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width of the stream startled him ; “but Owny towld me to take grate care o' the baste, and I'm loath to wet his feet.”
“ Go ’long wid you, you fool! what harm would it do him ? Sure he's neither sugar nor salt, that he'd melt."
“Well, I won't anyhow,” said Andy, who by this time had got the horse into a good high trot, that shook every word of argument out of Paudeen's body; besides, it was as much as the boys could do to keep their seats on Owny's Bucephalus, who was not long in reaching the miller's bridge. Here voice and halter were employed to pull him in, that he might cross the narrow wooden structure at a quiet pace. But whether his double load had given him the idea of double exertion, or that the pair of legs on each side sticking into his flanks, (and perhaps the horse was ticklish) made him go the faster, we know not; but the horse charged the bridge as if an Enniskilliner were on his back, and an enemy before him; and in two minutes his hoofs clattered like thunder on the bridge, that did not bend beneath him. No, it did not bend, but it broke; proving the falsehood of the boast, “ I may break, but I won't bend;" for, after all, the really strong may bend, and be as strong as ever: it is the unsound, that has only the seeming of strength, which breaks at last when it resists too long.
Surprising was the spin the young equestrians took over the ears of the horse, enough to make all the artists of Astley's envious; and plump they went into the river, where each formed his own ring, and executed some comical “scenes in the circle," which were suddenly changed to evolutions on the “flying cord” that Dinny Dowling threw the performers, which became suddenly converted into a “tight rope" as he dragged the voltigeurs out of the water ; and for fear their blood might be chilled by the accident, he gave them both an enormous thrashing with the dry end of the rope, just to restore circulation ; and his exertions, had they been witnessed, would have charmed the Humane Society.
As for the horse, his legs stuck through the bridge, as though he had been put in a chiroplast, and he went playing away on the water with considerable execution, as if he were accompanying himself in the song which he was squealing at the top of his voice. Half the saws, hatchets, ropes, and poles in the parish were put in requisition immediately ; and the horse's first lesson in chiroplastic exercise was performed with no other loss than some skin and a good deal of hair. Of course Andy did not venture on taking Owny's horse home ; so the miller sent him to his owner with an account of the accident. Andy for years kept out of Owny na Coppal's way; and at any time that his presence was troublesome, the inconvenienced party had only to say, “Isn't that Owna na Coppal coming this way?” and Andy fled for his life.
When Andy grew up to be what in country parlance is called “a brave lump of a boy," his mother thought he was old enough to do something for himself; so she took him one day along with her to the squire's, and waited outside the door, loitering up and down the yard behind the house, among a crowd of beggars and great lazy dogs that were thursting their heads into every iron pot that stood outside the kitchen door, until chance might give her “a sight o'the squire afore
he wint out or afore he wint in;" and, after spending her entire day in this idle way, at last the squire made his appearance, and Judy presented her son, who kept scraping his foot, and pulling his forelock, that stuck out like a piece of ragged thatch from his forehead, making his obeisance to the squire, while his mother was sounding his praises for being the “handiest craythur alive--and so willin'-nothin' comes wrong to him.”
" I suppose the English of all this is, you want me to take him ?” said the squire.
“Throth, an' your honour, that's just it—if your honour would be plazed."
“What can he do ?"
“Oh, no, sir. Everything, I mane, that you would desire him to do."
To every one of these assurances on his mother's part Andy made a bow and a scrape.
“ Can he take care of horses ?”.
“ The best of care, sir," said the mother; while the miller, who was standing behind the squire waiting for orders, made a grimace at Andy, who was obliged to cram his face into his hat to hide the laugh, which he could hardly smother from being heard, as well as seen.
“Let him come, then, and help in the stables, and we'll see what he can do."
"May the Lord—". “ That'll do—there, now go.” “Oh, sure, but I'll pray for you, and—" “ Will you go?" “ And may angels make your honour's bed this blessed night, I
“ If you don't go, your son shan't come."
Judy and her hopeful boy turned to the right about in double-quick time, and hurried down the avenue.
The next day Andy was duly installed into his office of stable-helper; and, as he was a good rider, he was soon made whipper-in to the hounds, as there was a want of such a functionary in the establishment; and Andy's boldness in this capacity made him soon a favourite with the squire, who was one of those rollicking boys on the pattern of the old school, who scorned the attentions of a regular valet, and let any one that chance threw in his way bring him his boots, or his hot water for shaving, or his coat, whenever it was brushed. One morning, Andy, who was very often the attendant on such occasions, came to his room with hot water. He tapped at the door.
“Who's that ?" said the squire, who was but just risen, and did not know but it might be one of the women servants.
“ It's me, sir.” “OhAndy! Come in." “Here's the hot wather, sir,” said Andy, bearing an enormous tin can.
“ Why, what the d--l brings that tin can here? You might as well bring the stable-bucket.”
“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Andy, retreating. In two minutes more Andy came back, and, tapping at the door, put in his head cautiously, and said, “ The maids in the kitchen, your honour, says there's not so much hot wather ready."
“ Did I not see it a moment since in your hands ?" “Yes, sir ; but that's not nigh the full o’the stable-bucket.” “Go along, you stupid thief! and get me some hot water directly.” “ Will the can do, sir ?" “Ay, anything, so you make haste." Off posted Andy, and back he came with the can. “ Where'll I put it, sir ?"
“ Throw this out,” said the squire, handing Andy a jug containing some cold water, meaning the jug to be replenished with the hot.
Andy took the jug, and the window of the room being open, he very deliberately threw the jug out. The squire stared with wonder, and at last said,
“What did you do that for ?".
