Duty, and other Irish Comedies by Seumas O’Brien

Produced by Michelle Croyle, Jerry Fairbanks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team DUTY AND OTHER IRISH COMEDIES DUTY AND OTHER IRISH COMEDIES BY SEUMAS O’BRIEN 1916 CONTENTS DUTY JURISPRUDENCE MAGNANIMITY MATCHMAKERS RETRIBUTION DUTY A COMEDY IN ONE ACT CHARACTERS HEAD CONSTABLE MULLIGAN _A Member of the Royal Irish Constabulary_ SERGEANT DOOLEY _A Member of the
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Produced by Michelle Croyle, Jerry Fairbanks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

DUTY AND OTHER IRISH COMEDIES

[Illustration: FROM THE DRY POINT STUDY BY P. GRASSBY]

DUTY AND OTHER IRISH COMEDIES

BY

SEUMAS O’BRIEN

1916

CONTENTS

DUTY
JURISPRUDENCE
MAGNANIMITY
MATCHMAKERS
RETRIBUTION

DUTY

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

CHARACTERS

HEAD CONSTABLE MULLIGAN _A Member of the Royal Irish Constabulary_ SERGEANT DOOLEY _A Member of the R.I.C._ CONSTABLE HUGGINS _A Member of the R.I.C._ MICUS GOGGIN
PADNA SWEENEY
MRS. ELLEN COTTER _A public-house keeper_

DUTY was produced for the first time at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, December 17, 1913, with the following cast:

Head Constable Mulligan, R.I.C. ARTHUR SINCLAIR Sergeant Dooley, R.I.C. FRED O’DONOVAN Constable Huggins, R.I.C. SYDNEY J. MORGAN Micus Goggin J.M. KERRIGAN
Padna Sweeney J.A. O’ROURKE Mrs. Ellen Cotter UNA O’CONNOR

DUTY

_Back kitchen of a country public house. Micus and Padna seated at a table drinking from pewter pints. Mrs. Cotter enters in response to a call_.

PADNA (_pointing to pint measures_)
Fill ’em again, ma’am, please.

MRS. COTTER (_taking pints, and wiping table_) Fill ’em again, is it? Indeed I won’t do any such thing.

MICUS
Indeed you will, Mrs. Cotter.

MRS. COTTER
Don’t you know that ’tis Sunday night, an’ that the police might call any minute?

MICUS (_disdainfully_)
The police!

PADNA
Bad luck to them!

MICUS Amen!

MRS. COTTER
This will be the last drink that any one will get in this house to-night.
[_Exit_.

MICUS
‘Tis a nice state of affairs to think that dacent men, after a hard week’s work, can’t have a drink in pace and quietness in the town they were born and reared in, without bein’ scared out o’ their senses by the police!

PADNA
‘Tis the hell of a thing, entirely! I don’t see what’s gained be closin’ the pubs at all, unless it be to give the police somethin’ to do.

MICUS
The overfed and undertaught bla’gards!

PADNA
As far as I can see, there’s as much drink sold as if the pubs were never closed.

MICUS
There is, an’ more; for if it wasn’t forbidden to drink porter, it might be thought as little about as water.

PADNA
I don’t believe that, Micus. Did you ever hear of a pint or even a gallon of water makin’ any one feel like Napoleon?

[_Mrs. Cotter enters and places drinks on table_.

PADNA (_handing money_)
There ye are, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER (_takes money_)
Hurry now like good boys, for forty shillin’s is a lot to pay for a pint o’ porter, an’ that’s what ’twill cost ye if the police comes in an’ finds ye here. An’ I’ll lose me license into the bargain.
[_Exit_.

MICUS
One would think be the way the police are talked about that they had charge of the whole Universe!

PADNA
An’ who else has charge of it but themselves an’ the magistrates, or justices o’ the pace, as they’re called?

MICUS
They’re worse than the police.

PADNA
They’re as bad anyway, an’ that’s bad enough.

MICUS (_scornfully_)
Justices o’ the pace!

PADNA
Micus!

MICUS
What?

PADNA (_thoughtfully_)
There’s no justice in the world.

MICUS
Damn the bit! Sure ’tisn’t porter we should be drinkin’ a cold night like this!

PADNA (_as he sips from pint_)
‘Tis well to have it these times.

MICUS
The world is goin’ to the dogs, I’m afraid.

PADNA
‘Tisn’t goin’ at all, but gone.

MICUS
An’ nobody seems to care.

PADNA
Some pretend they do, like the preachers, but they’re paid for it. I do be often wonderin’ after readin’ the newspapers if God has forgotten about the world altogether.

MICUS
I wouldn’t be surprised, for nothin’ seems to be right. There’s the police, for instance. They can do what they like, an’ we must do what we’re told, like childer.

PADNA
Isn’t the world a star, Micus?

MICUS (_with pint to his mouth_)
Of course it is.

PADNA
Then it must be the way that it got lost among all the other stars one sees on a frosty night.

MICUS
Are there min in the other stars too?

PADNA
So I believe.

MICUS
That’s queer.

PADNA
Sure, everythin’ is queer.

MICUS
If the min in the other stars are like the peelers, there won’t be much room in Hell after the good are taken to Heaven on the last day.

PADNA
The last day! I don’t like to think about the last day.

MICUS
Why so?

PADNA
Well, ’tis terrible to think that we might be taken to Heaven, (_pauses_) an’ our parents an’ childer might be sent (_points towards the floor_) with the Protestants.

MICUS
If the Protestants will be as well treated in the next world as they are in this, I wouldn’t mind goin’ with ’em meself.

PADNA
I wouldn’t like to be a Protestant after I’m dead, Micus.

MICUS (_knocks with his pint on the table and Mrs. Cotter enters; he points to pints_)
The same again, Mrs. Cotter.

MRS. COTTER
Indeed, ye won’t get another drop.

MICUS
This will be our last, ma’am. Don’t be hard on us. ‘Tis only a night of our lives, an’ we’ll be all dead one day.

MRS. COTTER (_as she leaves the room with measures in hand_)
Ye ought to be ashamed o’ yerselves to be seen in a public house a night like this.

MICUS
We’re ashamed o’ nothin,’ ma’am. We’re only ourselves an’ care for nobody.

MRS. COTTER (_turning round_)
Well, this is the very last drink ye’ll get then. [_Exit_.

PADNA
Women are all alike.

MICUS
They are, God forgive them.

PADNA
They must keep talkin’.

MICUS
An’ ’tis only a fool that ‘ud try to prevent ’em.

MRS. COTTER (_entering and placing measures on table_) Hurry up, now, an’ don’t have me at the next Petty Sessions.
[_Exit_.

MICUS (_after testing drink_)
Nothin’ like a good pint o’ “Dundon’s.”

PADNA
‘Tis great stuff.

MICUS
May the Lord spare them long, an’ they buildin’ houses for the poor an’ churches for God!

