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Handy Andy, Volume One - A Tale of Irish Life, in Two Volumes
by Samuel Lover
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While this dialogue was going forward, several cars were gathered round the place, with a seeming view to hem in Egan's voters, and interrupt their progress to the poll; but the gate of the yard suddenly opened, and the fellows within soon upset the car which impeded their egress, gave freedom to the pigs, who used their liberty in eating the cabbages, while their owner was making cause with his party of O'Gradyites against the outbreak of Egan's men. The affair was not one of importance; the numbers were not sufficient to constitute a good row—it was but a hustling affair, after all, and a slight scrimmage enabled Tom Durfy to head his men in a rush to the poll.

The polling was now prosecuted vigorously on both sides, each party anxious to establish a majority on the first day; and of course the usual practices for facilitating their own, and retarding their opponents' progress were resorted to.

Scatterbrain's party, to counteract the energetic movement of the enemy's voters and Murphy's activity, got up a mode of interruption seldom made use of, but of which they availed themselves on the present occasion. It was determined to put the oath of allegiance to all the Roman Catholics, by which some loss of time to the Eganite party was effected.

This gave rise to odd scenes and answers, occasionally:—some of the fellows did not know what the oath of allegiance meant; some did not know whether there might not be a scruple of conscience against making it; others, indignant at what they felt to be an insulting mode of address, on the part of the person who said to them, in a tone savouring of supremacy—"You're a Roman Catholic?"—would not answer immediately, and gave dogged looks and sometimes dogged answers; and it required address on the part of Egan's agents to make them overcome such feelings, and expedite the work of voting. At last the same herculean fellow who gave O'Grady the fierce answer about the blunderbuss tenure he enjoyed, came up to vote, and fairly bothered the querist with his ready replies, which, purposely, were never to the purpose. The examination ran nearly thus:—

"You're a Roman Catholic?"

"Am I?" said the fellow.

"Are you not?" demanded the agent.

"You say I am," was the answer.

"Come, sir, answer—What's your religion?"

"The thrue religion."

"What religion is that?"

"My religion."

"And what's your religion?"

"My mother's religion."

"And what was your mother's religion?"

"She tuk whisky in her tay."

"Come, now, I'll find you out, as cunning as you are," said the agent, piqued into an encounter of wits with this fellow, whose baffling of every question pleased the crowd.

"You bless yourself, don't you?"

"When I'm done with, I think I ought."

"What place of worship do you go to?"

"The most convaynient."

"But of what persuasion are you?"

"My persuasion is that you won't find it out."

"What is your belief?"

"My belief is that you're puzzled."

"Do you confess?"

"Not to you."

"Come! now I have you. Who would you send for if you were likely to die?"

"Doctor Growlin'."

"Not for the priest?"

"I must first get a messenger."

"Confound your quibbling!—tell me, then, what your opinions are—your conscientious opinions I mean."

"They are the same as my landlord's."

"And what are your landlord's opinions?"

"Faix, his opinion is, that I won't pay him the last half-year's rint; and I'm of the same opinion myself."

A roar of laughter followed this answer, and dumb-foundered the agent for a time; but, angered at the successful quibbling of the sturdy and wily fellow before him, he at last declared, with much severity of manner, that he must have a direct reply. "I insist, sir, on your answering, at once, are you a Roman Catholic?"

"I am," said the fellow.

"And could not you say so at once?" repeated the officer.

"You never axed me," returned the other.

"I did," said the officer.

"Indeed, you didn't. You said I was a great many things, but you never axed me—you wor dhrivin' crass words and cruked questions at me, and I gev you answers to match them, for sure I thought it was manners to cut out my behavor on your patthern."

"Take the oath, sir."

"Where am I to take it to, sir?" inquired the provoking blackguard.

The clerk was desired to "swear him," without further notice being taken of his impertinent answer.

"I hope the oath is not woighty, sir, for my conscience is tindher since the last alibi I swore."

The business of the interior was now suspended for a time by the sounds of fierce tumult which arose from without. Some rushed from the court-house to the platform outside, and beheld the crowd in a state of great excitement, beating back the police, who had been engaged in endeavouring to seize the persons and things which had offended O'Grady; and the police falling back for support on a party of military which O'Grady had prevailed on the sheriff to call out. The sheriff was a weak, irresolute man, and was over-persuaded by such words as "mob" and "riot," and breaches of the peace being about to be committed, if the ruffians were not checked beforehand. The wisdom of preventive measures was preached, and the rest of the hackneyed phrases were paraded, which brazen-faced and iron-handed oppressors are only too familiar with.

The people were now roused, and thoroughly defeated the police, who were forced to fly to the lines of the military party for protection; having effected this object, the crowd retained their position, and did not attempt to assault the soldiers, though a very firm and louring front was presented to them, and shouts of defiance against the "Peelers"[26] rose loud and long.

[26] The name given to the police by the people—the force being first established by Sir Robert Peel, then Mr. Peel, Secretary for Ireland.

"A round of ball cartridge would cool their courage," said O'Grady.

The English officer in command of the party, looking with wonder and reproach upon him, asked if he had the command of the party.

"No, sir;—the sheriff, of course;—but if I were in his place, I'd soon disperse the rascals."

"Did you ever witness the effect of a fusilade, sir?" inquired the officer.

"No, sir," said O'Grady, gruffly; "but I suppose I know pretty well what it is."

"For the sake of humanity, sir, I hope you do not, or I am willing to believe you would not talk so lightly of it; but it is singular how much fonder civilians are of urging measures that end in blood, than those whose profession is arms, and who know how disastrous is their use."

The police were ordered to advance again and seize the "ringleaders:" they obeyed unwillingly; but being saluted with some stones, their individual wrath was excited, and they advanced to chastise the mob, who again drove them back; and a nearer approach to the soldiers was made by the crowd in the scuffle which ensued.

"Now, will you fire?" said O'Grady to the sheriff.

The sheriff, who was a miserable coward, was filled with dread at the threatening aspect of the mob, and wished to have his precious person under shelter before hostilities commenced; so, with pallid lips, and his teeth chattering with fear, he exclaimed:—

"No! no! no!—don't fire—don't fire—don't be precipitate: besides, I haven't read the Riot Act."

"There's no necessity for firing, I should say," said the captain.

"I thought not, captain—I hope not, captain," said the sheriff, who now assumed a humane tone. "Think of the effusion of blood, my dear sir," said he to O'Grady, who was grinning like a fiend all the time—"the sacrifice of human life—I couldn't, sir—I can't, sir—besides, the Riot Act—haven't it about me—must be read, you know, Mister O'Grady."

"Not always," said O'Grady, fiercely.

"But the inquiry is always very strict after, if it is not, sir—I should not like the effusion of human blood, sir, unless the Riot Act was read, and the thing done regularly,—don't think I care for the d——d rascals a button, sir,—only the regularity, you know; and the effusion of human blood is serious, and the inquiry, too, without the Riot Act. Captain, would you oblige me to fall back a little closer round the court-house, and maintain the freedom of election? Besides, the Riot Act is up-stairs in my desk. The court-house must be protected, you know, and I just want to run up-stairs for the Riot Act; I'll be down again in a moment. Captain, do oblige me—draw your men a leetle closer round the court-house."

