Lynn Doyle (Linseed Oil)
It all begun wi ‘ me meetin’ Pether Boylan comin ‘ from Ballygullion wan Sathurday night.
“Goodevenin Pat,”sez he, stoppin’ the cart; “wud ye take a parcel up till ould Davis’s for me.
Major Donaldson sent it, tell him.”
What’ll it be?” sez I.
“I don’t know,”sez he. “But it has a mortiail quare smell. It’s nothin ‘ livin'”sez he.
“Show me it,’ ‘ sez I. “It’s green cheese,”sez I,”I’ll bate a pound. An’ maybe it’s livin’ too,
for all ye say. The quality does ate it when ye could hardly keep it on the plate wi’ a pitchfork.
I’ll take it up till him if ye’re in a hurry.’ ‘
It’s as good asa shillin’ toye,”sez he, laughin’, as he drives on.
“If it is,”sez I, callin’ afther him, “it’ll be the first he’s give away this ten years.”
For though ould Mr. Davis was a gentleman born, an’ a brave decent ould fellow at that, he was
heart mane. Whin the wife was livin’ he was a great sportin’ man, an ‘ open-handed an’ hearty
enough ; but af ther she died he begin to get terrible wee an ‘ greedy.
He sacked all the servants wan by wan till there was nobody left but an ould housekeeeper ; an’ him
an’ her lived at the big house up the road from me,all be their lone.
Whin I got up till the house, just at the hall door I came on the Quld gintleman himself, dhressed
in a shabby ould suit an’ a hat would have affronted a scarecrow.
“What have you there, Pat,”sez he.
“It’s a present from the Major,”sez I ; ‘ ‘cheese,”sez I, ‘ ‘ be the smell.”
So it is, Pat,”sez he, twinklin’ all over his wrinkled ould face. “Thank ye, thank ye kindly.
I’d give ye a dhrink, but I’m clane out of whiskey just at the minit. Howiver, we’ll have wan another
time. Anything fresh in the counthry ? “sez he.
Not much,”sez I. “They do be sayin’ that Mr. Hastings has entered ‘ Black Billy ‘ for the Grand National.”
“He may lave it alone,”sez he; ‘ ‘ for the baste is no manner of use at a ditch.”
“He may,”sez I; for they say the favourite’ll win. I’d back him meself, but sure there’s no
money in it at six to four. If it was a twelve to wan chance like ‘ Junius ‘ now.”
‘ Twelve to wan again’ ‘ Junius,’ “sez he; ‘ ‘ it’s big oddsy an’ he’s no bad horse. Twelve to wan,”
sez he, to himself like. “No,”sez he, startin’ up.
“Keep your money in your pocket, Pat. Bettin’s the way to lose it; an’ it’s hard to get — hard, hard
to get,”sez he, goin’ into the house.
I thought that was all was goin’ to be about it; but next mornin’ I wasn’t right out av the door till
I meets Mr. Davis himself.
‘Good mornin’, sir,”sez I “How are ye this mornin ‘?”
Not well, Pat,”sez he, ” not well. I had my supper of them cheese,”sez he, “an’ I slept power-
ful bad. Pat,”sez he, sudden like, “do you believe in dhrames? ”
“Some av thim,”sez I. ‘• What were ye dhramin’, sir? ”
“Pat,”sez he in a whisper, ‘ ‘ I dhramed that ‘ Junius’ won the National. Three times I
dhramed it,”sez he. ” I woiidher— I wondher would it come thrue ? ”
The Quld fellow was all in a thrimble wr excitement, an’ in troth I was a bit excited meself ; for
they do say if you dhrame a thing three times runnin’ it’s sartin to come thrue.
I’ll put a pound on him,”sez I, “anyway. It would be a terrible pity to miss the chance. They
say ould Harrison beyont made his fortune by dhramin’ av a gold mine whin he was in Australia.”
“He did,”sez he ; ‘ ‘ he did right enough. Give me your pound, Pat,”sez he, ‘ I’m goin’ to put
a thrifle on meself with a Dublin man I used to do a bit with, an’ I’ll send your pound too. Ye’U get
better odds that way.”
So away the ould chap goes wi’ my pound in his pocket; an’ whin I come to meself a bit, thinks I,
it’s the right ould fool ye are, puttin’ a pound on
another man’s dhrame.
“But, how-an’-iver, it’s away now,”sez I to meself, “an anyway it’s in good company, for the
ould fellow doesn’t part aisy. Who knows what luck we’ll have?”
