William Carleton, The Three Tasks, in Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry (1830; 1844 Edn.)
- sect. 1.
The story follows Ned MKeown in the Traits and Stories (1830) and is narrated by him - hence the double-inverted commas opening each paragraph throughout. The present text is taken from the New York edition of the Works, Vol. III (NY: Collier 1844), - published contemporaneously with the Dublin definitive edition (2 vols., Duffy 1844).
The Collier text is available on internet at the Gutenberg Project. In preparing it for presentation here, I have read it against the facsimile of the Dublin edition published by Colin Smythe and introduced by Barbara Hayley (Gerrards Cross 1990) and altered the American spellings and to the British ones (e.g., humour for humor). Italicised words follow the Gerrards Cross edition also and the occasional mispelling in the digital edition has been elminated as far as possible.
While the use of italics by Carleton and his publisher to mark Irish-language phrases, song-titles, Hiberno-English pronounciations and amusing malapropisms supplies an interesting light on the form of linguistic humour involved in the narration, the actual use of italics is often erratic if sometimes for obvious mechanical reasons as in the phrase acushla-my own correcthur (Smythe ed., p.35.) where the Irish word, normally italicised, is not so here since the anomalous term correcthur calls for more urgent emphasis. BS
Note: Editing is in still progress as regards references and footnotes. Please scroll to the end of the page to read the footnote text attached to each reference [e.g., ref01 to ftn01].
Every person in the parish knows the purty knoll that rises above the Routing Burn, some few miles from the renowned town of Knockimdowny, which, as all the world must allow, wants only houses and inhabitants to be as big a place as the great town of Dublin itself. At the foot of this little hill, just under the shelter of a dacent pebble of a rock, something above the bulk of half a dozen churches, one would be apt to see-if they knew how to look sharp, otherwise they mightnt be able to make it out from the gray rock above it, except by the smoke that ris from the chimbley-Nancy Magenniss little cabin, snug and cosey with its corrag [ref01] or ould man of branches, standing on the windy side of the door, to keep away the blast. Upon my word, it was a dacent little residence in its own way, and so was Nancy herself, for that matther; for, though a poor widdy, she was very punctwell in paying for Jacks schooling, as I often heard ould Terry MPhaudeen say, who told me the story. Jack, indeed, grew up a fine slip; and for hurling, foot-ball playing, and lepping, hadnt his likes in the five quarters of the parish. Its he that knew how to handle a spade and a raping-hook, and what was betther nor all that, he was kind and tindher to his poor ould mother, and would let her want for nothing. Before hed go to his days work in the morning, hed be sure to bring home from the clear-spring well that ran out of the other side of the rock, a pitcher of water to serve her for the day; nor would he forget to bring in a good creel of turf from the snug little peat-sack that stood thatched with rushes before the door, and leave it in the corner, beside the fire; so that she had nothing to do but put over her hand, without rising off of her sate, and put down a sod when she wanted it.
Nancy, on her part, kept Jack very clane and comfortable; his linen, though coorse, was always a good colour, his working clothes tidily mended at all times; and when hed have occasion to put on his good coat to work in for the first time, Nancy would sew on the fore-part of each sleeve a stout patch of ould cloth, to keep them from being worn by the spade; so that when shed rip these off them every Saturday night, they would look as new and fresh as if he hadnt been working in them at all, at all.
Then when Jack came home in the winter nights, it would do your heart good to see Nancy sitting at her wheel, singing, Stachan Varagah, or ‘Peggy Na Laveen, beside a purty clear fire, with a small pot of murphys boiling on it for their supper, or laid up in a wooden dish, comfortably covered with a clane praskeen on the well-swept hearth-stone; whilst the quiet, dancing blaze might be seen blinking in the nice earthen plates and dishes that stood over against the side-wall of the house. Just before the fire you might see Jacks stool waiting for him to come home; and on the other side, the brown cat washing her face with her paws, or sitting beside the dog that lay asleep, quite happy and continted, purring her song, and now and then looking over at Nancy, with her eyes half-shut, as much as to say, ‘Catch a happier pair nor we are, Nancy, if you can.
Sitting quietly on the roost above the door, were Dicky the cock, and half-a-dozen hens, that kept this honest pair in eggs and egg-milk for the best part of the year, besides enabling Nancy to sell two or three clutches of March-birds every season, to help to buy wool for Jacks big-coat, and her own gray-beard gown and striped red and blue petticoat.
"To make a long story short-No two could be more comfortable, considering every thing. But, indeed, Jack was always obsarved to have a dacent ginteel turn with him; for hed scorn to see a bad gown on his mother, or a broken Sunday coat on himself; and instead of drinking his little earning in a shebeen-house, and then eating his praties dry, hed take care to have something to kitchen [ref02] them; so that he was not only snug and dacent of a Sunday, regarding wearables, but so well-fed and rosy, that a point of a rush would take a drop of blood out of his cheek. [ref03] Then he was the comeliest and best-looking young man in the parish, could tell lots of droll stories, and sing scores of merry songs that would make you split your sides with downright laughing; and when a wake or a dance would happen to be in the neighborhood, maybe there wouldnt be many a sly look from the purty girls for pleasant Jack Magennis!
