The Crock of Gold
Part 2 out of 4
person who is not hungry is a bad person. It is better
to be hungry than rich."
Caitilin having supplied the children with food, seated
herself in front of them. "I don't think that is right,"
said she. "I have always been hungry, and it was never
"If you had always been full you would like it even
less," he replied, "because when you are hungry you are
alive, and when you are not hungry you are only half
"One has to be poor to be hungry," replied Caitilin.
"My father is poor and gets no good of it but to work
from morning to night and never to stop doing that."
"It is bad for a wise person to be poor," said Pan,
"and it is bad for a fool to be rich. A rich fool will think
of nothing else at first but to find a dark house wherein
to hide away, and there he will satisfy his hunger, and he
will continue to do that until his hunger is dead and he is
no better than dead but a wise person who is rich will
carefully preserve his appetite. All people who have
been rich for a long time, or who are rich from birth,
live a great deal outside of their houses, and so they are
always hungry and healthy."
"Poor people have no time to be wise," said Caitilin.
"They have time to be hungry," said Pan. "I ask no
more of them."
"My father is very wise," said Seumas Beg.
"How do you know that, little boy?" said Pan.
"Because he is always talking," replied Seumas.
"Do you always listen, my dear?"
"No, sir," said Seumas; "I go to sleep when he talks."
"That is very clever of you," said Pan.
"I go to sleep too," said Brigid.
"It is clever of you also, my darling. Do you go to
sleep when your mother talks?"
"Oh, no," she answered. "If we went to sleep then
our mother would pinch us and say that we were a bad
"I think your mother is wise," said Pan. "What do
you like best in the world, Seumas Beg?"
The boy thought for a moment and replied:
"I don't know, sir."
Pan also thought for a little time.
"I don't know what I like best either," said he.
"What do you like best in the world, Shepherd Girl?"
Caitilin's eyes were fixed on his.
"I don't know yet," she answered slowly.
"May the gods keep you safe from that knowledge,"
said Pan gravely.
"Why would you say that?" she replied. "One must
find out all things, and when we find out a thing we know
if it is good or bad."
"That is the beginning of knowledge," said Pan, "but
it is not the beginning of wisdom."
"What is the beginning of wisdom?"
"It is carelessness," replied Pan.
"And what is the end of wisdom?" said she.
"I do not know," he answered, after a little pause.
"Is it greater carelessness?" she enquired.
"I do not know, I do not know," said he sharply. "I
am tired of talking," and, so saying, he turned his face
away from them and lay down on the couch.
Caitilin in great concern hurried the children to the
door of the cave and kissed them good-bye.
"Pan is sick," said the boy gravely.
"I hope he will be well soon again," the girl murmured.
"Yes, yes," said Caitilin, and she ran back quickly to
THE PHILOSOPHER'S JOURNEY
WHEN the children reached home they told the Philo-
sopher-the result of their visit. He questioned them mi-
nutely as to the appearance of Pan, how he had received
them, and what he had said in defence of his iniquities;
but when he found that Pan had not returned any answer
to his message he became very angry. He tried to per-
suade his wife to undertake another embassy setting
forth his abhorrence and defiance of the god, but the
Thin Woman replied sourly that she was a respectable
married woman, that having been already bereaved of
her wisdom she had no desire to be further curtailed of
her virtue, that a husband would go any length to asperse
his wife's reputation, and that although she was mar-
ried to a fool her self-respect had survived even that
calamity. The Philosopher pointed out that her age,
her appearance, and her tongue were sufficient guarantees
of immunity against the machinations of either Pan or
slander, and that he had no personal feelings in the mat-
ter beyond a scientific and benevolent interest in the
troubles of Meehawl MacMurrachu; but this was dis-
counted by his wife as the malignant and subtle tactics
customary to all husbands.
Matters appeared to be thus at a deadlock so far as
they were immediately concerned, and the Philosopher
decided that he would lay the case before Angus Og and
implore his protection and assistance on behalf of the
Clann MacMurrachu. He therefore directed the Thin
Woman to bake him two cakes of bread, and set about
preparations for a journey.
The Thin Woman baked the cakes, and put them in a
bag, and early on the following morning the Philosopher
swung this bag over his shoulder, and went forth on his
When he came to the edge of the pine wood he halted
for a few moments, not being quite certain of his bear-
ings, and then went forward again in the direction of
Gort na Cloca Mora. It came into his mind as he crossed
the Gort that he ought to call on the Leprecauns and
have a talk with them, but a remembrance of Meehawl
MacMurrachu and the troubles under which he laboured
(all directly to be traced to the Leprecauns) hardened
his heart against his neighbours, so that he passed by
the yew tree without any stay. In a short time he came
to the rough, heather-clumped field wherein the children
had found Pan, and as he was proceeding up the hill, he
saw Caitilin Ni Murrachu walking a little way in front
with a small vessel in her hand. The she-goat which she
had just milked was bending again to the herbage, and
as Caitilin trod lightly in front of him the Philosopher
closed his eyes in virtuous anger and opened them again
in a not unnatural curiosity, for the girl had no clothes
on. He watched her going behind the brush and dis-
appearing in the cleft of the rock, and his anger, both
with her and Pan, mastering him he forsook the path of
prudence which soared to the mountain top, and followed
that leading to the cave. The sound of his feet brought
Caitilin out hastily, but he pushed her by with a harsh
word. "Hussy," said he, and he went into the cave
where Pan was.
As he went in he already repented of his harshness and
"The human body is an aggregation of flesh and sinew,
around a central bony structure. The use of clothing is
primarily to protect this organism from rain and cold,
and it may not be regarded as the banner of morality
without danger to this fundamental premise. If a per-
son does not desire to be so protected who will quarrel
with an honourable liberty? Decency is not clothing but
Mind. Morality is behaviour. Virtue is thought-
"I have often fancied," he continued to Pan, whom he
was now confronting, "that the effect of clothing on mind
must be very considerable, and that it must have a modi-
fying rather than an expanding effect, or, even, an in-
tensifying as against an exuberant effect. With clothing
the whole environment is immediately affected. The air,
which is our proper medium, is only filtered to our bodies
in an abated and niggardly fashion which can scarcely be
as beneficial as the generous and unintermitted elemental
play. The question naturally arises whether clothing is
as unknown to nature as we have fancied? Viewed as a
protective measure against atmospheric rigour we find
that many creatures grow, by their own central impulse,
some kind of exterior panoply which may be regarded as
their proper clothing. Bears, cats, dogs, mice, sheep and
beavers are wrapped in fur, hair, fell, fleece or pelt, so
these creatures cannot by any means be regarded as be-
ing naked. Crabs, cockroaches, snails and cockles have
ordered around them a crusty habiliment, wherein their
original nakedness is only to be discovered by force, and
other creatures have similarly provided themselves with
some species of covering. Clothing, therefore, is not
an art, but an instinct, and the fact that man is born
naked and does not grow his clothing upon himself from
within but collects it from various distant and haphazard
sources is not any reason to call this necessity an instinct
for decency. These, you will admit, are weighty reHec-
tions and worthy of consideration before we proceed to
the wide and thorny subject of moral and immoral ac-
tion. Now, what is virtue?"-
Pan, who had listened with great courtesy to these
Remarks, here broke in on the Philosopher.
"Virtue," said he, "is the performance of pleasant
The Philosopher held the statement far a moment on
"And what, then, is vice?" said he.
"It is vicious," said Pan, "to neglect the performance
of pleasant actions."
"If this be so," the other commented, "philosophy has
up to the present been on the wrong track."
"That is so," said Pan. "Philosophy is an immoral
practice because it suggests a standard of practice im-
possible of being followed, and which, if it could be fol-
lowed, would lead to the great sin of sterility."
"The idea of virtue," said the Philosopher, with some
indignation, "has animated the noblest intellects of the
"It has not animated them," replied Pan; "it has hyp-
notised them so that they have conceived virtue as re-
pression and self-sacrifice as an honourable thing instead
of the suicide which it is."
