The Little Weaver of Duleek Gate
A Storyby Samuel Lover
You see, there was a waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in Duleek here, hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous man he was, by all accounts. He had a wife, and av coorse they had childhre, and small blame to them, and plenty of them, so that the poor little waiver was obleeged to work his fingers to the bone a’most to get them the bit and the sup; but he didn’t begridge that, for he was an industherous craythur, as I said before, and it was up airly and down late with him, and the loom never standin’ still. Well, it was one mornin’ that his wife called to him, and he sitting very busy throwin’ the shuttle; and says she, ‘Come here,’ says she, ‘jewel, and ate your brekquest, now that it’s ready.’ But he never minded her, but wint an workin’. So in a minit or two more, says she, callin’ out to him agin, ‘Arrah, lave off slavin’ yourself, my darlin’, and ate your bit o’ brekquest while it is hot.’
‘Lave me alone,’ says he, and he dhruv the shuttle fasther nor before.
Well, in a little time more, she goes over to him where he sot, and says she, coaxin’ him like, ‘Thady, dear,’ says she, ‘the stirabout will be stone cowld if you don’t give over that weary work and come and ate it at wanst.’
‘I’m busy with a patthern here that is brakin’ my heart,’ says the waiver; ‘and antil I complate it and masther it intirely I won’t quit.’
‘Oh, think o’ the iligant stirabout, that ’ill be spylte intirely.’
‘To the divil with the stirabout,’ says he.
‘God forgive you,’ says she, ‘for cursin’ your good brekquest.’
‘Ay, and you too,’ says he.
‘Throth, you’re as cross as two sticks this blessed morning, Thady,’ says the poor wife; ‘and it’s a heavy handful I have of you when you are cruked in your temper; but stay there if you like, and let your stirabout grow cowld, and not a one o’ me ’ill ax you agin’; and with that off she wint, and the waiver, sure enough, was mighty crabbed, and the more the wife spoke to him the worse he got, which, you know, is only nath’ral. Well, he left the loom at last, and wint over to the stirabout, and what would you think but whin he looked at it, it was as black as a crow; for, you see, it was in the hoighth o’ summer, and the flies lit upon it to that degree that the stirabout was fairly covered with them.
‘Why, thin, bad luck to your impidence,’ says the waiver; ‘would no place sarve you but that? and is it spyling my brekquest yiz are, you dirty bastes?’ And with that, bein’ altogether cruked-tempered at the time, he lifted his hand, and he made one great slam at the dish o’ stirabout, and killed no less than three score and tin flies at the one blow. It was three score and tin exactly, for he counted the carcasses one by one, and laid them out on a clane plate, for to view them.
Well, he felt a powerful sperit risin’ in him, when he seen the slaughther he done, at one blow; and with that he got as consaited as the very dickens, and not a sthroke more work he’d do that day, but out he wint, and was fractious and impident to every one he met, and was squarin’ up into their faces and sayin’, ‘Look at that fist! that’s the fist that killed three score and tin at one blow—Whoo!’
With that all the neighbours thought he was crack’d, and faith, the poor wife herself thought the same when he kem home in the evenin’, afther spendin’ every rap he had in dhrink, and swaggerin’ about the place, and lookin’ at his hand every minit.
‘Indeed, an’ your hand is very dirty, sure enough, Thady jewel,’ says the poor wife; and thrue for her, for he rowled into a ditch comin’ home. ‘You had betther wash it, darlin’.’
‘How dar’ you say dirty to the greatest hand in Ireland?’ says he, going to bate her.
‘Well, it’s nat dirty,’ says she.
‘It is throwin’ away my time I have been all my life,’ says he; ‘livin’ with you at all, and stuck at a loom, nothin’ but a poor waiver, when it is Saint George or the Dhraggin I ought to be, which is two of the siven champions o’ Christendom.’
‘Well, suppose they christened him twice as much,’ says the wife; ‘sure, what’s that to uz?’
‘Don’t put in your prate,’ says he; ‘you ignorant sthrap,’ says he. ‘You’re vulgar, woman—you’re vulgar—mighty vulgar; but I’ll have nothin’ more to say to any dirty snakin’ thrade again—divil a more waivin’ I’ll do.’
‘Oh, Thady dear, and what’ll the children do then?’
‘Let them go play marvels,’ says he.
‘That would be but poor feedin’ for them, Thady.’
‘They shan’t want for feedin’,’ says he; ‘for it’s a rich man I’ll be soon, and a great man too.’
‘Usha, but I’m glad to hear it, darlin’,—though I dunna how it’s to be, but I think you had betther go to bed, Thady.’
‘Don’t talk to me of any bed but the bed o’ glory, woman,’ says he, lookin’ mortial grand.
‘Oh! God send we’ll all be in glory yet,’ says the wife, crassin’ herself; ‘but go to sleep, Thady, for this present.’
‘I’ll sleep with the brave yit,’ says he.
‘Indeed, an’ a brave sleep will do you a power o’ good, my darlin’,’ says she.
‘And it’s I that will be the knight!’ says he.
‘All night, if you plaze, Thady,’ says she.
‘None o’ your coaxin’,’ says he. ‘I’m detarmined on it, and I’ll set off immediantly, and be a knight arriant.’
‘A what?’ says she.
