We will now return to Martin Kelly. I have before said that as soon as he had completed his legal business, namely, his instructions for the settlement of Anty Lynch’s property, respecting which he and Lord Ballindine had been together to the lawyer’s in Clare Street he started for home, by the Ballinasloe canal-boat, and reached that famous depot of the fleecy tribe without adventure. I will not attempt to describe the tedium of that horrid voyage, for it has been often described before; and to Martin, who was in no ways fastidious, it was not so unendurable as it must always be to those who have been accustomed to more rapid movement. Nor yet will I attempt to put on record the miserable resources of those, who, doomed to a twenty hours’ sojourn in one of these floating prisons, vainly endeavour to occupy or amuse their minds. But I will advise any, who from ill-contrived arrangements, or unforeseen misfortune, [FOOTNOTE: Of course it will be remembered that this was written before railways in Ireland had been constructed.] may find themselves on board the Ballinasloe canal-boat, to entertain no such vain dream. The vis inertiae of patient endurance, is the only weapon of any use in attempting to overcome the lengthened ennui of this most tedious transit. Reading is out of the question. I have tried it myself, and seen others try it, but in vain. The sense of the motion, almost imperceptible, but still perceptible; the noises above you; the smells around you; the diversified crowd, of which you are a part; at one moment the heat this crowd creates; at the next, the draught which a window just opened behind your ears lets in on you; the fumes of punch; the snores of the man under the table; the noisy anger of his neighbour, who reviles the attendant sylph; the would-be witticisms of a third, who makes continual amorous overtures to the same overtasked damsel, notwithstanding the publicity of his situation; the loud complaints of the old lady near the door, who cannot obtain the gratuitous kindness of a glass of water; and the baby-soothing lullabies of the young one, who is suckling her infant under your elbow. These things alike prevent one from reading, sleeping, or thinking. All one can do is to wait till the long night gradually wears itself away, and reflect that, Time and the hour run through the longest day.
I hardly know why a journey in one of these boats should be much more intolerable than travelling either outside or inside a coach; for, either in or on the coach, one has less room for motion, and less opportunity of employment. I believe the misery of the canal-boat chiefly consists in a pre-conceived and erroneous idea of its capabilities. One prepares oneself for occupation an attempt is made to achieve actual comfort and both end in disappointment; the limbs become weary with endeavouring to fix themselves in a position of repose, and the mind is fatigued more by the search after, than the want of, occupation.
Martin, however, made no complaints, and felt no misery. He made great play at the eternal half-boiled leg of mutton, floating in a bloody sea of grease and gravy, which always comes on the table three hours after the departure from Porto Bello. He, and others equally gifted with the dura ilia messorum, swallowed huge collops of the raw animal, and vast heaps of yellow turnips, till the pity with which a stranger would at first be inclined to contemplate the consumer of such unsavoury food, is transferred to the victim who has to provide the meal at two shillings a head. Neither love nor drink and Martin had, on the previous day, been much troubled with both had affected his appetite; and he ate out his money with the true persevering prudence of a Connaught man, who firmly determines not to be done.
He was equally diligent at breakfast; and, at last, reached Ballinasloe, at ten o’clock the morning after he had left Dublin, in a flourishing condition. From thence he travelled, by Bianconi’s car, as far as Tuam, and when there he went at once to the hotel, to get a hack car to take him home to Dunmore.
In the hotel yard he found a car already prepared for a journey; and, on giving his order for a similar vehicle for his own use, was informed, by the disinterested ostler, that the horse then being harnessed, was to take Mr Daly, the attorney, to Tuam, and that probably that gentleman would not object to join him, Martin, in the conveyance. Martin, thinking it preferable to pay fourpence rather than sixpence a mile for his jaunt, acquiesced in this arrangement, and, as he had a sort of speaking acquaintance with Mr Daly, whom he rightly imagined would not despise the economy which actuated himself, he had his carpet-bag put into the well of the car, and, placing himself on it, he proceeded to the attorney’s door.
