Charles O'Malley, The Irish Dragoon, Volume 1 (of 2)
Part 2 out of 10
declaration that there was nothing like Galway.
"Why don't you give us a song, Miles? And may be the general would learn
more from it than all your speech-making."
"To be sure," cried the several voices together,--"to be sure; let us hear
the 'Man for Galway'!"
Sir George having joined most warmly in the request, Mr. Bodkin filled up
his glass to the brim, bespoke a chorus to his chant, and clearing his
voice with a deep hem, began the following ditty, to the air which Moore
has since rendered immortal by the beautiful song, "Wreath the Bowl," etc.
And, although the words are well known in the west, for the information of
less-favored regions, I here transcribe--
THE MAN FOR GALWAY.
To drink a toast,
A proctor roast,
Or bailiff as the case is;
To kiss your wife,
Or take your life
At ten or fifteen paces;
To keep game-cocks, to hunt the fox,
To drink in punch the Solway,
With debts galore, but fun far more,--
Oh, that's "the man for Galway."
CHORUS: With debts, etc.
The King of Oude
Is mighty proud,
And so were onst the _Caysars_;
But ould Giles Eyre
Would make them stare,
Av he had them with the Blazers.
To the devil I fling--ould Runjeet Sing,
He's only a prince in a small way,
And knows nothing at all of a six-foot wall;
Oh, he'd never "do for Galway."
CHORUS: With debts, etc.
Ye think the Blakes
Are no "great shakes;"
They're all his blood relations.
And the Bodkins sneeze
At the grim Chinese,
For they come from the _Phenaycians_.
So fill the brim, and here's to him
Who'd drink in punch the Solway,
With debts galore, but fun far more,--
Oh, that's "the man for Galway."
CHORUS: With debts, etc.
I much fear that the reception of this very classic ode would not be as
favorable in general companies as it was on the occasion I first heard it;
for certainly the applause was almost deafening, and even Sir George, the
defects of whose English education left some of the allusions out of his
reach, was highly amused, and laughed heartily.
The conversation once more reverted to the election; and although I was too
far from those who seemed best informed on the matter to hear much, I could
catch enough to discover that the feeling was a confident one. This was
gratifying to me, as I had some scruples about my so long neglecting my
"We have Scariff to a man," said Bodkin.
"And Mosey's tenantry," said another. "I swear, though there's not a
freehold registered on the estate, that they'll vote, every mother's son
of them, or devil a stone of the court-house they'll leave standing on
"And may the Lord look to the returning officer!" said a third, throwing up
"Mosey's tenantry are droll boys; and like their landlord, more by token,
they never pay any rent."
"And what for shouldn't they vote?" said a dry-looking little old fellow in
a red waistcoat; "when I was the dead agent--"
"The dead agent!" interrupted Sir George, with a start.
"Just so," said the old fellow, pulling down his spectacles from his
forehead, and casting a half-angry look at Sir George, for what he had
suspected to be a doubt of his veracity.
"The general does not know, may be, what that is," said some one.
"You have just anticipated me," said Sir George; "I really am in most
"It is the dead agent," says Mr. Blake, "who always provides substitutes
for any voters that may have died since the last election. A very important
fact in statistics may thus be gathered from the poll-books of this county,
which proves it to be the healthiest part of Europe,--a freeholder has not
died in it for the last fifty years."
"The 'Kiltopher boys' won't come this time; they say there's no use trying
to vote when so many were transported last assizes for perjury."
"They're poor-spirited creatures," said another.
"Not they,--they are as decent boys as any we have; they're willing to
wreck the town for fifty shillings' worth of spirits. Besides, if they
don't vote for the county, they will for the borough."
This declaration seemed to restore these interesting individuals to favor;
and now all attention was turned towards Bodkin, who was detailing the plan
of a grand attack upon the polling-booths, to be headed by himself. By this
time, all the prudence and guardedness of the party had given way; whiskey
was in the ascendant, and every bold stroke of election policy, every
cunning artifice, every ingenious device, was detailed and applauded in
a manner which proved that self-respect was not the inevitable gift of
The mirth and fun grew momentarily more boisterous, and Miles Bodkin, who
had twice before been prevented proposing some toast by a telegraphic
signal from the other end of the table, now swore that nothing should
prevent him any longer, and rising with a smoking tumbler in his hand,
delivered himself as follows:--
"No, no, Phil Blake, ye needn't be winkin' at me that way; it's little I
care for the spawn of the ould serpent. [Here great cheers greeted the
speaker, in which, without well knowing why, I heartily joined.] I'm going
to give a toast, boys,--a real good toast, none of your sentimental things
about wall-flowers or the vernal equinox, or that kind of thing, but a
sensible, patriotic, manly, intrepid toast,--toast you must drink in the
most universal, laborious, and awful manner: do ye see now? [Loud cheers.]
If any man of you here present doesn't drain this toast to the bottom [here
the speaker looked fixedly at me, as did the rest of the company]--then, by
the great-gun of Athlone, I'll make him eat the decanter, glass-stopper and
all, for the good of his digestion: d'ye see now?"
The cheering at this mild determination prevented my hearing what followed;
but the peroration consisted in a very glowing eulogy upon some person
unknown, and a speedy return to him as member for Galway. Amidst all the
noise and tumult at this critical moment, nearly every eye at the table was
turned upon me; and as I concluded that they had been drinking my uncle's
health, I thundered away at the mahogany with all my energy. At length the
hip-hipping over, and comparative quiet restored, I rose from my seat to
return thanks; but, strange enough, Sir George Dashwood did so likewise.
And there we both stood, amidst an uproar that might well have shaken the
courage of more practised orators; while from every side came cries of
"Hear, hear!"--"Go on, Sir George!"--"Speak out, General!"--"Sit down,
Charley!"--"Confound the boy!"--"Knock the legs from under him!" etc. Not
understanding why Sir George should interfere with what I regarded as my
peculiar duty, I resolved not to give way, and avowed this determination in
no very equivocal terms. "In that case," said the general, "I am to suppose
that the young gentleman moves an amendment to your proposition; and as the
etiquette is in his favor, I yield." Here he resumed his place amidst a
most terrific scene of noise and tumult, while several humane proposals as
to my treatment were made around me, and a kind suggestion thrown out to
break my neck by a near neighbor. Mr. Blake at length prevailed upon the
party to hear what I had to say,--for he was certain I should not detain
them above a minute. The commotion having in some measure subsided, I
began: "Gentlemen, as the adopted son of the worthy man whose health you
have just drunk--" Heaven knows how I should have continued; but here my
eloquence was met by such a roar of laughing as I never before listened to.
From one end of the board to the other it was one continued shout, and went
on, too, as if all the spare lungs of the party had been kept in reserve
for the occasion. I turned from one to the other; I tried to smile, and
seemed to participate in the joke, but failed; I frowned; I looked savagely
about where I could see enough to turn my wrath thitherward,--and, as it
chanced, not in vain; for Mr. Miles Bodkin, with an intuitive perception of
my wishes, most suddenly ceased his mirth, and assuming a look of frowning
defiance that had done him good service upon many former occasions, rose
"Well, sir, I hope you're proud of yourself. You've made a nice beginning
of it, and a pretty story you'll have for your uncle. But if you'd like to
break the news by a letter the general will have great pleasure in franking
it for you; for, by the rock of Cashel, we'll carry him in against all the
O'Malley's that ever cheated the sheriff."
Scarcely were the words uttered, when I seized my wineglass, and hurled it
with all my force at his head; so sudden was the act, and so true the aim,
that Mr. Bodkin measured his length upon the floor ere his friends could
appreciate his late eloquent effusion. The scene now became terrific;
for though the redoubted Miles was _hors-de-combat_, his friends made a
tremendous rush at, and would infallibly have succeeded in capturing me,
had not Blake and four or five others interposed. Amidst a desperate
struggle, which lasted for some minutes, I was torn from the spot, carried
bodily up-stairs, and pitched headlong into my own room; where, having
doubly locked the door on the outside, they left me to my own cool and not
THE FLIGHT FROM GURT-NA-MORRA.
It was by one of those sudden and inexplicable revulsions which
occasionally restore to sense and intellect the maniac of years standing,
that I was no sooner left alone in my chamber than I became perfectly
sober. The fumes of the wine--and I had drunk deeply--were dissipated at
once; my head, which but a moment before was half wild with excitement, was
now cool, calm, and collected; and stranger than all, I, who had only an
hour since entered the dining-room with all the unsuspecting freshness of
boyhood, became, by a mighty bound, a man,--a man in all my feelings of
responsibility, a man who, repelling an insult by an outrage, had resolved
to stake his life upon the chance. In an instant a new era in life had
opened before me; the light-headed gayety which fearlessness and youth
impart was replaced by one absorbing thought,--one all-engrossing,
all-pervading impression, that if I did not follow up my quarrel with
Bodkin, I was dishonored and disgraced, my little knowledge of such matters
not being sufficient to assure me that I was now the aggressor, and that
any further steps in the affair should come from his side.
So thoroughly did my own griefs occupy me, that I had no thought for the
disappointment my poor uncle was destined to meet with in hearing that the
Blake interest was lost to him, and the former breach between the families
irreparably widened by the events of the evening. Escape was my first
thought; but how to accomplish it? The door, a solid one of Irish oak,
doubly locked and bolted, defied all my efforts to break it open; the
window was at least five-and-twenty feet from the ground, and not a tree
near to swing into. I shouted, I called aloud, I opened the sash, and tried
if any one outside were within hearing; but in vain. Weary and exhausted,
I sat down upon my bed and ruminated over my fortunes. Vengeance--quick,
entire, decisive vengeance--I thirsted and panted for; and every moment
I lived under the insult inflicted on me seemed an age of torturing and
maddening agony. I rose with a leap; a thought had just occurred to me.
I drew the bed towards the window, and fastening the sheet to one of the
posts with a firm knot, I twisted it into a rope, and let myself down to
within about twelve feet of the ground, when I let go my hold, and dropped
upon the grass beneath safe and uninjured. A thin, misty rain was falling,
and I now perceived, for the first time, that in my haste I had forgotten
my hat; this thought, however, gave me little uneasiness, and I took my way
towards the stable, resolving, if I could, to saddle my horse and get off
before any intimation of my escape reached the family.
When I gained the yard, all was quiet and deserted; the servants were
doubtless enjoying themselves below stairs, and I met no one on the way. I
entered the stable, threw the saddle upon "Badger," and before five minutes
from my descent from the window, was galloping towards O'Malley Castle at a
pace that defied pursuit, had any one thought of it.
