Skip to main content

Full text of "The whale and the grasshopper : and other fables"

See other formats




Everybody came to the valley and everybody 
enjoyed coming, because there was no place like it. 

The H^hale and the 

And Other Fables 

Seumas O Brien 

With a frontispiece by 
Robert McCaig 

Little, Brown, and Company 



Copyright, 1916, 

All rights reserved 
Published, November, 1916 









THE VALLEY or THE DEAD . . . . , 36 

THE KING or MONTOBEWLO . . . . . 51 


HAM AND EGGS. . . ...... 101 


REBELLIONS . .... , .^ . . . . . 136 

KINGS AND COMMONERS . . . . . . 143 


THE LADY OF THE MOON . . . . > . 163 

A BARGAIN OF BARGAINS , . . . . . 177 

SHAUNO AND THE SHAH . . . . . . 191 







The H^hale and the 

WHEN Padna Dan started talking to 
his friend Micus Pat as they walked 
at a leisurely pace towards the town 
of Castlegregory on a June morning, what he said 
was: "The world is a wonderful place when you 
come to think about it, and Ireland is a wonderful 
place and so is America, and though there are lots 
of places like each other, there s no place like 
Ballysantamalo. When there s not sunshine there, 
there s moonshine, and the handsomest women in 
the world live there, and nowhere else except in 
Ireland or the churchyards could you find such 
decent peopled" 

"Decency," said Micus, "when you re poor is 
extravagance, and bad example when you re 


2 The Whale and the Grasshopper 

"And why?" said Padna. 

"Well," said Micus, "because the poor imitate 
the rich and the rich give to the poor and when 
the poor give to each other they have nothing 
of their own." 

"That s communism you re talking," said 
Padna, "and that always comes before education 
and enlightenment. Sure, if the poor weren t 
decent they d be rich, and if the rich were decent 
they d be poor, and if every one had a conscience 
there d be less millionaires." 

" Tis a poor bird that can t pick for himself." 

"But suppose a bird had a broken wing and 
couldn t fly to where the pickings were?" said 

"Well, then bring the pickings to him. That 
would be charity." 

"But charity is decency and wisdom is holding 
your tongue when you don t know what you re 
talking about." 

"If the people of Ballysantamalo are so decent, 
how is it that there are so many bachelors there? 
Do you think it right to have all the young women 

The Whale and the Grasshopper 3 

worrying their heads off reading trashy novels and 
doing all sorts of silly things like fixing their hair 
in a way that was never intended by nature and 
doing so for years and years and having nothing 
in the end but the trouble of it all?" 

"Well, tis hard blaming the young men be 
cause every young lady you meet looks better to 
you than the last until you meet the next, and 
so you go from one to another until you re so 
old that no one would marry you at all unless 
you had lots of money, a bad liver, and a shaky 

"An old man without any sense, lots of money, 
a bad liver, and a shaky heart can always get a 
young lady to marry him," said Micus, "though 
rheumatics, gout, and a wooden leg are just as 
good in such a case." 

"Every bit," said Padna, "but there s nothing 
like a weak constitution, a cold climate, and a 
tendency to pneumonia." 

"Old men are queer," said Micus. 

"They are," said Padna, "and if they were all 
only half as wise as they think they are, then 

4 The Whale and the Grasshopper 

there d be only young fools in the world. I don t 
wonder a bit at the suffragettes. And a time will 
come when we won t know men from women 
unless someone tells us so." 

"Wisha, tis my belief that there will be a great 
reaction some day, because women will never be 
able to stand the strain of doing what they 
please without encountering opposition. When 
a man falls into love he falls into trouble like 
wise, and when a woman isn t in trouble you 
may be sure that there s something wrong with 

"Well," said Padna, "I think we will leave the 
women where the Devil left St. Peter, " 

"Where was that?" asked Micus. 

"Alone," answered Padna. 

"That would be all very fine if they stayed 
there," said Micus. 

"Now," said Padna, "as I was talking of my 
travels in foreign parts, I want to tell you about 
the morning I walked along the beach at Bally- 
santamalo, and a warm morning it was too. So I 
ses to meself, Padna Dan, ses I, what kind of a 

The Whale and the Grasshopper 5 

fool of a man are you? Why don t you take a 
swim for yourself? So I did take a swim, and I 
swam to the rocks where the seals go to get their 
photographs taken, and while I was having a rest 
for myself I noticed a grasshopper sitting a short 
distance away and pon my word, but he was the 
most sorrowful-looking grasshopper I ever saw 
before or since. Then all of a sudden a monster 
whale comes up from the sea and lies down beside 
him and ses: Well, ses he, is that you? Who d 
ever think of finding you here! Why there s 
nothing strange under the sun but the ways of 


" Tis me that s here, then, ses the grass 
hopper. My grandmother died last night and 
she wasn t insured either. 

" The practice of negligence is the curse of 
mankind and the root of sorrow/ ses the whale. 
I suppose the poor old soul had her fill of days, 
and sure we all must die, and tis cheaper to be 
dead than alive at any time. A man never knows 
that he s dead when he is dead, and he never 
knows he s alive until he s married. 

6 The Whale and the Grasshopper 

" You re a great one to expatiate on things 
you know nothing about like the barbers and 
the cobblers/ said the grasshopper. I only 
want to know if you re coming to the funeral to 

" I m sorry I can t/ ses the whale. My grand 
father is getting married for the tenth time and I 
was in China on the last few occasions. I must 
pay my respects by being present at to-morrow s 
festivities/ ses he. 

" I m sorry you can t come/ ses the grass 
hopper, because you are heartily welcome and 
you d add prestige to the ceremony besides. 

" I know that/ ses the whale, but America 
don t care much about ceremony. 

" Who told you that? ses the grasshopper. 

" Haven t I my eyesight, and don t I read the 
newspapers? ses the whale. 

" You mustn t read the society columns, then/ 
ses the grasshopper. 

"Wisha, for the love of St. Crispin/ ses the 
whale, have they society columns in the Ameri 
can newspapers? 

The Whale and the Grasshopper 7 

" Indeed they have/ ses the grasshopper, and 
they oftentimes devote a few columns to other 
matters when the dressmakers don t be busy/ 

" America is a strange country surely, a won 
derful country, not to say a word about the 
length and breadth of it. I swam around it twice 
last week without stopping, to try and reduce 
my weight, and would you believe me that I 
was tired after the journey, but the change of 
air only added to my proportions? 

" That s too bad, ses the grasshopper? 

"Are you an American? ses the whale. 

" Of course I am, ses the grasshopper. You 
don t think tis the way I d be born at sea and no 
nationality at all, like yourself. I m proud of my 

"And why, might I ask? 

" Well, don t we produce distinguished Irish 
men, and make Americans of the Europeans and 
Europeans of the Americans? Think of all the 
connoisseurs who wouldn t buy a work of art in 
their own country, when they could go to Europe 
and pay ten times the value for the pot-boilers 

8 The Whale and the Grasshopper 

that does be turned out in the studios of Paris 
and London/ 

" l There s nothing like home industry, ses the 
whale, in a foreign country, I mean. 

" l After all, who knows anything about a work 
of art but the artist, and very little he knows 
about it either. A work of art is like a flower; it 
grows, it happens. That s all. And unless you 
charge the devil s own price for it, people will 
think you are cheating them. 

"Wisha, I suppose the best any one can do is 
to take all you can get and if you want to be a 
philanthropist give away what you don t want/ 
ses the grasshopper. 

" All worth missing I catches, ses the whale, 
and all worth catching I misses, like the fisherman 
who lost the salmon and caught a crab. How s 
things in Europe? I didn t see the papers this 

" Europe is in a bad way, ses the grasshopper. 
She was preaching civilization for centuries, so 
that she might be prepared when war came to 
annihilate herself. 

The Whale and the Grasshopper 9 

"It looks that way to me, ses the whale. 
Is there anything else worth while going on in 
the world? 

" There s the Irish question/ ses the grass 

" Where s that Ireland is? ses the whale. 
Isn t that an island to the west of England? 

" No, ses the grasshopper, but England is 
an island to the east of Ireland. 

" Wisha, ses the whale, it gives me indigestion 
to hear people talking about Ireland. Sure, I 
nearly swallowed it up by mistake while I was on 
a holiday in the Atlantic last year, and I m sorry 
now that I didn t. 

" And I m sorry that you didn t try, ses the 
grasshopper. Then you d know something about 
indigestion. The less you have to say about 
Ireland, the less you ll have to be sorry for. Re 
member that my father came from Cork. 

"Can t I say what I like? ses the whale. 

" You can think what you like, ses the grass 
hopper, but say what other people like if you 
want to be a good politician. 

10 The Whale and the Grasshopper 

" There s nothing so much abused as politics/ 
ses the whale. 

"Except politicians/ ses the grasshopper. 
Only for the Irish there d be no one bothering 
about poetry and the drama to-day. Only for 
fools there d be no wise people, and only for 
sprats, hake, and mackerel there d be no whales, 
and a good job that would be too. 7 

" What s that you re saying? ses the whale 
very sharply. 

" Don t have me to lose my temper with you/ 
ses the grasshopper. 

" Wisha, bad luck to your impudence and bad 
manners, you insignificant little spalpeen. How 
dare you insult your superiors? ses the whale. 

" Who s my superior? says the grasshopper. 
You, is it? 

" Yes, me then/ says the whale. 

" Well/ ses the grasshopper, there s no doubt 
but vanity, ignorance, and ambition are three 
wonderful things, and you have them all. 

" Another word from you/ ses the whale, and 
I ll put you where Napoleon put the oysters. 

The Whale and the Grasshopper 11 

" Neither you, nor Napoleon, nor the Kaiser 
himself and his hundred million men could do 
hurt or harm to me. You could have every sol 
dier in the German army, the French army, and 
the Salvation Army looking for me, and I d put 
the comether on them all. 

" I can t stand this any longer/ ses the whale, 
and then and there he hits the rock a whack of his 
tail, and when I went to look for the grasshopper, 
there he was sitting on the whale s nose as happy 
and contented as if nothing had happened. And 
when he jumped back to the rock again, he says: 
A little exercise when tis tempered with discre 
tion never does any harm, but violent exertion is 
a very foolish thing if you value your health. But 
it is only people who have no sense, but think 
they have it all, who make such errors. 

" If I could only get a hold of you, ses the 
whale, I d knock some of the pride out of you. 

" That would be an ungentlemanly way of 
displaying your displeasure, ses the grasshopper. 

" I d scorn, ses he, to use violent means with 
you, or do you physical injury of any kind. All 

12 The Whale and the Grasshopper 

you want is self control and a little education. 
You should know that quantity without quality 
isn t as good as quality without quantity/ 

" Sure, tis I m the fool to be wasting my time 
listening to the likes of you/ ses the whale. If 
any of my own family saw me now, I d never 
hear the end of it. 

" Indeed, ses the grasshopper, no one belong 
ing to me would ever recognise me ever again if 
they thought I was trying to make a whale be 
have himself. There would be some excuse for 
one of my attainments feeling proud. But as 
for you ! 

" And what in the name of nonsense can you 
do except give old guff out of you? 

" I haven t time to tell you all, ses the grass 
hopper. But to commence with, I can travel all 
over the world and have the use of trains, steam 
ers, sailing ships, and automobiles and will never 
be asked to pay a cent, and I can live on the dry 
land all my life if I choose, while you can t live 
under water, or over water, on land or on sea, 
and while all the king s horses and all the king s 

The Whale and the Grasshopper 13 

men couldn t catch me if they were trying till 
the crack of doom, you could be caught by a few 
poor ignorant harmless sailors, who wouldn t know 
a crow from a cormorant and who d sell your old 
carcass to make oil for foolish wives to burn and 
write letters to other people s husbands and fill 
the world with trouble. 

" And what about all the whalebone we sup 
plies for ladies corsets and paper knives, and what 
about all the stories we make for the novelists and 
the moving pictures and " 

"We re at the Sprig of Holly now," said 
Micus. "Is it a pint of porter or a bottle of 
stout you ll have?" 

"I ll have a pint, I think," said Padna. 

The House in the 

DOWN in the valley squirrels were busy 
climbing the hazel trees; rabbits made 
bold and ventured from their hiding 
places to gambol in the autumnal sunshine; 
weasels sported among the ferns; birds sang and 
insects buzzed, while nature looked on and 
smiled. Larch, birch, oak, and sycamore were 
altogether mingled, and perfect harmony there 
was in bower and hedgerow. Everybody came to 
the valley and everybody enjoyed coming, be 
cause there was no place like it. There was no 
color that you could not find there; but if you 
searched all day and all night too, only one house 
could you find in all its leafy splendor. Nor was 
it a large house. Just two stories high, with 

medium-sized windows below and small dormer 


The House in the Valley 15 

windows on top. The roof was made of thatch, 
and the thatch, from being bleached in the sun, 
had turned to a golden hue. The walls, no one 
could tell what they were made of, so well were 
they covered with ivy and other green creepers. 
In the garden in front there were roses, pinks, 
and geraniums; and in the garden behind, nas 
turtiums, money-musk, and golden feather grew 
on a rockery made of large stones that were 
brought from Conlan s Strand, where the chil 
dren of Lir (before they became swans) used to 
play and watch the great ships sailing over the 
seas. It was a beautiful place to live, was this 
house, and whosoever looked upon it never forgot 
the house in the valley. 

"This is a wonderful place, surely!" said a 
stranger, as he looked down from a crag and sur 
veyed the winding valley beneath. 

"A more wonderful place you could not find in 
a lifetime," responded Micus Pat, as he lit his 

"I believe you," said the stranger. "Sure, tis 
ten years of my life I d give to own that house," 

16 The House in the Valley 

as he pointed to where blue smoke was curling 
skywards. "Who built it at all, I d like to 

"Sit down there," said Micus Pat, as he 
pointed to a fallen tree, "and I ll tell you." 

And this is what he told: 

"Well, it all happened when His Royal High 
ness the Czar of Russia came on a visit to the 
Mayor of Cahermore." 

"That must have been a long time ago," in 
terrupted the stranger. 

"Of course it was," said Micus. "But, as I 
was saying, when His Royal Highness came to 
the town, there was great excitement entirely. 
Every man, woman, and child put on their Sun 
day clothes, and never before nor since was there 
such eating and drinking, nor such dancing and 
singing. Flags were flying from the windows and 
the housetops, and the birds in the cages and the 
birds in the trees sang until they got so hoarse 
that they couldn t sing any more. The Czar him 
self was delighted, and some say that he grew 

The House in the Valley 17 

two inches taller from all he had seen: but he 
wasn t much of a man at that. He was just an 
inch or so bigger than yourself, and maybe a bit 
better looking, but who d be boasting about 
such things, anyway? Well, though the Czar 
was neither big nor small, good looking nor bad 
looking, all the Grand Dukes and Grand Duch 
esses were the sight of the world. They too were 
delighted with themselves and everybody else, 
and all went well until the Czar was making his 
speech, and Bryan O Loughlin taking it down in 

"What did he want taking down the speech 
for? " said the stranger. 

"I m surprised at your ignorance," said Micus. 
"Sure you ought to know that the Czar gets all 
his speeches printed and gives them to his chil 
dren to read during the cold wintry nights in 
Russia. There s so much frost and snow there 
that His Royal Highness never leaves his children 
run about the roads to warm themselves, like 
other children, for fear of their getting chilblains 
and toothaches." 

18 The House in the Valley 

"He must be a good father, then," said the 

"Of course he is," said Micus, and he pro 
ceeded. "Well, the speech was wonderfully 
worded and loudly applauded, and nearly 
ended, when a loud report rang out like as if 
some one was trying to blow up the world 

"The Lord save us!" said the stranger. 

"Amen!" said Micus. "And when the silence 
was resumed, some one shouted at the top of his 
voice. Anarchists! Anarchists! Anarchists!" 

"What is an anarchist?" asked the stranger. 

"An anarchist," answered Micus, "is one who 
don t know what s the matter with himself or the 
world, and cares as little about his own life as he 
does about any one else s." 

"There are a lot of fools in the world, I m 
thinking," said the stranger. 

"There are, thank God," replied Micus. "Well, 
as true as I m telling you, every one in the place 
took to their heels when the great noise came, 
except Bryan O Loughlin and the Czar himself. 
And if you looked out through the windows of 

The House in the Valley 19 

the Town Hall, you d see for miles and miles and 
miles along the roads nothing but Grand Dukes 
and fair ladies, soldiers and sailors, and they fly 
ing helter-skelter as though the Devil, or Crom 
well himself, was after them." 

"And what did the Czar himself say?" queried 
the stranger. 

" The pusillanimous varmints, ses he, as he 
trod the floor with disdain; and then, lo and be 
hold! another blast rang out, and the Czar with 
all his swords and medals fell into Bryan s arms, 
and cried out! I m a dead man, ses he. Bury 
me with my mother s people ! 

"But he was no more dead than myself, for 
he only stepped on a blank cartridge which was 
dropped by some of the Grand Dukes in the 
scrummage for the doors and that s what 
nearly took the senses from His Royal Highness 
the Czar of Russia. 

"Well, when he came to himself some time after, 
he ses to Bryan: You re a brave man, ses he, 
and you must be rewarded for your valor, and 
Bryan felt as proud as the Duke of Wellington 

20 The House in the Valley 

and he after putting the comether on poor 
Napoleon; and to show how little he cared for 
danger, he trod on every cartridge he saw on 
the floor, and if you were there you d think twas 
at the battle of Vinegar Hill you were. 

" Be careful/ ses the Czar, one of them car 
tridges might be loaded. I can see you are a 
brave man (and he was too, for he was married 
three times, and he a widower, and he but three 
and thirty). There s nothing like discretion, 
ses the Czar, if you want to keep alive and out 
of trouble. 

"I m afraid of nothing, ses Bryan. And I ll 
always befriend a stranger in a foreign country. 

"And when the Czar heard that, he ses: Bryan 
O Loughlin of Cahermore, come here to me, 
and Bryan came. Sit down there, ses he, 
while I fill my pipe, and when his pipe was 
filled, he up and ses, as he drew a lot of photo 
graphs from his pocket: These are my seven 
daughters, ses he, and Bryan was delighted and 
surprised, so he ses: And is their mother living 
too? She is, indeed, says the Czar, and with- 

The House in the Valley 21 

out saying another word he pulls her photo 
graph out of another pocket, and when Bryan 
sees it, he ses: Ton my word, she s a fine, 
decent, grauver looking woman, and I wouldn t 
mind having her for a mother myself, only she 
looks too like a protestant. 

" She was the Duchess of Skatchachivouchi/ 
ses the Czar. 

" Is that so? Well, then, she comes of a real 
decent family/ ses Bryan. 

" Now, ses the Czar, I want to reward you 
for your wonderful courage, so you can have your 
choice of my seven daughters, ses he, and I ll 
make you Duke of Siberia besides. 

"But Bryan neither hummed nor hawed, and 
only asked him for the fill of his pipe, and when 
both were puffing away together, ses Bryan to 
the Czar: I can see you are a decent man, and 
I must thank you for your kindness, and indeed I 
must say also that your daughters are fine re 
spectable-looking young women, and I m sure 
that they would make good wives if they were 
well looked after. But I promised my last wife, 

22 The House in the Valley 

and she on her dying bed, that I would never 
marry any one again but the King of Spain s 

"And when he had all that said, the Czar 
looked very sad, and turned as pale as a ghost, 
and all he said was : Well, I couldn t do any more 
for you, and then ses he: Is there any place 
down here where we can have a drink? 

1(1 There is, said Bryan, down in the glen at 
the Fox and Hounds. 

" So off they marched together, and after they 
treated each other to three halfs of whiskey each, 
the Czar looked very tired and forlorn, and said, 
as they made a short cut through St. Kevin s 
boreen, and observed the clouds of night coming 
on from east and west, and south and north, and 
not a friend nor an enemy in sight: Well, ses he, 
how the devil am I to reach the shore in safety? 
I m a mighty monarch, and I must have a body 

"To all this, and more besides, Bryan listened, 
but never a word did he say until he smoked 
nearly all the Czar s tobacco, and burnt all his 

The House in the Valley 23 

matches; and then all of a sudden he ses, Leave 
it to me/ ses he. I can get you a bodyguard. 

" I wouldn t doubt you/ ses the Czar, as he 
slipped him a guinea. You can have this/ ses 
he, as you wouldn t have any of my daughters 
and be made the Duke of Siberia. But we ll 
none the less be friends/ ses he. Life is a tragedy 
or a comedy according to the way you look 
at it. 

" The world s a stage/ says Bryan, but most 
of the actors don t know how to act: they are 
only supers at best! 

"That s so/ ses the Czar. But what about 
my bodyguard? 

"I m thinking of it/ ses Bryan. Do you know 
my brother Larry? 

" No/ says the Czar, the pleasure isn t mine. 

" Well, he s a second corporal in the Bally- 
garvan Lancers, and he s a great friend of the 
sergeant s, and between us I think we can find a 

"And as true as I m telling you, after supper 
that night the Czar of Russia marched through 

24 The House in the Valley 

the streets of Cahermore with a bodyguard of the 
Ballygarvan Lancers behind and before him, and 
Bryan out in front leading the way, with a gun 
on his shoulder and a sword by his side, and 
everybody taking off their hats to him as he 

"And what happened to the Czar?" inquired 
the stranger. 

"He went on board his warship and sacked all 
his generals, admirals, and Grand Dukes, and 
when he went back to Russia, he sent over his 
architect and masons to build a house for Bryan, 
and that s the house in the valley beyond." 

"And was that the end of Bryan O Loughlin 
and the Czar of Russia?" 

"No," answered Micus. "Every Christmas 
his Royal Highness used to send Bryan Christ 
mas cards from himself and the wife and children^ 
and a box of blessed candles besides, and a bag 
of birdseed for the linnets, and sweetpea seed for 
the garden also; and there was no happier man 
in the whole world than Bryan till the day he 
died. And that s the end of my story." 

The House in the Valley 25 

"I think tis time to be going home now," 
said the stranger. "The swallows are flying low, 
and night will be overtaking me before I will be 
over the mountain/ 

"Don t get wet, whatever you do," said Micus. 
"It s bad for the rheumatics." 

Peace and 

WHAT about the story you promised 
to tell me last night?" said Micus 
to his friend Padna. 

"Draw your chair closer to the fire, and you ll 
hear it," said Padna, and this is what he told: 

" Johnny Moonlight was so called because of 
his love of nocturnal rambling, and Peep o Day 
won his name because he rose every morning to 
see the sun rising. Johnny and Peep were neigh 
bors, and it was no unusual thing for Johnny to 
meet Peep as he wended his way home while Peep 
wended his way from it. Johnny was the more 
loquacious of the two, and when Peep, who rose 
earlier than was his wont, saw him watching the 
reflection of the moon in the placid waters of 

Glenmoran Bay, he up and ses: 


Peace and War 27 

"What are you doing at all, at all, Johnny?" 

"I am watching the moonbeams glistening on 
the waters," replied Johnny, "and what greater 
pleasure could any man have and all for nothing 

" Tis a glorious and a beautiful sight, surely, 
but the greatest of all pleasures is to see the sun 
rising and to listen to the birds singing in the 
bushes and to hear the cocks crowing and clap 
ping their wings, not to say a word about watch 
ing the flowers opening up and drinking the morn 
ing dew. Tis in the morning that the world 
rejoices, and in the morning we see the work of 
God everywhere, and tis only in the darkness of 
the night that the badness comes upon men. 
Everybody loves the morning, and all the poets 
have written about it." 

"Don t be bothering me about the poets. I d 
rather walk by the light of the moon through the 
glens and the woods, through the winding bo- 
reens when the hawthorn and woodbine are in 
bloom, or by the shore of the bay when the world 
does be sleeping, and have nothing to disturb 

28 Peace and War 

my thoughts, except maybe a rabbit skedaddling 
through the ferns, or a banshee wailing when 
some one gets killed in the wars, than to see 
the sun breaking through the clouds at the grey 
of dawn. 

"There s a lonesomeness and a queerness about 
the beginning of everything, and twas always 
the shaky feeling that came over me when I 
stayed out so late as to be caught by the rising 
sun on the roadside. But every man is entitled 
to his own opinion until he gets married, so we 
won t quarrel, because people who quarrel are 
always sorry for the things they say and the 
things they forget to say." 

"You can t change a man s opinion," said 
Peep, "unless you change himself, and then he d 
be some one else and stick to his own opinion the 
same as any of us." 

"That s true," said Johnny, "and there s 
nothing worse than truth except lies. People 
only tell the truth when they are afraid of telling 
lies and then they must lie about it before any 
one believes them. 

Peace and War 29 

"Truth will make lies all fall to pieces, but 
more lies will patch them together again. So 
tis as good to be such a liar that nobody believes 
you as to be so fond of the truth that no one 
would trust you." 

"Wisha, for goodness sake, do you think that 
I have nothing else to do but getting my 
brains twisted trying to follow your contrary 
reasoning, which only leads a sensible man into 
confusion and bewilderment? What s the use of 
anything if you don t know how to enjoy your 

" Devil the bit, and why people should go to 
the inconvenience of annoying themselves in 
order to please nobody is more than I can 

"If people could understand why they re 
sensible they d become foolish, and if they could 
understand why they re foolish they d become 
sensible. But as the wise and the foolish will 
never know what s the matter with each other, 
there will be always trouble in the world." 

" There will be always trouble while women are 

30 Peace and War 

allowed to have their own way and their hus 
bands money." 

"There s no sentiment in women." 

"None whatever, but they are all able to act 
and play any part that the exigencies of the occa 
sion may require, and that s better than having 
an abundance of sentiment or any other quality 
that hinders one s progress in a world of hypocrisy 
and conventionality." 

" Tis the great flow of words you have, to be 
sure, not to say a word about your common-sense. 
Was it from reading books that you got all your 

"It wasn t, indeed, but from observing the 
ways of all the strange creatures on the face of 
the earth from man to the ants." 

"The world is a queer place. Nothing but war 
of some kind or other while you re alive and peace 
only when you re dead, and then there may be 
no peace either, for all we know." 

" Tis thinking I am that you re right, and if 
you ll listen, I ll tell you what happened as I was 
sauntering about by myself last night." 

Peace and War 31 

"I ll listen, to be sure," said Peep. 

"Well," said Johnny, "as I was walking along 
by the Faery Fort, I heard some one singing, so 
I quickened my pace and came upon two strange 
looking gentlemen who were marching to the 
tune of Home, Sweet Home. And when I ses: 
Good night, they answered back and ses: 
Good night kindly, sir/ ses they. Who may we 
have the pleasure of talking to? To Johnny 
Moonlight, ses I. And who may I be talking 
to? Don t you know us, says they altogether. 
Erra, of course I do, ses I. Who would ye be 
but Oliver Cromwell and the Devil himself? And 
what may ye be doing here? 

"We re on our way home after a trip to 
Europe, ses the Devil, and we d be glad to have 
the pleasure of your company. 

" Your kindness is embarrassing, ses I. 
Indeed I couldn t think of accepting such 

"Well, you can go to Belgium for all I care, 
ses the Devil. But clear out of me sight, any 
way, or I ll hand you over to me friend Oliver. 

32 Peace and War 

So with that they sat down on a ditch and com 
menced talking, and I stole up behind, and this 
is what I heard: 

" I m homesick/ ses Cromwell. 

" So am I/ ses the Devil, and disappointed 
too. Europe is in a bad way, God help us! 

" Indeed it is, and I don t think we ought to 
tell Napoleon anything about what we saw." 

" Twould only spoil his conceit to think that 
the world could be in such a condition and he not 
there to share in the glory/ 

" Tisn t talking about Napoleon I d be, if 
I were you. Sure it s yourself has fallen on evil 
days. You thought that you could have a nice 
quiet holiday for yourself in Europe, but your 
nerves couldn t stand all the horrors of the war, 
so you must needs hurry home to recuperate and 
look after your own people, ses Cromwell. 

" I can stand as much as you at any time/ ses 
the Devil. 

" Well, you must not have read the history of 
Ireland/ ses Cromwell. 

" And if I didn t, do you think I d have you 

Peace and War 33 

for a companion? I m as good a man as you ever 
were/ ses the Devil. 

" You may be as good/ ses Cromwell, but 
I ll acknowledge no superiority from you or any 
one else/ 

" It don t look well for us to be quarreling, 
Oliver/ ses the Devil. 

" That s true. We should always be a source 
of comfort and consolation to each other. And 
we will, too. Indeed, it isn t fair to us to have 
Ireland as she is these times. 

" What s wrong now? ses the Devil. 

" Wisha, nothing in particular/ ses Cromwell. 

" Ireland has always been a great bother to 
myself and England/ ses the Devil. 

" She has never helped us, more s the pity/ 
ses Cromwell. 

" And tis yourself made a great impression on 
the minds of the Irish people/ ses the Devil. 

" Indeed and I did/ ses Cromwell, and on the 
English people too, and sure there s no one better 
known at home than ourselves. 

" Well/ ses the Devil, tis said that a man 

34 Peace and War 

only gets as much as he deserves, except when 
he s married. And no man is a prophet in his 
own country. 

" True! ses Cromwell. The eaten loaf is 
soon forgotten, and the English people would 
forget me if they could. 

"Don t worry, says the Devil. The Irish 
will never allow them to do that. 

" I suppose my memory will be always kept 
green by the Irish, ses Cromwell. 

"Of course, ses the Devil. Of course it will. 
And what greater proof can you have of the in 
consistency of mankind? 

"There s nothing more consistent than man s 
inconsistency, ses Cromwell. 

"Except woman s, of course/ ses the Devil. 
Sure I can t understand the creatures at all. 

"I m glad to hear you say so/ ses Cromwell, 
because if we could understand them, there 
would be no more surprises left for us. 

"You have a wonderful memory, Johnny," 
said Peep, "an I ll be glad to hear the remainder 

Peace and War 35 

of your story when the moon sails over the hills 
again. I ll be off now, for the sun is rising, and 
I must be alone to enjoy myself." 

"God speed you," ses Johnny. "Two is a 
crowd when a man s feeling sleepy." 

The Valley of the 

LARGE dark clouds, lined and fringed 
with a snowy whiteness, were floating 
about in a starry sky, when Padna Dan 
vacated his chair by the glowing hearth, where 
faggots blazed and a kettle sang, and where his 
large black dog and small white cat lay asleep 
and snored in chorus that made a strange har 
mony with the crackling of the dried oak branches 
in the grate. When he reached the half door, the 
moon was hiding behind a rift of cloud; and as 
he watched it emerge from its hiding place and 
sail into a starlit region, he up and said: 

"Sure tis myself that s like the moon, with 
my goings in and my comings out, and with my 

exits and my entrances, and the glory that some- 


The Valley of the Dead 37 

times does be on my brow and the shadows that 
at other times hide my face. Sometimes not a 
single thing hinders my progress, from cock-crow 
to sundown, and other times everything capable 
of disturbing a man s peace and quiet confronts 
me at every turn. But, nevertheless, I manage 
to steer clear of all obstacles and evade all that 
might upset me in any way, and show a smiling 
face to the world, like the moon itself." 

And then he rilled a new clay pipe, that came 
all the way from France, and was presented to 
him by his youngest granddaughter, as a birthday 
gift, and sauntered along the boreen towards the 
Valley of the Dead. And as he wended his lonely 
way, without looking to the right or the left, and 
trampled down the tall grass that the sleeping 
cows, and the sleeping sheep, and the sleeping 
donkeys were dreaming about, the very same 
tall grass that on the morrow they would greedily 
feast on, and as his footfalls startled wander 
ing rabbits, badgers, hares, and foxes, and they 
roaming from place to place at the dead of night, 
he only thought of the world beyond the stars 

38 The Valley of the Dead 

and of those who had gone to dwell there. And 
so eerie an atmosphere did he create about him 
self that he might have been a fairy or an elf 
without care or sorrow for the past or future, but 
a love of the things that be. And not until he 
reached the top of a high hill, from which he 
could see in the moonlight the towering spires of 
distant churches, where a red light is always kept 
burning before the high altars, did he stand and 
rest. And he did not sit down until he found a 
comfortable seat on a projecting ledge of rock, 
overlooking a long winding valley covered with 
larch and beech trees, sloe and crabapple, and 
all kinds of thorny underwood. 

The rising mist, as it spread through the trees 
along the serpentine course of the valley, seemed 
like some fabulous monster devouring all that 
came in its way. And as he sat with his feet 
dangling in the air, the sound of familiar foot 
steps caused him to look from the mist to where 
the sound came from near by. And lo and be 
hold! whom did he see but his old friend Micus. 
And what he said, before Micus had time to 

The Valley of the Dead 39 

say anything at all, or get over his surprise, 

"Well, well, well! Who d ever think of meet 
ing any one at the dead of night like this? And 
the stars themselves nearly hidden by the dark 
clouds, that are drifting about in the spacious 
and likewise wondrous sky." 