PADNA
An’ all out o’ the beer money?

MICUS
Of course. What else could ye make money at in a country like this?

PADNA
‘Tis a thirsty climate!

MICUS
If all those who made money built houses for the poor an’ gave employment, there ‘ud soon be no poor at all.

PADNA
You’re talkin’ what’s called socialism now, an’ that’s too delicate a plant, like Christianity, to thrive in a planet like this. So I heard one o’ them preacher chaps sayin’ the other evenin’.

MICUS
Well, be all accounts, we’re no better off than those who heard St. Peter himself preachin’. The poor still only get the promise of Heaven from the clergy.

PADNA
That’s all they’ll ever get.

MICUS
The world must surely be lost, Padna.

PADNA
Nothin’ surer!

MICUS
If God ever goes rummagin’ among the stars an’ finds it again, there’ll be bad work, I’m thinkin’.

PADNA
I wonder will it be a great fire or another flood?

MICUS
Tis hard to tell!

[_A loud knocking is heard at the door_.

MRS. COTTER (_from the shop_)
Who’s there?

VOICE
Police.

PADNA
May ye freeze there!

MICUS
Or trip over the threshold and break ye’r neck!

MRS. COTTER (_rushing into kitchen_)
Quick! quick! quick! (_Points to a door_) This way, boys!

[_Micus and Padna enter a small room off the kitchen. Mrs. Cotter locks the door and opens the street door for the policeman, the knocking getting louder meanwhile_.

MRS. COTTER
Wait a minit! Wait a minit! I’m comin’, I’m comin’.

[_Opens door. Enter Head Constable Mulligan, R.I.C._

HEAD
You took a long time to open the door, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
I know I did, but it wasn’t me fault, Head. I had the house locked up for the night, an’ couldn’t find where I left the kay.

HEAD
‘Tis all right, ma’am. I can lose things meself. (_Looks carefully around_) ‘Tis a lonesome thing to see the house so empty.

MRS. COTTER
‘Tis Sunday night, Head.

HEAD
Of course, of course! All the same I’d prefer to see it full–of bona-fide travellers, I mean.

MRS. COTTER
Thank ye, Head. How’s Mrs. Mulligan an’ the childer?

HEAD
Wisha, purty fair. How’s the world usin’ yourself?

MRS. COTTER
Only for the rheumatics I’d have no cause to grumble.

HEAD
‘Tis well to be alive at all these times. An’ Ballyferris isn’t the best place to keep any one alive in winter time.

MRS. COTTER
Or summer time ayther. Whin the weather is good trade is bad.

HEAD
That’s always the way in this world. We’re no sooner, out o’ one trouble before another commences. I always admire the way you bear your troubles, though, Mrs. Cotter.

MRS. COTTER
I does me best, Head.

HEAD
Just like meself! Just like meself! The Government makes laws an’ I must see that they’re not broken. (_Rubbing his hands together_) ‘Tis a cold night, an’ no doubt about it.

MRS. COTTER
Bad weather is due to us now.

HEAD
Everythin’ bad is due to some of us. Only for that shark of an Inspector ’tis little trouble I’d be givin’ a dacent woman like yourself a night like this.

MRS. COTTER
He’s very strict, I hear.

HEAD
He’s strict, disagreeable, a Protestant, a teetotaler, an’ a Cromwellian to boot!

MRS. COTTER
The Lord protect us! ‘Tis a wonder you’re alive at all!

HEAD
Wisha, I’m only half alive. The cold never agrees with me. (_Looking at fire_) That’s not a very dangerous fire, an’ I’m as cold as a snowball.

MRS. COTTER (_with her back to the door behind which Padna and Micus are hiding_) There’s a fine fire up-stairs in the sittin’-room.

HEAD (_draws a chair and sits down_)
Thank ye, ma’am, but ’tisn’t worth me while goin’ up-stairs. As I said before, I wouldn’t trouble you at all only for the Inspector, an’ like Nelson, he expects every one to do their duty.

MRS. COTTER
‘Tis a hard world.

HEAD
An’ a cold world too. I often feels cold on a summer day.

MRS. COTTER
That’s too bad! Is there no cure for it?

HEAD
They say there’s a cure for everything.

MRS. COTTER
I wonder if ye took a drop o’ “Wise’s” ten-year-old! It might help to warm ye, if ye sat be the fire up-stairs.

HEAD (_brightening up_)
Now, ‘pon me word, but that’s strange! I was just thinkin’ o’ the same thing meself. That’s what’s called telepattery or thought transference.

MRS. COTTER
Tella–what, Head?

HEAD (_with confidence_)
Telepattery, ma’am. ‘Tis like this: I might be in America–

MRS. COTTER
I wish you were–

HEAD (_with a look of surprise_)
What’s that, ma’am?

MRS. COTTER
I wish for your own sake that you were in a country where you would get better paid for your work.

HEAD (_satisfied_)
Thank ye, ma’am. I suppose min like meself must wait till we go to the other world to get our reward.

MRS. COTTER
Very likely!

HEAD
Well, as I was sayin’, I might be in America, or New York, Boston, Chicago, or any o’ thim foreign places, an’ you might be in this very house, or up in your sister’s house, or takin’ a walk down the town, an’ I’d think o’ some thought, an’ at that very second you’d think o’ the same thought, an’ nayther of us would know that we were both thinkin’ o’ the same thing. That’s tellepattery, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
‘Tis a surprisin’ thing, surely! Is it hot or cold you’ll have the whiskey, Head?

HEAD
Cold, if ye please.

[_Exit Mrs. Cotter. While she is away, he walks up and down whistling some popular air. Enter Mrs. Cotter._

MRS. COTTER
Will I bring it up-stairs for you?

HEAD
Indeed, I’m givin’ you too much trouble as it is. I’ll try an’ take it where I am. (_Takes glass and tastes_) That is good stuff.

MRS. COTTER
I’m glad you like it.

HEAD
Who wouldn’t like it?

MRS. COTTER
I don’t know the taste of it.

HEAD (_as he finishes contents of glass_) May ye be always so, though there’s nothin’ like it all the same. (_Handing coin_) I think I’ll have a little drop from meself this time.

MRS. COTTER (_as she takes the money_) Will I bring it up-stairs?

HEAD
Erra, don’t bother! I’m beginnin’ to feel meself again.

[_Fills his pipe until she returns_.

MRS. COTTER (_entering and handing drink_) Did you bring your overcoat with you, Head?

HEAD
Why so, ma’am?

MRS. COTTER
Because the cold o’ the rain is there. I wouldn’t make any delay but go home immediately. You might get a wettin’.

HEAD (_feeling his tunic_)
This wouldn’t leave in a drop o’ rain in a hundred years, ma’am.

[_Knock at door_.

MRS. COTTER
Who’s there?

VOICE
Police!

HEAD
Police, did I hear?