It was about five o'clock on a dark, wintry morning as I led my horse
through the well-known defiles of out-houses and stables which formed the
long line of offices to my uncle's house. As yet no one was stirring; and
as I wished to have my arrival a secret from the family, after
providing for the wants of my gallant gray, I lifted the latch of the
kitchen-door--no other fastening being ever thought necessary, even at
night--and gently groped my way towards the stairs; all was perfectly
still, and the silence now recalled me to reflection as to what course I
should pursue. It was all-important that my uncle should know nothing of my
quarrel, otherwise he would inevitably make it his own, and by treating
me like a boy in the matter, give the whole affair the very turn I most
dreaded. Then, as to Sir Harry Boyle, he would most certainly turn the
whole thing into ridicule, make a good story, perhaps a song out of it, and
laugh at my notions of demanding satisfaction. Considine, I knew, was my
man; but then he was at Athlone,--at least so my uncle's letter mentioned.
Perhaps he might have returned; if not, to Athlone I should set off at
once. So resolving, I stole noiselessly up-stairs, and reached the door of
the count's chamber; I opened it gently and entered; and though my step
was almost imperceptible to myself, it was quite sufficient to alarm the
watchful occupant of the room, who, springing up in his bed, demanded
gruffly, "Who's there?"
"Charles, sir," said I, shutting the door carefully, and approaching his
bedside. "Charles O'Malley, sir. I'm come to have a bit of your advice; and
as the affair won't keep, I have been obliged to disturb you."
"Never mind, Charley," said the count; "sit down, there's a chair somewhere
near the bed,--have you found it? There! Well now, what is it? What news of
"Very bad; no worse. But it is not exactly _that_ I came about; I've got
into a scrape, sir."
"Run off with one of the daughters," said Considine. "By jingo, I knew what
those artful devils would be after."
"Not so bad as that," said I, laughing. "It's just a row, a kind of
squabble; something that must come--"
"Ay, ay," said the count, brightening up; "say you so, Charley? Begad, the
young ones will beat us all out of the field. Who is it with,--not old
Blake himself; how was it? Tell me all."
I immediately detailed the whole events of the preceding chapter, as well
as his frequent interruptions would permit, and concluded by asking what
farther step was now to be taken, as I was resolved the matter should be
concluded before it came to my uncle's ears.
"There you are all right; quite correct, my boy. But there are many points
I should have wished otherwise in the conduct of the affair hitherto."
Conceiving that he was displeased at my petulance and boldness, I was about
to commence a kind of defence, when he added,--
"Because, you see," said he, assuming an oracular tone of voice, "throwing
a wine-glass, with or without wine, in a man's face is merely, as you may
observe, a mark of denial and displeasure at some observation he may have
made,--not in any wise intended to injure him, further than in the wound to
his honor at being so insulted, for which, of course, he must subsequently
call you out. Whereas, Charley, in the present case, the view I take
is different; the expression of Mr. Bodkin, as regards your uncle, was
insulting to a degree,--gratuitously offensive,--and warranting a blow.
Therefore, my boy, you should, under such circumstances, have preferred
aiming at him with a decanter: a cut-glass decanter, well aimed and low, I
have seen do effective service. However, as you remark it was your first
thing of the kind, I am pleased with you--very much pleased with you. Now,
then, for the next step." So saying, he arose from his bed, and striking a
light with a tinder-box, proceeded to dress himself as leisurely as if for
a dinner party, talking all the while.
"I will just take Godfrey's tax-cart and the roan mare on to Meelish, put
them up at the little inn,--it is not above a mile from Bodkin's; and I'll
go over and settle the thing for you. You must stay quiet till I come
back, and not leave the house on any account. I've got a case of old broad
barrels there that will answer you beautifully; if you were anything of
a shot, I'd give you my own cross handles, but they'd only spoil your
"I can hit a wine-glass in the stem at fifteen paces," said I, rather
nettled at the disparaging tone in which he spoke of my performance.
"I don't care sixpence for that; the wine-glass had no pistol in his hand.
Take the old German, then; see now, hold your pistol thus,--no finger on
the guard there, these two on the trigger. They are not hair-triggers; drop
the muzzle a bit; bend your elbow a trifle more; sight your man outside
your arm,--outside, mind,--and take him in the hip, and if anywhere higher,
By this time the count had completed his toilet, and taking the small
mahogany box which contained his peace-makers under his arm, led the way
towards the stables. When we reached the yard, the only person stirring
there was a kind of half-witted boy, who, being about the house, was
employed to run of messages from the servants, walk a stranger's horse, or
to do any of the many petty services that regular domestics contrive always
to devolve upon some adopted subordinate. He was seated upon a stone step
formerly used for mounting, and though the day was scarcely breaking, and
the weather severe and piercing, the poor fellow was singing an Irish song,
in a low monotonous tone, as he chafed a curb chain between his hands with
some sand. As we came near he started up, and as he pulled off his cap to
salute us, gave a sharp and piercing glance at the count, then at me,
then once more upon my companion, from whom his eyes were turned to the
brass-bound box beneath his arm,--when, as if seized with a sudden impulse,
he started on his feet, and set off towards the house with the speed of a
greyhound, not, however, before Considine's practised eye had anticipated
his plan; for throwing down the pistol-case, he dashed after him, and in an
instant had seized him by the collar.
"It won't do, Patsey," said the count; "you can't double on me."
"Oh, Count, darlin', Mister Considine avick, don't do it, don't now," said
the poor fellow, falling on his knees, and blubbering like an infant.
"Hold your tongue, you villain, or I'll cut it out of your head," said
"And so I will; but don't do it, don't for the love of--"
"Don't do what, you whimpering scoundrel? What does he think I'll do?"
"Don't I know very well what you're after, what you're always after too?
Oh, wirra, wirra!" Here he wrung his hands, and swayed himself backwards
and forwards, a true picture of Irish grief.
"I'll stop his blubbering," said Considine, opening the box and taking out
a pistol, which he cocked leisurely, and pointed at the poor fellow's head;
"another syllable now, and I'll scatter your brains upon that pavement."
"And do, and divil thank you; sure, it's your trade."
The coolness of the reply threw us both off our guard so completely that we
burst out into a hearty fit of laughing.
"Come, come," said the count, at last, "this will never do; if he goes on
this way, we'll have the whole house about us. Come, then, harness the roan
mare; and here's half a crown for you."
"I wouldn't touch the best piece in your purse," said the poor boy; "sure
it's blood-money, no less."
The words were scarcely spoken, when Considine seized him by the collar
with one hand, and by the wrist with the other, and carried him over the
yard to the stable, where, kicking open the door, he threw him on a heap of
stones, adding, "If you stir now, I'll break every bone in your body;" a
threat that seemed certainly considerably increased in its terrors, from
the rough gripe he had already experienced, for the lad rolled himself up
like a ball, and sobbed as if his heart were breaking.
Very few minutes sufficed us now to harness the mare in the tax-cart, and
when all was ready, Considine seized the whip, and locking the stable-door
upon Patsey, was about to get up, when a sudden thought struck him.
"Charley," said he, "that fellow will find some means to give the alarm; we
must take him with us." So saying, he opened the door, and taking the poor
fellow by the collar, flung him at my feet in the tax-cart.
We had already lost some time, and the roan mare was put to her fastest
speed to make up for it. Our pace became, accordingly, a sharp one; and as
the road was bad, and the tax-cart no "patent inaudible," neither of us
spoke. To me this was a great relief. The events of the last few days had
given them the semblance of years, and all the reflection I could muster
was little enough to make anything out of the chaotic mass,--love,
mischief, and misfortune,--in which I had been involved since my leaving
"Here we are, Charley," said Considine, drawing up short at the door of a
little country ale-house, or, in Irish parlance, _shebeen_, which stood at
the meeting of four bleak roads, in a wild and barren mountain tract beside
the Shannon. "Here we are, my boy! Jump out and let us be stirring."
"Here, Patsey, my man," said the count, unravelling the prostrate and
doubly knotted figure at our feet; "lend a hand, Patsey." Much to my
astonishment, he obeyed the summons with alacrity, and proceeded to
unharness the mare with the greatest despatch. My attention was, however,
soon turned from him to my own more immediate concerns, and I followed my
companion into the house.
"Joe," said the count to the host, "is Mr. Bodkin up at the house this
"He's just passed this way, sir, with Mr. Malowney of Tillnamuck, in the
gig, on their way from Mr. Blake's. They stopped here to order horses to go
over to O'Malley Castle, and the gossoon is gone to look for a pair."
"All right," said Considine, and added, in a whisper, "we've done it well,
Charley, to be beforehand, or the governor would have found it all out and
taken the affair into his own hands. Now all you have to do is to stay
quietly here till I come back, which will not be above an hour at farthest.
Joe, send me the pony; keep an eye on Patsey, that he doesn't play us a
trick. The short way to Mr. Bodkin's is through Scariff. Ay, I know it
well; good-by, Charley. By the Lord, we'll pepper him!"
These were the last words of the worthy count as he closed the door behind
him, and left me to my own not very agreeable reflections. Independently of
my youth and perfect ignorance of the world, which left me unable to form
any correct judgment on my conduct, I knew that I had taken a great deal
of wine, and was highly excited when my unhappy collision with Mr. Bodkin
occurred. Whether, then, I had been betrayed into anything which could
fairly have provoked his insulting retort or not, I could not remember; and
now my most afflicting thought was, what opinion might be entertained of me
by those at Blake's table; and above all, what Miss Dashwood herself would
think, and what narrative of the occurrence would reach her. The great
effort of my last few days had been to stand well in her estimation, to
appear something better in feeling, something higher in principle, than the
rude and unpolished squirearchy about me; and now here was the end of
it! What would she, what could she, think, but that I was the same
punch-drinking, rowing, quarrelling bumpkin as those whom I had so lately
been carefully endeavoring to separate myself from? How I hated myself for
the excess to which passion had betrayed me, and how I detested my opponent
as the cause of all my present misery. "How very differently," thought
I, "her friend the captain would have conducted himself. His quiet and
gentlemanly manner would have done fully as much to wipe out any insult on
his honor as I could do, and after all, would neither have disturbed the
harmony of a dinner-table, nor made himself, as I shuddered to think I
had, a subject of rebuke, if not of ridicule." These harassing, torturing
reflections continued to press on me, and I paced the room with my hands
clasped and the perspiration upon my brow. "One thing is certain,--I can
never see her again," thought I; "this disgraceful business must, in some
shape or other, become known to her, and all I have been saying these
last three days rise up in judgment against this one act, and stamp me an
impostor! I that decried--nay, derided--our false notion of honor. Would
that Considine were come! What can keep him now?" I walked to the door; a
boy belonging to the house was walking the roan before the door. "What had,
then, become of Pat?" I inquired; but no one could tell. He had disappeared
shortly after our arrival, and had not been seen afterwards. My own
thoughts were, however, too engrossing to permit me to think more of this
circumstance, and I turned again to enter the house, when I saw Considine
advancing up the road at the full speed of his pony.
