Barny O'Reirdon the Navigator by Samuel Lover
ARNY O'REIRDON was a fisherman of Kinsale, and a heartier fellow never
hauled a net nor cast a line into deep water: indeed Barny,
independently of being a merry boy among his companions, a lover of good
fun and good whiskey, was looked up to, rather, by his brother
fishermen, as an intelligent fellow, and few boats brought more fish to
market than Barny O'Reirdon's; his opinion on certain points in the
craft was considered law, and in short, in his own little community,
Barny was what is commonly called a leading man. Now your leading man is
always jealous in an inverse ratio to the sphere of his influence, and
the leader of a nation is less incensed at a rival's triumph than the
great man of a village. If we pursue this descending scale, what a
desperately jealous person the oracle of oyster-dredges and cockle-women
must be! Such was Barny O'Reirdon.
Seated one night at a public house, the common resort of Barny and other
marine curiosities, our hero got entangled in debate with what he called
a strange sail,—that is to say, a man he had never met before, and whom
he was inclined to treat rather magisterially upon nautical subjects; at
the same time the stranger was equally inclined to assume the high hand
over him, till at last the new-comer made a regular outbreak by
exclaiming, "Ah, tare-and-ouns, lave aff your balderdash, Mr. O'Reirdon,
by the powdhers o' war it's enough, so it is, to make a dog bate his
father, to hear you goin' an as if you war Curlumberus or Sir Crustyphiz
Wran, when ivery one knows the divil a farther you iver war nor ketchin
crabs or drudgen oysters."
"Who towld you that, my Watherford Wondher?" rejoined Barny; "what the
dickens do you know about sayfarin' farther nor fishin' for sprats in a
bowl wid your grandmother?"
"O, baithershin," says the stranger.
"And who made you so bowld with my name?" demanded O'Reirdon.
"No matther for that," said the stranger; "but if you'd like for to
know, shure it's your own cousin Molly Mullins knows me well, and maybe
I don't know you and yours as well as the mother that bore you, aye, in
throth; and sure I know the very thoughts o' you as well as if I was
inside o' you, Barny O'Reirdon."
"By my sowl thin, you know betther thoughts than your own, Mr.
Whippersnapper, if that's the name you go by."
"No, it's not the name I go by; I've as good a name as your own, Mr.
O'Reirdon, for want of a betther, and that's O'Sullivan."
"Throth there's more than there's good o' them," said Barny.
"Good or bad, I'm a cousin o' your own twice removed by the mother's
"And is it the Widda O'Sullivan's boy you'd be that left this come
Candlemas four years?"
"Throth thin you might know better manners to your eldhers, though I'm
glad to see you, anyhow, agin; but a little thravellin' puts us beyant
ourselves sometimes," said Barny, rather contemptuously.
"Throth I nivir bragged out o' myself yit, and it's what I say, that a
man that's only fishin' aff the land all his life has no business to
compare in the regard o' thracthericks wid a man that has sailed to
This silenced any further argument on Barny's part. Where Fingal lay was
all Greek to him; but, unwilling to admit his ignorance, he covered his
retreat with the usual address of his countrymen, and turned the
bitterness of debate into the cordial flow of congratulation at seeing
his cousin again.
The liquor was frequently circulated, and the conversation began to take
a different turn, in order to lead from that which had very nearly ended
in a quarrel between O'Reirdon and his relation.
The state of the crops, county cess, road jobs, etc., became topics, and
various strictures as to the utility of the latter were indulged in,
while the merits of the neighboring farmers were canvassed.
"Why thin," said one, "that field o' whate o' Michael Coghlan is the
finest field o' whate mortial eyes was ever set upon,—divil the likes
iv it myself ever seen far or near."
"Throth thin sure enough," said another, "it promises to be a fine crap
anyhow, and myself can't help thinkin' it quare that Mikee Coghlan,
that's a plain-spoken, quite (quiet) man, and simple like, should have
finer craps than Pether Kelly o' the big farm beyant, that knows all
about the great saycrets o' the airth, and is knowledgeable to a degree,
and has all the hard words that iver was coined at his fingers' ends."
"Faith, he has a power o' blasthogue about him sure enough," said the
former speaker, "if that could do him any good, but he isn't fit to
hould a candle to Michael Coghlan in the regard o' farmin'."
"Why blur and agers," rejoined the upholder of science, "sure he met the
Scotch steward that the lord beyant has, one day, that I hear is a
wondherful edicated man, and was brought over here to show us all a
patthern,—well, Pether Kelly met him one day, and, by gor, he
discoorsed him to a degree that the Scotch chap hadn't a word left in
"Well, and what was he the betther o' having more prate than a
Scotchman?" asked the other.
"Why," answered Kelly's friend, "I think it stands to rayson that the
man that done out the Scotch steward ought to know somethin' more about
farmin' than Mikee Coghlan."
"Augh! don't talk to me about knowing," said the other, rather
contemptuously. "Sure I gev in to you that he has a power o' prate, and
the gift o' the gab, and all to that. I own to you that he has
the-o-ry, and che-mis-thery, but he hasn't the craps. Now, the man
that has the craps is the man for my money."
"You're right, my boy," said O'Reirdon, with an approving thump of his
brawny fist upon the table, "it's a little talk goes far,—doin' is
"Ah, yiz may run down larnin' if yiz like," said the undismayed stickler
for theory versus practice, "but larnin' is a fine thing, and sure where
would the world be at all only for it, sure where would the staymers
(steamboats) be, only for larnin'?"
"Well," said O'Reirdon, "and the divil may care if we never seen them;
I'd rather depind an wind and canvas any day than the likes o' them!
What are they good for, but to turn good sailors into kitchen-maids,
bilin' a big pot o' wather and oilin' their fire-irons, and throwin'
coals an the fire? Augh? thim staymers is a disgrace to the say; they're
for all the world like old fogies, smokin' from mornin' till night and
doin' no good."
"Do you call it doin' no good to go fasther nor ships iver wint before?"
"Pooh; sure Solomon, queen o' Sheba, said there was time enough for all
"Thrue for you," said O'Sullivan, "fair and aisy goes far in a day, is
a good ould sayin'."
"Well, maybe you'll own to the improvement they're makin' in the harbor
o' Howth, beyant, in Dublin, is some good."
"We'll see whether it'll be an improvement first," said the obdurate
"Why, man alive, sure you'll own it's the greatest o' good it is,
takin' up the big rocks out o' the bottom o' the harbor."
"Well, an' where's the wondher o' that? sure we done the same here."
"O yis, but it was whin the tide was out and the rocks was bare; but up
at Howth, they cut away the big rocks from undher the say intirely."
"O, be aisy; why how could they do that?"
"Aye, there's the matther, that's what larnin' can do; and wondherful it
is intirely! and the way it is, is this, as I hear it, for I never seen
it, but heerd it described by the lord to some gintlemin and ladies one
day in his garden where I was helpin' the gardener to land some salary
(celery). You see the ingineer goes down undher the wather intirely, and
can stay there as long as he plazes."
"Whoo! and what o' that? Sure I heered the long sailor say, that come
from the Aystern Injees, that the ingineers there can a'most live under
wather; and goes down looking for diamonds, and has a sledge-hammer in
their hand, brakin' the diamonds when they're too big to take them up
whole, all as one as men brakin' stones an the road."
"Well, I don't want to go beyant that; but the way the lord's ingineer
goes down is, he has a little bell wid him, and while he has that little
bell to ring, hurt nor harm can't come to him."
"Arrah be aisy."
"Divil a lie in it."
"Maybe it's a blissed bell," said O'Reirdon, crossing himself.
"No, it is not a blissed bell."
"Why thin now do you think me sich a born nathral as to give in to that?
as if the ringin' iv the bell, barrin' it was a blissed bell, could do
the like. I tell you it's unpossible."
"Ah, nothin' 's unpossible to God."
"Sure I wasn't denyin' that; but I say the bell is unpossible."
