The Mishaps Of Handy Andy
: STORIES FROM IRELAND
: Boys And Girls Bookshelf
Andy Rooney was a fellow who had the most singularly ingenious knack of
doing everything the wrong way. He grew up in his humble Irish home full
of mischief to the eyes of every one save his admiring mother. But, to
do him justice, he never meant harm in the course of his life, and he
was most anxious to offer his services on every occasion to all who
would accept them. Here is the account of how Andy first went into
When Andy grew up to be what in country parlance is called "a brave lump
of a boy," and his mother thought he was old enough to do something for
himself, she took him one day along with her to the squire's, and
waited outside the door, loitering up and down the yard behind the
house, among a crowd of beggars and great lazy dogs that were thrusting
their heads into every iron pot that stood outside the kitchen door,
until chance might give her "a sight of the squire afore he wint out, or
afore he wint in"; and, after spending her entire day in this idle way,
at last the squire made his appearance, and Judy presented her son, who
kept scraping his foot, and pulling his forelock, that stuck out like a
piece of ragged thatch from his forehead, making his obeisance to the
squire, while his mother was sounding his praises for being the
"handiest craythur alive, and so willin'--nothin' comes wrong to him."
"I suppose the English of all this is, you want me to take him?" said
"Throth, an' your honor, that's just it--if your honor would be plazed."
"What can he do?"
"Anything, your honor."
"That means nothing, I suppose," said the squire.
"Oh, no, sir! Everything, I mane, that you would desire him to do."
To every one of these assurances on his mother's part Andy made a bow
and a scrape.
"Can he take care of horses?"
"The best of care, sir," said the mother.
"Let him come, then, and help in the stables, and we'll see what we can
The next day found Andy duly installed in the office of stable-helper;
and, as he was a good rider, he was soon made whipper-in to the hounds,
and became a favorite with the squire, who was one of those rollicking
"boys" of the old school, who let any one that chance threw in his way
bring him his boots, or his hot water for shaving, or brush his coat,
whenever it was brushed. The squire, you see, scorned the attentions of
a regular valet. But Andy knew a great deal more about horses than about
the duties of a valet. One morning he came to his master's room with hot
water and tapped at the door.
"Who's that?" said the squire, who had just risen.
"It's me, sir."
"Oh, Andy! Come in."
"Here's the hot water, sir," said Andy, bearing an enormous tin can.
"Why, what brings that enormous tin can here? You might as well bring
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Andy, retreating. In two minutes more
Andy came back, and, tapping at the door, put in his head cautiously.
HOW ANDY BROUGHT HIS MASTER'S
HOT WATER IN THE MORNING
"The maids in the kitchen, your honor, say there's not so much hot water
"Did I not see it a moment since in your hand?"
"Yes, sir; but that's not nigh the full o' the stable-bucket."
"Go along, you stupid thief, and get me some hot water directly."
"Will the can do, sir?"
"Ay, anything, so you make haste."
Off posted Andy, and back he came with the can.
"Where'll I put it, sir?"
"Throw this out," said the squire, handing Andy a jug containing some
cold water, meaning the jug to be replenished with the hot.
Andy took the jug, and the window of the room being open, he very
deliberately threw the jug out. The squire stared with wonder, and at
"What did you do that for?"
"Sure, you towld me to throw it out, sir."
"Go out of this, you thick-headed villain," said the squire, throwing
his boots at Andy's head; whereupon Andy retreated, and, like all stupid
people, thought himself a very ill-used person.
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN ANDY
OPENED A BOTTLE OF SODA AT
Andy was soon the laughing-stock of the household. When, for example, he
first saw silver forks he declared that "he had never seen a silver
spoon split that way before." When told to "cut the cord" of a
soda-water bottle on one occasion when the squire was entertaining a
number of guests at dinner, he "did as he was desired."
He happened at that time to hold the bottle on the level with the
candles that shed light over the festive board from a large silver
branch, and the moment he made the incision, bang went the bottle of
soda, knocking out two of the lights with the projected cork, which
struck the squire himself in the eye at the foot of the table; while the
hostess, at the head, had a cold bath down her back. Andy, when he saw
the soda-water jumping out of the bottle, held it from him at arm's
length, at every fizz it made, exclaiming: "Ow! Ow! Ow!" and at last,
when the bottle was empty, he roared out: "Oh, oh, it's all gone!"
