Produced by David Widger
FARDOROUGHA, THE MISER.
By William Carleton
Fardorougha, the Miser.
It was on one of those nights in August, when the moon and stars shine
through an atmosphere clear and cloudless, with a mildness of lustre
almost continental, that a horseman, advancing at a rapid pace, turned
off a remote branch of road up a narrow lane, and, dismounting before a
neat whitewashed cottage, gave a quick and impatient knock at the door.
Almost instantly, out of a small window that opened on hinges, was
protruded a broad female face, surrounded, by way of nightcap, with
several folds of flannel, that had originally been white.
"Is Mary Moan at home?" said the horseman.
"For a miricle-ay!" replied the female; "who's _down_, in the name o'
"Why, thin, I'm thinkin' you'll be smilin' whin you hear it," replied
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the messenger. "The sorra one else than Honor Donovan, that's now marrid
upon Fardorougha Donovan to the tune of thirteen years. Bedad, time for
her, anyhow, - but, sure it'll be good whin it comes, we're thinkin'."
"Well, betther late than never - the Lord be praised for all His gifts,
anyhow. Put your horse down to the mountin'-stone, and I'll be wid you
in half a jiffy, acushla."
She immediately drew in her head, and ere the messenger had well placed
his horse at the aforesaid stirrup, or mounting-stone, which is an
indispensable adjunct to the midwife's cottage, she issued out, cloaked
and bonneted; for, in point of fact, her practice was so extensive, and
the demands upon her attendance so incessant, that she seldom, if ever,
slept or went to bed, unless partially dressed. And such was her habit
of vigilance, that she ultimately became an illustration of the old
Roman proverb, _Non dormio omnibus_; that is to say, she could sleep as
sound as a top to every possible noise except a knock at the door, to
which she might be said, during the greater part of her professional
life, to have been instinctively awake.
Having ascended the mounting-stone, and placed herself on the crupper,
the guide and she, while passing down the narrow and difficult lane,
along which they could proceed but slowly and with caution, entered into
the following dialogue, she having first turned up the hood of her cloak
over her bonnet, and tied a spotted cotton kerchief round her neck.
"This," said the guide, who was Fardorougha Donovan's servant-man, "is
a quare enough business, as some o' the nabors do be sayin - marrid upon
one another beyant thirteen year, an' ne'er a sign of a haporth. Why
then begad it is quare."
"Whisht, whisht," replied Molly, with an expression of mysterious
and superior knowledge; "don't be spakin' about what you don't
understand - sure, nuttin's impossible to God, avick - don't you know
"Oh, bedad, sure enough - that we must allow, whether or not, still - "
"Very well; seein' that, what more have we to say, barrin' to hould our
tongues. Children sent late always come either for great good or great
sarra to their parents - an' God grant that this may be for good to the
honest people - for indeed honest people they are, by all accounts. But
what myself wonders at is, that Honor Donovan never once opened her lips
to me about it. However, God's will be done! The Lord send her safe over
all her throubles, poor woman! And, now that we're out o' this thief
of a lane, lay an for the bare life, and never heed me. I'm as good a
horseman as yourself; and, indeed, I've a good right, for I'm an ould
hand at it."
"I'm thinkin'," she added, after a short silence, "it's odd I never was
much acquainted with the Donovans. I'm tould they're a hard pack, that
loves the money."
"Faix," replied her companion, "Let Fardorougha alone for knowin' the
value of a shillin'! - they're not in Europe can hould a harder grip o'
His master, in fact, was a hard, frugal man, and his mistress a woman
of somewhat similar character; both were strictly honest, but, like
many persons to whom God has denied offspring, their hearts had for a
considerable time before been placed upon money as their idol; for, in
truth, the affections must be fixed upon something, and we generally
find that where children are denied, the world comes in and hardens by
its influence the best and tenderest sympathies of humanity.
After a journey of two miles they came out on a hay-track, that skirted
an extensive and level sweep of meadow, along which they proceeded
with as much speed as a pillionless midwife was capable of bearing.
At length, on a gentle declivity facing the south, they espied in the
distance the low, long, whitewashed farm-house of Fardorougha Donovan.
