Part 4 out of 6
flinty path. As they approached the top of the hill, the force of the
storm became more apparent; and on reaching its crest, the fierce pelting
of the mingled rain and hail made the horse impatient of the storm of
which his rider was heedless--almost unconscious. The spent animal with
short snortings betokened his labour, and shook his head passionately as
the fierce hail-shower struck him in the eyes and nostrils. Still,
however, was he urged downward, but he was no longer safe. Quite blown,
and pressed over a rough descent, the generous creature, that would die
rather than refuse, made a false step, and came heavily to the ground.
Edward was stunned by the fall, though not seriously hurt; and, after the
lapse of a few seconds, recovered his feet, but found the horse still
prostrate. Taking the animal by the head, he assisted him to rise, which
he was not enabled to do till after several efforts; and when he
regained his legs, it was manifest he was seriously lamed; and as
he limped along with difficulty beside his master, who led him gently,
it became evident that it was beyond the animal's power to reach
his own stable that night. Edward for the first time was now aware
of how much he had punished his horse; he felt ashamed of using the
noble brute with such severity, and became conscious that he had
been acting under something little short of frenzy. The consciousness
at once tended to restore him somewhat to himself, and he began to
look around on every side in search of some house where he could
find rest and shelter for his disabled horse. As he proceeded thus,
the care necessarily bestowed on his dumb companion partially called off
his thoughts from the painful theme with which they had been exclusively
occupied, and the effect was most beneficial. The first violent burst of
feeling was past, and a calmer train of thought succeeded; he for the
first time remembered the boy had forgiven him, and that was a great
consolation to him; he recalled, too, his own words, pledging to Gustavus
his friendship, and in this pleasing hope of the future he saw much to
redeem what he regretted of the past. Still, however, the wild flare of
the pine-torch over the lone grave of his adversary, and the horrid answer
of the grave-digger, that he was but "finishing _his_ work," would
recur to his memory and awake an internal pang.
From this painful reminiscence he sought to escape, by looking forward to
all he would do for Gustavus, and had become much calmer, when the glimmer
of a light not far ahead attracted him, and he soon was enabled to
perceive it proceeded from some buildings that lay on his right, not far
from the road. He turned up the rough path which formed the approach, and
the light escaped through the chinks of a large door which indicated the
place to be a coach-house, or some such office, belonging to the general
pile which seemed in a ruinous condition.
As he approached, Edward heard rude sounds of merriment, amongst which the
joining of many voices in a "ree-raw" chorus indicated that a carouse was
going forward within.
On reaching the door he could perceive through a wide chink a group of men
sitting round a turf fire piled at the far end of the building, which had
no fire-place, and the smoke, curling upwards to the roof, wreathed the
rafters in smoke; beneath this vapoury canopy the party sat drinking and
singing, and Edward, ere he knocked for admittance, listened to the
following strange refrain:--
_"For my name it is Jimmy Barlow,
I was born in the town of Carlow,
And here I lie in Maryborough jail,
All for the robbing of the Wicklow mail.
Fol de rol de riddle-iddle-ido!"_
Then the principal singer took up the song, which seemed to be one of
robbery, blood, and murder, for it ran thus:--
"Then he cocked his pistol gaily,
And stood before him bravely,
Smoke and fire is my desire,
So blaze away, my game-cock squire.
_For my name it is Jimmy Barlow,
I was born &c._"
Edward O'Connor knocked at the door loudly; the words he had just heard
about "pistols," "blazing away," and, last of all, "_squire_" fell
gratingly on his ear at that moment, and seemed strangely to connect
themselves with the previous adventures of the night and his own sad
thoughts, and he beat against the door with violence.
The chorus ceased; Edward repeated his knocking. Still there was
no answer; but he heard low and hurried muttering inside. Determined,
however, to gain admittance, Edward laid hold of an iron hasp outside
the door, which enabled him to shake the gate with violence, that
there might be no excuse on the part of the inmates that they did not
hear; but in thus making the old door rattle in its frame, it suddenly
yielded to his touch and creaked open on its rusty hinges; for when Larry
Hogan had entered, it had been forgotten to be barred.
As Edward stood in the open doorway, the first object which met his eye
was the coffin--and it is impossible to say how much at that moment the
sight shocked him; he shuddered involuntarily, yet could not withdraw his
eyes from the revolting object; and the pallor with which his previous
mental anxiety had invested his cheek increased as he looked on this last
tenement of mortality. "Am I to see nothing but the evidences of death's
doing this night?" was the mental question which shot through Edward's
over-wrought brain, and he grew livid at the thought. He looked more like
one raised from the grave than a living being, and a wild glare in his
eyes rendered his appearance still more unearthly. He felt that shame
which men always experience in allowing their feelings to overcome them;
and by a great effort he mastered his emotion and spoke, but the voice
partook of the strong nervous excitement under which he laboured, and was
hollow and broken, and seemed more like that which one might fancy to
proceed from the jaws of a sepulchre than one of flesh and blood. Beaten
by the storm, too, his hair hung in wet flakes over his face and added to
his wild appearance, so that the men all started up at the first glimpse
they caught of him, and huddled themselves together in the farthest corner
of the building, from whence they eyed him with evident alarm.
Edward thought some whisky might check the feeling of faintness which
overcame him; and though he deemed it probable he had broken in upon
the nocturnal revel of desperate and lawless men, he nevertheless
asked them to give him some; but instead of displaying that alacrity
so universal in Ireland, of sharing the "creature" with a new-comer,
the men only pointed to the bottle which stood beside the fire, and
drew closer together.
Edward's desire for the stimulant was so great, that he scarcely noticed
the singular want of courtesy on the part of the men; and seizing the
bottle (for there was no glass), he put it to his lips, and quaffed a
hearty dram of the spirit before he spoke.
"I must ask for shelter and assistance here," said Edward. "My horse, I
fear, has slipped his shoulder--"
Before he could utter another word, a simultaneous roar of terror burst
from the group; they fancied the ghost of Jimmy Barlow was before them,
and made a simultaneous rush from the barn; and when they saw the horse at
the door, another yell escaped them, as they fled with increased speed and
terror. Edward stood in amazement as the men rushed from his presence; he
followed to the gate to recall them; they were gone; he could only hear
their yells in the distance. The circumstance seemed quite unaccountable;
and as he stood lost in vain surmises as to the cause of the strange
occurrence, a low neigh of recognition from the horse reminded him of the
animal's wants, and he led him into the barn, where, from the plenty of
straw which lay around, he shook down a litter where the maimed animal
He then paced up and down the barn, lost in wonder at the conduct
of those whom he found there, and whom his presence had so suddenly
expelled; and ever as he walked towards the fire, the coffin caught
his eye. As a fitful blaze occasionally arose, it flashed upon the
plate, which brightly reflected the flame, and Edward was irresistibly
drawn, despite his original impression of horror at the object, to
approach and read the inscription. The shield bore the name of "O'Grady,"
and Edward recoiled from the coffin with a shudder, and inwardly
asked, was he in his waking senses? He had but an hour ago seen his
adversary laid in his grave, yet here was his coffin again before him,
as if to harrow up his soul anew. Was it real, or a mockery? Was he the
sport of a dream, or was there some dreadful curse fallen upon him that he
should be for ever haunted by the victim of his arm, and the call of
vengeance for blood be ever upon his track? He breathed short and hard,
and the smoky atmosphere in which he was enveloped rendered respiration
still more difficult. As through this oppressive vapour, which seemed only
fit for the nether world, he saw the coffin-plate flash back the flame,
his imagination accumulated horror on horror; and when the blaze sank, and
but the bright red of the fire was reflected, it seemed to him to burn, as
it were, with a spot of blood, and he could support the scene no longer,
but rushed from the barn in a state of mind bordering on frenzy.
It was about an hour afterwards, near midnight, that the old barn was in
flames; most likely some of the straw near the fire, in the confusion of
the breaking up of the party, had been scattered within range of ignition,
and caused the accident. The flames were seen for miles round the country,
and the shattered walls of the ruined mansion-house were illuminated
brightly by the glare of the consuming barn, which in the morning added
its own blackened and reeking ruin to the desolation, and crowds of
persons congregated to the spot for many days after. The charred planks of
the coffin were dragged from amongst the ruin; and as the roof in falling
in had dragged a large portion of the wall along with it, the stones which
had filled the coffin could not be distinguished from those of the fallen
building, therefore much wonder arose that no vestige of the bones
of the corpse it was supposed to contain should be discovered. Wonder
increased to horror as the strange fact was promulgated, and in the
ready credulity of a superstitious people, the terrible belief became
general, that his sable majesty had made off with O'Grady and the
party watching him; for as the Dublin bailiffs never stopped till
they got back to town, and were never seen again in the country,
it was most natural to suppose that the devil had made a haul of
_them_ at the same time. In a few days rumour added the spectral
appearance of Jim Barlow to the tale, which only deepened its mysterious
horror; and though, after some time, the true story was promulgated
by those who knew the real state of the case, yet the truth never
gained ground, and was considered but a clever sham, attempted by
the family to prevent so dreadful a story from attaching to their
house; and tradition perpetuates to this hour the belief that _the
devil flew away with O'Grady._
Lone and shunned as the hill was where the ruined house stood, it became
more lone and shunned than ever, and the boldest heart in the whole
country-side would quail to be in its vicinity, even in the day-time. To
such a pitch the panic rose, that an extensive farm which encircled it,
and belonged to the old usurer who made the seizure, fell into a
profitless state from the impossibility of men being found to work upon
it. It was useless even as pasture, for no one could be found to herd
cattle upon it; altogether it was a serious loss to the money-grubber; and
so far the incident of the burnt barn, and the tradition it gave rise to,
acted beneficially in making the inhuman act of warring with the dead
recoil upon the merciless old usurer.
We left Andy in what may be called a delicate situation, and though Andy's
perceptions of the refined were not very acute, he himself began to wonder
how he should get out of the dilemma into which circumstances had thrown
him; and even to his dull comprehension various terminations to his
adventure suggested themselves, till he became quite confused in the chaos
which his own thoughts created. One good idea, however, Andy contrived to
lay hold of out of the bundle which perplexed him; he felt that to gain
time would be an advantage, and if evil must come of his adventure, the
longer he could keep it off the better; so he kept up his affectation of
timidity, and put in his sobs and lamentations, like so many commas and
colons, as it were, to prevent Bridget from arriving at her climax of
going to bed.
Bridget insisted bed was the finest thing in the world for a young woman
in distress of mind.
Andy protested he never could get a wink of sleep when his mind was
uneasy. Bridget promised the most sisterly tenderness.
Andy answered by a lament for his mother.
