“Ned M’Keown”, in Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry [1830], rep. Collected Works of William Carleton, Vol. III (NY: 1881)

See textual note, infra.

Ned M’Keown’s house stood exactly in an angle, formed by the cross-roads of Kilrudden. It was a long, whitewashed building, well thatched and furnished with the usual appurtenances of yard and offices. Like most Irish houses of the better sort, it had two doors, one opening into a garden that sloped down from the rear in a southern direction. The barn was a continuation of the dwelling-house, and might be distinguished from it by a darker shade of color, being only rough-cast. It was situated on a small eminence, but, with respect to the general locality of the country, in a delightful vale, which runs up, for twelve or fourteen miles, between two ranges of dark, well-defined mountains, that give to the interjacent country the form of a low inverted arch. This valley, which altogether, allowing for the occasional breaks and intersections of hill-ranges, extends upwards of thirty miles in length, is the celebrated valley of the “Black Pig,” so well known in the politico-traditional history of Ireland, and the legends connected with the famous Beal Dearg. [1]
 That part of it where Ned M’Keown resided was peculiarly beautiful and romantic. From the eminence on which the house stood, a sweep of the most fertile meadowland stretched away to the foot of a series of intermingled hills and vales, which bounded this extensive carpet [1] towards the north. Through these meadows ran a smooth river, called the Mullin-burn, which wound its way through
 them with such tortuosity, that it was proverbial in the neighborhood to say of any man remarkable for dishonesty, “He’s as crooked as the Mullin-burn,” an epithet which was sometimes, although unjustly, jocularly applied to Ned himself. This deep but narrow river had its origin in the glens and ravines of a mountain which bounded the vale in a south-eastern direction; and after sudden and heavy rains it tumbled down with such violence and impetuosity over the crags and rock-ranges in its way, and accumulated so amazingly, that on reaching the meadows it inundated their surface, carrying away sheep, cows, and cocks of hay upon its yellow flood. It also boiled and eddied, and roared with a hoarse sugh, that was heard at a considerable distance.
 On the north-west side ran a ridge of high hills, with the cloud-capped peak of Knockmany rising in lofty eminence above them; these, as they extended towards the south, became gradually deeper in their hue, until [2] at length they assumed the shape and form of heath-clad mountains, dark and towering. The prospect on either range is highly pleasing, and capable of being compared with any I have ever seen, in softness, variety, and that serene lustre which reposes only on the surface of a country rich in the beauty of fertility, and improved, by the hand of industry and taste. Opposite Knockmany, at a distance of about four miles, on the south-eastern side, rose the huge and dark outline of Cullimore, standing out in gigantic relief against the clear blue of a summer sky, and flinging down his frowning and haughty shadow almost to the firm-set base of his lofty rival; or, in winter, wrapped in a mantle of clouds, and crowned with unsullied snow, reposing in undisturbed tranquillity, whilst the loud voice of storms howled around him.
 To the northward, immediately behind Cullimore, lies Althadhawan, a deep, craggy, precipitous glen, running up to its very base, and wooded with oak, hazel, rowan-tree, and holly. This picturesque glen extends two or three miles, until it melts into the softness of grove and meadow, in the rich landscape below. Then, again, on the opposite side, is Lumford’s Glen, with its overhanging rocks, whose yawning depth and silver waterfall, of two hundred feet, are at once finely and fearfully contrasted with the elevated peak of Knockmany, rising into the clouds above it.
 From either side of these mountains may be seen six or eight country towns - the beautiful grouping of hill and plain, lake, river, grove, and dell - the [grey] reverend cathedral (of Clogher) - the white-washed cottage, and the comfortable farm-house. To these may be added the wild upland and the cultivated demesne, the green sheep-walk, the dark moor, the splendid mansion, and ruined castle of former days. Delightful remembrance! Many a day, both of sunshine and storm, have I, in the strength and pride of happy youth, bounded, fleet as the mountain foe, over these blue hills! Many an evening, as the yellow beams of the setting sun shot slantingly, like rafters of gold, across the depth of this blessed and peaceful valley, have I followed, in solitude, the impulses of a wild and wayward fancy,
 and sought the quiet dell, or viewed the setting sun, as he scattered his glorious and shining beams through the glowing foliage of the trees, in the vista, where I stood; or wandered along the river whose banks were fringed with the hanging willow, whilst I listened to the thrush singing among the hazels that crowned the sloping green above me, or watched the splashing otter, as he ventured from the dark angles and intricacies of the upland glen, to seek his prey in the meadow-stream during the favorable dusk of twilight. Many a time have I heard the simple song of Roger M’Cann, coming from the top of brown Dunroe, mellowed, by the stillness of the hour, to something far sweeter to the heart than all that the labored pomp of musical art and science can effect; or the song of Katty Roy, the beauty of the village, streaming across the purple-flowered moor,
 “Sweet as the shepherd’s pipe upon the mountains.”
 Many a time, too, have I been gratified, in the same poetical hour, by the sweet sound of honest Ned M’Keown’s ungreased cartwheels, clacking [3], when nature seemed to have fallen asleep after the day-stir and animation of rural business - for Ned was sometimes a carman - on his return from Dublin with a load of his own groceries, without as much money in his pocket as would purchase oil wherewith to silence the sounds which the friction produced - regaling his own ears the while, as well as the music of the cart would permit his melody to be heard, with his favorite tune of “Cannie Soogah”. [2]
 Honest, blustering, good-humored Ned was the indefatigable merchant of the village; ever engaged in some ten or twenty pound speculation, the capital of which he was sure to extort, perhaps for the twelfth time, from the savings of Nancy’s frugality, by the equivocal test of a month or six weeks’ consecutive sobriety, and which said speculation he never failed to wind up by the total loss of the capital for Nancy, and the capital loss of a broken head for himself. Ned had eternally some bargain on his hands: at one time you might see him a yarn-merchant, planted in the next market-town upon the upper step of Mr. Birney’s hall-door, where the yarn-market was held, surrounded by a crowd of eager country-women, anxious to give Ned the preference, first, because he was a well-wisher; secondly, because he hadn’t his heart in the penny; and thirdly, because he gave sixpence a spangle more than any other man in the market. There might Ned be found; with his twenty pounds of hard silver jingling in the bottom of a green bag, as a decoy to his customers, laughing loud as he piled the yarn in and ostentatious heap, which in the pride of his commercial sagacity, he had purchased at a dead loss. Again you might see him at a horse-fair, cantering about on the back of some sleek but broken-winded jade, with spavined legs, imposed on him as “a great bargain entirely,” by the superior cunning of some rustic sharper; or standing over a hogshead of damaged flaxseed, in the purchase of which he shrewdly suspected himself of having overreached the seller - by allowing him for it a greater price than the prime seed of the market would have cost him. In short, Ned was never out of a speculation, and whatever he undertook was sure to prove a complete failure. But he had one mode of consolation, which consisted in sitting down with the fag-end of Nancy’s capital in his pocket, and drinking night and day with this neighbor and that, whilst a shilling remained; and when he found himself at the end of his tether, he was sure to fasten a quarrel on some friend or acquaintance, and to get his head broken for his pains.
 None of all this blustering, however, happened within the range of Nancy’s jurisdiction. Ned, indeed, might drink and sing, and swagger and fight - and he contrived to do so; but notwithstanding all his apparent courage, there was one eye which made him quail, and before which he never put on the hector; - there was one, in whose presence the loudness of his song would fall away into a very awkward and unmusical quaver, and under whose glance his laughing face often changed to the visage of a man who is disposed to anything but mirth.
