* Hugh, who, by the way, is still living, and, I am glad to hear, in improved circumstances, was formerly in the habit of making a drop of the right sort.
This was all Ned wanted: his point was now carried; but with respect to the rising of the tobacco, the less that is said about it the bettor for his veracity.
Having thus given the reader a slight sketch of Ned and Nancy, and of the beautiful valley in which this worthy speculator had his residence, I shall next proceed to introduce him to the village circle, which, during the long winter nights, might be found in front of Ned's kitchen-fire of blazing turf, whose light was given back in ruddy reflection from the bright pewter plates, that were ranged upon the white and well-scoured dresser in just and gradual order, from the small egg-plate to the large and capacious dish, whereon, at Christmas and Easter, the substantial round of corned beef used to rear itself so proudly over the more ignoble joints at the lower end of the table.
Seated in this clear-obscure of domestic light—which, after all, gives the heart a finer and more touching notion of enjoyment than the glitter of the theatre or the blaze of the saloon—might be found first, Andy Morrow,* the juryman of the quarter-sessions, sage and important in the consciousness of legal knowledge, and somewhat dictatorial withal in its application to such knotty points as arose out of the subjects of their nocturnal debates. Secondly, Bob Gott, who filled the foreign and military departments, and related the wonderful history of the ghost which appeared to him on the night after the battle of Bunker's-hill. To him succeeded Tom M'Roarkin, the little asthmatic anecdotarian of half the country,—remarkable for chuckling at his own stories. Then came old M'Kinny, poacher and horse-jockey; little, squeaking, thin-faced Alick M'Kinley, a facetious farmer of substance; and Shane Fadh, who handed down, traditions and fairy tales. Enthroned on one hob sat Pat Frayne, the schoolmaster with the short arm, who read and explained the newspaper for "old Square Colwell," and was looked upon as premier to the aforesaid cabinet; Ned himself filled the opposite seat of honor.
One night, a little before the Christmas holidays in the year 18—, the personages just described were seated around Ned's fire, some with their chirping pints of ale or porter, and others with their quantum of Hugh Traynor, or mountain-dew, and all with good humor, and a strong tendency to happiness, visible in their faces. The night was dark, close, and misty; so dark, indeed, that, as Nancy said, "you could hardly see your finger before you." Ned himself was full of fun, with a pint of porter beside him, and a pipe in his mouth, just in his glory for the night. Opposite to him was Pat Frayne, with an old newspaper on his knee, which he had just perused for the edification of his audience; beside him was, Nancy, busily employed in knitting a pair of sheep's-grey stockings for Ned; the remaining personages formed a semicircular ring about the hearth. Behind, on the kitchen-table sat Paddy Smith, the servant-man, with three or four of the gorsoons of the village about him, engaged in an under-plot of their own. On the other, a little removed from the light, sat Ned's two nieces, Biddy and Bessy Connolly, former with Atty Johnson's mouth within whisper-reach of her ear, and the latter seated close to her professed admirer, Billy Fulton, her uncle's shopman.* This group; was completely abstracted from the entertainment which was going forward in the circle round the fire.
* Each pair have been since married, and live not more happily than I wish them. Fulton still lives in Ned's house at the Cross-roads.
"I wondher," said Andy Morrow, "what makes Joe M'Crea throw down that fine ould castle of his, in Aughentain?"
"I'm tould," said M'Roarkin, "that he expects money; for they say there's a lot of it buried somewhere about the same building."
"Jist as much as there's in my wig," replied Shane Fadh, "and there's ne'er a pocket to it yet. Why, bless your sowl, how could there be money in it, whin the last man of the Grameses that owned it—I mane of the ould stock, afore it went into Lord Mountjoy's hands—sould it out, ran through the money, and died begging afther'? Did none of you ever hear of—
'—— —— —— —— Ould John Grame, That swally'd the castle of Aughentain?'"
"That was long afore my time," said the poacher; "but I know that the rabbit-burrow between that and Jack Appleden's garden will soon be run out."
"Your time!" responded Shane Fadh, with contempt; "ay, and your father's afore you: my father doesn't remimber more nor seeing his funeral, and a merry one it was; for my grandfather, and some of them that had a respect for the family and his forbarers, if they hadn't it for himself, made up as much money among them as berried him dacently any how,—ay, and gave him a rousin' wake into the bargain, with lashins of whiskey, stout beer, and ale; for in them times—God be with them every farmer brewed his own ale and beer;—more betoken, that one pint of it was worth a keg of this wash of yours, Ned."
"Wasn't it he that used to appear?" inquired M'Roarkin.
"Sure enough he did, Tom."
"Lord save us," said Nancy, "what could trouble him, I dunna?"
"Why," continued Shane Fadh, "some said one thing, and some another; but the upshot of it was this: when the last of the Grameses sould the estate, castle, and all, it seems he didn't resave all the purchase money; so, afther he had spint what he got, he applied to the purchaser for the remainder—him that the Mountjoy family bought it from; but it seems he didn't draw up writings, or sell it according to law, so that the thief o' the world baffled him from day to day, and wouldn't give him a penny—bekase he knew, the blaggard, that the Square was then as poor as a church mouse, and hadn't money enough to thry it at law with him; but the Square was always a simple asy-going man. One day he went to this fellow, riding on an ould garran, with a shoe loose—the only baste he had in the world—and axed him, for God's sake, to give him of what he owed him, if it was ever so little; 'for,' says he, 'I huve not as much money betune me and death as will get a set of shoes for my horse.'"
"'Well,' says the nager, 'if-you're not able to keep your horse shod, I would jist recommend you to sell him, and thin his shoes won't cost you any thing,' says he.
"The ould Square went away with tears in his eyes,—for he loved the poor brute, bekase they wor the two last branches of the ould stock."
"Why," inquired M'Kinley, in his small squeaking voice, "was the horse related to the family?"
"I didn't say he was related to the fam——
"Get out, you shingaun!" (* Fairy-like, or connected to the fairies) returned the old man, perceiving by the laugh that now went round, the sly tendency of the question—"no, nor to your family either, for he had nothing of the ass in him—eh? will you put that in your pocket, my little skinadhre (* A thin, fleshless, stunted person.)—ha! ha! ha!"
The laugh was now turned against M'Kinley.
Shane Fadh proceeded: "The ould Square, as I was tellin yez, cried to find himself an' the poor baste so dissolute; but when he had gone a bit from the fellow, he comes back to the vagabone—'Now,' says he, 'mind my words—if you happen to live afther me, you need never expect a night's pace; for I here make a serous an' solemn vow, that as long as my property's in your possession, or in any of your seed, breed, or gineration's, I'll never give over hauntin' you an' them, till you'll rue to the back-bone your dishonesty an' chathery to me an' this poor baste, that hasn't a shoe to his foot.'
"'Well,' says the nager, 'I'll take chance of that, any way.'"
"I'm tould, Shane," observed the poacher, "that the Square was a fine man in his time, that wouldn't put up with sich treatment from anybody."
"Ay, but he was ould now," Shane replied, "and too wakely to fight.—A fine man, Bill!—he was the finest man, 'cepting ould Square Storey, that ever was in this counthry. I hard my granfather often say that he was six feet four, and made in proportion—a handsome, black-a-vis'd man, with great dark whiskers. Well! he spent money like sklates, and so he died miserable—but had a merry birrel, as I said."
"But," inquired Nancy, "did he ever appear to the rogue that chated him?"
"Every night in the year, Nancy, exceptin' Sundays; and what was more, the horse along with him—for he used to come ridin' at midnight upon the same garran; and it was no matther what place or company the other 'ud be in, the ould Square would come reglarly, and crave him for what he owed him."
"So it appears that horses have sowls," observed M'Roarkin, philosophically, giving, at the same time, a cynical chuckle at the sarcasm contained in his own conceit.
"Whether they have sowls or bodies," replied the narrator, "what I'm tellin' you is truth; every night in the year the ould chap would come for what was indue him; find as the two went along, the noise of the loose shoe upon the horse would be hard rattlin', and seen knockin' the fire out of the stones, by the neighbors and the thief that chated him, even before the Square would appeal at all at all."
"Oh, wurrah!" exclaimed Nancy, shuddering with terror. "I wouldn't take anything and be out now on the Drumfarrar road*, and nobody with me but myself."
*A lonely mountain-road, said to have been haunted. It is on this road that the coffin scenes mentioned in the Party fight and Funeral is laid.
"I think if you wor," said M'Kinley, "the light weights and short measures would be comin' acrass your conscience."
"No, in troth, Alick, wouldn't they; but may be if you wor, the promise you broke to Sally Mitchell might trouble you a bit: at any rate, I've a prayer, and if I only repated it wanst, I mightn't be afeard of all the divils in hell."
"Throth, but it's worth havin', Nancy: where did you get it?" asked M'Kinley.
"Hould your wicked tongue, you thief of a heretic," said Nancy, laughing, "when will you larn anything that's good? I got it from one that wouldn't have it if it wasn't good—Darby M'Murt, the pilgrim, since you must know."
"Whisht!" said Frayne: "upon my word, I blieve the old Square's comin' to pay tis a visit; does any of yez hear a horse trottin' with a shoe loose?"
"I sartinly hear it," observed Andy Morrow.
"And I," said Ned himself.
There was now a general pause, and in the silence a horse, proceeding from the moors in the direction of the house, was distinctly heard; and nothing could be less problematical than that one of his shoes was loose.
"Boys, take care of yourselves," said Shane Fadh, "if the Square comes, he won't be a pleasant customer—he was a terrible fellow in his day: I'll hould goold to silver that he'll have the smell of brimstone about him."
"Nancy, where's your prayer now?" said M'Kinley, with a grin: "I think you had betther out with it, and thry if it keeps this old brimstone Square on the wrong side of the house."
"Behave yourself, Alick; it's a shame for you to be sich a hardened crathur: upon my sannies, I blieve your afeard of neither God nor the divil—the Lord purtect and guard us from the dirty baste!"
"You mane particklarly them that uses short measures and light weights," rejoined M'Kinley.
