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Three Plays by Padraic Colum

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THREE PLAYS

THE FIDDLER'S HOUSE
THE LAND
THOMAS MUSKERRY

BY
PADRAIC COLUM

BOSTON
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY

1916

TO MY FRIEND
THOMAS HUGHES KELLY
THESE THREE IRISH PLAYS

_AUTHOR'S NOTE_

I have been asked to say something about the intentions and ideas
that underlie the three short plays in this volume.

These plays were conceived in the early days of the Irish National
Theatre. I had been one of the group that formed the National
Theatre Society and I wrote plays for players who were my colleagues
and my instructors; I wrote them for a small, barely-furnished stage
in a small theatre; I wrote them, too, for an audience that was
tremendously interested in every expression of national character.
"The Land" was written to celebrate the redemption of the soil of
Ireland--an event made possible by the Land Act of 1903. This event,
as it represented the passing of Irish acres from an alien
landlordism, was considered to be of national importance. "The Land"
also dealt with a movement that ran counter to the rooting of the
Celtic people in the soil--emigration--the emigration to America of
the young and the fit. In "The Land" I tried to show that it was not
altogether an economic necessity that was driving young men and
women out of the Irish rural districts; the lack of life and the
lack of freedom there had much to do with emigration.

"The Land" touched upon a typical conflict, the conflict between the
individual and that which, in Ireland, has much authority, the
family group. This particular conflict was shown again in "The
Fiddler's House." where the life, not of the actual peasants, but of
rural people with artistic and aristocratic traditions, was shown.

I tried to show the same conflict working out more tragically in the
play of middle-class life, "Thomas Muskerry." Here I went above the
peasant and the wandering artist and came to the official. I had
intended to make plays about the merchant, the landowner, the
political and the intellectual leader and so write a chapter in an
Irish Human Comedy. But while I was thinking of the play that is
third in this volume my connection with the National Theatre Society
was broken off. "Thomas Muskerry" was produced in the Abbey Theatre
after I had ceased to be a member of the group that had founded it.

PADRAIC COLUM
NEW YORK
_August, 1916_

_CONTENTS_

AUTHOR'S NOTE
THE FIDDLER'S HOUSE
THE LAND: AN AGRARIAN COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
THOMAS MUSKERRY

_THE FIDDLER'S HOUSE_

_CHARACTERS_

CONN HOURICAN, a Fiddler.
MAIRE (Mary) [1] HOURICAN, his daughter.
ANNE HOURICAN, a younger daughter.
BRIAN MACCONNELL, a younger farmer.
JAMES MOYNIHAN, a farmer's son.

The action passes in the Houricans' house in the Irish Midlands.

[Footnote 1: The name is pronounced as if written "Maurya."]

ACT I

SCENE: _The interior of a farmer's cottage; the kitchen. The
entrance is at the back right. To the left is the fire-place, an
open hearth, with a fire of peat. There is a room door to the right,
a pace below the entrance; and another room door below the fire-place.
Between the room door and the entrance there is a row of wooden pegs,
on which men's coats hang. Below this door is a dresser containing
pretty delpht. There is a small window at back, a settle bed folded
into a high bench; a small mirror hangs right of the window. A
backed chair and some stools are about the hearth. A table to the
right with cloth and tea things on it. The cottage looks pretty and
comfortable. It is towards the close of an Autumn day_.

_James Moynihan has finished tea; Anne Hourican is at the back,
seated on the settle knitting, and watching James. James Moynihan is
about twenty-eight. He has a good forehead, but his face is
indeterminate. He has been working in the fields, and is dressed in
trousers, shirt, and heavy boots. Anne Hourican is a pretty,
dark-haired girl of about nineteen_.

_James Moynihan rises_.

ANNE
And so you can't stay any longer, James?

JAMES
_(with a certain solemnity)_ No, Anne. I told my father I'd be
back while there was light, and I'm going back. _(He goes to the rack,
takes his coat, and puts it on him)_ Come over to our house to-night,
Anne. I'll be watching the girls coming in, and thinking on yourself;
there's none of them your match for grace and favour. My father
wanted me to see a girl in Arvach. She has three hundred pounds,
besides what the priest, her uncle, will leave her. "Father," says I,
"listen to me now. Haven't I always worked for you like a steady,
useful boy?" "You have," says he. "Did I ever ask you for anything
unreasonable?" says I. "No," says he. "Well then," says I, "don't
ask me to do unreasonable things. I'm fond of Anne Hourican, and not
another girl will I marry. What's money, after all?" says I,
"there's gold on the whin-bushes if you only knew it." And he had to
leave it at that.

ANNE
You always bring people around.

JAMES
The quiet, reasonable way is the way that people like.

ANNE
Still, with all, I'm shy of going into your house.

JAMES
Don't doubt but there'll be a welcome before you; come round
with Maire.

_Anne rises, and comes to him. She has graceful, bird-like movements._

ANNE
_(putting her hands on James' shoulders)_ Maybe we won't have a
chance of seeing each other after all.

_James Moynihan kisses her reverently_

JAMES
Sit down now, Anne, because there's something I want to show
you. Do you ever see "The Shamrock"?

ANNE
Very seldom.

_James and Anne go to the settle; they sit down_.

JAMES
There be good pieces in it sometimes. There's a poem of mine
in it this week.

ANNE
Of yours, James? Printed, do you mean?

JAMES
Ay, printed. _(He takes a paper out of his pocket, and opens it)_
It's a poem to yourself, though your name doesn't come into it.
_(Gives paper)_ Let no one see it, Anne, at least not for the present.
And now, good-bye.

_Goes to the door. Anne continues reading the verse eagerly. At the
door James turns and recites_:--

When lights are failing, and skies are paling,
And leaves are sailing a-down the air,
O, it's then that love lifts my heart above
My roving thoughts and my petty care;
And though the gloom be like the tomb,
Where there's no room for my love and me,
O, still I'll find you, and still I'll bind you,
My wild sweet rose of Aughnalee!

That's the first stanza. Good-bye.

_James goes out. Anne continues reading, then she leaves the paper
down with a sigh_.

