"Phelim," said the mother, "did you take anything while you wor away?"
"Did I take anything! is it? Arrah, be asy, ould woman! Did I take anything! Faith you may say that!"
"Let us know, anyhow, what's the matther wid you?' asked the father.
"Tare-an'-ounze!" exclaimed the son, "what is this for, at all at all? It's too killin' I am, so it is."
"You're not lookin' at Sam Appleton's clo'es," said the father, "that he lent you the loan of, hat an' all?"
"Do you want to put an affront upon me, ould man? To the divil wid himself an' his clo'es! When I wants clo'es I'll buy them wid my own money!'
"Larry," observed the mother, "there's yourself all over—as proud as a payoock when the sup's in your head, an' 'ud spake as big widout the sign o' money in your pocket, as if you had the rint of an estate."
"What do you say about the sign o' money?" exclaimed Phelim, with a swagger. "Maybe you'll call that the sign o' money!" he added, producing the ten guineas in gold. The father and mother looked at it for a considerable time, then at each other, and shook their heads.
"Phelim!" said the father, solemnly. "Phelim!" said the mother, awfully; and both shook their heads again.
"You wor never over-scrupulous," the father proceeded, "an' you know you have many little things to answer for, in the way of pickin' up what didn't belong to yourself. I think, too, you're not the same boy you wor afore you tuck to swearin' the alibies.
"Faith, an' I doubt I'll haye to get some one to swear an alibi for myself soon," Phelim replied.
"Why, blessed hour!" said Larry, "didn't I often tell you never to join the boys in anything that might turn out a hangin' matther?"
"If this is not a hangin' matther," said Phelim, "it's something nearly as bad: it's a marryin' matther. Sure I deluded another since you seen me last. Divil a word o' lie in it. I was clane fell in love wid this mornin' about seven o'clock."
"But how did you get the money, Phelim?"
"Why, from the youthful sprig that fell in love wid me. Sure we're to be 'called' in the Chapel on Sunday next."
"Why thin now, Phelim! An' who is the young crathur? for in throth she must be young to go to give the money beforehand!"
"Murdher!" exclaimed Phelim, "what's this for! Was ever any one done as I am? Who is she! Why she's—oh, murdher, oh!—she's no other than—hem—divil a one else than Father O'Hara's housekeeper, ould Biddy Doran!"
The mirth of the old couple was excessive. The father laughed till he fell off his stool, and the mother till the tears ran down her cheeks.
"Death alive; ould man! but you're very merry," said Phelim. "If you wor my age, an' in such an' amplush, you'd laugh on the wrong side o' your mouth. Maybe you'll tarn your tune when you hear that she has a hundhre and twenty guineas."
"An' you'll be rich, too," said the father. "The sprig an' you will be rich!—ha, ha, ha!"
"An' the family they'll have!" said the mother, in convulsions.
"Why, in regard o' that," said Phelim, rather nettled, "if all fails us, sure we can do as my father and you did: kiss the Lucky Stone, an' make a Station."
"Phelim, aroon," said the mother, seriously, "put it out o' your head. Sure you wouldn't go to bring me a daughter-in-law oulder nor myself?"
"I'd as soon go over," (* be transported) said Phelim; "or swing itself, before I'd marry sich a piece o' desate. Hard feelin' to her! how she did me to my face!"
Phelim then entered into a long-visaged detail of the scene at Father O'Hara's, dwelling bitterly on the alacrity with which the old housekeeper ensnared him in his own mesh.
"However," he concluded, "she'd be a sharp one if she'd do me altogether. We're not married yet; an' I've a consate of my own, that she's done for the ten guineas, any how!"
A family council was immediately held upon Phelim's matrimonial prospects. On coming close to the speculation of Miss Patterson, it was somehow voted, notwithstanding Phelim's powers of attraction, to be rather a discouraging one. Gracey Dalton was also given up. The matter was now serious, the time short, and Phelim's bounces touching his own fascinations with the sex in general, were considerably abated. It was therefore resolved that he ought to avail himself of Sam Appleton's clothes, until his own could be made. Sam, he said, would not press him for them immediately, inasmuch as he was under obligations to Phelim's silence upon some midnight excursions that he had made.
"Not," added Phelim, "but I'm as much, an' maybe more in his power, than he is in mine."
When breakfast was over, Phelim and the father, after having determined to "drink a bottle" that night in the family of an humble young woman, named Donovan, who, they all agreed, would make an excellent wife for him, rested upon their oars until evening. In the meantime, Phelim sauntered about the village, as he was in the habit of doing, whilst the father kept the day as a holiday. We have never told our readers that Phelim was in love, because in fact we know not whether he was or not. Be this as it may, we simply inform them, that in a little shed in the lower end of the village, lived a person with whom Phelim was very intimate, called Foodie Flattery. He was, indeed, a man after Phelim's own heart, and Phelim was a boy after his. He maintained himself by riding country races; by handing, breeding, and feeding cocks; by fishing, poaching, and serving processes; and finally, by his knowledge as a cow-doctor and farrier—into the two last of which he had given Phelim some insight. We say the two last, for in most of the other accomplishments Phelim was fully his equal. Phelim frequently envied him his life. It was an idle, amusing, vagabond kind of existence, just such a one as he felt a relish for. This man had a daughter, rather well-looking; and it so happened, that he and Phelim had frequently spent whole nights out together, no one knew on what employment. Into Flattery's house did Phelim saunter with something like an inclination to lay the events of the day before him, and to ask his advice upon his future prospects. On entering the cabin he was much surprised to find the daughter in a very melancholy mood; a circumstance which puzzled him not a little, as he knew that they lived very harmoniously together. Sally had been very useful to her father; and, if fame did not belie her, was sometimes worthy Foodie's assistant in his nocturnal exploits. She was certainly reputed to be "light-handed;" an imputation which caused the young men of her acquaintance to avoid, in their casual conversations with her, any allusion to matrimony.
"Sally, achora," said Phelim, when he saw her in distress, "what's the fun? Where's your father?"
"Oh, Phelim," she replied, bursting into tears, "long runs the fox, but he's cotch at last. My father's in gaol."
Phelim's jaw dropped. "In gaol! Chorp an diouol, no!"
"It's thruth, Phelim. Curse upon this Whiteboy business, I wish it never had come into the counthry at all."
"Sally, I must see him; you know I must. But tell me how it happened? Was it at home he was taken?"
"No; he was taken this mornin' in the market. I was wid him sellin' some chickens. What'll you and Sam Appleton do, Phelim?"
"Uz! Why, what danger is there to either Sim or me, you darlin'?"
"I'm sure, Phelim, I don't know; but he tould me, that if I was provided for, he'd be firm, an' take chance of his thrial. But, he says, poor man, that it 'ud break his heart to be thransported, lavin' me behind him wid' nobody to take care o' me.—He says, too, if anything 'ud make him stag, it's fear of the thrial goin' against himself; for, as he said to me, what 'ud become of you, Sally, if anything happened me?"
A fresh flood of tears followed this disclosure, and Phelim's face, which was certainly destined to undergo on that day many variations of aspect, became remarkably blank.
"Sally, you insinivator, I'll hould a thousand guineas you'd never guess what brought me here to-day?"
"Arrah, how could I, Phelim? To plan some thin' wid my fadher, maybe."
"No, but to plan somethin' wid yourself, you coaxin' jewel you. Now tell me this—Would you marry a certain gay, roguish, well-built young fellow, they call Bouncin' Phelim?"
"Phelim, don't be gettin' an wid your fun now, an' me in affliction. Sure, I know well you wouldn't throw yourself away upon a poor girl like me, that has nothin' but a good pair of hands to live by."
"Be me sowl, an' you live by them. Well, but set in case—supposin'—that same Bouncin' Phelim was willing to make you mistress of the Half Acre, what 'ud you be sayin'?"
"Phelim, if a body thought you worn't jokin' them—ah, the dickens go wid you, Phelim—this is more o' your thricks—but if it was thruth you wor spakin', Phelim?"
"It is thruth," said Phelim; "be the vestment, it's nothin' else. Now, say yes or no; for if it's a thing that it's to be a match, you must go an' tell him that I'll marry you, an' he must be as firm as a rock. But see, Sally, by thim five crasses it's not bekase your father's in I'm marryin' you at all. Sure I'm in love wid you, acushla! Divil a lie in it. Now, yes or no?"
"Well—throth—to be sure—the sorra one, Phelim, but you have quare ways wid you. Now are you downright in airnest?"
"Be the stool I'm sittin' on!"
"Well, in the name o' Goodness, I'll go to my father, an' let him know it. Poor man, it'll take the fear out of his heart. Now can he depind on you, Phelim?"
"Why, all I can say is, that we'll get ourselves called on Sunday next. Let himself, sure, send some one to autorise the priest to call us. An' now that's all settled, don't I desarve somethin'? Oh, be gorra, surely."
"Behave, Phelim—oh—oh—Phelim, now—there you've tuck it—och, the curse o' the crows on you, see the way you have my hair down! There now, you broke my comb, too. Troth, you're a wild slip, Phelim. I hope you won't be goin' on this way wid the girls, when you get married."
"Is it me you coaxer? No, faith, I'll wear a pair of winkers, for fraid o' lookin' at them at all! Oh be gorra, no, bally, I'll lave that to the great people. Sure, they say, the divil a differ they make at all."
"Go off now, Phelim, till I get ready, an' set out to my father. But, Phelim, never breathe a word about him bein' in goal. No one knows it but ourselves—that is, none o' the neighbors."
"I'll sing dumb," said Phelim. "Well, binaght lath, a rogarah!* Tell him the thruth—to be game, an' he'll find you an' me sweeled together whin he comes out, plase Goodness."
