The Purcell Papers, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Billy Malowney’s Taste of Love and Glory.

Let the reader fancy a soft summer evening, the fresh dews falling on bush and flower. The sun has just gone down, and the thrilling vespers of thrushes and blackbirds ring with a wild joy through the saddened air; the west is piled with fantastic clouds, and clothed in tints of crimson and amber, melting away into a wan green, and so eastward into the deepest blue, through which soon the stars will begin to peep.

Let him fancy himself seated upon the low mossy wall of an ancient churchyard, where hundreds of grey stones rise above the sward, under the fantastic branches of two or three half-withered ash-trees, spreading their arms in everlasting love and sorrow over the dead.

The narrow road upon which I and my companion await the tax-cart that is to carry me and my basket, with its rich fruitage of speckled trout, away, lies at his feet, and far below spreads an undulating plain, rising westward again into soft hills, and traversed (every here and there visibly) by a winding stream which, even through the mists of evening, catches and returns the funereal glories of the skies.

As the eye traces its wayward wanderings, it loses them for a moment in the heaving verdure of white-thorns and ash, from among which floats from some dozen rude chimneys, mostly unseen, the transparent blue film of turf smoke. There we know, although we cannot see it, the steep old bridge of Carrickadrum spans the river; and stretching away far to the right the valley of Lisnamoe: its steeps and hollows, its straggling hedges, its fair-green, its tall scattered trees, and old grey tower, are disappearing fast among the discoloured tints and haze of evening.

Those landmarks, as we sit listlessly expecting the arrival of our modest conveyance, suggest to our companion — a bare-legged Celtic brother of the gentle craft, somewhat at the wrong side of forty, with a turf-coloured caubeen, patched frieze, a clear brown complexion, dark-grey eyes, and a right pleasant dash of roguery in his features — the tale, which, if the reader pleases, he is welcome to hear along with me just as it falls from the lips of our humble comrade.

His words I can give, but your own fancy must supply the advantages of an intelligent, expressive countenance, and, what is perhaps harder still, the harmony of his glorious brogue, that, like the melodies of our own dear country, will leave a burden of mirth or of sorrow with nearly equal propriety, tickling the diaphragm as easily as it plays with the heart-strings, and is in itself a national music that, I trust, may never, never — scouted and despised though it be — never cease, like the lost tones of our harp, to be heard in the fields of my country, in welcome or endearment, in fun or in sorrow, stirring the hearts of Irish men and Irish women.

My friend of the caubeen and naked shanks, then, commenced, and continued his relation, as nearly as possible, in the following words:

Av coorse ye often heerd talk of Billy Malowney, that lived by the bridge of Carrickadrum. ‘Leum-a-rinka’ was the name they put on him, he was sich a beautiful dancer. An’ faix, it’s he was the rale sportin’ boy, every way — killing the hares, and gaffing the salmons, an’ fightin’ the men, an’ funnin’ the women, and coortin’ the girls; an’ be the same token, there was not a colleen inside iv his jurisdiction but was breakin’ her heart wid the fair love iv him.

Well, this was all pleasant enough, to be sure, while it lasted; but inhuman beings is born to misfortune, an’ Bill’s divarshin was not to last always. A young boy can’t be continially coortin’ and kissin’ the girls (an’ more’s the pity) without exposin’ himself to the most eminent parril; an’ so signs all’ what should happen Billy Malowney himself, but to fall in love at last wid little Molly Donovan, in Coolnamoe.

I never could ondherstand why in the world it was Bill fell in love wid HER, above all the girls in the country. She was not within four stone weight iv being as fat as Peg Brallaghan; and as for redness in the face, she could not hould a candle to Judy Flaherty. (Poor Judy! she was my sweetheart, the darlin’, an’ coorted me constant, ever antil she married a boy of the Butlers; an’ it’s twenty years now since she was buried under the ould white-thorn in Garbally. But that’s no matther!)

Well, at any rate, Molly Donovan tuck his fancy, an’ that’s everything! She had smooth brown hair — as smooth as silk-an’ a pair iv soft coaxin’ eyes — an’ the whitest little teeth you ever seen; an’, bedad, she was every taste as much in love wid himself as he was.

