Legends and Stories of Ireland, by Samuel Lover, [1831, 1834], at sacred-texts.com
JOHN DAW, of the county ------, gent., who, from his propensity to look down his neighbours' chimneys, was familiary called Mr. Jaokdaw, was a man who (to adopt a figure of speech which he often used himself), could see as far into a millstone as most people. He could play at politics, as boys play at marbles; and Mr. Daw could be down upon any king's taw as beet suited his pleasure, and prove he was quite right to boot, provided you would only listen to his arguments, and not answer them. Though, to say the truth, Mr. Daw seldom meddled with so august a personage as a king--he was rather of Shakespeare's opinion that:
"There's a divinity doth hedge a king;"
and after the fall of Napoleon, whom be could abuse to his heart's content, with all the hackneyed epithets of tyrant, monster, etc., without any offence to legitimacy, his rage against royalty was somewhat curtailed of its "fair proportions." But still, politics always afforded him a very pretty allowance of hot water to dabble in. Of course, he who could settle the affairs of nations with so much satisfaction to himself, could also superintend those of his neighbours; and the whole county, if it knew but all, had weighty obligations to Mr. Daw for the consideration he bestowed on the concerns of every man in it rather than his own. But the whole world is very ill-natured, and the county----in particular; for while Mr. Daw thus exhibited so much interest In the affairs of his acquaintances, they only called him "bore, busybody, meddler," and other such-like amiable appellations.
No stolen "march of intellect" had ever been allowed to surprise the orthodox outposts of Mr. Daw's understanding. He was for the good old times--none of your heathenish innovations for him! The word liberality was an abomination in his ears, and strongly reminded him of "Popery, slavery, arbitary power, brass money, and wooden shoes."
Two, things he hated in particular--cold water and papists; he thought them both bad for "the constitution." Now, the former of the aforesaid Mr. Daw took special good care should never make any innovation on his, and the bitterest regret of his life was that be had it not equally in his power to prevent the latter from making inroads upon that of the nation.
A severe trial of Mr. Daw's temper existed in the situation which a certain Roman Catholic chapel held on the road which led from his house to the parochial Protestant church. This chapel was a singularly humble little building, whose decayed roof of straw gave evidence of the poverty and inability of the flock who crowded within it every Sunday to maintain a more seemly edifice for the worship of God. It was situated immediately on the roadside, and so inadequate was it in size to contain the congregation which flocked to it for admittance, that hundreds of poor people might be seen every Sabbath kneeling outside the door, and stretching in a crowd so dense across the road as to occasion considerable obstruction to a passenger thereon. This was always a source of serious annoyance to the worthy Mr. Daw; and one Sunday in particular, so great was the concourse of people, that be was absolutely obliged to stop his jaunting-car, and was delayed the enormous space of a full minute and a half before the offending worshippers could get out of the way. This was the climax of annoyance--it was insufferable. That he should have, every Sunday at he went to church, his Christian serenity disturbed' by passing so heathenish a temple as a mass-house, and witness the adoration of "damnable idolaters," was bad enough; but that he one of the staunchest Protestants in the county; one of the most unflinching of the sons of ascendancy, should be delayed on his way to church by a pack of "rascally rebelly papists," as he charitably called them, was beyond endurance, and he deeply swore he would never go to church by that road again to be obnoxious to so great an indignity. And he kept his word. He preferred going a round of five miles to the ample and empty church of--, than again pass the confined and crowded little chapel.
This was rather Inconvenient sometimes, to be sure, when autumn rains and winter snows were falling; but no matter. The scene of his degradation was not to be passed for any consideration, and many a thorough drenching and frost-bitten penalty were endured in the cause of ascendancy; but what then? 'He had the reward in his own breast, and he bore all with the fortitude of a martyr, consoling himself in the notion of his being a "suffering loyalist"
If he went out of his way to avoid one popish nuisance, he was "put out of his way" by another, namely, by having his residence in the vicinity of a convent; yea, within earshot of their vesper music lay his pleasure ground, and a stone wall (a very strong and high one, to be sure), was all that interposed itself between his Protestant park and the convent garden.
Both of these lay upon the shore of the expansive Shannon; and many a time and oft," when our hero was indulging in an evening stroll on the bank of the river, did he wish the, poor nuns fairly at the bottom of it, as their neighbouring voices, raised perchance in some hymn to the Virgin, smote the tympanum of his offended ear.
