Although the lower orders of the
Irish are famous for a species of ready wit, mingling volatility and a rich
vein of humour, they are no less marked by a quaintness of expression and a
mental reservation, calculated to gain time and evade inquiry, or having that
brought home which they wish to avoid: of this last complexion are Shelah's
answers to a Country Magistrate:
— What's gone of your husband,
— "What's gone of him, your
honour's worship; faith, and he's gone dead."
— Aye, pray what did he die of?
— "Die of, your honour; he died
of a Tuesday."
— I don't mean what day of the week,
but what complaint."
— "Oh! complaint, your honour;
faith, and its himself did not get time to complain."
— Oh! ho, aye, he died suddenly.
— "Rather that way, your
— Did he fall down in a fit?
answer from Shelah
— He fell down in a fit, perhaps?
— "A fit, your honour’s worship;
why, no, not exactly that — he — he fell out of the window, or a door, I don’t
know what they call it."
— Aye, aye, and he broke his neck.
— "No; not quite that, your
— What then?
— "There was a bit of string, or
cord, or that like, and — it throttled poor Mick."
— And pray for what did he suffer?
— "Suffer, your worship,
(weeping), faith, only for embellishing (embezzling) a trifle that he
was his own; but his master said
, and so they swore away
his precious life, and that’s all; Mick’s as innocent as the babe unborn."