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round it, an' a parcel of shmall brown shtones all round her entirely ; but what she was doin' at all wid the shtones! But whin she seen Mick's father, she fell to, an' picked up every one of the shmall shtones, an' away wid her for the bare life down the borheen. Aff wid Mick's father afther her in no time, an follied her hot an' hard, but couldn't overtake her till he kem to her house, an' the dure shut, an' he ropp'd hard, but the dickens a wan o' 'em would let an the' wor up, so Mick round wid himself to a little windy he knewn av, an' peeped in,-an,' "O yarra wisha!" siz he. "The hoky save us! what's this I see?"-An' Mick's father towlt me he seen as sure as he stud there he seen all the sivin hags, an' they mighty busy an the flure, an' a hape of tubs in the kitchen, an' the most surprising to him was, to see siven "sugans" of long hay-ropes hangin' down from the collar-bame of the house, an' the sivin hags having each a howlt iv the ends uv the sivin sugans that had raal tates to them, an' they milking away like mad into the tubs! An' whin he seen that, he wint up to where he first seen the ould witch, where the great big brown shtone was, an' there was his own illigant cow lyin' ashleep, an' signs, an' he tuk her to the fair the same day airly, and showlt her at wanst, like a sensible man, an' thin wint an' towlt the priesht, reported an' inform'd ag'in the witches, an' signs an'! the priesht ped 'em well, an' soon they all died; but no doubt they're witches in some counthry or another, unless the devil tuk a fancy to any o' them, the Lord help us. Amen!'
Next in order to these vile ould hags o' witches,' those airy myriads which form the tribe of ignes fatui, may be deemed, perhaps, most hostile to our poor Paddies, leading them such mischievous dances over bogs and ditches, or through thorns or briars, and always leaving them in some horrid scrape, soused over head in a cold-bath, or up to their chins in mire, roaring out murder. But are the Irish the only people plagued by these provoking fairies! By no means. For instance, sailors of almost all countries, being extremely super. stitious, believe that these sprites can counterfeit even the moon and stars, perch on the summit of a ship's mast, and laugh at the amazement of the crew; or, if in a malicious humour, will even run down and set fire to the powder magazine. These might have been the Fire devils' so generally worshipped in remote times, and may yet be, for aught I know, unless Mr. Morier's race of 'Cara Beys' have all been blown up.
There are other aërial spirits which ride upon whirlwinds, and which probably first suggested the invention of locomotive engines on railroads; their steeds, which must indeed be spirited, carry them as quick as lightning. They are as mischievous as their neighbours, taking stones with them to pelt such unlucky witches as may attempt to follow them on broomsticks; and though these stones should be twenty years falling to the earth, they are, as everybody knows, often picked up quite hot! Their other vagaries consist in tearing such oak trees to pieces as ought to have been cut down for shipbuilding before they went to decay; and if they hear of a bad parson, who prefers money to prayers, they are sure to kick up a row, and knock down his steeple. They have also a few better qualities, as it is believed they shower down frogs upon France, and I only wish they would rain potatoes' on Ireland during the scarce season, which is just three months in every year, God help us!
No doubt it was these spirits which caused such a bewilderment in
the air over Vienna previous to the approach of the Turks, who don't travel so far now-a-days, having acquired more domestic habits; also, over Rome, as Machiavel has been at the trouble of relating, and over Jerusalem, according to Josephus. Some of them were so vain that they took pleasure in having sacrifices made to them; but their pride was not so great as to prevent them from trading in winds, and, for a 'consideration,' they would even sell them to mariners, warranted to blow fair for them as per agreement.' Hence, of course, the term 'trade-winds.' Who bought the original tradewinds does not seem to be recorded, but he must have been a deep fellow, as the bargain holds good to the present day. They would even sell themselves, it being well known at that time of day that Trismegistus's father had one bound to him for twenty-eight years! Nor should we omit to describe the subterranean devils who are the chief directors of earthquakes, and very jealous of our poor miners, often whipping off a bunch of ore when just within reach. They are particularly numerous in Tipperary; and by their mischievous pranks have caused great losses to adventurers, who might perhaps have made large fortunes but for their jealousy and interference.
Water nymphs and naïades are sometimes mischievous in Ireland -as, for instance, they were last year so restless, splashing the water about, that they hardly gave us one dry day; and a boatman on Inchiquin lake gravely assured me they made such noises at night that he never could row about till after sunrise.
The rivers of Germany are full of them, particularly the Danube. When in Germany some years ago I had myself the honour of seeing a fine specimen, a maid from the bottom of the Danube, called 'Das Donau Weibchen ;' and shall never forget her lovely form, or the soft strains of delicious music which accompanied her movements.
