"The Irish Girl"

Title

"The Irish Girl"

Subject

Prejudice against Irish immigrants, Catholics, Protestants, love, Christian virtue.

Description

A young Irish servant is in love with a man whose father will not let him marry her because she is a “Paddy girl.” The young woman drowns, shortly after learning of her beloved's decision to marry a non-Irish woman. Her brother vows revenge, but changes his mind.

Creator

Sedgwick, Catharine M.
By the author of "Hope Leslie," &c.

Source

United States Magazine and Democratic Review, Vol. X, P. 129-140

Publisher

John L. O'Sullivan

Date

February 1842

Contributor

J. Robinson, D. Gussman

Relation

Also collected (with revisions) in:
The Dollar Magazine, Vol. II, 1842
Tales and Sketches, Series two, New York. 1842. P. 191-244

Language

English

Type

Document

Text

The Irish Girl.

By the author of “Hope Leslie,” &c.

“My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy;
I shall find it never
And never more.”

“Now sit down, Margaret, child, and rest you—here by my bedside. How comfortable my bed feels! It always has the right lay when you fix it, Margaret. Come, sit down; the work is all done up, and done as well as I could do it myself—even the outside of the teakettle is as clean as a china cup. It’s a mystery to me, Margaret, how you learned such tidy ways in a shanty.”

“It’s not always that I have lived in a shanty, Mrs. Ray.”

“Don’t turn your back to me, Margaret; draw your chair closer to my bed. I want to have a little talk with you, Margaret. I feel myself going down hill, and I don’t know how long I may be spared.”

“God forbid you should be taken, Mrs. Ray, dear—you, that are so good to them that’s near and them that’s far off.”

“You must not flatter me, Margaret,” said the old woman, in a tone of voice that indicated anything but displeasure.

“And do you think I’d be after flattering you, Mrs. Ray—you, that are mother-like to me? God knows you are kind, and it’s James says the same; and you know yourself James—God forgive him!—loves no Yankee besides you in the world.”

“But I mistrust, Margaret,” said the old lady, fixing her faded gray eye on the young creature, “I mistrust James’s sister can’t say the same.” Margaret’s cheek, ordinarily pale, turned to a deep crimson. The old lady cleared her voice and continued: “It’s no crime, nor nothing like it, Margaret, to love what’s good—hem—if what’s good is what’s suitable.” This seemed a mere common-placeism, but Margaret’s cheek turned pale again, and a tear trickled over it.

“You say you have not always lived in a shanty, Margaret, and that’s what l have said to our people. Says I to Sister Maxwell, ‘Margaret has had as good opportunities as the most of our mountain girls;’ says I, ‘ she can read handsomely— there’s few can read like her;’ says I, ‘I wish the minister could read so;’ says I, ‘ her reading sinks right down into the heart.’ ”

“Who is flattering now, Mrs. Ray, dear?”

[p. 130]

“Not I, Margaret—-’tis not our way to flatter.”

“Nor ours. God knows, Mrs. Ray, it’s what we feel we speak, be it good or bad.”

“Well, well, Margaret, I know some does call real kind heart-words flattery, but they are no such thing, I know—we won’t talk about that now. As I was saying, judging from your reading and writing, you have seen better days—haven’t you, Margaret?”

“Some ways they were better, and other ways not. I had an aunt was housekeeper at Lady Kavenagh’s—and my lady respected my aunt, and she would have me to come and live with her in the housekeeper’s room; and Miss Grace took a fancy to me, and taught me to read and write, and so forth.”

“Then, after all,” said Mrs. Ray, with manifest disappointment, “your parents have always lived in a shanty?”

“They lived in what we call a cabin, ma’am —thank God.”

“Margaret, you forget: I’ve often told you it’s not right to use the name of God in vain as you do. You should not say ‘thank God’ when you mean nothing by it.”