* My blessing be with you, you rogue!
Phelim was but a few minutes gone, when the old military cap of Fool Art projected from the little bed-room, which a wicker wall, plastered with mud, divided from the other part of the cabin.
"Is he gone?" said Art.
"You may come out, Art," said she, "he's gone."
"Ha!" said Art, triumphantly, "I often tould him, when he vexed me an' pelted me wid snow-balls, that I'd come along sides wid him yet. An' it's not over aither. Fool Art can snore when he's not asleep, an' see wid his eyes shut. Wherroo for Art!"
"But, Art, maybe he intinds to marry the housekeeper afther all?"
"Hi the colic, the colic! An' ho the colic for Phelim!"
"Then you think he won't, Art?"
"Hi the colic, the colic! An' ho the colic for Phelim!"
"Now, Art, don't say a word about my father not bein' in gaol. He's to be back from my grandfather's in a short time, an' if we manage well, you'll see what you'll get, Art—a brave new shirt, Art."
"Art has the lane for Phelim, but it's not the long one wid no turn in it. Wherroo for Art!"
Phelim, on his return home, felt queer; here was a second matrimonial predicament, considerably worse than the first, into which he was hooked decidedly against his will. The worst feature in this case was the danger to be apprehended from Foodie Flattery's disclosures, should he take it into his head to 'peach upon his brother Whiteboys. Indeed, Phelim began to consider it a calamity that he ever entered into their system at all; for, on running over his exploits along with them, he felt that he was liable to be taken up any morning of the week, and lodged in one of his majesty's boarding-houses. The only security he had was the honesty of his confederates; and experience took the liberty of pointing out to him many cases in which those who considered themselves quite secure, upon the same grounds, either dangled or crossed the water. He remembered, too, some prophecies that had been uttered concerning him with reference both to hanging and matrimony. Touching the former it was often said, that "he'd die where the bird flies"—between heaven and earth; on matrimony, that there seldom was a swaggerer among the girls but came to the ground at last.
Now Phelim had a memory of his own, and in turning over his situation, and the prophecies that had been so confidently pronounced concerning him, he felt, as we said, rather queer. He found his father and mother in excellent spirits when he got home. The good man had got a gallon of whiskey on credit; for it had been agreed on not to break the ten golden guineas until they should have ascertained how the matchmaking would terminate that night at Donovan's.
"Phelim," said the father, "strip yourself, an' put on Sam's clo'es: you must send him down yours for a day or two; he says it's the least he may have the wearin' o' them, so long as you have his."
"Right enough," said Phelim; "Wid all my heart; I'm ready to make a fair swap wid him any day, for that matther."
"I sent word to the Donovans that we're to go to coort there to night," said Larry; "so that they'll be prepared for us; an' as it would be shabby not to have a friend, I asked Sam Appleton himself. He's to folly us."
"I see," said Phelim, "I see. Well, the best boy in Europe Sam is, for such a spree. Now, Fadher, you must lie like the ould diouol tonight. Back everything I say, an' there's no fear of us. But about what she's to get, you must hould out for that. I'm to despise it, you know. I'll abuse you for spakin' about fortune, but don't budge an inch."
"It's not the first time I've done that for you, Phelim; but in regard o' these ten guineas, why you must put them in your pocket for fraid they be wantin' to get off wid layin' down guinea for guinea. You see, they don't think we have a rap; an' if they propose it we'll be up to them."
"Larry," observed Sheelah, "don't make a match except they give that pig they have. Hould out for that by all means."
"Tare-an'-ounze!" exclaimed Phelim, "am I goin' to take the counthry out o' the face? By the vestments, I'm a purty boy! Do you know the fresh news I have for yez?"
"Not ten guineas more, Phelim?" replied the father.
"Maybe you soodhered another ould woman," said the mother.
"Be asy," replied Phelim. "No, but the five crasses, I deluded a young one since! I went out!"
The old couple were once more disposed to be mirthful; but Phelim confirmed his assertion with such a multiplicity of oaths, that they believed him. Nothing, however, could wring the secret of her name out of him. He had reasons for concealing it which he did not wish to divulge. In fact, he could never endure ridicule, and the name of Sally Flattery, as the person whom he had "deluded," would constitute, on his part, a triumph quite as sorry as that which he had achieved in Father O'Hara's. In Ireland no man ever thinks of marrying a female thief—which Sally was strongly suspected to be—except some worthy fellow, who happens to be gifted with the same propensity.
When the proper hour arrived, honest Phelim, after having already made arrangements to be called on the following Sunday, as the intended husband of two females, now proceeded with great coolness to make, if possible, a similar engagement with a third. There is something, however, to be said for Phelim. His conquest over the housekeeper was considerably out of the common course of love affairs. He had drawn upon his invention, only to bring himself and the old woman out of the ridiculous predicament in which the priest found them. He had, moreover, intended to prevail on her to lend him the hat, in case the priest himself had refused him. He was consequently not prepared for the vigorous manner in which Mrs. Doran fastened upon the subject of matrimony. On suspecting that she was inclined to be serious, he pleaded his want of proper apparel; but here again the liberality of the housekeeper silenced him, whilst, at the same time, it opened an excellent prospect of procuring that which he most required—a decent suit of clothes. This induced him to act a part that he did not feel. He saw the old woman was resolved to outwit him, and he resolved to overreach the old woman.
His marriage with Sally Flattery was to be merely a matter of chance. If he married her at all, he knew it must be in self-defence. He felt that her father had him in his power, and that he was anything but a man to be depended on. He also thought that his being called with her, on the Sunday following, would neutralize his call with the housekeeper; just as positive and negative quantities in algebra cancel each other. But he was quite ignorant that the story of Flattery's imprisonment was merely a plan of the daughter's to induce him to marry her.
With respect to Peggy Donovan, he intended, should he succeed in extricating himself from the meshes which the other two had thrown around him, that she should be the elected one to whom he was anxious to unite himself. As to the confusion produced by being called to three at once, he knew that, however laughable in itself, it would be precisely something like what the parish would expect from him. Bouncing Phelim was no common man, and to be called to three on the same Sunday, would be a corroboration of his influence with the sex. It certainly chagrined him not a little that one of them was an old woman, and the other of indifferent morals; but still it exhibited the claim of three women upon one man, and that satisfied him. His mode of proceeding with Peggy Donovan was regular, and according to the usages of the country. The notice had been given that he and his father would go a courting, and of course they brought the whiskey with them, that being the custom among persons in their circumstances in life. These humble courtships very much resemble the driving of a bargain between two chapmen; for, indeed, the closeness of the demands on the one side, and the reluctance of concession on the other, are almost incredible. Many a time has a match been broken up by a refusal on the one part, to give a slip of a pig, or a pair of blankets, or a year-old calf. These are small matters in themselves, but they are of importance to those who, perhaps, have nothing else on earth with which to begin the world. The house to which Phelim and his father directed themselves was, like their own, of the-humblest description. The floor of it was about sixteen feet by twelve; its furniture rude and scanty. To the right of the fire was a bed, the four posts of which ran up to the low roof; it was curtained with straw mats, with the exception of an opening about a foot and a half wide on the side next the fire, through which those who slept in it passed. A little below the foot of the bed were ranged a few shelves of deal, supported by pins of wood driven into the wall. These constituted the dresser. In the lower end of the house stood a potato-bin, made up of stakes driven into the floor, and wrought with strong wicker-work. Tied to another stake beside this bin stood a cow, whose hinder part projected so close to the door, that those who entered the cabin were compelled to push her over out of their way. This, indeed, was effected without much difficulty, for the animal became so habituated to the necessity of moving aside, that it was only necessary to lay the hand upon her. Above the door in the inside, almost touching the roof, was the hen-roost, made also of wicker-work; and opposite the bed, on the other side of the fire, stood a meal-chest.
Its lid on a level with the little pane of glass which served as a window. An old straw chair, a few stools, a couple of pots, some wooden vessels and crockery, completed the furniture of the house. The pig to which Sheolah alluded was not kept within the cabin, that filthy custom being now less common than formerly.
This catalogue of cottage furniture may appear to our English readers very miserable. We beg them to believe, however, that if every cabin in Ireland were equally comfortable, the country would be comparatively happy. Still it is to be remembered, that the dramatis personae of our story are of the humblest class.
When seven o'clock drew nigh, the inmates of this little cabin placed themselves at a clear fire; the father at one side, the mother at the other, and the daughter directly between them, knitting, for this is usually the occupation of a female on such a night. Everything in the house was clean; the floor swept; the ashes removed from the hearth; the parents in their best clothes, and the daughter also in her holiday apparel. She was a plain girl, neither remarkable for beauty, nor otherwise. Her eyes, however, were good, so were her teeth, and an anxious look, produced of course by an occasion so interesting to a female, heightened her complexion to a blush that became her. The creature had certainly made the most of her little finery. Her face shone like that of a child after a fresh scrubbing with a strong towel; her hair, carefully curled with the hot blade of a knife, had been smoothed with soap until it became lustrous by repeated polishing, and her best red ribbon was tied tightly about it in a smart knot, that stood out on the side of her head with something of a coquettish air. Old Donovan and his wife maintained a conversation upon some indifferent subject, but the daughter evidently paid little attention to what they said. It being near the hour appointed for Phelim's arrival, she sat with an appearance of watchful trepidation, occasionally listening, and starting at every sound that she thought bore any resemblance to a man's voice or footstep.
