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—”