ANNE
O, it's lovely! _(She takes the paper up again, rises and goes
to the door. She remains looking out. Some one speaks to her)_ No,
Brian, Maire's not back yet. Ay, I'll engage she'll give you a call
when she does come back. _(Anne turns back. She opens drawer in the
dresser and puts paper in. She begins to clear table, putting the
delpht back on dresser. To herself, anxiously)_ I hope Maire won't
forget to call at the mill. _(Room door right opens, and Conn
Hourican comes down. Conn Hourican is a man of about fifty, with
clear-cut, powerful features, his face is clean-shaven, his
expression vehement. His dress is old-fashioned. He wears
knee-breeches, a frieze coat rather long, a linen shirt with a
little linen collar and a black string for bow. He carries a slick
and moves about restlessly)_

ANNE
Had Maire any talk of going to the mill, father?

CONN
I heard nothing of it.

ANNE
I hope she'll mind of it. We must get the meal there, and not
be going to the shop so often.

CONN
I suppose we must.

_He moves about restlessly_.

ANNE
And I was just thinking that one of us ought to go to Arvach on
Tuesday, and get the things there.

CONN
The mean, odious creatures!

_Anne is startled. She turns from dresser_.

ANNE
What are you thinking of, father?

CONN
That den of robbers. Well, well, I'm finished with them now;
but I'm a proud man, and a passionate man, and I'll be even with
them yet.

ANNE
There's no comfort in going into rough places.

CONN
You know nothing at all about it. Were the men in yet?

ANNE
James Moynihan was here, because he had to go away early; but
Brian MacConnell is outside still. Father, you were home late two
nights this week.

CONN
And is a man to have no life to himself? But sure you know
nothing at all about it. I'm going out now to give Brian MacConnell
a hand.

ANNE
It's hardly worth while going out now.

CONN
There's still light enough to do a bit of mowing, and you ought
to know that it isn't right to neglect the boy that's come to do a
day's work with you. _(Going to the door)_ Many's the day I put in
with the scythe in Ireland, and in England too; I did more than
stroll with the fiddle, and I saw more places than where fiddling
brought me. _(Brian MacConnell comes to the door)_ I was just going
out to you, Brian. I was telling the girl here that it's not right
to neglect the boy that's giving you a day's work out of his own
goodness.

BRIAN
I'm only coming in for a light.

CONN
As you're here now, rest yourself.

_Brian MacConnell comes in, and goes over to the hearth. He is dark
and good-looking, and has something reckless in his look. He wears
corduroy trousers, and a shirt loose at the neck. Anne comes to Brian.
Conn stands at entrance, his back turned_.

BRIAN
_(lighting his pipe with a coal)_ When do you expect Maire back?

ANNE
She'll be here soon. Shell give you a call if you're outside,

BRIAN
How is it you couldn't keep James Moynihan?

ANNE
It's because you didn't say the good word for me, I must think.
Be sure you praise me the next time you're working together.

BRIAN
Will you do as much for me?

ANNE
Indeed, I will, Brian. Myself and another are making a devotion
to Saint Anthony.

BRIAN
And what would that be for?

ANNE
That the Saint might send us good comrades.

BRIAN
I thought it was Saint Joseph did that for the girls.

ANNE
Sure we couldn't be asking the like from him. We couldn't talk
to Saint Joseph that way. We want a nice young saint to be looking at.

_Conn turns from the door_.

CONN
_(bitterly)_ It'll be a poor season, Brian MacConnell.

BRIAN
The season's not so bad, after all.

CONN
God help them that are depending on the land and the weather
for the bit they put into their heads. It's no wonder that the
people here are the sort they are, harassed, anxious people.

ANNE
The people here mind their own business, and they're a friendly
people besides.

CONN
People that would leave the best fiddler at the fair to go and
look at a bullock.

ANNE
_(to Brian)_ He's not satisfied to have this shelter, Brian.

CONN
_(to Brian)_ I'm saying, Brian, that her mother had this shelter,
and she left it to go the roads with myself.

ANNE
That God may rest my mother. It's a pity she never lived to
come back to the place. But we ought to be praising grandmother
night and day, for leaving this place to Maire.

CONN
Your grandmother did that as she did everything else.

ANNE
_(to Brian)_ Now, Brian, what would you do with a man that
would say the like?

_Anne goes outside._

CONN
_(to Brian)_ It's small blame to the girl here for thinking
something of the place; but I saw the time, Brian MacConnell, when I
could make more playing at one fair than working a whole season in
this bit of a place.

BRIAN
Girls like the shelter, Conn.

CONN
Ay, but the road for the fiddler. I'm five years settled here,
and I come to be as well known as the begging ass, and there is as
much thought about me. Fiddling, let me tell you, isn't like a boy's
whistling. It can't be kept up on nothing.

BRIAN
I understand that, Conn.

CONN
I'm getting that I can't stand the talk you hear in houses,
wars and Parliaments, and the devil knows what _ramais_.

BRIAN
There's still a welcome for the man of art, somewhere.

CONN
That somewhere's getting further and further away, Brian.

BRIAN
You were not in the town last night?

CONN
I was not, Brian. God help me, I spent the night my lone.

BRIAN
There's Sligomen in the town.

CONN
Is there, now? It would be like our times to play for them.
_(Anne comes in with some peat)_ Anne, would you bring me down my
spectacles? They're in the room, daughter. _(Anne goes to room. Conn
turns to Brian eagerly) I_ suppose the Sligomen will be in Flynn's.

BRIAN
They were there last night.

CONN
Listen, Brian, I've a reason for not going to Flynn's. Would
you believe it, Brian, Flynn spoke to me about the few shillings I
owe him?

BRIAN
That was shabby of him. He got a lot out of you in the way of
playing.

CONN
It's just like them. Besides, Maire keeps us tight enough, and
I often have to take treats from the men. They're drovers and
rambling labourers and the like, though, as you say, they've the
song and music, and the proper talk. Listen, Brian, could you leave
a few shillings on the dresser for me?

BRIAN
To be sure I will, Conn.

_Brian goes to the dresser, and puts money on a shelf_.