MRS. COTTER
‘Tis the Sergeant’s voice.

HEAD
Glory to be God! I’m ruined! If he finds the smell o’ whiskey from me, he’ll tell the Inspector, an’ then Head Constable Mulligan is no more!

MRS. COTTER
Is he as bad as that?

HEAD
He has no conscience at all. He’s a friend o’ the Inspector’s. (_Knocking continues at door_) Don’t open that door till I tell you–that’s if you don’t want to find a corpse on the floor.

MRS. COTTER
Sure, I must open the door.

HEAD
Time enough. He’s paid for waitin’. Have you such a thing as an onion in the house?

MRS. COTTER
I didn’t see an onion for the last three weeks.

HEAD (_scratching his head_)
What the blazes will I do? (_Looking towards coal hole_) Whist! I’m saved. I’ll go in here until he’s gone. (_Goes in and puts out his head_) You can open now, but get rid of him as soon as you can.

[_Exit Mrs. Cotter. Enter the Sergeant_.

SERGEANT
So you opened at last. Well, better late than never!

MRS. COTTER
I’m sorry for keepin’ you waitin’, Sergeant. I don’t open the door for any one on Sunday nights, an’ whin you said “Police,” I thought it was one o’ the boys tryin’ to desaive me.

SERGEANT
I see! I see! There’s a lot o’ desaitful people in the town, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
There are, Sergeant.

SERGEANT
There are indeed. (_Coughs_) I’m sick an’ tired o’ the place altogether.

MRS. COTTER
I thought it agreed with you. You’re lookin’ very well, anyway.

SERGEANT
I’m not feelin’ well at all thin. (_Coughs_) There’s nothin’ more deceptive than looks at times. (_Coughs_)

MRS. COTTER
True.

SERGEANT
‘Tis in me bed I should be instead of troublin’ dacent people like yourself a night like this. (_Coughs_) But duty is duty, an’ it must be done. If I didn’t do what I’m told, that bla’gard of a Head Constable would soon have another an’ maybe a worse man in my place.

MRS. COTTER
The Lord save us!

SERGEANT
But as herself says: There’s no use in the Government makin’ laws if the people don’t keep them.

MRS. COTTER
That’s so.

SERGEANT
Keepin’ the world in order is no aisy business, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
‘Tis a great responsibility.

SERGEANT (_drawing a chair to the fire and sitting down_) ‘Pon me word I’m tired an’ cold too.

MRS. COTTER
Wouldn’t ye go home and go to bed, Sergeant?

SERGEANT
If I went to bed at this hour, the Head would send a report to his chum the Inspector, statin’ that I was drunk. (_Coughs_)

MRS. COTTER
That’s a bad cough. How long is it troublin’ ye?

SERGEANT
Only since supper time. I was eatin’ a bit o’ cold meat, an’ a bone or somethin’ stuck there. (_Points at his throat_)

MRS. COTTER
An’ what did ye do for it?

SERGEANT
What could I do for it?

MRS. COTTER
Ye could take a drink o’ somethin’ an’ wash it down.

SERGEANT
I tried some cold tea. (_Coughs_)

MRS. COTTER
I wonder would a bottle of stout do any good.

SERGEANT
‘Twould be no harm to try.

MRS. COTTER
Will ye have a bottle?

SERGEANT
To tell ye the truth, I don’t like bein’ disobligin’, ma’am. (_Coughs_)

[_Exit Mrs. Cotter. While she is away, he walks up and down, whistling the while_.

MRS. COTTER (_at door_)
Ye might as well come up-stairs, Sergeant. There’s a fine fire in the sitting-room.

SERGEANT
I’m first rate where I am. Thank you all the same.

[_Takes stout and finishes it without withdrawing it from his mouth. Coughs_.

MRS. COTTER
How do you feel now?

SERGEANT (_wiping his mouth with a large old handkerchief_) ‘Tis gone! I mean the bone. I feel meself again.

MRS. COTTER
I’m glad of that. (_Looking at clock_) ‘Tis gone half-past ten, Sergeant.

SERGEANT
Plenty o’ time. We’ll be a long time dead, an’ happy I hope.

MRS. COTTER
Amen!

SERGEANT
‘Tis my belief that we should all try to do good while we’re alive.

MRS. COTTER
There’s a lot o’ good people in the world, Sergeant.

SERGEANT
There is, ma’am, but nearly every one o’ them thinks that they’re better than what they are. That’s what annoys me.

MRS. COTTER
Sure ’tis imagination that keeps the world movin’.

SERGEANT
Yes, an’ ambition. All the same, ’tis a good job that people can’t see themselves as they really are.

MRS. COTTER
They wouldn’t believe that they were themselves if they could.

SERGEANT
I suppose not.

MRS. COTTER
Won’t ye come up to the fire in the sittin’-room?

SERGEANT
Don’t be worryin’ about me. I’m all right. That was good stout.

MRS. COTTER
The best!

SERGEANT
‘Tis a cure for nearly everythin’. Only for takin’ a little now an’ again, I’d never be able to stand all the hardships o’ me profession.

MRS. COTTER
Hard work isn’t easy.

SERGEANT
True! But a good drop o’ stout, or better still “spirits” makes many things easy. ‘Tis the seed o’ pluck, so to speak. I’m feelin’ just a little queer about the nerves. I think I’ll have a drop o’ “Wise’s.”

[_Exit Mrs. Cotter. While she is away he fills his pipe_.

MRS. COTTER (_entering with drink_)
That’s like the noise of a row down the road.

SERGEANT
Erra, let ’em row away! The Head is prowlin’ about. Let him separate ’em. ‘Tis about time he did somethin’ for his livin’. ‘Tis a damn shame to have the poor rate payers supportin’ the likes of him.

MRS. COTTER
I wouldn’t be talkin’ like that, Sergeant.

SERGEANT
Why wouldn’t I talk? There’s as many Head Constables as clergy in the country, an’ only for the sergeants an’ an odd constable ’tis unknown what ‘ud happen!

MRS. COTTER
The Head is a dacent gentleman.

SERGEANT
You don’t know anythin’ about him. Grumblin’ about havin’ to shave himself he does be now, an’ only for havin’ a bald patch on one side of his face, he’d let his whiskers grow altogether.

[_The Head sneezes in the coal hole_.

SERGEANT
What noise is that?

MRS. COTTER (_startled_)
That’s only the cat in the coal hole.

SERGEANT (_leaving his chair and moves toward it_) He must be suffocatin’. I’ll open the door an’ let him out. Under the grate he should be a cold night like this. (_Opens the door and sees the Head_) Heavens be praised! ‘Tis the Head himself!

[_The Head comes out, arranges his cap, and is not aware that he has a black spot on his nose_.

HEAD
‘Tis the Head an’ every inch an’ ounce of him too that stands before ye.

SERGEANT
I thought ’twas y’er ghost I saw.

