You see, there was a waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in Duleek here, hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous man he was, by all accounts. He had a wife, and av coorse they had childhre--and small blame to them--and plenty of them, so that the poor little waiver was obleeged to work his fingers to the bone a'most, to get them the bit and the sup; but he didn't begridge that, for be was an industherous crayther, as I said before, and it was up airly and down late wid him, and the loom never standin' still. Well, it was one mornin' that his wife called to him, and he sitting very busy throwin' the shuttle, and says she: "Come here," says she, "jewel, and ate your brekquest, now that it's ready." But he never minded her, but wint an workin'. So in a minit or two more, says she, callin' out to him agin: "Arrah! lave off slavin' yourself, my darlin', and ate your bit o' brekquest while it is hot."
"Lave me alone," says he, and he dhruv the shuttle fasther nor before.
Well, in a little time more, she goes over to him where he sot, and says she, coaxin' him like: "Thady dear," says she, "the stirabout will be stone cowld if you don't give over that weary work and come and ate it at wanst."
"I'm busy with a patthern here that is brakin' my heart," says the waiver, "and antil I complate it and masther it intirely, I won't quit."
"Oh, think o' the iligant stirabout, that 'ill be spylte intirely."
"To the divil with the stirabout," says he.
"God forgive you," says she, "for cursin' your good brekquest."
"Aye, and you too," says he.
"Throth, you're as cross as two sticks this blessed morning, Thady," says the poor wife; "and it's a heavy handful I have of you when you are cruked in your temper; but stay there if you like, and let your stirabout grow cowld and not a one o' me 'ill ax you agin;" and with that off she wint, and the waiver, sure enough, was mighty crabbed, and the more the wife spoke to him the worse be got, which, you know, is only nath'ral. Well, he left the loom at last, and wint over to the stirabout, and what would you think, but whin he looked at it, it was as black as a crow; for, you see, it was in the hoighth o' the summer, and the flies lit upon it to that degree that the stirabout was fairly covered with them.
"Why, thin, bad luck to your impidince," said the waiver. "Would no place sarve you but that? and is it spyling my brekquest yiz are, you dirty bastes?" And with that, bein' altogether cruked-tempered at the time, be lifted his hand, and he made one great slam at the dish o' stirabout, and killed no less than threescore-and-tin flies at the one blow. It was threescore-and-tin exactly, for he counted the carcases one by one, and laid them out an a clane plate for to view them.
Well, he felt a powerful sperit risin' in him when he seen the slaughther he done at one blow, and with that be got as consaited as the very dickens, and not a sthroke more work he'd do that day, but out he wint, and was fractious and impidint to everyone he met, and was squarin' up into their faces and sayin': "Look at that fist! That's the fist that killed threescore-and-tin at one blow--whoo!"
With that all the neighbours thought he was crack'd, and faith, the poor wife herself thought the same when he kem home in the evenin', afther spendin' every rap he had in dhrink, and swaggerin' about the place, and lookin' at his hand every minit.
"Indeed, an' your hand is very dirty, sure enough, Thady jewel," says the poor wife, and thrue for her, for be rowled into a ditch comin' home. "You'd betther wash it, darlin'."
"How dar you say dirty to the greatest hand in Ireland?" says he, going to bate her.
"Well, it's nat dirty," says she.
"It is throwin' away my time I have been all my life," says he, "livin' with you, at all, and stuck at a loom, nothin' but a poor waiver, when it is Saint George or the Dhraggin I ought to be, which is two of the siven champions o' Christendom."
"Well, suppose they christened him twice as much," says the wife, "sure, what's that to us?"
"Don't put in your prate," says he, "you ignorant sthrap," says he. "You're vulgar, woman--you're vulgar--mighty vulgar; but I'II have nothin' more to say to any dirty, snakin' thrade again--divil a more waivin' I'll do."
"Oh, Thady dear, and what'll the children do thin?"
"Let them go play marvels," says he.
"That would be but poor feedin' for them, Thady."
"They shan't want for feedin'," says he, "for it's a rich man I'll be soon, and a great man too."
"Usha, but I'm glad to hear it, darlin'--though I dunna how it's to be, but I think you had better go to bed, Thady."
"Don't talk to me of any bed, but the bed o' glory, woman," says he, lookin' mortial grand.
"Oh, God send! we'll all be in glory yet," says the wife, crassin' herself; "but go to sleep, Thady, for this present."
"I'll sleep with the brave yit," says he.
"Indeed, an' a brave' sleep will do you a' power o' good, my darlin'," says she.
"And it's I that will be the knight!" says he.
"All night, if you plaze, Thady," says she.
"None o' your coaxin'," says he. "I'm detarmined on it, and I'll set off immediantly, and be a knight arriant."
