“I thank thee from my heart,” she sadly said ; “and
not long will I burden thee ; for, directly we leave
this place I willtake such measures as shall rid thee
of me, and then again free, thou mayest wed thy

kinswoman and still keep friends with my father.”
D?
36 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

« Ah! what is this that thou sayest ? How darest
thou allow thyself for one moment to imagine that
I will ever connive at such villiny? How darest
thou even make mention in my presence of such
wicked treachery? No, Ethna, no, I forget not of
what race I come, and I scorn



“And proudly, I also forget not of what race
I come,” interrupted Ethna, and I scorn to fetter
with my presence one who cares not for me,
therefore, to satisfy my father and escape from here,
wed me, and then once outside these walls, I will
leave thee, Hush! not a word more;” as Kil-
chonan was about to interrupt her, “here comes my
father.”

Greatly pleased was O'Bryan to find his scheme
realized.

Ile assured the young chief, that from hencefor-
ward he would be dear to him as his own son, that
their interests would be identical, their aims and
ambitions the same, and with many other such
_ expressions, concluded by giving him his paternal
blessing, and offering up a prayer that all jealousies
and misunderstandings might now cease between
the two great houses of Kilchonan, and of O’Bryan ;
and they might pass the remainder of their lives
united by the closest bonds of friendship.

If by these earnestly expressed hopes uttered in
as solemn a manner as O’Bryan could assume, he
thought to impress Kilchonan with his sincerity, his
object was lost, as the young chief heard not one
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 37

word, Ile was engrossed by the thought of Ethna;
his eyes saw only her. What a brave self-sacrificing
girl she was, thus to procure his release, and having
done that, to offer to end her life rather than stand
between him and happiness! She was proud too:
and Kilchonan admired pride. Somehow, in his
mind, pride was always associated with courage,
and he wished Effie had a little more of the former.
But she was so gentle, so yielding, so easily moved °
to tears. Se would never have thrown herself like
Ethna between O’Bryan and his prisoner; se would
never be capable of sustaining the part Ethna
proposed to play during the next few days. -Was
it not therefore much better in turbulent times like
these, to have a brave wife like the fierce O’Bryan’s
daughter. than the gentle, clinging, tender wife.
Effie would assuredly be? Poor little thing, she
was very loveable, very engaging ; but if she were
allowed to live unmolested in Fitzpatrick’s Castle,
she would soon get over the disappointment his
marriage with another would cause her ; particularly,
when she understood that, unless he was prepared
to die, he had no choice left but to fall in with
O’Bryan’s views. Surely, if she loved him as she
professed to do, she would rather see him free, and
in possession of his estates, than know him dead.
It was very sad for her, but no more so for him ; it
was the luck of war and they must both accept the
inevitable. In spite therefore of some misgivings as
38 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

to Effie treating matters as lightly and pleasantly
as ie was disposed to do; he managed by dint of
reasoning to persuade himself that he was really
fond of Ethna, and that she was much better suited
to him than Effe.

Ethna was not slow in perceiving the change in
his manner, but was inclined to put it down to his
approaching prospect of escape from imprisonment
in O’Bryan’s gloomy castle ; so the gayer he grew,
the sadder she became; till at last, noting her
melancholy he drew from her by dint of question-
ing, the avowal that it was her love for him that
made her so sad. and the bitter conciousness of how
soon they must part. Then Kilchonan urged on by
the conclusion he had come to that day, and
fascinated by her charms and beauty, not only
confessed he cared for her, but even went so far as
to say the affection he bore her was greater than he
had ever felt for his young cousin. “ Effie, he said,
is most sweet and loveable ; but she is not like thee,
my Ethna, not sensible and courageous as thou art.”

“ You flatter me,” replied she, smiling, “though, in
truth, I know not how hard my father’s child would
have lived, was she possessed of the gentleness and
timidity of Fitzpatrick’s daughter. Lived we in
other times, it might be well to possess these pleas-
ing qualities, but now they serve us not?” “ True,”
replied her companion, “ but with us to protect her,
Effie will be suffered to dwelt in peace, sheltered
from those storms she is so unfit to face.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 39

“ Ay, under thy protection, and my father’s, Fitz-
patrick’s lands will be safe from invasion, but thou
wilt have openly to take possession of them, else

they will not long temain free from attack.”

“Certainly, I will guard them, but they are not
really mine till her death.”

“Or her marriage,” put in Ethna, quietly,

“Her marriage ?” exclaimed Kilchonan, sharply,
and in a tone which showed the subject was not
agreeable to him; “‘ Nay, were she to marry, they
never would be mine, she would give them to her
husband.”

“And that,” interrupted Ethna, “ my father will
not allow. Thou must keep them, Kilchonan, at
least,” she added, seeing a cloud on the young chief’s
face, ‘ostensibly during my father’s life. Besides,
there would be no difficulty, for he who weds thy
kinswoman, must needs be thy friend, and conse-
quently no dispute could arise. But, be cautious, I
pray thee, before my father, for I care not to excite
his anger ; and thou knowest as regards myself,” she
added with a bewitching smile, “thou has but to
say thy wishes, and, however difficult, they will be
fulfilled; and eagerly did she scan his counte-
nance as she said these words.

And the charming manner and beautiful face grew
upon him, and so fascinated him, that more did he
love her, and more and more convinced was he of the
wisdom of hischoice. They talked as tenderly, and
42 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

as affectionately as he and Effie had been wont to
do; though there was no seashore, and Ethna
lacked the wondrous voice of the daughter of Fitzpat-
rick. Kilchonan spent his evening in much the
same manner as he had done the eve of the battle.
Ethna was troubled with none of poor Effie’s doubts
and fears (the remembrance of those doubts must
have stung him now), but this was a relief to the
young chief, and his spirits rose higher and higher
as he eyed the grim walls of his prison, and thought
in a few days more, he would be free, with Ethna
by his side.




CHAPTER VI.

SSAHERE is one of the name of Oscar
: ‘| come urgently, desiring to speak with
thee,” said O’Bryan on the morrow, to
his destined son-in-law. “ Knowest





thou ought of him, and what his business here may
be?” and the old chief viewed Kilchonan sus-
piciously.

“Qscar! my faithful Oscar! is he here? I pray
thee, let him enter, for he is my eldest and most
trusted servant.”

” Perchance he comes then to inquire how it fares
with thee ; and thou wil! be able to cheer his honest
heart with thy good tidings.”

The words were cheerful, but there was a certain
hesitation about the tone, as if O'Bryan had still
some doubts whether Kilchonan really thought his
prospects so bright.

“He will, indeed, rejoice to see me safe, and
sound,” replied the young chief, so warmly, that
O’Bryan’s suspicions were laid to rest, and‘he strode
out to give orders for the admission of Oscar.
42 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

When the old servant beheld his master, he darted
forward with a cry of joy.

“O my lord, my dear lord! sad has been the time
to me, since the day of that conflict, when I heard.
my beloved chief was wounded, and a prisoner
in the hands of that savage.”

“Hush!” exclaimed Kilchonan, “abuse not my
host, for he has shown me much kindness, and we
are friends and allies now.”

“ Allies?” cried the astonished Oscar, “ Since
when, hast thou linked thy fortune with this poor
foo— ?”

*T tell thee,” was the angry answer, “ that hence-
forth, we are united by the closest ties of friendship ;
and this being so, I can suffer no abuse to the Chief,
O'Bryan.”

“ But tell me,” said Oscar, after a few seconds of
amazed silence, “how comes it, he has not only spared
thy life, but also taken thee in such affection? Thy
states, I conclude, are restored to thee ?”

“Naturally, else I should not form an alliance
with him.”

“My kinswoman’s too, he touches not ; so me-
thinks in future, the epithets of grasping and blood-
thirsty, with which he is oftimes honoured, will be
misplaced.”

“Fitzpatrick’s lands untouched! Thine own
restored to thee! What gains he then by this ill-
starred quarrel ?”

“ His intentions were otherwise from what thou
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 43

thoughtest; he means bit to punish a few ruffians
that dwelt on my land; and by ill-luck, thou, and
others of my followers imagined he intended to
attack me ; but all now has been satisfactorily ex-
plained.”

“Faith ! then, right glad am I tohearit. Would
that it had been done before thy poor kinsman fell ;

22

his daughter



« Ay, how fares his daughter?” interrupted Kil-
chonan.

“Not well, as thou canst easily imagine. She
knows thee a captive, and is living in hourly dread
of hearing of thy death; but now that all is well,
and thou art reconciled with O’Bryan ——”

“Yes, go to her, for I have a message for thee to
deliver.”

“Oscar,” taking the old man’s hand, “ thou art
my oldest, and my truest friend.”

“ Thou mayest find many to serve thee, exclaimed
his follower vehemently, but none who will do so
more willingly, and devotedly than Oscar.”

“TI know, therefore do I ask thee to go to my
gentle cousin and break, to her—at this word break,
Oscar's face grew alarmed—that from force of
circumstance, our marriage is impossible; that the
power is no longer mine if I had the will,” he added
in a lower voice, “to wed her. I am pledged to
marry the fair daughter of O Bryan, a maiden as
beautiful, as she is brave, and who will I doubt not,
be as dear as a sister to Effie—in time.”
44. IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Faith ! ¢vz// need time,” muttered Oscar, “ and
Idoubt me much if time be long enough, more
likely ‘twill need eternity.”

