Part 5 out of 5
their heads. "That's where they used to throw the bilin' lead down in
ould ancient times when anybody wanted to come fightin' them."
Mike gazed upwards likewise, still slowly munching, but said nothing.
"When you an' me grows up an' gets married to each other, the way we
always said we would," pursued Roseen, "this 'ud be a gran' place to
Mike's face brightened, and he nodded enthusiastically. "It would so,"
"There's lots o' beau'ful rooms that we could live in," resumed
Roseen, "an' we'd make a fire in that great big enormous stone hearth
beyant, an' we'd ate off o' that big stone table, an' when anybody 'ud
offer to come annoyin' us, we'd just melt a bit o' lead an' throw it
down on them."
Mike looked astonished and perturbed. "Sure it 'ud burn the flesh off
o' their bones. I wouldn't like to be doin' that, Roseen."
"If they was rale bad people," said Roseen persuasively; "rale wicked,
crule people, the same as me gran'father beyant, it 'ud sarve them
right,--or we might throw down a sup of bilin' wather," she added as a
Mike appeared unconvinced.
"I don't think ye have a right to be talkin' that way of your
gran'father," he said reprovingly; "an' he isn't that bad. He never
offered to lay a finger on me as long as I am in it, barring the time
I let the sheep into the hay-field."
"He's a crule ould villain!" returned Roseen conclusively. "Look at
all he done on me mother. Come on now," with a sudden change of tone,
"whistle a tune an' we'll have a dance."
Mike looked lovingly at the last fragments of his griddle cake, the
enjoyment of which he had been anxious to prolong as much as possible,
and then after a little sigh, crammed them into his mouth and led the
way to the giant's wrestling ground.
"Wait a bit," he cried, as Roseen took hold of the folds of her ragged
skirt daintily in the finger and thumb of each hand, and looked
expectantly towards him, "I'm just goin' to thramp a bit in the
"What are ye doin' that for at all?" asked Roseen, knitting her
"Sure me father bid me never go past this way widout stampin' them
down a bit to keep them from gettin' smaller," answered Mike,
hammering diligently with his bare heel at the corners of the
"futprints" of the mighty Fin-ma-coul.
The operation at last concluded, he rejoined the little girl on a
small grassy plateau surrounded by low growing Irish gorse. The
heather, mingling with these furze bushes, was just beginning to
bloom, and here and there a tall foxglove towered above the undulating
irregular mass of purple and gold. Taking her place in the centre of
her ball-room, Roseen again looped up her skirt and pointed her
shapely little foot. Mike began to whistle a jig tune, his sturdy
brown legs twinkling the while in time to the measure. Now and then
his piping grew faint, and was interrupted by gasps for breath,
whereupon Roseen, still vigorously footing it, would take up the tune
after a fashion of her own, her voice imitating as nearly as might be
the sound of a fiddle. Overhead a lark was soaring, and his trill,
wafted down to them, mingled with their quaint human music; far away
over that brown and purple stretch of bog the plovers were circling,
their faint melancholy call sounding every now and then. The sun would
soon set, the air was already turning a little chilly, and the dew was
falling. The shadow of the ruined tower fell obliquely across the
golden-green carpet of their ball-room; but the children danced on,
Roseen's curls shaken into a light feathery nimbus round her brow, a
beautiful colour in her cheeks, and her little white teeth parted in a
smile of delight; while Mike pranced and capered, as though old
Peter's stick had never fallen about his shoulders, and there were no
holes in the roof at home.
Peter Rorke stood on the threshold of Monavoe, his big comfortable
house, looking round him with the proud air of the proprietor. It is
commonly said that the Devil is not so black as he is painted, and in
the case of Peter Rorke the proverb would seem to be justified. In
appearance and manner there was nothing about the man to bear out his
evil reputation. A close observer would indeed detect, in his long
narrow face, and particularly in the neighbourhood of his rather small
closely-set eyes, certain lines and wrinkles which conveyed an
impression of meanness--the one sin which, as some one very truly
observes, is apparently found least possible to forgive, particularly,
one might add, by Irish folk. But, on the whole, Peter Rorke was not
an ill-looking old fellow, and now as he stood basking in the autumn
sunlight, while his eyes wandered from one to the other of his
possessions, his face wore quite a pleasant expression. In truth, it
would have been difficult, even for the most humble of mortals, not to
feel a certain exhilaration on gazing at the evidences of prosperity
at Monavoe. The house, to begin with, was solid and comfortable, the
barns and granaries were full to overflowing; yonder were stables for
the six fine cart-horses now toiling at various corners of Peter's
domain; adjoining them the cow-houses, where Peter could not only
accommodate twelve milch-cows, but fatten in the winter an equal
number of "stall-feds"; in the "haggard" to the rear were the
innumerable golden stacks and hay-ricks which were, of all his
possessions, those most valued by the Master of Monavoe. No one in the
country was so clever in selecting time and weather for cutting and
carting; no one so cunning in ascertaining the most opportune moments
for selling, or so far-seeing with regard to prices. At this very
moment Peter Rorke was gazing at an immense rick of "prime old hay"
which he had had the prudence to keep back while all his neighbours
were selling. His wisdom now appeared; there had been an unexpected
failure in the hay crop that season, the prices had gone up
accordingly, and Peter looked forward to receiving more than double
the sum that his produce was actually worth.
Rousing himself at length from what, to one of his temperament, had
been a reverie of long duration, he turned round and called loudly to
some one whom he supposed to be within: "Rose, Rose! Are ye there,
There was no answer, and after a moment's pause he called again
impatiently. A very old woman with a white sun-bonnet tilted over her
brow came slowly from the back premises. "Where is my granddaughter,
Judy?" he asked, with a frown. Judy was no favourite of his.
"She isn't here at all," she observed; and then jerking her thumb over
her shoulder in the direction of some outhouses, "she went acrass to
the dairy a while ago."
Peter Rorke grunted, and, without another glance at the old woman,
began to walk at a rapid pace in the direction she had indicated. As
he drew near the partly open door of the dairy, the sound of a girl's
voice could be heard merrily lilting a tune; and when Peter entered
the owner of the voice turned round, abruptly ceasing her song and
gazing at him with a startled look. This was Roseen, a tall and comely
lassie of seventeen, in whose pretty, saucy face, however, and clear
blue eyes, there still remained much of the child. Her mother had died
when she was about fifteen, and, to the astonishment of every one who
knew him, Peter Rorke had announced his intention of adopting his
grandchild. He had never had any objections to the girl herself, he
declared loftily; she was well enough in every way, and his own son's
child; he could never put up with the mother, it was true--a common
little servant girl that his son had no right to have been speaking
to, much less to be goin' an' gettin' married to. Peter would never
bring himself to recognise him at all after he had demeaned himself
that way, and as long as the wife lived he couldn't be expected to
take any notice of the child; but now that she was dead an' gone to
her own place, wherever that might be, he wasn't goin' to let his
granddaughter go out to sarvice. She was Miss Rorke, and her place was
at Monavoe, where all the Rorkes had lived and died for more
generations than any one cared to count.
When, however, he had, with a good deal of pompous benevolence, driven
up on his outside-car to fetch Miss Rorke from the tumbled-down cabin
which had been hitherto the only home she had known, that young lady,
instead of being properly grateful, and impressed by her relative's
condescension, had displayed a spirit of independence, and indeed
stubbornness, which the worthy old gentleman found as bewildering as
mortifying. He had never taken any notice of them before, she had
averred; he had let her father starve, and her mother work herself to
death. Roseen was not going to be beholden to him now--she'd earn her
own bread, so she would, an' if he thought shame of his grandchild
goin' to sarvice, she was glad of it, so she was, an' she'd make sure
an' tell every one the way he was afther thratin' them. Peter had
rubbed his lantern-jaw and glanced askance at the determined little
maiden who stood facing him, her blue eyes flashing through her tears,
and every line of face and figure betokening resolution. First, he had
been puzzled, then angry, finally he had had recourse to entreaty,
feeling in his heart that he could never look the neighbours in the
face again if the story got about that this chit had "got the better
of him that way." At length Roseen had suffered herself to be
softened, and agreed, after much persuasion, to a compromise. She
would condescend to take up her abode under her grandfather's roof on
the condition that Judy came too. Judy was one of these appendages so
frequently to be seen in Irish cabins, there being, apparently,
scarcely any householder so poor that he or she cannot afford to
shelter some one poorer still. While there is a roof over their heads,
a potato to put into their mouths, the Irish peasants will share with
one another. Ever since Roseen could remember, Judy had been an inmate
of their home; she had helped in the small household labours, tended
Mrs. Rorke after her own fashion when she had been sick, scolded and
adored Roseen from babyhood to youth. There was not much else poor
Judy could do, except smoke her pipe when, by some lucky chance, a
"bit o' baccy" came in her way: she was not only old and lame, but
half-witted, very nearly "innocent." What Peter's feelings had been
may be guessed when invited to receive this strange-looking old
creature into his house; but Roseen had been firm, and he had finally
Whether there had been some dormant family affection in that withered
heart of his, which had sprung to life now that poor Mrs. Rorke no
longer stood between him and his own flesh and blood, or whether the
girl's obstinacy had aroused in him a corresponding desire to carry
his point, or whether, as some of the neighbours ill-naturedly said,
he thought if the fine little colleen was to go to sarvice at all, she
might as well come to him for no wages as to be airnin' from somebody
else, remains a mystery; but it is certain that in spite of the
unpleasant condition imposed by Roseen, Peter felt a curious glow of
pride and pleasure when he assisted Roseen to alight at the door of
Monavoe. Since then he had certainly grown fond of her, and was
moreover proud of her good looks and winsome ways. He had sent her to
a boarding-school, a grand convent establishment for young ladies,
where the good nuns had done their best to impart to her all that was
deemed essential for Mr. Rorke's granddaughter to learn. Roseen knew
already how to read, and could write after a fashion of her own; she
now learnt arithmetic, and could, indeed, keep her butter accounts by
dint of much counting on slim sunburnt fingers and puckering of her
pretty white forehead; but alas! all attempts to attain more elegant
accomplishments remained fruitless--Roseen was a thorough little
dunce. Much to the relief of all parties, she returned to Monavoe at
the end of twelve months, and thereupon devoted her energies to the
more homely acquirements in which she had since become an adept. She
could do anything with those deft fingers of hers: her butter was
proverbial, her bread excellent, she could trim a hat and hem a duster
with equal speed and nicety, and as for clear-starching and getting up
fine things, she was the wonder of the rustic matrons for ten miles
Roseen had been making butter when her grandfather entered, and,
turning round, displayed a face rosy with her exertions, and arms bare
to the elbow.