There was another pause, for the horseman was within a few perches of the crossroads. At this moment an unusual gust of wind, accompanied by torrents of rain, burst against the house with a violence that made its ribs creak; and the stranger's horse, the shoe still clanking, was distinctly heard to turn in from the road to Ned's door, where it stopped, and the next moment a loud knocking intimated the horseman's intention to enter. The company now looked at each other, as if uncertain what to do. Nancy herself grew pale, and, in the agitation of the moment, forgot to think of her protecting prayer. Biddy and Bessy Connolly started from the settle on which they had been sitting with their sweethearts, and sprung beside their uncle, on the hob. The stranger was still knocking with great violence, yet there was no disposition among the company to admit him, notwithstanding the severity of the night—blowing, as it really did, a perfect hurricane. At length a sheet of lightning flashed through the house, followed by an amazing loud clap of thunder; while, with a sudden push from without, the door gave way, and in stalked a personage Whose stature was at least six feet four, with dark eyes and complexion, and coal-black whiskers of an enormous size, the very image of the Squire they had been describing. He was dressed in a long black surtout, which him appear even taller than he actually was, had a pair of heavy boots upon and carried a tremendous whip, large enough to fell an ox. He was in a rage on entering; and the heavy, dark, close-knit-brows, from beneath which a pair of eyes, equally black, shot actual fire, whilst the Turk-like whiskers, which curled themselves up, as it were, in sympathy with his fury, joined to his towering height, gave him altogether, when we consider the frame of mind in which he found the company, an appalling and almost supernatural appearance.
"Confound you, for a knot of lazy scoundrels," exclaimed the stranger, "why do you sit here so calmly, while any being craves admittance on such a night as this? Here, you lubber in the corner, with a pipe in your mouth, come and put up this horse of mine until the night settles."
"May the blessed mother purtect us!" exclaimed Nancy, in a whisper, to Andy Morrow, "if I blieve he's a right thing!—would it be the ould Square? Did you ever set your eyes upon sich a"—
"Will you bestir yourself, you boor, and' not keep my horse and saddle out under such a torrent?" he cried, "otherwise I must only bring him into the house, and then you may say for once that you've had the devil under your roof."
"Paddy Smith, you lazy spalpeen," said Nancy, winking at Ned to have nothing to do with the horse, "why don't you fly and put up the gintleman's horse? And you, Atty, avourneen, jist go out with him, and hould the candle while he's doin' it: be quick now, and I'll give you glasses a-piece when you come in."
"Let them put him up quickly; but I say, you Caliban," added the stranger, addressing Smith, "don't be rash about him except you can bear fire and brimstone; get him, at all events, a good feed of oats. Poor Satan!" he continued, patting the horse's head, which was now within the door, "you've had a hard night of it, my poor Satan, as well as myself. That's my dark spirit—my brave chuck, that fears neither man nor devil."
This language was by no means calculated to allay the suspicions of those who were present, particularly of Nancy and her two nieces. Ned sat in astonishment, with the pipe in his hand, which he had, in the surprise of the moment, taken from his mouth, his eyes fixed upon the stranger, and his mouth open. The latter noticed him, and stretching over the heads of the circle, tapped him on the shoulder with his whip:—
"I have a few words to say to you, sir," he said.
"To me, your honor!" exclaimed Ned, without stirring, however.
"Yes," replied the other, "but you seem to be fastened to your seat: come this way."
"By all manner of manes, sir," said Ned, starting up, and going over to the dresser, against which the stranger stood.
When the latter had got him there, he very coolly walked up, and secured Ned's comfortable seat on the hob, at the same time observing—
"You hadn't the manners to ask me to sit down; but I always make it a point of conscience to take care of myself, landlord."
There was not a man about the fire who did not stand up, as if struck with a sudden recollection, and offer him a seat.
"No," said he, "thank you, my good fellows, I am very well as it is: I suppose, mistress, you are the landlady," addressing Nancy; "if you be, I'll thank you to bring me a gill of your best whiskey,—your best, mind. Let it be as strong as an evil spirit let loose, and as hot as fire; for it can't be a jot too ardent such a night as this, for a being that rides the devil."
Nancy started up instinctively, exclaiming, "Indeed, plase your honor's reverence, I am the landlady, as you say, sir, sure enough; but, the Lawk save and guard us! won't a gallon of raw whiskey be too much for one man to drink?"
"A gallon! I only said a gill, my good hostess; bring me a gill—but I forget—I believe you have no such measure in this country; bring me a pint, then."
Nancy now went into the bar, whither she gave Ned a wink to follow her; and truly was glad of an opportunity of escaping from the presence of the visitor. When there, she ejaculated—
"May the holy Mother keep and guard us, Ned, but I'm afeard that's no Christian crathur, at all at all! Arrah, Ned, aroon, would he be that ould Square Grame, that Shane Fadh, maybe, angered, by spakin' of him?"
"Troth," said Ned, "myself doesn't know what he is; he bates any mortal I ever seen."
"Well, hould agra! I have it: we'll see whether he'll drink this or not, any how."
"Why, what's that you're doin'?" asked Ned.
"Jist," replied Nancy, "mixin' the smallest taste in the world of holy wather with the whiskey, and if he drinks that, you know he can be nothing that's bad."*
* The efficacy of holy water in all Roman Catholic countries, but especially in Ireland, is supposed to be very great. It is kept in the house, or, in certain cases, about the person, as a safeguard against evil spirits, fairies, or sickness. It is also used to allay storms and quench conflagrations; and when an Irishman or Irishwoman is about to go a journey, commence labor or enter upon any other important undertaking, the person is sure to be sprinkled with holy water, under the hope that the journey or undertaking will prosper.
Nancy, however, did not perceive that the trepidation of her hand was such as to incapacitate her from making nice distinctions in the admixture. She now brought the spirits to the stranger, who no sooner took a mouthful of it, than he immediately stopped it on its passage, and fixing his eyes earnestly on herself, squirted it into the fire, and the next moment the whiskey was in a blaze that seemed likely to set the chimney in flames.
"Why, my honest hostess," he exclaimed, "do you give this to me for whiskey? Confound me, but two-thirds of it is water; and I have no notion to pay for water when I want spirits: have the goodness to exchange this, and get me some better stuff, if you have it."
He again put the jug to his mouth, and having taken a little, swallowed it:—"Why, I tell you, woman, you must have made some mistake; one-half of it is water."
Now, Nancy, from the moment he refused to swallow the liquor, had been lock-jawed; the fact was, she thought that the devil himself, or old Squire Graham, had got under her roof; and she stood behind Ned, who was nearly as terrified as herself, with her hands raised, her tongue clinging to the roof of her mouth, and the perspiration falling from her pale face in large drops. But as soon as she saw him swallow a portion of that liquid, which she deemed beyond the deglutition of ghost or devil, she instantly revived—her tongue resumed its accustomed office—her courage, as well as her good-humor, returned, and she went up to him with great confidence, saying,
"Why, then, your Reverence's honor, maybe I did make a bit of a mistake, sir"—taking up the jug, and tasting its contents: "Hut! bad scran to me, but I did, beggin' your honor's pardon; how-an-diver, I'll soon rightify that, your Reverence."
So saying, she went and brought him a pint of the stoutest the house afforded. The stranger drank a glass of it, and then ordered hot water and sugar, adding—
"My honest friends here about the fire will have no objection to help me with this; but, on second consideration, you had better get us another quart, that as the night is cold, we may have a jorum at this pleasant fire, that will do our hearts good; and this pretty girl here," addressing Biddy, who really deserved the epithet, "will sit beside me, and give us a song."
It was surprising what an effect the punch even in perspective, had upon the visual organs of the company; second-sight was rather its precursor than its attendant; for, with intuitive penetration, they now discovered various good qualities in his ghost-ship, that had hitherto been beyond their ken; and those very personal properties, which before struck them dumb with terror, already called forth their applause.
"What a fine man he is!" one would whisper, loud enough, however, to be heard by the object of his panegyric.
"He is, indeed, and a rale gintleman," another would respond in the same key.
"Hut! he's none of your proud, stingy upsthart bodagahs*—none of your beggarly half-sirs*," a third would remark: "he's the dacent thing entirely—you see he hasn't his heart in a thrifle."
* A person vulgar, but rich, without any pretensions but those of wealth to the character of a gentleman; a churl. Half-sir; the same as above.
"And so sign's on him," a fourth would add, with comic gravity, "he wasn't bred to shabbiness, as you may know by his fine behavior and his big whiskers."
When the punch was made, and the kitchen-table placed endwise towards the fire, the stranger, finding himself very comfortable, inquired if he could be accommodated with a bed and supper, to which Nancy replied in the affirmative.
"Then, in that case," said he, "I will be your guest for the night."
Shane Fadh now took courage to repeat the story of old Squire Graham and his horse with the loose shoe; informing the stranger, at the same time, of the singular likeness which he bore to the subject of the story, both in face and size, and dwelling upon the remarkable coincidence in the time and manner of his approach.
"Tut, man!" said the stranger, "a far more extraordinary adventure happened to one of my father's tenants, which, if none of you have any objection, I will relate."
There was a buzz of approbation at this; and they all thanked his honor, expressing the strongest desire to hear his story. He was just proceeding to gratify them, when another rap came to the door, and, before any of the inmates had time to open it, Father Ned Deleery and his curate made their appearance, having been on their way home from a conference held in the town of ——, eighteen miles from the scene of our present story.
It may be right here to inform the reader, that about two hundred yards from Ned's home stood a place of Roman Catholic worship, called "the Forth,"* from the resemblance it bore to the Forts or Baths, so common in Ireland. It was a small green, perfectly circular, and about twenty yards in diameter. Around it grew a row of old overspreading hawthorns, whose branches formed a canopy that almost shaded it from sun and storm. Its area was encompassed by tiers of seats, one raised above another, and covered with the flowery grass. On these the congregation used to sit—the young men chatting or ogling their sweethearts on the opposite side; the old ones in little groups, discussing the politics of the day, as retailed by Mick M'Caffry.** the politician; while, up near the altar, hemmed in by a ring of old men and women, you might perceive a voteen, repeating some new prayer or choice piece of devotion—or some other, in a similar circle, perusing, in a loud voice. Dr. Gallagher's Irish Sermons, Pastorini's History of the Christian Church, or Columbkill's Prophecy—and, perhaps, a strolling pilgrim, the centre of a third collection, singing the Dies irae, in Latin, or the Hermit of Killarney, in English.
* This very beautiful but simple place of worship does not now exist. On its site is now erected a Roman Catholic chapel.
** Mick was also a schoolmaster, and the most celebrated village politician of his day. Every Sunday found him engaged as in the text.
At the extremity of this little circle was a plain altar of wood, covered with a little thatched shed, under which the priest celebrated mass; but before the performance of this ceremony, a large multitude usually assembled opposite Ned's shop-door, at the cross-roads. This crowd consisted of such as wanted to buy tobacco, candles, soap, potash, and such other groceries as the peasantry remote from market-towns require. After mass, the public-house was filled to the door-posts, with those who wished to get a sample of Nancy's Iska-behagh* and many a time has little Father Ned himself, of a frosty day, after having performed mass with a celerity highly agreeable to his auditory, come in to Nancy, nearly frost-bitten, to get his breakfast, and a toothful of mountain dew to drive the cold out of his stomach.
