Meanwhile the hue and cry was up in Ireland. The house where Emmet had been staying was ransacked. Anne Devlin was put to the examination at the bayonet's point. When she declared she knew nothing of the young man who had been lodging there, the soldiers improvised a gallows, dragged her out to it, put the rope round her neck, and asked her: " Now, will you tell?" She answered: "You can murder me, but I sha'n't tell ! "
They actually hoisted her into the air, and then lowered her again, by way of frighten-ing her but she maintained her silence, not only then, but before the authorities She was bribed with £500, bribed even higher by the fact that her mother, father, and brother were flung into gaol until she should speak. None of these things having any effect, she was thrown into Kilmainham Gaol, and there every artifice and trick were employed to trap her into betraying some knowledge of Emmet's whereabouts, or his plans both before and since the insurrection. A Fatal Mistake
She was even confronted with him suddenly, when he had been apprehended, while she thought he was still at large, but this young, uneducated peasant girl was equal to anything in the cause she had at heart. She merely glanced at him and walked by. This girl, who afterwards married, and lived to a good age, is not the meanest figure in the story. She had risked many things by carrying letters from Emmet to Miss Curran, and of Sarah she has left us a vivid description: " You could not see her and not help liking her, and yet she was not handsome. She was more than handsome. Her look was the mildest, the softest, and the sweetest look you ever saw. Whenever I handed her a letter from Mr. Emmet, her face would change so one would hardly know her."
Emmet had not won this girl's heart easily. Twice he had proposed and been rejected, and the third time was not really a proposal. It was after the explosion in Patrick Street, when for a time he thought his plans had miscarried hopelessly, and that he must leave the country. In bidding her farewell, he suddenly perceived the change that had taken place in her feelings, and that change was now to be unalterable.
Now she was his for ever, and on his arrest his thoughts turned to her at once. Taken by surprise, Emmet entrusted to a man he thought worthy of confidence a letter to Miss Curran. The letter was calmly handed to the authorities.
When Emmet heard that he, by his rash act, had implicated Miss Curran in his treason, which was a capital crime, he was half mad with remorse. Apart from the fact that the Government might even condemn her to death if his letters to her were discovered, there was Mr. Curran's wrath to think of, when he found that his good name and honour had been impaired - specially awkward for a man who had been a rebel in his youth - and that his daughter was deeply in love with a proved " traitor " like Emmet.
Robert, alone in prison, with all this upon his mind, the certainty of death before him, and the agony of everlasting separation from Sarah, cast about for some way of averting the consequences of his rash letter. Except for that, he knew that she would never have been implicated at all. But a man in prison is a helpless creature. He has no friends; he is cut off from all help and encouragement; and discovers for the first time that all his talents and his warm emotions, his physical strength and the ingenuity of his brain, go for nothing when his body is merely surrounded by four strong walls.
In the midst of this agony, an idea suddenly struck him. He knew that the Government was very anxious that his trial should take place as quietly as possible. They had every reason to dread the effect of Emmet's wonderful oratory on the impressionable Irish. Emmet knew this. It was the one thing left to him in prison, and he offered to plead guilty at his trial and to remain absolutely silent if the fact of his letters to Miss Curran was suppressed, and her name not mentioned at all. This request, however, was denied, and nothing \ remained for the ill-fated young man but to await with what patience he might for the day of his trial.
Meanwhile at the Priory there was the acutest distress. The first knowledge that Sarah had that her belief in Emmet's security was false was when a party of soldiers rushed into her bedroom, and began to search it for letters. She demanded an explanation, and was told bluntly that Emmet had been apprehended, and was now lying in Kilmainham Gaol. It would be impossible to portray what Sarah Curran must have felt. But for her refusal to leave, Emmet would now have been safely on the high seas, she with him, and a new life of hope and promise before them. Now he lay awaiting death, and before her eyes the soldiers discovered letter after letter which must incriminate him hopelessly.
Sarah Curran was not a strong woman. Besides, she was very young, of a very gentle nature, not built for horror. She had but recently wakened from her morning sleep, a happy girl. Now she lay back upon her pillows with the light of reason gone from her lovely eyes.
For many months her mind was completely darkened. She did not know of Emmet's trial and execution ; she did not know of her father's unrelenting anger. She lay there, tended by her sisters, the one happy, because the one unconscious, person of all those connected with this tragic drama.
When she recovered her senses, it was only gradually that she could be told of all that had happened. But the full truth concerning her lover's trial she never learned - his wonderful defence, that noble speech which moved even the judges to tears. Nor did she knew of the letters which he wrote on the morning of his execution to her father, her brother, and his own brother in America. And they were splendid letters, too, telling in detail the story of his blameless, tragic love. Surely no man has ever proved more truly his devotion.