How Myles Murphy Is Heard on Behalf of His Ponies
"A boy wanting to speak to me?" said Miss Chute. "Has he got letters?—Let him send up his message."
"He says he must see yourself, Miss. 'Tis in regard of some ponies of his that were impounded by Mr. Dawley for trespassing above here, last night. He hasn't the mains of relasing 'em, poor cratur, an' he's far from home. I'm sure he's an honest boy. He says he'd have a good friend in Mr. Cregan if he knew he was below."
"Me?" said Mr. Cregan—"why what's the fellow's name?"
"Myles Murphy, sir, from Killarney, westwards."
"Oh, Myles-na-Coppulleen?—Poor fellow, is he in tribulation? We must have his ponies out by all means."
"It requires more courage than I can always command" said Miss Chute "to revoke any command of Dawley's. He is an old man, and, whether that he was crossed in love, or from a natural peevishness of disposition, he is such a morose creature, that I am quite afraid of him. But I will hear this Myles at all events."
She was moving to the door when her uncle's voice made her turn. "Stay, Anne," said Mr. Cregan, "let him come up. 'Twill be as good as a play to hear him and the steward pro and con. Kyrle Daly, here, who is intended for the bar, will be our assessor to decide on the points of law. I can tell you, Kyrle, that Myles will give you a lesson in the art of pleading that may be of use to you on Circuit at one time or another."
Anne laughed and looked to Mrs. Chute, who with a smile of tolerating condescension said, while she cleared with a silken kerchief the glasses of her spectacles, "If your uncle desires it, my love, I can see no objection. Those mountaineers are amusing creatures."
Anne returned to her seat, and the conversation proceeded, while Falvey with an air of great and perplexed importance went to summon Myles up stairs.
"Mountaineers!" exclaimed Captain Gibson, "You call every upland a mountain here in Ireland, and every one that lives out of sight of the sea a mountaineer." "But this fellow is a genuine mountaineer," cried Mr. Cregan "with a cabin two thousand feet above the level of the sea. If you are in the country next week, and will come down and see us at the Lakes, along with our friends here, I promise to shew you as sturdy a race of mountaineers as any in Europe. Doctor Leake can give you a history of 'em up to Noah's flood, some time when you're alone together—where the country was first peopled by one Parable, or Sparable."—
"Paralon," said Doctor Leake, Paralon or Migdonia, as the Psalter sings:
"On the fourteenth day, being Tuesday,
They brought their bold ships to anchor,
In the blue fair port with beauteous shore,
Of well defended Inver Sceine,"
"In the rest of Munster, where——"
"Yes—well, you'll see 'em all, as the Doctor says, if you come to Killarney," resumed Mr. Cregan, interrupting the latter to whose discourse, a country residence, a national turn of character, and a limited course of reading, had given a tinge of pedantry; and who was moreover a firm believer in all the ancient Shanachus, from the yellow book of Moling, to the black book of Molaga. "And if you like to listen to him, he'll explain to you every action that ever befel, on land or water, from Ross Castle up to Carriguline."
Kyrle, who felt both surprise and concern at learning that Miss Chute was leaving home so soon, and without having thought it worth her while to make him aware of her intention, was about to address her on the subject, when the clatter of a pair of heavy and well paved brogues, on the small flight of stairs in the lobby, produced a sudden hush of expectation amongst the company. They heard Pat Falvey urging some instructions, in a low and smothered tone, to which a strong and not unmusical voice replied in that complaining accent which distinguishes the dialect of the more western descendants of Heber. "A' lay me alone, you foolish boy; do you think did I ever speak to quollity in my life before?"