HEAD (_angrily_)
What the blazes would me ghost be doin’ in a coal hole?

SERGEANT
What I’d like to know is what y’erself have been doin’ there.

HEAD
That won’t take me long to tell. Waitin’ and watchin’ to catch the likes o’ you is what took me there.

SERGEANT
Now, Head, with all due respects, I’d try an’ tell the truth if I were you.

HEAD
Sergeant Dooley, sir, anythin’ you’ll say or be likely to say ‘ll be used in evidence against you.

SERGEANT
An’ anythin’ that you say or don’t say may be used in evidence against you.

HEAD (_enraged_)
Sergeant Dooley!

SERGEANT (_coolly_)
Yes, Head.

HEAD
Do you know that y’er addressin’ y’er superior officer?

SERGEANT
The less said about superiority the better.

HEAD
You can’t deny that I found you drinkin’ on these licensed premises while on duty.

SERGEANT
I might as well tell you candidly that you have no more chance o’ frightenin’ me or desaivin’ me than you have of catchin’ whales in Casey’s duck-pond.

HEAD (_passionately_)
I’ll–I’ll–I–

SERGEANT
You’ll have a drink from me, an’ we’ll say no more about the matter. I wouldn’t blame any man for takin’ a drop a cold night like this. I suppose ’twill be “Wise’s” the same as the last? That’s if me sense o’ smell isn’t out of order.

HEAD (_crestfallen, blows his breath on the palm of his hand and looks at the Sergeant_) Is it as bad as that?

SERGEANT
I smelt it the instant I came in, an’ wondered where ’twas comin’ from.

HEAD
I only took it to avoid catchin’ cold.

SERGEANT
Just like meself. We must avoid catchin’ cold at any cost. (_To Mrs. Cotter_) Two glasses o’ “Wise’s,” ma’am.”

[_Exit Mrs. Cotter_.

SERGEANT (_to Head_)
Wait, an’ I’ll wipe that black spot off ye’r nose.

[_He does so. Enter Mrs. Cotter_.

MRS. COTTER (_handing drinks_)
The fire up-stairs is blazing away, an’ there’s no one sittin’ by it.

HEAD
We’re all right. (_Holding glass_) Here’s long life to us!

SERGEANT
Health an’ prosperity!

HEAD (_after finishing drink_)
We must have another, for I’m not feelin’ too well, an’ ’tis better be on the safe side. ‘Twas through neglect that some o’ the best min died.

SERGEANT
We must not forget that!

HEAD (_to Mrs. Cotter_)
The same again, Mrs. Cotter.

[_Exit Mrs. Cotter with glasses_.

HEAD
I saw be the papers last night that the Royal Irish Constabulary are the finest in the world.

SERGEANT
Sure every one knows that!

HEAD
I wonder what kind are all the others?

SERGEANT
That’s what I’d like to know.

MRS. COTTER (_at door_)
Will I bring them up to the sittin’-room, gentlemen?

HEAD
We’re first class as we are, ma’am.

[_Mrs. Cotter hands the glasses and a loud knock is heard at the door_.

MRS. COTTER
Who’s there?

VOICE
Police!

HEAD
‘Tis the constable!

SERGEANT
The bla’gard surely!

HEAD
What’ll we do?

SERGEANT
Take the drinks first, an’ consider after.

[_They finish drinks and hand back the glasses to Mrs. Cotter_.

HEAD
I suppose we had better hide in the coal hole. He has a better nose than yourself, an’ one word from him to the Inspector would soon deprive us o’ both stripes an’ pensions.

SERGEANT
I suppose the coal hole is the best place, though it does offend me dignity to go there.

HEAD
Wisha, bad luck to you an’ ye’r dignity. Come on here!

[_The Head enters, and the Sergeant follows. Mrs. Cotter opens the street door and the Constable enters._

CONSTABLE (_sarcastically_)
Thanks very much for openin’ the door, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
I’m sorry for keepin’ you waitin’, Constable. I was sayin’ me prayers up-stairs before goin’ to bed.

CONSTABLE
If I had known that, I wouldn’t have disturbed you. I hope you said one for me.

MRS. COTTER
Of course I did. I always ses a prayer for the police.

CONSTABLE
An’ right too, ma’am, for ’tis little time we have for prayin’. There’s no rest for a man once he joins the Force. Whin y’re not kept busy thinkin’ o’ one thing, y’re kept busy thinkin’ o’ somethin’ else.

MRS. COTTER
Thinkin’ is worse than workin’.

CONSTABLE
A hundred times. (_Looking at his watch_) ‘Tis a long time since first Mass this mornin’. Saturday! Sunday! Monday! ‘Tis all the same whin y’re in the Force. On y’er feet all day, an’ kep’ awake be the childer all night. An’ whin pay day comes, all y’er hard earnin’s goes to keep the wolf from the door.

MRS. COTTER
God help us!

CONSTABLE
Say what ye will, but life is an awful bother.

MRS. COTTER
We must go through it.

CONSTABLE
Well, ’tis a good job we don’t live as long as the alligators. We might have to support our grandchilder if we did, an’ I may tell you it gives me enough to do to support me own.

MRS. COTTER
How many have you now, Constable?

CONSTABLE
Seven, an’ the wife’s mother.

MRS. COTTER
I thought she was dead.

CONSTABLE (_disgusted_)
Dead! There’s five years more in her!

MRS. COTTER
You seem to be in a very bad humor to-night.

CONSTABLE
An’ why not? When I have to put up with that bla’gard of a Sergeant–not to mention the Head-constable!

MRS. COTTER
We all have our troubles.

CONSTABLE
Some of us get more than our share. An’ ’tis far from troublin’ a dacent woman like you I’d be, only for the Sergeant, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
Excuse me, Constable. I can’t keep me eyes open with the sleep.

CONSTABLE
I’m sorry for troublin’ you. But duty is duty, an’ it must be done whether we give offence to our best friends or not. Sure, ’tis well I know that you have no one on the premises.

MRS. COTTER
We can’t please everybody.

CONSTABLE (_as he draws a chair to the fire and sits down_) Who would try? I wonder is it snow we’re goin’ to have?

MRS. COTTER
If you’re cold, come up to the fire in the sittin’-room. Or if I were you, I’d take a good walk.

CONSTABLE
I’m tired o’ walkin’, an’ the cold gives me no trouble. ‘Tis the pains I have here (_placing his hand on his heart_) that affects me.

MRS. COTTER
What sort are they?

CONSTABLE
Cramps–of the worst kind.

MRS. COTTER
Gracious me! Have you taken anythin’ for them?

CONSTABLE
What would be good for ’em?

MRS. COTTER
Hot milk an’ pepper.

CONSTABLE
I tried that.

MRS. COTTER
Anythin’ else?

CONSTABLE
Nothin’ except a smoke.

MRS. COTTER
Maybe a little drop o’ “Wise’s” would do some good?