"Sure tis disappointed as well as surprised 
that I am, to find any one but myself out of 
doors, and the whole world on its knees, so to 
speak, praying for the dead," said Micus. 

"This is All Souls Night, of course," said 

"Or the Night of All Souls, if you will," said 
Micus. "And sure, tis we that are the queer 
creatures entirely, and we that does be praying 
for the dead and not caring a traneen about the 
living, unless, maybe, when we can take advan 
tage of their decency and generosity." 

" Tis true, indeed, tis true! Though tis 
with shame that I must admit it. However, 
don t leave any one hear you saying so but my 
self," said Padna. 

40 The Valley of the Dead 

"And who would hear me at all?" said Micus. 

"Well, any one of the people who will be 
marching down the road when the fairies will go 
to their homes in the mountains," said Padna. 

"And when will that be?" said Micus. 

"When the clocks will strike the midnight 
hour," said Padna. "Then all the dead will 
arise from their graves, and march along the 
road to the Valley of the Dead, beyond, and 
return from whence they came before to 
morrow s sun will emblazon the east with its 
dazzling light." 

"I m surprised at that," said Micus. 

"You should be surprised at nothing," said 
Padna. "That s if you want to maintain a solid 
equanimity. But hold your tongue for a while, 
and cast your eye along the valley, and watch 
the mist gathering on the furze and sloe trees. 
And in a minute or two, the moon will come from 
behind a cloud, and the most glorious sight that 
ever met the gaze of man will unfold itself before 
you. The mist will soon cover all the trees, and 
you will see nothing at all but one long serpentine 

The Valley of the Dead 41 

trail of vapour, into which all the armies of the 
dead will plunge with a wild fury that will make 
every hair on your head stand on end and nearly 
freeze the very marrow in your bones with cold 

"And what s all the hurry about; why won t 
they take their time?" 

"They can t," said Padna. "From life to death 
is but a step, and we must follow some master 
or be driven by another until the threshold of eter 
nity is crossed." 

"I hear the clock of some distant church strik 
ing the midnight hour." 

"So do I. And I can see the army of the dead 

"The devil a one of me can see anything or 
any one, except a fox scampering through the 
boreen beyond, with a water hen in his mouth," 
said Micus. 

"Look, look," said Padna, as he pointed with 
the stem of his pipe. "There they come: all 
the people who dwelt on this holy island since 
God made the world, and man made mistakes. 

42 The Valley of the Dead 

I can see them all. There s Brian Boru s army, 
with Brian himself out in front, and he holding 
the golden crucifix the same as he carried it to 
battle when he drove the Danes from our 

"I don t see him at all," said Micus. 

"Look, there he is mounted on the black charger 
that trampled and crushed to death the valorous 
invaders who were foolish enough to come in his 
way. Look, how he prances and shakes his mane 
and sniffs the air. He was the King of all the black 
horses, and when he was shot through the heart 
by an arrow, his spirit flew away to the world 
beyond the fleecy clouds, but, as it could never 
rest, it came back to earth again, and now dwells 
in all the black horses of the world. And they, 
each and every one, are pledged to avenge the 
death of Brian and his war steed. So if ever you 
see a black horse on a lonely road or crowded 
street, with a fiery look in his eye, keep out of 
his way unless you love Granuaile, or he will 
trample you with his iron hoofs until you are 

The Valley of the Dead 43 

"I can see neither horses nor men/ persisted 

"They are all passing into the valley now, and 
I can see the soldiers keeping step to the music." 

"What are they playing?" 

"What would they be playing, but Brian 
Boru s march, of course." 

"I haven t heard a sound." 

"Don t you hear the war pipes and the stamp 
of the soldiers feet?" 

"I hear no sound at all." 

" It is most wonderful music. It filled the hearts 
of the Irish soldiers with courage, the like of 
which astonished mankind, and drove terror into 
the hearts of the invaders as they ran to the sea 
and got drowned. It fills me with courage now, 
and will instil valour into every Irish heart until 
the crack of doom. Don t you hear it yet?" 

"No, I hear nothing." 

"It grows fainter and fainter," said Padna. 
"The army is now in the valley but twill return 
when winter gives way to spring, and spring gives 
way to summer, and when summer gives way to 

44 The Valley of the Dead 

autumn, and when All Souls Night will come 

"When the Christmas daisies wither, and 
when the daffodils and the bog lilies and the blue 
bell and the hyacinth bloom again, and when the 
gooseberry and black-currant bushes are laden 
down with fruit, and when the green leaves turn 
to brown and the autumnal breeze scatters them 
on the roadside, we may be dead ourselves," 
said Micus. 

"Hush," said Padna, "here come all the bards 
and minstrels that loved poor Granuaile, and sang 
her praises, on the mountain side, on the scaf 
fold, behind prison bars, at home and in distant 
lands. At morning and at evening, at noon and 
at night, in early youth and at the brink of the 
grave. And sad they all look too," said Padna. 

"The world is a sad place for those who can 
see sorrow," said Micus. "Granuaile herself is 
sad, because for centuries she has lived in sorrow. 
She weeps for her own sons and the sons of all 
nations. She wakes with a smile in the morning, 
but when the dark cloak of night is flung on the 

The Valley of the Dead 45 

world, her eyes are always filled with tears. And 
when nobody does be looking, she weeps, and 
weeps, and weeps!" 

"It is for the sins of men she weeps." 
"And for the contrariness of women." 
"And for the folly of children, whether they be 
grown up with beards upon their chins, or in 
their teens and staying up the nights writing love 
letters for their philandering sweethearts to laugh 
at and show to their worthless friends so that 
they may do likewise." 

"Granuaile is the Queen of Beauty." 
"And of valour, and of purity, and of goodness. 
All her lovers are coming along the road." 
"Is Parnell there?" 

"Of course, he s there. And he with a look of 
melancholy on him that would melt a stone to 

" Twas Granuaile broke his heart." 
"Granuaile would break any one s heart." 
"Poor Parnell hated England." 
"But he loved Ireland! And never forgot her 
wherever he travelled." 

46 The Valley of the Dead 

"The Irish are the great travellers, and it would 
seem indeed that the world itself is too small for 
them. Who else do you see?" 

"I see St. Patrick himself, and all the holy 
bishops, and they looking as respectable, and as 
contented and as prosperous as ever." 

" Twas they that saved us from Paganism." - 

"That s so. But twas religion that kept 
Granuaile poor." 

" Tis as well, maybe. Who d be rich and with 
power enough to cripple Christianity, like others, 
just for the sake of saying that one race or one 
country was better than another?" 

"Man will never get real sense." 

"Not until he loses his pride." 

"And his arrogance and his selfishness." 

"What are you looking at now?" 

"I m not looking at anything in particular, but 
watching to see my great, great, great grandaunt 
Helen of Aughrim." 

"Who was she?" 

"She was the most beautiful of all woman 

The Valley of the Dead 47 

"Maybe she passed by unknowns! to you." 

"She has not passed yet. I could recognise 
her by her queenly gait. They say she was the 
most beautiful woman that ever lived and had 
as may lovers as Granuaile herself." 

"And whom did she marry?" 

"No one at all." 

"And what is her story then?" 

"Listen, and I ll tell you." 

"I ll listen," said Micus. 

"As I have already told you, for beauty and 
elegance there was never the likes of Helen of 
Aughrim, and though every one who laid eyes 
on her fell in love, she never fell in love with any 
one at all." 

"And who did she like best of the lot?" 

"Maurice the Rover. And when he was a 
young man of three sevens, he up and ses to her: 
1 Helen/ ses he, will you marry me? But she 
said she would wed no man, and told him to 
search the whole wide world for some one more 
beautiful. So he sailed away that very hour, and 
for seven years he travelled, and travelled, and 

48 The Valley of the Dead 

travelled, up hill and down dale, but could find 
no one more beautiful. And then he returned 
and told her his story. But all she said when she 
heard it, was: Try again, ses she. And away 
over the seas he sailed again, and searched until 
seven more years had passed away, and he re 
turned again, and he said, Helen ; but she in 
terrupted and ses: I know what you are going 
to say, ses she. But all I can say to you, is 
try again. 

" And so he came and went every seven years, 
only to get the same answer, and the years 
passed, and his hair turned white, and his eyes 
grew dim, and the stateliness of Helen s fig 
ure disappeared, and deep lines were on her 
brow, and once again, he up and ses: Helen, 
ses he, will you marry me? And for the first 
time her eyes filled with tears, and she ses: You 
are a faithful lover, ses she, and I will marry 
you on the morrow. But when he came on the 
morrow, she was dead." 

"Is that a true story?" said Micus. 

"Of course, tis a true story. I can see them 

The Valley of the Dead 49 

now walking along the road arm in arm. And tis 
seven years ago since I saw them before, and 
twill be seven years before I will see them again. 
But they will walk along the road to the Valley 
of the Dead every seven years, until the stars 
fall from the sky and time is no more," said 

"Love is a wonderful thing." 

"A wonderful thing, surely." 

"And a faithful lover is the dearest treasure 
of all." 

"Without love, there is no life, for its roots 
are centered in the heart of God." 

"Without love the world would wither up, and 
every plant and shrub and flower would die. 
And when I die, I hope I will be with my 

"And while I live, I hope that I will be with 

"Friendship is a great thing." 

"Love is greater." 

"What are you waiting here for?" 

"Nothing at all. The last of the great army 

50 The Valley of the Dead 

has passed into the Valley, and I will go home 
and pray for the dead/ said Padna. 

"And I will go home and pray for the living," 
said Micus. 

"Good night," said Padna. 

"Good morning, you mean," said Micus. 

The King of 

I WONDER," said Padna Dan to his 
friend Micus Pat, as they strolled along a 
country road together, "if you ever heard 
the story of the King of Montobewlo." 

"Who the blazes is or was the King of Monto 
bewlo?" said Micus. 

"The King of Montobewlo was such a man as 
you only meet once in a lifetime, and if you will 
only hold your tongue and keep quiet, I will tell 
you all about him," said Padna. 

"I ll hold my tongue, of course," said Micus. 
"Well," said Padna," the King of Shonahulu 
was getting old and cranky, and the poor devil 
suffered badly from frost-bite and rheumatics 

besides; so he up and ses to Hamando, who 


52 The King of Montobewlo 

was his chief cook and private secretary: Ha 
mando, ses he, I think I must have a change in 
my dietary. What have you for dinner to-day? 

" I have nothing in the way of dainties/ ses 
Hamando. The last missionary was boiled with 
the cabbage yesterday. 

" That s too bad, ses the King. There seems 
to be a great scarcity of missionaries in these 
parts lately. I wonder whatsomever can be the 
reason at all. 

" There must be some reason, ses Hamando, 
because there is a reason for everything, even 
for unreasonable things. 

"That s a fact, bedad," ses the King, as he 
killed a mosquito on Hamando s nose with a 
cudgel, and stretched poor Hamando flat on the 

" Wisha, ses Hamando, as he picked himself 
up after the unmerciful clout he got, I suppose 
it must be the way the English people are learn 
ing sense at last and keeping them at home to 
look after the suffragettes, or else that England 
has as much land as she is able to control. 

The King of Montobewlo 53 

" I don t think that can be the reason/ ses 
the King. What does it matter to England 
whether she can control a place or not, so long 
as she owns it. Take Ireland, for instance. 

" Yes, bedad/ ses Hamando. England can 
blunder magnificently when dealing with Irish 
affairs. And her wonderful stupidity has lost 
her not only all the Irish in America, but the Irish 
in other countries as well. However, the English 
are a far-seeing and a very polite class of people, 
and that s why they send out pious and well- 
meaning missionaries to lay the foundation 
stones, so to speak, of the Empire beyond the 

" True, ses the King. And tis an ill wind 
that blows nobody good, as the Devil said when 
the forty tinkers of Ballinderry were lost at sea. 
Nevertheless, there s no one likes the missionaries 
better than ourselves, even though I do say so 

" Very true, indeed/ ses Hamando. 

"By the way/ ses the King, was the last one 
we had for dinner a Scotchman or a Welshman? 

54 The King of Montobewlo 

" I don t know, ses Hamando. He spoke 
like a Yorkshireman, but he tasted like a 

" I m tired of foreigners like the Dutch, ses 
the King, and I wouldn t mind having an Irish 
man for dinner to-day if you could secure one. 

" I don t believe there s an Irishman to 
be had for love, money, or an argument/ ses 

" Nonsense, man/ ses the King. Do you 
think tis in Jupiter or Mars you are? There s 
only one place where you can t find an Irishman, 
and you d find one there too, only the Devil likes 
to have his own way in all matters. But no more 
old palaver, and search my dominions at once, 
and if you can t find an Irishman, I ll make 
vegetarians of each and every one of my loyal 

" I ll do my best to oblige you/ ses Hamando, 
and away he went to the Prince of Massahala, 
who was also Commander-in-Chief of the Army, 
and Secretary for the Colonies, and there and then 
the Prince gathered his army of ten hundred 

The King of Moniobewlo 55 

thousand men, and searched the mountains, and 
the valleys, and the caves and the hills, and the 
towns and the villages, but no trace of an Irish 
man could he find. And when he returned and 
told the story of his exploits and adventures to 
the King, there was never such ructions on land 
or sea. The King, who was never a man of mild 
disposition, nearly exploded from the sheer dint 
of anger, and he up and ses as his eyes bulged out 
of their sockets: Do you mean to tell me that 
there isn t a single Irishman to be had in all my 

( " We ve searched high up and low down, but 
couldn t find a trace of one anywhere/ ses the 

" Was it the way you were all blindfolded? 
ses the King, and he looked as though he was 
about to hand them over to the State Execu 
tioner, and order their skins to be sold for making 
gloves for the ladies of Paris, Ballingeary, 
and the United States. 

" Are there any Jews within the borders of my 
territory? ses he. 

56 The King of Montobewlo 

" There are two Jews for every fool in the com 
munity/ ses the Prince. 

" Well, then, ses the King, there must be 
an Irishman about somewhere. And I m think 
ing there is a leak in your memory, or else your 
education was sorely neglected. You should 
know at this hour of your life, if you know any 
thing at all, that the Irish race was destined by 
Providence to make things easy for mankind in 
general, but the Jews in particular. 

"When the Prince heard this, he told his men 
to get ready for the road, and he marched at the 
head of his army to where the Jews were located, 
and sure enough, there he found the one and only 
Irishman in the whole country, and he brought 
him before the King. And when the King laid 
his optics on him, he up and ses: Holy smoke 
and tailors trimmings/ ses he, where did you 
bring that red head from? 

" Oh/ ses the Irishman, I never even asked 
myself that question, but I dare say I must have 
brought it from Denmark/ 

"From Denmark? ses the King with surprise. 

The King of Montobewlo 57 

" Yes, ses the Irishman; twas my great 
grandfather s great-grandfather s great-grand 
father s father who killed Brian Boru at the 
Battle of Clontarf. 

" Is that a fact? ses the King. 

" Tis a solid fact/ ses Cormac McDermot, 
for that was his name. 

" Well, be the seven pipers of Ballymactho- 
mas, ses the King, that bates Bannagher. The 
man who killed Brian Boru was no slaumeen, 
by all accounts. And I like nothing better, when 
my day s work is done, than to read the exploits 
of Brian, and his compatriots the Knights of the 
Red Branch, for herself and the children. 

" Are you fond of reading? ses Cormac. 

"There s nothing gives me more pleasure, ses 
the King, except teaching my chef to cook a 
Scotchman, and tis as hard to catch as tis to 
cook one. 

" I have heard of a Scotchman who was 
caught one time, ses Cormac. 

" When he was dead, I suppose, ses the King. 

" Yes, ses Cormac. 

58 The King of Montobewlo 

" The time is flying, and a man gets hungry, 
and angry likewise, and there you are gabbing 
away, and myself waiting for dinner for the last 
three hours, and you showing no consideration 
for me at all. What way would you like to be 
cooked? ses the King. You must be killed 
first, of course, though sometimes we does the 
cooking and the killing together, without as 
much as wasting a word about it. Howsomever, 
I am always lenient to the Irish, for I have an 
English strain in my temperament, and that s 
why I am giving you your choice in the matter 
of cooking. 

" Well, bedad, to tell the truth, I m not a bit 
particular about the cooking, but I am a trifle 
concerned about the killing. And before you will 
send me to my grave, I would like your Majesty 
to grant me one request/ ses Cormac. 

" And what s that? ses the King, as he 
looked at his watch, for he was getting hungry 
and impatient. 

" Tis that I will be allowed to sing my swan 
song, so to speak, before I will die. 

The King of Montobewlo 59 

" Sing away to your heart s content/ ses the 
King. And the words were no sooner spoken 
than Cormac commenced to sing The Valley 
Lay Smiling Before Me/ and when he finished 
the last verse, there wasn t a dry handkerchief 
in the multitude that gathered around. 

" Bedad/ ses the King, that was well sung, 
and we ll have "The Bard of Armagh/ now, if 
you please. Twas my poor mother s favourite 

"And when Cormac finished, the King shook 
hands with him and thanked him for his sing 
ing and in the same breath said c good-by 7 
as he was in a hurry to have him cooked for 
supper. Well, there wasn t much of the fool 
about Cormac, so he up and ses to the King: If 
I am causing your Majesty any inconvenience, I 
am sorry, but as one good turn deserves another, 
I think it is only fair to tell you that whoever 
eats even the smallest piece of myself, either raw 
or cooked, will immediately be turned into a 
tombstone like you d see at Monasterboice. 
And after four-and-twenty hours, shamrocks 

60 The King of Montobewlo 

will sprout on them, and then a great wind will 
spring up and scatter the leaves of the shamrock 
all over your territory, and whenever a leaf will 
fall on any of your subjects, they will be instantly 
turned into Irishmen, and then may the Lord 
have mercy on the foreigners/ 

" l Is it the truth you are telling, you foxy 
rascal? ses the King, and he looks very uneasy 

" If you don t believe me, why don t you kill 
me and find out? ses Cormac. I m nearly tired 
of living anyway. 

"The King got the fright of his life when he 
heard what Cormac said, and never another word 
did he utter about the killing or the cooking either, 
but ses he, when he recovered: Give us another 
song, ses he, and then and there Cormac started 
Then You ll Remember Me, and the King 
was so much impressed that he told Hamando to 
fetch some tea, biscuits, and missionary sand 
wiches, for he thought Cormac was looking 
fatigued. And when Cormac ate the biscuits, 
drank the tea, but refused the sandwiches, be- 

The King of Montobewlo 61 

cause it was Friday, he thanked the King for his 
thoughtfulness, and said that he was glad to see 
His Majesty upholding the true Christian prin 
ciples by treating his enemies with such consid 
eration. Any way/ ses he, l tis always good 
policy to be on friendly terms with your enemies, 
or those who are likely to become your enemies. 
But always beware of diplomats/ ses he, because 
diplomacy is only a wolf in sheep s clothing. 

" That s so/ ses the King, as he sharpened a 
pencil and drew a map of his dominions. Now/ 
ses he, I m going to make you a little present/ 
and there and then he cut off three-fourths of 
his country and gave it to Cormac. You can 
plant a hedge of skeeory bushes to divide our 
lands, and I will now make you King of Monto 
bewlo, in presence of Hamando and myself. And 
I ll appoint you General Inspector of Cruelty to 
Animals, Children, and Insects besides. But/ 
ses he, it is absolutely necessary that you should 
become a real black man first, so you might as 
well strip off now, and have yourself washed in 
Injun ink, and you can send your old clothes to 

62 The King of Montobewlo 

the King of Portugal, because he is out of a job 
at present, and it may be a long time before he 
gets one. 

" I ll be only too pleased to send him my old 
clothes, ses Cormac, because tis only right that 
kings should help each other, and have benefit 
societies like the bricklayers, and the market 

"Well, when Cormac was washed in a tub of 
Injun ink, he was the purtiest-looking black man 
that ever was seen. And when his innumerable 
subjects saw his bulging muscles and red head, 
they were so impressed that some of them died 
of shock, but Cormac, like the decent man he 
was, had them all buried with military honours. 
His coronation was the grandest affair that ever 
was, and when the ceremony was all over, the 
King up and ses to him : Cormac, King of Mon 
tobewlo, ses he, how many wives do you want? 
Three hundred or three thousand? 

Ten thousand thanks for your kind offer, 
ses Cormac, but for the good of my nerves, and 
my people in general, I think I ll remain a bache- 

The King of Montobewlo 63 

lor. Of course/ ses he, wives are only women 
anyway, and where there are women there is 
jealousy, and where there s jealousy there is 
trouble. Women/ ses he, are all right to look 
at, but they are best when left alone. It will 
give me all I can do to look after the affairs of 
state, without bothering or trying to find out 
which of my wives might be telling the truth. 
But nevertheless/ ses he, as he took a scissors 
and clipped several slips of his red locks, you can 
distribute these among the ladies as a token of 
my regards and friendship. And now/ ses he, 
to show I harbour no ill feelings, if you want 
any more, I will be only too delighted to give 
what I can spare for planting on any of my sub 
jects with bald heads. 

"And so the days and the years slipped away, 
until he got as fat as a cow in clover from eating 
whales, elephants, and cockroaches. Then great 
wisdom came upon him, and he up and ses to 
the King one day, after they searched the whole 
country for a Jew, and couldn t find one, for they 
all emigrated to the United States to look after 

64 The King of Montobewlo 

the Irish: Economy/ ses he, is one of the fun 
damental principles of good government, and 
that being so, let us put it into practice. We are 
getting old/ ses he, and the missionaries come 
here no longer. And we have eaten all the prod 
uce of the land in the way of live stock, but 
nevertheless our subjects must be provided for. 
Now/ ses he, I propose that all over fifty years 
of age should be killed, boiled or roasted, as the 
case may be, according to law, for the mainte 
nance, sustenance, and nourishment of the others. 
Anybody over fifty years, unless he be a police 
man or a king, isn t much good constitutionally 
or otherwise; and as all our subjects are the prop 
erty of the government, there is no reason why 
we shouldn t do what we like with them. 

" C 0f course, we can do what we please with 
them, and I think you deserve a raise in your 
wages for conceiving such a wonderful idea/ 
ses the King. Not only would we do our people 
a great justice by providing them with the very 
best kind of victuals, but we would save them 
funeral expenses besides. 

The King of Montobewlo 65 

" That s so/ ses Cormac, and any true phi 
losopher must know that tis better that we 
should eat each other than that the worms 
should eat us. Anyway/ ses he, twill be all 
the same in a hundred years, as the Duke of 
Argyle said to the Leprechaun. 

"Well, the new law was duly enforced, and the 
age limit reduced to suit circumstances, and in 
less than ten years there wasn t any one left but 
Cormac and the King." 

"Bedad, that s a strange story/ said Micus. 
"I knew that an Irishman could become any 
thing from a poet to a policeman, but I never 
heard of one becoming a cannibal before." 

"Cormac didn t become a cannibal at all," 
said Padna. 

"And how did he escape?" said Micus. 

"He escaped by becoming a vegetarian the 
very day the law came into force," said Padna. 
"He just wanted to go home to Ireland, and he 
was afraid he d have an uneasy conscience, if 
any of his subjects were left exposed to the dan 
gers of a foreign country, and that was how he 

66 The King of Montobewlo 

secured peace of mind before shaking the dust 
of Montobewlo off his heels." 

"And what happened to the King?" asked 

"As he was seeing Cormac off by the good ship 
Ennisferric that was bound for Cork s fair city, 
he slipped off the gangway, and when they 
went to look for him, they could only find a 
crocodile in the throes of indigestion," said 

The Dilemma of 
Matty the Goat 

GOD bless all here/ said Padna, as 
he pushed open the half-door, and 
saw IMicus sitting by the fireside, 
reading the newspaper. 

"And you too," said Micus, as he turned around 
and beheld his old friend. 

" Tis a cold night," said Padna. 

"A blighting night surely," said Micus. "The 
wind is coming from the southwest, and we will 
have rain before morning." 

"Indeed we will, as sure as there are fools in 
Paris," said Padna. 

"Why don t you come in?" asked Micus. 
"Surely you know your way to the hearth?" 

"If I don t, I ought," said Padna, as he walked 


68 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

in, closed the door, and occupied a vacant chair 
beside Micus. 

"What brought you out to-night, at all?" 
said Micus. 

"Wisha, nothing in particular, except that I 
have a story to tell you/ replied Padna. 

"I m glad to hear that," said Micus, as he 
placed some faggots and turf on the fire. "Draw 
closer and get the benefit of the heat, and you 
will feel better while you are telling the story." 

"Thank you," said Padna, as he moved his 
chair, and then he lit his pipe with one of the 
paper pipe-lights that lay on the mantel shelf. 

"Is it a story of love or adventure that I am 
about to hear?" asked Micus. 

" Tis a story of both," said Padna. 

"Begin then," said Micus. 

"All right," said Padna. And this is what he 

"Once upon a time, and not very long ago 
either, there lived a man, a friend of mine, and 
known to all as one Matty the Goat from Bally- 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 69 

dineen. He wasn t much to look at, God help us! 
but he was a remarkable man, nevertheless. He 
always tried to live in peace and quietness, but 
he had two wives, and " 

"How could he have two wives in an old-fash 
ioned country like this, might I ask?" said Micus. 

"Well," said Padna, "his first wife had a bad 
memory, and she forgot she was married, and one 
fine day she went away to Australia to see the 
kangaroos, and remained away so long that 
Matty thought she was dead, or captured by some 
traveling showman, to be exhibited in a circus, 
because she was so ugly and bad-tempered, no 
one else would think of running away with her. 
So like all men of susceptible and sentimental 
propensities, his affection for his first love only 
lasted until he met the second. Of course, when 
the years passed, and there were no tidings of his 
wife, he said to himself that he might as well 
marry again, and accordingly he did so. Well, 
lo and behold! he was only about twelve months 
married, and his second wife was beginning to 
cut down his rations from three boiled duck eggs 

70 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

every morning to one small hen egg that a wren 
would be ashamed to lay, when a great calamity 
befell him. His first wife came back, and she less 
attractive looking than ever. But to be sure she 
made all the excuses and apologies, as only a 
woman can, for her lapse of memory and thought 
lessness, and there and then she abused poor 
Matty for not writing to her and sending cards 
at Christmas and Easter, and he not knowing 
where to find her at all, no more than a crow 
could find his grandmother. But to make a long 
story as short as a bulldog s temper, poor Matty 
nearly lost his senses between his two wives, and 
one only more unreasonable than the other, and 
the two together less reasonable than any ordi 
nary person, who would have no sense at all. 
So/ ses Matty to himself, what, in the name 
of all that s ridiculous, am I to do now? If I ll 
stay here in the town, I ll be arrested and im 
prisoned for having two wives, but that itself 
would be better than trying to please either one 
or the other, not to mention both. And if I ll 
run away I ll be arrested for deserting them. 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 71 

And if either the law of the land, or my con 
science had no power over me, and I tried to live 
with both, I d be as mad as a March hare in less 
than a month. Anyway, tis a clear case of being 
obliterated by circumstances over which one has 
no control. That s the last consolation a man 
always offers himself when he cannot get out of 
a difficulty. There is but one thing for me to 
do now, and that is to commit suicide by ending 
my life. 

"And when he made that decision he came to 
me and ses: Padna, ses he, I have made up 
my mind to take the shortest cut to the other 

" Wisha, I don t believe a word of it, ses I. 
People who have pluck enough to commit sui 
cide usually have too much pride to boast of it 

" Well, you can t boast or talk of it afterwards/ 
ses he. 

" That s true, too, ses I. But when is the 
event going to come off? 

" I can t say for certain, ses he. But twill 

72 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

be as soon as ever I can make up my mind 
whether New York or Boston would be the best 
place for me to end my days, and maybe tis 
yourself that could give advice, and tell me what 
to do/ 

" Bedad, ses I, giving advice is oftentimes as 
foolish as taking it. However, that s too weighty 
a problem for a poor man like myself. You must 
consult some one with more sense. But if I were 
you, I d see the King of Spain himself about the 
matter. He is the one man who I think can help 

" That s a great idea, ses he. And with that 
he bid me Good day, and on the morrow he 
set sail in a full-rigged ship for the sunny land of 
Spain. And when he reached the Royal Palace, 
and rang the bell, the King himself opened the 
door, and he dressed in a smoking cap, and puffing 
away from a clay pipe that his mother brought 
from Ban try when she was there for the good of 
her manners. And before he asked Matty who 
he was, how he was, or what he wanted, he up 
and ses: Have you a match? ses he. 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 73 

" To be sure I have a match, ses Matty. And 
there and then, he struck a match on the heel of 
his shoe and lit the King s pipe. And when the 
King thanked him for his kindness, and compli 
mented him on his skill, then ses he: Who the 
blazes are you anyway to disturb a decent man 
after a hard day s work? I ate no less than five 
dinners this blessed day and as many more 
breakfasts, not to mention all the tobacco that 
I smoked besides, since I got out of bed this 

" Oh, ses Matty, I am one Matty the Goat. 
My father kept a tailor s shop at the corner of a 
street in Ballydineen; I have two brothers police 
men in the great United States of America; I 
have a first cousin married to a schoolmaster in 
the north of Antrim; five of my ancestors died 
from the whooping cough, and one of my grand- 
aunts fell down-stairs and broke her neck; my 

" Enough! ses the King. Wait there till I 
get my autograph book. And with that he ran 
up-stairs, and when he came back he handed 
Matty a mighty book all bound in green plush 

74 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

and ses: Matty of Ballydineen, ses he, put 
your name down there beside the names of the 
Emperor of Japan and the King of the Killavullen 

And when his name was written, the King 
rang for the Queen and all the children, and in 
a twinkling they appeared, and they dressed as 
well as any of the young ladies you d see selling 
knick-knacks behind a counter in one of the shops 
of the big cities. And as they gathered around 
the King, he up and ses with a solemn voice: 
1 Ladies and gentlemen/ ses he, allow me to have 
the pleasure of presenting to you a member of 
the Ballydineen aristocracy, one Matty the Goat. 
And when the ceremony of introduction was all 
over, he sent them up-stairs to get their auto 
graph books, so that Matty could contribute his 
signature to the long list of celebrities and dis 
tinguished personages. The Queen herself was 
delighted with him entirely, and the King invited 
him to his private room. And when they were 
comfortably seated before a good warm fire, 
he up and ses: What in the name of all the 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 75 

cockroaches in Carrigmacross brought you here, 

"A very serious matter, indeed/ ses Matty. 
I came to look for advice. I am a man with no 
less than two wives, and 

" Don t tell me any more till I give you a drop 
of the best whiskey/ ses the King. And with 
that he filled a glass for Matty and another for 
himself, and ses: * There is only one worse thing 
that could happen a man, and that is to have 
three wives, or half a dozen foolish sisters-in- 

" Well/ ses Matty, I am about to commit sui 
cide, and the devil blast the one of me can make 
up my mind whether Boston or New York would 
be the best place to hang my carcass to a lamp 
post, jump off a high building, or throw myself 
under a motor car going at full speed. 

" Bedad/ ses the King, that s something that 
requires consideration. But let us talk the matter 
ove. 4 . Two heads, like two dollars, are better 
than one, and twas by talking and thinking, and 
holding commune with each other that the Greeks 

76 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

achieved so much in the olden times. We will 
take the case of Boston first. Boston I believe 
is a great place and tis called the Hub of the 
Universe. Isn t it? 

" It is, God help us! ses Matty. 

" I wonder why at all? ses the King. 

" I don t think that any one really knows/ 
ses Matty, unless that it is as good a title as 
any other, and maybe somewhat better/ 

" If that s the case, ses the King, now s 
the chance for some one to make a discovery. 

" A man, I presume/ ses he, could live very 
comfortably in Boston if he had a lot of money. 

" Indeed, he could/ ses Matty, and live there 
without any money, if he was lucky enough to 
be a dethroned monarch of some kind or other, 
or the inventor of a new religion. 

" The invention of new religions/ ses the King, 
doesn t seem to beget a spirit of communism, 
nor does it seem to bring us any nearer Chris 
tianity in its ideal state. All the same, I suppose 
a large city like Boston must have a mayor to 
look after himself and his people. 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 77 

" Of course, Boston has a mayor and an ex- 
mayor too, ses Matty. 

" Bedad/ ses the King, as sure as there are 
bones in a sprat, that must be the reason why 
tis called the Hub. And I dare say/ ses he, 
they must have poets in Boston also. 

" They have/ ses Matty, in the church 

"That s the best place for them/ ses the King. 
They will be more respected and appreciated 
there than anywhere else. Besides, tis wiser, 
cheaper, and more cultured to patronize poets 
and philosophers when they are dead and famous, 
than to run the risk of being ridiculed for having 
the wit to recognise them while they are alive. 
A poet, God help us, seldom does any good for 
himself, but nevertheless he can always be an 
advantage to posterity, his relations, and the 
booksellers, after he is dead long enough to be 
misunderstood/ ses the King. 

