"When the match was a making, says ould Bandbox to Jack, 'Mr. Magennis,' says he, (for nobody called him Jack now but his mother)—'these two things you must comply with, if you marry my daughter, Miss Gripsy:—you must send away your mother from about you, and pull down the cabin in which you and she used to live; Gripsy says that they would jog her memory consarning your low birth and former poverty; she's nervous and high-spirited, Mr. Magennis, and declares upon her honor that she couldn't bear the thoughts of having the delicacy of her feeling offinded by these things.'
"'Good morning to you both,' says Jack, like an honest fellow as he was, 'if she doesn't marry me except on these conditions, give her my compliments, and tell her our courtship is at an end.'
"But it wasn't long till they soon came out with another story, for before a week passed they were very glad to get him on his own conditions. Jack was now as happy as the day was long—all things appointed for the wedding, and nothing a wanting to make everything to his heart's content but the wife, and her he was to have in less than no time. For a day or two before the wedding, there never was seen such grand preparations: bullocks, and hogs, and sheep were roasted whole—kegs of whiskey, both Roscrea and Innishowen, barrels of ale and beer were there in dozens. All descriptions of niceties and wild-fowl, and fish from the say; and the dearest wine that could be bought with money, was got for the gentry and grand folks. Fiddlers, and pipers, and harpers, in short all kinds of music and musicianers, played in shoals. Lords and ladies, and squares of high degree were present—and, to crown the thing, there was open house to all comers.
"At length the wedding-day arrived; there was nothing but roasting and boiling; servants dressed in rich liveries ran about with joy and delight in their countenances, and white gloves and wedding favors on their hats and hands. To make a long story short, they were all seated in Jack's castle at the wedding breakfast, ready for the priest to marry them when they'd be done; for in them times people were never married until they had laid in a good foundation to carry them through the ceremony. Well, they were all seated round the table, the men dressed in the best of broadcloth, and the ladies rustling in their silks and satins—their heads, necks, and arms hung round with jewels both rich and rare; but of all that were there that day, there wasn't the likes of the bride and bridegroom. As for him, nobody could think, at all at all, that he was ever any thing else than a born gintleman; and what was more to his credit, he had his kind ould mother sitting beside the bride, to tache her that an honest person, though poorly born, is company for the king. As soon as the breakfast was served up, they all set to, and maybe the various kinds of eatables did not pay for it; and among all this cutting and thrusting, no doubt but it was remarked, that the bride herself was behindhand wid none of them—that she took her dalin-trick without flinching, and made nothing less than a right fog meal of it; and small blame to her for that same, you persave.
"When the breakfast was over, up gets Father Flannagan—out with his book, and on with his stole, to marry them. The bride and bridegroom went up to the end of the room, attended by their friends, and the rest of the company stood on each side of it, for you see they were too high bred, and knew their manners too well, to stand in a crowd like spalpeens. For all that, there was many a sly look from the ladies to their bachelors, and many a titter among them, grand as they were; for, to tell the truth, the best of them likes to see fun in the way, particularly of that sort. The priest himself was in as great a glee as any of them, only he kept it under, and well he might, for sure enough this marriage was nothing less than a rare windfall to him and the parson that was to marry them after him—bekase you persave a Protestant and Catholic must be married by both, otherwise it does not hould good in law. The parson was as grave as a mustard-pot, and Father Flannagan called the bride and bridegroom his childher, which was a big bounce for him to say the likes of, more betoken that neither of them was a drop's blood to him.
"However, he pulled out the book, and was just beginning to buckle them when in comes Jack's ould acquaintance, the smoking cur, as grave as ever. The priest had just got through two or three words of Latin, when the dog gives him a pluck by the sleeve; Father Flannagan, of coorse, turned round to see who it was that nudged him: 'Behave yourself,' says the dog to him, just as he peeped over his shoulder—-'behave yourself,' says he; and with that he sat him down on his hunkers beside the priest, and pulling a cigar instead of a pipe out of his pocket, he put it in his mouth, and began to smoke for the bare life of him. And, by my own word, it's he that could smoke: at times he would shoot the smoke in a slender stream like a knitting-needle, with a round curl at the one end of it, ever so far out of the right side of his mouth; then he would shoot it out of the left, and sometimes make it swirl out so beautiful from the middle of his lips!—why, then, it's he that must have been the well-bred puppy all out, as far as smoking went. Father Flannagan and they all were thundherstruck.
"'In the name of St. Anthony, and of that holy nun, St. Teresa,' said his Reverence to him, 'who and what are you, at all at all?'
"'Never mind that,' says the dog, taking the cigar for a minute between his claws; 'but if you wish particularly to know, I'm a thirty-second cousin of your own by the mother's side.'
"'I command you in the name of all the saints,' says Father Flarmagan, believing him to be the devil, 'to disappear from among us, and never become visible to any one in this house again.'
"'The sorra a budge, at the present time, will I budge,' says the dog to him, 'until I see all sides rightified, and the rogues disappointed.'
"Now one would be apt to think the appearance of a spaking dog might be after fright'ning the ladies; but doesn't all the world know that spaking puppies are their greatest favorites? Instead of that, you see, there was half a dozen fierce-looking whiskered fellows, and three or four half-pay officers, that were nearer making off than the ladies. But, besides the cigar, the dog had his beautiful eye-glass, and through it, while he was spaking to Father Flannigan, he ogled all the ladies, one after another, and when his eye would light upon any that pleased him, he would kiss his paw to her and wag his tail with the greatest politeness.
"'John,' says Father Flannagan, to one of the servants, 'bring me salt and water, till I consecrate them* to banish the divil, for he has appeared to us all during broad daylight in the shape of a dog.'
* Salt and water consecrated by a particular form is Holy Water.
"'You had better behave yourself, I say again,' says the dog, 'or if you make me speak, by my honor as a gintleman I'll expose you: I say you won't marry the same two, neither this nor any other day, and I'll give you my raisons presently; but I repate it, Father Flannagan, if you compel me to speak, I'll make you look nine ways at once.'
"'I defy you, Satan,' says the priest; 'and if you don't take yourself away before the holy watcher's made, I'll send you off in a flame of fire.'
"'Oh! yes, I'm trimbling,' says the dog: 'plenty of spirits you laid in your day, but it was in a place that's nearer to us than the Red Sea, you did it: listen to me though, for I don't wish to expose you, as I said;' so he gets on his hind legs, puts his nose to the priest's ear, and whispers something that none of the rest could hear—all before the priest had time to know where he was. At any rate, whatever he said seemed to make his Reverence look double, though, faix, that wasn't hard to do, for he was as big as two common men. When the dog was done speaking, and had put his cigar in his mouth, the priest seemed thundherstruck, crossed himself, and was, no doubt of it, in great perplexity.
"'I say it's false,' says Father Flannagan, plucking up his courage; 'but you know you're a liar, and the father of liars.'
"'As thrue as gospel, this bout, I tell you,' says the dog.
"'Wait till I make my holy wather,' says the priest, 'and if I don't cork you in a thumb-bottle for this,* I'm not here.'
* According to the superstitious belief of the Irish, a priest, when banishing a spirit, puts it into a thumb- bottle, which he either buries deep in the earth, or in some lake.
"Just at this minute, the whole company sees a gintleman galloping for the bare life of him, up to the hall-door, and he dressed like an officer. In three jiffeys he was down off his horse, and in among the company. The dog, as soon as he made his appearance, laid his claw as usual on his nose, and gave the bridegroom a wink, as much as to say, 'watch what'll happen.'
"Now it was very odd that Jack, during all this time, remembered the dog very well, but could never once think of the darling that did so much for him. As soon, however, as the officer made his appearance, the bride seemed as if she would sink outright; and when he walked up to her, to ax what was the meaning of what he saw, why, down she drops at once—fainted clane. The gintleman then went up to Jack, and says, 'Sir, was this lady about to be married to you?'
"'Sartinly,' says Jack, 'we were going to be yoked in the blessed and holy tackle of mathrimony;' or some high-flown words of that kind.
"'Well, sir,' says the other back to him, 'I can only say that she is most solemniously sworn never to marry another man but me at a time; that oath she tuck when I was joining my regiment before it went abroad; and if the ceremony of your marriage be performed, you will sleep with a perjured bride.'
"Begad, he did plump before all their faces. Jack, of coorse, was struck all of aghape at this; but as he had the bride in his arms, giving her a little sup of whiskey to bring her to, you persave, he couldn't make him an answer. However, she soon came to herself, and, on opening her eyes, 'Oh, hide me, hide me,' says she, 'for I can't bear to look on him!'
"'He says you are his sworn bride, my darling,' says Jack.