The door opened, and the uncommissioned master of horse made his appearance. His figure was at once strikingly majestic and prepossessing, and the natural ease and dignity with which he entered the room might almost have become a peer of the realm, coming to solicit the interest of the family for an electioneering candidate. A broad and sunny forehead, light and wavy hair, a blue cheerful eye, a nose that in Persia might have won him a throne, healthful cheeks, a mouth that was full of character, and a well knit and almost gigantic person, constituted his external claims to attention; of which his lofty and confident, although most unassuming carriage, showed him to be in some degree conscious. He wore a complete suit of brown frieze, with a gay coloured cotton handkerchief around his neck, blue worsted stockings, and brogues carefully greased, while he held in his right hand an immaculate felt hat, the purchase of the preceding day's fair. In the left he held a straight handled whip and a wooden rattle, which he used for the purpose of collecting his ponies when they happened to straggle. An involuntary murmur of admiration ran amongst the guests at his entrance. Doctor Leake was heard to pronounce him a true Gadelian, and Captain Gibson thought he would cut a splendid figure in a helmet and cuirass, under one of the arches in the horse-guards.
Before he had spoken, and while the door yet remained open, Hyland Creagh roused Pincher with a chirping noise, and gave him the well known countersign of "Baithershin!"
Pincher waddled towards the door, raised himself on his hind-legs, closed it fast, and then trotted back to his master's feet, followed by the staring and bewildered gaze of the mountaineer. "Well," he exclaimed, "that flogs cock-fighting. I never thought I'd live to have a dog taich me manners, any way. 'Baithershin!' says he. An' he shets the doore like a christian!"
The mountaineer now commenced a series of most profound obeisances to every individual of the company, beginning with the ladies, and ending with the officer. After which he remained glancing from one to another with a smile of mingled sadness and courtesy, as if waiting, like an evoked spirit, the spell word of the enchantress who had called him up.—"'Tisn't manners to speak first before quollity," was the answer he would have been prepared to render in case any one had enquired the motive of his conduct.
"Well, Myles, what wind has brought you to this part of the country?" said Mr. Barney Cregan.
"The ould wind always, then, Mr. Cregan," said Myles, with another deep obeisance, "seeing would I get a feow o' the ponies off. Long life to you, sir; I was proud to hear you wor above stairs, for it is n't the first time you stood my friend in trouble. My father, (the heavens be his bed this day!) was a fosterer o' your uncle Mick's an' a first an' second cousin, be the mother's side, to ould Mrs. O'Leary, your honour's aunt, westwards. So 'tis kind for your honour to have a leaning towards uz."
"A clear case, Myles;—but what have you to say to Mrs. Chute about the trespass?"
"What have I to say to her? why then a deal. Its a long while since I see her now, an' she wears finely, the Lord bless her! Ah, Miss Anne!—Oyeh, murther! murther! Sure I'd know that face all over the world,—your own liven' image, ma'am, (turning to Mrs. Chute,) an' a little, dawney touch o' the masther (heaven rest his soul!) about the chin you'd think. My grandmother an' himself wor third cousins. Oh, vo! vo!"*
"He has made out three relations in the company already," said Anne, to Kyrle, "could any courtier make interest more skilfully?"
"Well, Myles, about the ponies."
"Poor craturs, true for you sir. There's Mr. Creagh there, long life to him, knows how well I airn 'em, for ponies. You seen what trouble I had with'em, Mr. Creagh, the day you fought the jewel with young M'Farlane from the North. They went skelping like mad, over the hills, down to Glena, when they heerd the shots. Ah, indeed, Mr. Creagh, you cowed the North Countryman that morning fairly. 'My honour is satisfied,' says he, 'if Mr. Creagh will apologize.' 'I didn't come to the ground to apologize,' says Mr. Creagh. 'Its what I never done to any man,' says he, 'an' it'll be long from me to do it to you.' 'Well, my honour is satisfied any way,' says the other, when he heerd the pistols cocking for a second shot. I thought I'd split laughing. "
"Pooh! pooh! nonsense, man," said Creagh, endeavouring to hide a smile of gratified vanity, "your unfortunate ponies will starve, while you stay inventing wild stories.'"
"He has gained another friend since," whispered Miss Chute.
