HotFreeBooks.com
Phil Purcel, The Pig-Driver; The Geography Of An Irish Oath; The Lianhan Shee
by William Carleton
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

It may be asked, how two illiterate persons, like Peter and Ellish, could conduct business in which so much calculation was necessary, without suffering severely by their liability to make mistakes. To this we reply—first, that we should have liked to see any person attempting to pass a bad note or a light guinea upon Ellish after nine or ten years' experience; we should like to have seen a smug clerk taking his pen from behind his ear, and after making his calculation, on inquiring from Ellish if she had reckoned up the amount, compelled to ascertain the error which she pointed out to him. The most remarkable point in her whole character, was the rapid accuracy she displayed in mental calculation, and her uncommon sagacity in detecting bad money.

There is, however, a still more satisfactory explanation of this circumstance to be given. She had not neglected the education of her children. The eldest was now an intelligent boy, and a smart accountant, who, thanks to his master, had been taught to keep their books by Double Entry. The second was little inferior to him as a clerk, though as a general dealer he was far his superior. The eldest had been principally behind the counter; whilst the younger, in accompanying his mother in all her transactions and bargain-making, had in a great measure imbibed her address and tact.

It is certainly a pleasing, and, we think, an interesting thing, to contemplate the enterprise of an humble, but active, shrewd woman, enabling her to rise, step by step, from the lowest state of poverty to a small sense of independence; from this, by calling-fresh powers into action, taking wider views, and following them up by increased efforts, until her shebeen becomes a small country public-house; until her roll of tobacco, and her few pounds of soap and starch, are lost in the well-filled drawers of a grocery shop; and her gray Connemara stockings transformed by the golden wand of industry into a country cloth warehouse. To see Peter—from the time when he first harrowed part of his farm with a thorn-bush, and ploughed it by joining his horse to that of a neighbor—adding farm to farm, horse to horse, and cart to cart, until we find him a wealthy and extensive agriculturist.

The progress of Peter and Ellish was in another point of view a good study for him who wishes to look into human nature, whilst adapting itself to the circumstances through which it passes. When this couple began life, their friends and acquaintancess were as poor as themselves; as they advanced from one gradation to another, and rose up from a lower to a higher state, their former friends, who remained in their original poverty, found themselves left behind in cordiality and intimacy, as well as in circumstances; whilst the subjects of our sketch continued to make new friendships of a more respectable stamp, to fill up, as it were, the places held in their good will by their humble, but neglected, intimates. Let not our readers, however, condemn them for this.

It was the act of society, and not of Peter and Ellish. On their parts, it was involuntary; their circumstances raised them, and they were compelled, of course, to rise with their circumstances. They were passing through the journey of life, as it were, and those with whom they set out, not having been able to keep up with them, soon lost their companionship, which was given to those with whom they travelled for the time being. Society is always ready to reward the enterprising and industrious by its just honors, whether they are sought or not; it is so disposed, that every man falls or rises into his proper place in it, and that by the wisdom and harmony of its structure. The rake, who dissipates by profligacy and extravagance that which might have secured him an honorable place in life, is eventually brought to the work-house; whilst the active citizen, who realizes an honest independence, is viewed with honor and esteem.

Peter and Ellish were now people of consequence in the parish; the former had ceased to do anything more than superintend the cultivation of his farms; the latter still took an active part in her own business, or rather in the various departments of business Which she carried on. Peter might be seen the first man abroad in the morning proceeding to some of his farms mounted upon a good horse, comfortably dressed in top boots, stout corduroy breeches, buff cashmere waistcoat, and blue broad-cloth coat, to which in winter was added a strong frieze greatcoat, with a drab velvet collar, and a glazed hat. Ellish was also respectably dressed, but still considerably under her circumstances. Her mode of travelling to fairs or markets was either upon a common car, covered with a feather-bed and quilt, or behind Peter upon a pillion. This last method flattered Peter's vanity very much; no man could ride on these occasions with a statelier air. He kept himself as erect and stiff as a poker, and brandished the thong of his loaded whip with the pride of a gentleman farmer.

'Tis true, he did not always hear the sarcastic remarks which were passed upon him by those who witnessed his good-natured vanity:

"There he goes," some laboring man on the wayside would exclaim, "a purse-proud bodagh upon our hands. Why, thin, does he forget that we remimber when he kept the shebeen-house, an' sould his smuggled to-baccy in gits (* the smallest possible quantities) out of his pocket, for fraid o' the gauger! Sowl, he'd show a blue nose, any way, only for the wife—'Twas she made a man of him."

"Faith, an' I for one, won't hear Pether Connell run down," his companion would reply; "he's a good-hearted, honest man, an' obligin' enough; an' for that matter so is the wife, a hard honest woman, that made what they have, an' brought herself an' her husband from nothin' to somethin'."

"Thrue for you, Tim; in throth, they do desarve credit. Still, you see, here's you an' me, an' we've both been slavin' ourselves as much as they have, an' yet you see how we are! However, its their luck, and there's no use in begrudgin' it to them."

When their children were full-grown, the mother did not, as might have been supposed, prevent them from making a respectable appearance. With excellent judgment, she tempered their dress, circumstances, and prospects so well together, that the family presented an admirable display of economy, and a decent sense of independence. From the moment they were able to furnish solid proofs of their ability to give a comfortable dinner occasionally, the priest of the parish began to notice them; and this new intimacy, warmed by the honor conferred on one side, and by the good dinners on the other, ripened into a strong friendship. For many a long year, neither Peter nor Ellish, God forgive them, ever troubled themselves about going to their duty. They soon became, however, persons of too much importance to be damned without an effort made for their salvation. The worthy gentleman accordingly addressed them on the subject, and as the matter was one of perfect indifference to both, they had not the slightest hesitation to go to confession—in compliment to the priest. We do not blame the priest for this; God forbid that we should quarrel with a man for loving a good dinner. If we ourselves were a priest, it is very probable,—nay, from the zest with which we approach a good dinner, it is quite certain—that we would have cultivated honest Peter's acquaintance, and drawn him out to the practice of that most social of virtues—hospitality. The salvation of such a man's soul was worth looking after; and, indeed, we find a much warmer interest felt, in all churches, for those who are able to give good dinners, than for those poor miserable sinners who can scarcely get even a bad one.

But besides this, there was another reason for the Rev. Mr. Mulcahy's anxiety to cultivate a friendship with Peter and his wife—which reason consisted in a very laudable determination to bring about a match between his own niece, Miss Granua Mulcahy, and Peter's eldest son, Dan. This speculation he had not yet broached to the family, except by broken hints, and jocular allusions to the very flattering proposals that had been made by many substantial young men for Miss Granua.

In the mean time the wealth of the Connells had accumulated to thousands; their business in the linen and woollen drapery line was incredible. There was scarcely a gentleman within many miles of them, who did not find it his interest to give them his custom. In the hardware, flour, and baking concerns they were equally fortunate. The report of their wealth had gone far and near, exaggerated, however, as everything of the kind is certain to be; but still there were ample grounds for estimating it at a very high amount.

Their stores were large, and well filled with many a valuable bale; their cellars well stocked with every description of spirits; and their shop, though not large in proportion to their transactions, was well filled, neat, and tastefully fitted up. There was no show, however—no empty glare to catch the eye; on the contrary, the whole concern was marked by an air of solid, warm comfort, that was much more indicative of wealth and independence than tawdry embellishment would have been.

"Avourneen," said Ellish, "the way to deck out your shop is to keep the best of goods. Wanst the people knows that they'll get betther money-worth here than they'll get anywhere else, they'll come here, whether the shop looks well or ill. Not savin' but every shop ought to be clane an' dacent, for there's rason in all things."

This, indeed, was another secret of their success. Every article in their shop was of the best description, having been selected by Ellish's own eye and hand in the metropolis, or imported directly from the place of its manufacture. Her periodical visits to Dublin gave her great satisfaction; for it appears that those with whom she dealt, having had sufficient discrimination to appreciate her talents and integrity, treated her with marked respect.

Peter's farm-yard bore much greater evidence of his wealth than did Ellish's shop. It was certainly surprising to reflect, that by the capacity of two illiterate persons, who began the world with nothing, all the best and latest improvements in farming were either adopted or anticipated. The farmyard was upon a great scale; for Peter cultivated no less than four hundred acres of land—to such lengths had his enterprise carried him. Threshing machines, large barns, corn kilns, large stacks, extensive stables, and immense cow-houses, together with the incessant din of active employment perpetually going on—all gave a very high opinion of their great prosperity, and certainly reflected honor upon those whose exertions had created such a scene about them. One would naturally suppose, when the family of the Connells had arrived to such unexpected riches, and found it necessary to conduct a system whose machinery was so complicated and extensive that Ellish would have fallen back to the simple details of business, from a deficiency of that comprehensive intelligence which is requisite to conduct the higher order of mercantile transactions; especially as her sons were admirably qualified by practice, example, and education, to ease her of a task which would appear one of too much difficulty for an unlettered farmer's wife. Such a supposition would be injurious to this excellent woman. So far from this being the case, she was still the moving spirit, the chief conductor of the establishment. Whenever any difficulty arose that required an effort of ingenuity and sagacity, she was able in the homeliest words to disentangle it so happily, that those who heard her wondered that it should at all have appeared to them as a difficulty. She was everywhere. In Peter's farm-yard her advice was as excellent and as useful as in her own shop. On his farms she was the better agriculturist, and she frequently set him right in his plans and speculations for the ensuing year.

She herself was not ignorant of her skill. Many a time has she surveyed the scene about her with an eye in which something like conscious pride might be seen to kindle. On those occasions she usually shook her head, and exclaimed, either in soliloquy, or by way of dialogue, to some person near her:—

"Well, avourneen, all's very right, an' goin' an bravely; but I only hope that when I'm gone I won't be missed!"

"Missed," Peter would reply, if he happened to hear her; "oh, upon my credit"—he was a man of too much consequence to swear "by this and by that" now—"upon my credit, Ellish, if you die soon, you'll see the genteel wife I'll have in your place."

"Whisht, avourneen! Although you're but jokin', I don't like to hear it, avillish! No, indeed; we wor too long together, Pether, and lived too happily wid one another, for you to have the heart to think of sich a thing!"

