The Mushroom by Anonymous
About six o'clock, or, may be, a quarter less, on a wet summer's evening,
all of a sudden the sun peeped out from behind a cloud,—as Corney
Carolan said,—looking half ashamed to shew his face, after his bad
behaviour all day,—and just cast a glance across the bog, to see who
was that so merry and musical in Luke Fogarty's car, bating the garron
that dragged it along, with his wooden leg in lieu of a whip. Who was it,
then, but the piper of Drogheda, Coraey Carolan himself, coming from a
wedding, away somewhere in the hills, where he'd been drinking whiskey
galore, and playing his pipes, night and morning, for the biggest half of
a week! Luke Fogarty had sent his son Rory with the car that morning, to
bring home the piper, dead or alive; for it was whispered by many, that
great things would be doing in a day or two at our place here; who by, or
why for, nobody well knew; but there was to be drinking and dancing:—and
what would drinking or dancing be without himself?—I mane Corney the
The sun drew in his horns again,—if you'd believe Carolan,—as
soon as he saw it was his ould friend the piper; but he shone quite long
enough for Corney to discover that the big mile-stone, put up at the edge
of the bog, by mad Henniker, years ago, to judge by the shadow it cast
across the road, wasn't anything like its ordinary shape. Corney couldn't
make out at all what it meant, or why it was; but, as the car got nearer
the mile-stone, the piper perceived that it carried an umbrella.
"Well, to be sure, it's rainy enough, so it is," says Corney; "but
mile-stones, I thought, was made to stand wind and weather. Is that any
one's umbrella there on Henniker's mile-stone?—Be-kase if it's
nobody's, why, then, I'll get it."
The umbrella began to move, and presently Corney discovered that a
gentleman and his dog was beneath it. There they sat, shivering, dirty,
and making themselves as little as possible, on the top of the stone; and
barely able, the one to keep his tail, and the other the skirts of his
coat, and the lower part of his legs, out of the water; which, after it
rained unusually hard,—as it did that day,—got together in a
pool round the stone, and sometimes rose over it entirely.
"Come out o' that," said Corney to the gentleman; "come away at once, sir;
and don't be sitting that way on Henniker's folly all night! May be you're
Henniker himself, though,—and then, no wonder."
The gentleman replied, as well as his shivering would let him, that Corney
"Then why stay there, sir?" says Corney, "when we've room on the car for
you, and the garron impatient to be going!"
"Look at the water," said the gentleman; "how am I to wade through it?"
"Is it wade?—Faith! then, you'll have to swim soon! But take your
choice, sir:—I won't persuade you one way or another."
"Where am I?" says the gentleman.
"Where are you!—Why, then, look at the side of the stone, and
you'll see, cut in legible letters,'nine miles from anywhere and no
mile-stone in the world ever spoke truer. Was it to gratify impertinent
curiosity, do you think, that Henniker put up the stone?—Not
himself, then!—Mad as he was, he knew that it would be quite enough
to make any man move on to be tould he was nine miles from anywhere!—What
more did you want? Would you have him keep a horse ready saddled, waiting
'till you'd come?"
"My mare has thrown me and ran away," said the gentleman; "and I merely
got on the stone, so that I might shelter myself and my dog, from head to
foot, until some one came by, or the rain ceased."
"Ceased!" exclaimed Corney, bursting into a laugh; "if you waited for
that, sir, you'd stay till the crows removed you as a nuisance to the
frogs in the slush there behind. Does it ever cease?—Divil a bit,
then, for three miles round, morning, noon, or night,—summer or
winter,—but keeps pelting and pattering away, at all times and in
all seasons, as it has for hundreds of years, and will for ever and ever
except once in a twelvemonth, sometimes, and that's the fifteenth day of
the month of July, when St. Swithin is too busy raining down upon the
other parts of the world, to mind this which is his watery worship's home.
It's fine weather here, if, with three coats on your back, you don't get
wet to the skin in forty minutes. I wouldn't insult the Saint, by carrying
an umbrella, for Damer's estate! Bad luck and ill chance is the best I'd
expect, and so may you; for it's raining now just worse than ever I knew
it but once. Had you no idea, then, where you were, sir?"
