Legends and Stories of Ireland, by Samuel Lover, [1831, 1834], at sacred-texts.com
THE only introduction I shall attempt to the following "extravaganza" is to request the reader to suppose it to be delivered by a frolicking Irish peasant In the richest brogue and most dramatic manner.
"I'll tell you, sir, a mighty quare story, and it's as thrue as I'm standin' here, and that's no lie.
"It was in the time of the 'ruction, whin the long summer days, like many a fine fellow's precious life, was out short by raison of the martial law, that wouldn't let a dacent boy be out in the evenin', good or bad; for whin the day's work was over, divil a one of us dar go to meet a frind over a glass, or a girl at the dance, but must go home and shut ourselves up, and never budge, nor rise latch; nor dhraw boult, antil the morning kem agin.
"Well, to come to my story. 'Twas afther night-fall, and we wor sittin' round the fire, and the praties wor boilin', and the noggins of butthermilk was standin' ready for our suppers, whin a knock kem to the door.
"'Whisht!' says my father. 'Here's the sojers come upon us now,' says he. 'Bad luck to thim, the villians! I'm afeared they seen a glimmer of the fire through the crack in the door,' says he.
"'No,' says my mother, 'for I'm afther hangin' an ould sack and my new petticoat agin it a while ago.'
"'Well, whisht, anyhow,' says my father, 'for there's a knock agin,' and we all held our tongues till another thump kem to the door.
"'Oh, it's a folly to purtind any more,' says my father; 'they're too cute to be put off that-a-way,' says he. 'Go, Shamus,' says he to me, 'and see who's in it.'
"'How can I see who's in it in the dark?' says I.
"'Well,' says he, 'light the candle, thin, and see who's in it, but don't open the door, for your life, barrin' they brake it in,' says he, 'exceptin' to the sojers, and spake thim fair, if it's thim.'
"So with that I wint to the door, and there was another knock.
"'Who's there?' says I.
"'It's me,' says he.
"'Who are you?' says I.
"'A frind,' says he.
"'Baithershin!' says I--' who are you, at all?'
"'Arrah! don't you know me?' says he.
"'Divil a taste,' says I.
"'Sure I'm Paddy the Piper,' says he.
"'Oh, thunder an' turf,' says I, 'is it you, Paddy, that's in it?'
"'Sorra one else,' says he.
"'And what brought you at this hour?' says I.
"'By gar,' says he, 'I didn't like goin' the roun' by the road,' says he, 'and so I kem the short cut, and that's what delayed me,' says he.
"'Oh, bloody wars!' says I. 'Paddy, I wouldn't be in your shoes for the king's ransom,' says I; 'for you know yourself it's a hangin' matther to be cotched out these times,' says I.
"'Sure, I know that,' says he, 'God help me; and that's what I kem to you for,' says he; 'and let me in for ould acquaintance sake,' says poor Paddy.
"'Oh, by this and that,' says I, 'I darn't open the door for the wide world; and sure you know it; and throth, if the Husshians or the Yeos ketches you,' says I, 'they'll murther you, as sure as your name's Paddy.'
"'Many thanks to you,' says he, 'for your good intintions; but, plaze the pigs, I hope it's not the likes o' that is in store for me, anyhow.'
"'Faix, then,' says I, 'you had betther lose no time in hidin' yourself,' says I; 'for throth, I tell you, It's a short thrial and a long rope the Husshians would be afther givin' you--for they've no justice and less marcy, the villians!'
"'Faith, thin, more's the raison you should let me in, Shamus,' says poor Paddy.
"'It's a folly to talk,' says I. 'I darn't open the door.'
"'Oh, then, millia murther?' says Paddy, 'what'll become of me, at all, at all?' says he.
"'Go aff into the shed,' says I, 'behin' the house, where the cow is, and there there's an iligant lock o' straw that you may go sleep in,'saya I, 'and a fine bed it id be for a lord, let alone a piper.'
"So off Paddy set to hide in the shed, and throth, it wint to our hearts to refuse him, and turn him away from the door, more by token when the praties was ready--for sure, the bit and the sup Is always welkim to the poor thraveller. Well, we all wint to bed, and Paddy hid himself in the cow-house; and now I must tell you how it was with Paddy:
"You see, afther sleeping for some time, Paddy wakened up thinkin' It was mornin', but it wasn't mornin' at all, but only the light o' the moon that deceaved him; but at all evints, he wanted to be stirrin' airly, bekase he was goin' off to the town hard by, it bein' fair day, to pick up a few ha'pence with his pipes--for the divil a betther piper was in all the counthry round nor Paddy; and everyone gave it up to Paddy that he was iligant an the pipes, and played 'Jinny bang'd the Weaver' beyant tellin', and the 'Hare in the Corn,' that you'd think the very dogs was in it and the horsemen ridin' like mad.