"No, in troth, Ellish, I would be long sarry to do it. It's displasin' to you, achree, an' I won't say it. God spare you to us! It was you put the bone in us, an' that's what all the country says, big an' little, young and ould; an' God He knows it's truth, and nothin' else."

"Indeed, no, thin, Pether, it's not altogether thruth, you desarve your full share of it. You backed me well, acushla, in everything, an' if you had been a dhrinkin', idle, rollikin' vagabone, what 'ud signify all, that me or the likes o' me could do."

"Faith, an' it was you made me what I am, Ellish; you tuck the soft side o' me, you beauty; an' it's well you did, for by this—hem, upon my reputation, if you had gone to cross purposes with me you'd find yourself in the wrong box. An', you phanix of beauty, you managed the childhre, the crathurs, the same way—an' a good way it is, in throth."

"Pether, wor you ever thinkin' o' Father Muloahy's sweetness to us of late?"

"No, thin, the sorra one o' me thought of it. Why, Ellish?"

"Didn't you obsarve that for the last three or four months he's full of attintions to us? Every Sunday he brings you up, an' me, if I'd go, to the althar,—an' keeps you there by way of showin' you respect. Pether, it's not you, but your money he respects; an' I think there ought to be no respect o' persons in the chapel, any how. You're not a bit nearer God by bein' near the althar; for how do we know but the poorest crathur there is nearer to heaven than we are!"

"Faith, sure enough, Ellish; but what deep skame are you penethratin' now, you desaver?"

"I'd lay my life, you'll have a proposial o' marriage from Father Mulcahy, atween our Dan an' Miss Granua. For many a day he's hintin' to us, from time to time, about the great offers she had; now what's the rason, if she had these great offers, that he didn't take them?"

"Bedad, Ellish, you're the greatest headpiece in all Europe. Murdher alive, woman, what a fine counsellor you'd make. An' suppose he did offer, Ellish, what 'ud you be sayin' to him?"

"Why, that 'ud depind entirely upon what he's able to give her—they say he has money. It 'ud depind, too, upon whether Dan has any likin' for her or not."

"He's often wid her, I know; an' I needn't tell you, Ellish, that afore we wor spliced together, I was often wid somebody that I won't mintion. At all evints, he has made Dan put the big O afore the Connell, so that he has him now full namesake to the Counsellor; an', faith, that itself' 'ud get him a wife."

"Well, the best way is to say nothin', an' to hear nothin', till his Reverence spates out, an' thin we'll see what can be done."

Ellish's sagacity had not misled her. In a few months afterwards Father Mulcahy was asked by young Dan Connell to dine; and as he and holiest Ellish were sitting together, in the course of the evening, the priest broached the topic as follows:—

"Mrs. Connell, I think this whiskey is better than my four-year old, that I bought at the auction the other day, although Dan says mine's better. Between ourselves, that Dan is a clever, talented young fellow; and if he happens upon a steady, sensible wife, there is no doubt but he will die a respectable man. But, by the by, Mrs. Connell, you've never tried my whiskey; and upon my credit, you must soon, for I know your opinion would decide the question."

"Is it worth while to decide it, your Reverence? I suppose the thruth is, sir, that both is good enough for anyone; an' I think that's as much as we want."

Thus far she went, but never alluded to Dan, judiciously throwing the onus of introducing that subject upon the priest.

"Dan says mine's better," observed Father Mulcahy; "and I would certainly give a great deal for his opinion upon that or any other subject, except theology."

"You ought," replied Ellish, "to be a bether judge of whiskey nor either Dan nor me; an' I'll tell you why—you dhrink it in more places, and can make comparishment one wid another; but Dan an' me is confined mostly to our own, an' of that same we take very little, an' the less the betther for people in business, or indeed for anybody."

"Very true, Mrs. Connell! But for all that, I won't give up Dan's judgment in anything within his own line of business, still excepting theology, for which, he hasn't the learning."

"He's a good son, without tayology—as good as ever broke the world's bread," said Peter, "glory be to God! Although, for that matther, he ought to be as well acquainted wid tayology as your Reverence, in regard that he sells more of it nor you do."

"A good son, they say, Mrs. Connell, will make a good husband. I wonder you don't think of settling him in life. It's full time."

"Father, avourneen, we must lave that wid himself. I needn't be tellin' you, that it 'ud be hard to find a girl able to bring what the girl that 'ud expect Dan ought to bring."

This was a staggerer to the priest, who recruited his ingenuity by drinking Peter's health, and Ellish's.

"Have you nobody in your eye for him, Mrs. Connell?"

"Faith, I'll engage she has," replied Peter, with a ludicrous grin—"I'll venture for to say she has that."

"Very right, Mrs. Connell; it's all fair. Might one ask who she is; for, to tell you the truth, Dan is a favorite of mine, and must make it a point to see him well settled."

"Why, your Reverence," replied Peter again, "jist the one you mintioned."

"Who? I? Why I mentioned nobody."

"An' that's the very one she has in her eye for him, plase your Reverence—ha, ha, ha! What's the world widout a joke, Docthor? beggin' your pardon for makin' so free wid you."

"Peter, you're still a wag," replied the priest; "but, seriously, Mrs. Connell, have you selected any female, of respectable connections, as a likely person to be a wife for Dan?"

"Indeed no, your Reverence, I have not. Where could I pitch upon a girl—barrin' a Protestant, an' that 'ud never do—who has a fortune to meet what Dan's to get?"

The priest moved his chair a little, and drank their healths a second time.

"But you know, Mrs. Connell, that Dan needn't care so much about fortune, if he got a girl of respectable connections. He has an independence himself."

"Thrue for you, father; but what right would any girl have to expect to be supported by the hard arnin' of me an' my husband, widout bringin' somethin' forrid herself? You know, sir, that the fortune always goes wid the wife; but am I to fortune off my son to a girl that has nothin'? If my son, plase your Reverence, hadn't a coat to his back, or a guinea in his pocket—as, God be praised, he has both—but, supposin' he hadn't, what right would he have to expect a girl wid a handsome fortune to marry him? There's Paddy Neil your sarvint-boy; now, if Paddy, who's an honest man's son, axed your niece, wouldn't you be apt to lose your timper?"

"I beg your pardon, Mrs. Connell, I think your fire's rather hot—allow me to drawback a little. Mrs. Connell, your health again!—Mr. Connell, your fireside!"

"Thank you, Docthor; but faith I think you ought hardly to dhrink the same fireside, becase it appears to be rather hot for your Reverence, at the present time—ha, ha, ha! Jokin' still, Docthor, we must be. Well, what harm! I wish we may never do worse!"

"And what fortune would you expect with a girl of genteel connexion—a girl that's accomplished, well say in music, plain work, and Irish, vernacularly?—hem! What fortune would you be expecting with such a girl?"

"Why, Docthor, ahagur, the only music I'd wish for my son's wife is a good timper; an' that's what their music-masthers can't tache thim. The plain work, although I don't know what you mane by it, sounds well enough; an' as to Irish, whick-whacku-larly, if you mane our own ould tongue, he may get thousands that can spake it whackinly, an' nothin' else."

"You're a wealthy woman, certainly, Mrs. Connell, and what's more, I'm not at all surprised at it. Your health, once more, and long life to you! Suppose, however, that Dan got a fitting wife, what would you expect as a proper portion? I have a reason for asking."

"Dan, plase your Reverence, will get four thousand to begin the world wid; an', as he's to expect none but a Catholic, I suppose if he gets the fourth part of that, it's as much as he ought to look for."

"A thousand pounds!—hut tut! The woman's beside herself. Why look about you and try where you can find a Catholic girl with a thousand pounds fortune, except in a gentleman's family, where Dan could never think of going."

"That's thrue, any how, your Reverence," observed Peter.—"A thousand pounds! Ellish! you needn't look for it. Where is it to be had out of a gintleman's family, as his Reverence says thrue enough."

"An' now, Docthor," said Ellish, "what 'ud you think a girl ought to bring a young man like Dan, that's to have four thousand pounds?"

"I don't think any Catholic girl of his own rank in the county, could get more than a couple of hundred."

"That's one shillin' to every pound he has," replied Ellish, almost instantaneously. "But, Father, you may as well spake out at wanst," she continued, for she was too quick and direct in all her dealings to be annoyed by circumlocution; "you're desairous of a match between Dan an' Miss Granua?"

"Exactly," said the priest; "and what is more, I believe they are fond of each other. I know Dan is attached to her, for he told me so. But, now that we have mentioned her, I say that there is not a more accomplished girl of her persuasion in the parish we sit in. She can play on the bagpipes better than any other piper in the province, for I taught her myself; and I tell you that in a respectable man's wife a knowledge of music is a desirable thing. It's hard to tell, Mrs. Connell, how they may rise in the World, and get into fashionable company, so that accomplishments, you persave, are good, she can make a shirt and wash it, and she can write Irish. As for dancing, I only wish you'd see her at a hornpipe. All these things put together, along with her genteel connections, and the prospect of what I may be able to lave her—I say your son may do worse."

"It's not what you'd lave her, sir, but what you'd give her in the first place, that I'd like to hear. Spake up, your Reverence, an' let us know how far you will go."

"I'm afeard, sir," said Peter, "if it goes to a clane bargain atween yez, that Ellish will make you bid up for Dan. Be sharp; sir, or you'll have no chance; faix, you won't."

"But, Mrs. Connell;" replied the priest, "before I spake up, consider her accomplishments. I'll undertake to say, that the best bred girl in Dublin cannot perform music in such style, or on such an instrument as the one she uses. Let us contemplate Dan and her after marriage, in an elegant house, and full business, the dinner over, and they gone up to the drawing-room. Think how agreeable and graceful it would be for Mrs. Daniel O'Connell to repair to the sofa, among a few respectable friends, and, taking up her bagpipes, set her elbow a-going, until the drone gives two or three broken groans, and the chanter a squeak or two, like a child in the cholic, or a cat that you had trampled on by accident. Then comes the real ould Irish music, that warms the heart. Dan looks upon her graceful position, until the tears of love, taste, and admiration are coming down his cheeks. By and by, the toe of him moves: here another foot is going; and, in no time, there is a hearty dance, with a light heart and a good conscience. You or I, perhaps, drop in to see them, and, of course, we partake of the enjoyment."

