As soon as O'Connor had made some little way from the scene of his sudden and agitating interview with Miss Ashwoode, he slackened his pace, and with slow steps began to retrace his way toward the city. So listless and interrupted was his progress, that the sun had descended, and twilight was fast melting into darkness before he reached that point in the road at which diverged the sequestered path which he had followed. As he approached the spot, he observed a small man, with a pipe in bis mouth, and his person arranged in an attitude of ease and graceful negligence, admirably calculated to exhibit the symmetry and perfection of his bodily proportions. This man had planted himself in the middle of the road, so as completely to command the pass, and, as our reader need scarcely be informed, was no other than Larry Toolethe important personage to whom we have already introduced him.
As O'Connor approached, Larry advanced, with a slow and dignified motion, to receive him: and removing his pipe from his mouth with a nonchalant air, he compressed the lighted contents of the bowl with his finger, and then deposited the utensil in his coat pocket, at the same time, executing, in a very becoming manner, his most courtly bow. Somewhat surprised, and by no means pleasantly, at an interruption of so unlooked-for a kind, O'Connor observed, impatiently, I have neither time nor temper, friend, to suffer delay or listen to foolery; and observing that Larry was preparing to follow him, he added curtly, I desire no company, sirrah, and choose to be alone.
An' it's exactly because you wish to be alone, and likes solitude, observed the little man, that you and me will shoot, being formed by the bountiful hand iv nature, barrin' a few small exceptions,here he glanced complacently at his right leg, which was a little in advance of its companionas similiar as two eggs.
Being in no mood to tolerate, far less to encourage this annoying intrusion, O'Connor pursued his way at a quickened pace, and in obstinate silence, and in a little time exhibited a total and very mortifying forgetfulness of Mr. Toole's bodily proximity. That gentleman, however, was not so easily to be shaken offhe perseveringly followed, keeping a pace or two behind.
It's parfectly unconthrovertible, pursued that worthy,
p.24with considerable solemnity and emphasis, and at laste as plain as the nose on your face, that you haven't the smallest taste of a conciption who it is you're spakin' too, Mr. O'Connor.
And pray who may you be, friend? inquired he, somewhat surprised at being thus addressed by name.
Who else would I be, your honour, rejoined the persevering applicantwho else could I be, if you had but a glimmer iv light to contemplate my forrum and fatures, but Laurence Toolecalled by the men for the most part Misthur Toole, and (he added in a softened tone) by the girls most commonly designated Larry.
HaLarryLarry Toole! exclaimed O'Connor, half reconciled to an intrusion up to that moment so ill endured. Well, Larry, tell me briefly how are the family at the manor, yonder?
Why, plase your honour, rejoined Larry, promptly, the ould masthur, that's Sir Richard, is much oftener gouty than good-humoured, and more's the pity. I b'lieve he's breaking down very fast, and small blame to him, for he lived hard, like a rale honourable gentleman. An' then, the young masthur, that's Masthur Henrybut you didn't know him so wellhe's getting on at the divil's ratescatt'ring guineas like small shot. They say he plays away a power of money; and he and the masthur himself has often hard words enough between them about the way things is goin' on; but he ates and dhrinks well, an' the health he gets is as 'good as he wants for his purposes.
Wellbut your young mistress, suggested O'Connoryou have not told me yet how Miss Ashwoode has been ever since. How have her health and spirits beenhas she been well?
Mixed middlin', like belly bacon, replied Mr. Toole, with an air of profound sympathyshilly-shally, siroff an' on, like an April daysometimes atin' her victuals,sometimes lavin' themno sartainty. I think the ould masthur's gout and crossness, and the young one's vagaries, is frettin' her; and it's sorry I am to see it. An' there's Miss Emilythat's Miss Coplanda rale jovial slip iv a young lady. I think you've seen her once or twice up at the manor; but now, since her father, the ould General, died, she is stayin' for good with the family. She's a fine lady, and (drawing close to O'Connor, and speaking with very significant emphasis) she has ten thousand pounds of her owndo you mind me, ten thousandit's a good fortuneis not it, sir?
