"But how did he lose his life, at all at all?" inquired Nancy.
"Why, they found his hat in a bog-hole upon the water, and on searching the hole itself poor Larry was fished up from the bottom of it."
"Well, that's a murdhering sorrowful story," said Shane Fadh: "but you won't be after passing that on us for the wake, ainy how."
"Well, you must learn patience, Shane," said the narrator, "for you know patience is a virtue."
"I'll warrant you that Tom and his wife made a better hand of themselves," said Alick M'Kinley, "than Larry and Sally did."
"Ah! I wouldn't fear, Alick," said Tom, "but you would come at the truth—'tis you that may say they did; there wasn't two in the parish more comfortable than the same two, at the very time that Larry and Sally came by their deaths. It would do you good to look at their hagyard—the corn stacks were so nately roped and trimmed, and the walls so well made up, that a bird could scarcely get into it. Their barn and cowhouse, too, and dwelling-house, were all comfortably thatched, and the windies all glazed, with not a broken pane in them. Altogether they had come on wondherfully; sould a good dale of male and praties every year; so that in a short time they were able to lay by a little money to help to fortune off their little girls, that were growing up fine colleens, all out."
"And you may add, I suppose," said Andy Morrow, "that they lost no time going to fairs and dances, or other foolish divarsions. I'll engage they never were at a dance in the Squire's kitchen; that they never went about losing their time working for others, when their own business was going at sixes and sevens, for want of hands; nor spent their money drinking and thrating a parcel of friends that only laugh at them for their pains, and wouldn't, maybe, put one foot past the other to sarve them; nor never fought and abused one another for what they both were guilty of."
"Well," says Tom, "you have saved me some trouble, Mr. Morrow, for you just said, to a hair, what they were. But I mustn't forget to mintion one thing that I saw the morning of the berril. We were,—about a dozen neighbors of us, talking in the street, just before the door; both the hagyards were forninst us—Tom's snug and nate—but Charley Lawdher had to go over from where we stood to drive the pig out of poor Larry's. There was one of the stacks with the side out of it, just as he had drawn away the sheaves from time to time; for the stack leaned to one side, and he pulled sheaves out of the other side to keep it straight. Now, Mr. Morrow, wasn't he an unfortunate man? for whoever would go down to Squire Dickson's hagyard, would see the same Larry's handiwork so beautiful and illegant, though his own was in such brutheen.* Even his barn to wrack; and he was obliged to thrash his oats in the open air when ther would be a frost, and he used to lose one-third of it; and if there came a thaw, 'twould almost brake the crathur."
* Brutheen is potatoes champed with butter. Anything in a loose, broken, and irregular state, is said to be in brutheen—that is in disorder and contusion.
"God knows," said Nancy, looking over at Ned very significantly, "and Larry's not alone in neglecting his business; that is, if certain people were allowed to take their own way; but the truth of it is, that he met with a bad woman. If he had a careful, sober, industrious wife of his own, that would take care of the house and place—(Biddy, will you hand me over that other dew out of the windy-stool there till I finish this stocking for Ned)—the story would have another ending any how."
"In throth," said Tom, "that's no more than thruth, Nancy; but he had not, and everything went to the bad with them entirely."
"It's a thousand pities he hadn't yourself, Nancy," said Alick, grinning; "if he had, I haven't the laste doubt at all, but he'd die worth money."
"Go on, Alick—go on, Avick; I will give you lave to have your joke, any way; for it's you that's the patthern to any man that would wish to thrive in the world."
"If Ned dies, Nancy, I don't know a woman I'd prefer; I'm now a widdy' these five years; and I feel, somehow, particularly since I began to spend my evenings here, that I'm disremembering very much the old proverb—a burnt child, dreads the fire.'"
* The peasantry of a great portion of Ireland use this word as applicable to both sexes.
"Thank you, Alick; you think I swallow that; but as for Ned, the never a fear of him; except that an increasing stomach is a sign of something; or what's the best chance of all, Alick, for you and me, that he should meet Larry's fate in some of his drunken fits."
"Now, Nancy," says Ned, "there's no use in talking that way; it's only last Thursday, Mr. Morrow, that, in presence of her own brother, Jemmy Connolly, the breeches-maker, and Billy M'Kinny, there, that I put my two five fingers acrass, and swore solemnly by them five crosses, that, except my mind changed, I'd never drink more nor one-half pint of spirits and three pints of porther in a day."
"Oh, hould your tongue, Ned—hould your tongue, and don't make me spake," said Nancy; "God help you! many a time you've put the same fingers acrass, and many a time your mind has changed; but I'll say no more now—wait till we see how you'll keep it."
"Healths a-piece, your sowls," said Ned, winking at the company.
"Well, Tom," said Andy Morrow, "about the wake?"
"Och, och! that was the merry wake, Mr. Morrow. From that day to this I remarked, that, living or dead, them that won't respect themselves, or take care of their families, won't be respected: and sure enough, I saw full proof of that same at poor Larry's wake. Many a time afterwards I pitied the childher, for if they had seen better, they wouldn't turn out as they did—all but the two youngest, that their uncle took to himself, and reared afterwards; but they had no one to look afther them, and how could it be expected from what they seen, that good could come of them? Squire Dickson gave Tom the other seven acres, although he could have got a higher rint from others; but he was an industrious man that desarved encouragement, and he got it."
"I suppose Tom was at the expense of Larry's berrin, as well as of his marriage," said Alick.
"In troth and he was," said Tom, "although he didn't desarve it from him when he was alive;* seeing he neglected many a good advice that Tom and his dacent woman of a wife often gave him; for all that, blood is thicker than wather—and it's he that waked and berried him dacently; by the same token that there was both full and plenty of the best over him: and everything, as far as Tom was consarned, dacint and creditable about the place."
* The genuine blunders of the Irish—not those studied for them by men ignorant of their modes of expression and habits of life—are always significant, clear, and full of strong sense and moral truth.
"He did it for his own sake, of coorse," said Nancy, "bekase one wouldn't wish, if—they had it at all, to see any one belonging to them worse off than another at their wake or berrin."
"Thrue for you, Nancy," said M'Roarkin, "and, indeed, Tom was well spoken of by the neighbors for his kindness to his brother after his death; and luck and grace attended him for it, and the world flowed upon him before it came to his own turn."
"Well, when a body dies even a natural death, it's wondherful how soon it goes about; but when they come to an untimely one, it spreads like fire on a dry mountain."
"Was there no inquest?" asked Andy Morrow.
"The sorra inquist, not making you an ill answer, sir—the people weren't so exact in them days: but any how the man was dead, and what good could an inquist do him? The only thing that grieved them was, that they both died without the priest; and well it might, for it's an awful thing entirely to die without having the clargy's hands over a body. I tould you that the news of his death spread over all the counthry in less than no time. Accordingly, in the coorse of the day, their relations began to come to the place; but, any way, messengers had been sent especially for them.
"The squire very kindly lent sheets for them both to be laid out in, and mould candle-sticks to hould the lights; and, God he knows, 'twas a grievous sight to see the father and mother both stretched beside one another in their poor place, and their little orphans about them; the gorsoons,—them that had sense enough to know their loss,—breaking their hearts, the craythurs, and so hoarse, that they weren't able to cry or spake. But, indeed, it was worse to see the two young things going over, and wanting to get acrass to waken their daddy and mammy, poor desolit childher!
"When the corpses were washed and dressed, they looked uncommonly well, consitherin'. Larry, indeed, didn't bear death so well as Sally; but you couldn't meet a purtier corpse than she was in a day's travelling. I say, when they were washed and dressed, their friends and neighbors knelt down around them, and offered up a Pather and Ave a-piece, for the good of their sowls: when this was done, they all raised the keena, stooping over them at a half bend, clapping their hands, and praising them, as far as they could say anything good of them; and indeed, the craythurs, they were never any one's enemy but their own, so that nobody could say an ill word of either of them. Bad luck to it for potteen-work every day it rises! only for it, that couple's poor orphans wouldn't be left without father or mother as they were; nor poor Hurrish go the gray gate he did, if he had his father living, may be; but having nobody to bridle him in, he took to horse riding for the squire, and then to staling them for himself. He was hanged afterwards, along with Peter Doraghy Crolly, that shot Ned Wilson's uncle of the Black Hills.
"After the first keening, the friends and neighbors took their sates about the corpse. In a short time, whiskey, pipes, snuff, and tobacco came, and every one about the place got a glass and a fresh pipe. Tom, when he held his glass in his hand, looking at his dead brother, filled up to the eyes, and couldn't for some time get out a word; at last, when he was able to spake—'Poor Larry,'says he, 'you're lying there low before me, and many a happy day we spint with one another. When we were childher,' said he, turning to the rest, 'we were never asunder; he was oulder nor me by two years, and can I ever forget the leathering he gave Dick Rafferty long ago, for hitting me with the rotten egg—although Dick was a great dale bigger than either of us. God knows, although you didn't thrive in life, either of you, as you might and could have done, there wasn't a more neighborly or friendly couple in the parish they lived in; and now, God help them both, and their poor orphans over them! Larry, acushla, your health, and Sally, yours; and may God Almighty have marcy on both your sowls.'
