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A STAGE-COACH STORY. ANON.
IN all the changes which have taken Fo in this changeable world, since I lad the pleasure of making acquaintance with it, the greatest is in travelling. When I was a youngster, I remember my father, who was Mayor of Cork in the year of grace '97, setting out for Dublin with the address from the Corporation of that loyal city to the Viceroy of the day. I remember it as it were but yesterday. It was thought at that time to be a great journey, and the leave-taking of friends and relatives was not without tears. They took two days to reach Limerick; on the third they proceeded to Tullamoore, where they slept; and on the fourth, taking ship in the canal boat, ho arrived in the metropolis late at night. But nowa-days, what between railroad and steamcoaches, men go— The old gentleman gave a sweep of his hand from his breast till he stretched it at arm's length, and then let it drop by his side. How wonderful is the eloquence of action | Words were invented but to help it out. I have seen an Italian gather up the points of his fingers till his hand looked like a pineapple, and shake it with a grimace that would have done honor to an ape. I have seen a Frenchman elevate his shoulders till he endangered his ears; but old Moonshine's motion was altogether in a great scale. It was magnificent; it was natural—such as I should suppose Adam to have made to Eve when he showed her the world was all before them. The very form of expression was grand; it was incomplete; it savored somewhat of infinity. “Men go,” said he, with a wave of his hand—had he said “to the ends of the earth” it would have been nothing. After a moment's pause, the narrator proceeded: “I shall never forget my first journey from Limerick to Dublin. A day-coach had been established, which was considered a marvel of celerity. It left Swinburne's hotel early in the morning, and contrived to accomplish half of the journey that day, arriving late in the evening at Mountrath, where the travellers slept, whence, starting next morning, after an early breakfast, it entered the
metropolis by the light of the old oil lamps, upon the second day. You may yet see the old roadside inn a little way outside the town of Mountrath—a large, high house, retired a short way from the road, having a spacious sweep of gravelled space before it, and a multitude of windows; but, alas ! it is now falling fast into decay; and one never sees the bustling face of the white-aproned waiter standing at the door, or hears the crack of the postilion's whip as he leads out his posters to horse a gentleman's travellingcarriage. “Well, all that is past and gone. On the second day of our journey, we had all assembled drowsily in the parlor, which smelled villanously of the preceding night's supper, and had sat down to our hurried breakfast. By the time we had half finished our meal, a car drove up to the door, and in a few moments after, a entleman entered in a large drab traveling coat, with half-a-dozen capes, and a huge red shawl wound around his neck. He deposited a travelling-case leisurely on the sideboard, and then looked keenly around him. The survey did not seem to give him much gratification. The eggs had all disappeared, and the cold beef was in a very dilapidated condition. However, he sat down, took off his coat and shawl, and addressed himself to the cold meat like a hungry man. The waiter made his appearance. “Just five minutes more, gentlemen; the horses are putting to.” The traveller looked up quietly. He was not a man to be put out of his way. He ordered some eggs, and desired the waiter to make fresh tea. “Are you going by the coach, sir?” inquired the attendant. “Yes, certainly,” was the reply, in an English accent (he was a traveller from a London house,) “but I must have my breakfast first; so, be quick, will you?” The waiter left the room, and immediately after we heard the fellow telling the guard to be expeditious; an exhortation to which that worthy responded by a clamorous blast of his horn that made us all start from our seats, and hurry out of the room, leaving the English gentleman alone to finish his breakfast, which, to do him justice, he seemed by no means diso to neglect. The waiter, meantime, rought in the tea, and retired: but was ringing of the bell. “A spoon, please,” said the gentleman. The waiter advanced to the table to procure the article, but, to his astonishment, there was not a spoon to be seen; nay, even those which had been in the cups had all disappeared. “Blessed Virgin so ejaculated the dismayed attendant, “what's become of all the