Throth, yer ’ann’rs, I’ll tell ye wid pleasure; though, trooth to tell, it’s only poor wurrk telling the same shtory over an’ over agin. But I niver object to tell it to rale gintlemin, like yer ’ann’rs, what don’t forget that a poor man has a mouth on to him as much as Creeshus himself has.
The place was a market town in Kilkenny—or maybe King’s County or Queen’s County. At all evints, it was wan of them counties what Cromwell—bad cess to him!—gev his name to. An’ the house was called after him that was the Lord Liftinint an’ invinted the polis—God forgive him! It was kep’ be a man iv the name iv Misther Mickey Byrne an’ his good lady—at laste it was till wan dark night whin the bhoys mistuk him for another gindeman, an unknown man, what had bought a contagious property—mind ye the impidence iv him. Mickey was comin’ back from the Curragh Races wid his skin that tight wid the full of the whiskey inside of him that he couldn’t open his eyes to see what was goin’ on, or his mouth to set the bhoys right afther he had got the first tap on the head wid wan of the blackthorns what they done such jobs wid. The poor bhoys was that full of sorra for their mishap whin they brung him home to his widdy that the crather hadn’t the hearrt to be too sevare on thim. At the first iv course she was wroth, bein’ only a woman afther all, an’ weemun not bein’ gave to rayson like nun is. Millia murdher! but for a bit she was like a madwoman, and was nigh to have cut the heads from affav thim wid the mate chopper, till, seein’ thim so white and quite, she all at wance flung down the chopper an’ knelt down be the corp.
‘Lave me to me dead,’ she sez. ‘Oh mm! it’s no use more people nor is needful bein’ made unhappy over this night’s terrible wurrk. Mick Byrne would have no man worse for him whin he was living, and he’ll have harm to none for his death! Now go; an’, oh bhoys, be dacent and quite, an’ don’t thry a poor widdied sowl too hard!’
Well, afther that she made no change in things ginerally, but kep’ on the hotel jist the same; an’ whin some iv her friends wanted her to get help, she only sez: ‘Mick an’ me run this house well enough; an’ whin I’m thinkin’ of takun’ help I’ll tell yez. I’ll go on be meself, as I mane to, till Mick an’ me comes together agun.’
An’, sure enough, the ould place wint on jist the same, though, more betoken, there wasn’t Mick wid his shillelagh to kape the pace whin things got pretty hot on fair nights, an’ in the gran’ ould election times, when heads was bruk like eggs—glory be to God!
My! but she was the fine woman, was the Widdy Byrne! A gran’ crathur intirely: a fine upshtandin’ woman, nigh as tall as a modheratesized man, wid a forrm on her that’d warrm yer hearrt to look at, it sthood out that way in the right places. She had shkin like satin, wid a warrm flush in it, like the sun shinun’ on a crock iv yestherday’s crame; an’ her cheeks an’ her neck was that firrm that ye couldn’t take a pinch iv thim—though sorra wan iver dar’d to thry, the worse luck! But her hair! Begor, that was the finishing touch that set all the min crazy. It was jist wan mass iv red, like the heart iv a burnun’ furze-bush whin the smoke goes from aff iv it. Musha! but it’d make the blood come up in yer eyes to see the glint iv that hair wid the light shunun’ on it. There was niver a man, what was a man at all at all, iver kem in be the door that he didn’t want to put his two arrms round the widdy an’ giv’ her a hug immadiate. They was fine min too, some iv thim—and warrm men—big graziers from Kildare, and the like, that counted their cattle be scores, an’ used to come ridin’ in to market on huntin’ horses what they’d refuse hundlireds iv pounds for from officers in the Curragh an’ the quality. Begor, but some iv thim an’ the dhrovers was rare miii in a fight. More nor wance I seen them, forty, maybe half a hundred, strong, clear the market-place at Banagher or Athy. Well do I remimber the way the big, red, hairy wrists iv thim’d go up in the air, an’ down’d come the springy ground-ash saplins what they carried for switches. The whole lot iv thim wanted to come coortun’ the widdy; but sorra wan iv her’d look at thim. She’d flirt an’ be coy an’ taze thim and make thim mad for love iv her, as weemin likes to do. Thank God for the same! for mayhap we min wouldn’t love thim as we do only for their thricky ways; an’ thin what’d become iv the counthry wid nothin’ in it at all except single min an’ ould maids jist dyin’, and growin’ crabbed for want iv chuidher to kiss an’ tache an’ shpank an’ make love to? Shure, yer ’ann’rs, ’tis childher as makes the hearrt iv man green, jist as it is fresh wather that makes the grass grow. Divil a shtep nearer would the widdy iver let mortial man come. ‘No,’ she’d say; ‘whin I see a man fit to fill Mick’s place, I’ll let yez know iv it; thank ye kindly’; an’ wid that she’d shake her head till the beautiful red hair iv it’d be like shparks iv fire—an’ the mm more mad for her nor iver.
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The Man from Shorrox’ at bramstoker.org