Part 4 out of 5
But before she could proceed further in her little speech the narrow
door which gave access to the house was thrown open and Mary Nolan
appeared upon the scene.
"Elleney, you're to--" she was beginning, when she suddenly stopped,
and, to use her own expression, "let a yell" that brought her aunt and
cousins in tumult to the scene.
"I couldn't for the life o' me help it," she explained as they crowded
round her. "When I had the door opened who did I see but
himself"--designating Brian--"with his impident arm round Elleney's
waist--the bould little scut!"
"Sure, I didn't ax him to put it there," protested Elleney, beginning
to cry; "I didn't rightly know what he was doin'."
"Ladies," said the suitor, "don't disthress yourselves. There wasn't a
ha'porth of harm in it--me arm was in the right place. I come here by
my father's wish an' with your consent, ma'am, to choose one o' your
family for my wife. Me clargy wouldn't let me marry the whole of yez,
so I have to be content with one, an' I'm after choosin' this one."
Juliana laughed shrilly and ironically, and Henrietta clapped her
hands together; the rest stood round with stony faces, except Nanny,
who cast a dubious and compassionate glance at Elleney.
"Lord save us!" ejaculated Mrs. McNally, when she had recovered her
wits, "I never thought o' such a thing. I had a right to have told
ye--it's a mistake. Me poor young man, come away with me an' I'll tell
"No mistake at all, ma'am," Brian was beginning, with a bright
backward glance at Elleney; but Mrs. McNally clutched him by the arm,
looking so much disturbed the while, that the words died on his lips,
and he suffered himself to be drawn along the passage and into the
parlour. The others also melted away with many scornful murmurs and
withering glances, all except Nanny, who hurled herself round the
counter and caught Elleney in her arms.
"With his impident arm round Elleney's waist"]
"Ye poor misfortunate innicent!" she exclaimed. "Why didn't ye tell
him ye weren't rightly one o' the family?"
"He didn't give me time," faltered Elleney; adding with more spirit,
"Besides, what matter if it's me he likes the best?"
"Bless us an' save us!" groaned Nanny; "sure how can ye get married
when ye haven't so much as a one pound note o' your own?"
"Do you think he didn't know?" gasped Elleney, looking very blank.
"Not a know," responded Nanny, with decision. "My mother had a right
to have told him, but some way not one of us dreamed of him thinkin'
of you. Sure, girl alive, if _he_ was willin' itself, his father 'ud
never agree to his havin' ye."
"I s'pose not," said Elleney; "but ye don't know all he's afther
sayin' to me, Nanny."
"Och, divil doubt him!" exclaimed Nanny, with a vexed laugh. "Sure,
that's the way they all does be goin' on. If ye had more sense,
Elleney, me dear, ye'd know how to be up to them. Whisht!--here's
Poor Mrs. McNally's heavy foot was now heard hastening along the
passage, and in another minute she entered--alone, her kind face was
all puckered up with concern, and at first sight of it Elleney knew
exactly how matters stood. She disengaged herself from Nanny and went
quietly up to her aunt.
"I hope you explained to him that I didn't rightly understand what he
was sayin'," she observed with a certain childish dignity that took
the others by surprise. "It was all a mistake, of course, but there's
no great harm done."
"Not a bit of harm at all, me dear," groaned Mrs. McNally. "Not a bit
of harm in the world--only for the disappointment."
"No disappointment," returned Elleney; her eyes were steady, though
that red under-lip of hers would quiver; "no disappointment, a'nt, I
hope. He'll be sure to pick out one of the girls, won't he?"
"I b'lieve so," answered Mrs. McNally, propping herself against the
counter. "He's afther tellin' me his father 'ud be the death of him
"Sure that's all right," interrupted her niece. "Nanny, you ought to
go and see to him."
"Do, Nanny," said the mother. "He was askin' for you."
"Then he may ask away," retorted Nanny. "Do ye remember the story o'
the Connaught woman who said 'Purse, will ye have him?' when the
fellow made up to her for her money. My purse says 'No.' Let him try
Juliana. Is that the bar bell ringing?"
"Aye, it is; ye'd best be off an' see what's wanted. Bridget and Mary
is so taken up with that young fellow I declare they don't know
whether they're on their heads or their heels."
"Aye, indeed," cried Anna Maria with her jolly laugh. "I seen them
prancin' round him like a couple o' goats, as old as they are."
She vanished, and Mrs. McNally also went away.
Some time later Pat Rooney entered the shop, bearing a large tray of
newly-baked loaves. His face wore a solemn, not to say sulky,
expression, and he looked neither to right nor to left. Before he had
finished piling up the loaves in their allotted corner, however, a
suspicious sound attracted his attention, and he turned reluctantly
round. A small figure was crouching in the darkest angle of the "dress
department," with its apron over its head.
"Is it cryin' ye are?" said Pat sternly.
For all answer Elleney sobbed afresh.
The young man drew nearer, and Elleney tilted up one elbow as a hint
to him to keep his distance.
"Bedad, ye have no right to be cryin'," remarked Pat in a withering
tone. "It was the other way wid ye altogether when I looked in through
the door a while ago, on my way back from me dinner. If I hadn't seen
it wid me own two eyes," he added with scornful severity, "I wouldn't
have believed it was you that was in it at all."
Elleney jerked down her apron, and looked up with eyes that blazed
beneath their swollen lids.
"How dar' ye speak to me that way?" she cried.
Pat snorted: "To be sure I've no right to say a word at all," he
returned, with wrathful irony. "A poor fellow like meself has no call
to have any feelin's--but ye might have knocked me down with a feather
when I seen that strange chap with his arm about your waist."
"Oh Pat!" gasped Elleney, and overcome with shame and woe, she burst
into fresh tears, and buried her face in the unresponsive folds of a
linsey-woolsey petticoat which dangled from a peg beside her.
Pat immediately melted.
"Amn't I the terrible ould ruffian to go upsettin' ye that way!" he
groaned remorsefully. "There now, Miss Elleney, don't mind me. I'm not
meself to-day. I'm a regular ould gomeril. Sure it had to come sooner
or later. It's meself knew very well I'd have to stan' by and see ye
carried off some fine day by whoever was lucky enough to get ye. Some
fellows has all the luck in this world, and maybe they're no better
nor others that hasn't any luck at all."
But Elleney scarcely heeded the latter part of this speech; it seemed
to her she could never lift up her head again. Pat knew--Pat had seen!
"Oh dear," she sobbed inarticulately, after a pause, "I think I'll die
with the shame of it. I don't know how I come to let him do it at all,
but I didn't rightly know--I didn't think--an'--an' he said he was so
fond of me an' 'twas me he wanted for his wife."
"Faith," retorted Pat, "it's himself's the gentleman doesn't let the
grass grow under his feet--an' why would he? Well, alanna," he
continued in an altered tone, "don't be frettin' yourself anyway.
Bedad, I wouldn't blame--"
"Ah, but I blame myself," interrupted Elleney, wringing her poor
little hands. "I'll--I'll never look up again afther the disgrace he's
afther puttin' on me. Sure 'twas all a mistake--he thought I was one
of the family, an' when me a'nt tould him the way it is with me, he
just tossed me away the same as an ould shoe. I b'lieve he's makin' up
to Juliana now."
Pat emitted a kind of roar, but, before he could ventilate his
feelings further, the door communicating with the house was quickly
opened and Mr. Brian Brennan walked in.
"Are ye there, darlint?" he inquired, in a tone of melancholy
tenderness; "I'm just come to tell ye the poor case I'm in--"
"Then ye'll be in a poorer case in something less than no time if ye
don't behave yourself, me brave young gentleman!" cried a choked voice
in his ear, and almost before he could realise what was taking place,
Brian Brennan found his six-foot length laid low upon the dusty shop
floor, while his beautiful head of hair rolled aimlessly about amid a
collection of boots and tin buckets. Pat Rooney was sitting on his
chest, his knees pinioning his arms, and clutching each of his broad
shoulders with a vigorous hand. He was not half the size of the
prostrate giant, but love and fury lent him unnatural strength. His
flour-bedecked face worked convulsively, his eyes gleamed under their
Elleney uttered a stifled scream, and then stood transfixed with
"Ye passed your word to Miss Elleney a while ago that it was her ye'd
have for your wife," said Pat firmly. "Are ye goin' to stick to your
promise or are ye not?"
"Get up out o' that, ye ruffian," spluttered Brian. "What business is
it of yours anyway?"
"Ruffian yourself!" said Pat. And he heaved up Mr. Brennan's shoulders
a little way, and then loosed his hold suddenly, so that the fine
curly head bumped once more against the tin pails. "Will ye gi' me a
straight answer, or will ye not?"
"I'll pay ye out for this when I get upon my legs!" growled Brian. "As
for that young lady, she knows very well I can't--"
"Ye can't what?" cried Pat, rolling a threatening eye at him.
"I can't keep my word," said Mr. Brennan, with as much dignity as was
compatible with his position.
"Ye mean ye won't, I s'pose," remarked Pat, with ominous calm.
"Well, then, I won't!" shouted Brian, heaving himself up at the same
time with a futile attempt to rid himself of his adversary.
"Ah!" retorted Pat, tightening his grasp on the powerless shoulders,
and repeating his previous manoeuvre with such success that his victim
saw a multitude of stars. "Ye won't, won't ye? No; but ye will!--I
tell ye, ye will! Ye will, me fine gentleman!"
With each reiteration of the phrase the unfortunate Brian's head
received fresh damage, and Pat, who was warming to his work, had just
announced that he was going to give Mr. Brian the finest thrashing he
ever had in his life, when Elleney, who had hitherto been petrified
with alarm and amazement, rushed to the rescue.
"In the name o' goodness, Pat Rooney," she cried, in a voice that
trembled as much with anger as with fear, "get up this minute! It's
"Never fear, Miss Elleney, asthore!" cried Pat triumphantly, baring
his arms the while for action. "Run away out o' this while I tache him
manners! The dirty spalpeen! He'll not have it all his own way,
anyhow. I'll give him a trimmin'!"
"I forbid ye, Pat, to do any such thing!" cried Elleney, almost with a
shriek. "I declare I'm ashamed o' my life! Who gave you leave to go
mixin' up my name?--makin' so little of me? Oh dear! oh dear!" and the
poor child began to sob again. "What have I done to be disgraced an'
tormented that way!"
Her blue eyes were drowned in tears, her pretty cheeks blanched.
Pat sat back on his prostrate foe, and stared up at her with
astonished concern. Elleney sobbed louder than before, and Brian,
raising his voice, uttered a forcible expression of opinion.
"Bless us an' save us!" exclaimed a voice in the passage, and the
door, being thrown wide open, revealed the portly form and scandalised
face of no less a person than Mrs. McNally herself.
"Who is it that's cursin' an swearin' that way?" she began, but broke
off abruptly as she realised the scene within.
"Oh, a'nt, me heart's broke entirely!" cried Elleney, running to her,
and hiding her face on her ample shoulder.
Pat cleared his throat diffidently, insensibly relaxing his grip the
while, so that, with a slight effort, Brian was enabled to roll him on
to the floor, and to rise, looking very sheepish.
"Was it fightin' the two of yez was?" said Mrs. McNally severely.
"Sure, that's a disgrace. Look at your coat all over dust, Mr.
