Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/273

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233
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

sified this year by the fact that the Irish-Americans had so generally supported Governor Butler. There were two or three conspicuous instances in which O'Reilly's direct interference prevented the perpetration of rank injustice. One of these was the case of a child, daughter of a poor Irish woman, whom a rich business man attempted to steal from her mother under the legal fiction of "adoption." A society, which should have protected the mother in her rights, used its influence to aid the wrong. The law itself was invoked and misused. As a last resort, some friends of the mother laid the case before the editor of the Pilot, who investigated the matter personally, and compelled the charitable society and the rich man whose claim it had supported, to recede from their iniquitous attempt, and restore the child to its mother. There were other cases, many of them, which cannot be rehearsed without inflicting needless punishment upon those who had perpetrated the acts of intolerance, only to repent when called to account before the informal court of justice which was held in the Pilot editorial room.

O'Reilly made his first extended canoe cruise in July of this year. During the previous summer he had made a short trip down the Merrimac River, from Lawrence to Newburyport, Mass., thence through Plum Island and Anisquam rivers to Gloucester. Previous to that his boating had all been done in an outrigger on the Charles River. The canoe, unquestionably the most delightful of all pleasure craft, won his instant admiration. With his friend Dr. Guiteras, he started for the headwaters of the Connecticut River, on the 15th of July, 1883. They had made their preparations for a long and enjoyable voyage down to the mouth of the river; but they had not reckoned on the timber rafts, whose peculiarities he humorously describes in the account of his trip incorporated in his book of Athletics. The day after his departure from Boston, I received the following laconic telegram:

Spilled. Send two double paddles to Holyoke, first express. Don't mention.