Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
A Tale of Irish Life
IN TWO VOLUMES--VOLUME TWO
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF SAMUEL LOVER (V. 4)
[Illustration: Tom Organ Loftus' Coldairian System]
[Illustration: Tom Connor's Cat]
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS VOLUME TWO
Tom Organ Loftus' Coldairian System
Tom Connor's Cat
Andy's Cooking Extraordinary
Tom Organ Loftus and the Duke
A Crack Shot
The Party at Killarney
_Etched by W. H. W. Bicknell from drawings by Samuel Lover_
The night was pitch dark, and on rounding the adjacent corner no vehicle
could be seen; but a peculiar whistle from Dick was answered by the sound
of approaching wheels and the rapid footfalls of a horse, mingled with the
light rattle of a smart gig. On the vehicle coming up, Dick took his
little mare, that was blacker than the night, by the head, the apron of
the gig was thrown down, and out jumped a smart servant-boy.
"You have the horse ready, too, Billy?"
"Yis, sir," said Billy, touching his hat.
"Then follow, and keep up with me, remember."
"Come to her head, here," and he patted the little mare's neck as he spoke
with a caressing "whoa," which was answered by a low neigh of
satisfaction, while the impatient pawing of her fore foot showed the
animal's desire to start. "What an impatient little devil she is," said
Dick, as he mounted the gig; "I'll get in first, Murphy, as I'm going to
drive. Now up with you--hook on the apron--that's it--are you all right?"
"Quite," said Murphy.
"Then you be into your saddle and after us, Billy," said Dick; "and now
let her go."
Billy gave the little black mare her head, and away she went, at a
slapping pace, the fire from the road answering the rapid strokes of her
nimble feet. The servant then mounted a horse which was tied to a
neighbouring palisade, and had to gallop for it to come up with his
master, who was driving with a swiftness almost fearful, considering the
darkness of the night and the narrowness of the road he had to traverse,
for he was making the best of his course by cross-ways to an adjacent
roadside inn, where some non-resident electors were expected to arrive
that night by a coach from Dublin; for the county town had every nook and
cranny occupied, and this inn was the nearest point where they could get
Now don't suppose that they were electors whom Murphy and Dick in their
zeal for their party were going over to greet with hearty welcomes and
bring up to the poll the next day. By no means. They were the friends of
the opposite party, and it was with the design of retarding their
movements that this night's excursion was undertaken. These electors were
a batch of plain citizens from Dublin, whom the Scatterbrain interest had
induced to leave the peace and quiet of the city to tempt the wilds of the
country at that wildest of times--during a contested election; and a night
coach was freighted inside and out with the worthy cits, whose aggregate
voices would be of immense importance the next day; for the contest was
close, the county nearly polled out, and but two days more for the
struggle. Now, to intercept these plain unsuspecting men was the object of
Murphy, whose well-supplied information had discovered to him this plan of
the enemy, which he set about countermining. As they rattled over the
rough by-roads, many a laugh did the merry attorney and the untameable
Dick the Devil exchange, as the probable success of their scheme was
canvassed, and fresh expedients devised to meet the possible impediments
which might interrupt them. As they topped a hill Murphy pointed out to
his companion a moving light in the plain beneath.
"That's the coach, Dick--there are the lamps, we're just in time--spin
down the hill, my boy--let me get in as they're at supper, and 'faith
they'll want it, after coming off a coach such a night as this, to say
nothing of some of them being aldermen in expectancy perhaps, and of
course obliged to play trencher-men as often as they can, as a requisite
rehearsal for the parts they must hereafter fill."
In fifteen minutes more Dick pulled up before a small cabin within a
quarter of a mile of the inn, and the mounted servant tapped at the door,
which was immediately opened, and a peasant, advancing to the gig,
returned the civil salutation with which Dick greeted his approach.
"I wanted to be sure you were ready, Barny."
"Oh, do you think I'd fail you, Misther Dick, your honour?"
"I thought you might be asleep, Barny."
"Not when you bid me wake, sir; and there's a nice fire ready for you, and
as fine a dhrop o' _potteen_ as ever tickled your tongue, sir."
"You're the lad, Barny!--good fellow--I'll be back with you by-and-by;"
and off whipped Dick again.
After going about a quarter of a mile further, he pulled up, alighted with
Murphy from the gig, unharnessed the little black mare, and then
overturned the gig into the ditch.
"That's as natural as life," said Dick.
"What an escape of my neck I've had!" said Murphy.
"Are you much hurt?" said Dick.
"A trifle lame only," said Murphy, laughing and limping.
"There was a great _boccagh_ [Footnote: Lame beggar.] lost in you,
Murphy. Wait; let me rub a handful of mud on your face--there--you have a
very upset look, 'pon my soul," said Dick, as he flashed the light of his
lantern on him for a moment, and laughed at Murphy scooping the mud out of
his eye, where Dick had purposely planted it.
"Devil take you," said Murtough; "that's too natural."
"There's nothing like looking your part," said Dick.
"Well, I may as well complete my attire," said Murtough, so he lay down in
the road and took a roll in the mud; "that will do," said he; "and now,
Dick, go back to Barny and the mountain dew, while I storm the camp of the
Philistines. I think in a couple of hours you may be on the look-out for
me; I'll signal you from the window, so now good bye;" and Murphy, leading
the mare, proceeded to the inn, while Dick, with a parting "Luck to you,
my boy," turned back to the cottage of Barny.
The coach had set down six inside and ten out passengers (all voters)
about ten minutes before Murphy marched up to the inn door, leading the
black mare, and calling "ostler" most lustily. His call being answered for
"the beast," "the man" next demanded attention; and the landlord wondered
all the wonders he could cram into a short speech, at seeing Misther
Murphy, sure, at such a time; and the sonsy landlady, too, was all
lamentations for his illigant coat and his poor eye, sure, all ruined with
the mud:--and what was it at all? an upset, was it? oh, wirra! and wasn't
it lucky he wasn't killed, and they without a spare bed to lay him out
dacent if he was--sure, wouldn't it be horrid for his body to be only on
sthraw in the barn, instead of the best feather-bed in the house; and,
indeed, he'd be welcome to it, only the gintlemen from town had them all
"Well, dead or alive, I must stay here to-night, Mrs. Kelly, at all
"And what will you do for a bed?"
"A shake down in the parlour, or a stretch on a sofa, will do; my gig is
stuck fast in a ditch--my mare tired--ten miles from home--cold night, and
my knee hurt." Murphy limped as he spoke.
"Oh! your poor knee," said Mrs. Kelly; "I'll put a dhrop o' whisky and
brown paper on it, sure--"
"And what gentlemen are these, Mrs. Kelly, who have so filled your house?"
"Gintlemen that came by the coach a while agone, and supping in the
parlour now, sure."
"Would you give my compliments, and ask would they allow me, under the
present peculiar circumstances, to join them? and in the meantime, send
somebody down the road to take the cushions out of my gig; for there is no
use in attempting to get the gig out till morning."
"Sartinly, Misther Murphy, we'll send for the cushions; but as for the
gentlemen, they are all on the other side."
"What other side?"
"The Honourable's voters, sure."
"Pooh! is that all?" said Murphy,--"I don't mind that, I've no objection
on that account; besides, _they_ need not know who _I_ am," and
he gave the landlord a knowing wink, to which the landlord as knowingly
The message to the gentlemen was delivered, and Murphy was immediately
requested to join their party; this was all he wanted, and he played off
his powers of diversion on the innocent citizens so successfully, that
before supper was half over they thought themselves in luck to have fallen
in with such a chance acquaintance. Murphy fired away jokes, repartees,
anecdotes, and country gossip, to their delight; and when the eatables
were disposed of, he started them on the punch-drinking tack afterwards so
cleverly, that he hoped to see three parts of them tipsy before they
retired to rest.
"Do you feel your knee better now, sir?" asked one of the party, of
"Considerably, thank you; whisky punch, sir, is about the best cure for
bruises or dislocations a man can take."
"I doubt that, sir," said a little matter-of-fact man, who had now
interposed his reasonable doubts for the twentieth time during Murphy's
various extravagant declarations, and the interruption only made Murphy
romance the more.
"_You_ speak of your fiery _Dublin_ stuff, sir; but our country
whisky is as mild as milk, and far more wholesome; then, sir, our fine air
alone would cure half the complaints without a grain of physic."
"I doubt that, sir!" said the little man.
"I assure you, sir, a friend of my own from town came down here last
spring on crutches, and from merely following a light whisky diet and
sleeping with his window open, he was able to dance at the race ball in a
fortnight; as for this knee of mine, it's a trifle, though it was a bad
"How did it happen, sir? Was it your horse--or your harness--or your gig--
"None o' them, sir; it was a _Banshee_."
"A Banshee!" said the little man; "what's that?"
"A peculiar sort of supernatural creature that is common here, sir. She
was squatted down on one side of the road, and my mare shied at her, and
being a spirited little thing, she attempted to jump the ditch and missed
it in the dark."
"Jump a ditch, with a gig after her, sir?" said the little man.
"Oh, common enough to do that here, sir; she'd have done it easy in the
daylight, but she could not measure her distance in the dark, and bang she
went into the ditch: but it's a trifle, after all. I am generally run over
four or five times a year."
"And you alive to tell it!" said the little man, incredulously.
"It's hard to kill us here, sir, we are used to accidents."
"Well, the worst accident I ever heard of," said one of the citizens,
"happened to a friend of mine, who went to visit a friend of his on a
Sunday, and all the family happened to be at church; so on driving into
the yard there was no one to take his horse, therefore he undertook the
office of ostler himself, but being unused to the duty, he most
incautiously took off the horse's bridle before unyoking him from his gig,
and the animal, making a furious plunge forward--my friend being before
him at the time--the shaft of the gig was driven through his body, and
into the coach-house gate behind him, and stuck so fast that the horse
could not drag it out after; and in this dreadful situation they remained
until the family returned from church, and saw the awful occurrence. A
servant was despatched for a doctor, and the shaft was disengaged, and
drawn out of the man's body--just at the pit of the stomach; he was laid
on a bed, and every one thought of course he must die at once, but he
didn't; and the doctor came next day, and he wasn't dead--did what he
could for him--and, to make a long story short, sir, the man recovered."
