There was nothing particular in the wedding. Mr. O'Connor was asked by Neal to be present at it: but he shook his head, and told him that he had not courage to attend it, or inclination to witness any man's sorrows but his own. He met the wedding party by accident, and was heard to exclaim with a sigh, as they flaunted past him in gay exuberance of spirits—"Ah, poor Neal! he is going like one of her father's cattle to the shambles! Woe is me for having suggested matrimony to the tailor! He will not long-be under the necessity of saying that he 'is blue-moulded for want of a beating.' The butcheress will fell him like a Kerry ox, and I may have his blood to answer for, and his discomfiture to feel for, in addition to my own miseries."
On the evening of the wedding-day, about the hour of ten o'clock, Neal—whose spirits were uncommonly exalted, for his heart luxuriated within him—danced with his bride's maid; after the dance he sat beside her, and got eloquent in praise of her beauty; and it is said, too, that he whispered to her, and chucked her chin with considerable gallantry. The tete-a-tete continued for some time without exciting particular attention, with one exception; but that exception was worth a whole chapter of general rules. Mrs. Malone rose up, then sat down again, and took off a glass of the native; she got up a second time—all the wife rushed upon her heart—she approached them, and in a fit of the most exquisite sensibility, knocked the bride's maid down, and gave the tailor a kick of affecting pathos upon the inexpressibles. The whole scene was a touching one on both sides. The tailor was sent on all-fours to the floor; but Mrs. Malone took him quietly up, put him under her arm as one would a lap dog, and with stately step marched him away to the connubial, apartment, in which everything remained very quiet for the rest of the night.
The next morning Mr. O'Connor presented himself to congratulate the tailor on his happiness. Neal, as his friend shook hands with him, gave the schoolmaster's fingers a slight squeeze, such as a man gives who would gently entreat your sympathy. The schoolmaster looked at him, and thought he shook his head. Of this, however, he could not be certain; for, as he shook his own during the moment of observation, he concluded that it might be a mere mistake of the eye, or perhaps the result of a mind predisposed to be credulous on the subject of shaking heads.
We wish it were in our power to draw a veil, or curtain, or blind of some description, over the remnant of the tailor's narrative that is to follow; but as it is the duty of every faithful historian to give the secret causes of appearances which the world in general do not understand, so we think it but honest to go on, impartially and faithfully, without shrinking from the responsibility that is frequently annexed to truth.
For the first three days after matrimony, Neal felt like a man who had been translated to a new and more lively state of existence. He had expected, and flattered himself, that, the moment this event should take place, he would once more resume his heroism, and experience the pleasure of a drubbing. This determination he kept a profound secret—nor was it known until a future period, when he disclosed it to Mr. O'Connor. He intended, therefore, that marriage should be nothing more than a mere parenthesis in his life—a kind of asterisk, pointing, in a note at the bottom, to this single exception in his general conduct—a nota bene to the spirit of a martial man, intimating that he had been peaceful only for a while. In truth, he was, during the influence of love over him, and up to the very day of his marriage, secretly as blue-moulded as ever for want of a beating. The heroic penchant lay snugly latent in his heart, unchecked and unmodified. He flattered himself that he was achieving a capital imposition upon the world at large—that he was actually hoaxing mankind in general—and that such an excellent piece of knavish tranquillity had never been perpetrated before his time.
On the first week after his marriage, there chanced to be a fair in the next market-town. Neal, after breakfast, brought forward a bunch of shillelahs, in order to select the best; the wife inquired the purpose of the selection, and Neal declared that he was resolved to have a fight that day, if it were to be had, he said, for love or money. "The thruth is," he exclaimed, strutting with fortitude about the house, "the thruth is, that I've done the whole of yez—I'm as blue-mowlded as ever for want of a batin'."
"Don't go," said the wife.
"I will go," said Neal, with vehemence; "I'll go if the whole parish was to go to prevint me."
In about another half-hour Neal sat down quietly to his business, instead of going to the fair!
Much ingenious speculation might be indulged in, upon this abrupt termination to the tailor's most formidable resolution; but, for our own part, we will prefer going on with the narrative, leaving the reader at liberty to solve the mystery as he pleases. In the mean time, we say this much—let those who cannot make it out, carry it to their tailor; it is a tailor's mystery, and no one has so good a right to understand it—except, perhaps, a tailor's wife.
At the period of his matrimony, Neal had become as plump and as stout as he ever was known to be in his plumpest and stoutest days. He and the schoolmaster had been very intimate about this time; but we know not how it happened that soon afterwards he felt a modest bridelike reluctance in meeting with that afflicted gentleman. As the eve of his union approached, he was in the habit, during the schoolmaster's visits to his workshop, of alluding, in rather a sarcastic tone, considering the unthriving appearance of his friend, to the increasing lustiness of his person. Nay, he has often leaped up from his lap-board, and, in the strong spirit of exultation, thrust out his leg in attestation of his assertion, slapping it, moreover, with a loud laugh of triumph, that sounded like a knell to the happiness of his emaciated acquaintance. The schoolmaster's philosophy, however, unlike his flesh, never departed from him; his usual observation was, "Neal, we are both receding from the same point; you increase in flesh, whilst I, heaven help me, am fast diminishing."
The tailor received these remarks with very boisterous mirth, whilst Mr. O'Connor simply shook his head, and looked sadly upon his limbs, now shrouded in a superfluity of garments, somewhat resembling a slender thread of water in a shallow summer stream, nearly wasted away, and surrounded by an unproportionate extent of channel.
The fourth month after the marriage arrived. Neal, one day, near its close, began to dress himself in his best apparel. Even then, when buttoning his waistcoat, he shook his head after the manner of Mr. O'Connor, and made observations upon the great extent to which it over-folded him.
Well, thought he, with a sigh—this waistcoat certainly did fit me to a T: but it's wondherful to think how—cloth stretches.
"Neal," said the wife, on perceiving him dressed, "where are you bound for?"
"Faith, for life," replied Neal, with a mitigated swagger; "and I'd as soon, if it had been the will of Provid—"
"Where are you going?" asked the wife, a second time.
"Why," he answered, "only to the dance at Jemmy Connolly's; I'll be back early."
"Don't go," said the wife. "I'll go," said Neal, "if the whole counthry was to prevent me. Thunder an' lightnin,' woman, who am I?" he exclaimed, in a loud but rather infirm voice; "arn't I Neal Malone, that never met a man who'd fight him! Neal Malone, that was never beat by man! Why, tare-an-ounze, woman! Whoo! I'll get enraged some time, an' play the divil? Who's afeard, I say?"
"Don't go," added the wife a third time, giving Neal a significant look in the face.
In about another half-hour, Neal sat down quietly to his business, instead of going to the dance!
Neal now turned himself, like many a sage in similar circumstances, to philosophy; that is to say—he began to shake his head upon principle, after the manner of the schoolmaster. He would, indeed, have preferred the bottle upon principle; but there was no getting at the bottle, except through the wife; and it so happened that by the time it reached him, there was little consolation left in it. Neal bore all in silence; for silence, his friend had often told him, was a proof of wisdom.
Soon after this, Neal, one evening, met Mr. O'Connor by chance upon a plank which crossed a river. This plank was only a foot in breadth, so that no two individuals could pass each other upon it. We cannot find words in which to express the dismay of both, on finding that they absolutely glided past one another without collision.
Both paused, and surveyed each other solemnly; but the astonishment was all on the side of Mr. O'Connor.
"Neal," said the schoolmaster, "by all the household gods, I conjure you to speak, that I may be assured you live!"
The ghost of a blush crossed the churchyard visage of the tailor.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, "why the devil did you tempt me to marry a wife."
"Neal," said his friend, "answer me in the most solemn manner possible—throw into your countenance all the gravity you can assume; speak as if you were under the hands of the hangman, with the rope about your neck, for the question is, indeed, a trying-one which I am about to put. Are you still 'blue-moulded for want of beating?'"
The tailor collected himself to make a reply; he put one leg out—the very leg which he used to show in triumph to his friend; but, alas, how dwindled! He opened his waistcoat, and lapped it round him, until he looked like a weasel on its hind legs. He then raised himself up on his tip toes, and, in an awful whisper, replied, "No!!! the devil a bit I'm blue-mowlded for want of a batin."
The schoolmaster shook his head in his own miserable manner; but, alas! he soon perceived that the tailor was as great an adept at shaking the head as himself. Nay, he saw that there was a calamitous refinement—a delicacy of shake in the tailor's vibrations, which gave to his own nod a very commonplace character.
The next day the tailor took in his clothes; and from time to time continued to adjust them to the dimensions of his shrinking person. The schoolmaster and he, whenever they could steal a moment, met and sympathized together. Mr. O'Connor, however, bore up somewhat better than Neal. The latter was subdued in heart and in spirit; thoroughly, completely, and intensely vanquished. His features became sharpened by misery, for a termagant wife is the whetstone on which all the calamities of a hen-pecked husband are painted by the devil. He no longer strutted as he was wont to do; he no longer carried a cudgel as if he wished to wage a universal battle with mankind. He was now a married man.—Sneakingiy, and with a cowardly crawl did he creep along as if every step brought him nearer to the gallows. The schoolmaster's march of misery was far slower than Neal's: the latter distanced him. Before three years passed, he had shrunk up so much, that he could not walk abroad of a windy day without carrying weights in his pockets to keep him firm on the earth, which he once trod with the step of a giant. He again sought the schoolmaster, with whom indeed he associated as much as possible. Here he felt certain of receiving sympathy; nor was he disappointed. That worthy, but miserable, man and Neal, often retired beyond the hearing of their respective wives, and supported each other by every argument in their power. Often have they been heard, in the dusk of evening, singing behind a remote hedge that melancholy ditty, "Let us both be unhappy together;" which rose upon the twilight breeze with a cautious quaver of sorrow truly heart-rending and lugubrious.