In this way lived Jack and his mother, as happy and continted as two lords; except now and thin, that Jack would feel a little consarn for not being able to lay past anything for the sorefoot [ref04],* or that might enable him to think of marrying-for he was beginning to look about him for a wife; and why not, to be sure? But he was prudent for all that, and didnt wish to bring a wife and small family into poverty and hardship without means to support them, as too many do.
It was one fine, frosty, moonlight night-the sky was without a cloud, and the stars all blinking that it would delight anybodys heart to look at them, when Jack was crassing a bog that lay a few fields beyant his own cabin. He was just crooning the ‘humours of Glynn to himself and thinking that it was a very hard case that he couldnt save anything at all, at all, to help him to the wife, when, on coming down a bank in the middle of the bog, he saw a dark-looking man leaning against a clamp of turf, and a black dog, with a pipe of tobacky in his mouth, sitting at his ase beside him, and he smoking as sober as a judge. Jack, however, had a stout heart, bekase his conscience was clear, and, barring being a little daunted, he wasnt very much afeard. ‘Who is this coming down towards us? said the black-favored man, as he saw Jack approaching them. ‘Its Jack Magennis, says the dog, making answer, and taking the pipe out of his mouth with his right paw; and after puffing away the smoke, and rubbing the end of it against his left leg, exactly as a Christian (this days Friday, the Lord stand betune us and harm) would do against his sleeve, giving it at the same time to his comrade-Its Jack Magennis, says the dog, ‘honest Widow Magenniss dacent son. ‘The very man, says the other, back to him, ‘that Id wish to sarve out of a thousand. Arrah, Jack Magennis, how is every tether-length of you? says the old fellow, putting the furrawn [ref05] on him-and how is every bone in your body, Jack, my darling? Ill hould a thousand guineas, says he, pointing to a great big bag that lay beside him, ‘and thats only the tenth part of whats in this bag, Jack, that youre just going to be in luck to-night above all the nights in the year.
And may worse never happen you, Jack, my bouchal, says the dog, putting in his tongue, then wagging his tail, and houlding out his paw to shake hands with Jack.
‘Gintlemen, says Jack, never minding to give the dog his hand, bekase he heard it wasnt safe to touch the likes of him-Gintlemen, says he, ‘yere sitting far from the fire this frosty night.
‘Why, thats true, Jack, answers the ould fellow; ‘but if were sitting far from the fire, were sitting very near the makins of it, man alive. So, with this, he pulls the bag of goold over to him, that Jack might know, by the jingle of the shiners, what was in it.
‘Jack, says dark-face, ‘theres some born with a silver ladle in their mouth, and others with a wooden spoon; and if youll just sit down on the one end of this clamp with me, and take a hand at the five and ten, pulling out, as he spoke, a deck of cards, ‘you may be a made man for the remainder of your life.
‘Sir, says Jack, ‘with submission, both yourself and this cur-I mane, says he, not wishing to give the dog offence, ‘both yourself and this dacint gintleman with the tail and claws upon him, have the advantage of me, in respect of knowing my name; for, if I dont mistake, says he, putting his hand to his caubeen, ‘I never had the pleasure of seeing either of ye before.
‘Never mind that, says the dog, taking back the pipe from the other, and clapping it in his mouth; were both your well-wishers, anyhow, and its now your own fault if youre not a rich man.
Jack, by this time, was beginning to think that they might be afther wishing to throw luck in his way; for he had often heard of men being made up entirely by the fairies, till there was no end to their wealth.
‘Jack, says the black man, ‘you had better be led by us for this bout-upon the honour of a gintleman we wish you well: however, if you dont choose to take the ball at the right hop, another may; and youre welcome to toil all your life, and die a beggar after.
‘Upon my reputation, what he says is true, Jack, says the dog, in his turn, ‘the lucky minute of your life is come: let it pass without doing what them that wishes your mothers son well desire you, and youll die in a ditch.
‘And what am I to do, says Jack, ‘thats to make me so rich all of a sudden? "Why only to sit down, and take a game of cards with myself says black-brow, ‘thats all, and Im sure its not much.
‘And what is it to be for? Jack inquires; ‘for I have no money-tare-nation to the rap itselfs in my company.
‘Well, you have yourself, says the dog, putting up his fore-claw along his nose, and winking at Jack; ‘you have yourself, man-dont be faint-hearted: hell bet the contents of this bag; and with that the ould thief gave it another great big shake, to make the guineas jingle again. ‘Its ten thousand guineas in hard goold; if he wins, youre to sarve him for a year and a day; and if he loses, youre to have the bag.