Well, now, he was raly stupid wid love: there was not a bit of fun left in him. He was good for nothin’ an airth bud sittin’ under bushes, smokin’ tobacky, and sighin’ till you’d wonder how in the world he got wind for it all.

An’, bedad, he was an illigant scholar, moreover; an’, so signs, it’s many’s the song he made about her; an’ if you’d be walkin’ in the evening, a mile away from Carrickadrum, begorra you’d hear him singing out like a bull, all across the country, in her praises.

Well, ye may be sure, ould Tim Donovan and the wife was not a bit too well plased to see Bill Malowney coortin’ their daughter Molly; for, do ye mind, she was the only child they had, and her fortune was thirty-five pounds, two cows, and five illigant pigs, three iron pots and a skillet, an’ a trifle iv poultry in hand; and no one knew how much besides, whenever the Lord id be plased to call the ould people out of the way into glory!

So, it was not likely ould Tim Donovan id be fallin’ in love wid poor Bill Malowney as aisy as the girls did; for, barrin’ his beauty, an’ his gun, an’ his dhudheen, an’ his janius, the divil a taste of property iv any sort or description he had in the wide world!

Well, as bad as that was, Billy would not give in that her father and mother had the smallest taste iv a right to intherfare, good or bad.

‘An’ you’re welcome to rayfuse me,’ says he, ‘whin I ax your lave,’ says he; ‘an’ I’ll ax your lave,’ says he, ‘whenever I want to coort yourselves,’ says he; ‘but it’s your daughter I’m coortin’ at the present,’ says he, ‘an that’s all I’ll say,’ says he; ‘for I’d as soon take a doase of salts as be discoursin’ ye,’ says he.

So it was a rale blazin’ battle betune himself and the ould people; an’, begorra, there was no soart iv blaguardin’ that did not pass betune them; an’ they put a solemn injection on Molly again seein’ him or meetin’ him for the future.

But it was all iv no use. You might as well be pursuadin’ the birds agin flying, or sthrivin’ to coax the stars out iv the sky into your hat, as be talking common sinse to them that’s fairly bothered and burstin’ wid love. There’s nothin’ like it. The toothache an’ cholic together id compose you betther for an argyment than itself. It leaves you fit for nothin’ bud nansinse.

It’s stronger than whisky, for one good drop iv it will make you drunk for one year, and sick, begorra, for a dozen.

It’s stronger than the say, for it’ll carry you round the world an’ never let you sink, in sunshine or storm; an,’ begorra, it’s stronger than Death himself, for it is not afeard iv him, bedad, but dares him in every shape.

But lovers has quarrels sometimes, and, begorra, when they do, you’d a’most imagine they hated one another like man and wife. An’ so, signs an, Billy Malowney and Molly Donovan fell out one evening at ould Tom Dundon’s wake; an’ whatever came betune them, she made no more about it but just draws her cloak round her, and away wid herself and the sarvant-girl home again, as if there was not a corpse, or a fiddle, or a taste of divarsion in it.

Well, Bill Malowney follied her down the boreen, to try could he deludher her back again; but, if she was bitther before, she gave it to him in airnest when she got him alone to herself, and to that degree that he wished her safe home, short and sulky enough, an’ walked back again, as mad as the devil himself, to the wake, to pay a respect to poor Tom Dundon.

Well, my dear, it was aisy seen there was something wrong avid Billy Malowney, for he paid no attintion the rest of the evening to any soart of divarsion but the whisky alone; an’ every glass he’d drink it’s what he’d be wishing the divil had the women, an’ the worst iv bad luck to all soarts iv courting, until, at last, wid the goodness iv the sperits, an’ the badness iv his temper, an’ the constant flusthration iv cursin’, he grew all as one as you might say almost, saving your presince, bastely drunk!

Well, who should he fall in wid, in that childish condition, as he was deploying along the road almost as straight as the letter S, an’ cursin’ the girls, an’ roarin’ for more whisky, but the recruiting-sargent iv the Welsh Confusileers.