"Why," said O'Sullivan, "you see he's not altogether complete in the
demonstheration o' the mashine; it is not by the ringin' o' the bell it
is done, but—"
"But what?" broke in O'Reirdon impatiently. "Do you mane for to say
there is a bell in it at all at all?"
"Yis, I do," said O'Sullivan.
"I towld you so," said the promulgator of the story.
"Aye," said O'Sullivan, "but it is not by the ringin' iv the bell it is
"Well, how is it done then?" said the other, with a half-offended,
"It is done," said O'Sullivan, as he returned the look with
interest,—"it is done entirely by jommethry."
"Oh! I understan' it now," said O'Reirdon, with an inimitable
affectation of comprehension in the Oh!—"but to talk of the ringin' iv
a bell doin' the like is beyant the beyants intirely, barrin', as I said
before, it was a blissed bell, glory be to God!"
"And so you tell me, sir, it is jommethry," said the twice-discomfited
man of science.
"Yis, sir," said O'Sullivan with an air of triumph, which rose in
proportion as he carried the listeners along with him,—"jommethry."
"Well, have it your own way. There's them that won't hear rayson
sometimes, nor have belief in larnin'; and you may say it's jommethry if
you plaze; but I heerd them that knows betther than iver you knew say—"
"Whisht, whisht! and bad cess to you both," said O'Reirdon, "what the
dickens are yiz goin' to fight about now, and sich good liquor before
yiz? Hillo! there, Mrs. Quigley, bring uz another quart i' you plaze;
aye, that's the chat, another quart. Augh! yiz may talk till yo're black
in the face about your invintions, and your staymers, and bell ringin'
and gash, and railroads; but here's long life and success to the man
that invinted the impairil (imperial) quart; that was the rail beautiful
invintion." And he took a long pull at the replenished vessel, which
strongly indicated that the increase of its dimensions was a very
agreeable measure to such as Barny.
After the introduction of this and other quarts, it would not be an
easy matter to pursue the conversation that followed. Let us, therefore,
transfer our story to the succeeding morning, when Barny O'Reirdon
strolled forth from his cottage, rather later than usual, with his eyes
bearing eye witness to the carouse of the preceding night. He had not
a headache, however; whether it was that Barny was too experienced a
campaigner under the banners of Bacchus, or that Mrs. Quigley's boast
was a just one, namely, "that of all the drink in her house, there
wasn't a headache in a hogshead of it," is hard to determine, but I
rather incline to the strength of Barny's head.
Barny sauntered about in the sun, at which he often looked up, under the
shelter of compressed bushy brows and long-lashed eyelids, and a
shadowing hand across his forehead, to see "what o' day" it was; and,
from the frequency of this action, it was evident the day was hanging
heavily with Barny. He retired at last to a sunny nook in a neighboring
field, and stretching himself at full length, basked in the sun, and
began "to chew the cud of sweet and bitter thought." He first reflected
on his own undoubted weight in his little community, but still he could
not get over the annoyance of the preceding night, arising from his
being silenced by O'Sullivan; "a chap," as he said himself, "that lift
the place four years agon a brat iv a boy, and to think iv his comin'
back and outdoin' his elders, that saw him runnin' about the place, a
gassoon, that one could tache a few months before"; 'twas too bad. Barny
saw his reputation was in a ticklish position, and began to consider how
his disgrace could be retrieved. The very name of Fingal was hateful to
him; it was a plague-spot on his peace that festered there incurably. He
first thought of leaving Kinsale altogether; but flight implied so much
of defeat, that he did not long indulge in that notion. No; he would
stay, "in spite of all the O'Sullivans, kith and kin, breed, seed, and
generation." But at the same time he knew he should never hear the end
of that hateful place, Fingal; and if Barny had had the power, he would
have enacted a penal statute, making it death to name the accursed spot,
wherever it was; but not being gifted with such legislative authority,
he felt Kinsale was no place for him, if he would not submit to be
flouted every hour out of the four-and-twenty, by man, woman, and child,
that wished to annoy him. What was to be done? He was in the perplexing
situation, to use his own words, "of the cat in the thripe shop," he
didn't know which way to choose. At last, after turning himself over in
the sun several times, a new idea struck him. Couldn't he go to Fingal
himself? and then he'd be equal to that upstart, O'Sullivan. No sooner
was the thought engendered, than Barny sprang to his feet a new man; his
eye brightened, his step became once more elastic,—he walked erect, and
felt himself to be all over Barny O'Reirdon once more. "Richard was
But where was Fingal?—there was the rub. That was a profound mystery to
Barny, which, until discovered, must hold him in the vile bondage of
inferiority. The plain-dealing reader would say, "Couldn't he ask?" No,
no; that would never do for Barny: that would be an open admission of
ignorance his soul was above, and consequently Barny set his brains to
work to devise measures of coming at the hidden knowledge by some
circuitous route, that would not betray the end he was working for. To
this purpose, fifty stratagems were raised, and demolished in half as
many minutes, in the fertile brain of Barny, as he strided along the
shore; and as he was working hard at the fifty-first, it was knocked all
to pieces by his jostling against some one whom he never perceived he
was approaching, so immersed was he in his speculations, and on looking
up, who should it prove to be but his friend "the long sailor from the
Aystern Injees." This was quite a godsend to Barny, and much beyond
what he could have hoped for. Of all men under the sun, the long sailor
was the man in a million for Barny's net at that minute, and accordingly
he made a haul of him, and thought it the greatest catch he ever made in
Barny and the long sailor were in close companionship for the remainder
of the day, which was closed, as the preceding one, in a carouse; but on
this occasion there was only a duet performance in honor of the jolly
god, and the treat was at Barny's expense. What the nature of their
conversation during the period was, I will not dilate on, but keep it as
profound a secret as Barny himself did, and content myself with saying,
that Barny looked a much happier man the next day. Instead of wearing
his hat slouched, and casting his eyes on the ground, he walked about
with his usual unconcern, and gave his nod and the passing word of
civilitude to every friend he met; he rolled his quid of tobacco about
in his jaw with an air of superior enjoyment, and if disturbed in his
narcotic amusement by a question, he took his own time to eject "the
leperous distilment" before he answered the querist,—a happy composure,
that bespoke a man quite at ease with himself. It was in this agreeable
spirit that Barny bent his course to the house of Peter Kelly, the owner
of the "big farm beyant," before alluded to, in order to put in practice
a plan he had formed for the fulfilment of his determination of
He thought it probable that Peter Kelly, being one of the "snuggest" men
in the neighborhood, would be a likely person to join him in a "spec,"
as he called it (a favorite abbreviation of his for the word
"speculation"), and accordingly, when he reached the "big-farm house,"
he accosted the owner with his usual "God save you."
"God save you kindly, Barny," returned Peter Kelly; "an' what is it
brings you here, Barny," asked Peter, "this fine day, instead o' being
out in the boat?"
"O, I'll be out in the boat soon enough, and it's far enough too I'll be
in her; an' indeed it's partly that same is bringin' me here to
"Why, do you want me to go along wid you, Barny?"
"Troth an' I don't, Mr. Kelly. You're a knowledgeable man an land, but
I'm afeared it's a bad bargain you'd be at say."
"And what wor you talking about me and your boat for?"
"Why, you see, sir, it was in the regard of a little bit o' business,
an' if you'd come wid me and take a turn in the praty-field, I'll be
behouldin' to you, and maybe you'll hear somethin' that won't be
displazin' to you."
"An' welkim, Barny," said Peter Kelly.
When Barny and Peter were in the "praty-field," Barny opened the
trenches (I don't mean the potato trenches), but, in military parlance,
he opened the trenches and laid siege to Peter Kelly, setting forth the
extensive profits that had been realized at various "specs" that had
been made by his neighbors in exporting potatoes. "And sure," said
Barny, "why shouldn't you do the same, and they are ready to your
hand? as much as to say, why don't you profit by me, Peter Kelly? And
the boat is below there in the harbor, and, I'll say this much, the
divil a betther boat is betune this and herself."
