Legends and Stories of Ireland, by Samuel Lover, [1831, 1834], at sacred-texts.com
DURING a sojourn of some days in the county of--, visiting a friend, who was anxious to afford as much amusement to his guests as country sports could furnish, "the dog and gun" were, of course, put into requisition; and the subject of this sketch was a constant attendant on the shooting-party.
He was a tall, loose-made, middle-aged man, rather on the elder side of middle-age, perhaps--fond of wearing an oil-skinned hat and a red waistcoat--much given to lying and tobacco, and an admirable hand at filling a game-bag or emptying a whisky-flask; and if game was. scarce in the stubbles, Paddy was sure to create plenty of another sort for his master's party, by the marvellous stories he had ever at his command. Such was "Paddy the Sport," as the country people invariably called him. Paddy was fond of dealing in mystification, which he practised often on the peasants, whom he looked upon as an inferior class of beings to himself--considering that his office of sportsman conferred a rank upon him that placed him considerably above them, to say nothing of the respect that was due to one so adroit in the use of the gun as himself; and by the way, It was quite a scene to watch the air of sell-complacency that Paddy, after letting fly both barrels into a covey, and dropping his brace of birds as dead as a stone, quietly let down the piece from his shoulder and commenced reloading, looking about him the while with an admirable carelessness, and when his piece was ready for action again, returning his ramrod with the air of a master, and then, throwing the gun into the hollow of his arm, walk forward to the spot where the birds were lying, and pick them up in the most business-like manner.
But to return to Paddy's love of mystification. One day I accompanied him, or perhaps it would be fitter to say he acted as guide, in leading me across a country to a particular point, where I wanted to make a sketch. His dogs and gun, of course, bore him company, though I was only armed with my portfolio; and we beat across the fields, merrily enough, until the day became overcast, and a heavy squall of wind and rain forced us to seek shelter in the first cottage we arrived at. Here the good woman's apron was employed in dusting a three-legged stool to offer to "the gintleman," and "Paddy the Sport" was hailed with welcome by everyone in the house, with whom he entered into conversation in his usual strain of banter and mystification.
I listened for some time to the passing discourse; but the bad weather still continuing, I began to amuse myself, until it should clear, in making an outline of a group of dogs that were stretched upon the floor of the cabin, in a small green-covered sketching-book that I generally carry about me for less important memoranda. This soon caused a profound silence around me; the silence was succeeded by a broken whispering, and Mr. Paddy, at last approaching me with a timidity of manner I could not account for, said: "Sure, sir, it wouldn't be worth your while to mind puttin' down the pup?" pointing to one that had approached the group of dogs, and had commenced his awkward gambols with his seniors.
I told him I considered the pup as the most desirable thing to notice; but scarcely were the words uttered, until the old woman cried out: "Terry, take that cur out o' that--I'm sure I don't know what brings all the dogs here;" and Terry caught up the pup in his arms, and was running away with him, when I called alter him to stop; but 'twas in vain. He ran like a hare from me; and the old lady, seizing a branch of a furze-bush from a heap of them that were stowed beside the chimney-corner for fuel, made an onset on the dogs, and drove them yelping from the house.
I was astonished at this, and perceived that the air of everyone in the cottage was altered towards me; and, instead of the civility which had saluted my entrance, estranged looks, or direct ones of no friendly character, were too evident, I was about to inquire the cause, when Paddy the Sport; going to the door, and casting a weather-wise look abroad, said: "I think, sir, we may as well be goin'--and indeed, the day's clearin' up fine afther all, and 'ill be beautiful yit. Good-bye to you, Mrs. Flannerty "--and off went Paddy; and I followed immediately, having expressed my thanks to the aforesaid Mrs. Flannerty, making my most engaging adieu, which, however, was scarcely returned.
On coming up with my conductor, I questioned him touching what the cause might be of the strange alteration in the manner of the cottagers, but all his answers were unsatisfactory or evasive.
We pursued our course to the point of destination. The day cleared, as was prophesied--Paddy killed his game--I made my sketch--and we bent our course homeward as the evening was closing. After proceeding for a mile or two, I pointed to a tree in the distance, and asked Paddy what very large bird it could be that was sitting in it.
After looking sharply for some time, he said: "It a bird, is it?--throth, it's a bird that never flew yet."
"What is it, then?" said I.
"It's a dog that's hangin'," said he.