" Tis the devil of a thing to be poor/ ses 

" Not at all, man/ ses the King. Poverty, 

78 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

as the Cardinal said to the Hibernians, is a gift 
of God. 

"A gift of God? 

" Yes. 

" Well, then, tisn t much of a gift, ses Matty. 

" No/ ses the King, you wouldn t think of 
comparing it to the gift of stupidity, which is 
the greatest of all gifts, especially when tis 
accompanied by an optimism that nothing could 
disturb but the gift of poverty itself. 

"But be all that as it may/ ses Matty, no 
one should give anything away for nothing with 
out making sure that they are going to get 
something for it. 

"Well, if that wouldn t make an optimist of 
a man, nothing would/ ses the King. 

" What is an optimist? ses Matty. 

" An optimist/ ses the King, is a pessimist 
who has acquired the art of self -deception. 

" And what is a pessimist then? ses Matty. 

"Oh/ ses the King, a pessimist is one who 
has got tired of being an optimist. And now/ 
ses he, maybe you could tell me what is the 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 79 

difference between an Irishman and an Irish- 

" An Irishman/ ses Matty, by reason of the 
fact that he was born in Ireland and the product 
of an older civilization thinks he is a better 
Irishman than the Irish- American; and the Irish- 
American by reason of the fact that he was born 
an American and the product of a younger civili 
zation, thinks he is a better German than an 

" If that is the case/ ses the King, I wouldn t 
advise you to commit suicide in Boston, because 
there are too many Irish-Americans there. And 
by all accounts the devil a bit they know or care 
about the Irish, no more than the English them 
selves. Now let us consider New York. What is 
the difference between New York and Boston, 
I wonder? 

" There are more tall hats and silk neckties 
in New York/ ses Matty. And a native genius 
could go to his grave undiscovered there as easily 
as he could in Boston, while the patrons of art 
and men of letters would be feasting and entertain- 

80 The Dilemma of Malty ihe Goat 

ing foreign celebrities who don t give a traneen 
about them/ 

" Tis a queer world/ ses the King. And sure 
tis a genius you are yourself, and if I were you, 
I wouldn t commit suicide in either place. Per 
sonally, I think Madrid would be as good as any. 
Howsomever, ses he, I will ask my Lord High 
Chancellor and his Court of Learned Men about 
the matter, and if they can t decide between now 
and to-morrow morning, I will have them all 
hanged, drawn, and quartered, and advertise for 
a more efficient staff of attendants. 

" Bedad, you re a gentleman, ses Matty, 
and I m glad to know that you don t show any 
leniency to your subordinates, because the in 
stant you do so, they begin to think they are as 
good, as bad, or even worse than yourself, as 
the case may be. 

111 Treat all those above and beneath you with 
as little consideration as possible, and you will 
always be sure of respact, sees the King. 

There is nothing like being a fool when you 
have to deal with foolish people, and to behave 

The Dilemma of Malty the Goat 81 

sensibly under such circumstances would only 
break a man s hear!. 

" I notice that you an- talking hoarse, ses the 
King. Is it the way that you have a cold? 

" Tis a bad cold I have then/ ses Matty. 
And I m afraid of my life that I may die before 
I will commit suicide. 

" That would never do/ ses the King. And 
then and there he rang for the Queen, and told 
her to bathe Matty s feet in a tub of hot water, 
with plenty of mustard in it. And when the Queen 
had finished drying his Iocs, the King ordered a 
good glass of rum for him and ses: Matty of 
Ballydineen/ ses he, take this little toothful of 
sailor s coffee, and bury yourself under the blan 
kets as quick as you can. 

" Thank you, ever so much/ ses Matty, but 
where am I to sleep? 

"You will sleep with me, of course/ ses the 
King. Twould never do if anything were to 
happen to you at such a critical time in your life. 

"So Matty slept with the King of Spain that 
night, but about two in the morning the King 

82 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

woke Matty with his snoring. Well, that was 
more than Matty could stand, and he lost his 
temper and gave the King a poke in the ribs with 
the heel of his fist, as he ses: What the blazes 
do you mean by depriving a decent man of his 
sleep like this for? ses he. 

" Wisha, was it the way I was snoring again? 
ses the King. 

" Why, I thought the last day had come, 
with the noise you were making with that trum 
pet of a nose of yours/ ses Matty. 

" That s too bad, ses the King. Til keep 
awake for the remainder of the night lest I might 
disturb you again. And then they started talk 
ing about old times and the price of potatoes, 
ladies hats, and fancy petticoats. But suddenly 
the King changed the subject, and ses: Tell 
me/ ses he, are the schoolmasters as ignorant, 
as conceited, and as pompous as ever? 

" Tis only worse they are getting/ ses Matty, 
notwithstanding the cheapness of literature and 
free education. 

"I am sorry to hear that/ ses the King. And 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 83 

so they discussed everything under the sun from 
bird-catching to cock-fighting until morning came. 
And when they were called for breakfast, they 
rushed to the dining-room, and found the Queen 
and all the children seated around the table 
waiting for their bacon and eggs to be fried. 
The King, of course, was duly impressed, and as 
he sat down, and placed the newspaper in front 
of the sugar bowl to get a better view of it, he 
up and ses to the Queen: Good morning, ma am/ 
ses he. What s the good word? 

" The Lord High Chancellor and all his staff 
could not decide whether New York or Boston 
would be the best place for our worthy and dis 
tinguished guest to commit suicide, so they all 
hanged themselves during the night to save you 
the trouble of having it done to-day. 

" Well, ses the King to Matty, isn t it a great 
thing to have men in your employment who can 
show so much respect for yourself and such con 
sideration for your feelings? 

" Tis always a great pleasure, to get others to 
do what you wouldn t do yourself, ses Matty. 

84 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

"Then the King turned to the Queen and ses: 
They were good faithful servants, but like all of 
their kind they thought too little about them 
selves, and too much about those they tried to 
serve. The man who doesn t consider himself 
first in all things deserves to be considered last 
by everybody. Howsomever, they deserved to 
be buried anyway, so give orders to have them 
all cut down and sent home to their own people. 
They have the best right to them, now that they 
are no more use to any one else. But keep their 
old clothes and send them to the Salvation Army. 
Tis better, indeed, that the poor should have 
their overcoats and nightshirts than the moths 
to eat them. 

"Of course/ ses Matty, tis an ill wind that 
blows nobody good, but nevertheless, I am as 
badly off as ever, without one to advise me or 
to tell me what to do. 

" Well/ ses the King, strictly speaking, when 
a man doesn t know what to do himself, the 
devil a much another can do for him. There is 
nothing cheaper than advice, and oftentimes 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 85 

nothing dearer, that is, if you are foolish enough 
to take it from everybody. Looking for advice 
is only a form of diversion with most people, 
because we all do what we please in the end. 
And now, between ourselves, ses he, once a man 
makes up his mind to marry the wrong woman, 
all the advice in the world won t save him. And 
once a man is married, he is no longer his own 
property. I have done my best for you/ ses the 
King, but the world is full of people who can do 
as little as myself. Howsomever, I will give 
you a letter of introduction to my friend the 
President of the United States, as you are on 
your way to America, and he may be able to 
help you/ 

" l Thank you very much/ ses Matty. I have 
already been in America, and I have had as many 
letters of introduction as would paper the house 
for you, but they were no more use to me than they 
were to Columbus. No more use, I might say, 
than a fur-lined coat and a pair of warm gloves 
would be to the Devil himself. But I am none 
the less grateful for your kindness. 

86 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

" I am glad you are able to appreciate kind 
ness, ses the King. Because very few people 
know when they are well treated, or when they 
are well off. 

" That s a fact/ ses Matty. But tis the spirit 
of discontent that keeps the world moving. The 
man who is satisfied with himself usually proves 
unsatisfactory to every one else. 

" But, ses the King, when a man has the gift 
of being able to please himself, what does it 
matter, if he displeases every one else? Tis 
nice, of course, to have a lot of friends, but a 
man s friends very often can cause him more 
annoyance than his enemies, and he must endure 
it to prove his inconsistency. Whereas in the 
case of an enemy, you can always lose your self- 
respect by abusing him when you are displeased 
with his success, and no one will think anything 
the less of you. 

" Tis only by making allowances and excuses 
for each other s short-comings and idiosyncracies 
that we are able to live at all. And if we could 
see the good in the worst of us as easily as we can 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 87 

see the bad in the best of us, we might think less 
of ourselves and more of those we despise. Tis 
only by being better than those who are worse 
than us that we can respect ourselves, I m think 
ing/ ses Matty. 

" Well/ ses the King, what the devil a man 
with as much sense as yourself wants committing 
suicide for is more than I can understand ! 

" Maybe tis as well/ ses Matty. The less 
we know about each other, the happier we can be. 
Nearly every one of us has some disease of the 
mind or body that shortens our natural existence. 
Some suffer from too much conceit, others from a 
shaky heart, or a loose brain caused by a nagging 
wife, or too much hard work and not enough to 
eat, and various other causes, but there is always 
a reason for everything, even the unreasonable 
ness of those who have no reason at all. 

" Old talk like this/ ses the King, leads no 
where, because no matter how much we may 
know about art, literature, and music, the very 
best of us can only be reasonable and sensible 
when we have nothing to upset us. A hungry 

88 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

man is always angry, and an angry man is never 
sensible. On the other hand, a man will make 
a lot of foolish promises and resolutions after a 
good dinner, and when he begins to get hungry 
again he will think that he was a fool for having 
entertained such decent sentiments. 

" In a word/ ses Matty, selfishness is the nor 
mal condition of every one. Some are selfish by 
being decent, and others by being mean, but 
strictly speaking, there is very little difference 
between them, because we all please ourselves, 
no matter what we do/ 

111 1 know we do/ ses the King, and that s 
why we incur the displeasure of others. But as 
we are beginning to get involved and going back 
to where we started like those who discuss, but 
can t understand theology, or like the bird who 
flies away in the morning, only to return to its 
nest at the fall of night, I think we had better 
finish, now that we have ended, so to speak, and 
bid each other good-by. 

" Surely/ ses Matty, tisn t the way that you 
would let me out of doors a cold day like this, 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 89 

without a bit of a topcoat to shelter me from 
the cold and wind, and I with a touch of the 
influenza already? 

" Well, ses the King, I have had enough of 
your company, and when we get tired of those 
who have either entertained, helped, or distracted 
us, we usually find a way of getting rid of them. 
The greatest mistake in life is to be too kind to 
any one. When a woman is getting tired of her 
husband, everything he does to please her only 
causes her annoyance. But nevertheless, if she 
has any sense at all, she can t but respect him 
for wasting his affection on one not worthy of it. 

" But what about the topcoat? ses Matty. 

"< You ll get it, ses the King. What s the 
loss of a topcoat, even though it might be a gift 
itself, compared to getting rid of a troublesome 
companion? Besides, a man who has made up 
his mind to commit suicide must be very careful 
of himself, lest a toothache, a bad attack of neu 
ralgia, or the fluenza might cause him to change 
his mind. Many a man changed his mind for 

90 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

"So with those few words the King presented 
Matty with a new overcoat, and walked with 
him as far as the garden gate at the end of the 
Castle grounds, and then he ses, the same as 
they always say in America, Good-by, and call 
again some time. But he did not say when." 

"That seems to be a polite way of telling a 
person to go to the devil," said Micus. 

Tis," said Padna, "but we might as well be 
polite when we can. And sincerity, unless tis 
accompanied by wisdom and discretion, does 
more harm than good." 

"The world has suffered as much from sincere 
fools as it has from wise scoundrels," said Micus. 
"But what did Matty do when he took his leave 
of the King of Spain?" 

"After that," said Padna, "he set sail for 
Persia, and called upon His Majesty the Gaek- 

"It was the dead of night when he arrived at 
the Royal Palace, and without the least scruple 
he roused His Imperial Majesty from his slum 
bers. And when he put his head out of the win- 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 91 

dow and asked who was there, Matty up and 
ses: Come down-stairs and open the door and 
I ll tell you. 

"So the Gaekwar came down-stairs in his 
nightshirt, and when he opened the door to let 
Matty in, he ses, as he frothed from the mouth 
with the sheer dint of passion: Who, in the name 
of all the conger eels that are sold as salmon, 
are you, to bring a decent man from his bed at 
this hour of the night? 

" I am one Matty the Goat, my father is 
dead, my grandfather was a protestant who 
never got any meat to eat on Fridays, and my 
great-grandfather could jump the height of him 
self before he was three sevens/ 

" To hell with your father, your grandfather, 
and all belonging to you, ses the Gaekwar. I 
can t for the life of me understand why people 
will bother their friends and acquaintances by 
retailing the exploits of their own family every 
time they get a chance. 

" Well, ses Matty, we think more of our own, 
of course, than they do about us, and if we didn t 

92 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

praise them, people might think they were no 
better than ourselves. 

" Most people aren t worth praising or remem 
bering anyway, ses the Gaekwar. But that 
is no reason why you should bring me from my 
warm bed and have me shaking here like an 
aspen leaf, and the very stars themselves shiver 
ing with the cold. 

" Sure, tis myself that s colder than any star, 
and I, that had to be out in a raging storm, with 
wind blowing a hundred miles an hour, and the 
rain falling and flooding the streets, and every 
raindrop would fill your hat. 

" That doesn t interest me in the least, ses 
the Gaekwar. What I want to know is what 
brought you here? 

"I want to know whether twould be better 
to commit suicide in New York or Boston, ses 

" Wisha, ten thousand curses, plus the curse 
of Cromwell on you, for a godson of the Devil, 
for no one else would try to get another to solve 
such a problem, ses he. 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 93 

" Tis the way I must have the Devil for a 
guardian angel, I m thinking/ ses Matty, because 
I am never out of trouble, God help me. 

11 There are many like you, I am glad to say, 
ses the Gaekwar, and we are always pleased to 
find others worse off than ourselves. Tis the 
only compensation we have for being either un 
fortunate or foolish. Howsomever, come in out of 
the cold, and we will talk the matter over. But/ 
ses he, you must excuse the untidy condition of 
the house. The painters and plumbers are work 
ing here, and if you know anything at all, you 
must know what a mess they can make, especially 
the plumbers. 

" Indeed, I do/ ses Matty. But you needn t 
make any apologies. I am a man after your own 
heart and just as humble and maybe as foolish, 
if not more so. 

" Nevertheless, ses the Gaekwar, I don t 
believe twould ever occur to me to call on your 
self either at the dead of night or the middle of 
the broad day. 

"I don t believe it would/ ses Matty. 

94 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

" Howsomever, ses he, make yourself com 
fortable while I ll run up-stairs, and put on my 

" So Matty drew his chair to the fire, and when 
the Gaekwar returned, dressed in his new suit 
and clean collar, Matty ses: How is herself and 
the children? 

" The children are all right, thank God, ses 
the Gaekwar, but I am nearly worried to death 
about herself. 

" And what s the matter with her? ses 

" Oh/ ses the Gaekwar, I don t know. She 
seems to be perfectly happy and contented, and 
no longer loses her temper, or finds fault with 
any body or anything. 

" Bedad, ses Matty, that s a bad and a dan 
gerous sign. Why don t you see a doctor? 

" I ve seen a dozen doctors, but they all say 
there is no name for her complaint. Tis some 
new disease, and there is no mention of it in the 
Bible, the modern novel, or the Cornucopia, ses 
the Gaekwar. 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 95 

" Pharmacopoeia, you mean, I presume/ ses 

" Yes, yes. That s what I mean. You must 
excuse my ignorance/ ses he, because it isn t 
necessary for me to be as enlightened as the 
ordinary poor man who must work for his living. 
All that s expected of one like myself is to be 
able to read the sun-dial, lay a few foundation 
stones once n a while, review the troops, and 
eat a lot of good dinners. And now might I ask 
how is your wife and family, and what made you 
take it into your head to commit suicide? ses 
the Gaekwar. 

" Well/ ses Matty, my trouble is just the re 
verse of yours. You are upset because your wife 
is contented and happy, and I am upset because 
my wives are discontented and unhappy. 

" Your wives! ses the Gaekwar, with sur 

Yes/ ses Matty, I have two wives. 

" Not another word/ ses the Gaekwar, until 
you will have three glasses of the best whiskey. 
Tis a wonder that you are above ground at all. 

96 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

" God knows/ ses Matty, life is a terrible 
thing sometimes. 

" Life/ ses the Gaekwar, is what other people 
make it for us. But even at that we should try 
and be content, more for our own sake than 
anything else. Fretting and worrying never made 
any one look young, and nobody would fret or 
worry at all if they only thought enough and 
worked hard enough. Some, you know, believe 
that we lived before, and that this life is the re 
ward for our virtues in the other world. Indeed, 
some go so far as to say that this may be Heaven, 
while others think it must be 

" If that s so/ ses Matty, I m glad I didn t 
meet some of the bla gards I knew before they 
were born, so to speak. 7 

"I imagine/ ses the Gaekwar, that a man 
with as much sense as you appear to have 
wouldn t buy a house without first seeing it. 

"Of course not/ ses Matty. 

" Then what do you want to commit suicide 
for? That s just like buying a pig in a bag. 
You don t know what you are going to get until 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 97 

after you have made the purchase. Suicide, for 
all we know, may be only going from the frying 
pan into the fire. In a sense, tis like exchanging 
some valuable jewel for a lot of promises. And 
tis my solid belief that none of us know how 
wicked and foolish we are until we will get a peep 
at the Book of Records in the world to come. 
The very thought of that should be enough to 
keep a man alive forever. If there were as many 
worlds as there are stars, or grains of sands, then 
I might be able to understand why a man would 
want to commit suicide, if he was of a roaming 
disposition, and wanted to write a book of his 
travels and adventures. But suppose there is 
only one world, and that world may be this 
world, or there may be just another world, and 
that the next, what then? Anyway, I am sur 
prised at you, an Irishman, not to be able to 
stand the abuse of two wives after all your 
race has suffered both from friends and enemies 
alike for generations. And Ireland s would-be 
friends, in many ways, have been her worst 
enemies. However, be that as it may, I would 

98 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

like to know what you would do if you were 
like the Sultan of Sparonica, and he with more 
wives than you could count in a month of Sun 
days. Tis always well to keep what you have 
until you are sure of getting something better/ 
ses the Gaekwar. 

" But/ ses Matty, suicide is often the fate of 
a brave man. 

" No, Matty/ ses the Gaekwar, tis ever the fate 
of a foolish man. Life at its longest is so short 
that we should all be able to endure it, even when 
our plans do not work out to our satisfaction. 

" But when a man loses interest in everything, 

" No man should lose interest in the beautiful 
things of life. And who indeed will gainsay that 
life at its longest is too short, especially for a 
man with a grievance like yourself? 

" Life is too short to understand women/ 
ses Matty. 

""Tis easy enough to understand them/ ses 
the Gaekwar, but tisn t easy to understand 
why we go to such trouble to please them. 

The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 99 

" I m going to commit suicide rather than try 
to please them any more/ ses Matty, and if I 
could discover whether New York or Boston 
would be the better place to end my life, I d be 
a happy man. 

" You might as well die in either place as to 
jump from the Eiffel Tower, Blarney Castle, 
Shandon Steeple, or try to swim over Niagara 
Falls, ses the Gaekwar. 

""Tis easy to see/ ses Matty, that you can t 
be of any help or consolation to a man like my 
self. You have too much common-sense to pay 
any attention to a barking dog, so to speak. 7 

" I have, indeed/ ses the Gaekwar. You 
need never muzzle a dog that barks. 

" So with that he shook hands with Matty and 
ses : Good-by, God speed you, long life to you, and 
may your next trouble be seven daughters. The 
more trouble we have the less we think about it, 
and a thorn in a man s toe is nothing to a bullet 
in his head. 

"After that Matty went to the Czar of all the 
Russians, and from the Czar to the King of Greece, 

100 The Dilemma of Matty the Goat 

and after he had spent years traveling the world 
looking, in vain, for advice as to whether New 
York or Boston would be the best place to commit 
suicide, he returned home and to his great surprise 
learnt that his two wives had married again." 

"And what happened then?" said Micus. 

"Well, of course, he found he was worse off 
than ever. He could not decide where to commit 
suicide, and his wives, the cause of all his trouble 
and entertainment, would never trouble him 
again. They were too busy troubling some one 
else. And lo and behold! the shock stretched 
him on the flat of his back, and when the doctor 
told him that he had only a month to live, he 
turned his face to the wall and died." 

"He expected to die of old age, like all would- 
be suicides, I dare say," said Micus. 

"Of course he did," said Padna. "He was 
just one of the many people whose trouble is 
their greatest pleasure, and who are never happy 
only when they are annoying others with their 
own affairs." 

Ham and Eggs 

WISHA, in the name of all the nonen 
tities that a man meets at a fancy 
dress ball, or a lawn tennis party," 
said Padna to Micus, as he saw him holding a 
lantern over a pool of water, on a dark night, at 
the crossroads of Carrignamore, "what are you 
doing, at all, at all?" 

"I m looking for the moon that was here in 
the pool, less than an hour ago, and a more 
beautiful moon was never seen in any part of the 
whole world," said Micus. 

"Well," said Padna, "if twas twice as beauti 
ful, and twice as large, and the size of a Chinese 
sunshade inself, you d have no more chance of 
finding it on a dark night like this, than you d 
have pf finding a circus at the North Pole, or 
discovering why women will worry about their 

husbands when they stay out late at night, and 

102 Ham and Eggs 

then abuse the devil out of them when they come 
in, even though they had to stay out through 
no fault of their own." 

"What you say may be true," said Micus, 
"but tis better a man should have an interest 
in astronomy or something else, and go looking 
for the moon in a pool of water at the crossroads, 
than have no interest in anything at all, except 
killing time talking about the wars of the world, 
or the ways of his neighbours. And sure if a 
man couldn t find the moon inself, he might find 
something else while he d be looking for it." 

"Bedad, and that s true enough too! Many a 
man found happiness when he went looking for 
trouble, and many a man found trouble when he 
went looking for happiness, and a man often 
found a friend where he expected to find an 
enemy, and found an enemy where he expected 
to find a friend," said Padna. 

"In a word, we go through life looking for 
what we can t find, and finding what we didn t 
go to look for. Think of poor Columbus, and 
what he found, and he not looking for America, 

Ham and Eggs 103 

at all. Sure, that sort of thing would encourage 
any one to set out on a voyage of adventure, 
even though he mightn t know where he d be 
going to, or what he might be doing," said Micus. 

"Talking about findings and losings, and 
strange happenings in general, I wonder if you 
ever heard tell of the bishop who took off his 
hat to a poor man," said Padna. 

"I did not, then, and I don t believe a word of 
it either," said Micus. 

"Oh, bedad, whether you believe it or no, tis 
a fact, then, nevertheless," said Padna. 

"Well, it must have been a mistake of some 
kind, or maybe an accident. Tis possible, of 
course, that His Lordship took off his hat to leave 
the air to his head when the poor man was passing, 
but I can t imagine that he removed it for any 
other purpose, unless, maybe, a wasp, or a fly 
settled on his bald crown. In that case he would 
take off his hat to scratch his head," said Micus. 

"If you don t believe what I m telling you, 
there s no use going on with the story," said 

104 Ham and Eggs 

" There is not then. But surely," said Micus, 
"you must have something else to relate, and I 
not to lay eyes on you since Monday was a week." 

"I have another story, if you d like to hear it," 
said Padna. 

"Of course, I d like to hear it. What is it all 

" Tis all about a pig and a clucking hen," 
said Padna. 

"Let us take the shortest cut home, and I ll 
listen to the story as we walk along. And tis glad 
I am that I went looking for the moon, this blessed 
night, else I mightn t have found yourself, and I 
dying to have a talk with some one," said Micus. 

"Well," said Padna, as he sauntered leisurely 
along with his friend Micus, who kept swinging 
a lantern, "on my way home from market yes 
terday evening, as the sun was sinking behind the 
hills, I strolled along the road that leads to Five 
Mile Bridge, and I felt so tired after the journey 
from Cork to Ballinabearna that I was compelled 
to say to myself: Padna, ses I, why the devil 

Ham and Eggs 105 

don t you be sensible once in a while, and take 
a rest for yourself when you feel tired? What s 
the use in wearing yourself out, and causing your 
self unnecessary pain and torture, when in a 
few short years you will be as dead as decency, 
or disinterested kindness, which is no less than 
one and the same thing. And once you are dead, 
you are dead for ever and ever, and no one will 
bother their heads about you, or care whether 
you lived or not, or just existed, by trying to 
please every one but yourself. The man who 
tries to please everybody, ses I to myself, won t 
live half as long as one of the aristocracy, who 
don t care where the money comes from so long 
as he has it to spend. And when all that was 
said, I then up and ses: Padna, ses I, that s 
good sound advice, and don t forget what I have 
told you. And then and there I made one jump 
and landed on top of a ditch, and as I looked 
over my shoulder into the field behind, what did 
I see but a pig and a clucking hen, and they ex 
changing salutations. And then they began to 
talk and this is what I heard: 

106 Ham and Eggs 

" Good evening/ ses the pig. 

Good evening kindly and good luck. How 
are you feeling to-day? ses the hen. 

" Just about the same as ever/ ses the pig. 
Sure, tis a sad world for us all! 

" Tis, God help us! ses the hen. But 
don t start me crying again, this sorrowful day, 
for tis myself who has shed a bucketful of tears, 
since my poor grandmother was choked this 

"I wouldn t be crying about that, if I were 
you/ ses the pig. Sure, tis as good to be choked 
as to have your head cut off with a rusty knife. 

" Tisn t about that in particular that I have 
fumed and worried, and wept so copiously/ ses 
the hen. 

" And about what then? ses the pig. 

" About everything in general. The ingrati 
tude of man, the presumption and assumption of 
women, and the consumption of ham and eggs/ 
ses the hen. 

" Ah, wisha, God knows/ ses the pig, you 
couldn t waste your tears over a more worthy 

Ham and Eggs 107 

and likewise unworthy object. And like the 
pessimist that I am, myself, tis but little respect 
that I have for man or woman either. Only for 
the fact that I have still some pride left, and 
wouldn t like to disgrace my own family, I d 
end my miserable existence by committing sui 
cide, and drown myself in the horse pond. 

" If you were to do the likes of that, you would 
sin against tradition, and only be sold as sausages. 
Whereas, if you were to die a natural death by 
strangulation, amputation of the head, or bisec 
tion of the windpipe, you would be sent to the 
best butcher s shop in the town, and the different 
parts of your anatomy would be sold at the very 
highest rates, the same as all your family, rela 
tions and ancestors, ses the hen. 

" Don t mention my family or my ancestors 
to me. They were all snobs, each and every one 
of them, father, mother, sisters, and brothers. 
Twas little respect they ever had for myself, 
and always said that I was only fit to be used for 
sausages, anyway. As though, indeed, I didn t 
come of as good a stock as the best of them. 

108 Ham and Eggs 

" loften heard that you came of very respect 
able people/ ses the hen. 

" Respectable isn t the name for them belong 
ing to me. There were gentry, and no less, in 
our family. 

" Is that so? ses the hen. 

" Yes, indeed, it is, ses the pig. Twas a 
piece of my great-great-great-great-grandfather s 
great-grandfather that gave Napoleon indigestion 
before Waterloo. And that s how he lost the day 
by giving wrong orders to his generals, ses the 


And twas from eating a bad egg, ses the hen, 
that King George got the hiccoughs, and fell from 
his horse while reviewing his troops in France. 
And that s how he won the Victoria Cross and 
got a rise of two and tuppence a week in his 
wages. Howsomever, be that as it may, tis a 
pension yourself should have from the German 
and English Governments, instead of earning your 
living by eating yourself to death, so to speak. An 
aristocrat of your social standing should be living 
on some one else s money, and your time should 

Ham and Eggs 109 

be divided between sleeping and eating, like all 
the other members of the fraternity. 

" Oh/ ses the pig, my associates and equals 
wouldn t think of recognising me, unless I was 
fully dressed for dinner at some fashionable hotel 
or restaurant. 

111 Fully dressed! ses the hen. With bread 
crumbs on your hind quarters, you mean? 

" Yes/ ses the pig. 

" Well/ ses the hen, I come of good stock my 
self. The members of my family always supplied 
eggs to the King of Spain, the Mayor of Boston, 
and the Royalty of England and America. 

" Wisha/ ses the pig, what are a few eggs, 
even when they are fresh inself, compared to a 
fine ham, two pork chops, a soft crubeen, or a 
flitch of bacon, boiled down with plenty of cab 
bage, and set before a battalion of hungry police 
men on a cold winter s day? 

"Oh/ ses the hen, no one would think of 
eating bacon and cabbage all the time, while 
eggs are always in season. But tisn t quarreling 
about such a trifle that we should be, when we 

110 Ham and Eggs 

have no great grievance against ourselves, but 
against mankind in general. 

" The inconsistency of mankind is disgusting, 
to say the very least of it/ ses the pig. Every 
one from the king to the beggar has a bad word 
to say for the pig. We stand for all that s con 
temptible, loathsome and vile, and yet the most 
delicate and refined people will always call for 
ham and eggs, in the morning, in preference to 
anything else. And if one of those genteel young 
men who might have had my poor grandmother s 
liver for supper, was to meet myself on the road, 
and he with a young lady by his side, and she as 
fond of ham and eggs as himself, neither of them 
would bid me the time of day, or ask how I might 
be, or say as much as go to Belgium, or anything 
at all, but make disparaging remarks about my 

" And think of myself, ses the hen. f l that 
have laid more eggs than you could count in a 
lifetime, and I have reared five large families, 
besides. And the day I can t lay any more, 
I ll be killed by some caubogue of a churn boy, 

Ham and Eggs 111 

and sold to some landlady who boards tramps, 
navvies, and all kinds of traveling tinkers. I 
wouldn t mind inself if I went to nourish and 
sustain some decent people, who could appre 
ciate the tender parts of my constitution. Or if 
I could be like my poor father, who was killed 
with a new razor, stuffed with bread and cur 
rants, roasted on a spit, and exhibited in a shop 
window before Christmas/ 

" Ah! we live in a thoughtless and heartless 
world! ses the pig. 

" I know it, ses the hen. Only about one in 
every ten thousand has either the power or the 
privilege of thinking for themselves. 

" Everything seems to go by contrary. Take 
the decent people, the Jews, for instance. They 
have no respect for the members of my family, 
but they are consistent. They wouldn t write 
their name, or my epitaph, on my back with a 
hot poker, and make fun of my table manners, 
and then go home and have pork for dinner and 
say twas worth walking to America for, ses the 

112 Ham and Eggs 

" Nevertheless/ ses the hen, when I think of 
what yourself and myself does for mankind, and 
the poor return we get, I feel proud to know 
that we can be of service to those who don t and 
can t appreciate us. 

" Yes, indeed, and so do I, ses the pig. What 
would life be to most people without their ham and 
eggs every morning, and the newspaper thrown 
in. And a cigar never tastes sweeter than after 
a good feed of spare ribs and yellow turnips. 

" Or even sausages, ses the hen. 

" I object to sausages and salt meat in gen 
eral, because it makes people cranky and dis 
putatious, ses the pig. 

" Of course, ses the hen, there s no doubt 
but we do a lot of good, though we have been 
neglected. And it makes my heart bleed, when I 
think of the stupidity of man and his perverted 
sense of honour. After all those years of preach 
ing and reform, no poet has ever written an ode 
to a hen or a pig, and all the poets liked their 
ham and eggs. There was Shakespeare himself, 
people thought he forgot nothing, or what he 

Ham and Eggs 113 

forgot wasn t worth remembering, but where s 
the mention of either hens or pigs in all his highly 
respected works? 7 

" Tis no wonder there is war in the world to 
day/ ses the pig. 

" Indeed it is not, when married men will 
spend all their money on finery for their wives, 
so that they can look better than they really are, 
and elope with other women s husbands. Sure, 
only for the motherly instinct that s in myself, I 
would leave my family of ducklings and die by 
my own hand, but I don t want one of them to be 
neglected and feel the pangs of adversity, like 
yourself and myself, ses the hen. 

" Tis instinct rather than reason that guides 
most people. If we were always to act reason 
ably, people would think we had no sense, at all. 
However, there s a compensation in all things, 
and we can enjoy ourselves in our own old way. 
And while it is a great consolation to know that 
we can do a lot of good, it is a greater consolation 
still to know that we can do a lot of harm as well/ 
ses the pig. 

114 Ham and Eggs 

" Like myself, you share the same sentiments 
as all good and pious people. The satisfaction of 
doing harm is the only enjoyment some of us 
receive for doing good, when our kindness is not 
appreciated/ ses the hen. 

