Litres Baner
The Poacher; Or, Joseph Rushbrook

Фредерик Марриет
The Poacher; Or, Joseph Rushbrook

Chapter Eight

A Dissertation upon Pedigree

Our readers will not perhaps be displeased if we introduce Captain O’Donahue more particularly to their notice: we shall therefore devote this chapter to giving some account of his birth, parentage, and subsequent career. If the father of Captain O’Donahue was to be believed, the race of the O’Donahues were kings in Ireland long before the O’Connors were ever heard of. How far this may be correct we cannot pretend to offer an opinion, further than that no man can be supposed to know so much of a family’s history as the descendant himself. The documents were never laid before us, and we have only the positive assertion of the Squireen O’Donahue, who asserted not only that they were kings in Ireland before the O’Connors, whose pretensions to ancestry he treated with contempt, but further, that they were renowned for their strength, and were famous for using the longest bows in battle that were ever known or heard of. Here we have circumstantial evidence, although not proof. If strong, they might have been kings in Ireland, for there “might has been right” for many centuries; and certainly their acquirements were handed down to posterity, as no one was more famous for drawing the long bow than the Squireen O’Donahue. Upon these points, however, we must leave our readers to form their own opinions. Perhaps some one more acquainted with the archives of the country may be able to set us right if we are wrong, or to corroborate our testimony if we are right. In his preface to “Anne of Geierstein,” Sir Walter Scott observes, that “errors, however trivial, ought, in his opinion, never to be pointed out to the author without meeting with a candid and respectful acknowledgement.” Following the example of so great a man, we can only say, that if any gentleman can prove or disprove the assertion of the Squireen O’Donahue, to wit, that the O’Donahues were kings of Ireland long before the O’Connors were heard of; we shall be most happy to acknowledge the favour, and insert his remarks in the next edition. We should be further obliged to the same party, or indeed, any other, it they would favour us with an idea of what was implied by a king of Ireland in those days; that is to say, whether he held a court, taxed his subjects, collected revenue, kept up a standing army, sent ambassadors to foreign countries, and did all which kings do nowadays? or whether his shillelagh was his sceptre, and his domain some furze-crowned hills and a bog, the intricacies of which were known only to himself? whether he was arrayed in jewelled robes, with a crown of gold weighing on his temples? or whether he went bare-legged and bare-armed, with his bare locks flowing in luxurious wildness to the breeze? We request an answer to this in full simplicity. We observe that even in Ireland now, a fellow six feet high, and stout in proportion, is called a “prince of a fellow,” although he has not wherewithal to buy a paper of tobacco to supply his dhudeen: and, arguing from this fact, we are inclined to think that a few more inches in stature, and commensurate muscular increase of power, would in former times have raised the “heir-apparent” to the dignity of the Irish throne. But these abstruse speculations have led us from our history, which we must now resume.

Whatever may once have been the importance of the house of O’Donahue, one thing is certain, that there are many ups and downs in this world; every family in it has its wheel of fortune, which revolves faster or slower as the fates decree, and the descendant of kings before the O’Connor’s time was now descended into a species of Viceroy, Squireen O’Donahue being the steward of certain wild estates in the county of Galway, belonging to a family who for many years had shown a decided aversion to the natural beauties of the country, and had thought proper to migrate to where, if people were not so much attached to them, they were at all events more civilised. These estates were extensive, but not lucrative. They abounded in rocks, brushwood, and woodcocks during the season; and although the Squireen O’Donahue did his best, if not for his employer, at least for himself; it was with some difficulty that he contrived to support, with anything like respectability (which in that part of the country means “dacent clothes to wear”), a very numerous family, lineally descended from the most ancient of all the kings of Ireland.

Before the squireen had obtained his employment, he had sunk his rank and travelled much—as a courier—thereby gaining much knowledge of the world. If, therefore, he had no wealth to leave his children, at all events he could impart to them that knowledge which is said to be better than worldly possessions. Having three sons and eight daughters, all of them growing up healthy and strong, with commensurate appetites, he soon found that it was necessary to get rid of them as fast as he could. His eldest, who, strange to say, for an O’Donahue, was a quiet lad, he had as a favour lent to his brother, who kept a small tobacconist and grocer’s shop in Dublin, and his brother was so fond of him, that eventually O’Carroll O’Donahue was bound to him as an apprentice. It certainly was a degradation for the descendant of such ancient kings to be weighing out pennyworths of sugar, and supplying halfpenny papers of tobacco to the old apple and fish women; but still there we must leave the heir-apparent while we turn to the second son, Mr Patrick O’Donahue, whose history we are now relating, having already made the reader acquainted with him by an introduction in Saint James’s Park.

