The Native and the Odd Fish by Anonymous
Mick Maguire is a native of these parts, and he's out and out the oddest
fish among my neighbours, as I think, and as you'll think too, may be,
by-and-by, when I tell you more about him.—Didn't it ever occur to
you, that a man may be ruined by a bit of good luck as well as by bad?—I'm
sure it must.—I had an uncle at Tralee, who was left seventy pounds
by his wife's gossip; and he welcomed the gift so warmly, and caroused so
heartily to the honour of the giver, that he never ceased drinking and
losing his time,—though he was a dacent man, and did business as he
ought before,—until the seventy pounds, and a little to the tail of
it, had slipped through his fingers. But that wasn't the end of it: for he
got such bad habits as he never could shake off again; so he lived a few
years a sot, and died a beggar: all which wouldn't have happened but for
the seventy pounds his wife's gossip gave him.—I knew a young woman,
whose name I won't mention, for the sake of her family, who lost herself
entirely through a love of fine clothes, which she had never cared more
about, than just a little, as all women do,—and no blame to them,—before
her brother, who sailed for three years in the same ship with me, brought
her home a little bag of silks and things above her station, which, when
she'd worn them, made her despise her plain, honest, ould duds: but them
that was about her couldn't give her better; so she grew sick of home, and
did that she was sore at heart for when she came to a death-bed.—Ah!
then's the time, if we never did before, when we know right from wrong;—then's
the time, when the brain balances things and gives true weight to all our
misdeeds;—then's the time, when a man, who could never before
recollect what he did that day se'nnight, remembers all the evil he has
done in his days, and all the good he might have done, but wouldn't. A
dying man's memory, if he has been a bad one, is one of the most perfect
and terrible things in the world;—go see one yourself, and you'll
own it. We may be'cute enough to hide what we do from the world all our
lives, but we can't do so from ourselves when death puts out his big bony
paw to give us a grim welcome to his dark dominions. We may be'cute enough
to shut our own eyes to what we've done, when we're strong and able, and
the world's going merrily round with us; and we may be fools enough to
think that our sins are blotted out when we have forgotten them;—for
I've found that men are just like the ostriches I've seen myself, in
Africa, which, when they're hunted, poke their pates into a dark place,
leaving their bodies entirely exposed, and fancy no one can see them if
they can't see themselves:—but when we know that the last sands in
our glass are running, and the dead sea is glimmering before us, we can't
poke our heads into a corner,—don't you see?—or tie a stone to
the neck of each of our iniquities, and drown it;—or look another
way, and think of to-morrow's dinner, when they're coming to meet us;—or
silence their small but very terrible voices, by whistling the burthen of
an old song: for,—do you mark?—they won't be served so: they
will be seen; they will speak; and, faith! it's bear them we must, whether
we will or no. We may have fancied them dead and gone, years ago; but
their ghosts start up and surround our death-beds, and clamour so, that we
can't but listen to them: and what's most awful, they make a man his own
judge; and no earthly judge is so impartial as a man is of himself, when
his people are just wishing him good-b'ye for ever. For when we get on the
brink of life and death, and know that it's ten to one we'll be dead by
the morning, and it's just midnight already;—when we think that in a
few hours our ears will be deaf, and our eyes blind, and we can't wag a
finger, and our cold white corpse will be stretched out on a board,—motionless,
helpless, good for nothing, and lumber more than anything else;—when
we know, that, much as we thought of ourselves, the sun will rise, and the
birds sing, and the flowers look beautiful, and the ox be yoked to the
plough, and the chimneys smoke, and the pot be boiled, and the world go on
without us, as well as if we'd never been in it;—then's the time, I
say, we get our vanity cut up by the roots, and feel what atoms we've been
in it:—and then's the time too, that the soul,—just before
pluming her wings, and having half shaken off the dross of humanity,—becomes
strong as the body gets weak, and won't be bamboozled, but calls up all
our sins past, and places them stedfastly before our eyes; and if we've
done wrong—that is, much of it,—a big black bird stretches out
her great wings and flutters, brooding like a weight of cold lead, on our
hearts; and conscience, though we've contrived to keep her down all our
lives, then starts up, taking advantage of our helplessness, and reigns in
fall power.—But what's all this to Mick Maguire? you'll say.—Faith!
