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“ Mammy, mammy !" said she at last,“ little Sally's cold, cold !"
A new cord of feeling was touched was instantly touched, and hope mingled with the sound. She left the body at once, and ran to the hamper. But there the image of death was stamped in too horrible a form to be mistaken. She gazed on the infant with eyes stretching from their sockets; and, uttering a piercing shriek, she snatched the body up from the straw where it was cradled. One wild look showed that reason had instantaneously forsaken her. She raised the infant corpse on high with both her hands, and burst into a loud laugh, that chilled the very blood of those around her. The laugh gradually subsided, and the expression of her countenance changed. She seated herself slowly on one of the settles; a smile came over her features, far more heartbreaking than the laugh that preceded it; and she began to fondle and nurse the baby, as if it had been still alive. The scene was more than human nature could stand. Even the poor Irishman, whose rough outside covered as much heart as ever warmed a Christian bosom, cried like an infant.
It was some time before Amherst could command himself so far as to be actively useful. At last he called one of the men aside, and putting & purse into his hand, begged of him, in words as intelligible as his choked utterance would admit of, to hasten to procure immediate female assistance. He gave him directions to find a conveyance for the unfortunate woman and her boy, and to see them taken to some comfortable lodging in the neighbouring village, to send for medical advice, and to administer every thing necessary. All which he readily undertook, and proceeded directly to execute.
The first part of his commission was very speedily performed, for not far from the hovel, he met with two women, whom he knew, and the afflicted widow and bereaved mother was committed to their care. She still sat fondling her baby with the fixed eyes and vacant stare of madness, and every now and then she burst into a heart-rending convulsion of maniac laughter.
Amherst having done all for her that present circumstances demanded, now called the Irishman to the door, believing, from something he had said, that he could give him the history of the unfortunate female, on whom it had thus pleased Heaven to pour out the very dregs of the phial of human wretchedness. He was not mistaken, and the tale was told with so much feeling, and in a manner so ingenuous, as to impress Amherst with the most favourable opinion of the narrator. This is no time, however, to perplex the reader with his curious phrase ology, and numerous circumlocutions. The story shall therefore be given in as concise a form as its nature will admit.
John Morley was an industrious man, who rented a small garden in the suburbs of the neighbouring village. By hard labour he maintained his wife and family on the produce of it. He had had several children, but he lost them all except one boy of eight or ten years old, and the younger one, with whom we have already been made acquainted.
It was now about eight or nine months since Miss Delassaux was proceeding to the raceground in a sort of open phaeton, driven by a Neapolitan coachman, and followed by two outriders, one of whom was Cornelius O'Gollochar, the narrator of the story we are now telling. As
the equipage was driving down the lane, where Morley's cottage presented its smiling front, covered with vines and creepers, and where a broad gilded sign, with “ FRUITS IN THEIR SEASON,” invited passengers into the neatly dressed walks, and trim arbours of his garden, his eldest boy was crossing the way with a sackful of young cauliflower plants on his back. His head was so completely buried in his burden, that his ears were deafened by it, and the vehicle was upon him before he was aware of its approach. O'Gollochar, though he was riding behind, saw the whole transaction perfectly, and some minutes before it took place, shouted both to the coachman and the boy ; but to no purpose, for the ruffian, who must have seen the lad as soon as he appeared, drove on with as much indifference as if the way had been perfectly clear.
A shocking scene ensued. The boy was knocked down. His distracted father sprang from the cottage to his rescue.
But his attempt was vain. The villain swept onwards like a whirlwind, and crushed the lad to death under the wheels. The miserable father was struck by the pole, thrown down, and his body so dreadfully
bruised, that he was carried senseless to his bed, and never afterwards arose from the horizontal position. On moved the gay vehicle as if nothing had happened. Its mistress, arrayed in all the splendour and magnificence of unbounded wealth, her thoughts filled with dreams of conquest, scarcely seemed to notice the accident, as it
But when the carriage came to the stand, poor O’Gollochar was missing. He had remained behind to give all the assistance he could to the unfortunate sufferers, and compassion kept him so well employed, that he did not rejoin the lady all that day, and, consequently, incurred her severe displeasure.
On the Coroner's inquest there were no witnesses who could throw a proper light on the matter except O'Gollochar. The other groom was not present, having been sent on to select a good place for the carriage to draw up in. Morley himself was incapable of speaking, far less of attending. Miss Delassaux denied having seen the occurrence so as to form any judgment of the circumstances. Antonio the Neapolitan protested, and was ready to swear, that the whole was accidental, and that he did not even know till after