"Out with the mare, Charley! Be alive, my boy!--all's settled." So saying,
he sprang from the pony and proceeded to harness the roan with the greatest
haste, informing me in broken sentences, as he went on with all the
"We are to cross the bridge of Portumna. They won the ground, and it seems
Bodkin likes the spot; he shot Peyton there three years ago. Worse luck
now, Charley, you know; by all the rule of chance, he can't expect the same
thing twice,--never four by honors in two deals. Didn't say that, though. A
sweet meadow, I know it well; small hillocks, like molehills; all over it.
Caught him at breakfast; I don't think he expected the message to come from
us, but said it was a very polite attention,--and so it was, you know."
So he continued to ramble on as we once more took our seats in the tax-cart
and set out for the ground.
"What are you thinking of, Charley?" said the count, as I kept silent for
"I'm thinking, sir, if I were to kill him, what I must do after."
"Right, my boy; nothing like that, but I'll settle all for you. Upon my
conscience, if it wasn't for the chance of his getting into another quarrel
and spoiling the election, I'd go back for Godfrey; he'd like to see you
break ground so prettily. And you say you're no shot?"
"Never could do anything with the pistol to speak of, sir," said I,
remembering his rebuke of the morning.
"I don't mind that. You've a good eye; never take it off him after you're
on the ground,--follow him everywhere. Poor Callaghan, that's gone, shot
his man always that way. He had a way of looking without winking that was
very fatal at a short distance; a very good thing to learn, Charley, when
you have a little spare time."
Half-an-hour's sharp driving brought us to the river side, where a boat
had been provided by Considine to ferry us over. It was now about eight
o'clock, and a heavy, gloomy morning. Much rain had fallen overnight, and
the dark and lowering atmosphere seemed charged with more. The mountains
looked twice their real size, and all the shadows were increased to
an enormous extent. A very killing kind of light it was, as the count
As the boatmen pulled in towards the shore we perceived, a few hundred
yards off, a group of persons standing, whom we soon recognized as our
opponents. "Charley," said the count, grasping my arm tightly, as I stood
up to spring on the land,--"Charley, although you are only a boy, as I may
say, I have no fear for your courage; but still more than that is needful
here. This Bodkin is a noted duellist, and will try to shake your nerve.
Now, mind that you take everything that happens quite with an air of
indifference; don't let him think that he has any advantage over you, and
you'll see how the tables will be turned in your favor."
"Trust to me, Count" said I; "I'll not disgrace you."
He pressed my hand tightly, and I thought that I discerned something like
a slight twitch about the corners of his grim mouth, as if some sudden and
painful thought had shot across his mind; but in a moment he was calm, and
stern-looking as ever.
"Twenty minutes late, Mr. Considine," said a short, red-faced little
man, with a military frock and foraging cap, as he held out his watch in
"I can only say, Captain Malowney, that we lost no time since we parted. We
had some difficulty in finding a boat; but in any case, we are here _now_,
and that, I opine, is the important part of the matter."
"Quite right,--very just indeed. Will you present me to your young friend.
Very proud to make your acquaintance, sir; your uncle and I met more than
once in this kind of way. I was out with him in '92,--was it? no, I think
it was '93,--when he shot Harry Burgoyne, who, by-the-bye, was called the
crack shot of our mess; but, begad, your uncle knocked his pistol hand to
shivers, saying, in his dry way, 'He must try the left hand this morning.'
Count, a little this side, if you please."
While Considine and the captain walked a few paces apart from where I
stood, I had leisure to observe my antagonist, who stood among a group of
his friends, talking and laughing away in great spirits. As the tone they
spoke in was not of the lowest, I could catch much of their conversation at
the distance I was from them. They were discussing the last occasion that
Bodkin had visited this spot, and talking of the fatal event which happened
"Poor devil," said Bodkin, "it wasn't his fault; but you see some of the
--th had been showing white feathers before that, and he was obliged to go
out. In fact, the colonel himself said, 'Fight, or leave the corps.' Well,
out he came; it was a cold morning in February, with a frost the night
before going off in a thin rain. Well, it seems he had the consumption or
something of that sort, with a great cough and spitting of blood, and this
weather made him worse; and he was very weak when he came to the ground.
Now, the moment I got a glimpse of him, I said to myself, 'He's pluck
enough, but as nervous as a lady;' for his eye wandered all about, and his
mouth was constantly twitching. 'Take off your great-coat, Ned,' said one
of his people, when they were going to put him up; 'take it off, man.' He
seemed to hesitate for an instant, when Michael Blake remarked, 'Arrah, let
him alone; it's his mother makes him wear it, for the cold he has.' They
all began to laugh at this; but I kept my eye upon him, and I saw that his
cheek grew quite livid and a kind of gray color, and his eyes filled up. 'I
have you now,' said I to myself, and I shot him through the lung."
"And this poor fellow," thought I, "was the only son of a widowed mother."
I walked from the spot to avoid hearing further, and felt, as I did so,
something like a spirit of vengeance rising within me, for the fate of one
so untimely cut off.
"Here we are, all ready," said Malowney, springing over a small fence into
the adjoining field. "Take your ground, gentlemen."
Considine took my arm and walked forward. "Charley," said he, "I am to give
the signal; I'll drop my glove when you are to fire, but don't look at me
at all. I'll manage to catch Bodkin's eye; and do you watch him steadily,
and fire when he does."
"I think that the ground we are leaving behind us is rather better," said
"So it is," said Bodkin; "but it might be troublesome to carry the young
gentleman down that way,--here all is fair and easy."
The next instant we were placed; and I well remember the first thought that
struck me was, that there could be no chance of either of us escaping.
"Now then," said the count, "I'll walk twelve paces, turn and drop this
glove; at which signal you fire, and _together_ mind. The man who reserves
his shot falls by my hand." This very summary denunciation seemed to meet
general approbation, and the count strutted forth. Notwithstanding the
advice of my friend, I could not help turning my eyes from Bodkin to watch
the retiring figure of the count. At length he stopped; a second or two
elapsed; he wheeled rapidly round, and let fall the glove. My eye glanced
towards my opponent; I raised my pistol and fired. My hat turned half round
upon my head, and Bodkin fell motionless to the earth. I saw the people
around me rush forward; I caught two or three glances thrown at me with an
expression of revengeful passion; I felt some one grasp me round the waist,
and hurry me from the spot; and it was at least ten minutes after, as we
were skimming the surface of the broad Shannon, before I could well collect
my scattered faculties to remember all that was passing, as Considine,
pointing to the two bullet-holes in my hat, remarked, "Sharp practice,
Charley; it was the overcharge saved you."
"Is he killed, sir?" I asked.
"Not quite, I believe, but as good. You took him just above the hip."
"Can he recover?" said I, with a voice tremulous from agitation, which I
vainly endeavored to conceal from my companion.
"Not if the doctor can help it," said Considine; "for the fool keeps poking
about for the ball. But now let's think of the next step,--you'll have to
leave this, and at once, too."
Little more passed between us. As we rowed towards the shore, Considine
was following up his reflections, and I had mine,--alas! too many and too
bitter to escape from.
As we neared the land a strange spectacle caught our eye. For a
considerable distance along the coast crowds of country people were
assembled, who, forming in groups and breaking into parties of two and
three, were evidently watching with great anxiety what was taking place at
the opposite side. Now, the distance was at least a mile, and therefore any
part of the transaction which had been enacting there must have been quite
beyond their view. While I was wondering at this, Considine cried out
suddenly, "Too infamous, by Jove! We're murdered men!"
"What do you mean?" said I.
"Don't you see that?" said he, pointing to something black which floated
from a pole at the opposite side of the river.
"Yes; what is it?"
"It's his coat they've put upon an oar to show the people he's
killed,--that's all. Every man here's his tenant; and look--there! They're
not giving us much doubt as to their intention."
Here a tremendous yell burst forth from the mass of people along the shore,
which rising to a terrific cry sunk gradually down to a low wailing, then
rose and fell again several times as the Irish death-cry filled the air and
rose to Heaven, as if imploring vengeance on a murderer.
The appalling influence of the _keen_, as it is called, had been familiar
to me from my infancy; but it needed the awful situation I was placed in to
consummate its horrors. It was at once my accusation and my doom. I knew
well--none better--the vengeful character of the Irish peasant of the west,
and that my death was certain I had no doubt. The very crime that sat upon
my heart quailed its courage and unnerved my arm. As the boatmen
looked from us towards the shore and again at our faces, they, as if
instinctively, lay upon their oars, and waited for our decision as to what
course to pursue.
"Rig the spritsail, my boys," said Considine, "and let her head lie up the
river; and be alive, for I see they're bailing a boat below the little reef
there, and will be after us in no time."
The poor fellows, who, although strangers to us, sympathizing in what they
perceived to be our imminent danger, stepped the light spar which acted
as mast, and shook out their scanty rag of canvas in a minute. Considine
meanwhile went aft, and steadying her head with an oar, held the small
craft up to the wind till she lay completely over, and as she rushed
through the water, ran dipping her gun-wale through the white foam.
"Where can we make without tacking, boys?" inquired the count.
"If it blows on as fresh, sir, we'll run you ashore within half a mile of
"Put an oar to leeward," said Considine, "and keep her up more to the wind,
and I promise you, my lads, you will not go home fresh and fasting if you
land us where you say."
"Here they come," said the other boatman, as he pointed back with his
finger towards a large yawl which shot suddenly from the shore, with six
sturdy fellows pulling at their oars, while three or four others were
endeavoring to get up their rigging, which appeared tangled and confused at
the bottom of the boat; the white splash of water which fell each moment
beside her showing that the process of bailing was still continued.
"Ah, then, may I never--av it isn't the ould 'Dolphin' they have launched
for the cruise," said one of our fellows.
"What's the 'Dolphin,' then?"
"An ould boat of the Lord's [Lord Clanricarde's] that didn't see water,
except when it rained, these four years, and is sun-cracked from stem to
"She can sail, however," said Considine, who watched with a painful anxiety
the rapidity of her course through the water.
"Nabocklish, she was a smuggler's jolly-boat, and well used to it. Look
how they're pulling. God pardon them, but they're in no blessed humor this
"Lay out upon your oars, boys; the wind's failing us," cried the count, as
the sail flapped lazily against the mast.
"It's no use, yer honor," said the elder. "We'll be only breaking our
hearts to no purpose. They're sure to catch us."
"Do as I bade you, at all events. What's that ahead of us there?"
"The Oat Rock, sir. A vessel with grain struck there and went down with
all aboard, four years last winter. There's no channel between it and the
shore,--all sunk rocks, every inch of it. There's the breeze."
The canvas fell over as he spoke, and the little craft lay down to it till
the foaming water bubbled over her lee bow.
"Keep her head up, sir; higher--higher still."
But Considine little heeded the direction, steering straight for the narrow
channel the man alluded to.
"Tear and ages, but you're going right for the cloch na quirka!"
