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Banim, John / Stories by English Authors: Ireland
But God only
knows. The top o' the morning to you, Noreen, and don't let her
want the mouthful o' praties while I'm on my thravels. For this,"
added Shamus, as he bounded off, to the consternation of old
Noreen--"this is the very morning and the very minute that, if
I mind the dhrame at all at all, I ought to mind it; ay, without
ever turning back to get a look from her, that 'ud kill the heart
in my body entirely."

Without much previous knowledge of the road he was to take, Shamus
walked and begged his way along the coast to the town where he
might hope to embark for England. Here the captain of a merchantman
agreed to let him work his passage to Bristol, whence he again
walked and begged into London.

Without taking rest or food, Shamus proceeded to London Bridge,
often put out of his course by wrong directions, and as often
by forgetting and misconceiving true ones. It was with old London
Bridge that Shamus had to do (not the old one last pulled down, but
its more reverend predecessor), which, at that time, was lined
at either side by quaintly fashioned houses, mostly occupied
by shopkeepers, so that the space between presented perhaps the
greatest thoroughfare then known in the Queen of Cities. And at
about two o'clock in the afternoon, barefooted, ragged, fevered,
and agitated, Shamus mingled with the turbid human stream, that
roared and chafed over the as restless and as evanescent stream
which buffeted the arches of old London Bridge. In a situation so
novel to him, so much more extraordinary in the reality than his
anticipation could have fancied, the poor and friendless stranger
felt overwhelmed. A sense of forlornness, of insignificance, and
of terror seized upon his faculties. From the stare or the sneers
or the jostle of the iron-nerved crowd he shrank with glances of
wild timidity, and with a heart as wildly timid as were his looks.
For some time he stood or staggered about, unable to collect his
thoughts, or to bring to mind what was his business there. But when
Shamus became able to refer to the motive of his pauper journey
from his native solitudes into the thick of such a scene, it was
no wonder that the zeal of superstition totally subsided amid the
astounding truths he witnessed. In fact, the bewildered simpleton
now regarded his dream as the merest chimera. Hastily escaping
from the thoroughfare, he sought out some wretched place of repose
suited to his wretched condition, and there mooned himself asleep,
in self-accusations at the thought of poor Nance at home, and in
utter despair of all his future prospects.

At daybreak the next morning he awoke, a little less agitated, but
still with no hope. He was able, however, to resolve upon the best
course of conduct now left open to him; and he arranged immediately
to retrace his steps to Ireland, as soon as he should have begged
sufficient alms to speed him a mile on the road. With this intent
he hastily issued forth, preferring to challenge the notice of
chance passengers, even at the early hour of dawn, than to venture
again, in the middle of the day, among the dreaded crowds of the
vast city. Very few, indeed, were the passers-by whom Shamus met
during his straggling and stealthy walk through the streets, and
those of a description little able or willing to afford a half-penny
to his humbled, whining suit, and to his spasmed lip and watery
eye. In what direction he went Shamus did not know; but at last he
found himself entering upon the scene of his yesterday's terror.
Now, however, it presented nothing to renew its former impression.
The shops at the sides of the bridge were closed, and the occasional
stragglers of either sex who came along inspired Shamus, little as
he knew of a great city, with aversion rather than with dread. In
the quietness and security of his present position, Shamus was both
courageous and weak enough again to summon up his dream.

"Come," he said, "since I AM on Lunnon Bridge, I 'll walk over
every stone of it, and see what good that will do."

He valiantly gained the far end. Here one house, of all that stood
upon the bridge, began to be opened; it was a public-house, and, by
a sidelong glance as he passed, Shamus thought that, in the person
of a red-cheeked, red-nosed, sunken-eyed, elderly man, who took
down the window-shutters, he recognised the proprietor. This person
looked at Shamus, in return, with peculiar scrutiny. The wanderer
liked neither his regards nor the expression of his countenance,
and quickened his steps onward until he cleared the bridge.

"But I 'll walk it over at the other side now," he bethought, after
allowing the publican time to finish opening his house and retire
out of view.

But, repassing the house, the man still appeared, leaning against
his door-jamb, and as if waiting for Shamus's return, whom, upon
this second occasion, he eyed more attentively than before.

"Sorrow's in him," thought Shamus, "have I two heads on me, that
I'm such a sight to him? But who cares about his pair of ferret
eyes? I 'll thrudge down the middle stone of it, at any rate!"