Chapter Nine

In which the Advice of a Father deserves Peculiar Attention

It may be supposed that, as steward of the estates, Squireen O’Donahue had some influence over the numerous tenants on the property, and this influence he took care to make the most of. His assistance in a political contest was rewarded by the offer of an ensigncy for one of his sons, in a regiment then raising in Ireland, and this offer was too good to be refused. So, one fine day, Squireen O’Donahue came home from Dublin, well bespattered with mud, and found his son Patrick also well bespattered with mud, having just returned home from a very successful expedition against the woodcocks.

“Patrick, my jewel,” said the Squireen, taking a seat and wiping his face, for he was rather warm with his ride, “you’re a made man.”

“And well made too, father, if the girls are anything of judges,” replied Patrick.

“You put me out,” replied the Squireen; “you’ve more to be vain of than your figure.”

“And what may that be that you’re discoursing about father?”

“Nothing more nor less, nor better nor worse, but you’re an ensign in his Majesty’s new regiment—the number has escaped my memory.”

“I’d rather be a colonel, father,” replied Patrick, musing.

“The colonel’s to come, you spalpeen,” said the Squireen.

“And the fortune to make, I expect,” replied Patrick.

“You’ve just hit it but haven’t you the whole world before you to pick and choose?”

“Well,” replied Patrick, after a pause; “I’ve no objection.”

“No objection! Why don’t you jump out of your skin with delight? At all events, you might jump high enough to break in the caling.”

“There’s no ceiling to break,” replied Patrick, looking up at the rafters.

“That’s true enough; but still you might go out of your seven senses in a rational sort of a way.”

“I really can’t see for why, father dear. You tell me I’m to leave my poor old mother, who doats upon me; my sisters, who are fond of me; my friends here,” patting the dogs, “who follow me; the hills, that I love; and the woodcocks, which I shoot; to go to be shot at myself, and buried like a dead dog, without being skinned, on the field of battle.”

“I tell you to go forth into the world as an officer, and make your fortune; to come back a general, and be the greatest man of your family. And don’t be too unhappy about not being skinned. Before you are older or wiser, dead or alive, you’ll be skinned, I’ll answer for it.”

“Well, father, I’ll go; but I expect there’ll be a good deal of ground to march over before I’m a general.”

“And you’ve a good pair of legs.”

“So I’m told every day of my life. I’ll make the best use of them when I start; but it’s the starting I don’t like, and that’s the real truth.”

The reader may be surprised at the indifference shown by Patrick at the intelligence communicated by his father; but the fact was, Mr Patrick O’Donahue was very deep in love. This cooled his national ardour; and it must be confessed that there was every excuse, for a more lovely creature than Judith McCrae never existed. To part with her was the only difficulty, and all his family feelings were but a cloak to the real cause of his unwillingness.

“Nevertheless, you must start to-morrow, my boy,” said his father.

“What must be, must,” replied Patrick, “so there’s an end of the matter. I’ll just go out for a bit of a walk, just to stretch my legs.”

“They require a deal of stretching, Pat, considering you’ve been twenty miles, at least, this morning, over the mountains,” replied the Squireen. But Patrick was out of hearing; he had leapt over a stone wall which separated his father’s potato ground from Cornelius McCrae’s, and had hastened to Judith, whom he found very busy getting the dinner ready.

“Judith, my dear,” said Patrick, “my heart’s quite broke with the bad news I have to tell you. Sure I’m going to leave you to-morrow morning.”

“Now, Patrick, you’re joking, surely.”

“Devil a joke in it. I’m an ensign in a regiment.”

“Then I’ll die, Patrick.”

“More like that I will, Judith; what with grief and a bullet to help it, perhaps.”

 

“Now, what d’ye mean to do, Patrick?”

“Mean to go, sure; because I can’t help myself; and to come back again, if ever I’ve the luck of it. My heart’s leaping out of my mouth entirely.”

“And mine’s dead,” replied Judith, in tears.

“It’s no use crying, mavourneen. I’ll be back to dance at my own wedding, if so be I can.”

“There’ll be neither wedding for you, Patrick, nor wake either, for you’ll lie on the cold ground, and be ploughed in like muck.”

“That’s but cold comfort from you, Judith, but we’ll hope for a better ending; but I must go back now, and you’ll meet me this evening beyond the shealing.”