At length the approach of Phelim and his father was announced by a verse of a popular song, for singing which Phelim was famous;—
"A sailor coorted a farmer's daughter That lived contagious to the Isle of Man, A long time coortin', an' still discoorsin' Of things consarnin' the ocean wide; At linth he saize, 'My own dearest darlint, Will you consint for to be my bride?'"
"An' so she did consint, the darlin', but what the puck would she do else? God save the family! Paddy Donovan, how is your health? Molly, avourneen, I'm glad to hear that you're thrivin'. An' Peggy—eh? Ah, be gorra, fadher, here's somethin' to look at! Give us the hand of you, you bloomer! Och, och! faith you're the daisey!"
"Phelim," said the father, "will you behave yourself? Haven't you the night before you for your capers? Paddy Donovan, I'm glad to see you! Molly, give us your right hand, for, in troth, I have a regard for you! Peggy, dear, how are you? But I'm sure, I needn't be axin when I look at you! In troth, Phelim, she is somethin' to throw your eye at."
"Larry Toole, you're welcome," replied Donovan and his wife, "an' so is your son. Take stools both of you, an' draw near the hearth. Here, Phelim," said the latter, "draw in an' sit beside myself."
"Thank you kindly, Molly," replied Phelim; "but I'll do no sich thing.. Arrah, do you think, now, that I'd begin to gosther wid an ould woman, while I have the likes o' Peggy, the darlin', beside me? I'm up to a thrick worth nine of it. No, no; this chest 'll do. Sure you know, I must help the 'duck of diamonds' here to count her stitches."
"Paddy," said Larry, in a friendly whisper, "put this whiskey past for a while, barrin' this bottle that we must taste for good luck. Sam Appleton's to come up afther us an', I suppose, some o' your own cleavens 'll be here afther a while."
"Thrue for you," said Donovan. "Jemmy Burn and Antony Devlin is to come over presently. But, Larry, this is nonsense. One bottle o' whiskey was lashins; my Goodness, what'll we be doin' wid a whole gallon?"
"Dacency or nothin', Paddy; if it was my last I'd show sperit, an' why not? Who'd be for the shabby thing?"
"Well, well, Larry, I can't say but you're right afther all! Maybe I'd do the same thing myself, for all I'm spakin' aginst it."
The old people then passed round an introductory glass, after which they chatted away for an hour or so, somewhat like the members of a committee who talk upon indifferent topics until their brethren are all assembled.
Phelim, in the meantime, grappled with the daughter, whose knitting he spoiled by hooking the thread with his finger, jogging her elbow until he ran the needles past each other, and finally unravelling her clew; all which she bore with great good-humor. Sometimes, indeed, she ventured to give him a thwack upon the shoulder, with a laughing frown upon her countenance, in order to correct him for teasing her.
When Jemmy Burn and Antony Devlin arrived, the spirits of the party got up. The whiskey was formally produced, but as yet the subject of the courtship, though perfectly understood, was not introduced. Phelim and the father were anxious to await the presence of Sam Appleton, who was considered, by the way, a first-rate hand at match-making.
Phelim, as is the wont, on finding the din of the conversation raised to the proper pitch, stole one of the bottles and prevailed on Peggy to adjourn with him to the potato-bin. Here they ensconced themselves very snugly; but not, as might be supposed, contrary to the knowledge and consent of the seniors, who winked at each other on seeing Phelim gallantly tow her down with the bottle under his arm. It was only the common usage on such occasions, and not considered any violation whatsoever of decorum. When Phelim's prior engagements are considered, it must be admitted that there was something singularly ludicrous in the humorous look he gave over his shoulder at the company, as he went toward the bin, having the bottom of the whiskey-bottle projecting behind his elbow, winking at them in return, by way of a hint to mind their own business and allow him to plead for himself. The bin, however, turned out to be rather an uneasy seat, for as the potatoes lay in a slanting heap against the wall, Phelim and his sweetheart were perpetually sliding down from the top to the bottom. Phelim could be industrious when it suited his pleasure. In a few minutes those who sat about the fire imagined, from the noise at the bin, that the house was about to come about their ears.
"Phelim, you thief," said the father, "what's all that noise for?"
"Chrosh orrin!" (* The cross be about us!) said Molly Donovan, "is that tundher?"
"Devil carry these piatees," exclaimed Phelim, raking them down with both hands and all his might, "if there's any sittin' at all upon them! I'm levellin' them to prevint Peggy, the darlin', from slidderin' an' to give us time to be talkin', somethin' lovin' to one another. The curse o' Cromwell an them! One might as well dhrink a glass o' whiskey wid his sweetheart, or spake a tinder word to her, on the wings of a windmill as here. There now, they're as level as you plase, acushla! Sit down, you jewel you, an' give me the egg-shell, till we have our Sup o' the crathur in comfort. Faith, it was too soon for us to be comin' down in the world?"
Phelim and Peggy having each emptied the egg-shell, which among the poorer Irish is frequently the substitute for a glass, entered into the following sentimental dialogue, which was covered by the loud and entangled conversation of their friends about the fire; Phelim's arm lovingly about her neck, and his head laid down snugly against her cheek.
"Now, Peggy, you darlin' o' the world—bad cess to me but I'm as glad as two ten-pennies that I levelled these piatees; there was no sittin' an them. Eh, avourneen?"
"Why, we're comfortable now, anyhow, Phelim!"
"Faith, you may say that—(a loving squeeze). Now, Peggy, begin an' tell us all about your bachelors."
"The sarra one ever I had, Phelim."
"Oh, murdher sheery, what a bounce! Bad cess to me, if you can spake a word o' thruth afther that, you common desaver! Worn't you an' Paddy Moran pullin' a coard?"
"No, in throth; it was given out on us, but we never wor, Phelim. Nothin' ever passed betune us but common civility. He thrated my father an' mother wanst to share of half a pint in the Lammas Fair, when I was along wid them; but he never broke discoorse wid me barrin', as I sed, in civility an' friendship."
"An' do you mane to put it down my throath that you never had a sweetheart at all?"
"The nerra one."
"Oh, you thief! Wid two sich lips o' your own, an' two sich eyes o' your own, an' two sich cheeks o' your own! Oh,—, by the tarn, that won't pass."
"Well, an' supposin' I had—behave Phelim—supposin' I had, where's the harm? Sure it's well known all the sweethearts, you had, an' have yet, I suppose."
"Be gorra, an' that's thruth; an' the more the merrier, you jewel you, till, one get's married. I had enough of them, in my day, but you're the flower o' them all, that I'd like to spend my life wid"—(a squeeze.)
"The sorra one word the men say a body can trust. I warrant you tould that story to every one o' them as well as to me. Stop Phelim—it's well known that what you say to the colleens is no gospel. You know what they christened you 'Bouncin' Phelim!"
"Betune you an' me, Peggy, I'll tell you a sacret; I was the boy for deludin them. It's very well known the matches I might a got; but you see, you little shaver, it was waitin' for yourself I was."
"For me! A purty story indeed I'm sure it was! Oh, afther that! Why, Phelim, how can you——Well, well, did any one ever hear the likes?"
"Be the vestments, it's thruth. I had you in my eye these three years, but was waitin' till I'd get together as much money as ud' set us up in the world dacently. Give me that egg-shell agin. Talkin's dhruthy work. Shudorth, a rogarah! (* This to you you rogue) an' a pleasant honeymoon to us!"
"Wait till we're married first, Phelim; thin it'll be time enough to dhrink that."
"Come, acushla, it's your turn now; taste the shell, an' you'll see how lovin' it'll make us. Mother's milk's a thrifle to it."
"Well, if I take this, Phelim, I'll not touch another dhrop to-night. In the mane time here's whatever's best for us! Whoo! Oh, my! but that's strong! I dunna how the people can dhrink so much of it!"
"Faith, nor me; except bekase they have a regard for it, an' that it's worth havin' a regard for, jist like yourself an' me. Upon my faix, Peggy, it bates all, the love an likin' I have for you, an' ever had these three years past. I tould you about the eyes, mavourneen, an'—an'—about the lips—"
"Phelim—behave—I say—now stop wid you—well—well—but you're the tazin' Phelim!—Throth the girls may be glad when you're married," exclaimed Peggy, adjusting her polished hair.
"Bad cess to the bit, if ever I got so sweet a one in my life—the soft end of a honeycomb's a fool to it. One thing, Peggy, I can tell you—that I'll love you in great style. Whin we're marrid it's I that'll soodher you up. I won't let the wind blow on you. You must give up workin', too. All I'll ax you to do will be to nurse the childhre; an' that same will keep you busy enough, plase Goodness."
"Upon my faix, Phelim, you're the very sarra, so you are. Will you be asy now? I'll engage when you're married, it'll soon be another story wid you. Maybe you'd care little about us thin!"
"Be the vestments, I'm spakin' pure gospel, so I am. Sure you don't know that to be good husbands runs in our family. Every one of them was as sweet as thracle to their wives. Why, there's that ould cock, my fadher, an' if you'd see how he butthers up the ould woman to this day, it 'ud make your heart warm to any man o' the family."
"Ould an' young was ever an' always the same to you, Phelim. Sure the ouldest woman in the parish, if she happened to be single, couldn't miss of your blarney. It's reported you're goin' to be marrid to an ould woman.'
"He—-hem—ahem! Bad luck to this cowld I have! it's stickin' in my throath entirely, so it is!—hem!—to a what?"
"Why to an ould woman, wid a great deal of the hard goold!"
Phelim put his hand instinctively to his waistcoat pocket, in which he carried the housekeeper's money.
"Would you oblage one wid her name?"
"You know ould Molly Kavanagh well enough, Phelim."
Phelim put up an inward ejaculation of thanks.
