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The Purcell Papers, Volume 3 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Part 4 out of 4

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Well, who should he fall in wid, in that
childish condition, as he was deploying
along the road almost as straight as the
letter S, an' cursin' the girls, an' roarin' for
more whisky, but the recruiting-sargent iv
the Welsh Confusileers.

So, cute enough, the sargent begins to
convarse him, an' it was not long until he
had him sitting in Murphy's public-house,
wid an elegant dandy iv punch before
him, an' the king's money safe an' snug
in the lowest wrinkle of his breeches-pocket.

So away wid him, and the dhrums and
fifes playing, an' a dozen more unforthunate
bliggards just listed along with him, an'
he shakin' hands wid the sargent, and
swearin' agin the women every minute,
until, be the time he kem to himself,
begorra, he was a good ten miles on the
road to Dublin, an' Molly and all behind

It id be no good tellin' you iv the letters
he wrote to her from the barracks there,
nor how she was breaking her heart to go
and see him just wanst before he'd go; but
the father an' mother would not allow iv it
be no manes.

An' so in less time than you'd be thinkin'
about it, the colonel had him polished off
into it rale elegant soger, wid his gun
exercise, and his bagnet exercise, and his
small sword, and broad sword, and pistol
and dagger, an' all the rest, an' then away
wid him on boord a man-a-war to furrin
parts, to fight for King George agin Bonyparty,
that was great in them times.

Well, it was very soon in everyone's
mouth how Billy Malowney was batin' all
before him, astonishin' the ginerals, an
frightenin' the inimy to that degree, there
was not a Frinchman dare say parley voo
outside of the rounds iv his camp.

You may be sure Molly was proud iv
that same, though she never spoke a word
about it; until at last the news kem home
that Billy Malowney was surrounded an'
murdered by the Frinch army, under Napoleon
Bonyparty himself. The news was
brought by Jack Brynn Dhas, the peddlar,
that said he met the corporal iv the regiment
on the quay iv Limerick, an' how he brought
him into a public-house and thrated him to
a naggin, and got all the news about poor
Billy Malowney out iv him while they
war dhrinkin' it; an' a sorrowful story it

The way it happened, accordin' as the
corporal tould him, was jist how the Jook
iv Wellington detarmined to fight a rale
tarin' battle wid the Frinch, and Bonyparty
at the same time was aiqually detarmined
to fight the divil's own scrimmidge wid the
British foorces.

Well, as soon as the business was pretty
near ready at both sides, Bonyparty and the
general next undher himself gets up behind
a bush, to look at their inimies through spy-
glasses, and thry would they know any iv
them at the distance.

'Bedadad!' says the gineral, afther a divil
iv a long spy, 'I'd bet half a pint,' says he,
'that's Bill Malowney himself,' says he,
'down there,' says he.

'Och!' says Bonypart, 'do you tell me
so?' says he--'I'm fairly heart-scalded
with that same Billy Malowney,' says
he; 'an' I think if I was wanst shut
iv him I'd bate the rest iv them aisy,'
says he.

'I'm thinking so myself,' says the
gineral, says he; 'but he's a tough bye,'
says he.

'Tough!' says Bonypart, 'he's the divil,'
says he.

'Begorra, I'd be better plased.' says the
gineral, says he, 'to take himself than
the Duke iv Willinton,' says he, 'an'
Sir Edward Blakeney into the bargain,'
says he.

'The Duke of Wellinton and Gineral
Blakeney,' says Bonypart, 'is great for
planning, no doubt,' says he; 'but Billy
Malowney's the boy for ACTION,' says he--
'an' action's everything, just now,' says

So wid that Bonypart pushes up his
cocked hat, and begins scratching his
head, and thinning and considherin' for
the bare life, and at last says he to the