He paused for a moment, and receiving no answer, which he interpreted as a sign that the announcement was operating as it ought, he added with a confidential wink
p.25I thought I might as well put you up to it, you know, for no one knows where a blessin' may light.
Larry, said O'Connor, after a considerable silence, somewhat abruptly and suddenly recollecting the presence of that little personif you have aught to say to me, speak it quickly. What may your business be?
Why, sir, replied he, the long and short of it is, I left Sir Richard more than a week since. Not that I was turned awayno, Mr. O'Connor, continued Mr. Toole, with edifying majesty, no sich thing at all in the wide world. My resignation, sir, was the fruit of my own solemn convictionsfor the five years I was with the family, I had no comfort, or aise, or pace. I may as well spake plain to you, sir, for you, like myself, is young.Mr. Toole was certainly at the wrong side of fiftyyou can aisily understand me, sir, when I siy that I'm the victim iv romance, bad cess to itromance, sir; my buzzam, sir, was always open to tindher impressionsimpressions, sir, that came into it as natural as pigs into a pittaty garden. I could not shut them outthe short and the long iv it is, I was always fallin' in love, since I was the size iv a quart poteternally fallin' in love. Mr. Toole sighed, and then resumed. I done my best to smother my emotions, but passion, sir, young and ardent passion, is impossible to be suppressed: you might as well be trying to keep strong beer in starred bottles durin' the pariod iv the dog days. But I never knew rightly what love was all out, in rale, terrible perfection, antill Mistress Betsy came to live in the family. I'll not attempt to describe herit's enough to say she fixed my affections, and done for myself. She is own maid to the young mistress. I need not expectorate upon the progress iv my courtshipit's quite enough to observe, that for a considherable time my path was strewed with flowers, antil a young chapan English bliggard, one Peter Cloutan' it's many's the clout he got, the Lord be thanked for that same!a lump iv a chap ten times as ugly as the divil, and without more shapes about him than a pound of crudsan impittant, ignorant, presumptions, bothered, bosthoonantil this gentlemanthis Misthur Peter Clout, made his by appearance; then all at once the divil's delight began. Betsythe lovely Betsy Careythe lovely, the vartious, the beautiful, and the exaltedbegan to play thricks. I know she was in love with meover head and ears, as bad as myselfbut woman is a mystarious agent, an' bangs Banagher. Long as I've been larnin', I never could larn why it is they take delight in tormentin' the tindher-hearted.
This reflection was uttered in a tone of tender woe, and the speaker paused for some symptom of assent from his auditor. It is, however, hardly necessary to say that he paused in vain.
p.26O'Connor had enough to occupy his mind; and so far from listening to his companion's narrative, he was scarcely conscious that Mr. Toole, in bodily presence, was walking beside him. That tindher-hearted individual accordingly resumed the thread of his discourse.
But, at any rate, she laid herself out to make me jealous of Peter Clout; and, with the blessin' iv the divil, she succeeded complately. Things were going on this wayshe lettin' on to be mighty fond iv Peter, an' me gettin' angrier an' angrier, and Mr. Clout more an' more impittent every day, antill I seen there was no use in purtendin'; so one mornin' when we were both of usmyself and Mr. Peter Cloutclainin' up the things in the pantry, I thought I might as well have a bit iv discourse with himwhen I seen, do ye mind, there was no use in mortifyin' the chap with contempt, for I did not spake to him, good, bad, or indifferent, for more than a fortnight, an' he was so ignorant and unmannerly he never noticed the differ. When I seen there was no use in keepin' him at a distance, says I to him one day in the panthryMr. Clout, says I, your conduct in regard iv some persons in this house, says I, is iv a description that may be shuitable to the English spalpeens, says I, but is about as like the conduct of a gintleman, says I, as blackin' is to plate powder. So he turns round, an' he looks at me as if I was a Pollyphamius. Mind your work, says I, young man, an' don't be lookin' at me as if I was a hathian godess, says I. It's Mr. Toole that's speakin' to you, an' you betther mind what he says. The long an' the short iv it is, I don't like you to be hugger-muggering with a sartain delicate famale in this establishment; an' if I catch you talkin' any more to Misthress Betsy Carey, I give you fair notice, it's at your own apparel. Beware of mefor as sure as you don't behave to my likin', you might as well be in the one panthry with a hyania, says I, an' it was thrue for me, an' it was the same way with my father before me, an' all the Tooles up to the time of Noah's ark. In pace I'm a turtle-dove all out; but once I'm riz, I'm a rale tarin' vulture.
