A REMINISCENCE OF THE FLORIDA CAMPAIGN;
BONY M’SHANE’S RAISONS FOR GOING TO THE WARS. 
“‘How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable’ is a soldier’s life! Here have we been at Pilatka for three mortal months, without other objects whereon to turn our vengeful arms, than nauseous vermin:—feverish, swamp-struck and dyspeptic, and gashed with dishonorable wounds from infernal musquetoes, are we not curious but unpitied specimens of experimental phlebotomy?—not to mention that the total of our culinary comforts for to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, is rounded by a couple of mangy dogs, to be devoured without salt or pepper. Harkee, Captain Swelter,—sooner than protract this ‘living death,’ were it not better to send in our scalps to Micanopy and yield up our tender carcasses, at once, to the gallinippers?”
“Courage! thou bug-resisting, musquetoe-crushing son of Mars! Though simply lieutenant Boggs at present, a longer probation through these charming lagoons and swamps may entitle you virtually to rank as a field marsh-all. Poor Major Mortem, I fear, will be the first of us to strike his colors. The doctor reported unfavorably of him yesterday; But here comes McShane, his dry-nurse, who can give us the latest bulletin.”
“A droll fellow is McShane, I’m told. I hav’nt laughed for a month; shall I draw him out?”
“As you will.”
“Good mornin’ t’ ye both, gintlemin,” said the broad-voiced, broad-shouldered McShane, whose countenance, like that worn generally by “our army,” in Florida, looked care-worn and grave.
“How is Major Mortem this morning?”
“He’s very bad intirely, poor man, God help’m.”
“You look unwell yourself, McShane.”
“Thrue for ye, misther Boggs. The wet’s killin’ me here; an’ the divil a wink uv sleep I had for three nights hand runnin’, sittin’ up with the Major. May be, Captin, ye have a dhrap uv somethin’ about ye.”
“Help yourself, McShane; you’ll find some good brandy in that decanter.” 
“Troth it’s sthrong enough to split the leg uv a stool. I only wish the poor Major had some uv it in ’m.”
“Twould put the life in ’m; for he has’nt hait enough in his body to make the blisther rise.”
“Rise! why nothin’ can rise well that ever lies down here.”
“Thrue for ye, misther Boggs; me own sperrits is hard to rise these times; so, if you’ve no objections, I’ll take a little more uv the skute.”
“Captain, I fear the Major’s case is desperate, if, as McShane says, the blister does’nt rise.”
“There’s one way, gintlemin,” said McShane, wiping his mouth after the second potation, while a nascent twinkle of humor was perceptible in his eye:—‘There’s one way uv makin’ a blisther rise, but God pardin me! it’s no time to be jokin’ now, an the poor Major so near his last,” and the solemnity of his visage reestablished itself.
“Let’s hear it, McShane; let’s hear it. We know not how soon we may want blisters to rise on ourselves. Impart.”
“Why thin, ye see, there wus a man oncet in the ould counthry call Phalim O’Brallagan, and he was very sick, when the docthor left a blisther with Phalim’s wife to be put on his stummick to give him relief like. So the docthor called nixt mornin’ to see how the blisther acted, an’ sez he to Phalim’s wife, ‘hou’s yer husban’ this mornin’?”
“He’s very bad, docthor,” sez she.
“I hope the blisther riz well,” sez he.
“Troth it’s been risin’ off his stummick all night,” sez she.
“Rising off his stummick!” repated the docthor, starin’ like. “What d’ye mane, maam, be that?” sez he.
“Why plase yer honor, sir,” sez she, mighty innocent, “he tried to ate it raw, but could’t; indeed it turned him intirely, for he’s very wake and has no appetite for any thing sthrong, barrin’ it’s a dhrop uv whiskey an shugar; so I cut the blisther up into stripes an fried it with a little bit uv bacon an’ a couple uv eggs. to make it more palatabler like; an’, sure enough, he relished it mightily, but poor man! he’s been roomancin’ ivir since, an’, in troth, I’m afeered he’s a little out uv his head.”
“But, gintlemin, talkin’ makes me mighty dhry, some how, this mornin’.”
“Well, McShane, you may take another drink; but take care it doesn’t act like O’Brallagan’s ‘blisther’ and rise off your ‘stummick.’”
“Divil a hap’worth uv harm; it’ll do me but good. Sure no christian, except an alligator, or a wild bird uv the wildherness, could live here without it. Ould Walk-in-the-Wather-Mikky-Nopy himself carries a jug uv it with him, I’m tould. O, it’s a tarrible place, these swamps in Floriday; the bogs uv Leitrim is nothin’ compared.”
“You had much rather, doubtless, be back again in the bogs of Ireland.”
“Troth I would; or at St. Augustine itself. Pleasant an’ well I lived there, an’ would still, only for some uv me own tantrums.”
“Lived where—at St. Augustine?”
“Yes, sir,” and McShane’s countenance assumed an expression of remorse.
“What happened to you there?”
“Somethin’ uv a delicate natsher,” deprecatingly responded the Irishman.
