Randal. I can't deny, plase your honour, we did.
Mr. Carv. (tearing the examinations) Then, gentlemen—you Roonies—beaten men, I cannot possibly take your examinations.
[When the examinations are torn, the McBRIDES all bow and thank his honour.
Mr. Carv. Beaten men! depart in peace.
The ROONIES sigh and groan, and after turning their hats several times, bow, walk a few steps away, return, and seem loath to depart. CATTY springs forward, holding up her hands joined in a supplicating attitude to Mr. CARVER.
Randal. If your honour would be plasing to let her spake now, or she'd burst, may be.
Mr. Carv. Speak now, woman, and ever after hold your tongue.
Catty. Then I am rasonable now, plase your honour; for I'll put it to the test—see, I'll withdraw my examinations entirely, and I'll recant—and I'll go farther, I'll own I'm wrong—(though I know I'm right)—and I'll beg your pardon, McBrides, if—(but I know I'll not have to beg your pardon either)—but I say I will beg your pardon, McBrides, if, mind if, you will accept my test, and it fails me.
Mr. Carv. Very fair, Mrs. Rooney.
Old McB. What is it she's saying?
Phil. What test, Mrs. Rooney?
Randal. Dear mother, name your test.
Catty. Let Honor McBride be summoned, and if she can prove she took no ring, and was not behind the chapel with Randal, nor drinking at Flaherty's with him, the time she was, I give up all.
Randal. Agreed, with all the pleasure in life, mother. Oh, may I run for her?
Old McB. Not a fut, you sir—go, Phil dear.
Phil. That I will, like a lapwing, father.
Mr. Carv. Where to, sir—where so precipitate?
Phil. Only to fetch my sister.
Mr. Carv. Your sister, sir?—then you need not go far: your sister, Honor McBride, is, I have reason to believe, in this house.
Catty. So. Under whose protection, I wonder?
Mr. Carv. Under the protection of Mrs. Carver, madam, into whose service she was desirous to engage herself; and whose advice—
Clerk. Shall I, if you please, sir, call Honor in?
Mr. Carv. If you please.
[A silence.—CATTY stands biting her thumb.—Old McBRIDE leans his chin upon Us hands on his stick, and never stirs, even his eyes.—Young McBRIDE looks out eagerly to the side at which HONOR is expected to enter—RANDAL looking over his shoulder, exclaims—
There she comes!—Innocence in all her looks.
Catty. Oh! that we shall see soon. No making a fool of me.
Old McB. My daughter's step—I should know it. (Aside) How my old heart bates!
[Mr. CARVER takes a chair out of the way.
Catty. Walk in—walk on, Miss Honor. Oh, to be sure, Miss Honor will have justice.
Enter HONOR McBRIDE, walking very timidly.
And no need to be ashamed, Miss Honor, until you're found out.
Mr. Carv. Silence!
Old McB. Thank your honour.
[Mr. CARVER whispers to his clerk, and directs him while the following speeches go on.
Catty. That's a very pretty curtsy, Miss Honor—walk on, pray—all the gentlemen's admiring you—my son Randal beyant all.
Randal. Mother, I won't bear—
Catty. Can't you find a sate for her, any of yees? Here's a stool—give it her, Randal. (HONOR sits down.) And I hope it won't prove the stool of repentance, Miss or Madam. Oh, bounce your forehead, Randal—truth must out; you've put it to the test, sir.
Randal. I desire no other for her or myself.
[The father and brother take each a hand of HONOR—support and soothe her.
Catty. I'd pity you, Honor, myself, only I know you a McBride—and know you're desaving me, and all present.
Mr. Carv. Call that other witness I allude to, clerk, into our presence without delay.
Clerk. I shall, sir. [Exit clerk.
Catty. We'll see—we'll see all soon—and the truth will come out, and shame the dibbil and the McBrides!
Randal. (looking out) The man I bet, as I'm a sinner!
Catty. What?—Which?—Where?—True for ye!—I was wondering I did not see the man you bet appear again ye: and this is he, with the head bound up in the garter, coming—miserable cratur he looks—who would he be?
Randal. You'll see all soon, mother.
Enter PAT COXE, his head bound up.
Mr. Carv. Come on—walk on boldly, friend.
Catty. Pat Coxe! saints above!
Mr. Carv. Take courage, you are under my protection here—no one will dare to touch you.
Randal (with infinite contempt) Touch ye! Not I, ye dirty dog!
Mr. Carv. No, sir, you have done enough that way already, it appears.
Honor. Randal! what, has Randal done this?
Mr. Carv. Now observe—this Mr. Patrick Coxe, aforesaid, has taken refuge with me; for he is, it seems, afraid to appear before his master, Mr. O'Blaney, this night, after having been beaten: though, as he assures me, he has been beaten without any provocation whatsoever, by you, Mr. Randal Rooney—answer, sir, to this matter.
Randal. I don't deny it, sir—I bet him, 'tis true.
Pat. To a jelly—without marcy—he did, plase your honour, sir.
Randal. Sir, plase your honour, I got rason to suspect this man to be the author of all them lies that was tould backwards and forwards to my mother, about me and Miss Honor McBride, which made my mother mad, and driv' her to raise the riot, plase your honour. I charged Pat with the lies, and he shirked, and could give me no satisfaction, but kept swearing he was no liar, and bid me keep my distance, for he'd a pocket pistol about him. "I don't care what you have about you—you have not the truth about ye, nor in ye," says I; "ye are a liar, Pat Coxe," says I: so he cocked the pistol at me, saying, that would prove me a coward—with that I wrenched the pistol from him, and bet him in a big passion. I own to that, plase your honour—there I own I was wrong (turning to HONOR), to demane myself lifting my hand any way.
Mr. Carv. But it is not yet proved that this man has told any lies.
Randal. If he has tould no lies, I wronged him. Speak, mother—(COXE gets behind CATTY, and twitches her gown), was it he who was the informer, or not?
Catty. Nay, Pat Coxe, if you lied, I'll not screen you; but if you tould the truth, stand out like a man, and stand to it, and I'll stand by you, against my own son even, Randal, if he was the author of the report. In plain words, then, he, Pat Coxe, tould me, that she, Honor McBride, gave you, Randal Rooney, the meeting behind the chapel, and you gave her the ring—and then she went with you to drink at Flaherty's.
Honor. (starting up) Oh! who could say the like of me?
Catty. There he stands—now, Pat, you must stand or fall—will you swear to what you said? (Old McBRIDE and PHIL approach PAT.)
Mr. Carv. This is not the point before me; but, however, I waive that objection.
Randal. Oh! mother, don't put him to his oath, lest he'd perjure himself.
Pat. I'll swear: do you think I'd be making a liar of myself?
Honor. Father—Phil dear—hear me one word!
Randal. Hear her—oh! hear her—go to her.
Honor. (in a low voice) Would you ask at what time it was he pretends I was taking the ring and all that?
Old McB. Plase your honour, would you ask the rascal what time?
Mr. Carv. Don't call him rascal, sir—no rascals in my presence. What time did you see Honor McBride behind the chapel, Pat Coxe?
Pat. As the clock struck twelve—I mind—by the same token the workmen's bell rang as usual! that same time, just as I seen Mr. Randal there putting the ring on her finger, and I said, "There's the bell ringing for a wedding," says I.
Mr. Carv. To whom did you say that, sir?
Pat. To myself, plase your honour—I'll tell you the truth.
Honor. Truth! That time the clock struck twelve and the bell rang, I was happily here in this house, sir.
Honor. If I might take the liberty to call one could do me justice.
Mr. Carv. No liberty in justice—speak out.
Honor. If I might trouble Mrs. Carver herself?
Mr. Carv. Mrs. Carver will think it no trouble (rising with dignity) to do justice, for she has been the wife to one of his majesty's justices of the peace for many years.
[Sends a servant for Mrs. CARVER.
Mr. Carv. Mrs. Carver, my dear, I must summon you to appear in open court, at the suit or prayer of Honor McBride.
Enter Mrs. CARVER, who is followed by Miss BLOOMSBURY, on tiptoe.
Mrs. Carv. Willingly.
Mr. Carv. The case lies in a nutshell, my dear: there is a man who swears that Honor McBride was behind the chapel, with Randal Rooney putting a ring on her finger, when the clock struck twelve, and our workmen's bell rang this morning. Honor avers she was at Bob's Fort with you: now as she could not be, like a bird, in two places at once—was she with you?
Mrs. Carv. Honor McBride was with me when the workmen's bell rang, and when the clock struck twelve, this day—she stayed with me till two o'clock.
[All the ROONIES, except CATTY, exclaim—
Oh, no going beyond the lady's word!
Mrs. Carv. And I think it but justice to add, that Honor McBride has this day given me such proofs of her being a good girl, a good daughter, and a good sister, that she has secured my good opinion and good wishes for life.
Mr. Carv. And mine in consequence.
Bloom. And mine of course. [HONOR curtsies.
[Old McBRIDE bows very low to Mr. CARVER, and again to Mrs. CARVER. PHIL bows to Mr. and Mrs. CARVER, and to Miss BLOOMSBURY.
Old McB. Where are you now, Catty?—and you, Pat, ye unfortinate liar?
Pat. (falling on his knees) On me knees I am. Oh, I am an unfortinate liar, and I beg your honour's pardon this once.
Mr. Carv. A most abandoned liar, I pronounce you.
Pat. Oh! I hope your honour won't abandon me, for I didn't know Miss Honor was under her ladyship, Mrs. Carver's favour and purtection, or I'd sooner ha' cut my tongue out clane—and I expict your honour won't turn your hack on me quite, for this is the first lies I ever was found out in since my creation; and how could I help, when it was by my master's particular desire?
Mr. Carv. Your master! honest Gerald O'Blaney!
Catty. O'Blaney!—save us! (Lifting up her hands and eyes.)
Mr. Carv. Take care, Pat Coxe.
Pat. Mr. O'Blaney, ma'am—plase your honour—all truth now—the counshillor, that same and no other, as I've breath in my body—for why should I tell a lie now, when I've no place in my eye, and not a ha'porth to get by it? I'll confess all. It was by my master's orders that I should set you, Mrs. Rooney, and your pride up, ma'am, again' making up with them McBrides. I'll tell the truth now, plase your honour—that was the cause of the lies I mentioned about the ring and chapel—I'll tell more, if you'll bind Mr. Randal to keep the pace.
Randal. I?—ye dirty dog!—Didn't I tell ye already, I'd not dirty my fingers with the likes of you?
Pat. All Mr. Gerald O'Blaney's aim was to ruin Mr. Randal Rooney, and set him by the ears with that gentleman, Mr. Philip McBride, the brother, and they to come to blows and outrage, and then be in disgrace committed by his honour.
Randal. (turning to HONOR McBRIDE) Honor, you saved all—your brother and I never lifted our hands against one another, thanks be to Heaven and you, dearest!
