* Antitrinitarians; the peasantry are often extremely fond of hard and long words, which they call tall English.
"'Why then, plase your Riverence, by the—hem—I say Father Corrigan, it wasn't my fault, but that villain Flanagan's, for he knows I fairly won the bottle—and would have distanced him, only that when I was far before him, the vagabone, he galloped across me on the way, thinking to thrip up the horse.'
"'You lying scoundrel,' says the priest, 'how dare you tell me a falsity,' says he, 'to my face? how could he gallop acrass you if you were far before him? Not a word more, or I'll leave you without a mouth to your face, which will be a double share of provision and bacon saved any way. And, Flanagan, you were as much to blame as he, and must be chastised for your raggamuffianly conduct,' says he, 'and so must you both, and all your party, particularly you and be, as the ringleaders. Right well I know it's the grudge upon the lawsuit you had and not the bottle, that occasioned it: but by St. Peter, to Loughderg both of you must tramp for this.'
"'Ay, and by St. Pether, they both desarve it as well as a thief does the gallows,' said a little blustering voice belonging to the tailor, who came forward in a terrible passion, looking for all the world like a drowned rat. 'Ho, by St. Pether, they do, the vagabones; for it was myself that won the bottle, your Reverence; and by this and by that,' says he, 'the bottle I'll have, or some of their crowns, will crack for it: blood or whiskey I'll have, your Reverence, and I hope that you'll assist me.
"'Why, Billy, are you here?' says Father Corrigan, smiling down upon the figure the little fellow cut, with his long spurs and his big whip; 'what in the world tempted you to get on horseback, Billy?'
"'By the powers, I was miles before them,' says Billy; 'and after this day, your Reverence, let no man say that I couldn't ride a steeplechase across Crocknagooran.'
"'Why, Billy, how did you stick on at all, at all?' says his Reverence.
"'How do I know how I stuck on?' says Billy, 'nor whether I stuck on at all or not; all I know is, that I was on horseback leaving the Dumb-hill, and that I found them pulling me by the heels out of the well in the corner of the garden—and that, your Reverence, when the first was only topping the hill there below, as Lanty Magowran tells me who was looking on.'
"'Well, Billy,' says Father Corrigan, 'you must get the bottle; and as for you Dorans and Flanagans, I'll make examples of you for this day's work—that you may reckon on. You are a disgrace to the parish, and, what's more, a disgrace to your priest. How can luck or grace attind the marriage of any young couple that there's such work at? Before you leave this, you must all shake hands, and promise never to quarrel with each other while grass grows or water runs; and if you don't, by the blessed St. Domnick, I'll exkimnicate* ye both, and all belonging to you into the bargain; so that ye'll be the pitiful examples and shows to all that look upon you.'
* Excommunicate. It is generally pronounced as above by the people.
"'Well, well, your Reverence,' says my father-in-law, 'let all by-gones be by-gones; and please God, they will, before they go, be better friends than ever they were. Go now an' clane yourselves, take the blood from about your faces, for the dinner's ready an hour agone; but if you all respect the place you're in, you'll show it, in regard of the young crathurs that's going, in the name of God, to face the world together, and of coorse wishes that this day at laste should pass in pace and quietness: little did I think there was any friend or neighbor here that would make so little of the place or people, as was done for nothing at all, in the face of the country.'
"'God he sees,' says my mother-in-law, 'that there's them here this day we didn't desarve this from, to rise such a norration, as if the house was a shebeen or a public-house! It's myself didn't think either me or my poor coolleen here, not to mention the dacent people she's joined to, would be made so little of, as to have our place turned into a play-acthur—for a play-acthur couldn't be worse.'
"'Well,' says my uncle, 'there's no help for spilt milk, I tell you, nor for spilt blood either; tare-an-ounty, sure we're all Irishmen, relations, and Catholics through other, and we oughtn't to be this way. Come away to the dinner—by the powers, we'll duck the first man that says a loud word for the remainder of the day. Come, Father Corrigan, and carve the goose, or the geese, for us—for, by my sannies, I bleeve there's a baker's dozen of them; but we've plenty of Latin for them, and your Reverence and Father James here understands that langidge, any how—larned enough there, I think, gintlemen.'
"'That's right, Brian,' shouts the tailor—'that's right; there must be no fighting: by the powers, the first man attempts it, I'll brain him—fell him to the earth like an ox, if all belonging to him was in my way.'
"This threat from the tailor went farther, I think, in putting them into good humor nor even what the priest said. They then washed and claned themselves, and accordingly went to their dinners.—Billy himself marched with his terrible whip in his hand, and his long cavalry spurs sticking near ten inches behind him, draggled to the tail like a bantling cock after a shower. But, maybe, there was more draggled tails and bloody noses nor poor Billy's, or even nor was occasioned by the fight; for after Father Corrigan had come, several of them dodged up, some with broken shins and heads and wet clothes, that they'd got on the way by the mischances of the race, particularly at the Flush. But I don't know how it was; somehow the people in them days didn't value these things a straw. They were far hardier then nor they are now, and never went to law at all at all. Why, I've often known skulls to be broken, and the people to die afterwards, and there would be nothing more about it, except to brake another skull or two for it; but neither crowner's quest, nor judge, nor jury, was ever troubled at all about it. And so sign's on it, people were then innocent, and not up to law and counsellors as they are now. If a person happened to be killed in a fight at a fair or market, why he had only to appear after his death to one of his friends, and get a number of masses offered up for his sowl, and all was right; but now the times are clane altered, and there's nothing but hanging and transporting for such things; although that won't bring the people to life again."
"I suppose," said Andy Morrow, "you had a famous dinner, Shane?"
"'Tis you that may say that, Mr. Morrow," replied Shane: "but the house, you see, wasn't able to hould one-half of us; so there was a dozen or two tables borrowed from the neighbors and laid one after another in two rows, on the green, beside the river that ran along the garden-hedge, side by side. At one end Father Corrigan sat, with Mary and myself, and Father James at the other. There were three five-gallon kegs of whiskey, and I ordered my brother to take charge of them; and there he sat beside them, and filled the bottles as they were wanted—bekase, if he had left that job to strangers, many a spalpeen there would make away with lots of it. Mavrone, such a sight as the dinner was! I didn't lay my eye on the fellow of it since, sure enough, and I'm now an ould man, though I was then a young one. Why there was a pudding boiled in the end of a sack; and troth it was a thumper, only for the straws—for you see, when they were making it, they had to draw long straws acrass in order to keep, it from falling asunder—a fine plan it is, too. Jack M'Kenna, the carpenther, carved it with a hand-saw, and if he didn't curse the same straws, I'm not here. 'Draw them out, Jack,' said Father Corrigan—'draw them out.—It's asy known, Jack, you never ate a polite dinner, you poor awkward spalpeen, or you'd have pulled out the straws the first thing you did, man alive.'
"Such lashins of corned beef, and rounds of beef, and legs of mutton, and bacon—turkeys and geese, and barn-door fowls, young and fat. They may talk as they will, but commend me to a piece of good ould bacon, ate with crock butther, and phaties, and cabbage. Sure enough, they leathered away at everything, but this and the pudding were the favorites. Father Corrigan gave up the carving in less than no time, for it would take him half a day to sarve them all, and he wanted to provide for number one. After helping himself, he set my uncle to it, and maybe he didn't slash away right and left. There was half a dozen gorsoons carrying about the beer in cans, with froth upon it like barm—but that was beer in airnest, Nancy—I'll say no more."
"When the dinner was over, you would think there was as much left as would sarve a regiment; and sure enough, a right hungry ragged regiment was there to take care of it—though, to tell the truth, there was as much taken into Finigan's as would be sure to give us all a rousing supper. Why, there was such a troop of beggars—men, women, and childher, sitting over on the sunny side of the ditch, as would make short work of the whole dinner, had they got it. Along with Father Corrigan and me, was my father and mother, and Mary's parents; my uncle, cousins, and nearest relations on both sides. Oh, it's Father Corrigan, God rest his sowl, he's now in glory, and so he was then, also—how he did crow and laugh! 'Well, Matthew Finigan,' says-he, 'I can't say but I'm happy that your Colleen Bawn here has lit upon a husband that's no discredit to the family—and it is herself didn't drive her pigs to a bad market,' says he. 'Why, in troth, Father avourneen,' says my mother-in law, 'they'd be hard to plase that couldn't be satisfied with them she got; not saying but she had her pick and choice of many a good offer, and might have got richer matches; but Shane Fadh M'Cawell although you're sitting there beside my daughter, I'm prouder to see you on my own flure, the husband of my child, nor if she'd got a man with four times your substance.'
"'Never heed the girls for knowing where to choose,' says his Reverence, slyly enough: 'but, upon my word, only she gave us all the slip, to tell the truth, I had another husband than Shane in my eye for her, and that was my own nevvy, Father James's brother here.'
"'And I'd be proud of the connection,' says my father-in-law, 'but you see, these girls won't look much to what you or I'll say, in choosin' a husband for themselves. How-and-iver, not making little of your nevvy, Father Michael, I say he's not to be compared with that same bouchal sitting beside Mary there.'
"'No, nor by the powdhers-o-war, never will,' says Billy M'Cormick the tailor, who had come over and slipped in on the other side betune Father Corrigan and the bride—'by the powdhers-o' war, he'll never be fit to be compared with me, I tell you, till yesterday comes back again.'
"'Why, Billy,' says the priest, 'you're every place.' 'But where I ought to be!' says Billy; 'and that's hard and fast tackled to Mary Bane, the bride here, instead of that steeple of a fellow she has got,' says the little cock.
"'Billy, I thought you were married,' said Father Corrigan.
"'Not I, your Reverence,' says Billy;' but I'll soon do something, Father Michael—I have been threatening this longtime, but I'll do it at last'
"'He's not exactly married, Sir, says my uncle 'but there's a colleen present' (looking at the bridesmaid) 'that will soon have his name upon her.'
"'Very good, Billy,' says the priest, 'I hope you will give us a rousing wedding-equal, at least, to Shane Fadh's.'
"'Why then, your Reverence, except I get sich a darling as Molly Bane, here—and by this and that, it's you that is the darling Molly asthore—what come over me, at all at all, that I didn't think of you,' says the little man, drawing close to her, and poor Mary smiling good-naturedly at his spirit.
"'Well, and what if you did get such a darling as Molly Bane, there?' says his Reverence.