He considered at length that this proximity to a Convent, which at first he deemed such an hardship, might be turned to account in a way, of all others, congenial to his disposition, by affording him an opportunity of watching the movements of its inmates. Of the nefarious proceedings of such a body, of their numberless intrigues, etc., etc., he himself had no doubt, and he forthwlth commenced a system of espionnage, that he might be enabled to produce proof for the conviction of others. During the day, there was a provoking propriety preserved about the place that excited Mr. Daw's wrath. "Ay, ay," would he mutter to himself, "they were always deep as well as dangerous--they're too cunning to commit themselves by anything that might be easily discovered; but wait, wait until the moonlight nights are past, and I'll warrant my watching shan't go for nothing."
Under the dewy damps of night, many an hour did Mr. Daw hold his surveillance around the convent bounds, but still Fortune favoured him not in this enterprise, and not one of the delinquencies which he had no doubt were going forward had he the good fortune to discover. No scarf was waved from the proscribed casements, no ladder of ropes was to be found attached to the forbidden wall, no boat, with muffled oar, stealthily skimming along the waters, could be detected in the act of depositing "a gallant gay Lothario" in the Hesperian garden, where, be doubted not, many an adventurous Jason plucked forbidden fruit.
Chance, however, threw in his way a discovery, which all his premeditated endeavours had formerly failed to accomplish, for one evening, just as the last glimmer of departing day was streaking the west, Mr. Daw, in company with a friend (a congenial soul), when returning after a long day's shooting, in gleeful anticipation of a good dinner, heard a sudden splash in the water, apparently proceeding from the extremity of the convent wall, to which point they both directly hurried. What the noise originated in we shall soon see, but a moment's pause must be first given to say a word or two of Mr. Daw's friend.
He was a little bustling man, always fussing about something or other, eternally making frivolous excuses for paying visits at unseasonable hours, for the purpose of taking people by surprise, and seeing what they were about, and everlastingly giving people advice; and after any unpleasant accident, loss of property, or other casualty, he was always ready with an assurance that "if that had been his case he would have done so and so," and gave ample grounds for you to understand that you were very little more or lees than a fool, and he the wisest of men since the days of Solomon.
But curiosity was his prevailing foible. When he entered a room, his little twinkling eyes went peering round the chamber to ascertain if anything worth notice was within eyeshot, and when failure ensued, in that case be himself went on a voyage of discovery into every corner, and with excuses so plausible, that he flattered himself nobody saw what he did. For example, he might commence thus: "Ha, Miss Emily, you've got a string broken in your harp, I see," and forthwith he posted over to the instrument; and while he was clawing the strings, and declaring it was "a monstrous sweet harp," be was reconnoitring the quarter where it stood with the eye of a lynx. Unsuccessful there, be would proceed, myhap, to the table, where some recently received letters were lying, and stooping down over one with its seal upwards, exclaim: "Dear me!what a charming device! Let me see--what is it!--a padlock, and the motto 'Honour keeps the key.' Ah! very pretty, indeed--excellent." And then he would carelessly turn over the letter to see the postmark and superscription, to try if he could glean any little hint from them. "So, so! a foreign postmark. I see--ha! I daresay, now, this is from your cousin--his regiment's abroad, I believe? Eh! Miss Emily?" (rather knowingly). Miss Emily might reply slyly: "I thought you admired the motto on the seal?" "Oh, yes--a - very true, indeed--a very pretty motto," and so on.
This little gentleman was, moreover, very particular in his dress. The newest fashions were sure to be exhibited on his diminutive person, and from the combined quality of petit maitre and eavesdropper, he enjoyed a sobriquet as honourable as Mr. Daw, and was called Little Beau Peep.
Upon one occasion, however, while minding his neighbours' affairs with an exemplary vigilance, some sheep-stealers made free with a few of his flock, and though so pre-eminently prompt in the suggestion of preventions or remedies in similar cases when his friends were in trouble, he could not make. the slightest successful movement towards the recovery of his own property. All his dear friends were, of course, delighted; and so far did they carry their exultation in his mishap, that someone, a night or two after his disaster, pasted on his hall-door the following quotation from a celebrated nursery ballad:
"Little Beau Peep
He has lost his sheep,
And does not know where to find them."
