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Handy Andy, Volume One - A Tale of Irish Life, in Two Volumes
by Samuel Lover
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This possessed a sort of fascination for poor Andy; for at last, relinquishing all others, he stood riveted before it, and muttered to himself, "I wondher can they hang me—sure it's no murdher I done—but who knows what witnesses they might get? and these times they sware mighty hard; and Squire O'Grady has such a pack o' blackguards about him, sure he could get anything swore he liked. Oh, wirra! wirra! what'll I do at all! Faix! I wouldn't like to be hanged—oh! look at him there—just the last kick in him—and a disgrace to my poor mother into the bargain. Augh!—but it's a dirty death to die—to be hung up like a dog over a gate, or an old hat on a peg, just that-away;" and he extended his arm as he spoke, suspending his caubeen, while he looked with disgust at the effigy. "But sure they can't hang me—though now I remember Squire Egan towld me long ago I'd be hanged some day or other. I wondher does my mother know I'm tuk away—and Oonah, too, the craythur, would be sorry for me. Maybe, if my mother spoke to Squire Egan, his honour would say a good word for me:—though that wouldn't do; for him and Squire O'Grady's bitther inimies now, though they wor once good friends. Och hone! sure that's the way o' the world; and a cruel world it is—so it is. Sure 't would be well to be out of it a'most, and in a betther world. I hope there's no po'chaises in heaven!"

The soliloquy of poor Andy was interrupted by a low, measured sound of thumping, which his accustomed ear at once distinguished to be the result of churning; the room in which he was confined being one of a range of offices stretching backward from the principal building and next door to the dairy. Andy had grown tired by this time of his repeated contemplation of the rhymes and sketches, his own thoughts thereon, and his long confinement; and now the monotonous sound of the churn-dash falling on his ear, acted as a sort of busho,[6] and the worried and wearied Andy at last laid down on the platform and fell asleep to the bumping lullaby.

[6] A soft, monotonous chant the nurses sing to children to induce sleep.



CHAPTER XIII

The sportsmen, having returned from their fishing excursion to dinner, were seated round the hospitable board of Squire Egan; Murphy and Dick in high glee, at still successfully hoodwinking Furlong, and carrying on their mystification with infinite frolic.

The soup had been removed, and they were in the act of enjoying the salmon, which had already given so much enjoyment, when a loud knocking at the door announced the arrival of some fresh guest.

"Did you ask any one to dinner, my dear?" inquired Mrs. Egan of her good-humoured lord, who was the very man to invite any friend he met in the course of the day, and forget it after.

"No, my dear," answered the Squire. "Did you, Dick?" said he.

Dick replied in the negative, and said he had better go and see who it was; for looks of alarm had been exchanged between him, the Squire, and Murphy, lest any stranger should enter without being apprised of the hoax going forward; and Dawson had just reached the dining-room door on his cautionary mission, when it was suddenly thrown wide open, and in walked, with a rapid step and bustling air, an active little gentleman dressed in black, who was at Mrs. Egan's side in a moment, exclaiming with a very audible voice and much empressement of manner—

"My dear Mrs. Egan, how do you do? I am delighted to see you. Took a friend's privilege, you see, and have come unbidden to claim the hospitality of your table. The fact is, I was making a sick visit to this side of my parish; and finding it impossible to get home in time to my own dinner, I had no scruple in laying yours under contribution."

Now this was the Protestant clergyman of the parish, whose political views were in opposition to those of Mr. Egan; but the good hearts of both men prevented political feeling from interfering, as in Ireland it too often does, with the social intercourse of life. Still, however, if Dick Dawson had got out of the room in time, this was not the man to assist them in covering their hoax on Furlong, and the scene became excessively ludicrous the moment the reverend gentleman made his appearance. Dick, the Squire, and Murphy, opened their eyes at each other, while Mrs. Egan grew as red as scarlet when Furlong stared at her in astonishment as the newcomer mentioned her name. She stammered out welcome as well as she could, and called for a chair for Mr. Bermingham, with all sorts of kind inquiries for Mrs. Bermingham and the little Berminghams—for the Bermingham manufactory in that line was extensive.

While the reverend gentleman was taking his seat, spreading his napkin and addressing a word to each round the table, Furlong turned to Fanny Dawson, beside whom he was sitting (and who, by-the-bye, could not resist a fit of laughter on the occasion), and said with a bewildered look—

"Did he not addwess Madame as Mistwess Egan?"

"Yeth," said Fanny, with admirable readiness; "but whithper." And as Furlong inclined his head towards her, she whispered in his ear, "You muthn't mind him—he's mad, poor man!—that is, a little inthane—and thinks every lady is Mrs. Egan. An unhappy pathion, poor fellow!—but quite harmleth."

Furlong uttered a very prolonged "Oh!" at Fanny's answer to his inquiry, and looked sharply round the table, for there was an indefinable something in the conduct of every one at the moment of Mr. Bermingham's entrance that attracted his attention, and the name "Egan," and everybody's fidgetiness (which is the only word I can apply), roused his suspicion. Fanny's answer only half satisfied him; and looking at Mrs. Egan, who could not conquer her confusion, he remarked "How vewy wed Mistwess O'Gwady gwew!"

"Oh! thee can't help bluthing, poor soul! when he thays 'Egan' to her, and thinks her his furth love."

"How vewy widiculous to be sure," said Furlong.

"Haven't you innothent mad people thumtimes in England?" said Fanny.

"Oh vewy" said Furlong, "but this appea's to me so wema'kably stwange an abbewation."

"Oh," returned Fanny, with quickness, "I thuppose people go mad on their ruling pathion, and the ruling pathion of the Irish, you know, is love."

The conversation all this time was going on in other quarters, and Furlong heard Mr. Bermingham talking of his having preached last Sunday in his new church.

"Suwely," said he to Fanny, "they would not pe'mit an insane gle'gyman to pweach?"

"Oh," said Fanny, almost suffocating with laughter, "he only thinkth he's a clergyman."

"How vewy dwoll you are!" said Furlong.

"Now you're only quithing me," said Fanny, looking with affected innocence in the face of the unfortunate young gentleman she had been quizzing most unmercifully the whole day.

"Oh, Miste' O'Gwady," said Furlong, "we saw them going to dwown a man to-day."

"Indeed!" said the Squire, reddening, as he saw Mr. Bermingham stare at his being called O'Grady; so, to cover the blot, and stop Furlong, he asked him to take wine.

"Do they often dwown people here?" continued Furlong, after he had bowed.

"Not that I know of," said the Squire.

"But are not the lowe' o'ders wather given to what Lo'd Bacon calls——"

"Who cares about Lord Bacon?" said Murphy.

"My dear sir, you supwise me!" said Furlong, in utter amazement. "Lord Bacon's sayings——"

"'Pon my conscience," said Murphy, "both himself and his sayings are very rusty by this time."

"Oh, I see, Miste' Muffy. You neve' will be sewious."

"Heaven forbid!" said Murphy—"at least at dinner, or after dinner. Seriousness is only a morning amusement—it makes a very poor figure in the evening."

"By-the-bye," said Mr. Bermingham, "talking of drowning, I heard a very odd story to-day from O'Grady. You and he, I believe," said the clergyman, addressing Egan, "are not on as good terms as you were."

At this speech Furlong did rather open his eyes, the Squire hummed and hawed, Murphy coughed, Mrs. Egan looked into her plate, and Dick, making a desperate rush to the rescue, asked Furlong which he preferred, a single or a double barrelled gun.

Mr. Bermingham, perceiving the sensation his question created, thought he had touched upon forbidden ground, and therefore did not repeat his question, and Fanny whispered Furlong that one of the stranger's mad peculiarities was mistaking one person for another; but all this did not satisfy Furlong, whose misgivings as to the real name of his host were growing stronger every moment. At last, Mr. Bermingham, without alluding to the broken friendship between Egan and O'Grady, returned to the "odd story" he had heard that morning about drowning.

"'T is a strange affair," said he, "and our side of the country is all alive about it. A gentleman who was expected from Dublin last night at Neck-or-Nothing Hall, arrived, as it is ascertained, at the village, and thence took a post-chaise, since which time he has not been heard of; and as a post-chaise was discovered this morning sunk in the river, close by Ballysloughgutthery bridge, it is suspected the gentleman has been drowned either by accident or design. The postilion is in confinement on suspicion, and O'Grady has written to the Castle about it to-day, for the gentleman was a government agent."

"Why, sir," said Furlong, "that must be me!"

"You, sir!" said Mr. Bermingham, whose turn it was to be surprised now.

"Yes, sir," said Furlong, "I took a post-chaise at the village last night, and I'm an agent of the gove'ment."

"But you're not drowned, sir—and he was," said Bermingham.

"To be su'e I'm not dwowned; but I'm the pe'son."

"Quite impossible, sir," said Mr. Bermingham. "You can't be the person."

"Why, sir, do you expect to pe'suade me out of my own identity!"

"Oh," said Murphy, "there will be no occasion to prove identity till the body is found, and the coroner's inquest sits; that's the law, sir—at least, in Ireland."

Furlong's bewildered look at the unblushing impudence of Murphy was worth anything. While he was dumb from astonishment, Mr. Bermingham, with marked politeness, said, "Allow me, sir, for a moment to explain to you. You see, it could not be you, for the gentleman was going to Mr. O'Grady's."

"Well, sir," said Furlong, "and here I am."

The wide stare of the two men as they looked at each other was killing; and while Furlong's face was turned towards Mr. Bermingham, Fanny caught the clergy-man's eye, tapped her forehead with the fore-finger of her right hand, shook her head, and turned up her eyes with an expression of pity, to indicate that Furlong was not quite right in his mind.

"Oh, I beg pardon, sir," said Mr. Bermingham. "I see it's a mistake of mine."

"There certainly is a vewy gweat mistake somewhere," said Furlong, who was now bent on a very direct question. "Pway, Miste' O'Gwady," said he, addressing Egan, "that is, if you are Miste' O'Gwady, will you tell me, are you Miste' O'Gwady?"

"Sir," said the Squire, "you have chosen to call me O'Grady ever since you came here, but my name is Egan."

"What!—the member for the county?" cried Furlong, horrified.