"Neal," said Mr. O'Connor, on one of those occasions, "here is a book which I recommend to your perusal; it is called 'The Afflicted Man's Companion;' try if you cannot glean some consolation out of it."
"Faith," said Neal, "I'm forever oblaged to you, but I don't want it. I've had 'The Afflicted Man's Companion' too long, and divil an atom of consolation I can get out of it. I have one o' them I tell you; but, be me sowl, I'll not undhertake a pair o' them. The very name's enough for me." They then separated.
The tailor's vis vitae must have been powerful, or he would have died. In two years more his friends could not distinguish him from his own shadow; a circumstance which was of great inconvenience to him. Several grasped at the hand of the shadow instead of his; and one man was near, paying it five and sixpence for making a pair of smallclothes. Neal, it is true, undeceived him with some trouble; but candidly admitted that he was not able to carry home the money. It was difficult, indeed, for the poor tailor to bear what he felt; it is true he bore it as long as he could; but at length he became suicidal, and often had thoughts of "making his own quietus with his bare bodkin." After many deliberations and afflictions, he ultimately made the attempt; but, alas! he found that the blood of the Malones refused to flow upon so ignominious an occasion. So he solved the phenomenon; although the truth was, that his blood was not "i' the vein" for't; none was to be had. What then was to be done? He resolved to get rid of life by some process; and the next that occurred to him was hanging. In a solemn spirit he prepared a selvage, and suspended himself from the rafter of his workshop; but here another disappintment awaited him—he would not hang. Such was his want of gravity, that his own weight proved insufficient to occasion his death by mere suspension. His third attempt was at drowning, but he was too light to sink; all the elements,—all his own energies joined themselves, he thought, in a wicked conspiracy to save his life. Having thus tried every avenue to destruction, and failed in all, he felt like a man doomed to live for ever. Henceforward he shrunk and shrivelled by slow degrees, until in the course of time he became so attenuated, that the grossness of human vision could no longer reach him.
This, however, could not last always. Though still alive, he was, to all intents and purposes, imperceptible. He could now only be heard; he was reduced to a mere essence—the very echo of human existence, vox el praiterea nihil. It is true the schoolmaster asserted that he occasionally caught passing glimpses of him; but that was because he had been himself nearly spiritualized by affliction, and his visual ray purged in the furnace of domestic tribulation. By and by Neal's voice lessened, got fainter and more indistinct, until at length nothing but a doubtful murmur could be heard, which ultimately could scarcely be distinguished from a ringing in the ears.
Such was the awful and mysterious fate of the tailor, who, as a hero, could not of course die; he merely dissolved like an icicle, wasted into immateriality, and finally melted away beyond the perception of mortal sense. Mr. O'Connor is still living, and once more in the fulness of perfect health and strength. His wife, however, we may as well hint, has been dead more than two years.
OR, THE BROKEN PLEDGE.
In proposing to write a series of "Tales for the Irish People," the author feels perfectly conscious of the many difficulties by which he is surrounded, and by which he may be still met in his endeavors to accomplish that important task. In order, however, to make everything as clear and intelligible as possible, he deems it necessary, in the first place, to state what his object is in undertaking it: that object is simply to improve their physical and social condition—generally; and through the medium of vivid and striking, but unobjectionable narratives, to inculcate such principles as may enable Irishmen to think more clearly, reason more correctly, and act more earnestly upon the general duties, which, from their position in life, they are called upon to perform. With regard to those who feel apprehensive that anything calculated to injure the doctrinal convictions of the Catholic people may be suffered to creep into these Tales, the author has only to assure them—that such an object comes within the scope neither of his plan or inclinations. It is not his intention to make these productions the vehicles of Theology or Polemics; but studiously to avoid anything and everything that even approaches the sphere of clerical duty. His object, so far from that, is the inculcation of general, not peculiar, principles—principles which neither affect nor offend any creed, but which are claimed and valued by all. In this way, by making amusement the handmaiden of instruction, the author believes it possible to let into the cabin, the farm-house, and even the landlord's drawing-room, a light by which each and all of them may read many beneficial lessons—lessons that will, it is hoped, abide with them, settle down in their hearts, and by giving them a, clearer sense of their respective duties, aid in improving and regenerating their condition.
To send to the poor man's fireside, through the medium of Tales that will teach his heart and purify his affections, those simple lessons which may enable him to understand his own value—that will generate self-respect, independence, industry, love of truth, hatred of deceit and falsehood, habits of cleanliness, order, and punctuality—together with all those lesser virtues which help to create a proper sense of personal and domestic comfort—to assist in working out these healthful purposes is the Author's anxious wish—a task in which any man may feel proud to engage.
Self-reliance, manly confidence in the effect of their own virtues, respect for the virtues that ought to adorn rank, rather than for rank itself, and a spurning of that vile servility which is only the hereditary remnant of bygone oppression, will be taught the people in such a way as to make them feel how far up in society a high moral condition can and ought to place them. Nor is this all;—the darker page of Irish life shall be laid open before them—in which they will be taught, by examples that they can easily understand, the fearful details of misery, destitution, banishment, and death, which the commission of a single crime may draw down, not only upon the criminal himself, but upon those innocent and beloved connections whom he actually punishes by his guilt.
It is, indeed, with fear and trembling that the Author undertakes such a great and important task as this. If he fail, however, he may well say—
"Quem si non tenuifc, tamon magnis excidit ausis."
Still he is willing to hope that, through the aid of truthful fiction, operating upon the feelings of his countrymen, and on their knowledge of peasant life, he may furnish them with such a pleasing Encyclopedia of social duty—now lit up with their mirth, and again made tender with their sorrow—as will force them to look upon him as a benefactor—to forget his former errors—and to cherish his name with affection, when he himself shall be freed forever from those cares and trials of life which have hitherto been his portion.
In the following simple narrative of "The Broken Pledge," it was his aim, without leading his readers out of the plain paths of every-day life or into the improbable creations of Romance, to detail the character of such an individual as almost every man must have often seen and noticed within the society by which he is surrounded. He trusts that the moral, as regards both husband and wife, is wholesome and good, and calculated to warn those who would follow in the footsteps of "Art Maguire."
Dubin, July 4, 1845.
It has been often observed, and as frequently inculcated, through the medium of both press and pulpit, that there is scarcely any human being who, how striking soever his virtues, or how numerous his good qualities may be, does not carry in his moral constitution some particular weakness or failing, or perhaps vice, to which he is especially subject, and which may, if not properly watched and restrained, exercise an injurious and evil influence over his whole life. Neither have the admonitions of press or pulpit ended in merely laying down this obvious and undeniable truth, but, on the contrary, very properly proceeded to add, that one of the most pressing duties of man is to examine his own heart, in order to ascertain what this particular vice or failing in his case may be, in order that, when discovered, suitable means be taken to remove or overcome it.
The man whose history we are about to detail for the reader's instruction, was, especially during the latter years of his life, a touching, but melancholy illustration of this indisputable truth; in other words, he possessed the weakness or the vice, as the reader may consider it, and found, when too late, that a yielding resolution, or, to use a phrase perhaps better understood, a good intention, was but a feeble and inefficient instrument with which to attempt its subjection. Having made these few preliminary observations, as being suitable, in our opinion, to the character of the incidents which follow, we proceed at once to commence our narrative.
Arthur, or, as he was more familiarly called by the people, Art Maguire, was the son of parents who felt and knew that they were descended from higher and purer blood than could be boasted of by many of the families in their neighborhood. Art's father was a small farmer, who held about ten acres of land, and having a family of six children—three sons, and as many daughters—he determined upon putting one or two of the former to a trade, so soon as they should be sufficiently grown up for that purpose. This, under his circumstances was a proper and provident resolution to make. His farm was too small to be parceled out, as is too frequently the case, into small miserable patches, upon each of which a young and inconsiderate couple are contented to sit down, with the prospect of rearing up and supporting a numerous family with wofully inadequate means; for although it is generally a matter of certainty that the families of these young persons will increase, yet it is a perfectly well-known fact that the little holding will not, and the consequence is, that families keep subdividing on the one hand, and increasing on the other, until there is no more room left for them. Poverty then ensues, and as poverty in such cases begets competition, and competition crime, so we repeat that Condy Maguire's intention, as being one calculated to avoid such a painful state of things, was a proof of his own good sense and forethought.
Arthur's brother, Frank, was a boy not particularly remarkable for any peculiar brilliancy of intellect, or any great vivacity of disposition. When at school he was never in a quarrel, nor engaged in any of those wild freaks which are sore annoyances to a village schoolmaster, and daring outrages against his authority. He was consequently a favorite not only with the master, but with all the sober, well-behaved boys of the school, and many a time has Teague Rooney, with whom he was educated, exclaimed, as he addressed him:
"Go to your sate, Frank abouchal; faith, although there are boys endowed wid more brilliancy of intellect than has fallen to your lot, yet you are the very youth who understands what is due to legitimate authority, at any rate, an' that's no small gift in itself; go to your sate, sorrow taw will go to your substratum this bout, for not having your lesson; for well I know it wasn't idleness that prevented you, but the natural sobriety and slowness of intellect you are gifted wid. If you are slow, however, you are sure, and I'll pledge my reputaytion aginst that of the great O'Flaherty himself, that you and your brinoge of a brother will both live to give a beautiful illustration of the celebrated race between the hare and the tortoise yet. Go to your sate wid impunity, and tell your dacent mother I was inquiring for her."