"A what!!!" says she.
"A knight arriant, woman."
"Lord be good to me, what's that?" says she.
"A knight arriant is a rale gintleman," says he, "going round the world for sport, with a swoord by his side, takin' whatever he plazes--for himself; and that's a knight arriant," says he.
(" Just a'most like yourself, sir," said Rory, with a sly, sarcastic look at the trooper, who sat listening to him with a sort of half-stupid, half-drunken wonder.)
Well, sure enough, he wint about among his neighbours the next day, and he got an ould kittle from one and a saucepan from another, and he took them to the tailor, and he sewed him up a shuit o' tin clothes like any knight arriant, and he borrowed a potlid, and that he was very partic'lar about, bekase it was his shield, and he wint to a frind o' his, a painther and glazier, and made him paint an his shield in big letthers:
"I'M THE MAN OF ALL MIN,
THAT KILL'D THREESCORE-AND-TIN,
AT A BLOW."
"When the people sees that," says the waiver to himself, "the sorra one will dar for to come near me."
And with that he tould the wife to scour out the small iron pot for him, "for," says he, "it will make an iligant helmet," and when it was done be put it an his head, and his wife said:
"Oh, murther, Thady jewel! is it puttin' a great heavy iron pot an your head you are, by way iv a hat?"
"Sartinly," says he, "for a knight arriant should always have a woight on his brain."
"But, Thady dear," says the wife, "there's a hole in it, and it can't keep out the weather."
"It will be the cooler," says he, puttin' it an him; "besides, if I don't like it, it is aisy to stop it with a wisp o' sthraw, or the like o' that"
"The three legs of it looks mighty quare stickin' up," says she.
"Every helmet has a spike stickin' out o' the top of it," says the weaver, "and if mine has three, it's only the grandher it is."
"Well," says the wife, getting bitther at last, "all I can say is, it isn't the first sheep's head was dhrees'd in it."
"Your sarvant, ma'am," says he, and of he set.
Well, he was in want of a horse, and so he wint to a field hard by, where the miller's horse was grazin', that used to carry the ground corn round the counthry. "This is the identical horse for me," says the waiver. "He is used to carryin' flour and mail, and what am I but the flower o' shovelry in a coat o' mail; so that the horse won't be put out iv his way in the laste."
But as he was ridin' him out o' the field, who should see him but the miller. "Is it stalin' my horse you are, honest man?" says the miller.
"No," says the waiver; "I'm only goin' to axercise him," says he, "in the cool o' the evenin'. It will be good for his health."
"Thank you kindly," says the miller; "but lave him where he is, and you'll obleege me."
"I can't afford it," says the waiver, runnin' the horse at the ditch.
"Bad luck to your impidince," says the miller. "You've as much tin about you as a thravellin' tinker; but you've more brass. Come back here, you vagabone!" says he.
But he was late. Away galloped the waiver, and took the road to Dublin, for he thought the best thing be could do was to go to the King o' Dublin (for Dublin was a grate place thin, and had a king iv its own), and he thought maybe the King o' Dublin would give him work. Well, he was four days goin' to Dublin, for the baste was not the best, and the roads worse, not all as one was now; but there was no turnpikes thin, glory be to God! Whin he got to Dublin, he wint sthrait to the palace, and whin he got into the coortyard he let his horse go and graze about the place, for the grass was growin' out betune the stones; everything was flourishin' thin, in Dublin, you see. Well, the king was lookin' out of his dhrawin'-room windy for divarshin whin the waiver kem in; but the waiver pretended not to see him, and he wint over to a stone sate undher the windy; for, you see, there was stone sates all round about the place for the accommodation o' the people, for the king was a dacent, obleegin' man. Well, as I said, the waiver wint over and lay down an one o' the sates, just undher the king's windy, and purtended to go asleep; but he took care to turn out the front of his shield that had the letters an it. Well, my dear, with that the king calls out to one of the lords of his coort that was standin' behind him, houldin' up the skirt of his coat, accordin' to raison, and says he: "Look here," says he, "what do you think of a vagabone like that, comin' undher my very nose to go sleep? It is thrue I'm a good king," says he, "and I 'commodate the people by havin' sates for them to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and contimplatlon of seein' me here lookin' out a' my dhrawin'-room windy for divarshin; but that is no raison they are to make a hotel o' the place, and come and sleep here. Who is it at all?" says the king.
"Not a one o me knows, plaze your Majesty."
"I think be must be a furriner," says the king, "bekase his dhress is outlandish."
"And doesn't know manners, more betoken," says the lord.
"I'll go down and circumspect him myself," says the king.
"Folly me," says he to the lord, wavin' his hand at the same time in the most dignacious manner.