“Nothing disgraceful, I hope?”
“O, no! Be the crass uv St. Bridget! there nivir wus one uv me name, aither dead or alive, that did any thing dhirty.”
“You ran foul of some of the Spanish girls there, I imagine.”
“I had always a sthrong wakeness for the cratshers, but it wusn’t that. No, no: it wus all out uv givin’ some eldherly people a gallopin’ ride be moonlight.”
“Let’s hear it, then, by all means; come, out with it.”
“Well, thin, there’s a gintleman I lived with there, uv the name uv Martin,—Colonel Martin, an ould widower, full uv all kinds uv divilment an’ fun, an’ oceans of money. An’ he was very great with a young lawyer that came from Virgeeny, uv the name uv Hartley, a fine, handsome young fellow, who boorded at the Planter’s Hotel. Well, Hartley, ye see, was in love with a Frinch lady, an heiress uv great fortune an’ renown, uv the name uv Blathereye—“
“Blathiere, you mean; have heard of the family; she was very beautiful, I’ve been told.”
“As beautiful as a nosegay an’ as rich as crame. So, he was in love with her, an’ she with him; an’ what does they both do but agree to run off an’ get married; for, ye see, her ould uncle an’ aunt that she lived with, wouldn’t hear uv her marryin’ any one but a Spaniard that had a face an him as green as a duck’s egg. But the young lady, Miss Sophy, turned up her beautiful nose at the Spaniard, as well as she might, an’ swore she’d nivir marry morthal man but the lawyer. So they agreed to run aff, but some how, afther they started a little, the hillabaloo was raised an’ the whole clan-jaffry of the Frinch wint aff in purshoot. The young folks was overtaken an’ there was great ructions, depind upon it,—nothin’ but curses an’ shouts pistols, that ’ud rise the hair off yer head.
“However, nobody was killed, but Miss Sophy was fetched back an’ locked up like a linnet in her cage. Poor Hartley was greatly bothered av coorse, an’ ould Balderdash swore that he’d have his heart’s blood af he ivir got a hould uv him, while the ould gridiron uv an aunt prayed pardition to all lawyers an’ hiritics. The Spaniard immajintly sint a challenge to Misther Hartley to fight him a jewel, an’ they mit an a beautiful mornin’ above the town; but the lawyer, it seems’ wus a famous jeweller an’ was nearly makin’ a spatchcook uv Don Goslino, for he shot him through the back uv the neck at the first clip.
“This made ould Balderdash madder nor ivir, an’ he hopped about for a couple uv days like a hen an a hot griddle. So he challenged the lawyer too, but Hartley, like a dacint boy, as he wus, bein’ jubious to offind the young lady, refused to have any thing to say to the ould badger.
“So the lawyer an’ Col. Martin wure oftener nor ivir together, an’ used to be colloquin’ for hours, whin the Colonel ’ud roar out a laughin’ an’ slap the lawyer’s back an’ tell him to keep up his sperits, for the poor boy looked mournful an’ disolate like that it vexed one to look at ’m.
“It will be all right yit, me friend,” sez the Col. to him one night in his own house. “I’ll bet a cool thousan’ that before another month, ye’ll be able to call the prettiest girl an’ the largest fortshin’ in Floriday yer own. The girl, ye see,” sez he, “’ll be the misthress uv her own money immajintly afther her marriage, an’—“
“O, Martin,” sez the other, “I care but little for her money, if I only could hope to call her parsin mine,” sez he, in a kind uv voice that ’ud bring the tears into yer eyes.
“Nivir mind, me boy,” sez the Colonel. “Don’t be baby-mouthed about the matther. Depind on it it ’ill be all as straight as a poker in a month or less.”
“But what d’ye mane at all, at all?” sez the lawyer puzzlid like.
“The ould duoanus, ye say—“
“Duenna you mean, I suppose.”
“Very like, Misther Boggs; but it’s all the same in Lathin. ‘So,’ sez the Colonel, ‘the ould dhohenny, ye say, locks up this little hummin’ bird night an’ day, an’ nivir goes out herself to look at the beauties uv nature an’ vigitables in gineral?’
“‘Jist so,’ sez the lawyer.
“‘An’ that she sleeps or snores in the same appartmint with the niece?’
“‘Yis,’ sez the lawyer.
“‘An’ where does the he dhraggin uv an oncle sleep?’
“‘In the west ind, down stairs,’ sez the other.
“‘How high is her chamber windey from the groun’?’
“‘As high as a steeple;—a laddher ’ud be uv no manner uv use.’
“‘It’s all right, howiver,’ sez the Colonel, afther musin’ a little. ‘I’ll manage it all aisily,’ sez he.
“‘Be me sowl, thin. it’s all Habrew to me hou ye’ll do it, any how,’ sez the lawyer.
“‘I’ll clear the house uv thim,’ sez the Colonel. ‘Ould Snaggletooth an’ the bull tarrier, her brother, must come out of that,’ sez he.
“‘Ye don’t mane to use violence, I hope,’ sez Misther Hartley.
