(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

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...

(The entire section is 1232 words.)