CONSTABLE
I’d try anythin’ that ‘ud lessen the pain, though I’d rather not be troublin’ ye.

MRS. COTTER
‘Tis no trouble at all.

[_Exit. While she is away, something falls in the room where Micus and Padna are. The Constable fails to open the door, and returns to his chair before Mrs. Cotter comes back with the drink_.

MRS. COTTER (_handing glass_)
Drink that up, go straight home, bathe ye’r feet in mustard an’ water, an’ ye’ll be as strong as a Protestant in the mornin’!

CONSTABLE (_taking glass_)
Thank ye, ma’am.

[_Drinks it off. The Head in the coal hole sneezes, and the Sergeant shouts_ “God bless us!”

CONSTABLE
What’s that?

MRS. COTTER
Oh, that’s nothin’.

[_Another sneeze and_ “God bless us!”

CONSTABLE
Well, if that nothin’ isn’t somethin’, I’m dotin’.

[_Opens door and Head and Sergeant fall out on the floor_.

SERGEANT
‘Tis all your fault with your blasted sneezin’.

HEAD
Now, maybe you’ll believe that I’ve a cold.

SERGEANT
Don’t be botherin’ me. I can’t believe meself not to mind a liar like you.

HEAD (_to the Constable, after he has got on his feet_) Now, sir, what have you got to say for yourself? ‘Twill be useless for you to deny that meself an’ the Sergeant here (_points to the Sergeant who is still on the floor_) have caught you drinkin’ on these licensed premises durin’ your hours o’ duty.

CONSTABLE
An’ what about me catchin’ the pair o’ ye hidin’ in the coal hole o’ the same licensed premises, an’ a strong smell o’ whiskey from ye?

HEAD
‘Tis from yourself that, you smells the whiskey.

CONSTABLE (_takes an onion from his pocket, peels it, and eats it slowly_)
I defy you or any one else to find the smell o’ whiskey from me.

HEAD (_to the Sergeant_)
Well, don’t that beat Banagher?

SERGEANT
The Devil himself couldn’t do better.

CONSTABLE
Well, gentlemen, I’m sorry for troublin’ ye, but duty is duty. I’ll now place ye under arrest an’ send for the Inspector.

HEAD (_in a rage_)
No more o’ this nonsense! You’ll pay for this night’s work, believe me.

CONSTABLE (_smiling_)
I’ll pay for a drink for both o’ ye for the sake of old times, an’ the less said about this night’s work the better. (_All remain silent for a short time_) Well, are ye goin’ to have the drink?

SERGEANT (_to Head_)
We might as well take it, for ’tis the first time he ever offered to stand, an’ it may be the last.

HEAD (_after much consideration_)
Very well, then, I’ll have a drop o’ the best.

SERGEANT
An’ I’ll have the same.

CONSTABLE
Three glasses o’ “Wise’s,” Mrs. Cotter.

MRS. COTTER _(from the bar)_
Certainly, Constable.

[_The Head and Sergeant remain silent, and the Constable paces up and down with his hands in his pockets, whistling some popular tune, until Mrs. Cotter brings in the drinks_.

MRS. COTTER _(as she places the drinks on the table)_ I don’t like to see ye in this cold kitchen, gentlemen. Can’t ye come up-stairs to the sitting-room?

CONSTABLE
‘Tisn’t worth our while, ma’am. We have our work to do. (_Taking glass in hand_) Slainthe!

[_Drinks half the quantity of whiskey. The Head and Sergeant do likewise. A noise like the falling of furniture is heard from the room where Padna and Micus are._

HEAD _(startled)_
What’s that?

_[There is silence for a while, then Micus is heard singing._

MICUS
“We are the boys of Wexford
Who fought with heart an’ hand
To burst in twain the galling chain, An’ free our native land.”

HEAD _(to Mrs. Cotter who has come from the bar)_ I’ll have the kay of that door, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
What kay, Head?

HEAD
The kay o’ that door, ma’am.
[_Strikes door with his fist_.

MRS. COTTER
Erra, Head, what’s the matter with ye? That door is nailed up this seven years. That singin’ comes from the next house.

HEAD
Glory be to God! Do any one alive tell the truth? _(Catches hold of chair by the back)_ If you don’t give me the kay, I’ll burst open the door.

MRS. COTTER
I have no kay, Head.

HEAD (_holding chair over his head_)
Once more I demand the kay in the name of His Majesty the King, before I puts the legs o’ the chair flyin’ through the ledges.

MRS. COTTER (_crying, hands key_)
Oh, wisha, what’ll I do at all?

HEAD (_taking key_)
You’ll be told that later on, ma’am.

MRS. COTTER
They are only two neighbors like y’erselves. Can’t ye go away an’ lave ’em alone?

HEAD (_placing key_)
Not a word now, ma’am, for anythin’ that you will say or won’t say must be used in evidence ag’inst ye.

PADNA (_singing_)
“Who fears to speak of Ninety-eight? Who blushes at the name?
When cowards mock the patriots’ fate, Who hangs his head for shame?
He’s all a knave or half a slave,
Who slights his country thus:
But true men, like you, men,
Will drink your glass with us.”

HEAD (to _Mrs. Cotter_)
That’s a nice song to be singin’ on a licensed premises, ma’am. ‘Twould cause a riot if there was enough o’ people about. No less than raidin’ the police barracks would satisfy the likes o’ that songster if he was left at large. (_Opens door. Padna and Micus stagger on to the floor. They fall but get on their feet again_) What are ye doin’ here?

PADNA
What the devil is that to you?

MICUS
Or to any one else either?

HEAD
Do ye know that this is a licensed premises?

PADNA (_looking at Micus_)
Of course we do.

HEAD
An’ do ye know that this is Sunday night an’ that I’m the Head Constable, an’ that one o’ these min here is the Sergeant an’ the other is the Constable?

PADNA (_buttons his coat and looks defiantly at them_) An’ do ye know that I’m Padna Sweeney from Clashbeg?

MICUS (_also buttons his coat and looks aggressively at Head_)
An’ that I’m his old pal Micus Goggin from Castleclover?

PADNA (_as he staggers_)
Don’t mind him, Micus. He’s drunk.

HEAD
What’s that you’re sayin’? Who’s drunk?

PADNA
Be jaikus, ye’re all drunk.

MICUS
Come on away home, Padna, an’ don’t mind _them._ They’re a bad lot.

PADNA
The smell o’ drink from ’em is awful.

MICUS
‘Tis disgustin’. I wouldn’t be seen in their company. Padna. Come on away.

HEAD (_to Sergeant and Constable_)
Arrest these min!

PADNA
Do ye hear that, Micus?

MICUS (_opening his coat_)
I do, but I won’t be insulted be the likes o’ them.

PADNA (_opening his coat also_)
Nayther will I!

HEAD (_indignantly_)
Why don’t ye arrest these min, I say?