"Come to bed, I tell you," said Bridget.
"Are the sheets aired?" sobbed Andy.
"What!" exclaimed Bridget, in amazement.
"If you are not sure of the sheets bein' aired," said Andy, "I'd be afeard
of catchin' cowld."
"Sheets, indeed!" said Bridget; "'faith, it's a dainty lady you are, if
you can't sleep without sheets."
"What!" returned Andy, "no sheets?"
"Divil a sheet."
"Oh, mother, mother!" exclaimed Andy, "what would you say to your innocent
child being tuk away to a place where there was no sheets?"
"Well, I never heerd the like!" says Bridget.
"Oh, the villains! to bring me where I wouldn't have a bit o' clane linen
to lie in!"
"Sure, there's blankets, I tell you."
"Oh, don't talk to me!" roared Andy; "sure, you know, sheets is only
"Bother, girl! Isn't a snug woolly blanket a fine thing?"
"Oh, don't brake my heart that-a-way!" sobbed Andy; "sure, there's wool on
any dirty sheep's back, but linen is dacency! Oh, mother, mother, if you
thought your poor girl was without a sheet this night!"
And so Andy went on, spinning his bit of "linen manufacture" as long as he
could, and raising Bridget's wonder that, instead of the lament which
abducted ladies generally raise about their "vartue," this young woman's
principal complaint arose on the scarcity of flax. Bridget appealed to
common sense if blankets were not good enough in these bad times;
insisting, moreover, that, as "love was warmer than friendship, so wool
was warmer than flax," the beauty of which parallel case nevertheless
failed to reconcile the disconsolate abducted. Now Andy had pushed his
plea of the want of linen as far as he thought it would go, and when
Bridget returned to the charge, and reiterated the oft-repeated "Come to
bed, I tell you!" Andy had recourse to twiddling about his toes, and
chattering his teeth, and exclaimed in a tremulous voice, "Oh, I've a
thrimblin' all over me!"
"Loosen the sthrings o' you, then," said Bridget, about to suit the action
to the word. "Ow! ow!" cried Andy, "don't touch me--I'm ticklish."
"Then open the throat o' your gown yourself, dear," said Bridget.
"I've a cowld on my chest, and darn't," said Andy; "but I think a dhrop of
hot punch would do me good if I had it."
"And plenty of it," said Bridget, "if that'll plaze you." She rose as she
spoke, and set about getting "the materials" for making punch.
Andy hoped, by means of this last idea, to drink Bridget into a state of
unconsciousness, and then make his escape; but he had no notion, until he
tried, what a capacity the gentle Bridget had for carrying tumblers of
punch steadily; he proceeded as cunningly as possible, and, on the score
of "the thrimblin' over him," repeated the doses of punch, which,
nevertheless, he protested he couldn't touch, unless Bridget kept him in
countenance, glass for glass; and Bridget--genial soul--was no way both;
for living in a still, and among smugglers, as she did, it was not a
trifle of stingo could bring her to a halt. Andy, even with the advantage
of the stronger organisation of a man, found this mountain lass nearly a
match for him, and before the potations operated as he hoped upon her, his
own senses began to feel the influence of the liquor, and his caution
became considerably undermined.
Still, however, he resisted the repeated offers of the couch proposed to
him, declaring he would sleep in his clothes, and leave to Bridget the
full possession of her lair.
The fire began to burn low, and Andy thought he might facilitate his
escape by counterfeiting sleep; so feigning slumber as well as he could,
he seemed to sink into insensibility, and Bridget unrobed herself and
retired behind a rough screen.
It was by a great effort that Andy kept himself awake, for his potations,
added to his nocturnal excursion, tended towards somnolency; but
the desire of escape, and fear of a discovery and its consequences,
prevailed over the ordinary tendency of nature, and he remained awake,
watching every sound. The silence at last became painful--so still
was it, that he could hear the small crumbling sound of the dying
embers as they decomposed and shifted their position on the hearth, and
yet he could not be satisfied from the breathing of the woman that she
slept. After the lapse of half an hour, however, he ventured to make some
movement. He had well observed the quarter in which the outlet from the
cave lay, and there was still a faint glimmer from the fire to assist him
in crawling towards the trap. It was a relief when, after some minutes of
cautious creeping, he felt the fresh air breathing from above, and a
moment or two more brought him in contact with the ladder. With the
stealth of a cat he began to climb the rungs--he could hear the men
snoring on the outside of the cave: step by step as he arose he felt his
heart beat faster at the thought of escape, and became more cautious. At
length his head emerged from the cave, and he saw the men lying about its
mouth; they lay close around it--he must step over them to escape--the
chance is fearful, but he determines to attempt it--he ascends still
higher--his foot is on the last rung of the ladder--the next step puts him
on the heather--when he feels a hand lay hold of him from below!
His heart died within him at the touch, and he could not resist an
"Who's that?" exclaimed one of the men outside. Andy crouched.
"Come down," said the voice softly from below; "if Jack sees you, it will
be worse for you."
It was the voice of Bridget, and Andy felt it was better to be with her
than exposed to the savagery of Shan More and his myrmidons; so he
descended quietly, and gave himself up to the tight hold of Bridget, who,
with many asseverations that "out of her arms she would not let the
prisoner go till morning," led him back to the cave.
"Great wit to madness nearly is allied,
And thin partitions do the bounds divide."
So sings the poet; but whether the wit be great or little, the "thin
partition" separating madness from sanity is equally mysterious. It is
true that the excitability attendant upon genius approximates so closely
to madness, that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them;
but, without the attendant "genius" to hold up the train of madness, and
call for our special permission and respect in any of its fantastic
excursions, the most ordinary crack-brain sometimes chooses to sport in
the regions of sanity, and, without the license which genius is supposed
to dispense to her children, poach over the preserves of common sense.
This is a well-known fact, and would not be reiterated here, but that the
circumstances about to be recorded hereafter might seem unworthy of
belief; and as the veracity of our history we would not have for one
moment questioned, we have ventured to jog the memory of our readers as to
the close neighbourhood of madness and common sense, before we record a
curious instance of intermitting madness in the old dowager O'Grady.
Her son's death had, by the violence of the shock, dragged her from the
region of fiction in which she habitually existed; but after the funeral
she relapsed into all her strange aberration, and her bird-clock and her
chimney-pot head-dress were once more in requisition.
The old lady had her usual attendance from her granddaughter, and
the customary offering of flowers was rendered, but they were not
so cared for as before, and Charlotte was dismissed sooner than usual
from her morning's attendance, and a new favourite received in her
place. And "of all the birds in the air," who should this favourite be
but Master Ratty. Yes!--Ratty--the caricaturist of his grandmamma, was,
"for the nonce," her closeted companion. Many a guess was given as to
"what in the world" grandmamma _could_ want with Ratty; but the
secret was kept between them, for this reason, that the old lady kept
_the reward she promised_ Ratty for preserving it in her own hands,
until the duty she required on his part should be accomplished, and the
shilling a day to which Ratty looked forward kept him faithful.
Now the duty Master Ratty had to perform was instructing his grandmamma
how to handle a pistol; the bringing up quick to the mark, and levelling
by "the sight," was explained; but a difficulty arose in the old lady's
shutting her left eye, which Ratty declared to be indispensable, and for
some time Ratty was obliged to stand on a chair and cover his grandmamma's
eye with his hand while she took aim; this was found inconvenient,
however, and the old lady substituted a black silk shade to obfuscate her
sinister luminary in her exercises, which now advanced to snapping the
lock, and knocking sparks from the flint, which made the old lady wink
with her right eye. When this second habit was overcome, the "dry"
practice, that is, without powder, was given up; and a "flash in the pan"
was ventured upon, but this made her shut both eyes together, and it was
some time before she could prevail on herself to hold her eye fixed on her
mark, and pull the trigger. This, however, at last was accomplished, and
when she had conquered the fear of seeing the flash, she adopted the plan
of standing before a handsome old-fashioned looking-glass which reached
from the ceiling to the floor, and levelling the pistol at her own
reflection within it, as if she were engaged in mortal combat; and
every time she snapped and burned priming she would exclaim, "I hit
him that time!--I know I can kill him--_tremble, villain_!"
As long as this pistol practice had the charm of novelty for Ratty, it was
all very well; but when, day by day, the strange mistakes and nervousness
of his grandmamma became less piquant from repetition, it was not such
good fun; and when the rantipole boy, after as much time as he wished to
devote to the old woman's caprice, endeavoured to emancipate himself and
was countermanded, an outburst of _"Oh, bother!"_ would take place,
till the grandmother called up the prospective shillings to his view, and
Ratty bowed before the altar of Mammon. But even Mammon failed to keep
Ratty loyal; for that heathen god, Momus, claimed a superior allegiance;
Ratty worshipped the "cap and bells" as the true crown, and "the bauble"
as the sovereign sceptre. Besides, the secret became troublesome to him,
and he determined to let the whole house know what "gran" and he were
about, in a way of his own.
The young imp, in the next day's practice, worked up the grandmamma to a
state of great excitement, urging her to take a cool and determined aim at
the looking-glass. "Cover him well, gran," said Ratty.
"I will," said the dowager, resolutely.
"You ought to be able to hit him at six paces."
"I stand at twelve paces."
"No--you are only six from the looking-glass."
"But the reflection, child, in the mirror, doubles the distance."
"Bother!" said Ratty. "Here, take the pistol--mind your eye and don't
"Ratty, you are singularly obtuse to the charms of science."
"What's science?" said Ratty.
"Science, child, is knowledge of a lofty and abstruse nature, developing
itself in wonderful inventions--gunpowder, for instance, is made by
"Indeed it is not," said Ratty; "I never saw his name on a canister.
Pigou, Andrew, and Wilks, or Mister Dartford Mills, are the men for
gunpowder. You know nothing about it, gran."
"Ratty, you are disrespectful, and will not listen to instruction. I knew
Kirwan--the great Kirwan, the chemist, who always wore his hat--"
"Then he knew chemistry better than manners."
"Ratty, you are very troublesome. I desire you listen, sir. Kirwan, sir,
told me all about science, and the Dublin Society have his picture, with a
bottle in his hand--"
"Then he was fond of drink," said Ratty.
"Ratty, don't be pert. To come back to what I was originally saying--I
repeat, sir, I am at twelve paces from my object, six from the mirror,
which, doubled by reflection, makes twelve; such is the law of optics. I
suppose you know what optics are?"
"To be sure I do."
"Tell me, then."
"Our eyes," said Ratty.
"Eyes!" exclaimed the old lady, in amaze.
"To be sure," answered Ratty, boldly. "Didn't I hear the old blind man at
the fair asking charity 'for the loss of his blessed optics'?"