"Yes," said the Squire, laughing; "do you want a frank?"

"'T will save your friends postage," said Dick, "when you write to them to say you're safe."

"Miste' Wegan," said Furlong, with an attempt at offended dignity, "I conside' myself vewy ill used."

"You're the first man I ever heard of being ill used at Merryvale House," said Murphy.

"Sir, it's a gwievous w'ong!"

"What is all this about?" asked Mr. Bermingham.

"My dear friend," said the Squire, laughing—though, indeed, that was not peculiar to him, for every one round the table, save the victim, was doing the same thing (as for Fanny, she shouted),—"My dear friend, this gentleman came to my house last night, and I took him for a friend of Moriarty's, whom I have been expecting for some days. He thought, it appears, this was Neck-or-Nothing Hall, and thus a mutual mistake has arisen. All I can say is, that you are most welcome, Mr. Furlong, to the hospitality of this house as long as you please."

"But, sir, you should not have allowed me to wemain in you' house," said Furlong.

"That's a doctrine," said the Squire, "in which you will find it difficult to make an Irish host coincide."

"But you must have known, sir, that it was not my intention to come to your house."

"How could I know that, sir?" said the Squire, jocularly.

"Why, Miste' Wegan—you know—that is—in fact—confound it, sir!" said Furlong, at last, losing his temper, "you know I told you all about our electioneering tactics."

A loud laugh was all the response Furlong received to this outbreak.

"Well, sir," repeated he, "I pwotest it is extremely unfair."

"You know, my dear sir," said Dick, "we Irish are such poor ignorant creatures, according to your own account, that we can make no use of the knowledge with which you have so generously supplied us."

"You know," said the Squire, "we have no real finesse."

"Sir," said Furlong, growing sulky, "there is a certain finesse that is fair, and another that is unfair—and I pwotest against——"

"Pooh, pooh!" said Murphy. "Never mind trifles. Just wait till to-morrow, and I'll show you even better salmon-fishing than you had to-day."

"Sir, no consideration would make me wemain anothe' wower in this house."

Murphy screwed his lips together, puffed out something between a whistle and the blowing out of a candle, and ventured to suggest to Furlong he had better wait even a couple of hours, till he had got his allowance of claret. "Remember the adage, sir, 'In vino veritas,' and we'll tell you all our electioneering secrets after we've had enough wine."

"As soon, Miste' Wegan," said Mr. Furlong, quite chapfallen, "as you can tell me how I can get to the house to which I intended to go, I will be weddy to bid you good evening."

"If you are determined, Mr. Furlong, to remain here no longer, I shall not press my hospitality upon you; whenever you decide upon going, my carriage shall be at your service."

"The soone' the bette', sir," said Furlong, retreating still further into a cold and sulky manner.

The Squire made no further attempt to conciliate him; he merely said, "Dick, ring the bell. Pass the claret, Murphy."

The bell was rung—the claret passed—a servant entered, and orders were given by the Squire that the carriage should be at the door as soon as possible. In the interim, Dick Dawson, the Squire, and Murphy, laughed as if nothing had happened, and Mrs. Egan conversed in an under-tone with Mr. Bermingham. Fanny looked mischievous, and Furlong kept his hand on the foot of his glass, and shoved it about something in the fashion of an uncertain chess-player, who does not know where to put the piece on which he has laid his finger.

The carriage was soon announced, and Mrs. Egan, as Furlong seemed so anxious to go, rose from table; and as she retired, he made her a cold and formal bow. He attempted a tender look and soft word to Fanny—for Furlong, who thought himself a beau garcon, had been playing off his attractions upon her all day, but the mischievously merry Fanny Dawson, when she caught the sheepish eye, and heard the mumbled gallantry of the Castle Adonis, could not resist a titter, which obliged her to hide her dimpling cheek and pearly teeth in her handkerchief, as she passed to the door. The ladies being gone, the Squire asked Furlong, would he not have some more wine before he went.

"No, thank you, Miste' Wegan," replied he, "after being twicked in the manner that a——"

"Mr. Furlong," said the Squire, "you have said quite enough about that. When you came into my house last night, sir, I had no intention of practising any joke upon you. You should have had the hospitality of an Irishman's house, without the consequence that has followed, had you not indulged in sneering at the Irishman's country, which, to your shame be it spoken, is your own. You vaunted your own superior intelligence and finesse over us, sir; and told us you came down to overthrow poor Pat in the trickery of electioneering movements. Under these circumstances, sir, I think what we have done is quite fair. We have shown you that you are no match for us in the finesse upon which you pride yourself so much; and the next time you talk of your countrymen, and attempt to undervalue them, just remember how you have been outwitted at Merryvale House. Good evening, Mr. Furlong, I hope we part without owing each other any ill-will." The Squire offered his hand, but Furlong drew up, and amidst such expletives as "weally," and "I must say," he at last made use of the word "atwocious."

"What's that you say?" said Dick. "You don't speak very plain, and I'd like to be sure of the last word you used."

"I mean to say that a——" and Furlong, not much liking the tone of Dick's question, was humming and hawing a sort of explanation of what "he meant to say," when Dick thus interrupted him—

"I tell you this, Mr. Furlong; all that has been done is my doing—I've humbugged you, sir,—hum-bugged. I've sold you—dead. I've pumped you, sir—all your electioneering bag of tricks, bribery and all, exposed; and now go off to O'Grady, and tell him how the poor ignorant Irish have done you; and see, Mr. Furlong," in a quiet under-tone, "if there's anything that either he or you don't like about the business, you shall have any satisfaction you like, and as often as you please."

"I shall conside' of that, sir," said Furlong, as he left the house, and entered the carriage, where he threw himself back in offended dignity, and soliloquised vows of vengeance. But the bumping of the carriage over a rough road disturbed the pleasing reveries of revenge, to awaken him to the more probable and less agreeable consequences likely to occur to himself for the blunder he had made; for, with all the puppy's self-sufficiency and conceit, he could not by any process of mental delusion conceal from himself the fact that he had been most tremendously done, and how his party would take it was a serious consideration. O'Grady, another horrid Irish squire—how should he face him? For a moment he thought it better to go back to Dublin, and he pulled the check-string—the carriage stopped—down went the front glass. "I say, coachman."

"I'm not the coachman, sir."

"Well, whoever you are——"

"I'm the groom only, sir; for the coachman was——"

"Sir, I don't want to know who you are, or about your affairs; I want you to listen to me—cawn't you listen?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, then—dwive to the village."

"I thought it was to the Hall I was to dhrive, sir."

"Do what you're told, sir—the village!"

"What village, sir?" asked Mat, the groom, who knew well enough, but from Furlong's impertinence did not choose to understand anything gratuitously.

"Why the village I came from yeste'day."

"What village was that, sir?"

"How stoopid you are!—the village the mail goes to."

"Sure the mail goes to all the villages in Ireland, sir."

"You pwovoking blockhead!—Good Heavens, how stoopid you Iwish are!—the village that leads to Dublin."

"'Faith they all lead to Dublin, sir."

"Confound you—you must know!—the posting village, you know—that is, not the post town, if you know what a post town is."

"To be sure I do, sir—where they sell blankets, you mane."

"No—no—no! I want to go to the village where they keep post-chaises—now you know."

"Faix, they have po'chayses in all the villages here; there's no betther accommodation for man or baste in the world than here, sir."

Furlong was mute from downright vexation, till his rage got vent in an oath, another denunciation of Irish stupidity, and at last a declaration that the driver must know the village.

"How would I know it, sir, when you don't know it yourself?" asked the groom; "I suppose it has a name to it, and if you tell me that, I'll dhrive you there fast enough."

"I cannot wemember your howwid names here—it is a Bal, or Bally, or some such gibbewish——"

Mat would not be enlightened.

"Is there not Bal or Bally something?"

"Oh, a power o' Bailies, sir; there's Ballygash, and Ballyslash, and Ballysmish, and Ballysmash, and——" so went on Mat, inventing a string of Ballies, till he was stopped by the enraged Furlong.

"None o' them! none o' them!" exclaimed he, in a fury; "'t is something about 'dirt' or 'mud.'"

"Maybe 't would be gutther, sir," said Mat, who saw Furlong was near the mark, and he thought he might as well make a virtue of telling him.

"I believe you're right," said Furlong.

"Then it is Ballysloughgutthery you want to go to, sir."

"That's the name!" said Furlong, snappishly; "dwive there!" and, hastily pulling up the glass, he threw himself back again in the carriage. Another troubled vision of what the secretary would say came across him, and, after ten minutes' balancing the question, and trembling at the thoughts of an official blowing up, he thought he had better even venture on an Irish squire; so the check-string was again pulled, and the glass hastily let down.

Mat halted. "Yes, sir," said Mat.

"I think I've changed my mind—dwive to the Hall!"

"I wish you'd towld me, sir, before I took the last turn—we're nigh a mile towards the village now."

"No matte', sir!" said Furlong; "dwive where I tell you."

Up went the glass again, and Mat turned round the horses and carriage with some difficulty in a narrow by-road.

Another vision came across the bewildered fancy of Furlong: the certainty of the fury of O'Grady—the immediate contempt as well as anger attendant on his being bamboozled—and the result at last being the same in drawing down the secretary's anger. This produced another change of intention, and he let down the glass for the third time—once more changed his orders as concisely as possible, and pulled it up again. All this time Mat was laughing internally at the bewilderment of the stranger, and as he turned round the carriage again he muttered to himself, "By this and that, you're as hard to dhrive as a pig; for you'll neither go one road nor th' other." He had not proceeded far, when Furlong determined to face O'Grady instead of the Castle, and the last and final order for another turnabout was given. Mat hardly suppressed an oath; but respect for his master stopped him. The glass of the carriage was not pulled up this time, and Mat was asked a few questions about the Hall, and at last about the Squire. Now Mat had acuteness enough to fathom the cause of Furlong's indecision, and determined to make him as unhappy as he could; therefore to the question of "What sort of a man the Squire was?" Mat, re-echoing the question, replied—"What sort of a man, sir?—'Faith, he's not a man at all, sir, he's the devil."

