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Love is of as many patterns, cuts, shapes, and colours, as people's garments ; and the loves of Edward O'Connor and Fanny Dawson had very little resemblance to the tender passion which agitated the breast of the widow Flanagan, and made Tom Durfy her slave. Yet the widow and Tom demand the offices of the chronicler as well as the more elevated pair, and this our veracious history could never get on if we exhausted all our energies upon the more engaging personages, to the neglect of the rest ; your plated handles, scrolls, and mountings, are all very well on your carriage, but it could not move without its plain iron bolts.
Now the reader must know something of the fair Mistress Flanagan, who was left in very comfortable circumstances by a niggardly husband, who did her the favour to die suddenly one day, to the no small satisfaction of the pleasure-loving widow, who married him in an odd sort of a hurry, and got rid of him as quickly. Mr. Flanagan was engaged in supplying the export provision trade, which, every one knows, is considerable in Ireland ; and his dealings in beef and butter were extensive. This brought him into contact with the farmers for many miles round, whom he met, not only every market day at every market town in the county, but at their own houses, where a knife and fork were always at the service of the rich buyer. One of these was a certain Mat Riley, who, on small means, managed to live, and rear a son and three bouncing, good-looking girls, who helped to make butter, feed calves, and superintend the education of pigs; and on these active and comely lasses Mr. Flanagan often cast an eye of admiration, with a view to making one of them his wife ; for though he might have had his pick and choice of many fine girls in the towns he dealt in, he thought the simple, thrifty, and industrious habits of a plain farmer's daughter more likely to conduce to his happiness and profit,-for in that, principally, lay the aforesaid happiness of Mr. Flanagan. Now this intention of honouring one of the three Miss Rileys with promotion, he never hinted at in the remotest degree, and even in his own mind the thought was mixed up with fat cattle and prices current; and it was not until a leisure moment, one day, when he was paying Mat Riley for some of his farming produce, that he broached the subject, thus :
" Mat." " Sir." “ I'm thinkin' o' marrying."' “ Well, she'll have a snug house, whoever she is, Misther Flanagan." “ Them's fine girls o' your's." Poor Mat opened his eyes with delight at this prospect of such a match for one of his daughters, and said they were “comely lumps o' girls, sure enough ; but what was betther, they wor good."
“ That's what I'm thinking,” says Flanagan.-" There's two ten-poun’ notes, and a five, and one is six, and one is seven ; and three tenpinnies is two and sixpence ; that's twenty-seven poun'two and sixpence ; eightpence ha'penny is the lot; but I haven't copper in my company, Mat.”
“ Oh, no matther, Misther Flanagan. And is it one o' my colleens you've been throwin' the eye at, sir ?”
“ Yes, Mat, it is. You're askin' too much for them firkins."
“Oh, Misther Flanagan, consider it's prime butther. I'll back my girls for making up a bit o' butther agen any girls in Ireland ; and my cows is good, and the pasture prime.”
“ 'Tis a farthin' a pound too high, Mat; and the market not lively."
“ The butther is good, Misther Flanagan; and not decenther girls in Ireland than the same girls, though I am their father,"
“ I'm thinkin' i'll marry one o' them, Mat.” “ Sure an’ it's proud I'll be, sir;—and which o' them is it, maybe ?" “ Faith I don't know myself, Mat. Which do you think, yourself?''
“ Throth, myself doesn't know,—they're all good. Nance is nice, and Biddy's biddable, and Kitty's cute."
“ You're a snug man, Mat; you ought to be able to give a husband a thrifle with them.”
"Nothin' worth your while, anyhow, Misther Flanagan. But sure one o' my girls without a rag to her back, or a tack to her feet, would be betther help to an honest industherin' man, than one o' your showy, lantherumswash divils out of a town, that would spend more than she'd bring with her.'
“That's thrue, Mat. I'll marry one o' your girls, I think.”
“ You'll have my blessin', sir; and proud I'll be-and proud the girl ought to be that I'll say. And suppose now you'd come over on Sunday, and take share of a plain man's dinner, and take your pick o' the girls ;-there's a fine bull goose that Nance towld me she'd have ready afther last mass ; for Father Ulick said he'd come and dine with us."
“ I can't, Mat; I must be in the canal boat on Sunday ; but I'll go and breakfast with you to-morrow, on my way to Billy Mooney's, who has a fine lot of pigs to sell— remarkable fine pigs."