“Indeed, Mrs. Ray, dear, and I do mean something. I never think of my home in that cabin without thanking God in my heart, and God forgive me if I don’t thank him with my lips too. That cabin was my home, Mrs. Ray; there was a kind father and the kindest of mothers always working and caring for us. There it was my little sister—God bless her! —died; there was James, my mate, always glad to see me, and sorry to part from me; there was never a harsh word among us—we laughed and we cried together—what one loved, the other loved, and what one hated, all hated: hadn’t we what’s best in castle and palace, and not always found there? I’ve often thought, wouldn’t my Lady Kavenagh gladly change with-my mother, and rough it with loving hearts and happy faces?”

“Oh, I dare say, Margaret, ladies in the old countries have it hard enough, as everyone knows who reads the newspapers; but that is nothing to the purpose. What I want to come at, Margaret, is, would you—could you be content to live in a cabin again? You would hold your head above it, wouldn’t you?”

Margaret’s form dilated as she impulsively rose from her seat, and raising and clasping her hands, appealingly exclaimed, “God strike me dead, then, if I would! -- it was in a cabin that my father and mother that’s gone lived -- it was in a cabin that James and l grew up together, with one heart between us. Oh, Mrs. Ray, dear, God forgive you! -- it’s such a long time ago, I think you have forgotten what a happy thing it is to be a child at home, in your own father’s place—be it castle or cabin, it’s all the same.”

“Don’t be affronted, child, and don’t cry,” said kind Mrs. Ray, wiping her eyes, and somewhat overpowered by Margaret’s vehe—

[p. 131]

mence; “your feelings are natural, and quite right, but there is no need of such a hurricane. I am sure my sons and daughters love me and are dutiful to me, but it’s in a quiet, regular way.”

“And that’s the way of your people, Mrs. Ray, dear; but our feelings come in a storm, and you may as easy keep the winds that come howling over your Becket hills quiet, as keep them still -- but it’s not always we are feeling, and God forgive me if I have said anything to fret you—you, that are so kind to me.”

“It’s a satisfaction to be kind to you, Margaret, and I don’t like to leave my work half done—so sit down again. I'll be candid with you, Margaret, and you must be candid with me, and open your heart to me as if I were your own mother.”

“Ah, Mrs. Ray, dear!” Margaret kissed the old lady.

“I am going to use freedom, child: who gave you that blue guard-chain that you wear round your neck day and night?”

“Sure it was William Maxwell, then,” replied Margaret, in a voice scarce above her breath. Margaret was learning that some of our feelings, and those of the strongest too, are stillest.

“And what have you hanging by it, Margaret?”

Margaret answered by drawing out a small crucifix appended to the guard-chain, kissing it, and crossing herself. “0 Margaret, Margaret! That’s to be a cross to you indeed, I fear! I must tell you the truth; there is no thing William Maxwell’s parents have such a horror of as a Romanist, and there is nothing his father despises like an Irish person.”

“But it’s not William Maxwell that’s after fearing the one or despising the other,” said Margaret.

“No, that’s true. William is not a serious young man: he’s thought little about religion yet, one way or the other; but when he comes to consider, Margaret, he will feel, as we all do, that it’s a dreadful thing to be a Romanist, and pray to saints, and worship images, and so forth. And besides, I know William better than you do, Margaret—I’ve known him from his cradle—he’s my own sister’s son, and I love him, and he’s a pretty young man, but William has not resolution to go against his parent’s will, be it right or wrong. Take care, child, you’ve dropped your stitches. Now, Margaret, child, hear me patiently: consider, to-day is not forever, and them that’s young and soft like you, if their feelings are cast in one mould, they can be cast over in another.”

“Will ye speak plain what you are after saying to me, “Mrs. Ray, dear?”

“Be patient, child—slow and sure, you know. We can’t have everything just right in this world, Margaret: when one door is opened, another is shut—young folks must be conformable.” Margaret sighed with irrepressible impatience, and Mrs.