Furlong pulled up the glass, and employed the interval between Mat's answer and reaching the Hall in making up his mind as to how he should "face the devil."

The carriage, after jolting for some time over a rough road skirted by a high and ruinous wall, stopped before a gateway that had once been handsome, and Furlong was startled by the sound of a most thundering bell, which the vigorous pull of Mat stimulated to its utmost pitch; the baying of dogs which followed was terrific. A savage-looking gatekeeper made his appearance with a light—not in a lantern, but shaded with his tattered hat; many questions and answers ensued, and at last the gate was opened. The carriage proceeded up a very ragged avenue, stopped before a large rambling sort of building, which even moonlight could exhibit to be very much out of repair, and after repeated knocking at the door (for Mat knew his squire and the other squire were not friends now, and that he might be impudent), the door was unchained and unbarred, and Furlong deposited in Neck-or-Nothing Hall.



CHAPTER XIV

"Such is the custom of Branksome Hall."

Lay of the Last Minstrel.

NECK-OR-NOTHING HALL

CANTO I

Ten good nights and ten good days It would take to tell thy ways, Various, many, and amazing: Neck-or-Nothing bangs all praising. Wonders great and wonders small Are found in Neck-or-Nothing Hall.

Racing rascals of ten a twain, Who care not a rush for hail nor rain, Messages swiftly to go or to come, Or duck a taxman or harry a bum,[7] Or "clip a server,"[8] did blithely lie In the stable parlour next to the sky[9] Dinners, save chance ones, seldom had they, Unless they could nibble their beds of hay; But the less they got, they were hardier all— 'T was the custom of Neck-or-Nothing Hall.

[7] A facetious phrase for bailiff, so often kicked.

[8] Cutting off the ears of a process-server.

[9] Hayloft.

One lord there sat in that terrible hall, Two ladies came at his terrible call,— One his mother and one his wife, Each afraid of her separate life; Three girls who trembled—four boys who shook Five times a day at his lowering look, Six blunderbuses in goodly show, Seven horse-pistols were ranged below, Eight domestics, great and small, In idlesse did nothing but curse them all; Nine state beds, where no one slept— Ten for family use were kept; Dogs eleven with bums to make free, With a bold thirteen[10] in the treasury— (Such its numerical strength, I guess It can't be more, but it may be less). Tar-barrels new and feathers old Are ready, I trow, for the caitiff bold Who dares to invade The stormy shade Of the grim O'Grade, In his hunting hold.

[10] A shilling, so called from its being worth thirteen pence in those days.

When the iron tongue of the old gate bell Doth summon the growling grooms from cell, Through cranny and crook They peer and they look, With guns to send the intruders to heaven.[11] But when passwords pass That might "serve a mass,"[12] Then bars are drawn and chains let fall, And you get into Neck-or-Nothing Hall.

[11] This is not the word in the MS.

[12] Serving mass occupies about twenty-five minutes.

CANTO II

And never a doubt But when you are in, If you love a whole skin, I'll wager (and win) You'll be glad to get out.

Dr. Growling's Metrical Romance.

The bird's-eye view which the doctor's peep from Parnassus has afforded, may furnish the imagination of the reader with materials to create in his own mind a vague yet not unjust notion of Neck-or-Nothing Hall; but certain details of the Hall itself, its inmates and its customs, may be desired by the matter-of-fact reader or the more minutely curious, and as the author has the difficult task before him of trying to please all tastes, something more definite is required.

The Hall itself was, as we have said, a rambling sort of structure. Ramifying from a solid centre, which gave the notion of a founder well to do in the world, additions, without any architectural pretensions to fitness, were stuck on here and there, as whim or necessity suggested or demanded, and a most incongruous mass of gables, roofs, and chimneys, odd windows and blank walls, was the consequence. According to the circumstances of the occupants who inherited the property, the building was either increased or neglected. A certain old bachelor, for example, who in the course of events inherited the property, had no necessity for nurses, nursery-maids, and their consequent suite of apartments; and as he never aspired to the honour of matrimony, the ball-room, the drawing-room, and extra bed-chambers were neglected; but being a fox-hunter, a new kennel and range of stables were built, the dining-room enlarged, and all the ready money he could get at spent in augmenting the plate, to keep pace with the racing-cups he won, and proudly displayed at his drinking-bouts; and when he died suddenly (broke his neck), the plate was seized at the suit of his wine-merchant; and as the heir next in succession got the property in a ruinous condition, it was impossible to keep a stud of horses along with a wife and a large family, so the stables and kennel went to decay, while the ladies and family apartments could only be patched up. When the house was dilapidated, the grounds about it, of course, were ill kept. Fine old trees were there, originally intended to afford shade to walks which were so neglected as to be no more walkable than any other part of the grounds—the vista of aspiring stems indicated where an avenue had been, but neither hoe nor rolling-stone had, for many a year, checked the growth of grass or weed. So much for the outside of the house: now for the inside.

That had witnessed many a thoughtless, expensive, headlong and irascible master, but never one more so than the present owner; added to which, he had the misfortune of being unpopular. Other men, thoughtless, and headlong, and irritable as he, have lived and had friends; but there was something about O'Grady that was felt, perhaps, more than it could be defined, which made him unpleasing—perhaps the homely phrase "cross-grained" may best express it, and O'Grady was essentially a cross-grained man. The estate, when he got it, was pretty heavily saddled, and the "galled jade" did not "wince" the less for his riding.

A good jointure to his mother was chargeable on the property, and this was an excuse on all occasions for the Squire's dilatory payment in other quarters. "Sir," he would say, "my mother's jointure is sacred—it is more than the estate can well bear, it is true, but it is a sacred claim, and I would sooner sacrifice my life, my honour, sir, than see that claim neglected!" Now all this sounded mighty fine, but his mother could never see her jointure regularly paid, and was obliged to live in the house with him: she was somewhat of an oddity, and had apartments to herself, and, as long as she was let alone, and allowed to read romances in quiet, did not complain; and whenever a stray ten-pound note did fall into her hands, she gave the greater part of it to her younger grand-daughter, who was fond of flowers and plants, and supported a little conservatory on her grand-mother's bounty, she paying the tribute of a bouquet to the old lady when the state of her botanical prosperity could afford it. The eldest girl was a favourite of an uncle, and her passion being dogs, all the presents her uncle made her in money were converted into canine curiosities; while the youngest girl took an interest in the rearing of poultry. Now the boys, varying in age from eight to fourteen, had their separate favourites too—one loved bull-dogs and terriers, another game-cocks, the third ferrets, and the fourth rabbits and pigeons. These multifarious tastes produced strange results. In the house, flowers and plants, indicating refinement of taste and costliness, were strongly contrasted with broken plaster, soiled hangings, and faded paint; an expensive dog might be seen lapping cream out of a shabby broken plate; a never-ending sequence of wars raged among the dependent favourites, the bull-dogs and terriers chopping up the ferrets, the ferrets killing the game-cocks, the game-cocks killing the tame poultry and rabbits, and the rabbits destroying the garden, assisted by the flying reserve of pigeons. It was a sort of Irish retaliation, so amusingly exemplified in the nursery jingle—

The water began to quench the fire, The fire began to burn the stick, The stick began to beat the dog, The dog began to bite the kid.

In the midst of all these distinct and clashing tastes, that of Mrs. O'Grady (the wife) must not be forgotten; her weak point was a feather bed. Good soul! anxious that whoever slept under her roof should lie softly, she would go to the farthest corner of the county to secure an accession to her favourite property—and such a collection of luxurious feather beds never was seen in company with such rickety bedsteads and tattered and mildewed curtains, in rooms uncarpeted, whose paper was dropping off the wall,—well might it be called paper-hanging indeed!—whose washing-tables were of deal, and whose delf was of the plainest ware, and even that minus sundry handles and spouts. Nor was the renowned O'Grady without his hobby, too. While the various members of his family were thwarting each other, his master-mischief was thwarting them all; like some wicked giant looking down on a squabble of dwarfs, and ending the fight by kicking them all right and left. Then he had his troop of pets too—idle blackguards who were slingeing[13] about the place eternally, keeping up a sort of "cordon sanitaire," to prevent the pestilential presence of a bailiff, which is so catching, and turns to jail fever, a disease which had been fatal in the family. O'Grady never ventured beyond his domain except on the back of a fleet horse—there he felt secure; indeed, the place he most dreaded legal assault in was his own house, where he apprehended trickery might invade him: a carriage might be but a feint, and hence the great circumspection in the opening of doors.

[13] An Hibernicism, expressive of lounging laziness.

From the nature of the establishment, thus hastily sketched, the reader will see what an ill-regulated jumble it was. The master, in difficulties, had disorderly people hanging about his place for his personal security; from these very people his boys picked up the love of dog-fights, cock-fights, &c.; and they, from the fights of their pets, fought amongst themselves, and were always fighting with their sisters; so the reader will see the "metrical romance" was not overcharged in its rhymes on Neck-or-Nothing Hall.

When Furlong entered the hall, he gave his name to a queer-looking servant with wild scrubby hair, a dirty face, a tawdry livery, worse for wear, which had manifestly been made for a larger man, and hung upon its present possessor like a coat upon a clothes-horse; his cotton stockings, meant to be white, and clumsy shoes, meant to be black, met each other half-way, and split the difference in a pleasing neutral tint. Leaving Furlong standing in the hall, he clattered up-stairs, and a dialogue ensued between master and man so loud that Furlong could hear the half of it, and his own name in a tone of doubt, with that of "Egan," in a tone of surprise, and that of his "sable majesty" in a tone of anger, rapidly succeeded one another; then such broken words and sentences as these ensued—"fudge!—humbug!—rascally trick!—eh!—by the hokey, they'd better take care!—put the scoundrel under the pump!"

Furlong more than half suspected it was to him this delicate attention was intended, and began to feel uncomfortable: he sharpened his ears to their keenest hearing, but there was a lull in the conversation, and he could ascertain one of the gentler sex was engaged in it by the ogre-like voice uttering, "Fudge, woman!—fiddle-de-dee!" Then he caught the words, "perhaps," and "gentleman," in a lady's voice; then out thundered "that rascal's carriage!—why come in that?—friend!—humbug!—rascal's carriage!—tar and feather him, by this and that!"

