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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

The Courting of Dinah Shadd

From “Life’s Handicap”

“DID I ever tell you how Dinah Shadd came to be wife av mine?”

I dissembled a burning anxiety that I had felt for some months—ever since Dinah Shadd, the strong, the patient, and the infinitely tender, had, of her own good love and free-will, washed a shirt for me, moving in a barren land where washing was not.

“I can’t remember,” I said casually. “Was it before or after you made love to Annie Bragin, and got no satisfaction?”

The story of Annie Bragin is written in another place. It is one of the many episodes in Mulvaney’s checkered career.

“Before—before—long before was that business av Annie Bragin an’ the corp’ril’s ghost. Never woman was the worse for me whin I had married Dinah. There’s a time for all things, an’ I know how to kape all things in place—barrin’ the dhrink, that kapes me in my place, wid no hope av comin’ to be aught else.”

“Begin at the beginning,” I insisted. “Mrs. Mulvaney told me that you married her when you were quartered in Krab Bokhar barracks.”

“An’ the same is a cess-pit,” said Mulvaney piously. “She spoke thrue, did Dinah. ’Twas this way. Talkin’ av that, have ye iver fallen in love, sorr?”

I preserved the silence of the damned. Mulvaney continued:

“Thin I will assume that ye have not. I did. In the days av my youth, as I have more than wanst towld you, I was a man that filled the eye an’ delighted the sowl av women. Niver man was hated as I have been. Niver man was loved as I—no, not within half a day’s march av ut. For the first five years av my service, whin I was what I wud give my sowl to be now, I tuk whatever was widin my reach an’ digested ut, an’ that’s more than most men can say. Dhrink I tuk, an’ ut did me no harm. By the hollow av hiven, I could play wid four women at wanst, an’ kape thim from findin’ out anything about the other three, and smile like a full-blown marigold through ut all. Dick Coulhan, of the battery we’ll have down on us to-night, could dhrive his team no better than I mine; an’ I hild the worser cattle. An’ so I lived an’ so I was happy, till afther that business wid Annie Bragin—she that turned me off as cool as a meat-safe, an’ taught me where I stud in the mind av an honest woman. ’Twas no sweet dose to take.

“Afther that I sickened awhile, an’ tuk thought to my reg’mental work, conceiting mesilf I wud study an’ be a sarjint, an’ a major-gineral twinty minutes afther that. But on top o’ my ambitiousness there was an empty place in my sowl, an’ me own opinion av mesilf cud not fill ut. Sez I to mesilf: ‘Terence, you’re a great man an’ the best set up in the reg’ment. Go on an’ get promotion.’ Sez mesilf to me, ‘What for?’ Sez I to mesilf, ‘For the glory av ut.’ Sez mesilf to me, ‘Will that fill these two strong arrums av yours, Terence?’ ‘Go to the devil,’ sez I to mesilf. ‘Go to the married lines,’ sez mesilf to me. ‘’Tis the same thing,’ sez I to mesilf. ‘Av you’re the same man, ut is,’ sez mesilf to me. An’ wid that I considhered on ut a long while. Did you iver feel that way, sorr?”

I snored gently, knowing that if Mulvaney were uninterrupted he would go on. The clamour from the bivouac fires beat up to the stars as the rival singers of the companies were pitted against each other.

“So I felt that way, an’ a bad time ut was. Wanst, bein’ a fool, I went into the married lines, more for the sake av spakin’ to our owld colour-sarjint Shadd than for any thruck wid wimmenfolk. I was a corp’ril then—rejuced aftherward; but a corp’ril then. I’ve got a photograft av mesilf to prove ut. ‘You’ll take a cup av tay wid us?’ sez he. ‘I will that,’ I sez; ‘tho’ tay is not my divarsion.’ ‘’Twud be better for you if ut were,’ sez owld Mother Shadd. An’ she had ought to know, for Shadd, in the ind av his service, dhrank bung-full each night.