'Gineral Commandher iv all the Foorces,'
says he, 'I've hot it,' says he: 'ordher out
the forlorn hope,' says he, 'an' give them as
much powdher, both glazed and blasting,'
says he, 'an' as much bullets do ye mind,
an' swan-dhrops an' chain-shot,' says he,
'an' all soorts iv waipons an' combustables
as they can carry; an' let them surround
Bill Malowney,' says he, 'an' if they can
get any soort iv an advantage,' says he,
'let them knock him to smithereens,' says
he, 'an' then take him presner,' says he;
'an' tell all the bandmen iv the Frinch
army,' says he, 'to play up "Garryowen,"
to keep up their sperits,' says he, 'all the
time they're advancin'. An' you may
promise them anything you like in my
name,' says he; for, by my sowl, I
don't think its many iv them 'ill come
back to throuble us,' says he, winkin' at

So away with the gineral, an' he ordhers
out the forlorn hope, all' tells the band
to play, an' everything else, just as Bonypart
desired him. An' sure enough, whin
Billy Malowney heerd the music where he
was standin' taking a blast of the dhudheen
to compose his mind for murdherin' the
Frinchmen as usual, being mighty partial
to that tune intirely, he cocks his ear a
one side, an' down he stoops to listen to
the music; but, begorra, who should be
in his rare all the time but a Frinch
grannideer behind a bush, and seeing him
stooped in a convanient forum, bedad he
let flies at him sthraight, and fired him right
forward between the legs an' the small iv
the back, glory be to God! with what
they call (saving your presence) a bum-shell.

Well, Bill Malowney let one roar out
iv him, an' away he rowled over the field
iv battle like a slitther (as Bonypart
and the Duke iv Wellington, that was
watching the manoeuvres from a distance,
both consayved) into glory.

An' sure enough the Frinch was overjoyed
beyant all bounds, an' small blame
to them--an' the Duke of Wellington,
I'm toult, was never all out the same
man sinst.

At any rate, the news kem home how
Billy Malowney was murdhered by the
Frinch in furrin parts.

Well, all this time, you may be sure,
there was no want iv boys comin' to
coort purty Molly Donovan; but one
way ar another, she always kept puttin'
them off constant. An' though her father
and mother was nathurally anxious to get
rid of her respickably, they did not
like to marry her off in spite iv her

An' this way, promising one while and
puttin' it off another, she conthrived to
get on from one Shrove to another, until
near seven years was over and gone from
the time when Billy Malowney listed for
furrin sarvice.

It was nigh hand a year from the time
whin the news iv Leum-a-rinka bein' killed
by the Frinch came home, an' in place
iv forgettin' him, as the saisins wint over,
it's what Molly was growin' paler and
more lonesome every day, antil the neighbours
thought she was fallin' into a
decline; and this is the way it was
with her whin the fair of Lisnamoe kem

It was a beautiful evenin', just at
the time iv the reapin' iv the oats, and
the sun was shinin' through the red
clouds far away over the hills iv Cahirmore.

Her father an' mother, an' the boys an'
girls, was all away down in the fair, and
Molly Sittin' all alone on the step of the
stile, listening to the foolish little birds
whistlin' among the leaves--and the sound
of the mountain-river flowin' through the
stones an' bushes--an' the crows flyin'
home high overhead to the woods iv
Glinvarlogh--an' down in the glen, far away,
she could see the fair-green iv Lisnamoe
in the mist, an' sunshine among the grey
rocks and threes--an' the cows an' the
horses, an' the blue frieze, an' the red
cloaks, an' the tents, an' the smoke, an'
the ould round tower--all as soft an' as
sorrowful as a dhrame iv ould times.

An' while she was looking this way,
an' thinking iv Leum-a-rinka--poor Bill
iv the dance, that was sleepin' in his
lonesome glory in the fields iv Spain--she
began to sing the song he used to like so
well in the ould times--

'Shule, shule, shale a-roon;'

an' when she ended the verse, what do
you think but she heard a manly voice just
at the other side iv the hedge, singing
the last words over again!

Well she knew it; her heart flutthered
up like a little bird that id be wounded,
and then dhropped still in her breast.
It was himself. In a minute he was
through the hedge and standing before

'Leum!' says she.

'Mavourneen cuishla machree!' says he;
and without another word they were locked
in one another's arms.