Great was the commotion. Few could resist laughter, except the ladies,
who all looked at their gowns, not liking the mixture of satin and
soda-water. The extinguished candles were relighted, the squire got his
eyes open again, and the next time he perceived the butler sufficiently
near to speak to him, he said, in a low and hurried tone of deep anger,
while he knit his brow:
"Send that fellow out of the room." Suspended from indoor service, Andy
was not long before he distinguished himself out of doors in such a way
as to involve his master in a coil of trouble, and, incidentally, to
retard the good fortune that came to himself in the end.
THE SQUIRE SENDS ANDY TO THE
POST-OFFICE FOR A LETTER
The squire said to him one day:
"Ride into the town and see if there's a letter for me."
"Yes, sir," said Andy.
"Do you know where to go?" inquired his master.
"To the town, sir," was the reply.
"But do you know where to go in the town?"
"And why don't you ask, you stupid thief?"
"Sure, I'd find out, sir."
"Didn't I often tell you to ask what you're to do when you don't know?"
"And why don't you?"
"I don't like to be troublesome, sir."
"Confound you!" said the squire, though he could not help laughing at
Andy's excuse for remaining in ignorance. "Well, go to the post-office.
You know the post-office, I suppose?" continued his master in sarcastic
"Yes, sir; where they sell gunpowder."
"You're right for once," said the squire--for his Majesty's postmaster
was the person who had the privilege of dealing in the aforesaid
combustible. "Go, then, to the post-office, and ask for a letter for me.
Remember, not gunpowder, but a letter."
"Yes, sir," said Andy, who got astride of his hack, and trotted away to
On arriving at the shop of the postmaster (for that person carried on a
brisk trade in groceries, gimlets, broadcloth, and linen-drapery), Andy
presented himself at the counter, and said:
"I want a letther, sir, if you plaze."
"Who do you want it for?" said the postmaster, in a tone which Andy
considered an aggression upon the sacredness of private life. So Andy,
in his ignorance and pride, thought the coolest contempt he could throw
upon the prying impertinence of the postmaster was to repeat his
ANDY HAS A VERY FOOLISH QUARREL
WITH THE POSTMASTER
"I want a letther, sir, if you plaze."
"And who do you want it for?" repeated the postmaster.
"What's that to you?" said Andy.
The postmaster, laughing at his simplicity, told him he could not tell
what letter to give him unless he told him the direction.
"The directions I got was to get a letther here--that's the directions."
"Who gave you those directions?"
"And who's your master?"
"What consarn is that of yours?"
"Why, you stupid rascal, if you don't tell me his name, how can I give
you a letter?"
"You could give it if you liked; but you're fond of axin' impident
questions, bekase you think I'm simple."
"Go along out o' this! Your master must be as great a goose as yourself,
to send such a messenger."
"Bad luck to your impidence!" said Andy. "Is it Squire Egan you dare to
say goose to?"
"Oh, Squire Egan's your master, then?"
"Yes. Have you anything to say agin it?"
"Only that I never saw you before."
"Faith, then, you'll never see me agin if I have my own consint."
"I won't give you any letter for the squire unless I know you're his
servant. Is there any one in the town knows you?"
"Plenty," said Andy. "It's not every one is as ignorant as you."
WHY ANDY WOULD NOT PAY ELEVEN
PENCE FOR A LETTER
Just at this moment a person to whom Andy was known entered the house,
who vouched to the postmaster that he might give Andy the squire's
letter. "Have you one for me?"
"Yes, sir," said the postmaster, producing one. "Fourpence."
The gentleman paid the fourpence postage (the story, it must be
remembered, belongs to the earlier half of the last century, before the
days of the penny post), and left the shop with his letter.
"Here's a letter for the squire," said the postmaster. "You've to pay me
"What 'ud I pay elevenpence for?"
"Get out wid you! Didn't I see you give Mr. Durfy a letther for
fourpence this minit, and a bigger letther than this? And now you want
me to pay elevenpence for this scrap of a thing? Do you think I'm a
"No; but I'm sure of it," said the postmaster.