"I'm in a better position here, sir," said the captain.

"I thought you were under my command, sir," said the sheriff.

"Under your command to fire, sir, but the choice of position rests with me; and we are stronger where we are; the court-house is completely covered, and while my men are under arms here, you may rely on it the crowd is completely in check without firing a shot."

Off ran the sheriff to the court-house.

"You're saving of your gunpowder, I see, sir," said O'Grady to the captain, with a sardonic grin.

"You seem to be equally sparing of your humanity, sir," returned the captain.

"God forbid I should be afraid of a pack of ruffians," said O'Grady.

"Or I of a single one," returned the captain, with a look of stern contempt.

There is no knowing what this bitter bandying of hard words might have led to, had it not been interrupted by the appearance of the sheriff at one of the windows of the court-house; there, with the Riot Act in his hand, he called out:—

"Now I've read it—fire away, boys—fire away!" and all his compunction about the effusion of blood vanished the moment his own miserable carcass was safe from harm. Again he waved the Riot Act from the window, and vociferated, "Fire away, boys!" as loud as his frog-like voice permitted.

"Now, sir, you're ordered to fire," said O'Grady to the captain.

"I'll not obey that order, sir," said the captain; "the man is out of his senses with fear, and I'll not obey such a serious command from a madman."

"Do you dare disobey the orders of the sheriff, sir?" thundered O'Grady.

"I am responsible for my act, sir," said the captain—"seriously responsible; but I will not slaughter unarmed people until I see further and fitter cause."

The sheriff had vanished—he was nowhere to be seen—and O'Grady as a magistrate had now the command. Seeing the cool and courageous man he had to deal with in the military chief, he determined to push matters to such an extremity that he should be forced, in self-defence, to fire. With this object in view he ordered a fresh advance of the police upon the people, and in this third affair matters assumed a more serious aspect; sticks and stones were used with more effect, and the two parties being nearer to each other, the missiles meant only for the police overshot their mark and struck the soldiers, who bore their painful situation with admirable patience.

"Now will you fire, sir?" said O'Grady to the officer.

"If I fire now, sir, I am as likely to kill the police as the people; withdraw your police first, sir, and then I will fire."

This was but reasonable—so reasonable, that even O'Grady, enraged almost to madness as he was, could not gainsay it; and he went forward himself to withdraw the police force. O'Grady's presence increased the rage of the mob, whose blood was now thoroughly up, and as the police fell back they were pressed by the infuriated people, who now began almost to disregard the presence of the military, and poured down in a resistless stream upon them.

O'Grady repeated his command to the captain, who, finding matters thus driven to extremity, saw no longer the possibility of avoiding bloodshed; and the first preparatory word of the fatal order was given, the second on his lips, and the long file of bright muskets flashed in the sun ere they should quench his light for ever to some, and carry darkness to many a heart and hearth, when a young and handsome man, mounted on a noble horse, came plunging and ploughing his way through the crowd, and, rushing between the half-levelled muskets and those who in another instant would have fallen their victims, he shouted in a voice whose noble tone carried to its hearers involuntary obedience, "Stop!—for God's sake, stop!" Then wheeling his horse suddenly round, he charged along the advancing front of the people, plunging his horse fiercely upon them, and waving them back with his hand, enforcing his commands with words as well as actions. The crowd fell back as he pressed upon them with fiery horsemanship unsurpassable by an Arab; and as his dark clustering hair streamed about his noble face, pale from excitement, and with flashing eyes, he was a model worthy of the best days of Grecian art—ay, and he had a soul worthy of the most glorious times of Grecian liberty!

It was Edward O'Connor.

"Fire!" cried O'Grady again.

The gallant soldier, touched by the heroism of O'Connor, and roused by the brutality of O'Grady beyond his patience, in the excitement of the moment, was urged beyond the habitual parlance of a gentleman, and swore vehemently, "I'll be damned if I do! I wouldn't run the risk of shooting that noble fellow for all the magistrates in your county."

O'Connor had again turned round, and rode up to the military party, having heard the word "fire!" repeated.

"For mercy's sake, sir, don't fire, and I pledge you my soul the crowd shall disperse."

"Ay!" cried O'Grady, "they won't obey the laws nor the magistrates; but they'll listen fast enough to a d——d rebel like you."

"Liar and ruffian!" exclaimed Edward. "I'm a better and more loyal subject than you, who provoke resistance to the laws you should make honoured."

At the word "liar," O'Grady, now quite frenzied, attempted to seize a musket from a soldier beside him; and had he succeeded in obtaining possession of it, Edward O'Connor's days had been numbered; but the soldier would not give up his firelock, and O'Grady, intent on immediate vengeance, then rushed upon Edward, and seizing him by the leg, attempted to unhorse him; but Edward was too firm in his seat for this, and a struggle ensued.

The crowd, fearing Edward was about to fall a victim, raised a fierce shout, and were about to advance, when the captain, with admirable presence of mind, seized O'Grady, dragged him away from his hold, and gave freedom to Edward, who instantly used it again to charge the advancing line of the mob, and drive them back.

"Back, boys, back!" he cried, "don't give your enemies a triumph by being disorderly. Disperse—retire into houses, let nothing tempt you to riot—collect round your tally-rooms, and come up quietly to the polling—and you will yet have a peaceful triumph."

The crowd, obeying, gave three cheers for "Ned-o'-the-Hill," and the dense mass, which could not be awed, and dreaded not the engines of war, melted away before the breath of peace.

As they retired on one side, the soldiers were ordered to their quarters on the other, while their captain and Edward O'Connor stood in the midst; but ere they separated, these two, with charity in their souls, waved their hands towards each other in token of amity, and parted, verily, in friendship.



CHAPTER XX

After the incidents just recorded, of course great confusion and excitement existed, during which O'Grady was forced back into the court-house in a state bordering on insanity. Inflamed as his furious passions had been to the top of their bent, and his thirst of revenge still remaining unslaked, foiled in all his movements, and flung back as it were into the seething cauldron of his own hellish temper, he was a pitiable sight, foaming at the mouth like a wild animal, and uttering the most horrid imprecations. On Edward O'Connor principally his curses fell, with denunciations of immediate vengeance, and the punishment of dismissal from the service was prophesied on oath for the English captain. The terrors of a court-martial gleamed fitfully through the frenzied mind of the raving Squire for the soldier; and for O'Connor, instant death at his own hands was his momentary cry.

"Find the rascal for me," he exclaimed, "that I may call him out and shoot him like a dog—yes, by ——, a dog—a dog; I'm disgraced while he lives—I wish the villain had three lives that I might take them all at once—all—all!" and he stretched out his hands as he spoke, and grasped at the air as if in imagination he clutched the visionary lives his bloodthirsty wishes conjured up.