Brennan, and the big lump on your forehead risin' up the size of an
Brian squinted over his shoulder to ascertain the condition of his
coat, but being unable to carry out the rest of Mrs. McNally's
injunctions and survey the lump on his own forehead, he passed his
hand over it instead, and turned towards Pat with an expression of
"That fellow there was near bein' the death of me," he exclaimed.
"Musha! what is it all about at all?" queried Mrs. McNally. "Elleney,
quit cryin' an' tell me what happened ye? What was that impident
fellow Pat doin' rollin' Mr. Brennan on the floor?"
Elleney shook her head, and wept, and nearly throttled her aunt, but
entered on no explanation.
Quick steps were now heard in the passage, and Anna Maria burst in.
"What in the world is Elleney cryin' for?" she exclaimed; "an'
goodness gracious! look at Mr. Brennan, the show he is! Is it up the
chimney ye were? For the matter of that Pat isn't much better. What's
all this, m'mah?"
"I'm sure I couldn't tell ye, me dear," returned her mother. "I can't
get a word o' sense out of any of them. Brian Brennan here says that
Pat is afther bein' the death of him."
"Ah, then now," cried Anna Maria sarcastically, "isn't he very
delicate, the poor fellow, to be so near made an end of by a little
fellow half his size!"
"I was took by surprise," explained Mr. Brian, with dignity, "or I
could easy have settled him with one finger."
"Well, but what call had ye to go doin' it, Pat?" insisted Anna Maria.
"'Twasn't your place to go knocking a visitor down, I think."
"I'm very sorry, miss, if ye think I'm afther takin' a liberty,"
returned Pat firmly; "but I'd knock any man down who went to insult
Elleney dropped her arms from her aunt's neck and whisked round, her
blue eyes blazing through her tears.
"I'll thank ye not to be mixin' yerself up with my business at all,
Pat Rooney. Nobody asked you to meddle."
"Was it Mr. Brennan ye were cryin' about, me poor child?" said Mrs.
McNally, in a compassionate but distinctly audible whisper.
Brian shot a melting glance towards her.
"Upon me word," he was beginning plaintively, when Elleney interrupted
him with a little shriek of exasperation, and a stamp of her foot.
"Oh dear, oh dear, everything is contrairy this day! I'd have ye to
know, Mr. Brennan, that I'd be long sorry to cry for you--if ye was to
go down on your two knees I'd never have ye! I know the kind o' young
man ye are now, an' I'll not fret after ye. I couldn't help cryin' at
first at the disrespectful way ye were afther treatin' me, but I
wouldn't have anything to say to ye now for the whole world."
"Well done!" cried Pat approvingly, while Anna Maria giggled.
"Maybe there's others that thinks different," said Brian in a nettled
"Oh yes," put in Anna Maria quickly, "her elders and betters--was that
what you were goin' to say? Juliana's to be had, Mr. Brian. She'd be a
mother to ye."
"Upon me word, Nanny," said Mrs. McNally, "it doesn't become ye to be
talkin' that way of your elder sister."
"Sure, what harm?" responded Nanny blithely. "All I said was she'd be
a mother to him. Sure, what could be better than that?"
Brian, with all his faults, was gifted with a sense of humour, and
looked at Anna Maria with a twinkle in his eye.
"Bedad," he said, "I've that much respect for Miss Juliana I'd be
afraid o' me life to ask her to put up with me."
"Well, there's Bridget then," said Nanny. "Bridget's a fine girl, an'
she's got a fine fortun', an' the whole of us knows that's what
_you're_ lookin' afther, Mr. Brian."
"I wouldn't say that altogether," said Brian, stammering a little.
"Yous all know the way it is with me. 'Tis me father that's makin' the
match for me, and I have to choose one of the family. No one can feel
more sorry nor I do for the unfort'nate mistake I'm afther makin'; I
went altogether too quick, and I was very much to blame. I'm sure I ax
Miss Elleney's pardon."
Elleney made a little inarticulate rejoinder, and turned away. Pat
looked daggers at his whilom victim, and Mrs. McNally, folding her
arms, looked sternly round.
"The less said about some things the better," she remarked. "Mr.
Brian, I'll trouble ye to go into the parlour--ye'd best go with him
too, Nanny; all the girls are there."
"Will ye step up to the show-room?" said Nanny, with a giggle.
"Troth," returned Brian, who was now in some measure recovering his
self-possession, "I think the best o' the stock is what I'm afther
seein' in the shop."
He followed her out of the room, and a slight scuffle was presently
heard in the passage. Mrs. McNally solemnly closed the door, and came
back to Pat and Elleney, who stood looking equally downcast and
"I'd like to know, Pat Rooney," she said, gazing at the young man
sternly, "what talk at all this is between you and me niece? What
business is it o' yours to interfere? I don't understand it at all,
Elleney--I'm very much put about--"
"It's no fault of Miss Elleney's, ma'am," said Pat quickly. "She'd
nothin' to say to it at all. I forgot meself altogether. When I seen
that fellow makin' little of a chance that I'd give the two eyes out
o' my head for--"
"O Pat, whisht for goodness sake!" interrupted Elleney. "Ye oughtn't
to be talkin' like that."
"Sure I know that very well, Miss Elleney, darlint--I know I might
just as well be cryin' for the moon. But the murder's out now, an'
'pon me word I'm glad of it. I couldn't stop here the way I am--I'd go
mad altogether. I'll throuble ye to look out for another boy, Mrs.
McNally, ma'am--I wish to leave in a week's time."
Mrs. McNally gasped.
"Isn't it the great fool you are, Pat Rooney, to go give up your good
place for a stupid notion like this? Ye know Miss Elleney 'ud never
demean herself to you."
"Ay, ma'am, I know she looks on me as the dirt under her feet."
"Then stop where ye are," said Mrs. McNally, comfortably. "You're a
very good boy when you don't let your wits go wool-gatherin'. As for
my niece, she's no notion of encouragin' any nonsense--have ye,
Elleney's long lashes were downcast, and she nervously twisted her
"Sure ye haven't, dear?" said her aunt persuasively. "Tell the poor
foolish fellow that ye haven't, an' then he'll be puttin' it
altogether out of his head."
Elleney raised her eyes and looked at Pat, and then dropped them
"He's the only one in the wide world that cares for me," she said,
with a quivering lip.
"Bless us and save us!" gasped Mrs. McNally. "If that's the way it is,
Pat, ye'd best be off with yourself."
Pat turned as red as a cherry, and then as white as his own flour.
"Miss Elleney, dear," he whispered, "d'ye know what ye're sayin'? D'ye
know I'm such a great big fool that I'm beginning to think the most
outrageous nonsense. I'll be beginnin' to think soon, me jewel, that
ye might some day be gettin' a bit fond o' me, an' maybe say Yes when
I ax ye a question. Sure ye didn't think of that, alanna?"
"Will ye whisht, ye impident fellow?" cried Mrs. McNally angrily. "Of
course she thought o' no such thing."
Elleney turned her sweet eyes deprecatingly towards her aunt, and
murmured very faintly--
"I don't know--I--I think I did."
* * * * *
Half-an-hour afterwards Mrs. McNally entered the parlour with a
dubious, almost timid, expression on her good-natured face. Most of
her family was gathered round the hearth, talking in muffled tones,
and with gloomy countenances. Behind the window-curtain Brian Brennan
and Anna Maria were tittering together. Mrs. McNally jerked her thumb
inquiringly over her shoulder, and raised her eyebrows.
"Is that the way it is?" she whispered.
"You'd better ask them," returned Juliana, with her nose in the air.
Bridget sniffed audibly.
"She reg'larly thrun herself at his head," said Mary spitefully.
"Did I indeed?" said Nanny, emerging from behind the window-curtain.
"Brian here could tell yous a different story. He's been beggin' an'
prayin' this half-hour, an' I haven't give him an answer yet."
"Ah, but you will!" said Brian, with an ingratiating smile.
"If I do then it 'ull be for the sake of servin' you out. Ye never
heard the like of the life I'll be leadin' ye. Ye'll only be sorry
once, an' that'll be for ever."
"I'll risk that," said Brian gallantly.
"Well, well, well," said Mrs. McNally, clapping her hands; "so it's to
be you, Nanny! 'Pon me word it rains weddin's this evenin'. I don't
know whether I'm on me head or me heels. There's Elleney,
now--nothin'll serve her but to go takin' up with Pat Rooney."
"Pat Rooney!" exclaimed Anna Maria, while the rest of the family
echoed the name in varying tones of shrill disapproval.
"Aye, indeed," said Mrs. McNally, dropping into a chair.
"Pat Rooney. Her mind's made up, it seems, and 'pon me word, though I
thought she'd have looked higher, I can't altogether blame the girl.
Sure what sort of a husband can she expect, and her without a penny?
An old widower maybe, or maybe a fellow with one leg. Pat's gettin'
good wages, an' the two of them were talkin' o' takin' that little
thatched cabin just out of the town--"
"A cabin!" said Juliana, and began to turn up her eyes, and to make a
strange clucking noise in her throat.
"For goodness' sake, Ju, don't be goin' off in highsterics," cried
Nanny quickly. "Sure what matter if 'tis a cabin itself! I'll engage
she'll keep it as clean as a new pin--and she's a great hand at her
needle, so she is. Sure she'll be able to do dressmakin' for the
"An' of course," said Mrs. McNally, casting a deprecating glance round
at the irate faces, "we mustn't forget she doesn't rightly belong to
the family. Tis no disgrace to us at all, an' really an' truly, girls,
I'm almost glad to think she's comfortably settled."
"To be sure," said Bridget, "she's no relation at all to any of us. A
little girl that me a'nt took in out of charity. Why wouldn't she
marry the baker--"
"My blessin' to her!" said Mary sourly.
Juliana left off clucking, and smiled sarcastically. "She isn't
breakin' her heart after you, Mr. Brian, at any rate," she remarked.
"She wasn't long in getting over her disappointment."
"I must say I didn't think she'd make so little of herself," he
returned, drawing himself up.
"How d'ye like that, Nanny?" said Juliana spitefully. "I declare Mr.
Brian's quite upset."
"Ah, the poor fellow, is he?" said Anna Maria, whose good-humour was
imperturbable. "I declare I'll have to get married to him now if it's
only to comfort him."
And thereupon she burst into a hearty laugh, in which Brian Brennan
IN ST. PATRICK'S WARD
It was intensely, suffocatingly hot, though the windows on either side
of the long room were wide open; the patients lay languidly watching
the flies on the ceiling, the sunshine streaming over the ochre-tinted
wall, the flickering light of the little lamp which burned night and
day beneath the large coloured statue of St. Patrick in the centre of
the ward. It was too hot even to talk. Granny M'Gee--who, though not
exactly ill, was old and delicate enough to be permitted to remain
permanently in the Union Infirmary instead of being relegated to the
workhouse proper--dozed in her wicker chair with her empty pipe
between her wrinkled fingers. Once, as she loved to relate, she had
burnt her lovely fringe with that same pipe--"bad luck to it!" but she
invariably hastened to add that her heart 'ud be broke out an' out if
it wasn't for the taste o' baccy. Her neighbour opposite was equally
fond of snuff, and was usually to be heard lamenting how she had
r'ared a fine fam'ly o' boys an' girls, and how notwithstanding she
had ne'er a wan to buy her a ha'porth in her ould age. Now, however,
for a wonder she was silent, and even the woman nearest the door found
it too hot to brandish her distorted wrists, according to her custom
when she wished to excite compassion or to plead for alms. There would
be no visitors this morning; not the most compassionate of "the
ladies," who came to read to and otherwise cheer the poor sufferers of
St. Patrick's ward, would venture there on such a day.
