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- Peg O' My Heart - 10/72 -
away. Oh yes, it was a good stroke of business. Our name has been built up on 'good strokes of business.' Well, I tell you it's a BAD stroke of business when human lives are put into the hands of such creatures as we Kingsnorths have proved ourselves!"
"Stop!" cried Nathaniel, outraged to the innermost sanctuary of his being. "Stop! You don't speak like one of our family. It is like listening to some heretic--some--"
"I don't feel like one of your family. YOU are a KINGSNORTH. _I_ am my MOTHER'S child. My poor, gentle, patient mother, who lived a life of unselfish resignation: who welcomed death, when it came to her, as a release from tyranny. Don't call ME a Kingsnorth. I know the family too well. I know all the name means to the people who have suffered through YOUR FAMILY."
"After this--the best thing--the only thing--is to separate," said Nathaniel.
"Whenever you wish."
"I'll make you an allowance."
"Don't let it be a burden."
"I've never been so shocked--so stunned--"
"I am glad. From my cradle I've been shocked and stunned--in my home. It's some compensation to know you are capable of the feeling, too. Frankly, I didn't think you were."
"We'll talk no more of this," and Nathaniel began to pace the room.
"I am finished," and Angela went to the door.
"It would be better we didn't meet again--in any event--not often," added Nathaniel.
"Thank you," said Angela, opening the door. He motioned her to close it, that he had something more to say.
"We'll find you some suitable chaperone. You can spend your winters abroad, as you have been doing. London for the season--until you're suitably married. I'll follow out my father's wishes to the letter. You shall be handsomely provided for the day you marry."
She closed the door with a snap and came back to him and looked him steadily in the eyes.
"The man I marry shall take nothing from you. Even in his 'last will and testament' my father proved himself a Kingsnorth. It was only a Kingsnorth could make his youngest daughter dependent on YOU!"
"My father knew I would respect his wishes."
"He was equally responsible for me, yet he leaves me to YOUR care. A Kingsnorth!"
"The men MASTERS and the women SLAVES!"
"That is the Kingsnorth doctrine."
"It is a pity our father didn't live a little longer. There are many changes coming into this old grey world of ours and one of them is the real, honourable position of woman. The day will come in England when we will wring from our fathers and our brothers as our right what is doled out to us now as though we were beggars."
"And they are trying to govern the country of Ireland in the same way. The reign of the despot. Well, THAT is nearly over too--even as woman's degrading position to-day is almost at an end."
"Have you finished?"
Once again Angela went to the door. Nathaniel said in a somewhat changed tone:
"As it is your wish this man should be cared for, I'll do it. When he is well enough to be moved, the magistrate will take him to jail. But, for the little while we shall be here, I beg you not to do anything so unseemly again."
A servant came in to tell Angela the doctor had come. Without a word. Angela went out to see to the wounded man.
The servant followed her.
Left alone, Nathaniel sat down, shocked and stunned, to review the interview he had just had with his youngest sister.
THE WOUNDED PATRIOT
When Angela entered the sick-room she found Dr. McGinnis, a cheery, bright-eyed, rotund little man of fifty, talking freely to the patient and punctuating each speech with a hearty laugh. His good- humour was infectious.
The wounded agitator felt the effect of it and was trying to laugh feebly himself.
"Sure it's the fine target ye must have made with yer six feet and one inch. How could the poor soldiers help hittin' ye? Answer me that?" and the jovial doctor laughed again as he dexterously wound a bandage around O'Connell's arm.
"Aisy now while I tie the bandage, me fine fellow. Ye'll live to see the inside of an English jail yet."
He turned as he heard the door open and greeted Angela.
"Good afternoon to ye, Miss Kingsnorth. Faith, it's a blessin' ye brought the boy here. There's no tellin' What the prison-surgeon would have done to him. It is saltpetre, they tell me, the English doctors rub into the Irish wounds, to kape them smartin'. And, by the like token, they do the same too in the English House of Commons. Saltpetre in Ireland's wounds is what they give us."
"Is he much hurt?" asked Angela.
"Well, they've broken nothin'. Just blackened his face and made a few holes in his skin. It's buckshot they used. Buckshot! Thank the merciful Mr. Forster for that same. 'Buckshot-Forster,' as the Irish reverently call him."
Angela flushed with indignation as she looked at the crippled man.
"What a dastardly thing to do," she cried.
"Ye may well say that, Miss Kingsnorth," said the merry little doctor. "But it's betther than a bullet from a Martini-Henry rifle, that's what it is. And there's many a poor English landlord's got one of 'em in the back for ridin' about at night on his own land. It's a fatherly government we have, Miss Kingsnorth. 'Hurt 'em, but don't quite kill 'em,' sez they; 'and then put 'em in jail and feed them on bread and wather. That'll take the fine talkin' and patriotism out of them,' sez they."
"They'll never take it out of me. They may kill me, perhaps, but until they do they'll never silence me," murmured O'Connell in a voice so low, yet so bitter, that it startled Angela.
"Ye'll do that all in good time, me fine boy," said the busy little doctor. "Here, take a pull at this," and he handed the patient a glass in which he had dropped a few crystals into some water.
As O'Connell drank the mixture Dr. McGinnis said in a whisper to Angela:
"Let him have that every three hours: oftener if he wants to talk. We've got to get his mind at rest. A good sleep'll make a new man of him."
"There's no danger?" asked Angela in the same tone.
"None in the wurrld. He's got a fine constitution and mebbe the buckshot was pretty clean. I've washed them out well."
"To think of men shot down like dogs for speaking of their country. It's horrible! It's wicked! It's monstrous."
"Faith, the English don't know what else to do with them, Miss. It's no use arguin' with the like of him. That man lyin' on that bed 'ud talk the hind-foot off a heifer. The only way to kape the likes of him quiet is to shoot him, and begob they have."
"I heard you, doctor," came from the bed. "If they'd killed me to- day there would be a thousand voices would rise all over Ireland to take the place of mine. One martyr makes countless converts."
"Faith, I'd rather kape me own life than to have a hundred thousand spakin' for me and me dead. Where's the good that would be doin' me? Now kape still there all through the beautiful night, and let the blessed medicine quiet ye, and the coolin' ointment aize yer pain. I'll come in by-and-by on the way back home. I'm goin' up beyant 'The Gap' to some poor people with the fever. But I'll be back."
"Thank you, Dr. McGinnis."
"Is it long yer stayin' here?" and the little man picked up his hat.
"I don't know," said Angela. "I hardly think so."
"Well, it's you they'll miss when ye're gone, Miss Kingsnorth. Faith if all the English were like you this sort of thing couldn't happen."
"We don't try to understand the people, doctor. We just govern them blindly and ignorantly."
"Faith it's small blame to the English. We're a mighty hard race to make head nor tail of. And that's a fact. Prayin' at Mass one minnit and maimin' cattle the next. Cryin' salt tears at the bedside of a sick child, and lavin' it to shoot a poor man in the ribs for darin' to ask for his rint."
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