" When I think of all those who suffer from 
dyspepsia after eating my friends and relations, I 
ses to myself: " Well, things could be worse even 
for such as my humble self. You mightn t have 
the satisfaction of knowing that there was such 
a thing as indigestion. 7 And when I think of 
what people must pay for pork chops, in a res 
taurant after the theatre at night, and how they 
must suffer from cramps, pains in the stomach, 
and a bursting headache next morning, well then 
I feel as happy as a wife when she is abusing her 
fool of a husband for giving her too much of her 
own way/ ses the pig. 

" And when I consider the little nourishment 
there is in cold storage eggs, and the price the 
poor lodgers must pay their landladies for them, 
I feel like dancing a jig on a milestone. And 
whenever I hear of some one eating a bad egg, 

Ham and Eggs 115 

disguised by frying it hard in margarine, and 
seasoning it with salt and pepper, I takes a holi 
day for myself. Ptomaine poisoning is as good 
as cramps, or pains in the head, at any time, 
ses the hen. 

" Of course, when we are really hungry, we 
don t care what we eat. I have eaten pieces of 
my relatives and friends dozen of times, when 
they were mixed with my food, but to tell the 
truth it never gave me any trouble. And in many 
respects I am no better and no worse than those 
who don t care how they make their living, so 
long as they have what they want, ses the pig. 

"And then two farmers came on the scene, and 
one ses to the other, as he pointed to the pig 
with a stick: How much do you want for the 
beast? ses he. 

" As much as he will fetch/ ses the owner. 

" One would think twas a work of art you 
were trying to dispose of, ses the man with the 
stick. I ll give you the market price and not a 
ha penny more. 

"Very well, ses the owner, I m satisfied. 

116 Ham and Eggs 

" And what do you want for that old hen? 
ses the man with the stick. 

" Oh/ ses the owner, she is no more use to 
me, and for that reason I must charge you ten or 
a hundred times her legitimate value. She is 
an antique. You can have her for ten shillings, 
and be under a compliment to me for my decency, 

" I ll owe you the money/ ses the man with 
the stick, so that you won t forget your gener 
osity. And with that they walked away, and I 
jumped off the ditch and turned home," said 

" Tis a queer world," said Padna. 
"A queer world, surely!" said Micus. 

The White Horse of 

COME in, come in, and make yourself 
at home; for the flowers of spring 
couldn t be more heartily welcome," 
said Micus Pat to his friend Padna Dan, as he 
held the latch of his cottage door. And when 
Padna crossed the threshold, Micus turned from 
his place by the hearth and said: " Close the 
door, take off your topcoat, and pull the blinds, 
while I will heap logs and faggots on the fire, for 
tis five feet of snow there may be on the ground 
before morning, I m thinking. And who knows 
but the house itself may be covered up, and we 
may not be able to move from where we are for 
days and days, or a week inself." 
"True for you/ said Padna. "We never know 

what good luck or bad luck the morrow may 


118 The White Horse of Banba 

have for any of us. Howsomever, tisn t grum 
bling we should be about anything, but take things 
as they come. The storm rages furiously with 
out, and to-night, for all the wisest of us can tell, 
may be the very last night of the world. The end 
must come some time, and when the sun rises on 
the morrow, this earth of ours, with all its beauty 
and all its mystery, and all its splendour, may be 
reduced to particles of dust, that will find its 
way into the eyes of those who dwell on other 
spheres. If the gale continues, the world will be 
swirled from its course, and twill surely strike 
some weighty satellite of the sun or moon with a 
mighty crash, and that will be the end of all joy 
and sorrow. Then the king will be no more than 
the beggar, and the beggar will be as much as 
the king." 

"I will place the kettle on the hob," said Micus, 
"for tis true courage we will want to put into 
our hearts with a good drop of poteen this blessed 
night. And a drop of poteen is a wonderful 
thing to drive away the melancholy thoughts 
that haunt and bother so many of us. We can 

The White Horse of Banba 119 

fill glass after glass of steaming punch, until 
the jar in the cupboard is empty. For what is 
life to some but so many glasses of poteen, the 
best whiskey or brandy, or wine all the ways from 
France itself, and so many meals of food, a few 
good books to read, and maybe a congenial 
friend or two." 

"Life is a rugged and a lonely road, but flowers 
always grow on the wayside," said Padna. 

"And when you try to pluck a flower, tis a 
thorn you will find in your hand, maybe," said 

"That is so, indeed. But let us forget the pit 
falls that await us at every turn, and while the 
wind blows let us fill our pipes and fill our glasses, 
and sing a merry song if we should feel like doing 
so, for there is no use looking for the Devil to 
bid him good-morrow until we will meet him. 
And the best thing to do when he appears in 
person, or in disguise, is to pass him by the same 
as if he was no relation of yours at all," said 

And then Micus heaped dried faggots and 

120 The White Horse of Banba 

logs on the glowing hearth, and as they crackled 
and blazed, red sparks flew up the chimney, and 
the shutters of the windows, and the latch of the 
door, and the loose tiles on the ridge, and the 
loose slates on the gable, shook and rattled, and 
trees were uprooted, and slates were blown from 
the roofs of houses and so was the golden thatch, 
and havoc was wrought in the city, the town, and 
the hamlet, on the mountain side, in the valley, 
and by the seashore. And as Micus and Padna 
settled themselves comfortably in two armchairs, 
the white dog and the black cat drew closer to 
their feet, while a thrush in his large white cage 
made of twigs, and a linnet in his small green 
cage made of wires and beechwood, closed their 
eyes and buried their heads beneath their wings. 
Flash after flash of lightning lit up the dark 
ened countryside, and each peal of thunder was 
louder than its predecessor, and at times one 
thought that the whole artillery of hell with the 
Devil in command had opened fire, and that the 
fury of the elements would send all to perdition. 
But Padna and Micus looked on unperturbed at 

The White Horse of Banba 121 

the crackling faggots. And as the first glass of 
warm punch was raised on high, Micus up and 
said: "Here s good luck to us all, the generous as 
well as the covetous, for tis little any of us 
know why we are what we are, or why we do the 
things we do, and don t want to do. And as we 
can t always be decent, we might at least be 
charitable when we can." 

"But alas! alas! we seldom think before we 
act, and usually act without thinking, and that s 
why there are so many strange doings and hap 
penings," said Padna. "Be all that as it may, 
neglect not your duty as my host to-night, and 
take charge of the decanter, and keep my glass 
well filled with punch, and my pipe well filled 
with tobacco, and I will tell you a story that 
may set your heart beating against your ribs, 
and your knees knocking together, and your 
hands may shake till the tumbler will fall from 
your fingers, and your teeth may rattle until the 
pipe will fall from your mouth." 

"Tell it to me, for I m filled with curiosity to 
hear a strange tale. And maybe tis a story 

122 The White Horse of Banba 

about some beautiful woman, or the Aurora 
Borealis, or some monster of the deep/ said 

"It isn t either one or the other, but the story 
of a horse," said Padna. * 

"A horse, is it?" 

"Aye, the White Horse of Banba," said Padna. 

"And how came you to hear it?" said Micus. 

"It was an old man of dignified bearing, tall 
and stately he was, with a long flowing beard, 
clear grey-blue eyes, nicely chiseled features, 
keen wit, and a soft easy tongue, who told me the 

"And where did you meet him?" said Micus. 

"On the high road overlooking the Glen of the 
Leprechauns, on a starlit night before the moon 
came up," said Padna. 

"On with the story," said Micus. 

"Well," said Padna, as he lit his pipe, " three 
weeks ago, come Tuesday, I was strolling along 
the road for myself by the Bridge of the Seven 
Witches, thinking of nothing but the future of 

The White Horse of Banba 123 

the children, when I heard strange footsteps 
behind me, and on looking over my shoulder, I 
espied a man I had never seen before. And as 
our eyes met, he up and ses: Good night, 
stranger/ ses he. Good night kindly, ses I. 

" Tis a fine night/ ses he. 

" A glorious night, thank God/ ses I. 

" Indeed it is that," ses he. And a night to 
be appreciated and enjoyed by ghosts, fairies, 
goblins and hobgoblins, gnomes and elves, owls 
and barroway-bats, and all the strange creatures 
of the earth, that does be scared to venture out 
in the broad daylight, as well as man himself. 

" There s no doubt whatever about what you 
say/ ses I. And a fine night for any one who 
likes to walk to the top of a mountain to see the 
moon rising, the stars twinkling, or for those 
who like to hear the soft wind blowing through 
the tall rushes in the bogs, and making music, 
the like of which would inspire a poet to write 
verses and have them printed in a book, for 
women to read and talk about, and hold disputa 
tious arguments on modern poetry/ ses I. 

124 The White Horse of Banba 

"And so we walked and talked until we came 
to the great Cliff of Banba, that overlooks the 
ocean on the southwest coast. And as we sat 
down to rest our weary limbs, he looked from the 
sky to a high pinnacle of rock, and ses : A beau 
tiful sight is the Cliff of Banba when viewed from 
the ocean beyond, in a small boat, a sloop, or a 
four-masted ship. But the most beautiful of all 
sights is to see the White Horse of Banba himself. 

" I never heard tell of him/ ses I. 

" Why, you must be a queer man, not to have 
heard tell of the White Horse of Banba. Now/ 
ses he, as he crossed his legs, and put his hand 
under his jaw, fill your pipe/ ses he, and smoke, 
and smoke, and smoke until you will drive cold 
fear from your heart. For the story I am going 
to tell you this blessed night may turn every hair 
on your head as white as the drifting snow, 
and every tooth in your head may chatter, and 
rattle and fall out on the ground. 

" Oh/ ses I, twould take more than the mere 
telling of a story, no matter how long or how 
short, or a hundred stories about the living or 

The White Horse of Banba 125 

the dead to scare or frighten or disturb me in 
any way, and I a married man for more years 
than you could count on your own ringers and 
toes, and herself as stubborn and as contrary as 
the first day she made up her mind to marry me. 
So tis thinking I am that I will be neither white, 
nor grey, nor sallow, nor toothless, nor bald 
maybe, after I have heard the story of the White 
Horse of Banba; or the Black Horse of Carrig- 
more, and he that took Shauneen the Cobbler 
away on his back on a dark and windy night and 
drowned him in the Lough at Cork, because he 
was cursed by the widow Maloney for spoiling 
the heel of her shoe. 

" God forgive her for putting a curse on any 
poor man/ ses he. 

" Amen, ses I. 

" Well, ses he, if you think that you will be 
neither white, nor grey, nor one way nor another 
but the way you are at this present moment, I 
wouldn t be boasting, if I were you, until the 
story is told. Because once it strikes your ears, 
you can never keep it out of your mind, whether 

126 The White Horse of Banba 

you be sailing over the seas in a full-rigged 
clipper, or walking the lonely roads at home, or 
in foreign parts. Twill be with you when you 
wake up in the morning, and when you are going 
to bed at night, and even when you are asleep 
and dreaming inself. 

"It tis such a wonderful and astonishing story 
as all that, why don t you write it down, and have 
it printed in a book? ses I. 

" Some of the best stories were never written/ 
ses he. And some of the wisest sayings are for 
gotten and the foolish ones remembered. But 
once the story of the White Horse of Banba is 
told, twill keep ringing in your ears till the 
dawn of your doom. 

" Really? ses I. 

" Yes, ses he. Tis the White Horse of Banba 
who comes in the dark of the night to carry us 
all from the Prison of Life to the Land of the 
Mighty Dead. And twas he stole the woman of 
my heart from me. 

" Well, ses I, maybe tis better that he 
should have stolen her than some worthless bla - 

The White Horse of Banba 127 

guard who couldn t appreciate and treat her 
decently. There are more married than keep 
good house/ ses I. 

" That s true, but tis no comfort for a man 
to see the woman he loves the wife of another, 
unless she might have the devil of a temper, and 
no taste for anything but gallivanting through 
the streets, ses he. And only for the White 
Horse of Banba, I might be the father of a fine 
large family, who would be able to earn enough 
to keep me idle in my old age. Then I wouldn t 
have to be worrying and fretting, when I am 
walking behind a plough or a harrow, on a warm 
day, or searching the boreens, the long winding 
lanes, or the dusty roads, looking for a lost sheep 
or a wandering cow, and watering the green grass 
that grows under my feet with the sweat that 
does be falling from my brow. Not, indeed, that 
I couldn t have more wives than I d want. But 
tis too respectable a man I am to ever fall in 
love with more than one woman. And that s 
something that very few can boast of, whether 
they be single or married, inself. 

128 The White Horse of Banba 

" And who told you about the White Horse 
of Banba? ses I. 

" I have seen him with my own two eyes, 
ses he. 

" Where? ses I. 

" In this very spot. And I have seen him in 
every nook and corner of the land from the 
Giants Causeway to the Old Head of Kinsale, and 
as many times as you forgot to keep your promises 
too, and he with the golden shoes and hoofs of 
ivory, and a long mane that reaches down to the 
ground and a neck more beautiful than a swan, 
and eyes that sparkle like glow-worms when 
night is as dark as pitch. 

" And he will carry us all to the Land of the 
Mighty Dead? 

" Yes, he will carry each and every one of us 
to the great country beyond the grave. 

" Tis strange indeed, ses I, that you should 
see the White Horse of Banba so often. 

" Some are more favoured than others, ses 
he. But if you will wait until the lights in the 
city grow dim, and when the lights in the sky 

The White Horse of Banba 129 

sparkle and glimmer, and when the birds fall 
asleep on their perches, and the dogs begin to 
snore in their kennels, and all the tired people 
are stretched in their beds, then if you are lucky 
you may see him passing by here, and he flying 
through the night, the way you d see a pigeon 
racing home, or a meteor shooting through 

" And is it all alone that he does be? ses I. 

" No. There is always some one on his back, 
and the banshee follows at his heels, wailing and 
moaning the way you d be scared out of your 

" But some people have no wits/ ses I. 

" That s so. But we all dread something. It 
may be the sea, fire, loneliness, the past, the 
present, the future, hereafter, a wife with an 
angel s face and the tongue of the Devil, a rat 
maybe, or a shadow itself. There s a weak spot 
in the strongest, and a strong spot in the weak 
est, even though it might be stubbornness. But 
there s nothing to make a man more scared than 
the cry of the banshee that follows the White 

130 The White Horse of Banba 

Horse of Banba as he gallops along the dreary 
roads, where the ghosts themselves would be 
afraid to venture. And he always has some one 
on his back, holding on to his wavy mane, lest 
they might fall and be dashed to pieces on the 
cobbled roadway. Sometimes it does be an old 
man full of days with toothless gums and white 
hair that you d see, and other times some comely 
maiden, with the virtue of purity and innocence 
stamped on her brow, and she more beautiful 
than Helen of Troy or the Queen of Sheba. 
And oftentimes it does be a little child with rosy 
cheeks and golden curls, or maybe an infant who 
just opened its eyes to get one peep at the world, 
and then closed them forever. It may be a 
young giant of a man that you d see, or an old 
woman, wrinkled and feeble. And as he skelters 
by, the very trees themselves bow their heads, 
the corncrakes in the meadows and the toads 
in the marshes keep still, and you would hear no 
sound at all, except the clattering of hoofs on 
the stony roads and the wailing of the banshee. 
Tis along this very road that the White Horse 

The White Horse of Banba 131 

comes at the close of night and the birth of morn^ 
and he races with the speed of the lightning flash, 
until he comes to the top of the cliff beyond, 
where he stands for a little while, sniffs the air 
and shakes his mane, turns his head and gives a 
knowing look at whoever does be on his back. 
Then a weird whinnying cry is heard, and he 
plunges into the sea, and he swims and swims 
through the surf and billows until he reaches the 
edge of the moon that does be rising out of the 
waters at the horizon. As quick as thought he 
shakes the water from his mane, stamps and 
prances and jumps from the top of the moon to 
the nearest star, and from star to star until he 
arrives at the Golden Gate of the Land of No 

Then he walks through a beautiful avenue, 
sheltered by tall green trees and made fragrant 
with sweet blooms, until he is met by St. Peter 
and St. Patrick on the steps of a marble palace. 
And the stranger on his back dismounts and 
accompanies the Holy Apostles into the Sanctum 
Sanctorum where a record of our good and bad 

132 The White Horse of Banba 

deeds is kept. And when the record book is found 
and the stranger s fate discovered, St. Peter 
looks at St. Patrick, and St. Patrick looks at St. 
Peter, but no words at all are spoken. Then the 
stranger is hurried away by an attendant with a 
flaming sword in his hand. 

" And where does the angel with the flaming 
sword carry the poor stranger? ses I. 

" Nobody knows, ses he. And the pity of it 
all is that very few care. It was the White Horse 
of Banba took my father away and my grand 
father, and his father and grandfather, and his 
father before him again, and some night when 
we may least expect it he will take ourselves, 
and gallop along like the wind over the highways 
and byways, through the meadows and marshes, 
underneath bridges, and over the cobbled tracts 
on the mountain side. And a terrifying sight it 
is to see him as he thunders past. He spares no 
one at all, and takes those we love and those we 
hate. He stole the woman of my heart from 
me, and made me the lonely man that I am 
to-night. 7 

The White Horse of Banba 133 

" But isn t it a foolish thing for you to remain 
a bachelor, and the world full of beautiful women 
waiting to be loved by some one? ses I. 

"A man only loves once/ ses he, and when the 
woman of your heart is dead who would want to 
be living at all? 

" And now that the woman of your heart is 
dead, why don t you try and forget her when 
you may never see her again? 

" Of course I will see her again. Life is but the 
shadow of eternity, and before to-morrow s sun 
will flood the East with dazzling light, I will see 
the woman of my heart. 

" Where will you see her? 7 ses I. 

" In a land farther away than the farthest 

"And who will carry you there? ses I. 

"The White Horse of Banba, ses he. 

" But he may not pass this way to-night/ 
ses I. 

" As sure as you will make some mistake 
to-morrow he will pass this way to-night/ 
ses he. 

134 The White Horse of Banba 

" How do you know? ses I. 

" We know lots of things that we have never 
been told, ses he. And you will be wiser to 
morrow than you are to-day. The hands of the 
clock are now together at the midnight hour, and 
I can hear the clattering of hoofs in the distance. 

" Maybe the White Horse of Banba is coming, 
ses I. 

" He is, ses he, and there is no one on his back 
this time, for he is looking for me. 

"And as true as I m telling you, a fiery steed 
rushed over the hill, and the stranger jumped on 
his back, and ses, Good-by, ses he, till we meet 
again in the Valley of the Dead on the Judgment 

"And then the White Horse of Banba scam 
pered along the rugged pathway with the wailing 
banshee at his heels, until the top of the cliff 
was reached, and before I could realize what had 
happened, he plunged into the dark waters," said 

"I hope it will be many a long day before either 

The White Horse of Banba 135 

of us will be taken to the world next door," said 

"I hope so too," said Padna. 

"I wonder is the decanter empty," said Micus. 

"Not yet," said Padna. 


COME in and sit down by the fire, and 
don t stand shivering there at the 
door," said Padna Dan to his neigh 
bor, Micus Pat. "One would think you were 
afraid to be natural." 

"I m only afraid of myself and my own fool 
ishness," answered Micus. "So I ll go in and sit 
down. On a cold night, there s nothing like a 
good fire, a pipe of tobacco, a cheerful compan 
ion, and a faithful dog to lie at your feet. Tis 
better than being married a hundred times. Mar 
riage should be the last thought in any sensible 
man s head." 

"Married men," said Padna, "are very tire 
some people. They are ever either boasting 
about their wives and children or else abusing 
them. And married women are always worse 

than their husbands. A woman becomes a tyrant 


Rebellions 137 

when she knows her husband is afraid of her, and 
a good wife when she is afraid of him, and when 
both are afraid of each other the children are 
afraid of neither. And children that aren t afraid 
of their parents get married young and always 
to the wrong people. But as people who want to 
get married will get married, then let them get 
married and enjoy themselves if they like trouble. 
I ve been trying to keep out of trouble all my 
lifetime, and no one has ever failed so success 
fully/ said Micus. 

"There s only one way to keep out of trouble," 
said Padna. 

"And what way is that?" 

"Well, by either drowning, hanging, or poi 
soning yourself." 

"I d rather fall from an aeroplane, or die a 
respectable death and have my name in the 
papers, than do anything so common as drowning 
or hanging myself, if I was trying to escape 
from marrying a widow." 

"Wisha, when all is said and done, the longest 
life is so short that tis only a fool, or maybe a very 

138 Rebellions 

wise man, that would make it any shorter. When 
we fall out of the cradle, we almost fall into the 
grave, so to speak, and unless we are either very 
bad or very good, we re forgotten before the grass 
commences to sprout above us." 

"A graveyard is a great place surely, for grass 
to grow and flowers to bloom, and for ghosts to 
take the fresh air for themselves, but the last 
place to go for a rest." 

"And the only place for a poor man. Because 
there s no rest in life, except for the very stupid 
people and the philosophers." 

"And what s the difference between a stupid 
man and a philosopher?" 

"The stupid man is naturally easy in his mind 
because of his wonderful gift from providence, 
and the philosopher pretends that you are a wise 
man, when you know that you are only one of the 
many poor fools sent astray in this world, without 
the least notion where your wandering footsteps 
may lead you to, or your preaching lead others." 

"And isn t it philosophy that keeps the world 

Rebellions 139 

"No, tis not philosophy, but pride, and pride 
that pulls it asunder, and pride that makes hell 
and heaven. Pride is the net that the Devil goes 
fishing with." 

"The world must be full of fools then, because 
I can t understand myself or any one else, and 
I never met any one who could understand 

. "If a man could understand himself, he d die 
of wisdom, and if he could understand his friend, 
he d become his enemy." 

"And what would happen if a man could under 
stand his enemy?" 

"Well, then, he d be so wise that he d never 
get married." 

"We ll try and forget the women for a while, 
and talk a little about the other wonders of the 
world. There s nothing more extraordinary than 
the patience of married men. The world is full 
of wonders, police, clergy, and public houses. 
But what I do be wondering most about at the 
close of day is, how did all the stars get into the 

140 Rebellions 

"Well, well, to be sure! There s ignorance for 
you! Didn t you ever hear tell of the night of 
the big wind?" 

"Of course, I did." 

"That was the night the earth was blown about 
in the heavens the way you d see a piece of paper 
in the month of March. She was carried from one 
place to another, until, lo and behold! she struck 
the moon a wallop and shattered her highest 
mountains into smithereens, and all the pieces 
that fell into the sky were turned into the stars 
you see floating about on frosty nights." 

"And did she strike the sun at all in her 

"How could the earth strike the sun, you 

"It should be as easy to strike the sun as the 
moon, but how she could strike either is more 
than any one will ever be able to understand, I m 
thinking. " 

"Ton my word, but you re the most ignorant 
man one could meet in a year of Saturdays. 
Don t you know that the sun is a round hole in 

Rebellions 141 

the floor of Heaven through which all the fairies 
and politicians fell the night of the rebellion? " 

"And was there a rebellion in Heaven?" 

"Wisha, what kind of a man are you not to 
know all these things? Sure, there s rebellions 

"What kind of a rebellion do you refer to?" 

"Well, there are only two kinds, though there s 
no difference between them." 

"And what are they?" 

"Rebellions with a reason and rebellions with 
out a reason." 

"And why should there be rebellions at all?" 

"Well, because when people get tired of being 
good they become bad, and when they get tired 
of being bad they become good." 

"I hope I ll never be in a rebellion," said Micus. 

"Rebellions are the salt of life," said Padna. 
"Only for the rebellion in Heaven, we wouldn t 
be here to-day enjoying ourselves at the expense 
of our neighbors. Don t you know that we are 
to take the place of the fallen angels and that we 
must win the respect of St. Peter and St. Patrick 

142 Rebellions 

by our courageous behavior? I m never happy 
only when I m in the thick of battle, and the only 
music that charms me is the thunderous cannon 
ading of the enemy. That s the time that I have 
the courage of a lion, the grace and power of an 
elephant, and the fire of hell withal in my eye, 
ready to conquer or die for my convictions. The 
man who can t feel and act like a hero should 
What noise is that?" 

"Only your wife scolding some one outside the 
door," answered Micus. 

" Tis her voice, surely. Then be off with 
yourself by the back door, for tis ten by the 
clock, and mind the dog in the haggard while 
I ll put out the light and go to bed," said Padna. 

Kings and Commoners 

WELL/ said Padna, as he rested his 
elbows on the parapet of Blackrock 
Castle, and watched the river Lee 
winding its way towards the ocean, "when I 
look upon a scene so charming as this, with its 
matchless beauty, I feel that I am not myself at 
all, but some mediaeval king or other, surveying 
my dominions, and waiting for the sound of the 
hunter s horn to wake me from my revery. If 
at the present moment, an army of chivalrous 
archers, with white plumes in their green hats 
and bows and arrows slung on their shoulders 
and Robin Hood himself at their head, were to 
march from out the woods at Glountawn, I 
wouldn t utter the least note of surprise or ex 
clamation. No, Micus, not a single word would 
I say, even though they might lay a herd of 

slaughtered deer at my feet, and pin a falcon s 

144 Kings and Commoners 

wing on my breast; so much do I feel a part of 
the good old days when there was no duty on to 
bacco and whiskey." 

"Sometimes," said Micus, "I too feel that I 
own the whole countryside, and in a sense I do. 
Because I can get as much pleasure from looking 
at it, and admiring all its dazzling splendour, as 
if I had the trouble of keeping it in order and pay 
ing rates and taxes. And after all, what does any 
of us want but the world to look at, enough to 
eat and drink, and a little diversion when we feel 
like it?" . * 

"A man with imagination and insight," said 
Padna, "need never want for entertainment, 
because he can always appreciate and enjoy the 
folly of others, without having to pay for it. But 
be that as it may, tis more satisfying still to have 
a love of nature and all that s beautiful, and a 
healthy distaste for all that s coarse and ugly." 

"The world is made up of all kinds of people, 
who want to enjoy themselves in some way or 
other," said Micus, "and the spirit of destruction 
is the Devil s contribution to human happiness. 

Kings and Commoners 145 

Why, man alive, you could drown the whole 
German Army, and the Kaiser and all his hench 
men, in the depths of beautiful Lough Mahon 
that stretches before us, and the French wouldn t 
feel the least sorry. And you could drown the 
whole French Army and General Joffre, and the 
Germans wouldn t feel sorry. And you could 
drown Sir Blunderbluff Carson, and John Red 
mond wouldn t feel sorry, and you could drown 
the Russian, French, English and German armies, 
and the socialists wouldn t be sorry, and you 
could drown all the socialists and the Salvation 
Army, and the Devil wouldn t be sorry." 

"All the same," said Padna, " twould be a 
pity to wound the dignity of the Kaiser by drown 
ing him in a comparatively small and shallow 
place like Lough Mahon when he could be drowned 
just as comfortably and easily in the middle of 
the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, or the Darda 
nelles, for that matter. And as for all the trouble 
twould give the Russians, you could tie him by 
the heels to a clothesline in your back yard, the 
way they tied the tails of the Kilkenny cats, and 

146 Kings and Commoners 

dip his head in a bucket of goat s milk mixed 
with gunpowder, and let him drown that way." 

" There s 1 good and bad in the worst of us," 
said Micus, "and I am sure the Allies would be 
sorry to have him drowned at all, when he could 
be given, for his own private use and benefit, a 
superabundance of everlasting peace tokens, such 
as they give the poor devils in the trenches." 

"Free samples of poisonous gas, you mean, I 
presume," said Padna. 

"Yes," said Micus. "However, tisn t for the 
likes of us to be discussing the ways of mighty 
monarchs when we are only poor men ourselves." 

"Hard work," said Padna, " never killed the 

"No," said Micus, "nor decency either, and 
if they were to eat twice as much, twouldn t 
make them any better." 

"When you come to think about it," said 
Padna, " tis the hell of a thing why a man 
should have to work for himself, or have to work 
at all." 

"Indeed it is, and I always lose my temper 

Kings and Commoners 147 

when I think of the poor men and women, too, 
who must get up when it is only time to be going 
to bed, and work until they fall on the floor from 
sheer exhaustion and no one to care or bother 
about them. Sure, there must be something 
wrong, if that sort of thing is right, and the 
gentry should be ashamed of themselves for 
making such conditions possible and they doing 
nothing but spending money that they never 
earned, and making laws for the poor." 

"Tis disgusting," said Micus, "to think that 
we should have to work for any one, even though 
they might be the Prince of Wales, or the Duke 
of the North Pole himself." 

"I can t see for the life of me," said Padna, 
"why we couldn t make our living as easy as the 
birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the insects of 
the field, or the policemen. Sure, when you come 
to think of it, a king is no more than any other 
man, only for all the fuss that does be made 
about him. And I don t see why one man should 
be thought better than another when he isn t. 
Only for the fine clothes that some of us wear, 

148 Kings and Commoners 

no one would take the least notice of us, and if 
you were to put a dead king and a dead duke, 
and yourself and myself beside each other, 
Micus, on the top of the Galtee Mountains, and 
exposed our carcasses to the rains and the snow, 
not to mention the southwesterly gales, for three 
months, when the experts would come along to 
identify us, tis the way they would think that 
you were the duke and I was the king, and the 
duke was no one but yourself, and who could the 
king be but myself." 

"And maybe tis the way that they would 
think that you were only the duke, and that 
myself was the king/ said Padna. 

"Tis true, of course, that a king is no more 
than one of ourselves when he is dead, but there 
is no doubt about him being a good deal more 
when he is alive. Nevertheless, it would be a 
proud thing for the Padna Dan family to have 
one of their kinsmen buried with the pomp and 
ceremony of a mighty monarch, and they never 
to produce anything more than birdcatchers and 
bowl players. Yes, Padna, twould be a great 

Kings and Commoners 149 

thing entirely, and ye that always lived in a house 
that you could put your hand down the chimney 
and open the front door, if you forgot your latch 
key. The mistake would never be discovered till 
the Judgment Day, and then you d rise from your 
grave, glorious and triumphant with a crown of 
shiny jewels on your head, and a royal sceptre in 
your hand, and a robe of state that would cover 
you all over, and you looking as happy and con 
tented as though you were used to wearing over 
coats all your lifetime." 

"And what about yourself, Micus," said 
Padna, "and you with a red cap on your head, 
like the dukes wear on state occasions, and a snow 
ball in one hand and a bear s claw in the other, 
the way the people would think you were the 
Duke of the North Pole and not yourself at 
all? " 

"All the same," said Micus, "I d rather be 
a duke at any time than have to work for a 

" So would I," said Padna. "And in that sense, 
we only echo the true sentiments of every demo- 

150 Kings and Commoners 

crat. Yet, when I was a young man, I never 
bothered my head about royalty, but I was as 
full of wild fancies as a balloon is of wind. And 
there wasn t one from the Old Head of Kinsale to 
the Giants Causeway more headstrong and intol 
erant than myself. 7 

"I believe every word of that," said Micus. 

"Like other temperamental and idealistic 
people, I naturally felt very disappointed and 
likewise disgusted with the existing order of 
things, and there and then I ses to myself: Padna 
Dan, ses I, the world is in a wretched condition 
and badly wants a great reformer. So with that 
I appointed myself mediator between good and 
evil, and indeed, at first I thought it would be 
possible to form some kind of compromise between 
those two giant forces that have kept the world 
in awe ever since Adam was a boy. But sub 
sequently I decided that the best and only 
thing to do would be to rid the world of evil 

"And how could that be done at all?" said 

Kings and Commoners 151 

"Well, as I was filled with the enthusiasm and 
ignorance of youth, I tried to make up my mind 
whether I would follow in the footsteps of Sav 
onarola, St. Francis, or St. Patrick himself, but 
when I thought of what happened to Savonarola, 
and after all these years we don t know whether 
St. Patrick was a Scotchman or an Irishman, but 
principally when I took into consideration my 
own strong sense of personal comfort, and my 
insignificance withal, when compared to greater 
men who have suffered so much and accomplished 
so little, I finally decided to leave the regeneration 
of mankind to the suffragettes or some one else." 

"You re a philosopher," said Micus, "but I m 
afraid that you will accomplish no more for 
humanity with your old talk, than a patent med 
icine advertisement or the police themselves. 
Sure, every young man with a spark of decency 
in him must have felt as generous as yourself 
at some time or other in his life. If we could all 
reform ourselves before trying to reform others, 
then there would be some hope for mankind, but 
generous impulses such as yours, Padna Dan, 

152 Kings and Commoners 

are only produced by the assimilation of black 
coffee or strong tea, or else an innate conceit. 
When the Lord made the world, he must have 
known the kind of people he was going to put 
there. Hence, Padna, the superabundance of 
people like yourself to be met with everywhere." 