And he was right--for as we approached, it became more evident every moment. But my surprise was excited when, having scarcely passed the suspended dog, another tree rose up in my view, in advance, decorated by a pendent brace of the same breed.
"By the powers! there's two more o' thim," shouted Paddy. "Why, at this rate, they've had more sportin' nor myself," said he. And I could see an expression of mischievous delight playing over the features of Mr. Paddy as he uttered the sentence.
As we proceeded, we perceived almost every second bush had been converted into a gallows for the canine race; and I could not help remarking to my companion that we were certainly in a very hang-dog country.
"Throth, thin, you may thank yourself for it," said he, laughing outright; for up to this period his mirth, though increasing at every fresh execution perceived, had been smothered.
"Thank myself!" said I--" how?'
"By my sowl, you frekened the whole country this mornin'," said he, " with that little green book of yours--."
"Is it my sketch-book?" said I.
"By gor, all the people thought it was a ketch-book, sure enough, and that you wor goin' round the counthry to ketch all the dogs in it, and make thim pay--"
"What do you mean?" said I.
"Is it what I mane you want to know, sir?--throth, thin, I don't know how I can tell it to a gintleman, at all, at all."
"Oh, you may tell me."
"By gor, sir, I wouldn't like offindin' your honour; but you see (since you must know, sir), that whin you tuk that little green book out iv your pocket, they tuk you for--savin' your presence--by gor, I don't like tellin' you."
"Tut, nonsense, man," said I.
"Well, sir (since you must know), by dad, they tuk you--I beg your honour's pardon--but, by dad, they tuk you for a tax-gatherer."
"Divil a lie in it; and whin they seen you takin' off the dogs, they thought it was to count thim, for to make thim pay for thim; and so, by dad, they thought it best, I suppose, to hang them out o' the way."
"Ha! Paddy," said I, "I see this is a piece of your knavery, to bewilder the poor people."
"Is it me?" says Paddy, with a look of assumed innocence, that avowed, in the most provoking manner, the inward triumph of Paddy in his own hoax.
"'Twas too much, Paddy," said I, "to practise so far on innocent people."
"Innocent!" said Paddy. "They're just about as innocent as a coal o' fire in a bag o' flax."
"And the poor animals, too!" said!.
"Is it the blackguard curs?" said Paddy, in the most sportsmanlike wonder at my commiserating any but a spaniel or pointer. "Throth, thin, sir, to tell you thruth, I let thim go an in their mistake, and I seen all along how 'twould be, and, 'pon my conscience, but a happy riddance the counthry will have o' sich riff-raff varmint of cabin curs. Why, sir, the mangy mongrels goes about airly in the sayson, moroding through the corn, and murthers the young birds and does not let them come to their full time, to be killed in their nath'ral way, and ruinin' gintlemen's sport into the bargain, and sure, hangin' is all that's good for them."
So much for Paddy's mystifying powers. Of this coup he was not a little vain, and many a laugh he has made at my expense afterwards, by telling the story of the "painter gintleman that was mistuk for a tax-gatherer."
Paddy being a professed story-teller, and a notorious liar, it may be naturally inferred that he dealt largely in fairy-tales and ghost-stories. Talking of fairies one day, for the purpose of exciting him to say something of them, I inquired if there were many fairies in that part of the country?
"Ah! no, sir!" said he, with the air of a sorrowing patriot--"not now. There was wanst a power of fairies used to keep about the place; but sence the rale quol'ty--the good ould families--has left it, and the upstarts has kem into it--the fairies has quitted it all out, and wouldn't stay here, but is gone farther back into Connaught, where the ould blood is."
"But I daresay you have seen them sometimes?"
"No, indeed, air. I never saw thim, barrin' wanst, and that was whin I was a boy; but I heerd them often."
"How did you know it was fairies you heard?"
"Oh, what else could it be? Sure, it was crossin' out over a road I was in the time o' the ruction, and heard full a thousand men marchin' down the road, and by dad, I lay down in the gripe o' the ditch, not wishin' to be seen, nor liken to be throublesome to thim; and I watched who they wor, and was peepin' out iv a turf o' rishes, when what should I see but nothin' at all, to all appearance, but the thrampin' o' min, and a claishin' and a jinglin', that you'd think the infanthry and yeomanthry and cavalthry was in it, and not a sight iv anything to be seen but the brightest o' moonlight that ever kem out o' the hivins."
"And that was all?"