"So here ye are," remarked Peter, his grim face relaxing as much as
was possible to it; "I've been lookin' for ye everywhere. Do ye know
what I am after doin' for you this fine mornin'?"
"What?" asked Roseen, a little apprehensively, while the colour
deepened in her cheeks. Peter leaned against the long stone shelf that
ran round the dairy wall, and smiled before replying: "I am after
makin' the finest match for you that's to be had in all the country
The flush mounted to Roseen's very temples and then died away; she
paused a moment to steady her voice before venturing on a query. "I
seen Mr. Quinn goin' down the road a little while ago--is it him?"
"Ah, you little rogue! you were on the lookout, were ye?" cried Peter
jocosely. "Well, you are right; it is him. You are the rale lucky
girl, Roseen! You'll be the richest woman in the town-land."
Roseen glanced down, apparently wrestling with some inward emotion,
and presently observed in a small, strangled voice: "Sure, he is
twenty year older nor me."
"What matter?" said Peter; "he'll be all the better able to take care
o' you. It's better to marry a man with sense, nor to go takin' up
with some young whipper-snapper that would be thinkin' of nothin' but
spendin' money and carryin' on with nonsense."
"He's an ould widower," cried Roseen, wrinkling up her little nose
with an expression of disgust.
"Well," said Peter, "an' a good thing too; you'll come in for all the
beautiful dresses and jewels and things the first Mrs. Quinn left
"I am not goin' to take her lavin's, then," retorted Roseen with
spirit. "Neither her jew'lry, her dresses, nor her husband will I
have, so there! That's my answer, an' you may tell him so. He may go
make up his match with somebody else for me." With a whisk of her
skirts and a stamp of her foot, she returned to her butter.
"Come, come!" said Peter, knitting his brows. "Come, come, come!" he
repeated, in warning tones; "this won't do, miss."
Roseen tossed her head, and gave her roll of butter two or three
"If I bid you take Mr. Quinn, you'll have to take him," said Peter
"I won't, then," retorted Roseen, and she finished off one little roll
and fell to preparing another.
"You owe everything in this wide world to me, I would have you
remember," cried Peter, stammering in his wrath; "if I was to turn you
out o' doors this minute, ye wouldn't have a place to go to."
"I would soon find a place," said Roseen. "I told ye that before I
Peter, finding the threat of no avail, changed his tactics, and
assumed a wheedling tone.
"Listen, Roseen, like a good sensible girl. Sure, ye know very well
it's me that holds the place of father an' mother to you now, an' it's
my duty to see you are settled an' provided for. Well, now, ye might
sarch the world over an' not find such a good man as Mr. Quinn, an' a
real gentleman, too, mind you. Sure, it's jumping with joy you ought
to be. An' lookit here, Roseen, you are all the descendants I have,
an' if you do as I bid you, I'll make me will after ye are married to
Mr. Quinn, an' leave the two 'o you this place an' everything in the
wide world that I have. There now!"
This tempting prospect was too much for Roseen. She whisked round
again so rapidly that she overturned a pan of cream; her cheeks were
flaming, her eyes flashing with anger.
"I'll be thankin' ye not to talk to me that way, grandfather," she
cried. "I declare it's enough to vex a saint! I won't have Mr. Quinn,
an' wouldn't if he gave me a carpet of gould to walk upon. That's me
answer, an' he needn't be waitin' for me, for I won't have him."
Peter Rorke shook his head sorrowfully.
"Ye'll be bringin' me white hairs with sorrow to the grave, the same
as your father," he remarked, oblivious of the fact that the poor
fellow in question had only succeeded in laying low his own curly
black ones. "I declare me heart's broke. Ye had a right to have a bit
more consideration for me, Roseen, after all I done for ye. Did I ever
give ye a cross word, now, since you come here?"
Roseen opened her eyes a little blankly, stricken with sudden remorse.
It was true her grandfather had ever treated her kindly since she had
come to Monavoe, and indeed, after a certain queer fashion, the two
had grown to be rather fond of each other.
"Haven't I always given you everything you wanted?" pursued Peter, in
a querulous tone; "everything in reason, anyhow. Look at the beautiful
blue tabinet dress I gave you--sure there isn't the like in the
place--and the new hat ye have, an' kid gloves an' all! Sure, I never
deny you anything! An' you up an' give me them disrespectful answers,
an' refuse to do the only thing I ever axed ye!"
Tears were actually twinkling in the old man's narrow eyes, so much
aggrieved did he feel himself to be. Roseen began to cry too. "It's me
that has me heart broke," she sobbed. "How can I go marryin' Mr. Quinn
wid his ugly red face, an' him an ould widower an' cross-eyed into the
bargain? Sure, if it was anything else now--" A burst of woe
interrupted her utterance.
"Me child," said Peter impressively, "I know more what's for your good
nor you do yourself; but don't distress yourself too much, alanna: Mr.
Quinn says he does not mind waitin' as long as you like, so we'll say
no more about it for a while."
"O--o--o--oh!" groaned Roseen.
Peter prevented further lamentations by assuring her, with various
affectionate pats on the arm, that he knew she would never go annoyin'
her poor ould grandfather, but they'd say no more about it, for a bit
anyhow. He withdrew, leaving Roseen still sobbing amid the fragments
of a broken milk-pan, and perhaps the ruins of a castle in the air.
Presently, however, she dried her eyes, and, being a methodical
person, set to work to repair the disorder around her. When the broken
crockery was removed, the cream wiped up, and the remaining butter
rolled into shape, she went out, closing the dairy door after her and,
giving a hasty glance to right and to left, made her way swiftly
across the "haggard" and down a grassy lane beyond, to a large field,
where a man was to be seen leisurely assembling together a troop of
Roseen ran quickly across the grass towards him, stopping as soon as
she perceived that he had caught sight of her, and beckoning to him
"Come here, Mike!" she cried softly, as he hastened towards her, "I've
something to be tellin' ye."
Mike quickened his pace. He was a tall young fellow, but slender, with
an honest, good-humoured face. Without being handsome, there was
something attractive about him--an alertness, a vigour in the
well-knit limbs, a candour and kindliness in the expression of the
open face, a tenderness, moreover, in the blue eyes as they rested on
Roseen--which would seem to account for the fact that these former
playfellows were now lovers.
Roseen looked piteously at him, as he halted beside her, gazing with
alarm at the trace of tears which still remained on her face.
"Me grandfather wants me to get married to Mr. Quinn," she announced
"God bless us!" ejaculated Mike, his cheeks growing pale beneath their
tan. "What did ye say, alanna?"
"I said I wouldn't," answered Roseen.
"That's me brave girl! I declare ye're afther givin' me such a fright,
I don't know whether I am on me head or on me heels. Was he goin' to
murther ye for that?"
"He was at first," replied the girl, "and then he began sayin'--Oh
dear, oh dear, me heart's broke!" She was sobbing now violently.
"Sure, what matther what he says?" cried Mike, much concerned. "Ye
have no call to be frettin' that way; let him say what he likes, bad
luck to him! Sure, ye won't be havin' Mr. Quinn, Roseen, will ye?"
"N--no," said Roseen. "Me grandfather says I'm bringin' his white
hairs with sorrow to the grave."
"Ah, the ould gomeril!" retorted Mike unsympathetically. "Bedad, what
hairs he has isn't white at all, but red as carrots! Don't ye be
listenin', Roseen, asthore. Sure, ye wouldn't marry ugly Mr. Quinn?"
he repeated anxiously.
"I would not," replied Roseen; "but I don't like me grandfather to be
talkin' that way. An'--an' his hair isn't that red, Mike," she added
reprovingly; "ye have no call to be sayin' it is."
"If I never said worse nor you have said yourself often an' often!"
retorted the lad. "Many's the time I heard ye at it."
"That was before I had sense," replied Roseen, a trifle loftily; "ye
have no call to be castin' that up at me now. Me an' me grandfather
has never fell out since I come here."
"Oh, that indeed," said Mike sarcastically; "ye're gettin' altogether
too good an' too grand. Hothen indeed, I may as well make up my mind
to it--ye'll be Mrs. Quinn before the year is out. Sure, what chanst
has a poor fellow the same as meself, wid the ould wans at home to
support as well as meself, when there's such a fine match as Mr. Quinn
to the fore! Och bedad! when ye're sittin' along wid him on your
side-car, ye'll never offer to throw so much as a look at poor Mike."
At this affecting picture Roseen wept more than ever, and brokenly
assured the honest fellow that not for all the Mister Quinns in the
world would she ever forget him, and that she would wait for him till
she was grey, she would, an' marry nobody else, no matter what might
Thus reassured, Mike could not do less than apologise for his
intemperate language, and a reconciliation was in the act of taking
place when Mr. Peter Rorke chanced to look over the hedge. It was past
milking-time, and he had come to see why his cows had not been driven
in as usual. Leaning on his stick and trembling with rage, he
apostrophised the young pair in no measured terms.
"Now I understand, miss," he added, after relieving his mind by a
burst of eloquence, "now I understand why you thought so bad of Mr.
Quinn's kind offer. It was this young schamer ye had in your mind--him
that ye should think no more of nor the dirt under your feet."