Catty. And was there no truth in the story of the chapel and the ring?
Pat. Not a word of truth, but lies, Mrs. Rooney, dear ma'am, of the master's putting into my mouth out of his own head.
[CATTY ROONEY walks firmly and deliberately across the room to HONOR McBRIDE.
Catty. Honor McBride, I was wrong; and here, publicly, as I traduced you, I ax your pardon before his honour, and your father, and your brother, and before Randal, and before my faction and his.
[Both ROONIES and McBRIDES all, excepting Old McBRIDE, clap their hands, and huzza.
Mr. Carv. I ought to reprove this acclamation—but this once I let it pass.
Phil. Father, you said nothing—what do you say, sir?
Old McB. (never moving) I say nothing at all. I never doubted Honor, and knew the truth must appear—that's all I say.
Honor. Oh! father dear—more you will say (shaking his stick gently). Look up at me, and remember the promise you gave me, when Catty should be rasonable—and is not she rasonable now?
Old McB. I did not hear a word from her about the bog of Ballynascraw.
Catty. Is it the pitiful bit?—No more about it! Make crame cheeses of it—what care I? 'Twas only for pride I stood out—not that I'm thinking of now!
Old McB. Well, then, miracles will never cease! here's one in your favour, Honor; so take her, Randal, fortune and all—a wife of five hundred.
Randal. (kneeling) Oh! happiest of men I am this minute.
Catty. I the same, if she had not a pinny in the world.
Mr. Carv. Happiest of men!—Don't kneel or go in to ecstasies now, I beg, till I know the rationale of this. Was not I consulted?—did not I give my opinion and advice in favour of another?
Old McB. You was—you did, plase your honour, and I beg your honour's pardon, and Mr. Counsellor O'Blaney's.
Mr. Carv. And did not you give your consent?—I must think him a very ill-used person.
Old McB. I gave my consint only in case he could win hers, plase your honour, and he could not—and I could not break my own daughter's heart, and I beg your honour's pardon.
Mr. Carv. I don't know how that may be, sir, but I gave my approbation to the match; and I really am not accustomed to have my advice or opinion neglected or controverted. Yet, on the other hand—
Enter a Footman with a note, which he gives to Mr. CARVER.
Old McB. (aside to PHIL) Say something for me, Phil, can't ye?—I hav'n't a word.
Mr. Carv. (rising with a quicker motion than usual) Bless me! bless me!—here is a revolution! and a counter revolution!—Here's news will make you all in as great astonishment as I own I am.
Old McB. What is it?
Randal. I'm made for life—I don't care what comes.
Honor. Nor I: so it is not to touch you, I'm happy.
Catty. Oh! your honour, spake quick, this time—I beg pardon!
Mr. Carv. Then I have to confess that for once I have been deceived and mistaken in my judgment of a man; and what is more, of a man's circumstances completely—O'Blaney.
Old McB. What of his circumstances, oh! sir, in the name of mercy?
Mr. Carv. Bankrupt, at this instant all under seizure to the supervisor. Mr. Gerald O'Blaney has fled the country.
Old McB. Then, Honor, you are without a penny; for all her fortune, 500l., was in his hands.
Randal. Then I'm as happy to have her without a penny—happier I am to prove my love pure.
Catty. God bless you for my own son! That's our way of thinking, Mr. McBride—you see it was not for the fortune.
Honor. Oh! Phil, didn't I tell you her heart was right?
Catty. We will work hard—cheer up, McBrides. Now the Roonies and McBrides has joined, you'll see we'll defy the world and O'Blaney, the chate of chates.
Honor. Randal's own mother!
Catty. Ay, now, we are all one family—now pull together. Don't be cast down, Phil dear. I'll never call you flourishing Phil again, so don't be standing on pride. Suppose your shister has not a pinny, she's better than the best, and I'll love her and fold her to my ould warm heart, and the daughter of my heart she is now.
Honor. Oh, mother!—for you are my mother now—and happy I am to have a mother in you.
Mr. Carv. I protest it makes me almost—almost—blow my nose.
Catty. Why, then, you're a good cratur. But who tould you I was a vixen, dear—plase your honour?
Mr. Carv. Your friend that is gone.
Randal. Frind! He never was frind to none—least of all to hisself.
Catty. Oh! the double-distilled villain!—he tould your honour I was a vixen, and fond of law. Now would you believe what I'm going to till you? he tould me of his honour—
Mr. Carv. Of me, his patron?
Catty. Of you, his patron, sir. He tould me your honour—which is a slander, as we all here can witness, can't we? by his honour's contempt of Pat Coxe—yet O'Blaney said you was as fond and proud of having informers about you as a rat-catcher is of rats.
Mr. Carv. Mistress Catherine Rooney, and all you good people,—there is a great deal of difference between obtaining information and encouraging common informers.
Catty. There is, I'm sinsible. (Aside to her son) Then he's a good magistrate—except a little pompous, mighty good. (Aloud to Mr. CARVER) Then I beg your honour's pardon for my bad behaviour, and bad language and all. 'Twas O'Blaney's fau't—but he's down, and don't trample on the fallen.
Old McB. Don't defind O'Blaney! Oh! the villain, to rob me of all my hard arnings. Mrs. Catty, I thank you as much as a heavy heart can, for you're ginerous; and you, Randal, for your—
Randal. Is it for loving her, when I can't help it?—who could?
Old McB. (sighing deeply) But still it goes against the father's heart to see his child, his pride, go pinnyless out of his house.
Phil. Then, sir, father dear, I have to tell you she is not pennyless.—But I would not tell you before, that Randal, and Catty too, might show themselves what they are. Honor is not pennyless: the three hundred you gave me to lodge with O'Blaney is safe here. (Opening his pocket-book.)—When I was going to him with it as you ordered, by great luck, I was stopped by this very quarrel and riot in Ballynavogue:—he was the original cause of kicking up the riot, and was summoned before your honour,—and here's the money.
Old McB. Oh, she's not pinnyless! Well, I never saw money with so much pleasure, in all my long days, nor could I think I'd ever live to give it away with half so much satisfaction as this minute. I here give it, Honor, to Randal Rooney and you:—and bless ye, child, with the man of your choice, who is mine now.
Mrs. Carv. (aside to Mr. CARVER) My dear, I wish to invite all these good people to a wedding dinner; but really I am afraid I shall blunder in saying their names—will you prompt me?
Mr. Carv. (aside to Mrs. CARVER) Why really I am not used to be a prompter; however, I will condescend to prompt you, Mrs. Carver. (He prompts, while she speaks.)
Mrs. Carv. Mr. Big Briny of Cloon, Mr. Ulick of Eliogarty, Mr. Charley of Killaspugbrone, and you, Mrs. Catty Rooney, and you, Mr. McBride, senior, and you, Mr. Philip McBride, no longer flourishing Phil; since you are now all reconciled, let me have the pleasure of giving you a reconciliation dinner, at the wedding of Honor McBride, who is an honour to her family, and Randal Rooney, who so well deserves her love.
The McBRIDES and ROONIES join in the cry of Long life and great luck to your ladyship, that was always good!
Mr. Carv. And you comprehend that I beg that the wedding may be celebrated at Bob's Fort.
All join in crying, Long may your honour's honour reign over us in glory at Bob's Fort!
Catty. (cracking her fingers) A fig for the bog of Ballynascraw!—Now 'tis all Love and no Law!
THE ROSE, THISTLE,
IN THREE ACTS.
SIR WILLIAM HAMDEN . . . An Elderly English Gentleman.
CHRISTY GALLAGHER . . . . Landlord of an Irish village inn.
MR. ANDREW HOPE . . . . . A Drum-major in a Scotch regiment.
OWEN LARKEN . . . . . . . The Son of the Widow Larken —a Boy of about fifteen.
GILBERT . . . . . . . . . An English Servant of Sir William Hamden.
MISS O'HARA . . . . . . . A young Heiress—Niece of Sir William Hamden.
MISS FLORINDA GALLAGHER . Daughter of Christy Gallagher.
THE WIDOW LARKEN . . . . Mother of Owen and of Mabel.
MABEL LARKEN . . . . . . Daughter of the Widow Larken.
BIDDY DOYLE . . . . . . . Maid of the Inn.
Band of a Regiment.
SCENE.—The Village of Bannow, in Ireland.
A Dressing-Room in Bannow-Castle, in Ireland.
Enter Sir WILLIAM HAMDEN, in his morning-gown.
Sir W. Every thing precisely in order, even in Ireland!—laid, I do believe, at the very same angle at which they used to be placed on my own dressing-table, at Hamden-place, in Kent. Exact Gilbert! most punctual of valet de chambres!—and a young fellow, as he is, too! It is admirable!—Ay, though he looks as if he were made of wood, and moves like an automaton, he has a warm heart, and a true English spirit—true-born English every inch of him. I remember him, when first I saw him ten years ago at his father's, Farmer Ashfield's, at the harvest-home; there was Gilbert in all his glory, seated on the top of a hay-rick, singing,
"Then sing in praise of men of Kent, So loyal, brave, and free; Of Britain's race, if one surpass, A man of Kent is he!"
How he brought himself to quit the men of Kent to come to Ireland with me is wonderful. However, now he is here, I hope he is tolerably happy: I must ask the question in direct terms; for Gilbert would never speak till spoken to, let him feel what he might.
Sir W. (calls) Gilbert!—Gilbert!
Gilb. Here, sir.
Sir W. Gilbert, now you have been in Ireland some weeks, I hope you are not unhappy.
Gilb. No, sir, thank you, sir.
Sir W. But are you happy, man?
Gilb. Yes, sir, thank you, sir.
[GILBERT retires, and seems busy arranging his master's clothes: Sir WILLIAM continues dressing.
Sir W. (aside) Yes, sir, thank you, sir. As dry as a chip—sparing of his words, as if they were his last. And the fellow can talk if he would—has humour, too, if one could get it out; and eloquence, could I but touch the right string, the heartstring. I'll try again. (Aloud) Gilbert!
Gilb. Yes, sir. (Comes forward respectfully.)
Sir W. Pray what regiment was it that was passing yesterday through the village of Bannow?
Gilb. I do not know, indeed, sir.
Sir W. That is to say, you saw they were Highlanders, and that was enough for you—you are not fond of the Scotch, Gilbert?
Gilb. No, sir, I can't say as I be.
Sir W. But, Gilbert, for my sake you must conquer this prejudice. I have many Scotch friends whom I shall go to visit one of these days—excellent friends they are!
Gilb. Are they, sir? If so be you found them so, I will do my best, I'm sure.
Sir W. Then pray go down to the inn here, and inquire if any of the Scotch officers are there.
Gilb. I will, sir. I heard say the officers went off this morning.
Sir W. Then you need not go to inquire for them.
