THE FISH WHICH HE TOOK BY HOOK AND BY CROOK.
_A COMIC LEGEND_,
A. NOVICE, A.F. & F.
_Dedicated to all Lovers of Angling._
[Illustration: THE FRIAR, A COMIC LEGEND.]
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[Illustration: And up suddenly reared, The head of Miss Puss in a very droll way.]
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J. AND D. A. DARLING, 126 BISHOPSGATE STREET.
Printed by G. BARCLAY, Castle St. Leicester Sq.
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As a preface in verse Is perhaps the reverse Of the common and so vulgar way, It is thus I intend Introducing my friend, Who would fain his respects to you pay. Of the place of his birth, Though some snug spot on earth, I ne'er heard, so can't tell; Though I guess that the rogue, From his twang of the brogue, Did in Old Erin dwell. But if not, it was surely some queer Irishman Who related the tale. I've tried all that I can To gain further partic'lars, which p'raps might amuse, But I naught could fish out--ev'ry bait proved no use. Still I'll pause to explain (It may p'rhaps entertain), How at first I acquainted became With the facts I relate, Which, with truth I may state, Occurred at some long bygone date. You must know that I love, All amusements above, To arise ere the sun Has his day's work begun, And roam to some river, Who'll kindly deliver Up his subjects to fate For a little ground bait. Oh! how often my slumbering dreams have been broke By the thought I'm too late, and I've suddenly woke To discover 'twas dark, and have dozed off again; But the dose to repeat, hope for rest being vain.
I in fancy have fished in most curious places-- Down a coal-hole, in areas, and off cellar bases; Where the queerest of things you can name I have caught, or As I dropt down my line, has retreated the water.
Now that angling's a passion to me appears plain, Which amounts to disease if a tight hold it gain; It may oft be relieved by right treatment, perhaps, But then, sooner or later, there's sure a relapse. Standing out a whole day, from its dawn until night, In a good drenching rain, without even a bite, Is a capital thing for just cooling the brain, Though time still will revive--and it warms up again. It is contagious, too, for a brother it caught, As he slept in a room where my tackle was brought; He was up with the lark, and my top joint had broke Ere the 'larum had rung, which the family woke.
Let me see, it is now about five years ago, When, admiring the Irish and blarney, I packed up all my traps, and my tackle also, And set sail for the banks of Killarney. I had heard of the lovely and beautiful views Which adorned the fair Emerald Isle; So as long as I'd time I resolved to roam through, And admire what had made Nature smile.
My feelings, as the sea I crossed, Are distant from the tale; Suffice it that I suffered loss-- 'Twas not a pleasant sail. My rising thoughts unable to control, I drowned my sorrows in the waves that roll; The sickly waves a tribute would demand, Nor gave me rest till I obeyed command.
With much delight I traversed o'er The land of Pats and praties, And mourned to note from what I saw That indolence their fate is. A pipe stuck easy in their mouth For mind and body food is; Their dress, I must say, is uncouth, For it next door to nude is.... I'm speaking of the lower sort, Not so bad are their betters; Though some, who wealth find ready wrought, Rest in luxurious fetters. And have they been for ever so? Industrious, were they never? Some things I've seen would p'rhaps say, "No, As now they were not ever." But think not, reader, I intend To write on why and wherefore; I know not what these folks will mend, So cannot tell you therefore. (Though industry in some to plant I tried, and put in training; But soon they cried, "O mend-i-cant!"-- So beggars are remaining.) Nor is it now my wish to write On Ireland's beauteous scenery; Though filled with rapture and delight, I'll spare you what I've seen; or I Might fill a dozen pages quite, Describing lakes and greenery. No; such is not my present plan, On angling turns my story: The pleasures of a fisherman I soon shall lay before ye. By some mishap at Hull or Cork, My tackle was mislaid; So fate did inclination baulk, And sport some days delayed. I just had purchased, all quite new, Of flies a complete set; And though I had my rod, 'tis true, I would not fresh ones get. I'll wait, thinks I, and roam about, Though some days it may cost. I'll find the lucky places out, So time will not be lost. By telegraph's electric wire, Or steam, I'll let them know The place to which I'd fain desire These luckless flies should go.
'Twas on a morn as bright as fair As any time, or anywhere, Mine eyes have ever seen; For bright and cloudless was the sky, And blue as any maiden's eye, Where tears have seldom been. It made my heart with pleasure beat; A lightness seemed to raise my feet, And bear them forth to roam, Ere yet the morning meal was laid, To ramble down a mossy glade Some many miles from home. Then climbed I up a dew-bathed steep, Just on the other side to peep And see what might be there. By tangled branches grasped right close, Above impediments I rose, And, lo, a valley fair! Where, 'midst the shade of drooping trees, All quiv'ring in the morning breeze, Appeared a glitt'ring stream, Which ran for miles, than gold more bright; Refulgent with the source of light, The waves like diamonds gleam. Impelled I rushed like some wild deer, And bounding o'er each bramble near, Like torrent's fearful course, Was forced to run a whole field's length Before expended was the strength Of gravitation's force.
When at the water's side, I found An aged man, who gazed around Half terrified, to see If some mad bull approached that way, Or steam-engine had gone astray; And stared surprised at me. I bowed to him, and begged, polite, His pardon for the sudden fright Which I, unconscious, gave. "It was the beauteous scene which made Me scamper down so wild," I said; "For which I pardon crave. For, like yourself, I love the sport, And 'twas this sparkling stream which brought Out hitherward my feet. What numbers, sir! what splendid trout! You must have early sallied out: Such sport I seldom meet!" "A stranger, then, you are," said he; "The fishes here bite mostly free, They love the gaudy fly. But scarce an hour I here have been, And hooked the few that you have seen For breakfast. By the bye, I very nearly had forgot That time for me will tarry not, That hour is drawing nigh. But, sir, with pleasure, if you love The sport, I'll show you where they rove, For often here am I; And every nook and hole I know, Which any time you please I'll show: My house you yonder spy." I, thanking, praised the old man's skill, Though, as I viewed him nearer still, I deemed him younger far Than I at first beholding thought; 'Twas care, not age, had deeply wrought The wrinkle-furrowed scar. But though erect as poplar straight, He bent not 'neath the crushing weight Of Time's remorseless might. Yet few and scanty were his locks, Which were than Shetland's rill-bathed flocks Longer and purer white. A sudden int'rest in mine eyes, Which unaccounted will arise Ofttimes within the brain, I felt tow'rds him, and longed to know What circumstance had made him so-- If grief, or wearing pain. He friendly seemed, and not averse On fishing topics to converse; At length I told my woe, How that my flies and lines behind Were left. Said he, "Oh, never mind; If home with me you'll go, With pleasure I will lend you all You want; my stock's by no means small-- Not very modern though. And, p'rhaps, if I, a stranger, may Request a boon, as such a way From home you've rambled out, I should feel overjoyed if you Would stay and let your palate too Be tickled by my trout. Except my housekeeper there's none, And she will pardon what I've done, So pray do not refuse." I, pondering for a moment, thought, When he a fresh inducement brought Which drowned my frail excuse. "And afterwards I'll take you out Where you may catch as fine a trout As ever bit at hook." And, truly, I sharp hunger felt, And as three miles from where I dwelt I was, I gladly took Him at his word, and pleased him quite By thus accepting his invite. He seized my hand and twice it shook, And thanking me with cordial look, He smiling said, "For you I feel A friendship, sir, I'll not conceal. You cause my fancies back to fly To youth's bright days, when fearless I, Like you, would dash through passes where A slip had sent me past all care; But now those joyous moments seem Like wanderings in a pleasant dream, And never will return, I fear. But, see, my garden-gate is here." He led the way, with fish in hand; We neared the house, perhaps not grand In point of size, yet truly there Resided Elegance, and Care Expended on each part had been: No imperfections could be seen, For Order reigned throughout the place, Assisted by her sister Grace. The walls were built of reddish brick, And massive as a house were thick, That meant to combat with old Time, For still they seemed now in their prime. Though cent'ries two past them had strayed They scarce had an impression made. A carved verandah ran before The front, and arched above the door Arose, where flowers twined around Their sweetness, and a dwelling found. "We're rather homely folks," said he, "My housekeeper and I: we see And hear but little of the news And fashions which you moderns use, But sure I am you will excuse Our queerness, which may chance amuse." With this we reached the hall, whose floor Was paved with stone. He moved before, And throwing wide an open door, He bade me enter and wage war With hunger a few moments more, The while he after the fishes saw.
The house was large, and opened out Upon a lawn, where roamed about A gentle fawn, who darted through The casement, but as quick withdrew,-- He missed the hand that used to feed, So backward flew with rapid speed.
The floor of polished oak was made, O'er which a carpet rich was laid. The furniture was carved antique; And had it been allowed to speak, Might tales of stirring int'rest tell Of what in ancient times befell: But that which most attracted me Seemed younger far than all to be, The portrait of a lady fair As ever breathed the vital air, Or drove a lover to despair, Or claimed in any mischief share;-- As beautiful a face was there As poet's quill did e'er compare With aught above the earth that grows; Than even winter's drifting snows, Her neck was white, while dark her eyes As night when moonbeams shun the skies; Her glossy locks down trickling, Were blacker than the raven's wing, While fresh-born pearls might even die with grief, Out-rivalled by her more transparent teeth. The rosy, tint-like blushes on her cheek, Would puzzle Language, if he truth must speak. In fact, I saw the portrait was not real,-- A painter's fancy, beautiful, ideal. Yet still, enraptured, in a pensive mood, Entranced I gazed, more pleased the more I viewed, When, unperceived, beside me stood my host, Who like myself in wand'ring thought seemed lost. He sighed; I turned, and on his cheek beheld A falling tear his mem'ry's grief impelled: But soon above it rose a cheerful smile, And Joy seemed anxious Sorrow to beguile. "What form! what grace!" half questioning, said I, "No mortal face such beauty could supply?" "But yet a fairer one I've seen," said he. "Then surely she th' original must be?" "Not her, I mean; the grave has closed above That beauteous form, which seeing was to love: My housekeeper I meant,--you smile!" said he, "I own that I may not impartial be; But still I hope you will not seek her heart, For it would kill me were we forced to part: Come, promise me you will not fall in love," He joking said, and cast his eyes above. I gave my word, though really I must own On first beholding I was near o'erthrown, And nigh had fallen into Cupid's snare, For such a sight I did but half prepare. A step approached, he left that toe to seek, A smacking kiss salutes his aged cheek, Then, whisp'ring low of me, I heard them speak, And felt uncertain what I ought to do. When not long after they both entered through The half-closed door my back was turned unto. "His housekeeper," thinks I: "I'll not look round Until he speak, but seem in thought profound, Still gazing on that face for charms renowned." "My niece, my friend." I introduced am now, And so, perforce, must turn me round and bow. When, like Miss Lalla Rookh, In Moore's delightful book (Who found her husband was Young What's-his-name), I with amazement found (When I had gazed around) The housekeeper and portrait were the same. The night-dark orbs, which radiant smiles bedeck (Like sunbeams dancing on the ruffled wave), The pearly teeth, the snowy, swan-like neck, The roseate hue which health unsparing gave, The velvet cheek, and deepened on the lips (Like double poppies whence the wise bee sips Entrancing sweets), and ev'ry other charm That tongue has told, or fancy could describe, In both appeared--yea, which had won the palm In beauty's flower-show (without a bribe) I cannot tell, but let the living form But speak a word, and ev'ry doubt is gone.
His niece, he said; his sister's child is she? No wonder then their faces well agree. But still I gave him a reproving look, At which he smiled, while in his arm he took The portrait's twin, and bid me follow where The well-dressed trout for our repast prepare.
The meal concluded, out we went With tackle which he kindly lent, And reached a lonely spot, Where, at the swarms of glittering flies, The speckled trout enraptured rise, Like lightning, or a shot; And soon a splendid pair I caught, As fine as I had seen, methought, Though I've tried lots of places. He calls: "What luck, my friend?" says he. "A brace!" "The same have favoured me-- So that's a pair of braces; And if the sun will but lie hid The fleecy, flutt'ring clouds amid, For two short hours more (Unless your arm be wearied out), We'll line the bank with sparkling trout, In number twice a score."
I said before, I anxious felt to learn The old man's history, There seemed some mystery; For he from grave to gay, and back, would turn So very fast, That scarcely past The witty jest had flown, before a sigh Burst forth, and buried deep he long would lie In thought; And nought Would rouse him up, till some one near him spoke, And then some anecdote or lively joke Appeared the offspring of his lethargy.
In vain the fish, with wistful eye, Might long to seize his tempting fly, For rod and line unheeded lie Quite harmless on the shore.-- At breakfast also, by the bye, The trout got cold, or very nigh, Before he asked if I would try Another mouthful more.
I asked his name, and, as I thought, My voice him to remembrance brought; "The Doctor I am called," said he; "Though years have passed since I a fee Have taken for my skill. My name is Hall, so--Doctor Hall Will kill or cure all folks who call, With bleeding, draught, or pill. My niece the nasty stuff prepares, And as she many visits shares, As doctor's boy, she will Oft roam with basket on her arm, From hut to cot, from house to farm, With med'cine all to fill; While many a needy child displays Her needlework, which snugly lays Beneath the physics, while she strays, Unseen her gifts to share. It is not I her fame should blaze, But still my tongue unbid will praise A life she spends in seeking ways To cure all human care." My name then in return I gave, And chanced to say at times My business was for fame and gold To dress my thoughts in rhymes.
"You don't say so!" with joy, said he. "You're just the man I've longed to see For many years, but never yet Have one of your profession met. I have at home a curious tale,-- A legend, which, I much bewail, Has been by time or mice defaced, So much that parts are scarcely traced: My wish has been, a man to find Whose taste to poetry inclined, Who kindly would the remnants read And fill in where the sense may need-- A few words here--a passage there-- While now and then a page may share, Destruction's touch, and need much skill The space with likesome rhymes to fill. Though some expense th' improvements make, If you the task will undertake I care not, and with gladness will Repay you for your time and skill. Through circumstance unfortunate Destroyed have been the name and date (If any there have been), Yet still I traces here and there, Which seem upon the tale to bear, In many parts have seen. I have not quite decided yet, Whether to print it, or to let It still reside in ink. But you shall first the tale peruse (Unless the office you refuse); I'll hear then what you think." "With pleasure, sir, I will comply With your request; but really I Cannot with honesty deny My fear lest I should not supply The skill you need; but still will try, For now I have much leisure time, And love exploring ancient rhyme."
With many thanks, he begg'd I'd with him dine. "Now do not, sir, from etiquette, decline, For afterwards together we will read The tale, and judge how it had best proceed. There's none but my housekeeper shares The meal with me, and she up-stairs Shall have her meat and pudding sent, If that robs me of your consent. Of course it is quite right of you To seek excuse, but make them few, I pray you, sir, for greatly I Prefer unformal courtesy. For what is fashion but a chain to bind The wretch called man with tortures of some kind,-- The small-toed shoe, to grind his very corns,-- The wasted waist, which age for ever mourns,-- The bulging sleeve, which dives in ev'ry dish, And trailing dress to raise the dust? I wish The world would wiser grow. But, what's more strange To me, is, though their fancies ever change (Which shows they never can perfection reach), They still their youth in _copy slips_ will teach That maxim immoral, you p'rhaps have heard them tell, That 'to be out of fashion, one might just as well Far out of the universe at a distance dwell.'
"But still, sir, fashions are of use (Though I too smile at their abuse), For shops are oft so overstocked That trade would on the head be knocked, If Fancy did not often range And force his slaves their dress to change. Some forms are also needful too, In daily life; and strange, yet true, You'll ever find when Form has flown That Order soon will get o'erthrown, And then how often rows arise In thus disordered families. The ladies, as 'tis merely form To decorate at early morn, Forget their tresses to unfurl And paper-prisoned leave each curl. In dressing-gown and sunk-heel'd shoe, The master saunters into view Long after breakfast has begun, Whence stragglers leave as soon as done. The infants, too, in disarray, Tease till allowed to have their way, As parents do not like, they say, Formality in babes; while they, Who will not nat'rally obey, Think now, since taxes are so few, The duty's off their parents too. But open house and open heart, Which would to all who need impart Unbounded hospitality, Has ever been the poet's song, And shall continue so, as long As they retain vitality." "And gladly I your offer take To dine, and hope your tale to make Subject of immortality. Then as in search of health I came, Your skill the wand'rer shall reclaim If he's in this locality."
A beggar here accosted him And begged to drink his health. I smiled to hear this Irish whim, And pictured to myself The tattered man, and host so trim, As Poverty and Wealth. But though he could not say him nay, The honour did decline,-- "The wretch has drunk _his health_ away, And now he would drink _mine_."
Methought a brighter smile bedecked The maiden's cheek when back I came; She certainly did not expect That he would bring me there again. But sometimes we ourselves deceive, As what we wish we oft believe.
The dinner and the lady flown, We chatted o'er the wine. But though his glass he left alone, He would replenish mine. At length he told his history, And thus cleared up the mystery, Which clothed him like a spell. 'Twas sad and touching though to hear The anguish past of many a year, Yet pleased his grief to tell He seemed, for cheerfully he spoke, Though oft a deep-drawn sigh forth broke From Sorrow's care-worn well.
"This house above our heads," said he; "(Of late my uncle's property), Has been the family estate Longer than I can backward date. The orphan of a brother, I Resided here in days gone by, His table and his heart to share. Thus childhood passed without a care; At college then his kindness placed, And gladly my improvements traced. When, as he left the choice to me, A surgeon I resolved to be.
"The portrait of this worthy man I'll sometime show, although I can But briefly on his virtues dwell; 'Twould weary you were I to tell Of all the kindness shown to me, Since when an infant on his knee, Beside my father's dying bed, He promised to be mine instead.
"A tall and well-formed man was he, Beloved for his humanity. Yea, oft he would so gen'rous be That some called it insanity. Still happily together we, Far from the empty vanity Of public care and worldly strife, Enjoyed a peaceful, quiet life, Without a wish to share or mix In gaiety or politics; Which were, he said, so fraught with tricks, Emoluments on self to fix. It made his spirit boil to see Their mercantile hypocrisy. But though this may at times be true, His must be a distorted view Of legislative law; yet still, How often proud Ambition will Stoop down to acts remote from praise, Himself above a foe to raise.
"If harsh at times my uncle might By some be deemed, for what seemed right, Whate'er the cost, he would uphold, Though down his plans and wishes rolled Like sand-banks 'fore the rushing tide, When duty asked him to decide. Residing in this lovely spot, Our guests were few, yet cared we not, For he, in calculations deep, Would pass the day, and then would creep Aloft at night to watch the stars Revolving in their golden cars. But though so much engaged was he, To prove he ne'er neglected me, He lessons gave in Latin, Greek, And French, which he as well could speak, And fast, as a Parisian guide, For he had travelled far and wide. Then sought he cheerful company, More suitable than his could be, Lest he should make a monk of me; For sometimes he could sit for hours A-pondering o'er the force and pow'rs Of comets which had gone astray, To find when they'd return that way. The widow of a valued friend, A helping hand would also lend To guide me, where his skill might fail (Her loss I much as his bewail). Her cottage was in yonder glen, Though much has altered been since then, Where I would creep away from solid worth, To enjoy the smiling cheerfulness and mirth Of fair Rosina, then a beauteous child, Light as the fawn, and oh! I fear as wild; For we together o'er the hills would roam, And through the woods, without a thought of home, Until the clouds, robbed of their tinted light, Told us the brightest day has still its night.
"Oh! those, indeed, were bright and joyous days, And blissful visions mem'ry oft will raise Of that blest time, ere Grief, with tyrant sway, From out this breast drove Hope and Peace away.
"Years passed; we grew; I loved her more and more, And pleased our relatives th' attachment saw; But soon I left for Cam's far distant shore, Exchanging love and peace for ancient lore. Yet short my college life appears, for I Had well been trained, and sought to try To soar above the mass, and force proud Fame Within her tablets to inscribe my name: Not from ambition, but the wish to prove Worthy my guardian's and Rosina's love. How well can I remember now that day, When, with the honours I had borne away, I homeward flew, to lay them at her feet, And hear her voice than highest praise more sweet. But Disappointment mocked my eager gaze, As anxiously (from out the post-drawn chaise) I watched to see her graceful form appear From out the cot, and, chilled with unknown fear, My heart shrunk back and dared not hope that she Would at my guardian's be awaiting me.
