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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 93

Lawlessness Breaks Out

At last, even in the Isle of Saints, the bonds of right and wrong were loosened, all respect for property vanished in the universal desolation, and men began to rob and plunder, to trust only to the right of might, thinking that their poor miserable lives were of more value than aught else, than conscience and pity and honesty. Thus Cathleen lost by barefaced robbery much of what she still possessed of flocks and herds, of scanty fruit and corn. Her servants would gladly have pursued the robbers and regained the spoils, but Cathleen forbade it, for she pitied the miserable thieves, and thought no evil of them in this bitter dearth. By this time she had distributed all her winter stores, and had only enough to feed her poor pensioners and her household with most scanty rations; and she herself shared equally with them, for the most earnest entreaties of her faithful servants could not induce her to fare better than they in anything. Soon there would be nothing left for daily distribution, and her heart almost broke as she saw the misery of her helpless dependents; they looked to her as an angel of pity and deliverance, while she knew herself to be as helpless as they. Day by day Cathleen went among them, with her pitifully scanty doles of


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