There was little of artificial ornament about the place, but much of the
rough, heart-stirring wildness of nature, as it appeared in a strong,
vigorous district, well cultivated, but without being tamed down by
those finer and more graceful touches, which nowadays mark the skilful
hand of the scientific agriculturist.
To the left waved a beautiful hazel glen, which gradually softened away
into the meadows above mentioned. Up behind the house stood an ancient
plantation of whitethorn, which, during the month of May, diffused its
fragrance, its beauty, and its melody, over the whole farm. The plain
garden was hedged round by the graceful poplar, whilst here and there
were studded over the fields either single trees or small groups of
mountain ash, a tree still more beautiful than the former. The small
dells about the farm were closely covered with blackthorn and holly,
with an occasional oak shooting up from some little cliff, and towering
sturdily over its lowly companions. Here grew a thick interwoven mass of
dog-tree, and upon a wild hedgerow, leaning like a beautiful wife upon
a rugged husband, might be seen, supported by clumps of blackthorn, that
most fragrant and exquisite of creepers, the delicious honeysuckle. Add
to this the neat appearance of the farm itself, with its meadows and
cornfields waving to the soft sunny breeze of summer, and the reader
may admit, that without possessing any striking features of pictorial
effect, it would, nevertheless, be difficult to find an uplying farm
upon which the eye could rest with greater satisfaction.
Ere arriving at the house they were met by Fardorougha himself, a small
man, with dark, but well-set features, which being at no time very
placid, appeared now to be absolutely gloomy, yet marked by strong and
"Thank God!" he exclaimed on meeting them; "is this Mary Moan?"
"It is - it is!" she exclaimed; "how are all within? - am I in time?"
"Only poorly," he returned; "you are, I hope."
The midwife, when they reached the door, got herself dismounted in all
haste, and was about entering the house, when Fardorougha, laying his
hand upon her shoulder, said in a tone of voice full of deep feeling -
"I need say nothing to you; what you can do, you will do - but one thing
I expect - if you see danger, call in assistance."
"It's all in the hands o' God, Fardorougha, acushla; be as aisy in your
mind as you can; if there's need for more help you'll hear it; so keep
the man an' horse both ready."
She then blessed herself and entered the house, repeating a short
prayer, or charm, which was supposed to possess uncommon efficacy in
relieving cases of the nature she was then called upon to attend.
Fardorougha Donovan was a man of great good sense, and of strong, but
not obvious or flexible feeling; this is to say, on strong occasions he
felt accordingly, but exhibited no remarkable symptoms of emotion.
In matters of a less important character, he was either deficient in
sensibility altogether, or it affected him so slightly as not to be
perceptible. What his dispositions and feelings might have been, had
his parental affections and domestic sympathies been cultivated by the
tender intercourse which subsists between a parent and his children,
it is not easy to say. On such occasions many a new and delightful
sensation - many a sweet trait of affection previously unknown - and, oh!
many, many a fresh impulse of rapturous emotion never before felt gushes
out of the heart; all of which, were it not for the existence of ties
so delightful, might have there lain sealed up forever. Where is the man
who does not remember the strange impression of tumultuous delight which
he experienced on finding himself a husband? And who does not recollect
that nameless charm, amounting almost to a new sense, which pervaded his
whole being with tenderness and transport on kissing the rose-bud lips
of his first-born babe? It is, indeed, by the ties of domestic life that
the purity and affection and the general character of the human heart
are best tried. What is there more beautiful than to see that fountain
of tenderness multiplying its affections instead of diminishing them,
according as claim after claim arises to make fresh demands upon its
love? Love, and especially parental love, like jealousy, increases
by what it feeds on. But, oh! from what an unknown world of exquisite
enjoyment are they shut out, to whom Providence has not vouchsafed
those beloved beings on whom the heart lavishes the whole fulness of its
rapture! No wonder that their own affections should wither in the cold
gloom of disappointed hope, or their hearts harden into that moody
spirit of worldly-mindedness which adopts for its offspring the miser's
Whether Fardorougha felt the want of children acutely or otherwise,
could not be inferred from any visible indication of regret on his part
by those who knew him. His own wife, whose facilities of observation
were so great and so frequent, was only able to suspect in the
affirmative. For himself he neither murmured nor repined; but she could
perceive that, after a few years had passed, a slight degree of gloom
began to settle on him, and an anxiety about his crops, and his few
cattle, and the produce of his farm. He also began to calculate the
amount of what might be saved from the fruits of their united industry.