“Ye know me friend Davis,—Divil Davis, as they call ’m? Well he’ll do any thing for me I want. So I’ll jist get him to coort this ould hamper trout—”
“Amphytrite, you mean, I suppose; but go on,” interrupted Mr. Boggs.
“Riddikellis!” sez the lawyer.
“Ye’ll see, howivir,” sez the Colonel. “He’s not much over fifty, an’ he can wind a younger one than her round his thumb like a cork-screw. McShane an’ meself can manage the rest, for McShane is a Polly-ran in his way.”
“Talleyrand was the word, I imagine.”
“To be sure: but in troth me heart jumped to me throat at this bit uv a complemint; for I was in the room all the time listenin’ an’ waitin’ an thim; but they knew I wouldn’t desave thim for goold.
“But,” sez Misther Hartley, hesitatin’ an’ lookin’ conpunxions, which, in a lawyer, seemed strange an’ onnatsheral like; “but,” sez he, “would this be fair an’ above boord?”
“Pshaw!” sez the Colonel. “In love an’ in war,” saz he, “iviry thing’s fair barin’ pillagin’ hen roosts.”
So Divil Davis, he goes to coortin’ me salamandher uv an aunt, an,’ be all accounts, in double quick time, he made pavin’ stones uv all her objections; for in the coorse uv a couple uv weeks, she wus as blind in love as a two-year-ould. But it’s himself that had the sootherin’ tongue. So, one night afther Hartley an’ Davis had wint away from the Colonel’s, the Colonel, he calls to me an’ sez:
“Bony McShane!” sez he.
“Here at yer sarvice, sir,” sez I.
“I think I can depind on ye,” sez he.
“I’m not a rotten mimber, I hope,” sez I.
“Ye’re steady an’ firm, I think,” sez he.
“Ye’ve heard uv the rocks uv Gibaralther, I suppose.” sez I.
“Were ye ivir in love?” sez he.
“Well, that’s a quare question to ax an Irishman, any how,” sez I.
“Can ye read writin?” sez he, takin’ up aff the table three little letthers that was saled in the natest manner.
“Any thing, from copper plate down to Father O’ Roorke’s sarmints in Irish is aisy to me,” sez I.
Thin he begun to tell me all about the coortship an’ so an, which was very shuperfluous as Sarjint Stripe said the other day, whin ordhered to go out in purshoot uv the Injins, seein’ that I knew iviry thing about it meself beforehand.
“Well now,” sez he, “since ye comprehind the natsher uv yer mission, ye’ll have to keep yer eye well skinned; for one mistake, ye persave, ’ud be the ruination uv us; ye undherstan’?”
“As plain as the flowers uv May,” sez I.
“Ye’ll give this little billet to Misther Blathereye; it’s an invitation to him to a phwist party here the morrow night; an’ I’ll sind me own carriage for him to come. This other ye’ll persave be the shuperscripture, is for the famale alligathor, his sisther, an’ look out for mistakes, for she’s as deef as a catfish. It’s sint to her by Divil Davis; she’ll know what it manes, an’ can send an answer or not, as she plases. It seems that the dilicate cratsher has agreed to a runaway match with the Divil. Be the bye, ye can bring her some of the game we killed yistherday as a prisint like; it’ll make yer visit a little more acceptabler, prehaps: and ye can slip her the billit unbeknownst to the brother, while she’s takin’ the birds. An’ now, this third epistle’s from Misther Hartley to the young lady; an’ for yer life an’ sowl ye must be careful about that. If ye get a glimpse uv her any way at all in a safe way, dilivir it, but if not, hould an to it;—ye ondherstan’ me now?” sez he.
“Let me alone for that, Colonel Martin,” sez I. “In throth af she wus surrounded be the twelves thribes uv Injins, not to spake uv the walls uv Throy, I’ll give her the letther.”
“An’ now,” sez he, “af ye only succeed well, I’ll make ye a prisint uv fifty dollars afther the runaway; but I think, for fear uv accidints, ye had betther take pistils with ye, for Blathereye’s a dangerous man.”
“Nivir mind about that,” sez I. “Only give me a bit uv a stick, an’ with that an’ a bould heart, I’ll get through,” sez I.
“So I daddles along ’till I come forninst the house, an’ I watched up an’ down along the windeys to see af I couldn’t get a glimpse uv Miss Sophy; but the windeys was all blind-foulded there. So, thinks I, may be she’s somewhere about the gavel ind, for the moon’s shinin’ on thim parts; an’ sure enough, whin I got round, the shutters uv a windey wus open away up an the third story. So, thinks I, she must be there, the cratsher, an’ I coughed a couple uv times, but it wus no use. So I thought uv a way to bring her out, that I nivir knew to fail in me life, an’ I immajintly whistled a few varses of Cooleen dhas Cooshal na mo. But the divil a half road I got through, whin, sure enough, she puts out her beautiful head.
“Augh! darlin’,” sez I, “is it there
ye are? I’ll deliver ye, dear, before long.”