"To the sarra wid her, an' all sasoned women. God be praised that the night's line, anyhow! Hand me the shell, an' we'll take a gauliogue aich, an' afther that we'll begin an' talk over how lovin' an' fond o' one another we'll be."
"You're takin' too much o' the whiskey, Phelim. Oh, for Goodness' sake!—oh—b—b—n—now be asy. Faix, I'll go to the fire, an' lave you altogether, so I will, if you don't give over slustherin' me, that way, an' stoppin' my breath."
"Here's all happiness to our two selves, acushla machree! Now thry another gauliogue, an' you'll see how deludin' it'll make you."
"Not a sup, Phelim."
"Arrah, nonsense! Be the vestment, it's as harmless as new milk from the cow. It'll only do you good, alanna. Come now, Peggy, don't be ondacent, an' it our first night's coortin'! Blood alive! don't make little o' my father's son on sich a night, an' us at business like this, anyhow!"
"Phelim, by the crass, I won't take it; so that ends it. Do you want to make little o' me? It's not much you'd think o' me in your mind, if I'd dhrink it."
"The shell's not half full."
"I wouldn't brake my oath for all the whiskey in the kingdom; so don't ax me. It's neither right nor proper of you to force it an me."
"Well, all I say is, that it's makin' little of one Phelim O'Toole, that hasn't a thought in his body but what's over head an' ears in love wid you. I must only dhrink it for you myself, thin. Here's all kinds o' good fortune to us! Now, Peggy,—sit closer to me acushla!—Now, Peggy, are you fond o' me at all? Tell thruth, now."
"Fond o' you! Sure you know all the girls is fond of you. Aren't you the boy for deludin' them?—ha, ha, ha?"
"Come, come, you shaver; that won't do. Be sarious. If you knew how my heart's warmin' to you this minute, you'd fall in love wid my shadow. Come, now, out wid it. Are you fond of a sartin boy not far from you, called Bouncin' Phelim?"
"To be sure I am. Are you satisfied now? Phelim! I say,"—
"Faith, it won't pass, avourneen. That's not the voice for it. Don't you hear me, how tendher I spake wid my mouth brathin' into your ear, acushla machree? Now turn about, like a purty entisin' girl, as you are, an' put your sweet bill to my ear the same way, an' whisper what you know into it? That's a darlin'! Will you, achora?"
"An' maybe all this time you're promised to another?"
"Be the vestments, I'm not promised to one. Now! Saize the one!"
"You'll say that, anyhow!"
"Do you see my hands acrass? Be thim five crasses, I'm not promised to a girl livin', so I'm not, nor wouldn't, bekase I had you in my eye. Now will you tell me what I'm wantin' you? The grace o' Heaven light down an you, an' be a good, coaxin darlin' for wanst. Be this an' be that, if ever you heerd or seen sich doin's an' times as we'll have when we're marrid. Now the weeny whisper, a colleen dhas."
"It's time enough yet to let you know my mind, Phelim. If you behave yourself an' be——-Why thin is it at the bottle agin you are? Now don't dhrink so much, Phelim, or it'll get into your head. I was sayin' that if you behave yourself, an' be a good boy, I may tell you somethin' soon."
"Somethin' soon! Live horse, an' you'll get grass! Peggy, if that's the way wid you, the love's all on my side, I see clearly. Are you willin' to marry me, anyhow?"
"I'm willin' to do whatsomever my father an' mother wishes."
"I'm for havin' the weddin' off-hand; an' of coorse, if we agree to-night, I think our best plan is to have ourselves called on Sunday. An' I'll tell you what, avourneen—be the holy vestments, if I was to be 'called' to fifty on the same Sunday, you're the darlin' I'd marry."
"Phelim, it's time for us to go up to the fire; we're long enough here. I thought you had only three words to say to me."
"Why, if you're tired o' me, Peggy, I don't want you to stop. I wouldn't force myself on the best girl that ever stepped."
"Sure you have tould me all you want to say, an' there's no use in us stayin' here. You know, Phelim, there's not a girl in the Parish 'ud believe a word that 'ud come but o' your lips. Sure there's none o' them but you coorted one time or other. If you could get betther, Phelim, I dunna whether you'd be here to-night at all or not."
"Answer me this, Peggy. What do you! think your father 'ud be willin' to give you? Not that I care a cron abaun about it, for I'd marry you wid an inch of candle."
"You know my father's but a poor man, Phelim, an' can give little or nothing. Them that won't marry me as I am, needn't come here to look for a fortune."
"I know that, Peggy, an' be the same token, I want no fortune at all wid you but yourself, darlin'. In the mane time, to show you that I could get a fortune—Dhera Lorha Heena, I could have a wife wid a hundre an' twenty guineas!"
Peggy received this intelligence much in the same manner as Larry and Sheelah had received it. Her mirth was absolutely boisterous for at least ten minutes. Indeed, so loud had it been, that Larry and her father could not help asking:—
"Arrah, what's the fun, Peggy, achora?"
"Oh, nothin'," she replied, "but one o' Phelim's bounces."
"Now," said Phelim, "you won't believe me? Be all the books—"
Peggy's mirth prevented his oaths from being heard. In vain he declared, protested, and swore. On this occasion, he was compelled to experience the fate peculiar to all liars. Even truth, from his lips, was looked upon as falsehood.
Phelim, on finding that he could neither extort from Peggy an acknowledgment of love, nor make himself credible upon the subject of the large fortune, saw that he had nothing for it now, in order to produce an impression, but the pathetic.
"Well," said he, "you may lave me, Peggy achora, if you like; but out o' this I'll not budge, wid a blessing, till I cry my skinful, so I won't. Saize the toe I'll move, now, till I'm sick wid cryin'! Oh, murdher alive, this night! Isn't it a poor case entirely, that the girl I'd suffer myself to be turned inside out for, won't say that she cares about a hair o' my head! Oh, thin, but I'm the misfortunate blackguard all out! Och, oh! Peggy, achora, you'll break my heart! Hand me that shell, acushla—for I'm in the height of affliction!"
Peggy could neither withhold it, nor reply to him. Her mirth was even more intense now than before; nor, if all were known, was Phelim less affected with secret laughter than Peggy.
"It is makin' fun o' me you are, you thief, eh?—Is it laughin' at my grief you are?" exclaimed Phelim. "Be the tarn' o' wor, I'll punish you for that."
Peggy attempted to escape, but Phelim succeeded, ere she went, in taking a salutation or two, after which both joined those who sat at the fire, and in a few minutes Sam Appleton entered.
Much serious conversation had already passed in reference to the courtship, which was finally entered into and debated, pro and con.
"Now, Paddy Donovan, that we're altogether, let me tell you one thing: there's not a betther natur'd boy, nor a stouther, claner young fellow in the parish, than my Phelim. He'll make your daughther as good, a husband as ever broke bread!"
"I'm not sayin' against that, Larry. He is a good-nathur'd boy: but I tell you, Larry Toole, that my daughter's his fill of a wife any day. An' I'll put this to the back o' that—she's a hard-workin' girl, that ates no idle bread."
"Very right," said Sam Appleton. "Phelim's a hairo, an' she's a beauty. Dang me, but they wor made for one another. Phelim, abouchal, why don't you—oh, I see you are. Why, I was goin' to bid you make up to her."
"Give no gosther, Sam," replied Phelim, "but sind round the bottle, an' don't forget to let it come this way. I hardly tasted a dhrop to-night."
"Oh, Phelim!" exclaimed Peggy.
"Whisht!" said Phelim, "there's no use in lettin' the ould fellows be committin' sin. Why, they're hearty (* Tipsy) as it is, the sinners."
"Come, nabors," said Burn, "I'm the boy that's for close work. How does the match stand? You're both my friends, an' may this be poison to me, but I'll spake like an honest man, for the one as well as for the other.
"Well, then," said Donovan, "how is Phelim to support my daughther, Larry? Sure that's a fair questin', any way."
"Wiry, Paddy," replied Larry, "when Phelim gets her, he'll have a patch of his own, as well as another. There's that 'half-acre,' and a betther piece o' land isn't in Europe!"
"Well, but what plenishin' are they to have, Larry? A bare half acre's but a poor look up."
"I'd as soon you'd not make little of it, in the mane time," replied Larry, rather warmly. "As good a couple as ever they wor lived on that half acre; along wid what they earned by hard work otherwise."
"I'm not disparagin' it, Larry; I'd be long sorry; but about the furniture? What are they to begin the world wid?"
"Hut," said Devlin, "go to the sarra wid yez!—What 'ud they want, no more nor other young people like them, to begin the world wid? Are you goin' to make English or Scotch of them, that never marries till they're able to buy a farm an' stock it, the nagurs. By the staff in my hand, an Irish man 'ud lash a dozen o' them, wid all then prudence! Hasn't Phelim an' Peggy health and hands, what most new-married couples in Ireland begins the world wid? Sure they're not worse nor a thousand others?"
"Success, Antony," said Phelim. "Here's your health for that!"
"God be thanked they have health and hands," said Donovan. "Still, Antony, I'd like that they'd have somethin' more."
"Well, then, Paddy, spake up for yourself," observed Larry. "What will you put to the fore for the colleen? Don't take both flesh an' bone!"
"I'll not spake up, till I know all that Phelim's to expect," said Donovan. "I don't think he has a right to be axin' anything wid sich a girl as my Peggy."
"Hut, tut, Paddy! She's a good colleen enough; but do you think she's above any one that carries the name of O'Toole upon him? Still, it's but raisonable for you to wish the girl well settled. My Phelim will have one half o' my worldly goods, at all evints."
"Name them, Larry, if you plase."