"My worthy uncle welcomed me with joy, But even kindness sometimes can annoy, For on that night he talked as much, I'm sure, As he had done in any week before, While I so often cast a glance around. He asked, at length, if I much diff'rence found In the old house?--this proved a hint to me, And made me notice more his courtesy.
"'Rosina and her mother went,' said he, 'A week ago some distant friend to see: They hope to see you, though, before you leave. A month or two they stay there, I believe.'
"How vain is Hope's, how frail is Pleasure's charm! Anticipation well may boast the palm; While Happiness, like spectre in disguise, Enchants, and then for ever from us flies.
"Thus was the dream of months,--yea years, destroyed, And nought was left me but a restless void, To furnish which I studied ev'ry cause Of mortal Pain, and Chemistry's fixed laws; But though I learnt the broken limb to bind I found no ease for my distracted mind. But much too long upon these scenes I dwell, Excuse me, sir, for ev'ry word I tell Seems like an echo from the ruined past, Fresh as if Time this moment wound the blast.
"My friends returned a week before the day Fixed as the utmost limit of my stay, For all th' arrangements had been made for me To practise sciences and surgery. But greatly had Rosina changed since I In sadness wished her that last, long good-bye. The bounding step I loved so much to greet Was stately now, while for those kisses sweet (Which would such rapture in my bosom wake) She proffered me her tiny hand to shake. I rather disappointed felt, I own, To find the girl to womanhood had grown, But yet I would not any charm displace; For each she wore with such bewitching grace, That soon I liked her gentleness far more Than e'en the lively mirth I loved before.
But though her timid manner fled away (Like mist at morning 'fore the sunny ray), My suit, alas! progressed but little way, For diffidence my lips would ever seal When most I wished my passion to reveal; From the dread fear the spell might thus be broke My trembling voice grew dumb and never spoke. A hint I from my guardian too received. 'My boy,' said he, 'I hope you'll not be grieved, But be advised, at this your dawn of life, To start your course unburdened with a wife; Not that I doubt the value of your choice, Your conduct ever makes my heart rejoice. Still wait a while until your skill and fame Shall add a doctor's title to your name; You'll then have seen the ways, and struggles, too, Of this vain world (placed in their proper view), And p'rhaps may many anxious moments save, The heart, that, loving loves unto the grave.'
"Time crept--I toiled in spite of failing strength, And through th' examination passed at length With honours crowned, when as my health waxed low, I homeward wished for some few weeks to go. I fixed the day, but did not let them know, That unexpected I myself might show. But on the morn at eve of starting came A letter, signed with her loved mother's name; Which told my heart how vainly passion raged-- Rosina to another was engaged. What then took place I've scarcely power to say, For sense and reason nearly broke away, While I had surely cleft the foaming sea Had not my man rushed forth and hindered me; For all that night, in spite of wind and rain, I paced the deck to cool my burning brain. But ere again the vessel touched the land I calmer grew, and gained my self-command; And gave him orders never to make known The great excitement I had lately shown.
"Arrived at home I entered quietly, And found my uncle in deep reverie; So much absorbed he did not notice me. I sat me down. 'Poor fellow!' muttered he, 'This is indeed an unexpected blow-- I never dreamt that matters could end so; It will affect him heavily, I fear-- O that I could his wounded spirit cheer!' 'Uncle,' I rising said, 'behold, I'm here!' He started, grasped my hand, while swift a tear, Pursued by others, bounded off his cheek; His swelling heart appeared too full to speak. But soon recov'ring from the first surprise, To calm my grief he unavailing tries; (For age and youth behold with diff'ring eyes, And one as well a vessel might advise Straight on unmoved its chart-drawn course to keep, When fiercely battling with the raging deep, As tell a youthful heart, by anguish torn, To calm its poignant grief, and cease to mourn.)
"I struggled hard but long could not sustain, For cold and fever seized my care-worn brain; My health, by over-study much impaired, For this encounter was but ill prepared. For weeks unconscious in this state I lay, My life, despaired of, nearly sank away; Until sweet Hope appeared with healing beam, And I awoke as from a pleasant dream. I dreamt my love had watched my bed beside, And nursed me till within her arms I died. A step approached--oh! could that form be she? I closed my eyes and slumb'ring seemed to be; What would I not have given then to tell! But yet I would not, dared not, break the spell. 'Have I been wise?' a voice beside me said, And gently smoothed the pillow 'neath my head; 'Have I done right, in giving thus away The heart he deemed was his until that day? Oh, cruel fate! my love I must forsake, Or else the heart that loved so true will break. This I'll resolve, if he to health revives, And for my hand again as suitor strives, I'll fancy that we were betrothed before, And try to love him as we loved of yore.' What joy! what bliss! what rapture! filled my heart. 'One word, and I from her shall never part. But oh! she loves another one,' thought I (And fell Despair and Grief again drew nigh), 'Who may more worthy be, though I deny That he can love more true, more ardently. Still can my heart accept this sacrifice, Which duty forced her spirit to devise? Should selfish feelings have sufficient weight To wish two hearts betrothed to separate? No, I would rather lonely, ling'ring, die, Than thus my peace with so much suff'ring buy.' A shiv'ring seized me, and I heard her rise; Yet closely clenched I sealed my quiv'ring eyes; While on my cheek I felt her warm, sweet breath-- Oh, 'twas a struggle fierce as life with death! For, weaker grown, I scarcely could restrain The varied feelings battling in my brain; For Hope, Fear, Justice, in succession reigned, Until Delirium conquered all again. Then trembling Life o'erpower'd seemed to have fled, And with a piercing scream she told them I was dead.
"But health and strength returning, by degrees Brought to my mind that long-lost stranger Ease; But weeks and weeks passed silently before I dared request to see her face once more. The youth she loved then entered by her side, And on the morrow she became his bride.
"An officer for India bound was he, And with her mother soon they crossed the sea, While I roamed o'er the Continent to find Relief and comfort for my restless mind. But scarcely past a twelvemonth spent at Rome Ere mournful tidings summoned me back home. My worthy uncle had died suddenly, And made me heir to all his property.
"But what is treasure but a gilded toy? The wounded spirit never can enjoy Its hollow pomp, which ne'er can satisfy The craving heart (where hope bloomed but to die). Yes, ev'ry tie which bound to earth had flown, And I seemed left forsaken and alone; The guiding star which cheered me with its light Had, sinking, left me overwhelmed with night. Years past, but still my feelings were the same, When melancholy news from India came,-- The youthful husband in the war was slain, (Her mother long time in the grave had lain,) And poor Rosina, worn with care and grief, In childhood's scenes resolved to seek relief: But deep disease was rooted in her breast, And soon her gentle spirit sank to rest. 'My child! my child! Oh, guard it for my sake!' Were the last words she ere departing spake. 'An orphan's life from infancy was thine, O then in pity aid and succour mine!'
"This sacred trust has yielded me more joy Than all my wealth, by serving to employ My vacant thoughts, and giving Hope fresh life, Who all but perished in that mental strife.
"The portrait of Rosina you have seen, Her daughter, too (my housekeeper, I mean), You've also met,--who now must waiting be I fear, for I have long delayed the tea.
"O never then, my friend, let grim Despair Reign o'er thy soul; a balm to soothe the care Which wrecks thy peace may suddenly appear, The drooping heart and gloomy thoughts to cheer."
In chat and song the evening passed away, For oft Rosina with some Irish lay, Of touching sweetness, charmed th' enraptured ear, So soft and plaintive like the whisp'rings near Of some bright spirit sent from Eden's bowers To cheer awhile this dark, cold world of ours.
The tale to see I asked, but he Begged I would take it home with me. "At leisure you Can there read through What really I believe is true; For ruins near, As proofs appear, That once an abbey flourished here, And I the name of Mary found Carved on a stone from underground, While in the family for years The tale has been; and it appears My grandfather searched o'er the place, And ev'ry record he could trace, Who said, from all he'd seen and knew, The legend without doubt was true. A smatt'ring, too, of facts I've heard From folks who never, on my word, Have seen the tale, or could have guessed That I the manuscript possessed. The river, too, in which to-day We fished, through forests wends its way, And many (if you so desire) Can show you where our worthy friar In vain his basket tried to fill, Not from the want of fish but skill; Which place since then has haunted been; For oft on dusky nights is seen A fisherman, who strives in vain Advantage o'er a fish to gain, Until you near, when with a scream He plunges headlong in the stream. This story first in early youth I heard, and, lest it might be truth, I ne'er the place have ventured nigh Until the sun was pretty high. But I forget, you do not know The tale; but read, and I will show You where it is, that you may go ('Tis best upon a drizzling night) To see this worried angling sprite."
I rose to leave,--it was a splendid night, The rising moon shone beautifully bright, And pleased I dwelt upon my homeward walk, Which formed the subject of our passing talk; But as we parted at the garden-gate A groom appearing said, "The horses wait." My thoughtful host this pleasure had supplied, And greatly I enjoyed the moonlight ride. This may indeed (thought I) a sample be Of Ireland's pleasing hospitality.
Ere seeking rest I thought to read The tale, but found that much indeed Of time and patience it would need, Before its pages could defy The watchful critic's piercing eye, Which seeks and points out ev'ry flaw; (Like landladies, when we withdraw From sea-side towns, who items tack On bills for many a hidden crack, Which ev'ry lodger ev'ry year Has paid them for, and paid too, dear.) In fact, so much had been destroyed That really I felt quite annoyed, And feared I never could restore And make it perfect as before. But, quite resolved to do my best, I gave my quill but little rest, And sketched the outlines in a week; When, as I wished with him to speak About some parts, I roamed across And found him,--not at home, of course, Yet waited I quite patiently (Although some time he p'rhaps might be), And rambled o'er the garden wide With fair Rosina by my side.
At length he came, and truly he Seemed pleased my work and self to see. "You must have studied soon and late To get it in this forward state. Those truant flies have never yet, I fear, their rightful owner met. I thank you greatly for this speed, But tell me, will the public read A tale like this, if I should choose To print it for them to peruse?" "Well, really, I can't tell," said I; "If it were mine I think I'd try: But many parts must altered be Before it will from faults be free. The satires on the lovely sex Some gentle heart will surely vex; You ought to rather soften down What else will make some fair one frown." "Not so," said he; "'tis only those Whom the dress fits will wear the clothes, For each will on her neighbour try The pointed truths the lines supply, And all will laugh and much enjoy What does not them, but friends, annoy."
"Then, sir, I would curtail that scene In which the Friar feigns a dream; The tale he tells is much too long, And critics will pronounce it wrong,-- Too perfect it appears to me For an impromptu fib to be." "That's exactly the point, my good fellow," he said; "It was Fiction who stuffed all those lies in his head. He the fair muse invoked, so she had (I don't doubt it) Made him think of a good one while he was about it." I made other remarks, but each frailty he proved To be rather a beauty, so none were removed. And, kind reader, I'll beg you to keep this in mind, If with aught in the legend you wish fault to find, That each blemish or bull's in the manuscript line, While the prettiest bits are undoubtedly mine.
But though he and Rosina took Me out one morn to have a look At what is called the Friar's Nook, And we together rambled o'er The moulding ruins to explore, Where I the name of Mary saw (Or what a tombstone seemed to me), I yet could never plainly see Why these should proofs conclusive be That Peter had resided here; But as it seemed to him so clear, I would not breathe a contradiction, But thought, Then truth's more strange than fiction. But now the tale itself we'll read, I have delayed you long, indeed; But what is life? to most a plain In which men roam in search of gain; They build, they plant, they heap up store, They work, they toil, they strive for more, Nor joys nor comforts will desire: Their wish, they say, is to retire, But when they would their wealth enjoy They find that every sweet will cloy. Now, though your patience, reader, 's vast, In hopes to reach the tale at last, I still must hope that here and there Some parts you'll find reward your care. The truth is I, so pleas'd had been With all that I had heard and seen, I thought, perhaps, that you Might with the old man's history, With all its pleasing mystery, Be interested too.
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE FIRST._
In a shady nook, with his learned book, The friar sat with a sanctified look; By his side was rod that was shaped like a crook, Tied to which was a line and a well-baited hook Which he dipped in the stream of a rippling brook. Now this friar, no doubt, is a lover of trout, For he chuckles with joy as he 's pulling them out; For this savoury fish makes a delicate dish, As nice as the greatest of monarchs could wish. But there 's one thing he fears-- It may come to the ears Of the Abbot severe, Who would make him pay dear For thus giving way to his base appetite! When he knows very well He should be in his cell, And not thus be staying The forest away in, In the hope that a nibble may end in a bite. For this Abbot was such a strict disciplinarian That roast beef he scorned as the foulest of carrion. His food was the coarsest of bread, and boil'd rice, And half-dirty water, which could not be nice. And had he but known that the friar ate trout, Would have made a most terrible riot and rout; And would not have been quiet Till he'd alter'd his diet, And promised he'd never go angling more. Which to one of his taste, you may be pretty sure, Would have been a great bother, a plague, and a bore.
'T was a morning in May, And a beautiful day, The little cock sparrows were chirping away, When the friar, awoke by the birds or the fleas, Quickly rose, gave a yawn, and a cough and a sneeze, And threw himself into his clothes with great ease. But as he was dressing in very great haste, Much time spent in washing he thought would be waste; So a lick and a promise was just to his taste. For he meant to have rose Ere the first of the crows From under her snug wing had popped out her nose. But to finish a dream he had slumb'ring kept, And thus, long past the hour he intended, had slept. So now from his chamber with speed forth he crept, And bent his course the forest through, Whose branches, spangled o'er with dew, Being shook, soon made him sparkle too. But nought would he heed were he wet to the skin; It is not for his outside he cares, but his in; And he thinks of the feast he shall have with a grin As he reaches the spot in the thick forest where The trees had been cut down and left a place bare. And soon his rod finds, which with excellent care He had hidden, lest others the sport too might share. As I told you before, by his side was a book; But not that within it he e'er wished to look, For his mind was in truth at the point of his hook. But, to form an excuse, It might be of great use If any should happen that part by to stray; For it then would appear Unto them very clear, He to study had fled from the world far away. Now, lest some fair reader be wishing to hear How he got his fish dress'd, I will pause awhile here And explain how it was, though it cause slight delay; Still in hopes for your patience my tale may repay. At the back of the wood was a tumble-down dwelling, But when 'twas erected is now long past telling; Its roof might with straw, perchance, once have been thatched, Though now from the rafters 'twas near all detached. But heather and mud were in place substituted, Which seemed with the rest of the mansion well suited. For the windows, with rags stopped to keep out the rain, Though admitting rheumatics, yet owned not a pane; While the door from its hinges had gone to supply A trough for the lady who lived in the sty. Then as to the garden, 'twas quite a disgrace, You never beheld such a wild-looking place. The grass than the flowers had grown somewhat higher, Entangled with bushes of bramble and brier. The trees and the bushes were so much neglected That fruit was ne'er looked for, as 'twas not expected. The hedges, so fine once, had lost all their beauty, And look'd like policemen forgetting their duty; Who would not take even the trouble to keep Away from the garden the cows and the sheep, Which over or under would manage to creep, T' enjoy 'mid the flowers a sweet fragrant sleep.
Now the Queen of this mansion was Widow O'Neal, A lady of Irish extraction; Who often procured our good friar a meal, Which gave him supreme satisfaction. For though she a rum 'un might seem to the look, She was without doubt a most excellent cook; And could give fish and game such a delicate taste, That your platter you'd empty in double-quick haste, Nor a scrap, nor a morsel would e'er chance to waste. Now of children this widow had four, As handsome a set as you anywhere saw, Although you the country have travelled right o'er. The eldest, her pet, was a beautiful boy, The pride of his mother, her treasure, her joy; Whose light hair crept over his head like a mat, And boasted the 'nomen of "Clever Young Pat." For he could milk cows, and was once known to try To milk the old sow, but, alas! found her dry, So left her in future at rest in her sty. For birds' nests Pat climbed up the tallest of trees-- The greater the danger the more it would please. A stranger to fear as to sorrow was he, For nothing delighted his heart like a spree; And often, and dearly, his neighbours had rued The spirits of fun which young Patrick pursued. Then in racing he'd beat all competitors hollow, And would leave them behind at a distance to follow. For he had a knack, Without e'er a whack,-- As he stuck tight as wax to the animal's back-- To make it proceed With such rapid speed That you'd doubt if 'twas really a jackass indeed.
The next two were daughters, and might be called fair, For brightly would glitter their dark glossy hair, As bandless and free, by no fetters confined (Except when a wild flower its sweetness entwined), 'Twas wafted about by the impudent wind. Then their eyes, black as sloes, with a sweet sunny smile, Would surely your thoughts for a moment beguile, And cause you, though hurried, to tarry awhile To ask the best way to the neighbouring town, Or frame some excuse from your horse to get down Just to look at the view from a picturesque stile Of these two lovely daughters of Erin's green isle.
The widow's fourth child was a delicate boy, Whose life seemed to hang by a thread; His ailings and wants both his sisters employ, Whose love even health seemed to shed. For as his weak limbs were unable to walk, They'd carry him up to the top of the hill; And so would amuse with their innocent talk, That he'd almost forget what it was to be ill. And when the sun rose with his hot scorching rays, They'd seek a cool spot in the forest shade, where They would sing him to sleep with their sweet native lays, And watch o'er his slumbers with sisterly care. Then one would roam forth for his favourite flower, And twine a fair wreath for his delicate brow; Or weave round him sleeping a fairy-like bower, By drooping and tangling the hazel's green bough.
But now to return to our friar, who still Is trying his utmost to catch and to kill A few members more of the slippery tribe, With fine red worms dangling by way of a bribe.
The sun long had risen, whose powerful ray Has scattered the dew-drops in vapour away; And though our good friar had chose a snug spot, O'ershadow'd by trees, yet they sheltered him not In the midst of the day; For the sun then that way Came over the water and stared in his face. But, a fisherman true, Though he's roasted quite through, To give o'er the sport he would think a disgrace; So he sits down again, Although fearing 'tis vain, And for the dead worm puts a fresh in its place. Then he looks at his fish, which are covered with grass, (Lest any one rambling should happen to pass), But he finds there's but two, and those small ones, alas! So he said, "But one half-hour I'll stay here, and then If I don't catch another I'll go to my den. For I might just as well be performing my duty, As being here roasted and spoiling my beauty. But let's see, by the bye, They might rise at a fly-- There's lots on the wing, so I'll catch one and try." But this bait they refuse, For they none of them choose By his kind endeavours existence to lose. For when he threw fly they would all run away, Or round it would gambol and sportively play, But never allowed it to lead them astray.
"Oh, the half-hour has past And this throw is my last!" The old friar exclaimed, when his hook was caught fast By the bough of a tree, And he could not get free, Though he tugg'd and used words you shall not hear from me. But finding his hand must the line disengage, He turned, much excited (but not in a rage), When a ghastly hue over his countenance spread, Before which the colour so instantly fled That it whitened his nose, which was mostly bright red, And made him look just like a calf over-bled, Or a hot piece of pork from a pig too well-fed; For, suddenly shook by a terrible fright, Like a gander when seized by a fox late at night, He discovered his wits had deserted him quite. For the Abbot he spied, Who with slow solemn stride Was approaching, and soon would be close at his side. How he trembled all o'er, and would gladly have died, As he thought of escape, but could see no way how; While the cold perspiration spread over his brow. Oh, how he then wished that the earth would quake too, And split a small crack which would just let him through To shield him from evil he feared would betide, From which he's unable to run or to hide. But as to his wishes the earth's disinclined. He shook himself well, and then struggled to find What he'd lost in the panic--his presence of mind. His line then he snaps from its perch with a crack And throws his rod into the stream with a smack, Although with the fear of not getting it back His heart's pit-a-pat, and is quite on the rack. But he stopped not to think--'twas the work of a minute, He snatches his book up to see what is in it. When, as if spiteful Fate had resolved his disgrace, He finds out 'tis another popped into its place By young Patrick O'Neal, who had thought it fine fun; When the friar, not noticing what he had done, Placed the book in his bosom and bore it away, After dining, self-asked, at the cottage one day. But it now is too late, If unlucky his fate, There is no time the book now to hide; For the Abbot's so near, There would surely appear Something wrong if to hide it he tried. So he shut it up gently and seemed wrapt in mystery, Though all his thoughts dwelt on the marvellous history Of George and the Dragon, who, Saint though he be, He heartily wished in the depths of the sea. Then spake he aloud as the Abbot drew near (In tones like the crow, as melodious and clear), As it much was his wish that it plain might appear That of his good presence he had no idea, Though he did very well know He was close at his elbow. So he moralized thus: "Oh, that men were like us, From pleasure abstaining, From treasure refraining Their hands and their hearts! but, alas! it is vain in This earth for perfection to seek. For all men are for gaining; Gold by some means obtaining; Their covetous wishes not once e'er restraining. Frail mortals, alas, are so weak!"---- Much more he had said, but a touch on the shoulder Made the blood through each vein run more sluggish and colder. But starting and turning with well-feigned surprise, Saw reflected his face in the Abbot's dark eyes. Then a bow, long and low, to his rev'rence he made-- A rev'rence his rev'rence would always have paid; For deep in his bosom he cherished the hope, That, some day or other, they would make him the Pope. Now the Abbot was tall, and so terribly thin, That victuals scarce ever, you'd think, were asked in To fill up the gap 'twixt the bones and the skin. The little of hair he had left on his crown Was a dingy short circle of snuff-colour'd brown, Which straight as the ribs of umbrella hung down. His teeth good as new were, for, little in use, They could not well plead that old-fashioned excuse Of aching, because they're decayed or grown loose. But his eye was his pride--'twas a regular piercer, Than even a Cyclops it made him look fiercer; For it stared every way At the same time of day, Nor yet from yourself for a moment would stray. Now of his left optic I've heard, and don't doubt it, He really had seen, and looked better without it; For, besides being not half so big as the other, It would squint, blink, and wink at its handsome twin brother.