So I pulls out the billit, but, thinks I, how can I sind it up with convanience? I stooped down an’ groped about for a bit uv a stone to make tight to it, but the divil a pibble the size uv a midge’s knee-buckle I could get. What’ll I do now, thinks I. This is too bad intirely, sez I, scratchin’ me head and thin lookin’ up; but she was gone. Och! murther! sez I, I see it all now. McShane, sez I, yer a smart man. Bad luck to ye for an unfortshunit haveril! ye’ve scared aff the bird. She thought, ye see, whin she seen me stoopin’ down, that I wanted a stone or a brick-bat to knock out her brains. God forgive me blundherin’ sowl! sez I. But well bethought uv me at last! I feels in
me pocket where I had a knife an’ a gold aigle. Now the aigle, thinks I, ’ll be much more janteeler to sind up than the knife; an’ as to the value uv the thing, af she keeps it, why, I only wish there wus twinty uv ’m. So I fastens the letther to me aigle an’ spits an it for luck, an’ steppin’ back a little jist to see if the stash wus still up, I tuck aim like a quiot pitcher an’ sint it clane through the openin.’ Hooh! sez I; that’s the cut, sez Curly, whin he cut the toes aff his mother. Throth me heart wus as light as a bagful of flaes whin I knowed she had it. So I walks round to the front door, like a grannydeer, and knocked, whin a nagur man made his appearance.
“What d’ye want, sir?” sez he.
“If any one axes ye, tell’m ye don’t know,” sez I, for he looked impedint. “Is yer masther an’ misses in, Misther Lampblack?” sez I.
“Me name isn’t Lampblack,” sez he, rusty like; “an’ ye mustn’t come in widout tellin’ yer business.”
“’Pon me conscience now,” sez I, “I’ll bate buckashillandy on the crown uv yer head af he give me any more uv yer impedince. Tell yer masther,” sez I, “that a gintleman desires to spake to ’m.”
“A gintleman!” sez the nagur, agrinnin’ like a skinned cat.
“Yis,” sez I, “the imperor uv Morocco,—the great Mogul uv Roossia,” sez I, an’ I made a kick at ’m like a mule. But faith he run an’ holled an’ I afther ’m full tilt, ’till we boulted right into the parlor where the Frinchman an’ his sisther wure sated.
“Milley day abble!” roared the ould fellow, startin’ to his feet an’ lookin’ as mad as a couple uv bulls. “What does this mane at all, at all?” sez he.
“Plase yer honor,” sez I, as cool as a cowslip, “Plase yer honor,” sez I, “Misther Blatherskate, yer nagur’s very unmannerly; for he tould me I shouldn’t come in an’ delivir me prisint uv birds.”
“He did?” sez he, lookin’ down at the game like a hungry rat at a sackful uv praties, an’ thin at the nagur as if he would ate him first; “get out uv me sight!” sez he, “ye descindint of midnight ye, or I’ll murther ye. Come forrard, Patrique,” sez he, sootherin’ like, “an’ take somethin’ to dhrink. Them’s fine birds,” sez he, “any how.”
“Beautiful!” sez I, whin I wus done dhrinkin’, “but they arn’t for you.”
“What’s that ye say?” sez he, openin’ his jaws like a shark.
“They’re for yer amiable sisther here, with all Colonel Martin’s compliments,” sez I, mollifyin’ an’ polite.
“Oh!” sez he, “it’s all the same in Dutch.”
“But I’ve an invitation for ye to a bit uv a jubilation at the Colonel’s the morrow night,” sez I, a pullin’ out the note an’ givin’ it to ’m.
“Ah! the Colonel’s a nice man intirely,” sez he.
“The divil a one’s a goin’ to conthradict ye there,” sez I, walkin’ up to where the sisther wus sittin’, starin’ at me all the time as bould as a ram. I give her the birds an’ wus proceedin’ to make her a bit uv a speech I had made an the road, thinkin’, ye see, I might have a chance, in the manetime, uv deliverin’ the note to her unbeknownst to the brother. He kipt watchin’ an’ watchin’ howivir, an’ I don’t b’lieve she hard a word uv me speech; for she only made a grab at the birds widout sayin’ thankee kindly, an’ throwed ’m behind her.
“Och! och! thinks I, I wish Divil Davis luck uv ye any how, for God knows yer a coorse christian, as the divil sed whin he got a hould uv the hedge hog.
“Me sisther ’s a little deef, Patrique,” sez the brother.
“I persave so,” sez I, sorry like, “an’ more’s the pity,” sez I, “for she’s beautiful.” God pardin’ me for lyin’! thinks I. “But, Misther Blathershins,” sez I, wantin’ to change the discoorse, or I persaved he did’nt like me compliment to the sisther, some how;—“but Misther Blathershins,” sez I, “me name isn’t Patrick at all.”
“Blathershins!” sez he, lookin’ as mad as a hatter, “Me name isn’t Blathershins at all, at all, ye born ninny ye.”
“Beg pardin, sir,” sez I; but I nivir larned to spake Frinch. Howivir,” sez I, “me name’s not Patrick, but Bony.”