“By my marriage with the chief's daughter,”
continued Kilchonan gravely, unheeding the inter-
ruption, “ Fitzpatrick’s possessions will be secured

‘to his child; and she can dwell happily in her
father’s Castle. Tell her also that no choice was
mine. Hither, I marry O’Bryan’s daughter, regain
my liberty and lands, and thus be in a position to
help her, should she need it; or, die a violent death,
have my property confiscated, and Effie herself be
given in marriage to one of O’Bryan’s friends.
Make her clearly understand this, and put it to her
whether she would rather I was dead, or wedded
to one who in every way is likely to bring me
happiness.”

*‘T will ask her,” replied the old servant, doggedly,

’ “and if her opinion be as mine, she would rather
hear of thy death, than of thy dishonour.”

“My dishonour!” exclaimed Kilchonan, with
flashing eyes, “ what meanest thou?”

“What I say. If thou callest it honourable to
ally thyself with thy house’s greatest foe, the slayer
of thy brave Kinsman ; and marry his daughter for
the sake of enjoying in peace thy worldly goods
notwithstanding thou hast plighted thy troth with
thy cousin; then as regardeth honour thy notions
and mine do differ.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 45

“ How darest thou address me thus ?” exclaimed
his master, very angrily, “thou presumest, I suppose,
on thy many ycars of faithful service, and in con-
sideration of thy services, I forgive thee ; but in
future, I pray thee, weigh thy words before speak-
ing, else it may be the worse for thee.”

“YT care not about myself,” said the old man,
sadly, “but it will be the worse for thee, I am
thinking. O; my master! my dear master !” beat-
ing his breast the while, “that I should have lived
to see this day !”

In spite of his resentment at Oscar’s words, Kil-
chonan could not help being touched by his retainer’s
evident affection for him.

« Well, man ; well, it is the luck of war, and what
is done, cannot be undone; therefore, do my
bidding, and take my message to Fitzpatrick’s
daughter, and tell her that as long as I live, no
harm shall come near her. Now go,” and Kilcho-
nan pushed him gently from him.

Once outside the castle wall, Oscar paused, and
almost croaned at the prospect of the cruel task
before him—that of informing Effie of his beloved
master’s faithlessness.

“Who would have thought it? Who would
have thought it?” he ejaculated, and if angry
glances could have killed, O'Bryan and his daugh-
ter assuredly they would never have survived those of
Oscar.
46 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

Shaking his fist fiercely at the unconscious
building, he turned at last to depart, and made
the best of his way to the dead chief's castle.

Effie was waiting for him, he saw her from afar,
gazing eagerly in the direction whence she knew he
would come.

After the disastrous fight, the old man had broken
to her, as gently as he could, the news of her father’s
death, and of Kilchonan’s capture. He then
thought there was no hope of the young chief's life
being spared, and had hinted as much to Effie, so
her state of mind ever since had been piteous.

Oscar, however, promised her solemnly, to leave
no stone unturned to obtain access to Kilchonan,
and see, if by any chance, he could be rescued from
the death, that, in a]l probability, awaited him.

His life was saved ; but were the tidings Oscar
now brought, easier to break to her than those, of
which he was before the bearer. It was as lovely
an evening as the one on which Effie bade Kilcho-
nan farewell, and saw her father ride away for the
last time; but now, she had no eyes for anything
around her. Her heart almost stopped when she
saw Oscar, for the expression of his face was not cal-
culated to reassure her.

He is dead? she uttered in an agonised tone.
Oscar shook his head

“ Then, wherefore, lookest thou so mournful? Is
his wound so serious that he is nigh unto death ?’
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 47

Oscar stood for a moment silent, drawing his
breath very hard, as if he had been walking ata
too rapid pace ; but it was not the rapidity of his
movements that caused his breathlessness ; but the
emotion he felt at the crushing blow he was about
to inflict on Effie.

So beneath the summer sky, the faithful old
retainer, grown grey in the service of his master’s
family, related to the young girl beside him, his
interview with Kilchonan. He told her everything,
dwelling as much as possible on the tyranny of
O’Bryan, which left Kilchonan powerless to follow
his inclinations. Effie listened in silence ; and save
for the blanched cheek, and stony expression of the
eyes, no onlooker would have supposed that the
narrative affected her.

When Oscar had finished, she held out her hand
and the old servant bowed over it in silence;
then, still in silence, Effie left him, and walked
slowly down to the seashore, and seating herself
on a rock, gazed fixedly across the ocean.

The first blow had been bad enough ; but chen,
even if they were separated in this world, Kilchonan
was still hers ; and only the thin veil of death divided
them ; but now—he was lost to her for ever? Little
did Kilchonan realise Effie’s character, when he
justified his base conduct to himself by supposing
she would rather know he was alive, though faithless,
tkan dead. The shock she had received was so
48 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

sudden, so overpowering, that for a time all her
faculties seemed benumbed ; and it was long before
she could make up her mind to rise and return to
the Castle, where, so lately, all was life and merri-
ment, and now, all was silence and gloom. When
the shades of night fell on Fitzpatrick’s castle, in
the still midnight air, rose the sound of a woman’s
voice,

Lovely was the voice ; divine were the words she
sang ; they seemed to fill the air around; and a
homeless wanderer who was trudging on his lonely
path, heard, and started, wondering, as he paused to
listen, whether the choir of heaven ever descended
on earth to cheer poor mortals with their glorious
strains. But the sound died away ; and then, all
was silence.

The day dawned ; and the morning sun shone
once more over the castle, touching the grey hills
with light, illuminating the woodland glades, and
throwing a silvery streak across the sea; and it
shone also on the old castle of Fitzpatrick, bright-
ening the grim interior, and shedding its golden
beams on the dark hair and sweet face of a girl
kneeling in prayer.






CHAPTER VII.

eG) BRYAN ought to have been pleased
at the manner in which his plans
had been carried out, and content,
at least for a time, to lay aside his



Sees

sword and rest; but to live long in peace with his
neighbours was not, as Oscar would have said, in
the old fox’s nature; and casting his eyes about
to see what next there was for him to do, his
greedy gaze fell upon the rich domains of Fitz-
patrick. Now, if O’Bryan had been satisfied with
the realisation of his first project, all would have
been well; for Kilchonan, though maintaining
Effie’s right, meant to keep faith with O'Bryan, and
prevent Fitzpatrick’s estates from falling into the
hands of any of his father-in-law’s enemies. But
the old chief now felt he should never rest until
Effie was either married to one of his followers,
who would be entirely subservient to his will; or
better still, the girl, in some way, got rid of, her
possessions either become wholly his, or part his,

part Kilchonan’s. The latter would be by far the
K
50 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

best plan; but then it would be difficult to gain
the consent of Effie’s kinsman to any scheme
which. boded evil to her. It was necessary to
begin gently ; and, for this purpose, O'Bryan rode
over to Kilchonan Castle and informed Ethna of his
desire that Effie should marry a poor kinsman of
theirs, named O’Seary. As her father rightly
guessed, nothing could be more pleasing to Ethna
than the prospect of the daughter of Fitzpatrick
marrying ; for in spite of Kilchonan’s ardent plea-
sure in Ethna’s socicty, she had always a lingering
suspicion that whenever he was silent, and pre-
occupied, it was because he was thinking of his
cousin, and the bare idea of this being the case
made her madly jealous. She really loved Kil-
chonan, and not even her aread of, or kabitual
obedience to her father, would have induced her
to join in any scheme disadvantageous to him.
Ethna listened attentively while O’Bryan made
known his wishes.

“ Against this project I have nought to object ;
would that Kilchonan had nothing either!”

“Thou thinkest then he will find somewhat to
say?”

“He will, and that somewhat will not be to thy
liking.”

“Tush! girl, 470 canst alter his mind.” Ethna
shook her head —* Not unless I can convince him it
is for her good.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 51

“ So it is,” said O’ Bryan gruffly.

“For ours, thou meanest ; She is in no danger.”

“Perhaps some one could be found to threaten
invasion, and so put her in danger, remarked the
old chief slyly; and when her kinsman sees the
troubles to which her defenceless situation exposes
her, he will be only too glad she should find a
protection both for herself and for her lands.”

“Who is the some one to be?”

“Never fear child, there are many who, for the
sake of obliging me, will make a feint of attacking
the castle.”

“Tf thou canst manage this, then, Kilchonan
may be persuaded thou art right, and he, in his

”



turn, may persuade his cousin, but

“ But what ? asked O'Bryan sharply.”

“Tf the girl is obstinate, and refuses, Kilchonan
will never consent.”

“ She is, from what I have heard, but a poor, weak:
creature, and, if she be frightened, will soon yield.”

“T trust, my father, thou art right; so do thy
part and foment a disturbance, and I will do mine.”

A few days later, a messenger was seen hurrying
trom the castle of the chief O’Bryan to the castle
of the chief Kilchonan ; and the tidings he bore
were that an incursion was meditated by the chief
O’Shannon on the domains of Fitzpatrick. Kil-
chonan, on receipt of this news, hastened without’
delay to impart the intelligence to Ethna.
52 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

“ Ah! I feared as much,” she said, “so rich a
prize could not but attract the covetous. This
emboldens me to tell thee of what my father in-
formed me the other day, that he was afraid there
would be many found to rise up against thy cousin,
were she long to live unprotected. Now, one of
the name of O’Seary, a brave and gallant kinsman
of our house, holdest her in great affection, and
could she be brought to care for him, it might be
well for her to—marry.”

* Kilchonan's face flushed.”

“ Methinks a more suitable partner could be
found for the daughter and heiress of the brave
Fitzpatrick, than a poor kinsman of O’Bryan’s, how-
ever worthy he may be!”