"After this, the neighbors began to flock in more generally. When any relation of the corpses would come, as soon, you see, as they'd get inside the door, whether man or woman, they'd raise the shout of a keena, and all the people about the dead would begin along with them, stooping over them and clapping their hands as before.
"Well, I said, it's it that was the merry wake, and that was only the thruth, neighbors. As soon as night came, all the young boys and girls from the countryside about them flocked to it in scores. In a short time the house was crowded; and maybe there wasn't laughing, and story-telling, and singing, and smoking, and drinking, and crying—all going on, heller-skelter, together. When they'd be all in full chorus this way, may be, some new friend or relation, that wasn't there before, would come in, and raise the keena; of coorse, the youngsters would then keep quiet; and if the person coming in was from the one neighborhood with any of them that were so merry, as soon as he'd raise the shout, the merry folks would rise up, begin to pelt their hands together, and cry along with him till their eyes would be as red as a ferret's. That once over, they'd be down again at the songs, and divarsion, and divilment—just as if nothing of the kind had taken place: the other would then shake hands with the friends of the corpses, get a glass or two, and a pipe, and in a few minutes be as merry as the best of them."
"Well," said Andy Morrow, "I should like to know if the Scotch and English are such heerum-skeerum kind of people as we Irishmen are."
"Musha, in throth I'm sure they're not," says Nancy, "for I believe that Irishmen are like nobody in the wide world but themselves; quare crathurs, that'll laugh or cry, or fight with any one, just for nothing else, good or bad but company."
"Indeed, and you all know, that what I'm sayin's thruth, except Mr. Morrow there, that I'm telling it to, bekase he's not in the habit of going to wakes; although, to do him justice he's very friendly in going to a neighbor's funeral; and, indeed, kind father for you* Mr. Morrow, for it's he that was a real good hand at going to such places.
* That is, in this point you are the, same kind as your father; possessing that prominent trait in his disposition or character.
"Well, as I was telling you, there was great sport going on. In one corner, you might see a knot of ould men sitting together, talking over ould times—ghost stores, fairy tales, or the great rebellion of '41, and the strange story of Lamh Dearg, or the bloody hand—that, maybe, I'll tell you all some other night, plase God: there they'd sit smoking—their faces quite plased with the pleasure of the pipe—amusing themselves and a crowd of people, that would be listening to them with open mouth. Or, it's odd, but there would be some droll young fellow among them, taking a rise out of them; and, positively, he'd often find, them able enough for him, particularly ould Ned Magin, that wanted at the time only four years of a hundred. The Lord be good to him, and rest his sowl in glory, it's he that was the pleasant ould man, and could tell a story with any one that ever got up.
"In another corner there was a different set, bent on some piece of divilment of their own. The boys would be sure to get beside their sweethearts, any how; and if there was a purty girl, as you may set it down there was, it's there the skroodging, (* pressure of the crowd) and the pushing, and the shoving, and, sometimes, the knocking down itself, would be, about seeing who'd get her. There's ould Katty Duffy, that's now as crooked as the hind leg of a dog, and it's herself was then as straight as a rush, and as blooming as a rose—Lord bless us, what an alteration time makes upon the strongest and fairest of us!—it's she that was the purty girl that night, and it's myself that gave Frank M'Shane, that's still alive to acknowledge it, the broad of his back upon the flure, when he thought to pull her off my knee. The very gorsoons and girshas were sporting away among themselves, and learning one another to smoke in the dark corners. But all this, Mr. Morrow, took place in the corpse-house, before ten or eleven o'clock at night; after that time the house got too thronged entirely, and couldn't huld the half of them; so by jing, off we set, maning all the youngsters of us, both boys and girls, out to Tom's barn, that was red up (* Cleared up for us—set in order), there to commence the plays. When we were gone, the ould people had more room, and they moved about on the sates we had left them. In the mane time, lashings of tobacco and snuff, cut in platefuls, and piles of fresh new pipes, were laid on the table for any one that wished to use them.
"When we got to the barn, it's then we took our pumps off (* Threw aside all restraint) in airnest—by the hokey, such sport you never saw. The first play we began was Hot-loof; and maybe there wasn't skelping then. It was the two parishes of Errigle-Keeran and Errigle-Truagh against one another. There was the Slip from Althadhawan, for Errigle-Truagh, against Pat M'Ardle, that had married Lanty Gorman's daughter of Cargach, for Errigle-Keeran. The way they play it, Mr. Morrow, is this—two young men out of each parish go out upon the flure—one of them stands up, then bends himself, sir, at a half bend, placing his left hand behind on the back part of his ham, keeping it there to receive what it's to get. Well, there he stands, and the other coming behind him, places his left foot out before him, doubles up the cuff of his coat, to give his hand and wrist freedom: he then rises his right arm, coming down with the heel of his hand upon the other fellow's palm, under him, with full force. By jing, it's the divil's own divarsion; for you might as well get a stroke of a sledge as a blow from one of them able, hard-working fellows, with hands upon them like lime-stone. When the fellow that's down gets it hot and heavy, the man that struck him stands bent in his place, and some friend of the other comes down upon him, and pays him for what the other fellow got.
"In this way they take it, turn about, one out of each parish, till it's over; for I believe if they were to pelt one another since (* from that hour to this), that they'd never give up. Bless my soul, but it was terrible to hear the strokes that the Slip and Pat M'Ardle did give that night. The Slip was a young fellow upwards of six feet, with great able bones and little flesh, but terrible thick shinnins (*sinews); his wrist was as hard and strong as a bar of iron. M'Ardle was a low, broad man, with a rucket head and bull neck, and a pair of shoulders that you could hardly get your arms about, Mr. Morrow, long as they are; it's he, indeed, that was the firm, well built chap, entirely. At any rate, a man might as well get a kick from a horse as a stroke from either of them.
"Little Jemmy Teague, I remimber, struck a cousin of the Slip's a very smart blow, that made him dance about the room, and blow his fingers for ten minutes after it. Jemmy, himself, was a tight, smart fellow. When the Slip saw what his cousin had got, he rises up, and stands over Jemmy so coolly, and with such good humor, that every one in the house trembled for poor Jemmy, bekase, you see, whenever the Slip was bent on mischief, he used always to grin. Jemmy, however, kept himself bent firm; and to do him justice, didn't flinch from under the stroke, as many of them did—no, he was like a rock. Well, the Slip, as I said, stood over him, fixing himself for the stroke, and coming down with such a pelt on poor Jemmy's hand, that the first thing we saw was the blood acrass the Slip's own legs and feet, that had burst out of poor Jemmy's finger-ends. The Slip then stooped to receive the next blow himself, and you may be sure there was above two dozen up to be at him. No matter; one man they all gave way to, and that was Pat M'Ardle.
"'Hould away,' says Pat,—'clear off, boys, all of you—this stroke's mine by right, any how;—and,' says he, swearing a terrible oath, 'if you don't sup sorrow for that stroke,' says he to the Slip, 'why Pat M'Ardle's not behind you here.'
"He, then, up with his arm, and came down—why, you would think that the stroke he gave the Slip had druv his right hand into his body: but, any way, it's he that took full satisfaction for what his cousin got; for if the Slip's fingers had been cut off at the tops, the blood couldn't spring out from under his nails more nor it did. After this the Slip couldn't strike another blow, bekase his hand was disabled out and out.
"The next play they went to was the Sitting Brogue. This is played by a ring of them sitting down upon the bare ground, keeping their knees up. A shoemaker's leather apron is then got, or a good stout brogue, and sent round under their knees. In the mane time one stands in the middle; and after the brogue is sent round, he is to catch it as soon as he can. While he stands there, of course, his back must be to some one, and accordingly those that are behind him thump him right and left with the brogue, while he, all the time, is striving to catch it. Whoever he catches this brogue with must stand up in his place, while he sits down where the other had been, and then the play goes on as before.
"There's another play called the Standing Brogue—where one man gets a brogue of the same kind, and another stands up facing him with his hands locked together, forming an arch turned upside down. The man that houlds the brogue then strikes him with it betune the hands; and even the smartest fellow receives several pelts before he is able to close his hands and catch it; but when he does, he becomes brogueman, and the man who held the brogue stands for him, until he catches it. The same thing is gone through, from one, to another, on each side, until it is over.
"The next is Frimsy Framty, and is played in this manner:—A chair or stool is placed in the middle of the flure, and the man who manages the play sits down upon it, and calls his sweetheart, or the prettiest girl in the house. She, accordingly, comes forward, and must kiss him. He then rises up, and she sits down. 'Come, now,' he says, 'fair maid—Frimsy framsy, who's your fancy?' She then calls them she likes best, and when the young man she calls comes over and kisses her, he then takes her place, and calls another girl—and so on, smacking away for a couple of hours. Well, throth, it's no wonder that Ireland's full of people; for I believe they do nothing but coort from the time they're the hoith of my leg. I dunno is it true, as I hear Captain Sloethern's steward say, that the Englishwomen are so fond of Irishmen?"