‘And the money thats in it? says Jack, wishing, you see, to make a sure bargain, anyhow.
‘Evry penny, answered the ould chap, ‘if you win it; and theres fifty to one in your favor.
By this time the dog had gone into a great fit of laughing at Jacks sharpness about the money. ‘The money thats in it, Jack! says he; and he took the pipe out of his mouth, and laughed till he brought on a hard fit of coughing. ‘O, by this and by that says he, ‘but that bates Bannagher! And youre to get evry penny, you thief o the world, if you win it! but for all that he seemed to be laughing at something that Jack wasnt up to. "At any rate, surely, they palavered Jack betune them until he sot down and consinted. ‘Well, says he, scratching his head, ‘why, worse nor lose I cant, so here goes for one trial at the shiners, any how!
‘Now, says the obscure gintleman, just whin the first card was in his hand, ready to be laid down, ‘youre to sarve me for a year and a day, if I win; and if I lose, you shall have all the money in the bag.
‘Exactly, said Jack, and, just as he said the word, he saw the dog putting the pipe in his pocket, and turning his head away, for fraid Jack would see him breaking his sides laughing. At last, when he got his face sobered, he looks at Jack, and says, ‘Surely, Jack, if you win, you must get all the money in the bag; and, upon my reputation, you may build castles in the air with it, youll be so rich.
This plucked up Jacks courage a little, and to work they went; and how could it end otherwise than Jack to lose betune two such knowing schamers as they soon turned out to be? For, what do you think? but, as Jack was beginning the game, the dog tips him a wink-laying his fore-claw along his nose as before, as much as to say, ‘Watch me, and youll win-turning round, at the same time, and
showing Jack a nate little looking-glass, that was set in his oxther, in which Jack saw, dark as it was, the spots of all the other fellows cards, as he thought, so that he was cock-sure of bating him. But they were a pair of downright knaves any how; for Jack, by playing to the cards that he saw in the looking-glass, instead of to them the other held in his hand, lost the game and the money. In short, he saw that he was blarnied and chated by them both; and when the game was up, he plainly tould them as much.
‘What?-you scoundrel! says the black fellow, starting up and catching him by the collar; ‘dare you go for to impache my honour?
‘Leather him, if he says a word, says the dog, running over on his hind-legs, and laying his shut paw upon Jacks nose. ‘Say another word, you rascal! says he, ‘and Ill down you; with this, the ould fellow gives him another shake.
‘I dont blame you so much, says Jack to him; ‘it was the looking-glass that desaved me. That curs nothing but a black leg!
‘What looking-glass?-you knave you! says dark-face, giving him a fresh haul.
‘Why, the one I saw under the dogs oxther, replied Jack. "Under my oxther, you swindling rascal! replied the dog, giving him a pull by the other side of the collar; ‘did ever any honest pair of gintlemen hear the like?-but he only wants to break through the agreement: so let us turn him at once into an ass, and then hell break no more bargains, nor strive to take in honest men and win their money. Me a black-leg! So the dark fellow drew his two hands over Jacks jaws, and in a twinkling there was a pair of asss ears growing up out of his head. When Jack found this, he knew that he wasnt in good hands: so he thought it best to get himself as well out of the scrape as possible.
‘Gintlemen, be aisy, says he, ‘and let us understand one another: Im very willing to sarve you for a year and a day; but Ive one requist to ax, and its this: Ive a helpless ould mother at home,-and if I go with you now, shell break her heart with grief first, and starve afterwards. Now, if your honour will
give me a year to work hard, and lay in provision to support her while Im away, Ill serve you with all the veins of my heart-for a bargains a bargain. "With this, the dog gave his companion a pluck by the skirt, and, after some chat together that Jack didnt hear, they came back and said that they would
comply with his wishes that far: ‘So, on to-morrow twelvemonth, Jack, says the dark fellow, ‘the dog here will come to your mothers, and if you follow him hell bring you safe to my castle.
‘Very well, your honour, says Jack; ‘but as dogs resemble one another so much, how will I know him when he comes?
‘Why, answers the other, ‘hell have a green ribbon and a spy-glass about his neck, and a pair of Wellington boots on his hind legs.
‘Thats enough, sir,says Jack, ‘I cant mistake him in that dress, so Ill be ready; but, jintlemen, if it would be plasing to you both Id every bit as soon not go home with these, and he handled the brave pair of ears he had got, as he spoke.
The truth is, jintlemen, Im deluding enough without them; and as Im so modest, you persave, why if youd take them away, youd oblige me!
To this they had no objection, and during that year Jack wrought night and day, that he might be able to lave as much provision with his poor mother as would support her in his absence; and when the morning came that he was to bid her farewell, he went down on his two knees and got her blessing. He then left her with tears in his eyes, and promised to come back the very minute his time would be up. ‘Mother, says he, ‘be kind to your little family here, and feed them well, as they are all youll have to keep you company till you see me again.