CONN
_(with dignity)_ Thank you, Brian. There's few I'd let put me
under a compliment; but I take it from you. Maire, as I said, is a
careful girl, but some of us must have our freedom. Besides, Brian,
the bird that sings lone sings slow. The man of art must have his
listeners. _(Conn takes the money off dresser)_ Anne, daughter,
what's keeping you there? Sure the spectacles were in my pocket the
whole time, child. _(Anne comes dawn)_ When I spoke against the
people about here, I was leaving you out of it, Brian.

BRIAN
I'm fond of tune, though it wasn't here I got fond of it.

_Brian goes to the door_.

ANNE
_(going to Brian)_ You won't be rambling again, Brian?

BRIAN
I'm settled here, Anne; I made it up with my brothers.

ANNE
They used to say that a MacConnell quarrel was a lasting quarrel.

BRIAN
Maybe we're working the bad blood out of us.

ANNE
Don't be staying out long, Brian.

BRIAN
Till Maire gives me the call.

_Brian MacConnell goes out_.

ANNE
We oughtn't to take another clay from Brian MacConnell. There's
only the patch at the back to be mown, and you could do that yourself.

CONN
You can depend on me for the mowing. I'm going up now, to go
over an oul' tune I have.

ANNE
James Moynihan would come over and stack for us.

CONN
James Moynihan is a decent boy, too.

ANNE
You won't be going out to-night, father?

CONN
Now, how's a man to know what he'll be doing?

ANNE
It leaves me very anxious.

CONN
I'll give you this advice, and it's proper advice to give to a
girl thinking of marrying. Never ask of your menkind where they're
going.

ANNE
The like of that brings bad luck on a house.

CONN
You have too much dead knowledge, and the shut fist never
caught a bird.

ANNE
I only wish you were settled down.

CONN
Sure I am settled down.

ANNE
I can't speak to you, after all.

CONN
You're a good girl, Anne, and he'll be lucky that gets you. And
don't be grieving that you're not bringing James Moynihan a fortune.
You're bringing him the decency of birth and rearing. You're like the
lone pigeon I often think--the pet that doesn't fly, and keeps near
the house.

ANNE
That's the way you always treat me, and I never can talk to you.

CONN
_(at window)_ Hush now, here's the other, your sister Maire.
She's like the wild pigeon of the woods. _(Maire Hourican comes in)_
We were discoursing on affairs, Maire. We won't be bringing Brian
MacConnell here tomorrow; there's only the bit at the back to be mown,
and I'll do that myself.

_Conn Hourican goes into the room right; soon after the fiddle is
heard. Anne goes to the settle, and takes up her knitting. Maire
takes her shawl off, and hangs it on the rack. Maire Hourican is
over twenty. She is tall, and has easy, graceful movements; her
features are fine and clear-cut; the nose is rather blunted, the
mouth firm. Her gaze is direct and clear. She has heavy auburn hair,
loose now, and falling. Maire comes down to the table, opens basket,
and takes some flowers from top. She turns to dresser and arranges
some of the flowers in a jar_.

MAIRE
We'd have no right to take another day from Brian. And when
there's no one here to-morrow, you and me could draw some of the turf.

ANNE
Your hair is loose, Maire.

_Maire goes to the mirror and fixes her hair_.

MAIRE
The wind blew it about me, and then I let it down. I came home
by the long way, just to feel young again with my hair about me.

ANNE
And did you meet any one?

MAIRE
Indeed I did. I met James Moynihan.

ANNE
James had to go early. They're building at his place.

MAIRE
Indeed they ought to let James build a house for himself. ANNE
Some day they will, Maire.

MAIRE But
we must not let some day be a far day.

ANNE
_(hesitatingly)_ I think I'll show you something.

MAIRE What is it, daughter?

_Anne rises and goes to the dresser. She opens drawer. Maire
watches her_.

MAIRE
_(waiting)_ I made a good girl out of you, anyway.

ANNE
You wouldn't let me use stroller words when we were on the road.
Do you mind of that?

MAIRE
I kept you to the mannerly ways. I have that to my credit.

ANNE
_(showing Maire the verses)_ Read that, Maire. It was James
that made it.

MAIRE
It's a song, I declare.

ANNE
No, Maire, it's a poem.

MAIRE
A poem? O, that's grand!

_She begins to read it eagerly_.

ANNE
And, Maire--

MAIRE
Well?

ANNE
James says it's about me.

MAIRE
About you? O, I wish some one would put me into a song, or into a poem;
I suppose a poem would be best. You might ask James. No, I'll coax him
myself. Ah, no I won't, Anne.

ANNE
You may keep it for a while, but don't let any one know.

MAIRE
He must be very fond of you, and I thinking him so quiet.

ANNE
_(happy)_ He has grand thoughts about me.

MAIRE
Well, you'll be seeing him to-night.

ANNE
I don't know that I'll go out to-night.

MAIRE
Sure Grace Moynihan asked us to go over.

ANNE
I'm shy of going into James'.

MAIRE
Anne, you're the only one of us that has any manners. Maybe
you're right not to go.

ANNE
I'll stay in to-night.

MAIRE
Then Brian and myself will go to Moynihan's.

ANNE
You'd get an indulgence, Maire, if you missed a dance.

MAIRE
Would it be so hard to get an indulgence? _(She takes flowers
from dresser and puts them in window)_ The house looks nice this
evening. We'll keep Brian here for a while, and then we'll go to
Moynihan's.

ANNE
Father will be going out to-night.

MAIRE
_(turning suddenly from window)_ Will he?

ANNE
He will. I think I ought to stay in. Maire, father was in only
a while before you the night before last and another night.

MAIRE
O, and I thinking things were going so well with us. He's
drinking again.

ANNE
He's going to Flynn's again.

MAIRE
Disgracing us again.

ANNE
I'll stay in to-night.

MAIRE
I'm tired of this.

ANNE
Don't say it that way, Maire.

MAIRE
What will people say of us two now?

ANNE
I'll talk to him to-night.

MAIRE
No, you're going out--you're going to Moynihan's--you're going
to see your sweetheart.

ANNE
I think you're becoming a stranger to us, Maire.

MAIRE
You're going to Moynihan's to-night, and I'm going, too. But I'm going
to settle this first. Once and for all I'm going to settle this.