So, cute enough, the sargent begins to convarse him, an’ it was not long until he had him sitting in Murphy’s public-house, wid an elegant dandy iv punch before him, an’ the king’s money safe an’ snug in the lowest wrinkle of his breeches-pocket.

So away wid him, and the dhrums and fifes playing, an’ a dozen more unforthunate bliggards just listed along with him, an’ he shakin’ hands wid the sargent, and swearin’ agin the women every minute, until, be the time he kem to himself, begorra, he was a good ten miles on the road to Dublin, an’ Molly and all behind him.

It id be no good tellin’ you iv the letters he wrote to her from the barracks there, nor how she was breaking her heart to go and see him just wanst before he’d go; but the father an’ mother would not allow iv it be no manes.

An’ so in less time than you’d be thinkin’ about it, the colonel had him polished off into it rale elegant soger, wid his gun exercise, and his bagnet exercise, and his small sword, and broad sword, and pistol and dagger, an’ all the rest, an’ then away wid him on boord a man-a-war to furrin parts, to fight for King George agin Bonyparty, that was great in them times.

Well, it was very soon in everyone’s mouth how Billy Malowney was batin’ all before him, astonishin’ the ginerals, an frightenin’ the inimy to that degree, there was not a Frinchman dare say parley voo outside of the rounds iv his camp.

You may be sure Molly was proud iv that same, though she never spoke a word about it; until at last the news kem home that Billy Malowney was surrounded an’ murdered by the Frinch army, under Napoleon Bonyparty himself. The news was brought by Jack Brynn Dhas, the peddlar, that said he met the corporal iv the regiment on the quay iv Limerick, an’ how he brought him into a public-house and thrated him to a naggin, and got all the news about poor Billy Malowney out iv him while they war dhrinkin’ it; an’ a sorrowful story it was.

The way it happened, accordin’ as the corporal tould him, was jist how the Jook iv Wellington detarmined to fight a rale tarin’ battle wid the Frinch, and Bonyparty at the same time was aiqually detarmined to fight the divil’s own scrimmidge wid the British foorces.

Well, as soon as the business was pretty near ready at both sides, Bonyparty and the general next undher himself gets up behind a bush, to look at their inimies through spy-glasses, and thry would they know any iv them at the distance.

‘Bedadad!’ says the gineral, afther a divil iv a long spy, ‘I’d bet half a pint,’ says he, ‘that’s Bill Malowney himself,’ says he, ‘down there,’ says he.

‘Och!’ says Bonypart, ‘do you tell me so?’ says he —‘I’m fairly heart-scalded with that same Billy Malowney,’ says he; ‘an’ I think if I was wanst shut iv him I’d bate the rest iv them aisy,’ says he.

‘I’m thinking so myself,’ says the gineral, says he; ‘but he’s a tough bye,’ says he.

‘Tough!’ says Bonypart, ‘he’s the divil,’ says he.

‘Begorra, I’d be better plased.’ says the gineral, says he, ‘to take himself than the Duke iv Willinton,’ says he, ‘an’ Sir Edward Blakeney into the bargain,’ says he.

‘The Duke of Wellinton and Gineral Blakeney,’ says Bonypart, ‘is great for planning, no doubt,’ says he; ‘but Billy Malowney’s the boy for ACTION,’ says he — ‘an’ action’s everything, just now,’ says he.

So wid that Bonypart pushes up his cocked hat, and begins scratching his head, and thinning and considherin’ for the bare life, and at last says he to the gineral:

‘Gineral Commandher iv all the Foorces,’ says he, ‘I’ve hot it,’ says he: ‘ordher out the forlorn hope,’ says he, ‘an’ give them as much powdher, both glazed and blasting,’ says he, ‘an’ as much bullets do ye mind, an’ swan-dhrops an’ chain-shot,’ says he, ‘an’ all soorts iv waipons an’ combustables as they can carry; an’ let them surround Bill Malowney,’ says he, ‘an’ if they can get any soort iv an advantage,’ says he, ‘let them knock him to smithereens,’ says he, ‘an’ then take him presner,’ says he; ‘an’ tell all the bandmen iv the Frinch army,’ says he, ‘to play up “Garryowen,” to keep up their sperits,’ says he, ‘all the time they’re advancin’. An’ you may promise them anything you like in my name,’ says he; for, by my sowl, I don’t think its many iv them ‘ill come back to throuble us,’ says he, winkin’ at him.