Ethna noticed the change in his countenance,
and a pang of jealousy shot through her, as she
marked his unwillingness that Effie should find
any other protector than himself.

“Tt is of thy sweet cousin’s happiness, I am
thinking. Would it not be fair to tell her of
O’Seary’s proposals, and learn her mind upon the
matter?”

“T see little use in it,’ was the cold reply. “But
consider,” urged Ethna, “the helpless position in
whicl., should aught of harm befall thyself, or my
father, which, God forbid: thou wouldest leave
her.”

The young chief sighed.


1N THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 53

“Dost thou not think ’twould be kinder to
explain to her how things are, and let her shape
her future course as she sees fit ?”

“There is truth, my Ethna, in what thou sayest,
and if Effie wishes it, I will not oppose her linking
her fortunes with him of whom thou hast made
mention ; tis for her, not for us, to decide—but
how to tell her ?”

“Wherein lies the difficulty? Hie thee to her
this day and let her know. Or,” she added, seeing
Kilchonan hesitate, “if thou likest not the task, I
will supply thy place.”

But, though the young chief shrank from meeting
his kinswoman, he was determined no impulsion,
however gentle, should be used to make her do
aught against her will; and he felt he could trust
no one but himself to be impartial.

“ I thank thee for thy offer, fair one, but better is
it that I go.

“Ay, she will listen to thee,” replied Ethna,
quietly, “whien others would perchance fail.”

These words, “she will listen to thee when others
might speak in vain,” rang unpleasantly in the ears
of the young chicf as he took the familiar road
which led to Fitzpatrick’s castle. How should he
dare to meet Effie? How should he dare to look
her in the face ? meet the gaze of her lovely eyes?
or listen to the low sweet voice ? He paused awhile
at the entrance. What a change had taken place in
ba IN THE HUSH O}' THE EVENING HOUR.

his life since last he was there! A sound smote on
his ear—it was Effie’s glorious voice he heard. She
was singing again the same song the aged minstrel
had bid her sing in her father’s hall. What a flow
of memories rushed over him as he listened! Once
more, he saw the jovial feast, and heard the ringing
cheers when his health was proposed. Once more,
he saw Effie timid, and blushing, hesitating what
to sing, and heard the grave voice of the minstrel
whispering to her to sing the song of love ; and
then, as now, the wonderful tones rang out in the
death-like silence. Once more, he stood on the
sea shore and told her of his love which nothing
could ever change, and rebuked her doubts. and
laughed at her fears; and then rode away, vowing
within himself that never should aught come be-
tween him and his love ; and then, as now, the last
notes of her song died away in the evening air.

Effie was sitting on-a little hillock, overlooking
the sea, when Kilchonan at last found courage to
approach her. At the sound of footsteps she
looked up, and when she saw who it was, an
expression of mingled surprise and indignation
passed over her face. Then, as Kilchonan did
not speak, she rose, and said coldly—

“To what am I indebted for the honour of thy
presence ?”

“Effie!” said her kinsman, in a low, pleading
voice, “forgive my unwelcome intrusion; but I
have news for thee of import.”


IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 55

“Indeed ! I cannot divine what news thou hast,
for I know of naught likely to interest me.”

“ Thy personal safety must surely be of moment
to thee. O’Shannon is, I hear, on the point of
invading thy lands, and marching against this
castle.”

“And if he does,” asked Effie, quietly.

“If he do,” exclaimed the chief, looking at her
in amazement, caused by her unwonted coolness
on hearing tidings that would formerly have so
alarmed her; “why he will then burn the castle
to the ground, and take thee prisoner.”

“Not so, for I should perish in the flames.”

Kilchonan could not believe his ears, when he
heard these cold laconic answers, and saw the
composed, fearless manner in which she uttered
them. Was this the timid, shrinking, clinging
girl he had so often described to Ethna? was
this the girl so much alarmed at even the rumour
of war, who had been so frightened. when Oscar
came and told of O’Bryan’s hostile acts ? was she,
indeed, the same person? or had her father’s death
and her lover’s faithlessness wrought some mar-
vellous transformation in her? ;

“ But—but—” he said, hesitatingly, “I cannot
bear to think of thy helpless position.”

“No need is’ there for thee to do so, even if
thou couldest bear it.”

“ Be not wrath with me, I pray,” said Kilchonan,
56 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

summoning all his courage, “but there is one, of
the name of O’Seary, probably thou knowest him
not, whom thy sweet face hath so enchanted that
he craves to have speech of thee, and would fain
find favour in thy eyes.”

Effie raised her hand, and said, determinedly —

“If thou comest hither to apprise me of
O’Shannon’s warlike intentions, I thank thee, and
shall act accordingly, but if thou comest to tell
me thou hast found one who will willingly offer
me his hand for the sake of my father’s domains,
then do I despise thee for thy ignorance of my
character, which could lead thee for a moment
to suppose I could ever lend an ear to either him
or any other of O’Bryan’s satellites.”

“ He has naught to do with O’Bryan.”

“ Pardon me, he has, inasmuch as he is one of
his paid followers.”

“ Surely, thou must be misinformed, when thou
deemest him a paid follower, he is a kinsman of
C’Bryan, but has nought else to do with that chief.”

“ T intend to have nought to do, either with him
or with his chief. Take this, I pray thee, for my
final answer.”

«Art thou, then, unaware that thy tenure of
these lands is a very frail one ? and that though to
the utmost of my power I will protect thee, yet—”

“Thy power is limited, interrupted [ffic, that J
can well conceive.”
JH

IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 57

“ Nay, misapprehend me not, though indeed, I
have deserved little at thy hands——_.”

“Enough ! I refer not to the past. Thou sayest
thou wilt defend my territories as long as thou art
able. More it would be impossible for thee to do.”

“Can I not make clear to thee how unavailing
will all efforts be to prevent incursions into thy
domains while thou hast no one by thee to protect
them ?”

“T have a Protector,’

>

and she pointed solemnly
on high.

Kilchonan felt awed, and almost afraid of Effie!
how he would once have scoffed at the idea!

Suddenly she fixed her large Gark eyes full on
him.

“What is thy true purpose in coming here?
Thou talkest to me over much of the threatened
dangers which surround me. I tell thee, I heed
them not; and thou urgest on me the desirability
of listening to the suit of one, O’Seary, a kinsman |
of my father’s murderer—a fit suitor, truly, for
Fitzpatrick’s daughter! Is it that thou covetest ’
my lands? waiving my claim—thou art the nearest
of kin os

“Effie!” cried Kilchonan, scarlet with indigna-
tion, “ Shame on thee for harbouring such thoughts



of me:”
“ Excite not thyself thus!” she interposed

gravely, “there is no cause.”
58 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“ Whatsoever thou pleasest canst thou take; I
am powerless to prevent it.”

“ However might it not be well not to refute too
violently my suggestions, as, though it may now
appear far from thee, a time may come, when thou,
or at least others for thee, will see fit to look on it
with greater favour, if as I suspect, I fall not into
their views.” _

“ Thou art unkind, unjust; never have I har-
boured the bad intentions of which thou accusest
me!”

“ Doubtless, not hitherto, but we can answer only
for the present ; thou canst not tell what circum-
stance may arise.”

“ No circumstance can possibly arise to make me
;” he paused, for suddenly he thought himself
of the indignant protestations he had made, when
Effie expressed her fears, lest he should ever learn
to love another than her.”

Circumstances had in that case certainly justified
her apprehensions; and overcome with confusion
and shame, Kilchonan turned, and fled from her
presence.






CHAPTER VIII.

heard from Ethna of the bold atti-
tude Effie had assumed! Never had
the doughty warrior been a patient



man, and he felt little disposed to try and acquire
that virtue now ; for what did he gain by waiting ?
was not age creeping over him? and had he not,
in consequence, a shorter time to live in which to
enjoy his worldly goods? Effie must, therefore,
either be compellec to submit or else—be put out of
the way! It was truly provoking that Kilchonan
was so unreasonable; and considering he had
married the beautiful Ethna, he had no excuse
to’ make such a fuss about his stupid little kins-
woman. Really, O’Bryan began to think it would
have been much less trouble if he had treated
Kilchonan like the other prisoners; and trusted
to his good luck to keep by the sword what he
had won by the sword. It was, however, as his
daughter said, too late to lament his conduct now;
and he must dispose of Effie as best he could;
62 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

provided always, and this stipulation was made
by Ethna with heightened colour, and flashing
eyes, that no ill befel Kilchonan. The old chief
listened to this reservation with a grim smile,
which boded ill to anyone, whoever he might be,
that dared to cross his path.

Kilchonan’s first impulse, after so abruptly
quitting Effie, was to summon his followers and
guard the boundaries of the Fitzpatrick estates ;
so that in the event of O’Shannon carrying out
his plan of invasion, he would be met, and, as
Kilchonan hoped, repuised at the outset. Ethna,
though aware this move of the young chief
would not suit O’Bryan’s policy, did not dare
to offer any opposition, her great object being
to leave Kilchonan in happy ignorance of the
dark designs forming against his kinswoman.
This was not difficult, as he was of a most un-
suspicious nature, and, in consequence, no match
for his cunning old father-in-law.

Kilchonan’s movement did not tend to soothe
O’Bryan’s angry feelings ; he sent him a message,
the peremptory tone of which incensed the young
chief, urging him for the security of Effie’s lands,
to take nominal possession of them, occupy for a
time Fitzpatrick’s castle. This, O’Bryan said,
would have far more effect in keeping the enemy at
bay, than the plan Kilchonan had now adopted.