Sometimes, but indeed upon rare occasions, his temper appeared inclining
to be irascible or impatient; but in general it was grave, cold,
and inflexible, without any outbreaks of passion, or the slightest
disposition to mirth. His wife's mind, however, was by no means so firm
as his, nor so free from the traces of that secret regret which preyed
upon it. She both murmured and repined, and often in terms which drew
from Fardorougha a cool rebuke for her want of resignation to the will
of God. As years advanced, however, her disappointment became harassing
even to herself, and now that hope began to die away, her heart
gradually partook of the cool worldly spirit which had seized upon the
disposition of her husband, Though cultivating but a small farm, which
they held at a high rent, yet, by the dint of frugality and incessant
diligence, they were able to add a little each year to the small stock
of money which they had contrived to put together. Still would the
unhappy recollection that they were childless steal painfully and
heavily over them; the wife would sometimes murmur, and the husband
reprove her, but in a tone so cool and indifferent that she could not
avoid concluding that his own want of resignation, though not expressed,
was at heart equal to her own. Each also became somewhat religious,
and both remarkable for a punctual attendance upon the rites of their
church, and that in proportion as the love of temporal things overcame
them. In this manner they lived upwards of thirteen years, when Mrs.
Donovan declared herself to be in that situation which in due time
rendered the services of Mary Moan necessary.
From the moment this intimation was! given, and its truth confirmed, a
faint light, not greater than the dim and trembling lustre of a single
star, broke in upon the darkened affections and worldly spirit
of Fardorougha Donovan. Had the announcement taken place within a
reasonable period after his marriage, before he had become sick of
disappointment, or had surrendered his heart from absolute despair to an
incipient spirit of avarice, it would no doubt have been hailed with all
the eager delight of unblighted hope and vivid affection; but now a
new and subtle habit had been superinduced, after the last cherished
expectation of the heart had departed; a spirit of foresight and severe
calculation descended on him, and had so nearly saturated his whole
being, that he could not for some time actually determine whether the
knowledge of his wife's situation was more agreeable to his affection,
or repugnant to the parsimonious disposition which had quickened his
heart into an energy incompatible with natural benevolence, and the
perception of those tender ties which spring up from the relations of
domestic life. For a considerable time this struggle between the two
principles went on; sometimes a new hope would spring up, attended in
the background by a thousand affecting circumstances - on the other hand,
some gloomy and undefinable dread of exigency, distress, and ruin,
would wring his heart and sink his spirits down to positive misery.
Notwithstanding this conflict between growing avarice and affection,
the star of the father's love had risen, and though, as we have already
said, its light was dim and unsteady, yet the moment a single opening
occurred in the clouded mind, there it was to be seen serene and pure,
a beautiful emblem of undying and solitary affection struggling with
the cares and angry passions of life. By degrees, however, the
husband's heart became touched by the hopes of his younger years,
former associations revived, and remembrances of past tenderness, though
blunted in a heart so much changed, came over him like the breath
of fragrance that has nearly passed away. He began, therefore, to
contemplate the event without foreboding, and by the time the looked-for
period arrived, if the world and its debasing influences were not
utterly overcome, yet nature and the quickening tenderness of a father's
feeling had made a considerable progress in a heart from which they had
been long banished. Far different from all this was the history of
his wife since her perception of an event so delightful. In her was no
bitter and obstinate principle subversive of affection to be overcome.
For although she had in latter years sank into the painful apathy of a
hopeless spirit, and given herself somewhat to the world, yet no sooner
did the unexpected light dawn upon her, than her whole soul was filled
with exultation and delight. The world and its influence passed away
like a dream, and her heart melted into a habit of tenderness at once
so novel and exquisite, that she often assured her husband she had never
felt happiness before.