"'Why, except I get the likes of her for a wife—upon second thoughts, I don't like marriage, any way,' said Billy, winking against the priest—'I lade such a life as your Reverence; and by the powdhers, it's a thousand pities that I wasn't made into a priest, instead of a tailor. For, you see, if I had' says he, giving a verse of an old song—
'For you see, if I had, It's I'd be the lad That would show all my people such larning; And when they'd do wrong, Why, instead of a song, I'd give them a lump of a sarmin.'
"'Billy,' says my father-in-law, 'why don't you make a hearty dinner, man alive? go back to your sate and finish your male—you're aiting nothing to signify.' 'Me!' says Billy—'why, I'd scorn to ate a hearty dinner; and, I'd have you to know, Matt Finigan, that it wasn't for the sake of your dinner I came here, but in regard to your family, and bekase I wished him well that's sitting beside your daughter: and it ill becomes your father's son to cast up your dinner in my face, or any one of my family; but a blessed minute longer I'll not stay among you. Give me your hand, Shane Fadh, and you, Mary—may goodness grant you pace and happiness every night and day you both rise out of your beds. I made that coat your husband has on his back beside you—and a, betther fit was never made; but I didn't think it would come to my turn to have my dinner cast up this a-way, as if I was aiting it for charity.'
"'Hut, Billy,' says I, 'sure it was all out of kindness; he didn't mane to offind you.'
"'It's no matter,' says Billy, beginning to cry, 'he did offend me; and it's, low days with me to bear an affront from him, or the likes of him; but by the powdhers-o'-war,' says he, getting into a great rage, 'I won't bear it,—only as you're an old man yourself, I'll not rise my hand to you; but, let any man now that has the heart to take up your quarrel, come out and stand before me on the sod here.'
"Well, by this time, you'd tie all that were present with three straws, to see Billy stripping himself, and his two wrists not thicker than drumsticks. While the tailor was raging, for he was pretty well up with what he had taken, another person made his appearance at the far end of the boreen* that led to the green where we sot. He was mounted upon the top of a sack that was upon the top of a sober-looking baste enough—God knows; he jogging along at his ase, his legs dangling down from the sack on each side, and the long skirts of his coat hanging down behind him. Billy was now getting pacified, bekase they gave way to him a little; so the fun went round, and they sang, roared, danced, and coorted, right and left.
* A small pathway or bridle road leading to a farm-house.
"When the stranger came as far as the skirt of the green, he turned the horse over quite nathural to the wedding; and, sure enough, when he jogged up, it was Friar Rooney himself, with a sack of oats, for he had been questin.* Well, sure the ould people couldn't do less nor all go over to put the failtah** on him. 'Why, then,' says my father and mother-in-law, ''tis yourself, Friar Rooney, that's as welcome as the flowers of May; and see who's here before you—Father Corrigan, and Father Dollard.'
* Questin—When an Irish priest or friar collects corn or money from the people in a gratuitous manner, the act is called "questin."
"'Thank you, thank you, Molshy—thank you, Matthew—troth, I know that 'tis I am welcome.'
"'Ay, and you're welcome again, Father Rooney,' said my father, going down and shaking hands with him, 'and I'm proud to see you here. Sit down, your Reverence—here's everything that's good, and plinty of it, and if you don't make much of yourself, never say an ill fellow dealt with you.'
"The friar stood while my father was speaking, with a pleasant, contented face upon him, only a little roguish and droll.
"'Hah! Shane Fadh,' says he, smiling dryly at me, 'you did them all, I see. You have her there, the flower of the parish, blooming beside you; but I knew as much six months ago, ever since I saw you bid her good-night at the hawthorn. Who looked back so often, Mary, eh? Ay, laugh and blush—do—throth, 'twas I that caught you, but you didn't see me, though. Well, a colleen, and if you did, too, you needn't be ashamed of your bargain, any how. You see, the way I came to persave yez that evening was this—but I'll tell it, by and by. In the mane time,' says he, sitting down and attacking a fine piece of corn-beef and greens, 'I'll take care of a certain acquaintance of mine,' says he. 'How are you, reverend gintlemen of the Secularily? You'll permit a poor friar to sit and ate his dinner, in your presence, I humbly hope.'
"'Frank,' says Father Corrigan, 'lay your hand upon your conscience, or upon your stomach, which is the same thing, and tell us honestly, how many dinners you eat on your travels among my parishioners this day.'
"'As I'm a sinner, Michael, this is the only thing to be called a dinner I eat this day;—Shane Fadh—Mary, both your healths, and God grant you all kinds of luck and happiness, both here and hereafter! All your healths in gineral! gintlemen seculars!'
"'Thank you, Frank,' said Father Corrigan; how did you speed to-day?'
"'How can any man speed, that comes after you?' says the Friar; 'I'm after travelling the half of the parish for that poor bag of oats that you see standing against the ditch.'
"'In other words, Frank,' says the Priest, 'you took Allhadhawan in your way, and in about half a dozen houses filled your sack, and then turned your horse's head towards the good cheer, by way of accident only.'
"'And was it by way of accident, Mr. Secular, that I got you and that illoquent young gintleman, your curate, here before me? Do you feel that, man of the world? Father James, your health, though—you're a good young man as far as saying nothing goes; but it's better to sit still than to rise up and fall, so I commend you for your discretion,' says he; 'but I'm afeared your master there won't make you much fitter for the kingdom of heaven any how.'
"'I believe, Father Corrigan,' says my uncle, who loved to see the priest and the friar at it, 'that you've met with your match—I think Father Rooney's able for you.'
"'Oh, sure,' says Father Corrigan, he was joker to the college of the Sorebones (* Sorbonne) in Paris; he got as much education as enabled him to say mass in Latin, and to beg oats in English, for his jokes.'
"'Troth, and,' says the friar, 'if you were to get your larning on the same terms, you'd be guilty of very little knowledge; why, Michael, I never knew you to attempt a joke but once, and I was near shedding tears, there was something so very sorrowful in it.'
"This brought the laugh against the priest—'Your health, Molshy,' says he, winking at my mother-in-law, and then giving my uncle, who sat beside him, a nudge; 'I believe, Brian, I'm giving it to him.' ''Tis yourself that is,' says my uncle; 'give him a wipe or two more.' 'Wait till he answers the last,' says the friar.
"'He's always joking,' says Father James, 'when he thinks he'll make any thing by it.'
"'Ah!' says the friar, 'then God help you both if you were left to your jokes for your feeding; for a poorer pair of gentlemen wouldn't be found in Christendom.'
"'And I believe,' says Father Corrigan, 'if you depinded for your feeding upon your divinity instead of your jokes, you'd be as poor as a man in the last stage of a consumption.'
"This drew the laugh against the friar, who smiled himself; but he was a dry man that never laughed much.
"'Sure,' says the friar, who was seldom at a loss, 'I have yourself and your nephew for examples that it's possible to live and be well fed without divinity.'
"'At any rate,' says my uncle, putting in his tongue, 'I think you're both very well able to make divinity a joke betune you,' says he.
"'Well done, Brian,' says the friar, 'and so they are, for I believe it is the only subject they can joke upon! and I beg your pardon, Michael, for not excepting it before; on that subject I allow you to be humorsome.'
"'If that be the case, then,' says Father Corrigan, 'I must give up your company, Frank, in order to avoid the force of bad example; for you're so much in the habit of joking on everything else, that you're not able to accept even divinity itself.'
"'You may aisily give me up,' says the friar, 'but how will you be able to forget Father Corrigan? I'm afeard you'll find his acquaintance as great a detriment to yourself, as it is to others in that respect.'
"'What makes you say,' says Father James, who was more in airnest than the rest, 'that my uncle won't make me fit for the kingdom of heaven?'
"'I had a pair of rasons for it, Jemmy,' says the friar; 'one is, that he doesn't understand the subject himself; another is, that you haven't capacity for it, even if he did. You've a want of natural parts—a whackuuum here' pointing to his forehead.
"'I beg your pardon, Frank,' says Father James 'I deny your premises, and I'll now argue in Latin with you, if you wish, upon any subject you please.'
"'Come, then,' says the friar,—'Kid eat ivy mare eat hay.'
"'Kid—what?' says the other.
"'Kid eat ivy mare eat hay,' answers the friar.
"'I don't know what you're at,' says Father James, 'but I'll argue in Latin with you as long as you wish.'
"'Tut man,' says Father Rooney, 'Latin's for school-boys; but come, now, I'll take you in another language—I'll try you in Greek—In-mud-eel-is in-clay-none-is in-fir-tar-is in-oak-no ne-is.'
"The curate looked at him, amazed, not knowing what answer to make. At last says he, 'I don't profess to know Greek, bekase I never larned it—but stick to the Latin, and I'm not afeard of you.'
"'Well, then,' says the friar, 'I'll give you a trial at that—Afflat te canis ter—Forte dux fel flat in guttur.'
"'A flat tay-canisther—Forty ducks fell flat in the gutthers!' says Father James,—'why that's English!'
"'English!' says the friar, 'oh, good-bye to you, Mr. Secular; 'if that's your knowledge of Latin, you're an honor to your tachers and to your cloth.'
"Father Corrigan now laughed heartily at the puzzling the friar gave Father James. 'James,' says he, 'never heed him; he's only pesthering you with bog-Latin; but, at any rate to do him justice, he's not a bad Scholar, I can tell you that.... Your health, Prank, you droll crathur—your health. I have only one fault to find with you, and that is, that you fast and mortify yourself too much. Your fasting has reduced you from being formerly a friar of very genteel dimensions to a cut of corpulency that smacks strongly of penance—fifteen stone at least.
"'Why,' says the friar, looking down quite plased, entirely, at the cut of his own waist, Uch, among ourselves, was no trifle, and giving a growl of a laugh—the most he ever gave, 'if what you pray here benefits you in the next life as much as what I fast does for me in this, it will be well for the world in general Michael.'
"'How can you say, Frank,' says Father 'with such a carkage as that, you're a poor friar? Upon my credit, when you die, I think the angels will have a job of it in wafting you upwards."
"'Jemmy, man, was it you that said it?—why, my light's beginning to shine upon you, or you never could have got out so much,' says Father Rooney, putting his hands over his brows, and looking up toardst him; 'but if you ever read scripthur, which I suppose you're not overburdened with, you would know that it says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," but not blessed are the poor in flesh—now, mine is spiritual poverty.'