"Indeed," said the Philosopher; "this is very interest-
ing, and if it is true the whole conduct of life will have
to be very much simplified."
"Life is already very simple," said Pan; "it is to
be born and to die, and in the interval to eat and drink,
to dance and sing, to marry and beget children."
"But it is simply materialism," cried the Philosopher.
"Why do you say 'but'?" replied Pan.
"It is sheer, unredeemed animalism," continued his
"It is any name you please to call it," replied Pan.
"You have proved nothing," the Philosopher shouted.
"What can be sensed requires no proof."
"You leave out the new thing," said the Philosopher.
"You leave out brains. I believe in mind above matter.
Thought above emotion. Spirit above flesh."
"Of course you do," said Pan, and he reached for his
The Philosopher ran to the opening of the passage and
thrust Caitilin aside. "Hussy," said he fiercely to her,
and he darted out.
As he went up the rugged path he could hear the pipes
of Pan, calling and sobbing and making high merriment
on the air.
"SHE does not deserve to be rescued," said the Philoso-
pher, "but I will rescue her. Indeed," he thought a mo-
ment later, "she does not want to be rescued, and, there-
fore, I will rescue her."
As he went down the road her shapely figure floated
before his eyes as beautiful and simple as an old statue.
He wagged his head angrily at the apparition, but it
would not go away. He tried to concentrate his mind on
a deep, philosophical maxim, but her disturbing image
came between him and his thought, blotting out the lat-
ter so completely that a moment after he had stated his
aphorism he could not remember what it had been. Such
a condition of mind was so unusual that it bewildered
"Is a mind, then, so unstable," said he, "that a mere
figure, an animated geometrical arrangement can shake
it from its foundations?"
The idea horrified him: he saw civilisation building
its temples over a volcano. . .
"A puff," said he, "and it is gone. Beneath all is
chaos and red anarchy, over all a devouring and insistent
appetite. Our eyes tell us what to think about, and our
wisdom is no more than a catalogue of sensual stimuli."
He would have been in a state of deep dejection were
it not that through his perturbation there bubbled a
stream of such amazing well-being as he had not felt
since childhood. Years had toppled from his shoulders.
He left one pound of solid matter behind at every stride.
His very skin grew flexuous, and he found a pleasure in
taking long steps such as he could not have accounted
for by thought. Indeed, thought was the one thing he
felt unequal to, and it was not precisely that he could
not think but that he did not want to. All the importance
and authority of his mind seemed to have faded away,
and the activity which had once belonged to that organ
was now transferred to his eyes. He saw, amazedly, the
sunshine bathing the hills and the valleys. A bird in the
hedge held him--beak, head, eyes, legs, and the wings
that tapered widely at angles to the wind. For the first
time in his life he really saw a bird, and one minute after
it had flown away he could have reproduced its strident
note. With every step along the curving road the land-
scape was changing. He saw and noted it almost in an
ecstasy. A sharp hill jutted out into the road, it dis-
solved into a sloping meadow, rolled down into a valley
and then climbed easily and peacefully into a hill again.
On this side a clump of trees nodded together in the
friendliest fashion. Yonder a solitary tree, well-grown
and clean, was contented with its own bright company.
A bush crouched tightly on the ground as though, at a
word, it would scamper from its place and chase rabbits
across the sward with shouts and laughter. Great spaces
of sunshine were everywhere, and everywhere there were
deep wells of shadow; and the one did not seem more
beautiful than the other. That sunshine! Oh, the glory
of it, the goodness and bravery of it, how broadly and
grandly it shone, without stint, without care; he saw its
measureless generosity and gloried in it as though him-
self had been the flinger of that largesse. And was he
not? Did the sunlight not stream from his head and
life from his finger-tips? Surely the well-being that was
in him did bubble out to an activity beyond the universe.
Thought! Oh! the petty thing! but motion! emotion!
these were the realities. To feel, to do, to stride for-
ward in elation chanting a paean of triumphant life!
After a time he felt hungry, and thrusting his hand
into his wallet he broke off a piece of one of his cakes
and looked about for a place where he might happily
eat it. By the side of the road there was a well; just a
little corner filled with water. Over it was a rough stone
coping, and around, hugging it on three sides almost from
sight, were thick, quiet bushes. He would not have no-
ticed the well at all but for a thin stream, the breadth of
two hands, which tiptoed away from it through a field.
By this well he sat down and scooped the water in his
hand and it tasted good.
He was eating his cake when a sound touched his ear
from some distance, and shortly a woman came down
the path carrying a vessel in her hand to draw water.
She was a big, comely woman, and she walked as one who
had no misfortunes and no misgivings. When she saw
the Philosopher sitting by the well she halted a moment
in surprise and then came forward with a good-humoured
"Good morrow to you, sir," said she.
"Good morrow to you too, ma'am," replied the Philo-
sopher. "Sit down beside me here and eat some of my
"Why wouldn't I, indeed," said the woman, and she
did sit beside him.
The Philosopher cracked a large piece off his cake
and gave it to her and she ate some.
"There's a taste on that cake," said she. "Who made
"My wife did," he replied.
"Well, now!" said she, looking at him. "Do you
know, you don't look a bit like a married man."
"No?" said the Philosopher.
"Not a bit. A married man looks comfortable and
settled: he looks finished, if you understand me, and a
bachelor looks unsettled and funny, and he always wants
to be running round seeing things. I'd know a married
man from a bachelor any day."
"How would you know that?" said the Philosopher.
"Easily," said she, with a nod. "It's the way they
look at a woman. A married man looks at you quietly
as if he knew all about you. There isn't any strangeness
about him with a woman at all; but a bachelor man looks
at you very sharp and looks away and then looks back
again, the way you'd know he was thinking about you and
didn't know what you were thinking about him; and so
they are always strange, and that's why women like
"Why!" said the Philosopher, astonished, "do women
like bachelors better than married men?"
"Of course they do," she replied heartily. "They
wouldn't look at the side of the road a married man was
on if there was a bachelor man on the other side."
"This," said the Philosopher earnestly, "is very inter-
"And the queer thing is," she continued, "that when I
came up the road and saw you I said to myself 'it's a
bachelor man.' How long have you been married,
"I don't know," said the Philosopher. "Maybe it's
"And how many children would you have, mister?"
"Two," he replied, and then corrected himself, "No,
I have only one."
"Is the other one dead?"
"I never had more than one."
"Ten years married and only one child," said she.
"Why, man dear, you're not a married man. What
were you doing at all, at all! I wouldn't like to be tell-
ing you the children I have living and dead. But what
I say is that married or not you're a bachelor man. I
knew it the minute I looked at you. What sort of a
woman is herself?"
"She's a thin sort of woman," cried the Philosopher,
biting into his cake.
"Is she now?"
"And," the Philosopher continued, "the reason I
talked to you is because you are a fat woman."
"I am not fat," was her angry response.
"You are fat," insisted the Philosopher, "and that's
the reason I like you."
"Oh, if you mean it that way . . ." she chuckled.
"I think," he continued, looking at her admiringly,
"that women ought to be fat."
"Tell you the truth," said she eagerly, "I think that
myself. I never met a thin woman but she was a sour
one, and I never met a fat man but he was a fool. Fat
women and thin men; it's nature," said she.
"It is," said he, and he leaned forward and kissed her
"Oh, you villain!" said the woman, putting out her
hands against him.
The Philosopher drew back abashed.
"Forgive me," he began, "if I have alarmed your
"It's the married man's word," said she, rising hastily:
"now I know you; but there's a lot of the bachelor in you
all the same, God help you! I'm going home." And,
so saying, she dipped her vessel in the well and turned
"Maybe," said the Philosopher, "I ought to wait un-
til your husband comes home and ask his forgiveness for
the wrong I've done him."
The woman turned round on him and each of her eyes
was as big as a plate.