He had a little dog, too, that was as great a nuisance as himself, and emulated his master in his prying propensities; he was very significantly called "Ferret," and not unfrequently had he been instrumental in making mischievous discoveries. One in particular I cannot resist noticing:
Mrs. Fitz-Altamont was a lady of high descent--in short, the descent had been such a long one, that the noble family of Fitz-Altamont had descended very low indeed; but Mrs. Fitz-Altamont would never let "the aspiring blood of Lancaster sink in the ground"; and accordingly, was always reminding her acquaintance how very noble a stock she came from, at the very moment, perhaps, she was making some miserable show of gentility. In fact, Mrs. Fitz-Altamont's mode of living reminded one very much of worn-out plated ware, in which the copper makes a very considerable appearance; or, as Goldsmith says of the French, she
"Trlmm'd her robe of frieze with copper lace."
Her children had been reared from their earliest infancy with lofty notions; they started, even from the baptismal font, under the shadow of high-sounding names; there were Alfred, Adolphus, and Harold, her magnanimous boys, and Angelina and Iphigenia, her romantic girls.
Judge, then, of the mortification of Mrs. Fitz-Altamont, when one day, seated at rather a homely early dinner, Little Beau Peep popped in upon them. How he contrived such a surprise is not stated--whether by a surreptitious entry through a back window, or, fairy-like, through a key-hole, has never been clearly ascertained--but certain it is, he detected the noble family of Fitz-Altamont in the fact of having been dining upon--EGGS!--yes, sympathetic reader--EGGS! The denouement took place thus: Seated before this unseemly fare, the noise of Beau Peep was heard in the hall by the affrighted Fitz-Altamonts. No herd of startled deer was ever half so terrified by the deep bay of the ferocious staghound as "the present company" at the shrill pipe of the cur, Beau Peep; and by a simultaneous movement of thought and action they at once huddled everything upon the table, topsy-turvy, into the table-cloth, and crammed it with precipitous speed under the sofa; and scattering the chairs from their formal and indicative position round the table, they met their "dear friend" Beau Peep. with smiles, as he gently opened the door in his own insinuating manner, to say that, "just as he was in the neighbourhood, he would not pass by his esteemed friend, Mrs. Fitz-Altamont without calling to pay his respects."
Both parties were "delighted" to see each other, and Mr. Beau Peep seated himself on the sofa, and his little dog "Ferret" lay down between his feet; and whether it was from a spice of his master's talent for discovery, or a keen nose that Nature gave him, we know not; but after sniffing once or twice, he made a sudden dart beneath the sofa, and in an instant, emerged from under its deep and dirty flounce, dragging after him the table-cloth, which, unfolding in its course along the well-darned carpet, disclosed "a beggarly account of empty" egg-shells.
We shall not attempt 'to describe,'the finale of such a scene; but Mrs. Fitz-Altamont, in speaking to a friend on the subject, when the affair had "got wind," and demanded an explanation, declared she never was so "horrified" in her life. It was just owing to her own foolish good-nature; she had allowed all her servants (she had one) to go to the fair in the neighbourhood, and had ordered John to be at home at a certain hour from the town, with marketing. But John did not return; and it happened so unfortunately--such a thing never happened before in her house--there was not an atom in the larder but eggs, and they just were making a little lunch, when that provoking creature, Mr. Terrier, broke in on them.
"My dear madam, if you had only seen it: Alfred had eaten his egg--Adolphus was eating his egg--Harold was in the act of cracking his egg--and I was just putting some salt in my egg (indeed, I spilt the saIt a moment before, and was certain something unlucky was going to happen)--and the dear, romantic girls, Angelina and Iphigenia, were at the moment boiling their eggs, when that dreadful, little man got into the house. It's very laughable, to be sure--he! he! he!--when one knows all about it; but really, I was never so provoked in my life."
We ask pardon for so long a digression; but an anxiety to show what sort of person Little Beau Peep was has betrayed us into it; and we shall now hurry to the development of our story.
We left Beau Peep and Jack Daw hurrying off towards the convent wall, where it was washed by the river, to ascertain what caused the loud splash in the water which they heard, and has already been noticed. On arriving at the extremity of Mr. Daw's grounds, they perceived the stream yet agitated, apparently from the sudden immersion of something into it; and on looking more sharply through the dusk, they saw, floating rapidly down the current, a basket, at some distance, but not so far away as to prevent their hearing a faint cry, evidently proceeding from it; and the next moment they heard a female voice say, in the adjoining garden of the convent: "There, let it go; the nasty creature, to do such a horrid thing--"
"Did you hear that?" said Mr. Daw.
"I did," said Beau Peep.
