« PreviousContinue »
to go on shore? You see, your honor, it's all true as I said: and the first lieutenant has misbehaved, and not me. I hope you will allow me to goon shore, captain, God bless you! and make some allowance for my parental feelings towards the arthers of my existence." "Have you any fault to find with Mr. O'Brien?" said the captain to the first lieutenant, as he came aft. 'No more than 1 have with midshipmen in general; but I believe it is not the custom for officers to ask leave to go on shore before the sails are furled and yards squared" "Very true," replied the captain: "therefore, Mr. O'Brien, you must wait until the watch is called, and then if you ask the first lieutenant, I have no doubt but you will have leave granted to you to go and see your friends." '' Thank'e kindly, sir," replied 1; and I hoped that the yards and sails would be finished offas soon as possible, for my heart was in my mouth, and 1 felt that if I had been kept much longer, it would have flown on shore before me.
'I thought myself very clever in this business, but I never was a greater foci in my life: for there was no such hurry to have gone on shore, and the first lieutenant never fortrave me for appealing to the captain—but of that by-and-bye, and all in good time. At last I obtained a grumbling assent to my going on shore, and off I went like a sky rocket. Being in a desperate hurry, I hired a jaunting car to take me to my father's house. "Is it the O'Briens of Ballyhinch that you mean?" inquired the spalpeen who drove the horse. "Sure it is," replied I; "and how is he, and all the noble family of the O'Briens?" "All well enough, bating the boy Tim, who caught a hit of confusion in his head the other, night at the fair, and now lies in bed quite insinsible to mate or drink ; but the doctors give hopes of his recovery, as all the O'Briens are known to have such thick heads." "What do you mane by that, bad manners to you ?" said I; "but poor Tim—how did it happen—was there a fight 1" "Not much of a fight—only a hit of skrummage—three crowner's inquests, no more." "But you are not going the straight road you thief," said I, seeing that he had turned off to the left. "I've my reasons for that, your honor," replied he; "I always turn away from the Castle out of principle—I lost a friend there and it makes me melancholy." "How came that for to happen?" "All by accident, your honor; they hung my poor brother Patrick there, because he was a bad hand at arithmetic." "He should have gone to a better school then," said I. "I've an idea that it was a bad school that he was brought up in," replied he, with a sigh. "He was a cattle-dealer, your honor, and one day, somehow or another, he'd a cow too much—all for not knowing how to count, your honor—bad luck to his schoolmaster!" "All that may be very true," said I, and pace be to his soul; but I don't see why you are to drag me, that's in such a hurry, two miles out of my way out of principle." "Is your honor in a hurry to get home? Then I'll be thinking they'll not be in such a hurry to see you." "And who told you that my name was O'Brien you baste ?—and do you dare to say that my friends won't be glad to see me?" "Plase your honor, it's all an idea of mine—so say no more about it. Only this T know; Father M'Grath, who gives me absolution, tould me the other day that I ought to pay him, and not run in debt, and then run away like Teague O'Brien, who went to say without paying for his shirts, and his shoes and his stockings, nor any thing else, and who would live to be hanged as sure as St. Patrick swam over the Liffey with his head under his arm." "Bad luck to that Father M'Grath, cried I; "devil burn me but I'll be revenged upon him!"
'By that time we had arrived at the door of my father's house. I paid the reparee, and in I popped. There was my father and mother, and all my brothers and sister, (bating Tim who was in bed sure enough, and died the next day,) and that baste Father M'Grath to boot. When my mother saw me she ran to me and hugged me as she wept ou my neck, and then she wiped her eyes, and sat down again; but nobody else said " How d'ye do," or opened their mouths to me. I said to myself, " Sure there's some trifling mistake here, but I held my tongue. At last they all opened their mouths with a vengeance. My father commenced—" Arn't you ashamed on yourself, Teague O'Brien 1"—" Arn't you ashamed on yourself, Teague O' Brien 1" cried Father M'Grath.—" Arn't you ashamed on yourself, cried out all my brothers and sisters in full chorus, whilst my poor mother put her apron to her eyes and said nothing. "The devil a bit for myself, but very much ashamed for you all," replied I, " to treat me in this manner. What's the meaning of all this?" "Haven't they seized my two cows to pay for your toggery, you spalpeen ?" cried my father, "Haven't they taken the hay to pay for your shoes and stockings?" cried father M'Grath. "Haven't they taken the pig to pay for that ugly hat of yours?" cried my eldest sister. "And haven't ihey taken my hens to pay for that dirk of yours?" cried auother. "And all our best furniture to pay lor your while shirts and black cravats?" cried Murdock, my brother. "And haven't we been starved to death ever since?' cried they all. "Och hone!" said my mother, "The devil they have!" said I, when they'd all done. 'Sure I'm sorry enough, but it's no fault of mine. Father, didn't you send me to say?" "Yes, you rapparee; but didn't you promise—or didn't I promise for you, which is all one and the same thing—that you'd pay it all back with your prize-money—and where is it? answer that, Teague O'Brien." "Where is it, father? I'll tell you—it's where next Christmas is— coming, but not come yet." "Spake to him, Father M'Grath," said my father. "Is not that a lie of yours, Teague O'Brien, that you're after telling now ?" said Father M'Grath; "give me the money." "It's no lie, Father M'Grath; if it pleased you to die to-morrow, the devil of a shilling have I to jingle on your tombstone for good luck, bating those three or four, which you may divide between you," and I threw them on the floor.