"Indeed, I b'lieve so, Barny," said Peter, "for considhering where we
stand, at this present, there's no boat at all at all betune us." And
Peter laughed with infinite pleasure at his own hit.
"O, well, you know what I mane, anyhow, an', as I said before, the boat
is a darlint boat, and as for him that commands her—I b'lieve I need
say nothin' about that." And Barny gave a toss of his head and a sweep
of his open hand, more than doubling the laudatory nature of his comment
But, as the Irish saying is, "to make a long story short," Barny
prevailed on Peter Kelly to make an export; but in the nature of the
venture they did not agree. Barny had proposed potatoes; Peter said
there were enough of them already where he was going; and Barny rejoined
that, "praties were so good in themselves there never could be too much
o' thim anywhere." But Peter being a knowledgeable man, and up to all
the "saycrets o' the airth, and understanding the the-o-ry and the
che-mis-thery," overruled Barny's proposition, and determined upon a
cargo of scalpeens (which name they gave to pickled mackerel), as a
preferable merchandise, quite forgetting that Dublin Bay herrings were a
much better and as cheap a commodity, at the command of the Fingalians.
But in many similar mistakes the ingenious Mr. Kelly has been paralleled
by other speculators. But that is neither here nor there, and it was
all one to Barny whether his boat was freighted with potatoes or
scalpeens, so long as he had the honor and glory of becoming a
navigator, and being as good as O'Sullivan.
Accordingly the boat was laden and all got in readiness for putting to
sea, and nothing was now wanting but Barny's orders to haul up the gaff
and shake out the jib of his hooker.
But this order Barny refrained to give, and for the first time in his
life exhibited a disinclination to leave the shore. One of his
fellow-boatmen, at last, said to him, "Why thin, Barny O'Reirdon, what
the divil is come over you, at all at all? What's the maynin' of your
loitherin' about here, and the boat ready and a lovely fine breeze aff
o' the land?"
"O, never you mind; I b'lieve I know my own business anyhow, an' it's
hard, so it is, if a man can't ordher his own boat to sail when he
"O, I was only thinking it quare; and a pity more betoken, as I said
before, to lose the beautiful breeze, and—"
"Well, just keep your thoughts to yourself, i' you plaze, and stay in
the boat as I bid you, and don't be out of her on your apperl, by no
manner o' manes, for one minit, for you see I don't know when it may be
plazin' to me to go aboord an' set sail."
"Well, all I can say is, I never seen you afeared to go to say before."
"Who says I'm afeared?" said O'Reirdon; "you'd betther not say that
agin, or in troth I'll give you a leatherin' that won't be for the good
o' your health,—troth, for three straws this minit I'd lave you that
your own mother wouldn't know you with the lickin' I'd give you; but I
scorn your dirty insinuation; no man ever seen Barny O'Reirdon afeard
yet, anyhow. Howld your prate, I tell you, and look up to your betthers.
What do you know iv navigation? Maybe you think it's as aisy for to sail
on a voyage as to go start a fishin'." And Barny turned on his heel and
left the shore.
The next day passed without the hooker sailing, and Barny gave a most
sufficient reason for the delay, by declaring that he had a warnin'
givin him in a dhrame (Glory be to God), and that it was given to him to
understand (under Heaven) that it wouldn't be lucky that day.
Well, the next day was Friday, and Barny, of course, would not sail any
more than any other sailor who could help it on this unpropitious day.
On Saturday, however, he came, running in a great hurry down to the
shore, and, jumping aboard, he gave orders to make all sail, and taking
the helm of the hooker, he turned her head to the sea, and soon the boat
was cleaving the blue waters with a velocity seldom witnessed in so
small a craft, and scarcely conceivable to those who have not seen the
speed of a Kinsale hooker.
"Why, thin, you tuk the notion mighty suddint, Barny," said the
fisherman next in authority to O'Reirdon, as soon as the bustle of
getting the boat under way had subsided.
"Well, I hope it's plazin' to you at last," said Barny, "troth one ud
think you were never at say before, you wor in such a hurry to be off;
as new-fangled a'most as the child with a play toy."
"Well," said the other of Barny's companions, for there were but two
with him in the boat, "I was thinkin' myself, as well as Jemmy, that we
lost two fine days for nothin', and we'd be there a'most, maybe, now, if
we sail'd three days agon."
"Don't b'lieve it," said Barny, emphatically. "Now, don't you know
yourself that there is some days that the fish won't come near the lines
at all, and that we might as well be castin' our nets on the dhry land
as in the say, for all we'll catch if we start on an unlooky day; and
sure, I towld you I was waitin' only till I had it given to me to
undherstan' that it was looky to sail, and I go bail we'll be there
sooner than if we started three days agon, for if you don't start with
good look before you, faix maybe it's never at all to the end o' your
trip you'll come."
"Well, there's no use in talkin' aboot it now, anyhow; but when do you
expec' to be there?"
"Why, you see we must wait antil I can tell how the wind is like to
hould on, before I can make up my mind to that."
"But you're sure now, Barny, that you're up to the coorse you have to
"See now, lave me alone and don't be cross crass-questionin'
me—tare-an-ouns, do you think me sich a bladdherang as for to go to
shuperinscribe a thing I wasn't aiquil to?"
"No; I was only goin' to ax you what coorse you wor goin' to steer?"
"You'll find out soon enough when we get there—and so I bid you agin
lay me alone,—just keep your toe in your pump. Shure I'm here at the
helm, and a weight on my mind, and it's fitther for you, Jim, to mind
your own business and lay me to mind mine; away wid you there and be
handy, haul taut that foresheet there, we must run close on the wind; be
handy, boys; make everything dhraw."
These orders were obeyed, and the hooker soon passed to windward of a
ship that left the harbor before her, but could not hold on a wind with
the same tenacity as the hooker, whose qualities in this particular
render it peculiarly suitable for the purposes to which it is applied,
namely, pilot and fishing boats.
We have said a ship left the harbor before the hooker had set sail; and
it is now fitting to inform the reader that Barny had contrived, in the
course of his last meeting with the "long sailor," to ascertain that
this ship, then lying in the harbor, was going to the very place Barny
wanted to reach. Barny's plan of action was decided upon in a moment; he
had now nothing to do but to watch the sailing of the ship and follow in
her course. Here was, at once, a new mode of navigation discovered.
The stars, twinkling in mysterious brightness through the silent gloom
of night, were the first encouraging, because visible, guides to the
adventurous mariners of antiquity. Since then, the sailor, encouraged by
a bolder science, relies on the unseen agency of nature, depending on
the fidelity of an atom of iron to the mystic law that claims its homage
in the north. This is one refinement of science upon another. But the
beautiful simplicity of Barny O'Reirdon's philosophy cannot be too much
admired,—to follow the ship that is going to the same place. Is not
this navigation made easy?
But Barny, like many a great man before him, seemed not to be aware of
how much credit he was entitled to for his invention, for he did not
divulge to his companions the originality of his proceeding; he wished
them to believe he was only proceeding in the commonplace manner, and
had no ambition to be distinguished as the happy projector of so simple
For this purpose he went to windward of the ship and then fell off
again, allowing her to pass him, as he did not wish even those on board
the ship to suppose he was following in their wake; for Barny, like all
people that are quite full of one scheme, and fancy everybody is
watching them, dreaded lest any one should fathom his motives. All that
day Barny held on the same course as his leader, keeping at a respectful
distance, however, "for fear 'twould look like dodging her," as he said
to himself; but as night closed in, so closed in Barny with the ship,
and kept a sharp lookout that she should not give him the slip. The next
morning dawned, and found the hooker and ship companions still; and thus
matters proceeded for four days, during which entire time they had not
seen land since their first losing sight of it, although the weather was
"By my sowl," thought Barny, "the channel must be mighty wide in these
parts, and for the last day or so we've been goin' purty free with a
flowing sheet, and I wondher we aren't closin' in wid the shore by this
time; or maybe it's farther off than I thought it was." His companions,
too, began to question Barny on the subject, but to their queries he
presented an impenetrable front of composure, and said "it was always
the best plan to keep a good bowld offin'." In two days more, however,
the weather began to be sensibly warmer, and Barny and his companions
remarked that it was "goin' to be the finest sayson—God bless it—that
ever kem out o' the skies for many a long year, and maybe it's the whate
would not be beautiful, and a great dale of it."
