Pat and the Fox by Samuel Lover

 

Paddy," said the squire, "perhaps you would favor the gentleman with that story you told me once about a fox?"

"Indeed and I will, plaze yer honor," said Paddy, "though I know full well the divil a one word iv it you b'lieve, nor the gintlemen won't either, though you're axin' me for it—but only want to laugh at me, and call me a big liar when my back's turned."

"Maybe we wouldn't wait for your back being turned, Paddy, to honor you with that title."

"Oh, indeed, I'm not sayin' that you wouldn't do it as soon foreninst my face, yer honor, as you often did before, and will agin, plaze God, and welkim."

"Well, Paddy, say no more about that, but let's have the story."

"Sure I'm losing no time, only telling the gintlemen beforehand that it's what they'll be callin' it, a lie—and indeed it's ancommon, sure enough; but you see, gintlemen, you must remimber that the fox is the cunnin'est baste in the world, barrin' the wran——"

Here Paddy was questioned why he considered the wren as cunning a baste as the fox.

"Why, sir, bekase all the birds build their nest wid one hole to it only, excep'n the wran; but the wran builds two holes to the nest, and so that if any inimy comes to disturb it upon one door it can go out an the other. But the fox is cute to that degree that there's many mortial a fool to him—and, by dad, the fox could by and sell many a Christian, as you'll soon see by-and-by, when I tell you what happened to a wood-ranger that I knew wanst, and a dacent man he was, and wouldn't say the thing in a lie.

"Well, you see, he kem home one night mighty tired—for he was out wid a party in the domain cock-shootin' that day; and whin he got back to his lodge he threw a few logs o' wood an the fire to make himself comfortable, and he tuk whatever little matther he had for his supper—and afther that he felt himself so tired that he wint to bed. But you're to understand that, though he wint to bed, it was more for to rest himself like, than to sleep, for it was airly; and so he jist wint into bed, and there he divarted himself lookin' at the fire, that was blazin' as merry as a bonfire an the hearth.

"Well, as he was lyin' that-a-way, jist thinkin' o' nothin' at all, what should come into the place but a fox. But I must tell you, what I forgot to tell you, before, that the ranger's house was on the bordhers o' the wood, and he had no one to live wid him but himself, barrin' the dogs that he had the care iv, that was his only companions, and he had a hole cut an the door, with a swingin' boord to it, that the dogs might go in or out accordin' as it plazed thim; and, by dad, the fox kem in as I told you, through the hole in the door, as bould as a ram, and walked over to the fire, and sat down foreninst it.

"Now it was mighty provokin' that all the dogs  was out; they wor rovin' about the wood, you see, lookin for to catch rabbits to ate, or some other mischief, and so it happened that there wasn't as much as one individual dog in the place; and, by gor, I'll go bail the fox knew that right well before he put his nose inside the ranger's lodge.

"Well, the ranger was in hopes some o' the dogs id come home and ketch the chap, and he was loath to stir hand or fut himself, afeared o' frightenin' away the fox, but by gor, he could hardly keep his timper at all at all, whin he seen the fox take his pipe aff o' the hob where he left it afore he wint to bed, and puttin' the bowl o' the pipe into the fire to kindle it (it's as thrue as I'm here), he began to smoke foreninst the fire, as nath'ral as any other man you ever seen.

"'Musha, bad luck to your impidence, you long-tailed blackguard,' says the ranger, 'and is it smokin' my pipe you are? Oh, thin, by this and by that, iv I had my gun convaynient to me, it's fire and smoke of another sort, and what you wouldn't bargain for, I'd give you,' says he. But still he was loath to stir, hopin the dogs id come home; and 'By gor, my fine fellow,' says he to the fox, 'if one o' the dogs comes home, saltpethre wouldn't save you, and that's a sthrong pickle.'