'" Teague O'Brien," said Father M'Grath, "it's absolution that you'll be wanting to-morrow, after all your sins and enormities; and the devil a bit shall you have—take that now."
'" Father M'Grath," replied I, very angrily, " it's no absolution that I'll want from you any how—take that now."
'" Then you have had your share of heaven; for I'll keep you oat of it you wicked monster," said Father M'Grath—" take that now."
'" If it's no better than a midshipman's hirth," replied I, " I'd just as soon stay out; but I'll creep in in spite of you—take that now, Father M'Grath."
'" And who's to save your soul, and send you to heaven, if I don't,
you wicked wretch 1 but I'll see you d d first—so take that now,
'" Then I'll turn Protestant, and damn the Pope—take that now, Father M'Grath."
'At this last broadside of mine, my father and all my brothers and sisters raised a cry of horror, and my mother burst into tears. Father M'Grath seized hold of the pot of holy water, and dipping in the little whisk, began to sprinkle the room, saying a Latin prayer, while they all went on squalling at me. At last, my father seized the stool, which he had been seated upon, and threw it at my head. I dogged, and it knocked down Father M'Grath who had just walked behind me in full song. I knew that it was all over after that, so I sprung over his carcase and gained the door. "Good morning to ye all, and better manners to you next time we meet," cried I, and off I set as fast as I could for the ship.
'I was melancholy enough as I walked back, and thought of what had passed. "I need not have been in such a confounded hurry," said I to myself, " to ask leave, thereby affronting the first lieutenant:" and I was very sorry for what I had said to the priest, for my conscience thumped me very hard at having even pretended that I'd turn Protostant, which I never intended to do, nor ever will, but live and die a good Catholic as all my posterity have done before me, and as I trust all my ancestors will for generations to come. Well, I arrived on board, and the first lieutenant was very savage. I hoped he would get over it, but he never did; and he continued to treat me so ill, that I determined to quit the ship, which I did as soon as we arrived in Cawsand Bay The captain allowed me to go, for I told him the whole truth of the matter, and he saw that it was true; so he recommended me to the captain of a jackass frigate, who was in want of midshipmen."
'What do yon mean by a jackass frigate?' inquired I.
'I mean one of your twenty-eight gun ships, so called because there is as much difference between them and a real frigate, like the one we are sailing in, as there is between a donkey and a race-horse. Well the ship was no sooner brought down to the dock-yard to have her ballast taken in, than our captain came down to her—a little, thin, spare man, but a man of weight nevertheless, for he brought a great pair of scales with him, and weighed every thing that was put on board. I forget his real name, but the sailors christened him Captain Avoirdupois. He had a large book, and in it he inserted the weight of the ballast, and of the shot, water, provisions, coals, standing and running rigging, cables, and every thing else. Then he weighed all the men, and all the midshipmen, and all the midshipmen's chests, and all the officers with everything belonging to them; lastly, he weighed himself, which did not add much to the sum total. I don't exactly know what this- was for; but he was always talking about centres of gravity, displacement of fluid, and Lord knows what. I believe it was to find out the longitude, somehow or other, but I didn't remain long enough in her to know the end of it; for one day I brought on board a pair of new boots, which I forgot to report, that they might be put into the scales which swung on the gangway; and whether the captain thought that they would sink his ship, or why, I cannot tell, but he ordered me to quit her immediately—so there I was adrift again. I packed up my traps and went on shore, putting on my new boots out of spite, and trod into all the mud and mire I could meet, and walked up and down from Plymouth to Dock until I was tired, as a punishment to them, until I wore the scoundrels out in a fortnight.