"'Very true, Frank,' says Father Corrigan, 'I believe there's a great dearth and poverty of spirituality about you, sure enough. But of all kinds of poverty, commend me to a friar's. Voluntary poverty's something, but it's the divil entirely for a man to be poor against his will. You friars boast of this voluntary poverty; but if there's a fat bit in any part of the parish, we, that are the lawful clargy, can't eat it, but you're sure to drop in, just in the nick of time, with your voluntary poverty.'
"'I'm sure, if we do,' says the friar, 'it's nothing out of your pocket, Michael. I declare I believe you begrudge us the air we breathe. But don't you know very well that our ordhers are apostolic, and that, of coorse, we have a more primitive appearance than you have.'
"'No such thing,' says the other; 'you, and the parsons, and the fat bishops, are too far from the right place—the only difference between you is, that you are fat and lazy by toleration, whereas the others are fat and lazy by authority. You are fat and lazy on your ould horses, jogging about from house to house, and stuffing yourselves either at the table of other people's parishioners, or in your own convents in Dublin and elsewhere. They are rich, bloated gluttons, going about in their coaches, and wallying in wealth. Now, we are the golden mean, Frank, that live upon a little, and work hard for it.'
"'Why, you cormorant,' says the friar, a little nettled, for the dhrop was beginning to get up into his head, 'sure if we're fat by toleration, we're only tolerably fat, my worthy secular!'
"'You see,' says the friar, in a whisper to my uncle, 'how I sobered them in the larning, and they are good scholars for all that, but not near so deep read as myself.' 'Michael,' says he, 'now that I think on it—sure I'm to be at Denis O'Flaherty's Month's mind on Thursday next.'
"'Indeed I would not doubt you,' says Father Corrigan; 'you wouldn't be apt to miss it.'
"'Why, the widdy Flaherty asked me yesterday, and I think that's proof enough that I'm not going unsent for.'
"By this time the company was hard and fast at the punch, the songs, and the dancing. The dinner had been cleared off, except what was before the friar, who held out wonderfully, and the beggars and shulers were clawing and scoulding one another about the divide. The dacentest of us went into the house for a while, taking the fiddler with us, and the rest, with the piper, staid on the green to dance, where they were soon joined by lots of the counthry people, so that in a short time there was a large number entirely. After sitting for some time within, Mary and I began, you may be sure, to get unasy, sitting palavering among a parcel of ould sober folks; so, at last, out we slipped, and the few other dacent young people that were with us, to join the dance, and shake our toe along with the rest of them. When we made our appearance, the flure was instantly cleared for us, and then she and I danced the Humors of Glin.
"Well, it's no matter—it's all past now, and she lies low; but I may say that it wasn't very often danced in better style since, I'd wager. Lord, bless us, what a drame the world is! The darling of my heart you war, avourneen machree. I think I see her with the modest smile upon her face, straight, and fair, and beautiful, and—hem—and when the dance was over, how she stood leaning upon me, and my heart within melting to her, and the look she'd give into my eyes and my heart, too, as much as to say, 'This is the happy day with me;' and the blush still would fly acrass her face, when I'd press her, unknownst to the bystanders, against my beating heart. A suilish machree, (* Light of my heart.) she is now gone from me—lies low, and it all appears like a drame to me; but—hem—God's will be done!—sure she's happy—och, och!!
"Many a shake hands did I get from the neighbors' sons, wishing me joy; and I'm sure I couldn't do less than thrate them to a glass, you know; and 'twas the same way with Mary: many a neighbors' daughter, that she didn't do more nor know by eyesight, maybe, would come up and wish her happiness in the same manner, and she would say to me, 'Shane, avourneen, that's such a man's daughter—they're a dacent friendly people, and we can't do less nor give her a glass.' I, of coorse, would go down and bring them over, after a little pulling—making, you see, as if they wouldn't come—to where my brother was handing out the native.
"In this way we passed the time till the evening came on, except that Mary and the bridesmaid were sent for to dance with the priests, who were within at the punch, in all their glory,—Friar Rooney along with them as jolly as a prince. I and my man, on seeing this, were for staying with the company; but my mother, who 'twas that came for them, says, 'Never mind the boys, Shane, come in with the girls, I say. You're just wanted at the present time, both of you, follow me for an hour or two, till their Reverences within have a bit of a dance with the girls, in the back room; we don't want to gother a crowd about them.' Well, we went in, sure enough, for awhile; but, I don't know how it was, I didn't at all feel comfortable with the priests; for, you see, I'd rather sport my day figure with the boys and girls upon the green: so I gives Jack the hard word* and in we went, when, behold you, there was Father Corrigan planted upon the side of a settle, Mary along with him, waiting till they'd have the fling of a dance together, whilst the Curate was capering on the flure before the bridesmaid, who was a purty dark-haired girl, to the tune of 'Kiss my lady;' and the friar planted between my mother and my mother-in-law, one of his legs stretched out on a chair, he singing some funny song or other, that brought the tears to their eyes with laughing.
* A pass-word, sign, or brief intimation, touching something of which a man is ignorant, that he may act accordingly.
"Whilst Father James was dancing with the bridesmaid, I gave Mary the wink to! come away from Father Corrigan, wishing, as I tould you, to get out amongst the youngsters once more; and Mary, herself, to tell the truth, although he was the priest, was very willing to do so. I went over to her, and says, 'Mary, asthore, there's a friend without that wishes to spake to you.'
"'Well,' says Father Corrigan, 'tell that friend that she's better employed, and that they must wait, whoever they are. I'm giving your wife, Shane,' says he, 'a little good advice that she won't be the worse for, and she can't go now.'
"Mary, in the meantime, had got up, and was coming away, when his Reverence wanted her to stay till they'd finished their dance. 'Father Corrigan,' says she, 'let me go now, sir, if you plase, for they would think it bad threatment of me not to go out to them.'
"'Troth, and you'll do no such thing, acushla,' says he, spaking so sweet to her; 'let them come in if they want you. Shane, says his Reverence, winking at me, and spiking in a whisper, 'stay here, you and the girls, till we take a hate at the dancing—don't you know that the ould women here, and me will have to talk over some things about the fortune; you'll maybe get more nor you expect. Here, Molshy,' says he to my mother-in-law, 'don't let the youngsters out of this."
"'Musha, Shane, ahagur,' say's the ould woman 'why will yez go and lave the place; sure you needn't be dashed before them—they'll dance themselves.'
"Accordingly we stayed in the room; but just on the word, Mary gives one spring away, leaving his Reverence by himself on the settle. 'Come away,' says she, 'lave them there, and let us go to where I can have a dance with yourself, Shane.'
"Well, I always loved Mary, but at that minute, if it would save her, I think I could spill my heart's blood for her. 'Mary,' says I full to the throat, 'Mary, acushla agus asthore machree,* I could lose my life for you.'
*The very pulse and delight of my heart.
"She looked in my face, and the tears came into her—yes—'Shane, achora,' says she, 'amn't I your happy girl, at last?' She was leaning over against my breast; and what answer do you think I made?—I pressed her to my heart: I did more—I took off my hat, and looking up to God, I thanked him with tears in my eyes, for giving me such a treasure. 'Well, come now,' says she, 'to the green;' so we went—and it's she that was the girl, when she did go among them, that threw them all into the dark for beauty and figure; as fair as a lily itself did she look—so tall and illegant, that you wouldn't think she was a farmer's daughter at all; so we left the priests dancing away, for we could do no good before them.
"When we had danced an hour or so, them that the family had the greatest regard for were brought in unknown to the rest, to drink tay. Mary planted herself beside me, and would sit nowhere else; but the friar got beside the bridesmaid, and I surely observed that many a time she'd look over, likely to split, at Mary, and it's Mary herself that gave her many's a wink, to come to the other side; but, you know, out of manners, she was obliged to sit quietly, though among ourselves it's she that was like a hen on a hot griddle, beside the ould chap. It was now that the bride-cake was got. Ould Sonsy Mary marched over, and putting the bride on her feet, got up on a chair and broke it over her head, giving round a fadge* of it to every young person in the house, and they again to their acquaintances: but, lo and behold you, who should insist on getting a whang of it but the friar, which he rolled up in a piece of paper, and put it in his pocket. 'I'll have good fun,' says he, 'dividing this to-morrow among the colleens when I'm collecting my oats—the sorra one of me but I'll make them give me the worth of it of something, if it was only a fat hen or a square of bacon.'
* A liberal portion torn off a thick cake.
"After tay the ould folk got full of talk; the youngsters danced round them; the friar sung like a thrush, and told many a droll story. The tailor had got drunk a little too early, and had to be put to bed, but he was now as fresh as ever, and able to dance a hornpipe, which he did on a door. The Dorans and the Flanagans had got quite thick after drubbing one another—Ned Doran began his courtship with Alley Flanagan on that day, and they were married soon after, so that the two factions joined, and never had another battle until the day of her berrial, when they were at it as fresh as ever. Several of those that were at the wedding were lying drunk about the ditches, or roaring, and swaggering, and singing about the place. The night falling, those that were dancing on the green removed to the barn. Father Corrigan and Father James weren't ill off; but as for the friar, although he was as pleasant as a lark, there was hardly any such thing as making him tipsy. Father Corrigan wanted him to dance—'What!' says he, 'would you have me to bring on an earthquake, Michael?—but who ever heard of a follower of St. Domnick, bound by his vow to voluntary poverty and mortification——young couple, your health—will anybody tell mo who mixed this, for they've knowledge worth a folio of the fathers——poverty and mortification, going to shake his heel? By the bones of St. Domnick, I'd desarve to be suspinded if I did. Will no one tell me who mixed this, I say, for they had a jewel of a hand at it?—Och—
'Let parsons prache and pray— Let priests to pray and prache, sir; What's the rason they Don't practise what they tache, sir? Forral, orral, loll, Forral, orral, laddy—
Sho da slainthah ma collenee agus ma bouchalee. Hoigh, oigh, oigh, healths all! gintlemen seculars! Molshy,' says the friar to my mother-in-law, 'send that bocaun* to bed—poor fellow, he's almost off—rouse yourself, James! It's aisy to see that he's but young at it yet—that's right—he's sound asleep—just toss him into bed, and in an hour or so he'll be as fresh as a daisy.
* A soft, unsophisticated youth.
