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“ Yis, sir.”
“ Confound you !" said the squire ; though he could not help laugh. ing at Andy's excuse for remaining in ignorance.
“Well,” continued he, “ go to the post-office. You know the postoffice, I suppose ?"
“Yis, sir, where they sell gunpowdher.”
“You're right for once,” said the squire ; for his Majesty's postmaster was the person who had the privilege of dealing in the aforesaid combustible. “Go then to the post-office, and ask for a letter for me. Remember,--not gunpowder, but a letter."
“Yis, sir,” said Andy, who got astride of his hack, and trotted away to the post-office. On arriving at the shop of the postmaster, (for that person carried on a brisk trade in groceries, gimlets, broad-cloth, and linen-drapery,) Andy presented himself at the counter, and said,
"I want a letther, sir, if you plaze.”
“ Who do you want it for ?" said the postmaster, in a tone which Andy considered an aggression upon the sacredness of private life : so Andy thought the coolest contempt he could throw upon the prying impertinence of the postmaster was to repeat his question.
“I want a letther, sir, if you plaze."
The postmaster, laughing at his simplicity, told him he could not tell what letter to give him unless he told him the direction.
“The directions I got was to get a letther here,—that's the directions."
“Who gave you those directions ?"
“Why, you stupid rascal! if you don't tell me his name, how can I give you a letter ?”
“ You could give it if you liked ; but you're fond of axin' impidint questions, bekaze you think I'm simple.'
“Go along out o' this ! Your master must be as great a goose as yourself, to send such a messenger.”
“ Bad luck to your impidince ?” said Andy; "is it Squire Egan you dar to say goose to ?”
“Oh, Squire Egan's your master, then ?" “Yis; have you anything to say agin it ?" “ Only that I never saw you before.” “Faith, then you'll never see me agin if I have my own consint."
“I won't give you any letter for the squire, unless I know you're his servant. Is there any one in the town knows you ?”
“Plenty," said Andy, “it's not every one is as ignorant as you."
Just at this moment a person to whom Andy was known entered the house, who vouched to the postmaster that he might give Andy the squire's letter. “Have you one for me?"
“Yes, sir," said the postmaster, producing one,—" fourpence.”
The gentleman paid the fourpence postage, and left the shop with his letter.
“Here's a letter for the squire," said the postmaster, “you've to pay me elevenpence postage.”
“What 'ud I pay elevenpence for ?” “ For postage."
“ To the divil wid you ! Didn't I see you give Mr. Durfy a letther for fourpence this minit, and a bigger letther than this ? and now you want me to pay elevenpence for this scrap of a thing. Do you think I'm a fool ?”
“No; but I'm sure of it," said the postmaster.
“Well, you're welkim to be sure, sure;—but don't be delayin' me now; here's fourpence for you, and gi' me the letther."
" Go along, you stupid thief,” said the postmaster, taking up the letter, and going to serve a customer with a mousetrap.
While this person and many others were served, Andy lounged up and down the shop, every now and then putting in his head in the middle of the customers, and saying, “ Will you gi' me the letther?".
He waited for above half an hour, in defiance of the anathemas of *he postmaster, and at last left, when he found it impossible to get cominon justice for his master, which he thought he deserved as well as another man; for, under this impression, Andy determined to give no more than the fourpence.
The squire in the mean time was getting impatient for his return, and when Andy made his appearance, asked if there was a letter for him.
“ There is, sir,” said Andy.
“ That owld chate beyant in the town, -wanting to charge double for it.”
Maybe it's a double letter. Why the devil didn't you pay what he asked, sir ?"
“Arrah, sir, why would I let you be chated ? It's not a double letther at all: not above half the size o' one Mr. Durfy got before my face for fourpence.”
“You'll provoke me to break your neck some day, you vagabond ! Ride back for your life, you omadhaun! and pay whatever he asks, and get me the letter.”
“Why, sir, I tell you he was sellin' them before my face for fourpence a-piece.”
"Go back, you scoundrel ! or I'll horsewhip you; and if you're longer than an hour, I'll have you ducked in the horsepond !”
Andy vanished, and made a second visit to the post-office. When he arrived, two other persons were getting letters, and the postmaster was selecting the epistles for each, from a large parcel that lay before
him on the counter ; at the same time many shop customers were waiting to be served.
“ I'm come for that letther,” said Andy.
While the postmaster went on with such provoking answers to these appeals for despatch, Andy's eye caught the heap of letters which lay on the counter; so while certain weighing of soap and tobacco was going forward, he contrived to become possessed of two letters from the heap, and, having effected that, waited patiently enough till it was the great man's pleasure to give him the missive directed to his master.
Then did Andy bestride his hack, and, in triumph at his trick on the postmaster, rattle along the road homeward as fast as the beast could carry him. He came into the squire's presence, his face beaming with delight, and an air of self-satisfied superiority in his manner, quite unaccountable to his master, until he pulled forth his hand, which had been grubbing up his prizes from the bottom of his pocket; and holding three letters over his head, while he said, “Look at that!” he next slapped them down under his broad fist on the table before the squire
"Well ! if he did make me pay elevenpence, by gor, I brought your honour the worth o'your money anyhow !"
