THE WHALE AND
THE WHALE AND THE GRASSHOPPER
Everybody came to the valley and everybody
enjoyed coming, because there was no place like it.
FRONTISPIECE. See page
The H^hale and the
And Other Fables
Seumas O Brien
With a frontispiece by
Little, Brown, and Company
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved
Published, November, 1916
NORWOOD- MASS U-S-A
EDWARD J. O BRIEN
LIST OF FABLES
THE WHALE AND THE GRASSHOPPER . . *. i
THE HOUSE IN THE VALLEY . . . . . 14
PEACE AND WAR 26
THE VALLEY or THE DEAD . . . . , 36
THE KING or MONTOBEWLO . . . . . 51
THE DILEMMA OF MATTY THE GOAT . . . 67
HAM AND EGGS. . . ...... 101
THE WHITE HORSE OF BANE A . . .. . 117
REBELLIONS . .... , .^ . . . . . 136
KINGS AND COMMONERS . . . . . . 143
THE FOLLY OF BEING FOOLISH . . . . 155
THE LADY OF THE MOON . . . . > . 163
A BARGAIN OF BARGAINS , . . . . . 177
SHAUNO AND THE SHAH . . . . . . 191
THE MAYOR OF LOUGHLAURNA . . . . 212
THE LAND OF PEACE AND PLENTY . . . 230
THE LINNET WITH THE CROWN OF GOLD . 242
THE MAN WITH THE WOODEN LEG . . . 258
THE HERMIT OF THE GROVE 278
THE KING OF GOULNASPURRA 294
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
"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
"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
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
" 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
The Whale and the Grasshopper 9
"It looks that way to me, ses the whale.
Is there anything else worth while going on in
" 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
" 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
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 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
"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
" 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
"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
"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."
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
"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
"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
" 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
" 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
" 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/
" 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
" 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
"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,"
"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,"
"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
" 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
" 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
"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,"
"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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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,"
"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
"What brought you out to-night, at all?"
"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
"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/
" 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
" 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
"A gift of God?
" 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,
" 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
" 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
"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
" 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
" 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
" 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 are all right, thank God, ses
the Gaekwar, but I am nearly worried to death
" 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 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
" 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
" 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/
""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
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,"
"Of course, I d like to hear it. What is it all
" Tis all about a pig and a clucking hen,"
"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
" 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
" 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
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
"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,
" 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
" 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
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/
" As sure as you will make some mistake
to-morrow he will pass this way to-night/
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,
" 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
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,"
"And what way is that?"
"Well, by either drowning, hanging, or poi
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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 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,"
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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, "
"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."
"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,"
" 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/
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 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
" 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."
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
"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,"
"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:
A BARGAIN OF BARGAINS
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
"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
"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?"
"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
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
"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
"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?"
"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
"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
" 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
" 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
"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
"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
"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,"
" 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? "
" 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,"
"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
" 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
" 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
" 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
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/
" 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
" 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/
"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
" 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
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
"And when you reached the shore, what did
"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,"
"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,"
"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
"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
"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/
" 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/
" 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
" 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/
" 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,"
" Bedad, I don t doubt but there is," said Padna.
The Man with the
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,"
" 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,"
"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
"And what is it all about?" said Padna.
" Tis the story of a man with a wooden leg,"
"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/
" 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
" 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
"" 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,"
" "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
"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
"I bet you," ses I, "that you never ate
" 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
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?"
"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
" " 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
" 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
" "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
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,"
"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/
" May the blessing of God be with us all,
" 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,
" 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/
" 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
"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?
" 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
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
"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
" 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
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
"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,"
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?"
"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
"I suppose," said Micus, "you never heard
tell of the King of Goulnaspurra?"
"I did not," said Padna. "Who the blazes
"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,
" 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
" 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
By SEUMAS O BRIEN
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
LITTLE, BROWN & CO., PUBLISHERS
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