But the mind, after all, is the part of the man Which beauty should live in--deny it who can. While the face serves alone for an index to tell The force of the passions which inwardly dwell. When all's fair within, it will turn to a smile; When vexed, it will change to a frown. If angry, most like 'twill be stormy awhile; When sad, fast the rain will come down. But to rambling a truce, I the reins have let loose, But my spirited muse I to back must induce. For all I would say is, an ugly exterior Is often the fate of a mind that's superior. Now the Abbot was one whose mind was his forte; he Could never remember a thing he'd done naughty. His life would, he said, bear the strictest inspection-- It never could yield an unpleasant reflection, Because he had brought it so near to perfection. In languages dead he was learned and skilful; His head with quotations, in fact, seemed so filled full That when condescending he happened to speak, You would nearly be smothered with Latin and Greek. But as my fair readers may chance to know neither, I will not here tax their sweet patience with either. Not because when I was a young one at school I neglected declension, and grammar, and rule; But just for this reason, I would not perplex A specimen fair of the feminine sex, Who, not fond of skipping, might feel rather vexed If forced to leap over some old defunct text.
[Illustration: "What dost thou here, Peter?"]
"What dost thou here, Peter?" the Abbot exclaimed; "Explain, let me see if there's aught to be blamed: For as What's-his-name says, in his Justice with Jury, You ne'er at the culprit should fly in a fury, But hear of the question--both sides ere convicting-- Although you're quite certain which way you'll verdict him." Then the friar his courage plucked up in a minute, A mess was before him and he was near in it. A stroke swift and bold was the only plan waiting By which he might hope for a safe extricating. But while thus he was thinking the sage Abbot spoke, He was three-fourths in earnest but one-fourth in joke-- "What, speechless! then guilty you are I'm quite sure; For not proving innocent's guilty by law. As the same author says, who lately I quoted, Whose works for their truth and great clearness are noted."
"O, help me, dear Fiction!" soliloquised Peter, (A-muse-meant t'invoke when Miss Truth we would cheat her), "For without a few fibs I must really confess, I shall never get out of this terrible mess. Then aid me, fair maiden, to frame some fine story To puzzle this old chap who now stands before me."
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE SECOND._
The muse was propitious; how could she decline A man so determined through her smiles to shine? So, gulping his fear down, and banishing fuss, Began his defence with a steady voice, thus,-- "No, I'm not, as your highness might justly suppose, In error entrapped, as my tale shall disclose; For my life is as pure as this clear crystal stream, And reflects yon bright light as it does the sun's beam. Last night, after hours of watching and fasting, To slumber unconscious my wearied eyes passed in; When a vision I saw Coming in at the door, Which beckoned me thrice with her hand. So I quickly arose And slipt into my clothes, To fulfil this said spectre's command. Then she marched on before Through a small secret door, And hurried away at such double-quick pace, That I forced was to run, Till I almost begun To think I was in for a long wild-goose chase. But at length she stood still On the top of the hill Where old farmer Jonas has set up his mill; And pointing below, Said, 'There you must go, To hear and see things which concern you to know.' Then turning my head I beheld a faint, dim light, Which told me that some one was robbing old grim Night, And making my mind up to see what was doing, I asked the young lady if she would go too in. But she spoke not a word, So I thought she'd not heard, And called out again in a much louder key; When I found she had flown, And had left me alone, To go by myself this said mystery to see. So I quickly descended, And towards the light wended My steps, though it seemed to be far, far away. Though I walked for an hour Fast as legs have the power, Yet far in the distance appeared the faint ray. Then I weary became, For I thought that the flame Must be but a will-o'-the-wisp after all. When like magic appear'd, On an eminence rear'd, A hut, whence the light seemed in streams forth to play. But as I was gazing the light was extinguished, And nothing but darkness could well be distinguished. Still I groped on, determined the goal now to win. But the hut, though soon found, I had yet to walk round, Ere the door I perceived, when I tapped to begin; But a growl and a groan Were the answers alone That I got, so I lifted the latch and walked in. When, oh! what a sight to my eyes was portrayed! It made my flesh crawl--I was almost afraid, And nearly had run out again. But, quick plucking up courage, I stirred up the fire, Which, though nearly extinguished, soon shot up much higher And showed ev'ry thing plain. On a pallet, which seemed almost touching the fire, Made of rushes and heather embedded with mire, In a hollow scooped out of the floor, The skeleton form of a female was lying, Who, terribly groaning, appeared to be dying; I twice thought the struggle was o'er. When she lifted her arm that was shrivelled and bare, And raised up her head with a wild piercing stare, To demand who I was? what I wanted? and why I'd intruded where lonely she'd lived, and would die? Then begging her pardon, I told her I bore The order of monkhood, and grieved that I saw One who soon must be leaving this earth far behind So uneasy, and sorely perplexed in her mind. But confession, I said, is the readiest way To purchase relief; O then, wherefore delay, When I'm ready to hear all you're willing to say? Then flushes, like fire, o'er her visage of stone Flew swift, as she threw herself down with a groan; And seemed quite determined that nothing she'd own. For a minute or two there was silent suspense, When, as past hope of pardon I deemed my offence, I decided 'twas best I should hasten far hence. So gently on tiptoe I walked to the door. But suddenly turning, my movement she saw, And fixing upon me her keen piercing eye She bid me remain, as she meant to comply With what I'd requested, and make her confession, In hopes that her anguish of mind it might lessen. 'You must know then,' she said, 'That I formerly led The life of a gipsy, till seized with the gout; When as I no more with my race could roam out, Each one of my tribe Agreed to subscribe To build me a cottage, or shed of some kind, Where shelter and rest in my pain I might find. 'Twas a beautiful glen Where these generous men Erected my dwelling in less than a week, For they had not far for materials to seek, For a forest hard by Did the timber supply, Which they axed to support roof and ceiling. But though, after all, 'twas a rough-looking shed, I thought as I lay on my soft heather bed That a monarch might envy my feelings. But, alas! the next day, The young Baron that way Chanced to pass as out hunting he rode, Who stopp'd to inquire, In tones full of ire, Who had dared to erect that abode In his favorite glen, Which he occupied when He gave a grand fête out in open air? Then very soon after some servants appear'd, Who quickly began, as I sadly had fear'd, To put my poor cottage quite out of repair. How I moaned! how I groaned! Their compassion to raise. Though all proved, alas! of no use. They cared not. They dared not, Against what their lord says, To act if they that way should choose. So they dragged off the thatch, And tore down each rafter; While I underneath catch The dust, and their laughter; And would not remove till all was destroyed, As if 'twas my anguish the ruffians enjoyed. 'Again in a hurry you'll not build,' said they, As lifting they bore me with speed far away, Though roaring and screaming with pain. They saw I was fainting yet checked not their pace; And left me at last in a lone barren place, Where shelter I looked for in vain. For the sun seemed to scorch with his terrible might, And I feared that the damp chills descending at night Would double my aches and my pain. But soon o'er the sky such a black cloud spread That quickly the rays of the bright sun fled; As it darker and darker grew. Then the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared, The hail and the rain down in torrents poured, And the wind tempestuous blew. I was soon soaked through, while each drop of rain And the dart-like hail caused a shoot of pain, Till I raved with torture wild; And swore, in the darkness of fell despair, As I tore in my fury my whit'ning hair-- Though weak as a puny child. (For I wished to move, but in vain I tried,) I had slain myself, and had willingly died, Though sworn to be revenged. For I swore that nothing should cool my rage, No kindness hereafter my hate assuage, Till I'd myself avenged.' The gipsy here stopped short and breathed, And much that rest she needed; But soon as she had strength received Thus on the tale proceeded:--
'My tribe,' said she, 'the next day found The cottage levelled with the ground, And searching, found me lying Some distance from the ruined heap, From numbing pain sunk deep in sleep, Worn out with rage and crying. They raised this hut above my head, Spread under me this heather bed. And tended me with care. When, strange to say, I soon revived, Pains sharper e'en than death survived, And had of health my share. But still I lived here, lest a fresh attack Might trip up my heels if I turned my back, And stretch me again on the painful rack. And I nursed revenge, till with rage imprest. I dreamed of revenge when I sank to rest. My thoughts were revenge from the dawn of day, Till the darkness scattered the light away. Oh, I pined for revenge as a maiden pines For her lover returning from distant climes; Who expects every day till remorseless eve Makes her hope for next morn--for the present, grieve. All hope worse than hopeless appeared to be When fate, fiends, or fortune befriended me. 'Twas a gala day, and the loathsome glen Resounded with laughter from joyful men. I could see the grand tents where the flags waved high, And I gathered the news from a passer-by. 'Twas the christ'ning-day of the son and heir Of the Baron's estates and castles fair; And guests without end were invited there, To a sumptuous feast in the open air. But, oh! 'twas a dreadful day for me; 'Must ever my rage then fruitless be?' I said, and felt I could have willing died, Had the means of revenge then been supplied. But again the sun sank swift away, And twilight attended expiring day. All nature appears preparing for sleep, While wakeful alone mine eyelids keep. But, hark, what's that?--the tramp of horse! Who hitherward can bend his course? There's no highroad this way. 'Tis some one who, by yonder light, Where revels turn to day the night, Has here been led astray. But, lo! he knocks, and straight walks in, A gloomy figure tall and thin, A bundle on his arm! Who quickly gazed around to see If any one abode with me. His eye bespoke alarm. 'Your pleasure, Sir?' I rising said. 'I live alone in this poor shed; If you the bridle-path would seek, 'Tis hidden by yon dark hill's peak. If 'tis the Baron's stately hall, Yon lights will guide, where rout and ball--' 'Stop, dame, 'tis none of these, but you I seek, and what I'd have you do I quick must tell, for time away Flies fast, and long I dare not stay. This babe,' he said, 'so young and fair, I leave a nursling to your care For five short hours; when three times told Their number--I will pay you gold-- The child myself I'll fetch, till then Preserve it from all earthly ken.'
He left; the babe was softly sleeping, Its little eyes were red with weeping, As if from recent pain. I kissed its little tiny hand, And tried its tale to understand, When o'er each limb a trembling spread, A giddiness attacked my head, My brain was growing wild. Oh, could it be the Baron's heir, That had been left my couch to share? Yes, it must be his child! In haste the snowy robes I tore; A coronet each garment bore-- The infant woke and smiled. I groaned, and turned my head away, When crowing it began to play; Nor showed the least alarm. I neared, it raised its head at this, As if it sought a mother's kiss-- I could not do it harm. I gave it food; and soon to rest, Like some young bird in leafy nest, It slumb'ring fell, without a fear For morrow's care, or danger near. I sat me down the bed beside, And tried to sleep, but vainly tried. The terrors of the dreadful past Were crowding through my mem'ry fast. The months and months of fruitless hate Which mocked my eager rage of late; The hope of morn, despair of eve, The night, when blasted hopes I'd grieve, All stood before me; and with smother'd cries Bid me revenge while Fate the chance supplies; Then stole away, when that most dreadful night With shiv'ring anguish passed before my sight. Once more, methought, I lay upon the plain; Once more was rack'd with that tormenting pain; Again I felt that flood of piercing hail, And screamed for succour, but without avail. Then suddenly another phantom near'd, And lo! the dreadful oath I'd sworn appear'd. 'Revenge, revenge!' its pale lips seemed to say, As pointing where the slumb'ring infant lay; 'Seize thy sole chance, nor lose it by delay.' I started, rose, and paced the hut across; When from a distance came the tramp of horse, While louder still the spectre madly cries, 'Revenge, revenge, ere chance for ever flies!' 'Twas dark, I groped until the babe I found, Then scrunched its neck, until without a sound It died--then flung it lifeless to the ground. A knock, a call, the door wide open flew, With hurried step the stranger hastens through. "The child! be quick, I'm 'fore the hour I told, But there you'll find the promised sum of gold.' His purse he flung into my lap, but still I did not stir his orders to fulfil. He cast his eyes around, then gazed on me, The object sought for he could nowhere see. 'Woman!' he cried, 'hast thou thy trust betrayed? Thy treach'ry base shall swiftly be repaid.' He seized my hand, nigh crushed it in his own, Yet still I uttered not the slightest groan, But flung his gaze back with a fearless eye, And said, 'Revenged, I care not if I die! The babe no more will cross thy path below, Nephew of Baron Reginald, I know Thy pale face now, and guess the reason why Thou fear'st to lose thy stolen property.' Just then 'twixt clouds a straggling beam revealed The corner where the infant lay concealed. He raised it up, then raved with anger wild, To see 'twas dead, whilst I with pleasure smiled, And said that I, yes I, had slain the child. 'O wretch!' he cried, 'the gallows is too good (But yet I dare not harm her if I would. My heart grows faint, is overpowered with dread, The falling blow would also cleave my head: I ne'er intended it should go thus far, Yet still the guilt and recompense mine are). Speak, wretched woman! say, what tempted thee? Thou ne'er couldst think this crime would pleasure me. Thy witch-like spells, by which ye think to know My secret plans, are false--yea, doubly so.' 'Doubt as you like, but hear what I would tell, Then say if I have learnt my story well. Yon babe you stole to rob him of his lands, And as afraid with blood to stain your hands, You meant to bear him to some distant shore, Where parents' smiles would bless the child no more. But not for thee I crushed the viper's brood, Far other thoughts and impulse I pursued. It was revenge, deep rankling in my breast, That sent the infant to its last long rest. With hate I'd sworn, if chance should e'er incline, To cause him pangs unbearable as mine, On that dark night when, deluged with the rain, I called on death to terminate my pain, My hut from o'er my head was torn, and I Was left in dreadful agony to die By his commands: then am I much to blame, When greatest heroes boast of such-like shame?'
"No, woman, I can blame thine act no more; Thy tale, methinks, I've somewhere heard before. The guilt's more mine--thy life I'll therefore save, And bear this infant to some distant grave, Where dark oblivion shall his tombstone be, In secret 'graved, unknown to all but me.'
''Not whilst I live'!--I seized the babe, and cried. ''The corse is mine--the fun'ral I'll provide-- Beneath my bed its resting-place shall be: 'Twill bring me sleep when slumber fain would flee. Thou ne'er hast felt that heart-consuming power, That rage increasing each successive hour, That desp'rate longing to annihilate The wretch who dares augment our cruel fate; But think not I to foes would thee betray: No, hidden there the infant safe shall lay Till coming years shall rot each bone away.''
"Swear this to me,' he said, 'and I depart; But let no temptings of thy magic art Lead thee astray, for death must be thy lot If e'er the oath of silence be forgot.
But as I'd keep thee now from further sin, Whene'er I pass this way I'll just look in; Or send you gold, which ne'er fails to impart The balm of comfort to a broken heart.'
"I willing swear, but not through threats,' said I, "For life's a burden; but I'll tell you why: Uncertain fears shall wear away his heart, And even wealth shall fail to soothe his smart.'
"He left--the babe beneath my couch was laid, Beside the gold which seemed for murder paid, With larger sums at diff'rent seasons brought, For though half starved I yet would handle naught.
"But in the morn you it shall all exhume If you will swear my body to entomb Within this spot, and faithfully incline To grant my dying wishes--then 'tis thine. I would the haughty Baron soon should know What hand it is has laid his glory low, That she it is whose hut he once destroyed Who now of heirs has made his house thus void.''
"She more had said, but sense appeared to stray, Yea, even life was ebbing fast away. 'Begone! begone!' was all she'd strength to say. I left, persuaded morn would see her clay. This morning early rising there I went, --To seek the money, p'rhaps, my chief intent-- When neither the hut could anywhere be found, Nor yet the old lady, or trace on the ground; So that really I thought, ere from slumber I woke, She had vanished away like a cigar, in smoke.
"This then is, your rev'rence, the whole of my tale-- That I'm disappointed I greatly bewail, For I meant to enrich with this wealth given me (As a proof of my zeal) this great monastery."
"And this," said the Abbot, "you plead in defence? I'm almost persuaded 'tis but a pretence; Yet, in justice, I cannot my credence refuse Until I discover my trust you abuse. But if ever in falsehood you once are found out, My anger would heavily fall there's no doubt. Then it was, after all, but a slumb'ring delusion,-- Just a slight indigestion, which caused this illusion? Still tell me, how is it I find you out here?" "To meditate, sir, on these doings so queer, I meant to devote a few moments to thought, To see if by chance I could recollect aught Of the hut's situation, as likely I might P'rhaps have lost the right track through the darkness of night, For the scenes of each action so plain to me seem, I can never believe 'twas a shadowy dream." "May I ask," said the Abbot, "what book you're perusing? I am sure 'tis instructive, I hope 'tis amusing." "Well really, your rev'rence, I can't say it aint, For 'tis an account of a very great saint, Who all kinds of evil with boldness defied, And ever was victor when battle he tried."
Oh how heartily now the poor friar did wish He would go, for his foot was nigh crushing his fish; But suppose he had seen them, I have little doubt He'd have said that, unaided, the stream they crept out, For he ne'er could be trapped for the want of excuse; Yet was still his companion most anxious to lose, For the turn of a rush would have cost him his dinner. But kind Fate had determined he should not get thinner, For the Abbot departed without a word more, And so neither the fish nor the little hook saw, Which was dangling about--quite in sight you'll suppose, As he nearly was caught once or twice by the nose.
"Ah, ah, ah!" said the friar, "now isn't it good? But I'd better not crow till he's out of the wood. I'm certain he's left me to look for the money, The greedy old fellow: now isn't it funny, To know that I have done him who thinks he's so 'cute He ne'er can be baffled in any dispute? O bravo, dear Fiction! you clever old girl, Your banner with pleasure I'll ever unfurl, And rejoice as a slave at your feet low to lie, Till old Fate shall determine that Peter must die. But just wait, let me see Where my rod and line be. Oh, there down midst the rushes they lie snug concealed. But those ill-fated fish Won't get cooked as I wish, For I'm sure by this time that the taties are peeled. But I know what I'll do: While they're boiling--there's two, But remarkably small--more's the pity! I will just take a nap In old Somnus's lap, And will dream of that angel, Miss Kitty."
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE THIRD._
We must now leave the monk for a moment or two, And quick after the steps of the Abbot pursue, Who can very fast walk when he thinks he's not seen, And is scamp'ring now o'er the meadows (so green), For he really believed that the friar said true, That he'd lost the right path which would lead the hut to, But he felt quite determined to find it. And although the sun's rays were so scorchingly hot That he red in the face as a furnace had got, Yet he seemed not a moment to mind it; But clambered each hill's side and ran down each hollow, Oft looking to see if the friar would follow, Not thinking howe'er he'd be found thus. But when we do actions of which we're ashamed, And conscience informs us we ought to be blamed, We're sure to look anxious around us. "But had not old Peter abandoned the chase," The Abbot exclaimed, "ere I popp'd in his place, As executor to the old lady? Then, besides, but a moment or two back he told That he meant to devote to our use all the gold. Oh, how conscience soon quieted may be!"
Now the Abbot remembered that somewhere he'd seen An old tumble-down hut when out rambling he'd been, Which he thought might be it,--and 'twas, by the bye, The same Peter had all the while in his eye; For he had not erected, as Truth must declare, The castle on clouds up aloft in the air. But the gold and old lady were really a joke, And had both been dug out of and buried in smoke. Then he happened to know, About eight years ago, A child had been lost by the Baron--and oh! He never should think Old Peter could link Such strange facts together as well deserved ink. So his story was true, For he very well knew The friar possessed not a grain of romance. 'Tis not book study that Has made him grow so fat, 'Tis earth's lower pleasures, he fears, does entrance.