"Pooh! pooh!" said the diminutive doubter.
"It's true," said the narrator.
"I make no doubt of it, sir," said Murphy; "I know a more extraordinary
case of recovery myself."
"I beg your pardon, sir," said the cit; "I have not finished my story yet,
for the most extraordinary part of the story remains to be told; my
friend, sir, was a very sickly man before the accident happened--a
_very_ sickly man, and after that accident he became a hale healthy
man. What do you think of that, sir?"
"It does not surprise me in the least, sir," said Murphy; "I can account
for it readily."
"Well, sir, I never heard It accounted for, though I know it to be true; I
should like to hear how you account for it?"
"Very simply, sir," said Murphy; "don't you perceive the man discovered
a _mine_ of health by a _shaft_ being sunk in the _pit_ of his stomach?"
Murphy's punning solution of the cause of cure was merrily received by the
company, whose critical taste was not of that affected nature which
despises _jeu de mots_, and _will not_ be satisfied under a
_jeu d'esprit_; the little doubting man alone refused to be pleased.
"I doubt the value of a pun always, sir. Dr. Johnson said, sir--"
"I know," said Murphy; "that the man who would make a pun would pick a
pocket; that's old, sir,--but is dearly remembered by all those who cannot
make puns themselves."
"Exactly," said one of the party they called Wiggins. "It is the old story
of the fox and the grapes. Did you ever hear, sir, the story of the fox
and the grapes? The fox one day was--"
"Yes, yes," said Murphy, who, fond of absurdity as he was, could
_not_ stand the fox and the grapes by way of something new.
"They're sour, said the fox."
"Yes," said Murphy, "a capital story."
"Oh, them fables is so good!" said Wiggins.
"All nonsense!" said the diminutive contradictor.
"Nonsense, nothing but nonsense; the ridiculous stuff of birds and beasts
speaking! As if any one could believe such stuff."
"I do--firmly--for one," said Murphy.
"You do?" said the little man.
"I do--and do you know why?"
"I cannot indeed conceive," said the little man, with a bitter grin.
"It is, sir, because I myself know a case that occurred in this very
country of a similar nature."
"Do you want to make me believe you knew a fox that spoke, sir?" said the
mannikin, almost rising into anger.
"Many, sir," said Murphy, "many."
"Well! after that!" said the little man.
"But the case I immediately allude to is not of a fox, but a cat," said
"A cat? Oh, yes--to be sure--a cat speak, indeed!" said the little
"It is a fact, sir," said Murphy; "and if the company would not object to
my relating the story, I will state the particulars."
The proposal was received with acclamation; and Murphy, in great enjoyment
of the little man's annoyance, cleared his throat, and made all the
preparatory demonstrations of a regular _raconteur_; but, before he
began, he recommended the gentlemen to mix fresh tumblers all round that
they might have nothing to do but listen and drink silently. "For of all
things in the world," said Murtough, "I hate a song or a story to be
interrupted by the rattle of spoons."
They obeyed; and while they are mixing their punch, we will just turn over
a fresh page, and devote a new Chapter to the following
MURTOUGH MURPHY'S STORY; BEING YE MARVELLOUS LEGEND OF TOM CONNOR'S CAT
"There was a man in these parts, sir, you must know, called Tom Connor,
and he had a cat that was equal to any dozen of rat-traps, and he was
proud of the baste, and with rayson; for she was worth her weight in goold
to him in saving his sacks of meal from the thievery of the rats and mice;
for Tom was an extensive dealer in corn, and influenced the rise and fall
of that article in the market, to the extent of a full dozen of sacks at a
time, which he either kept or sold, as the spirit of free trade or
monopoly came over him. Indeed, at one time, Tom had serious thoughts of
applying to the government for a military force to protect his granary
when there was a threatened famine in the county."
"Pooh! pooh! sir," said the matter-of-fact little man: "as if a dozen
sacks could be of the smallest consequence in a whole county--pooh! pooh!"
"Well, sir," said Murphy, "I can't help if you don't believe; but it's
truth what I am telling you, and pray don't interrupt me, though you may
not believe; by the time the story's done you'll have heard more wonderful
things than _that_,--and besides, remember you're a stranger in these
parts, and have no notion of the extraordinary things, physical,
metaphysical, and magical, which constitute the idiosyncrasy of rural
The little man did not know the meaning of Murphy's last sentence--nor
Murphy either; but, having stopped the little man's throat with big words,
"This cat, sir, you must know, was a great pet, and was so up to
everything, that Tom swore she was a'most like a Christian, only she
couldn't speak, and had so sensible a look in her eyes, that he was sartin
sure the cat knew every word that was said to her. Well, she used to sit
by him at breakfast every morning, and the eloquent cock of her tail, as
she used to rub against his leg, said, 'Give me some milk, Tom Connor,' as
plain as print, and the plenitude of her purr afterwards spoke a gratitude
beyond language. Well, one morning, Tom was going to the neighbouring town
to market, and he had promised the wife to bring home shoes to the
childre' out o' the price of the corn; and sure enough, before he sat down
to breakfast, there was Tom taking the measure of the children's feet, by
cutting notches on a bit of stick; and the wife gave him so many cautions
about getting a 'nate fit' for 'Billy's purty feet,' that Tom, in his
anxiety to nick the closest possible measure, cut off the child's toe.
That disturbed the harmony of the party, and Tom was obliged to breakfast
alone, while the mother was endeavouring to cure Billy; in short, trying
to make a _heal_ of his _toe_. Well, sir, all the time Tom was
taking measure for the shoes, the cat was observing him with that luminous
peculiarity of eye for which her tribe is remarkable; and when Tom sat
down to breakfast the cat rubbed up against him more vigorously than
usual; but Tom, being bewildered between his expected gain in corn and the
positive loss of his child's toe, kept never minding her, until the cat,
with a sort of caterwauling growl, gave Tom a dab of her claws, that went
clean through his leathers, and a little further. 'Wow!' says Tom, with a
jump, clapping his hand on the part, and rubbing it, 'by this and that,
you drew the blood out o' me,' says Tom; 'you wicked divil--tish!--go
along!' says he, making a kick at her. With that the cat gave a
reproachful look at him, and her eyes glared just like a pair of
mail-coach lamps in a fog. With that, sir, the cat, with a mysterious
_'mi-ow'_ fixed a most penetrating glance on Tom, and distinctly uttered
"Tom felt every hair on his head as stiff as a pump-handle; and scarcely
crediting his ears, he returned a searching look at the cat, who very
quietly proceeded in a sort of nasal twang--
"'Tom Connor,' says she.
"'The Lord be good to me!' says Tom, 'if it isn't spakin' she is!'
"'Tom Connor,' says she again.
"'Yes, ma'am,' says Tom.
"'Come here,' says she; 'whisper--I want to talk to you, Tom,' says she,
'the laste taste in private,' says she--rising on her hams, and beckoning
him with her paw out o' the door, with a wink and a toss o' the head
aiqual to a milliner.
"Well, as you may suppose, Tom didn't know whether he was on his head or
his heels, but he followed the cat, and off she went and squatted herself
under the edge of a little paddock at the back of Tom's house; and as he
came round the corner, she held up her paw again, and laid it on her
mouth, as much as to say, 'Be cautious, Tom.' Well, divil a word Tom could
say at all, with the fright, so up he goes to the cat, and says she--
"'Tom,' says she, 'I have a great respect for you, and there's something I
must tell you, becase you're losing character with your neighbours,' says
she, 'by your goin's on,' says she, 'and it's out o' the respect that I
have for you, that I must tell you,' says she.
"'Thank you, ma'am,' says Tom.
"'You're goin' off to the town,' says she, 'to buy shoes for the
childre',' says she, 'and never thought o' gettin' me a pair.'
"'You!' says Tom."
"'Yis, me, Tom Connor,' says she; 'and the neighbours wondhers that a
respectable man like you allows your cat to go about the counthry
barefutted,' says she."
"'Is it a cat to ware shoes?' says Tom."
"'Why not?' says she; 'doesn't horses ware shoes?--and I have a prettier
foot than a horse, I hope,' says she, with a toss of her head."
"'Faix, she spakes like a woman; so proud of her feet,' says Tom to
himself, astonished, as you may suppose, but pretending never to think it
remarkable all the time; and so he went on discoursin'; and says he, 'It's
thrue for you, ma'am,' says he, 'that horses wares shoes--but that stands
to rayson, ma'am, you see--seeing the hardship their feet has to go
through on the hard roads.'"
"'And how do you know what hardship my feet has to go through?' says the
cat, mighty sharp."
"'But, ma'am,' says Tom, 'I don't well see how you could fasten a shoe on
you,' says he."
"'Lave that to me,' says the cat."
"'Did any one ever stick walnut shells on you, pussy?' says Tom, with a
"'Don't be disrespectful, Tom Connor,' says the cat, with a frown."
"'I ax your pard'n, ma'am,' says he, 'but as for the horses you wor
spakin' about wearin' shoes, you know their shoes is fastened on with
nails, and how would your shoes be fastened on?'"
"'Ah, you stupid thief!' says she, 'haven't I illigant nails o' my own?'
and with that she gave him a dab of her claw, that made him roar."
"'Ow! murdher!' says he."
"'Now, no more of your palaver, Misther Connor,' says the cat; 'just be
off and get me the shoes.'"