His mother then stuffed his pockets with bread, till they stuck out behind him, and gave him a crooked six-pence for luck; after which, he got his staff, and was just ready to tramp, when, sure enough, he spies his ould friend the dog, with the green ribbon about his neck, and the Wellington boots upon his hind legs. He didnt go in, but waited on the outside till Jack came out. They then set off, but no one knows how far they travelled, till they reached the dark gintlemans castle, who appeared very glad to see Jack, and gave him a hearty welcome.
The next day, in consequence of his long journey, he was axd to do nothing; but in the coorse of the evening, the dark chap brought him into a long, frightful room, where there were three hundred and sixty-five hooks sticking out of the wall, and on every hook but one a mans head. When Jack saw this agreeable sight, his dinner began to quake within him; but he felt himself still worse, when his master pointed to the empty hook, saying, ‘Now, Jack, your business to-morrow is to clane out a stable that wasnt claned for the last seven years, and if you dont have it finished before dusk-do you see that hook?
‘Ye-yes, replied Jack, hardly able to spake. "Well, if you dont have it finished before dusk, your head will be hanging on that hook as soon as the sun sets.
‘Very well, your honour, replied Jack; scarcely knowing what he said, or he wouldnt have said ‘very well to such a bloody-minded intention, any how-Very well, says he, ‘Ill do my best, and all the world knows that the best can do no more.
Whilst this discoorse was passing betune them, Jack happened to look at the upper end of the room, and there he saw one of the beautifullest faces that ever was seen on a woman, looking at him through a little panel that was in the wall. She had a white, snowy forehead-such eyes, and cheeks, and teeth, that theres no coming up to them; and the clusters of dark hair that hung about her beautiful temples!-by the laws, Im afeard of falling in love with her myself, so Ill say no more about her, only that she would charm the heart of a wheel-barrow. At any rate, in spite of all the ould fellow could say-heads and hooks, and all, Jack couldnt help throwing an eye, now and then, to the panel; and to tell the truth, if he had been born to riches and honour, it would be hard to fellow him, for a good face and a good figure.
‘Now, Jack, says his master, ‘go and eat your supper, and I hope youll be able to perform your task-if not, off goes your head.
‘Very well, your honour, says Jack, again scratching it in the hoith of perplexity, ‘I must only do what I can.
The next morning Jack was up with the sun, if not before him, and hard at his task; but before breakfast time he lost all heart, and little wonder he should, poor fellow, bekase for every one shovelful hed throw out, there would come three more in: so that instead of making his task less, according as he got on, it became greater. He was now in the greatest dilemmy, and didnt know how to manage, so he was driven at last to such an amplush, that he had no other shift for employment, only to sing Paddeen ORafferty out of mere vexation, and dance the hornpipe trebling step to it, cracking his fingers, half mad, through the stable. Just in the middle of this tantrum, who comes to the door to call him to his breakfast, but the beautiful crathur he saw the evening before peeping at him through the panel. At this minute, Jack had so hated himself by the dancing, that his handsome face was in a fine glow, entirely.
‘I think, said, she to Jack, with one of her own sweet smiles, ‘that this is an odd way of performing your task.
‘Och, thin, ‘tis you that may say that, replies Jack; ‘but its myself thats willing to have my head hung up any day, just for one sight of you, you darling.
‘Where did you come from? asked the lady, with another smile that bate the first all to nothing.
‘Where did I come from, is it? answered Jack; ‘why, death-alive! did you never hear of ould Ireland, my jewel!-hem-I mane, plase your ladyships honour.
‘No, she answered; ‘where is that country?
‘Och, by the honour of an Irishman, says Jack, ‘that takes the shine!-not heard of Erin-the Imerald Isle-the Jim of the ocean, where all the men are brave and honourable, and all the women-hem-I mane the ladies-chaste and beautiful?
‘No, said she; ‘not a word: but if I stay longer I may get you blame-come in to your breakfast, and Im sorry to find that you have done so little at your task. Your roasters a man that always acts up to what he threatens: and, if you have not this stable cleared out before dusk, your head will be taken of your shoulders this night.
‘Why, thin, says Jack, ‘my beautiful darl-plase your honours ladyship-if he Dangs it up, will you do me the favor, acushla machree, to turn my head toardst that same panel where I saw a sartin fair face that I wont mintion: and if you do, let me alone for watching a sartin purty face Im acquainted with.
‘What means cushla machree ? inquired the lady, as she turned to go away. "It manes that youre the pulse of my heart, avourneen, plase your ladyships Reverence, says Jack.
‘Well, said the lovely crathur, ‘any time you speak to me in future, I would rather you would omit terms of honour, and just call me after the manner of your own country; instead, for instance, of calling me your ladyship, I would be better pleased if you called me cushla -something- Cushla machree, ma vourneen -the pulse of my heart-my darling, said Jack, consthering it (the thief) for her, for fraid she wouldnt know it well enough.