The buzzing of the flies aforesaid, the occasional moans of the more
feeble patients, the hurried breathing of a poor girl in the last
stage of consumption were the only sounds to be heard, except for the
quiet footsteps and gentle voice of Sister Louise. There was something
refreshing in the very sight of this tall slight figure, in its
blue-grey habit and dazzling white "cornette," from beneath which the
dark eyes looked forth with sweet and almost childish directness.
Sister Louise was not indeed much more than a child in years, and
there were still certain inflections in her voice, an elasticity in
her movements, a something about her very hands, with their little
pink palms and dimpled knuckles, that betrayed the fact. But those
babyish hands had done good service since Sister Louise had left the
novitiate in the Rue du Bac two years before; that young voice had a
marvellous power of its own, and could exhort and reprove as well as
soothe and console, and when the blue-robed figure was seen flitting
up and down the ward smiles appeared on wan and sorrowful faces, and
querulous murmurs were hushed. Even to-day the patients nodded to her
languidly as she passed, observing with transitory cheerfulness that
they were kilt with the hate, or that it was terrible weather
entirely. One crone raised herself sufficiently to remark that it was
a fine thing for the counthry, glory be to God! which patriotic
sentiment won a smile from Sister Louise, but failed to awaken much
enthusiasm in any one else.
The Sister of Charity paused before a bed in which a little, very thin
old woman was coiled up with eyes half closed. Mrs. Brady was the
latest arrival at St. Patrick's ward, having indeed only "come in" on
the preceding day, and Sister Louise thought she would very likely
need a little cheering.
"How are you to-day, Mrs. Brady!" she asked, bending over her.
"Why then indeed, ma'am--is it ma'am or Mother I ought to call ye?"
"'Sister'--we are all Sisters here, though some of the people call
Sister Superior 'Reverend Mother.'"
"Ah, that indeed?" said Mrs. Brady, raising herself a little in the
bed and speaking with great dignity, "Ye see yous are not the sort o'
nuns I'm used to, so you'll excuse me if I don't altogether spake the
way I ought. Our nuns down in the Queen's County has black veils ye
know, ma'am--Sisther I mane--an' not that kind of a white bonnet that
you have on your head."
"Well, do you know our patients here get quite fond of our white wings
as they call them?" returned Sister Louise, smiling. "But you haven't
told me how you are, yet. Better, I hope, and pretty comfortable."
A tear suddenly rolled down Mrs. Brady's cheek, but she preserved her
"Ah yes, thank ye, Sisther, as comfortable as I could expect in a
place like this. Of course I niver thought it's here' I'd be, but it's
on'y for a short time, thanks be to God! My little boy'll be comin'
home from America soon to take me out of it."
"Why, that's good news!" cried the Sister cheerfully. "We must make
you quite well and strong--that is as strong as we can"--with a
compassionate glance, "by the time he comes. When do you expect him?"
"Any day now, ma'am--Sisther, I mane--aye, indeed, I may say any day
an' every day, an' I'm afeard his heart'll be broke findin' me in this
place. But no matther!"
Here she shook her head darkly, as though she could say much on that
subject, but refrained out of consideration for Sister Louise.
"Well, we must do all we can for you meanwhile," said the latter
gently. "Have you made acquaintance with your neighbours yet? Poor
Mrs. M'Evoy here is worse off than you, for she can't lift her head
just now. Tell Mrs. Brady how it was you hurt your back, Mrs. M'Evoy."
"Bedad, Sisther, ye know yerself it was into the canal I fell wid a
can o' milk," said the old woman addressed, squinting fearfully in her
efforts to catch a glimpse of the new patient. "The Bishop says the
last time he come round, 'I s'pose,' he says, 'ye were goin' to put
wather in the milk.' 'No,' says I, 'there was wather enough in it
Here Mrs. M'Evoy leered gleefully up at the Sister, and one or two
feeble chuckles were heard from the neighbouring beds; but Mrs. Brady
assumed an attitude which can only be described as one implying a
mental drawing away of skirts, and preserved an impenetrable gravity.
Evidently she had never associated with "the like" of Mrs. M'Evoy in
the circles in which she had hitherto moved.
"And there's Kate Mahony on the other side," pursued Sister Louise,
without appearing to notice Mrs. Brady's demeanour. "She has been
lying here for seventeen years; haven't you, Kate?"
"Aye, Sisther," said Kate, a thin-faced sweet-looking woman of about
forty, looking up brightly.
"Poor Kate!" said the Sister in a caressing tone. "You must get Kate
to tell you her story some time, Mrs. Brady. She has seen better days
"Oh, that indeed?" said Mrs. Brady, distantly but politely, and with a
dawning interest; "I s'pose you are from the country then, like
"Ah no, ma'am," returned Kate. "I may say I was never three miles away
from town. I went into service when I was on'y a slip of a little
girl, an' lived with the wan lady till the rheumatic fever took me an'
made me what I am now. You're not from this town, I s'pose, ma'am."
"Indeed, I'd be long sorry to come from such a dirty place--beggin'
your pardon for sayin' it. No, indeed, I am from the Queen's County,
near Mar'boro'. We had the loveliest little farm there ye could see,
me an' me poor husband, the Lord ha' mercy on his soul! Aye, indeed,
it's little we ever thought--but no matther! Glory be to goodness! my
little boy'll be comin' back from America soon to take me out o'
"Sure it's well for ye," said Kate, "that has a fine son o' your own
to work for ye. Look at me without a crature in the wide world
belongin' to me! An' how long is your son in America, ma'am?"
"Goin' on two year now," said Mrs. Brady, with a sigh.
"He'll be apt to be writin' to ye often, I s'pose, ma'am."
"Why then, indeed, not so often. The poor fellow, he was niver much of
a hand at the pen. He's movin' about, ye see, gettin' work here an'
Sister Louise had moved on, seeing that the pair were likely to make
friends; and before ten minutes had elapsed each was in possession of
the other's history. Kate's, indeed, was simple enough; her seventeen
years in the infirmary being preceded by a quiet life in a very
uninteresting neighbourhood; but she "came of decent people," being
connected with "the rale ould O'Rorkes," and her father had been "in
business"; two circumstances which impressed Mrs. Brady very much, and
caused her to unbend towards "Miss Mahony," as she now respectfully
called her new acquaintance. The latter was loud in expressions of
admiration and sympathy as Mrs. Brady described the splendours of the
past; the servant-man and the servant-maid, who, according to her,
once formed portion of her establishment; the four beautiful milch
cows which her husband kept, besides sheep, and a horse an' car, and
"bastes" innumerable; the three little boys they buried, and then
Barney--Barney, the jewel, who was now in Amerika.
"The finest little fella ye'd see between this an' County Cork! Over
six fut, he is, an' wid a pair o' shoulders on him that ye'd think 'ud
hardly get in through that door beyant."
"Lonneys!" said Kate admiringly.
"Aye, indeed, an' ye ought to see the beautiful black curly head of
him, an' eyes like sloes, an' cheeks--why I declare"--half raising
herself and speaking with great animation, "he's the very moral o' St.
Patrick over there! God forgive me for sayin' such a thing, but raly
if I was to drop down dead this minute I couldn't but think it! Now I
assure ye, Miss Mahony, he's the very image of that blessed statye,
'pon me word!"
Miss Mahony looked appreciatively at the representation of the patron
of Ireland, which was remarkable no less for vigour of outline and
colouring than for conveying an impression of exceeding cheerfulness,
as both the saint himself and the serpent which was wriggling from
beneath his feet were smiling in the most affable manner conceivable.
"Mustn't he be the fine boy!" she ejaculated, after a pause. "I'd love
to see him--but I'll niver get a chanst o' that, I s'pose. Will he be
comin' here to see ye, ma'am?"
"He'll be comin' to take me out of it," returned the mother. "He
doesn't raly know I'm in it at all. I'll tell ye now the way it is.
When the poor father died--the light o' heaven to him--an' bad times
come, and we had to give up our own beautiful little place, Barney
brought me to town an' put me with Mrs. Byrne, a very nice respectable
woman that was married to a second cousin o' my poor husband's, an' I
was to stop with her till he came back from America with his fortune
made. Well," pursued Mrs. Brady, drawing in her breath with a sucking
sound, which denoted that she had come to an interesting part of her
narrative, "well, he kep' sendin' me money, ye know, a pound or maybe
thirty shillin' at a time--whenever he could, the poor boy, an' I was
able to work the sewin'-machine a little, an' so we made out between
us till I took this terrible bad turn. Well, of course troubles niver
comes single, an' the last letther I got from my poor little fella had
only fifteen shillin' in it, an' he towld me he had the bad luck
altogether, but, says he,'My dear mother, ye must on'y howld out the
best way ye can. There's no work to be got in this place at all' (New
York I think it was). 'But I am goin' out West,' says he, 'to a place
where I'm towld there's fortunes made in no time, so I'll be over wid
ye soon,' he says, 'wid a power o' money, an' I'm sure Mary Byrne'll
be a good friend to ye till then. The worst of it is,' he says, 'it's
a terrible wild outlandish place, and I can't be promisin' ye many
letthers, for God knows if there'll be a post-office in it at all,'
says he; 'but I'll be thinkin' of ye often, an' ye must keep up your
heart,' he says. Well," sucking up her breath again, "poor Mrs. Byrne
done all she could for me, but of course when it got to be weeks an'
months that I was on my back not able to do a hand's turn for meself,
an' no money comin' an' no sign o' Barney, what could she do, the
crature? One day Dr. Isaacs says to her, 'Mrs. Byrne,' says he, 'why
don't ye send poor Mrs. Brady to the Infirmary?' 'What Infirmary,
sir?' says she. 'The Union Infirmary,' says he; 'it's the on'y place
she's fit for except the Incurables in Dublin,' says he, 'an' I'm
afraid there's no chance for there.' 'Oh, docther, don't mention it!'
says poor Mrs. Byrne--she was telling me about it aftherwards. 'Is it
the Union? I wouldn't name it,' she says, 'to a decent respectable
woman like Mrs. Brady. She's a cousin by marriage o' me own,' she
says; 'I wouldn't _name_ it to her, I assure ye.' 'Just as you
please,' says Docther Isaacs. 'It 'ud be the truest kindness you could
do her all the same, for she'd get betther care and nourishment than
you could give her.' Well, poor Mrs. Byrne kep' turnin' it over in her
mind, but she raly couldn't bring herself to mention it, nor wouldn't,
on'y she was druv to it at the end, the crature, with me bein' ill so
long, an' the rent comin' so heavy on her an' all. So we settled it
between the two of us wan day, an' she passed me her word to bring me
Barney's letther--if e'er a wan comes--the very minute she gets it,
an' if he comes himself she says she won't let on where I am, all at
wanst, but she'll tell him gradual. Sometimes I do be very unaisy in
me mind, Miss Mahony, I assure ye, wondherin' what he'll say when he
hears. I'm afeared he'll be ready to kill me for bringin' such a
disgrace on him."