 The fact was this: Whenever Ned found that his speculation was gone [4] a shaughran [3], as he termed it, he fixed himself in some favorite public house, from whence he seldom stirred while his money lasted, except when dislodged by Nancy, who usually, upon learning where he had taken cover, paid him an unceremonious visit, to which Ned’s indefensible delinquency gave the color of legitimate authority. Upon these occasions, Nancy, accompanied by two sturdy “servant-boys,” would sally forth to the next market-town, for the purpose of bringing home “graceless Ned,” as she called him. And then you might see Ned between the two servants, a few paces in advance of Nancy, having very much the appearance of a man performing a pilgrimage to the gallows, or of a deserter guarded back to his barrack, in order to become a target for the muskets of his comrades. Ned’s compulsory return always became a matter of some notoriety; for Nancy’s excursion in quest of the “graceless” was not made without frequent denunciations of wrath against him, and many melancholy apologies to the neighbors for entering upon the task of personally securing him. By this means her enterprise was sure to get wind, and a mob of the idle young men and barefooted urchins of the village, with Bob M’Cann, “a three-quarter clift” [4] of a fellow - half knave, half fool, was to be found, a little below the village, upon an elevation of the road, that commanded a level stretch of half a mile or so, in anxious expectation of the procession. No sooner had this arrived at the point of observation, than the little squadron would fall rearward of the principal group, for the purpose of extracting from Nancy a full and particular account of the [5] capture.
 “Indeed, childher, it’s no wonder for yez to enquire! Where did I get him, Dick? - musha, and where would I get him but in the ould place, a-hagur ; with the ould set: don’t yez know that a dacent place or dacent company wouldn’t sarve Ned? - nobody but Shane Martin, and Jimmy Tague, and the other blackguards.” [5]
 “And what will you do with him, Nancy?”
 “Och! thin, Dick, avourneen, it’s myself that’s jist tired thinking of that; at any rate, consamin’ to the loose foot he’ll get this blessed month to come, Dick, agra!
 “Throth, Nancy,” another mischievous monkey would exclaim, “if you hadn’t great patience entirely, you couldn’t put up with such threatment, at all at all.”
 “Why thin, God knows it’s true for-you, Barney. D’ye hear that, ‘graceless?’ the very childhre making a laughing-stock and a may-game of you! - but wait till we get under the roof, any how.”
 “Ned,” a third would say, “isn’t it a burning shame for you to break the poor crathur’s heart this a-way? Throth, but you ought to hould down your head, sure enough - a dacent woman! that only for her you wouldn’t have a house over you, so you wouldn’t.”
 “And throth, and the same house is going, Tim,” Nancy would exclaim, “and when it goes, let him see thin who’ll do for him; let him thry if his blackguards will stand to him, when he won’t have poor foolish Nancy at his back.”
 During these conversations, Ned would walk on between his two guards with a dogged-looking and condemned face; Nancy behind him, with his own cudgel, ready to administer an occasional bang whenever he attempted to slacken his pace, or throw over his shoulder a growl of dissent or justification.
 On getting near home, the neighbors would occasionally pop out their heads, with a smile of good-humored satire on their faces, which Nancy was very capable of translating:
 “Ay,” she would say, addressing them, “I’ve caught him - here he is to the fore. Indeed you may well laugh, Kitty Rafferty; not a one of myself blames you for it. - Ah, ye mane crathur,” aside to Ned, “if you had the blood of a hen in you, you wouldn’t have the neighbors braking their hearts laughing at you in sich a way; and above all the people in the world, them Rafferty’s, that got the decree against us at the last sessions, although I offered to pay within fifteen shillings of the differ - the grubs!” [6]
 Having seen her hopeful charge safely deposited on the hob, Nancy would throw her cloak into this corner, and her bonnet into that, with the air of a woman absorbed by the consideration of some vexatious trial; she would then sit down, and, lighting her doodeen, [6] exclaim -
 “ Wurrah, wurrah! but it’s me that’s the heart-scalded crathur with that man’s four quarters! The Lord may help me and grant me patience with him, any way! - to have my little honest, hard-earned penny spint among a pack of vagabonds, that don’t care if him and me wor both down the river, so they could get their skinful of drink out of him! No matther, agra, things can’t long be this a-way; but what does Ned care? - give him drink and fighting, and his blackguards about him, and that’s his glory. There now’s the landlord coming down upon us for the rint; and unless he takes the cows out of the byre, or the bed from anundher us, what in the wide earth is there for him?”
 The current of this lecture was never interrupted by a single observation from Ned, who usually employed himself in silently playing with “Bunty;” a little black cur, without a tail, and a great favorite with Nancy; or, if he noticed anything out of its place in the house, he would arrange it with great apparent care. In the meantime, Nancy’s wrath generally evaporated with the smoke of the pipe - a circumstance which Ned well knew; for after she had sucked it until it emitted a shrill, bubbling sound, like that from a reed, her brows, which wore at other times an habitual frown, would gradually relax into a more benevolent expression - the parenthetical curves on each side of her mouth, formed by the irascible pursing of her lips, would become less marked - the dog or cat, or whatever else came in her way, instead of being kicked aside, or pursued in an underfit of digressional peevishness, would be put out of her path with gentler force - so that it was, in such circumstances, a matter of little difficulty to perceive that conciliation would soon be the order of the day. Ned’s conduct on these critical occasions was very prudent and commendable: he still gave Nancy her own way; never “jawed back to her;” but took shelter, as it were, under his own patience, until the storm had passed, and the sun of her good humor began to shine out again. Nancy herself, now softened by the fumes of her own pigtail, usually made the first overtures to a compromise, but, without departing from the practice and principles of higher negotiators; always in an indirect manner:
 as, “Biddy, avourneen,” speaking to her niece, “maybe that crathur,” pointing,” to Ned, “ate nothing to-day; you had better, agra! get him the could bacon that’s in the cupboard, and warm for him, upon the greeshaugh [7], them yallow-legs [8] that’s in the colindher; though God he knows it’s ill my common [9] - but no matther, ahagur! There’s enough said, I’m thinking - give them to him.”
 On Ned seating himself to his bacon and potatoes, Nancy would light another pipe, and plant herself on the opposite hob, putting some interrogatory to him, in the way of business - always concerning a third person, and still in a tone of dry ironical indifference: as - [7]
 “Did you see Jimmy Connolly on your travels?”
 “Humph! Can you tell us if Andy Morrow sould his coult?”
 “He did.”
 “May be you have gumption enough to know what he got for him?”
 “Fifteen guineas.”
 “In troth, and it’s more nor a poor body would get; but, anyway, Andy Morrow desarves to get a good price; he’s a man that takes care of his own business, and minds nothing else. I wish that filly of ours was dockt; you ought to spake to Jim M’Quade about her: it’s time to make her up - you know, we’ll want to sell her for the rint.”
 This was an assertion, by the way, which Ned knew to have everything but truth in it.
 “Never heed the filly,” Ned would reply, “I’ll get Charley Lawdher [10] to dock her - but it’s not her I’m thinking of: did you hear the news about the tobacky?”
 “No; but I hope we won’t be long go.”
 “Well, any how, we wor in luck to buy in them three last rowls.”
 “Eh? - in luck? death-alive, how, Ned?”
 “Sure there was three ships of it lost last week, on their way from the kingdom of Swuzerland, in the Aist Indians, where it grows: we can rise it thruppence a-pound now.”
 “No, Ned! you’re not in airnest?”
 “Faith, Nancy, you may say I am; and as soon as Tom Loan comes home from Dublin, he’ll tell us all about it; and for that matther, maybe it may rise sixpence a-pound; any how we’ll gain a lob by it, I’m thinking.”
 “May I never stir, but that’s luck! Well, Ned, you may thank me for that, any way, or sorra rowl we’d have in the four corners of the house; and you wanted to persuade me against buying them; but I knew betther - for the tobacky’s always sure to get a bit of a hitch at this time o’ the year.”
 “Bedad, you can do it, Nancy: I’ll say that for you - that is, and give you your own way.”
 “Eh! - can’t I, Ned? And, what was betther, I bate down Pether M’Entee three-ha’pence a-pound afther I bought them.”
 “Ha! ha! ha! - by my sannies, Nancy, as to market-making, they may all throw their caps at you, you thief o’ the world; you can do them nately!”
 “Ha! ha! ha! Stop, Ned; don’t drink that water - it’s not from the garden-well. I’ll jist mix a sup of this last stuff we got from the mountains, till you taste it: I think it’s not worse nor the last - for Hugh Traynor’s [11] an ould hand at making it.”
