Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Copperhead Paddy"

From Chapter iv of The Copperhead:
I fairly yearned to ask him what this
something was, and what was the matter
with his face, but it did not seem quite the
right thing to do, and presently he began
mumbling, as much to himself as to me, a
long and broken discourse, from which I
picked out that he had mingled with a group
of lusty young farmers in the market-place,
asking for the latest intelligence, and that
while they were conversing in a wholly
amiable manner, one of them had suddenly
knocked him down and kicked him, and that
thereafter they had pursued him with curses
and loud threats half-way to the tavern.
This and much more he proclaimed between
mouthfuls, speaking with great rapidity and
in so much more marked a brogue than usual,
that I understood only a fraction of what he

He professed entire innocence of offence
in the affair, and either could not or would
not tell what it was he had said to invite
the blow. I dare say he did in truth richly
provoke the violence he encountered, but at
the time I regarded him as a martyr, and
swelled with indignation every time I looked
at his nose.

I remained angry, indeed, long after he
himself had altogether recovered his equanim-
ity and whimsical good spirits. He waited
outside on the seat while X went in to pay
for the baiting of the horses, and it was as
well that he did, I fancy, because there were
half a dozen brawny farm-hands and villagers
standing about the bar, who were laughing
in a stormy way over the episode of the
" Copperhead Paddy " in the market.