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. “You had better let me keep it, then ;-'twill be safer with me than you."
“Sartainly,” said Andy—who drew the lease from his pocket and handed it to her, and as he was near her, he attempted a little familiarity, which Matty repelled very unequivocally.
“ Arrah, is it jokes you are crackin' ?” said Andy with a grin, advancing to renew his fondling
“I tell you what it is,” said Matty, jumping up, “ I'll crack your head if you don't behave yourself!" and she seized the stool on which she had been sitting, and brandished it in a very Amazonian fashion.
" Oh wirra! wirra !” said Andy in amaze—“ aren't you my wife ?"
“ Your wife !" retorted Matty, with a very devil in her eye—“ Your wife, indeed, you great omadhawn; why then, had you the brass to think I'd put up with you?”
“ Arrah, then, why did you marry me?” said Andy, in a pitiful argumentative whine.
“ Why did I marry you ?" retorted Matty—“ Didn't I know betther than to refuse you, when my father said the word when the Divil was busy with him ?Why did I marry you ?—it's a pity I didn't refuse, and be murthered that night, may be, as soon as the people's backs was turned.—Oh it's little you know of owld Jack Dwyer, or you wouldn't ask me that; but though I'm afraid of him, I'm not afraid of you, and stand off, I tell you !”
“Oh blessed Vargin!” cried Andy," and what will be the end of it ?”
There was a tapping at the door as he spoke.
“ You'll soon see what will be the end of it," said Matty, as she walked across the cabin and opened to the knock.
James Casey entered, and clasped Matty in his arms; and half a dozen athletic fellows, and one old and debauched looking man followed, and the door was immediately closed after their entry.
Andy stood in amazement while Casey and Matty caressed each other, and the old man said in a voice tremulous from intoxication, " A very pretty filly, by jingo!"
“I lost no time the minute I got your message, Matty,” said Casey, " and here's the Father ready to join us.”
“Aye, aye,” cackled the old reprobate—“hammer and tongs ! strike while the iron's hot- I'm the boy for a short job”—and he pulled a greasy book from his pocket as he spoke.
This was a degraded clergyman, known in Ireland under the title of “couple beggar," who is ready to perform irregular marriages on such urgent occasions as the present.--And Matty had continued to inform James Casey of the strange turn affairs had taken at home, and recommended him to adopt the present course, and so defeat the violent measure of her father by one still more so.
A scene of uproar now ensued, for Andy did not take matters quietly, but made a pretty considerable row, which was speedily quelled, however, by Casey's body guard, who tied Andy neck and heels, and in that helpless state he witnessed the marriage ceremony performed by the "couple beggar," between Casey and the girl he looked upon as his own, five minutes before.
In vain did he raise his voice against the proceeding ;--the "couple beggar” smothered his objections in ribald jests.
“ You can't take her from me, I tell you,” cried Andy.
“No-but we can take you from her," said the "couple beggar ;' and at the words, Casey's friends dragged Andy from the cottage, bidding a rollicking adieu to their triumphant companion, who bolted the door after them, and became possessor of the wife and property poor Andy thought he had secured.
To guard against an immediate alarm being given, Andy was warned on pain of death to be silent, as his captors bore him along, and he took them to be too much men of their word to doubt they would keep their promise. They bore him along a lonely bye-lane for some time, and on arriving at the stump of an old tree, they bound him securely to it, and left him to pass his wedding night in the tight embraces of hemp.
The news of Andy's wedding, so strange in itself, and being celebrated before so many, spread over the country like wildfire, and made the talk of half the barony for the next day, and the question, “ Arrah, did you hear of the wondherful wedding ?" was asked in high road and bye-road, and scarcely a boreen whose hedges had not borne witness to this startling matrimonial intelligence. The story, like all other stories, of course got twisted into various strange shapes, and fanciful exaggerations became grafted on the original stem, sufficiently grotesque in itself; and one of the versions set forth how old Jack Dwyer, the more to vex Casey, had given his daughter the greatest fortune that had been ever heard of in the county.
Now one of the open-eared people, who had caught hold of the story by this end, happened to meet Andy's mother, and with a congratulatory grin, began with “ The top o' the mornin' to you, Mrs. Rooney, and sure I wish you joy."
“Och hone, and for why, dear ?" answered Mrs. Rooney, “sure it's nothin' but throuble and care I have, poor and in want, like me."
“But sure you'll never be in want more now.”
“ Andy !" replied his mother in amazement. “Andy, indeed !-out o place, and without a bawbee to bless himself with ?-stayin' out all night, the blackguard !”
“ By this and that, I don't think you know a word about it,” cried the friend, whose turn it was for wonder now.
“ Don't I, indeed ?" says Mrs. Rooney, huffed at having her word doubted, as she thought. “I tell you, he never was at home last night, and may be it's yourself was helping him, Micky Lavery, to keep his bad coorses—the slingein' dirty blackguard that he is."
Micky Lavery set up a shout of laughter, which increased the ire of Mrs. Rooney, who would have passed on in dignified silence, but that Micky held her fast, and when he recovered breath enough to speak, he proceeded to tell her about Andy's marriage, but in such a disjointed way, that it was some time before Mrs. Rooney could comprehend him for his interjectional laughter at the capital joke it was, that she should be the last to know it, and that he should have the luck to tell it, sometimes broke the thread of his story--and then his collateral observations so disfigured the tale, that its incomprehensibility became very much
increased, till at last Mrs. Rooney was driven to push him by direct questions.
“For the tendher mercy, Micky Lavery, make me sinsible, and don't disthract me is the boy marri'd ?"
“ Yis, I tell you."
“ And gev him a fort'n'?”.
“Gev him half his property, I tell you, and he'll have all when the owld man's dead."
“Oh, more power to you, Andy!" cried his mother in delight; “it's you that is the boy, and the best child that ever was! Half his property, you tell me, Misther Lavery,” added she, getting distant and polite the moment she found herself mother to a rich man, and curtailing her fainiliarity with a poor one like Lavery.
“ Yis, ma'am,” said Lavery, touching his hat, “and the whole of it when the owld man dies."
“Then, indeed, I wish him a happy relase !” said Mrs. Rooney, piously,—"not that I owe the man spite--but sure he'd be no loss—and it's a good wish to any one, sure, to wish them in heaven. Good mornin', Misther Lavery,”—said Mrs. Rooney with a patronizing smile, and 'going the road with a dignified air.'
Mick Lavery looked after her with mingled wonder and indignation. “ Bad luck to you, you owld sthrap!” he muttered between his teeth.“How consaited you are, all of a sudden--by Jakers, I'm sorry I towld you-cock you up, indeed-put a beggar on horseback to be surehumph !-the divil cut the tongue out o' me, if ever I give any one good news again—I've a mind to turn back and tell Tim Doolin his horse is in the pound.”.
Mrs. Rooney continued her dignified pace as long as she was within sight of Lavery, but the moment an angle of the road screened her from his observation, off she set, running as hard as she could, to embrace her darling Andy, and realize, with her own eyes and ears, all the good news she had heard. She puffed out by the way many set phrases about the goodness of Providence, and arranged, at the same time, sundry fine speeches to make to the bride ; so that the old lady's piety and flattery ran a strange couple together along with herself; while mixed up with her prayers and her blarney, were certain speculations of how long Jack Dwyer could possibly live, and how much he would have to leave.
It was in this frame of mind she reached the hill which commanded a view of the three-cornered field and the snug cottage ; and down she rushed to embrace her darling Andy, and his gentle bride. Puffing and blowing like a porpoise, bang she went into the cottage, and Matty being the first person she met, she flung herself upon her, and covered her with embraces and blessings.
Matty, being taken by surprise, was some time before she could shake off the old beldame's hateful caresses, but at last, getting free and tucking up her hair, which her imaginary mother-in-law had clawed about her ears, she exclaimed in no very gentle tones
"Arrah, good woman, who axed for your company—who are you at all?”
“Your mother-in-law, jewel!” cried the widow Rooney, making another open-armed rush at her beloved daughter-in-law, who received the widow's protruding mouth on her clenched fist, instead of her lips; and the old woman's nose coming in for a share of Matty's knuckles, a ruby stream spurted forth, while all the colours of the rainbow danced before Mrs. Rooney's eyes as she reeled backwards on the floor.
“ Take that, you owld faggot!” cried Matty, as she shook Mrs. Rooney's tributary claret from the knuckles which had so scientifically tapped it, and wiped her hand in her apron.
The old woman roared “millia' murther" on the floor, and snuffled out a deprecatory question, if that was the proper way to be received in her son's house."
“ Your son's house, indeed !" cried Matty.—“Get out o' the place, you stack o' rags.”
“Oh Andy! Andy!". cried the mother, gathering herself up.
“ To be sure : why wouldn't I want him, you hussy ?-My boy! my darlin'! my beauty !"
“Well, go look for him !" cried Matty, giving her a shove towards the door.
“Well, now, do you think I'll be turned out of my son's house so quietly as that, you unnatural baggage ?” cried Mrs. Rooney, facing round fiercely. Upon which, a bitter altercation ensued between the women; in the course of which the widow soon learned that Andy was not the possessor of Matty's charms : whereupon the old woman, no longer having the fear of damaging her daughter-in-law's beauty before her eyes, tackled to for a fight in right earnest; in the course of which some reprisals were made by the widow, in revenge for her broken nose ; but Matty's youth and activity, joined to her Amazonian spirit, turned the tide in her favour, though, had not the old lady been blown by her long run, the victory would not have been so easy, for she was a tough customer, and left Matty certain marks of her favour that did not rub out in a hurry, while she took away as a keepsake, a handful of Matty's hair, by which she had held on, till a finishing kick from the gentle bride finally ejected Mrs. Rooney from the house.
Off she reeled, bleeding and roaring, and while on her approach she had been blessing Heaven, and inventing sweet speeches for Matty, on her retreat she was cursing fate, and heaping all sorts of hard names on the Amazon she came to flatter.
How fared it in the mean time with Andy? He, poor devil! had passed a cold night, tied up to the old tree, and as the morning dawned, every object appeared to him through the dim light in a distorted form ; the gaping hollow of the old trunk to which he was bound, seemed like a huge mouth, opening to swallow him, while the old knots looked like eyes, and the gnarled branches like claws, staring at, and ready to tear him in pieces.
A raven, perched above him on a lonely branch, croaked dismally, till Andy fancied he could hear words of reproach in the sounds, while a little tom-tit chattered and twittered on a neighbouring bough, as if