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The priest assured her, however, that he was only in a faint, and ordered her to get water.
“ What did he eat to-day?" said he.
“And I suppose you ate nothing yourself either," said he, in a rough, angry tone. What nonsense it is! Couldn't you make out something or other? Weren't any of the neighbors with you?”
"I never took my eyes off her all day,” said Mary faintly.
“ Sprinkle the water on his face and hands, and I'll be back in a few minutes;” and Father Mat seemed, as he hurried through the darkness, to have been attacked with a sudden catarrh, for his handkerchief was in constant demand till he reached his own door.
As he entered the hall he called out: “Are you there, Nancy?”
To be sure I am! Where else would I be, sir, at this time o' night?” answered old Nancy Doolan, his housekeeper, cook, and maid-of-all-work, as she popped her white capped head out of the kitchen door, a well worn rosary dangling in her hand.
“I thought you might be in bed,” said the priest apologetically. He was a little afraid of Nancy, though he had nearly as high an opinion of her as she had of him, and that is saying a great deal, for she did not think the whole earth held one like him, either priest or layman. “ Nancy,” said he," have you any boiling water?”
“Musha,” answered she in a mournful and disappointed tone, “ 't is a quare thing, an' I doin' for you ever since you came among us, for you to think so little of me. Did I ever go to bed or kneel down to say me prayers without lavin' the hot wather an' everything ready for you? There's the glass an' there's the malt, an' there's the lump sugar, an' the kittle boilin' for your drop o' punch before you go to bed."
“ Sure I'm not doubting you, Nancy; but 't is tea I want now." “ Tea!” said she in surprise.
Yes, Nancy, I want you to make a good jug of tea, and take a loaf of bread and knife-don't forget the knife and bring them down to MacManus's cottage.”
“Is it to Dan MacManus's cottage.”
Now, you heard me, Nancy." “Is it a loaf o' bread an' tay, sir?"
“I won't say it a second time," said the priest, looking angry, for Nancy and he often had little battles over his charity, but, seeing that he was very determined this time, she went grumbling about her task.
“ That's the way—why, every one o' them coming over him with their starvation stories. He'll be left without a cup o' tay for himself between 'em; as if the whole village could be draggin' out of him! An' troth! he's tight enough as it is.”
Father Mat had gone into his little parlor and supplied himself with a small quantity of brandy out of the little he had, and gone off to the cabin, where he was soon followed by Nancy, bearing the jug of tea in one hand, a small lantern in the other, and the loaf of bread and knife in her apron. She laid them down upon the table, and shook her head compassionately when she saw the state of affairs. Dan was just recovering consciousness and sat with his back against the wall while the priest was administering some brandy to him.
Nancy stole to the bedside, and, gazing for a while on the little white face, muttered: “Glory be to God! she's gone; ” upon which Mary started to her side, and placing her ear to the white lips, said:
“No, the breath is in her, Nancy."
“I didn't think she was breathing at all. Glory be to God! she'll soon be a bright little angel. God help you, you 're the sorrowful woman this night, Mary, acushla. Take a drop o' the warm tay if you can at all."
“I don't think I could swally it; I never thought of bit or sup this day, no more nor if I was a soul unbodied.''
“Come now," said the priest, “ whether you can or not, the two of you must eat and drink a hearty supper before I leave this. Go on now, Nancy, I'll be down after you; and his reverence poured out some tea into a tin mug and handed it to Mary, while he gave the jug to Dan, and cut up the loaf and commanded them as an act of obedience to eat their suppers.
The night wore on. The priest had left them. Little Eily still breathed, though they thought every breath would be her last. As they watched above her, the wind swept round the house, sobbing and sighing at the door, at the window, through the chinks in the roof, almost like a woman's wail. Mary looked at Dan.
“'T is only the wind, Mary."
Treacy's dog Bouncer gave vent to a long and piercing howl.
Oh,” muttered Dan, “if she'd give me one look before she goes!”
Eily opened her eyes. They seemed dark and brilliant. A look of strange surprise was in them, and she seemed to gaze intently at the foot of the bed. Gradually a smile of ineffable rapture illumined her face, and she seemed to make an effort to stretch out her hands.
“'T is the blessed angels is come for her," whispered Mary; and both parents sank upon their knees.
Bouncer gave another howl, and the wind wailed round the house, and Bouncer howled again, and Mrs. Treacy blessed herself and remarked to her spouse:
“Jim ! that's the third time Bouncer did that."