spoons?” “That's just what I want to know, you blockhead,” said the other. “Two dozen and a half—real silver,” cried Tom. “I want only one,” said the gentleman. “Haven't you a spoon in your establishment, my man?” Tom made no reply, but rushed distractedly out of the room, and running up to the coachman, cried out, “stop, Dempsey, for the love of Heaven s” “All right !” said Dempsey, with a twirl of his whip, gathering up the reins and preparing to start—for we had all taken our places. “'Tisn't all right,” cried Tom, “where are the spoons?” “What spoons? Arrah! don't be bothering us, man; and we five minutes behind time. Joey, hold that off-leader's head, till she goes on a bit.” By this time, the master of the inn had come out to learn what all the hubbub was about. Tom, half blubbering, poor fellow, made him acquainted with the
apeedily summoned back by a vigorous hysteries when the inn-keeper opened the
fact, that all his silver spoons had vanish
ed. The landlord cried out “robbery!” the housemaids screamed out “murder!” and a variety of other exclamations, too dreadful to contemplate. When silence was restored, the inn-keeper insisted on stopping the coach till he ascertained if the report of Tom was true. Ere many moments he returned, as pale as ghost, and said— “Gentlemen, I'm sorry to trouble you; but I must beg you'll come down, till a search is made for my property. Tom, here, will swear that there was a spoon in every tea-cup this morning as usualwon't you, Tom?” “Be-dad, I'll take my Bible-oath of that same, sure enough,” replied Tom; “and sure I didn't swallow them.” The passengers all indignantly refused to submit to the search proposed by the landlord. An old lady inside went offin
door, and proposed to turn her pockets inside out. There was an officer with a wooden leg on the box-seat, who swore in the most awful manner, that he would run the first man through the body that attempted to lay a hand on him—by the way, he hadn't a sword, but he forgot that in his fury. There was a justice of the o for the county, who protested that e would commit the host for contempt; and a Dublin attorney in the back-seat intimated his determination to indict Tom, who had laid hold of his leg, for an assault; and, moreover, to commence an action against his master for defamation. As I was but a youngster then, and the weakest of the party, the landlord chucked me down in a twinkling, and hauled me into the parlor, half j with fright; and thereupon the rest of the passengers, including the wooden-legged captain, scrambled down, and followed, determined to make common cause and protect me from insult with their lives, if necessary. And now we were all again in the breakfast-room, clamoring and remonstrating, while to add to the din, the guard kept up a continual brattle with his horn. All this time the English gentleman was steadily P.": his work upon the eggs and toast, with a cup of tea before him, which he was leisurely sipping, quite at his ease like. “What the deuce is the matter?” said he, looking up, “can't you let a man take his breakfast with comfort?” “The plate s” said the master. “The silver spoons!” cried the butler. “Robbery l’” shouted the mistress. “Murder!” etc., screamed the housemaids. “Search every one,” demanded the host; “come, let us begin with this young chap,” diving his hand into my breeches pocket. “I think,” said the English gentleman, cooly, “’twould be as well first to search the premises. Is the waiter long in your service?” “Fifteen years last Shrovetide, and I defy any, man to lay as much as the big of his nail to my charge.” By this time, the English gentleman had finished his breakfast, and, wiping his mouth most deliberately, he commenced to search the room. He opened everv drawer of the sideboard, then he looked under the table, then behind the windowshutters, but all in vain. After that, he stopped a moment to reflect, when a bright thought seemed to cross his mind, and he raised the lid of one of the teapots, but with as little success as before; neverthless, he continued his examination of the teaots, and when he come to the last, what o you think, but he thrust in his hand, and drew out first one spoon, and then another, till he laid a number of them on the table. Tom rushed up, and began to count—“Two, four, six,” till at length he exclaimed— o “May I never see glory but they're all right, everyone. The Lord be between us and harm, but this bangs all that ever I seen l’’ “I tell you what, my man,” said the entleman, looking sternly at the astonished waiter, “I strongly suspect you have been playing tricks upon your master. A nice haul you'd have