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The squire threw down the letter, and then his eye caught the other two that Andy had purloined.
“More of that stupid blackguard's work!-robbing the mail-no less! —that fellow will be hanged some time or other. 'Egad, maybe they'll hang him for this! What's best to be done?- Maybe it will be the safest way to see who they are for, and send them to the parties, and request they will say nothing: that's it."
The squire here took up the letters that lay before him, to read their superscriptions; and the first he turned over was directed to Gustavus Granby O'Grady, Esq. Neck-or-nothing Hall, Knockbotherum. This was what is called a curious coincidence. Just as he had been reading all about O'Grady's intended treachery to him, here was a letter to that individual, and with the Dublin post-mark too, and a very grand seal.
The squire examined the arms, and, though not versed in the mysteries of heraldry, he thought he remembered enough of most of the arms he had seen to say that this armorial bearing was a strange one to him. He turned the letter over and over again, and looked at it, back and front, with an expression in his face that said, as plain as countenance could speak, “I'd give a trifle to know what is inside of this." He looked at the seal again : “ Here's a-goose, I think it is, sitting in a bowl, with cross. bars on it, and a spoon in its mouth; like the fellow that owns it, maybe. A goose with a silver spoon in his mouth! Well, here's the gable-end of a house, and a bird sitting on the top of it. Could it be Sparrow? There's a fellow called Sparrow, an undersecretary at the Castle. D-n it! I wish I knew what it's about."
The squire threw down the letter as he said, “D-n it,” but took it up again in a few seconds, and catching it edgewise between his forefinger and thumb, gave a gentle pressure that made the letter gape at its extremities, and then, exercising that sidelong glance which is peculiar to postmasters, waiting-maids, and magpies who inspect marrowbones, peeped into the interior of the epistle, saying to himself as he did so, “ All's fair in war, and why not in electioneering ?” His face, which was screwed up to the scrutinizing pucker, gradually lengthened as he caught some words that were on the last turn-over of the sheet, and so could be read thoroughly, and his brow darkened into the deepest frown as he scanned these lines : “ As you very properly and pungently remark, poor Egan is a spoon-a mere spoon.” “Am I a spoon, you rascal ?" said the squire, tearing the letter into pieces and throwing it into the fire. “And so, Misther O'Grady, you say I'm a spoon !” and the blood of the Egans rose as the head of that pugnacious family strode up and down the room : “I'll spoon you, my buck, - I'll settle your hash! maybe I'm a spoon you'll sup sorrow with yet!"
Here he took up the poker, and made a very angry lunge at the fire, that did not want stirring, and there he beheld the letter blazing merrily away. He dropped the poker as if he had caught it by the hot end, as he exclaimed, " What the d-1 shall I do? I've burnt the letter !” This threw the squire into a fit of what he was wont to call his “considering cap;" and he sat with his feet on the fender for some minutes, occasionally muttering to himself what he began with,-"What the do shall I do? It's all owing to that infernal Andy—I'll murder that fellow some time or other. If he hadn't brought it, I shouldn't have seen it-to be sure, if I hadn't looked ; but then the temptation--a saint couldn't have withstood it. Confound it! what a stupid trick to burn it. Another here, too--must burn that as well, and say nothing about either of them;" and he took up the second letter, and, merely looking at the address, threw it into the fire. He then rang the bell, and desired Andy to be sent to him. As soon as that ingenious individual made his appearance, the squire desired him with peculiar emphasis to shut the door, and then opened upon him with,
“ You unfortunate rascal !" “ Yis, your honour." “Do you know that you might be hanged for what you did to-day ?" “ What did I do, sir ?". “You robbed the post-office.” “How did I rob it, sir ?" “ You took two letters you had no right to.” “It's no robbery for a man to get the worth of his money.".
“Will you hold your tongue, you stupid villain! I'm not joking : you absolutely might be hanged for robbing the post-office.”
“ Sure I didn't know there was any harm in what I done ; and for that matther, sure, if they're sitch wondherful value, can't I go back again wid'em ?”