"Arrah, an' the devil a taste I'll be drowned for your devarsion!" said the
other, springing up.
"Sit down there, and be still," roared Considine, as he drew a pistol from
the case at his feet, "if you don't want some leaden ballast to keep you
so! Here, Charley, take this, and if that fellow stirs hand or foot--you
The two men sat sulkily in the bottom of the boat, which now was actually
flying through the water. Considine's object was a clear one. He saw that
in sailing we were greatly overmatched, and that our only chance lay in
reaching the narrow and dangerous channel between Oat Rock and the shore,
by which we should distance the pursuit, the long reef of rocks that ran
out beyond requiring a wide berth to escape from. Nothing but the danger
behind us could warrant so rash a daring. The whole channel was dotted with
patches of white and breaking foam,--the sure evidence of the mischief
beneath,--while here and there a dash of spurting spray flew up from the
dark water, where some cleft rock lay hid below the flood. Escape seemed
impossible; but who would not have preferred even so slender a chance with
so frightful an alternative behind him? As if to add terror to the scene,
Considine had scarcely turned the boat ahead of the channel when a
tremendous blackness spread over all around, the thunder pealed forth, and
amidst the crashing of the hail and the bright glare of lightning a squall
struck us and laid us nearly keel uppermost for several minutes. I well
remember we rushed through the dark and blackened water, our little craft
more than half filled, the oars floating off to leeward, and we ourselves
kneeling on the bottom planks for safety. Roll after roll of loud thunder
broke, as it were, just above our heads; while in the swift dashing rain
that seemed to hiss around us every object was hidden, and even the other
boat was lost to our view. The two poor fellows--I shall never forget their
expression. One, a devout Catholic, had placed a little leaden image of a
saint before him in the bow, and implored its intercession with a torturing
agony of suspense that wrung my very heart. The other, apparently less
alive to such consolations as his Church afforded, remained with his hands
clasped, his mouth compressed, his brows knitted, and his dark eyes bent
upon me with the fierce hatred of a deadly enemy; his eyes were sunken and
bloodshot, and all told of some dreadful conflict within. The wild ferocity
of his look fascinated my gaze, and amidst all the terrors of the scene I
could not look from him. As I gazed, a second and more awful squall struck
the boat; the mast went over, and with a loud report like a pistol-shot
smashed at the thwart and fell over, trailing the sail along the milky sea
behind us. Meanwhile the water rushed clean over us, and the boat seemed
settling. At this dreadful moment the sailor's eye was bent upon me, his
lips parted, and he muttered, as if to himself, "This it is to go to sea
with a murderer." Oh, God! the agony of that moment! the heartfelt and
accusing conscience that I was judged and doomed! that the brand of Cain
was upon my brow! that my fellow-men had ceased forever to regard me as a
brother! that I was an outcast and a wanderer forever! I bent forward till
my forehead fell upon my knees, and I wept. Meanwhile the boat flew through
the water, and Considine, who alone among us seemed not to lose his
presence of mind, cut away the mast and sent it overboard. The storm began
now to abate; and as the black mass of cloud broke from around us we beheld
the other boat, also dismasted, far behind us, while all on board of
her were employed in bailing out the water with which she seemed almost
sinking. The curtain of mist that had hidden us from each other no sooner
broke than they ceased their labors for a moment, and looking towards us,
burst forth into a yell so wild, so savage, so dreadful, my very heart
quailed as its cadence fell upon my ear.
"Safe, my boy," said Considine, clapping me on the shoulder, as he steered
the boat forth from its narrow path of danger, and once more reached the
broad Shannon,--"safe, Charley; though we've had a brush for it." In a
minute more we reached the land, and drawing our gallant little craft on
shore, set out for O'Malley Castle.
O'Malley Castle lay about four miles from the spot we landed at, and
thither accordingly we bent our steps without loss of time. We had not,
however, proceeded far, when, before us on the road, we perceived a mixed
assemblage of horse and foot, hurrying along at a tremendous rate. The mob,
which consisted of some hundred country people, were armed with sticks,
scythes, and pitchforks, and although not preserving any very military
aspect in their order of march, were still a force quite formidable enough
to make us call a halt, and deliberate upon what we were to do.
"They've outflanked us, Charley," said Considine; "however, all is not yet
lost. But see, they've got sight of us; here they come."
At these words, the vast mass before us came pouring along, splashing the
mud on every side, and huzzaing like so many Indians. In the front ran a
bare-legged boy, waving his cap to encourage the rest, who followed him at
about fifty yards behind.
"Leave that fellow for me," said the count, coolly examining the lock of
his pistol; "I'll pick him out, and load again in time for his friends'
arrival. Charley, is that a gentleman I see far back in the crowd? Yes,
to be sure it is? He's on a large horse--now he's pressing forward; so
let--no--oh--ay, it's Godfrey O'Malley himself, and these are our own
people." Scarcely were the words out when a tremendous cheer arose from
the multitude, who, recognizing us at the same instant, sprang from their
horses and ran forward to welcome us. Among the foremost was the scarecrow
leader, whom I at once perceived as poor Patsey, who, escaping in the
morning, had returned at full speed to O'Malley Castle, and raised the
whole country to my rescue. Before I could address one word to my faithful
followers I was in my uncle's arms.
"Safe, my boy, quite safe?"
"Quite safe, sir."
"No scratch anywhere?"
"Nothing but a hat the worse, sir," said I, showing the two bullet-holes in
His lip quivered as he turned and whispered something into Considine's ear,
which I heard not; but the count's reply was, "Devil a bit, as cool as you
see him this minute."
"And Bodkin, what of him?"
"This day's work's his last," said Considine; "the ball entered here. But
come along, Godfrey; Charley's new at this kind of thing, and we had better
discuss matters in the house."
Half-an-hour's brisk trot--for we were soon supplied with horses--brought
us back to the Castle, much to the disappointment of our cortege, who had
been promised a _scrimmage_, and went back in very ill-humor at the breach
The breakfast-room, as we entered, was filled with my uncle's supporters,
all busily engaged over poll-books and booth tallies, in preparation for
the eventful day of battle. These, however, were immediately thrown aside
to hasten round me and inquire all the details of my duel. Considine,
happily for me, however, assumed all the dignity of an historian, and
recounted the events of the morning so much to my honor and glory, that I,
who only a little before felt crushed and bowed down by the misery of my
late duel, began, amidst the warm congratulations and eulogiums about me,
to think I was no small hero, and in fact, something very much resembling
"the man for Galway." To this feeling a circumstance that followed assisted
in contributing. While we were eagerly discussing the various results
likely to arise from the meeting, a horse galloped rapidly to the door and
a loud voice called out, "I can't get off, but tell him to come here." We
rushed out and beheld Captain Malowney, Mr. Bodkin's second, covered with
mud from head to foot, and his horse reeking with foam and sweat. "I am
hurrying on to Athlone for another doctor; but I've called to tell you
that the wound is not supposed to be mortal,--he may recover yet." Without
waiting for another word, he dashed spurs into his nag and rattled down the
avenue at full gallop. Mr. Bodkin's dearest friend on earth could not have
received the intelligence with more delight; and I now began to listen to
the congratulations of my friends with a more tranquil spirit. My uncle,
too, seemed much relieved by the information, and heard with great good
temper my narrative of the few days at Gurt-na-Morra. "So then," said he,
as I concluded, "my opponent is at least a gentleman; that is a comfort."
"Sir George Dashwood," said I, "from all I have seen, is a remarkably nice
person, and I am certain you will meet with only the fair and legitimate
opposition of an opposing candidate in him,--no mean or unmanly
"All right, Charley. Well, now, your affair of this morning must keep you
quiet for a few days, come what will; by Monday next, when the election
takes place, Bodkin's fate will be pretty clear, one way or the other, and
if matters go well, you can come into town; otherwise, I have arranged with
Considine to take you over to the Continent for a year or so; but we'll
discuss all this in the evening. Now I must start on a canvass. Boyle
expects to meet you at dinner to-day; he is coming from Athlone on purpose.
When my uncle had gone, I sank into a chair and fell into a musing fit over
all the changes a few hours had wrought in me. From a mere boy whose most
serious employment was stocking the house with game or inspecting the
kennel, I had sprung at once into man's estate, was complimented for my
coolness, praised for my prowess, lauded for my discretion, by those
who were my seniors by nearly half a century; talked to in a tone of
confidential intimacy by my uncle, and, in a word, treated in all respects
as an equal,--and such was all the work of a few hours. But so it is; the
eras in life are separated by a narrow boundary,--some trifling accident,
some casual _rencontre_ impels us across the Rubicon, and we pass from
infancy to youth, from youth to manhood, from manhood to age, less by
the slow and imperceptible step of time than by some one decisive act
or passion which, occurring at a critical moment, elicits a long latent
feeling, and impresses our existence with a color that tinges us for many
a long year. As for me, I had cut the tie which bound me to the careless
gayety of boyhood with a rude gash. In three short days I had fallen
deeply, desperately in love, and had wounded, if not killed, an antagonist
in a duel. As I meditated on these things, I was aroused by the noise of
horses' feet in the yard beneath. I opened the window and beheld no less a
person than Captain Hammersley. He was handing a card to a servant, which
he was accompanying by a verbal message; the impression of something like
hostility on the part of the captain had never left my mind, and I hastened
down-stairs just in time to catch him as he turned from the door.
"Ah, Mr. O'Malley!" said he, in a most courteous tone. "They told me you
were not at home."
I apologized for the blunder, and begged of him to alight and come in.
"I thank you very much, but, in fact, my hours are now numbered here. I
have just received an order to join my regiment; we have been ordered for
service, and Sir George has most kindly permitted my giving up my staff
appointment. I could not, however, leave the country without shaking hands
with you. I owe you a lesson in horsemanship, and I'm only sorry that we
are not to have another day together."
"Then you are going out to the Peninsula?" said I.
"Why, we hope so; the commander-in-chief, they say, is in great want of
cavalry, and we scarcely less in want of something to do. I'm sorry you are
not coming with us."
"Would to Heaven I were!" said I, with an earnestness that almost made my
"Then, why not?"
"Unfortunately, I am peculiarly situated. My worthy uncle, who is all to me
in this world, would be quite alone if I were to leave him; and although he
has never said so, I know he dreads the possibility of my suggesting such
a thing to him: so that, between his fears and mine, the matter is never
broached by either party, nor do I think ever can be."
"Devilish hard--but I believe you are right; something, however, may turn
up yet to alter his mind, and if so, and if you do take to dragooning,
don't forget George Hammersley will be always most delighted to meet you;
and so good-by, O'Malley, good-by."
He turned his horse's head and was already some paces off, when he returned
to my side, and in a lower tone of voice said,--
"I ought to mention to you that there has been much discussion on your
affair at Blake's table, and only one opinion on the matter among all
parties,--that you acted perfectly right. Sir George Dashwood,--no mean
judge of such things,--quite approves of your conduct, and, I believe,
wishes you to know as much; and now, once more, good-by."