‘Yes, she replied, ‘cushla machree; well, as I can pronounce it, acushla machree, will you come in to your breakfast? said the darling, giving Jack a smile that would be enough, any day, to do up the heart of an Irishman. Jack, accordingly, went after her, thinking of nothing except herself; but on going in
he could see no sign of her, so he-sat down to his breakfast, though a single ounce, barring a couple of pounds of beef, the poor fellow couldnt ate, at that bout, for thinking of her.
Well, he went again to his work, and thought hed have better luck; but it was still the ould game-three shovelfuls would come in for evry one hed throw out; and now he began, in earnest, to feel something about his heart that he didnt like, bekase he couldnt, for the life of him, help thinking of the three hundred and sixty-four heads, and the empty hook. At last he gave up the work entirely, and took it into his head to make himself scarce from about the old fellows castle, altogether; and without more to do, he set off, never saying as much as ‘good-bye to his master: but he hadnt got as far as the lower end of the yard, when his ould friend, the dog, steps out of a kennel, and meets him full but in the teeth.
‘So, Jack, says he, ‘youre going to give us leg bail, I see; but walk back with yourself, you spalpeen, this minute, and join your work, or if you dont, says he, ‘itll be worse for your health. Im not so much your enemy now as I was, bekase you have a friend in coort that you know nothing about; so just do whatever you are bid, and keep never minding.
Jack went back with a heavy heart, as you may be sure, knowing that, whenever the black cur began to blarney him, there was no good to come in his way. He accordingly went into the stable, but consuming to the hands turn he did, knowing it would be only useless; for, instead of clearing it out, hed be only filling it.
It was near dinner-time, and Jack was very sad and sorrowful, as how could he be otherwise, poor fellow, with such a bloody-minded ould chap to dale with? when up comes the darling of the world again, to call him to his dinner.
‘Well, Jack, says she, with her white arms so beautiful, and her dark clusters tossed about by the motion of her walk-how are you coming on at your task? ‘How am I coming on, is it? Och, thin, says Jack, giving a good-humoured smile through the frown that was on his face, ‘plase your lady-a cushla machree-its all over with me; for Ive still the same story to tell, and off goes my head, as sure as its on my shoulders, this blessed night.
‘That would be a pity, Jack, says she, ‘for there are worse heads on worse shoulders; but will you give me the shovel? ‘Will I give you the shovel, is it?-Och thin, wouldnt I be a right big baste to do the likes of that, any how? says Jack; ‘what! avourneen dheelish ! to stand up with myself, and let this hard shovel into them beautiful, soft, white hands of your own! Faix, my jewel, if you knew but all, my mothers sons not the man to do such a disgraceful turn, as to let a lady like you take the shovel out of his hand, and he standing with his mouth under his nose, looking at you-not myself auourneen! we have no such ungenteel manners as that in our country. ‘Take my advice, Jack, says she, pleased in her heart at what Jack said, for all she didnt purtend it-give me the shovel, and depend upon it, Ill do more in a short time to clear the stable than you would for years. ‘Why, thin, avour- neen, it goes to my heart to refuse you; but, for all that, may I never see yesterday, if a taste of it will go into your purty, white fingers, says the thief, praising her to her face all the time-my head may go off, any day, and welcome, but death before dishonour. Say no more, darling; but tell your father Ill be to my dinner immediately.
Notwithstanding all this, by jingo, the lady would not be put off; like a raal woman, shed have her own way; so on telling Jack that she didnt intend to work with the shovel, at all, at all, but only to take it for a minute in her hand, at long last he gave it to her; she then struck it three times on the threshel of the door, and, giving it back into his hand, tould him to try what he could do. Well, sure enough, now there was a change; for, instead of three shovelfuls coming in, as before, when he threw one out, there went nine more along with it. Jack, in coorse, couldnt do less than thank the lovely crathur for her assistance; but when he raised his head to speak to her, she was gone. I neednt say, howsomever, that he went in to his dinner with a light heart and a murdhering appetite; and when the ould fellow axed him how he was coming on, Jack tould him he was doing gloriously. ‘Remember the empty hook, Jack, said he. ‘Never fear, your honour, answered Jack, ‘if I dont finish my task, you may
bob my head off anytime.
Jack now went out, and was a short time getting through his job, for before the sun set it was finished, and he came into the kitchen, ate his supper, and, sitting down before the fire, sung ‘Love among the Roses, and the ‘Black Joke, to vex the ould fellow.
This was one task over, and his head was safe for that bout; but that night, before he went to bed, his master called him upstairs, brought him into the bloody room, and gave him his orders for the next day. ‘Jack, says he, ‘I have a wild filly that has never been caught, and you must go to my demesne to-morrow, and catch her, or if you dont-look there, says the big blackguard, ‘on that hook it hangs, before to-morrow, if you havnt her at sunset in the stable that you claned yesterday. ‘Very well, your honour, said Jack, carelessly, ‘Ill do every thing in my power, and if I fail, I cant help it.