Furlong began to feel very uncomfortable; the conversation ended; down came the servant, to whom Furlong was about to address himself, when the man said, "He would be with him in a minit," and vanished; a sort of reconnoitering party, one by one, then passed through the hall, eyeing the stranger very suspiciously, any of them to whom Furlong ventured a word scurrying off in double-quick time. For an instant he meditated a retreat, and, looking to the door, saw a heavy chain across it, the pattern of which must have been had from Newgate. He attempted to unfasten it, and as it clanked heavily, the ogre's voice from up-stairs bellowed, "Who the d——l's that opening the door?" Furlong's hand dropped from the chain, and a low growling went on up the staircase. The servant whom he first saw returned.

"I fear," said Furlong, "there is some misappwehension."

"A what, sir?"

"A misappwehension."

"Oh, no, sir! it's only a mistake the master thought you might be making; he thinks you mistuk the house, maybe, sir?"

"Oh, no—I wather think he mistakes me. Will you do me the favo'," and he produced a packet of papers as he spoke—"the favo' to take my cwedentials to Mr. O'Gwady, and if he throws his eye over these pape's——"

At the word "papers," there was a shout from above, "Don't touch them, you thief, don't touch them!—another blister,—ha! ha! By the 'ternal this and that, I'll have him in the horse-pond!" A heavy stamping overhead ensued, and furious ringing of bells; in the midst of the din, a very pale lady came down-stairs, and pointing the way to a small room, beckoned Furlong to follow her. For a moment he hesitated, for his heart misgave him; but shame at the thought of doubting or refusing the summons of a lady overcame his fear, and he followed to a little parlour, where mutual explanations between Mrs. O'Grady and himself, and many messages, questions, and answers, which she carried up and down stairs, at length set Furlong's mind at ease respecting his personal safety, and finally admitted him into the presence of the truculent lord of the castle—who, when he heard that Furlong had been staying in the enemy's camp, was not, it may be supposed, in a sweet temper to receive him. O'Grady looked thunder as Furlong entered, and eyeing him keenly for some seconds, as if he were taking a mental as well as an ocular measurement of him, he saluted him with—

"Well, sir, a pretty kettle of fish you've made of this. I hope you have not blabbed much about our affairs?"

"Why, I weally don't know—I'm not sure—that is, I won't be positive, because when one is thwown off his guard, you know——"

"Pooh, sir! a man should never be off his guard in an election. But how the d——l, sir, could you make such a thundering mistake as to go to the wrong house?"

"It was a howwid postilion, Miste' O'Gwady."

"The scoundrel!" exclaimed O'Grady, stamping up and down the room.

At this moment, a tremendous crash was heard; the ladies jumped from their seats; O'Grady paused in his rage, and his poor, pale wife exclaimed—

"'T is in the conservatory."

A universal rush was now made to the spot, and there was Handy Andy, buried in the ruins of flower-pots and exotics, directly under an enormous breach in the glass roof of the building. How this occurred a few words will explain. Andy, when he went to sleep in the justice-room, slept soundly for some hours, but awoke in the horrors of a dream, in which he fancied he was about to be hanged. So impressed was he by the vision, that he determined on making his escape if he could, and to this end piled the chair upon the desk, and the volumes of law books on the chair, and, being an active fellow, contrived to scramble up high enough to lay his hand on the frame of the sky-light, and thus make his way out on the roof. Then walking, as well as the darkness would permit him, along the coping of the wall, he approached, as it chanced, the conservatory; but the coping being loose, one of the flags turned under Andy's foot, and bang he went through the glass roof, carrying down in his fall some score of flower-pots, and finally stuck in a tub, with his legs upwards, and embowered in the branches of crushed geraniums and hydrangeas.

He was dragged out of the tub, amidst a shower of curses from O'Grady; but the moment Andy recovered the few senses he had, and saw Furlong, regardless of the anathemas of the Squire, he shouted out, "There he is!—there he is!" and rushing towards him, exclaimed, "Now, did I dhrowned you, sir,—did I? Sure, I never murdhered you!"

'T was as much as could be done to keep O'Grady's hands off Andy, for smashing the conservatory, when Furlong's presence made him no longer liable to imprisonment.

"Maybe he has a vote," said Furlong, anxious to display how much he was on the qui vive in election matters.

"Have you a vote, you rascal?"

"You may sarche me if you like, your honour," said Andy, who thought a vote was some sort of property he was suspected of stealing.

"You are either the biggest rogue or the biggest fool I ever met," said O'Grady. "Which are you now?"

"Whichever your honour plazes," said Andy.

"If I forgive you, will you stand by me at the election?"

"I'll stand anywhere your honour bids me," said Andy humbly.

"That's a thorough-going rogue, I'm inclined to think," said O'Grady, aside to Furlong.

"He looks more like a fool in my appwehension," was the reply.

"Oh, these fellows conceal the deepest roguery sometimes under an assumed simplicity. You don't understand the Irish."

"Und'stand!" exclaimed Furlong; "I pwonounce the whole countwy quite incompwhensible!"

"Well!" growled O'Grady to Andy, after a moment's consideration, "go down to the kitchen, you house-breaking vagabond, and get your supper!"

Now, considering the "fee, faw, fum" qualities of O'Grady, the reader may be surprised at the easy manner in which Andy slipped through his fingers, after having slipped through the roof of his conservatory; but as between two stools folks fall to the ground, so between two rages people sometimes tumble into safety. O'Grady was in a divided passion—first his wrath was excited against Furlong for his blunder, and just as that was about to explode, the crash of Andy's sudden appearance amidst the flower-pots (like a practical parody on "Love among the roses") called off the gathering storm in a new direction, and the fury sufficient to annihilate one, was, by dispersion, harmless to two. But on the return of the party from the conservatory, after Andy's descent to the kitchen, O'Grady's rage against Furlong, though moderated, had settled down into a very substantial dissatisfaction, which he evinced by poking his nose between his forefinger and thumb, as if he meditated the abstraction of that salient feature from his face, shuffling his feet about, throwing his right leg over his left knee, and then suddenly, as if that were a mistake, throwing his left over the right, thrumming on the arm of his chair, with his clenched hand, inhaling the air very audibly through his protruded lips, as if he were supping hot soup, and all the time fixing his eyes on the fire with a portentous gaze, as if he would have evoked from it a salamander.

Mrs. O'Grady in such a state of affairs, wishing to speak to the stranger, yet anxious she should say nothing that could bear upon immediate circumstances lest she might rouse her awful lord and master, racked her invention for what she should say; and at last, with "bated breath" and a very worn-out smile, faltered forth—

"Pray, Mr. Furlong, are you fond of shuttlecock?"

Furlong stared, and began a reply of "Weally, I cawn't say that——"

When O'Grady gruffly broke in with, "You'd better ask him, does he love teetotum."

"I thought you could recommend me the best establishment in the metropolis, Mr. Furlong, for buying shuttlecocks," continued the lady, unmindful of the interruption.

"You had better ask him where you can get mouse-traps," growled O'Grady.

Mrs. O'Grady was silent, and O'Grady, whose rage had now assumed its absurd form of tagging changes, continued, increasing his growl, like a crescendo on the double-bass, as he proceeded:—"You'd better ask, I think—mouse-traps—steel-traps—clap-traps—rat-traps—rattle-traps— rattle-snakes!"

Furlong stared, Mrs. O'Grady was silent, and the Misses O'Grady cast fearful sidelong glances at "Pa," whose strange irritation always bespoke his not being in what good people call a "sweet state of mind;" he laid hold of a tea-spoon, and began beating a tattoo on the mantel-piece to a low smothered whistle of some very obscure tune, which was suddenly stopped to say to Furlong, very abruptly—

"So Egan diddled you?"

"Why, he certainly, as I conceive, pwactised, or I might say, in short—he—a—in fact——"

"Oh, yes," said O'Grady, cutting short Furlong's humming and hawing; "oh, yes, I know—diddled you."

Bang went the spoon again, keeping time with another string of nonsense. "Diddled you—diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon—who was there?"

"A Mister Dawson."

"Phew!" ejaculated O'Grady with a doleful whistle; "Dick the devil! You are in nice hands! All up with us—up with us—

Up, up, up, And here we go down, down, down, down, derry down!

Oh, murther!" and the spoon went faster than before. "Any one else?"

"Mister Bermingham."

"Bermingham!" exclaimed O'Grady.

"A cle'gyman, I think," drawled Furlong.

"Bermingham!" reiterated O'Grady. "What business has he there, and be ——!" O'Grady swallowed a curse when he remembered he was a clergyman. "The enemy's camp—not his principles! Oh, Bermingham, Bermingham,—Brimmagem, Brummagem, Sheffield, Wolverhampton—Murther! Any one else? Was Durfy there?"

"No," said Furlong; "but there was an odd pe'son, whose name wymes to his—as you seem fond of wymes, Mister O'Gwady."

"What!" said O'Grady, quickly, and fixing his eyes on Furlong; "Murphy?"

"Yes. Miste' Muffy."

O'Grady gave a more doleful whistle than before, and banging the spoon faster than ever, exclaimed again, "Murphy!—then I'll tell you what it is; do you see that?" and he held up the spoon before Furlong, who, being asked the same question several times, confessed he did see the spoon. "Then I'll tell you what it is," said O'Grady again, "I wouldn't give you that for the election;" and, with a disdainful jerk, he threw the spoon into the fire, after which he threw himself back in his chair with an appearance of repose, while he glanced fiercely up at the ceiling, and indulged in a very low whistle indeed. One of the girls stole softly round to the fire and gently took up the tongs to recover the spoon; it made a slight rattle, and her father turned smartly round, and said, "Can't you let the fire alone?—there's coal enough on it; the devil burn 'em all—Egan, Murphy, and all o' them! What do you stand there for, with the tongs in your hands, like a hairdresser, or a stuck pig? I tell you, I'm as hot as a lime-kiln; go out o' that."

The daughter retired, and the spoon was left to its fate; the ladies did not dare to utter a word; O'Grady continued his gaze on the ceiling and his whistle; and Furlong, very uncomfortable and much more astonished, after sitting in silence for some time, thought a retreat the best move he could make, and intimated his wish to retire.