Such are the respective states of feeling in which our readers find
Fardorougha Donovan and his wife, upon an occasion whose consequences
run too far into futurity for us to determine at present whether they
are to end in happiness or misery. For a considerable time that evening,
before the arrival of Mary Moan, the males of the family had taken up
their residence in an inside kiln, where, after having kindled a fire
in the draught-hole, or what the Scotch call the "logie," they sat and
chatted in that kind of festive spirit which such an event uniformly
produces among the servants of a family. Fardorougha himself remained
for the most part with them, that is to say except while ascertaining
from time to time the situation of his wife. His presence, however, was
only a restraint upon their good-humor, and his niggardly habits raised
some rather uncomplimentary epithets during his short visits of inquiry.
It is customary upon such occasions, as soon as the mistress of the
family is taken ill, to ask the servants to drink "an aisy bout to the
misthress, sir, an' a speedy recovery, not forgettin' a safe landin' to
the youngsther, and, like a Christmas compliment, many of them to
you both. Whoo! death alive, but that's fine stuff. Oh, begorra, the
misthress can't but thrive wid that in the house. Thank you, sir, an'
wishin' her once more safe over her troubles! - divil a betther misthress
ever," etc., etc., etc.
Here, however, there was nothing of the kind. Fardorougha's heart, in
the first instance, was against the expense, and besides, its present
broodings resembled the throes of pain which break out from the stupor
that presses so heavily upon the exhausted functions of life in the
crisis of a severe fever. He could not, in fact, rest nor remain for any
length of time in the same spot. With a slow but troubled step he walked
backward and forward, sometimes uttering indistinct ejaculations
and broken sentences, such as no one could understand. At length he
approached his own servants, and addressed the messenger whose name was
"Nogher," said he, "I'm throubled."
"Throubled! dad, Fardorougha, you ought to be a happy and a thankful man
this night, that is, if God sinds the misthress safe over it, as I hope
He will, plase goodness."
"I'm poor, Nogher, I'm poor, an' here's a family comin'."
"Faith, take care it's not sin you're com-mittin' by spakin' as you're
"But you know I'm poor, Nogher."
"But I know you're _not_, Fardorougha; but I'm afraid, if God hasn't
said it, your heart's too much fix'd upon the world. Be my faix, it's
on your knees you ought to be this same night, thankin' the Almighty for
His goodness, and not grumblin' an' sthreelin' about the place, flyin'
in the face of God for sendin' you an' your wife ablessin' - for sure I
hear the Scripthur says that all childhres a blessin' if they're
resaved as sich; an' wo be to the man, says Scripthur, dat's born wid a
millstone about his neck, especially if he's cast into the say. I know
you pray enough, but, be my sowl, it hasn't improved your morals, or
it's the misthress' health we'd be drinkin' in a good bottle o' whiskey
at the present time. Faix, myself wouldn't be much surprised if she had
a hard twist in consequence, an' if she does, the fault's your own an'
not ours, for we're willin' as the flowers o' May to drink all sorts o'
good luck to her."
"Nogher," said the other, "it's truth a great dale of what you've
sed - maybe all of it."
"Faith, I know," returned Nogher, "that about the whiskey it's parfit
"In one thing I'll be advised by you, an' that is, I'll go to my
knees and pray to God to set my heart right if it's wrong. I feel
strange - strange, Nogher - happy, an' not happy."
"You needn't go to your knees at all," replied Nogher, "if you give us
the whiskey; or if you do pray, be in earnest, that your heart may be
inclined to do it."
"You desarve none for them words," said Fardorougha, who felt that
Nogher's buffoonery jarred upon the better feelings that were rising
within him - "you desarve none, an' you'll get none - for the present at
laste, an' I'm only a fool for spaking to you."
He then retired to the upper part of the kiln, where, in a dark corner,
he knelt with a troubled heart, and prayed to God.
We doubt not but such readers as possess feeling will perceive that
Fardorougha was not only an object at this particular period of
much interest, but also entitled to sincere sympathy. Few men in his
circumstances could or probably would so earnestly struggle with a
predominant passion as he did, though without education, or such a
knowledge of the world as might enable him, by any observation of the
human heart in others, to understand the workings in his own. He had
not been ten minutes at prayer when the voice of his female servant was
heard in loud and exulting tones, calling out, ere she approached the
kiln itself -
"Fardorougha, ca woul thu? - Where's my footin', masther? Where's
my arles? - Come in - come in, you're a waitin' to kiss your son - the
misthress is dyin' till you kiss our son."
