Jimmy M'Allister

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER III (8) start of chapter

Jimmy M'Allister may not be the wisest or most sagacious adult male in the settlement; but, fortunately for him, he has a better half who looks sharply after all things, Jimmy included. Mrs. M'Allister is of so thrifty a turn that she would pick a feather off the road; and indeed so successfully had she picked up and bartered this article of comfort and commerce, that she was then after selling four good beds for the respectable sum of 16l.—no small addition to the annual revenue of the M'Allisters. Jimmy was of a different turn of mind: he would rather pick up a grievance than a feather; and the want of a priest for the settlement was a topic on which he dilated with persistent eloquence, notwithstanding the Bishop's repeated assurances that there would be a resident priest in the course of the following spring.

'But, my lord,' persisted Jimmy, 'he's wanted bad; and that's no lie. Faith, my lord, a body may die three times over in this place before he could send for the priest; and as for that, a poor fellow mightn't have the dollars convaynient to send for the doctor—two dollars goin' and two dollars comin' —Be dad, my lord ——'

'Well, Jimmy, please God, you shall have the priest next spring,' said the Bishop.

'That may all be thrue, sir—my lord!—but, after all, a body may die three times over before he could send for him, and then, my lord——'

'Very well, Jimmy, you will be sure to have him,' said the Bishop with additional emphasis, in the hope of satisfying the unappeasable grievance-monger.

'And, my lord, sure this settlement is well able to support its own priest, and I tell you he's much wanted—and, for the matter of that, a poor body may die three times over before he could be able to send for him——'

A rumour that Mrs. M'Allister was in sight had a marvellous influence on Jimmy, who asked for and obtained a ready leave of absence from the Bishop, on the plea of 'urgent private business,' which, in his zeal for the spiritual welfare of his fellow-sinners, he had altogether forgotten. Jimmy rapidly fell behind, and was not seen till the following morning.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America