then, not much: I began with an idea of getting to him in a few words, but
was led astray, by noticing the death of the young woman I mentioned as
being ruined by the gift of a brother, who meant it for her good. And
you'll think it odd, may be, that the likes o' me casts over things so
sariously: but I do, and there's nothing plazes me more than so doing,
when I'm left alone here by myself, for hours and hours together, while
all that's near and dear to me is out upon the waves, the mighty roar of
which, as they break upon the rocks about me, I hear night and day; and
the sound o' them, and solitude, begets sarious thoughts; and so they
should, in one that's gone sixty. There's never a day but I think o'
death, so that I'm sure I'll be able to meet him firmly when he knocks at
the gates of life for me, and bids me come. If I could go about, I'd not
have such oceans of odd, out o' the way thoughts, consarning various
things; but here I am, fettered by my infirmities to an ould chair, and
I've nothing to do half my time, but think. Don't imagine, though, that
I'm laid up in a harbour of peace, or that the other half of my time is
calm and pleasant: it's no such thing; the woes and the wickedness of the
world—good luck to it though, for all that—reaches me here in
this corner, though it's harm me they can't much. I'm like an ould buoy,
fast moored to an anchor on a bad coast, over which the waves dashes and
splashes all day long, but they can neither move it nor damage it. But
what's all this to Mick Maguire? you'll say, again. Faith! then, little or
nothing: but now I've done, and we'll get on.
Mick, like my uncle at Tralee, has been ruined by a gift. He was once a
hard-working man, and did well; until young Pierce Veogh, just after he
came into possession of the house that's called "The Beg," on the hill
yonder,—which he did at his father's death,—gave Mick an ould
gun once, for something I forget; and that gun has been the ruin of him.
He works one day in the week to buy powder and shot; and half starves
himself, and goes in rags the other six, prowling about the rocks, and
firing at sea-gulls and so forth, but seldom shooting one.
Mick's an oddity, as I tould you before; and why so? you'll say.
Why, then, not for his face, for he's good-looking; nor for his figure,
for he's straight and well built; nor for his jokes, for he never makes
one; nor for any one thing in the world but his always telling the plain
naked truth; good or bad, no matter if it harms him, he don't mind, but
always spakes the thing that is, and won't tell even a white lie for
himself, much more for any one else:—and if that's not an oddity, I
don't know what is. There's so much lying going on in the world, that if a
man just lives in a corner, and sees only three people in the year, he
must lie now and then; or, somehow, things won't be as they should be; he
won't do like them that's about him, and can't get on: why, I don't know;
but so it is. Mick was never known to tell a story in his whole life; but
he has sworn to so many out o' the way things, that he's often been
suspected to be a big liar: for I need scarce say to you, that nothing can
look more like a lie sometimes than the plain truth. But whatever Mick
says, always at last and in the long run turns out to be fact: so that we
don't know what to think of the story he has of the fairy he saw on the
rocks long ago. It seems as much like a lie as anything ever I heard; but
if it is one, it's the first Mick tould; and if so, troth then, it's a
thumper. And why shouldn't it?—A good man, when he does wrong,
commits a big sin; while you and I only does dozens of little ones: and
them that sticks by the truth in general, if they happens to tell a lie,
faith! then, it's a wonderful big one;—and, may be, so is Mick's
story;—but you'll judge for yourself, when you hear it. But don't
forget the honesty of Mick's tongue; and bear in mind too, that we
shouldn't disbelieve anything simply because it's out of the way to us,
and we never saw the likes of it ourselves; for there's so many strange
things in the world, that one don't know what to disbelieve; and of all
