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entered the stable and came forth with the articles required by Andy, and a halter for the horse also.
“Now, take care,” said Owny, “ that you ’re able to ride that horse if you get on him.”—“Oh, never fear, sir. I can ride owld Lanty Gubbins's mule betther nor any o' the other boys on the common, and he couldn't throw me th' other day, though he kicked the shoes av him.”
“ After that you may ride any thing,” said Owny: and indeed it was true ; for Lanty's mule, which fed on the common, being ridden slily by all the young vagabonds in the neighbourhood, had become such an adept in the art of getting rid of his troublesome customers, that it might be well considered a feat to stick on him.
“ Now, take grate care of him, Andy, my boy,” said the farmer." Don't be afeard, sir,” said Andy, who started on his errand in that peculiar pace which is elegantly called a “sweep's trot;" and as the river lay between Owny Doyle's and the bottom, and was too deep for Andy to ford at that season, he went round by Dinny Dowling's mill, where a small wooden bridge crossed the stream.
Here he thought he might as well secure the assistance of Paudeen, the miller's son, to help him in catching the horse ; so he looked about the place until he found him, and, telling him the errand on which he was going, said, “ If you like to come wid me, we can both have a ride.” This was temptation sufficient for Paudeen, and the boys proceeded together to the bottom, and they were not long in securing the horse. When they had got the halter over his head, "Now,” said Andy,
give me a lift on him ;” and accordingly, by Paudeen's catching Andy's left foot in both his hands clasped together in the fashion of a stirrup, he hoisted his friend on the horse's back; and, as soon as he was secure there, Master Paudeen, by the aid of Andy's hand, contrived to scramble up after him; upon which Andy applied his heels into the horse's side with many vigorous kicks, and crying “Hurrup !" at the same time, endeavoured to stimulate Owny's steed into something of a pace as he turned his head towards the mill.
“ Sure aren't you going to crass the river ?” said Paudeen.“No, I'm going to lave you at home.”
“Oh, I'd rather go up to Owny's, and it's the shortest way acrass the river.”_" Yes, but I don't like—”
“Is it afeard you are ?” said Paudeen.—“Not I, indeed,” said Andy; though it was really the fact, for the width of the stream startled him ; “but Owny towld me to take grate care o'the baste, and I'm loath to wet his feet.”
“Go ’long wid you, you fool ! what harm would it do him? Sure he's neither sugar nor salt that he'd melt."
“Well, I won't, any how,” said Andy, who by this time had got the horse into a good high trot, that shook every word of
argument out of Paudeen's body ; besides, it was as much as the boys could do to keep their seats on Owny's Bucephalus, who was not long in reaching the miller's bridge. Here voice and rein were employed to pull him in, that he might cross the narrow wooden structure at a quiet pace. But whether his double load had given him the idea of double exertion, or that the pair of legs on each side sticking into his flanks (and perhaps the horse was ticklish) made him go the faster, we know not ; but the horse charged the bridge as if an Enniskilliner were on his back, and an enemy before him; and in two minutes his hoofs clattered like thunder on the bridge, that did not bend beneath him. No, it did not bend, but it broke; proving the falsehood of the boast, “I may break, but I won't bend;" for, after all, the really strong may bend, and be as strong as ever : it is the unsound, that has only the seeming of strength, that breaks at last when it resists too long.
Surprising was the spin the young equestrians took over the ears of the horse, enough to make all the artists of Astley's envious; and plump they went into the river, where each formed his own ring, and executed some comical “scenes in the circle," which were suddenly changed to evolutions on the “flying cord" that Dinny Dowling threw the performers, which became suddenly converted into a “tight rope ” as he dragged the voltigeurs out of the water; and, for fear their blood might be chilled by the accident, he gave them both an enormous thrashing with the dry end of the rope, just to restore circulation; and his exertions, had they been witnessed, would have charmed the Humane Society.
As for the horse, his legs stuck through the bridge, as though he had been put in a chiroplast, and he went playing away on the water with considerable execution, as if he were accompanying himself in the song which he was squealing at the top of his voice. Half the saws, hatchets, ropes, and poles in the parish were put in requisition immediately ; and the horse's first lesson in chiroplastic exercise was performed with no other loss than some skin and a good deal of hair. Of course Andy did not venture on taking Owny's horse home ; so the miller sent him to his owner with an account of the accident. Andy for years kept out of Owny na Coppal's way; and at any time that his presence was troublesome, the inconvenienced party had only to say, “ Isn't that Owny na Coppal coming this way?" and Andy fled for his life.
When Andy grew up to be what in country parlance is called a brave lump of a boy,” his mother thought he was old enough to do something for himself; so she took him one day along with her to the squire's, and waited outside the door, loitering up and down the yard behind the house, among a crowd of beggars and great lazy dogs that were thrusting their heads into every iron pot that stood outside the kitchen door, until chance might
give her “ a sight o' the squire afore he wint out or afore he wint in ;” and, after spending her entire day in this idle way, at last the squire made his appearance, and Judy presented her son, who kept scraping his foot, and pulling his forelock, that stuck out like a piece of ragged thatch from his forehead, making his obeisance to the squire, while his mother was sounding his praises for being the “handiest craythur alive—and so willin'--nothing comes wrong to him.”
“I suppose the English of all this is, you want me to take him ?” said the squire.“ Throth, an' your honour, that's just it-if your honour would be plazed.”
“What can he do ?”—“Anything, your honour.”
“ That means nothing. I suppose,” said the squire. Oh, no, sir. Everything, Î mane, that you vould desire him to do.”
To every one of these assurances on his mother's part Andy made a bow and a scrape.
“ Can he take care of horses ?”—“The best of care, sir,” said the mother, while the miller, who was standing behind the squire waiting for orders, made a grimace at Andy, who was obliged to cram his face into his hat to hide the laugh, which he could bardly smother from being heard, as well as seen.
“Let him come, then, and help in the stables, and we'll see what he can do.”—“May the Lord—”
“ That 'll do—there, now go.”—“Oh, sure, but I'll pray for you, and—”
“Will you go?”—“And may angels make your honour's bed this blessed night, I pray!" “If you don't
go, your son shan't come.” Judy and her hopeful boy turned to the right-about in double-quick time, and hurried down the avenue.
The next day Andy was duly installed into his office of stable-helper ; and, as he was a good rider, he was soon made whipper-in to the hounds, as there was a want of such a functionary in the establishment; and Andy's boldness in this capacity made him soon a favourite with the squire, who was one of those rollicking boys on the pattern of the old school, who scorned the attentions of a regular valet, and let any one that chance threw in his way bring him his boots, or his hot water for shaving, or his coat, whenever it was brushed. One morning, Andy, who was very often the attendant on such occasions, came to his room with hot water. He tapped at the door.
“ Who's that ?" said the squire, who was but just risen, and did not know but it might be one of the women servants.
“Oh-Andy! Come in.”—“Here's the hot wather, sir," said Andy, bearing an enormous tin can.
“Why, what the d-1 brings that tin can here? You might