Now a distant rise Presents to the eyes Of the Abbot the hut, and with joy on he flies; It is rugged indeed, But he takes little heed, Though the walls are of mud, and each flower is a weed.
Not a sound then was heard, Not a chirp from a bird, Nor yet from a little grasshopper; Should he knock at the shed, Or straight walk in instead? He wish'd to know which was most proper. For there spread o'er his heart such a feeling of awe, He felt nervous whenever he ugly sights saw; And now p'rhaps the bed must be moved from the hovel, Before at the gold he can get--then the shovel: O dear, he's forgot it--oh, what shall he do If there's none within when he penetrates through? Then without much dispatch He uplifted the latch, When he felt 'gainst his legs such a terrible poke, That he staggered with fear, And had swooned away near, Ere he saw 'twas a pig who inflicted the stroke; While a rough Irish laugh on his reverie broke, Whose possessor appeared to enjoy much the joke, And cried, "Och, the pig has got out of the door! Why couldn't you make a slight shindy before You poked in your carcase?--We'd held then his tail--it Must now be 'gen cotched, or some feller will stale it." But a terrible frown From the Abbot proceeded, And he rustled his gown, Which at once Loony heeded; For the priests then were held by the whole of the nation In the highest respect, and in great veneration. "Your pardon, your rev'rence, I knew not 'twas you," He humbly exclaimed, whilst his head he was scratching. "Pray do me the honour to step just into This bit of a dwelling--it p'rhaps may want thatching; Still the holes in the roof make the fire burn better, Though rain, than is pleasant oft makes us much wetter." "No, what I would say I will speak here outside,-- 'Tis of the old lady who yesternight died." "She dead! Oh no, no! Though I oft wished she were, Still yonder she sits in the corner down there, On the edge of a tub, for want of a chair." "Quite true," said the Abbot, "for Socrates tells us, Old ladies in breath are as lasting as bellows; But is she not troubled with gout or rheumatic? Or is she, from rain oft descending, aquatic? "Rheumatics! yes, sure, there's much truth in that question. But what is far worse is her pow'rful digestion; For would ye believe it--within bounds I speak-- A sack of best praties would last but a week, If she was supplied whene'er victuals she'd seek. But she gave us last night such a terrible fright, When we chanced late to come from the wake of old Wright. For her pains were so bad That she raved just like mad, And called for a priest, though no priest could be had. Still up in the morn she rose better than ever. Pain never will kill her, I'm certain,--no, never! She's my mother-in-law, sir, and not my own mother, Or as welcome she'd be in this world as another." ("Oh, oh!" thought the Abbot, "the way's growing clearer! I feared I had strayed--but I find the game nearer.") "She would see then a priest? with her wish I'll comply; But alone it must be, for should you remain by, Any facts I would prove she would surely deny, Though of Mary's great abbey the Primate am I." "Well, if ever!" said Looney, with a wild kind of stare, As he bolted inside, crying, "Meg! quick--a chair! There's the Abbot of Mary's a-standing out there!" Now that Meg was not well might be very well seen, She'd been waking too late where she'd yesternight been, For her eyes were as red as a lobster fresh boiled, And her nose looked like beetroot in cooking when spoiled; So she ran in a corner, where safe she might hide From the flood of reproofs which she feared might betide. Then enter'd the Abbot, his eyes cast around, And snug in a corner the old lady found, While away on an errand had Looney been sent, To prevent his eaves-dropping--if such his intent. ("That shows skill," thought Ted, "but I yet shall defeat it, For Meg will hear all, and is sure to repeat it.") "She sleeps," said the priest, "and I don't like to wake her, But fear she won't rouse if I try not to make her; So as time flies fast I will make bold to shake her." "Fire! thieves!" cried the dame. "O, Meg, what are you arter? You wicked, ungrateful, neglectful, young darter! I was dreaming of dinner--oh, such a fine treat! Not of biled praties only, but roast and biled meat." "Hush, hush!" said the Abbot, "I've heard your sad story, And much I was grieved at, but felt sorry for ye." "Ay, ay," she exclaimed, "did yer spake of the child? It's nigh broke my heart, and will soon drive me wild. Though I don't wish to die, yet the dochters can't save, When there's grief and rheumatics a-digging my grave." "But the gold," said the Abbot, "I hope it's secure?" "Did yer spake? Just spake out, for I'm deaf, certain sure." "Down there?" said he louder, and pointed close by, "Yes, there, there," she answered, "the creature will lie, Dead drunk as a baste, while I'm forced to attend To the cooking and washing, or else a hand lend For to keep the house tidy, or else the clothes mend: Yet I get but half-fed, Whilst she's snoring in bed. I often have thought I had better be dead." "Just so," said the priest; "sure the woman's quite mad. Or else forgot all--oh, a spade that I had! I'd soon have a look if the gold were there still, And then set to work just to make out her will." While speaking, he spied 'neath the bed a small leg Without shoe or stocking, which proved to be Meg. "Oh, she's heard every word, then!" the Abbot exclaimed; "For the want of more caution I'm much to be blamed; They will search every spot, and the wealth I shall lose it. But the old dame can help it, and she may not choose it." "Och then it is you, sir? I thought it was Ted," Cried Meg, as she crept from her nook near the bed; "For he's in such a pet of a passion to-day, That I'm forced for peace sake to keep out of his way." Then too entered Looney, who, panting for breath, Had made up his mind to be in at the death. "Tom Smithers, yer rev'rence, I met close by here, With pleasure he'd see yer whenever ye're near. His old father's but bad still--you've heard, I suppose, He was thrown from his horse and was pitched on his nose?" "Yes, I have of it heard, and will see him ere long; He'd been drinking too much, which was dreadfully wrong. This cottage is small," he continued; "I fear That comfort and ease you can ne'er enjoy here. Besides, you're so far off that you don't get your share Of the gifts I bestow on those under my care. Now I have a neat cottage, and 'tis my intent, Ted, to let it to you at a moderate rent. And as to the Abbey, you'll then be so nigh, Its garden will work for your spare hours supply." "Hurrah! thanks! your rev'rence!" cried Ted with delight; "I am grateful, contented, and happy now quite. Sure I'll back with you now, sir, and see what it's like, Then with pleasure the bargain I'll readily strike." "Then with me at once, and your wife, if she'd see The dwelling I speak of, can come too with me. Though 'tis out of repair, yet to you 'twill appear Like a palace, compared with this old hut out here. Then Jenkins will lend you his cart to remove Your goods; and, I think, a good neighbour will prove." "Sure I'm ready," said Meg, As she took from a peg Her bonnet, which once might have been an old hat. "And," cried Ted, "so am I, Though I feel rather dry, And maybe his rev'rence admires a good vat." But a dark frown descending, Made him tremble with awe; He was sadly offending The proud Abbot, he saw. Then they went out together, And, it being hot weather, Their pace was exceedingly slow; While the Abbot endeavours From converse to gather If they of the treasure aught know. Now what after befell It is needless to tell, Save the cottage was liked and they went there to dwell. While their hut and its ground Was dug up all around, Though there never a bone or a guinea was found.
[Illustration: Och then it is you, sir?]
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE FOURTH._
Now back to the friar I fain must desire My reader's attention to turn; Who is round the place looking, While his fish are a-cooking, A snug spot for a nap to discern. A box full of worms he has laid by his side-- A present young Pat never fails to provide, And gives him whenever he sees him. Though often for fun he would place there instead A snail or a frog, or defunct chicken's head; It gave him such pleasure to tease him. For old Peter was one who could not stand a joke, And at one time young Pat got his head nearly broke Through a comical trick which he played him. For as slumb'ring one day by the water he sat, Pat had fixed to his hook the stale corpse of a cat, And then snug in the river's depth laid him. Which the friar, when waking, had deemed a rich prize, And his little mouth watered, and twinkled both eyes, As in scales, in his mind's eye, he weighed him. "I shall lose it, I fear; I've no landing-net here: I am sure it's a carp or a bream. Should he run I am done, While to help me there's none; O that even young Pat could be seen!" At that moment appeared, And up suddenly reared The head of Miss Puss, in a very droll way. While a loud laugh up high, In an oak-tree close by, Told Peter who he for the trick had to pay. "Oh, you imp of all mischief!" he cried, "come down here; For this trick that you've served me I'll make you pay dear." "No, thank you," said Pat, with a kind friendly nod; "I'd rather--much rather--not taste of your rod." Now who could stand this? Oh, not he! Round he lashed His rod; and young Pat, who disliked to be thrashed, Tried to climb up still higher, but losing his hold, Swiftly down to the ground like an o'er-ripe pear roll'd. "His neck's broke!" said Peter; "the mad, careless calf!" But Pat rose unhurt, and ran off with a laugh.
Now deep in the forest the friar had sought A snug shady spot, where no mortal he thought Would ere chance to disturb his repose; For with talking and fright He is tired out quite, And would fain on the world his eyes close. Above his head A tall oak spread Its leafy shade; And 'midst the trees The sportive breeze With young boughs played. From ev'ry bird A song was heard As forth they strayed Some grub to seize, While busy bees A buzzing made. Reclining on a grassy mound, His head a velvet cushion found, And bushes weave a curtain round; Here ponders he the morning's scene, Till things that are with things that seem Together blend and form a dream. Again he feels red-hot with fright, Once more his tale he must recite, Must conjure up a thousand lies To blind Suspicion's wakeful eyes-- Must rise with hope and sink with fear, And all the while must feel most queer.
His tale when told--instead of going, The Abbot looks most wondrous knowing; And says "'Tis a falsehood,--a fable, Which he to deny is not able," As with throbbings of conscience he shook; For he could not then think of the frailest excuse, Though he rummaged his brains--it was all of no use, For his cunning and skill him forsook. "You are guilty, you sinner!" the stern Abbot cried; "Your confusion betrays you! Now don't try to hide Your wickedness more, for I shall not believe A word that you say, as you've tried to deceive." Then the poor friar thought That for pardon he sought, But the Abbot appeared not to hear, When he swooned right away, And insensible lay, Overcome with remorse or with fear. As he came to himself, thinks he, "I'm in bed;" But very soon after thinks he, "No, I'm dead: Oh, I feel so uncommonly queer! I can move neither leg nor an arm, And my tongue's unaccountably calm,-- There is something wrong, certainly, here. Where's the Abbot?--He's gone--'tis most like for assistance. They will bury me, p'rhaps, and I can't make resistance: Oh, my doom is now sealed I see clear!"
As thus he thought, for lips refused to speak, A queer sensation trickled o'er his cheek. In vain each nerve he strains to turn his eyes, For they're immovable; but soon he spies A large red worm, and in its trail there creep A dozen more, who prowl about and peep Into his mouth and nose, and tickle so That what to do he's puzzled much to know. "The bait has 'scaped from out my box," thought he; "And, while entranced, from spite would bother me." What would he not have given for a scratch! A good hard rub would even nectar match. The richest feast he felt he could forego For the relief of one good sweeping blow. "O that some large, emancipated bear, Would for his lunch my corpse in pieces tear! Than this dread tickling, I'm persuaded quite, I'd much enjoy his hug and hearty bite." "Hookey!" exclaimed the worm: "a bite no more You'll get from us,--'tis useless to implore. You're 'off the hooks,' as vulgar writers scribble, But we'll supply you with a little nibble." With this some dozen irritating teeth Dashed through his skin, but gave him no relief. His face is stiffened o'er with mud and slime, While burning rays are scorching all the time His dew-less eyes--and, parched with heat and thirst, His swollen tongue appears as if 'twould burst. Then a red worm arose, Perched a-top of his nose, And clearing his throat made the following speech:-- "My dearest friend Peter, As your guests we greet yer, And mean to stick to you as tight as a leech; For the bright sun will fry us All the meat you supply us. Oh, you're now in such excellent season, That for months we'll contrive, If the crows don't arrive, To repast, though our numbers increase on. Now don't look so sulky,--recollect how you used us-- (For your airs and ill-temper will only amuse us). Pray just think how you took, And for fun, on a hook Soused us head over heels in the depths of the river, For the fishes to bite Till we're washed away quite. But the thought is enough to make any worm shiver. But your sport Is all caught, And 'tis our turn to tease. We can't hook You--but, look You, you won't get much ease, For your ears we shall enter, and down your throat dive: Whilst, to make the most of you, as rivals we'll strive: But your bones will be left when we've finally done To be washed by the rain and made white by the sun. Oh, revenge is a sweet and a delicate sauce, Which will sharpen our teeth should we chance feel remorse." Then a dark'ning shade o'er the victim's head, Like a tiny cloud or a sun-blind, spread, While his brow was fanned by a gentle breeze, Which seemed to descend from the waving trees. 'Twas a moment of bliss, till, lo! he saw A pair of black wings and a darksome claw, Which pierced through his face where 'twas peeled and raw. "O joyful," he thought, "if this crow devours The tormentors of these distracted hours! Once rid of these plagues I could rot with ease; They tickle far worse than a thousand fleas!" But the carrion crows preferred hot meat To such reptile food, and began to eat, And piece after piece from his cheek they tore,-- Such torture he felt he could scarce endure; So he said, "Good crow, if you'll raise your claw, No fish I'll entice from the cool stream more. The worms in their holes shall be safe, I'm sure; While the dryest of crusts with pleasure I'll gnaw, And won't dream of a trout though I'm hungry sore." "We'll grant your request," said the crow; "but mind, If ever you fishing we chance to find, If ever maltreating the smallest worm, Or to the least item prove aught but firm, We'll soon all come back, and will with us bring The adder to bite with his poisoned sting; The earwig on those dull brains to prey Which scattered within your pate may stray; While your eyes I shall pick out as dainty food, As a bit of a snack for my unfledged brood." Yes, he now has enough of experience bought To teach him to give o'er such cruel sport. As thus spake the crow, Her wings to and fro She waved, and told the worms to go. "He's our lawful prey, Now he's dead," said they: "He'll get so tough by a future day." But without a word more She uplifted her claw And swept them all off from his face and breast. While the breath from her wings Such happiness brings That, gaping and snoring, he sank to rest. But 'twas short, though sweet, like a donkey's trot-- He woke, not refreshed, but dreadfully hot, When he found why such visions his fancies fill,-- He had fallen asleep near an old ant hill. And the ants while he slept Had over him crept, Into his shoes, And down his neck; Wherever they chose-- For little they reck What mischief they do: Now the master's out, They run each room through, And frolic about.
The moisture they sip As they cross his lip, And where there's a wrinkle to bathe, they dip. Then at hide and seek On his whisker'd cheek They frisk about; But soon they all flit, They've an order to quit, Their lease is out. For he shook his old coat, though he greatly fears He's only increasing the rent in arrears; While he stamped in his rage to destroy the nest Of the vermin who dared to disturb his rest. Now tow'rds the cot his steps were bent, A-musing as he onward went, Though no bright thoughts amuse, Until soon his mind turned to the forthcoming treat: Though the trout are too small, little fishes are sweet, And beggars their banquets mayn't choose. Now he enters the door, when, instead of too late, He discovers he has some few minutes to wait, For the fish are not done, As the dame had to run To borrow a saucepan--as fluids retire Through theirs, and will fret, and oft put out the fire. But the pan was in use, So the dame's tongue ran loose While she stayed to chat there, for best part of an hour, Of the state of affairs, Of the price of the shares, Or the politics secret of some foreign power. But now quick as steam they are boiling away, Resolved to o'ertake--if not run down--delay; While Pat and young Matty are laying the cloth, And Sally to slumber is getting Mike off. "They're but small ones to-day," said the dame, "and I fear But a very poor dinner when drest they'll appear. I wish that our cupboard could aid your repast, But Pat of them sausages just ate the last." "Now the truth is," said Peter, "I numbers had caught, But I dug in my book till so buried in thought, That soon rod, float, and line were by me heeded nought. Though lots came so near My lecture to hear, That one with my hand I nigh caught her, Those two I'd not took But they bit at my hook As baitless it lay in the water." "Oh, my ears must deceive me," said Sally, "I'm sure. Did you say your discourse to destruction would lure Those who listen by chance to the words that you say, In the place of at once getting out of the way? But wait--let me think--'twas our book you were reading. No wonder you were not your rod and line heeding. We missed it soon after you left, but we guessed, That p'rhaps of the two you might like it the best."
Oh how Peter longed to give Pat a good poke! But he knew that the dame saw no harm in a joke, And he feared lest his fish she might burn. So smiling he said, "I another one sought, But here's your one back, which with me I brought, As I wished it at once to return." O Fiction! Miss Fiction! 'tis really too bad Thus one monstrous lie to another to add, As boys thread birds' eggs on a string. But he much had to fear, As you'll presently hear, His punishment's now on the wing. The trout by this were cooked, And so temptingly looked And smelt, they made Peter's mouth water; While Pat's lips at the view, And Mike's little beak, too, Are moist--and the dame's, and both daughters'. (For the child is not sleepy, and won't his eyes close-- There are victuals a-cooking he very well knows, Which, if not wide awake, he does justly suppose He shall lose, as provisions had run rather close.) Now the monk, nigh had offered the ladies a slice, But they looked, oh, so small! and they smelt, oh, so nice! That he thought he could never have meant it. For his maxim it was, ne'er an action to do When there was the least chance in a moment or two Of his finding good cause to repent it. So he said, "You've all dined?" and, as matter of course, He soon sat himself down to concoct the fish sauce, As he fancied he did it the best. But of what it was made I ne'er heard, so can't tell, Though I'm certain the subject he'd studied right well, For the good dame its merits confest.
But he long had not been Ere he fancied he'd seen The tail of a coat through the hedge flap. "'Tis the Abbot," he thought, "And I now shall be caught, Like a frog or a toad in a rat-trap. In this cupboard I'll go, And mind, dame, you say 'No,' If about me he happen to ask. 'Tis really provoking, And far beyond joking! To evade him 's become quite a task."
O Conscience! how truly the proverb declares, That Sin about with him his punishment bears. Yea his shadow will scare him, and make his heart quake, If, instead of the right, he another path take. He was scarcely concealed when a form the door darken'd. Quick his eye to the keyhole was placed, while he hearken'd Who it was to find out, when he felt a sharp bite At his leg, which gave him such a terrible fright That he near had rushed out, ere he found he had been On the cat and her kittens a-tumbling in. But a voice his attention that moment arrested-- 'Tis a subject, perchance, in which he's interested. So once more his gaze pierced the keyhole right through, Where he had of the table an excellent view.
"How are you, my angel? Much pleasure it gives Me to see you! For your sake alone Murphy lives. Though your beautiful charms all his brains are fast stealing, And his heart it would break did you hurt but a feeling. Will you bless, then, your slave, by accepting of this Tiny gift of affection--a sweet wholesome kiss? For, believe me, no onion I've tasted to-day, Though that delicate fruit's very much in my way. What!--you'd much rather not? Sure yourself you are spiting Quite as much as myself, whom your charms are delighting. Only think, what a way, for your sake I have brought it, And though numbers of females most anxiously sought it (Some too passably fair, yet--believe me, 'tis true,-- I met never a one so bewitching as you). Still I kept my teeth close, though 'twas really perplexing Their sweet lips to see pouting, and gentle hearts vexing. But come, Matty and Sal, you will kiss your new father, For I'm sure that your ma would say Yes than No, rather. Though some cruel event has her peace of mind crossed, Still she's anxious to find the sweet temper she's lost. And Pat, my fine fellow, how are you to-day? Here's sixpence to spend in some comical way. Shall I give it your mother? she'll of it take care; But whatever you buy give your sisters a share. Stay, what is this nice smell? who has dinner not done? For I see by the cloth it is spread but for one: Sure you never expected to see me! For there seemed not a chance, when I got up to-day, Of my having the power to come round this way, Though I felt almost dying to see thee." Now the dame was perplexed; What to say or do next She certainly knew not. While the friar must choose His nice dinner to lose If quick out he flew not. For the cover was raised, And the cooking was praised, As the dame whisp'ring low said "'Twas, dear Murphy, for you They were dressed, for we knew You would call as you so said The last time you were here; And your welcome's sincere, Though they're small ones--I fear Pat was sleepy or lazy, For the hot weather, says he Makes one take all things aisy." "Oh, no mother, I aint. I was reading my book, When, without any bait, they both snapt at my hook. I had nigh chucked them back they're so small, but I thought You might think half a loaf perhaps better than naught."