"Oh, what lamentable ignorance, my child!" exclaimed the old lady. "Your
tutor ought to be ashamed of himself."
"So he is," said Ratty. "He hasn't had a pair of new breeches for the last
seven years, and he hides himself whenever he sees mamma or the girls."
"Oh, you ignorant child! Indeed, Ratty, my love, you must study. I will
give you the renowned Kirwan's book. Charlotte tore some of it for
curl papers; but there's enough left to enlighten you with the sun's
rays, and reflection and refraction--"
"I know what _that_ is," said Ratty.
"And what is it, dear?"
"Bad behaviour," said Ratty.
"Oh, Heavens!" exclaimed his grandmother.
"Yes, it is," said Ratty, stoutly; "the tutor says I'm refractory when I
behave ill; and he knows Latin better than you."
"Ratty, Ratty! you are hopeless!" exclaimed his grandmamma.
"No, I am not," said Ratty. "I'm always _hoping_. And I hope Uncle
Robert will break his neck some day, and leave us his money."
The old woman turned up her eyes, and exclaimed, "You wicked boy!"
"Fudge!" said Ratty; "he's an old shaver, and we want it; and indeed,
gran, you ought to give me ten shillings for ten days' teaching, now; and
there's a fair next week, and I want to buy things."
"Ratty, I told you when you made me perfect in the use of my weapon I
would pay you. My promise is sacred, and I will observe it with that
scrupulous honour which has ever been the characteristic of the family; as
soon as I hit something, and satisfy myself of my mastery over the weapon,
the money shall be yours, but not till then."
"Oh, very well," said Ratty; "go on then. _Ready_--don't bring up your
arm that way, like the handle of a pump, but raise it nice from the elbow
--that's it. _Ready--fire!_ Ah! there you blink your eye, and drop
the point of your pistol--try another. _Ready--fire!_ That's better.
Now steady the next time."
[Illustration: A Crack Shot]
The young villain then put a charge of powder and ball into the pistol he
handed his grandmother, who took steady aim at her reflection in the
mirror, and at the words, _"Ready--fire!"_ bang went the pistol--the
magnificent glass was smashed--the unexpected recoil of the weapon made it
drop from the hand of the dowager, who screamed with astonishment at the
report and the shock, and did not see for a moment the mischief she had
done; but when the shattered mirror caught her eyes, she made a rush at
Ratty, who was screeching with laughter in the far corner of the room
where he ran to when he had achieved his trick, and he was so helpless
from the excess of his cachinnation, that the old lady cuffed him without
his being able to defend himself. At last he contrived to get out of her
clutches and jammed her against the wall with a table so tightly, that she
roared "Murder!" The report of the pistol ringing through the house
brought all its inmates to the spot; and there the cries of murder from
the old lady led them to suppose some awful tragedy, instead of a comedy,
was enacting inside; the door was locked, too, which increased the alarm,
and was forced in the moment of terror from the outside. When the crowd
rushed in, Master Ratty rushed out, and left the astonished family to
gather up the bits of the story, as well as they could, from the broken
looking-glass and the cracked dowager.
Though it is clear the serious events in the O'Grady family had not
altered Master Ratty's propensities in the least, the case was far
different with Gustavus. In that one night of suffering which _he_
had passed, the gulf was leaped that divides the boy from the man; and the
extra frivolity and carelessness which clung from boyhood up to the age of
fifteen was at once, by the sudden disrupture produced by events, thrown
off, and as singular a ripening into manhood commenced.
Gustavus was of a generous nature; and even his faults belonged less to
his organisation than to the devil-may-care sort of education he received,
if education it might be called. Upon his generosity the conduct of Edward
O'Connor beside the grave of the boy's father had worked strongly; and
though Gustavus could not give his hand beside the grave to the man with
whom his father had engaged in deadly quarrel, yet he quite exonerated
Edward from any blame; and when, after a night more sleepless than
Gustavus had ever known, he rose early on the ensuing morning, he
determined to ride over to Edward O'Connor's house to breakfast, and
commence that friendship which Edward had so solemnly promised to him, and
with which the boy was pleased; for Gustavus was quite aware in what
estimation Edward was held; and though the relative circumstances in which
he and the late Squire stood prevented the boy from "caring a fig" for
him, as he often said himself, yet he was not beyond the influence of that
thing called "reputation," which so powerfully attaches to and elevates
the man who wins it; and the price at which Edward was held in the country
influenced opinion even in Neck-or-Nothing Hall, albeit though "against
the grain." Gustavus had sometimes heard, from the lips of the idle and
ignorant, Edward sneered at for being "cruel wise," and "too much of a
schoolmaster," and fit for nothing but books or a boudoir, and called a
"piano man," with all the rest of the hackneyed dirt which jealous
inferiority loves to fling at the heights it cannot occupy; for though
--as it has been said--Edward, from his manly and sensible bearing, had
escaped such sneers better than most men, still some few there were to
whom his merit was offensive. Gustavus, however, though he sometimes heard
such things, saw with his own eyes that Edward could back a horse with any
man in the country--was always foremost in the chace--could bring down as
many brace of birds as most men in a day--had saved one or two persons
from drowning; and if he did all these things as well as other men,
Gustavus (though hitherto too idle to learn much himself) did not see why
a man should be sneered at for being an accomplished scholar as well.
Therefore he had good foundation for being pleased at the proffered
friendship of such a man, and remembering the poignancy of Edward's
anguish on the foregoing eve, Gustavus generously resolved to see him at
once and offer him the hand which a nice sense of feeling made him withhold
the night before. Mounting his pony, an hour's smart riding brought him
to Mount Eskar, for such was the name of Mr. O'Connor's residence.
It was breakfast-time when Gustavus arrived, but Edward had not yet left
his room, and the servant went to call him. It need scarcely be said that
Edward had passed a wretched night; reaching home, as he did, weary in
mind and body, and with feelings and imagination both overwrought, it was
long before he could sleep; and even then his slumber was disturbed by
harassing visions and frightful images. Spectral shapes and things
unimaginable to the waking senses danced and crawled and hissed about him.
The torch flared above the grave, and that horrid coffin, with the name of
the dead O'Grady upon it, "murdered sleep." It was dawn before anything
like refreshing slumber touched his feverish eyelids, and he had not
enjoyed more than a couple of hours of what might be called sleep, when
the servant called him; and then, after the brief oblivion he had
obtained, one may fancy how he started when the first words he heard on
waking were, "Mister O'Grady is below, sir."
Edward started up from his bed and stared wildly on the man, as he
exclaimed, with a look of alarm, "O'Grady! For God's sake, you don't say
"'Tis Master Gustavus, sir," said the man, wondering at the wildness of
"Oh, the boy!--ay, ay, the boy!" repeated Edward, drawing his hands across
his eyes and recovering his self-possession. "Say I will be down
The man retired, and Edward lay down again for some minutes to calm the
heavy beating of his heart which the sudden mention of that name had
produced; that name so linked with the mental agony of the past night;
that name which had conjured up a waking horror of such might as to shake
the sway of reason for a time, and which afterwards pursued its reign of
terror through his sleep. After such a night, fancy poor Edward doomed to
hear the name of O'Grady again the first thing in the morning, and we
cannot wonder that he was startled.
A few minutes, however, served to restore his self-possession; and he
arose, made his toilet in haste, and descended to the breakfast-parlour,
where he was met by Gustavus with an open hand, which Edward clasped with
fervour and held for some time as he looked on the handsome face
of the boy, and saw in its frank expression all that his heart could
desire. They spoke not a word, but they understood one another; and
that moment commenced an attachment which increased with increasing
intimacy, and became one of those steadfast friendships which are
seldom met with.
After breakfast Edward brought Gustavus to his "den," as he called a room
which was appropriated to his own particular use, occupied with books and
a small collection of national relics. Some long ranges of that peculiar
calf binding, with its red label, declared at once the contents to be law
and by the dry formal cut of the exterior gave little invitation to
reading. The very outside of a law library is repulsive; the continuity of
that eternal buff leather gives one a surfeit by anticipation, and makes
one mentally exclaim in despair, "Heavens! how can any one hope to get all
that into his head?" The only plain honest thing about law is the outside
of the books where it is laid down--there all is simple; inside all is
complex. The interlacing lines of the binder's patterns find no place on
the covers; but intricacies abound inside, where any line is easier found
than a straight one. Nor gold leaf nor tool is employed without, but
within how many fallacies are enveloped in glozing words; the gold leaf
has its representative in "legal fiction;" and as for "_tooling_"
there's plenty of that!
Other books, also, bore external evidence of the nature of their contents.
Some old parchment covers indicated the lore of past ages; amidst these
the brightest names of Greece and Rome were to be found, as well as those
who have adorned our own literature, and implied a cultivated taste on the
part of the owner. But one portion of the library was particularly well
stored. The works bearing on Irish history were numerous, and this might
well account for the ardour of Edward's feelings in the cause of his
country; for it is as impossible that a river should run backwards
to its source, as that any Irishman of a generous nature can become
acquainted with the real history of his country, and not feel that
she has been an ill-used and neglected land, and not struggle in
the cause of her being righted. Much _has_ been done in the
cause since the days of which this story treats, and Edward was amongst
those who helped to achieve it; but much has still to be done, and there
is glorious work in store for present and future Edward O'Connors.
Along with the books which spoke the cause of Ireland, the mute evidences,
also, of her former glory and civilisation were scattered through the
room. Various ornaments of elegant form, and wrought in the purest gold,
were tastefully arranged over the mantel-piece; some, from their form,
indicating their use, and others only affording matter of ingenious
speculation to the antiquary, but all bearing evidence of early
civilisation. The frontlet of gold indicated noble estate, and the long
and tapering bodkin of the same metal, with its richly enchased knob or
pendent crescent, implied the robe it once fastened could have been of no
mean texture, and the wearer of no mean rank. Weapons were there, too, of
elegant form and exquisite workmanship, wrought in that ancient bronze, of
such wondrous temper that it carries effective edge and point. The sword
was of exact Phoenician mould; the double-eyed spear-head, formed at once
for strength and lightness, might have served as the model for a sculptor
in arming the hand of Minerva. Could these be the work of an uncultivated
people? Impossible! The harp, too, was there, that unfailing mark of
polish and social elegance. The bard and barbarism could never be coeval.
But a relic was there, exciting still deeper interest--an ancient crosier,
of curious workmanship, wrought in the precious metals and partly studded
with jewels; but few of the latter remained, though the empty collets
showed it had once been costly in such ornaments. Could this be seen
without remembering that the light of Christianity first dawned over the
western isles _in Ireland?_ that _there_ the Gospel was first
preached, _there_ the work of salvation begun?