the wonderful things I ever heard of, there's none seems to me so very
wonderful as this, namely:—I exist, and I know it. Now for Mick's
"One day," says he, "as I was out shooting on the black rocks, I clambered
up to a place where I never was before; and I don't think man had set foot
upon it till then: it was higher than you'd think, looking up from the
sea, which washed the foot of it; for the great crag itself, which none of
us can climb,—I mane that one where the eagle's nist is,—seemed
to be below it. Well, thinks I, when I got to the top, I'll have a good
pelt at the birds from this, I'm sure: but no, I couldn't; for though they
were flying round and round it, divil a one would come within gun-shot,
but kipt going about, and going about, until the head o' me wint round wid
looking at them, and I began to feel sick, for I'd come out before
breakfast, not intinding to stay long; but somehow, I wint further and
further, and, at last, the sun was going down, and me there, where I tould
you I was, a-top of the big crag. 'Michael,' says I to meeself, 'it's time
for you to be going too, for the birds won't come near you; and you're
hungry, boy,—so you are, Mick; you can't deny that.' And it's true
thin I couldn't; for I never was hungrier in my life, than I was that
time, and sorrow the thing in my pocket softer than a flint. Well, thin I
began to go down; but before I'd got twinty steps, what do you think I saw
there, upon the bare rock, where nobody seemed to have been before me,
near upon half a day's journey higher than the sea,—what, I say, do
you think I saw, lying before me there You wouldn't guess in a year. Why
thin it was an oysther!—I started, as though a ghost had come across
me:—and why wouldn't I?—for I'd no right to expect to see such
a thing as an oysther there, you know, had I?—Thinks I, after
awhile, 'Here's a fine mouthful for you, Mick, if it's only fresh; but,
may be, it's been here these thousand years.—Eh, thin, Mick! but
you're lucky, so you are, if it should be ateable.'
"Sitting down on the rock, I put out my hand to get a hould of it, whin
what does it do, but lifts up its shell of its ownself!—and there
was something inside it, just like an oysther, you'd think; but whin you
looked closer, what was it thin, but a small dwarf of a man, wid a beard,
and a little broad belly, and two short, fat, little darlings of legs, and
his both hands in his breeches pockets; quite at home, and as aisy as you
or I'd be in our arm chair, if we had one.
"'I'm glad to see you, Mick,' says he; 'it's long I've been expecting
"Now, there's many that would have run away, and broke their necks down
the rock, at hearing the crature call them by their names, and say this;
but I'm one that never feared Banshee Lepreghaun, or any one of the little
people, good, bad, or indifferent;—why should I?—So I pulled
off my hat, and making a leg to him,—'Sir,' says I, 'if I'd known as
much, I'd have come before.'
"'Thank you kindly, Mick Maguire,' says he. 'No thanks to me thin, at all
at all,' thinks I, 'if you knew what I know:' for I was determined to
devour him, if he was ateable. 'And it's by my own name you call me, sir,'
says I, 'is it?'
"'To be sure it is,' says he; you wouldn't have me call you out of your
name,—would you?'—And thin he fell laughing, as though his
little face would have tumbled to pieces: and, faith! of all the faces I
ever set eyes on, I never saw the likes of his for a roguish look.—'You
wouldn't have me call you out of your name, would you, Mick?' says he
"'Why, thin, no I wouldn't, and that's truth,' says I; 'but what's your
own name? I'd like to know, so I would,' says L "'I dare say you would,'
"'And after that,' says I, 'I'd be glad if you'd tell me a small trifle
about yourself, and how you live in your little house there, whin you shut
down the roof of it; and thin—'
"'Bad manners to you Mick,' says he; 'don't be prying into a person's
domestic arrangements.'—Them were his words. 'Mind your own
business,' says he; 'and ax me no questions about mee-self; for, may be, I
won't answer them.'