"There's proof positive," said Daw. "The villainous papist jades, one of them has had a child, and some of her dear sisters are drowning it for her, to conceal her infamy."
"No doubt of it," said Beau Peep.
"I knew it all along," said Jack Daw. "Come, my dear friend," added he, "let us hasten back to O'Brien's cottage, and he'll row us down the river in his boat, and we may yet be enabled to reach the basket in time to possess ourselves of the proof of all this popish, profligacy."
And off they ran to O'Brien's cottage; and hurrying O'Brien and his son to unmoor their boat, in which the gentlemen had passed a considerable part of the day in sporting, they jumped into the skiff, and urged the two men to pull away as fast as they could after the prize they hoped to obtain. Thus, though excessively hungry, and anxious for the dinner that was awaiting them all the time, their appetite for scandal was so much more intense, that they relinquished the former in pursuit of the latter.
"An' where is it your honour's goin'?" demanded O'Brien.
"Oh, a little bit down the river here," answered Mr. Daw; for he did not wish to let it be known what he was in quest of, or his suspicions touching it, lest the peasants might baffle his endeavours at discovery, as he was sure they would strive to do in such a case, for the honour of the creed to which they belonged.
"Throth, then, it's late your honour's a-goin' an' the wather this time o' day, and the night comin' an."
"Well, never mind that you, but pull away."
"By my sowl, I'll pull like a young cowlt, if that be all, and Jim too, sir (that's your sort, Jamie); but at this gate o' goin', the sorra far off the rapids will be long, and sure if we go down them now, the dickens a back we'll get to-night."
"Oh, never mind that," said Daw; "we can return by the fields."
As O'Brien calculated, they soon reached the rapids, and he called out to Jim to "studdy the boat there;" and with skilful management the turbulent descent was passed in safety, and they glided onwards again, under the influence of their oars, over the level waters.
"Do you see it yet?" asked one of the friends to the other, who replied in the negative.
"Maybe it's the deep hole your honour id be lookin' for?" queried O'Brien, in that peculiar vein of inquisitiveness which the Irish peasant indulges in, and through which he hopes, by presupposing a motive of action, to discover in reality the object aimed at.
"No," answered Daw, rather abruptly.
"Oh, it's only bekase it's a choice place of settin' night-lines," said O'Brien; "and I was thinkin' maybe it's for that your honour id be."
"Oh!" said Beau Peep, " 'tis nothing more than is caught by night-lines we're seeking--eh, Daw?"
"Aye, aye; and, by Jove, I think, I see it a little way before us--pull, O'Brien, pull!" and the boat trembled under the vigorous strokes of O'Brien and his son, and in a few minutes they were within an oar's length of the basket, which by this time was nearly sinking, and a moment or two later had deprived Jack Daw and Beau Peep of the honour, of the discovery, which they were now on the eve of completing.
"Lay hold of it," said Mr. Daw; and Beau Peep, in "making a long arm" to secure the prize, so far overbalanced himself that he went plump, head foremost, into the river; and had it not been for the activity and strength of the elder O'Brien, this our pleasant history must have turned out a tragedy of the darkest dye, and many a subsequent discovery of the indefatigable Beau Peep remained in the unexplored depths of uncertainty. But, fortunately for the lovers of family secrets, the inestimable Beau Peep was drawn, dripping, from the river, by O'Brien, at the same time that Jack Daw, with the boat-hook, secured the basket.
"I've got it!" exclaimed Day, in triumph.
"Aye, and I've got it, too," chattered forth poor Beau Peep.
"What's the matter with you, my dear friend?" said Daw, who, in his anxiety to obtain the basket, never perceived the fatality that had befallen his friend.
"I've been nearly drowned, that's all," whined forth the unhappy little animal, as he was shaking the water out of his ears.
"Throth, it was looky I had my hand so ready," said' O'Brien, "or faith, maybe it's more nor a basket we'd have to be lookin' for."
"My dear fellow," said Daw, "let us go ashore immediately, and, by the exercise of walking, you may counteract the bad effects that this accident may otherwise produce. Get the boat ashore, O'Brien, as fast as possible. But we have got the basket, however, and that's some consolation for you."
"Yes," said the shivering little scandal-hunter; "I don't mind the drenching, since we have secured that."
"Why, thin," said O'Brien, as he pulled towards the shore, 'may I make so bould as to ax your honour what curiosity there is in an ould basket, to make yiz take so much throuble, and nigh-hand drowndin' yourselves afore you cotcht it?"