It was at the end of a week that the ship which Barny had hitherto kept
ahead of him showed symptoms of bearing down upon him, as he thought,
and, sure enough, she did; and Barny began to conjecture what the deuce
the ship could want with him, and commenced inventing answers to the
questions he thought it possible might be put to him in case the ship
spoke him. He was soon put out of suspense by being hailed and ordered
to run under her lee, and the captain, looking over the quarter, asked
Barny where he was going.
"Faith then, I'm goin' an my business," said Barny.
"But where?" said the captain.
"Why, sure, an' it's no matther where a poor man like me id be goin',"
"Only I'm curious to know what the deuce you've been following my ship
for, the last week."
"Follyin' your ship! Why, thin, blur-an-agers, do you think it's
follyin' yiz I am?"
"It's very like it," said the captain.
"Why, did two people niver thravel the same road before?"
"I don't say they didn't; but there's a great difference between a ship
of seven hundred tons and a hooker."
"O, as for that matther," said Barny, "the same high-road sarves a coach
and four and a lowback car, the thravellin' tinker an' a lord a'
"That's very true," said the captain, "but the cases are not the same,
Paddy, and I can't conceive what the devil brings you here."
"And who ax'd you to consayve anything about it?" asked Barny, somewhat
"D—n me, if I can imagine what you're about, my fine fellow," said the
captain; "and my own notion is, that you don't know where the d—l
you're going yourself."
"O baithershin!" said Barny, with a laugh of derision.
"Why then do you object to tell?" said the captain.
"Arrah sure, captain, an' don't you know that sometimes vessels is bound
to sail under saycret ordhers?" said Barny, endeavoring to foil the
question by badinage.
There was a universal laugh from the deck of the ship, at the idea of a
fishing-boat sailing under secret orders; for, by this time, the whole
broadside of the vessel was crowded with grinning mouths and wondering
eyes at Barny and his boat.
"O, it's a thrifle makes fools laugh," said Barny.
"Take care, my fine fellow, that you don't be laughing at the wrong side
of your mouth before long, for I've a notion that you're cursedly in
the wrong box, as cunning a fellow as you think yourself. D—n your
stupid head, can't you tell what brings you here?"
"Why, thin, by gor, one id think the whole say belonged to you, you're
so mighty bowld in axin' questions an it. Why, tare-an-ouns, sure I've
as much right to be here as you, though I haven't as big a ship nor as
fine a coat,—but maybe I can take as good a sailin' out o' the one, and
has as bowld a heart under th' other."
"Very well," said the captain, "I see there's no use in talking to you,
so go to the d—l your own way." And away bore the ship, leaving Barny
in indignation and his companions in wonder.
"An' why wouldn't you tell him?" said they to Barny.
"Why, don't you see," said Barny, whose object was now to blind
them,—"don't you see, how do I know but maybe he might be goin' to the
same place himself, and maybe he has a cargo of scalpeens as well as
uz, and wants to get before us there."
"True for you, Barny," said they. "By dad, you're right." And their
inquiries being satisfied, the day passed as former ones had done, in
pursuing the course of the ship.
In four days more, however, the provisions in the hooker began to fail,
and they were obliged to have recourse to the scalpeens for
sustenance, and Barny then got seriously uneasy at the length of the
voyage, and the likely greater length, for anything he could see to the
contrary; and, urged at last by his own alarms and those of his
companions, he was enabled, as the wind was light, to gain on the ship,
and when he found himself alongside he demanded a parley with the
The captain, on hearing that the "hardy hooker," as she got christened,
was under his lee, came on deck; and as soon as he appeared Barny cried
"Why, thin, blur-an-agers, Captain dear, do you expec' to be there
"Where?" said the captain.
"O, you know yourself!" said Barny.
"It's well for me I do," said the captain.
"Thrue for you, indeed, your honor," said Barny, in his most insinuating
tone; "but whin will you be at the ind o' your voyage, Captain jewel?"
"I daresay in about three months," said the captain.
"O Holy Mother!" ejaculated Barny; "three months!—arrah, it's jokin'
you are, Captain dear, and only want to freken me."
"How should I frighten you?" asked the captain.
"Why, thin, your honor, to tell God's thruth, I heard you were goin'
there, an' as I wanted to go there too, I thought I couldn't do better
nor to folly a knowledgeable gintleman like yourself, and save myself
the throuble iv findin' it out."
"And where do you think I am going?" said the captain.
"Why, thin," said Barny, "isn't it to Fingal?"
"No," said the captain, "it's to Bengal."
"O Gog's blakey!" said Barny, "what'll I do now, at all at all?"
The captain ordered Barny on deck, as he wished to have some
conversation with him on what he, very naturally, considered a most
extraordinary adventure. Heaven help the captain! he knew little of
Irishmen, or he would not have been so astonished. Barny made his
appearance. Puzzling question and more puzzling answer followed in quick
succession between the commander and Barny, who, in the midst of his
dilemma, stamped about, thumped his head, squeezed his caubeen into all
manner of shapes, and vented his despair anathematically: "O, my heavy
hathred to you, you tarnal thief iv a long sailor, it's a purty scrape
yiv led me into. By gor, I thought it was Fingal he said, and now I
hear it is Bingal. O, the divil sweep you for navigation, why did I
meddle or make wid you at all at all? And my curse light on you, Terry
O'Sullivan, why did I iver come across you, you onlooky vagabone, to put
sich thoughts in my head? And so it's Bingal, and not Fingal, you're
goin' to, Captain?"
"Yes, indeed, Paddy."
"An' might I be so bowld to ax, Captain, is Bingal much farther nor
"A trifle or so, Paddy?"
"Och, thin, millia murther, weirasthru, how'll I iver get there at all
at all?" roared out poor Barny.
"By turning about, and getting back the road you've come, as fast as you
"Is it back? O Queen iv Heaven! an' how will I iver get back?" said the
"Then, you don't know your course, it appears?"
"O, faix I knew it iligant, as long as your honor was before me."
"But you don't know your course back?"
"Why, indeed, not to say rightly all out, your honor."
"Can't you steer?" said the captain.
"The divil a betther hand at the tiller in all Kinsale," said Barny,
with his usual brag.
"Well, so far so good," said the captain. "And you know the points of
the compass,—you have a compass, I suppose?"
"A compass! by my sowl an' it's not let alone a compass, but a pair a
compasses I have, that my brother the carpinthir left me for a keepsake
whin he wint abroad; but, indeed, as for the points o' thim I can't say
much, for the childer spylt thim intirely, rootin' holes in the flure."
"What the plague are you talking about?" asked the captain.
"Wasn't your honor discoorsin' me about the points o' the compasses?"
"Confound your thick head!" said the captain. "Why, what an ignoramus
you must be, not to know what a compass is, and you at sea all your
life? Do you even know the cardinal points?"
"The cardinals! faix, an' it's a great respect I have for them, your
honor. Sure, ar'n't they belongin' to the pope?"
"Confound you, you blockhead!" roared the captain, in a rage,—"'twould
take the patience of the pope and the cardinals, and the cardinal
virtues into the bargain, to keep one's temper with you. Do you know the
four points of the wind?"
"By my sowl, I do, and more."
"Well, never mind more, but let us stick to four. You're sure you know
the four points of the wind?"
"By dad, it would be a quare thing if a seyfarin' man didn't know
somethin' about the wind anyhow. Why, Captain dear, you must take me for
a nathral intirely, to suspect me o' the like o' not knowin' all about
the wind. By gor, I know as much o' the wind a'most as a pig."
"Indeed, I believe so," laughed out the captain.
"O, you may laugh if you plaze, and I see by the same that you don't
know about the pig, with all your edication, Captain."
