« ElőzőTovább »
people, who incline to power, may venerate Justice more as the child of Jupiter and Themis; while the unruly worship her as the daughter of Titan and Aurora ; for undoubtedly the offspring of Aurora must be most welcome to “ Peep-'o-day boys."
Well,- not to indulge further in reverie,-Andy, I say, was locked up in the justice-room ; and, as I have been making all these observations about Justice, a few words will not be thrown away about the room which she was supposed to inhabit. Then I must say Squire O'Grady did not use her well. The room was a cold, comfortless apartment, with a plastered wall and an earthen floor, save at one end, where a raised platform of boards sustained a desk and one high office-chair. No other seat was in the room, nor was there any lateral window, the rooin being lighted from the top, so that Justice could be no way interested with the country outside-she could only contemplate her native heaven through the sky.light. Behind the desk were placed a rude shelf, where some “ modern instances," and old ones too, were lying covered with dust—and a gunrack, where some carbines with fixed bayonets were paraded in show of authority; so that, to an imaginative mind, the aspect of the books and the fire-arms gave the notion of Justice on the shelf, and Law on the rack.
But Andy thought not of those things ; he had not the imagination which sometimes gives a prisoner a passing pleasure in catching a whimsical conceit from his situation, and, in the midst of his anxiety, anticipating the satisfaction he shall have in saying a good thing, even at the expense of his own suffering. Andy only knew that he was locked up in the justice-room for something he never did. He had only sense enough to feel that he was wronged, without the spirit to wish himself righted ; and he sauntered up and down the cold, miserable room, anxiously awaiting the arrival of “his honour, Squire O'Grady," to know what would be done with him, and wondering if they could hang him for upsetting a post-chaise in which a gentleman had been riding, rather than brooding future means of redress for his false imprisonment. · There was no window to look out of–he had not the comfort of seeing a passing fellow-creature ; for the sight of one's kind is a com, fort. He could not even see the green earth and the freshness of nature, which, though all unconsciously, has still a soothing influence on the most uncultivated mind; he had nothing but the walls to look at, which were blank, save here and there that a burnt stick, in the hand of one of the young O'Gradys, emulated the art of a Sandwich islander, and sketched faces as grotesque as any pagan could desire for his idol; or figures, after the old well-established school-boy manner, which in the present day is called Persian painting, “ warranted to be taught in three lessons.” Now, this bespeaks degeneracy in the arts ; for in the time we write of, boys and girls acquired the art without any lessons at all, and abundant proofs of this intuitive talent existed on the aforesaid walls. Napoleon and Wellington were fighting a duel, while Nelson stood by to see fair play, he having nothing better to do, as the battle of Trafalgar, represented in the distance, could, of course, go on without him. The anachronism of jumbling Bonaparte, Wellington, and Nelson together, was a trifle amongst the O'Gradys, as they were nearly as great proficients in history, ancient and modern, as in the fine arts. Amidst these efforts of genius appeared many an old rhyme, scratched with rusty nails by rustier policemen, while lounging in the justice-room during the legal decisions of the great O'Grady; and all these were gone over again and again by Andy, till they were worn out, all but one, a rough representation of a man hanging.
This possessed a sort of fascination for poor Andy; for at last, relinquishing all others, he stood riveted before it, and muttered to himself, “ I wondher can they hang me-sure it's no murdher I done-but who knows what witnesses they might get ? and these times they sware mighty hard ; and Squire O'Grady has such a pack o' blackguards about him, sure he could get any thing swore he liked. Oh! wirra ! wirra! what 'll I do at all, at all—faix! I wouldn't like to be hangedoh ! look at him there—just the last kick in him—and a disgrace to my poor mother into the bargain. Augh !—but it's a dirty death to die -to be hung up, like a dog, over a gate, or an ould hat on a peg, just that-a-way;"_and he extended his arm as he spoke, suspending his caubeen, while he looked with disgust at the effigy. “But sure they can't hang me—though now I remember, Squire Egan towld me long ago I'd be hanged some day or other.— I wondher does my mother know I'm tuk away- and Oonah too: the craythur would be sorry for me. Maybe if the mother spoke to Squire Egan, his honour would say a good word for me. Though that wouldn't do ; for him and Squire O'Grady's bitther inimies now, though they wor once good frinds. Och hone!--sure that's the way o' the world ; and a cruel hard world it is—so it is. Sure 'twould be well to be out of it a’most, and in a betther world. I hope there's no po'-chaises in heaven!"
The soliloquy of poor Andy was interrupted by a low measured sound of thumping, which his accustomed ear at once distinguished to be the result of churning; the room in which he was confined being one of a range of offices stretching backward from the principal building, and next door to the dairy. Andy had grown tired by this time of his repeated contemplation of the rhymes and the sketches, his own thoughts thereon, and his long confinement; and now the monotonous sound of the churn-dash falling on his ear, acted as a sort of husho,* and the worried and wearied Andy at last lay down on the platform, and fell asleep to the bumping lullaby.
* The nurses' song for setting a child to sleep, which they pronounce softly, “ huzzho.
The sportsmen having returned from their fishing excursion to dinner, were seated round the hospitable board of Squire Eyan; Murphy and Dick in high glee, at still successfully hoodwinking Furlong, and carrying on their mystification with infinite frolic.
The soup had been removed, and they were in the act of enjoying the salmon, which had already given so much enjoyment, when a loud knocking at the door announced the arrival of some fresh guest.
“ Did you ask any one to dinner, my dear ?" inquired Mrs. Egan of her good-humoured lord, who was the very man to invite any friend he met in the course of the day, and forget it after.
“ No, my dear,” answered the Squire. “Did you, Dick ?" said he.
Dick replied in the negative, and said he had better go and see who it was; for looks of alarm had been exchanged between him, the Squire, and Murphy, lest any stranger should enter the room without being apprised of the hoax going forward; and Dawson had just reached the door, on his cautionary mission, when it was suddenly thrown wide open, and in walked, with a rapid step and bustling air, an active little gentleman dressed in black, who was at Mrs. Egan's side in a moment, exclaiming with a very audible voice and much empressement of manner,
“My dear Mrs. Egan, how do you do? I'm delighted to see you. Took a friend's privilege, you see, and have come unbidden to claim the hospitality of your table. The fact is, I was making a sick visit to this side of my parish ; and, finding it impossible to get home in time to my own dinner, I had no scruple in laying yours under contribution."
Now this was the Protestant clergyman of the parish, whose political views were in opposition to those of Mr. Egan; but the good hearts of both men prevented political feeling from interfering, as in Ireland it too often does, with the social intercourse of life. Still, however, even if Dick Dawson had got out of the room in time, this was not the man to assist them in covering their hoax on Furlong, and the scene became excessively ludicrous the moment thc reverend gentleman made his appearance. Dick, the Squire, and Murphy opened their eyes at each other, while Mrs. Egan grew as red as scarlet when Furlong stared at her in astonishment as the new-comer mentioned her name,- she stammered out welcome as well as she could, and called for a chair for Mr. Bermingham, with all sorts of kind inquiries for Mrs. Bermingham and the little Berminghams,—for the Bermingham manufactory in that line was extensive.
While the reverend doctor was taking his seat, spreading his napkin, and addressing a word to each round the table, Furlong turned to Fanny