There be cold hearts to which these touching recollections do not pertain,
and they heed them not; and some there are, who, with a callousness which
shocks sensibility, have the ignorant effrontery to ask, "Of what use are
such recollections?" With such frigid utilitarians it would be vain to
argue; but this question, at least, may be put in return:--Why should the
ancient glories of Greece and Rome form a large portion of the academic
studies of our youth?--why should the evidences of _their_ arts and
_their_ arms be held precious in museums, and similar evidences of
ancient cultivation be despised because they pertain to another nation? Is
it because they are Irish they are held in contempt? Alas! in many cases
it is so--ay, and even (shame to say) within her own shores. But never may
that day arrive when Ireland shall be without enough of true and fond
hearts to cherish the memory of her ancient glories, to give to her future
sons the evidences of her earliest western civilisation, proving that
their forefathers were not (as those say who wronged and therefore would
malign them) a rabble of rude barbarians, but that brave kings, and proud
princes, and wise lawgivers, and just judges, and gallant chiefs, and
chaste and lovely women were among them, and that inspired bards were
there to perpetuate such memories!
Gustavus had never before seen a crosier, and asked what it was. On being
informed of its name, he then said, "But what _is_ a crosier?"
"A bishop's pastoral staff," said Edward.
"And why have you a bishop's staff, and swords, and spears, hung up
"That is not inappropriate," said Edward. "Unfortunately, the sword
and the crosier have been frequently but too intimate companions.
Preaching the word of peace has been too often the pretext for war.
The Spaniards, for instance, in the name of the gospel, committed the
most fearful atrocities."
"Oh, I know," said Gustavus, "that was in the time of bloody Mary and the
Edward wondered at the boy's ignorance, and saw in an instant the source
of his false application of his allusion to the Spaniards. Gustavus had
been taught to vaguely couple the name of "bloody Mary" with everything
bad, and that of "good Queen Bess" with all that was glorious; and the
word "Spanish," in poor Gusty's head, had been hitherto connected with two
ideas, namely, "liquorice" and the "Armada."
Edward, without wounding the sensitive shame of ignorant youth, gently set
him right, and made him aware he had alluded to the conduct of the
Spaniards in America under Cortes and Pizarro.
For the first time in his life Gustavus was aware that Pizarro was a real
character. He had heard his grandmamma speak of a play of that name, and
how great Mr. Kemble was in Rollo, and how he saved a child; but as to its
belonging to history, it was a new light--the utmost Gusty knew about
America being that it was discovered by Columbus.
"But the crosier," said Edward, "is amongst the most interesting of Irish
antiquities, and especially belongs to an Irish collection, when you
remember the earliest preaching of Christianity in the western isles was
"I did only know that," said the boy.
"Then you don't know why the shamrock is our national emblem?"
"No," said Gustavus, "though I take care to mount one in my hat every
"Well," said Edward, anxious to give Gustavus credit for _any_
knowledge he possessed, "you know at least it is connected with the
memory of St. Patrick, though you don't know why. I will tell you.
When St. Patrick first preached the Christian faith in Ireland, before
a powerful chief and his people, when he spoke of one God, and of
the Trinity, the chief asked how one could be in three. St. Patrick,
instead of attempting a theological definition of the faith, thought
a simple image would best serve to enlighten a simple people, and
stooping to the earth he plucked from the green sod a shamrock, and
holding up the trefoil before them he bade them there behold one in three.
The chief, struck by the illustration, asked at once to be baptised, and
all his sept followed his example."
"I never heard that before," said Gusty. "'T is very beautiful."
"I will tell you something else connected with it," said Edward.
"After baptising the chief, St. Patrick made an eloquent exhortation to
the assembled multitude, and in the course of his address, while enforcing
his urgent appeal with appropriate gesture, as the hand which held his
crosier, after being raised towards heaven, descended again towards the
earth, the point of his staff, armed with metal, was driven through the
foot of the chief, who, fancying it was part of the ceremony, and but a
necessary testing of the firmness of his faith, never winced."
"He was a fine fellow," said Gusty. "And is that the crosier?" he added,
alluding to the one in Edward's collection, and manifestly excited by what
he had heard.
"No," said Edward, "but one of early date, and belonging to some of the
first preachers of the gospel amongst us."
"And have you other things here with such beautiful stories belonging to
them?" inquired Gusty, eager for more of that romantic lore which youth
loves so passionately.
"Not that I know of," answered Edward "but if these objects here had only
tongues, if every sword, and belt, and spear-head, and golden bodkin, and
other trinket could speak, no doubt we should hear stirring stories of
gallant warriors and their ladye-loves."
"Aye, that would be something to hear!" exclaimed Gusty.
"Well," said Edward, "you may have many _such_ stories by reading the
history of your country; which if you have not read, I can lend you books
"Oh, thank you," said Gusty; "I should like it so much."
Edward approached the book-shelf and selected a volume he thought the most
likely to interest so little practised a reader; and when he turned round
he saw Gusty poising in his hand an antique Irish sword of bronze.
"Do you know what that is?" inquired Edward.
"I can't tell you the name of it," answered Gusty, "but I suppose it was
_something to stick a fellow_."
Edward smiled at the characteristic reply, and told him it was an antique
"A sword?" he exclaimed. "Isn't it short for a sword?"
"All the swords of that day were short."
"When was that?" inquired the boy.
"Somewhere about two thousand years ago."
"Two thousand years," exclaimed Gusty, in surprise. "How is it possible
you can tell this is two thousand years old?"
"Because it is made of the same metal and of the same shape as the swords
found at Cannae, where the Carthaginians fought the Romans."
"I know the Roman history," said Gusty, eager to display his little bit of
knowledge; "I know the Roman history. Romulus and Remus were educated by a
wolf." Edward could not resist a smile, which he soon suppressed, and
continued:--"Such works as you now hold in your hand are found _in
quantities_ in Ireland, and seldom anywhere else in Europe, except in
Italy, particularly at Cannae, where some thousands of Carthaginians fell;
and when we find the sword of the same make and metal in places so remote,
it establishes a strong connecting link between the people of Carthage and
of Ireland, and at once shows their date."
"How curious that is!" exclaimed Gusty; "and how odd I never heard it
before! Are there many such curious things you know?"
"Many," said Edward.
"I wonder how people can find out such odd things," said the boy.
"My dear boy," said Edward, "after getting a certain amount of knowledge,
other knowledge comes very fast; it gathers like a snowball--or perhaps it
would be better to illustrate the fact by a milldam. You know, when the
water is low in the milldam, the miller cannot drive his wheel; but the
moment the water comes up to a certain level it has force to work the
mill. And so it is with knowledge; when once you get it up to a certain
level, you can 'work your mill,' with this great advantage over the
milldam, that the stream of knowledge, once reaching the working level,
never runs dry."
"Oh, I wish I knew as much as you do," exclaimed Gusty.
"And so you can if you wish it," said Edward.
Gusty sighed heavily, and admitted he had been very idle. Edward told him
he had plenty of time before him to repair the damage.
A conversation then ensued, perfectly frank on the part of the boy, and
kind on Edward's side to all his deficiencies, which he found to be
lamentable, as far as learning went. He had some small smattering of
Latin; but Gustavus vowed steady attention to his tutor and his studies
for the future. Edward, knowing what a miserable scholar the tutor
himself was, offered to put Gustavus through his Latin and Greek
himself. Gustavus accepted the offer with gratitude, and rode over every
day to Mount Eskar for his lesson; and, under the intelligent explanations
of Edward, the difficulties which had hitherto discouraged him
disappeared, and it was surprising what progress he made. At the same time
he devoured Irish history, and became rapidly tinctured with that
enthusiastic love of all that belonged to his country which he found in
his teacher; and Edward soon hailed, in the ardent neophyte, a noble and
intelligent spirit redeemed from ignorance and rendered capable of higher
enjoyments than those to be derived merely from field sports. Edward,
however, did not confine his instructions to book-learning only; there is
much to be learned by living with the educated, whose current conversation
alone is instructive; and Edward had Gustavus with him as constantly as he
could; and after some time, when the frequency of Gusty's visits to Mount
Eskar ceased to excite any wonder at home, he sometimes spent several days
together with Edward, to whom he became continually more and more
attached. Edward showed great judgment in making his training attractive
to his pupil: he did not attend merely to his head; he thought of other
things as well; joined him in the sports and exercises he knew, and taught
him those in which he was uninstructed. Fencing, for instance, was one of
these; Edward was a tolerable master of his foil, and in a few months
Gustavus, under his tuition, could parry a thrust and make no bad attempt
at a hit himself. His improvement in every way was so remarkable, that it
was noticed by all, and its cause did not long remain secret; and when it
_was_ known, Edward O'Connor's character stood higher than ever, and
the whole country said it was a lucky day for Gusty O'Grady that he found
such a friend. As the limits of our story would not permit the intercourse
between Edward and Gustavus to be treated in detail, this general sketch
of it has been given; and in stating its consequences so far, a peep into
the future has been granted by the author, with a benevolence seldom
belonging to his ill-natured and crafty tribe, who endeavour to hoodwink
their docile followers as much as possible, and keep them in a state of
ignorance as to coming events. But now, having been so indulgent, we must
beg to lay hold of the skirts of our readers and pull them back again down
the ladder into the private still, where Bridget pulled back Andy very
much after the same fashion, and the results of which we must treat of in
our next chapter.
When Bridget dragged Andy back and insisted on his going to bed--
No--I will not be too good natured and tell my story in that way; besides,
it would be a very difficult matter to tell it; and why should an author,
merely to oblige people, get himself involved in a labyrinth of
difficulties, and rack his unfortunate brain to pick and choose words
properly to tell his story, yet at the same time to lead his readers
through the mazes of this very ticklish adventure, without a single thorn
scratching their delicate feelings, or as much as making the smallest rent
in the white muslin robe of propriety? So, not to run unnecessary risks,
the story must go on another way.
When Shan More and the rest of the "big blackguards" began to wake, the
morning after the abduction, and gave a turn or two under their heather
coverlid, and rubbed their eyes as the sun peeped through the "curtains of
the east"--for these were the only bed-curtains Shan More and his
companions ever had--they stretched themselves and yawned, and felt very
thirsty, for they had all been blind drunk the night before, be it
remembered; and Shan More, to use his own expressive and poetic imagery,
swore that his tongue was "as rough as a rat's back," while his companions
went no further than saying theirs were as "dry as a lime-burner's wig."
