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249. B. 33.
SINCE this Work went to Press, under the name of IERNE, another similarly entitled has been published; the Editor has therefore superadded that now appearing on the title-page, which will account for the discrepancy between it and that heading the pages.
BY THE EDITOR.
“An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.”
How I became possessed of the annexed tale, and why its publication has been so long delayed, the following short account will inform the reader.
It was so far back as the evening of the great Jubilee Festival, held in the Irish metropolis, in celebration of the third George having entered on the half centenary of his reign, that I took my seat in one of the western mail-coaches en route for my native town, to which, for obvious reasons, I shall give the name of Port-na-Currig, the same by which I find it designated in the narrative; I had just succeeded to my paternal property on the decease of my father, and was proceeding to take possession.
The coach, of which I was the sole inside occupant, made its way slowly through the dense crowds that thronged the streets, the illuminations having already commenced; the terrified
horses, each led by an attendant, being at intervals scared out of their propriety by squibs and other fiery missiles flung among them by the mischievous urchins that take delight in tormenting the brute creation in every country.
We at length gained the western suburbs, when I heard the guard call out to the coachman, not to forget to pull up at the Park-gate, to take up the gentleman whose luggage had been sent to the office, where we accordingly came to a stop, and an individual, wrapped up in a large cloak, having handed a small carpet-bag to the driver, ascended the step; as he was talking to the coachman about the stowage of his luggage, I caught a glimpse of his face from the strong glare thrown on it by the coach-lamp, and could perceive that, though handsome, it was sharp, thin, and pale, and from the many wrinkles that radiated from the corners of the eyes and mouth, indicated advancement in life; he had otherwise the appearance of a gentleman of the old school, and spoke in a manner to his rough customer that bespoke the designation, so often misapplied, which I have accorded him.
After the door had been closed, and the starting words of “all right” given, we plunged into the dark gloom that lay before us, overhanging the low grounds through which the Liffey rolls.
Something of a melancholy presentiment passed
over my mind, arising from the strong contrast the present obscurity presented to the brilliant scene I had left behind me, reminding me of the dark valley lying beyond life, into which sooner or later I must enter, while the companionship of this mysterious-looking fellowtraveller called up to my mind the shadow of death accompanying me.
I once or twice addressed myself to him, but his replies, though perfectly courteous, indicating no desire for conversation, I drew my travelling cap across my eyes, and reclining against the side cushion, imperceptibly fell into a slumber.
Having gone a considerable distance, as I imagined, I was awoke by the sound of a voice apparently expressing much agony and suffering, which, though at first I had supposed it to come from the outside, I could no longer doubt proceeded from my fellow-traveller; a feeling of delicacy prevented my intruding any observations, knowing, whatever was the source of it, I could afford him no relief; I accordingly continued in my inclined position, not to cause him any embarrassment.
In a short time I heard him distinctly say in a low tone, “ Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days, that I may be certified how long I have to live." He again repeated,
Oh, spare me a little before I go hence and be no more seen."