“Troth, 'tis well he has some one stopping awake to keep an account for him," responded Jim in a sleepy voice, for, asleep or awake, Jim was always a wag.
“I'm thinking 't is poor Eily MacManus is going. I believe she didn't know one yesterday;" and the young mother pressed her lips upon the little downy head that rested on her arm. “Well, in town or counthry I never saw such a purty child as she was when she came here first. I'm tould ’t was in his family to be handsome. They say he's one of the rale ould stock, an' sure the both of them was dazed about her."
“She was," replied Jim, “a very nice little crather; but as 't is the heart o’ the night, I suppose we might as well be going to sleep, Norry."
Mrs. Treacy kissed her baby again, and said no more.
“ That's four,” said Jim, half asleep. In another house little Katey Farrell, who lay at the foot of the family bed, turned over in her sleep and muttered, “I gave her the primroses.
“Be quiet with you," said her mother, giving her a push with her foot; " you have me awake the whole night wid your turning and twisting, an' troth! I was jaded enough when I lay down.”
Upon which Katey repeated her remark in a louder tone, though still asleep.
“ Is there anything ailing you, agra?” said her mother, fearing she might be unwell.
Katey, now wide awake, said:
“I was dramin' about the primroses I took to poor little Eily yesterday. Weren't they grand ones?”
“ Faith, if you don't be quiet this minnit, I 'll give you primroses you won't like. I didn't get a wink o’ sleep yet with you."
Bouncer gave another prolonged howl.
“I'm afeared poor Eily is gone,” said her mother. “ Be quiet an' go to sleep, anyhow."
“Sure I often heard him doin' that,” said the child.
“ You 'll have the baby awake on me, so you will!” and Mrs. Farrell gave a low “hush-sh-sh," and then all was silent and she thought to herself, “Now surely I 'll get a sleep,” for she wished to rise early on Easter Sunday morning, and she had been up late washing and cleansing in order to have her children as neat as possible in honor of that glorious festival. But to her utter dismay, a shrill voice from the other side of the apartment chirped out:
“Sure Mat tot a otther."
“Go asleep, now," muttered a low voice from the same locality, which we recognize as that of old Gran.
But little five-year-old Patsy had been much excited the previous evening by this exploit of his brother, and had fallen asleep quite unintentionally in the midst of it. So when he awoke again he naturally took up the matter where he had left off, and was quite irrepresssible. Indeed he was always a wakeful youngster, and so lively that even sleep did not subdue him, for he was in the habit of nightly going through a series of athletic performances, using his old grandmother as a springing-board. Occasionally these exercises brought him out upon the earthen floor with a sudden dash, when he would give vent to a shrieking announcement that “ His head was broke!” and wake all the household with the exception of Mat, who, though usually in a highly compressed state between his father and the wall, always slept through everything until his waking hour, half-past five in the summer and half-past six in winter.
“ Fos Bouncer tot him be the poll down in de wather."
“For the Lord's sake, Mother, will you make him whist? he 'll have the house awake." By the “house" she meant Pat the elder and the dreaded baby. For they are equally unreasonable and difficult of management when disturbed at night.
“Sure if I sthrike him he'd wake the town, an’ what 'll I do?” said the old woman. " Go asleep now, avourneen, an' I'll give you · long sticks 'to-morrow.”
“ You will in my eye!” remarked the cherub.
“ He's hanging in the yard,” said Katey; for which she got a smart kick.
But the mischief was done. An angry bass suddenly er. claimed, from the northeast corner of the family bed.
“ Yerra! what the has you all pratin' away like magpies in the black o' the night for?”
“Oh, Pat! don't wake the child !” said his wife, in a low, mild tone.
“E gorra! that's not a bad one, either! 'Oh, Pat, don't wake the child,'” mocked he in indignant tones; "an' her. self afther wakin' the whole of us out of the depths of our sleep wid her talk; troth you 're one o' the quarest women I ever heard tell of."
His wife said nothing, for she had still hopes of being able to hush the baby. And as the angry tones of the paterfamilias had effectually silenced the other young sters, all was soon quiet, and even the poor, tired mother succeeded in falling into à sound and refreshing sleep.
Strange to say, Mat—the adamantine sleeper—was the first to awaken, his accustomed hour having come. He calmly opened his eyes, and, craning up his neck, he looked down at his sister, who still slept, which he considered absurd; so, having nothing at hand to throw at her, he slid softly down and tilted up her head with his foot.
“Stop!” said she sleepily, but, remeinbering herself, she