The important morning at length arrived, and as I looked from my bed-room
window at daybreak, the crowd of carriages of all sorts and shapes
decorated with banners and placards; the incessant bustle; the hurrying
hither and thither; the cheering as each new detachment of voters came up,
mounted on jaunting-cars, or on horses whose whole caparison consisted in
a straw rope for a bridle, and a saddle of the same frail material,--all
informed me that the election day was come. I lost no further time, but
proceeded to dress with all possible despatch. When I appeared in the
breakfast-room, it was already filled with some seventy or eighty persons
of all ranks and ages, mingled confusedly together, and enjoying the
hospitable fare of my uncle's house, while they discussed all the details
and prospects of the election. In the hall, the library, the large
drawing-room, too, similar parties were also assembled, and as newcomers
arrived, the servants were busy in preparing tables before the door and up
the large terrace that ran the entire length of the building. Nothing could
be more amusing than the incongruous mixture of the guests, who, with every
variety of eatable that chance or inclination provided, were thus thrown
into close contact, having only this in common,--the success of the cause
they were engaged in. Here was the old Galway squire, with an ancestry that
reached to Noah, sitting side by side with the poor cotter, whose whole
earthly possession was what, in Irish phrase, is called a "potato
garden,"--meaning the exactly smallest possible patch of ground out of
which a very Indian-rubber conscience could presume to vote. Here sat the
old simple-minded, farmer-like man, in close conversation with a little
white-foreheaded, keen-eyed personage, in a black coat and eye-glass,--a
flash attorney from Dublin, learned in flaws of the registry, and deep in
the subtleties of election law. There was an Athlone horse-dealer, whose
habitual daily practices in imposing the halt, the lame, and the blind upon
the unsuspecting, for beasts of blood and mettle, well qualified him for
the trickery of a county contest. Then there were scores of squireen
gentry, easily recognized on common occasions by a green coat, brass
buttons, dirty cords, and dirtier top-boots, a lash-whip, and a half-bred
fox-hound; but now, fresh-washed for the day, they presented something the
appearance of a swell mob, adjusted to the meridian of Galway. A mass of
frieze-coated, brow-faced, bullet-headed peasantry filled up the large
spaces, dotted here and there with a sleek, roguish-eyed priest, or some
low electioneering agent detailing, for the amusement of the company, some
of those cunning practices of former times which if known to the proper
authorities would in all likelihood cause the talented narrator to be
improving the soil of Sidney, or fishing on the banks of the Swan river;
while at the head and foot of each table sat some personal friend of my
uncle, whose ready tongue, and still readier pistol, made him a personage
of some consequence, not more to his own people than to the enemy. While of
such material were the company, the fare before them was no less varied:
here some rubicund squire was deep in amalgamating the contents of a
venison pasty with some of Sneyd's oldest claret; his neighbor, less
ambitious, and less erudite in such matters, was devouring rashers of
bacon, with liberal potations of potteen; some pale-cheeked scion of the
law, with all the dust of the Four Courts in his throat, was sipping
his humble beverage of black tea beside four sturdy cattle-dealers from
Ballinasloe, who were discussing hot whiskey punch and _spoleaion_ (boiled
beef) at the very primitive hour of eight in the morning. Amidst the clank
of decanters, the crash of knives and plates, and the jingling of glasses,
the laughter and voices of the guests were audibly increasing; and the
various modes of "running a buck" (_Anglice_, substituting a vote), or
hunting a badger, were talked over on all sides, while the price of a
_veal_ (a calf), or a voter, was disputed with all the energy of debate.
Refusing many an offered place, I went through the different rooms in
search of Considine, to whom circumstances of late had somehow greatly
"Here, Charley," cried a voice I was very familiar with,--"here's a place
I've been keeping for you."
"Ah, Sir Harry, how do you do? Any of that grouse-pie to spare?"
"Abundance, my boy; but I'm afraid I can't say as much for the liquor.
I have been shouting for claret this half-hour in vain,--do get us some
nutriment down here, and the Lord will reward you. What a pity it is," he
added, in a lower tone, to his neighbor--"what a pity a quart-bottle won't
hold a quart; but I'll bring it before the House one of these days." That
he kept his word in this respect, a motion on the books of the Honorable
House will bear me witness.
"Is this it?" said he, turning towards a farmer-like old man, who had put
some question to him across the table; "is it the apple-pie you'll have?"
"Many thanks to your honor,--I'd like it, av it was wholesome."
"And why shouldn't it be wholesome?" said Sir Harry.
"Troth, then, myself does not know; but my father, I heerd tell, died of an
apple-plexy, and I'm afeerd of it."
I at length found Considine, and learned that, as a very good account of
Bodkin had arrived, there was no reason why I should not proceed to the
hustings; but I was secretly charged not to take any prominent part in the
day's proceedings. My uncle I only saw for an instant,--he begged me to
be careful, avoid all scrapes, and not to quit Considine. It was past ten
o'clock when our formidable procession got under way, and headed towards
the town of Galway. The road was, for miles, crowded with our followers;
banners flying and music playing, we presented something of the spectacle
of a very ragged army on its march. At every cross-road a mountain-path
reinforcement awaited us, and as we wended along, our numbers were
momentarily increasing; here and there along the line, some energetic
and not over-sober adherent was regaling his auditory with a speech in
laudation of the O'Malleys since the days of Moses, and more than one
priest was heard threatening the terrors of his Church in aid of a cause
to whose success he was pledged and bound. I rode beside the count, who,
surrounded by a group of choice spirits, recounted the various happy
inventions by which he had, on divers occasions, substituted a personal
quarrel for a contest. Boyle also contributed his share of election
anecdote, and one incident he related, which, I remember, amused me much at
[Illustration: THE ELECTION.]
"Do you remember Billy Calvert, that came down to contest Kilkenny?"
inquired Sir Harry.
"What, ever forget him!" said Considine, "with his well-powdered wig and
his hessians. There never was his equal for lace ruffles and rings."
"You never heard, may be, how he lost the election?"
"He resigned, I believe, or something of that sort."
"No, no," said another; "he never came forward at all. There's some secret
in it; for Tom Butler was elected without a contest."
"Jack, I'll tell you how it happened. I was on my way up from Cork, having
finished my own business, and just carried the day, not without a push for
it. When we reached,--Lady Mary was with me,--when we reached Kilkenny, the
night before the election, I was not ten minutes in town till Butler
heard of it, and sent off express to see me; I was at my dinner when the
messenger came, and promised to go over when I'd done. But faith, Tom
didn't wait, but came rushing up-stairs himself, and dashed into the room
in the greatest hurry.
"'Harry,' says he, 'I'm done for; the corporation of free smiths, that were
always above bribery, having voted for myself and my father before, for
four pounds ten a man, won't come forward under six guineas and whiskey.
Calvert has the money; they know it. The devil a farthing we have; and
we've been paying all our fellows that can't read in Hennesy's notes, and
you know the bank's broke this three weeks.'
"On he went, giving me a most disastrous picture of his cause, and
concluded by asking if I could suggest anything under the circumstances.
"'You couldn't get a decent mob and clear the poll?'
"'I am afraid not,' said he, despondingly.
"'Then I don't see what's to be done, if you can't pick a fight with
himself. Will he go out?'
"'Lord knows! They say he's so afraid of that, that it has prevented him
coming down till the very day. But he is arrived now; he came in the
evening, and is stopping at Walsh's in Patrick Street.'
"'Then I'll see what can be done,' said I.
"'Is that Calvert, the little man that blushes when the Lady-Lieutenant
speaks to him?' said Lady Mary.
"'The very man.'
"'Would it be of any use to you if he could not come on the hustings
to-morrow?' said she, again.
"''Twould gain us the day. Half the voters don't believe he's here at all,
and his chief agent cheated all the people on the last election; and if
Calvert didn't appear, he wouldn't have ten votes to register. But why do
"'Why, that, if you like, I'll bet you a pair of diamond ear-rings he
"'Done!' said Butler. 'And I promise a necklace into the bargain, if you
win; but I'm afraid you're only quizzing me.'
"'Here's my hand on it,' said she. 'And now let's talk of something else.'"
As Lady Mary never asked my assistance, and as I knew she was very well
able to perform whatever she undertook, you may be sure I gave myself very
little trouble about the whole affair; and when they came, I went off to
breakfast with Tom's committee, not knowing anything that was to be done.
Calvert had given orders that he was to be called at eight o'clock, and so
a few minutes before that time a gentle knock came to the door.
'Come in,' said he, thinking it was the waiter, and covering himself up in
the clothes; for he was the most bashful creature ever was seen,--'come
The door opened, and what was his horror to find that a lady entered in her
dressing-gown, her hair on her shoulders, very much tossed and dishevelled.
The moment she came in, she closed the door and locked it, and then sat
leisurely down upon a chair.
Billy's teeth chattered, and his limbs trembled; for this was an adventure
of a very novel kind for him. At last he took courage to speak.
'I am afraid, madam,' said he, 'that you are under some unhappy mistake,
and that you suppose this chamber is--'
'Mr. Calvert's,' said the lady, with a solemn voice, 'is it not?'
'Yes, madam, I am that person.'
'Thank God!' said the lady, with a very impressive tone. 'Here I am safe.'
Billy grew very much puzzled at these words; but hoping that by his silence
the lady would proceed to some explanation, he said no more. She, however,
seemed to think that nothing further was necessary, and sat still and
motionless, with her hands before her and her eyes fixed on Billy.
"'You seem to forget me, sir?' said she, with a faint smile.
"'I do, indeed, madam; the half-light, the novelty of your costume, and the
strangeness of the circumstance altogether must plead for me, if I appear
"'I am Lady Mary Boyle,' said she.
"'I do remember you, madam; but may I ask--'
"'Yes, yes; I know what you would ask. You would say, Why are you here? How
comes it that you have so far outstepped the propriety of which your whole
life is an example, that alone, at such a time, you appear in the chamber
of a man whose character for gallantry--'
"'Oh, indeed--indeed, my lady, nothing of the kind!'
"'Ah, alas! poor defenceless women learn, too late, how constantly
associated is the retiring modesty which decries, with the pleasing powers
which ensure success--'
"Here she sobbed, Billy blushed, and the clock struck nine.