"Well, you're welkum, to be sure; but don't be delayin' me now. Here's
fourpence for you, and gi' me the letther."
"Go along, you stupid thief!" (the word "thief" was often used in
Ireland in the humorous way we sometimes use the word "rascal") said the
postmaster, taking up the letter, and going to serve a customer with a
WHY ANDY WENT BACK TO THE
SQUIRE WITHOUT HIS LETTER
While this person and many others were served, Andy lounged up and down
the shop, every now and then putting in his head in the middle of the
customers and saying:
"Will you gi' me the letther?"
He waited for above half an hour, and at last left, when he found it
impossible to get common justice for his master, which he thought he
deserved as well as another man; for, under this impression, Andy
determined to give no more than the fourpence. The squire, in the
meantime, was getting impatient for his return, and when Andy made his
appearance, asked if there was a letter for him.
"There is, sir," said Andy.
"Then give it to me."
"I haven't it, sir."
"What do you mean?"
"He wouldn't give it to me, sir."
"Who wouldn't give it to you?"
ANDY IS SENT BACK TO THE POST-OFFICE
BY HIS ANGRY MASTER
"That owld chate beyant in the town--wanting to charge double for it."
"Maybe it's a double letter. Why didn't you pay what he asked, sir?"
"Arrah, sir, why would I let you be chated? It's not a double letther at
all; not above half the size o' one Mr. Durfy got before my face for
"You'll provoke me to break your neck some day, you vagabond! Ride back
for your life, and pay whatever he asks, and get me the letter."
"Why, sir, I tell you he was sellin' them before my face for fourpence
"Go back, you scoundrel, or I'll horsewhip you; and if you're longer
than an hour, I'll have you ducked in the horsepond!"
Andy vanished, and made a second visit to the post-office. When he
arrived two other persons were getting letters, and the postmaster was
selecting the epistles for each from a large parcel that lay before him
on the counter. At the same time many shop customers were waiting to be
"I've come for that letther," said Andy.
"I'll attend to you by and by."
"The masther's in a hurry."
"Let him wait till his hurry's over."
"He'll murther me if I'm not back soon."
"I'm glad to hear it."
CALLED A "THIEF" IN JEST, ANDY DOES
A LITTLE THIEVING IN EARNEST
While the postmaster went on with such provoking answers to these
appeals for despatch, Andy's eye caught the heap of letters which lay on
the counter. So, while certain weighing of soap and tobacco was going
forward, he contrived to become possessed of two letters from the heap,
and, having effected that, waited patiently enough until it was the
great man's pleasure to give him the missive directed to his master.
Then did Andy bestride his hack, and, in triumph at his trick on the
postmaster, rattled along the road homeward as fast as the beast could
carry him. He came into the squire's presence; his face beaming with
delight, and an air of self-satisfied superiority in his manner, quite
unaccountable to his master, until he pulled forth his hand, which had
been grubbing up his prizes from the bottom of his pocket, and, holding
three letters over his head while he said: "Look at that!" he next
slapped them down under his broad fist on the table before the squire,
"Well, if he did make me pay elevenpence, I brought your honor the worth
o' your money, anyhow."
Now, the letter addressed to the squire was from his law-agent, and
concerned an approaching election in the county. His old friend, Mr.
Gustavus O'Grady, the master of Neck-or-Nothing Hall, was, it appeared,
working in the interest of the honorable Sackville Scatterbrain, and
against Squire Egan.
THE TROUBLE THAT CAME OF ANDY'S
FAMOUS VISITS TO THE POST-OFFICE
This unexpected information threw him into a great rage, in the midst
of which his eye caught sight of one of the letters Andy had taken
from the post-office. This was addressed to Mr. O'Grady, and as it
bore the Dublin postmark, Mr. Egan yielded to the temptation of making
the letter gape at its extremities--this was before the days of the
envelope--and so read its contents, which were highly uncomplimentary to
the reader. As Mr. O'Grady was much in debt financially to Mr. Egan, the
latter decided to put all the pressure of the law upon his one-time
friend, and, to save trouble with the authorities, destroyed both of the
stolen letters and pledged Andy to secrecy.
Neck-or-Nothing Hall was carefully guarded from intruders, and Mr.