PADNA and MICUS (_together_)
Arrest us, is it? (_They take off their coats, throw them on the ground, and take their stand like pugilists_) Come on, now, and arrest us!

PADNA
I’ll take the best man.

MICUS
An’ I’ll take the lot.

[_The police try to arrest them, and a desperate struggle ensues. The police lose their caps and belts, but eventually succeed in overpowering them._

MRS. COTTER (_rushes to the rescue_)
O boys, for my sake, an’ for the sake o’ ye’r wives an’ families, have no crossness but lave the house quietly.

PADNA (_as he struggles with the Sergeant_) Don’t fret, ma’am. We’ll have no crossness. All we want is to wipe the police from the face o’ the earth altogether.

MICUS
That’s all. We’ll have no crossness.

[_Handcuffs are placed on Micus and Padna._

HEAD (_shouts_)
Take these min to the Barrack.

[_They struggle violently, and sing as they leave the house._

PADNA and MICUS (_together_)
“When boyhood’s fire was in my blood, I read of ancient freemen
For Grace and Rome who bravely stood, Three hundred men and three men.
And then I prayed I yet might see
Our fetters rent in twain,
And Ireland, long a province, be
A Nation once again.”

[_Mrs. Cotter follows them to the door, and while the Head is alone, he writes in his notebook, talking aloud as he does so_.

HEAD
“Found drunk an’ disorderly on the licensed premises o’ Mrs. Cotter, Ballyferris, during prohibited hours. Using bad an’ offensive language. Resistin’ arrest, assaultin’ the police, an’ doin’ sayrious damage to their garments. Singin’ songs of a nature likely to cause rebellion an’ threatenin’ to exterminate the whole Royal Irish Constabulary.” (_Places book back in pocket_)

[_There is a little whiskey in each of the three glasses that were placed on the mantleshelf. The Head pours_

_the contents of each into one and drinks it before Mrs. Cotter returns. Enter Mrs. Cotter._

MRS. COTTER
Oh, Head, you won’t be hard on a lone widow, will ye? Don’t prosecute thim poor min. Sure, they have done no more harm than y’erselves.

HEAD _(as he stands at door)_
Mrs. Cotter, ma’am! I’m surprised at you.

MRS. COTTER
For what, Head?

HEAD
To think that you’d dare attempt to interfere with me in the discharge o’ me duty!

MRS. COTTER
DUTY!

CURTAIN

* * * * *

JURISPRUDENCE

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

CHARACTERS

MARTIN O’FLYNN _A Resident Magistrate_ CORNELIUS JOHN MICHAEL O’CROWLEY _A New Justice of the Peace_ PHELAN DUFFY _A Barrister-at-Law_
BRENNAN CASSIDY _A Solicitor_
PETER DWYER _Clerk of the Petty Sessions Court_ RICHARD FENNELL
MARGARET FENNELL _Wife of Richard Fennell_ SERGEANT HEALY _A Member of the Royal Irish Constabulary_ CONSTABLE O’RYAN _A Member of the R.I.C_. CONSTABLE MCCARTHY _A Member of the R.I.C_.

JURISPRUDENCE

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

_Scene: Room in courthouse at Ballybraggan. Magistrates and clerk of court seated on the Bench. Barristers, townspeople, and police in body of the court_.

MARTIN O’FLYNN _(rises and wipes his brow with a red handkerchief_) Members of the Munster Bar, Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and–gentlemen (_pauses_), and ladies also, before the Court opens for the dispensation of justice, I would like to say a few short words about a matter that concerns not only ourselves here present, and the town of Ballybraggan in particular, but everybody alive to their own interests and the whole world in general. We have with us to-day one who is no stranger to the people of this historic town, and it is with feelings of the highest regard that I stand before you in my privileged capacity as resident magistrate to perform what seems to me to be the most pleasing and likewise the most joyous of duties that could fall to the lot of any man, whether he might come from where the waves of the tumultuous Pacific wash the shores of the great Western world or from the town of Mallow itself. And that is to have the honor and glorification of introducing to you our new and worthy magistrate, Mr. Cornelius John Michael O’Crowley. (_Applause_) Far be it from me indeed to flatter any man, but there are times when we must tell the truth. (_Applause_) And when I say that there is no one more humble for a man of his achievements from here to Honolulu than Mr. O’Crowley himself, I am only telling the truth in a plain and unadorned form. Every effort put forth by Mr. O’Crowley for the welfare of mankind has been characterised by success, and what greater proof of his ability could we have than the fact that he is one of the largest wine merchants and hotel proprietors in the length and breadth of Munster? Indeed, if Mr. O’Crowley wasn’t fully qualified for upholding and sustaining the dignity of the coveted title, Justice of the Peace, His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, who is both a scholar, a gentleman, and a Scotchman to boot, would not be so pleased and delighted to confer on him an honor only worthy of a man of his attainments, sentiments, and quality of character. _(Applause)_

PHELAN DUFFY
On behalf of the legal profession of which I have the honor of being the oldest member, I am not only desirous but extremely overjoyed to have the golden opportunity of congratulating our worthy townsman Mr. Cornelius John Michael O’Crowley on the great distinction that has befallen him. We all have heard of that Englishman who said one time, with all the cleverness of an Irishman and a native of Ballybraggan at that: “Some are born great, others acquire greatness, and more have greatness thrust upon them.” Now to say that Mr. O’Crowley had greatness thrust upon him would not be a fact, and whether or not he was born great we don’t know, but one thing is certain, and that is, he has acquired greatness. And when I say so, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not talking idly or glibly, but with all the sincerity of my heart. With the same sincerity that has characterised all my actions since I was first called to the Bar, and made of me what I am to-day. With the same sincerity that characterises every successful member of the legal profession, be he Irish, Scotch, or American. Let critics say what they will, but the fact remains that success is the best answer to adverse criticism. A man’s true worth may not always be appreciated in a cold and heartless world like ours, but there will ever be found a few who can always sympathise with us in our sorrows and rejoice with us in our triumphs. And Mr. O’Crowley has the rare gift which enables him to do both. (_Applause_) He is a man of large and noble ideals, of sterling qualities and knows human nature in all its many phases. He knows the wants of the people and what’s more, he knows how to satisfy them. He would not allow any man’s light to be hidden under a bushel, so to speak, and why should we allow the bushel to bide his? (_Applause_) Let credit be given where credit is due, was ever his motto. And only one month has elapsed since he said to me, after defending his own brother on a breach of the Sunday Closing Act in this very courthouse, “My heartiest thanks and warmest congratulations for your splendid victory. There isn’t another man in the whole country, not even Tim Healy himself, who could win that case.”