"Well then, grandfather," cried Roseen hotly, "I may as well tell ye
straight out that I won't stand here an' hear Michael Clancy abused.
He's all the husband ever I'll have, an' ye may make up your mind to
Peter spluttered with fury and brandished his stick. It was perhaps
well for the girl that the hedge divided them.
"Get in wid ye into the house this minute out o' me sight," he
screamed. "Him your husband! A dirty little beggar's brat that I
picked up out o' the gutter for charity!"
"Charity yourself," interrupted Mike, squaring his shoulders. "I've
done more work for ye nor ever ye paid me for--now! And the Clancys is
as good as the Rorkes, an' an oulder family, though we are down in the
world, along wid bad luck an' misfortun'."
"The Clancys is an ould ancient family," chimed in Roseen. Her
grandfather turned to her, almost beside himself with exasperation.
"Get in wid ye to the house this instant, as I bid ye, miss; or it'll
be the worse for ye. Be off, now, before I come over the hedge to
"If you dar' lay a finger," began Mike; but Roseen interrupted him
with a little defiant laugh.
"Sure, I am not afeard of him, Mike. I am more afeard of his hurting
himself nor me; but I'm goin' now, anyway, an' I am glad ye know the
truth, grandfather, so that ye needn't be botherin' me about Mr.
She went away, moving slowly and carrying her curly head very high.
Peter watched her till she was out of sight and hearing, and then
turned to Mike.
"Now then," he cried, "we'll have this matter settled. You'll go out
o' this, me lad, an' so will your father an' mother. They're owin' me
a year's rent an' more."
"Didn't I tell ye I would work it off, little by little?" said Mike,
who had suddenly become very pale. "It was me poor mother bein' sick
last year that thrun us back, an' you said ye would have patience wid
"Then ye had a right to behave better," returned Rorke. "How dar' ye
go make up to my granddaughter, you young villain? I'd have ye to know
that Miss Rorke is not for the likes of you."
All poor Mike's pride and valour seemed to have deserted him since
"Sure, Roseen an' me was always fond of one another," he said
pleadingly. "I couldn't remember a time when we wasn't. Her an' me was
ould playfellows, and she used to be as much at our place as at home."
"It won't be your place much longer," retorted Peter curtly. "Out o'
this ye may all go, bag an' baggage, the whole pack of yous."
"Me father hasn't stirred out o' that chimley corner for years an'
years," urged Mike; "an' me mother, God help her! she's near as bad as
him wid the weakness an' the terrible cough she has this while back.
It 'ud be the death of her out an' out--sure, where could the cratur's
"Let them go to the poor-house, unless you can make a livin' for them
somewhere out o' this. I'll not have ye here, mind. Ye needn't come
an' work to-morrow, an' ye may tell your father an' mother to be
gettin' ready to march, for they'll be havin' the bailiff in on them
as soon as I can get him."
A deep flush replaced Mike's pallor and a shiver of indignation shook
him from head to foot.
"Mr. Rorke," he cried, "ye don't mane what ye are sayin'. Ye'd never
have the heart to turn them two ould craturs out on the roadside to
"Wouldn't I though?" retorted Peter; "ye'll soon find out for
yourselves whether I would or not."
He turned and was hastening homewards, when Mike called after him. The
old man faced him, still sneering.
"This will not bring you luck," cried Mike, his young voice quivering,
his face working with emotion, his usually merry eyes ablaze with
passion. "I tell you it'll bring a curse on you. You'll live to rue
the day you turned on us that way--an' maybe it won't be long before
ye are sorry."
Peter's only answer was an ironical laugh, and he once more resumed
his homeward journey, leaving Mike standing pale and trembling beside
Peter entered the house, flushed with triumph, and, calling loudly for
Roseen, informed her that he was after sendin' that fine young
sweetheart of hers about his business.
"Ye don't mane to say you turned him off!" cried the girl, in dismay.
"The poor fellow, how is he to live at all, him that has his old
father and mother to keep as well as himself?"
"His father and mother won't be costing him anything much now, I am
thinkin'," explained Peter politely. "That grand ancient family of the
Clancys will soon be out o' this place, an' living in the greatest
aise and comfort at the country's expense in the poorhouse, me dear."
"What do ye mane at all? Indeed Mike will never let them go there.
He'll work till the two hands drops off of him, but he will conthrive
to keep a roof over their heads."
"Will he now?" said Rorke, still laboriously urbane. "I wonder what
roof that'll be?"
Roseen looked up quickly, her parted lips suddenly turning white.
"I am thinking," resumed Peter, "he'll have to make haste an' find a
place for them, for they'll be out o' the old one soon enough."
"Grandfather!" cried Roseen, "ye're not going to put them out in
airnest, are ye? Sure ye'd never have the heart! The poor old couple
is dying on their feet as it is. It'll be the death o' them altogether
if ye go do that."
"An' a very good thing too," retorted Peter. "We'll be shut o' the
whole of them out-an'-out, that way."
"Ye're a regular hard-hearted old Turk," cried Roseen, "that's what ye
are! The whole countryside will cry shame on ye! It is outrageous, so
it is! 'Pon me word, ye're as bad as Cromwell."
"Ah, ha," said Peter, "I'll tell ye what it is, Roseen, the more
impidence ye give me, the more I'll do on the Clancys. _Now_! Ye bold
little lump! How dar' ye go speak to me that way? I'll teach ye to be
carryin' on wid the likes o' that. Not another word out o' ye now, or
I'll walk down to the Clancys this minute an' throw them out on the
road before dark."
Roseen's fury was replaced by terror.
"Och, grandfather, sure ye wouldn't do the like! I ax your pardon for
spakin' disrespectful to ye. Sure ye're not in airnest? Ye won't raly
put the poor old man and his wife there out o' their little place?
They won't be troublin' you long. A-a-h, grandfather, me own dear
grandfather, do lave them where they are an' I'll promise faithful
never to give you a crass word again."
But neither the coaxing tone nor the touch of the soft clinging arms,
which the girl now wound about him, moved Peter's heart.
"Out o' this them Clancys goes, bag and baggage," he asserted; "if
ye'd wanted me to let them stay where they were, an' them owin' me so
much rent an' all, ye ought to have behaved different. But on account
of this impident young sckamer ye go tellin' me ye won't marry Mr.
Quinn, the man I chose for ye, an' I catch ye sweetheartin' an'
carryin' on wid that ploughboy there, demanin' yourself altogether.
Sure nobody could be expected to stand that. I won't stand it anyhow.
Out they go, and off the whole o' them may march."
Roseen was silent for a moment, apparently battling with herself, and
at last she said in a very shaky voice:
"It's a poor case if it's me that's bringin' this throuble on them
all. Grandfather, if--if I was to give ye me word that I wouldn't
spake to Mike in the way of courtin' agin--"
"Wisha!" cried Peter sarcastically, "much good that would do. I know
the way ye would keep your promise, me lady; no, no, I'll make sure of
"Oh, grandfather! I'll promise, I promise faithful never so much as to
look at Mike!"
But Peter was inexorable; he had been wounded in his tenderest point,
bearded by these two impudent young people--set at nought. His pride,
moreover, could not brook the proximity of the audacious youth who had
dared to aspire to the hand of his granddaughter, and of the parents
who had, as he had been reminded that day, ventured to befriend her
when he himself had cast her off.
He felt that he must be rid of them without delay. Poor Roseen crept
upstairs and sat disconsolately at the window, watching the corner of
the haggard where she expected before long to see Mike appear. It had
been the custom of the young pair to meet for a few moments every
evening, under the shadow of the big hayrick and there converse before
Mike returned home. He would surely come, if only to say good-bye.
Poor fellow, what would he do? Whither would he go? Big tears rolled
down Roseen's cheeks as she thought of his desperate plight.
As she sat watching and waiting--for she dared not venture out too
soon lest her grandfather's suspicions should be aroused--a sudden
rattling and fumbling at the lock of her own door made her turn round.
The door was opened for a moment, a lean hand thrust into the room,
the key which had been on the inner side was withdrawn suddenly; then
the door quickly closed again, and before Roseen thoroughly realised
what had happened, old Peter locked her in.
"Good night, me dear!" he cried ironically through the keyhole; "I
think it's as well for ye to stay quiet this evenin' an' not be takin'
any more walks, or tirin' or excitin' yourself. Pleasant dreams,
Down the stairs he went, chuckling to himself and leaving the girl
furious. She banged at the door with all her might and main, but the
lock held fast and no one came to her rescue; then she rushed to the
window and threw it open; but the distance from the ground was too
great for even a desperate maiden to jump, and she wrung her hands
frantically. Mike would think she had given him up; he would fancy her
grandfather had got round her, and that she had deserted him in his
humiliation and distress. Was there nobody who would help her, no one
by whom she could convey at least a message?
As if in answer to her agonised prayer, certain shuffling steps were
presently heard below, and old Judy's white sunbonnet appeared round
the corner of the house. Roseen clapped her hands: here was one who
would do her bidding, a faithful hench-woman who could be trusted to
carry out her orders in defiance of old Peter's commands.
"Judy!" cried the girl softly, bending out of the window.
Judy looked up in astonishment. "Is it there ye are?" she cried.
"Oh, Judy, my grandfather has me locked in! Listen now! I want ye to
do something for me."
Judy's face clouded over. "I was just stalin' out to have me little
pipe," she said. "The masther does be killin' me, when he catches me
at it, an' I was makin' me way off while he had his back turned."
"Ah, ye can smoke away as much as ye like," cried Roseen impatiently.
"See here, Judy, all I want ye to do is to stand over there, by the
corner of the haggard, an' watch till Mike comes, an' tell him me
grandfather's afther lockin' me up, an' I can't get out this evenin',
but the first chanst I have to-morrow I'll run round. An' tell
him"--here her voice faltered--"that no matther what any one says,
I'll always be faithful to him. An' I'll never get married to anybody
on'y to himself."