Gilb. No, sir. Only as I heard say, the drum-major and band is to stay a few days in Bannow, on account of their wanting to enlist a new bugle-boy. I was a thinking, if so be, sir, you thought well of it, on account you like these Scotch, I'd better to step down, and see how the men be as to being comfortable.
Sir W. That's right, do. Pray, have they tolerable accommodations at the inn in this village?
Gilb. (smiling) I can't say much for that, sir.
Sir W. (aside) Now I shall set him going. (Aloud) What, the inn here is not like one of our English inns on the Bath road?
Gilb. (suppressing a laugh) Bath road! Bless you, sir, it's no more like an inn on the Bath road, nor on any road, cross or by-road whatsomdever, as ever I seed in England. No more like—no more like than nothing at all, sir!
Sir W. What sort of a place is it, then?
Gilb. Why, sir, I'd be ashamed almost to tell you. Why, sir, I never seed such a place to call an inn, in all my born days afore. First and foremost, sir, there's the pig is in and out of the kitchen all day long, and next the calf has what they call the run of the kitchen; so what with them brute beasts, and the poultry that has no coop, and is always under one's feet, or over one's head, the kitchen is no place for a Christian, even to eat his bread and cheese in.
Sir W. Well, so much for the kitchen. But the parlour—they have a parlour, I suppose?
Gilb. Yes, sir, they have a parlour as they may call it, if they think proper, sir. But then again, an honest English farmer would be afeard on his life to stay in it, on account of the ceiling just a coming down a' top of his head. And if he should go up stairs, sir, why that's as bad again, and worse; for the half of them there stairs is rotten, and ever so many pulled down and burnt.
Sir W. Burnt!—the stairs?
Gilb. Burnt, sir, as sure as I'm standing here!—burnt, sir, for fuel one scarce year, as they says, sir. Moreover, when a man does get up the stairs, sir, why he is as bad off again, and worse; for the floor of the place they calls the bedchamber, shakes at every step, as if it was a coming down with one; and the walls has all cracks, from top to toe—and there's rat-holes, or holes o' some sort or t'other, all in the floor: so that if a man don't pick his steps curiously, his leg must go down through the ceiling below. And moreover, there's holes over head through the roof, sir; so that if it rains, it can't but pour on the bed. They tell me, they used for to shift the bed from one place to another, to find, as they say, the dry corner; but now the floor is grown so crazy, they dare not stir the bed for their lives.
Sir W. Worse and worse!
Gilb. And moreover, they have it now in the worst place in the whole room, sir. Close at the head of the bed, there is a window with every pane broke, and some out entirely, and the women's petticoats and the men's hats just stuck in to stop all for the night, as they say, sir.
[GILBERT tries to stifle his laughter.
Sir W. Laugh out, honest Gilbert. In spite of your gravity and your civility, laugh. There is no harm, but sometimes a great deal of good done by laughing, especially in Ireland. Laughing has mended, or caused to be mended, many things that never would have been mended otherwise.
Gilb. (recovering his gravity) That's true, I dare to say, sir.
Sir W. Now, Gilbert, if you were to keep an inn, it would be a very different sort of inn from what you have been describing—would not it?
Gilb. I hope so, sir.
Sir W. I remember when we were talking of establishing you in England, that your father told me you would like to set up an inn.
Gilb. (his face brightening) For sartin, sir, 'tis the thing in the whole world I should like the best, and be the proudest on, if so be it was in my power, and if so be, sir, you could spare me. (Holding his master's coat for him to put on.)
Sir W. Could. spare you, Gilbert!—I will spare you, whether I can conveniently or not. If I had an opportunity of establishing advantageously a man who has served me faithfully for ten years, do you think I would not put myself to a little inconvenience to do it?—Gilbert, you do not know Sir William Hamden.
Gilb. Thank you, sir, but I do—and I should be main sorry to leave you, that's sartin, if it was even to be landlord of the best inn in all England—I know I should.
Sir W. I believe it.—But, stay—let us understand one another—I am not talking of England, and perhaps you are not thinking of Ireland.
Gilb. Yes, sir, but I am.
Sir W. You are! I am heartily glad to hear it, for then I can serve you directly. This young heiress, my niece, to whom this town belongs, has a new inn ready built.
Gilb. I know, sir.
Sir W. Then, Gilbert, write a proposal for this inn, if you wish for it, and I will speak to my niece.
Gilb. (bowing) I thank you, sir—only I hope I shall not stand in any honest man's light. As to a dishonest man, I can't say I value standing in his light, being that he has no right to have any, as I can see.
Sir W. So, Gilbert, you will settle in Ireland at last? I am heartily glad to see you have overcome your prejudices against this country. How has this been brought about?
Gilb. Why, sir, the thing was, I didn't know nothing about it, and there was a many lies told backwards and forwards of Ireland, by a many that ought to have known better.
Sir W. And now that you have seen with your own eyes, you are happily convinced that in Ireland the men are not all savages.
Gilb. No, sir, no ways savage, except in the article of some of them going bare-footed; but the men is good men, most of them.
Sir W. And the women? You find that they have not wings on their shoulders.
Gilb. No, sir. (Smiling) And I'm glad they have not got wings, else they might fly away from us, which I'd be sorry for—some of them.
[After making this speech, GILBERT steps back, and brushes his master's hat diligently.
Sir W. (aside) Ha! is that the case? Now I understand it all. 'Tis fair, that Cupid, who blinds so many, should open the eyes of some of his votaries. (Aloud.) When you set up as landlord in your new inn, Gilbert, (Gilbert comes forward) you will want a landlady, shall not you?
Gilb. (falls back, and answers) I shall, sir, I suppose.
Sir W. Miss—what's her name? the daughter of the landlord of the present inn. Miss—what's her name?
Gilb. (answers without coming forward) Miss Gallagher, sir.
Sir W. Miss Gallagher?—A very ugly name!—I think it would be charity to change it, Gilbert.
Gilb. (bashfully) It would, no doubt, sir.
Sir W. She is a very pretty girl.
Gilb. She is, sir, no doubt.
[Cleaning the brush with his hand, bows, and is retiring.
Sir W. Gilbert, stay, (GILBERT returns.) I say, Gilbert, I took particular notice of this Miss Gallagher, as she was speaking to you last Sunday. I thought she seemed to smile upon you, Gilbert.
Gilb. (very bashfully) I can't say, indeed, sir.
Sir W. I don't mean, my good Gilbert, to press you to say any thing that you don't choose to say. It was not from idle curiosity that I asked any questions, but from a sincere desire to serve you in whatever way you like best, Gilbert.
Gilb. Oh, dear master! I can't speak, you are so good to me, and always was—too good!—so I say nothing. Only I'm not ungrateful—I know I'm not ungrateful, that I am not! And as to the rest, there's not a thought I have, you'd condescend for to know, but you should know it as soon as my mother—that's to say, as soon as ever I knowed it myself. But, sir, the thing is this, since you're so good to let me speak to you, sir—
Sir W. Speak on, pray, my good fellow.
Gilb. Then, sir, the thing is this. There's one girl, they say, has set her thoughts upon me: now I don't like she, because why? I loves another; but I should not choose to say so, on account of its not being over and above civil, and on account of my not knowing yet for sartin whether or not the girl I loves loves me, being I never yet could bring myself to ask her the question. I'd rather not mention her name neither, till I be more at a sartinty. But since you be so kind, sir, if you be so good to give me till this evening, sir, as I have now, with the hopes of the new inn, an independency to offer her, I will take courage, and I shall have her answer soon, sir—and I will let you know with many thanks, sir, whether—whether my heart's broke or not.
[Exit GILBERT hastily.
Sir W. (alone) Good, affectionate creature! But who would have thought that out of that piece of wood a lover could be made? This is Cupid's delight!
[Exit Sir WILLIAM.
Parlour of the Inn at Bannow.
Miss FLORINDA GALLAGHER, sola.
Various articles of dress on the floor—a looking-glass propped up on a chest—Miss GALLAGHER is kneeling before the glass, dressing her long hair, which hangs over her shoulders.
Miss G. I don't know what's come to this glass, that it is not flattering at all the day. The spots and cracks in it is making me look so full of freckles and crow's feet—and my hair, too, that's such a figure, as straight and as stiff and as stubborn as a presbyterian. See! it won't curl for me: so it is in the papillotes it must be; and that's most genteel.
[Sound of a drum at a distance—Miss GALLAGHER starts up and listens.
Miss G. Hark till I hear! Is not that a drum I hear? Ay, I had always a quick ear for the drum from my cradle. And there's the whole band—but it's only at the turn of the avenue. It's on parade they are. So I'll be dressed and dacent before they are here, I'll engage. And it's my plaid scarf I'll throw over all, iligant for the Highlanders, and I don't doubt but the drum-major will be conquist to it at my feet afore night—and what will Mr. Gilbert say to that? And what matter what he says?—I'm not bound to him, especially as he never popped me the question, being so preposterously bashful, as them Englishmen have the misfortune to be. But that's not my fault any way. And if I happen to find a more shutable match, while he's turning the words in his mouth, who's to blame me?—My father, suppose!—And what matter?—Have not I two hundred pounds of my own, down on the nail, if the worst come to the worst, and why need I be a slave to any man, father or other?—But he'll kill himself soon with the whiskey, poor man, at the rate he's going. Two glasses now for his mornings, and his mornings are going on all day. There he is, roaring. (Mr. GALLAGHER heard singing.) You can't come in here, sir.
[She bolts the door.
Enter CHRISTY GALLAGHER, kicking the door open.
Christy. Can't I, dear? what will hinder me?—Give me the kay of the spirits, if you plase.
Miss G. Oh, sir! see how you are walking through all my things.
Christy. And they on the floor!—where else should I walk, but on the floor, pray, Miss Gallagher?—Is it, like a fly, on the ceiling you'd have me be, walking with my head upside down, to plase you?
Miss G. Indeed, sir, whatever way you're walking, it's with your head upside down, as any body may notice, and that don't plase me at all—isn't it a shame, in a morning?
Christy. Phoo! don't be talking of shame, you that knows nothing about it. But lend me the kay of the spirits, Florry.
Miss G. Sir, my name's Florinda—and I've not the kay of the spirits at all, nor any such vulgar thing.
Christy. Vulgar! is it the kay?
Miss G. Yes, sir, it's very vulgar to be keeping of kays.
Christy. That's lucky, for I've lost all mine now. Every single kay I have in the wide world now I lost, barring this kay of the spirits, and that must be gone after the rest too I b'lieve, since you know nothing of it, unless it be in this here chist.
[CHRISTY goes to the chest.
Miss G. Oh, mercy, sir!—Take care of the looking-glass, which is broke already. Oh, then, father, 'tis not in the chist, 'pon my word and honour now, if you'll b'lieve: so don't be rummaging of all my things.