"Divil a pleasanter," said Peter: "I tell you, I'd like it well; an', for my own part, if the deludher here has no objection, I'm not goin' to spoil sport."

Ellish looked hard at the priest; her keen blue eye glittered with a sparkling light, that gave decided proofs of her sagacity being intensely excited.

"All that you've said," she replied, "is very fine; but in regard o' the bag-pipes, an' Miss Granua Mulcahy's squeezin' the music out o' thim—why, if it plased God to bring my son to the staff an' bag—a common beggar—indeed, in that case, Miss Granua's bagpipes might sarve both o' thim, an' help, maybe, to get them a night's lodgin' or so; but until that time comes, if you respect your niece, you'll burn her bagpipes, dhrone, chanther, an' all. If you are for a match, which I doubt, spake out, as I said, and say what fortune you'll pay down on the nail wid her, otherwise we're losin' our time, an' that's a loss one can't make up."

The priest, who thought he could have bantered Ellish into an alliance, without pledging himself to pay any specific fortune, found that it was necessary for him to treat the matter seriously, if he expected to succeed. He was certainly anxious for the match; and as he really wished to see his niece—who, in truth, was an excellent girl, and handsome—well settled, he resolved to make a stretch and secure Dan if possible.

"Mrs. Connell," said he, "I will be brief with you. The most I can give her is three hundred pounds, and even that by struggling and borrowing: I will undertake to pay it as you say—on the nail! for I am really anxious that my niece should be connected with so worthy and industrious a family. What do you say?"

"I'm willin' enough," replied Peter. It's not asy to get that and a Catholic girl."

"There's some thruth in what you say, aroon, sure enough," observed Ellish; "an' if his Reverence puts another hundhre to it, why, in the name of goodness, let them go together. If you don't choose that, Docthor, never breathe the subject to me agin. Dan's not an ould man yit, an' has time enough to get wives in plenty."

"Come," replied the priest, "there's my hand, it's a bargain; although I must say there's no removing you from your point. I will give four hundred, hook or crook; but I'll have sad scrambling to get it together. Still I'll make it good."

"Down on the nail?" inquired Ellish.

"Ay! ay! Down on the nail," replied the priest.

"Well, in the name o' Goodness, a bargain be it," said Peter; "but, upon my credit, Ellish, I won't have the bag-pipes burnt, anyhow. Faith, I must hear an odd tune, now an' thin, when I call to see the childhre."

"Pether, acushla, have sinse. Would you wish to see your daughter-in-law playin' upon the bag-pipes, when she ought to be mindin' her business, or attendin' her childhre? No, your Reverence, the pipes must be laid aside. I'll have no pipery connection for a son of mine."

The priest consented to this, although Peter conceded it with great reluctance. Further preliminaries were agreed upon, and the evening passed pleasantly, until it became necessary for Mr. Mulcahy to bid them good-night.

When they were gone, Peter and Ellish talked over the matter between themselves in the following dialogue:

"The fortune's a small one," said Ellish to her husband; "an' I suppose you wondher that I consinted to take so little."

"Sure enough, I wondhered at it," replied Peter, "but, for my own part, I'd give my son to her widout a penny o' fortune, in ordher to be connected wid the priest; an' besides, she's a fine, handsome, good girl—ay, an' his fill of a wife, if she had but the shift to her back."

"Four hundhre wid a priest's niece, Pether, is before double the money wid any other. Don't you know, that when they set up for themselves, he can bring the custom of the whole parish to them? It's unknown the number o' ways he can sarve them in. Sure, at stations an' weddins, wakes, marriages, and funerals, they'll all be proud to let the priest know that they purchased whatever they wanted from his niece an' her husband. Betther!—faix, four hundhre from him is worth three times as much from another."

"Glory to you, Ellish!—bright an' cute for ever! Why, I'd back you for a woman' that could buy an' sell Europe, aginst the world. Now, isn't it odd that I never think of these long-headed skames?"

"Ay do you, often enough, Pether; but you keep them to yourself, abouchal."

"Faith, I'm close, no doubt of it; an'—but there's no use in sayin' any more about it—you said whatsomever came into my own head consarnin' it. Faith, you did, you phanix."

In a short time the marriage took place.

Dan, under the advice of his mother, purchased a piece of ground most advantageously located, as the site of a mill, whereon an excellent one was built; and as a good mill had been long a desideratum in the country, his success was far beyond his expectations. Every speculation, in fact, which Ellish touched, prospered. Fortune seemed to take delight, either in accomplishing or anticipating her wishes. At least, such was the general opinion, although nothing could possibly be more erroneous than to attribute her success to mere chance. The secret of all might be ascribed to her good sense, and her exact knowledge of the precise moment when to take the tide of fortune at its flow. Her son, in addition to the mill, opened an extensive mercantile establishment in the next town, where he had ample cause to bless the instructions of his mother, and her foresight in calculating upon the advantage of being married to the priest's niece.

Soon after his marriage, the person who had for many years kept the head inn of the next town died, and the establishment was advertised for sale. Ellish was immediately in action. Here was an opportunity of establishing the second son in a situation which had enabled the late proprietor of it to die nearly the richest man in the parish. A few days, therefore, before that specified for the sale, she took her featherbed car, and had an interview with the executors of the late proprietor. Her character was known, her judgment and integrity duly estimated, and, perhaps, what was the weightiest argument in her favor, her purse was forthcoming to complete the offer she had made. After some private conversation between the executors, her proposal was accepted, and before she returned home, the head inn, together with its fixtures and furniture, was her property.

The second son, who was called after his father, received the intelligence with delight. One of his sisters was, at his mother's suggestion, appointed to conduct the housekeeping department, and keep the bar, a duty for which she was pretty well qualified by her experience at home.

"I will paint it in great style," said Peter the Younger. "It must be a head Inn no longer; I'll call it a Hotel, for that's the whole fashion."

"It wants little, avourneen," said his mother; "it was well kept—some paintin' an other improvements it does want, but don't be extravagant. Have it clane an' dacent, but, above all things, comfortable, an' the attindance good. That's what'll carry you, an—not a flourish o' paintin' outside, an' dirt, an' confusion, an' bad attindance widin. Considher, Pether darlin', that the man who owned it last, feathered his nest well in it, but never called it a Hotill. Let it appear on the outside jist as your old customers used to see it; but improve it widin as much as you can, widout bein' lavish an it, or takin' up the place wid nonsense."

"At all evints, I'll have a picture of the Liberator over the door, an' O'Connell' written under it. It's both our names, and besides it will be 'killin' two birds with one stone.'"

"No, avourneen. Let me advise you, if you wish to prosper in life, to keep yourself out of party-work. It only stands betune you an' your business; an' it's surely wiser for you to mind your own affairs than the affairs of the nation. There's rason in everything. No man in trade has a right, widout committin' a sin, to neglect his family for politics or parties. There's Jack Cummins that was doin' well in his groceries till he began to make speeches, an' get up public meetins, an' write petitions, an' now he has nothin' to throuble him but politics, for his business is gone. Every one has liberty to think as they plase. We can't expect Protestants to think as we do, nor Protestants can't suppose that we ought to think as they'd wish; an' for that same rason, we should make allowance on both sides, an' not be like many we know, that have their minds up, expectin' they don't know, what, instead of workin' for themselves and their families as they ought to do. Pether, won't you give that up, avillish?"

"I believe you're right, mother. I didn't see it before in the light you've placed it in."

"Then, Pether darlin', lose no time in gettin' into your place—you an' Alley; an' faix, if you don't both manage it cleverly, I'll never spake to yez."

Here was a second son settled, and nothing remained but to dispose of their two daughters in marriage to the best and most advantageous offers. This, in consequences of their large fortunes, was not a matter of much difficulty. The eldest, Alley, who assisted her brother to conduct the Inn, became the wife of an extensive grazier, who lived in an adjoining county. The younger, Mary, was joined to Father Mulcahy's nephew, not altogether to the satisfaction of the mother, who feared that two establishments of the same kind, in the same parish, supported by the same patronage, must thrive at the expense of each other. As it was something of a love-match, however, she ultimately consented.

"Avourneen," said she, "the parish is big enough, an' has customers enough to support two o' them; an' I'll engage his Reverence will do what he can for them both."

In the meantime, neither she nor her husband was dependent upon their children. Peter still kept the agricultural department in operation; and although the shop and warehouse were transferred to Mr. Mulcahy, in right of his wife, yet it was under the condition of paying a yearly sum to Mrs. Connell and her husband, ostensibly as a provision, but really as a spur to their exertions. A provision they could not want, for their wealth still amounted to thousands, independently of the large annual profits arising out of their farms.

For some time after the marriage of her youngest daughter, Mrs. Connell took a very active part in her son-in-law's affairs. He possessed neither experience, nor any knowledge of business whatsoever, though he was not deficient in education, nor in capacity to acquire both. This pleased Mrs. Connell very much, who set herself to the task of instructing him in the principles of commercial life, and in the best methods of transacting business.

"The first rules," said she to him, "for you to obsarve is these: tell truth; be sober; be punctual; rise early; persavere; avoid extravagance; keep your word; an watch your health. Next: don't be proud; give no offince; talk sweetly; be ready to oblage, when you can do it widout inconvanience, but don't put yourself or your business out o' your ways to sarve anybody.

"Thirdly: keep an appearance of substance an' comfort about your place, but don't go beyant your manes in doin' it; when you make a bargain, think what a corrocther them you dale wid bears, an' whether or not you found them honest before, if you ever had business wid them.

"When you buy a thing, appear to know your own mind, an' don't be hummin' an' hawin', an' higglin', an' longin' as if your teeth wor watherin' afther it; but be manly, downright, an' quick; they'll then see that you know your business, an' they won't be keepin' off an' an, but will close wid you at wanst.

"Never drink at bargain makin'; an' never pay money in a public-house if you can help it; if you must do it, go into an inn, or a house that you know to be dacent.

"Never stay out late in a fair or market; don't make a poor mouth; on the other hand, don't boast of your wealth; keep no low company; don't be rubbin' yourself against your betthers, but keep wid your aquils. File your loose papers an' accounts, an' keep your books up to the day. Never put off anything that can be done, when it ought to be done. Go early to bed; but be the last up at night, and the first in the mornin', and there's no fear o' you."

