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The Midnight Mass, a fiction by William Carleton

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_ Frank M'Kenna was a snug farmer, frugal and industrious in his habits, and, what is rare amongst most men of his class, addicted to neither drink nor quarrelling. He lived at the skirt of a mountain, which ran up in long successive undulations, until it ended in a dark, abrupt peak, very perpendicular on one side, and always, except on a bright day, capped with clouds. Before his door lay a hard plain, covered only with a kind of bent, and studded with round gray rocks, protruding somewhat above its surface. Through this plain, over a craggy channel, ran a mountain torrent, that issued to the right of M'Kenna's house, from a rocky and precipitous valley which twisted itself round the base of the mountain until it reached the perpendicular side, where the peak actually overhung it. On looking either from the bottom of the valley or the top of the peak, the depth appeared immense; and, on a summer's day, when the black thorns and other hardy shrubs that in some placas clothed its rocky sides were green, to view the river sparkling below you in the sun, as it flung itself over two or three cataracts of great depth and boldness, filled the mind with those undefinable sensations of pleasure inseparable from a contemplation of the sublimities of nature. Nor did it possess less interest when beheld in the winter storm. Well do we remember, though then ignorant of our own motives, when we have, in the turmoil of the elements, climbed its steep, shaggy sides, disappearing like a speck, or something not of earth, among the dark clouds that rolled over its summit, for no other purpose than to stand upon its brow, and look down on the red torrent, dashing with impetuosity from crag to crag, whilst the winds roared, and the clouds flew in dark columns around us, giving to the natural wildness of the place an air of wilder desolation.--Beyond this glen the mountains stretched away for eight or ten miles in swelling masses, between which lay many extensive sweeps, well sheltered and abundantly stocked with game, particularly with hares and grouse. M'Kenna's house stood, as I said, at the foot of this mountain, just where the yellow surface of the plain began to darken into the deeper hues of the heath; to the left lay a considerable tract of stony land in a state of cultivation; and beyond the river, exactly opposite the house, rose a long line of hills, studded with houses, and in summer diversified with pasture and corn fields, the beauty of which was heightened by the columns of smoke that slanted across the hills, as the breeze carried them through the lucid haze of the atmosphere.

M'Kenna's family consisted of himself, his wife, two daughters, and two sons. One of these was a young man addicted to drink, idle, ill-tempered, and disobedient; seldom taking a part in the labors of the family, but altogether devoted to field sports, fairs, markets, and dances. In many parts of Ireland it is usual to play at cards for mutton, loaves, fowls, or whiskey, and he was seldom absent from such gambling parties, if held within a reasonable distance. Often had the other members of the family remonstrated with him on his idle and immoral courses; but their remonstrances only excited his bad passions, and produced, on his part, angry and exasperating language, or open determination to abandon the family altogether and enlist. For some years he went on in this way, a hardened, ungodly profligate, spurning the voice of reproof and of conscience, and insensible to the entreaties of domestic affection, or the commands of parental authority. Such was his state of mind and mode of life when our story opens.

At the time in which the incidents contained in this sketch took place, the peasantry of Ireland, being less encumbered with heavy rents, and more buoyant in spirits than the decay of national prosperity has of late permitted them to be, indulged more frequently, and to a greater stretch, in those rural sports and festivities so suitable to their natural love of humor and amusement. Dances, wakes, and weddings, were then held according to the most extravagant forms of ancient usage; the people were easier in their circumstances, and consequently indulged in them with lighter hearts, and a stronger relish for enjoyment. When any of the great festivals of their religion approached, the popular mind, unrepressed by poverty and national dissension, gradually elevated itself to a species of wild and reckless mirth, productive of incidents irresistibly ludicrous, and remarkably characteristic of Irish manners. It is not, however, to be expected, that a people whose love of fighting is so innate a principle in their disposition, should celebrate these festive seasons without an occasional crime, which threw its deep shadow over the mirthful character of their customs. Many such occurred; but they were looked upon then with a degree of horror and detestation of which we can form but a very inadequate idea at present.

It was upon the advent of one of those festivals--Christmas--which the family of M'Kenna, like every other family in the neighborhood, were making preparations to celebrate with the usual hilarity. They cleared out their barn in order to have a dance on Christmas-eve; and for this purpose, the two sons and the servant-man wrought with that kind of industry produced by the cheerful prospect of some happy event. For a week or fortnight before the evening on which the dance was appointed to be held, due notice of it had been given to the neighbors, and, of course, there was no doubt but that it would be numerously attended.