"'Tare an' ouns!' says Tom, 'what'll become o' me if I'm to get shoes for
my cats?' says he, 'for you increase your family four times a year, and
you have six or seven every time,' says he; 'and then you must all have
two pair a piece--wirra! wirra!--I'll be ruined in shoe-leather,' says
"'No more o' your stuff,' says the cat; 'don't be stand in' here undher
the hedge talkin', or we'll lose our karacthers--for I've remarked your
wife is jealous, Tom.'
"'Pon my sowl, that's thrue,' says Tom, with a smirk.
"'More fool she,' says the cat, 'for, 'pon my conscience, Tom, you're as
ugly as if you wor bespoke.'
"Off ran the cat with these words, leaving Tom in amazement. He said
nothing to the family, for fear of fright'ning them, and off he went to
the _town_ as he _pretended_--for he saw the cat watching him
through a hole in the hedge; but when he came to a turn at the end of the
road, the dickings a mind he minded the market, good or bad, but went off
to Squire Botherum's, the magisthrit, to sware examinations agen the cat."
"Pooh! pooh!--nonsense!!" broke in the little man, who had listened thus
far to Murtough with an expression of mingled wonder and contempt, while
the rest of the party willingly gave up the reins to nonsense, and enjoyed
Murtough's Legend and their companion's more absurd common sense.
"Don't interrupt him, Goggins," said Mister Wiggins.
"How can you listen to such nonsense?" returned Goggins. "Swear
examinations against a cat, indeed! pooh! pooh!"
"My dear sir," said Murtough, "remember this is a fair story, and that the
country all around here is full of enchantment. As I was telling you, Tom
went off to swear examinations."
"Ay, ay!" shouted all but Goggins; "go on with the story."
"And when Tom was asked to relate the events of the morning, which brought
him before Squire Botherum, his brain was so bewildered between his corn,
and his cat, and his child's toe, that he made a very confused account of
"'Begin your story from the beginning,' said the magistrate to Tom.
"'Well, your honour,' says Tom, 'I was goin' to market this mornin', to
sell the child's corn--I beg your pard'n--my own toes, I mane, sir.'
"'Sell your toes!' said the Squire.
"'No, sir, takin' the cat to market, I mane--'
"'Take a cat to market!' said the Squire. 'You're drunk, man.'
"'No, your honour, only confused a little; for when the toes began to
spake to me--the cat, I mane--I was bothered clane--'
"'The cat speak to you!' said the Squire. 'Phew! worse than before--you're
"'No, your honour; it's on the strength of the cat I come to spake to
"'I think it's on the strength of a pint of whisky, Tom--'
"'By the vartue o' my oath, your honour, it's nothin' but the cat.' And so
Tom then told him all about the affair, and the Squire was regularly
astonished. Just then the bishop of the diocese and the priest of the
parish happened to call in, and heard the story; and the bishop and the
priest had a tough argument for two hours on the subject; the former
swearing she must be a witch; but the priest denying _that_, and
maintaining she was _only_ enchanted; and that part of the argument
was afterwards referred to the primate, and subsequently to the conclave
at Rome; but the Pope declined interfering about cats, saying he had quite
enough to do minding his own bulls.
"'In the meantime, what are we to do with the cat?' says Botherum.
"'Burn her,' says the bishop, 'she's a witch.'
"_Only_ enchanted,' said the priest--'and the ecclesiastical court
"'Bother the ecclesiastical court!' said the magistrate; 'I can only
proceed on the statutes;' and with that he pulled down all the law-books
in his library, and hunted the laws from Queen Elizabeth down, and he
found that they made laws against everything in Ireland, _except a
cat_. The devil a thing escaped them but a cat, which did _not_
come within the meaning of any act of parliament:--_the cats only had
"'There's the alien act, to be sure,' said the magistrate, 'and perhaps
she's a French spy, in disguise.'
"'She spakes like a French spy, sure enough,' says Tom; 'and she was
missin', I remember, all last Spy-Wednesday.'
"'That's suspicious,' says the squire--'but conviction might be difficult;
and I have a fresh idea,' says Botherum.
"''Faith, it won't keep fresh long, this hot weather,' says Tom; 'so your
honour had betther make use of it at wanst.'
"'Right,' says Botherum,--'we'll make her subject to the game laws; we'll
hunt her,' says he.
"'Ow!--elegant!' says Tom;--'we'll have a brave run out of her.'
"'Meet me at the cross roads,' says the Squire, 'in the morning, and I'll
have the hounds ready.'
"'Well, off Tom went home; and he was racking his brain what excuse he
could make to the cat for not bringing the shoes; and at last he hit one
off, just as he saw her cantering up to him, half-a-mile before he got
"'Where's the shoes, Tom?' says she.
"'I have not got them to-day, ma'am,' says he.
"'Is that the way you keep your promise, Tom?' says she;--'I'll tell you
what it is, Tom--I'll tare the eyes out o' the childre' if you don't get
"'Whisht! whisht!' says Tom, frightened out of his life for his children's
eyes. 'Don't be in a passion, pussy. The shoemaker said he had not a shoe
in his shop, nor a last that would make one to fit you; and he says, I
must bring you into the town for him to take your measure.'
"'And when am I to go?' says the cat, looking savage.
"'To-morrow,' says Tom.
"'It's well you said that, Tom,' said the cat, 'or the devil an eye I'd
leave in your family this night'--and off she hopped.
"Tom thrimbled at the wicked look she gave.
"'Remember!' says she, over the hedge, with a bitter caterwaul.
"'Never fear,' says Tom. Well, sure enough, the next mornin' there was
the cat at cock-crow, licking herself as nate as a new pin, to go into the
town, and out came Tom with a bag undher his arm, and the cat afther him.
"'Now git into this, and I'll carry you into the town,' says Tom, opening
"'Sure I can walk with you,' says the cat.
"'Oh, that wouldn't do,' says Tom; 'the people in the town is curious and
slandherous people, and sure it would rise ugly remarks if I was seen with
a cat afther me:--a dog is a man's companion by nature, but cats does not
stand to rayson.'
"Well, the cat, seeing there was no use in argument, got into the bag, and
off Tom set to the cross roads with the bag over his shoulder, and he came
up, _quite innocent-like_, to the corner, where the Squire, and his
huntsman, and the hounds, and a pack o' people were waitin'. Out came the
Squire on a sudden, just as if it was all by accident.
"'God save you, Tom,' says he.
"'God save you kindly, sir,' says Tom.
"'What's that bag you have at your back?' says the Squire.
"'Oh, nothin' at all, sir,' says Tom--makin' a face all the time, as much
as to say, I have her safe.
"'Oh, there's something in that bag, I think,' says the Squire; 'and you
must let me see it.'
"'If you bethray me, Tom Connor,' says the cat in a low voice, 'by this
and that I'll never spake to you again!'
"'Pon my honour, sir,' said Tom, with a wink and a twitch of his thumb
towards the bag, 'I haven't anything in it.'
"'I have been missing my praties of late,' says the Squire; 'and I'd just
like to examine that bag,' says he.
"'Is it doubting my charackther you'd be, sir?' says Tom, pretending to be
in a passion.
"'Tom, your sowl!' says the voice in the sack, '_if you let the cat out
of the bag_, I'll murther you.'
"'An honest man would make no objection to be sarched,' said the Squire;
'and I insist on it,' says he, laying hold o' the bag, and Tom purtending
to fight all the time; but, my jewel! before two minutes, they shook the
cat out o' the bag, sure enough, and off she went with her tail as big as
a sweeping brush, and the Squire, with a thundering view halloo after her,
clapt the dogs at her heels, and away they went for the bare life. Never
was there seen such running as that day--the cat made for a shaking bog,
the loneliest place in the whole country, and there the riders were all
thrown out, barrin' the huntsman, who had a web-footed horse on purpose
for soft places; and the priest, whose horse could go anywhere by reason
of the priest's blessing; and, sure enough, the huntsman and his riverence
stuck to the hunt like wax; and just as the cat got on the border of the
bog, they saw her give a twist as the foremost dog closed with her, for he
gave her a nip in the flank. Still she went on, however, and headed them
well, towards an old mud cabin in the middle of the bog, and there they
saw her jump in at the window, and up came the dogs the next minit, and
gathered round the house with the most horrid howling ever was heard. The
huntsman alighted, and went into the house to turn the cat out again, when
what should he see but an old hag lying in bed in the corner?
"'Did you see a cat come in here?' says he.
"'Oh, no--o--o--o!' squealed the old hag, in a trembling voice; 'there's
no cat here,' says she.
"'Yelp, yelp, yelp!' went the dogs outside.
"'Oh, keep the dogs out o' this,' says the old hag--'oh--o--o--o!' and the
huntsman saw her eyes glare under the blanket, just like a cat's.
"'Hillo!' says the huntsman, pulling down the blanket--and what should he
see but the old hag's flank all in a gore of blood.
"'Ow, ow! you old divil--is it you? you ould cat!' says he, opening the
"In rushed the dogs--up jumped the old hag, and changing into a cat before
their eyes, out she darted through the window again, and made another run
for it; but she couldn't escape, and the dogs gobbled her while you could
say 'Jack Robinson.' But the most remarkable part of this extraordinary
story, gentlemen, is, that the pack was ruined from that day out; for
after having eaten the enchanted cat, _the devil a thing they would ever
hunt afterwards but mice._"
Murphy's story was received with acclamation by all but the little man.
"That is all a pack of nonsense," said he.
"Well, you're welcome to it, sir," said Murphy, "and if I had greater
nonsense you should have it; but seriously, sir, I again must beg you to
remember that the country all around here abounds in enchantment; scarcely
a night passes without some fairy frolic; but, however you may doubt the
wonderful fact of the cat speaking, I wonder you are not impressed with
the points of moral in which the story abounds--"
"Fiddlestick!" said the miniature snarler.