SERGEANT HEALY
On behalf of the Royal Irish Constabulary, I wish to be associated with the hearty and unanimous welcome extended to Mr. O’Crowley, whom I have known since the first night I came to the town. And my only regret is that I did not know him before, because men with his rare traits of character are not to be met with every day. His genial and kindly disposition has endeared him to us all. His doors are never closed on either Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, or any other day. Friend or foe, stranger or native of Ballybraggan, are all the same to Mr. O’Crowley. Each
and every one is received with the same hearty welcome. He is a man whom we think of in our hours of suffering, whether it be on the scorching heat of a summer’s day or the blighting cold of a winter’s night. It is my earnest wish, and I am sure that I am only expressing the sentiments of the whole of Munster, that the success which has attended Mr. O’Crowley in all the ventures of his useful life will be doubled in his capacity as Justice of the Peace. (_Applause_)

PETER DWYER
In all the long years that I have acted as clerk of this court, I never felt more pleased at the coming of a new magistrate than when I heard of the discretion of His Excellency in selecting Mr. O’Crowley for this most exalted position. All that I might say in my congratulations and welcome has already been said, and I can only concur in the good wishes that have been offered, and though a lot more might have been said of one so praiseworthy, I know that Mr. O’Crowley will understand, it is not that we like him less but that we respect him more. Mr. O’Crowley is a man who is above pride and does not want the walls of Rome or the stones of the Munster roads to know what he does for mankind. So I will now conclude by wishing him all the success that he deserves, in the future and hereafter.

MR. C. J. M. O’CROWLEY
Brother magistrates, members of the Bar, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and gentlemen: From the bottom of my heart I thank you for all the high compliments you have paid me this day, and I only hope that I will be long spared to be a source of comfort and consolation to the men and women of Ballybraggan. I know, of course, that I am not a pararagom of perfection, but I have the wonderful satisfaction of knowing that I have been appreciated in my own time, and that’s more than some of the world’s best poets, philosophers, and other servants of mankind could have said. The superdalliance of some and the pomposity and congential insufficiency of others have always been a warning to me, and when opportunity sallied forth from her hiding place I never failed to recognise her queenly presence and extend a _cead-mile-failte,_ and make of her my own, so to speak.
Such was the way of Wellington and his contemporary Hannibal, and such must be the way of every man who must serve his country and himself. And believe me, much as the people of Ballybraggan think about me, I think every bit as much about them. It is hardly necessary for me to say that we only get what we deserve in this world, and sometimes a little more or a little less as the case may be. The desirable propensities of the people of the town have endeared me to them with a spirit as strong as that which makes the ivy cling to the oak, and as we see the ivy fondly clinging to that monarch of trees, whether it sprouts its green leaves in the glorious sunshine or falls to the ground with decay, so will I cling to the people of Ballybraggan. Once again, I thank you, but in conclusion I must say that I will do all in my power to prove worthy of the reliance and confidence placed in me. (_Applause_)

PETER DWYER
The court is now open for the dispensation of justice. The only case before us to-day is one of house-breaking, drunkenness from excessive use of poteen, which is an illegal drink, and resisting arrest by the police. The charge is laid against one Richard Fennell, and cross-summonses have been issued to Mr. and Mrs. Fennell.

PHELAN DUFFY
On behalf of my client, Mrs. Fennell, I wish to impress upon the Bench the gravity of the offence with which the accused Richard Fennell is charged, namely, drunkenness from excessive use of an illegal intoxicant known as poteen, house-breaking, terrorizing and almost paralyzing with fear his highly strung and sensitive wife, and adding insult to injury in resisting arrest by his Majesty’s guardian of law and order, Sergeant Healy. These are grave charges indeed, and who will gainsay that a man gifted with the spirit of destruction like Mr. Fennell is a menace to the peace-abiding town of Ballybraggan? Not since the heartless barbarians made their ruthless descent upon the Roman Empire was there such havoc wrought in any one house, or did any individual member of society suffer so much from nervous prostration as Mrs. Fennell.

MR. FENNELL (_interrupting_)
Can’t a man dust his own furniture and chastise his own wife if he feels like doing so?

MR. O’CROWLEY
Order! order! There must be no interruptions in this court of justice.

PHELAN DUFFY _(continuing)_
You can well imagine how poor Mrs. Fennell thought that the end of the world was coming when she saw every bit of ware on the kitchen dresser smashed in pieces no larger than threepenny bits on the floor. And the alarm clock that woke Mr. Fennell every morning and reminded him that it was time to get up and make his wife’s breakfast, which she always got in bed, struck dumb for ever with its works battered beyond recognition. Think of this poor woman’s feelings at such an awful moment.

MR. FENNELL (_interrupting_)
Feelings! She has no more feelings than a tombstone.

PHELAN DUFFY (_continuing_)
Think of this decent, self-respecting, loving wife and mother, who has had no less than three husbands.

MRS. FENNELL (_interrupting_)
An’ I’ll have another too, please God!

PHELAN DUFFY
Think, I say, of three husbands, and ten children. Six resting in the little churchyard at Ennisbeg, and four resting in the Royal Irish Constabulary. That Mr. Fennell was what we would call a model husband, before he touched this poteen goes without saying. Everything that his wife told him to do was done, and done to her satisfaction, and done whether he liked the doing of it or no.

MRS. FENNELL (_interrupting_)
I always made my husbands do what they were told.

PHELAN DUFFY
Mr. Fennell is no doubt guilty of a serious offence, but whoever sold him the base liquor is far more guilty in the eyes of the law, as well as the public. Needless to state, this fact does not in any way lessen the gravity of Mr. Fennell’s offence, and I would ask the Bench not to allow any feelings of sentiment to interfere with the discharge of their duty. I would ask that the severest penalty allowed be inflicted on the accused for his unwarranted, unmanly, and blackguardly conduct.

MRS. FENNELL (_to Phelan Duffy_)
Wisha, bad luck to your impudence to call my husband a bla’gard. A dacent man that never went to the likes of you or any one else for anything.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Order, order.

MRS. FENNELL
‘Tis only the likes of lawyers that have the insolence to insult dacent people. Sure when they aren’t ignorant they’re consated, and their wives and daughters are no better than themselves.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Order, order. Unless you behave yourself, you must be placed under arrest.

MRS. FENNELL
Sure, you don’t think I can stand here with a tongue in me head and listen to me husband being insulted, do you?

PETER DWYER
Order, order, Mrs. Fennell, please.

[_She attempts to speak again, and the sergeant places his hand over her mouth. She resents this action, and in a struggle which ensues the sergeant falls to the floor. He is helped to his feet by Mrs. Fennell, and both look at each other in a scornful way._

SERGEANT HEALY (_to Mrs. Fennell_)
‘Tis a good job for you that you’re not Mrs. Healy.

MRS. FENNELL
And ’tis a blessing for you that you’re not Mr. Fennell.

MR. O’CROWLEY
Order, order. This conduct is scandalous, Mrs. Fennell, and you must keep quiet.

MR. FENNELL
You might as well be asking a whale to whistle “The Last Rose of Summer” or asking the Kaiser to become a Trappist monk.

