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The Dead Boxer The Works of William Carleton, Volume Two   By: (1794-1869)

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By William Carleton


One evening in the beginning of the eighteenth century as nearly as we can conjecture, the year might be that of 1720 some time about the end of April, a young man named Lamh Laudher O'Rorke, or Strong handed O'Eorke, was proceeding from his father's house, with a stout oaken cudgel in his hand, towards an orchard that stood at the skirt of a country town, in a part of the kingdom which, for the present, shall be nameless. Though known by the epithet of Lamh Laudher , his Christian name was John; but in those time(s) Irish families of the same name were distinguished from each other by some indicative of their natural position, physical power, complexion, or figure. One, for instance, was called Parra Ghastha , or swift Paddy, from his fleetness of foot; another, Shaun Buie , or yellow Jack, from his bilious look; a third, Micaul More , or big Michael, from his uncommon size; and a fourth, Sheemus Ruah , or red James, from the color of his hair. These epithets, to be sure, still occur in Ireland, but far less frequently now than in the times of which we write, when Irish was almost the vernacular language of the country. It was for a reason similar to those just alleged, that John O'Rorke was known as Lamh Laudher O'Rorke; he, as well as his forefathers for two or three generations, having been remarkable for prodigious bodily strength and courage. The evening was far advanced as O'Rorke bent his steps to the orchard. The pale, but cloudless sun hung over the western hills, and sun upon the quiet gray fields that kind of tranquil radiance which, in the opening of summer, causes many a silent impulse of delight to steal into the heart. Lamh Laudher felt this; his step was slow, like that of a man who, without being capable of tracing those sources of enjoyment which the spirit absorbs from the beauties of external nature, has yet enough of uneducated taste and feeling within him, to partake of the varied feast which she presents.

As he sauntered thus leisurely along he was met by a woman rather advanced in years, but still unusually stout and muscular, considering her age. She was habited in a red woollen petticoat that reached but a short distance below the knee, leaving visible two stout legs, from which dangled a pair of red garters that bound up her coarse blue hose. Her gown of blue worsted was pinned up, for it did not meet around her person, though it sat closely about her neck. Her grizzly red hair, turned up in front, was bound by a dowd cap without any border, a circumstance which, in addition to a red kerchief, tied over it, and streaming about nine inches down the back, gave to her tout ensemble a wild and striking expression. A short oaken staff, hooked under the hand, completed the description of her costume. Even on a first glance there appeared to be something repulsive in her features, which had evidently been much exposed to sun and storm. By a closer inspection one might detect upon their hard angular outline, a character of cruelty and intrepidity. Though her large cheek bones stood widely asunder, yet her gray piercing eyes were very near each other; her nose was short and sadly disfigured by a scar that ran tranversely across it, and her chin, though pointed, was also deficient in length. Altogether, her whole person had something peculiar and marked about it so much so, indeed, that it was impossible to meet her without feeling she was a female of no ordinary character and habits.

Lamh Laudher had been, as we have said, advancing slowly along the craggy road which led towards the town, when she issued from an adjoining cabin and approached him. The moment he noticed her he stood still, as if to let her pass and uttered one single exclamation of chagrin and anger.

" Ma shaughth milia mollach ort, a calliagh! My seven thousand curses on you for an old hag," said he, and haying thus given vent to his indignation at her appearance, he began to retrace his steps as if unwilling to meet her... Continue reading book >>

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