"I had," says the gentleman; "but I wasn't sure. I never came by this road
to The Beg before; and I asked the boy that's with you where I was, when I
met him hereabouts, full two hours ago; but he grinned in my face."
"Is it yourself that bate him, bekase he couldn't understand English?"
"I certainly did lay my whip over his shoulders," says the gentleman; "and
the young villain then began to pelt me and my mare with stones, so that
the animal feared to approach near enough to permit of my beating him
again; and at last she got unmanageable, ran away, and threw me off,—that
is, I mean—threw me off, and ran away."
"Rory was right, then, and so I said while ago, when he tould me part of
the story; for you'd no business to bate him,—had you, now?—But
what makes you wait, sir? If you don't come at once, why, then, good
night!—For it's not agreeable to be houlding a conversation such
weather as this, with one on a mile-stone under a big umbrella.—Is
it coming you are?"
The gentleman talked of borrowing a boat, or backing the car into the
pool: but Corney said he couldn't get the one, and wouldn't do the other;
and, moreover, that the umbrella must be sacrificed to St. Swithin, for he
wasn't reprobate enough to ride in its company. After many more words, the
gentleman got down from the mile-stone, with his dog under his arm, and
walked through the water like a cat through a puddle. At first he insisted
on being allowed his umbrella; but Corney was resolute; and away it wint,
at last, scudding over the bog,—frightening up thousands of birds,
which flew screaming after it,—until it suddenly sunk in what's
called "The Saint's Piggin." The gentleman wasn't well seated on the car,
before Corney thrust a bottle of whiskey into his hand, and threatened him
with a quantity of discipline from his wooden leg, if he didn't take a
good pull at it.
"It's merry we'll be, as whiskey and good stories can make us," said the
piper: "I don't care a bawbee for St. Swithin, while I've a cork, or even
a thumb left, to keep him out of my bottle. But I'll not be disrespectful
to the Saint, though, any way why should I?—He does me no more harm
than my betters; and if I offended him, mightn't he follow me, far and
near, and rain on me wherever I went? May be, you never heard how he
served the little nation that lived here long ago how should you, that
didn't know where you were, and you sitting on Henniker's folly? Why,
then, I'll tell you:—Once upon a time—long ago it was, in the
days of our forefathers—this place was peopled by Mathawns, and one
King Ounshough reigned over them, and he and his subjects were all
believers in blarney. Well, who should come to the king one day, but a man
that said, if he got the weight of what he could ate during nine days, in
gold, and had his own people to wait on him, he'd make all the spiders
grow so big, that the ladies might wear their webs by the way of veils;
and after that, may be, for more gold, he'd carry his invention to such a
pitch, that the insects should weave fishing-nets, strong enough to catch
whales themselves,—to say nothing of salmon and smaller fish.—Well,
while he was at work, along comes another, who sould them a secret for
planting trees in such a way, that they'd grow of themselves into ships:
and, says he, 'for a trifle, I'll teach you how to sow hemp and flax, in
little pots, on their branches, so that they may shoot up into ready-made
sails and rigging; and all by philosophy, without a morsel of magic.'—Wasn't
this more than men could wish? The boobies bit at the bait,—high and
low; and thinks they to themselves, 'what fine fellows we'll be, to catch
whales and conquer the world by philosophy!'—While the trees were
growing, and the spiders were spinning, there comes another man, and says
he, 'Don't you know me, any of you?'—And some suspected they did;
and others was almost sure he was related to them by their mother's side;
but nobody owned him. So then, says he, 'I'll tell you who I am: that moon
yonder, that lights you, is my property; you've had the use of it for
years, but I've been too generous. I'm grown poor, and can't be liberal
any longer:—you sha'n't have the light of my moon gratis; so pay
five hundred a year, or I'll put it out: and then what'll you do?'—Well,
what they'd do, sure enough, they didn't know; but before they'd done
debating upon it, up comes a smart little man—a foreigner—who
advised them to pay what was asked for the present, and if they'd
subscribe for him, he'd get up an opposition moon, that should shine
better, and be full all the year round, for half the expense of the ould
one. Wasn't that too good an offer to be rejected?—It was; and the
Mathawns bit at that too. But this wasn't all:—before the new moon
was made, or the trees grown into ships, or the spiders' webs big enough
for veils, the people was persuaded by a traveller to let him build them
an umbrella, that should be large enough to keep the rain off every inch
of the country; and it was to be so contrived that they could let it down
by machinery, if the land wanted water, and put it up when they'd just as
much wet as they liked. Now this was so great an insult to St. Swithin,
that he began raining at once, and before they could put up their
umbrella, dispersed the whole people;—making the country a bog, as
you see it; and never ceasing to pelt away with his little pellets of
water, from that day to this. But though they were scattered, the boobies
wasn't destroyed. You may find some of their descendants in every corner
of the world, who are as staunch believers in blarney, as ever their
forefathers were in the days of ould Ounshough the king.—Isn't that
a fine story for you, now, such a murdering wet evening as this?"