"Divil a more; and by dad, 'twas more nor I'd like to see or bear agin"
"But you never absolutely saw any fairies?"
"Why, indeed, sir, to say that I seen thim, that'is with my own eyes, wouldn't be thrue, barrin wanst, as I said before, and that's many a long day ago, whin I was a boy, and I and another chap was watchin' turf in a bog; and whin the night was fallin' and we were goin' home, 'What would you think,' says I, 'Charley, if we wor to go home by old Shaughnessey's field, and stale a shafe o' pays?' So he agreed, and off we whit to stale the pays; but whin we got over the fince, and was creepin' along the furrows for fear of bein' seen, I heerd some one runnin' afther me, and I thought we wor cotch, myself and the boy, and I turned round, and with that I seen two girls dhressed in white--throth I never see sitch white in my born days--they wor as white as the blown snow, and runnin' like the wind, and I knew at wanst that they wor fairies, and I threw myself down an my face, and by dad, I was afeard to lockup for nigh half an hour."
I inquired of him what kind of faces these fine girls had.
"Oh, the divil a stim o' their faytures I could see, for the minit I clapt my eyes an thim, knowin' they wor fairies, I fell down, and darn't look at them twicet."
"It was a pity you did not remark them," said I.
"And do you think it's a fool l am, to look twicet at a fairy, and maybe have my eyes whipt out iv my head, or turned into stones, or stone blind, which is all as one."
"Then you can scarcely say you saw them?" said I.
"Oh, by dad, I can say I seen thim, and aware it for that matther; at laste, there was somethin' I seen as white as the blown snow."
"Maybe they were ghosts, and not fairies," said I. "Ghosts, they say, are always seen in white."
"Oh, by all that's good, they warn't ghosts, and that I know full well, for I know the differ betune ghosts and fairies."
"You have had experience, then, in both, I suppose."
"Faix, you may say that. Oh, I had a wondherful great appearance wanst that kem to me, or at laste to the house where I was, for, to be sure, it wasn't to me it kem--why should it? But it was whin I was livin' at the lord's in the next county, before I kem to live with his honour here, that I saw the appearance?'
"In what shape did it come?"
"Throth, thin, I can't well tell you what shape; for you see whin I heerd it comin' I put my head undher the clothes, and never looked up, nor opened my eyes until I heard it was gone."
"But how do you know that it was a ghost?"
"Oh, sure, all the counthry knew the house was throubled, and indeed, that was the raison I had for lavin' it, for when my lord turned me off he was expectin' that I'd ax to be tuk back agin, and faith, sorry he was, I go bail, that I didn't, but I wouldn't stay in the place and it hanted!"
"Then It was haunted!"
"To be sure it was; sure, I tell you, sir, the sper't kem to me."
"Well, Paddy that was only civil--returning a visit; for I know you are fond of going to the spirits occasionally."
"Musha, bud your honour is always jokin' me about the dhrop. Oh, bud faith, the sper't kem to me, and whin I hid my head undher the clothes, sure, didn't I feel the sper't sthrivin' to pull them aff o' me. But wait and I'll tell you how it was. You see, myself and another sarvant was sleepin' in one room, and by the same token, a thievin' rogue he was the same sarvant, and I heerd a step comin' down the stairs, and they wor stone stairs, and the latch was riz, but the door was locked, for I turned 'the key in it myself; and when the sper't seen the latch was fast, by dad, the key was turned in the door (though it was inside, av coorse), and the sper't walked in, and I' heerd the appearance walkin' about the place, and it kem and shuk me; but as I tould you, I shut my eyes, and rowled my head up in the clothes; well, with that it went and raked the fire, (for I suppose it was cowld), but the fire was a'most gone out, and with that it went to the turf-bucket to see if there was any sod there to throw an the fire; but not a sod there was left, for we wor sittin' up late indeed (it being the young lord's birthday, and we wor drinkin' his health), and when it couldn't find any turf in the bucket, bad cess to me, but it began to kick the buckets up and down the room for spite, and divil sich a clatter I ever heerd as the sper't made, kickin' the turf-bucket like a futball round the place; and whin it was tired plazin' itself that-a-way, the appearance came and shuk me agin and I roared and bawled at last, and thin away it wint, and slammed the door afther it, that you'd think it id pull the house down."
"I'm afraid, Paddy," said I, "that this was nothing more than a troublesome dream."