Accordingly, he again walked toward the public-house, keeping the
middle of the bridge.

"Good-morrow, friend," said the publican, as Shamus a third time
passed his door.

"Sarvant kindly, sir," answered Shamus, respectfully pulling down
the brim of his hat, and increasing his pace.

"Am early hour you choose for a morning walk," continued his new
acquaintance.

"Brave and early, faix, sir," said Shamus, still hurrying off.

"Stop a bit," resumed the publican. Shamus stood still. "I see
you're a countryman of mine --an Irishman; I'd know one of you at
a look, though I'm a long time out of the country. And you're not
very well off on London Bridge this morning, either."

"No, indeed, sir," replied Shamus, beginning to doubt his skill in
physiognomy, at the stranger's kind address; "but as badly off as
a body 'ud wish to be."

"Come over to look for the work?"

"Nien, sir; but come out this morning to beg a ha'-penny, to send
me a bit of the road home."

"Well, here's a silver sixpence without asking. And you'd better
sit on the bench by the door here, and eat a crust and a cut of
cheese, and drink a drop of good ale, to break your fast."

With profuse thanks Shamus accepted this kind invitation, blaming
himself at heart for having allowed his opinion of the charitable
publican to be guided by the expression of the man's features.
"Handsome is that handsome does," was Shamus's self-correcting
reflection.

While eating his bread and cheese and drinking his strong ale,
they conversed freely together, and Shamus's heart opened more and
more to his benefactor. The publican repeatedly asked him what had
brought him to London; and though, half out of prudence and half
out of shame, the dreamer at first evaded the question, he felt it
at last impossible to refuse a candid answer to his generous friend.

"Why, then, sir, only I am such a big fool for telling it to you,
it's what brought me to Lunnon Bridge was a quare dhrame I had at
home in Ireland, that tould me just to come here, and I'd find a
pot of goold." For such was the interpretation given by Shamus to
the vague admonition of his visionary counsellor.

His companion burst into a loud laugh, saying after it:

"Pho, pho, man, don't be so silly as to put faith in nonsensical
dreams of that kind. Many a one like it I have had, if I would bother
my head with them. Why, within the last ten days, while you were
dreaming of finding a pot of gold on London Bridge, I was dreaming
of finding a pot of gold in Ireland."

"Ullaloo, and were you, sir?" asked Shamus, laying down his empty
pint.

"Ay, indeed; night after night an old friar with a pale face, and
dressed all in white and black, and a black skull-cap on his head,
came to me in a dream, and bid me go to Ireland, to a certain spot
in a certain county that I know very well, and under the slab of
his tomb, that has a cross and some old Romish letters on it, in
an old abbey I often saw before now, I'd find a treasure that would
make me a rich man all the days of my life."

"Musha, sir," asked Shamus, scarce able prudently to control his
agitation," and did he tell you that the treasure lay buried there
ever so long under the open sky and the ould walls?"

"No; but he told me I was to find the slab covered in by a shed
that a poor man had lately built inside the abbey for himself and
his family."

"Whoo, by the powers!" shouted Shamus, at last thrown off his guard
by the surpassing joy derived from this intelligence, as well as by
the effects of the ale; and at the same time he jumped up, cutting
a caper with his legs, and flourishing his shillalah.

"Why, what's the matter with you?" asked his friend, glancing at
him a frowning and misgiving look.

"We ax pardon, sir." Shamus rallied his prudence. "An', sure,
sorrow a thing is the matter wid me, only the dhrop, I believe,
made me do it, as it ever and always does, good luck to it for the
same. An' isn't what we were spaking about the biggest raumaush
[Footnote: Nonsense.] undher the sun, sir? Only it's the laste bit
in the world quare to me how you'd have the dhrame about your own
country, that you didn't see for so many years, sir--for twenty
long years, I think you said, sir?" Shamus had now a new object in
putting his sly question.

"If I said so, I forgot," answered the publican, his suspicions
of Shamus at an end. "But it is about twenty years, indeed, since
I left Ireland."

"And by your speech, sir, and your dacency, I 'll engage you were
in a good way in the poor place afore you left it?"

"You guess correctly, friend." (The publican gave way to vanity.)
"Before misfortunes came over me, I possessed, along with a good
hundred acres besides, the very ground that the old ruin I saw in
the foolish dream I told you stands upon."