“Wid that I tuk off my gloves—there was pipe-clay in thim so that they stud alone—an’ pulled up my chair, lookin’ round at the china ornamints an’ bits av things in the Shadds’ quarters. They were things that belong to a woman, an’ no camp kit, here to-day an’ dishipated next. ‘You’re comfortable in this place, sarjint,’ sez I. ‘’Tis the wife that did ut, boy,’ sez he, pointin’ the stem av his pipe to owld Mother Shadd, an’ she smacked the top av his bald head apon the compliment. ‘That manes you want money,’ sez she.

“An’ thin—an’ thin whin the kettle was to be filled, Dinah came in—my Dinah—her sleeves rowled up to the elbow, an’ her hair in a gowlden glory over her forehead, the big blue eyes beneath twinklin’ like stars on a frosty night, an’ the tread of her two feet lighter than waste-paper from the colonel’s basket in ord’ly room when ut’s emptied. Bein’ but a shlip av a girl, she went pink at seein’ me, an’ I twisted me moustache an’ looked at a picture forninst the wall. Never show a woman that ye care the snap av a finger for her, an’ begad she’ll come bleatin’ to your boot-heels.”

“I suppose that’s why you followed Annie Bragin till everybody in the married quarters laughed at you,” said I, remembering that unhallowed wooing, and casting off the disguise of drowsiness.

“I’m layin’ down the gin’ral theory of the attack,” said Mulvaney, driving his foot into the dying fire. “If you read the ‘Soldier’s Pocket-Book,’ which never any soldier reads, you’ll see that there are exceptions. When Dinah was out av the door (an’ ’twas as tho’ the sunlight had gone too), ‘Mother av Hiven, sarjint!’ sez I, ‘but is that your daughter?’ ‘I’ve believed that way these eighteen years,’ sez owld Shadd, his eyes twinklin’. ‘But Mrs. Shadd has her own opinion, like ivry other woman.’ ‘’Tis wid yours this time, for a mericle,’ sez Mother Shadd. ‘Then why, in the name av fortune, did I never see her before?’ sez I. ‘Bekase you’ve been thraipsin’ round wid the married women these three years past. She was a bit av a child till last year, an’ she shot up wid the spring,’ sez owld Mother Shadd. ‘I’ll thraipse no more,’ sez I. ‘D’you mane that?’ sez ould Mother Shadd, lookin’ at me sideways, like a hen looks at a hawk whin the chickens are runnin’ free. ‘Thry me, an’ tell,’ sez I. Wid that I pulled on my gloves, dhrank off the tea, an’ wint out av the house as stiff as at gen’ral p’rade, for well I knew that Dinah Shadd’s eyes were in the small av my back out av the scullery-window. Faith, that was the only time I mourned I was not a cav’lryman, for the sake av the spurs to jingle.

“I wint out to think, an’ I did a powerful lot av thinkin’, but ut all came round to that shlip av a girl in the dotted blue dhress, wid the blue eyes an’ the sparkil in them. Thin I kept off canteen, an’ I kept to the married quarthers or near by on the chanst av meetin’ Dinah. Did I meet her! Oh, my time past, did I not, wid a lump in my throat as big as my valise, an’ my heart goin’ like a farrier’s forge on a Saturday mornin’! ’Twas ‘Good-day to ye, Miss Dinah,’ an’ ‘Good-day t’you, corp’ril,’ for a week or two, an’ divil a bit further could I get, bekase av the respict I had to that girl that I cud ha’ broken betune finger an’ thumb.”

Here I giggled as I recalled the gigantic figure of Dinah Shadd when she handed me my shirt.

“Ye may laugh,” grunted Mulvaney. “But I’m speakin’ the trut’, an’ ’tis you that are in fault. Dinah was a girl that wud ha’ taken the imperiousness out av the Duchess av Clonmel in those days. Flower hand, foot av shod air, an’ the eyes av the mornin’ she had. That is my wife to-day—owld Dinah, an’ never aught else than Dinah Shadd to me.