Such, indeed, was a tolerably correct view of Frank's character. He was quiet, inoffensive, laborious, and punctual; though not very social or communicative, yet he was both well-tempered and warm-hearted, points which could not, without considerable opportunities of knowing him, be readily perceived. Having undertaken the accomplishment of an object, he permitted no circumstance to dishearten or deter him in working out his purpose; if he said it, he did it; for his word was a sufficient guarantee that he would; his integrity was consequently respected, and his resolution, when he expressed it, was seldom disputed by his companions, who knew that in general it was inflexible. After what we have said, it is scarcely necessary to add that he was both courageous and humane.
These combinations of character frequently occur. Many a man not remarkable for those qualities of the head that impress themselves most strikingly upon the world, is nevertheless gifted with those excellent principles of the heart which, although without much show, and scarcely any noise, go to work out the most useful purposes of life. Arthur, on the contrary, was a contrast to his brother, and a strong one, too, on many points; his intellect was far superior to that of Frank's, but, on the other hand, he by no means possessed his brother's steadiness or resolution. We do not say, however, that he was remarkable for the want of either, far from it; he could form a resolution, and work it out as well as his brother, provided his course was left unobstructed: nay, more, he could overcome difficulties many and varied, provided only that he was left unassailed by, one solitary temptation—that of an easy and good-humored vanity. He was conscious of his talents, and of his excellent qualities, and being exceedingly vain, nothing gave him greater gratification than to hear himself praised for possessing them—for it is a fact, that every man who is vain of any particular gift, forgets that he did not bestow that gift upon himself, and that instead of priding himself upon the possession of it, he should only be humbly thankful to the Being who endowed him with it.
Art was social, communicative, and, although possessing what might be considered internal resources more numerous, and of a far higher order than did his brother, yet, somehow, it was clear that he had not the same self-dependence that marked the other. He always wanted, as it. were, something to lean upon, although in truth he did not at all require it, had he properly understood himself. The truth is, like thousands, he did not begin to perceive, or check in time, those early tendencies that lead a heart naturally indolent, but warm and generous, to the habit of relying first, in small things, upon external sources and objects, instead of seeking and finding within itself those materials for manly independence, with which every heart is supplied, were its possessor only aware of the fact, and properly instructed how to use them.
Art's enjoyments, for instance, were always of a social nature, and never either solitary or useful in their tendencies; of this character was every thing he engaged in. He would not make a ship of water flaggons by himself, nor sail it by himself—he would not spin a top, nor trundle a hoop without a companion—if sent upon a message, or to dig a basket of potatoes in the field, he would rather purchase the society of a companion with all the toys or playthings he possessed than do either alone. His very lessons he would not get unless his brother Frank got his along with him. The reader may thus perceive that he acquired no early habit of self-restraint, no principle of either labor or enjoyment within, himself, and of course could acquire none at all of self-reliance. A social disposition in our amusements is not only proper, but natural, for we believe it is pretty generally known, that he who altogether prefers such amusements is found to be deficient in the best and most generous principles of our nature. Every thing, however, has its limits and its exceptions. Art, if sent to do a day's work alone, would either abandon it entirely, and bear the brunt of his father's anger, or he would, as we have said, purchase the companionship of some neighbor's son or child, for, provided he had any one to whom he could talk, he cared not, and having thus succeeded, he would finish it triumphantly.
In due time, however, his great prevailing weakness, vanity, became well known to his family, who, already aware of his peculiar aversion to any kind of employment that was not social, immediately seized upon it, and instead of taking rational steps to remove it, they nursed it into stronger life by pandering to it as a convenient means of regulating, checking, or stimulating the whole habits of his life. His family were not aware of the moral consequences which they were likely to produce by conduct such as this, nor of the pains they were ignorantly taking to lay the foundation of his future misfortune and misery.
"Art, my good boy, will you take your spade and clane out the remaindher o' that drain, between the Hannigans and us," said his father.
"Well, will Frank come?"
"Sure you know he can't; isn't he weedin' that bit of blanther in Crackton's park, an' afther that sure he has to cut scraws on the Pirl-hill for the new barn."
"Well, I'll help him if he helps me; isn't that fair? Let us join."
"Hut, get out o' that, avourneen; go yourself; do what you're bid, Art."
"Is it by myself? murdher alive, father, don't ax me; I'll give him my new Cammon if he comes."
"Throth you won't; the sorra hand I'd ever wish to see the same Cammon in but your own; faix, it's you that can handle it in style. Well now, Art, well becomes myself but I thought I could play a Cammon wid the face o' clay wanst in my time, but may I never sin if ever I could match you at it; oh, sorra taste o' your Cammon you must part wid; sure I'd rather scower the drain myself."
"Bedad I won't part wid it then."
"I'd rather, I tell you, scower it myself—an' I will, too. Sure if I renew the ould cough an me I'll thry the Casharawan, (* Dandelion) that did me so much good the last time."
"Well, that's purty! Ha, ha, ha! you to go! Oh, ay, indeed—as if I'd stand by an' let you. Not so bad as that comes to, either—no. Is the spade an' shovel in the shed?"
"To be sure they are. Throth, Art, you're worth the whole o' them—the sorra lie in it. Well, go, avillish."
This was this fine boy's weakness played upon by those who, it is true, were not at all conscious of the injury they were inflicting upon him at the time. He was certainly the pride of the family, and even while they humored and increased this his predominant and most dangerous foible, we are bound to say that they gratified their own affection as much as they did his vanity.
His father's family consisted, as we have said, of three sons and three daughters. The latter were the elder, and in point of age Art, as we have said, was the youngest of them all. The education that he and his brothers received was such as the time and the neglected state of the country afforded them. They could all read and write tolerably well, and knew something of arithmetic. This was a proof that their education had not been neglected. And why should it? Were they not the descendants of the great Maguires of Fermanagh? Why, the very consciousness of their blood was felt as a proud and unanswerable argument against ignorance. The best education, therefore, that could be procured by persons in their humble sphere of life, they received. The eldest brother, whose name was Brian, did not, as is too frequently the case with the eldest sons of small farmers, receive so liberal a portion of instruction as Frank or Art. This resulted from the condition and necessities of his father, who could not spare him from his farm—and, indeed, it cost the worthy man many a sore heart. At all events, time advanced, and the two younger brothers were taken from school with a view of being apprenticed to some useful trade. The character of each was pretty well in accordance with their respective dispositions. Frank had no enemies, yet was he by no means so popular as Art, who had many. The one possessed nothing to excite envy, and never gave offence; the other, by the very superiority of his natural powers, exultingly paraded, as they were, at the expense of dulness or unsuccessful rivalry, created many vindictive maligners, who let no opportunity pass of giving him behind his back the harsh word which they durst not give him to his face. In spite of all this, his acknowledged superiority, his generosity, his candor, and utter ignorance or hatred of the low chicaneries of youthful cunning, joined to his open, intrepid, and manly character, conspired to render him popular in an extraordinary degree. Nay, his very failings added to this, and when the battle of his character was fought, all the traditionary errors of moral life were quoted in his favor.
"Ay, ay, the boy has his faults, and who has not; I'd be glad to know? If he's lively, it's betther to be that, than a mosey, any day. His brother Frank is a good boy, but sure divil a squig of spunk or spirits is in him, an', my dear, you know the ould proverb, that a standin' pool always stinks, while the runnin' strame is sweet and clear to the bottom. If he's proud, he has a right to be proud, and why shouldn't he, seein' that it's well known he could take up more larnin' than half the school."
"Well, but poor Frank's a harmless boy, and never gave offence to mortual, which, by the same token, is more than can be said of Art the lad."
"Very well, we know all that; and maybe it 'ud be betther for himself if he had a sharper spice of the dioual in him—but sure the poor boy hasn't the brain for it. Offence! oh, the dickens may seize the offence poor Frank will give to man or woman, barrin' he mends his manners, and gats a little life into him—sure he was a year and a day in the Five Common Rules, an' three blessed weeks gettin' the Multiplication Table."
Such, in general, was the estimate formed of their respective characters, by those who, of course, had an opportunity of knowing them best. Whether the latter were right or wrong will appear in the sequel, but in the meantime we must protest, even in this early stage of our narrative, against those popular exhibitions of mistaken sympathy, which in early life—the most dangerous period too—are felt and expressed for those who, in association with weak points of character, give strong indications of talent. This mistaken generosity is pernicious to the individual, inasmuch as it confirms him in the very errors which he should correct, and in the process of youthful reasoning, which is most selfish, induces him not only to doubt the whisperings of his own conscience, but to substitute in their stead the promptings of the silliest vanity.
Having thus given a rapid sketch of these two brothers in their schoolboy life, we now come to that period at which their father thought proper to apprentice them. The choice of the trade he left to their own natural judgment, and as Frank was the eldest, he was allowed to choose first. He immediately selected that of a carpenter, as being clean, respectable, and within-doors; and, as he added—
"Where the wages is good—and then I'm tould that one can work afther hours, if they wish."
"Very well," said the father, "now let us hear, Art; come, alanna, what are you on for?"
"I'll not take any trade," replied Art.
"Not take any trade, Art! why, my goodness, sure you knew all along that you war for a trade. Don't you know when you and Frank grow up, and, of course, must take the world on your heads, that it isn't this strip of a farm that you can depend on."
"That's what I think of," said Frank; "one's not to begin the world wid empty pockets, or, any way, widout some ground to put one's foot on."
"The world!" rejoined Art; "why, what the sorra puts thoughts o' the world into your head, Frank? Isn't it time enough for you or me to think o' the world these ten years to come?"
"Ay," replied Frank, "but when we come to join it isn't the time to begin to think of it; don't you know what the ould saying says—ha nha la na guiha la na scuillaba—it isn't on the windy day that you are to look for your scollops."*
* The proverb inculcates forethought and provision. Scollop is an osier sharpened at both ends, by which the thatch of a house is fastened down to the roof. Of a windy day the thatch alone would be utterly useless, if there were no scollops to keep it firm.