"An' so did my curse-o'-God's uncle," thought Shamus, his heart's
blood beginning to boil, though, with a great effort, he kept
himself seemingly cool. "And this is the man fornent me, if he
answers another word I 'll ax him. Faix, sir, and sure that makes
your dhrame quarer than ever; and the ground the ould abbey is on,
sir, and the good acres round it, did you say they lay somewhere
in the poor county myself came from?"

"What county is that, friend?" demanded the publican, again with
a studious frown.

"The ould County Monaghan, sure, sir," replied Shamus, very
deliberately.

"No, but the county of Clare," answered his companion.

"Was it?" screamed Shamus, again springing up. The cherished hatred
of twenty years imprudently bursting out, his uncle lay stretched
at his feet, after a renewed flourish of his cudgel. "And do you
know who you are telling it to this morning? Did you ever hear
that the sisther you kilt left a bit of a gorsoon behind her, that
one day or other might overhear you? Ay," he continued, keeping down
the struggling man, "IT IS poor Shamus Dempsey that's kneeling by
you; ay, and that has more to tell you. The shed built over the old
friar's tombstone was built by the hands you feel on your throttle,
and that tombstone is his hearthstone; and," continued Shamus,
beginning to bind the prostrate man with a rope snatched from
a bench near them, "while you lie here awhile, an' no one to help
you, in the cool of the morning, I'll just take a start of you on
the road home, to lift the flag and get the threasure; and follow
me if you dare! You know there's good money bid for your head in
Ireland--so here goes. Yes, faith, and wid this-THIS to help me on
the way!" He snatched up a heavy purse which had fallen from his
uncle's pocket in the struggle. "And sure, there's neither hurt nor
harm in getting back a little of a body's own from you. A bright
goodmorning, uncle dear!"

Shamus dragged his manacled relative into the shop, quickly shut to
and locked the door, flung the key over the house into the Thames,
and the next instant was running at headlong speed.

He was not so deficient in the calculations of common sense as to
think himself yet out of his uncle's power. It appeared, indeed,
pretty certain that, neither for the violence done to his person
nor for the purse appropriated by his nephew, the outlawed murderer
would raise a hue and cry after one who, aware of his identity,
could deliver him up to the laws of his country. But Shamus felt
certain that it would be a race between him and his uncle for the
treasure that lay under the friar's tombstone. His simple nature
supplied no stronger motive for a pursuit on the part of a man whose
life now lay in the breath of his mouth. Full of his conviction,
however, Shamus saw he had not a moment to lose until the roof of
his shed in the old abbey again sheltered him. So, freely making use
of his uncle's guineas, he purchased a strong horse in the outskirts
of London, and, to the surprise if not under heavy suspicions of
the vender, set off at a gallop upon the road by which he had the
day before gained the great metropolis.

A ship was ready to sail at Bristol for Ireland; but, to Shamus's
discomfiture, she waited for a wind. He got aboard, however, and in
the darksome and squalid hold often knelt down, and, with clasped
hands and panting breast, petitioned Heaven for a favourable breeze.
But from morning until evening the wind remained as he had found
it, and Shamus despaired. His uncle, meantime, might have reached
some other port, and embarked for their country. In the depth
of his anguish he heard a brisk bustle upon deck, clambered up
to investigate its cause, and found the ship's sails already half
unfurled to a wind that promised to bear him to his native shores
by the next morning. The last light of day yet lingered in the
heavens; he glanced, now under way, to the quay of Bristol. A group
who had been watching the departure of the vessel turned round to
note the approach to them of a man, who ran furiously toward the
place where they stood, pointing after her, and evidently speaking
with vehemence, although no words reached Shamus's ear. Neither
was his eye sure of this person's features, but his heart read them
distinctly. A boat shot from the quay; the man stood up in it, and
its rowers made a signal.

Shamus stepped to the gangway, as if preparing to hurl his pursuer
into the sea. The captain took a speaking-trumpet, and informing
the boat that he could not stop an instant, advised her to wait
for another merchantman, which would sail in an hour. And during
and after his speech his vessel ploughed cheerily on, making as
much way as she was adapted to accomplish.