“Won’t it be for the last time, Patrick,” replied Judith, with her apron up to her eyes.

“If I’ve any voice in the matter, I say no. Please the pigs, I’ll come back a colonel.”

“Then you’ll be no match for Judith McCrae,” replied the sobbing girl.

“Shoot easy, my Judith, that’s touching my honour; if I’m a general it will be all the same.”

“Oh, Patrick! Patrick!”

Patrick folded Judith in his arms, took one kiss, and then hastened out of the house, saying—“Remember the shealing, Judith, dear, there we’ll talk the matter over easy and comfortable.”

Patrick returned to his house, where he found his mother and sisters in tears. They had received orders to prepare his wardrobe, which, by the bye, did not give them much trouble from its extent; they only had to mend every individual article. His father was sitting down by the hearth, and when he saw Patrick he said to him,—“Now just come here, my boy, and take a stool, while you listen to me and learn a little worldly wisdom, for I may not have much time to talk to you when we are at Dublin.”

Patrick took a seat, and was all attention.

“You’ll just observe, Pat, that it’s a very fine thing to be an officer in the king’s army; nobody dares to treat you ill, although you may ill-treat others, which is no small advantage in this world.”

“There’s truth in that,” replied Patrick.

“You see, when you get into an enemy’s country, you may help yourself; and, if you look sharp, there’s very pretty pickings—all in a quiet way, you understand.”

“That, indeed.”

“You observe, Pat, that, as one of his officers, the king expects you to appear and live like a gentleman, only he forgets to give you the means of so doing; you must, therefore, take all you can get from his Majesty, and other people must make up the difference.”

“That’s a matter o’ course,” said Patrick.

“You’ll soon see your way clear, and find out what you may be permitted to do, and what you may not; for the king expects you to keep up the character of a gentleman as well as the appearance.”

“O’ course.”

“Mayhap you may be obliged to run in debt a little—a gentleman may do that; mayhap you may not be able to pay—that’s a gentleman’s case very often: if so, never go so far as twenty pounds; first, because the law don’t reach; and secondly, because twenty pound is quite enough to make a man suffer for the good of his country.”

“There’s sense in that, father.”

“And, Patrick, recollect that people judge by appearances in this world, especially when they’ve nothing else to go by. If you talk small, your credit will be small; but if you talk large, it will be just in proportion.”

“I perceive, father.”

“It’s not much property we possess in this said county of Galway, that’s certain; but you must talk of this property as if I was the squire, and not the steward; and when you talk of the quantity of woodcocks you have bagged, you must say on our property.”

“I understand, father.”

“And you must curse your stars at being a younger brother; it will be an excuse for your having no money, but will make them believe it’s in the family, at all events.”

“I perceive,” replied Patrick.

“There’s one thing more, Pat; it’s an Irish regiment, so you must get out of it as soon as possible by exchange.”

“For why?”

“This for why. You will be among those born too near home, and who may doubt all you say, because your story may interfere with their own. Get into an English regiment by all means, and there you’ll be beyond the reach of contradiction, which ain’t pleasant.”

“True enough, father.”

“Treasure up all I have told you—it’s worldly wisdom, and you have your fortune to make; so now recollect, never hold back at a forlorn hope; volunteer for everything; volunteer to be blown from a cannon’s mouth, so that they will give you promotion for that same; volunteer to go all over the world, into the other world, and right through that again into the one that comes after that, if there is any, and then one thing will be certain, either that you’ll be colonel or general, or else—”

“Else what, father?”

“That you won’t require to be made either, seeing that you’ll be past all making; but luck’s all, and lucky it is, by the bye, that I have a little of the squire’s rent in hand to fit you out with, or how we should have managed, the saints only know. As it is, I must sink it on the next year’s account; but that’s more easy to do than to fit you out with no money. I must beg the tenants off, make the potato crop fail entirely, and report twenty, by name at least, dead of starvation. Serve him right for spending his money out of Old Ireland. It’s only out of real patriotism that I cheat him—just to spend the money in the country. And now, Patrick, I’ve done; now you may go and square your accounts with Judith, for I know now where the cat jumps; but I’ll leave old Time alone for doing his work.”

Such was the advice of the Squireen to his son; and, as worldly wisdom, it was not so bad; and, certainly, when a lad is cast adrift in the world, the two best things you can bestow on him are a little worldly wisdom and a little money, for without the former, the latter and he will soon part company.