"'I am—I am,' says she, covering her eyes, and crying away at the rate of a wedding: 'I can't deny it; and, by tare-an-ounty!' says she, 'I'm unworthy to be either his wife or yours; for, except I marry you both, I dunna how to settle this affair between you at all;—oh, murther sheery! but I'm the misfortunate crathur, entirely.'
"'Well,' says Jack to the officer, 'nobody can do more than be sorry for a wrong turn; small blame to her for taking a fancy to your humble servant, Mr. Officer,'—and he stood as tall as possible to show himself off: 'you see the fair lady is sorrowful for her folly, so as it's not yet too late, and as you came in the nick of time, in the name of Providence take my place, and let the marriage go an.'
"'No,' says she, 'never; I'm not worthy of him, at all, at all; thundher-an-age, but I'm the unlucky thief!'
"While this was going forward, the officer looked closely at Jack, and seeing him such a fine, handsome fellow, and having heard before of his riches, he began to think that, all things considhered, she wasn't so much to be blempt. Then, when he saw how sorry she was for having forgot him, he steps forrid.
"'Well,' says he, 'I'm still willing to marry you, particularly as you feel conthrition—'"
"He should have said contrition, confession, and satisfaction," observed Father Peter.
"Pettier, will you keep your theology to yourself," replied Father Ned, "and let us come to the plot without interruption."
"Plot!" exclaimed Father Peter; "I'm sure it's no rebellion that there should be a plot in it, any way!"
"Tace," said Father Ned—"tace, and that's Latin for a candle."
"I deny that," said the curate; "tace is the imperative mood from tacco, to keep silent. Tacco, taces, tacui, tacere, tacendi, tacendo tac—"
"Ned, go on with your story, and never mind that deep larning of his—he's almost cracked with it," said the superior: "go on, and never mind him."
"'Well,' says he, 'I'm still willing to marry you, particularly as you feel conthrition for what you were going to do.' So, with this, they all gother about her, and, as the officer was a fine fellow himself, prevailed upon her to let the marriage be performed, and they were accordingly spliced as fast as his Reverence could make them.
"'Now, Jack,' says the dog, 'I want to spake with you for a minute—it's a word for your own ear;' so up he stands on his two hind legs, and purtinded to be whisp'ring something to him; but what do you think?—he gives him the slightest touch on the lips with his paw, and that instant Jack remimbered the lady and everything that happened betune them.
"'Tell me, this instant,' says Jack, seizing him by the throat, 'where's the darling, at all, at all, or by this and by that you'll hang on the next tree!'
"Jack spoke finer nor this, to be sure, but as I can't give his tall English, the sorra one of me will bother myself striving to do it.
"'Behave yourself,' says the dog, 'just say nothing, only follow me.'
"Accordingly, Jack went out with the dog, and in a few minutes comes in again, leading along with him, on the one side, the loveliest lady that ever eye beheld, and the dog, that was her brother, metamurphied into a beautiful, illegant gintleman, on the other.
"'Father Flannagan,' says Jack, 'you thought a little while ago you'd have no marriage, but instead of that you'll have a brace of them;' up and telling the company, at the same time, all that had happened to him, and how the beautiful crathur that he had brought in with him had done so much for him.
"Whin the gintlemen heard this, as they Were all Irishmen, you may be sure there was nothing but huzzaing and throwing up of hats from them, and waving of hankerchers from the ladies. Well, my dear, the wedding dinner was ate in great style; the nobleman proved himself no disgrace to his rank at the trencher; and so, to make a long story short, such faisting and banquetteering was never since or before. At last, night came; among ourselves, not a doubt of it, but Jack thought himself a happy man; and maybe, if all was known, the bride was much in the same opinion: be that as it may, night came—the bride, all blushing, beautiful, and modest as your own sweetheart, was getting tired after the dancing; Jack, too, though much stouter, wished for a trifle of repose, and many thought it was near time to throw the stocking, as is proper, of coorse, on every occasion of the kind. Well, he was just on his way up stairs, and had reached the first landing, when he hears a voice at his ear, shouting, 'Jack—Jack—Jack Magennis!' Jack could have spitted anybody for coming to disturb him at such a criticality. 'Jack Magennis!' says the voice. Jack looked about to see who it was that called him, and there he found himself lying on the green Rath, a little above his mother's cabin, of a fine, calm summer's evening, in the month of June. His mother was stooping over him, with her mouth at his ear, striving to waken him, by shouting and shaking him out of his sleep.
"'Oh! by this and by that, mother,' says Jack, 'what did you waken me for?'
"'Jack, avourneen,' says the mother, 'sure and you war lying grunting, and groaning, and snifthering there, for all the world as if you had the cholic, and I only nudged you for fraid you war in pain.'
"'I wouldn't for a thousand guineas,' says Jack, 'that ever you wakened me, at all, at all; but whisht, mother, go into the house, and I'll be afther you in less than no time.'
"The mother went in, and the first thing Jack did was to try the rock; and, sure enough, there he found as much money as made him the richest man that ever was in the country. And what was to his credit, when, he did grow rich, he wouldn't let his cabin be thrown down, but built a fine castle on a spot near it, where he could always have it under his eye, to prevent him from getting proud. In the coorse of time, a harper, hearing the story, composed a tune upon it, which every body knows is called the 'Little House under the Hill' to this day, beginning with—
'Hi for it, ho for it, hi for it still; Och, and whoo! your sowl—hi for the little house under the hill!'
"So you see that was the way the great Magennisses first came by their wealth, and all because Jack was indistrious, and an obadient, dutiful, and tindher son to his helpless ould mother, and well he deserved what he got, ershi misha (* Say I.) Your healths, Father Ned—Father Pether—all kinds of happiness to us; and there's my story."
* * * * *
"Well," said Father Peter, "I think that dog was nothing more or less than a downright cur, that deserved the lash nine times a day, if it was only for his want of respect to the clergy; if he had given me such insolence, I solemnly declare I would have bate the devil out of him with a hazel cudgel, if I failed to exorcise him with a prayer."
Father Ned looked at the simple and credulous curate with an expression of humor and astonishment.
"Paddy," said he to the servant, "will you let us know what the night's doing?"
Paddy looked out. "Why, your Rev'rence, it's a fine night, all out, and cleared up it is bravely."
At this moment the stranger awoke.
"Sir," said Father Ned, "you missed an amusing story, in consequence of your somnolency."
"Though I missed the story," replied the stranger, "I was happy enough to hear your friend's critique upon the dog."
Father Ned seemed embarrassed; the curate, on the contrary, exclaimed with triumph—"but wasn't I right, sir?"
"Perfectly," said the stranger; "the moral you applied was excellent."
"Good-night, boys," said Father Ned—"good-night, Mr. Longinus Polysyllabus Alexandrinus!"
"Good-night, boys," said Father Peter, imitating Father Ned, whom he looked upon as a perfect model of courtesy—"Good-night, boys—good night, Mr. Longinus Polysyllabus Alexandrinus."
"Good-night," replied the stranger—"good-night, Doctor Edward Deleery; and good-night, Doctor Peter M'Clatchaghan—good-night."
When the clergymen were gone, the circle about the fire, excepting the members of Ned's family and the stranger, dispersed to their respective homes; and thus ended the amusement of that evening.
After they had separated, Ned, whose curiosity respecting the stranger was by no means satisfied, began to sift him in his own peculiar manner, as they both sat at the fire.
"Well, sir," said Ned, "barring the long play-acther that tumbles upon the big stage in the street of our market-town, here below, I haven't seen so long a man this many a day; and, barring your big whiskers, the sorra one of your honor's unlike him. A fine portly vagabone he is, indeed—a big man, and a bigger rogue, they say, for he pays nobody."
"Have you got such a company in your neighborhood?" inquired the stranger, with indifference.
"We have, sir," said Ned, "but, plase goodness, they'll soon be lashed like hounds from the place—the town boys are preparing to give them a chivey some fine morning out of the country."
"Indeed!—he—hem! that will be very spirited of the town boys," said the stranger dryly.
"That's a smart looking horse your honor rides," observed Ned; "did he carry you far to-day, with submission?"
"Not far," replied his companion—"only fourteen miles; but, I suppose, the fact is, you wish to know who and what I am, where I came from and whither I am going. Well, you shall know this. In the first place, I am agent to Lord Non Resident's estate, if you ever heard of that nobleman, and am on my way from Castle Ruin, the seat of his Lordship's Incumbrances, to Dublin. My name you have already heard. Are you now satisfied?"
"Parfitly, your honor," replied Ned, "and I am much obliged to you, sir."
"I trust you are an honest man," said the stranger, "because for this night I am about to place great confidence in you."