Christmas-eve, as the day preceding Christmas is called, has been always a day of great preparation and bustle. Indeed the whole week previous to it is also remarkable, as exhibiting the importance attached by the people to those occasions on which they can give a loose to their love of fun and frolic. The farm-house undergoes a thorough cleansing. Father and sons are, or rather used to be, all engaged in repairing the out-houses, patching them with thatch where it was wanted, mending mangers, paving stable-floors, fixing cow-stakes, making boraghs,* removing nuisances, and cleaning streets.

* The rope with which a cow is tied in the cowhouse.

On the ether hand, the mother, daughters and maids, were also engaged in their several departments; the latter scouring the furniture with sand: the mother making culinary preparations, baking bread, killing fowls, or salting meat; whilst the daughters were unusually intent upon the decoration of their own dress, and the making up of the family linen. All, however, was performed with an air of gayety and pleasure; the ivy and holly were disposed about the dressers and collar beams with great glee; the chimneys were swept amidst songs and laughter; many bad voices, and some good ones, were put in requisition; whilst several who had never been known to chaunt a stave, alarmed the listeners by the grotesque and incomprehensible nature of their melody. Those who were inclined to devotion--and there is no lack of it in Ireland--took to carols and hymns, which they sang, for want of better airs, to tunes highly comic. We have ourselves often heard the Doxology sung in Irish verse to the facetious air of "Paudeen O'Rafferty," and other hymns to the tune of "Peas upon a Trencher," and "Cruskeen Lawn." Sometimes, on the contrary, many of them, from the very fulness of jollity, would become pathetic, and indulge in those touching old airs of their country, which maybe truly,called songs of sorrow, from the exquisite and simple pathos with which they abound. This, though it may seem anomalous, is but natural; for there is nothing so apt to recall to the heart those friends, whether absent or dead, with whom it has been connected, as a stated festival. Affection is then awakened, and summons to the hearth where it presides those on whose face it loves to look; if they be living, it places them in the circle of happiness which surrounds it; and if they be removed forever from such scenes, their memory, which, amidst the din of ordinary life, has almost passed away, is now restored, and their loss felt as if it had been only just then sustained. For this reason, at such times, it is not at all unusual to see the elders of Irish families touched by pathos as well as humor. The Irish are a people whose affections are as strong as their imaginations are vivid; and, in illustration of this, we may add, that many a time have we seen them raised to mirth and melted into tears almost at the same time, by a song of the most comic character. The mirth, however, was for the song, and the sorrow for the memory of some beloved relation who had been remarkable for singing it, or with whom it had been a favorite.

We do not affirm that in the family of the M'Kennas there were, upon the occasion which we were describing, any tears shed. The enjoyments of the season and the humors of the expected dance, both combined to give them a more than usual degree of mirth and frolic At an early hour all that was necessary for the due celebration of that night and the succeeding day, had been arranged and completed. The whiskey had been laid in, the Christmas candles bought, the barn cleared out, the seats laid; in short, every thing in its place, and a place for everything. About one o'clock, however, the young members of the family began to betray some symptoms of uneasiness; nor was M'Kenna himself, though the farithee or man of the house, altogether so exempt from what they felt, as might, if the cause of it were known to our readers, be expected from a man of his years and experience.

From time to time one of the girls tripped out as far as the stile before the door, where she stood looking in a particular direction until her sight was fatigued.

"Och,' och," her mother exclaimed during her absence, "but that colleen's sick about Barny!--musha, but it would be the beautiful joke, all out, if he'd disappoint the whole of yez. Faix, it wouldn't be unlike the same man, to go wherever he can make most money; and sure small blame to him for that; what's one place to him more than another?"

"Hut," M'Kenna replied, rising, however, to go out himself, "the girsha's makin' a bauliore (* laughing stock) of herself."

"An' where's yourself slippin' out to?" rejoined his wife, with a wink of shrewd humor at the rest. "I say, Frank, are you goin' to look for him too? Mavrone, but that's sinsible! Why, thin, you snakin' ould rogue, is that the way wid you? Throth I have often hard it said, that 'one fool makes many;' but sure enough, 'an ould fools worse nor any.' Come in here this minute, I say--walk back--you to have your horn up! Faix, indeed!"