“’Twas after three weeks standin’ off an’ on, an’ niver makin’ headway excipt through the eyes, that a little drummer-boy grinned in me face whin I had admonished him wid the buckle av my belt for riotin’ all over the place. ‘An’ I’m not the only wan that doesn’t kape to barricks,’ sez he. I tuk him by the scruff av his neck—my heart was hung on a hair-thrigger those days, you will understand—an’, ‘Out wid ut,’ sez I, ‘or I’ll lave no bone av you unbruk.’ ‘Speak to Dempsey,’ sez he, howlin’. ‘Dempsey which,’ sez I, ‘ye unwashed limb av Satan?’ ‘Of the Bobtailed Dhragoons,’ sez he. ‘He’s seen her home from her aunt’s house in the civil lines four times this fortnight.’ ‘Child,’ sez I, dhroppin’ him, ‘your tongue’s stronger than your body. Go to your quarthers. I’m sorry I dhressed you down.’

“At that I went four ways to wanst huntin’ Dempsey. I was mad to think that wid all my airs among women I shud ha’ been ch’ated by a basin-faced fool av a cav’lryman not fit to trust on a mule thrunk. Presintly I found him in our lines—the Bobtails was quarthered next us—an’ a tallowy, top-heavy son av a she-mule he was, wid his big brass spurs an’ his plastrons on his epigastons an’ all. But he niver flinched a hair.

“‘A word wid you, Dempsey,’ sez I. ‘You’ve walked wid Dinah Shadd four times this fortnight gone.’

“‘What’s that to you?’ sez he. ‘I’ll walk forty times more, an’ forty on top av that, ’e shovel-futted clod-breakin’ infantry lance-corp’ril.’

“Before I could gyard he had his gloved fist home on me cheek, an’ down I went full sprawl. ‘Will that content you?’ sez he, blowin’ on his knuckles for all the world like a Scots Grays orf’cer. ‘Content?’ sez I. ‘For your own sake, man, take off your spurs, peel your jackut, and onglove. ’Tis the beginnin’ av the overture. Stand up!’

“He stud all he knew, but he niver peeled his jackut, an’ his shoulders had no fair play. I was fightin’ for Dinah Shadd an’ that cut on me cheek. What hope had he forninst me?’ Stand up!’ sez I, time an’ again, when he was beginnin’ to quarther the ground an’ gyard high an’ go large. ‘This isn’t riding-school,’ sez I. ‘Oh, man, stand up, an’ let me get at ye!’ But whin I saw he wud be runnin’ about, I grup his shtock in me left an’ his waist-belt in me right an’ swung him clear to me right front, head undher, he hammerin’ me nose till the wind was knocked out av him on the bare ground. ‘Stand up,’ sez I, ‘or I’ll kick your head into your chest.’ An’ I wud ha’ done ut, too, so ragin’ mad I was.

“‘Me collar-bone’s bruk,’ sez he. ‘Help me back to lines. I’ll walk wid her no more.’ So I helped him back.”

“And was his collar-bone broken?” I asked, for I fancied that only Learoyd could neatly accomplish that terrible blow.

“He pitched on his left shoulder-point. Ut was. Next day the news was in both barricks; an’ whin I met Dinah Shadd wid a cheek like all the reg’mintal tailors’ samples, there was no ‘Good-mornin’, corp’ril,’ or aught else. ‘An’ what have I done, Miss Shadd,” says I, very bowld, plantin’ mesilf forninst her, ‘that ye should not pass the time of day?’

“‘Ye’ve half-killed rough-rider Dempsey,’ sez she, her dear blue eyes filling up.

“‘Maybe,’ sez I. ‘Was he a friend av yours that saw ye home four times in a fortnight?’

“‘Yes,’ sez she, very bowld; but her mouth was down at the corners. ‘An’—an’ what’s that to you?’

“‘Ask Dempsey,’ sez I, purtendin’ to go away.

“‘Did you fight for me, then, ye silly man?’ she sez, tho’ she knew ut all along.

“‘Who else?’ sez I; an’ I tuk wan pace to the front.

“‘I wasn’t worth ut,’ sez she, fingerin’ her apron.

“‘That’s for me to say,’ sez I. ‘Shall I say ut?’

“‘Yes,’ sez she, in a saint’s whisper; an’ at that I explained mesilf; an’ she towld me that iv’ry man that is a man, an’ many that is a woman, hears wanst in his life.

“‘But what made ye cry at startin’, Dinah darlin’?’ sez I.

“‘Your—your bloody cheek,’ says she, duckin’ her little head down on my sash (I was duty for the day), an’ whimperin’ like a sorrowful angel.