"What do you say?" said she. "Follow me if you
dare and I'll set the dog on you; I will so," and she
strode viciously homewards.
After a moment's hesitation the Philosopher took his
own path across the hill.
The day was now well advanced, and as he trudged
forward the happy quietude of his surroundings stole
into his heart again and so toned down his recollection
of the fat woman that in a little time she was no more
than a pleasant and curious memory. His mind was ex-
ercised superficially, not in thinking, but in wondering
how it was he had come to kiss a strange woman. He
said to himself that such conduct was not right; but this
statement was no more than the automatic working of a
mind long exercised in the distinctions of right and
wrong, for, almost in the same breath, he assured him-
self that what he had done did not matter in the least.
His opinions were undergoing a curious change. Right
and wrong were meeting and blending together so closely
that it became difficult to dissever them, and the obloquy
attaching to the one seemed out of proportion altogether
to its importance, while the other by no means justified
the eulogy wherewith it was connected. Was there any
immediate or even distant, effect on life caused by evil
which was not instantly swung into equipoise by good-
ness? But these slender reflections troubled him only
for a little time. He had little desire for any introspec-
tive quarryings. To feel so well was sufficient in itself.
Why should thought be so apparent to us, so insistent?
We do not know we have digestive or circulatory organs
until these go out of order, and then the knowledge tor-
ments us. Should not the labours of a healthy brain be
equally subterranean and equally competent? Why have
we to think aloud and travel laboriously from syllogism
to ergo, chary of our conclusions and distrustful of our
premises? Thought, as we know it, is a disease and no
more. The healthy mentality should register its convic-
tions and not its labours. Our ears should not hear the
clamour of its doubts nor be forced to listen to the pro
and con wherewith we are eternally badgered and per-
The road was winding like a ribbon in and out of the
mountains. On either side there were hedges and bushes,
--little, stiff trees which held their foliage in their hands
and dared the winds snatch a leaf from that grip. The
hills were swelling and sinking, folding and soaring on
every view. Now the silence was startled by the falling
tinkle of a stream. Far away a cow lowed, a long, deep
monotone, or a goat's call trembled from nowhere to no-
where. But mostly there was a silence which buzzed
with a multitude of small winged life. Going up the
hills the Philosopher bent forward to the gradient,
stamping vigorously as he trod, almost snorting like a
bull in the pride of successful energy. Coming down the
slope he braced back and let his legs loose to do as they
pleased. Didn't they know their business--Good luck
to them, and away!
As he walked along he saw an old woman hobbling
in front of him. She was leaning on a stick and her hand
was red and swollen with rheumatism. She hobbled by
reason of the fact that there were stones in her shapeless
boots. She was draped in the sorriest miscellaneous rags
that could be imagined, and these were knotted together
so intricately that her clothing, having once been attached
to her body, could never again be detached from it. As
she walked she was mumbling and grumbling to herself,
so that her mouth moved round and round in an india-
The Philosopher soon caught up on her.
"Good morrow, ma'am," said he.
But she did not hear him: she seemed to be listening
to the pain which the stones in her boots gave her.
"Good morrow, ma'am," said the Philosopher again.
This time she heard him and replied, turning her old,
bleared eyes slowly in his direction--
"Good morrow to yourself, sir," said she, and the
Philosopher thought her old face was a very kindly one.
"What is it that is wrong with you, ma'am?" said he.
"It's my boots, sir," she replied. "Full of stones they
are, the way I can hardly walk at all, God help me!"
"Why don't you shake them out?"
"Ah, sure, I couldn't be bothered, sir, for there are so
many holes in the boots that more would get in before I
could take two steps, and an old woman can't be always
fidgeting, God help her!"
There was a little house on one side of the road, and
when the old woman saw this place she brightened up a
"Do you know who lives in that house?" said the
"I do not," she replied, "but it's a real nice house with
clean windows and a shiny knocker on the door, and
smoke in the chimney--I wonder would herself give me
a cup of tea now if I asked her--A poor old woman walk-
ing the roads on a stick! and maybe a bit of meat, or an
egg perhaps. . "
"You could ask," suggested the Philosopher gently.
"Maybe I will, too," said she, and she sat down by the
road just outside the house and the Philosopher also sat
A little puppy dog came from behind the house and ap-
proached them cautiously. Its intentions were friendly
but it had already found that amicable advances are
sometimes indifferently received, for, as it drew near, it
wagged its dubious tail and rolled humbly on the ground.
But very soon the dog discovered that here there was no
evil, for it trotted over to the old woman, and without
any more preparation jumped into her lap.
The old woman grinned at the dog-
"Ah, you thing you!" said she, and she gave it her
finger to bite. The delighted puppy chewed her bony
finger, and then instituted a mimic warfare against a
piece of rag that fluttered from her breast, barking and
growling in joyous excitement, while the old woman
fondled and hugged it.
The door of the house opposite opened quickly, and a
woman with a frost-bitten face came out.
"Leave that dog down," said she.
The old woman grinned humbly at her.
"Sure, ma'am, I wouldn't hurt the little dog, the
"Put down that dog," said the woman, "and go about
your business--the likes of you ought to be arrested."
A man in shirt sleeves appeared behind her, and at him
the old woman grinned even more humbly.
"Let me sit here for a while and play with the little
dog, sir," said she; "sure the roads do be lonesome--"
The man stalked close and grabbed the dog by the
scruff of the neck. It hung between his finger and thumb
with its tail tucked between its legs and its eyes screwed
round on one side in amazement.
"Be off with you out of that, you old strap!" said the
man in a terrible voice.
So the old woman rose painfully to her feet again, and
as she went hobbling along the dusty road she began to
The Philosopher also arose; he was very indignant but
did not know what to do. A singular lassitude also pre-
vented him from interfering. As they paced along his
companion began mumbling, more to herself than to
"Ah, God be with me," said she, "an old woman on a
stick, that hasn't a place in the wide world to go to or a
neighbour itself.... I wish I could get a cup of tea, so
I do. I wish to God I could get a cup of tea.... Me
sitting down in my own little house, with the white table-
cloth on the table, and the butter in the dish, and the
strong, red tea in the tea-cup; and me pouring cream into
it, and, maybe, telling the children not to be wasting the
sugar, the things! and himself saying he'd got to mow the
big field to-day, or that the red cow was going to calve,
the poor thingl and that if the boys went to school, who
was going to weed the turnips--and me sitting drinking
my strong cup of tea, and telling him where that old
trapesing hen was laying.... Ah, God be with me!
an old creature hobbling along the roads on a stick. I
wish I was a young girl again, so I do, and himself com-
ing courting me, and him saying that I was a real nice lit-
tle girl surely, and that nothing would make him happy or
easy at all but me to be loving him.--Ah, the kind man
that he was, to be sure, the kind, decent man.... And
Sorca Reilly to be trying to get him from me, and Kate
Finnegan with her bold eyes looking after him in the
Chapel; and him to be saying that along with me they
were only a pair of old nanny goats.... And then me
to be getting married and going home to my own little
house with my man--ah, God be with me! and him kiss-
ing me, and laughing, and frightening me with his goings-
on. Ah, the kind man, with his soft eyes, and his nice
voice, and his jokes and laughing, and him thinking the
world and all of me--ay, indeed.... And the neigh-
bours to be coming in and sitting round the fire in the
night time, putting the world through each other, and
talking about France and Russia and them other queer
places, and him holding up the discourse like a learned
man, and them all listening to him and nodding their
heads at each other, and wondering at his education and
all: or, maybe, the neighbours to be singing, or him mak-
ing me sing the Coulin, and him to be proud of me . . .
and then him to be killed on me with a cold on his chest.