"Why! I am only goin' to get the small phaties boiled for the pigs, poor crathurs, for their Christmas dinner. Sure we oughtn't to neglect thim no more than ourselves, the crathurs, that can't spake their wants, except by grantin'."

"Saints above!--the Lord forgive me for bringin' down their names upon a Christmas Eve, but it's beside himself the man is! an' him knows that the phaties wor boiled an' made up into balls for them airly this mornin'!"

In the meantime, the wife's good-natured attack upon her husband produced considerable mirth in the family. In consequence of what she said, he hesitated: but ultimately was proceeding towards the door, when the daughter returned, her brow flushed, and her eye sparkling with mirth and delight.

"Ha!" said the father, with a complacent smile, "all's right, Peggy, you seen him, alanna. The music's in your eye, acushla; an' the' feet of you can't keep themselves off o' the ground; an' all bekase you seen Barny Dhal (* blind Barney) pokin' acrass the fields, wid his head up, an' his skirt stickn' out behind him wid Granua Waile." (* The name of his fiddle)

The father had conjectured properly, for the joy which animated the girl's countenance could not be misunderstood.

"Barny's comin'," she exclaimed, clapping her hands with great glee, "an' our Frank wid him; they're at the river, and Frank has him on his back, and Granua Waile undhor his arm! Come out, come out! You'll die for good, lookin' at them staggerin' acrass. I knew he'd come! I knew it! and be good to thim that invinted Christmas; it's a brave time, faix!"

In a moment the inmates were grouped before the door, all anxious to catch a glimpse of Barny and Granua Waile.

"Faix ay! Sure enough.. Sarra doubt if it! Wethen, I'd never mistrust Barny!" might be heard in distinct exclamations from each.

"Faith he's a Trojan," said the farithee, an' must get lashins of the best we have. Come in, childher, an' red the hob for him.

"'Och, Christmas comes but wanst a year,
An' Christmas comes but wanst a year;
An' the divil a mouth
Shall be friends wid drouth,
While I have whiskey, ale, or beer.

Och, Christmas comes but wanst a year,
An' Christmas comes but waust a year;
Wid han' in han',
An' can to can,
Then Hi for the whiskey, ale, and beer.

Och, Christmas comes but wanst a year,
An' Christmas comes but wanst a year;
Then the high and the low
Shall shake their toe,
When primed wid whiskey, ale, an' beer.'

For all that, the sorra fig I care for either ale or beer, barrin' in regard of mere drouth; give me the whiskey, Eh, Alley--won't we have a jorum any how?"

"Why, thin," replied the wife, "the devil be from me (the crass about us for namin' him) but you're a greater Brinoge than some of your childher! I suppose its your capers Frank has in him. Will you behave yourself, you old slingpoke? Behave, I say, an let me go. Childher, will you help me to flake this man out o' the place? Look at him, here, caperin' an' crackin' his fingers afore me, an' pullin' me out to dance!"

"Och, och, murdher alive," exclaimed the good man out of breath, "I seen the day, any way! An', maybe, could show a step or two yet, if I was well fixed. You can't forget ould times, Alley? Eh, you thief?"

"Musha, have sinse, man alive," replied the wife, in a tone of placid gravity, which only betrayed the pleasure she herself felt in his happiness. "Have sinse, an' the strange man comin' in, an' don't let him see you in such figaries."

The observation of the good woman produced a loud laugh among them. "Arrah what are yez laughing at?" she inquired.

"Why, mother," said one of her daughters "how could Barny Dhal, a blind man, see anybody?"

Alley herself laughed at her blunder, but wittily replied, "Faith, avourneen, maybe he can often see as nately through his ear as you could do wid your eyes open; sure they say he can hear the grass growin'."

"For that matther," observed the farithee, joining in the joke, "he can see as far as any of us--while we're asleep."

The conversation was thus proceeding, when Barney Dhal and young Frank M'Kenna entered the kitchen.

In a moment all hands were extended to welcome Barney: "Millia failte ghud, Barny!" "Cead millia failte ghud, Barny!" "Oh, Barny, did you come at last? You're welcome." "Barny, my Trojan, how is every cart-load of you?" "How is Granua Waile, Barny?"

