Imágenes de páginas

wishing to throw loock in his way; for he had often heard of men being made up entirely by the fairies, till there was no end to their wealth. "Jack," says the black man, " you had better be sed by us for this bout—upon the honour of a gintleman we wish you well; howsoever, if you don't choose to take the ball at the right hop, another may, and you're welcome to toil all your life, and die a beggar after." "Upon my reputation what he says is true, Jack," says the dog, in his turn, " the lucky minnit of your life is come; let it pass without doing what them that wishes your mother's son well desire you, and you'll die in a ditch." "And what am I to do," says Jack, " that's to make me so rich all of a sudden?" "Why, only to sit down and takea game of cards with myself," says black-brow, "that's all, and I'm sure it's not much." "And what is it to be for?'' Jack inquires, "for I have no money—tarenation to the rap itself's in my company." "Well, you have yourself," says the dog, putting up his fore claw along his nose, and winking at Jack, "you have yourself, man—don't be faint-hearted,—he'll bet the contents of this bag;" and with that the ould thief gave it another great big shake, to make the ginneys jingle again—" It's ten thousand ginneys in hard gould; if he wins, you're to sarve him for a year and a day; and if he loses, you're to have the bag." "And the money that's in it;" says Jack, wishing, you see, to make a sure bargain, any how. "Ev'ry penny," answered the ould chap, " if you win it; and there's fifty to one in your favour."

By this time the dog had got into a great fit of laughing at Jack's sharpness about the money. "The money that's in it, Jack," says he, and he took the pipe out of his mouth, and laughed till he brought on a hard fit of coughing; "O, by this and by that," says he, " but that bates Bannagher! and you're to get it ev'ry penny, you thief of the world, if you win it;" but for all that, he seemed to be laughing at something that Jack wasn't up to.

At any rate, surely, they palavered Jack betune them, until he sot down and consinted. "Well," says he scratching his head, " why, worse nor lose I can't, so here goes for one trial at the shiners, any how!" "Now," says the obscure jintleman, just whin the first card was in his hand, ready to be laid down, " you're to sarve me for a year and a day, if I win; and if I lose, you shall have all the money in the bag." "Exactly," says Jack, and just as he said the word, he saw the dog putting the pipe into his pocket and turning his head away for fraid Jack would see him breaking his sides laughing. At last, when he got his face sobered, he looks at Jack, and says, "Surely Jack, if you win, you must get all the money in the bag; and upon my reputation you may build castles in the air with it, you'll be so rich."

This pluck'd up Jack's courage a little, and to work they went; but how could it end otherwise, than Jack to lose betune two such knowing schemers as they soon turned out to be? For what do you think, but as Jack was beginning the game, the dog tips him a wink, laying his fore claw along his nose, as before, as much as to say, "watch me, and you'll win,"—turning round, at the same time, and showing Jack a nate little looking-glass, that was set in his oxther, in which Jack saw, dark as it was, the spots of all the other fellow's cards, as he thought, so that he was cock sure of bating him. But they were a pair of downright knaves, any how; for Jack, by playing to the cards he saw in the looking-glass, instead of to them the other held in his hand, lost the game and the money. In short, he saw that he was blarnied and cheated by them both ; and when the game was up he plainly tould them as much.

"What, you scoundrel!" says the black fellow, starting up and catching him by the collar, "dare you go for to impache my honour ?:, "Leather him if he says a word," says the dog, running over on his hind legs, and laying his shut paw upon Jack's nose, "say another word, you rascal," says he, " and I '11 down you;" with this the ould fellow gives him another shake. "I don't blame you so much," says Jack to him, " it was the looking-glass that desaved me." "What looking-glass, you knave?" says dark face, giving him a fresh haul. "Why, the one I saw under the dog's oxther," replied Jack. "Under my oxther! you swindling rascal," replies the dog, giving him a pull by the other side of the collar; "did ever any honest pair of jintlemen hear the like?—but he only wants to break through the agreement; so let us turn him at once into an ass, and then he'll brake no more bargains, nor strive to take in honest men and win their money." So saying, the dark fellow drew his hands over Jack's jaws, an' in a twinklin' there was a pair of ass's ears growing up out of his ears. When Jack found this, he knew that he wasn't in good hands; so he thought it best to get himself as well out of the scrape as possible.

