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Dawson, beside whom he was sitting, (and who, by the by, could not resist a fit of laughter on the occasion,) and said, with a bewildered look,
“ Did he not addwess Madame as Mistwess Egan?”
“ Yeth,” said Fanny, with admirable readiness ; “but whithper." And as Furlong inclined his head towards her, she whispered in his ear, -"You muthn't mind him-he's mad, poor man !-that is, a little inthane,-and thinks every lady is Mrs. Egan.—An unhappy patshion, poor fellow !--but quite harmleth.”
Furlong uttered a very prolonged " Oh!" at Fanny's answer to his inquiry, and looked sharply round the table ; for there was an indefinable something in the conduct of every one at the moment of Mr. Bermingham's entrance that attracted his attention; and the name “Egan," and everybody's fidgityness, (which is the only word I can apply,) roused his suspicion. Fanny's answer only half satisfied him ; and looking at Mrs. Egan, who could not conquer her confusion, he remarked,—“ How vewy wed Mistwess OʻGwady gwew !"
“Oh, tshe can't help blutching, poor thoul ! when he thays 'Egan' to her, and thinks her his furth love.'
“How vewy widiculous, to be sure,” said Furlong.
“ Haven't you innothent mad people thumtimes in England ?" said Fanny.
“ Oh, vewy," said Furlong; “ but this appea's to me so wema’kably stwange an abbewation."
“ Oh,” returned Fanny with quickness, “ I thuppose people go mad on their ruling patshion, and the ruling patshion of the Irish, you know, is love."
The conversation all this time was going on in other quarters, and Furlong heard Mr. Bermingham talking of his having preached last Sunday in his new church.
“Suwely,” said he to Fanny, “ they would not pe’mit an insane cle'gyman to pweach ?”
" Oh,” said Fanny, almost suffocating with laughter," he only thinkth he's a clergyman.”
“ How vewy dwoll you are !" said Furlong.
“ Now you're only quithing me,” said Fanny, looking with affected innocence in the face of the unfortunate young gentleman she had been quizzing most unmercifully the whole day.
" Oh, Miste'O’Gwady,” said Furlong, “ we saw them going to dwown a man to-day."
“ Indeed !” said the Squire, reddening, as he saw Mr. Bermingham stare at his being called O'Grady ; so, to cover the blot, and stop Furlong, he asked him to take wine.
“ Do they often dwown people here?" continued Furlong, after he had bowed.
" Not that I know of," said the Squire. “ But are not the lowe' o’ders wather given to what Lo’d Bacon
“ Who cares about Lord Bacon ?" said Murphy.
“ My dear sir, you supwise me !" said Furlong in utter amazement. " Lo'd Bacon's sayings"
“ By my sowl,” said Murphy, “ both himself and his sayings are very rusty by this time."
"Oh, I see, Miste' Muffy.—You neve' will be sewious."
“God forbid !” said Murphy,—" at dinner, at least, -or after. Seriousness is only a morning amusement ;-it makes a very poor figure in the evening."
"By the by,” said Mr. Bermingham, “ talking of drowning, I heard a very odd story to-day from O'Grady. You and he, I believe,” said the clergyman, addressing Egan, “ are not on as good terms as you were."
At this speech Furlong did rather open his eyes, the Squire hummed and hawed, Murphy coughed, Mrs. Egan looked into her plate, and Dick, making a desperate dash to the rescue, asked Furlong which he preferred, a single or a double-barrelled gun.
Mr. Bermingham perceiving the sensation his question created, thought he had touched upon forbidden ground, and therefore did not repeat his question, and Fanny whispered Furlong that one of the stranger's mad peculiarities was mistaking one person for another ; but all this did not satisfy Furlong, whose misgivings as to the real name of his host were growing stronger every moment. At last Mr. Bermingham, without alluding to the broken friendship between Egan and O'Grady, returned to the “odd story" he had heard that morning about drowning
“ 'Tis a very strange affair,” said he," and our side of the country is all alive about it. A gentleman who was expected from Dublin last night at Neck-or-Nothing Hall, arrived, as it is ascertained, at the village, and thence took a post-chaise, since which time he has not been heard of; and as a post-chaise was discovered this morning sunk in the river close by Ballysloughgutthery bridge, it is suspected the gentleman has been drowned either by accident or design. The postilion is in confinement on suspicion, and O'Grady has written to the Castle about it to-day, for the gentleman was a government officer."