“Now a man cud take that two ways. I tuk ut as pleased me best, an’ my first kiss wid ut. Mother av Innocence! but I kissed her on the tip av the nose an’ undher the eye, an’ a girl that lets a kiss come tumble-ways like that has never been kissed before. Take note av that, sorr. Thin we wint, hand in hand, to owld Mother Shadd like two little childher, an’ she said it was no bad thing; an’ owld Shadd nodded behind his pipe, an’ Dinah ran away to her own room. That day I throd on rollin’ clouds. All earth was too small to howld me. Begad, I cud ha’ picked the sun out av the sky for a live coal to me pipe, so magnificent I was. But I tuk recruities at squad drill, an’ began with general battalion advance whin I should ha’ been balance-steppin’ ’em. Eyah! that day! that day!”

A very long pause. “Well?” said I.

“It was all wrong,” said Mulvaney, with an enormous sigh. “An’ sure I know that iv’ry bit uv ut was me own foolishness. That night I tuk maybe the half of three pints—not enough to turn the hair of a man in his natural sinses. But I was more than half-dhrunk wid pure joy, an’ that canteen beer was so much whisky to me. I can’t tell how ut came about, but bekase I had no thought for any wan except Dinah, bekase I hadn’t slipped her little white arms from me neck five minutes, bekase the breath av her kiss was not gone from my mouth, I must go through the married lines on me way to quarthers, an’ I must stay talkin’ to a red-headed Mullengar heifer av a girl, Judy Sheehy, that was daughter to Mother Sheehy, the wife av Nick Sheehy, the canteen-sarjint—the black curse av Shielygh be on the whole brood that are above groun’ this day!

“‘An’ what are ye howldin’ your head that high for, corp’ril?’ sez Judy. ‘Come in an’ thry a cup av tay,’ she sez, standin’ in the door-way.

“Bein’ an onbustable fool, an’ thinkin’ av anythin’ but tay, I wint.

“‘Mother’s at canteen,’ sez Judy, smoothin’ the hair av hers that was like red snakes, an’ lookin’ at me corner-ways out av her green cat’s eyes. ‘Ye will not mind, corp’ril?’

“‘I can endure,’ sez I. ‘Owld Mother Sheehy bein’ no divarsion av mine, nor her daughter too.’ Judy fetched the tea-things an’ put thim on the table, leanin’ over me very close to get them square. I dhrew back, thinkin’ of Dinah.

“‘Is ut afraid you are av a girl alone?’ sez Judy.

“‘No,’ sez I. ‘Why should I be?’

“‘That rests wid the girl,’ sez Judy, dhrawin’ her chair next to mine.

“‘Thin there let ut rest,’ sez I; an’ thinkin’ I’d been a trifle onpolite, I sez, ‘The tay’s not quite sweet enough for me taste. Put your little finger in the cup, Judy; ’twill make ut necthar.’

“‘What’s necthar?’ sez she.

“‘Somethin’ very sweet,’ sez I; an’ for the sinful life av me I cud not help lookin’ at her out av the corner av my eye, as I was used to look at a woman.

“‘Go on wid ye, corp’ril,’ sez she. ‘You’re a flirt.’

“‘On me sowl I’m not,’ sez I.

“‘Then you’re a cruel, handsome man, an’ that’s worse,’ sez she, heavin’ big sighs an’ looking crossways.

“‘You know your own mind,’ sez I.

“‘’Twud be better for me if I did not,’ she sez.

“‘There’s a dale to be said on both sides av that,’ sez I, unthinkin’.

“‘Say your own part av ut, then, Terence darlin’,’ sez she; ‘for begad I’m thinkin’ I’ve said too much or too little for an honest girl;’ an’ wid that she put her arms round me neck an’ kissed me.

“‘There’s no more to be said afther that,’ sez I, kissin’ her back again. Oh, the mane scutt that I was, my head ringin’ wid Dinah Shadd! How does ut come about, sorr, that whin a man has put the comether on wan woman he’s sure bound to put ut on another? ’Tis the same thing at musketry. Wan day iv’ry shot goes wide or into the bank, an’ the next—lay high, lay low, sight or snap—ye can’t get off the bull’s-eye for ten shots runnin’.”