Well, it id only be nansinse for me
thryin' an' tell ye all the foolish things
they said, and how they looked in one
another's faces, an' laughed, an' cried, an'
laughed again; and how, when they came
to themselves, and she was able at last to
believe it was raly Billy himself that was
there, actially holdin' her hand, and lookin'
in her eyes the same way as ever, barrin'
he was browner and boulder, an' did not,
maybe, look quite as merry in himself
as he used to do in former times--an'
fondher for all, an' more lovin' than ever
--how he tould her all about the wars
wid the Frinchmen--an' how he was
wounded, and left for dead in the field iv
battle, bein' shot through the breast, and
how he was discharged, an' got a pinsion
iv a full shillin' a day--and how he was come
back to liv the rest iv his days in the
sweet glen iv Lisnamoe, an' (if only SHE'D
consint) to marry herself in spite iv them

Well, ye may aisily think they had plinty
to talk about, afther seven years without
once seein' one another; and so signs on,
the time flew by as swift an' as pleasant as
a bird on the wing, an' the sun wint down,
an' the moon shone sweet an' soft instead,
an' they two never knew a ha'porth about
it, but kept talkin' an' whisperin', an'
whisperin' an' talkin'; for it's wondherful how
often a tinder-hearted girl will bear to hear
a purty boy tellin' her the same story constant
over an' over; ontil at last, sure
enough, they heerd the ould man himself
comin' up the boreen, singin' the 'Colleen
Rue'--a thing he never done barrin' whin
he had a dhrop in; an' the misthress walkin'
in front iv him, an' two illigant Kerry
cows he just bought in the fair, an'
the sarvint boys dhriving them behind.

'Oh, blessed hour!' says Molly, 'here's
my father.'

'I'll spake to him this minute,' says

'Oh, not for the world,' says she; 'he's
singin' the "Colleen Rue," ' says she,
'and no one dar raison with him,' says

'An' where 'll I go, thin?' says he, 'for
they're into the haggard an top iv us,' says
he, 'an' they'll see me iv I lep through the
hedge,' says he.

'Thry the pig-sty,' says she, 'mavourneen,'
says she, 'in the name iv God,' says

'Well, darlint,' says he, 'for your sake,'
says he, 'I'll condescend to them animals,'
says he.

An' wid that he makes a dart to get in;
bud, begorra, it was too late--the pigs was
all gone home, and the pig-sty was as full
as the Burr coach wid six inside.

'Och! blur-an'-agers,' says he, 'there is
not room for a suckin'-pig,' says he, 'let
alone a Christian,' says he.

'Well, run into the house, Billy,' says
she, 'this minute,' says she, 'an' hide yourself
antil they're quiet,' says she, 'an' thin
you can steal out,' says she, 'anknownst to
them all,' says she.

'I'll do your biddin', says he, 'Molly
asthore,' says he.

'Run in thin,' says she, 'an' I'll go an'
meet them,' says she.

So wid that away wid her, and in wint
Billy, an' where 'id he hide himself bud
in a little closet that was off iv the
room where the ould man and woman
slep'. So he closed the doore, and sot
down in an ould chair he found there convanient.

Well, he was not well in it when all the
rest iv them comes into the kitchen, an' ould
Tim Donovan singin' the 'Colleen Rue'
for the bare life, an' the rest iv them
sthrivin' to humour him, and doin'
exactly everything he bid them, because
they seen he was foolish be the manes iv
the liquor.

Well, to be sure all this kep' them long
enough, you may be sure, from goin' to
bed, so that Billy could get no manner iv
an advantage to get out iv the house, and so
he sted sittin' in the dark closet in state,
cursin' the 'Colleen Rue,' and wondherin'
to the divil whin they'd get the ould man
into his bed. An', as if that was not delay
enough, who should come in to stop for the
night but Father O'Flaherty, of Cahirmore,
that was buyin' a horse at the fair! An' av
course, there was a bed to be med down for
his raverence, an' some other attintions; an'
a long discoorse himself an' ould Mrs.
Donovan had about the slaughter iv Billy
Malowney, an' how he was buried on the
field iv battle; an' his raverence hoped he
got a dacent funeral, an' all the other
convaniences iv religion. An' so you may
suppose it was pretty late in the night before
all iv them got to their beds.