Let parsons prache and pray— ——-Forral, orral, loll.'
"For dear's sake, Father Rooney,' says my uncle, running in, in a great hurry, 'keep yourself quiet a little; here's the Squire and Mister Francis coming over to fulfil their promise; he would have come up airlier, he says, but that he was away all day at the 'sizes.'
"'Very well,' says the friar, 'let him come—who's afeard—mind yourself, Michael.'
"In a minute or two they came in, and we all rose up of course to welcome them. The Squire shuck hands with the ould people, and afterwards with Mary and myself, wishing us all happiness, then with the two clergymen, and introduced Master Frank to them; and the friar made the young chap sit beside him. The masther then took a sate himself, and looked on while they were dancing, with a smile of good-humor on his face—while they, all the time, would give new touches and trebles, to show off all their steps before him. He was landlord both to my father and father-in-law; and it's he that was the good man, and the gintleman every inch of him. They may all talk as they will, but commend me, Mr. Morrow, to some of the ould squires of former times for a landlord. The priests, with all their larning, were nothing to him for good breeding—he appeared so free, and so much at his ase, and even so respectful, that I don't think there was one in the house but would put their two hands under his feet to do him a sarvice.
"When he sat a while, my mother-in-law came over with a glass of nice punch that she had mixed, at least equal to what the friar praised so well, and making a low curtshy, begged pardon for using such freedom with his honor, but hoped that he would just taste a little to the happiness of the young couple. He then drank our healths, and shuck hands with us both a second time, saying—although I can't, at all at all, give it in anything like his own words—'I am glad,' says he, to Mary's parents, 'that your daughter has made such a good choice;'—throth he did—the Lord be merciful to his sowl—God forgive me for what I was going to say, and he a Protestant;—but if ever one of yez went to heaven, Mr. Morrow, he did;—' such a prudent choice; and I congr—con—grathu-late you,' says he to my father, 'on your connection with so industrious and respectable a family. You are now beginning the world for yourselves,' says he to Mary and me, 'and I cannot propose a better example to you both than that of your respective parents. From this forrid,' says he, 'I'm to considher you my tenants; and I wish to take this opportunity of informing you both, that should you act up to the opinion I entertain of you, by an attentive coorse of industry and good management, you will find in me an encouraging and indulgent landlord. I know, Shane,' says he to me, smiling a little, knowingly enough too, 'that you have been a little wild or so, but that's past, I trust. You have now sarious duties to perform, which you cannot neglect—but you will not neglect them; and be assured, I say again, that I shall feel pleasure in rendhering you every assistance in my power in the cultivation and improvement of your farm.'—'Go over, both of you,' says my father, 'and thank his honor, and promise to do everything he says.' Accordingly, we did so; I made my scrape as well as I could, and Mary blushed to the eyes, and dropp'd her curtshy.
"'Ah!' says the friar, 'see what it is to have a good landlord and a Christian gintleman to dale with. This is the feeling which should always bind a landlord and his tenants together. If I know your character, Squire Whitethorn, I believe you're not the man that would put a Protestant tenant over the head of a Catholic one, which shows, sir, your own good sense; for what is a difference of religion, when people do what they ought to do? Nothing but the name. I trust, sir, we shall meet in a better place than this—both Protestant and Catholic'
"'I am happy, sir,' says the Squire, 'to hear such principles from a man who I thought was bound to hould different opinions.'
"'Ah, sir!' says the friar, 'you little know who you're talking to, if you think so. I happened to be collecting a taste of oats, with the permission of my friend Doctor Corrigan here, for I'm but a poor friar, sir, and dropped in by mere accident; but, you know the hospitality of our country, Squire; and that's enough—go they would not allow me, and I was mintioning to this young gintleman, your son, how we collected the oats, and he insisted on my calling—a generous, noble child! I hope, sir, you have got proper instructors for him?'
"'Yes,' said the Squire; 'I'm taking care of that point.'
"What do you think, sir, but he insists on my calling over to-morrow, that he may give me his share of oats, as I told him that I was a friar, and that he was a little parishioner of mine: but I added, that that wasn't right of him, without his papa's consent.'
"'Well, sir,' says the Squire, 'as he has promised, I will support him; so if you'll ride over to-morrow, you shall have a sack of oats—at all events I shall send you a sack in the course of the day.'
"'I humbly thank you, sir,' says Father Rooney and I thank my noble little parishioner for his generosity to the poor old friar—God mark you to grace, my dear; and wherever you go, take the ould man's blessing along with you.'
"They then bid us good-night, and we rose and saw them to the door.
"Father Corrigan now appeared to be getting sleepy. While this was going on, I looked about me, but couldn't see Mary. The tailor was just beginning to get a little hearty once more. Supper waa talked of, but there was no one that could ate anything; even the friar, was against it. The clergy now got their horses, the friar laving his oats behind him; for we promised to send them home, and something more along with them the next day. Father James was roused up, but could hardly stir with a heddick. Father Corrigan was correct enough; but when the friar got up, he ran a little to the one side, upsetting Sonsy Mary that sat a little beyond him. He then called over my mother-in-law to the dresser, and after some collogin (* whispering) she slipped two fat fowl, that had never been touched, into one of his coat pockets, that was big enough to hould a leg of mutton. My father then called me over and said, 'Shane,' says he, 'hadn't you better slip Father Rooney a bottle or two of that whiskey; there's plenty of it there that wasn't touched, and you won't be a bit the poorer of it, may be, this day twelve months.' I accordingly dropped two bottles of it into the other pocket, so that his Reverence was well balanced any how.
"'Now,' said he, 'before I go, kneel down both of you, till I give you my benediction.'
"We accordingly knelt down, and he gave us his blessing in Latin before he bid us good-night!
"After they went, Mary threw the stocking—all the unmarried folks coming in the dark, to see who it would hit. Bless my sowl, but she was the droll Mary—for what did she do, only put a big brogue of her father's into it, that was near two pounds weight; and who should it hit on the bare sconce, but Billy Cormick, the tailor—who thought he was fairly shot, for it levelled the crathur at once; though that wasn't hard to do any how.
"This was the last ceremony: and Billy was well continted to get the knock, for you all know, whoever the stocking strikes upon is to be married first. After this, my mother and mother-in-law set them to the dancing—and 'twas themselves that kept it up till long after daylight the next morning—but first they called me into the next room where Mary was; and—and—so ends my wedding; by the same token that I'm as dry as a stick."
"Come, Nancy," says Andy Morrow, "replenish again for us all, with a double measure for Shane Fadh—because he well desarves it."
"Why, Shane," observed Alick, "you must have a terrible memory of your own, or you couldn't tell it all so exact."
"There's not a man in the four provinces has sich a memory," replied Shane. "I never hard that story yet, but I could repate it in fifty years afterwards. I could walk up any town in the kingdom, and let me look at the signs and I would give them to you agin jist exactly as they stood."
Thus ended the account of Shane Fadh's wedding; and, after finishing the porter, they all returned home, with an understanding that they were to meet the next night in the same place.
LARRY M'FARLAND'S WAKE.
The succeeding evening found them all assembled about Ned's fireside in the usual manner; where M'Roarkin, after a wheezy fit of coughing and a draught of Nancy's Porter, commenced to give them an account of Larry M'Farland's Wake. We have observed before, that M'Roarkin was desperately asthmatic, a circumstance which he felt to be rather an unpleasant impediment to the indulgence either of his mirth or sorrow. Every chuckle at his own jokes ended in a disastrous fit of coughing; and when he became pathetic, his sorrow was most ungraciously dissipated by the same cause; two facts which were highly relished by his audience.
"Lakry M'Fakland, when a young man, was considered the best laborer within a great ways of him; and no servant-man in the parish got within five shillings a quarter of his wages. Often and often, when his time would be near out, he'd have offers from the rich farmers and gintlemen about him, of higher terms; so that he was seldom with one masther more nor a year at the very most. He could handle a flail with e'er a man that ever stepped in black leather; and at spade-work there wasn't his aquil. Indeed, he had a brain for everything: he could thatch better nor many that arned their bread by it; could make a slide-car, straddle, or any other rough carpenter work, that it would surprise you to think of it; could work a kish or side creel beautifully; mow as much as any two men, and go down a ridge of corn almost as fast as you could walk; was a great hand at ditching, or draining meadows and bogs; but above all things he was famous for building hay-ricks and corn-stacks; and when Squire Farmer used to enter for the prize at the yearly plowing-match, he was sure to borrow the loan of Larry from whatever master he happened to be working with. And well he might, for the year out of four that he hadn't Larry he lost the prize: and every one knew that if Larry had been at the tail of his plough, they would have had a tighter job of it in beating him.
"Larry was a light, airy young man, that knew his own value; and was proud enough, God knows, of what he could do. He was, indeed, two much up to sport and divarsion, and never knew his own mind for a week. It was against him that he never stayed long in one place; for when he got a house of his own afterwards, he had no one that cared anything in particular about him. Whenever any man would hire him, he'd take care to have Easter and Whiss'n Mondays to himself, and one or two of the Christmas Maragahmores.* He was also a great dancer, fond of the dhrop—and used to dress above his station: going about with a shop-cloth coat, cassimoor small-clothes, and a Caroline hat; so that you would little think he was a poor sarvint-man, laboring for his wages. One way or other, the money never sted long with him; but he had light spirits, depended entirely on his good hands, and cared very little about the world, provided he could take his own fling out of it.
* Anglice—Big markets. There are three of these held before Christmas, and one or two before Easter, to enable the country folks to make their markets, and prepare for the more comfortably celebrating those great convivial festivals. They are almost as numerously attended as fairs; for which reason they are termed "big markets."
"In this way he went on from year to year, changing from one master to another; every man that would employ him thinking he might get him to stop with him for a constancy. But it was all useless; he'd be off after half a year, or sometimes a year at the most, for he was fond of roving; and that man would never give himself any trouble about him afterwards; though, may be if he had continted himself with him, and been sober and careful, he would be willing to assist and befriend him, when he might stand in need of assistance.