"An' what 'ud prevent you, Art, from goin' to larn a trade?" asked his father.
"I'd rather stay with you," replied the affectionate boy; "I don't like to leave you nor the family, to be goin' among strangers."
The unexpected and touching nature of his motive, so different from what was expected, went immediately to his father's heart. He looked at his fine boy, and was silent for a minute, after which he wiped the moisture from his eyes. Art, on seeing his father affected, became so himself, and added—
"That's my only raison, father, for not goin'; I wouldn't like to lave you an' them, if I could help it."
"Well, acushla," replied the father, while his eyes beamed on him with tenderness and affection, "sure we wouldn't ax you to go, if we could any way avoid it—it's for your own good we do it. Don't refuse to go, Art; sure for my sake you won't?"
"I will go, then," he replied; "I'll go for your sake, but I'll miss you all."
"An' we'll miss you, ahagur. God bless you, Art dear, it's jist like you. Ay, will we in throth miss you; but, then, think what a brave fine thing it'll be for you to have a grip of a dacent independent trade, that'll keep your feet out o' the dirt while you live."
"I will go," repeated Art, "but as for the trade, I'll have none but Frank's. I'll be a carpenter, for then he and I can be together."
In addition to the affectionate motive which Art had mentioned to his father—and which was a true one—as occasioning his reluctance to learn a trade, there was another, equally strong and equally tender. In the immediate neighborhood there lived a family named Murray, between whom and the Maguires there subsisted a very kindly intimacy. Jemmy Murray was in fact one of the wealthiest men in that part of the parish, as wealth then was considered—that is to say, he farmed about forty acres, which he held at a moderate rent, and as he was both industrious and frugal, it was only a matter of consequence that he and his were well to do in the world. It is not likely, however, that even a passing acquaintance would ever have taken place between them, were it not for the consideration of the blood which was known to flow in the veins of the Fermanagh Maguires. Murray was a good deal touched with purse-pride—the most offensive and contemptible description of pride in the world—and would never have suffered an intimacy, were it not for the reason I have alleged. It is true he was not a man of such stainless integrity as Condy Maguire, because it was pretty well known that in the course of his life, while accumulating money, he was said to have stooped to practices that were, to say the least of them, highly discreditable. For instance, he always held over his meal, until there came what is unfortunately both too well known and too well felt in Ireland,—a dear year—a year of hunger, starvation, and famine. For the same reason he held over his hay, and indeed on passing his haggard you were certain to perceive three or four immense stacks, bleached by the sun and rain of two or three seasons into a tawny yellow. Go into his large kitchen or storehouse, and you saw three or four immense deal chests filled with meal, which was reserved for a season of scarcity—for, proud as Farmer Murray was, he did not disdain to fatten upon human misery. Between these two families there was, as we have said, an intimacy. It was wealth and worldly goods on the one side; integrity and old blood on the other. Be this as it may, Farmer Murray had a daughter, Margaret, the youngest of four, who was much about the age of Arthur Maguire. Margaret was a girl whom it was almost impossible to know and not to love. Though then but seventeen, her figure was full, rich, and beautifully formed. Her abundant hair was black and glossy as ebony, and her skin, which threw a lustre like ivory itself, had—not the whiteness of snow—but a whiteness a thousand times more natural—a whiteness that was fresh, radiant, and spotless. She was arch and full of spirits, but her humor—for she possessed it in abundance—was so artless, joyous, and innocent, that the heart was taken with it before one had time for reflection. Added, however, to this charming vivacity of temperament were many admirable virtues, and a fund of deep and fervent feeling, which, even at that early period of her life, had made her name beloved by every one in the parish, especially the poor and destitute. The fact is, she was her father's favorite daughter, and he could deny her nothing. The admirable girl was conscious of this, but instead of availing herself of his affection for her in a way that many—nay, we may say, most—would have done, for purposes of dress or vanity, she became an interceding angel for the poor and destitute; and closely as Murray loved money, yet it is due to him to say, that, on these occasions, she was generally successful. Indeed, he was so far from being insensible to his daughter's noble virtues, that he felt pride in reflecting that she possessed them, and gave aid ten times from that feeling for once that he did from a more exalted one. Such was Margaret Murray, and such, we are happy to say—for we know it—are thousands of the peasant girls of our country.
It was not to be wondered at, then, that in addition to the reluctance which a heart naturally affectionate, like Art's, should feel on leaving his relations for the first time, he should experience much secret sorrow at being deprived of the society of this sweet and winning girl.
Matters now, however, were soon arranged, and the time, nay, the very day for their departure was appointed. Art, though deeply smitten with the charms of Margaret Murray, had never yet ventured to breathe to her a syllable of love, being deterred naturally enough by the distance in point of wealth which existed between the families. Not that this alone, perhaps, would have prevented him from declaring his affection for her; but, young as he was, he had not been left unimpressed by his father's hereditary sense of the decent pride, strict honesty, and independent spirit, which should always mark the conduct and feelings of any one descended from the great Fermanagh Maguires. He might, therefore, probably have spoken, but that his pride dreaded a repulse, and that he could not bear to contemplate. This, joined to the natural diffidence of youth, sufficiently accounts for his silence.
There lived, at the period of which we write, which is not a thousand years ago, at a place called "the Corner House," a celebrated carpenter named Jack M'Carroll. He was unquestionably a first-rate mechanic, kept a large establishment, and had ample and extensive business. To him had Art and Frank been apprenticed, and, indeed, a better selection could not have been made, for Jack was not only a good workman himself, but an excellent employer, and an honest man. An arrangement had been entered into with a neighboring farmer regarding their board and lodging, so that every thing was settled very much to the satisfaction of all parties.
When the day of their departure had at length arrived, Art felt his affections strongly divided, but without being diminished, between Margaret Murray and his family; while Frank, who was calm and thoughtful, addressed himself to the task of getting ready such luggage as they had been provided with.
"Frank," said Art, "don't you think we ought to go and bid farewell to a few of our nearest neighbors before we lave home?"
"Where's the use of that?" asked Frank; "not a bit, Art; the best plan is jist to bid our own people farewell, and slip away without noise or nonsense."
"You may act as you plaise, Frank," replied the other; "as for me, I'll call on Jemmy Hanlon and Tom Connolly, at all events; but hould," said he, abruptly, "ought I to do that? Isn't it their business to come to us?"
"It is," replied Frank, "and so they would too, but that they think we won't start till Thursday; for you know we didn't intend to go till then."
"Well," said Art, "that's a horse of another color: I will call on them. Wouldn't they think it heartless of us to go off widout seein' them? An' besides, Frank, why should we steal away like thieves that had the hue and cry at their heels? No, faith, as sure as we go at all, we'll go openly, an' like men that have nothing to be afraid of."
"Very well," replied his brother, "have it your own way, so far as you're consarned, as for me, I look upon it all as mere nonsense."
It is seldom that honest and manly affection fails to meet its reward, be the period soon or late. Had Art been guided by Frank's apparent indifference—who, however, acted in this matter solely for the sake of sparing his brother's feelings—he would have missed the opportunity of being a party to an incident which influenced his future life in all he ever afterwards enjoyed and suffered. He had gone, as he said, to bid farewell to his neighbors, and was on his return home in order to take his departure, when whom should he meet on her way to her father's house, after having called at his father's "to see the girls," as she said, with a slight emphasis upon the word girls, but Margaret Murray.
As was natural, and as they had often done before under similar circumstances, each paused on meeting, but somehow on this occasion there was visible on both sides more restraint than either had ever yet shown. At length, the preliminary chat having ceased, a silence ensued, which, after a little time, was broken by Margaret, who, Art could perceive, blushed deeply as she spoke.
"So, Art, you and Frank are goin' to lave us."
"It's not with my own consint I'm goin', Margaret," he replied. As he uttered the words he looked at her; their eyes met, but neither could stand the glance of the other; they were instantly withdrawn.
"I'll not forget my friends, at all events," said Art; "at least, there's some o' them I won't, nor wouldn't either, if I was to get a million o' money for doin' so."
Margaret's face and neck, on hearing this, were in one glow of crimson, and she kept her eyes still on the ground, but made no reply. At length she raised them, and their glances met again; in that glance the consciousness of his meaning was read by both, the secret was disclosed, and their love told.
The place where they stood was in one of those exquisitely wild but beautiful green country lanes that are mostly enclosed on each side by thorn hedges, and have their sides bespangled with a profusion of delicate and fragrant wild flowers, while the pathway, from the unfrequency of feet, is generally covered with short daisy-gemmed grass, with the exception of a trodden line in the middle that is made solely by foot-passengers. Such was the sweet spot in which they stood at the moment the last glance took place between them.
At length Margaret spoke, but why was it that her voice was such music to him now? Musical and sweet it always was, and he had heard it a thousand times before, but why, we ask, was it now so delicious to his ear, so ecstatic to his heart? Ah, it was that sweet, entrancing little charm which trembled up from her young and beating heart, through its softest intonations; this low tremor it was that confirmed the tale which the divine glance of that dark, but soft and mellow eye, had just told him. But to proceed, at length she spoke—
"Arthur," said the innocent girl, unconscious that she was about to do an act for which many will condemn her, "before you go, and I know I will not have an opportunity of seein' you again, will you accept of a keepsake from me?"
"Will I? oh, Margaret, Margaret!"—he gazed at her, but could not proceed, his heart was too full.
"Take this," said she, "and keep it for my sake."