"Is It a dhrame, your honour! That a dhrame! By my sowl, that Id be a quare dhrame! Oh, in throth, it was no dhrame it was, but an appearance; but indeed, afther, I often thought it was an appearance for death, for the young lord never lived to see another birthday. Oh, you may look at me, sir, but it's thruth. Aye, sad I'll tell you what's more, the young lord, the last time I seen him out, was one day he was huntin', and he came in from the stables, through the back-yard, and passed through that very room to go up by the back-Stairs, and as he wint in through that very door that the appearance slammed afther it--what would you think, but he slammed the door afther him the very same way; and indeed, I thrimbled when I thought iv it. He was in a hurry, to be sure; but I think there was some maynin' in it "--and Paddy looked mysterious.
After the foregoing satisfactory manner in which Paddy showed so clearly that be understood the difference between a ghost and a fairy, he proceeded to enlighten me with the further distinction of a spirit, from either of them. This was so very abstruse, that I shall not attempt to take the elucidation of the point out of Paddy's own hands; and should you, gentle reader, ever have the good fortune to make his acquaintance, Paddy, I have no doubt, will clear up the matter as fully and clearly to your satisfaction as he did to mine. But I must allow Paddy to proceed in his own way.
"Well, sir, before I go an to show you the differ betune the fairies and sper'ts, I must tell you about a mighty quare thrick the fairies was goin' to play at the lord's house, where the appearance kem to me, only that the nurse (and she was an aunt o' my own) had the good-luck to baulk thim. You see, the way it was, was this: The child was a man-child, and it was the first boy was in the family for many a long day; for they say there was a prophecy standin' agin the family that there should be no son to inherit; but at last there was a boy, and a lovely fine babby it was, as you'd see in a summer's day; and so, one evenin', that the fam'ly, my lord and my lady, and all o' thim, was gone out, and gev the nurse all sorts o' charges about takin' care o' the child, she was not long alone, whin the housekeeper kem to her and ax'd her to come downstairs, where she had a party; and they expected to be mighty pleasant, and was to have great goin's 'an; and so the nurse said she didn't like lavin' the child, and all to that; but howsomever, she was beguiled into the thing; and she said at last that as soon as she left the child out iv her lap, where she was hushin' it to sleep, foreninst the fire, that she'd go down to the rest o' the sarvants and take share o' what was goin'.
"WeIl, at last the child was fast asleep, and the nurse laid it an the bed, as careful as if it was goolden 'diamonds, and tucked the curtains roun' about the bed, and made it as safe as Newgate, and thin she wint down, and joined the divarshin--and merry enough they wor, at playin' iv cards, and dhrinkin' punch, and dancin', and the like o' that.
"But I must tell you, that before she whit down at all, she left one o' the housemaids to stay in the room, and charged her, on her apparel, not to lave the place until she kem back; but for all that, her fears wouldn't let her be aisy; and indeed, it was powerful lucky that she had an inklin'' o' what was goin' an. For what id you think, but the blackguard iv a housemaid, as soon as she gets the nurse's back turned, she ups and she goes to another party was in the sarvants' hall, wid the undher-sarvants; for whin the lord's back was turned, you see, the house was all as one as a play-house, fairly turned upside down.
"Well, as I said, the nurse (undher God) had an inklin' o' what was to be; for though there was all sorts o' divarsin goin' an in the housekeeper's room, she could not keep the child out iv her head, and she thought she heerd the screeches av it ringin' in her ear every minit, although she knew full well she was far beyant where the cry o' the child could be herrd--but still the cry was as plain in her ear as the earring she had in it; and so at last she grewn so onaisy about the child, that she was goin' upstairs agin--but she was stopped by one, and another coaxed her, and another laughed at her, till at last she grew ashamed of doin' what was right (and God knows, but many a one iv uz is laughed out o' doin' a right thing), and so she sat down agin--but the cry in her ears wouldn't let her be aisy; and at last she tuk up her candle, and away she wint upstairs.