Well, Tim Donovan could not settle to
sleep at all at all, an' so he kep' discoorsin'
the wife about the new cows he bought,
an' the stripphers he sould, an' so an for
better than an hour, ontil from one thing to
another he kem to talk about the pigs, an'
the poulthry; and at last, having nothing
betther to discoorse about, he begun at his
daughter Molly, an' all the heartscald she
was to him be raison iv refusin' the men.
An' at last says he:

'I onderstand,' says he, 'very well how
it is,' says he. 'It's how she was in love,'
says he, 'wid that bliggard, Billy Malowney,'
says he, 'bad luck to him!' says he; for
by this time he was coming to his raison.

'Ah!' says the wife, says she, 'Tim
darlint, don't be cursin' them that's dead
an' buried,' says she.

'An' why would not I,' says he, 'if
they desarve it?' says he.

'Whisht,' says she, 'an' listen to that,'
says she. 'In the name of the Blessed
Vargin,' says she, 'what IS it?' says

An' sure enough what was it but Bill
Malowney that was dhroppin' asleep in the
closet, an' snorin' like a church organ.

'Is it a pig,' says he, 'or is it a

'Arra! listen to the tune iv it,' says
she; 'sure a pig never done the like is
that,' says she.

'Whatever it is,' says he, 'it's in the
room wid us,' says he. 'The Lord be
marciful to us!' says he.

'I tould you not to be cursin',' says
she; 'bad luck to you,' says she, 'for an
ommadhaun!' for she was a very religious
woman in herself.

'Sure, he's buried in Spain,' says he;
'an' it is not for one little innocent
expression,' says he, 'he'd be comin' all that
a way to annoy the house,' says he.

Well, while they war talkin', Bill turns
in the way he was sleepin' into an aisier
imposture; and as soon as he stopped
snorin' ould Tim Donovan's courage riz
agin, and says he:

'I'll go to the kitchen,' says he, 'an'
light a rish,' says he.

An' with that away wid him, an' the
wife kep' workin' the beads all the time,
an' before he kem back Bill was snorin' as
loud as ever.

'Oh! bloody wars--I mane the blessed
saints about us!--that deadly sound,' says
he; 'it's going on as lively as ever,'
says he.

'I'm as wake as a rag,' says his wife,
says she, 'wid the fair anasiness,' says
she. 'It's out iv the little closet it's
comin,' says she.

'Say your prayers,' says he, 'an' hould
your tongue,' says he, 'while I discoorse
it,' says he. 'An' who are ye,' says he,
'in the name iv of all the holy saints?'
says he, givin' the door a dab iv a crusheen
that wakened Bill inside. 'I ax,' says he,
'who are you?' says he.

Well, Bill did not rightly remember
where in the world he was, but he pushed
open the door, an' says he:

'Billy Malowney's my name,' says he,
'an' I'll thank ye to tell me a betther,'
says he.

Well, whin Tim Donovan heard that, an'
actially seen that it was Bill himself that
was in it, he had not strength enough to
let a bawl out iv him, but he dhropt the
candle out iv his hand, an' down wid himself
on his back in the dark.

Well, the wife let a screech you'd hear at
the mill iv Killraghlin, an'--

'Oh,' says she, 'the spirit has him,
body an' bones!' says she. 'Oh, holy St.
Bridget--oh, Mother iv Marcy--oh, Father
O'Flaherty!' says she, screechin' murdher
from out iv her bed.

Well, Bill Malowney was not a minute
remimberin' himself, an' so out wid him
quite an' aisy, an' through the kitchen;
bud in place iv the door iv the house,
it's what he kem to the door iv Father
O'Flaherty's little room, where he was jist
wakenin' wid the noise iv the screechin'
an' battherin'; an' bedad, Bill makes no
more about it, but he jumps, wid one
boult, clever an' clane into his raverance's

'What do ye mane, you uncivilised
bliggard?' says his raverance. 'Is that a
venerable way,' says he, 'to approach your
clargy?' says he.