So away with the gineral, an’ he ordhers out the forlorn hope, all’ tells the band to play, an’ everything else, just as Bonypart desired him. An’ sure enough, whin Billy Malowney heerd the music where he was standin’ taking a blast of the dhudheen to compose his mind for murdherin’ the Frinchmen as usual, being mighty partial to that tune intirely, he cocks his ear a one side, an’ down he stoops to listen to the music; but, begorra, who should be in his rare all the time but a Frinch grannideer behind a bush, and seeing him stooped in a convanient forum, bedad he let flies at him sthraight, and fired him right forward between the legs an’ the small iv the back, glory be to God! with what they call (saving your presence) a bum-shell.

Well, Bill Malowney let one roar out iv him, an’ away he rowled over the field iv battle like a slitther (as Bonypart and the Duke iv Wellington, that was watching the manoeuvres from a distance, both consayved) into glory.

An’ sure enough the Frinch was overjoyed beyant all bounds, an’ small blame to them — an’ the Duke of Wellington, I’m toult, was never all out the same man sinst.

At any rate, the news kem home how Billy Malowney was murdhered by the Frinch in furrin parts.

Well, all this time, you may be sure, there was no want iv boys comin’ to coort purty Molly Donovan; but one way ar another, she always kept puttin’ them off constant. An’ though her father and mother was nathurally anxious to get rid of her respickably, they did not like to marry her off in spite iv her teeth.

An’ this way, promising one while and puttin’ it off another, she conthrived to get on from one Shrove to another, until near seven years was over and gone from the time when Billy Malowney listed for furrin sarvice.

It was nigh hand a year from the time whin the news iv Leum-a-rinka bein’ killed by the Frinch came home, an’ in place iv forgettin’ him, as the saisins wint over, it’s what Molly was growin’ paler and more lonesome every day, antil the neighbours thought she was fallin’ into a decline; and this is the way it was with her whin the fair of Lisnamoe kem round.

It was a beautiful evenin’, just at the time iv the reapin’ iv the oats, and the sun was shinin’ through the red clouds far away over the hills iv Cahirmore.

Her father an’ mother, an’ the boys an’ girls, was all away down in the fair, and Molly Sittin’ all alone on the step of the stile, listening to the foolish little birds whistlin’ among the leaves — and the sound of the mountain-river flowin’ through the stones an’ bushes — an’ the crows flyin’ home high overhead to the woods iv Glinvarlogh — an’ down in the glen, far away, she could see the fair-green iv Lisnamoe in the mist, an’ sunshine among the grey rocks and threes — an’ the cows an’ the horses, an’ the blue frieze, an’ the red cloaks, an’ the tents, an’ the smoke, an’ the ould round tower — all as soft an’ as sorrowful as a dhrame iv ould times.

An’ while she was looking this way, an’ thinking iv Leum-a-rinka — poor Bill iv the dance, that was sleepin’ in his lonesome glory in the fields iv Spain — she began to sing the song he used to like so well in the ould times —

‘Shule, shule, shale a-roon;’

an’ when she ended the verse, what do you think but she heard a manly voice just at the other side iv the hedge, singing the last words over again!

Well she knew it; her heart flutthered up like a little bird that id be wounded, and then dhropped still in her breast. It was himself. In a minute he was through the hedge and standing before her.

‘Leum!’ says she.

‘Mavourneen cuishla machree!’ says he; and without another word they were locked in one another’s arms.