“That only happens to a man who has had a good deal of experience; he does it without thinking,” I replied.

“Thankin’ you for the complimint, sorr, ut may be so; but I’m doubtin’ whether you mint ut for a complimint. Hear, now. I sat there wid Judy on my knee, tellin’ me all manner av nonsinse, an’ only sayin’ ‘yes’ an’ ‘no,’ when I’d much better ha’ kept tongue betune teeth. An’ that was not an hour afther I had left Dinah. What I was thinkin’ av I cannot say.

“Prisently, quiet as a cat, owld Mother Sheehy came in velvet-dhrunk. She had her daughter’s red hair, but ’twas bald in patches, an’ I cud see in her wicked owld face, clear as lightnin’, what Judy wud be twenty year to come. I was for jumpin’ up, but Judy niver moved.

“‘Terence has promust, mother,’ sez she, an’ the cowld sweat bruk out all over me.

“Owld Mother Sheehy sat down of a heap, an’ began playin’ wid the cups. ‘Thin you’re a well-matched pair,’ she sez, very thick; ‘for he’s the biggest rogue that iver spoiled the queen’s shoe-leather, an——’

“‘I’m off, Judy,’ sez I. ‘Ye should not talk nonsinse to your mother. Get her to bed, girl.’

“‘Nonsinse?’ sez the owld woman, prickin’ up her ears like a cat, an’ grippin’ the table-edge. ‘’Twill be the most nonsinsical nonsinse for you, ye grinnin’ badger, if nonsinse ’tis. Git clear, you. I’m goin’ to bed.’

“I ran out into the dhark, me head in a stew an’ me heart sick, but I had sinse enough to see that I’d brought ut all on mesilf. ‘It’s this to pass the time av day to a panjandhrum of hell-cats,’ sez I. ‘What I’ve said an’ what I’ve not said do not matther. Judy an’ her dam will howld me for a promust man, an’ Dinah will give me the go, an’ I desarve ut. I will go an’ get dhrunk,’ sez I, ‘an’ forgit about ut, for ’tis plain I’m not a marryin’ man.’

“On me way to canteen I ran against Lascelles, colour-sarjint that was, av E Comp’ny—a hard, hard man, wid a tormint av a wife. ‘You’ve the head of a drowned man on your shoulders,’ sez he, ‘an’ you’re goin’ where you’ll get a worse wan. Come back,’ sez he. ‘Let me go,’ sez I. ‘I’ve thrown me luck over the wall wid me own hand.’ ‘Then that’s not the way to get ut back again,’ sez he. ‘Have out wid your throuble, ye fool-bhoy.’ An’ I towld him how the matther was.

“He sucked in his lower lip. ‘You’ve been thrapped,’ sez he. ‘Ju Sheehy wud be the betther for a man’s name to hers as soon as she can. An’ ye thought ye’d put the comether on her. That’s the naturil vanity av the baste. Terence, you’re a big born fool, but you’re not bad enough to marry into that comp’ny. If you said anythin’, an’ for all your protestations I’m sure you did—or did not, which is worse—eat ut all. Lie like the father av all lies, but come out av ut free of Judy. Do I not know what ut is to marry a woman that was the very spit av Judy when she was young? I’m gettin’ owld, an’ I’ve larnt patience; but you, Terence, you’d raise hand on Judy an’ kill her in a year. Never mind if Dinah gives you the go; you’ve desarved ut. Never mind if the whole reg’mint laughs at you all day. Get shut av Judy an’ her mother. They can’t dhrag you to church, but if they do, they’ll dhrag you to hell. Go back to your quarthers an’ lie down,’ sez he. Thin, over his shoulder, ‘You must have done with thim.’

“Nixt day I wint to see Dinah; but there was no tucker in me as I walked. I knew the throuble wud come soon enough widout any handlin’ av mine, an’ I dreaded ut sore.

“I heard Judy callin’ me, but I hild straight on to the Shadds’ quarthers, an’ Dinah wud ha’ kissed me, but I hild her back.

“‘Whin all’s said, darlin’,’ sez I, ‘you can give ut me if you will, tho’ I misdoubt ’twill be so easy to come by thin.’