"Well, sir," said his landlord, "if I turn out dishonest to you, it's more nor I did in my whole life to any body else, barring to Nancy."
"Here, then," said the stranger, drawing out a large packet, inclosed in a roll of black leather—"here is the half year's rent of the estate, together with my own property: keep it secure till morning, when I shall demand it, and, of course, it will be safe?"
"As if it was five fadom, under ground," replied Ned. "I will put it along with our own trifle of silver; and after that, let Nancy alone for keeping it safe, so long as it's there;" saying which, Ned secured the packet, and showed the stranger his bed.
About five o'clock the next morning their guest was up, and ordered a snack in all haste; "Being a military man," said he, "and accustomed to timely hours, I shall ride down to the town, and put a letter into the post-office in time for the Dublin mail, after which you may expect me to breakfast. But, in the meantime, I am not to go with empty pockets," he added; when mounting his horse at the door—"bring me some silver, landlord, and be quick."
"How much, plase your honor?"
"Twenty or thirty shillings; but, harkee, produce my packet, that I may be quite certain my property is safe."
"Here it is, your honor, safe and sound," replied Ned, returning from within; "and Nancy, sir, has sent you all the silver she has, which was One Pound Five; but I'd take it as a favor if your honor would be contint with twenty shillings, and lave me the odd five, for you see the case is this, sir, plase your honor, she," and Ned, with a shrewd, humorous nod, pointed with his thumb over his shoulder, as he spoke— "she wears the —— what you know, sir."
"Ay, I thought so," replied the stranger; "but a man of your size to be henpecked must be a great knave, otherwise your wife would allow you more liberty. Go in, man; you deserve no compassion in such an age of freedom as this. I sha'n't give you a farthing till after my return, and only then if it be agreeable to your wife."*
* Ned M'Keown was certainly a very remarkable individual, and became, in consequence of his appearance in these pages, a person of considerable notoriety during the latter years of his life. His general character, and the nature of his unsuccessful speculations, I have drawn with great truth. There is only one point alone in which I have done him injustice, and that is in depicting him as a henpecked husband. The truth is, I had a kind of good humored pique in against Ned, and for the following reasons:—The cross-roads at which he lived formed a central point for all the youngsters of the neighborhood to assemble for the purpose of practising athletic exercises, of which I, in my youth, was excessively fond. Now Ned never would suffer me to join my young acquaintances in these harmless and healthful sports, but on every occasion, whenever he saw me, he would run out with,a rod or cudgel and chase me from the scene of amusement. This, to a boy so enthusiastically devoted to such diversions as I was, often occasioned me to give him many a hearty malediction when at a safe distance. In fact, he continued this practice until I became too much of a man to run away, after which he durst only growl and mutter abuse, whilst I snapped my fingers at him. For this reason, then, and remembering all the vexatious privations of my favorite sports which he occasioned me, I resolved to turn the laugh against him, which I did effectually, by bringing him out in the character of a hen-pecked husband, which was indeed very decidedly opposed to his real one. My triumph was complete, and Ned, on hearing himself read of "in a book," waxed indignant and wrathful. In speaking of me he could not for the life of him express any other idea of my age and person than that by which he last remembered me. "What do you think?" he would exclaim, "there's that young Carleton has put me in a book, and made Nancy leather me!" Ned survived Nancy several years, and married another wife, whom I never saw. About twenty-five years ago he went to America, where he undertook to act as a tanner, and nearly ruined his employer. After some time he returned, home, and was forced to mend roads. Towards the close of his life, however, he contrived to get an ass and cart, and became egg-merchant, but I believe with his usual success. In this last capacity, I think about two years ago, he withdrew from all his cares and speculations, and left behind him the character of an honest, bustlin, good-humored man, whom everybody knew and everybody liked, and whose harmless eccentricities many will long remember with good-humor and regret.
"Murdher!" said Ned, astonished, "I beg your honor's pardon; but murdher alive, sir, where's your whiskers?"
The stranger put his hand hastily to his face, and smiled—"Where are my whiskers? Why, shaved off, to be sure," he replied; and setting spurs to his horse, was soon out of sight and hearing.
It was nearly a month after that, when Ned and Nancy, in presence of Father Deleery, opened the packet, and. discovered, not the half-year's rent of Lord Non-Resident's estate, but a large sheaf of play-bills packed up together—their guest having been the identical person to whom Ned affirmed he bore so strong a resemblance.
SHANE FADH'S WEDDING.
On the following evening, the neighbors were soon assembled about Ned's hearth in the same manner as on the night preceding:—And we may observe, by the way, that though there was a due admixture of opposite creeds and conflicting principles, yet even then, and the time is not so far back, such was their cordiality of heart and simplicity of manners when contrasted with the bitter and rancorous spirit of the present day that the very remembrance of the harmony in which they lived is at once pleasing and melancholy.
After some preliminary chat, "Well Shane," said Andy Morrow, addressing Shane Fadh, "will you give us an account of your wedding? I'm tould it was the greatest let-out that ever was in the country, before or since."
"And you may say that, Mr. Morrow," said Shane, "I was at many a wedding myself, but never at the likes of my own, barring Tim Lannigan's, that married Father Corrigan's niece."
"I believe," said Andy, "that, too, was a dashing one; however, it's your own we want. Come, Nancy, fill these measures again, and let us be comfortable, at all events, and give Shane a double one, for talking's druthy work:—I'll stand this round."
When the liquor was got in, Shane, after taking a draught, laid down his pint, pulled out his steel tobacco-box, and, after twisting off a chew between his teeth, closed the box, and commenced the story of his wedding.
"When I was a Brine-Oge,"* said Shane, "I was as wild as an unbroken cowlt—no divilment was too hard for me; and so sign's on it, for there wasn't a piece of mischief done in the parish, but was laid at my door—and the dear knows I had enough of my own to answer for, let alone to be set down for that of other people; but, any way, there was many a thing done in my name, when I knew neither act nor part about it. One of them I'll mintion: Dick Cuillenan, father to Paddy, that lives at the crass-roads, beyant Gunpowdher Lodge, was over head and ears in love with Jemmy Finigan's eldest daughter, Mary, then, sure enough, as purty a girl as you'd meet in a fair—indeed, I think I'm looking at her, with her fair flaxen ringlets hanging over her shoulders, as she used to pass our house, going to mass of a Sunday. God rest her sowl, she's now in glory—that was before she was my wife. Many a happy day we passed together; and I could take it to my death, that an ill word, let alone to rise our hands to one another, never passed between us—only one day, that a word or two happened about the dinner, in the middle of Lent, being a little too late, so that the horses were kept nigh half an hour out of the plough; and I wouldn't have valued that so much, only that it was Beal Cam** Doherty that joined*** me in ploughing that year—and I was vexed not to take all I could out of him, for he was a raal Turk himself.
* A young man full of fun and frolic. The word literally signifies Young Brian. Such phrases originate thus:—A young man remarkable for one or more qualities of a particular nature becomes so famous for them that his name, in the course of time, is applied to others, as conveying the same character.
** Crooked mouth.
***In Ireland, small farmers who cannot afford to keep more than one horse are in the habit of "joining," as it is termed—that is, of putting their horses together so as to form a yoke, when they plough each other's farms, working alternately, sometimes, by the week, half-week, or day; that is, I plough this day, or this week, and you the next day, or week, until our crops are got down. In this case, each is anxious to take as much out of the horses as he can, especially where the farms are unequal. For instance, where one farm is larger than another the difference must be paid by the owner of the larger one in horse-labor, man-labor, or money; but that he may have as little to pay as possible, he ploughs as much for himself, by the day, as he can, and often strives to get the other to do as little per day, on the other side, in order to diminish what will remain due to his partner. There is, consequently, a ludicrous undercurrent of petty jealousy running between them, which explains the passage in question.
"I disremember now what passed between us as to words—but I know I had a duck-egg in my hand, and when she spoke, I raised my arm, and nailed—poor Larry Tracy, our servant boy, between the two eyes with it, although the crathur was ating his dinner quietly fornent me, not saying a word.
"Well, as I tould you, Dick was ever after her, although her father and mother would rather see her under boord* than joined to any of that connection; and as for herself, she couldn't bear the sight of him, he was sich an upsetting, conceited puppy, that thought himself too good for every girl. At any rate, he tried often and often, in fair and market, to get striking up with her; and both coming from and going to mass, 'twas the same way, for ever after and about her, till the state he was in spread over the parish like wild fire. Still, all he could do was of no use; except to bid him the time of day, she never entered into discoorse with him at all at all. But there was no putting the likes of him off; so he got a quart of spirits in his pocket, one night, and without saying a word to mortal, off he sets full speed to her father's, in order to brake the thing to the family.
