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It happened that the father and mother of the young girl, with the youth to whom she was betrothed, were sitting round their fire-side, when a sudden knock at the cottage-door induced them to hasten to the gate. A tall elegant stranger, closely muffled in a military cloak, entered their humble dwelling, and through the folds of his roquelaure attentively surveyed the groupe. He appeared young, noble, but wrapt in gloom; which, at the period to which I allude, was felt more or less by every Irish patriot.
After a long pause, he relaxed somewhat in his scrutiny, and, having insisted on the departure of the females, commenced an animated recital of the civil dissensions of Ireland, and terminated his discourse by solemnly conjuring the cottagers, as they valued their rights, their liberties, and their principles, to participate in a rebellion, which was raised for the preservation of their country.
His appeal was not lost upon his audience. The iron of slavery had entered into their souls; they had felt the sting of poverty, and were ready to embrace any prospect of ultimate emancipation. They had hearts too that could feel, and hands that could wield a sword; and as the stranger saw
the tears coursing down their cheeks, he embraced them with transport, and promised to meet them on the ensuing evening, on the bleak moor which adjoined the village where they resided.
The night soon arrived; and having taken an affectionate farewell, the one of his betrothed bride, the other of his wife and daughter, the couple set forward on their march. As the clock from the village church struck eight, they entered on the place appointed for their meeting. At the remotest corner of the moor they observed a man hastening to join them. It was the stranger: he hailed their appearance with enthusiasm, and taking a hand of each, desired them to accompany him in silence. The party soon quitted the moor, and, as they cut rapidly across the high-road, discovered a numerous company of horse-patrol, scouring along with swords drawn, and steel helmets flashing through the darkness of the night. By creeping under the hedges they were easily enabled to avoid them; and when the sound of their receding steps could be heard no longer, they cautiously stole from their hiding-place, and pursued their midnight march.
They had now entered on a dark mountainpass, enclosed on either side by precipices, which rose to an awful distance above them. Beyond
towered a gloomy forest of pines; and to the right in the distance appeared the bleak hills of Wicklow. The dead of night drew on; and as the wind roared through each opening cleft in the mountains, the spirits of the travellers assumed a corresponding tone of dejection. They moved along in silence,not, however, without an occasional murmur from the cottager and his son-in-law, as to the direction of the road they were pursuing; and they had already commenced an expostulation, when the moon peeped through the mass of clouds in which she was buried, and revealed the expanse of the deep blue ocean, which roared at the base of the mountain along whose summits they were winding.
In a few minutes they had gained the further side of the pass, and could distinctly hear the hum of human voices, and see the dim flickerings of a hundred torches, revealing to their surprize a cavern which seemed yawning to receive them. They advanced towards the entrance, where a sentinel, with a pike in his hand and a broadsword by his side, was stationed. "Who goes there?" he exclaimed, levelling his weapon at the approaching party. "Friends," was the reply. "The watchword."-" The Emerald isle," returned the other, and hastened on, accompanied by his two astonished associates.
After winding through a narrow passage that admitted but one at a time, their eyes were dazzled by the glittering radiance of torch-lights, which illumined the dark vaults of the cavern. A charcoal fire burnt in the middle of the cave, and threw a sulphureous glare on the ferocious features of the surrounding group. From the centre of the arched roof a lamp was suspended, and on every side hung broad-swords, pistols, and other instruments of destruction. On the entrance of the stranger with his companions, the rebels advanced to meet him, and paid him that involuntary respect which true dignity never fails to elicit. He had now thrown off his mantle, but his features were still carefully concealed. He was habited in a simple suit of green, and advancing towards his two companions, recommended them to the rest of the group as friends to the liberty of Ireland. They were received with shouts of applause, the fearful oath of allegiance was taken, and they were equipped with arms to be used in the ensuing
Among the number of those who held 'their nightly meetings in the cavern, was an old enthusiast, well known by the name of "Allan of the Moor." He was a reputed wizard, and had no inconsiderable influence over the assembly by the
wild and savage singularity of his demeanour. His face was cadaverous; his matted hair thinly strewed over his wrinkled brows; but his eyes were as the eyes of the dead. As his prophecies, the effects of a distempered imagination, invariably announced a successful issue to the contest, the rebels daily received a formidable addition to their reinforcements. They remained with their families during the morning, and assembled each night in the cavern, but with such precaution, that they were enabled to baffle the penetration of the soldiers who were stationed in companies throughout the country. The troubles of Ireland meantime raged with unabated energy; the sentiments of liberty were tortured into the language of treason, and the military oppressed the unfortunate peasants with unexampled despotism. The whole of the lower classes, on whom the yoke fell the heaviest, resolved at last to take the earliest opportunity of recovering their freedom.
On a gloomy night in autumn, they assembled in Thomas-street, Dublin, where they had previously deposited their arms, and awaited in anxious expectation the signal that was to announce their rising. As the Castle clock struck the hour of eight, lights were seen burning on the summits of the neighbouring hills; the roar of musquetry was