Andy walked out of the room with an air of supreme triumph, having laid the letters on the table, and left the squire staring after him in perfect amazement.
“ Well, by the powers ! that's the most extraordinary genius I ever came across,” was the soliloquy the master uttered as the servant closed the door after him; and the squire broke the seal of the letter that Andy's blundering had so long delayed. It was from his law-agent, on the subject of an expected election in the county which would occur in case of the demise of the then-sitting member ;-it ran thus :
“Dublin, Thursday. “MY DEAR Squire,—I am making all possible exertions to have every and the earliest information on the subject of the election. I say the election,- because, though the seat for the county is not yet vacant, it is impossible but that it must soon be so. Any other man than the present member must have died long ago ; but Sir Timothy Trimmer has been so undecided all his life that he cannot at present make up his mind to die ; and it is only by Death himself giving the casting vote that the question can be decided. The writ for the vacant county is expected to arrive by every mail, and in the mean time I am on the alert for information. You know we are sure of the barony of Ballysloughgutthery, and the boys of Killanmaul will murder any one that dares to give a vote against you. We are sure of Knockdoughty also, and the very pigs in Glanamuck would return you; but I must put you on your guard in one point where you least expected to be betrayed. You told me you were sure of Neck-or-nothing Hall; but I can tell you you're out there ; for the master of the aforesaid is working heaven, earth, ocean and all the little fishes, in the other interest; for he is so over head and ears in debt, that he is looking out for a pension, and hopes to get one by giving his interest to the Honourable Sackville Scatterbrain, who sits for the borough of Old Gooseberry at present, but whose friends think his talents are worthy of a county. If Sack wins, Neck-or-nothing gets a pension, -that's poz. I had it from the best authority. I lodge at a milliner's here :no matter ; more when I see you. But don't be afraid ; we'll bag Sack, and distance Neck-or-nothing. But seriously speaking, it's too good a joke that O'Grady should use you in this manner, who have been so kind to him in money matters : but, as the old song says, ' Poverty parts good company ;' and he is so cursed poor that he can't afford to know you any longer, now that you have lent him all the money you had, and the pension in prospectu is too much for his feelings. I'll be down with you again as soon as I can, for I hate the diabolical town as I do poison. They have altered Stephen's Green-ruined it, I should say. They have taken away the big ditch that was round it, where I used to hunt water-rats when a boy. They are destroying the place with their d-d improve-ments. All the dogs are well, I hope, and my favourite bitch. Remember me to Mrs. Egan, Whom all admire.
My dear squire,
Yours per quire. “ To Edward Egan, Esq. Merryvale." • Murtough Murphy."
Murtough Murphy was a great character, as may be guessed from his letter. He was a country attorney of good practice ;-good, because he could not help it,- for he was a clever, ready-witted fellow, up to all sorts of trap, and one in whose hạnds a cause was very safe; therefore he had plenty of clients without his seeking them. For, if Murtough's practice had depended on his looking for it, he might have made broth of his own parchment; for though, to all intents and purposes a good attorney, he was so full of fun and fond of amusement, that it was only by dint of the business being thrust upon him he was so extensive a practitioner. He loved a good bottle, a good hunt, a good joke, and a good song, as well as any fellow in Ireland ; and even when he was obliged in the way of business to press a gentleman hard,--to hunt his man to the death,-he did it so good-humouredly that his very victim could not be angry with him. As for those he served, he was their prime favourite ; there was nothing they could want to be done in the parchment line that Murtough would not find out some way of doing ; and he was so pleasant a fellow, that he shared in the hospitality of all the best tables in the county. He kept good horses, was on every raceground within twenty miles, and a steeple-chase was no steeple-chase without him. Then he betted freely, and, what's more, won his bets very generally ; but no one found fault with him for that, and he took your money with such a good grace, and mostly gave you a bon-mot in exchange for it,--so that, next to winning the money yourself, you were glad it was won by Murtough Murphy.
The squire read his letter two or three times, and made his comments as he proceeded. “Working heaven and earth to,-ha-So, that's the work O'Grady's at—that's old friendship,-foul-foul; and after all the money I lent him too ;- he'd better take care-I'll be down on him if he plays false ;- not that I'd like that much either ;-butLet's see who's this is coming down to oppose me ?—Sack Scatterbrain —the biggest fool from this to himself;—the fellow can't ride a bit, a pretty member for a sporting county ! 'I lodge at a milliner's'-divil doubt you, Murtough ; I'll engage you do.-Bad luck to him !-he'd rather be fooling away his time in a back-parlour, behind a bonnet-shop, than minding the interests of the county. “Pension'-ha!-wants it sure enough ;-take care, O'Grady, or by the powers I'll be at you.You may baulk all the bailiffs, and defy any other man to serve you with a writ; but, by jingo! if I take the matter in hand, I'll be bound I'll get it done. «Stephen's Green-big ditch—where I used to hunt water-rats.'— Divil sweep you, Murphy! you'd rather be hunting waterrats any day than minding your business. He's a clever fellow for all that. Favourite bitch—Mrs. Egan.' Ay! there's the end of it-with his bit o'po'thry too! The divil !"