 This was all Ned wanted: his point was now carried; but with respect to the rising of the tobacco, the less that is said about it the bettor for his veracity. [8]
 Having thus given the reader a slight sketch of Ned and Nancy, and of the beautiful valley in which this worthy speculator had his residence, I shall next proceed to introduce him to the village circle, which, during the long winter nights, might be found in front of Ned’s kitchen-fire of blazing turf, whose light was given back in ruddy reflection from the bright pewter plates, that were ranged upon the white and well-scoured dresser in just and gradual order, from the small egg-plate to the large and capacious dish, whereon, at Christmas and Easter, the substantial round of corned beef used to rear itself so proudly over the more ignoble joints at the lower end of the table.
 Seated in this clear-obscure of domestic light - which, after all, gives the heart a finer and more touching notion of enjoyment than the glitter of the theatre or the blaze of the saloon - might be found first, Andy Morrow, the juryman of the quarter-sessions, sage and important in the consciousness of legal knowledge, and somewhat dictatorial withal in its application to such knotty points as arose out of the subjects of their nocturnal debates. Secondly, Bob Gott, who filled the foreign and military departments, and related the wonderful history of the ghost which appeared to him on the night after the battle of Bunker’s-hill. To him succeeded Tom M’Roarkin, the little asthmatic anecdotarian of half the country, - remarkable for chuckling at his own stories. Then came old M’Kinny, poacher and horse-jockey; little, squeaking, thin-faced Alick M’Kinley, a facetious farmer of substance; and Shane Fadh, who handed down, traditions and fairy tales. Enthroned on one hob sat Pat Frayne, the schoolmaster with the short arm, who read and explained the newspaper for “old Square Colwell,” and was looked upon as premier to the aforesaid cabinet; Ned himself filled the opposite seat of honor.
 One night, a little before the Christmas holidays in the year 18 -, the personages just described were seated around Ned’s fire, some with their chirping pints of ale or porter, and others with their quantum of Hugh Traynor, or mountain-dew, and all with good humor, and a strong tendency to happiness, visible in their faces. The night was dark, close, and misty; so dark, indeed, that, as Nancy said, “you could hardly see your finger before you.” Ned himself was full of fun, with a pint of porter beside him, and a pipe in his mouth, just in his glory for the night. Opposite to him was Pat Frayne, with an old newspaper on his knee, which he had just perused for the edification of his audience; beside him was, Nancy, busily employed in knitting a pair of sheep’s-grey stockings for Ned; the remaining personages formed a semicircular ring about the hearth. Behind, on the kitchen-table sat Paddy Smith, the servant-man, with three or four of the gorsoons of the village about him, engaged in an under-plot of their own. On the other, a little removed from the light, sat Ned’s two nieces, Biddy and Bessy Connolly, former with Atty Johnson’s mouth within whisper-reach of her ear, and the latter seated close to her professed admirer, Billy Fulton, her [9] uncle’s shopman. [12] This group; was completely abstracted from the entertainment which was going forward in the circle round the fire.
 “I wondher,” said Andy Morrow, “what makes Joe M’Crea throw down that fine ould castle of his, in Aughentain?”
 “I’m tould,” said M’Roarkin, “that he expects money; for they say there’s a lot of it buried somewhere about the same building.”
 “Jist as much as there’s in my wig,” replied Shane Fadh, “and there’s ne’er a pocket to it yet. Why, bless your sowl, how could there be money in it, whin the last man of the Grameses that owned it - I mane of the ould stock, afore it went into Lord Mountjoy’s hands - sould it out, ran through the money, and died begging afther? Did none of you ever hear of -

”Ould John Grame,
That swally’d the castle of Aughentain?’”
 “That was long afore my time,” said the poacher; “but I know that the rabbit-burrow between that and Jack Appleden’s garden will soon be run out.”
 “Your time!” responded Shane Fadh, with contempt; “ay, and your father’s afore you: my father doesn’t remimber more nor seeing his funeral, and a merry one it was; for my grandfather, and some of them that had a respect for the family and his forbarers, if they hadn’t it for himself, made up as much money among them as berried him dacently any how, - ay, and gave him a rousin’ wake into the bargain, with lashins of whiskey, stout beer, and ale; for in them times - God be with them every farmer brewed his own ale and beer; - more betoken, that one pint of it was worth a keg of this wash of yours, Ned.”
 “Wasn’t it he that used to appear ?” inquired M’Roarkin.
 “Sure enough he did, Tom.”
 “Lord save us,” said Nancy, “what could trouble him, I dunna?”
 “Why,” continued Shane Fadh, “some said one thing, and some another; but the upshot of it was this: when the last of the Grameses sould the estate, castle, and all, it seems he didn’t resave all the purchase money; so, afther he had spint what he got, he applied to the purchaser for the remainder - him that the Mountjoy family bought it from; but it seems he didn’t draw up writings, or sell it according to law, so that the thief o’ the world baffled him from day to day, and wouldn’t give him a penny - bekase he knew, the blaggard, that the Square was then as poor as a church mouse, and hadn’t money enough to thry it at law with him; but the Square was always a simple asy-going man. One day he went to this fellow, riding on an ould garran, with a shoe loose - the only baste he had in the world - and axed him, for God’s sake, to give him of what he owed him, if it was ever so little; ‘for,’ says he, ‘I huve not as much money betune me and death as will get a set of shoes for my horse.’”
 “”Well,’ says the nager, ‘if you’re not able to keep your horse shod, I would jist recommend you to sell him, and thin his shoes won’t cost you any thing,’ says he. [10]
 “The ould Square went away with tears in his eyes, - for he loved the poor brute, bekase they wor the two last branches of the ould stock.”
 “Why,” inquired M’Kinley, in his small squeaking voice, “was the horse related to the family?”
 “I didn’t say he was related to the fam -
 “Get out, you shingaun!” [13] returned the old man, perceiving by the laugh that now went round, the sly tendency of the question - “no, nor to your family either, for he had nothing of the ass in him - eh? will you put that in your pocket, my little skinadhre [14] - ha! ha! ha!”
 The laugh was now turned against M’Kinley.
 Shane Fadh proceeded: “The ould Square, as I was tellin yez, cried to find himself an’ the poor baste so dissolute; but when he had gone a bit from the fellow, he comes back to the vagabone - ’Now,’ says he, ‘mind my words - if you happen to live afther me, you need never expect a night’s pace; for I here make a serous an’ solemn vow, that as long as my property’s in your possession, or in any of your seed, breed, or gineration’s, I’ll never give over hauntin’ you an’ them, till you’ll rue to the back-bone your dishonesty an’ chathery to me an’ this poor baste, that hasn’t a shoe to his foot.’
 “”Well,’ says the nager, ‘I’ll take chance of that, any way.’”
 “I’m tould, Shane,” observed the poacher, “that the Square was a fine man in his time, that wouldn’t put up with sich treatment from anybody.”
 “Ay, but he was ould now,” Shane replied, “and too wakely to fight. - A fine man, Bill! - he was the finest man, ‘cepting ould Square Storey, that ever was in this counthry. I hard my granfather often say that he was six feet four, and made in proportion - a handsome, black-a-vis’d man, with great dark whiskers. Well! he spent money like sklates, and so he died miserable - but had a merry birrel, as I said.”
 “But,” inquired Nancy, “did he ever appear to the rogue that chated him?”
 “Every night in the year, Nancy, exceptin’ Sundays; and what was more, the horse along with him - for he used to come ridin’ at midnight upon the same garran; and it was no matther what place or company the other ‘ud be in, the ould Square would come reglarly, and crave him for what he owed him.”
 “So it appears that horses have sowls,” observed M’Roarkin, philosophically, giving, at the same time, a cynical chuckle at the sarcasm contained in his own conceit.
 “Whether they have sowls or bodies,” replied the narrator, “what I’m tellin’ you is truth; every night in the year the ould chap would come for what was indue him; find as the two went along, the noise of the loose shoe upon the horse would be hard rattlin’, and seen knockin’ the fire out of the stones, by the neighbors and the thief that chated him, even before the Square would appeal at all at all.”
 “Oh, wurrah!” exclaimed Nancy, shuddering with terror. “I [11] wouldn’t take anything and be out now on the Drumfarrar road [15], and nobody with me but myself.”
