Imagens das páginas

body as that of a gentleman well known in the country. But even after the coroner's inquest was summoned, there was no light thrown upon his fate, until my drunken landlord was brought before the jury. His own testimony would have gone for little ; but he produced a docu. ment which in a few words told the whole story. It was a note left with him the evening before by Mr. — to be handed to me as soon as I should arrive at the inn. In it the stranger briefly thanked me for the slight courtesy rendered him at the blacksmith's, and mentioning that, notwithstanding all precaution, his horse had fallen dead lame, and he should be obliged to pass the night at Wolfswald, he would still further trespass on my kindness, by begging to occupy the same apartment with me. It stated that, owing to some organic affection of his system, he had long been subject to a species of somnambulism, re. sembling the most grievous fits of nightmare, during which, however, he still preserved sufficient power of volition to move to the bed of his servant, who, being used to his attacks, would of course take the neces. sary means to alleviate them. The note concluded by saying that the writer had less diffidence in preferring his request to be my room-mate, inasmuch, as, owing to the crowded state of the house, I was suje of not having a chamber to myself in any event.

The reason why the ill-fated gentleman had been so urgent to press homeward was now but too apparent; and my indignation at the drunken inn-keeper, in neglecting to hand me his note, knew no bounds.

Alas! in the years that have since gone by, there has been more than one moment when the reproaches which I then lavished upon him have come home to myself; for the piteously appealing look of the dying man long haunted me, and I sometimes still hear his moan in the autumnal blast that wails around my casement.





BEAUTY thou never hast beheld, unless
Thou 'st seen it touched by sorrow and distress;

This, this is beauty.
Nor ever hast thou joy beheld, I ween,
Except on beauty's radiant brow 'twas seen;

Joy dwells with beauty.
Thus grief, by beauty's power is lovely made,
And joy is joyless without beauty's aid;

All hail to beauty!

W. M, D.






SECRET,” &c.

Never let it be said the days of chivalry are fled! heralds may have ceased to record good blows stricken, to the tune of “ a largesse, worthie knights”-pennon and banner, square and swallow-tailed sleeve and scarf, with all the trumpery of chivalry, are long since dead, 'tis true; but the lofty, generous feeling with which that term has become identified, is yet burning clear and bright within ten thousand bosoms, not one of which ever throbbed at the recollections the word itself inspires in “ gentil heartes,” or could tell the difference between Or and Gules, or Vert and Sable, as the following narration of a combat between two “ churles," or villains," as the herald would term my worthies, will, I trust, go nigh to prove.

It was the fair night at Donard, a small village in the very heart of the mountains of Wicklow, when, at the turn of a corner leading out of the Dunlavin road, towards the middle of the fair, two ancient foemen abruptly encountered. They eyed one another for a moment without moving a step, when the youngest, a huge six-foot moun. taineer, in a long top-coat, having his shirt opened from breast to ear, displaying, on the least movement, a brawny chest that was hairy enough for a trunk, growing rather impatient, said in a quick under-tone, that a listener would have set down for the extreme of politeness,

“ You 'll lave the wall, Johnny Evans !"
To which civil request came reply, in a tone equally bland,

“ Not at your biddin', if you stand where you are till next fairday, Mat Dolan."

“ You know well I could fing you neck and heels into that gutter in one minute, Johnny, ma bouchil.”

“ You might, indeed, if you called up twenty of the Dunlavin faction at your back," coolly replied Evans.

“ I mane , here's the two empty hands could do all that, and never ax help ather,” retorted Dolan, thrusting forth two huge paws from under his coat.

“ In the name o’heaven, then, thry it !” said Evans, Alinging the alpeen* he had up to this time been balancing curiously over the roof of the cottage by which they stood, adding, “ Here's a pair of fists with as little in thim as your own !"

" It 's aisy to brag by your own barn, Johnny Evans," said Dolan, pointing with a sneer to the police guard-house on the opposite side of the way, a hundred yards lower down ; “ the peelers would be likely to look on and see a black orangeman like yourself quilted in his own town under their noses, by one Mat Dolan, from Dunlavin all the way!”