Egan's agent, Mr. Murphy, greatly doubted if it would be possible to
serve its master with a writ. Our friend Andy, however, unconsciously
solved the difficulty.
Being sent over to the law-agent's for the writ, and at the same time
bidden to call at the apothecary's for a prescription, he managed to mix
up the two documents, leaving the writ, without its accompanying letter,
at the apothecary's, whence it was duly forwarded to Neck-or-Nothing
Hall with certain medicines for Mr. O'Grady, who was then lying ill in
bed. The law-agent's letter, in its turn, was brought to Squire Egan by
Andy, together with a blister which was meant for Mr. O'Grady. Imagine
the recipient's anger when he read the following missive and, on opening
the package it was with, found a real and not a figurative blister:
"MY DEAR SQUIRE: I send you the blister for O'Grady as you insist on it;
but I think you won't find it easy to serve him with it.
"Your obedient and obliged,
The result in his case was a hurried ride to the law-agent's and the
administration to that devoted personage of a severe hiding. This was
followed by a duel, in which, happily, neither combatant was hurt. Then,
after the firing, satisfactory explanations were made. On Mr. O'Grady's
part, there was an almost simultaneous descent upon the unsuspecting
apothecary, and the administration to the man of drugs and blisters of a
terrible drubbing. Next a duel was arranged between the two old friends.
Andy again distinguished himself.
HOW ANDY WAS FINALLY DISCHARGED
FROM THE SERVICE OF SQUIRE EGAN
When his employer's second was not looking, Andy thought he would do
Squire Egan a good turn by inserting bullets in his pistols before they
were loaded. The intention of Andy was to give Mr. Egan the advantage of
double bullets, but the result was that, when the weapons were loaded,
Andy's bullets lay between the powder and the touch-hole. Mr. O'Grady
missed his aim twice, and Mr. Egan missed his fire. The cause being
discovered, Andy was unmercifully chased and punished by the second, and
ignominiously dismissed from Mr. Egan's service.
By an accident, Andy shortly afterward was the means of driving a Mr.
Furlong to Squire Egan's place instead of to Squire O'Grady's. Mr.
Furlong was an agent from Dublin Castle, whose commission it was to aid
the cause of the Honorable Mr. Scatterbrain. Of course, Andy, when he
was told, on taking the place of the driver of the vehicle in which
Mr. Furlong was traveling, to drive this important personage to "the
squire's," at once jumped to the conclusion that by "the squire's" was
meant Mr. Egan's. Here, before the mistake was found out by the victim,
Mr. Furlong was unburdened of much important information. While this
process was going on at Mr. Egan's, a hue and cry was on foot at Mr.
O'Grady's, for the lost Mr. Furlong, and poor, blundering Andy was
arrested and charged with murdering him.
ANOTHER OF ANDY'S BLUNDERS HAS
A HAPPY RESULT FOR HIS OLD MASTER
He was soon set free and taken into Mr. O'Grady's service when Mr.
Furlong had made his appearance before the owner of Neck-or-Nothing
Hall. But a clever rascal named Larry Hogan divined by accident and the
help of his native wit the secret of the stolen letters, and Andy was
forced by terror to flee from Neck-or-Nothing Hall.
His subsequent adventures took him through the heat of the election, at
which his ingenuity was displayed in unwittingly stopping up the mouth
of the trumpet on which the Honorable Mr. Scatterbrain's supporters
relied to drown Mr. Egan's speeches and those of his men. He thus did a
good turn to his old master without knowing it, having merely imitated
the action of the trumpeter, who had pretended to cork up the instrument
before momentarily laying it aside.
When his fortunes seemed to be at their lowest ebb, Andy was discovered
to be the rightful heir to the Scatterbrain title and estates, his
claims to which were set forth in the second of the two letters stolen
from the post-office, which had been destroyed by the squire without his
ANDY TURNS OUT TO BE OF GENTLE
BIRTH AND COMES INTO HIS OWN
Soon afterward, through his old master's influence, Andy was taken to
London, and by dint of much effort remedied many of the defects of his
early education. Then, marrying his cousin, Onoah, who had shared his
mother's cabin in the old days, and to save whom from a desperado Andy
had, this time knowingly, braved great personal danger, our hero settled
down to the enjoyment of a life such as he had never dreamed of in his