[p. 132]

Ray proceeded more directly: “It’s my opinion, Margaret, that William can nowhere find a likelier girl than you are. You have just the disposition to please Sister Maxwell, and Providence somehow seems to have set you down here, making the place for you, and you for the place, as it were; and somehow you have taken an unaccountable hold of my heart, and I can’t blame William; and so I was thinking, Margaret, as the railroad is almost done, the shanties will soon be broke up, and James will have to look for work elsewhere: you’ll have a good chance, as it were, to break up your connexions with all these people, and after a little while you will be no more an Irish girl than Belinda Anne Tracy.” Margaret’s face was turned quite away, or probably Mrs. Ray would not have proceeded: “And then as to your beads, your crucifix, your confessions, &c., the sooner you give them all up, the better, my child, for soul and body too” —

“Say no more, Mrs. Ray; God forsake me if I forsake Him, and deny my parents and my people, and cast off James—heart of my heart! Better for my soul, say ye! And what would be left of my soul if all faith towards God and love to man were out of it? Oh, Mrs. Ray, I would not have thought it of you!” The poor girl wept as if her heart were broken. Mrs. Ray tried in vain to soothe her. She no more argued or persuaded; she was ashamed that she had done either. Her strong innate sense of right triumphed over the prejudices of education and society; and having begun with proposing to her young friend to abjure her faith and forsake her people, she ended with respecting the loyalty that kept her true to both.

Little need be said in explanation of the relations and history of the parties introduced to our readers. Margaret O’Brien had belonged to one of the encampments of Irish that are found along the lines of our railroads, while those great works are constructing by the people who, driven forth from their own land by misery and multiplied oppressions, come here to do our roughest work, and share our bread and freedom. Their shanties, built for transient use, are constructed with the least possible expense and labour; and though perhaps adequate to their ideas of comfort, are a sad contrast to the humblest homes of our own people. There is little found in them besides strong, healthy bodies and warm hearts —the best elements of happiness in any home.

Would it not be well for our people to consider more maturely than they have yet done, the designs of, Providence in sending these swarms of Irish people among us? Is it not possible that their vehement feelings, ardent affections, and illimitable generosity might mingle with our colder, and (we say it regretfully)

[p. 133]

more selfish natures, to the advantage of both? And at any rate, by losing the opportunity of promoting their happiness, of binding them to us by the blessed links of humanity, are we not doing a wrong to our own souls? Can good be elected to them or to ourselves by condemning their nation and deriding their religion?

Margaret’s father lost his life while working on the Western Railroad by the blasting of a rock. Margaret’s mother was ill at the time: the shock of seeing his mangled body brought home without warning, occasioned, as was believed, her death. The report of the melancholy fate of these people spread through the neighbourhood, and Mrs. Ray, impelled by her Christian heart, went to look after the orphan girl. She was struck with the loveliness of her countenance, her sweet manners, and the superior decency of her habitation.

“Why,” said she afterward to the Maxwells, who expressed their surprise that she should take a girl from the shanties into her family, “it wasn’t like a shanty! They were not all herded together like cattle, as they commonly are, but the place was parted off into three rooms; there were bedsteads—rough, to be sure—and there were clean sheets and decent spreads; and they had some chairs; and Margaret a little table with a drawer, all made by her brother, and a work-basket, and everything tidy on it, and a picture hanging over it”—

“A picture! Some saint I dare say,” interrupted Maxwell, his lip curling.

“It might be, for aught I know,” replied Mrs. Ray, meekly, “but I should not think anyone need to be the worse for a saint—the picture of one, I mean, hanging up before them. I assure you, Brother Maxwell, everything had a becoming appearance; there was considerable earthenware and silver teaspoons, and it was evident they had lived like folks; and as to the poor orphan girl, she is as neat as the neatest of our Becket girls—Belinda Anne don’t exceed her—and she is so pretty spoken and pretty looking! and as I wanted help that would be company too, I was glad to get her; and her brother having to go to work on the next section, was glad to leave her in a suitable place for one so young and comely. I hope you don’t think I did wrong, Brother Maxwell,” concluded Mrs. Ray, who, though very apt to do right from her own impulses, was rather weakly nervous as to the judgment of others.