The last words were uttered as she entered the kiln.
"Dyin'!" he repeated - "the misthress dyin' - oh Susy, let a thousand
childre go before her - dyin'! did you say dyin'?"
"Ay did I, an' it's truth too; but it's wid joy she's dyin' to see
you kiss one of the purtiest young boys in all the barony of
Lisnamona - myself's over head and ears in love wid him already."
He gave a rapid glance upwards, so much so that it was scarcely
perceptible, and immediately accompanied her into the house. The child,
in the meantime, had been dressed, and lay on its mother's arm in the
bed when its father entered. He approached the bedside and glanced at
it - then at the mother who lay smiling beside it - she extended her hand
to him, whilst the soft, sweet tears of delight ran quietly down her
cheeks. When he seized her hand he stooped to kiss her, but she put up
her other hand and said -
"No, no, you must kiss him first."
[Illustration: PAGE 191 - Imprinted the father's first kiss]
He instantly stooped over the babe, took it in his arms, looked long
and earnestly upon it, put it up near him, again gave it a long, intense
gaze, after which he raised its little mouth to his own, and then
imprinted the father's first kiss upon the fragrant lips of his beloved
first-born. Having gently deposited the precious babe upon its mother's
arm, he caught her hand and imprinted upon her lips a kiss; - but to
those who understand it, we need not describe it - to those who cannot,
we could give no adequate notion of that which we are able in no other
way to describe than by saying that it would seem as if the condensed
enjoyment of a whole life were concentrated into that embrace of the
child and mother.
When this tender scene was over, the midwife commenced -
"Well, if ever a man had raison to be thank - "
"Silence, woman!" he exclaimed in a voice which hushed her almost into
"Let him alone," said the wife, addressing her, "let him alone, I know
what he feels."
"No," he replied, "even you, Honora, don't know it - my heart, my heart
went astray, and there, undher God and my Saviour, is the being that
will be the salvation of his father."
His wife understood him and was touched; the tears fell fast from her
eyes, and, extending her hand to him, she said, as he clasped it:
"Sure, Fardorougha, the world won't be as much in your heart now, nor
your temper so dark as it was."
He made no reply; but, placing his other hand over his eyes, he sat
in that posture for some minutes. On raising his head the tears were
running as if involuntarily down his cheeks.
"Honora," said he, "I'll go out for a little - you can tell Mary Moan
where anything's to be had - let them all be trated so as that they don't
take too much - and, Mary Moan, you won't be forgotten."
He then passed out, and did not appear for upwards of an hour, nor could
any one of them tell where he had been.
"Well," said Honora, after he had left the room, "we're now married near
fourteen years; and until this night I never see him shed a tear."
"But sure, acushla, if anything can touch a father's heart, the sight
of his first child will. Now keep yourself aisy, avourneen, and tell
me where the whiskey an' anything else that may be a wantin' is, till I
give these crathurs of sarvints a dhrop of something to comfort thim."
At this time, however, Mrs. Donovan's mother and two sisters, who had
some hours previously been sent for, just arrived, a circumstance which
once more touched the newly awakened chord of the mother's heart, and
gave her that confidence which the presence of "one's own blood," as
the people expressed it, always communicates upon such occasions. After
having kissed and admired the babe, and bedewed its face with the warm
tears of affection, they piously knelt down, as is the custom among most
Irish families, and offered up a short but fervent prayer of gratitude
as well for an event so happy, as for her safe delivery, and the future
welfare of the mother and child. When this was performed, they set
themselves to the distribution of the blithe meat or groaning malt,
a duty which the midwife transferred to them with much pleasure, this
being a matter which, except in matters of necessity, she considered
beneath the dignity of her profession. The servants were accordingly
summoned in due time, and, headed by Nogher, soon made their appearance.
In events of this nature, servants in Ireland, and we believe everywhere
else, are always allowed a considerable stretch of good-humored license
in those observations which they are in the habit of making. Indeed,