Mrs. O'Grady gently suggested it was yet early; which Furlong acknowledged, but pleaded his extreme fatigue after a day of great exertion.

"I suppose you were canvassing," said O'Grady, with a wicked grin.

"Ce'tainly not; they could sca'cely pwesume on such a thing as that, I should think, in my pwesence."

"Then what fatigued you?—eh?"

"Salmon-fishing, sir."

"What!" exclaimed O'Grady, opening his fierce eyes, and turning suddenly round. "Salmon-fishing! Where the d——l were you salmon-fishing?"

"In the wiver, close by here."

The ladies now all stared; but Furlong advanced a vehement assurance, in answer to their looks of wonder, that he had taken some very fine salmon indeed.

The girls could not suppress their laughter; and O'Grady, casting a look of mingled rage and contempt on the fisherman, merely uttered the ejaculation, "Oh, Moses!" and threw himself back in his chair; but starting up a moment after, he rang the bell violently. "What do you want, my dear?" said his poor wife, venturing to lift her eyes, and speaking in the humblest tone—"what do you want?"

"Some broiled bones!" said O'Grady, very much like an ogre; "I want something to settle my stomach after what I've heard, for, by the powers of ipecacuanha, 't is enough to make a horse sick—sick, by the powers!—shivering all over like a dog in a wet sack. I must have broiled bones and hot punch!"

The servant entered, and O'Grady swore at him for not coming sooner, though he was really expeditious in his answer to the bell.

"Confound your lazy bones; you're never in time."

"'Deed, sir; I came the minit I heerd the bell."

"Hold your tongue!—who bid you talk? The devil fly away with you!—and you'll never go fast till he does. Make haste now—go to the cook——"

"Yes, sir."

"Curse you! can't you wait till you get your message? Go to the devil with you!—get some broiled bones—hot water and tumblers—don't forget the whisky—and pepper them well. Mind, hot—everything hot—screeching hot. Be off, now, and make haste—mind, make haste!"

"Yes, sir," said the servant, whipping out of the room with celerity, and thanking Heaven when he had the door between him and his savage master. When he got to the kitchen, he told the cook to make haste, if ever she made haste in her life, "for there's owld Danger up-stairs in the divil's temper, God bless us!" said Mick.

"Faix, he's always that," said the cook, scurrying across the kitchen for the gridiron.

"Oh! but he's beyant all to-night," said Mick; "I think he'll murther that chap up-stairs before he stops."

"Oh, wirra! wirra!" cried the cook; "there's the fire not bright, bad luck to it, and he wantin' a brile!"

"Bright or not bright," said Mick, "make haste I'd advise you, or he'll have your life."

The bell rang violently.

"There, do you hear him tattherin'?" said Mick, rushing up-stairs.

"I thought it was tay they wor takin'," said Larry Hogan, who was sitting in the chimney-corner, smoking.

"So they are," said the cook.

"Then I suppose, briled bones is genteel with tay?" said Larry.

"Oh, no; it's not for tay, at all, they want them; it's only ould Danger himself. Whenever he's in a rage, he ates briled bones."

"'Faith, they are a brave cure for anger," said Larry; "I wouldn't be angry myself, if I had one."

Down rushed Mick, to hurry the cook—bang, twang! went the bell as he spoke. "Oh, listen to him!" said Mick: "for the tendher mercy o' Heaven, make haste!"

The cook transferred the bones from the gridiron to a hot dish.

"Oh, murther, but they're smoked!" said Mick.

"No matther," said the cook, shaking her red elbow furiously; "I'll smother the smoke with the pepper—there!—give them a good dab o' musthard now, and sarve them hot!"

Away rushed Mick, as the bell was rattled into fits again.

While the cook had been broiling bones for O'Grady below, he had been grilling Furlong for himself above. In one of the pauses of the storm, the victim ventured to suggest to his tormentor that all the mischief that had arisen might have been avoided, if O'Grady had met him at the village, as he requested of him in one of his letters. O'Grady denied all knowledge of such a request, and after some queries about certain portions of the letter, it became manifest it had miscarried.

"There!" said O'Grady; "there's a second letter astray; I'm certain they put my letters astray on purpose. There's a plot in the post-office against me; by this and that, I'll have an inquiry. I wish all the post-offices in the world were blown up; and all the postmasters hanged, postmaster-general and all—I do—by the 'ternal war, I do—and all the mail coaches in the world ground to powder, and the roads they go on into the bargain—devil a use in them but to carry bad news over the universe—for all the letters with any good in them are lost; and if there's a money enclosure in one, that's sure to be robbed. Blow the post-office, I say—blow it, and sink it!"

It was at this moment Mick entered with the broiled bones, and while he was in the room, placing glasses on the table, and making the necessary arrangements for making "screeching hot punch," he heard O'Grady and Furlong talking about the two lost letters.

On his descent to the kitchen, the cook was spreading a bit of supper there, in which Andy was to join, he having just completed some applications of brown paper and vinegar to the bruises received in his fall. Larry Hogan, too, was invited to share in the repast; and it was not the first time, by many, that Larry quartered on the Squire. Indeed, many a good larder was opened to Larry Hogan; he held a very deep interest in the regards of all the female domestics over the country, not on the strength of his personal charms, for Larry had a hanging lip, a snub nose, a low forehead, a large ugly head, whose scrubby grizzled hair grew round the crown somewhat in the form of a priest's tonsure. Not on the strength of his gallantry, for Larry was always talking morality and making sage reflections, while he supplied the womankind with bits of lace, rolls of ribbon, and now and then silk stockings. He always had some plausible story of how they happened to come in his way, for Larry was not a regular pedlar; carrying no box, he drew his chance treasures from the recesses of very deep pockets contrived in various parts of his attire. No one asked Larry how he came by such a continued supply of natty articles, and if they had, Larry would not have told them; for he was a very "close" man, as well as a "civil-spoken," under which character he was first introduced to the reader on the memorable night of Andy's destructive adventure in his mother's cabin. Larry Hogan was about as shrewd a fellow as any in the whole country, and while no one could exactly make out what he was, or how he made the two ends of his year meet, he knew nearly as much of every one's affairs as they did themselves; in the phrase of the country, he was "as 'cute as a fox, as close as wax, and as deep as a draw-well."

The supper-party sat down in the kitchen, and between every three mouthfuls poor Mick could get, he was obliged to canter up-stairs at the call of the fiercely rung bell. Ever and anon, as he returned, he bolted his allowance with an ejaculation, sometimes pious, sometimes the reverse, on the hard fate of attending such a "born devil," as he called the Squire.

"Why he's worse nor ever, to-night," says the cook. "What ails him at all—what is it all about?"

"Oh, he's blackguardin' and blastin' away about that quare slink-lookin' chap, up-stairs, goin' to Squire Egan's instead of comin' here."

"That was a bit o' your handy work," said Larry, with a grim smile at Andy.

"And then," said Mick, "he's swearin' by all the murthers in the world agen the whole counthry, about some letthers was stole out of the post-office by somebody."

Andy's hand was in the act of raising a mouthful to his lips, when these words were uttered; his hand fell, and his mouth remained open. Larry Hogan had his eye on him at the moment.

"He swares he'll have some one in the body o' the jail," said Mick; "and he'll never stop till he sees them swing."

Andy thought of the effigy on the wall, and his dream, and grew pale.

"By the hokey," said Mick, "I never see him in sitch a tattherin' rage!"—bang went the bell again—"Ow, ow!" cried Mick, bolting a piece of fat bacon, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his livery, and running up-stairs.

"Misses Cook, ma'am," said Andy, shoving back his chair from the table; "thank you, ma'am, for your good supper. I think I'll be goin' now."

"Sure, you're not done yet, man alive."

"Enough is as good as a feast, ma'am," replied Andy.

"Augh! sure the morsel you took is more like a fast than a feast," said the cook, "and it's not Lent."

"It's not lent, sure enough," said Larry Hogan, with a sly grin; "it's not lent, for you gave it to him."

"Ah, Misther Hogan, you're always goin' on with your conundherums," said the cook; "sure, that's not the lent I mane at all—I mane Good Friday Lent."

"Faix, every Friday is good Friday that a man gets his supper," said Larry.

"Well, you will be goin' on, Misther Hogan," said the cook. "Oh, but you're a witty man; but I'd rather have a yard of your lace, any day, than a mile o' your discourse."

"Sure, you ought not to mind my goin' on, when you're lettin' another man go off, that-a-way," said Larry, pointing to Andy, who, hat in hand, was quitting the kitchen.

"Faix an' he mustn't go," said the cook; "there's two words to that bargain;" and she closed the door, and put her back against it.

"My mother's expectin' me, ma'am," said Andy.

"Throth, if 't was your wife was expectin' you, she must wait a bit," said the cook; "sure you wouldn't leave the thirsty curse on my kitchen?—you must take a dhrop before you go; besides the dogs outside the place would ate you onless there was some one they knew along wid you: and sure, if a dog bit you, you couldn't dhrink wather afther, let alone a dhrop o' beer, or a thrifle o' sper'ts: isn't that thrue, Misther Hogan?"

"Indeed an' it is, ma'am," answered Larry; "no one can dhrink afther a dog bites them, and that's the rayson that the larn'd fackleties calls the disaise high-dhry——"

"High-dhry what?" asked the cook.

"That's what I'm thinkin' of," said Larry. "High-dhry—high-dhry—something."

"There's high-dhry snuff," said the cook.

"Oh, no—no, no, ma'am!" said Larry, waving his hand and shaking his head, as if unwilling to be interrupted in endeavouring to recall

"Some fleeting remembrance;"

"high-dhry—po—po—something about po; 'faith, it's not unlike popery," said Larry.

"Don't say popery," cried the cook; "it's a dirty word! Say Roman Catholic when you spake of the faith."

"Do you think I would undhervalue the faith?" said Larry, casting up his eyes. "Oh, Missis Mulligan, you know little of me; d' you think I would undhervalue what is my hope, past, present, and to come?—what makes our hearts light when our lot is heavy?—what makes us love our neighbour as ourselves?"