"Why, thin, holy music, did you never see Barny Dhal afore? Clear off from about me, or, by the sweets of rosin, I'll play the devil an' brake things. 'You're welcome, Barny!'--an' 'How are you, Barny?' Why thin, piper o' Moses, don't I know I'm welcome, an' yit you must be tellin' me what everybody knows! But sure I have great news for you all!"

"What is that, Barny?"

"Well, but can yez keep a sacret? Can yez, girls?"

"Faix can we, Barny, achora."

"Well, so can I--ha, ha, ha! Now, are,yez sarved? Come, let me to the hob."

"Here, Barny; I'll lead you, Barny."

"No, I have him; come, Barny, I'll lead you: here, achora, this is the spot--that's it. Why, Barny," said the arch girl, as she placed him in the corner, "sorra one o' the hob but knows you: it never stirs--ha, ha, ha!"

"Throth, a colleen, that tongue o' yours will delude some one afore long, if it hasn't done so already."

"But how is Granua Waile, Barny?"

"Poor Granua is it? Faith, times is hard wid her often. 'Granua,' says I to her 'what do you say, acushla? we're axed to go to two or three places to-day--what do you say? Do you lead, an' I'll follow: your will is my pleasure.' 'An' where are we axed to?' says Granua, sinsible enough. 'Why,' says I, 'to Paddy Lanigan's, to Mike Hartigan's, to Jack Lynch's, an' at the heel o' the hunt, to Frank M'Kenna's, of the Mountain Bar.' 'By my song,' says she, 'you may go where you plase; as for me, I'm off to Frank M'Kenna's, one of the dacentest men in Europe, an' his wife the same. Divil a toe I'll set a waggin' in any other place this night,' says she; 'for 'tis there we're both well thrated wid the best the house can afford. So,' says she, 'in the name of all that's musical, you're welcome to the poker an' tongs anywhere else; for me, I'm off to Frank's.' An' faith, sure enough, she took to her pumps; an' it was only comin' over the hill there, that young Frank an' I overtuck her: divil a lie in it."

In fact, Barney, besides being a fiddler, was a senachie of the first water; could tell a story, or trace a genealogy as well as any man living, and draw the long bow in either capacity much better than he could in the practice of his more legitimate profession.

"Well, here she is, Barny, to the fore," said the aforesaid arch girl, "an' now give us a tune."

"What!" replied the farithee, "is it wid-out either aitin' or dhrinkin'? Why, the girsha's beside herself! Alley, aroon, get him the linin'* an' a sup to tighten his elbow."

* Linin'--lining, so eating and drinking are often humorously termed by the people.

The good woman instantly went to provide refreshments for the musician.

"Come, girls," said Barny, "will yez get me a scythe or a handsaw."

"A scythe or a handsaw! eh, then what to do, Barny?"

"Why, to pare my nails, to be sure," replied Barny, with a loud laugh; "but stay--come back here--I'll make shift to do wid a pair of scissors this bout.

"'The parent finds his sons,
The tutherer whips them;
The nailer makes his nails,
The fiddler clips them.'"

Wherever Barny came there was mirth, and a disposition to be pleased, so that his jokes always told.

"Musha, the sorra pare you, Barny," said one of the girls; "but there's no bein' up to you, good or bad."

"The sorra pair me, is it? faix, Nancy, you'll soon be paired yourself wid some one, avourneen. Do you know a sartin young man wid a nose on him runnin' to a point like the pin of a sun-dial, his knees brakin' the king's pace, strikin' one another ever since he was able to walk, an' that was about four years afther he could say his Father Nosther; an' faith, whatever you may think, there's no makin' them paceable except by puttin' between them! The wrong side of his shin, too, is foremost; an' though the one-half of his two feet is all heels, he keeps the same heels for set days an' bonfire nights, an' savinly walks on his ankles. His leg, too, Nancy, is stuck in the middle of his foot, like a poker in a pick-axe; an', along wid all--"

"Here, Barny, thry your hand at this," said the good woman, who had not heard his ludicrous description of her fictitious son-in-law--"eeh arran agus bee laudher, Barny, ate bread and be strong. I'll warrant when you begin to play, they'll give you little time to do anything but scrape away;--taste the dhrink first, anyway, in the name o' God,"--and she filled him a glass.