"Oh, never you mind," said Mr. Daw; "you shall soon know all about it. By-the-by, my dear friend," turning to Terrier, "l think we had better proceed, as soon as we get ashore, to our neighbour Sturdy's--his is the nearest house we know of. There you may be enabled to change your wet clothes; and he being a magistrate, we can, swear our informations against the delinquents in this case."
"Very true," said the unfortunate Beau Peep, as he stepped ashore, assisted by O'Brien, who, when the gentlemen proceeded some paces In advance, said to his son, who bore the dearly-won basket, that "the poor little whelp (meaning Beau Peep) looked for all the world like a dog in a wet sack."
On they pushed at a smart pace, until the twinkling of lights through some neighbouring tree announced to them the vicinity of Squire Sturdy's mansion. The worthy Squire had just taken his first glass of wine after the cloth had been drawn, when the servant announced the arrival of Mr Daw and his half-drowned friend, who were at once ushered into the dining-room.
"Good heavens!" exclaimed the excellent lady of the mansion (for the ladies had not yet withdrawn), on perceiving the miserable plight of Beau Peep, "what has happened?"
"Indeed, madam," answered our little hero, "an unfortunate accident on the water--"
"Oh, ho!" said the Squire; "I should think that quite in your line--just exploring the secrets of the river? Why, my dear sir, if you go on at this rate, making discoveries by water as well as, by. land, you'll rival Columbus himself before long." And Miss Emily, of whom we have already spoken, whispered her mamma that she had often heard of a diving-bell (belle), but never before of a diving beau.
"Had you not better change your clothes?" said Mrs. Sturdy to the shivering Terrier.
"Thank you, madam," said he, somewhat loftily, being piqued at the manner of his reception by the Squire; "I shall wait till an investigation has taken place in my presence of a circumstance which I have contributed to bring to light; and my discoveries by water may be found to be not undeserving of notice."
"I assure you, Mr. Sturdy," added Mr. Daw, in his most impressive manner, "we have an information to swear to before you of the most vital importance, and betraying the profligacy of certain people in so flagrant a degree that I hope it may at length open the eyes of those that are wilfully blind to the interests of their king and their country."
This fine speech was meant as a hit at Squire Sturdy, who was a blunt, honest man--who acted in most cases, to the best of his ability, on the admirable Christian maxim of loving his neighbour as himself.
"Well, Mr. Daw," said the Squire, "I am all attention to hear your information--"
"May I trouble you," said Daw, "to retire to your study, as the matter is rather of an indelicate nature and not fit for ladies' ears?"
"No, no. We'll stay here, and Mrs. S. and my daughters will retire to the drawing-room. Go, girls, and get the tea ready;" and the room was soon cleared of the ladies, and the two O'Briens were summoned to wait upon the Squire in the dining-room, with the important basket.
When they entered, Mr. Daw, with a face of additional length and solemnity, unfolded to Squire Sturdy how the attention of his friend and himself had been attracted by a basket flung from the convent garden; how they ran to the spot; how they beard a faint cry; "and then, sir" said he, "we were at once awake to the revolting certainty that the nuns had thus intended to destroy one of their own illegitimate offspring."
"Cross o' Christ about us!" involuntarily muttered forth the two O'Briens, making the sign of the cross at the same time on their foreheads.
"But have you any proof of this?" asked the magistrate.
"Yes, sir," said Beau Peep triumphantly; "we have proof--proof positive! Bring forward that basket," said he to 'the boatman. "There, sir, is the very basket containing the evidence of their double guilt--first, the guilt of unchastity, and next, the guilt of infanticide; and it was in laying hold of the basket that I met the accident, Mr. Sturdy, that has occasioned you so much mirth. However, I believe you will acknowledge now, Mr. Sturdy, that my discoveries by water have been rather important--"
Here Mr. Daw broke in by saying that the two boatmen were witnesses to the fact of finding the basket.
"Oh! by this and that," roared out O'Brien, "the devil resave the bit of a child I seen, I'll be upon my oath! And I wouldn't say that in a lie--"
"Be silent, O'Brien," said. the magistrate. "Answer me, Mr. Daw, if you please, one or two questions:
"Did one or both of you see the basket thrown from the convent garden?"
"Both of us."
"And you heard a faint cry from it?"
"Yes; we heard the cry of an infant."
"You then rowed after the basket, in O'Brien's boat?"
"Is this the basket you saw the gentleman pick up, O'Brien?"