Ho took it out of her hand, he seized the hand itself, another glance, and they sank into each other's arms, each trembling with an excess of happiness. Margaret wept. This gush of rapture relieved and lightened their young and innocent hearts, and Margaret having withdrawn herself from his arms, they could now speak more freely. It is not our intention, however, to detail their conversation, which may easily be conjectured by our readers. On looking at the keepsake, Art found that it was a tress of her rich and raven hair, which, we may add here, he tied about his heart that day, and on that heart, or rather the dust of that heart, it lies on this.
It was fortunate for Art that he followed! his brother's judgment in selecting the same trade. Frank, we have said, notwithstanding his coldness of manner, was by no means deficient in feeling or affection; he possessed, however, the power of suppressing their external manifestations, a circumstance which not unfrequently occasioned it to happen that want of feeling was often imputed to him without any just cause. At all events, he was a guide, a monitor, and a friend to his brother, whom he most sincerely and affectionately loved; he kindly pointed out to him his errors, matured his judgment by sound practical advice: where it was necessary, he gave him the spur, and on other, occasions held him in. Art was extremely well-tempered, as was Frank also, so that it was impossible any two brothers could agree better, or live in more harmony than they did. In truth, he had almost succeeded in opening Art's eyes to the weak points in his character, especially to the greatest, and most dangerous of all—his vanity, or insatiable appetite for praise. They had not been long in M'Carroll's establishment when the young man's foibles were soon seen through, and of course began to be played upon; Frank, however, like a guardian angel, was always at hand to advise or defend him, as the case might be, and as both, in a physical contest, were able and willing to fight their own battles, we need not say that in a short time their fellow-workmen ceased to play off their pranks upon either of them. Everything forthwith passed very smoothly; Art's love for Margaret Murray was like an apple of gold in his heart, a secret treasure of which the world knew nothing; they saw each other at least once a month, when their vows were renewed, and, surely, we need not say, that their affection on each subsequent interview only became more tender and enduring.
The period of Frank's and Art's apprenticeship had now nearly expired, and it is not too much to say that their conduct reflected the highest credit upon themselves. Three or four times, we believe, Art had been seduced, in the absence of his brother, by the influence of bad company, to indulge in drink, even to intoxication. This, during the greater part of a whole apprenticeship, considering his temperament, and the almost daily temptations by which he was beset, must be admitted on the whole to be a very moderate amount of error in that respect. On the morning after his last transgression, however, apprehending very naturally a strong remonstrance from his brother, he addressed him as follows, in anticipation of what he supposed Frank was about to say:—
"Now, Frank, I know you're goin' to scould me, and what is more, I know I disarve all you could say to me; but there's one thing you don't know, an' that is what I suffer for lettin' myself be made a fool of last night. Afther the advices you have so often given me, and afther what my father so often tould us to think of ourselves, and afther the solemn promises I made to you—and that I broke, I feel as if I was nothin' more or less than a disgrace to the name."
"Art," said the other, "I'm glad to hear you speak as you do; for it's a proof that repentance is in your heart. I suppose I needn't say that it's your intention not to be caught be these fellows again."
"By the sacred—"
"Whisht," said Frank, clapping his hand upon his mouth; "there's no use at all in rash oaths, Art. If your mind is made up honestly and firmly in the sight of God—and dependin' upon his assistance, that is enough —and a great deal betther, too, than a rash oath made in a sudden fit of repentance—ay, before you're properly recovered from your liquor. Now say no more, only promise me you won't do the like, again."
"Frank, listen to me—by all the—"
"Hould, Art," replied Frank, stopping him again; "I tell you once more, this rash swearin' is a bad sign—I'll hear no rash oaths; but listen you to me; if your mind is made up against drinkin' this way again, jist look me calmly and steadily in the face, and answer me simply by yes or no. Now take your time, an' don't be in a hurry—be cool—be calm—reflect upon what you're about to say; and whether it's your solemn and serious intention to abide by it. My question 'll be very short and very simple; your answer, as I said, will be merely yes or no. Will you ever allow these fellows to make you drunk again? Yes or no, an' not another word."
"That will do," said Frank; "now give me your hand, and a single word upon what has passed you will never hear from me."
In large manufactories, and in workshops similar to that in which the two brothers were now serving their apprenticeship, almost every one knows that the drunken and profligate entertain an unaccountable antipathy against the moral and the sober. Art's last fit of intoxication was not only a triumph over himself, but, what was still more, a triumph over his brother, who had so often prevented him from falling into their snares and joining in their brutal excesses. It so happened, however, that about this precise period, Art had, unfortunately, contracted an intimacy with one of the class I speak of, an adroit fellow with an oily tongue, vast powers of flattery, and still greater powers of bearing liquor—for Frank could observe, that notwithstanding all their potations, he never on any occasion observed him affected by drink, a circumstance which raised him in his estimation, because he considered that he was rather an obliging, civil young fellow, who complied so far as to give these men his society, but yet had sufficient firmness to resist the temptations to drink beyond the bounds of moderation. The upshot of all this was, that Frank, not entertaining any suspicion particularly injurious to Harte, for such was his name, permitted his brother to associate with him much more frequently than he would have done, had he even guessed at his real character.
One day, about a month after the conversation which we have just detailed between the two brothers, the following conversation took place among that class of the mechanics whom we shall term the profligates:—
"So he made a solemn promise, Harte, to Drywig"—this was a nickname they had for Frank—"that he'd never smell liquor again."
"A most solemnious promise," said Harte ironically; "a most solemn and solemnious promise; an' only that I know he's not a Methodist, I could a'most mistake him for Paddy M'Mahon, the locality preacher, when he tould me—"
"Paddy M'Mahon!" exclaimed Skinadre, the first speaker, a little thin fellow, with white hair and red ferret eyes; "why, who the divil ever heard of a Methodist Praicher of the name of Paddy M'Mahon?"
"It's aisy known," observed a fellow named, or rather nicknamed, Jack Slanty, in consequence of a deformity in his leg, that gave him the appearance of leaning or slanting to the one side; "it's aisy known, Skinadre, that you're not long in this part of the country, or you'd not ax who Paddy M'Mahon is."
"Come, Slanty, never mind Paddy M'Mahon," said another of them; "he received the gift of grace in the shape of a purty Methodist wife and a good fortune; ay, an' a sweet love-faist he had of it; he dropped the Padereens over Solomon's Bridge, and tuck to the evenin' meetins—that's enough for you to know; and now, Harte, about Maguire?"
"Why," said Harte, "if I'm not allowed to edge in a word, I had betther cut."
"A most solemn promise, you say?"
"A most solemn and solemnious promise, that was what I said; never again by night or day, wet or dry, high or low, in or out, up or down, here or there, to—to—get himself snimicated wid any liquorary fluid whatsomever, be the same more or less, good, bad, or indifferent, hot or could, thick or thin, black or white—"
"Have done, Harte; quit your cursed sniftherin', an' spake like a Christian; do you think you can manage to circumsniffle him agin?"
"Ay," said Harte, "or any man that ever trod on neat's leather—barrin' one."
"And who is that one?"
"That one, sir—that one—do you ax me who that one is?"
"Have you no ears? To be sure I do."
"Then, Skinadre, I'll tell you—I'll tell you, sarra,"—we ought to add here, that Harte was a first-rate mimic, and was now doing a drunken man,—"I'll tell you, sarra—that person was Nelson on the top of the monument in Sackville street—no—no—I'm wrong; I could make poor ould Horace drunk any time, an' often did—an' many a turn-tumble he got off the monument at night, and the divil's own throuble I had in gettin' him up on it before mornin', bekaise you all know he'd be cashiered, or, any way, brought to coort martial for leavin' his po-po-post."
"Well, if Nelson's not the man, who is?"
"Drywig's his name," replied Harte; "you all know one Drywig, don't you?"
"Quit your cursed stuff, Harte," said a new speaker, named Garvey; "if you think you can dose him, say so, and if not, let us have no more talk about it."
"Faith, an' it'll be a nice card to play," replied Harte, resuming his natural voice; "but at all events, if you will all drop into Garvey's lodgins and mine, to-morrow evenin', you may find him there; but don't blame me if I fail."
"No one's goin' to blame you," said Slanty, "an' the devil's own pity it is that that blasted Drywig of a brother of his keeps him in leadin' strings the way he does."
"The way I'll do is this: I'll ask him up to look at the pattern of my new waistcoat, an' wanst I get him in, all I have to do is to lay it on thick."
"I doubt that," said another, who had joined them; "when he came here first, and for a long time afther, soapin' him might do; but I tell you his eye's open—it's no go—he's wide awake now."
"Shut your orifice," said Harte; "lave the thing to me; 'twas I did it before, although he doesn't think so, an' it's I that will do it again, although he doesn't think so. Haven't I been for the last mortal month guardin' him aginst yez, you villains?"
"Ay, to-morrow evenin'; an' if we don't give him a gauliogue that'll make him dance the circumbendibus widout music—never believe that my name's any thing else than Tom Thin, that got thick upon spring wather. Hello! there's the bell, boys, so mind what I tould yez; we'll give him a farewell benefit, if it was only for the sake of poor Drywig. Ah, poor Drywig! how will he live widout him? Ochone, ochone! ha, ha, ha!"
Without at all suspecting the trap that had been set for him, Art attended his business as usual, till towards evening, when Harte took an opportunity, when he got him for a few minutes by himself, of speaking to him apparently in a careless and indifferent way.
"Art, that's a nate patthern in your waistcoat; but any how, I dunna how it is that you contrive to have every thing about you dacenter an' jinteeler than another." This, by the way, was true, both of him and his brother.
"Tut, it's but middlin'," said Art; "it's now but a has-been:—when it was at itself it wasn't so bad."