“Augh!” sez he, plased like. “Ye were called afther Bonyparte, then, the grand imperoor.”
“Divil a bit,” sez I. “I was called afther a holy saint be the name uv Bonaventure.”
“”Bah!” sez he. “How did that happen?”
“I’ll tell ye,” sez I. “When I wus born, I wus wake lookin’ an’ donsey, I’m tould; so, to keep me out uv child’s purgathory in case I should die, me mother wanted me christened immajintly, an’ be good luck, who happens to step in in a couple uv days, but the priest, whin the thing wus proposed.
“What name will ye give to the spalpeen?” sez the priest.
“Divil a one of me knows yit,” sez me mother. “We haven’t made up our minds about it.”
“Make haste, thin,” sez the priest, “for I’m in a hurry.”
“There’s Mikky,” sez she, “an’ Pether, an’ Paul, an’ Patrick, an’ Felix, an’ Corney—“
“O, yes!” sez his riverince gettin’ mad. “Thim’s beautiful names. Hadn’t we betther, thin, call him afther all the saints in the calendhir in a lump?”
“O, the Lord forbid!” sez me mother crassin’ hersilf.
“This the festival uv St. Bonaventure,” sez the priest, “supposin’ we call him be that blissed name an’ have done with this gostherin’ nonsince.”
“Yer rivirence knows what’s best for the child,” sez my mother. So they christened me Bonaventure. But the worst uv the thing wus to happen.
Whin my father come home in the evenin’ he tuck me up in his arms.
“His riverince wus here the day,” sez me mother.
“Well!” sez me father.
“He christened our boy,” sez she.
“Ye wure in a divil uv a hurry not to wait for his father,” sez he. “But what name did ye give ’m?”
“Let me see,” sez the mother, musin’ a little.
“See what?” sez me father short like.
“In throth I b’lieve I forget,” sez me mother.
“Och! murther! murther! d’ye hear that?” sez my father. “Now, if that doesn’t bang Bannagher! ye don’t know the name uv yer own born child! That’s beautiful any how. May be it’s Belzybub, or Nebuckkoddinnazar, or some uv thim aisy names,” sez he, mockin’ like.
“I’ll think uv it presintly af ye have patience,” sez she.
“I’ll go ravin’ mad an’ distractid,” sez he.
“I have it now,” sez me mother.
“Glory be to God for that!” sez me father.
“Its Hop-at-a-venture he’s called,” sez she.
Tare an’ nouns! how the Frinchman laughed at that!
“Are ye a native uv this country?” sez the ould fiddlsticks uv a sisther, spakin’ for the first time.
“’Deed I’m not, Miss Blathers,” sez I.
“Blathers!” squeeled the brother. “There!” sez he, “he’s at it again, the phooterin’ divil!” an’ thin he roared out a laughin’ the saccind time.
But jist thin the sisther handed me somethin’ like a tin bugle.
“I’m not a musicianer, ma’am,” sez I, “barrin’ it’s a few tunes an the jewsharp, now an’ thin.’
“Musicianer!” sez the brother, an’ he laughed again ’till he fairly cried. “Why that’s an ear trumpet, ye gump ye,” sez he. “Put that ind to her ear an’ spake to her.”
I did as he tould me, an’ “how’s yer health, ma’am, this long time?” sez I, spakin’ through the tin. But she only rouled her eyes at me like an owl layin’ an egg.
“O dear! O dear!” sez her brother. “This man ’ll be the death uv me surely. Why, man, she axed ye if ye wure a native uv this counthry,” sez he.
“O! is that it?” sez I. “Beggin’ yer pardin, ma’am,” sez I, “I was born in Irelan’.”
“Ah! thin,” sez she, plased like, “ye must be a Catholic.”
“Throth, I am, ma’am,” sez I.
“I hope ye don’t forget to attind yer religious juties here,” sez she.
“I do me best, ma’am,” sez I. But ye divil’s own darnin’ needle ye, thinks I, what’s it your bisness whether I do or not.
I nivir wus bothered so in me born days, for she kipt catechisin’ me like a couple uv friars. There wus only one quistion, howiver, that I could’nt answer, it seems.
‘What was that?”
“She axed me how many commandmints there wus, an’ I b’lieve I didn’t answer correctly. May be you know, Misther Boggs?”
“There are ten commandments,” was the reply.
“Phoo! there must be far more nor that, for I offered her thirty meself, but she wouldn’t look at ’m. She thried to puzzle me worse, howivir.
“D’ye know the five cardinal vartues?” sez she.
“The four cardinal points uv the compass, ye mane, I suppose, ma’am,” sez I, correctin’ her, for I wanted to be up with her about the commandmints. But she looked curious at me now.
“Can ye repate the sivin deadly sins itself,” sez she to me.
“O! that’s aisy, any how,” sez I. “You’re playin’ into me hand now intirely,” sez I, though bad scran to me af I knowed much about this question; but, ye see, I wonldn’t give up to her. “So,” says I, afther thinkin’ a little, “there’s pride, patience, parsevarince, parsuasion, gluttiny, timperince an’ minsuration.”