"By my sowl, I can't exactly say, your honour, for I was picking up Mr. Terrier."
"It was you, then, that saved Mr. Terrier from drowning?"
"Yes, sir, undher God--"
'"Fortunate that O'Brien was so active, Mr. Terrier. Well, O'Brien, but that is the same basket you have carried here from the river?"
"Throth, I don't know where I could change it an the road, sir--"
"Well, let us open the basket and see what it contains "--and O'Brien commenced unlacing the cords that bound up the wicker-tomb of the murdered child; but so anxious was Mr. Daw for prompt production of his evidence, that he took out his pen-knife and cut the fastenings.
"Now, take it out," said Mr. Daw; and every eye was riveted on the basket as O'Brien, lifting the cover and putting in his hand, said:
"Oh, then, but it's a beautiful baby!" and he turned up a look of the tenderest pity at the three gentlemen.
"Pull it out here! " said Mr. Daw imperatively; and O'Brien, with the utmost gentleness, lifting the lifeless body from the basket, produced--A DROWNED CAT!
"Oh, then, isn't it a darlint?" said O'Brien, with the most provoking affectation of pathos in his voice, while sarcasm was playing on his lip, and humour gleaming from his eye, as he witnessed with enjoyment the vacant stare of the discomfited Daw and Beau Peep, and exchanged looks with the worthy Squire, who had set up a horse-laugh the instant the poor pussy had made her appearance; and the moment he could recover his breath, exclaimed: "Why, by the L--d, it's a dead cat!" and hereupon the sound of smothered laughter reached them from outside the half-closed door, where the ladies, dear creatures! had stolen to listen, having been told that something not proper to bear was going forward.
The two grand inquisitors were so utterly confounded that neither had a word to say, and as soon as the Squire, had recovered from his immoderate fit of laughing, he said: "Well, gentlemen, this is a most Important discovery you have achieved! I think I must despatch an express to Government on the strength of it."
"Oh, wait a bit, your honour," said O'Brien, "there's more o' them yit;" and he took from out of the basket a handful of dead kittens.
Now, it happened that the cat had kittened in the convent that day, and as it not unfrequently happens, the ferocious animal had destroyed some of her offspring which so disgusted the nuns that they bundled cat and kittens into an old basket, and threw them all into the river, and thus the "'faint cry," and the words of the sisters, "The nasty creature, to do such a horrid thing," are at once explained.
"Why, this is worse than you anticipated, gentlemen," said the Squire, laughing, "for here not only one, but several lives have been sacrificed."
"Mr. Sturdy," said Mr. Daw, 'very solemnly, "let me tell you that if--"
"Tut! tut! my dear sir," said the good-humoured Squire, interrupting him, "the wisest in the world may be deceived now and then; and no wonder your sympathies should have been awakened by the piercing cries of the helpless little sufferers."
"Throth, the sign's an it," said O'Brien. "It's aisy to see that the gintlemen has no childher of their own, for if they had, by my sowl, it's long before they'd mistake the cry of a dirty cat for a Christian child."
This was a bitter hit of O'Brien's, for neither Mrs. Daw nor Mrs. Terrier had ever been "as ladies wish to be who love their lords."
"I think," said the Squire, "we may now dismiss this affair; and after you have changed your clothes, Mr. Terrier, a good glass of wine will do you no harm, for I see no use of letting the decanters lie idle any longer, since this mysterious affair has been elucidated."
"Throth, then, myself was thinkin' it a quare thing all along, for though sometimes a girl comes before your worship to sware a child agin a man, by the powers, I never heerd av a gintleman comin' to swear a child agin a woman yit--"
"Come, gentlemen," said the Squire, "the wine waits for us, and O'Brien and his son shall each have a glass of whisky to drink repose to the souls of the cats?"
"Good luck to your honour," said O'Brien, "and the misthress too--ah, by dad, it's she that knows the differ betune a cat and a child; and more power to your honour's elbow--"
But no entreaties on the part of Squire Sturdy could induce the discomfited Daw and Terrier to accept the Squire's proffered hospitality. The truth was, they were both utterly crestfallen, and as the ladies had overheard the whole affair, they were both anxious to get out of the house at fast as they could; so the Squire bowed them out of the hall-door--they wishing him a very civil good-night, and apologising for the trouble they had given him.
"Oh, don't mention it," said the laughing Squire; "really, I have been very much amused; for of all the strange cases that have ever come within my knowledge, I have never met with so very curious a cat--astrophe!"