“I had scarce begun to put the explanation into shape before Judy an’ her mother came to the door. I think there was a veranda, but I’m forgettin’.

“‘Will ye not step in?’ sez Dinah, pretty and polite, though the Shadds had no dealin’s with the Sheehys. Owld Mother Shadd looked up quick, an’ she was the fust to see the throuble, for Dinah was her daughter.

“‘I’m pressed for time to-day,’ sez Judy, as bowld as brass; ‘an’ I’ve only come for Terence—my promust man. ’Tis strange to find him here the day afther the day.’

“Dinah looked at me as though I had hit her, an’ I answered straight.

“‘There was some nonsinse last night at the Sheehys’ quarthers, an’ Judy’s carryin’ on the joke, darlin’,’ sez I.

“‘At the Sheehys’ quarthers?’ sez Dinah, very slow; an’ Judy cut in wid:

“‘He was there from nine till tin, Dinah Shadd, an’ the betther half av that time I was sittin’ on his knee, Dinah Shadd. Ye may look an’ ye may look an’ ye may look me up an’ down, but ye won’t look away that Terence is my promust man. Terence darlin’, ’tis time for us to be comin’ home.’

“Dinah Shadd never said a word to Judy. ‘Ye left me at half-past eight,’ she sez to me, ‘an’ I never thought that ye’d leave me for Judy, promises or no promises. Go back wid her, you that have to be fetched by a girl! I’m done with you,’ sez she; and she ran into her own room, her mother followin’. So I was alone with those two women, and at liberty to spake me sintiments.

“‘Judy Sheehy,’ sez I, ‘if you made a fool av me betune the lights, you shall not do ut in the day. I never promised you words or lines.’

“‘You lie,’ sez owld Mother Sheehy; ‘an’ may ut choke you where you stand!’ She was far gone in dhrink.

“‘An’ tho’ ut choked me where I stud I’d not change,’ sez I. ‘Go home, Judy. I take shame for a decent girl like you dhraggin’ your mother out bareheaded on this errand. Here, now, an have ut for an answer. I gave me word to Dinah Shadd yesterday, an’ more blame to me I was with you last night talkin’ nonsinse, but nothin’ more. You’ve chosen to thry to howld me on ut. I will not be held thereby for anythin’ in the world. Is that enough?’

“Judy wint pink all over. ‘An’ I wish you joy av the perjury,’ sez she. ‘You’ve lost a woman that would ha’ wore her hand to the bone for your pleasure; an’ ’deed, Terence, ye were not thrapped….’ Lascelles must ha’ spoken plain to her. ‘I am such as Dinah is—’deed I am! Ye’ve lost a fool av a girl that’ll never look at you again, an’ ye’ve lost what ye niver had—your common honesty. If you manage your men as you manage your love-makin’, small wondher they call you the worst corp’ril in the comp’ny. Come away, mother,’ sez she.

“But divil a fut would the owld woman budge! D’you hould by that?’ sez she, peerin’ up undher her thick gray eyebrows.

“‘Aye, an’ wud,’ sez I, ‘tho’ Dinah gave me the go twinty times. I’ll have no thruck with you or yours,’ sez I. ‘Take your child away, ye shameless woman.’

“‘An’ am I shameless?’ sez she, bringin’ her hands up above her head. ‘Thin what are you, ye lyin’, schamin’, weak-kneed, dhirty-souled son of a sutler? Am I shameless? Who put the open shame on me an’ my child that we shud go beggin’ through the lines in daylight for the broken word of a man? Double portion of my shame be on you, Terence Mulvaney, that think yourself so strong! By Mary and the saints, by blood and water, an’ by iv’ry sorrow that came into the world since the beginnin’, the black blight fall on you and yours, so that you may niver be free from pain for another when ut’s not your own! May your heart bleed in your breast drop by drop, wid all your friends laughin’ at the bleedin’! Strong you think yourself? May your strength be a curse to you to dhrive you into the divil’s hands against your own will! Clear-eyed you are? May your eyes see clear iv’ry step av the dark path you take till the hot cindhers av hell put thim out! May the ragin’ dry thirst in my own owld bones go to you that you shall never pass bottle full nor glass empty! God preserve the light av your onderstandin’ to you, my jewel av a bhoy, that ye may niver forget what you mint to be an’ do, when you’re wallowin’ in the muck! May ye see the betther and follow the worse as long as there’s breath in your body! an’ may ye die quick in a strange land watchin’ your death before ut takes you an’ onable to stir hand or foot!’