“No, you thief. I hope you have not said a word to any one about it." “ Not the sign of a word passed my lips about it.” “ You're sure ?" “Sartin.”
“ Take care, then, that you never open your mouth to mortal about it, or you'll be hanged, as sure as your name is Andy Rooney."
“Oh, at that rate I never will. But maybe your honour thinks I ought to be hanged ?"
“No,-because you did not intend to do a wrong thing ; but, only I have pity on you, I could hang you tomorrow for what you've done."
“ Thank you, sir."
“ I've burnt the letters, so no one can know anything about the business unless you tell on yourself ::so remember,—not a word.”
“ Faith, I'll be as dumb as the dumb baste."
“Go, now; and, once for all, remember you'll be hanged so sure as you ever mention one word about this affair."
Andy made a bow and a scrape, and left the squire, who hoped the secret was safe. He then took a ruminating walk round the pleasuregrounds, revolving plans of retaliation upon his false friend O'Grady ; and having determined to put the most severe and sudden measure of the law in force against him for the monies in which he was indebted to him, he only awaited the arrival of Murtough Murphy from Dublin to execute his vengeance. Having settled this in his own mind, be became more contented, and said, with a self-satisfied nod of the head, “ We'll see who's the spoon.”
In a few days Murtough Murphy returned from Dublin, and to Merryvale he immediately proceeded. The squire opened to him directly his intention of commencing hostile law proceedings against
O'Grady, and asked what most summary measures could be put in practice against him.
“Oh! various, various, my dear squire,” said Murphy; “but I don't see any great use in doing so yet-he has not openly avowed himself.”
“But does he not intend to coalesce with the other party ?" “I believe so ;—that is, if he's to get the pension.”
“Well, and that's as good as done, you know; for if they want him, the pension is easily managed.”
“ I'm not so sure of that."
“ Very true ; but, you see, Lord Gobblestown swallows all the pensions for his own family ; and there are a great many complaints in the market against him for plucking that blackberry-bush very bare indeed; and unless Sack Scatterbrain has swingeing interest, the pension may not be such an easy thing."
“But still O'Grady has shown himself not my friend."
“ My dear squire, don't be so hot: he has not shown himself yet
“Well, but he means it."
“My dear squire, you oughtn't to jump a conclusion like a twelvefoot drain or a five-bar gate."
“Well, he's a blackguard."
“No denying it; and therefore keep him on your side, if you can, or he'll be a troublesome customer on the other."
“I'll keep no terms with him ;-I'll slap at him directly. What can you do that's wickedest ?-latitat, capias-fee-faw-fum, or whatever you call it ?”
“Hollo! squire, you're overrunning your game : may be, after all, he won't join the Scatterbrains, and "
“I tell you it's no matter; he intended doing it, and that's all the same. I'll slap at him,I'll blister him !"
Murtough Murphy wondered at this blind fury of the squire, who, being a good-humoured and good-natured fellow in general, puzzled the attorney the more by his present manifest malignity against O'Grady. But he had not seen the turn-over of the letter ; he had not seen “spoon,”—the real and secret cause of the “war to the knife” spirit which was kindled in the squire's breast.
“Of course you can do what you please; but, if you'd take a friend's advice "
“I tell you I'll blister him.”
“ I'll blister him, I tell you, and that smart. Lose no time, Murphy, my boy : let loose the dogs of law on him, and harass him till he'd wish the d-1 had him."
- Just as you like ; but
“I'll commence against him at once, then, as you wish it ; but it's no use, for you know very well that it will be impossible to serve him.”
“Let me alone for that! I'll be bound I'll find fellows to get the inside of him.”
“Why, his house is barricaded like a jail, and he has dogs enough to bait all the bulls in the country.".
“No matter; just send me the blister for him, and I'll engage I'll stick it on him."
" Very well, squire; you shall have the blister as soon as it can be got ready. I'll tell you whenever you may send over to me for it, and your messenger shall have it hot and warm for him. Good-b'ye, squire !”
“Good-b'ye, Murphy !-lose no time.”