"Why, he'll have one o' the goats—the gray one, for she's the best o' the two, in throth. He'll have two stools; three hens, an' a toss-up for the cock. The biggest o' the two pots; two good crocks; three good wooden trenchers, an'—hem—he'll have his own—I say, Paddy, are you listenin' to me?—Phelim, do you hear what I'm givin' you, a veehonee?—his own bed! An' there's all I can or will do for him. Now do you spake up for Peggy."
"I'm to have my own bedstead too," said Phelim, "an' bad cess to the stouter one in Europe. It's as good this minute as it was eighteen years agone."
"Paddy Donovan, spake up," said Larry.
"Spake up!" said Paddy, contemptuously. "Is it for three crowns' worth I'd spake up? The bedstead, Phelim! Bedhu husth, (* hold your tongue) man!"
"Put round the bottle," said Phelim, "we're dhry here."
"Thrue enough, Phelim," said the father. "Paddy, here's towarst you an' yours—nabors—all your healths—young couple! Paddy, give us your hand, man alive! Sure, whether we agree or not, this won't put between us."
"Throth, it won't, Larry—an' I'm thankful to you. Your health, Larry, an' all your healths! Phelim an' Peggy, success to yez, whether or not! An' now, in regard o' your civility, I will spake up. My proposal is this:—I'll put down guinea for guinea wid you."
Now we must observe, by the way, that this was said under the firm conviction that neither Phelim nor the father had a guinea in their possession.
"I'll do that same, Paddy," said Larry; "but I'll lave it to the present company, if you're not bound to put down the first guinea. Nabors, amn't I right?"
"You are right, Larry," said Burn; "it's but fair that Paddy should put down the first."
"Molly, achora," said Donovan to the wife, who, by the way, was engaged in preparing the little feast usual on such occasions—"Molly, achora, give me that ould glove you have in your pocket."
She immediately handed him an old shammy glove, tied up into a hard knot, which he felt some difficulty in unloosing.
"Come, Larry," said he, laying down a guinea-note, "cover that like a man."
"Phelim carries my purse," observed the father; but he had scarcely spoken when the laughter of the company rang loudly through the house—The triumph of Donovan appeared to be complete, for he thought the father's alusion to Phelim tantamount to an evasion.
"Phelim! Phelim carries it! Faix, an' I, doubt he finds it a light burdyeen."
Phelim approached in all his glory.
"What am I to do?" he inquired, with a swagger.
"You're to cover that guinea-note wid a guinea, if you can," said Donovan.
"Whether 'ud you prefar goold or notes," said Phelim, looking pompously about him; "that's the talk."
This was received with another merry peal of laughter.
"Oh, goold—goold by all manes!" replied Donovan.
"Here goes the goold, my worthy," said Phelim, laying down his guinea with a firm slap upon the table.
Old Donovan seized it, examined it, then sent it round, to satisfy himself that it was a bona fide guinea.
On finding that it was good, he became blank a little; his laugh lost its strength, much of his jollity was instantly neutralized, and his face got at least two inches longer. Larry now had the laugh against him, and the company heartily joined in it.
"Come, Paddy," said Larry, "go an!—ha, ha, ha!"
Paddy fished for half a minute through the glove; and, after what was apparently a hard chase, brought up another guinea, which he laid down.
"Come, Phelim!" said he, and his eye brightened again with a hope that Phelim would fail.
"Good agin!" said Phelim, thundering down another, which was instantly subjected to a similar scrutiny.
"You'll find it good," said Larry. "I wish we had a sackful o' them. Go an, Paddy. Go an, man, who's afeard?"
"Sowl, I'm done," said Donovan, throwing down the purse with a hearty laugh—"give me your hand, Larry. Be the goold afore us, I thought to do you. Sure these two guineas is for my rint, an' we mustn't let them come atween us at all."
"Now," said Larry, "to let you see that my son's not widout something to begin the world wid—Phelim, shill out the rest o' the yallow boys."
"Faix, you ought to dhrink the ould woman's health for this," said Phelim. "Poor ould crathur, many a long day she was savin' up these for me. It's my mother I'm speakin' about."
"An' we will, too," said the father; "here's Sheelah's health, neighbors! The best poor man's wife that ever threwn a gown over her shouldhers."
This was drank with all the honors, and the negotiation proceeded.
"Now," said Appleton, "what's to be done? Paddy, say what you'll do for the girl."
"Money's all talk," said Donovan; "I'll give the girl the two-year ould heifer—an' that's worth double what his father has promised Phelim; I'll give her a stone o' flax, a dacent suit o' clo'es, my blessin'—an' there's her fortune."
"Has she neither bed nor beddin'?" inquired Larry.
"Why, don't you say that Phelim's to have his own bed?" observed Donovan. "Sure one bed 'ill be plinty for them."
"I don't care a damn about fortune," said Phelim, for the first time taking a part in the bargain—"so long as I get the darlin' herself. But I think there 'ud be no harm in havin' a spare pair o' blankets—an', for that matther, a bedstead, too—in case a friend came to see a body."
"I don't much mind givin' you a brother to the bedstead you have, Phelim," replied Donovan, winking at the company, for he was perfectly aware of the nature of Phelim's bedstead.
"I'll tell you what you must do," said Larry, "otherwise I'll not stand it. Give the colleen a chaff bed, blankets an' all other parts complate, along wid that slip of a pig. If you don't do this, Paddy Donovan, why we'll finish the whiskey an' part friends—but it's no match."
"I'll never do it, Larry. The bed an' beddin' I'll give; but the pig I'll by no manner o' manes part wid."
"Put round the bottle," said Phelim, "we're gettin' dhry agin—sayin' nothin' is dhroothy work. Ould man, will you not bother us about fortune!"
"Come, Paddy Donnovan," wid Devlin, "dang it, let out a little, considher he has ten guineas; and I give it as my downright maxim an opinion, that he's fairly entitled to the pig."
"You're welcome to give your opinion, Antony, an' I'm welcome not to care a rotten sthraw about it. My daughter's wife enough for him, widout a gown to her back, if he had his ten guineas doubled."
"An' my son," said Larry, "is husband enough for a betther girl nor ever called you father—not makin' little, at the same time, of either you or her."
"Paddy," said Burn, "there's no use in spakin' that way. I agree wid Antony, that you ought to throw in the 'slip.'"
"Is it what I have to pay my next gale o' rint wid? No, no! If he won't marry her widout it, she'll get as good that will."
"Saize the 'slip," said Phelim, "the darlin' herself here is all the slip I want."
"But I'm not so," said Larry, "the 'slip' must go in, or it's a brake off. Phelim can get girls that has money enough to buy us all out o' root. Did you hear that, Paddy Donovan?"
"I hear it," said Paddy, "but I'll b'lieve as much of it as I like."
Phelim apprehended that as his father got warm with the liquor, he might, in vindicating the truth of his own assertion, divulge the affair of the old housekeeper.
"Ould man," said he "have sinse, an' pass that over, if you have any regard for Phelim."
"I'd not be brow-bate into anything," observed Donovan.
"Sowl, you would not," said Phelim; "for my part, Paddy, I'm ready to marry your daughther (a squeeze to Peggy) widout a ha'p'orth at all, barrin' herself. It's the girl I want, an' not the slip."
"Thin, be the book, you'll get both, Phelim, for your dacency," said Donovan; "but, you see I wouldn't be bullied into' puttin' one foot past the other, for the best man that ever stepped on black leather."
"Whish!" said Appleton, "that's the go! Success ould heart! Give us your hand, Paddy,—here's your good health, an' may you never button an empty pocket!"
"Is all settled?" inquired Molly.
"All, but about the weddin' an' the calls," replied her husband. "How are we to do about that, Larry?"
"Why, in the name o' Goodness, to save time," he replied, "let them be called on Sunday next, the two Sundays afther, an thin marrid, wid a blessin'."
"I agree wid that entirely," observed Molly; "an' now Phelim, clear away, you an' Peggy, off o' that chist, till we have our bit o' supper in comfort."
"Phelim," said Larry, "when the suppers done, you must slip over to Roche's for a couple o' bottles more o' whiskey. We'll make a night of it."
"There's two bottles in the house," said Donovan; "an', be the saikerment, the first man that talks of bringin' in more, till these is dhrunk, is ondacent."
This was decisive. In the meantime, the chest was turned into a table, the supper laid, and the attack commenced. All was pleasure, fun, and friendship. The reader may be assured that Phelim, during the negotiation, had not misspent the time with Peggy, Their conversation, however, was in a tone too low to be heard by those who were themselves talking loudly.
One thing, however, Phelim understood from his friend Sam Appleton, which was, that some clue had been discovered to an outrage in which he (Appleton) had been concerned. Above all other subjects, that was one on which Phelim was but a poor comforter. He himself found circumspection necessary; and he told Appleton, that if ever danger approached him, he had resolved either to enlist, or go to America, if he could command the money.
"You ought to do that immediately," added Phelim.
"Where's the money?" replied the other. "I don't know," said Phelim; "but if I was bent on goin', the want of money wouldn't stop me as long as it could be found in the counthry. We had to do as bad for others, an' it can't be a greater sin to do that much for ourselves."
"I'll think of it," said Appleton. "Any rate, it's in for a penny, in for a pound, wid me."
When supper was over, they resumed their drinking, sang songs, and told anecdotes with great glee and hilarity. Phelim and Peggy danced jigs and reels, whilst Appleton sang for them, and the bottle also did its duty.