The next morning, Jack was out with a bridle in his hand, going to catch the filly. As soon as he got into the domain, sure enough, there she was in the middle of a green field, grazing quite at her ase. When Jack saw this he went over towards her, houlding out his hat as if it was full of oats; but he kept
the hand that had the bridle in it behind his back, for fraid shed see it and make off. Well, my dear, on he went till he was almost within grip of her, cock-sure that he had nothing more to do than slip the bridle over her neck and secure her; but he made a bit of a mistake in his reckoning, for though she smelt and snoaked about him, just as if she didnt care a feed of oats whether he caught her or not, yet when he boulted over to hould her fast, she was off like a shot with her tail cocked, to the far end of the demesne, and Jack had to set off hot foot after here. All, however, was to no purpose; he couldnt come next or near her for the rest of the day, and there she kept coorsing him about from one field to another, till he hadnt a blast of breath in his body.
In this state was Jack when the beautiful crathur came out to call him home to his breakfast, walking with the pretty small feet and light steps of her own upon the green fields, so bright and beautiful, scarcely bending the flowers and the grass as she went along, the darling.
‘Jack, says she, ‘I fear you have as difficult a task to-day as you had yesterday.
‘Why, and its you that may say that with your own purty mouth, says Jack, says he; for out of breath and all as he was, he couldnt help giving her a bit of blarney, the rogue.
‘Well, Jack, says she, ‘take my advice, and dont tire yourself any longer by attempting to catch her; truths, best-I tell you, you could never do it; come home to your breakfast, and when you return again, ‘just amuse yourself as well as you can until dinner-time.
‘Och, och! says Jack, striving to look, the sly thief, as if she had promised to help him-I only wish I was a king, and, by the powers, I know who would be my queen, any how; for its your own sweet lady-savourneen dheelish-I say, amnt I bound to you for a year and a day longer, for promising to give me a lift, as well as for what you done yesterday?
‘Take care, Jack, says she, smiling, however, at his ingenuity in striving to trap her into a promise, ‘I dont think I made any promise of assistance.
‘You didnt, says Jack, wiping his face with the skirt of his coat, ‘cause why?-you see pocket-handkerchiefs werent invented in them times: ‘why, thin, may I never live to see yesterday, if theres not as much rale beauty in that smile thats diverting itself about them sweet-breathing lips of yours, and in them two eyes of light thats breaking both their hearts laughing at me, this minute, as would encourage any poor fellow to expect a good turn from you-that is, whin you could do it, without hurting or harming yourself; for its he would be the right rascal that could take it, if it would injure a silken hair of your head.
‘Well, said the lady, with a mighty roguish smile, ‘I shall call you home to your dinner, at all events.
When Jack went back from his breakfast, he didnt slave himself after the filly toy more, but walked about to view the demesne, and the avenues, and the green walks, and nice temples, and fish-ponds, and rookeries, and everything, in short, that was worth seeing. Towards dinner-time, howiver, he began to have an eye to the way the sweet crathur was to come, and sure enough she that wasnt one minute late.
‘Well, Jack, says she, ‘Ill keep you no longer in doubt: for the tender-hearted crathur saw that Jack, although he didnt wish to let an to her, was fretting every now and then about the odd hook and the bloody room-So, Jack, says she, ‘although I didnt promise, yet Ill perform; and with that she pulled a small ivory whistle out of her pocket, and gave three blasts on it that brought the wild filly up to her very hand, as quick as the wind. She then took the bridle, and threw it over the bastes neck, giving her up, at the same time, to Jack; ‘You neednt fear now, Jack, says she, ‘youll find her as quiet as a lamb, and as tame as you wish; as proof of it, just walk before her, and you will see she will follow you to any part of the field.
Jack, you maybe sure, paid her as many and as sweet compliments as he could, and never heed one from his country for being able to say something toothsome to the ladies. At any rate, if he laid it on thick the day before, he gave two or three additional coats this time, and the innocent soul went away smiling, as usual.
When Jack brought the filly home, the dark fellow, his master, if dark before, was a perfect thunder-cloud this night: bedad, he was nothing less than near bursting with vexation, bekaise the thieving ould sinner intended to have Jacks head upon the hook, but he fell short in his reckoning now as well as before. Jack sung ‘Love among the Roses, and the ‘Black Joke, to help him into better
‘Jack, says he, striving to make himself speak pleasant to him, ‘youve got two difficult tasks over you; but you know the third times the charm-take care of the next.
‘No matter about that, says Jack, speaking up to him stiff and stout, bekase, as the dog tould him, he knew he had a friend in coort-lets hear what it is, any how.