“Why, sir," said Furlong, “ that must be me!"
" You, sir!" said Mr. Bermingham, whose turn it was to be surprised now.
“ Yes, sir," said Furlong, "I took a post-chaise at the village last night, -and I'm an office of the gove’ment."
“ But you're not drowned, sir, -and he was," said Bermingham. “ To be su'e I'm not dwowned; but I'm the pe'son."
“ Quite impossible, sir," said Mr. Bermingham. “You can't be the person."
“Why, sir, do you expect to pe'swade me out of my own identity ?”
"Oh," said Murphy, “ there will be no occasion to prove identity till the body is found, and the coroner's inquest sits ;-that's the law, sir,—at least, in Ireland.”
Furlong's bewildered look at the unblushing impudence of Murphy was worth anything. While he was dumb from astonishment, Mr. Bermingham, with marked politeness, said,
" Allow me, sir, for a moment to explain to you. You see, it could not be you, for the gentleman was going to Mr. O'Grady's.”
“ Well, sir,” said Furlong, “ and here I am."
The wide stare of the two men as they looked at each other was killing; and while Furlong's face was turned towards Mr. Bermingham, Fanny caught the clergyman's eye, tapped her forehead with the fore. finger of her right hand, shook her head, and turned up her eyes with an expression of pity, to indicate that Furlong was not quite right in his mind.
“ Oh, I beg pardon, sir," said Mr. Bermingham. “I see it's a mistake of mine."
“ There certainly is a vewy gweat mistake somewhere," said Furlong, who was now bent on a very direct question. “ Pway, Miste' OʻGwady," said he, addressing Egan,-“ that is, if you are Miste O'Gwady,—will you tell me, are you Miste' O’liwady?":
“Sir,' said the Squire, “ you have chosen to call me O'Grady ever since you came here,- but my name is Egan.”
“ What!-the member for the county ?” cried Furlong, horrified. “ Yes," said the Squire, laughing. “Do you want a frank ?”
“ 'Twill save your friends postage,” said Dick, “ when you write to them to say you're safe.”
“ Miste' Wegan,” said Furlong, with an attempt at offended dignity, “ I conside' myself vewy ill used.”
“ You're the first man I ever heard of being ill used in Merryvale house," said Murphy.
“ Sir, it is a gwievous w'ong!”.
" My dear friend,” said the Squire, laughing,—though, indeed, that was not peculiar to him, for every one round the table, save the victim, was doing the same thing, (as for Fanny, she shouted,)—" My dear friend, this gentleman came to my house last night, and I took him for a friend of Moriarty's, whom I have been expecting for some days. He thought, it appears, this was Neck-or-Nothing Hall, and thus a mutual mistake has arisen. All I can say is, that you are most welcome, Mr. Furlong, to the hospitality of this house as long as you please.”
“ But, sir, you should not have allowed me to wemain in you’ house,” said Furlong.
“ That's a doctrine," said the Squire, " in which you will find it difficult to make an Irish host coincide."
" But you must have known, sir, that it was not my intention to come to your house.”
“ How could I know that, sir?" said the Squire jocularly.
“ Why, Miste' Wegan-you know that is—in fact--d-n it, sir," said Furlong at last, losing his temper, " you know I told you all about our electioneering tactics”
A loud laugh was all the response Furlong received to this outbreak. “ Well, sir," repeated he, “I pwotest it is extremely unfair !"
“ You know, my dear sir," said Dick, “we Irish are such poor ignorant crealures, according to your own account, that we can make no use of the knowledge with which you have so generously supplied us."
“ You know," said the Squire, “ we have no real finesse.”
“ Sir," said Furlong, growing sulky," there is a certain finesse that is fair, and another that is unfair-and I pwotest against—"
“ Pouh! pooh !” said Murphy. “ Never mind trifles. Just wait till to-morrow, and I ll show you even better salmon-fishing than you had to-day.”
“Sir, no considewation would make me wemain anothe' wower in this house."
Murphy, screwing his lips together, puffed out something between a whistle and the blowing out of a candle, and ventured to suggest to Furlong he had better wait even a couple of hours, till he had got his allowance of claret. “Remember the adage, sir—' In vino veritas,' and we'll tell you all our electioneering secrets after we've had enough wine.”
