The Little Weaver of Duleek Gate

by Samuel Lover

From “Legends and Stories of Ireland.”

There was a waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in Duleek here, hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous man he was. He had a wife, an’ av coorse, they had childre, and small blame to them, so that the poor little waiver was obleeged to work his fingers to the bone a’most to get them the bit and the sup, and the loom never standin’ still.

Well, it was one mornin’ that his wife called to him, “Come here,” says she, “jewel, and ate your brekquest, now that it’s ready.” But he never minded her, but wint an workin’. “Arrah, lave off slavin’ yourself, my darlin’, and ate your bit o’ brekquest while it is hot.”

“Lave me alone,” says he, “I’m busy with a pattern here that is brakin’ my heart,” says the waiver; “and antil I complate it and masther it intirely I won’t quit.”

“You’re as cross as two sticks this blessed morning, Thady,” says the poor wife; “and it’s a heavy handful I have of you when you are cruked in your temper; but, stay there if you like, and let your stirabout grow cowld, and not a one o’ me ‘ill ax you agin;” and with that off she wint, and the waiver, sure enough, was mighty crabbed, and the more the wife spoke to him the worse he got, which, you know, is only nath’ral. Well, he left the loom at last, and wint over to the stirabout and what would you think, but whin he looked at it,  it was as black as a crow—for, you see, it was in the heighth o’ summer, and the flies lit upon it to that degree that the stirabout was fairly covered with them.

“Why, thin,” says the waiver, “would no place sarve you but that? and is it spyling my brekquest yiz are, you dirty bastes?” And with that, he lifted his hand, and he made one great slam at the dish o’ stirabout, and killed no less than three score and tin flies at the one blow, for he counted the carcases one by one, and laid them out an a clane plate for to view them.

Well, he felt a powerful sperit risin’ in him, when he seen the slaughter he done, at one blow; and not a sthroke more work he’d do that day, but out he wint and was fractious and impident to every one he met, and was squarin’ up into their faces and sayin’, “Look at that fist! that’s the fist that killed three score and tin at one blow—Whoo!”

With that all the neighbours thought he was crack’d, and the poor wife herself thought the same when he kem home in the evenin’, afther spendin’ every rap he had in dhrink, and swaggerin’ about the place, and lookin’ at his hand every minit.

“Indeed, an’ your hand is very dirty, sure enough, Thady, jewel,” says the poor wife. “You had betther wash it, darlin’.”

“How dar’ you say dirty to the greatest hand in Ireland?” says he, going to bate her.

“Well, it’s nat dirty,” says she.

“It is throwin away my time I have been all my life,” says he, “livin’ with you at all, and stuck at a loom, nothin’ but a poor waiver, when it is Saint George or the Dhraggin I ought to be, which is two of the siven champions of Christendom.”

“Well, suppose they christened him twice as much,” says the wife, “sure, what’s that to uz?”

“Don’t put in your prate,” says he, “you ignorant sthrap,” says he. “You’re vulgar, woman—you’re vulgar—mighty vulgar; but I’ll have nothin’ more to say to any dirty, snakin’ thrade again—sorra more waivin’ I’ll do.”

“Oh, Thady, dear, and what’ll the children do then?”

“Let them go play marvels,” says he.

“That would be but poor feedin’ for them, Thady.”

“They shan’t want feedin’?” says he, “for it’s a rich man I’ll be soon, and a great man, too.”

“Usha, but I’m glad to hear it, darlin’—though I dunno how it’s to be, but I think you had betther go to bed, Thady.”

“Don’t talk to me of any bed, but the bed o’ glory, woman,” says he, lookin’ mortial grand. “I’ll sleep with the brave yit,” says he.

“Indeed, an’ a brave sleep will do you a power o’ good, my darlin,” says she.

“And it’s I that will be a knight!” says he.

“All night, if you plaze, Thady,” says she.

“None o’ your coaxin’,” says he. “I’m detarmined on it, and I’ll set off immediately, and be a knight arriant.”

“A what?” says she.

“A knight arriant, woman.”

“What’s that?” says she.

“A knight arriant is a rale gintleman,” says he; “going round the world for sport, with a soord by his side, takin’ whatever he plazes for himself; and that’s a knight arriant,” says he.