[CHRISTY persists in opening the chest.
Christy. It don't signify, Florry; I've granted myself a gineral sarch-warrant; dear, for the kay; and, by the blessing, I'll go clane to the bottom o' this chist. (Miss GALLAGHER writhes in agony.) Why, what makes you stand twisting there like an eel or an ape, child?—What, in the name of the ould one, is it you're afeard on?—Was the chist full now of love-letter scrawls from the grand signior or the pope himself, you could not be more tinder of them.
Miss G. Tinder, sir!—to be sure, when it's my best bonnet I'm thinking on, which you are mashing entirely.
Christy. Never fear, dear! I won't mash an atom of the bonnet, provided always, you'll mash these apples for me, jewel. (He takes apples out of the chest.) And wasn't I lucky to find them in it? Oh, I knew I'd not sarch this chist for nothing. See how they'll make an iligant apple-pie for Mr. Gilbert now, who loves an iligant apple-pie above all things—your iligant self always excipted, dear.
[Miss GALLAGHER makes a slight curtsy, but motions the apples from her.
Miss G. Give the apples then to the girl, sir, and she'll make you the pie, for I suppose she knows how.
Christy. And don't you, then, Florry?
Miss G. And how should I, sir?—You didn't send me to the dancing-school of Ferrinafad to larn me to make apple-pies, I conclude.
Christy. Troth, Florry, 'twas not I sint you there, sorrow foot but your mother; only she's in her grave, and it's bad to be talking ill of the dead any way. But be that how it will, Mr. Gilbert must get the apple-pie, for rasons of my own that need not be mintioned. So, Biddy! Biddy, girl! Biddy Doyle!
Enter BIDDY, running, with a ladle in her hand.
Christy. Drop whatever you have in your hand, and come here, and be hanged to you! And had you no ears to your head, Biddy?
Biddy. Sure I have, sir—ears enough. Only they are bothering me so without, that pig and the dog fighting, that I could not hear ye calling at-all-at-all. What is it?—For I'm skimming the pot, and can't lave it.
[Miss GALLAGHER goes on dressing
Christy. It's only these apples, see!—You'll make me an apple-pie, Biddy, smart.
Biddy. Save us, sir!—And how will I ever get time, when I've the hash to make for them Scotch yet? Nor can I tell, for the life of me, what it was I did with the onions and scallions neither, barring by great luck they'd be in and under the press here—(running to look under the press)—which they are, praised be God! in the far corner.
[BIDDY stretches her arm under the press.
Christy. There's a nice girl, and a 'cute cliver girl, worth a dozen of your Ferrinafads.
[BIDDY throws the onions out from under the press, while he speaks.
Miss G. Then she's as idle a girl as treads the earth, in or out of shoe-leather, for there's my bed that she has not made yet, and the stairs with a month's dust always; and never ready by any chance to do a pin's worth for one, when one's dressing.
[A drum heard; the sound seems to be approaching near.
Christy. Blood! the last rowl of the drum, and I not got the kay of the spirits.
Miss G. Oh, saints above! what's gone with my plaid scarf?—and my hair behind, see!
[Miss GALLAGHER twists up her hair behind.—BIDDY gathers up the onions into her apron, and exit hastily.—CHRISTY runs about the room in a distracted manner, looking under and over every thing, repeating—The kay! the kay! the kay!
Christy. For the whiskey must be had for them Scotch, and the bottled beer too for them English; and how will I get all or any without the kay? Bones, and distraction!
Miss G. And my plain hanke'cher that must be had, and where will I find it, in the name of all the damons, in this chaos you've made me out of the chist, father? And how will I git all in again, before the drum-major's in it?
Christy. (sweeping up a heap of things in his arms, and throwing them into the chest) Very asy, sure! this ways.
Miss G. (darting forward) There's the plaid hanke'cher.—(She draws it out from the heap under her father's arm, and smooths it on her knee.) But, oh! father, how you are making hay of my things!
Christy. Then I wish I could make hay of them, for hay is much wanting for the horses that's in it.
Miss G. (putting on her plaid scarf) Weary on these pins! that I can't stick any way at all, my hands all trimble so.—Biddy! Biddy! Biddy! Biddy, can't ye?—(Re-enter BIDDY, looking bewildered.) Just pin me behind, girl—smart.
Christy. Biddy is it?—Biddy, girl, come over and help me tramp down this hay.
[CHRISTY jumps into the chest.
Miss G. Oh, Biddy, run and stop him, for the love of God! with his brogues and big feet.
Biddy. Oh, marcy! that's too bad, sir; get out o' that if you plase, or Miss Florry will go mad, sure! and the major that's coming up the street—Oh, sir, if you plase, in the name of mercy!
Christy. (jumping out) Why, then, sittle it all yourself, Biddy, and success to you; but you'll no more get all in again afore Christmas, to the best of my opinion, no more, see! than you'd get bottled porter, froth and all, into the bottle again, once it was out.
Miss G. Such comparisons!—(tossing back her head.)
Christy. And caparisons!—(pointing to the finery on the floor.) But in the middle of it all, lend me the poker, which will answer for the master-kay, sure!—that poker that is houlding up the window—can't ye, Biddy?
[BIDDY runs and pulls the poker hastily from under the sash, which suddenly falls, and every pane of glass falls out and breaks.
Christy. Murder! and no glazier!
Miss G. Then Biddy, of all girls, alive or dead, you're the awk'ardest, vulgarest, unluckiest to touch any thing at all!
Biddy. (picking up the glass) I can't think what's come to the glass, that makes it break so asy the day! Sure I done it a hundred times the same, and it never broke wid me afore.
Christy. Well! stick up a petticoat, or something of the kind, and any way lend me hould of the poker; for, in lieu of a kay, that's the only frind in need.
[Exit CHRISTY with the poker.
Miss G. There, Biddy, that will do—any how.—Just shut down the lid, can't ye? and find me my other shoe. Biddy—then, lave that,—come out o' that, do girl, and see the bed!—run there, turn it up just any way;—and Biddy, run here,—stick me this tortise comb in the back of my head—oh! (screams and starts away from BIDDY.) You ran it fairly into my brain, you did! you're the grossest! heavy handiest!—fit only to wait on Sheelah na Ghirah, or the like.—(Turns away from BIDDY with an air of utter contempt.) But I'll go and resave the major properly.—(Turns back as she is going, and says to BIDDY) Biddy, settle all here, can't ye?—Turn up the bed, and sweep the glass and dust in the dust corner, for it's here I'm bringing him to dinner,—so settle up all in a minute, do you mind me, Biddy! for your life!
[Exit Miss GALLAGHER.
BIDDY, alone—(speaking while she puts the things in the room in order.)
Settle up all in a minute!—asy said!—and for my life too!—Why, then, there's not a greater slave than myself in all Connaught, or the three kingdoms—from the time I get up in the morning, and that's afore the flight of night, till I get to my bed again at night, and that's never afore one in the morning! But I wouldn't value all one pin's pint, if it was kind and civil she was to me. But after I strive, and strive to the utmost, and beyand—(sighs deeply) and when I found the innions, and took the apple-pie off her hands, and settled her behind, and all to the best of my poor ability for her, after, to go and call me Sheelah na Ghirah! though I don't rightly know who that Sheelah na Ghirah was from Adam—but still it's the bad language I get, goes to my heart. Oh, if it had but plased Heaven to have cast me my lot in the sarvice of a raal jantleman or lady instead of the likes of these! Now, I'd rather be a dog in his honour's or her honour's house than lie under the tongue, of Miss Gallagher, as I do—to say nothing of ould Christy.
Miss GALLAGHER'S voice heard, calling,
Biddy! Biddy Doyle! Biddy, can't ye?
Biddy. Here, miss, in the room, readying it, I am.
CHRISTY GALLAGHER'S voice heard calling,
Biddy!—Biddy Doyle!—Biddy, girl! What's come o' that girl, that always out o' the way idling, when wanted?—Plague take her!
Biddy. Saints above! hear him now!—But I scorn to answer.
Screaming louder in mingled voices, CHRISTY'S and Miss GALLAGHER'S,
Biddy! Biddy Doyle!—Biddy, girl!
Christy. (putting in his head) Biddy! sorrow take ye! are ye in it?—And you are, and we cracking our vitals calling you. What is it you're dallying here for? Stir! stir! dinner!
[He draws back his head, and exit.
Coming then!—Sure it's making up the room I am with all speed, and the bed not made after all!—(Throws up the press-bed.)—But to live in this here house, girl or boy, one had need have the lives of nine cats and the legs of forty.
The Kitchen of the Inn.
Miss FLORINDA GALLAGHER and CHRISTY GALLAGHER.
Boys and Men belonging to the Band, in the back Scene.
Christy. (to the band) The girl's coming as fast as possible to get yees your dinners, jantlemen, and sorrow better dinner than she'll give you: you'll get all instantly—(To Miss GALLAGHER) And am not I telling you, Florry, that the drum-major did not come in yet at all, but went out through the town, to see and get a billet and bed for the sick man they've got.
Enter BIDDY, stops and listens.
Miss G. I wonder the major didn't have the manners to step in, and spake to the lady first—was he an Irishman, he would.
Biddy. Then it's my wonder he wouldn't step in to take his dinner first—was he an Englishman, he would. But it's lucky for me and for him he didn't, becaase he couldn't, for it won't be ready this three-quarters of an hour—only the Scotch broth, which boiled over.
[BIDDY retires, and goes on cooking.—CHRISTY fills out a glass of spirits to each of the band.
Miss G. Since the major's not in it, I'll not be staying here—for here's only riff-raff triangle and gridiron boys, and a black-a-moor, and that I never could stand; so I'll back into the room. Show the major up, do you mind, father, as soon as ever he'd come.
Christy. Jantlemen all! here's the king's health, and confusion worse confounded to his enemies, for yees; or if ye like it better, here's the plaid tartan and fillibeg for yees, and that's a comprehensive toast—will give ye an appetite for your dinners.
[They drink in silence.
Miss G. Did ye hear me, father?
Christy. Ay, ay.—Off with ye!
[Exit Miss GALLAGHER, tossing back her head.—CHRISTY pours out a glass of whiskey for himself, and with appropriate graces of the elbow and little finger, swallows it, making faces of delight.
Christy. Biddy! Biddy, girl, ye!—See the pig putting in his nose—keep him out—can't ye?
Biddy. Hurrush! hurrush! (Shaking her apron.) Then that pig's as sinsible as any Christian, for he'd run away the minute he'd see me.
Christy. That's manners o' the pig.—Put down a power more turf, Biddy:—see the jantlemen's gathering round the fire, and has a right to be could in their knees this St. Patrick's day in the morning—for it's March, that comes in like a lion.
[The band during this speech appear to be speaking to BIDDY.—She comes forward to CHRISTY.