Usquebaugh—literally, "water of life."
The fact is, that Father Deleery made himself quite at home at Ned's without any reference to Nancy's saving habits; the consequence was, that her welcome to him was extremely sincere—"from the teeth out." Father Ned saw perfectly through her assumed heartiness of manner, but acted as if the contrary was the case; Nancy understood him also, and with an intention of making up by complaisance for their niggardliness in other respects, was a perfect honeycomb. This state of cross-purposes, however, could not last long; neither did it. Father Ned never paid, and Nancy never gave credit; so, at length, they came to an open rupture; she threatened to process him for what he owed her, and he, in return, threatened to remove the congregation from "The Forth" to Ballymagowan bridge, where he intended to set up his nephew in the "public line," to the ruin of Nancy's flourishing establishment.
"Father Ned," said Nancy, "I'm a hardworking, honest woman, and I don't see why my substance is to be wasted by your Reverence when you won't pay for it."
"And do you forget," Father Ned would reply, "that it's me that brings you your custom? Don't you know that if I remove my flock to Ballymagowan, you'll soon sing to another tune? so lay that to your heart."
"Troth, I know that whatever I get I'm obliged to pay for it; and I think every man should do the same, Father Ned. You must get a hank of yarn from me, and a bushel or two of oats from Ned, and your riglar dues along with all; but, avourneen, it's yourself that won't pay a penny when you can help it."
"Salvation to me, but you'd skin a flint!"
"Well, if I would, I pay my debts first."
"Yes, troth, do I."
"Why then that's more than you'll be able to do long, plase the fates."
"If all my customers wor like your Reverence, it is."
"I'll tell you what it is, Nancy, I often threatened to take the congregation from 'The Forth,' and I'll do it—if I don't, may I never sup sorrow!"
Big with such a threat, Father Ned retired. The apprehensions of Nancy on this point, however, were more serious than she was willing to acknowledge. This dispute took place a few days before the night in question.
Father Ned was a little man, with a red face, slender legs, and flat feet; he was usually cased in a pair of ribbed minister's grey small-clothes, with leggings of the same material. His coat, which was much too short, rather resembled a jerkin, and gave him altogether an appearance very much at variance with an idea of personal gravity or reverence. Over this dress he wore in winter, a dark great-coat, with high collar, that buttoned across his face, showing only the point, of his red nose; so that, when riding or walking, his hat rested more upon the collar of his coat than upon his head.
The curate was a tall, raw-boned young man, with high jutting cheek-bones, low forehead, and close knees; to his shoulders, which were very high, hung a pair of long bony arms, whose motions seemed rather the effect of machinery than volition. His hair, which was a bad black, was cropped close, and trimmed across his eye-brows, like that of a Methodist preacher; the small-clothes he wore were of the same web which had produced Father Ned's, and his body-coat was a dark blue, with black buttons. Each wore a pair of gray woollen mittens.
"There, Pether," said Father Ned, as he entered, "hook my bridle along with your own, as your hand is in—God save all here! Paddy Smith, ma bouchal, put these horses in the stable, till we dry ourselves a bit—Father Pether and I."
"Musha, but you're both welcome," said Nancy, wishing to wipe out the effects of the last tift with Father Ned, by the assistance of the stranger's punch; "will ye bounce, ye spalpeens, and let them to the fire? Father Ned, you're dhreepin' with the rain; and, Father Pether, avourneen, you're wet to the skin, too."
"Troth, and he is, Nancy, and a little bit farther, if you knew but all. Mr. Morrow, how do you do, sir?—And—eh?—Who's this we've got in the corner? A gintleman, boys, if cloth can make one! Mr. Morrow, introduce me."
"Indeed, Father Ned, I hav'nt the pleasure of knowing the gintleman myself."
"Well, no matter—come up, Pether. Sir, I have the honor of introducing you to my curate and coadjutor, the Reverend Pether M'Clatchaghan, and to myself, his excellent friend, but spiritual superior, the Reverend Edward Deleery, Roman Catholic Rector of this highly respectable and extensive parish; and I have further the pleasure," he continued, taking up Andy Morrow's Punch, "of drinking your very good health, sir."
"And I have the honor," returned the stranger, rising up, and diving his head among the flitches of bacon that hung in the chimney, "of introducing you and the Rev. Mr. M'—M'—M'——"
"Clatchagan, sir," subjoined Father Ned.
"Peter M'Illclatchagan, to Mr. Longinus Polysyllabus Alexandrinus."
"By my word, sir, but it's a good and appropriate name, sure enough," said Father Ned, surveying his enormous length; "success to me but you're an Alexandrine from head to foot—non solum Longinus, sed Alexandrinus."
"You're wrong, sir, in the Latin," said Father Peter.
"Prove it, Peter—prove it."
"It should be non tantum, sir."
"By what rule Pether?"
"Why, sir, there's a phrase in Corderius's Colloquies that I could condimn you from, if I had the book."
"Pether, you think you're a scholar, and, to do you justice, you're cute enough sometimes; but, Pether, you didn't travel for it, as I did—nor were you obliged to lep out of a college windy in Paris, at the time of the French Revolution, for your larning, as I was: not you, man, you ate the king's mutton comfortably at home in Maynooth, instead of travelling like your betters."
"I appale to this gintleman," said Father Peter turning to the stranger. "Are you a classical scholar, sir—that is, do you understand Latin?"
"What kind?" demanded the stranger dryly.
"If you have read Corderius's Colloquies, it will do," said Father Peter.
"No, sir," replied the other, "but I have read his commentator, Bardolphus, who wrote a treatise upon the Nasus Rubricundus of the ancients."
"Well, sir, if you did, it's probable that you may be able to understand our dispute, so"—
"Peter, I'm afeard you've got into the wrong box; for I say he's no chicken that's read Nasus Rubricundus, I can tell you that; I had my own trouble with it: but, at any rate, will you take your punch, man alive, and don't bother us with your Latin?"
"I beg your pardon, Father Ned: I insist that. I'm right; and I'll convince you that you're wrong, if God spares me to see Corderius to-morrow."
"Very well then, Pether, if you're to decide it to-morrow, let us have no more of it tonight."
During this conversation between the two reverend worthies, the group around the fire were utterly astonished at the erudition displayed in this learned dispute.
"Well, to be sure, larnin's a great thing, entirely," said M'Roarkin, aside, to Shane Fadh.
"Ah, Tom, there's nothing like it: well, any way, it's wonderful what they know!"
"Indeed it is, Shane—and in so short a time, too! Sure, it's not more nor five or six years since Father Pether there used to be digging praties on the one ridge with myself—by the same token, an excellent spadesman he was—and now he knows more nor all the Protestant parsons in the Diocy."
"Why, how could they know any thing, when they don't belong to the thrue church?" said Shane.
"Thrue for you, Shane," replied M'Roaran; "I disremimbered that clincher."
This discourse ran parallel with the dispute between the two priests, but in so low a tone as not to reach the ears of the classical champions, who would have ill-brooked this eulogium upon Father Peter's agricultural talent.
"Don't bother us, Pether, with your arguing to-night," said Father Ned, "it's enough for you to be seven days in the week at your disputations.—Sir, I drink to our better acquaintance."
"With all my heart, sir," replied the stranger.
"Father Ned," said Nancy, "the gintleman was going to tell us a sthrange story, sir, and maybe your Reverence would wish to hear it, docthor?"
"Certainly, Nancy, we'll be very happy to hear any story the gintleman may plase to tell us; but, Nancy, achora, before he begins, what if you'd just fry a slice or two of that glorious flitch, hanging over his head, in the corner?—that, and about six eggs, Nancy, and you'll have the priest's blessing, gratis."
"Why, Father Ned, it's too fresh, entirely—sure it's not a week hanging yet.
"Sorra matter, Nancy dheelish, we'll take with all that—just try your hand at a slice of it. I rode eighteen miles since I dined, and I feel a craving, Nancy, a whacuum in my stomach, that's rather troublesome."
"To be sure, Father Ned, you must get a slice, with all the veins in my heart; but I thought maybe you wouldn't like it so fresh: but what on earth will we do for eggs? for there's not an egg under the roof with me."
"Biddy, a hagur," said Father Ned, "just slip out to Molshy Johnson, and tell her to send me six eggs for a rasher, by the same token that I heard two or three hens cackling in the byre, as I was going to conference this morning."
"Well, Docthor," said Pat Frayne, when Biddy had been gone some time, on which embassy she delayed longer than the priest's judgment, influenced by the cravings of his stomach, calculated to be necessary,—"Well, Docthor, I often pity you, for fasting so long; I'm sure, I dunna how you can stand it, at all, at all."
"Troth, and you may well wonder, Pat; but we have that to support us, that you, or any one like you, know nothing about—inward support, Pat—inward support."
"Only for that, Father Ned," said Shane Fadh, "I suppose you could never get through with it."
"Very right, Shane—very right: only for it, we never could do.—What the dickens is keeping this girl with the eggs?—why she might be at Mr. Morrow's, here, since. By the way, Mr. Morrow," he continued, laughing, "you must come over to our church: you're a good neighbor, and a worthy fellow, and it's a thousand pities you should be sent down."
"Why, Docthor," said Andy, "do you really believe I'll go downwards?"
"Ah, Mr. Morrow, don't ask me that question—out of the pale, you know—out of the pale."
"Then you think, sir, there's no chance for me, at all?" said Andy, smiling.
"Not the laste, Andy, you must go this way," said Father Ned, striking the floor with the butt end of his whip, and winking—"to the lower raigons; and, upon my knowledge, to tell you the truth, I'm sorry for it, for you're a worthy fellow."
"Ah, Docthor," said Ned, "it's a great thing entirely to be born of the true church—one's always sure, then."
"Ay, ay; you may say that, Ned," returned the priest, "come or go what will, a man's always safe at the long run, except he dies without his clargy.—Shane, hand me the jug, if you please.—Where did you get this stuff, Nancy?—faith, it's excellent."
"You forget, Father Ned, that that's a secret.——But here's Biddy with the eggs, and now you'll have your rasher in no time."
When the two clergymen had discussed the rashers and eggs, and while the happy group were making themselves intimately acquainted with a fresh jug of punch, as it circulated round the table—
"Now, sir," said Father Ned to the stranger, "we'll hear your story with the greatest satisfaction possible; but I think you might charge your tumbler before you set to it."