Down he wint accordianly, followed by the lord; and when be whit over to where the waiver was lying, sure, the first thing he seen was his shieId with the big letthers an it, and with that says he to the lord: "By dad," says he, "this is the very man I want."
"For what, plaze your Majesty?" says the lord.
"To kill that vagabone dhraggin, to be sure," says the king.
"Sure, do you think he could kill him," says the lord, "when all the stoutest knights in the land wasn't aiquil to it, but never kem back, and was ate up alive by the' cruel desaiver."
"Sure, don't you see there," says the king, pointin' at the shield, "that be killed threescore-and-tin at one blow; and the man that done that, I think, is a match for anything."
So, with that, he wint over to the waiver and shuck him by the shouldher for to wake him, and the waiver rubbed his eyes as if just wakened, and the king says to him: "God save you," said he.
"God save you kindly," says the waiver, purtendin' he was quite onknowst who he was spakin' to.
"Do you know who I am," says the king, "that you make so free, good man?"
"No, Indeed," says the waiver; "you have the advantage o' me."
"To be sure I have," says the king, moighty high; " sure, ain't I the King o' Dublin?" says he.
The waiver dhropped down an his two knees forninst the king, and says he: "I beg God's pardon and yours for the liberty l tuk. Plaze your holiness, I hope you'll excuse it."
"No offince," says the king. "Get up, good man. And what brings you here?" says he.
"I'm in want o' work, plaze your riverince," says the waiver.
"Well, suppose I give you work?" says the king.
"I'll be proud to serve you, my lord," says the waiver.
"Very well," says the king. "You killed threescore-and-tin at one blow, I understan'," says the king.
"Yis,"says the waiver; "that was the last thrifle o'work I done, and I'm afeard my hand 'ill go out o' practice if I don't get some job to do at wanst."
"You shall have a job immediantly," says the king. "It is not threescore-and-tin, or any fine thing like that; it is only a blaguard dhraggin, that is disturbin' the counthry and ruinatin' my tinanthry wid aitin' their powlthry, and I'm lost for want of eggs," says the king.
"Throth, thin, plaze your worship," says the waiver, "you look as yollow as if you swallowed twelve yolks this minit."
"Well, I want this dhraggin to be killed," says the king. "It will be no throuble in life to you; and l am only sorry that it isn't betther worth your while, for he isn't worth fearin', at all; only I must tell you that he lives in the county Galway, in the middle of a bog, and he has an advantage in that"
"Oh, I don't value it in the laste," says the waiver; "for the last threescore-and-tin I killed was in a soft place"
"When will you undhertake the job, then?" says the king.
"Let me at him at wanst," says the waiver.
"That's what I like," says the king. "You're the very man for my money," says he.
"Talkin' of money," says the waiver, "by the same token, I'll want a thrifle o' change from you for my thravellin' charges."
"As much as you plaze," says the king; and with the word, he brought him into his closet, where there was an ould stockin' in an oak chest, burstin' wid goolden guineas.
"Take as many as you plaze," says the king; and sure enough, my dear, the little waiver stuffed his tin clothes as full as they could hould with them.
"Now, I'm ready for the road," says the waiver.'
"Very well," says the king; "but you must have a fresh horse," says he.
"With all my heart," says the waiver, who thought he might as well exchange the miller's ould garron for a betther.
And maybe it's wondherin' you are, that the waiver would think of goin' to fight the dhraggin afther what he heerd about him, when he was purtendin to be asleep; but he had no sitch notion; all he intended was--to fob the goold, and ride back again to Duleek with his gains and a good horse. But you see, cute as the waiver was, the king was cuter still; for these high quolity, you see, is great desaivers; and so the horse the waiver was put an was larned an purpose; and sure, the minit he was mounted, away powdhered the horse, and the divil a toe he'd go but right down to Galway. Well, for four days be was goin' evermore, until at last the waiver seen a crowd o' people runnin' as if Ould Nick was at their heels, and they shoutin' a thousand murdhers and cryin': "The dhraggin! the dhraggin! " and he couldn't stop the horse nor make him turn back, but away he pelted right forninst the terrible baste that was comin' up to him, and there was the most nefaarious smell o' sulphur, savin' your presence, enough to knock you down; and faith, the waiver seen he had no time to lose, end so he threwn himself off the horse and made to a three that was growin' nigh hand, and away he clambered up into it as nimble as a cat; and not a minit had he to spare, for the dhraggin kem up in a powerful rage, and he devoured the horse, body and bones, in less than no time; and then he began to sniffle and scent about for the waiver, and at last he slapt his eye on him, where he was, up in the three, and says he: "In throth, you might as well come down out o' that," says he, "for I'll have you as sure as eggs is mate."
"Divil a fut I'll go down," says the waiver.