"Indeed, Misther Hogan," broke in the cook, "I never knew any one fonder of calling in on a neighbour than yourself, particularly about dinner-time——"

"What makes us," said Larry, who would not let the cook interrupt his outpouring of pious eloquence—"what makes us fierce in prosperity to our friends, and meek in adversity to our inimies?"

"Oh! Misther Hogan!" said the cook, blessing herself.

"What puts the leg undher you when you are in throuble? why, your faith: what makes you below desait, and above reproach, and on neither side of nothin'?" Larry slapped the table like a prime minister, and there was no opposition. "Oh, Missis Mulligan, do you think I would desaive or bethray my fellow-crayture? Oh, no—I would not wrong the child unborn,"—and this favourite phrase of Larry (and other rascals) was, and is, unconsciously, true; for people, most generally, must be born before they can be much wronged.

"Oh, Missis Mulligan," said Larry, with a devotional appeal of his eyes to the ceiling, "be at war with sin, and you'll be at paice with yourself!"

Just as Larry wound up his pious peroration, Mick shoved in the door, against which the cook supported herself, and told Andy the Squire said he should not leave the Hall that night.

Andy looked aghast.

Again Larry Hogan's eye was on him.

"Sure I can come back here in the mornin'," said Andy, who at the moment he spoke was conscious of the intention of being some forty miles out of the place before dawn, if he could get away.

"When the Squire says a thing, it must be done," said Mick. "You must sleep here."

"And pleasant dhrames to you," said Larry, who saw Andy wince under his kindly worded stab.

"And where must I sleep?" asked Andy, dolefully.

"Out in the big loft," said Mick.

"I'll show you the way," said Larry; "I'm goin' to sleep there myself to-night, for it would be too far to go home. Good night, Mrs. Mulligan—good night, Mickey—come along, Andy."

Andy followed Hogan. They had to cross a yard to reach the stables; the night was clear, and the waning moon shed a steady though not a bright light on the enclosure. Hogan cast a lynx eye around him to see if the coast was clear, and satisfying himself it was, he laid his hand impressively on Andy's arm as they reached the middle of the yard, and setting Andy's face right against the moonlight, so that he might watch the slightest expression, he paused for a moment before he spoke; and when he spoke, it was in a low mysterious whisper—low, as if he feared the night breeze might betray it,—and the words were few, but potent, which he uttered; they were these—"Who robbed the post-office?"

The result quite satisfied Hogan; and he knew how to turn his knowledge to account. O'Grady and Egan were no longer friends; a political contest was pending; letters were missing; Andy had been Egan's servant; and Larry Hogan had enough of that mental chemical power, which, from a few raw facts, unimportant separately, could make a combination of great value.

Soon after breakfast at Merryvale the following morning, Mrs. Egan wanted to see the Squire. She went to his sitting-room—it was bolted. He told her, from the inside, he was engaged just then, but would see her by-and-by. She retired to the drawing-room, where Fanny was singing. "Oh, Fanny," said her sister, "sing me that dear new song of 'The Voices,' 't is so sweet, and must be felt by those who, like me, have a happy home."

Fanny struck a few notes of a wild and peculiar symphony, and sang her sister's favourite.

THE VOICE WITHIN

I

You ask the dearest place on earth, Whose simple joys can never die; 'T is the holy pale of the happy hearth, Where love doth light each beaming eye. With snowy shroud Let tempests loud Around my old tower raise their din;— What boots the shout Of storms without, While voices sweet resound within? O dearer sound For the tempests round, The voices sweet within!

II

I ask not wealth, I ask not power; But, gracious Heaven, oh grant to me That, when the storms of Fate may lower, My heart just like my home may be! When in the gale Poor Hope's white sail No haven can for shelter win, Fate's darkest skies The heart defies Whose still small voice is sweet within O, heavenly sound, 'Mid the tempests round, That voice so sweet within!

Egan had entered as Fanny was singing the second verse; he wore a troubled air, which his wife at first did not remark. "Is not that a sweet song, Edward?" said she. "No one ought to like it more than you, for your home is your happiness, and no one has a clearer conscience."

Egan kissed her gently, and thanked her for her good opinion, and asked her what she wished to say to him. They left the room.

Fanny remarked Egan's unusually troubled air, and it marred her music; leaving the piano, and walking to the window, she saw Larry Hogan walking from the house, down the avenue.



CHAPTER XV

If the morning brought uneasiness and distrust to Merryvale, it dawned not more brightly on Neck-or-Nothing Hall. The discord of the former night was not preparatory to harmony on the morrow, and the parties separating in ill-humour from the drawing-room were not likely to look forward with much pleasure to the breakfast-parlour. But before breakfast sleep was to intervene—that is, for those who could get it—and the unfortunate Furlong was not amongst the number. Despite the very best feather bed Mrs. O'Grady had selected for him from amongst her treasures, it was long before slumber weighed down his feverish eyelids; and even then, it was only to have them opened again in some convulsive start of a troubled dream. All his adventures of the last four-and-twenty hours were jumbled together in strange confusion—now on a lonely road, while dreading the assaults of robbers, his course was interrupted not by a highwayman, but a river, whereon embarking, he began to catch salmon in a most surprisingly rapid manner, but just as he was about to haul in his fish it escaped from the hook, and the salmon, making wry faces at him, very impertinently exclaimed, "Sure, you wouldn't catch a poor, ignorant, Irish salmon?" He then snapped his pistols at the insolent fish—then his carriage breaks down, and he is suddenly transferred from the river to the road; thieves seize upon him and bind his hands, but a charming young lady with pearly teeth frees him from his bonds, and conducts him to a castle where a party is engaged in playing cards; he is invited to join, and as his cards are dealt to him he anticipates triumph in the game, but by some malicious fortune his trumps are transformed into things of no value, as they touch the board; he loses his money, and is kicked out when his purse has been emptied, and he escapes along a dark road pursued by his spoilers, who would take his life, and a horrid cry of "broiled bones," rings in his ears as he flies; he is seized and thrown into a river, where, as he sinks, shoals of salmon raise a chorus of rejoicing, and he wakes out of the agonies of dream-drowning to find himself nearly suffocated by sinking into the feathery depths of Mrs. O'Grady's pet bed. After a night passed in such troubled visions the unfortunate Furlong awoke unrefreshed, and, with bitter recollections of the past and mournful anticipations of the future, arose and prepared to descend to the parlour, where a servant told him breakfast was ready.

His morning greeting by the family was not of that hearty and cheerful character which generally distinguishes the house of an Irish squire; for though O'Grady was not so savage as on the preceding evening, he was rather gruff, and the ladies dreaded being agreeable when the master's temper blew from a stormy point. Furlong could not help regretting at this moment the lively breakfast-table at Merryvale, nor avoid contrasting to disadvantage the two Miss O'Gradys with Fanny Dawson. Augusta, the eldest, inherited the prominent nose of her father, and something of his upper lip too, beard included; and these, unfortunately, were all she was ever likely to inherit from him; and Charlotte, the younger, had the same traits in a moderated degree. Altogether, he thought the girls the plainest he had ever seen, and the house more horrible than anything that was ever imagined; and he sighed a faint fashionable sigh, to think his political duties had expelled him from a paradise to send him

"The other way—the other way!"

Four boys and a little girl sat at a side-table, where a capacious jug of milk, large bowls, and a lusty loaf were laid under contribution amidst a suppressed but continuous wrangle, which was going forward amongst the juniors; and a snappish "I will" or "I won't," a "Let me alone" or a "Behave yourself," occasionally was distinguishable above the murmur of dissatisfaction. A little squall from the little girl at last made O'Grady turn round and swear that, if they did not behave themselves, he'd turn them all out.

"It is all Goggy, sir," said the girl.

"No, it's not, you dirty little thing," cried George, whose name was thus euphoniously abbreviated.

"He's putting——" said the girl, with excitement.

"Ah, you dirty little——" interrupted Goggy, in a low, contemptuous tone.

"He's putting, sir——"

"Whisht! you young devils, will you?" cried O'Grady, and a momentary silence prevailed; but the little girl snivelled and put up her bib[14] to wipe her eyes, while Goggy put out his tongue at her. Many minutes had not elapsed when the girl again whimpered—

[14] Pinafore.

"Call to Goggy, papa; he's putting some mouse's tails into my milk, sir."

"Ah, you dirty little tell-tale!" cried Goggy, reproachfully; "a tell-tale is worse than a mouse's tail."

O'Grady jumped up, gave Master Goggy a box on the ear, and then caught him by the aforesaid appendage to his head, and as he led him to the door by the same, Goggy bellowed lustily, and when ejected from the room howled down the passage more like a dog than a human being. O'Grady, on resuming his seat, told Polshee[15] (the little girl) she was always getting Goggy a beating, and she was a little cantankerous cat and a dirty tell-tale, as Goggy said. Amongst the ladies and Furlong the breakfast went forward with coldness and constraint, and all were glad when it was nearly over. At this period, Mrs. O'Grady half filled a large bowl from the tea-urn, and then added to it some weak tea, and Miss O'Grady collected all the broken bread about the table on a plate. Just then Furlong ventured to "twouble" Mrs. O'Grady for a leetle more tea, and before he handed her his cup he would have emptied the sediment in the slop-basin, but by mistake he popped it into the large bowl of miserable Mrs. O'Grady had prepared. Furlong begged a thousand pardons, but Mrs. O'Grady assured him it was of no consequence, as it was only for the tutor!

[15] Mary.

O'Grady, having swallowed his breakfast as fast as possible, left the room; the whole party soon followed, and on arriving in the drawing-room, the young ladies became more agreeable when no longer under the constraint of their ogre father. Furlong talked slip-slop common-places with them; they spoke of the country and the weather, and he of the city; they assured him that the dews were heavy in the evening, and that the grass was so green in that part of the country; he obliged them with the interesting information, that the Liffy ran through Dublin, but that the two sides of the city communicated by means of bridges—that the houses were built of red brick generally, and that the hall-doors were painted in imitation of mahogany; to which the young ladies responded, "La, how odd!" and added, that in the country people mostly painted their hall-doors green, to match the grass. Furlong admitted the propriety of the proceeding, and said he liked uniformity. The young ladies quite coincided in his opinion, declared they all were so fond of uniformity, and added that one of their carriage horses was blind. Furlong admitted the excellence of the observation, and said, in a very soft voice, that Love was blind also.