had of it when the company was gone away ! I don't like the look of the fellow, I tell you,” he continued, addressing himself to the host; “and if it wasn't for the fortunate circumstances of my coming in a little late and wanting a spoon, you would have lost your property, sir. ou may count it a lucky day that I came to your house.” The landlord was struck dumb with am uzement; even the mistress hadn't a word to say, though she looked wickedly at poor Tom, and the housemaids began to cry and bless themselves. “Gentlemen,” proceeded the Englishyman, “I hope you will overlook the insult you have received; as, after all, the sandlord is not to be blamed ; and if he will insist on this blackguard waiter making an ample apology, I will take upon me to say for you all, that you will not take any proceedings.” All cheerfully expressed their assent to the proposition, except the attorney, who still muttered something about assault and defamation, which so terrified Tom that he most humbly entreated pardon of the whole company, though he still protested that he was innocent of the crime laid to his charge. “Gammon " said the gentleman; “but as you have made proper submission, and nothing has been lost, I shall make it a further condition with your master that we won't turn you adrift on the world with a thief's character, but give you an
opportunity of reforming. Keep a sharp eye on him, however, sir, I advise you. And now, gentlemen, I think we'd better be moving.” We *iuried out and took our places, the English gentleman getting up to the seat behind the coachman. Dempsey “threw the silk” into the horses; the o blew an impatient blast on his orn, and off we went at a slapping pace, the host bowing humbly to us until we were out of sight. “I’m driving on this road these ten years,” said Dempsey, when he slackened his pace up a hill; “and I never knew such a thing as that happen before.” “Very likely,” said the Englishman, quietly, “and never will again.” “I always thought Tom Reilly was as honest a fellow, man and boy, as any in the parish.” “I make no doubt he is,” replied the other; “he has a very honest countenance.” “I thought, sir,” said the captain, “you said you didn't like his look?” “Maybe I did say so,” was the reply. “And pray, sir, do you still think 'twas he hid the spoons?” “Not a bit of it.” “Then who the d–l did 2’’ “I did. Do you think I’m green enough to travel so cold a morning as this without having a comfortable breakfast 7” “Well,” said Dempsey, “ that's the house: trick I ever heard of in my ife.’ “Not bad,” replied the gentleman with great sang froid, “but it won't do to be repeated.” hen we arrived at Portalington, the gentleman—who, by the way, turned out to be a very pleasant fellow, and up to all sorts of life—got off the coach, and ordered his travelling-case to be taken into the 1Iln. “Do you stop here, sir?” asked the coachman. “Yes, for the present. I have a little business to do here, as well as at Mountrath.” The gentleman, having given the usual gratuity to the guard and coachman, and also a slip of paper to Dempsey, which he ão him to give to the host at Mountrath, passed into the inn; the coach drove on, and I never saw him again.
Dempsey having pocketed the shilling, looked at the paper with some curiosity, in which, to say the truth, we all shared. “There's no harm in reading it, as it is open,” said the Captain, taking it from Dempsey. They were a few lines, written in pencil, on the leaf of a pocket-book, and the Captain read them out—I remember them to this day:— “This is to certify that Tom Reilly put nothing in the teapot this mornin except hot water and sloe-leaves, an that the other ingredients, the spoons, were added by me, for the purpose of giving the composition some strength. I further certify that the said spoons are capital for making a “stir. ' ‘Given under my hand, “ELKANAH SMITHERS, JUN.”
You may be sure we all enjoyed this finish to the joke, and Dempsey forwarded the paper by the down coach, that poor Tom Reilly's character might be cleared with the least possible delay. Tom was fully oilo in the confidence of his employers; but the landlady had got such a fright that she determined that her silver spoons should never again be placed at the mercy of any traveller. Accordingly, she transferred them to the private part of the establishment, substituting for them in the public room a set of very neat pewter articles—there was no German silver or albata, or such things in those days— which, when cleaned, look nearly as well as silver. Many a time I stirred my tea at breakfast with one of them, and thought of “Elkanah Smithers, jun.”