"Sure, what could ye do?" said Kate, a little tartly, for naturally
enough as "an inmate" of many years' standing, she did not quite like
her new friend's insistence on this point. "Troth, it's aisy talkin',
but it's not so aisy to starve. An' afther all, there's many a one
that's worse off nor us here, I can tell ye, especially since the
Sisthers come, God bless them, with their holy ways. How'd ye like to
be beyant at the ---- Union, where the nurses gobbles up all the
nourishment that's ordhered for the poor misfortunate cratures that's
in it, an leaves thim sthretched from mornin' till night without doin'
a hand's turn for them. Aye, an' 'ud go near to kill them if they
dar'd let on to the Docther. Sure, don't I know well how it was before
the Sisthers was here--we have different times now I can tell ye. Why,
that very statye o' St. Pathrick that ye were talkin' of a while ago,
wasn't it them brought it? An' there's St. Joseph over in the ward
fornenst this, an' St. Elizabeth an' the Holy Mother above. See that
now. Isn't it a comfort to be lookin' at them holy things, and to see
the blessed Sisthers come walkin' in in the mornin' wid a heavenly
smile for every one, an' their holy eyes lookin' into every hole an'
corner an' spyin' out what's wrong?"
"Aye, indeed," assented Mrs. Brady, a little faintly though, for
however grateful she might be, and comfortable in the main, there was
a bitterness in the thought of her "come down" that nothing could
She and her neighbour were excellent friends all the same, and she
soon shared Kate's enthusiasm for "the Sisthers," finding comfort
moreover in the discovery that Sister Louise understood and
sympathised with her feelings, and was willing to receive endless
confidences on the subject of the "little boy," and to discuss the
probability of his speedy advent with almost as much eagerness as
But all too soon it became evident that unless Barney made great haste
another than he would take Mrs. Brady "out of" the workhouse. Grim
death was approaching with rapid strides, and one day the priest found
her so weak that he told her he would come on the morrow to hear her
confession and to give her the last Sacraments.
Not one word did the old woman utter in reply. She lay there with her
eyes closed and her poor old face puckered up, unheeding all Kate
Mahony's attempts at consolation. These, though well meant, were
slightly inconsistent, as she now assured her friend that indeed it
was well for her, and asked who wouldn't be glad to be out o' that;
and in the next moment informed her that maybe when she was anointed
she might find herself cured out an' out, as many a wan had before
her, an' wasn't it well known that them that the priest laid his holy
hands on, as likely as not took a good turn immaydiate?
Later on Sister Louise bent over Mrs. Brady with gentle reassuring
"God knows best, you know," she said, at the end of her little homily;
"you will say 'His will be done,' won't you?"
"Sure Sisther, how can I?" whispered Mrs. Brady, opening her troubled
eyes; her face almost awful to look on in its grey pallor. "How can I
say 'His will be done' if I'm to die in the workhouse? An' me poor
little boy comin' as fast as he can across the say to take me out of
it, an' me breakin' my heart prayin' that I might live to see the day!
An' when he comes back he'll find the parish has me buried. Ah,
Sisther, how am I to resign meself at all? In the name o' God how _am_
I to resign meself?"
The tears began to trickle down her face, and Sister Louise cried a
little too for sympathy, and stroked Mrs. Brady's hand, and coaxed,
and cajoled, and soothed and preached to the very best of her ability;
and at the end left her patient quiet but apparently unconvinced.
It was with some trepidation that she approached her on the morrow.
Mrs. Brady's attitude was so unusual that she felt anxious and
alarmed. As a rule the Irish poor die calmly and peacefully, happy in
their faith and resignation; but this poor woman stood on the brink of
eternity with a heart full of bitterness, and a rebellious will.
Mrs. Brady's first words, however, reassured her.
"Sisther, I'm willin' now to say 'His will be done.'"
"Thank God for that," cried Sister Louise fervently.
"Aye. Well, wait till I tell ye. In the night when I was lying awake I
took to lookin' at St. Pathrick beyant, wid the little lamp flickerin'
an' flickerin' an' shinin' on his face, an' I thought o' Barney, an'
that I'd niver see him agin, an' I burst out cryin'. 'Oh, St
Pathrick!' says I, 'how'll I ever be able to make up my mind to it at
all?' An' St. Pathrick looked back at me rale wicked. An' 'Oh,' says I
again, 'God forgive me, but sure how can I help it?' An' there was St.
Pathrick still wid the cross look on him p'intin' to the shamrock in
his hand, as much as to say 'There is but the wan God in three divine
Persons an' Him ye must obey.' So then I took to baitin' me breast an'
sayin' 'The will o' God be done!' an' if ye'll believe me, Sisther,
the next time I took heart to look at St. Pathrick there he was
smilin' for all the world the moral o' poor Barney. So says I, 'afther
that!' Well, Sisther, the will o' God be done! He knows best, Sisther
alanna, doesn't He? But," with a weak sob, "my poor little boy's heart
'ill be broke out an' out when he finds I'm afther dyin' in the
"We must pray for him," said the Sister softly; "you must pray for him
and offer up the sacrifice that God asks of you, for him. Try not to
fret so much. Barney would not like you to fret. He would grieve
terribly if he saw you like this."
"Heth he would," said Mrs. Brady, sobbing again.
"Of course he would. But if he heard you were brave and cheerful over
it all, it would not be half so bad for him."
Mrs. Brady lay very quiet after this, and seemed to reflect.
When the priest came presently to administer the Sacraments of the
dying to her, she roused herself and received them with much devotion,
and presently beckoned Sister Louise to approach.
"Sisther, when Barney comes axin' for me, will ye give him me bades
an' the little medal that's round me neck, an' tell him I left him me
blessin'--will ye, dear?"
"Indeed I will."
"God bless ye! An' tell him," speaking with animation and in rather
louder tones. "Tell him I didn't fret at all, an' died quite contint
an' happy an'--an' thankful to be in this blessed place, where I got
every comfort. Will ye tell him that, Sisther alanna?"
The Sister bowed her head: this time she could not speak.
* * * * *
It was nearly two months afterwards that Sister Louise was summoned to
the parlour to see "Mr. Brady," who had recently arrived from America,
and to whom his cousin, Mrs. Byrne, had broken the news of his
Sister Louise smiled and sighed as she looked at this big, strapping,
prosperous-looking young fellow, and remembered his mother's
description of him. The black eyes and curly hair and rosy cheeks were
all there, certainly, but otherwise the likeness to "St. Patrick" was
not so very marked.
"Mr. Brady wants to hear all about his poor mother, Sister," said the
Sister Superior. "This is Sister Louise, Mr. Brady, who attended your
poor mother to the last."
Mr. Brady, who seemed a taciturn youth, rolled his black eyes towards
the new comer and waited for her to proceed.
Very simply did Sister Louise tell her little story, dwelling on such
of his mother's sayings, during her last illness, as she thought might
interest and comfort him.
"There are her beads, and the little medal, which she always wore. She
left them to you with her blessing."
Barney thrust out one huge brown hand and took the little packet,
swallowing down what appeared to be a very large lump in his throat.
"She told me," pursued the Sister in rather tremulous tones, "to tell
you that she did not fret at all at the last, and died content and
happy. She did, indeed, and she told me to say that she was thankful
to be here--"
But Barney interrupted her with a sudden incredulous gesture and a big
sob, "Ah, whisht, Sisther!" he said.
THE FLITTING OF THE OLD FOLKS
"Maggie! Maggie! Glory be to goodness! where in the world has that
child gone off with herself to? _Maggie_! Sure I've been roarin' an'
bawlin' for ye this half-hour. Run up this minute to Mr.
Brophy's--they're afther gettin' a letther from America, an' they
can't get any one to read it for them, the cratur's. Hurry now, that's
a good little girl; I'm goin' up myself along wid ye. Poor Mrs.
Brophy'll be nearly out of her mind."
Mrs. Kinsella caught up her baby as she spoke, gave a hasty look round
to make sure that Micky and Nanny were not crawling into the fire,
enjoined Mary, her "second eldest" little girl, to "have an eye to
them" during her absence, and, hustling her firstborn before her,
hastily left the cabin.
"What is it at all?" asked Peggy Murphy, her next-door neighbour,
thrusting her head over the half-door. "What in the world has
happened? Is it goin' up to Brophys' ye are? I hope herself's not sick
"Not at all; but Dan looked in on his way from town, an' says he,
'I've a letther in my pocket that the postmisthress is afther givin'
me, an' it's from America,' he says, 'but I'm sure I couldn't tell ye
who wrote it,' says he. 'I wisht,' he says, 'ye'd send up wan o' yer
little girls to read it to us,' says he, 'for neither herself nor me
is much hand at makin' out writin'.' An' here I'm afther sarchin' high
an' low for Maggie, an' where was she? Up in a tree, if ye plaze. Me
heart's scalded with that child. She'll break her neck on me before
Maggie jerked her flaxen locks backwards with a slightly defiant air,
and inquired of her parent if she was comin' on out o' that. Mrs.
Kinsella in return curtly desired her to be off with herself, an' not
be standin' there givin' her impidence, an' Mrs. Brophy maybe killin'
herself wonderin' what could be in the letther at all.
Thus adjured, Maggie led the way up a steep and stony path, followed
by her mother, Mrs. Murphy, and sundry other of the neighbours, all
agog with excitement and curiosity.
Half-way up the rocky hillside they came upon the Brophys' abode, a
one-storied cabin, with a cabbage garden, a potato plot, and a scanty
patch of wheat climbing up the mountain at the rear.
Dan himself stood in the doorway, eagerly on the lookout for them;
while a querulous voice from within warned them that "herself" had
reached the limit of her patience.
Entering they descried her--a tiny old woman, bent almost double with
age and rheumatism, leaning forward in her elbow-chair with the letter
on her knee.
Maggie was hustled to the front and the packet placed in her hand. She
turned it over and over, and finally broke the seal.
"It's from America," she said.
"Bedad, alanna, I knew that before," returned old Dan, who was bending
over her, his weather-beaten face betraying the utmost mystification.
"Sure all of us knew that," murmured the bystanders.
"Well, give the child time to see what's in it," urged Mrs. Kinsella.
"Father Taylor himself couldn't tell yez what's in a letther before he
had it opened."
"Who's it from, Maggie asthore? Tell us that much," cried Mrs. Brophy
with shrill eagerness.
Maggie drew the letter from the envelope and slowly unfolded it. An
enclosure fell out. Several hands were outstretched to catch it, and
Mrs. Kinsella succeeded.
"What in the name o' goodness is this?" she asked. "There's print on
this. I hope to heaven it's not a summons, or a notice to quit, or
anything that way."
"Not at all, not at all," cried Peggy Murphy, "that's an ordher for
money. I knew the looks of it the minute I set eyes on it--the very
same as wan that Mrs. O'More sent me from Dublin, the price of a pair
o' chickens she sent for, afther she went up. Bedad, you're in luck,
Dan. How much is it for, now, Maggie?"
"Ah! good gracious! don't be axin' the child them things. Sure how in
the world could she tell, an' it afther bein' written in America?--God
bless us! let her have a look at the letther anyhow."
"'My dear uncle and aunt,'" began Maggie, slowly spelling out.
[Illustration: THE FLITTING OF THE OLD FOLKS
"My dear Uncle and Aunt," began Maggie]
Mrs. Brophy uttered a shrill scream, and clapped her hands together.