When the stranger had complied with this last hint, "Well, gentlemen," said he, "as I am rather fatigued, will you excuse me for the position I am about to occupy, which is simply to stretch myself along the hob here, with my head upon the straw hassoch? and if you have no objection to that, I will relate the story."
To this, of course, a general assent was given. When he was stretched completely at his ease—
"Well, upon my veracity," observed Father Peter, "the gentleman's supernaturally long."
"Yes, Pether," replied Father Ned, "but observe his position—Polysyllaba cuncta supina, as Psorody says.—Arrah, salvation to me but you're a dull man, afther all!—but we're interrupting the gentleman. Sir, go on, if you please, with your story."
"Give me a few minutes," said he, "until I recollect the particulars."
He accordingly continued quiescent for two or three minutes more, apparently arranging the materials of his intended narration, and then commenced to gratify the eager expectations of his auditory, by emitting those nasal enunciations which are the usual accompaniments of sleep!
"Why, bad luck to the morsel of 'im but's asleep," said Ned; "Lord pardon me for swearin' in your Reverence's presence."
"That's certainly the language of a sleeping man," replied Father Ned, "but there might have been a little more respect than all that snoring comes to. Your health, boys."
The stranger had now wound up his nasal organ to a high pitch, after which he commenced again with somewhat of a lower and finer tone.
"He's beginning a new paragraph," observed Father Peter with a smile at the joke.
"Not at all," said Father Ned, "he's turning the tune; don't you perceive that he's snoring 'God save the King,' in the key of bass relievo?"
"I'm no judge of instrumental music, as you are," said the curate, "but I think it's liker the 'Dead March of Saul,' than 'God save the King;' however, if you be right, the gentleman certainly snores in a truly loyal strain."
"That," said little M'Roarkin, "is liker the Swine's melody, or the Bedfordshire hornpipe—he—he—he!"
"The poor gintleman's tired," observed Nancy, "afther a hard day's thravelling."
"I dare say he is," said Father Ned, in the sincere hospitality of his country; "at all events, take care of him, Nancy, he's a stranger, and get the best supper you can for him—he appears to be a truly respectable and well-bred man."
"I think," said M'Kinley, with a comical grin, "you might know that by his high-flown manner of sleeping—he snores very politely, and like a gentleman, all out."
"Well done, Alick," said the priest, laughing; "go home, boys, it's near bed-time; Paddy, ma bouchal, are the horses ready?"
"They'll be at the door in a jiffy, your Reverence," said Paddy going out.
In the course of a few minutes, he returned, exclaiming, "Why, thin, is it thinkin' to venthur out sich a night as it's comin' on yer Reverences would be? and it plashin' as if it came out of methers! Sure the life would be dhrownded out of both of ye, and yees might colch a faver into the bargain."
"Sit down, gintlemen," said Ned; "sit down, Father Ned, you and Father Pether—we'll have another tumbler; and, as it's my turn to tell a story, I'll give yez something, amuse yez,—the best I can, and, you all know, who can do more?"
"Very right, Ned; but let us see"—replied father Ned, putting his head out of the door to ascertain what the night did; "come, pether, it's good to be on the safe side of any house in such a storm; we must only content ourselves until it gets fair. Now, Ned, go on with your story, and let it be as pleasant as possible."
"Never fear, your Reverence," replied Ned—"here goes—and healths a-piece to begin with."
THE THREE TASKS.
"Every person in the parish knows the purty knoll that rises above the Routing Burn, some few miles from the renowned town of Knockimdowny, which, as all the world must allow, wants only houses and inhabitants to be as big a place as the great town of Dublin itself. At the foot of this little hill, just under the shelter of a dacent pebble of a rock, something above the bulk of half a dozen churches, one would be apt to see—if they knew how to look sharp, otherwise they mightn't be able to make it out from the gray rock above it, except by the smoke that ris from the chimbley—Nancy Magennis's little cabin, snug and cosey with its corrag* or ould man of branches, standing on the windy side of the door, to keep away the blast. Upon my word, it was a dacent little residence in its own way, and so was Nancy herself, for that matther; for, though a poor widdy, she was very punctwell in paying for Jack's schooling, as I often heard ould Terry M'Phaudeen say, who told me the story. Jack, indeed, grew up a fine slip; and for hurling, foot-ball playing, and lepping, hadn't his likes in the five quarters of the parish. It's he that knew how to handle a spade and a raping-hook, and what was betther nor all that, he was kind and tindher to his poor ould mother, and would let her want for nothing. Before he'd go to his day's work in the morning, he'd be sure to bring home from the clear-spring well that ran out of the other side of the rock, a pitcher of water to serve her for the day; nor would he forget to bring in a good creel of turf from the snug little peat-sack that stood thatched with rushes before the door, and leave it in the corner, beside the fire; so that she had nothing to do but put over her hand, without rising off of her sate, and put down a sod when she wanted it.
*The Corrag is a roll of branches tied together when green and used for the purposes mentioned the story. It is six feet high, and much thicker than a sack, and is changed to either side of the door according to the direction from which the wind blows.
"Nancy, on her part, kept Jack very clane and comfortable; his linen, though coorse, was always a good color, his working clothes tidily mended at all times; and when he'd have occasion to put on his good coat to work in for the first time, Nancy would sew on the fore-part of each sleeve a stout patch of ould cloth, to keep them from being worn by the spade; so that when she'd rip these off them every Saturday night, they would look as new and fresh as if he hadn't been working in them at all, at all.
"Then when Jack came home in the winter nights, it would do your heart good to see Nancy sitting at her wheel, singing, 'Stachan Varagah,' or 'Peggy Na Laveen,' beside a purty clear fire, with a small pot of murphys boiling on it for their supper, or laid up in a wooden dish, comfortably covered with a clane praskeen on the well-swept hearth-stone; whilst the quiet, dancing blaze might be seen blinking in the nice earthen plates and dishes that stood over against the side-wall of the house. Just before the fire you might see Jack's stool waiting for him to come home; and on the other side, the brown cat washing her face with her paws, or sitting beside the dog that lay asleep, quite happy and continted, purring her song, and now and then looking over at Nancy, with her eyes half-shut, as much as to say, 'Catch a happier pair nor we are, Nancy, if you can.'
"Sitting quietly on the roost above the door, were Dicky the cock, and half-a-dozen hens, that kept this honest pair in eggs and egg-milk for the best part of the year, besides enabling Nancy to sell two or three clutches of March-birds every season, to help to buy wool for Jack's big-coat, and her own gray-beard gown and striped red and blue petticoat.
"To make a long story short—No two could be more comfortable, considering every thing. But, indeed, Jack was always obsarved to have a dacent ginteel turn with him; for he'd scorn to see a bad gown on his mother, or a broken Sunday coat on himself; and instead of drinking his little earning in a shebeen-house, and then eating his praties dry, he'd take care to have something to kitchen* them; so that he was not only snug and dacent of a Sunday, regarding wearables, but so well-fed and rosy, that a point of a rush would take a drop of blood out of his cheek.** Then he was the comeliest and best-looking young man in the parish, could tell lots of droll stories, and sing scores of merry songs that would make you split your sides with downright laughing; and when a wake or a dance would happen to be in the neighborhood, maybe there wouldn't be many a sly look from the purty girls for pleasant Jack Magennis!
* The straits to which the poor Irish are put for what is termed kitchen—that is some liquid that enables them to dilute and swallow the dry potato—are grievous to think of. An Irishman in his miserable cabin will often feel glad to have salt and water in which to dip it, but that alluded to in the text is absolute comfort. Egg milk is made as follows:—A measure of water is put down suited to the number of the family; the poor woman then takes the proper number of eggs, which she beats up, and, when the water is boiling, pours it in, stirring it well for a couple of minutes. It is then made, and handed round in wooden noggins, every one salting for themselves. In color it resembles milk, which accounts for its name.
Our readers must have heard of the old and well known luxury of "potatoes and point," which, humorous as it is, scarcely falls short of the truth. An Irish family, of the cabin class, hangs up in the chimney a herring, or "small taste" of bacon, and as the national imagination is said to be strong, each individual points the potato he is going to eat at it, upon the principle, I suppose, of crede et habes. It is generally said that the act communicates the flavor of the herring or bacon, as the case may be, to the potato; and this is called "potatoes and point."
** This proverb, which is always used as above, but without being confined in its application, to only one sex, is a general one in Ireland. In delicacy and beauty I think it inimitable.
"In this way lived Jack and his mother, as happy and continted as two lords; except now and thin, that Jack would feel a little consarn for not being able to lay past anything for the sorefoot,* or that might enable him to think of marrying—for he was beginning to look about him for a wife; and why not, to be sure? But he was prudent for all that, and didn't wish to bring a wife and small family into poverty and hardship without means to support them, as too many do.
* Accidents—future calamity—or old age.
"It was one fine, frosty, moonlight night—the sky was without a cloud, and the stars all blinking that it would delight anybody's heart to look at them, when Jack was crassing a bog that lay a few fields beyant his own cabin. He was just crooning the 'Humors of Glynn' to himself and thinking that it was a very hard case that he couldn't save anything at all, at all, to help him to the wife, when, on coming down a bank in the middle of the bog, he saw a dark-looking man leaning against a clamp of turf, and a black dog, with a pipe of tobacky in his mouth, sitting at his ase beside him, and he smoking as sober as a judge. Jack, however, had a stout heart, bekase his conscience was clear, and, barring being a little daunted, he wasn't very much afeard. 'Who is this coming down towards us?' said the black-favored man, as he saw Jack approaching them. 'It's Jack Magennis,' says the dog, making answer, and taking the pipe out of his mouth with his right paw; and after puffing away the smoke, and rubbing the end of it against his left leg, exactly as a Christian (this day's Friday, the Lord stand betune us and harm) would do against his sleeve, giving it at the same time to his comrade—'It's Jack Magennis,' says the dog, 'honest Widow Magennis's dacent son.' 'The very man,' says the other, back to him, 'that I'd wish to sarve out of a thousand. Arrah, Jack Magennis, how is every tether-length of you?' says the old fellow, putting the furrawn* on him—'and how is every bone in your body, Jack, my darling? I'll hould a thousand guineas,' says he, pointing to a great big bag that lay beside him, 'and that's only the tenth part of what's in this bag, Jack, that you're just going to be in luck to-night above all the nights in the year.'
* That frank, cordial manner of address which brings strangers suddenly to intimacy.
"'And may worse never happen you, Jack, my bouchal,' says the dog, putting in his tongue, then wagging his tail, and houlding out his paw to shake hands with Jack.