On separating about two o'clock, there was not a sober man among them but Appleton. He declined drinking, and was backed in his abstemiousness by Phelim, who knew that sobriety on the part of Sam would leave himself more liquor. Phelim, therefore, drank for them both, and that to such excess, that Larry, by Appleton's advice, left him at his father's in consequence of his inability to proceed homewards. It was not, however, without serious trouble that Appleton could get Phelim and the father separated; and when he did, Larry's grief was bitter in the extreme. By much entreaty, joined to some vigorous shoves towards the door, he was prevailed upon to depart without him; but the old man compensated for the son's absence, by indulging in the most vociferous sorrow as he went along, about "Ma Phelim." When he reached home, his grief burst out afresh; he slapped the palms of his hands together, and indulged in a continuous howl, that one on hearing it would imagine to be the very echo of misery, When he had fatigued himself, he fell asleep on the bed, without having undressed, where he lay until near nine o'clock the next morning. Having got up and breakfasted, he related to his wife, with an aching head, the result of the last night's proceedings. Everything he assured her was settled: Phelim and Peggy were to be called the following Sunday, as Phelim, he supposed, had already informed her.
"Where's Phelim?" said the wife; "an' why didn't he come home wid you last night?"
"Where is Phelim? Why, Sheelah, woman sure he did come home wid me last night."
"Ghrush orrin, Larry, no! What could happen him? Why, man, I thought you knew where he was; an' in regard of his bein' abroad so often at night, myself didn't think it sthrange."
Phelim's absence astounded them both, particularly the father, who had altogether forgotten everything that had happened on the preceding night, after the period of his intoxication. He proposed to go back to Donovan's to inquire for him, and was about to proceed there when Phelim made his appearance, dressed in his own tender apparel only. His face was three inches longer than usual, and the droop in his eye remarkably conspicuous.
"No fear of him," said the father, "here's himself. Arrah, Phelim, what became of you last night? Where wor you?"
Phelim sat down very deliberately and calmly, looked dismally at his mother, and then looked more dismally at his father.
"I suppose you're sick too, Phelim," said the father. "My head's goin' round like a top."
"Ate your breakfast," said his mother; it's the best thing for you."
"Where wor you last night, Phelim?" inquired the father.
"What are you sayin', ould man?"
"Who wor you wid last night?"
"Do, Phelim," said the mother, "tell us, aroon. I hope it wasn't out you wor. Tell us, avourneen?"
"Ould woman, what are you talking about?"
Phelim whistled "ulican dim oh," or, "the song of sorrow." At length he bounced to his feet, and exclaimed in a loud, rapid voice:—"Ma chuirp an diouol! ould couple, but I'm robbed of my ten guineas by Sam Appleton!"
"Robbed by Sam Appleton! Heavens above!" exclaimed the father.
"Robbed by Sam Appleton! Gra machree, Phelim! no, you aren't!" exclaimed the mother.
"Gra machree yourself! but I say I am," replied Phelim; "robbed clane of every penny of it!"
Phelim then sat down to breakfast—for he was one of those happy mortals whose appetite is rather sharpened by affliction—and immediately related to his father and mother the necessity which Appleton's connection had imposed on him of leaving the country; adding, that while he was in a state of intoxication, he had been stripped of Appleton's clothes; that his own were left beside him; that when he awoke the next morning, he found his borrowed suit gone; that on searching for his own, he found, to his misery, that the ten guineas had disappeared along with Appleton, who, he understood from his father, had "left the neighborhood for a while, till the throuble he was in 'ud pass over."
"But I know where he's gone," said Phelim, "an' may the divil's luck go wid him, an' God's curse on the day I ever had anything to do wid that hell-fire Ribbon business! 'Twas he first brought me into it, the villain; an' now I'd give the town land we're in to be fairly out of it."
"Hanim an diouol!" said the father, "is the ten guineas gone? The curse of hell upon him, for a black desaver! Where's the villain, Phelim?"
"He's gone to America," replied the son* "The divil tare the tongue out o' myself,' too! I should be puttin' him up to go there, an' to get money, if it was to be had. The villain bit me fairly."
"Well, but how are we to manage?" inquired Larry. "What's to be done?"
"Why," said the other, "to bear it an say nothin'. Even if he was in his father's house, the double-faced villain has me so much in his power, that I couldn't say a word about it. My curse on the Ribbon business, I say, from my heart out!"
That day was a very miserable one to Phelim and the father. The loss of the ten guineas, and the feverish sickness produced from their debauch, rendered their situation not enviable. Some other small matters, too, in which Phelim was especially concerned, independent of the awkward situation in which he felt himself respecting the three calls on the following day, which was Sunday, added greater weight to his anxiety. He knew not how to manage, especially upon the subject of his habiliments, which certainly were in a very dilapidated state. An Irishman, however, never despairs. If he has not apparel of his own sufficiently decent to wear on his wedding-day, he borrows from a friend. Phelim and his father remembered that there were several neighbors in the village, who would oblige him with a suit for the wedding; and as to the other necessary expenses, they did what their countrymen are famous for—they trusted to chance.
"We'll work ourselves out of it some way," said Larry. "Sure, if all fails us, we can sell the goats for the weddin' expenses. It's one comfort that Paddy Donovan must find the dinner; an' all we have to get is the whiskey, the marriage money, an' some other thrifies."
"They say," observed Phelim, "that people have more luck whin they're married than whin they're single. I'll have a bout at the marriage, so I will; for worse luck I can't have, if I had half a dozen wives, than I always met wid."
* This is another absurd opinion peculiar to the Irish, and certainly one of the most pernicious that prevail among them. Indeed, I believe there is no country in which so many absurd maxims exist.
"I'll go down," observed Larry, "to Paddy Donovan's, an' send him to the priest's to dive in your names to be called to-morrow. Faith, it's well that you won't have to appear, or I dunna how you'd get over it."
"No," said Phelim, "that bill won't pass. You must go to the priest yourself, an' see the curate: if you go near Father O'Hara, it 'ud knock a plan on the head that I've invinted. I'm in the notion that I'll make the ould woman bleed agin. I'll squeeze as much out of her as I'll bring me to America, for I'm not overly safe here; or, if all fails, I'll marry her, an' run away wid the money. It 'ud bring us all across."
Larry's interview with the curate was but a short one. He waited on Donovan, however, before he went, who expressed himself satisfied with the arrangement, and looked forward to the marriage as certain. As for Phelim, the idea of being called to three females at the same time, was one that tickled his vanity very much. Vanity, where the fair sex was concerned, had been always his predominant failing. He was not finally determined on marriage with any of them; but he knew that should he even escape the three, the eclat, resulting from so celebrated a transaction would recommend him to the sex for the remainder of his life. Impressed with this view of the matter, he sauntered about as usual; saw Foodie Flattery's daughter, and understood that her uncle had gone to the priest, to have his niece and worthy Phelim called the next day. But besides this hypothesis, Phelim had another, which, after all, was the real one. He hoped that the three applications would prevent the priest from calling him at all.
The priest, who possessed much sarcastic humor, on finding the name of Phelim come in as a candidate for marriage honors with three different women, felt considerably puzzled to know what he could be at. That Phelim might hoax one or two of them was very probable, but that he should have the effrontery to make him the instrument of such an affair, he thought a little too bad.
"Now," said he to his curate, as they talked the matter over that night. "it is quite evident that this scapegrace reckons upon our refusal to call him with any of those females to-morrow. It is also certain that not one of the three to whom he has pledged himself is aware that he is under similar obligations to the other two."
"How do you intend to act, sir?" inquired the curate.
"Why," said Mr. O'Hara, "certainly to call him to each: it will give the business a turn for which he is not prepared. He will stand exposed, moreover, before the congregation, and that will be some punishment to him."
"I don't know as to the punishment," replied the curate. "If ever a human being was free from shame, Phelim is. The fellow will consider it a joke."
"Very possible," observed his superior, "but I am anxious to punish this old woman. It may prevent her from uniting herself with a fellow who certainly would, on becoming master of her money, immediately abandon her—perhaps proceed to America."
"It will also put the females of the parish on their guard against him," said the innocent curate, who knew not that it would raise him highly in their estimation.
"We will have a scene, at all events," said Mr. O'Hara; "for I'm resolved to expose him. No blame can be attached to those whom he has duped, excepting only the old woman, whose case will certainly excite a great deal of mirth. That matters not, however; she has earned the ridicule, and let her bear it." It was not until Sunday morning that the three calls occurred to Phelim in a new light.
He forgot that the friends of the offended parties might visit upon his proper carcase the contumely he offered to them. This, however, did not give him much anxiety, for Phelim was never more in his element than when entering upon a row.
The Sunday in question was fine, and the congregation unusually large; one would think that all the inhabitants of the parish of Teernarogarah had been assembled. Most of them certainly were.
The priest, after having gone through the usual ceremonies of the Sabbath worship, excepting those with which he concludes the mass, turned round to the congregation, and thus addressed them:—
"I would not," said he, "upon any other occasion of this kind, think it necessary to address you at all; but this is one perfectly unique, and in some degree patriarchal, because, my friends, we are informed that it was allowed in the times of Abraham and his successors, to keep more than one wife. This custom is about being revived by a modern, who wants, in rather a barefaced manner, to palm himself upon us as a patriarch. And who do you think, my friends, this Irish Patriarch is? Why, no other than bouncing Phelim O'Toole!"
This was received precisely as the priest anticipated: loud were the snouts of laughter from all parts of the congregation.
"Divil a fear o' Phelim!" they exclaimed. "He wouldn't be himself, or he'd kick up a dust some way."
"Blessed Phelim! Just like him! Faith, he couldn't be marrid in the common coorse!"
"Arrah, whisht till we hear the name o' the happy crathur that's to be blisthered with Phelim! The darlin's in luck, whoever she is, an' has gained a blessed prize in the 'Bouncer.'"