"'But, sir,' says I, thinking to get all I could out of him, before I ate
him; 'sir,' says I, 'it isn't every day one sees, betuxt a pair of
"'Oh! Mick!' says he, 'there's more out o' the way things than meeself, in
"'I shouldn't wonder, sir,' says I.
"'There is, Mick,' says he; 'take my word for it.'
"'I'm sure of it, sir,' says I; 'and yet people says there's no mermaids
even: now meeself saw one once, and she'd a fish's tail, and big fins
below; and above she was as like a man, as one brogue is like another.
Now, sir, I'd like to know your opinion.'
"'Mick,' says he; 'was it in the bay yourself saw the mermaid?'
"'Faith! and it was,' says I.
"'Just four years ago,' says he, 'Mick?'
"'Just,' says I; 'come St. Breedien's day; for it was the very week Jimmy
Gorman was drowned, so it was: his wife married Tim Carroll, tin months
after his wake,—for we waked Jimmy, though he wasn't at home, and
drank long life to our absent friend, in the pitcher o' pothien he left in
the cupboard,—so we did:—and she has now three children, by
Tim; and Maurien, the little one, is two months ould, barring a week, or
thereaway; and three nines is twinty-siven, and tin is tin more,—that's
thirty-siven, and three months betuxt and betune each o' the children,
makes nine more, that's forty-six: thin there's Maurien, she's two months
ould, as I said; so that, taking them together, there's forty-eight
months, one up or one down, and that many months is four years:—so
that, by the rules of multiplication and population, Jimmy's dead four
years—don't you see?'
"'Arrah! don't be preaching,' says he; 'sure, meeself knew Jimmy well.'
"'Ah! and is it yourself?' says I; 'and was he on visiting terms wid ye?'
"'I knew him better than ever you did in your life, Mick,' says he.
"'Not a bit of it,' says I; 'did you ever spend your money wid him, like
meeself, at the sheebeen-house?—or at the pattarn there above, with
the penny-whiff woman? Did you ever once trate him to a glass o' whiskey,
sir?' says I;—'not yourself, in starch.'
"'Mick,' says he, 'Jimmy and I lay in one bed for seven months.'
"'In one bed!'
"'In a bed of oysthers, may be!'
"'It was,' says he.
"'Oh! thin, well and good, sir,' says I; 'but what has Jimmy to do with
"'Mick,' says he, 'the mermaid yourself saw below in the bay was him.'
"'Is it Jim?—And now I recollect—what's as true as that my
daddy Jack's a corpse,—the mermaid, sure enough, had a carrotty
pole, and two whiskers, and a big jacket, to say nothing of the bradien,
though they wouldn't believe me,—so they wouldn't; but betuxt
ourselves, sir, by this pipe in my fist, she was dacently clothed as
meeself, barring the breeches. Oh! thin, divil a saw saw I of breeches
about her; and her legs,—sure, and wasn't her legs a fish? and
didn't meeself say so?'
"'Very well, Mick,' says he; 'I'll explain it to you:—a big
blackguard of a shark, that was on a travelling tour, happened to be going
that way when Jim's boat was upset, and gobbled him up just as he got into
the water: but, lo and behould! whin he'd got Jim's legs down his throat,
and came to his bradien and big belly, divil a swallow could the shark
swallow him:—and there Jim stuck so fast, that if the shark had
taken fifty emetics before-hand, he couldn't have cast him up.—With
that, Jim, finding his situation unpleasant, began to kick; and the shark,
with that, tickled Jim's ribs with his teeth; but he couldn't bite clane
through his big coat,—and the more Jim kicked, the more the shark
tickled him; and up they wint, and down they wint; and my belief is, that
Jim would have bate him, but the fish got suffocated, and sunk, just as
Jim was gitting a pull at the whiskey-bottle, which he carried in his side
pouch; and down they wint together, so sudden, that Jim, taken up as he
was with the taste of the crature, didn't know he was drowned till they
were both at the bottom.'
"'Was Jimmy and the shark, the mermaid meeself saw thin?' says I.