Judy's beady black eyes were fixed somewhat vacantly on her mistress's
face during this speech, but she nodded at the end, and on being
adjured not to forget, informed Roseen, somewhat tartly, that she had
no notion of forgettin'. She hobbled off fingering her beloved pipe,
and Roseen, sitting by the window, watched the twilight deepen and saw
the world grow misty and indistinct, and heard the birds twittering as
they went to roost. Then the stars came out one by one, and a pale
young moon showed faintly in the sky; it was night now, but Judy had
not returned. Was it possible that Mike had failed to appear at the
After what seemed an interminable time, Judy's uncertain footfalls
were again heard, and her white bonnet showed indistinctly in the
dusk, bobbing up and down as she approached. Roseen craned forward her
head eagerly. "What did he say, Judy?"
"I'm afther losin' me lovely pipe," responded the old woman, halting
beneath the window. "What in the world will I do? I'm afther losin'
it. Oh dear! oh dear!--the on'y bit o' comfort I had."
"Whisht, whisht; ye'll find it to-morrow, when the light comes. Did ye
see Mike, Judy? An' what did he say?"
"Ah, don't be botherin' me about Mike," wailed Judy, "I have other
things to be thinkin' of, I'm afther losing me beautiful pipe; me
heart's broke entirely!"
"Judy, Judy! I'll give ye the loveliest pipe ever ye seen, an' a
beautiful roll o' twist, if on'y ye'll tell me. Wasn't Mike in it at
all, Judy? Tell me that, for the love of Heaven."
Judy made a desperate effort to collect the scattered remnants of her
wits, and presently said doubtfully: "Is it Mike ye are axing about?
Sure what 'ud bring Mike to the haggard? I did _not_ see him--an' me
pipe is lost on me!"
Roseen fairly stamped her foot. Why had she been such a fool as to
count on this poor old idiotic creature? Probably while Judy was
hunting for her pipe, Mike had watched and waited in vain for a sign
from his love.
Judy shuffled off, lamenting, but Roseen sat still at her open
casement, pondering mournfully on the misfortunes which had
overwhelmed those she loved, and bewailing her impotence to help them.
Soon all was absolutely still; the house was wrapt in slumber, and at
last, rising, chilled and weary, the girl prepared to go to rest. As
she closed the window her eye was caught by a curious appearance in
the sky, immediately above the long line of the regularly shaped
stacks in the haggard. The big hayrick particularly was defined with
curious clearness against what seemed to be a glow in the sky. As she
looked a sudden tongue of flame sprang out from the western corner,
and ran leaping up the great dark mass, spreading and widening as it
went; then sparks were thrown out, and Roseen suddenly realised that
the great rick, composed of tons upon tons of hay, worth at this
moment a fortune in itself, was on fire. Screaming she rushed
frantically to the door, but owing to Peter's forethought she was
locked in. In vain she hammered and shrieked; no one heeded her. Such
labourers as remained on the premises at night slept over the stables;
the two maid-servants whom Peter employed only came by day. If Judy
heard, she had not the sense to heed; and old Peter himself, snuggling
into his pillows, merely turned over when the din reached his ears,
muttering to himself with righteous indignation that a body would
think the girl would know better nor behave that way, but let her
shout as much as she liked an' tire herself out, she'd be apt to be a
bit quieter in the mornin'. Meanwhile the little flame, which Roseen
had first seen, had grown apace. The slight crackling sound which had
originally accompanied its progress, was replaced by a sullen roar;
volumes of ruddy smoke filled the air; a pungent, peculiar smell
penetrated even to Roseen's room, almost suffocating her. Would no one
hear, would no one heed? Taking the poker she knocked on the floor,
hoping to produce some response from her grandfather, but finding that
he did not answer she fell to hammering and battering the lock of her
door with such vigour and good-will that at last she succeeded in
breaking it. Rushing down stairs, candle in hand, she burst in upon
"Get up, grandfather, get up at wanst! the big rick is on fire, and
will be burnt to a cinder if you don't make haste." Old Peter sat up,
blinking at the light, and at first refusing to believe Roseen; but
when the girl flung open the window and he saw and heard for himself
that the alarm was only too well founded, he fairly burst out crying
like a child.
"Me rick, me beautiful rick! I'm ruined and destroyed entirely!
What'll I do at all?"
"Get up!" said Roseen sharply, "and let's get all the help we can.
I'll run out an' call Jack an' Barney, an' do you put on your clothes
an' fill the stable bucket."
She flew out, and after some trouble succeeded in rousing the men in
question, who, however, when they arrived on the scene and saw the
extent of the damage which had already been done, gave her little hope
of being able to arrest its progress.
"Sure it's all wan sheet of flame, none of us could get near it,"
cried one, pointing to the rick. "What good would a bucket or two of
wather do on that?"
"Well, do something can't yez?" cried Roseen. "There's no good in
standin' there, lookin' at it. I'll run off an' fetch Mike Clancy; he
has more sense nor the whole o' yez put together."
Off she sped, finding her way easily, even in the dark, along the
familiar path; but when she reached the cabin, and after much knocking
succeeded in arousing Mrs. Clancy, disappointment awaited her--Mike
was nowhere to be found.
The news went round the country next morning, first that old Peter
Rorke's famous hayrick and two of the neighbouring cornstacks were
burnt to the ground, and secondly that Michael Clancy had mysteriously
disappeared. By-and-by certain additional circumstances were reported
which caused people to connect the one fact with the other, and to
comment thereon in whispers, with divers nods and winks, and
mysterious jerks of the thumb. Michael was after havin' words with the
ould fellow, it was rumoured, on account of his bein' sweet on Roseen,
an' him and his ould father and mother were goin' to be put out o'
their little place. Sure no wonder the poor boy--Well, well, he'd have
had the time to get far enough off by this, an' it was nobody's
business, on'y his own, poor fellow!
It was whispered that Jack McEvoy had seen Mike on the evening before,
standing in the corner of the haggard lookin' about him "rale
distracted, ye'd say." "What are ye doin' there at all, this time o'
night?" said Jack. "Och, nothin' much," says Mike, "just streelin'
about." "Well," says Jack, "I'm afeard ye are after gettin' poor
Roseen into throuble; there's the great blow-up entirely goin' on
beyant there at the house. The masther's murdherin' Roseen for the way
the two of yez has been goin' on. He had her crying, the poor little
girl," says Jack; "I h'ard her through the windy," says he. "'Oh,
grandfather,' she says, 'I'll never spake to Mike agin, I give ye me
word,' she says. 'I'll never ax to look at him,' says she. Well," Jack
said, "if ye'd seen the look that come over Mike's face! He staggered
back, so he did. 'The ould devil,' says he, 'he's afther gettin' round
her an' turnin' her agin me.'" "Och, to be sure," says Jack, "he's a
rale ould villain! Is it true that he's puttin' yez all out in the
road?" "He is," says Mike, "but he'll be sorry for it yet?"
"Mind that now," some one would say, and the nods and the shakings of
the heads would become more mysterious than ever, and then the gossips
would begin to chuckle over Peter's discomfiture; the universal
verdict being that "It sarved him right, the covetious ould
blackguard!" Mrs. Clancy had told Roseen, weeping, that Mike was gone
off wid himself. He had come in late, very near distracted, the poor
boy, an' he had said "good-bye" to his father an' mother, an' had told
them he was goin' to England to try an' make a bit o' money at the
potato-harvest, the way they wouldn't have to go to the workhouse when
Mr. Rorke turned them out.
Gone without a word of farewell to her! Roseen betook herself
homewards full of bewildered pain; but kept her own counsel.
When the whispers anent the probable cause of his disappearance
reached her ears, she felt a momentary thrill of apprehension, but her
faith in her old friend survived this temptation. "Mike never done the
like," she said to herself, with a proud little toss of her head; even
when by--and--by the lad was openly accused of having been the cause
of the disaster, she took his part against all comers, making no
secret of her own intention, frustrated by her grandfather, of meeting
him in the haggard, and announcing boldly that it was on her account
that Mike had come there.
Old Peter, who had behaved like a man distracted while his property
was being consumed before his eyes, was the first to connect the
disappearance of Mike with this act of destruction, and declared he
would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to capture and punish
The police were soon on poor Mike's track, and before long he was
discovered in the act of embarking for Liverpool, and ignominiously
dragged back to the scene of his supposed exploit. In vain he denied
all knowledge of the deed, putting forward the same motive for his
absence as his mother had done; circumstances were adverse to him, and
the evidence against him sufficiently strong to justify the magistrate
in committing him for trial at the approaching assizes. In the
meantime the unfortunate fellow was despatched to the county gaol.
Peter Rorke remained in a condition of mind bordering upon frenzy;
some of his neighbours opined that he was goin' out of his wits
altogether, and there were moments when Roseen herself was in terror
of him. The old man's excitement took a most unpleasant form, his
hatred of Mike and his unfortunate parents being little less than
Not only were the poor old couple evicted with the least possible
delay, but their few "sticks of furniture," precious to themselves and
worth absolutely nothing to anybody else, were seized and carried off
to Monavoe--there being no bidders at the sale which Peter held in
"distraint for rent."
Poor old Pat was helped out of the cabin and insisted on seating
himself by the roadside to watch proceedings, though his wife tried
anxiously to persuade him to accept at once the hospitality pressed
upon them by sympathetic neighbours.
"Lave me alone," he growled, "I'll see this out, so I will. Och,
bedad, they are afther liftin' out the bed now--mind it doesn't fall
to pieces on yez before yez get it into the cart. Troth, ould Peter
himself ought to sleep in that iligant bed; it's the pleasant dhrames
"It doesn't become ye to be talkin' that way, Pat," cried "Herself,"
flushed and weeping; "that was me mother's bed, so it was. Oh dear, oh
dear! that I should live to see it taken off of us that way! And
there's me pot that I biled mornin' an' evenin' these years an'
"Och, musha, lave the pot," retorted Pat; "sure what good is the pot
to us when we haven't a bit to put in it? Troth, now the ould sckamer
beyant has Mike in prison, we may give up altogether. Yourself an' me
will soon be undher the Daisy-quilt, never fear. There they have me
ould chair, now," he added sardonically; "troth it looks well cocked
up there. Mind the china now, Jack McEvoy; herself here thinks there
isn't the like in the country,--have ye all now, the two mugs an' the
three plates, an' the cups an' saucers, an' the little taypot with the
cracked spout? Ah, don't be forgettin' the little jug though, the
little weeny jug with a rose on it. Sure, what are ye crying for,
woman! Isn't it great grandeur for the little jug to be goin' up to
Monavoe? Bedad, ould Peter'll be apt to be puttin' it undher a glass
case on the chimley-piece!"