"Bathershin, man!" says the gentleman, with a sneer of contempt; "call it
a lie, and give me the bottle, for I'm cold after it."
"Don't you believe it, then?"
"How could I," says the gentleman, "when it's lies, and you know it?"
"Then sorrow the sup out of my bottle you get, sir, and sorrow the step
goes the garron, until you believe it. Arrah! Rory,—pturr-r!"
"Pturr-r!" roared Rory, at the top of his voice, and stock-still stood the
horse, as in duty bound.
"Is it quite mad you are, you dirty blackguard?" says the gentleman.
"Blackguard your betters!" says Corney: "Musha! then, if the likes o' you
was rolled in the bog, what harm?—You couldn't be worse than you
were; for it's dirt itself you are!—I'll say that for you, since you
put me up."
"Ar'n't you an impertinent ould scoundrel?"
"No doubt I am; but the garron don't stir one of his four pegs till you
believe what I tould you, while ago, for all that. I won't ride with a man
if there's such a difference of opinion betuxt us."
"Don't you see the rain how it pours?"
"Do you think I'm blind?—or that I can't feel the water running in
channels down the wet back o' me?—But I'd weather the rain like a
duck, in a good cause; and it's promoting concord I am, betwxt myself and
one that's ungrateful and don't mind me, at this moment."
The piper was obstinate; and after awhile, the gentleman was obliged to
say he did'nt think the story a lie. It was then, only, that he got a sup
of the whiskey; and Corney gave the garron a hint with his wooden leg, to
"Now," says Corney, "as we've made friends,—and I don't think I ever
had an enemy but one, a whole day,—I'll entertain you with some of
my music: but, before I begin, I'll just remind you, that I said while
ago, there was boobies everywhere,—didn't I?—I did, that's
true enough, and Rory's one o'them. May be you've been tould of one o' the
Fogarty family, who ties a lanthorn to the horse's head, so that the
crature may find out his grass in the dark?—This is the boy that
does it:—as though the Will-o'-Wisps, and Jack-Lanterns of the bog,
wouldn't do what was wanted o' them in that way, for a horse?—Do you
believe that now, or don't you?"
"Is it a fool you take me for?" says the gentleman.
"Yea or nay, just as you plaize. Arrah! Rory,—pturr-r!"
"Pturr-r!" says Rory again; and the garron stopped so suddenly, that the
piper himself was like to have been pitched over his head.
"Go on, and good luck to you!" cried the gentleman; "go on, and there's
nothing you'll say but what I'll believe; for it's killed with the cold I
"Oh, fie! and the whiskey here at your elbow!"
The piper lifted his leg, and away wint the garron again. After much more
talk, and two or three stoppages, Carolan at last says to the gentleman,
"Now I'd like to know, sir,—may be you won't tell me, though;—but
why shouldn't you?—"
"Ask me no impertinent questions, and behave yourself in every respect, or
you'll wish you hadn't a tongue in your head this journey, when you come
to know me,—as perhaps you may."
"Perhaps I won't, though;—for I've no great opinion of you. Perhaps,
I won't know you to plaize you. But you'll own I'm right in not riding
another step with one that won't tell me which way he'd be going."
"Don't stop the horse again, and you shall know at least where I'm bound
to:—indeed, I tould you long ago, it was to The Beg."
"Is it The Beg?—and so you did, now I remember. May be you're a new
butler?—No?—A bailiff, then?—Yet why should you? There's
nobody there now that's in debt. And if you ar'n't either the one or the
other, what can you be?—But it's bad manners in me to be bothering
my brains with guessing who you are, when I don't care about knowing. You
won't go to The Beg though, anyhow, to-night it's a long three miles from
where we stop a bad road and up-hill entirely, too."