Shamus's bosom felt lightened of its immediate terror, but not
freed of apprehension for the future. The ship that was to sail
in an hour haunted his thoughts; he did not leave the deck, and,
although the night proved very dark, his anxious eyes were never turned
from the English coast. Unusual fatigue and want of sleep now and
then overpowered him, and his senses swam in a wild and snatching
slumber; but from this he would start, crying out and clinging to
the cordage, as the feverish dream of an instant presented him with
the swelling canvas of a fast-sailing ship, which came, suddenly
bursting through the gloom of midnight, alongside of his own. Morning
dawned, really to unveil to him the object of his fears following
almost in the wake of her rival. He glanced in the opposite direction,
and beheld the shores of Ireland; in another hour he jumped upon
them; but his enemy's face watched him from the deck of the companion
vessel, now not more than a few ropes' lengths distant.

Shamus mounted a second good horse, and spurred toward home. Often
did he look back, but without seeing any cause for increased alarm.
As yet, however, the road had been level and winding, and therefore
could not allow him to span much of it at a glance. After noon it
ascended a high and lengthened hill surrounded by wastes of bog.
As he gained the summit of this hill, and again looked back, a
horseman appeared, sweeping to its foot. Shamus galloped at full
speed down the now quickly falling road; then along its level
continuation for about a mile; and then up another eminence, more
lengthened, though not so steep as the former; and from it still he
looked back, and caught the figure of the horseman breaking over
the line of the hill he had passed. For hours such was the character
of the chase, until the road narrowed and began to wind amid an
uncultivated and uninhabited mountain wilderness. Here Shamus's
horse tripped and fell; the rider, little injured, assisted him
to his legs, and, with lash and spur, re-urged him to pursue his
course. The animal went forward in a last effort, and for still
another span of time well befriended his rider. A rocky valley,
through which both had been galloping, now opened at its farther
end, presenting to Shamus's eye, in the distance, the sloping ground,
and the ruin which, with its mouldering walls, encircled his poor
home; and the setting sun streamed golden rays through the windows
and rents of the old abbey.

The fugitive gave a weak cry of joy, and lashed his beast again.
The cry seemed to be answered by a shout; and a second time, after
a wild plunge, the horse fell, now throwing Shamus off with a force
that left him stunned. And yet he heard the hoofs of another horse
come thundering down the rocky way; and, while he made a faint
effort to rise on his hands and look at his pursuer, the horse and
horseman were very near, and the voice of his uncle cried, "Stand!"
at the same time that the speaker fired a pistol, of which the ball
struck a stone at Shamus's foot. The next moment his uncle, having
left his saddle, stood over him, presenting a second pistol, and
he spoke in a low but distinct voice.

"Spawn of a beggar! This is not merely for the chance of riches
given by our dreams, though it seems, in the teeth of all I ever
thought, that the devil tells truth at last. No, nor it is not
quite for the blow; but it IS to close the lips that, with a single
word, can kill me. You die to let me live!"

"Help!" aspirated Shamus's heart, turning itself to Heaven. "Help
me but now, not for the sake of the goold either, but for the sake
of them that will be left on the wild world widout me; for them
help me, great God!"

Hitherto his weakness and confusion had left him passive. Before
his uncle spoke the last words, his silent prayer was offered, and
Shamus had jumped upon his assailant. They struggled and dragged
each other down. Shamus felt the muzzle of the pistol at his breast;
heard it snap--but only snap; he seized and mastered it, and once
more the uncle was at the mercy of his nephew. Shamus's hand was
raised to deal a good blow; but he checked himself, and addressed
the almost senseless ears of his captive.

"No; you're my mother's blood, and a son of hers will never draw
it from your heart; but I can make sure of you again; stop a bit."

He ran to his own prostrate horse, took off its bridle and its
saddle-girth, and with both secured his uncle's limbs beyond all
possibility of the struggler being able to escape from their control.

"There," resumed Shamus; "lie there till we have time to send an
ould friend to see you, that, I'll go bail, will take good care of
your four bones. And do you know where I'm going now? You tould
me, on Lunnon Bridge, that you knew THAT, at least," pointing to
the abbey; "ay, and the quare ould hearthstone that's to be found
in it. And so, look at this, uncle, honey." He vaulted upon his
relative's horse. "I'm just goin' to lift it off o' the barrel-pot
full of good ould goold, and you have only to cry halves, and
you'll get it, as, sure as that the big divil is in the town you
came from."

Nance Dempsey was nursing her new-born babe, sitting up in her
straw, and doing very well after her late illness, when old Noreen
tottered in from the front of the ruin to tell her that "the body
they were just speaking about was driving up the hill mad, like as
if't was his own sperit in great throuble." And the listener had
not recovered from her surprise when Shamus ran into the shed, flung
himself, kneeling, by her side, caught her in his arms, then seized
her infant, covered it with kisses, and then, roughly throwing it
in her lap, turned to the fireplace, raised one of the rocky seats
lying near it, poised the ponderous mass over the hearthstone, and
shivered into pieces, with one crash, that solid barrier between
him and his visionary world of wealth.