Now Murphy was sure there was either some hoax, Or young Pat was a-playing his practical jokes. But he conscious seem'd not, for 'twas always his way To entice them to words, which their thoughts would betray.
[Illustration: Sure it makes me feel hungry.]
"Well, Patrick, my boy, you're a fisherman clever! Such a dainty repast a monarch saw never; Sure it makes me feel hungry, although I've just dined. But as eating two dinners seems greedy inclined, I will just call this tea; but I'm not such a baste As to eat all myself--you must each have a taste. Come here, Mike, we're old friends, you must sit on my knee; And pray girls, get chairs, quick; they are near cold I see; For the time I should come your ma guessed so near right, They were out of the pot ere I came within sight. But pray what's this black stuff? Pat, you rogue, come confess, For I'm sure it was you made this horrible mess. What! 'tis fish-sauce, you say? 'Twill a source prove of pain, And will beckon the trout to your mouth back again." Now all are supplied, But when you divide What is small 'mong a number, there's not much a-piece. 'Twas a sum, Murphy thought, In division called short. He had multiplied rather, if they'd so increase. But skill failed to contrive;-- So the two into five Went only just once and none over. While the girls from each other Cast sly looks at their mother, Whose thoughts to the cupboard run over. Shall we eat it or leave it? their eyes seemed to say, Quite forgetting that looks will their secrets betray. While in vain the poor dame may nod, frown, or may wink, For whatever she means they can none of them think.
Meanwhile the poor friar half stifled remains, And gives vent to his thoughts in the following strains:-- "O, cruel Miss Fortune, my dinner thus stealing! I wish that I never had thought of concealing. O do spare but a tail for one mouthful, I pray thee! I could relish roast jackass, without sauce or gravy, I so hungry have got; while this cupboard's so close, That I'm speckled with dew like a morn-gathered rose. I would quickly escape, if it were not for shame. Let me see if I cannot some good excuse frame, As a cure for this terrible fasting. Can I make it appear that for something I've sought? But, O dear me, I fear that I here shall find naught Save the cats and myself who just past in. But, hark! some one's speaking--I'll hear what they're saying, I may chance get off free by a moment's delaying. "A delicious repast This," said Murphy; "when last I was feasted on trout was in good O'Neal's time. I considered him then Among wisest of men, Till he drowned him in drink, which I thought quite a crime. For, pray, who in his senses would be after leaving Such a family sweet at his loss to be grieving? Sure, though I am single, and have not much wealth, I would give all the world for such treasures myself. Now, dear Mistress O'Neal, you've a very snug home, 'Tis a thousand of pities you live all alone With no male to protect you. I know a young fellow Who the place of your slave would supply very well. O He's just the right size; is not ugly, very. Has a voice for a song; is lively and merry. Can hedge, ditch, reap, and sow; can attend to a farm; While his heart is so soft he a flea would not harm. Then he dotes upon children, from Pat's age to Mike's, And those sweet babes of your'n are the sort that he likes. Sure you'll take him at once on my recommendation; For although he's ne'er been in a like situation, He has made it his business to please all the ladies; Ev'ry wish, although nonsense, directly obeyed is." Then her hands clasping tight, on his knees down he plumped, (While the echoing walls cried to hear the floor thumped), Saying, "Sweetest of angels! my darling! my deary! Do just listen a moment, I pray thee, and hear me. For you know that of nectar you are the sweet essence, Those who fail to admire you, than none sure have less sense. 'Tis myself is the slave in whose praise I was speaking, Who, when wedded to you, would be prouder than the king. Then consent to be mine--dearest one, don't say No, Or I out of my senses shall certainly go." Now the good dame the whole, From the depth of her soul, Believed----and her feelings could scarcely control (She, 'tis true, had preferred That the monk had not heard, For where he was hid he must catch ev'ry word), But, much pleased altogether, She was pondering whether To escape out of hearing if she could endeavour. So she said, "Mr. Murphy, if outside you'll walk, On the subject you've mentioned we'll have a short talk, Though I cannot afford a man-servant to keep-- It would ruin me quite!" But her plan was too deep For poor Murphy to guess; who, not knowing her reason, Thought she lov'd some one else, and despising such treason Cried, "Oh, treat me not falsely; my love is most true, And I never will love any other than you. Oh, I cannot thus leave you--I will not depart Till you say, 'I am thine!' thou delight of my heart! O 'tis cruel to keep me thus long in suspense; Your mistaking my meaning is all a pretence. But you women delight so to bother and tease us, When your study should be to make much of and please us; Like an angler ere landing his fish plays about Just for sport, when he knows he might pull him straight out. But remember, there's many a good fish been lost By the snap of a line, which a dinner has cost." "That is meant sure, for me," thought the friar; "no doubt. How I wish the good dame could have coaxed the chap out! For 'tis plain as my face, she's in love with the man; And he jealous may grow, while do all that I can I much trouble may find in him undeceiving. Those fellows are often so hard of believing!"
But not long could poor Peter discov'ry put off, For he's all at once seized with a tickling cough, Which to strangle he tries, but in vain; though he pokes His red fist in his mouth till he very nigh chokes; For escape it would find, like a boiler of steam: Wherein water expands to such size that 'twould seem It must verily burst, when the safety-valve opes And the vapour unfettered from darkness elopes. So it was with the monk; had his cough not dispersed, Sure his lungs from the pressure had certainly burst.
"Hush!" said Murphy; "what's that?" "Oh, 'tis naught but the cat," Said the dame, while her voice seemed confusing: "She has been there all day, And is most like at play With her kittens, who are so amusing." But the cough was repeated, And the dame felt defeated, While quick Murphy tore open the door; Crying, "Come out, you sinner! Can such charms as yours win her, While I love from my very heart's core? But I'll make you pay dear For thus listening here." And he raised up his foot for a kick. When the dame rushed between, Or a struggle there'd been Which on hearing would turn your heart sick. For, though choking, could Peter scarce utter a word, Of which Murphy enraged not a syllable heard, But he took up his hat to be gone. "For your sake, dame, I spare That old wretch, but take care That I never him catch out alone. For, as sure as I live, Such a hiding I'll give, As shall make him feel sore in each bone." Then he turned on his heel and went out of the door; When, recov'ring his voice, Peter called to implore Him a moment to stop, as he wished to explain How in such a position by chance he became. "Which as soon as I've done I shall surely expect You'll apologize, too, for your want of respect." Murphy turned and re-turned, With a frown sat him down, And a glance which bespoke great attention. "Sir, proceed; but take heed. To deceive, I believe Is your plan, and your present intention." (But, alas! when a thing we much wish to be true, We are apt to believe it is really so, too. So the news Murphy heard was so sweet to his ear That of present detection the monk had no fear.) "Hush, hush, unbeliever!" the friar exclaimed; "Such terms, in my presence, should ne'er once be named. For of Mary's a monk I've the honour to be; Which, if not so enraged, by my dress you might see. Now although there's no reason why I should explain, Still, as 'tis for your good, if you choose to remain I will tell all I know, when with pleasure you'll find, That instead of a foe I am friendly inclined. First, your love from its source and beginning I've traced, Which on Widow O'Neal for her beauty was placed, Till the various graces which decked out her mind, To obtain her esteem made you feel more inclined; While you felt in your heart you would rather have died, Than ere chance to behold her another man's bride. Now, is it not so? Yes, I see by those eyes; No wonder at first they are filled with surprise, To hear me your thoughts and your actions disclose, But we monks know far more than you mortals suppose, And that what I affirm is correct, hear, and know, For the thoughts of your heart at this moment I'll show. You are thinking why I, In a cupboard should fly, As if of my actions ashamed, When a dinner I'd got Of nice trout, smoking hot. It looks as if I should be blamed. But so certain I was, and convinced in my mind, That the question to pop you felt strongly inclined, Which should make you despair, or else happy for life (I just mean about making this good dame your wife), That I thought I had better slip out of the way, Lest my presence might check what you wished so to say: It is true I regretted my dinner to lose, But to cross all my plans I at once did refuse; For an in'trest I take In the match, for her sake, For I'm positive sure she a good wife will make. And as now on that point you seem both resolved quite, I am ready this moment your hands to unite, For your hearts by each other have long been held tight." "Oh, forgive me! dear father," cried Murphy, with glee: "Thus your acts to mistake, what a fool I must be! Sure your pardon I crave for the words that I might In my flurry have said, in the moment of fright; It was catching you hid made me think all not right, But upon that head now I am satisfied quite. Still I fear, though I'm anxious my fate to unite With this beautiful dame, that it can't be to-night; For the dress is not bought which I meant to provide her, And the friends are not asked she would fain have beside her. Then, besides, there's not whisky enough in the house To intoxicate more than a newly-weaned mouse: But the day after next, if my charmer is willing, I will snap, for her eyes are than fish-hooks more killing. Oh, then say, dearest, say, Will it suit you that day, From O'Neal into Murphy to change? But if you would delay I will cheerful obey-- For I would not your plans disarrange."
Now the widow scarce knew What on earth she should do, There was nothing, she thought, to prevent it; And although she had rather have been all alone, Than the state of her heart 'fore another to own, Still refusing he might think she meant it. And the chance would be gone, Which her hopes had upborne, For a twelvemonth and some few days more. So she said, "If you please, sir, I find on reflection, That I really have not got the slightest objection, But I could not be ready before; For a bit of a party we must have at night, As there's many I've promised I would then invite, Who, neglected, would feel very sore. I should next week have liked, but had rather a fear That with washing or baking it might interfere, So we'll make it the day you wished for."
She had scarcely said this, When a good hearty kiss Flew plump on her lips ripe as cherry; While an arm round her waist At the moment was placed,-- She did not dislike it much very. Then the friar took leave, While the good people grieve That he of his meal was bereft; For he'd not been the least fed, Though in fancy he feasted (As that now was all that was left) On the banquet to come, When he'd surely make one Of the guests on the grand bridal day: When right good farm-house cheer, With prime ale and strong beer, And proof whisky, would make all hearts gay.
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE FIFTH._
'Twas a day of days, And birds to its praise Their very best lays Sung out. While the sheep and cows, Who their carols rouse O'er the meadows, browse About. Not a cloud was seen The bright sun between And the pastures green, When forth The good widow crept, Who had scarcely slept, Though 'twas bright thoughts kept Sleep off. She was up with the sun, As there's much to be done, And great numbers of things to provide For the grand bridal meal (Ere her fate she may seal), But in showing her skill feels much pride. There's the butter to make, All the new bread to bake, And a very large plum-cake beside; While she'd think with much dread She's not properly wed If aught ill to that cake should betide. Yea, she has quite a doubt If a marriage without Would be legal, if lawyers it tried.
Now Jonas the miller (her uncle) for dower Had sent her a sack of the best wheaten flour; So on tarts, puddings, pies, she may work away fast As she likes, for materials her time out will last.
She is rambling now To look after the cow, Who of course to a distance would stray. But she did not get cross, Though of time thus there's loss, For p'rhaps Murphy might chance come that way. He had toiled away fast, For the day or two past, To make the house fit for his bride. As he felt quite inclined, And had made up his mind, That there 'twould be best to reside.
"Sure this morning he's late," Thought the dame, as a gate She approached which led into a lane, When a voice loud in song Was heard strolling along; Oh, she thought it a beautiful strain! "Oh, my love she is merry, And beautiful, very; Her lips are as red as a ripe juicy cherry.
"Her neck than snow's whiter, Her eyes than stars brighter, Her step than the gentle gazelle's is far lighter.
"Her fine sculptured nose is Surrounded with roses, And tulips, whose sweetness fresh beauty discloses.
"Than the lark her voice sweeter, Yea, so perfect 's each feature, She is without doubt a most beautiful creature."
"Oh, good morning, dear Murphy," the dame cried with pleasure, As she stept into sight when he finished the measure, "A most beautiful song that, and sung with much feeling; Quite enraptured, all care from my heart it seemed stealing, Like the music of birds, which will sometimes come creeping O'er our dreams in that state betwixt waking and sleeping." "Ah, you've listening been! I myself have betrayed, And the praises you've heard of a beautiful maid. Now, as oft I've heard said by those proverb-wise elves, That sly listeners never hear good of themselves, It could ne'er have been you to whose praise I sung out: But I see by that smile that there lingers a doubt, And you still think 'tis you from the kind of description. Well, 'tis true you seem made after such a prescription; But it does not do justice, as I can assure ye. I'll remand you till eve, when assemble the jury, And then if this gown that I've bought you'll appear in, The verdict of guilty I'm certain of hearing: For all of your guests will of envy be dying,-- The women, because you their charms are out-vieing; The men, 'cause I've won you while vain they were trying." Then on they walked, And blithely talked Of happiness in store. The cow soon caught Was homeward brought,-- Her rambling days are o'er; For Murphy all the hedges patched, The wicket swung and firmly latched, As it had hung before. The rotten roof with great dispatch Received an outer coat of thatch, While boards soon frame a door. And time he in the garden found To sort the bed from paths around, And with the weeds wage war. Meanwhile the hours onward rolled, The clock the time had often told, The dame her cooking had completed, The pots and pans had all retreated, The house in ev'ry point seemed righted, Naught's out of place but those invited, Just to witness the sticking of two soles together, Tight as e'er gutta percha has stuck unto leather. Now although 'tis not late The dame likes not to wait, It puts her in such a great fidget; There is nothing to do She can put her hand to, Or her fever would crawl to each digit. The fair maidens for hours Had been decking with flow'rs The kitchen, and made it look gay As a ribbon-clad sweep Who from chimneys may creep To dance round a green (first of May). 'Tis a quarter to five, And the guests fast arrive, And each with him some present brings: One a roast pig had got, One a goose smoking hot, And numbers of other nice things. There were rabbits and hares, And prime roast-ducks in pairs, And pigeons delightfully cooked. Like a pic-nic it seemed, But might well have been deemed A banquet, so noble it looked. But a fear rising lest Some nice girl might like best To hear how the bride than the victuals were dress'd, In few words I'll express, Although feminine dress Is out of my line I must really confess; For when I've had a look, it Has but been to hook it,-- I never then thought I might chance have to book it. So I beg you'll excuse Me if strange terms I use,-- Such a trifling request you will scarcely refuse.
Now the gown Murphy gave her, That expense he might save her, Though not quite bran new, still looked elegant rather, Of a sky-coloured blue, Without flounces, 'tis true, And being scanty in skirt rather tight round her drew; It was smothered with bows, Which descended in rows From her fine swelling chest to her neat little toes, Just like scarlet-runners,-- Love, sure, they had won hers, If at the beginning had been but for fun hers. At the top it was low, That her neck it might show, As white as a turnip or two-days'-back snow. Then her rather red face Was embedded in lace, With large green rosette, garnished to heighten each grace. But a bright crimson shawl Was her pride above all, Whose folds graceful descended the ground down to fall.
The young ladies in white Will appear towards night, Their frocks from the mangle are not yet dry quite. So like _grubs_ they appear, Till through starching they're clear, And then prouder than _butterflies_ up their heads rear. With sweet roses entwined They their fair brows will bind, To make most of themselves they are really inclined.
Little Michael was drest Out in his very best, With a pinafore over, lest they might be messed. He had watched with great int'rest the good things provided, And much longed for the time when they should be divided.
"O you beautiful creature!" said Flannagan Ted, "How I wish it was me, and not Murphy instead; I quite think we must fight till there's one of us kilt, Unless he runs away that no blood may be spilt." "Oh, the false, faithless man!" cried a beauty beside him; "When I thought him so true, sure his words have belied him! To speak so in my presence,--oh, really, 'tis shocking! How often do men seem our best feelings mocking!' But the good dame replied, with a kind-hearted smile, "'Twas but flattery, Clare, his heart's your's all the while." Yet the beautiful maid still continued to pout, Till a loud, smacking kiss, rubbed the wrinkles all out.
Look! there's old Farmer Jonas arrived in his cart, With a pair of twin daughters and wife dressed so smart, Whose plump cheeks are so covered with ribbons and bows, That like owl from out ivy appears each peak'd nose. That the maidens were fair is a fib I can't tell you, And, what was most strange, 'twas a fact they both well knew, For their eyes tow'rds each other were friendly inclined, While their locks would bring carrots at once to your mind. But their tempers were sweet as the extract of bees, And where'er they might go they were certain to please. The old farmer himself is a jovial fellow, With a loud, pealing laugh, as melodious and mellow As the music of calves when for mammy they bellow. In stature he's stumpy, approaching to fat, With a very broad face and a still broader hat, Which, perched all on one side, like an avalanche sat; And so brightly would twinkle his little black eyes (When he uttered his jokes, which would often arise) That like di'monds they gleamed of first water and size.
His good lady, however, was quite his reverse,-- She was scraggy and lanky, and, what was far worse, For ever was teased with a terrible cough, That threatened each moment to carry her off.
Now old Jonas was richer than any around, He'd a farm and a mill--besides acres of ground, Where the ripe, waving corn, like an ocean appears, While than even King Midas he boasts longer ears; And like to that fabulous monarch of old, Whatever he touch'd was transformed into gold. No harm to his horses there ever befel, And his cattle had never at all felt unwell. His crops were all good, and increased fast his store;-- Thus contented he lives, nor once wishes for more. By all ranks he is held in the greatest esteem; Which is justly his due, as will presently seem, For his house, always open, scarce wanted a door, And was styled a depôt for the wants of the poor.
"Dear Uncle, to see you it gives me much pleasure, The present you sent me was really a treasure," The young widow exclaimed, as a kiss on her brow Was descending, as light as a bird on a bough. "Dearest Aunt and sweet cousins, I felt it most kind, That the state of my wardrobe you still kept in mind, For without those fair garments, though hidden from view, I had sorely been puzzled whatever to do: They're a beautiful fit, though the hooks will not meet; Still the gown fastened over them keeps all things neat."
Now they all are arrived but the bridegroom and priest, But of guests at a wedding they form not the least; And the dame gets more anxious her true love to see, Who had left to adorn, but had promised to be Back in less than no time--but his word had not kept. She was angry and vexed, and had certainly wept, But she would not her friends should suppose her infirm, And so tries to explain why he does not return. Which, while she is doing, I'll try and describe The friends of the bridegroom as well as the bride. There is Jerry Maguire (Who has brought, by desire, His fiddle to strike up a dance), He has long, curly hair, Which delights ev'ry fair, Who at him oft cast a sly glance. He is not very tall, Yet looks down upon all, And considers himself just the thing, In his rough, white frock coat, Green cravat round his throat, And broad collar turned down o'er each wing. His young sister's there too (Quite a picture to view), A sweet, rosy-cheeked, plump, little maid, Who appears rather shy, And will cast down her eye When she's spoke to, as if she's afraid. Close beside her there sat, Full of kind, friendly chat, Her young cousins, the Misses Delhay, With their big brother Sam, Who, quite certain I am, Is in love with Maguire's sister May. For attention he paid her, Such presents oft made her, And ever was close by her side, While the mother oft winks, When she's asked how she thinks Pretty May would look dressed like a bride. In a corner remote, Where each look she may note, At this very moment she's sitting, And attention scarce pays To what old Jonas says, Who is rather fidgetty getting. For she scarcely had spoke, Though a pun and a joke On the bride and the wedding he made; So for fear they'd be lost, He uprose--the room crossed, And them safe to the widow conveyed; Who said, "Dear me, how funny!" and laughed till she cried With a fit of convulsions, which nigh cracked her side (As a prelude to draw all attention). "I must tell it them, uncle, although you say nay." "And screw up your dear mouth in that comical way?" "'Tis is a great deal too good not to mention."
"I've a riddle to ask, though against me the jest,-- Why are you all betrayed, and not one e'er a guest? What, can none of you guess? Why, through those who so late are, There is nowhere a guest, for each person's a waiter!" "What a dreadful bad pun!" whispered Samuel Delhay, As his red lips approached nigh the ear of fair May; But perceiving he's watched, he could do nothing more, Than just smile for a moment, and them back withdraw.
But I now must return without further delay, To describe all the guests of the grand wedding day. There is tall Miss O'Riley, In a queerish old style she Appears to be made; by the cut of her phiz Though a spinster,--'tis sure, She can flirting endure; Her age when truth calculates right is Forty--but, O dear me, pray what am I about? I shall get by the fair sex kicked certainly out; I should only have said what is true, by the bye, That though out of her teens she has ne'er got a tie.
But pray who is that beauty of very great size, Who can't sit on one chair though she struggling tries, With large gooseberry eyes, and complexion as sallow As a half-melted dip of inferior tallow? By her beak her I know, which is long and red, rather-- She is spouse to the man who is Flanagan's father.