He soon made the necessary explanation to Mr Daly, who made no objection to the proposal; and he also throwing a somewhat diminutive carpet-bag into the same well, placed himself alongside of our friend, and they proceeded on their journey, with the most amicable feelings towards each other.
They little guessed, either the one or the other, as they commenced talking on the now all-absorbing subject of the great trial, that they were going to Dunmore for the express object though not with the expressed purpose, of opposing each other that Daly was to be employed to suggest any legal means for robbing Martin of a wife, and Anty of her property; and that Martin was going home with the fixed determination of effecting a wedding, to prevent which his companion was, in consideration of liberal payment, to use all his ingenuity and energy.
When they had discussed O’Connel and his companions, and their chances of liberation for four or five miles, and when Martin had warmly expressed his assurance that no jury could convict the saviours of their country, and Daly had given utterance to his legal opinion that saltpetre couldn’t save them from two years in Newgate, Martin asked his companion whether he was going beyond Dunmore that night?
‘No, indeed, then,’ replied Daly; ‘I have a client there now a thing I never had in that part of the country before yesterday.’
‘We’ll have you at the inn, then, I suppose, Mr Daly?’
‘Faith, you won’t, for I shall dine on velvet. My new client is one of the right sort, that can feed as well as fee a lawyer. I’ve got my dinner, and bed tonight, whatever else I may get.’
‘There’s not many of that sort in Dunmore thin; any way, there weren’t when I left it, a week since. Whose house are you going to, Mr Daly, av’ it’s not impertinent asking?’
‘Barry Lynch’s!’ re-echoed Martin; ‘the divil you are! I wonder what’s in the wind with him now. I thought Blake always did his business?’
‘The devil a know I know, so I can’t tell you; and if I did, I shouldn’t, you may be sure. But a man that’s just come to his property always wants a lawyer; and many a one, besides Barry Lynch, ain’t satisfied without two.’
‘Well, any way, I wish you joy of your new client. I’m not over fond of him myself, I’ll own; but then there were always rasons why he and I shouldn’t pull well together. Barry’s always been a dale too high for me, since he was at school with the young lord. Well, good evening, Mr Daly. Never mind time car coming down the street, as you’re at your friend’s gate,’ and Martin took his bag on his arm, and walked down to the inn.
Though Martin couldn’t guess, as he walked quickly down the street, what Barry Lynch could want with young Daly, who was beginning to be known as a clever, though not over-scrupulous practitioner, he felt a presentiment that it must have some reference to Anty and himself, and this made him rather uncomfortable. Could Barry have heard of his engagement? Had Anty repented of her bargain, during his short absence? Had that old reptile Moylan, played him false, and spoilt his game? ‘That must be it,’ said Martin to himself, ‘and it’s odd but I’ll be even with the schamer, yet; only she’s so asy frightened! Av’ she’d the laist pluck in life, it’s little I’d care for Moylan or Barry either.’
This little soliloquy brought him to the inn door. Some of the tribe of loungers who were always hanging about the door, and whom in her hatred of idleness the widow would one day rout from the place, and, in her charity, feed the next, had seen Martin coming down the street, and had given intelligence in the kitchen. As he walked in, therefore, at the open door, Meg and Jane were ready to receive him in the passage. Their looks were big with some important news. Martin soon saw that they had something to tell.
‘Well, girls,’ he said, as he chucked his bag and coat to Sally, ‘for heaven’s sake get me something to ate, for I’m starved. What’s the news at Dunmore?’
‘It’s you should have the news thin,’ said one, ‘and you just from Dublin.’
‘There’s lots of news there, then; I’ll tell you when I’ve got my dinner. How’s the ould lady?’ and he stepped on, as if to pass by them, upstairs.
‘Stop a moment, Martin,’ said Meg; ‘don’t be in a hurry; there’s some one there.’
‘Who’s there? is it a stranger?’
‘Why, then, it is, and it isn’t,’ said Jane.
‘But you don’t ask afther the young lady!’ said her sister.