Their friends and neighbours gathering round gazed with puzzled looks
at the old man as he sat enthroned on his heap of stones, his knotted
trembling hands leaning on a blackthorn stick, his face flushed, and
his eyes blazing under their shaggy white brows. They could scarcely
understand his stoicism; Mrs. Clancy's lamentations were far more
comprehensible to them.
"I won't be in it long," she wailed, "throublin' anybody. Sure, what
matther if it's in the poorhouse the two of us ends our days, now poor
Mike has been sent to gaol on us! Ah! God bless us! I could never
hould up me head agin afther that."
"God help ye!" commented a bystander. "Don't be frettin' that a-way,
ma'am; sure even if he's in gaol itself, he'll be out agin before ye
know where yez are an' maybe they wouldn't keep him in it at all."
"'Deed then they had a right to let him out at wanst," groaned Mrs.
Clancy from beneath her apron. "The Lord knows he never done what
they're afther sayin' he done."
"Hothen, indeed, I wouldn't make too sure of that," put in Pat. "Why
wouldn't he do it? Bedad, he'ud have done well if he done twice as
much. No, but he had a right to have burnt the ould villain in his bed
an' got shut of him out-an'-out--the on'y mistake the poor fellow
made, was lettin' him off so aisy."
"Whisht, whisht! in the name of goodness! God bless us! what is it
ye're sayin' at all? Sure, poor Mike's as innocent as a lamb."
"Heth, he's the fine lamb!" retorted the father sarcastically. "Well,
I believe they have everything now, down to the little creepy. Good
luck to ye, Jack McEvoy; mind how ye go takin' it up the road--don't
be dhroppin' any of it out o' the cart. Give me compliments to Mr.
Rorke, and tell him I hope he'll enjoy my iligant furnitur, an' much
good may it do him!"
Jack McEvoy, one of Peter's men, climbed into the cart sheepishly
enough and drove off. Once more the neighbours pressed round the
homeless old pair, quarrelling for the honour of harbouring them.
"It's coming along wid me they are," cried one, "aren't yez now? sure
of course they are. Isn't mine the biggest house anywhere in
"Ah, but it's that far off," argued another. "Look at the length of
time it 'ud take them to be gettin' there, an' the two of them so wake
on their legs, God help them! No, but it'll be betther for them step
down to my little place that's handy. An' it ud' take them no time at
all to get there."
"Good gracious, woman, where would ye put them in that little
shebeen--sure there isn't room in it for your own childer. God bless
them! the fine childer they are too--but where in the world would you
find a corner for Misther and Mrs. Clancy?"
"Troth, I'll find a corner aisy enough; and it wouldn't do a ha'porth
of harm to the two little fellows if they were to sleep for a few
nights undher the turf stack outside. It's grand warm weather we are
havin', Glory be to Goodness, an' they'd sleep as sound as a bell by
the side of it."
"Oh, not at all, ma'am," put in Mrs. Clancy, "we wouldn't dhrame to be
puttin' ye about that much; the poor little fellows might be gettin'
their deaths o' cold on ye. Indeed it doesn't matther where we go; we
are a throuble to every wan. I wisht the Lord 'ud take us out of it
altogether," she added dismally; "I'd sooner be in the old gully-hole
at wanst nor be goin' to the poorhouse, and, dear knows, that's where
we'll have to go."
"Not wan bit, then," cried Pat resolutely, "not wan fut will ye iver
put in the poorhouse, woman, nor me neither. We'll be back in the ould
place here yit, see if we aren't. Nobody 'ud go in it on'y ourselves,
an' it'll be there waitin' for us till the poor boy comes out an' puts
us back in it."
The neighbours glanced from one to the other, and by common accord
decided to humour the old man.
"To be sure ye will, Misther Clancy. The two of yez will be back there
before we can turn round, an' Mike will be apt to be gettin' your bits
o' things back for yez too. Sure the old rogue up there will have no
call to keep them wanst the boy has paid up the bit yez owe him."
"Troth, it'll be no time at all before you're back, Pat, an' ye had a
right to lave talkin' that way about the poorhouse, ma'am. There isn't
a wan of us that 'ud ever let yez go there, bad luck to it! No,
"Aye, we'll be back yet in the ould little place," repeated Pat with
conviction, "we will so; come on out o' that, Mary, an' make up your
mind where it is we're goin' this night. Sure the craturs here is
fightin' for the honour of havin' us. Stop turnin' your head round
now; the place won't run away on ye till we're back in it."
All the neighbours were indeed vying with each other in their anxiety
to entertain and comfort the helpless old pair, and prove at once
their sympathy with them in their trouble and their indignation with
"He done it just out of spite, mind ye," they said one to the other.
"Wasn't he afther promisin' Mike to let him work out the thrifle o'
rent they were owin?"
"Aye! he is the outrageousest ould villain that ever stepped," was the
general verdict. Nevertheless, as in all communities there is
generally one ill-conditioned person, even in the little village of
Donoughmor there was to be found a time-server who, wishing for
reasons of his own to ingratiate himself with Peter Rorke, was base
enough to report to him old Pat Clancy's hasty words.
"He's saying he wished Mike had burnt ye in your bed, an' more by
token," added Peter's informant, "he's tellin' every wan that it'll be
no time at all before he's back in his own place again the same as
ever he was, an' that you may do what ye like on him, he doesn't
"He says that, does he?" cried Peter, crimson with fury; "I'll soon
show him he's makin' a bit of a mistake. 'Pon me word, did ever
anybody hear the like o' that?"
"Well, that's what he says," repeated the other. "'I wisht,' he says,
'that Mike had burnt the ould villain in his bed,' says he. That's the
very word he said, 'the ould villain' he says; 'an' got shut of him,'
says he, 'but it'll be no time at all before herself an' me is back in
the ould place,' he says. He did so--it's the truth I'm tellin' ye,
that's the very way he said it."
"I'll show him different then," repeated Peter. "I wisht I'd thought
of it first off--the way he'd have seen it."
"An' what's that, sir?"
"You'll soon see. 'Pon me word, I wisht I had him there now in his
bed, the ould raskil, the way I could do on him what he's wishin' his
spalpeen of a son had done on me. Are ye there, Pat?" he cried,
raising his voice.
"I am, sir," returned some one from the region of the stables.
"Is Barney there?"
"Bring him along wid ye then; an' call Jack McEvoy and a couple more
of the boys. Bring a pick wid ye, an' a couple of them hatchets--an'
"Sir?" replied Pat, suddenly appearing from behind the stable-wall.
"Run round to the kitchen an' fetch the big bottle of paraffin off o'
the long shelf there."
"I will, sir. Where will we be goin' to, sir?"
"I have a little job for yous to do down at Donoughmor," said Peter.
"Hurry up now the whole of yous; I don't want to be losin' more time
over it nor I can help."
The officious visitor, finding that matters were likely to become more
unpleasant than he had anticipated, disappeared while preparations
were going forward, and it was only at the head of his own startled
and unwilling band of followers that Peter at length sallied forth.
Not a word said Peter Rorke until he reached the Clancys' deserted
cabin, and with his own hands set fire to the thatch; then falling
back a step or two he rubbed his hands and chuckled.
"There, now," he cried, "let us see if I can't make near as good a
bonfire as Mike Clancy himself! Throw a sup more paraffin on, you,
Pat; now stand back all of yous, an' look at the fine blaze. As soon
as we have the roof off of it, you can all set to work an' pull the
whole place down. Then we'll see if the Clancys will come to their own
again, as the ould blackguard Pat keeps tellin' every one. I don't
think it'll be worth his while to step back in it when I've done with
The poor little rotten roof, mossgrown as it was, did not burn as
rapidly as Peter could have wished, but by dint of much coaxing and a
plentiful sprinkling of paraffin, the fire at last gained ground, and
a dense smoke began to issue from the smouldering thatch. Peter
coughed and choked, and at last calling out to his men that he would
be with them again as soon as that part of the job was over, climbed
up the rocky hillside, pausing only when he had reached the summit,
and turning round with a long gasping breath. The air was clearer
there, and it pleased him to look down from this eminence on his
destructive work. The smoke of the burning roof hung over the little
dwelling as though to hide its degradation; jets of flame leaped
through it now and then; from time to time one of his men approached
with the bottle of paraffin, but the rest stood together looking on,
somewhat sullenly. Farther down the lane a few women and old folks had
gathered together; from his altitude Peter watched them, marking their
eager gestures and imagining the horror and disgust in their faces.
"Let them say what they like," he muttered to himself grimly, "I'll
not leave a bit o' the place standin'. Aye! they may curse an' swear
as much as they like, it doesn't hurt me."
Suddenly he bethought him how Mike had threatened him before setting
fire to his rick; his hard-heartedness would bring a curse upon him,
the boy had said. Peter asked himself now, with a dry chuckle, upon
whom the curse had fallen most heavily. It was certainly a piece of
bad luck to lose his splendid rick, but he had paid the villains well
out for it. There was Mike in gaol, the old people living on the
charity of their neighbours, with no prospect before them but to end
their days in the workhouse; their goods scattered, their cabin razed
to the ground--who was the most accursed?
Ha! one of those women down there had fallen on her knees and was
raising her hands to heaven; another crone was shaking her fist in his
direction. Let them pray and let them threaten--Peter was not afraid
of anything or anybody, neither God nor man--not of the devil himself!