_The fiddle has ceased. As Maire goes towards the room, Conn
Hourican comes down, the fiddle in his hand_.

CONN
Were you listening to the tune I was playing? Ah, that was a
real oul tune, if there was anyone that knew it. Maire, my jewel,
were you listening?

MAIRE
I heard you.

CONN
It was a real oul' tune, and while I was playing it a great
scheme came into my head. Now, listen to me, Maire; and you listen,
too, Anne. Both of you would like to see your father having what's
his due after all, honour and respect.

MAIRE
Both of us would like to see our father earn the same.

CONN
I could earn the same, ay, and gold and silver cups besides, if
I had the mind to earn them.

_He puts fiddle on table and prepares to speak impressively_.

CONN
Let ye listen to me now; I've a scheme to put before ye. When I
was going over the oul tune, I remembered that I'd heard of a Feis
[2] that's coming on soon, the Feis of Ardagh. I'm thinking of going
there. There will be great prizes for some one; I don't doubt but
I'd do at Ardagh better than I did at the Feis of Granard, where
people as high as bishops were proud and glad to know Conn Hourican
the Fiddler.

[Footnote 2: Feis, pronounced Fesh, a musical or literary gathering,
with competitions.]

ANNE
Father, you've a place to mind.

CONN
I'm tired of that kind of talk; sure I'm always thinking of the
place. Maire hasn't little notions. What do you say to it, Maire, my
girl?

MAIRE
What do I say? I say you're not a rambler now, though indeed
you behave like one.

CONN
You have something against me, Maire.

MAIRE
I have.

CONN
What has she against me, Anne?

MAIRE
All the promises you broke.

CONN
You were listening to what the town is saying.

MAIRE
What does the town know? Does it know that you stripped us of
stock and crop the year after we came here? Does it know that Anne
and myself, two girls of the roads, had to struggle ever since to
keep a shelter?

CONN
_(bitterly)_ It knows that. It couldn't help but know it, maybe.
But does it know all the promises you made and broke?

CONN
_(angrily)_ Hush now; I'll hear no more. I went my own way
always, and I'll go my own way always.

_He goes to the entrance, and remains with his back turned. Maire
goes to Anne_.

MAIRE
_(raising her voice)_ Ay, he'll go his own way always. What
was the good of working and saving here?

ANNE
Be quiet with him.

MAIRE
He'll go his own way always, and it's foolish of us to be
fretting for him night and day.

_Maire sits on stool and puts her hands across her face_.

CONN
_(turning his head)_ Fretting for me. It was too easy that I
reared you.

ANNE
God help Maire! She kept the house together at the worst, and
she is always fretting for us.

CONN
I'm oul' enough to mind myself. Let her remember that.

ANNE
It's you that ought to remember that.

CONN
_(going to Maire)_ Did I ever give the harsh word to you, child?

_No answer_.

CONN
There, there; I never could see tears in a woman's eyes; there,
there, colleen. I'm an oul' man; I won't be a trouble to you long.

MAIRE
_(rising)_ Why need you play in Flynn's? You're as good as any
that goes there.

CONN
I know that. I'm disgusted with Flynn. May hell loosen his
knees for him! I'll go in and throw his money on the counter.

MAIRE
Some one else can do that. Promise me you won't go near the
place.

CONN
You'll have me promise. I promise.

MAIRE
Take this in your hand and promise. It's a medal that belonged
to mother.

_She takes a medal from her neck_

CONN
_(taking the medal)_ I'm disgusted with Flynn. I promise you,
Maire.

MAIRE
Now you've honour and respect.

CONN
And what about Ardagh, Maire?

MAIRE
Sure, you're not the rambling fiddler any more.

CONN
That would be the good rambling. I see the trees making shadows
across the roads.

MAIRE
We'll talk about it again.

ANNE
Brian MacConnell will be coming in now. CONN I'm going out to
Brian MacConnell.

_He goes to the door_.

ANNE
Tell Brian to come in now.

_Conn Hourican goes out. There is a pause. Maire hums a tune as she
goes to the mirror_.

MAIRE
Am I looking well to-day?

ANNE
_(rather distantly)_ You're looking your best, I think.
_(Seriously)_ Maire, I didn't like the way you talked to father.

MAIRE
_(petulantly)_ What have you against it?

ANNE
You're becoming a stranger to us, Maire.

MAIRE
_(as an apology)_ I'm out often, I know, but I think as much
as ever of the house, and about you and father. You know we couldn't
let him go to the Feis at Ardagh. We couldn't let him go off like a
rambling fiddler.

ANNE
We couldn't let him go off by himself.

MAIRE
You're going to Moynihan's.

ANNE
Maybe I'll go.

MAIRE
Anne, honey, do something for me.

ANNE
What will I do?

MAIRE
You'll meet father coming up with Brian, and take him away.

ANNE
And will you tell me everything to-night?

MAIRE
Who else would I talk to but yourself, Nancy? _(Anne goes out)_
I wish Anne hadn't spoken to me like that. I feel the like of that.
_(Desperately)_ Well, I'll pray for nothing now but to look my best.
_(She goes to the fire. Brian MacConnell comes in)_ You're welcome,
Brian.

BRIAN
We didn't finish to-day. I'll come in to-morrow and finish.

MAIRE
O no, Brian, we won't take another day from you.

BRIAN
Well, what's a day after all? Many's the day and night I put
in thinking on you.

MAIRE
But did you do what I asked you to do?

BRIAN
I did. I made it up with my brothers. It was never my way
before. What I wanted I took with the strong hand; or if I mightn't
put the strong hand on it, I left it alone.

MAIRE
_(eagerly)_ Tell me what your brother said to you.

BRIAN
When I came up to the door, Hugh came out to meet me.
"What destruction are you bringing me?" he said. "There's my hand,"
says I, "and I take your offer." MAIRE Ah, that's settled. You could
settle anything, Brian. _(She goes to the settle and sits down)_ I
wonder could you settle something for us?

BRIAN
What is it, Maire?

MAIRE
It's my father. He wants to be rambling again. He wants to be
going to some Feis.

BRIAN
Sure, let him go.

_He takes her hand_.