"It's an ould proverb, that 'birds of a feather flock together,' and Larry was a good proof of this, There was in the same neighborhood a young woman name Sally Lowry, who was just the other end of himself (* meaning his counterpart) for a pair of good hands, a love of dress and of dances. She was well-looking, too, and knew it; light and showy, but a tight and clane sarvint, any way. Larry and she, in short, began to coort, and were pulling a coard together for as good as five or six years. Sally, like Larry, always made a bargain, when hiring, to have the holly-days to herself; and on these occasions she and Larry would meet and sport their figure; going off with themselves, as soon as mass would, be over, into Ballymavourneen, where he would collect a pack of fellows about him, and she a set of her own friends; and there they'd sit down and drink for the length of a day, laving themselves without a penny of whatever little aiming the dress left behind it; for Larry was never right, except when he was giving a thrate to some one or other.
"After corrousing away till evening, they'd then set off to a dance; and when they'd stay there till it would be late, he should see her home, of coorse, never parting till they'd settle upon meeting another day.
"At last they got fairly tired of this, and resolved to take one another for better for worse. Indeed they would have done this long ago, only that they could never get as much together as would pay the priest. Howandever, Larry spoke to his brother, who was a sober, industrious boy, that had laid by his scollops for the windy-day,* and tould him that Sally Lowry and himself were going to yoke for life. Tom was a well-hearted, friendly lad, and thinking that Sally, who bore a good name for being such a clane sarvint, would make a good wife, he lent Larry two guineas, which along with two more that Sally's aunt, who had no childhre of her own, gave her, enabled them to over their difficulties and get married. Shortly after this, his brother Tom followed his example; but as he had saved something, he made up to Val Slevin's daughter, that had a fortune of twenty guineas, a cow and a heifer, with two good chaff beds and bedding.
* In Irish the proverb is—"Ha naha la na guiha la na scuilipagh:" that is, the windy or stormy day is not that on which the scollops should be cut. Scollops are osier twigs, sharpened at both ends, and inserted in the thatch, to bind it at the eave and rigging. The proverb inculcates preparation for future necessity.
"Soon after Tom's marriage, he comes to Larry one day and says 'Larry, you and I are now going to face the world; we're both young', healthy, and willin' to work—so are our wives; and it's bad if we can't make out bread for ourselves, I think.'
"'Thrue for you, Tom,' says Larry, 'and what's to hinder us? I only wish we had a farm, and you'd see we'd take good bread out of it: for my part there's not another he in the country I'd turn my back upon for managing a farm, if I had one.'
"' Well,' says the other, 'that's what I wanted to overhaul as we're together; Squire Dickson's steward was telling me yesterday, as I was coming up from my father-in-law's, that his master has a farm of fourteen acres to set at the present time; the one the Nultys held, that went last spring to America—'twould be a dacent little take between us.'
"'I know every inch of it,' says Larry, 'and good strong land it is, but it was never well wrought; the Nultys weren't fit for it at all; for one of them didn't know how to folly a plough. I'd engage to make that land turn out as good crops as e'er a farm within ten miles of it.'
"'I know that, Larry,' says Tom, 'and Squire Dickson knows that no man could handle it to more advantage. Now if you join me in it, whatever means I have will be as much yours as mine; there's two snug houses under the one roof, with out-houses and all, in good repair—and if Sally and Biddy will pull manfully along with us, I don't see, with the help of Almighty Grod, why we shouldn't get on dacently, and soon be well and comfortable to live.'
"'Comfortable!' savs Larry, 'no, but wealthy itself, Tom: and let us at it at wanst; Squire Dickson knows what I can do as well as any man in Europe; and I'll engage won't be hard upon us for the first year or two; our best plan is to go to-morrow, for fraid some-other might get the foreway of us.'
"The Squire knew very well that two better boys weren't to be met with than the same M'Farlands, in the way of knowing how to manage land; and although he had his doubts as to Larry's light and careless ways, yet he had good depindance out of the brother and thought, on the whole, that they might do very-well together. Accordingly, he set them the farm at a reasonable rint, and in a short time they were both living on it with their two wives. They divided the fourteen acres into aquil parts; and for fraid were would be any grumbling between them about better or worse, Tom proposed that they should draw lots, which was agreed to by Larry; but, indeed, there was very little difference in the two halves; for Tom took care, by the way he divided them, that none of them should have any reason to complain. From the time they wint to live upon their farms, Tom was up early and down late, improving it—paid attention to nothing else; axed every man's opinion as to what crop would be best for such a spot, and to tell the truth he found very few, if any, able to instruct him so well as his own brother Larry. He was no such laborer, however, as Larry—but what he was short in, he made up by perseverance and care.
"In the coorse 'of two or three years you would hardly bleeve how he got on, and his wife was every bit aquil to him. She spun the yarn for the linen that made their own shirts and sheeting, bought an odd pound of wool-now and then when she could get it chape, and put it past till she had a stone or so; she would then sit down and spin it—get it wove and dressed; and before one would know anything about it she'd have the making of a dacent comfortable coat for Tom, and a bit of heather-colored drugget for her own gown, along with a piece of striped red and blue for a petticoat—all at very little cost.
"It wasn't so with Larry. In the beginning, to be sure, while the fit was on him, he did very well; only that he would go off an odd time to a dance; or of a market or fair day, when he'd see the people pass by, dressed in their best clothes, he'd take the notion, and sot off with himself, telling Sally that he'd just go in for a couple of hours, to see how the markets were going on.
"It's always an unpleasant thing for a body to go to a fair or market without anything in their pocket; accordingly, if money was in the house, he'd take some of it with him, for fraid that any friend or acquaintance might thrate him; and then it would be a poor, mane-spirited thing, he would say, to take another man's thrate, without giving one for it. He'd seldom have any notion, though, of breaking in upon or spinding the money, he only brought it to keep his pocket, jist to prevent him from being shamed, should he meet a friend.
"In the manetime, Sally, in his absence, would find herself lonely, and as she hadn't, may be, seen her aunt for some time before, she'd lock the door, and go over to spind a while with her; or take a trip as far as her ould mistress's place to see the family. Many a thing people will have to say to one another about the pleasant times they had together, or several other subjects best known to themselves, of coorse. Larry would come home in her absence, and finding the door locked, would slip down to Squire Dickson's, to chat with the steward or gardener, or with the sarvints in the kitchen.
"You all remimber Torn Hance, that kept the public-house at Tullyvernon cross-roads, a little above the. Squire's—at laste, most of you do—and ould Willy Butledge, the fiddler, that spint his time between Tom's and the big house—God,be good to Wilty!—it's himself was the droll man entirely: he died of ating boiled banes, for a wager that the Squire laid on him agin ould Captain Mint, and dhrinking porter after them till he was swelled like a tun; but the Squire berried him at his own expense. Well, Larry's haunt, on finding Sally out when he came home, was either at the Squire's kitchen, or Tom Hance's; and as he was the broth of a boy at dancing, the sarvints, when he'd go down, would send for Wilty to Hance's, if he didn't happen to be with themselves at the time, and strike up a dance in the kitchen; and, along with all, may be Larry would have a sup in his head.
"When Sally would come home, in her turn, she'd not find Larry before her; but Larry's custom was to go in to Tom's wife, and say,—'Biddy, tell Sally, when she comes home, that I'm gone down awhile to the big house (or to Tom Hance's, as it might be), but I'll not be long.' Sally, after waiting awhile, would put on her cloak, and slip down to see what was keeping him. Of course, when finding the sport going on, and carrying a light heel at the dance herself, she'd throw off the cloak, and take a hand at it along with the rest. Larry and she would then go their ways home, find the fire out, light a sod of turf in Tom's, and feeling their own place very cowld and naked, after the blazing comfortable fire they had left behind them, go to bed, both in very middling spirits entirely.
"Larry, at other times, would quit his work early in the evening, to go down towards the Squire's, bekase he had only to begin work earlier the next day to make it up. He'd meet the Squire himself, may be, and, after putting his hand to his hat, and getting a 'how do you do, Larry,' from his honor, enter into discoorse with him about his honor's plan of stacking his corn. Now, Larry was famous at this.
"'Who's to build your stacks this saison, your honor?'
"'Tim Dillon, Larry.'
"'Is it he, your honor?—he knows as much about building a stack of corn as Mas-ther George, here. He'll only botch them, sir, if you let him go about them.'
"'Yes;' but what can I do, Larry? He's the only man I have that I could trust them to.'
"'Then it's your honor needn't say that anyhow; for rather then see them spoiled, I'd come down myself and put them up for you.'
"'Oh, I couldn't expect that, Larry.'
"Why, then, I'll do it, your honor; and you may expect, me down in the morning at six o'clock, plase God.'
"Larry would keep his word, though his own corn was drop-ripe; and havin' once undertaken the job, he couldn't give it up till he'd, finish it off dacently. In the meantime, his own crop would go to destruction; sometimes a windy day would come, and not leave him every tenth grain; he'd then get some one to cut it down for him—he had to go to the big house, to build the master's corn; he was then all bustle—a great man entirely—there was non such; would be up with, the first light, ordering and commanding, and directing the Squire's laborers, as if he was the king of the castle. Maybe, 'tis after he'd come from the big' house, that he'd, collect a few of the neighbors, and get a couple of cars and horses from the Squire, you see, to bring home his own oats to the hagyard with moonlight, after the dews would begin to fall; and. in a week afterwards every stack would be heated, and all in a reek of froth and smoke. It's not aisy to do anything in a hurry, and especially it's not aisy to build a corn-stack after night, when a man cannot see how it goes on: so 'twas no wonder if Larry's stacks were supporting one another the next day—one leaning north and another south.
"But, along with this, Larry and Sally were great people for going to the dances that Hance used to have at the crass-roads, bekase he wished to put money into his own pocket; and if a neighbor died, they were sure to be the first at the wake-house—for Sally was a great hand at washing down a corpse—-and they would be the last home from the berril; for you know, they couldn't but be axed in to the dhrinking, after the friends would lave the churchyard, to take a sup to raise their spirits and drown sorrow, for grief is always drouthy.
"When the races, too, would come, they would be sure not to miss them; and if you'd go into a tint, it's odds but you'd find them among a knot of acquaintances, dhrinking and dancing, as if the world was no trouble to them. They were, indeed, the best nathured couple in Europe; they would lend you a spade or a hook in potato time or harvest, out of pure kindness, though their own corn, that was drop-ripe, should be uncut, or their potatoes, that were a tramping every day with their own cows or those of the neighbors, should be undug—all for fraid of being thought unneighborly.