A sudden sound of stones falling just behind him made him turn round
quickly. He could see nothing, but a curious scraping and rustling
were still to be heard. He was standing almost beneath a low stone
wall which traversed the summit. The sound appeared to him to come
from a spot immediately above his head; he looked up and could see
through a fissure in the wall what seemed to be a moving form. His
gaze remaining fixed and fascinated on this object, distinguished at
last a dark face with two gleaming eyes surmounted by _horns_. All
Peter Rorke's vaunted courage deserted him; conscience-stricken and
smitten by sudden agonising fears, he uttered a shrill quavering
scream and began to totter down the hill with all the speed he could
The steep path had been rendered more slippery than usual by recent
rain, and afforded very insecure footing. Peter, rushing blindly
forward, soon lost all control over his limbs, and fell at last,
rolling over and over until he dropped on the rocks below.
His men, hastening to his assistance, hardly dared to raise him from
the ground, and when they had at last mustered courage to do so, they
were under the firm belief that it was the corpse of their master
which they were carrying home. But Peter Rorke was not dead yet, and
to the surprise of all who had known him, soon demonstrated that he
was going to cheat a certain Old Gentleman--who had been considered
his intimate friend during his long life--of his company at the close
of it. His end in fact was most edifying. He made his peace with both
God and man before he departed. To the last he remained persuaded that
the horned face, which had peered at him through the ruins of
Donoughmor, was that of the devil himself.
The explanation that the McEvoys' goat, which had been tethered on the
hill, had broken loose and clambered up the ruined wall did not seem
to him to have any bearing on the case. It was his belief that the
"Ould Boy" had somewhat prematurely appeared to claim him; and his
most anxious endeavour was to cheat him of his due. So Peter
accomplished deeds which, under other circumstances, would have been
impossible to him. He made his will to begin with, leaving a good deal
of money in charity, and the bulk of his fortune to Roseen; he left
directions that the Clancys were to be reinstated in their cabin and
emphatically announced that he forgave Mike. When this last item, by
the way, was reported to Pat, the old man's indignation knew no
Peter's last hours were not, however, disturbed by any hint as to the
Clancys' attitude, and it was with the most peaceful and resigned
disposition that he, at last, betook himself to another world, with
the full assurance that it would prove a better one.
When Roseen had in some measure recovered from the shock of her
grandfather's death, her thoughts turned at once to the Clancys. One
of the family indeed had never been absent from them, and it was with
surprise and indignation that she learnt that old Peter's forgiveness
would in no manner affect Mike's actual position. The crime of which
he was accused was so serious in character that he would have to await
his trial at the approaching Sessions.
For his parents, however, something could be done, and Roseen, now
finding herself mistress of Monavoe and all who dwelt there, proceeded
to give orders right and left with an assurance which surprised those
who had formerly known her. Injunctions were issued that the Clancys'
cottage should be re-roofed and made habitable without delay, and,
meanwhile, she announced her intention of taking the old couple to
live with her at Monavoe. Many were the jokes and comments made upon
this act of hers; a few people of what had now become her own standing
in the neighbourhood offered her sage pieces of advice; some of her
former cronies laughed and inquired if she were going to set up a home
for incurables, as what between ould Judy that had no sense to speak
of, an' Pat Clancy with ne'er a sound limb in his body, and his wife,
God help her! hardly able to crawl with rheumatics, she would have her
hands full up there. Roseen thanked her advisers kindly and laughed
with the jokers, and went her own way.
One fine morning, her smart outside car drove up to the hospitable
cabin which had sheltered the Clancys, and Pat and his wife were with
some difficulty hoisted on to it. Some twenty or thirty neighbours
kindly escorted them, "to hould them on for fear they might fall, the
craturs!" With a deal of shouting and huzzahing, the little procession
halted at length at Monavoe, where Roseen's health was drunk in due
form, and then Mike's, and then Pat's, and then Mrs. Clancy's, and
then Roseen's again; and at last the escort went reluctantly
homewards, and Roseen conveyed her charges to the apartment she
destined for them. It was a comfortable room on the ground floor,
larger than the whole of the Clancys' former dwelling, which,
nevertheless, it resembled oddly in many particulars. For, lo and
behold! there in the corner stood their own venerable four-poster, and
drawn up by the hearth was Pat's particular elbow-chair; all their
possessions were there in fact, Roseen having carefully collected them
previous to installing their owners--not even the little creepy-stool
Pat Clancy, who had maintained a certain dignified reserve all day,
not quite liking the notion of being regarded as Roseen's pensioner,
and not being certain whether this new move did not involve a
sacrifice of independence, was now fairly overcome. "God bless you, me
child!" he said brokenly, "ye were always the good little girl,
Roseen. Herself and me will be quite at home here."
"Ah then, musha, look at me pot," cried Mrs. Clancy, who had been
troubled by no scruples and whose tongue had been wagging freely
during the course of their transit to Monavoe. "Look at me own
_i_-dentical pot that has biled for me ever since we got married! I
declare I could very near kiss it! I could never fancy any stir-about
the same as what come out o' that pot! And there's the dresser an' all
me cups and saucers widout so much as a crack on them. Well now, who'd
ever fancy anybody that thoughtful? Sure we'll be in clover here--if
only we had poor Mike out o' gaol!"
"He'll be out soon, never fear," cried Roseen. "We'll get a grand
clever lawyer from Dublin to come an' spake for him, see if we don't.
But rest yourself now, Mr. Clancy, ye'll be tired afther the drive.
Maybe Mrs. Clancy would like to wet a grain o' tay for ye. Ye'll find
plenty there, ma'am, in the little caddy, an' I'll send up Judy with a
bit o' griddle cake."
"God bless ye, alanna!" said Mrs. Clancy, with shining eyes; "I'll set
on me own little kettle this minute; it's a grand little wan to bile
in a hurry, an' I'll make himself a cup of tay in no time."
Roseen withdrew with a bright nod, her innate delicacy prompting her
to leave the couple to themselves for a time. Mrs. Clancy's own
particular little rusty kettle was soon singing merrily on the hob,
and Judy presently appeared with the griddle cake and a roll of butter
of Roseen's own making.
"She's afther fetchin' it herself from the dairy," she remarked. "It's
herself has the grand hand for butter, God bless her!"
"Ahmin!" said Pat emphatically, "she's the grand little girl
altogether, there's not her aiquals in Ireland."
"Aye, indeed," chimed in his wife, "an' lookit how humble she is--no
more stuck up now nor she was when she was a little slip of a colleen,
leppin' about on the Rock, beyant."
"An' she has the fine fortun', mind ye," said Judy proudly, "the
Masther left her a power o' money--'deed an' he did, a power o'
"Bedad, he must have left her a good bit," agreed Pat meditatively,
"and she desarves it all. 'Pon me word, I wisht Mike had left that
ould rick alone. Sure, it's her that's the loser now. It's into her
pocket all that fine money 'ud be comin'."
"Musha," exclaimed "Herself," "I declare I am sick an' tired hearing
ye goin' on that way, an' me tellin' ye twenty times a day that it is
the last thing poor Mike 'ud do. He would never dhrame o' such a
thing, him that wouldn't hurt a fly. Many a time I seen him drivin'
home the sheep, an' he'd have his heart scalded wid them runnin' this
way an' that, an' he'd niver offer to rise a stick to them, or so much
as to peg a stone at them."
"Ah, ha! then, maybe he didn't!" cried Pat triumphantly; "I know me
own son as well as ye do, ma'am, an' he has a fine sperrit of his own
as quiet as he is. There now! Who done it if he didn't? Tell me that
if ye plase."
"Sure them hayricks often and often goes on fire of themselves,"
retorted Mrs. Clancy, flushed and tearful; "ye know that as well as
me, Pat. Weren't they at the loss of a lovely stack down there at
McEvoy's, four year ago? No, it was five, I believe--look at that
Pat laughed derisively. "'Pon me word, Mary, you have no more sense
nor herself there," nodding towards Judy. "Sure, McEvoy's rick took
fire because they were afther stackin' it, an' it wet. Whoever heard
of a three-year-old rick takin' fire of itself, an' every bit of it as
dry as a bone?"
"Troth it was," put in Judy, "powerful dry, ma'am. Sure, when a little
spark got on it out o' me pipe it burnt up the same as if it was
As she spoke she drew her stool up to the table; she was unusually
loquacious and sensible that day. The potations in which she, in
common with the other members of Roseen's establishment at Monavoe,
had indulged having apparently at once loosened her tongue and
brightened her wits.
Pat's face suddenly changed; his eyes flashed, and his voice shook
when next he spoke, though he endeavoured to assume a casual air.
"An' was it smokin' alongside o' the rick you were, Judy? When was
"Sure, it was the very night I lost me pipe," replied Judy. "Roseen
bid me go out an' watch for Mike an' tell him the Masther had her
locked in an' she couldn't get out to spake to him."
The Clancys looked at each other; the old man making an imperative
sign to his wife to keep silent.
"That was the very night the rick was burnt down," he observed; "ye
didn't see any one go near it, did ye?"
"Aye, indeed, it was the very night," agreed Judy; "I lost me lovely
pipe that night too," she added plaintively.
"Did ye, now?" said Pat, adding in a menacing aside to his wife:
"Woman, I'll be the death of ye if ye say a word now! Lave her to me.
Well, Judy, it was a poor case your losin' your pipe that way. I
wonder what become of it at all? Ye didn't see any one comin', did ye,
who would be apt to pick it up? Give the woman some tay, Mary, can't
ye see she's dhry?"
Mrs. Clancy poured out the tea with a shaking hand, and Judy, spilling
some into her saucer, proceeded to blow it vigorously, her hosts with
difficulty restraining their impatience the while.
"Beautiful tay, ma'am!" she remarked, after gulping down the first
instalment. "Elegant tay now, isn't it? Herself never gives less nor
two an' thruppence a pound for it."