 “I think if you wor,” said M’Kinley, “the light weights and short measures would be comin’ acrass your conscience.”
 “No, in troth, Alick, wouldn’t they; but may be if you wor, the promise you broke to Sally Mitchell might trouble you a bit: at any rate, I’ve a prayer, and if I only repated it wanst, I mightn’t be afeard of all the divils in hell.”
 “Throth, but it’s worth havin’, Nancy: where did you get it?” asked M’Kinley.
 “Hould your wicked tongue, you thief of a heretic,” said Nancy, laughing, “when will you larn anything that’s good? I got it from one that wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t good - Darby M’Murt, the pilgrim, since you must know.”
 “Whisht!” said Frayne: “upon my word, I believe the old Square’s comin’ to pay us a visit; does any of yez hear a horse trottin’ with a shoe loose?”
 “I sartinly hear it,” observed Andy Morrow.
 “And I,” said Ned himself.
 There was now a general pause, and in the silence a horse, proceeding from the moors in the direction of the house, was distinctly heard; and nothing could be less problematical than that one of his shoes was loose.
 “Boys, take care of yourselves,” said Shane Fadh, “if the Square comes, he won’t be a pleasant customer - he was a terrible fellow in his day: I’ll hould goold to silver that he’ll have the smell of brimstone about him.”
 “Nancy, where’s your prayer now?” said M’Kinley, with a grin: “I think you had betther out with it, and thry if it keeps this old brimstone Square on the wrong side of the house.”
 “Behave yourself, Alick; it’s a shame for you to be sich a hardened crathur: upon my sannies, I believe your afeard of neither God nor the divil - the Lord purtect and guard us from the dirty baste!”
 “You mane particklarly them that uses short measures and light weights,” rejoined M’Kinley.
 There was another pause, for the horseman was within a few perches of the crossroads. At this moment an unusual gust of wind, accompanied by torrents of rain, burst against the house with a violence that made its ribs creak; and the stranger’s horse, the shoe still clanking, was distinctly heard to turn in from the road to Ned’s door, where it stopped, and the next moment a loud knocking intimated the horseman’s intention to enter. The company now looked at each other, as if uncertain what to do. Nancy herself grew pale, and, in the agitation of the moment, forgot to think of her protecting prayer. Biddy and Bessy Connolly started from the settle on which they had been sitting with their sweethearts, and sprung beside their uncle, on the hob. The stranger was still knocking with great violence, yet there was no disposition among the company [12] to admit him, notwithstanding the severity of the night - blowing, as it really did, a perfect hurricane. At length a sheet of lightning flashed through the house, followed by an amazing loud clap of thunder; while, with a sudden push from without, the door gave way, and in stalked a personage Whose stature was at least six feet four, with dark eyes and complexion, and coal-black whiskers of an enormous size, the very image of the Squire they had been describing. He was dressed in a long black surtout, which him appear even taller than he actually was, had a pair of heavy boots upon and carried a tremendous whip, large enough to fell an ox. He was in a rage on entering; and the heavy, dark, close-knit-brows, from beneath which a pair of eyes, equally black, shot actual fire, whilst the Turk-like whiskers, which curled themselves up, as it were, in sympathy with his fury, joined to his towering height, gave him altogether, when we consider the frame of mind in which he found the company, an appalling and almost supernatural appearance.
 “Confound you, for a knot of lazy scoundrels,” exclaimed the stranger, “why do you sit here so calmly, while any being craves admittance on such a night as this? Here, you lubber in the corner, with a pipe in your mouth, come and put up this horse of mine until the night settles.”
 “May the blessed mother purtect us!” exclaimed Nancy, in a whisper, to Andy Morrow, “if I believe he’s a right thing! - would it be the ould Square? Did you ever set your eyes upon sich a” -
 “Will you bestir yourself, you boor, and’ not keep my horse and saddle out under such a torrent?” he cried, “otherwise I must only bring him into the house, and then you may say for once that you’ve had the devil under your roof.”
 “Paddy Smith, you lazy spalpeen,” said Nancy, winking at Ned to have nothing to do with the horse, “why don’t you fly and put up the gintleman’s horse? And you, Atty, avourneen, jist go out with him, and hould the candle while he’s doin’ it: be quick now, and I’ll give you glasses a-piece when you come in.”
 “Let them put him up quickly; but I say, you Caliban,” added the stranger, addressing Smith, “don’t be rash about him except you can bear fire and brimstone; get him, at all events, a good feed of oats. Poor Satan!” he continued, patting the horse’s head, which was now within the door, “you’ve had a hard night of it, my poor Satan, as well as myself. That’s my dark spirit - my brave chuck, that fears neither man nor devil.”
 This language was by no means calculated to allay the suspicions of those who were present, particularly of Nancy and her two nieces. Ned sat in astonishment, with the pipe in his hand, which he had, in the surprise of the moment, taken from his mouth, his eyes fixed upon the stranger, and his mouth open. The latter noticed him, and stretching over the heads of the circle, tapped him on the shoulder with his whip -
 “I have a few words to say to you, sir,” he said.
 “To me, your honor!” exclaimed Ned, without stirring, however.
 “Yes,” replied the other, “but you seem to be fastened to your seat: come this way.” [13]
 “By all manner of manes, sir,” said Ned, starting up, and going over to the dresser, against which the stranger stood.
 When the latter had got him there, he very coolly walked up, and secured Ned’s comfortable seat on the hob, at the same time observing -
 “You hadn’t the manners to ask me to sit down; but I always make it a point of conscience to take care of myself, landlord.”
 There was not a man about the fire who did not stand up, as if struck with a sudden recollection, and offer him a seat.
 “No,” said he, “thank you, my good fellows, I am very well as it is: I suppose, mistress, you are the landlady,” addressing Nancy; “if you be, I’ll thank you to bring me a gill of your best whiskey, - your best, mind. Let it be as strong as an evil spirit let loose, and as hot as fire; for it can’t be a jot too ardent such a night as this, for a being that rides the devil.”
 Nancy started up instinctively, exclaiming, “Indeed, plase your honor’s reverence, I am the landlady, as you say, sir, sure enough; but, the Lawk save and guard us! won’t a gallon of raw whiskey be too much for one man to drink?”
 “A gallon! I only said a gill, my good hostess; bring me a gill - but I forget - I believe you have no such measure in this country; bring me a pint, then.”
 Nancy now went into the bar, whither she gave Ned a wink to follow her; and truly was glad of an opportunity of escaping from the presence of the visitor.
 When there, she ejaculated -
 “May the holy Mother keep and guard us, Ned, but I’m afeard that’s no Christian crathur, at all at all! Arrah, Ned, aroon, would he be that ould Square Grame, that Shane Fadh, maybe, angered, by spakin’ of him?”
 “Troth,” said Ned, “myself doesn’t know what he is; he bates any mortal I ever seen.”
 “Well, hould agra! I have it: we’ll see whether he’ll drink this or not, any how.”
 “Why, what’s that you’re doin’?” asked Ned.
 “Jist,” replied Nancy, “mixin’ the smallest taste in the world of holy wather with the whiskey, and if he drinks that, you know he can be nothing that’s bad.” [16]
 Nancy, however, did not perceive that the trepidation of her hand was such as to incapacitate her from making nice distinctions in the admixture. She now brought the spirits to the stranger, who no sooner took a mouthful of it, than he immediately stopped it on its passage, and fixing his eyes earnestly on herself, squirted it into the fire, and the next moment the whiskey was in a blaze that seemed likely to set the chimney in flames.
 “Why, my honest hostess,” he exclaimed, “do you give this to me for [14] whiskey? Confound me, but two-thirds of it is water; and I have no notion to pay for water when I want spirits: have the goodness to exchange this, and get me some better stuff, if you have it.”
 He again put the jug to his mouth, and having taken a little, swallowed it: - “Why, I tell you, woman, you must have made some mistake; one-half of it is water.”