Well, sure enough he wint about among his neighbours the next day, and he got an owld kittle from one, and a  saucepan from another, and he took them to the tailor, and he sewed him up a shuit o’ tin clothes like any knight arriant, and he borrowed a pot lid, and that he was very particular about, bekase it was his shield, and he went to a friend o’ his, a painter and glazier, and made him paint an his shield in big letthers:—

“I’M THE MAN OF ALL MIN,
THAT KILL’D THREE SCORE AND TIN
AT A BLOW.”

“When the people sees that,” says the waiver to himself, “the sorra one will dar for to come near me.”

And with that he towld the wife to scour out the small iron pot for him, “for,” says he, “it will make an illegent helmet;” and when it was done, he put it an his head, and his wife said, “Oh, murther, Thady, jewel; is it puttin’ a great, heavy, iron pot an your head you are, by way iv a hat?”

“Sartinly,” says he, “for a knight arriant should always have a weight on his brain.”

“But, Thady, dear,” says the wife, “there’s a hole in it, and it can’t keep out the weather.”

“It will be the cooler,” says he, puttin’ it an him; “besides, if I don’t like it, it is aisy to stop it with a wisp o’ sthraw, or the like o’ that.”

“The three legs of it look mighty quare, stickin’ up,” says she.

“Every helmet has a spike stickin’ out o’ the top of it,” says the waiver, “and if mine has three, it’s only the grandher it is.”

“Well,” says the wife, getting bitter at last, “all I can say is, it isn’t the first sheep’s head was dhress’d in it.”

“Your sarvint, ma’am,” says he; and off he set.

Well, he was in want of a horse, and so he wint to a field hard by, where the miller’s horse was grazin’, that used to carry the ground corn round the counthry. “This is the identical horse for me,” says the waiver; “he’s used to carryin’ flour and male, and what am I but the flower o’ shovelry in a coat o’ mail; so that the horse won’t be put out iv his way in the laste.”

So away galloped the waiver, and took the road to Dublin, for he thought the best thing he could do was to go to the King o’ Dublin (for Dublin was a great place thin, and had a King iv its own). When he got to the palace courtyard he let his horse graze about the place, for the grass was growin’ out betune the stones; everything was flourishin’ thin in Dublin, you see. Well, the King was lookin’ out of his dhrawin’-room windy, for divarshin, whin the waiver kem in; but the waiver pretended not to see him, and he wint over to the stone sate, undher the windy—for, you see, there was stone sates all round about the place, for the accommodation o’ the people—for the King was a dacent obleeging man; well, as I said, the waiver wint over and lay down an one o’ the seats, just undher the King’s windy, and purtended to go asleep; but he took care to turn out the front of his shield that had the letthers an it. Well, my dear, with that the King calls out to one of the lords of his coort that was standin’ behind him, howldin’ up the skirt of his coat, accordin’ to rayson, and, says he: “Look here,” says he, “what do you think of a vagabone like that, comin’ undher my very nose to sleep? It is thrue I’m a good king,” says he, “and I ‘commodate the people by havin’ sates for them to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and contimplation  of seein’ me here, lookin’ out a’ my dhrawin’-room windy, for divarsion; but that is no rayson they are to make a hotel o’ the place, and come and sleep here. Who is it, at all?” says the King.

“Not a one o’ me knows, plaze your majesty.”

“I think he must be a furriner,” says the King, “because his dhress is outlandish.”

“And doesn’t know manners, more betoken,” says the lord.

“I’ll go down and circumspect him myself,” says the King; “folly me,” says he to the lord, wavin’ his hand at the same time in the most dignacious manner.

Down he wint accordingly, followed by the lord; and when he wint over to where the waiver was lying, sure the first thing he seen was his shield with the big letthers an it, and with that, says he to the lord, “This is the very man I want.”

“For what, plaze your majesty?” says the lord.

“To kill the vagabone dhraggin’, to be sure,” says the King.

“Sure, do you think he could kill him,” says the lord, “when all the stoutest knights in the land wasn’t aiquil to it, but never kem back, and was ate up alive by the cruel desaiver?”

“Sure, don’t you see there,” says the king, pointin’ at the shield, “that he killed three score and tin at one blow; and the man that done that, I think, is a match for anything.”