“ There's raison in that, any way, Matty," replied John, glancing in the direction indicated. “ It's not likely thim that's paid by governinent to keep the peace would stand by and see it broke by Papist or Protestant. But I'll make a bargain wid you : if your

Little stick.


blood's over hot for your skin, which I think, to say truth, it has long been,-come off at onest to Hell-kettle wid me, and in the light of this blessed moon I 'll fight it out with you, toe to toe ; and we 'll both be the aisier after, whichever's bate."

“ There's my hand to that at a word, Johnny,” cried Dolan, suiting the action to the word, and the hands of the foes clasped freely and frankly together.

“ But are we to be only ourselves, do ye mane ?” inquired Matthew.

“ And enuff too,” answered Evans ; we couldn't pick a friend out of any tint above, without raisin’a hullabaloo the divil wouldn't quiet without blows. Here, now, I'll give you the wall ; only you jump the hedge into Charles Faucett's meadow, and cut across the hill by Holy well into the road, where you'll meet me ; divil a soul else will you meet that way to-night ; and I want to call at home for the tools.”

“ Keep the wall,” cried Dolan, as Evans stepped aside, springing himself at the same time into the road, ankle-deep in mud ; " I'll wait for you at the bridge on the Holy-wood glin road. Good b'ye.”

A moment after, Dolan had cleared the hedge leading out of the lane into Mr. Faucett's paddock, and Evans was quietly plodding his

way homeward. To reach his cottage, he had run the gauntlet through the very throng of the fair, amidst crowded tents, whence resounded the ill-according sounds of the bagpipe and fiddle, and the loud whoo ! of the jig-dancers, as they beat with active feet the temporary floor, that rattled with their tread. Johnny made short greeting with those of his friends he encountered, and, on entering his house, plucked a couple of black, business-like looking sticks from the chimney, hefted them carefully, and measured them together with an eye as strict as ever gallant paired rapier with, till, satisfied of their equality, he put his top.coat over his shoulders, and departing by the back-door, rapidly cleared two or three small gardens, and made at once for the fields. As Dolan dropped from the high bank into the lane near the bridge on one side, Evans leaped the gate opposite.

" You've lost no time, fegs !" observed Matthew, as they drew together shoulder to shoulder, stalking rapidly on.

" I'd bin vexed to keep you waitin' this time, any how," replied Johnny; and few others words passed.

Just beyond the bridge they left the road together, and mounting the course of the little stream, in a few minutes were shut out from the possibility of observance in a wild narrow glen, at whose head was a waterfall of some eighteen fect. The pool which received this little cascade was exceedingly deep, and having but one narrow outlet between two huge stones, the pent waters were forced round and round, boiling and chafing for release ; and hence the not unpoetic name of Hell-kettle given to the spot. The ground immediately about it was wild, bare and stony, and in no way derogated from this fearful title.

Near the fall is a little plafond or level of some twenty yards square, the place designed by Evans for the battle-ground. Arrived here, the parties halted ; and as Dolan stooped to raise a little of the pure stream in his hand to his lips, Evans cast his coats and vest on the grey stone close by, and pulling his shirt over his head, stood

[ocr errors]

armed for the fight, not so heavy or so tall a man as his antagonist Dolan, but wiry as a terrier, and having, in agility and training, advantages that more than balanced the difference of weight and age.

" I've been thinkin', Johnny Evans,” cried Dolan, as he leisurely stripped in turn,“ we must have two thrys, after all, to show who's the best man. You've got your alpeens wid you, I see, and I'm not the boy to say no to thim; but I expect you'll ha' the best ind o' the stick, for it's well known there's not your match in Wicklow, if there is in Wexford itself.”

* That day's past, Matty Dolan,” replied Evans. “ It's five years since you and me first had words at the Pattern o'the Seven-churches, and that was the last stroke I struck with a stick. There's eight years betune our ages, and you're the heavier man by two stone, or near itwhat more 'ud yez have, man alive ?

“Oh, never fear me, Johnny; we'll never split about trifles," quietly replied Dolan; “ but, see here, let's dress one another, as they do potatoes both ways. Stand fairly up to me for half a dozen rounds, fist to fist, and I'll hould the alpeen till you're tired after id."

“Why, look ye here, Matty, you worked over long on George's Quay, and were over friendly with the great boxer, Mister Donalan, for me to be able for yez wid the fists,” cried Evans. “ But we'll split the difference: I'll give you a quarter of an hour out o' me wid the fists, and you'll give me the same time, if I'm able, with the alpeen after; and we'll toss head or harp, which comes first.”