"Augh, augh! faith you're the moral of a woman. Are you there, Frank M'Kenna?--here's a sudden disholution to your family! May they be scattered wid all speed--manin' the girls--to all corners o' the parish!--ha, ha, ha! Well, that won't vex them, anyhow; an' next, here's a merry Chris'mas to us, an' many o' them! Whooh! blur-an'-age! whooh! oh, by gorra!--that's--that's--Frank run afther my breath--I've lost it--run, you tory: oh, by gor, that's stuff as sthrong as Sampson, so it is. Arrah, what well do you dhraw that from? for, faith, 'twould be mighty convanient to live near it in a hard frost."

Barny was now silent for some time, which silence was produced by the industry he displayed in assailing the substantial refreshments before him. When he had concluded his repast he once more tasted the liquor; after which he got Granua Waile, and continued playing their favorite tunes, and amusing them with anecdotes, both true and false, until the hour drew nigh when his services were expected by the young men and maidens who had assembled to dance in the barn. Occasionally, however, they took a preliminary step in which they were joined by few of their neighbors. Old Frank himself felt his spirits elevated by contemplating the happiness of his children and their young associates.

"Frank," said he, to the youngest of his sons, "go down to Owen Reillaghan's, and tell him an' his family to come up to the dance early in the evenin'. Owen's a pleasant man," he added, "and a good neighbor, but a small thought too strict in his duties. Tell him to come up, Frank, airly, I say; he'll have time enough to go to the Midnight Mass afther dancin' the 'Rakes of Ballyshanny,' and 'the Baltihorum jig;' an' maybe he can't do both in style!"

"Ay," said Frank, in a jeering manner, "he carries a handy heel at the dancin', and a soople tongue at the prayin'; but let him alone for bringin' the bottom of his glass and his eyebrow acquainted. But if he'd pray less--"

"Go along, a veehonce, (* you profligate) an' bring him up," replied the father: "you to talk about prayin'! Them that 'ud catch you at a prayer ought to be showed for the world to wondher at: a man wid two heads an him would be a fool to him. Go along, I say, and do what you're bid."

"I'm goin'," said Frank. "I'm off; but what if he doesn't come? I'll then have my journey for nothin'."

"An' it's good payment for any journey ever you'll make, barrin' it's to the gallows," replied the father, nearly provoked at his reluctance in obeying him: "won't you have dancin' enough in the coorse o' the night, for you'll not go to the Midnight Mass, and why don't you be off wid you at wanst?"

Frank shrugged his shoulders two or three times, being loth to leave the music and dancing; but on seeing his father about to address him in sharper language, he went out with a frown on his brows, and a half-smothered imprecation bursting from his lips.

He had not proceeded more than a few yards from the door, when he met Rody Teague, his father's servant, on his way to the kitchen. "Rody," said he, "isn't this a purty business? My father wantin' to send me down to Owen Reillaghan's; when, by the vartue o' my oath, I'd as soon go half way into hell, as to any place where his son, Mike Reillaghan, 'ud be. How will I manage, Rody?"

"Why," replied Rody, "as to meetin' wid Mike, take my advice and avoid him. And what is more I'd give up Peggy Gartland for good. Isn't it a mane thing for you, Frank, to be hangin' afther a girl that's fonder of another than she is of yourself. By this and by that, I'd no more do it--avvouh! catch me at it--I'd have spunk in me."

Frank's brow darkened as Rody spoke; instead of instantly replying', he was silent and appeared to be debating some point in his own mind, on which he had not come to a determination.

"My father didn't hear of the fight between Mike and me?" said he, interrogatively--"do you think he did, Rody?"

"Not to my knowledge," replied the servant; "if he did, he wouldn't surely send you down; but talking of the fight, you are known to be a stout, well-fought boy--no doubt of that--still, I say, you had no right to provoke Mike as you did, who, it's well known, could bate any two men in the parish; and so sign, you got yourself dacently trounced, about a girl that doesn't love a bone in your skin."

"He disgraced me, Rody," observed Frank--"I can't rise my head; and you know I was thought, by all the parish, as good a man as him. No, I wouldn't, this blessed Christmas Eve above us, for all that ever my name was worth, be disgraced by him as I am. But--hould, man--have patience!"

"Throth and, Frank, that's what you never had," said Eody; "and as to bein' disgraced, you disgraced yourself. What right had you to challenge the boy to fight, and to strike him into the bargain, bekase Peggy Gartland danced with him, and wouldn't go out wid you? Death alive, sure that wasn't his fault."