"Exactly," said Miss O'Grady, "and that's the reason we call our horse 'Cupid'!"

"How clever!" replied Furlong.

"And the mare that goes in harness with him—she's an ugly creature, to be sure, but we call her 'Venus.'"

"How dwoll!" said Furlong.

"That's for uniformity," said Miss O'Grady.

"How good!" was the rejoinder.

Mrs. O'Grady, who had left the room for a few minutes, now returned and told Furlong she would show him over the house if he pleased. He assented, of course, and under her guidance went through many apartments; those on the basement story were hurried through rapidly, but when Mrs. O'Grady got him upstairs, amongst the bed-rooms, she dwelt on the excellence of every apartment. "This I need not show you, Mr. Furlong—'t is your own; I hope you slept well last night?" This was the twentieth time the question had been asked. "Now, here is another, Mr. Furlong; the window looks out on the lawn: so nice to look out on a lawn, I think, in the morning, when one gets up!—so refreshing and wholesome! Oh! you are looking at the stain in the ceiling, but we couldn't get the roof repaired in time before the winter set in last year; and Mr. O'Grady thought we might as well have the painters and slaters together in the summer—and the house does want paint, indeed, but we all hate the smell of paint. See here, Mr. Furlong," and she turned up a quilt as she spoke; "just put your hand into that bed; did you ever feel a finer bed?"

Furlong declared he never did.

"Oh, you don't know how to feel a bed!—put your hand into it—well, that way;" and Mrs. O'Grady plunged her arm up to the elbow into the object of her admiration. Furlong poked the bed, and was all laudation.

"Isn't it beautiful?"

"Cha'ming!" replied Furlong, trying to pick off the bits of down which clung to his coat.

"Oh, never mind the down—you shall be brushed after; I always show my beds, Mr. Furlong. Now, here's another;" and so she went on, dragging poor Furlong up and down the house, and he did not get out of her clutches till he had poked all the beds in the establishment. As soon as that ceremony was over, and that his coat had undergone the process of brushing, he wished to take a stroll, and was going forth, when Mrs. O'Grady interrupted him, with the assurance that it would not be safe unless some one of the family became his escort, for the dogs were very fierce—Mr. O'Grady was so fond of dogs, and so proud of a particular breed of dogs he had, so remarkable for their courage—he had better wait till the boys had done their Latin lesson. So Furlong was marched back to the drawing-room.

There the younger daughter addressed him with a message from her grandmamma, who wished to have the pleasure of making his acquaintance, and hoped he would pay her a visit. Furlong, of course, was "quite delighted," and "too happy," and the young lady, thereupon, led him to the old lady's apartment.

The old dowager had been a beauty in her youth—one of the belles of the Irish court, and when she heard "a gentleman from Dublin Castle" was in the house she desired to see him. To see any one from the seat of her juvenile joys and triumphs would have given her delight, were it only the coachman that had driven a carriage to a levee or drawing-room; she could ask him about the sentinels at the gate, the entrance-porch, and if the long range of windows yet glittered with lights on St. Patrick's night; but to have a conversation with an official from that seat of government and courtly pleasure was, indeed, something to make her happy.

On Furlong being introduced, the old lady received him very courteously, at the same time with a certain air that betokened she was accustomed to deference. Her commanding figure was habited in a loose morning wrapper, made of grey flannel; but while this gave evidence she studied her personal comfort rather than appearance, a bit of pretty silk handkerchief about the neck, very knowingly displayed, and a becoming ribbon in her cap showed she did not quite neglect her good looks; it did not require a very quick eye to see, besides, a small touch of rouge on the cheek which age had depressed, and the assistance of Indian ink to the eyebrow which time had thinned and faded. A glass filled with flowers stood on the table before her, and a quantity of books lay scattered about; a guitar—not the Spanish instrument now in fashion, but the English one of some eighty years ago, strung with wire and tuned in thirds—hung by a blue ribbon beside her; a corner cupboard, fantastically carved, bore some curious specimens of china on one side of the room; while, in strange discord with what was really scarce and beautiful, the commonest Dutch cuckoo-clock was suspended on the opposite wall; close beside her chair stood a very pretty little Japan table, bearing a looking-glass with numerous drawers framed in the same material; and while Furlong seated himself, the old lady cast a sidelong glance at the mirror, and her withered fingers played with the fresh ribbon.

"You have recently arrived from the Castle, sir, I understand."

"Quite wecently, madam—awived last night."

"I hope his Excellency is well—not that I have the honour of his acquaintance, but I love the Lord Lieutenant—and the aides-de-camps are so nice, and the little pages!—put a marker in that book," said she, in an under-tone, to her granddaughter, "page seventy-four—ah," she resumed in a higher tone, "that reminds me of the Honourable Captain Wriggle, who commanded a seventy-four, and danced with me at the Castle the evening Lady Legge sprained her ankle. By-the-bye, are there any seventy-fours in Dublin now?"

"I wather think," said Furlong, "the bay is not sufficiently deep for line-of-battle ships."

"Oh dear, yes! I have seen quantities of seventy-fours there; though, indeed, I am not quite sure if it wasn't at Splithead. Give me the smelling salts, Charlotte, love; mine does ache indeed! How subject the dear Duchess of Rutland was to headaches; you did not know the Duchess of Rutland?—no, to be sure, what am I thinking of? you're too young; but those were the charming days! You have heard, of course, the duchess's bon mot in reply to the compliment of Lord ——, but I must not mention his name, because there was some scandal about them; but the gentleman said to the duchess—I must tell you she was Isabella, Duchess of Rutland—and he said, 'Isabelle is a belle,' to which the duchess replied, 'Isabelle was a belle.'"

"Vewy neat, indeed!" said Furlong.

"Ah! poor thing," said the dowager, with a sigh, "she was beginning to be a little passee then;" she looked in the glass herself, and added, "Dear me, how pale I am this morning!" and pulling out one of the little drawers from the Japan looking-glass, she took out a pot of rouge and heightened the colour on her cheek. The old lady not only heightened her own colour, but that of the witnesses—of Furlong particularly, who was quite surprised. "Why am I so very pale this morning, Charlotte love?" continued the old lady.

"You sit up so late reading, grandmamma."

"Ah, who can resist the fascination of the muses? You are fond of literature, I hope, sir?"

"Extwemely," replied Furlong.

"As a statesman," continued the old lady—to whom Furlong made a deep obeisance at the word "statesman"—"as a statesman, of course your reading lies in the more solid department; but if you ever do condescend to read a romance, there is the sweetest thing I ever met I am just now engaged in; it is called 'The Blue Robber of the Pink Mountain.' I have not come to the pink mountain yet, but the blue robber is the most perfect character. The author, however, is guilty of a strange forgetfulness; he begins by speaking of the robber as of the middle age, and soon after describes him as a young man. Now, how could a young man be of the middle age?"

"It seems a stwange inaccuwacy," lisped Furlong. "But poets sometimes pwesume on the pwivelege they have of doing what they please with their hewoes."

"Quite true, sir. And talking of heroes, I hope the Knights of St. Patrick are well—I do admire them so much!—'t is so interesting to see their banners and helmets hanging up in St. Patrick's Cathedral, that venerable pile!—with the loud peal of the organ—sublime—isn't it?—the banners almost tremble in the vibration of the air to the loud swell of the 'A-a-a-men!'—the very banners seem to wave 'Amen!' Oh, that swell is so fine!—I think they are fond of swells in the choir; they have a good effect, and some of the young men are so good looking!—and the little boys, too—I suppose they are choristers' children?"

The old lady made a halt, and Furlong filled up the pause by declaring, "He weally couldn't say."

"I hope you admire the service at St. Patrick's?" continued the old lady.

"Ye-s, I think St. Paytwick's a vewy amusing place of wo'ship."

"Amusing," said the old lady, half offended. "Inspiring, you mean; not that I think the sermon interesting, but the anthem!—oh, the anthem, it is so fine!—and the old banners, those are my delight—the dear banners covered with dust!"

"Oh, as far as that goes," said Furlong, "they have impwoved the cathedwal vewy much, fo' they white-washed it inside, and put up noo banners."

"Whitewash and new banners!" exclaimed the indignant dowager; "the Goths! to remove an atom of the romantic dust! I would not have let a house-maid into the place for the world! But they have left the anthem, I hope?"

"Oh, yes; the anthem is continued, but with a small diffewence:—they used to sing the anthem befo' the se'mon, but the people used to go away afte' the anthem and neve' waited fo' the se'mon, and the bishop, who is pwoud of his pweaching, orde'ed the anthem to be postponed till afte' the se'mon."

"Oh, yes," said the old lady, "I remember, now, hearing of that, and some of the wags in Dublin saying the bishop was jealous of old Spray;[16] and didn't somebody write something called 'Pulpit versus Organloft'?"

[16] One of the finest tenors of the last century.

"I cawn't say."

"Well, I am glad you like the cathedral, sir; but I wish they had not dusted the banners; I used to look at them all the time the service went on—they were so romantic! I suppose you go there every Sunday?"

"I go in the summe'," said Furlong; "the place is so cold in the winte'."

"That's true indeed," responded the Dowager, "and it's quite funny, when your teeth are chattering with cold, to hear Spray singing, 'Comfort ye, my people;' but, to be sure, that is almost enough to warm you. You are fond of music, I perceive?"

"Vewy!"

"I play the guitar—(citra—cithra—or lute, as it is called by poets). I sometimes sing, too. Do you know 'The lass with the delicate air'? a sweet ballad of the old school—my instrument once belonged to Dolly Bland, the celebrated Mrs. Jordan now—ah, there, sir, is a brilliant specimen of Irish mirthfulness—what a creature she is! Hand me my lute, child," she said to her granddaughter; and having adjusted the blue ribbon over her shoulder, and twisted the tuning-pegs, and thrummed upon the wires for some time, she made a prelude and cleared her throat to sing "The lass with the delicate air," when the loud whirring of the clock-wheels interrupted her, and she looked up with great delight at a little door in the top of the clock, which suddenly sprang open, and out popped a wooden bird.