The next day they set off for Dublin, Patrick’s head being in a confused jumble of primitive good feeling, Judith McCrae, his father’s advice, and visions of future greatness. He was fitted out, introduced to the officers, and then his father left him his blessing and his own way to make in the world. In a fortnight the regiment was complete, and they were shipped to Liverpool, and from Liverpool to Maidstone, where, being all newly raised men, they were to remain for a time to be disciplined. Before the year had expired, Patrick had followed his father’s advice, and exchanged, receiving a difference, with an ensign of a regiment going on foreign service. He was sent to the West Indies: but the seasons were healthy, and he returned home an ensign. He volunteered abroad again after five years, and gained his lieutenant’s commission, from a death vacancy, without purchase.

After a fifteen years’ hard service, the desired Captain’s commission came at last, and O’Donahue, having been so unsuccessful in his military career, retired upon half-pay, determined, if possible, to offer his handsome person in exchange for competence. But, during the fifteen years which had passed away, a great change had come over the ingenuous and unsophisticated Patrick O’Donahue; he had mixed so long with a selfish and heartless world, that his primitive feelings had gradually worn away. Judith had, indeed, never been forgotten; but she was now at rest, for, by mistake, Patrick had been returned dead of the yellow fever, and at the intelligence she had drooped like a severed snowdrop, and died. The only tie strong enough to induce him to return to Ireland was therefore broken, his father’s worldly advice had not been forgotten, and O’Donahue considered the world as his oyster. Expensive in his habits and ideas, longing for competence, while he vegetated on half-pay, he was now looking out for a matrimonial speculation. His generosity and his courage remained with him—two virtues not to be driven out of an Irishman—but his other good qualities lay in abeyance; and yet his better feelings were by no means extinguished; they were dormant, but by favourable circumstances were again to be brought into action. The world and his necessities made him what he was; for many were the times, for years afterwards, that he would in his reveries surmise how happy he might have been in his own wild country, where half-pay would have been competence, had his Judith been spared to him, and he could have laid his head upon her bosom.

Chapter Ten

In which Major McShane narrates some curious Matrimonial Speculations

Our hero was soon fitted out with the livery of a groom, and installed as the confidential servant of Captain O’Donahue, who had lodgings on the third floor in a fashionable street. He soon became expert and useful, and, as the captain breakfasted at home, and always ordered sufficient for Joey to make another cold meal of during the day, he was at little or no expense to his master.

One morning, when Captain O’Donahue was sitting in his dressing-gown at breakfast, Joey opened the door, and announced Major McShane.

“Is it yourself, O’Donahue?” said the major, extending his hand; “and, now, what d’ye think has brought me here this fine morning? It’s to do a thing that’s rather unusual with me,—neither more nor less than to pay you the 20 pounds which you lent me a matter of three years ago, and which, I dare say, you never expected to see anything but the ghost of.”

“Why, McShane, if the truth must be told, it will be something of a resurrection when it appears before me,” replied O’Donahue; “I considered it dead and buried; and, like those who are dead and buried, it has been long forgotten.”

“Nevertheless, here it is in four notes—one, two, three, four: four times five are twenty; there’s arithmetic for you, and your money to boot, and many thanks in the bargain, by way of interest. And now, O’Donahue, where have you been, what have you been doing, what are you doing, and what do you intend to do? That’s what I call a comprehensive inquiry, and a very close one too.”

“I have been in London a month, I have done nothing, I am doing nothing, and I don’t know what I intend to do. You may take that for a comprehensive answer.”

“I’ll tell you all about myself without your asking. I have been in London for nearly two years, one of which I spent in courting, and the other in matrimony.”

“Why, you don’t mean to say that you are married, McShane; if so, as you’ve been married a year, you can tell me, am I to give you joy?”

“Why, yes, I believe you may; there’s nothing so stupid, O’Donahue, as domestic happiness, that’s a fact; but, altogether, I have been so large a portion of my life doubtful where I was to get a dinner, that I think that on the whole I have made a very good choice.”

“And may I inquire who is the party to whom Major McShane has condescended to sacrifice his handsome person?”

“Is it handsome you mane? As the ugly lady said to the looking-glass, I beg no reflections—you wish to know who she is; well, then, you must be content to listen to all my adventures from the time we parted, for she is at the end of them, and I can’t read backwards.”

“I am at your service, so begin as you please.”

“Let me see, O’Donahue, where was it that we parted?”

“If I recollect, it was at the landing made at —, where you were reported killed.”