"First, the little touch about the corn monopoly --then maternal vanity
chastised by the loss of the child's toe--then Tom's familiarity with his
cat, showing the danger arising from a man making too free with his female
domestics--the historical point about the penal laws--the fatal results of
letting the cat out o' the bag, with the curious final fact in natural
[Footnote: Handy Andy was written when the "vexed question" of the
"Corn Laws" was the all-absorbing subject of discussion.]
"It's all nonsense," said the little man, "and I am ashamed of myself for
being such a fool as to sit--alistening to such stuff instead of going to
bed, after the fatigue of my journey and the necessity of rising early
to-morrow, to be in good time at the polling."
"Oh! then you're going to the election, sir?" said Murphy.
"Yes, sir--there's some sense in _that_--and _you_, gentlemen,
remember we must be _all_ up early--and I recommend you to follow my
The little man rang the bell--the bootjack and slippers were called for,
and, after some delay, a very sleepy-looking _gossoon_ entered with a
bootjack under his arm, but no slippers.
"Didn't I say slippers?" said the little man.
"You did, sir."
"Where are they, sir?"
"The masther says there isn't any, if you plaze, sir."
"No slippers! and you call this an inn? Oh!--well, 'what can't be cured
must be endured'--hold me the bootjack, sir."
The gossoon obeyed--the little man inserted his heel in the cleft, but, on
attempting to pull his foot from the boot, he nearly went heels over head
backward. Murphy caught him and put him on his legs again. "Heads up,
soldiers," exclaimed Murtough; "I thought you were drinking too much."
"Sir, I'm not intoxicated!" said the mannikin, snappishly. "It is the
fault of that vile bootjack--what sort of a thing is that you have
brought?" added he in a rage to the _gossoon_.
"It's the bootjack, sir; only one o' the horns is gone, you see," and he
held up to view a rough piece of board with an angular slit in it, but one
of "the horns," as he called it, had been broken off at the top, leaving
the article useless.
"How dare you bring such a thing as _that_?" said the little man, in
a great rage.
"Why, sir, you ax'd for a bootjack, sure, and I brought you the best I
had--and it's not my fault it's bruk, so it is, for it wasn't me bruk it,
but Biddy batin' the cock."
"Beating the cock!" repeated the little man in surprise. "Bless me! beat a
cock with a bootjack!--what savages!"
"Oh, it's not the _hen_ cock I mane, sir," said the gossoon, "but the
beer cock--she was batin' the cock into the barrel, sir, wid the bootjack,
"That was decidedly wrong," said Murphy; "a bootjack is better suited to a
heel-tap than a full measure."
"She was tapping the beer, you mean?" said the little man.
"Faix, she wasn't tapping it at all, sir, but hittin' it very hard, she
was, and that's the way she bruk it."
"Barbarians!" exclaimed the little man; "using a bootjack instead of a
"Sure the hammer was gone to the priest, sir; bekase he wanted it for the
"The crucifixion!" exclaimed the little man, horrified; "is it possible
they crucify people?"
"Oh no, sir!" said the gossoon, grinning, "it's the picthure I main, sir--
an illigant picthure that is hung up in the chapel, and he wanted a hammer
to dhrive the nails--"
"Oh, a _picture_ of the crucifixion," said the little man.
"Yes, sure, sir--the alther-piece, that was althered for to fit to the
place, for it was too big when it came down from Dublin, so they cut off
the sides where the sojers was, bekase it stopt out the windows, and
wouldn't lave a bit o' light for his riverence to read mass; and sure the
sojers were no loss out o' the alther-piece, and was hung up afther in the
vesthery, and serve them right, the blackguards. But it was sore agen our
will to cut off the ladies at the bottom, that was cryin' and roarin'; but
great good luck, the head o' the Blessed Virgin was presarved in the
corner, and sure it's beautiful to see the tears runnin' down her face,
just over the hole in the wall for the holy wather--which is remarkable."
The gossoon was much offended by the laughter that followed his account of
the altar-piece, which he had no intention of making irreverential, and
suddenly became silent, with a muttered "More shame for yiz;" and as his
bootjack was impracticable, he was sent off with orders for the chamber-
maid to supply bed candles immediately.
The party soon separated for their various dormitories, the little man
leaving sundry charges to call them early in the morning, and to be sure
to have hot water ready for shaving, and, without fail, to have their
boots polished in time and left at their room doors;--to all which
injunctions he severally received the answer of--"Certainly, sir;" and as
the bed-room doors were slapped-to, one by one, the last sound of the
retiring party was the snappish voice of the indefatigable little man,
shouting, ere he shut his door,--"Early--early--don't forget, Mistress
A shake-down for Murphy in the parlour was hastily prepared; and after
Mrs. Kelly was assured by Murtough that he was quite comfortable, and
perfectly content with his accommodation, for which she made scores of
apologies, with lamentations it was not better, &c., &c., the whole
household retired to rest, and in about a quarter of an hour the inn was
in perfect silence.
Then Murtough cautiously opened his door, and after listening for some
minutes, and being satisfied he was the only watcher under the roof, he
gently opened one of the parlour windows and gave the preconcerted signal
which he and Dick had agreed upon. Dick was under the window immediately,
and after exchanging a few words with Murtough, the latter withdrew, and
taking off his boots, and screening with his hand the light of a candle he
carried, he cautiously ascended the stairs, and proceeded stealthily along
the corridor of the dormitory, where, from the chambers on each side, a
concert of snoring began to be executed, and at all the doors stood the
boots and shoes of the inmates awaiting the aid of Day and Martin in the
morning. But, oh! innocent calf-skins--destined to a far different fate--
not Day and Martin, but Dick the Devil and Company are in wait for you.
Murphy collected as many as he could carry under his arms and descended
with them to the parlour window, where they were transferred to Dick, who
carried them directly to the horse-pond which lay behind the inn, and
there committed them to the deep. After a few journeys up and down stairs,
Murtough had left the electors without a morsel of sole or upper leather,
and was satisfied that a considerable delay, if not a prevention of their
appearance at the poll on the morrow, would be the consequence.
"There, Dick," said Murphy, "is the last of them," as he handed the little
man's shoes out of the window,--"and now, to save appearances, you must
take mine too--for I must be without boots as well as the rest in the
morning. What fun I shall have when the uproar begins--don't you envy me,
Dick? There, be off now: but hark 'e, notwithstanding you take away my
boots, you need not throw them into the horse-pond."
"'Faith, an' I will," said Dick, dragging them out of his hands; "'t would
not be honourable, if I didn't--I'd give two pair of boots for the fun
"Nonsense, Dick--Dick, I say--my boots!"
"Honour!" cried Dick, as he vanished round the corner.
"That devil will keep his word," muttered Murphy, as he closed the window
--"I may bid good bye to that pair of boots--bad luck to him!" And yet the
merry attorney could not help laughing at Dick making him a sufferer by
his own trick.
Dick _did_ keep his word; and after, with particular delight, sinking
Murphy's boots with the rest, he, as it was preconcerted, returned to the
cottage of Barny, and with his assistance drew the upset gig from the
ditch, and with a second set of harness, provided for the occasion, yoked
the servant's horse to the vehicle and drove home.
Murphy, meanwhile, was bent on more mischief at the inn; and lest the loss
of the boots and shoes might not be productive of sufficient impediment to
the movements of the enemy, he determined on venturing a step further. The
heavy sleeping of the weary and tipsy travellers enabled him to enter
their chambers unobserved, and over the garments they had taken off he
poured the contents of the water-jug and water-bottle he found in each
room, and then laying the empty bottle and a tumbler on a chair beside
each sleeper's bed, he made it appear as if the drunken men had been dry
in the night, and, in their endeavours to cool their thirst, had upset the
water over their own clothes. The clothes of the little man, in
particular, Murphy took especial delight in sousing more profusely than
his neighbour's, and not content with taking his shoes, burnt his
stockings, and left the ashes in the dish of the candlestick, with just as
much unconsumed as would show what they had been. He then retired to the
parlour, and with many an internal chuckle at the thought of the morning's
hubbub, threw off his clothes and flinging himself on the shake-down Mrs.
Kelly had provided for him, was soon wrapt in the profoundest slumber,
from which he never awoke until the morning uproar of the inn aroused him.
He jumped from his lair and rushed to the scene of action, to soar in the
storm of his own raising; and to make it more apparent that he had been as
great a sufferer as the rest, he only threw a quilt over his shoulders and
did not draw on his stockings. In this plight he scaled the stairs and
joined the storming party, where the little man was leading the forlorn
hope, with his candlestick in one hand and the remnant of his burnt
stocking between the finger and thumb of the other.
"Look at that, sir!" he cried, as he held it up to the landlord.
The landlord could only stare.
"Bless me!" cried Murphy, "how drunk you must have been to mistake your
stocking for an extinguisher!"
"Drunk, sir--I wasn't drunk!"
"It looks very like it," said Murphy, who did not wait for an answer, but
bustled off to another party who was wringing out his inexpressibles at
the door of his bed-room, and swearing at the gossoon that he _must_
have his boots.
"I never seen them, sir," said the boy.
"I left them at my door," said the man.
"So did I leave mine," said Murphy, "and here I am barefooted--it is most
"Has the house been robbed?" said the innocent elector.
"Not a one o' me knows, sir!" said the boy; "but how could it be robbed
and the doors all fast this mornin'?"
The landlady now appeared, and fired at the word "robbed!"
"Robbed, sir!" exclaimed Mrs. Kelly; "no, sir--no one was ever robbed in
my house--my house is respectable and responsible, sir--a vartuous house--
none o' your rantipole places, sir, I'd have you to know, but decent and
well behaved, and the house was as quiet as a lamb all night."
"Certainly, Mrs. Kelly," said Murphy--"not a more respectable house in
Ireland--I'll vouch for that."
"You're a gentleman, Misther Murphy," said Mrs. Kelly, who turned down the
passage, uttering indignant ejaculations in a sort of snorting manner,
while her words of anger were returned by Murphy with expressions of
soothing and condolence as he followed her down-stairs.