. . . Ah, then, God be with me, a lone, old creature on
a stick, and the sun shining into her eyes and she thirsty
--I wish I had a cup of tea, so I do. I wish to God I
had a cup of tea and a bit of meat . . . or, maybe, an
egg. A nice fresh egg laid by the speckeldy hen that
used to be giving me all the trouble, the thing! . . . Six-
teen hens I had, and they were the ones for laying,
. . It's the queer world, so it is, the queer
world--and the things that do happen for no reason at
all.... Ah, God be with me! I wish there weren't
stones in my boots, so I do, and I wish to God I had a
cup of tea and a fresh egg. Ah, glory be, my old legs
are getting tireder every day, so they are. Wisha, one
time--when himself was in it--I could go about the
house all day long, cleaning the place, and feeding the
pigs, and the hens and all, and then dance half the night,
so I could: and himself proud of me...."
The old woman turned up a little rambling road and
went on still talking to herself, and the Philosopher
watched her go up that road for a long time. He was
very glad she had gone away, and as he tramped for-
ward he banished her sad image so that in a little time
he was happy again. The sun was still shining, the birds
were flying on every side, and the wide hill-side above
him smiled gaily.
A small, narrow road cut at right angles into his path,
and as he approached this he heard the bustle and move-
ment of a host, the trample of feet, the rolling and creak-
ing of wheels, and the long unwearied drone of voices.
In a few minutes he came abreast of this small road, and
saw an ass and cart piled with pots and pans, and walk-
ing beside this there were two men and a woman. The
men and the woman were talking together loudly, even
fiercely, and the ass was drawing his cart along the road
without requiring assistance or direction. While there
was a road he walked on it: when he might come to a
cross road he would turn to the right: when a man said
"whoh" he would stop: when he said "hike" he would
go backwards, and when he said "yep" he would go on
again. That was life, and if one questioned it, one was
hit with a stick, or a boot, or a lump of rock: if one con-
tinued walking nothing happened, and that was happi-
The Philosopher saluted this cavalcade.
"God be with you," said he.
"God and Mary be with you," said the first man.
"God, and Mary, and Patrick be with you," said the
"God, and Mary, and Patrick, and Brigid be with
you," said the woman.
The ass, however, did not say a thing. As the word
"whoh" had not entered into the conversation he knew
it was none of his business, and so he turned to the right
on the new path and continued his journey.
"Where are you going to, stranger," said the first
"I am going to visit Angus Og," replied the Philoso-
The man gave him a quick look.
"Well," said he, "that's the queerest story I ever
heard. Listen here," he called to the others, "this man
is looking for Angus Og."
The other man and woman came closer.
"What would you be wanting with Angus Og, Mister
Honey?" said the woman.
"Oh," replied the Philosopher, "it's a particular thing,
a family matter."
There was silence for a few minutes, and they all
stepped onwards behind the ass and cart.
"How do you know where to look for himself?" said
the first man again: "maybe you got the place where he
lives written down in an old book or on a carved stone?"
"Or did you find the staff of Amergin or of Ossian
in a bog and it written from the top to the bottom with
signs?" said the second man.
"No," said the Philosopher, "it isn't that way you'd
go visiting a god. What you do is, you go out from your
house and walk straight away in any direction with your
shadow behind you so long as it is towards a mountain,
for the gods will not stay in a valley or a level plain, but
only in high places; and then, if the god wants you to see
him, you will go to his rath as direct as if you knew
where it was, for he will be leading you with an airy
thread reaching from his own place to wherever you are,
and if he doesn't want to see you, you will never find out
where he is, not if you were to walk for a year or twenty
"How do you know he wants to see you?" said the
"Why wouldn't he want?" said the Philosopher.
"Maybe, Mister Honey," said the woman, "you are a
holy sort of a man that a god would like well."
"Why would I be that?" said the Philosopher. "The
gods like a man whether he's holy or not if he's only
"Ah, well, there's plenty of that sort," said the first
man. "What do you happen to have in your bag,
"Nothing," replied the Philosopher, "but a cake and
a half that was baked for my journey."
"Give me a bit of your cake, Mister Honey," said the
woman. "I like to have a taste of everybody's cake."
"I will, and welcome," said the Philosopher.
"You may as well give us all a bit while you are about
it," said the second man. "That woman hasn't got all
the hunger of the world."
"Why not," said the Philosopher, and he divided the
"There's a sup of water up yonder," said the first
man, "and it will do to moisten the cake--Whoh, you
devil," he roared at the ass, and the ass stood stock still
on the minute.
There was a thin fringe of grass along the road near
a wall, and towards this the ass began to edge very
"Hike, you beast, you," shouted the man, and the ass
at once hiked, but he did it in a way that brought him
close to the grass. The first man took a tin can out of
the cart and climbed over the little wall for water. Be-
fore he went he gave the ass three kicks on the nose, but
the ass did not say a word, he only hiked still more which
brought him directly on to the grass, and when the man
climbed over the wall the ass commenced to crop the
grass. There was a spider sitting on a hot stone in the
grass. He had a small body and wide legs, and he wasn't
"Does anybody ever kick you in the nose?" said the
ass to him.
"Ay does there," said the spider; "you and your like
that are always walking on me, or lying down on me, or
running over me with the wheels of a cart."
"Well, why don't you stay on the wall?" said the ass.
"Sure, my wife is there," replied the spider.
"What's the harm in that?" said the ass.
"She'd eat me," said the spider, "and, anyhow, the
competition on the wall is dreadful, and the flies are
getting wiser and timider every season. Have you got
a wife yourself, now?"
"I have not," said the ass; "I wish I had."
"You like your wife for the first while," said the
spider, "and after that you hate her."
"If I had the first while I'd chance the second while,"
replied the ass.
"It's bachelor's talk," said the spider; "all the same,
we can't keep away from them," and so saying he began
to move all his legs at once in the direction of the wall.
"You can only die once," said he.
"If your wife was an ass she wouldn't eat you," said
"She'd be doing something else then," replied the
spider, and he climbed up the wall.
The first man came back with the can of water and
they sat down on the grass and ate the cake and drank
the water. All the time the woman kept her eyes fixed
on the Philosopher.
"Mister Honey," said she, "I think you met us just
at the right moment."
The other two men sat upright and looked at each
other and then with equal intentness they looked at the
"Why do you say that?" said the Philosopher.
"We were having a great argument along the road,
and if we were to be talking from now to the dav of
doom that argument would never be finished."
"It must have been a great argument. Was it about
predestination or where consciousness comes from?"
"It was not; it was which of these two men was to
"That's not a great argument," said the Philosopher.
"Isn't it," said the woman. "For seven days and six
nights we didn't talk about anything else, and that's a
great argument or I'd like to know what is."
"But where is the trouble, ma'am?" said the Philoso-
"It's this," she replied, "that I can't make up my mind
which of the men I'll take, for I like one as well as the
other and better, and I'd as soon have one as the other
"It's a hard case," said the Philosopher.
"It is," said the woman, "and I'm sick and sorry with
the trouble of it."
"And why did you say that I had come up in a good
"Because, Mister Honey, when a woman has two men
to choose from she doesn't know what to do, for two
men always become like brothers so that you wouldn't
know which of them was which: there isn't any more
difference between two men than there is between a
couple of hares. But when there's three men to choose
from, there's no trouble at all; and so I say that it's your-
self I'll marry this night and no one else--and let you
two men be sitting quiet in your places, for I'm telling
you what I'll do and that's the end of it."
"I'll give you my word," said the first man, "that I'm
just as glad as you are to have it over and done with."
"Moidered I was," said the second man, "with the
whole argument, and the this and that of it, and you not
able to say a word but--maybe I will and maybe I won't,
and this is true and that is true, and why not to me and
why not to him--I'll get a sleep this night."
The Philosopher was perplexed.
"You cannot marry me, ma'am," said he, "because
I'm married already."
The woman turned round on him angrily.
"Don't be making any argument with me now," said
she, "for I won't stand it."
The first man looked fiercely at the Philosopher, and
then motioned to his companion.
"Give that man a clout in the jaw," said he.
The second man was preparing to do this when the
woman intervened angrily.
"Keep your hands to yourself," said she, "or it'll be
the worse for you. I'm well able to take care of my
own husband," and she drew nearer and sat between the
Philosopher and the men.