“Very true, but that, I gave my honour, was all a lie; it was fat Sergeant Murphy that was killed, instead of me. He was a terrible fellow, that Sergeant Murphy; he got himself killed on purpose, because he never could have passed his accounts; well, he fought like a devil, so peace be with him. I was knocked down, as you know, with a bullet in my thigh, and as I could not stand, I sat upon the carcass of Sergeant Murphy, bound up my leg, and meditated on sublunary affairs. I thought what a great rogue he was, that Sergeant Murphy, and how he’d gone out of the world without absolution; and then I thought it very likely that he might have some money about him, and how much better it would be that I should have it to comfort me in prison than any rascally Frenchman, so I put my hand in his pocket and borrowed his purse, which was, taking the difference of size, as well lined as himself. Well, as you had all retreated and left me to be taken prisoner, I waited very patiently till they should come and carry me to the hospital, or wherever else they pleased. They were not long coming for me: one fellow would have passed his bayonet through me, but I had my pistol cocked, so he thought it advisable to take me prisoner. I was taken into the town, not to the hospital or the prison, but quartered at the house of an old lady of high rank and plenty of money. Well, the surgeon came and very politely told me that he must cut off my leg, and I very politely told him to go to the devil; and the old lady came in and took my part, when she saw what a handsome leg it was, and sent for another doctor at her own expense, who promised to set me on my pins in less than a month. Well, the old lady fell in love with me; and although she was not quite the vision of youthful fancy, as the saying is, for she had only one tooth in her head, and that stuck out half an inch beyond her upper lip, still she had other charms for a poor devil like me; so I made up my mind to marry her, for she made cruel love to me as I laid in bed, and before I was fairly out of bed the thing was settled, and a week afterwards the day was fixed; but her relatives got wind of it, for, like an old fool, she could not help blabbing, and so one day there came a file of soldiers, with a corporal at their head, informing me that I was now quite well, and therefore, if it was all the same to me, I must go to prison. This was anything but agreeable, and contrary to rule. As an officer, I was entitled to my parole; and so I wrote to the commanding officer, who sent for me, and then he told me I had my choice, to give up the old lady, whose friends were powerful, and would not permit her to make a fool of herself (a personal remark, by the bye, which it was unhandsome to make to a gentleman in my circumstances), or to be refused parole, and remain in prison, and that he would give me an hour to decide; then he made me a very low bow, and left me. I was twisting the affair over in my mind, one moment thinking of her purse and carriage and doubloons, and another of that awful long tooth of hers, when one of her relatives came in and said he had a proposal to make, which was, that I should be released and sent to Gibraltar, without any conditions, with a handsome sum of money to pay my expenses, if I would promise to give up the old lady now and for ever. That suited my book; I took the money, took my leave, and a small vessel took me to Gibraltar; so after all, you see, O’Donahue, the thing did not turn out so bad. I lost only an old woman with a long tooth, and I gained my liberty.”

 

“No; you got out of that affair with credit.”

“And with money, which is quite as good; so when I returned and proved myself alive, I was reinstated, and had all my arrears paid up. What with Sergeant Murphy’s purse, and the foreign subsidy, and my arrears, I was quite flush; so I resolved to be circumspect, and make hay while the sun shone: notwithstanding which, I was as nearly trapped by a cunning devil of a widow. Two days more, and I should have made a pretty kettle of fish of it.”

“What, at your age, McShane?”

“Ah, bother! but she was a knowing one—a widow on a first floor, good-looking, buxom, a fine armful, and about thirty—met her at a party—pointed out to me as without encumbrance, and well off—made up to her, escorted her home—begged permission to call, was graciously received—talked of her departed husband, thought me like him—everything so comfortable—plenty of plate—good furniture—followed her up—received notes by a little boy in sky-blue and silver sugar-loaf buttons—sent me all her messages—one day in the week to her banker’s to cash a check. Would you believe the cunning of the creature? She used to draw out 25 pounds every week, sending me for the money, and, as I found out afterwards, paid it in again in fifties every fortnight, and she only had 50 pounds in all. Wasn’t I regularly humbugged? Made proposals—was accepted—all settled, and left off talking about her departed. One day, and only two days before the wedding, found the street-door open, and heard a noise between her and her landlady of the top of the stairs, so I waited at the bottom. The landlady was insisting upon her rent, and having all her plate back again—my charming widow entreating for a little delay, as she was to be married—landlady came downstairs, red as a turkey-cock, so I very politely begged her to walk into the parlour, and I put a few questions, when I discovered that my intended was a widow with a pension of 80 pounds a-year, and had six children, sent out of the way until she could find another protector, which I resolved, at all events, should not be Major McShane; so I walked out of the door, and have never seen her since.”