"Invent!" echoed the mountaineer. "There's Doctor Leake was on the spot the same time, an' he knows if I invent. An' you did a good job too that time, Docthor," he continued, turning to the latter, "Old Keys, the piper, gives it up to you of all the docthors going, for curing his eye-sighth. And he has a great leaning to you, moreover, your such a fine Irishman.'"*
"Another," said Miss Chute, apart.
"Yourself an' ould Mr. Daly;" he continued, "I hope the master is well in his health, sir? (turning to Kyrle with another profound congé) may the Lord fasten the life in you an' him! That's a gentleman that would n't see a poor boy in want of his supper, or a bed to sleep in, an' he far from his own people, nor persecute him in regard of a little trespass that was done unknownst."
"This fellow is irresistible," said Kyrle. "A perfect Ulysses."
"And have you nothing to say to the Captain, Myles? Is he no relation of yours?"
"The Captain, Mr. Cregan? Except in so far as we are all servants of the Almighty, and children of Adam, I know of none. But I have a feeling for the red coat, for all. I have three brothers in the army, serving in America. One of 'em was made a corporal, or an admiral, or some ral or another, for behavin' well at Quaybec, the time of Woulf"s death. The English showed themselves a great people that day, surely."
Having thus secured to himself what lawyers call "the ear of the court," the mountaineer proceeded to plead the cause of his ponies with much force and pathos, dwelling on their distance from home, their wild habits of life, which left them ignorant of the common rules of boundaries, enclosures, and field-gates, setting forth with equal emphasis, the length of road they had travelled, their hungry condition, and the barrenness of the common on which they had been turned out; and finally urging in mitigation of penalty, the circumstance of this being a first offence, and the improbability of its being ever renewed in future.
The surly old steward, Dan Dawley, was accordingly summoned for the purpose of ordering the discharge of the prisoners, a commission which he received with a face as black as winter. Miss Anne might "folly her liking" he said—but it was the last time he'd ever trouble himself about damage or trespass any more. What affair was it of his, if all the horses in the barony were turned loose into the kitchen garden itself?
"Horses, do you call 'em?" exclaimed Myles, bending on the old man a frown of dark remonstrance—"A parcel of little ponies not the heighth o' that chair."
"What signify is it?" snarled the steward—"they'd eat as much, an' more, than a racer.
"Is it they, the craturs? They'd hardly injure a plate o' stirabout if it was put before em.
"An' tisn"t what I'd expect from you Mr. Dawley, to be going again, a relation o' your own in this manner.
"A relation o' mine!" growled Dawley, scarcely deigning to cast a glance back over his shoulder as he hobbled out of the room.
"Yes, then, o' yours."
Dawley paused at the door and looked back.
"Will you deny it o' me, if you can," continued Myles, fixing his eye on him, "that Biddy Nale, your own gossip, an' Larry Foley wor second cousins? Deny that o' me, if you can!"
"For what would I deny it?"
"Well, why! An' Larry Foley was uncle to my father's first wife—(the angels spread her bed this night!) An' I tell you another thing, the Dawleys would cut a poor figure in many a fair westwards, if they hadn't the Murphys to back 'em, so they would. But what hurt? Sure you can folly your own pleasure."
The old steward muttered something which nobody could hear, and left the room. Myles of the ponies, after many profound bows to all his relations, and a profusion of thanks to the ladies, followed him, and was observed in a few minutes after on the avenue talking with much earnestness and apparent agitation to Lowry Looby. Kyrle Daly, who remembered the story of the mountaineer's misfortune at Owen's garden, concluded that Lowry was making him aware of the abduction of the beautiful Eily, and felt a pang of sympathetic affliction for the poor fellow, in which, probably, no one else in the room would have participated; at least, not altogether so deeply.
* Equivalent to the French Helas! the Italian Oime! and the Spanish Ay de mi! & c.
* One skilled in Irish antiquities, language, & c.