6 Well, we'll expect you to breakfast, sir.”
" Just marry her off, and take her home. Short reckonings make long friends."
“ Thrue for you, sir.". “Nothing to give with the girl, you say ?” “ My blessin' only, sir.” “Well, you must throw in that butther, Mat, and take the farthin' off.”
" It's yours, sir," said Mat, delighted, loading Flanagan with “ good byes” and “ God save yous," until they should meet next morning at breakfast.
Mat rode home in great glee at the prospect of providing so well for one of his girls, and told them a man would be there the next morning
to make choice of one of them for his wife. The girls, very naturally, inquired who the man was ; to which Mat, in the plenitude of patriarchal power, replied," that was nothing to them ;' and his daughters had sufficient experience of his temper to know there was no use in asking more questions after such an answer. He only added, she would be “ well off that should get him.” Now, their father being such a bug-aboo, it is no wonder the girls were willing to take the chance of a goodhumoured husband instead of an iron-handed father; so they set to work to make themselves as smart as possible for the approaching trial of their charms, and a battle royal ensued between the sisters as to the right and title to certain pieces of dress which were hitherto considered a sort of common property amongst them, and which the occasion of a fair, or a pattern, * or market-day, was enough to establish the possession of, by whichever of the girls went to the public place; but now, when a husband was to be won, privilege of all sorts was pleaded, in which discussion there was more noise than sound reason, and so many violent measures to secure the envied morceaux, that some destruction of finery took place, where there was none to spare ; and, at last, seniority was agreed upon to decide the question of possession; so that, when Nance had the first plunder of the chest which held all their clothes in common, and Biddy made the second grab, poor Kitty had little left but her ordinary rags to appear in. But, as in the famous judgment on Ida's mount, it is hinted that Venus carried the day by her scarcity of drapery, so did Kitty conquer by want of clothes ; not that Love sat in judgment; it was Plutus turned the scale. But, to leave metaphor and classic illustration, and go back to Mat Riley's cabin ; the girls were washing, and starching, and ironing all night, and the morning saw them arrayed for conquest; Flanagan came, and breakfasted, and saw the three girls. A flashy silk handkerchief which Nancy wore, put her hors de combat very soon ; she was set down at once, in his mind, as extravagant. Biddy might have had a chance if she had made anything like a fair division with her youngest sister ; but Kitty had been so plundered that her shabbiness won an easy victory over the niggard's heart; he saw in her “the making of a thrifty wife;" besides which, she was possibly the best looking, and certainly the youngest of the three ; and there is no knowing how far old Flanagan might have been influenced by these considerations.
He spoke very little to any of the girls ; but when he was leaving the house, he said to the father, as he was shaking hands with him, “ Mat, I'll do it:” and pointing at Kitty, he added, “ That's the one I'll have."
Great was the rage of the elder sisters, for Flanagan was notoriously a wealthy man, and when he quitted the house, Kitty set up such a shout of laughter, that her father and sisters told her several times 66 not to make a fool of herself." Still she laughed, and throughout the day sometimes broke out into sudden roars; and while her sides shook with merriment, she would throw herself into a chair, or lean against the wall, to rest herself after the fatigue of her uproarious mirth.
* A half-holy half-merry meeting held at some certain place on the day dedicated to the Saint who is supposed to be the patron of the spot :-hence the name "patlern."