Now, O'Flanagan's self is as brown as a berry, Tallish, stout-built, ferocious, and fightable, very; For no fray could you name in which he hadn't been, While where'er he may go his shillaly is seen Tucked under his arm, whence in less than a minute It would leap to his hand, and deal blows ere quite in it. He is partial to racing, to gambling, to liquor, Can the value of horses than dealers tell quicker; Can run, wrestle, and fight, any man in the village, And, when safe from detection, objects not to pillage; I don't housebreaking mean, but just causing a sheep To have unpleasant dreams, and to walk in its sleep. Now, although much disliked by most people, yet still, Go wherever you may, there you certainly will Meet O'Flanagan John--though he's only invited Just to keep his wrath cool, which oft boils when he's slighted; And like steam must find vent in some malice-fraught trick, Or will burst into flame like a smould'ring rick. His son, Flanagan Ted, is a nice little feller, At least, so says Clare--and pray, who should know weller? He is tall, handsome, well-made, and folks say they never Have beheld a young man more polite, or so clever. Near, of course, to his side, Sat his young future bride, Who seems much inclined to be jealous. Speaks he but to another, She her thoughts can scarce smother, And sighs like a pair of new bellows. Her old father and brother are somewhere about,-- With O'Flanagan talking, I have not a doubt, Of the state of the crops, for of him land they rent, (Not, p'rhaps, over well-tilled, but of wondrous extent), Near O'Flanagan Lodge, which are fixed by entail, Or, through winds often raised, they ere now had set sail. Now O'Donoghue senior's a cunning, shrewd man, Who had sketched out his life to the following plan:-- "Just take care of your money when once, 'tis obtained; For a penny when saved is a penny well gained." He is short, ugly, shrivelled, and bowed down with care; What is styled a spare man, or a man all could spare. He is harsh, much despised by the people around, For the lab'rers in him a severe master found. And the poor never called, for they knew 'twas no use, As he gave naught away but a show'r of abuse. It was not quite respect made him seek for his daughter Such a partner for life, but he wisely had taught her His favourite maxim of--Get all you can; For 'tis money alone manufactures the man.
Young O'Donoghue, too, Is a bit of a screw, For he wears an old coat which has never been new. The plain English of which is, That, in spite of their riches, 'Twas a pair and a half of his father's old breeches. He has shouldered two legs--for the tails split another; While his back took a seat which his neck too will cover.
Now they're all introduced but a queer little man, With broad nose, bushy hair, and complexion like tan; Who a foreigner seems, quite a fresh importation, An exotic transplanted from some foreign nation.
"But what has delayed them?" Uncle Jonas exclaimed; "Some harm has waylaid them; Or they're to be blamed. For I hoped ere this time to have given away This good dame, who I fear on my hands still must stay. I bestowed her before, but just like a bad penny She returns to my pocket, though welcome as any. For of her and the children it must be allowed I with justice have reason to be truly proud." "We had better begin, Food thus spoilt becomes sin," Exclaimed Flanagan John, with a ravenous grin; "For, believe when I say, Scarce a toothful to-day I have eat, that I honour to all things might pay. I now too feel quite sinking, While I cannot help thinking They've mistook the day." He continued by winking; When his speech was cut short by a loud joyful shout From young Patrick O'Neal, who had kept the look-out. "Here is Murphy a-coming! Hurrah! hurrah! Our mother's young husband! Our handsome new Pa!"
"Oh, I'm covered with blushes, one heap of confusion; Sure to pop in so late appears quite an intrusion. But I thought of a proverb which Truth conveys over, Which says, 'Coming, though late, is still better than never.' But you all will forgive, my excuse when you've heard-- Yet just now on that subject I'll speak not a word; I've delayed you too long--for the present at least. When you're fed, I'll tell all. But, pray, where is the priest? I can't see his dear face. What! forgotten to call? Oh then, sure, by good luck, I'm not last after all."
"Oh," said Jonas, "like you He some excuse too Most likely will give us for coming so late. But as hunger grows stronger, We will tarry no longer, For hunger will not for a priest even wait." "Stay, for him I'll atone, 'Tis no fault of his own," Said Murphy; I'm certain he'd choose (From the little I know), Through great dangers to go, Than such a superb banquet lose."
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE SIXTH._
Who has never beheld when an old lady slips On the pavement of wood, which her toe upward trips, A dense crowd bustle round, quick as bees to a hive, While in vain she, though fainting, for fresh air may strive? Or when, at the close of a hot summer's day, As the sun tints the lake with his bright crimson ray, Who has never remarked how the fishes will rise If you throw in some bread, while to seize on the prize They will upset each other, and splutter about, Till their heads and their tails from the river peep out?
So exactly it was at the time I am speaking, Ev'ry one for himself is the best place out seeking, Taking care a nice dish shall stand nearly before him, With some fair one by side he would fain have adore him.
Now a passage to quote from an elegant Poet, Whose name I can't tell, for I really don't know it; It is not from Byron, or Chaucer, or Pope, Or Milton, or Cowper, and I therefore must hope You won't search through their writings to find it-- Let me see, is it Shakespeare's? no, 'tis n't his either; Nor More's, Prior's, Dryden's--of theirs it is neither. Where can I have read it? I cannot remember, I might waste all my time from Spring to December, In trying to think--so don't mind it.
But I've heard that you ought, When you borrow a thought, Just to mention the place whence you brought it. Still, although this seems right, 'Tis not possible quite, To kill even a flea till you've caught it.
The quotation I'd note Was a fable one wrote, As a means to convey information. Like a sandwich, between May a moral be seen, Wrapped up in a pleasant narration.
Once the Lion invited to hunt and to dine, And to taste a few skins of his favourite wine, All his friends of the forest--who said they'd be there, In the sports of the chase and the victuals to share; Then the cunning fox scampered the country around, Just to stop up the holes, and survey well the ground; While the wolves have agreed to act dogs for the day, And the jackall has orders to search out for prey. There's his highness, Lord Camel, and Sir Grisly Bear, With his tall Polish friend, who continues to wear That long warm furry mantle, which looks just like snow, And descends in short flakes till it wraps round each toe. Majors Leopard and Tiger, just fresh from Bombay, Of the proud native corps, have, undoubted, the sway, Who would rather prefer to lie dead on the field Than retreat from the foe, or the slightest point yield. Count Panther and young Lord Hyena together Are chatting, and making remarks on the weather; The Count thinks it will rain, though at present 'tis clear; While Lord Hyena laughs at the very idea. The Grand Sultan Elephant cannot go out To the hunt, as he has an attack of the gout; But says of objections he has not the least To come in at the death, and make one at the feast. Now before they set out, just by way of a lunch, Of bread and of buffalo each takes a hunch; With strong bottled stout of Dame Lion's own brewing, From wild roots extracted, by boiling or stewing.
"To the chase!" cried the king; "to the chase! to the chase! Time is running along at a steam-engine pace; Some hours will be left still for eating and drinking, At the close of the day, when old Sol is a-sinking." "Swift away, then, away! to the forest away!" Exclaims each noble guest; "let us banish delay." Mr. Jackall just then of some prey caught the scent, And the wolves, too, appeared on some sport all intent; So away they dash over the tall mountain's brow; Tally-ho! tally-ho! they are in the chase now; With roaring and yelling the woods are resounding, O'er hedges and ditches like wild steeds they're bounding, Through forests, through brushwood, through brambles, and brier, No danger can daunt, no fatigue can them tire; Till a beautiful deer lies defunct on the ground, While the wolves are lip-smacking and howling around. The next moment young Reynard aroused from its lair, From just under their noses, a splendid large hare; Who scampers away over two or more fields, When his life to the fangs of his deadly foe yields. Tally-ho! tally-ho! two fine bucks are now seen, One has taken the water, the other the green. In pursuit they divide--in a dish such a pair Would for even a monarch be delicate fare. Through the stream, o'er the glade, up the hill's rugged side, Down the vale, o'er the plain, like Niagara's tide, On, resistless, they roll; till their furious speed Has o'ertaken their victims; and now they must bleed. Like the torrent they fell, and quite spent on the ground, Overthrown and downcast they expired with a bound.
Hunting thus they continued, till good old dame Eve Tucked her sun up in bed, as a hint they should leave. She's expecting a neighbour to call--Mistress Night; So to make sure he's safe she has put out his light.
Then they give o'er the chase, and search out for the track Which shall lead to the cave, while each wolf on his back Swings a buck, or a fawn, or a bundle of hares, And like light'ning back home to dame Lion repairs; Who dissects the rich dainties, and spreads out the board, And most anxiously waits the return of her lord.
Mr. Reynard had two or three visits to pay, So he made an excuse from the party to stray. Truly generous friends, those of his may be thought, Did we judge from the geese, fowls, and ducks that he brought. Still he feels much annoyed that he so long has tarried, And lays all the fault on the birds that he carried.
[Illustration: They are seated at last.]
They are seated at last; and like smoke disappear The rich haunches of venison, and all the good cheer. Yea, as swift as a lion runs after his prey, The legs of the roebuck are cutting away Down the throat of the monarch; in spite of his teeth, They rush rapidly on just his large eyes beneath.
Then dame Lion brought forward some wine like champagne, And--believe me--that no one was asked twice in vain: Like a torrent it flowed through their mouths, while their eyes Round are rolling with rapture, delight, and surprise. "How delicious! enchanting! what capital stuff! It has only one fault--that you can't drink enough At a draught, for the fumes seem to fizz up one's nose, And dispute with your breath for the passage like foes." Thus spake the Count Panther; but, too busy to speak, The rest nodded assent, and their glass again seek. They ne'er had fall'n in with that liquor before, And Fate had determined they never should more. For drinking they sat, till so drunk, they're not able To keep on their seats--so rolled under the table; Where some Indians out early next morning them found, Who with clubs dashed their brains out to manure the ground. And, thus, ever since (to these animals' shame) They made beasts of themselves,--Beast has been their name.
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE SEVENTH._
As 'tis likely all this You will skip o'er and miss, As remote from the subject before ye; I a few facts will lay Now before you, which may Form excuse for this turn of the story. First, I think it is rude to remark what folks eat, So I mended my pen while they cut up the meat; And this tale copied out, which I thought might apply To events that were passing close under my eye. But my strain I'll resume when they come to dessert, And will note down their jokes, which no feelings can hurt. For who'd like a reporter on paper with ink To note all that you eat, and write down what you drink? Of the number of slices it takes you to fill? Just as if he of parcels was making a bill! No, although--like all authors--I know each one's taste; What they thought, too; yea, dream't! still I will not now waste Your time or your patience by piece-meal retailing Who in this capacity showed greatest of feeling. Suffice it to say, like the beasts in the fable, They tucked in the victuals as long as they're able; Then applied to the bottle to fill up the chinks, While each mouth to the bridegroom and would-be bride drinks. "And now, pray, Mr. Murphy, we'll have your excuse; No excuse to get off, sir, you'll find of much use," Uncle Jonas exclaimed, as he shook his old head, Just to make it appear he knew more than he said. "Here's my niece has but eaten the third of a dinner,-- Oh, this love it will make e'en the fattest one thinner! She seems vexed with us all, p'rhaps with you not the least, Though I rather believe it is most with the priest."
"Well," said Murphy, "I meant through the forest to run To look out for old Peter, when dinner was done. But before I set out I will frankly declare What detained me so late, though 'tis quite an affair Of a delicate nature----wait--p'rhaps it's best not To go talking about it--'tis better forgot-- She may think it unmanly, unjust, or unkind If I spread it abroad, so you please must not mind These few words I've just said; I'll be back here ere long, And will favour you then with a comical song." "Oh, oh!" said the farmer, and glanced a sly wink; "There's some gal in the gale then, you'd have us to think. We shall soon have a breeze, and a tempest will blow, If what's up in the wind you don't presently show. Pray be seated, there is no such great haste for the priest, Till we're satisfied all on this subject at least. What! oh, dear me! quick--water, she's fainting away!" He cried out, as the dame 'gainst his arm her head lay. While he knew, by the bye, just as much what to do, As a pig does of making an Irish stew. "No, no, brandy is better!" O'Flanagan said; "Raise her head!" whispered Clare. "Lay her down here!" said Ted. "Here's my salts," said Miss Riley, who twice had searched o'er Both her pockets, then strewed the contents on the floor. "Or some vinegar, p'rhaps, if applied to her brow Might her senses revive, which seem slumbering now," Exclaimed Mrs. Maguire; "poor, dear thing! she, indeed, Must have ate or drank something which has disagreed." "Warm her feet," said Miss Delhay; "and loosen her dress; If took out in the air she'd be better, I guess." Said her aunt, Mrs. Jonas, "Come, Murphy, lead her; And, Patrick, you run for a doctor to bleed her." "Oh, the wretch that I am! what a baste of a feller Thus to tease her to death, when I might as well tell her. It's no fault of my own if the girls will admire. Sure I cannot look ugly because I desire? Oh, pray come to, my dearest! my angel, revive! Do but squeeze out a smile, just to show you're alive. If you're not quite well soon, and my folly forgive, I shall ne'er more be happy as long as I live." Then she opened her eyes, cast them down to the ground, Rolled them slowly about, and in tones most profound Said, "There's not much the matter, I only was grieving For fear that dear Murphy had been a-deceiving. But I'm much better now, and quite able to hear What he wished to explain when I first was took queer." Oh, the wiles of the fair sex! What tricks they will try To beguile us poor men! With a tear in their eye They can crush Opposition without e'er a word, Though he wear a long tongue, and is armed with a sword. Yea, kingdoms have crumbled, washed away by a tear-- A deep sigh sent an army to a premature bier. Twice a kiss has released condemned captives from death; While a frown often robs from a hero his breath. Many heads once were broke when Meg Dogharty cried, And fair Chloe won lovers whenever she sighed. And pray who has not felt the sweet force of a smile Your heart from you stealing, though on guard all the while, All your senses o'er-turning, and making your brain Like a teetotum spun by Miss Pleasure and Pain? But the brute of a man who can firmly persist 'Gainst the feminine tear and a sigh to resist, Leaves the fair one no weapons to urge her complaint But to go in hysterics, or have a good faint.
But stop, pray where am I? I've been straying again! That I'm quite off my beat appears perfectly plain. Like the dog I take with me when walking about, Who will run down each turning, first in and then out. Thus, when but three miles past 'neath these two feet of mine, I am certain his four feet have traversed o'er nine; So this quill of wild goose, if the straight path it went, Might save more of your patience than thirty per cent.
"Well," said Murphy, "you know," (and his fair bride he placed In a chair, while he bustled his arm round her waist; But perceiving a sore throat blow in at the door, He just twisted his arm round her neck like a boa.) "Well," he said; "you know"--but he could not get farther. Oh, truly, the subject seems delicate rather. "Stop, 'tis really too bad thus your time to be wasting, When I'm sure the sweet whisky you'd be after tasting. 'Tis a beautiful spirit, will cure melancholy; And can make even grief to look pleasant and jolly." Then continued he thus, in a still lower tone, "Dearest! Much-better-half, 'tis no fault of my own, But I'd rather explain to yourself quite alone." "No, no, no!" cried each voice; "we will have it, sir, now." And they clapped, stamped, and made such a terrible row, That poor Murphy soon saw he no rest there should find Till confessed, so thus spoke forth in accents resigned. "Well my friends, you must know, About eight years ago I first went as a lad to old Donolly's farm; Where I've been ever since, And, the truth not to mince, Am thought well-behaved, clever, and quite free from harm. Now of girls he has two, Pretty fair ones to view, With such figures I'm sure can surpassed be by none. But they both of them thought (Which their eyes soon me taught), That I'd make for their father an excellent son. Now what could a man do? He can't marry wives two, And in truth I myself wanted neither. So I hunted about, And a lover found out, Whom I gave a broad hint might have either. But the other poor girl would each offer refuse, Till the young man decided 'twas worse than no use To solicit her hand, and considered it mine, Though I two or three times did the honour decline; Then her father had made up his mind I should do, While poor Joan on that point seemed quite satisfied too; Though I never the slightest encouragement gave, But was only polite--as I always behave. I can but remember one time that I kissed her, And then sure the pleasure was shared by her sister. Just of late, since I fixed on this dame for my bride, I have fled from her presence, and ever have tried To show plain as might be--though I could not be rude-- That her love was misplaced, and would prove of no good. Now I lived in the house, and you'll therefore suppose That she saw I was fed, and looked after my clothes; Sewing on truant buttons, and giving a darn To the rents--for that stitching I never could learn. Now it happened to-day, That I happened to say That p'rhaps it might happen I should be away; For some old friends of mine Had just asked me to dine To give my opinion on some foreign wine. To m' Sarah, m' deary, of course I alluded, And though speaking a figure of speech only true did. But the maiden appeared As if something she feared; And, somehow--I cannot tell why, I felt quite nervous too, And tried all I could do To shun the sad turn of her eye. Now I told you she took of my raiment the care, So I mentioned I wanted my best clothes to wear. When--can you believe it?--she would not give them out She declared, till I told her what I was about. There was something not right she could readily see, And she ne'er did expect such behaviour from me. One she much had respected and highly esteemed, Till my manner of late, which quite bearish she deemed Well, I tried all I knew (While I thought, love, of you), To escape from her questions by no means a few. But I found each plan vain, Till at length I spoke plain,-- 'Then know, I am going a fair bride to obtain.' 'O the monster! the wretch!' she exclaimed with such fury, That I'm sure any justice and impartial jury, Had she killed me, would say 'twas manslaughter. As it was, from the fear she some rash act might do, To my heels out of sight like an arrow I flew, Truly grieved I was thus forced to thwart her. Still returning, I lingered some moments about, To catch hold of some maid, if perchance one came out, Who would fetch me my clothes, for I wished to appear To the greatest advantage, when coming up here; But just as I had made up my mind to depart, She stepp'd forth, and I scarcely had time back to start, Ere she drew near the spot where I stood; And, overwhelmed by despair, on the bank's mossy side She flung herself down, and most piteously cried. 'Oh, poor dear! 'twill,' I thought, 'do her good.' She had buried her face in her hands from my view, Yet I saw a tear trickle her long fingers through,-- How I wished I her grief could assuage! But I feared all the means I the pow'r had to try, Which her sorrows could soothe, or her bitter tears dry, Might p'rhaps also rekindle her rage: So I kept snug concealed there as still as a mouse, Till she sobbed out the very last tear; Then just waited to see her safe into the house, And made double-quick haste to get here. So, my friends, you perceive that no blame I can own, I felt sure the excuse for the fault would atone; With your leave I will go now and fetch Mr. Peter, Cruel Fate has perplexed me, but still I'll defeat her."
"Stop," said Flanagan John, "little Patrick will go,-- Every turn in the wood he from instinct must know; And besides, I've been waiting I don't know how long, For the treat you just promised--a comical song."
"Well," said Murphy, "I fear I'm not equal at present, And a molar he eased with the quill of a pheasant; "Not quite wound up, I mean, for a comical strain, Though not long in key doleful I mean to remain. But if Pat, my young namesake, my son that's to be, Will just trouble himself after Peter to see, And Maguire will oblige with the part instrumental, I will try what I can in a song sentimental." "With the greatest of pleasure," said Patrick, "I'm sure," As he bolted without hat or cap through the door; Though he tarried outside till the singing was done, And then swift as the deer on his errand he run. But quick, look, he returns,--he is after some spree; I can tell by his eyes, they are sparkling with glee: See, he enters the house by a window behind,-- He will play them some trick, we shall presently find. Per-ling, pling--twang, twang, twang, went the fiddle strings soon, As Maguire screwed them up to the requisite tune; Though he scarce knows the song, he with grief must declare; So that Murphy politely first whistles the air; And then, after a prelude of Maguire's composing, To the following words his melodious voice flows in:
"As rambling forth one morning, Whilst the birds were sweetly singing, I chanced to meet fair Kitty, Who her milk-pails home was bringing; She pretended not to see me, And was hastening away, When I hurried quickly after her, And said, "Sweet maiden, stay-- For I love you fondly, dearly, Most tenderly, sincerely! And than a king more happy you can make me if you choose!" But the maid seemed scarce to hear me; Oh! she loves me not, I feared me; For she only shook her little head and said it was no use. "Oh thou fairest, brightest, flower, That e'er bloomed in beauty's bower! Than the nightingale's sweet melody I much prefer your voice; Then, dear maid, be not thus cruel, I can bear neglect from you, ill. As I've banished all your rivals to allow you the first choice." "Oh, you men do so deceive, sir, That your vows I'll not believe, sir, For you tell each girl she's pretty, that you roaming chance to meet; Then, besides, some other fellow P'rhaps may love me quite as well oh, Who has vowed to be my slave through life, and thrown him at my feet." "I will challenge ev'ry other, Who presumes to be your lover, Though I kill a man each morning, not a minikin care I; Sure, I'll perforate the river, Though the thought it makes me shiver, For without you as I cannot live, 'tis pleasant so to die. For my heart I know you'll break it, Though my love you ne'er can shake it, 'Tis more deeply rooted than yon oak that rears its head on high; Though the stem of hope is shivered, And each branch of pleasure withered, Yet it clings unto the earth still firm,--so, to my love, will I." "Will you promise ne'er to tease me, And do all you can to please me, If I take you for the better, though I know 'twill be for worse? Are you sure you love me truly? Well, I cannot think that you lie, But remember 'tis yourself I wed, and not your gilded purse."