Edward, as soon as he saw the crowd dispersed, returned to the hustings and sought Dick Dawson, that he might be in readiness to undertake, on his part, the arrangement of the hostile meeting, to which he knew he should be immediately called. "Let it be over, my dear Dick, as soon as possible," said Edward; "it's not a case in which delay can be of any service; the insult was mortal between us, and the sooner expiated by a meeting the better."

"Don't be so agitated, Ned," said Dick; "fair and easy, man—fair and easy—keep yourself cool."

"Dear Dick—I'll be cool on the ground, but not till then—I want the meeting over before my father hears of the quarrel; I'm his only child, Dick, and you know how he loves me!"

He wrung Dick's hand as he spoke, and his eye glistened with tenderness; but with the lightning quickness of thought all gentle feeling vanished as he saw Scatterbrain struggling his way towards him, and read in his eye the purport of his approach. He communicated to Edward his object in seeking him, and was at once referred to Dawson, who instantly retired with him and arranged an immediate meeting. This was easily done, as they had their pistols with them since the duel in the morning; and if there be those who think it a little too much of a good thing to have two duels in one day, pray let them remember it was election time, and even in sober England that period often gives rise to personalities which call for the intervention of the code of honour. Only in Ireland the thing is sooner over. We seldom have three columns of a newspaper filled with notes on the subject, numbered from 1 to 25.[27] Gentleman don't consider whether it is too soon or too late to fight, or whether a gentleman is perfectly entitled to call him out or not. The title in Ireland is generally considered sufficient in the will to do it, and few there would wait for the poising of a very delicately balanced scale of etiquette before going to the ground; they would be more likely to fight first, and leave the world to argue about the niceties after.

[27] Just such a lengthy correspondence had appeared in the London journals when the first edition of this book was published.

In the present instance a duel was unavoidable, and it was to be feared a mortal one, for deadly insult had been given on both sides.

The rumour of the hostile meeting flew like wildfire through the town, and when the parties met in a field about a quarter of a mile beyond the bridge, an anxious crowd was present. The police were obliged to be in strong force on the ground to keep back the people, who were not now, as an hour before, in the town, in uproarious noise and action, but still as death; not a murmur was amongst them; the excitement of love for the noble young champion, whose life was in danger for his care of them, held them spell-bound in a tranquillity almost fearful.

The aspect of the two principals was in singular contrast. On the one side a man burning for revenge, who, to use a common but terrible parlance, desired to "wash out the dishonour put upon him in blood." The other was there, regretting that cause existed for the awful arbitrament, and only anxious to defend his own, not take another's life. To sensitive minds the reaction is always painful of having insulted another, when the excitement is over which prompted it. When the hot blood which inflamed the brain runs in cooler currents, the man of feeling always regrets, if he does not reproach himself with, having urged his fellow-man to break the commandments of the Most High, and deface, perhaps annihilate, the form that was moulded in His image. The words "liar and ruffian" haunted Edward's mind reproachfully; but then the provocation—"rebel!"—no gentleman could brook it. Because his commiseration for a people had endeared him to them, was he to be called "rebel"? Because, at the risk of his own life, he had preserved perhaps scores, and prevented an infraction of the law, was he to be called "rebel"? He stood acquitted before his own conscience:—after all, the most terrible bar before which he can be called in this world.

The men were placed upon their ground, and the word to fire given. O'Grady, in his desire for vengeance, deliberately raised his pistol with deadly aim, and Edward was thus enabled to fire first, yet with such cool precision, that his shot took effect as he intended; O'Grady's arm was ripped up from the wrist to the elbow; but so determined was his will, and so firm his aim, that the wound, severe as it was, produced but a slight twitch in his hand, which threw it up slightly, and saved Edward's life, for the ball passed through his hat just above his head.

O'Grady's arm instantly after dropped to his side, the pistol fell from his hand, and he staggered, for the pain of the wound was extreme. His second ran to his assistance.

"It is only in the arm," said O'Grady, firmly, though his voice was changed by the agony he suffered; "give me another pistol."

Dick at the same moment was beside Edward.

"You're not touched," he said.

Edward coolly pointed to his hat.

"Too much powder," said Dick; "I thought so when his pistols were loaded."

"No," said Edward, "it was my shot; I saw his hand twitch."

Scatterbrain demanded of Dick another shot on the part of O'Grady.

"By all means," was the answer, and he handed a fresh pistol to Edward. "To give the devil his due," said Dick, "he has great pluck, for you hit him hard—see how pale he looks—I don't think he can hurt you much this time—but watch him well, my dear Ned."

The seconds withdrew; but with all O'Grady's desperate courage, he could not lift the pistol with his right arm, which, though hastily bound in a handkerchief, was bleeding profusely, and racked with torture. On finding his right hand powerless, such was his unflinching courage, that he took the pistol in his left; this of course impaired his power of aim, and his nerve was so shattered by his bodily suffering, that his pistol was discharged before coming to the level, and Edward saw the sod torn up close beside his foot. He then, of course, fired in the air. O'Grady would have fallen but for the immediate assistance of his friends; he was led from the ground and placed in a carriage, and it was not until Edward O'Connor mounted his horse to ride away, that the crowd manifested their feelings. Then three tremendous cheers arose; and the shouts of their joy and triumph reached the wounded man as he was driven slowly from the ground.



CHAPTER XXI

The Widow Flanagan had long ago determined that, whenever the election should take place, she would take advantage of the great influx of visitors that event would produce, and give a grand party. Her preparations were all made to secure a good muster of her country friends, when once the day of nomination was fixed; and after the election began, she threw out all her hooks and lines in every direction, to catch every straggler worth having, whom the election brought into the town. It required some days to do this; and it was not until the eve of the fifth, that her house was turned upside down and inside out for the reception of the numerous guests whose company she expected.

The toil of the day's election was over; the gentlemen had dined and refreshed themselves with creature comforts; the vicissitudes, and tricks, and chances of the last twelve hours were canvassed—when the striking of many a clock, or the consultation of the pocket-dial, warned those who were invited to Mrs. O'Flanagan's party, that it was time to wash off the dust of the battle-field from their faces, and mount fresh linen and cambric. Those who were pleased to call themselves "good fellows" declared for "another bottle;" the faint-hearted swore that an autograph invitation from Venus herself to the heathen Olympus, with nectar and ambrosia for tea and bread-and-butter, could not tempt them from the Christian enjoyment of a feather-bed after the fag of such a day; but the preux chevaliers—those who did deserve to win a fair lady—shook off sloth and their morning trousers, and taking to tights and activity, hurried to the party of the buxom widow.

