Excerpt from Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry
Honest, blustering, good-humoured Ned was the indefatigable mer chant of the village ever engaged in some ten or twenty pound speculation, the capital of which he was sure to extort, perhaps for the twelfth time, from the savings of Nancy's frugality, by the equivocal test of a month or six weeks' consecutive sobriety, and which said speculation he never failed to wind up by the total loss of the capital for Nancy, and the capital loss of a broken head for himself. Ned had eternally some bargain on his hands at one time you might see him a yarn-merchant, planted in the next market-town, upon the upper step of Mr. Birnie's hall-door, where the yarn-market was held, sur rounded by a crowd of eager countrywomen, anxious to give Ned the preference - first, because he was a well-wisher secondly, because he hadn't his heart in the penny and thirdly, because he gave Sixpence a spangle more than any other man in the market.
There might Ned be found, with his twenty pounds of hard silver singling in the bottom of a green bag as a decoy to his customers, laughing loud as he piled the yarn in an ostentatious heap, whir h, in the pride of his commercial sagacity, he had purchased at a dead 1035. Again, you might see him at a horse-fair, cantering about on the back of some sleek but broken-winded jade, with spavined legs, imposed on him as a great bargain entirely, by the superior cunning of some rustic sharper or standing over a hogshead of damaged fiaxseed, in the purchase of which he shrewdly suspected himself of having over reached the seller, by allowing him for it a greater price than the prime seed of the market would have cost him. In short, Ned was never out of a speculation, and whatever he undertook was sure to prove a complete failure. But he had one mode of consolation, which consisted in sitting down with the fag-ends of Nancy's capital in his pocket, and drinking night and day with this neighbour and that, whilst a shilling remained and when he found himself at the end of his tether, he was sure to fasten a quarrel on some friend or acquaint ance, and to get his head broken for his pains.
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