Christy. What is it they are whispering and conjuring, Biddy?
Biddy. 'Twas only axing me, they were, could they all get beds the night in it.
Christy. Beds! ay can yees, and for a dozen more—only the room above is tinder in the joists, and I would not choose to put more on the floor than two beds, and one shake-down, which will answer for five; for it's a folly to talk,—I'll tell you the truth, and not a word of lie. Wouldn't it be idle to put more of yees in the room than it could hold, and to have the floor be coming through the parlour ceiling, and so spoil two good rooms for one night's bad rest, jantlemen?—Well, Biddy, what is it they're saying?
Biddy. They say they don't understand—can they have beds or not?
Christy. Why, body and bones! No, then, since nothing else will they comprehend,—no,—only five, say,—five can sleep in it.
[The band divide into two parties,—Five remain, and the others walk off in silence.
Biddy. And it's into the room you'd best walk up, had not yees, five jantlemen, that sleep?
[The five walk into the parlour—CHRISTY preparing to follow, carrying whiskey bottle and, jug—turns back, and says to BIDDY,
Is it dumb they are all? or innocents?
Biddy. Not at all innocents, no more than myself nor yourself. Nor dumb neither, only that the Scotch tongue can't spake English as we do.
Christy. Oh! if that's all, after dinner the whiskey punch will make 'em spake, I'll engage.
Biddy. 'Tis I that am glad they've taken themselves away, for there's no cooking with all the men in the fire.
Enter Mr. ANDREW HOPE, Drum-major.
Mr. H. A gude day to you, my gude lassy.
Biddy. The same to you, sir, and kindly. I beg your pardon for not knowing—would it be the drum-major, sir?
Mr. H. No offence, my gude lass; I am Andrew Hope, and drum-major. I met some of my men in the street coming down, and they told me they could not have beds here.
Biddy. No, sir, plase your honour, only five that's in the room yonder: if you'd be plased to walk up, and you'll get your dinner immediately, your honour, as fast as can be dished, your honour.
Mr. H. No hurry, my gude lass. But I would willingly see the beds for my poor fellows, that has had a sair march.
Biddy. Why then, if your honour would take a fool's advice, you'd not be looking at them beds, to be spoiling your dinner—since, good or bad, all the looking at 'em in the wide world won't mend 'em one feather, sure.
Mr. H. My gude girl, that's true. Still I'd like ever to face the worst.
Biddy. Then it's up that ladder you'll go.
Mr. H. No stairs?
Biddy. Oh, there are stairs—but they are burnt and coming down, and you'll find the ladder safest and best; only mind the little holes in the floor, if you plase, your honour.
[Mr. HOPE ascends the ladder while she speaks, and goes into the bedchamber above.
Well, I'm ashamed of my life, when a stranger and foreigner's reviewing our house, though I'm only the girl in it, and no ways answerable. It frets me for my country forenent them Scotch and English. (Mr. HOPE descends the ladder.) Then I'm sorry it's not better for your honour's self, and men. But there's a new inn to be opened the 25th, in this town; and if you return this way, I hope things will be more agreeable and proper. But you'll have no bad dinner, your honour, any way;—there's Scotch broth, and Scotch hash, and fried eggs and bacon, and a turkey, and a boiled leg of mutton and turnips, and pratees the best, and well boiled; and I hope, your honour, that's enough for a soldier's dinner, that's not nice.
Mr. H. Enough for a soldier's dinner! ay, gude truth, my lass; and more than enough for Andrew Hope, who is no ways nice. But, tell me, have you no one to help you here, to dress all this?
Biddy. Sorrow one, to do a hand's turn for me but myself, plase your honour; for the daughter of the house is too fine to put her hand to any thing in life: but she's in the room there within, beyond, if you would like to see her—a fine lady she is!
Mr. H. A fine lady, is she? Weel, fine or coarse, I shall like to see her,—and weel I may and must, for I had a brother once I luved as my life; and four years back that brother fell sick here, on his road to the north, and was kindly tended here at the inn at Bannow; and he charged me, puir lad, on his death-bed, if ever fate should quarter me in Bannow, to inquire for his gude friends at the inn, and to return them his thanks; and so I'm fain to do, and will not sleep till I've done so.—But tell me first, my kind lassy,—for I see you are a kind lassy,—tell me, has not this house had a change of fortune, and fallen to decay of late? for the inn at Bannow was pictured to me as a bra' neat place.
Biddy. Ah! that was, may-be, the time the Larkens had it?
Mr. H. The Larkens!—that was the very name: it warms my heart to hear the sound of it.
Biddy. Ay, and quite another sort of an inn this was, I hear talk, in their time,—and quite another guess sort, the Larkens from these Gallaghers.
Mr. H. And what has become of the Larkens, I pray?
Biddy. They are still living up yonder, by the bush of Bannow, in a snug little place of a cabin—that is, the Widow Kelly.
Mr. H. Kelly!—but I am looking for Larken.
Biddy. Oh, Larken! that's Kelly: 'tis all one—she was a Kelly before she was married, and in this country we stick to the maiden's name throughout.
Mr. H. The same in our country—often.
Biddy. Indeed! and her daughter's name is Mabel, after the Kellys; for you might have noticed, if it ever happened your honour to hear it, an ould song of Mabel Kelly—Planxty Kelly. Then the present Mabel is as sweet a cratur as ever the ould Mabel Kelly was—but I must mind the pratees. (She goes to lift a pot off the fire.)
Mr. H. Hold! my gude girl, let me do that for you; mine is a strong haund.
Biddy. I thank your honour,—it's too much trouble entirely for a jantleman like you; but it's always the best jantleman has the laste pride.—Then them Kellys is a good race, ould and young, and I love 'em, root and branch. Besides Mabel the daughter, there's Owen the son, and as good a son he is—no better! He got an edication in the beginning, till the troubles came across his family, and the boy, the child, for it's bare fifteen he is this minute, give up all his hopes and prospects, the cratur! to come home and slave for his mother.
Mr. H. Ah, that's weel—that's weel! I luve the lad that makes a gude son.—And is the father deed?
Biddy. Ay, dead and deceased he is, long since, and was buried just upon that time that ould Sir Cormac, father of the young heiress that is now at the castle above, the former landlord that was over us, died, see!—Then there was new times and new takes, and the widow was turned out of the inn, and these Gallaghers got it, and all wint wrong and to rack; for Mrs. Gallagher, that was, drank herself into her grave unknownst, for it was by herself in private she took it; and Christy Gallagher, the present man, is doing the same, only publicly, and running through all, and the house is tumbling over our ears: but he hopes to get the new inn; and if he does, why, he'll be lucky—and that's all I know, for the dinner is done now, and I'm going in with it—and won't your honour walk up to the room now?
Mr. H. (going to the ladder) Up here?
Biddy. Oh, it's not up at all, your honour, sure! but down here—through this ways.
Mr. H. One word more, my gude lassy. As soon as we shall have all dined, and you shall have ta'en your ane dinner, I shall beg of you, if you be not then too much tired, to show me the way to that bush of Bannow, whereat this Widow Larken's cottage is.
Biddy. With all the pleasure in life, if I had not a fut to stand upon.
[Exit Mr. HOPE.—BIDDY follows with a dish smoking hot.
Biddy. And I hope you'll find it an iligant Scotch hash, and there's innions plinty—sure the best I had I'd give you; for I'm confident now he's the true thing—and tho' he is Scotch, he desarves to be Irish, every inch of him.
[Exit BIDDY DOYLE.
An Irish Cabin.—The Kitchen.
Widow LARKEN. On one side of her, MABEL at needle-work; on the other side, OWEN her son enters, bringing in a spinning-wheel, which he places before his mother.
Owen. There, mother, is your wheel mended for you.
Mabel. Oh, as good as new, Owen has made it for you.
Widow. Well, whatever troubles come upon me in this world, have not I a right to be thankful, that has such good childer left me?—Still it grieves me, and goes to the quick of my heart, Mabel, dear, that your brother here should be slaving for me, a boy that is qualified for better.
Owen. And what better can I be than working for my mother—man or boy?
Mabel. And if he thinks it no slavery, what slavery is it, mother?
Owen. Mother, to-day is the day to propose for the new inn—I saw several with the schoolmaster, who was as busy as a bee, penning proposals for them, according as they dictated, and framing letters and petitions for Sir William Hamden and Miss O'Hara. Will you go up to the castle and speak, mother?
Widow. No, no—I can't speak, Owen.
Owen. Here's the pen and ink-horn, and I'll sit me down, if you'd sooner write than speak.
Widow. See, Owen, to settle your mind, I would not wish to get that inn.
Owen. Not wish to get it! The new inn, mother—but if you had gone over it, as I have. 'Tis the very thing for you. Neat and compact as a nutshell; not one of them grand inns, too great or the place, that never answers no more than the hat that's too big for the head, and that always blows off.
Widow. No, dear, not the thing for me, now a widow, and your sister Mabel—tho' 'tis not for me to say—such a likely, fine girl. I'd not be happy to have her in a public-house—so many of all sorts that would be in it, and drinking, may be, at fairs and funerals, and no man of the house, nor master, nor father for her.
Owen. Sure, mother, I'm next to a father for her. Amn't I a brother? and no brother ever loved a sister better, or was more jealous of respect for her; and if you'd be pleasing, I could be man and master enough.
Widow. (laughing) You, ye dear slip of a boy!
Owen. (proudly, and raising his head high) Slip of a boy as I am, then, and little as you think of me—
Widow. Oh! I think a great deal of you! only I can't think you big nor old, Owen, can I?
Owen. No—nor any need to be big or old, to keep people of all sorts in respect, mother.
Widow. Then he looked like his father—did not he, Mabel?
Mabel. He did—God bless him!
Owen. Now hear me, mother, for I'm going to speak sense. You need not listen, Mabel.
Mabel. But it's what I like to listen to sense, especially yours, Owen.
Owen. Then I can't help it.—You must hear, even if you blush for it.
Mabel. Why would I blush?
Owen. Because you won't be able to help it, when I say Mr. Gilbert.—See!
Mabel. Oh, dear Owen! that's not fair. (She falls back a little.)
Owen. Well, mother, it's with you I'm reasoning. If he was your son-in-law—
Widow. Hush! that he'll never be. Now, Owen, I'll grow angry if you put nonsense in the girl's head.
Owen. But if it's in the man's head, it's not a bit nonsense.
Mabel. Owen, you might well say I shouldn't listen to you.
Widow. There now, you've drove your sister off.
Owen. Well, Gilbert will bring her on again, may be.
Widow. May be—but that may be of yours might lead us all wrong.
[She lays her hand on OWEN'S arm, and speaks in a serious tone.
Widow. Now, dear, don't be saying one word more to her, lest it should end in a disappointment.
Owen. Still it is my notion, 'tis Mabel he loves.