Every word of reproof which proceeded from Rody's lips but strengthened Frank's rage, and added to his sense of shame; he looked first in the direction of Reillaghan's house, and immediately towards the little village in which Peggy Gartland lived.

"Rody," said he, slapping him fiercely on the shoulder, "go in--I've--I've made up my mind upon what I'll do; go in, Eody, and get your dinner; but don't be out of the way when I come back."

"And what have you made up your mind to?" inquired Eody.

"Why, by the sacred Mother o' Heaven, Rody, to--to--be friends wid Mike."

"Ay, there's sinse and rason in that," replied Eody; "and if you'd take my advice you'd give up Peggy Gartland, too."

"I'll see you when I come back, Eody; don't be from about the place."

And as he spoke, a single spring brought him over the stile at which they held the foregoing conversation.

On advancing, he found himself in one of his father's fields, under the shelter of an elder-hedge. Here he paused, and seemed still somewhat uncertain as to the direction in which he should proceed. At length he decided; the way towards Peggy Gartland's was that which he took, and as he walked rapidly, he soon found himself at the village in which she lived.

It was now a little after twilight; the night was clear the moon being in her first quarter, and the clouds through which she appeared to struggle, were light and fleecy, but rather cold-looking, such, in short, as would seem to promise a sudden fall of snow. Frank had passed the two first cabins of the village, and was in the act of parrying the attacks of some yelping cur that assailed him, when he received a slap on the back, accompanied by a gho manhi Dhea gliud, a Franchas, co wul thu guilh a nish, a rogora duh?*

* God save you, Frank! where are you going now, you black rogue?

"Who's this?" exclaimed Frank: "eh! why, Darby More, you sullin' thief o' the world, is this you?"

"Ay, indeed; an' you're goin' down to Peggy's?" said the the other, pointing significantly towards Peggy Gartland's house. "Well, man, what's the harm? She may get worse, that is, hopin' still that you'll mend your manners, a bouchal: but isn't your nose out o' joint there, Frank, darlin'?"

"No sich thing at all, Darby," replied Frank, gulping down his indignation, which rose afresh on hearing that the terms on which he stood with Peggy were so notorious.

"Throth but it is," said Darby, "an' to tell the blessed thruth, I'm not sarry that it's out o' joint; for when I tould you to lave the case in my hands, along wid a small thrifle o' silver that didn't signify much to you--whoo! not at all: you'd rather play it at cards, or dhrink it, or spind it wid no good. Out o' joint! nrasha, if ever a man's nose was to be pitied, and yours is: why, didn't Mike Reillaghan put it out o' joint, twist? first in regard to Peggy, and secondly by the batin' he gave you an it."

"It's well known, Darby," replied Frank, "that 'twas by a chance blow he did it; and, you know, a chance blow might kill the devil."

"But there was no danger of Mike's gettin' the chance blow," observed the sarcastic vagrant, for such he was.

"Maybe it's afore him," replied his companion: "we'll have another thrial for it, any how; but where are you goin', Darby? Is it to the dance?"

Me! Is it a man "wid two holy ordhers an him?* No, no! I might go up, may be, as far as your father's, merely to see the family, only for the night that's in it; but I'm goin' to another frind's place to spind my Chris'mas, an' over an' above, I must go to the Midnight Mass. Frank, change your coorses, an' mend your life, an' don't be the talk o' the parish. Remimber me to the family, an' say I'll see them soon."

* The religious orders, as they are termed, most commonly entered into by the peasantry, are those of the Scapular and St. Francis. The order of Jesus--or that of the Jesuits, is only entered into by the clergy and the higher lay classes.

"How long will you stop in the neighborhood?" inquired Frank.

"Arrah why, acushla?" replied the mendicant, softening his language.

"I might be wantin to see you some o' these days," said the other: "indeed, it's not unlikely, Darby; so don't go, any how, widout seein' me."

