FARDOROUGHA, THE MISER.
By William Carleton
Fardorougha, the Miser.
It was on one of those nights in August, when the moon and stars shine through an atmosphere clear and cloudless, with a mildness of lustre almost continental, that a horseman, advancing at a rapid pace, turned off a remote branch of road up a narrow lane, and, dismounting before a neat whitewashed cottage, gave a quick and impatient knock at the door. Almost instantly, out of a small window that opened on hinges, was protruded a broad female face, surrounded, by way of nightcap, with several folds of flannel, that had originally been white.
"Is Mary Moan at home?" said the horseman.
"For a miricle-ay!" replied the female; "who's down, in the name o' goodness?"
"Why, thin, I'm thinkin' you'll be smilin' whin you hear it," replied the messenger. "The sorra one else than Honor Donovan, that's now marrid upon Fardorougha Donovan to the tune of thirteen years. Bedad, time for her, anyhow,—but, sure it'll be good whin it comes, we're thinkin'."
"Well, betther late than never—the Lord be praised for all His gifts, anyhow. Put your horse down to the mountin'-stone, and I'll be wid you in half a jiffy, acushla."
She immediately drew in her head, and ere the messenger had well placed his horse at the aforesaid stirrup, or mounting-stone, which is an indispensable adjunct to the midwife's cottage, she issued out, cloaked and bonneted; for, in point of fact, her practice was so extensive, and the demands upon her attendance so incessant, that she seldom, if ever, slept or went to bed, unless partially dressed. And such was her habit of vigilance, that she ultimately became an illustration of the old Roman proverb, Non dormio omnibus; that is to say, she could sleep as sound as a top to every possible noise except a knock at the door, to which she might be said, during the greater part of her professional life, to have been instinctively awake.
Having ascended the mounting-stone, and placed herself on the crupper, the guide and she, while passing down the narrow and difficult lane, along which they could proceed but slowly and with caution, entered into the following dialogue, she having first turned up the hood of her cloak over her bonnet, and tied a spotted cotton kerchief round her neck.
"This," said the guide, who was Fardorougha Donovan's servant-man, "is a quare enough business, as some o' the nabors do be sayin—marrid upon one another beyant thirteen year, an' ne'er a sign of a haporth. Why then begad it is quare."
"Whisht, whisht," replied Molly, with an expression of mysterious and superior knowledge; "don't be spakin' about what you don't understand—sure, nuttin's impossible to God, avick—don't you know that?"
"Oh, bedad, sure enough—that we must allow, whether or not, still—"
"Very well; seein' that, what more have we to say, barrin' to hould our tongues. Children sent late always come either for great good or great sarra to their parents—an' God grant that this may be for good to the honest people—for indeed honest people they are, by all accounts. But what myself wonders at is, that Honor Donovan never once opened her lips to me about it. However, God's will be done! The Lord send her safe over all her throubles, poor woman! And, now that we're out o' this thief of a lane, lay an for the bare life, and never heed me. I'm as good a horseman as yourself; and, indeed, I've a good right, for I'm an ould hand at it."
"I'm thinkin'," she added, after a short silence, "it's odd I never was much acquainted with the Donovans. I'm tould they're a hard pack, that loves the money."
"Faix," replied her companion, "Let Fardorougha alone for knowin' the value of a shillin'!—they're not in Europe can hould a harder grip o' one."
His master, in fact, was a hard, frugal man, and his mistress a woman of somewhat similar character; both were strictly honest, but, like many persons to whom God has denied offspring, their hearts had for a considerable time before been placed upon money as their idol; for, in truth, the affections must be fixed upon something, and we generally find that where children are denied, the world comes in and hardens by its influence the best and tenderest sympathies of humanity.
After a journey of two miles they came out on a hay-track, that skirted an extensive and level sweep of meadow, along which they proceeded with as much speed as a pillionless midwife was capable of bearing. At length, on a gentle declivity facing the south, they espied in the distance the low, long, whitewashed farm-house of Fardorougha Donovan. There was little of artificial ornament about the place, but much of the rough, heart-stirring wildness of