At that moment the Philosopher's cake lost all its
savour, and he packed the remnant into his wallet. They
all sat silently looking at their feet and thinking each
one according to his nature. The Philosopher's mind,
which for the past day had been in eclipse, stirred faintly
to meet these new circumstances, but without much re-
sult. There was a flutter at his heart which was terrify-
ing, but not unpleasant. Quickening through his appre-
hension was an expectancy which stirred his pulses into
speed. So rapidly did his blood flow, so quickly were an
hundred impressions visualized and recorded, so violent
was the surface movement of his brain that he did not
realize he was unable to think and that he was only seeing
The first man stood up.
"The night will be coming on soon," said he, "and we
had better be walking on if we want to get a good place
to sleep. Yep, you devil," he roared at the ass, and the
ass began to move almost before he lifted his head from
the grass. The two men walked one on either side of the
cart, and the woman and the Philosopher walked behind
at the tail-board.
"If you were feeling tired, or anything like that, Mis-
ter Honey," said the woman, "you could climb up into
the little cart, and nobody would say a word to you, for
I can see that you are not used to travelling."
"I am not indeed, ma'am," he replied; "this is the
first time I ever came on a journey, and if it wasn't for
Angus Og I wouldn't put a foot out of my own place for
"Put Angus Og out of your head, my dear," she re-
plied, "for what would the likes of you and me be saying
to a god. He might put a curse on us would sink us into
the ground or burn us up like a grip of straw. Be con-
tented now, I'm saying, for if there is a woman in the
world who knows all things I am that woman myself,
and if you tell your trouble to me I'll tell you the thing
to do just as good as Angus himself, and better perhaps."
"That is very interesting," said the Philosopher.
"What kind of things do you know best?"
"If you were to ask one of them two men walking
beside the ass they'd tell you plenty of things they saw
me do when they could do nothing themselves. When
there wasn't a road to take anywhere I showed them a
road, and when there wasn't a bit of food in the world I
gave them food, and when they were bet to the last I put
shillings in their hands, and that's the reason they wanted
to marry me."
"Do you call that kind of thing wisdom?" said the
"Why wouldn't I?" said she. "Isn't it wisdom to go
through the world without fear and not to be hungry in
a hungry hour?"
"I suppose it is," he replied, "but I never thought of
it that way myself."
"And what would you call wisdom?"
"I couldn't rightly say now," he replied, "but I think
it was not to mind about the world, and not to care
whether you were hungry or not, and not to live in the
world at all but only in your own head, for the world is
a tyrannous place. You have to raise yourself above
things instead of letting things raise themselves above
you. We must not be slaves to each other, and we must
not be slaves to our necessities either. That is the prob-
lem of existence. There is no dignity in life at all if
hunger can shout 'stop' at every turn of the road and
the day's journey is measured by the distance between
one sleep and the next sleep. Life is all slavery, and
Nature is driving us with the whips of appetite and
weariness; but when a slave rebels he ceases to be a slave,
and when we are too hungry to live we can die and have
our laugh. I believe that Nature is just as alive as we
are, and that she is as much frightened of us as we are
of her, and, mind you this, mankind has declared war
against Nature and we will win. She does not under-
stand yet that her geologic periods won't do any longer,
and that while she is pattering along the line of least
resistance we are going to travel fast and far until we
find her, and then, being a female, she is bound to give
in when she is challenged."
"It's good talk," said the woman, "but it's foolishness.
Women never give in unless they get what they want,
and where's the harm to them then? You have to live
in the world, my dear, whether you like it or not, and,
believe me now, that there isn't any wisdom but to keep
clear of the hunger, for if that gets near enough it will
make a hare of you. Sure, listen to reason now like a
good man. What is Nature at all but a word that
learned men have made to talk about. There's clay and
gods and men, and they are good friends enough."
The sun had long since gone down, and the grey eve-
ning was bowing over the land, hiding the mountain
peaks, and putting a shadow round the scattered bushes
and the wide clumps of heather.
"I know a place up here where we can stop for the
night," said she, "and there's a little shebeen round the
bend of the road where we can get anything we want."
At the word "whoh" the ass stopped and one of the
men took the harness off him. When he was unyoked the
man gave him two kicks: "Be off with you, you devil,
and see if you can get anything to eat," he roared. The
ass trotted a few paces off and searched about until he
found some grass. He ate this, and when he had eaten
as much as he wanted he returned and lay down under a
wall. He lay for a long time looking in the one direc-
tion, and at last he put his head down and went to sleep.
While he was sleeping he kept one ear up and the other
ear down for about twenty minutes, and then he put the
first ear down and the other one up, and he kept on do-
ing this all the night. If he had anything to lose you
wouldn't mind him setting up sentries, but he hadn't a
thing in the world except his skin and his bones, and no
one would be bothered stealing them.
One of the men took a long bottle out of the cart and
walked up the road with it. The other man lifted out a
tin bucket which was punched all over with jagged holes.
Then he took out some sods of turf and lumps of wood
and he put these in the bucket, and in a few minutes he
had a very nice fire lit. A pot of water was put on to
boil, and the woman cut up a great lump of bacon which
she put into the pot. She had eight eggs in a place in the
cart, and a flat loaf of bread, and some cold boiled pota-
toes, and she spread her apron on the ground and ar-
ranged these things on it.
The other man came down the road again with his big
bottle filled with porter, and he put this in a safe place.
Then they emptied everything out of the cart and hoisted
it over the little wall. They turned the cart on one side
and pulled it near to the fire, and they all sat inside the
cart and ate their supper. When supper was done they
lit their pipes, and the woman lit a pipe also. The bot-
tle of porter was brought forward, and they took drinks
in turn out of the bottle, and smoked their pipes, and
There was no moon that night, and no stars, so that
just beyond the fire there was a thick darkness which one
would not like to look at, it was so cold and empty.
While talking they all kept their eyes fixed on the red
fire, or watched the smoke from their pipes drifting and
curling away against the blackness, and disappearing as
suddenly as lightning.
"I wonder," said the first man, "what it was gave you
the idea of marrying this man instead of myself or my
comrade, for we are young, hardy men, and he is getting
old, God help him!"
"Aye, indeed," said the second man; "he's as grey as
a badger, and there's no flesh on his bones."
"You have a right to ask that," said she, "and I'll tell
you why I didn't marry either of you. You are only a
pair of tinkers going from one place to another, and not
knowing anything at all of fine things; but himself was
walking along the road looking for strange, high adven-
tures, and it's a man like that a woman would be wishing
to marry if he was twice as old as he is. When did either
of you go out in the daylight looking for a god and you
not caring what might happen to you or where you
"What I'm thinking," said the second man, "is that
if you leave the gods alone they'll leave you alone. It's
no trouble to them to do whatever is right themselves,
and what call would men like us have to go mixing or
meddling with their high affairs?"
"I thought all along that you were a timid man," said
she, "and now I know it." She turned again to the Philo-
sopher--"Take off your boots, Mister Honey, the way
you'll rest easy, and I'll be making down a soft bed for
you in the cart."
In order to take off his boots the Philosopher had to
stand up, for in the cart they were too cramped for free-
dom. He moved backwards a space from the fire and
took off his boots. He could see the woman stretching
sacks and clothes inside the cart, and the two men smok-
ing quietly and handing the big bottle from one to the
other. Then in his stockinged feet he stepped a little
farther from the fire, and, after another look, he turned
and walked quietly away into the blackness. In a few
minutes he heard a shout from behind him, and then a
number of shouts and then these died away into a plain-
tive murmur of voices, and next he was alone in the great-
est darkness he had ever known.
He put on his boots and walked onwards. He had
no idea where the road lay, and every moment he stum-
bled into a patch of heather or prickly furze. The
ground was very uneven with unexpected mounds and
deep hollows: here and there were water-soaked, soggy
places, and into these cold ruins he sank ankle deep.