The widow was in her glory; hospitable, she enjoyed receiving her friends,—mirthful, she looked forward to a long night of downright sport,—coquettish, she would have good opportunity of letting Tom Durfy see how attractive she was to the men,—while from the women her love of gossip and scandal (was there ever a lady in her position without it?) would have ample gratification in the accumulated news of the county of twenty miles round. She had but one large room at her command, and that was given up to the dancing; and being cleared of tables, chairs, and carpet, could not be considered by Mrs. Flanagan as a proper reception-room for her guests, who were, therefore, received in a smaller apartment, where tea and coffee, toast and muffins, ladies and gentlemen, were all smoking-hot together, and the candles on the mantel-piece trickling down rivulets of fat in the most sympathetic manner, under the influence of the gentle sighing of a broken pane of glass, which the head of an inquiring youth in the street had stove in, while flattening his nose against it in the hope of getting a glimpse of the company through the opening in the window-curtain.

At last, when the room could hold no more, the company were drafted off to the dancing-room, which had only long deal forms placed against the wall to rest the weary after the exertions of the jig. The aforesaid forms, by-the-bye, were borrowed from the chapel; the old wigsby who had the care of them for some time doubted the propriety of the sacred property being put to such a profane use, until the widow's arguments convinced him it was quite right, after she had given him a tenpenny-piece. As the dancing-room could not boast of a lustre, the deficiency was supplied by tin sconces hung against the wall; for ormulu branches are not expected to be plenty in the provinces. But let the widow be heard for herself, as she bustled through her guests and caught a critical glance at her arrangements: "What's that you're faulting now?—is it my deal seats without cushions? Ah! you're a lazy Larry, Bob Larkin. Cock you up with a cushion indeed! if you sit the less, you'll dance the more. Ah, Matty, I see you're eyeing my tin sconces there; well, sure they have them at the county ball, when candlesticks are scarce, and what would you expect grander from a poor lone woman? besides, we must have plenty of lights, or how could the beaux see the girls?—though I see, Harry Cassidy, by your sly look, that you think they look as well in the dark—ah! you divil!" and she slapped his shoulder as she ran past. "Ah! Mister Murphy, I'm delighted to see you; what kept you so late?—the election to be sure. Well, we're beating them, ain't we? Ah! the old country for ever. I hope Edward O'Connor will be here. Come, begin the dance; there's the piper and the fiddler in the corner as idle as a mile-stone without a number. Tom Durfy, don't ask me to dance, for I'm engaged for the next four sets."

"Oh! but the first to me," said Tom.

"Ah! yis, Tom, I was; but then, you know, I couldn't refuse the stranger from Dublin, and the English captain that will be there by-and-by; he's a nice man, too, and long life to him, wouldn't fire on the people the other day; I vow to the Virgin, all the women in the room ought to kiss him when he comes in. Ah, doctor! there you are; there's Mrs. Gubbins in the corner dying to have a chat with you; go over to her. Who's that taazing the piano there? Ah! James Reddy, it's you, I see. I hope it's in tune; 't is only four months since the tuner was here. I hope you've a new song for us, James. The tuner is so scarce, Mrs. Riley, in the country—not like Dublin; but we poor country people, you know, must put up with what we can get; not like you citizens, who has lashings of luxuries as easy as peas." Then, in a confidential whisper, she said, "I hope your daughter has practised the new piece well to-day, for I couldn't be looking after her, you know, to-day, being in such a bustle with my party; I was just like a dog in a fair, in and out everywhere; but I hope she's perfect in the piece;" then, still more confidentially, she added, "for he's here—ah! I wish it was, Mrs. Riley;" then, with a nod and a wink, off she rattled through the room with a word for everybody.

The Mrs. Riley, to whom she was so confidential, was a friend from Dublin, an atrociously vulgar woman, with a more vulgar daughter, who were on a visit with Mrs. Flanagan. The widow and the mother thought Murtough Murphy would be a good speculation for the daughter to "cock her cap at" (to use their own phrase), and with this view the visit to the country was projected. But matters did not prosper; Murphy was not much of a marrying man; and if ever he might be caught in the toils of Hymen, some frank, joyous, unaffected, dashing girl would have been the only one likely to serve a writ on the jovial attorney's heart. Now, Miss Riley was, to use Murtough Murphy's own phrase, "a batch of brass and a stack of affectation," and the airs she attempted to play off on the country folk (Murphy in particular) only made her an object for his mischievous merriment; as an example, we may as well touch on one little incident en passant.

The widow had planned one day a walking party to a picturesque ruin, not far from the town, and determined that Murphy should give his arm to Miss Riley; for the party was arranged in couples, with a most deadly design on the liberty of the attorney. At the appointed hour all had arrived but Murphy; the widow thought it a happy chance, so she hurried off the party, leaving Miss Riley to wait and follow under his escort. In about a quarter of an hour he came, having met the widow in the street, who sent him back for Miss Riley. Now Murtough saw the trap which was intended for him, and thought it fair to make what fun he could of the affair, and being already sickened by various disgusting exhibitions of the damsel's affectation, he had the less scruple of "taking her down a peg," as he said himself.

When Murtough reached the house and asked for Miss Riley, he was ushered into the little drawing-room; and there was that very full-blown young lady, on a chair before the fire, her left foot resting on the fender, her right crossed over it, and her body thrown back in a reclining attitude, with a sentimental droop of the head over a greasy novel: her figure was rather developed by her posture, indeed more so than Miss Riley quite intended, for her ankles were not unexceptionable, and the position of her feet revealed rather more. A bonnet and green veil lay on the hearth-rug, and her shawl hung over the handle of the fire-shovel. When Murphy entered, he was received with a faint "How d' do?"

"Pretty well, I thank you—how are you?" said Murphy, in his rollicking tone.

"Oh! Miste' Murphy, you are so odd."

"Odd, am I—how am I odd?"

"Oh! so odd."

"Well, you'd better put on your bonnet and come walk, and we can talk of my oddity after."

"Oh, indeed, I cawn't walk."

"Can't walk!" exclaimed Murphy. "Why can't you walk? I was sent for you."

"'Deed I cawn't."

"Ah, now!" said Murphy, giving her a little tender poke of his forefinger on the shoulder.

"Don't, Mister Murphy, pray don't."

"But why won't you walk?"

"I'm too delicate."

Murphy uttered a very long "Oh!!!!!"

"'Deed I am, Miste' Murphy, though you may disbelieve it."

"Well—a nice walk is the best thing in the world for the health. Come along!"

"Cawn't indeed; a gentle walk on a terrace, or a shadowy avenue, is all very well—the Rotunda Gardens, for instance."

"Not forgetting the military bands that play there," said Murphy, "together with the officers of all the barracks in Dublin, clinking their sabres at their heels along the gravel walks, all for the small charge of a fi'penny bit."

Miss Riley gave a reproachful look and shrug at the vulgar mention of a "fi'penny bit," which Murphy purposely said to shock her "Brummagem gentility."

"How can you be so odd, Miste' Murphy?" she said. "I don't joke, indeed; a gentle walk—I repeat it—is all very well; but these horrid rough country walks—these masculine walks, I may say—are not consistent with a delicate frame like mine."

"A delicate frame!" said Murtough. "'Faith, I'll tell you what it is, Miss Riley," said he, standing bolt upright before her, plunging his hands into his pockets, and fixing his eyes on her feet, which still maintained their original position on the fender—"I'll tell you what it is, Miss Riley; by the vartue of my oath, if your other leg is a match for the one I see, the divil a harm a trot from this to Dublin would do you!"