"Well," said Padna, " whether we mean what 
we say or not, we must keep talking. Sure, tis 
talk that keeps the world going, and if we are not 
dead in a hundred years, we will be very neaj it, 
so it behooves us one and all to enjoy ourselves 
while we are here, lest it may be unwise to post 
pone our pleasure until we arrive in the other 

"This world," said Micus, "in a sense, is good 
enough for me, and I wouldn t object to living on 
here for ever, if I could, instead of taking a 
chance with what s to follow." 

"Life is a game of ups and downs, and love very 
often is an accident. If we did not meet our wives, 
we never would have married them, of course. 
And if our wives did not meet us, they might have 
met some one better. And happy indeed is the 

Kings and Commoners 153 

man who marries the woman he loves before she 
marries some one else." 

"Tis sad to think," said Padna, "that when 
we get sensible enough to appreciate our own 
folly, the beauties of nature, and the idiosyn- 
cracies of our friends and enemies, we find our 
selves on the brink of the grave. Yet, we might 
all be worse off and treated no better than the 
poor prisoners of Sarduanna." 

"We are all prisoners, in a sense, from the very 
minute we are born, and we may be prisoners 
after we are dead too, for all any of us know," 
said Micus. 

"That may be," said Padna, "but nevertheless, 
some of us know how to treat ourselves better 
than the authorities treat the prisoners of Sardu 

"And how are they treated at all? Is it the 
way they get too much to eat and not enough 
of work, or too much work and not enough to 

" Tisn t so much one as the other, but some 
thing worse than either. They get nothing to 

154 Kings and Commoners 

eat but pickled pork from one end of the year 
to the other," said Padna. 

"And what do they get to quench their thirst?" 
said Micus. 

"Salt fish," said Padna. 

The Folly of Being 

WHAT are you doing there?" said 
Padna Dan to Micus Pat, as he 
watched him sifting sand between 
his fingers as he stood on the shore of Bantry 

"I m doing what nobody ever thought of doing 
before and what no one may ever think of doing 
again/ said Micus. "I m counting the pebbles 
of Bantry Bay from Dunboy to Glengarriffe. 
And that s more than Napoleon thought of 

"And why should you be doing the likes of 
that?" said Padna. 

"Well," said Micus, "when they re all counted, 
I ll know more than before and be as famous as 

the King of Spain himself." 


156 The Folly of Being Foolish 

"You might as well be trying to count all the 
blades of grass from Dunkirk to Belgrade, but 
you d be dead and forgotten long before you d 
have as much as the ten thousandth part of half 
of them counted," said Padna. 

"What do you know about counting pebbles or 
the red skeeories that does be on the white thorn- 
bushes in the month of August?" said Micus. 

"As much as any sensible man wants to know," 
said Padna. "If you want to be really foolish, 
you ought to leave the pebbles alone, and start 
counting all the grains of sand in the world." 

"I ll count the pebbles first," said Micus. 

" Tis only vanity that makes a man do what 
every one else is too sensible to do," said Padna. 
"But tis better to be foolish itself and get married 
than to be so vain that you don t know you re 

"And why should I get married?" said Micus. 

"Well," said Padna, "a man s wife is always a 
great comfort to him when he wants to get fed, 
when he s sick in bed and requires nursing, or 
when he s too well off and suffers from discontent. 

The Folly of Being Foolish 157 

Besides, tis a great thing to have a wife to quarrel 
with when you re afraid of quarreling with any 
one else." 

"And why should I quarrel with my wife with 
out reason if I had one?" 

" Abuse, you know, is the great safety valve 
that keeps the world from exploding, and if you 
won t abuse your wife, she ll abuse you," said 
Padna, "and isn t it better to be first than last 
in anything?" 

"I don t think so," said Micus. "I d rather 
be the last than the first man to meet a widow 
looking for a husband." 

"And why?" said Padna. 

"There s no escape from widows," said Micus, 
"whatever accidents might happen with inex 
perienced young women." 

"There s something in what you say," said 
Padna. "Perseverance, pugnacity, and stupidity 
are necessary for success if you aren t cursed with 
intelligence and good breeding. And you can get 
any young woman without money to marry you 
against her will, but if you re wise enough you 

158 The Folly of Being Foolish 

won t. I need not tell you that lovers are only 
sensible when they commence wondering at the 
foolishness of their own children." 

"A man thinking about getting married should 
have two women to choose from." 

"And why, might I ask?" 

"Well, because if he lost one he could have the 
other, and if he lost both he would know what it 
is to be lucky. Marriage, you know, always makes 
one master and two slaves." 

" Tis too bad that there should be any slaves." 

"It is, but while men will marry for love, and 
women for money, we cannot expect a change in 
our social conditions." 

"There will be no change in the world while 
men suffering from indigestion will marry cooks." 

"That s a wise thing for a sensible man to do. 
A cranky and delicate man should marry a nurse, 
a man always out of employment should marry a 
dressmaker, and a man fond of quietness and read 
ing should live with a married sister, if she has 
no children." 

"Wisha, after all s said and done, there s 

The Folly of Being Foolish 159 

nothing worse nor better than being a bachelor, 
as the case may be. Tis better to be a bachelor, 
I m thinking, for you may go to your grave with 
out being disillusioned. But when a man s dead, 
it doesn t matter whether he was married or not, 
or shot by an ivory-handled revolver or died from 

"A man suffering from rheumatics should be 
mindful of the westerly gales, and the frosts of 
winter, and keep from eating salty beef and 
tomatoes. I think a rheumaticky man should 
get married, but should not marry a woman with 
a tendency to gout. And tis always well to 
marry an orphan because there s nothing worse 
than mothers-in-law, except sisters-in-law, and 
they re the devil entirely." 

"To change the subject," said Micus, "I don t 
think it is fair to catch lobsters at night. No one 
wants to be disturbed in their sleep." 

"If you look at things like that," said Padna, 
"you ll never be happy, and though it isn t easy 
to please myself, I think tis a grand thing entirely 
that all caterpillars are vegetarians." 

160 The Folly of Being Foolish 

"I don t think we should waste time talking 
about caterpillars. They never do anything but 
eat cabbage and cause gardeners to use bad 
language. Of course, the history of a buffalo or a 
butterfly is a wonderful thing, but if elephants 
were to grow wings we wouldn t take any 
notice of canaries, bees, or water hens," said 

"I d give a lot of money to see a flock of ele 
phants flying over the Rock of Cashel," said 

"That would be a great thing for the news 
papers and the moving pictures, though perhaps a 
dangerous thing for people of a nervous disposi 
tion," said Micus. 

"And twould be the devil of a thing entirely 
if they forgot to fly." 

"Nervousness is a curse or a blessing, according 
to the individual, of course. The evil that some 
men do lives after them, and the good does be 
interred with their bones." 

"That s true, but when men do neither good nor 
harm they might as well keep out of politics 

The Folly of Being Foolish 161 

altogether. No man is as wise or as foolish as 
he thinks he is, and if you were to capture all the 
stray thoughts that does be floating about in 
your head and put them down in writing, you d 
be the greatest curiosity that ever was." 

"When a man loses a button/ said Micus, 
"he should immediately sew it on for himself, 
if he couldn t get any one to do it for him." 

"Selfishness is the basis of success," said Padna. 

"To give away what you don t want is wisdom 
without generosity, and to keep what is of no use 
to you is the worst kind of folly." 

"Fighting is a natural instinct, and to fight for 
what s yours, be it honor or property, is a noble 
thing, but to fight for what doesn t belong to you 
is both dangerous and foolish." 

" That s so indeed. I saw two crows fighting for 
a crust of bread that a child dropped in the street, 
and they didn t cease until both had their eyes 
picked out." 

"And who got the crust?" 

"A sparrow who came along while they were 
fighting, and devoured it." 

162 The Folly of Being Foolish 

"Then the crows without knowing it became 

"Well, tis better to make mistakes if some one 
benefits by them than to make no mistakes at 
all. I think I ll go on counting the pebbles and 
leave you to find a philosophy for yourself," said 

"Well," said Padna, "when a man can content 
himself by being foolish, tis only a fool that 
would be a philosopher." 

The Lady of the 

TIS a strange thing/ said Padna to 
Micus, as he sat on a boulder in his 
back garden, carving a dog s head on 
the handle of a blackthorn walking stick, "that 
notwithstanding all the millions of people in the 
world, no two are alike, and stranger still that no 
two leaves of a tree, or blades of grass, are alike 
either. And while in a sense we are always doing 
something for others, tis ourselves we do be 
thinking about most of the time." 

"True, very true! And as they say across 
the water: Every man for himself, and the dollar 
for us all. Or as the Devil said when he joined 
the police force: There s no one like our own, " 
said Micus. 

"Life is full of surprises, and the world is full 

164 The Lady of the Moon 

of strange people," said Padna. "And tis a good 
job that we are like the leaves of the trees, and 
the blades of grass, so alike and yet so different. 
If we all had the same tastes, we might have no 
taste at all, so to speak." 

"Speaking of strange people," said Micus, "I 
wonder if you ever heard tell of one Malachi 
Riordan who used to sit in his back yard, every 
fine night, watching the reflection of the moon in 
a bucket of water, hoping to find the evening 
star with the aid of his wife s spectacles." 

"I did not then," said Padna. "But I met 
just as strange a man, and he sitting on his hat 
on the banks of the Fairy Lake of Lisnavarna, 
watching the moon s reflection in the clear waters, 
and the devil a one of him knew that he was con 
trary at all." 

"Sure if a man was contrary, he wouldn t 
know it, and if he was told he was contrary, he 
wouldn t believe it, but think that every one was 
contrary but himself," said Micus. "And I 
believe the Lake at Lisnavarna has a fatal fascina 
tion for people who are as sensible as ourselves. 

The Lady of the Moon 165 

Twas there that Matty Morrissey, the great 
fiddler of Arnaliska, and the holy Bishop of Clon- 
morna met their doom." 

"How?" saidPadna. 

"They were driving in an open carriage along 
the lonely roads at the dead of night/ said Micus, 
"and no finer carriage was ever seen, with its 
two wheels behind and its two wheels before, and 
a special seat for the driver, and cushions fit for a 
duke to sit on, and the Arms of the Four Provinces 
painted on the doors, and " 

"Where were they driving to?" said Padna. 

"They were driving at breakneck speed to the 
little thatched chapel on the Hill of Meath, with 
its marble altar, red- tiled floor, painted Stations 
of the Cross, and beautiful silver candlesticks, for 
the Bishop was in the devil of a hurry to marry 
Queen Maeve to the Crown Prince of Spain, and 
Matty Morrissey was to play the music for the 
dancers after the wedding. But, lo and behold! 
as the carriage rattled along the dark, winding 
roads, the holy Bishop, Matty, and the driver 
fell fast asleep, and the horse fell asleep also, 

166 The Lady of the Moon 

but he was a somnambulist and kept galloping 
away the same as if he was wide-awake, and when 
he came to the lake, he plunged into its silent 
waters, carrying with him the occupants of the 
carriage, and they all sank to its icy depths the 
same as if they were made of lead, and they were 
never heard of from that fatal hour to this blessed 

"And why didn t some one try to recover their 
bodies and give them a public funeral and Chris 
tian burial?" said Padna. 

"What would be the use? Sure there is no 
bottom at all to the Lake of Lisnavarna. And you 
might as well be looking for a Christmas box from 
the Devil himself as to be looking for any one who 
gets drowned there," said Micus. 

"That s a sad story," said Padna. "But tis 
better to be drowned inself than roasted to death 
in a forest fire, or worse still, talked to death by 
your mother-in-law or some of your friends." 

"Talk is a deadly instrument of torture," said 

" Tis indeed," said Padna, "and sometimes 

The Lady of the Moon 167 

as bad as silence, but tell me how the disaster 
affected Queen Maeve and the Crown Prince." 

"Poor Queen Maeve wept so much that she 
lost her beauty, and the Crown Prince married 
a farmer s daughter who had a dowry of three 
stockingsful of sovereigns, thirty-three acres of 
loamy soil, three cows, and three clucking hens," 
said Micus. 

" Tis a sad world for some," said Padna. 
"And tis my belief that the best as well as the 
worst of us don t give a traneen about women 
once they lose their beauty." 

"That s my belief also," said Micus. "Yet 
only for women there would be no love, and love 
is the greatest thing in all the world. It is an 
echo of Heaven s glory, so to speak, and when 
denied us we don t live at all. Without love we 
are nothing more nor less than dead men, stalking 
about from place to place, clutching on to this 
thing and that thing with the hope that we will 
be compensated for what we have missed. For 
what, might I ask, is a dog or a cat or a heap of 
money itself to a man or woman, when the dark 

168 The Lady of the Moon 

nights come and the frost and snow does be on 
the ground, and the wind blows down the chim 
ney? And even though we might have plenty 
faggots for the fire and plenty food in the cup 
board, and more than we want for ourselves, 
what good is it all, unless we have some one to 
share it with us? Tis by sharing with others 
that we bring ourselves nearer to God. And He 
has given the earth and all it contains to the good 
and bad alike!" 

"And tis by sharing with ourselves and being 
decent to ourselves on all occasions that we 
acquire wisdom," said Padna. 

"Be that as it may, now let me hear about the 
stranger you met at the Fairy Lake," said Micus. 

"Well," said Padna, "as I approached him I 
up and ses: Good night, stranger, ses I. 

" Good night kindly, ses he. 

""Tis a fine night, thank God, ses I. 

""Tis a glorious night, ses he. But why do 
you come here to interrupt me, and I enjoying 
myself without any expense to you? 

" Oh, ses I, if you didn t interrupt some 

The Lady of the Moon 169 

people they would never cease doing foolish 
things, and if you didn t interrupt others they 
would never make any progress. And if we never 
asked questions we might be as ignorant as the 
schoolmasters themselves. Tis only by study 
ing others that we can find out how wise or 
foolish we are ourselves/ 

a< That may be, but curiosity is the cause of 
all trouble, ses he. 

" Curiosity is a sign of intelligence/ ses I. 
Because only for it we mightn t try and find out 
what others were doing, and they might steal a 
march on ourselves, so to speak, by taking ad 
vantage of our indifference/ 

Howsomever, ses he, what is it to you what 
I am doing? If we were only half as interested in 
our own affairs, as we are in those of others, 
twould be a good job for us all. Then we 
might achieve some success, but while we will 
keep bothering ourselves about others and keep 
bothering others about ourselves, we can t ex 
pect either ourselves or any one else to be happy/ 
ses he. 

170 The Lady of the Moon 

" Well, bedad/ ses I, there s something, if 
not a good deal, in what you say; still and all, if 
we weren t a source of annoyance to our neigh 
bours, and if our neighbours weren t a source of 
annoyance to us, we might all die of inanition, 
and the whole globe might become nothing more 
or less than a beautiful garden, for the wild ani 
mals of the jungle, the birds of the air, and var 
mints like rats, mice, and cockroaches/ ses I. 

" Why, my good sir/ ses he, if you could 
have all your questions answered, you would be 
come too wise, and then you would get so dis 
gusted with yourself and every one else that you 
might take it into your head to jump from the 
top of some high cliff into a raging sea and end 
your life in that way. 

"If I was going to commit suicide, at all/ ses 
I, "tis the way I d pay some one to put poison 
in my ear while I would be asleep, and die like 
the King of Denmark himself. 

" Your conceit is refreshing! Not alone would 
you have your name in the paper for being a sui 
cide, but for aiding and abetting in your own 

The Lady of the Moon 171 

murder as well. Twould be a clear case of dy 
ing by another s hand at your own instigation. 
But now to your query. You asked me what 
I was looking at in the lake. 

"I believe I did/ ses I. 

"Well/ ses he, I was looking at the lady in 
the moon. 

"The lady in the moon! ses I. 

" Yes/ ses he, the lady in the moon. 

" Sure, I always thought there was only a 
man in the moon/ ses I. 

"There s a lady there too, but don t tell any 
one/ ses he. 

" Are you afraid any one might run away with 
her? ses I. 

"Well, I am and I am not/ ses he. 

"When did you discover that there was a 
lady in the moon? ses I. 

" Years and years ago when I was a young 
man of three sixes/ ses he. 

" The Lord save us all ! ses I. And you never 
told the scientists about it? 

"I did not/ ses he. They should have found 

172 The Lady of the Moon 

it out for themselves. There s many a thing 
that the scientists don t know, and many a 
thing that the clergy don t know, and many a 
thing that the very wisest of us don t know, but 
there is one thing that we all know/ ses he. 

" And what is that? ses I. 

" Some day we will all be as dead as decency. 
But nevertheless it doesn t make us treat each 
other a bit better, ses he. 

" The uncertainty of everything is the only 
certainty we have, ses I. And very few of us 
say anything worth thinking about, and what 
most of us think is not worth talking about. 
However, I d like to know whether the moon was 
in the east or the west when you discovered the 
lady that captured your heart. 

""Twas in this very lake the moon was when 
I saw my love for the first time, and though some 
fifty years or more have passed since then, she is 
as beautiful, lithe, lissome, and gay as ever, and 
she as elegant as Helen of Troy herself, ses he. 

" I ve been looking at the moon all my life 
time, ses I, in pools of water, lakes, rivers, and 

The Lady of the Moon 173 

the sky itself, and the devil a one I ever saw in it 
at all. 

" That s not a bit surprising/ ses he. Some 
walk from the cradle to the grave without notic 
ing the beauty of the universe, and what s more, 
they are never impressed with what s extraordi 
nary, or surprised at the obvious. And when they 
see the things they have heard so much about, 
they do be surprised at what they think is the 
stupidity of the intelligent people, because they 
have no sense of the beautiful themselves. 

" God knows, ses I, there are women enough 
on the face of the earth without going to look for 
them in the moon, nevertheless, I d like to see 
the lady that s as purty as Helen of Troy, and she 
more beautiful than all the queens of the world. 

" Well, ses he, if you want to see the lady of 
the moon, you must take a hop, step, and a jump 
forward, and a hop, step, and a jump, backward, 
then turn on your heel three times, bore a hole in 
the crown of your hat with the buckhorn handle 
of your blackthorn, put your face in the hat it 
self, look through the hole the way you d look at 

174 The Lady of the Moon 

the stars through a telescope, and you ll see the 
lady I fell head and heels in love with when I was 
a lad of three sixes. 

" Bedad, ses I, that would be a queer thing 
for me to do. Sure while I d have my face in the 
hat, you might run behind me and give me one 
kick and pitch me headlong into the lake, and 
I d be sinking in its icy waters for ever like Matty 
Morrissey the fiddler, and the holy Bishop of 

" God forgive you for having such an evil 
mind, ses he. I that never did hurt nor harm 
to any one in all my born days, but myself. 

" Well, ses I, a man always makes a fool of 
himself about women, and he might as well make 
a fool of himself one way as another, and as I 
won t be making a precedent by doing something 
idiotic to please another, I ll bore a hole in my 
hat, though I d rather bore one in yours, and try 
if I can t see the lady. And as true as I m telling 
you, I looked through the hole and saw the lady 
of the moon for the first time, and then I up and 
ses to the stranger: 

The Lady of the Moon 175 

" What kind of a man are you to remain a 
bachelor all those long years, and to be coming 
here night after night, when the moon shows in 
the sky, wasting your affection on a lady you 
never opened your lips to? ses I. 

" I m the happiest man alive/ ses he. Be 
cause the woman I love has never wounded or 
slighted me in any way, and what s more, she 
never will. She don t want to be going out to 
balls and parties at night, and gallivanting with 
other women s husbands, and she cares as little 
about the latest fashions as I do myself. And 
we have never had as much as a single quarrel, 
and we are the same to each other now as when 
first we met. I have yet to be disillusioned, 
ses he, and that s something worth boasting 

" But, ses I, for all you know, the lady of the 
moon might be in love with the man in the 


" That s so, ses he. And maybe your wife 
might be in love with the man next door, or 
across the street, or some one away in the wilds 

176 The Lady of the Moon 

of Africa, Australia, or America, or she may be 
in love with some one who s dead and gone, or 
some good-looking stranger who came into her 
life for a day or a week and went out of it for 
ever. Women can keep their own secrets/ ses 
he. "They don t tell us all they think, and very 
often when they say no, they mean yes. You 
have a lot to learn/ ses he. 

111 Maybe I have/ ses I. But tis as bad for a 
man to know too much or too little, as to know 
nothing at all, I m thinking. 

" Maybe it is/ ses he. 

" And when are you going to wed the lady in 
the moon? Is it when she comes down from the 
sky? ses I. 

"No/ ses he, but when she comes up from the 
lake. And then a large dark cloud floated past 
and the lady of the moon was seen no more that 

"Tis about time we went indoors/ said Padna. 
"Tis," said Micus. "The Angelus is ringing, 
and I m feeling hungry." 

Bargain of 

AiLUE haze hung on the distant hills 
when Padna Dan looked pensively 
from the landscape to his watch, and 
said to his friend Micus Pat, who stood by his 
side: "The world is surely a wonderful and a 
beautiful place as well; but it would seem as 
though there were wings on the feet of time, so 
quickly does night follow day." 

"Time is the barque that carries us from the 
cradle to the grave, and leaves us on the shores 
of the other world alone," said Padna. "And as 
my poor mother used to say: 

Time, like youth, will haw its fling, 
And of a beggar make a king; 
And of a king a beggar make } 

Merely for a joke s sake. 

178 A Bargain of Bargains 

Time indeed brings many changes. Cromwell 
made peasants of the Irish gentry, and America 
made gentry of the Irish peasantry, and awful 
snobs some of them became too! But a whit for 
snobbery, for what is it but an adjunct of pros 
perity, like gout, which disappears again with 

" Snobbery at best is a foolish thing," said 

"But when we consider the unimportance of 
our own troubles, and the importance of the prin 
cipal parts of the British Empire, such as Ireland, 
England, Scotland, Australia and T. P. O Connor, 
our insignificance looms up before our gaze, and 
almost strikes us in the face, so to speak." 

"And tis surprising it doesn t obliterate us 
altogether," said Padna. "However, let us for 
get Tay Pay O Connor for a little while, as he 
will never do so himself, and I will tell you a 
story about one Cormac McShane from the town- 
land of Ballinderry." 

"On with the story; I am always glad to hear 
tell of some one worth talking about," said Micus. 

A Bargain of Bargains 179 

"Well," said Padna, "Cormac was as fine a 
looking man as ever broke his promises. And 
unless you had great astuteness of observation, 
and an eye like a hawk or a landlady, you wouldn t 
see the likes of him in a twelvemonth, even though 
you might be gallivanting through the streets 
every day. And while nature treated him rather 
well, for the poor man he was, Dame Fortune 
seemed to have ignored him altogether, until he 
took his fate in his own hands, and then things 
began to improve. But to make a short story as 
long as I can, like the journalists and modern 
novelists, one day while Cormac was sitting in a 
barber s chair, having his hair cut and trying to 
forget what the barber was talking about, a bright 
idea came to him as he caught a glimpse of him 
self in the looking-glass, and lo and behold! with 
out saying a word, he jumped up and stood on his 
two feet, and the poor barber got so excited that 
he cut a piece off the top of his right ear. Cor 
mac wasn t the least displeased, because he always 
thought that his ears were too long, so then and 
there he told the barber to cut a piece about the 

180 A Bargain of Bargains 

same length off his other ear, so that they would 
both look nice and even. And when his wishes 
were complied with, he thanked the barber, and 
then he up and ses to himself: Cormac McShane, 
ses he, I never before thought you were such a 
good-looking fellow. Sure the King of Spain or 
the Emperor of China would feel as proud as a 
peacock to have a countenance like yours. Yet, 
ses he, isn t it a strange thing that one so hand 
some, and modest likewise, and with such a 
splendid appetite, and a taste for good things in 
general, should be compelled by stress of circum 
stances to live on pigs heads, and tough cabbage, 
and no change at all in your dietary but salt 
conger eels on Fridays. Why, ses he, a man with 
your appreciation should have plenty of the choice 
things of life, and never know the want of any 
thing. What, might I ask, ses he, has the world 
achieved by all the books that have been written, 
and all the charity sermons that have been 
preached, when you, Cormac McShane, couldn t 
go from Cork to Dublin unless you borrowed 
the money, and it might be as hard for you to 

A Bargain of Bargains 181 

borrow it, as twould be for yourself to lend it to 

" That s good sound talk," said Micus. "Go 
on with the story, and don t let any one interrupt 

" Now, ses Cormac, If every one in the 
whole world from Peru to Clonakilty would only 
give you a halfpenny each, and no one would miss 
such a trifle, you would be the richest man alive, 
and then you needn t give a traneen about any 
one. But, of course, ses he, that would be too 
much originality to expect from the bewildered 
inhabitants of the globe, moreover, ,ses he, when 
we consider that the majority of people are always 
trying to get something for nothing, themselves." 

"He had the temperament of a millionaire," said 

"Indeed, he had, and the ingenuity of the 
tinkers, who would charge for putting a patch 
on a skillet where there was no hole at all," said 
Padna. "However, ses Cormac to himself, 
there s nothing like money, no matter how it may 
have been earned, and every man should be his 

182 A Bargain of Bargains 

own counsellor, because the little we know about 
each other only leads us into confusion and chaos. 
Now, ses he, very few ever became wealthy by 
hard work alone, and you, Cormac McShane, 
must think of some scheme by which you can 
become rich, and all of a sudden too. And so he 
exercised his brains for about a month, and kept 
thinking and thinking, until finally he managed 
to capture an idea that he found straying among 
all the wild fancies that ever kept buzzing about 
in his head. And he was so pleased and delighted 
that he ses to himself: Cormac, ses he, there 
isn t another man alive who could think of such a 
short cut to wealth, health, and happiness, and 
as a mark of my appreciation, I will now treat 
you to whatever you may want, provided, of 
course, that it won t cost more than one shilling. 
A shilling is enough to spend on any one at a 
time, unless you are sure of getting two shillings, 
worth in return. And extravagance is nearly 
as bad as economy, when it isn t used to 
advantage." 1 

"And what was the brilliant idea that inspired 

A Bargain of Bargains 183 

such generosity?" said Micus. "Was it the way 
he made up his mind to dress himself as a duke, 
and go to America and marry some heiress who 
couldn t tell a duke from a professional plausible 

"It wasn t anything as commonplace as that," 
said Padna. 

"What was it then?" said Micus. 

"I m going to raffle myself at a guinea a 
ticket, ses he. And if I will sell five hundred, 
I will have enough to buy a small farm. That 
would give me a real start in life, and after I have 
what I want, discontent is possible. And then 
and there, he got his photo printed on a card, 
on which was written: 


To be raffled, and drawn for, on St. 
Swithin s eve, at the Black Cock Tavern, 
one Cor mac McShane. He stands five 
feet six inches in his stocking vamps, 
black hair, blue eyes, an easy disposition, 
and no poor relations. A limited number 

184 A Bargain of Bargains 

of tickets, to wit, five hundred, will be sold 
at one guinea each, to widows without chil 
dren, of less than three score and five" 

"Well," said Micus, "the devil be in it, but 
that was the most extraordinary way I ever heard 
of a man looking for a wife with a fortune. And 
why did he make the stipulation that only widows 
were eligible?" 

"Because widows are always less extravagant 
than single women, and they know how to 
humour a man better, when he has lost his 

"And how many tickets did he sell?" asked 

"Every single one, and he could have sold as 
many more, only he hadn t them printed," said 

"And that was how Cormac McShane got a 
wife, or how a wife got him, if you will?" said 

"Yes," said Padna, "and while the money 
lasted, Cormac was the happiest man in the 

A Bargain of Bargains 185 

"Now," said Micus, "if Cormac McShane was 
a wise man, Garret Doran was another." 

"How so?" said Padna. "Was it the way he 
always kept his mouth shut until he had some 
thing to say?" 

"Not exactly," said Micus. "But he could do 
that too, when it pleased him. Garret was a 
miller, who kept a mill near the courthouse, so 
one day when the famous judge, Patcheen the 
Piper, as he was called, was sitting on the Bench, 
passing sentence on a batch of patriots who were 
to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, for no other 
offence than loving a country that never did 
anything for them better than they loved them 
selves, a great noise was heard, and the Judge 
was so annoyed at being disturbed that he stopped 
short in the middle of the death sentence and 
ses, at the top of his voice: 

" What hullaballoo is that I hear? And who 
dares make any noise at all, and interfere with 
my amusement? ses he. If I will hear another 
sound, I ll order every one within a radius of 
five miles to be boiled in turpentine, and sealed 

186 A Bargain of Bargains 

up in tin cans, and have them shipped to the 
King of the Cannibal Islands, as a Christmas box 
from the people of generous Ireland/ ses he. 

" Oh/ ses the Crown Solicitor, that s only 
Garret Doran s mill grinding corn for the poor 

" The poor people! 7 ses the Judge in a rage. 
Who the devil cares a traneen about the poor 
but the politicians when they want to get their 
votes, the kings and emperors when they want 
them to go to the wars, or the clergy when they 
are preaching charity sermons for the benefit of 
the inhabitants of Central Africa? And who will 
deny that those cannibals wouldn t be better off 
if they were left alone? Nevertheless, tis only 
fair to state that they have just as much apprecia 
tion of decency and kindness as the best of our 
selves. But be all that as it may, go and tell 
Garret Doran to stop his mill at once, and if he 
don t obey your orders, bring him here before 
me, and I ll order him to be hanged with these 
poor fools of patriots who have done less to annoy 
me than he has. And hanging patriots, if you 

A Bargain of Bargains 187 

haven t a conscience, is as good a way of making 
a living, as starving your employees to death, 
like some of the pious-faced rascals who have the 
impudence to invite myself to dine with them. 
Not indeed, that the likes of me wants a dinner 
or a meal of food from any one. The poor, who 
can t afford a square meal more than once in the 
year, are never invited to partake of the hos 
pitality of those who give dinners to those who 
don t need them. But why should I bother 
about anything in a world like this, where every 
thing is in such a hopeless state of confusion? 
Howsomever, a judge, like a lawyer, has to live 
down to the dignity of his profession, and unless 
he hangs a man now and again, the Government 
might think he had no interest in his job at all. 
" Of course, ses he, when we think of the 
number of useless and troublesome people in the 
world and the few who find their way to the gal 
lows, we should not worry about them, unless 
they might happen to be some relation of our 
own. The only time we really take an interest 
in other people s troubles is when such troubles 

188 A Bargain of Bargains 

affect ourselves. Nevertheless/ ses he, this is a 
rather lengthy digression, so be off with yourself 
at once to Garret Doran, and tell him his mill 
must be stopped this very instant. 

"Well, the Crown Solicitor went to Garret and 
told him what the Judge had said, and Garret 
ordered the mill to be stopped, and the Judge 
received no further trouble from Garret or his 
mill while the trial lasted. And when the Assizes 
were over, the Judge went away, and he didn t 
return again for five years. But when he was sit 
ting on the Bench again for himself, passing sen 
tence of death on more patriots, who should walk 
up to him but Garret himself, and he dressed in 
his Sunday clothes? And without as much as say 
ing: Good-morrow, how are you/ or Go to the 
devil inself/ he up and hands him a large sealed 
envelope. And when Patcheen the Piper opened 
and read the note it contained, his face turned 
scarlet, and he jumped up from his throne of 
plush and gold trimmings, and ses: What the 
blue blazes is the meaning of all this? ses he. 

" Don t get excited, whatever you ll do/ ses 

A Bargain of Bargains 189 

Garret. Tis nothing more nor less than a bill 
for the expenses incurred by closing down my 
mill at your instigation some five years ago/ 

"For a while the Judge said nothing at all, 
but kept looking hard at Garret, and then all of 
a sudden ses he: Why, in the name of all the 
descendants of Julius Caesar and Brian Boru in 
America, didn t you start the mill going after I 
left the city? 

" You never told me to do so/ ses Garret. 
And if I did start it without your permission, I 
might have been sent to gaol for five hundred 
years or more. 7 

"Well, 7 ses the Judge, I m sorry I can t send 
you to a warmer place than gaol to punish you 
for fooling me in such a successful manner. Why, 
man alive, 7 ses he, your conduct is preposterous; 
in fact, tis worse, because tis ridiculous as well. 

""Tis the incongruity of things that makes a 
living for most of us, 7 ses Garret. And only a 
fool would get angry about anything. Anyway, 7 
ses he, I don t care a traneen what happens to 
you, so long as I will get what is coming to me. 7 

190 A Bargain of Bargains 

" Bedad, ses the Judge, in spite of all our old 
talk, that seems to be the beginning and end of 
human ambition. We all like to get as much as 
we can for nothing, and give as little as possible 
in return/ 

"But to finish my story, the case was taken 
from the high courts to the low courts, and from 
the low courts back again to the high courts, and 
between the jigs and the reels, so to speak, Garret 
got his money, and Patcheen the Piper never 
asked any one to stop a mill again." 