"'Gintlemen,' says Jack, never minding to give the dog his hand, bekase he heard it wasn't safe to touch the likes of him—'Gintlemen,' says he, 'ye're sitting far from the fire this frosty night.'
"'Why, that's true, Jack,' answers the ould fellow; 'but if we're sitting far from the fire, we're sitting very near the makins of it, man alive.' So, with this, he pulls the bag of goold over to him, that Jack might know, by the jingle of the shiners, what was in it.
"'Jack,' says dark-face, 'there's some born with a silver ladle in their mouth, and others with a wooden spoon; and if you'll just sit down on the one end of this clamp with me, and take a hand at the five and ten,' pulling out, as he spoke, a deck of cards, 'you may be a made man for the remainder of your life.'
"'Sir,' says Jack, 'with submission, both yourself and this cur—I mane,' says he, not wishing to give the dog offence, 'both yourself and this dacint gintleman with the tail and claws upon him, have the advantage of me, in respect of knowing my name; for, if I don't mistake,' says he, putting his hand to his caubeen, 'I never had the pleasure of seeing either of ye before.'
"'Never mind that,' says the dog, taking back the pipe from the other, and clapping it in his mouth; 'we're both your well-wishers, anyhow, and it's now your own fault if you're not a rich man.'
"Jack, by this time, was beginning to think that they might be afther wishing to throw luck in his way; for he had often heard of men being made up entirely by the fairies, till there was no end to their wealth.
"'Jack,' says the black man, 'you had better be led by us for this bout—upon the honor of a gintleman we wish you well: however, if you don't choose to take the ball at the right hop, another may; and you're welcome to toil all your life, and die a beggar after.'
"'Upon my reputation, what he says is true, Jack,' says the dog, in his turn, 'the lucky minute of your life is come: let it pass without doing what them that wishes your mother's son well desire you, and you'll die in a ditch.'
"'And what am I to do,' says Jack, 'that's to make me so rich all of a sudden?'
"'Why only to sit down, and take a game of cards with myself says black-brow, 'that's all, and I'm sure its not much.'
"'And what is it to be for?' Jack inquires; 'for I have no money—tare-nation to the rap itself's in my company.'
"'Well, you have yourself,' says the dog, putting up his fore-claw along his nose, and winking at Jack; 'you have yourself, man—don't be faint-hearted: he'll bet the contents of this bag;' and with that the ould thief gave it another great big shake, to make the guineas jingle again. 'It's ten thousand guineas in hard goold; if he wins, you're to sarve him for a year and a day; and if he loses, you're to have the bag.'
"'And the money that's in it?' says Jack, wishing, you see, to make a sure bargain, anyhow.
"'Ev'ry penny,' answered the ould chap, 'if you win it;' and there's fifty to one in your favor.'
"By this time the dog had gone into a great fit of laughing at Jack's sharpness about the money. 'The money that's in it, Jack!' says he; and he took the pipe out of his mouth, and laughed till he brought on a hard fit of coughing. 'O, by this and by that says he, 'but that bates Bannagher! And you're to get ev'ry penny, you thief o' the world, if you win it!' but for all that he seemed to be laughing at something that Jack wasn't up to.
"At any rate, surely, they palavered Jack betune them until he sot down and consinted. 'Well,' says he, scratching his head, 'why, worse nor lose I can't, so here goes for one trial at the shiners, any how!'
"'Now,' says the obscure gintleman, just whin the first card was in his hand, ready to be laid down, 'you're to sarve me for a year and a day, if I win; and if I lose, you shall have all the money in the bag.'
"'Exactly,' said Jack, and, just as he said the word, he saw the dog putting the pipe in his pocket, and turning his head away, for fraid Jack would see him breaking his sides laughing. At last, when he got his face sobered, he looks at Jack, and says, 'Surely, Jack, if you win, you must get all the money in the bag; and, upon my reputation, you may build castles in the air with it, you'll be so rich.'
"This plucked up Jack's courage a little, and to work they went; and how could it end otherwise than Jack to lose betune two such knowing schamers as they soon turned out to be? For, what do you think? but, as Jack was beginning the game, the dog tips him a wink—laying his fore-claw along his nose as before, as much as to say, 'Watch me, and you'll win'—turning round, at the same time, and showing Jack a nate little looking-glass, that was set in his oxther, in which Jack saw, dark as it was, the spots of all the other fellow's cards, as he thought, so that he was cock-sure of bating him. But they were a pair of downright knaves any how; for Jack, by playing to the cards that he saw in the looking-glass, instead of to them the other held in his hand, lost the game and the money. In short, he saw that he was blarnied and chated by them both; and when the game was up, he plainly tould them as much.
"'What?—you scoundrel!' says the black fellow, starting up and catching him by the collar; 'dare you go for to impache my honor?'
"'Leather him, if he says a word,' says the dog, running over on his hind-legs, and laying his shut paw upon Jack's nose. 'Say another word, you rascal!' says he, 'and I'll down you;' with this, the ould fellow gives him another shake.
"'I don't blame you so much,' says Jack to him; 'it was the looking-glass that desaved me. That cur's nothing but a black leg!'
"'What looking-glass?—you knave you!' says dark-face, giving him a fresh haul.
"'Why, the one I saw under the dog's oxther,' replied Jack.
"'Under my oxther, you swindling rascal!' replied the dog, giving him a pull by the other side of the collar; 'did ever any honest pair of gintlemen hear the like?—but he only wants to break through the agreement: so let us turn him at once into an ass, and then he'll break no more bargains, nor strive to take in honest men and win their money. Me a black-leg!' So the dark fellow drew his two hands over Jack's jaws, and in a twinkling there was a pair of ass's ears growing up out of his head. When Jack found this, he knew that he wasn't in good hands: so he thought it best to get himself as well out of the scrape as possible.
"'Gintlemen, be aisy,' says he, 'and let us understand one another: I'm very willing to sarve you for a year and a day; but I've one requist to ax, and it's this: I've a helpless ould mother at home,—and if I go with you now, she'll break her heart with grief first, and starve afterwards. Now, if your honor will give me a year to work hard, and lay in provision to support her while I'm away, I'll serve you with all the veins of my heart—for a bargain's a bargain.'
"With this, the dog gave his companion a pluck by the skirt, and, after some chat together that Jack didn't hear, they came back and said that they would comply with his wishes that far: 'So, on to-morrow twelvemonth, Jack,' says the dark fellow, 'the dog here will come to your mother's, and if you follow him he'll bring you safe to my castle.'
"'Very well, your honor,' says Jack; 'but as dogs resemble one another so much, how will I know him when he comes?'
"'Why,' answers the other, 'he'll have a green ribbon and a spy-glass about his neck, and a pair of Wellington boots on his hind legs.'
"'That's enough, sir,'says Jack, 'I can't mistake him in that dress, so I'll be ready; but, jintlemen, if it would be plasing to you both I'd every bit as soon not go home with these,' and he handled the brave pair of ears he had got, as he spoke. 'The truth is, jintlemen, I'm deluding enough without them; and as I'm so modest, you persave, why if you'd take them away, you'd oblige me!'
"To this they had no objection, and during that year Jack wrought night and day, that he might be able to lave as much provision with his poor mother as would support her in his absence; and when the morning came that he was to bid her farewell, he went down on his two knees and got her blessing. He then left her with tears in his eyes, and promised to come back the very minute his time would be up. 'Mother,' says he, 'be kind to your little family here, and feed them well, as they are all you'll have to keep you company till you see me again.'
"His mother then stuffed his pockets with bread, till they stuck out behind him, and gave him a crooked six-pence for luck; after which, he got his staff, and was just ready to tramp, when, sure enough, he spies his ould friend the dog, with the green ribbon about his neck, and the Wellington boots upon his hind legs. He didn't go in, but waited on the outside till Jack came out. They then set off, but no one knows how far they travelled, till they reached the dark gintleman's castle, who appeared very glad to see Jack, and gave him a hearty welcome.
"The next day, in consequence of his long journey, he was ax'd to do nothing; but in the coorse of the evening, the dark chap brought him into a long, frightful room, where there were three hundred and sixty-five hooks sticking out of the wall, and on every hook but one a man's head. When Jack saw this agreeable sight, his dinner began to quake within him; but he felt himself still worse, when his master pointed to the empty hook, saying, 'Now, Jack, your business to-morrow is to clane out a stable that wasn't claned for the last seven years, and if you don't have it finished before dusk—do you see that hook?'
"'Ye—yes,' replied Jack, hardly able to spake.
"'Well, if you don't have it finished before dusk, your head will be hanging on that hook as soon as the sun sets.'
"'Very well, your honor,' replied Jack; scarcely knowing what he said, or he wouldn't have said 'very well' to such a bloody-minded intention, any how—-'Very well,' says he, 'I'll do my best, and all the world knows that the best can do no more.'
"Whilst this discoorse was passing betune them, Jack happened to look at the upper end of the room, and there he saw one of the beautifullest faces that ever was seen on a woman, looking at him through a little panel that was in the wall. She had a white, snowy forehead—such eyes, and cheeks, and teeth, that there's no coming up to them; and the clusters of dark hair that hung about her beautiful temples!—by the laws, I'm afeard of falling in love with her myself, so I'll say no more about her, only that she would charm the heart of a wheel-barrow. At any rate, in spite of all the ould fellow could say—heads and hooks, and all, Jack couldn't help throwing an eye, now and then, to the panel; and to tell the truth, if he had been born to riches and honor, it would be hard to fellow him, for a good face and a good figure.
"'Now, Jack,' says his master, 'go and eat your supper, and I hope you'll be able to perform your task—if not, off goes your head.'
"'Very well, your honor,' says Jack, again scratching it in the hoith of perplexity, 'I must only do what I can.'
"The next morning Jack was up with the sun, if not before him, and hard at his task; but before breakfast time he lost all heart, and little wonder he should, poor fellow, bekase for every one shovelful he'd throw out, there would come three more in: so that instead of making his task less, according as he got on, it became greater. He was now in the greatest dilemmy, and didn't know how to manage, so he was driven at last to such an amplush, that he had no other shift for employment, only to sing Paddeen O'Rafferty out of mere vexation, and dance the hornpipe trebling step to it, cracking his fingers, half mad, through the stable. Just in the middle of this tantrum, who comes to the door to call him to his breakfast, but the beautiful crathur he saw the evening before peeping at him through the panel. At this minute, Jack had so hated himself by the dancing, that his handsome face was in a fine glow, entirely.