'One day I was in the dock-yard, looking at a two-decker in the basin, just brought forward for service, and I inquired who was to be the captain. They told me that his name was O'Connor. Then he's a countryman of mine, thought I, and I'll try my luck. So I called at Goud's Hotel, where he was lodging, and requested to speak with him. I was admitted, and I told him with .my best bow that I had come as a volunteer for his ship, and that my name was O'Brien. As it happened, he had some vacancies, and liking my brogue, he asked me in what ships I had served. I told him, and also my reason for quitting my last—which was because I was turned out of it. 1 explained the story of the boots, and he made inquiries, and found that it was all true; and then he gave me a vacancy as master's mate. We were ordered to South America; and the trade winds took us there in a jiffey. I liked my captain and officers very much; and \vhat was better, we took some good prizes. But somehow or other I never had the luck to remain long in one ship, and that by no fault of mine; at least, not in this instance. All went on as smooth as possible, until one day the captain took us on shore to a ball, at one of the peaceable districts. We had a very merry night of it; but as luck would have it, I had the morning watch to keep, and see the decks cleaned, and as I never neglected my duty, T set off about three o'clock in the morning, just at break of day, to go on board of the ship.:. I was walking along the sands, thinkingofthe pretty girl that I'd been dancing with, and had got about half way to the ship, when three rapparees of Spanish soldiers came from behind a rock and attacked me with their swords and bayonets. I had only my dirk, but I was not to be run through for nothing, so I fought them as long as I could. I finished one fellow, but at last they finished me; for a bayonet pressed through my body, and I forgot all about it. Well, it appears—for I can only say so to the best of my knowledge and belief—that after they had killed me, they stripped me naked and buried me in the sand, carrying away with them the body of their comrade. So there I was—dead and buried.'
'But, O'Brien,' said I.
'Whist—hold your tongue—you've not heard the end of it. Well, 1 had been buried about an hour—but not very deep it appears, for they were in too great a hurry—when a fisherman and his daughter came along the beach, on their way to the boat; and the daughter, God bless her, did me the favor to tread upon my nose. It was clear that she had never trod upon an Irishman's nose before, for it surprised her, and she looked down to see what was there, and not seeing any tiling, she tried it again with her foot, and then she scraped off the sand, and discovered my pretty face. I was quite warm, and still breathing, for the sand had stopped the blood, and prevented my bleeding to death. The fisherman pulled me out, and took me on his back to the house where the captain and officers were still dancing. When he brought me in, there was a great cry from the ladies, not because I was murdered, for they are used to it in those countries, but because I was naked, which they considered a much more serious affair. I was put to bed, and a boat despatched on board for our doctor; and in a few hours I was able to speak, and tell them how it happened. But I was too ill to move when the ship sailed, which she was obliged to do in a day or two afterwards, so the captain made out my discharge, and left me there. The family were French, and I remained with them for six months before I could obtain a passage home, during which I learnt their language, and a very fair allowance of Spanish to boot. When I arrived in England, I found that the prizes had been sold, and that the money was ready for distribution. I produced my certificate, and received c£107 for my share. So it's come at last, thought I.
'I never had such a handful of money in my life; but I hope I shall again, very soon. I spread it out on the table as soon as I got home and looked at it, and then I said to myself, now, Teague O'Brien, will you keep this money to yourself, or send it home? Then I thought of father M'Grath and the stool that was thrown at my head, and I was very near sweeping it all back into my pocket. But then I thought of my mother, and of the cows, and the pig, and the furniture, all gone: and of my brothers and sisters wanting praties, and I made a vow that I'd send every farthing of it to them, after which father M'Grath would no longer think of not giving me absolution. Sol sent them every doit, only reserving for myself the pay which I had received, amounting to about ,£30; and I never felt more happy in my life than when it was safe in the post-office, and fairly out of my hands. I wrote a tut of a letter to my father at the time, which was to this purpose—
'Honored Father; 'Since our last pleasant meeting, at which you threw the stool at my head, missing the pigeon and hitting the crow, I have been dead