The Absentee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about The Absentee.

‘Old Nick,’ answered the postillion, coming close to the side of the carriage, and whispering—­’Old Nick, plase your honour, is our nickname for one Nicholas Garraghty, Esq., of College Green, Dublin, and St. Dennis is his brother Dennis, who is old Nick’s brother in all things, and would fain be a saint, only he is a sinner.  He lives just by here, in the country, under-agent to Lord Clonbrony, as old Nick is upper-agent—­it’s only a joke among the people, that are not fond of them at all.  Lord Clonbrony himself is a very good jantleman, if he was not an absentee, resident in London, leaving us and everything to the likes of them.’

Lord Colambre listened with all possible composure and attention; but the postillion having now made his linch-pin of wood, and fixed himself; he mounted his bar, and drove on, saying to Lord Colambre, as he looked at the road-makers—­

’Poor cratures!  They couldn’t keep their cattle out of pound, or themselves out of jail, but by making this road.’

’Is road-making, then, a very profitable business?—­Have road-makers higher wages than other men in this part of the country?’

‘It is, and it is not—­they have, and they have not—­plase your honour.’

‘I don’t understand you.’

’No, becaase you’re an Englishman—­that is, a Welshman—­I beg your honour’s pardon.  But I’ll tell you how that is, and I’ll go slow over these broken stones for I can’t go fast:  it is where there’s no jantleman over these under-agents, as here, they do as they plase; and when they have set the land they get rasonable from the head landlords, to poor cratures at a rack-rent, that they can’t live and pay the rent, they say—­’

‘Who says?’

’Them under-agents, that have no conscience at all.  Not all—­but some, like Dennis, says, says he, “I’ll get you a road to make up the rent:”  that is, plase your honour, the agent gets them a presentment for so many perches of road from the grand jury, at twice the price that would make the road.  And tenants are, by this means, as they take the road by contract, at the price given by the county, able to pay all they get by the job, over and above potatoes and salt, back again to the agent, for the arrear on the land.  Do I make your honour sensible?’ [Do I make you understand?]

‘You make me much more sensible than I ever was before,’ said Lord Colambre; ‘but is not this cheating the county?’

‘Well, and suppose,’ replied Larry, ’is not it all for my good, and yours too, plase your honour?’ said Larry, looking very shrewdly.

‘My good!’ said Lord Colambre, startled.  ‘What have I to do with it?’

’Haven’t you to do with the roads as well as me, when you’re travelling upon them, plase your honour?  And sure, they’d never be got made at all, if they weren’t made this ways; and it’s the best way in the wide world, and the finest roads we have.  And when the Rael jantlemen’s resident in the country, there’s no jobbing can be, because they’re then the leading men on the grand jury; and these journeymen jantlemen are then kept in order, and all’s right.’

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The Absentee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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