So, with that, he wint over to the waiver and shuck him by the shouldher for to wake him, and the waiver rubbed his eyes as if just wakened, and the King says to him, “God save you,” said he.

“God save you kindly,” says the waiver, purtendin’ he was quite unknownst who he was spakin’ to.

“Do you know who I am,” says the king, “that you make so free, good man?”

“No, indeed,” says the waiver, “you have the advantage o’ me.”

“To be sure, I have,” says the king, moighty high; “sure, ain’t I the King o’ Dublin?” says he.

The waiver dhropped down on his two knees forninst the King, and, says he, “I beg your pardon for the liberty I tuk; plaze your holiness, I hope you’ll excuse it.”

“No offince,” says the King; “get up, good man. And what brings you here?” says he.

“I’m in want of work, plaze your riverence,” says the waiver.

“Well, suppose I give you work?” says the king.

“I’ll be proud to sarve you, my lord,” says the waiver.

“Very well,” says the King. “You killed three score and tin at one blow, I understan’,” says the King.

“Yis,” says the waiver; “that was the last thrifle o’ work I done, and I’m afraid my hand ‘ill go out o’ practice if I don’t get some job to do at wanst.”

“You shall have a job immediately,” says the King. “It is not three score and tin or any fine thing like that; it is only a blaguard dhraggin that is disturbin’ the counthry and ruinatin’ my tinanthry wid aitin’ their powlthry, and I’m lost for want of eggs,” said the King.

“Och, thin, plaze your worship,” says the waiver, “you look as yellow as if you swallowed twelve yolks this minit.”

“Well, I want this dhraggin to be killed,” says the  King. “It will be no trouble in life to you; and I am sorry that it isn’t betther worth your while, for he isn’t worth fearin’ at all; only I must tell you that he lives in the County Galway, in the middle of a bog, and he has an advantage in that.”

“Oh, I don’t value it in the laste,” says the waiver, “for the last three score and tin I killed was in a soft place.”

“When will you undhertake the job, thin?” says the King.

“Let me at him at wanst,” says the waiver.

“That’s what I like,” says the King, “you’re the very man for my money,” says he.

“Talkin’ of money,” says the waiver, “by the same token, I’ll want a thrifle o’ change from you for my thravellin’ charges.”

“As much as you plaze,” says the King; and with the word he brought him into his closet, where there was an owld stockin’ in an oak chest, bursting wid goolden guineas.

“Take as many as you plaze,” says the King; and sure enough, my dear, the little waiver stuffed his tin clothes as full as they could howld with them.

“Now I’m ready for the road,” says the waiver.

“Very well,” says the King; “but you must have a fresh horse,” says he.

“With all my heart,” says the waiver, who thought he might as well exchange the miller’s owld garron for a betther.

And maybe it’s wondherin’ you are that the waiver would think of goin’ to fight the dhraggin afther what he heerd about him, when he was purtendin’ to be asleep, but he had no sich notion, all he intended was—to fob  the goold, and ride back again to Duleek with his gains and a good horse. But, you see, cute as the waiver was, the King was cuter still, for these high quality, you see, is great desaivers; and so the horse the waiver was an was learned on purpose; and sure, the minit he was mounted, away powdhered the horse, and the sorra toe he’d go but right down to Galway. Well, for four days he was goin’ evermore, until at last the waiver seen a crowd o’ people runnin’ as if owld Nick was at their heels, and they shoutin’ a thousand murdhers, and cryin’—“The dhraggin, the dhraggin!” and he couldn’t stop the horse nor make him turn back, but away he pelted right forninst the terrible baste that was comin’ up to him; and there was the most nefaarious smell o’ sulphur, savin’ your presence, enough to knock you down; and, faith, the waiver seen he had no time to lose; and so threwn himself off the horse and made to a three that was growin’ nigh-hand, and away he clambered up into it as nimble as a cat; and not a minit had he to spare, for the dhraggin kem up in a powerful rage, and he devoured the horse body and bones, in less than no time; and then began to sniffle and scent about for the waiver, and at last he clapt his eye on him, where he was, up in the three, and, says he, “You might as well come down out o’ that,” says he, “for I’ll have you as sure as eggs is mate.”

