Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

considering the awful consequences of your ungoverned rage (which, I doubt not, now, you deplore), I would suggest to you, by a timely offer of compromise, in the shape of a handsome sum of money-say two hundred pounds—to lull the storm which must otherwise burst on your devoted head, and save your name from dishonour. I anxiously await your answer, as proceedings must instantly commence, and the law take its course, unless Mrs. M'Garry can be pacified.

“ I have the honour to be, Sir,
“Your most obedient Servant,

66 MURTOUGH MURPHY.". To Gustavus Granby O'Grady, Esq.

Neck-or-Nothing Hall.

O'Grady was thoroughly frightened; and, strange as it may appear, did believe he could compromise for killing only a plebeian ; and actually sent Murphy his note of hand for the sum demanded. Murtough posted off to M‘Garry : he and his wife received him with shouts of indignation, and heaped reproaches on his head, for the trick he had played on the apothecary.

“Oh! Mister Murphy-never look me in the face again !" said Mrs. M'Garry, who was ugly enough to make the request quite unnecessary. To send my husband home to me a beast !"

“ Striped like a tiger !” said M'Garry.

“ Blacking and pickled cabbage, Misther Murphy!" said the wife. “ Oh fie, sir !—I did not think you could be so low."

Galvanism !” said M'Garry, furiously. “My professional honour wounded !"

“ Whisht, whisht, man !” said Murphy; " there's a finer plaister than any in your shop for the cure of wounded honour. Look at that !”— and he handed him the note for two hundred,—" There's galyanism for you !"

" What is this ?" said M‘Garry, in amazement.

“ The result of last night's inquest,” said Murphy. “You have got your damages without a trial ; so pocket your money, and be thankful.”

The two hundred pounds at once changed the aspect of affairs. M‘Garry vowed eternal gratitude, with protestations that Murphy was the cleverest attorney alive, and ought to be chief justice. The wife was equally vociferous in her acknowledgments, until Murtough, who, when he entered the house was near falling a sacrifice to the claws of the apothecary's wife, was obliged to rush from the premises, to shun the more terrible consequences of her embraces.

CHAPTER VI.

We have sat so long at our dinner, that we have almost lost sight of poor Andy, to whom we must now return. When he ran to his mother's cabin to escape from the fangs of Dick Dawson, there was no one within ; his mother being digging a few potatoes for supper from the little ridge behind her house, and Oonah Riley, her niece,-an orphan girl who lived with her,-being up to Squire Egan's to sell some eggs; for round the poorest cabins in Ireland you scarcely ever fail to see some ragged hens, whose eggs are never consumed by their proprietors, except, perhaps, on Easter Sunday, but sold to the neighbouring gentry at a trifling price.

Andy cared not who was out or who was in, provided he could only escape from Dick; so, without asking any questions, he crawled under the wretched bed in the dark corner, where his mother and Oonah slept, and where the latter, through the blessed influence of health and youth and an innocent heart, had brighter dreams than attend many a couch whose downy pillows and silken hangings would more than purchase the fee-simple of any cabin in Ireland. There Andy, in a state of utter exhaustion from his fears, his race, and his thrashing, soon fell asleep, and the terrors of Dick the Devil gave place to the blessing of the profoundest slurnber.

Quite unconscious of the presence of her darling Andy was the widow Rooney, as she returned from the potato ridge into her cabin; depositing a skeough of the newly dug esculent at the door, and replacing the spade in its own corner of the cabin. At the same moment Oonah returned, after disposing of her eggs, and handed the threepence she had received for them to her aunt, who dropped them into the deep pocket of blue striped tick which hung at her side.

“ Take the pail, Oonah, ma chree, and run to the well for some wather to wash the pratees, while I get the pot ready for bilin' them; it wants scowrin', for the pig was atin' his dinner out iv it, the craythur !"

