I could hardly refrain from laughing at this Irish gentleman and his friend, but I thought it advisable to retain my countenance. “My dear sir,” replied I, “it grieves me to the heart that I should have committed such an error, in not perceiving the gentility of your friend; had I not been so careless, I certainly should have requested him to do me the honour to accept a shilling, instead of having offered him the insult. I hope it is not now too late?”
“By the powers, I’m not one of those harum-scarum sort, who would make up a fight when there’s no occasion for it, and as your ’haviour is that of a gentleman, I think it will perhaps be better to shake hands upon it, and forget it altogether. Suppose, now, we’ll consider that it was all a mistake? You give the shilling, as you intended to do, I’ll swear, only you were in so great a hurry—and then, perhaps, you’ll not object to throw in another shilling for that same tap with the cane, just to wipe off the insult as it were, as we do our sins, when we fork out the money, and receive absolution from the padre; and then, perhaps, you will not think it too much if I charge another shilling for my time and trouble, for carrying a message between two gentlemen.”
“On the contrary, Mr O’Donaghan, I think all your demands are reasonable. Here is the money.”
Mr O’Donaghan took the three shillings. “Then, sir, and many thanks to you, I’ll wish you a good evening, and Mr O’Rourke shall know from me that you have absolution for the whole, and that you have offered every satisfaction which one gentleman could expect from another.” So saying, Mr O’Donaghan put his hat on with a firm cock, pulled on his gloves, manoeuvred his stick, and, with a flourishing bow, took his departure.
I had hardly dismissed this gentleman, and was laughing to myself at the ridiculous occurrence, when Mr Cophagus returned, first putting his cane up to his nose with an arch look, and then laying it down on the table and rubbing his hands. “Good—warm old lady. No—dead and cold? but left some thousands—only one legacy—old Tom cat—physic him to-morrow—soon die, and so on.”
On a more full explanation, I found that the old lady had left about nine thousand pounds in the funds and bank securities, all of which, with the exception of twenty pounds per annum to a favourite cat, was left to Mr Cophagus. I congratulated him upon this accession of fortune. He stated that the lease of the house and the furniture were still to be disposed of, and that afterwards he should have nothing more to do; but he wished me very much to assist him in rummaging over the various cabinets belonging to the old lady, and which were full of secret drawers; that in one cabinet alone he had found upwards of fifty pounds in various gold coins, and that if not well examined, they would probably be sold with many articles of consequence remaining in them.