We should not be so particular in those minute details but for that desire
of truth which has guided us all through this veracious history and as in
this scene, in particular, we feel ourselves sure to be held seriously
responsible for every word, we are determined to be accurate to a nicety,
and set down every syllable with stenographic strictness.
"Where's the girl?" cried Shan, not yet sober.
"She's asleep with your sisther," was the answer.
"Down-stairs?" inquired Shan.
"Yes," said the other, who now knew that Big Jack was more drunk than he
at first thought him, by his using the words _stairs_; for Jack when he
was drunk was very grand, and called _down the ladder_ "down-_stairs_."
"Get me a drink o' wather," said Jack, "for I'm thundherin' thirsty, and
can't deludher that girl with soft words till I wet my mouth."
His attendant vagabond obeyed the order, and a large pitcher full of water
was handed to the master, who heaved it upwards to his head and drank as
audibly and nearly as much as a horse. Then holding his hands to receive
the remaining contents of the pitcher, which his followers poured into his
monstrous palms, he soused his face, which he afterwards wiped in a wisp
of grass--the only towel of Jack's which was not then at the wash.
Having thus made his toilet, Big Jack went downstairs, and as soon as his
great bull-head had disappeared beneath the trap, one of the men above
said, "We'll have a _shilloe_ soon, boys."
And sure enough they did before long hear an extraordinary row. Jack first
roared for Bridget, and no answer was returned; the call was repeated with
as little effect, and at last a most tremendous roar was heard above, but
not from a female voice. Jack was heard below, swearing like a trooper,
and, in a minute or two, back he rushed "_up-stairs_" and began
cursing his myrmidons most awfully, and foaming at the mouth with rage.
"What's the matther?" cried the men.
"Matther!" roared Jack; "oh, you 'tarnal villains! You're a purty set to
carry off a girl for a man--a purty job you've made of it!"
"Arrah, didn't we bring her to you?"
"_Her_, indeed--bring _her_--much good what you brought is to
"Tare an' ouns! what's the matther at all? We dunna what you mane!"
shouted the men, returning rage for rage.
"Come down, and you'll see what's the matther," said Jack, descending the
ladder; and the men hastened after him.
He led the way to the further end of the cabin, where a small glimmering
of light was permitted to enter from the top, and lifting a tattered piece
of canvas, which served as a screen to the bed, he exclaimed, with a
curse, "Look there, you blackguards!"
The men gave a shout of surprise, for--what do you think they saw?--An
It may be remembered that, on Father Phil's recommendation, Andy was to be
removed out of the country to place him beyond the reach of Larry Hogan's
machinations, and that the proposed journey to London afforded a good
opportunity of taking him out of the way. Andy had been desired by Squire
Egan to repair to Merryvale; but as some days had elapsed and Andy had not
made his appearance, the alarms of the Squire that Andy might be tampered
with began to revive, and Dick Dawson was therefore requested to call at
the Widow Rooney's cabin as he was returning from the town, where some
business with Murphy, about the petition against Scatterbrain's return,
demanded his presence.
Dick, as it happened, had no need to call at the widow's, for on his way
to the town who should he see approaching but the renowned Andy himself.
On coming up to him, Dick pulled up his horse, and Andy pulled off his
"God save your honour," said Andy.
"Why didn't you come to Merryvale, as you were bid?" said Dick.
"I couldn't, sir, becase--"
"Hold your tongue, you thief; you know you never can do what you're bid--
you are always wrong one way or other."
"You're hard on me, Misther Dick."
"Did you ever do anything right?--I ask yourself?"
"Indeed, sir, this time it was a rale bit o' business I had to do."
"And well you did it, no doubt. Did you marry any one lately?" said Dick,
with a waggish grin and a wink.
"Faix, then, maybe I did," said Andy, with a knowing nod.
"And I hope _Matty_ is well?" said Dick.
"Ah, Misther Dick, you're always goin' on with your jokin', so you are.
So, you heerd o' that job, did you? Faix, a purty lady she is--oh, it's
not her at all I am married to, but another woman."
"Another woman!" exclaimed Dick, in surprise.
"Yis, sir, another woman--a kind craythur."
"Another woman!" reiterated Dick, laughing; "married to two women in two
days! Why you're worse than a Turk!"
"Ah, Misther Dick!"
"Sure, sir, what harm's in it?"'
"Sure, it's no fault o' mine, sir."
"Bigamy, by this and that, flat bigamy! You'll only be hanged, as sure as
your name's Andy."
"Sure, let me tell you how it was, sir, and you'll see I am quit of all
harm, good or bad. 'T was a pack o' blackguards, you see, come to take off
"Oh, a case of abduction!"
"Yis, sir; so the women dhressed me up as a girl, and the blackguards,
instead of the seduction of Oonah, only seduced me."
"Capital!" cried Dick; "well done, Andy! And who seduced you?"
"Shan _More_, 'faith--no less."
"Ho, ho! a dangerous customer to play tricks on, Andy."
"Sure enough, 'faith, and that's partly the rayson of what happened; but,
by good luck, Big Jack was blind dhrunk when I got there, and I shammed
screechin' so well that his sisther took pity on me, and said she'd keep
me safe from harm in her own bed that night."
Dick gave a "view hallo" when he heard this, and shouted with laughter,
delighted at the thought of Shan More, instead of carrying off a girl for
himself, introducing a gallant to his own sister.
"Oh, now I see how you are married," said Dick; "that was the biter bit
"Oh, the divil a bit I'd ha' bit her only for the cross luck with me, for
I wanted to schame off out o' the place, and escape; but she wouldn't let
me, and cotch me and brought me back."
"I should think she would, indeed," said Dick, laughing. "What next?"
"Why I drank a power o' punch, sir, and was off my guard, you see, and
couldn't keep the saycret so well afther that, and by dad she found it
"Just what I would expect of her," said Dick.
"Well, do you know, sir, though the thrick was agen her own brother, she
laughed at it a power, and said I was a great divil, but that she couldn't
blame me. So then I'd sthruv to coax her to let me make my escape, but she
told me to wait a bit till the men above was faster asleep; but while I
was waitin' for them to go to sleep, faix, I went to asleep myself, I was
so tired; and when Bridget, the crathur, 'woke me in the morning, she was
cryin' like a spout afther a thunder-storm, and said her characther would
be ruined when the story got abroad over the counthry, and sure she darn't
face the world if I wouldn't make her an honest woman."
"The brazen baggage!" said Dick; "and what did you say?"
"Why what could any man say, sir, afther that? Sure her karacther would be
"Gone," said Dick, "'faith it might have gone further before it fared
"Arrah! what do you mane, Misther Dick?"
"Pooh, pooh! Andy--you don't mean to say you married that one?"
"Faix, I did," said Andy.
"Well, Andy," said Dick, grinning, "by the powers, you _have_ done it
this time! Good morning to you!" and Dick put spurs to his horse.
Andy, "knocked all of a heap," stood in the middle of the road, looking
after Dick as he cantered down the slope. It was seldom poor Andy was
angry--but he felt a strong sense of indignation choking him as Dick's
parting words still rung in his ears. "What does he mane?" said Andy,
talking aloud; "what does he mane?" he repeated, anxious to doubt and
therefore question the obvious construction which Dick's words bore.
"Misther Dick is fond of a joke, and maybe this is one of his making; but
if it is, 't is not a fair one, 'pon my sowl: a poor man has his feelin's
as well as a rich man. How would you like your own wife to be spoke of
that way, Misther Dick, as proud as you ride your horse there--humph?"
Andy, in great indignation, pursued his way towards his mother's cabin to
ask her blessing upon his marriage. On his presenting himself there, both
the old woman and Oonah were in great delight at witnessing his safe
return; Oonah particularly, for she, feeling that it was for her sake Andy
placed himself in danger, had been in a state of great anxiety for the
result of the adventure, and, on seeing him, absolutely threw herself into
his arms, and embraced him tenderly, impressing many a hearty kiss upon
his lips, between whiles that she vowed she would never forget his
generosity and courage, and ending with saying there was _nothing_
she would not do for him.
Now Andy was flesh and blood like other people, and as the showers
of kisses from Oonah's ripe lips fell fast upon him he was not insensible
to the embrace of so very pretty a girl--a girl, moreover, he had
always had a "sneaking kindness" for, which Oonah's distance of manner
alone had hitherto made him keep to himself; but now, when he saw
her eyes beam gratitude, and her cheek flush, after her strong
demonstration of regard, and heard her last words, so _very_ like a
hint to a shy man, it must be owned a sudden pang shot through poor Andy's
heart, and he sickened at the thought of being married, which placed the
tempting prize before him hopelessly beyond his reach.
He looked so blank, and seemed so unable to return Oonah's fond greeting,
that she felt the pique which every pretty woman experiences who fancies
her favours disregarded, and thought Andy the stupidest lout she ever came
across. Turning up her hair, which had fallen down in the excess of her
friendship, she walked out of the cottage, and, biting her disdainful lip,
fairly cried for spite.
In the meantime, Andy popped down on his knees before the widow, and said,
"Give me your blessing, mother!"
"For what, you omadhawn?" said his mother, fiercely; for her woman's
nature took part with Oonah's feelings, which she quite comprehended, and
she was vexed with what she thought Andy's disgusting insensibility. "For
what should I give you my blessing?"
"Bekase I'm marri'd, ma'am."
"What!" exclaimed the mother. "It's not marri'd again you are? You're
"Faix, it's no joke," said Andy, sadly, "I'm marri'd sure enough; so give
us your blessin', anyhow," cried he, still kneeling.
"And who did you _dar'_ for to marry, sir, if I make so bowld to ax,
without _my_ lave or license?"
"There was no time for axin', mother--'t was done in a hurry, and
I can't help it, so give us your blessing at once."
"Tell me who is she, before I give you my blessin'?"
"_Shan More's_ sister, ma'am."
"What!" exclaimed the widow, staggering back some paces--"Shan More's
sisther, did you say--Bridget _rhua_ [Footnote: Red-haired Bridget.]
"Oh, wirrasthru!--plillelew!--millia murther!" shouted the mother, tearing
her cap off her head,--"Oh blessed Vargin, holy St. Dominick, Pether an'
Paul the 'possel, what'll I do?--Oh, patther an' ave--you dirty
_bosthoon_--blessed angels and holy marthyrs!--kneelin' there in the
middle o' the flure as if nothing happened--look down on me this day, a
poor vartuous _dissolute_ woman!--Oh, you disgrace to me and all
belonging to you,--and is it the impidence to ask my blessin' you have,
when it's a whippin' at the cart's tail you ought to get, you shameless
She then went wringing her hands, and throwing them upwards in appeals to
Heaven, while Andy still kept kneeling in the middle of the cabin, lost in
The widow ran to the door and called Oonah in.