‘To-morrow, then, says the other, ‘youre to rob a cranes nest, on the top of a beech-tree which grows in the middle of a little island in the lake that you saw yesterday in my demesne; youre to have neither boat, nor oar, nor any kind of conveyance, but just as you stand; and if you fail to bring me the eggs, or if you break one of them,-look here! says he, again pointing to the odd hook, for all this discoorse took place in the bloody room.
‘Good again, says Jack; ‘if I fail I know my doom.
‘No, you dont, you spalpeen, says the other, getting vexed with him entirely, ‘for Ill roast you till youre half dead, and ate my dinner off you after; and, what is more than that, you blackguard, you must sing the ‘Black Joke all the time for my amusement.
‘Divl fly away with you, thought Jack, ‘but youre fond of music, you vagabone.
The next morning Jack was going round and round the lake, trying about the edge of it, if he could find any place shallow enough to wade in; but he might as well go to wade the say, and what was worst of all, if he attempted to swim, it would be like a tailors goose, straight to the bottom; so he kept himself safe on dry land, still expecting a visit from the ‘lovely crathur, but, bedad, his good luck failed him for wanst, for instead of seeing her coming over to him, so mild and sweet, who does he obsarve steering at a dogs trot, but his ould friend the smoking cur. ‘Confusion to that cur, says Jack to himself, ‘I know now theres some bad fortune before me, or he wouldnt be coming acrass me.
‘Come home to your breakfast, Jack, says the dog, walking up to him, ‘its breakfast time.
‘Ay, says Jack, scratching his head, ‘its no matter whether I do or not, for I bleeve my heads hardly worth a flat-dutch cabbage at the present speaking.
‘Why, man, it was never worth so much, says the baste, pulling out his pipe and putting it in his mouth, when it lit at once.
‘Take care of yourself, says Jack, quite desperate,-for he thought he was near the end of his tether,-take care of yourself, you dirty cur, or maybe I might take a gintlemans toe from your tail.
‘You had better keep a straight tongue in your head, says four-legs, ‘while its on your shoulders, or Ill break every bone in your skin-Jack, youre a fool, says he, checking himself, and speaking kindly to him-youre a fool; didnt I tell you the other day to do what you were bid, and keep never minding?
‘Well, thought Jack to himself, ‘theres no use in making him any more my enemy than he is-particularly as Im in such a hobble.
‘You lie, says the dog, as if Jack had spoken out to him, wherein he only thought the words to himself, ‘you lie, says he, ‘Im not, nor never was, your enemy, if you knew but all.
‘I beg your honours pardon, answers Jack, ‘for being so smart with your honour, but, bedad, if you were in my case,-if you expected your master to roast you alive,-eat his dinner of your body,-make you sing the ‘Black Joke, by way of music for him; and, to crown all, know that your head was to be stuck upon a hook after-maybe you would be a little short, in your temper, as well as your
‘Take heart, Jack, says the other, laying his fore claw as knowingly as ever along his nose, and winking slyly at Jack, didnt I tell you that you had a friend in coort-the days not past yet, so cheer up, who knows but there is luck before you still?
‘Why, thin, says Jack, getting a little cheerful, and wishing to crack a joke with him, ‘but your honours very fond of the pipe! ‘Oh! dont you know, Jack, says he, ‘that thats the fashion at present among my tribe; sure all my brother puppies smoke now, and a man might as well be out of the world as out of the fashion, you know.
When they drew near home, they got quite thick entirely; ‘Now, says Jack, in a good-humoured way, ‘if you can give me a lift in robbing this cranes nest, do; at any rate, Im sure your honour wont be my enemy. I know you have too much good nature in your face to be one that wouldnt help a lame dog over a style-that is, says he, taking himself up for fear of offending the other,-Im sure youd be always inclined to help the weak side.
‘Thank you for the compliment, says, the dog; ‘but didnt I tell you that you have a friend in coort?
When Jack went back to the lake, he-could only sit and look sorrowfully at the tree, or walls; about the edge of it, without being able to do anything else. He spent the whole day this way, till dinner-time, when what would you have of it, but he sees the darlin coming out to him, as fair and as blooming as an angel. His heart, you may be sure, got up to his mouth, for he knew she would be apt to take him out of his difficulties. When she came up-
‘Now, Jack, says she, ‘there is not a minute to be lost, for Im watchd; and if its discovered that I gave you any assistance, we will both be destroyed.
‘Oh, murder sheery! [ref06] says Jack, ‘fly back, avourneen machree-for rather than anything should happen you, Id lose fifty-lives.
‘No, says she, ‘I think Ill be able to-get you over this, as well as the rest; so have a good heart, and be faithful ‘Thats it, replied Jack, ‘thats it, acushla-my own correcthur to a shaving; Ive a heart worth its weight in bank notes, and a more faithful boy isnt alive this day nor Im to yez all, ye darlings of the world.