Now Kitty, while she laughed at the discomfiture of her greedy sisters, also laughed at the mistake into which Mr. Flanagan had fallen; for, as her father said of her, she was “ cute," and she more than suspected the cause of Flanagan's choice, and enjoyed the anticipation of his disappointment, for she was fonder of dress than either Nancy or Biddy, and revelled in the notion of astonishing “ the old niggard," as she called him ; and this she did “ many a time and oft." In vain did Flanagan try to keep her extravagance within bounds. She would either wheedle, or reason, or bully, or shame him into doing what she said " was right and proper for a snug man like him.” His house was soon well furnished : she made him get her a jaunting car. She sometimes would go to parties, and no one was better dressed than the woman he chose for her rags. He got enraged now and then ; but Kitty pacified him by soft words or daring inventions of her fertile fancy. Once, when he caught her in the fact of wearing a costly crimson silk gown, and stormed,-she soothed him by telling him it was her old black one she had dyed; and this bouncer, to the great amusement of her female friends, he loved to repeat, as a proof of what a careful contriving creature he had in Kitty. She was naturally quick-witted. She managed him admirably, deceived him into being more comfortable than ever he had been before, and had the laudable ambition of endeavouring to improve both his and her own condition in every way. She set about educating herself, too, as far as her notions of education went; and in a few years after her marriage, by judiciously using the means which her husband's wealth afforded her of advancing her position in society, no one could have recognised in the lively and welldressed Mrs. Flanagan, the gawky daughter of a middling farmer. She was very good-natured, too, towards her sisters, whose condition she took care to improve with her own; and a very fair match for the eldest was made through her means. The younger one was often staying in her house, dividing her time nearly between the town and her father's farm, and no party which Mrs. Flanagan gave or appeared at, went off without giving Biddy a chance to "settle herself in the world." This was not done without a battle now and then with old Flanagan, whose stinginess would exhibit itself upon occasion ; but at last all let and hinderance to the merry lady ceased, by the sudden death of her old husband, who left her the entire of his property, so that, for the first time, his will was her pleasure.
After the funeral of the old man, the “ disconsolate widow" was withdrawn from her own house by her brother and sister to the farm, which grew to be a much more comfortable place than when Kitty left it, for to have remained in her own house after the loss of “ her good man," would have been too hard on “ the lone woman." So said her sister and her brother, though, to judge from the widow's eyes, she was not very heart-broken: she cried as much, no doubt, as young widows generally do after old husbands, -and could Kitty be expected to do more?
She had not been many days in her widowhood, when Biddy asked her to drive into the town, where Biddy had to do a little shopping,- that great business of ladies' lives.
“Oh, Biddy, dear, I must not go out so soon."
'Twill do you good, Kitty." “I mustn't be seen, you know— 'twouldn't be right, and poor dear Flanagan not buried a week!"
“ Sure, who'll see you? We'll go in the covered car, and draw the curtains close, and who'll be the wiser ?”.
“ If I thought no one would see me !" said the widow.
“Ah, who'll see you ?” exclaimed Biddy. “Come along; the drive will do you good."
The widow agreed ; but when Biddy asked for a horse to put to the car, her brother refused, for the only horse not at work he was going to yoke in a cart that moment, to send a lamb to the town. Biddy vowed she would have a horse, and her brother swore the lamb should be served first, till Biddy made a compromise, and agreed to take the lamb under the seat of the car, and thus accommodate all parties.
Matters being thus accommodated, off the ladies set, the lamb tied neck and heels, and crammed under the seat, and the curtains of the car ready to be drawn at a moment's notice, in case they should meet any one on the road ; for “ why should not the poor widow enjoy the fresh air as they drove along ?” About half way to the town, however, the widow suddenly exclaimed,
“ Biddy, draw the curtains !!
" I see him coming after us round the turn o' the road !" and the widow looked so horrified, and plucked at the curtains so furiously, that Biddy, who was superstitious, thought nothing but old Flanagan's ghost could have produced such an effect; and began to scream and utter holy ejaculations, until the sight of Tom Durfy riding after them showed her the cause of her sister's alarm.
“ If that divil, Tom Durfy, sees me, he'll tell it all over the country, he's such a quiz ; shove yourself well before the door there, Biddy, that he can't peep into the car. Oh, why did I come out this day !--I wish your tongue was cut out, Biddy, that asked me!”
In the meantime Tom Durfy closed on them fast, and began telegraphing Biddy, who, according to the widow's desire, had shoved herself well before the door.
“ Pull up, Tim, pull up," said the widow, from the inside of the car, to the driver, whom she thumped in the back at the same time, to impress upon him her meaning," turn about, and pretend to drive back!- We'll let that fellow ride on," said she quietly to Biddy.
Just as this manoeuvre was executed, up came Tom Durfy. “ How are you, Miss Riley ?'' said he, as he drew rein.
“ Pretty well, thank you," said Biddy, putting her head and shoulders through the window, while the widow shrunk back into the corner of the car.
“ How very sudden poor Mr. Flanagan's death was! I was quite surprised.”
“Yes, indeed,” says Biddy, “I was just taking a little drive ; good bye.” “ I was very much shocked to hear of it," said Tom. ro'Twas dreadful," said Biddy.