There was no longer an earth or a sky, but only a black
void and a thin wind and a fierce silence which seemed to
listen to him as he went. Out of that silence a thunder-
ing laugh might boom at an instant and stop again while
he stood appalled in the blind vacancy.
The hill began to grow more steep and rocks were ly-
ing everywhere in his path. He could not see an inch
in front, and so he went with his hands out-stretched like
a blind man who stumbles painfully along. After a time
he was nearly worn out with cold and weariness, but he
dared not sit down anywhere; the darkness was so in-
tense that it frightened him, and the overwhelming,
crafty silence frightened him also.
At last, and at a great distance, he saw a flickering,
waving light, and he went towards this through drifts of
heather, and over piled rocks and sodden bogland. When
he came to the light he saw it was a torch of thick
branches, the flame whereof blew hither and thither on
the wind. The torch was fastened against a great cliff
of granite by an iron band. At one side there was a dark
opening in the rock, so he said: "I will go in there and
sleep until the morning comes," and he went in. At a
very short distance the cleft turned again to the right,
and here there was another torch fixed. When he turned
this corner he stood for an instant in speechless astonish-
ment, and then he covered his face and bowed down upon
THE TWO GODS
CAITILIN NI MURRACHU was sitting alone in the little
cave behind Gort na Cloca Mora. Her companion had
gone out as was his custom to walk in the sunny morning
and to sound his pipe in desolate, green spaces whence,
perhaps, the wanderer of his desire might hear the guid-
ing sweetness. As she sat she was thinking. The last
few days had awakened her body, and had also awakened
her mind, for with the one awakening comes the other.
The despondency which had touched her previously when
tending her father's cattle came to her again, but recog-
nizably now. She knew the thing which the wind had
whispered in the sloping field and for which she had no
name--it was Happiness. Faintly she shadowed it forth,
but yet she could not see it. It was only a pearl-pale
wraith, almost formless, too tenuous to be touched by her
hands, and too aloof to be spoken to. Pan had told her
that he was the giver of happiness, but he had given her
only unrest and fever and a longing which could not be
satisfied. Again there was a want, and she could not
formulate, or even realize it with any closeness. Her
new-born Thought had promised everything, even as
Pan, and it had given--she could not say that it had
given her nothing or anything. Its limits were too
quickly divinable. She had found the Tree of Knowl-
edge, but about on every side a great wall soared blackly
enclosing her in from the Tree of Life--a wall which
her thought was unable to surmount even while instinct
urged that it must topple before her advance; but in-
stinct may not advance when thought has schooled it in
the science of unbelief; and this wall will not be con-
quered until Thought and Instinct are wed, and the first
son of that bridal will be called The Scaler of the Wall.
So, after the quiet weariness of ignorance, the unquiet
weariness of thought had fallen upon her. That travail
of mind which, through countless generations, has throed
to the birth of an ecstasy, the prophecy which humanity
has sworn must be fulfilled, seeing through whatever
mists and doubtings the vision of a gaiety wherein the
innocence of the morning will not any longer be strange
to our maturity.
While she was so thinking Pan returned, a little dis-
heartened that he had found no person to listen to his
pipings. He had been seated but a little time when sud-
denly, from without, a chorus of birds burst into joyous
singing. Limpid and liquid cadenzas, mellow flutings,
and the sweet treble of infancy met and danced and
piped in the airy soundings. A round, soft tenderness of
song rose and fell, broadened and soared, and then the
high flight was snatched, eddied a moment, and was
borne away to a more slender and wonderful loftiness,
until, from afar, that thrilling song turned on the very
apex of sweetness, dipped steeply and flashed its joyous
return to the exultations of its mates below, rolling an
ecstasy of song which for one moment gladdened the
whole world and the sad people who moved thereon;
then the singing ceased as suddenly as it began, a swift
shadow darkened the passage, and Angus Og came into
Caitilin sprang from her seat Frighted, and Pan also
made a half movement towards rising, but instantly sank
back again to his negligent, easy posture.
The god was slender and as swift as a wind. His hair
swung about his face like golden blossoms. His eyes
were mild and dancing and his lips smiled with quiet
sweetness. About his head there flew perpetually a ring
of singing birds, and when he spoke his voice came
sweetly from a centre of sweetness.
"Health to you, daughter of Murrachu," said he, and
he sat down.
"I do not know you, sir," the terrified girl whispered.
"I cannot be known until I make myself known," he
replied. "I am called Infinite Joy, O daughter of Mur-
rachu, and I am called Love."
The girl gazed doubtfully from one to the other.
Pan looked up from his pipes.
"I also am called Love," said he gently, "and I am
Angus Og looked for the first time at Pan.
"Singer of the Vine," said he, "I know your names--
they are Desire and Fever and Lust and Death. Why
have you come from your own place to spy upon my pas-
tures and my quiet fields?"
Pan replied mildly.
"The mortal gods move by the Immortal Will, and,
therefore, I am here."
"And I am here," said Angus.
"Give me a sign," said Pan, "that I must go."
Angus Og lifted his hand and from without there came
again the triumphant music of the birds.
"It is a sign," said he, "the voice of Dana speaking in
the air," and, saying so, he made obeisance to the great
Pan lifted his hand, and from afar there came the
lowing of the cattle and the thin voices of the goats.
"It is a sign," said he, "the voice of Demeter speaking
from the earth," and he also bowed deeply to the mother
of the world.
Again Angus Og lifted his hand, and in it there ap-
peared a spear, bright and very terrible.
But Pan only said, "Can a spear divine the Eternal
Will?" and Angus Og put his weapon aside, and he said:
"The girl will choose between us, for the Divine Mood
shines in the heart of man."
Then Caitilin Ni Murrachu came forward and sat be-
tween the gods, but Pan stretched out his hand and drew
her to him, so that she sat resting against his shoulder
and his arm was about her body.
"We will speak the truth to this girl," said Angus Og.
"Can the gods speak otherwise?" said Pan, and he
laughed with delight.
"It is the difference between us," replied Angus Og.
"She will judge."
"Shepherd Girl," said Pan, pressing her with his arm,
"you will judge between us. Do you know what is the
greatest thing in the world?--because it is of that you
will have to judge."
"I have heard," the girl replied, "two things called
the greatest things. You," she continued to Pan, "said
it was Hunger, and long ago my father said that Com-
monsense was the greatest thing in the world."
"I have not told you," said Angus Og, "what I con-
sider is the greatest thing in the world."
"It is your right to speak," said Pan.
"The greatest thing in the world," said Angus Og, "is
the Divine Imagination."
"Now," said Pan, "we know all the greatest things
and we can talk of them."
"The daughter of Murrachu," continued Angus Og,
"has told us what you think and what her father thinks,
but she has not told us what she thinks herself. Tell us,
Caitilin Ni Murrachu, what you think is the greatest
thing in the world."
So Caitilin Ni Murrachu thought for a few moments
and then replied timidly.
"I think that Happiness is the greatest thing in the
world," said she.
Hearing this they sat in silence for a little time, and
then Angus Og spoke again-
"The Divine Imagination may only be known through
the thoughts of His creatures. A man has said Common-
sense and a woman has said Happiness are the greatest
things in the world. These things are male and female,
for Commonsense is Thought and Happiness is Emotion,
and until they embrace in Love the will of Immensity
cannot be fruitful. For, behold, there has been no mar-
riage of humanity since time began. Men have but
coupled with their own shadows. The desire that sprang
from their heads they pursued, and no man has yet
known the love of a woman. And women have mated
with the shadows of their own hearts, thinking fondly
that the arms of men were about them. I saw my son
dancing with an Idea, and I said to him, 'With what do
you dance, my son?' and he replied, 'I make merry with
the wife of my affection,' and truly she was shaped as a
woman is shaped, but it was an Idea he danced with and
not a woman. And presently he went away to his labours,
and then his Idea arose and her humanity came upon her
so that she was clothed with beauty and terror, and she
went apart and danced with the servant of my son, and
there was great joy of that dancing--for a person in the
wrong place is an Idea and not a person. Man is
Thought and woman is Intuition, and they have never
mated. There is a gulf between them and it is called
Fear, and what they fear is, that their strengths shall be
taken from them and they may no longer be tyrants. The
Eternal has made love blind, for it is not by science, but
by intuition alone, that he may come to his beloved; but
desire, which is science, has many eyes and sees so vastly
that he passes his love in the press, saying there is no
love, and he propagates miserably on his own delusions.