Miss Riley gave a faint scream, and popped her legs under her chair, while Murphy ran off in a shout of laughter, and joined the party, to whom he made no secret of his joke.

But all this did not damp Miss Riley's hopes of winning him. She changed her plan; and seeing he did not bow to what she considered the supremacy of her very elegant manners, she set about feigning at once admiration and dread of him. She would sometimes lift her eyes to Murtough with a languishing expression, and declare she never knew any one she was so afraid of; but even this double attack on his vanity could not turn Murphy's flank, and so a very laughable flirtation went on between them, he letting her employ all the enginery of her sex against him, with a mischievous enjoyment in her blindness at not seeing she was throwing away her powder and shot.

But to return to the party; a rattling country dance called out at once the energies of the piper, the fiddler, and the ladies and gentlemen, and left those who had more activity in their heads than their heels to sit on the forms in the background and exercise their tongues in open scandal of their mutual friends and acquaintances under cover of the music, which prevented the most vigorous talker from being heard further than his or her next-door neighbour. Dr. Growling had gone over to Mrs. Gubbins', as desired, and was buried deep in gossip.

"What an extraordinary affair that was about Miss O'Grady, doctor."

"Very, ma'am."

"In the man's bed she was, I hear."

"So the story goes, ma'am."

"And they tell me, doctor, that when her father, that immaculate madman—God keep us from harm!—said to poor Mrs. O'Grady, in a great rage, 'Where have you brought up your daughters to go to, ma'am?' said he; and she, poor woman, said, 'To church, my dear,' thinking it was the different religion the Saracen was after; so, says he, 'Church, indeed! there's the church she's gone to, ma'am,' says he, turning down a quilted counterpane."

"Are you sure it was not Marseilles, ma'am?" said the doctor.

"Well, whatever it was, 'There's the church she is in,' says he, pulling her out of the bed."

"Out of the bed?" repeated the doctor.

"Out of the bed, sir!"

"Then her church was in the Diocese of Down," said the doctor.

"That's good, docthor—indeed, that's good. 'She was caught in bed,' says I; and 'It's the diocese of Down,' says you: 'faith, that's good. I wish the diocese was your own; for you're funny enough to be a bishop, docthor, you lay howld of everything."

"That's a great qualification for a mitre, ma'am," said the doctor.

"And the poor young man that has got her is not worth a farthing, I hear, docthor."

"Then he must be the curate, ma'am; though I don't think it's a chapel of ease he has got into."

"Oh! what a tongue you have, docthor," said she, laughing; "'faith you'll kill me."

"That's my profession, ma'am. I am a licentiate of the Royal College; but, unfortunately for me, my humanity is an overmatch for my science. Phrenologically speaking, my benevolence is large, and my destructiveness and acquisitiveness small."

"Ah, there you go off on another tack; and what a funny new thing that is you talk of!—that free knowledge or crow-knowledge, or whatever sort of knowledge you call it. And there's one thing I want to ask you about: there's a bump the ladies have, the gentlemen always laugh at, I remark."

"That's very rude of them, ma'am," said the doctor drily. "Is it in the anterior region, or the——"

"Docthor, don't talk queer."

"I'm only speaking scientifically, ma'am."

"Well, I think your scientific discourse is only an excuse for saying impudent things; I mean the back of their heads."

"I thought so, ma'am."

"They call it—dear me, I forget—something—motive—motive—it's Latin—but I am no scholard, docthor."

"That's manifest, ma'am."

"But a lady is not bound to know Latin, docthor."

"Certainly not, ma'am—nor any other language except that of the eyes."

Now, this was a wicked hit of the doctor's, for Mrs. Gubbins squinted frightfully; but Mrs. Gubbins did not know that, so she went on.

"The bump I mean, docthor, is motive something—motive—motive—I have it!—motive-ness."

"Now, I know what you mean," said the doctor; "amativeness."

"That's it," said Mrs. Gubbins; "they call it number one, sometimes; I suppose amativeness is Latin for number one. Now, what does that bump mean?"

"Ah, madam," said the doctor, puzzled for a moment to give an explanation; but in a few seconds he answered, "That's a beautiful provision of nature. That, ma'am, is the organ which makes your sex take compassion on ours."[28]

[28] This very ingenious answer was really given by an Irish professor to an over-inquisitive lady.

"Wonderful!" said Mrs. Gubbins; "but how good nature is in giving us provision! and I don't think there is a finer provision county in Ireland than this."

"Certainly not, ma'am," said the doctor;—but the moment Mrs. Gubbins began to speak of provisions, he was sure she would get into a very solid discourse about her own farms; so he left his seat beside her and went over to Mrs. Riley, to see what fun could be had in that quarter.

Her daughter was cutting all sorts of barefaced capers about the room, "astonishing the natives," as she was pleased to say; and Growling was looking on in amused wonder at this specimen of vulgar effrontery, whom he had christened "The Brazen Baggage" the first time he saw her.

"You are looking at my daughter, sir," said the delighted mother.

"Yes, ma'am," said the doctor, profoundly.

"She's very young, sir."

"She'll mend of that, ma'am. We were young once ourselves."

This was not very agreeable to the mother, who dressed rather in a juvenile style.

"I mean, sir, that you must excuse any little awkwardness about her—that all arises out of timidity—she was lost with bashfulness till I roused her out of it—but now I think she is beginning to have a little self-possession."

The doctor was amused, and took a large pinch of snuff; he enjoyed the phase "beginning to have a little self-possession" being applied to the most brazen baggage he ever saw.

"She's very accomplished, sir," continued the mother. "Mister Jew-val (Duval) taitches her dancin', and Musha Dunny-ai (Mons. Du Noyer)[29] French. Misther Low-jeer (Logier) hasn't the like of her in his academy on the pianya; and as for the harp, you'd think she wouldn't lave a sthring in it."

[29] My own worthy and excellent master, to whom I gladly pay this tribute of kindly remembrance.

"She must be a treasure to her teachers, ma'am," said the doctor.

"'Faith, you may well say threasure, it costs handfuls o' money; but sure, while there's room for improvement, every apartment must be attended to, and the vocal apartment is filled by Sir John—fifteen shillin's a lesson, no less."

"What silvery tones she ought to bring out, ma'am, at that rate!"

"'Faith, you may say that, sir. It's coining, so it is, with them tip-top men, and ruins one a'most to have a daughter; every shake I get out of her is to the tune of a ten-poun' note, at least. You shall hear her by-and-by; the minit the dancin' is over, she shall sing you the 'Bewildhered Maid.' Do you know the 'Bewildhered Maid,' sir?"

"I haven't the honour of her acquaintance, ma'am," said the doctor.