* In that part of the country where the scene of Shane Fadh's Wedding is laid, the bodies of those who die are not stretched out on a bed, and the face exposed; on the contrary, they are placed generally on the ground, or in a bed, but with a board resting upon two stools or chairs over them. This is covered with a clean sheet, generally borrowed from some wealthier neighbor; so that the person of the deceased is altogether concealed. Over the sheet upon the board, are placed plates of cut tobacco, pipes, snuff, &c. This is what is meant by being "undher boord."
"Mary might be about seventeen at this time, and her mother looked almost as young and fresh as if she hadn't been married at all. When Dick came in, you may be sure they were all surprised at the sight of him; but they were civil people—and the mother wiped a chair, and put it over near the fire for him to sit down upon, waiting to hear what he'd say, or what he wanted, although, they could give a purty good guess as to that!—but they only wished to put him off with as little offince as possible. When Dick sot a while, talking about what the price of hay and oats would be in the following summer, and other subjects that he thought would show his knowledge of farming and cattle, he pulls out his bottle, encouraged to by their civil way of talking—and telling the ould couple, that as he came over on his kailyee,* he had brought a drop in his pocket to sweeten the discoorse, axing Susy Finigan, the mother, for a glass to send it round with—at the same time drawing over his chair close to Mary who was knitting her stocken up beside her little brother Michael, and chatting to the gorsoon, for fraid that Cuillenan might think she paid him any attention.
* Kailyee—a friendly evening visit.
When Dick got alongside of her, he began of coorse, to pull out her needles and spoil her knitting, as is customary before the young people come to close spaking. Mary, howsomever, had no welcome for him; so, says she, 'You ought to know, Dick Cuillenan, who you spake to, before you make the freedom you do'
"'But you don't know, says Dick, 'that I'm a great hand at spoiling the girls' knitting,—it's a fashion I've got,' says he.
"'It's a fashion, then,' says Mary, 'that'll be apt to get you a broken mouth, sometime'.*
* It is no unusual thing in Ireland for a country girl to repulse a fellow whom she thinks beneath her, if not by a flat at least by a flattening refusal; nor is it seldom that the "argumentum fistycuffum" resorted to on such occasions. I have more than once seen a disagreeable lover receive, from that fair hand which he sought, so masterly a blow, that a bleeding nose rewarded his ambition, and silenced for a time his importunity.
"'Then,' says Dick, 'whoever does that must marry me.'
"'And them that gets you, will have a prize to brag of,' says she; 'stop yourself, Cuillenan—-single your freedom, and double your distance, if you plase; I'll cut my coat off no such cloth.'
"'Well, Mary,' says he, 'maybe, if you, don't, as good will; but you won't be so cruel as all that comes to—the worst side of you is out, I think.'
"He was now beginning to make greater freedom; but Mary rises from her seat, and whisks away with herself, her cheek as red as a rose with vexation at the fellow's imperance. 'Very well,' says Dick, 'off you go; but there's as good fish in the say as ever was catched.—I'm sorry to see, Susy,' says he to her mother, 'that Mary's no friend of mine, and I'd be mighty glad to find it otherwise; for, to tell the truth, I'd wish to become connected with the family. In the mane time, hadn't you better get us a glass, till we drink one bottle on the head of it, anyway.'
"'Why, then, Dick Cuillenan,' says the mother, 'I don't wish you anything else than good luck and happiness; but, as to Mary, She's not for you herself, nor would it be a good match between the families at all. Mary is to have her grandfather's sixty guineas; and the two moulleens* that her uncle Jack left her four years ago has brought her a good stock for any farm. Now if she married you, Dick, where's the farm to bring her to?—surely it's not upon them seven acres of stone and bent, upon the long Esker,** that I'd let my daughter go to live. So, Dick, put up your bottle, and in the name of God, go home, boy, and mind your business; but, above all, when you want a wife, go to them that you may have a right to expect, and not to a girl like Mary Finigan, that could lay down guineas where you could hardly find shillings.'
* Cows without horns.
** Esker; a high ridge of land, generally barren and unproductive, when upon a small scale. It is also a ridgy height that runs for many miles through a country.
"'Very well, Susy,' says Dick, nettled enough, as he well might, 'I say to you, just as I say to your daughter, if you be proud there's no force.'"
"But what has this to do with you, Shane?" asked Andy Morrow; "sure we wanted to hear an account of your wedding, but instead of that, it's Dick Cuillenan's history you're giving us."
"That's just it," said Shane; "sure, only for this same Dick, I'd never got Mary Finigan for a wife. Dick took Susy's advice, bekase, after all, the undacent drop was in him? or he'd never have brought the bottle out of the house at all; but, faith he riz up, put the whiskey in his pocket, and went home with a face on him as black as my hat with venom. Well, things passed on till the Christmas following, when one night, after the Finigans had all gone to bed, there comes a crowd of fellows to the door, thumping at it with great violence, and swearing that if the people within wouldn't open it immediately, it would be smashed into smithereens. The family, of coorse, were all alarmed; but somehow or other, Susy herself got suspicious that it might be something about Mary, so up she gets, and sends the daughter to her own bed, and lies down herself in the daughter's.
"In the mane time, Finigan got up, and after lighting a candle, opened the door at once. 'Come, Finigan,' says a strange voice, 'put out the candle, except you wish us to make a candlestick of the thatch,' says he—'or to give you a prod of a bagnet under the ribs,' says he.
"It was a folly for one man to go to bell-the-cat with a whole crowd; so he blew the candle out, and next minute they rushed in, and went as straight as a rule to Mary's bed. The mother all the time lay close, and never said a word. At any rate, what could be expected, only that, do what she could, at the long-run she must go? So according, after a very hard battle on her side, being a powerful woman, she was obliged to travel—but not till she had left many of them marks to remimber her by; among the rest, Dick himself got his nose split on his face, with the stroke of a churn-staff, so that he carried half a nose on each cheek till the day of his death. Still there was very little spoke, for they didn't wish to betray themselves on any side. The only thing that Finigan could hear, was my name repeated several times, as if the whole thing was going on under my direction; for Dick thought, that if there was any one in the parish likely to be set down for it, it was me.
"When Susy found they were for putting her behind one of them, on a horse, she rebelled again, and it took near a dozen of boys to hoist her up; but one vagabone of them, that had a rusty broad-sword in his hand, gave her a skelp with the flat side of it, that subdued her at once, and off they went. Now, above all nights in the year, who should be dead but my own full cousin, Denis Fadh—God be good to him!—and I, and Jack, and Dan, his brothers, while bringing; home whiskey for the wake and berrin, met them on the road. At first we thought them distant relations coming to the wake, but when I saw only one woman among the set, and she mounted on a horse, I began to suspect that all wasn't right. I accordingly turned back a bit, and walked near enough without their seeing me to hear the discoorse, and discover the whole business. In less than no time I was back at the wake-house, so I up and tould them what I saw, and off we set, about forty of us, with good cudgels, scythe-sneds, and flails, fully bent to bring her back from them, come or go what would. And troth, sure enough, we did it; and I was the man myself, that rode afore the mother on the same horse that carried her off.
"From this out, when and wherever I got an opportunity, I whispered the soft nonsense, Nancy, into poor Mary's ear, until I put my comedher* on her, and she couldn't live at all without me. But I was something for a woman to look at then, any how, standing six feet two in my stocking soles, which, you know, made them call me Shane Fadh.** At that time I had a dacent farm of fourteen acres in Crocknagooran—the same that my son, Ned, has at the present time; and though, as to wealth, by no manner of manes fit to compare with the Finigans, yet, upon the whole, she might have made a worse match. The father, however, wasn't for me; but the mother was: so after drinking a bottle or two with the mother, Sarah Traynor, her cousin, and Mary, along with Jack Donnellan, on my part, in their own barn, unknown to the father, we agreed to make, a runaway match of it, and appointed my uncle Brian Slevin's as the house we'd go to. The next Sunday was the day appointed; so I had my uncle's family prepared, and sent two gallons of whiskey, to be there before us, knowing that neither the Finigans nor my own friends liked stinginess.
* Comedher—come hither—alluding to the burden of an old love-charm which is still used by the young of both sexes on May-morning. It is a literal translation of the Irish word "gutsho."
** Fadh is tall, or long
"Well, well, after all, the world is a strange thing—it's myself hardly knows what to make of it. It's I that did doat night and day upon that girl; and indeed there was them that could have seen me in Jimmaiky for her sake, for she was the beauty of the country, not to say of the parish, for a girl in her station. For my part, I could neither ate nor sleep, for thinking that she was so soon to be my own married wife, and to live under my roof. And when I'd think of it, how my heart would bounce to my throat, with downright joy and delight! The mother had made us promise not to meet till Sunday, for fraid of the father becoming suspicious: but if I was to be shot for it, I couldn't hinder myself from going every night to the great flowering whitethorn that was behind their garden; and although she knew I hadn't promised to come, yet there she still was; something, she said, tould her I would come.
