by the tread of foot-passengers. Under all these circumstances, then, our readers need not feel surprised that, owing at once to the impenetrable obscurity around them, and the noiseless nature of the antique and grass-covered pavement over which they went, scarcely a distance of two hundred yards had been gained when they found, to their dismay,' that they had lost their path, and were in one of the wild and heathy stretches of unbounded moor by which they were surrounded.
"We have lost our way, Andy," observed his master. "We've got off that damned old path; what's to be done? where are you?"
"I'm here, sir," replied his man; "but as for what's to be done, it would take Mayo Mullen, that sees the fairies and tells fortunes, to tell us that. For heaven's sake, stay where you are, sir, till I get up to you, for if we part from one another, we're both lost. Where are you, sir?"
"Curse you, sirra," replied his master angrily, "is this either a time or place to jest in? A man that would make a jest in such a situation as this would dance on his father's tombstone."
"By my soul, sir, and I'd give a five-pound note, if I had it, that you and I were dancing 'Jig Polthogue' on it this minute. But, in the mane time, the devil a one o' me sees the joke your honor speaks of."
"Why, then, do you ask me where I am, when you know I'm astray, that we're both astray, you snivelling old whelp? By the great and good King William, I'll be lost, Andy!"
"Well, and even if you are, sir," replied Andy, who, guided by his voice, had now approached and joined him; "even if you are, sir, I trust you'll bear it like a Christian and a Trojan."
"Get out, you old sniveller—what do you mean by a Trojan?"
"A Trojan, sir, I was tould, is a man that lives by sellin' wild-fowl. They take an oath, sir, before they begin the trade, never to die until they can't help it."
"You mean to say, or to hint at least, that in addition to our other dangers we run the risk of coming in contact with poachers?"
"Well, then, sir, if I don't mistake they're out to-night. However, don't let us alarm one another. God forbid that I'd say a single word to frighten you; but still, you know yourself that there's many a man not a hundred miles from us that 'ud be glad to mistake you for a target, a mallard, or any other wild-fowl or that description."
"In the meantime we are both well armed," replied his master; "but what I fear most is the risk we run of falling down precipices, or walking into lakes or quagmires. What's to be done? This fog is so cursedly cold that it has chilled my very blood into ice."
"Our best plan, sir, is to dismount, and keep ourselves warm by taking a pleasant stroll across the country. The horses will take care of themselves. In the meantime keep up your spirits—we'll both want something to console us; but this I can tell you, that devil a bit of tombstone ever will go over either of us, barrin' the sky in heaven; and for our coffins, let us pray to the coffin-maker, bekaise, you see, it's the maddhu ruah * (the foxes), and ravens, and other civilized animals that will coffin us both by instalments in their hungry guts, until our bones will be beautiful to look at—afther about six months' bleaching—and a sharp eye 'twould be that 'ud know the difference between masther and man then, I think."
We omitted to say that a piercing and most severe hoar frost had set in with the fog, and that Cummiskey's master felt the immediate necessity of dismounting, and walking about, in order to preserve some degree of animal heat in his body.
"I cannot bear this, Andy," said he, "and these two gallant animals will never recover it after the severe day's hunting they've had. Poor Fiddler and Piper," he exclaimed, "this has proved a melancholy day to you both. What is to be done, Andy? I am scarcely able to stand, and feel as if my strength had utterly left me."
"What, sir," replied his servant, who was certainly deeply attached to his master, "is it so bad with you as all that comes to? Sure I only thought to amuse you, sir. Come, take courage; I'll whistle, and maybe somebody will come to our relief."
He accordingly put his two fingers into his mouth, and uttered a loud and piercing whistle, after which both stood still for a time, but no reply was given.
"Stop, sir," proceeded Andrew; "I'll give them another touch that'll make them spake, if there's any one near enough to hear us."
He once more repeated the whistle, but with two or three peculiar shakes or variations, when almost instantly one of a similar character was given in reply.
"Thank God," he exclaimed, "be they friends or foes, we have human creatures not far from us. Take courage, sir. How do you feel?"
"Frozen and chilled almost to death," replied his master; "I'll give fifty pounds to any man or party of men that will conduct us safely home."
"I hope in the Almighty," said Andrew to himself in an anxious and apprehensive tone of voice, "that it's not Parrah Ruah (Red Patrick), the red Rapparee, that's in it, and I'm afeered it is, for I think I know his whistle. There's not a man in the three baronies could give such a whistle as that, barring himself. If it is, the masther's a gone man, and I'll not be left behind to tell the story, God protect us!
"What are you saying, Andy?" asked his master: "What were you muttering just now?"
"Nothing, sir, nothing; but there can be no harm, at all events, to look to our pistols. If there should be danger, let us sell our lives like men."
"And so we will, Andy. The country I know is in a disturbed and lawless state, and ever since that unfortunate affair of the priest, I know I am not popular with a great many. I hope we won't come across his Rapparee nephew."
"Whether we do or not, sir, let us look to our firearms. Show me yours till I settle the powdher in them. Why, God bless me, how you are tremblin'."
"It is not from fear, sir," replied the intrepid old man, "but from cold. If any thing should happen me, Andy, let my daughter know that my will is in the oaken cabinet; that is to say, the last I made. She is my heiress—but that she is by the laws of the land. However, as I had disposed of some personal property to other persons, which disposition I have revoked in the will I speak of—my last, as I said—I wish you to let her know where she may find it. Her mother's jewels are also in the same place—but they, too, are hers by right of law—her mother bequeathed them to her."
"All! sir, you are right to remember and think well of that daughter. She has been a guardian angel to you these five years. But why, sir, do you give me this message? Do you think I won't sell my life in defence of yours? If you do you're mistaken."
"I believe it, Andrew; I believe it, Andy," said he again, familiarizing the word; "but if this red Rapparee should murder me, I don't, wish you to sacrifice your life on my account. Make your escape if he should be the person who is approaching us, and convey to my daughter the message I have given you."
At this moment another whistle proceeded from a quarter of the moor much nearer them, and Andy, having handed back the pistols to his master, asked him should he return it.
"Certainly," replied the other, who during all this time was pacing to and fro, in order to keep himself from sinking; "certainly, let us see whether these persons are friends or enemies."
His servant then replied to the whistle, and in a few minutes it was answered again, whilst at the same time a strong but bitter wind arose which cleared away the mist, and showed them with considerable distinctness the position which they occupied.
Within about ten yards of them, to the left, the very direction in which they had been proceeding, was a small deep lake' or tarn, utterly shoreless, and into which they unquestionably would have walked and perished, as neither of them knew how to swim. The clearing away of the mist, and the light of the stars (for