"Begad, it was lovely wanst; now; how do you account, Art, for bein' supairior to us in all in—in every thing, I may say; ay, begad, in every thing, and in all things, for that's a point every one allows."
"Nonsense, Syl" (his name was Sylvester), "don't be comin' it soft over me; how am I betther than any other?"
"Why, you're betther made, in the first place, than e'er a man among us; in the next place, you're a betther workman;"—both these were true—"an', in the third place, you're the best lookin' of the whole pack; an' now deny these if you can:—eh, ha, ha, ha—my lad, I have you!"
An involuntary smile might be observed on Art's face at the last observation, which also was true.
"Syl," he replied, "behave yourself; what are you at now? I know you."
"Know me!" exclaimed Syl; "why what do you know of me? Nothing that's bad I hope, any way."
"None of your palaver, at all events," replied Art; "have you got any tobaccy about you?"
"Sorra taste," replied Harte, "nor had since mornin'."
"Well, I have then," said Art, pulling out a piece, and throwing it to him with the air of a superior; "warm your gums wid that, for altho' I seldom take a blast myself, I don't forget them that do."
"Ah, begorra," said Harte, in an undertone that was designed to be heard, "there's something in the ould blood still; thank you, Art, faix it's yourself that hasn't your heart in a trifle, nor ever had. I bought a waistcoat on Saturday last from Paddy M'Gartland, but I only tuck it on the condition of your likin' it."
"Me! ha, ha, ha, well, sure enough, Syl, you're the quarest fellow alive; why, man, isn't it yourself you have to plaise, not me."
"No matther for that, I'm not goin' to put my judgment in comparishment wid yours, at any rate; an' Paddy M'Gartland himself said, 'Syl, my boy, you know what you're about; if this patthern plaises Art Maguire, it'll plaise anybody; see what it is,' says he, 'to have the fine high ould blood in one's veins.' Begad he did; will you come up this evenin' about seven o'clock, now, like a good fellow, an' pass your opinion for me? Divil a dacent stitch I have, an' I want either it, or another, made up before the ball night."*
* Country dances, or balls, in which the young men pay from ten to fifteen pence for whiskey "to trate the ladies." We hope they will be abolished.
"Well, upon my soundhers, Syl, I did not think you were such a fool; of coorse I'll pass my opinion on it—about seven o'clock, you say."
"About seven—thank you, Art; an' now listen;—sure the boys intind to play off some prank upon you afore you lave us."
"On me," replied the other, reddening; "very well, Syl, let them do so; I can bear a joke, or give a blow, as well as another; so divil may care, such as they give, such as they'll get—only this, let there be no attempt to make me drink whiskey, or else there may be harder hittin' than some o' them 'ud like, an' I think they ought to know that by this time."
"By jing, they surely ought; well, but can you spell mum?"
"Ha, ha, ha, take care of yourself, an' don't forget seven."
"Frank," said Art, "I'm goin' up to Syl Harte's lodgin's to pass my opinion on the patthern of a waistcoat for him."
"Very well," said Frank, "of coorse."
"I'll not stop long."
"As long or short as you like, Art, my boy."
"I hope, Frank, you don't imagine that there's any danger of drink?"
"Who, me—why should I, afther what passed? Didn't you give me your word, and isn't your name Maguire? Not I."
Art had seen, and approved of the pattern, and was chatting with Syl, when a knock came to the room door in which they sat; Syl rose, and opening the door, immediately closed it after him, and began in a low voice to remonstrate with some persons outside. At length Art could hear the subject of debate pretty well—
"Sorra foot yez will put inside the room this evenin', above all evenin's in the year."
"Why, sure we know he won't drink. I wish to goodness we knew he had been here; we wouldn't ax him to drink, bekase we know he wouldn't.
"No matther for that, sorrow foot yez'll put acrass the thrashel this evenin'; now, I'll toll you what, Skinadre, I wouldn't this blessed minute, for all I've earned these six months, that ye came this evenin';—I have my raisons for it; Art Maguire is a boy that we have no right to compare ourselves wid—you all know that."
"We all know it, and there's nobody denyin' it; we haven't the blood in our veins that he has, an' blood will show itself anywhere."
"Well then, boys, for his sake—an' I know you'd do any day for his sake what you wouldn't, nor what you oughtn't, for mine—for his sake, I say, go off wid yez, and bring your liquor somewhere else, or sure wait till to-morrow evenin'."
"Out of respect for Art Maguire we'll go; an' divil another boy in the province we'd pay that respect to; good-evenin', Syl!"
"Aisy, boys," said Art, coming to the door, "don't let me frighten you—come in—I'd be very sorry to be the means of spoilin' sport, although I can't drink myself; that wouldn't be generous—come in."
"Augh," said Skinadre, "by the livin' it's in him, an' I always knew it was—the rale drop."
"Boys," said Harte, "go off wid yez out o' this, I say; divil a foot you'll come in."
"Arra go to—Jimmaiky; who cares about you, Syl, when we have Art's liberty? Sure we didn't know the thing ourselves half an hour ago."
"Come, Syl, man alive," said Art, "let the poor fellows enjoy their liquor, an', as I can't join yez, I'll take my hat an' be off."
"I knew it, an' bad luck to yez, how yez 'ud drive him away," said Syl, quite angry.
"Faix, if we disturb you, Art, we're off—that 'ud be too bad; yes, Syl, you were right, it was very thoughtless of us: Art, we ax your pardon, sorra one of us meant you any offence in life—come, boys."
Art's generosity was thus fairly challenged, and he was not to be outdone—
"Aisy, boys," said he; "sit down; I'll not go, if that'll plaise yez; sure you'll neither eat me nor dhrink me."
"Well, there's jist one word you said, Slanty, that makes me submit to it," observed Harte, "an' that is, that it was accident your comin' at all;" he here looked significantly at Art, as if to remind him of their previous conversation on that day, and as he did it, his face gradually assumed a complacent expression, as much as to say, it's now clear that this cannot be the trap they designed for you, otherwise it wouldn't be accidental. Art understood him, and returned a look which satisfied the other that he did so.
As they warmed in their liquor, or pretended to get warm, many sly attempts to entrap him were made, every one of which was openly and indignantly opposed by Harte, who would not suffer them to offer him a drop.
It is not our intention to dwell upon these matters: at present it is sufficient to say, that after a considerable part of the evening had been spent, Harte rose up, and called upon them all to fill their glasses—
"And," he added, "as this is a toast that ought always to bring a full glass to the mouth, and an empty one from it, I must take the liberty of axin Art himself to fill a bumper."
The latter looked at him with a good deal of real surprise, as the others did with that which was of a very different description.
"Skinadre," proceeded Harte, "will you hand over the cowld wather, for a bumper it must be, if it was vitriol." He then filled Art's glass with water, and proceeded—"Stand up, boys, and be proud, as you have a right to be; here's the health of Frank Maguire, and the ould blood of Ireland!—hip, hip, hurra!"
"Aisy, boys," said Art, whose heart was fired by this unexpected compliment, paid to a brother whom he loved so well, and who, indeed, so well, deserved his love; "aisy, boys," he proceeded, "hand me the whiskey; if it was to be my last, I'll never drink my brother's health in cowld wather."
"Throth an' you will this time," said Harte, "undher this roof spirits won't crass; your lips, an' you know for why."
"I know but one thing," replied Art, "that as you said yourself, if it was vitriol, I'd dhrink it for the best brother that ever lived; I only promised him that I wouldn't get dhrunk, an' sure, drinkin' a glass o' whiskey, or three either, wouldn't make me dhrunk—so hand it here."
"Well, Art," said Harte, "there's one man you can't blame for this, and that is Syl Harte."
"No, Syl, never—but now, boys, I am ready."
"Frank Maguire's health! hip, hip, hurra!"
Thus was a fine, generous-minded, and affectionate young man—who possessed all the candor and absence of suspicion which characterize truth—tempted and triumphed over, partly through the very warmth of his own affections, by a set of low, cunning profligates, who felt only anxious to drag him down from the moral superiority which they felt he possessed. That he was vain, and fond of praise, they knew, and our readers may also perceive that it was that unfortunate vanity which gave them the first advantage over him, by bringing him, through its influence, among them. Late that night he was carried home on a door, in a state of unconscious intoxication.
It is utterly beyond our power to describe the harrowing state of his sensations on awakening the next morning. Abasement, repentance, remorse, all combined as they were within him, fall far short of what he felt; he was degraded in his own eyes, deprived of self-respect, and stripped of every claim to the confidence of his brother, as he was to the well-known character for integrity which had been until then inseparable from the name. That, however, which pressed upon him with the most intense bitterness was the appalling reflection that he could no longer depend upon himself, nor put any trust in his own resolutions. Of what use was he in the world without a will of his own, and the power of abiding by its decisions? None; yet what was to be done? He could not live out of the world, and wherever he went, its temptations would beset him. Then there was his beloved Margaret Murray! was he to make her the wife of a common drunkard? or did she suspect, when she pledged herself to him, that she was giving away her heart and affections to a poor unmanly sot, who had not sense or firmness to keep himself sober? He felt in a state between distraction and despair, and putting his hands over his face, he wept bitterly. To complete the picture, his veins still throbbed with the dry fever that follows intoxication, his stomach was in a state of deadly sickness and loathing, and his head felt exactly as if it would burst or fly asunder.
Alas! had his natural character been properly understood and judiciously managed; had he been early taught to understand and to control his own obvious errors; had the necessity of self-reliance, firmness, and independence been taught him; had his principles not been enfeebled by the foolish praise of his family, nor his vanity inflated by their senseless appeals to it—it is possible, nay, almost certain, that he would, even at this stage of his life, have been completely free from the failings which are beginning even now to undermine the whole strength of his moral constitution.