Kilchonan, however, had a great repugnance to
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 61 -

take up his abode in the dead chief’s castle;
this dislike, coupled with his irritation at the tone of
command, suddenly assumed towards him, caused
him to send back, in answer, a curt refusal.

O’Bryan’s fury knew no bounds. Was it for this
he had spared the young man’s life? to receive a
flat contradiction to his behests? What a fool he
had been not to drive his dagger through Kil-
chonan’s heart, when the latter had mockingly
asked him to do so, saying it was the greatest
mercy that could be shown him! Would that I
had! muttered the old chief clinching his hands,
“it certainly would have been the best for me, if
not for him.”

The first person on whom O’Bryan’s anger fell
was Ethna.

Why had she interposed to save Kilehonan’s life!
if she had let her father have his way, all these
difficulties would have been avoided ; the young
chief would, very properly, have followed his de-
parted kinsman into the next world.

Ethna’s fair face flushed, as she listened to these
angry reproaches.

“T fail, my father, to see in what these difficulties
consist of which thou speakest.”

“ Then thy vision must be limited,” growled the
chief, “Why girl, thinkest thou it fulfils my pur-
pose to have Kilchonan with his men barring the
way to Fitzpatrick’s castle, thus hindering all
62 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

attempts to intimidate his kinswoman! Thinkest
thou I have taken the trouble for nothing, to rouse
O'’Shannon, under promise of reward, to menace
hostilities 2? Art thou aware of the object I have
in view, that of ridding myself of Fitzpatricl’s
daughter, taking her lands—reserving always a
portion for thy husband, as next of kin, provided,
that is, he behaves as he should, if not—let him
look to himself!” and O’Bryan shook his fist
menacingly in the air.

“ Father,’ said Ethna gravely, “ when thou
plottest mischief against Fitzpatrick’s child, I do
not contradict thee; she is the daughter of thy
bitterest foe, who, never during his lifetime, missed
an occasion to work thee harm; therefore, deal
with her as ‘thou wilt.”

“J thank thee for thy gracious permission,”
sneered ©’Bryan, “ which accords well with thy
feelings ; for surely, if I have little cause to like
the father, thou hast less to Jove the daughter.”

Ethna’s cheek paled at these words, but she
suffered them to pass unnoticed. “ But beware!”
she exclaimed passionately, “of what thou dost to
her kinsman. Beware, beware, of how thou formest
plans of ills against him! for if the day comes
when thy sword is drawn for his destruction, thou
wilt surely wish it had never been unsheathed.”

“Waste not thy breath, child, in idle threats,
they will avail nought with me. Wiser were it
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 63

that thou went to Kilchonan, informed him of my
determination, at all risks, to keep the peace we
are at present enjoying, Therefore, if he declines
to occupy Fitzpatrick’s castle, why I must e’en do
so for him: though I much fear my company may
not be over welcome to the young lady.”

“T shall wait until this time to-morrow for his
answer, and if he cares as he appears to do (with
a sly look at Ethna), for his cousin's happiness,
methinks “twere better he went than I.”

Kilchonan was sorely perplexed, and angry,
when he heard from Ethna of her father’s resolu-
tion. The idea of inhabiting, even for a short
time, Fitzpatrick’s castle, was to him most dis-
tasteful. Invade Effie’s home with an armed
force, it. was an act which nothing short of the
most pressing danger could excuse. “What would
she think of him? That speech of hers—Thou
canst not tell what circumstances may_ arise,”
came back to him and stung him. “ That
O'Bryan,” he muttered, grinding his teeth ; “ever ©
since my espousals with his daughter, hath he
done nought but raise difficulties at every step I
take. Methinks ’tis with intent done, and perchance
the invasion of Fitzpatrick’s lands is but incited
by him to annoy me. Ah! if I knew this to be
so”—and a dark look came into the young chief’s
eyes—“if I was certain,’ and he drew a deep
breath, “ but, have a care old fox—have a care!”
64 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“The old fox, as thou rightly callest him, has
ensured ¢/iy having some care,” said the voice
of Oscar, who, unperceived, had approached his
master, and overheard his last words; “ methinks
he has given thee little else since the pleasure
of his acquaintance has been granted thee.”

«Tush! Oscar, man! heed not my idle plaints.
I have no cause of anger against the chief,
O’Bryan; I was but growling at the cursed fate
which forces me to take a step I like not well.’

“ Indeed!” exclaimed Oscar, looking concerned,
“may I make bold to ask what that step is?”

“To occupy Fitzpatrick’s castle,” replied Kil-
chonan, reddening.

“ True, ‘tis only fer a time; just till we have
ensured O’Shannon’s good behaviour: but it
grieves me to disturb the peace of my cousin's

”



home and

“ Surely,” said Oscar, “ especially, when, as in the
present case, there seemeth no reason so to do.”

“‘ Nay, there is reason; for if I refused, O'Bryan
would take my place, and unwelcome as any
intrusion must be to my kinswoman, my presence
will be to her less annoying than that of O'Bryan.”

“ What !’” cried Oscar, “ did e propose to thrust
his company upon her?”

* One of us,’ he said, “must go to prevent
O’Shannon attacking the castle.”

“Tis strange, that the chief O'Shannon should
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 65

‘be found so unmanageable ; for, if report says-true,
he has been so crushed (ere now) by O’Bryan,: that
the old chief’s will to. him is law.

An uneasy expression passed over Kilchonan’sface.

“Thou must be misinformed,” he said curtly.
“ Go now, and see to the preparations for my—for
our departure.”

“ The lady Ethna accompanies thee ?”

“ Certainly, I cannot leave her here—half my
men withdrawn, and an enemy on the alert !”

“Now Heaven grant!” muttered the old servant
to himself, as he went to execute his master’s
‘command, “that no fresh mischief is afloat ;- but
never knew I yet good come out of anything in
which O’Bryan had a hand. The lady cannot tarry
here, because, should it please the enemy to come,
there are not men enough left to defend her. If
that is so, how will there be enough defenders for
Kilchonan’s castle? O’Bryan, O’Bryan, if, ere ‘I
die, we settle not our reckonings, then have I served
in vain three generations of Kilchonan’s race. O!
my master, into what toils hast thou fallen? but
alack! thou canst not stop now; thou hast chosen
thy path and must e’en follow it to the end. Ah
me! Ah me!”

A terrific storm was raging round Fitzpatrick’s
castle. The rain was pouring down in torrents—

the hailstones literally sweeping the ground. Vivid
F
66 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

flashes of lightning lit up the landscape, showing
the foaming billows of the infuriated sea dashing
like a huge avalanche against the coast. The angry,
tossing waters almost drowned the deep roar of the
thunder, as crash followed crash, echoing and re-
echoing among the distant hills. Seldom had such
a storm been seen; and the dark outline of the
castle, one moment wrapt in gloom, and the next
encircled in a blaze of light, Jooked weird, and
sinister with the black clouds hanging like a funeral
pall over its strong towers.
Two figures were standing in a recess of the wall
_where in a measure they were sheltered from the
storm ; only in a measure though, for Kilchonan’s
hair was damp from the spray that, every now and
then, a wave, more angry than its fellows, sent up;
and Oscar’s cloak bore evidence of the drenching
rain. It was a night not fit for a dog to be out ;
but apparently, it suited the temper of these two,
for neither made the slightest attempt to move,
when the storm, which had for a moment lulled,
woke up again with renewed vigour.
“The Saints preserve us!” exclaimed Oscar,
“ what an awful night!”
“JT have seen many a storm, both on sea and
land, but never one to equal this.”
“ Ay, at this season of the year, we look not for
such strife among the elements.”
“Pray God it bodes no ill ; but my heart misgives

n

me,
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 67

“O! go to! with thy forebodings and misgivings,
thou art for ever croaking.”

“Tf the elements have fallen out, what has that
to do with us? let them settle it among themselves
as best they can.”

“Hark!” exclaimed Oscar! “what sound was
that!”

“What sound!” replied the other smiling, “ why,
the same methinks that hath been audible for the
last hour—the sound of the storm ae

Kilchonan suddenly stopped. Above the noise
of the tempest-tossed sea, rose a sound which was
not that of the storm. It was the glorious voice of

Effie. She sang in that wild and fearful night, of
the love that suffers all, that forgives all, that
conquers all, of the love that is stronger than death,
of the love that endures when all else is gone; and
the voice within was more powerful than the storm
.without. It reached the ears of the watchers out-
side, it penetrated into Ethna’s distant chamber ; it
routed Kilchonan’s armed retainers, it seemed to
rise and pierce the lowering clouds, and float above
the furious waves. The echo of that lovely strain
lingered long around the castle walls ; it lingered
when the rain had ceased, and the ocean had sunk
to rest ; it lingered when the pale moon-beams lit
up the calm waters, and the bright stars studded
the blue firmament; and it lingered still—when

Effie slept.
x




CHAPTER IX,

tions were, in his eyes, fully justified
when news came that O’Shannon was
on the point of attacking Kilchonan's



Castle.
- Ah! did I not say so?” cried the old man after

delivering the message to his chief. “Well I knew
that crafty villain was plotting mischief when he
caused thee to withdraw from Kilchonan with so

large'a force.”

“Of whom art thou speaking?” interrupted his
master sternly.

“ Of O’Bryan.”

“Then prithee keep thy opinion regarding that
chief to thyself, for no abuse of him will I suffer in
my presence.”