The storm still continued above, and while there they shouted and swore
and complained, Murphy gave _his_ notion of the catastrophe to the
landlady below, inferring that the men were drunk and poured the water
over their own clothes. To repeat this idea to themselves he re-ascended,
but the men were incredulous. The little man he found buttoning on a pair
of black gaiters, the only serviceable decency he had at his command,
which only rendered his denuded state more ludicrous. To him Murphy
asserted his belief that the whole affair was enchantment, and ventured to
hope the small individual would have more faith in fairy machinations for
the future; to which the little abortion only returned his usual "Pho!
Through all this scene of uproar, as Murphy passed to and fro, whenever he
encountered the landlord, that worthy individual threw him a knowing look;
and the exclamation of, "Oh, Misther Murphy--by dad!" given in a low
chuckling tone, insinuated that the landlord not only smoked but enjoyed
"You must lend me a pair of boots, Kelly!" said Murtough.
"To be sure, sir--ha! ha! ha!--but you are the quare man, Misther
"Send down the road and get my gig out of the ditch."
"To be sure, sir. Poor devils! purty hands they got into," and off went
the landlord, with a chuckle.
The messengers sent for the gig returned, declaring there was no gig to be
Murphy affected great surprise at the intelligence--again went among the
bamboozled electors, who were all obliged to go to bed for want of
clothes; and his bitter lamentations over the loss of his gig almost
reconciled them to their minor troubles.
To the fears they expressed that they should not be able to reach the town
in time for polling that day, Murphy told them to set their minds at rest,
for they would be in time on the next.
He then borrowed a saddle as well as the pair of boots from the landlord,
and the little black mare bore Murphy triumphantly back to the town, after
he had securely impounded Scatterbrain's voters, who were anxiously and
hourly expected by their friends. Still they came not. At last, Handy
Andy, who happened to be in town with Scatterbrain, was despatched to
hurry them, and his orders were not to come back without them.
Handy, on his arrival at the inn, found the electors in bed, and all the
fires in the house employed in drying their clothes. The little man,
wrapped in a blanket, was superintending the cooking of his own before the
kitchen grate; there hung his garments on some cross sticks suspended by a
string, after the fashion of a roasting-jack, which the small gentleman
turned before a blazing turf fire; and beside this contrivance of his
swung a goodly joint of meat, which a bouncing kitchen wench came over to
baste now and then.
Andy was answering some questions of the inquisitive little man, when the
kitchen maid, handing the basting-ladle to Andy, begged him to do a good
turn and just to baste the beef for her, for that her heart was broke with
all she had to do, cooking dinner for so many.
Andy, always ready to oblige, consented, and plied the ladle actively
between the troublesome queries of the little man; but at last, getting
confused with some very crabbed questions put to him, Andy became
completely bothered, and lifting a brimming ladle of dripping, poured it
over the little man's coat instead of the beef.
A roar from the proprietor of the clothes followed, and he implanted a
kick at such advantage upon Andy, that he upset him into the dripping-pan;
and Andy, in his fall, endeavouring to support himself, caught at the
suspended articles above him, and the clothes, and the beef, and Andy, all
swam in gravy.
[Illustration: Andy's Cooking extraordinary]
While disaster and hubbub were rife below, the electors up-stairs were
holding a council whether it would not be better to send back the
"Honourable's" messenger to the town and request a supply of shoes, which
they had no other means of getting. The debate was of an odd sort; they
were all in their several beds at the time, and roared at each other
through their doors, which were purposely left open that they might enjoy
each other's conversation; number seven replied to number three, and
claimed respect to his arguments on the score of seniority; the blue room
was completely controverted by the yellow; and the double-bedded room
would, of course, have had superior weight in the argument, only that
everything it said was lost by the two honourable members speaking
together. The French king used to hold a council called a "bed of
justice," in which neither justice nor a bed had anything to do, so that
this Irish conference better deserved the title than any council the
Bourbon ever assembled. The debate having concluded, and the question
being put and carried, the usher of the black counterpane was desired to
get out of bed, and, wrapped in the robe of office whence he derived his
title, to go down-stairs and call the "Honourable's" messenger to the "bar
of the house," and there order him a pint of porter, for refreshment after
his ride; and forthwith to send him back again to the town for a supply of
The house was unanimous in voting the supplies. The usher reached the
kitchen and found Andy in his shirt sleeves, scraping the dripping from
his livery with an old knife, whose hackled edge considerably assisted
Andy's own ingenuity in the tearing of his coat in many places, while the
little man made no effort towards the repair of his garment, but held it
up before him, and regarded it with a piteous look.
To the usher of the black counterpane's question, whether Andy was the
"Honourable's messenger," Andy replied in the affirmative; but to the
desire expressed, that he would ride back to the town, Andy returned a
"My ordhers is not to go back without you," said Andy.
"But we have no shoes," said the usher; "and cannot go until we get some."
"My ordher is not to go back without you."
"But if we can't go?"
"Well, then, I can't go back, that's all," said Andy.
The usher, the landlord, and the landlady all hammered away at Andy for a
long time, in vain trying to convince him he ought to return, as he was
desired; still Andy stuck to the letter of his orders, and said he often
got into trouble for not doing _exactly_ what he was bid, and that he
was bid "not to go back without them, and he would not--so he wouldn't--
divil a fut."
At last, however, Andy was made to understand the propriety of riding back
to the town; and was desired to go as fast as his horse could carry him,
to gallop every foot of the way; but Andy did no such thing; he had
received a good thrashing once for being caught galloping his master's
horse on the road, and he had no intention of running the risk a second
time, because "_the stranger_" told him to do so. "What does he know
about it?" said Andy to himself; "'faith, it's fair and aisy I'll go, and
not disthress the horse to plaze any one." So he went back his ten miles
at a reasonable pace only; and when he appeared without the electors, a
storm burst on poor Andy.
"There! I knew how it would be," said he, "and not my fault at all."
"Weren't you told not to return without them?"
"But wait till I tell you how it was, sure;" and then Andy began an
account of the condition in which the voters lay at the inn but between
the impatience of those who heard, and the confused manner of Andy's
recital, it was some time before matters were explained; and then Andy was
desired to ride back to the inn again, to tell the electors shoes should
be forwarded after him in a post-chaise, and requesting their utmost
exertions in hastening over to the town, for that the election was going
against them. Andy returned to the inn; and this time, under orders from
head quarters, galloped in good earnest, and brought in his horse smoking
hot, and indicating lameness. The day was wearing apace, and it was so
late when the electors were enabled to start that the polling-booths were
closed before they could leave the town; and in many of these booths the
requisite number of electors had not been polled that day to keep them
open; so that the next day nearly all those outlying electors, about whom
there had been so much trouble and expense, would be of no avail. Thus,
Murphy's trick was quite successful, and the poor pickled electors were
driven back to their inn in dudgeon.
Andy, when he went to the stable to saddle his steed, for a return to
Neck-or-Nothing Hall, found him dead lame, so that to ride him better than
twelve miles home was impossible. Andy was obliged to leave him where he
was, and trudge it to the hall; for all the horses in Kelly's stables were
knocked up with their day's work.
As it was shorter by four miles across the country than by the road, Andy
pursued the former course; and as he knew the country well, the shades of
evening, which were now closing round, did not deter him in the least.
Andy was not very fresh for the journey to be sure, for he had ridden
upwards of thirty miles that day, so the merry whistle, which is so
constantly heard from the lively Irish pedestrian, did not while away the
tedium of his walk. It was night when Andy was breasting up a low ridge of
hills, which lay between him and the end of his journey; and when in
silence and darkness he topped the ascent, he threw himself on some
heather to rest and take breath. His attention was suddenly caught by a
small blue flame, which flickered now and then on the face of the hill,
not very far from him; and Andy's fears of fairies and goblins came
crowding upon him thick and fast. He wished to rise, but could not; his
eye continued to be strained with the fascination of fear in the direction
he saw the fire, and sought to pierce the gloom through which, at
intervals, the small point of flame flashed brightly and sunk again,
making the darkness seem deeper. Andy lay in perfect stillness, and in the
silence, which was unbroken even by his own breathing, he thought he heard
voices underground. He trembled from head to foot, for he was certain they
were the voices of the fairies, whom he firmly believed to inhabit the
"Oh! murdher, what'll I do?" thought Andy to himself: "sure I heerd often,
if once you were within the sound of their voices, you could never get out
o' their power. Oh! if I could only say a _pather_ and _ave_,
but I forget my prayers with the fright. Hail, Mary! The king o' the
fairies lives in these hills, I know--and his house is undher me this
minit, and I on the roof of it--I'll never get down again--I'll never get
down again--they'll make me slater to the fairies; and sure enough I
remember me, the hill is all covered with flat stones they call fairy
slates. Oh! I am ruined--God be praised!" Here he blessed himself, and
laid his head close to the earth. "Guardian angels--I hear their voices
singin' a dhrinking song--Oh! if I had a dhrop o' water myself, for my
mouth is as dhry as a lime-burner's wig--and I on the top o' their house
--see--there's the little blaze again--I wondher is their chimbley afire
--Oh! murther, I'll die o' thirst--Oh! if I had only one dhrop o' wather
--I wish it would rain or hail--Hail, Mary, full o' grace--whisht!
what's that?" Andy crouched lower than before, as he saw a figure rise
from the earth, and attain a height which Andy computed to be something
about twenty feet; his heart shrank to the size of a nut-shell, as he
beheld the monster expand to his full dimensions; and at the same moment,
a second, equally large, emerged from the ground.
Now, as fairies are notoriously little people, Andy changed his opinion of
the parties into whose power he had fallen, and saw clearly they were
giants, not fairies, of whom he was about to become the victim. He would
have ejaculated a prayer for mercy, had not terror rendered him
speechless, as the remembrance of all the giants he had ever heard of,
from the days of Jack and the Bean-stalk down, came into his head; but
though his sense of speaking was gone, that of hearing was painfully
acute, and he heard one of the giants say--
"That pot is not big enough."