Well, it id only be nansinse for me thryin’ an’ tell ye all the foolish things they said, and how they looked in one another’s faces, an’ laughed, an’ cried, an’ laughed again; and how, when they came to themselves, and she was able at last to believe it was raly Billy himself that was there, actially holdin’ her hand, and lookin’ in her eyes the same way as ever, barrin’ he was browner and boulder, an’ did not, maybe, look quite as merry in himself as he used to do in former times — an’ fondher for all, an’ more lovin’ than ever — how he tould her all about the wars wid the Frinchmen — an’ how he was wounded, and left for dead in the field iv battle, bein’ shot through the breast, and how he was discharged, an’ got a pinsion iv a full shillin’ a day — and how he was come back to liv the rest iv his days in the sweet glen iv Lisnamoe, an’ (if only SHE’D consint) to marry herself in spite iv them all.

Well, ye may aisily think they had plinty to talk about, afther seven years without once seein’ one another; and so signs on, the time flew by as swift an’ as pleasant as a bird on the wing, an’ the sun wint down, an’ the moon shone sweet an’ soft instead, an’ they two never knew a ha’porth about it, but kept talkin’ an’ whisperin’, an’ whisperin’ an’ talkin’; for it’s wondherful how often a tinder-hearted girl will bear to hear a purty boy tellin’ her the same story constant over an’ over; ontil at last, sure enough, they heerd the ould man himself comin’ up the boreen, singin’ the ‘Colleen Rue’— a thing he never done barrin’ whin he had a dhrop in; an’ the misthress walkin’ in front iv him, an’ two illigant Kerry cows he just bought in the fair, an’ the sarvint boys dhriving them behind.

‘Oh, blessed hour!’ says Molly, ‘here’s my father.’

‘I’ll spake to him this minute,’ says Bill.

‘Oh, not for the world,’ says she; ‘he’s singin’ the “Colleen Rue,” ‘ says she, ‘and no one dar raison with him,’ says she.

‘An’ where ‘ll I go, thin?’ says he, ‘for they’re into the haggard an top iv us,’ says he, ‘an’ they’ll see me iv I lep through the hedge,’ says he.

‘Thry the pig-sty,’ says she, ‘mavourneen,’ says she, ‘in the name iv God,’ says she.

‘Well, darlint,’ says he, ‘for your sake,’ says he, ‘I’ll condescend to them animals,’ says he.

An’ wid that he makes a dart to get in; bud, begorra, it was too late — the pigs was all gone home, and the pig-sty was as full as the Burr coach wid six inside.

‘Och! blur-an’-agers,’ says he, ‘there is not room for a suckin’-pig,’ says he, ‘let alone a Christian,’ says he.

‘Well, run into the house, Billy,’ says she, ‘this minute,’ says she, ‘an’ hide yourself antil they’re quiet,’ says she, ‘an’ thin you can steal out,’ says she, ‘anknownst to them all,’ says she.

‘I’ll do your biddin’, says he, ‘Molly asthore,’ says he.

‘Run in thin,’ says she, ‘an’ I’ll go an’ meet them,’ says she.

So wid that away wid her, and in wint Billy, an’ where ‘id he hide himself bud in a little closet that was off iv the room where the ould man and woman slep’. So he closed the doore, and sot down in an ould chair he found there convanient.

Well, he was not well in it when all the rest iv them comes into the kitchen, an’ ould Tim Donovan singin’ the ‘Colleen Rue’ for the bare life, an’ the rest iv them sthrivin’ to humour him, and doin’ exactly everything he bid them, because they seen he was foolish be the manes iv the liquor.

Well, to be sure all this kep’ them long enough, you may be sure, from goin’ to bed, so that Billy could get no manner iv an advantage to get out iv the house, and so he sted sittin’ in the dark closet in state, cursin’ the ‘Colleen Rue,’ and wondherin’ to the divil whin they’d get the ould man into his bed. An’, as if that was not delay enough, who should come in to stop for the night but Father O’Flaherty, of Cahirmore, that was buyin’ a horse at the fair! An’ av course, there was a bed to be med down for his raverence, an’ some other attintions; an’ a long discoorse himself an’ ould Mrs. Donovan had about the slaughter iv Billy Malowney, an’ how he was buried on the field iv battle; an’ his raverence hoped he got a dacent funeral, an’ all the other convaniences iv religion. An’ so you may suppose it was pretty late in the night before all iv them got to their beds.