"Well, afther passin' the two first flights, sure enough she heard the child a-screechin', that id go to your heart; and with that she hurried up so fast that the candle a'most wint out with the draught; and she run into the room and whit up to the bed, callin' out, My lanna ban'n, and all to that, to soother the child; and pullin' open the bed-curtain to take the darlin' up--but what would you think, not a sign o' the child was in the bed, good, bad, or indifferent; and she thought the life id lave her; for thin she was afeard the child dhropped out o' the bed--though she thought the curtains was tucked so fast and so close that no accident could happen; and so she run round to the other side to take up the child (though, indeed, she was afeard she'd see it with its brains dashed out), and lo and behould you, divil a taste av it was there, though she heard it screechin' as if it was murtherin'; and so thin, she didn't know what in the wide world to do; and she run rootin' into every corner o' the room lookin' for it; but bad cess to the child she could find--whin, all iv a suddint, turnin' her eyes to the bed agin, what did she perceave but the fut-carpet that whit round the bed, goin' by little and little undher it, as if someone was pullin' it; and so she made a dart at the carpet, and cotch hould o' the ind iv it--and. with that, what should she see but the babby lyin' in the middle o' the fut-carpet, as if it was dhrawin' down into the flure undher the bed. One half o' the babby was out o' sight already, undher the boords, whin the nurse seen it, and it screechin' like a sae-gull, and she laid houl' iv it; and faith, she often towl' myself that the was obleeged to give a good sthrong pull before she could get the child from the fairies."
"Then it was the fairies were taking the child away?" said I.
"Who else would it be?" said Paddy. "Sure, the carpet wouldn't be runnin' undher the bed itself, if it wasn't pulled by the fairies; besides, I towl' you there was a prophecy stannin' agin the male boys of the lord's fam'ly."
"I hope, however, that boy lived?"
"Oh yes, sir, the charm was bruk that night, for the other childher used to be tuk away always by the fairies, and that night the child 'id have been tuk only for the nurse that was givin' (undher God) to undherstan' the screechin' in her ears, and arrived betimes to ketch howlt o' the carpet and baulk the fairies, for all knowledgable people I ever heerd says that if you baulk the fairies wanst, they'll lave you alone evermore."
"Pray, did she see any of the 'fairies that were stealing the child?"
"No, sir; the fairies doesn't love to be seen, and seldom at all you get a sight iv them; and that's the differ I was speakin' iv to you betune fairies and sper'ts. Now, the sper'ts is always seen in some shape or other; and maybe it id be a bird, or a shafe o' corn, or a big stone, or a hape o' dung, or the like o' that, and never know 'twas 'a sper't at all, antil you wor made sinsible av it somehow or other. Maybe it id be that you wor comin' home from a friend's house late at night, and you might fall down and couldn't keep a leg undher you, and not know why, barrin' it was a sper't misled you, and maybe it's in a ditch you'd find yourself asleep in the mornin' when you woke."
"I daresay, Paddy, that same has happened to yourself before now?"
"Throth, and you may say that, sir; but the commonest thing in life is for a sper't for to take the shape iv a dog--which is a favourite shape with sper'ts--and indeed, Tim Mooney, the miller in the next town, was a'most frekened out iv his life by a sper't that-a-way; and he'd ha' been murthered, only be had the good-loock to have a rale dog wid him--and a rale dog is the finest thing in the world against sper'ts."
"How do you account for that, Paddy?'
"Bekase, sir, the dog's the most sinsible, and the bowldest baste, barrin' the cock, which is bowldher for his size than any o' God's craythurs, and so, whin the cock crows, all evil sper'ts vanishes; and the dog bein', as I said, bowld and sinsible also, is mighty good; besides, you couldn't make a cock your companion--it wouldn't be nath'ral to raison, you know--and therefore, a dog is the finest thing In the world for a man to have with him in throublesome places; but I must tell you, that though sper'ts dhreads a' dog, a fairy doesn't mind him, for I have heard o' fairies ridin' a dog, all as one as a monkey; and a lanthern also is good, for the sper't o' darkness dhreads the light. But this is not tellin' you about Mooney, the miller:
He was comin' home, you see, from a neighbour's, and had to pass by a rath, and when he was just kem to the rath, his dog that was wid him (and a brave dog he was, by the same token) began to growl and gev a low bark, and with that, the miller seen a great big baste of a black 'dog comin' up to thim, and walks a one side an him all as one, as if he was his masther; with that Mooney's own dog growled agin, and runs betune his masther's legs, and there he staid walkin' on wid him, for to purtect him; and the miller was frekened a'most out iv his life, and his hair stood up sthraight an his head, that he was obleeged to put his hand up to his hat and shove it down an his head, and three times it was that way, that his hair was risin' the hat aff his head with the fright, and he was obleeged to howld it down, and his dog growlin' all the time, and the black thief iv a dog keepin' dodgin' him along, and his eyes like coals o' fire, and the terriblest smell of sulphur, I hear, that could be, all the time, till at last they came to a little sthrame that divided the road, and there, my dear, the sper't disappeared, not bein' able to pass runnin' wather; for sper'ts, sir; is always waken'd with wather."