"Can I get a bed, think you?"
"Why, then, Luke Fogarty's is the state cabin o' the whole place, and he'd
give up his own bed any day to a stranger, though he hasn't the best of
characters; and Ramilies, his pig—"
"Ramilies, his pig;—they say she's a witch: she farrows nineteen,
four or five times a year; and she has tushes like ram's horns, only
they're straight. She goes miles away by the sea-side and walks into the
water, like a Christian, to nuzzle up crabs among the rocks. It's often
I've seen her scrunching them: they nips her—trust them for that—with
their claws; but I'm inclined to believe, the pinches she gets on her
tongue serves by way of a fillip or sauce to the feast, by the same ride
that donkeys like thistles that's prickly, and we ourselves mustard with
pork. If I'd a house to pull down to-morrow, I wouldn't wish a better
workman than Ramilies, if she hadn't her dinner, and there was fish
inside, and the doors barred. They say, she drinks whiskey when she can
get it:—but what need have you to be afraid? Won't I be there with
you?—Sure I will.—Ramilies has no ear for music, and one blow
of my bagpipes drives her. As to Luke,—why, if Luke shouldn't behave
himself, it won't be the first time I've poked my wooden leg in the face
of him, and broke his ugly deaf head, with the big hollow bull's-hom he
has for an ear-pipe, into the bargain. Corney Carolan is well able for
him, or any one else, if he's only awake."
"I'm afraid your friend's cabin won't afford much accommodation for a
"Why, then," says Corney, "I'll just give you a bit of a bird's-eye view
of it, and you'll judge for yourself. As you go in, there's a remarkably
fine dunghill, on each side of the door, built up as straight as two
walls,—only a little loose at the top,—so that they forms a
sort of artificial porch, or portico, to the house; and, at the other side
o' the window, there's another wall o' dung, that reaches chuck up to the
gable. When you go in, if you look to the right, there's a place where
Luke sits and makes brogues, when he's in the humour for it; and you'll
see a pair of channel-pumps, hanging by wooden pegs in the wall, which he
made when he worked in Waterford; and among the tools,—I mane, the
awl, and strap, and stone,—no doubt but there's the broken crockery
he had his dinner in, this day six months, when he'd a fit o' work on him,
and wouldn't, for a moment, quit the brogues he was then making, and which
ar'n't finished yet, nor never will: for the next time he sits down to
work, he'll begin another pair, and lave off again, when he's just done
three quarters of each of them. Though he's the finest workman, they say,
within seven baronies, Luke and his family are the best customers to Jack
Sheelan the shoemaker, in the whole place: for Luke has other ways o'
getting money than with his hammer and awl,—it's himself that has,
then! He's come of a fine family too,—though I say it, that's his
cousin,—for he's a Sweeney by birth, and has a right to be called
so: he was, long ago, and would be now, if he hadn't quarrelled
with his father's family, and sworn, out of spite, never to wear their
name again as long as he breathed: so he took to his mother's—she
was a Fogarty;—and you couldn't offend him more any way in the world
than you would if you upset his whiskey, singed his nose while he was
asleep, or called him Luke Sweeney."
"He's a room above stairs, I hope," says the gentleman.
"He had; and the floor of it went three parts across the kitchen;
and when you got up, you could look over a board and see your peathees
boiling below for breakfast:—and you might, to this day, if the rain
hadn't soaked through the ould thatch and rotted the timber, so that it
fell down with nineteen of us, one night at a dance, years and years ago."
"Then I'll be compelled to sleep with nothing above me but the bare
"That, and the cobwebs:—and you'll see how the big spiders will run
down their little ropes, and dangle over the table, when I'm playing
Garry-hone-a-gloria!—But there's no harm in the cratures; nor much
in ould Ramilies herself, if she hasn't been drinking. I've known her get
so drunk, on beer-grounds they gave her at The Beg, that it took seven men
and a boy to bring her home, with Luke Fogarty's sister going before,
pinching one o' the little pigs, so as to make him squeal out, by the way
of wheedling her on quietly."