“You are an independent woman, and must judge for yourself, Mrs. Ray. Everybody knows ’tis my principle to keep clear of the Paddies. I neither eat nor drink with them, and I go not in nor out among them.”

“But you sell to them,” said Mrs. Ray, with a smile that faintly

[p. 134]

indicated what she did not say, and what she retained, because she was a woman of peace, and rarely struck a discord ant note. The complaints she had heard from these poor strangers and wayfarers in the land, of the exorbitant prices demanded by “Brother Maxwell” for his pork and potatoes, were fermenting in her mind.

“Yes, I sell to them—I take care of number one. As the Bible says, he that don’t provide for his own household is worse than an infidel.”

“I take that passage in another sense, Brother Maxwell; I provide for my family by buying of them: I buy Margaret’s services, and she throws in her love, and I would not change bargains with you.”

“And I should not be afraid to show books with you, Widow Ray,” retorted the sordid man.

“I don’t keep any books,” replied Mrs. Ray; “there are books where both accounts are kept, and where the widow’s will probably show fairest.”

Maxwell is one of those who bring dishonour on the good name of his people. His industry runs into anxious toil, his enterprise into avarice, his economy into miserliness, his sagacity into cunning, his self-preserving instincts into selfishness. Having one of the largest farms in Becket, his ruling passion is to make it larger. Enjoying and imparting never enter into his calculations; and, as was said of a far loftier person, “he had not so much joy in what he had, as trouble and agony for what he had not.” His only son and heir, William, though resembling his father, had an infusion of his mother’s more generous disposition—a sprinkling of her more attractive qualities. How the proportions were balanced, and which preponderated, will be seen by his conduct.

Margaret O’Brien was much less hopeful than most young people. Early changes and sorrows had superinduced a reflectiveness and sadness on the natural vehemence and cheerfulness of her character. Life seemed to her a dark and tangled path, and she shrunk from pursuing it. She had not yet learned that there is an inner light, which always shines on the patient soul. She was silent and abstracted all the day after her conversation with Mrs. Ray. She performed her usual domestic duties negligently. “I saw plainly,” Mrs. Ray afterward said, “that the poor girl’s heart was not in them; but then, Sister Maxwell, I was only thinking how pretty she looked, and what a blessing she would be to the man—be he who he would—that should marry her. Well, we are short-sighted creatures.”

As the day declined, Margaret became more restless. She was

[p. 135]

continually going to the door, and looking up the road. “Who are you expecting?” asked Mrs. Ray.

“It’s James I am looking for—he promised he would be down some day this week.” Margaret blushed deeply, conscious that, though telling the truth, it was not the whole truth. No James came. No approaching footstep, hoof, or wheel, broke the dismal silence that surrounded the widow’s dwelling. Margaret became more and more unquiet, and at last said she would go and meet James; “that would shorten the time; and if I am not at home at tea-time, don’t wait for me, Mrs. Ray, dear; it is not very far to the shanties, and if I should be late home, there is a bright moon to-night.”

Margaret was already on the threshold. Mrs. Ray called her back. “My child,” she said, “don’t stay out late; you know I am of an anxious make, and easily startled, and you are not looking yourself, Margaret, since our talk this morning; and I’m not superstitious, and don’t really believe in such things, but there has been one of the neighbor’s dogs howling unaccountably lately; and last evening I fully meant to put on my purple shawl, and when I came to take it off, it was my black one, trimmed with crape! I don’t believe in signs, but they make one feel—and if any evil were to happen to you, Margaret, I should feel just as wounded as if it were one of my own daughters.”

“God—the God of the fatherless—bless you, Mrs. Ray, dear, and keep all trouble far from your door.” Margaret kissed her old friend, and promised to return as early as possible, and that promise Mrs. Ray afterward said was a great comfort to her, for she was sure “she meant to keep it.” Margaret walked hastily up the road, and took a horse-path that, passing through a wood, led by a cross cut to the railroad.