"Who do you think that blackguard is marri'd to?" said the widow.
"Married!" exclaimed Oonah, growing pale.
"Ay, marri'd, and who to, do you think?--Why to Bridget _rhua_."
Oonah screamed and clasped her hands.
Andy got up at last, and asked what they were making such a rout about; he
wasn't the first man who married without asking his mother's leave; and
wanted to know what they had to "say agen it."
"Oh, you barefaced scandal o' the world!" cried the widow, "to ax sitch a
question--to marry a thrampin' sthreel like that--a great red-headed
"She can't help her hair," said Andy.
"I wish I could cut it off, and her head along with it, the sthrap! Oh,
blessed Vargin! to have my daughter-in-law--"
"What?" said Andy, getting rather alarmed.
"That all the country knows is--"
"What?" cried Andy.
"Not a fair nor a market-town doesn't know her as well as--Oh, wirra!
"Why you don't mane to say anything agen her charackther, do you?" said
"Charakther, indeed!" said his mother, with a sneer.
"By this an' that," said Andy, "if she was the child unborn she couldn't
make a greater hullabaloo about her charakther than she did the mornin'
"Afther what?" said his mother.
"Afther I was tuk away up to the hill beyant, and found her there, and--
but I b'lieve I didn't tell you how it happened."
"No," said Oonah, coming forward, deadly pale, and listening anxiously,
with a look of deep pity in her soft eyes.
Andy then related his adventure as the reader already knows it; and when
it was ended, Oonah burst into tears and in passionate exclamations blamed
herself for all that had happened, saying it was in the endeavour to save
her that Andy had lost himself.
"Oh, Oonah! Oonah!" said Andy, with more meaning in his voice than the
girl had ever heard before, "it isn't the loss of myself I mind, but I've
lost _you_ too. Oh, if you had ever given me a tendher word or look
before this day, 't would never have happened, and that desaiver in the
hills never could have _deludhered me_. And tell me, _lanna
machree_, is my suspicions right in what I hear--tell me the worst at
oncet--is she _non compos_?"
"Oh, I never heerd her called by that name before," sobbed Oonah, "but she
has a great many others just as bad."
"Ow! ow! ow!" exclaimed Andy. "Now I know what Misther Dick laughed at;
well, death before dishonour--I'll go 'list for a sojer, and never live
It has been necessary in an earlier chapter to notice the strange freaks
madness will sometimes play. It was then the object to show how strong
affections of the mind will recall an erring judgment to its true balance;
but, the action of the counterpoise growing weaker by time, the disease
returns, and reason again kicks the beam. Such was the old dowager's case:
the death of her son recalled her to herself; but a few days produced
relapse, and she was as foolish as ever. Nevertheless, as Polonius remarks
"There is method in his madness;"
so in the dowager's case there was method--not of a sane intention, as the
old courtier implies of the Danish Prince, but of _in_sane birth--begot
of a chivalrous feeling on an enfeebled mind.
To make this clearly understood it is necessary to call attention to one
other peculiarity of madness,--that, while it makes those under its
influence liable to say and enact all sorts of nonsense on some subjects,
it never impairs their powers of observation on those which chance to come
within the reach of the un-diseased portion of the mind; and moreover,
they are quite as capable of arriving at just conclusions upon what they
_so_ see and hear, as the most reasonable person, and, perhaps, in
proportion as the reasoning power is limited within a smaller compass, so
the capability of observation becomes stronger by being concentrated.
Such was the case with the old dowager, who, while Furlong was "doing
devotion" to Augusta, and appeared the pink of faithful swains, saw
very clearly that Furlong did not like it a bit, and would gladly
be off his bargain. Yea, while the people in their sober senses on
the same plane with the parties were taken in, the old lunatic, even
from the toppling height of her own mad chimney-pot, could look down
and see that Furlong would not marry Augusta if he could help it.
It _was_ even so. Furlong had acted under the influence of terror
when poor Augusta, shoved into his bedroom through the devilment of that
rascally imp, Ratty, and found there, through the evil destiny of Andy,
was flung into his arms by her enraged father, and accepted as his wife.
The immediate hurry of the election had delayed the marriage--the duel and
its consequences further interrupted "the happy event"--and O'Grady's
death caused a further postponement. It was delicately hinted to Furlong,
that when matters had gone so far as to the wedding-dresses being ready,
that the sooner the contracting parties under such circumstances were
married, the better. But Furlong, with that affectation of propriety which
belongs to his time-serving tribe, pleaded the "regard to appearances"--
"so soon after the ever-to-be-deplored event,"--and other such specious
excuses, which were but covers to his own rascality, and used but to
postpone the "wedding-day." The truth was, the moment Furlong had no
longer the terrors of O'Grady's pistol before his eyes, he had resolved
never to take so bad a match as that with Augusta appeared to be--indeed
was, as far as regarded money; though Furlong should only have been too
glad to be permitted to mix his plebeian blood with the daughter of a man
of high family, whose crippled circumstances and consequent truckling
conduct had reduced him to the wretched necessity of making _such a
cur_ as Furlong the inmate of his house. But so it was.
The family began at last to suspect the real state of the case, and
all were surprised except the old dowager; she had expected what
was coming, and had prepared herself for it. All her pistol practice
was with a view to call Furlong to the "last arbitrament" for this slight
to her house. Gusty was too young, she considered, for the duty; therefore
she, in her fantastic way of looking at the matter, looked upon
_herself_ as the head of the family, and, as such, determined to
resent the affront put upon it.
But of her real design the family at Neck-or-Nothing Hall had not the
remotest notion. Of course, an old lady going about with a pistol, powder-
flask, and bullets, and practising on the trunks of the trees in the park,
could not pass without observation, and surmises there were on the
subject; then her occasional exclamation of "Tremble, villain!" would
escape her; and sometimes in the family circle, after sitting for a while
in a state of abstraction, she would lift her attenuated hand armed with a
knitting-needle or a ball of worsted, and assuming the action of poising a
pistol, execute a smart _click_ with her tongue, and say, "I hit him
These exclamations, indicative of vengeance, were supposed at length by
the family to apply to Edward O'Connor, but excited pity rather than
alarm. When, however, one morning, the dowager was nowhere to be found,
and Ratty and the pistols had also disappeared, an inquiry was instituted
as to the old lady's whereabouts, and Mount Eskar was one of the first
places where she was sought, but without success; and all other inquiries
were equally unavailing.
The old lady had contrived, with that cunning peculiar to insane people,
to get away from the house at an early hour in the morning, unknown to all
except Ratty, to whom she confided her intention, and he managed to get
her out of the domain unobserved, and thence together they proceeded to
Dublin in a post-chaise. It was the day after this secret expedition was
undertaken that Mr. Furlong was sitting in his private apartment at the
Castle, doing "the state some service" by reading the morning papers,
which heavy official duty he relieved occasionally by turning to some
scented notes which lay near a morocco writing-case, whence they had been
drawn by the lisping dandy to flatter his vanity. He had been carrying on
a correspondence with an anonymous fair one, in whose heart, if her words
might be believed, Furlong had made desperate havoc.
It happened, however, that these notes were all fictitious, being the work
of Tom Loftus, who enjoyed playing on a puppy as much as playing on the
organ; and he had the satisfaction of seeing Furlong going through his
paces in certain squares he had appointed, wearing a flower of Tom's
choice and going through other antics which Tom had demanded under the
signature of "Phillis," written in a delicate hand on pink satin note-
paper with a lace border; one of the last notes suggested the possibility
of a visit from the lady, and, after assurances of "secrecy and honour"
had been returned by Furlong, he was anxiously expecting "what would
become of it;" and filled with pleasing reflections of what "a devil of a
fellow" he was among the ladies, he occasionally paced the room before a
handsome dressing-glass (with which his apartment was always furnished),
and ran his fingers through his curls with a complacent smile. While thus
occupied, and in such a frame of mind, the hall messenger entered the
apartment, and said a lady wished to see him.
"A lady!" exclaimed Furlong, in delighted surprise.
"She won't give her name, sir, but--"
"Show her up! show her up!" exclaimed the Lothario, eagerly.
All anxiety, he awaited the appearance of his donna; and quite a donna she
seemed, as a commanding figure, dressed in black, and enveloped in
a rich veil of the same, glided into the room.
"How vewy Spanish!" exclaimed Furlong, as he advanced to meet his
incognita, who, as soon as she entered, locked the door, and withdrew the
"Quite pwactised in such secwet affairs," said Furlong slily. "Fai' lady,
allow me to touch you' fai' hand, and lead you to a seat."
The mysterious stranger made no answer; but lifting her long veil, turned
round on the lisping dandy, who staggered back, when the dowager O'Grady
appeared before him, drawn up to her full height, and anything but an
agreeable expression in her eye. She stalked up towards him, something in
the style of a spectre in a romance, which she was not very unlike; and as
she advanced, he retreated, until he got the table between him and this
most unwelcome apparition.
"I am come," said the dowager, with an ominous tone of voice.
"Vewy happy of the hono', I am sure, Mistwess O'Gwady," faltered Furlong.
"The avenger has come." Furlong opened his eyes. "I have come to wash the
stain!" said she, tapping her fingers in a theatrical manner on the table,
and, as it happened, she pointed to a large blotch of ink on the table-
cover. Furlong opened his eyes wider than ever, and thought this the
queerest bit of madness he ever heard of; however, thinking it best to
humour her, he answered, "Yes, it was a little awkwa'dness of mine--I
upset the inkstand the othe' day."
"Do you mock me, sir?" said she, with increasing bitterness.
"La, no! Mistwess O'Gwady."
"I have come, I say, to wash out in your blood the stain you have dared to
put on the name of O'Grady."
Furlong gasped with mingled amazement and fear.
"Tremble, villain!" she said; and she pointed toward him her long
attenuated finger with portentous solemnity.
[Illustration: The Challenge]
"I weally am quite at a loss, Mistwess O'Gwady, to compwehend--"
Before he could finish his sentence, the dowager had drawn from the depths
of her side-pockets a brace of pistols, and presenting them to Furlong,
said, "Be at a loss no longer, except the loss of life which may ensue:
take your choice of weapons, sir."
"Gwacious Heaven!" exclaimed Furlong, trembling from head to foot.
"You won't choose, then?" said the dowager. "Well, there's one for you;"
and she laid a pistol before him with as courteous a manner as if she were
making him a birthday present.
Furlong stared down upon it with a look of horror.