" That s the devil s own queer yarn," said 
Padna. "If we all had to wait until we were 
told what to do, we wouldn t do anything at all." 

"We wouldn t," agreed Micus. 

Shauno and the Shah 

WELL," said Padna to his friend 
Micus, as they sat on a donkey 
cart on their way to market, "I 
wonder if you ever heard tell of Shauno the 

"Wisha, indeed I did not then. Who was he 
at all?" asked Micus. 

"He was a distant relation of my own who 
lived in the good old days when women stayed 
at home and looked after the children and the 
household," said Padna. "And he was as con 
trary a creature as ever mistook ignorance for 
knowledge, and like all of his kind he was as 
happy as the days are long when he was giving 
trouble to some one else. But, bad luck to him 
and to all like him, he was the most dissatisfied 
man that was ever allowed to have all his own 
way, and tis said he could swear in seven lan 
guages, and swear all day without getting tired. 


192 Shauno and the Shah 

"However, though he was queer and contrary, 
he was a gentleman withal. And he was never 
known to use his rare vocabulary in the presence 
of ladies, but would wait until their backs were 
turned, like a well-trained married man, and 
then curse and damn them one and all to 

"And was it the way he disliked women?" 
said Micus. 

"Not exactly, but because he couldn t find 
any particular one that he could like better than 
another. And that was why he made up his mind 
to leave the country altogether, and go to foreign 
parts to look for a wife who might be different 
from any he might find at home," said Padna. 

"Bedad," said Micus, "Shauno must have been 
a genius or else a fool, and at times it takes a wise 
man to know one from the other." 

"Whatever he was, or whatever he wasn t, 
one thing is certain, and that is, he was an excel 
lent actor both on and off the stage, and could 
play the part of poet or peasant, king or beggar, 
with equal grace and naturalness. And so it 

Shauno and the Shah 193 

was one day, when he got heartily sick of all the 
tame nonentities he had to deal with, he up and 
ses to himself: Shauno, ses he, i there are enough 
of mollycoddles and pious humbugs in the world 
without adding to their number, and unless you 
will do something original now while you are 
young and foolish, you are not likely to do any 
thing but what some one else tells you to do when 
you are old/ 

"And without saying another word, he went 
straight home, dressed himself up as Henry 
the Eighth, and after paying a visit to the mayor 
of the town, went on board a warship that 
was lying In the harbour beyond. And when the 
poor captain saw Shauno attired like a mighty 
monarch, he got the fright of his life, and never 
said a word at all until Shauno up and ses: Tis 
a fine day, Captain/ ses he. 

" I know that myself, already, ses the Cap 
tain, but who in the name of all the corncrakes 
in Munster are you, and what brings you here, 
and what can I do for you besides flinging you 
overboard to the sharks and the sea gulls? 

194 Shauno and the Shah 

" Oh/ ses Shauno, don t be so eager to do 
something you may be sorry for. All that I want 
you to do is to land me in Sperrispazuka within 
five days, and if you will accomplish the feat, I 
will raise your wages and promote you to the 
rank of admiral. 

" And who the blazes are you to come here 
without being invited and give an order like that 
to myself? ses the Captain. 

" Who the devil do you think I could be, or 
want to be, you impudent varmint, but Henry 
the Eighth? ses he. By all the people I have 
made miserable, I ll have you lashed to the mouth 
of a cannon, and blown to smithereens if you 
don t do what you are told. How dare you insult 
the King of England and Scotland, not to mention 
Ireland and Australia? ses he. 

"Then the bold Captain ses: I beg your 
Majesty s pardon/ ses he. I thought you were 
some play actor or other who had lost his wits. 
So I hope you will accept my apology for the 
mistake I have so unfortunately made, and my 
stupidity likewise. 

Shauno and the Shah 195 

""Tis hard for me ever to forgive or overlook 
stupidity because, like all religious people, I 
can t stand in another the faults I have in a 
large measure myself. But considering that you 
have been a faithful servant to the family for a 
number of years, I will let you off with a caution 
this time. But be sure and never make mistakes 
again, unless you know what you are doing, ses 

" Thank you for your kind advice, ses the 
Captain. Is there anything I can do now to 
please or oblige your Majesty? 

" There is, ses Shauno. Hold your tongue } 
put full steam ahead, and tell the sailors not to 
say their prayers aloud, because I am going to 
bed this very instant, and don t want to be 
disturbed. But call me in the morning at eight 
o clock sharp, ses Shauno. And be sure and 
have my breakfast ready on time. I will have 
a busy day to-morrow. I must shave and read 
the newspaper. 

"What will you have for breakfast? ses the 

196 Shauno and the Shah 

" One fathom and half of drisheen, six fresh 
eggs, three loaves of bread, goat s ears, ostrich 
brains, and two heads of cabbage. And I d like 
a toothful of something to help me to digest the 
little repast/ ses Shauno. 

"I suppose a keg or two of rum, or a dozen of 
stout, will do, ses the Captain. 

"As there s luck in odd numbers, you had 
better make it three dozen of stout/ ses 
Shauno. And if I feel like any more, I ll let 
you know. 

"Well, the old fool of a captain really thought 
he was Henry the Eighth, and he did everything 
that Shauno told him, until they reached Sperris- 

"And when the mosques and the turrets of the 
city hove in sight and the ship once more lay 
at anchor, Shauno trod the deck with pride and 
ses to the Captain: Captain/ ses he, allow me 
to compliment you on this marvellous achieve 
ment. I never before made the journey in such 
a short space of time, and in honour of the event 
I will make you a present of two-and-sixpence and 

Shauno and the Shah 197 

make you a Knight of Columbus besides. But 
before I will take my leave of yourself and the 
ship, I want a royal salute of twenty-one guns 
to be fired and burst every pane of glass in the 
town beyond with the noise. A shout is better 
than a whisper if you want to be heard, and we 
all get more by asking for what we want than 
by remaining silent. 

"Anyhow/ ses he, half the world is living on 
its wits, or by bluff, if you will, and the other 
half enjoys itself, so to speak, at the expense 
of inequality, non-fraternity, and suppression 
of the people s rights. Yet for all that, most 
of the well-fed and superfine humbugs we meet 
every day seem to be as happy and contented 
as if they deserved to be. And all you have got 
to do to convince yourself that the wisdom of 
man has not interfered with the extravagance 
of women is to look at the way they dress, or 
look at your bank book at the end of the year 
if you are married. But be all that as it may, 
I think that I have said enough, for talk is always 
cheap, and tis doubtful if anything that s cheap 

198 Shauno and the Shah 

or given away for nothing is ever appreciated by 
the discerning or the undiscerning. 

"And now, ses he, as I have but a few more 
words to say, I would advise you, one and all, 
to be decent to each other while you can, be 
cause a time will come when you can t. And 
tis better to do a foolish thing now than to be 
sorry for not doing it later. On the other hand, 
tis a wise policy to refuse anything you may be 
offered for nothing, because a compliment be 
stowed is always like a millstone around a man s 
neck. Independence, of course; is a fine thing, 
but it is always purchased at too high a price. 
And a state of independence is only acquired by 
either cheating yourself or some one else. 

"But nevertheless, ses he, the man who 
always thinks of himself first is the last to be 
neglected. And the man who don t hold his 
tongue when he has nothing to say is nearly 
sure to make a fool of himself. Howsomever, the 
time is now come for me to make my departure. 
So let loose the guns, ses he, and fire the Royal 

Shauno and the Shah 199 

"And lo and behold! the Captain obeyed his 
orders, and such noise was never before heard in 
the harbour of Sperrispazuka. And when silence 
was resumed Shauno whispered to the Captain 
and ses: I m going to sojourn here for a month 
or two, and I ll send a telegram to you to call for 
me when I am ready to return. So with that they 
shook hands and parted. 

"And when the ship sailed away, Shauno went 
ashore and walked around the town until he 
found a menagerie. Then he hired a comple 
ment of one hundred elephants, and numerous 
pages and attendants, flags, banners, caravans, 
and the devil knows what." 

"And what did he want the elephants for?" 
said Micus. 

"He was going to visit the Shah," said Padna, 
"and he wanted to make a good impression. 
And when all the elephants were placed one 
after another in a line, he took the place of honour 
himself on the back of the first and largest of the 
great brutes. And as the procession passed on its 
way through the town to the Shah s country 

200 Shauno and the Shah 

home, the House of Ten Thousand Windows, 
everybody men, women, and children alike 
stopped in the streets and took off their hats, 
thinking that Shauno was the King of England, 
and he was beginning to think so too, or at least 
that he was as great an old bla guard as Henry 
himself. But when he arrived at the castle 
gates and found the Shah sitting on his tomb 
stone feeding the pigeons, he was sorely disap 
pointed, because he expected a royal escort to 
meet him outside the courtyard. 

"The Shah was kind of startled when he saw 
Shauno and his staff, and nearly lost his temper 
and ses: Who in the name of the few decent 
people that a man meets in the course of a life 
time, are you? And who the devil owns these 
Irish terriers? ses he, as he pointed to the ele 

" Wisha, bad luck and a dozen daughters to 
you/ ses Shauno, what do the likes of you mean 
by offering insults to a distinguished foreigner 
like myself? If you read the newspapers as you 
should, you would know that I was Henry the 

Shauno and the Shah 201 

Eighth, and that these quadrupeds are neither 
Irish terriers nor mosquitoes, but elephants. 

" Is that so? ses the Shah. Wait till I will 
put on my glasses. My sight is somewhat im 
paired from reading the names of all my wives 
and their pedigrees. And then he put on his 
glasses and ses: Bedad, sure enough, they are 
not Irish terriers at all, but real live elephants. 
And tis yourself is no one else but Henry the 
Eighth. I hope to be excused and forgiven for 
my mistake. 

"Til forgive you this time, ses Shauno. 

" Very well, ses the Shah, you might as well 
come inside and sit down if you are in no hurry, 
and we will see if we can t enjoy ourselves, and 
I will get my servants to look after the terriers, 
I mean the elephants, while we ll make merry. 

" The devil a hurry, or a flurry, am I in, ses 
Shauno. And with that they adjourned to the 
Shah s drawing-room, and when they were com 
fortably seated in two armchairs, the Shah rang 
for a servant to fetch the decanter and a pack 
of cards. And when the cards were placed on 

202 Shauno and the Shah 

the table, the Shah grabbed them up and ses to 
Shauno: What is it going to be? A game of 
Forty-Five, or what? There s nothing like a 
game of cards to pass a dull hour among dull 

"Forty-Five, of course, ses Shauno, as he 
poured out a glass of whiskey for himself and 
another for the Shah. 

" Right you are, ses the Shah. There s 
nothing to beat a game of Forty-Five, except a 
good game of bowls on a hard straight road on a 
winter s day. Howsomever, I won t give you a 
demonstration on the art of bowl-playing now, 
but I will show you how to deal the cards in the 
true Carrigaline fashion, as introduced by the 
King of Spain while he was here on a visit many 
years ago. 

" Bedad, ses Shauno, I think the Clonakilty, 
or the Skibbereen deal is just as good, but as 
they are all the same, we won t allow the matter 
be a subject for discussion. 

"The cards were duly dealt, and the Shah ses 
to Shauno: What will we play for at all? ses he. 

Shauno and the Shah 203 

" Small stakes for a start, of course/ ses Shauno. 
I ll back every ship in my navy against every 
ship in yours, if you don t mind. 

" Done, ses the Shah, as he placed the decanter 
on his head and finished the whiskey. Then they 
took off their coats, and after an exciting game 
the Shah won. Shauno was very much surprised 
and disappointed, and said as he pointed to the 
decanter to have it filled again: Damn the bit 
of luck have I had since I met a red-headed widow 
two months ago first thing on a Monday morning, 
and I m afraid I will never have any luck again. 

" I wouldn t worry about that, if I were you. 
We will be all dead one day, and then we won t 
know whether we were lucky or not, ses the Shah. 

" That s cold comfort, as the cat said after 
she jumped into the freezing water when chased 
by a mad dog. I have ruined my country by my 
extravagance. She is no longer Mistress of the 
Seas, and though that may be a consolation to 
Germany, it will lose for me a good deal of 
prestige. Howsomever, I am not dead broke yet, 
and even if a man is dead broke inself, there is 

204 Shauno and the Shah 

no reason why he should go whining about it. 
A good gambler never cares whose money he 
spends or how much he loses. I will now/ ses he 
back Ireland against what I have lost and keep 
up the custom of my country by treating the 
Irish with contempt and injustice. So let us 
play again. 

" Good/ ses the Shah. We ll play again. 

" I ll give them the tinker s deal for luck this 
time/ ses Shauno. 

"As you please/ ses the Shah. "Tis all the 
same to me, so long as I win. A good gambler 
never cares how much he takes from his friends, 
or how many people he makes miserable. 

"This time they played a great game, but 
Shauno lost again, and it made him more angry 
than ever. 

"Now/ ses he, that I have lost Ireland, it 
doesn t matter what happens to the rest of my 
territory. We ll play one game of Twenty-Five, 
and I ll back my boots, my meerschaum pipe, five 
ounces of tobacco, and Australia against Ireland 
and my fleet. 

Shauno and the Shah 205 

" Don t you think you are getting reckless? 
ses the Shah. 

" I may be/ ses Shauno. But I might as 
well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. And one 
poor man more or less won t make much differ 
ence. On with the game. Philosophy is only a 
comfort to a man when he isn t in a state of 

" As you will/ ses the Shah. Anything at all 
to please you. 

" So the cards were dealt once more and they 
played a game of Twenty-Five, and the Shah 

"Shauno lost his temper and commenced to 
swear and break up the furniture, but the Shah 
only looked on and smiled. Then Shauno flung a 
chair at him, and ses : You bleddy foreign rascal, 
sure tis myself that s the fool for having any 
thing to do with the likes of you. I ll never be 
able to face home now, after all the misfortune 
I have had. 

"Oh/ ses the Shah, I wouldn t behave like 
that if I were you. Tis undignified to appear 

206 Shauno and the Shah 

natural in the presence of strangers. We should 
always reserve ingratitude and bad treatment for 
our friends. You are a little upset, of course, for 
losing what didn t belong to you, but you will 
feel all right again as soon as you will begin to 
acquire what you don t deserve/ 

" If I had my own way, - ses Shauno. 

" If we all had our own way, the little glimmer 
of democracy and decency that we see struggling 
for existence occasionally would disappear for 
ever/ ses the Shah. Howsomever, don t be 
downhearted, but take a good drop of poteen, 
and twill give you all the false courage that 
any man wants. 

" And then he produced a small keg of the best 
poteen, and they drank glass after glass, and 
sang all the songs they could remember, from 
The Croppy Boy to the Bard of Armagh/ 
until they fell on the floor and had to be taken 
to bed. 

"And there they slept for two days and three 
nights, and on the morning of the third day, 
Shauno woke up with a bursting headache, and 

Shauno and the Shah 207 

asked the Shah if he was still alive and in the 
land of the living. And the Shah was surprised 
that a real aristocrat should be so upset and 
affected by a night s innocent amusement. Well, 
they had breakfast together, and after the repast, 
the Shah took Shauno to see the sights, and when 
they arrived at the Royal Harem, Shauno fainted 
when he saw all the wives the poor Shah had to 
look after. It took him two weeks to count them 
all, and at the end of that time the Shah ses: 
Well, ses he, how many would you like to take 
for a present? You can have all you want, be 
cause I am expecting another shipload next week 
as a Christmas box. 

" Thanks for your kind offer, ses Shauno. 
But I am cured now. I have made up my mind 
to go home and live in peace, and remain a 
bachelor for the remainder of my days. 

" Oh, ses the Shah, I think you should at 
least take one, and she will help to remind you 
of your visit to the Shah of Sperrispazuka. 

""Tis only too well that I know that, but I 
have seen all I ever want to see of women, ses 

208 Shauno and the Shah 

Shauno. But I ll tell you what you can do with 
out offending me, or hurting my tender feeling 
in any way. 

" What may that be? ses the Shah. 

" You can loan me a million sovereigns to 
show there is no ill feeling between us, and send 
me home in one of your first-class battleships. 
Of course, I must travel as a private gentleman, 
and when I will arrive home, I will get my poet 
laureate to write an ode to your generosity/ 

" I ll loan you all you want, ses the Shah. 

"So there and then he took out his bank book 
and gave him a cheque for the full amount, and 
on the morrow Shauno sailed away for England 
in one of the swiftest ships that ever went to sea, 
and the Shah never heard of him from that day 
to this." 

"That s the devil s own queer yarn," said 
Micus. "What did the Shah do when he found 
out that he had been fooled?" 

"Oh, he was as cross as a bag of cats, of course, 
and retired to the banquet hall of his castle, 
sent for all his wives, and made this speech: 

Shauno and the Shah 209 

" Ladies of all shapes and sizes/ ses he, I have 
good news for you this blessed day. I m going 
to make widows of every one here present, and 
all those who couldn t gain admittance to this 
large and spacious hall as well. 

"And when they heard what he said, they all 
burst forth into uproarious applause, and began 
to fling chairs, benches, stools, ink-bottles, and 
hairpins at each other. In short, they created 
the devil of a hullaballoo entirely, and they might 
have set fire to the place, only he threatened to 
send for the police. Well, when silence and order 
was restored, he continued and ses: 

" Ladies, ses he, you will be all glad to hear 
that I have been fooled and cheated by an im 
postor, and as I have proved conclusively to my 
own satisfaction that I am too foolish to live, I 
have made up my mind to die. Yes, ladies, and 
to die by my own hand too. But as many of you 
as possible must have something to remind you 
of married life and a devoted husband who is 
about to begin his troubles in the other world by 
ending his troubles in this. Now, ses he, come 

210 Shauno and the Shah 

forward, one and all, and let each of you pluck 
a hair from my leonine head, and keep it in a 
locket as a souvenir until you will go home to the 
devil, or wherever else you may be destined for. 

"And as the last few words were spoken, he 
bent down his head, and his wives came along in 
single file to comply with his request, and before 
an hour was at an end, the Shah of Sperrispazuka 
was as bald as a snowball." 

"And wouldn t it be easier for him to get a 
scissors and cut his hair and then distribute the 
locks, than to do anything so foolish," said Micus. 

"Wisha, I suppose it would," said Padna. 
"But we all do foolish things when we are upset 
or excited. Well, when that part of the ceremony 
was all over, he ses, as the tears came to his eyes: 
1 Ladies, ses he, I have no more to say. My 
hour is come and I am ready to die. I have here 
with me on this table a cocktail which is a con 
coction of ground green bottles, prussic acid, and 
black beetles mixed with some cheese that was 
refused by the soldiers at the fall of Rome, and 
if that won t send me to glory or perdition, may 

Shauno and the Shah 211 

I never again drown one of you in the Canal 
for losing your beauty. However/ ses he, as a 
last request I would ask you to control your 
emotion. Let there be no singing of the National 
Anthem, no dancing of jigs, drinking or carous 
ing, breaking of windows or skulls, or any other 
patriotic manifestation of public grief, until I 
am cold in my grave. 

"And then he lifted the fatal glass to his lips 
and drained its contents to the dregs, and so 
passed away the Shah of Sperrispazuka." 

"I feel like having a drink of something, my 
self," said Micus. 

"So do I," said Padna. "I think we ll stop 
when we ll come to the Thrush and Magpie. " 

"As you please," said Micus. 

The Mayor of 

1 WONDER," said Padna to Micus, as they 
wended their way along a lonely road after 
Mass on a Sunday morning, "if you ever 
heard tell of the black dog of Dooniskey that 
was gifted with seven senses, second sight, and 
an easy disposition, who followed my grand 
father from the Bridge of the Hundred Arches to 
the Half Way House in Cromwell s Glen on the 
night of the rising of 98. And how he caught a 
hold of the tail of his coat and dragged him from 
Owen Roe s Cross to Cuchulain s Boreen while 
the soldiers of England s king were scouring the 
highways looking for some one to hang to the 
nearest ringer post. And twas little they cared 
about any man, for one man looked as good as 

another to them, as he swung from a branch of a 


The Mayor of Loughlaurna 213 

tree on the roadside or on a gibbet on the moun 
tain top. And twas the selfsame black dog that 
saved him from the fairies of Galway on a dark 
windy night, when all the fairies of the world 
assembled in the Gap of Dunlow and made 
speeches in favour of women holding their tongues 
until the Judgment Day." 

"I never heard tell of the black dog of Doonis- 
key, or your old grandfather, or the fairies who 
wanted to steal him either, but what the fairies 
wanted him for is more than I can understand," 
said Micus. 

" Wisha, bad luck to your ignorance this blessed 
day, not to know that he was the best musician 
in the seven parishes, and the likes of his playing 
on the fiddle was never known since the Devil 
played a jig for Henry the Eighth the night he 
died. What do you think the fairies would want 
my grandfather for, but to play the Coulin, 
Eileen Aroon, The Last Rose of Summer, 
The Dirge of Ossian, The Lamentation of 
Deirdre and My Dark Rosaleen for them in the 
caves of the ocean when the drowsy eye of night 

214 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

quivers and closes, and they tired of dancing to 
the music of the waves on the cobbled beaches 
of the north, south, east, and western coast? " 
said Padna. 

" Tis a great thing indeed to be able to play 
the fiddle, sing a song, dance a jig, make a short 
speech, tell a good story, or do anything at all 
that gives pleasure to another, but the greatest 
of all achievements is to be able to please your 
self without offending some one else. But be 
that as it may, let me hear no more about your 
grandfather, because there is nothing disagrees 
with me more than to have to listen to some one 
retailing the exploits of people I haven t the 
remotest interest in," said Micus. 

"Well, then, you might like to hear about the 
black cat I met the night before I got married," 
said Padna. 

"What s coming over you at all? If we were 
to be noticing the doings of black cats, black dogs, 
the rats that leave a ship, the queer dreams that 
follow a heavy supper, the calm that precedes and 
follows a storm, and all the other signs and tokens 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 215 

that may mean everything or nothing, we would 
become so bewildered that damn the bit of work 
would we do from one end of the year to the 
other, and by trying to become too wise we would 
become too foolish for sensible people to pay 
any attention to us," said Micus. 

"Some men don t realize how foolish they 
are by being too sensible, until they see their 
grandchildren squandering their hard-earned sav 
ings," said Padna. 

" That s the kind of experience that makes pes 
simists, and the few people worth working for are, 
as a rule, able to work for themselves. And though 
there is a limit to all things, except the extrav 
agance of women and the patience of husbands, 
yet on the other hand only for women there 
would be no trouble, and without trouble of 
some kind life wouldn t be worth living," said 

" There s trouble everywhere, both on the dry 
land, the stormy ocean, in the cot and in the castle, 
and the devil a one will you ever find who 
doesn t like to have a quarrel now and again. 

216 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

But as the Mayor of Loughlaurna said to me 
one day: Life is too short for some, too long 
for others, and a great bother to us all, " said 

"Who the devil was the Mayor of Loughlaurna, 
and where did you meet him?" said Micus. 

"The Mayor of Loughlaurna," said Padna, 
"if I am to take his own word for it, was a 

"A gentleman," said Micus, "don t have to 
tell you he s one." 

"Neither does a bla guard, a thief, or a rogue, 
for that matter," said Padna. "Howsomever, 
twas on a summer s day, many years ago when I 
was young, and believed all the things I should 
doubt, and doubted all I should believe, that I 
met the Mayor of Loughlaurna. I was out fishing 
in a small boat that I had moored in the centre 
of the lough itself, and though I started at early 
morning, blast the bit did I catch all day except 
a cold in the head and chest, but as I was about to 
haul in my line at the tail end of the evening, 
something began to pull and tug, and I hauled 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 217 

and hauled and hauled until I thought I was 
dragging one of the Spanish Armada from the 
depths of the sea. But lo and behold! what did 
I find, when I came to the end of my pulling 
and tugging and dragging, but the finest-look 
ing salmon your eyes ever rested on. And when 
I drew him over the gunwale, and took the hook 
from his mouth before breaking his neck on my 
knee, he gave one jump, cleared two thwarts, 
stood on his tail and commenced to abuse 
me, the same as if he was in politics all his 

"And what did he say?" said Micus. 

" Bad scran to your confounded impudence 
and presumption, not to say a word about your 
absence of courtesy and good breeding, ses he. 
How dare you interfere with people who don t 
interfere with you? 

" Oh, ses I, sure tis by interference, inference, 
and ignorance that most of us become prosper 
ous and presumptuous. And without presump 
tion there would be no assumption, and without 
assumption there would be only chaos, and people 

218 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

would never get the things they are not enti 
tled to. 

" Well, 1 ses he, I often heard that a little 
learning is the saving grace of an ignoramus, but 
now I have no doubt whatever about it. 

"Well/ ses I, if it takes a rogue to find a 
rogue, it takes one ignoramus to find wisdom in 

" I think, ses he, that you have a lot to learn, 
and as much more to unlearn, before you will be 
fit to advise those who may be senseless enough 
to heed you. 

"You should know, ses I, unless you are a 
schoolmaster, that what is wisdom to one man is 
tomfoolery to another. But who the blazes are 
you anyway, that I should be wasting my time 
talking like this? 

" You might as well be talking to me as any 
one else, ses he, because most people spend their 
lives between talking and sleeping, and all their 
old talk makes no more impression on the world 
than their snoring. And when they die, they are 
immediately forgotten by every one except those 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 219 

to whom they owed money. But if tis the way you 
want to know who I am/ ses he, I will tell you be 
fore you will have time to make another mistake. 

" You must hurry up then, ses I. 

" The man who stands here before you/ ses 
he, is no less a person than His Lordship the 
Mayor of Loughlaurna. 

" That s a giant of a title for a bit of a man 
like yourself/ ses I. But how came the likes of 
you to be Mayor of Loughlaurna? 

" What way would any one become mayor of 
a city, unless by his ability to control others, or 
the ability of others to control him? Many a 
man got a good job because he knew how to hold 
his tongue/ ses he. 

" Bedad/ ses I, honesty must have gone on 
a holiday the day that gold was discovered, and 
never returned. 

" Wisha, God help you for a poor fool to think 
that honesty ever existed. Honesty is like the gift 
of silence among women, it only exists, so to 
speak, after death. But now to my history. 
I suppose you often heard tell of a song that the 

220 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

tinkers sing in public houses on Saturday nights. 
It goes like this: 

"On Lough Neagh s bank, as the fisherman strays, 

When the clear cool eve s declining, 
He sees the round towers of other days 

In the waters beneath him shining. " 

tlt Indeed, I did then many and many a time, 
ses I. My mother used to sing it for me when I 
was in the cradle, and twill keep ringing in my 
ears till the day I die, as twill keep ringing in 
the ears of every son of Granuaile, whether he be 
drinking tea with the dusky maidens of the South 
Seas or philandering with the beauties of the 
United States. 

" Are the American beauties as contrary as 
ever? ses he. 

" Well, ses I, they can afford to be more so 
than women who can t support their husbands. 
Man at last is emancipated and is now begin 
ning to take his place side by side with woman. 
The age of freedom is at hand and chaos is 
within arm s reach, ses I. 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 221 

" That little digression was interesting/ ses 
he. But to proceed about the song. My poor 
mother used to sing it for me too, and told me the 
story of how it came to be written. It appears 
that in the long, long ago, before people were as 
satisfied with their ignorance and bad manners 
as they are to-day, there was a well in the town of 
Neagh that grew to be a great lake in the middle 
of the night, and before morning came the high 
est steeple was covered, and every single inhab 
itant, man, woman, and child, was drowned. And 
only for that/ ses he, maybe tis the way your 
self would be walking through the streets of the 
town this very day admiring the pretty girls, 
for tis the eye of a philanderer you have, not to 
mention your sleuthering tongue. 

" Twas long ago that I gave up admiring the 
pretty girls/ ses I. 

" I don t believe a word of it/ ses he. A man 
is never too old to admire a pretty woman. And 
the old men, God forgive them, are worse than 
the young men. For the young ones does be shy 
and bashful, while the old ones are as brazen and 

222 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

courageous as the Devil himself, even though 
they might be on the brink of the grave itself. 

" I have listened to enough of your old talk, 
and if you want me to believe that you are the 
Mayor of Loughlaurna, you must prove it. What 
are you but a fish? And how could a fish be 
Mayor of a city? 

" I wasn t always a fish, and I suppose you have 
heard of Spain and the Rocky Mountains? ses he. 

" I have, of course, ses I. 

" And the children of Lir? ses he. 

" Yes, ses I. 

" Well, the night before King Lir s lovely 
daughter Fionnuala and her two brothers were 
turned into swans by the magic power of their 
stepmother, and condemned to wander on the 
waters of the world for three hundred years, I 
was sitting by my own fireside, reading about 
the adventures of Brian Boru, the Red Branch 
Knights, Queen Maeve, and Deirdre. 

" Pardon me/ ses I, Brian Boru wasn t born 
when King Lir took unto himself a second wife. 

" You shouldn t interrupt me for a trifle like 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 223 

that, though strictly speaking trifles are the 
cause of most interruptions. That s only a his 
torical mistake, and history itself is full of mis 
takes. And the man who can t make a mistake 
must be a damn fool. However, ses he, as I 
was sitting by the hearth reading away for my 
self, who should stroll into the drawing-room but 
a fairy princess with a wand in her hand? And 
as I didn t know who she was or where she came 
from, I up and ses: "Good night, ma am," ses I, 
"as you wouldn t say it yourself."/ 

" Good night kindly, ses she. 

" Might I ask who are you at all? ses I. 

" If I told you who I am, you would be as 
wise as myself, ses she. 

"Do you know who you are talking to? ses 

" Indeed, I do, ses she. You are Michael 
Henry Patrick Joseph Billy Dan MacMorrough, 
the Mayor of Laurna. 

" That s my full name and title, ses he, but 
I takes more after my mother s people than my 
father s. 

224 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

" That s a pity, because your mother was 
decent to the point of folly, while your father 
never did a bit for any one but himself/ ses she. 

" And what may your business be with me this 
blessed night? ses he. 

" I just want to amuse myself at your expense/ 
ses she. 

" And why at all? ses he. 

" Well, just because you are the most re 
spected man in the land, and have only a good 
word for every one, and because you have 
always done the right thing and lived an exem 
plary life. In this world most things go by con 
trary. The good must suffer so that the bad 
may have a chance of enjoying themselves. And 
as the good are always worrying about the bad, 
and as the bad never bother their heads about 
the good, and as everything is topsy turvy, tis 
only right and consistent that you should be duly 
punished for your virtues, and^ made to know 
what sorrow means in its widest sense/ ses she. 

" What are you going to do to me? ses he. 

" I m going to turn you into a fish/ ses she. 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 225 

" What kind of a fish? A sprat or a mackerel 
maybe? ses he. 

1(1 No thing so common/ ses she. 

" What, then? ses he. 

" A salmon/ ses she. 

" Thank heavens/ ses he. That same is a 

"Things are never so bad that a woman can t 
make them worse. And things might be much 

" Howsomever/ ses he, I think that tis a 
piece of gross injustice to change me from a re 
spectable man into a fish, moreover when I am 
head and ears in love with King Lir s lovely 
daughter Fionnuala. 

" Lir s lovely daughter was turned into a 
swan last night/ ses she. But tis better to 
have loved and lost inself than to be kept awake 
at night by squalling children who won t thank 
you when they grow up for all you had to endure 
on their account. And who would want to pro 
vide for a large wife and a large family unless he 
might have plenty money/ ses she. 

226 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

"Is it the truth you are telling about the chil 
dren of Lir? ses he. 

""Twill soon be a recorded fact in history/ 
ses she. 

"And as the words fell from her lips, tears 
fell from his eyes, and he wept and wept until 
the water reached his chin, and then with one 
wave of the magic wand he was turned into a 
salmon, but he still continued to weep and weep 
until the waters rose above the highest steeple 
in the town of Laurna, and there he lived swim- 
ing about in his own tears, until I caught him 
when fishing for bream on a summer s evening 
some five and twenty years ago," said Padna. 

"And what did you say to him when he told 
you that yarn?" said Micus. 

"I said that I thought he should have been 
more upset about his own fate than that of Lir s 
lovely daughter. 

" That may be, ses he, but there s no pleasure 
to be got from worrying about yourself. We 
only really enjoy ourselves when we fret and worry 
about those we love. The pleasures of melan- 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 227 

choly are best enjoyed by those who have loved 
and lost and been desired by no one else. And be 
sides/ ses he, the man who has suffered is always 
more interesting and entertaining than the man 
who has not. But at best that is only cold 

" True for you/ ses I. Yet you should have 
received your liberty years and years ago, be 
cause the children of Lir were released from their 
captivity at the dawn of Christianity. The ring 
ing of the first church bell was the signal for their 
release, but when they returned home after their 
wanderings, all their old friends and neighbours 
were dead and gone. Why you should be made 
suffer so much, or any of us, the best and the 
worst, is more than I can comprehend. 