“Tt strikes me, thou wilt have to suffer some-
thing more, ere thou hast done with him, or, rather,
he with-thee; for thou hast little choice in the

matter.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. .- 69 :

“ And little choice wilt thou have in any mattet,”
exclaimed Kilchonan angrily, “if thou canst not
betimes moderate thy tongue ; I tell thee, as I told
thee, but the other day, that thou presumest on thy
long services to me and mine.”

“Hath thy saintly lady, and her godly father
said this of me ?”

‘“ Dost thou suppose?” replied Kilchonan scorn-
fully, “ that thy importance is sufficient to occupy,
for one moment, the thought of either the chief, or
his daughter ?”’

“TI know not,” replied Oscar doggedly. “ but this
much I know ; however little in the past O’Bryan
may have heeded me, he shall have verily in the
future, to do with me.”

“Thou wilt have to do with thy master, if, in
spite of my repeated prohibitions, thou CONSENS
thy threats.”

“T shall not continue them ; I shall act.”

“The fool, thou couldest do that part to perfec-
tion.”

“ Hark thou! my Tord ‘when the day comes, as
come it surely will, that thou reapest the fruit of
thy folly in lending an ear to the counsels of thy
insidious foe ; say not, thou wert not warned ; say
not that among all thy followers, there was not one
found to open thy eyes to the dangers thickening
around thee ; say, rather, I only was to blame, for
I despised all counsel, and rejected all advice.”
j> .- IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

« When thou hast done this raving, perhaps thou
wilt be so good as to heed to my orders. We leave
within an hour this place. See that everything be
ready. My intention is to take O’Shannon. by
surprise, and fall on him in the rear; as whatever
may be thy notions of duty, szve are to defend my
father’s home, oles

“Thou wouldest do wiser to stay here. No great
mischief will be done to thy lands ; and were even
Kilchonan castle to be burnt to the ground, sad as
that day would be to me, it would grieve me less
than seeing my beloved chief go headlong into the
trap prepared for him.”

“Now, by my faith, Oscar, I think thou art in
thy dotage. Didst hear what I said? go, I tell
thee, and trouble me no more with thy senseless
talk.”

“Thy commands shall be obeyed save in one
particular. Doubtless, thy purpose was that I
should accompany thee ;”

“ Certainly, and is so still.”

“ Craving thy pardon then, it suits my fancy to
remain.”

“ This is too much,” cried the angry chief, “I tell
thee thou art to go.”

“OQ, my dear master, listen! but for a moment.
Think not I mean aught of disrespect to thee;
willingly will I give my life to save thee ; but the
wisdom of age is mine, and further I can see than
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. at,

thou, with thy eyes of youth.” The old man’s voice
broke a little, and Kilchonan softened thereby, said
in a gentler tone than he had hitherto spoken:

“ Look now, my good Oscar, well am I assured
of thy. deep attachment to me, and know my
interests are always paramount in thy eyes; but
thou must allow me, in these matters, to judge for
myself, and obey without remonstrance, my behests.
Remember ! therefore, we start in one brief hour;
and thou, as ever, will be in attendance on me.”
And allowing no time for further remark, Kilchonan
left the old servant alone.

The latter leant against the wall, and, covering his
face with his hands, gave way to the grief that filled
his breast.

“ Oscar, what aileth thee ?” said a sweet voice at
his side.

He looked up, and saw Effie.

“Can I do aught o thee,” she continued, “ tell
me!”

“ Alack! Alack! I fear no human help will be of
much avail to extricate my dear master from the
perils he has brought upon himself;” and Oscar
proceeded to inform Effie of the news that had
arrived, and of Kiichonan’s consequent departure.

“These are indeed unpleasant tidings;” said
Effie gravely.

“What grieves me most of all is that I must
disobey my chief. I cannot go, as he wishes, with
him.”
723 = IN THE HUSH: OF THE EVENING HOUR,

“Not go with him! wherefore? Snrely in the
hour of danger thou wilt not desert him.”

“J must, and that is what will well nigh break
my heart.”

“ But why.”

“ Thinkest thou that I can go and leave thee here
when any moment may see this Castle attacked.”

“ My father’s lands are broad ; and his followers
are many,” replied Effie proudly; “and though I
am but a girl, yet, they who dwell on Fitzpatrick’s
lands will never suffer tamely the entrance of a foe.”

“J meant not truly, to disparage Fitzpatrick’s

men, but they want a leader; and if I follow my
chief to Kilchonan, I fail to see where they will find
one.”
“Thou must not tarry here, however much they
lack a leader,” replied Effie firmly, “thy place is by
thy master’s side, and thou art not one who will fail
to answer the call of duty.”

“My duty methinks, is here.”

“ Not when thy chief’s home is in danger.”

“There is no danger, ’tis but a feint. There will
be no fighting worth the name; for as sure as I live,
O’Shannon hath but done this by O’Bryan’s orders,
to draw Kilchonan far from here. No, no, lady,
this scare is part of a villainous plot, and my poor
master doth not see through it.”

“Is it possible ?” asked Effie surprised, “that he
is so blind!”

J
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 73

He was wont to be somewhat sharper.

“ Ah! but there are none so blind as those that
will not see.”

Effie sighed. “Still Oscar, thou must not linger
here. If mischief is intended, thy presence may
work much good.”

“ Ay, but ere, not there, lies the root of it!”

“ Tell me,” said Effie, looking him steadily in the
face, “what is it thou fearest ?”

“TI fear, Jady, that O’Bryan is but Waites till he
see our backs to——. well to menace this place.”

“ His daughter is here,” replied Effie quietly, “he
will not do aught to frighten her.”

That is my only comfort ; but he is deep—deep
—deep!”

There was a pause ; and then the daughter of
Fitzpatrick said—“ I thank thee, Oscar, for thy kind
thought of my welfare, which urges thee to stay ;
but it must not be. Go with thy chief! I am not
fearful of what O’Bryan or any other foe may do.
Remember! there is a God above.”

“Tis well there is.”

“Tis well indeed, therefore, thou canst go,”

“Thou meanest it in truth ?”

“I do; and whatever the future hath in store,
let us both be found at our posts!”

Her words and manner were too decided to admit
of any remonstrance; and the old man, after
contemplating her for a second in silent admiration,
went to do her, and his master’s bidding.


74 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

“T am glad thou art in possession of thy senses,”
said the young chief to Oscar, as they rode towards
Kilchonan.

“Would that all those who lose them were
equally certain of regaining them,” was the gruff

rejoinder.

Kilchonan reddened at the implied meaning of
these words, and said: “ Thy company to day is
none the pleasantest, and had I been on pleasure
bent, methinks my enjoyment would have been
greater, if thou hadst stayed behind.”

Qscar had no heart to answer. Powerless, as he
felt himself to communicate to his loved lord the
fears that filled his own mind, and more convinced
every moment that they were on the brink of a
precipice, down which, the smallest false step would
precipitate them, he had the additional sorrow of
finding that his warnings were looked on as out-
bursts of querulousness, and pardoned only in
consideration of his age. He determined therefore
to say no more; he had eased his conscience by
speaking, and if Kilchonan qwozld not listen, why
he must take the consequences.

About a mile from the castle, they fell in with
the enemy. O’Shannon made but a feeble resist-
ance to the impetuous charge of Kilchonan (at
which verification of his predictions, Oscar could
not help feeling rather triumphant) and the young
chief took possession of his home in peace. Oscar’s
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 75

lingering hope, that after the facility with which he
had put his foe to flight, his master might signify
his intention of returning the next day to Fitz-
patrick, was not realised. Kilchonan was moody,
and irritable the whole of that evening, and gave
Oscar no opportunity of urging their speedy
departure. His easy victory, indeed, rather tended
to annoy him than otherwise, proving, as it did, that
Oscar was in the right as to O’Shannon’s attack
being a mere feint; and in spite of his seeming
scorn of his old retainer’s fears, he could not help
experiencing a lurking feeling of uneasiness, the
cause of which he could not define. For had not
O'Bryan always behaved towards him in the most
open, and friendly manner? True he had annoyed
the young chief by so peremptorily ordering him to
occupy Fitzpatrick’s castle ; but did not the fact of
O’Shannon immediately threatening Kilchonan’s
dwelling (though he was afraid to proceed to
extreme measures) show how right O’Bryan had
been in divining the enemy’s mischievous designs on
Effie’s possessions ? and by his wise counsel, pre-
vented her home being attacked, and he retired to
rest that night in no enviable frame of mind. He
was angry with Oscar for questioning O’Bryan’s
good faith, angry with himself for letting these
suspicions trouble him, angry with O’Bryan for not
taking steps to crush O’Shannon, and angry with
Effie (though he grudgingly admired it) for her
76 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

coolness, and indifference to danger, which rendered
her deaf to all entreaties, and impervious to all
reasoning. He slept badly, and rose next. morning;
cross with himself and with everyone else. . .

Oscar, on his side, did not pass a pleasanter night.
than his master; but he did not go through the
form of pretending to sleep. A prey to every kind:
of fear which assumed more and more alarming
aspects the longer he dwelt on them, he felt he
could not rest, and taking up his station at the top
of the castle, from whence, in clear weather, a fine
prospect was obtained of the surrounding country,
he stood motionless, and watchful throughout the
hours of darkness. Unfortunately for his vision, a
thick mist hung round the place, and to his excited
imagination, all sorts of fantastic shapes, and weird
faces were continually appearing and disappearing
behind the grey veil which rendered even the nearest
objects indistinct. When the day broke, it found.
him still at his post, but his vigil was at last re-
warded, for spying eagerly on all sides to see if he
could detect anything stirring, he beheld in the
distance someone ‘hurrying towards Kilchonan, and
as the man came nearer, he recognised his nephew,
young Donald, whom he had left at Fitzpatrick
with strict injunctions to come and tell him if aught
was seen of O’Bryan-or his men. Guessing, there-
fore, his communication was of interest, he went
eagerly to meet Donald. Is all well? was the old
man’s anxious enquiry.
«IN THE. HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. V7

© All-ig well as yet,” was the - answer, ‘ but
O’Bryan hath been to Fitzpatrick.” -

«“ Ah!” exclaimed Oscar, grinding his teeth,
“when did he get.there ?”

