Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/52

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James Stephens, the great "Head Center" of the Fenian movement. Stephens escaped from Richmond prison before he could be brought to trial. The man through whose skill and daring he was rescued from the very lion's jaws was John Breslin, of whom we shall hear again in a still more audacious, successful exploit. By a curious coincidence, John Boyle O' Reilly was one of the soldiers detailed to guard the court room on the occasion of O'Donovan Rossa's trial. The famous "dynamiter" recognized his former guard when they met, years afterward, in New York.

O'Reilly was looking out of the barrack windows at Island Bridge, in the city of Dublin, on the afternoon of February 12, 1866, when he saw one of his fellow-conspirators arrested and led to the guard-house. "My turn will come next," he said quietly. His prediction was verified; he was arrested within forty-eight hours. As he traversed the barrack-yard, in charge of a detective, his colonel met him, and shaking his fist in the prisoner's face, exclaimed, "Damn you, O'Reilly! you have ruined the finest regiment in the service." There was perhaps as much of regret as of anger in the imprecation; for Valentine Baker liked the bright and handsome young Hussar, whom he had once saved from an ignominious punishment, and the feeling was reciprocated. Years afterwards, when their situations were reversed, and O'Reilly, prosperous and honored, read of the shame that had come upon his old commander, he was moved by genuine sorrow and sympathy for the fallen soldier.

While he lay in Arbor Hill military prison, closely guarded, as was each of the accused, pressure was brought to bear upon him to inform against his comrades. He was assured that others had secured immunity for themselves by making a clean breast of their connection with the conspiracy. Certain weak men to whom a similar assurance had been given had, indeed, been duped into becoming informers. Isolation, silence, the grim uncertainty that hung over all, and especially the seed of suspicion so carefully sown, that he