"Ah!" said Darby, "had you taken a fool's advice--but it can't be helped now--the harm's done, I doubt; how-an'-ever, for the matther o' that, may be I have as good as Peggy in my eye for you; by the same token, as the night's could, warm your tooth, avick; there's waker wather nor this in Lough Mecall. Sorra sup of it over I keep for my own use at all, barrin' when I take a touch o' configuration in my bowels, or, may be, when I'm too long at my prayers; for, God help me, sure I'm but sthrivin', wid the help o' one thing an' another, to work out my salvation as well as I can! Your health, any how, an' a merry Chris'mas to you!--not forgettin' myself," he added, putting to his lips a large cow's horn, which he kept slung beneath his arm, like the bugle of a coach-guard, only that this was generally concealed by an outside coat, no two inches of which were of the same materials of color. Having taken a tolerably large draught from this, which, by the "way, held near two quarts, he handed it with a smack and a shrug to Frank, who immediately gave it a wipe with the skirt of his coat, and pledged his companion.

"I'll be wantin'," observed Frank, "to see you in the hollydays--faith, that stuff's to be christened yet, Darby--so don't go till we have a dish o' discoorse about somethin' I'll mintion to you. As for Peggy Gartland, I'm done wid her; she may marry ould Nick for me."

"Or you for ould Nick," said the cynic, "which would be nearly the same thing: but go an, avick, an' never heed me; sure I must have my spake--doesn't every body know Darby More?"

"I've nothin' else to say now," added Frank, "and you have my authority to spread it as far as you plase. I'm done wid her: so good-night, an' good cuttin' (* May what's in it never fail) to your horn, Darby!--You damn ould villian!" he subjoined in a low voice, when Darby had got out of his hearing: "surely it's not in yourself, but in the blessed words and things you have about you, that there is any good."

"Musha, good-night, Frank alanna," replied the other;--"an' the divil sweep you, for a skamin' vagabone, that's a curse to the country, and has kep me out o' more weddins than any one I ever met wid, by your roguery in puttin' evil between frinds an' neighbors, jist whin they'd be ready for the priest to say the words over them! Good won't come of you, you profligate."

The last words were scarcely uttered by the sturdy mendicant, when he turned round to observe whether or not Frank would stop at Larry Gartland's, the father of the girl to whom he had hitherto unsuccessfully avowed his attachment.

"I'd depind an him," said he, in a soliloquy, "as soon as I'd depind upon ice of an hour's growth: an', whether or not, sure as I'm an my way to Owen Reillaghan's, the father of the dacent boy that he's strivin' to outdo, mayn't I as well watch his motions, any way?"

He accordingly proceeded along the shadowy side of the street, in order to avoid Frank's eye, should he chance to look back, and quietly dodged on until he fairly saw him enter the house.

Having satisfied himself that the object of Frank's visit to the village was in some shape connected with Peggy Gartland, the mendicant immediately retraced his steps, and at a pace more rapid than usual, strided on to Owen Reillaghan's, whither he arrived just in time to secure an excellent Christmas-eve dinner.

In Ireland, that description of mendicants which differ so strikingly from the common crowd of beggars as to constitute a distinct species, comprehends within itself as anomalous an admixture of fun and devotion, external rigor and private licentiousness, love of superstition and of good whiskey, as might naturally be supposed, without any great sketch of credulity, to belong to men thrown among a people in whom so many extremes of character and morals meet. The known beggar, who goes his own rounds, and has his own walk, always adapts his character to that of his benefactor, whose whims and peculiarities of temper he studies with industry, and generally with success. By this means, joined to a dexterity in tracing out the private history of families and individuals, he is enabled to humor the capprices, to manage the eccentricities, and to touch with a masterly hand the prejudices, and particular opinions, of his patrons; and this he contrives to do with great address and tact. Such was the character of Darby More, whose person, naturally large, was increased to an enormous size by the number of coats, blankets, and bags, with which he was encumbered. A large belt, buckled round his body, contained within its girth much more of money, meal, and whiskey, than ever met the eye; his hat was exceedingly low in the crown; his legs were cast in at least three pairs of stockings; and in his hand he carried a long cant, spiked at the lower end, with which he slung himself over small rivers and dykes, and kept dogs at bay. He was a devotee, too, notwithstanding the whiskey horn under his arm; attended wakes, christenings, and weddings: rubbed for the rose (* a scrofulous swelling) and king's evil, (for the varlet insisted that he was a seventh son); cured toothaches, colics, and headaches, by charms; but made most money by a knack which he possessed of tatooing into the naked breast the representation of Christ upon the cross. This was a secret of considerable value, for many of the superstitious people believed that by having this stained in upon them, they would escape unnatural deaths, and be almost sure of heaven. _

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