“I heard a scufflin’ in the room behind and thin Dinah Shadd’s hand dhropped into mine like a rose-leaf into a muddy road.

“‘The half av that I’ll take,’ sez she, ‘an’ more, too, if I can. Go home, ye silly-talkin’ woman—go home an’ confess.’

“‘Come away! Come away!’ sez Judy, pullin’ her mother by the shawl. ‘’Twas none av Terence’s fault. For the love av Mary, stop the talkin’!’

“‘An’ you!’ said owld Mother Sheehy, spinnin’ round forninst Dinah. ‘Will ye take the half av that man’s load? Stand off from him, Dinah Shadd, before he takes you down too—you that look to be a quarthermaster-sarjint’s wife in five years. Ye look too high, child. Ye shall wash for the quarthermaster-sarjint, whin he pl’ases to give you the job out av charity; but a privit’s wife ye shall be to the end, an’ iv’ry sorrow of a privit’s wife ye shall know, an’ niver a joy but wan, that shall go from you like the tide from a rock. The pain of bearin’ ye shall know, but niver the pleasure of givin’ the breast; an’ you shall put away a man-child into the common ground wid niver a priest to say a prayer over him, an’ on that man-child ye shall think iv’ry day av your life. Think long, Dinah Shadd, for you’ll niver have another, tho’ you pray till your knees are bleedin’. The mothers av children shall mock you behind your back whin you’re wringin’ over the wash-tub. You shall know what ut is to take a dhrunken husband home an’ see him go to the gyard-room. Will that pl’ase you, Dinah Shadd, that won’t be seen talkin’ to my daughter? You shall talk to worse than Judy before all’s over. The sarjints’ wives shall look down on you, contemptuous daughter av a sarjint, an’ you shall cover ut all up wid a smilin’ face whin your heart’s burstin’. Stand off him, Dinah Shadd, for I’ve put the black curse of Shielygh upon him, an’ his own mouth shall make ut good.’

“She pitched forward on her head an’ began foamin’ at the mouth. Dinah Shadd ran out wid water, an’ Judy dhragged the owld woman into the veranda till she sat up.

“‘I’m owld an’ forlore,’ she sez, tremblin’ an’ cryin’, ‘an’ ’tis like I say a dale more than I mane.’

“‘When you’re able to walk—go,’ says owld Mother Shadd. ‘This house has no place for the likes av you, that have cursed my daughter.’

“‘Eyah!’ said the owld woman. ‘Hard words break no bones, an’ Dinah Shadd’ll kape the love av her husband till my bones are green corn. Judy darlin’, I misremember what I came here for. Can you lend us the bottom av a tay-cup av tay, Mrs. Shadd?’

“But Judy dhragged her off, cryin’ as tho’ her heart wud break. An’ Dinah Shadd an’ I, in ten minutes we had forgot ut all.”

“Then why do you remember it now?” said I.

“Is ut like I’d forgit? Iv’ry word that wicked owld woman spoke fell thrue in my life aftherward; an’ I cud ha’ stud ut all—stud ut all, except fwhen little Shadd was born. That was on the line av march three months afther the reg’mint was taken with cholera. We were betune Umballa an’ Kalka thin, an’ I was on picket. When I came off, the women showed me the child, an’ ut turned on ut’s side an’ died as I looked. We buried him by the road, an’ Father Victor was a day’s march behind wid the heavy baggage, so the comp’ny captain read a prayer. An’ since then I’ve been a childless man, an’ all else that owld Mother Sheehy put upon me an’ Dinah Shadd. What do you think, sorr?”

I thought a good deal, but it seemed better then to reach out for Mulvaney’s hand. This demonstration nearly cost me the use of three fingers. Whatever he knows of his weaknesses, Mulvaney is entirely ignorant of his strength.