"It's cracked he is out an' out of a certainty," said Nance, looking
terrified at her husband.

"Nothing else am I," shouted Shamus, after groping under the broken
slab; "an', for a token, get along wid yourself out of this, ould
gran!"

He started up and seized her by the shoulder. Noreen remonstrated.
He stooped for a stone; she ran; he pursued her to the arches of
the ruin. She stopped half-way down the descent. He pelted her with
clods to the bottom, and along a good piece of her road homeward,
and then danced back into his wife's presence.

"Now, Nance," he cried, "now that we're by ourselves, what noise
is this like?"

"And he took out han'fuls after han'fuls of the ould goold afore
her face, my dear," added the original narrator of this story.

"An' after the gaugers and their crony, Ould Nick, ran off wid the
uncle of him, Nance and he and the childer lived together in their
father's and mother's house; and if they didn't live and die happy,
I wish that you and I may."






NEAL MALONE

BY WILLIAM CARLETON





There never was a greater-souled or doughtier tailor than little
Neal Malone. Though but four feet four in height, he paced the
earth with the courage and confidence of a giant; nay, one would
have imagined that he walked as if he feared the world itself
was about to give way under him. Let no one dare to say in future
that a tailor is but the ninth part of a man. That reproach has
been gloriously taken away from the character of the cross-legged
corporation by Neal Malone. He has wiped it off like a stain from
the collar of a secondhand coat; he has pressed this wrinkle out of
the lying front of antiquity; he has drawn together this rent in the
respectability of his profession. No. By him who was breeches-maker
to the gods,--that is, except, like Highlanders, they eschewed
inexpressibles,--by him who cut Jupiter's frieze jocks for winter,
and eke by the bottom of his thimble, we swear that Neal Malone
was MORE than the ninth part of a man.

Setting aside the Patagonians, we maintain that two thirds of mortal
humanity were comprised in Neal; and perhaps we might venture to
assert that two thirds of Neal's humanity were equal to six thirds
of another man's. It is right well known that Alexander the Great
was a little man, and we doubt whether, had Alexander the Great
been bred to the tailoring business, he would have exhibited so
much of the hero as Neal Malone. Neal was descended from a fighting
family, who had signalised themselves in as many battles as ever
any single hero of antiquity fought. His father, his grandfather,
and his great-grandfather were all fighting men, and his ancestors
in general, up, probably, to Con of the Hundred Battles himself.
No wonder, therefore, that Neal's blood should cry out against the
cowardice of his calling; no wonder that he should be an epitome
of all that was valorous and heroic in a peaceable man, for we
neglected to inform the reader that Neal, though "bearing no base
mind," never fought any man in his own person. That, however,
deducted nothing from his courage. If he did not fight it was simply
because he found cowardice universal. No man would engage him; his
spirit blazed in vain; his thirst for battle was doomed to remain
unquenched, except by whisky, and this only increased it. In
short, he could find no foe. He has often been known to challenge
the first cudgel-players and pugilists of the parish, to provoke
men of fourteenstone weight, and to bid mortal defiance to faction
heroes of all grades-but in vain. There was that in him which
told them that an encounter with Neal would strip them of their
laurels. Neal saw all this with a lofty indignation; he deplored
the degeneracy of the times, and thought it hard that the descendant
of such a fighting family should be doomed to pass through life
peaceably, whilst so many excellent rows and riots took place around
him. It was a calamity to see every man's head broken but his own;
a dismal thing to observe his neighbours go about with their bones
in bandages, yet his untouched, and his friends beat black and
blue, whilst his own cuticle remained unscoloured.

"Blur an' agers!" exclaimed Neal one day, when half tipsy in the
fair, "am I never to get a bit o' figtin'? Is there no cowardly
spalpeen to stand afore Neal Malone? Be this an' be that, I'm
blue-mowlded for want of a batin'! I'm disgracin' my relations
by the life I'm ladin'! Will none o' ye fight me aither for love,
money, or whisky, frind or inimy, an' bad luck to ye? I don't care
a traneen which, only out o' pure frindship, let us have a morsel
o' the rale kick-up,'t any rate. Frind or inimy, I say agin, if you
regard me; sore THAT makes no differ, only let us have the fight."