Having now settled all her children in comfort and independence, with each a prospect of rising still higher in the world, Mrs. Connell felt that the principal duties devolving upon her had been discharged. It was but reasonable, she thought, that, after the toil of a busy life, her husband and herself should relax a little, and enjoy with lighter minds the ease for which they had labored so long and unremittingly.

"Do you know what I'm thinkin' of, Pether?" said she, one summer evening in their farm-yard.

"Know, is it?" replied Peter—"some long-headed plan that none of us 'ud ever think of, but that will stare us in the face the moment you mintion it. What is it, you ould sprig o' beauty?"

"Why, to get a snug jauntin'-car, for you an' me. I'd like to see you comfortable in your old days, Peter. You're gettin' stiff, ahagur, an' will be good for nothin' by an' by."

"Stiff! Arrah, by this an' by—my reputation, I'm younger nor e'er a one o' my sons yet, you——eh?" said Peter, pausing—

"Faith, then I dunna that. Upon my credit, I think, on second thoughts, that a car 'ud be a mighty comfortable thing for me. Faith, I do, an' for you, too, Ellish."

"The common car," she continued, "is slow and throublesome, an' joults the life out o' me."

"By my reputation, you're not the same woman since you began to use it, that you wor before at all. Why, it'll shorten your life. The pillion's dacent enough; but the jauntin'-car!—faix, it's what 'ud make a fresh woman o' you—divil a lie in it."

"You're not puttin' in a word for yourself now, Pether?"

"To be sure I am, an' for both of us. I'd surely be proud to see yourself an' myself sittin' in our glory upon our own jauntin'-car. Sure we can afford it, an' ought to have it, too. Bud-an'-ager! what's the rason I didn't, think of it long ago?"

"Maybe you did, acushla; but you forgot, it. Wasn't that the way wid you, Pether? Tell the thruth."

"Why, thin, bad luck to the lie in it, since you must know. About this time twelve months—no, faix, I'm wrong, it was afore Dan's marriage—I had thoughts o' spakin' ta you about it, but somehow it left my head. Upon my word, I'm in airnest, Ellish."

"Well, avick, make your mind asy; I'll have one from Dublin in less nor a fortnight. I can thin go about of an odd time, an' see how Dan an' Pether's comin' an. It'll be a pleasure to me to advise an' direct them, sure, as far an' as well as I can. I only hope? God will enable thim to do as much for their childher, as he enabled us to do for them, glory be to his name!"

Peter's eye rested upon her as she spoke—a slight shade passed over his face, but it was the symptom of deep feeling and affection, whose current had run smooth and unbroken during the whole life they had spent together.

"Ellish," said he, in a tone of voice that strongly expressed what he felt, "you wor one o' the best wives that ever the Almighty gev to mortual man. You wor, avourneen—-you wor, you wor!"

"I intind, too, to begin an' make my sowl, a little," she continued; "we had so much to do, Pether, aroon, that, indeed, we hadn't time to think of it all along; but now, that everything else is settled, we ought to think about that, an' make the most of our time—while we can."

"Upon my conscience, I've strong notions myself o' the same thing," replied Peter. "An' I'll back you in that, as well as in every thing else. Never fear, if we pull together, but we'll bring up the lost time. Faith, we will! Sowl, if you set about it, let me see them that 'ud prevint you goin' to heaven!"

"Did Paddy Donovan get the bay filly's foot aised, Pether?"

"He's gone down wid her to the forge: the poor crathur was very lame to-day."

"That's right; an' let Andy Murtagh bring down the sacks from Drumdough early to-morrow. That what ought to go to the market on Thursday, an' the other stacks ought to be thrashed out of hand."

"Well, well; so it will be all done. Tare alive! if myself knows how you're able to keep an eye on everything. Come in, an' let us have our tay."

For a few months after this, Ellish was perfectly in her element. The jaunting-car was procured; and her spirits seemed to be quite elevated. She paid regular visits to both her sons, looked closely into their manner of conducting business, examined their premises, and subjected every fixture and improvement made or introduced without her sanction, to the most rigorous scrutiny. In fact, what, between Peter's farm, her daughter's shop, and the establishments of her sons, she never found herself more completely encumbered with business. She had intended "to make her soul," but her time was so fully absorbed by the affairs of those in whom she felt so strong an interest, that she really forgot the spiritual resolution in the warmth of her secular pursuits.

One evening, about this time, a horse belonging to Peter happened to fall into a ditch, from which he was extricated with much difficulty by the laborers. Ellish, who thought it necessary to attend, had been standing for some time directing them how to proceed; her dress was rather thin, and the hour, which was about twilight, chilly, for it was the middle of autumn. Upon returning home she found herself cold, and inclined to shiver. At first she thought but little of these symptoms; for having never had a single day's sickness, she was scarcely competent to know that they were frequently the forerunners of very dangerous and fatal maladies. She complained, however, of slight illness, and went to bed without taking anything calculated to check what she felt. Her sufferings during the night were dreadful: high fever had set in with a fury that threatened to sweep the powers of life like a wreck before it. The next morning the family, on looking into her state more closely, found it necessary to send instantly for a physician.

On arriving, he pronounced her to be in a dangerous pleurisy, from which, in consequence of her plethoric habit, he expressed but faint hopes of her recovery. This was melancholy intelligence to her sons and daughters: but to Peter, whose faithful wife she had been for thirty years, it was a dreadful communication indeed.

"No hopes, Docthor!" he exclaimed, with a bewildered air: "did you say no hopes, sir?—Oh! no, you didn't—you couldn't say that there's no hopes!"

"The hopes of her recovery, Mr. Connell, are but slender,—if any."

"Docthor, I'm a rich man, thanks be to God an' to——" he hesitated, cast back a rapid and troubled look towards the bed whereon she lay, then proceeded—"no matther, I'm a rich man: but if you can spare her to me, I'll divide what I'm worth in the world wid you: I will, sir; an' if that won't do, I'll give up my last shillin' to save her, an' thin I'd beg my bit an' sup through the counthry, only let me have her wid me."

"As far as my skill goes," said the doctor, "I shall, of course, exert it to save her; but there are some diseases which we are almost always able to pronounce fatal at first sight. This, I fear, is one of them. Still I do not bid you despair—there is, I trust, a shadow of hope."

"The blessin' o' the Almighty be upon you, sir, for that word! The best blessing of the heavenly Father rest upon you an' yours for it!"

"I shall return in the course of the day," continued the physician; "and as you feel the dread of her loss so powerfully, I will bring two other medical gentlemen of skill with me."

"Heavens reward you for that, sir! The heavens above reward you an' them for it! Payment!—och, that signifies but little: but you and them 'll be well paid. Oh, Docthor, achora, thry an' save her!—Och, thry an' save her!"

"Keep her easy," replied the doctor, "and let my directions be faithfully followed. In the meantime, Mr. Connell, be a man and display proper fortitude under a dispensation which is common to all men in your state."

To talk of resignation to Peter was an abuse of words. The poor man had no more perception of the consolation arising from a knowledge of religion than a child. His heart sank within him, for the prop on which his affections had rested was suddenly struck down from under them.

Poor Ellish was in a dreadful state. Her malady seized her in the very midst of her worldly-mindedness; and the current of her usual thoughts, when stopped by the aberrations of intellect peculiar to her illness, bubbled up, during the temporary returns of reason, with a stronger relish of the world. It was utterly impossible for a woman like her, whose habits of thought and the tendency of whose affections had been all directed towards the acquisition of wealth, to wrench them for ever and at once from the objects on which they were fixed. This, at any time, would have been to her a difficult victory to achieve; but now, when stunned by the stroke of disease, and confused by the pangs of severe suffering, tortured by a feverish pulse and a burning brain, to expect that she could experience the calm hopes of religion, or feel the soothing power of Christian sorrow, was utter folly. 'Tis true, her life had been a harmless one: her example, as an industrious and enterprising member of society, was worthy of imitation. She was an excellent mother, a good neighbor, and an admirable wife; but the duties arising out of these different relations of life, were all made subservient to, and mixed up with, her great principle of advancing herself in the world, whilst that which is to come never engaged one moment's serious consideration.

When Father Mulcahy came to administer the rites of the church to Ellish, he found her in a state of incoherency. Occasional gleams of reason broke out through the cloud that obscured her intellect, but they carried with them the marks of a mind knit indissolubly to wealth and aggrandizement. The same tenor of thought, and the same broken fragments of ambitious speculation, floated in rapid confusion through the tempests of delirium which swept with awful darkness over her spirit.

"Mrs. Connell," said he, "can you collect yourself? Strive to compose your mind, so far as to be able to receive the aids of religion."

"Oh, oh!—my blood's boilin'! Is that—is that Father Mulcahy?"

"It is, dear: strive now to keep your mind calm, till you prepare yourself for judgment."

"Keep up his head, Paddy—keep up his head, or he'll be smothered undher the wather an' the sludge. Here, Mike, take this rope: pull, man,—pull, or the horse will be lost! Oh, my head!—I'm boilin'—I'm burnin'!"

"Mrs. Connell, let me entreat you to remember that you are on the point of death, and should raise your heart to God, for the pardon and remission of your sins."

"Oh! Father dear, I neglected that, but I intinded—I intinded—Where's Pether!—bring, bring—Pether to me!"

"Turn your thoughts to God, now, my dear. Are you clear enough in your mind for confession?"

"I am, Father! I am, avourneen. Come, come here, Pether! Pether, I'm goin' to lave you, asthore machree! I could part wid them all but—but you."

"Mrs. Connell, for Heaven's sake."—.

"Is this—is this—Father Mulcahy? Oh! I'm ill—ill!"—

"It is, dear; it is. Compose yourself and confess your sins."

"Where's Mary? She'll neglect—neglect to lay in a stock o' linen, although I—I—Oh, Father, avourneen! won't you pity me! I'm sick—oh, I'm very sick!"

"You are, dear—you are, God help you, very sick, but you'll be better soon. Could you confess, dear?—do you think you could?"

"Oh, this pain—this pain!—it's killin' me!—Pether—Pether, a suillish, machree, (* The light of my heart) have, have you des—have you desarted me."

The priest, conjecturing that if Peter made his appearance she might feel soothed, and perhaps sufficiently composed to confess, called him in from the next room.

"Here's Peter," said the priest, presenting him to her view—"Here's Peter, dear."