"Now we must toss for choice of ground," said the dowager. "I have no
money about me, for I paid my last half-crown to the post-boy, but this
will do as well for a toss as anything else;" and she laid her hands on
the dressing-glass as she spoke. "Now the call shall be 'safe,' or
'smash;' whoever calls 'safe,' if the glass comes down unbroken, has the
choice, and _vice versā_. I call first--'_Smash_,'" said the
dowager, as she flung up the dressing-glass, which fell in shivers on the
floor. "I have won," said she; "oblige me, sir, by standing in that far
corner. I have the light in my back--and you will have something else in
yours before long; take your ground, sir."
Furlong, finding himself thus cooped up with a mad woman, in an agony of
terror suddenly bethought himself of instances he had heard of escape,
under similar circumstances, by coinciding to a certain extent with the
views of the insane people, and suggested to the dowager that he hoped she
would not insist on a duel without their having a "friend" present.
"I beg your pardon, sir," said the old lady: "I quite forgot that
form, in the excitement of the moment, though I have not overlooked the
necessity altogether, and have come provided with one."
"Allow me to wing for him," said Furlong, rushing to the bell.
"Stop!" exclaimed the dowager, levelling her pistol at the bell-pull;
"touch it, and you are a dead man!"
Furlong stood riveted to the spot where his rush had been arrested.
"No interruption, sir, till this little affair is settled. Here is my
friend," she added, putting her hand into her pocket and pulling out the
wooden cuckoo of her clock. "My little bird, sir, will see fair between
us;" and she perched the painted wooden thing, with a bit of feather
grotesquely sticking up out of its nether end, on the morocco letter-case.
"Oh, Lord!" said Furlong.
"He's a gentleman of the nicest honour, sir!" said the dowager, pacing
back to the window.
Furlong took advantage of the opportunity of her back being turned, and
rushed at the bell, which he pulled with great fury.
The dowager wheeled round with haste. "So you have rung," said she, "but
it shall not avail you--the door is locked; take your weapon, sir,--
"Weally, Mistwess O'Gwady, I cannot think of deadly arbitrament with a
"Less would you like it with a man, _poltroon_!" said she, with an
exaggerated expression of contempt in her manner. "However," she added,
"if you _are_ a coward, you shall have a coward's punishment." She
went to a corner where stood a great variety of handsome canes, and laying
hold of one, began soundly to thrash Furlong, who feared to make any
resistance or attempt to disarm her of the cane, for the pistol was yet in
her other hand.
The bell was answered by the servant, who, on finding the door locked,
and hearing the row inside, began to knock and inquire loudly what
was the matter. The question was more loudly answered by Furlong,
who roared out, "Bweak the door! bweak the door!" interlarding his
directions with cries of "mu'der!"
The door at length was forced, Furlong rescued, and the old lady separated
from him. She became perfectly calm the moment other persons appeared, and
was replacing the pistols in her pocket, when Furlong requested the
"dweadful weapons" might be seized. The old lady gave up the pistols very
quietly, but laid hold of her bird and put it back into her pocket.
"This is a dweadful violation!" said Furlong, "and my life is not safe
unless she is bound ove' to keep the peace."
"Pooh! pooh!" said one of the gentlemen from the adjacent office, who came
to the scene on hearing the uproar, "binding over an old lady to keep the
"I insist upon it," said Furlong, with that stubbornness for which fools
are so remarkable.
"Oh--very well!" said the sensible gentleman, who left the room.
A party, pursuant to Furlong's determination, proceeded to the head
police-office close by the Castle, and a large mob gathered as they went
down Cork-hill and followed them to Exchange-court, where they crowded
before them in front of the office, so that it was with difficulty the
principals could make their way through the dense mass.
At length, however, they entered the office; and when Major Sir heard any
gentleman attached to the Government wanted his assistance, of course he
put any other case aside, and had the accuser and accused called up before
Furlong made his charge of assault and battery, with intent to murder,
&c., &c. "Some mad old rebel, I suppose," said Major Sir. "Do you remember
'98, ma'am?" said the major.
"Indeed I do, sir--and I remember _you_ too: Major Sir I have the
honour to address, if I don't mistake."
"Yes, ma'am. What then?"
"I remember well in '98 when you were searching for rebels, you thought a
man was concealed in a dairy-yard in the neighbourhood of my mother's
house, major, in Stephen's Green; and you thought he was hid in a hay-
rick, and ordered your sergeant to ask for the loan of a spit from my
mother's kitchen to probe the haystack."
"Oh! then, madam, your mother was _loyal_, I suppose."
"Most loyal, sir."
"Give the lady a chair," said the major.
"Thank you, I don't want it--but, major, when you asked for the spit, my
mother thought you were going to practise one of your delightfully
ingenious bits of punishment, and asked the sergeant _who it was you
were going to roast_?"
The major grew livid on the bench where he sat, at this awkward
reminiscence of one of his friends, and a dead silence reigned through the
crowded office. He recovered himself, however, and addressed Mrs. O'Grady
in a mumbling manner, telling her she must give security to keep the
peace, herself--and find friends as sureties. On asking her had she any
friends to appear for her, she declared she had.
"A gentleman of the nicest honour, sir," said the dowager, pulling her
cuckoo from her pocket, and holding it up in view of the whole office.
A shout of laughter, of course, followed. The affair became at once
understood in its true light; a mad old lady--a paltry coward--&c., &c.
Those who know the excitability and fun of an Irish mob will not wonder
that, when the story got circulated from the office to the crowd without,
which it did with lightning rapidity, the old lady, on being placed
in a hackney-coach which was sent for, was hailed with a chorus of
"Cuckoo!" by the multitude, one half of which ran after the coach
as long as they could keep pace with it, shouting forth the spring-time
call, and the other half followed Furlong to the Castle, with hisses
and other more articulate demonstrations of their contempt.
The fat and fair Widow Flanagan had, at length, given up shilly-
shallying, and yielding to the fervent entreaties of Tom Durfy, had
consented to name the happy day. She _would_ have some little ways of
her own about it, however, and instead of being married in the country,
insisted on the nuptial knot being tied in Dublin. Thither the widow
repaired with her swain to complete the stipulated time of residence
within some metropolitan parish before the wedding could take place. In
the meanwhile they enjoyed all the gaiety the capital presented, the time
glided swiftly by, and Tom was within a day of being made a happy man,
when, as he was hastening to the lodgings of the fair widow, who was
waiting with her bonnet and shawl on to be escorted to the botanical
gardens at Glasnevin, he was accosted by an odd-looking person of somewhat
"I believe I have the honour of addressing Mister Durfy, sir?" Tom
answered in the affirmative. "_Thomas_ Durfy, Esquire, I think, sir?"
"This is for you, sir," he said, handing Tom a piece of dirty printed
paper, and at the same time laying his hand on Tom's shoulder and
executing a smirking sort of grin, which he meant to be the pattern of
politeness, added, "You'll excuse me, sir, but I arrest you under a
warrant from the High Sheriff of the city of Dublin; always sorry, sir,
for a gintleman in defficulties, but it's my duty."
"You're a bailiff, then?" said Tom.
"Sir," said the bum,
"'Honour and shame from no condition rise;
Act well your part--there all the honour lies.'"
"I meant no offence," said Tom. "I only meant--"
"I understand, sir--I understand. These little defficulties startles
gintlemen at first--you've not been used to arrest, I see, sir?"
"Never in my life did such a thing happen before," said Tom. "I live
generally, thank God, where a bailiff daren't show his face."
"Ah, sir," said the bailiff with a grin, "them rustic habits betrays the
children o' nature often when they come to town; but we are _so
fisticated_ here in the metropolis, that we lay our hands on strangers
aisy. But you'd better not stand in the street, sir, or people will
understand it's an arrest, sir; and I suppose you wouldn't like the
exposure. I can simperise in a gintle-man's feelings, sir. If you walk
aisy on, sir, and don't attempt to escape or rescue, I'll keep a
Tom walked on in great perplexity for a few steps, not knowing what to do.
The hour of his rendezvous had struck; he knew how impatient of neglect
the widow always was; he at one moment thought of asking the bailiff to
allow him to proceed to her lodgings at once, there boldly to avow what
had taken place and ask her to discharge the debt; but this his pride
would not allow him to do. As he came to the corner of a street, he got a
tap on the elbow from the bailiff, who, with a jerking motion of his thumb
and a wink, said in a confidential tone to Tom, "Down this street, sir--
that's the way to the _pres'n_ (prison)."
"Prison!" exclaimed Tom, halting involuntarily at the word.
"Shove on, sir--shove on!" hastily repeated the sheriff's officer,
urging his orders by a nudge or two on Tom's elbow.
"Don't shove me, sir!" said Tom, rather angrily, "or by G--"
"Aisy, sir--aisy!" said the bailiff; "though I feel for the defficulties
of a gintleman, the caption must be made, sir. If you don't like the
pris'n, I have a nice little room o' my own, sir, where you can wait, for
a small consideration, until you get bail."
"I'll go there, then," said Tom. "Go through as private streets as you
"Give me half-a-guinea for my trouble, sir, and I'll ambulate you through
lanes every _fut_ o' the way."
"Very well," said Tom.
They now struck into a shabby street, and thence wended through stable
lanes, filthy alleys, up greasy broken steps, through one close, and down
steps in another--threaded dark passages whose debouchures were blocked up
with posts to prevent vehicular conveyance, the accumulated dirt of years
sensible to the tread from its lumpy unevenness, and the stagnant air rife
with pestilence. Tom felt increasing disgust at every step he proceeded,
but anything to him appeared better than being seen in the public streets
in such company; for, until they got into these labyrinths of nastiness,
Tom thought he saw in the looks of every passer-by, as plainly told as if
the words were spoken, "There goes a fellow under the care of the
bailiff." In these by-ways, he had not any objection to speak to his
companion, and for the first time asked him what he was arrested for.
"At the suit of Mr. M'Kail, sir."
"Oh! the tailor?" said Tom.
"Yes, sir," said the bailiff. "And if you would not consider it trifling
with the feelings of a gintleman in defficulties, I would make the playful
observation, sir, that it's quite in character to be arrested at the
_suit_ of a tailor. He! he! he!"
"You're a wag, I see," said Tom.
"Oh no, sir, only a poetic turn: a small affection I have certainly for
Judy Mot, but my rale passion is the muses. We are not far now, sir, from
my little bower of repose--which is the name I give my humble abode--
small, but snug, sir. You'll see another gintleman there, sir, before you.
He is waitin' for bail these three or four days, sir--can't pay as he
ought for the 'commodation, but he's a friend o' mine, I may almost say,
sir--a litherary gintleman--them litherary gintlemen is always in
defficulties mostly. I suppose you're a litherary gintleman, sir--though
you're rather ginteely dhressed for one?"