"'I think,' said, she to Jack, with one of her own sweet smiles, 'that this is an odd way of performing your task.'
"'Och, thin, 'tis you that may say that,' replies Jack; 'but it's myself that's willing to have my head hung up any day, just for one sight of you, you darling.'
"'Where did you come from?' asked the lady, with another smile that bate the first all to nothing.
"'Where did I come from, is it?' answered Jack; 'why, death-alive! did you never hear of ould Ireland, my jewel!—hem—I mane, plase your ladyship's honor.'
"'No,' she answered; 'where is that country?'
"'Och, by the honor of an Irishman,' says Jack, 'that takes the shine!—not heard of Erin—the Imerald Isle—the Jim of the ocean, where all the men are brave and honorable, and all the women—hem—I mane the ladies—chaste and beautiful?'
"'No,' said she; 'not a word: but if I stay longer I may get you blame—come in to your breakfast, and I'm sorry to find that you have done so little at your task. Your roaster's a man that always acts up to what he threatens: and, if you have not this stable cleared out before dusk, your head will be taken of your shoulders this night.'
"'Why, thin,' says Jack, 'my beautiful darl—plase your honor's ladyship—if he Dangs it up, will you do me the favor, acushla machree, to turn my head toardst that same panel where I saw a sartin fair face that I won't mintion: and if you do, let me alone for watching a sartin purty face I'm acquainted with.'
"'What means cushla machree? inquired the lady, as she turned to go away.
"'It manes that you're the pulse of my heart, avourneen, plase your ladyship's Reverence,' says Jack.
"'Well,' said the lovely crathur, 'any time you speak to me in future, I would rather you would omit terms of honor, and just call me after the manner of your own country; instead, for instance, of calling me your ladyship, I would be better pleased if you called me cushla—something—' 'Cushla machree, ma vourneen—the pulse of my heart—my darling,' said Jack, consthering it (the thief) for her, for fraid she wouldn't know it well enough.
"'Yes,' she replied, 'cushla machree; well, as I can pronounce it, acushla machree, will you come in to your breakfast?' said the darling, giving Jack a smile that would be enough, any day, to do up the heart of an Irishman. Jack, accordingly, went after her, thinking of nothing except herself; but on going in he could see no sign of her, so he-sat down to his breakfast, though a single ounce, barring a couple of pounds of beef, the poor fellow couldn't ate, at that bout, for' thinking of her.
"Well, he went again to his work, and thought he'd have better luck; but it was still the ould game—three shovelfuls would come in for ev'ry one he'd throw out; and now he began, in earnest, to feel something about his heart that he didn't like, bekase he couldn't, for the life of him, help thinking of the three hundred and sixty-four heads, and the empty hook. At last he gave up the work entirely, and took it into his head to make himself scarce from about the old fellow's castle, altogether; and without more to do, he set off, never saying as much as 'good-bye' to his master: but he hadn't got as far as the lower end of the yard, when his ould friend, the dog, steps out of a kennel, and meets him full but in the teeth.
"'So, Jack,' says he, 'you're going to give us leg bail, I see; but walk back with yourself, you spalpeen, this minute, and join your work, or if you don't,' says he, 'it'll be worse for your health. I'm not so much your enemy now as I was, bekase you have a friend in coort that you know nothing about; so just do whatever you are bid, and keep never minding.'
"Jack went back with a heavy heart, as you may be sure, knowing that, whenever the black cur began to blarney him, there was no good to come in his way. He accordingly went into the stable, but consuming to the hand's turn he did, knowing it would be only useless; for, instead of clearing it out, he'd be only filling it.
"It was near dinner-time, and Jack was very sad and sorrowful, as how could he be otherwise, poor fellow, with such a bloody-minded ould chap to dale with? when up comes the darling of the world again, to call him to his dinner.
"'Well, Jack,' says she, with her white arms so beautiful, and her dark clusters tossed about by the motion of her walk—how are you coming on at your task?' 'How am I coming on, is it? Och, thin,' says Jack, giving a good-humored smile through the frown that was on his face, 'plase your lady—a cushla machree—it's all over with me; for I've still the same story to tell, and off goes my head, as sure as it's on my shoulders, this blessed night.'
"'That would be a pity, Jack,' says she, 'for there are worse heads on worse shoulders; but will you give me the shovel?' 'Will I give you the shovel, is it?—Och thin, wouldn't I be a right big baste to do the likes of that, any how?' says Jack; 'what! avourneen dheelish! to stand up with myself, and let this hard shovel into them beautiful, soft, white hands of your own! Faix, my jewel, if you knew but all, my mother's son's not the man to do such a disgraceful turn, as to let a lady like you take the shovel out of his hand, and he standing with his mouth under his nose, looking at you—not myself auourneen! we have no such ungenteel manners as that in our country.' 'Take my advice, Jack,' says she, pleased in her heart at what Jack said, for all she didn't purtend it—'give me the shovel, and depend upon it, I'll do more in a short time to clear the stable than you would for years.' 'Why, thin, avour-neen, it goes to my heart to refuse you; but, for all that, may I never see yesterday, if a taste of it will go into your purty, white fingers,' says the thief, praising her to her face all the time—'my head may go off, any day, and welcome, but death before dishonor. Say no more, darling; but tell your father I'll be to my dinner immediately.'
"Notwithstanding all this, by jingo, the lady would not be put off; like a raal woman, she'd have her own way; so on telling Jack that she didn't intend to work with the shovel, at all, at all, but only to take it for a minute in her hand, at long last he gave it to her; she then struck it three times on the threshel of the door, and, giving it back into his hand, tould him to try what he could do. Well, sure enough, now there was a change; for, instead of three shovelfuls coming in, as before, when he threw one out, there went nine more along with it. Jack, in coorse, couldn't do less than thank the lovely crathur for her assistance; but when he raised his head to speak to her, she was gone. I needn't say, howsomever, that he went in to his dinner with a light heart and a murdhering appetite; and when the ould fellow axed him how he was coming on, Jack tould him he was doing gloriously. 'Remember the empty hook, Jack,' said he. 'Never fear, your honor,' answered Jack, 'if I don't finish my task, you may bob my head off anytime.'
"Jack now went out, and was a short time getting through his job, for before the sun set it was finished, and he came into the kitchen, ate his supper, and, sitting down before the fire, sung 'Love among the Roses,' and the 'Black Joke,' to vex the ould fellow.
"This was one task over, and his head was safe for that bout; but that night, before he went to bed, his master called him upstairs, brought him into the bloody room, and gave him his orders for the next day. 'Jack,' says he, 'I have a wild filly that has never been caught, and you must go to my demesne to-morrow, and catch her, or if you don't—look there,' says the big blackguard, 'on that hook it hangs, before to-morrow, if you havn't her at sunset in the stable that you claned yesterday.' 'Very well, your honor,' said Jack, carelessly, 'I'll do every thing in my power, and if I fail, I can't help it.'
"The next morning, Jack was out with a bridle in his hand, going to catch the filly. As soon as he got into the domain, sure enough, there she was in the middle of a green field, grazing quite at her ase. When Jack saw this he went over towards her, houlding out his hat as if it was full of oats; but he kept the hand that had the bridle in it behind his back, for fraid she'd see it and make off. Well, my dear, on he went till he was almost within grip of her, cock-sure that he had nothing more to do than slip the bridle over her neck and secure her; but he made a bit of a mistake in his reckoning, for though she smelt and snoaked about him, just as if she didn't care a feed of oats whether he caught her or not, yet when he boulted over to hould her fast, she was off like a shot with her tail cocked, to the far end of the demesne, and Jack had to set off hot foot after here. All, however, was to no purpose; he couldn't come next or near her for the rest of the day, and there she kept coorsing him about from one field to another, till he hadn't a blast of breath in his body.
"In this state was Jack when the beautiful crathur came out to call him home to his breakfast, walking with the pretty small feet and light steps of her own upon the green fields, so bright and beautiful, scarcely bending the flowers and the grass as she went along, the darling.
"'Jack,' says she, 'I fear you have as difficult a task to-day as you had yesterday.'
"'Why, and it's you that may say that with your own purty mouth,' says Jack, says he; for out of breath and all as he was, he couldn't help giving her a bit of blarney, the rogue.
"'Well, Jack,' says she, 'take my advice, and don't tire yourself any longer by attempting to catch her; truth's, best—I tell you, you could never do it; come home to your breakfast, and when you return again, 'just amuse yourself as well as you can until dinner-time.'
"'Och, och!' says Jack, striving to look, the sly thief, as if she had promised to help him—'I only wish I was a king, and, by the powers, I know who would be my queen, any how; for it's your own sweet lady—savourneen dheelish—I say, amn't I bound to you for a year and a day longer, for promising to give me a lift, as well as for what you done yesterday?'
"'Take care, Jack,' says she, smiling, however, at his ingenuity in striving to trap her into a promise, 'I don't think I made any promise of assistance.'
"'You didn't,' says Jack, wiping his face with the skirt of his coat, ''cause why?—you see pocket-handkerchiefs weren't invented in them times: 'why, thin, may I never live to see yesterday, if there's not as much rale beauty in that smile that's diverting itself about them sweet-breathing lips of yours, and in them two eyes of light that's breaking both their hearts laughing at me, this minute, as would encourage any poor fellow to expect a good turn from you—that is, whin you could do it, without hurting or harming yourself; for it's he would be the right rascal that could take it, if it would injure a silken hair of your head.'
"'Well,' said the lady, with a mighty roguish smile, 'I shall call you home to your dinner, at all events.'
"When Jack went back from his breakfast, he didn't slave himself after the filly toy more, but walked about to view the demesne, and the avenues, and the green walks, and nice temples, and fish-ponds, and rookeries, and everything, in short, that was worth seeing. Towards dinner-time, howiver, he began to have an eye to the way the sweet crathur was to come, and sure enough she that wasn't one minute late.
"'Well, Jack,' says she, 'I'll keep you no longer in doubt:' for the tender-hearted crathur saw that Jack, although he didn't wish to let an to her, was fretting every now and then about the odd hook and the bloody room—'So, Jack,' says she, 'although I didn't promise, yet I'll perform;' and with that she pulled a small ivory whistle out of her pocket, and gave three blasts on it that brought the wild filly up to her very hand, as quick as the wind. She then took the bridle, and threw it over the baste's neck, giving her up, at the same time, to Jack; 'You needn't fear now, Jack,' says she, 'you'll find her as quiet as a lamb, and as tame as you wish; as proof of it, just walk before her, and you will see she will follow you to any part of the field.'