"In this way they went on for some years, not altogether so bad but that they were able just to keep the house over their heads. They had a small family of three children on their hands, and every likelihood of having enough of them. Whenever they got a young one christened, they'd be sure to have a whole lot of the neighbors at it; and surely some of the young ladies, or Master George, or John, or Frederick, from the big house, should stand gossip, and have the child called after them. They then should have tay enough to sarve them, and loaf-bread and punch; and though Larry should sell a sack of seed-oats or seed-potatoes to get it, no doubt but there should be a bottle of wine, to thrate the young ladies or gintlemen.
"When their childre grew up, little care was taken of them, bekase their parents minded other people's business more nor their own. They were always in the greatest poverty and distress; for Larry would be killing time about the Squire's, or doing some handy job for a neighbor who could get no other man to do it. They now fell behind entirely in the rint, and Larry got many hints from the Squire that if he didn't pay more attention to his business, he must look after his arrears, or as much of it as he could make up from the cattle and the crop. Larry promised well, as far as words went, and no doubt hoped to be able to perform; but he hadn't steadiness to go through with a thing. Thruth's best;—you see both himself and his wife neglected their business in the beginning, so that everything went at sixes and sevens. They then found themselves uncomfortable at their own hearth, and had no heart to labor: so that what would make a careful person work their fingers to the stumps to get out of poverty, only prevented them from working at all, or druv them to work for those that had more comfort, and could give them a better male's mate than they had themselves.
"Their tempers, now, soon began to get sour: Larry thought, bekase Sally wasn't as careful as she ought to be, that if he had taken any other young woman to his wife, he wouldn't be as he was;—she thought the very same thing of Larry. 'If he was like another,' she would say to his brother, 'that would be up airly and late at his own business, I would have spirits to work, by rason it would cheer my heart to see our little farm looking as warm and comfortable as anothers; but, fareer gairh (* bitter misfortune) that's not the case, nor likely to be so, for he spinds his time from one place to another, working for them that laughs at him for his pains; but he'd rather go to his neck in wather than lay down a hand for himself, except when he can't help it.'
"Larry, again, had his complaint—'Sally's a lazy trollop,' he would say to his brother's wife, 'that never does one hand's turn that she can help, but sits over the fire from morning till night, making bird's nests in the ashes with her yallow heels, or going about from one neighbor's house to another, gosthering and palavering about what doesn't consarn her, instead of minding the house. How can I have heart to work, when I come in—expecting to find my dinner ready; but, instead of that, get her sitting upon her hunkers on the hearthstone; blowing at two or three green sticks with her apron, the pot hanging on the crook, without even the white horses on it.* She never puts a stitch in my clothes, nor in the childher's clothes, nor in her own, but lets them go to rags at once—the divil's luck to her! I wish I had never met with her, or that I had married a sober girl, that wasn't fond of dress and dancing. If she was a good sarvint, it was only because she liked to have a good name; for when she got a house and place of her own, see how she turned out!'
* The white horses are produced by the extrication of air, which rises in white bubbles to the surface when the potatoes are beginning to boil; so that when the first symptoms of boiling commence, it is a usual phrase to say, the white horses are on the pot—sometimes the white friars.
"From less to more, they went on squabbling and fighting, until at last you might see Sally one time with a black eye or a cut head, or another time going off with herself, crying, up to Tom Hance's or some other neighbor's house, to sit down and give a history of the ruction that he and she had on the head of some trifle or another that wasn't worth naming. Their childher were shows, running about without a single stitch upon them, except ould coats that some of the sarvints from the big house would throw them. In these they'd go sailing about,with the long skirts trailing on the ground behind them; and sometimes Larry would be mane enough to take the coat from the gorsoon, and ware it himself. As for giving them any schooling, 'twas what they never thought of; but even if they were inclined to it, there was no school in the neighborhood to send them to, for God knows it's the counthry that was in a neglected state as to schools in those days, as well as now.
"It's a thrue saying, that as the ould cock crows the young one larns; and this was thrue here, for the childher fought one another like so many divils, and swore like Trojans—Larry, along with everything else, when he was a Brine-oge, thought it was a manly thing to be a great swearer; and the childher, when they got able to swear, warn't worse nor their father. At first, when any of the little souls would thry at an oath, Larry would break his heart laughing at them; and so, from one thing to another, they got quite hardened in it, without being any way checked in wickedness. Things at last drew on to a bad state, entirely. Larry and Sally were now as ragged as Dives and Lazarus, and their childher the same. It was no strange sight, in summer, to see the young ones marching about the street as bare as my hand, with scarce a blessed stitch upon them that ever was seen, they dirt and ashes to the eyes, waddling after their uncle Tom's geese and ducks, through the green sink of rotten water that lay before their own door, just beside the dunghill: or the bigger ones running after the Squire's laborers, when bringing home the corn or the hay, wanting to get a ride as they went back with the empty cars.
"Larry and Sally would never be let into the Squire's kitchen now to eat or drink, or spend an evening with the sarvints; he might go out and in to his meal's mate along with the rest of the laborers, but there was no grah (* goodwill) for him. Sally would go down with her jug to get some buttermilk, and have to stand among a set of beggars and cotters, she as ragged and as poor as any of them, for she wouldn't be let into the kitchen till her turn came, no more nor another, for the sarvints would turn up their noses with the greatest disdain possible at them both.
"It was hard to tell whether the inside or the outside of their house was worse;—within, it would amost turn your stomach to look at it—the flure was all dirt, for how could it be any other way, when at the end of every meal the schrahag* would be emptied down on it, and the pig, that was whining and grunting about the door, would brake into the hape of praty-skins that Sally would there throw down for it. You might reel Larry's shirt, or make a surveyor's chain of it; for, bad cess (* Bad success) to me, but I bleeve it would reach from this to the Bath. The blanket was in tatthers, and, like the shirt, would go round the house: their straw-beds were stocked with the black militia—the childer's heads were garrisoned with Scotch greys, and their heels and heads ornamented with all description of kibes. There wor only two stools in all the house, and a hassock of straw for the young child, and one of the stools wanted a leg, so that it was dangerous for a stranger to sit down upon it, except he knew of this failing. The flure was worn into large holes, that were mostly filled up with slop, where the childher used to daddle about, and amuse themselves by sailing egg-shells upon them, with bits of boiled praties in them, by way of a little faste. The dresser was as black as dirt could make it, and had on it only two or three wooden dishes, clasped with tin, and noggins without hoops, a beetle, and some crockery. There was an ould chest to hold their male, but it wanted the hinges; and the childher, when they'd get the mother out, would mix a sup of male and wather in a noggin, and stuff themselves with it, raw and all, for they were almost starved.
"Then, as the cow-house had never been kept in repair, the roof fell in, and the cow and pig had to stand in one end of the dwelling-house; and, except Larry did it, whatever dirt the same cow and pig, and the childher to the back of that, were the occasion of, might stand there till Saturday night, when, for dacency's sake, Sally herself would take a shovel, and out with it upon the hape that was beside the sink before the door. If a wet day came, there wasn't a spot you could stand in for down-rain; and wet or dry, Sally, Larry, and the childher were spotted like trouts with the soot-dhrops, made by the damp of the roof and the smoke. The house on the outside was all in ridges of black dirt, where the thatch had rotted, or covered over with chickenweed or blind-oats; but in the middle of all this misery they had a horseshoe nailed over the door-head for good luck.
"You know, that in telling this story, I needn't mintion everything just as it happened, laying down year after year, or day and date; so you may suppose, as I go on, that all this went forward in the coorse cf time. They didn't get bad of a sudden, but by degrees, neglecting one thing after another, until they found themselves in the state I'm relating to you—then struggling and struggling, but never taking the right way to mend.
"But where's the use in saying much more about it?—things couldn't stand—they were terribly in arrears; but the landlord was a good kind of man, and, for the sake of the poor childher, didn't wish to turn them on the wide world, without house or shelter, bit or sup. Larry, too, had been, and still was, so ready to do difficult and nice jobs for him, and would resave no payment, that he couldn't think of taking his only cow from him or prevent him from raising a bit of oats' or a plat of potatoes, every year, out of the farm.—The farm itself was all run to waste by this time, and had a miserable look about it—sometimes you might see a piece of a field that had been ploughed, all overgrown with grass, because it had never been sowed or set with anything. The slaps were all broken down, or had only a piece of an ould beam, a thorn bush, or crazy car lying acrass, to keep the cattle out of them. His bit of corn was all eat away and cropped here and there by the cows, and his potatoes rooted up by the pigs.—The garden, indeed, had a few cabbages, and a ridge of early potatoes, but these were so choked with burtlocks and nettles, that you could hardly see them.
"I tould you before that they led the divil's life, and that was nothing but God's truth; and according as they got into greater poverty it was worse. A day couldn't pass without a fight; if they'd be at their breakfust, maybe he'd make a potato hop off her skull, and she'd give him the contents of her noggin of buttermilk about the eyes; then he'd flake her, and the childher would be in an uproar, crying out, 'Oh, daddy, daddy, don't kill my mammy!' When this would be over, he'd go off with himself to do something for the Squire, and would sing and laugh so pleasant, that you'd think he was the best-tempered man alive; and so he was, until neglecting his business, and minding dances, and fairs, and drink, destroyed him.
"It's the maxim of the world, that when a man is down, down with him; but when a man goes down through his own fault, he finds very little mercy from any one. Larry might go to fifty fairs before he'd meet any one now to thrate him; instead of that, when he'd make up to them, they'd turn away, or give him the cowld shoulder. But that wouldn't satisfy him: for if he went to buy a slip of a pig, or a pair of brogues, and met an ould acquaintance that had got well to do in the world, he should bring him in, and give him a dram, merely to let the other see that he was still able to do it; then, when they'd sit down, one dram would bring on another from Larry, till the price of the pig or the brogues would be spint, and he'd go home again as he came, sure to have another battle with Sally.
"In this way things went on, when one day that Larry was preparing to sell some oats a son of Nicholas Roe Sheridan's of the Broad bog came in to him. 'Good-morrow,' says he. 'Good-morrow, kindly, Art,' says Larry—'how are you, ma bou-chal?'
"'Why I've no rason to complain, thank God, and you,' says the other; 'how is yourself?'
"'Well, thank you, Art: how is the family?'
"'Faix, all stout except my father, that has got a touch of the toothache. When did you hear from the Slevins?'
"'Sally was down on Thursday last, and they're all well, your soul.'