"It's from Larry! Lord bless an' save us! it's Larry himself, him that
I thought in his grave this fifteen year! God bless us, it's dramin' I
am--it can't be true! Dan, d'ye hear that? Good gracious, what's the
man thinkin' of, stan'in' there, lookin' about him, the same as if he
never heard a thing at all. _Dan_" (with an impatient tug at his
sleeve), "d'ye hear what I'm tellin' you? Larry isn't dead at all, an'
he's afther writin' to us from America."
"Well, to be sure," cried Mrs. Kinsella. "Your sister's son, wasn't
he, ma'am? La'rence Kearney. A fine young fellow he was, too. He went
an' listed on yez, didn't he?"
"Aye, an' she was near breakin' her heart when he done it," chimed in
Peggy Murphy; "sure, I remember it well."
Several other bystanders remembered it too, and expressed their
sympathy by divers nods and groans; old Dan at last impatiently
throwing out his hands for silence.
"Whisht! whisht! we can't be sure whether himself's in it at all yet.
Let the poor little girl be gettin' on wid the letther, can't yez?
Sure maybe it isn't Larry at all."
"Listen to the man, an' him the only nephew that ever we had," began
"herself" shrilly; but Maggie's childish pipe, proceeding with the
reading, drowned the rest of her remonstrance.
"'I hope you are quite well, as this leaves me at present. You will be
very much astonished to get this letter, but when we meet, as I trust
we soon shall, I hope to have the pleasure of explainin' to you all
that has befell me since I left yous an' my happy home to join her
"What's that?" cried Dan in alarm. "Corpse! Didn't I tell yez he was
"Sure how could he be dead," put in Mrs. Brophy, "when it was himself
that wrote the letther? There isn't anythin' about a corpse in it,
Maggie asthore, is there?"
"'C-o-r-p-s,' spelled out Maggie, "corpse; yes, there it is, as plain
"Sure he manes 'rig'ment,' "shouted out some well-informed person from
the background. "'Corpse'--that's what they do be callin' the army."
"Oh, that indeed?" resumed Dan, much relieved. "Go on, Maggie."
"'I am now, however, at the end of my rovin's,'" read the child, "'an'
you'll be glad to hear that I am just afther gettin' married to a very
nice young lady, with a good bit o' money of her own. I have also
contrived to save a tol'rable sum, an' am now lookin' forward to a
life of contentment an' prosperity in the company of my bride.'"
"That's Larry," exclaimed Mrs. Brophy with conviction. "That's
himself--the very turn of him. He always had that fashion, ye know, of
pickin' out them grand words. I could tell 'twas him the very minit
she began, God bless him."
"'My fond memory, however, turns to them that in the days of my
childhood was the same as a father an' a mother to me. I made sure
that yous must both be under the daisy-quilt, an' me first thought was
to send some money to the reverend gentleman, whoever he may be,
that's parish priest in Clonkeen now, an' ax him to put up a rale
handsome monument over your remains; but by the greatest good fortune
I came across poor Bill Kinsella not long sence, an' he tould me yous
were to the fore, an' not a sign o' dyin' on yous yet.'"
"Look at that now," cried Mrs. Kinsella, with shrill glee; "sure
that's me own first cousin's son that went over beyant a couple of
years ago. Well, now to think--"
"Ah, for goodness' sake, let's hear the end of the letther," cried Dan
and his wife together, both violently excited.
"'Me an' me wife both feels,' went on Maggie, 'that we couldn't rest
happy unless we made sure that yous ended your days in peace and
comfort. This is a big house and a comfortable place, with room an' to
spare for the two of yous, and you'll get the warmest of welcomes from
nephew and niece. So I am sendin' you the price of your journey, with
maybe a few dollars over, for fear you should come short, an' I hope
you'll come out by the next boat, for there isn't much time to spare,
an' you'll be gettin' too old for travellin'. I will say no more this
time, my dear uncle and aunt, but _cead mille failthe_ from your
affectionate La'rence Kearney."
"Sure it isn't across the say he wants us to go," cried Dan in dismay;
"is it to America?"
"God bless him!" exclaimed the wife, with fervour; "it's him that
always had the good heart. To think of him plannin' an' contrivin'
everythin' that way, even to the monyement."
"I wonder," said Dan regretfully, "what sort of a monyement at all
he'd have put over us? 'Pon me word it 'ud have looked elegant
"Would ye have goold letthers on it, ma'am?" put in Peggy Murphy
admiringly. "I seen wan at Kilpedder wan time that I went up when a
cousin o' me own was buried, an' it was the loveliest ye ever seen.
There was goold letthers, an' a crass on the top, an' at the four
corners of it there was a kind of an ornamentation the same as a
little skull--'pon me word, the natest thing ye could see! No bigger
nor me fist, ye know; but all set out elegant with little
weeshy-dawshy teeth, all as perfect as ye could imagine. It was some
rale grand ould gentleman that was afther puttin' it up for his wife.
I wondher if yez 'ud have had wan made anything that shape."
Dan looked pensive, and rubbed his hands slowly together, tantalised
perhaps by the magnificence of the vision; but "herself" shook her
head with a proud little smile.
"There's no knowin' what we'd have had," she observed. "Larry said
he'd have axed Father Taylor to choose us the best, an' I b'lieve his
reverence has very good taste."
"'Deed an' he has, ma'am. But will yez be goin' off wid yourselves to
America out o' this?"
"Aye will we," responded Mrs. Brophy, with spirit. "Bedad, if Dan an'
me is ever to see the world it's time we started."
"It's very far off," said poor old Dan nervously; "it's a terrible
long way to be goin', alanna. If it wasn't for Larry expectin' us over
"What would ye do, then?" interrupted his energetic little wife
fiercely. "Stop at home, perishin' wid the cold an' hunger, an' the
rain droppin' down on us while we're atin' our bit o' dinner; me that
bad wid the rheumatiz I can hardly move hand or fut, an' yourself
taken wid them wakenesses so that it's all ye can do to lift the
"Dear knows, it's himself that ought to leppin' mad wid j'y," cried
one of the neighbours. "To get such a chance! Isn't it in the greatest
good luck ye are, Dan, to be goin' off to that beautiful place, where
ye'll be livin' in the heighth o' comfort an' need never do another
hand's turn for yourselves? Troth, I wish it was me that had the offer
Many murmurs of approval greeted this sally; every one being convinced
that Dan was indeed in luck's way, while his wife wrathfully opined
that he didn't know when he was well off.
Poor old Dan hastened to assure them that he was "over-j'yed."
"I suppose," he added, looking round deprecatingly, "they'll tell me
down at the railway station the way we'll have to go; or maybe Father
Taylor 'ud know. The say is miles an' miles away--I question if they'd
give us a ticket for the say down beyant at Clonkeen."
"Sure, yez'll have to go to Dublin first," interposed the
well-informed person who had before volunteered useful explanations.
"Dublin!" said Dan, sitting down on the edge of his favourite little
"creepy" stool. "Well, well, to think o' that! I never thought to be
goin' to Dublin, an' I suppose America is twicet as far."
"Aye, an' ten times as far," cried Peggy Murphy.
Dan looked appealingly round as though seeking contradiction, but
could not summon up enough courage to speak. He sat still, rubbing his
hands, and smiling a rather vacant smile; and by-and-by, having
exhausted their queries and conjectures, the visitors left the cabin,
and the old couple were alone.
They stared at each other for a moment or two in silence, Mary Brophy
fingering the letter which she could not read.
"That's grand news?" she remarked presently, with a querulous
interrogative note in her voice.
"Grand entirely," repeated her husband submissively, rubbing the
patched knees of his corduroy trousers for a change.
"We'll have to be gettin' ready to be off soon, I suppose?" pursued
Mary, still in a tone of vexed inquiry.
"Aye," said Dan, continuing to rub his knees.
"Ye ought to be out o' yer wits wid delight," asserted Mrs. Brophy
"So I am," said Dan, with a ghastly attempt at cheerfulness.
"Ah, go 'long out o' that!" cried Mary. "Ye have me moithered, sittin'
there starin' the two eyes out o' yer head. Go out an' give the hens a
bit to ate."
"Sure we haven't had our own suppers yet," returned Dan, slowly
rising; "time enough to give the cratur's what's left."
"Listen to the man! 'Pon me word, ye'd never desarve a bit o' good
look, Dan Brophy, ye've that little sense. What call have we to go
pinchin' an' scrapin' now, will ye tell me? Us that's goin' to spend
the rest of our days in peace an' comfort. Sure, Larry'll let us want
for nothin' while we live."
"Aye, indeed," returned her husband; "I was forgettin' that."
He went out obediently, and presently his voice was heard dolorously
"chuck-chucking" to the hens. When he re-entered he sat down on the
stool again, with the same puzzled air which had formerly irritated
"I wonder," he said, "how in the world we'll be managin'. Will I go
down to the station beyant, an' give them that money ordher, an' tell
them Larry bid them give us tickets to America for it, or will I have
to take it to the post-office first? Mrs. Murphy said it was a
post-office ordher, but sure they wouldn't be givin' us tickets for
America at the post-office."
"Ah, what a gom ye are!" said Mary. It was her favourite and wholly
untranslatable term of opprobrium.
"Afther that," as Dan invariably said, "there was no use in talkin' to
Mary." He suspected that on this occasion she was feeling a little
puzzled herself, but wisely resolved to postpone the discussion till
she should be in a better humour.
Next morning, when the old man rose and went out of the house, as
usual, to fetch a pailful of water from the stream which ran at the
foot of the hill, he cast lingering glances about him. It would be a
queer thing, he thought, to look out in the morning on any other view
than this familiar one, which had greeted his waking eyes in his far
away childhood, and on which he had expected to look his last only
when the day came whereon he should close them for ever. On the other
side of the rugged brown shoulder of that hill was the little chapel,
under the shadow of which he had hoped one day to be laid to rest.
Pausing, pail in hand, he began to wonder to himself where he would
have had the monument which, if he and Mary had already departed, was,
by Larry's request, to have surmounted their remains. There was an
empty space to the right of the gate--it would have looked well
there--real handsome, Dan opined. With his mind full of this thought
he returned to Mary, and immediately imparted it to her.
"Alanna, we wouldn't have known ourselves, we'd have been so grand,"
he added. "Goold letthers, no less. I don't know that I'd altogether
fancy them little skulls, though. They would have been altogether too
mournful. I'd sooner have R.I.P. at all the corners--wouldn't you?"
"Maybe I would an' maybe I wouldn't," said Mary. "We needn't be
botherin' our heads about it. Larry'll be apt to be puttin' up a
tombstone over us when we do go."
"Sure what good will that do us over there where nobody knows us?"
murmured Dan discontentedly. "If it was here where all the neighbours
'ud be lookin' at it, it 'ud be somethin'-like. But what signifies
what kind of an ould gully-hole they throw us into over
beyant--there'll be nobody to pass a remark about us, or to put up a
prayer for us afther we're gone, only Larry and his wife; an' I
question if she's the lady to be throublin' her head over the like of
Mrs. Brophy was quite taken aback at this harangue, but soon recovered
herself sufficiently to rate Dan as soundly as she considered he
deserved; then, with many muttered comments on his ingratitude, she
proceeded to crawl over to the hearth to prepare breakfast.