This excellent heroism was all wasted; Neal could not find a single
adversary. Except he divided himself like Hotspur, and went to
buffets one hand against the other, there was no chance of a fight;
no person to be found sufficiently magnanimous to encounter the
tailor. On the contrary, every one of his friends--or, in other
words, every man in the parish--was ready to support him. He was
clapped on the back until his bones were nearly dislocated in his
body, and his hand shaken until his arm lost its cunning at the
needle for half a week afterward. This, to be sure, was a bitter
business, a state of being past endurance. Every man was his
friend--no man was his enemy. A desperate position for any person
to find himself in, but doubly calamitous to a martial tailor.

Many a dolourous complaint did Neal make upon the misfortune of
having none to wish him ill; and what rendered this hardship doubly
oppressive was the unlucky fact that no exertions of his, however
offensive, could procure him a single foe. In vain did he insult,
abuse, and malign all his acquaintances. In vain did he father
upon them all the rascality and villainy he could think of; he
lied against them with a force and originality that would have made
many a modern novelist blush for want of invention--but all to no
purpose. The world for once became astonishingly Christian; it paid
back all his efforts to excite its resentment with the purest of
charity; when Neal struck it on the one cheek, it meekly turned
unto him the other. It could scarcely be expected that Neal would
bear this. To have the whole world in friendship with a man is
beyond doubt an affliction. Not to have the face of a single enemy
to look upon would decidedly be considered a deprivation of many
agreeable sensations by most people as well as by Neal Malone. Let
who might sustain a loss or experience a calamity, it was a matter
of indifference to Neal. They were only his friends, and he troubled
neither his head nor his heart about them.

Heaven help us! There is no man without his trials; and Neal, the
reader perceives, was not exempt from his. What did it avail him
that he carried a cudgel ready for all hostile contingencies, or
knit his brows and shook his kippeen at the fiercest of his fighting
friends? The moment he appeared they softened into downright cordiality.
His presence was the signal of peace; for, notwithstanding his
unconquerable propensity to warfare, he went abroad as the genius
of unanimity, though carrying in his bosom the redoubtable disposition
of a warrior; just as the sun, though the source of light himself,
is said to be dark enough at bottom.

It could not be expected that Neal, with whatever fortitude he
might bear his other afflictions, could bear such tranquillity like
a hero. To say that he bore it as one would be basely to surrender
his character; for what hero ever bore a state of tranquillity
with courage? It affected his cutting out! It produced what Burton
calls "a windie melancholie," which was nothing else than an
accumulation of courage that had no means of escaping, if courage
can, without indignity, be ever said to escape. He sat uneasy on
his lap-board. Instead of cutting out soberly, he flourished his
scissors as if he were heading a faction; he wasted much chalk by
scoring his cloth in wrong places, and even caught his hot goose
without a holder. These symptoms alarmed his friends, who persuaded
him to go to a doctor. Neal went to satisfy them; but he knew that
no prescription could drive the courage out of him, that he was
too far gone in heroism to be made a coward of by apothecary stuff.
Nothing in the pharmacopoeia could physic him into a pacific state.
His disease was simply the want of an enemy, and an unaccountable
superabundance of friendship on the part of his acquaintances.
How could a doctor remedy this by a prescription? Impossible. The
doctor, indeed, recommended blood-letting; but to lose blood in a
peaceable manner was not only cowardly, but a bad cure for courage.
Neal declined it: he would lose no blood for any man until he could
not help it; which was giving the character of a hero at a single
touch. HIS blood was not to be thrown away in this manner; the
only lancet ever applied to his relations was the cudgel, and Neal
scorned to abandon the principles of his family.

His friends, finding that he reserved his blood for more heroic
purposes than dastardly phlebotomy, knew not what to do with him.
His perpetual exclamation was, as we have already stated, "I'm
blue-mowlded for want of a batin'!" They did everything in their
power to cheer him with the hope of a drubbing; told him he lived
in an excellent country for a man afflicted with his malady; and
promised, if it were at all possible, to create him a private enemy
or two, who, they hoped in heaven, might trounce him to some purpose.