The dancing was soon over, and the mother's threat put into execution. Miss Riley was led over to the piano by the widow, with the usual protestations that she was hoarse. It took some time to get the piano ready, for an extensive clearance was to be made from it of cups and saucers, and half-empty glasses of negus, before it could be opened; then, after various thrummings and hummings and hawings, the "Bewildhered Maid" made her appearance in the wildest possible manner, and the final shriek was quite worthy of a maniac. Loud applause followed, and the wriggling Miss Riley was led from the piano by James Reddy, who had stood at the back of her chair, swaying backward and forward to the music, with a maudlin expression of sentiment on his face, and a suppressed exclamation of "B-u-tiful!" after every extra shout from the young lady.

Growling listened with an expression of as much dissatisfaction as if he had been drinking weak punch.

"I see you don't like that," said the widow to him, under her breath; "ah, you're too hard, doctor—consider she sung out of good-nature."

"I don't know if it was out of good-nature," said he; "but I am sure it was out of tune."



James Reddy led back Miss Riley to her mamma, who was much delighted with the open manifestations of "the poet's" admiration.

"She ought to be proud, sir, of your conjunction, I'm sure. A poet like you, sir!—what beautiful rhymes them wor you did on the 'lection."

"A trifle, ma'am—a mere trifle—a little occasional thing."

"Oh! but them two beautiful lines—

"We tread the land that bore us Our green flag glitters o'er us!"

"They are only a quotation, ma'am," said Reddy.

"Oh, like every man of true genius, sir, you try and undervalue your own work; but call them lines what you like, to my taste they are the most beautiful lines in the thing you done."

Reddy did not know what to answer, and his confusion was increased by catching old Growling's eye, who was chuckling at the mal-a-propos speech of the flourishing Mrs. Riley.

"Don't you sing yourself, sir?" said that lady.

"To be sure he does," cried the Widow Flanagan; "and he must give us one of his own."

"Oh!"

"No excuses; now, James!"

"Where's Duggan?" inquired the poetaster, affectedly; "I told him to be here to accompany me."

"I attend your muse, sir," said a miserable structure of skin and bone, advancing with a low bow and obsequious smile: this was the poor music-master, who set Reddy's rhymes to music as bad, and danced attendance on him everywhere.

The music-master fumbled over a hackneyed prelude to show his command of the instrument.

Miss Riley whispered to her mamma that it was out of one of her first books of lessons.

Mrs. Flanagan, with a seductive smirk, asked, "what he was going to give them?" The poet replied, "a little thing of his own—'Rosalie; or, the Broken Heart,'—sentimental, but rather sad."

The musical skeleton rattled his bones against the ivory in a very one, two, three, four symphony; the poet ran his fingers through his hair, pulled up his collar, gave his head a jaunty nod, and commenced:

ROSALIE;

OR, THE BROKEN HEART.

Fare thee—fare thee well—alas! Fare—farewell to thee! On pleasure's wings, as dew-drops fade, Or honey stings the bee, My heart is as sad as a black stone Under the blue sea. Oh, Rosalie! Oh, Rosalie!

As ruder rocks with envy glow, Thy coral lips to see, So the weeping waves more briny grow With my salt tears for thee! My heart is as sad as a black stone Under the blue sea. Oh, Rosalie! Oh, Rosalie!

After this brilliant specimen of the mysteriously-sentimental and imaginative school was sufficiently applauded, dancing was recommenced, and Reddy seated himself beside Mrs. Riley, the incense of whose praise was sweet in his nostrils. "Oh, you have a soul for poetry indeed, sir," said the lady. "I was bewildered with all your beautiful idays; that 'honey stings the bee' is a beautiful iday—so expressive of the pains and pleasures of love. Ah! I was the most romantic creature myself once, Mister Reddy, though you wouldn't think it now; but the cares of the world and a family takes the shine out of us. I remember when the men used to be making hats in my father's establishment—for my father was the most extensive hatter in Dublin—I don't know if you knew my father was a hatter; but you know, sir, manufactures must be followed, and that's no reason why people shouldn't enjoy po'thry and refinement. Well, I was going to tell you how romantic I was, and when the men were making the hats—I don't know whether you ever saw them making hats——"

Reddy declared he never did.

"Well, it's like the witches round the iron pot in Macbeth; did you ever see Kemble in Macbeth? Oh! he'd make your blood freeze, though the pit is so hot you wouldn't have a dhry rag on you. But to come to the hats. When they're making them, they have hardly any crown to them at all, and they are all with great sprawling wide flaps to them; well, the moment I clapt my eyes on one of them, I thought of a Spanish nobleman directly, with his slouched hat and black feathers like a hearse. Yes, I assure you, the broad hat always brought to my mind a Spanish noble or an Italian noble (that would do as well, you know), or a robber or a murderer, which is all the same thing."

Reddy could not conceive a hat manufactory as a favourable nursery for romance; but as the lady praised his song, he listened complacently to her hatting.

"And that's another beautiful iday, sir," continued the lady, "where you make the rocks jealous of each other—that's so beautiful to bring in a bit of nature into a metaphysic that way."

"You flatter me, ma'am," said Reddy; "but if I might speak of my own work—that is, if a man may ever speak of his own work——"

"And why not, sir?" asked Mrs. Riley, with a business-like air; "who has so good a right to speak of the work as the man who done it, and knows what's in it?"

"That's a very sensible remark of yours, ma'am, and I will therefore take leave to say, that the idea I am proudest of, is the dark and heavy grief of the heart being compared to a black stone, and its depth of misery implied by the sea."

"Thrue for you," said Mrs. Riley; "and the blue sea—ah! that didn't escape me; that's an elegant touch—the black stone and the blue sea; and black and blue, such a beautiful conthrast!"

"I own," said Reddy, "I attempted, in that, the bold and daring style of expression which Byron has introduced."

"Oh, he's a fine pote certainly, but he's not moral, sir; and I'm afeard to let my daughter read such combustibles."

"But he's grand," said Reddy; "for instance—

'She walks in beauty like the night.'

How fine!"

"But how wicked!" said Mrs. Riley. "I don't like that night-walking style of poetry at all, so say no more about it; we'll talk of something else. You admire music, I'm sure."

"I adore it, ma'am."

"Do you like the piano?"

"Oh, ma'am! I could live under a piano."

"My daughter plays the piano beautiful."

"Charmingly."

"Oh, but if you heerd her play the harp, you'd think she wouldn't lave a sthring on it" (this was Mrs. Riley's favourite bit of praise); "and a beautiful harp it is, one of Egan's double action, all over goold, and cost eighty guineas; Miss Cheese chuse it for her. Do you know Miss Cheese? she's as plump as a partridge, with a voice like a lark; she sings elegant duets. Do you ever sing duets?"

"Not often."

"Ah! if you could hear Pether Dowling sing duets with my daughter! he'd make the hair stand straight on your head with the delight. Oh, he's a powerful singer! you never heerd the like; he runs up and down as fast as a lamplighter;—and the beautiful turns he gives; oh! I never heerd any one sing a second like Pether. I declare he sings a second to that degree that you'd think it was the first, and never at a loss for a shake; and then off he goes in a run that you'd think he'd never come back; but he does bring it back into the tune again with as nate a fit as a Limerick glove. Oh! I never heerd a singer like Pether!!!"