"To be sure it is," said Shane Fadh; "don't I remimber myself, when Mr. Fowler went to England—and he as fine looking a young-man, at the time, as ever got into a saddle—he was riding up the street of London, one day, and his servant after him—and by the same token he was a thousand pound worse than nothing; but no matter for that, you see luck was before him—what do you think, but a rich dressed livery servant came out, and stopping the Squire's man, axed whose servant he was?
"'Why, thin,' says Ned Magavran, who-was his body servant at the time, 'bad luck to you, you spalpeen, what a question do you ax, and you have eyes in your head!' says he—'hard feeling to you!' says he, 'you vagabone, don't you see I'm my master's?'
"The Englishman laughed. 'I know that, Paddy,' says he—for they call us all Paddies in England, as if we had only one name among us, the thieves; 'but I wish to know his name,' says the Englishman.
"'You do!' says Ned; 'and by the powers!' says he, 'but you must first tell me which side of the head you'd wish to hear it an.'
"'Oh! as for that,' says the Englishman—not up to him, you see——'I don't care much, Paddy, only let me hear it, and where he lives.'
"'Just keep your ground, then,' says Ned, 'till I light off this blood-horse of mine'—he was an ould garron that was fattened up, not worth forty shillings—'this blood-horse of mine,' says Ned, 'and I'll tell you.'
"So down he gets, and lays the Englishman sprawling in the channel.
"' Take that, you vagabone! says he, and it'll larn you to call people by their right names agin: I was christened as well as you, you spalpeen!'
"All this time the lady was looking out of the windy, breaking her heart laughing at Ned and the servant; but, behould!—she knew a thing or two, it seems; for, instead of sending a man at all at all, what does she do but sends her own maid—a very purty girl, who comes up to Ned, putting the same question to him.
"'What's his name, avourneen?' says Ned, melting, to be sure, at the sight of her 'Why, then, darling, who could refuse you anything?—but, you jewel! by the hoky, you must bribe me or I'm dumb,' says he.
"'How could I bribe you?' says she, with a sly smile—for Ned himself was a well-looking young fellow at the time.
"'I'll show you that,' says Ned, 'if you tell me where you live; but, for fraid you forget it—with them two lips of your own, my darling.'
"'There, in that great house,' says the maid; 'my mistress is one of the beautifullest and richest young ladies in London, and she wishes to know where your master could be heard of.'
"'Is that the house?' says Ned, pointing to it.
"'Exactly', says she: 'that's it.' 'Well, acushla,' says he, 'you've a purty and an innocent-looking face; but I'm tould there's many a trap in London well baited. Just only run over while I'm looking at you, and let me see that purty face of yours smiling at me out of the windy that that young lady is peeping at us from.'
"This she had to do.
"'My master,' thought Ned, while she was away, 'will aisily find out what kind of a house it is, any how, if that be it.'
"In a short time he saw her in the windy, and Ned then gave her a sign to come down to him.
"'My master,' says he, 'never was afeard to show his face, or tell his name to any one—he's a Squire Fowler,' says he—'a Sarjen-major in a great militia regiment: he shot five men in his time; and there's not a gentleman in the country he lives in that dare say Boo to his blanket. And now, what's your name,' says Ned, 'you flattering little blackguard you?'
"'My name's Betty Cunningham,' says she.
"'And next, what's your mistress's, my darling?' says Ned.
"'There it is,' says she, handing him a card.
"'Very well,' says Ned, the thief, looking at it with a great air, making as if he could read; 'this will just do, a colleen bawn.'
"'Do you read in your country with the wrong side of the print up?' says she.
"'Up or down,' says Ned, 'it's all one to us in Ireland; but, any how, I'm left-handed, you deluder!'
"The upshot of it was, that her mistress turned out to be a great hairess, and a great beauty; and she and Fowler got married in less than a month. So, you see, it's true enough that the Englishwomen are fond of Irishmen," says Shane; "but, Tom, with, submission for stopping you, go on with your Wake."
"The next play, then, is Marrying——"
"Hooh!" says Andy Morrow, "why, all their plays are about kissing and marrying, and the like of that."
"Surely and they are, sir," says Tom.
"It's all the nathur of the baste," says Alick.
"The next is marrying. A bouchal puts an ould dark coat on him, and if he can, borry a wig from any of the ould men in the wake-house, why, well and good, he's the liker his work—this is the priest; he takes, and drives all the young men out of the house, and shuts the door upon them, so, that they can't get in till he lets them. He then ranges the girls all beside one another, and, going to the first, makes her name him she wishes to be her husband; this she does, of coorse, and the priest lugs him in, shutting the door upon the rest. He then pronounces this marriage sarvice, when the husband smacks her first, and then the priest:—'Amo amas, avourneen—in nomine gomine, betwuxt and between—for hoc erat in votis, squeeze 'em please 'em—omnia vincit amor, wid two horns to caput nap it—poluphlasboio, the lasses—'Quid,' says Cleopatra; 'Shid,' says Antony—ragibus et clatibus solemus stapere windous—nine months—big-bottle, and a honeymoon—Alneas poque Dido' poque Roymachree—hum not fiem viat—lag rag, merry kerry, Parawig and breeches—hoc manifestibus omnium—Kiss your wife under the nose, then seek repose.' 'Tis' done,' says the priest. 'Vinculum trinculum; and now you're married. Amen!' Well, these two are married, and he places his wife upon his knee, for fraid of taking up too much room, you persave; there they coort away again, and why shouldn't they?
"The priest then goes to the next, and makes her name her husband; this is complied with, and he is brought in after the same manner, but no one else till they're called: he is then married, and kisses his wife, and the priest kisses her after him; and so they're all married.
"But if you'd see them that don't chance to be called at all, the figure they cut—slipping into some dark corner, to avoid the mobbing they get from the priest and the others. When they're all united, they must each sing a song—man and wife, according as they sit; or if they can't sing, or get some one to do it for them, they're divorced. But the priest, himself, usually lilts for any one that's not able to give a verse. You see, Mr. Morrow, there's always in the neighborhood some droll fellow that takes all these things upon him, and if he happened to be absent, the wake would be quite dull."
"Well," said Andy Morrow, "have you any more of their sports; Tom?"
"Ay, have I; one of the best and pleasantest you heard yet."
"I hope there's no more coorting in it," says Nancy; "God knows we're tired of their kissing and marrying."
"Were you always so?" says Ned, across the fire to her.
"Behave yourself, Ned," says she; "don't you make me spake; sure you were set down as the greatest Brine-oge that ever was known, in the parish, for such things."
"No, but don't you make me spake," replies Ned.
"Here, Biddy," said Nancy, "bring that uncle of yours another pint; that's what he wants most at the present time, I'm thinking."
Biddy, accordingly, complied with this.
"Don't make me spake," continued Ned.
"Come, Ned," she replied, "you've got a fresh pint now; so drink it, and give me no more gosther. (* Gossip—Idle talk.)
"Shuid-urth!"* says Ned, putting the pint to his head, and winking slyly at the rest.
* This to you, or upon you; a form of drinking healths.
"Ay, wink; in troth I'll be up to you for that, Ned," says Nancy; by no means satisfied that Ned should enter into particulars. "Well, Tom," says she, diverting the conversation, "go on, and give us the remainder of your Wake."
"Well," says Tom, "the next play is in the milintary line. You see, Mr. Morrow, the man that leads the sports places them all on their sates, gets from some of the girls a white handkerchief, which he ties round his hat, as you would tie a piece of mourning; he then walks round them two or three times singing,
Will you list and come with me, fair maid? Will'you list and come with me, fair maid? Will you list and come with me, fair maid, And folly the lad with the white cockade?
"When he sings this he takes off his hat, and puts it on the head of the girl he likes best, who rises up and puts her arm around him, and then they both go about in the same way, singing the same words. She then puts the hat on some young man, who gets up and goes round with them, singing as before. He next puts it on the girl he loves best, who, after singing and going round in the same manner, puts it on another, and he on his sweetheart, and so on. This is called the White Cockade. When it's all over, that is, when every young man has pitched upon the girl that he wishes to be his sweetheart, they sit down, and sing songs, and coort, as they did at the marrying.
"After this comes the Weds or Forfeits, or what they call putting round the button. Every one gives in a forfeit—the boys a neck-handkerchief or a pen-knife, and the girls a pocket-handkerchief or something that way. The forfeit is held over them, and each of them stoops in tarn. They are, then, compelled to command the person that owns that forfeit to sing a song—to kiss such and such a girl—or to carry some ould man, with his legs about their neck, three times round the house, and this last is always great fun. Or, maybe, a young, upsetting fellow, will be sent to kiss some toothless, slavering, ould woman, just to punish him; or if a young woman is any way saucy, she'll have to kiss some ould, withered fellow, his tongue hanging with age half way down his chin, and the tobacco water trickling from each comer of his mouth.
"By jingo, many a time, when the friends of the corpse would be breaking their very hearts with grief and affliction, I have seen them obligated to laugh out, in spite of themselves, at the drollery of the priest, with, his ould black coat and wig upon him; and when the laughing fit would be over, to see them rocking themselves again with the sorrow—so sad. The best man for managing such sports in this neighborhood, for many a year, was Roger M'Cann, that lives up as you go to the mountains. You wouldn't begrudge to go ten miles the cowldest winter night that ever blew, to see and hear Roger.
