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few old castles that for many generations had belonged to the same family-a very rare event, as nearly all the landed estates in Ireland had been bestowed by Henry VIII. and Elizabeth upon their several favourites, with the exception of a few in the western part of that country.

This wildly-grand sea-bound coast is fringed with dark lofty cliffs soaring to the clouds, upon whose summits many wild birds have perched their eyries in proud defiance of man's inability to molest them, and where their free cry mingles itself with the ocean's roar that alone can subdue it. Far and wide in the background are scattered innumerable bogs, favouring the growth of various beautiful and extraordinary plants, which, being watered by the rains of a hundred and sixty days in the year, help to give them that rare verdancy so peculiar to the vegetation of the Emerald Isle, and which is seldom to be met with but in the precious stone itself.

But here, at least for the present, we cease our observations of nature and locality, and enter at once upon the history before us.

The head of the family, “The O'Neile," as he was designated, was a fine old man, with a smooth florid complexion, while his long silver hair flowing back from his forehead tended to enhance the patriarchal air of dignity and benevolence which characterised his general appearance. He was a widower, having lost his wife nearly eight years before the commencement of this tale.

Her death was sudden and unexpected. Report said that she had been passionately beloved by him; but for some reason, which he would not even hint at, he never spoke of her, nor allowed her children to do so.

His family consisted of four children, but his eldestborn, Pierce O'Neile, who had once been the pride and idol of his heart, was now an outcast and a wanderer far from the land of his birth.

It was supposed by the many, not acquainted with the exact particulars of his disgrace, that in a moment of temptation and evil counsel, he was led to perpetrate an act, that under other circumstances he would have been ashamed to commit; and, bearing with him the upbraidings and reproaches of his family, he was obliged to fly the country till time and absence might soften their ill-feeling against him, and in consideration of his youth and inexperience be induced to judge him more leniently.

His father cut him off from the inheritance, such as it was, and settled it upon his younger brother Otway, who was a dark, manly boy of eight years of age, and now the only hope of the fallen family; for through him they looked forward to the regenerating of the once proud name, and a renewal of their former grandeur. He was also the adopted heir of an eccentric old bachelor distantly connected with the O'Neiles, who was anxious to leave a representative of his own name. In the event of the boy's death the inheritance was to descend to a cousin, an Englishman, named Lionel Herbert, whom the O'Neile had often seen when he, Lionel, was a child, in London, being himself at that time but just married, and on his wedding tour.

Mary, the eldest daughter of the O'Neile, and her father's favourite, a delicate girl of about twenty-one years of age, was the peace-maker in the family, and one who would not have injured or harboured an illfeeling or prejudice against the most suspicious or guilty character. Hers was a gentle, equal nature, lovely in its devotion, generous and self-sacrificing. There was no guilt--no thought of wrong in her heart, for she believed all to be like herself, and so lived on from day to day contented in her calm innocent views of things and mankind in general. She had a truly religious mind, that drew its inspiration more from the glories of God's works, than from merely following conventional forms of worship. She was steadfast and happy in her creed, and in this spirit strictly attended to her duties. The youngest daughter, Geraldine, a singularly beautiful girl, scarcely seventeen, was tall and graceful, possessing those undulating movements which bore a strange affinity to those of a serpent, for she would glide round and be near you, when you least expected her presence.

She had those classical features seen in the type of the Irish aristocracy-her large dark blue eyes glanced from beneath a fringe of long silken lashes, arched from above by pencilled brows, some shades darker than the pale auburn hair, worn floating carelessly around the swan-like throat. The extreme delicacy of her complexion was somewhat heightened and rendered more piquant, by the few freckles that were discernible upon the oval face. She was indeed a picture of youthful loveliness and freshness, attracting all who gazed upon her for the first time with ineffable fascination. However, a disciple of Lavater, if asked his opinion, after strictly scrutinising her countenance, while admitting it to possess a great degree of beauty, would undoubtedly have observed a disagreeable peculiarity in the shape and size of those lovely eyes, so strikingly similar to those of more than one remarkable and world-wide renowned woman of past days.

Geraldine, though an angel in appearance, was not deficient of the caprices and failings to which flesh is heir-nay more, she had a passion for tormenting and torturing animals and insects of all kinds whose helplessness rendered them innocuous and incapable of resisting her cruel vagaries; yet she was desirous that her actions and general bearing in the sight of others should harmonise with her beauty. But there were times when all her assumptions of gentleness and humility were laid aside, and that was when there was no one near but the timid Mary, whom she would torment and accuse of hypocrisy. Even her little brother Otway, - whom she really loved, more perhaps because she beheld in him the last of the O'Neiles, and the one whose future greatness was to spread its refulgence over herself, - she often found means to teaze and irritate. The boy, however, liked Geraldine better than his eldest sister, and it was her good-will and approval that he invariably sought.

Now there was one, her cousin Catherine, to whom Geraldine never showed her true character, between herself and whom existed an unaccountable antipathy, which did not manifest itself in any outward demonstration of either word or manner, for they were (particularly Geraldine) exactingly polite and condescending in? the different relations and routine of every-day life. They were seldom or ever seen together,-an unusual thing with young girls of a similar age and belonging to the same household,-so totally opposed were their tastes, pursuits and ideas; yet this cousin was the only one with whom Geraldine never quarrelled, or to whom she never rendered herself obnoxious, at least in her presence.

This Catherine was the only child of O'Neile's youngest brother, who died many years before, leaving his little girl to the care of her uncle in the event of her mother's death, which followed shortly after that of her father.

The O'Neile took her to his home and heart, for he learned to love Catherine as if she had been his own daughter. She was two years older than Geraldine, and in appearance had little to recommend her beyond her large brilliant dark eyes, and soft magnificent black hair. She was of a pale sallow complexion, and her features in general were ordinary, except when she smiled, and that was but rarely, yet when she did, it changed the whole expression of the countenance, lighting it up, and giving it a warmth and radiance that was almost magical in its effect. Her natural disposition was energetic and active, but there were times when she was subject to most unaccountable fits of depression; and then she would fly from every one, and remain hours alone in a listless attitude, as if holding

communication with wandering and invisible spirits, from which ordinary or chance interruptions could with difficulty arouse her.

We shall only further remark, for the elucidation of some circumstances in the story, that she was born as the neighbouring clocks of the town were striking midnight, and upon the eve of Saint Agnes, when the belief that exists in Ireland is, that all good and bad spirits are then about, and preside at the birth of mortals born on that night.

The foster-mother of Catherine, who was present at her birth, with the superstition which is inherent in the Irish character, declared, as she took the child for the first time in her arms, that, contrary to all precedent and laws of nature, it opened wide its great dark eyes, and looked at her for a moment as if in recognition, afterwards resuming the usual vacant look peculiar to new-born infants. This circumstance led the foster-mother to infer that the child was already endowed with supernatural power, and that its destiny was already fixed.

However, up to the moment our story commences, nothing worthy of note had taken place to verify the nurse's belief of that night.

Catherine's mind was deeply tinctured with wild romance and legendary lore, which did not fail to act upon her enthusiastic nature. She fancied that some mysterious circumstance was attached to every spot of earth, stone, and ruin, and a foreshadowing of something in them, which had taken deeper root from the wildly grand and picturesque scenery associated with her earliest recollections; everything around her was greatly heightened, and rendered doubly attractive, by the strange and touching imagery with which her nurse used to beguile the hours of childish fancy during the long winter evenings, thereby exciting her love of the marvellous and the supernatural. She had an ardent, fervent love and admiration for her native place, and

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