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The Solid Muldoon
by [?]

Did ye see John Malone, wid his shinin’, brand-new hat?
Did ye see how he walked like a grand aristocrat?
There was flags an’ banners wavin’ high,
an’ dhress and shtyle were shown,
But the best av all the company was Misther John Malone.

John Malone.

There had been a royal dog-fight in the ravine at the back of the rifle-butts, between Learoyd’s Jock and Ortheris’s Blue Rot–both mongrel Rampur hounds, chiefly ribs and teeth. It lasted for twenty happy, howling minutes, and then Blue Rot collapsed and Ortheris paid Learoyd three rupees, and we were all very thirsty. A dog-fight is a most heating entertainment, quite apart from the shouting, because Rampurs fight over a couple of acres of ground. Later, when the sound of belt-badges clicking against the necks of beer-bottles had died away, conversation drifted from dog to man-fights of all kinds. Humans resemble red-deer in some respects. Any talk of fighting seems to wake up a sort of imp in their breasts, and they bell one to the other, exactly like challenging bucks. This is noticeable even in men who consider themselves superior to Privates of the Line: it shows the Refining Influence of Civilization and the March of Progress.

Tale provoked tale, and each tale more beer. Even dreamy Learoyd’s eyes began to brighten, and he unburdened himself of a long history in which a trip to Malham Cove, a girl at Pateley Brigg, a ganger, himself and a pair of clogs were mixed in drawling tangle.

“An’ so Ah coot’s yead oppen from t’ chin to t’ hair, an’ he was abed for t’ matter o’ a month,” concluded Learoyd, pensively.

Mulvaney came out of a revery–he was lying down–and flourished his heels in the air. “You’re a man, Learoyd,” said he, critically, “but you’ve only fought wid men, an’ that’s an ivry-day expayrience; but I’ve stud up to a ghost, an’ that was not an ivry-day expayrience.”

“No?” said Ortheris, throwing a cork at him. “You git up an’ address the ‘ouse–you an’ yer expayriences. Is it a bigger one nor usual?”

“Twas the livin’ trut’!” answered Mulvaney, stretching out a huge arm and catching Ortheris by the collar. “Now where are ye, me son? Will ye take the wurrud av the Lorrd out av my mouth another time?” He shook him to emphasize the question.

“No, somethin’ else, though,” said Ortheris, making a dash at Mulvaney’s pipe, capturing it and holding it at arm’s length; “I’ll chuck it acrost the ditch if you don’t let me go!”

“You maraudin’ hathen! Tis the only cutty I iver loved. Handle her tinder or I’ll chuck you acrost the nullah. If that poipe was bruk–Ah! Give her back to me, sorr!”

Ortheris had passed the treasure to my hand. It was an absolutely perfect clay, as shiny as the black ball at Pool. I took it reverently, but I was firm.

“Will you tell us about the ghost-fight if I do?” I said.

“Is ut the shtory that’s troublin’ you? Av course I will. I mint to all along. I was only gettin’ at ut my own way, as Popp Doggle said whin they found him thrying to ram a cartridge down the muzzle. Orth’ris, fall away!”

He released the little Londoner, took back his pipe, filled it, and his eyes twinkled. He has the most eloquent eyes of any one that I know.

“Did I iver tell you,” he began, “that I was wanst the divil of a man?”

“You did,” said Learoyd, with a childish gravity that made Ortheris yell with laughter, for Mulvaney was always impressing upon us his great merits in the old days.

“Did I iver tell you,” Mulvaney continued, calmly, “that I was wanst more av a divil than I am now?”

“Mer–ria! You don’t mean it?” said Ortheris.

“Whin I was Corp’ril–I was rejuced aftherward–but, as I say, whin I was Corp’ril, I was a divil of a man.”