"'They was, Mick.'
"'Thin bad luck to the pair o' them,' says I, 'for two impostors!—And
how did your honour know this?'
"'Wasn't I in the shark's belly all the time?' says he.—'Didn't he
gobble me up with a salmon, that tried to take refuge in the place where
meeself and a few friends laid tin days before?—A lobsther lived in
Jim's pocket for a month; and he and all his family used to go out three
days a week to pull Jim's nose, for fishing up two of their cousins once,—so
they did.—I'd thank ye for a pinch of snuff.'
"'And welcome, sir,' says I, houlding over the snisheen; 'meeself likes to
hear news of my friends, sir,' says I; 'would your honour plaze to take a
shaugh o' the doothien too?' And politeness, you know, made me offer him
"'Mick,' says he; 'is it meeself, or the likes o' me, that smokes?—I
never took a goll o' the peepa in all my life:—and over and above
that, Mick, I'd feel mightily obliged to you, if you'd blow your smoke
higher, or be just ginteel and agreeable enough to sit the other side o'
me: if you don't, you're a dirty blackguard, and bad luck to you, sir,'
says he; 'for I've no chimney to my house.' With that, I just knocked out
the backy from the pipe, and tould him, I didn't mind meeself, and I'd put
away smoking at once.
"'Mick,' says he, 'you'd nothing but ashes in your doothien; so the
divil's thanks to you!'
"'Sir,' says I, not noticing what he said,' that's a mighty nate little
house you have of your own; I'd like to know who built it.' "'Faith! thin
I did meeself, Mick,' says he; 'but I'd like your big finger the better,
if it was outside my door.'
"'Sir,' says I, 'if I'd such a nate little cabin, I'd marry Molly Malony
at once. Doesn't your honour ever think of getting a wife?—or, may
be, you're a widower?'
"'Mick,' says he, 'oysthers don't marry.'
"'Ye live mighty like a hermit, in your cell there,' says I.
"'Mighty like,' says he.
"'I suppose, you have your beads too, and you count them,' says I.
"'I suppose I don't,' says he; 'for I've but one.'
"'Troth, and that's a thumper thin,' says I, peeping into his little
parlour: and there, sure enough, was a pearl big enough to be the making
of me, and all the seed and breed of me, past, present, and to come,
hanging by a bit of sea-weed round his neck.
"'Do you know what, Mick?' says he; I'm sick o' the world, Mick; and I'm
half inclined to give you lave to ate me.'
"'Sir,' says I, taking off my hat, 'I'm much obliged to you for nothing at
all. It's meeself manes to ate your honour, with or without lave,—so
"'Is it yourself, Mick?'
"'Faith! and it is thin,—though I say it; for I'm hungry:—and,
after that, I mane to take the big pearl, I see there about your neck.'
"'Mick, you're a reprobate!—Sure, you would'nt be so un-genteel, as
to ate a gentleman against his own inclination, would you?'
"'Meeself would thin, and think it no sin, in case the gentleman was a
plump little oysther, like your honour.'
"'Then, Mick, I wish you good evening!'
"'Oh, joy!' says I, seeing how he was going to shut himself in; 'it's of
no use, sir, to do so:—I've a knife in my pocket, and it's not
burglary in this country to break into the house of an oysther.'
"'Mick,' says he; 'an oysther's house is his castle.'
"'Castle I' says I; 'is it a castle?—two shells, with a little face
in the middle o' them, a castle?—Thin what's my cabin below but a
"'A pig's palace, it is, Mick,' says he.
"'Musha! bad luck thin,' says 1, 'to every bit of you—'
"'Ah! Mick,' says he, interrupting me, 'if I was half your size, I'd bate
you blue, so I would.—You're a dirty cur, and so was your father
"'Say that again,' says I; 'say my father was a cur, sir, again, and I'd
be obliged to you:—just say it now, and see how soon I'll break
every bone in your skin.'
