“Sit down, gintlemen,” said Ned; “sit down, Father Ned, you and Father Pether—we’ll have another tumbler; and, as it’s my turn to tell a story, I’ll give yez something, amuse yez,—the best I can, and, you all know, who can do more?”
“Very right, Ned; but let us see”—replied father Ned, putting his head out of the door to ascertain what the night did; “come, pether, it’s good to be on the safe side of any house in such a storm; we must only content ourselves until it gets fair. Now, Ned, go on with your story, and let it be as pleasant as possible.”
“Never fear, your Reverence,” replied Ned—“here goes—and healths a-piece to begin with.”
THE THREE TASKS.
“Every person in the parish knows the purty knoll that rises above the Routing Burn, some few miles from the renowned town of Knockimdowny, which, as all the world must allow, wants only houses and inhabitants to be as big a place as the great town of Dublin itself. At the foot of this little hill, just under the shelter of a dacent pebble of a rock, something above the bulk of half a dozen churches, one would be apt to see—if they knew how to look sharp, otherwise they mightn’t be able to make it out from the gray rock above it, except by the smoke that ris from the chimbley—Nancy Magennis’s little cabin, snug and cosey with its corrag* or ould man of branches, standing on the windy side of the door, to keep away the blast. Upon my word, it was a dacent little residence in its own way, and so was Nancy herself, for that matther; for, though a poor widdy, she was very punctwell in paying for Jack’s schooling, as I often heard ould Terry M’Phaudeen say, who told me the story. Jack, indeed, grew up a fine slip; and for hurling, foot-ball playing, and lepping, hadn’t his likes in the five quarters of the parish. It’s he that knew how to handle a spade and a raping-hook, and what was betther nor all that, he was kind and tindher to his poor ould mother, and would let her want for nothing. Before he’d go to his day’s work in the morning, he’d be sure to bring home from the clear-spring well that ran out of the other side of the rock, a pitcher of water to serve her for the day; nor would he forget to bring in a good creel of turf from the snug little peat-sack that stood thatched with rushes before the door, and leave it in the corner, beside the fire; so that she had nothing to do but put over her hand, without rising off of her sate, and put down a sod when she wanted it.
The _Corrag_ is a roll of branches tied together when green and used for the purposes mentioned the story. It is six feet high, and much thicker than a sack, and is changed to either side of the door according to the direction from which the wind blows.
“Nancy, on her part, kept Jack very clane and comfortable; his linen, though coorse, was always a good color, his working clothes tidily mended at all times; and when he’d have occasion to put on his good coat to work in for the first time, Nancy would sew on the fore-part of each sleeve a stout patch of ould cloth, to keep them from being worn by the spade; so that when she’d rip these off them every Saturday night, they would look as new and fresh as if he hadn’t been working in them at all, at all.