"That I believe," said I; "but I think, Paddy, you seldom put spirits to so severe a trial."
"Ah, thin, but your honour will you never give over jeerin' me about the dhrop. But in throth, what I'm tellin' you is thrue about it--runnin' wather desthroys sper'ts."
"Indeed, Paddy, I know that is your opinion."
"Oh, murther, murther! there I made a slip agin, and never seen it till your honour had the advantage o' me. Well, no matther, it's good, anyway; but indeed, I think it has so good a good name iv its own that it's a pity to spile it, baptizin' it any more."
Such were the marvellous yarns that Paddy was constantly spinning. Indeed, he had a pride, I rather think, In being considered equally expert at "the long bow" as at the rifle; and if he had not a bouncer to astonish his hearers with, he endeavoured that his ordinary strain of conversation, or his answer to the commonest question, should be of a nature to surprise them. Such was his reply one morning to his master, when he asked Paddy what was the cause of his being so hoarse.
"Indeed, sir," answered Paddy, "it's a cowld I got, and indeed, myself doesn't know how I cotch cowld, barrin' that I slep' in a field last night and forgot to shut the gate afther me."
"Ah, Paddy," said the Squire, "the old story--you were drunk as usual, and couldn't find your way home. You are a shocking fellow, and you'll never get on an long as you give yourself up to whisky."
"Why, thin, your honour, sure that's the raison I ought to get an the fasther, for isn't a 'spur in the head worth two in the heel,' as the ould sayin' is?"
Here a laugh from the Squire's guests turned the scale in Paddy's favour.
"I give you up, Paddy," said the master; "you're a sad dog, worse than Larry Lanigan."
"Oh, murther! Is it Lanigan you'd be afther comparin' me to?" said Paddy. "Why, Lanigan is the complatest dhrinker in Ireland; by my sowkins, more whisky goes through Lanigan than any other worm in the county. Is it Lanigan? Faiks, that's the lad could take the consait out iv a gallon o' sper'ts without quittin' it. Throth, Lanigan is just the very chap that id go to first mass every mornin' in the year if holy wather was whisky."
This last reply left Paddy in possession of the field, and no further attack was made upon him on the score of his love of "the dhrop "and this triumph on his part excited him to exert himself in creating mirth for the gentlemen who formed the shooting party. One of the company retailed that well-known joke made by Lord Norbury, viz., when a certain gentleman declared that he had shot twenty hares before breakfast, his lordship replied that he must have fired at a wig.
Here Paddy declared that he thought "It was no great shootin' " to kill twenty hares, for that he had shot seventy-five brace of rabbits in one day.
"Seventy-five brace!" was laughed forth from everyone present.
"Bad loock to the lie in it," said Paddy.
"Oh, be easy, Paddy," said his master.
"There it is now, and you won't b'live me? Why, thin, in throth, it's not that I'm proud iv it, I tell you, for I don't think it was any great things iv shootin', at all, at all."
Here a louder burst of merriment than the former hailed Paddy's declaration.
"Well, now," said Paddy, "if yez be quiet and listen to me, I'll explain it to your satisfaction. You see, it was in one iv the islans aff the shore there "--and he pointed seawards--" it was in one o' the far Islans out there, where rabbits are so plinty, and runnin' so thick that you can scarcely see the grass."
"Because the island is all sand," said his master.
"No, indeed, now, though you thought you had me there," said Paddy, very quietly. "It's not the sandy islan at all, bud one farther out."
"Which of them?"
"Do you know the little one with the black rock?"
"Well, It's not that. But you know--"
"Arrah! can't you tell his honour," said a peasant who was an attendant on the party, to carry the game--" can't you tell his honour at wanst, and not be delayin' ."
Paddy turned on this plebeian intruder with the coolest contempt and said: "Hurry no man's cattle; get a jackass for yourself," and then resumed: "Well, sir, but you know the islan with the sharp headlan'--"
"Well, it's not that either; but if you--"
"At that rate, Paddy," said the Squire, "we shall never hear which island this wonderful rabbit burrow is in. How would you steer for it after passing Innismoyle?"