"Well, what about the pig?"
"Why, sir, did you never hear a pig can see the wind?"
"I can't say that I did."
"O, thin he does, and for that rayson who has a right to know more about
"You don't, for one, I dare say, Paddy; and maybe you have a pig aboard
to give you information."
"Sorra taste, your honor, not as much as a rasher o' bacon; but it's
maybe your honor never seen a pig tossing up his snout, consaited like,
and running like mad afore a storm."
"Well, what if I have?"
"Well, sir, that is when they see the wind a-comin'."
"Maybe so, Paddy, but all this knowledge in piggery won't find you your
way home; and, if you take my advice, you will give up all thoughts of
endeavoring to find your way back, and come on board. You and your
messmates, I dare say, will be useful hands, with some teaching; but, at
all events, I cannot leave you here on the open sea, with every chance
of being lost."
"Why, thin, indeed, and I'm behowlden to your honor; and it's the
hoighth o' kindness, so it is, you offer; and it's nothin' else but a
gintleman you are, every inch o' you; but I hope it's not so bad wid us
yet, as to do the likes o' that."
"I think it's bad enough," said the captain, "when you are without a
compass and knowing nothing of your course, and nearly a hundred and
eighty leagues from land."
"An' how many miles would that be, Captain?"
"Three times as many."
"I never larned the rule o' three, Captain, and maybe your honor id tell
"That is rather more than five hundred miles."
"Five hundred miles!" shouted Barny. "O, the Lord look down upon us!
how'll we ever get back?"
"That's what I say," said the captain; "and therefore, I recommend you
to come aboard with me."
"And where 'ud the hooker be all the time?" said Barny.
"Let her go adrift," was the answer.
"Is it the darlint boat? O, by dad, I'll never hear o' that at all."
"Well, then, stay in her and be lost. Decide upon the matter at once,
either come on board or cast off." And the captain was turning away as
he spoke, when Barny called after him, "Arrah, thin, your honor, don't
go jist for one minit antil I ax you one word more. If I wint wid you,
whin would I be home again?"
"In about seven months."
"O, thin, that puts the wig an it at wanst. I dar'n't go at all."
"Why, seven months are not long passing."
"Thrue for you, in throth," said Barny, with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Faix, it's myself knows, to my sorrow, the half year comes round mighty
suddint, and the lord's agint comes for the thrifle o' rent."
"Then what's your objection, as to the time?" asked the captain.
"Arrah, sure, sir, what would the woman that owns me do while I was
away? and maybe it's break her heart the craythur would, thinking I was
lost intirely; and who'd be at home to take care o' the childher' and
airn thim the bit and the sup, whin I'd be away? and who knows but it's
all dead they'd be afore I got back? Och hone! sure the heart id fairly
break in my body, if hurt or harm kem to them, through me. So, say no
more, Captain dear, only give me a thrifle o' directions how I'm to make
an offer at gettin' home, and it's myself that will pray for you night,
noon, and mornin' for that same."
"Well, Paddy," said the captain, "as you are determined to go back, in
spite of all I can say, you must attend to me well while I give you as
simple instructions as I can. You say you know the four points of the
wind, north, south, east, and west."
"How do you know them? for I must see that you, are not likely to make a
mistake. How do you know the points?"
"Why, you see, sir, the sun, God bless it, rises in the aist, and sets
in the west, which stands to raison; and whin you stand bechuxt the aist
and the west, the north is forninst you."
"And when the north is fornenst you, as you say, is the east on your
right or your left hand?"
"On the right hand, your honor."
"Well, I see you know that much, however. Now," said the captain, "the
moment you leave the ship, you must steer a northeast course, and you
will make some land near home in about a week, if the wind holds as it
is now, and it is likely to do so; but, mind me, if you turn out of your
course in the smallest degree you are a lost man."
"Many thanks to your honor!"
"And how are you off for provisions?"
"Why, thin, indeed, in the regard o' that same we are in the hoighth o'
distress, for exceptin' the scalpeens, sorra taste passed our lips for
these four days."
"O, you poor devils!" said the commander, in a tone of sincere
commiseration, "I'll order you some provisions on board before you
"Long life to your honor! and I'd like to drink the health of so noble a
"I understand you, Paddy, you shall have grog too."
"Musha, the heavens shower blessin's an you, I pray the Virgin Mary and
the twelve apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not forgettin' Saint
"Thank you, Paddy; but keep your prayers for yourself, for you need them
all to help you home again."
"Oh! never fear, when the thing is to be done, I'll do it, by dad, wid a
heart and a half. And sure, your honor, God is good, an' will mind
dessolute craythurs like uz on the wild oceant as well as ashore."
While some of the ship's crew were putting the captain's benevolent
intentions to Barny and his companions into practice, by transferring
some provisions to the hooker, the commander entertained himself by
further conversation with Barny, who was the greatest original he had
ever met. In the course of their colloquy, Barny drove many hard queries
at the captain, respecting the wonders of the nautical profession, and
at last put the question to him plump:—
"Oh! thin, Captain dear, and how is it at all at all, that you make your
way over the wide says intirely to them furrin parts?"
"You would not understand, Paddy, if I attempted to explain to you."
"Sure enough, indeed, your honor, and I ask your pardon, only I was
curious to know, and sure no wondher."
"It requires various branches of knowledge to make a navigator."
"Branches," said Barny, "by gar I think it id take the whole tree o'
knowledge to make it out. And that place you are going to, sir, that
Bingal (oh! bad luck to it for a Bingal, it's the sore Bingal to
me), is it so far off as you say?"
"Yes, Paddy, half round the world."
"Is it round in airnest, Captain dear? Round about!"
"O, thin, ar'n't you afeard that whin you come to the top and that
you're obleedged to go down, that you'd go slidderhin away intirely, and
never be able to stop, maybe. It's bad enough, so it is, going down hill
by land, but it must be the dickens all out by wather."
"But there is no hill, Paddy; don't you know that water is always
"By dad, it's very flat anyhow, and by the same token it's seldom I
throuble it; but sure, your honor, if the wather is level, how do you
make out that it is round you go?"
"That is a part of the knowledge I was speaking to you about," said the
"Musha, bad luck to you, knowledge, but you're a quare thing!—and where
is it Bingal, bad cess to it, would be at all at all?"
"In the East Indies."
"O, that is where they make the tay, isn't it, sir?"
"No, where the tea grows is further still."
"Further! why that must be the ind of the world intirely; and they don't
make it, thin, sir, but it grows, you tell me."
"Is it like hay, your honor?"
"Not exactly, Paddy; what puts hay in your head?"
"Oh! only bekase I hear them call it Bohay."
"A most logical deduction, Paddy."
"And is it a great deal farther, your honor, the tay country is?"
"Yes, Paddy, China it is called."
"That's, I suppose, what we call Chaynee, sir?"
"By dad, I never could come at it rightly before, why it was nathral to
drink tay out o' chaynee. I ax your honor's pardon for bein'
troublesome, but I hard tell from the long sailor, iv a place they call
Japan, in them furrin parts, and is it there, your honor?"
"Quite true, Paddy."
"And I suppose it's there the blackin' comes from."
"No, Paddy, you are out there."
"O well, I thought it stood to rayson, as I heerd of Japan blackin',
sir, that it would be there it kem from; besides,—as the blacks
themselves,—the naygers, I mane, is in them parts."
"The negroes are in Africa, Paddy, much nearer to us."
"God betune us and harm. I hope I would not be too near them," said
"Why, what's your objection?"
"Arrah sure, sir, they're hardly mortials at all, but has the mark o'
the bastes an thim."
"How do you make out that, Paddy?"
"Why sure, sir, and didn't Natur make thim wid wool on their heads,
plainly makin' it undherstood to Chrishthans, that they were little more
"I think your head is a wool-gathering now, Paddy," said the captain,
"Faix, maybe so, indeed," answered Barny, good-humoredly, "but it's
seldom I ever went out to look for wool and kem home shorn, anyhow,"
said he, with a look of triumph.