As for mermaids, the rocks and waves of the ocean claim them; but strange to say, they seldom visit the shores of Ireland. Thousands must have seen them, or how could they have been so accurately described, with their looking-glasses in one hand, and small. tooth combs in the other? They give a decided preference to Scotland; and if our gallant neighbours will coax them their way, we cannot help it, happy and proud enough with our own sweet girlsindeed, we would not give one of our warm-hearted, rosy-cheeked milkmaids for a hundred mermaids.
What particular kind of devils, witches, sprites, or fairies, were concerned in the tricks and outrages which I am about now to relate I never could find out; but assuredly the following occurrences caused not only great alarm in my neighbourhood, but actually, as was said, baffled for a time the power of the priest, were the cause of a numerous family being obliged to quit a snug farm, and have never yet been openly accounted for on any other principle but that of being a deserved punishment for irreverence towards the 'good people,' or fairies. Puck must have had instructions to punish this family severely, because every member of it felt its vengeance. The narrative is quite current in this part of Clare, and the account as familiar to numbers as the other stories.
I have heard different versions of this tale, but prefer the relation of it as given by my neighbour, Ned Hurly, (a shrewd fellow, by the by,) and shall endeavour to keep to his own words as near as I can.
O! then, them Clunes was the unlucky people! an' so well as the' might a' done! but I'll tell yer honor all about it as near as I have it meself.
Well, yer honor, you see the Clunes lived in a shnug lump of a farm-house an the Scariff road. The' wor a purty large family o' them, and rinted twelve acres of right good land: but, somehow or another, the' wor not a well ordhered family, by rason of neglecting mass, an' dhrinking whiskey. Paddy Clune himsilf might be at or over fifty at this time, and his wife nigh hand it. They had four boys and two girls at home wid 'em, 'most of all ages betune ten and twenty-four, an' not wan of 'em could read, or write, or say cate chism, (them was dark times, yer honor, an' swearing and dhrinking times, but it won't be so, plase God!) So what could the craturs do, but be gagging, and humbugging, and desaving, an' dhrinkin', an' fightin', an' tellin' lies among the neighbours; an' what was worst of all, 'ud be intherfaring wid the "good people," an' crassin' an' making game uv 'em, an' long enough the' put up wid the thratement; but if the' did, the pay-day kem at last!
'It was just at the edge of the last hard winter we had in these parts, an' they wor all sittin' wan evening round the hearth, an' over the fire there was a great pot of p'tshaties nigh hand upon the bile, an', bein' hungry enough, the tongues uv 'em wor moving about inside ther jaws, an' acrass ther mouths. All at wans't aff went a big crack.
"What's that at all?" said ould Paddy. "Mick, did you hear it?" siz he.
"I did," siz Mick. "May be it's the good people," siz he, (jeering, you persave.)
Well, there was a grate big hape o' turf stacked up in wan corner
of the kitchen, an' in wan minute more there was another crack, that med the ould woman jump up clane aff uv her stool.
"Tunder an' turf! what soort a' thricks are ye at now, boys?" siz she,
"None in life, mother," siz Jemmy. "It must be the cat afther a mouse in the turf, or, may be, it's a rot she's got," siz Jemmy.
"I wish it was that ould hag that turn'd the milk an' me this mornin'," siz Biddy, "or the wan that sharmed the butther yesterday!" an' another bang wint aff as loud as a blunderbush!
"Get up, Jemmy, an' look inside the turf," siz the ould man. "What's it at all now?" siz he.
O father!" siz Jemmy, "there's a great big pair of eyes looking at me full in the face out uv the turf, an' hapes o' things moving about up an' down! O pull me away out o' this! I can't stir a fut, or them eyes 'll break my collar-bone!" siz he.
The words wor hardly out of Jemmy's mouth whin a tundering big clod of dirt kem down the shimminy, an' sich a cryin' an' bawlin' as the ould woman an' her daughters sot up! an' thin the turf began swellin' up like a wave av the say, an sint Jemmy down on the flat uv his back, an' a hard sod flew out and fetch'd Mick a rattlin' blow on his head!