Winter comes on prematurely in Becket, a high, cold mountain town. Though it was yet October, the glow and almost metallic brightness of our autumn foliage had passed away. The leaves, the summer’s wealth, lay in piles on the ground, or hung in sadly-thinned companies rustling on the branches; leaden clouds were driving over the sky, and snow falling in scattered flakes.

Margaret’s way lay along a leaping and gushing mountain-stream, which to the ear of the happy called up images of courage and joy, but to Margaret it may have sounded mournful and ominous. May, we say; but there is reason to think that the poor girl was deaf to the sympathies of nature; that her mind was possessed with one idea, and that it mattered not to her whether the voices of nature were cheering or sad. She did not even pause at “Hardy’s Rock,” though that had been her “trysting-tree.” This

[p. 136]

was a rock easy of access from the road, but precipitous towards the stream, with a broad, flat summit. The stream below it was dammed, partly by a natural accumulation of brush and stones brought from above, and partly by art, and it set back in a deep basin. The stream, swollen to a torrent by late rains, had overflowed the margin of the basin, and covered the little strip of level ground around it to the very edge of a steep cliff, whose pines and firs were darkly reflected in it. But a few weeks before Margaret had sat on this rock with William Maxwell, and while she listened to him, had woven a wreath for her bonnet of the asters and golden-rod that were now withered like her hopes.

Below the dam was a saw-mill belonging to William, and he often came down to it towards evening to see what work had been accomplished during the day. It was nearly two weeks since Margaret had seen him, and in that interval she had heard that, in rustic phrase, he was “paying attention” to a young girl, who, by the recent death of her father, had become sole proprietor of a farm adjoining Maxwell’s, and was heiress to herds, pasture-land, and much rural wealth. This young person was the Belinda Anne Tracy, of whom Mrs. Ray had spoken in the morning to Margaret with more meaning than met the ear. Uncertainty was intolerable to Margaret’s impatient Irish nature, and “It will now be ended!” she exclaimed, as, listening intently, she heard the tramp of William Maxwell’s horse long before she saw him. She was hidden by a projecting point of the rock, and he did not perceive her till he was arrested by her voice, not in a loud, but thrilling tone, pronouncing his name.

“Margaret! is it you? I did not think of meeting you, but I was going this evening to see you."

Margaret raised her eyes to his, and a gleam of pleasure shot through them, but they were quickly cast down again, and her lips trembled as she said, “There’s many a lonesome evening come and gone since I have seen you, William Maxwell.”

“That’s true, Margaret—and it is true, too, that a man may be in one place, and his heart in another.”

“Where was your heart then, William, when you was after going down to Westfield with Belinda Anne Tracy!”

“With you, Margaret, and with none but you, and that’s as true as that I stand here on this solid ground; but one can’t—that is—I mean—”

Margaret, with hurried and trembling hands, untied the guard-chain by which her crucifix was suspended, and kissing it, and then holding it up, she said, “I have sworn on this that I would know your true mind, William Maxwell; and if you respect yourself—if ever you respected me—if you respect this sign, of what

[p. 137]

is best and holiest—if you respect Him that’s above, then tell it to me.”

Maxwell felt the solemnity of the adjuration, and dared not evade it; and it may be that he was glad to be forced, by a superior will, to make a communication for which he had been in vain trying to summon resolution for the last two weeks.

“Margaret,” he began, in a faltering voice “it is true, as I have told you many times, I do love you as I never did, nor ever shall love another. I never spoke a false word to you: you are my first love, and you will be my last; but—but—there are others to consult; I am not free to follow my own wishes; the truth is, Margaret, my father has feelings about your people, and he never will give them up. He took a solemn oath before me and my mother: ‘I swear,’ he said, ‘I’ll cast you off forever if you marry one of the Paddy folks!’ My mother, you know, is sickly, and I am her only child; and if it went to this, it would break her heart, and so she told me— and, Margaret, if I can’t marry you, I don’t care who I marry; and so, this being the true state of the case, and no help for it that I can see, I have made as—as good as an engagement with Belinda Anne Tracy.”