A “PEEP" is a very abject and idiotic little bird found in New England. He is to the feathered what the “Scally wag” is to the finny creation. Occasionally when he is caught the housewives will condescend to put him into pies, but in general he is contemned, and “left out in the cold.” He is weak on the wing, and weaker on his legs; and when the miserable little object alights on earth, he is given to staggering about in an imbecile and helpless manner, suggesting the idea of extreme intoxication. The sharp New
England mind, ever on the look-out for similes, has long since indorsed the locution “as tight as a peep,” to express an utter state of tipsification. One of the best Yankee stories I ever heard is told, “ in this connection,” of Mr. Macready, the actor. Once when the great tragedian was starring at Boston, at the Howard Athenaeum I think, there happened to be in the stalls a gentleman who, like Roger the Monk, had got “excessively drunk.” His behaviour at last became so scandalous that he was forcibly expelled the theatre, not, however, before he had completely spoiled the effect of the “dagger” soliloquy in Macbeth. Mr. Macready was furious; and, the moment the act dro had descended, indignantly demande who was the wretched man who had thus marred the performance. “Don’t distress yourself, Mr. Macready,” explained the manager, “it is but an untoward accident. A little too much wine, and that sort of thing. The fact is, the Footle. man was “as tight as a peep.’” “Titus A. Peep. scornfully echoed the tragedian. “I’ll tell you what it is, sir. If Mr. Titus A. Peep had misconducted himself in this gross manner in any English theatre, he would have passed the night in the station-house.” Mr. Macready's error was excusable. He had been introduced to so many gentlemen with strings of initials to their names, that he had taken the bird meant by the management to be name of a human being; and it must be confessed that “Titus A. Peep" sounds very human and very American.
AN INGENIOUS EVASION.
Two literary ladies were lately witnesses in a trial. One of them upon hearing the usual questions asked, “What is your name? and how old are you?” turned to her companion and said, “I do not like to tell my age; not that I object to its o known, but I don't want it published in all the newspapers.” “Well,” said the witty Mrs. —, “I will tell you how you can avoid it. You have heard the objections to all hearsay evidence; tell them you don’t remember when you were born, and all you know about it is by hearsay.” The ruse took, and the question was not pressed.
To the wake of O'Connor Came lofty and low; To do him the honour No person was slow. Two nights was the waking, Till day began breaking, And frolics past spaking, To please him were done; For himself in the middle, With stick and with fiddle, so out at his ease was the King of the : Uln. With a dimity curtain overhead, And the corpse lights shining round his bed, Holding his fiddle and stick, and drest Top to toe in his Sunday best, For all the world he seem'd to be Playing on his back to the companiel On each of his sides was another light, On his legs the tobacco-pipes were piled; Cleanly washed in a shirt of white, His gray hair brushed, his beard trimmed right, He lay in the midst of his friends, and smiled. At birth and bedding, at fair and feast, Welcome as light or the smile of the priest, Ninety winters up and down O'Connor had fiddled in country and town. Never a fiddler was clever as he At dance or jig or pater-o'-pee; The sound of his fiddle no words could paint, 'Twould fright the devil or please a saint, Or bring the heart with a single skirl, To the very mouth of a boy or girl. He played—and his elbow was never done; He drank—and his lips were never dry; Ninety winters his life had run, But God's above and we all must die, As she stretched him out quoth Judy O'Roon, “Sure life's like his music and ended soon— There's dancing and crying, There's kissing, there's prying, There's smiling and sporting, There's wedding and courting, But the skirl of the wake is the end of the tune 1
“Shin, suas, O'Connor,”
With stick and with fiddle, All done with diversion, would never play more l
On the threshold, as each man entered there, He knelt on his knee and said a prayer; But first, before he took his seat Among the company there that night, He lifted a pipe from O'Connor's feet, And lit it up by the bright corpse-light. Chattering there in the cloud of smoke, They waked him well with song and joke; The gray old men and the cauliaghs told Of all his doings in days of old; The boys and girls, till night was done, Played their frolics and took their fun, And many a kiss was stolen sure Under the window and behind the door Andy Hagan and o Delane Hid in a corner and courted there, Monamondiou!!” cried old Tim Blane, Pointing them out, “they're a purty pair!” But when they blushed and hung the head, “Troth, never be shamed!” the old man said ; “Sure love's as short as the flowers in June, And life's like music and ended soon— There's wooing and wedding, There's birth and there's bedding, There's grief and there's pleasure To fill up the measure— But the skirl of the wake is the end of the tune 1”
At the wake of O'Connor
Great matches were made,
We joked and we played—
Before we were done,
As large as in life, was the King of the
“Well I remember,” said Tony Carduff,