 Now, Nancy, from the moment he refused to swallow the liquor, had been lock-jawed; the fact was, she thought that the devil himself, or old Squire Graham, had got under her roof; and she stood behind Ned, who was nearly as terrified as herself, with her hands raised, her tongue clinging to the roof of her mouth, and the perspiration falling from her pale face in large drops. But as soon as she saw him swallow a portion of that liquid, which she deemed beyond the deglutition of ghost or devil, she instantly revived - her tongue resumed its accustomed office - her courage, as well as her good-humor, returned, and she went up to him with great confidence, saying:
 “Why, then, your Reverence’s honor, maybe I did make a bit of a mistake, sir” - taking up the jug, and tasting its contents: “Hut! bad scran to me, but I did, beggin’ your honor’s pardon; how-an-diver, I’ll soon rightify that, your Reverence.”
 So saying, she went and brought him a pint of the stoutest the house afforded. The stranger drank a glass of it, and then ordered hot water and sugar, adding - “My honest friends here about the fire will have no objection to help me with this; but, on second consideration, you had better get us another quart, that as the night is cold, we may have a jorum at this pleasant fire, that will do our hearts good; and this pretty girl here,” addressing Biddy, who really deserved the epithet, “will sit beside me, and give us a song.”
 It was surprising what an effect the punch even in perspective, had upon the visual organs of the company; second-sight was rather its precursor than its attendant; for, with intuitive penetration, they now discovered various good qualities in his ghost-ship, that had hitherto been beyond their ken; and those very personal properties, which before struck them dumb with terror, already called forth their applause.
 “What a fine man he is!” one would whisper, loud enough, however, to be heard by the object of his panegyric.
 “He is, indeed, and a rale gintleman,” another would respond in the same key.
 “Hut! he’s none of your proud, stingy upsthart bodagahs [17] - none of your beggarly half-sirs [18],” a third would remark: “he’s the dacent thing entirely - you see he hasn’t his heart in a thrifle.”
 “And so sign’s on him,” a fourth would add, with comic gravity, “he wasn’t bred to shabbiness, as you may know by his fine behavior and his big whiskers.” [15]
 When the punch was made, and the kitchen-table placed endwise towards the fire, the stranger, finding himself very comfortable, inquired if he could be accommodated with a bed and supper, to which Nancy replied in the affirmative.
 “Then, in that case,” said he, “I will be your guest for the night.”
 Shane Fadh now took courage to repeat the story of old Squire Graham and his horse with the loose shoe; informing the stranger, at the same time, of the singular likeness which he bore to the subject of the story, both in face and size, and dwelling upon the remarkable coincidence in the time and manner of his approach.
 “Tut, man!” said the stranger, “a far more extraordinary adventure happened to one of my father’s tenants, which, if none of you have any objection, I will relate.”
 There was a buzz of approbation at this; and they all thanked his honor, expressing the strongest desire to hear his story. He was just proceeding to gratify them, when another rap came to the door, and, before any of the inmates had time to open it, Father Ned Deleery and his curate made their appearance, having been on their way home from a conference held in the town of - -, eighteen
 miles from the scene of our present story.
 It may be right here to inform the reader, that about two hundred yards from Ned’s home stood a place of Roman Catholic worship, called “the Forth,” [19] from the resemblance it bore to the Forts or Baths, so common in Ireland. It was a small green, perfectly circular, and about twenty yards in diameter. Around it grew a row of old overspreading hawthorns, whose branches formed a canopy that almost shaded it from sun and storm. Its area was encompassed by tiers of seats, one raised above another, and covered with the flowery grass. On these the congregation used to sit - the young men chatting or ogling their sweethearts on the opposite side; the old ones in little groups, discussing the politics of the day, as retailed by Mick M’Caffry. [20] the politician; while, up near the altar, hemmed in by a ring of old men and women, you might perceive a voteen [devotee], repeating some new prayer or choice piece of devotion - or some other, in a similar circle, perusing, in a loud voice. Dr. Gallagher’s Irish Sermons, Pastorini’s History of the Christian Church, or Columbkill’s Prophecy - and, perhaps, a strolling pilgrim, the centre of a third collection, singing the Dies irae, in Latin, or the “Hermit of Killarney”, in English.
 At the extremity of this little circle was a plain altar of wood, covered with a little thatched shed, under which the priest celebrated mass; but before the performance of this ceremony, a large multitude usually assembled opposite Ned’s shop-door, at the cross-roads. This crowd consisted of such as wanted to buy tobacco, candles, soap, potash, and such other groceries as the peasantry remote from market-towns require. After mass, the public-house was filled to the door-posts, with those who wished [16] to get a sample of Nancy’s Iska-behagh [21] and many a time has little Father Ned himself, of a frosty day, after having performed mass with a celerity highly agreeable to his auditory, come in to Nancy, nearly frost-bitten, to get his breakfast, and a toothful of mountain dew to drive the cold out of his stomach.
 The fact is, that Father Deleery made himself quite at home at Ned’s without any reference to Nancy’s saving habits; the consequence was, that her welcome to him was extremely sincere - “from the teeth out.” Father Ned saw perfectly through her assumed heartiness of manner, but acted as if the contrary was the case; Nancy understood him also, and with an intention of making up by complaisance for their niggardliness in other respects, was a perfect honeycomb. This state of cross-purposes, however, could not last long; neither did it. Father Ned never paid, and Nancy never gave credit; so, at length, they came to an open rupture; she threatened to process him for what he owed her, and he, in return, threatened to remove the congregation from “The Forth” to Ballymagowan bridge, where he intended to set up his nephew in the “public line,” to the ruin of Nancy’s flourishing establishment.
 “Father Ned,” said Nancy, “I’m a hardworking, honest woman, and I don’t see why my substance is to be wasted by your Reverence when you won’t pay for it.”
 “And do you forget,” Father Ned would reply, “that it’s me that brings you your custom? Don’t you know that if I remove my flock to Ballymagowan, you’ll soon sing to another tune? so lay that to your heart.”
 “Troth, I know that whatever I get I’m obliged to pay for it; and I think every man should do the same, Father Ned. You must get a hank of yarn from me, and a bushel or two of oats from Ned, and your riglar dues along with all; but, avourneen, it’s yourself that won’t pay a penny when you can help it.”
 “Salvation to me, but you’d skin a flint!”
 “Well, if I would, I pay my debts first.”
 “You do?”
 “Yes, troth, do I.”
 “Why then that’s more than you’ll be able to do long, plase the fates.”
 “If all my customers wor like your Reverence, it is.”
 “I’ll tell you what it is, Nancy, I often threatened to take the congregation from ‘The Forth,’ and I’ll do it - if I don’t, may I never sup sorrow!”
 Big with such a threat, Father Ned retired. The apprehensions of Nancy on this point, however, were more serious than she was willing to acknowledge. This dispute took place a few days before the night in question. Father Ned was a little man, with a red face, slender legs, and flat feet; he was usually cased in a pair of ribbed minister’s grey small-clothes, with leggings of the same material. His coat, which was much too short, rather resembled a jerkin, and gave him altogether an appearance very much at variance with an idea of personal gravity or reverence. [17] Over this dress he wore in winter, a dark great-coat, with high collar, that buttoned across his face, showing only the point, of his red nose; so that, when riding or walking, his hat rested more upon the collar of his coat than upon his head.
 The curate was a tall, raw-boned young man, with high jutting cheek-bones, low forehead, and close knees; to his shoulders, which were very high, hung a pair of long bony arms, whose motions seemed rather the effect of machinery than volition. His hair, which was a bad black, was cropped close, and trimmed across his eye-brows, like that of a Methodist preacher; the small-clothes he wore were of the same web which had produced Father Ned’s, and his body-coat was a dark blue, with black buttons. Each wore a pair of gray woollen mittens.
 “There, Pether,” said Father Ned, as he entered, “hook my bridle along with your own, as your hand is in - God save all here! Paddy Smith, ma bouchal, put these horses in the stable, till we dry ourselves a bit - Father Pether and I.”
 “Musha, but you’re both welcome,” said Nancy, wishing to wipe out the effects of the last tiff with Father Ned, by the assistance of the stranger’s punch; “will ye bounce, ye spalpeens, and let them to the fire? Father Ned, you’re dhreepin’ with the rain; and, Father Pether, avourneen, you’re wet to the skin, too.”