“Ho! ho! ho!” sez the brother, startin’ up to his feet, an’ shakin’ an’ roarin’ with laughtsher, “I can’t stand this any longer; indeed,” sez he. “I’ll go to bed afther that, any how,” an’ he wint nekerin’ out uv the room as af he ’ud split his breeches.
“It’s all right now, thinks I, afther he’d cleared out; but some how, ould leather lugs looked as mad an’ as vexed at me as a dog at a drummer; but the divil a bit I cared about that; for I jumped to me feet an’ danced Pether O’Pee a couple uv times round the room; I thin got a hold uv the bugle, an’ sez I, “whisper, me darlin’,” an’ putting the tin to her ear, “Pooh!” sez I, as loud as I could.
“Get out uv the house, ye vagabone, ye!” sez she. “Get out uv the house this minit, ye natsheril ijiiot ye!” sez she, “or I’ll call me brother.”
“Betther not,” sez I; but for fear uv losin’ me fine opportunity, I pulled out the billit an’ handed it to her. Well, well, it’s a folly to talk; but whin she wus done readin’, she come over to me, an’ catchin’ me be the shouldhers, turned me round to the light, an’ stared at me hard for a couple uv minits.
“I undherstand ye now,” she sed at last, an’ takin’ a pen and ink, she wrote off a note in a jiffy, an’ salin it up nately, tould me to take care an’ delivir it safely.
“Don’t be afeered about that, ma’am,” sez I a-winkin’ at her, “an’ now,” sez I, “beautiful dhrames to ye always.”
“Sez I to meself, afther lavin’ the lady, Bonny McShane, yer the greatest man in the world. Ye can bate the Jews an’ out-gineral the Gintiles. So, thinks I, I’ll just walk round an’ see how Miss Sophy comes an; for may be the cratsher’s ex
pecting me an’ has some missage to sind. O! it was a grand night for a young lady in love: for glory to be God! the moon was shinin’ an iviry thing as bright as pewter. So I sthrikes up a bit uv a whistle, whin, sure enough, she put out her head, and thin her white little hand, dhrappin’ a beautiful billit at me feet.
“It’s all right now,” sez I, afther carefully puttin’ the thing in me pocket. But whin I looked up again an’ saw her nod so kindly an’ smile so sweet at me, I thought me heart ’ud burst, seein’ that she’d been pinin’ away up there so long, like a daisy an a disolate hill. “Och! jewel an’ darlin’,” sez I, “I wish I wus the king uv Peruvia for yer sake; I’d take ye away from the Philisthines long ago”; an’ I began to feel tendher an’ very romantic-like, an’ wished I had a new hat on me head an’ a rose in me button-hole: an’ thinks I, as the night’s so illigant, an’ finely shooted for pinsive miditation, I’ll give ye a but uv a song, that I larned in Irelan’, to cheer yer heart a little; whin jist at that minit, what should come jinglin’ down but a purse full uv goold! Thinks I, this is double compound intherest for me aigle; but God bliss ye dear! I won’t give ye offince by refusin’ it; but it damped me a little, some how, an’ I’d rather she’d kipt it hersilf. At all evints, I sung her the followin’ varses—
“By the big hill uv Hoth!—
That’s a bit uv an oath;
For to swear I am loath
As the heart of a stone;—
But be poison me dhrink!
If I sleep, snore or wink,
Once forgettin’ to think
Uv yer lyin’ alone.
Sweet Molly! Sweet Molly Malone!
“Och! it’s how I’m in love,
Like a beautiful dove
That sits cooin’ above
In the bough uv a tree!
Meself I’ll soon smother
With something or other,
Unliss I can bother
Yer heart to love me;—
Sweet Molly! Sweet Molly Malone!
“I can see whin ye smile,
Though I’m aff half a mile;—
Though me eyes all the while
Keep along with me head.
Och! I’ll roar an’ I’ll groan,—
Me sweet Molly Malone!
’Till I’m bone uv yer bone
An’ asleep in yer bed:—
Sweet Molly! Sweet”—
but jist as I got that far, a damnable mastiff come gulgin round at me an’ fastened his teeth in the sat uv me breetches! That wus too bad intirely. “Hah!” sez I, “as polite as I could, not purtendin’ to be harted, ye persave, before the young lady, though I wus mad with pain an’ burnin’ with shame at the affront. “Hah!” sez I, “is that yer manners, ye glammakin’ whelp ye?” an’ draggin’ him round afther me from forninst her windey, out an the sthreet, I run me thrumb in his eye an’ give ’m a pattherara or two with me stick that made ’m glad to lit go.
“O, not so aisy, me lark!” sez I, seein’ that he tried to get aff from me. “It’s my thurn now, me beauty,” sez I; an takin’ a hoult uv ’m be the tail, an’ swingin’ ’m over me head like a flail, flop I brought ’m down an the pavement:—bad luck to ’m! for I felt the blood comin’ out uv me fast where he bit me.