"There's another play that they call the Priest of the Parish, which, is remarkably pleasant. One of the boys gets a wig upon himself as before—goes out on the flure, places the boys in a row, calls one his man Jack and says to each 'What will you be?' One answers 'I'll be black cap;' another—red cap;' and so on. He then says, 'The priest of the parish has lost his considhering cap some says this, and some says that, but I say my man Jack!' Man Jack, then, to put it off himself, says, Is it me, sir?' 'Yes, sir!' 'You lie, sir!' 'Who then, sir?' 'Black cap!' If Black cap, then, doesn't say 'Is it me, sir?' before the priest has time to call him, he must put his hand on his ham, and get a pelt of the brogue. A body must be supple with the tongue in it.
"After this comes one they call Horns, or the Painter. A droll fellow gets a lump of soot or lamp black, and after fixing a ring of the boys and girls about him, he lays his two fore-fingers on his knees, and says. 'Horns, horns, cow horns!' and then raises his finders by a jerk up above his head; the boys and girls in the ring then do the same thing, for the meaning of the play is this:—the man with the black'ning always raises his fingers every time he names an animal; but if he names any that has no horns, and that the others jerk up their fingers, then they must get a stroke over the face with the soot. 'Horns, horns, goat horns!'—then he ups with his fingers like lightning; they must all do the same, bekase a goat has horns. Horns, horns, horse horns!'—he ups with them again, but the boys and girls ought not, bekase a horse has not horns; however any one that raises them then, gets a slake. So that it all comes to this:—Any one, you see that lifts his fingers when an animal is named that has no horns—or any one that does not raise them when a baste is mintioned that has horns, will get a mark. It's a purty game, and requires a keen eye and a quick hand; and, maybe, there's not fun in straiking the soot over the purty, warm, rosy cheeks of the colleens, while their eyes are dancing with delight in their heads, and their sweet breath comes over so pleasant about one's face, the darlings!—Och! och!
"There's another game they call the Silly ould Man, that's played this way:—A ring of the boys and girls is made on the flure—boy and girl about—holding one another by the hands; well and good—a young fellow gets into the middle of the ring, as 'the silly ould Man.' There he stands looking at all the girls to choose a wife, and, in the mane time, the youngsters of the ring sing out—
Here's a silly ould Man that lies all alone, That lies all alone, That lies all alone; Here's a silly ould man that lies all alone, He wants a wife and he can get none.
"When the' boys and girls sing this, the silly ould man must choose a wife from some of the colleens belonging to the ring. Having made choice of her, she goes into the ring along with him, and they all sing out—
Now, young couple, you're married together, You're married together, You're married together, You must obey your father and mother, And love one another like sister and brother— I pray, young couple, you'll kiss together!
"And you may be sure this part of the marriage is not missed, any way."
"I doubt," said Andy Morrow, "that good can't come of so much kissing, marrying, and coorting."
The narrator twisted his mouth knowingly, and gave a significant groan.
"Be dhe husth,* hould your tongue, Misther Morrow," said he; "Biddy avour-neen," he continued, addressing Biddy and Bessy, "and Bessy, alannah, just take a friend's advice, and never mind going to wakes; to be sure there's plenty of fun and divarsion at sich places, but—healths apiece!" putting the pint to his lips—"and that's all I say about it."
"Right enough, Tom," observed Shane Fadh—"sure most of the matches are planned at them, and, I may say, most of the runaways, too—poor, young, foolish crathurs, going off, and getting themselves married; then bringing small, helpless families upon their hands, without money or manes to begin the world with, and afterwards likely to eat one another out of the face for their folly; however, there's no putting ould heads upon young shoulders, and I doubt, except the wakes are stopped altogether, that it'll be the ould case still."
"I never remember being at a counthry wake," said Andy Morrow. "How is everything laid out in the house?"
"Sure it's to you I'm telling the whole story, Mr. Morrow: these thieves about me here know all about it as well as I do—the house, eh? Why, you see, the two corpses were stretched beside one another, washed and laid out. There were long deal boords with their ends upon two stools, laid over the bodies; the boords were covered with a white sheet got at the big house, so the corpses were'nt to be seen. On these, again, were placed large mould candles, plates of cut tobacco, pipes, and snuff, and so on. Sometimes corpses are waked in a bed, with their faces visible; when that is the case, white sheets, crosses, and sometimes flowers, are pinned up about the bed, except in the front; but when they're undher boord, a set of ould women sit smoking, and rocking themselves from side to side, quite sorrowful—these are keeners—friends or relations; and when every one connected with the dead comes in, they raise the keene, like a song of sorrow, wailing and clapping their hands.
"The furniture is mostly removed, and sates made round the walls, where the neighbors sit smoking, chatting, and gosthering. The best of aiting and dhrinking that they can afford is provided; and, indeed, there is generally open house, for it's unknown how people injure themselves by their kindness and waste at christenings, weddings, and wakes.
"In regard to poor Larry's wake—we had all this, and more at it; for, as I obsarved a while agone, the man had made himself no friends when he was living, and the neighbors gave a loose to all kinds of divilment when he was dead. Although there's no man would be guilty of any disrespect where the dead are, yet, when a person has led a good life, and conducted themselves dacently and honestly, the young people of the neighborhood show their respect by going through their little plays and divarsions quieter and with less noise, lest they may give any offence; but, as I said, whenever the person didn't live as they ought to do, there's no stop to their noise and rollikin.
"When it drew near morning, every one of us took his sweetheart, and, after convoying her home, we went to our own houses to get a little sleep—so that was the end of poor Larry, M'Farland, and his wife, Sally Lowry.
"Success, Tom!" said Bill M'Kinnly "take a pull of the malt now, afther the story, your soul!—But what was the funeral like?"
"Why, then, a poor berrin it was," said Tom; "a miserable sight, God knows—just a few of the neighbors; for those that used to take his thrate, and while he had a shilling in his pocket blarney him up, not one of the skulking thieves showed their faces at it—a good warning to foolish men that throw their money down throats that haven't hearts anundher them.—But boys, desarve another thrate, I think, afther my story!" This, we need scarcely add, he was supplied with, and after some further desultory chat, they again separated, with the intention of reassembling at Ned's on the following night.
THE BATTLE OF THE FACTIONS.
Accordingly, the next evening found them all present, when it was determined unanimously that Pat Frayne, the hedge schoolmaster, should furnish them with the intellectual portion of the entertainment for that night, their object being each to tell a story in his turn.
"Very well," said Pat, "I am quite simultaneous to the wishes of the company; but you will plaise to observe, that there is clay which is moist, and clay which is not moist. Now, under certain circumstances, the clay which is not moist, ought to be made moist, and one of those circumstances that in which any larned person becomes loquacious, and indulges in narrative. The philosophical raison, is decided on by Socrates, and the great Phelim M'Poteen, two of the most celebrated liquorary characters that ever graced the sunny side of a plantation, is, that when a man commences a narration with his clay not moist, the said narration is found, by all lamed experience, to be a very dry one—ehem!"
"Very right, Mr. Frayne," replied Andy Morrow; "so in ordher to avoid a dhry narrative, Nancy, give the masther a jug of your stoutest to wet his whistle, and keep him in wind as he goes along."
"Thank you, Mr. Morrow—and in requital for your kindness, I will elucidate you such a sample of unadulterated Ciceronian eloquence, as would not be found originating from every chimney-corner in this Province, anyhow. I am not bright, however, at oral relation. I have accordingly composed into narrative the following tale, which is appellated 'The Battle of the Factions:'—
"My grandfather, Connor O'Callaghan, though a tall, erect man, with white flowing hair, like snow, that falls profusely about his broad shoulders, is now in his eighty-third year: an amazing age, considhering his former habits. His countenance is still marked with honesty and traces of hard fighting, and his cheeks ruddy and cudgel-worn; his eyes, though not as black as they often used to be, have lost very little of that nate fire which characterizes the eyes of the O'Callaghans, and for which I myself have been—but my modesty won't allow me to allude to that: let it be sufficient for the present to say that there never was remembered so handsome a man in his native parish, and that I am as like him as one Cork-red phatie is to another. Indeed, it has been often said, that it would be hard to meet an O'Callaghan without a black eye in his head. He has lost his fore-teeth, however, a point in which, Unfortunately, I, though his grandson, have strong resemblance to him. The truth is, they were knocked out of him in rows, before he had reached his thirty-fifth year—a circumstance which the kind reader will be pleased to receive in extenuation for the same defect in myself. That, however, is but a trifle, which never gave either of us much trouble.