The finger-tips are guided by God, but the devil looks
through the eyes of all creatures so that they may wan-
der in the errors of reason and justify themselves of
their wanderings. The desire of a man shall be Beauty,
but he has fashioned a slave in his mind and called it
Virtue. The desire of a woman shall be Wisdom, but she
has formed a beast in her blood and called it Courage:
but the real virtue is courage, and the real courage is
liberty, and the real liberty is wisdom, and Wisdom is
the son of Thought and Intuition; and his names also are
Innocence and Adoration and Happiness."
When Angus Og had said these words he ceased, and
for a time there was silence in the little cave. Caitilin
had covered her face with her hands and would not look
at him, but Pan drew the girl closer to his side and peered
sideways, laughing at Angus.
"Has the time yet come for the girl to judge between
us?" said he.
"Daughter of Murrachu," said Angus Og, "will you
come away with me from this place?"
Caitilin then looked at the god in great distress.
"I do not know what to do," said she. "Why do you
both want me? I have given myself to Pan, and his
arms are about me."
"I want you," said Angus Og, "because the world has
forgotten me. In all my nation there is no remembrance
of me. I, wandering on the hills of my country, am
lonely indeed. I am the desolate god forbidden to utter
my happy laughter. I hide the silver of my speech and
the gold of my merriment. I live in the holes of the
rocks and the dark caves of the sea. I weep in the morn-
ing because I may not laugh, and in the evening I go
abroad and am not happy. Where I have kissed a bird
has flown; where I have trod a flower has sprung. But
Thought has snared my birds in his nets and sold them
in the market-places. Who will deliver me from
Thought, from the base holiness of Intellect, the maker
of chains and traps? Who will save me from the holy
impurity of Emotion, whose daughters are Envy and
Jealousy and Hatred, who plucks my flowers to orna-
ment her lusts and my little leaves to shrivel on the
breasts of infamy? Lo, I am sealed in the caves of non-
entity until the head and the heart shall come together
in fruitfulness, until Thought has wept for Love, and
Emotion has purified herself to meet her lover. Tir-na-
nOg is the heart of a man and the head of a woman.
Widely they are separated. Self-centred they stand, and
between them the seas of space are flooding desolately.
No voice can shout across those shores. No eye can
bridge them, nor any desire bring them together until the
blind god shall find them on the wavering stream--not
as an arrow searches straightly from a bow, but gently,
imperceptibly as a feather on the wind reaches the ground
on a hundred starts; not with the compass and the chart,
but by the breath of the Almighty which blows from all
quarters without care and without ceasing. Night and
day it urges from the outside to the inside. It gathers
ever to the centre. From the far without to the deep
within, trembling from the body to the soul until the
head of a woman and the heart of a man are filled with
the Divine Imagination. Hymen, Hymenaea! I sing
to the ears that are stopped, the eyes that are sealed, and
the minds that do not labour. Sweetly I sing on the hill-
side. The blind shall look within and not without; the
deaf shall hearken to the murmur of their own veins, and
be enchanted with the wisdom of sweetness; the thought-
less shall think without effort as the lightning flashes,
that the hand of Innocence may reach to the stars, that
the feet of Adoration may dance to the Father of Joy,
and the laugh of Happiness be answered by the Voice of
Thus Angus Og sang in the cave, and ere he had
ceased Caitilin Ni Murrachu withdrew herself from the
arms of her desires. But so strong was the hold of Pan
upon her that when she was free her body bore the marks
of his grip, and many days passed away before these
Then Pan arose in silence, taking his double reed in
his hand, and the girl wept, beseeching him to stay to be
her brother and the brother of her beloved, but Pan
smiled and said: "Your beloved is my father and my son.
He is yesterday and to-morrow. He is the nether and
the upper millstone, and I am crushed between until I
kneel again before the throne from whence I came," and,
saying so, he embraced Angus Og most tenderly and went
his way to the quiet fields, and across the slopes of the
mountains, and beyond the blue distances of space.
And in a little time Caitilin Ni Murrachu went with
her companion across the brow of the hill, and she did
not go with him because she had understood his words,
nor because he was naked and unashamed, but only be-
cause his need of her was very great, and, therefore, she
loved him, and stayed his feet in the way, and was con-
cerned lest he should stumble.
THE PHILOSOPHER'S RETURN
WHICH is, the Earth or the creatures that move upon it,
the more important? This is a question prompted solely
by intellectual arrogance, for in life there is no greater
and no less. The thing that is has justified its own im-
portance by mere existence, for that is the great and
equal achievement. If life were arranged for us from
without such a question of supremacy would assume im-
portance, but life is always from within, and is modified
or extended by our own appetites, aspirations, and cen-
tral activities. From without we get pollen and the re-
freshment of space and quietude--it is sufficient. We
might ask, is the Earth anything more than an extension
of our human consciousness, or are we, moving creatures,
only projections of the Earth's antennae? But these mat-
ters have no value save as a field wherein Thought, like
a wise lamb, may frolic merrily. And all would be very
well if Thought would but continue to frolic, instead of
setting up first as locum tenens for Intuition and sticking
to the job, and afterwards as the counsel and critic of
Omnipotence. Everything has two names, and every-
thing is twofold. The name of male Thought as it faces
the world is Philosophy, but the name it bears in Tir-
na-nOg is Delusion. Female Thought is called Socialism
on earth, but in Eternity it is known as Illusion; and this
is so because there has been no matrimony of minds, but
only an hermaphroditic propagation of automatic ideas,
which in their due rotation assume dominance and reign
severely. To the world this system of thought, because
it is consecutive, is known as Logic, but Eternity has writ-
ten it down in the Book of Errors as Mechanism: for life
may not be consecutive, but explosive and variable, else
it is a shackled and timorous slave.
One of the great troubles of life is that Reason has
taken charge of the administration of Justice, and by
mere identification it has achieved the crown and sceptre
of its master. But the imperceptible usurpation was re-
corded, and discriminating minds understand the chasm
which still divides the pretender Law from the exiled
King. In a like manner, and with feigned humility, the
Cold Demon advanced to serve Religion, and by guile
and violence usurped her throne; but the pure in heart
still fly from the spectre Theology to dance in ecstasy
before the starry and eternal goddess. Statecraft, also,
that tender Shepherd of the Flocks, has been despoiled
of his crook and bell, and wanders in unknown desolation
while, beneath the banner of Politics, Reason sits howling
over an intellectual chaos.
Justice is the maintaining of equilibrium. The blood
of Cain must cry, not from the lips of the Avenger, but
from the aggrieved Earth herself who demands that
atonement shall be made for a disturbance of her con-
sciousness. All justice is, therefore, readjustment. A
thwarted consciousness has every right to clamour for
assistance, but not for punishment. This latter can only
be sought by timorous and egotistic Intellect, which sees
the Earth from which it has emerged and into which it
must return again in its own despite, and so, being self-
centred and envious and a renegade from life, Reason is
more cruelly unjust, and more timorous than any other
manifestation of the divinely erratic energy--erratic, be-
cause, as has been said, "the crooked roads are the roads
of genius." Nature grants to all her creatures an un-
restricted liberty, quickened by competitive appetite, to
succeed or to fail; save only to Reason, her Demon of
Order, which can do neither, and whose wings she has
clipped for some reason with which I am not yet ac-
quainted. It may be that an unrestricted mentality would
endanger her own intuitive perceptions by shackling all
her other organs of perception, or annoy her by vexatious
efforts at creative rivalry.