“Don’t kill the dog!” sez the nagur; throth I b’lieve the nagur set him an me at first.
“O! uv coorse not,” sez I. “I would’nt hurt a hair uv his head,” an’ down I brought ’m the sacind time. Be this time, he was getting’ as long an’ as saft as a hearth-rug.
“Don’t kill me dog, ye villin ye!” shouts the nagur again. “Let the dog go!” sez he.
“Don’t ye see,” sez I swingin’ ’m round again, “that if I let ’m go now, he’ll fall an’ get hurted?” sez I; but jist thin, the nagur fired away at me with a brick.
“Hah!” sez I. “Is it there ye are?” an’ before he could fire again, I throwed the dog at ’m, when both some tumbling down tagither. “O, ho!” sez I, “me yallow yorlin’, have I got ye now?” an’ I give ’m half-a-dozen paltogues about the head that larned him betther manners, I’ll be bound, for the futsher.
“Yer a Throjan, McShane,” sez Col. Martin, t’ me the following night, whin they wure all tagither. “The thrain ’s well laid,” sez he, “an’ we’ll blow up the fort the night, with a little more injineerin’. Ye’ll take me carriage now an’ convay the Frinchman here as soon as ye can an’ immajintly afther, ye’ll go back for the sisther. Will ye go along up for her?” sez he, thurnin’ to Divil Davis. “Why don’t ye spake, man?” sez he, seein’ that the other was hesitatin’.
“I’d give a thousan’ dollars this minit to be clane out uv this scrape,” sez the Divil.
“Tut, man!” sez the Colonel, “It ’ud be the best thing ye could do to make up yer mind an’ marry her: she’s good enough for ye. I’m thinkin’ too it ’ll look rather odd if something uv that kind isn’t done. There ’ll be some ugly talk an’ powdher burnt before all’s over. Throth, I ’udn’t be in yer shoes the morrow mornin’, Divil Davis, for a thrifle,” sez he, mockin’ like.
“An’ whose fault is it all, Col. Martin?” sez the Divil, very vexed lookin’.
“Af I might make bould,” sez I, “gintlemin,” sez I, seein’ thim all in great swithers—
“‘Swithers!’ What the devil’s the meaning of swithers?” enquired Capt. Swelter.
“Swithers manes a very parplexed state uv a man’s natsher, whin he’d as soon go backard as forard, an’ sooner too. For instince, Gineral Han
spike wus in great swithers whin he come to the Floriday wars. Well, as I was sayin’,” sez I, “gintlemin,” sez I, “I suppose the only thing to be done is to get the ould folks out of the way?”
“That’s it,” sez the Colonel.
“An’ who’ll attind to the young lady whin that’s done?’ sez I.
“I shall,” sez Misther Hartley, who didn’t seem to half like some uv the arrangemints.
“Well an’ good,” sez I, crackin’ me whip over me horses, an’ aff I stharted.
“Is that Col. Martin’s carriage?” sung out the Frinchman whin I come up to his door.
“The divil a other,” sez I.
“Is that you, ye infarnil savige ye,” sez he, “that bate me sarvint last night?”
“I’m the gintleman,” sez I, “that delivered ye the invitation last night for a party, an’ I’m ready to resave ye now af yer goin’ to go,” sez I.
“Ye bloody villin ye!” sez he, a-getting’ into the vahicle, “I’ll have ye discharged an yer ears cut aff ye the morrow,” sez he.
I wus as mad as a pig, but I did’nt say a word; for who should I see at that minit but the sisther comin’ out uv the door an the tips af her toes. The ijiot, thinks I, has heered the carriage, an’ thinks it’s come for her runaway. O, murther! the fat’s in the fire now, any how. But a thought jist sthruck me:—thinks I, af I can only get her into the vahicle oncet, it may do. So I jumps down an’ handed her in without sayin’ a word barrin’ a squeeze uv the hand to lit her know jist that it wus all right.
“What does this mane?” sez the brother. “Has she been invited too?”
“O! av coorse, sir,” sez I. “It’s to be a mixed party all out,” sez I, makin’ as much haste as I could. But the divil invagle me if she did’nt think it was Divil Davis she had in the carriage in the place uv her own brother.
“Augh, darlin’!” sez she, throwin’ her arms about him, “I’m afeered ye’ll consider this step in me very indelicate; but me passion for ye has triumphed ouer ivery female scruple.”
“The divil burn ye! What d’ ye mane at all at all?” sez he a-startin’ back from her.
“But love like mine, me darlin’ Davis! surmounts all impidimints in its way to makin’ its object happy. Why does’nt me darlin’ spake?” sez she, for she did’nt hear a word that wus se yit, seein’ she was so deef.
“‘Darlin’ Davis!’” sez he, wondering like a stuck pig. “There’s something wrong here,” sez he. “The woman’s mad!—Stap the carriage!” sez he very loud an’ crabbed.
“It’s too late in the day for that, me boy, now,” sez I to meself, as I put the whip to the horses.