"Jack, you maybe sure, paid her as many and as sweet compliments as he could, and never heed one from his country for being able to say something toothsome to the ladies. At any rate, if he laid it on thick the day before, he gave two or three additional coats this time, and the innocent soul went away smiling, as usual.
"When Jack brought the filly home, the dark fellow, his master, if dark before, was a perfect thunder-cloud this night: bedad, he was nothing less than near bursting with vexation, bekaise the thieving ould sinner intended to have Jack's head upon the hook, but he fell short in his reckoning now as well as before. Jack sung 'Love among the Roses,' and the 'Black Joke,' to help him into better timper.
"'Jack,' says he, striving to make himself speak pleasant to him, 'you've got two difficult tasks over you; but you know the third time's the charm—take care of the next.'
"'No matter about that,' says Jack, speaking up to him stiff and stout, bekase, as the dog tould him, he knew he had a friend in coort—'let's hear what it is, any how.'
"'To-morrow, then,' says the other, 'you're to rob a crane's nest, on the top of a beech-tree which grows in the middle of a little island in the lake that you saw yesterday in my demesne; you're to have neither boat, nor oar, nor any kind of conveyance, but just as you stand; and if you fail to bring me the eggs, or if you break one of them,—look here!' says he, again pointing to the odd hook, for all this discoorse took place in the bloody room.
"'Good again,' says Jack; 'if I fail I know my doom.'
"'No, you don't, you spalpeen,' says the other, getting vexed with him entirely, 'for I'll roast you till you're half dead, and ate my dinner off you after; and, what is more than that, you blackguard, you must sing the 'Black Joke' all the time for my amusement.'
"'Div'l fly away with you,' thought Jack, 'but you're fond of music, you vagabone.'
"The next morning Jack was going round and round the lake, trying about the edge of it, if he could find any place shallow enough to wade in; but he might as well go to wade the say, and what was worst of all, if he attempted to swim, it would be like a tailor's goose, straight to the bottom; so he kept himself safe on dry land, still expecting a visit from the 'lovely crathur,' but, bedad, his good luck failed him for wanst, for instead of seeing her coming over to him, so mild and sweet, who does he obsarve steering at a dog's trot, but his ould friend the smoking cur. 'Confusion to that cur,' says Jack to himself, 'I know now there's some bad fortune before me, or he wouldn't be coming acrass me.'
"'Come home to your breakfast, Jack,' says the dog, walking up to him, 'it's breakfast time.'
"'Ay,' says Jack, scratching his head, 'it's no matter whether I do or not, for I bleeve my head's hardly worth a flat-dutch cabbage at the present speaking.'
"'Why, man, it was never worth so much,' says the baste, pulling out his pipe and putting it in his mouth, when it lit at once.
"'Take care of yourself,' says Jack, quite desperate,—for he thought he was near the end of his tether,—'take care of yourself, you dirty cur, or maybe I might take a gintleman's toe from your tail.'
"'You had better keep a straight tongue in your head,' says four-legs, 'while it's on your shoulders, or I'll break every bone in your skin—Jack, you're a fool,' says he, checking himself, and speaking kindly to him—'you're a fool; didn't I tell you the other day to do what you were bid, and keep never minding?'
"'Well,' thought Jack to himself, 'there's no use in making him any more my enemy than he is—particularly as I'm in such a hobble.'
"'You lie,' says the dog, as if Jack had spoken out to him, wherein he only thought the words to himself, 'you lie,' says he, 'I'm not, nor never was, your enemy, if you knew but all.'
"'I beg your honor's pardon,' answers Jack, 'for being so smart with your honor, but, bedad, if you were in my case,—if you expected your master to roast you alive,—eat his dinner of your body,—make you sing the 'Black Joke,' by way of music for him; and, to crown all, know that your head was to be stuck upon a hook after—maybe you would be a little short, in your temper, as well as your neighbors.'
"'Take heart, Jack,' says the other, laying his fore claw as knowingly as ever along his nose, and winking slyly at Jack, didn't I tell you that you had a friend in coort—the day's not past yet, so cheer up, who knows but there is luck before you still?'
"'Why, thin,' says Jack, getting a little cheerful, and wishing to crack a joke with him, 'but your honor's very fond of the pipe!' 'Oh! don't you know, Jack,' says he, 'that that's the fashion at present among my tribe; sure all my brother puppies smoke now, and a man might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion, you know.'
"When they drew near home, they got quite thick entirely; 'Now,' says Jack, in a good-humored way, 'if you can give me a lift in robbing this crane's nest, do; at any rate, I'm sure your honor won't be my enemy. I know you have too much good nature in your face to be one that wouldn't help a lame dog over a style—that is,' says he, taking himself up for fear of offending the other,—'I'm sure you'd be always inclined to help the weak side.'
"'Thank you for the compliment,' says, the dog; 'but didn't I tell you that you have a friend in coort?'
"When Jack went back to the lake, he-could only sit and look sorrowfully at the tree, or walls; about the edge of it, without being able to do anything else. He spent the whole day this way, till dinner-time, when what would you have of it, but he sees the darlin' coming out to him, as fair and as blooming as an angel. His heart, you may be sure, got up to his mouth, for he knew she would be apt to take him out of his difficulties. When she came up—
"'Now, Jack,' says she, 'there is not a minute to be lost, for I'm watch'd; and if it's discovered that I gave you any assistance, we will both be destroyed.'
"'Oh, murder sheery!' (* Murder everlasting) says Jack, 'fly back, avourneen machree—for rather than anything should happen you, I'd lose fifty-lives.'
"'No,' says she, 'I think I'll be able to-get you over this, as well as the rest; so have a good heart, and be faithful' 'That's it,' replied Jack, 'that's it, acushla—my own correcthur to a shaving; I've a heart worth its weight in bank notes, and a more faithful boy isn't alive this day nor I'm to yez all, ye darlings of the world.'
"She then pulled a small white wand out of her pocket, struck the lake, and there was the prettiest green ridge across it to the foot of the tree that ever eye beheld. 'Now,' says she, turning her back to Jack, and stooping down to do something that he couldn't see, 'Take these,' giving him her ten toes, 'put them against the tree, and you will have steps to carry you to the top, but be sure, for your life and mine, not to forget any of them. If you do, my life will be taken tomorrow morning, for your master puts on my slippers with his own hands.'
"Jack was now going to swear that he would give up the whole thing and surrender his head at once; but when life looked at her feet, and saw no appearance of blood, he went over without more to do, and robbed the nest, taking down the eggs one by one, that he mightn't brake them. There was no end to his joy, as he secured the last egg; he instantly took down the toes, one after another, save and except the little one of the left foot, which in his joy and hurry he forgot entirely. He then returned by the green ridge to the shore, and accordingly as he went along, it melted away into water behind him.
"'Jack,' says the charmer, 'I hope you forgot none of my toes.'
"'Is it me?' says Jack, quite sure that he had them all—'arrah, catch any one from my country making a blunder of that kind.'
"'Well,' says she, 'let us see; so, taking the toes, she placed them on again, just as if they had never been off. But, lo and behold! on coming to the last of the left foot, it wasn't forthcoming. 'Oh! Jack, Jack,' says she, 'you have destroyed me; to-morrow morning your master will notice the want of this toe, and that instant I'll be put to death.'
"'Lave that to me,' says Jack; 'by the powers, you won't lose a drop of your darling blood for it. Have you got a pen-knife about you? and I'll soon show you how you won't.'
"'What do you want with the knife?' she inquired.
"'What do I want with it?—Why to give you the best toe on both my feet, for the one I lost on you; do you think I'd suffer you to want a toe, and I having ten thumping ones at your sarvice?—I'm not the man, you beauty you, for such a shabby trick as that comes to.'
"'But you forget,' says the lady, who was a little cooler than Jack, 'that none of yours would fit me.'
"'And must you die to-morrow, acushla?' asked Jack, in desperation.
"'As sure as the sun rises,' answered the lady 'for Your master would know at once that it was by my toes the nest was robbed.'
"'By the powers,' observed Jack, 'he's one of the greatest ould vag—I mane, isn't he a terrible man, out and out, for a father?'
"'Father!' says the darling,—'he's not my father, Jack, he only wishes to marry me and if I'm not able to outdo him before three days more, it's decreed that he must.
"When Jack heard this, surely the Irishman must come out; there he stood, and began to wipe his eyes with the skirt of his coat, making out as if he was crying, the thief of the world. 'What's the matter with you?' she asked.
"'All!' says Jack, 'you darling, I couldn't find it in my heart to desave you; for I have no way at home to keep a lady like you, in proper style, at all at all; I would only bring I you into poverty, and since you wish to know what ails me, I'm vexed that I'm not rich for your sake; and next, that that thieving ould villain's to have you; and, by the powers, I'm crying for both these misfortunes together.'
"The lady could not help being touched and plaised with Jack's tinderness and ginerosity; so, says she, 'Don't be cast down, Jack, come or go what will, I won't marry him—I'd die first. Do you go home as usual; but take care and don't sleep at all this night. Saddle the wild filly—meet me under the whitethorn bush at the end of the lawn, and we'll both leave him for ever. If you're willin' to marry me, don't let poverty distress you, for I have more money than we'll know what to do with.'
"Jack's voice now began to tremble in airnest, with downright love and tinderness, as good right it had; so he promised to do everything just as she bid him, and then went home with a dacint appetite enough to his supper.
"You may be sure the ould fellow looked darker and grimmer than ever at Jack: but what could he do? Jack had done his duty? so he sat before the fire, and sung 'Love among the Roses,' and the 'Black Joke,' with a stouter and a lighter heart than ever, while the black chap, could have seen him skivered.
"When midnight came, Jack, who kept a hawk's eye to the night, was at the hawthorn with the wild filly, saddled and all—more betoken, she wasn't a bit wild then, but as tame as a dog. Off they set, like Erin-go-bragh, Jack and the lady, and never pulled bridle till it was one o'clock next day, when they stopped at an inn, and had some refreshment. They then took to the road again, full speed; however, they hadn't gone far, when they heard a great noise behind them, and the tramp of horses galloping like mad. 'Jack,' says the darling, on hearing the hubbub, 'look behind you, and see what's this.'
"'Och! by the elevens,' says Jack, 'we're done at last; it's the dark fellow, and half the country after us.' 'Put your hand,' says she, 'in the filly's right ear, and tell me what you find in it.' 'Nothing at all,' says Jack, 'but a weeshy bit of a dry stick.' 'Throw it over your left shoulder says she, 'and see what will happen.' Jack did so at once, and there was a great grove of thick trees growing so close to one another, that a dandy could scarcely get his arm betwixt them. 'Now,' said she, 'we are safe for another day.' 'Well,' said Jack, as he pushed on the filly, 'you're the jewel of the world, sure enough; and maybe it's you that won't live happy when we get to the Jim of the Ocean.'