"Jintlemen beaisy," says he, "and let us understand one another: I'm very willing to sarve you for a year and a day, but I've one requist to ax, and it's this; I've a helpless ould mother at home, and if I go with you now she'll break her heart with grief first, and starve afterwards. Now, if your honour will give me a year to work hard, and lay in provision to support her while I 'in away, I '11 sarve you with all the veins of my heart—for a bargain's a bargain." With this the dog gave his companion a pluck by the skirt, and, after some chat together, that Jack didn't hear, they came back and said that they would comply with his wishes that far; "so, on to-morrow twelve-month. Jack," says the dark fellow, "the dog here will come to your mother's, and, if you follow him, he'll bring you safe to my castle." "Very well, your honour," says Jack; "but as dogs resemble one another so much, how will I know him wen he comes?"

"Why," answers the other, "he'll have a green ribbon about his neck, and a pair of Wellington boots on his hind legs." "That's enough, sir," says Jack, "I can't mistake him in that dress, so I'll be ready.''

During that year Jack wrought night and day, that he might be able to lave as much provision with his poor mother as would support her in his absence; and when the morning came that he was to bid her farewell, he went down on his two knees and got her blessing. He then left her with tears in his eyes, and promised to come back the very minnit his time would be up. "Mother," says he, "be kind to your little family here, and feed them well, as they're all you'll have to keep you company till you see me agin."

His mother then stuffed his pockets with bread, till they stuck out behind him, and gave him a crooked sixpence for luck; after which, he got his staff, and was just ready to tramp, when, sure enough, he spies his ould friend the dog, with the green ribbon about his neck, and the Wellington boots upon his hind legs. He didn't go in, but waited on the outside till Jack came out. They then set off, but no one knows how far they travelled, till they reached the dark jintleman's castle, who appeared very glad to see Jack, and gave him a hearty welcome.

The next day, in consequence of his long journey, he was ax'd to do nothing ; but in the coorse of the evening, the dark chap brought him into a long, frightful room, where there were three hundred and sixty-five hooks sticking out of the wall, and on every hook but one, a man's head. When Jack saw this agreeable sight, his dinner began to quake within him; but he felt himself still worse, when his master pointed to the empty hook, saying, "Now, Jack, your business to-morrow is to clane out a stable that wasn't claned for the last seven years, and if you don't have it finished before dusk—do you see that hook?" "Ye—yes;" replied Jack, hardly able to epake. "Well, if you don't have it finished before dusk, your head will be hanging on that hook as soon as the sun sets." "Very well, your honour," replied Jack; scarcely knowing what he said, or he wouldn't have said "very well" to such a bloody-minded intention, any how—" Very well," says he, " I'll do my best, and all the world knows the best can do no more."

Whilst this discourse was passing betune them, Jack happened to look to the upper end of the room, and there he saw one of the beautifullest faces that ever was seen on a woman, looking at him through a little pannel that was in the wall. She had a white snowy forehead—such eyes, and cheeks, and teeth, that there's no coming up to them; and the clusters of dark hair that hung about her beautiful temples—by the laws, I'm afeard of falling in love with her myself, so I'll say no more about her, only that she would charm the heart of a miser. At any rate, in spite of all the ould follow could say—heads, and hooks, and all, Jack couldn't help throwing an eye, now an then, to the pannel; and to tell the truth, if he had been born to riches and honour, it would be hard to fellow him for a good face and a good figure. "Now, Jack," says his master, "go, and get your supper, and I hope you'll be able to perform your task—if not, off goes your head." "Very well, your honour," says Jack; again scratching it in the hoith of perplexity, "I must only do what I can."