"'Bone!' says he; 'sorrow the bit of bone is in me at all!' says he.—'Do
you know anything of anatomy, Mick?'
"'An atomy!—that's a thing smaller than a mite, isn't it?'
"'Arrah! no, man: don't you know what nerves and muscles manes?'
"'Nerves meeself knows little about; but is it muscles? Och! thin, didn't
I get a bag-full below on the beach, this day se'nnight? Tell me, sir, if
you plaze,—is a muscle any relation to your honour?'
"'Ah! Mick,' says he; 'would you insult me?—sure we trace our
pedigree up to the days of King Fergus; and the muscles wasn't known for
whole ages after: they're fishes of yesterday,—mushrooms o' the
ocean:—d—n the one o'thim knows whether or no he ever had a
great-grandmother!—Mick, this is a bad upstart world we live in.'
"'It is,' says I; 'people thinks o' nobody but just their ownselves; and
doesn't mind what inconvaniency they puts their fellow-cratures to, so as
they ar'n't harried thimselves.'
"'True,' says he, 'Mick:—did you ever rade o' the Romans?'
"'I'm a Roman meeself, sir.'
"'Phugh!' says he; 'it's of rulligion ye're spaking!—I mane the ould
Romans,—Romulus and Rebus,—Brutus and Brian Bora,—that
sacrificed themselves for the good of their country:—thim's the
examples we ought to follow, Mick! We should help our fellow-cratures too,
in necessity, if it lies in our power; and not stand, shilly-shally,
thinking and turning it over whether it will be to our advantage or not.'
"'Sir,' says I, 'your honour spakes my own sintimints; and sure never
could a finer time come for practising what you preach, than now.—Luck
up, your honour,—luck up, and see meeself, a poor fellow-crature, in
distress fora mouthful;—I'm a part o' my country, and you're an
Irishman born, I'll be sworn.' "'Mick,' says he; 'that's a different sort
of a thing, intirely.'
"'Not at all,' says I; 'it's a case in point.'
"'Well, Mick,' says he; 'thin I will,—I will sacrifice meeself.'
"'And no thanks to you, sir,' says I; 'you know you'd be sacrificed by me,
whether you sacrificed yourself or no. Ah, ah!' "'Ha, ha!' says he;
'that's true; and it's the way o' the world, Mick.'
"'And may be, sir,' says I, 'thim Romans yourself spoke about—'
"'Blarney and humbug, Mick!—blarney and humbug!—They did just
what Shawn O' Shaugnessy did, while ago,—jump overboard to show his
bravery, when he knew the ship was sinking.—But don't be in a hurry,
Mick,' says he, seeing me licking my lips, and getting nearer him;—'although,
Mick, I have no wish to live; for an oysther's life is a sad one, Mick.'
"'Ah! sir,' says I, 'and so is Mick Maguire's.'
"'I've every wish in the world to travel into all foreign parts.' "'And so
have I, sir.'
"'But a snail's better off than I am.—Can't he take a trip, with his
house on his back, and look about him whin he likes?' "'That's just my own
case,' says I; 'there's John Carroll, the pedlar, takes his pack on his
shoulther, and travels from Clonmell to Carrick,—from Carrick to
Stradbally, and all over the rest of the world, two or three times a
"'Oh! musha! Mick,' says he, 'don't grumble; you're not half so bad off as
I am:—it's tied by the back, I am, to the floor of my house, and I
can't stir a foot.'
"'It isn't much money yourself spinds in brogues and stockings, thin,'
says I.—'Ah! thim brogues ates a man out of house and home,
intirely!—Does your honour know one Darby Walsh, a brogue-maker?'
"'No, I don't.'
"'Then, mark this, sir,' says I; 'if ever you shake the fist of him,
you'll have a rogue in your gripe.'
"'I knew one Jack Walsh,' says he,'at Calcutta?'
"'And was your honour ever at Calcutta?' says I.