Widow. Oh! what should you know, dear, o' the matter?
Owen. Only having eyes and ears like another.
Widow. Then what hinders him to speak?
Owen. It's bashfulness only, mother. Don't you know what that is?
Widow. I do, dear. It's a woman should know that best. And it is not Mabel, nor a daughter of mine, nor a sister of yours, Owen, should be more forward to understand than the man is to speak—was the man a prince.
Owen. Mother, you are right; but I'm not wrong neither. And since I'm to say no more, I'm gone, mother.
Widow. (alone) Now who could blame that boy, whatever he does or says? It's all heart he is, and wouldn't hurt a fly, except from want of thought. But, stay now, I'm thinking of them soldiers that is in town. (Sighs) Then I didn't sleep since ever they come; but whenever I'd be sinking to rest, starting, and fancying I heard the drum for Owen to go. (A deep groaning sigh.) Och! and then the apparition of Owen in regimentals was afore me!
Enter OWEN, dancing and singing,
"Success to my brains, and success to my tongue! Success to myself, that never was wrong!"
Widow. What is it? What ails the boy? Are ye mad, Owen?
Owen. (capering, and snapping his fingers) Ay, mad! mad with joy I am. And it's joy I give you, and joy you'll give me, mother darling. The new inn's yours, and no other's, and Gilbert is your own too, and no other's—but Mabel's for life. And is not there joy enough for you, mother?
Widow. Joy!—Oh, too much! (She sinks on a seat.)
Owen. I've been too sudden for her!
Widow. No, dear—not a bit, only just give me time—to feel it. And is it true? And am I in no dream now? And where's Mabel, dear?
Owen. Gone to the well, and Gilbert with her. We met her, and he turned off with her, and I come on to tell you, mother dear.
Widow. Make me clear and certain; for I'm slow and weak, dear. Who told you all this good? and is it true?—And my child Mabel mavourneen!—Oh, tell me again it's true.
Owen. True as life. But your lips is pale still, and you all in a tremble. So lean on me, mother dear, and come out into God's open air, till I see your spirit come back—and here's your bonnet, and we'll meet Mabel and Gilbert, and we'll all go up to the castle to give thanks to the lady.
Widow. (looking up to heaven) Thanks! Oh, hav'n't I great reason to be thankful, if ever widow had!
[Exeunt, WIDOW leaning on OWEN.
An Apartment in Bannote Castle.
Footmen bringing in Baskets of Flowers.
Miss O'HARA and Sir WILLIAM HAMDEN.
Clara. Now, my dear uncle, I want to consult you.
Sir W. And welcome, my child. But if it is about flowers, you could not consult a worse person, for I scarcely know a rose from a ——. What is this you have here—a thistle?
Clara. Yes, sir; and that is the very thing I want your opinion about.
Sir W. Well, my dear, all I know about thistles, I think, is, that asses love thistles—will that do?
Clara. Oh, no, sir—pray be serious, for I am in the greatest hurry to settle how it is all to be. You know it is St. Patrick's day.
Sir W. Yes, and here is plenty of shamrock, I see.
Clara. Yes, here is the shamrock—the rose, the ever blowing rose—and the thistle. And as we are to have Scotch, English, and Irish at our little fete champetre this evening, don't you think it would be pretty to have the tents hung with the rose, thistle, and shamrock joined?
Sir W. Very pretty, my dear: and I am glad there are to be tents, otherwise a fete champetre in the month of March would give me the rheumatism even to think of.
Clara. Oh, my dear sir, not at all. You will be snug and warm in the green-house.
Sir W. Well, Clara, dispose of me as you please—I am entirely at your service for the rest of my days.
Clara. Thank you, sir—you are the best of uncles, guardians, and friends.
[Miss O'HARA goes back and appears to be giving directions to the servants.
Sir W. Uncle, nature made me—guardian, your father made me—friend, you made me yourself, Clara. (Sir WILLIAM comes forward, and speaks as if in a reverie.) And ever more my friendship for her shall continue, though my guardianship is over. I am glad I conquered my indolence, and came to Ireland with her; for a cool English head will be wanting to guide that warm Irish heart.—And here I stand counsel for prudence against generosity!
Clara. (advancing to him playfully) A silver penny for your thoughts, uncle.
Sir W. Shall I never teach you economy?—such extravagance! to give a penny, and a silver penny, for what you may have for nothing.
Clara. Nothing can come of nothing—speak again.
Sir W. I was thinking of you, my—ward no longer.
Clara. Ward always, pray, sir. Whatever I may be in the eye of the law, I am not arrived at years of discretion yet, in my own opinion, nor in yours, I suspect. So I pray you, uncle, let me still have the advantage of your counsel and guidance.
Sir W. You ask for my advice, Clara. Now let me see whether you will take it.
Clara. I am all attention.
Sir W. You know you must allow me a little prosing. You are an heiress, Clara—a rich heiress—an Irish heiress. You desire to do good, don't you?
Clara. (with eagerness) With all my heart!—With all my soul!
Sir W. That is not enough, Clara. You must not only desire to do good, you must know how to do it.
Clara. Since you, uncle, know that so well, you will teach it to me.
Sir W. Dear, flattering girl—but you shall not flatter me out of the piece of advice I have ready for you. Promise me two things.
Clara. And first, for your first.
Sir W. Finish whatever you begin.—Good beginnings, it is said, make good endings, but great beginnings often make little endings, or, in this country, no endings at all. Finis coronat opta—and that crown is wanting wherever I turn my eyes. Of the hundred magnificent things your munificent father began—
Clara. (interrupting) Oh, sir, spare my father!—I promise you that I will finish whatever I begin. What's your next command?
Sir W. Promise me that you will never make a promise to a tenant, nor any agreement about business, but in writing—and empower me to say that you will never keep any verbal promise about business—then, none such will ever be claimed.
Clara. I promise you—Stay!—this is a promise about business: I must give it to you in writing.
[Miss O'HARA sits down to a writing-table, and writes.
Sir W. (looking out of the window) I hope I have been early enough in giving this my second piece of advice, worth a hundred sequins—for I see the yard is crowded with gray-coated suitors, and the table here is already covered with letters and petitions.
Clara. Yes, uncle, but I have not read half of them yet.
[Presents the written promise to Sir WILLIAM.
Sir W. Thank you, my dear; and you will be thankful to me for this when I am dead and gone.
Clara. And whilst you are alive and here, if you please, uncle. Now, sir, since you are so kind to say that your time is at my disposal, will you have the goodness to come with me to these gray-coated suitors, and let us give answers to these poor petitioners, who, "as in duty bound, will ever pray."
[Takes up a bundle of papers.
Sir W. (taking a letter from his pocket) First, my dear niece, I must add to the number. I have a little business. A petition to present from a protege of mine.
Clara. A protege of yours!—Then it is granted, whatever it be.
Sir W. (smiling) Recollect your promise, Clara.
Clara. Oh, true—it must be in writing.
[She goes hastily to the writing-table, and takes up a pen.
Sir W. Read before you write, my dear—I insist upon it.
Clara. Oh, sir, when it is a request of yours, how can I grant it soon enough? But it shall be done in the way you like best—slowly—deliberately—(opening the letter)—in minuet time. And I will look before I leap—and I'll read before I write. (She reads the signature.) Gilbert! Honest Gilbert, how glad I shall be to do any thing for you, independently of your master! (Reads on, suddenly lets the letter drop, and clasps her hands.) Sir—Uncle, my dear uncle, how unfortunate I am! Why did, not you ask me an hour ago?—Within this hour I have promised the new inn to another person.
Sir W. Indeed!—that is unfortunate. My poor Gilbert will be sadly disappointed.
Clara. How vexed I am! But I never should have thought of Gilbert for the inn: I fancied he disliked Ireland so much that he would never have settled here.
Sir W. So thought I till this morning. But love, my dear—love is lord of all. Poor Gilbert!
Clara. Poor Gilbert!—I am so sorry I did not know this sooner. Of all people, I should for my own part have preferred Gilbert for the inn, he would have kept it so well.
Sir W. He would so. (Sighs.)
Clara. I do so blame myself—I have been so precipitate, so foolish, so wrong—without consulting you even.
Sir W. Nay, my dear, I have been as wrong, as foolish, as precipitate as you; for before I consulted you, I told Gilbert that I could almost promise that he should have the inn in consequence of my recommendation. And upon the strength of that almost he is gone a courting. My dear, we are both a couple of fools; but I am an old—you are a young one. There is a wide difference—let that comfort you.
Clara. Oh, sir, nothing comforts me, I am so provoked with myself; and you will be so provoked with me, when I tell you how silly I have been.
Sir W. Pray tell me.
Clara. Would you believe that I have literally given it for a song? A man sent me this morning a copy of verses to the heiress of Bannow. The verses struck my fancy—I suppose because they flattered me; and with the verses came a petition setting forth claims, and a tenant's right, and fair promises, and a proposal for the new inn; and at the bottom of the paper I rashly wrote these words—"The poet's petition is granted."
Sir W. A promise in writing, too!—My dear Clara, I cannot flatter you—this certainly is not a wise transaction. So, to reward a poet, you made him an innkeeper. Well, I have known wiser heads, to reward a poet, make him an exciseman.
Clara. But, sir, I am not quite so silly as they were, for I did not make the poet an innkeeper—he is one already.
Sir W. An innkeeper already!—Whom do you mean?
Clara. A man with a strange name—or a name that will sound strange to your English ears—Christy Gallagher.
Sir W. A rogue and a drunken dog, I understand: but he is a poet, and knows how to flatter the heiress of Bannow.
Clara. (striking her forehead) Silly, silly Clara!
Sir W. (changing his tone from irony to kindness) Come, my dear Clara, I will not torment you any more. You deserve to have done a great deal of mischief by your precipitation; but I believe this time you have done little or none, at least none that is irremediable; and you have made Gilbert happy, I hope and believe, though without intending it.
Clara. My dear uncle—you set my heart at ease—but explain.
Sir W. Then, my dear, I shrewdly suspect that the daughter of this Christy What-do-you-call-him is the lady of Gilbert's thoughts.
Clara. I see it all in an instant. That's delightful! We can pension off the drunken old father, and Gilbert and the daughter will keep the inn. Gilbert is in the green-house, preparing the coloured lamps—let us go and speak to him this minute, and settle it all.
Sir W. Speak to him of his loves? Oh, my dear, you'd kill him on the spot! He is so bashful, he'd blush to death.
Clara. Well, sir, do you go alone, and I will keep far, far aloof.
[Exeunt at opposite sides.
Parlour of the Inn.
CHRISTY and Miss GALLAGHER.
Christy. (to Miss GALLAGHER, slapping her on her back) Hould up your head, child; there's money bid for you.