MAIRE
I couldn't, Brian. Couldn't you help us? Couldn't you keep
father's mind on the right things?

BRIAN
Sure, let the fiddler go on the roads.

MAIRE
You might stay here this evening with ourselves. Father would
be glad to talk with you.

BRIAN
_(putting his arm around her)_ But I want the two of us to be
seen in Moynihan's to-night.

MAIRE
_(resistance in her voice)_ Stay here with us, and let all
that go by.

BRIAN
Hugh will be there with that woman that brought him the big
fortune; and I want you to take the shine out of her.

MAIRE
_(rising)_ I was out often lately. You know that, Brian.

_She goes to chair at table, and sits away from him_.

BRIAN
_(rising and going to her)_ But this night above all you must
be with me.

MAIRE
_(turning to him impulsively)_ Stay here and I'll be as nice
to you as if we were in another house. _(He kisses her. She rises
and goes from him)_ If you knew me at all, Brian MacConnell, that's
not the way you'd treat me.

BRIAN
Are you not coming out with me?

MAIRE
You must leave me to myself now. _(Conn Hourican comes in)_ Is
Anne with you, father?

CONN
She's gathering posies or something like that. Brian, did you
hear about the Feis at Ardagh?

MAIRE
_(with vehemence)_ Oh, what's the good of talking about that?
You can't go.

CONN
Can't go, did you say, girl?

MAIRE
Oh, how could you go?

CONN
Is that the way? Well, God help us. Give me that fiddle till I
leave it up.

_He takes the fiddle off dresser, and turns to go_.

MAIRE
Father, let me be with you to-night; oh, I'm sorry if I vexed
you. _(No reply)_ Well, stay with Brian MacConnell; I'm going out to
Anne.

_Maire goes out. Brian goes to rack, and puts on his coat_.

BRIAN
Are you coming, Conn? I'm off.

CONN
Where to, man?

BRIAN
To Flynn's.

CONN
I can't be going, I'm sorry to say.

BRIAN
I'm going anyway. It's a great thing to be in the company of
men.

CONN
Ay, in troth. Women, Brian, leave the heart of one very lonesome.

BRIAN
_(masterfully)_ Why can't you come out? I thought you were
going to-night.

CONN
I can't, Brian, and that reminds me. Give these few shillings
to Flynn for me. I'll owe them to you still.

BRIAN
I'm not going to be bothered by the like. Why can't you come?

CONN
I promised Maire.

_Brian strides away. He turns, comes back deliberately, and sits on
table beside Conn_.

BRIAN
They'll be all looking out for you at Flynn's.

CONN
Well, the next time they see me they may respect me.

BRIAN
Some of the boys will take it very unkindly. CONN They're
decent enough fellows, some of them.

BRIAN
And above all nights they'll be watching out for you this night,
on account of the Sligomen.

CONN
They're decent enough fellows, as I said, and I'll be sorry to
disappoint them.

BRIAN
The Sligomen will have great stories about Shawn Heffernan.

CONN
Shawn Heffernan! Is that impostor still alive?

BRIAN
He is, and for fiddling these Sligomen think there's not the
like of him in the whole of Ireland.

CONN
God help them if that's all they know. We played against each
other at the Granard Feis. He got the prize, but everybody knew that
it was me played the best.

BRIAN
There's few of them alive now that mind of the Granard Feis.
He got the prize, and there's no talk of you at all.

CONN
No talk of me at all?

BRIAN
It's said that since you settled down you lost your art.

CONN
And what had the men at Flynn's to say about that? BRIAN They
bragged about you for a while, but the Sligomen put them down.

CONN
I wonder would we have time to go up, play a few tunes, and
come back, while Maire would be doing something? It would be a pity
not to give them fellows a lesson and close their ignorant mouths for
them. I wonder would we have time? _(Anne comes in with Maire)_ I
thought you went somewhere and left Brian and myself here.

ANNE
We're going somewhere and Brian might come with us.

MAIRE
Every one is going to Moynihan's.

CONN
It's a pleasant house, a pleasant house. Brian will make his
_ceilidh [3]_ with me. We might go over a few tunes.

ANNE
Let Brian come where there are girls that might miss him.

MAIRE
Anne, you're a great one for keeping up the story that girls
are always thinking about men.

ANNE
And so they are. Just as men are always thinking about girls.

MAIRE
You'd make a good ribbonman.[4] You'd put a face on anything
you said.

[Footnote 3: Celidh, pronounced cayley, a visit.]

[Footnote 4: A ribbonman--a member of a secret agrarian society.]

ANNE
Ribbonism and secret societies were denounced off the altar.

MAIRE
Goodness! The men will begin to think they've secrets worth
telling.

ANNE
Have you secrets worth telling, Brian?

MAIRE
I daresay he has. There are foolish women in the world.

ANNE
Are you coming to Moynihan's, Brian?

BRIAN
No. I'm going where there's men.

MAIRE
Come, Anne, till I deck you out. Come here, daughter, don't
wear flowers. I think they're unlucky. Here I am talking like this,
and I going to a dance. I suppose I'll dance with seven or eight and
forget what's on my mind.... Everyone is going to Moynihan's except
the men here. Are you going out, father?

CONN
I'm making a _ceilidh_ with Brian.

MAIRE
Well, God be with you both. Come on, Anne.

_Maire takes down her shawl, and puts it over her head. She stands
at the door, watching Anne, who goes to Brian._

ANNE
Brian, what have you against Moynihan's?

BRIAN
Nothing at all. I may go in. MAIRE Come on, Anne. God be with
you both.

_Maire and Anne go out. They are heard talking for a while. Conn
goes to the door_.

CONN
Maire and Anne are turning the bohereen. [5] Come on now.

_He takes his fiddle and begins to wrap it up eagerly_.

BRIAN
Ay, let's go.

CONN
_(at door)_ I never forget, I never forget. The Granard Feis is
as fresh in my mind as the day I played at it. Shawn Heffernan,
indeed! I never forget. I never forget.

_Conn Hourican and Brian MacConnell go out_.

[Footnote 5: Bohereen--the little path going from the cottage to
the main road.]