There is no knowing how much more Mrs. Riley would have said about "Pether," if the end of the dance had not cut her eloquence short by permitting the groups of dancers, as they promenaded, to throw in their desultory discourse right and left, and so break up anything like a consecutive conversation.

But let it not be supposed that all Mrs. Flanagan's guests were of the Gubbins and Riley stamp. There were some of the better class of the country people present; intelligence and courtesy in the one sex, and gentleness and natural grace in the other, making a society not to be ridiculed in the mass, though individual instances of folly and ignorance and purse-proud effrontery were amongst it.

But to Growling every phase of society afforded gratification; and while no one had a keener relish for such scenes as the one in which we have just witnessed him, the learned and the courteous could be met with equal weapons by the doctor when he liked.

Quitting the dancing-room, he went into the little drawing-room, where a party of a very different stamp was engaged in conversation. Edward O'Connor and the "dear English captain," as Mrs. Flanagan called him, were deep in an interesting discussion about the relative practices in Ireland and England on the occasions of elections and trials, and most other public events; and O'Connor and two or three listeners—amongst whom was a Mr. Monk, whose daughters, remarkably nice girls, were of the party—were delighted with the feeling tone in which the Englishman spoke of the poorer classes of Irish, and how often the excesses into which they sometimes fell were viewed through an exaggerated or distorted medium, and what was frequently mere exuberance of spirit pronounced and punished as riot.

"I never saw a people over whom those in authority require more good temper," remarked the captain.

"Gentleness goes a long way with them," said Edward.

"And violence never succeeds," added Mr. Monk.

"You are of opinion, then," said the soldier, "they are not to be forced?"

"Except to do what they like," chimed in Growling.

"That's a very Irish sort of coercion," said the captain, smiling.

"And therefore fit for Irishmen," said Growling; "and I never knew an intelligent Englishman yet, who came to Ireland, who did not find it out. Paddy has a touch of the pig in him—he won't be driven; but you may coax him a long way: or if you appeal to his reason—for he happens to have such a thing about him—you may persuade him into what is right if you take the trouble."

"By Jove!" said the captain, "it is not easy to argue with Paddy; the rascals are so ready with quip, and equivoque, and queer answers, that they generally get the best of it in talk, however fallacious may be their argument; and when you think you have Pat in a corner and escape is inevitable, he's off without your knowing how he slipped through your fingers."

When the doctor joined the conversation, Edward, knowing his powers, gave up the captain into his hands and sat down by the side of Miss Monk, who had just entered from the dancing-room, and retired to a chair in the corner.

She and Edward soon got engaged in a conversation particularly interesting to him. She spoke of having lately met Fanny Dawson, and was praising her in such terms of affectionate admiration, that Edward hung upon every word with delight. I know not if Miss Monk was aware of Edward's devotion in that quarter before, but she could not look upon the bland though somewhat sad smile which arched his expressive mouth, and the dilated eye which beamed as her praises were uttered, without being then conscious that Fanny Dawson had made him captive.

She was pleased, and continued the conversation with that inherent pleasure a woman has in touching a man's heart, even though it be not on her own account; and it was done with tact and delicacy which only women possess, and which is so refined that the rougher nature of man is insensible of its drift and influence, and he is betrayed by a net whose meshes are too fine for his perception. Edward O'Connor never dreamt that Miss Monk saw he was in love with the subject of their discourse. While they were talking, the merry hostess entered; and the last words the captain uttered fell upon her ear, and then followed a reply from Growling, saying that Irishmen were as hard to catch as quicksilver. "Ay, and as hard to keep as any other silver," said the widow; "don't believe what these wild Irish fellows tell you of themselves, they are all mad divils alike—you steady Englishmen are the safe men—and the girls know it. And 'faith, if you try them," added she, laughing, "I don't know any one more likely to have luck with them than yourself; for, 'pon my conscience, captain, we all doat on you since you would not shoot the people the other day."

There was a titter among the girls at this open avowal.

"Ah, why wouldn't I say it?" exclaimed she, laughing. "I am not a mealy-mouthed miss; sure I may tell truth; and I wouldn't trust one o' ye," she added, with a very significant nod of the head at the gentlemen, "except the captain. Yes—I'd trust one more—I'd trust Mister O'Connor; I think he really could be true to a woman."

The words fell sweetly upon his ear; the expression of trust in his faith at that moment, even from the laughing widow, was pleasing; for his heart was full of the woman he adored, and it was only by long waiting and untiring fidelity she could ever become his.

He bowed courteously to the compliment the hostess paid him; and she, immediately taking advantage of his acknowledgment, said that after having paid him such a pretty compliment he couldn't refuse her to sing a song. Edward never liked to sing in mixed companies, and was about making some objections, when the widow interrupted him with one of those Irish "Ah, now's," so hard to resist. "Besides, all the noisy pack are in the dancing-room, or indeed I wouldn't ask you; and here there's not one won't be charmed with you. Ah, look at Miss Monk, there—I know she's dying to hear you; and see all the ladies hanging on your lips absolutely. Can you refuse me after that, now?"

It was true that in the small room where they sat there were only those who were worthy of better things than Edward would have ventured on to the many; and filled with the tender and passionate sentiment his conversation with Miss Monk had awakened, one of those effusions of deep, and earnest, and poetic feeling which love had prompted to his muse rose to his lips, and he began to sing.

All were silent, for the poet singer was a favourite, and all knew with what touching expression he gave his compositions; but now the mellow tones of his voice seemed to vibrate with a feeling in more than common unison with the words, and his dark earnest eyes beamed with a devotion of which she who was the object might be proud.

A LEAF THAT REMINDS OF THEE

I

How sweet is the hour we give, When fancy may wander free, To the friends who in memory live!— For then I remember thee! Then wing'd, like the dove from the ark, My heart, o'er a stormy sea, Brings back to my lonely bark A leaf that reminds of thee!

II

But still does the sky look dark, The waters still deep and wide; Oh! when may my lonely bark In peace on the shore abide? But through the future far, Dark though my course may be, Thou art my guiding star! My heart still turns to thee.

III

When I see thy friends I smile, I sigh when I hear thy name; But they cannot tell the while Whence the smile or the sadness came; Vainly the world may deem The cause of my sighs they know: The breeze that stirs the stream Knows not the depth below.

Before the first verse of the song was over, the entrance to the room was filled with eager listeners, and, at its conclusion, a large proportion of the company from the dancing-room had crowded round the door, attracted by the rich voice of the singer, and fascinated into silence by the charm of his song. Perhaps after mental qualities, the most valuable gift a man can have is a fine voice; it at once commands attention, and may therefore be ranked in a man's possession as highly as beauty in a woman's.

