Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/81

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47
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

for leniency in behalf of the youthful prisoner. The first step in execution of the sentence was taken on Monday afternoon, September 3, in the Royal Square, Royal Barracks, in the presence of the Fifth Dragoon Guards, Second Battalion, Third Regiment, Seventy-fifth Regiment, Ninety-second Highlanders, and Eighty-fifth Light Infantry. The prisoner was then and there made listen to the reading of his sentence, stripped of his military uniform, clothed in the convict's dress, and escorted to Mountjoy prison.

Before dismissing the story of his trial, I may here relate a curious sequel, which occurred some six or seven years later in the city of Boston. O'Reilly had many strange visitors in his newspaper office, but perhaps the strangest of all was one of the two informers before mentioned. This fellow, after O'Reilly's conviction, found himself so despised and shunned by his fellow-soldiers, both English and Irish, that his life became unendurable. He deserted the army and fled to America, where the story of his treachery had preceded him. He was starving in the streets of Boston when he met his former victim, and threw himself upon his mercy. Almost any other man would have enjoyed the spectacle of the traitor's misery. O'Reilly saw only the pity of it all, and gave the wretch enough money to supply his immediate wants, and pay his way to some more propitious spot.