“Go out of this, you thick-headed villain !" said the squire, throwing his boots at Andy's head, along with some very neat curses. Andy retreated, and thought himself a very ill-used person.
Though Andy's regular business was - whipper-in,” yet he was liable to be called on for the performance of various other duties : he sometimes attended at table when the number of guests required that all the subs should be put in requisition, or rode on some distant errand for “ the mistress," or drove out the nurse and children on the jauntingcar; and many were the mistakes, delays, or accidents arising from Handy Andy's interference in such matters ;-but, as they were seldom serious, and generally laughable, they never cost him the loss of his place, or the squire's favour, who rather enjoyed Andy's blunders.
The first time Andy was admitted into the mysteries of the diningroom, great was his wonder. The butler took him in to give him some previous instructions, and Andy was so lost in admiration at the sight of the assembled glass and plate, that he stood with his mouth and eyes wide open, and scarcely heard a word that was said to him. After the headman had been dinning his instructions into him for some time, he said he might go, until his attendance was required. But Andy moved not; he stood with his eyes fixed by a sort of fascination on some object that seemed to rivet them with the same unaccountable influence which the rattle-snake exercises over its victim.
“What are you looking at?”' said the butler.
“Oh no, sir! I know what forks is very well; but I never seen them things afore.”
“What things do you mean?"
“These things, sir,” said Andy, taking up one of the silver forks, and turning it round and round in his hand in utter astonishment, while the butler grinned at his ignorance, and enjoyed his own superior knowledge.
“ Well !” said Andy, after a long pause, “ the divil be from me if ever I seen a silver spoon split that way before !"
The butler laughed a horse-laugh, and made a standing joke of Andy's split spoon ; but time and experience made Andy less impressed with wonder at the show of plate and glass, and the split spoons became familiar as “household words' to him; yet still there were things in the duties of table attendance beyond Andy's comprehension,-he used to hand cold plates for fish, and hot plates for jelly, &c. But one day,' as Zanga says,—'one day' he was thrown off his centre in a remarkable degree by a bottle of soda-water.
It was when that combustible was first introduced into Ireland as a dinner beverage that the occurrence took place, and Andy had the luck to be the person to whom a gentleman applied for some soda-water.
“Sir ?” said Andy.
“Soda-water," said the guest, in that subdued tone in which people are apt to name their wants at a dinner-table.
Andy went to the butler. “Mr. Morgan, there's a gintleman
“Let me alone, will you ?" said Mr Morgan.
Andy manæuvred round him a little longer, and again essayed to be heard.
" Mr. Morgan !" “Don't you see I'm as busy as I can be ! Can't you do it yourself ?” “I dunna what he wants.” “Well, go and ax him," said Mr. Morgan
Andy went off as he was bidden, and came behind the thirsty gentleman's chair, with “I beg your pardon, sir.”
“Well!” said the gentleman. “I beg your pardon, sir ; but what's this you ax'd me for ?” • Soda-water.” " What, sir ?" “ Soda-water : but, perhaps, you have not any." “Oh, there's plenty in the house, sir! Would you like it hot, sir !"
The gentleman laughed, and, supposing the new fashion was not understood in the present company, said, “ Never mind.”
But Andy was too anxious to please, to be so satisfied, and again applied to Mr. Morgan.
"Sir !'' said he.
“ Divil sweep you !-Soda-wather, you mane. You'll get it under the sideboard."
“Is it in the can, sir ?"
"I wish you wor in the bottom o' the say!” said Mr. Morgan, who was fuming and puffing, and rubbing down his face with a napkin, as he was hurrying to all quarters of the room, or, as Andy said, in praising his activity, that he was “ like bad luck,-everywhere."
6. There they are !” said Morgan, at last.
“Oh! them bottles that won't stand,” said Andy; “sure, them's what I said, with no bottoms to them. How'll I open it ?-it's tied down."
“ Cut the cord, you fool !”
Andy did as he was desired; and he happened at the time to hold the bottle of soda-water on a level with the candles that shed light over the festive board from a large silver branch, and the moment he made the incision, bang went the bottle of soda, knocking out two of the lights with the projected cork, which, performing its parabola the length of the room, struck the squire himself in the eye at the foot of the table, while the hostess at the head had a cold-bath down her back. Andy, when he saw the soda-water jumping out of the bottle, held it from him at arm's length ; every fizz it made, exclaiming “Ow!-ow!-ow!" and, at last, when the bottle was empty, he roared out, “Oh, Lord !it's all gone !"
Great was the commotion ;-few could resist laughter except the ladies, who all looked at their gowns, not liking the mixture of satin and soda-water. The extinguished candles were relighted,—the squire got his eye open again,-and, the next time he perceived the butler sufficiently near to speak to him, he said in a low and hurried tone of deep anger, while he knit his brow,“ Send that fellow out of the room!” but, within the same instant, resumed the former smile, that beamed on all around as if nothing had happened.
Andy was expelled the salle à manger in disgrace, and for days kept out of his master's and mistress's way: in the mean time the butler made a good story of the thing in the servants' hall; and, when he held up Andy's ignorance to ridicule, by telling how he asked for “ soap and water,” Andy was given the name of “ Suds,” and was called by no other for months after.
But, though Andy's functions in the interior were suspended, his services in out-of-doors affairs were occasionally put in requisition. But here his evil genius still haunted him, and he put his foot in a piece of business his master sent him upon one day, which was so simple as to defy almost the chance of Andy making any mistake about it ; but Andy was very ingenious in his own particular line.
“Ride into the town, and see if there's a letter for me," said the squire one day to our hero.
66 Yis, sir."
“Didn't I often tell you to ask what you're to do, when you don't know ?"