_& About half an hour after thy departure. Isaw

him ride in, and’ I approached, remembering thou
badest me take note of what he said. The lady
Ethna met him at the door, and they walked
together to the little knoll, where they. sat down,
and it being an open space, I could not conceal
myself to hear what they said; but I judged by
the chief’s gesticulatious, that their discussion was
an exciting one. Presently they came back, and
the chief called for his horse. As he was mounting
I heard him say to his daughter—

“Remember! now, before nightfall to-morrow,
thou must quit this, or the consequences will be on
thy own head.” _

The lady, in answer, just nodded, and then said
.-“ Thou wilt, to-morrow, see Kilchonan.”

“ Ay, I must go there to keep him quiet. I shall
be with him in the morning and tell him everything
is all right here.”

“He would like to know! and I wish thou
couldest have heard the laugh he gave—it was like
the devil’s own.”

“‘T can believe it. He comes then here to-day?”

“ This morning.”
78 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOURe

“Tt is evident by bidding his daughter leave
before nightfall that he proposeth to carry out his
diabolical plot to night. I thank thee lad for
apprising me of this, forewarned is as they say
forearmed. Hie thee back to Fitzpatrick, and keep
thy eyes open, and thy mouth shut! I must devise
some means of preventing until to-morrow, O’Bryan
leaving this place, He is too cautious to let any-
thing in his absence be done.”

“* Cautious, thou mayest say that,” replied Donald
emphatically ; and taking leave of his aged relation,
he retraced his steps; and Oscar returned to the
castle to meditate on what he had heard, and plan
his actions accordingly.




CHAPTER X.

JS we have seen, O’Bryan’s arrival at

Fitzpatrick followed close on Kilcho-
nan’s departure. The old chief was
= growing furiously impatient, and
determined to bring matters to acrisis. But his
first care was to ensure Ethna's absence, for O’Bryan
loved his golden-haired child as well as his hard and
selfish nature was capable of loving. Her mother
had been a descendant of the hardy Norsemen ; and
the lovely maiden of those northern climes had
bewitched O'Bryan with her sunny hair, and bright
blue eyes. Fiercely did he mourn, and bitterly did
he curse the fate that consigned to a premature
grave, the fair child of the Vikings.

He loved as he hated, vehemently and wildly,
and when death came between him and his love, his
rage knew no bounds.

Angry that he had cared for her so much, he
vented his wrath on all mankind that had the mis-
fortune to come in his way. Never had he been
known to be so cruel, so remorseless, so regardless


. 8o . IN THE HUSH OF.THE EVENING HOUR.

of human life as during the first years that followed

- on his loss. For some time he could not endure
the sight of Ethna; her shapely, golden head
reminded him of what he had been bereft, but
time softened him in regard to his child; her
wonderful beauty grew upon him, and charmed him,
and as he marked the strong likeness she bore to
her mother, her face became pleasing to him, and
in a fashion, though in a rough one he loved her—
loved her as much as he allowed himself to love
anything again of which death might once more rob
him. His child’s safety was therefore, amid all his
plotting, paramount with him.

“ Thou must return to-morrow, Ethna, to Kil-
chonan,” said O’Bryan, as they seated themselves
on the grassy knoll overlooking the sea.

“ Wherefore, my father ?”

“Wherefore? because I wish it. Is not that a
sufficient reason for thee.”

“But Kilchonan will be returning here when he
hath dispersed O’Shannon and his kinsmen.”

« Q’Shannon will not be so easily dispersed ; that
is to say it will not be at present safe for Kilchonan
to leave his home.”

“Thou art seemingly now, as anxious that Fitz-
patrick’s castle should be vacated, as a few days
back, thou wert urgent it should be occupied.”

“ Circumstances alter cases, girl, There is now
no fear of this place being attacked.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 81

“T can then remain here.”

“No, thou canst not,” replied the chief, angrily.
“* Have I not said thou must quit to: morrow ?”

Ethna fixed her calm blue eyes on her father’s
face, and said: :

* Would it not be as weil, my father, to honour
me with thy confidence ?.”
“What meanest thou?”

“IT mean that if thou acquaintest me not, at least
in some degree, with thy plans, I may, unwillingly,
defeat them.”

“Methinks, child, thou wilt have trouble to do
that ;” and the smile the speaker gave was not a
pleasant one.

“JT care not what trouble it doth cost me, so that
I ensure Kilchonan’s safety.”

“ By obeying my commands, thou dost ensure it.
No one will harm him while I protect him. Cast
aside thy foolish suspicions and do my bidding!”

“What is it thou purposest to do here?” asked
Ethna, turning and pointing to Fitzpatrick’s
dwelling.

“What I please. Trouble not thy head about my
concerns! I promise thee Kilchonan’s safety, and
that is all for which thou carest.”

“That is all.”

* Good then, I go to him to-morrow, shall I bid
him tarry where he is, and thou wilt join him.”

* Hark! what sound is that?”
G
82 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

Clear, and strong rose Effie’s tones in the bright

sttmmer’s morning.

“It is the daughter of Fitzpatrick singing. She

hath a wondrous voice.”

“JT must go,” cxclaimed O'Bryan hastily, “ time
presses. Fare thee well, child !”

“] will walk to the gate with thee,” replied Ethna
rising. .

She did not care to stay and listen to that lovely
song.

As they descended the hill, the sound was borne
to them more clearly, and the deep pathos of the
air touched Ethna, and annoyed the chief.

“’Twould be well to cut that nightingale’ throat,”
was his muttered exclamation. “Such senseless
warbling is not pleasing to my ears, and he strode
on faster to the castle.”

When her father had gone, Ethna walked down
to the sea-shore, and turning an angle on the beach,
came suddenly on Effie leaning against the rock
with a harp by her side.

“I crave thy pardon,” stammered Ethna, for

- Kilchonan’s kinswoman was the last person she
wished to meet.

“There is no cause,” replied Effie courteously,
“the Ocean’s shore is free to all.”

“Thou hast been singing erewhile, to the great
deep,” said Ethna glancing at the harp.

“ Yes, altough here, one has no need of song, for
to me, there is music in the waves.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HUUR. 83

“The sea affords me little pleasure ; and in the
breaking of the waves there is to me more melan-
choly than mirth.”-

“Nay, that can hardly be ?”

“ Thou thinkest not?”

Ethna glanced at the speaker. The slight figure,
childish face, and wistful, innocent expression,
inclined O’Bryan’s daughter (at first) to despise the
gentle Effie; but, with all her simplicity, Effie was
possessed of an unconscious dignity of manner
which checked the scornful words ere they passed
Ethna’s lips.

“ Surely, thou wouldest rather laugh than ye ie
she said.

Efe hesitated.

“Tam not sure. “Tis true, we sometimes weep
from sadness ; but there are also tears of joy.”

‘ These last, methinks, thou sheddest but seldom,
if melancholy be to thee so dear.”

‘“‘Unhappiness is not my portion,” was the quiet
reply.

_The same sensation of awe began to steal over
Ethna, as had crept over Kilchonan when Effie
heard from him with so much calmness, of the
perils that surrounded her. ae

“Yet thy songs are always sad,” reamed Ethna
slightly colouring, “The other night I heard thee
singing throughout that dreadful storm.” .

“It was the song of love I sang,” replied Iffie
softly.
84 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

«‘ And is love always sad.”

“ Yes, love, if sweet, is always sad.”

“ Wherefore ! ”

“ Because love’s home is not on earth, and never,
methinks, can an exile be merry,”

The sweet voice and manner of the speaker
touched Ethna, and in a low voice, she said :

“Perchance, I have helped to make thee sad ?
If so, forgive me.”

Effie gravely smiled, and shook her head. “ Thou
wast not to blame ; and all is well with me.”

An overpowering feeling of self-reproach seized
Ethna, as she thought of her father’s dark hints,
and her own departure on the morrow. She deter-
mined to warn Effie of her danger, and see if she
could save her.

“My happiness would be great,” she said, “ if thou
wouldest be my friend.”

“Nor are we enemies,” was the quiet answer.
“T would fain love thee, if thou wilt let me, stam-
-mered Ethna, blushing deeply, and to-morrow I go
from hence. It grieves me to know, thou art left
alone in this old castle; for these days are not
peaceful ories; and great would be thy danger if
foes came here.”

“Trouble not thyself at leaving me, though I
thank thee for thy kindly thought, this old castle,
as thou termest it, is dear to me; and if foes
should come, then meeter were it that they found
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR, 85

Fitzpatrick’s daughter in her father’s home, than
like a coward taking refuge in the dwelling of a
stranger.”

The spirit which dictated these proud words found
an answering echo in Ethna’s heart. Her face
kindled with admiration.

“Effie” she exclaimed, “worthy daughter of
Fitzpatrick’s race, thy sentiments accord well with
mine, but, I beseech thee, be warned. I know that
there is danger in remaining here ; else would my
father not have warned me to depart.”

Effie shook her head, in token that she would
not yield ; and rose to go.

“ Sing me first one song,” said Ethna—and Effie
sang.