‘May I be hanged thin, av’ I know what the two of ye are afther! Is there people in both the rooms? Come, girls, av’ ye’ve anything to tell, why don’t you out wid it and have done? I suppose I can go into the bed-room, at any rate?’
‘Aisy, Martin, and I’ll tell you. Anty’s in the parlour.’
‘In the parlour upstairs?’ said he; ‘the deuce she is! And what brought her here? Did she quarrel with Barry, Meg?’ added he, in a whisper.
‘Indeed she did, out and out,’ said Meg.
‘Oh, he used her horrible!’ said Jane.
‘He’ll hear all about that by and by,’ said Meg. ‘Come up and see her now, Martin.’
‘But does mother know she’s here?’
‘Why, it was she brought her here! She fetched her down from the house, yesterday, before we was up.’
Thus assured that Anty had not been smuggled upstairs, her lover, or suitor as he might perhaps be more confidently called, proceeded to visit her. If he wished her to believe that his first impulse, on hearing of her being in the house, had been to throw himself at her feet, it would have been well that this conversation should have been carried on out of her hearing. But Anty was not an exigent mistress, and was perfectly contented that as much of her recent history as possible should be explained before Martin presented himself.
Martin went slowly upstairs, and paused a moment at the door, as if he was a little afraid of commencing the interview; he looked round to his sisters, and made a sign to them to come in with him, and then, quickly pushing open the unfastened door, walked briskly up to Anty and shook hands with her.
‘I hope you’re very well, Anty,’ said he; ‘seeing you here is what I didn’t expect, but I’m very glad you’ve come down.’
‘Thank ye, Martin,’ replied she; ‘it was very good of your mother, fetching me. She’s been the best friend I’ve had many a day.’
‘Begad, it’s a fine thing to see you and the ould lady pull so well together. It was yesterday you came here?’
‘Yesterday morning. I was so glad to come! I don’t know what they’d been saying to Barry; but the night before last he got drinking, and then he was very bad to me, and tried to frighten me, and so, you see, I come down to your mother till we could be friends again.’
Anty’s apology for being at the inn, was perhaps unnecessary; but, with the feeling so natural to a woman, she was half afraid that Martin would fancy she had run after him, and she therefore thought it as well to tell him that it was only a temporary measure. Poor Anty! At the moment she said so, she trembled at the very idea of putting herself again in her brother’s power.
‘Frinds, indeed!’ said Meg; ‘how can you iver be frinds with the like of him? What nonsense you talk, Anty! Why, Marti, he was like to murdher her! he raised his fist to her, and knocked her down and, afther that, swore to her he’d kill her outright av’ she wouldn’t sware that she’d niver ’
‘Whist, Meg! How can you go on that way?’ said Anty, interrupting her, and blushing. ‘I’ll not stop in the room; don’t you know he was dhrunk when he done all that?’
‘And won’t he be dhrunk again, Anty?’ suggested Jane.
‘Shure he will: he’ll be dhrunk always, now he’s once begun,’ replied Meg, who, of all the family was the most anxious to push her brother’s suit; and who, though really fond of her friend, thought the present opportunity a great deal too good to be thrown away, and could not bear the idea of Anty’s even thinking of being reconciled to her brother. ‘Won’t he be always dhrurik now?’ she continued; ‘and ain’t we all frinds here? and why shouldn’t you let me tell Martin all? Afther all’s said and done, isn’t he the best frind you’ve got?’ Here Anty blushed very red, and to tell the truth, so did Martin too ‘well so he is, and unless you tell him what’s happened, how’s he to know what to advise; and, to tell the truth, wouldn’t you sooner do what he says than any one else?’
‘I’m sure I’m very much obliged to Mr Martin’ it had been plain Martin before Meg’s appeal; ‘but your mother knows what’s best for me, and I’ll do whatever she says. Av’ it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know where I’d be now.’
‘But you needn’t quarrel with Martin because you’re frinds with mother,’ answered Meg.
‘Nonsense, Meg,’ said Jane, ‘Anty’s not going to quarrel with him. You hurry her too much.’