"Woman alive!" ejaculated Dan presently, "sure it's not tay ye're
wettin' this mornin', an' only a sign of it left in the bag. Ye'll be
callin' out for yer cup on Sunday, an' there'll not be a grain left
"Good gracious, won't the two of us be out of it before Sunday?"
returned Mary tartly. "Upon me word, a body 'ud lose patience wid ye
altogether. I'm sick an' tired tellin' ye that we've no call to be
savin' up the way we used to be doin'. Sit down there, an' don't
_saucer_ yer tay, but drink it like a Christian out o' the cup. An'
for goodness' sake, Dan, don't be blowin' it that way. I declare I'll
be ashamed of me life if that's the way ye're goin' to go on forenenst
"Would ye have me scald the throat out o' meself?" retorted Dan
indignantly. "I wish to goodness that letther o' Larry's was at the
bottom of the say. Ye're that contrairy sence, I dunno whatever to do
wid ye. Bedad, if that's the way wid ye I'll not stir a fut out o'
this. Mind that!"
Mrs. Brophy, though much incensed, nevertheless deemed it prudent to
make no reply; and presently Dan, pushing back his stool, got up and
went out. Mary sat cogitating for some minutes alone; her reflections
were not altogether of the pleasantest order, and she was relieved
when, by-and-by, Mrs. Kinsella's voice hailed her from the doorway.
"How's yourself this morning?" inquired the visitor pleasantly. "Did
you think it was dramin' ye were when ye woke up? I suppose the two o'
yez'll soon be out o' this now. I was thinkin'"--leaning her arms
affably on the half-door--"any ould things, ye know, that wouldn't be
worth yer while to bring along wid yous 'ud come in very handy for me
down below. Of course I wouldn't name it if ye were likely to be
takin' everythin' wid ye; but goin' all that way, an' lavin' nobody
afther ye--it's a terrible long fam'ly I have altogether, ma'am--I
declare I have the work of the world wid them. Terence--nothin' 'ud
serve him but to go makin' a drum out o' the on'y pot we have, an'
he's afther knocking a great big hole in it. So if ye weren't goin' to
take your big ould pot away wid ye, ma'am, I thought I'd just mention
Mrs. Brophy's withered little face flushed.
"It's yerself that 'ud be welcome, I'm sure," she replied stiffly,
"but that same pot Dan an' me bought when we got married, an' I don't
think I could have the heart to part wid it."
"Ah, that indeed, ma'am? Well, of course, when ye have a fancy for it
that way, it's best for ye to take it wid ye. But I question if Mrs.
Larry 'ud like the looks of it comin' into her grand kitchen. Sure
Bill tould me, that time he came back from America, there wasn't such
a thing as a pot to be seen over there at all. But plaze yerself,
ma'am, of coorse."
Mrs. Brophy looked startled and perturbed.
"Not such a thing as a pot in it," she repeated. "God bless us! it
must be a quare place. Well, Mrs. Kinsella, ma'am, if I do lave the
pot behind I'll make sure that yourself has it."
"Thank ye, ma'am," responded Mrs. Kinsella, with alacrity. "Any ould
thing at all that ye wouldn't be wantin' 'ud come in handy for me. Ye
wouldn't be takin' that ould chair, now, or the dresser; that 'ud be
altogether too big an' too heavy to put in a boat, but I'd be thankful
for it at my place."
Mary looked round at her little household gods with a sudden pang;
then she glanced rather sharply back at Mrs. Kinsella.
"There's time enough to be thinkin' o' them things," she observed.
"Himself an' me hasn't made up our minds at all when we're goin', or
what we'll be doin' wid our bits o' things."
"Well, I must be off wid meself anyhow," returned the visitor, easily
changing the subject. "Ye'll be havin' his reverence in wid yez some
time this mornin'. I'm afther meetin' him goin' up the road to poor
Pat Daly's, an' when I told him the news he near broke his heart
laughin' at the notion of the two o' yez goin' off travellin' at this
time o' day. 'But I'm sorry, too,' he says, 'I'm very sorry,' he says.
'Upon my word,' says he, 'the place won't know itself without poor Dan
an' Mary. An' so they're goin' to live over there,' says he, 'or
rather to die over there,' says he, 'an' there'll be some strange
priest lookin' afther them at the last,' he says. 'Well, well, I
always thought it 'ud be me that 'ud have the buryin' o' Dan an'
Mary.'--An' off wid him then up the hill to Dalys', but he'll be apt
to be lookin' in on his way back."
"He will, to be sure," agreed Mary, in rather doleful tones.
When Mrs. Kinsella had departed she sat cowering over the fire without
heeding her unfinished cup of tea. The priest's words just quoted had
touched her in a vulnerable point. True for his reverence. It wasn't
living much longer they'd be over there, and when they came to die it
would be a lonesome sort of thing to have a strange priest coming to
see them instead of their own Father Taylor, who had been their
friend, guide, and adviser for more than forty years! Mrs. Brophy's
heart misgave her; his reverence would be apt to think bad of their
going off that way, and him so good to them. Then Mrs. Kinsella's
remarks rankled in her memory--"an ould pot" that Mrs. Larry would
despise in her elegant kitchen; the cool scrutiny with which she had
surveyed all poor Mary's treasured belongings was hard to be borne.
The dresser; like enough there would not be room for the dresser in
the boat--Mary had no notion as to the size of the vessel that was to
convey her and her belongings to America--and what about the bed then?
The bed, a valuable heirloom which had stood in its own particular
corner of the cabin for nearly a century, which had been Mary's
mother's bed, the pride and joy of Mary's heart, and the envy of the
neighbours. What in the world was to be done with this priceless
treasure? Good-natured as she was she felt that she could not bring
herself to allow it to become the property of Mrs. Kinsella or any of
the neighbours. Who would respect it as she did? At the bare thought
of heedless "gossoons" or "slips of girls" tumbling in and out of the
receptacle which she herself had always approached so reverently, Mary
"Cock them up, indeed!" she murmured wrathfully.
Then an idea struck her, an idea which became a fixed resolution when
presently Father Taylor's kindly face nodded at her over the
half-door. She would offer his reverence the bed; it would be honoured
by such a rise in the world as a transfer to the priest's house; and
at the same time Mary felt that this precious legacy would in some
measure repay her good pastor for his long and affectionate care. She
had hardly patience to listen to Father Taylor's greeting, or to
answer his good-natured rallying queries anent their unexpected good
fortune. When she did speak it was rather in a tone of lamentation
than of rejoicing:--
"Aye, indeed, yer reverence, it's what we nayther of us looked for,
an' it's a terrible change altogether. I'm wondering what in the world
I'll do wid my bits o' things--my little sticks o' furniture, ye know,
sir. Biddy Kinsella was up here a little while ago lookin' out for me
pot--it's an elegant pot, an' I'm loth to part with it--but she says
Bill tould her there's no such thing as a pot to be seen out there. So
I'll have to lave it with her. But the bed, Father Taylor, it's the
bed that's throublin' me the most. It's a beautiful bed, your
The priest glanced towards that valuable article of furniture, and
responded heartily and admiringly:--
"It is, indeed, a wonderful bed."
"Sure there isn't its like in the place," resumed Mary. "It was me
mother's bed, so it was--she looked very well when she was laid out on
it," she added thoughtfully. "Very well, indeed, she looked! I always
thought that Dan an' meself 'ud be waked in that bed, too. Well, well,
the Lord knows best, doesn't he, yer reverence? But I'd think very bad
of lettin' that bed out o' this to go anywhere on'y to yer reverence's
"Bless me!" cried Father Taylor, unable to restrain a surprised laugh;
but he quickly composed his features.
"Aye, indeed, yer reverence, I'd be proud if ye'd let me make ye a
present of it," said poor old Mary, trying to straighten her little
bent back, and peering at him with anxious eyes. "Sure it's altogether
too proud Dan an' meself 'ud be, an' ye wouldn't believe the beautiful
nights' rests we do be gettin' out o' that bed."
"I'm quite sure you do," responded the priest warmly; "but upon my
word, Mary, do you know I'm afraid the Bishop mightn't like it."
Mrs. Brophy was appalled at the magnitude of the idea. Father Taylor
continued in a very solemn voice, but with a twinkle in his eye:--
"You see, Mary, we poor priests are not allowed luxuries, and if his
lordship were to arrive unexpectedly and walk into my room and see
that grand bed in the corner he might think it very queer."
"Would he now?" said Mary, in awestruck tones.
"You wouldn't like to get me into trouble, Mary, I'm sure," pursued
Father Taylor. "The Bishop might think I was getting beyond myself
Mrs. Brophy heaved a deep sigh; she was depressed, but magnanimous. It
would ill become her, she observed, to be gettin' his reverence into
trouble, and who'd think his lordship was that wicked? Holy man! She
would say no more; and Father Taylor was devoutly thankful for her
forbearance. He would have done anything rather than hurt her
feelings, but the mere sight of that ancient, venerable, and
much-begrimed four-poster made him shudder; while he scarcely ventured
to contemplate the attitude likely to be assumed by his
housekeeper--of whom he stood in some little awe--if the question were
mooted of adding this piece of furniture to her well-polished and
Wishing to change the subject, he remarked that Mary's beautiful cup
of tea had been scarcely tasted. "Why, I thought every drop was
precious," he added, laughing; "but I suppose you will not be counting
the grains now as you used to do."
"I don't seem to fancy it this mornin' the way I used to do
sometimes," responded Mrs. Brophy plaintively.
"Ah," said the priest, half-sadly, "you will have plenty of everything
over there, Mary, but I doubt if you will relish anything as much as
what you and Dan used to buy out of the price of your chickens.
Nothing is so sweet as what we earn for ourselves, woman dear. I fancy
the potatoes grown in your little bit of ground, and boiled in your
own black pot, taste sweeter, somehow, than all the fine dinners that
Mrs. Larry will be giving you."
"Thrue for ye, yer reverence," put in Dan, suddenly appearing in the
doorway. "'Pon me word, I wish that ould letther an' all that was in
it had stopped where it was, before it came upsettin' us that way. I'd
sooner stop where I am, so I would--I would so--there now ye have it!"
turning defiantly to his wife. "Sure it'll be the death of the two of
us lavin' the ould place, an' thravellin' off across the say among
strangers. An' what good will it do us, as I do be sayin' to herself
here, for Larry to be puttin' up a monyement for us over beyant there,
where there's ne'er a one at all that knows us?"
"To be sure, I was forgetting the monument," said Father Taylor,
laughing again. "I was to have the choosing of it, too, wasn't I? Let
me look at the letter again, Mary. Yes, here it is. 'The reverend
gentleman, whoever he is, that's parish priest in Clonkeen now'--It's
the very same reverend gentleman that used to give Master Larry many a
good box on the ear long ago when he was a little rascally lad; but I
suppose he thought I was dead and buried by this time--he wants to
have us all underground. Well, well, it's a pity I'm not to have the
choosing of that monument--I'd have picked out the finest that money
He intended this as a joke, and Dan and Mary uttered a somewhat
melancholy, but complimentary laugh; then they looked at each other
wistfully, as though regretting that they were not in a position to
enable their pastor to gratify his artistic tastes.
Dan presently confided his troubles and difficulties anent the
changing of the order, and was desired by the priest to call in the
afternoon, when he would himself go with him to the post-office. Then
Father Taylor withdrew, feeling a little sad at the thought of losing
two such old parishioners, and a little impatient with the
over-affectionate nephew, who had so late in the day insisted on their
"How much more sensible it would have been," he said to himself, "how
much more truly kind, if Larry, instead of transplanting the poor old
couple in their old age, had sent them a small sum of money every
month to enable them to end their days in comfort at home." But there
was apparently nothing for it now but to take what steps he could to
help them over the difficulties of their flitting.
