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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

''Sorra anything else has Murtagh to do that he cares about


there I made acquaintance, notwithstanding the hint of the landlord, with the Papist 'gossoons,' as they were called, the farmers' sons from the country; and of these gossoons, of whom there were three, two might be reckoned as nothing at all; in the third, however, I soon discovered that there was something extraordinary.

He was about sixteen years old, and above six feet high, dressed in a grey suit; the coat, from its size, appeared to have been made for him some ten years before. He was remarkably narrow-chested and round-shouldered, owing, perhaps as much to the tightness of his garment as to the hand of nature. His face was long, and his complexion swarthy, relieved, however, by certain freckles, with which the skin was plentifully studded. He had strange wandering eyes, grey, and somewhat unequal in size; they seldom rested on the book, but were generally wandering about the room, from one object to another. Sometimes he would fix them intently on the wall, and then suddenly starting, as if from a reverie, he would commence making certain mysterious movements with his thumbs and forefingers, as if he were shuffling something from him.

One morning, as he sat by himself on a bench, engaged in this manner, I went up to him, and said, 'Good-day, Murtagh; you do not seem to have much to do?'

'Faith, you may say that, Shorsha dear!--it is seldom much to do that I have.'

style="text-align: justify;">'And what are you doing with your hands?'

'Faith, then, if I must tell you, I was e'en dealing with the cards.'

'Do you play much at cards?'

'Sorra a game, Shorsha, have I played with the cards since my uncle Phelim, the thief, stole away the ould pack, when he went to settle in the county Waterford!'

'But you have other things to do?'

'Sorra anything else has Murtagh to do that he cares about; and that makes me dread so going home at nights.'

'I should like to know all about you; where do you live, joy?'

'Faith, then, ye shall know all about me, and where I live. It is at a place called the Wilderness that I live, and they call it so, because it is a fearful wild place, without any house near it but my father's own; and that's where I live when at home.'

'And your father is a farmer, I suppose?'

'You may say that; and it is a farmer I should have been, like my brother Denis, had not my uncle Phelim, the thief, tould my father to send me to school, to learn Greek letters, that I might be made a saggart of, and sent to Paris and Salamanca.'

'And you would rather be a farmer than a priest?'

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