"It pleased Providence to bring us through many hair-breadth escapes, with our craniums uncracked; and when we considher that he, on taking a retrogradation of his past life, can indulge in the plasing recollection of having broken two skulls in his fighting days, and myself one, without either of us getting a fracture in return, I think we have both rason to be thankful. He was a powerful bulliah battha * in his day and never met a man able to fight him, except big Mucldemurray, who stood before him the greater part of an hour and a half, in the fair of Knockimdowny, on the day that the first great fight took place—twenty years afther the hard, frost—between the O'Callaghans and the O'Hallaghans. The two men fought single hands—for both factions were willing to let them try the engagement out, that they might see what side could boast of having the best man. They began where you enter the north side of Knockimdowny, and fought successively up to the other end, then back again to the spot where they commenced, and afterwards up to the middle of the town, right opposite to the market-place, where my grandfather, by the same a-token, lost a grinder; but he soon took satisfaction for that, by giving Mucldemurray a tip above the eye with the end of an oak stick, dacently loaded with lead, which made the poor man feel very quare entirely, for the few days that he survived it.
* Literally the stroke of a cudgel; put for cudgel-player.
"Faith, if an Irishman happened to be born in Scotland, he would find it mighty inconvanient—afther losing two or three grinders in a row—to manage the hard oaten bread that they use there; for which rason, God be good to his sowl that first invented the phaties, anyhow, because a man can masticate them without a tooth, at all at all. I'll engage, if larned books were consulted, it would be found out that he was an Irishman. I wonder that neither Pastorini nor Columbkill mentions anything about him in their prophecies concerning the church; for my own part, I'm strongly inclinated to believe that it must have been Saint Patrick himself; and I think that his driving all kinds of venomous reptiles out of the kingdom is, according to the Socrastic method of argument, an undeniable proof of it. The subject, to a dead certainty, is not touched upon in the Brehon Code,* nor by any of the three Psalters,** which is extremely odd, seeing that the earth never produced a root equal to it in the multiplying force of prolification. It is, indeed, the root of prosperity to a fighting people: and many a time my grandfather boasts to this day, that the first bit of bread he ever ett was a phatie.
* This was the old code of laws peculiar to Ireland before the introduction of English legislation into it.
** There was properly only two Psalters, those of Tara and Cashel. The Psalters were collections of genealogical history, partly in verse; from which latter circumstances they had their name.
"In mentioning my grandfather's fight with Mucldemurray, I happened to name them blackguards, the O'Hallaghans: hard fortune to the same set, for they have no more discretion in their quarrels, than so many Egyptian mummies, African buffoons, or any other uncivilized animals. It was one of them, he that's married to my own fourth cousin, Biddy O'Callaghan, that knocked two of my grinders out, for which piece of civility I had the satisfaction of breaking a splinter or two in his carcase, being always honestly disposed to pay my debts.
"With respect to the O'Hallaghans, they and our family, have been next neighbors since before the Flood—and that's as good as two hundred years; for I believe it's 198, any how, since my great grandfather's grand-uncle's ould mare was swept out of the 'Island,' in the dead of the night, about half an hour after the whole country had been ris out of their beds by the thunder and lightning. Many a field of oats and many a life, both of beast and Christian, was lost in it, especially of those that lived on the bottoms about the edge of the river: and it was true for them that said it came before something; for the next year was one 'of the hottest summers ever remembered in Ireland.
"These O'Hallaghans couldn't be at peace with a saint. Before they and our faction, began to quarrel, it's said that the O'Donnells, or Donnells, and they had been at it,—and a blackguard set the same O'Donnells were, at all times—in fair and market, dance, wake, and berrin, setting the country on fire. Whenever they met, it was heads cracked and bones broken; till by degrees the O'Donnells fell away, one after another, from fighting, accidents, and hanging; so that at last there was hardly the name of one of them in the neighborhood. The O'Hallaghans, after this, had the country under themselves—were the cocks of the walk entirely;—who but they? A man darn't look crooked at them, or he was certain of getting his head in his fist. And when they'd get drunk in a fair, it was nothing but 'Whoo! for the O'Hallaghans!' and leaping yards high off the pavement, brandishing their cudgels over their heads, striking their heels against their hams, tossing up their hats; and when all would fail, they'd strip off their coats, and trail them up and down the street, shouting, 'Who dare touch the coat of an O'Hallaghan? Where's the blackguard Donnells now?'—and so on, till flesh and blood couldn't stand it.
"In the course of time, the whole country was turned against them; for no crowd could get together in which they didn't kick up a row, nor a bit of stray fighting couldn't be, but they'd pick it up first; and if a man would venture to give them a contrary answer, he was sure to get the crame of a good welting for his pains. The very landlord was timorous of them; for when they'd get behind in their rint, hard fortune to the bailiff, or proctor, or steward, he could find, that would have anything to say to them. And the more wise they; for maybe, a month would hardly pass till all belonging to them in the world would be in a heap of ashes: and who could say who did it? for they were as cunning as foxes.
"If one of them wanted a wife, it was nothing but find out the purtiest and the richest farmer's daughter in the neighborhood, and next march into her father's house, at the dead hour of night, tie and gag every mortal in it, and off with her to some friend's place in another part of the country. Then what could be done? If the girl's parents didn't like to give in, their daughter's name was sure to be ruined; at all events, no other man would think of marrying her, and the only plan was, to make the best of a bad bargain; and God He knows, it was making a bad bargain for a girl to have any matrimonial concatenation with the same O'Hallaghans; for they always had the bad drop in them, from first to last, from big to little—the blackguards! But wait, it's not over with them yet.
"The bone of contintion that got, between them and our faction was this circumstance; their lands and ours were divided by a river that ran down from the high mountains of Slieve Boglish, and, after a coorse of eight or ten miles, disembogued itself, first into George Duffy's mill-dam, and afterwards into that superb stream, the Blackwater, that might be well and appropriately appellated the Irish Niger. This river, which, though small at first, occasionally inflated itself to such a gigantic altitude, that it swept away cows, corn, and cottages, or whatever else happened to be in the way, was the march ditch, or merin between our farms. Perhaps it is worth while remarking, as a solution for natural philosophers, that these inundations were much more frequent in winter than in summer; though, when they did occur in summer, they were truly terrific.
"God be with the days, when I and half a dozen gorsoons used to go out, of a warm Sunday in summer, the bed of the river nothing but a line of white meandering stones, so hot that you could hardly stand upon, them, with a small obscure thread of water creeping invisibly among them, hiding itself, as it were, from the scorching sun; except here and there, that you might find a small crystal pool where the streams had accumulated. Our plan was to bring a pocketful of roche lime with us, and put it into the pool, when all the fish used to rise on the instant to the surface, gasping with open mouth for fresh air, and we had only to lift them out of the water; a nate plan which, perhaps, might be adopted successfully, on a more extensive scale, by the Irish fisheries. Indeed, I almost regret that I did not remain in that station of life, for I was much happier then than ever I was since I began to study and practice larning. But this is vagating from the subject.
"Well, then, I have said that them O'Hallaghans lived beside us, and that this stream divided our lands. About half a quarter—i. e., to accommodate myself to the vulgar phraseology—or, to speak more scientifically, one-eighth of a mile from our house was as purty a hazel glen as you'd wish to see, near half a mile long—its developments and proportions were truly classical. In the bottom of this glen was a small green island, about twelve yards, diametrically, of Irish admeasurement, that is to say, be the same more or less; at all events, it lay in the way of the river, which, however, ran towards the O'Hallaghan side, and, consequently, the island was our property.
"Now, you'll observe, that this river had been, for ages, the merin between the two farms, for they both belonged to separate landlords, and so long as it kept the O'Hallighan side of the little peninsula in question there could be no dispute about it, for all was clear. One wet winter, however, it seemed to change its mind upon the subject; for it wrought and wore away a passage for itself on our side of the island, and by that means took part, as it were, with the O'Hallighans leaving the territory which had been our property for centhries, in their possession. This was a vexatious change to us, and, indeed, eventually produced very feudal consequences. No sooner had the stream changed sides, than the O'Hallaghans claimed the island as theirs, according to their tenement; and we, having had it for such length of time in our possession, could not break ourselves of the habitude of occupying it. They incarcerated our cattle, and we incarcerated theirs. They summoned us to their landlord, who was a magistrate; and we summoned them to ours, who was another. The verdicts were north and south. Their landlord gave it in favor of them, and ours in favor of us. The one said he had law on his side; the other, that he had proscription and possession, length of time and usage.
"The two squires then fought a challenge upon the head of it, and what was more singular, upon the disputed spot itself; the one standing on their side, the other on ours; for it was just twelve paces every way. Their friend was a small, light man, with legs like drumsticks; the other was a large, able-bodied gentleman, with a red face and hooked nose. They exchanged two shots, only one of which—the second—took effect. It pastured upon their landlord's spindle leg, on which he held it out, exclaiming, that while he lived he would never fight another challenge with his antagonist, 'because,' said he, holding out his own spindle shank, 'the man who could hit that could hit anything.'