Frank's interview with him on this occasion was short but significant—
"Art," said he, "you know I never was a man of many words; and I'm not goin' to turn over a new lafe now. To scould you is not my intention—nor to listen to your promises. All I have to say is, that you have broken your word, and disgraced your name. As for me, I can put neither confidence nor trust in you any longer; neither will I."
A single tear was visible on his cheek as he passed out of the room; and when he did, Art's violent sobs were quite audible. Indeed, if truth must be told, Frank's distress was nearly equal to his brother's. What, however, was to be done? He was too ill to attend his business, a circumstance which only heightened his distress; for he knew that difficult as was the task of encountering his master, and those who would only enjoy his remorse, still even that was less difficult to be borne than the scourge of his own reflections. At length a thought occurred, which appeared to give him some relief; that thought he felt was all that now remained to him, for as it was clear that he could no longer depend on himself, it was necessary that he should find something else on which to depend. He accordingly sent an intimation to his master that he wished to have a few minutes' conversation with him, if he could spare time; M'Carroll accordingly came, and found him in a state which excited the worthy man's compassion.
"Well, Art," said he, "what is it you wish to speak to me about? I hear you were drunk last night. Now I thought you had more sense than to let these fellows put you into such a pickle. I have a fine, well-conducted set of men in general; but there is among them a hardened, hackneyed crew, who, because they are good workmen, don't care a curse about either you or me, or anybody else. They're always sure of employment, if not here, at least elsewhere, or, indeed, anywhere."
"But it wasn't their fault," replied Art, "it was altogether my own; they were opposed to my drinkin' at all, especially as they knew that I promised Frank never to get drunk agin. It was when Syl Harte proposed Frank's health, that I drank the whiskey in spite o' them."
"Syl Harte," said his master with a smile, "ay, I was thinkin' so; well, no matter, Art, have strength and resolution not to do the like again."
"But that's the curse, sir," replied the young man, "I have neither the one nor the other, and it's on that account I sent for you."
"How is that, Art?"
"Why," said the other, "I am goin' to bind myself—I am goin' to swear against it, and so to make short work of it, and for fraid any one might prevent me"—he blessed himself, and proceeded—"I now, in the presence of God, swear upon this blessed manwil (* Manual) that a drop of spirituous drink, or liquor of any kind, won't cross my lips for the next seven years, barrin' it may be necessary as medicine;" he then kissed the book three times, blessed himself again, and sat down considerably relieved.
"Now," he added, "you may tell them what I've done; that's seven years' freedom, thank God; for I wouldn't be the slave of whiskey—the greatest of tyrants—for the wealth of Europe."
"No, but the worst of it is, Art," replied his m ister, who was an exceedingly shrewd man, "that whiskey makes a man his own tyrant and his own slave, both at the same time, and that's more than the greatest tyrant that ever lived did yet. As for yourself, you're not fit to work any this day, so I think you ought to take a stretch across the country, and walk off the consequence of your debauch with these fellows last night."
Art now felt confidence and relief; he had obtained the very precise aid of which he stood in need. The danger was now over, and a prop placed under his own feeble resolution, on which he could depend with safety; here there could be no tampering with temptation; the matter was clear, explicit, and decisive: so far all was right, and, as we have said, his conscience felt relieved of a weighty burden.
His brother, on hearing it from his own lips, said little, yet that little was not to discourage him; he rather approved than otherwise, but avoided expressing any very decided opinion on it, one way or the other.
"It's a pity," said he, "that want of common resolution should drive a man to take an oath; if you had tried your own strength, a little farther, Art, who knows but you might a' gained a victory without it, and that would be more creditable and manly than swearin'; still, the temptation to drink is great to some people, and this prevents all possibility of fallin' into it."
Art, who, never having dealt in any thing disingenuous himself, was slow to credit duplicity in others, did not once suspect that the profligates had played him off this trick, rather to annoy the brother than himself. It was, after all, nothing but the discreditable triumph of cunning and debased minds, over the inexperience, or vanity, if you will, of one, who, whatever his foibles might be, would himself scorn to take an ungenerous advantage of confidence reposed in him in consequence of his good opinion and friendly feeling.
The period of their apprenticeship, however, elapsed, and the day at length arrived for their departure from the Corner House. Their master, and, we may add, their friend, solicited them to stop with him still as journeymen; but, as each had a different object in view, they declined it. Art proposed to set up for himself, for it was indeed but natural that one whose affections had been now so long engaged, should wish, with as little delay as possible, to see himself possessed of a home to which he might bring his betrothed wife. Frank had not trusted to chance, or relied merely upon vague projects, like his brother; for, some time previous to the close of his apprenticeship, he had been quietly negotiating the formation of a partnership with a carpenter who wanted a steady man at the helm. The man had capital himself, and was clever enough in his way, but then he was illiterate, and utterly without method in conducting his affairs; Frank was therefore the identical description of person he stood in need of, and, as the integrity of his family was well known—that integrity which they felt so anxious to preserve without speck—there was of course little obstruction in the way of their coming to terms.
On the morning of the day on which they left his establishment, M'Carroll came into the workshop while they were about bidding farewell to their companions, with whom they had lived—abating the three or four pranks that were played off upon Art—on good and friendly terms, and seeing that they were about to take their departure, he addressed them as follows:—
"I need not say," he proceeded, "that I regret you are leaving me; which I do, for, without meaning any disrespect to those present, I am bound to acknowledge that two better workmen, or two honester young men, were never in my employment. Art, indeed is unsurpassed, considering his time, and that he is only closing his apprenticeship: 'tis true, he has had good opportunities—opportunities which, I am happy to say, he has never neglected. I am in the habit, as you both know, of addressing a few words of advice to my young men at the close of their apprenticeships, and when they are entering upon the world as you are now. I will therefore lay down a few simple rules for your guidance, and, perhaps, by following them, you will find yourselves neither the worse nor the poorer men.
"Let the first principle then of your life, both as mechanics, and men, be truth—truth in all you think, in all you say, and in all you do; if this should fail to procure you the approbation of the world, it will not fail to procure you your own, and, what is better, that of God. Let your next principle be industry—honest, fair, legitimate industry, to which you ought to annex punctuality—for industry without punctuality is but half a virtue. Let your third great principle be sobriety—strict and undeviating sobriety; a mechanic without sobriety, so far from being a benefit or an ornament to society, as he ought to be, is a curse and a disgrace to it; within the limits of sobriety all the rational enjoyments of life are comprised, and without them are to be found all those which desolate society with crime, indigence, sickness, and death. In maintaining sobriety in the world, and especially among persons of your own class, you will certainly have much to contend with; remember that firmness of character, when acting upon right feeling and good sense, will enable you to maintain and work out every virtuous and laudable purpose which you propose to effect. Do not, therefore, suffer yourselves to be shamed from sobriety, or, indeed, from any other moral duty, by the force of ridicule; neither, on the other hand, must you be seduced into it by flattery, or the transient gratification of social enjoyment. I have, in fact, little further to add; you are now about to become members of society, and to assume more distinctly the duties which it imposes on you. Discharge them all faithfully—do not break your words, but keep your promises, and respect yourselves, remember that self-respect is a very different thing from pride, or an empty overweening vanity—self-respect is, in fact, altogether incompatible with them, as they are with it; like opposite qualities, they cannot abide in the same individual. Let me impress it on you, that these are the principles by which you must honorably succeed in life, if you do succeed; while by neglecting them, you must assuredly fail. 'Tis true, knavery and dishonesty are often successful, but it is by the exercise of fraudulent practices, which I am certain you will never think of carrying into the business of life—I consequently dismiss this point altogether, as unsuitable to either of you. I have only to add, now, that I hope most sincerely you will observe the few simple truths I have laid down to you; and I trust, that ere many years pass, I may live to see you both respectable, useful, and independent members of society. Farewell, and may you be all we wish you!"
Whether this little code of useful doctrine was equally observed by both, will appear in the course of our narrative.
About a month or so before the departure of Frank and Art from the Corner House, Jemmy Murray and another man were one day in the beginning of May strolling through one of his pasture-fields. His companion was a thin, hard-visaged little fellow, with a triangular face, and dry bristly hair, very much the color of, and nearly as prickly as, a withered furze bush; both, indeed, were congenial spirits, for it is only necessary to say, that he of the furze bush was another of those charital and generous individuals whose great delight consisted, like his friend Murray, in watching the seasons, and speculating upon the failure of the crops. He had the reputation of being wealthy, and in fact was so; indeed, of the two, those who had reason to know, considered that he held the weightier purse; his name was Cooney Finigan, and the object of his visit to Murray—their conversation, however, will sufficiently develop that. Both, we should observe, appeared to be exceedingly blank and solemn; Cooney's hard face, as he cast his eye about him, would have made one imagine that he had just buried the last of his family, and Murray looked as if he had a son about to be hanged. The whole cause of this was simply that a finer season, nor one giving ampler promise of abundance, had not come within the memory of man.
"Ah!" said Murray, with a sigh, "look, Cooney, at the distressin' growth of grass that's there—a foot high if it's an inch! If God hasn't sed it, there will be the largest and heaviest crops that ever was seen in the country; heigho!"
"Well, but one can't have good luck always," replied Cooney; "only it's the wondherful forwardness of the whate that's distressin' me."
"An' do you think that I'm sufferin' nothin' on that account?" asked his companion; "only you haven't three big stacks of hay waitin' for a failure, as I have."
"That's bekase I have no meadow on my farm," replied Cooney; "otherwise I would be in the hay trade as well as yourself."
"Well, God help us, Cooney! every one has their misfortunes as well as you and I; sure enough, it's a bitther business to see how every thing's thrivin'—hay, oats, and whate! why they'll be for a song: may I never get a bad shillin', but the poor 'ill be paid for takin' them! that's the bitther pass things will come to; maurone ok! but it's a black lookout!"