 “Troth, and he is, Nancy, and a little bit farther, if you knew but all. Mr. Morrow, how do you do, sir? - And - eh? - Who’s this we’ve got in the corner? A gintleman, boys, if cloth can make one! Mr. Morrow, introduce me.”
 “Indeed, Father Ned, I hav’nt the pleasure of knowing the gintleman myself.” “Well, no matter - come up, Pether. Sir, I have the honor of introducing you to my curate and coadjutor, the Reverend Pether M’Clatchaghan, and to myself, his excellent friend, but spiritual superior, the Reverend Edward Deleery, Roman Catholic Rector of this highly [18] respectable and extensive parish; and I have further the pleasure,” he continued, taking up Andy Morrow’s Punch, “of drinking your very good health, sir.”
 “And I have the honor,” returned the stranger, rising up, and diving his head among the flitches of bacon that hung in the chimney,” of introducing you and the Rev. Mr. M’ - M’ - M’ - - “-
 “Clatchagan, sir,” subjoined Father Ned.
 “Peter M’Illclatchagan, to Mr. Longinus Polysyllabus Alexandrinus.”
 “By my word, sir, but it’s a good and appropriate name, sure enough,” said Father Ned, surveying his enormous length; “success to me but you’re an Alexandrine from head to foot - non solum Longinus, sed Alexandrinus .”
 “You’re wrong, sir, in the Latin,” said Father Peter.
 “Prove it, Peter - prove it.”
 “It should be non tantum, sir.”
 “By what rule Pether?”
 “Why, sir, there’s a phrase in Corderius’s ‘Colloquies’ that I could condimn you from, if I had the book.”
 “Pether, you think you’re a scholar, and, to do you justice, you’re cute enough sometimes; but, Pether, you didn’t travel for it, as I did - nor were you obliged to lep out of a college windy in Paris, at the time of the French Revolution, for your larning, as I was: not you, man, you ate the king’s mutton comfortably at home in Maynooth, instead of travelling like your betters.”
 “I appale to this gintleman,” said Father Peter turning to the stranger. “Are you a classical scholar, sir - that is, do you understand Latin?”
 “What kind?” demanded the stranger dryly.
 “If you have read Corderius’s ‘Colloquies’, it will do,” said Father Peter.
 “No, sir,” replied the other, “but I have read his commentator, Bardolphus, who wrote a treatise upon the Nasus Rubricundus of the ancients.”
 “Well, sir, if you did, it’s probable that you may be able to understand our dispute, so” -
 “Peter, I’m afeard you’ve got into the wrong box; for I say he’s no chicken that’s read Nasus Rubricundus, I can tell you that; I had my own trouble with it: but, at any rate, will you take your punch, man alive, and don’t bother us with your Latin?”
 “I beg your pardon, Father Ned: I insist that. I’m right; and I’ll convince you that you’re wrong, if God spares me to see Corderius to-morrow.”
 “Very well then, Pether, if you’re to decide it to-morrow, let us have no more of it tonight.”
 During this conversation between the two reverend worthies, the group around the fire were utterly astonished at the erudition displayed in this learned dispute.
 “Well, to be sure, larnin’s a great thing, entirely,” said M’Roarkin, aside, to Shane Fadh.
 “Ah, Tom, there’s nothing like it: well, any way, it’s wonderful what they know!”
 “Indeed it is, Shane - and in so short a time, too! Sure, it’s not more nor five or six years since Father Pether there used to be digging praties on the one ridge with myself - by the same token, an excellent spadesman he was - and now he knows more nor all the Protestant parsons in the Diocy.”
 “Why, how could they know any thing, when they don’t belong to the thrue church?” said Shane.
 “Thrue for you, Shane,” replied M’Roaran; “I disremimbered that clincher.”
 This discourse ran parallel with the dispute between the two priests, but in so low a tone as not to reach the ears of the classical champions, who would have ill-brooked this eulogium upon Father Peter’s agricultural talent.
 “Don’t bother us, Pether, with your arguing to-night,” said Father Ned, “it’s enough for you to be seven days in the week at your disputations. - Sir, I drink to our better acquaintance.”
 “With all my heart, sir,” replied the stranger.
 “Father Ned,” said Nancy, “the gintleman was going to tell us a sthrange story, sir, and maybe your Reverence would wish to hear it, docthor?”
 “Certainly, Nancy, we’ll be very happy to hear any story the gintleman may plase to tell us; but, Nancy, achora, before he begins, what if you’d just fry a slice or two of that glorious flitch, hanging over his head, in the corner? - that, and about six eggs, Nancy, and you’ll have the priest’s blessing, gratis.”
 “Why, Father Ned, it’s too fresh, entirely - sure it’s not a week hanging yet.
 “Sorra matter, Nancy dheelish, we’ll take with all that - just try your hand at a slice of it. I rode eighteen miles since I dined, and I feel a craving, Nancy, a whacuum in my stomach, that’s rather troublesome.”
 “To be sure, Father Ned, you must get a slice, with all the veins in my heart; but I thought maybe you wouldn’t like it so fresh: but what on earth will we do for eggs? for there’s not an egg under the roof with me.”
 “Biddy, ahagur,” said Father Ned, “just slip out to Molshy Johnson, and tell her to send me six eggs for a rasher, by the same token that I heard two or three hens cackling in the byre, as I was going to conference this morning.”
 “Well, Docthor,” said Pat Frayne, when Biddy had been gone some time, on which embassy she delayed longer than the priest’s judgment, influenced by the cravings of his stomach, calculated to be necessary, - “Well, Docthor, I often pity you, for fasting so long; I’m sure, I dunna how you can stand it, at all, at all.”
 “Troth, and you may well wonder, Pat; but we have that to support us, that you, or any one like you, know nothing about - inward support, Pat - inward support.”
 “Only for that, Father Ned,” said Shane Fadh, “I suppose you could never get through with it.”
 “Very right, Shane - very right: only for it, we never could do. - What the dickens is keeping this girl with the eggs? - why she might be at Mr. Morrow’s, here, since. By the way, Mr. Morrow,” he continued, laughing, “you must come over to our church: you’re a good neighbor, and a worthy fellow, and it’s a thousand pities you should be sent down.”
 “Why, Docthor,” said Andy, “do you really believe I’ll go downwards?”
 “Ah, Mr. Morrow, don’t ask me that question - out of the pale, you know - out of the pale.”
 “Then you think, sir, there’s no chance for me, at all?” said Andy, smiling.
 “Not the laste, Andy, you must go this way,” said Father Ned, striking the floor with the butt end of his whip, and winking - “to the lower raigons; and, upon my knowledge, to tell you the truth, I’m sorry for it, for you’re a worthy fellow.”
 “Ah, Docthor,” said Ned, “it’s a great thing entirely to be born of the true church - one’s always sure, then.”
 “Ay, ay; you may say that, Ned,” returned the priest, “come or go what will, a man’s always safe at the long run, except he dies without his clargy. - Shane, hand me the jug, if you please. - Where did you get this stuff, Nancy? - faith, it’s excellent.”
 “You forget, Father Ned, that that’s a secret. - - But here’s Biddy with the eggs, and now you’ll have your rasher in no time.”
 When the two clergymen had discussed the rashers and eggs, and while the happy group were making themselves intimately acquainted with a fresh jug of punch, as it circulated round the table -
 “Now, sir,” said Father Ned to the stranger, “we’ll hear your story with the greatest satisfaction possible; but I think you might charge your tumbler before you set to it.”
 When the stranger had complied with this last hint, “Well, gentlemen,” said he, “as I am rather fatigued, will you excuse me for the position I am about to occupy, which is simply to stretch myself along the hob here, with my head upon the straw hassoch? and if you have no objection to that, I will relate the story.”
 To this, of course, a general assent was given. When he was stretched completely at his ease -
 “Well, upon my veracity,” observed Father Peter, “the gentleman’s supernaturally long.”
 “Yes, Pether,” replied Father Ned, “but observe his position - Polysyllaba cuncta supina, as Prosody says. - Arrah, salvation to me but you’re a dull man, afther all! - but we’re interrupting the gentleman. Sir, go on, if you please, with your story.”
 “Give me a few minutes,” said he, “until I recollect the particulars.”