Martin looked rather stupid all this time, but he plucked up courage and said, ‘Who’s going to quarrel? I’m shure, Anty, you and I won’t; but, whatever it is Barry did to you, I hope you won’t go back there again, now you’re once here. But did he railly sthrike you in arnest?’
‘He did, add knocked her down,’ said Jane.
‘But won’t you get your brother his dinner?’ said Anty; ‘he must be very hungry, afther his ride and won’t you see your mother afther your journey, Mr Martin? I’m shure she’s expecting you.’
This, for the present, put an end to the conversation; the girls went to get something for their brother to eat, and he descended into the lower regions to pay his filial respects to his mother.
A considerable time passed before Martin returned to the meal the three young women had provided for him, during which he was in close consultation with the widow. In the first place, she began upbraiding him for his folly in wishing to marry an old maid for her money; she then taxed him with villany, for trying to cheat Anty out of her property; and when he defended himself from that charge by telling her what he had done about the settlement, she asked him how much he had to pay the rogue of a lawyer for that ‘gander’s job’. She then proceeded to point out all the difficulties which lay in the way of a marriage between him, Martin, and her, Anty; and showed how mad it was for either of them to think about it. From that, she got into a narrative of Barry’s conduct, and Anty’s sufferings, neither of which lost anything in the telling; and having by this time gossiped herself into a good humour, she proceeded to show how, through her means and assistance, the marriage might take place if he was still bent upon it. She eschewed all running away, and would hear of no clandestine proceedings. They should be married in the face of day, as the Kellys ought, with all their friends round them. ‘They’d have no huggery-muggery work, up in a corner; not they indeed! why should they? for fear of Barry Lynch? who cared for a dhrunken blackguard like that? not she indeed! who ever heard of a Kelly being afraid of a Lynch? They’d ax him to come and see his sister married, and av’ he didn’t like it, he might do the other thing.’
And so, the widow got quite eloquent on the glories of the wedding, and the enormities of her son’s future brother-in1aw, who had, she assured Martin, come down and abused her horribly, in her own shop, before all the town, because she allowed Anty to stay in the house. She then proceeded to the consequences of the marriage, and expressed her hope that when Martin got all that ready money he would ‘do something for his poor sisthers for Heaven knew they war like to be bad enough off, for all she’d be able to do for them!’ From this she got to Martin’s own future mode of life, suggesting a ‘small snug cottage on the farm, just big enough for them two, and, maybe, a slip of a girl servant, and not to be taring and tatthering away, as av’ money had no eend; and, afther all,’ she added, ‘there war nothing like industhry; and who know’d whether that born villain, Barry, mightn’t yet get sich a hoult of the money, that there’d be no getting it out of his fist?’ and she then depicted, in most pathetic language, what would be the misery of herself and all the Kellys if Martin, flushed with his prosperity, were to give up the farm at Toneroe, and afterwards find that he had been robbed of his expected property, and that he had no support for himself and his young bride.
On this subject Martin considerably comforted her by assuring her that he had no thoughts of abandoning Toneroe, although he did not go so far as to acquiesce in the very small cottage; and he moreover expressed his thorough confidence that he would neither be led himself, nor lead Anty, into the imprudence of a marriage, until he had well satisfied himself that the property was safe.
The widow was well pleased to find, from Martin’s prudent resolves, that he was her own son, and that she needn’t blush for him; and then they parted, she to her shop, and he to his dinner: not however, before he had promised her to give up all ideas of a clandestine marriage, and to permit himself to be united to his wife in the face of day, as became a Kelly.
The evening passed over quietly and snugly at the inn. Martin had not much difficulty in persuading his three companions to take a glass of punch each out of his tumbler, and less in getting them to take a second, and, before they went to bed, he and Anty were again intimate. And, as he was sitting next her for a couple of hours on the little sofa opposite the fire, it is more than probable that he got his arm round her waist a comfortable position, which seemed in no way to shock the decorum of either Meg or Jane.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01