"Well, as I was sayin', he set off to go to the fair, and he wint meandherin' along through the fields, but he didn't go far, antil climbin' up through a hedge, when he was comin' out at t'other side, his head kem plump agin somethin' that made the fire flash out iv his eyes. So with that he looks up--and what do you think it was, Lord be merciful to us! but a corpse hangin' out of a branch of a three.
"'Oh, the top o' the mornin' to you, sir,' says Paddy, 'and is that the way with you, my poor fellow? Throth, you tuk a start out o' me,' says poor Paddy; and 'twas thrue for him, for it would make the heart of a stouter man nor Paddy jump to see the like, and to think of a Chrishthan crathur being hanged up, all as one as a dog.
"Now, 'twas the rebels that hanged this chap--bekase, you see, the corpse had got clothes an him, and that's the raison that one might know It was the rebels--by raison that the Husshians and the Orangemen never hanged anybody wid good clothes an him, but only the poor and definceless crathurs like us; so, as I said before, Paddy knew well it was the boys that done it; 'and,' says Paddy, eyin' the corpse, 'by my sowl, thin, but you have a beautiful pair o' boots an you,' says he, 'and it's what I'm thinkin' you won't have any great use for thim no more; and sure, it's a shame to the likes o' me,' says he, 'the best piper in the sivin counties, to be trampin' wid a pair of ould brogues not worth three traneeens, and a corpse with such an iligant pair o' boots, that wants someone to wear thim. So, with that, Paddy lays hould of him by the boots, and began a-pullin' at thim, but they wor mighty stiff; and whether it wis by raison of their bein' so tight, or the branch of the three a-jiggin' up an' down, all as one as a weighdee buckettee, an' not lettin' Paddy cotch any right hoult o' thim--he could get no advantage o' thim at all--and at last he gev it up, and was goin' away, whin lookin' behind him agin, the sight of the iligant fine boots was too much for him, and he turned back, determined to have the boots, anyhow, by fair means or foul; and I'm loath to tell you now how he got thim--for indeed it was a dirty turn, and throth, it was the only dirty turn l ever knew Paddy to be guilty av; and you see it was this a-way; 'pon my sowl, he pulled out a big knife, and by the same token, it was a knife with a fine buck-handle and a murtherin' big blade, that an uncle o' mine, that was a gardener at the lord's, made Paddy a prisint av; and more by token, it was not the first mischief that knife done, for it cut love between thim, that was the best of finds before; and sure, 'twas the wondher of everyone, that two knowledgable men, that ought to know betther, would do the likes, and give and take sharp steel in frindship; but I'm forgettin'--well, he outs with his knife, and what does he do, but be cuts off the legs of the corpse; 'and,' says he, 'I can take off the boots at my convaynience;' and throth, it was, as I said before, a dirty turn.
"Well, air, he tuck'd the legs undher his arms, and at that minit the moon peeped out from behind a cloud--'Oh! is it there you are?' says be to the moon, for he was an impidint chap--and thin, seein' that he made a mistake, and that the moonlight deceaved him, and that It wasn't the airly dawn, as he conceaved; and bein' friken'd for fear himself might be cotched and trated like the poor corpse he was afther a malthreating, if he was found walking the counthry at that time--by gar, he turned about, and walked back agin to the cow-house, and hidin' the corpse's legs in the sthraw, Paddy wint to sleep agin. But what do you think? the divil a long Paddy was there, antil the sojers came in airnest, and by the powers, they carried off Paddy--and faith, it was only sarvin' him right for what he done to the poor corpse.
"Well, whin the mornin' kem, my father says to me: 'Go, Shamus,' says he, 'to the shed, and bid poor Paddy come in, and take share o' the praties, for I go bail, he's ready for his breakquest by this, anyhow!'
"Well, out I wint to the cow-house, and called out 'Paddy!' and afther callin' three or four times, and gettin' no answer, I wint in, and called agin, and divil an answer I got still.