 He accordingly continued quiescent for two or three minutes more, apparently arranging the materials of his intended narration, and then commenced to gratify the eager expectations of his auditory, by emitting those nasal enunciations which are the usual accompaniments of sleep!
 “Why, bad luck to the morsel of ‘im but’s asleep,” said Ned; “Lord pardon me for swearin’ in your Reverence’s presence.”
 “That’s certainly the language of a sleeping man,” replied Father Ned, “but there might have been a little more respect than all that snoring comes to. Your health, boys.”
 The stranger had now wound up his nasal organ to a high pitch, after which he commenced again with somewhat of a lower and finer tone.
 “He’s beginning a new paragraph,” observed Father Peter with a smile at the joke.
 “Not at all,” said Father Ned, “he’s turning the tune; don’t you perceive that he’s snoring ‘God save the King,’ in the key of bass relievo ?”
 “I’m no judge of instrumental music, as you are,” said the curate, “but I think it’s liker the ‘Dead March of Saul,’ than ‘God save the King;’ however, if you be right, the gentleman certainly snores in a truly loyal strain.”
 “That,” said little M’Roarkin, “is liker the Swine’s melody, or the Bedfordshire hornpipe - he - he - he!”
 “The poor gintleman’s tired,” observed Nancy, “afther a hard day’s thravelling.”
 “I dare say he is,” said Father Ned, in the sincere hospitality of his country; “at all events, take care of him, Nancy, he’s a stranger, and get the best supper you can for him - he appears to be a truly respectable and well-bred man.”
 “I think,” said M’Kinley, with a comical grin, “you might know that by his high-flown manner of sleeping - he snores very politely, and like a gentleman, all out.”
 “Well done, Alick,” said the priest, laughing; “go home, boys, it’s near bed-time; Paddy, ma bouchal, are the horses ready?”
 “They’ll be at the door in a jiffy, your Reverence,” said Paddy going out.
 In the course of a few minutes, he returned, exclaiming, “Why, thin, is it thinkin’ to venthur out sich a night as it’s comin’ on yer Reverences would be? and it plashin’ as if it came out of methers! Sure the life would be dhrownded out of both of ye, and yees might cotch a faver into the bargain.”
 “Sit down, gintlemen,” said Ned; “sit down, Father Ned, you and Father Pether - we’ll have another tumbler; and, as it’s my turn to tell a story, I’ll give yez something, amuse yez, - the best I can, and, you all know, who can do more?”
 “Very right, Ned; but let us see” - replied father Ned, putting his head out of the door to ascertain what the night did; “come, Pether, it’s good to be on the safe side of any house in such a storm; we must only content ourselves until it gets fair. Now, Ned, go on with your story, and let it be as leasant as possible.”
 “Never fear, your Reverence,” replied Ned - “here goes - and healths a-piece to begin with.”


1. ‘The following extract, taken from a sketch by the author called “The Irish Prophecy-man,” contains a very appropriate illustration of the above passage. “I have a little book that contains a prophecy of the milk-white hind an’ the bloody panther, an’ a foreboding [1] of the slaughter there’s to be in the Valley of the Black Pig, as foretould by Beal Derg, or the prophet wid the red mouth, who never was known to speak but when he prophesied, or to prophesy but when he spoke.”
  “The Lord bless an’ keep us! - an’ why was he called the Man with the Red Mouth, Barney?”
 “I’ll tell you that: first, bekase he always prophesied about the slaughter an’ fightin’ that was to take place in the time to come; an’, secondly, bekase, while he spoke, the red blood always trickled out of his mouth, as a proof that what he foretould was true.”
 “Glory be to God! but that’s wondherful all out. Well, we’ll!”
 “Ay, an’ Beal Deig, or the Red Mouth, is still livin’.”
 “Livin! why, is he a man of our own time?”
 “Our own time! The Lord help you! It’s more than a thousand years since he made the prophecy. The case you see is this: he an’ the ten thousand witnesses are lyin’ in an enchanted sleep in one of the Montherlony mountains.”
 “An’ how is that known, Barney?”
 “It’s known, Every night at a certain hour one of the witnesses-an’ they’re all sogers, by the way-must come out to look for the sign that’s to come.”
 “An’ what is that, Barney?”
 “It’s the fiery cross; an’ when he sees one on aich of the four mountains of the north, he’s to know that the same sign’s abroad in all the other parts of the kingdom. Beal Derg an’ his men are then to waken up, an’ by their aid the Valley of the Black Pig is to be set free forever.”
 “An’ what is the Black Pig, Barney?”
 “The Prospitarian church, that stretches from Enniskillen to Darry, an’ back again from Darry to Enniskillen.”
 “Well, well, Barney, but prophecy is a strange thing, to be sure! Only think of men livin’ a thousand years!”
 “Every night one of Beal Derg’s men must go to the mouth of the cave, which opens of itself, an’ then look out for the sign that’s expected. He walks up to the top of the mountain, an’ turns to the four corners of the heavens, to thry if he can see it; an’ when he finds that he cannot, he goes back to Beal Derg. who, afther the other touches him, starts up and axis him, ‘Is the time come?’ He replies, ‘No; the man is, but the hour is not!’ an’ that instant they’re both asleep again. Now, you see, while the soger is on the mountain top, the mouth of the cave is open, an’ any one may go in that might happen to see it. One man it appears did, an’ wishin’ to know from curiosity whether the sogers were dead or livin’, he touched one of them wid his hand, who started up an’ axed him the same question, ‘Is the time come?’ Very fortunately he said, ‘No;’ an’ that minute the soger was as sound in his trance as before.”
 “An’, Barney, what did the soger mane when he said. ’The man is, but the hour is not?’”
 “What did he mane? I’ll tell you that. The man is Bonyparty, which manes, when put into proper explanation, the right side; that is, the true cause. Larned men have found that out.” [End extract]
2. “The Jolly Pedlar,” - a fine old Irish air.
3. Gone astray.
4. This is equal to the proverb-”he wants a square,” that is, though knavish not thoroughly rational; in other words, a combination of knave and fool. Bob, in consequence of his accomplishments, was always a great favorite in the village. Upon some odd occasions he was a ready and willing drudge at everything, and as strong as a ditch. Give him only a good fog-meal-which was merely a trifle, just what would serve three men or so-give him, we say, a fog-meal of this kind, about five times a day, with a liberal promise of more, and never was there a Scotch Brownie who could get through so much work. He knew no fatigue; frost and cold had no power over him; wind, sleet, and hail he laughed at; rain! it stretched his skin, he said, after a meal-and that, he added, was a comfort. Notwithstanding all this, he was neither more nor less than an impersonation of laziness, craft, and gluttony. The truth is, that unless in the hope of being gorged he would do nothing; and the only way to get anything out of him was, never to let the gorge precede the labor, but always, on the contrary, to follow it. Bob’s accomplishments were not only varied, but of a very elevated order, and the means of holding him in high odor among us. Great and wonderful, Heaven knows, did we look upon his endowments to be. No man, wise or otherwise, could “hunt the brock,” alias the badger, within a hundred miles of Bob; for when he covered his mouth with his two hands, and gave forth the very sounds which the badger is said to utter, did we not look upon him-Bob-with as much wonder and reverence as we would have done upon the badger himself? Phup-um-phup-phup-um-phup-phup-um-phup-um-phup-um-phup. Who but a first-rate genius could accomplish this feat in such a style? Bob could crow like a cock, bark like a dog, mew like a cat, neigh like a horse, bray like an ass, or gobble like a turkey-cock. Unquestionably, I have never heard him equalled as an imitator of birds and beasts. Bob’s crack feat, however, was performing the Screw-pin Dance, of which we have only this to say, that by whatsoever means he became acquainted with it, it is precisely the same dance which is said to have been exhibited by some strolling Moor before the late Queen Caroline. It is, indeed, very strange, but no less true, that many of the oriental customs are yet prevalent in the remote and isolated parts of Ireland. Had the late Mr. O’Brien, author of the Essay on Irish Round Towers, seen Bob perform the dance I speak of, he would have hailed him as a regular worshipper of Budh, and adduced his performance as a living confirmation of his theory. Poor Bob! he is gone the way of all fools, and all flesh.’ [End extract.]