" The devil a one of me can understand it, 
either. None of us know what s before us, be 
cause none of us know what may have been be 
hind us, so to speak. But if I did live before, 
tisn t likely that I was an angel/ ses he. 

" I suppose/ ses I, that none of us can differ 
entiate thoroughly between good and evil. What 

228 The Mayor of Loughlaurna 

one man thinks is right another will think is 
wrong, and while none of us understand the 
other, we can t expect things to be any better 
than they are. If we all thought alike, there 
would be no difference of opinion. And if we all 
agreed about religion and politics, we might have 
the greatest contempt for each other. And unless 
a man is either better or worse than ourselves, 
we don t pay any attention to him at all. 

" True, ses he. 

" We could keep bladdering away like this till 
the leaves fall from the trees, but you have not 
told me yet when the fairy princess said you 
would be released/ ses I. 

" When a woman can be found who don t 
want to get her photo taken, or see herself in a 
mirror, or want to read her husband s letters, or 
search his pockets, and when the Germans will 
get to Paris, ses he. 

" You had better go back to the Lough/ ses I. 

" I will/ ses he, because I am getting thirsty 
as well as homesick. 

"And with that he shook hands with me, bid 

The Mayor of Loughlaurna 229 

me good-by, and jumped into the waters, and 
that was the last I saw of the Mayor of Lough 

"There s no place like home," said Micus. 
"No," said Padna. 

The Land of Peace 
and Plenty 

AH, God help us, but tis a bad night 
for poor sailors," said Padna Dan, as 
he pulled his chair close to the glow 
ing hearth where faggots blazed and a kettle 
sang. "The strand will be strewn with wreckage 
to-morrow, and there will be more widows and 
lonely mothers in the world than ever there was 
before, and all because the winds have no mercy, 
and the sea has no mercy, and there s no mercy 
anywhere but in the heart of God. There s a 
peal of thunder now, and if the clouds burst and 
the rain comes, there won t be a sheaf of corn left 
standing in Castlebawn to-morrow." 

"There will, please God," said Micus, as he 
stirred the fire. 

" Tis like you to have the good word," said 


Land of Peace and Plenty 231 

Padna, "but I m sick and tired of this country 
altogether. When we have a fine summer we 
have a bad autumn, and when we have a good 
spring we have a wet summer, and when we have 
a hard winter we have nothing at all. I can t 
understand these things. Ton my word, I can t." 

"No, nor any one else, either," said Micus. 
"How is it that decent fathers and mothers rear 
worthless children, and worthless children rear 
decent fathers and mothers? Or how is it that 
grass grows in the fields, and the lark sings in the 
sky, and the trees lose their leaves in winter? 
Or how is it that the world isn t under water 
long ago after all the rain we ve had since Crom 
well went to hell? Or how is it that people will 
spend half their lifetime educating themselves, 
and then go to war and kill people they had no 
quarrel with at all?" 

"Didn t I tell you I can t understand these 
things?" said Padna, rather piqued. "Sure if 
I could, I d be a philosopher, and if I was a 
philosopher, I wouldn t have to worry about 

232 Land of Peace and Plenty 

"And why?" said Micus. 

"Because philosophers are people with easy 
minds and usually they have all they want." 

"And what s a pessimist?" said Micus. 

"A pessimist is a philosopher before he gets a 
good job," answered Padna. 

"And what am I then?" 

"What are you? You re a philosopher, of 


"Bedad, I suppose I am," said Micus. "It takes 
all kinds of people to make a world, anyway." 

"It does," said Padna. "Philosophers, pessi 
mists, suffragettes, and policemen." 

"The world is a strange place." 

"Indeed it is, and a beautiful place, when you 
haven t to work for a living." 

"And life is a strange thing." 

"Life is a wonderful thing, a queer and be 
wildering thing, but a magnificent thing withal, 
when you re not married." 

" Tis, but no one makes the most of it. Some 
make it short by trying to make it long, and 
others make it long by trying to make it short." 

Land of Peace and Plenty 233 

"Suicide is a cowardly thing if you re married, 
and a brave thing if you re not, but there s 
nothing worse than selfishness, except being an 
Orangeman. They re more proud than the pea 
cocks themselves, and no one would bother with 
peacocks only for their fine feathers." 

"I never ate peacocks," said Micus, "but I d 
rather a good piece of bacon and cabbage than the 
finest turkey that was ever killed, cooked, and 

"Good green cabbage is a wholesome thing 
and bacon is better, but when a man has neither? 
there s nothing like a good smoke." 

"That s the worst of this country," said Micus. 
"Some things are better than others, and a little 
of anything only gives you an appetite for more, 
and too much is as bad as too little. Too little 
makes one peevish and selfish, and too much 
makes one foolish. When you re happy, you 
start thinking about the days of sorrow and 
mourning you had, and when you re unhappy 
you start thinking about the days of joy and 
pleasure, and no matter what way you are, you 

234 Land of Peace and Plenty 

want to be some other way. Sure this is no place 
for a man to live, if he wants to enjoy himself." 

"And where would you live if not in your 
native land? The savage loves his native heath." 

"I know he does, but the real estate men love 
it better, and that s why land is so dear in 
America. The Land of Peace and Plenty is the 
only place to live." 

"The Land of Peace and Plenty! Where s 

"Oh! tis leagues and leagues and leagues from 
anywhere you know." 

"And how did you get there?" 

."In a ship, of course. When I was a boy, I 
sailed over the ocean for six months without 
rinding a single night, nothing but days all the 
time, until you forgot what darkness was like. 
Well, one night at twelve o clock, though twas 
broad daylight, mind you, one of our crew, 
Martin O Farrell, was playing The Boys of 
Wexford on a gadget, when lo and behold! a sea 
serpent puts his head out of the waters and ses: 
Bravo, Martin, ses he. That s the finest tune 

Land of Peace and Plenty 235 

in all the world, but play me a four-hand reel/ 
ses he, "The Kerryman s Daughter," for choice, 
and I ll dance for you until old Ireland is free/ 
And Martin started to play The Kerryman s 
Daughter and the sea serpent started to dance, 
and he kicked up such a devil of a row, and lashed 
and splashed the waters until our ship got tossed 
about so badly that she finally foundered, and 
not a soul was saved but myself." 

"And how did you save yourself?" 

"Well, when I saw the way things were, I 
thought to myself that there was trouble ahead, 
so I lashed a knife to each of my feet, and one on 
each of my hands, the way you d see fins on a 
fish. I put three on my back and so many on my 
head that you d think I was a porcupine, and 
when I looked to the west, I saw land about two 
or three hundred miles away. Fortune favors 
the brave as well as the foolish, ses I, and then I 
started out for the shore." 

"You did, is it?" 

"If I didn t, how could I be telling you all about 
it? Well, the sea was alive with hungry sharks, 

236 Land of Peace and Plenty 

but every time one swallowed me up, I cut my 
way through and escaped, only to be swallowed 
again, but even that had its advantages. I was 
carried nearer the shore each time, until finally I 
reached terra firma, as safe and as sound as a 

"How many sharks did you kill?" 

"Just enough to teach the others how to be 
have themselves." 

"And when you reached the shore, what did 
you do?" 

"I dried my clothes on the hot sand, shaved 
myself with one of the knives I had on my head, 
and used a pool of water for a looking glass, and 
when I combed my hair, every lady in the land 
fell in love with me, but I only fell in love with 


"And what kind was she?" asked Padna. 

"She was a lady of great beauty," said Micus, 
"and as she passed by she looked into my eyes, 
and though I might live for ten thousand years 
I will never forget her. Sure no words that ever 
were spoken could describe her queenly gait and 

Land of Peace and Plenty 237 

inspiring glances. She seemed to have come from 
some place not yet discovered by man, and looked 
as lonesome and as beautiful as a lily in a cabbage 

"And why did you not follow her and find out 
something about her?" 

"Ah me, sure she disappeared for ever, before 
I could find any word at all to say. I have seen 
other beautiful women, but they had only the 
beauty of flowers which fade and die. But her 
beauty was the beauty which lives and never dies." 

"I suppose it must be that same thing which 
all the people does be talking about, but don t 
know what it is at all, at all." 

"Sure if you knew all about anything, you 
wouldn t be talking about it." 

"That s true." 

"Love is the most beautiful thing in all the 
world, and it isn t so much anything else as a 
divine state of mind." 

"So twas in the Land of Peace and Plenty that 
you fell in love with a beauty who came into your 
life for a moment and went out of it for ever?" 

238 Land of Peace and Plenty 

"Yes," said Micus. 

"An that s why you ve remained an old bache 
lor, was it?" 

"That s the one and only reason." 

"I am sorry for you," said Padna. 

"You needn t be sorry," said Micus. "If a 
bachelor has sorrows, he has joys as well, and 
tis better to keep what you have than to lose 
what you haven t." 

"How could you lose what you haven t?" 

"Well, you might get it if you tried hard 
enough, and then only find discontent and dis 

"I d like to go to the Land of Peace and Plenty. 
It must be a wonderful place." 

"A wonderful place it is, then, surely, and nearly 
as wonderful as the sun itself." 

"When the earth goes too near the sun it is 
too hot, and when it goes too far away from the 
sun it is too cold, but in the Land of Peace and 
Plenty, I suppose it must be always beautiful." 

"Indeed and it is." 

"What do all the people do there?" 

Land of Peace and Plenty 239 

"In the Land of Peace and Plenty, nobody does 
anything but enjoy themselves." 

"And if the Land of Peace and Plenty is such 
a wonderful place, how is it that the great pow 
ers of the world don t go to war for it?" asked 

"Sure they did go to war for it long before 
you began to make mistakes," answered Micus, 
"and great battles were fought there too. And 
after the greatest battle of all was ended, the 
King ses to all the High Generals: Fellow war 
riors and likewise courageous omadhauns, ses 
he, what are we fighting for, anyway? The world 
is large enough for us all, and there s enough of 
dead men already, and those that aren t dead 
are alive, and those that are alive are nearly 
dead, but all the same, ses he, I must compli" 
ment you on the magnificent way you slaughtered 
my fellow countrymen and your own fellow men, 
though why you did so, or wanted to do so, God 
alone knows. " 

"Every man is entitled to as much enjoyment 
as he can afford," said Padna. "Sorrow is the 

240 Land of Peace and Plenty 

price of pleasure, and the sport of nations is the 
curse of mankind. " 

"We won t discuss international politics. The 
world was best when people left others to mind 
their own business." 

"Proceed about the King of the Land of Peace 
and Plenty," said Padna. "Interruptions and di 
gressions are bad unless they re for one s good." 

"That s true, but half a loaf is better than no 
bread when a man isn t hungry." 

"Two heads are better than one," said Padna, 
"and two fools, if they are any way sensible at 
all, are better than a wife with a bad temper. 
But comparisons are odious, as the whale said to 
the grasshopper. Go on with your story." 

"Well, the King ses to the Generals, after they 
had all for.gotten what he first started talking 
about: I demand, ses he, in the name of jus 
tice, common sense, and humanity, that we will 
be allowed time to bury our dead, and that there 
will be no thunderous cannonading of artillery, 
no charges of cavalry, infantry, nor anything else 
that might be a breach of the etiquette of war, 

Land of Peace and Plenty 241 

until our last man is buried. And then and there 
the Generals agreed, and from that day to this, 
there was never a sound, except of music, heard 
in the Land of Peace and Plenty." 

"I don t quite understand," said Padna. 

"Well," said Micus, "don t you see, when the 
last man was buried, some one else died, and as 
there will be always some one dying, there will be 
always some one to be buried in the Land of 
Peace and Plenty." 

"All the water is boiled out of the kettle," 
said Padna. 

"There s plenty more in the well," said Micus. 

The Linnet with the 
Crown of Gold 

WHAT S troubling you at all? You re 
not looking yourself to-day," said 
Padna Dan to his friend Micus Pat, 
as he cut a switch from a blackthorn tree on the 
road to Mallow on a May morning. 

" There s many a thing that troubles a man 
that he doesn t like to talk about," said Micus, 
"and many a thing that he talks about that 
doesn t trouble him at all." 

"Maybe some one died who owed you money," 
said Padna. 

"Well, as you seem to be anxious to know, it 
was the way that some one died, but the devil a 
ha penny did he owe me, no more than yourself 
or the Pope of Rome," said Micus. 

"Was he a member of the Royal Family then, 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 243 

or some one born with a silver spoon in his mouth, 
and no more brains in his head than you d find 
with a sparrow? " 

"He was no way connected with royalty or 
the aristocracy, but a decent man who always 
worked for a living, one Lareen, the birdcatcher 
from Duhallow." 

"And what s the use fretting about any one 
who is dead and gone? Sure we must all die, 
and maybe there will be no one fretting about 

"There is some truth in that, but we can t 
always be as philosophic as we pretend to be." 

"And was Lareen of such importance that you 
can t forget him, now that he s gone to his reward 
or his deserts, as the case may be?" 

"Well," said Micus, "Lareen was a Murphy 
on his father s side and a Cassidy on his mother s, 
and both families were noted the world over for 
their love of sport, black pudding, and fresh drish- 
eens. And Lareen, like his father and grandfather, 
was a birdcatcher by nature and a shoemaker by 
profession, and he always made boots and shoes 

244 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

for the parish priest and the minister, and he 
used to collect the money at the chapel door on 
Sundays. There was no man in the seven parishes 
who could blow the organ for vespers better than 
himself, but the devil a bit he ever got for all he 
did for others, except that he contracted rheu 
matics from walking in the rain while attending 
funerals of the poor. However, that same had 
its compensations, because it helped him to re 
member that he wasn t long for this life, and that 
he had a soul to save and a wife and family to 
support. But to go on with my story. One fine 
morning, as I was reading the newspaper that I 
got the lend of from the public house opposite 
the pump at the bend of the road, who should 
come into the house but Lareen himself, and 
there and then he up and ses: Good morning, 
Micus, ses he. 

"Good morning kindly, Lareen/ ses I. 
What s the good word? 

" Nothing in particular, ses he. 

" Have you no news at all? ses I. 

"Yes, I have a little, ses he. 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 245 

" I d like to hear it then/ ses I. 

" Very well/ ses he. The King of Morocco 
has a corn on his big toe, and he sent to the 
United States for a specialist to remove it. 

" Is that so? ses I. Sure twould be as cheap 
to send to London or Dublin or Cork itself for a 
specialist as the United States/ ses I. An opera 
tion like that will cost him a lot of money, any 
way, but what matter? He don t have to earn it, 
and the more he spends, the more respectable the 
people will think he is. But nevertheless twould 
be cheaper for him to cut a piece out of his boot, 
or cut his toe off altogether, than to send to 
America for a doctor. 

" True/ ses he, and if we were all to charge 
as much for the little we do as the doctors and 
the specialists, tis the way that we might make 
bankrupts of each other overnight, and as a con 
sequence we might all die of want and privation. 

"That s very true indeed, but is that all the 
news you have for me? ses I. 

"Well, not exactly/ ses he. There was a 
man shot in Russia last week, the Grand Duke 

246 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

of Ballybrophy went to America to be lionized 
by the republicans and democrats, a kangaroo 
died in Australia, the King of Italy bought a 
new hat, and Queen Victoria gave a shilling for 
the relief of the poor of Ireland/ 

1 "And tell me, ses I, is it all to be given to the 

" No, ses he, "tis to be equally divided among 
the poor of all classes. 

" I m glad to hear that, ses I, because it 
denotes a fine, broad-minded, and generous spirit. 
But what pleases me more than anything else is 
that she has not forgotten that Ireland is still on 
the map. 

"Why, ses he, Ireland will never be for 
gotten while there is money to be made at politics 
in America, and politics, they say, is the most 
popular religion in the United States. 

" And was it to tell me what I know already 
that brought you here? 

" No, ses he. I wanted to tell you that I 
dreamt of my mother s people last night, and 
that always brings me good luck. So as tis a 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 247 

fine hard frosty day, I d like to go birdcatching 
in Fingal s Glen, and catch a dozen linnets, half 
a dozen finches, and maybe a couple of blackbirds 
and thrushes. But I haven t the makings of a 
sprig of birdlime, or a crib, or a good singing 
bird to bring with me, ses he. 

" If that is all that s troubling you, ses I, you 
have no longer any cause to worry. I ll give you 
the box of birdlime that the bishop himself made 
me a present of last Easter, and I ll give you the 
loan of the best singing bird I have in the house, 
a linnet that would put a nightingale or a prima 
donna to shame, ses I. 

"And with that I handed him the box of 
birdlime that was made by the best cobbler in 
Antrim, and I took down the linnet cage from 
over the half door, and gave him that also. 

"And then ses I, Go your way and may God 
bless you, and if you can t catch birds with my 
linnet and the bishop s birdlime, you might as 
well go to America and try and convince the 
Irish-Americans that they are not a bit better 
than the Irish at home. 

248 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

"Wisha, bad luck to their impudence/ ses he. 
What do they know about the Irish at home? 

" The devil a hap orth, ses I. And then he 
put the cage under his arm and ses: I wish I 
knew how to thank you for all your kindness, 
and now I will trouble you for the loan of your 
topcoat, the fillings of a pipe, and a box of matches. 
For tis frozen with the cold I ll be, standing be 
hind a furze bush waiting for a flock of linnets 
to rise, so that I may throw myself down on my 
face and hands on the wet grass, the way they 
wouldn t see me at all, ses he. 

" A good birdcatcher, ses I, will always find 
a place where he will be able to hide without 
throwing himself down on the wet grass or soft 
earth. However, you are welcome to the loan 
of my old coat, and I will make you a present of 
a plug of tobacco and a box of matches. 

"So after he put on the coat, he walked away 
with his May the Lord spare and protect you 
all the days of your life, and a week passed 
before he returned. I was eating my breakfast 
when he called, and as he pushed open the half 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 249 

door with his God bless all here/ I up and ses: 
1 What luck? ses I. 

lii Don t talk to me about luck/ ses he, as he 
placed the overcoat, the box of birdlime, and the 
cage on a chair beside him. I m the happiest 
man alive/ ses he. 

" I m sorry to hear that/ ses I. 

"And why, might I ask? ses he. 

"Well/ ses I, "tis only selfish people who 
can be really happy. Howsomever, let me hear 
what you have to say. 

" I caught a linnet with a crown of gold/ 
ses he. 

" You did! ses I. 

"Yes, I did/ ses he. 

" There must be a finch or a canary in the 
family then/ ses I. 

" Maybe both/ ses he. 

" How does he sing? ses I. 

" Sing! ses he. Why, he never stops singing 
at all, only when the twilight fades and the dark 
ness comes from east and west, and north and 
south, and the blackness of the night covers up 

250 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

the hills and the valleys, the trees and the rivers, 
and the streams and the houses themselves/ 
ses he. 

" He must be a wonder/ ses I. 

A wonder he is surely/ ses he. He starts at 
five o clock in the morning and sings all day/ 

" If that s so/ ses I, Til be outside your door 
with my ear to the keyhole at quarter to five, so 
that I can t miss the first note to break the 
silence and tell us that day is come. 

" And herself is going to stay up all night, 
lest she might miss even the flutter of his wings, 
when he wakes from his sleep/ ses Lareen. 

"Well, when the morrow came, I was at La- 
reen s door at the peep o day, listening to the 
sweetest music that was ever heard in town or 
city, in lonely glen or by the cobbled seashore 
when the storm does be raging and huge breakers 
dash themselves to pieces on the treacherous 
rocks. Wonderful indeed was the song of the 
linnet with the crown of gold, and musicians 
came from all parts of the world to hear him, and 
all listened with great attention and took down in 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 251 

a book each note as he uttered it. And when 
they returned home, they made operas, oratorios, 
and symphonies from the melodies they heard 
in Lareen s kitchen. And selections were made 
for the violin, cello, and organ, and played at 
classical concerts where the well-fed fashionable 
people, who have no more love for art or music 
than a tinker s donkey, pay for being bored to 
death. And thus it was that the fame of La 
reen s linnet grew until the King of Spain heard 
all about him, and immediately he sailed away 
from the shores of his native country with more 
money in his pocket than all the kings of Europe 
could earn in ten thousand years. And when, 
after a weary journey, he found himself seated by 
the fire talking to Lareen, all of a sudden he up 
and ses: Lareen, ses he, I ll give you a golden 
guinea for every mistake you have made since 
you came to the use of reason, if you will give me 
the linnet with the crown of gold, ses he. 

" And did you accept his offer? ses I. 

" No, I did not/ ses he. 

" You damn fool, ses I. Sure, if you only 

252 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

got a half sovereign inself for every mistake you 
made since you were born, you would have been 
made a millionaire on the spot. 

" And how do you know I have made so many 
mistakes? ses he. 

"Why, you omadhaun, ses I, don t you know 
as yet that nearly everything we do is some kind 
of a mistake or other, but we don t know it until 
we are told so by some one else? 

"I do not, ses he. And I am just as well 
pleased that I don t. 

" And what did the king say when he heard 
your refusal? ses I. 

"He took out his handkerchief and began to 
cry, and then ses he: I will give you your choice 
of a wife, and I will give you your own way as 
long as you can stand it, if you will give me the 
linnet, and I will make you a Knight of the Spade 
and Turnip besides. 

"Thank you kindly, ses Lareen. But, not 
for all the women that ever made fools of their 
husbands would I part with the linnet with the 
crown of gold. 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 253 

"So the king sailed away that night with sad 
ness in his heart and tears in his eyes, and twas 
said that he was never heard whistling anything 
till the day he died but the song of the linnet 
with the crown of gold. 

"And then the King of Prussia came and ses 
to Lareen: l There s going to be a great war one 
day/ ses he, and if you will give me the linnet 
with the golden crown, I will give you half 
of France, the whole of Belgium, and maybe 
the Tower of London as well, when the war is 

" Don t count your chickens before they are 
hatched, ses Lareen, and remember the gentle 
man who went to live on St. Helena after the 
battle of Waterloo. 

" Oh, the spalpeen! ses he. He was bound 
to be caught anyway, because he overestimated 
his own importance. 

" Just like a good many more people who don t 
know it, ses Lareen. 

" So you won t give me the linnet? ses the 

254 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

" No, ses Lareen. And with that the king 
shook his head and went his way. 

"The next to come was the King of Japan. 
And he up and ses: There s going to be great 
ructions on the other side of the Atlantic another 
day, and if you will give me the linnet with the 
golden crown, I will give you your choice of New 
York or Boston when the war is over. 

" And how are you going to land an army, 
might I ask? ses Lareen. 

" With the aid of the navy/ ses the king, with 
a smile. 

" Bedad, I wonder if that ever occurred to 
America, ses Lareen. 

"I don t know, and what s more, I don t care/ 
ses the king. 

" There s too much old talk about peace, I m 
thinking/ ses Lareen. 

"That s so/ ses the king. And talk by itself 
never did anything. Why, man alive, there is no 
such thing as peace in the world. The very people 
who advocate peace are always at cross-purposes 
with some one else. Sure every thing that s 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 255 

alive fights, from the fish in the sea to the birds 
of the air, and those who are not prepared always 
gets the worst of it. A man with a gun is better 
than a man with a blackthorn stick in his fist 
at any time, even though he might be an Irish 
man insetf, ses he. 

" And a small dog often leathered the devil 
out of a large dog when he caught him unawares/ 
ses Lareen. 

" Now you re talking sense/ ses the King. 
And tis only after a fight that you can tell who 
is the better man. Life itself is a fight from begin 
ning to end, and when we cease fighting, well/ 
ses he, that s the end of us. But be all that as it 
may, what about giving me the linnet? 

"I wouldn t part with him/ ses Lareen, for 
all the money in the world. 

"Well/ ses the King, "tis a great pity that 
you don t know you are so foolish. And with 
that he put on his hat, curled his moustache, and 
walked out the door. 

"And every day brought some mighty monarch 
or other to Lareen s cottage, and each and every 

256 Linnet with the Crown of Gold 

one tried their very best to persuade him to part 
with the linnet, but they all went as they came, 
because Lareen was determined that he would 
never part with him until the day of his death." 

"And what happened in the end?" said Padna. 

"One day, after the King of the Bally alien 
Islands came and offered all his wealth and pos 
sessions for the loan of the linnet to entertain 
some of his wife s people at the Royal Palace 
during the Christmas holidays, a large grey cat 
from the police sergeant s house across the road 
tumbled the cage from the wall, opened the door, 
and golloped up the linnet, with less ceremony 
than if he was a mouse or a cockroach." 

"And what happened then?" 

"Lareen killed the cat and made a fur cap with 
its skin and sent it to the Czar of Russia to re 
mind him to be kind to the poor musicians, be 
cause there s nothing finer in the country than 
its music, except its literature, of course," said 

"Lareen was a fool not to sell the linnet when 
he got the first good offer. Any man who leaves 

Linnet with the Crown of Gold 257 

opportunity slip between his fingers, so to speak, 
is a fool, and the man who doesn t know what 
he likes is the greatest fool of all. Ton my word, 
I don t know what to think of half the people I 
hear about," said Padna. 

"Neither do I, but while the song of a bird 
and a sense of duty means more for some than 
either money or glory, there s hope for the world," 
said Micus. 

" Bedad, I don t doubt but there is," said Padna. 

The Man with the 
IVooden Leg 

A MAN who loves nature and lives near 
the country need never be lonesome," 
said Micus Pat to his friend Padna 
Dan, as they strolled along a mountain road near 
the southwestern coast. 

"That s very true," said Padna. "And if 
a man owes a lot of money, he has the conso 
lation of knowing that he will not easily be 

"Like every other man of poetic temperament, 
I think more about the glories of nature, for they 
are both inspiring and incomprehensible, than 
about what I owe, or the people who were good 
enough to oblige me with the loan of money," 
said Micus. 

" Tis real decent of you to say so, and you 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 259 

such a judge of everything but your own idiosyn 
crasies," said Padna. 

"Look around and about you," said Micus, 
"from the north to the south, and from the east 
to the west, and from the west again back to 
the east, and from the south again to the north, 
and if you are not impressed with the wonder 
and grandeur with which you are surrounded, 
you might as well give up your life to reading the 
newspapers and talking politics at the street 

"Beauty confronts us at every turn. The 
saffron moon peeps through the vista of pines 
on the distant hills, the sky is all ablaze with 
twinkling stars, and not a sound is heard except 
that of my own voice, and the creak of a toad 
in the rushes," said Padna. 

"I can hear, or I seem to hear," said Micus, 
"the rippling of a brook as it joins the Owena- 
curra on its way to the sea, and it is the sweetest 
of all music, because it is of nature s own making, 
and more soothing to a troubled mind or a weary 
spirit than all the melodies made by man." 

260 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

"I hear no sound but my own voice/ said 

"Put your ear to the ground, and if you are 
not deaf you will hear the maddening rush of the 
brook and the low murmuring of the Owena- 
curra and the heart of the world itself beating," 
said Micus. 

"I will, then/ said Padna, as he put his ear 
to the ground. 

"Well," said Micus, "do you hear any 

"I hear the pulse of the earth." 

"Isn t it wonderful?" 

"Tis wonderful, surely." 

"I knew you d like it." 

"Sure tis myself always loves to walk alone 
by the seashore when the world does be sleeping, 
and listen to the melancholy cry of the sea lark 
and the curlew, and the soft splash of the waves 
against the boulders on the beach on a dark 
night without any light at all, except maybe the 
flash from the lightship, or the glow from the 
binnacle lamp of some passing vessel, and she 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 261 

sailing over the seas with a cargo of groundsel 
for the Emperor of Japan s linnets. There s an 
eeriness about the night that creates an atmos 
phere of poetry and mystery, the like of which 
we never experience in the most glorious sunshine, 
even when we might be in love itself, and listen 
ing to the silvery speech of the most beautiful 
woman in all the land," said Padna. 

"When a man is listening to the silvery speech 
of some lovely woman, he never knows how ex 
pensive tis going to be for him afterwards." 

"The silvery speech of women is a magnificent 
thing, but their golden silence is a more magnifi 
cent thing still." 

"That s true indeed, but let us forget all about 
the contrary creatures for a little while, and I 
will tell you a story that the Emperor of Russia 
would give his two thumbs and two little fingers 
to hear." 

"And what is it all about?" said Padna. 

" Tis the story of a man with a wooden leg," 
said Micus. 

"Begin," said Padna. 

262 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

"Well," said Micus, as he filled his pipe, "as 
I was sauntering home the other night, I dropped 
into the Half Way House to get a toothful of 
something to keep out the cold, when lo and 
behold ! who should come in and flop down beside 
me but a one-legged sailor and he minus an eye 
as well, and no more hair on his head than you d 
find on a yellow turnip. He was the first to speak, 
and he up and ses: Good night, stranger/ ses 
he, as he poked the fire with his wooden leg, and 
lit his pipe with a piece of his old straw hat. 

" Good night kindly, ses I. 

""Tis a cold kind of night, ses he. 

" The devil of a cold night entirely, ses I. 

""Tis indeed, ses he, and a bad night for a 
poor man who has neither friends nor relations, 
or one to bother their heads about him, or even 
the price of a drink inself. 

" If tis a drink you want, ses I, all you have 
to do is to call for it, and I will pay. What will 
you have? ses I. 

"I ll take all I can get for nothing, and give 
as little as I can help in return. I m a capitalist 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 263 

by temperament, but poor because I didn t get 
a chance of exercising my talents, ses he. 

"I suppose you wouldn t say no to a glass of 
whiskey, ses I. 

" I d say no to nothing except a black eye/ 
ses he. 

" You couldn t afford to have an eye black 
ened, when you have only one good eye already/ 
ses I. And then and there I treated him to two 
glasses of whiskey, and when he had them swal 
lowed, I up and ses: How did you lose your 
lamp? 7 meaning his eye, of course. 

" In a duel with the King of Spain/ ses he. 

"Glory be to the Lord! ses I. All over a 
woman, I presume? 

" Of course/ ses he. And then the salt tears 
flowed down his sunken cheeks and formed a 
pool on the floor. 

" Tell me/ ses I, was she a very handsome 

" She was the most beautiful woman in all 
the world/ ses he, except my seventh wife, who 
was more beautiful than Venus, herself. 

264 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

" And what happened to your seventh wife? 7 
ses I. 

" Oh, she was too fond of her own people, and 
they got her to do all their washing and scrubbing, 
and never gave her a moment s rest until they 
killed her with hard work. And then the devil 
blast the one of them came to the funeral, and 
twas strangers that lowered her into the grave, 
and no one but myself and the clergyman said 
a prayer for the repose of her soul, ses he. 

" She was too good to be remembered, I sup 
pose, ses I. 

u She was, God help us, ses he. But my 
ninth wife wasn t either a Venus or a Helen of 
Troy. She was so ugly that one day when we 
were going over a bridge, the river stopped, and 
didn t begin to flow again until she left the 

" You had a lot of wives/ ses I. 

" Yes, I had a few, but tis a mistake to marry 
more than ten or twelve times, ses he. 

"Well, when I saw that his grief was getting 
the better of him, I ses: Let us not talk any 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 265 

more about your eye, but tell me how you lost 
your leg, and I ll give you another glass of grog. 

" I never told that story to any one for less 
than three glasses of grog and a small bottle of 
rum to bring home with me for the morning, 
except one time I told it to the Shah of Persia 
for nothing, when he promised me the hand of his 
favourite daughter in marriage. 7 

" Tell me the story, whatever twill cost/ ses I. 

" All right/ ses he. And then he moved closer 
to the fire, and this is what he told: 

" It was a cold and stormy night in the long 
long ago. The thunder rolled and the lightning 
flashed and the rain fell down in torrents. I was 
aboard ship in the middle of the ocean; the stars 
and moon were screened and not a light was seen 
except a glimmer from the port side of another 
vessel labouring in the storm. Peal after peal of 
thunder resounded until one thought that the 
gods of war on all the other planets had gone mad, 
and were discharging their heavy artillery at the 
earth, trying to shatter it to atoms. The canvas 

266 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

was torn from the yards, and spar after spar fell, 
until nothing but the masts remained. 

And as the storm grew in intensity, the ship 
lurched and the masts themselves fell, and 
crashed through her as though she was only 
made of matchwood; and in their fall they killed 
as many as five and twenty men at a time. 
And as the last mast made splinters of the 
deck house, the good ship Nora Crena sank 
beneath the waves never to rise again. 

l Not a soul was saved but myself, and in those 
days I was a great swimmer, and I swam and 
swam until I found a piece of floating wreckage, 
and clung to it the way you d see a barnacle 
clinging to the rocks. I remained that way for 
three days and three nights, without a bit to eat 
or anything to read, and nothing to drink but salt 
water. And sure I need not tell you that the 
more you d drink of that, the more thirsty you d 

"Well, at the end of the third night, I was 
^ast up on a little bit of a rock no larger than a 
stepmother s supper, and while I was wondering 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 267 

how I could get a bit to eat or reach the shore in 
safety, a large fish about the size of a shark, but 
much more refined and respectable looking, came 
up from the depths of the sea, and as he came 
ashore and sat beside me, he up and ses: "God 
bless all here," ses he. 