"Doesn't she now," cried Pat; "well, an' ye never seen anybody goin'
near that rick?"
"Ne'er a wan at all," replied Judy, collecting herself.
"Ye didn't see Mike then?"
"Well, I'll tell ye. I was sittin' wid me back to the rick waitin' for
him, an' he didn't come, an' I fell asleep, an' when I woke up I
couldn't for the life of me find me bit of a pipe, not a sign of it
was in it at all." Here Judy began to weep. "Me heart's broke ever
since! I just laid it out o' me hand for a minute, and ne'er a bit o'
me could find it since--and--Och! och! Mr. Clancy, ow--wh! Murdher!
What are ye doing at all?" For old Pat had struggled from his chair,
and hobbling across to where Judy sat, had seized her by the shoulder,
the grip of his one sound hand being as the grip of a vice.
"Woman!" he cried, "it's you that's afther bein' the ruination of me
boy! It's you that set fire to the rick wid that ould mischeevious
pipe o' yours! An' there, ye let him be sent to gaol an' the whole of
us be disgraced for what you are afther doin'. 'Pon me word, I could
throttle ye this minute."
Mrs. Clancy ran screaming out of the room, bursting in upon Roseen
with the announcement in the same breath that "Himself would be the
death of ould Judy before he was done wid her," and that "poor Mike
must be fetched out o' gaol widout the loss of a minute."
Roseen, rushing to the scene of action, found indeed a prodigious
uproar going on. Old Pat, who until then had been thoroughly convinced
that his son had accomplished the destruction of Peter Rorke's
hayrick, could not now restrain his indignation on learning that he
had been wrongfully accused; and in the intervals of proclaiming at
the top of his voice more energetically than even "Herself" in the
past that "anybody wid a grain o' sense 'ud know poor Mike 'ud be the
last one in the world to go disgracing himself that way," was shaking
Judy backwards and forwards till, as she subsequently declared, she
nearly lost her life.
"'Pon me word," he cried, when with some difficulty and a certain
amount of physical force he had been separated from his victim,
"that's the ould scut yez ought to be clappin' into gaol! Did anybody
ever hear the like? She must go smokin' her dirty ould pipe under the
loveliest rick in the country--sure, that rick is worth its weight in
gould these times--an' settin' it on fire an' bringin' ruination an'
destruction on her misthress as well as on me poor innocent boy! I
declare hangin' 'ud be too good for her!"
"Didn't I tell ye," cried Mrs. Clancy triumphantly, "that Mike never
went next or nigh that rick?"
"Of course ye did. Anybody 'ud know that. Bedad, Mike 'ud know better
nor do anythin' that senseless an' mischeevious. Sure, what good 'ud
it do anybody to go burnin' that beautiful hay? 'Pon me word, Roseen,
if I was you I'd walk that lady straight off to the magisthrate."
Judy, meanwhile, with shrill wails and much rocking backwards and
forwards, was incoherently declaring that she wouldn't sit there to be
murdhered, an' she didn't know why they was all shoutin' at her that
way, an' that--as the culmination of woe--she'd lost her lovely pipe.
After some time Roseen succeeded in calming the belligerents, and in
gathering the sense of their various statements.
Trembling with eagerness and excitement, she led Judy to the
stackyard, and there, after much coaxing and persuasion, induced her
to describe her position on the fateful night in question.
"I was sittin' here," announced Judy, pointing to a certain spot.
"You had your back to the rick then?" said Roseen, "ye can't see the
haggard gate at all from here. No wonder ye didn't see Mike."
"I was tired waitin' for him," said Judy. "I just put me pipe out o'
me hand," she added meditatively. "I was thinkin' of goin' to look for
him--and when I woke up it was black night an' I couldn't find--"
Suddenly she uttered a shrill scream, and darting forward, stooped
over one of the stone supports which had formerly upheld old Peter's
beloved rick, eagerly groping in a certain little fissure in the rough
stone, almost hidden beneath the horizontal slab which surmounted it.
"Sure, there it is!" she cried triumphantly, producing indeed the
grimy little object so dear to her heart. "I have it now! there's me
darlin' pipe! I was afther forgettin' I put it there; it was turned
upside down in the crack an' all me baccy's spilt on me!"
Roseen could at first scarcely believe her own eyes and ears; this
then was the solution of the mystery which had so long baffled them.
Poor old Judy, growing sleepy and tired after her long wait, had laid
her pipe on one side intending to rise and look for Mike, but,
overcome by drowsiness, she had slept instead, and on awaking had
forgotten the spot where she had stowed her treasure. The little pipe,
slipping downwards in the crack, had turned over, upsetting its
contents upon the loose hay beneath the rick, which being, as Judy had
related, dry as tinder, quickly caught fire from the smouldering
embers. A strong breeze had arisen that night, and the flame had
spread to the stack itself with the results which Roseen knew. The
pipe that had done all the damage, being snugly stowed away beneath
the overhanging slab of stone, had told no tales; but now its evidence
was conclusive, and while Judy rapturously embraced and mumbled over
it, Roseen fell upon her knees and thanked God.
It was on a bright October morning that Mike was released from prison,
but in spite of the joys of regained liberty and the warm
congratulations of his friends, the poor fellow looked downcast and
bewildered enough when he came forth into the sunshiny world. Roseen
had sent her car for him to the prison door, and Mike, releasing
himself at length from the handshakes of the friends who awaited him
outside, and being anxious to dispense with their escort, had induced
the driver, with a hasty whispered word or two, to whip up the
fast-trotting mare, which had thereupon started at a break-neck pace
down the street, soon leaving the astonished convoy far behind.
"Bedad, ye are in a terrible hurry altogether," remarked Jack McEvoy,
who happened to be driving. "I suppose ye are in a hurry to get to
Monavoe." He laughed and winked. "Begorrah, if the ould Masther could
lift his head out o' the grave, I wonder what he'd say at me goin' to
fetch a husband for his granddaughter out o' Mount Kennedy gaol?"
Mike flushed to the roots of his hair and turned his back more
completely on his opposite neighbour.
"Sure, ye needn't think shame o' that," went on Jack, quick to
perceive that the joke was not appreciated. "If ye burnt the rick
itself, there's nobody hereabouts but 'ud say ye done right. But your
father's breaking his heart now bekase the loss o' the rick 'ull be
out o' your own pocket."
"What call has he to say any such thing at all?" said Mike, glancing
"Och, bedad, doesn't every one know the way it is between the two of
yez? Sure, there never was a fellow in such luck as yourself, Mike
Clancy! Ye'll be the richest man between this and County Cork, an' let
alone the fortun', ye'll be havin' the greatest jewel of a wife. 'Pon
me word, if ye was to see the Misthress now of a Sunday!"
"Who's that?" said Mike absently.
"The Misthress--Miss Rorke!"
"Oh, aye, of course, Miss Rorke is the Misthress now," mused Mike to
"Well, if ye was to see her in her black silky dress an' the beautiful
feathers in her hat, an' her gould watch and chain an' all--'pon me
word, ye'd think it was the Queen."
Clancy did not answer, and McEvoy, more and more anxious to retrieve
his former error, waxed eloquent on the subject of Roseen, her beauty,
her wealth, and the bounties she lavished all round her.
"Look at the way she whipped off your father and mother there," he
remarked at last, "and the comfort she keeps them in! I b'lieve the
improvement in them since they went up above there is somethin'"--Jack
paused for an adjective and finally selected "outrageous." "Tay, they
do be tellin' me, at two and thruppence a pound no less, an' mate
wanst and twice in the day, an' a sup o' punch at night the way
they'd sleep sound! Sure, it's somethin' altogether"--again a
Jack actually leaned across the well of the car to peer into Mike's
face, but alas! the more choice and picturesque was his language, the
deeper seemed to be the gloom of Michael Clancy. At last, when within
a few yards of Donoughmor, Mike abruptly requested to be set down
there, and after thanking the man in somewhat tremulous tones, walked
away rapidly in the direction of his former home.
"Sure, what's the good of your going there?" shouted McEvoy, "the roof
is off of it yet, an' not a soul about. Come on home wid ye, can't
"No, thank ye," said Mike, without turning his head. The car drove on,
and soon Mike stood within his dismantled home. There had been some
delay in procuring wood for the new rafters and the poor roofless,
smoked-begrimed walls looked very forlorn. Mike glanced round him and
groaned aloud; he could have wept, so great was the turmoil in his
heart and in his mind. Everything was changed, it seemed to him;
everything was gone. Could this poor little place ever be home again?
How silent it was now that the old father was not cracking his jokes
in the corner! How empty now that the mother's spare form was absent!
They were safe and sound at Monavoe, he knew, "well looked after," as
the driver had told him, by "Miss Rorke" herself, but for the time
being it almost seemed to him as though they were dead. As for Roseen,
she was Miss Rorke now, the Mistress, the owner of Monavoe--_his_
Roseen was gone too!
His heart was still sore at the recollection of his bitter
disappointment on the fateful evening when the rick was burnt. She had
not come to meet him on that night of all nights in the year! He knew,
through Jack McEvoy, that she had promised her grandfather never to
speak to him again. She had broken faith with him. All through these
weary weeks in prison, the anguish of this thought had deadened all
his other sufferings and anxieties, but in any case, how could he ever
expect her, amid her new grandeurs, to think of him as she used to do?
She had the best heart in the world, he knew that, and wouldn't ask to
do anything that was not kind; she'd try to make up as well as she
could for the "differ of things" by doing all in her power for his
father and mother and by befriending him. It had been mainly through
her exertions that he had been released, and she had sent her own car
to meet him--oh, to be sure she had done that! But as to consenting to
be his sweetheart again, sure, goodness knew, Michael could never
"Afther me bein' in prison an' all!" he said to himself mournfully. "I
had a right to be givin' up thinkin' of her altogether."