5. The reader, here, is not to rely implicitly upon the accuracy of Nancy’s description of the persons alluded to. It is true the men were certainly companions and intimate acquaintances of Ned’s, but not entitled to the epithet which Nancy in her wrath bestowed upon them. Shane was a rollicking fighting, drinking butcher, who cared not a fig! whether he treated you to a drink or a drubbing, indeed, it was at all times extremely difficult to say whether he was likely to give you the drink first or the drubbing afterwards, or vice versa. Sometimes he made the drubbing the groundwork for the drink and quite as frequently the drink the groundwork for the drubbing. Either one or other you were sure to receive at his hands; but his general practice was to give both. Shane, in fact, was a good-humored fellow, well liked, and nobody’s enemy but his own. Jemmy Tague was a quiet man, who could fight his corner, however, if necessary. Shane was called Kittogue Shane, from being left-handed. Both were butchers, and both, we believe, alive and kicking at this day.
 6. a short pipe.
 7. hot embers.
 8. a kind of potato.
 9. It’s ill-becoming-or it ill becomes me, to everlook his conduct [Dublin Edn. has ‘it ill becomes me’]
 10. A blacksmith, and an honest man.
 11. Hugh, who, by the way, is still living, and, I am glad to hear, in improved circumstances, was formerly in the habit of making a drop of the right sort.
 12. Each pair have been since married, and live not more happily than I wish them. Fulton still lives in Ned’s house at the Cross-roads.
 13. Fairy-like, or connected to the fairies.
 14. thin, fleshless, stunted person.
 15. A lonely mountain-road, said to have been haunted. It is on this road that the coffin scenes mentioned in the Party fight and Funeral is laid.
 16. The efficacy of holy water in all Roman Catholic countries, but especially in Ireland, is supposed to be very great. It is kept in the house, or, in certain cases, about the person, as a safeguard against evil spirits, fairies, or sickness. It is also used to allay storms and quench conflagrations; and when an Irishman or Irishwoman is about to go a journey, commence labor or enter upon any other important undertaking, the person is sure to be sprinkled with holy water, under the hope that the journey or undertaking will prosper.
 17. A person vulgar, but rich, without any pretensions but those of wealth to the character of a gentleman; a churl [var., bodachs in the Dublin edition].
 18. Half-sir; the same as above.
 19. This very beautiful but simple place of worship does not now exist. On its site is now erected a Roman Catholic chapel
 20. Mick was also a schoolmaster, and the most celebrated village politician of his day. Every Sunday found him engaged as in the text.
 21. Usquebaugh-literally, “water of life.”

Textual note

In preparing this internet edition of the stories of William Carleton, I have chiefly relied on the digital text edited by David Wiger and made available in Gutenberg Project. Wiger takes as his copy-text the Works of William Carleton, Vol. III (NY: Collier 1881), with plates by M. J. Flanery, each reproduced in its proper place, in the HMTL version - along with a photo-copy of the title-page complete with burn-mark from a previous reader. The ASCII version of his copy, also provided in Gutenberg, naturally lacks any illustrations. The text of the Collier edition differs very little from the so-called ‘definitive edition’ published in 23 parts in Dublin during 1842-44 and issued in two volumes in 1844, with an Introduction by Carleton, dated 1843.

The American publisher has adopted US spellings, confirming that the book was reset in that country (e.g., ‘humor’ for ‘humour’). Otherwise, there are some small changes dictated by his sense of the state of Irish knowledge in America. In one such instance, for example, the word ‘Clogher’ has been transposed from an original footnote (‘to wit, Clogher’) in the Dublin edition to the corresponding part of the text where it appears in parenthesis: ‘the reverend cathedral (Clogher)’. Other footnotes have been imported into the body text if they are short enough to appear there without disruption. Incidental changes of spelling occur - some probably assignable to Optical Character Recogniton [OCR] and related editorial oversights. Thus, for instance, such Hiberno-English forms as ‘spaking’ for speaking have been produced as ‘spiking’. For some reason, probably not assignable to modern editorial error, the name ‘Birney’ in the Dublin edition has been occasionally produced as ‘Birnie’.

The 1990 Gerrards Cross edition of the Traits and Stories (Colin Smythe 1990) published in two volumes with an introduction by Barbara Hayley follows the ‘definitive edition’ of 1844 as regards text and decorations although the full-page plates by Phiz, Manus, et al. have all been transposed to the start of each volume instead of appearing in their proper places. (The artist of the American edition is different, as stated above.) A slightly earlier modern edition of the Traits and Stories was attempted in 8 parts by Mercier Press in 1973 but does not appear to have proceeded beyond the first slender collection, Wildgoose Lodge and Other Stories, published with a general introduction by Maurice Harmon and a volume introduction, presumably by him also. Yet another attempt to publish the stories in toto was made by Anthony Cronin in 1962, resulting in The Courtship of Phelim O”Toole: Six Irish Tales, in the New English Library (London: Dent).

It would be natural to exect that Harmon would use the 1844 text but clear indications to the contrary can be seen in the variant on the sentence in “Ned M’Keown” that refers to ‘Bardolphus, who wrote a treatise upon the Nasus Rubricundus of the ancients[meaning ‘Red Nose’]. This corresponds to a rather briefer sentence in the Harmon/Mercier Press edition: ‘Bardolphus, who wrote a treatise upon the Ogalvus [sic] of the ancients’. An inverse variant - longer rather than shorter - can be seen in the inclusion of the word ‘grey’ in the phrase describing Clogher cathedral in the same story, resulting in ‘the grey reverend cathedral’ in the Harmon edition. In the American edition the editor has added the name of Clogher in a parenthetical note. And since the word ‘grey’ appears in neither the Dublin edition of 1844 or the New York edition of 1881, it is likely to have been belonged to an earlier edition which was revised by Carleton for republication - at which time he expanded the Bardolphus sentence and dropped the plucked the ‘grey’ out of his description of Clogher cathedral.

This matter of editions might easily be decided by identifying Harmon's copy-text either by inquiring from him or by bibliographical detective work. Unfortunately I am not in a position to pursue the matter at the moment. There is one salient difference, however, between the standard reprint edition (Hayley) and Harmon’s version. Consonant with the purposes of a modern popular edition, Harmon often substitutes a short academic note for the very lengthy one that Carleton supplied in 1844 edition of the same story. For instance, Carleton’s footnote explaining an allusion to ‘Beal Derg’ on the first page of the story takes the form of a long quotation from “The Irish Prophecyman” in the 1844 edition and this is understandable replaced by a brief synopsis of the historical facts in Harmon:

Baldearg (i.e., Red Mark), otherwise Hugh O’Donnell, was a famous character in the War of 1689-91. He was a Donegal man who had served in the Spanish army with distinction. According to an ancient prophecy, his reappearance would mean the deliverance of Ireland, and this the people fully expected. After the battle of Aughrim he went over to the Williamite side, for which he obtained £500 a year. He returned to Spain, where he became a major-general, and died about 1703. See Macauley’s Hist., Chap. xvi. - Ed.

Although the Mercier edition looks very like a facsimile reprint as regards font and layout, it appears to be reset since it does not follow the pagination of the original. Equally, it differs from the Definitive Edition (Hayley, 1990), in as much as “Wildgoose Lodge” has been carried to the front of the volume, with “Ned McKeown” coming after. Nor has “The Three Tasks”, which is the first of the tales told in Ned’s house, been included - thus wrecking the similitude with classical story-collections (including the Canterbury Tales and the Decameron) which are framed by a general narrative introducing the separate narrators. This plan, however, is only partly followed in Carleton’s book, which, in the end, is a gathering of his stories rather than a unified collection.

Neither the engraved surrounds for each story’s first-page of the Dublin edition of 1844 nor that plates of the American edition have been reproduced. In the Dublin edition (1844), “Ned McKeown” begins at p.[1] and ends at p.22, when it is followed by the linked story “The Tree Tasks” on p.23ff. The pagination of the Gerrards Cross facsimile edition of 1990 - and therefore fo the Dublin original - is inserted in square brackets for convenience in the following copy.



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