"The next Sunday we met at Althadhawan wood, and I'll never forget what I felt when I was going to the green at St. Patrick's Chair, where the boys and girls meet on Sunday; but there she was—the bright eyes dancing: with joy in her head to see me. We spent the evening in the wood, till it was dusk—I bating them all leaping, dancing, and throwing the stone; for, by my song, I thought I had the action of ten men in me; she looking on, and smiling like an angel, when I'd lave them miles behind me. As it grew dusk, they all went home, except herself and me, and a few more who, maybe, had something of the same kind on hands.
"'Well Mary,' says I, 'acushla machree, it's dark enough for us to go; and, in the name of God, let us be off."
"The crathur looked into my face, and got pale—for she was very young then: 'Shane,' says she, and she thrimbled like an aspen lafe, 'I'm going to trust myself with—you for ever—for ever, Shane, avourueen,—and her sweet voice broke into purty murmurs as she spoke; 'whether for happiness or sorrow God he only knows. I can bear poverty and distress, sickness and want will' you, but I can't bear to think that you should ever forget to love me as you do now, or your heart should ever cool to me: but I'm sure,' says she, 'you'll never forget this night—and the solemn promises you made me, before God and the blessed skies above us.'
"We were sitting at the time under the shade of a rowan-tree, and I had only one answer to make—I pulled her to my breast, where she laid her head and cried like a child with her cheek against mine. My own eyes weren't dry, although I felt no sorrow, but—but—I never forgot that night—and I never will."
He now paused a few minutes, being too much affected to proceed.
"Poor Shane," said Nancy, in a whisper to Andy Morrow, "night and day he's thinking about that woman; she's now dead going on a year, and you would think by him, although he bears up very well before company that she died only yestherday—but indeed it's he that was always the kind-hearted, affectionate man; and a better husband never broke bread."
"Well," said Shane, resuming the story, and clearing his voice, "it's great consolation to me, now that she's gone, to think that I never broke the promise I made her that night; for as I tould you, except in regard to the duck-egg, a bitther word never passed between us. I was in a passion then, for a wonder, and bent upon showing her that I was a dangerous man to provoke; so just to give her a spice of what I could do, I made Larry feel it—and may God forgive me for raising my hand even then to her. But sure he would be a brute that would beat such a woman except by proxy. When it was clear dark we set off, and after crossing the country for two miles, reached my uncle's, where a great many of my friends were expecting us. As soon as we came to the door I struck it two or three times, for that was the sign, and my aunt came out, and taking Mary in her arms, kissed her, and, with a thousand welcomes, brought us both in.
"You all know that the best of aiting and dhrinking is provided when a runaway couple is expected; and indeed there was galore of both there. My uncle and all that were within welcomed us again; and many a good song and hearty jug of punch was sent round that night. The next morning my uncle went to her father's, and broke the business to him at once: indeed it wasn't very hard to do, for I believe it reached him afore he saw my uncle at all; so she was brought home* that day, and, on the Thursday night after, I, my father, uncle, and several other friends, went there and made the match. She had sixty guineas, that her grandfather left her, thirteen head of cattle, two feather- and two chaff-beds, with sheeting, quilts, and blankets; three pieces of bleached linen, and a flock of geese of her own rearing—upon the whole, among ourselves, it wasn't aisy to get such a fortune.
* One-half, at least, of the marriages in a great portion of Ireland are effected in this manner. They are termed "runaway matches," and are attended with no disgrace. When the parents of the girl come to understand that she has "gone off," they bring her home in a day or two; the friends of the parties then meet, and the arrangements for the marriage are made as described in the tale.
"Well, the match was made, and the wedding day appointed; but there was one thing still to be managed, and that was how to get over standing at mass on Sunday, to make satisfaction for the scandal we gave the church by running away with one another—but that's all stuff, for who cares a pin about standing, when three halves of the parish are married in the same way! The only thing that vexed me was, that it would keep back the wedding-day. However, her father and my uncle went to the priest, and spoke to him, trying, of coorse, to get us off it, but he knew we were fat geese, and was in for giving us a plucking.—Hut, tut!—he wouldn't hear of it at all, not he; for although he would ride fifty miles to sarve either of us, he couldn't break the new orders that he had got only a few days before that from the bishop. No; we must stand*—for it would be setting a bad example to the parish; and if he would let us pass, how could he punish the rest of his flock, when they'd be guilty of the same thing?
* Matches made in this manner are discountenanced by the Roman Catholic clergy, as being liable to abuse; and, for this reason, the parties, by way of punishment, are sometimes, but not always, made to stand up at mass for one or three Sundays; but, as Shane expresses it, the punishment is so common that it completely loses its effect. To "stand," in the sense meant here, is this: the priest, when the whole congregation are on their knees, calls the young man and woman by name, who stand up and remain under the gaze of the congregation, whilst he rebukes them for the scandal they gave to the church, after which they kneel down. In general it is looked upon more in fun than punishment. Sometimes, however, the wealthier class compromise this matter with the priest, as described above.
"'Well, well, your Reverence,' says my uncle, winking at her father, 'if that's the case, it can't be helped, any how—they must only stand, as many a dacent father and mother's child has done before them, and will again, plase God—your Reverence is right in doing your duty.'
"'True for you, Brian,' says his Reverence, 'and yet, God knows, there's no man in the parish would be sorrier to see such a dacent, comely young couple put upon a level with all the scrubs of the parish; and I know, Jemmy Finigan, it would go hard with your young, bashful daughter to get through with it, having the eyes of the whole congregation staring on her.'
"'Why, then, your Reverence, as to that,' says my uncle, who was just as stiff as the other was stout, 'the bashfulest of them will do more nor that to get a husband.'
"'But you tell me,' says the priest, 'that the wedding-day is fixed upon; how will you manage there?'
"'Why, put it off for three Sundays longer, to be sure,' says the uncle.
"'But you forget this, Brian,' says the priest, 'that good luck or prosperity never attends the putting off of a wedding.'
"Now here, you see, is where the priest had them; for they knew that as well as his Reverence himself—so they were in a puzzle again.
"'It's a disagreeable business,' says the priest, 'but the truth is, I could get them off with the bishop, only for one thing—I owe him five guineas of altar-money, and I am so far back in dues that I'm not able to pay him. If I could inclose this to him in a letter, I would get them off at once, although it would be bringing myself into trouble with the parish afterwards; but, at all events,' says he, 'I wouldn't make every one of you both—so, to prove that I wish to sarve you, I'll sell the best cow in my byre, and pay him myself, rather than their wedding day should be put off, poor things, or themselves brought to any bad luck—the Lord keep them from it!'
"While he was speaking, he stamped his foot two or three times on the flure, and the housekeeper came in.—'Katty,' says he, 'bring us in a bottle of whiskey; at all events, I can't let you away,' says he, 'without tasting something, and drinking luck to the young folks.'
"'In troth,' says Jemmy Finigan, 'and begging your Reverence's pardon, the sorra cow you'll sell this bout, any how, on account of me or my childhre, bekase I'll lay down on the nail what'll clear you wid the bishop; and in the name of goodness, as the day is fixed and all, let the crathurs not be disappointed.'
"'Jemmy,' says my uncle, 'if you go to that, you'll pay but your share, for I insist upon laying down one-half, at laste.'
"At any rate they came down with the cash, and after drinking a bottle between them, went home in choice spirits entirely at their good luck in so aisily getting us off. When they had left the house a bit, the priest sent after them—'Jemmy,' says he to Finigan, 'I forgot a circumstance, and that is, to tell you that I will go and marry them at your own house, and bring Father James, my curate with me.' 'Oh, wurrah, no,' said both, 'don't mention that, your Reverence, except you wish to break their hearts, out and out! why, that would be a thousand times worse nor making them stand to do penance: doesn't your Reverence know that if they hadn't the pleasure of running for the bottle, the whole wedding wouldn't be worth three half-pence?' 'Indeed, I forgot that, Jemmy.' 'But sure,' says my uncle, 'your Reverence and Father James must be at it, whether or not—for that we intended from the first.' 'Tell them I'll run for the bottle, too,' says the priest, laughing, 'and will make some of them look sharp, never fear.'