About five o'clock Dan duly made his appearance, wearing a much more
jubilant aspect than when his pastor had taken leave of him. With a
comical and somewhat sheepish grin he produced the "ordher" in a
crumpled condition from his tattered pocket, and handed it over to the
priest, remarking, as he did so, that "it was a quare thing to think
what a power o' money did be in a little or'nary thing like that."
"Yes, indeed," said Father Taylor, with a sigh, "that little bit of
paper will carry you and Mary all the way over the sea, and across a
State as big as Ireland."
"Would it now?" inquired Dan, eyeing it curiously. "Well now, to tell
you the truth, yer reverence, herself an' me has been havin' a bit of
a chat. She thinks bad, the cratur', of lavin' the bed, an' the ould
pot, an' all our little sticks o' things behind, ye know, sir, an' I
do be thinkin' I'd never get my health at all out of ould Ireland; an'
any way the two of us is too ould to be thravellin' off that way. An'
so herself says to me--she says:--'Dan,' says she, 'I think the best
way would be for ye to step down to his reverence's,' says she, 'an'
give him the ordher,' she says, 'an' ax him,' says she, 'if he'll just
write a line to poor Larry, an' let him know that we haven't the heart
nor the strength to be lavin' our own little place. An' bid him,' says
she, "ax Larry if it 'ud be all the same to him if his reverence was
to keep the money for us agin we want it.'"
"To be sure, to be sure," cried Father Taylor, delighted. "You show
your good sense, Dan, and so does Mary. I'll just go with you now, and
change the order; and I'll let Larry know that I'll keep the money for
you, and pay it out little by little as long as it lasts."
"Not at all, not at _all_," interrupted Dan, hastily and indignantly.
"Bedad, it isn't that we want yer reverence to do for us. Sure the
raison I'm afther givin' ye the ordher is for you to keep it safe, the
way we'll have it for the monyement."
"THE SPIDER AND THE GOUT"
Old Pat Clancy lived in a small cabin immediately beneath the Rock of
Donoughmor, and looked upon the ruined castle on the top as his
especial property, the legends concerning them being treasured by him
as jealously as though they were traditions of his own ancestors. A
proud man was Pat when piloting the occasional strangers who wished to
inspect the keep up the steep and slippery path which led to the
ancient portcullis, and conducting them thence to the banqueting-hall,
sparing the luckless pilgrim, in fact, no corner of the edifice or its
surroundings, and pausing only on the mossy slope to the rear, where,
his charge having duly admired "the view over three counties," he
would proudly point out the precise spots where Fin-ma-coul had
"wrastled" with and overthrown another "monsthrous joynt" of name
unknown, the traces of the encounter being yet visible in the short
"Ne'er a blade o' grass at all 'ud grow on them," Pat would cry,
pointing triumphantly to the irregular hollows in the soil supposed to
be the traces of the giant's mighty feet. These, by the way,
occasionally varied oddly in extent; during the summertime, when most
visitors were to be expected, being noticeably large, and much deeper
than at other seasons.
Poor Pat's devotion to his beloved ruins was the cause of his undoing.
One spring morning, when a late frost had made the grass unusually
slippery, just as he was expounding to an interested audience how the
Danes used to shoot "arrers through them little slits of windies in
the wall beyant," his foot slipped, and after rolling for a little
distance down the steep incline, he went over the precipitous side of
the crag, and fell some twenty feet on to the stones below. Many bones
were broken, and as surgical aid was difficult to obtain, and but of
poor quality when at last secured, most of them were badly set, and
the poor old fellow remained to the end of his days a cripple. How he
and his wife and their last remaining child, a son born to them when
Pat was already old, managed thenceforth to eke out a living would
have been a marvel to their neighbours, if similar problems of
existence had not been so common in the countryside. There was the
pig, of course, and a few chickens, and "herself" did a day's work now
and then in the fields, and escorted the visitors over the ruins, well
primed and prompted by Patrick as to the "laygends and tragedies"
(traditions) of those sacred precincts; and little Mike minded the
sheep, and frightened crows and picked turnips for their landlord,
"ould Pether Rorke beyant at Monavoe," but "Goodness knows," as the
neighbours would say, shaking their heads at each other, "it was not
much of a livin' the poor child 'ud make out of him--the ould villain!
Didn't he let his own flesh and blood go cold and hungry--'twasn't to
be expected he'd do more nor he could help for a stranger. Aye indeed,
he was a great ould villain! To think of him with lashin's and lavin's
of everything an' money untold laid by, an' his only son's widdy
livin' down there with a half-witted lodger in a little black hole of
a place that was not fit for a pig, let alone a Christian, an' the
beautiful little cratur', his grandchild, Roseen, runnin' about
barefut, with her dotey little hands an' feet black an' blue wid the
cowld--sure what sort of a heart had the man at all?"
Old Pat was sitting alone one summer's afternoon, "herself" having
gone up to Donoughmor with some Quality, and Mike not having yet
returned from work, when little Roseen Rorke poked her sunny face in
at the door.
"Is that yourself?" said Pat pleasantly. He was fond of the child, as
was every one in the neighbourhood, and being a fellow-sufferer from
the hard-heartedness of her grandfather, who was, as has been said,
his landlord, was perhaps the most violent of her champions.
Roseen's blue eyes, peering through her tangled sheaf of golden-brown
curls, took a hasty and discontented survey of the small kitchen.
"Isn't Mike here?" she inquired.
"He's not, asthore, an' won't be home this hour most likely; but come
in out o' the scorching sun, an' sit down on the little creepy stool.
Herself will be in in a few minutes, an' maybe she'll give ye a bit o'
Roseen unfastened the half-door and came in, her little bare brown
feet making no sound on the mud floor. She was a pretty child for all
her sunburnt face and scanty unkempt attire. Poor Widow Rorke has long
ceased to take pride in the fact that her husband had been the son of
the richest farmer in all the countryside, and did not care to keep up
appearances, all her energies being devoted to the struggle for daily
bread; nevertheless, the short red flannel frock was as becoming to
Roseen as any more elegant garment could have been, and when she
approached the hearth and sat down on the three-legged stool by Pat's
side, he breathed a blessing on her pretty face that was as admiring
as it was fervent.
Crossing one shapely sunburnt leg over the other, and gazing pensively
at the smouldering turf sods, she heaved a deep sigh.
"They're afther goin' out an' lavin' me," she lamented.
"Did they, asthore? Sure they had a right to have taken ye along wid
them. Where are they gone to at all, alanna?"
"Me mother's after goin' to the town to buy a bit o' bread, an' Judy's
streeled off with herself, goodness knows where, wid her ould pipe in
her pocket. Dear knows when she'll be back; an' she bid me stop at
home an' mind the fire, but I come away out o' that as soon as her
back was turned."
The bright eyes glanced defiantly at the old man and then suddenly
clouded over; the corners of the little mouth began to droop, and the
small bare shoulders to heave.
"They'd no call to go lavin' me all by meself."
"Troth they hadn't, mavourneen," agreed Pat, clackling his tongue
sympathetically. "It was too hard on ye, altogether, but sure you
won't cry now, there's a good little girl; crying never done any one a
ha'porth o' good yit. Look at me here wid all my ould bones broke; I
might cry the two eyes out o' my head an' never a wan at all ud' get
mended for me."
Roseen sat up blinking. "Did it hurt ye much, Misther Clancy, when
your bones was broke on ye?"
"Is it hurt, bedad! Ye'd hear me bawlin' up at the crass roads. Sure I
thought it was killed I was! My ancistor couldn't have shouted louder
when he had the Earl Strongbow's spear stuck in him. Will I tell ye
about that, alanna, to pass the time till herself comes in?"
Roseen shook her head discontentedly.
"I know that story," she said. "I wisht ye'd tell me about the Spider
an' the Gout though, Misther Clancy. Ah do, an' I'll sit here
listenin' as quiet as a mouse."
Pat rubbed his unshaven chin with the lean fingers of his one
serviceable hand, the bristles of his week-old beard making a rasping
sound the while, and glanced down sideways at the eager little
"Is it the Spider an' the Gout?" he said, knitting his brows with
affected reluctance. "Sure I am sick an' tired tellin' ye that. No,
but I'll tell ye 'The little man and the little woman that lived in
the vinegar bottle.' ... Wanst upon a time, there was a weeshy-dawshy
"Ah no, Misther Clancy, I don't care for that," interrupted Roseen,
jumping up and clapping her hands to her ears. "It's a horrible ould
story. They'd have been drownded," she added seriously.
Pat chuckled. "Well, sit down, an' don't offer to say a word unless
you hear me goin' out. Sure maybe I disremember it altogether."
Roseen sat down obediently and fixed her eyes on the old man's face.
[Illustration: THE SPIDER AND THE GOUT
"Wanst upon a time," began Dan]
"Wanst upon a time," began Dan, with a twinkle in his eye, "the pigs
were swine." Roseen gave an impatient wriggle. "Well, well, it's too
bad to be tormentin' ye that way. I'll begin right now.--Well, very
well then. There was wan time the Spider an' the Gout was thravellin'
together, goin' to seek their fortun's. Well, they come to the crass
roads. 'Lookit here,' says the Spider, 'it's time for you an' me to be
partin' company,' says he; 'I'm goin' up along here to the right,'
says he, 'to that great big house on the hill. A very rich man lives
there,' says he, 'an' I think the quarthers 'ull suit me. You can go
down that little boreen to the left,' he says; 'there's a little cabin
there that belongs to some poor fellow or other. The door is cracked,'
says the Spider, 'and the windy is broke. Ye can slip in aisy,' he
says, 'an' creep into the poor fellow's toe before he knows where he
is.'--'Is that so?' says the Gout. 'Oh, that indeed!' says he; 'it'll
suit me very well,' says he, 'if that's the way it is. An' I'll tell
you what we'll do,' says the Gout, 'you an' me'll meet here this time
to-morrow night an' tell each other how we're gettin' on,' says he."
Pat paused, rubbing his knotted fingers up and down the ragged knees
of his corduroys. Roseen heaved a deep sigh, and folded one dimpled
hand over the other, her eyes meanwhile fixed unwinkingly on the face
of the narrator. The interest of the tale was now growing absorbing.
"Well, the Spider went off wid himself up to the rich man's house, an'
what do ye think the poor fellow found when he got there?"
Roseen was perfectly aware of the state of affairs which the Spider
discovered, knowing as she did every word of the story by heart, but
deemed it her duty to shake her head slightly and raise her eyebrows
in a manner which denoted that she was absolutely at fault.
"Well," pursued Pat, "every door in the whole place was shut up, an'
every windy was bolted an' barred, an' though the poor Spider ran this
way an' that way, an' round the house an' round the house, not a hole
nor a crack could he find; an' there he had to stop outside in the
wind an' the rain."
Roseen's face betokened extreme compassion for the Spider. Pat went
on, drawing in his breath with a sucking sound.