CURTAIN

ACT II

_The next day: The scene is as in previous Act. It is now in the
forenoon. Maire Hourican is seated at the fire in a listless attitude.
Anne is busy at the dresser. Maire rises_.

MAIRE
We shouldn't have stayed at Moynihan's so late.

ANNE
Indeed it would have been better to go home, but I was sure
that Brian MacConnell would come in.

MAIRE
Well, it was his own loss if he didn't come. Maybe there was
one there that I liked better.

ANNE
You couldn't have liked Connor Gilpatrick better than Brian
MacConnell.

MAIRE
Connor's the best-looking boy in the country. Was it noticed
that we were together often?

ANNE
_(significantly)_ Peggy Carroll noticed it.

MAIRE
Well, the boy was glad to talk to me. Connor's a good dancer,
and he has fine talk besides. If Brian MacConnell had come to the
door, I wouldn't have turned my head towards him.

ANNE
Sure, you wouldn't compare a young boy like Connor Gilpatrick
with Brian MacConnell?

MAIRE
I wouldn't have turned my head towards Brian. O! never expect kindness
from men. Why did you let me stay on? I'm afraid to look at myself
in the glass to-day. _(She goes over to the mirror)_ You were
hard on me, Anne, yesterday.

ANNE
I didn't like the way you talked to father.

MAIRE
I think I'm getting different to what I used to be. Well, I've
reason to be sorry for what I did yesterday. _(She is at window)_
Was Peggy Carroll vexed at the way I went on?

ANNE
She never took her eyes off the pair of you. You know she's
very fond of Connor.

MAIRE
Anne, never remind me of my foolishness, I'm heartsick of
myself to-day.

ANNE
I'll comb out your hair for you, and you'll look well enough.

MAIRE
Then you're expecting Brian MacConnell?

ANNE
It's likely he'll come in to see if there's anything to be done.

MAIRE
I suppose he'll come in. Gracious, how did father get out?
He's coming up the path.

ANNE
_(coming to Maire)_ Father's not up, surely? Maire, be easy
with Brian MacConnell when he comes in.

MAIRE
Father's coming up the path. Anne!

ANNE
What is it, Maire?

MAIRE
Father wasn't in at all, last night.

ANNE
Then he went to Flynn's, after all.

MAIRE
Ay, he went to Flynn's.

_She goes to Anne_.

ANNE
O Maire, what will become of us all?

MAIRE
I don't know.

_Maire goes to the settle, and sits down_.

ANNE
What will we do with him at all?

_Conn Hourican comes in_.

CONN
God save you! _(He looks around)_ Well, I came back to ye.

ANNE
You did, God help us! And we depending on you. It's the bad way
you always treated us.

CONN
Did you hear what happened to me, before you attack me?

ANNE
What happened to you? What always happens to you?

CONN
I wonder that a man comes in at all! The complaints against him
are like the Queen's Speech, prepared beforehand.

ANNE
Ever since I can remember, you treated us like that. Bringing
us into drinking-places and we little. It's well we got to know
anything, or got into the way of being mannerly at all.

CONN
You know too much. I always said that. Is James Moynihan coming
here to-day?

ANNE
No, he isn't coming here to-day.

CONN
Well, we can do without him. There's something to be done to-day.
I said I'd do the bit of mowing, and I was thinking of that all along.
_(He looks at Maire)_ Did you hear what happened to me, Maire?

MAIRE
It's no matter at all.

CONN
I went over to Flynn's, I may tell you.

ANNE
In troth we might have known that.

CONN
But did you hear what happened to me?

ANNE
How could we hear? It was Maire went to the door, and there you
were coming up the path; and we thinking you were in bed, resting
yourself.

CONN
I went over to Flynn's, but I had good reason for going there.
_(He puts the fiddle down on the table)_ Didn't you hear there were
Sligomen in the town, Maire? Well, one of them was in the way of
rewarding the prizes. I told you about the Feis; well, it's no
matter now, I'll say no more about that. At all events the man I
mentioned wanted to know what music was in the country, so he sent a
message to myself.

ANNE
_(as satirical as she can be)_ That was kind of him.

CONN
It was. I could do no less than go. I'll rest myself now, and
then get ready for the mowing. _(He goes to the room door; he turns
again and watches Maire)_ Maire, I'm sorry you weren't on the spot.
You might have advised me. I couldn't think of where you went or I'd
have followed you. I had to make haste.

MAIRE
It's no matter at all now.

CONN
I'll stretch myself on the bed before I begin work. Anne, did
you say you were leaving something in the room for me?

ANNE
I suppose I'll have to leave the tea in the room for you.

_She gets the tea ready. Maire remains motionless_.

CONN
Well, I have the pattern of daughters, anyway. I wouldn't give
this house for the praise of Ireland, no, not if they carried me on
their backs. _(Anne takes the tea up to the room)_ It's a pity you
weren't there, Maire, though of course I wouldn't bring you into
such a place. But they were decent fellows, decent, warm-hearted
fellows. If you were to see their faces when I played _An Chaitin
Donn_. I'll warrant they'll be whistling it, though they never heard
the tune before. And the manners they have! I offered the fiddle to
one of them. "No," says he, "not a string will I touch while the
master of us is here." That's something like the spirit. _(Maire has
turned to him and is attentive)_ But there, I won't fill myself up
with false music telling you about it all.

_He turns to the room_.

MAIRE
Bring up your fiddle.

CONN
_(taking fiddle and going towards room again)_ It will be as
good as sound sleeping for me. I'll never forget it. Flynn will
never forget it. It will be the making of Flynn.

_Maire rises_.

MAIRE
You've only your fiddle; we shouldn't forget that.

_Conn goes up to the room. Maire turns to the fire. Anne comes down_.

ANNE
O Maire, what will become of us at all?

MAIRE
He is very pleased with himself. He has only his fiddle, we
shouldn't forget that.

ANNE
It will be a long time till he does the like again.

MAIRE
It will be a long time, I suppose. Both of us might be in a
different house and have different cares.

ANNE
That would be terrible. I'll never leave him, Maire. MAIRE You
can't say the like now.

ANNE
Why?