In speaking thus of voice, I do not allude to the power of singing, but the mere physical quality of a fine voice, which in the bare utterance of the simplest words is pleasing, but, becoming the medium for the interchange of higher thoughts, is irresistible. Superadded to this gift, which Edward possessed, the song he sang had meaning in it which could reach the hearts of all his auditory, though its poetry might be appreciated by but few; its imagery grew upon a stem whose root was in every bosom, and the song that possesses this quality, whatever may be its defects, contains not only the elements of future fame, but of immediate popularity. Startling was the contrast between the silence the song had produced and the simultaneous clapping of hands outside the door when it was over; not the poor plaudit of a fashionable assembly, whose "bravo" is an attenuated note of admiration, struggling into a sickly existence and expiring in a sigh—applause of so suspicious a character, that no one seems desirous of owning it—a feeble forgery of satisfaction which people think it disgraceful to be caught uttering. The clapping was not the plaudits of high-bred hands, whose sound is like the fluttering of small wings, just enough to stir gossamer—but not the heart. No; such was not the applause which followed Edward's song; he had the outburst of heart-warm and unsophisticated satisfaction unfettered by chilling convention. Most of his hearers did not know that it was disgraceful to admit being too well pleased, and the poor innocents really opened their mouths and clapped their hands. Oh, fie! tell it not in Grosvenor-square.

And now James Reddy contrived to be asked to sing; the coxcomb, not content with his luck in being listened to before, panted for such another burst of applause as greeted Edward, whose song he had no notion was any better than his own; the puppy fancied his rubbish of the "black stone under the blue sea" partook of a grander character of composition, and that while Edward's "breeze" but "stirred the stream," he had fathomed the ocean. But a "heavy blow and great discouragement" was in store for Master James, for as he commenced a love ditty which he called by the fascinating title of "The Rose of Silence," and verily believed would have enraptured every woman in the room, a powerful voice, richly flavoured with the brogue, shouted forth outside the door, "Ma'am, if you plaze, supper's sarved." The effect was magical; a rush was made to supper by the crowd in the doorway, and every gentleman in the little drawing-room offered his arm to a lady, and led her off without the smallest regard to Reddy's singing.

His look was worth anything as he saw himself thus unceremoniously deserted and likely soon to be left in sole possession of the room; the old doctor was enchanted with his vexation; and when James ceased to sing, as the last couple were going, the doctor interposed his request that the song should be finished.

"Don't stop, my dear fellow," said the doctor; "that's the best song I have heard for a long time, and you must indulge me by finishing it—that's a gem."

"Why, you see, doctor, they have all gone to supper."

"Yes, and the devil choke them with it," said Growling, "for their want of taste; but never mind that: one judicious listener is worth a crowd of such fools, you'll admit; so sit down again and sing for me."

The doctor seated himself as he spoke, and there he kept Reddy, who he knew was very fond of a good supper, singing away for the bare life, with only one person for audience, and that one humbugging him. The scene was rich; the gravity with which the doctor carried on the quiz was admirable, and the gullibility of the coxcomb who was held captive by his affected admiration exquisitely absurd and almost past belief; even Growling himself was amazed, as he threw in a rapturous "charming" or "bravissimo," at the egregious folly of his dupe, who still continued singing, while the laughter of the supper-room and the inviting clatter of its knives and forks were ringing in his ear. When Reddy concluded, the doctor asked might he venture to request the last verse again; "for," continued he, "there is a singular beauty of thought and felicity of expression in its numbers, leaving the mind unsatisfied with but one hearing; once more, if you please."

Poor Reddy repeated the last verse.

"Very charming, indeed!" said the doctor.

"You really like it?" said Reddy.

"Like?" said the doctor—"sir, like is a faint expression of what I think of that song. Moore had better look to his laurels, sir!"

"Oh, doctor!"

"Ah, you know yourself," said Growling.

"Then that last, doctor——?" said Reddy, inquiringly.

"Is your most successful achievement, sir; there is a mysterious shadowing forth of something in it which is very fine."

"You like it better than the 'Black Stone'?"

"Pooh! sir; the 'Black Stone,' if I may be allowed an image, is but ordinary paving, while that 'Rose of Silence' of yours might strew the path to Parnassus."

"And is it not strange, doctor," said Reddy, in a reproachful tone, "that them people should be insensible to that song, and leave the room while I was singing it?"

"Too good for them, sir—above their comprehension."

"Besides, so rude!" said Reddy.

"Oh, my dear friend," said the doctor, "when you know more of the world, you'll find out that an appeal from the lower house to the upper," and he changed his hand from the region of his waistcoat to his head as he spoke, "is most influential."

"True, doctor," said Reddy, with a smile; "and suppose we go to supper now."

"Wait a moment," said Growling, holding his button. "Did you ever try your hand at an epic?"

"No, I can't say that I did."

"I wish you would."

"You flatter me, doctor; but don't you think we had better go to supper?"

"Ha!" said the doctor, "your own House of Commons is sending up an appeal—eh?"

"Decidedly, doctor."

"Then you see, my dear friend, you can't wonder at those poor inferior beings hurrying off to indulge their gross appetites, when a man of genius like you is not insensible to the same call. Never wonder again at people leaving your song for supper, Master James," said the doctor, resting his arm on Reddy, and sauntering from the room. "Never wonder again at the triumph of supper over song, for the Swan of Avon himself would have no chance against roast ducks."

Reddy smacked his lips at the word ducks, and the savoury odour of the supper-room which they approached heightened his anticipation of an onslaught on one of the aforesaid tempting birds; but, ah! when he entered the room, skeletons of ducks there were, but nothing more; the work of demolition had been in able hands, and the doctor's lachrymose exclamation of "the devil a duck!" found a hollow echo under Reddy's waistcoat. Round the room that deluded minstrel went, seeking what he might devour, but his voyage of discovery for any hot fowl was profitless; and Growling, in silent delight, witnessed his disappointment.

"Come, sir," said the doctor, "there's plenty of punch left, however; I'll take a glass with you, and drink success to your next song, for the last is all I could wish;" and so indeed it was, for it enabled him to laugh at the poetaster, and cheat him out of his supper.

"Ho, ho!" said Murtough Murphy, who approached the door; "you have found out the punch is good, eh? 'Faith it is that same, and I'll take another glass of it with you before I go, for the night is cold."

"Are you going so soon?" asked Growling, as he clinked his glass against the attorney's.

"Whisht!" said Murphy, "not a word,—I'm slipping away after Dick the Divil; we have a trifle of work in hand quite in his line, and it is time to set about it. Good bye, you'll hear more of it to-morrow—snug's the word."

Murphy stole away, for the open departure of so merry a blade would not have been permitted, and in the hall he found Dick mounting a large top-coat and muffling up.

"Good people are scarce, you think, Dick," said Murphy.

"I'd recommend you to follow the example, for the night is bitter cold, I can tell you."

"And as dark as a coal-hole," said Murphy, as he opened the door and looked out.

"No matter, I have got a dark lantern," said Dick, "which we can use when required; make haste, the gig is round the corner, and the little black mare will roll us over in no time."

They left the house quietly, as he spoke, and started on a bit of mischief which demands a separate chapter.

THE END

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