"Oh! what a load is on me! this pain—this pain is killin' me—won't you bring me, Pether? Oh, what will I do? Who's there?"

The mental pangs of poor Peter were, perhaps, equal in intensity to those which she suffered physically.

"Ellish," said he, in smothered sobs—"Ellish, acushla machree, sure I'm wid you here; here I'm sittin' on the bed wid you, achora machree."

"Catch my hand, thin. Ah, Pether! won't you pity your Ellish?—Won't you pity me—won't you pity me? Oh! this pain—this pain—is killin' me!"

"It is, it is, my heart's delight—it's killin' us both. Oh, Ellish, Ellish! I wish I was dead sooner nor see you in this agony. I ever loved you!—I ever an' always loved you, avourneen dheelish; but now I would give my heart's best blood, if it'ud save you. Here's Father Mulcahy come."

"About the mon—about the money—Pether—what do you intind——Oh! my blood—my blood's a-fire!—Mother o'Heaven!—Oh! this pain is—is takin' me from all—faix!—Rise me up!"

"Here, my darlin'—treasure o' my heart here—I'm puttin' your head upon my breast—upon my breast, Ellish, ahagur. Marciful Virgin—Father dear," said Peter, bursting into bitter tears—"her head's like fire! O! Ellish, Ellish, Ellish!—but my heart's brakin' to feel this! Have marcy on her, sweet God—have marcy on her! Bear witness, Father of heaven—bear witness, an' hear the vow of a brakin' heart. I here solemnly promise before God, to make, if I'm spared life an' health to do it, a Station on my bare feet to Lough Derg, if it plases you, sweet Father o' pity, to spare her to me this day! Oh! but the hand o' God, Father dear, is terrible!—feel her brow!—Oh! but it's terrible!"

"It is terrible," said the priest; "and terribly is it laid upon her, poor woman! Peter, do not let this scene be lost. Remember it."

"Oh, Father dear, can I ever forget it?—can I ever forget seein' my darlin' in sich agony?"

"Pether," said the sick woman, "will you get the car ready for to-mor—to-morrow—till I look at that piece o' land that Dan bought, before he—he closes the bargain?"

"Father, jewel!" said Pether, "can't you get the world banished out of her heart? Oh, I'd give all I'm worth to see that heart fixed upon God! I could bear to part wid her, for she must die some time; but to go wid this world's thoughts an' timptations ragin' strong in her heart—mockin' God, an' hope, an' religion, an' everything:—oh!—that I can't bear! Sweet Jasus, change her heart!—Queen o' Heaven, have pity on her, an' save her!"

The husband wept with great sorrow as he uttered these words.

"Neither reasoning nor admonition can avail her," replied the priest; "she is so incoherent that no train of thought is continued for a single minute in her mind. I will, however, address her again. Mrs. Connell, will you make a straggle to pay attention to me for a few minutes? Are you not afraid to meet God? You are about to die!—prepare yourself for judgment."

"Oh, Father dear! I can't—I can't—I am af—afraid—Hooh!—hooh!—God! You must do some thin'for—for me! I never done anything for myself."

"Glory be to God! that she has that much sinse, any way," exclaimed her husband. "Father, ahagur, I trust my vow was heard."

"Well, my dear—listen to me," continued the priest—"can you not make the best confession possible? Could you calm yourself for it?"

"Pether, avick machree—Pether,"—

"Ellish, avourneen, I'm here!—my darlin', I am your vick machree, an' ever was. Oh, Father! my heart's brakin'! I can't bear to part wid her. Father of heaven, pity us this day of throuble?"

"Be near me, Pether; stay wid me—I'm very lonely. Is this you keepin' my head up?"

"It is, it is! I'll never lave you till—till"—

"Is the carman come from Dublin wid—wid the broadcloth?"

"Father of heaven! she's gone back again!" exclaimed the husband.

"Father, jewel! have you no prayers that you'd read for her? You wor ordained for these things, an' comin' from you, they'll have more stringth. Can you do nothin' to save my darlin'?"

"My prayers will not be wanting," said the priest: "but I am watching for an interval of sufficient calmness to hear her confession; and I very much fear that she will pass in darkness. At all events, I will anoint her by and by. In the meantime, we must persevere a little longer; she may become easier, for it often happens that reason gets clear immediately before death."

Peter sobbed aloud, and wiped away the tears that streamed from his cheeks. At this moment her daughter and son-in-law stole in, to ascertain how she was, and whether the rites of the church had in any degree soothed or composed her.

"Come in, Denis," said the priest to his nephew, "you may both come in. Mrs. Mulcahy, speak to your mother: let us try every remedy that might possibly bring her to a sense of her awful state."

"Is she raving still?" inquired the daughter, whose eyes were red with weeping.

The priest shook his head; "Ah, she is—she is! and I fear she will scarcely recover her reason before the judgment of heaven opens upon her!"

"Oh thin may the Mother of Glory forbid that!" exclaimed her daughter—"anything at all but that! Can you do nothin' for her, uncle?"

"I'm doing all I can for her, Mary," replied the priest; "I'm watching a calm moment to get her confession, if possible."

The sick woman had fallen into a momentary silence, during which, she caught the bed-clothes like a child, and felt them, and seemed to handle their texture, but with such an air of vacancy as clearly manifested that no corresponding association existed in her mind.

The action was immediately understood by all present. Her daughter again burst into tears; and Peter, now almost choked with grief, pressing the sick woman to his heart, kissed her burning lips.

"Father, jewel," said the daughter, "there it is, and I feard it—the sign, uncle—the sign!—don't you see her gropin' the clothes? Oh, mother, darlin', darlin'!—are we going to lose you for ever?"

"Oh! Ellish, Ellish—won't you spake one word to me afore you go? Won't you take one farewell of me—of me, aroon asthore, before you depart from us for ever!" exclaimed her husband.

"Feeling the bed-clothes," said the priest, "is not always a, sign of death; I have known many to recover after it.

"Husht," said Peter—"husht!—Mary—Mary! Come hear—hould your tongues! Oh, it's past—it's past!—it's all past, an' gone—all hope's over! Heavenly fither!"

The daughter, after listening for a moment, in a paroxysm of wild grief, clasped her mother's recumbent body in her arms, and kissed hen lips with a vehemence almost frantic. "You won't go, my darlin'—is it from your own Mary that you'd go? Mary, that you loved best of all your childhre!—Mary that you always said, an' every body said, was your own image! Oh, you won't go without one word, to say you know her!"

"For Heaven's sake," said Father Mulcahy, "what do you mean?—are you mad?"

"Oh! uncle dear! don't you hear?—don't you hear?—listen an' sure you will—all hope's gone now—gone—gone! The dead rattle!—listen!—the dead rattle's in her throat!"—

The priest bent his ear a moment, and distinctly heard the gurgling noise produced by the phlegm, which is termed with wild poetical accuracy, by the peasantry—the "dead rattle," or "death rattle," because it is the immediate and certain forerunner of death.

"True," said the priest—"too true; the last shadow of hope is gone. We must now make as much of the time as possible. Leave the room for a few minutes till I anoint her, I will then call you in."

They accordingly withdrew, but in about fifteen or twenty minutes he once more summoned them to the bed of the dying woman.

"Come in," said he, "I have anointed her—come in, and kneel down till we offer up a Rosary to the Blessed Virgin, under the hope that she may intercede with God for her, and cause her to pass out of life happily. She was calling for you, Peter, in your absence; you had better stay with her."

"I will," said Peter, in a broken voice; "I'll stay nowhere else."

"An'I'll kneel at the bed-side," said the daughter. "She was the kind mother to me, and to us all; but to me in particular. 'Twas with me she took her choice to live, when they war all striving for her. Oh," said she, taking her mother's hand between hers, and kneeling-down to kiss it, "a Vahr dheelish! (* sweet mother) did we ever think to see you departing from us this way! snapped away without a minute's warning! If it was a long-sickness, that you'd be calm and sinsible in, but to be hurried away into eternity, and your mind dark! Oh, Vhar dheelish, my heart is broke to see you this way!"

"Be calm," said the priest; "be quiet till I open the Rosary."

He then offered up the usual prayers which precede its repetition, and after having concluded them, commenced what is properly called the Rosary itself, which consists of fifteen Decades, each Decade containing the Hail Mary repeated ten times, and the Lord's Prayer once. In this manner the Decade goes round from one to another, until, as we have said above, it is repeated fifteen times; or, in all, the Ave Maria's one hundred and sixty-five times, without variation. From the indistinct utterance, elevated voice, and rapid manner in which it is pronounced, it certainly has a wild effect, and is more strongly impressed with the character of a mystic rite, or incantation, than with any other religious ceremony with which we could compare it.

"When the priest had repeated the first part, he paused for the response: neither the husband nor daughter, however, could find utterance.

"Denis," said he, to his nephew, "do you take up the next."

His nephew complied; and with much difficulty Peter and his daughter were able to join in it, repeating here and there a word or two, as well as their grief and sobbings would permit them.

The heart must indeed have been an unfeeling one, to which a scene like this would not have been deeply touching and impressive. The poor dying woman reclined with her head upon her husband's bosom; the daughter knelt at the bed-side, with her mother's hand pressed against her lips, she herself convulsed with sorrow—the priest was in the attitude of earnest supplication, having the stole about his neck, his face and arms raised towards heaven—the son-in-law was bent over a chair, with his face buried in his hands. Nothing could exceed the deep, the powerful expression of entreaty, which marked every tone and motion of the parties, especially those of the husband and daughter. They poured an energy into the few words which they found voice to utter, and displayed such a concentration of the faculties of the soul in their wild unregulated attitudes, and streaming, upturned eyes, as would seem to imply that their own salvation depended upon that of the beloved object before them. Their words, too, were accompanied by such expressive tokens of their attachment to her, that the character of prayer was heightened by the force of the affection which they bore her. When Peter, for instance, could command himself to utter a word, he pressed his dying wife to his bosom, and raised his eyes to heaven in a manner that would have melted any human heart; and the daughter, on joining occasionally in the response, pressed her mother's hand to her heart, and kissed it with her lips, conscious that the awful state of her parent had rendered more necessary the performance of the two tenderest duties connected with a child's obedience—prayer and affection.