"Right glad am I that I've my dog to watch me:—but, of course,
they'll keep her out if I ask it," says the gentleman.
"They will, if she'll let them; but her word isn't worth a bad song, if
you could get her to give it;—and you couldn't, could you?—But,
na boeklish! hav'n't you your dog!—I'll promise to persuade
Fogarty to give you up his own little black oak bedstead, that stands
beside the chimney: and then who knows but you'll get the canvass bed
stuffed with louchaun—that's the chaff that comes from the oats when
they're winnowed—and three rugs to cover you! But what's better than
all, though we shouldn't be there till midnight,—and, faith! then,
we won't at this rate,—there'll be an iligant supper, and all the
gorlochs—except Susey, the eldest—put to bed. What'll we have,
you'd like to know, eh?—Well, then, I'd tell you, if I could, but I
can't. May be, if Luke's had luck lately, we'll get a bonnov,—that's
a little pig, you know and if not, there'll be a cobbler's nob, and a dish
of caulcannon at any rate, we're sure of hot ghindogues and praupeen, or
stirabout, or shloucaun,—that's the sea-weed,—the dillosk, you
know, that the girls gather, boiled down to a nicety, and which, as they
say, is what Saint Ambrose lived upon, and the same thing you rade of in
books, by the name of ambrosia. Rory tells me they'd a breast of mutton,—he
don't precisely remember what day, but it was lately,—and we'll get
that made up into beggar's-dish, with onions, and a bit of tripe, may be,
if it's not eat, and Ramilies hasn't stolen it. That pig's a witch, as I
tould you before; but sure you needn't mind her with your dog, need you?—If
it comes to the worst, we're certain of peathees, trundled out hot from
the crock in the middle of the big table, with a clane hoop on it to keep
them from rolling off: and what's finer than peathees when they're
smoking, and grinning at you through their red jackets? With them and milk
(I'll engage for him, Luke will be able to give you your choice, sour milk
or new) and two or three piggins o' pothien,—we'll be gay as
drovers, and sleep sound wherever we fall. But I'm houlding out all these
fine things to you, only to shew you what good luck you'll miss, if you
don't tell me who you are, and what is it you'd be doing at The Beg; for
it wouldn't be well of me to bring home any one, without knowing head nor
hair of him, to my cousin Fogarty's,—would it, now?"
"It isn't at all necessary that I should satisfy your curiosity," says the
"May be, not; but I think so:—so we'd better settle the point before
we go further. Arrah! Rory,—Pturr-r!"
"Pturr-r!" says Rory; "pturr-r, pturr-r!" says he; but the garron was now
too near home to pturr for the brightest man that ever stood in shoe; and
instead of stopping, he put his best leg forward, and carried the car
clane up to Luke Fogarty's door, some minutes sooner than he would have
done, may be, if nobody had said "Pturr-r!" to him at all.
"Kead mille faltha!" cried Luke, as soon as he saw the piper; "long
looked for, come at last!—But who's this with you, Corney?"
"Faith! I don't know, then," says Carolan, who wasn't at all plaized with
the garron, that he didn't stop when Rory bid him; "I don't know a
ha'p'orth about him," says he, with his mouth close to the big end o' the
crooked bull's-horn, that Fogarty held to his ear; "I found him, after
losing his horse, sitting up upon Henniker's mile-stone; and it raining
harder than usual:—so I took him on the car; but he wouldn't tell me
who he was. He's high and mighty enough to be a king; and, may be, if the
top of the dirt was taken off his dothes, we'd find him dressed like a
"Arrah! Corney! now I look at him again, and that he's wiped his face, I
think I know him.—You're welcome, sir," says Luke to the stranger,
who couldn't but hear what the piper had said, yet took no notice of it;
"you're welcome, sir, to a poor man's place, and the best I've got, this
bad night:—but don't I know you somewhere?—Then, if I did,
what harm?"—continued Luke, seeing how the man drew himself up, and,
putting on his airs, didn't condescend to answer what was said to him; "If
I did know you, what harm?—and, faith! then, I do, Corney!" says he,
turning to the piper; "sure you heard of one Andie Hogan, that got a mint
o' money a'most, by selling little bonnets he made o' the paper they puts
on the walls of fine houses, to the women and girls at pattams and fairs,
far and near;—didn't you, Corney?"
