Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/393

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353
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

evening he visited the St. Botolph Club for an hour or two. Returning to his hotel after midnight, in company with a friend, an incident occurred, slight in itself, but thoroughly characteristic of the man. As he was walking up Boylston Street, engaged in pleasant conversation with his friend, his quick eye suddenly espied an unlovely object—a woman—poor, old, dirty, and drunken—huddled in the doorway of a house. Dropping his friend's arm, he stooped down to the repulsive bundle of misery, laid his strong hand on her shoulder, raised her to her feet, with a word of kindness, arranged her tattered shawl about her, and, gently as a son might have spoken to his mother, persuaded her to go home, and sent her on her way.

It was a little thing to do, but it showed a great heart in the doer. Nine men out of ten would have passed the unfortunate with a look of pity or of scorn. Ninety-nine gentlemen out of a hundred, going home from their club, would have given not a thought to the outcast. But Boyle O'Reilly, whether he wore the dress-coat or the convict suit, never for one instant forgot his kinship with all the poor and lowly and unfortunate of earth.

On Friday and Saturday forenoon he was at his office attending to his regular duties, but showing the effects of insomnia.

The great procession of the Grand Army veterans was to pass the Pilot building on the following Tuesday. Before leaving the city for Hull on Saturday afternoon he gave instructions, with his usual thoughtful care, that the windows of the office should be reserved for the printers and other employees of the paper. In order that they might have undisturbed possession, he had engaged a window in another part of the city for himself and family. It was his intention to make the following number of the Pilot a Grand Army one. He was full of interest in the work when he left his office to take the half-past two o'clock boat for Hull that afternoon.

Next morning the city and country were startled with the awful news that John Boyle O'Reilly was dead!