If any of our English readers are unfortunately ignorant of the social position of tailors in the remote districts of this country, let them hereby learn that Brian Neill, the unlucky hero of this narrative, when he arose on Monday morning, betook himself to the farmer's house where his services were required, took the measures of his clients; sat on the large kitchen table, kept his goose in the turf fire, mended and made clothes, chatted with the women,,and there remained till his business was finished. He then repaired to some other farmstead where his presence was desirable, and thus his life glided on.
Brian was employed as mentioned one afternoon on Mrs. Rooney's great table. He had been remarked all the day for an unwonted silence, and now began to acquaint Mrs. Rooney with the subject on which his -thoughts were employed. "Be this and be that, ma'am, it's very strange that I should have the same, dream for the last three nights. There it was, in the rath of Knocmor, I saw, as plain as I see you now, a big grey stone, and an old thorn tree, and the hole between them, and the crock at the bottom of it. I declare to you I can't stand it any longer. I'll take a spade and shovel, and try my fortune, and have it off my mind. You needn't tell anybody where I'm gone."
About three hours afterwards he returned in a very dismantled condition, his hair in moist flakes, his eyes glassy, and his whole appearance betokening one who would drop in pieces if some strong power were not keeping him together. "Oh, ma'am, honey 1" he faltered out, "let me lie down somewhere; I think I'll die." Mrs. Rooney had put him into the bed belonging to the servant boy, and good-naturedly brought him a warm drink of whey in a quarter of an hour or so. She then sat down by the bed; and when he had refreshed himself, and seemed somewhat restored, she requested to know how he fared after he had left the house. This is the account he rather reluctantly gave after some pressing:--
"When I got to the rath, ma'am, I wondered to find the stone and the old thorn just as I dreamed they were. Bedad I took off my coat, and fell to, and dug and shovelled, and shovelled and dug till my poor arms were tired. I rested myself for a little while, and then fell to again. Well, I think I was down between three and four feet, when I felt. something hard against the spade. I cleared away the clay carefully from about it, and what was it but a heavy crock, just like the very one I saw in the dreams. I lifted it out on the heap of clay I threw up, and was going to get the cover off when I felt myself getting as weak as water. I was trembling indeed, and my heart fluttering from the first touch I gave it with the spade. Well, what would you have of it! I fell down in a stugue, and don't know how long I was in it; and when I came to myself the very sight of the crock brought my heart to my mouth. I done nothing after that but crawled back as well as I could. I suppose all happened to me because I did not say e'er a prayer, or take any holy-water with me to sprinkle a ring round the place. I think I'll go asleep now; I can't keep my eyes open."
So he slept soundly, and never woke till next morning, and the first thing he was conscious of was a strong inclination to go to the rath again, and recover the crock, if it still remained there. He went in all haste, found the spade and shovel, the heap of clay, and the pit, but no sign of the crock or its cover. He came back overpowered with vexation at the silly way in which he had behaved the day before, and begged Mrs. Rooney to give him his crock, and promised to give her a good handful of its contents. "Crock!" said she; " what are you talking about?" "Sure I am talking about the crock I dug up in the rath of Knocmor yesterday, and that I told you about after you gave me the drink of whey in the bed." "Oh, my poor man, you are raving! I gave you a drink, sure enough, but this is the first time you opened your mouth about a crock." "But sure,,if you come you can see the hole and the clay, and here is the spade and shovel that I used." "And if they are, is that a reason I should have your crock, that I never heard of till this blessed hour?"
There was great commotion in the neighbourhood. Several people, including Mr. and Mrs. Rooney, went to the rath, and saw the hole and the clay, but that did not prove that Mrs. Rooney got the money. All that the sharpest neighbour could make out was the absence of the farmer and his wife from their house for about an hour on the evening in question. It all resulted in poor Brian losing his reason, and coming to vituperate Mrs. Rooney about once a week at her own door. We will say of her that she always gave him something to eat on these occasions, and a coat or breeches when his need was sore for good clothing. By degrees the farm was improved, and more land taken. Her children were well provided for, and so are such of her grandchildren as are now living. Ill-got money does not in general produce such comfortable results.
In the Leadbeater Papers will be found another version of the next legend. What we heard from Mrs. K. in 1816, or thereabouts, is here given to the reader most conscientiously. It is a curious instance of old circumstances being attached to the fortunes of a new man, such as Earl Garrett must be considered -when thought of in comparison with Holger the Dane or King Arthur.
Such legends belong to a race which has been obliged to give way to a less imaginative people. James IV. of Scotland, survived Flodden, and will appear when his country wants hint. Don Sebastian of Portugal did not perish in Africa. Holger the Dane remained watching in his cavern long after the period--
When Roland brave, and Olivier,
And every paladin and peer,
On Roncesvalles died."
King Arthur is still waiting in the Isle of Avalon; and some old Welsh king can scarcely disengage his beard from the stone table into which it has grown, as he has slept till his coming forth can be of no manner of use.