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Phelim Otoole's Courtship and Other Stories Traits And Stories Of The Irish Peasantry, The Works of William Carleton, Volume Three   By: (1794-1869)

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Phelim O'toole's Courtship Wildgoose Lodge Tubber Derg; Or, The Red Well. Neal Malone Art Maguire; Or, The Broken Pledge.


Phelim O'Toole, who had the honor of being that interesting personage, an only son, was heir to a snug estate of half an acre, which had been the family patrimony since the time of his grandfather, Tyrrell O'Toole, who won it from the Sassenah at the point of his reaping hook, during a descent once made upon England by a body of "spalpeens," in the month of August. This resolute little band was led on by Tyrrell, who, having secured about eight guineas by the excursion, returned to his own country, with a coarse linen travelling bag slung across his shoulder, a new hat in one hand, and a staff in the other. On reaching once more his native village of Teernarogarah, he immediately took half an acre, for which he paid a moderate rent in the shape of daily labor as a cotter. On this he resided until death, after which event he was succeeded by his son, Larry O'Toole, the father of the "purty boy" who is about to shine in the following pages.

Phelim's father and mother had been married near seven years without the happiness of a family. This to both was a great affliction. Sheelah O'Toole was melancholy from night to morning, and Larry was melancholy from morning to night. Their cottage was silent and solitary; the floor and furniture had not the appearance of any cottage in which Irish children are wont to amuse themselves. When they rose in the morning, a miserable stillness prevailed around them; young voices were not heard laughing eyes turned not on their parents the melody of angry squabbles, as the urchins, in their parents' fancy, cuffed and scratched each other half, or wholly naked among the ashes in the morning, soothed not the yearning hearts of Larry and his wife. No, no; there was none of this.

Morning passed in a quietness hard to be borne: noon arrived, but the dismal dreary sense of childlessness hung upon the house and their hearts; night again returned, only to add its darkness to that which overshadowed the sorrowful spirits of this disconsolate couple.

For the first two or three years, they bore this privation with a strong confidence that it would not last. The heart, however, sometimes becomes tired of hoping, or unable to bear the burthen of expectation, which time only renders heavier. They first began to fret and pine, then to murmur, and finally to recriminate.

Sheelah wished for children, "to have the crathurs to spake to," she said, "and comfort us when we'd get ould an' helpless."

Larry cared not, provided they had a son to inherit the "half acre." This was the burthen of his wishes, for in all their altercations, his closing observation usually was "well, but what's to become of the half acre?"

"What's to become of the half acre? Arrah what do I care for the half acre? It's not that you ought to be thinkin' of, but the dismal poor house we have, wid not the laugh or schreech of a single pastiah ( child) in it from year's end to year's end."

"Well, Sheelah? "

"Well, yourself, Larry? To the diouol I pitch your half acre, man."

"To the diouol you pitch What do you fly at me for?"

"Who's flyin' at you? They'd have little tow on their rock that 'ud fly at you."

"You are flyin' at me; an' only you have a hard face, you wouldn't do it."

"A hard face! Indeed it's well come over wid us, to be tould that by the likes o' you! ha!"

"No matther for that! You had betther keep a soft tongue in your head, an' a civil one, in the mane time. Why did the divil timpt you to take a fancy to me at all?"

"That's it. Throw the grah an' love I once had for you in my teeth, now. It's a manly thing for you to do, an' you may be proud, of it. Dear knows, it would be betther for me I had fell in consate wid any face but yours."

"I wish to goodness you had! I wouldn't be as I am to day... Continue reading book >>

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