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- Handy Andy, Vol. 2 - 1/52 -
A Tale of Irish Life
IN TWO VOLUMES--VOLUME TWO
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF SAMUEL LOVER (V. 4)
[Illustration: Tom Organ Loftus' Coldairian System]
[Illustration: Tom Connor's Cat]
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS VOLUME TWO
Tom Organ Loftus' Coldairian System
Tom Connor's Cat
Andy's Cooking Extraordinary
Tom Organ Loftus and the Duke
A Crack Shot
The Party at Killarney
_Etched by W. H. W. Bicknell from drawings by Samuel Lover_
The night was pitch dark, and on rounding the adjacent corner no vehicle could be seen; but a peculiar whistle from Dick was answered by the sound of approaching wheels and the rapid footfalls of a horse, mingled with the light rattle of a smart gig. On the vehicle coming up, Dick took his little mare, that was blacker than the night, by the head, the apron of the gig was thrown down, and out jumped a smart servant-boy.
"You have the horse ready, too, Billy?"
"Yis, sir," said Billy, touching his hat.
"Then follow, and keep up with me, remember."
"Come to her head, here," and he patted the little mare's neck as he spoke with a caressing "whoa," which was answered by a low neigh of satisfaction, while the impatient pawing of her fore foot showed the animal's desire to start. "What an impatient little devil she is," said Dick, as he mounted the gig; "I'll get in first, Murphy, as I'm going to drive. Now up with you--hook on the apron--that's it--are you all right?"
"Quite," said Murphy.
"Then you be into your saddle and after us, Billy," said Dick; "and now let her go."
Billy gave the little black mare her head, and away she went, at a slapping pace, the fire from the road answering the rapid strokes of her nimble feet. The servant then mounted a horse which was tied to a neighbouring palisade, and had to gallop for it to come up with his master, who was driving with a swiftness almost fearful, considering the darkness of the night and the narrowness of the road he had to traverse, for he was making the best of his course by cross-ways to an adjacent roadside inn, where some non-resident electors were expected to arrive that night by a coach from Dublin; for the county town had every nook and cranny occupied, and this inn was the nearest point where they could get any accommodation.
Now don't suppose that they were electors whom Murphy and Dick in their zeal for their party were going over to greet with hearty welcomes and bring up to the poll the next day. By no means. They were the friends of the opposite party, and it was with the design of retarding their movements that this night's excursion was undertaken. These electors were a batch of plain citizens from Dublin, whom the Scatterbrain interest had induced to leave the peace and quiet of the city to tempt the wilds of the country at that wildest of times--during a contested election; and a night coach was freighted inside and out with the worthy cits, whose aggregate voices would be of immense importance the next day; for the contest was close, the county nearly polled out, and but two days more for the struggle. Now, to intercept these plain unsuspecting men was the object of Murphy, whose well-supplied information had discovered to him this plan of the enemy, which he set about countermining. As they rattled over the rough by-roads, many a laugh did the merry attorney and the untameable Dick the Devil exchange, as the probable success of their scheme was canvassed, and fresh expedients devised to meet the possible impediments which might interrupt them. As they topped a hill Murphy pointed out to his companion a moving light in the plain beneath.
"That's the coach, Dick--there are the lamps, we're just in time--spin down the hill, my boy--let me get in as they're at supper, and 'faith they'll want it, after coming off a coach such a night as this, to say nothing of some of them being aldermen in expectancy perhaps, and of course obliged to play trencher-men as often as they can, as a requisite rehearsal for the parts they must hereafter fill."
In fifteen minutes more Dick pulled up before a small cabin within a quarter of a mile of the inn, and the mounted servant tapped at the door, which was immediately opened, and a peasant, advancing to the gig, returned the civil salutation with which Dick greeted his approach.
"I wanted to be sure you were ready, Barny."
"Oh, do you think I'd fail you, Misther Dick, your honour?"
"I thought you might be asleep, Barny."
"Not when you bid me wake, sir; and there's a nice fire ready for you, and as fine a dhrop o' _potteen_ as ever tickled your tongue, sir."
"You're the lad, Barny!--good fellow--I'll be back with you by-and-by;" and off whipped Dick again.
After going about a quarter of a mile further, he pulled up, alighted with Murphy from the gig, unharnessed the little black mare, and then overturned the gig into the ditch.
"That's as natural as life," said Dick.
"What an escape of my neck I've had!" said Murphy.
"Are you much hurt?" said Dick.
"A trifle lame only," said Murphy, laughing and limping.
"There was a great _boccagh_ [Footnote: Lame beggar.] lost in you, Murphy. Wait; let me rub a handful of mud on your face--there--you have a very upset look, 'pon my soul," said Dick, as he flashed the light of his lantern on him for a moment, and laughed at Murphy scooping the mud out of his eye, where Dick had purposely planted it.
"Devil take you," said Murtough; "that's too natural."
"There's nothing like looking your part," said Dick.
"Well, I may as well complete my attire," said Murtough, so he lay down in the road and took a roll in the mud; "that will do," said he; "and now, Dick, go back to Barny and the mountain dew, while I storm the camp of the Philistines. I think in a couple of hours you may be on the look-out for me; I'll signal you from the window, so now good bye;" and Murphy, leading the mare, proceeded to the inn, while Dick, with a parting "Luck to you, my boy," turned back to the cottage of Barny.
The coach had set down six inside and ten out passengers (all voters) about ten minutes before Murphy marched up to the inn door, leading the black mare, and calling "ostler" most lustily. His call being answered for "the beast," "the man" next demanded attention; and the landlord wondered all the wonders he could cram into a short speech, at seeing Misther Murphy, sure, at such a time; and the sonsy landlady, too, was all lamentations for his illigant coat and his poor eye, sure, all ruined with the mud:--and what was it at all? an upset, was it? oh, wirra! and wasn't it lucky he wasn't killed, and they without a spare bed to lay him out dacent if he was--sure, wouldn't it be horrid for his body to be only on sthraw in the barn, instead of the best feather-bed in the house; and, indeed, he'd be welcome to it, only the gintlemen from town had them all engaged.
"Well, dead or alive, I must stay here to-night, Mrs. Kelly, at all events."
"And what will you do for a bed?"
"A shake down in the parlour, or a stretch on a sofa, will do; my gig is stuck fast in a ditch--my mare tired--ten miles from home--cold night, and my knee hurt." Murphy limped as he spoke.
"Oh! your poor knee," said Mrs. Kelly; "I'll put a dhrop o' whisky and brown paper on it, sure--"
"And what gentlemen are these, Mrs. Kelly, who have so filled your house?"
"Gintlemen that came by the coach a while agone, and supping in the parlour now, sure."
"Would you give my compliments, and ask would they allow me, under the present peculiar circumstances, to join them? and in the meantime, send somebody down the road to take the cushions out of my gig; for there is no use in attempting to get the gig out till morning."
"Sartinly, Misther Murphy, we'll send for the cushions; but as for the gentlemen, they are all on the other side."
"What other side?"
"The Honourable's voters, sure."
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