"This bouncing patriarch," continued the priest, "has made his selection with great judgment and discrimination. In the first place, he has pitched upon a hoary damsel of long standing in the world;—one blessed with age and experience. She is qualified to keep Phelim's house well, as soon as it shall be built; but whether she will be able to keep Phelim himself, is another consideration. It is not unlikely that Phelim, in imitation of his great prototypes, may prefer living in a tent. But whether she keeps Phelim or the house, one thing is certain, that Phelim will keep her money. Phelim selected this aged woman, we presume, for her judgment; for surely she who has given such convincing proof of discretion, must make a useful partner to one who, like Phelim, has that virtue yet to learn. I have no doubt, however, but in a short time he will be as discreet as his teacher."
"Blood alive! Isn't that fine language?"
"You may say that! Begad, it's himself can discoorse! What's the Protestants to that?"
"The next upon the list is one who, though a poor man's daughter, will certainly bring property to Phelim. There is also an aptness in this selection, which does credit to the 'Patriarch.' Phelim is a great dancer, an accomplishment with which we do not read that the patriarchs themselves were possessed: although we certainly do read that a light heel was of little service to Jacob. Well, Phelim carries a light heel, and the second female of his choice on this list carries a 'light hand;' (* Intimating theft) it is, therefore, but natural to suppose that, if ever they are driven to extremities, they will make light of many things which other people would consider as of weighty moment. Whether Phelim and she may long remain stationary in this country, is a problem more likely to be solved at the county assizes than here. It is not improbable that his Majesty may recommend the 'Patriarch' and one of his wives to try the benefit of a voyage to New South Wales, he himself graciously vouch-saving to bear their expenses."
"Divil a lie in that, anyhow! If ever any one crossed the wather, Phelim will. Can't his Reverence be funny whin he plases?"
"Many a time it was prophecized for him: an' his Reverence knows best."
"Begad, Phelim's gettin' over the coals. But sure it's all the way the father an' mother reared him."
"Tunder-an'-trff, is he goin' to be called to a pair o' them?"
"Faix, so it seems."
"Oh, the divil's clip! Is he mad? But let us hear it out."
"The third damsel is by no means so, well adapted for Phelim as either of the other two. What she could have seen in him is another problem much more difficult than the one I have mentioned. I would advise her to reconsider the subject, and let Phelim have the full benefit of the attention she may bestow upon it. If she finds the 'Patriarch' possessed of any one virtue, except necessity, I will admit that it is pretty certain that she will soon discover the longitude, and that has puzzled the most learned men of the world. If she marries this 'Patriarch', I think the angels who may visit him will come in the shape of policemen; and that Phelim, so long as he can find a cudgel, will give them anything but a patriarchal reception, is another thing of which we may rest pretty certain.
"I. now publish the bans of matrimony between Phelim O'Toole of Teernarogarah, and Bridget Doran of Dernascobe. If any person knows of any impediment why these two should not be joined in wedlock, they are bound to declare it.
"This Bridget Doran, my friends, is no other than my old housekeeper; but when, where, or how, Phelim could have won upon her juvenile affections is one of those mysteries which is never to be explained. I dare say, the match was brought about by despair on her side, and necessity on his. She despaired of getting a husband, and he had a necessity for the money. In point of age I admit she would make a very fit wife for any 'Patriarch.'"
Language could not describe the effect which this disclosure produced upon the congregation. The fancy of every one present was tickled at the idea of a union between Phelim and the old woman. It was followed by roars of laughter which lasted several minutes.
"Oh, thin, the curse o' the crows upon him, was he only able to butther up the ould woman! Oh, Ghe dldven! that flogs. Why, it's a wondher he didn't stale the ould slip, an' make a run-away match of it—ha, ha, ha! Musha, bad scran to her, but she had young notions of her own! A purty bird she picked up in Phelim!—ha, ha, ha!"
"I also publish the banns of matrimony between Phelim O'Toole of Teernarogarah and Sally Flattery of the same place. If any of you knows of any impediment why they should not be joined in wedlock you are bound to declare it."
The mirth rose again, loud and general. Poodle Flattery, whose character was so well known, appeared so proper a father-in-law for Phelim, that his selection in this instance delighted them highly.
"Betther an' betther, Phelim! More power to you! You're fixed at last. Poodle Flattery's daughter—a known thief! Well, what harm? Phelim himself has pitch on his fingers—or had, anyhow, when he was growin' up—for many a thing stuck to them. Oh, bedad, now we know what his Reverence was at when he talked about the 'Sizes, bad luck to them! Betune her an' the ould woman, Phelim 'ud be in Paradise! Foodie Flattery's daughter! Begad, she'll 'bring him property' sure enough, as his Reverence says."
"I also publish the banns of matrimony between Phelim O'Toole—whom we must in future call the 'Patriarch'—of Teernarogarah, and Peggy Donovan of the same place. If any of you knows any impediment in the way of their marriage, you are bound to declare it."
"Bravo! Phelim acushla. 'Tis you that's the blessed youth. Tundher-an'-whiskey, did ever any body hear of sich desate? To do three o' them. Be sure the Bouncer has some schame in this. Well, one would suppose Paddy Donovan an' his daughter had more sinse nor to think of sich a runagate as Bouncin' Phelim."
"No, but the Pathriark! Sure his Reverence sez that we musn't call him anything agin but the Pathriark! Oh, be gorra, that's the name!—ha, ha, ha!"
When the mirth of the congregation had subsided, and their comments ended, the priest concluded in the following words:—
"Now, my friends, here is such a piece of profligacy as I have never, in the whole course of my pastoral duties, witnessed. It is the act of Phelim O'Toole, be it known, who did not scruple to engage himself for marriage to three females—that is, to two girls and an old woman—and who, in addition, had the effrontery to send me his name and theirs, to be given out all on the same Sunday; thus making me an instrument in his hands to hoax those who trusted in his word. That he can marry but one of them is quite clear; but that he would not scruple to marry the three, and three more to complete the half-dozen, is a fact which no one who knows him will doubt. For my part, I know not how this business may terminate. Of a truth he has contrived to leave the claims of the three females in a state of excellent confusion. Whether it raise or lessen him in their opinion I cannot pretend to determine. I am sorry for Donovan's daughter, for I know not what greater calamity could befall any honest family than a matrimonial union with Phelim O'Toole. I trust that this day's proceedings will operate as a caution to the females of the parish against such an unscrupulous reprobate. It is for this purpose only that I publish the names given in to me. His character was pretty well known before; it is now established; and having established it, I dismiss the subject altogether."
Phelim's fame was now nearly at its height. Never before had such a case been known; yet the people somehow were not so much astonished as might be supposed. On the contrary, had Phelim's courtship gone off like that of another man, they would have felt more surprised. We need scarcely say, that the "giving out" or "calling" of Phelim and the three damsels was spread over the whole parish before the close of that Sunday. Every one had it—man, woman, and child. It was told, repeated, and improved as it went along. Now circumstances were added, fresh points made out, and other dramatis personae brought in—all with great felicity, and quite suitable to Phelim's character.
Strongly contrasted with the amusement of the parishioners in general, was the indignation felt by the three damsels and their friends. The old housekeeper was perfectly furious; so much so, indeed, that the priest gave some dark hints at the necessity of sending for a strait waistcoat. Her fellow-servants took the liberty of breaking some strong jests upon her, in return for which she took the liberty of breaking two strong churnstaves upon them. Being a remarkably stout woman for her years, she put forth her strength to such purpose that few of them went to bed without sore bones. The priest was seriously annoyed at it, for he found that his house was a scene of battle during the remainder of the day.
Sally Flattery's uncle, in the absence of her father, indignantly espoused the cause of his niece. He and Donovan each went among their friends to excite in them a proper resentment, and to form a faction for the purpose of chastising Phelim. Their chagrin was bitter on finding that their most wrathful representations of the insult sustained by their families, were received with no other spirit than one of the most extravagant mirth. In vain did they rage and fume, and swear; they could get no one to take a serious view of it. Phelim O'Toole was the author of all, and from him it was precisely what they had expected.
Phelim himself, and the father, on hearing of the occurrence after mass, were as merry as any other two in the parish. At first the father was disposed to lose his temper; but on Phelim telling him he would bear no "gosther" on the subject, he thought proper to take it in good humor. About this time they had not more than a week's provision in the house, and only three shillings of capital. The joke of the three calls was too good a one to pass off as an ordinary affair; they had three shillings, and although it was their last, neither of them could permit the matter to escape as a dry joke. They accordingly repaired to the little public-house of the village, where they laughed at the world, got drunk, hugged each other, despised all mankind, and staggered home, Fagged and merry, poor and hearty, their arms about each other's necks, perfect models of filial duty and paternal affection.
The reader is aware that the history of Phelim's abrupt engagement with the housekeeper, was conveyed by Fool Art to Sally Flattery. Her thievish character rendered marriage as hopeless to her as length of days did to Bridget Doran. No one knew the plan she had laid for Phelim, but this fool, and, in order to secure his silence, she had promised him a shirt on the Monday after the first call. Now Art, as was evident by his endless habit of shrugging, felt the necessity of a shirt very strongly.
About ton o'clock on Monday he presented himself to Sally, and claimed his recompense.
"Art," said Sally, "the shirt I intended for you is upon Squire Nugent's hedge beside their garden. You know the family's goin' up to Dublin on Thursday, Art, an' they're gettin' their washin' done in time to be off. Go down, but don't let any one see you; take the third shirt on the row, an' bring it up to me till I smooth it for you."