Margaret kept her eye steadily fixed on him till he had finished. She then drew the guard chain from the crucifix, threw it away, and pressing the crucifix to her bosom, turned off without speaking a word. William followed her. “Margaret—Margaret,” he said, “do let us part friends; you cannot be more sorry than I am; only say you forgive me!” But he spoke in vain. Margaret made no reply, except by motioning to him to leave her; and, glad to escape from the piercing rebuke of that sweet countenance—more in sorrow than in anger—he mounted his horse and rode away, bearing with him—to be forever borne —the conviction that the heaviest visitation of his father’s anger would have been light in comparison with the sense of a violated faith to this loving, true-hearted orphan stranger.

Maxwell had but just disappeared when Margaret met her brother James. “Is it you, Margaret?” he said: “God’s blessing on you, then! but what are you fretting at!”

“I’m not fretting, James, dear.”

“Now, Margaret, what’s the use of telling me that, when you don’t so much as lift your eye to me, and your cheek is as white as that bit of muslin round your neck? Is it Mrs. Ray that’s been after chiding you?”

“Mrs. Ray! No, no, James; she’s every way like our own mother to me.”

“Margaret, my sister, my child—for you’ve neither father nor

[p. 138]

mother but me—I never yet spake his name to you; if it’s William Maxwell that frets you—if it’s true, as the boys say, that he’s false to you, I’ll break every bone in his body.”

“James! you’ll break my heart speaking so. Oh, James, dear, keep God’s peace, I pray you; it’s you only in the world I love now. It’s a black world. Good-night, James. You are far from your place, and you have been hard at work; don’t go farther with me.”

“I would not leave you, Margaret, dear, a step short of Mrs. Ray’s, but I have promised Mr. John Richards to meet him above the bridge there. l’ll come down tomorrow and remember, Margaret, we two are alone in the world; and for my sake, and for the sake of them that’s in their graves, keep up a brave heart. Good-night.”—“She did not answer me,” thought James. He stopped and looked after her till she was hidden from him by a turn in the road: “God’s heaviest curse will surely fall on him if he’s broke her heart, and she so young, and innocent, and beautiful to look upon!” Such blistering thoughts were in James’s mind till he joined Mr. Richards.

In the meantime Margaret retraced her steps along the margin of the stream till she reached again Hardy’s Rock. The heavy clouds had rolled down over the setting sun, and left the eastern sky, where the full moon was rising, cloudless. The moonbeams glanced athwart the firs, silvering their branches, and fell on the summit of the rock; the water under it was still in deep shadow. It was on this rock that, two months before, the moon shining as it now shone, but then on summer beauty, that Margaret met her lover

“With hinnied hopes around her heart,
Like simmer blossoms—”

there and then she had plighted faith with William Maxwell. Again she felt herself drawn to that spot—probably without any ill design—with only an intolerable sense of disappointment and misery. The scene brought back with intense vividness her past happiness. What it is to remember that under the pressure of present wretchedness, most have felt, and one has described in words never to be forgotten:

“Nessun maggior delore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria;”

James met Mr. Richards at the appointed place. After a few moments, he said, “James, you are thinking of one thing and talking of another. What is the matter?”

James confessed he was anxious; said he had just met his sister, and that he had left her to go home alone, that she

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seemed very unhappy—and he was sorry he had left her to go home alone. Mr. Richards is a young engineer of most kind and active sympathies. James had worked under him on the railroad, and he particularly liked him. He at once entered into the good brother’s feelings. “Let us walk down the road, James,” he said; “you can easily overtake your sister, and we can as well talk over our business walking as standing here.” Accordingly, they proceeded. When they reached the little bridge we have mentioned, Mr. Richards involuntarily paused and looked down the stream, which here and there seemed playing with the moonbeams. “Why, there is your sister, James,” he said, “sitting on Hardy’s Rock."

“The Lord bless ye! and so she is!” said James.