As the last notes died away, Ethna hid her face
to conceal the tears she could not suppress, and
when, after a few moments, she turned to thank her,
Effie was gone.

Proof against O’Bryan’s threats, Kilchonan’s
warnings, Oscar’s entreaties, and Ethna’s prayers,
proof against her own timid feelings, and beating
heart, the daughter of Fitzpatrick awaited calmly
in her ancestral halls, the bursting of the storm.






CHAPTER XI.
PEESSAHE fog had lifted; the clouds were



—

rapidly dispersing; and the sun was
coming out, giving promise of a
‘beautiful summer’s day. Kilchonan
erat at He gate of his castle, gloomily surveying
the scene. The restless night he had passed did
not tend to raise his spirits; and the beauties of
that June morning were lost on him.

“ Oscar,” he shouted, “look yonder! who comes
there over the brow of the hill?”

Oscar looked-—“ If I mistake not, it is the chief
O’Bryan,”

“Tis well, I desire to speak with him.”

‘Dark grew the brow of Oscar, as the grim chief
approached ; and had O’Bryan seen the !ook the
old retainer shot at him, as he dismounted, he
might have doubted the wisdom of his coming.

“Thou hast news of O’Shannon?” asked Kil-
chonan.

The chief smiled. “ Methinks, boy, thou
shouldest have been the one to answer that
question.”

“T fear thou, or perchance others for thee, are
strangely neglectful.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 87

« How meanest thou ?”

“O’Shannon hath rallied his force once more,
and is gradually surrounding thee.”

“ Kilchonan’s eyes flashed.

“Art thou sure of this? It was but yester-
night that Oscar came and told me the chief
meditated no further attack; and his men were
disbanding.”

* He told thee wrong; my information comes
from one who saw.”

“So have all these hours been wasted, fondly
dreaming all was quiet.”

“Greatly at a loss to know what could have
urged thy follower thus to deceive thee, worthy, as
I presume he is, of thy confidence ?”

“Till to-day, he was, but——-Oscar! catching
sight of the old man, come here.”

Oscar approached wiih an air of defiance that
irritated Kilchonan.

“ Didst thou not tell me we had nothing more to
fear from O’Shannon ?”

“J did, and I say so still.”

“Then thou sayest what is not true,” cried his
master angrily, “for instead of nothing, we have
everything to fear. O Shannon makest ready to
surround this castle.”

“ That will I not believe,” cried Oscar stoutly.

“ Scoundrel }” shouted O'Bryan, crimson with
rage, “ darest thou to doubt my word ?”
88 1N THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

“Have a care!” exclaimed Kilchonan, “ thou
mayest too far try my patience. Whom didst thou
trust for thy information.”

“To mine own eyes.”

“Then, methinks, they are not worthy ones,”
sneered O’Bryan.

“They are better far than thine, inasmuch as
they discern twixt truth, and falsehood, which thy
distorted vision cannot do.”

At this audacious speech. O’Bryan stood for a
moment silent with rage, then drawing the dagger
he wore always concealed about him, he made a
movement as if to stab the speaker, but he was
prevented by Kilchonan springing forward and
exclaiming :

“By my faith Oscar thou must be mad insulting
thus a guest of mine. What meanest thou by such
behaviour? answer me, dost hear me,” he cried,
his passion rising at Oscar’s silence.

“ Wilt thou answer me?”

“Of what use, said the old man sadly, to answer
those who have no ears to hear ?”

Methinks caitiff thou posest for a would be
prophet,” cried O’Bryan with a rude laugh,“ but
despite thy prophetic utterances, I warn thee, if
thou valuest thy life, never again to let me hear
the sound of thy insolent tongue. Keep it for thy
master, for whose sake it is I now forbear to notice

further thy lying words.”


IN THE HUSH Ol THE EVENING HOUR. ig 89

“ Get thee gone” cried Kilchonan, “and intrude
not on my presence till thy mode of speech be
somewhat altered.”

Then turning to O’Bryan, he invited him to enter
the castle, saying ‘‘I crave thee, pardon my old
retainer’s rudeness ; he is but an unmannerly bear;
but he has long served me and mine, which makes
me loath to deal with him, as his conduct merits it.”

“ Say no more thereon,” cried O’Bryan, clapping
the young chief on the shoulder, “I hold thee not
responsible for thy follower’s behaviour; and as for
the ruffian himself, he is not worth a thought; only,”
and O’Bryan smiled grimly, “let him not come in
my way!” He shall not, he shall not, “ exclaimed
Kilchonan eagerly.” -

“Tis well, for truly, can I say that never yet,
suffered I any man to address to me such language
as he thought fit to use, so thou mayest take my
now enduring it as a great compliment to thyself.

O'Bryan then proceeded to point out to Kil-
chonan the necessity of remaining, for the present,
where he was, assuring him he would do his best to
crush O’Shannon, and would himself undertake the
defence of Fitzpatrick’s lands and castle.

” © Tn answer to Kilchonan’s half reproachful remark
that the powerful chief might, at once, have put an
end to all further hostile movements on the part of
O'Shannon, O'Bryan replied, “ Faith, so I would
have, had I but known he meditated so much
go i IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

mischief ; there are, however, wheels within wheels,
and one must have a care how one treads upon one’s
neighbour's toes. O’Shannon hath many friends,
whom it would suit neither thee nor me to offend.
Therefore, would I fain have dealt gently with him ;
but it seems soft words are wasted, so we must try
whether hard ones will better answer our purpose.
Ethna tells me she joins thee here to-day. I felt
somewhat anxious, |nowing foes were abroad, but
I did not like, well, to gainsay her.”

“Ethna!” exclaimed Kilchonan surprised,
“comes she here from Fitzpatrick? Methinks it
had been safer for her to abide where she is,”

“ Ay, ay, but a wilful woman must e’en have her
way. Perchance I may meet her on my homeward
ride.”

Having thus, as he flattered himself, removed
from the young chief’s mind, all suspicion of his
intentions, O’Bryan felt in a most amiable mood.
Never had Kilchonan found him so pleasant ; and
he reproached himself for having ever suspected
him, which assuredly he would not have done had
it not been for the dark hints, and unreasonable
hatred of Oscar.

It was drawing towards evening when O’Bryan
took leave of his host with the avowed intention of
returning to his own domains. They parted in the
most friendly manner ; and the sly chief chuckled
as he saw how completely he had managed to
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. ‘gL

deceive Kilchonan. “ Simpleton,” he muttered, as he
rodé along, “though fe is no worse than the rest,
they are none of them a match for me. Ha! Ha!
they, one and all, are hoodwinked! even Ethna
guesses ouly half my purpose.”

O’Bryan was wrong; there was one person who
was not hoodwirked, but had from the first seen
clearly through the chief’s designs. Perhaps it may
appear strange that Oscar should have been so
utterly wanting in all caution as to insult the fierce
O’Bryan to his face, and in the hearing also of his
master, wliom it could not fail to offend ; but it was
necessary for the carrying out of his plans. Oscar’s
first idea to shut the gates of Kilchonan Castle on
OC’Bryan was abandoned by him as useless ; for not
only would the young chief have insisted on his
guest going free, but would, if necessary, have got
further assistance, and forced Oscar to yield to his
commands. O’Bryan must, therefore be stopped on
the road to Fitzpatrick, where, out of earshot cf
Kilchonan and his men, Oscar trusted to his own
strong arm, and to the justice of his cause to grant
him success. Some excuse, however, must first be
found to absent himself from his master, and the
old retainer could think of no better plan than the
one he followed, namely, drawing down Kilchonan’s
anger on him, and being dismissed from his
presence.

«© So the old fox.warns me never to let him hear
g2 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR,

the sound of my tongue,” said Oscar to himself, as
he started for the spot where he meant to conceal
himself ; “well, I will gratify him, but whether the
point of my knife will better suit him, remains to
be seen. It is a blessing he rides alone; otherwise
two to one would have been a poor look out for me.
Ha! here is the tree, I marked it; and behind the
shelter of these friendly branches, I will wait till
that arch fiend passes, and ¢hex O'Bryan shall our
accounts be squared ;” and the old retainer’s eyes
gleamed as fiercely as did those of his intended
victim.

Many hours had Oscar to wait before he heard
the sound of a horse’s hoofs, and, peeping from
behind the tree, he beheld the chief coming along
at a leisurely pace. O’Bryan had time before him ;
his work was not till nightfall. Oscar remembered
this, and the remembrance made him grasp, with
additional firmness, the knife he held. It was the
work of a second to dash out, seize the horse’s
bridle, and aim a thrust with his weapon at the
rider, who, unprepared for this sudden apparition,
had drawn neither sword nor dagger. A gash
across the face was the first intimation O’Bryan
received of the old retainer’s presence. For a
moment he was stunned by the suddenness and
violence of the attack, but the next he had re-
covered himself, and, uttering a loud execration,
leapt from the saddle with an agility wonderful for
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 93

his years, and, rushing at Oscar, steel in hand, the
two were soon engaged in a life and death struggle.
O’Bryan, stung like a wild animal to madness by
the wound he had received, and still further infuri-
ated by recognising in his assailant the man whom
his foolish clemency had that morning spared, lost
all self-command, and struck out wildly and
aimlessly. Oscar had succeeded in knocking the
dagger out of the chief’s hand, and was about to
plunge the knife into his heart, when the arrival of
.a third party changed the aspect of affairs.

