The servants had good or hardy consciences, for they slept soundly; but the widow Kelly, in her little bed-room behind the shop, well knew the sound of that knocker, and, hurrying on her slippers and her gown, she got to the door, and asked who was there.
“Is that Sally, ma’am?” said Biddy, well knowing the widow’s voice.
“No, it’s not. What is it you’re wanting?”
“Is it Kate thin, ma’am?”
“No, it’s not Kate. Who are you, I say; and what d’you want?”
“I’m Biddy, plaze ma’am—from Lynch’s, and I’m wanting to spake to yerself, ma’am—about Miss Anty. She’s very bad intirely, ma’am.”
“What ails her;—and why d’you come here? Why don’t you go to Doctor Colligan, av’ she’s ill; and not come knocking here?”
“It ain’t bad that way, Miss Anty is, ma’am. Av’ you’d just be good enough to open the door, I’d tell you in no time.”
It would, I am sure, be doing injustice to Mrs Kelly to say that her curiosity was stronger than her charity; they both, however, no doubt had their effect, and the door was speedily opened.
“Oh, ma’am!” commenced Biddy, “sich terrible doings up at the house! Miss Anty’s almost kilt!”
“Come out of the cowld, girl, in to the kitchen fire,” said the widow, who didn’t like the February blast, to which Biddy, in her anxiety, had been quite indifferent; and the careful widow again bolted the door, and followed the woman into certainly the warmest place in Dunmore, for the turf fire in the inn kitchen was burning day and night. “And now, tell me what is it ails Miss Anty? She war well enough yesterday, I think, and I heard more of her then than I wished.”
Biddy now pulled her cloak from off her head, settled it over her shoulders, and prepared for telling a good substantial story.
“Oh, Misthress Kelly, ma’am, there’s been disperate doings last night up at the house. We were all hearing, in the morn yesterday, as how Miss Anty and Mr Martin, God bless him!—were to make a match of it,—as why wouldn’t they, ma’am? for wouldn’t Mr Martin make her a tidy, dacent, good husband?”
“Well, well, Biddy—don’t mind Mr Martin; he’ll be betther without a wife for one while, and he needn’t be quarrelling for one when he wants her. What ails Miss Anty?”
“Shure I’m telling you, ma’am; howsomever, whether its thrue or no about Mr Martin, we were all hearing it yestherday; and the masther, he war afther hearing it too, for he come into his dinner as black as tunder; and Terry says he dhrunk the whole of a bottle of wine, and then he called for the sperrits, and swilled away at them till he was nigh dhrunk. Well, wid that, ma’am, he sent for Miss Anty, and the moment she comes in, he locks to the door, and pulls her to the sofa, and swears outright that he’ll murdher her av’ she don’t swear, by the blessed Mary and the cross, that she’ll niver dhrame of marrying no one.”