Miss G. Lord, father, what a thump on the back to salute one with. Well, sir, and if money is bid for me, no wonder: I suppose, it's because I have money.
Christy. That's all the rason—you've hit it, Florry. It's money that love always looks for now. So you may be proud to larn the news I have for you, which will fix Mr. Gilbert, your bachelor, for life, I'll engage—and make him speak out, you'll see, afore night-fall. We have the new inn, dear!—I've got the promise here under her own hand-writing.
Miss G. Indeed!—Well, I'm sure I shall be glad to get out of this hole, which is not fit for a rat or a Christian to live in—and I'll have my music and my piano in the back parlour, genteel.
Christy. Oh! Ferrinafad, are you there? It's your husband must go to that expinse, my precious, if he chooses, twingling and tweedling, instead of the puddings and apple pies—that you'll settle betwix yees; and in the honeymoon, no doubt, you've cunning enough to compass that, and more.
Miss G. To be sure, sir, and before I come to the honeymoon, I promise you; for I won't become part or parcel of any man that ever wore a head, except he's music in his soul enough to allow me my piano in the back parlour.
Christy. Asy! asy! Ferrinafad—don't be talking about the piano-forte, till you are married. Don't be showing the halter too soon to the shy horse—it's with the sieve of oats you'll catch him; and his head once in the sieve, you have the halter on him clane. Pray, after all, tell me, Florry, the truth—did Mr. Gilbert ever ax you?
Miss G. La, sir, what a coarse question. His eyes have said as much a million of times.
Christy. That's good—but not in law, dear. For, see, you could not shue a man in the four courts for a breach of promise made only with the eyes, jewel. It must be with the tongue afore witness, mind, or under the hand, sale, or mark—look to that.
Miss G. But, dear sir, Mr. Gilbert is so tongue-tied with that English bashfulness.
Christy. Then Irish impudence must cut the string of that tongue, Florry. Lave that to me, unless you'd rather yourself.
Miss G. Lord, sir—what a rout about one man, when, if I please, I might have a dozen lovers.
Christy. Be the same more or less. But one rich bachelor's worth a dozen poor, that is, for the article of a husband.
Miss G. And I dare say the drum-major is rich enough, sir—for all Scotchmen, they say, is fond of money and aconomie; and I'd rather after all be the lady of a military man. (Sings.)
"I'll live no more at home, But I'll follow with the drum, And I'll be the captain's lady, oh!"
Christy. Florry! Florry! mind you would not fall between two stools, and nobody to pity you.
Miss G. Well, what is it?
Biddy. The bed. I was seeing was the room empty, that I might make it; for it's only turned up it is, when I was called off to send in dinner. So I believe I'd best make it now, for the room will be wanting for the tea-drinking, and what not.
Miss G. Ay, make the bed do, sure it's asy, and no more about it;—you've talked enough about it to make twinty beds, one harder nor the other,—if talk would do. (BIDDY goes to make the bed.) And I'm sure there's not a girl in the parish does less in the day, for all the talk you keep. Now I'll just tell all you didn't do, that you ought this day, Biddy.
[While Miss GALLAGHER is speaking to BIDDY, Mr. GALLAGHER opens a press, pours out, and swallows a dram.
Christy. Oh, that would be too long telling, Florry, and that'll keep cool. Lave her now, and you may take your scould out another time. I want to spake to you. What's this I wanted to say? My memory's confusing itself. Oh, this was it—I didn't till you how I got this promise of the inn: I did it nately—I got it for a song.
Miss G. You're joking,—and I believe, sir, you're not over and above sober. There's a terrible strong smell of the whiskey.
Christy. No, the whiskey's not strong, dear, at-all-at-all!—You may keep smelling what way you plase, but I'm as sober as a judge, still,—and, drunk or sober, always knows and knewed on which side my bread was buttered:—got it for a song, I tell you—a bit of a complimentary, adulatory scroll, that the young lady fancied—and she, slap-dash, Lord love her, and keep her always so! writes at the bottom, granted the poet's petition.
Miss G. And where on earth, then, did you get that song?
Christy. Where but in my brains should I get it? I could do that much any way, I suppose, though it was not my luck to be edicated at Ferrinafad.
[Miss GALLAGHER looks back, and sees BIDDY behind her.—Miss GALLAGHER gives her a box on the ear.
Miss G. Manners! that's to teach ye.
Biddy. Manners!—Where would I larn them—when I was only waiting the right time to ax you what I'd do for a clane pillow-case?
Miss G. Why, turn that you have inside out, and no more about it.
Christy. And turn yourself out of this, if you plase. (He turns BIDDY out by the shoulders.) Let me hear you singing Baltiorum in the kitchen, for security that you're not hearing my sacrets. There, she's singing it now, and we're snug;—tell me when she stops, and I'll stop myself.
Miss G. Then there's the girl has ceased singing. There's somebody's come in, into the kitchen; may be it's the drum-major. I'll go and see.
[Exit Miss GALLAGHER.
There she's off now! And I must after her, else she'll spoil her market, and my own. But look ye, now—if I shouldn't find her agreeable to marry this Mr. Gilbert, the man I've laid out for her, why here's a good stick that will bring her to rason in the last resort; for there's no other way of rasoning with Ferrinafad.
The Garden of the Widow LARKEN'S Cottage.
OWEN and MABEL.
Owen. How does my mother bear the disappointment, Mabel about the inn?
Mabel. Then to outward appearance she did not take it so much to heart as I expected she would. But I'm sure she frets inwardly—because she had been in such hopes, and in such spirits, and so proud to think how well her children would all be settled.
Owen. Oh, how sorry I am I told her in that hurry the good news I heard, and all to disappoint her afterwards, and break her heart with it!
Mabel. No, she has too good a heart to break for the likes. She'll hold up again after the first disappointment—she'll struggle on for our sakes, Owen.
Owen. She will: but Mabel dearest, what do you think of Gilbert?
Mabel. (turning away) I strive not to think of him at all.
Owen. But sure I was not wrong there—he told me as much as that he loved you.
Mabel. Then he never told me that much.
Owen. No! What, not when he walked with you to the well?
Mabel. No. What made you think he did?
Owen. Why, the words he said about you when he met me, was—where's your sister Mabel? Gone to the well, Gilbert, says I. And do you think a man that has a question to ask her might make bold to step after her? says he. Such a man as you—why not? says I. Then he stood still, and twirled a rose he held in his hand, and he said nothing, and I no more, till he stooped down, and from the grass where we stood pulled a sprig of clover. Is not this what you call shamrock? says he. It is, says I. Then he puts the shamrock along with the rose—How would that do? says he.
Mabel. Did he say that, Owen?
Owen. Yes, or how would they look together? or, would they do together? or some words that way; I can't be particular to the word—you know, he speaks different from us; but that surely was the sense; and I minded too, he blushed up to the roots, and I pitied him, and answered—
Mabel. Oh, what did you answer?
Owen. I answered and said, I thought they'd do very well together; and that it was good when the Irish shamrock and the English rose was united.
Mabel. (hiding her face with her hands) Oh, Owen, that was too plain.
Owen. Plain! Not at all—it was not. It's only your tenderness makes you feel it too plain—for, listen to me, Mabel. (Taking her hand from her face.) Sure, if it had any meaning particular, it's as strong for Miss Gallagher as for any body else.
Mabel. That's true:—and may be it was that way he took it,—and may be it was her he was thinking of—
Owen. When he asked me for you? But I'll not mislead you—I'll say nothing; for it was a shame he did not speak out, after all the encouragement he got from me.
Mabel. Then did he get encouragement from you?
Owen. That is—(smiling)—taking it the other way, he might understand it so, if he had any conscience. Come now, Mabel, when he went to the well, what did he say to you? for I am sure he said something.
Mabel. Then he said nothing—but just put the rose and shamrock into my hand.
Owen. Oh! did he?—And what did you say?
Mabel. I said nothing.—What could I say?
Omen. I wish I'd been with you, Mabel.
Mabel. I'm glad you were not, Owen.
Owen. Well, what did he say next?
Mabel. I tell you he said nothing, but cleared his throat and hemmed, as he does often.
Owen. What, all the way to the well and back, nothing but hem, and clear his throat?
Mabel. Nothing in life.
Owen. Why, then, the man's a fool or a rogue.
Mabel. Oh, don't say that, any way. But there's my mother coming in from the field. How weak she walks! I must go in to bear her company spinning.
Owen. And I'll be in by the time I've settled all here.
Oh! I know how keenly Mabel feels all, tho' she speaks so mild. Then I'm cut to the heart by this behaviour of Gilbert's:—sure he could not be so cruel to be jesting with her!—he's an Englishman, and may be he thinks no harm to jilt an Irishwoman. But I'll show him—but then if he never asked her the question, how can we say any thing?—Oh! the thing is, he's a snug man, and money's at the bottom of all,—and since Christy's to have the new inn, and Miss Gallagher has the money!—Well, it's all over, and I don't know what will become of me.
Enter Mr. ANDREW HOPE.
Mr. H. My gude lad, may your name be Larken?
Owen. It is, sir—Owen Larken, at your service—the son of the widow Larken.
Mrs. H. Then I have to thank your family for their goodness to my puir brother, years ago. And for yourself, your friend, Mr. Christy Gallagher, has been telling me you can play the bugle?
Owen. I can, sir.
Mr. H. And we want a bugle, and the pay's fifteen guineas; and I'd sooner give it to you than three others that has applied, if you'll list.
Owen. Fifteen guineas! Oh! if I could send that money home to my mother! but I must ask her consint. Sir, she lives convanient, just in this cabin here—would you be pleased to step in with me, and I'll ask her consint.
Mr. H. That's right,—lead on, my douce lad—you ken the way.
Kitchen of the Widow LAKKEN'S Cottage.
A Door is seen open, into an inner Room.
MABEL, alone, (Sitting near the door of the inner room, spinning and singing.)
[Footnote 1: This song is set to music by Mr. Webbe.]
Sleep, mother, sleep! in slumber blest, It joys my heart to see thee rest. Unfelt in sleep thy load of sorrow; Breathe free and thoughtless of to-morrow; And long, and light, thy slumbers last, In happy dreams forget the past. Sleep, mother, sleep! thy slumber's blest; It joys my heart to see thee rest.
Many's the night she wak'd for me, To nurse my helpless infancy: While cradled on her patient arm, She hush'd me with a mother's charm. Sleep, mother, sleep! thy slumber's blest; It joys my heart to see thee rest.
And be it mine to soothe thy age, With tender care thy grief assuage, This hope is left to poorest poor, And richest child can do no more. Sleep, mother, sleep! thy slumber's blest; It joys my heart to see thee rest.
While MABEL is singing the second stanza, OWEN and ANDREW HOPE enter. Mr. HOPE stops short, and listens: he makes a sign to OWEN to stand still, and not to interrupt MABEL—while OWEN approaches her on tiptoe.