"Why, thin, you should steer about nor'-west, and when you cleared the black rocks you'd have the sandy islan bearin' over your larboard bow, and thin you'd see the islan I spake av, when you run about as far as--"
"Pooh! pooh!" said the Squire, "you're dreaming, Paddy; there's no such island at all."
"By my sowl, there is, beggin' your honour's pardon."
"It's very odd I never saw it."
"Indeed it's a wondher, sure enough."
"Oh, it can't be," said the Squire. "How big is it?"
"Oh, by dad, it's as big as ever it'll be," said Paddy, chuckling. This answer turned the laugh against the Squire again, who gave up farther cross-questioning of Paddy, whose readiness of converting his answers into joke generally frustrated any querist who was hardy enough to engage with Paddy in the hope of puzzling him.
"Paddy," said the Squire, "after that wonderful rabbit adventure, perhaps you would favour the gentlemen with that story you told me once about a fox?"
"Indeed and I will, place your honour," said Paddy; "though I know full well the divil a one word iv it you b'live, nor the gintlemen won't either, though you're axin' me for it, but only want to laugh at me, and call me a big liar whin my back's turned."
"Maybe we wouldn't wait for your back being turned, Paddy, to honour you with that title."
"Oh, indeed, I'm not sayin' you wouldn't do it as soon foreninst my face, your honour, as you often did before, and will agin, place God, and welkim--"
"Well, Paddy, say no more about, that, but let's have the story."
"Sure, I'm losin' no time, only tellin' the gintlemen beforehand that it's what they'll be callin' it, a lie--and indeed, it's uncommon, sure enough; but you see, gintlemen, you must, remimber that the fox is the cunnin'est baste in the world, barrin' the wran--"
Here Paddy was questioned why he considered the wren as cunning a baste as the fox.
"Why, sir, bekase all birds build their nest wid one hole to it only, excep'n the wran; but the wan builds two holes to the nest, and so that if any inimy comes to disturb it upon one door, it can go out an the other. But the fox is cute to that degree, that there's many mortial a fool to him--and by dad, the fox could buy and sell many a Christian, as you'll soon see by-and-by, when I tell you what happened to a wood-ranger that I knew wanst, and a dacent man he was, and wouldn't say the thing in a lie.
"Well, you see, he kem home one night mighty tired--for he was out wid a party in the domain, cock-shootin' that day; and whin he got back to his lodge, he threw a few logs o' wood at the fire to make himself comfortable, an he tuk whatever little matther he had for his supper; and afther that he felt himself so tired that he wint to bed. But you're to undherstan' that though he wint to bed, it was more for to rest himself like than to sleep, for it was airly; and so he jist went into bed,, and there he diverted himself lookin' at the fire, that was blazin' as merry as a bonfire on the hearth.
"Well, as he was lyin' that-a-way, jist thinkin' o' nothin' at all, what should come into the place but a fox. But I must tell you, what I forgot to tell you before, that the ranger's house was on the bordhers o' the wood, and he had no one to live wid him but himself, barrin' the dogs that he had the care iv, that was his only companions, and he had a hole out an the door, with a swingin' boord to it, that the dogs might go in or out accordin' as it plazed thim; and by dad, the fox came in, as I tould you, through the hole in the door, as bowld as a ram, and walked over to the fire, and sat down foreninst it.
"Now, it was mighty provokin' that all the dogs was out--they wor rovin' about the wood, you see, lookin' for to catch rabbits to ate, or some other mischief, and so it happened that there wasn't as much as one individual dog in the place; and by gor, I'll go bail, the fox knew that right-well before he put his nose inside the ranger's lodge.
"Well, the ranger was in hopes some o' the dogs id come home and ketch the chap, and he was loath to stir hand or fut himself, afeard o' freghtenin' away the fox; but, by gor, be could hardly keep his timper, at all, at all, when he seen the fox take his pipe aff o' the hob, where he left it afore he wint to bed, and puttin' the bowl o' the pipe into the fire to kindle it (it's 'as thrue as I'm here) he began to smoke foreninst the fire, as nath'ral as any other man you ever seen.
"'Musha, bad luck to your impidence, you long-tailed blaguard, says the ranger, 'and is it smokin' my pipe you are? Oh, thin, by this and by that, if I had my gun convaynient to me, it's fire and smoke of another sort, and what you wouldn't bargain for, I'd give you,' says he. But still he was loath to stir, hopin' the dogs id come home; and 'By gor, my fine fellow,' says he to the fox, 'if one o' the dogs comes home, salpethre wouldn't save you, and that's a sthrong pickle.'