"'May I then beg, madam--'
"'Yes, yes, you shall hear it all; but my poor scattered faculties will
not be the clearer by your hurrying me. You know, perhaps,' continued
she, 'that my maiden name was Rogers?' He of the blankets bowed, and she
resumed, 'It is now eighteen years since, that a young, unsuspecting, fond
creature, reared in all the care and fondness of doting parents, tempted
her first step in life, and trusted her fate to another's keeping. I am
that unhappy person; the other, that monster in human guise that smiled but
to betray, that won but to ruin and destroy, is he whom you know as Sir
"Here she sobbed for some minutes, wiped her eyes, and resumed her
narrative. Beginning at the period of her marriage, she detailed a number
of circumstances in which poor Calvert, in all his anxiety to come _au
fond_ at matters, could never perceive bore upon the question in any way;
but as she recounted them all with great force and precision, entreating
him to bear in mind certain circumstances to which she should recur by and
by, his attention was kept on the stretch, and it was only when the clock
struck ten that he was fully aware how his morning was passing, and what
surmises his absence might originate.
"'May I interrupt you for a moment, dear madam? Was it nine or ten o'clock
which struck last?'
"'How should I know?' said she, frantically. 'What are hours and minutes to
her who has passed long years of misery?'
"'Very true, very true,' replied he, timidly, and rather fearing for the
intellect of his fair companion.
She continued. The narrative, however, so far from becoming clearer, grew
gradually more confused and intricate; and as frequent references were made
by the lady to some previous statement, Calvert was more than once rebuked
for forgetfulness and inattention, where in reality nothing less than
short-hand could have borne him through.
"'Was it in '93 I said that Sir Harry left me at Tuam?'
"'Upon my life, madam, I am afraid to aver; but it strikes me--'
"'Gracious powers! and this is he whom I fondly trusted to make the
depository of my woes! Cruel, cruel man!'
"Here she sobbed considerably for several minutes, and spoke not. A loud
cheer of 'Butler forever!' from the mob without now burst upon their
hearing, and recalled poor Calvert at once to the thought that the hours
were speeding fast and no prospect of the everlasting tale coming to an
"'I am deeply, most deeply grieved, my dear madam,' said the little man,
sitting up in a pyramid of blankets; 'but hours, minutes, are most precious
to me this morning. I am about to be proposed as member for Kilkenny.'
"At these words the lady straightened her figure out, threw her arms at
either side, and burst into a fit of laughter which poor Calvert knew
at once to be hysterics. Here was a pretty situation! The bell-rope lay
against the opposite wall; and even if it did not, would he be exactly
warranted in pulling it?
"'May the devil and all his angels take Sir Harry Boyle and his whole
connection to the fifth generation!' was his sincere prayer as he sat like
a Chinese juggler under his canopy.
"At length the violence of the paroxysm seemed to subside; the sobs became
less frequent, the kicking less forcible, and the lady's eyes closed, and
she appeared to have fallen asleep.
"'Now is the moment,' said Billy. 'If I could only get as far as my
dressing-gown.' So saying, he worked himself down noiselessly to the foot
of his bed, looked fixedly at the fallen lids of the sleeping lady, and
essayed one leg from the blanket. 'Now or never,' said he, pushing aside
the curtain and preparing for a spring. One more look he cast at his
companion, and then leaped forth; but just as he lit upon the floor she
again roused herself, screaming with horror. Billy fell upon the bed, and
rolling himself in the bedclothes, vowed never to rise again till she was
out of the visible horizon.
"'What is all this? What do you mean, sir?' said the lady, reddening with
"'Nothing, upon my soul, madam; it was only my dressing-gown.'
"'Your dressing-gown!' said she, with an emphasis worthy of Siddons; 'a
likely story for Sir Harry to believe, sir! Fie, fie, sir!'
"This last allusion seemed a settler; for the luckless Calvert heaved a
profound sigh, and sunk down as if all hope had left him. 'Butler forever!'
roared the mob. 'Calvert forever!' cried a boy's voice from without. 'Three
groans for the runaway!' answered this announcement; and a very tender
inquiry of, 'Where is he?' was raised by some hundred mouths.
"'Madam,' said the almost frantic listener,--'madam, I must get up! I must
dress! I beg of you to permit me!'
"'I have nothing to refuse, sir. Alas, disdain has long been my only
portion! Get up, if you will.'
"'But,' said the astonished man, who was well-nigh deranged at the coolness
of this reply,--'but how am I to do so if you sit there?'
"'Sorry for any inconvenience I may cause you; but in the crowded state of
the hotel I hope you see the impropriety of my walking about the passages
in this costume?'
"'And, great God! madam, why did you come out in it?'
"A cheer from the mob prevented her reply being audible. One o'clock tolled
out from the great bell of the cathedral.
"'There's one o'clock, as I live!'
"'I heard it,' said the lady.
"'The shouts are increasing. What is that I hear? "Butler is in!" Gracious
mercy! is the election over?'
"The lady stepped to the window, drew aside the curtain, and said, 'Indeed,
it would appear so. The mob are cheering Mr. Butler.' A deafening shout
burst from the street. 'Perhaps you'd like to see the fun, so I'll not
detain you any longer. So, good-by, Mr. Calvert; and as your breakfast will
be cold, in all likelihood, come down to No. 4, for Sir Harry's a late man,
and will be glad to see you.'"
As thus we lightened the road with chatting, the increasing concourse of
people, and the greater throng of carriages that filled the road, announced
that we had nearly reached our destination.
"Considine," said my uncle, riding up to where we were, "I have just got a
few lines from Davern. It seems Bodkin's people are afraid to come in; they
know what they must expect, and if so, more than half of that barony is
lost to our opponent."
"Then he has no chance whatever."
"He never had, in my opinion," said Sir Harry.
"We'll see soon," said my uncle, cheerfully, and rode to the post.
The remainder of the way was occupied in discussing the various
possibilities of the election, into which I was rejoiced to find that
defeat never entered.
In the goodly days I speak of, a county contest was a very different thing
indeed from the tame and insipid farce that now passes under that name:
where a briefless barrister, bullied by both sides, sits as assessor; a few
drunken voters, a radical O'Connellite grocer, a demagogue priest, a deputy
grand-purple-something from the Trinity College lodge, with some half-dozen
followers, shouting, "To the Devil with Peel!" or "Down with Dens!" form
the whole _corp-de-ballet_. No, no; in the times I refer to the voters were
some thousands in number, and the adverse parties took the field, far less
dependent for success upon previous pledge or promise made them than upon
the actual stratagem of the day. Each went forth, like a general to battle,
surrounded by a numerous and well-chosen staff,--one party of friends,
acting as commissariat, attended to the victualling of the voters, that
they obtained a due, or rather undue allowance of liquor, and came properly
drunk to the poll; others, again, broke into skirmishing parties, and
scattered over the country, cut off the enemy's supplies, breaking
down their post-chaises, upsetting their jaunting-cars, stealing their
poll-books, and kidnapping their agents. Then there were secret-service
people, bribing the enemy and enticing them to desert; and lastly, there
was a species of sapper-and-miner force, who invented false documents,
denied the identity of the opposite party's people, and when hard pushed,
provided persons who took bribes from the enemy, and gave evidence
afterwards on a petition. Amidst all these encounters of wit and ingenuity,
the personal friends of the candidate formed a species of rifle brigade,
picking out the enemy's officers, and doing sore damage to their tactics
by shooting a proposer or wounding a seconder,--a considerable portion of
every leading agent's fee being intended as compensation for the duels he
might, could, would, should, or ought to fight during the election. Such,
in brief, was a contest in the olden time. And when it is taken into
consideration that it usually lasted a fortnight or three weeks; that a
considerable military force was always engaged (for our Irish law permits
this), and which, when nothing pressing was doing, was regularly assailed
by both parties; that far more dependence was placed in a bludgeon than a
pistol; and that the man who registered a vote without a cracked pate was
regarded as a kind of natural phenomenon,--some faint idea may be formed
how much such a scene must have contributed to the peace of the county, and
the happiness and welfare of all concerned in it.
As we rode along, a loud cheer from a road that ran parallel to the one we
were pursuing attracted our attention, and we perceived that the cortege of
the opposite party was hastening on to the hustings. I could distinguish
the Blake girls on horseback among a crowd of officers in undress, and
saw something like a bonnet in the carriage-and-four which headed the
procession, and which I judged to be that of Sir George Dashwood. My heart
beat strongly as I strained my eyes to see if Miss Dashwood was there; but
I could not discern her, and it was with a sense of relief that I reflected
on the possibility of our not meeting under circumstances wherein our
feelings and interests were so completely opposed. While I was engaged in
making this survey, I had accidentally dropped behind my companions; my
eyes were firmly fixed upon that carriage, and in the faint hope that it
contained the object of all my wishes, I forgot everything else. At length
the cortege entered the town, and passing beneath a heavy stone gateway,
was lost to my view. I was still lost in revery, when an under-agent of my
uncle's rode up.
"Oh, Master Charles!" said he, "what's to be done? They've forgotten Mr.
Holmes at Woodford, and we haven't a carriage, chaise, or even a car left
to send for him."
"Have you told Mr. Considine?" inquired I.
"And sure you know yourself how little Mr. Considine thinks of a lawyer.
It's small comfort he'd give me if I went to tell him. If it was a case of
pistols or a bullet mould he'd ride back the whole way himself for them."
"Try Sir Harry Boyle, then."
"He's making a speech this minute before the court-house."
This had sufficed to show me how far behind my companions I had been
loitering, when a cheer from the distant road again turned my eyes in that
direction; it was the Dashwood carriage returning after leaving Sir George
at the hustings. The head of the britska, before thrown open, was now
closed, and I could not make out if any one were inside.
"Devil a doubt of it," said the agent, in answer to some question of a
farmer who rode beside him; "will you stand to me?"
"Troth, to be sure I will."
"Here goes, then," said he, gathering up his reins and turning his horse
towards the fence at the roadside; "follow me now, boys."
The order was well obeyed; for when he had cleared the ditch, a dozen
stout country fellows, well mounted, were beside him. Away they went, at a
hunting pace, taking every leap before them, and heading towards the road
Without thinking further of the matter, I was laughing at the droll effect
the line of frieze coats presented as they rode side by side over the
stone-walls, when an observation near me aroused my attention.
"Ah, then, av they know anything of Tim Finucane, they'll give it up
peaceably; it's little he'd think of taking the coach from under the judge
"What are they about, boys?" said I.
"Goin' to take the chaise-and-four forninst ye, yer honor," said the man.
I waited not to hear more, but darting spurs into my horse's sides, cleared
the fence in one bound. My horse, a strong-knit half-breed, was as fast as
a racer for a short distance; so that when the agent and his party had come
up with the carriage, I was only a few hundred yards behind. I shouted out
with all my might, but they either heard not or heeded not, for scarcely
was the first man over the fence into the road when the postilion on the
leader was felled to the ground, and his place supplied by his slayer; the
boy on the wheeler shared the same fate, and in an instant, so well managed
was the attack, the carriage was in possession of the assailants. Four
stout fellows had climbed into the box and the rumble, and six others were
climbing to the interior, regardless of the aid of steps. By this time the
Dashwood party had got the alarm, and returned in full force, not, however,
before the other had laid whip to the horses and set out in full gallop;
and now commenced the most terrific race I ever witnessed.