MAIRE
How could you take such things upon you and life stretching
out before you? You're not young enough, Anne. Besides, it's not
what we say; it's what we feel. No, it's not what we feel either;
it's what grows up in us.

ANNE
He might never do the like again.

MAIRE
Many's the time mother said that, and she and me lying together.

ANNE
Will we ever get out of it, Maire?

_James enters_.

MAIRE
You have only a while to stay with us.

ANNE
O James, what will your father say if he hears of you giving us
another day?

JAMES
My father took a stick in his hand this morning, and went off
with himself.

MAIRE
You're welcome, James. It was a pleasant time we had in your
house last evening.

JAMES
I hope you liked the company, Maire. I'm afraid there was very
little to be called refined or scholarly, and the conversation at
times was homely enough. But we did our best, and we were proud to
see you.

MAIRE
Sit down, James.

_James sits on chair, near table. Maire is seated at fire, left of
James. Anne leans against table, right of him_.

JAMES
Your father is outside, maybe?

MAIRE
No. He's above in the room.

JAMES
Yes. Practising, I suppose. Them that have the gift have to
mind the gift. In this country there isn't much thought for poetry,
or music, or scholarship. Still, a few of us know that a while must
be spared from the world if we are to lay up riches in the mind.

ANNE
I hope there's nothing wrong at home?

JAMES
_(turning to Anne)_ To tell you the truth, Anne, and to keep
nothing back, there is.

MAIRE
And what is it, James?

JAMES
_(turning to Maire)_ Anne was talking to my father last night.

ANNE
Indeed I was, and I thought him very friendly to me.

JAMES
Ay, he liked you well enough, I can tell you that, Anne. This
morning when he took a stick in his hand, I knew he was making ready
for a journey, for the horse is laid up. "Walk down a bit with me,"
said he, "and we'll go over a few things that are in my mind." Well,
I walked down with him, and indeed we had a serious conversation.

ANNE
Well?

JAMES
"Anne Hourican is too young," said my father; "she's a nice
girl, and a good girl, but she's too young."

MAIRE
Sure in a while Anne will be twenty.

JAMES
_(turning to Maire)_ Ten years from this father would still
think Anne too young. And late marriages, as everybody knows, is the
real weakness of the country.

ANNE
I thought your father liked me.

JAMES
He likes you well enough, but, as he says, "what would she be
doing here and your sisters years older than herself?" There's truth
in that, mind you. I always give in to the truth.

MAIRE
James?

JAMES
_(turning to Maire)_ Well, Maire?

MAIRE
Is Anne a girl to be waiting twenty years for a man, like
Sally Cassidy?

JAMES
God forbid, Maire Hourican, that I'd ask your sister to wait
that length. MAIRE She hasn't got a fortune. We were brought up
different to farmers, and maybe we never gave thought to the like.

JAMES
She has what's better than a fortune.

MAIRE
Why aren't your sisters married off?

JAMES
Big fortunes are expected with them.

MAIRE
And they look to your wife to bring a big fortune into the
house?

JAMES
Ay, they do that.

MAIRE
You, James, ought to have some control in the house. You're
the only son. Your father is well off. Get him to fortune off your
sisters, and then bring Anne to the house.

JAMES
But how could I get father to fortune off the girls?

MAIRE
How? By wakening up. You have the right. When we have the right,
we ought to be able to do anything we like with the people around us.

JAMES
I give in to the truth of that, Maire.

MAIRE
What will come of you giving in to the truth of it? But sure
you ought to remember, Anne.

ANNE
_(taking James's hand)_ James has the good way with people.

MAIRE
Well, I suppose it will come out right for you in the end. You
are both very deserving. _(She rises)_ But some time or another we
have to take things into our own hands.

JAMES
Indeed that's true, Maire.

_Maire goes to back_.

ANNE
_(holding James's hand)_ Did you make any more songs, James?

JAMES
I have a song in my head since last night.

ANNE
The one in the paper is lovely. I know it by heart.

JAMES
The next I make will be ten times better.

_Conn Hourican comes down_.

CONN
I heard your voice, James, and I thought I'd come down. It's
very good of you to come here again. I'll be out with you to-day.

JAMES
It'll be a good day from this on. Were you practising above,
Mister Hourican?

CONN
Well, no, James, I wasn't practising. I was at a big gathering
last night, and my hands are unstrung like. We'll talk for a while,
and then I'll go out with you.

ANNE
_(taking James's arm)_ Come out with me for a minute, James.

JAMES
_(going off)_ I'll see you again, Mister Hourican.

_James and Anne go out_,

CONN
Well, God help us. _(He turns to go back to the room. Maire
comes down from back)_ Are you going out, Maire?

MAIRE
No, I'm staying here.

CONN
_(aggrieved)_ Do you mind them two, how they went out together.
I think I'll go out and see what's to be done about the place.

_Conn goes towards the entrance. Maire goes towards the fire_.

CONN
_(pausing at door)_ I broke my word to you, Maire.

MAIRE
I don't know what to say to you now.

CONN
It was the music and the strange faces that drew me.

MAIRE
I know that now.

CONN
It will be a long time till I break my word to you again.

MAIRE
I'll never ask for your word again.

CONN
_(warmly)_ I can tell you this, Maire. There's many's the place
in Ireland where Conn Hourican's word would be respected.

MAIRE
I'll never ask for your word again. You have only your fiddle,
and you must go among people that will praise you. When I heard you
talking of your listeners, I knew that. I was frightened before that.
When I saw you coming, I went and sat there, and I thought the walls
of the house were crowding in on me.

CONN
You were partly to blame, Maire. You left me there very lonesome.

MAIRE
I was to blame, I suppose. I should have treated you differently.
Well, I know you better now. Let you sit down and we'll talk together.
_(Conn sits on chair to right of table)_ What's to become of myself
I don't know. Anne and James Moynihan will marry, I hope. Neither of
us have fortunes, and for that reason our house should be well
spoken of.

CONN
Sure I know that. I wouldn't bring the shadow of a disgrace
near ye.

MAIRE
If the father isn't well spoken of, how could the house be
well spoken of? They're big drinkers that go to Flynn's, and it's
easy for the fiddler to get into the way of drinking.

CONN
I won't go to Flynn's when you put it that way.