Off went Oonah with her pail, which she soon filled from the clear spring; and placing the vessel on her head, walked back to the cabin with that beautifully erect form, free step, and graceful swaying of the figure, so peculiar to the women of Ireland and the East, from their habit of carrying weights upon the head. The potatoes were soon washed ; and as they got their last dash of water in the skeough, whose open wicker-work let the moisture drain from them, up came Larry Hogan, who, being what is called "a civil-spoken man,” addressed Mrs. Rooney in the following agreeable manner :

“ Them's purty pratees, Mrs. Rooney ; God save you, ma'am !"

" 'Deed an' they are, thank you kindly, Mr. Hogan ; God save you and your's too! And how would the woman that owns you be?.

“ Hearty, thank you.” " Will you step in ?"

" No-I'm obleeged to you I must be aff home wid me; but I'll just get a coal for my pipe, for it wint out on me awhile agone with the fright."

“ Well, I've beer'd quare things, Larry Hogan,” said Oonah, laughing and showing her white teeth ; " but I never heer'd so quare a thing as a pipe goin' out with the fright."

“Oh, how sharp you are !-takin' one up afore they're down." “ Not afore they 're down, Larry, for you said it.”

" Well, if I was down, you were down on me, so you are down too, you see. Ha, ha! And afther all now, Oonah, a pipe is like a Christian in many ways :-sure it's made o'clay like a Christian, and has the spark o' life in it, and while the breath is in it the spark is alive ; but when the breath is out of it, the spark dies, and then it grows cowld like a Christian ; and isn't it a pleasant companion like a Christian ?".

“ Faix, some Christians isn't pleasant companions at all!” chimed in Mrs. Rooney, sententiously.

“ Well, but they ought to be," said Larry; "and isn't a pipe sometimes cracked like a Christian, and isn't it sometimes choked like a Christian ?

" Oh, choke you and your pipe together, Larry! will you never have done ?" said the widow.

" The most improvinist thing in the world is smokin',” said Larry, who had now relit his pipe, and squatted himself on a three-legged stool beside the widow's fire." The most improvinist thing in the world"(paugh!)—and a parenthetical whiff of tobacco smoke curled out of the corner of Larry's mouth " is smokin': for the smoke shows you, as it were, the life o' man passin' away like a puff, -(paugh!)—just like that; and the tibakky turns to ashes like his poor perishable body : for, as the song says,

“Tibakky is an Indian weed,
Alive at morn, and dead at eve;
It lives but an hour,

Is cut down like a flower.
Think o' this when you 're smoking tiba-akky!”

And Larry sung the ditty as he crammed some of the weed into the bowl of his pipe with his little finger.

“ Why, you're as good as a sarmint this evenin', Larry," said the widow, as she lifted the iron pot on the fire.

" There's worse sarmints nor that, I can tell you,” rejoined Larry, who took up the old song again

[ocr errors]

Larry puffed away silently for a few minutes, and when Oonah had placed a few sods of turf round the pot in an upright position, that the flame might curl upward round them, and so hasten the boiling, she drew a stool near the fire, and asked Larry to explain about the fright.

“Why, I was coming up by the cross road there, when what should I see but a ghost—"

“A ghost ! ! !” exclaimed the widow and Oonah, with suppressed voices, and distended mouth and eyes.

“ To all appearance," said Larry; “ but it was only a thing was stuck in the hedge to freken whoever was passin' by; and as I kem up to it there was a groan, so I started, and looked at it for a minit, or thereaway; but I seen what it was, and threwn a stone at it, for fear I'd be mistaken; and I heer'd tittherin' inside the hedge, and then I knew 'twas only divilment of some one."

" And what was it?" asked Oonah.

“ 'Twas a horse's head, in throth, with an owld hat on the top of it, and two buck-briars stuck out at each side, and some rags hanging on them, and an owld breeches shakin' undher the head ; 'twas just altogether like a long pale-faced man with high shouldhers and no body, and very long arms and short legs :-faith, it frightened me at first."

“And no wondher," said Oonah. “ Dear, but I think I'd lose my life if I seen the like!"

“But sure," said the widow, "wouldn't you know that ghosts never appears by day ?”