"Well, you won't have that to say for the future, Paddy," said the
captain, laughing again.
"My name's not Paddy, your honor," said Barny, returning the laugh, but
seizing the opportunity to turn the joke aside, that was going against
him; "my name isn't Paddy, sir, but Barny."
"O, if it was Solomon, you'll be bare enough when you go home this time;
you have not gathered much this trip, Barny."
"Sure, I've been gathering knowledge, anyhow, your honor," said Barny,
with a significant look at the captain, and a complimentary tip of his
hand to his caubeen, "and God bless you for being so good to me."
"And what's your name besides Barny?" asked the captain.
"O'Reirdon, your honor,—Barny O'Reirdon's my name."
"Well, Barny O'Reirdon, I won't forget your name nor yourself in a
hurry, for you are certainly the most original navigator I ever had the
honor of being acquainted with."
"Well," said Barny, with a triumphant toss of his head, "I have done
Terry O'Sullivan, at any rate, the devil a half so far he ever was, and
that's a comfort. I have muzzled his clack for the rest iv his life, and
he won't be comin' over us wid the pride iv his Fingal while I'm to
the fore, that was a'most at Bingal!
"Terry O'Sullivan,—who is he, pray?" said the captain.
"O, he's a scut iv a chap that's not worth your axin' for,—he's not
worth your honor's notice,—a braggin' poor craythur. O, wait till I get
home, and the devil a more braggin' they'll hear out of his jaw."
"Indeed then, Barny, the sooner you turn your face toward home the
better," said the captain: "since you will go, there is no need of your
losing more time."
"Thrue for you, your honor,—and sure it's well for me I had the luck to
meet with the likes o' your honor, that explained the ins and the outs
iv it, to me, and laid it all down as plain as prent."
"Are you sure you remember my directions?" said the captain.
"Troth an I'll niver forget them to the day o' my death, and is bound to
pray, more betoken, for you and yours."
"Don't mind praying for me till you get home, Barny; but answer me, how
are you to steer when you shall leave me?"
"The nor-aist coorse, your honor, that's the coorse agin the world."
"Remember that! Never alter that course till you see land,—let nothing
make you turn out of a northeast course."
"Throth an' that would be the dirty turn, seein' that it was yourself
that ordhered it. O no, I'll depend my life an the nor-aist coorse,
and God help any that comes betune me an' it,—I'd run him down if he
was my father."
"Well, good by, Barny."
"Good by, and God bless you, your honor, and send you safe."
"That's a wish you want for yourself, Barny,—never fear for me, but
mind yourself well."
"O, sure, I'm as good as at home wanst I know the way, barrin' the wind
is conthrary; sure the nor-aist coorse'll do the business complate. Good
by, your honor, and long life to you, and more power to your elbow, and
a light heart and a heavy purse to you evermore, I pray the blessed
Virgin and all the saints, amin!" And so saying, Barny descended the
ship's side, and once more assumed the helm of the "hardy hooker."
The two vessels now separated on their opposite courses. What a contrast
their relative situations afforded! Proudly the ship bore away under her
lofty and spreading canvas, cleaving the billows before her, manned by
an able crew, and under the guidance of experienced officers; the finger
of science to point the course of her progress, the faithful chart to
warn of the hidden rock and the shoal, the long line and the quadrant to
measure her march and prove her position. The poor little hooker cleft
not the billows, each wave lifted her on its crest like a sea-bird; but
the three inexperienced fishermen to manage her; no certain means to
guide them over the vast ocean they had to traverse, and the holding of
the "fickle wind" the only chance of their escape from perishing in
the wilderness of waters. By the one, the feeling excited is supremely
that of man's power. By the other, of his utter helplessness. To the
one, the expanse of ocean could scarcely be considered "trackless." To
the other, it was a waste indeed.
Yet the cheer that burst from the ship, at parting, was answered as
gayly from the hooker as though the odds had not been so fearfully
against her, and no blither heart beat on board the ship than that of
Happy light-heartedness of my countrymen! How kindly have they been
fortified by nature against the assaults of adversity; and if they
blindly rush into dangers, they cannot be denied the possession of
gallant hearts to fight their way out of them.
But each hurrah became less audible; by degrees the cheers dwindled into
faintness, and finally were lost in the eddies of the breeze.
The first feeling of loneliness that poor Barny experienced was when he
could no longer hear the exhilarating sound. The plash of the surge, as
it broke on the bows of his little boat, was uninterrupted by the
kindred sound of human voice; and, as it fell upon his ear, it smote
upon his heart. But he replied, waved his hat, and the silent signal was
answered from those on board the ship.
"Well, Barny," said Jemmy, "what was the captain sayin' to you at the
time you wor wid him?"
"Lay me alone," said Barny, "I'll talk to you when I see her out o'
sight, but not a word till thin. I'll look afther him, the rale
gintleman that he is, while there's a topsail of his ship to be seen,
and then I'll send my blessin' afther him, and pray for his good
fortune wherever he goes, for he's the right sort and nothin' else."
And Barny kept his word, and when his straining eye could no longer
trace a line of the ship, the captain certainly had the benefit of "a
poor man's blessing."
The sense of utter loneliness and desolation had not come upon Barny
until now; but he put his trust in the goodness of Providence, and in a
fervent mental outpouring of prayer resigned himself to the care of his
Creator. With an admirable fortitude, too, he assumed a composure to his
companions that was a stranger to his heart; and we all know how the
burden of anxiety is increased when we have none with whom to
sympathize. And this was not all. He had to affect ease and confidence,
for Barny not only had no dependence on the firmness of his companions
to go through the undertaking before them, but dreaded to betray to them
how he had imposed on them in the affair. Barny was equal to all this.
He had a stout heart, and was an admirable actor; yet, for the first
hour after the ship was out of sight, he could not quite recover
himself, and every now and then, unconsciously, he would look back with
a wishful eye to the point where last he saw her. Poor Barny had lost
The night fell, and Barny stuck to the helm as long as nature could
sustain want of rest, and then left it in charge of one of his
companions, with particular directions how to steer, and ordered, if any
change in the wind occurred, that they should instantly awake him. He
could not sleep long, however; the fever of anxiety was upon him, and
the morning had not long dawned when he awoke. He had not well rubbed
his eyes and looked about him, when he thought he saw a ship in the
distance approaching them. As the haze cleared away, she showed
distinctly bearing down toward the hooker. On board the ship, the
hooker, in such a sea, caused surprise as before, and in about an hour
she was so close as to hail, and order the hooker to run under her lee.
"The devil a taste," said Barny. "I'll not quit my nor-aist coorse for
the king of Ingland, nor Bonyparty into the bargain. Bad cess to you, do
you think I've nothin' to do but plaze you?"
Again he was hailed.
"Oh! bad luck to the toe I'll go to you."
"Spake loudher you'd betther," said Barny, jeeringly, still holding on
A gun was fired ahead of him.
"By my sowl you spoke loudher that time, sure enough," said Barny.
"Take care, Barny," cried Jemmy and Peter together. "Blur-an-agers, man,
we'll be kilt if you don't go to them."
"Well, and we'll be lost if we turn out iv our nor-aist coorse, and
that's as broad as it's long. Let them hit iz if they like; sure it ud
be a pleasanter death nor starvin' at say. I tell you agin I'll turn out
o' my nor-aist coorse for no man."
A shotted gun was fired. The shot hopped on the water as it passed
before the hooker.
"Phew! you missed it, like your mammy's blessin'," said Barny.
"O murther!" said Jemmy, "didn't you see the ball hop aff the wather
forninst you. O murther, what 'ud we ha' done if we wor there at all at
"Why, we'd have taken the ball at the hop," said Barny, laughing,
"accordin' to the ould sayin'."
Another shot was ineffectually fired.
"I'm thinking that's a Connaughtman that's shootin'," said Barny, with a
[A] The allusion was so relished by Jemmy and Peter, that it
excited a smile in the midst of their fears from the cannonade.