"We then were advised, by an attorney, to go to law with them; and they were advised by another attorney to go to law with us: accordingly, we did so, and in the course of eight or nine years it might have been decided, but just at the legal term approximated in which the decision was to be announced, the river divided itself with mathematical exactitude on each side of the island. This altered the state and law of the question in toto; but, in the meantime, both we and the O'Hallaghans were nearly fractured by the expenses. Now during the lawsuit we usually houghed and mutilated each other's cattle, according as they trespassed the premises. This brought on the usual concomitants of various battles, fought and won by both sides, and occasioned the lawsuit to be dropped; for we found it a mighty, inconvanient matter to fight it out both ways; by the same a-token that I think it a proof of stultity to go to law at all at all, as long as a person is able to take it into his own management. For the only incongruity in the matter is this: that, in the one case, a set of lawyers have the law in their hands, and, in the other, that you have it in your own; that's the only difference, and 'tis easy knowing where the advantage lies.
"We, however, paid the most of the expenses, and would have ped them all with the greatest integrity, were it not that our attorney, when about to issue an execution against our property, happened somehow to be shot, one evening, as he returned home from a dinner which was given by him that was attorney for the O'Hallaghans. Many a boast the O'Hallaghan's made, before the quarrelling between us and them commenced, that they'd sweep the streets with the fighting O'Callaghans, which was an epithet that was occasionally applied to our family. We differed, however, materially from them; for we were honorable, never starting out in dozens on a single man or two, and beating him into insignificance. A couple, or maybe, when irritated, three, were the most we ever set at a single enemy, and if we left him lying in a state of imperception, it was the most we ever did, except in a regular confliction, when a man is justified in saving his own skull by breaking one of an opposite faction. For the truth of the business is, that he who breaks the skull of him who endeavors to break his own is safest; and, surely, when a man is driven to such an alternative, the choice is unhesitating.
"O'Hallaghans' attorney, however, had better luck; they were, it is true, rather in the retrograde with him touching the law charges, and, of coorse, it was only candid in him to look for his own. One morning, he found that two of his horses had been executed by some incendiary unknown, in the coorse of the night; and, on going to look at them, he found a taste of a notice posted on the inside of the stable-door, giving him intelligence that if he did not find a horpus corpus* whereby to transfer his body out of the country, he would experience a fate parallel to that of his brother lawyer or the horses. And, undoubtedly, if honest people never perpetrated worse than banishing such varmin, along with proctors, and drivers of all kinds, out of a civilized country, they would not be so very culpable or atrocious.
* Habeas corpus; the above is the popular pronunciation.
"After this, the lawyer went to reside in Dublin; and the only bodily injury he received was the death of a land-agent and a bailiff, who lost their lives faithfully in driving for rent. They died, however, successfully; the bailiff having been provided for nearly a year before the agent was sent to give an account of his stewardship—as the Authorized Version has it.
"The occasion on which the first re-encounter between us and the O'Hallaghans took place, was a peaceable one. Several of our respective friends undertook to produce a friendly and oblivious potation between us—it was at a berrin belonging to a corpse who was related to us both; and, certainly, in the beginning we were all as thick as whigged milk. But there is no use now in dwelling too long upon that circumstance; let it be sufficient to assert that the accommodation was effectuated by fists and cudgels, on both sides—the first man that struck a blow being one of the friends that wished to bring about the tranquillity. From that out the play commenced, and God he knows when it may end; for no dacent faction could give in to another faction without losing their character, and being kicked, and cuffed, and kilt, every week in the year.
"It is the great battle, however, which I am after going to describe: that in which we and the O'Hallaghans had contrived, one way or other, to have the parish divided—one-half for them, and the other for us; and, upon my credibility, it is no exaggeration to declare that the whole parish, though ten miles by six, assembled itself in the town of Knockimdowny, upon this interesting occasion. In thruth, Ireland ought to be a land of mathemathitians; for I am sure her population is well trained, at all events, in the two sciences of multiplication and division. Before I adventure, however, upon the narration, I must wax pathetic a little, and then proceed with the main body of the story.
"Poor Rose O'Hallaghan!—or, as she was designated—Rose Galh, or Fair Rose, and sometimes simply, Rose Hallaghan, because the detention of the big O often produces an afflatus in the pronunciation, that is sometimes mighty inconvenient to such as do not understand oratory—besides, that the Irish are rather fond of sending the liquids in a gutthural direction—Poor Rose! that faction fight, was a black day to her, the sweet innocent—when it was well known that there wasn't a man, woman, or child, on either side that wouldn't lay their hands under her feet. However, in order to insense the reader better into her character, I will commence a small sub-narration, which will afterwards emerge into the parent stream of the story.
"The chapel of Knockimdowny is a slated house, without any ornament, except a set of wooden cuts, painted red and blue, that are placed seriatum around the square of the building in the internal side. Fourteen* of these suspind at equal distances on the walls, each set in a painted frame; these constitute a certain species of country devotion. It is usual, on Sundays, for such of the congregation as are most inclined to piety, to genuflect at the first of these pictures, and commence a certain number of prayers to it after the repetition of which, they travel on their knees along the bare earth to the second, where they repate another prayer peculiar to that, and so on, till they finish the grand tower of the interior. Such, however as are not especially addictated to this kind, of locomotive prayer, collect together in various knots through the chapel, and amuse themselves by auditing or narrating anecdotes, discussing policy, or detraction; and in case it be summer, and the day of a fine texture, they scatter themselves into little crowds on the chapel-green, or lie at their length upon the grass in listless groups, giving way to chat and laughter.
* These are called the "Fourteen Stations of the Cross."
"In this mode, laired on the sunny side of the ditches and hedges, or collected in rings round that respectable character, the Academician of the village, or some other well-known Senachie, or story-teller, they amuse themselves till the priest's arrival. Perhaps, too, some walking geographer of a pilgrim may happen to be present; and if there be, he is sure to draw a crowd about him, in spite of all the efforts of the learned Academician to the contrary. It is no unusual thing to see such a vagrant, in all the vanity of conscious sanctimony, standing in the middle of the attentive peasants, like the nave and felloes of a cart-wheel—if I may be permitted the loan of an apt similitude—repeating some piece of unfathomable and labyrinthine devotion, or perhaps warbling, from Stentorian lungs, some melodia sacra, in an untranslatable tongue; or, it may be, exhibiting the mysterious power of an amber bade fastened as a Decade to his paudareens* lifting a chaff or light bit of straw by the force of its attraction. This is an exploit which causes many an eye to turn from the bades to his own bearded face, with a hope, as it were, of being able to catch a glimpse of the lurking sanctimony by which the knave hoaxes them in the miraculous.
* Pilgrims and other impostors pass these things upon the people as miracles upon a small scale.
"The amusements of the females are also nearly such as I have drafted out. Nosegays of the darlings might be seen sated on green banks, or sauntering about with a sly intention of coming in compact with their sweethearts, or, like bachelors' buttons in smiling rows, criticising the young men as they pass. Others of them might be seen screened behind a hedge, with their backs to the spectators taking the papers off their curls before small bit of looking-glass placed against the ditch; or perhaps putting on their shoes and stockings—which phrase can be used only by the authority of the figure heusteron proteron—inasmuch as if they put on the shoes first, you persave, it would be a scientific job to get on the stockings after; but it's an idiomatioal expression, and therefore justifiable. However, it's a general custom in the country, which I dare to say has not yet spread into large cities, for the young women to walk bare-footed to the chapel, or within a short distance of it, that they may exhibit their bleached thread stockings and well-greased slippers to the best advantage, not pretermitting a well-turned ankle and neat leg, which, I may fearlessly assert, my fair country-women can show against any other nation, living or dead.
"One sunny Sabbath, the congregation of Knockimdowny were thus assimilated, amusing themselves in the manner I have just outlined; a series of country girls sat on a little green mount, called the Rabbit Bank, from the circumstance of its having been formerly an open burrow, though of late years it has been closed. It was near twelve o'clock, the hour at which Father Luke O'Shaughran was generally seen topping the rise of the hill at Larry Mulligan's public-house, jogging on his bay hack at something between a walk and a trot—that is to say, his horse moved his fore and hind legs on the off side at one motion, and the fore and hind legs of the near side in another, going at a kind of dog's trot, like the pace of an idiot with sore feet in a shower—a pace, indeed, to which the animal had been set for the last sixteen years, but beyond which, no force, or entreaty, or science, or power, either divine or human, of his Reverence could drive him. As yet, however, he had not become apparent; and the girls already mentioned were discussing the pretensions which several of their acquaintances had to dress or beauty.
"'Peggy,' said Katy Carroll to her companion, Peggy Donohue, 'were you out* last Sunday?'
* Out.—This expression in remote parts of the country is understood to mean being at mass.
"'No, in troth, Katty, I was disappointed in getting my shoes from Paddy Mellon, though I left him the measure for my foot three weeks agone, and gave him a thousand warnings to make them duck-nebs; but, instead of that,' said she, holding out a very purty foot, 'he has made them as sharp in the toe as a pick-axe, and a full mile too short for me. But why do ye ax was I out, Katty?'