"Blood-au-agers!' says I 'Paddy, where are you, at all, at all?' and so, castin' my eyes about the shed, I seen two feet stickin' out from undher the hape o' straw--' Musha! thin,' says I, 'bad luck to you, Paddy, but you're fond of a warm corner, and maybe you haven't made yourself as snug as a flay in a blanket? but I'll disturb your dhrames, I'm thinkin',' says I, and with that I laid hould of his heels (as I thought, God help me!), and givin' a good pull to waken him, as I intinded, away I wint, head over heels, and my brains was a'most knocked out agin' the wall.
"Well, whin I recovered myself, there I was, an the broad o' my back, and two things stickin' out o' my hands like a pair o' Husshian's horse-pist'ls--and I thought the sight 'id lave, my eyes when I seen they wor' two mortial legs.
"My jew'l, I threw them down like a hot pratie, and jumpin' up, I roared out millia murther. 'Oh, you murtherin' villian,' says I, shakin' my fist at the cow; 'oh, you unnath'ral baste,' says I, 'you've ate poor Paddy, you thievin' cannible; you're worse than a neygar,' says I; 'and bad luck to you, how dainty you are, that nothin' 'id serve you for your supper but the best piper In Ireland. Weirasthru! weirasthru! what'll the whole counthry say to such an unnath'ral murther? And you lookin' as innocent there as a lamb, and atin' your hay as quite as if nothin' happened.' With that I run out--for throth, I didn't like to be near her--and goin' into the house, I tould them all about It.
"'Arrah! be aisy,' says my father.
"'Bad luck to the lie I tell you,' says I.
"'Is it ate, Paddy?' says they.
"'Divil a doubt of it,' says I.
"'Are you sure, Shamus?' says my mother.
"'I wish I was as sure of a new pair o' brogues,' says I. 'Bad luck to the bit she has left iv him but his two legs.'
"'And do you tell me she ate the pipes too?' says my father.
"'By gor, I b'lieve so,'says l.
"'Oh, the divil fly away wid her,' says he. 'What a cruel taste she has for music!'
"'Arrah!' says my mother, 'don't be cursin' the cow that gives the milk to the childher.'
"'Yis, I will,' says my father. 'Why shouldn't I curse sich an unnath'ral baste?'
"'You oughtn't to curse any livin' thing that's undher your roof,' says my mother.
"'By my sowl, thin,' says my father, 'she shan't be undber my roof any more; for I'll sind her to the fair this minit,' says he, 'and sell her for whatever she'll bring. Go aff' says he, 'Shamus, the minit you've ate your breakquest, and dhrive her to the fair.'
"'Throth, I don't like to dhrive her,' says I.
"'Arrah don't be makin' a gommagh of yourself,' says he.
"'Faith, I don't,' says I.
"'Well, like or no like,' says he, 'you must dhrlve her.'
"'Sure, father,' says I, 'you could take more care iv her yourself.'
"'That's mighty good,' says he, 'to keep a dog and, bark myself;' and faith, I rec'llected the sayin' from that hour. 'Let me have no more words about it,' says he, 'but be aff wid you.'
"So aff I wint--and it's no lie 'I'm tellin' whin I say it was sore agin my will I had anything to do with sich a villian of a baste. But howsomever, I cut a brave long wattle, that I might dhrive the manather iv a thief, as she was, without bein' near her, at all, at all.
"Well, away we wint along the road, and mighty throng it wus wid the boys and the girls--and in short, all sorts, rich and poor, high and low, crowdin' to the fair.
"'God save you,' says one to me.
"'God save you, kindly,' says I.
"'That's a fine baste you're dhrivin',' says he.
"'Throth, she is," says I; though God knows it wint agin my heart to say a good word for the likes of her.
"'It's to the fair you're goin', I suppose,' says he, 'with the baste?' (He was a snug-lookin' farmer, ridin' a purty little grey hack.)
"'Faith, thin, you're right enough,' says I, 'It is to the fair I'm goin'.'
"'What do you expec' for her?' says he.
"'Faith, thin, myself doesn't know,' says I--and that was thrue enough, you see, bekase I was bewildhered like about the baste entirely.
"'That's a quare way to be goin' to market,' says he; 'and not to know what you expec' for your baste.'
"'Och,' says I--not likin' to let him suspict there was anything wrong wid her--' och,' says I, in a careless sort of a way, 'sure, no one can tell what a baste 'ill bring, antil they come to the fair,' says I, 'and see what price is goin'.'