PETER DWYER
Order, order. Now please, Mrs. Fennell, come forward and give your evidence.

MRS. FENNELL
All I have to say is that my husband got the delirium tramens from drinking poteen and broke every bit of furniture in the house, an’ he might have killed myself.

MR. FENNELL (_very disgusted_)
I wish I knew how.

MRS. FENNELL (_continuing_)
Only for having the good sense of rushing to the front door and shouting for the police. I’m an orphan, your Worship, and that’s why I’m here to seek protection from the court. All the same, I haven’t a word to say to my husband, the cowardly ruffian, only for his love of poteen, bad temper, and contrary ways.

MR. O’CROWLEY
That will do, Mrs. Fennell.

MRS. FENNELL
Thanks, your Worship.

SERGEANT HEALY (_takes out his notebook. A day pipe, box of snuff, and handkerchief fall to the floor. The snuff falls on the handkerchief. He replaces the snuff box and the pipe in his pocket, and wipes his face with the snuffy handkerchief. He then opens his notebook for reference and begins_)
On the night of December third _sneezes and says:_ God bless us!) I was on me rounds doin’ beat duty in Market Square in the town of Ballybraggan (_Sneezes_)–God bless us!–and all of a sudden without a moment’s notice, I was disturbed from me reverie of pious thought, be a great disturbance like the falling of porter barrels from the top floor of a brewery, and without saying as much as the Lord protect me, I swung to me left from whence the noise came and beheld Mrs. Fennell (_Sneeze_)–God bless us!–rushing out of her own house the way you’d see a wild Injun rushing in the moving pictures and shouting like a circus lion before his breakfast: “Police! police! police!” An’ as though it was the will of Providence, I was in the very place where me presence was required.

MRS. FENNELL
Accidents will happen, Sergeant.

SERGEANT
They will, and disasters too, if you don’t hold your tongue.

PETER DWYER
Order, order.

SERGEANT HEALY (_continuing_)
Well, in with me to the house without a moment’s delay, and what did I see but Richard Fennell sitting in an easy chair and smoking a cigar and looking as happy an’ contented as a Protestant after a meal of corn beef and cabbage on a Friday. An’ the house, the Lord save us!–one would think that ’twas struck be a cyclone. The only thing that remained whole was the chair that he sat in and the decanter that fed the broken glass from which he drank the poteen. “What brings you here?” ses he, to me. An’ only I had the presence of mind of clapping the handcuffs on him before I had time to answer such an impertinent question, there might be one more above in the old churchyard and one less in this court of justice. (_Sneezes_) God bless us! The story is nearly ended. (_Sneezes_) God bless us! I–(_Sneezes_) God bless us! I–(_Waits for an expected sneeze and when disappointed he says_ “Thank God!”) I brought the prisoner to the barrack and have here the poteen that changed him from a law-abiding townsman into a fiend incarnate. (_The sergeant then places the bottle of poteen on the counter, looks very hard at it, pretends to faint from sudden weakness, and asks for a drink of water_) Can I have a little water, if you please?
[_Several rush to assist him. There is no water in the court, and the clerk gets the kind of inspiration that the sergeant desires and fetches the poteen. He pours some out in a glass and gives it to the sergeant_.

PETER DWYER (_to the sergeant_)
Try a little drop of the spirits, Sergeant, as there isn’t a drop of water to be had. The plumbers are working at the pipes.

SERGEANT (_softly_)
Bad luck to them for plumbers. They are always a nuisance. (_Before putting glass to his lips_) I suppose I must take it, because I am dry as a bona-fide traveller. (_He finishes it all in one drink_) It doesn’t taste too bad after all, and water at its best isn’t much good for one who must do a lot of talking. I’ll have a little more, if you please.

MR. O’CROWLEY
You can’t have any more, Sergeant. That would be abusing your privilege.

SERGEANT HEALY (_softly_)
Alright, your Worship. When a man’s as full of the law as meself, ’tis hard to remember when he’s privileged. [_The sergeant recovers and the case proceeds._

BRENNAN CASSIDY (_for Mr. Fennell_)
On behalf of my client, Mr. Fennell, I wish to point out the absurdity of the charges brought against him. For no reason whatever and without a moment’s warning, the sergeant rushed into his house without an invitation or observing the laws of common propriety by ringing the bell, and ruthlessly placed handcuffs on Mr. Fennell and marched him off to prison like a common felon. And not a shadow of evidence as to misbehavior against him except the statements of his wife about the breaking of some furniture. Now, let us suppose that Mr. Fennell did break the furniture. Was not that his own affair? The furniture was his property, and he could do with it as he pleased. Perhaps he did not like the manner in which it was designed, and Mr. Fennell, mistaking his aversion for things not in keeping with his artistic ideals, came to the conclusion that he was only on a voyage of destruction when he merely was proving how little of the philistine there was in his nature by removing from his home such articles as did not harmonize with his conception of the beautiful. The fact that the whole affair happened so hastily only goes to prove that Mr. Fennell has the artistic temperament.

MRS. FENNELL
The artistic temperament, my dear! What next!

MR. CASSIDY
The idea of doing away with the furniture, which Mr. Fennell emphatically states he disliked,–and what greater proof of the fact could we have than his action in destroying it?–came to him like an inspiration, and being a true artist he seized the opportunity, and the world was made all the lovelier by the riddance of ugly things. I think, in fact, I know that I have proved that the charge of house-breaking is absurd. (_Takes out his watch, holds it in the palm of his left hand_) This watch is mine, and if I should choose to smash it into a thousand fragments, who is there to prevent me? What power has the law over such matters? None whatever. Well, it would be just as ridiculous and absurd to punish my client for smashing his own furniture, which he purchased with his own hard earned money, as to punish me for smashing this watch if I should feel like doing so. (_Applause, which is suppressed_) To charge Mr. Fennell with drinking poteen is equally absurd. He does not know what poteen tastes like. The idea of taking a decanter and a bottle of whiskey out of any gentleman’s house without his permission is tyranny of the very worst kind. It is a grievous offence in the eyes of the law as well as a breach of etiquette. What, might I ask, would happen if any of us were to break into His Worship’s hotel and steal, or take if you will, some choice samples of his wines? Would we not find ourselves in a prison cell? Most assuredly we would, and what’s more, our good name would be gone forever. The finger of scorn would be pointed at our children and our children’s children, and posterity would never forget us.

MRS. FENNELL
‘Tis only worse he’s getting.

PETER DWYER
Order, order.

MR. CASSIDY
There is only one course for the Bench to adopt, and that is to discharge Mr. Fennell. He has already suffered enough and any one with such a ballyragging, unreasonable, unladylike, and headstrong wife deserves our sympathy.

MR. FENNELL (_with indignation_)
Mr. Cassidy, sir. How dare you stand up there in my presence and insult my wife! You’re no gentleman, sir. Remember when you offend my wife, you offend me. Do you hear that?