“By the head of Saint Patrick, but that was an escape!”

“Yes, indeed, the she-devil with six children, and 80 pounds a year; it’s a wicked world this, O’Donahue. Well, I kept clear of such cunning articles, and only looked after youth and innocence in the city. At last I discovered the only daughter of a German sugar-baker in the Minories, a young thing about seventeen, but very little for her age. She went to a dancing-school, and I contrived, by bribing the maid, to carry on the affair most successfully, and she agreed to run away with me: everything was ready, the postchaise was at the corner of the street, she came with her bundle in her hand. I thrust it into the chaise, and was just tossing her in after it, when she cried out that she had forgotten something, and must go back for it; and away she went, slipping through my fingers. Well, I waited most impatiently for her appearance, and at last saw her coming; and what d’ye think she’d gone back for? By the powers, for her doll, which she held in her hand! And just as she came to the chaise, who should come round the corner but her father, who had walked from Mincing Lane. He caught my mincing Miss by the arm, with her doll and her bundle, and bundled her home, leaving me and the postchaise, looking like two fools. I never could see her again, or her confounded doll either.”

“You have been out of luck, McShane.”

“I’m not sure of that, as the affair has ended. Now comes another adventure, in which I turned the tables, anyhow. I fell in with a very pretty girl, the daughter of a lawyer in Chancery Lane, who was said to have, and (I paid a shilling at Doctors’ Commons, and read the will) it was true enough, an independent fortune from her grandmother. She was always laughing full of mischief and practical jokes. She pretended to be pleased, the hussey, with my addresses, and at last she consented, as I thought, to run away with me. I imagined that I had clinched the business at last, when one dark night I handed her into a chaise, wrapped up in a cloak, and crying. However, I got her in, and away we went as if the devil was behind us. I coaxed her and soothed her, and promised to make her happy; but she still kept her handkerchief up to her eyes, and would not permit me a chaste salute—even pushed me away when I would put my arm round her waist; all which I ascribed to the extra shame and modesty which a woman feels when she is doing wrong. At last, when about fifteen miles from town, there was a burst of laughter, and ‘I think we have gone far enough, Major McShane.’ By all the saints in the calendar, it was her scamp of a brother that had taken her place. ‘My young gentleman,’ said I, ‘I think you have not only gone far enough, but, as I shall prove to you, perhaps a little too far,’ for I was in no fool of a passion. So I set to, beat him to a mummy, broke his nose, blackened both his eyes, and knocked half his teeth down his throat; and when he was half dead, I opened the chaise door as it whirled along, and kicked him out to take his chance of the wheels, or any other wheels which the wheel of fortune might turn up for him. So he went home and told his sister what a capital joke it was, I’ve no doubt. I’ll be bound the young gentleman has never run away with an Irishman since that: however, I never heard any more about him, or his lovely sister.”

“Now, then, for the wind up, McShane.”

“Courting’s very expensive, especially when you order postchaises for nothing at all, and I was very nearly at the end of my rhino; so I said to myself, ‘McShane, you must retrench.’ And I did so; instead of dining at the coffee-house, I determined to go to an eating-house, and walked into one in Holborn, where I sat down to a plate of good beef and potatoes, and a large lump of plum-pudding, paid 1 shilling and 6 pence, and never was better pleased in my life; so I went there again, and became a regular customer; and the girls who waited laughed with me, and the lady who kept the house was very gracious. Now, the lady was good-looking, but she was rather too fat; there was an amiable look about her, even when she was carving beef; and by degrees we became intimate, and I found her a very worthy creature, and as simple-minded as a child, although she could look sharp after her customers. It was, and is now, a most thriving establishment—nearly two hundred people dine there every day. I don’t know how it was, but I suppose I first fell in love with her beef; and then with her fair self; and finding myself well received at all times, I one day, as she was carving a beefsteak-pie which might have tempted a king for its fragrance, put the question to her, as to how she would like to marry again. She blushed, and fixed her eyes down upon the hole she had made in the pie, and then I observed that if there was a hole in my side as big as there was in the pie before her, she would see her image in my heart. This pretty simile did the business for me, and in a month we were married; and I never shall want a dinner as long as I live, either for myself or friend. I will put you on the free list, O’Donahue, if you can condescend to a cook’s shop: and I can assure you that I think I have done a very wise thing, for I don’t want to present any wife at Court, and I have a very comfortable home.”

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25 
Рейтинг@Mail.ru