Art sallied down to the hedge on which the linen had been put out to dry, and having reconnoitered the premises, shrugged himself, and cast a longing eye on the third shirt. With that knavish penetration, however, peculiar to such persons, he began to reflect that Sally might have some other object in view besides his accommodation. He determined, therefore, to proceed upon new principles—sufficiently safe, he thought, to protect him from the consequences of theft. "Good-morrow, Bush," said Art, addressing that on which the third shirt was spread. "Isn't it a burnin' shame an' a sin for you," he continued, "to have sich a line white shirt an you, an' me widout a stitch to my back. Will you swap?"
Having waited until the bush had due time to reply.
"Sorra fairer," he observed; "silence gives consint."
In less than two minutes he stripped, put on one of the Squire's best shirts, and spread out his own dusky fragment in its place.
"It's a good thing," said Art, "to have a clear conscience; a fair exchange is no robbery."
Now, it so happened that the Squire himself, who was a humorist, and also a justice of the peace, saw Art putting his morality in practice at the hedge. He immediately walked out with an intention of playing off a trick upon the fool for his dishonesty; and he felt the greater inclination to do this in consequence of an opinion long current, that Art, though he had outwitted several, had never been outwitted himself.
Art had been always a welcome guest in the Squire's kitchen, and never passed the "Big House," as an Irish country gentleman's residence is termed, without calling. On this occasion, however, he was too cunning to go near it—a fact which the Squire observed. By taking a short cut across one of his own fields, he got before Art, and turning the angle of a hedge, met him trotting along at his usual pace.
"Well, Art, where now?"
"To the crass roads, your honor."
"Art, is not this a fine place of mine? Look at these groves, and the lawn, and the river there, and the mountains behind all. Is it not equal to Sir William E——-'s?"
Sir William was Art's favorite patron.
"Sir William, your honor, has all this at his place."
"But I think my views are finer."
"They're fine enough," replied Art; "but where's the lake afore the door?"
The Squire said no more about his prospects.
"Art," he continued, "would you carry a letter from me to M——-?"
"I'll be wantin' somethin' to dhrink on the way," said Art.
"You shall get something to eat and drink before you go," said the Squire, "and half-a-crown for your trouble."
"Augh," exclaimed Art, "be dodda, sir, you're nosed like Sir William, and chinned like Captain Taylor." This was always Art's compliment when pleased.
The Squire brought him up to the house, ordered him refreshment, and while Art partook of it, wrote a letter of mittimus to the county jailor, authorizing him to detain the bearer in prison until he should hear further from him.
Art, having received the half-crown and the letter, appeared delighted; but, on hearing the name of the person to whom it was addressed, he smelt a trick. He promised faithfully, however, to deliver it, and betrayed no symptoms whatever of suspicion. After getting some distance from the big house, he set his wits to work, and ran over in his mind the names of those who had been most in the habit of annoying him. At the head of this list stood Phelim O'Toole, and on Phelim's head did he resolve to transfer the revenge which the Squire, he had no doubt, intended to take on himself.
With considerable speed he made way to Larry O'Toole's, where such a scene presented itself as made him for a moment forget the immediate purport of his visit.
Opposite Phelim, dressed out in her best finery, stood the housekeeper, zealously insisting' on either money or marriage. On one side of him stood old Donovan and his daughter, whom he had forced to come, in the character of a witness, to support his charges against the gay deceiver. On the other were ranged Sally Flattery, in tears, and her uncle in wrath, each ready to pounce upon Phelim.
Phelim stood the very emblem of patience and good-humor. When one of them attacked him, he winked at the other two when either of the other two came on, he Winked still at those who took breath. Sometimes he trod on his father's toe, lest the old fellow might lose the joke, and not unfrequently proposed their going to a public-house, and composing their differences over a bottle, if any of them would pay the expenses.
"What do you mane to do?" said the housekeeper; "but it's asy known I'm an unprojected woman, or I wouldn't be thrated as I am. If I had relations livin' or near me, we'd pay you on the bones for bringin' me to shame and scandal, as you have done."
"Upon my sanies, Mrs. Doran, I feel for your situation, so I do," said Phelim. You've outlived all your friends, an' if it was in my power to bring any o' them back to you I'd do it."
"Oh, you desaver, is that the feelin' you have for me, when I thought you'd be a guard an' a projection to me? You know I have the money, you sconce, an' how comfortable it 'ud keep us, if you'd only see what's good for you. You blarnied an' palavered me, you villain, till you gained my infections an' thin you tuck the cholic as an excuse to lave me in a state of dissolution an' disparagement. You promised to marry me, an' you had no notion of it."
"You're not the only one he has disgraced, Mrs. Doran," said Donovan. "A purty way he came down, himself an' his father, undher pretence of coortin' my daughter. He should lay down his ten guineas, too, to show us what he had to begin the world wid, the villain!—an' him had no notion of it aither."
"An' he should send this girl to make me go to the priest to have him and her called, the reprobate," said Nick Flattery; "an' him had no notion of it aither."
"Sure he sent us all there," exclaimed Donovan.
"He did," said the old woman.
"Not a doubt of it," observed Flattery.
"Ten guineas!" said the housekeeper. "An' so you brought my ten guineas in your pocket to coort another girl! Aren't you a right profligate?"
"Yes," said Donovan, "aren't you a right profligate?"
"Answer the dacent people," said Mattery, "aren't you a right profligate?"
"Take the world asy, all of ye," replied Phelim. "Mrs. Doran, there was three of you called, sure enough; but, be the vestments, I intinded—do you hear me, Mrs. Doran? Now have rason—I say, do you hear me? Be the vestmints, I intinded to marry only one of you; an' that I'll do still, except I'm vexed—(a wink at the old woman). Yet you're all flyin' at me, as if I had three heads or three tails upon me."
"Maybe the poor boy's not so much to blame," said Mrs. Doran. "There's hussies in this world," and here she threw an angry eye upon the other two, "that 'ud give a man no pace till he'd promise to marry them."
"Why did he promise to them that didn't want him thin?" exclaimed Donovan. "I'm not angry that he didn't marry my daughther—for I wouldn't give her to him now—but I am at the slight he put an her."
"Paddy Donovan, did you hear what I said jist now?" replied Phelim, "I wish to Jamini some people 'ud have sinse! Be them five crasses, I knew thim I intinded to marry, as well as I do where I'm standin'. That's plain talk, Paddy. I'm sure the world's not passed yet, I hope"—(a wink at Paddy Donovan.)
"An' wasn't he a big rascal to make little of my brother's daughter as he did?" said Flattery; "but he'll rub his heels together for the same act."
"Nick Flathery, do you think I could marry three wives? Be that horseshoe over the door, Sally Flathery, you didn't thrate me dacent. She did not, Nick, an' you ought to know that it was wrong of her to come here to-day."
"Well, but what do you intind to do Phelim, avourn—you profligate?" said the half-angry, half-pacified housekeeper, who, being the veteran, always led on the charge. "Why, I intind to marry one of you," said Phelim. "I say, Mrs. Doran, do you see thim ten fingers acrass—be thim five crasses I'll do what I said, if nothing happens to put it aside."
"Then be an honest man," said Flattery, "an' tell us which o' them you will marry."
"Nick, don't you know I always regarded your family. If I didn't that I may never do an ill turn! Now! But some people can't see anything. Arrah, fandher-an'-whiskey, man, would you expect me to tell out before all that's here, who I'll marry—to be hurtin' the feelin's of the rest. Faith, I'll never do a shabby thing."
"What rekimpinse will you make my daughter for bringin' down her name afore the whole parish, along wid them she oughtn't to be named in the one day wid?" said Donovan.
"An' who is that, Paddy Donovan?" said the housekeeper, with a face of flame.
"None of your broad hints, Paddy," said Nick. "If it's a collusion to Sally Flattery you mane, take care I don't make you ate your words."
"Paddy," exclaimed Phelim, "you oughtn't to be hurtin' their feelin's!"—(a friendly wink to Paddy.)
"If you mane me," said the housekeeper, "by the crook on the fire, I'd lave you a mark."
"I mane you for one, thin, since you provoke me," replied Donovan.
"For one, is it?" said Nick; "an' who's the other, i' you plase?"
"Your brother's daughter," he replied. "Do you think I'd even (* compare) my daughter to a thief?"
"Be gorra," observed Phelim, "that's too provokin', an' what I wouldn't bear. Will ye keep the pace, I say, till I spake a word to Mrs Doran? Mrs. Doran, can I have a word or two wid you outside the house?"
"To be sure you can," she replied; "I'd give you fair play, if the diouol was in you."
Phelim, accordingly, brought her out, and thus accosted her,—
"Now, Mrs. Doran, you think I thrated you ondacent; but do you see that book?" said he, producing a book of ballads, on which he had sworn many a similar oath before? "Be the contints o' that book, as sure as you're beside me, it's you I intind to marry. These other two—the curse o' the crows upon them! I wish we could get them from about the place—is bothyrin' for love o' me, an' I surely did promise to get myself called to them. They wanted it to be a promise of marriage; but, says I, 'sure if we're called together it's the same, for whin it comes to that, all's right,'—an' so I tould both o' them, unknownst to one another. Arra, be me sowl, you'd make two like them, so you would; an' if you hadn't a penny, I'd marry you afore aither o' them to-morrow. Now, there's the whole sacret, an' don't be onaisy about it. Tell Father O'Hara how it is, whin you go home, an' that he must call the three o' you to me agin on next Sunday, and the Sunday afther, plase Goodness; jist that I may keep my promise to them. You know I couldn't have luck or grace if I marrid you wid the sin of two broken promises on me."