Evans turned a copper flat on the back of his hand as he ended his proposal, and in the same moment Dolan cried, “Harp for ever.”

Harp it is,” echoed Evans, holding the coin up in the moon's ray, which shone out but fitfully, as dark clouds kept slowly passing over her cold face.

In the next moment they were toe to toe in the centre of the little plain, both looking determined and confident; though an amateur would have at once decided in favour of Dolan's pose.

To describe the fight scientifically would be too long an affair; suffice it, that although Johnny's agility gave him the best of a couple of severe falls, yet his antagonist's straight hitting and superior weight left him the thing hollow, till five quick rounds left Evans deaf to time and tune, and as sick as though he had swallowed a glass of antimonial wine instead of poteen.

Dolan carried his senseless foe to the pool, and dashed water over him by the hatfull.

“ Look at my watch,” was Johnny's first word, on gaining breath. “ I can't tell the time by watch,” cried Dolan, a little sheepish.

“ Give it here, man,” cried Johnny, adding, as he rubbed his left eye, the other being fast closed; "by the Boyne, this is the longest quarter of an hour I ever knew-it wants three minutes yet !” and as he spoke, again he rose up before his man.

“Sit still, Johnny,” exclaimed Matthew ; "I'll forgive you the three minutes, anyhow."

“ Well, thank ye for that,” says Johnny; “I wish I may be able to return the compliment presently; but, by St. Donagh, I've mighty little concait left in myself just now.”

[ocr errors]

Within five minutes, armed with the well-seasoned twigs Johnny had brought with him, those honest fellows again stood front to front; and although Evans had lost much of the elasticity of car. riage which had ever been his characteristic when the alpeen was in his hand and the shamrock under his foot in times past; althoug his left eye was closed, and the whole of that side of his physiognomy was swollen and disfigured through the mauling he had received at the hands of Dolan, who opposed him, to all appearance, fresh as at first ; yet was his confidence in himself unshaken, and in the twinkle of his right eye a close observer might have read a sure anticipation of the victory a contest of five minutes gave to him ; for it was full that time before Johnny struck a good-will blow, and when it took effect a second was uncalled for. The point of the stick had caught Dolan fairly on the right temple, and laying open the whole of the face down to the chin, as if done by a sabre stroke, felled him senseless.

After some attempts at recalling his antagonist to perception by the brook-side without success, Evans began to feel a little alarmed for his life, and hoisting him on his back, retraced his steps to the village, with. out ever halting by the way, and bore his insensible burthen into the first house he came to, where, as the devil would have it, a sister of Dolan's was sitting, having a goster with the owner, one widow Dono. van, over a “rakin pot o'tay."

“ God save all here,” said Johnny, crossing the floor without cere. mony, and depositing Mat on the widow's bed. “ Wid'y, by your lave let Mat Dolan lie quiet here a bit, till I run down town for the doctor."

“ Dolan!” screamed the sister and the widow in a breath : “ Mat -is it Mat Dolan that's lying a corpse here, and I his own sister not to know he was in trouble !"

Loud and long were the lamentations that followed this unlucky discovery. The sister rushed franticly out to the middle of the road, screaming and calling on the friends of Dolan to revenge his murder on Evans and the orangemen that had decoyed and slain him. The words passed from lip to lip, soon reaching down to the heart of the fair, where most of the parties were about this time corned for anything.

Johnny Evans,” cried the widow Donovan, as he made in few words the story known to her, “true or not, this is no place for you now; the whole of his faction will be up here in a minute, and you'll be killed like a dog on the flure. Out wid you, and down to the guardhouse, while the coast's clear!"

“I'd best, maybe, cried Evans ; " and I'll send the doctor up the quicker ; but mind, widow, if that boy ever spakes, he'll say a fairer fight was never fought. Get that out of him, for the love o' Heaven, Mrs. Donovan !"

“ He hasn't a word in him, I fear,” cried the widow, as Johnny left the door, and with the readiness of her sex, assisted by one or two elderly gossips, who were by this time called in, she bathed the wound with spirits, and used every device which much experience in cracked crowns, acquired during the life time of Willy Donovan, her departed lord, suggested to her. Meantime, Evans, whilst making his way down through the village, had been met, and recognised by the half frantic sister of Dolan, and her infuriated friends

« AnteriorContinuar »