"Listen to my bird, sir," said the old lady.

The sound of "cuckoo" was repeated twelve times, the bird popped in again, the little door closed, and the monotonous tick of the clock continued.

"That's my little bird, sir, that tells me secrets; and now, sir, you must leave me; I never receive visits after twelve. I can't sing you 'The lass with the delicate air' to-day, for who would compete with the feathered songsters of the grove? and after my sweet little warbler up there, I dare not venture: but I will sing it for you to-morrow. Good morning, sir. I am happy to have had the honour of making your acquaintance." She bowed Furlong out very politely, and as her granddaughter was following, she said, "My love, you must not forget some seeds for my little bird." Furlong looked rather surprised, for he saw no bird but the one in the clock; the young lady marked his expression, and as she closed the door she said, "You must not mind grandmamma; you know she is sometimes a little queer."

Furlong was now handed over to the boys, to show him over the domain; and they, young imps as they were, knowing he was in no favour with their father, felt they might treat him as ill as they pleased, and quiz him with impunity. The first portion of Furlong's penance consisted in being dragged through dirty stable-yards and out-houses, and shown the various pets of all the parties; dogs, pigeons, rabbits, weasels, et caetera, were paraded, and their qualities expatiated upon, till poor Furlong was quite weary of them, and expressed a desire to see the domain. Horatio, the second boy, whose name was abbreviated to Ratty, told him they must wait for Gusty, who was mending his spear. "We're going to spear for eels," said the boy; "did you ever spear for eels?"

"I should think not," said Furlong, with a knowing smile, who suspected this was intended to be a second edition of quizzing a la mode de saumon.

"You think I'm joking," said the boy, "but it's famous sport, I can tell you; but if you're tired of waiting here, come along with me to the milliner's, and we can wait for Gusty there."

While following the boy, who jumped along to the tune of a jig he was whistling, now and then changing the whistle into a song to the same tune, with very odd words indeed, and a burden of gibberish ending with "riddle-diddle-dow," Furlong wondered what a milliner could have to do in such an establishment, and his wonder was not lessened when his guide added, "The milliner is a queer chap, and maybe he'll tell us something funny."

"Then the milline' is a man?" said Furlong.

"Yes," said the boy, laughing; "and he does not work with needle and thread either."

They approached a small out-house as he spoke, and the sharp clinking of a hammer fell on the ear. Shoving open a rickety door, the boy cried, "Well, Fogy, I've brought a gentleman to see you. This is Fogy, the milliner, sir," said he to Furlong, whose surprise was further increased, when, in the person of the man called the milliner, he beheld a tinker.

"What a strange pack of people I have got amongst," thought Furlong.

The old tinker saw his surprise, and grinned at him. "I suppose it was a nate young woman you thought you'd see when he towld you he'd bring you to the milliner—ha! ha! ha! Oh, they're nate lads, the Master O'Gradys; divil a thing they call by the proper name, at all."

"Yes, we do," said the boy, sharply; "we call ourselves by our proper name. Ha! Fogy, I have you there."

"Divil a taste, as smart as you think yourself, Masther Ratty; you call yourselves gentlemen, and that's not your proper name."

Ratty, who was scraping triangles on the door with a piece of broken brick, at once converted his pencil into a missile, and let fly at the head of the tinker, who seemed quite prepared for such a result, for, raising the kettle he was mending, he caught the shot adroitly, and the brick rattled harmlessly on the tin.

"Ha!" said the tinker, mockingly, "you missed me, like your mammy's blessin';" and he pursued his work.

"What a very odd name he calls you," said Furlong, addressing young O'Grady.

"Ratty," said the boy. "Oh, yes, they call me Ratty, short for Horatio. I was called Horatio after Lord Nelson, because Lord Nelson's father was a clergyman, and papa intends me for the Church."

"And a nate clargy you'll make," said the tinker.

"And why do they call you milline'?" inquired Furlong. The old man looked up and grinned, but said nothing.

"You'll know before long, I'll engage," said Ratty; "won't he, Fogy? You were with old Gran' to-day, weren't you?"

"Yes."

"Did she sing to you 'The lass with the delicate air'?" said the boy, putting himself in the attitude of a person playing the guitar, throwing up his eyes, and mimicking the voice of an old woman—

"So they call'd her, they call'd her, The lass—the lass With a delicate air, De—lick-it—lick-it—lick-it The lass with a de—lick-it air."

The young rascal made frightful mouths, and put out his tongue every time he said "lick-it," and when he had finished, asked Furlong, "Wasn't that the thing?" Furlong told him his grandmamma had been going to sing it, but this pleasure had been deferred till to-morrow.

"Then you did not hear it?" said Ratty.

Furlong answered in the negative.

"Och! murder! murder! I'm sorry I told you."

"Is it so vewy pa'ticula', then?" inquired Furlong.

"Oh, you'll find out that, and more too, if you live long enough," was the answer. Then turning to the tinker, he said, "Have you any milliner work in hand, Fogy?"

"To be sure I have," answered the tinker; "who has so good a right to know that as yourself? Throth, you've little to do, I'm thinkin', when you ax that idle question. Oh, you're nate lads! And would nothin' sarve you but brakin' the weathercock?"

"Oh, 't was such a nice cock-shot; 't was impossible not to have a shy at it," said Ratty, chuckling.

"Oh, you're nice lads!" still chimed in the tinker.

"Besides," said Ratty, "Gusty bet me a bull-dog pup against a rabbit, I could not smash it in three goes."

"Faix, an' he ought to know you betther than that," said the tinker; "for you'd make a fair offer[17] at anything, I think, but an answer to your schoolmasther. Oh, a nate lad you are—a nate lad!—a nice clargy you'll be, your rivirence. Oh, if you hit off the tin commandments as fast as you hit off the tin weathercock, it's a good man you'll be—an' if I never had a headache till then, sure it's happy I'd be!"

[17] A "fair offer" is a phrase amongst the Irish peasantry, meaning a successful aim.

"Hold your prate, old Growly," said Ratty; "and why don't you mend the weathercock?"

"I must mend the kittle first—and a purty kittle you made of it!—and would nothing sarve you but the best kittle in the house to tie to the dog's tail? Ah, Masther Ratty, you're terrible boys, so yiz are!"

"Hold your prate, you old thief!—why wouldn't we amuse ourselves?"

"And huntin' the poor dog, too."

"Well, what matter!—he was a strange dog."

"That makes no differ in the crulety."

"Ah, bother! you old humbug!—who was it blackened the rag-woman's eye?—ha! Fogy—ha! Fogy—dirty Fogy!"

"Go away, Masther Ratty, you're too good, so you are, your rivirince. Faix, I wondher his honour, the Squire, doesn't murdher you sometimes."

"He would, if he could catch us," replied Ratty, "but we run too fast for him, so divil thank him!—and you, too, Fogy,—ha, old Growly! Come along, Mr. Furlong, here's Gusty;—bad scran to you, Fogy!" and he slammed the door as he quitted the tinker.

Gustavus, followed by two younger brothers, Theodore and Godfrey (for O'Grady loved high-sounding names in baptism, though they got twisted into such queer shapes in family use), now led the way over the park towards the river. Some fine timber they passed occasionally; but the axe had manifestly been busy, and the wood seemed thinned rather from necessity than for improvement; the paths were choked with weeds and fallen leaves, and the rank moss added its evidence of neglect. The boys pointed out anything they thought worthy of observation by the way, such as the best places to find a hare, the most covered approach to the river to get a shot at wild ducks, or where the best young wood was to be found from whence to cut a stick. On reaching their point of destination, which was where the river was less rapid, and its banks sedgy and thickly grown with flaggers and bulrushes, the sport of spearing for eels commenced. Gusty first undertook the task, and, after some vigorous plunges of his implement into the water, he brought up the prey, wriggling between its barbed prongs. Furlong was amazed, for he thought this, like the salmon-fishing, was intended as a quiz, and, after a few more examples of Gusty's prowess, he undertook the sport; a short time, however, fatigued his unpractised arm, and he relinquished the spear to Theodore, or Tay, as they called him, and Tay shortly brought up his fish, and thus, one after another, the boys, successful in their sport, soon made the basket heavy.

Then, and not till then, they desired Furlong to carry it; he declared he had no curiosity whatever in that line, but the boys would not let him off so easy, and told him the practice there was, that every one should take his share in the day's sport, and as he could not catch the fish he should carry it. He attempted a parley, and suggested he was only a visitor; but they only laughed at him—said that might be a very good Dublin joke, but it would not pass in the country. He then attempted laughingly to decline the honour; but Ratty, turning round to a monstrous dog, which hitherto had followed them, quietly said, "Here! Bloodybones; here! boy! at him, sir!—make him do his work, boy!" The bristling savage made a low growl, and fixed his eyes on Furlong, who attempted to remonstrate; but he very soon gave that up, for another word from the boys urged the dog to a howl and a crouch, preparatory to a spring, and Furlong made no further resistance, but took up the basket amid the uproarious laughter of the boys, who continued their sport, adding every now and then to the weight of Furlong's load; and whenever he lagged behind, they cried out, "Come along, man-Jack!" which was the complimentary name they called him by for the rest of the day. Furlong thought spearing for eels worse sport than fishing for salmon, and was rejoiced when a turn homeward was taken by the party; but his annoyances were not yet ended. On their return, their route lay across a plank of considerable length, which spanned a small branch of the river; it had no central support, and consequently sprang considerably to the foot of the passenger, who was afforded no protection from handrail, or even a swinging rope, and this rendered its passage difficult to an unpractised person. When Furlong was told to make his way across, he hesitated, and, after many assurances on his part that he could not attempt it, Gusty said he would lead him over in security, and took his hand for the purpose; but when he had him just in the centre, he loosed himself from Furlong's hold, and ran to the opposite side. While Furlong was praying him to return, Ratty stole behind him sufficiently far to have purchase enough on the plank, and began jumping till he made it spring too high for poor Furlong to hold his footing any longer; so squatting on the plank, he got astride upon it, and held on with his hands, every descending vibration of the board dipping his dandy boots in the water.

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