Here Mr. Toole paused to call up a look, and after a grim shake of the head, he resumed.
Things went on aisy enough for a day or two, antill I happened to walk into the sarvants' hall, an' who should I see but Mr. Clout sittin' on the same stool with Misthriss Betsy, an' his arm round her waistso when I see that, before any iv them could come between us, with the fair madness I made one jump at him, an' we both had one another by the windpipe before you'd have time to bless yourself. Well, round an' round we went, rowlin' with our heads and backs agin the walls, an' divil a spot of us but was black an' blue, antill we
p.27kem to the chimney; an' sure enough when we did, down we rowled both together, glory be to God! into the fire, an' upset a kittle iv wather on top iv us; an' with that there was sich a screechin' among the women, an' maybe a small taste from ourselves, that the masthur kem in, an' if he didn't lay on us with his walkin' stick it's no matter; but, at any rate, as soon as we recovered from the scaldin' an' the bruises, I retired, an' the English chap was turned away; an' that's the whole story, an' I tuk my oath that I'll never go into sarvice in a family again. I can't make any hand of womenthey're made for desthroyin' all sorts iv pace iv mindthey're etarnally triflin' with the most sarious and sacred emotions. I'll never sarve any but single gentlemen from this out, if I was to be sacrificed for itnever a bit, by the hokey!
So saying, Mr. Toole, haying, in the course of his harangue, reproduced his pipe from his pocket, with a view to flourish it in emphatic accompaniment with the cadences of his voice, smote the bowl of it upon the edge of his cocked hat, which he held in his hand, with so much passion, that the head of the pipe flew across the road, and was for ever lost among the docks and nettles. One glance he deigned to the stump which remained in his hand, and then, with an air of romantic recklessness which laughs at all sacrifices, he flung it disdainfully from him, clapped his cocked hat upon his head with a vehemence which brought it nearly to the bridge of his nose, and, planting his hands in his breeches' pockets, he glanced at the stars with a scowl which, if they take any note of things terrestrial, must have filled them with alarm.
Suddenly recollecting himself, Mr. Toole perceived that his intended master, having walked on, had left him considerably behind; he therefore put himself into an easy amble, which speedily brought him up with the chase.
Mr. O'Connor, plase your honour, he exclaimed, sure it's not possible it's goin' to lave me behind you are, an' me so proud iv your company; an', moreover, after axin' you for a situationthat is, always supposin' you want the sarvices iv a rale dashin' young fellow, that's up to everything, an' willing to sarve you in any incapacity. An' by gorra, sir, continued he, pathetically, it's next door to a charity to take me, for I've but one crown in the wide world left, an' I must change it to-night; an' once I change money, the shillin's makes off with themselves like a hat full of sparrows into the elements, the Lord knows where.
With a desolate recklessness, he chucked the crown-piece into the air, caught it in his palm, and walked silently on.
Well, well, said O'Connor, if you choose to make so uncertain an engagement as for the term of my stay in Dublin, you are welcome to be my servant for so long.
It's a bargain, shouted Mr. Toolea bargain, plase your honour, done and done on both, sides. I'm your manhurra!
They had already entered the suburbs, and before many minutes were involved in the dark and narrow streets, threading their way, as best they might, toward the genial harbourage of the Cock and Anchor.