MAIRE
I'll ask for no word. I'll let you know the real way of the
house, and then trust you.

CONN
You're a good girl, Maire. I should have been said by you.

MAIRE
From this out there will be dances at the schoolhouse and the
like of that. You could be playing at them. CONN None of the oul'
people go to the like, and the young don't understand me nor my ways.
God knows will I ever play again. That thought is often with me of
late, and it makes me very lonesome.

MAIRE
That's foolishness.

CONN
I was very lonesome when you left me. You don't know how I was
tempted, Maire. There was Brian MacConnell putting on his coat to go
to Flynn's, and talking of the Sligomen.

MAIRE
_(startled)_ And was it to Flynn's that Brian MacConnell went?

CONN
It was Brian that brought me to Flynn's.

MAIRE
Was it Brian MacConnell that brought you to Flynn's?

CONN
It was.

MAIRE
_(passionately)_ You must never go to Flynn's.

CONN
I'm ashamed of myself. Didn't I say that, Maire?

MAIRE
_(with hardness)_ You must never go again.

CONN
And is a man to have no life to himself?

MAIRE
That's talk just. It's time you thought of your own place and
your own children. It's time you gave up caring for the praise of
foolish people,

CONN
Foolish people, did you say?

MAIRE
Ay, foolish people. You had all your life to yourself, and you
went here and there, straying from place to place, and caring only
for the praise of foolish people.

CONN
God help you, if that's your way of thinking! Sure the world
knows that a man is born with the gift, and isn't the gift then the
sign of the grace of God? Foolish people, indeed! Them that know the
gift have some of the grace of God, no matter how poor they may be.

MAIRE
You're always thinking of them. You never think of your own.
Many's the time your own cried tears over your playing.

CONN
_(passionately, starting up)_ I'll go out of the house.

MAIRE
Let you stay here.

CONN
_(going towards entrance)_ I'll go out of the house, I tell you.

MAIRE
No.

_Conn goes over to the fire._

CONN
God help me that ever came into this country at all. _(He sits
down on the armchair, his hands resting on his stick)_ I had friends
once, and was well thought of; I can tell you that, my daughter.
MAIRE I know that. CONN Well, you can have your own way with me now.

MAIRE
Why can't you stay here? There's lots to be done here. Our
fields are a laughing-stock to the neighbours, they're that poor and
wasted. Let us put all our minds into working, and have a good place
of our own.

CONN
Ay, and the grabbers and informers of this place would think
well of you then.

MAIRE
Who do you call grabbers and informers?

CONN
The people of this place. The people _you_ want to shine before.

MAIRE
I don't want to shine before the people.

CONN
I'm not saying against you, Maire.

MAIRE
You're wrong in thinking I want to shine at all.

CONN
Sure you go to every dance and ceilidh; and to every house
where you can show off your face, and dancing, and conversation.

MAIRE
Do I? Maybe I do. Every girl does the like.

CONN
I'm not saying against it.

_Pause._

MAIRE
You think I'm like yourself, wanting the praise of the people.

CONN
And what's the harm if you do?

MAIRE
No harm at all. But I don't go to houses to show myself off.

CONN
Troth and you do, Maire.

_He rises and goes towards the entrance, and remains looking out_.

MAIRE
I won't believe it.

_She goes to the settle. Anne comes in. Anne goes to the glass to
fix her hair_.

CONN
Had you a good night at Moynihan's, Anne?

ANNE
A sort of a good night.

CONN
I was going to tell you about a man I met last night. He had a
song about your grandmother.

ANNE
Was grandmother a great beauty, father?

CONN
Honor Gilroy had good looks, and indeed she made the most of
them.

MAIRE
It's likely there was some to tell her that she was showing off.

CONN
No one was to her liking unless they praised her.

ANNE
Ah well, a fiddler ought to forgive that to a woman. MAIRE
Fiddlers and women are all alike, but don't say that to him.

_Anne goes to Maire and sits beside her_.

CONN
_(speaking to both)_ Well, Honor Gilroy wasn't the worst, maybe.

MAIRE
And fiddlers and women oughtn't be hard on each other.

CONN
Do you say that, Maire?

MAIRE
_(rising and going to him)_ I say it, father.

CONN
God forgive me if I vexed you, Maire.

ANNE
It's clearing up now, father, and you ought to go out to James.
_(Conn turns to the door. He remains in the doorway. Anne rises and
goes to Maire)_ What did you say to him?

MAIRE
_(looking at Conn)_ He doesn't feel it at all. Father will
always be the fiddler, no matter what we say.

ANNE
Maire. Come and talk to me. _(They sit at fire)_ I was talking
to James. He'll never be happy until we're under the one roof.

_Maire clasps Anne's hands passionately_.

MAIRE
_(with cry)_ Anne, daughter, I'll be very lonesome for you.

ANNE
But sure I won't be far off, Maire.

MAIRE
Ay, but it's terrible to face things alone.

_James has come to the door. Conn and James have been talking. They
turn in_.

CONN
But I'll be glad enough to have the scythe in my hands after it
all, James.

JAMES
Anne was telling me how you took the victory from Connaught.

CONN
Still I'm sorry for him! That poor Heffernan! He'll never hold
up his head again.

JAMES
Sure I'd have it in a ballad that would be sung in his own town.
It would be well worth putting into a ballad.

CONN
Well indeed, it would make a right good ballad, James.

JAMES
I'd like to make a ballad about it, that would be sung all
over Connaught.

CONN
And why wouldn't you do it, James Moynihan? Sure it would be
the making of you. It would be sung all over Ireland, and your name
to it. Do you hear that, Maire? Do you hear that, Anne?

JAMES
I'm saying that I'd like to do a ballad about your father's
victory.

CONN
Maybe you could have it this night week, James? ANNE Will it be
a poem or a ballad, James?

_Anne goes to him_.

CONN
If you had it this night week, we could bring the boys to the
place. What do you say to that, Maire? We'll bring the boys here
this night week to hear James Moynihan's ballad.

MAIRE
I was thinking of the Feis at Ardagh.

CONN
The Feis at Ardagh?

MAIRE
Maybe you'll be going to it this night week.

CONN

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