Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/44

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the Crown within the ranks of the army, or defied its power in open futile insurrection, the rebel's life was equally forfeit. The government puts no premium upon open hostility; it sets no special ban upon secret conspiracy. George Washington would have been hanged as ruthlessly as Robert Emmet had his scheme of treason failed.

As the event proved, the boldness of the conspirators was their salvation. The government, terrified at the extent to which disloyalty had pervaded the ranks, dared not be very severe in administering punishment. Rebellious Sepoys might be blown from the cannon's mouth, but there were too many Irishmen in the army to make such a measure wise in dealing with Fenians.

Young O'Reilly was not the man to weigh all these scruples or chances. Like Nathan Hale and Major André, he risked his life, but not his honor, when he entered the enemy's lines. He would have accepted their fate without a murmur, as the fortune of war, but when he joined the Tenth Hussars for the express purpose of recruiting the ranks of republicanism, he was animated by no motive more complex than that described by himself in after years: "They said to us: 'Come on, boys, it is for Ireland,'—and we came."

Never did dark conspirator bear lighter heart than did this brilliant boy when he donned the handsome uniform of the Tenth. Valentine Baker was its colonel, then a brave, dashing, petted soldier; later a just victim of British propriety, and, later yet, the denationalized servant of the unspeakable Turk. "O'Reilly was a good soldier," testified Baker at the trial of the rebellious Hussar. More than once he had received petty promotion, which he always took care to have canceled by some breach of discipline, for he did not wish to owe over-much to the service.

The life of the trooper had many charms for him. He loved its splendid glamour, being a soldier by inheritance and instinct. He rejoiced in martial pastimes, and he was young and comely enough to take a pleasure in the gay trappings of a cavalryman. It delighted him, as he afterward confessed, to go out of his way, when sent on a mes-