"So with that he watched antil the fox wasn't mindin' him, but was busy shakin' the cindhers out o' the pipe whin he was done wid it, and so the ranger thought he was goin' to go immediately afther gitten' an air o' the fire and a shough o' the pipe; and so says he: 'Faiks, my lad, I won't let you go so aisy as all that, as cunnin' as you think yourself;" and with that he made a dart out o' bed and run over to the door, and got betune it and the fox; and 'Now,' says he, 'your bread's baked, my buck, and maybe my lord won't, have a fine run out o' you, and the' dogs at your brish every yard, you morodin' thief, and the divil mind you,' says he, 'for your impidence--for sure, if you hadn't the impidence of a highwayman's horse, It's not into my very house, undher my nose, yu'd daar for to come;' and with that he began to whistle for the dogs; and the fox, that stood eyin' him all the time while he was spakin', began to think it was time to be joggin' whin he beard the whistle, and says the fox to himself: 'Throth, indeed, you think yourself a mighty great ranger now,' says he, 'and you think you're very cute, but upon my tail, and that's, a big oath, I'd be long sorry to let sich a mallet-headed bog-throtter as yourself take a dirty advantage o' me, and I'll engage,' says the fox, 'I'll make you lave the door soon and suddint;' and with that he turned to where the ranger's brogues was lyin' hard beside the fire, and what would you think, but the fox tuk up one o' the brogues, and wint over to the fire and threw it into it.
"'I think that'll make you start,' says the fox.
"'Divil resave the start,' says the ranger - 'that won't do, my buck,' says he; 'the brogue may burn to cindhers,' says be, 'but out o' this I won't stir;' and thin, puttin' his fingers into, his mouth, he gev a blast iv a whistle you'd hear a mile off, and shouted for the dogs.
"'So that won't do,' says the fox. 'Well, I must thry another offer,' says he; and with that he tuk up the other brogue, and threw it into the fire too.
"'There, now,' says he, 'you may keep the other company,' says he; 'and there's a pair o' ye now, as the divil said to his knee-buckles.'
"'Oh, you thievin' varmint,' says the ranger, 'you won't lave me a tack to my feet; but no matther,' says he, 'your head's worth more nor a pair'o' brogues to me, any day; and by the Piper o' Blessin'town, you're money in my pocket this minit, says he; and with that the flngers was in his mouth agin, and he was goin' to whistle, whin, what would you think, but up sits the fox an his hunkers, and puts his two forepaws into his mouth, makin' game o' the ranger--(bad luck to the lie I tell you).
"Well, the ranger, and no wondher, although in a rage he was, couldn't help laughin' at the thought o' the fox mockin' him, and by dad, he tuk sitch a fit o' laughin', that he couldn't whistle, and that was the cuteness o' the fox to gain time; but whin his first laugh was over, the ranger recovered himself, and gev another whistle; and so says the fox: 'By my sowl,' says he, 'I think it wouldn't be good for my health to stay here much longer, and I mustn't be thriflin' with that blackguard ranger any more,' says he, 'and I must make him sinsible that it is time to let me go; and though he hasn't understan'in' to be sorry for his brogues, I'll go bail I'll make him lave that,' says he, "before he'd say sparables'--and with that, what do you think the fox done? By all that's good--and the ranger himself tould me out iv his own mouth, and said be would never have b'lived it, only he seen it--the fox tuk a lighted piece iv a logout o' the blazin' flre, and run over wid it to the ranger's bed, and was goin' to throw it into the sthraw, and burn him out of house and home; so when the ranger seen that, he gev a shout out iv him:
"'Hilloo! hilloo! you murdherin' villian,' says he, 'you're worse nor Captain Rock; is it goin' to burn me out you are, you red rogue iv a Ribbonman?' and he made a dart betune him and the bed, to save the house' from bein' burned; but, my jew'l, that was all the fox wanted--and as soon as the ranger quitted the hole in the door that he was standin' foreninst, the fox let go the blazin' faggit, and made one jump through the door and escaped.
"But before he wint, the ranger gev me his oath, that the fox turned round and gev him the most contemptible look he ever got in his life, and showed every tooth in his head with laughin'; and at last he put out his tongue at him, as much as to say:
"You've missed me, like your mummy's blessin',' and off wid him!--like a flesh o' lightain'."