'Hould your tongue,' says Bill, 'an' I'll
do ye no harum,' says he.

'Who are you, ye scoundhrel iv the
world?' says his raverance.

'Whisht!' says he? 'I'm Billy Malowney,'
says he.

'You lie!' says his raverance for he
was frightened beyont all bearin'--an' he
makes but one jump out iv the bed at the
wrong side, where there was only jist a
little place in the wall for a press, an' his
raverance could not as much as turn in
it for the wealth iv kingdoms. 'You lie,'
says he; 'but for feared it's the truth
you're tellin',' says he, 'here's at ye in the
name iv all the blessed saints together!'
says he.

An' wid that, my dear, he blazes away
at him wid a Latin prayer iv the strongest
description, an', as he said himself afterwards,
that was iv a nature that id dhrive
the divil himself up the chimley like a
puff iv tobacky smoke, wid his tail betune
his legs.

'Arra, what are ye sthrivin' to say,' says
Bill; says he, 'if ye don't hould your
tongue,' says he, 'wid your parly voo;'
says he, 'it's what I'll put my thumb on
your windpipe,' says he, 'an' Billy
Malowney never wint back iv his word yet,'
says he.

'Thundher-an-owns,' says his raverance,
says he--seein' the Latin took no infect on
him, at all at all an' screechin' that you'd
think he'd rise the thatch up iv the house
wid the fair fright--'and thundher and
blazes, boys, will none iv yes come here
wid a candle, but lave your clargy to be
choked by a spirit in the dark?' says he.

Well, be this time the sarvint boys and
the rest iv them wor up an' half dressed,
an' in they all run, one on top iv another,
wid pitchforks and spades, thinkin' it was
only what his raverence slep' a dhrame iv
the like, by means of the punch he was
afther takin' just before he rowl'd himself
into the bed. But, begorra, whin they seen
it was raly Bill Malowney himself that was
in it, it was only who'd be foremost out
agin, tumblin' backways, one over another,
and his raverence roarin' an' cursin' them
like mad for not waitin' for him.

Well, my dear, it was betther than half
an hour before Billy Malowney could
explain to them all how it raly was himself,
for begorra they were all iv them persuadin'
him that he was a spirit to that degree
it's a wondher he did not give in to it, if
it was only to put a stop to the argiment.

Well, his raverence tould the ould people
then, there was no use in sthrivin' agin the
will iv Providence an' the vagaries iv love
united; an' whin they kem to undherstand
to a sartinty how Billy had a shillin' a day
for the rest iv his days, begorra they took
rather a likin' to him, and considhered at
wanst how he must have riz out of all his
nansinse entirely, or his gracious Majesty
id never have condescinded to show him
his countenance that way every day of his
life, on a silver shillin'.

An' so, begorra, they never stopt till it
was all settled--an' there was not sich a
weddin' as that in the counthry sinst. It's
more than forty years ago, an' though I
was no more nor a gossoon myself, I
remimber it like yestherday. Molly never
looked so purty before, an' Billy Malowney
was plisant beyont all hearin,' to that degree
that half the girls in it was fairly tarin'
mad--only they would not let on--they
had not him to themselves in place iv her.
An' begorra I'd be afeared to tell ye,
because you would not believe me, since
that blessid man Father Mathew put an
end to all soorts of sociality, the Lord
reward him, how many gallons iv pottieen
whisky was dhrank upon that most solemn
and tindher occasion.

Pat Hanlon, the piper, had a faver out
iv it; an' Neddy Shawn Heigue, mountin'
his horse the wrong way, broke his collar-
bone, by the manes iv fallin' over his tail
while he was feelin' for his head; an'
Payther Brian, the horse-docther, I am
tould, was never quite right in the head
ever afther; an' ould Tim Donovan was
singin' the 'Colleen Rue' night and day
for a full week; an' begorra the weddin'
was only the foundation iv fun, and the
beginning iv divarsion, for there was not
a year for ten years afther, an' more, but
brought round a christenin' as regular as
the sasins revarted.

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