"Bravo! bravo! capital song, Very good length, and nothing too long; Lots of fine feeling and plenty of sense, Comical rather, and of int'rest immense."
It was Flanagan John Sang this snatch of a song, Though the tune he was far from correct in; But he's one that don't care, And will do and can dare What he likes, without ever reflecting. "Let's encore it!--Encore!" "No," said Murphy, "no more, I must really the pleasure decline; 'Tis now some lady's turn, They such pretty songs learn, When their voices to singing incline. Ask the fairy-like May, Who with Samuel Delhay In a corner like two birds are caged. Here, my sweet pretty Miss, May I ask for a kiss, When those sweet lips are quite disengaged?" "Oh, for shame!" Said the dame, "Dearest Murphy, you really should never Say such things, For it brings A deep tint to the fairest cheek ever. But I'm sure Miss Maguire will oblige with a song, I have heard her fine voice, though some time ago, long; When a child she was, under my care." "Well," said Jerry Maguire, "She has at my desire Set her voice to an enchanting air; Which with pleasure she'll sing, 'Tis exactly the thing, Will amuse our old friend sitting there." "Oh, do sing, dearest May," Whispered Samuel Delhay; "Pray oblige us," said every guest; "Now then, May, don't be shy," Said her brother, "when I Can assist if you aid should request." "And," said Murphy, "I, too, Will be sure to clap you, If you will but oblige with your best." "I will try my best style," She replied with a smile; "If you'll promise you'll not be offended. Nor will go so far wrong, As to think that my song As a close to your tale is intended." "Dear, what can the girl mean? 'Twill be presently seen," Muttered he as the promise he gave. Then her voice mounted high, As a lark in the sky, As she warbled each beautiful stave. Ev'ry ear it arrests, ev'ry whisper soon dropt, Even breathing that moment appeared to be stopt. While each bosom seem'd touched by the soft, thrilling strain, And few eyes quite unwashed to the end could remain. The good dame as she hears Gently melts into tears As she thinks of disconsolate Joan. Who, heart-broken and sad, Or from grief nearly mad, Is bewailing her hard fate alone. The words simply are these, Which fair May sang to tease Mr. Murphy, though it she'll not own.
"Oh, my beautiful flow'ret has faded, Is drooping its once joyous head; For the bee with its sweetness has laded His wings and away with it fled.
And the fierce, cruel wind, it hath broken The stem which the bright blossom fed; While the leaves by their sad looks have spoken Their grief for the kind parent dead.
So my heart's fondest hope has been slighted, Ev'ry joy has been stolen from me. I am drooping, am with'ring, am blighted; But the wreck of life shattered you see.
Never more shall the sun by its brightness Illumine my dark gloomy fate; Nor can peace to my spirit bring lightness, For he comes to this bosom too late."
Now to scatter the gloom Which pervaded the room, Murphy piles all the chairs into heaps. Flings his arm round the dame (Declares he's not to blame), And with her to the room's centre creeps. While Maguire struck up soon Such a capital tune, That like magic each youth forward leaps To the side of some fair, Who, with pleasure, steps where She in dancing can best show her feats. In and out, Round about, It appears quite a riddle. Hands across, Turn of course, And then rush down the middle. Back again, Pleasant pain! Sure he'll wear out his fiddle. "Quicker play!" "Scrape away!" Cries each pair as they pass by; As whirling And twirling They still swifter and fast fly; And in spite, Though fagged quite, Who can keep up the last try. Till whizzy And dizzy They sink into a seat; If they aint Fit to faint In a terrible heat. When to cool, As by rule, To some draught they retreat. Where the fair one imbibes such a delicate chill That her frame is refreshed; but ere morning she will Find the thoroughfare stopped in her organ of smell; With a rising blockade in the thorax as well. While her forehead of snow into pieces seems splitting, As the pain ev'ry moment is worse and worse getting. And her bright eyes are streaming regret for the folly Which has garnished her lungs with a feeling like holly; And has changed her sweet voice, as a matter of course, From the nightingale's tone to sound dreadfully hoarse.
"Oh, how funny it seems to one not fond of dancing, To see women and men just like animals prancing! Roaming forwards and back like two bears in a cage, And then galloping round as if put in a rage. Working harder--I'll bet ten young pigs to a sow, Than they've been all day long at the tail of the plough." "Stop!" I fancy I hear some fair maiden exclaim, In a tone full of ire strongly mixed with disdain. "'Tis some horrid old man has been writing this tale, Who will make his remarks, though so stupid and stale." Now, kind reader, of this I must beg to assure you, That 'twas Flanagan muttered those words placed before you.
Rat-a-tat! "Who is that?" Murphy cried; "pray come in." And a priest walked inside who had listening been. How the widow's heart beat as he stept up to greet her! He was very much like, still he was not old Peter. "Sure I'm in for it now," Murphy inwardly thought; "I would fly, but must own I've been quite fairly caught. No I aint!--'tis but Pat, though in clever disguise; He may cheat his old Mother's, but not these young eyes. But I'll not spoil the fun; I'm reprieved by his aid. Ah! his voice, as I feared, has the secret betrayed; And the good little dame appears quite in a pet. P'rhaps she'll wait longer still for a young bridegroom yet! For I rather repent having scouted poor Joan, She is prettier far, though I don't like her home. Still a second-hand wife, and four babes ready made, Must be popped in the scale and against that be weighed. "Now, Murphy," cried Flanagan, "your comical song! Why, you look black as if all on earth had gone wrong! Come, I'll bet what you like I can guess what you thought (If you did take the trouble to meditate aught), 'Tis a bother, I own, and you well may look blue (Still you're quite green enough if your friends all speak true). Oh, I fear you are out both of temper and tune, But I'll give you a song which shall banish care soon." Then he whetted his whistle, and clearing his voice, In a very gruff tone sang this ditty so choice:--
"Oh, those that like, let them be sad, For my part I'll be merry. A life like theirs would drive me mad, So I'll be jolly, very.
If Cupid should catch hold of me, And from my love me sever, And into woe would turn my glee, Shall he succeed?--no, never!
If valued friends prove false, unkind, When any scrape I get in; I'll drive their memory from my mind, And thus no sorrow let in.
If Miss Fortune should use me ill, And steal my only penny, Contentedly I'll jog on still, As happy without any.
Though Landladies may bore for rent, And duns may loudly bellow; I'll tell them, though my money's spent, I'm still a jolly fellow.
For love in sparkling wine I'll drown All care and melancholy; They are but fools who sigh and frown; For my part I'll be jolly."
[Illustration: Then again the wild dance]
Then again the wild dance Does each young toe entrance, And p'rhaps many an old one beside. There's antique Miss O'Riley Has coaxed Donoghue slily Just to waltz, which he ne'er before tried. For she chatted so pretty, And talked, oh, so witty, That he guessed at her age rather wide. But the maiden soon found She must drag him right round, For he could not his steps at all guide. While his arms stuck out still, Like the sails of a mill-- How young Flanagan laughed till he cried! And called out, "Take care, Tom, what sweet words you are saying; For the breach of a promise you'll not like the paying." "What are breaches of promise?" said Donoghue laughing, Who was not so well versed as his friend was in chaffing. "Oh," said Flanagan Ted, who was comical rather, "They are breeches you'll get when worn out by your father." "Oh, look, Mother!" cried Pat; "all the wood seems on fire; It was first but a spark, but it now rises higher. We shall surely get burnt, for 'tis coming this way: What a flare-up to finish a grand bridal day!" But the dame felt depressed In her feelings, and guessed He was only a-joking again. So that no heed she took, No, not even a look, Although calling he still would remain. Like the boy that we read of in old Æsop's fable, He has jested till none to believe him are able. "Come, niece, give us some punch, And of cake a slight hunch, May it taste as it looks, so uncommonly nice, That I've wished for some long, But I feared 'twould be wrong, And might p'rhaps be thought greedy to ask for a slice. All the dancers, 'tis clear, Very hungry appear, And would much be refreshed by that snow-looking ice; While some hot whisky will Perhaps warm up the chill They imbibed at the draught by not taking advice." 'Twas old Jonas thus spoke, Half in earnest, half joke, The good dame from her rev'rie to rouse. But the lady felt sad, And thought just cause she had For the grief which her spirit allows.
Still the punch she prepared, Though she sharply declared She had rather not cut up the cake; For the event it should grace Had not yet taken place, And much trouble it took her to make.
"Hark! what voices are those?" Murphy cried, as he rose And went to look out at the door. But soon entered again, And admitted a train Of monks, about twenty or more. All in darkness arrayed, With their heads in a shade, Although each one a flaming torch bore. At the head of the band Marched the Abbot so grand, Whom the beaux lowly bend soon before. For him ev'ry one knows As his very best clothes, And his mitre so gorgeous he wore. Which seemed covered with gold, Then made sticky and rolled Among jewels to spangle it o'er; And which glittered so bright As they shot back the light, That most folks the real gems took them for.
Now young Patrick had noticed this monkish array, As amid the dark forest it wended its way; But as no one would answer the first time he spoke, He considered that p'rhaps it might be a good joke If the crew on the party came unawares in As they're dancing, or drinking: things deemed a great sin By the Abbot, he knows--who had vexed been right sore When he stumbled on much the same party before. And truly it did cause a little confusion, For the liquors just mixed in the greatest profusion Filled the air with a grateful perfume. But as for the present they're too hot for drinking, The ladies were sniffing the odour, and thinking, When he first had stept into the room; Though some rather too bold were near choked, by the bye, And got burnt in their fright, till a tear leaves each eye, Which their temper does rather consume.
But how sudden the spirits have vanished from sight! Far more rapid, I'm certain, than conjuring quite. For the Abbot, in spite of the scent, is believing That his nose plays him false, and has been him deceiving. Not the shade of a cork can he anywhere see, Though the kettle is boiling--it may be for tea.
But I often have seen the same trick played before When I was but a young one, about half a score, As my ma has been mending some portion of dress, (What the garment might be I will leave you to guess). If a loud double-knock has been heard at the door, Quick as thought the said garment has rolled to the floor; And been under the sofa kicked out of the way, Till the visit has ended the guest came to pay.
Now no one had spoken, Till silence was broken By the Abbot, who said,-- "Friends, I'm come to unite By the conjugal rite The young pair who would wed. But, pray, which is the bridegroom, and which is the bride?-- Are you firmly resolved, then, to have your fates tied In a very tight knot, which you neither can sever, Though you're sick of each other, as folks must get ever? As the poet so justly has said, (who so wise?) 'In the best-ordered families rows will arise.' So I'll wait a few moments, just out of humanity, Till you've thought o'er again what may prove quite insanity. Now, young bridegroom, just think--are you feeling quite sure That for life you the ways of this dame can endure; And with joy hear her chatter from morning till night (About nothing at all, mind,)--with unfeigned delight? For Plato remarks, 'That he ne'er in his life Heard an orator speak half so much as his wife. She would prate when she woke, and still chattering keep Until night, and would even then talk in her sleep.' Now, could you bear this to the end of your days, Supposing that always she spoke to your praise? Which by no means the case is, as sages declare, (For of course in such matters we priests have no share). Now I somewhere have read, but where, by mishap, Can't remember at present--the fair are a trap Made to catch the poor men, just like so many birds, With a few pretty looks and a lot of sweet words, Which persuade them to think they would not mind it much, And they yield as a prey to the feminine clutch. When, lo!--but I'll not track this sad history farther; Than e'er marry myself I would really die rather." "Sour grapes! sour grapes!" whispered Jonas, "'tis plain. But how lucky that single he still can remain! Sure I married have been thirty years, and ne'er found The discomforts with which the said state does abound." "Very likely," was Flanagan's smothered reply; "But _I've_ found all he said more than true by the bye; So it is, after all, but a matter of taste, And it really seems foolish so much time to waste. But that Murphy is mad there is less than no doubt, Or he would the young wife, not the old one seek out. For I've seen the fair damsel of whom he was speaking, As pretty a girl as you'd find, though far seeking; With such beautiful eyes, such a sweet little nose; And such neat little ankles, and delicate toes: That, though t'other's your niece, sir, you fain must agree He must have some good reasons, or lunatic be. Sure I felt much surprised when I heard he was going To marry dame Neale, for I thought he was sowing All the seeds of affection in little Joan's heart. But most likely they've quarrelled, and settled to part." "Hush," said Jonas; "the Abbot is speaking again; That a screw has got loose appears perfectly plain. How I wish I could speak with the dame all alone! I should learn rather more, then, concerning poor Joan. But he seems in a hurry to marry them, now,-- I've a good mind to stop him, but don't like a row." "Then you really intend Both your fortunes to blend Into one; And promise you'll never From each other sever Till life 's done? When as, sir, from your youth you will most like survive, To provide for these babes will you promise to strive? For, deprived of their ma, if I right understand, Most young ladies are likely to stick long on hand. Unless (and I here must the failings unfold Of the world), all their pockets are stuffed full of gold; When all other attractions--O thought most distressing! Are considered no more than the regular blessing Which the milkman bestows after measuring out The pale chalk-coloured fluid he carries about. Yes! sweet temper and truth are of little avail When proud Wealth takes his seat in the opposite scale. As the proverb declares, which we all so well know, That 'tis money alone that the mare makes to go. But of course, sir, 'twas nothing at all of this kind Which has thus to stern fate made you meekly resigned! It was love--purely love, caused your heart to prefer, From all others to flee, and reside here with her. But what's this I hear? Who dares interfere, With such racket and unseemly noise? Mr. Bridegroom go, see, (We will tarry for thee), Please to flog 'em if 'tis your two boys." Then not one of them spoke, Though all thought 'twas some joke Of that monkey, young Patrick O'Neale, Till the urchin they saw Fast asleep on the floor, Where he fled in the hopes to conceal The disguise he still wore, For he felt more and more That the wrath of the Abbot he'd feel.
"Let me go! let me go!" cried a voice from without; And up many arose from their seats to rush out, When a female dashed through, cast her eyes swift around, ntAnd exhausted fell down, overwhelmed, to the ground, At the feet of the dame, who was too much affected To afford the assistance the fair one expected.
[Illustration: And exhausted fell down.]
"It is Joan! it is Joan!" ran in whispers about, And in truth on that subject there seemed little doubt; For poor Murphy kept popping his head in and out, Till the Abbot requested he'd walk in instead, When he took to his heels and ran off with his head, And as fast out of sight as a pickpocket fled. "Fetch him back!" cried the Abbot, in thundering tone, And far swifter than light'ning the monks out have flown; Oh, such speed you'd have thought that they never could own! It is true that old Peter kept quite in the rear, Still he bustled along though without an idea Of beholding the sport till his friends brought it near. Yet 'tis true (though you choose to believe it or not), He was one of the first to return to the spot When the captors their pris'ner in safe keeping had got.
Now all through this commotion the beautiful maid Veiled her face in her hands, as if really afraid To encounter the gaze of the numbers of eyes Which she felt stared upon her with unfeigned surprise. So reclining she sat on the brick-covered floor, And so mournfully sobbed, 'twould have made your heart sore To behold one so tender, so young, and so fair Almost broken in heart, and nigh crushed by despair; Nearly out of her mind, and without an idea Of what she should do, now she's found them out here. Then again silence reigned, And each tongue still remained, Till the monks back returned With their captive, held tight, Who seemed breathless with fright, While his face fiercely burned, Like a red-hot coal blowed, Which to all plainly showed He had punishment earned. For the Abbot was one who but rarely had missed The least chance that he had of his toe getting kissed. Not exactly saluting his bunions, I mean, But of causing his sway to be visibly seen. By all other folks humbling he thought he should rise, So had made it a point all the world to despise; Ev'ry small fault exposing which hidden might pass, Was tracked out like a snake by the trail in the grass. "Sir, I'm sorry," he said, in a sarcastic tone, "If from other appointments I keep you: unknown To my sight till this hour you perhaps may have been, Still your character now I have readily seen; And would say a few words ere we part for the night, On a subject perhaps you can give us some light. Be so kind as to give that young lady a seat." But before he could move Joan had rose to her feet, And exclaimed, "Oh, base man! you might well flee with shame! 'Twas to warn these good people I hitherward came. Oh, how could you thus serve me, who lov'd you so dearly! Whom you promised to wed once or twice--very nearly. Is it thus all our kindness and trust you repay? Such ingratitude never I met till to-day. Still I'll wish you no worse, but your heart may relent, And for all the grief caused me may quickly repent." Then again into tears she was melting away, Having said all she had for the present to say. While her beautiful hair (dark and soft as black silk) Trickled down her fair neck (whiter far than new milk) In the greatest disorder, without comb or pin; For to be in good time, such a haste she was in; And unto the dame to support her she clung-- With her head on her shoulder, her face downward hung; For the crimson tide rising rushed through ev'ry vein, With a pang piercing sharper than actual pain.
"Come, Sir, Mr. Bridegroom, or whatever 's your name, Let me hear some excuse which shall ward off the blame Which you richly deserve, if appearance tells true. But they say--and their saying shall benefit you-- That folks ought not to go by appearances ever, But should judge from plain facts, as more law-like and clever. So I'll hear all you have, sir, to say in defence Of what seems to these ladies a serious offence."
Now, between you and I, the good Abbot enjoys This dispute quite as much as a child does his toys; And his eyes wander oft to the beautiful maid, To whose cause he inclines, I am sadly afraid. And so too you would feel if your heart be not stone, Though, like him, p'rhaps the feeling you'd not care to own. Still I'm sure your compassion would so far arise, That you'd lend her your kerchief to wipe up her eyes; And would feel much inclined, and with justice, I'm fearing, To condemn the poor culprit before his case hearing.
But he speaks! and relates all he stated before, And declares he ne'er promised to marry her, nor Had said anything pointed, to give her to think That his fate unto hers he was wishing to link. "Stop--I did call her pretty, one time, by the bye, But she took not the trouble my words to deny; So 'tis plain she thought them not so out of the way, But a kind of a tribute that folks ought to pay. Then I lived in the house, and so might once have kissed her, For I treated her just as if she'd been my sister; Going out with her walks when she wanted fresh air, And by treating her always at every fair."
Now I've heard a remark, which I know to be true, That a man is no judge of the kind of a view Which a sister presents to unprejudiced eyes. For I've seen brothers stare with a look of surprise When I talked of a sister, and thought I would flatter If I made a remark, or but cast a glance at her. I, by chance, once myself made this very mistake (Near as awkward a one as a man can well make), For I have a few sisters, but never once thought Them much out of the way, till more properly taught. They explained I was wrong, and I could not well doubt it, For they proved that I really knew nothing about it.
Now in just this position was poor Murphy placed, He could scarcely perceive Joan was prettily faced; She was handy, he knew, in the kitchen and dairy, But for beauty--he thought that tastes widely must vary. It was living together so long, I suppose, Made him blind to the charms of this beautiful rose. For he's not what folks call a man really hard-hearted, And his conscience now pricked him, and terribly smarted, As he thought on the kindness she ever had shown him Since the days of his boyhood, when first she had known him.
Then the dame was asked next, If she aught had to say; She look'd sad, much perplexed, And her head turned away As she said, "On my word, Till to-day I ne'er saw, No, nor even have heard Of this maiden before. Still it seems very plain She was first in the field; So her rights she shall gain, For all claims I now yield. She has loved him, it seems, all her life pretty nigh, So I'm sure she deserves him far better than I, Who all hope--yea, the wish--now for ever resign Of beholding young Murphy a bridegroom of mine. Unless (and she here had a slight tickling cough), Your rev'rence think right I should keep to my troth."
