The magistrate nodded, and Lamh Laudher immediately took his leave. In a short time the intelligence spread. From the sovereign it passed to his clerk, from the clerk to the other members of the corporation, and, ere an hour, the town was in a blaze with the intelligence. "Did you hear what's reported?" was the general question. Lamh Laudher Oge has challenged the Dead Boxer!
Both passed down the street in a northern direction, and Lamh Laudher, apprehensive that they were on no good errand, took off his shoes, lest his footsteps might be heard, and dogged them as they went along. They spoke little, and that in whispers, until they had got clear of the town, when, feeling less restraint, the following dialogue occurred to them:
You know," he added, smiling, "there's something in a Lamh Laudher's blow, as well as in the Dead Boxer's. Isn't it said, that a Lamh Laudher needn't strike two blows, when he sends his strength with one." He stretched out his powerful arm, as he spoke, with a degree of pride, not unbecoming his youth, spirit, and amazing strength and activity.
She declared that she felt the same mysterious attachment to them, and to her brother also, from the moment she heard the tones of his voice on the night the robbery was attempted. "Nor could I," said Lamh Laudher Oge, "account for the manner I loved you." Their attention was now directed to Nell, who again spoke. "Nanse, give her back the money I robbed her of.
He started, on observing the wild lustre of her eye, and the woebegone paleness of her cheek. "Ellen," said he, "how is this? Has any thing frightened you? Merciful mother! aunt, look at her!" The distracted girl sank before him on her knees, locked her hands together, and while her eyes sparkled with an unsettled light, exclaimed "John! John! Lamh Laudher Oge forgive me, before you die!
Lamh Laudher, after having heard it, raised his arm rapidly, and his eye gleamed with something like the exultation of a man who has discovered a secret that he had been intensely anxious to learn. Ellen could now delay no longer, and their separation resembled that of persons who never expected to meet again.
"Dhar mo lamh, Yellow Brian your head to our gates!" Brian thrust unexpectedly, and the man went over his horse's tail as the ring closed in. So far Cathbarr had forgotten his pistols, but now he used them, and took a bullet-crease across his neck in return; then the ax and sword heaved up together, and the ring surged back.
Several opinions were advanced upon the circumstance, but as it had failed, his triumph over the Dead Boxer, as unexpected as it was complete, soon superseded it, and many a health was given "to the best man that ever sprung from the blood of the Lamh Laudhers!" for so they termed him, and well had he earned the epithet.
Nothing now could exceed the sympathy which was felt for young Lamh Laudher, yet except among his immediate friends, there was little exertion made to prevent him from accelerating his own fate. So true is it that public feeling scruples not to gratify its appetite for excitement, even at the risk or actual cost of human life. His parents and relations mourned him as if he had been already dead.
The appearance of the Dead Boxer's wife in the house where Lamh Laudher resided, confirmed, in its worst sense, that which Nell M'Collum had suggested to him. It is unnecessary to describe the desolating sweep of passion which a man, who, like him, was the slave of strong resentments, must have suffered.