"'Indeed, that's nath'ral enough,' says he. 'But if you wor bid a fair price before you come to the fair, sure you might as well take it,' says he.
"'Oh I've, no objection in life,' says I.
"'Well, thin, what 'ill you ax for her?' says he.
"'Why, thin, I wouldn't like to be onraisonable,' says I--(for the thruth was, you know, I wanted to get rid iv her)--'and so I'll take four pounds for her,' says I, 'and no less.'
"'No less!' says he.
"'Why, sure, that's chape enough,' says I.
"'Throth; it is,' says he; 'and I'm thinkin' It's too chape it is,' says he; 'for if there wasn't somethin' the matter, it's not for that you'd be sellin' the fine milch cow, as she is to all appearance.'
"'Indeed, thin,' says I, 'upon my conscience, she is a flue milch cow.'
"'Maybe,' says he, 'she's gone off her milk, in regard that she doesn't feed well?'
"'Och, by this and that,' says I, 'In regard of feedin' there's not the likes of her in Ireland. So make your mind aisy; and if you like her for the money, you may have her.'
"'Why, Indeed, I'm not in a hurry,' says he, 'and I'll wait to see how they go in the fair.'
"'With all my heart,' says I, purtendin' to be no ways consarned--but in throth, I began to be afeard that the people was seein' somethin' unnath'ral about her, and that we'd never get rid of her, at all, at all. At last we kem to the fair, and a great sight o' people was in it--throth, you'd think the whole world was there, let alone the standin's o' gingerbread and iligant ribbins, and makin's o' beautiful gownds, and pitch-and-toss, and merry go-rouns, and tints with the best av dhrink in thim, and the fiddles playin' up t' incourage the boys and girls; but I never minded thim at all, but detarmint to sell the thievin' rogue av a cow afore l'd mind any divarsh in life; so an I dhriv her into the thick av the fair, whin all of a suddint, as I kem to the door av a tint, up sthruck the pipes to the tune av 'Tattberin' Jack Welsh,' and, my jew'l, in a minit the cow cock'd her ears, and was makin' a dart at the tint.
"'Oh,'murther!' says I, to the boys standin' by, 'hould her, says I, 'hould her--she ate one piper already, the vagabone, and bad luck to her, she wants another.'
"'Is it a cow for to ate a piper?' says one o' thim.
"'Divil a bit o' lie in it, for I seen his corpse myself, and nothin' left but the two legs,' says I; 'and it's a folly to be sthrivin' to hide it, for I see she'll never lave it aff--as poor Paddy Grogan knows to his cost, Lord be marciful to him!'
"'Who's that takin' my name in vain?' says a voice in the crowd; and with that, shovin' the throng a one side, who the divil should I see but Paddy Grogan, to all appearance.
"'Oh, hould him too,' says I. 'Keep him av me, for it's not himself at all, but his ghost,' says I; 'for he was kilt last night to my sartin knowledge, every inch av him, all to his legs.'
"Well, sir, with that, Paddy--for it was Paddy himself, as it kem out afther--fell a laughin', that you'd think his sides 'ud split; and whin he kem to himself, he ups and he tould us howit was, as I tould you already; and the likes av the fun they made av me was beyant tellin' for wrongfully misdoubtin' the poor cow, and layin' the blame iv atin' a piper an her. So we all wint into a tint to have it explained, and by gor, it tuk a full gallon o' sper'ts t' explain it; and we dhrank health and long life to Paddy and the cow, and Paddy played that day beyant all tellin', and many a one said the likes was never heerd before or sence, even from Paddy himself--and av coorse, the poor slandhered cow was dhruv home agin, and many a quite day she had wid us afther that; and whin she died, throth, my father had sitch a regard for the poor thing, that he had her skinned, and an iligant pair of breeches made out iv her hide, and it's in the fam'ly to this day; and isn't it mighty remarkable it is, what I'm goin' to tell you now, but it's as thrue as I'm here, and from that out, anyone that has them breeches an, the minit a pair o' pipes sthrikes up, they can't rest, but goes jiggin' and jiggin' in their sate, and never stops as long as the pipes is pIayin'--and there," said he, slapping the garment in question that covered his sinewy limb, with a spank of his brawny hand that might have startled nerves more tender than mine--" there, there is the very breeches that's an me now and a fine pair they are this minit."