For all that I was like a hen on a hot griddle from thin till the National.
The big day come, an’ about half-past four, in comes ould Davis intil the yard, an’ ye niver seen
a man in such heart in your life.
“Pat” sez he, “iVs come off— ‘ Junius ‘ has won I Twelve to wan, as Tin a livin ‘ sinner. It’s
a hundred an’ twenty pound in my pocket, ” sez he ‘”An’ it’s twelve in mine,”sez I. ‘ ‘ More power
to the Major’s cheese !”
D’ye think it was the cheese that done it? “sez he.
“Divil a doubt av it,”sez I. “Ye should take another feed av it— before the Two Thousand, say.”
“In throth will I,”sez he. “I’ve hardly touched it since, for it agrees mortial badly wi’ me ; but I
like it a dale betther now^ Pat.”
‘Send me up any sportin’ paper ye get between this an’ that. We needn’t both be buyin’ them,”
sez he. ‘ ‘ I’ll just keep me eye on what’s happenin’ an’ maybe I’ll dhrame somethin’ before
So I sent him up Sport for a week or two, and wi’ readin’ at it he begin to get that keen he couldn’t
wait for the “Two Thousand,”but begins to the cheese again.
For a while divil a thing it did for him, but give him heartburn; but afther about ten days he
dhramed the winner of a Sellin’ Plate, an’ a week afther that, two more.
Between the three av thim he made near five hundhred pound, an ‘ me near fifty.
Thin he stopped; for the “Two Thousand “was comin ‘ on, an ‘ he didn’t want to spoil himself for
About ten days before it he came in to me lookin ‘ very miserable an’ down.
‘ Pat,”sez he, ‘ ‘ I’ve done me best, but I can’t dhrame of the race at all, an’ I’ve near disthroyed
meself wi’ that cheese. It’s a mortial pity nothin ‘ else is any good, for this cheese atin’ is terrible bad
for the inside.”
‘Did ye niver thry nothin’ else? “sez I,
“I did, Pat,”sez he; ”but it was no use. I took a shockin’ male of salt herrin’s the other
night,”sez he; ” but divil all I dhramed but nonsense. I niver closed an eye at all till twelve, an’
thin I fell asleep an’ dhramed I was ridin ‘ Widow Murphy’s goat in the Derby, an’ just on the
winnin’ post the baste threw me an’ butted me in the stomach. Terrible real it was, too, for a
dhrame; for whin I awoke I could feel the pain in my inside still. No,”sez he; ‘I’ll have to stick
to the cheese if it kills me.”
Whin it came on till a week before the racci an ‘him niver dhraming anything was any good, he
was near demented; for the more he made, the greedier he was gettin An’ to tell the truth I was
a bit cut meself ; for there was no doubt he was dhramin’ powerful at the first.
To make matthers worse the mice got in at the Major’s cheese, an ‘ ate it ivery crumb, although the
smell might ha’ daunted a man let alone a mouse.
Down comes the ould gentleman the next mornin’ in a terrible way.
“Have ye any cheese in the house,”sez he,”Pat?”
“Divil a crumb,”sez I ; “it’s a thing I niver lip. What’s wrong wi’ what ye have? ”
An’ thin he begins cursin’ the mice something lamentable, an’ bemoanin his luck, till I could
hardly get out av him what had happened.
‘Ye’U have to buy more,”sez I. “There’s time enough yet to dhrame a dozen winners.”
“It’s terrible dear,”sez he, groanin’.
“What about it ? “sez I. “Sure ye’re makin’ a fortune out av it. Give me a shillin’ an’ I’ll run
down to BallyguUion, an’ get ye a pound av good stuff.”
I’d ha ‘ paid for it meself» but, thinks h ” Yeould miser; it’s a heart’s blessin ‘ to make ye spend
‘No’ sez he; “I’ll’l go myself’
Away he goes, an’ afther a while he come bade wi’ a pound av quare yellow-lookin’ cheese, that
looked more like soap ‘ He was lookin’ terrible
well plazed, too.
“Man, Pat,”sez he, ‘ ‘ I’m in luck. I got a pound av Meriky cheese for sevenpence.”
“Ye’U not dhrame many winners on that,”sez I. It’s poor lookin’ stuff.”
“Ye niver know,”sez he. ‘ ‘Anyway, we’ll give it a chance.”
An’ wi’ that off he goes like a shot; for he was af eared I might banther him in til buy in’ betther.
The next mornin’ down he comes leppin’ like a yearlin’ calf.