"Well, by my song, so far all was right; and may be it's we that weren't glad—maning Mary and myself—that there was nothing more in the way to put off the wedding-day. So, as the bridegroom's share of the expense always is to provide the whiskey, I'm sure, for the honor and glory of taking the blooming young crathur from the great lot of bachelors that were all breaking their hearts about her, I couldn't do less nor finish the thing dacintly; knowing, besides, the high doings that the Finigans would have of it—for they were always looked upon as a family that never had their heart in a trifle, when it would come to the push. So, you see, I and my brother Mickey, my cousin Tom, and Dom'nick Nulty, went up into the mountains to Tim Cassidy's still-house, where we spent a glorious day, and bought fifteen gallons of stuff, that one drop of it would bring the tear, if possible, to a young widdy's eye that had berrid a bad husband. Indeed, this was at my father's bidding, who wasn't a bit behindhand with any of them in cutting a dash. 'Shane,' says he to me, 'you know the Finigans of ould, that they won't be contint with what would do another, and that, except they go beyant the thing, entirely, they won't be satisfied. They'll have the whole countryside at the wadding, and we must let them see that we have a spirit and a faction of our own,' says he, 'that we needn't be ashamed of. They've got all kinds of ateables in cart-loads, and as we're to get the drinkables, we must see and give as good as they'll bring. I myself, and your mother, will go round and invite all we can think of, and let you and Mickey go up the hills to Tim Cassidy, and get fifteen gallons of whiskey, for I don't think less will do us.'
"This we accordingly complied with, as I said, and surely better stuff never went down the red lane (* Humorous periphrasis for throat) than the same whiskey; for the people knew nothing about watering it then, at all at all. The next thing I did was to get a fine shop cloth coat, a pair of top-boots, and buckskin breeches fit for a squire; along with a new Caroline hat that would throw off the wet like a duck. Mat Kavanagh, the schoolmaster from Findramore bridge, lent me his watch for the occasion, after my spending near two days learning from him to know what o'clock it was. At last, somehow, I masthered that point so well that, in a quarter of an hour at least, I could give a dacent guess at the time upon it.
"Well, at last the day came. The wedding morning, or the bride's part of it,* as they say, was beautiful. It was then the month of July. The evening before my father"* and my brother went over to Jemmy Finigan's, to make the regulations for the wedding. We, that is my party, were to be at the bride's house about ten o'clock, and we were then to proceed, all on horseback, to the priest's, to be married. We were then, after drinking something at Tom Hance's public-house, to come back as far as the Dumbhill, where we were to start and run for the bottle. That morning we were all up at the shriek of day. From six o'clock my own faction, friends and neighbors, began to come, all mounted; and about eight o'clock there was a whole regiment of them, some on horses, some on mules, others on raheries** and asses; and, by my word, I believe little Dick Snudaghan, the tailor's apprentice, that had a hand in making my wedding-clothes, was mounted upon a buck goat, with a bridle of salvages tied to his horns. Anything at all to keep their feet from the ground; for nobody would be allowed to go with the wedding that hadn't some animal between them and the earth.
* The morning or early part of the day, on which an Irish couple are married, up until noon, is called the bride's part, which, if the fortunes of the pair are to be happy, is expected to be fair—rain or storm being considered indicative of future calamity.
** A small, shaggy pony, so called from being found in great numbers on the Island of that name.
"To make a long story short, so large a bridegroom's party was never seen in that country before, save and except Tim Lannigans, that I mentioned just now. It would make you split your face laughing to see the figure they cut; some of them had saddles and bridles—others had saddles and halthers; some had back-suggawns of straw, with hay Stirrups to them, but good bridles; others sacks filled up as like saddles as they could make them, girthed with hay-ropes five or six times tied round the horse's body. When one or two of the horses wouldn't carry double, except the hind rider sat stride-ways, the women had to be put foremost, and the men behind them. Some had dacent pillions enough, but most of them had none at all, and the women were obliged to sit where the pillion ought to be—and a hard card they had to play to keep their seats even when the horses walked asy, so what must it be when they came to a gallop! but that same was nothing at all to a trot.
"From the time they began to come that morning, you may be sartain that the glass was no cripple, any how—although, for fear of accidents, we took care not to go too deep. At eight o'clock we sat down to a rousing breakfast, for we thought it best to eat a trifle at home, lest they might think that what we were to get at the bride's breakfast might be thought any novelty. As for my part, I was in such a state, that I couldn't let a morsel cross my throat, nor did I know what end of me was uppermost. After breakfast they all got their cattle, and I my hat and whip, and was ready to mount, when my uncle whispered to me that I must kneel down and ax my father and mother's blessing, and forgiveness for all my disobedience and offinces towards them—and also to requist the blessing of my brothers and sisters. Well, in a short time I was down; and my goodness! such a hullabaloo of crying as there was in a minute's time! 'Oh, Shane Fadh—Shane Fadh, acushla machree!' says my poor mother in Irish, 'you're going to break up the ring about your father's hearth and mine—going to lave us, avourneen, for ever, and we to hear your light foot and sweet voice, morning, noon, and night, no more! Oh!' says she, 'it's you that was the good son all out; and the good brother, too: kind and cheerful was your voice, and full of love and affection was your heart! Shane, avourneen dheelish, if ever I was harsh to you, forgive your poor mother, that will never see you more on her flure as one of her own family.'
"Even my father, that wasn't much given to crying', couldn't speak, but went over to a corner and cried till the neighbors stopped him. As for my brothers and sisters, they were all in an uproar; and I myself cried like a Trojan, merely bekase I see them at it. My father and mother both kissed me, and gave me their blessing; and my brothers and sisters did the same, while you'd think all their hearts would break. 'Come, come,' says my uncle, 'I'll have none of this: what a hubbub you make, and your son going to be well married—going to be joined to a girl that your betters would be proud to get into connection with. You should have more sense, Rose Campbell—you ought to thank God that he had the luck to come acrass such a colleen for a wife; and that it's not going to his grave, instead of into the arms of a purty girl—and what's better, a good girl. So quit your blubbering, Rose; and you, Jack,' says he to my father, 'that ought to have more sense, stop this instant. Clear off, every one of you, out of this, and let the young boy go to his horse. Clear out, I say, or by the powers I'll—look at them three stags of huzzies; by the hand of my body they're blubbering bekase it's not their own story this blessed day. Move—bounce!—and you, Rose Oge, if you're not behind Dudley Pulton in less than no time, by the hole of my coat, I'll marry a wife myself, and then where will the twenty guineas be that I'm to lave you?'
"God rest his soul, and yet there was a tear in his eye all the while—even in spite of his joking!
"Any how, it's easy knowing that there wasn't sorrow at the bottom of their grief: for they were all now laughing at my uncle's jokes, even while their eyes were red with the tears: my mother herself couldn't but be in a good humor, and join her smile with the rest.
"My uncle now drove us all out before him; not, however, till my mother had sprinkled a drop of holy water on each of us, and given me and my brothers and sisters a small taste of blessed candle, to prevent us from sudden death and accidents.* My father and she didn't come with as then, but they went over to the bride's while we were all gone to the priest's house. At last we set off in great style and spirits—I well mounted on a good horse of my own, and my brother (On one that he had borrowed from Peter Dannellon), fully bent on winning the bottle. I would have borrowed him myself, but I thought it dacenter to ride my own horse manfully, even though he never won a side of mutton or a saddle, like Dannellon's. But the man that was most likely to come in for the bottle was little Billy Cormick, the tailor, who rode a blood-racer that young-John Little had wickedly lent him for the special purpose; he was a tall bay animal, with long small legs, a switch tail, and didn't know how to trot. Maybe we didn't cut a dash—and might have taken a town before us. Out we set about nine o'clock, and went acrass the country: but I'll not stop to mintion what happened some of them, even before we got to the bride's house. It's enough to say here, that sometimes one in crassing a stile or ditch would drop into the shough;** sometimes another would find himself head foremost on the ground; a woman would be capsized here in crassing a ridgy field, bringing her fore-rider to the ground along with her; another would be hanging like a broken arch, ready to come down, till some one would ride up and fix her on the seat. But as all this happened in going over the fields, we expected that when we'd get out on the king's highway there would be less danger, as we would have no ditches or drains to crass. When we came in sight of the house, there was a general shout of welcome from the bride's party, who were on the watch for us: we couldn't do less nor give them back the chorus; but we had better have let that alone, for some of the young horses took the stadh,*** others of them capered about; the asses—the sorra choke them—that were along with us should begin to bray, as if it was the king's birthday—and a mule of Jack Urwin's took it into his head to stand stock still. This brought another dozen of them to the ground; so that, between one thing or another, we were near half an hour before we got on the march again. When the blood-horse that the tailor rode saw the crowd and heard the shouting, he cocked his ears, and set off with himself full speed; but before he had got far he was without a rider, and went galloping up to the bride's house, the bridle hangin' about his feet. Billy, however, having taken a glass or two, wasn't to be cowed: so he came up in great blood, and swore he would ride him to America, sooner than let the bottle be won from the bridegroom's party.