When the son-in-law had finished his Decade, a pause followed, for there was none now to proceed but her husband, or her daughter.

"Mary, dear," said the priest, "be a woman; don't let your love for your mother prevent you from performing a higher duty. Go on with the prayer—you see she is passing fast."

"I'll try, uncle," she replied—"I'll try; but—but—it's hard, hard, upon me."

She commenced, and by an uncommon effort so far subdued her grief, as to render her words intelligible. Her eyes, streaming with tears, were fixed with a mixture of wildness, sorrow, and devotedness, upon the countenance of her mother, until she had completed her Decade.

Another pause ensued. It was now necessary, according to the order and form of the Prayer, that Peter should commence and offer up his supplications for the happy passage from life to eternity of her who had been his inward idol during a long period. Peter knew nothing about sentiment, or the philosophy of sorrow; but he loved his wife with the undivided power of a heart in which nature had implanted her strongest affections. He knew, too, that his wife had loved him with a strength of heart equal to his own. He loved her, and she deserved his love.

The pause, when the prayer had gone round to him, was long; those who were present at length turned their eyes towards him, and the priest, now deeply affected, cleared his voice, and simply said, "Peter," to remind him that it was his duty to proceed with the Rosary.

Peter, however, instead of uttering the prayer, burst out into a tide of irrepressible sorrow.—"Oh!" said he, enfolding her in his arms, and pressing his lips to hers: "Ellish, ahagur machree! sure when I think of all the goodness, an' kindness, an' tendherness that you showed me—whin I think of your smiles upon me, whin you wanted me to do the right, an' the innocent plans you made out, to benefit me an' mine!—Oh! where was your harsh word, avillish?—where was your could brow, or your bad tongue? Nothin' but goodness—nothin' but kindness, an' love, an' wisdom, ever flowed from these lips! An' now, darlin', pulse o' my broken heart! these same lips can't spake to me—these eyes don't know me—these hands don't feel me—nor your ears doesn't hear me!"

"Is—is—it you?" replied his wife feebly—"is it—you?—come—come near me—my heart—my heart says it misses you—come near me!"

Peter again pressed her in an embrace, and, in doing so, unconsciously received the parting breath of a wife whose prudence and affection had saved him from poverty, and, probably, from folly or crime.

The priest, on turning round to rebuke Peter for not proceeding with the prayer, was the first who discovered that she had died; for the grief of her husband was too violent to permit him to notice anything with much accuracy.

"Peter," said he, "I beg your pardon; let me take the trouble of supporting her for a few minutes, after which I must talk to you seriously—very seriously."

The firm, authoritative tone in which the priest spoke, together with Peter's consciousness that he had acted wrongly by neglecting to join in the Rosary, induced him to retire from the bed with a rebuked air. The priest immediately laid back the head' of Mrs. Connell on the pillow, and composed the features of her lifeless face with his own hands. Until this moment none of them, except himself, knew that she was dead.

"Now," continued he, "all her cares, and hopes, and speculations, touching this world, are over—so is her pain; her blood will soon be cold enough, and her head will ache no more. She is dead. Grief is therefore natural; but let it be the grief of a man, Peter. Indeed, it is less painful to look upon her now, than when she suffered such excessive agony. Mrs. Mulcahy, hear me! Oh, it's in vain! Well, well, it is but natural; for it was an unexpected and a painful death!"

The cries of her husband and daughter soon gave intimation to her servants that her pangs were over. From the servants it immediately went to the neighbors, and thus did the circle widen until it reached the furthest ends of the parish. In a short time, also, the mournful sounds of the church-bell, in slow and measured strokes, gave additional notice that a Christian soul had passed into eternity.

It is in such scenes as these that the Roman Catholic clergy knit themselves so strongly into the affections of the people. All men are naturally disposed to feel the offices of kindness and friendship more deeply, when tendered at the bed of death or of sickness, than under any other circumstances. Both the sick-bed and the house of death are necessarily the sphere of a priest's duty, and to render them that justice which we will ever render, when and wheresoever it may be due, we freely grant that many shining, nay, noble instances of Christian virtue are displayed by them on such occasions.

When the violence of grief produced by Ellish's death had subsided, the priest, after giving them suitable exhortations to bear the affliction which had just befallen them with patience, told Peter, that as God, through the great industry and persevering exertions of her who had then departed to another world, had blessed him abundantly with wealth and substance, it was, considering the little time which had been allowed her to repent in a satisfactory manner for her transgressions, his bounden and solemn duty to set aside a suitable portion of that wealth for the delivery of her soul from purgatory, where, he trusted, in the mercy of God, it was permitted to remain.

"Indeed, your Reverence," replied Peter, "it wasn't necessary to mintion it, considherin' the way she was cut off from among us, widout even time to confess."

"But blessed be God," said the daughter, "she received the ointment at any rate, and that of itself would get her to purgatory."

"And I can answer for her," said Peter, "that she intended, as soon as she'd get everything properly settled for the childhre, to make her sowl."

"Ah! good intentions," said the priest, "won't do. I, however, have forewarned you of your duty, and must now leave the guilt or the merit of relieving her departed spirit, upon you and the other members of her family, who are all bound to leave nothing undone that may bring her from pain and fire, to peace and happiness."

"Och! och! asthore, asthore! you're lyin' there—an', oh, Ellish, avourneen, could you think that I—I—would spare money—trash—to bring you to glory wid the angels o' heaven! No, no, Father dear. It's good, an' kind, an' thoughtful of you to put it into my head; but I didn't intind to neglect or forget it. Oh, how will I live wantin' her, Father? When I rise in the mornin', avillish, where 'ud be your smile and your voice? We won't hear your step, nor see you as we used to do, movin' pleasantly about the place. No—you're gone, avoumeen—gone—an' we'll see you and hear you no more!"

His grief was once more about to burst forth, but the priest led him out of the room, kindly chid him for the weakness of his immoderate sorrow, and after making arrangements about the celebration of mass for the dead, pressed his hand, and bade the family farewell.

The death of Ellish excited considerable surprise, and much conversation in the neighborhood. Every point of her character was discussed freely, and the comparisons instituted between her and Peter were anything but flattering to the intellect of her husband.

"An' so Ellish is whipped off, Larry," said a neighbor to one of Peter's laboring men, "Faix, an' the best feather in their wing is gone."

"Ay, sure enough, Risthard, you may say that. It was her cleverness made them what they are. She was the best manager in the three kingdoms."

"Ah, she was the woman could make a bargain. I only hope she hasn't brought the luck o' the family away wid her!"

"Why, man alive, she made the sons and daughters as clever as herself—put them up to everything. Indeed, it's quare to think of how that one woman brought them ris them to what they are!"

"They shouldn't forget themselves as they're doin', thin; for betune you an' me, they're as proud as Turks, an' God he sees it ill becomes them—sits very badly on them, itself, when everything knows that their father an' mother begun the world wid a bottle of private whiskey an' half a pound of smuggled tobaccy."

"Poor Pether will break his heart, any way. Oh, man, but she was the good wife. I'm livin' wid them going an seven year, an' never hard a cross word from the one to the other. It's she that had the sweet tongue all out, an' did manage him; but, afther all, he was worth the full o' the Royal George of her. Many a time, when some poor craythur 'ud come to ax whiskey on score to put over* some o' their friends, or for a weddin', or a christenin', maybe, an' when the wife 'ud refuse it, Pether 'ud send what whiskey they wanted afther them, widout lettin' her know anything about it. An', indeed, he never lost anything by that; for if they wor to sell their cow, he should be ped, in regard of the kindly way he gave it to them."

* To put over—the corpse of a friend, to be drunk at the wake and funeral.

"Well, we'll see how they'll manage now that she's gone; but Pether an' the youngest daughter, Mary, is to be pitied."

"The sarra much; barrin' that they'll miss her at first from about the place. You see she has left them above the world, an' full of it. Wealth and substance enough may they thank her for; and that's very good comfort for sorrow, Risthard."

"Faith, sure enough, Larry. There's no lie in that, any way!"

"Awouh! Lie! I have you about it."

Such was the view which had been taken of their respective characters through life. Yet, notwithstanding that the hearts of their acquaintances never warmed to her—to use a significant expression current among the peasantry—as they did to Peter, still she was respected almost involuntarily for the indefatigable perseverance with which she pushed forward her own interests through life. Her funeral was accordingly a large one; and the conversation which took place at it, turning, as it necessarily did, upon her extraordinary talents and industry, was highly to the credit of her memory and virtues. Indeed, the attendance of many respectable persons of all creeds and opinions, gave ample proof that the qualities she possessed had secured for her general respect and admiration.

Poor Peter, who was an object of great compassion, felt himself completely crushed by the death of his faithful partner. The reader knows that he had hitherto been a sober, and, owing to Ellish's prudent control, an industrious man. To thought or reflection he was not, however, accustomed; he had, besides, never received any education; if his morals were correct, it was because a life of active employment had kept him engaged in pursuits which repressed immorality, and separated him from those whose society and influence might have been prejudicial to him. He had scarcely known calamity, and when it occurred he was prepared for it neither by experience nor a correct view of moral duty. On the morning of his wife's funeral, such was his utter prostration both of mind and body, that even his own sons, in order to resist the singular state of collapse into which he had sunk, urged him to take some spirits. He was completely passive in their hands, and complied. This had the desired effect, and he found himself able to attend the funeral. When the friends of Ellish assembled, after the interment, as is usual, to drink and talk together, Peter, who could scarcely join in the conversation, swallowed glass after glass of punch with great rapidity. In the mean time, the talk became louder and more animated; the punch, of course, began to work, and as they sat long, it was curious to observe the singular blending of mirth and sorrow, singing and weeping, laughter and tears, which characterized this remarkable scene. Peter, after about two hours' hard drinking, was not an exception to the influence of this trait of national manners. His heart having been deeply agitated, was the more easily brought under the effects of contending emotions. He was naturally mirthful, and when intoxication had stimulated the current of his wonted humor, the influence of this and his recent sorrow produced such an anomalous commixture of fun and grief as could seldom, out of Ireland, be found checkering the mind of one individual.

It was in the midst of this extraordinary din that his voice was heard commanding silence in its loudest and best-humored key:

"Hould yer tongues," said he; "bad win to yees, don't you hear me wantin' to sing! Whist wid yees. Hem—och—'Eise up'—Why, thin, Phil Callaghan, you might thrate me wid more dacency, if you had gumption in you; I'm sure no one has a betther right to sing first in this company nor myself; an' what's more, I will sing first. Hould your tongues! Hem!"