This sustained him for a while; but as day after day passed and
no appearance of action presented itself, he could not choose but
increase in courage. His soul, like a sword-blade too long in the
scabbard, was beginning to get fuliginous by inactivity. He looked
upon the point of his own needle and the bright edge of his scissors
with a bitter pang when he thought of the spirit rusting within
him; he meditated fresh insults, studied new plans, and hunted out
cunning devices for provoking his acquaintances to battle, until
by degrees he began to confound his own brain and to commit more
grievous oversights in his business than ever. Sometimes he sent home
to one person a coat with the legs of a pair of trousers attached
to it for sleeves, and despatched to another the arms of the aforesaid
coat tacked together as a pair of trousers. Sometimes the coat was
made to button behind instead of before; and he frequently placed
the pockets in the lower part of the skirts, as if he had been in
league with cutpurses.

This was a melancholy situation, and his friends pitied him
accordingly.

"Don't be cast down, Neal," said they; "your friends feel for you,
poor fellow."

"Divil carry my frinds," replied Neal; "sure, there's not one o'
yez frindly enough to be my inimy. Tare an' ouns! what'll I do?
I'm blue-mowlded for want of a batin'!"

Seeing that their consolation was thrown away upon him, they resolved
to leave him to his fate; which they had no sooner done then Neal
had thoughts of taking to the Skiomachia as a last remedy. In this
mood he looked with considerable antipathy at his own shadow for
several nights; and it is not to be questioned but that some hard
battles would have taken place between them had it not been for
the cunning of the shadow, which declined to fight him in any other
position than with its back to the wall. This occasioned him to
pause, for the wall was a fearful antagonist, inasmuch as it knew
not when it was beaten; but there was still an alternative left.
He went to the garden one clear day about noon, and hoped to have
a bout with the shade free from interruption. Both approached,
apparently eager for the combat and resolved to conquer or die,
when a villainous cloud, happening to intercept the light, gave
the shadow an opportunity of disappearing, and Neal found himself
once more without an opponent.

"It's aisy known," said Neal, "you haven't the BLOOD in you, or
you'd come to the scratch like a man."

He now saw that fate was against him, and that any further hostility
toward the shadow was only a tempting of Providence. He lost his
health, spirits, and everything but his courage. His countenance
became pale and peaceful-looking; the bluster departed from him;
his body shrank up like a withered parsnip. Thrice was he compelled
to take in his clothes, and thrice did he ascertain that much of his
time would be necessarily spent in pursuing his retreating person
through the solitude of his almost deserted garments.

God knows it is difficult to form a correct opinion upon a situation
so parodoxical as Neal's was. To be reduced to skin and bone by
the downright friendship of the world was, as the sagacious reader
will admit, next to a miracle. We appeal to the conscience of any
man who finds himself without an enemy whether he be not a greater
skeleton than the tailor; we will give him fifty guineas provided he
can show a calf to his leg. We know he could not; for the tailor
had none, and that was because he had not an enemy. No man in
friendship with the world ever has calves to his legs. To sum up
all in a parodox of our own invention, for which we claim the full
credit of originality, we now assert that more men have risen in the
world by the injury of their enemies than have risen by the kindness
of their friends. You may take this, reader, in any sense; apply it
to hanging if you like; it is still immutably and immovably true.

One day Neal sat cross-legged, as tailors usually sit, in the act
of pressing a pair of breeches; his hands were placed, backs up,
upon the handle of his goose, and his chin rested upon the backs
of his hands. To judge from his sorrowful complexion, one would
suppose that he sat rather to be sketched as a picture of misery or
of heroism in distress than for the industrious purpose of pressing
the seams of a garment. There was a great deal of New Burlington
Street pathos in his countenance; his face, like the times, was
rather out of joint; "the sun was just setting, and his golden
beams fell, with a saddened splendor, athwart the tailor's--" The
reader may fill up the picture.

In this position sat Neal when Mr. O'Connor, the schoolmaster,
whose inexpressibles he was turning for the third time, entered
the workshop. Mr. O'Connor himself was as finished a picture of
misery as the tailor. There was a patient, subdued kind of expression
in his face which indicated a very fair portion of calamity; his
eye seemed charged with affliction of the first water; on each side
of his nose might be traced two dry channels, which, no doubt, were
full enough while the tropical rains of his countenance lasted.
Altogether, to conclude from appearances, it was a dead match in
affliction between him and the tailor; both seemed sad, fleshless,
and unthriving.

"Misther O'Connor," said the tailor, when the schoolmaster entered,
"won't you be pleased to sit down?"