“Sorra fut I’ll go down,” says the waiver.

“Sorra care I care,” says the dhraggin; “for you’re as good as ready money in my pocket this minit, for I’ll lie undher this three,” says he, “and sooner or later you must fall to my share;” and sure enough he sot down, and began to pick his teeth with his tail afther a heavy brekquest he made that mornin’ (for he ate  a whole village, let alone the horse), and he got dhrowsy at last, and fell asleep; but before he wint to sleep he wound himself all round about the three, all as one as a lady windin’ ribbon round her finger, so that the waiver could not escape.

Well, as soon as the waiver knew he was dead asleep, by the snorin’ of him—and every snore he let out of him was like a clap o’ thunder—that minit the waiver began to creep down the three, as cautious as a fox; and he was very nigh hand the bottom when a thievin’ branch he was dipindin’ an bruck, and down he fell right a top o’ the dhraggin; but, if he did, good luck was an his side, for where should he fall but with his two legs right acrass the dhraggin’s neck, and my jew’l, he laid howlt o’ the baste’s ears, and there he kept his grip, for the dhraggin wakened and endayvoured for to bite him, but, you see, by rayson the waiver was behind his ears he could not come at him, and, with that, he endayvoured for to shake him off; but not a stir could he stir the waiver; and though he shuk all the scales an his body, he could not turn the scale agin the waiver.

“Och, this is too bad, intirely,” says the dhraggin; “but if you won’t let go,” says he, “by the powers o’ wildfire, I’ll give you a ride that’ll astonish your siven small senses, my boy”; and, with that, away he flew like mad; and where do you think he did fly?—he flew sthraight for Dublin. But the waiver, bein’ an his neck, was a great disthress to him, and he would rather have had him an inside passenger; but, anyway, he flew till he kem slap up agin the palace o’ the king; for, bein’ blind with the rage, he never seen it, and he knocked his brains out—that is, the small trifle he had, and down he fell spacheless. An’ you see, good luck  would have it, that the King o’ Dublin was looking out iv his dhrawin’-room windy, for divarshin, that day also, and whin he seen the waiver ridin’ an the fiery dhraggin (for he was blazin’ like a tar barrel) he called out to his coortyers to come and see the show.

“Here comes the knight arriant,” says the King, “ridin’ the dhraggin that’s all a-fire, and if he gets into the palace, yiz must be ready wid the fire ingines,” says he, “for to put him out.”

But when they seen the dhraggin fall outside, they all run downstairs and scampered into the palace yard for to circumspect the curiosity; and by the time they got down, the waiver had got off o’ the dhraggin’s neck; and runnin’ up to the King, says he—

“Plaze, your holiness, I did not think myself worthy of killin’ this facetious baste, so I brought him to yourself for to do him the honour of decripitation by your own royal five fingers. But I tamed him first, before I allowed him the liberty for to dar’ to appear in your royal prisince, and you’ll oblige me if you’ll just make your mark with your own hand upon the onruly baste’s neck.” And with that, the King, sure enough, dhrew out his swoord and took the head aff the dirty brute, as clane as a new pin.

Well, there was great rejoicin’ in the coort that the dhraggin was killed; and says the King to the little waiver, says he—

“You are a knight arriant as it is, and so it would be no use for to knight you over agin; but I will make you a lord,” says he “and as you are the first man I ever heer’d tell of that rode a dhraggin, you shall be called Lord Mount Dhraggin’,” says he.

“And where’s my estates, plaze your holiness?”  says the waiver, who always had a sharp look-out afther the main chance.

“Oh, I didn’t forget that,” says the King. “It is my royal pleasure to provide well for you, and for that rayson I make you a present of all the dhraggins in the world, and give you power over them from this out,” says he.

“Is that all?” says the waiver.

“All!” says the king. “Why, you ongrateful little vagabone, was the like ever given to any man before?”

“I believe not, indeed,” says the waiver; “many thanks to your majesty.”

“But that is not all I’ll do for you,” says the king, “I’ll give you my daughter, too, in marriage,” says he.

Now, you see, that was nothin’ more than what was promised the waiver in his first promise; for, by all accounts, the King’s daughter was the greatest dhraggin ever was seen.