"I did," says Corney, with his mouth at the bull's-horn, "and how he
advertised the fine fortune he'd give his lame daughter; and how, while he
was making a great match for her, one Purcell, a bit of a tailor, away
there at Dungarvan, ran off with her. Sure I've a story as long as from
here till to-morrow, and two or three songs about them. Didn't ould Hogan
make it up with Purcell, and lave him all he had? And didn't the tailor
turn upstart when he'd got the money,—and wouldn't look on his own
relations, but cocked his nose at them, and every body that used to know
him, as though they were dirt?"
"Well then, Corney," says Luke; "and if you never saw him before, you can
get a look at him now, for this is himself."
"Oh! pullaloo! murther and horse-beans!" shouted Corney; "and is it with
Purcell I've been riding?—No offence, sir,—and I beg pardon
for being bould in the bog there;—but are you now, without a word of
a lie,—are you the Mushroom?"
"I hope I'm not brought here to be insulted," says the gentleman.
"Well I but are you Mr. Purcell—or are you not? Is it you that's own
cousin to that Thady Purcell, whose widow is married to Jack Forrester—ould
Timberleg Toe-trap's club-footed son? Are you the Dungarvan tailor that
snapped up Andie Hogan's lame daughter, or is Luke a liar?—Answer me
that now, and there'll be an end of our talk."
"I shall not remain here another minute," says Purcell; for it was indeed
himself—and Luke Fogarty had seen him at The Beg, dunning young
Veogh, for money Pierce owed him, long before:—"I shall try if I
can't get civility, at least, under another roof;" says he.
"Sure, I'm not uncivil," says Corney; "or, if I was, I didn't intind it."
"Then have done, fellow!"
"Is it 'fellow?—Well! calling me names don't break my bones, or I'd
give you a poke with my toe, so I would; and there's not much harm in
'fellow—I've been called more than that, without taking the trouble
to put myself in a passion,—and why should I with you? Any how, I'll
make up my mind to this:—you're one o' the wonders, ar'n't you?—I'm
sure of it:—for you wouldn't so quietly hear yourself accused of
being Andie Hogan's son-in-law, if it wasn't a true bill. Well, to be
sure, I've had grate luck, one way and another:—I saw Lord Nelson,
and the Giant's Causeway, and the Saltees, and Kilkenny coal, and the
horse with two heads, and Mick Maguire's relation, that swore against the
priest, and now I see the Mushroom!—what more could I wish?"
By this time Luke had got out his best pair of yarn stockings, and the
channel pumps, he made when he was a journeyman in Waterford, and the
newest clothes he had, and insisted upon Purcell's laying aside his own
for them: but the Mushroom, instead of minding him, whistled his dog, and
seemed to be going. Corney, however, put his leg across the door, and Luke
himself got a hold of Purcell by the coat, and swore he'd not let him
budge a foot:—"Sure," says he, "you wouldn't think of insulting me
so in my own house! I couldn't let a dog go from under my roof such a
night as this. If you lived but a stone's throw away, I'd be wrong if I'd
let you stir: though they say you were the first that arrested Pierce
Veogh, it matters but little to me. May be I like him; may be I don't: but
if I'd give you a crack on the head for so doing—I won't say I would
though, why should I?—but in case I would if I met you abroad in
company, yet in my own house, coming into it as you do, I could not but
make you welcome, you know. There's my own bed in the corner for you; and
after supper I'll give you as much whiskey as you can carry into it from
the place where you'll sit."
Luke Fogarty now gently pushed the Mushroom back to a log o' wood that
stood for a chair by the hearth, and began to unbutton his coat. But
Purcell wouldn't demean himself so much as to have the likes o' Luke for a
valet, and put on the stockings and pumps, which was all he'd accept,
without any assistance.
I won't tell you what was served up for supper, by Luke's sister, who was
his housekeeper,—the wife being dead,—in the state cabin that
night, for I didn't hear; and if I did, I forgot: neither, for the same
good rason, will I say what songs the piper sung, or what tunes he played
on his pipes, or how many piggins of whiskey was drained: but I know this—that
Luke Fogarty reeled in his way to the place where he was going to sleep;
and that he left Corney, with the pipes by his side, snoring away on the
bare floor, with nothing upon him but what he could stand upright in,
except a bit of a rug, that Rory, by way of a joke, had thrown on his
wooden leg, to keep the end of it warm. As soon as Luke was gone, the
Mushroom got into the bed that Corney had described to him, and bad as the
accommodation was for one of his way of living, he soon fell fast asleep.
