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Curran

( Originally Published 1851 )



One morning, at an inn in the south of Ireland, a gentleman travelling upon mercantile business, came running down stairs a few minutes before the appearance of the stage coach, in which he' had taken a seat for Dublin. Seeing an ugly little fellow leaning against the doorpost, with dirty face and shabby clothes, he hailed him and ordered him to brush his coat. The operation proceeding rather slowly, the impatient traveller cursed the lazy valet for an idle, good-for-nothing dog, and threatened him with corporal punishment on the spot, if he did not make haste and finish his job well before the arrival of the coach. Terror seemed to produce its effect; the fellow brushed the coat and then the trowsers, with great diligence, and was rewarded with sixpence, which he received with a low bow. The gentleman went into the bar, and paid his bill, just as the expected vehicle reached the door. Upon getting inside, guess his astonishment to find his friend the quondam waiter, seated snugly in one corner, with all the look of a person well used to comfort. After two or three hurried glances, to be sure that his eyes did not deceive him, he commenced a confused apology for his blunder, condemning his own rashness and stupidity, but he was speedily interrupted by the other exclaiming,

Oh, never mind, make no apologies, these are hard times, and it is well to earn a trifle in an honest way, I am much obliged for your handsome fee for so small a job, my name, sir, is John Philpot Curran, pray what is yours?" The other was thunderstruck by the idea of such an introduction; but the drollery of Curran soon overcame his con-fusion; and the traveller never rejoiced less at the termination of a long journey, than when he beheld the distant spires of Dublin glitter in the light of the setting sun.

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