"Please to stop," said the priest; "this is pretty, no doubt; Still when Justice begins she must have her say out. We have well scanned the subject on every side, But have not yet decreed which by law is the bride; Though, as some great philosopher wisely observed, 'They who come up the first ought to be the first served.' While the difference of ages compels me to fear, That a storm will arise ere the close of the year; For of course the old lady must have her own way, As 'age before honesty goes,' the folks say. It is true she may not get the like chance again; But she's had her turn once, so must patient remain. Unless that the jury, when packed, shall think best To remake her a wife, and deny her request."
Then the jurors were chose, But so plainly he shows How the guests cannot impartial be, That such aid they refuse, And the number out choose From eyes that unprejudiced see. Who like peers soon pair out, To consider about In whose favour they ought to agree. Now what thrilling suspense! (To poor Joan how intense!) To the rest in a lesser degree.-- All but Murphy, who ne'er Seemed to have the least care What Fate or what Justice decree. But the Jury return, and the maid droops her head, While her fair bosom heaves with a feeling of dread; As nigh breathless she listens the verdict to hear, Which shall fill her with transports of pleasure or fear. "And pray what's your decision?" the Abbot inquired; In the tones of a pig who has, murdered, expired. "Have you settled the point who the fair bride's to be? They seem terribly anxious to hear your decree." Then a very tall man with a very sharp nose, All their wisdom united and cleverness shows, "'Tis the young one, we think, is by justice the bride, So we deem it our duty on her to decide." Then again a loud shout Ran the chamber throughout, While the maiden had fainted with bliss Had not Murphy arose, Who both arms round her throws, And revives her at once with a kiss; And whispers that once he but loved as a brother, But now is most anxious to love as some other.
But the Abbot, of course, must again interfere. Loud he calls, "Mr. Culprit, just step, sir, up here; And you, monks, keep your eyes on the door. For our sentence is this,--that the maiden you wed; Yes, and live with her too till you're dead, sir--quite dead. Oh, you ne'er shall escape from her more! And Miss Bride, you'll oblige by just letting me know If he does not behave himself properly, so I may think of some punishment sore. Now, before I unite In the conjugal rite This unhappy young pair, Is there any one here Has the slightest idea Of a like rash affair? If there is, I advise, Ere the chance from him flies, That he hither repair. For, as Romulus said, you should never delay Till to-morrow what can be as well done to-day. For delays dang'rous are, as the widow can prove, And time never returns, but is still on the move." Then he silent remained, as if buried in thought, While his eyelids dropt down as if slumber they sought; Till the beautiful Clare, by young Flanagan Ted (Her long-betrothed lover), was joyfully led. When "Ah!" he exclaimed; and again closed his eyes, Just to ponder, no doubt, on some subject more wise;-- On the frailty, perhaps, of the masculine sex, Who allow pretty faces their thoughts to perplex, And their hearts twirl about like a conjurer's plate, While they kindly persuade them they can't avoid Fate. "O dear May! dearest May!" Whispered Samuel Delhay; "I scarce know what I say, But just listen, I pray. I've loved you so dearly, A twelvemonth or nearly, Most truly, sincerely,-- Not for your looks merely, But the bewitching grace In each action I trace; With which no charm keeps pace But your beautiful face. Oh, if you would hear me! To be ever near me! What joy would then cheer me! Though trembling I fear me, Lest you now should say Nay; Your dear face turn away, Or should wish for delay, Which were death to obey." Then May blushed crimson deep, While her eyes downward keep, As she seems most intensely to think. Till her gaze slily peeps; Tow'rds her mother it creeps, Who she saw nearly audibly wink. Then, no more time to waste, In his hands hers she placed, Who appeared with such rapture possess'd That he screamed with delight, Put poor May in a fright, And exceedingly startled each guest.
"Is there no one else then to be married, I pray? Mr. Hymen is not found at work every day," Said the Abbot; "can no other man boast a heart? Have you all really 'scaped from young What's-his-name's dart?" Just as if he was only essaying to fill Up the number required to form a quadrille; And had cried, Take your partners, and no more time waste, You young people might surely make rather more haste.
"Oh, pray catch me! Oh, dear! I'm so dreadfully queer-- I shall faint--I shall die-- I must have a good cry"-- Said Miss Riley, who could not her feelings command, As she seized and kept hold of young Donoghue's hand. "Shall you tell them? Oh, no; Though I'm very so-so. And my heart beats so fast, It will sure burst at last. No! 'tis useless cold water to throw on my grief, Far too deep are my sorrows for such a relief. Oh, could you but feel What my tongue must reveal-- How much I love you, My dear Donoghue! Your heart surely would melt, though it very hard aint, And you'd try all you could to relieve my complaint." "Well," thinks he, "I don't care, Though in truth she's not fair; Still there's hundreds far worse, that I'm sure." So he said, "You're so kind, Miss, I'd fain ease your mind; But why did you not speak up before? For you really have taken me quite by surprise, Though great presence of mind at emergence will rise. Still, be quick; for should we by some chance be too late, I must leave you to struggle alone with your fate."
But the course of true love it can never run smooth, As this tale will, as others, undoubtedly prove. There is always some guardian, or cruel old Pa, Who won't give his consent; or some tiresome Ma, Who don't think the young man is quite well enough off For her beautiful daughter to wed; and so forth. Now old Donoghue tries all he can to find out What so busies his son, till he leaps out of doubt, And jumps at the conclusion, which proves to be true, That he means to get married the old maid unto. "I won't give my consent!" he exclaims in a rage; "And you shall not yourselves to each other engage. I'll disinherit you sure if you dare to resist My commands, and shall still in this madness persist." "Oh, oh! what's the matter? What means all this clatter?" Said the Abbot, who seemed much amused; "It is really too bad! Sure the man must be mad: Such an offer, what maid could refuse? Sir, you'd better allow me for life to provide For your child, by converting her into a bride. As her poor little heart will undoubtedly break, If you cruelly make her her first love forsake." "But it is not a daughter," the other replied; "'Tis the man is my boy, who, if now he decide To be snared by yon penniless girl, for himself Must look out, for no finger he lays on my wealth." "Well, that alters the case; But I really must own That, were I in your place, I would leave them alone, For Love's arrows sink deep, and our heart's blood they quaff, While the little wretch dares at e'en locksmiths to laugh. So it really is wiser to give your consent, For you know you can't really the marriage prevent. For what's gold, may I ask, when its charms you compare With bright smiles, with such looks, and with features so fair? And, besides, the young people are quite old enough To decide for themselves; and advice would seem stuff And great nonsense, I fear, to their prejudiced ears; For their eyes are so blinded they won't see your fears." Then the old man sat down With a dark gloomy frown, As he muttered he never would give them a "brown." But the obstinate son Could be ruled o'er by none; When he made up his mind he would have a thing done. So he still stood his ground, And the fearful maid found That she now had a chance of her fate getting bound; Not just stitched, or bound half, But quite whole bound with calf. How she chuckles with joy, as she grins forth a laugh! As she says the few words which proclaim her the wife Of as stupid a man as e'er lived out a life!
Now the eight are but four, for a pair forms but one; They have each one been halved, so they all are undone. Though the ladies of course (now pray don't make a jest of it), As the bettermost half, have for ever the best of it. Having two votes to one in nigh every dispute, And as much more to say if their words you compute.
See, the bridegrooms are kissing their beautiful brides, Who a kiss too receive from the Abbot besides. All but Dame Donoghue, who by chance seems forgot; Or, perhaps, he had thought he had much rather not. Then the Abbot and train prepare to go; They fall into ranks in a double row; While the chief, at their head, walks on before, Without ere a word or a syllable more. But old Peter just tarries behind to state Why the Abbot had come there, and why so late. He had noticed the monk who was rambling out, And, inquiring, had learnt all the facts about. When to Peter's surprise he declared his mind, That to marry the couple he felt inclined. "I was very much vexed that he tarried so late, As I feared that for me you might probably wait. For I know very well, without being told twice, That when victuals are tepid they're not very nice. But I now must be gone; he will miss me, I fear; Though 'twould pleasure me much to await awhile here."
Then young Patrick O'Neal out of pity, or jest, Took the half of a duck, which with onions was drest, And to old Peter gave it, unseen by the rest; Who declared he of boys was undoubted the best. Then he passed through the door and was soon with the throng Who by torchlight were marching the forest along. And 'twas lucky he did; for the Abbot inquired After him, who to walk by his side he desired. When a lecture he gave which the folly proved quite Of rich dainties employing to cure appetite. "They're the seed," he remarked, "of nigh ev'ry disease Which frail mortals invent, them to rob of their ease. What is gout, may I ask, but these victuals condensed And forced into the blood to create pain intense? Then, just look at your teeth; when compared with a brute, They're surpassed quite as much as a flower does its root. One is even, as smooth, and as white as a nut; While the other is jagged, and blacker than soot. Slow decaying away, from the poisonous food, Which, to pleasure the palate, the victims have chewed. Still, in spite the result, as of sense quite bereft, They persist, like the lunatics lately I've left. I can't drive the _foul_ smell from my nose," he exclaimed; "The effluvia such hold on my sense has obtained."
Then weeks and weeks rolled slowly by, And nothing strange had met the eye. The birds had ris'n every morn, And frightened been from off the corn. The bees had sipped the flow'ry juice, Preparing it for private use. The sheep had parted with their fleece; They held it on uncertain lease. The fruit had all been plucked, or fell, And made more ill than tongue can tell. The golden grain by reapers' care, Had strewn the rich fields everywhere; And filled the barns with Nature's store, For winter's use when summer's o'er. For Autumn's sunny days are past, And gloomy clouds are gathering fast. While northern gales assail the trees, Their treasures scattering to the breeze. Poor Peter, through unlucky fate, Has not been fishing out of late. He cannot fly that fearful dream, Which in the dusky night will seem To float before his slumb'ring gaze To fright his heart, and thoughts amaze. The Abbot fills him, too, with fear; He fancies he is always near, He cannot from his presence get, But feels like some one dunn'd for debt. And trembles when he meets those eyes That love to catch him by surprise.
But dogs can't always watchful keep; Most wide-awake men sometimes sleep; And Peter gains a short respite From thoughts which needlessly affright. For really he was watched by none, Save what his conscience may have done.
O day of bliss! O joyful day! The Abbot hastens far away, And comes not back till morrow's night! Old Peter seems delighted quite. "I will dine and will sup too off Jack," said he; "Nicely lined with veal stuffing. What joy! what glee! Let me see, where's my tackle? In yonder hole; I must catch a few gudgeon and have a troll. O I know a snug spot where the river runs deep, And there I will be ere they wake from their sleep. I will see that their breakfast is nicely made, And that, also, the reckoning's duly paid.
* * * * *
_CHAPTER THE EIGHTH._
The morn was dull when Peter rose; And stormy, like the north wind blows; While the dark sky too plainly shows Ere long there will be rain. "But still," thinks he; "I'll go in spite; 'Twill sharpen up their appetite, And make them all the better bite; Such chance to lose gives pain. I tarry may a month or more, Till Christmas comes perchance, before I shall another day secure; If so, I'll go again. Then, with what food he could procure, He hurried through the Abbey door; But oft looked back to make quite sure; His fears were really vain.
Pray, angling reader, was it ne'er your fate, When fish were biting to be short of bait? Have you ne'er roked about in terra-firma To find a grub, a chrysalis, a worm--or For e'en a grasshopper searched o'er a field Which would not e'en a caterpillar yield, While droves of perch, impatient to be hooked, Have vainly round for some temptation looked?
Now, in such a position was poor Peter placed; He had flown to the river in very great haste. Still, although he had sought out a gravelly nook, But a pair of young gudgeons approached near his hook. In the space of an hour--so a trimmer he set; While he tried, though in vain, a few others to get. "There's a bite! there's a bite! see the reel how it turns!" He exclaimed, and his face with excitement fierce burns, "Ah, it now has stopt short! 'tis to pouch it," he thought; "Look! 'tis running again, and the fellow is caught!" But, alas! when he struck, to his grief and dismay He discovered, the jack had his bait torn away. "O how foolish," he said; "it was of me to throw That fine gudgeon away! I might guess 'twould be so. I detest using live bait, you're certain to lose them, For it seems the fish think they're put to amuse them, And away he will drag them, or into bits chews them-- Just avoiding the hook, which might stick in their teeth. Oh, their cunning it really surpasses belief! One would think they were brought up from birth as a thief. But I'll try trolling now, as they seem on the feed, They must swallow the hook if the bait they then heed. But vain his hope, though time away Skips fast; the fish admire delay, And scarce to him attention pay. Perchance, his want of skill they saw, And from destruction quick withdraw To where they may their lives insure.
'Tis but midday, yet darkness shrouds the sky, For clouds of blackness furiously roll by. The watery sun has fled, but not to rest-- Behind a cloud which overflows the West-- The distant thunder strikes the list'ning ear, And streams of lightning pour down far and near. Yet still dame Nature grasps the slippery rains, Who, struggling, long to scour the dusty plains.
But all these signs of tempest are forgot As soon as seen, or p'rhaps are heeded not, By our friend Peter, for behold his line Gently unrolls and cleaves a watery mine. With patient, anxious, fate-imploring look, He trembling hopes that now his laden hook May sink low down into the dark abyss, Midst fishes' entrails, where it cannot miss Its deadly hold; and where, till life shall fly, The barbèd hook immoveable may lie. But, oh! his chicks he counts before they're hatched, For by his foe, in skill, he's more than matched, (The scaly monster,) who at length of line, The close acquaintance sharply does decline. He tugged, it pulled, but all, alas! was vain, For one on t'other not an inch could gain. First Peter, winding, thought his foe waxed faint, But quickly Jack untwisting--cried, "I aint." Thus passed an hour, but still he keeps the water, Though Peter stormed, and vowed he'd give no quarter When land he reached; but Jack thought all this fun, And cried "No quarter! I'll 'scape whole or none." Then the friar, impatient, began to use force, When his line snapt in two, as a matter of course.
[Illustration: The Friar, impatient, began to use force.]
Oh! how then enraged, from his head he tore The little of hair that his cropped pate bore, As he flung himself down out of breath to the ground, And furious raved at each object around. While such very bad words at the fish he said, That I'm sure they should never in print be read. For, pray why should a muse, for amusement who sings, Fill her kind readers' mouth with another's foul things. 'Tis a fault I lament, so I'll not have a share in The habit some have of quotation in swearing. In heavy drops the water now descends; And earth with sky the darkening torrent blends. Which soaking through the friar, tries to cool His anger, and persuade him he's a fool. "But still," said he; "I will not leave in spite, Till one I've caught, although the coming night Shall fling down shadows to obscure my sight; Here will I stop until they choose to bite."
Then Time rushed past, but unsuccessful still His firm resolve he tarries to fulfil. While louder yet the tempest wildly roars, And drives the torrent o'er surrounding shores. Whence down, resistless, onward bounding hurls The bubbling current, and like whirlpool curls. The frightened fish, too nervous, far, to feed, Dive down and hide beneath a battered reed. Yet to measure the stream with his line he persists, Though his arms they feel sprained, and ache down to the wrists; And the darkness of night appeared really approaching, As quick shade after shade on his light came encroaching.
But, wearied now, the rain gives o'er the fight, Though thundering clouds have not expended quite Their rumbling yet; and oft the forkèd light Illumes the stream, which to the friar shows How high the waters o'er its margin flows.
It is supper-time now, and a fish growing bold, On the bait as it neared him caught suddenly hold. How the fisherman grins as the cord outward rolled, Though he shivers, and all his teeth chatter with cold. "How it runs! how it runs! like an arrow it flies! I am certain," he said; "'tis a fish of great size. For my patience, though late, I shall still gain a prize. Sure, I think, it down straight Must have swallowed the bait; For, of line but a few yards are left. I must strike, or I fear They will too, disappear, And he then may walk off with his theft." 'Twas a capital stroke, But his top-joint he broke, So he seizes the line with his hand. And then works it about, Till he's tired quite out, For the fish seems averse to the land. "Patience, patience!" he said, Talking inside his head; "Have you not tried for hours, and have yet taken naught? Then be patient and wait, Though it p'rhaps may be late, Still the fish at the end of your line is half caught."
An hour passed, and every gleam of light Flies, with the sun afraid of gloomy night. Yet still our friend is in the selfsame plight, The fish is lively, though he's wearied quite. And shakes, not now with cold alone, but fright, For every tree he fancies is a sprite. His sport, I fear, is not unmix'd delight. He once or twice had drawn the line up tight, And thought by strength to drag the fish out right, But feared that, p'rhaps, it like the other might Escape; so slackening, granted a respite To Jack, who, rushing forth with new delight, Seemed much astonished at this act polite.
Another hour! and lively as before The pike appears; while Peter, wearied sore, With itching fingers longs his fate to try, Yet dares not stand the hazard of the die. But with a dash the fish the die has cast, For through his hand the slippery line ran fast; And, tangling 'mongst his fingers, drew him close The rapid stream; which o'er its banks had rose, A slip, a plunge, headforemost in the tide He dived; then rising--vainly struggling--tried To reach the bank; but not a ray of light Appeared to guide; so deeper in his fright He sank; while waves fast closing o'er his head, In murmurings whispered, that all hope had fled. Then down the stream, still powerful and strong, The fish his breathless body drags along.
* * * * *
Now in case that my tale may to some appear dry, I will draw some more-ales,--fine old ones, by the bye; Though, I fear, there are many who will not admire them, As they suit not those palates who mostly require them. First, young gentlemen all, never mind what degree, Whether lowly or high, or whoever you be, If you're but fond of fishing, I beg that you'll tricks shun; If you're not, you're beneath me and my jurisdiction. Still I'll draw you a glass which will pay for inspection, As whene'er it is looked at it yields some reflexion. Though the draught may be bitter, the faculty back it, So just make up your mind,--a bold face, and stomach it; For there's more in the dose than aware of you are, As the old ancient said when he poisoned his Ma. My advice, if wishing You are to go fishing, Is beforehand permission to get From your father, or master, Or, if such things you past are, You had better, I think, seek it yet From the man in possession, Who might use some expression Unpolite, if by chance he you met Treading down his long grass, In your hurry to pass To the river, your tackle to wet. Oh, it vexes one sore to be ordered to go! Quick to make one's self scarce! I have oft found it so; And have felt much inclined, as I quarrelled with Fate, To chuck in the old fellow instead of ground bait. But, if haply you 'scape from his telescope sight You will ever be losing some relishing bite While your gazing around, as he probably might (Popping upon you unseen), make you jump in a fright.
Now to those men who dare Fish on Sundays--"Beware," I would say; "and take very great care Lest a fish of great size, Take you off by surprise, And before you're aware should effect your demise." But, a few words to anglers in general, still I would say, ere my inkstand I close, then my quill Must return to his duty, and figure away, And keep humbly a-summing accounts which won't pay: If a fish should get loose, Which, p'rhaps, grumblers may choose, From your line, what's the use, May I ask, of abuse, Though it may be the largest has broken away? Will an oath for a moment persuade it to stay? You remind me of perch, who, regardless of Fate, Often bite at a hook though quite guiltless of bait; So that anglers who angry become when they roam, Lest their tempers they lose had best leave them at home. As to low vulgar jests, which some think wit impart, They appear like the muck which o'erflows a mud cart. It is strange, though a fact, that a fisherman ever, Although skilful he be, and remarkably clever, Will be forced to confess, when by questions he's crossed, That the largest of fish in its landing was lost. Yes, 'tis always the best 'mong a number will stray, Or get lost, let the articles be what they may. I, in even a buss, have oft proved that 'tis so, For the prettiest girl would be sure first to go.
But a few moments more I for patience implore,-- In behalf of your victims I speak; And would beg when you draw Them up on to the shore, You at once for their lifetime would seek. Still, kind Reader, think not, though it so, p'rhaps, may look, I'm like Johnson, who wrote out that fine-meaning book, Who would angling define as a stick and a string, Which a worm and a fool into close contact bring. No! The sport I admire, and when the fish will but bite, 'Tis a feeling which almost amounts to delight. Though a trifling addition will heighten, indeed, The pleasure, I mean, if some nice girl would read Out aloud by your side, and would shadow your eyes From the sun, and away drive the flies With her neat parasol. I have asked, but must state I could never persuade one to stick on the bait. Though some ladies I know who can pull out a fish With as much skill and science as Walton could wish.
Kind Reader, now, my parting bow With many thanks I make, For patience shown; though, overgrown, Much space the morals take. Still, I beg to remark, they're not meant for you, Who have quietly waded their deep meaning through, But for those who exclaim, "O what humbug! what stuff!" Who, though not at all wise, find one word quite enough.
London: Printed by G. BARCLAY, Castle St. Leicester Sq.