"Sorra care, I care," says the dhraggin, "for you're as good as ready money in my pocket this minit; for I'll lie under this three," says he, "and sooner or later you must fall to my share;" and sure enough be sot down, and began to pick his teeth with his tail, afther the heavy brekquest he made that mornin' (for he ate a whole village, let alone the horse), end he got dhrowsy at last, and fell asleep; but before he wint to sleep he wound himself all round about the three, all as one, as a lady windin' ribbon round her finger, so that the waiver could not escape.
Well, as soon as the waiver knew he was dead asleep, by the snorin' of him--and every snore he let out of him was like a clap o' thunder--
(Here the trooper began to exhibit some symptoms of following the dragon's example--and perhaps the critics will say, no wonder--but Rory, notwithstanding, pursued the recital of the legend.)
That minit, the waiver began to creep down the three, as cautious as a fox; and he was very nigh-hand the bottom, when, bad cess to it, a thievin' branch he was dipindin an bruk, and down he fell right a-top o' the dhraggin: but if he did, good luck was an his side, for where should he fall but with his two legs right acrase the dhraggin's neck, and, my jew'l, he laid howlt o' the baste's ears, and. there he kept his grip, for the dhraggin wakened and endayvoured for to bite him; but, you see, by raison the waiver was behind his ears, he could not come at him, and with that, he endayvoured for to shake him off; but the divil a stir could he stir the waiver; and though be shuk all the scales an his body, he could not turn the scale agin the waiver.
"By the hokey, this is too bad intirely," says the dhraggin; "but if you won't let go," says he, " by the powers o' wildfire, I'll give you a ride that 'ill astonish your sivin small sinses, my boy;" and with that, away he flew like mad; and where do you think he did fly? By dad, be flew sthraight for Dublin--divil a less. But the waiver bein' an his neck was a great disthress to him, and he would rather have had him an inside passenger; but, anyway, he flew and be flew until he kem slap up agin the palace o' the king; for, bein' blind with the rage, he never seen it, and be knocked his brains out; that is, the small thrifle he had, and down he fell spacheless. An' you see, good luck would have it, the King o' Dublin' was lookin' out iv his dhrawin'-room windy for divarshin that day also, and whin he seen the waiver ridin' an the fiery dhraggin (for he was blazin' like a tar-barrel), be called out to his coortyers to come and see the show. "By the powdhers o' war, here comes the knight arriant," says the king, "ridin the dhraggin that's all afire, and if he gets into the palace, yiz must be ready wid the fire ingines," says he, "for to put him out." But when they seen the dhraggin fall outside, they all ran downstairs and scampered into the palace-yard for to circumspect the curiosity; and by the time they got down, the waiver had got off o' the dhraggin's neck, and runnin' up to the king, says he:
"Plaze your holiness," says be, "I did not think myself worthy of killin' this facetious baste, so I brought him to yourself for to do him the honour of decripitation by your own royal five fingers. But I tamed him first, before I allowed him the liberty for to dar to appear in your royal prisince, and you'll oblige me if you'll just make your mark with your own hand upon the onruly baste's neck." And with that, the king, sure enough, drew out his swoord and took the head aff the dirty brute, as clane as a new pin. Well, there was great rejoicin' in the coort that the dhraggin was killed; and says the king to the little waiver, says 'he: "You are a knight arriant as it is, and so it would be no use for to knight you over agin; but I will make you a lord," says he.
"Oh, Lord!" says the waiver, thundersthruck like at his own good luck.
"I will," says the king; "and as you are the first man that I ever heerd tell of that rode a dhraggin, you shall be called Lord 'Mount Dhraggin," says he.
"And where's my estates, plaze your holiness?" says the waiver, who always had a sharp look-out afther the main chance.
"Oh, I didn't forget that," says the king. "It is my royal pleasure to provide well for you, and for that raison I make you a present of all the dhraggins in the world, and give you the power over them from this out," says he.
"Is that all?" says the waiver.
"All?" says the king. "Why, you ongrateful little vagabone, was the like ever given to any man before?"
"I b'live not, indeed," says the waiver. "Many thanks to your Majesty."
"But that is not all I'll do for you," says the king. "I'll give you my daughther too, in marriage," says he. Now, you see,' that was nothin' more than what be promised the waiver in his first promise; for, by all accounts, the king's daughther was the greatest dhraggin ever was seen, and had the divil's own tongue, and a beard a yard long, which she purtended was put an her, by way of a penance, by Father Mulcahy, her confissor; but it was well known was in the family for ages, and no wondher it was so long, by raison of that same.
Rory paused. He thought that not only the closed eyes but the heavy breathing of the soldier gave sure evidence of sleep; and in another' minute, an audible snore gave notice that he might spare himself any further trouble; and forthwith the chronicler of The Little Weaver stole softly out of the room.