He accordingly commenced a popular song, the air of which, though simple, was touchingly mournful.

"Och, rise up, Willy Reilly, an' come wid me, I'm goin' for to go wid you, and lave this counteree; I'm goin' to lave my father, his castles and freelands— An' away what Willy Reilly, an' his own Colleen Bawn.

"Och, they wint o'er hills an' mountains, and valleys that was fair, An' fled before her father as you may shortly hear; Her father followed afther wid a well-chosen armed band, Och, an' taken was poor Reilly, an' his own Colleen Bawn."

The simple pathos of the tune, the affection implied by the words, and probably the misfortune of Willy Reilly, all overcame him, He finished the second verse with difficulty, and on attempting to commence a third he burst into tears.

"Colleen bawn! (fair, or fair-haired girl)—Colleen bawn!" he exclaimed; "she's lyin' low that was my colleen bawn! Oh, will ye hould your tongues, an' let me think of what has happened me? She's gone: Mary, avourneen, isn't she gone from us? I'm alone, an' I'll be always lonely. Who have I now to comfort me? I know I have good childhre, neighbors; but none o' them, all of them, if they wor ten times as many, isn't aqual to her that's in the grave. Her hands won't be about me—there was tindherness in their very touch. An', of a Sunday mornin', how she'd tie an my handkerchy, for I never could rightly tie it an myself, the knot was ever an' always too many for me; but, och, och, she'd tie it an so snug an' purty wid her own hands, that I didn't look the same man! The same song was her favorite, Here's your healths; an' sure it's the first time ever we wor together that she wasn't wid us: but now, avillish, your voice is gone—you're silent and lonely in the grave; an' why shouldn't I be sarry for the wife o' my heart that never angered me? Why shouldn't I? Ay, Mary, asthore, machree, good right you have to cry afther her; she was the kind mother to you; her heart was fixed in you; there's her fatures on your face; her very eyes, an' fair hair, too, an' I'll love you, achora, ten times more nor ever, for her sake. Another favorite song of hers, God rest her, was 'Brian O'Lynn.' Troth an' I'll sing it, so I will, for if she was livin' she'd like it.

'Och, Brian O'Lynn, he had milk an' male, A two-lugged porringer wanfcin' a tail.'

Oh, my head's through other! The sarra one o' me I bleeve, but's out o' the words, or, as they say, there's a hole in the ballad. Send round the punch will ye? By the hole o' my coat, Parra Gastha, I'll whale you wid-in an inch of your life, if you don't Shrink. Send round the punch, Dan; an' give us a song, Parra Gastha. Arrah, Paddy, do you remimber—ha, ha, ha—upon my credit, I'll never forget it, the fun we had catchin' Father Soolaghan's horse, the day he gave his shirt to the sick man in the ditch. The Lord rest his sowl in glory—ha, ha, ha—I'll never forget it. Paddy, the song, you thief?"

"No, but tell them about that, Misther Connell."

"Throth, an' I will; but don't be Mitherin me. Faith, this is The height o' good punch. You see—ha, ha, ha! You see, it was one hard summer afore I was married to Ellish—mavourneen, that you wor, asthore! Och, och, are we parted at last? Upon my sowl, my heart's breakin'—breakin', (weeps) an' no wondher! But as I was sayin'—all your healths! faith, it is tip-top punch that—the poor man fell sick of a faver, an' sure enough, when it was known what ailed him, the neighbors built a little shed on the roadside for him, in regard that every one was afeard to let him into their place. Howsomever—ha, ha, ha—Father Soolaghan was one day ridin' past upon his horse, an' seein' the crathur lyin' undher the shed, on a whisp o' straw, he pulls bridle, an' puts the spake on the poor sthranger. So, begad, it came out, that the neighbors were very kind to him, an' used to hand over whatsomever they thought best for him from the back o' the ditch, as well as they could.

"'My poor fellow,' said the priest, 'you're badly off for linen.'

"'Thrue for you, sir,' said the sick man, 'I never longed for anything so much in my life, as I do for a clane shirt an' a glass o' whiskey.'

"'The devil a glass o' whiskey I have about me, but you shall have the clane shirt, you poor compassionate crathur,' said the priest, stretchin' his neck up an' down to make sure there was no one comin' on the road—ha, ha, ha!

"Well an' good—'I have three shirts,' says his Reverence, 'but I have only one o' them an me, an' that you shall have.'

"So the priest peels himself on the spot, an' lays his black coat and waistcoat afore him acrass the saddle, thin takin' off his shirt, he threw it acrass the ditch to the sick man. Whether it was the white shirt, or the black coat danglin' about the horse's neck, the divil a one o' myself can say, but any way, the baste tuck fright, an' made off wid Father Soolaghan, in the state I'm tellin' yez, upon his back—ha, ha, ha!

"Parra Gastha, here, an' I war goin' up at the time to do a little in the distillin' way for Tom Duggan of Aidinasamlagh, an' seen what was goin' an. So off we set, an we splittin' our sides laughin'—ha, ha, ha—at the figure the priest cut. However, we could do no good, an' he never could pull up the horse, till he came full flight to his own house, opposite the pound there below, and the whole town in convulsions when they seen him. We gother up his clothes, an' brought them home to him, an' a good piece o' fun-we had wid him, for he loved the joke as well as any man. Well, he was the good an' charitable man, the same Father Soolaghan; but so simple that he got himself into fifty scrapes, God rest him! Och, och, she's lyin' low that often laughed at that, an' I'm here—ay, I have no one, no one that 'ud show me sich a warm heart as she would. (Weeps.) However, God's will be done. I'll sing yez a song she liked:—

'Och, Brian O'Lynn, he had milk an' male, A two-lugged porringer wantin' a tail.'

Musha, I'm out agin—ha, ha, ha! Why, I b'lieve there's pishthrogues an me, or I'd remember it. Bud-an-age, dhrink of all ye. Lie in to the liquor, I say; don't spare it. Here, Mike, send us up another gallon, Faith, we'll make a night of it.

'Och, three maidens a milkin' did go An' three maidens a milkin' did go; An' the winds they blew high An' the winds they blew low, An' they dashed their milkin' pails to an' fro.'

All your healths, childhre! Neighbors, all your healths! don't spare what's before ye. It's long since I tuck a jorum myself an—come, I say, plase God, we'll often meet ins' way, so we will. Faith, I'll take a sup from this forrid, with a blessin'. Dhrink, I say, dhrink!"

By the time he had arrived at this patch, he was able to engross no great portion either of the conversation or attention. Almost every one present had his songs, his sorrows, his laughter, or his anecdotes, as well as himself. Every voice was loud; and every tongue busy. Intricate and entangled was the talk, which, on the present occasion, presented a union of all the extremes which the lights and shadows of the Irish character alone could exhibit under such a calamity as that which brought the friends of the deceased together.

Peter literally fulfilled his promise of taking a jorum in future. He was now his own master; and as he felt the loss of his wife deeply, he unhappily had recourse to the bottle, to bury the recollection of a woman, whose death left a chasm in his heart, which he thought nothing but the whiskey could fill up.

His transition from a life of perfect sobriety to one of habitual, nay, of daily intoxication, was immediate. He could not bear to be sober; and his extraordinary bursts of affliction, even in his cups, were often calculated to draw tears from the eyes of those who witnessed them. He usually went out in the morning with a flask of whiskey in his pocket, and sat down to weep behind a ditch—where, however, after having emptied his flask, he might be heard at a great distance, singing the songs which Ellish in her life-time was accustomed to love. In fact, he was generally pitied; his simplicity of character, and his benevolence of heart, which was now exercised without fear of responsibility, made him more a favorite than he ever had been. His former habits of industry were thrown aside; as he said himself, he hadn't heart to work; his farms were neglected, and but for his son-in-law, would have gone to ruin. Peter himself was sensible of this.

"Take them," said he, "into your own hands, Denis; for me, I'm not able to do anything more at them; she that kep me up is gone, an' I'm broken down. Take them—take them into your own hands. Give me my bed, bit, an' sup, an' that's all I Want."

Six months produced an incredible change in his appearance. Intemperance, whilst it shattered his strong frame, kept him in frequent exuberance of spirits; but the secret grief preyed on him within. Artificial excitement kills, but it never cures; and Peter, in the midst of his mirth and jollity, was wasting away into a shadow. His children, seeing him go down the hill of life so rapidly, consulted among each other on the best means of winning him back to sobriety. This was a difficult task, for his powers of bearing liquor were prodigious. He has often been known to drink so many as twenty-five, and sometimes thirty tumblers of punch, without being taken off his legs, or rendered incapable of walking about. His friends, on considering who was most likely to recall him to a more becoming life, resolved to apply to his landlord—the gentleman whom we have already introduced to our readers. He entered warmly into their plan, and it was settled, that Peter should be sent for, and induced, if possible, to take an oath against liquor. Early the following-day a liveried servant came down to inform him that his master wished to speak with him. "To be sure," said Peter; "divil resave the man in all Europe I'd do more for than the same gintleman, if it was only on account of the regard he had for her that's gone. Come, I'll go wid you in a minute."

He accordingly returned with the flask in his hand, saying, "I never thravel widout a pocket-pistol, John. The times, you see, is not overly safe, an' the best way is to be prepared!—ha, ha, ha! Och, och! It houlds three half-pints."

"I think," observed the servant, "you had better not taste that till after your return."

"Come away, man," said Peter; "we'll talk upon it as we go along: I couldn't do readily widout it. You hard that I lost Ellish?"

"Yes," replied the servant, "and I was very sorry to hear it."

"Did you attind the berrin?"

"No, but my master did," replied the man; "for, indeed, his respect for your wife was very great, Mr. Connell."

This was before ten o'clock in the forenoon, and about one in the afternoon a stout countryman was seen approaching the gentleman's house, with another man bent round his neck, where he hung precisely as a calf hangs round the shoulders of a butcher, when he is carrying it to his stall.

"Good Heavens!" said the owner of the mansion to his lady, "what has happened to John Smith, my dear? Is he dead?"