“D’ye hear me?” sez he again, louder an’ louder. “Stap the carriage! I want to get out!”
“That,” sez I, goin’ faster an’ faster, “puts me in mind uv a fellow-passinger I had whin I was crassin’ the says”—
“Stap the carriage, ye vagabone ye!” sez he, now fairly squallin’ with passion, while his sisther set up a loud phillaloo, bekase, I suppose, she’d found out her mistake.
“Sez me fellow-passinger,” sez I, nivir lettin’ an like, an’ givin’ the horses another cut uv the whip, “whin he got very say-sick,” sez he, ‘Captain dear,’ sez he, ‘stap the ship a little, for I want to get out.’ D’ye ondherstand what I mane, Misther Blatherumskite?” sez I.
“Will ye do what I tell ye, ye infarnil savige ye?” sez he. “Be the powers uv pewther! I’ll put ye to death this minit,” sez he, smashin’ the windeys.
“Don’t make a Judy uv yerself now,” sez I. “Don’t ye see ye’ve frightened the horses with yer damnable gragherin’?” sez I, lettin’ an I could’nt hould thim, for I thought it ’ud be betther to dhrive round four or five miles to give iviry chance to the people behind me.
“Where are ye dhrivin’ to any how?” sez he. “Sure this isn’t the road to Col. Martin’s at all.”
“To Jinglety Cooch, I suppose,” sez I. “I wish ye’d come out an’ help me to hould thim, or lind me the loan iv yer pistols to shoot thim, for they’re goin tarrible hard now intirely,” sez I.
“I can’t get out, man,” sez he, “an’ I left me pistols behind me.”
“Glory be to Heaven for that same!” thinks I, feelin’ aisier an’ givin’ the horses a wallop.
“O, dear! O, dear!” sez he, “we’ll be knocked into smithereens!”
“Ye nivir seen any uv the chariot races in anshint times, I’ll be bound?” sez I, thryin’ to divart him a little.
“What’s that ye say?” sez he.
“An’ I suppose ye’ll pretind to acknowlidge that ye nivir attinded the Tubberscurry coorse nor the Kildare races in Irelan’?” sez I.
“Be the bones uv St. Dinnis!” sez he, “I b’lieve yer doin’ it on purpose.”
“Yer jokin’ now, surely,” sez I. “Ye must have passed for a great wit in France intirely.”
“Ye insultin’ barbarian ye!” sez he, “I’ll have yer liver in the mornin’ for this.”
“May be ye’d prefer a little burgoo,” sez I, “or a bit uv a bull-frog,” sez I, wheelin’ round homewards at last, an’ goin’ a little aisier; “but be me sowl,” sez I, “I’ve a great mind to have ye apperhinded for a cannyball.”
“Be all the divils in Jericho,” sez he, “if there’s any design in this bisness, but I’ll wash me hands to the ilbows in yer heart’s blood!”
“Throth, thin, to the best uv my b’lief, a little could wather ’ud be much more genteeler to wash in, seein’ that its to a dacint party uv Christians you’re goin’,” sez I. “Well, well, I’ve had me own throuble to stap thim horses,” sez I, “not to
spake uv the scouldin’ ye gived me. ’Pon me conscience,” sez I, “I dhrew miny a gintleman in me time, but I nivir wus so malavogued with abuse in me born days afore.”
“An’ whose fault is it, ye divil ye,” sez he, “whin ye wure thryin’ to break meself an’ me sisther’s necks?” sez he, more pleasanter like, an findin’ I had thurned round an’ was goin’ aisier.
“Break yer necks, is it?” sez I. “Throth, I wouldn’t break the shell uv a spidher’s egg in fifty years. But it’s all right now: we’re not more nor a couple uv miles from Col. Martin’s now,” sez I. O Misther Hartley! thinks I, af ye haven’t her aff afore this, I hope ye’ll die with a sthraw in yer mouth.
“But to make a long story short;—afther all hands uv us got to the Colonel’s;—whin Misthress Hartley,—for, ye see, the youngsters got maried an’ all afore we got back,—come to confiss an’ make friends with her oncle an’ aunt;—whin the ould lady broke out upan Davis,—for he was there, too—O! there was tarrible ructions. I nivir knowed fairly how they settled it all, excipt that Divil Davis had to marry the sisther; but I ondherstood that the Frinchman wus goin’ to shue me for forcible larceny, or something uv that natshur; so, to keep out uv danger, I came to the Floriday wars.”
J. F. K.
Source: Southern Literary Messenger 12.12 (December, 1846): 743-750.
Mark Bell, UR English Master’s Program, prepared this typescript.
 We included this lengthy piece of Irish-dialect humor for several reasons. Florida, at the time of the story, was as wild as anywhere depicted in the dialect humor from the Old Southwest. One might reasonably say even wilder, as open warfare raged between whites and Native Americans. Second, the piece shows some of the same patterns of narration as those from the Southern Frontier, including the framing of the lower-class dialect speaker's story by a more genteel story-teller who begins the tale. (note by Joe Essid, UR English Department).
 ., in the original text.
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