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HOME > Short Stories > Light O' The Morning > CHAPTER XXXIII. — THE CABIN ON THE MOUNTAIN.
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 Nora slept little that night. She had a good deal to think of, and very anxious were her thoughts. She knew the Irishman, Andy Neil, well, and she also knew his ferocious and half-savage temperament. Added to his natural fierceness of character, he now undoubtedly was possessed by temporary insanity. This had been brought on by hunger, cold, and great misery. The man was desperate, and would think little of desperate deeds. After all, his life was of small value to him compared to his revenge. Whenever did an Irishman, at moments like the present, consider life? Revenge came first, and there was that in the man's gleaming dark eyes, in his high cheek-bones, in his wild, unkempt, starved appearance, which showed that he would, if something was not quickly done, once again attempt the Squire's life. What was she to do? Nora wondered and wondered. Her father was getting better; the open air treatment, the simple food, and the company of his friends were effecting the cure which the luxurious life in the heavily furnished chamber had failed to do. The Squire would soon be well and strong again. If he were careful, he would once again stand in health and strength on his ancestral acres.  
He would get accustomed to the grandeur of the restored Castle O'Shanaghgan; he would get accustomed to his English relatives and their ways. He would have his barn to retire to and his friends to talk to, and he would still be the darling, the best-loved of all, to his daughter Nora; but at the present moment he was in danger. In the barn, too, he was in much greater danger than he had been when in the safe seclusion of the Castle. It would be possible for any one to creep up to the barn at night, to push open the somewhat frail windows or equally frail door, and to accomplish that deed which had already been attempted. Nora knew well that she must act, she must do something—what, was the puzzle. Squire O'Shanaghgan was one of the most generous, open-hearted, and affectionate of men. His generosity was proverbial; he was a prime favorite with his tenants; but he had, like many another Irishman of his type, a certain hard phase in his character—he could, on occasions, be almost cruel. He had taken a great dislike to Andy Neil and to some other tenants of his class; he had been roused to stronger feeling by their open resistance, and had declared that not all the Land Leagues in Ireland, not all the Fenians, not all the Whiteboys, were they banded together in one great insurrection, should frighten him from his purpose.
Those tenants who defied him, who refused to pay the scanty rent which he asked for their humble cabins, should go out; they should, in short, be evicted. The other men had submitted to the Squire's iron dictation. They had struggled to put their pence and shillings together, and with some difficulty had met the question of the rent; but Andy Neil either could not or would not pay; and the Squire had got the law, as he expressed it, to evict the man. There had come a day when the wild tenant of the little cabin on the side of the bare mountain had come home to find his household goods exposed to the airs of heaven, the roof off his cabin, the door removed from its hinges; the hearth, it is true, still warm with the ashes of the sods of turf which were burning there in the morning, but the whole home a ruin. The Squire had not himself witnessed this scene of desolation, but had given his stern orders, and they had been executed by his agent. When Andy saw the ruins of his home he gave one wild howl and rushed down the side of the mountain. His sick children—there were two of them in the cabin at the time—had been taken pity on by some neighbors almost as poor as himself; but the shock (or perhaps their own bad health) had caused the death of both boys, and the man was now homeless and childless. No wonder his brain gave way. He vowed vengeance. Vengeance was the one last thing left to him in life; he would revenge his wrongs or die. So, waiting his opportunity, he had crouched behind a hedge, and, with an old gun which he had stolen from a neighbor, had fired at the Squire. In the crucial moment, however, his hand shook, and the shot had lodged, not in the Squire's body, but in his leg, causing a nasty but scarcely a dangerous wound. The only one in all the world who suspected Andy was the Squire's daughter Nora; but it was easy for her to put two and two together. The man's words to her in the cave, when he threatened to drown her, returned to her memory. She suspected him; but, with an Irish girl's sympathy, she would not speak of her suspicions—that is, if her father's life was spared.