"'Where's Sally now?'
"'She's just gone down to the big house for a pitcher of buttermilk; our cow won't calve these three weeks to come, and she gets a sup of kitchen for the childher till then; won't you take a sate, Art? but you had better have a care of yourself, for that stool wants a leg.'
"'I didn't care she was within, for I brought a sup of my own stuff in my pocket,' said Art.
"'Here, Hurrish' (he was called Horatio after one of the Square's sons), 'fly down to the Square's, and see what's keeping your mother; the divil's no match for her at staying out with herself wanst she's from under the roof.'
"'Let Dick go,' says the little fellow, 'he's betther able to go nor I am; he has got a coat on him.'
"'Go yourself, when I bid you,' says the father.
"'Let him go,' says Hurrish, 'you have no right to bid me to go, when he has a coat upon him: you promised to ax one for me from Masther Francis, and you didn't do it; so the divil a toe I'll budge to-day,' says he, getting betune the father and the door.
"'Well, wait,' says Larry, 'faix, only the strange man's to the fore, and I don't like to raise a hubbub, I'd pay you for making me such an answer. Dick, agra, will you run down, like a good bouchal, to the big house, and tell your mother to come home, that there's a strange man here wants her?'
"'Twas Hurrish you bid,' says Dick—'and make him: that's the way he always thrates you—does nothing that you bid him.'
"'But you know, Dick,' says the father, 'that he hasn't a stitch to his back, and the crathur doesn't like to go out in the cowld, and he so naked.'
"'Well, you bid him go,' says Dick, 'an let him; the sorrayard I'll go—the shinburnt spalpeen, that's always the way with him; whatever he's bid to do, he throws it on me, bekase, indeed, he has no coat; but he'll folly Masther Thomas or Masther Francis through sleet and snow up the mountains when they're fowling or tracing; he doesn't care about a coat then.'
"'Hurrish, you must go down for your mother when I bid you,' says the weak man, turning again to the other boy.
"I'll not,' says the little fellow; 'send Dick.'
"Larry said no more, but, laying down the child he had in his hands, upon the flure, makes at him; the lad, however, had the door of him, and was off beyant his reach like a shot. He then turned into the house, and meeting Dick, felled him with a blow of his fist at the dresser. 'Tundher-an-ages, Larry,' says Art, 'what has come over you at all at all? to knock down the gorsoon with such a blow! couldn't you take a rod or a switch to him?—Dher manhim, (* By my soul!) man, but I bleeve you've killed him outright,' says he, lifting the boy, and striving to bring him to life. Just at this minit Sally came in.
"'Arrah, sweet bad-luck to you, you lazy vagabond you,' says Larry, 'what kept you away till this hour?'
"'The devil send you news, you nager you,' says Sally, 'what kept me—could I make the people churn sooner than they wished or were ready?'
"'Ho, by my song, I'll flake you as soon as the dacent young man leaves the house,' says Larry to her, aside.
"'You'll flake me, is it?' says Sally, speaking out loud—'in troth, that's no new thing for you to do, any how.'
"'Spake asy, you had betther.'
"'No, in troth, won't I spake asy; I've spoken asy too long, Larry, but the devil a taste of me will bear what I've suffered from you any longer, you mane-spirited blackguard you; for he is nothing else that would rise his hand to a woman, especially to one in my condition, and she put her gown tail to her eyes. When she came in, Art turned his back to her, for fraid she'd see the state the gorsoon was in—but now she noticed it—
"'Oh, murdher, murdher,' says she, clapping her hands, and running over to him, 'what has happened my child? oh! murdher, murdher, this is your work, murdherer!' says she to Larry. 'Oh, you villain, are you bent on murdhering all of us—are you bent on destroying us out o' the face! Oh, wurrah sthrew! wurrah sthrew! what'll become of us! Dick, agra,' says she, crying, 'Dick, acushla machree, don't you hear, me spaiking to you!—don't you hear your poor broken-hearted mother spaking to you? Oh! wurrah! wurrah! amn't I the heart-brokenest crathur that's alive this day, to see the likes of such doings! but I knew it would come to this! My sowl to glory, but my child's murdhered by that man standing there!—by his own father—his own father! Which of us will you murther next, you villain!'
"'For heaven's sake, Sally,' says Art, 'don't exaggerate him more nor he is—the boy is only stunned—see, he's coming to: Dick, ma bouchal, rouse yourself, that's a man: hut! he's well enough—that's it, alannah; here, take a slug out of this bottle, and it'll set all right—or stop, have you a glass within, Sally?' 'Och, inusha, not a glass is under the roof wid me,' says Sally; 'the last we had was broke the night Barney was christened, and we hadn't one since—but I'll get you an egg-shell.'* 'It'll do as well as the best,' says Art. And to make a long story short, they sat down, and drank the bottle of whiskey among them. Larry and Sally made it up, and were as great friends as ever; and Dick was made drunk for the bating he got from his father.
* The ready wit of the Irish is astonishing. It often happens that they have whiskey when neither glasses nor cups are at hand; in which case they are never at a loss. I have seen them use not only egg-shells, but pistol barrels, tobacco boxes, and scooped potatoes, in extreme cases.
"What Art wanted was to buy some oats that Larry had to sell, to run in a private Still, up in the mountains, of coorse, where every Still is kept. Sure enough, Larry sould him the oats, and was to bring them up to the still-house the next night after dark. According to appointment, Art came a short time after night-fall, with two or three young boys along with him. The corn was sacked and put on the horses; but before that was done, they had a dhrop, for Art's pocket and the bottle were ould acquaintances. They all then sat down in Larry's, or, at laste, as many as there were seats for, and fell to it. Larry, however, seemed to be in better humor this night, and more affectionate with Sally and the childher: he'd often look at them, and appear to feel as if something was over him* but no one observed that till afterwards. Sally herself seemed kinder to him, and even went over and sat beside him on the stool, and putting her arm about his neck, kissed him in a joking way, wishing to make up, too, for what Art saw the night before—poor thing—but still as if it wasn't all a joke, for at times she looked sorrowful. Larry, too, got his arm about her, and looked, often and often on her and the childher, in a way that he wasn't used to do, until the tears fairly came into his eyes.
* This is precisely tantamount to what the Scotch call "fey." It means that he felt as if some fatal doom were over him.
"'Sally, avourneen,' says he, looking at her, 'I saw you when you had another look from what you have this night; when it wasn't asy to fellow you in the parish or out of it;' and when he said this he could hardly spake.
"'Whist, Larry, acushla,' says she, 'don't be spaking that way—sure we may do very well yet, plase God: I know, Larry, there was a great dale of it—maybe, indeed, it was all my fault; for I wasn't to you, in the way of care and kindness, what I ought to be.'
"'Well, well, aroon, says Larry, 'say no more; you might have been all that, only it was my fault: but where's Dick, that I struck so terribly last night? Dick, come over to me, agra—come over, Dick, and sit down here beside me. Arrah, here, Art, ma bouchal, will you fill this egg-shell for him?—Poor gorsoon! God knows, Dick, you get far from fair play, acushla—far from the ating and drinking that other people's childher get, that hasn't as good a skin to put it in as you, alannah! Kiss me, Dick, acushla—and God knows your face is pale, and that's not with good feeding, anyhow: Dick, agra, I'm sorry for what I done to you last night; forgive your father, Dick, for I think that my heart's breaking, acushla, and that you won't have me long with you.'
"Poor Dick, who was naturally a warmhearted, affectionate gorsoon, kissed his father, and cried bitterly. Sally herself, seeing Larry so sorry for what he done, sobbed as if she would drop on the spot: but the rest began, and betwixt scoulding and cheering them up, all was as well as ever. Still Larry seemed as if there was something entirely very strange the matter with him, for as he was going out, he kissed all the childher, one after another; and even went over to the young baby that was asleep in the little cradle of boords that he himself had made for it, and kissed it two or three times, asily, for fraid of wakening it. He then met Sally at the door, and catching her hand when none of the rest saw him, squeezed it, and gave her a kiss, saying, 'Sally, darling!' says he.
"'What ails you, Larry, asthore?' says Sally.
"'I don't know,' says he; 'nothing, I bleeve—but Sally, acushla, I have thrated you badly all along. I forgot, avourneen, how I loved you once and now it breaks my heart that I have used you so ill.'
"'Larry she answered, 'don't be talking that way, bekase you make me sorrowful and unasy—don't, acushla: God above me knows I forgive you it all. Don't stay long,' says she 'and I'll borry a lock of meal from Biddy, till we get home our own meldhre, and I'll have a dish of stirabout ready to make for you when you come home. Sure, Larry, who'd forgive you, if I, your own wife, wouldn't? But it's I that wants it from you, Larry; and in the presence of God and ourselves, I now beg your pardon, and ax your forgiveness for all the sin I done to you.' She dropped on her knees, and cried bitterly; but he raised her up, himself a choking at the time, and as the poor crathur got to her feet, she laid herself on his breast, and sobbed out, for she couldn't help it. They then went away, though Larry, to tell the thruth, wouldn't have gone with them at all, only that the sacks were borried from his brother, and he had to bring them home, in regard of Tom wanting them the very next day.
"The night was as dark as pitch—so dark, faiks, that they had to get long pieces of bog fir, which they lit, and held in their hand, like the lights that Ned there says the lamplighters have in Dublin to light the lamps with.
"At last, with a good dale of trouble, they got to the still-house; and, as they had all taken a drop before, you may be sure they were better inclined, to take another now. They, accordingly, sat down about the fine rousing fire that was under the still, and had a right good jorum of strong whiskey that never seen a drop of water. They all were in very good spirits, not thinking of to-morrow, and caring at the time very little about the world as it went.
"When the night was far advanced, they thought of moving home; however, by that time they weren't able to stand: but it's one curse of being drunk, that a man doesn't know what he's about for the time, except some few, like that poaching ould fellow, Billy M'Kinny, that's cuinninger when he's drunk than when he's sober; otherwise they would not have ventured out in the clouds of the night, when it was so dark and severe, and they in such a state.
"At last they staggered away together, for their road lay for a good distance in the same direction. The others got on, and reached home as well as they could; but, although Sally borried the dish of male from her sister-in-law, to have a warm pot of stirabout for Larry, and sat up till the night was more than half gone, waiting for him, yet no Larry made his appearance. The childher, too, all sat up, hoping he'd come home before they'd fall asleep and miss the supper: at last the crathurs, after running about, began to get sleepy, and one head would fall this way and another that way; so Sally thought it hard to let them go without getting their share, and accordingly she put down the pot on a bright fire, and made a good lot of stirabout for them, covering up Larry's share in a red earthen dish before the fire.