The four carriage-horses, which were the property of Sir George, were
English thorough-breds of great value, and, totally unaccustomed to the
treatment they experienced, dashed forward at a pace that threatened
annihilation to the carriage at every bound. The pursuers, though well
mounted, were speedily distanced, but followed at a pace that in the end
was certain to overtake the carriage. As for myself, I rode on beside
the road at the full speed of my horse, shouting, cursing, imploring,
execrating, and beseeching at turns, but all in vain; the yells and shouts
of the pursuers and pursued drowned all other sounds, except when the
thundering crash of the horses' feet rose above all. The road, like most
western Irish roads until the present century, lay straight as an arrow
for miles, regardless of every opposing barrier, and in the instance in
question, crossed a mountain at its very highest point. Towards this
pinnacle the pace had been tremendous; but owing to the higher breeding of
the cattle, the carriage party had still the advance, and when they reached
the top they proclaimed the victory by a cheer of triumph and derision. The
carriage disappeared beneath the crest of the mountain, and the pursuers
halted as if disposed to relinquish the chase.
"Come on, boys; never give up," cried I, springing over into the road, and
heading the party to which by every right I was opposed.
It was no time for deliberation, and they followed me with a hearty cheer
that convinced me I was unknown. The next instant we were on the mountain
top, and beheld the carriage half way down beneath us, still galloping at
"We have them now," said a voice behind me; "they'll never turn Lurra
Bridge, if we only press on."
The speaker was right; the road at the mountain foot turned at a perfect
right angle, and then crossed a lofty one-arched bridge over a mountain
torrent that ran deep and boisterously beneath. On we went, gaining at
every stride; for the fellows who rode postilion well knew what was before
them, and slackened their pace to secure a safe turning. A yell of victory
arose from the pursuers, but was answered by the others with a cheer of
defiance. The space was now scarcely two hundred yards between us, when the
head of the britska was flung down, and a figure that I at once recognized
as the redoubted Tim Finucane, one of the boldest and most reckless fellows
in the county, was seen standing on the seat, holding,--gracious Heavens!
it was true,--holding in his arms the apparently lifeless figure of Miss
"Hold in!" shouted the ruffian, with a voice that rose high above all the
other sounds. "Hold in! or by the Eternal, I'll throw her, body and bones,
into the Lurra Gash!" for such was the torrent called that boiled and
foamed a few yards before us.
[Illustration: THE RESCUE.]
He had by this time got firmly planted on the hind seat, and held the
drooping form on one arm with all the ease of a giant's grasp.
"For the love of God!" said I, "pull up. I know him well; he'll do it to a
certainty if you press on."
"And we know you, too," said a ruffianly fellow, with a dark whisker
meeting beneath his chin, "and have some scores to settle ere we part--"
But I heard no more. With one tremendous effort I dashed my horse forward.
The carriage turned an angle of the road, for an instant was out of sight,
another moment I was behind it.
"Stop!" I shouted, with a last effort, but in vain. The horses, maddened
and infuriated, sprang forward, and heedless of all efforts to turn them
the leaders sprang over the low parapet of the bridge, and hanging for a
second by the traces, fell with a crash into the swollen torrent beneath.
By this time I was beside the carriage. Finucane had now clambered to the
box, and regardless of the death and ruin around, bent upon his murderous
object, he lifted the light and girlish form above his head, bent backwards
as if to give greater impulse to his effort, when, twining my lash around
my wrist, I levelled my heavy and loaded hunting-whip at his head. The
weighted ball of lead struck him exactly beneath his hat; he staggered, his
hands relaxed, and he fell lifeless to the ground; the same instant I was
felled to the earth by a blow from behind, and saw no more.
Nearly three weeks followed the event I have just narrated ere I again was
restored to consciousness. The blow by which I was felled--from what hand
coming it was never after discovered--had brought on concussion of the
brain, and for several days my life was despaired of. As by slow steps I
advanced towards recovery, I learned from Considine that Miss Dashwood,
whose life was saved by my interference, had testified, in the warmest
manner, her gratitude, and that Sir George had, up to the period of his
leaving the country, never omitted a single day to ride over and inquire
"You know, of course," said the count, supposing such news was the most
likely to interest me,--"you know we beat them?"
"No. Pray tell me all. They've not let me hear anything hitherto."
"One day finished the whole affair. We polled man for man till past two
o'clock, when our fellows lost all patience and beat their tallies out
of the town. The police came up, but they beat the police; then they got
soldiers, but, begad, they were too strong for them, too. Sir George
witnessed it all, and knowing besides how little chance he had of success,
deemed it best to give in; so that a little before five o'clock he
resigned. I must say no man could behave better. He came across the
hustings and shook hands with Godfrey; and as the news of the _scrimmage_
with his daughter had just arrived, said that he was sorry his prospect of
success had not been greater, that in resigning he might testify how deeply
he felt the debt the O'Malleys had laid him under."
"And my uncle, how did he receive his advances?"
"Like his own honest self,--grasped his hand firmly; and upon my soul, I
think he was half sorry that he gained the day. Do you know, he took a
mighty fancy to that blue-eyed daughter of the old general's. Faith,
Charley, if he was some twenty years younger, I would not say but--Come,
come, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings; but I have been staying here too
long. I'll send up Mickey to sit with you. Mind and don't be talking too
much to him."
So saying, the worthy count left the room fully impressed that in hinting
at the possibility of my uncle's marrying again, he had said something to
ruffle my temper.
For the next two or three weeks my life was one of the most tiresome
monotony. Strict injunctions had been given by the doctors to avoid
exciting me; and consequently, every one that came in walked on tiptoe,
spoke in whispers, and left me in five minutes. Reading was absolutely
forbidden; and with a sombre half-light to sit in, and chicken broth to
support nature, I dragged out as dreary an existence as any gentleman west
Whenever my uncle or Considine were not in the room, my companion was my
own servant, Michael, or as he was better known, "Mickey Free." Now, had
Mickey been left to his own free and unrestricted devices, the time would
not have hung so heavily; for among Mike's manifold gifts he was possessed
of a very great flow of gossiping conversation. He knew all that was
doing in the county, and never was barren in his information wherever his
imagination could come into play. Mickey was the best hurler in the barony,
no mean performer on the violin, could dance the national bolero of "Tatter
Jack Walsh" in a way that charmed more than one soft heart beneath a red
woolsey bodice, and had, withal, the peculiar free-and-easy devil-may-care
kind of off-hand Irish way that never deserted him in the midst of his
wiliest and most subtle moments, giving to a very deep and cunning fellow
all the apparent frankness and openness of a country lad.
He had attached himself to me as a kind of sporting companion; and growing
daily more and more useful, had been gradually admitted to the honors of
the kitchen and the prerogatives of cast clothes, without ever having been
actually engaged as a servant; and while thus no warrant officer, as, in
fact, he discharged all his duties well and punctually, was rated among the
ship's company, though no one could say at what precise period he changed
his caterpillar existence and became the gay butterfly with cords and
tops, a striped vest, and a most knowing jerry hat who stalked about
the stable-yard and bullied the helpers. Such was Mike. He had made his
fortune, such as it was, and had a most becoming pride in the fact that he
made himself indispensable to an establishment which, before he entered
it, never knew the want of him. As for me, he was everything to me. Mike
informed me what horse was wrong, why the chestnut mare couldn't go out,
and why the black horse could. He knew the arrival of a new covey of
partridge quicker than the "Morning Post" does of a noble family from the
Continent, and could tell their whereabouts twice as accurately. But
his talents took a wider range than field sports afford, and he was the
faithful chronicler of every wake, station, wedding, or christening for
miles round; and as I took no small pleasure in those very national
pastimes, the information was of great value to me. To conclude this
brief sketch, Mike was a devout Catholic in the same sense that he was
enthusiastic about anything,--that is, he believed and obeyed exactly as
far as suited his own peculiar notions of comfort and happiness. Beyond
_that_, his scepticism stepped in and saved him from inconvenience; and
though he might have been somewhat puzzled to reduce his faith to a rubric,
still it answered his purpose, and that was all he wanted. Such, in short,
was my valet, Mickey Free, and who, had not heavy injunctions been laid on
him as to silence and discretion, would well have lightened my weary hours.
"Ah, then, Misther Charles!" said he, with a half-suppressed yawn at the
long period of probation his tongue had been undergoing in silence,--"ah,
then, but ye were mighty near it!"
"Near what?" said I.
"Faith, then, myself doesn't well know. Some say it's purgathory; but it's
hard to tell."
"I thought you were too good a Catholic, Mickey, to show any doubts on the
"May be I am; may be I ain't," was the cautious reply.
"Wouldn't Father Roach explain any of your difficulties for you, if you
went over to him?"
"Faix, it's little I'd mind his explainings."
"And why not?"
"Easy enough. If you ax ould Miles there, without, what does he be doing
with all the powther and shot, wouldn't he tell you he's shooting the
rooks, and the magpies, and some other varmint? But myself knows he sells
it to Widow Casey, at two-and-fourpence a pound; so belikes, Father Roach
may be shooting away at the poor souls in purgathory, that all this time
are enjoying the hoith of fine living in heaven, ye understand."
"And you think that's the way of it, Mickey?"
"Troth, it's likely. Anyhow, I know its not the place they make it out."
"Why, how do you mean?"
"Well, then, I'll tell you, Misther Charles; but you must not be saying
anything about it afther, for I don't like to talk about these kind of
Having pledged myself to the requisite silence and secrecy, Mickey began:--
"May be you heard tell of the way my father, rest his soul wherever he is,
came to his end. Well, I needn't mind particulars, but, in short, he was
murdered in Ballinasloe one night, when he was baitin' the whole town with
a blackthorn stick he had; more by token, a piece of a scythe was stuck at
the end of it,--a nate weapon, and one he was mighty partial to; but those
murdering thieves, the cattle-dealers, that never cared for diversion of
any kind, fell on him and broke his skull.
"Well, we had a very agreeable wake, and plenty of the best of everything,
and to spare, and I thought it was all over; but somehow, though I paid
Father Roach fifteen shillings, and made him mighty drunk, he always gave
me a black look wherever I met him, and when I took off my hat, he'd turn
away his head displeased like.
"'Murder and ages,' says I, 'what's this for?' But as I've a light heart,
I bore up, and didn't think more about it. One day, however, I was coming
home from Athlone market, by myself on the road, when Father Roach overtook
me. 'Devil a one a me 'ill take any notice of you now,' says I, 'and we'll
see what'll come out of it.' So the priest rid up and looked me straight in
"'Mickey,' says he,--'Mickey.'
"'Father,' says I.