"Oh! it howlds as much as we want," replied the other.
"O Lord," thought Andy; "they've got their pot ready for cooking."
"What keeps him?" said the first giant.
"Oh! he's not far off," said the second.
A clammy shivering came over Andy.
"I'm hungry," said the first, and he hiccupped as he spoke.
"It's only a false appetite you have," said the second, "you're drunk."
This was a new light to Andy, for he thought giants were too strong to get
drunk. "I could ate a young child, without parsley and butther," said the
drunken giant. Andy gave a faint spasmodic kick.
"And it's as hot as ---- down there," said the giant.
Andy trembled at the horrid word he heard.
"No wonder," said the second giant; "for I can see the flame popping out
at the top of the chimbley; that's bad: I hope no one will see it, or it
might give them warning. Bad luck to that young divil for making the fire
What a dreadful hearing this was for Andy: young devils to make their
fires; there was no doubt what place they were dwelling in. "Thunder and
turf!" said the drunken giant; "I wish I had a slice of--"
Andy did not hear what he wished a slice of, for the night wind swept
across the heath at the moment, and carried away the monster's disgusting
words on its pure breath.
"Well, I'd rather have--" said the other giant; and again Andy lost what
his atrocious desires were--"than all the other slices in the world. What
a lovely round shoulder she has, and the nice round ankle of her--"
The word "ankle" showed at once it was a woman of whom he spoke, and Andy
shuddered. "The monsters! to eat a woman."
"What a fool you are to be in love," said the drunken giant with several
hiccups, showing the increase of his inebriation.
"Is that what the brutes call love," thought Andy, "to ate a woman?"
"I wish she was bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh," said the second
giant. Of this speech Andy heard only "bone" and "flesh," and had great
difficulty in maintaining the serenity of his diaphragm.
The conversation of the giants was now more frequently interrupted by the
wind which was rising, and only broken sentences reached Andy, whose
senses became clearer the longer he remained in a state of safety; at last
he heard the name of Squire Egan distinctly pass between the giants.
"So they know Squire Egan," thought Andy.
The first giant gave a drunken laugh at the mention of Squire Egan's name,
"Don't be afraid of him (_hiccup_); I have him undher my thumb
(_hiccup_). I can crush him when I plase."
"O! my poor owld masther!" mentally ejaculated Andy.
Another break in their conversation occurred, and the next name Andy
overheard was "O'Grady."
"The big bully!" said the second giant.
"They know the whole country," thought Andy.
"But tell me, what was that you said to him at the election?" said the
The word "election" recalled Andy to the business of this earth back
again; and it struck upon his hitherto bewildered sensorium that giants
could have nothing to do with elections, and he knew he never saw them
there; and, as the thought struck him, it seemed as if the giants
diminished in size, and did not appear _quite_ so big.
"Sure you know," said the second.
"Well, I'd like to hear it again," said the drunken one (_hiccup_).
"The big bully says to me, 'Have you a lease?' says he; 'No,' says I; 'but
I have an article!' 'What article?' says he; 'It's a fine brass
blunderbuss,' says I, 'and _I'd like to see the man would dispute the
The drunken listener chuckled, and the words broke the spell of
supernatural terror which had hung over Andy; he knew, by the words of
the speaker, it was the bully joker of the election was present, who
browbeat O'Grady and out-quibbled the agent about the oath of allegiance;
and the voice of the other he soon recognised for that of Larry Hogan.
So now his giants were diminished into mortal men--the pot, which had
been mentioned to the terror of his soul, was for the making of whisky
instead of human broth--and the "hell" he thought his giants inhabited
was but a private still. Andy felt as if a mountain had been lifted from
his heart when he found it was but mortals he had to deal with; for Andy
was not deficient in courage when it was but thews and sinews like his
own he had to encounter. He still lay concealed, however, for smugglers
might not wish their private haunt to be discovered, and it was possible
Andy would be voted one too many in the company should he announce himself;
and with such odds as two to one against him he thought he had better be
quiet. Besides, his curiosity became excited when he found them speaking
of his old master, Egan, and his present one, O'Grady; and as a woman had
been alluded to, and odd words caught up here and there, he became anxious
to hear more of their conversation.
"So you're in love," said Larry, with a hiccup, to our friend of the
blunderbuss; "ha! ha! ha! you big fool."
"Well, you old thief, don't you like a purty girl yourself?"
"I did, when I was young and foolish."
"'Faith, then, you're young and foolish at that rate yet, for you're a
rogue with the girls, Larry," said the other, giving him a slap on the
"Not I! not I!" said Larry, in a manner expressive of his not being
displeased with the charge of gallantry; "he! he! he!--how do you know,
eh?" (_Hiccup_.) "Sure, I know myself; but as I wos telling you, if I
could only lay howld of--" here his voice became inaudible to Andy, and
the rest of the sentence was lost.
Andy's curiosity was great. "Who could the girl be?"
"And you'd carry her off?" said Larry.
"I would," said the other; "I'm only afraid o' Squire Egan."
At this announcement of the intention of "carrying her off," coupled with
the fear of "Squire Egan," Andy's anxiety to hear the name of the person
became so intense that he crawled cautiously a little nearer to the
"I tell you again," said Larry, "I can settle _him_ aisy (_hiccup_)--
he's undher my thumb (_hiccup_)."
"Be aisy," said the other, contemptuously, who thought this was a mere
drunken delusion of Larry's.
"I tell you I'm his masther!" said Larry, with a drunken flourish of his
arm; and he continued bragging of his power over the Squire in various
ejaculations, the exact meaning of which our friend of the blunderbuss
could not fathom, but Andy heard enough to show him that the discovery of
the post-office affair was what Larry alluded to.
That Larry, a close, cunning, circumventing rascal, should so far betray
the source of his power over Egan may seem strange; but be it remembered
Larry was drunk, a state of weakness which his caution generally guarded
him from falling into, but which being in, his foible was bragging of his
influence, and so running the risk of losing it.
The men continued to talk together for some time, and the tenour of the
conversation was, that Larry assured his companion he might carry off the
girl without fear of Egan, but her name Andy could not discover. His own
name he heard more than once, and voluptuous raptures poured forth about
lovely lips and hips and ankles from the herculean knight of the
blunderbuss, amidst the maudlin admiration and hiccups of Larry, who
continued to brag of his power, and profess his readiness to stand by his
friend in carrying off the girl.
"Then," said the Hercules, with an oath, "I'll soon have you in my arms,
The name was lost again.
Their colloquy was now interrupted by the approach of a man and woman, the
former being the person for whose appearance Larry made so many inquiries
when he first appeared to Andy as the hungry giant; the other was the
sister of the knight of the blunderbuss. Larry having hiccupped his anger
against the man for making them wait so long for the bacon, the woman said
he should not wait longer without his supper now, for that she would go
down and fry the rashers immediately. She then disappeared through the
ground, and the men all followed.
Andy drew his breath freely once more, and with caution raised himself
gradually from the ground with a careful circumspection, lest any of the
subterranean community might be watchers on the hill; and when he was
satisfied he was free from observation, he stole away from the spot with
stealthy steps for about twenty paces, and there, as well as the darkness
would permit, after taking such landmarks as would help him to retrace his
way to the still, if requisite, he dashed down the hill at the top of his
speed. This pace he did not moderate until he had placed nearly a mile
between him and the scene of his adventure; he then paced slowly to regain
his breath. His head was in a strange whirl; mischief was threatened
against some one of whose name he was ignorant; Squire Egan was declared
to be in the power of an old rascal; this grieved Andy most of all, for he
felt _he_ was the cause of his old master's dilemma.
"Oh! to think I should bring him into trouble," said Andy, "the kind and
good masther he was to me ever, and I live to tell it like a blackguard--
throth I'd rather be hanged any day than the masther would come to
throuble--maybe if I gave myself up and was hanged like a man at once,
that would settle it; 'faith, if I thought it would, I'd do it sooner than
Squire Egan should come to throuble!" and poor Andy spoke just what he
felt. "Or would it do to kill that blackguard Hogan? _sure they could do
no more than hang me afther_, and that would save the masther, and be
all one to me, for they often towld me I'd be hanged.  But then there's
my sowl," said Andy, and he paused at the thought--, "if they hanged me
for the letthers, it would be only for a mistake, and sure then I'd have a
chance o' glory; for sure I might go to glory through a mistake; but if I
killed a man on purpose, sure it would be slappin' the gates of Heaven in
my own face. Faix, I'll spake to Father Blake about it." 
[Footnote: How often has the sanguinary penal code of past years
suggested this reflection and provoked the guilt it was meant to awe!
Happily, now our laws are milder, and more protective from their
[Footnote: In the foregoing passage, Andy stumbles on uttering a quaint
pleasantry, for it is partly true as well as droll--the notion of a man
gaining Paradise through a mistake. Our intentions too seldom lead us
there, but rather tend the other way, for a certain place is said to be
paved with "good" ones, and surely "bad" ones would not lead us upwards.
Then the phrase of a man "slapping the gates of Heaven in his own face,"
is one of those wild poetic figures of speech in which the Irish peasantry
often indulge. The phrase "slapping the door" is every-day and common; but
when applied to "the gates of Heaven," and "in a man's own face," the
common phrase becomes fine. But how often the commonest things become
poetry by the fitness of their application, though poetasters and people
of small minds think greatness of thought lies in big words.]
The following day was that eventful one which should witness the return
of either Edward Egan, Esq., or the Honourable Sackville Scatterbrain as
member for the county. There was no doubt in any reasonable man's mind as
to the real majority of Egan, but the numbers were sufficiently close to
give the sheriff an opportunity of doing a bit of business to oblige his
friends, and therefore he declared the Honourable Sackville Scatterbrain
duly elected. Great was the uproar; the people hissed, and hooted, and
groaned, for which the Honourable Sackville very good-naturedly returned
them his thanks. Murphy snapped his fingers in the sheriff's face, and
told them his honourable friend should not long remain member, for that he
must be unseated on petition, and that he would prove the return most
corrupt, with which words he again snapped his fingers in the sheriff's
The sheriff threatened to read the riot act if such conduct was repeated.
