The succeeding evening found them all assembled about Ned’s fireside in the usual manner; where M’Roarkin, after a wheezy fit of coughing and a draught of Nancy’s Porter, commenced to give them an account of Larry M’Farland’s Wake. We have observed before, that M’Roarkin was desperately asthmatic, a circumstance which he felt to be rather an unpleasant impediment to the indulgence either of his mirth or sorrow. Every chuckle at his own jokes ended in a disastrous fit of coughing; and when he became pathetic, his sorrow was most ungraciously dissipated by the same cause; two facts which were highly relished by his audience.
“Lakry M’Fakland, when a young man, was considered the best laborer within a great ways of him; and no servant-man in the parish got within five shillings a quarter of his wages. Often and often, when his time would be near out, he’d have offers from the rich farmers and gintlemen about him, of higher terms; so that he was seldom with one masther more nor a year at the very most. He could handle a flail with e’er a man that ever stepped in black leather; and at spade-work there wasn’t his aquil. Indeed, he had a brain for everything: he could thatch better nor many that arned their bread by it; could make a slide-car, straddle, or any other rough carpenter work, that it would surprise you to think of it; could work a kish or side creel beautifully; mow as much as any two men, and go down a ridge of corn almost as fast as you could walk; was a great hand at ditching, or draining meadows and bogs; but above all things he was famous for building hay-ricks and corn-stacks; and when Squire Farmer used to enter for the prize at the yearly plowing-match, he was sure to borrow the loan of Larry from whatever master he happened to be working with. And well he might, for the year out of four that he hadn’t Larry he lost the prize: and every one knew that if Larry had been at the tail of his plough, they would have had a tighter job of it in beating him.
“Larry was a light, airy young man, that knew his own value; and was proud enough, God knows, of what he could do. He was, indeed, two much up to sport and divarsion, and never knew his own mind for a week. It was against him that he never stayed long in one place; for when he got a house of his own afterwards, he had no one that cared anything in particular about him. Whenever any man would hire him, he’d take care to have Easter and Whiss’n Mondays to himself, and one or two of the Christmas Maragahmores.* He was also a great dancer, fond of the dhrop—and used to dress above his station: going about with a shop-cloth coat, cassimoor small-clothes, and a Caroline hat; so that you would little think he was a poor sarvint-man, laboring for his wages. One way or other, the money never sted long with him; but he had light spirits, depended entirely on his good hands, and cared very little about the world, provided he could take his own fling out of it.