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“ How is poor Mrs. Flanagan ?" said Tom.
“ As well as can be expected, poor thing !-good bye !" said Biddy, manifestly anxious to cut short the conference.
This anxiety was so obvious to Tom, who, for the sake of fun, loved cross-purposes dearly, that he determined to push his conversation further, just because he saw it was unwelcome.
“ To be sure,” continued he, “ at his time of life"
“ Doctor Growling told me so yesterday,” said Biddy ;-" I wonder you're not afraid of stopping in this east wind :-colds are very prevalent. — Good bye!".
Just now, the Genius of farce, who presides so particularly over all Irish affairs, put it into the lamb's head to bleat. The sound at first did not strike Tom Durfy as singular, they being near a high hedge, within which it was likely enough a lamb might bleat; but Biddy, shocked at the thought of being discovered in the fact of making her jaunting car a market cart, reddened up to the eyes, while the widow squeezed herself closer into the corner.
Tom seeing the increasing embarrassment of Biddy, and her desire to be off, still would talk to her, for the love of mischief.
" I beg your pardon," he continued, “just one moment more, I wanted to ask was it not apoplexy, for I heard an odd report about the
“Oh, yes," says Biddy,—" apoplexy-good bye.”
Tom cocked his ears, Biddy grew redder, and the widow crammed her handkerchief into her mouth to endeavour to smother her laughter.
“ I hope poor Mrs. Flanagan bears it well," says Tom.
Biddy spoke louder and faster, the widow kicked with laughing, and Tom then suspected whence the sound proceeded.
" She does nothing but cry all day !” says Biddy. " Baa-a-a !'' says the lamb.
The widow could stand it no longer, and a peal of laughter followed the lamb's bleat.
“ What is all this?” said Tom, laying hold of the curtains with relentless hand, and spite of Biddy's screams, rudely unveiling the sanctuary of sorrowing widowhood. Oh! what a sight for the rising I beg their pardon-the sinking generation of old gentlemen who take young wives, did Tom behold !—There was the widow, lying back in the corner,-she who was represented as inconsolable and crying all day, shaking with laughter, and tears, not of sorrow, but irrepressible mirth rolling down a cheek rosy enough for a bride.
Biddy, of course, joined the shout. T'om roared in an agony of delight. The very driver's risibility rebelled against the habits of respect, and strengthened the chorus, while the lamb, as if conscious of the authorship of the joke, put in a longer and louder baa-a-a-a !!!
Tom, with all his devilment, had good taste enough to feel it was not a scene to linger on; so merely giving a merry nod to each of the ladies, he turned about his horse as fast as he could, and rode away in roars of laughter.
When, in due course of time, the widow again appeared in company, she and Tom Durfy could never meet without smiling at each other. What a pleasant influence lies in mutual smiles ;-we love the lips which welcome us without words ! Such sympathetic influence it was that led the widow and Tom to get better and better acquainted, and like each other more and more, until she thought him the pleasantest fellow in the county, and he thought her the handsomest woman:-besides, she had a good fortune.
The widow, conscious of her charms and her money, did not let Tom, however, lead the quietest life in the world. She liked, with the un-failing propensity of her sex, to vex the man she loved, now and then, and assert her sway over so good-looking a fellow. He, in his turn, played off the widow very well ; and one unfailing source of a mirthful reconciliation on Tom's part, whenever the widow was angry, and that he wanted to bring her back to good humour, was to steal behind her chair, and coaxingly putting his head over her fair shoulder, to pat her gently on her peachy cheek, and cry“ Baa!"