“Pat,”sez he, “I’ve dhramed again. I seen ‘ Buttercup ‘ win the ‘ Two Thousand ‘ as plain as
I see you. An outsider, too,”sez he, “we’ll not get less than twenty to wan.”
“Did ye dhrame it more than wanst? “sez I; for “Buttercup “wasn’t thought much av, I may
“No,”sez he ‘ but I’ll give it another thrial the night.”
That night he dhramed it again, an ‘ the nixt night afther that as well.
He’d niver dhramed av a race three different nights before, an’ that put any doubt av ‘ Butter-
cup ‘ out av our heads.
So I made up me mind to make a death this time, an’ I give him the whole fifty pound I’d
I niver knowed what he put on himself; but it must ha ‘ been somethih ‘ purty big. For there’s no
man as venturesome as your miser whin the greed gets the betther av him.
Anyway ye may guess the state av thrimmles he was in whin he sent an extra sixpence to get the
result telegraphed. ‘Twas the best thing he could ha’ done, too; for he was that busy frettin’ about
the sixpence he was spendin’ that he hadn’t time to worry about the race.
The day av the race came, an’ whiniver I seen the boy passin’ on the red bicycle I down wi’ my spade
an’ away to the big house. The minit I clapped eyes on the ould gintleman I knowed we were done.
He was sittin ‘ on the hall-door steps lookin ‘ fair dazed, wi ‘ the telegram crumpled up in his hand.
“Is it bad news, Mr. Davis? “sez I.
“Bad news’ sez he in a sort av a scrame, startin’ up; “ay, bad news indeed. I’m broke,”
sez he — “broke an’ ruined. The baste niver got a place even. Och, och,”sez he, wringin’ his
hands an’ rockin’ backwards an’ forwards on the stone step, ” my money’s gone, my good money’s
gone, that I gathered hard an’ sore. Curse the baste,”sez he. ‘ ‘ Curse him! Curse him ! ”
He bate his head wi’ his hands, an’ lamented till ye’d been sorry lookin ‘ at him .
” Well, well, now,”sez I, “don’t fret yourself like that. Sure I’m near broke too.”
But that was small comfort till him ; for divil a hair he cared I was broke all out.
“Anyway,”sez I, “we’ll get it back. Sure you’ve dhramed four winners an ‘ only missed
wanst. It’s that chape Meriky cheese has done us. If you’d had the pluck to buy a bit av decent
cheese, this wouldn’t ha’ happened. But your heart wouldn’t let you,”sez I. For by this time I
was beginnin’ to get vexed at the thought av me own good fifty pound.
“You’re right, Pat,”sez he, comin ‘ round a bit. ‘ I give in you’re right. I was mad not to find
out from the Major what sort the first was. But I’ll
do it this day, ” sez he, gettin’ on his feet.
“Ye won’t,”sez I, ‘ ‘ worse luck; for the Major died this mornin ‘ at half-past ten.”
Wi’ that I thought he was off in his tantrums again ; for whin he minded to send to the Major
he thought he seen his money back an’ more.
At long last I got him quieted down to go into Ballygullion an ‘ get as near as he could to the first.
The next night he dhramed a horse sure enough ; but the divil a betther it done than third. I lost
five pound, an’ himself a bit more I’m thinkin’.
Away he goes like a madman to Ballygullion again, an’ buys a pound av another kind, dearer
nor the first. But sure he might as well not ; for his luck was clane gone, an’ he dhramed an’ ould
mare that niver left the post at all — divil keep her there still.
Afther that I stopped; for I seen he was clane done at the dhramin’. But the poor ould gintleman niver
went mad at it till thin.
He ramsacked every shop in Ballygullion an ‘ through the countryside for green cheese, an’ whin
that was no good he sent to Belfast, an ‘ Dublin even. But he niver had a bit of luck at all at all.
Half-time he niver dhramed av a horse, an ‘ if he did dhrame av wan, it wasn’t in the first five.
Afther a while I stopped goin’ up at all, for whin I wasn’t bettin’ he took no manner of intherest in
me, an ‘ besides wi’ the eatin ‘ av so much cheese he got as carnaptious as a clockin’ hen, an ‘ him an ‘
me always fell out whin I advised him to give it up.
But I still heard odd rumours from the neighbours about him ; for people’s tongues soon begin
to go about all the cheese he was buy in ‘ ; an ‘ iverybody thought he was mad, not knowin ‘ anything
about the bettin ‘.