"This roused them a little; and they sat about the hearth with their mother, keeping her company with their little chat, till their father would come back.
"The night, for some time before this, got very stormy entirely. The wind ris, and the rain fell as if it came out of methers.* The house was very cowld, and the door was bad; for the wind came in very strong under the foot of it, where the ducks and hens, and the pig when it was little, used to squeeze themselves in when the family was absent, or afther they went to bed. The wind now came whistling under it; and the ould hat and rags, that stopped up the windies, were blown out half a dozen times with such force, that the ashes were carried away almost from the hearth. Sally got very low-spirited on hearing the storm whistling so sorrowfully through the house, for she was afeard that Larry might be out on the dark moors under it; and how any living soul could bear it, she didn't know. The talk of the childhre, too, made her worse; for they were debating among themselves, the crathurs, about what he had better do under the tempest; whether he ought to take the sheltry side of a hillock, or get into a long heather bush or under the ledge of a rock or tree, if he could meet such a thing.
* An old Irish drinking vessel, of a square form, with a handle or ear on each side, out of which all the family drank successively, or in rotation. The expression above is proverbial.
"In the mane time, terrible blasts would come over and through the house, making the ribs crack so that you would think the roof would be taken away at wanst. The fire was now getting low, and Sally had no more turf in the house; so that the childher crouched closer and closer about it, their poor hungry-looking pale faces made paler with fear that the house might come down upon them, or be stripped, and their father from home—and with worse fear that something might happen him under such a tempest of wind and rain as it blew. Indeed it was a pitiful sight to see the ragged crathurs drawing in in a ring nearer and nearer the dying fire; and their poor, naked, half-starved mother, sitting with her youngest infant lying between her knees and her breast; for the bed was too cowld to put it into it, without being kept warm by the heat of them that it used to sleep with."
"Musha, God help her and them," says Ned, "I wish they were here beside me on this comfortable hob, this minute; I'd fight Nancy to get a fog-meal for them, any way—a body can't but pity them afther all!"
"You'd fight Nancy!" said Nancy herself—"maybe Nancy would be as willing to do something for the crathurs as you would—I like every body that's able to pay for what they get! but we ought to have some bowels in us for all that. You'd fight Nancy, indeed!"
"Well," continued the narrator, "there' they sat, with cowld and fear in their pale faces, shiverin' over the remains of the fire, for it was now nearly out, and thinking, as the deadly blast would drive through the creaking ould door and the half-stuffed windies, of what their father would do under such a terrible night. Poor Sally, sad and sorrowful, was thinking of all their ould quarrels, and taking the blame all to herself for not bein' more attentive to her business, and more kind to Larry; and when she thought of the way she thrated him, and the ill-tongue she used to give him, the tears began to roll from her eyes, and she rocked herself from side to side, sobbing as if her heart would brake. When the childher saw her wiping her eyes with the corner of the little handkerchief that she had about her neck, they began to cry along with her. At last she thought, as it was now so late, that it would be folly to sit up any longer; she hoped, too, that he might have thought of going into some neighbor's house on his way, to take shelter, and with these thoughts, she raked the greeshough (* warm ashes and embers) over the fire, and after, putting the childher in their little straw nest, and spreading their own rags over them, she and the young one went to bed, although she couldn't sleep at all at all, for thinking of Larry.
"There she lay, trembling under the light cover of the bed-clothes, for they missed Larry's coat, listening to the dreadful night that was in it, so lonely, that the very noise of the cow, in the other corner, chewing her cud, in the silence of a short calm, was a great relief to her. It was a long time before she could get a wink of sleep, for there was some uncommon weight upon her that she couldn't account for by any chance; but after she had been lying for about half an hour, she heard something that almost fairly knocked her up. It was the voice of a woman, crying and wailing in the greatest distress, as if all belonging to her were under-boord.
"When Sally heard it first, she thought it was nothing but the whistling of the wind; but it soon came again, more sorrowful than before, and as the storm arose, it rose upon the blast along with it, so strange and mournful that she never before heard the like of it. 'The Lord be about us!' said she to herself, 'what can that be at all?—or who is it? for its not Nelly,' maning her sister-in-law. Again she listened, and there was, sobbing and sighing in the greatest grief, and she thought she heard it louder than ever, only that this time it seemed to name whomsoever it was lamenting. Sally now got up and put her ear to the door, to see if she could hear what it said. At this time the wind got calmer, and the voice also got lower; but although it was still sorrowful, she never heard any living Christian's voice so sweet, and what was very odd, it fell in fits, exactly as the storm sunk, and rose as it blew louder.
"When she put her ear to the chink of the door, she heard the words repeated, no doubt of it, only couldn't be quite sure, as they wern't very plain; but as far as she could make any sense out of them, she thought that it said—'Oh, Larry M'Farland!—Larry M'Farland!—Larry M'Farland!'
"Sally's hair stood on end when she heard this; but on listening again, she thought it was her own name instead of Larry's that it repeated, and that it said, 'Sally M'Farland!—Sally M'Farland!—Sally M'Farland!' Still she wasn't sure, for the words wern't plain, and all she could think was, that they resembled her own name or Larry's more than any other words she knew. At last, as the wind fell again, it melted away, weeping most sorrowfully, but so sweetly, that the likes of it was never heard. Sally then went to bed, and the poor woman was so harrished with one thing or another, that at last she fell asleep."
"'Twas the Banshee," said Shane Fadh.
"Indeed it was nothing else than that same," replied M'Roarkin.
"I wonder Sally didn't think of-that," said Nancy—"sure she might know that no living crathur would be out lamenting under such a night as that was."
"She did think of that," said Tom; "but as no Banshee ever followed her own* family, didn't suppose that it could be such a thing; but she forgot that it might follow Larry's. I, myself, heard his brother Tom say, afterwards, that a Banshee used always to be heard before any of them died."
* The Banshee in Ireland is, or rather was, said to follow only particular families—principally the Old Milesians. It appeared or was heard before the death of any member of the family. Its form was always that of a female—weeping, wailing, wringing its hands, and uttering the national keene, or lamentation for the dead. Banshee signifies gentle woman.
"Did his brother hear it?" Ned inquired.
"He did," said Tom, "and his wife along with him, and knew, at once, that some death would happen in the family—but it wasn't long till he suspected who it came for; for, as he was going to bed that night, on looking towards his own hearth, he thought he saw his brother standing at the fire, with a very sorrowful face upon him. 'Why, Larry,' says he, 'how did you get in, after me barring the door?—or did you turn back from helping them with the corn? You surely hadn't time to go half the way since.'
"Larry, however, made him no answer; and, on looking for him again, there was no Larry there for him. 'Nelly,' says he to his wife, 'did you see any sight of Larry since, he went to the still-house?' 'Arrah, no indeed, Tom,' says she; 'what's coming over you to spake to the man that's near Drum-furrar by this time?' 'God keep him from harm!' said Tom;—'poor fellow, I wish nothing ill may happen him this night! I'm afeard, Nelly, that I saw his fetch;* and if I did, he hasn't long to live; for when one's fetch is seen at this time of night, their lase of life, let them be sick or in health, is always short.'
* This in the North of Ireland is called wraith, as in Scotland. The Fetch is a spirit that assumes the likeness of a particular person. It does not appear to the individual himself whose resemblance it assumes, but to some of his friends. If it is seen in the morning, it betokens long life; if after sunset, approaching death; after nightfall, immediate death.
"'Hut, Tom aroon!' says Nelly, 'it was the shadow of the jamb or yourself you saw in the light of the candle, or the shadow of the bed-post.'
"The next morning they were all up, hoping that he would drop in to them. Sally got a creel of turf, notwithstanding her condition, and put down a good fire to warm him; but the morning passed, and no sign of him. She now got very unasy, and mintioned to his brother what she felt, and Tom went up to the still-house to know if he was there, or to try if he could get any tidings of him. But, by the laws! when he heard that he had left that for home the night before, and he in a state of liquor, putting this, and what he had heard and seen in his house together, Tom knew that something must have happened him. He went home again, and on his way had his eye about him, thinking that it would be no miracle, if he'd meet him lying head-foremost in a ditch; however, he did not, but went on, expecting to find him at home before him.
"In the mane time, the neighbors had been all raised to search for him; and, indeed, the hills were alive with people. It was the second day after, that Sally was standing, looking out at her own door towards the mountains, expecting that every man with a blue coat upon him might be Larry, when she saw a crowd of people coming down the hills. Her heart leaped to her mouth, and she sent Dick, the eldest of the sons, to meet them, and run back with word to her if he was among them. Dick went away; but he hadn't gone far when he met his uncle Tom, coming on before the rest.
"'Uncle,' says Dick, 'did you get my father? for I must fly back with word to my mother, like lightning.'
"'Come here, Dick,' says Tom; 'God help you, my poor bouchal (* boy)—Come here, and walk alongside of me, for you can't go back to your mother, till I see her first—God help you, my poor bouchal, it's you that's to be pitied, this blessed and sorrowful day;' and the poor fellow could by no means keep in the tears. But he was saved the trouble of breaking the dismal tidings to poor Sally; for as she stood watching the crowd, she saw a door carried upon their shoulders, with something like a man stretched upon it. She turned in, feeling as if a bullet had gone through her head, and sat down with her back to the door, for fraid she might see the thruth, for she couldn't be quite sure, they we're at such a distance. At last she ventured to take another look out, for she couldn't bear what she felt within her, and just as she rose and came to the door, the first thing she saw coming down the hill a little above the house, was the body of her husband stretched on a door—dead. At that minute, her brother-in-law, Tom, just entered, in time to prevent her and the child she had in her arms from falling on the flure. She had seen enough, God help her!—for she took labor that instant, and, in about two hours, afterwards, was stretched a corpse beside her husband, with her heart-broken and desolate orphans in an uproar of outher misery about them. That was the end of Larry M'Farland and Sally Lowry; two that might have done well in the world, had they taken care of themselves—avoided, fairs and markets—except when they had business there—not given themselves idle fashions by drinking, or going to dances, and wrought as well for themselves as they did for others."