Mr. O'Connor sat; and, after wiping his forehead, laid his hat
upon the lap-board, put his half-handkerchief in his pocket, and
looked upon the tailor. The tailor, in return, looked upon Mr.
O'Connor; but neither of them spoke for some minutes. Neal, in fact,
appeared to be wrapped up in his own misery, and Mr. O'Connor in
his; or, as we often have much gratuitous sympathy for the distresses
of our friends, we question but the tailor was wrapped up in Mr.
O'Connor's misery, and Mr. O'Connor in the tailor's.

Mr. O'Connor at length said: "Neal, are my inexpressibles finished?"

"I am now pressin' your inexpressibles," replied Neal; "but, be my
sowl, Mr. O'Connor, it's not your inexpressibles I'm thinkin' of.
I'm not the ninth part o' what I was. I'd hardly make paddin' for
a collar now."

"Are you able to carry a staff still, Neal?"

"I've a light hazel one that's handy," said the tailor, "but where's
the use o' carryin' it whin I can get no one to fight wid? Sure,
I'm disgracin' my relations by the life I'm ladin'. I 'll go to
my grave widout ever batin' a man or bein' bate myself; that's the
vexation. Divil the row ever I was able to kick up in my life; so
that I'm fairly blue-mowlded for want of a batin'. But if you have
patience--"

"Patience!" said Mr. O'Connor, with a shake of the head that was
perfectly disastrous even to look at,--"patience, did you say,
Neal?"

"Ay," said Neal, "an' be my sowl, if you deny that I said patience
I 'll break your head!"

"Ah, Neal," returned the other, "I don't deny it; for, though I'm
teaching philosophy, knowledge, and mathematics every day in my
life, yet I'm learning patience myself both night and day. No,
Neal; I have forgotten to deny anything. I have not been guilty of
a contradiction, out of my own school, for the last fourteen years.
I once expressed the shadow of a doubt about twelve years ago, but
ever since I have abandoned even doubting. That doubt was the last
expiring effort at maintaining my domestic authority--but I suffered
for it."

"Well," said Neal, "if you have patience, I 'll tell you what
afflicts me from beginnin' to endin'."

"I WILL have patience," said Mr. O'Connor; and he accordingly heard
a dismal and indignant tale from the tailor.

"You have told me that fifty times over," said Mr. O'Connor, after
hearing the story. "Your spirit is too martial for a pacific life.
If you follow my advice, I will teach you how to ripple the calm current
of your existence to some purpose. MARRY A WIFE. For twenty-five
years I have given instruction in three branches, namely, philosophy,
knowledge, and mathematics. I am also well versed in matrimony,
and I declare that, upon my misery and by the contents of all my
afflictions, it is my solemn and melancholy opinion that, if you marry
a wife, you will, before three months pass over your concatenated
state, not have a single complaint to make touching a superabundance
of peace or tranquillity or a love of fighting."

"Do you mane to say that any woman would make me afeard?" said
the tailor, deliberately rising up and getting his cudgel. "I 'll
thank you merely to go over the words agin, till I thrasy you widin
an inch of your life. That's all"

"Neal," said the schoolmaster, meekly, "I won't fight; I have been
too often subdued ever to presume on the hope of a single victory.
My spirit is long since evaporated; I am like one of your own
shreds, a mere selvage. Do you not know how much my habiliments
have shrunk in even within the last five years? Hear me, Neal, and
venerate my words as if they proceeded from the lips of a prophet.
If you wish to taste the luxury of being subdued--if you are, as
you say, blue-moulded for want of a beating, and sick at heart of
a peaceful existence--why, marry a wife. Neal, send my breeches
home with all haste, for they are wanted, you understand. Farewell."

Mr. O'Connor, having thus expressed himself, departed; and Neal
stood, with the cudgel in his hand, looking at the door out of
which he passed, with an expression of fierceness, contempt, and
reflection strongly blended on the ruins of his once heroic visage.

Many a man has happiness within his reach if he but knew it.
The tailor had been hitherto miserable because he pursued a wrong
object. The schoolmaster, however, suggested a train of thought
upon which Neal now fastened with all the ardour of a chivalrous
temperament. Nay, be wondered that the family spirit should have
so completely seized upon the fighting side of his heart as to
preclude all thoughts of matrimony; for he could not but remember
that his relations were as ready for marriage as for fighting. To
doubt this would have been to throw a blot upon his own escutcheon.
He therefore very prudently asked himself to whom, if he did not
marry, should he transmit his courage.



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