‘A knight arriant, woman.’
‘Lord, be good to me, what’s that?’ says she.
‘A knight arriant is a rale gintleman,’ says he; ‘going round the world for sport, with a swoord by his side, takin’ whatever he plazes for himself; and that’s a knight arriant,’ says he.
Well, sure enough he wint about among his neighbours the next day, and he got an owld kittle from one, and a saucepan from another; and he took them to the tailor, and he sewed him up a shuit o’ tin clothes like any knight arriant and he borrowed a pot lid, and that he was very partic’lar about, bekase it was his shield and he wint to a frind o’ his, a painther and glazier, and made him paint an his shield in big letthers—
‘I’M THE MAN OF ALL MIN,
THAT KILL’D THREE SCORE AND TIN
AT A BLOW.’
‘When the people sees that,’ says the waiver to himself, ‘the sorra one will dar’ for to come near me.’
And with that he towld the wife to scour out the small iron pot for him, ‘For,’ says he, ‘it will make an iligant helmet’; and when it was done, he put it an his head, and his wife said, ‘Oh, murther, Thady jewel, is it puttin’ a great heavy iron pot an your head you are, by way iv a hat?’
‘Sartinly,’ says he; ‘for a knight arriant should always have a woight an his brain.’
‘But, Thady dear,’ says the wife, ‘there’s a hole in it, and it can’t keep out the weather.’
‘It will be the cooler,’ says he, puttin’ it an him; ‘besides, if I don’t like it, it is aisy to stop it with a wisp o’ sthraw, or the like o’ that.’
‘The three legs of it looks mighty quare, stickin’ up,’ says she.
‘Every helmet has a spike stickin’ out o’ the top of it,’ says the waiver; ‘and if mine has three, it’s only the grandher it is.’
‘Well,’ says the wife, getting bitther at last, ‘all I can say is, it isn’t the first sheep’s head was dhress’d in it.’
‘Your sarvint, ma’am,’ says he; and off he set.
Well, he was in want of a horse, and so he wint to a field hard by, where the miller’s horse was grazin’, that used to carry the ground corn round the counthry.
‘This is the idintical horse for me,’ says the waiver; ‘he is used to carryin’ flour and male, and what am I but the flower o’ shovelry in a coat o’ mail; so that the horse won’t be put out iv his way in the laste.’
But as he was ridin’ him out o’ the field, who should see him but the miller.
‘Is it stalin’ my horse you are, honest man?’ says the miller.
‘No,’ says the waiver; ‘I’m only goin’ to axercise him,’ says he, ‘in the cool o’ the evenin’; it will be good for his health.’
‘Thank you kindly,’ says the miller; ‘but lave him where he is, and you’ll obleege me.’
‘I can’t afford it,’ says the waiver, runnin’ the horse at the ditch.
‘Bad luck to your impidence,’ says the miller; ‘you’ve as much tin about you as a thravellin’ tinker, but you’ve more brass. Come back here, you vagabone,’ says he.
But he was too late; away galloped the waiver, and took the road to Dublin, for he thought the best thing he could do was to go to the King o’ Dublin (for Dublin was a grate place thin, and had a king iv its own), and he thought, maybe, the King o’ Dublin would give him work. Well, he was four days goin’ to Dublin, for the baste was not the best and the roads worse, not all as one as now; but there was no turnpikes then, glory be to God! When he got to Dublin, he wint sthrait to the palace, and whin he got into the coortyard he let his horse go and graze about the place, for the grass was growin’ out betune the stones; everything was flourishin’ thin in Dublin, you see. Well, the king was lookin’ out of his dhrawin’-room windy, for divarshin, whin the waiver kem in; but the waiver pretended not to see him, and he wint over to a stone sate, undher the windy—for, you see, there was stone sates all round about the place for the accommodation o’ the people—for the king was a dacent, obleeging man; well, as I said, the waiver wint over and lay down an one o’ the sates, just undher the king’s windy, and purtended to go asleep; but he took care to turn out the front of his shield that had the letthers an it; well, my dear, with that, the king calls out to one of the lords of his coort that was standin’ behind him, howldin’ up the skirt of his coat, accordin’ to rayson, and says he: ‘Look here,’ says he, ‘what do you think of a vagabone like that comin’ undher my very nose to go sleep? It is thrue I’m a good king,’ says he, ‘and I ’commodate the people by havin’ sates for them to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and contimplation of seein’ me here, lookin’ out a’ my dhrawin’-room windy, for divarshin; but that is no rayson they are to make a hotel o’ the place, and come and sleep here. Who is it at all?’ says the king.
‘Not a one o’ me knows, plaze your majesty.’
‘I think he must be a furriner,’ says the king; ‘bekase his dhress is outlandish.’
‘And doesn’t know manners, more betoken,’ says the lord.
‘I’ll go down and circumspect him myself,’ says the king; ‘folly me,’ says he to the lord, wavin’ his hand at the same time in the most dignacious manner.
Down he wint accordingly, followed by the lord; and whin he wint over to where the waiver was lying, sure the first thing he seen was his shield with the big letthers an it, and with that, says he to the lord, ‘Bedad,’ says he, ‘this is the very man I want.’
‘For what, plaze your majesty?’ says the lord.
‘To kill that vagabone dragghin, to be sure,’ says the king.