* In many parishes of Ireland a number of small wax candles are blessed by the priest upon Ash-Wednesday, and these are constantly worn about the person until that day twelve months, for the purposes mentioned above.
** Dyke or drain.
*** Became restive.
"When we arrived, there was nothing but shaking hands and kissing, and all kinds of slewsthering—men kissing men—women kissing women—and after that men and women all through other. Another breakfast was ready for us; and here we all sat down; myself and my next relations in the bride's house, and the others in the barn and garden; for one house wouldn't hold the half of us. Eating, however, was all only talk: of coorse we took some of the poteen again, and in a short time afterwards set off along the paved road to the priest's house, to be tied as fast as he could make us, and that was fast enough. Before we went out to mount our horses though, there was just such a hullabaloo with the bride and her friends as there was with myself: but my uncle soon put a stop to it, and in five minutes had them breaking their hearts laughing.
"Bless my heart, what doings! what roasting and boiling!—and what tribes of beggars and shulers, and vagabonds of all sorts and sizes, were sunning themselves about the doors wishing us a thousand times long life and happiness. There was a fiddler and piper: the piper was to stop in my father-in-law's while we were going to be married, to keep the neighbors that were met there shaking their toes while we were at the priest's; and the fiddler was to come with ourselves, in order you know, to have a dance at the priest's house, and to play for us coming and going; for there's nothing like a taste of music when one's on for sport. As we were setting off, ould Mary M'Quade from Kilnahushogue, who was sent for bekase she understood charms, and had the name of being lucky, took myself aside: 'Shane Fadh,' says she, 'you're a young man well to look upon; may God bless you and keep you so; and there's not a doubt but there's them here that wishes you ill—that would rather be in your shoes this blessed day, with your young colleen bawn, (* Fair Girl) that will be your wife before the sun sets, plase the heavens. There's ould Fanny Barton, the wrinkled thief of a hag, that the Finigans axed here for the sake of her decent son-in-law, who ran away with her daughter Betty, that was the great beauty some years ago: her breath's not good, Shane, and many a strange thing's said of her. Well, maybe, I know more about that nor I'm not going to mintion, any how: more betoken that it's not for nothing the white hare haunts the shrubbery behind her house.'
"'But what harm could she do me, Sonsy Mary?' says I—for she was called Sonsy—'we have often sarved her one way or other.'
"Ax me no questions about her, Shane,' says she, 'don't I know what she did to Ned Donnelly, that was to be pitied, if ever a man was to be pitied, for as good as seven months after his marriage, until I relieved him; was gone to a thread he was, and didn't they pay me decently for my throuble!'
"'Well, and what am I to do, Mary?' says I, knowing very well that what she sed was thrue enough, although I didn't wish her to see that I was afeard.
"'Why,' says she, 'you must first exchange money with me, and then, if you do as I bid you you may lave the rest to myself.'
"'I then took out, begad, a daicent lot of silver—say a crown or so—for my blood was up and the money was flush—and gave it to her for which I got a cronagh-bawn* half-penny in exchange.
* So-called from Cronebane, in the county of Wicklow, where there is a copper mine.
"'Now,' says she, 'Shane, you must keep this in your company, and for your life and sowl, don't part wid it for nine days after your marriage; but there's more to be done,' says she—'hould out your right knee;' so with this she unbuttoned three buttons of my buckskins, and made me loose the knot of my garther on the right leg. 'Now,' says she, 'if you keep them loose till after the priest says the words, and won't let the money I gave you go out of your company for nine days, along with something else I'll do that you're to know nothing about, there's no fear of all their pisthroges.'* She then pulled off her right shoe, and threw it after us for luck.
* Charms of an evil nature. These are ceremonies used by such women, and believed to be of efficacy by the people. It is an undoubted fact that the woman here named—and truly named—was called in by honest Ned Donnelly, who, I believe, is alive, and could confirm the truth of it. I remember her well, as I do the occasion on which she was called in by Ned or his friends. I also remember that a neighbor of ours, a tailor named Cormick M'Elroy—father, by the way, to little Billy Cormick, who figures so conspicuously at the wedding— called her in to cure, by the force of charms, some cows he had that were sick.
"We were now all in motion once more—the bride riding behind my man, and the bridesmaid behind myself—a fine bouncing girl she was, but not to be mintioned in the one year with my own darlin'—in troth, it wouldn't be aisy getting such a couple as we were the same day, though it's myself that says it. Mary, dressed in a black castor hat, like a man's, a white muslin coat, with a scarlet silk handkercher about her neck, with a silver buckle and a blue ribbon, for luck, round her waist; her fine hair wasn't turned up, at all at all, but hung down in beautiful curls on her shoulders; her eyes, you would think, were all light; her lips as plump and as ripe as cherries—and maybe it's myself that wasn't to that time o' day without tasting them, any how; and her teeth, so even, and as white as a burned bone. The day bate all for beauty; I don't know whether it was from the lightness of my own spirit it came, but, I think, that such a day I never saw from that to this; indeed, I thought everything was dancing and smiling about me, and sartinly every one said, that such a couple hadn't been married, nor such a wedding seen in the parish for many a long year before.
"All the time, as we went along, we had the music; but then at first we were mightily puzzled what to do with the fiddler. To put him as a hind rider it would prevent him from playing, bekase how could he keep the fiddle before him and another so close to him? To put him foremost was as bad, for he couldn't play and hould the bridle together; so at last my uncle proposed that he should get behind himself, turn his face to the horse's tail, and saw away like a Trojan.
"It might be about four miles or so to the priest's house, and, as the day was fine, we' got on gloriously. One thing, however, became troublesome; you see there was a cursed set of ups and downs on the road, and as the riding coutrements were so bad with a great many of the weddiners, those that had no saddles, going down steep places, would work onward bit by bit, in spite of all they could do, till they'd be fairly on the horse's neck, and the women behind them would be on the animal's shoulders; and it required nice managing to balance themselves, for they might as well sit on the edge of a dale board. Many of them got tosses this way, though it all passed in good humor. But no two among the whole set were more puzzled by this than my uncle and the fiddler—I think I see my uncle this minute with his knees sticking into the horse's shoulders, and his two hands upon his neck, keeping himself back, with a cruiht* upon him, and the fiddler with his heels away, towards the horse's tail, and he stretched back against my uncle, for all the world like two bricks laid against one another, and one of them falling. 'Twas the same thing going up a hill; whoever was behind, would be hanging over the horse's tail, with the arm about the fore-rider's neck or body, and the other houlding the baste by the mane, to keep them both from sliding off backwards. Many a come-down there was among them—but, as I said, it was all in good humor; and, accordingly, as regularly as they fell, they were sure to get a cheer.
* The hump, which constitutes a round-shouldered man. If the reader has ever seen Hogarth's Illustrations of Hudibras, and remembers the redoubtable hero as he sits on horseback, he will be at no loss in comprehending what a cruiht means. Cruiht is the Irish for harp, and the simile is taken from the projection between the shoulders of the harper which was caused by carrying that instrument.
"When we got to the priest's house, there was a hearty welcome for us all. The bride and I, with our next kindred and friends, went into the parlor; along with these, there was a set of young fellows, who had been bachelors of the bride's, that got in with an intention of getting the first kiss* and, in coorse, of bating myself out of it. I got a whisper of this; so by my song, I was determined to cut them all out in that, as well as I did in getting herself; but you know, I couldn't be angry, even if they had got the foreway of me in it, bekase it's an ould custom. While the priest was going over the business, I kept my eye about me, and sure enough, there were seven or eight fellows all waiting to snap at her. When the ceremony drew near a close, I got up on one leg, so that I could bounce to my feet like lightning, and when it was finished, I got her in my arm, before you could say Jack Robinson, and swinging her behind the priest, gave her the husband's first kiss. The next minute there was a rush after her; but, as I had got the first, it was but fair that they should come in according as they could, I thought, bekase, you know, it was all in the coorse of practice; but, hould, there were two words to be said to that, for what does Father Dollard do but shoves them off, and a fine stout shoulder he had—shoves them off, like childre, and getting his arms about Mary, gives her half a dozen smacks at least—oh, consuming to the one less—that mine was only a cracker** to. The rest, then, all kissed her, one after another, according as they could come in to get one. We then went straight to his Reverence's barn, which had been cleared out for us the day before, by his own directions, where we danced for an hour or two, his Reverence and his Curate along with us.
* There is always a struggle for this at an Irish wedding, where every man is at liberty—even the priest himself—to anticipate the bridegroom if he can.