Well, Tim Donovan could not settle to sleep at all at all, an’ so he kep’ discoorsin’ the wife about the new cows he bought, an’ the stripphers he sould, an’ so an for better than an hour, ontil from one thing to another he kem to talk about the pigs, an’ the poulthry; and at last, having nothing betther to discoorse about, he begun at his daughter Molly, an’ all the heartscald she was to him be raison iv refusin’ the men. An’ at last says he:

‘I onderstand,’ says he, ‘very well how it is,’ says he. ‘It’s how she was in love,’ says he, ‘wid that bliggard, Billy Malowney,’ says he, ‘bad luck to him!’ says he; for by this time he was coming to his raison.

‘Ah!’ says the wife, says she, ‘Tim darlint, don’t be cursin’ them that’s dead an’ buried,’ says she.

‘An’ why would not I,’ says he, ‘if they desarve it?’ says he.

‘Whisht,’ says she, ‘an’ listen to that,’ says she. ‘In the name of the Blessed Vargin,’ says she, ‘what IS it?’ says she.

An’ sure enough what was it but Bill Malowney that was dhroppin’ asleep in the closet, an’ snorin’ like a church organ.

‘Is it a pig,’ says he, ‘or is it a Christian?’

‘Arra! listen to the tune iv it,’ says she; ‘sure a pig never done the like is that,’ says she.

‘Whatever it is,’ says he, ‘it’s in the room wid us,’ says he. ‘The Lord be marciful to us!’ says he.

‘I tould you not to be cursin’,’ says she; ‘bad luck to you,’ says she, ‘for an ommadhaun!’ for she was a very religious woman in herself.

‘Sure, he’s buried in Spain,’ says he; ‘an’ it is not for one little innocent expression,’ says he, ‘he’d be comin’ all that a way to annoy the house,’ says he.

Well, while they war talkin’, Bill turns in the way he was sleepin’ into an aisier imposture; and as soon as he stopped snorin’ ould Tim Donovan’s courage riz agin, and says he:

‘I’ll go to the kitchen,’ says he, ‘an’ light a rish,’ says he.

An’ with that away wid him, an’ the wife kep’ workin’ the beads all the time, an’ before he kem back Bill was snorin’ as loud as ever.

‘Oh! bloody wars — I mane the blessed saints about us! — that deadly sound,’ says he; ‘it’s going on as lively as ever,’ says he.

‘I’m as wake as a rag,’ says his wife, says she, ‘wid the fair anasiness,’ says she. ‘It’s out iv the little closet it’s comin,’ says she.

‘Say your prayers,’ says he, ‘an’ hould your tongue,’ says he, ‘while I discoorse it,’ says he. ‘An’ who are ye,’ says he, ‘in the name iv of all the holy saints?’ says he, givin’ the door a dab iv a crusheen that wakened Bill inside. ‘I ax,’ says he, ‘who are you?’ says he.

Well, Bill did not rightly remember where in the world he was, but he pushed open the door, an’ says he:

‘Billy Malowney’s my name,’ says he, ‘an’ I’ll thank ye to tell me a betther,’ says he.

Well, whin Tim Donovan heard that, an’ actially seen that it was Bill himself that was in it, he had not strength enough to let a bawl out iv him, but he dhropt the candle out iv his hand, an’ down wid himself on his back in the dark.

Well, the wife let a screech you’d hear at the mill iv Killraghlin, an’—

‘Oh,’ says she, ‘the spirit has him, body an’ bones!’ says she. ‘Oh, holy St. Bridget — oh, Mother iv Marcy — oh, Father O’Flaherty!’ says she, screechin’ murdher from out iv her bed.

Well, Bill Malowney was not a minute remimberin’ himself, an’ so out wid him quite an’ aisy, an’ through the kitchen; bud in place iv the door iv the house, it’s what he kem to the door iv Father O’Flaherty’s little room, where he was jist wakenin’ wid the noise iv the screechin’ an’ battherin’; an’ bedad, Bill makes no more about it, but he jumps, wid one boult, clever an’ clane into his raverance’s bed.