"As soon as dark-face saw what happened, he was obliged to scour the country for hatchets and hand-saws, and all kinds of sharp instruments, to hew himself and his men a passage through the grove. As the saying goes, many hands make light work, and sure enough, it wasn't long till they had cleared a way for themselves, thick as it was, and set off with double speed after Jack and the lady.
"The next day, about' one o'clock, he and she were after taking another small refreshment of roast-beef and porther, and pushing on, as before, when they heard the same tramping behind them, only it was ten times louder.
"'Here they are again,' says Jack; 'and I'm afeard they'll come up with us at last.'
"'If they do,' says she, 'they'll put us to death on the spot; but we must try somehow to stop them another day, if we can; search the filly's right ear again, and let me know what you find in it.'
"Jack pulled out a little three-cornered pebble, telling her that it was all he got; 'well,' says she, 'throw it over your left shoulder like the stick.'
"No sooner said than done; and there was a great chain of high, sharp rocks in the way of divel-face and all his clan. 'Now,' says she, 'we have gained another day.' 'Tundher-and-turf!' says Jack, 'what's this for, at all, at all?—but wait till I get you in the Immerald Isle, for this, and if you don't enjoy happy days any how, why I'm not sitting before you on this horse, by the same token that it's not a horse at all, but a filly though; if you don't get the hoith of good aiting and drinking—lashings of the best wine and whisky that the land can afford, my name's not Jack. We'll build a castle, and you'll have upstairs and downstairs—a coach and six to ride in—lots of sarvints to attend on you, and full and plinty of everything; not to mintion—hem!—not to mintion that you'll have a husband that the fairest lady in the land might be proud of,' says he, stretching himself up in the saddle, and giving the filly a jag of the spurs, to show off a bit; although the coaxing rogue knew that the money which was to do all this was her own. At any rate, they spent the remainder of this day pleasantly enough, still moving on, though, as fast as they could. Jack, every now and then, would throw an eye behind, as if to watch their pursuers, wherein, if the truth was known, it was to get a peep at the beautiful glowing face and warm lips that were breathing all kinds of fragrancies about him. I'll warrant he didn't envy the king upon his throne, when he felt the honeysuckle of her breath, like the smell of Father Ned's orchard there, of a May morning.
"When Fardorougha (* the dark man) found the great chain of rocks before him, you may set it down that he was likely to blow up with vexation; but, for all that, the first thing he blew up was the rocks—and that he might lose little or no time in doing it, he collected all the gunpowder and crowbars, spades and pickaxes, that could be found for miles about him, and set to it, working as if it was with inch of candle. For half a day there was nothing but boring and splitting, and driving of iron wedges, and blowing up pieces of rocks as big as little houses, until, by hard, labor, they made a passage for themselves sufficient to carry them over. They then set off again, full speed; and great advantage they had over the poor filly that Jack and the lady rode on, for their horses were well rested, and hadn't to carry double, like Jack's. The next day they spied Jack and his beautiful companion, just about a quarter of a mile before them.
"'Now,' says dark-brow, 'I'll make any man's fortune forever that will bring me them two, either living or dead, but, if possible, alive: so, spur on, for whoever secures them, man, woman, or child, is a made man, but, above all, make no noise.'
"It was now divil take the hindmost among the bloody pack—every spur was red with blood, and every horse smoking. Jack and the lady were jogging on acrass a green field, not suspecting that the rest were so near them, and talking over the pleasant days they would spind together in Ireland, when they hears the hue-and-cry once more at their very heels.
"'Quick as lightning, Jack,' says she, 'or we're lost—the right ear and the left shoulder, like thought—they're not three lengths of the filly from us!'
"But Jack knew his business; for just as a long, grim-looking villain, with a great rusty rapier in his hand, was within a single leap of them, and quite sure of either killing or making prisoners of them both, Jack flings a little drop of green water that he got in the filly's ear over his left shoulder, and in an instant there was a deep, dark gulf, filled with black, pitchy-looking water between them. The lady now desired Jack to pull up the filly a bit, that they might see what would become of the dark fellow; but just as they turned round, the ould nagur set 'spurs to his horse, and, in a fit of desperation, plunged himself, horse and all, into the gulf, and was never seen or heard of more. The rest that were with him went home, and began to quarrel about his wealth, and kept murdering and killing one another, until a single vagabond of them wasn't left alive to enjoy it.
"When Jack saw what happened, and that the blood-thirsty ould villain got what he desarved so richly, he was as happy as a prince, and ten times happier than most of them as the world goes, and she was every bit as delighted. 'We have nothing more to fear,' said the darling that put them all down so cleverly, seeing that she was but a woman; but, bedad, it's she was the right sort of a woman—'all our dangers are now over, at least, all yours are; regarding myself,' says she, 'there's a trial before me yet, and that trial, Jack, depends upon your faithfulness and constancy.'
"'On me, is it?—Och, then, murder! isn't it a poor case entirely, that I have no way of showing you that you may depind your life upon me, only by telling you so?'
"'I do depend upon you,' says she—'and now, as you love me, do not, when the trial comes, forget her that saved you out of so many troubles, and made you such a great and wealthy man.'
"The foregoing part of this Jack could well understand, but the last part of it, making collusion to the wealth, was a little dark, as he thought, bekase, he hadn't fingered any of it at the time: still, he knew she was truth to the back-bone, and wouldn't desave him. They hadn't travelled much farther, When Jack snaps his fingers with a 'Whoo! by the powers, there it is, my darling—there it is, at long last!'
"'There is what, Jack?' said she, surprised, as well she might, at his mirth and happiness—'There is what?' says she. 'Cheer up!' says Jack; 'there it is, my darling,—the Shannon!—as soon as we get to the other side of it, we'll be in ould Ireland once more.'
"There was no end to Jack's good humor, when he crossed the Shannon; and she was not a bit displeased to see him so happy. They had now no enemies to fear, were in a civilized country, and among green fields and well-bred people. In this way they travelled at their ase, till they came within a few miles of the town of Knockimdowny, near which Jack's mother lived.
"'Now, Jack,' says she, 'I told you that I would make you rich. You know the rock beside your mother's cabin; in the east end of that rock there is a loose stone, covered over with gray moss, just two feet below the cleft out of which the hanging rowan-tree grows—pull that stone out, and you will find more goold than would make a duke. Neither speak to any person, nor let any living thing touch your lips till you come back to me, or you'll forget that you ever saw me, and I'll lie left poor and friendless in a strange, country.'
"'Why, thin, manim asthee hu,' (* My soul's within you.) says Jack, 'but the best way to guard against that, is to touch your own sweet lips at the present time,' says he, giving her a smack that you'd hear, of a calm evening, acrass a couple of fields. Jack set off to touch the money, with such speed that when he fell he scarcely waited to rise again; he was soon at the rock, any how, and without either doubt or disparagement, there was a cleft of real goolden guineas, as fresh as daisies. The first thing he did, after he had filled his pockets with them, was to look if his mother's cabin was to the fore; and there surely it was, as snug as ever, with the same dacent column of smoke rowling from the chimbley.
"'Well,' thought he, 'I'll just stale over to the door-cheek, and peep in to get one sight of my poor mother; then I'll throw her in a handful of these guineas, and take to my scrapers.'
"Accordingly, he stole up at a half bend to the door, and was just going to take a peep in, when out comes the little dog Trig, and begins to leap and fawn upon him, as if it would eat him. The mother, too, came running out to see what was the matter, when the dog made another spring up about Jack's neck, and gave his lips the slightest lick in the world with its tongue, the crathur was so glad to see him: the next minute, Jack forgot the lady, as clane as if he had never seen her; but if he forgot her, catch him at forgetting the money—not he, avick!—that stuck to him like pitch.
"When the mother saw who it was, she flew to him, and, clasping her arms about his neck, hugged him till she wasn't worth three halfpence. After Jack sot a while, he made a trial to let her know what had happened him, but he disremembered it all, except having the money in the rock, so he up and tould her that, and a glad woman she was to hear of his good fortune. Still he kept the place where the goold was to himself, having been often forbid by her ever to trust a woman with a sacret when he could avoid it.
"Now everybody knows what changes the money makes, and Jack was no exception to this ould saying. In a few years he built himself a fine castle, with three hundred and sixty-four windies in it, and he would have added another, to make one for every day in the year, only that would be equal to the number in the King's palace, and the Lord of the Black Rod would be sent to take his head off, it being high thrason for a subject to have as many windies in his house as the king. (* Such is the popular opinion.) However, Jack, at any rate, had enough of them; and he that couldn't be happy with three hundred and sixty-four, wouldn't desarve to have three hundred and sixty-five. Along with all this, he bought coaches and carriages, and didn't get proud like many another beggarly upstart, but took especial good care of his mother, whom he dressed in silks and satins, and gave her nice nourishing food, that was fit for an ould woman in her condition. He also got great tachers, men of great larning, from Dublin, acquainted with all subjects; and as his own abilities were bright, he soon became a very great scholar, entirely, and was able, in the long run, to outdo all his tutherers.
"In this way he lived for some years—was now a man of great larning himself—could spake the seven langidges, and it would delight your ears to hear how high-flown and Englified he could talk. All the world wondered where he got his wealth; but as he was kind and charitable to every one that stood in need of assistance, the people said that wherever he got it it couldn't be in better hands. At last he began to look about him for a wife, and the only one in that part of the country that would be at all fit for him, was the Honorable Miss Bandbox, the daughter of a nobleman in the neighborhood. She indeed flogged all the world for beauty; but it was said that she was proud and fond of wealth, though, God he knows, she had enough of that any how. Jack, however, saw none of this; for she was cunning enough to smile, and simper, and look pleasant, whenever he'd come to her father's. Well, begad, from one thing, and one word, to another, Jack thought it was best to make up to her at wanst, and try if she'd accept of him for a husband; accordingly he put the word to her like a man, and she, making as if she was blushing, put her fan before her face and made no answer. Jack, however, wasn't to be daunted; for he knew two things worth knowing, when a man goes to look for a wife: the first is—that 'faint heart never won fair lady,' and the second—that 'silence gives consint;' he, therefore, spoke up to her in fine English, for it's he that knew how to speak now, and after a little more fanning and blushing, by jingo, she consinted. Jack then broke the matter to her father, who was as fond of money as the daughter, and only wanted to grab at him for the wealth.