** Cracker is the small, hard cord which is tied to a rustic whip, in order to make it crack. When a man is considered to be inferior to another in anything, the people say, "he wouldn't make a cracker to his whip."
"When this was over we mounted again, the fiddler taking his ould situation behind my uncle. You know it is usual, after getting the knot tied, to go to a public-house or shebeen, to get some refreshment after the journey; so, accordingly, we went to little lame Larry Spooney's—grandfather to him that was transported the other day for staling Bob Beaty's sheep; he was called Spooney himself, for his sheep-stealing, ever since Paddy Keenan made the song upon him, ending with 'his house never wants a good ram-horn spoon;' so that let people say what they will, these things run in the blood—well, we went to his shebeen house, but the tithe of us couldn't get into it; so we sot on the green before the door, and, by my song, we took (* drank) dacently with him, any how; and, only for my uncle, it's odds but we would have been all fuddled.
"It was now that I began to notish a kind of coolness between my party and the bride's, and for some time I didn't know what to make of it—I wasn't long so, however; for my uncle, who still had his eye about him, comes over to me, and says, 'Shane, I doubt there will be bad work amongst these people, particularly betwixt the Dorans and the Flannagans—the truth is, that the old business of the law-shoot will break out, except they're kept from drink, take my word for it, there will be blood spilled. The running for the bottle will be a good excuse,' says he, 'so I think we had better move home before they go too far in the drink.'
"Well, any way, there was truth in this; so, accordingly, the reckoning was ped, and, as this was the thrate of the weddiners to the bride and bridegroom, every one of the men clubbed his share, but neither I nor the girls anything. Ha—ha—ha! Am I alive at all? I never—ha—ha—ha—!—I never laughed so much in one day as I did in that, today I can't help laughing at it yet. Well, well! when we all got on the top of our horses, and sich other iligant cattle as we had—the crowning of a king was nothing to it. We were now purty well I thank you, as to liquor; and, as the knot was tied, and all safe, there was no end to our good spirits; so, when we took the road, the men were in high blood, particularly Billy Cormick, the tailor, who had a pair of long cavalry spurs upon him, that he was scarcely able to walk in—and he not more nor four feet high. The women, too, were in blood, having faces upon them, with the hate of the day and the liquor, as full as trumpeters.
"There was now a great jealousy among thim that were bint for winning the bottle; and when one horseman would cross another, striving to have the whip hand of him when they'd set off, why you see, his horse would get a cut of the whip itself for his pains. My uncle and I, however, did all we could to pacify them; and their own bad horsemanship, and the screeching of the women, prevented any strokes at that time. Some of them were ripping up ould sores against one another as they went along; others, particularly the youngsters, with their sweethearts behind them, coorting away for the life of them, and some might be heard miles off, singing and laughing; and you may be sure the fiddler behind my uncle wasn't idle, no more nor another. In this way we dashed on gloriously, till we came in sight of the Dumb-hill, where we were to start for the bottle. And now you might see the men themselves on their saddles, sacks and suggans; and the women tying kerchiefs and shawls about their caps and bonnets, to keep them from flying off, and then gripping their fore-riders hard and fast by the bosoms. When we got to the Dumb-hill, there were five or six fellows that didn't come with us to the priest's, but met us with cudgels in their hands, to prevent any of them from starting before the others, and to show fair play.
"Well, when they were all in a lump,—horses, mules, raheries, and asses—some, as I said, with saddles, some with none; and all jist as I tould you before;—the word was given and off they scoured, myself along with the rest; and divil be off me, if ever I saw such another sight but itself before or since. Off they skelped through thick and thin, in a cloud of dust like a mist about us; but it was a mercy that the life wasn't trampled out of some of us; for before we had gone fifty perches, the one-third of them were sprawling a-top of one another on the road. As for the women, they went down right and left—sometimes bringing the horsemen with them; and many of the boys getting black eyes and bloody noses on the stones. Some of them, being half blind with the motion of the whiskey, turned off the wrong way, and galloped on, thinking they had completely distanced the crowd; and it wasn't until they cooled a bit that they found out their mistake.
"But the best sport of all was, when they came to the Lazy Corner, just at Jack Gallagher's flush,* where the water came out a good way acrass the road; being in such a flight, they either forgot or didn't know how to turn the angle properly, and plash went above thirty of them, coming down right on the top of one another, souse in the pool. By this time there was about a dozen of the best horsemen a good distance before the rest, cutting one another up for the bottle: among these were the Dorans and Flanagans; but they, you see, wisely enough, dropped their women at the beginning, and only rode single. I myself didn't mind the bottle, but kept close to Mary, for fraid that among sich a divil's pack of half-mad fellows, anything might happen her. At any rate, I was next the first batch: but where do you think the tailor was all this time? Why away off like lightning, miles before them—flying like a swallow: and how he kept his sate so long has puzzled me from that day to this; but, any how, truth's best—there he was topping the hill ever so far before them. After all, the unlucky crathur nearly missed the bottle; for when he turned to the bride's house, instead of pulling up as he ought to do—why, to show his horsemanship to the crowd that was out looking at them, he should begin to cut up the horse right and left, until he made him take the garden ditch in full flight, landing him among the cabbages. About four yards or five from the spot where the horse lodged himself was a well, and a purty deep one, by my word; but not a sowl present could tell what become of the tailor, until Owen Smith chanced to look into the well, and saw his long spurs just above the water; so he was pulled up in a purty pickle, not worth the washing; but what did he care? although he had a small body, the sorra one of him but had a sowl big enough for Golias or Sampson the Great.
* Flush is a pool of water that spreads nearly across a road. It is usually fed by a small mountain stream, and in consequence of rising and falling rapidly, it is called "Flash."
"As soon as he got his eyes clear, right or wrong, he insisted on getting the bottle: but he was late, poor fellow, for before he got out of the garden, two of them comes up—Paddy Doran and Peter Flanagan—cutting one another to pieces, and not the length of your nail between them. Well, well, that was a terrible day, sure enough. In the twinkling of an eye they were both off the horses, the blood streaming from their bare heads, struggling to take the bottle from my father, who didn't know which of them to give it to. He knew if he'd hand it to one, the other would take offince, and then he was in a great puzzle, striving to raison with them; but long Paddy Doran caught it while he was spaking to Flanagan, and the next instant Flanagan measured him with a heavy loaded whip, and left, him stretched upon the stones.—And now the work began: for by this time the friends of both parties came up and joined them. Such knocking down, such roaring among the men, and screeching and clapping of hands and wiping of heads among the women, when a brother, or a son, or a husband would get his gruel! Indeed, out of a fair, I never saw anything to come up to it. But during all this work, the busiest man among the whole set was the tailor, and what was worst of all for the poor creature, he should single himself out against both parties, bekase you see he thought they were cutting him out of his right to the bottle.
"They had now broken up the garden gate for weapons, all except one of the posts, and fought into the garden; when nothing should sarve Billy, but to take up the large heavy post, as if he could destroy the whole faction on each side. Accordingly he came up to big Matthew Flanagan, and was rising it just as if he'd fell him, when Matt, catching him by the nape of the neck, and the waistband of the breeches, went over very quietly, and dropped him a second time, heels up, into the well; where he might have been yet, only for my mother-in-law, who dragged him out with a great deal to do: for the well was too narrow to give him room to turn.
"As for myself and all my friends, as it happened to be my own wedding, and at our own place, we couldn't take part with either of them; but we endeavored all in our power to red (* Pacify or separate) them, and a tough task we had of it, until we saw a pair of whips going hard and fast among them, belonging to Father Corrigan and Father James, his curate. Well, its wonderful how soon a priest can clear up a quarrel! In five minutes there wasn't a hand up—instead of that they were ready to run into mice-holes:—
"'What, you murderers,' says his Reverence, 'are you bint to have each other's blood upon your heads; ye vile infidels, ye cursed unchristian Anthemtarians?* are ye going to get yourself hanged like sheep-stalers? down with your sticks, I command you: do you know—will you give yourselves time to see who's spaking to you—you bloodthirsty set of Episcopalians? I command you, in the name of the Catholic Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary, to stop this instant, if you don't wish me,' says he, 'to turn you into stocks and stones where you stand, and make world's wonders of you as long as you live.—Doran, if you rise your hand more, I'll strike it dead on your body, and to your mouth you'll never carry it while you have breath in your carcass,' says he.—'Clear off, you Flanagans, you butchers you—or by St. Domnick I'll turn the heads round upon your bodies, in the twinkling of an eye, so that you'll not be able to look a quiet Christian in the face again. Pretty respect you have for the decent couple at whose house you have kicked up such a hubbub. Is this the way people are to be deprived of their dinners on your accounts, you fungaleering thieves!'