‘What do ye mane, you uncivilised bliggard?’ says his raverance. ‘Is that a venerable way,’ says he, ‘to approach your clargy?’ says he.

‘Hould your tongue,’ says Bill, ‘an’ I’ll do ye no harum,’ says he.

‘Who are you, ye scoundhrel iv the world?’ says his raverance.

‘Whisht!’ says he? ‘I’m Billy Malowney,’ says he.

‘You lie!’ says his raverance for he was frightened beyont all bearin’— an’ he makes but one jump out iv the bed at the wrong side, where there was only jist a little place in the wall for a press, an’ his raverance could not as much as turn in it for the wealth iv kingdoms. ‘You lie,’ says he; ‘but for feared it’s the truth you’re tellin’,’ says he, ‘here’s at ye in the name iv all the blessed saints together!’ says he.

An’ wid that, my dear, he blazes away at him wid a Latin prayer iv the strongest description, an’, as he said himself afterwards, that was iv a nature that id dhrive the divil himself up the chimley like a puff iv tobacky smoke, wid his tail betune his legs.

‘Arra, what are ye sthrivin’ to say,’ says Bill; says he, ‘if ye don’t hould your tongue,’ says he, ‘wid your parly voo;’ says he, ‘it’s what I’ll put my thumb on your windpipe,’ says he, ‘an’ Billy Malowney never wint back iv his word yet,’ says he.

‘Thundher-an-owns,’ says his raverance, says he — seein’ the Latin took no infect on him, at all at all an’ screechin’ that you’d think he’d rise the thatch up iv the house wid the fair fright —‘and thundher and blazes, boys, will none iv yes come here wid a candle, but lave your clargy to be choked by a spirit in the dark?’ says he.

Well, be this time the sarvint boys and the rest iv them wor up an’ half dressed, an’ in they all run, one on top iv another, wid pitchforks and spades, thinkin’ it was only what his raverence slep’ a dhrame iv the like, by means of the punch he was afther takin’ just before he rowl’d himself into the bed. But, begorra, whin they seen it was raly Bill Malowney himself that was in it, it was only who’d be foremost out agin, tumblin’ backways, one over another, and his raverence roarin’ an’ cursin’ them like mad for not waitin’ for him.

Well, my dear, it was betther than half an hour before Billy Malowney could explain to them all how it raly was himself, for begorra they were all iv them persuadin’ him that he was a spirit to that degree it’s a wondher he did not give in to it, if it was only to put a stop to the argiment.

Well, his raverence tould the ould people then, there was no use in sthrivin’ agin the will iv Providence an’ the vagaries iv love united; an’ whin they kem to undherstand to a sartinty how Billy had a shillin’ a day for the rest iv his days, begorra they took rather a likin’ to him, and considhered at wanst how he must have riz out of all his nansinse entirely, or his gracious Majesty id never have condescinded to show him his countenance that way every day of his life, on a silver shillin’.

An’ so, begorra, they never stopt till it was all settled — an’ there was not sich a weddin’ as that in the counthry sinst. It’s more than forty years ago, an’ though I was no more nor a gossoon myself, I remimber it like yestherday. Molly never looked so purty before, an’ Billy Malowney was plisant beyont all hearin,’ to that degree that half the girls in it was fairly tarin’ mad — only they would not let on — they had not him to themselves in place iv her. An’ begorra I’d be afeared to tell ye, because you would not believe me, since that blessid man Father Mathew put an end to all soorts of sociality, the Lord reward him, how many gallons iv pottieen whisky was dhrank upon that most solemn and tindher occasion.

Pat Hanlon, the piper, had a faver out iv it; an’ Neddy Shawn Heigue, mountin’ his horse the wrong way, broke his collar-bone, by the manes iv fallin’ over his tail while he was feelin’ for his head; an’ Payther Brian, the horse-docther, I am tould, was never quite right in the head ever afther; an’ ould Tim Donovan was singin’ the ‘Colleen Rue’ night and day for a full week; an’ begorra the weddin’ was only the foundation iv fun, and the beginning iv divarsion, for there was not a year for ten years afther, an’ more, but brought round a christenin’ as regular as the sasins revarted.

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Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:49