Then I heard he wasn’t well, an ‘ wan afthernoon the ould housekeeper come down to tell me the
masther wanted to see me.
As the two av us was walkin ‘ up the road we fell intil crack.
How ‘s he doin ‘ lately, Molly? ‘ ‘ sez I. Doin ‘,’ ‘ sez she. ”The ould dlvil ‘s clane
crazy. Ye ‘ve heard the notion he ‘s tuk about atin’ cheese— divil choke him on it. Sure the house is
full av it, an ‘ there ‘s a fresh dose comes ivery post.The money he ‘s spendin ‘ on it is lamentable, him
that would ha ‘ wrestled a ghost for a ha’penny. But divil the bite or sup else has come intil the house for
a month barrin ‘ potatoes an’ oatmale. If it wasn’t that the ould fool is near his end I’d ha’ left long
ago, for I’m near dead wi’ the heartburn, an’ me guts does be rumblin’ all the time like an empty churn.”
“Near his end, Molly,”sez I. “Is he bad thin?”
“Bad,”sez she. ‘ ‘ The docthor’s been with him ivery day for a week past. He’s with him now.
Sure ’twas him sent me for you.”An’ right enough the docthor met me in the hall.
“Tell me, Pat,”sez he; “do you know anything of this notion Mr. Davis has got about the
“Well, docthor,”sez I, lookin’ a bit foolish, “he dhramed a winner a while ago, afther a supper
av cheese, an’ him an’ me made a bit av money on it; an’ iver since he’s been thryin’ to do the same
again. I’ve tould him over an’ over to give it up, but divil a bit will he.”
” Well, go in an’ thry him again,”sez he. “He’ll maybe take more notice of what ye say
now; for I’ve tould him he’ll not live above a fortnight if he doesn’t quit the cheese.”
So away goes I up to the bedroom, an’ troth twas a cruel sight to see him lyin ‘ there. Terrible
failed he was; all gathered up lookin% an’ not more than half the size he was whin I seen him last.
” Och, Mr. Davis dear’ sez I, ‘ what have ye been doin’ to yerself at all, at all.”
“I’ve been ruinin’ meself,”sez he, ” that’s all. I’m near a pauper,”sez he, in a sort av heart-
broken way, wi’ the tears rollin’ down his cheeks me that was a well-off man if I had a’ had sense.”
“Come,”sez I, ‘ ‘ you’re not as bad as that yet; you’ve still a fine place behind ye.”
“Have I ? “sez he. ‘ ‘ Do ye see that letther ? Well, there’s six notes av fifty pound in it, an’
that’s all that’s left av what I raised on the same place,”sez he.
“Och, och,”sez I, ‘ ‘ this is terrible altogether. I niver thought it was as bad as this wi’ ye.”
“Wheesht, Pat,”sez he, risin’ on his elbow an’ spakin’ in a whisper. “I’ll get it back yet. I’ve
found the right kind av cheese at last. It come just before I tuk to me bed,”sez he, “an’ I kept a bit in
the dhressin’-table unbeknownst to the docthor.
I’ve dhramed ‘ Clematis ‘ for the ‘ St. Leger ‘ for sivin nights now, an ‘ she’s a twinty to wan chance.
You post this letther to Dublin to-day for me’ sez he, “an ‘ Til come out right yet. The wire’U come
to you, an’ the docthor’ll niver know.”
“Is it mad ye think I am,”sez I, ‘ ‘ to post your last shillin’ away. Divil a fear o’ me.”
“Listen to me, Pat,”sez he, ‘ ‘ if ‘ Qematis’ wins I’m set up again for me day; an’ I’ll niver back a
horse again av I was to dhrame a whole circus av thim. An’ if she loses, sure I’ve neither chick nor
child to be the worse.”
“But what about yourself, Mr. Davis? “sez I.
“Pat,”sez he, ‘ ‘ if she loses I’ll not be long here. It’ll break my heart if I don’t get me money
back. I can’t stop thinkin’ av it day nor night day nor night.”
“But she’ll not lose,”sez he. “Somethin’ tells me she’ll not lose. I’ve got the right kind av cheese
again, I know I have. Ye don’t believe it, I see that, an’ I’ll not tell ye what it is or where I got
it now. But when I’ve win, an’ ye’re convinced, I will. Sure there’s a fortune in it— aye, a fortune,”sez he.
He was sittin’ up in the bed be this time, wi’ his eyes all bright an’ glitterin’, an’ it come over me
whin I looked at him that, sure enough, he wasn’t all there.
