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- Stories by English Authors: Ireland - 1/22 -


STORIES BY ENGLISH AUTHORS

IRELAND

THE GRIDIRON BY SAMUEL LOVER THE EMERGENCY MEN BY GEORGE H. JESSOP A LOST RECRUIT BY JANE BARLOW THE RIVAL DREAMERS BY JOHN BANIM NEAL MALONE BY WILLIAM CARLETON THE BANSHEE ANONYMOUS

THE GRIDIRON

BY SAMUEL LOVER

A certain old gentleman in the west of Ireland, whose love of the ridiculous quite equalled his taste for claret and fox-hunting, was wont, upon festive occasions, when opportunity offered, to amuse his friends by DRAWING OUT one of his servants, exceedingly fond of what he termed, his "thravels," and in whom a good deal of whim, some queer stories, and, perhaps more than all, long and faithful services had established a right of loquacity. He was one of those few trusty and privileged domestics who, if his master unheedingly uttered a rash thing in a fit of passion, would venture to set him right. If the squire said, "I'll turn that rascal off," my friend Pat would say, "Throth you won't, sir;" and Pat was always right, for if any altercation arose upon the "subject-matter in hand," he was sure to throw in some good reason, either from former services--general good conduct--or the delinquent's "wife and children," that always turned the scale.

But I am digressing. On such merry meetings as I have alluded to, the master, after making certain "approaches," as a military man would say, as the preparatory steps in laying siege to some extravaganza of his servant, might, perchance, assail Pat thus: "By the by, Sir John" (addressing a distinguished guest), "Pat has a very curious story, which something you told me to-day reminds me of. You remember, Pat" (turning to the man, evidently pleased at the notice thus paid to himself)--"you remember that queer adventure you had in France?"

"Throth I do, sir," grins forth Pat.

"What!" exclaims Sir John, in feigned surprise, "was Pat ever in France?"

"Indeed he was," cries mine host; and Pat adds, "Ay, and farther, plase your honour."

"I assure you, Sir John," continues mine host, "Pat told me a story once that surprised me very much, respecting the ignorance of the French."

"Indeed!" rejoined the baronet; "really, I always supposed the French to be a most accomplished people."

"Throth, then, they're not, sir," interrupts Pat.

"Oh, by no means," adds mine host, shaking his head emphatically.

"I believe, Pat, 'twas when you were crossing the Atlantic?" says the master, turning to Pat with a seductive air, and leading into the "full and true account" (for Pat had thought fit to visit North Amerikay, for "a raison he had," in the autumn of the year ninety-eight).

"Yes, sir," says Pat, "the broad Atlantic"--a favourite phrase of his, which he gave with a brogue as broad, almost, as the Atlantic itself.

"It was the time I was lost in crassin' the broad Atlantic, a-comin' home," began Pat, decoyed into the recital; "whin the winds began to blow, and the saw to rowl, that you'd think the Colleen Dhas (that was her name) would not have a mast left but what would rowl out of her.

"Well, sure enough, the masts went by the hoard, at last, and the pumps were choked (divil choke them for that same), and av coorse the wather gained an us; and, throth, to be filled with wather is neither good for man or baste; and she was sinkin' fast, settlin' down, as the sailors call it; and, faith, I never was good at settlin' down in my life, and I liked it then less nor ever. Accordingly we prepared for the worst, and put out the boot, and got a sack o' bishkits and a cask o' pork and a kag o' wather and a thrifle o' rum aboord, and any other little matthers we could think iv in the mortial hurry we wor in--and, faith, there was no time to be lost, for, my darlint, the Colleen Dhas went down like a lump o' lead afore we wor many sthrokes o' the oar away from her.

"Well, we dhrifted away all that night, and next mornin' we put up a blanket an the end av a pole as well as we could, and then we sailed illegant; for we darn't show a stitch o' canvas the night before, bekase it was blowin' like bloody murther, savin' your presence, and sure it's the wondher of the worid we worn't swally'd alive by the ragin' sae.