Though he said nothing about what business brought him to The Beg that
night, it was known, afterwards, that he was called there by letter, to
receive whatever Pierce Veogh might then be in debt to him. And I must
tell you, he wasn't among the creditors that had security on the land, or
the house, or what was in it; but only on Pierce himself, who'd often been
worried by him, and never could get clane out of his debt; for if he paid
him to-day, Purcell would have something else due against him in a month.
And to tell the truth, Pierce had so borrowed of Purcell—at short
dates, and long dates, on bills and on bonds, and annuities, and I don't
know what else,—that if you'd give Pierce the world he never could
tell how the reckoning stood. It's been said by many too, that Purcell
bought up many of Pierce's debts that was lying out against him, for a
mere song; and contrived to keep him in constant fear, and afraid to shew
his face near the place of his birth, if he wished it. And why so, you'll
think? Why then, some people suspect, that Purcell had a mind to make up
to the lady that bought The Beg, when it was sould by Pierce's creditors;
and wished to keep him away from her; as he well knew, they'd once been in
love, and now that she was a widow, he couldn't but fear that they might
think of ould times, and renew the connexion. And it's true for him,
Purcell might well think himself a match, as far as wealth went, for that
lady, or any other: his wife died two years after he run off with her, and
he'd so twisted and turned the money her dad gave him, and, though a rank
rogue, had such luck, that he was ten times richer than Andie Hogan could
ever expect to have seen his lame daughter's husband: but neither father
nor daughter lived to see him in them days, when he held his head highest.
Did you ever in your life awake and find a slip-knot tied round your great
toe, and somebody pulling away for the bare life at the other end o' the
cord, and you not able to see who your enemy was?—If you didn't
you've missed what's a million times worse than the night-mare,—or a
pair of cramps knitting the muscles into knots under each of your knees.
If you didn't ever get that trick played on you, it won't be possible for
you to imagine, or conceive, or picture to yourself, how matters stood
with the Mushroom, when dawn broke on him, there where he lay, on the
little louchaun bed, in Luke Fogarty's state cabin. It can't but occur to
you though, that he'd no right to consider himself quite in paradise, when
I tell you that he was awoke and dragged almost out over the foot of the
bed, by an invisible something which operated upon his toe. He had felt
two or three twitches before, but he wouldn't believe that any thing much
was the matter, and thought he'd go to sleep again, and forget it.
But the pull I spoke of wasn't to be bamboozled away so aisily: he
couldn't but notice it—for he'd never felt any one thing in the
world half so unpleasant before. And this wasn't all at the same time that
he found himself maltreated in the toe, his ears were serenaded with a din
so horrible, that he couldn't but think there was goblins about him! The
first thing he did, was to throw the clothes from his face,—the pull
having buried the head of him beneath them,—and then, naturally
enough as you'll say, he looked down to the foot of the bed. It was just
light enough for him to see what was the matter. He'd tied his dog Pompey,
as he thought, to his wrist, by a bit of cord, so that the least motion of
the animal might alarm him: but, lo and behold! the cord was now
strangling his toe in a running-knot, and the poodle half hanging himself,
by pulling away with all his might at the other end of it! There was the
dog in a right line with the foot of the bed,—the eyes of him nearly
starting out of his head,—yelping as well as the cord would let him,
and looking, as though it was his own opinion he hadn't three minutes to
The first thing Mr. Purcell thought of doing, was to coax the animal to
come nearer, and by that means aise him; for his leg was pulled out so
straight, that though he tried hard to get a clutch at the string, he
couldn't. "Pompey! Pompey!" says he, "come here, you rogue!—Murder!—Whew!
Whew! Poor fellow, then!—Bad luck to the dog!—What! Pompey,
All this time Pompey wasn't idle: he'd got his master lower in the bed,
and the Mushroom found all at once, something bristly scrubbing his foot.
