Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1232
While in Dublin on some business for his widowed mother, Rory O’More made the acquaintance of Horace de Lacy, an Irish patriot who had come from France in order to further the cause of revolution against English oppression. He was a messenger from a French general who was aiding the Irish in order to help Napoleon in his attempted conquest of England. De Lacy was a gentleman, descended from proud bloodlines, and Rory and his mother and sister considered it an honor to have him share their home. The O’More women nursed him back to health after an attack of smallpox, and De Lacy felt indebted to the good people for their care. In addition, Rory became a fellow conspirator. De Lacy and Rory did not conspire for personal gain, as did many of the rebels; rather, they loved Ireland and wanted her and her people to be free. Although De Lacy was perhaps not aware of it, he was a true democrat.
Rory loved a neighbor lass, Kathleen Regan. Although she returned his affection, she was prevented from marrying him by her brother Shan, a blackguard who had been refused by Mary O’More, Rory’s sister. Shan’s pride had been hurt by Mary’s refusal, and he hated the whole O’More family. Since Shan was the head of the household, Kathleen and her mother feared to disobey him; she and Rory were forced to meet in secret.
Because De Lacy was not well enough to take and receive a message that was expected by his contacts in Ireland, Rory volunteered to act in his place. He was dismayed to learn that Shan was one of his fellow rebels, for he knew that his enemy hoped only for personal gain. Another among the group was De Welskein, a smuggler who cared little which side won since he would profit regardless of the outcome. Shan and De Welskein were made for each other, each one willing to betray their friends for a profit. Rory knew them both to be dangerous.
After he had secured the necessary letter for De Lacy, Rory left the unsavory crowd. Later, he was apprehended by the police, but his cleverness and his knowledge of the colonel’s affair with a married woman gained his freedom for him. De Lacy was pleased with his success, and that gentleman’s praise was a great reward to Rory. Shan then tried to make trouble for him with Kathleen, and Rory was forced to administer two beatings to the bully before Shan gave him any peace.
It was necessary for De Lacy to return to France to help the cause of the rebellion. He parted sadly from his friends and made his way to a port from which De Welskein was to smuggle him out of Ireland. In the meantime Rory, purely by accident, accompanied Scrubbs, a government tax collector, from a tavern in the village. On their way home, they heard people calling for help. Hurrying to the rescue, they found De Welskein, Shan Regan, and other rebels imprisoned in a flooding cave. After saving the lives of the doomed men, the scoundrels repaid Rory by taking him and Scrubbs prisoners and transporting them to the ship that De Welskein had secured for De Lacy’s trip to France. Anxious to get rid of Rory in any manner, Shan persuaded the others that Rory was a traitor to their cause. Because Scrubbs was a government official, it was not safe to leave him to reveal their names to the authorities.
On board the ship, Rory learned that he was on the vessel that carried his friend De Lacy. Knowing that De Welskein would keep the news of his presence from De Lacy, he managed to send a message to his friend. When they were off the coast of France and under the eyes of a battleship commanded by De Lacy’s friend, De Welskein was forced to release Rory. Scrubbs, a government official, was of no concern to De Lacy.
In France, De Lacy heard two heartbreaking pieces of news. His unfaithful sweetheart had given her hand to another, and Napoleon had decided to withdraw his promised aid to Ireland in his campaign against the English. He avenged the first desertion by inflicting a wound on his rival, but the latter one left a scar on his heart. The approaching death of an uncle kept him and Rory in France, there being no reason for them to hurry back to Ireland. After the uncle’s death, Rory and De Lacy embarked once again for Ireland.
Many changes had taken place during the year they had been gone. Some of the fanatical rebels had attempted to revolt without the help of France, and Ireland had been bathed with blood. The homes of the O’Mores and the Regans had been burned, and the women of the families had banded together and taken a house in the village. Shan was wanted by the authorities as a suspected rebel and because of his attempt on the lives of Mary O’More and an old tinker. The tinker informed the officers of Shan’s hideout. Although most of his band escaped by ambushing the police, Shan himself was killed. For his pains, the tinker was hanged as a traitor for leading the officers into an ambush.
De Lacy arrived in Ireland and stayed in Dublin to transact some business. Rory, meanwhile, went at once to his native village, where he was reunited with his loved ones. On his first night home, however, he was arrested for the murder of Scrubbs; his enemies had testified that Scrubbs was last seen alive in Rory’s company. When De Lacy heard the news, he returned to the village and with his lawyer fought for his friend’s freedom. The case looked black until Scrubbs, who had escaped from France and returned to Ireland, appeared during the trial. Rory’s enemies had tried to keep Scrubbs hidden until after the trial and Rory’s hanging, but the collector had eluded his keepers. Although the jury returned a verdict of guilty, so determined were the rogues to be rid of Rory, a humane judge arranged to have the verdict put aside. Rory was set free.
De Lacy knew that he and Rory would never be safe in Ireland. He persuaded Rory to take his family and Kathleen and her mother and go with De Lacy to America. There De Lacy would buy a farm and make Rory his manager. When Rory and Kathleen were married, De Lacy gave the girl a handsome dowry. The party regretfully left their beloved homeland, but they knew they must do so if they wished to live in peace and safety. Mary O’More had long loved De Lacy but did not dare to show her feeling because she was a peasant and he was a gentleman. De Lacy admired the simple lass, but he feared the ridicule he would receive from his friends if he married a peasant. As he thought about the new life in America, however, he began to realize that it would make little difference there if a man and his wife were of different social classes. With Rory and Kathleen already married, De Lacy and Mary seemed likely to join them in that happy state.
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