Andy was in sad disgrace for some days with his mother ; but, like all mothers, she soon forgave the blunders of her son,-and indeed mothers are well off who have not more than blunders to forgive. Andy did all in his power to make himself useful at home, now that he was out of place and dependent on his mother, and got a day's work here and there when he could. Fortunately the season afforded him more employment than winter months would have done. But the farmers had soon all their crops made up, and when Andy could find no work to be paid for, he set-to to cut the " scrap o' meadow," as he called it, on a small field of his mother's. Indeed, it was but a “ scrap,” for the place where it grew was one of those broken bits of ground, so common in the vicinity of mountain ranges, where rocks, protruding through the soil, give the notion of a very fine crop of stones. Now, this locality gave to Andy the opportunity of exercising a bit of his characteristic ingenuity ; for when the hay was ready for “cocking,” he selected a good thumping rock as the foundation for his haystack, and the superstructure consequently cut a more respectable figure than one could have anticipated from the appearance of the little crop as it lay on the ground ; and as no vestige of the rock was visible, the widow, when she came out to see the work completed, wondered and rejoiced at the size of her haystack, and said, “ God bless you, Andy, but you're the natest hand for puttin' up a bit o' hay I ever seen : throth, I didn't think there was the half of it in it!" Little did the widow know that the cock of hay was as great a cheat as a bottle of champagne---more than half bottom. It was all very well for the widow to admire her hay ; but at last she came to sell it, and such sales are generally effected in Ireland by the purchaser buying “ in the lump,” as it is called, that is, calculating the value of the hay from the appearance of the stack, as it stands, and drawing it away upon his own cars. Now, as luck would have it, it was Andy's early acquaintance, Owny na Coppal, bought the hay; and in consideration of the lone woman, gave her as good a price as he could afford, for Owny was an honest, open-hearted fellow, though he was a horsedealer ; so he paid the widow the price of her hay on the spot, and said he would draw it away at his convenience.
In a few days Owny's cars and men were sent for this purpose ; but when they came to take the haystack to pieces, the solidity of its centre rather astonished them,-and instead of the cars going back loaded, two had their journey for nothing, and went home empty. Previously to his men leaving the widow's field they spoke to her on the subject, and said,
“ 'Pon my conscience, ma'am, the centre o' your haystack was mighty heavy."
* Oh, indeed, it's powerful hay,” said she,
“Maybe so," said they ; “but there's not much nourishment in that part of it."
“Not finer hay in Irelarid," said she.
" What's of it, ma'am," said they. “Faix, we think Mr. Doyle will be talkin' to you about it.” And they were quite right; for Owny became indignant at being overreached, as he thought, and lost no time in going to the widow to tell her so. When he arrived at her cabin, Andy happened to be in the house ; and when the widow raised her voice through the storm of Owny's rage, in protestations that she knew nothing about it, but that “ Andy, the darlin', put the cock up with his own hands," then did Owny's passion gather strength.
“Oh! it's you, you vagabone, is it ?” said he, shaking his whip at Andy, with whom he never had had the honour of a conversation since the memorable day when his horse was nearly killed. “ So this is more o' your purty work! Bad cess to you! wasn't it enough for you to nighhand kill one o' my horses, without plottin' to chate the rest o'
“ Is it me chate them ?" said Andy. “ Throth, I wouldn't wrong a dumb baste for the world.”
“ Not he, indeed, Misther Doyle," said the widow.
“ Arrah, woman, don't be talkin' your balderdash to me," said Doyle ; “sure, you took my good money for your hay ?”
" And sure I gave all I had to you,-what more could I do?“.
" Tare an ounty, woman! who ever heerd of sich a thing as coverin' up a rock wid hay, and sellin' it as the rale thing."
's 'Twas Andy done it, Mr. Doyle ; hand, act, or part, I hadn't in it."
“Why, then, arn't you ashamed o' yourself.?” said Owny Doyle, addressing Andy.
" Why would I be ashamed ?" said Andy.
" What I done is no chatin',” said Andy; “I had a blessed example for it."
“Oh! do you hear this ?" shouted Owny, nearly provoked to take the worth of his money out of Andy's ribs.
“Yes, I say a blessed example,” said Andy. “ Sure didn't the blessed Saint Pether build his church upon a rock, and why shouldn't I build my cock o' hay on a rock?”.
Owny, with all his rage, could not help laughing at the ridiculous conceit. “By this and that, Andy,” said he, “ you're always sayin' or doin' the quarest things in the counthry, bad cess to you !' So he laid his whip upon his little hack instead of Andy, and galloped off.
Andy went over next day to the neighbouring town, where Owny Doyle kept a little inn and a couple of post-chaises (such as they were), and expressed much sorrow that Owny had been deceived by the appearance of the hay, -" But I'll pay you the differ out o' my wages, Misther Doyle,--in throth I will, -that is, whenever I have any wages