Egan took off his hat, and thanked him for his _honourable, upright, and
impartial_ conduct, whereupon all Egan's friends took off their hats
also, and made profound bows to the functionary, and then laughed most
uproariously. Counter laughs were returned from the opposite party, who
begged to remind the Eganites of the old saying, "that they might laugh
who win." A cross-fire of sarcasms was kept up amidst the two parties as
they were crushing forward out of the courthouse; and at the door, before
entering his carriage, Scatterbrain very politely addressed Egan, and
trusted that, though they had met as rivals on the hustings, they
nevertheless parted friends, and expressing the highest respect for the
squire, offered his hand in amity.
Egan, equally good-hearted as his opponent, shook his hand cordially;
declaring he attributed to him none of the blame which attached to other
persons. "Besides, my dear sir," said Egan, laughing, "I should be a very
ill-natured person to grudge you so small an indulgence as being member of
parliament _for a month or so_."
Scatterbrain returned the laugh, good-humouredly, and replied that, "at
all events, he _had_ the seat."
"Yes, my dear sir," said Egan, "and make the most of it _while_ you
have it. In short, I shall owe you an obligation when I go over to St.
Stephen's, for you will have just _aired my seat_ for me--good bye."
They parted with smiles, and drove to their respective homes; but as even
doubtful possession is preferable to expectation for the time being, it is
certain that Neck-or-Nothing Hall rang with more merriment that night on
the reality of the present, than Merryvale did on the hope of the future.
Even O'Grady, as he lay with his wounded arm on the sofa, found more
healing in the triumph of the hour than from all the medicaments of the
foregoing week, and insisted on going down-stairs and joining the party at
"Gusty, dear," said his wife, "you know the doctor said--"
"Hang the doctor!"
"Your arm, my love."
"I wish you'd leave off pitying my arm, and have some compassion on my
"The doctor said--"
"There are oysters in the house; I'll do myself more good by the use of an
oyster-knife than all the lancets in the College of Surgeons."
"But your wound, dear?"
"Are they Carlingfords or Poldoodies?"
"So fresh, love."
"So much the better."
"Your wound I mean, dear?"
"Only dressed an hour ago?"
"With some mustard, pepper, and vinegar."
"Indeed, Gusty, if you take my advice--"
"I'd rather have oysters any day."
O'Grady sat up on the sofa as he spoke and requested his wife to say no
more about the matter, but put on his cravat. While she was getting it
from his wardrobe, his mind wandered from supper to the pension, which he
looked upon as secure now that Scatterbrain was returned; and oyster-banks
gave place to the Bank of Ireland, which rose in a pleasing image before
O'Grady's imagination. The wife now returned with the cravat, still
dreading the result of eating to her husband, and her mind occupied wholly
with the thought of supper, while O'Grady was wrapt in visions of a
"You won't take it, Gusty, dear," said his wife with all the insinuation
of manner she could command.
"Won't I, 'faith?" said O'Grady. "Maybe you think I don't want it?"
"Indeed, I don't, dear."
"Are you mad, woman? Is it taking leave of the few senses you ever had you
"'T won't agree with you."
"Won't it? just wait till I'm tried."
"Well, love, how much do you expect to be allowed?"
"Why I can't expect much just yet--we must begin gently--feel the pulse
first; but I should hope, by way of start, that six or seven hundred--"
"Gracious Heaven!" exclaimed his wife, dropping the cravat from her hands.
"What the devil is the woman shouting at?" said O'Grady.
"Six or seven hundred!!!" exclaimed Mrs. O'Grady; "my dear, there's not as
much in the house."
"No, nor has not been for many a long day; I know that as well as you,"
said O'Grady; "but I hope we shall get as much for all that."
"My dear, where could you get them?" asked the wife, timidly, who began to
think his head was a little light.
"From the treasury, to be sure."
"The treasury, my dear?" said the wife, still at fault; "how could you get
oysters from the treasury?"
"Oysters!" exclaimed O'Grady, whose turn it was now to wonder, "who talks
"My dear, I thought you said you'd eat six or seven hundred of oysters!"
"Pooh! pooh! woman; it is of the pension I'm talking--six or seven hundred
pounds--pounds--cash--per annum; now I suppose you'll put on my cravat. I
think a man may be allowed to eat his supper who expects six hundred a
A great many people besides O'Grady order suppers, and dinners too, on the
expectation of less than six hundred a year. Perhaps there is no more
active agent for sending people into the Insolvent Court than the
O'Grady went down-stairs, and was heartily welcomed by Scatterbrain on his
re-appearance from his sick-room; but Mrs. O'Grady suggested that, for
fear any excess would send him back there for a longer time, a very
moderate indulgence at the table should suffice. She begged the honourable
member to back her argument, which he did; and O'Grady promised
temperance, but begged the immediate appearance of the oysters, for he
experienced that eager desire which delicate health so often prompts for
some particular food.
Andy was laying the table at the time, and was ordered to expedite matters
as much as possible.
"You're sure the oysters are all good, Andy?"
"Because the last oysters you know--"
"Oh, yis, ma'am--were bad, ma'am--bekase they had their mouths all open. I
remember, ma'am; but when I'm towld a thing once, I never forget it again;
and you towld me when they opened their mouths once they were no good. So
you see, ma'am, I'll never bring up bad oysthers again, ma'am."
"Very good, Andy; and you have kept them in a cool place, I hope."
"Faix, they're cowld enough where I put them, ma'am."
"Very well; bring them up at once."
Off went Andy, and returned with all the haste he could with a large dish
heaped up with oysters.
O'Grady rubbed his hands with the impatience of a true lover of the
crustaceous delicacy, and Scatterbrain, eager to help him, flourished his
oyster-knife; but before he had time to commence operations the olfactory
nerves of the company gave evidence that the oysters were rather
suspicious; every one began sniffing, and a universal "Oh dear!" ran round
"Don't you smell it, Furlong?" said Scatterbrain, who was so lost in
looking at Augusta's mustachios that he did not mind anything else.
"Isn't it horrid?" said O'Grady, with a look of disgust.
Furlong thought he alluded to the mustachio, and replied with an assurance
that he "liked it of all things."
"Like it?" said O'Grady; "you've a queer taste. What do _you_ think
of it, miss?" added he to Augusta, "it's just under your nose." Furlong
thought this rather personal, even from a father.
"I'll try my knife on one," said Scatterbrain, with a flourish of the
oyster-knife, which Furlong thought resembled the preliminary trial of a
Furlong thought this worse than O'Grady; but he hesitated to reply to his
chief, and an _honourable_ into the bargain.
In the meantime, Scatterbrain opened an oyster, which Furlong, in his
embarrassment and annoyance, did not perceive.
"Cut off the beard," said O'Grady, "I don't like it."
This nearly made Furlong speak, but, considering O'Grady's temper and
ill-health, he hesitated, till he saw Augusta rubbing her eye, in
consequence of a small splinter of the oyster-shell having struck it from
Scatterbrain's mismanagement of his knife; but Furlong thought she was
crying, and then he could be silent no longer; he went over to where she
sat, and with a very affectionate demonstration in his action, said,
"Never mind them, dear Gussy--never mind--don't cwy--I love her dear
little moustachios, I do." He gave a gentle pat on the back of the neck as
he spoke, and it was returned by an uncommonly smart box on the ear from
the young lady, and the whole party looked thunderstruck. "Dear Gussy"
cried for spite, and stamped her way out of the room, followed by Furlong.
"Let them go," said O'Grady; "they'll make it up outside."
"These oysters are all bad," said Scatterbrain.
O'Grady began to swear at his disappointment--he had set his heart on
oysters. Mrs. O'Grady rang the bell--Andy appeared.
"How dare you bring up such oysters as these?" roared O'Grady.
"The misthris ordhered them, sir."
"I told you never to bring up bad oysters," said she.
"Them's not bad, ma'am," said Andy,
"Have you a nose?" says O'Grady.
"And can't you smell them, then?"
"Faix, I smelt them for the last three days, sir."
"And how could you say they were good, then?" asked his mistress.
"Sure you tould me, ma'am, that if they didn't open their mouths they were
good, and I'll be on my book oath them oysters never opened their mouths
since I had them, for I laid them on a coolflag in the kitchen and put the
jack-weight over them."
Notwithstanding O'Grady's rage, Scatterbrain could not help roaring with
laughter at Andy's novel contrivance for keeping oysters fresh. Andy was
desired to take the "ancient and fish-like smell" out of the room, amidst
jeers and abuse; and, as he fumbled his way to the kitchen in the dark,
lamenting the hard fate of servants, who can never give satisfaction,
though they do everything they are bid, he went head over heels
down-stairs, which event was reported to the whole house as soon as it
happened, by the enormous clatter of the broken dish, the oysters, and
Andy, as they all rolled one over the other to the bottom.
O'Grady, having missed the cool supper he intended, and had longed for,
was put into a rage by the disappointment; and as hunger with O'Grady was
only to be appeased by broiled bones, accordingly, against all the
endeavours of everybody, the bells rang violently through the house, and
the ogre-like cry of "broiled bones!" resounded high and low.
The reader is sufficiently well acquainted with O'Grady by this time to
know, that of course, when once he had determined to have his broiled
bone, nothing on the face of the earth could prevent it but the want of
anything to broil, or the immediate want of his teeth; and as his
masticators were in order, and something in the house which could carry
mustard and pepper, the invalid primed and loaded himself with as much
combustible matter as exploded in a fever the next day.