"'Is it that way you salute your clargy,' says he, 'with your caubeen on
"'Faix,' says I, 'it's little ye mind whether it's an or aff; for you never
take the trouble to say, "By your leave," or "Damn your soul!" or any other
politeness when we meet.'
"'You're an ungrateful creature,' says he; 'and if you only knew, you'd be
trembling in your skin before me, this minute.'
"'Devil a tremble,' says I, 'after walking six miles this way.'
"'You're an obstinate, hard-hearted sinner,' says he; 'and it's no use in
"'Telling me what?' says I; for I was getting curious to make out what he
"'Mickey,' says he, changing his voice, and putting his head down close to
me,--'Mickey, I saw your father last night.'
"'The saints be merciful to us!' said I, 'did ye?'
"'I did,' says he.
"'Tear an ages,' says I, 'did he tell you what he did with the new
corduroys he bought in the fair?'
"'Oh, then, you are a could-hearted creature!' says he, 'and I'll not lose
time with you.' With that he was going to ride away, when I took hold of
"'Father, darling,' says I, 'God pardon me, but them breeches is goin'
between me an' my night's rest; but tell me about my father?'
"'Oh, then, he's in a melancholy state!'
"'Whereabouts is he?' says I.
"'In purgathory,' says he; 'but he won't be there long.'
"'Well,' says I, 'that's a comfort, anyhow.'
"'I am glad you think so,' says he; 'but there's more of the other
"'What's _that?_' says I.
"'That hell's worse.'
"'Oh, melia-murther!' says I, 'is that it?'
"'Ay, that's it.'
"Well, I was so terrified and frightened, I said nothing for some time, but
trotted along beside the priest's horse.
"'Father,' says I, 'how long will it be before they send him where you
"'It will not be long now,' says he, 'for they're tired entirely with him;
they've no peace night or day,' says he. 'Mickey, your father is a mighty
"'True for you, Father Roach,' says I to myself; 'av he had only the ould
stick with the scythe in it, I wish them joy of his company.'
"'Mickey,' says he, 'I see you're grieved, and I don't wonder; sure, it's a
great disgrace to a decent family.'
"'Troth, it is,' says I; 'but my father always liked low company. Could
nothing be done for him now, Father Roach?' says I, looking up in the
"'I'm greatly afraid, Mickey, he was a bad man, a very bad man.'
"'And ye think he'll go there?' says I.
"'Indeed, Mickey, I have my fears.'
"'Upon my conscience,' says I, 'I believe you're right; he was always a
"'But it doesn't depind on him,' says the priest, crossly.
"'And, then, who then?' says I.
"'Upon yourself, Mickey Free,' says he, 'God pardon you for it, too!'
"'Upon me?' says I.
"'Troth, no less,' says he; 'how many Masses was said for your father's
soul; how many Aves; how many Paters? Answer me.'
"'Devil a one of me knows!--may be twenty.'
"'Twenty, twenty!--no, nor one.'
"'And why not?' says I; 'what for wouldn't you be helping a poor crayture
out of trouble, when it wouldn't cost you more nor a handful of prayers?'
"'Mickey, I see,' says he, in a solemn tone, 'you're worse nor a haythen;
but ye couldn't be other, ye never come to yer duties.'
"'Well, Father,' says I, Looking very penitent, 'how many Masses would get
"'Now you talk like a sensible man,' says he. 'Now, Mickey, I've hopes for
you. Let me see,' here he went countin' upon his fingers, and numberin' to
himself for five minutes. 'Mickey,' says he, 'I've a batch coming out on
Tuesday week, and if you were to make great exertions, perhaps your father
could come with them; that is, av they have made no objections.'
"'And what for would they?' says I; 'he was always the hoith of company,
and av singing's allowed in them parts--'
"'God forgive you, Mickey, but yer in a benighted state,' says he, sighing.
"'Well,' says I, 'how'll we get him out on Tuesday week? For that's
bringing things to a focus.'
"'Two Masses in the morning, fastin',' says Father Roach, half aloud, 'is
two, and two in the afternoon is four, and two at vespers is six,' says he;
'six Masses a day for nine days is close by sixty Masses,--say sixty,' says
he; 'and they'll cost you--mind, Mickey, and don't be telling it again, for
it's only to yourself I'd make them so cheap--a matter of three pounds.'
"'Three pounds!' says I; 'be-gorra ye might as well ax me to give you the
rock of Cashel.'
"'I'm sorry for ye, Mickey,' says he, gatherin' up the reins to ride
off,--'I'm sorry for ye; and the time will come when the neglect of your
poor father will be a sore stroke agin yourself.'
"'Wait a bit, your reverence,' says I,--'wait a bit. Would forty shillings
get him out?'
"'Av course it wouldn't,' says he.
"'May be,' says I, coaxing,--'may be, av you said that his son was a poor
boy that lived by his indhustry, and the times was bad--'
"'Not the least use,' says he.
"'Arrah, but it's hard-hearted they are,' thinks I. 'Well, see now, I'll
give you the money, but I can't afford it all at onst; but I'll pay five
shillings a week. Will that do?'
"'I'll do my endayvors,' says Father Roach; 'and I'll speak to them to
treat him peaceably in the meantime.'
"'Long life to yer reverence, and do. Well, here now, here's five hogs to
begin with; and, musha, but I never thought I'd be spending my loose change
"Father Roach put the six tinpinnies in the pocket of his black leather
breeches, said something in Latin, bid me good-morning, and rode off.
"Well, to make my story short, I worked late and early to pay the five
shillings a week, and I did do it for three weeks regular; then I brought
four and fourpence; then it came down to one and tenpence halfpenny, then
ninepence, and at last I had nothing at all to bring.
"'Mickey Free,' says the priest, 'ye must stir yourself. Your father is
mighty displeased at the way you've been doing of late; and av ye kept yer
word, he'd be near out by this time.'
"'Troth,' says I, 'it's a very expensive place.'
"'By coorse it is,' says he; 'sure all the quality of the land's there.
But, Mickey, my man, with a little exertion, your father's business is
done. What are you jingling in your pocket there?'
"'It's ten shillings, your reverence, I have to buy seed potatoes.'
"'Hand it here, my son. Isn't it better your father would be enjoying
himself in paradise, than if ye were to have all the potatoes in Ireland?'
"'And how do ye know,' says I, 'he's so near out?'
"'How do I know,--how do I know, is it? Didn't I see him?'
"'See him! Tear an ages, was you down there again?'
"'I was,' says he; 'I was down there for three quarters of an hour
yesterday evening, getting out Luke Kennedy's mother. Decent people the
Kennedy's; never spared expense.'
"'And ye seen my father?' says I.
"'I did,' says he; 'he had an ould flannel waistcoat on, and a pipe sticking
out of the pocket av it.'
"'That's him,' says I. 'Had he a hairy cap?'
"'I didn't mind the cap,' says he; 'but av coorse he wouldn't have it on
his head in that place.'
"'Thrue for you,' says I. 'Did he speak to you?'
"'He did,' says Father Roach; 'he spoke very hard about the way he was
treated down there; that they was always jibin' and jeerin' him about
_drink_, and fightin', and the course he led up here, and that it was a
queer thing, for the matter of ten shillings, he was to be kept there so
"'Well,' says I, taking out the ten shillings and counting it with one
hand, 'we must do our best, anyhow; and ye think this'll get him out
"'I know it will,' says he; 'for when Luke's mother was leaving the place,
and yer father saw the door open, he made a rush at it, and, be-gorra,
before it was shut he got his head and one shoulder outside av it,--so
that, ye see, a thrifle more'll do it.'
"'Faix, and yer reverence,' says I, 'you've lightened my heart this
morning.' And I put my money back again in my pocket.
"'Why, what do you mean?' says he, growing very red, for he was angry.
"'Just this,' says I, 'that I've saved my money; for av it was my father
you seen, and that he got his head and one shoulder outside the door, oh,
then, by the powers!' says I, 'the devil a jail or jailer from hell to
Connaught id hould him. So, Father Roach, I wish you the top of the
morning.' And I went away laughing; and from that day to this I never heard
more of purgathory; and ye see, Master Charles, I think I was right."
Scarcely had Mike concluded when my door was suddenly burst open, and Sir
Harry Boyle, without assuming any of his usual precautions respecting
silence and quiet, rushed into the room, a broad grin upon his honest
features, and his eyes twinkling in a way that evidently showed me
something had occurred to amuse him.
"By Jove, Charley, I mustn't keep it from you; it's too good a thing not
to tell you. Do you remember that very essenced young gentleman who
accompanied Sir George Dashwood from Dublin, as a kind of electioneering
"Do you mean Mr. Prettyman?"
"The very man; he was, you are aware, an under-secretary in some government
department. Well, it seems that he had come down among us poor savages as
much from motives of learned research and scientific inquiry, as though we
had been South Sea Islanders; report had gifted us humble Galwayans with
some very peculiar traits, and this gifted individual resolved to record
them. Whether the election week might have sufficed his appetite for
wonders I know not; but he was peaceably taking his departure from the west
on Saturday last, when Phil Macnamara met him, and pressed him to dine that
day with a few friends at his house. You know Phil; so that when I tell you
Sam Burke, of Greenmount, and Roger Doolan were of the party, I need
not say that the English traveller was not left to his own unassisted
imagination for his facts. Such anecdotes of our habits and customs as they
crammed him with, it would appear, never were heard before; nothing was
too hot or too heavy for the luckless cockney, who, when not sipping
his claret, was faithfully recording in his tablet the mems. for a very
brilliant and very original work on Ireland.
"Fine country, splendid country; glorious people,--gifted, brave,
intelligent, but not happy,--alas! Mr. Macnamara, not happy. But we don't
know you, gentlemen,--we don't indeed,--at the other side of the Channel.
Our notions regarding you are far, very far from just."
"I hope and trust," said old Burke, "you'll help them to a better
understanding ere long."
"Such, my dear sir, will be the proudest task of my life. The facts I have
heard here this evening have made so profound an impression upon me that I
burn for the moment when I can make them known to the world at large. To
think--just to think that a portion of this beautiful island should be
steeped in poverty; that the people not only live upon the mere potatoes,
but are absolutely obliged to wear the skins for raiment, as Mr. Doolan has
just mentioned to me!"
"'Which accounts for our cultivation of lumpers,' added Mr. Doolan, 'they
being the largest species of the root, and best adapted for wearing
"'I should deem myself culpable--indeed I should--did I not inform my
countrymen upon the real condition of this great country.'
"'Why, after your great opportunities for judging,' said Phil, 'you ought
to speak out. You've seen us in a way, I may fairly affirm, few Englishmen
have, and heard more.'
"'That's it,--that's the very thing, Mr. Macnamara. I've looked at you more
closely; I've watched you more narrowly; I've witnessed what the French
call your _vie intime_.'
"'Begad you have,' said old Burke, with a grin, 'and profited by it to the
"'I've been a spectator of your election contests; I've partaken of your
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