He left the cabin presently and climbed the hill, entering the ruins
and seating himself on the great stone slab on one side of the
banqueting-hall. By-and-by, he would have to go to Monavoe to see his
parents, but he would wait for a little while first; he shrank from
the meeting with Roseen. He intended to convey to her straightway his
sense of the distance between them, and his determination to take no
advantage of their former intimacy; but it was hard, and Mike, crushed
and shaken by the trouble and anxiety of mind which he had recently
undergone, suffering in every fibre from an unaccountable sense of
desolation, felt that his heart failed him.
But all at once a light foot sounded on the stone steps behind him,
and Roseen came quickly forward to the rocky recess. Her face was
pale, and there were tears in her eyes; her attire, by no means so
magnificent as that which Michael had depicted to himself, was
somewhat disordered; she had not even taken the trouble to assume a
hat, and her curly hair was blown about her brow, so that she looked
very like the little Roseen of old.
"Michael Clancy," she cried, "what did I do to ye that ye wouldn't
come to see me?"
Mike rallied all his self-possession.
"Ye never done anything that was not kind, Miss Rorke," he said,
standing up and removing his hat, "and I am truly grateful."
Roseen's face quivered. "Why are ye talkin' to me that way, Mike? I'm
no more Miss Rorke to you now nor I have ever been. Sure, ye are not
angry," she added piteously, "at me not goin' to meet ye on the car? I
was afeard that every wan would be talkin' an' tormentin' us."
"Indeed, it wouldn't have become you at all," responded Mike, still
standing, hat in hand, and speaking with a kind of aggressive
humility, "and it 'ud be far from me to be expectin' such a thing."
Roseen knit her brows and tapped her foot impatiently, the angry tears
now standing on her cheeks.
"What is it ye are driving at at all?" she cried; "I can't for the
life of me make out what it is ye be up to. It 'ud have become me well
enough to go meet ye, if it wasn't for the way people 'ud be goin'
"Indeed, of coorse, ye'll have to be mindin' yourself," agreed Mike,
with cold politeness. "People's always ready enough to be gossipin'
and gabbin' about any young lady."
"Young lady, fiddlesticks!" cried Roseen. "If ye go on that way I'll
take ye by the two shoulders an' shake ye--it's all I can do now to
keep me hands off o' ye! What in the name of goodness would ye be at?
I'm not a young lady no more nor ye are, I am just Roseen, the same as
ever I was. It's you that's turned nasty and contrairy."
"Not at all!" replied Mike, still frostily. "I'm only wishful to let
ye understand that I know me place, miss, an' would never think of
Roseen suddenly collapsed on the stone slab and began to sob, making a
good deal of noise over it and drying her eyes with the corner of her
skirt, not being at that moment equipped with an apron.
"Ye're a nasty, bitther, disagree'ble ould fellow," she remarked
inarticulately, "an' I hate ye."
Mike had turned his back to her the better to intrench himself in his
fortress of reserve, but now he could not help stealing a glance at
her from over his shoulder. There sat Roseen, still vigorously
sobbing, her feet dangling downward as she sat on her high perch, her
shoulders heaving, her ruffled brown head drooping, the tears forcing
their way through fingers that were just as sunburnt as of old. Many a
time had Mike seen her give way to paroxysms of childish woe, and
comforted her with loving words and no less loving kisses. The
recollection flashed across him now, and he immediately looked away
again, stiffening himself more than ever.
"I thought the day 'ud never come," lamented Roseen, "when ye would be
back wid me. I never closed an eye last night countin' the time an' me
heart leppin' that much for joy, that the bed shook undher me--an'
this is the way ye go trate me when ye do come home!"
Mike turned round quickly. "Ah, Roseen, can't ye whisht?" he cried;
"sure it's twice as bad for me as for you. Sure, asthore,"--he
couldn't for the life of him prevent that little word from slipping
in--"it's only thrying to do me duty I am; it 'ud never do at all for
you an' me to be goin' on the same as we used to do, and I wouldn't
like yourself nor any wan to be thinkin' I'd be forgettin' the differ
there is between the two of us now."
Roseen looked up, her blue eyes still drowned in tears, but just the
suspicion of a smile beginning to creep about her mouth.
"Troth!" she said with a toss of her head, "the on'y differ there is
in it is that I am the same as ever I was, an' you have turned crabby
"'Deed then, I'm not," rejoined Mike, adding hotly, "I'd have ye
remember, Roseen, it's you that changed first. Why didn't ye come to
me that evenin' at the haggard gate the way you always did? And me in
throuble wi' all an' breaking me heart for a word from ye!"
The dignified hero was gone for the nonce, and look and tone were
those of a youthful and offended lover. Roseen immediately fired up
"God give me patience!" she cried, "I never come acrass such a
contrairy boy in me life! Didn't I nearly lep out o' the windy to come
to ye? Sure, me grandfather had me locked in!"
"Oh that, indeed!" said Mike, his face brightening for a moment, but
immediately clouding over again, "but a man told me that same night,
that he h'ard ye sayin' ye'd never spake to me agin nor so much as
look at me."
"He tould you a lie then," said Roseen with flashing eyes; "I never
said that--oh, aye, to be sure, I believe I did though, but ye have no
call to be castin' that up at me, Mike; if I did itself, I done it for
love of you. Now! When me grandfather tould me he was goin' to put
your father and mother out on the road I begged and prayed an' done
everythin' I could to persuade him to give up the notion, an' at last
says I, 'Well, grandfather,' says I, 'I'll promise never to speak to
Mike agin,' says I,' nor so much as look at him,' says I, 'if ye'll
only let them stop in it.' Sure, whoever it was went carryin' stories
to ye must have been hard set to find somethin' to say if they brought
up that, an' you had no call to be listenin' to them. I'd soon stop
the mouth of any wan that went about makin' out tales about you."
Never had she looked more bewitching than in her anger; her great blue
eyes, open to their fullest extent, were flashing with scorn and wrath
though the big tears still hung on their long lashes. The little
curled upper lip showed glistening white teeth, the colour came and
went in the pretty dimpled cheeks--cheeks that looked so soft and
inviting. Mike bit his lips and thrust his hands in the depths of his
ragged pockets, clenching them in the effort to preserve his
self-control. He could not help a flash of joy lighting up his face
for a moment, but he turned away to hide it. Wasn't she the jewel of
the world altogether, an' how could he ever have been such a gomeril
as to doubt her? But all the same he must mind himself. It was not for
the likes of him to be thinking of her that way. Sure, what matter if
she had been his sweetheart twenty times over in days gone by--she
could never be his sweetheart now. Stiffening himself therefore and
again resuming his lofty tone, he proceeded: "Indeed I am truly
grateful to you, Miss Rorke, for all your goodness an' all ye done for
me father and mother. Jack McEvoy's afther tellin' me that they are in
the height o' comfort. Indeed I'd never have thought of lookin' for
them there at all; I never have expected you to be puttin' yourself
about that way for them."
"An' why wouldn't they be with me?" cried Roseen quickly. "Isn't it
the right place for them to be? They had a right to be stoppin' there
altogether, on'y that they are that fond of their own little place I
don't think they 'ud ever contint themselves."
Mike suddenly sat down on the slab, but at a very discreet distance
from Roseen. He cleared his throat and looked towards her, but seemed
to find a difficulty in speaking. Roseen began to swing one of the
little pendant feet and looked away into the blue distance.
"Sure," she resumed in an indifferent tone, after a moment's pause,
"when their own house is not ready for them, the best place for them
to be in is their son's."
The colour rushed over Mike's cheek and brow; his heart began to beat
violently, and his limbs to tremble. There was a long silence, broken
only by the old familiar song of the lark sounding jubilantly from
above their heads; the rustling of the tall fawn-coloured grasses that
grew among the stones, and the distant faint lowing of cattle.
The outline of Roseen's pretty face and head stood out cameo-like
against the background of sunlit stone; Mike's gaze fastened itself
there and could not detach itself. There was a long pause, then with a
great effort he forced himself to speak.
"Roseen, darlint, there's not a ha'porth of good the two of us goin'
on this a-way; we may as well talk out plain. Ye're the best-natured
an' kindest-hearted little girl in the wide world, God bless ye!--"
Roseen drooped her head a little demurely, the colour mantling in her
face now, and dimples coming and going about her mouth.
"But," resumed the young man, steadying his voice, "I wouldn't take
advantage of ye, alanna, an' let ye do what ye'd be apt to be sorry
for afther a while. It wouldn't do at all for ye to be takin' up wid
the likes o' me now. Sure ye'd be the laughingstock of the place, if
ye went an' got married to a poor fellow like meself that hasn't a rag
to his back nor a penny in his pocket, an' just stepped out o' prison
more by token--sure, that alone 'ud make a deal o' differ!"
"Aye, indeed," interrupted Roseen, throwing up her head, "it 'ud make
that much differ, Mike, that if a girl was fond of a boy before, she'd
be apt to be ten times fonder after. Now lookit here, Mike Clancy, I
have had enough of this--'pon me word, isn't it too bad for a poor
girl to have to go beggin' an' prayin' a fellow this way! Ye ought to
be ashamed of yourself! Saints presarve us, this is the third time I
am afther axing ye! I declare I'm out o' patience wid ye altogether.
Sure, didn't we have each other bespoke ever since we could say a word
at all, an' what matter in the name of goodness, if ye haven't a penny
in your pocket? Haven't I plenty for the two of us? And sure, good
gracious, if me poor grandfather, God rest him! put ye in gaol for
what ye never done, isn't it me that ought to be ashamed an' not
yourself? There now, I'll never say another word to ye, good or bad,
if ye don't make up your mind at wanst an' lave off talkin' that
Apparently Mike did make up his mind, for he left his particular
corner of the stone bench and came close to Roseen, his face aglow
with happiness and his arms outstretched. And there they sat and
talked among the ruins till the birds flew twittering to roost and the
golden light faded from the hill-top: yet, as hand in hand they came
down the path and wandered homewards through the dewy grass, it seemed
to them that they still were walking in a glorified world.