Again the report of the gun was followed by no damage.
"Augh! never heed them!" said Barny, contemptuously. "'It's a barkin'
dog that never bites,' as the owld sayin' says." And the hooker was soon
out of reach of further annoyance.
"Now, what a pity it was, to be sure," said Barny, "that I wouldn't go
aboord to plaze them. Now who's right? Ah, lave me alone always, Jimmy;
did you iver know me wrong yet?"
"O, you may hillow now that you are out o' the wood," said Jemmy, "but,
accordin' to my idays, it was runnin' a grate risk to be conthrary wid
them at all, and they shootin' balls afther us."
"Well, what matther?" said Barny, "since they wor only blind gunners,
an' I knew it; besides, as I said afore, I won't turn out o' my
nor-aist coorse for no man."
"That's a new turn you tuk lately," said Peter. "What's the raison
you're runnin' a nor-aist coorse now, an' we never hear'd iv it afore at
all, till afther you quitted the big ship?"
"Why, thin, are you sich an ignoramus all out," said Barny, "as not for
to know that in navigation you must lie an a great many different tacks
before you can make the port you steer for?"
"Only I think," said Jemmy, "that it's back intirely we're goin' now,
and I can't make out the rights o' that at all."
"Why," said Barny, who saw the necessity of mystifying his companions a
little, "you see, the captain towld me that I kum around, an'
rekimminded me to go th' other way."
"Faix, it's the first time I ever heard o' goin' round by say," said
"Arrah, sure, that's part o' the saycrets o' navigation, and the
varrious branches o' knowledge that is requizit for a navigator; and
that's what the captain, God bless him, and myself was discoorsin' an
aboord; and, like a rale gintleman as he is, Barny, says he; Sir, says
I; you've come the round, says he. I know that, says I, bekase I like to
keep a good bowld offin', says I, in contrairy places. Spoke like a good
sayman, says he. That's my principles, says I. They're the right sort,
says he. But, says he (no offence), I think you wor wrong, says he, to
pass the short turn in the ladie-shoes,
[B] says he. I know, says I, you
mane beside the three-spike headlan'. That's the spot, says he, I see
you know it. As well as I know my father, says I."
"Whisht, whisht!" said Barny, "bad cess to you, don't thwart me. We
passed it in the night, and you couldn't see it. Well, as I was saying,
I knew it as well as I know my father, says I, but I gev the preference
to go the round, says I. You're a good sayman for that same, says he,
an' it would be right at any other time than this present, says he, but
it's onpossible now, tee-totally, on account o' the war, says he. Tare
alive, says I, what war? An' didn't you hear o' the war? says he. Divil
a word, says I. Why, says he, the naygers has made war on the king o'
Chaynee, says he, bekase he refused them any more tay; an' with that,
what did they do, says he, but they put a lumbargo on all the vessels
that sails the round, an' that's the rayson, says he, I carry guns, as
you may see; and I rekimmind you, says he, to go back, for you're not
able for thim, and that's jist the way iv it. An' now, wasn't it looky
that I kem acrass him at all, or maybe we might be cotch by the naygers,
and ate up alive."
"O, thin, indeed, and that's thrue," said Jemmy and Peter, "and whin
will we come to the short turn?"
"O, never mind," said Barny, "you'll see it when you get there; but wait
till I tell you more about the captain, and the big ship. He said, you
know, that he carried guns afeard o' the naygers, and in troth it's the
hoight o' care he takes o' them same guns; and small blame to him, sure
they might be the salvation of him. 'Pon my conscience, they're taken
betther care of than any poor man's child. I heerd him cautionin' the
sailors about them, and givin' them ordhers about their clothes."
"Their clothes!" said his two companions at once, in much surprise; "is
it clothes upon cannons?"
"It's thruth I'm tellin' you," said Barny. "Bad luck to the lie in it,
he was talkin' about their aprons and their breeches."
"O, think o' that!" said Jemmy and Peter, in surprise.
"An' 't was all iv a piece," said Barny, "that an' the rest o' the ship
all out. She was as nate as a new pin. Throth, I was a'most ashamed to
put my fut on the deck, it was so clane, and she painted every color in
the rainbow; and all sorts o' curiosities about her; and instead iv a
tiller to steer her, like this darlin' craythur iv ours, she goes wid a
wheel, like a coach all as one; and there's the quarest thing you iver
seen, to show the way, as the captain gev me to understan', a little
round rowly-powly thing in a bowl, that goes waddlin' about as if it
didn't know its own way, much more nor show anybody theirs. Throth,
myself thought that if that's the way they're obliged to go, that it's
with a great deal of fear and thrimblin' they find it out."
Thus it was that Barny continued most marvellous accounts of the ship
and the captain to his companions, and by keeping their attention so
engaged, prevented their being too inquisitive as to their own immediate
concerns, and for two days more Barny and the hooker held on their
respective courses undeviatingly.
"May the divil sweep you," said Barny, "and will nothin' else sarve you
than comin' forninst me that away? Brig-a-hoy there!" shouted Barny,
giving the tiller to one of his messmates, and standing at the bow of
his boat. "Brig-a-hoy there!—bad luck to you, go 'long out o' my
nor-aist coorse." The brig, instead of obeying him, hove to, and lay
right ahead of the hooker. "O, look at this!" shouted Barny, and he
stamped on the deck with rage,—"look at the blackguards where they're
stayin', just a-purpose to ruin an unfortunate man like me. My heavy
hathred to you, quit this minit, or I'll run down an yes, and if we go
to the bottom, we'll haunt you forevermore,—go 'long out o' that, I
tell you. The curse o' Crummil on you, you stupid vagabones, that won't
go out iv a man's nor-aist coorse!"
From cursing Barny went to praying as he came closer. "For the tendher
marcy o' heaven an' lave my way. May the Lord reward you, and get out o'
my nor-aist coorse! May angels make your bed in heavin and don't ruinate
me this a way." The brig was immovable, and Barny finished with a duet
volley of prayers and curses together, apostrophizing the hard case of a
man being "done out o' his nor-aist coorse."
"A-hoy there!" shouted a voice from the brig, "put down your helm or
you'll be aboard of us. I say, let go your jib and foresheet,—what are
you about, you lubbers?"
'Twas true that the brig lay so fair in Barny's course, that he would
have been aboard, but that instantly the manœuvre above alluded to
was put in practice on board the hooker; as she swept to destruction
toward the heavy hull of the brig, he luffed up into the wind alongside
her. A very pale and somewhat emaciated face appeared at the side, and
"What brings you here?" was the question.
"O, and that's all you know about it," says Barny.
"You're a small craft to be so far at sea. I suppose you have provisions
"To be sure we have; throth if we hadn't, this id be a bad place to go a
"Why, you're mighty ignorant intirely," said Barny; "why, scalpeens is
"Then you must give us some, for we have been out of everything eatable
these three days; and even pickled fish is better than nothing."
It chanced that the brig was a West India trader, which unfavorable
winds had delayed much beyond the expected period of time on her voyage,
and though her water had not failed, everything eatable had been
consumed, and the crew reduced almost to helplessness. In such a strait
the arrival of Barny O'Reirdon and his scalpeens was a most providential
succor to them, and a lucky chance for Barny, for he got in exchange for
his pickled fish a handsome return of rum and sugar, much more than
equivalent to their value. Barny lamented much, however, that the brig
was not bound for Ireland, that he might practice his own peculiar
system of navigation; but as staying with the brig could do no good, he
got himself put into his nor-aist coorse once more, and ploughed away
The disposal of his cargo was a great godsend to Barny in more ways than
one. In the first place, he found the most profitable market he could
have had; and, secondly, it enabled him to cover his retreat from the
difficulty which still was before him of not getting to Fingal after all
his dangers, and consequently being open to discovery and disgrace. All
these beneficial results were thrown away upon one of Barny's readiness
to avail himself of every point in his favor: and, accordingly, when
they left the brig, Barny said to his companions, "Why, thin, boys, 'pon
my conscience, but I'm as proud as a horse wid a wooden leg this minit,
that we met them poor unfort'nate craythers this blessed day, and was
enabled to extind our charity to them. Sure, an' it's lost they'd be
only for our comin' acrass them, and we, through the blessin' o' God,
enabled to do an act o' marcy, that is, feedin' the hungry; and sure
every good work we do here is before uz in heaven,—and that's a comfort
anyhow. To be sure, now that the scalpeens is sowld, there's no use in
goin' to Fingal, and we may as well jist go home."