But now the man himself had come to her and threatened fresh mischief. She hated to denounce the poor, starved creature to the police, and yet she must protect her father. The Squire was much better; but his temper could be roused to great fury at times, and Nora dreaded to mention the subject of Andy Neil. She guessed only too well that fear would not influence the fierce old Squire to give the man back his cabin. The one thing the wretched creature now craved was to die under the shelter of the roof where he had first seen the light; but this natural request, so dear to the heart of the Squire himself, under altered circumstances, would not weigh with him under existing conditions. The mere fact that Andy still threatened him would make him more determined than ever to stick to his purpose. Nora did not dare to give her father even a hint with regard to the hand which had fired that shot; and yet, and yet—oh, God help her! she must do something, or the consequences might be too fearful to contemplate.
As she was dressing on the following morning she thought hard, and the idea came to her to take the matter into her own hands, and herself give Andy leave to go back to his cabin; but, on reflection, she found that this would be no easy matter, for the cabins from which the tenants were evicted were often guarded by men whose business it was to prevent the wretched creatures returning to them. No doubt Andy's cabin would be now inaccessible; still, she might go and look at it, and, if all other means failed, might venture to beg of her father's agent to let the man return to it; but first of all she would see the place. Somewhat cheered as this determination came to her, she ran downstairs. Mr. Hartrick was returning to England by an early train, and the carriage, which was to convey him to the station, was already at the door. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan was almost tearful at the thought of parting with her beloved brother. Molly, delighted at being allowed to stay on at the Castle, was also present; but Nora's entrance on the scene caused Mrs. O'Shanaghgan to speak fretfully.
“Late as usual, Nora,” said that lady, turning and facing her daughter as she appeared. “I am glad that you condescended to appear before your uncle starts for England. I wonder that you have taken the trouble.”
“Oh, do not scold her, Ellen,” said Mr. Hartrick, kindly. “I begin to understand something of the nature of my Irish niece. When the Squire is well again she will, I am sure, return to England and resume her studies; but at present we can scarcely expect her to do so.”
“I will come back some time, Uncle George,” said Nora; “and oh!” she added, “I do thank you for all your great and real kindness. I may appear ungrateful, but indeed, indeed I am not so in my heart, and it is very good of you to allow Molly to stay; and I will promise to take great care of her, and not to let her get too wild.”
“Thank you. Any message for your aunt, Nora?” said Mr. Hartrick gravely. “I should like you, my dear,” he added, coming up to the girl, and laying his hand on her shoulder and looking with his kind eyes into her face, “to send your Aunt Grace a very special message; for you did try her terribly, Nora, when you not only ran away yourself, but induced Molly to accompany you.”
Nora hesitated for a moment, the color flamed into her face, and her eyes grew very bright.
“Tell her, Uncle George,” she said, speaking slowly and with great emphasis, “that I did what I did for father. Tell her that for no one else but father would I hurt her, and ask her to forgive me just because I am an Irish girl; and I love—oh! I love my father so dearly.”
“I will take her your message, my dear,” said Mr. Hartrick, and then he stooped and kissed his niece.
A moment later he was about to step into the carriage, when Nora rushed up to him.
“Good-by; God bless you!” she cried. “Oh, how kind you have been, and how I love you! Please, please, do not misunderstand me; I have many cares and anxieties at present or I would say more. You have done splendidly, only——”
“Only what, Nora?” said her uncle.
“Only, Uncle George,” answered the girl, “you have done what you have done to please my mother, and you have done it all in the English way; and oh! the English way is very fine, and very noble, and very generous; but—but we did want the old bare rooms and the lack of furniture, and the place as it always has been; but we could not expect—I mean father and I could not expect—you and mother to remember that.”
“It was impossible, Nora,” said her uncle. “What I did I did, as you express it, my dear, in the English way. The retrograde movement, Nora, could not be expected from an Englishman; and by-and-by you, at least, will thank me for having brought civilization to O'Shanaghgan.”
A moment later Mr. Hartrick went away, and Nora returned to the house. Mrs. O'Shanaghgan had left the room, and Nora found herself alone with her cousin Molly.
“What is it, Nora?” said Molly. “You look quite pale an............
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