The words were scarcely uttered out of his lips when Margaret slid down the steep side of the rock into the pool beneath. James uttered a wild scream, and both young men ran down the road together at their utmost speed. The place was soonest accessible by the road, but that was winding, and the distance was full an eighth of a mile. When they reached the spot, a white muslin scarf Margaret had worn was floating on the water. Both jumped in. James, impelled by the instinct of his affection, forgot he could not swim, and Richards, to his dismay, saw him sinking. He dragged him out, bade him remain quiet, and plunging in again, he very soon brought up Margaret’s body. But the time had been fatally prolonged by poor James, and every effort to restore her was unavailing. A company of Irishmen coming from their work below joined them. They entered into the scene with hand, heart, and tongue. “Ha!” said one of them, “it was Judy yesterday was afther saying, ‘He’ll never marry Margaret’ -- maning William Maxwell. It’s that Thracy girl, with houses and lands, he’s afther. Curse the Yankees, there’s no sowl in them!”

“It’s not William Maxwell at all,” said another: “he’s a dacent young man; it’s his father’s rule upon him!” Richards bade them all be silent, saying it was no time now for such a discussion. “Sure that’s rasonable,” said one—“And sure I did not mane you at all, Mr. Richards,” said the man of the sweeping anathema, “for it’s an Irish heart you have, anyway, and that’s what all the boys say.”

James seemed to hear nothing. He was rubbing and kissing alternately one of Margaret’s hands that was firmly closed, and he at last succeeded in taking from it the crucifix which it firmly grasped. Just at this moment a man had alighted from a wagon, and was looking on. “The Almighty be praised!” cried James, pressing the disengaged crucifix vehemently to his lips. Mar-

[p. 140]

garet having died with it in her hand was to him a token of infinite good.

The looker on, at this action of James, turned to his companion in the wagon, saying -- “It’s only a Paddy girl,” * got in, and drove on. The Irishmen, who till then had been too much absorbed to notice him, looked up, and perceiving it was the elder Maxwell,, they uttered curses deep and loud, and threatening summary vengeance, they were following, when James interposed. “No, no,” he said, with fearful calmness, “lave him to me, boys—when her wake is over will be time enough.” Richards saw him turn away, murmur something in a low voice, lay the crucifix on Margaret’s hand, and kiss them both together.

Margaret was carried to the dwelling of an Irish friend; a priest was brought, and the ceremonies of their religion were strictly observed.

Immediately after the funeral, Mr. Richards, who had scarcely lost sight of James, took him aside—poor fellow, he looked as if he had lived twenty years in the three preceding days. “James,” he said, “tell me truly, did you not make a vow to revenge your sister’s death?”

“Sure I did that same, sir—on her crucifix, and on the poor, dead cold hand that held it. God forgive me—but could I help it? There she lay-- dead! -- dead! -- the sweetest flower that ever blossomed trampled under their feet—when I heard the very man that had done it say, ‘ it’s only a Paddy girl!’ Oh, Mr. Richards, my heart’s blood boiled, and my father and my mother it was, and all my people, I heard crying me on to vengeance, and I did swear to take their lives—father and son; and I have made confession of the same to Father Brady.”

“And that has saved you from this horrid crime, James”

“Not that, sir.”

“What then!”

“It’s just yourself, Mr. Richards—you and Mrs. Ray. --It was just your goodness to me that stilled the howling tempest in my breast -- and for your sake and Mrs. Ray’s, I forgave all your people. It was Margaret said—they were almost her last words—‘Mrs. Ray is every way mother-like to me;’ and didn’t I see the old lad after crying hot tears over her? Sure, Mr. Richards, if there were more like you and the old lady—God bless her!—there would be an end of cruelty and hate, and love would bind all hearts together—even your people’s and mine!”

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*This expression was in fact uttered by one of our people, and heard by the brother of the girl at such a moment as we have described.

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Sedgwick, Catharine M. By the author of "Hope Leslie," &c. , “"The Irish Girl",” Sedgwick Stories: The Periodical Writings of Catharine Maria Sedgwick, accessed July 11, 2020, https://sedgwickstories.omeka.net/items/show/13.

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