'Jemmy sprung up an his feet, and Mick fell to cursin' an' swearin'; an' "Be this an' be that," siz he, scratchin' his poll," Musha be the grey goat-an' that's a hairy oath, (the devil from me!) but I'll kill some o' ye if ye don't stop," siz he. An' hardly wor the words out iv
his ugly mouth but up comes a shower av turf sods out av the corner, rattlin' and dhrivin' about ther heds, an' sorra wan uv 'em at all but didn't get a couple of turrible pelts at fursht go aff! The ould man had the wig hot aff his head, an' his wife was tumbled an her hands an' knees, an' thin rowl'd over an' over, dhrivin' the air wid her heels, an' all uv 'em tearin', an' swearin', an' bawlin' a thousand murdhers; and the harder they swore (the Lord save us!) the thicker the turfsods wor flying, great vollys an' showers entirely, till the' wor nighhand smuddered undher the turf, an' not wan sod left in the corner, nor a livin' sowl to be seen but thimselves. So whin the turf was all out o' the corner, there was a little pace, to be sure, an' the' help'd pull one another aff av the flure an' hills o' turf, an' Mick, an' Jem, an' Biddy swearing worse than ever, an' callin' out, "Bad luck to ye, whoever ye are, an' whatever ye are!" (think of them words, yer honor!) "and to the divil we'll pitch ye!" and so the' went an; an' if the' did that minnet the big pot of lumpers began to bile over, an' up comes one clane out av the pot, an' hot Jemmy plump an the nose! an' thin another riz b'iling hot, an' gov Jemmy a turr'ble pelt an the face, an' another nigh tuk the very ear clean aff Biddy's head. "O be the powers!" siz Mick, "we'll be ruined," siz he.-"O wisha -wisha!" siz Biddy, "what'll I do? I believe the ear o' me is gone!" siz she.
An' with that up comes the whole contints av the b'iling pot of p'tshaties, like a shower of balls out av a big cannon, an' knocked the ould couple down again, an' all the shildher. big an' little, sprawlin' an' skraming, an' yellin' an' kickin,' an the flure! But the ould wo man was the first up an her legs, an' bruised enough she was, an' scalded; but at anyhow if she was, she made a shift to rache the dure, but sorra wan bit 'ud it open for the hills o' turf that was druv up before it; but the windy was purty handy, by rason ther' was no frame or glass to it; an' so she shqueedg'd hersilf through, an' hilp'd the youngest of the shilder afther her, an' thin the ould man sheram. bled away wid himsilf, an' so did Biddy, an' Mick, an' Jemmy, an' all uv 'em, wint aff to Tim Hourigan's, an' the neighbours wor all kind enough to thim, but turr'bly frightened, an' Tommy Whelun, the schoolmasther, wint aff to tell Father Doyley-who is a right good man,-an' Charles Sullivan, the smith, wint wid him, an' both agreed on the road how it was, an' wondher'd the "good people" had put up wid that same thratement so long; an' so did his rivirince say the same thing, an' that it could never be expected he should interfere for them that neglected to hear mass. But, however, nothin' more happen'd that night, an' they all had ther bellies full of p'tshaties, an' slept sound enough.
'Av coorse the' riz up at peep o' day, an' wint aff all together to ther own house, an' found the dure quite asy to open, an'-your honor may believe it or not, but what I tell you is the thruth as I had it -they found as clane an' tidy a kitchen as was ever seen! There was all the turf stacked nate an' reg'lar in the corner, an' a fine clear fire burnin', but the pot the p'tshaties was in, was taken aff the fire, an' not wan lumper left, but the shkins av all o' them laid mighty nately settled at the bottom of the pot!
'Well, yer honor, they thought the shtorm was all over thin, an' all 'ud be smooth an' aisy enough. But see how mishtaken the' wor. For that same night every thing was tasst an' thrown about jist ex
actly as before, only a great deal worse entirely, an' av coorse what could the' do (the blashfaymers) but move our O' THAT?'
Having thanked Ned Hurly for his story, I told him I felt curious to know what became of the Clunes?
'O! thin, yer honor, the' wint away aff to the West, bag an' baggage, where I'm affaird they're been badly enough off, but now they've been wid Father Matchew it's most likely they'll recover thimsilves.'
'But tell me,' I said, 'who is living in their farm now?' 'Faix! a very knowin' blade, yer honor, one Pat Foley.' 'And was he living near the Clunes at the time?'
'To be sure he was, sir, wid his father-in-law hard by, for he mar. ried a girl of the Dennys; but he had no place while them divilments was goin' an. So whin the Clunes left, he spoke to the agent, and ped the old man for his craps, an' got the lase med over to himsilf, an' wint into the house immadiately.'
'And was not afraid of the good people?'
'Not a bit av it, yer honor! an' why shud he be, an' he goin' so constant to mass, an' such fri'nds wid the priesht? Sure his rivirince settled the whole buisiness for him, wid holy wather an' other things meself doesn't know, in wan night!'
'I see it all now, I think, Ned.'
'Be all the crasses in a yard of CHECK, yer honor-an' so I thought you would!'
IT IS NOT ALWAYS MAY.
THE sun is bright, the air is clear,
The darting swallows soar and sing,
The blue-bird prophesying Spring.
So blue yon winding river flows,
It seems an outlet from the sky,
All things are new,-the buds, the leaves,
There are no birds in last year's nest.
The fulness of their first delight;
Maiden! that read'st this simple rhyme,
For, oh! it is not always May.
Enjoy the spring of love and youth;
To some good angel leave the rest;
H. W. LONGFELLOW.