She then pulled a small white wand out of her pocket, struck the lake, and there was the prettiest green ridge across it to the foot of the tree that ever eye beheld. ‘Now, says she, turning her back to Jack, and stooping down to do something that he couldnt see, ‘Take these, giving him her ten toes, ‘put them against the tree, and you will have steps to carry you to the top, but be sure, for your life and mine, not to forget any of them. If you do, my life will be taken tomorrow morning, for your master puts on my slippers with his own hands.
Jack was now going to swear that he would give up the whole thing and surrender his head at once; but when life looked at her feet, and saw no appearance of blood, he went over without more to do, and robbed the nest, taking down the eggs one by one, that he mightnt brake them. There was no end to his joy, as he secured the last egg; he instantly took down the toes, one after another, save and except the little one of the left foot, which in his joy and hurry he forgot entirely. He then returned by the green ridge to the shore, and accordingly as he went along, it melted away into water behind him .
‘Jack, says the charmer, ‘I hope you forgot none of my toes.
‘Is it me? says Jack, quite sure that he had them all-arrah, catch any one from my country making a blunder of that kind.
‘Well, says she, ‘let us see; so, taking the toes, she placed them on again, just as if they had never been off. But, lo and behold! on coming to the last of the left foot, it wasnt forthcoming. ‘Oh! Jack, Jack, says she, ‘you have destroyed me; to-morrow morning your master will notice the want of this toe, and that instant Ill be put to death.
‘Lave that to me, says Jack; ‘by the powers, you wont lose a drop of your darling blood for it. Have you got a pen-knife about you? and Ill soon show you how you wont.
‘What do you want with the knife? she inquired.
‘What do I want with it?-Why to give you the best toe on both my feet, for the one I lost on you; do you think Id suffer you to want a toe, and I having ten thumping ones at your sarvice?-Im not the man, you beauty you, for such a shabby trick as that comes to.
‘But you forget, says the lady, who was a little cooler than Jack, ‘that none of yours would fit me.
‘And must you die to-morrow, acushla? asked Jack, in desperation. "As sure as the sun rises, answered the lady ‘for Your master would know at once that it was by my toes the nest was robbed.
‘By the powers, observed Jack, ‘hes one of the greatest ould vag-I mane, isnt he a terrible man, out and out, for a father?
‘Father! says the darling,-hes not my father, Jack, he only wishes to marry me and if Im not able to outdo him before three days more, its decreed that he must.
When Jack heard this, surely the Irishman must come out; there he stood, and began to wipe his eyes with the skirt of his coat, making out as if he was crying, the thief of the world. ‘Whats the matter with you? she asked.
‘All! says Jack, ‘you darling, I couldnt find it in my heart to desave you; for I have no way at home to keep a lady like you, in proper style, at all at all; I would only bring I you into poverty, and since you wish to know what ails me, Im vexed that Im not rich for your sake; and next, that that thieving ould villains to have you; and, by the powers, Im crying for both these misfortunes together.
The lady could not help being touched and plaised with Jacks tinderness and ginerosity; so, says she, ‘Dont be cast down, Jack, come or go what will, I wont marry him-Id die first. Do you go home as usual; but take care and dont sleep at all this night. Saddle the wild filly-meet me under the whitethorn bush at the end of the lawn, and well both leave him for ever. If youre willin to marry me, dont let poverty distress you, for I have more money than well know what to do with.
[To be continued]
Ftn01. The Corrag is a roll of branches tied together when green and used for the purposes mentioned the story. It is six feet high, and much thicker than a sack, and is changed to either side of the door according to the direction from which the wind blows.
Ftn02. The straits to which the poor Irish are put for what is termed kitchen-that is some liquid that enables them to dilute and swallow the dry potato-are grievous to think of. An Irishman in his miserable cabin will often feel glad to have salt and water in which to dip it, but that alluded to in the text is absolute comfort. Egg milk is made as follows:-A measure of water is put down suited to the number of the family; the poor woman then takes the proper number of eggs, which she beats up, and, when the water is boiling, pours it in, stirring it well for a couple of minutes. It is then made, and handed round in wooden noggins, every one salting for themselves. In colour it resembles milk, which accounts for its name.
Our readers must have heard of the old and well known luxury of "potatoes and point," which, humourous as it is, scarcely falls short of the truth. An Irish family, of the cabin class, hangs up in the chimney a herring, or "small taste" of bacon, and as the national imagination is said to be strong, each individual points the potato he is going to eat at it, upon the principle, I suppose, of crede et habes. It is generally said that the act communicates the flavor of the herring or bacon, as the case may be, to the potato; and this is called "potatoes and point."
Ftn03. This proverb, which is always used as above, but without being confined in its application, to only one sex, is a general one in Ireland. In delicacy and beauty I think it inimitable.
Ftn04. Accidents-future calamity-or old age.
Ftn05. That frank, cordial manner of address which brings strangers suddenly to intimacy.
Ftn06. Murder everlasting.