After O’Bryan’s departure, Kilchonan had
mounted his horse and ridden forth with the idea
of ascertaining for himself the movements of
O’Shannon. Following the road O’Bryan had
taken, it was not long before he eame upon the two
combatants, and to his consternation and anger.
“Villain!” he cried, “throwing himself from his
horse, and seizing Oscar’s arm, wilt thou murder
the chief O’Bryan ?”

The old retainer vouchsafed no answer, but made
a desperate lunge at his enemy.

“Help! help!” gasped O'Bryan.

The young chief attempted to wrest the knife
out of Oscar’s hand.

*Stay thy hand,” cried the oid man, “let me
kill him, wicked, blood-thirsty hypocrite! He shai?
not escape now,”

For a second, he and his master struggled ; the
94 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

knife gleamed high in air, and Oscar—his strength
spent—staggered backwards—stabbed by the hand
of his loved lord! Then, as the old retainer fixed
his dying eyes with an expression of indescribable
sadness and affection on his chief, it rushed over
Kilchonan what he had done.

“ Osear, Oscar,” he cried, kneeling down beside
him ; “I have slain thee, thou best, and truest of
friends!” .

' At these words, a faint smile played over the
features of Oscar, and, as his lips moved, Kilchonan

bent over him to catch what he said. ‘It was for

thy sake, I did it. Thou shouldest have let me kill

_ hin first, then would I gladly have yielded up my

life—but—now—to have failed—to die by thy hand

—thou, for whom I would willingly have shed my

last drop of blood. O!”—and he sank back ex-

hausted. _ \

“What have I done,’ groaned Kilchonan.
“Would that I had lost my right arm ere I had
committed this cursed deed.”

“ Cursed deed!” sneered O’Bryan, who had
looked on, with angry impatience at this scene,
“perhaps if I had been lying where he is, thou
wouldest have called it a blessed one. However,
let me tell thee for thy consolation, that in no
case would the rascal have been suffered to live ;
so, by thy timely action thou hast saved me all
further trouble.”
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 95

The tone and the words deeply incensed
Kilchonan.

“ Thou wouldest not have suffered my retainer to
live! Such language soundeth somewhat strange
in my ears.”

“ Then the sooner that thou art familiarised with
it, the better will it be for thee,” and with a mocking
laugh O’Bryan rode away.

Overcome with grief and remorse, the young
chief turned once more to Oscar.

“Forgive me,’ murmured the latter, “thou wilt
know ere long why I waylaid ’—he stopped, unable
to proceed—life was ebbing fast.

“ Forgive thee!” replied Kilchonan, *O! that I
could forgive myself.”

“ My beloved chief!” whispered the old man,
essaying to raise himself, “ O’Bryan, is he gone?”

“ Ay, thank God, he has gone!” replied Kil-
chonan soothingly.

“ Thank the Devil, rather, for it is about his work
that he is engaged. See there?”

“ What?” asked Kilchonan, peering round him
in the fast gathering darkness.

“Smoke! there is a fire,” said Oscar, hoarsely.

“No, no, my poor friend, thou art dreaming.”

“How thick it curls! how fast the flames are
spreading ! QO! my beloved master! why? why ?—
but now it 1s too late—and with one last look at
Kilchonan, he expired.”
96 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

The night passed away; the day dawned ; and
the rosy light of the east fell upon the face of the
old retainer, lying cold, and dead ; while beside him
knelt the young chief, to whose race he had been
so faithful, and had served so long.




CHAPTER XII.

Ethna had spent that day in endeavouring to
persuade Effie to leave the castle that evening, but
invain. In spite of the many alarming hints Ethna
threw out, Effie was firm in her refusal; the
daughter of Fitzpatrick’s proud line would remain
where she was—in Fitzpatrick’s Castle. °

Finding all attempts useless, Ethna at last desisted
and, remembering her father’s words, “leave before
nightfall” retired to her chamber, to make ready
for her departure. Her conscience felt relieved now
that she had done her utmost to save Effie, and she
said to herself, as poor Oscar had done in regard to
Kilchonan, if she zvz/7 not listen to reason, she must
take the consequences.

A lurid glare lit up Ethna'’s apartment as, all
being ready, she prepared to go. “ How bright
this evening, is the setting sun!” she exclaimed,
opening the door. A volume of smoke rushed in,
and almost choked her; at the same moment, a
loud crash was heard, and to Ethna’s horror, on
looking round, she saw that her room was on fire !!

G
98 IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

The floor was rapidly becoming so hot, she could
hardly stand on it; choked and blinded by the
smoke, she made her way out of the burning
chamber ; but alas! the flames were everywhere !
She could not go on—she tottered—she sank—and
those merciless tongues of fire fastened on that fair
young head. As she fell, a sound so sweet, so
powerful, smote her ear, that she heard it above the
noise of the falling building, and the cracking of
the*burning wood—she heard that wonderful song
of love—and then—she heard no more.

Donald returned to Fitzpatrick’s Castle feeling
very uneasy.

The terror which O’Bryan’s name inspired, and
his known vindictiveness, made Donald tremble
both for Effie, and for Oscar; the chief’s sinister
laugh, as he rode away, boded ill to the former ;
and what would be the fate of the latter if he
essayed to detain O’Bryan at Kilchonan? Donald
. had no confidence in Oscar's success, and after
“wandering restlessly up and down, he stationed
himself towards evening on an eminence, where he
could see, from afar, anybody approaching. He
waited, and waited, till, to his joy, he thought he
discerned, a long way off, the figure of Oscar. A
joyful shout burst from his lips. If Oscar was
coming, all would be well; and he waved his arms
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. 99

frantically in the air to welcome his supposed
relative. :

Alas! poor Donald, little thou wotest it, but that
signal was fatal!

The pedestrian was still distant ; and Donald’s
eyes were so intently fixed on him, that he noticed
not the wreaths of smoke enveloping the castle.
His disappointment was proportionate to his hopes
when, on a closer inspection, he saw that the foot
passenger was a stranger.

For a few minutes he remained where he was,
straining his eyes in the vain hope of sceing either
his uncle or someone coming from him. Suddenly,
he realized, that there was a strong smell of fire,
and the air was dense with smoke; he turned
round, and he saw —Fitzpatrick’s Castle in flames!

With one bound he was down the hill, and as he
ran towards the burning pile—it must have been
ignited in several places, so rapidly were the flames
spreading,—he heard a tremendous cry, more like
the howl of a wild animal than a human cry, and
beheld O’Bryan galloping towards the castle.

“What means this?” roared the chief, “I made
no sign. It is too soon—too soon. My child!
where is she? Did I not say thou wert to wait till
I gave the signal?”

“The signal was given,” answered a voice that
Donald recognised as one of O’Bryan’s men.

“Not by me,” screamed the chief, “nightfall was
the time I appointed for this work.”
Too IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

To check the fire was now an impossibility ; every
corner was wrapped in flames; it soon became
dangerous to remain in the vicinity of the falling
building.

O'Bryan tore like a madman round the burning
castle, crying, “ Ethna! Ethna!”

Ay, call O,Bryan! call! shout with all thy
strength! curse with all thy might! but she will
not answer thee; thy golden haired child will never
answer thee more !

Yonder ! she lies ; and thou wert not guiltless of
her death! Thou bemoanest thy child ; but was not
this thy work ? hadst thou not planned, and toiled,
to bring it about >—Well, thou hast succeeded.

Fitzpatrick’s daughter is dead, the heiress of that
proud line is gone. Thou hadst willed that she
should perish—so is not all now well? True, thy
fair young daughter has been burnt to death; but
the fire would never have been kindled, but for thee !
Expect no pity then, O'Bryan! thou hast reaped
what thou hast sown.

What bad news is this that Donald brings thee,
chief of Kilchonan? What makes thee start from
Oscar’s side? from that brave son of Erin’s isle,
who is resting after years of toil ?

What makes thee shiver, and turn pale, and
mount thy steed in such fiery haste ?
IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR. Io!

Ride, Kilchonan! ride! urge on thy horse! go,
swift as the wind ! stretch every sinew! strain every
nerve! gallop till thy steed drops !—but thou wilt
not be in time.

The hungry flames have been fed enough, they
are dying out; those cruel tongues of fire are
appeased ; they have done their work, and done it
well !

Ride, Kilchonan! ride! to that familiar spot—no
fear that thou wilt miss thy way, thou knowest it
too well!

Dismount at the Castle gate! and on this bright
summer's morning, look around thee. The sea is
calm; very gently break the waves on the shore ;
very gently sway the branches of the trees, in the
soft west wind. Cloudless is the sky above thee !
Sweetly sing the birds around thee! What ails
thee then, Kilchonan? Thou startest, then hearest
something! Is it a human voice? But who can
sing amid these ruins? Is it in truth, a song. thou
hearest, or the echo of a song, Kilchonan? Tis
one thou hast heard before—lingers it then, when
all else is gone? What said that aged minstrel at
Fitzpatrick’s feast?

“One sound shall never die, but will last as long
as time.”

“Tt will be heard in the twilight, heard in the
darkness, heard at the dawn, heard in the hour of
102° IN THE HUSH OF THE EVENING HOUR.

rejoicing, in the hour of suffering, and in the hour
of death!”

The chief of Fitzpatrick is dead, his castle is in
ruins.

Effie is no more; but love lives.

So in the quiet summer evenings, in the stormy
winter nights echoing through the forest, across the
sea, among the hills, amid the ruins, rings out the
wondrous sound of the Song that Effie sang.

This was the Legend of the ancient Ruin; and
the Song of Love it was I heard “in the Hush of the
Evening hour.”







aN ae hata at

‘

Sees ret ot fee hanes