* Paddy Mellon—a short, thick-set man, with gray hair, which he always kept cropped close—the most famous shoemaker in the parish: in fact the Drummond of a large district. No shoes considered worth wearing if he did not make them. But, having admitted this, I am bound in common justice and honesty to say that so big a liar never put an awl into leather. No language could describe his iniquity in this respect. I myself am a living-witness of this. Many a trudge has the villain taken out of me in my boyhood, and as sure as I went on the appointed day—which was always Saturday—so surely did he swear that they would be ready for me on that day week. He was, as a tradesman, the most multifarious and barefaced liar I ever met; and what was the most rascally trait about him, was the faculty he possessed of making you believe the lie as readily after the fifteenth repetition of it, as when it was uttered fresh from his lips.
"'Oh, nothing,' responded Katty, 'only that you missed a sight, anyway.'
"'What was it Kitty, ahagur?' asked her companion with mighty great curiosity.
"'Why, nothing less, indeed, nor Rose Cullenan decked out in a white muslin gown, and a black sprush bonnet, tied under her chin wid a silk ribbon, no less; but what killed us out and out was—you wouldn't guess?'
"'Arrah, how could I guess, woman alive? A silk handkerchy, maybe; for I wouldn't doubt the same Rose but she would be setting herself up for the likes of such a thing.'
"'It's herself that had, as red as scarlet, about her neck; but that's not it.'
"'Arrah, Katty, tell it to us at wanst; out with it, ahagur; sure there's no treason in it, anyhow.'
"'Why, thin, nothing less nor a crass-bar red-and-white pocket-handkerchy, to wipe her purty complexion wid!'
"To this Peggy replied by a loud laugh, in which it was difficult to say whether there was more of satire than astonishment.
"'A pocket-handkerchy!' she exclaimed; 'musha, are we alive afther that, at all at all! Why, that bates Molly M'Cullagh and her red mantle entirely. I'm sure, but it's well come up for the likes of her, a poor, imperint crathur, that sprung from nothing, to give herself such airs.'
"'Molly M'Cullagh, indeed,' said Katty, 'why, they oughtn't to be mintioned in the one day, woman. Molly's come of a dacent ould stock, and kind mother for her to keep herself in genteel ordher at all times; she sees nothing else, and can afford it, not all as one as the other flipe* that would go to the world's end for a bit of dress.'
* Flipe—One who is "flippant"—of which word it is the substantive, and a good one too.
"' Sure she thinks she's a beauty, too, if you plase,' said Peggy, tossing her head with an air of disdain; 'but tell us, Katty, how did the muslin sit upon her at all, the upsetting crathur?'
"'Why, for all the world like a shift on a Maypowl, or a stocking on a body's nose: only nothing killed us outright but the pocket-handkerchy!'
"'Hut!' said the other, 'what could we expect from a proud piece like her, that brings a Manwill* to mass every Sunday, purtending she can read in it, and Jem Finigan saw the wrong side of the book towards her, the Sunday of the Purcession!'**
* Manuel—a Catholic Prayer-book.
** The priest described in "Ned M'Keown" having been educated on the Continent, was one of the first to introduce the Procession of the Host in that part of the country. The Consecrated Host, shrined in a silver vessel formed like a chalice, was borne by a priest under a silken canopy; and to this the other clergymen present offered up incense from a censer, whilst they circumambulated the chapel inside and out, if the day was fine.
"At this hit they both formed another risible junction, quite as sarcastic as the former—in the midst of which the innocent object of their censure, dressed in all her obnoxious finery, came up and joined them. She was scarcely sated—I blush to the very point of my pen during the manuscription—when the confabulation assumed a character directly antipodial to that which marked the precedent dialogue.
"'My gracious, Rose, but that's a purty thing you have got in your gown!—where did you buy it?'
"'Och, thin, not a one of myself likes it over much. I'm sorry I didn't buy a gingham: I could have got a beautiful patthern, all out, for two shillings less; but they don't wash so well as this. I bought it in Paddy McGartland's, Peggy.'
"'Troth, it's nothing else but a great beauty; I didn't see anything on you this long time that becomes you so well, and I've remarked that you always look best in white.'
"'Who made it, Rose?' inquired Katty; 'for it sits illegant'
"'Indeed,' replied Rose, 'for the differ of the price, I thought it better to bring it to Peggy Boyle, and be sartin of not having it spoiled. Nelly Keenan made the last; and although there was a full breadth more in it nor this, bad cess to the one of her but spoiled it on me; it was ever so much too short in the body, and too tight in the sleeves, and then I had no step at all at all.'
"'The sprush bonnet is exactly the fit for the gown,' observed Katty; 'the black and the white's jist the cut—how many yards had you, Rose?'
"'Jist ten and a half; but the half-yard was for the tucks.'
"'Ay, faix! and brave full tucks she left in it; ten would do me, Rose?'
"'Ten!—no, nor ten and a half; you're a size bigger nor me at the laste, Peggy; but you'd be asy fitted, you're so well made.'
"'Rose, darling,' said Peggy, 'that's a great beauty, and shows off your complexion all to pieces; you have no notion how well you look in it and the sprush.'
"In a few minutes after this her namesake, Rose Galh O'Hallaghan, came towards the chapel, in society with her father, mother, and her two sisters. The eldest, Mary, was about twenty-one; Rose, who was the second, about nineteen, or scarcely that; and Nancy, the junior of the three, about twice seven.
"'There's the O'Hallaghans,' says Rose.
"'Ay,' replied Katty; 'you may talk of beauty, now; did you ever lay your two eyes on the likes of Rose for downright—musha, if myself knows what to call it—but, anyhow, she's the lovely crathur to look at.'
"Kind reader, without a single disrespectful insinuation against any portion of the fair sex, you may judge what Rose O'Hallaghan must have been, when even these three were necessitated to praise her in her absence!
"'I'll warrant,' observed Katty, 'we'll soon be after seeing John O'Callaghan'—(he was my own cousin)—'sthrolling afther them, at his ase.'
"'Why,' asked Rose, 'what makes you say that?'
"'Bekase,' replied the other, I've a rason for it.'
"'Sure John O'Callaghan wouldn't be thinking of her,' observed Rose, 'and their families would see other shot: their factions would never have a crass marriage, anyhow.'
"'Well,' said Peggy, 'it's the thousand pities that the same two couldn't go together; for fair and handsome as Rose is, you'll not deny but John comes up to her; but I faix! sure enough it's they that's the proud people on both sides, and dangerous to make or meddle with, not saying that ever there was the likes of the same two for dacency and peaceableness among either of the factions.'
"'Didn't I tell yez?' cried Katty; 'look at him now staling afther her; and it'll be the same thing going home again; and, if Rose is not much belied, it's not a bit displasing to her.'
"'Between ourselves, observed Peggy, it would be no wondher the darling young crathur would fall in love with him; for you might thravel the country afore you'd meet with his fellow for face and figure.'
"'There's Father Ned,' remarked Katty; 'we had betther get into the chapel before the scroodgin comes an, or your bonnet and gown, Rose, won't be the betther for it.'
"They now proceeded to the chapel, and those who had been amusing themselves after the same mode, followed their exemplar. In a short time the hedges and ditches adjoining the chapel were quite in solitude, with the exception of a few persons from the extreme parts of the parish, who might be seen running with all possible velocity 'to overtake mass,' as the phrase on that point expresses itself.
"The chapel of Knockimdowny was situated at the foot of a range of lofty mountains; a by-road went past the very door, which had under subjection a beautiful extent of cultivated country, diversificated by hill and dale, or rather by hill and hollow; for, as far as my own geographical knowledge goes, I have uniformly found them inseparable. It was also ornamented with the waving verdure of rich corn-fields and meadows, not pretermitting phatie-fields in full blossom—a part of rural landscape which, to my utter astonishment, has escaped the pen of poet, and the brush of painter; although I will risk my reputation as a man of pure and categorical taste, if a finer ingredient in the composition of a landscape could be found than a field of Cork-fed phaties or Moroky blacks in full bloom, allowing a man to judge by the pleasure they confer upon the eye, and therefore to the heart. About a mile up from the chapel, towards the south, a mountain-stream, not the one already intimated—over which there was no bridge, crossed the road. But in lieu of a bridge, there was a long double plank laid over it, from bank to bank; and as the river was broad, and not sufficiently incarcerated within its channel, the neighbors were necessitated to throw these planks across the narrowest part they could find in the contiguity of the road. This part was consequently the deepest, and, in floods, the most dangerous; for the banks were elevated as far as they went, and quite tortuositous.
"Shortly after the priest had entered the chapel, it was observed that the hemisphere became, of a sudden, unusually obscure, though the preceding part of the day had not only been uncloudously bright, but hot in a most especial manner. The obscurity, however, increased rapidly, accompanied by that gloomy stillness which always takes precedence of a storm, and fills the mind with vague and interminable terror. But this ominous silence was not long unfractured; for soon after the first appearance of the gloom, a flash of lightning quivered through the chapel, followed by an extragavantly loud clap of thunder, which shook the very glass in the windows, and filled the congregation to the brim with terror. Their dismay, however, would have been infinitely greater, only for the presence of his Reverence, and the confidence which might be traced to the solemn occasion on which they were assimilated.