"Well, away we wint, for more nor a week, and nothin' before our two good-lookin' eyes but the canophy iv heaven and the wide ocean--the broad Atlantic; not a thing was to be seen but the sae and the sky; and though the sae and the sky is mighty purty things in themselves, throth, they're no great things when you've nothin' else to look at for a week together; and the barest rock in the world, so it was land, would be more welkim. And then, soon enough, throth, our provisions began to run low, the bishkits and the wather and the rum--throth, THAT was gone first of all--God help uz!--and oh! it was thin that starvation began to stare us in the face. 'O murther, murther, Captain darlint,' says I, 'I wish we could land anywhere,' says I.

"'More power to your elbow, Paddy, my boy,' says he, 'for sitch a good wish, and, throth, it's myself wishes the same.'

"'Och,' says I, 'that it may plase you, sweet queen iv heaven, supposing it was only a DISSOLUTE island,' says I, 'inhabited wid Turks, sure they wouldn't be such bad Chrishthans as to refuse us a bit and a sup.'

"'Whisht, whisht, Paddy,' says the captain, 'don't be talking bad of any one,' says he; 'you don't know how soon you may want a good word put in for yourself, if you should be called to quarthers in th' other world all of a suddint," says he.

"'Thrue for you, Captain darlint,' says I--I called him darlint, and made free with him, you see, bekase disthress makes us all equal--'thrue for you, Captain jewel--God betune uz and harm, I own no man any spite'--and, throth, that was only thruth. Well, the last bishkit was sarved out, and, by gor, the WATHER ITSELF was all gone at last, and we passed the night mighty cowld. Well, at the brake o' day the sun riz most beautifully out o' the waves, that was as bright as silver and as clear as chrystal. But it was only the more cruel upon us, for we wor beginnin' to feel TERRIBLE hungry; when all at wanst I thought I spied the land. By gor, I thought I felt my heart up in my throat in a minit, and 'Thunder an' turf, Captain,' says I, 'look to leeward,' says I.

"'What for?' says he.

"'I think I see the land,' says I.

"So hes ups with his bring-'em-near (that's what the sailors call a spy-glass, sir), and looks out, and, sure enough, it was.

"'Hurrah!' says he, 'we're all right now; pull away, my boys,' says he.

"'Take care you're not mistaken,' says I; 'maybe it's only a fog-bank, Captain darlint,' says I.

"'Oh no,' says he; 'it's the land in airnest.'

"'Oh, then, whereaboats in the wide world are we, Captain?' says I; 'maybe it id be in ROOSIA, or PROOSIA, the Garmant Oceant,' says I.

"'Tut, you fool,' says he, for he had that consaited way wid him, thinkin' himself cleverer nor any one else--'tut, you fool,' says he, 'that's FRANCE,' says he.

"'Tare an ouns,' says I, 'do you tell me so? and how do you know it's France it is, Captain dear?' says I.

"'Bekase this is the Bay o' Bishky we're in now,' says he.

"'Throth, I was thinkin' so myself,' says I, 'by the rowl it has; for I often heerd av it in regard of that same; and, throth, the likes av it I never seen before nor since, and, with the help of God, never will.'

"Well, with that, my heart began to grow light; and when I seen my life was safe, I began to grow twice hungrier nor ever; so says I, 'Captain jewel, I wish we had a gridiron.'

"'Why, then,' says he, 'thunder an' turf,' says he, 'what puts a gridiron into your head?'

"'Bekase I'm starvin' with the hunger,' says I.

"'And, sure, bad luck to you,' says he, 'you couldn't eat a gridiron,' says he, 'barrin' you were a PELICAN O' THE WILDHERNESS,' says he.

"'Ate a gridiron!' says I. 'Och, in throth, I'm not such a gommoch all out as that, anyhow. But, sure, if we had a gridiron we could dress a beefstake,' says I.

"'Arrah! but where's the beefstake?' says he.

"'Sure, couldn't we cut a slice aff the pork?' says I.

"'By gor, I never thought o' that,' says the captain. 'You're a


Stories by English Authors: Ireland - 1/22

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