" "And you too," ses I. 

"How are you feeling to-day?" ses he. 

"A good deal worse than yesterday," ses I. 
" Can t you see, you foolish omadhaun, that I am 
all dripping wet from being saturated in the waters 
of the briny deep, for this last three days and 
nights? " 

"" That s nothing at all," ses he. "How 
would you like to be dripping wet like myself for 
twenty years or more?" 

" " Are you as old as all that? " ses I. 

"Every day of it, if not more. My poor 
mother, God help her, had all our birthdays 
written down in a book, and she had us all called 
after the saints of America. Originality was a 
weakness with her, but now she s dead and gone, 
more s the pity! " ses he. 

268 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

"What did she die of?" ses I. "Too much 
old talk, maybe." 

"She didn t die a natural death at all, but 
was caught in a net and sold to a fishmonger, 
the same as everyone belonging to me, both 
young and old, and the list includes aunts and 
uncles, first and second cousins, fathers-in-law 
and mothers-in-law, and they the first blight on a 
man s happiness. And here I am now," ses he, 
"and I a poor orphan and the last of my name 
and race." And then the tears began to come 
to his eyes, and when he had stopped weeping 
he up and ses: "Do you know," ses he, "that 
I m a misanthrope?" 

"I m not a bit surprised at that," ses I, 
"if, as you say, all belonging to you were philan 
thropists, and gave up their lives for the sustenance 
and maintenance of the people in the great world 
beyond. Indiscriminate philanthropy like that 
would make a pessimist of any one. Howsomever, 
things might be better or worse. You might have 
been caught in a net yourself, and sold to a family 
of tinkers, and I m sure all your relations wouldn t 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 269 

bother their heads about you, or care whether 
you were boiled or fried. They would logically 
conclude that as they were so numerous, they 
could afford to lose at least one of the family," 
ses I. 

" "About that I haven t the remotest doubt," 
ses he. "But what I can t understand is why 
some women will marry their husbands so that 
they can help their own sisters or brothers 
children, as the case may be." 

"Well," ses I, "once women arrive at the 
age of indiscretion, there s no use trying to under 
stand them." 

"Of course," ses he, "the great trouble with 
women, I m thinking, is that they don t under 
stand themselves or any one else, either." 

"Be all that and more as it may," ses I, 
"even the most foolish women are well able 
to look after themselves. But old talk like 
this would never get me home. And unless you 
will take me on your back and swim with me 
to the shore, tis the way I ll be after dying both 
from cold and starvation." 

270 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

" There was many a better man died from 
hunger," ses he. " And better men have died from 
believing all their wives told them. Howsomever, 
I will take you to the shore on one condition." 
" "And what may that be? a " ses I. 

"Well," ses he, "you must promise that you 
will never again taste a piece of fish while you 

"Why, that s an easy matter," says I. 
"Sure, of course, I ll promise you that much, 
or as much more if you like." 

" "That s just like a coward," ses he. "A 
coward would promise anything to save his skin, 
and make a promise as quickly as he d break 

"I don t see for the life of me why you 
won t take the word of a decent man," ses I. 

"Wisha, who told you that you were 
decent?" ses he. "Can t I see and tell what 
you are by the shifty look in your eye. To be 
candid, I wouldn t trust you as far as I d throw 
you, and you with two ferrety eyes, and they 
so close together that only a rogue, a thief, a 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 271 

bla guard, or a bully could own them, and one 
of them blind at that." 

" If you only knew how I lost that winker," 
ses I, " tis the way you d be taking off your hat 
to me, and shaking hands with yourself for hav 
ing met the likes of me." 

" "God knows," ses he, "there s no limit to 
the conceit of some and the ignorance of others. 
I have eaten my dinner off men and women too, 
that wouldn t recognise you at a dog fight. There 
was the King of Himyumhama and his royal 
daughters, for instance, who were drowned in 
the Skidderymackthomas. And there were two 
American millionaires besides, and they as 
tender and as nourishing as a boiled chicken or a 
porterhouse steak." 

"I bet you," ses I, "that you never ate 
Irish stew." 

" And who the devil would want to eat Irish 
stew but the Chinese? Sure the Irish themselves 
never eat it. However," ses he, "there s no use 
trying to convince me against my will. I m a 
man of fixed ideas, and people with fixed ideas 

272 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

are nearly as impossible as women. Nevertheless, 
I suppose you are anxious to get to the shore, and 
for that I don t blame you. Like us all, you carry 
your character in your face, and I won t lose much 
by parting company with you. I m sorry all the 
same that you haven t an honest countenance, 
because a face like yours would do you no more 
good among decent people than letters of intro 
duction in the United States of America, and they 
are no more use to any one than the measles or 
the whooping cough." 

" "Well," ses I, "don t you think you are 
talking too much and doing too little? " 

" That may be. Sure, my poor father always 
told me I d make a good politician. Howsomever, 
sit up on my back, and I ll bring you safe and 
sound to the shore." And without waiting to say 
as much as thank you, or anything else, I jumped 
on his back, and he swam for a few hundred 
yards, but, lo and behold you ! all of a sudden he 
stopped and turned around to me and ses: "Do 
you know what?" ses he. "I m losing confidence 
in you." 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 273 

" Indeed, then, is that so?" ses I. 
" "Yes, it is then," ses he, "and the little 
bit of respect I had for you in the beginning 
is nearly all gone." 

" Is there any way by which I can inspire 
confidence in you, at all?" ses I. 

"I don t believe there is," ses he. "I m a 
patriot and want to do something for the race, 
besides making speeches about the achievements 
of my ancestors and getting well paid for my 
pains, and getting all my children and relations 
good jobs as well." 

"And what is it you want to do, at all?" 
ses I. 

"I want to make sure," ses he, "that you 

will keep your promise never to eat fish again." 

(i i (t T . n i ,, T 

I will keep my promise, ses I. 

"I don t believe a word of it," ses he. 
"There s nobody forgotten sooner than a good 
friend. But I ll make sure that you will remem 
ber me, as the traveling salesman said to the 
landlady, when he ran away without paying for 
his board and lodging." 

274 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

c Tis true," ses I, "that we forget our 
friends when they cease to be an advantage to 
us, and equally true that we lose respect for our 
enemies when they cease to torment and perse 
cute us, but all the same I can t see why you 
won t finish your job, considering the good start 
you have made." 

"I never pay any attention to flattery," ses 
he. "But whist. I have an idea! I suppose you 
often heard tell of the law of compensation?" 

"Many and many a time," ses I. 

"All right then!" ses he. "You know, of 
course, that we must pay a price for everything 
we get in this life, and some, they say, pay in the 
other world as well. That being so, then you 
must pay for your passage to the shore. And as I 
haven t had my breakfast yet, I think you couldn t 
do better than forfeit one of your legs, and in that 
way you would serve the double purpose of pay 
ing for your journey and helping me to appease 
the pangs of hunger. And, besides, you will be 
sure to remember me, and tis a matter for your 
self whether you will keep your promise or not." 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 275 

And then and there he did a double somersault, 
and I fell into the water, and before I had realized 
what had happened, my leg was bitten off. And 
while I tried to keep myself afloat by hanging on 
to some seaweed, he up and ses: " Bedad," ses he, 
"that was the nicest meal I had for many a 
long day. And I think now that I like the Irish 
better than the French, Germans, Scotch, Ameri 
cans, or the Australians, and I have tasted 
them all." 

" " How do you like the English? " ses I. 

" "Don t talk to me about the English," ses 
he, "I wouldn t taste one of them if I had to go 
hungry for ever, for the stupid way they treated 
the Irish." 

" God knows then, in a way, I wouldn t 
blame you. But tis a queer thing for you to 
leave me here to drown when you could carry 
me safely to the shore." 

" "Tell me, are you a Protestant?" ses he. 
"I am, God forgive me," ses I. 

" "I am sorry for that," ses he. 
And why?" ses I. 

276 The Man with the Wooden Leg 

"Well, I don t think I can carry you to the 
shore at all now," ses he. 

" "How s that?" ses I. "Sure all the Protes 
tants are fine, decent, respectable people." 

" " They think they are," ses he. " But who s 
to know whether they are or not? The Protes 
tants would eat fish every day of the week, if they 
could get it, but the Catholics will only eat it on 
Fridays, and wouldn t eat it then if they could 
help it. And moreover, the Protestants have all 
the good jobs in Ireland and the United States, 
but for choice, tis a Freemason I d be myself, if 
I could." 

" "That s not the question at all," ses I. 
"Are you, or are you not, going to bring me 
to the shore? " 

"Well, I m about sick and tired of you now, 
anyway," ses he, "so sit up on my back, and I ll 
land you at the Old Head of Kinsale." And sure 
enough he kept his word, and I was landed high 
and dry on the rocks of my native parish in less 
time than you d take to lace your shoe. And all 
he said as he went his way was: " Good-by, now, 

The Man with the Wooden Leg 277 

and don t forget all I told you. I have an invita 
tion to lunch at the Canary Islands, and I ll be 
late if I don t hurry." And with that, he plunged 
beneath a breaker, and that was the last I ever saw 
of the fish who ate my leg off, and made me a 
cripple for life." 

" And did you keep your promise? ses I to 
the man with the wooden leg, when he had fin 
ished his story. " 

" No, ses the man with the wooden leg, but 
instead, I swore ten thousand holy oaths that I 
would eat nothing but fish, if I lived to be as old 
as Batty Hayes s old goat. And that s why I 
am always so thirsty. " 

"Bedad, but that s a queer story, surely," 
said Padna. "I suppose the fish would have 
eaten his other leg off, only it might spoil his 
appetite for lunch." 

"Very likely," said Micus. 

"Well, I don t believe I could beat that for a 
yarn," said Padna. 

"I wouldn t try, if I were you," said Micus. 

The Hermit of 
the Grove 

WHAT do you think of the weather?" 
said Padna Dan to Micus Pat, as 
he leaned over the half-door, and 
looked up at the sky. 

"Oh," said Micus, as he struck a match on the 
heel of his shoe, "I think we will have a fine day, 
that s if it don t either rain or snow. And snow 
and rain inself is better than a drought, that 
would parch the whole countryside, and bleach 
every blade of grass in the fields as white as 

"The two things in life you can never depend 
on," said Padna, "are women and the weather. 
But as the hermit of Deirdre s Grove said to me 
the other day, when I happened upon him as he 

was strolling about looking for something he 


The Hermit of the Grove 279 

never lost: Every season/ ses he, has its own 
particular charm, and we all have our faults as 
well as our virtues. 

"And what kind of a man was he at all, to be 
looking for something he never lost? " said Micus. 

"He was a man just like one of ourselves. Sure 
that s what we all do, from the day we open our 
eyes until we close them again upon the world," 
said Padna. 

"I never knew that there was a hermit in Deir- 
dre s Grove," said Micus. 

"Neither did I," said Padna, "until one day 
last week when I went looking for hazel-nuts for 
the grandchildren, and I came upon a man of 
strange appearance, and he with long flowing 
beard, dark black curly hair, and a physique sur 
passing anything I have seen for many a day. 
His general demeanour was very impressive in 
deed, and a kindly look lit up his well-chiseled 
face. As I approached him, I wondered what 
manner of man he was, but he was first to break 
the silence. And what he said was: Good 
morrow, stranger, ses he. 

280 The Hermit of the Grove 

"Good morrow and good luck, ses I. 

" May the blessing of God be with you/ 
ses he. 

" May the blessing of God be with us all, 
ses I. 

" Amen to that, ses he. 

" Amen, amen! ses I. 

" Would you mind telling me what day of 
the year is it, and what year of the century is it, 
if you please? ses he. 

"I can easily tell you that, ses I, but I 
couldn t tell you the time of day if you were to 
make me as gay as a sprite, as blithe as a lark, 
and as nimble and fresh as a hare in the month 
of March. This is St. Crispin s Day, ses I, and 
every shoemaker in Christendom who knows how 
to enjoy himself will be as drunk as a lord before 
the sun goes down. 

" I wouldn t blame them for getting drunk, 
ses he, for hammering on the sole of a shoe from 
daylight to dark is no way for a man to enjoy 
himself. But now, ses he, if you want to know 
the time of day, I can tell you that/ 

The Hermit of the Grove 281 

" Of course, I d like to know the time of day, 
ses I. 

" All right, ses he, come along. And then we 
walked to a sun-splashed glade, and he looked up 
at the sun itself, and turned to me, and ses, with 
the greatest gentleness: "Tis just a quarter to 
twelve, ses he. 

" That s a wonderful clock you have, ses I. 

" Tis the most wonderful clock in all the 
world, and never once ran down since it was set 
a-going long ago before Adam was a boy, ses he. 

" But tisn t every one can tell you the time of 
day by it, ses I. 

" I know that, ses he. And tisn t every one 
who can tell you all the other things they should 
know, and tisn t every one who can forget all the 
things not worth remembering, ses he. 

"That s true, ses I, and if we could only 
remember all that is good for us, and forget all 
that is bad for us, we needn t go to any one for 
advice. But we either remember too much, or 
forget too much, and that s why there is so much 
discontent and trouble everywhere. However, 

282 The Hermit of the Grove 

be that as it may, I d like to know how you 
manage to enjoy yourself in this eerie place with 
out any one to keep you company/ ses I. 

" I don t want company/ ses he, because I 
came here to get rid of myself/ 

" Are you a married man? ses I. 

" No/ ses he, I escaped. 

" That s a strange state of affairs/ ses I. 
Sure I always thought that the only way a 
man could get rid of himself was to get lost, so 
to speak, in the highways and byways of matri 
mony, and that he would be so busy trying to 
please his wife and children that he wouldn t 
have any time to think of himself. 

" There are more ways of killing a dog than by 
making him commit suicide/ ses he. 

"That s so/ ses I. And there are more ways 
of getting drunk than paying for what you drink. 
And many a man can t feel natural at all, until 
he is so blind drunk that he don t know what he 
does be saying. 

Yes/ ses he, and a man might live without 
working if he could get any one to support him. 

The Hermit of the Grove 283 

But no matter what happens, time and the world 
rolls by as indifferently as though there was 
nothing worth bothering about. And after all, 
ses he, what is the world but a whirling mass of 
inconsistencies, and everything changes but man. 
He has no more sense now than ever he had. And 
more s the pity, for women are as deceitful as 


" But you haven t told me how you succeeded 
in getting rid of yourself? ses I. 

" Well, ses he, I only got rid of myself, in a 
measure, of course, by escaping from the thralls of 
convention, and coming to live the life of a re 
cluse in this shady and lonely grove. And while 
I am here, tis consoling to know that I cannot 
injure anybody by doing them good turns, nor 
can I be of any assistance to them by being their 
enemies. A decent enemy, ses he, oftentimes is 
worth ten thousand friends, who would only do 
you a kindness for the sake of talking about it 
afterwards. But the best and most charitable 
way to behave towards those who try to injure 
you is to treat them one and all with silent 

284 The Hermit of the Grove 

contempt. That will hurt them more than any 
thing else. The tongue may cut like a scissors, 
but silence gives the deepest wound. 

" That was well spoken for a lonely man/ 
ses I. 

" There are worse things than loneliness/ ses 
he, and, strictly speaking, we never feel really 
lonesome until we find ourselves in the midst of 
a crowd. And we are never in better company 
than when we take our place among the trees of 
a glorious forest like this, where nature has so 
plentifully bestowed her choicest gifts. I never 
felt lonesome since I left the noise of the cities 
behind me, and as I lie awake on my couch at 
night, I ever long for the morning, so that I may 
hear the birds on the wing and the birds on the 
branches singing their praises to the Lord. Aye 
and I never tire of watching the rabbit and the 
weasel, the fox and the hare, or listening to the 
droning of the bee/ ses he. 

"To live close to and feel the divine influence 
of nature must be a wonderful thing surely, but 
I am sorry to say that tis the ugly in nature that 

The Hermit of the Grove 285 

interests me more than anything else, and the 
sting of a bee or a mosquito affects me more than 
the beauty of the sunset/ ses I. 

" Why, man alive/ ses he, there s nothing 
ugly in nature. And the sting of an insect, like 
the slur of a friend, is a thing to be forgotten and 
not remembered. But for all that, insects with 
the capacity for causing annoyance have their 
uses. And those who never lift their eyes to the 
skies, so to speak, to look at other worlds than 
their own, will never feel lonesome while they 
have bees, wasps, and mosquitoes to torment 

""Tis the devil of a thing/ ses I, when you 
come to think of it, that man can never really 
enjoy himself. When his wife or daughters, as 
the case may be, stop nagging at him, his friends 
commence to turn on him, or the wild animals of 
the earth, such as bugs and mosquitoes, will try 
to drive him to desperation. 

"Very true, indeed/ ses he, but we must cul 
tivate patience in all things, and self-control as 
well, if we want to be comparatively happy. 

286 The Hermit of the Grove 

" Patience/ ses he, is the next best thing to 
stupidity. And tis nothing more nor less than an 
infinite capacity for taking pains/ 

" And what s genius then? ses I. 

" Genius/ ses he, is the blossom of inspira 

" I am beginning at long last/ ses I, to see 
some of the advantages of being a recluse. It 
makes a man think more than pleases those who 
disagree with him. 

"You are still a novice at philosophy/ ses he, 
and when you can understand why people won t 
associate with others, you will know why they 
keep to themselves. 

"Oh/ ses I, I always want to be with my 
friends, and live as comfortably as I can. But 
evidently you don t care where you live, or how 
you live. 

"Well/ ses he, I live in the present, the past, 
and the future, and though I dwell in a hut at the 
foot of the hills beyond, I am as happy as a cow 
in clover. And if all the water in the ocean was 
to be turned into whiskey, and if all the fish and 

The Hermit of the Grove 287 

the Sunday excursionists were to drink themselves 
to death, I don t believe that twould interfere 
with my comfort. I have all I want/ ses he, 
and I know it, and that s the only time a man 
can be happy. 

" And why don t you write a poem? ses I. 

" I live one, ses he, and that s much better. 
I love the rustle of the leaves and every sound 
in the woods. All that grows and lives and dies 
interests and inspires me. And the only thing 
that makes me sad is that I am not a vegetarian. 
But, ses he, I d be one in the morning if I could 
get as much satisfaction from eating a handful 
of hazel-nuts, or a few skeeories or blackberries, 
as from feasting on a roast partridge. 

"And that, ses I, just goes to prove that we 
would all be decent if our decency wouldn t 
interfere with our happiness. Nevertheless, a 
man who can drift away from his fellow men and 
live alone in a wood must be the descendant of 
some ancient line of kings, or else he must be one 
of those highly civilized people we read about in 
books. Or perhaps a species of snob who cannot 

288 The Hermit of the Grove 

see the difference between his own foolishness and 
the foolishness of others. Such a one usually 
thinks he is better than his equals and his supe 
riors as well. 

" Very often/ ses he, when nature makes one 
man better than another, he thinks tis his priv 
ilege to make others as bad as himself, so to speak. 
And to be a success, a man must be a snob of 
some kind, or else have no more brains than a 

"Snobbery is the greatest of all virtues, 
because it makes us feel better than we are. 
Take the Protestants, for instance, ses I. 

"Snobbery is an inheritance with them, ses 
he. And twas they brought democracy to Amer 
ica. And what, after all, is democracy but the 
highest form of snobocracy? It begets self-decep 
tion in us all, and makes the beggar think he is 
as good as the king, and the fool think he is as 
good as the scholar. Aye, ses he, and it makes 
the monied vulgarian think he is as good as 
those who only tolerate him. Democracy only 
gives the downtrodden an opportunity of becom- 

The Hermit of the Grove 289 

ing snobs. Tis true, of course/ ses he, that the 
aristocracy couldn t exist only for the common 
people, and the common people couldn t learn 
the art of snobbery only for the aristocracy. 

" But good breeding will always show in a 
man, ses I. 

" Yes, ses he, but some are too well bred to 
be mannerly, and others are too mannerly to be 
just merely polite. Politeness can be acquired, 
ses he, but good manners must be born with 
us. The most ignorant and ill-bred are oftentimes 
the most polite class of people. And you don t 
have to spend a year with a man to know whether 
or not he is a gentleman. The very good manners 
of some is the most offensive thing about them. 

""Tis wonderful astuteness of observation, 
you have entirely, ses I, and I think it is a shame 
for a man with your insight to be wasting your 
time in this dreary grove, when you could be 
giving pleasure and instruction to the poor and 
ignorant in the outer world. 

"Why should I spoil the happiness of the 
ignorant? ses he. What, might I ask, has the 

290 The Hermit of the Grove 

world gained by two thousand years of culture? 
What is the use of educating people who at a 
moment s notice will go to the wars and slaughter 
each other for the sake of pleasing the kings and 
rulers of Christendom? 

" I m afraid you are a selfish man, ses I. 

" Without a tinge of selfishness no man is 
any good, ses he. 

" And don t you do anything at all for others? 
ses I. 

" Oh, yes, ses he. "I keep out of their way, 
and you don t know what a kindness that is. 
Those who don t bore me, ses he, I bore them. 
And that is one of the reasons why I keep so 
much to myself. 

" And why don t you keep a record of all your 
thoughts and write them down in a book? ses I. 

"I might be hanged, drawn and quartered, 
and beheaded besides, if I were to do that. But, 
nevertheless, I have preserved a few stray thoughts 
that may help to amuse the ignorant after I am 
dead and gone, ses he. 

"Where are they? ses I. 

The Hermit of the Grove 291 

" They are written in large letters on the 
trees of the grove/ ses he. And then he took my 
arm, and we walked from tree to tree, and as we 
went our way, we read as follows: 

" A democrat is one who is sorry that he is not 
an aristocrat, and an aristocrat is a snob, and 
doesn t know it. 

"If you think long enough, you will discover 
that such a thing as equality could never exist, 
because we all imagine we are better or worse 
than some one else. 

People who don t think before marriage learn 
to do so after, but better late than never. 

If our friends were as generous as we would 
wish them to be, we would have no respect for 
their foolishness. 

Flies never frequent empty jam-pots, but 
money always brings friends. 

1 The man who seeks a bubble reputation in 
the newspapers must always keep reminding the 
public that he doesn t want to be forgotten. 

11 It is no easy matter to praise ourselves with- 

292 The Hermit of the Grove 

out abusing others, or to abuse others without 
praising ourselves. 

"Speech is a blessing to those who have not 
the courage to carry out their threats. 

1 Any fool can smash the shell of an egg into ten 

thousand pieces, but who can put it together again? 

When a man takes a false step, he must suffer 

the consequences, and if he is sensible, he will do 

so cheerfully. 

" Many say all the things they should be con 
tent with thinking, and brilliance, within limits, 
often only leads to chaos. 

Congenital stupidity is such a potent factor 
with most of us that we never know our limita 
tions until we examine our mistakes. 

Most people are led through life while think 
ing they are leaders. 

k If we could only see half the comedy of life, 
we would become pessimists. 

The man who could be spoilt by success 
would not be saved by adversity. 

The great are not always humble, and the 
humble are not always great. 

The Hermit of the Grove 293 

"Silence is often more the sign of stupidity 
than wisdom. 

We can keep our enemies by continuing to 
treat them badly, and lose our friends by treat 
ing them too well. 

Wisdom after the event is only repentance. " 

"Bedad," said Micus, "he knew a thing or 

"No doubt about it," said Padna. 

"And twas by writing down his thoughts on 
the bark of trees that he spent his time," said 

"Yes," said Padna. "And tis better a man 
should write down his thoughts, and then forget 
them, than to leave them die in his mind, or 
maybe eat into his heart and send him to an 
early grave." 

"Many a man went to his grave for saying too 
much," said Micus. 

"And many a man went to his grave for say 
ing nothing at all," said Padna. 

The King of 

THE cold has left the breeze, the lonely 
moon sails over the hills, bats are on 
the wing, the owl rests on the barn 
door, the badger is gone in search of his prey, the 
otter scurries through the stream, and the night 
ingale with his rich, melodious note fills the air 
with sweetness," said Padna to his friend Micus. 
"It is a glorious night for a ramble," said 
Micus, "and as we have nothing to do, we might 
as well take a stroll through the woods, and we 
may find something to talk about. I too like to 
watch the moon wandering all alone through the 
sky at the dead of the night, and no one to keep 
her company but the stars, and they no company 
for any one but the poets themselves." 

"And the poets are the best company in the 

The King of Goulnaspurra 295 

whole world," said Padna, "except the dead and 
they that can t do an injury to any one .at all. 
However, the moon does be kept busy throwing 
light on a troubled world, and sometimes as she 
floats through the sky I seem to see a blush on 
her face as though she was shocked at the bad 
ness that steals into the hearts of the young and 
the old at the close of day. Night is the time that 
the Devil has his fling, and evil lurks behind 
everything that is beautiful and enchanting. 
When there is no moon in the sky, badness does 
be everywhere, and there does be trembling in 
every innocent heart until the darkness of night 
is dispelled by the rising sun, and the first chirrup 
of the birds is heard, and the cock s shrill crow 
tells us that day is come." 

"The power and majesty of the sun is astound 
ing. With a grace and a gentleness beyond com 
pare, he closes the door of night and greets the 
waking world with a smile. And the man who 
can find pleasure looking at the moon in a starry 
sky should be as happy as a king upon his throne," 
said Micus. 

296 The King of Goulnaspurra 

"Kings," said Padna, "are expensive orna 
ments., but they are not always happy, if what 
we hear is true. And the only difference between 
a king and an ordinary poor man, like one of 
ourselves, is that we must pay for what we eat, 
whereas kings get paid for eating, drinking, ca 
rousing, and doing what they please." 

"The real difference between a king and the 
common man is a lot of brassy buttons, a high 
hat with an ostrich plume in it maybe, a silver 
sword at his side, gold buckles on his shoes, and a 
few medals on his breast," said Micus. 

"And what does a king want a sword for?" 
said Padna. 

"You might as well ask me what do we want 
kings for, and why they get so much for all the 
things they don t do. And sure, you wouldn t 
know a king from any other man if you saw him 
in his nightshirt. Kingship is the easiest of all 
professions and the hardest of all trades, because 
once a man is a king he has no chance of getting 
a rest until some one fires a bomb at his head or 
puts poison in his tea," said Micus. 

The King of Goulnaspurra 297 

"Well," said Padna, "there is a compensation 
in all things, and when a man is not fit for any 
thing else, it is a good job for him that he can be 
a king." 

"I suppose," said Micus, "you never heard 
tell of the King of Goulnaspurra?" 

"I did not," said Padna. "Who the blazes 
was he?" 

"He was a distant relation of my own on the 
wife s side, and so called because he was the best 
man in a town of two dozen inhabitants," said 

"And what did he do for a living at all?" said 

"He was a mason by trade, and tis said that 
he built more ditches than all the kings in Chris 
tendom put together, and there wasn t a better 
birdcatcher in the whole country than himself. 
Well, after he had worked some forty years or 
more in all kinds of weather, he found himself 
at last on the flat of his back in the Poorhouse 
Hospital, and no better to look at than an old 
sweeping brush worn to the stump and kept in 

298 The King of Goulnaspurra 

the back yard for beating the dogs. And there 
he remained pining away like a snowball in the 
sun, until one day the doctor, who wanted a little 
exercise and diversion, approached him and ses: 
Good morrow, Malachi, King of Goulnaspurra, 
ses he. 

" Good morrow kindly and good luck, ses 
Malachi. What s the best news to-day? 

" Oh, ses the doctor, the poor are thought as 
little about as ever, and the same friendly rela 
tions exist between the clergy and the rich. 

" l God forgive the clergy for their respectability. 
It spoils some to make gentlemen of them, ses 

" That s true, ses the doctor, but now as 
regards yourself, I want to tell you that you 
needn t worry about looking for a job any more, 
because you will either be above with St. Pat 
rick and his chums by this day week, or some 
where else. It all depends on how you behaved 

" Won t you take a chair and sit down for 
awhile? ses Malachi. That s the first bit of 

The King of Goulnaspurra 299 

strange news I have had since I heard that Eng 
land made the discovery that the most stupid 
thing she ever did was to treat the Irish badly. 

" Thanks for your kind offer/ ses the doctor, 
but I am in a hurry to-day. I think that I pre 
scribed arsenic instead of olive oil for one of my 
patients in Tipperary last week. So I must go 
and see how he is getting along, and if I don t 
get there in time to cure him inself, I ll be in 
time for the funeral, though tis against the rules 
of my profession to attend the funerals of your 
patients, whether you are responsible or not for 
their death. But tis all the same to us. We get 
paid anyway. 

" Olive oil is good for the hair, I believe, ses 
the King of Goulnaspurra, and they say tis a 
cure for a toothache also. 

" Olive oil is all right in its way, ses the 
doctor, but there s nothing like a good drop of 
whiskey on a cold night if you are not feeling 

" Now, ses Malachi, with reference to that 
little matter, I mean my journey to the land of 

300 The King of Goulnaspurra 

the mighty dead; all I can say is that tis better 
a man should die when he is out of employment 
like myself, than die when he has a good job. 
But as we must all die some time, there is no 
reason why we shouldn t emulate the ancient 
philosophers, when we are no more use to our 
selves or any one else, and shuffle off this mortal 
coil by drinking our health, so to speak, in a 
glass of hemlock. Life, anyway, ses he, is a 
feast for some, a famine for others, and a puzzle 
to all. Some think so little about it that they 
are dead before they realize what has hap 
pened, and others don t know that they are 
alive at all until they are married. Howsomever, 
ses he, our own affairs are always interesting 
to ourselves, so I must now make my will be 
fore I die. And then and there he asked for 
pen, ink, and paper, and this is what he wrote: 

1 /, Malachi, King of Goulnaspurra, bequeath the 
hard earnings of years of trials and tribulations for 
the purchase of a stained glass window with my name 
at the end of it, to be placed in the milage church so 

The King of Goulnaspurra 301 

that those who didn t give a traneen about me when 
I was alive, including the clergy themselves, may 
think kindly of me when I am dead. 

To my son and heir, Henry Joseph Michael 
John Dorgan, Crown Prince of Goulnaspurra, I 
bequeath, in recognition of his indifference to me 
while I lived, one shilling and sixpence, and the 
Devil s blessing which is commonly called the curse 
of Cromwell. Besides, I am also desirous that he 
should inherit my bad temper, bad habits, rheumat 
ics, gout, and all the other hereditary complaints 
of the family. 

To my first cousin Padeen Dooley, the King 
of Ballinadurraka, I bequeath my large hand trowel 
and hammer, and to the Emperor of Japan I be 
queath all my old clothes, either to be used by himself 
after the invasion of his country by the suffragettes, 
or to be placed in a museum with other kingly relics, 
after freedom of speech has killed monarchy. To 
the clergy I bequeath an abundance of good wishes 
to be distributed liberally among the poor, so that 
they may thrive on them in the absence of anything 
better. To the needy people of all nations, I be- 

302 The King of Goulnaspurra 

queath the privileges of the army and navy in times 
of war, and to everyone in general I bequeath all 
they can get from their friends for nothing. 

" And with that he laid down his pen, closed his 
eyes, and so passed to the land of no returning 
Malachi Dorgan, King of Goulnaspurra," said 

By the author of 
"The Whale and the Grasshopper and Other Fables" 

DUTY, and Other Irish Comedies 

Frontispiece portrait. 12mo. $1.25 net. 

The rich Irish humor and the delightful philoso 
phy of Seumas O Brien are to be found in the five 
one-act comedies that make up this volume just as 
they are ever present in his fiction. "Duty," which 
is probably the best known of his dramatic work, 
was performed with great success by the Irish play 
ers during their American tour in 1914. The others 
are en titled "Magnanimity," "Jurisprudence," "Ret 
ribution," and "Matchmakers." All of them are 
notable for hilarious situations, clever character 
drawing, and bright dialogue, some of it so delicious 
as to bear comparison with the talk of Thomas 
Hardy s country folk. 

"In Seumas O Brien I believe that America has found a 
new humorist of popular sympathies, a rare observer and 
philosopher whose very absurdities have a persuasive philoso 
phy of their own." Edward J. O Brien in the Boston Tran 


34 Beacon Street, Boston 



Books not returned on time are subject to a fine of 
50e per volume after the third day overdue, increasing 
to $1.00 per volume after the sixth day. Books not in 
demand may be renewed if application is made before 
expiration of loan period. 

10m-4, 23 

YB 33564 

50 32 -1 3 



ffltE HOUSE!