“ As soon, Miste' Wegan,” said Furlong, quite chapfallen, " as you can tell me how I can get to the house to which I intended to go, I will be weady to bid you good evening."
“ If you are determined, Mr. Furlong, to remain here no longer, I shall not press my hospitality upon you : whenever you decide on going, my carriage shall be at your service.”
" The soone' the bette', sir,” said Furlong, retreating still further into a cold and sulky manner.
The Squire made no further attempt to conciliate him ; he merely said, “ Dick, ring the bell. Pass the claret, Murphy."
The bell was rung—the claret passed-a servant entered, and orders were given by the Squire that the carriage should be at the door as soon as possible. In the interim, Dick Dawson, the Squire, and Murphy, laughed as if nothing had happened, and Mrs. Egan conversed in an under-tone with Mr. Bermingham. Fanny looked mischievous, and Furlong kept his hand on the foot of his glass, and shoved it about something in the fashion of an uncertain chess-player, who does not know where to put the piece on which he has laid his finger.
The carriage was soon announced, and Mrs. Egan, as Furlong seemed so anxious to go, rose from table; and as she retired he made her a cold and formal bow. He attempted a tender look, and soft word, to Fanny, -for Furlong, who thought himself a beau garçon, had been playing off his attractions upon her all day, but the mischievously merry Fanny Dawson, when she caught the sheepish eye, and heard the mumbled gallantry of the Castle Adonis, could not resist a titter, which obliged her to hide her dimpling cheek and pearly teeth in her handkerchief as she passed to the door. The ladies being gone, the Squire asked Furlong, would he not have some more wine before he went.
“No, thank you, Miste' Wegan,” replied he, “after being twicked in the manner that a "
“Mr. Furlong," said the Squire, " you have said quite enough about that. When you came into my house last night, sir, I had no intention of practising any joke upon you. You should have had the hospitality of an Irishman's house, without the consequence that has followed, had you not indulged in sneering at the Irishman's country, which, to your shame be it spoken, is your own. You vaunted your own superior intelligence and finesse over us, sir ; and told us you came down to overthrow poor Pat in the trickery of electioneering movements. Under those circumstances, sir, I think what we have done is quite fair. We have shown you that you are no match for us in the finesse upon which you pride yourself so much; and the next time you talk of your countrymen, and attempt to undervalue them, just remember how you have been outwitted at Merryvale House. Good evening, Mr. Furlong. I hope we part without owing each other any ill-will." The Squire offered his hand, but Furlong drew up, and amidst such expletives as “ weally,” and “ I must say," he at last made use of the word “ atwocious.”
“ What's that you say ?” said Dick. “You don't speak very plain, and I'd like to be sure of the last word you used.”
" I mean to say that a- "and Furlong not much liking the tone of Dick's question, was humming and hawing a sort of explanation of what “ he meant to say," when Dick thus interrupted him,
"I tell you this, Mr. Furlong, -all that has been done is my doing -I've humbugged you, sir-humbugged. I've sold you—dead. I've pump'd you, sir — all your electioneering bag of tricks, bribery, and all, exposed ; and, now go off to O'Grady, and tell him how the poor ignorant Irish have done you; and, see, Mr. Furlong," added Dick in a quiet under-tone, " if there's anything that either he or you don't like about the business, you shall have any satisfaction you like, and as often as you please.".
“I shall conside' of that, sir," said Furlong, as he left the house, and entered the carriage, where he threw himself back in offended dignity, and soliloquized vows of vengeance. But the bumping of the carriage over a rough road disturbed the pleasing reveries of revenge, to awaken him to the more probable and less agreeable consequences likely to occur to himself for the blunder he had made ; for, with all the puppy's self-sufficiency and conceit, he could not by any process of mental delu. sion conceal from himself the fact that he had been most tremendously done, and how his party would take it was a serious consideration. O'Grady, another horrid Irish squire-how should he face him? For a moment he thought it better to go back to Dublin, and he pulled the check-string-the carriage stopped-down went the front glass. “I say, coachman."
“ I'm not the coachman, sir."
“D-n it, I don't want to know who you are, or about your affairs; I want you to listen to me-cawn't you listen."
“ Yes, sir."
“ What village, sir ?" asked Mat, the groom—who knew well enough, but from Furlong's impertinence did not choose to understand anything gratuitously.
“Why the village I came fwom yeste’day."