"Well then, very well then; next mornin' the sarvants was sweepin' and
clanin' an' dustin', here an' there an' everywhere, the way they do in
the houses of Quality. One o' them left the hall door open an' in
creeps the little Spider, an' away wid him acrass the hall, an' never
stops till he gets to the great big parlour. Up the wall wid him then
as fast as he could leg it, an' there if he doesn't go and make his
web in a corner of a great big gould pictur' frame. Well, there he
sat, the poor fellow, but ne'er a fly at all come next or nigh him,
an' by-an'-by in walks the housemaid wid her great big broom, an' if
"You are afther forgettin'!" interrupted Roseen, quickly seizing the
opportunity of using her tongue, and proceeding with as close an
imitation of Pat's manner as she could muster. "In walks the
housemaid. 'Och,' says she, 'what brings you here at all, ye dirty
"To be sure," said Pat, "I was near forgettin' that altogether. 'Och,'
says she (in shrill tones of horror supposed to proceed from the
startled housemaid), 'what brings you here at all, ye dirty little
spalpeen? You infarnal little sckamer,' says she."
Roseen gave a delighted little cackle, this being an addition on Pat's
part and charming her by its vigour and originality.
"'You infarnal little sckamer, what brings you here at all?' And she
whips out her duster an' hot the poor Spider such a crack that his web
was destroyed on him altogether, an' it was on'y by the greatest good
luck he was able to creep out of her way behind the corner of the
frame, or she'd have had him killed as well. Well, the poor fellow,
there he sat the whole livelong day, niver so much as offerin' to spin
another web; an' sure if he had it 'ud have been no use, for there
wasn't the sign of a fly at all. When evenin' come the masther of the
house had company, an' there was atin' an' drinkin' an' the best of
everything but the poor little Spider was lookin' on, very near
perishin' wid hunger an' fright. Well, at the long and the last, when
he thought there was nobody lookin', he crept down the wall an'
folleyed wan o' the sarvants out o' the room, an' by good luck, the
hall door was open, so the poor fellow made off wid himself as fast as
he could. Down the road wid him till he come to where the Gout was
sittin' waitin' for him at the crass roads. 'Is that yourself?' says
the Spider. 'How did you get on?' says he. 'Och,' says the poor
Gout"--and here Pat assumed a tone of extreme weakness and
exhaustion--"'it's near killed I am altogether; I never put in such a
time in me life.' 'Well, for that matther,' says the Spider, 'I might
say the same; but what happened to ye at all? Tell me all about it in
the name of goodness,' says he.
"'Well,' says the Gout, 'I went off down the boreen the same as ye
told me, an' I come to the little cabin beyant; the door was open an'
in I walked, but o--o--oh! Wh--o--o--oh!' (Pat indulged in a prolonged
shiver, while Roseen chuckled and clapped her hands.) 'The cowld of
that place was near bein' the death o' me! Sure the wind blew into
it,' says he, 'an' the rain was comin' through the roof, an' there
wasn't as much fire on the hearth as 'ud warm a fly itself. Well, the
poor man come in afther a bit,' says the Gout, 'an' I slipped in
through a crack in his owld wore-out brogue, an' into his toe. "Och,
Mary," says the poor man to his wife, "I have a terrible bad pain in
me toe! What'll I do in the world?" says he; "I'll never be able to
stir a fut to-morrow." "Whisht, sure it's maybe a bit of a cramp ye've
got. Wait a bit," she says, "an' I'll fetch ye a sup o' the wather I'm
afther bilin' the pitaties in, maybe that'll do ye good," she says.
'Well,' says the Gout, 'if the fellow didn't go an' put his fut, _an'
me in it_, into an owld rusty bucket full of pitaty-wather! I thought
he'd have destroyed me altogether. An' such a night as I passed, wid
scarcely a blanket at all on the bed! An' nothin' 'ud sarve the man
but to get up before light, an' go thrampin' off through the mud an'
rain till I was nearly perished. There he was draggin' me up an' down
at the tail of a plough, wid the wet soakin' in through the holes in
his brogues, till I couldn't stand it any more, an' I come away wid
meself, an' I've been waitin' for ye this two hours.' 'Ho then,
indeed,' says the Spider, 'I'd have been glad enough to be out of it
before this; I never was so put about in me life as I was up there,'
says he. 'Sure they had all their windies shut up,' says he, 'and the
doors too, an' ne'er a sign of a fly at all in it when I did get in,'
he says; 'an' the whole place that clane, an' sarvants running about,
till I couldn't so much as find a corner to spin my web,' says he.
'Och, dear,' says the Gout, 'that's a poor case entirely; what sort of
a place was it at all, an' what were they doin' in it?'
"'Ah, 'twas a great big place--altogether too big for my taste; an'
they had roarin' fires in the grates. I was near killed wid the hate.'
"'That indeed!' says the Gout, pricking up his ears." Roseen listened
solemnly, not in the least astonished to be told that the personage in
question was possessed of ears; she supposed "a Gout" to be a living
thing, an insect probably, of a more noxious kind than a spider.
"'Fires!' says the Gout; 'an' was they atin' an' drinkin' at all?'
"'Atin' an' drinkin'!' says the Spider. 'Bedad, they're afther
spendin' hours at it, an' were in the thick of it when I come away. If
ye were to see the j'ints that was in it, ye wouldn't believe your own
eyes; an' chickens an' turkeys,' he says, 'was nothin' at all to them,
and they was swalleyin' down pigeons an' partridges an' them sorts o'
little birds, the same as if they wasn't worth counting.'
"'Oh, oh!' says the Gout, smacking his lips, 'an' did ye chanst to see
any dhrinkin' at all?' 'Goodness gracious!' says the Spider, 'sure
there was rivers of wine goin' down every man's throat!'
"'That'll do,' says the Gout. 'I'll bid ye good evening,' he says,
'an' I'll be off wid meself up there; an' I'll tell ye what,' says he,
'I'll be in no hurry to lave it!' he says, winking acrass at the
other, 'an' you thry the cabin,' he says, lookin' back over his
shoulder; 'maybe it'll suit ye betther nor me.' Well, the poor Spider
ran off as fast as he could, an' when he come to the poor man's
housheen, in he walked, widout a bit o' throuble at all, an' sure
there was plenty of flies there waitin' for him. They used to come
buzzing in an' out through the broken windies all day long.
"'Och, bedad! I am in luck,' says the Spider to himself, 'if on'y the
ould woman 'ull let me stop in it an' not be thryin' to desthroy me
wid her duster, the way the girl up beyant at the Coort did.' But
sure, the poor ould woman had other things to be thinkin' of nor to be
goin' afther Spiders. She left him alone in peace an' comfort, an' the
poor fellow thought he was in heaven, afther all he had to put up wid
at the other place. Well, there he lived till he died, an' he got so
fat wid all the flies he was afther killin' that it was an
_apple-complex_ that carried him off at the end!
"Well, Misther Gout went marching up the hill at a fine rate, an' when
he come to the rich man's house, who should he see, by the greatest
good luck, but the masther himself, standin' on the steps o' the hall
door, sayin' good-bye to the company. He lay quiet till the last of
the illigant carr'ages had drove off, an' the master stepped inside
"'I think I'll have a smoke,' says he--here Pat assumed an
aristocratic air and spoke in refined and mincing tones--'before I go
to bed. William,' says he to one of the futmen, 'bring me me
slippers.' Well, the gentleman sat down in a grand soft armchair, an'
the futman brought his slippers--an' if the Gout didn't take the
opportunity an' pop into his big toe!"
Roseen jumped up from her stool with a chuckle of anticipation. Pat
proceeded to give utterance to a series of hollow and extraordinary
groans, and to writhe in a manner intended to convey the extreme agony
of the rich man. Roseen fairly danced about, imitating Pat's moanings
to the best of her ability. "Ou-ou-ou-ough! Ugh!" "'By this an' by
that,' says the gentleman, 'tare an' ages!' says he, 'thunder an'
turf!' he says, 'what in the world is the matter wid me big toe?'
"Well, the misthress comes runnin' down in a great state. 'My dear,'
she says (here Pat affected an extremely _Englified_ falsetto), 'I am
afeard you are very sick,' says she; 'ye'd best have a sup of port
wine,' says she.
"'Ou-ou-ough!' says the masther, 'maybe it would do me good. Fetch it
there, quick,' he says to the sarvants, 'or I'll be the death o' some
"Well, they brought him port wine, an' they brought him whisky, an'
they brought a beautiful velvet cushion an' put it under the
gentleman's fut; an' the Gout winks to himself, an' says he, 'Troth,
I'll not be in a hurry to quit out o' this. Sure it's in clover
altogether I am,' he says.
"Well, there ye have the story now, alanna, an' here's herself comin'
down the hill an' Mike afther her."
But Roseen was too much excited to heed the last announcement. "Was it
this way, the way the rich man was groanin'?" she asked, once more
imitating Pat's extraordinary utterances. The old man nodded, and
Roseen stood still meditatively scratching one little brown leg with
the curved-in toes of the other. "I wisht," she observed presently, in
a pensive tone, "that a Gout 'ud get into me gran'father's big toe; it
'ud sarve him right!"
Pat was rubbing his hands and chuckling to himself over this remark
when his wife entered, hot and weary after her peregrinations over the
"Sixpence is all they're afther givin' me," she observed plaintively.
"Dear knows, it's hard set we are to live these times at all."
"Is it sixpence, woman alive!" cried Pat; "I wonder they had the face
to offer it to ye. Well, well, I was looking for a shillin' now, or
maybe two. Here, cut the child a bit o' griddle cake; she's been
keepin' me company this long while, haven't ye, Roseen? An' it's
starvin' she is out-an'-out."
"Come here, alanna," said Mrs. Clancy, taking down the flat loaf from
the shelf in the corner; "wait till I put a pinch o' sugar on it. I'm
sorry I haven't butther for ye, but there isn't a bit in the house at
all. There now."
"Thank you, ma'am," said Roseen, extending an eager hand.
"Ye're welcome, darlint. Here, Mike, ye'd like a bit too, wouldn't
"Aye," said Mike, drawing near likewise.
He was a sturdy little fellow of about eleven, with an open sunburnt
face, hair bleached almost lint-white by the sun, and twinkling blue
eyes like his father's. The mother passed her thin knotted hand
lovingly over his tangled head and smilingly bade him "be off out o'
that with Roseen."
The two little figures darted out in the sunlight, and soon were to be
seen bounding like deer up the steep golden-green slope that led to
"What do ye think the little one there is afther sayin' to me?" asked
Pat, shading his eyes with his hand as he peered after them. "'I
wisht,' says she, 'a Gout 'ud get into me gran'father's fut,' says
she; 'it 'ud sarve him right,' she says. I was afther tellin' her the
'Story of the Spider an' the Gout,' ye know."
"Did she now?" cried Mrs. Clancy, sinking down on the stool which
Roseen had vacated and clapping her hands together. "Well now, that
bates all! But she's the 'cutest little thing--I never seen her
"'I wisht,' quoted Dan meditatively, 'a Gout 'ud get into me
gran'father's big toe an' stay there,' says she. Ha, ha; bedad I wisht
it would too, the ould naygur."
Meanwhile the children pattered up the hill and spoke no word until
they reached the summit. Sitting down under the great portcullis, they
munched their bread and sugar amicably together, Mike's eyes pensively
gazing in front of him the while, and Roseen's roving hither and
thither with quick, eager glances. Suddenly she tilted her head
backward, gazing at a narrow horizontal slit in the masonry high over