It was then for the first time, he perceived what was making part of the
strange noise he heard,—and what it was too, that Pompey was
strangling himself to get away from. Corney Carolan lay on the floor
betuxt asleep and awake,—neither quite drunk, nor altogether sober,—blowing
his bagpipes as though he'd burst them, but without producing such an
effect as he'd predicted they would; for athwart midships, between the
foot of the bed and Pompey, stood Ramilies the pig, bristling up the long
hairs on her back, curling her tail nearly into a knot, gnashing her
tusks, frothing away at the mouth, like a beer barrel that's in work at
the bung-hole, and telling Pompey, as plainly as she well could, that she
felt very indignant at his presence, but nevertheless quite willing and
able to devour him. She had poked through a fresh-mended gap in the wall,
to get at a basket of crabs, which Luke bought the night before; and there
was the nineteen little ones, that she'd farrowed that day month,
squeaking in chorus to her own grunt; and what with Pompey's yelping, and
the piper's playing, and Purcell's exclamations, and the shouting and
shrieking of Luke Fogarty's sister and seven children, who soon came
running, just as they were, from their beds, and the noise of the cocks
and hens, and the pinches the little pigs got from the claws of the big
crabs that Ramilies had upset out of the basket, and which was now
crawling about the floor, they ran over the bed, and under the bed, and
raced about the place, just as if they were out o' their wits.
All this noise couldn't go for nothing: the whole place was in arms;—Mick
Maguire fired off his gun through a hole in the thatch, and Bat Boroo,
flourishing his big stick, took Mick under his command; for he thought the
French was landed, at the least,—and no blame to him.
When the neighbours broke in Luke Fogarty's door, they found things going
on nearly as I described just now. Corney was still blowing the pipes, and
the Mushroom roaring, and young Rory Fogarty dancing about in great glee,
with the black crock the peathees was boiled in on his head; and the
little pigs racing about, and the cocks and hens cackling, and Ramilies
preaching to Pompey. Luke Fogarty himself crawled from a corner where he'd
been snoring, and putting the bull's-horn to his ear, before he could get
his eyes open, says he, "Don't I hear a noise?" But a moment after, when
he peeped through his sore lids, and saw what was going on, he grinned
with glee; and putting the horn to his mouth, blew something so much like
a charge on it, that Bat Boroo, who that moment came up to the door, faced
about, and retreated in good order, but quick time, laving all the glory
and danger to Mick, who didn't run for two rasons:—first, because he
didn't notice Bat making away with himself; and next, because he knew
nothing about the nature of a charge. So in he marched among the rest of
the neighbours, with his gun, as usual, full cocked in his hand.
"Shoot! shoot!" says the Mushroom, as soon as he caught a glimpse of Mick
and "Shoot! shoot!" says the neighbours; "why not shoot at once, Mick!"
"Aisy! aisy! all of ye," cried Mick; "aisy, and don't bother me! 'Shoot!
shoot!' says you; but who'll I shoot?—Is it ould Ramilies or the
"The dog! the dog!' says the neighbours.
"No!—the pig! the pig!" says Purcell.
"See that, now!" cried Mick: "Wasn't I unlucky all my life? If I'd a
double-barrelled gun, I'd oblige both parties at once, and then there'd be
no quarrelling: but I hav'n't."
Just then, ould Malachi Roe made his appearance in his red night-cap, and
having the handle of an ould hunting whip, with a brass hook and hammer at
the end of it, by way of a weapon, in his hand: he wasn't a moment inside
the door when, without saying a word, he pushed Rory Fogarty, who was
laughing most furiously, plump against Ramilies, and taking a knife out of
his pocket, cut the cord by which Pompey was tied to the toe of his
Malachi had news too of Mr. Purcell's mare; and while the people still
stood loitering about Luke Fogarty's door, and Corney was telling the
Mushroom, that all his bad luck was owing to his carrying an umbrella on
the bog of Saint Swithin, the mare was brought up by somebody—I
forget who it was—that had caught her. You'd think, perhaps, that
Purcell's pride might be brought down a little by what had befallen him:
but no,—he strutted out of the cabin without condescending to say be,
haw, or a civil word to any one; and rode off to The Beg—mushroom
as he was—with his nose in the air, as though the ground wasn't good
enough for him to look on.