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“D-n the pistol!” said the squire, throwing it down in a rage. Dick took it up with manifest indignation, and d-d the powder.
“Your powder's damp, Ned.”
“No, it's not,” said the squire ; "it's you who have bungled the loading."
“Me!” said Dick, with a look of mingled rage and astonishment : “ I bungle the loading of pistols !-1, that have stepped more ground and arranged more affairs than any man in the country !-Arrah, be aisy, Ned !"
Tom Durfy now interfered, and said, for the present it was no matter, as, on the part of his friend, he begged to express himself satisfied.
“But it's very hard we're not to have a shot,” said Dick, poking the touch-hole of the pistol with a pricker which he had just taken from the case which Andy was holding before him.
“Why, my dear Dick,” said Durfy, “as Murphy has had two shots, and the squire has not had the return of either, he declares he will not fire at him again ; and, under these circumstances, I must take my man off the ground.”
“Very well,” said Dick, still poking the touch-hole, and examining the point of the pricker as he withdrew it.
“And now Murphy wants to know, since the affair is all over and his honour satisfied, what was your brother-in-law's motive in assaulting him this morning, for he himself cannot conceive a cause for it."
“Oh, be aisy, Tom.”
“Why, he sent him a blister,—a regular apothecary’s blister,-instead of some law process, by way of a joke, and Ned wouldn't stand it.”
Durfy held a moment's conversation with Murphy, who now advanced to the squire, and begged to assure him there must be some mistake in the business, for that he had never committed the impertinence of which he was accused.
"All I know is," said the squire, “that I got a blister, which my messenger said you gave him.”
“By virtue of my oath, squire, I never did it! I gave Andy an enclosure of the law process."
" Then it's some mistake that vagabond has made," said the squire. “Come here, you sir !” he shouted to Andy, who was trembling under the angry eye of Dick the Devil, who, having detected a bit of lead on the point of the pricker, guessed in a moment Andy had been at work; and the unfortunate rascal had a misgiving that he had made some blunder, from the furious look of Dick.
“Why don't you come here when I call you ?” said the squire.—Andy laid down the pistol-case, and sneaked up to the squire.-" What did you do with the letter Mr. Murphy gave you for me yesterday ?” .
“I brought it to your honour.” “No, you didn't," said Murphy. “You've made some mistake."
“Divil a mistake I made," answered Andy very stoutly; “I wint home the minit you gev it to me.”
“ Did you go home direct from my house to the squire's ?"
“ Yis, sir, I did : I wint direct home, and called at Mr. M'Garry's by the way for some physic for the childre."
“ That's it!" said Murtough ; "he changed my enclosure for a blister there; and if MÖGarry has only had the luck to send the bit o' parchment to O'Grady, it will be the best joke I've heard this month of Sundays."
“He did ! he did !" shouted Tom Durfy ; “for don't you remember how O'Grady was after MGarry this morning.”
“ Sure enough," said Murtough, enjoying the double mistake. “By dad! Andy, you've made a mistake this time that I'll forgive you."
“By the powers o' war!" roared Dick the Devil, “I won't forgive him what he did now, though! What do you think ?" said he, holding out the pistols, and growing crimson with rage : "may I never fire another shot if he hasn't crammed a brace of bullets down the pistols before I loaded them : so, no wonder you burned prime, Ned.”
There was a universal laugh at Dick's expense, whose pride in being considered the most accomplished regulator of the duello was well known.
“Oh, Dick, Dick ! you're a pretty second,' was shouted by all.
Dick, stung by the laughter, and feeling keenly the ridiculous position in which he was placed, made a rush at Andy, who, seeing the storm brewing, gradually sneaked away from the group, and when he perceived the sudden movement of Dick the Devil, took to his heels, with Dick after him.
“Hurra!" cried Murphy ; "a racema race! I'll bet on Andy-five pounds on Andy."
“Done!" said the squire ; “ I'll back Dick the Divil." “ Tare an' ouns !" roared Murphy; “how Andy runs! Fear's a fine
“So is rage," said the squire. “Dick's hot-foot after him. Will you double the bet?”
“Done !" said Murphy.
The infection of betting caught the bystanders, and various gages were thrown down and taken up upon the speed of the runners, who were getting rapidly into the distance, flying over hedge and ditch with surprising velocity, and, from the level nature of the ground an extensive view could not be obtained ; therefore Tom Durfy, the steeplechaser, cried, “ Mount, mount! or we'll lose the fun : into our saddles, and after them !”
Those who had steeds took the hint, and a numerous field of horsemen joined in the chase of Handy Andy and Dick the Devil, who still maintained great speed. The horsemen made for a neighbouring hill, whence they could command a wider view; and the betting went on briskly, varying according to the vicissitudes of the race.
- Two to one on Dick-he's closing." “ Done!—Andy will wind him yet.”
“ Well done !-there's a leap! Hurra!—Dick's down ! Well done, Dick !-up again, and going."
“Mind the next quickset hedge—that's a rasper, it's a wide gripe, and the hedge is as thick as a wall—Andy'll stick in it-Mind him !Well leap'd, by the powers !-Ha! he's sticking in the hedge—Dick'll catch him now.—No, by jingo! he has pushed his way through-there, he's going again at the other side.-Ha! ha! ha! ha! look at him-he's in tatthers !-he has left half of his breeches in the hedge.”
“Dick is over now.-Hurra!—he has lost the skirt of his coat-Andy is gaining on him.—Two to one on Andy!”
“ Down he goes !” was shouted, as Andy's foot slipped in making a dash at another ditch, into which he went head over heels, and Dick followed fast, and disappeared after him.
“Ride! ride !" shouted Tom Durfy; and the horsemen put their spurs in the flanks of their steeds, and were soon up to the scene of action. There was Andy, roaring murder, rolling over and over in the muddy bottom of a deep ditch, floundering in rank weeds and duck's meat, with Dick fastened on him, pummelling away most unmercifully, but not able to kill him altogether, for want of breath.
The horsemen, in a universal screech of laughter, dismounted, and disengaged the unfortunate Andy from the fangs of Dick the Devil, who was dragged from out of the ditch much more like a scavenger than a gentleman.
The moment Andy got loose, away he ran again, with a rattling “ Tally ho!" after him, and he never cried stop till he earthed himself under his mother's bed in the parent cabin.
Murtough Murphy characteristically remarked, that the affair of the day had taken a very whimsical turn :-“ Here are you and I, Squire, who went out to shoot each other, safe and well, while one of the seconds has come off rather worse for the wear; and a poor deyil, who had nothing to say to the matter in hand, good, bad, or indifferent, is nearly killed."
The Squire and Murtough then shook hands, and parted friends in half an hour after they had met as foes ; and even Dick contrived to forget his annoyance in an extra stoup of claret that day after dinner, filling more than one bumper in drinking confusion to Handy Andy, which seemed a rather unnecessary malediction.