"No," said Tom, "I am not."
"I thought you wor, sir, by being acquainted with this other gintleman."
"An acquaintance of mine!" said Tom, with surprise.
"Yes, sir. In short it was through him I found out where you wor, sir. I
have had the wret agen you for some time, but couldn't make you off, till
my friend says I must carry a note from him to you."
"Where is the note?" inquired Tom.
"Not ready yet, sir. It's po'thry he's writin'--something 'pithy' he
said, and 'lame' too. I dunna how a thing could be pithy and lame
together, but them potes has hard words at command."
"Then you came away without the note?"
"Yis, sir. As soon as I found out where you wor stopping I ran off
directly on Mr. M'Kail's little business. You'll excuse the liberty, sir;
but we must all mind our professions; though, indeed, sir, if you b'lieve
me, I'd rather nab a rhyme than a gintleman any day; and if I could get on
the press I'd quit the shoulder-tapping profession."
Tom cast an eye of wonder on the bailiff, which the latter comprehended at
once; for with habitual nimbleness he could nab a man's thoughts as fast
as his person. "I know what you're thinkin', sir--could one of my
profession pursue the muses? Don't think, sir, I mane I could write the
'laders' or the pollitik'l articles, but the criminal cases, sir--the
robberies and offinces--with the watchhouse cases--together with a little
po'thry now and then. I think I could be useful, sir, and do better than
some of the chaps that pick up their ha'pence that way. But here's my
place, sir--my little bower of repose."
He knocked at the door of a small tumble-down house in a filthy lane, the
one window it presented in front being barred with iron. Some bolts were
drawn inside, and though the man who opened the door was forbidding in his
aspect, he did not refuse to let Tom in. The portal was hastily closed and
bolted after they had entered. The smell of the house was pestilential--
the entry dead dark.
"Give me your hand, sir," said the bailiff, leading Tom forward. They
ascended some creaking stairs, and the bailiff, fumbling for some time
with a key at a door, unlocked it and shoved it open, and then led in his
captive. Tom saw a shabby-genteel sort of person, whose back was towards
him, directing a letter.
"Ah, Goggins!" said the writer, "you're come back in the nick of time. I
have finished now, and you may take the letter to Mister Durfy."
"You may give it to him yourself, sir," replied Goggins, "for here he is."
"Indeed!" said the writer, turning round.
"What!" exclaimed Tom Durfy, in surprise; "James Reddy!"
"Even so," said James, with a sentimental air:
"'The paths of glory lead but to the grave.'
Literature is a bad trade, my dear Tom!--'tis an ungrateful world--men of
the highest aspirations may lie in gaol for all the world cares; not that
you come within the pale of the worthless ones; this is good-natured of
you to come and see a friend in trouble. You deserve, my dear Tom, that
you should have been uppermost in my thoughts; for here is a note I have
just written to you, enclosing a copy of verses to you on your marriage
--in short, it is an epithalamium."
"That's what I told you, sir," said Goggins to Tom.
"May the divil burn you and your epithalamium!" said Tom Durfy, stamping
round the little room.
James Reddy stared in wonder, and Goggins roared, laughing.
"A pretty compliment you've paid me, Mister Reddy, this fine morning,"
said Tom; "you tell a bailiff where I live, that you may send your
infernal verses to me, and you get me arrested."
"Oh, murder!" exclaimed James. "I'm very sorry, my dear Tom; but, at the
same time, 't is a capital incident! How it would work up in a farce!"
"How funny it is!" said Tom in a rage, eyeing James as if he could have
eaten him. "Bad luck to all poetry and poetasters! By the 'tarnal war, I
wish every poet, from Homer down, was put into a mortar and pounded to
James poured forth expressions of sorrow for the mischance; and extremely
ludicrous it was to see one man making apologies for trying to pay his
friend a compliment; his friend swearing at him for his civility, and the
bailiff grinning at them both.
In this triangular dilemma we will leave them for the present.
Edward O'Connor, on hearing from Gustavus of the old dowager's
disappearance from Neck-or-Nothing Hall, joined in the eager inquiries
which were made about her; and _his_ being directed with more method
and judgment than those of others, their result was more satisfactory. He
soon "took up the trail," to use an Indian phrase, and he and Gusty were
not many hours in posting after the old lady. They arrived in town early
in the morning, and lost no time in casting about for information.
One of the first places Edward inquired at was the inn where the
postchaise generally drove to from the house where the old dowager had
obtained her carriage in the country; but there no trace was to be had.
Next, the principal hotels were referred to, but as yet without success;
when, as they turned into one of the leading streets in continuance of
their search, their attention was attracted by a crowd swaying to and fro
in that peculiar manner which indicates there is a fight inside of it.
Great excitement prevailed on the verge of the crowd, where exclamations
escaped from those who could get a peep at the fight.
"The little chap has great heart!" cried one.
"But the sweep is the biggest," said another.
"Well done, _Horish_!" [Footnote: The name of a celebrated sweep in
Ireland, whose name is applied to the whole.] cried a blackguard, who
enjoyed the triumph of his fellow. "Bravo! little fellow," rejoined a
genteel person, who rejoiced in some successful hit of the other
combatant. There is an inherent love in men to see a fight, which Edward
O'Connor shared with inferior men; and if _he_ had not peeped into
the ring, most assuredly Gusty would. What was their astonishment, when
they got a glimpse of the pugilists, to perceive Ratty was one of them--
his antagonist being a sweep, taller by a head, and no bad hand at the
Edward's first impulse was to separate them, but Gusty requested he would
not, saying that he saw by Ratty's eye he was able to "lick the fellow."
Ratty certainly showed great fight; what the sweep had in superior size
was equalized by the superior "game" of the gentleman-boy, to whom the
indomitable courage of a high-blooded race had descended, and who would
sooner have died than yield. Besides, Ratty was not deficient in the use
of his "bunch of fives," hit hard for his size, and was very agile: the
sweep sometimes made a rush, grappled, and got a fall; but he never went
in without getting something from Ratty to "remember him," and was not
always uppermost. At last, both were so far punished, and the combat not
being likely to be speedily ended (for the sweep was no craven), that the
bystanders interfered, declaring that "they ought to be separated," and
While the crowd was dispersing, Edward called a coach; and before Ratty
could comprehend how the affair was managed, he was shoved into it and
driven from the scene of action. Ratty had a confused sense of hearing
loud shouts--of being lifted somewhere--of directions given--the rattle
of iron steps clinking sharply--two or three fierce bangs of a door that
wouldn't shut, and then an awful shaking, which roused him up from the
corner of the vehicle into which he had fallen in the first moment of
exhaustion. Ratty "shook his feathers," dragged his hair from out
of his eyes, which were getting very black indeed, and applied his
handkerchief to his nose, which was much in need of that delicate
attention; and when the sense of perfect vision was restored to him, which
was not for some time (all the colours of the rainbow dancing before
Ratty's eyes for many seconds after the fight), what was his surprise to
see Edward O'Connor and Gusty sitting on the opposite seat!
It was some time before Ratty could quite comprehend his present
situation; but as soon as he was made sensible of it, and could answer,
the first questions asked of him were about his grandmother. Ratty
fortunately remembered the name of the hotel where she put up, though he
had left it as soon as the old lady proceeded to the Castle--had lost his
way--and got engaged in a quarrel with a sweep in the meantime.
The coach was ordered to drive to the hotel named; and how the fight
occurred was the next question.
"The sweep was passing by, and I called him 'snow-ball,'" said Ratty; "and
the blackguard returned an impudent answer, and I hit him."
"You had no right to call him 'snow-ball,'" said Edward.
"I always called the sweeps 'snow-ball' down at the Hall," said Ratty,
"and they never answered."
"When you are on your own territory you may say what you please to your
dependents, Ratty, and they dare not answer; or to use a vulgar saying, 'A
cock may crow on his own dunghill.'"
"I'm no dunghill cock!" said Ratty, fiercely.
"Indeed, you're not," said Edward, laying his hand kindly on the boy's
shoulder; "you have plenty of courage."
"I'd have licked him," said Ratty, "if they'd have let me have two or
three rounds more."
"My dear boy, other things are needful in this world besides courage.
Prudence, temper, and forbearance are required; and this may be a
lesson to you, to remember, that, when you get abroad in the world,
you are very little cared about, however great your consequence may
be at home; and I am sure you cannot be proud about your having got
into a quarrel _with a sweep_."
Ratty made no answer--his blood began to cool--he became every moment more
sensible that he had received heavy blows. His eyes became more swollen,
he snuffled more in his speech, and his blackened condition altogether,
from gutter, soot, and thrashing, convinced him a fight with a sweep was
_not_ an enviable achievement.
The coach drew up at the hotel. Edward left Gusty to see about the
dowager, and made an appointment for Gusty to meet him at their own
lodgings in an hour; while he in the interim should call on Dick Dawson,
who was in town on his way to London.
Edward shook hands with Ratty and bade him kindly good bye. "You're a
stout fellow, Ratty," said he, "but remember this old saying,
'_Quarrelsome dogs get dirty coats_.'"
Edward now proceeded to Dick's lodgings, and found him engaged in reading
a note from Tom Durfy, dated from the "Bower of Repose," and requesting
Dick's aid in his present difficulty.
"Here's a pretty kettle of fish," said Dick: "Tom Durfy, who is engaged to
dine with me to-day to take leave of his bachelor life, as he is going to
be married to-morrow, is arrested, and now in _quod_, and wants me to
"The shortest way is to pay the money at once," said Edward; "is it much?"
"That I don't know; but I have not a great deal about me, and what I have
I want for my journey to London and my expenses there--not but what I'd
help Tom if I could."
"He must not be allowed to remain _there_, however we manage to get
him out," said Edward; "perhaps I can help you in the affair."
"You're always a good fellow, Ned," said Dick, shaking his hand warmly.
Edward escaped from hearing any praise of himself by proposing they should
repair at once to the sponging-house, and see how matters stood. Dick
lamented he should be called away at such a moment, for he was just going
to get his wine ready for the party--particularly some champagne, which he
was desirous of seeing well iced; but as he could not wait to do it
himself, he called Andy, to give him directions about it, and set off with
Edward to the relief of Tom Durfy.
Andy was once more in service in the Egan family; for the Squire, on
finding him still more closely linked by his marriage with the desperate
party whose influence over Andy was to be dreaded, took advantage of
Andy's disgust against the woman who had entrapped him, and offered to
take him off to London instead of enlisting; and as Andy believed he would
be there sufficiently out of the way of the false Bridget, he came off at
once to Dublin with Dick, who was the pioneer of the party to London.
Dick gave Andy the necessary directions for icing the champagne, which he