“In the twinkling of a bed-post. Are you going to Tom Durfy's steeple-chase ?”
“I'm not sure."
“ I've a bet on it. Did you see the Widow Flanagan lately? You didn't ? They say Tom's pushing it strong there. The widow has money, you know, and Tom does it all for the love o' God; for you know, squire, there are two things God hates,-a coward and a poor man. Now, Tom's no coward ; and, that he may be sure of the love o' God on the other score, he's making up to the widow; and, as he's a slashing fellow, she's nothing loth, and, for fear of any one cutting him out, Tom keeps as sharp a look-out after her as she does after him. He's fierce on it, and looks pistols at any one that attempts putting his comether on the widow, while she looks “ as soon as you plaze," as plain as an optical lecture can enlighten the heart of man : in short, Tom's all ram's horns, and the widow all sheep's eyes. Good-b'ye, squire !” And Murtough put spurs to his horse and cantered down the avenue, whistling the last popular tune.
Andy was sent over to Murtough Murphy's for the law process at the appointed time; and, as he had to pass through the village, Mrs. Egan desired him to call at the apothecary's for some medicine that was prescribed for one of the children.
“ What'll I ax for, ma'am ?”
“I'd be sorry to trust to you, Andy, for remembering. Here's the prescription; take great care of it, and Mr. M'Garry will give you something to bring back ; and mind, if it's a powder,
“Is it gunpowdher, ma'am ?”
“Na-you stupid--will you listen-I say, if it's a powder, don't let it get wet as you did the sugar the other day."
In going through the village he forgot to leave the prescription at the apothecary's, and pushed on for the attorney's : there he saw Murtough Murphy, who handed him the law process, enclosed in a cover, with a note to the squire.
“ Have you been doing anything very clever lately, Andy ?" said Murtough.
“I don't know, sir,” said Andy.
“ Faix, you're too hard on me, sir : sure I never killed but one dog, and that was an accident
“An accident !-Curse your impudence, you thief! Do you think, if you killed one of the pack on purpose, we wouldn't cut the very heart out o' you with our hunting-whips ?”
“Faith, I wouldn't doubt you, sir : but, sure, how could I help that divil of a mare runnin' away wid me, and thramplin' the dogs ?"
“Why didn't you hold her, you thief?”.
“ Hould her, indeed !-you just might as well expect to stop fire among flax as that one."
"Well, be off with you now, Andy, and take care of what I gave you for the squire."
“Oh, never fear, sir,” said Andy, as he turned his horse's head homeward. He stopped at the apothecary's in the village, to execute his commission for the “ misthis.” On telling the son of Galen that he wanted some physic " for one o' the childre up at the big house," the dispenser of the healing art asked what physic he wanted.
“ Faith, I dunna what physic.”.
" I suppose so, indeed, or you wouldn't be sent for medicine.You're always making some blunder. You come here, and don't know what description of medicine is wanted.”
“ Don't I ?” said Andy with a great air.
Andy fumbled in his pockets, and could not lay hold of the paper his mistress entrusted him with until he had emptied them thoroughly of their contents upon the counter of the shop; and then taking the prescription from the collection, he said, “So you tell me I don't know the description of the physic I'm to get. Now, you see you're out; for that's the description.” And he slapped the counter impressively with his hand as he threw down the recipe before the apothecary.
While the medicine was in the course of preparation for Andy, he commenced restoring to his pockets the various parcels he had taken from them in hunting for the recipe. Now, it happened that he had laid them down close beside some articles that were compounded, and sealed up for going out, on the apothecary's counter ; and as the law process which Andy had received from Murtough Murphy chanced to resemble in form another enclosure that lay beside it, containing a blister, Andy, under the influence of his peculiar genius, popped the blister into his pocket instead of the packet which had been confided to him by the attorney, and having obtained the necessary medicine from M'Garry, rode home with great self-complacency that he had not forgot to do a single thing that had been entrusted to him. “ I'm all right this time," said Andy to himself.
Scarcely had he left the apothecary's shop when another messenger alighted at its door, and asked “ If Squire O'Grady's things was ready ?”