"An' this rain, too," said Cooney, "so soft, and even, and small, and warm, that it's playin' the very devil. Nothin' could stand it. Why it ud make a rotten twig grow if it was put into the ground."
"Divil a one o' me would like to make the third," said Murray, "for 'fraid I might have the misfortune to succeed. Death alive! Only think of my four arks, of meal, an' my three stacks of hay, an' divil a pile to come out of them for another twelve months!"
"It's bad, too bad, I allow," said the other; "still let us not despair, man alive; who knows but the saison may change for the worse yet. Whish!" he exclaimed, slapping the side of his thigh, "hould up your head, Jemmy, I have thought of it; I have thought of it."
"You have thought of what, Cooney?"
"Why, death alive, man, sure there's plenty of time, God be praised for it, for the—murdher, why didn't we think of it before? ha, ha, ha!"
"For the what, man? don't keep us longin' for it."
"Why for the pratie crops to fail still; sure it's only the beginning o' May now, and who knows but we might have the happiness to see a right good general failure of the praties still? Eh? ha, ha, ha!"
"Upon my sounds, Cooney, you have taken a good deal of weight off of me. Faith we have the lookout of a bad potato crop yet, sure enough. How is the wind? Don't you think you feel a little dry bitin' in it, as if it came from the aist?"
"Why, then, in regard of the dead calm that's in it, I can't exactly say—but, let me see—you're right, divil a doubt of it; faith it is, sure enough; bravo, Jemmy, who knows but all may go wrong wid the crops yet."
"At all events, let us have a glass on the head of it, and we'll drink to the failure of the potato craps, and God prosper the aist wind, for it's the best for you an' me, Cooney, that's goin'. Come up to the house above, and we'll have a glass on the head of it."
The fastidious reader may doubt whether any two men, no matter how griping or rapacious, could prevail upon themselves to express to each other sentiments so openly inimical to all human sympathy. In holding this dialogue, however, the men were only thinking aloud, and giving utterance to the wishes which every inhuman knave of their kind feels. In compliance, however, with the objections which maybe brought against the probability of the above dialogue, we will now give the one which did actually occur, and then appeal to our readers whether the first is not much more in keeping with the character of the speakers—which ought always to be a writer's great object—than the second. Now, the reader already knows that each of these men had three or four large arks of meal laid past until the arrival of a failure in the crops and a season of famine, and that Murray had three large stacks of hay in the hope of a similar failure in the meadow crop.
"Good-morrow kindly, Cooney; isn't this a fine saison, the Lord be praised!"
"A glorious saison, blessed be His name! I don't think ever I remimber a finer promise of the craps."
"Throth, nor I, the meadows is a miracle to look at."
"Divil a thing else—but the white, an' oats, an' early potatoes, beat anything ever was seen."
"Throth, the poor will have them for a song, Jemmy."
"Ay, or for less, Cooney; they'll be paid for takin' them."
"It's enough to raise one's heart, Jemmy, just to think of it."
"Why then it is that, an', for the same raison, come up to the house above, and we'll have a sup on the head of it; sure, it's no harm to drink success to the craps, and may God prevent a failure, any how."
"Divil a bit."
Now, we simply ask the reader which dialogue is in the more appropriate keeping with the characters of honest, candid Jemmy and Cooney?
"And now," proceeded Cooney, "regard-in' this match between your youngest daughter Margaret, and my son Toal."
"Why, as for myself," replied Murray, "sorra much of objection I have aginst it, barrin' his figure; if he was about a foot and a half higher, and a little betther made—God pardon me, an' blessed be the maker—there would, at all events, be less difficulty in the business, especially with Peggy herself."
"But couldn't you bring her about?"
"I did my endayvors, Cooney; you may take my word I did."
"Well, an' is she not softenin' at all?"
"Upon my sounds, Cooney, I cannot say she is. If I could only get her to spake one sairious word on the subject, I might have some chance; but I cannot, Cooney; I think both you an' little Toal had betther give it up. I doubt there's no chance."
"Faith an' the more will be her loss. I tell you, Jemmy, that he'd outdo either you or me as a meal man. What more would you want?"
"He's cute enough, I know that."
"I tell you you don't know the half of it. It's the man that can make the money for her that you want."
"But aginst that, you know, it's Peggy an' not me that's to marry him. Now, you know that women often—though not always, I grant—wish to have something in the appearance of their husband that they needn't be ashamed to look at."
"That's the only objection that can bo brought against him. He's the boy can make the money; I'm a fool to him. I'll tell you what, Jemmy Murray, may I never go home, but he'd skin a flint. Did you hear anything? Now!"
Murray, who appeared to be getting somewhat tired of this topic, replied rather hastily—
"Why, Cooney Finnigan, if he could skin the devil himself and ait him afterwards, she wouldn't have him. She has refused some of the best looking young men in the parish, widout either rhyme or raison, an' I'm sure she's not goin' to take your leprechaun of a son, that you might run a five-gallon keg between his knees. Sure, bad luck to the thing his legs resemble but a pair of raipin' hooks, wid their backs outwards. Let us pass this subject, and come in till we drink a glass together."
"And so you call my son a leprechaun, and he has legs like raipin' hooks!"
"Ha, ha, ha! Come in, man alive; never mind little Toal."
"Like raipin' hooks! I'll tell you what, Jemmy, I say now in sincerity, that there is every prospect of a plentiful sayson; and that there may, I pray God this day; meadows an' all—O above all, the meadows, for I'm not in the hay business myself."
"So," said Murray, laughing, "you would cut off your nose to vex your face."
"I would any day, even if should suffer myself by it; and now good-bye, Jemmy Murray, to the dioual I pitch the whole thing! Rapin' hooks!" And as he spoke, off went the furious little extortioner, irretrievably offended.
The subject of Margaret's marriage, however, was on that precise period one on which her father and friends had felt and expressed much concern. Many proposals had been made for her hand during Art's apprenticeship; but each and all not only without success, but without either hope or encouragement. Her family were surprised and grieved at this, and the more so, because they could not divine the cause of it. Upon the subject of her attachment to Maguire, she not only preserved an inviolable silence herself, but exacted a solemn promise from her lover that he should not disclose it to any human being. Her motive, she said, for keeping their affection and engagement to each other secret, was to avoid being harassed at home by her friends and family, who, being once aware of the relation in which she stood towards Art, would naturally give her little peace. She knew very well that her relations would not consent to such a union, and, in point of mere prudence and forethought, her conduct was right, for she certainly avoided much intemperate remonstrance, as afterwards proved to be the case when she mentioned it. Her father on this occasion having amused them at home by relating the tift which had taken place between Cooney Finnigan and himself, which was received with abundant mirth by them all, especially by Margaret, seriously introduced the subject of her marriage, and of a recent proposal which had been made to her.
"You are the only unmarried girl we have left now," he said, "and surely you ought neither to be too proud nor too saucy to refuse such a match as Mark Hanratty—a young man in as thrivin' a business as there is in all Ballykeerin; hasn't he a good shop, good business, and a good back of friends in the country that will stand to him, an' only see how he has thruv these last couple o' years. What's come over you at all? or do you ever intend to marry? you have refused every one for so far widout either rhyme or raison. Why, Peggy, what father's timper could stand this work?"
"Ha, ha, ha! like raipin' hooks, father—an' so the little red rogue couldn't bear that? well, at all events, the comparison's a good one—sorra better; ha, ha, ha—reapin' hooks!"
"Is that the answer you have for me?"
"Answer!" said Margaret, feigning surprise, "what about?"
"About Mark Hanmity."
"Well, but sure if he's fond of me, hell have no objection to wait."
"Ay, but if he does wait, will you have him?"
"I didn't promise that, and, at any rate, I'd not like to be a shopkeeper's wife."
"Why, he'd be puttin' me behind the counter, and you know I'd be too handsome for that; sure, there's Thogue Nugent that got the handsome wife from Dublin, and of a fair, or market-day, for one that goes in to buy anything, there goes ten in to look at her. Throth, I think he ought to put her in the windy at once, just to save trouble, and give the people room."
"Ha, ha, ha! well, you're the dickens of a girl, sure enough; but come, avourneen, don't be makin' me laugh now, but tell me what answer I'm to give Mark."
"Tell him to go to Dublin, like Thogue; he lives in the upper part of the town, and Thogue in the lower, and then there will be a beauty in each end of it."
"Suppose I take it into my head to lose my temper, Peggy, maybe I'd make you spake then?"
"Well, will you give me a peck o' mail for widow Dolan?"
"No, divil a dust."
"Sure I'll pay you—ha, ha, ha!"
"Sure you'll pay me! mavrone, but it's often you've said that afore, and divil a cross o' Your coin ever we seen yet; faith, it's you that's heavily in my debt, when I think of all ever you promised to pay me."
"Very well, then; no meal, no answer."
"And will you give me an answer if I give you the meal?"
"Honor bright, didn't I say it."
"Go an' get it yourself then, an' see now, don't do as you always do, take double what you're allowed."
Margiret, in direct violation of this paternal injunction, did most unquestionably take near twice the stipulated quantity for the widow, and, in order that there might be no countermand on the part of her father, as sometimes happened, she sent it off with one of the servants by a back way, so that he had no opportunity of seeing how far her charity had carried her beyond the spirit and letter of her instructions.
"Well," said he, when she returned, "now for the answer; and before you give it, think of the comfort you'll have with him—how fine and nicely furnished his house is—he has carpets upon the rooms, ay, an' upon my sounds, on the very stairs itself! faix it's you that will be in state. Now, acushla, let us hear your answer."