"Dead!" said his lady, going in much alarm to the drawing-room window: "I protest I fear so, Frank. He is evidently dead! For God's sake go down and see what has befallen him."

Her husband went hastily to the hall-door, where he met Peter with his burden.

"In the name of Heaven, what has happened, Connell?—what is the matter with John? Is he living or dead?"

"First, plase your honor, as I have him on my shouldhers, will you tell me where his bed is?" replied Peter. "I may as well lave him snug, as my hand's in, poor fellow. The devil's bad head he has, your honor. Faith, it's a burnin' shame, so it is, an' nothin' else—to be able to bear so little!"

The lady, children, and servants, were now all assembled about the dead footman, who hung, in the mean time, very quietly round Peter's neck.

"Gracious Heaven! Connell, is the man dead?" she inquired.

"Faith, thin, he is, ma'am,—for a while, any how; but, upon my credit, it's a burnin' shame, so it is,"—

"The man is drunk, my dear," said her husband—"he's only drunk."

"—a burnin' shame, so it is—to be able to bear no more nor about six glasses, an' the whiskey good, too. Will you ordher one o' thim to show me his bed, ma'am, if you plase," continued Peter, "while he's an me? It'll save throuble."

"Connell is right," observed his landlord. "Gallagher, show him John's bed-room."

Peter accordingly followed another servant, who pointed out his bed, and assisted to place the vanquished footman in a somewhat easier position than that in which Peter had carried him.

"Connell," said his landlord, when he returned, "how did this happen?"

"Faith, thin, it's a burnin' shame," said Connell, "to be able only to bear"—

"But how did it happen? for he has been hitherto a perfectly sober man."

"Faix, plase your honor, asy enough," replied Peter; "he began to lecthur me about! dhrinkin' so, says I, 'Come an' sit down behind the hedge here, an' we'll talk it over between us;' so we went in, the two of us, a-back o' the ditch—an' he began to advise me agin dhrink, an' I began to tell him about her that's gone, sir. Well, well! och, och! no matther!—So, sir, one story an' one pull from the bottle, brought on another, for divil a glass we had at all, sir. Faix, he's a tindher-hearted boy, anyhow; for as myself I begun to let the tears down, whin the bottle was near out, divil resave the morsel of him but cried afther poor Ellish, as if she had been his mother. Faix, he did! An' it won't be the last sup we'll have together, plase goodness! But the best of it was, sir, that the dhrunker he got, he abused me the more for dhrinkin'. Oh, thin, but he's the pious boy whin he gets a sup in his head! Faix, it's a pity ever he'd be sober, he talks so much scripthur an' devotion in his liquor!"

"Connell," said the landlord, "I am exceedingly sorry to hear that you have taken so openly and inveterately to drink as you have done, ever since the death of your admirable wife. This, in fact, was what occasioned me to send for you. Come into the parlor. Don't go, my dear; perhaps your influence may also be necessary. Gallagher, look to Smith, and see that every attention is paid him, until he recovers the effects of his intoxication."

He then entered the parlor, where the following dialogue took place between him and Peter:—

"Connell, I am really grieved to hear that you have become latterly so incorrigible a drinker; I sent for you to-day, with the hope of being able to induce you to give it up."

"Faix, your honor, it's jist what I'd expect from your father's son—kindness, an' dacency, an' devotion, wor always among yez. Divil resave the family in all Europe I'd do so much for as the same family:"

The gentleman and lady looked at each other, and smiled. They knew that Peter's blarney was no omen of their success in the laudable design they contemplated.

"I thank you, Peter, for your good opinion; but in the meantime allow me to ask, what can you propose to yourself by drinking so incessantly as you do?"

"What do I propose to myself by dhrinkin', is it? Why thin to banish grief, your honor. Surely you'll allow that no man has reason to complain who's able to banish the thief for two shillins a-day. I reckon the whiskey at first cost, so that it doesn't come to more nor that at the very outside."

"That is taking a commercial view of affliction, Connell; but you must promise me to give up drinking."

"Why thin upon my credit, your honor astonishes me. Is it to give up banishin' grief? I have a regard for you, sir, for many a dalin we had together; but for all that, faix, I'd be miserable for no man, barrin' for her that's gone. If I'd be so to oblage any one, I'd do it for your family; for divil the family in all Europe "—

"Easy, Connell—I am not to be palmed off in that manner; I really have a respect for the character which you bore, and wish you to recover it once more. Consider that you are disgracing yourself and your children by drinking so excessively from day to day—indeed, I am told, almost from hour to hour."

"Augh! don't believe the half o' what you hear, sir. Faith, somebody has been dhraw-in' your honor out! Why I'm never dhrunk, sir; faith, I'm not."

"You will destroy your health, Connell, as well as your character; besides, you are not to be told that it is a sin, a crime against. God, and an evil example to society."

"Show me the man, plase your honor, that ever seen me incapable. That's the proof o' the thing."

"But why do you drink at all? It is not-necessary."

"An' do you never taste a dhrop yourself, sir, plase your honor? I'll be bound you do, sir, raise your little finger of an odd time, as well as another. Eh, Ma'am? That's comin' close to his honor! An' faix, small blame to him, an' a weeshy sup o' the wine to the misthress herself, to correct the tindherness of her dilicate appetite."

"Peter, this bantering must not pass: I think I have a claim upon your respect and deference. I have uniformly been your friend and the friend of your children and family, but more especially of your late excellent and exemplary wife."

"Before God an' man I acknowledge that, sir—I do—I do. But, sir; to spake sarious—it's thruth, Ma'am, downright—to spake sarious, my heart's broke, an' every day it's brakin' more an' more. She's gone, sir, that used to manage me; an' now I can't turn myself to anything, barrin' the dhrink—God help me!"

"I honor you, Connell, for the attachment which you bear towards the memory of your wife, but I utterly condemn the manner in which you display it. To become a drunkard is to disgrace her memory. You know it was a character she detested."

"I know it all, sir, an' that you have thruth an rason on your side; but, sir, you never lost a wife that you loved; an' long may you be so, I pray the heavenly Father this day! Maybe if you did, sir, plase your honor, that, wid your heart sinkin' like a stone widin you, you'd thry whether or not something couldn't rise it. Sir, only for the dhrink I'd be dead."

"There I totally differ from you, Connell. The drink only prolongs your grief, by adding to it the depression of spirits which it always produces. Had you not become a drinker, you would long before this have been once more a cheerful, active, and industrious man. Your sorrow would have worn away gradually, and nothing but an agreeable melancholy—an affectionate remembrance of your excellent wife—would have remained. Look at other men."

"But where's the man, sir, had sich a wife to grieve for as she was? Don't be hard on me, sir. I'm not a dhrunkard. It's thrue I dhrink a great dale; but thin I can bear a great dale, so that I'm never incapable."

"Connell," said the lady, "you will break down your constitution, and bring yourself to an earlier death than you would otherwise meet."

"I care very little, indeed, how soon I was dead, not makin' you, Ma'am, an ill answer."

"Oh fie, Connell, for you, a sensible man and a Christian, to talk in such a manner!"

"Throth, thin, I don't, Ma'am. She's gone, an' I'd be glad to folly her as soon as I could. Yes, asthore, you're departed from me! an' now I'm gone asthray—out o' the right an' out o' the good! Oh, Ma'am," he proceeded, whilst the tears rolled fast down his cheeks, "if you knew her—her last words, too—Oh, she was—she was—but where's the use o' sayin' what she was?—I beg your pardon, Ma'am,—your honor, sir, 'ill forgive my want o' manners, sure I know it's bad breedin', but I can't help it."

"Well, promise," said his landlord, "to give up drink. Indeed, I wish you would take an oath against it: you are a conscientious man, and I know would keep it, otherwise I should not propose it, for I discountenance such oaths generally. Will you promise me this, Connell?"

"I'll promise to think of it, your honor,—aginst takin' a sartin quantity, at any rate."

"If you refuse it, I'll think you are unmindful of the good feeling which we have ever shown your family."

"What?—do you think, sir, I'm ungrateful to you? That's a sore cut, sir, to make a villain o' me. Where's the book?—I'll swear this minute. Have you a Bible, Ma'am?—I'll show you that I'm not mane, any way."

"No, Connell, you shall not do it rashly; you must be cool and composed: but go home, and turn it in your mind," she replied; "and remember, that it is the request of me and my husband, for your own good."

"Neither must you swear before me," said his landlord, "but before Mr. Mulcahy, who, as it is an oath connected with your moral conduct, is the best person to be present. It must be voluntary, however. Now, good-bye, Connell, and think of what we said; but take care never to carry home any of my servants in the same plight in which you put John Smith to-day."

"Faix thin, sir, he had no business, wid your honor's livery upon his back, to begin lecthurin' me again dhrinkin', as he did. We may all do very well, sir, till the timptation crasses us—but that's what thries us. It thried him, but he didn't stand it—faix he didn't!—ha, ha, ha! Good-mornin', sir—God bless you, Ma'am! Divil resave the family in all Europe"—

"Good-morning, Connell—good-morning! —Pray remember what we said."

Peter, however, could not relinquish the whiskey. His sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors, all assailed him, but with no success. He either bantered them in his usual way, or reverted to his loss, and sank into sorrow. This last was the condition in which they found him most intractable; for a man is never considered to be in a state that admits of reasoning or argument, when he is known to be pressed by strong gushes of personal feeling. A plan at length struck Father Mulcahy, which lie resolved to put into immediate execution.

"Peter," said he, "if you don't abandon drink, I shall stop the masses which I'm offering up for the repose of your wife's soul, and I will also return you the money I received for saying them."

This was, perhaps, the only point on which Peter was accessible. He felt staggered at such an unexpected intimation, and was for some time silent.

"You will then feel," added the priest, "that your drunkenness is prolonging the sufferings of your wife, and that she is as much concerned in your being sober as you are yourself."

"I will give in," replied Peter; "I didn't see the thing in that light. No—I will give it up; but if I swear against it, you must allow me a rasonable share every day, an' I'll not go beyant it, of coorse. The truth is, I'd die soon if I gev it up altogether."

"We have certainly no objection against that," said the priest, "provided you keep within what would injure your health, or make you tipsy. Your drunkenness is not only sinful but disreputable; besides, you must not throw a slur upon the character of your children, who hold respectable and rising situations in the world."

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse