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roaring “ Murder !" followed by Squire O'Grady with an enormous cudgel.
O'Grady, believing that M‘Garry and the nurse-tender had combined to serve him with a writ, determined to wreak double vengeance on the apothecary, as the nurse had escaped him; and, notwithstanding all his illness and the appeals of his wife, he left his bed, and rode to the village to “ break every bone in M‘Garry's skin.” When he entered his shop, the pharmacopolist was much surprised, and said, with a congratulatory grin at the great man, “ Dear me, Squire O'Grady, I'm delighted to see you."
“ Are you, you scoundrel !" said the squire, making a blow of his cudgel at him, which was fended by an iron pestle the apothecary fortunately had in his hand. The enraged O'Grady made a rush behind the counter, which the apothecary nimbly jumped over, crying “ Murder;" as he made for the door, followed by his pursuer, who gave a back-handed slap at the window-bottles en passant, and produced the crash which astonished the widow, who now joined her screams to the general hue-and-cry; for an indiscriminate chase of all the ragamuffins in the town, with barking curs and screeching children, followed the flight of M‘Garry and the pursuing squire.
“ What the divil is all this about ?' said Tom Durfy, laughing. “By the powers! I suppose there's something in the weather, to produce all this fun,-though it's early in the year to begin thrashing, for the harvest isn't in yet. But, however, let us manage our little affair, now that we're left in peace and quietness, for the blackguards are all over the bridge afther the hunt. I'll go to Dick the Divil immediately, squire, and arrange time and place."
“ There's nothing like saving time and trouble on these occasions," said the squire. “Dick is at my house, I can arrange time and place with you this minute, and he will be on the ground with me."
“ Very well,” said Tom; " where is it to be ?"
“ Suppose we say, the cross-roads, halfway between this and Merryvale ? There's very pretty ground there, and we shall be able to get our pistols, and all that, ready in the mean time between this and four o'clock,—and it will be pleasanter to have it all over before dinner.”
“ Certainly, squire," said Tom Durfy; “ we'll be there at four.Till then, good morning, squire ;' and he and his man walked off.
The widow, in the mean time, had been left to the care of the apothecary's boy, whose tender attentions were now, for the first time in his life, demanded towards a fainting lady; for the poor raw country lad, having to do with a sturdy peasantry in every day matters, had never before seen the capers cut by a lady who thinks it proper, and delicate, and becoming, to display her sensibility in a swoon ; and truly her sobs, and small screeches, and little stampings and kickings, amazed young gallipot.-Smelling salts were applied—they were rather weak, so the widow inhaled the pleasing odour with a sigh, but did not recover.Sal volatile was next put in requisition-this was somewhat stronger, and made her wriggle on her chair, and throw her head about with sundry ohs! and ahs !—The boy, beginning to be alarmed at the extent of the widow's syncope, bethought him of assafoetida, and, taking down a goodly bottle of that sweet-smelling stimulant, gave the widow the benefit of the whole jar under her nose.—Scarcely had the stopper been withdrawn, when she gave a louder screech than she had yet executed, and, exclaiming " faugh!" with an expression of the most concentrated disgust, opened her eyes fiercely upon the offender, and shut up her nose between her fore-finger and thumb against the offence, and snuffled forth at the astonished boy, “ Get out o' that, you dirty cur !- Can't you let a lady faint in peace and quietness ?-Gracious heavens! would you smother me, you nasty brute ?-Oh, Tom, where are you?”—and she took to sobbing forth, “ Tom! Tom !" and put her handkerchief to her eyes, to hide the tears that were not there, while from behind the corner of the cambrick she kept a sharp eye on the street, and observed what was going on. She went on acting her part very becomingly, until the moment Tom Durfy walked off with Murphy; but then she could feign no longer, and jumping up from her seat, with an exclamation of “The brute !” she ran to the door, and looked down the street after them. “ The savage !” sobbed the widow—" the hard-hearted monster, to abandon me here to die-oh! to use me so—to leave me like a, like a -(the widow was fond of similes) like an old shoe-like a dirty glovelike a-like I don't know what!". (the usual fate of similes.) “ Mister Durfy, I'll punish you for this—I will !" said the widow, with an energetic emphasis on the last word; and she marched out of the shop, boiling over with indignation, through which, nevertheless, a little bubble of love now and then rose to the surface; and by the time she reached her own door, love predominated, and she sighed as she laid her hand on the knocker : “ After all, if the dear fellow should be killed, what would become of me!-oh!—and that wretch, Dick Dawson, too-two of them. -The worst of these merry devils is, they are always fighting !”.
The squire had ridden immediately homewards, and told Dick Dawson the piece of work that was before them.
“ And so he'll have a shot at you, instead of an action ?" said Dick. “ Well, there's pluck in that : I wish he was more of a gentleman, for your sake. It's dirty work, shooting attorneys.”
“ He's enough of a gentleman, Dick, to make it impossible for me to refuse him."
“ Certainly, Ned,” said Dick.
“ Faith, he makes very pretty snipe-shooting ; but I don't know if he has experience of the grass before breakfast.”
" You must try and find out from any one on the ground ; because, if the poor divil isn't a good shot, I wouldn't like to kill him, and I'll let him off easy—I'll give it to him in the pistol-arm, or so."
" Very well, Ned. Where are the flutes ? I must look over them.”
“Here," said the squire, producing a very handsome mahogany case of Rigby's best. Dick opened the case with the utmost care, and took up one of the pistols tenderly, handling it as delicately as if it were a young child or a lady's hand. He clicked the lock back and forwards a few times; and, his ear not being satisfied at the music it produced, he said he should like to examine them: “ At all events, they want a touch of oil."
"Well, keep them out of the misthriss's sight, Dick, for she might be alarmed."
“ Divil a taste," says Dick; “ she's a Dawson, and there never was a Dawson yet that did not know men must be men."
“That's true, Dick. I wouldn't mind so much if she wasn't in a delicate situation just now, when it couldn't be expected of the woman to be so stout: so go, like a good fellow, into your own room, and Andy will bring you anything you want."
Five minutes after, Dick was engaged in cleaning the duelling-pistols, and Andy at his elbow, with his mouth wide open, wondering at the interior of the locks which Dick had just taken off.
“ Oh, my heavens! but that's a quare thing, Misther Dick, sir," said Andy, going to take it up.
“ Keep your fingers off it, you thief, do!" roared Dick, making a rap of the turnscrew at Andy's knuckles.
“Sure I'll save you the throuble o' rubbin' that, Misther Dick, if you let me; here's the shabby leather.”
“I wouldn't let your clumsy fist near it, Andy, nor your shabby leather, you villain, for the world. Go get me some oil."
Andy went on his errand, and returned with a can of lamp-oil to Dick, who swore at him for his stupidity: “ The divil fly away with you; you never do anything right; you bring me lamp-oil for a pistol.”
“ Well, sure I thought lamp-oil was the right thing for burnin'.”
“ Choke you, you vagabond !” said Dick, who could not resist laughing, nevertheless ; “ be off, and get me some sweet oil, but don't tell any one what it's for.
Andy retired, and Dick pursued his polishing of the locks. Why he used such a blundering fellow as Andy for a messenger might be wondered at, only that Dick was fond of fun, and Andy's mistakes were a particular source of amusement to him, and on all occasions when he could have Andy in his company he made him his attendant. When the sweet oil was produced, Dick looked about for a feather; but, not finding one, desired Andy to fetch him a pen. Andy went on his errand, and returned, after some delay, with an inkbottle.
" I brought you the ink, sir, but I can't find a pin.”
“ Confound your numskull! I didn't say a word about ink; I asked for a pen."
“ And what use would a pin be without ink, now I ax yourself, Misther Dick ?”
“I'd knock your brains out if you had any, you omadhaun! Go along and get me a feather, and make haste.”
Andy went off, and, having obtained a feather, returned to Dick, who began to tip certain portions of the lock very delicately with oil.
“ What's that for, Misther Dick, sir, if you plaze?"
“ O Lord! a tumbler—what a quare name for it. I thought there was no tumbler but a tumbler for punch."
“ That's the tumbler you would like to be cleaning the inside of, Andy."
“ Thrue for you, sir. —And what's that little thing you have your hand on now, sir ?”
“ That's the cock.”
“Well, there's some sinse in that name, then ; but who'd think of sitch a thing as a tumbler and a cock in a pistle? And what's that place that opens and shuts, sir ?"
“ The pan.”
“Well, there's sinse in that name too, bekaze there's fire in the thing; and it's as nath'ral to say pan to that as to a fryin'-pan-isn't it, Misther Dick ?" - “Oh! there was a great gunmaker lost in you, Andy," said Dick, as he screwed on the locks, which he had regulated to his mind, and began to examine the various departments of the pistol case, to see that it was properly provided. He took the instrument to cut some circles of thin leather, and Andy again asked him for the name “o' that thing."
“This is called the punch, Andy."
“Ay, and very strong punch it is, you see, Andy;" and Dick struck it with his little mahogany mallet, and cut his patches, of leather.
“And what's that for, sir?—the leather, I mane."
“Oh, then thim is jewellin' pistles. Why, musha, Misther Dick, is it goin' to fight a jule you are ?” said Andy, looking at him with earnestness.
“No.Andy,—but the master is; but don't say a word about it.”
“Not a word for the world. The masther goin' to fight !-God send him safe out iv it !-Amin. And who is he going to fight, Misther Dick ?"
• Murphy the attorney, Andy." “Oh, won't the masther disgrace himself by fightin' the 'torney ?” “How dare you say such thing of your master ?”.
“I ax your pard'n, Misther Dick; but sure you know what I mane. I hope he'll shoot him.”
“Why, Andy, Murtough was always very good to you, and now you wish him to be shot.”
“Sure, why wouldn't I rather have him kilt more than the masther ?” “But neither may be killed.”
“Misther Dick," said Andy, lowering his voice, “wouldn't it be an iligant thing to put two balls into the pistle instid o' one, and give the masther a chance over the 'torney ?”
“Oh, you murdherous villain !"
“ Arrah, why shouldn't the masther have a chance over him ? sure he has childre, and 'Torney Murphy has none."
“At that rate, Andy, I suppose you'd give the master a ball additional for every child he has, and that would make eight. So you might as well give him a blunderbuss and slugs at once.”
Dick locked the pistol-case, having made all right; and desired Andy to mount a horse, carry it by a back road out of the domain, and wait at a certain gate he named until he should be joined there by himself and the squire, who proceeded at the appointed time to the ground.
Andy was all ready, and followed his master and Dick with great pride, bearing the pistol-case, after them, to the ground where Murphy and Tom Durfy were ready to receive them ; and a great number of spectators were assembled ; for the noise of the business had gone abroad, and the ground was in consequence crowded.
Tom Durfy had warned Murtough Murphy, who had no experience as a pistol-man, that the squire was a capital shot, and that his only chance was to fire as quickly as he could.—“Slap at him, Morty, my boy, the minute you get the word ; and, if you don't hit him itself, it will prevent his dwelling on his aim."
Tom Durfy and Dick the Devil soon settled the preliminaries of the ground and mode of firing; and twelve paces having been marked, both the seconds opened their pistol-cases, and prepared to load. Andy was close to Dick all the time, kneeling beside the pistol-case, which lay on the sod; and, as Dick turned round to settle some other point on which Tom Durfy questioned him, Andy thought he might snatch the opportunity of giving his master “ the chance” he suggested to his second. “Sure, if Misther Dick wouldn't like to do it, that's no raison I wouldn't," said Andy to himself; “ and, by the powers ! I'll pop in a ball onknownst to him.” And, sure enough, Andy contrived, while the seconds were engaged with each other, to put a ball into each pistol before the barrel was loaded with powder, so that, when Dick took up his pistols to load, a bullet lay between the powder and the touch-hole. Now this must have been discovered by Dick, had he been cool ; but he and Tom Durfy had wrangled very much about the point they had been discussing, and Dick, at no time the quietest person in the world, was in such a rage, that the pistols were loaded by him without noticing Andy's ingenious interference, and he handed a harmless weapon to his brother-in-law when he placed him on his ground.
The word was given. Murtough, following his friend's advice, fired instantly : bang he went, while the squire returned but a flash in the pan. He turned a look of reproach upon Dick, who took the pistol silently from him, and handed him the other, having carefully looked to the priming, after the accident which happened to the first.
Durfy handed his man another pistol also; and, before he left his side, said in a whisper, “ Don't forget ; have the first fire.”
Again the word was given: Murphy blazed away a rapid and harmless shot; for his hurry was the squire's safety, while Andy's murderous intentions were his salvation.