"'I was once, Mick,' says he: 'I wint out in a porpus, who very politely
gave me an inside place for nothing: but, arrah! Mick, I was obliged to
work my way home.'
"'Did you know one Tiddy Maguire, in the East Indies?' says I.
"'No; but I heard talk of him.'
"'He was a brother of mine, sir; and though I've axed every body that ever
come from thim parts, if they knew one Tiddy Maguire, in the East Indies,
divil a ha'p'orth o' news could ever I get about him before!—Will I
tell your honour a story about Tiddy?—Sure, I will thin:—Tiddy
was a boy that used to be given to walking in his sleep;—he'd go
miles about, and bring home people's little pigs and poultry; and be all
the while innocent of theft—quite intirely,—so he said, any
how. Well! to make a long story short, one night Tiddy was awoke by a
great knock on the head, abroad there in Morty Flynn's backyard, with a
sucker from the ould sow's side, in his hand;—how it came there,
Tiddy never could give any satisfactory account. Whin he got home,—'Arrah!
Tid,' says I, 'what happened you, man?—and who's been braking the
face of you?' And sure enough, the blood was streaming through his hair
like a brook among underwood. 'Morty Flynn,' says he, 'struck me while
ago.' 'Arrah! man, and had you nothing in your hand to defind yourself
wid?' says I 'Troth! and I had thin,' says he; 'but what's a sucking-pig
in a man's fist to a dung-shovel?'
"'But, sir,' says I to the oysther, 'it's high time we should be better
acquainted:—by your lave, sir,' says I, taking out my skean dubh,
and a fine knife it was;—'by your lave, sir—'
"'Luck up, luck up, Mick!' says he.
"Meeself lucked up, as he bid me, and the curse of Cromwell on the crow
that was flying over my head just thin;—the bird was bastely enough
to dirt the face o' me;—down it fell, just thin as I lucked up,
exactly betuxt my two eyes. I was in a terrible rage, you may guess; but
hark to what a fool I was:—instid of getting my gun, and shooting
the blackguard, what did meeself do, in the heat of the moment, but pick
up the oysther, and away wid it at him, thinking to knock a hole in his
"'Caw!' says he, sailing off; 'caw-aw!' grinning at me.
"'Caw-aw!' says the oysther, says he to me too, from a ledge o' the rock
below me, where he fell; 'caw-aw, Mick!—more sinse and bad luck to
"'Ah! sir,' says I, putting a good face on the matter, and thinking
whether or no I could get at him;—'ah! sir,' says I, 'did you think
I'd be bad enough to devour you?'
"'Faith! you would, Mick,' says he.
"'Wasn't I polite?'
"'Mighty; and may you break your neck going home, Mick! Your brother Tiddy
was transported in the East Indies; your father wouldn't fight for his
faction; your aunt had a child, that was sent to the foundling, at Dublin;
your cousin Jim is a tithe-proctor:—you're a bad set, egg and bird:—your
sister's husband is a swaddler; and your own father's mother-in-law's
first cousin hung a priest, Mick: moreover—'
"'Hould your tongue, you villain!' says I, levelling my gun at him. 'Hould
your tongue, or Til blow you to atoms!'
"'Who cares for you?' says he. 'Didn't you steal the shot your gun is
loaded wid?—Answer me that.'
"'I will,' says I, pulling the trigger, and knocking his house from the
ledge, plump into the sea.
"'I've done for you now, ould gentleman, I think,' says I.
"'No, you haven't, Mick,' says he, peeping out of his shell, as he was
falling; 'you've done just what I wanted. A grate big bird carried me up
where you found me; he couldn't open me though, and left me there where I
was; and instid of having done for me, you've sint me home, Mick,' says
he, 'to my own bed, you blackguard; for which I'm mighty obliged,—and
bad luck to you, Mick!' says he, as he sunk in the sea:—and from
that day to this, meeself never set eyes on the little man in the
oysther-shells,—though it's often I drame about him, and of what he
said to me above on the crag there."