"So with that he watched antil the fox wasn't mindin' him, but was busy shakin' the cindhers out o' the pipe whin he was done wid it, and so the ranger thought he was goin' to go immediately afther gettin an air o' the fire and a shough o' the pipe; and so, says he, 'Faix, my lad, I won't let you go so aisy as all that, as cunnin' as you think yourself;' and with that he made a dart out o' bed, and run over to the door, and got betune it and the fox, 'And now,' says he, 'your bread's baked, my buck, and maybe my lord won't have a fine run out o' you,  and the dogs at your brish every yard, you morodin' thief, and the divil mind you,' says he, 'for your impidence—for sure, if you hadn't the impidence of a highwayman's horse it's not into my very house, undher my nose, you'd daar for to come:' and with that he began to whistle for the dogs; and the fox, that stood eyein' him all the time while he was spakin', began to think it was time to be joggin' whin he heard the whistle—and says the fox to himself, 'Troth, indeed, you think yourself a mighty great ranger now,' says he, 'and you think you're very cute, but upon my tail, and that's a big oath, I'd be long sorry to let such a mallet-headed bog-throtter as yourself take a dirty advantage o' me, and I'll engage,' says the fox, 'I'll make you lave the door soon and suddint,'—and with that he turned to where the ranger's brogues was lyin' hard by beside the fire, and, what would you think, but the fox tuk one o' the brogues, and wint over to the fire, and threw it into it.

"'I think that'll make you start,' says the fox.

"'Divil resave the start,' says the ranger—'that won't do, my buck,' says he, 'the brogue may burn to cindhers,' says he, 'but out o' this I won't stir;' and thin, puttin' his fingers into his mouth, he gev a blast of a whistle you'd hear a mile off, and shouted for the dogs.

"'So that won't do,' says the fox—'well, I must thry another offer,' says he, and with that he tuk up the other brogue, and threw it into the fire too.

"'There, now,' says he, 'you may keep the other company,' says he; 'and there's a pair o' you now, as the divil said to his knee-buckles.'

"'Oh, you thievin' varment,' says the ranger, 'you won't lave me a tack to my feet; but no matter,' says he, 'your head's worth more nor a pair  o' brogues to me any day, and by the Piper of Blessintown, you're money in my pocket this minit,' says he: and with that, the fingers was in his mouth agin, and he was goin' to whistle, whin, what would you think, but up sets the fox on his hunkers, and puts his two fore-paws into his mouth, makin' game o' the ranger—(bad luck to the lie I tell you.)

"'Well, the ranger, and no wondher, although in a rage as he was, couldn't help laughin' at the thought o' the fox mockin' him, and, by dad, he tuk sitch a fit o' laughin' that he couldn't whistle—and that was the 'cuteness o' the fox to gain time; but whin his first laugh was over, the ranger recovered himself, and gev another whistle; and so says the fox, 'By my soul,' says he, 'I think it wouldn't be good for my health to stay here much longer, and I mustn't be triflin' with that blackguard ranger any more,' says he, 'and I must make him sensible that it is time to let me go, and though he hasn't understandin' to be sorry for his brogues, I'll go bail I'll make him lave that,' says he, 'before he'd say sparables'—and with that what do you think the fox done? By all that's good—and the ranger himself told me out iv his own mouth, and said he would never have b'lieved it, ownly he seen it—the fox tuk a lighted piece iv a log out o' the blazin' fire, and run over wid it to the ranger's bed, and was goin' to throw it into the sthraw, and burn him out of house and home; so when the ranger seen that he gev a shout out iv him—

"'Hillo! hillo! you murtherin' villain,' says he, 'you're worse nor Captain Rock; is it goin' to burn me out you are, you red rogue iv a Ribbonman?" and he made a dart betune him and the bed, to save the house from bein' burnt,—but, my jew'l, that was all the fox wanted—and as soon as the ranger quitted the hole in the door that he was standin'  foreninst, the fox let go the blazin' faggit, and made one jump through the door and escaped.

"But before he wint, the ranger gev me his oath that the fox turned round and gev him the most contemptible look he ever got in his life, and showed every tooth in his head with laughin', and at last he put out his tongue at him, as much as to say—'You've missed me like your mammy's blessin',' and off wid him, like a flash o' lightnin'."