* Ay, but I hadn't time to think o'that, bein' taken short wid the fright,-more betoken, 'twas the place the murdher happened in long ago."

“Sure enough," said the widow. “God betune us and harm!” and she marked herself with the sign of the cross as she spoke :-"and a terrible murdher it was," added she.

“How was it ?” inquired Oonah, drawing her seat closer to her aunt and Larry.

“ 'Twas a schoolmaster, dear, that was found dead on the road one mornin', with his head full of fractions,” said the widow.

“ All in jommethry,'* said Larry.
“And some said he fell off the horse," said the widow.
And more say the horse fell on him," said Larry.

“ And again, there was some said the horse kicked him in the head," said the widow.

“And there was talk of shoe-aside,” said Larry. “ The horse's shoe was it ?" asked Oonah.

“No, alanna," said Larry : “shoe-aside is Latin for cutting your throat.”

“But he didn't cut his throat," said the widow.

“ But sure it's all one whether he done it wid a razhir on his throat, or a hammer on his head ; it's shoe-aside all the same."

"But there was no hammer found, was there ?" said the widow.

"No," said Larry. “But some people thought he might have hid the hammer afther he done it, to take off the disgrace of the shoe-aside.”

* Anything very badly broken is said by the Irish peasantry to be in jommethry.

“But wasn't there any life in him when he was found ?"

“Not a taste. The crowner's jury sot on him, and he never said a word agin it, and if he was alive he would."

“ And didn't they find anything at all ?" asked Oonah.
“ Nothing but the vardick,” said Larry.
“ And was that what killed him ?” said Oonah.

“No, my dear; 'twas the crack in the head that killed him, however he kem by it ; but the vardick o' the crowner was, that it was done, and that some one did it, and that they wor blackguards, whoever they wor, and persons onknown; and sure if they wor unknown then, they'd always stay so, for who'd know them afther doing the like ?”

" Thrue for you, Larry,” said the widow : "but what was that to the murdher over at the green hills beyant ?"

“Oh! that was the terriblest murdher ever was in the place, or nigh it: that was the murdher in earnest!”

With that eagerness which always attends the relation of horrible stories, Larry and the old woman raked up every murder and robbery that had occurred within their recollection, while Oonah listened with mixed curiosity and fear. The boiling over of the pot at length recalled them to a sense of the business that ought to be attended to at the moment, and Larry was invited to take share of the potatoes. This he declined; declaring, as he had done some time previously, that he must “ be off home," and to the door he went accordingly; but as the evening shades had closed into the darkness of night, he paused on opening it with a sensation he would not have liked to own. The fact was, that after the discussion of numerous nightly murders, he would rather have had daylight on the outside of the cabin ; for the horrid stories that had been revived round the blazing hearth were not the best preparation for going a lonely road on a dark night. But go he should, and go he did ; and it is not improbable that the widow, from sympathy, had a notion why Larry paused upon the threshold; for the moinent he had crossed it, and that they had exchanged their “Good night, and God speed you,” the door was rapidly closed and bolted. The widow returned to the fireside and was silent, while Oonah looked by the light of a candle into the boiling pot, to ascertain if the potatoes were yet done, and cast a fearful glance up the wide chimney as she withdrew from the inspection.

“I wish Larry did not tell us such horrid stories," said she, as she laid the rushlight on the table ; “ I'll be dhramin' all night o' them."

“ 'Deed an' that's thrue," said the widow ; “ I wish he hadn't.” “ Sure you was as bad yourself,” said Oonah.

“ Throth, an' I b’lieve I was, child, and I'm sorry for it now; but let us ate our supper, and go to bed, in God's name.'

“ I'm afeard o' my life to go to bed !” said Oonah. “Wisha ! but I'd give the world it was mornin'.”

“ Ate your supper, child, ate your supper,” said her aunt, giving the example, which was followed by Oonah ; and after the light meal, their prayers were said, and perchance with a little extra devotion, from their peculiar state of mind ; then to bed they went. The rushlight being

« ElőzőTovább »