The next morning Jack was up with the sun, if not before him, and hard at his task; but before breakfast time he lost all heart, and little wonder he should, poor fellow, bekase for every one shovelfull that he'd throw out, there would come three more in: so that instead of making his task less, according as he got on, it became greater. He was now in the greatest dilemmy, and didn't know how to manage, so he was driven at last to such an amplush, that he had no other shift for employment, only to sing Paddeen O'Rafferly, out of meer vexation, and dance the hornpipe trebling step to it, cracking his fingers, half mad, through the stable. Just in the middle of his tantrum, who comes to the door to call him to his breakfast, but the beautiful crathur he saw the evening before, peeping at him through the pannel. At this minnit, Jack had so hated himself by the dancing, that his handsome face was in a fine glow, entirely.

"I think," said she, to Jack, with one of her own sweet smiles, "that this is an odd way of performing your task." "Och, thin, 'tis you that may say that," replies Jack; "but it's myself that's willing to have my head hung up any day, just for one sight of you, you darling." "Where did you come from ?" asked the lady, with another smile that bate the first all to nothing. "Where did I come from, is it?" answered Jack; "why, death alive! did you never hear of ould Ireland, my jewel?—hem—I mane, plase your ledyship's honour." "No," she answered; "where is that country?" "Och, by the honour of an Irishman," says Jack, "that takes the shine !—not heard of green Erin—the Imerald Isle —the Jim of the ocean, where all the men are brave and honourable, and all the women—hem—I mane the ladies—chaste and beautiful?" "No," said she; "not a word: but if I stay longer I - may get you to blame—come in to your breakfast, and I'm sorry to find that you have done so little to your task. Your master's a man t i ml always acts up to what he threatens; and, if you have not this stable cleared out before dusk, your head will be taken off your shoulders this night." "Why, then," says Jack, "my beautiful darl— plase your honour's ladyship—if he hangs it up, will you do me the favour, a-cuMa mac!tree, to turn my head toardst that same pannel where I saw a sartin fair face that I won't mintion; and if you do, may I never—" "What means cushia machree?" inquired the lady, as she turned away. "It manes that you're the pulse of my heart, avourneen, plase your ladyship's reverence,'5 says Jack. "Well," says the lovely crathur, "any time you can speak to me in future, I would rather you would omit terms of honour, and just call me after the manner of your own country; instead, for instance, of calling me your ladyship, I would be better pleased if you call me cushla—something—" "Cushla machree mavounteen— the pulse of my heart—my darling," said Jack, constherin it (the thief) for her, for fraid she wouldn't know it well enough. "Yes," she replied, "cushla machree; well, as I can pronounce it, acushla ma chree, will you come into your breakfast ?" said the darling, giving Jack a smile, that would be enough, any day, to do up the heart of an Irishman. Jack, accordingly, went after her, thinking of nothing except herself; but on going in he could see no sign of her, so he sat down to his breakfast, though a single ounce the poor fellow couldn't ate, at that bout, for thinking of her.

Well, he went agin to his work, and thought he'd have better luck; but it was still the ould game—three shovelfulls would come in for every one he'd throw out; and now he began in earnest, to feel something about his heart that he didn't like, bekase he couldn't, for the life of him, help thinking of the three hundred and sixty-four heads and the empty hook. At last he gave up the work entirely, and took it into his head to make himself scarce from about the ould fellow's castle altogether ; and, without more to do, he sets off, never saying as much as " good bye" to his master: but he hadn't got as far as the lower end of the yard, when his ould friend, the dog, steps out of a kennel, and meets him full butt in the teeth. "So Jack," says he, "you're going to give us leg bail, I see; but walk back with yourself, you spalpeen, this minit, and join yoor work, or if you don't," says he, " it'ill be worse for your health. I'm not so much your enemy now as I was, bekase you have a friend in coort that you know nothing about; so just do whatever you're bid, and keep never minding."

Jack went back with a heavy heart, as you may be sure, knowing that, whenever the black cur began to blarney him, there was no good to come in his way. He, accordingly, went into the stable, but

« AnteriorContinuar »