Mr. H. (aside) She taks my fancy back to dear Scotland, to my ain hame, and my ain mither, and my ain Kate.
Owen. So Mabel! I thought you never sung for strangers?
[MABEL turns and sees Mr. HOPE—She rises and curtsies.
Mr. H. (advancing softly) I fear to disturb the mother, whose slumbers are so blest, and I'd fain hear that lullaby again. If the voice stop, the mother may miss it, and wake.
Mabel. (looking into the room in which her mother sleeps, then closing the door gently) No, sir,—she'll not miss my voice now, I thank you—she is quite sound asleep.
Owen. This is Mr. Andrew Hope, Mabel—you might remember one of his name, a Serjeant Hope.
Mabel. Ah! I mind—he that was sick with us, some time back.
Mr. H. Ay, my brother that's dead, and that your gude mither was so tender of, when sick, charged me to thank you all, and so from my soul I do.
Mabel. 'Twas little my poor mother could do, nor any of us for him, even then, though we could do more then than we could now, and I'm glad he chanced to be with us in our better days.
Mr. H. And I'm sorry you ever fell upon worse days, for you deserve the best; and will have such again, I trust. All I can say is this—that gif your brother here gangs with me, he shall find a brother's care through life fra' me.
Owen. I wouldn't doubt you; and that you know, Mabel, would be a great point, to have a friend secure in the regiment, if I thought of going.
Mabel. If!—Oh! what are you thinking of, Owen? What is it you're talking of going? (Turning towards the door of her mother's room suddenly.) Take care, but she'd wake and hear you, and she'd never sleep easy again.
Owen. And do you think so?
Mabel. Do I think so? Am not I sure of it? and you too, Owen, if you'd take time to think and feel.
Owen. Why there's no doubt but it's hard, when the mother has reared the son, for him to quit her as soon as he can go alone; but it is what I was thinking: it is only the militia, you know, and I'd not be going out of the three kingdoms ever at all; and I could be sending money home to my mother, like Johnny Reel did to his.
Mabel. Money is it? Then there's no money you could send her—not the full of Lough Erne itself, in golden guineas, could make her amends for the loss of yourself, Owen, and you know that.
Mr. H. And I am not the man that would entice you to list, or gang with me, in contradiction to your duty at home, or your interest abroad: so (turning to MABEL) do not look on me as the tempter to evil, nor with distrust, as you do, kind sister as you are, and like my own Kate; but hear me coolly, and without prejudice, for it is his gude I wish.
Mabel. I am listening then, and I ask your pardon if I looked a doubt.
Mr. H. The gude mother must wish, above all things here below, the weal and advancement and the honour of her bairns; and she would not let the son be tied to her apron-strings, for any use or profit to herself, but ever wish him to do the best in life for his sel'. Is not this truth, gude friends—plain truth?
Mabel. It is then—I own that: truth and sense too.
Owen. Now see there, Mabel.
Mr. H. And better for him to do something abroad than digging at home; and in the army he might get on,—and here's the bugle-boy's pay.
Mabel. Is it a bugle-boy you are thinking of making him?
Mr. H. That's the only thing I could make him. I wish I could offer better.
Mabel. Then, I thank you, sir, and I wouldn't doubt ye—and it would be very well for a common boy that could only dig; but my brother's no common boy, sir.
Owen. Oh, Mabel!
Mabel. Hush, Owen! for it's the truth I'm telling, and if to your face I can't help it. You may hide the face, but I won't hide the truth.
Mr. H. Then speak on, my warm-hearted lassy, speak on.
Mabel. Then, sir, he got an edication while ever my poor father lived, and no better scholar, they said, for the teaching he got:—but all was given over when the father died, and the troubles came, and Owen, as he ought, give himself up intirely for my mother, to help her, a widow. But it's not digging and slaving he is to be always:—it's with the head, as my father used to say, he'll make more than the hands; and we hope to get a clerk's place for him sometime, or there will be a schoolmaster wanting in this town, and that will be what he would be fit for; and not—but it's not civil, before you, a soldier, sir, to say the rest.
Mr. H. Fear not, you will not give offence.
Mabel. And not to be spending his breath blowing through a horn all his days, for the sake of wearing a fine red coat. I beg your pardon again, sir, if I say too much—but it's to save my brother and my mother.
Mr. H. I like you the better for all you've said for both.
Owen. And I'm off entirely:—I'll not list, I thank you, sir.
[MABEL clasps her hands joyfully, then embraces her brother.
Mr. H. And I'll not ask you to list—and I would not have asked it at all, but that a friend of yours told me it would be the greatest service I could do you, and that it was the thing of all others you wished.
Owen. That friend was Christy Gallagher: but he was mistaken—that's all.
Mabel. I hope that's all. But I've no dependance on him for a friend, nor has my mother.
Owen. Why, he was saying to me, and I could not say against it, that he had a right to propose for the inn if he could, though Gilbert and we wanted to get it.
Mabel. Then I wonder why Christy should be preferred rather than my mother.
Owen. Then that's a wonder—and I can't understand how that was.
Mr. H. I have one more thing to say, or to do, which I should like better, if you'll give me leave. If there's a difficulty aboot the rent of this new inn that you are talking of, I have a little spare money, and you're welcome to it:—I consider it as a debt of my brother's, which I am bound to pay; so no obligation in life—tell me how much will do.
[Takes out his purse.
Owen and Mabel. You are very kind—you are very good.
Mr. H. No, I am not—I am only just. Say only how much will do.
Owen. Alas! money won't do now, sir. It's all settled, and Christy says he has a promise of it in writing from the lady.
Mr. H. May be this Christy might sell his interest, and we will see—I will not say till I find I can do. Fare ye weel till we meet, as I hope we shall, at the dance that's to be at the castle. The band is to be there, and I with them, and I shall hope for this lassy's hand in the dance.
Mabel. (aside) And Gilbert that never asked me! (Aloud) I thank you kindly, sir, I sha'n't go to the dance at-all-at-all, I believe—my mother had better take her rest, and I must stay with her—a good night to you kindly.
[Exit MABEL into her mother's room.
Mr. H. This sister of yours would leave me no heart to carry back to Scotland, I fear, but that I'm a married man already, and have my own luve—a Kate of my own, that's as fair as she, and as gude, and that's saying much.
Owen. (aside) Much more than Florinda Gallagher will like to hear.
Mr. H. I shall thank you if you will teach me, for my Kate, the words of that song your sister was singing when we came in.
Owen. I believe it's to flatter me you say this, for that song is my writing.
Mr. H. Yours?
Owen. Mine, such as it is.
Mr. H. Sic a ane as you are then, I'm glad you are not to be a bugle-boy: your sister is right.
Owen. I'll teach you the words as we go along.
Mr. H. Do so;—but mind now this song-writing do not lead you to idleness. We must see to turn your edication to good account. (Aside) Oh, I will never rest till I pay my brother's debt, some way or other, to this gude family.
So this Scotchman could not list Owen. Couldn't nor wouldn't, that's what he says; and the Scotchman looked very hard at me as he spoke: moreover, I seen Mr. Gilbert and him with their two heads close together, and that's a wonder, for I know Gilbert's not nat'rally fond of any sort of Scotchman. There's something brewing:—I must have my wits about me, and see and keep sober this night, if I can, any way. From the first I suspicted Mr. Gilbert had his heart on Mabel. (BIDDY DOYLE puts her head in) Biddy Doyle! what the mischief does that head of yours do there?
Biddy. Nothing in life, sir: only just to see who was in it, along with yourself, because I thought I hard talking enough for two.
Christy. You, girl, have curiosity enough for two, and two dozen, and too much! So plase take your head and yourself out of that, and don't be overharing my private thoughts; for that was all the talking ye hard, and my thoughts can't abide listeners.
Biddy. I'm no listener—I ax your pardon, sir: I scorn to listen to your thoughts, or your words even.
Christy. That girl has set me topsy-turvy. Where was I?—Oh! this was it. Suppose even, I say, suppose this Gilbert's fancy should stick to Mabel, I might manage him, nevertheless. I've a great advantage and prerogative over this Englishman, in his having never been dipped in the Shannon. He is so under cow with bashfulness now, that I don't doubt but what in one of his confusions I could asy bring him to say Yes in the wrong place; and sooner than come to a perplexing refusal of a young lady, he might, I'll engage, be brought about to marry the girl he didn't like, in lieu of the girl he did. We shall see—but hark! I hear Ferrinafad's voice, singing, and I must join, and see how the thing's going on, or going off.
Miss GALLAGHER and GILBERT at a Tea-Table.
Gilb. (aside) Now would I give five golden guineas this minute that her father, or any mortal man, woman, or child in the varsal world, would come in and say something; for 'tis so awk'ard for I to be sitting here, and I nothing to say to she.
Miss G. (aside) When will the man pay me the compliment to speak, I wonder? Wouldn't any body think he'd no tongue in that mouth of his, screwed up, and blushing from ear to ear?
Christy. Hoo! hoo! hoo!—How's this—both of yees mute as fishes the moment I come in? Why I hard you just now, when my back was turned, singing like turtle-doves—didn't I, Florry?
Miss G. Indeed, sir, as to turtle-doves, I'm not sinsible; but Mr. Gilbert requisted of me to be favouring him with a song, which I was complying with, though I'm not used to be singing without my piano.
Christy. (aside) Sorrow take your piano! you're not come there yet.
Miss G. I wonder the drum-major isn't come yet. Does he expect tea can be keeping hot for him to the end of time? He'll have nothing but slop-dash, though he's a very genteel man. I'm partial to the military school, I own, and a High lander too is always my white-headed boy.
Gilb. (astonished) Her white-headed boy!—Now, if I was to be hanged for it, I don't know what that means.
Miss G. Now where can you have lived, Mr. Gilbert, not to know that?
Christy. (aside) By the mass, he's such a matter-o'-fact-man, I can't get round him with all my wit.
Miss G. Here's the drum-major! Scarlet's asy seen at a distance, that's one comfort!
Enter Mr. HOPE.
Mr. H. I'm late, Miss Florinda, I fear, for the tea-table; but I had a wee-wee bit of business to do for a young friend, that kept me.
Miss G. No matter, major, my tapot defies you. Take a cup a tea. Are you fond of music, major?
Mr. H. Very fond of music, ma'am—do you sing or play?
Miss G. I do play—I plead guilty to that I own. But in this hole that we are in, there's no room fitting for my piano. However, in the new inn which we have got now, I'll fix my piano iligant in the back-parlour.
Mr. H. In the mean time, Miss Florinda, will you favour us with a song?
Christy. And I'll be making the punch, for I'm no songstress. Biddy! Biddy Doyle! hot water in a jerry.
Miss G. Indeed I'm not used to sing without my piano; but, to oblige the major, I'll sing by note.