| Hudden And Dudden And Donald O'neary |
T WAS MORE kicks than halfpence that Hudden and Dudden got before they were well on their way home again, and they didn't run the slower because all the dogs of the town were at their heels.
Well, as you may fancy, if they loved Donald little before, they loved him less now.
"What's the matter, friends?" said he, as he saw them tearing along, their hats knocked in, and their coats torn off, and their faces black and blue. "Is it fighting you've been? or mayhap you met the police, ill luck to them?"
"We'll police you, you vagabond. It's mighty smart you thought yourself, deluding us with your lying tales."
"Who deluded you? Didn't you see the gold with your own two eyes?"
But it was no use talking. Pay for it he must, and should. There was a meal-sack handy, and into it Hudden and Dudden popped Donald O'Neary, tied him up tight, ran a pole through the knot, and off they started for the Brown Lake of the Bog, each with a pole-end on his shoulder, and Donald O'Neary between.
But the Brown Lake was far, the road was dusty, Hudden and Dudden were sore and weary, and parched with thirst. There was an inn by the roadside.
"Let's go in," said Hudden; "I'm dead beat. It's heavy he is for the little he had to eat."
If Hudden was willing, so was Dudden. As for Donald, you may be sure his leave wasn't asked, but he was lumped down at the inn door for all the world as if he had been a sack of potatoes.
"Sit still, you vagabond," said Dudden; "if we don't mind waiting, you needn't."
Donald held his peace, but after a while he heard the glasses clink, and Hudden singing away at the top of his voice.
"I won't have her, I tell you; I won't have her!" said Donald. But nobody heeded what he said.
"I won't have her, I tell you; I won't have her!" said Donald, and this time he said it louder; but nobody heeded what he said.
"I won't have her, I tell you; I won't have her!" said Donald; and this time he said it as loud as he could.
"And who won't you have, may I be so bold as to ask?" said a farmer, who had just come up with a drove of cattle, and was turning in for a glass.
"It's the king's daughter. They are bothering the life out of me to marry her."
"You're the lucky fellow. I'd give something to be in your shoes."
"Do you see that now! Wouldn't it be a fine thing for a farmer to be marrying a princess, all dressed in gold and jewels?"
"Jewels, do you say? Ah, now, couldn't you take me with you?"
"Well, you're an honest fellow, and as I don't care for the king's daughter, though she's as beautiful as the day, and is covered with jewels from top to toe, you shall have her. Just undo the cord, and let me out; they tied me up tight, as they knew I'd run away from her."
Out crawled Donald; in crept the farmer.
"Now lie still, and don't mind the shaking; it's only rumbling over the palace steps you'll be. And maybe they'll abuse you for a vagabond, who won't have the king's daughter; but you needn't mind that. Ah! it's a deal I'm giving up for you, sure as it is that I don't care for the princess."
"Take my cattle in exchange," said the farmer; and you may guess it wasn't long before Donald was at their tails driving them homewards.
Out came Hudden and Dudden, and the one took one end of the pole, and the other the other.
"I'm thinking he's heavier," said Hudden.
"Ah, never mind," said Dudden; "it's only a step now to the Brown Lake."
"I'll have her now! I'll have her now!" bawled the farmer, from inside the sack.
"By my faith, and you shall though," said Hudden, and he laid his stick across the sack.
"I'll have her! I'll have her!" bawled the farmer, louder than ever.
"Well, here you are," said Dudden, for they were now come to the Brown Lake, and, unslinging the sack, they pitched it plump into the lake.
"You'll not be playing your tricks on us any longer," said Hudden.
"True for you," said Dudden. "Ah, Donald, my boy, it was an ill day when you borrowed my scales."
Off they went, with a light step and an easy heart, but when they were near home, who should they see but Donald O'Neary, and all around him the cows were grazing, and the calves were kicking up their heels and butting their heads together.
"Is it you, Donald?" said Dudden. "Faith, you've been quicker than we have."
"True for you, Dudden, and let me thank you kindly; the turn was good, if the will was ill. You'll have heard, like me, that the Brown Lake leads to the Land of Promise. I always put it down as lies, but it is just as true as my word. Look at the cattle."
Hudden stared, and Dudden gaped; but they couldn't get over the cattle; fine fat cattle they were too.
"It's only the worst I could bring up with me," said Donald O'Neary; "the others were so fat, there was no driving them. Faith, too, it's little wonder they didn't care to leave, with grass as far as you could see, and as sweet and juicy as fresh butter."
"Ah, now, Donald, we haven't always been friends," said Dudden, "but, as I was just saying, you were ever a decent lad, and you'll show us the way, won't you?"
"I don't see that I'm called upon to do that; there is a power more cattle down there. Why shouldn't I have them all to myself?"
"Faith, they may well say, the richer you get, the harder the heart. You always were a neighbourly lad, Donald. You wouldn't wish to keep the luck all to yourself?"
"True for you, Hudden, though 'tis a bad example you set me. But I'll not be thinking of old times. There is plenty for all there, so come along with me."
Off they trudged, with a light heart and an eager step. When they came to the Brown Lake, the sky was full of little white clouds, and, if the sky was full, the lake was as full.
"Ah! now, look, there they are," cried Donald, as he pointed to the clouds in the lake.
"Where? where?" cried Hudden, and "Don't be greedy!" cried Dudden, as he jumped his hardest to be up first with the fat cattle. But if he jumped first, Hudden wasn't long behind.
They never came back. Maybe they got too fat, like the cattle. As for Donald O'Neary, he had cattle and sheep all his days to his heart's content.