"From this moment the storm became progressive in dreadful magnitude, and the thunder, in concomitance with the most vivid flashes of lightning, pealed through the sky, with an awful grandeur and magnificence, that were exalted and even rendered more sublime by the still solemnity of religious worship. Every heart now prayed fervently—every spirit shrunk into a deep sense of its own guilt and helplessness—and every conscience was terror-stricken, as the voice of an angry God thundered out of his temple of storms though the heavens; for truly, as the Authorized Version has it, 'darkness was under his feet, and his pavilion round about was dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, because he was wroth.'
"The rain now condescended in even-down torrents, and thunder succeeded thunder in deep and terrific peals, whilst the roar of the gigantic echoes that deepened and reverberated among the glens and hollows, 'laughing in their mountain mirth,'—hard fortune to me, but they made the flesh creep on my bones!
"This lasted for an hour, when the thunder slackened: but the rain still continued. As soon as mass was over, and the storm had elapsed, except an odd peal which might be heard rolling at a distance behind the hills, the people began gradually to repover their spirits, and enter into confabulation; but to venture out was still impracticable. For about another hour it rained incessantly, after which it ceased; the hemisphere became lighter—and the sun shone out once more upon the countenance of nature with its former brightness. The congregation then decanted itself out of the chapel—the spirits of the people dancing with that remarkable buoyancy or juvenility which is felt after a thunderstorm, when the air is calm, soople, and balmy—and all nature garmented with glittering verdure and light. The crowd next began to commingle on their way home, and to make the usual observations upon the extraordinary storm which had just passed, and the probable effect it would produce on the fruit and agriculture of the neighborhood.
"When the three young women, whom we have already introduced to our respectable readers, had evacuated the chapel, they determined to substantiate a certitude, as far as their observation could reach, as to the truth of what Kitty Carroll had hinted at, in reference to John O'Callaghan's attachment to Rose Galh O'Hallaghan, and her taciturn approval of it. For this purpose they kept their eye upon John, who certainly seemed in no especial hurry home, but lingered upon the chapel green in a very careless method. Rose Galh, however, soon made her appearance, and, after going up the chapel-road a short space, John slyly walked at some distance behind, without seeming to pay her any particular notice, whilst a person up to the secret might observe Rose's bright eye sometimes peeping back to see if he was after her. In this manner they proceeded until they came to the river, which, to their great alarm, was almost fluctuating over its highest banks.
"A crowd was now assembled, consulting as to the safest method of crossing the planks, under which the red boiling current ran, with less violence, it is true, but much deeper than in any other part of the stream. The final decision was, that the very young and the old, and such as were feeble, should proceed by a circuit of some miles to a bridge that crossed it, and that the young men should place themselves on their knees along the planks, their hands locked in each other, thus forming a support on one side, upon which such as had courage to venture across might lean, in case of accident or megrim. Indeed, anybody that had able nerves might have crossed the planks without this precaution, had they been dry; but, in consequence of the rain, and the frequent attrition of feet, they were quite slippery; and, besides, the flood rolled terrifically two or three yards below them, which might be apt to beget a megrim that would not be felt if there was no flood.
"When this expedient had been hit upon, several young men volunteered themselves to put it in practice; and in a short time a considerable number of both sexuals crossed over, without the occurrence of any unpleasant accident. Paddy O'Hallaghan and his family had been stationed for some time on the bank, watching the success of the plan; and as it appeared not to be attended with any particular danger, they also determined to make the attempt. About a perch below the planks stood John O'Callaghan, watching the progress of those who were crossing them, but taking no part in what was going forward. The river, under the planks, and for some perches above and below them, might be about ten feet deep; but to those who could swim, it was less perilous, should any accident befall them, than those parts where the current was more rapid, but shallower. The water here boiled, and bubbled, and whirled about; but it was slow, and its yellow surface unbroken by rocks or fords.
"The first of the O'Hallaghans that ventured over it was the youngest, who, being captured by the hand, was encouraged by many cheerful expressions from the young men who were clinging to the planks. She got safe over, however; and when she came to the end, one who was stationed on the bank gave her a joyous pull, that translated her several yards upon terra firma.
"'Well, Nancy,' he observed, 'you're safe, anyhow; and if I don't dance at your wedding for this, I'll never say you're dacent.'
"To this Nancy gave a jocular promise, and he resumed his station, that he might be ready to render similar assistance to her next sister. Rose Galh then went to the edge of the plank several times, but her courage as often refused to be forthcoming. During her hesitation, John O'Callaghan stooped down, and privately untied his shoes, then unbuttoned his waistcoat, and very gently, being unwilling to excite notice, slipped the knot of his cravat. At long last, by the encouragement of those who were on the plank, Rose attempted the passage, and had advanced as far as the middle of it, when a fit of dizziness and alarm seized her with such violence, that she lost all consciousness—a circumstance of which those who handed her along were ignorant. The consequence, as might be expected, was dreadful; for as one of the young men was receiving her hand, that he might pass her to the next, she lost her momentum, and was instantaneously precipitated into the boiling current.
"The wild and fearful cry of horror that succeeded this cannot be laid on paper. The eldest sister fell into strong convulsions, and several of the other females fainted on the spot. The mother did not faint; but, like Lot's wife, she seemed to be translated into stone: her hands became clenched convulsively, her teeth locked, her nostrils dilated, and her eyes shot half way out of her head. There she stood, looking upon her daughter struggling in the flood, with a fixed gaze or wild and impotent frenzy, that, for fearful ness, beat the thunder-storm all to nothing. The father rushed to the edge of the river, oblivious of his incapability to swim, determined to save her or lose his own life, which latter would have been a dead certainty, had he ventured; but he was prevented by the crowd, who pointed out to him the madness of such a project.
"'For God's sake, Paddy, don't attimpt it,' they exclaimed, 'except you wish to lose your own life, without being able to save hers: no man could swim in that flood, and it upwards of ten feet deep.'
"Their arguments, however, were lost upon him; for, in fact, he was insensible to everything but his child's preservation. He, therefore, only answered their remonstrances by attempting to make another plunge into the river.
"'Let me alone, will yez,' said he—'let me alone! I'll either save my child, Rose, or die along with her! How could I live after her? Merciful God, any of them but her! Oh! Rose, darling,' he exclaimed, 'the favorite of my heart—will no one save you?' All this passed in less than a minute.
"'Just as these words were uttered, a plunge was heard a few yards below the bridge, and a man appeared in the flood, making his way with rapid strokes to the drowning girl. Another cry now arose from the spectators: 'It's John O'Callaghan,' they shouted—'it's John O'Callaghan, and they'll both be lost.' 'No,' exclaimed others; 'if it's in the power of man to save her, he will!' 'O, blessed father, she's lost!' now burst from all present; for, after having struggled and been kept floating for some time by her garments, she at length sunk, apparently exhausted and senseless, and the thief of a flood flowed over her, as if she had not been under it's surface.
"When O'Callaghan saw that she went down, he raised himself up in the water, and cast his eye towards that part of the bank opposite which she disappeared, evidently, as it proved, that he might have a mark to guide him in fixing on the proper spot where to plunge after her. When he came to the place, he raised himself again in the stream, and, calculating that she must by this time have been borne some distance from the spot where she sank, he gave a stroke or two down the river, and disappeared after her. This was followed by another cry of horror and despair, for somehow, the idea of desolation which marks, at all times, a deep, over-swollen torrent, heightened by the bleak mountain scenery around them, and the dark, angry voracity of the river where they had sunk, might have impressed the spectators with utter hopelessness as to the fate of those now engulfed in its vortex. This, however, I leave to those who are deeper read in philosophy than I am.
"An awful silence succeeded the last shrill exclamation, broken only by the hoarse rushing of the waters, whose wild, continuous roar, booming hollowly and dismally in the ear, might be heard at a great distance over all the country. But a new sensation soon invaded the multitude; for after the lapse of about half a minute, John O'Callaghan emerged from the flood, bearing in his sinister hand the body of his own Rose Galh—for it's he that loved her tenderly. A peal of joy congratulated them from the assembled crowd; hundreds of directions were given to him how to act to the best advantage. Two young men in especial, who were both dying about the lovely creature that he held, were quite anxious to give advice.
"'Bring her to the other side, John, ma bouchal; it's the safest,' said Larry Carty.
"'Will you let him alone, Carty?' said Simon Tracy, who was the other, 'you'll only put him in a perplexity.'
"But Carty should order in spite of every thing. He kept bawling out, however, so loud, that John raised his eye to see what he meant, and was near losing hold of Rose. This was too much for Tracy, who ups with his fist, and downs him—so they both at it; for no one there could take themselves off those that were in danger, to interfere between them. But at all events, no earthly thing can happen among Irishmen without a fight.
"The father, during this, stood breathless, his hands clasped, and his eyes turned to heaven, praying in anguish for the delivery of his darling. The mother's look was still wild and fixed, her eyes glazed, and her muscles hard and stiff; evidently she was insensible to all that was going forward; while large drops of paralytic agony hung upon her cold brow. Neither of the sisters had yet recovered, nor could those who supported them turn their eyes from the more imminent danger, to pay them any particular attention. Many, also, of the other females, whose feelings were too much wound up when the accident occurred, now fainted, when they saw she was likely to be rescued; but most of them were weeping with delight and gratitude.