"Faix, I'm sorry myself," said Jemmy, "for Terry O'Sullivan said it was
an iligant place intirely, an' I wanted to see it."
"To the divil wid Terry O'Sullivan," said Barny; "how does he know
what's an iligant place? What knowledge has he of iligance! I'll go bail
he never was half as far a navigatin' as we,—he wint the short cut, I
go bail, and never dar'd for to vinture the round, as I did."
"To be sure we wor," said Barny; "he wint skulkin' in by the short cut,
I tell you, and was afeard to keep a bowld offin' like me. But come,
boys, let uz take a dhrop o' the bottle o' sper'ts we got out o' the
brig. By gor, it's well we got some bottles iv it; for I wouldn't much
like to meddle wid that darlint little kag iv it antil we get home." The
rum was put on its trial by Barny and his companions, and in their
critical judgment was pronounced quite as good as the captain of the
ship had bestowed upon them, but that neither of those specimens of
spirit was to be compared to whiskey. "By dad," says Barny, "they may
rack their brains a long time before they'll make out a purtier
invintion than potteen,—that rum may do very well for thim that has
the misforthin' not to know betther; but the whiskey is a more nathral
sper't accordin' to my idays." In this, as in most other of Barny's
opinions, Peter and Jemmy coincided.
Nothing particular occurred for the two succeeding days, during which
time Barny most religiously pursued his nor-aist coorse, but the third
day produced a new and important event. A sail was discovered on the
horizon, and in the direction Barny was steering, and a couple of hours
made him tolerably certain that the vessel in sight was an American, for
though it is needless to say that he was not very conversant in such
matters, yet from the frequency of his seeing Americans trading to
Ireland, his eye had become sufficiently accustomed to their lofty and
tapering spars, and peculiar smartness of rig, to satisfy him that the
ship before him was of transatlantic build; nor was he wrong in his
Barny now determined on a manœuvre, classing him among the first
tacticians at securing a good retreat.
Moreau's highest fame rests upon his celebrated retrograde movement
through the Black Forest.
Xenophon's greatest glory is derived from the deliverance of his ten
thousand Greeks from impending ruin by his renowned retreat.
Let the ancient and the modern hero "repose under the shadow of their
laurels," as the French have it, while Barny O'Reirdon's historian, with
a pardonable jealousy for the honor of his country, cuts down a goodly
bough of the classic tree, beneath which our Hibernian hero may enjoy
his otium cum dignitate.
He was answered by a shrewd Yankee captain.
"Faix, an' it's glad I am to see your honor again," said Barny.
The Yankee had never been to Ireland, and told Barny so.
"O, throth, I couldn't forget a gintleman so aisy as that," said Barny.
"You're pretty considerably mistaken now, I guess," said the American.
"Divil a taste," said Barny, with inimitable composure and pertinacity.
"Well, if you know me so tarnation well, tell me what's my name." The
Yankee flattered himself he had nailed Barny now.
"Your name, is it?" said Barny, gaining time by repeating the question;
"why, what a fool you are not to know your own name."
The oddity of the answer posed the American, and Barny took advantage of
the diversion in his favor, and changed the conversation.
"By dad, I've been waitin' here these four or five days, expectin' some
of you would be wantin' me."
"Well, I say I was waitin' for some ship or other from Amerikay, that ud
be wantin' me. It's to Ireland you're goin'?"
"Well, I suppose you'll be wantin' a pilot," said Barny.
"O, I don't want to hurry you," said Barny.
"Why, indeed, as for the matther o' that," said Barny, "they're all
aiqual to me a'most."
"All?" said the American. "Why, I calculate you couldn't pilot a ship
into all the ports of Ireland."
"Not all at wanst," said Barny, with a laugh, in which the American
could not help joining.
"Why, thin, indeed," said Barny, "it would be hard for me to tell; but
wherever you want to go, I'm the man that'll do the job for you
complate. Where is your honor goin'?"
"So you don't know where Fingal is. O, I see you're a sthranger,
sir,—an' then there's Cork."
"I was bred and born there, and pilots as many ships into Cove as any
other two min out of it."
Barny thus sheltered his falsehood under the idiom of his language.
"But what brought you so far out to sea?" asked the captain.
"We wor lyin' out lookin' for ships that wanted pilots, and there kem an
the terriblest gale o' wind aff the land, an' blew us to say out
intirely, an' that's the way iv it, your honor."
"O, directly!" said Barny, "faith, you're right enough. 'Twas the
nor-aist coorse we wor an sure enough; but no matther now that we've
met wid you,—sure we'll have a job home anyhow."
"Well, get aboard then," said the American.
"Why, sure it's not goin' to turn pilot you are," said Jemmy, in his
simplicity of heart.
"Whisht, you omadhaun!" said Barny, "or I'll cut the tongue out o' you.
Now mind me, Pether. You don't undherstan' navigashin and the varrious
branches o' knowledge, an' so all you have to do is to folly the ship
when I get into her, an' I'll show you the way home."
Barny then got aboard the American vessel, and begged of the captain,
that as he had been out at sea so long, and had gone through "a power o'
hardship intirely," he would be permitted to go below and turn in to
take a sleep, "for in throth it's myself and sleep that is sthrayngers
for some time," said Barny, "an' if your honor'll be plazed I'll be
thankful if you won't let them disturb me antil I'm wanted, for sure
till you see the land there's no use for me in life, an' throth I want a
Barnes request was granted, and it will not be wondered at, that after
so much fatigue of mind and body, he slept profoundly for
four-and-twenty hours. He then was called, for land was in sight, and
when he came on deck the captain rallied him upon the potency of his
somniferous qualities, and "calculated" he had never met any one who
could sleep "four-and-twenty hours at a stretch before."
"O sir," said Barny, rubbing his eyes, which were still a little hazy,
"whiniver I go to sleep I pay attintion to it."
The land was soon neared, and Barny put in charge of the ship, when he
ascertained the first landmark he was acquainted with; but as soon as
the Head of Kinsale hove in sight, Barny gave a "whoo," and cut a caper
that astonished the Yankees, and was quite inexplicable to them, though,
I flatter myself, it is not to those who do Barny the favor of reading
"O, there you are, my darlint ould head! An' where's the head like o'
you? Throth, it's little I thought I'd ever set eyes an your
good-looking faytures agin. But God's good!"
In such half-muttered exclamations, did Barny apostrophize each
well-known point of his native shore, and when opposite the harbor of
Kinsale, he spoke the hooker that was somewhat astern, and ordered
Jemmy and Peter to put in there, and tell Molly immediately that he was
come back, and would be with her as soon as he could, after piloting the
ship into Cove. "But an your apperl don't tell Pether Kelly o' the big
farm, nor, indeed, don't mintion to man or mortial about the navigation
we done antil I come home myself and make them sensible o' it, bekase,
Jemmy and Pether, neither o' yiz is aqual to it, and doesn't undherstan'
the branches o' knowledge requizit for discoorsin' o' navigation."
The hooker put into Kinsale, and Barny sailed the ship into Cove. It was
the first ship he ever had acted the pilot for, and his old luck
attended him; no accident befell his charge, and, what was still more
extraordinary, he made the American believe he was absolutely the most
skilful pilot on the station. So Barny pocketed his pilot's fee, swore
the Yankee was a gentleman, for which the republican did not thank him,
wished him good by, and then pushed his way home with what Barny swore
was the aisiest-made money he ever had in his life. So Barny got himself
paid for piloting the ship that showed him the way home.