The supper-party, however, in the hope of getting him to bed, separated
soon; and as Scatterbrain and Furlong were to start early in the morning
for Dublin, the necessity of their retiring to rest was pleaded. The
honourable member had not been long in his room when he heard a tap at his
door, and his order to "come in" was followed by the appearance of Handy
"I found somethin' on the road nigh the town to-day, sir, and I thought it
might be yours, maybe," said Andy, producing a small pocket-book.
The honourable member disavowed the ownership.
"Well, there's something else I want to speak to your honour about."
"What is it, Handy?"
"I want your honour to see the account of the money your honour gave me
that I spint at the _shebeen_ [Footnote: Low publick house.] upon the
'lecthors that couldn't be accommodated at Mrs. Fay's."
"Oh! never mind it, Andy; if there's anything over, keep it yourself."
"Thank your honour, but I must make the account all the same, if you
plaze, for I'm going to Father Blake, to my duty, [Footnote: Confession.]
soon, and I must have my conscience as clear as I can, and I wouldn't like
to be keeping money back."
"But if I give you the money, what matter?"
"I'd rather you'd just look over this little bit of a count, if you
plaze," said Andy, producing a dirty piece of paper, with some nearly
inscrutable hieroglyphics upon it. Scatterbrain commenced an examination
of this literary phenomenon from sheer curiosity, asking Andy at the same
time if _he_ wrote it.
"Yis, sir," said Andy; "but you see the man couldn't keep the count of the
piper's dhrink at all, it was so confusin', and so I was obliged to pay
him for that every time the piper dhrunk, and keep it separate, and the
'lecthors that got their dinner afther the bill was made out I put down
myself too, and that's it you see, sir, both ating and dhrinkin'."
To Dhrinkin A blind piper everry day
wan and in Pens six dais 0 16 6
To atein four Tin Illikthurs And Thare 1 8 8
horses on Chewsdai 0 14 0
Toe til 2 19 4
Lan lord Bil For All Be four 7 17 8-1/2
10 18 12-1/2
"Then I owe you money, instead of your having a balance in hand, Andy,"
said the member.
"Oh, no matter, your honour; it's not for that I showed you the account."
"It's very like it, though," said Scatterbrain, laughing; "here, Andy,
here are a couple of pounds for you, take them, Andy--take it and be off;
your bill is worth the money," and Scatterbrain closed the door on the
Andy next went to Furlong's room, to know if the pocket-book belonged to
him; it did not, but Furlong, though he disclaimed the ownership, had that
small curiosity which prompts little minds to pry into what does not
belong to them, and taking the pocket-book into his hands, he opened it,
and fumbled over its leaves; in the doing of which a small piece of folded
paper fell from one of the pockets unnoticed by the impertinent inquisitor
or Andy, to whom he returned the book when he had gratified his senseless
curiosity. Andy withdrew, Furlong retired to rest; and as it was in the
grey of an autumnal morning he dressed himself, the paper still remained
unobserved: so that the housemaid, on setting the room to rights, found
it, and fancying Miss Augusta was the proper person to confide Mr.
Furlong's stray papers to, she handed that young lady the manuscript which
bore the following copy of verses:--
I CAN NE'ER FORGET THEE
It is the chime, the hour draws near
When you and I must sever;
Alas, it must be many a year,
And it _may_ be for ever!
How long till we shall meet again!
How short since first I met thee!
How brief the bliss--how long the pain--
For I can ne'er forget thee.
You said my heart was cold and stern;
You doubted love when strongest:
In future days you'll live to learn
Proud hearts can love the longest.
Oh! sometimes think, when press'd to hear,
When flippant tongues beset thee,
That _all_ must love thee, when thou'rt near,
But _one_ will ne'er forget thee!
The changeful sand doth only know
The shallow tide and latest;
The rocks have mark'd its highest flow,
The deepest and the greatest;
And deeper still the flood-marks grow:--
So, since the hour I met thee,
The more the tide of time doth flow,
The less can I forget thee!
When Augusta saw the lines, she was charmed. She discovered her Furlong to
be a poet! That the lines were his there was no doubt--they were _found
in his room,_ and of course they _must_ be his, just as partial
critics say certain Irish airs must be English, because they are to be
found in Queen Elizabeth's music-book.
Augusta was so charmed with the lines that she amused herself for a long
time in hiding them under the sofa-cushion and making her pet dog find and
fetch them. Her pleasure, however, was interrupted by her sister Charlotte
remarking, when the lines were shown to her in triumph, that the writing
was not Furlong's, but in a lady's hand.
Even as beer is suddenly soured by thunder, so the electric influence of
Charlotte's words converted all Augusta had been brewing to acidity;
jealousy stung her like a wasp, and she boxed her dog's ears as he was
barking for another run with the verses.
"A _lady's_ hand?" said Augusta, snatching the paper from her sister;
"I declare if it ain't! the wretch--so he receives lines from ladies."
"I think I know the hand, too," said Charlotte.
"You do?" exclaimed Augusta, with flashing eyes.
"Yes, I'm certain it is Fanny Dawson's writing."
"So it is," said Augusta, looking at the paper as if her eyes could have
burnt it; "to be sure--he was there before he came here."
"Only for two days," said Charlotte, trying to slake the flame she had
"But I've heard that girl always makes conquests at first sight," returned
Augusta, half crying; "and what do I see here? some words in pencil."
The words were so faint as to be scarcely perceptible, but Augusta
deciphered them; they were written on the margin, beside a circumflex
which embraced the last four lines of the second verse, so that it stood
[Sidenote: Dearest, I will.]
Oh! sometimes think, when press'd to hear,
When flippant tongues beset thee,
That _all_ must love thee when thou'rt near,
But _one_ will ne'er forget thee!
"Will you, indeed?" said Augusta, crushing the paper in her hand, and
biting it; "but I must not destroy it--I must keep it to prove his
treachery to his face." She threw herself on the sofa as she spoke, and
gave vent to an outpour of spiteful tears.
How many chapters have been written about love verses--and how many more
might be written!--might, would, could, should, or ought to be written!--
I will venture to say, _will_ be written! I have a mind to fulfil my
own prophecy and write one myself; but no--my story must go on. However, I
_will_ say, that it is quite curious in how many ways the same little
bit of paper may influence different people: the poem whose literary merit
may be small becomes precious when some valued hand has transcribed the
lines; and the verses whose measure and meaning viewed in type might win
favour and yield pleasure, shoot poison from their very sweetness, when
read in some particular hand and under particular circumstances. It was so
with the copy of verses Augusta had just read--they were Fanny Dawson's
manuscript--that was certain--and found in the room of Augusta's lover;
therefore Augusta was wretched. But these same lines had given exquisite
pleasure to another person, who was now nearly as miserable as Augusta in
having lost them. It is possible the reader guesses that person to be
Edward O'Connor, for it was he who had lost the pocket-book in which those
(to him) precious lines were contained; and if the little case had held
all the bank-notes he ever owned in his life, their loss would have been
regarded less than that bit of manuscript, which had often yielded
_him_ the most exquisite pleasure, and was now inflicting on Augusta
the bitterest anguish. To make this intelligible to the reader, it is
necessary to explain under what circumstances the lines were written. At
one time, Edward, doubting the likelihood of making his way at home, was
about to go to India and push his fortunes there; and at that period,
those lines, breathing of farewell--implying the dread of rivals during
absence--and imploring remembrance of his eternal love, were written and
given to Fanny; and she, with that delicacy of contrivance so peculiarly a
woman's, hit upon the expedient of copying his own verses and sending them
to him in her writing, as an indication that the spirit of the lines was
But Edward saw that his father, who was advanced in years, looked upon a
separation from his son as an eternal one, and the thought gave so much
pain, that Edward gave up the idea of expatriation. Shortly after,
however, the misunderstanding with Major Dawson took place, and Fanny and
Edward were as much severed as if dwelling in different zones. Under such
circumstances, those lines were peculiarly precious, and many a kiss had
Edward impressed upon them, though Augusta thought them fitter for the
exercise of her teeth than her lips. In fact, Edward did little else than
think of Fanny; and it is possible his passion might have degenerated into
mere love-sickness, and enfeebled him, had not his desire of proving
himself worthy of his mistress spurred him to exertion, in the hope of
future distinction. But still the tone of tender lament pervaded all his
poems, and the same pocket-book whence the verses which caused so much
commotion fell contained the following also, showing how entirely Fanny
possessed his heart and occupied his thoughts:--
WHEN THE SUN SINKS TO REST
When the sun sinks to rest,
And the star of the west
Sheds its soft silver light o'er the sea;
What sweet thoughts arise,
As the dim twilight dies--
For then I am thinking of thee!
Oh! then crowding fast
Come the joys of the past,
Through the dimness of days long gone by,
Like the stars peeping out,
Through the darkness about,
From the soft silent depth of the sky.
And thus, as the night
Grows more lovely and bright
With the clust'ring of planet and star,
So this darkness of mine
Wins a radiance divine
From the light that still lingers afar.
Then welcome the night,
With its soft holy light!
In its silence my heart is more free
The rude world to forget,
Where no pleasure I've met
Since the hour that I parted from thee.
But we must leave love verses, and ask pardon for the few remarks which
the subject tempted, and pursue our story.
The first prompting of Augusta's anger, when she had recovered her burst
of passion, was to write "_such a letter_" to Furlong--and she spent
half a day at the work; but she could not please herself--she tore twenty
at least, and determined, at last, not to write at all, but just wait till
he returned and overwhelm him with reproaches. But, though she could not
compose a letter, she composed herself by the endeavour, which acted as a
sort of safety-valve to let off the superabundant steam; and it is
wonderful how general is this result of sitting down to write angry
letters: people vent themselves of their spleen on the uncomplaining
paper, which silently receives words a listener would not. With a pen for
our second, desperate satisfaction is obtained with only an effusion of
ink, and when once the pent-up bitterness has oozed out in all the