However, thinks I, what he says is thrue— he’ll not be long for this world if he doesn’t get his
money back, an’ I’ll give him his chance. Sure we’ll know wan way or another in a fortnight. So
away I goes an’ posts the letther.
Two days afterwards whin I got me Sport, I seen that “Clematis “was riz in the bettin’ from twinty,
till twelve to wan. ” That looks well,.”sez I. An’ up I goes to the big house to tell the ould gintle-
man. He was weaker a good deal, but the news heartened him up a bit.
“Here, Pat,”sez he, gropin’ under the pillow, ” here’s a shillin ‘, get a paper ivery day, an’ let me
know how the bettin ‘ goes.’ ‘
I had mighty little hope av him afther that, for I don’t believe he’d spent a penny on a paper since
the misthress died, let alone a shillin’.
But the nixt day the mare was up till eight to wan; an’ afther that she riz in the bettin’ steady,
an’ the ould gintleman kept mendin’ ivery day.
Three days before the race she was at four to wan, an’ I was cursin’ meself that I hadn’t the heart
to back her whin there was a dacent price to be got.
Thin the nixt mornin’ comes out a report in the paper that “Clematis “had broken down in thrain-
ing an’ was scratched.
“It’s all up wi’ him now,”sez I
Up I goes, intendin’ to say nothin’ about it, an’ make out the mare was doin ‘ well ; but whin I wint
intil the room, sure ‘ I seen death in his face.
“I’m done, Pat,”sez he. “The docthor was here an’ tould me about the mare. I didn’t want
him to know I was bettin’; but I couldn’t thole till you come.”
“Divil stretch his long tongue another fut I “sez I. ‘ ‘ He might a’ had more gumption. But keep
up your heart, there’ll be betther news in the mornin’.”
An’ so there was. Next mornin’ the paper says the report about ” Clematis”was only partly thrue,
an’ she’d start alright. For all that, she was back to the twinties in the bettin’ an’ all I could do I
couldn’t cheer the ould gintleman up.
The docthor met me comin’ down the stairs, an’ afther givin’ me the divil’s own dhressin’ down for
deceivin’ him, forbids me to go up again.
“He’s too wake to stand any excitement,”sez he. ‘ If I’d caught ye in time ye’d not have been
in wi’ him the day.”
“But docthor,”sez I, “sure the race is on tomorrow, an ‘ if the mare wins you’ll let me tell
“If the sky falls I “sez he. ‘ Ye might as well expect my pony to win.”An’, in troth, I couldn’t
All the nixt afthernoon from dinner-time I was goin’ about like a ghost round a graveyard, lookin’
for the telegram. At last, about half-past three, I sees the boy comin’ up the road. I run down to
meet him an’ tuk the invilope out av his han’, but me own was thrimmlin’ that I could hardly open it.
There was just three words: — “Clematis won easily; “an’ whin I read them the sight near left
Thin I to my heels an’ up the road for the big house wi’ me heart in a twitter. I niver looked to
right or left, but up to the ould gintleman’s room.
The docthor heard me comin’, an’ steps out on the landin’.
“Wheesht, Pat,”sez he, ‘ ‘ an’ go quietly down if ye have any dacency at all. The man’s dyin’,”
“He’ll not die,”sez I, “if ye’ll only let me in. The mare’s won I tell ye.”
“It’s too late,”sez he; “he’s at his last gasp.”
“Let me in,”sez I, pushin’ past him; ‘ ‘ it’s not too late yet,”an’ before he could stop me I was in
The ould gintleman was lyin’ very still an’ quiet,wi’ his eyes half shut; an ‘ whin I seen him me
heart near failed me.
But I fell on me knees be the bedside.
Mr. Davis,”sez I, as softly as I could.
He opened his eyes a bit, an’ I seen that he knowed me; for they brightened, an’ a wee bit av
colour come in his face.
“Pat,”sez he, in a whisper, ‘• Pat ! ”
“The mare’s won, sir,”sez I “The mare’s won I Ye’re all right yet. Sure ye’U niver give in
The poor ould fellow stretched out his hand, an’ laid it on mine that was lyin’ on the bed. A sort
av a smile come on his face, an’ his lips moved a thrifle. When I seen that I laned over him.
“Pat,”sez he, very slow an’ faint, ” Mooney’s — Sack ville Street — thirteenpence a pound. ‘ ‘ Thin he
I looked at his face, an’ run out av the room cry in’ like a child.