It will, therefore, be understood that when the Lepre-
cauns of Gort na Cloca Mora acted in the manner about
to be recorded, they were not prompted by any lewd
passion for revenge, but were merely striving to recon-
struct a rhythm which was their very existence, and which
must have been of direct importance to the Earth. Re-
venge is the vilest passion known to life. It has made
Law possible, and by doing so it gave to Intellect the first
grip at that universal dominion which is its ambition. A
Leprecaun is of more value to the Earth than is a Prime
Minister or a stockbroker, because a Leprecaun dances
and makes merry, while a Prime Minister knows nothing
of these natural virtues--consequently, an injury done
to a Leprecaun afflicts the Earth with misery, and justice
is, for these reasons, an imperative and momentous neces-
A community of Leprecauns without a crock of gold
is a blighted and merriless community, and they are cer-
tainly justified in seeking sympathy and assistance for the
recovery of so essential a treasure. But the steps
whereby the Leprecauns of Gort na Cloca Mora sought
to regain their property must for ever brand their
memory with a certain odium. It should be remembered
in their favour that they were cunningly and cruelly en-
compassed. Not only was their gold stolen, but it was
buried in such a position as placed it under the protection
of their own communal honour, and the household of
their enemy was secured against their active and righteous
malice, because the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath be-
longed to the most powerful Shee of Ireland. It is in
circumstances such as these that dangerous alliances are
made, and, for the first time in history, the elemental
beings invoked bourgeois assistance.
They were loath to do it, and justice must record the
fact. They were angry when they did it, and anger is
both mental and intuitive blindness. It is not the benef-
icent blindness which prevents one from seeing without,
but it is that desperate darkness which cloaks the within,
and hides the heart and the brain from each other's
husbandry and wifely recognition. But even those miti-
gating circumstances cannot justify the course they
adopted, and the wider idea must be sought for, that out
of evil good must ultimately come, or else evil is vitiated
beyond even the redemption of usage. When they were
able to realize of what they had been guilty, they were
very sorry indeed, and endeavoured to publish their re-
pentance in many ways; but, lacking atonement, repent-
ance is only a post-mortem virtue which is good for noth-
ing but burial.
When the Leprecauns of Gort na Cloca Mora found
they were unable to regain their crock of gold by any
means they laid an anonymous information at the nearest
Police Station showing that two dead bodies would be
found under the hearthstone in the hut of Coille Doraca,
and the inference to be drawn from their crafty missive
was that these bodies had been murdered by the Philoso-
pher for reasons very discreditable to him.
The Philosopher had been scarcely more than three
hours on his journey to Angus Og when four policemen
approached the little house from as many different direc-
tions, and without any trouble they effected an entrance.
The Thin Woman of Inis Magrath and the two children
heard from afar their badly muffled advance, and on dis-
covering the character of their visitors they concealed
themselves among the thickly clustering trees. Shortly
after the men had entered the hut loud and sustained
noises began to issue therefrom, and in about twenty
minutes the invaders emerged again bearing the bodies
of the Grey Woman of Dun Gortin and her husband.
They wrenched the door off its hinges, and, placing the
bodies on the door, proceeded at a rapid pace through
the trees and disappeared in a short time. When they
had departed the Thin Woman and the children re-
turned to their home and over the yawning hearth the
Thin Woman pronounced a long and fervid malediction
wherein policemen were exhibited naked before the
blushes of Eternity. . .
With your good-will let us now return to the Philo-
Following his interview with Angus Og the Philoso-
pher received the blessing of the god and returned on his
homeward journey. When he left the cave he had no
knowledge where he was nor whether he should turn to
the right hand or to the left. This alone was his guiding
idea, that as he had come up the mountain on his first
journey his home-going must, by mere opposition, be
down the mountain, and, accordingly, he set his face
downhill and trod lustily forward. He had stamped up
the hill with vigour, he strode down it in ecstasy. He
tossed his voice on every wind that went by. From tne
wells of forgetfulness he regained the shining words and
gay melodies which his childhood had delighted in, and
these he sang loudly and unceasingly as he marched.
The sun had not yet risen but, far away, a quiet bright-
ness was creeping over the sky. The daylight, however,
was near the full, one slender veil only remaining of the
shadows, and a calm, unmoving quietude brooded from
the grey sky to the whispering earth. The birds had
begun to bestir themselves but not to sing. Now and
again a solitary wing feathered the chill air; but for the
most part the birds huddled closer in the swinging nests,
or under the bracken, or in the tufty grass. Here a faint
twitter was heard and ceased. A little farther a drowsy
voice called "cheep-cheep" and turned again to the
warmth of its wing. The very grasshoppers were silent.
The creatures who range in the night time had returned
to their cells and were setting their households in order,
and those who belonged to the day hugged their comfort
for but one minute longer. Then the first level beam
stepped like a mild angel to the mountain top. The
slender radiance brightened and grew strong. The grey
veil faded away. The birds leaped from their nests.
The grasshoppers awakened and were busy at a stroke.
Voice called to voice without ceasing, and, momently, a
song thrilled for a few wide seconds. But for the most
part it was chatter-chatter they went as they soared and
plunged and swept, each bird eager for its breakfast.
The Philosopher thrust his hand into his wallet and
found there the last broken remnants of his cake, and the
instant his hand touched the food he was seized by a
hunger so furious that he sat down where he stopped and
prepared to eat.
The place where he sat was a raised bank under a
hedge, and this place directly fronted a clumsy wooden
gate leading into a great field. When the Philosopher
had seated himself he raised his eyes and saw through
the gate a small company approaching. There were four
men and three women, and each of them carried a metal
pail. The Philosopher with a sigh returned the cake to
his wallet, saying:
"All men are brothers, and it may be that these people
are as hungry as I am."
In a short time the strangers came near. The fore-
most of them was a huge man who was bearded to the
eyelids and who moved like a strong wind. He opened
the gate by removing a piece of wood wherewith it was
jammed, and he and his companions passed through,
whereupon he closed the gate and secured it. To this
man, as being the eldest, the Philosopher approached.
"I am about to breakfast," said he, "and if you are
hungry perhaps you would like to eat with me."
"Why not," said the man, "for the person who would
refuse a kind invitation is a dog. These are my three
sons and three of my daughters, and we are all thankful
Saying this he sat down on the bank and his com-
panions, placing their pails behind them, did likewise.
The Philosopher divided his cake into eight pieces and
gave one to each person.
"I am sorry it is so little," said he.
"A gift," said the bearded man, "is never little," and
he courteously ate his piece in three bites although he
could have easily eaten it in one, and his children also.
"That was a good, satisfying cake," said he when he
had finished; "it was well baked and well shared, but," he
continued, "I am in a difficulty and maybe you could ad-
vise me what to do, sir?"
"What might be your trouble?" said the Philosopher.
"It is this," said the man. "Every morning when we
go out to milk the cows the mother of my clann gives to
each of us a parcel of food so that we need not be any
hungrier than we like; but now we have had a good
breakfast with you, what shall we do with the food that
we brought with us? The woman of the house would
not be pleased if we carried it back to her, and if we
threw food away it would be a sin. If it was not dis-
respectful to your breakfast the boys and girls here might
be able to get rid of it by eating it, for, as you know,
young people can always eat a bit more, no matter how
much they have already eaten."
"It would surely be better to eat it than to waste it,"
said the Philosopher wistfully.
The young people produced large parcels of food from
their pockets and opened them, and the bearded man
said, "I have a little one myself also, and it would not
be wasted if you were kind enough to help me to eat it,"
and he pulled out his parcel, which was twice as big as
any of the others.
He opened the parcel and handed the larger part of
its contents to the Philosopher; he then plunged a tin
vessel into one of the milk pails and set this also by the
Philosopher, and, instantly, they all began to eat with
When the meal was finished the Philosopher filled his
tobacco pipe and the bearded man and his three sons did
"Sir," said the bearded man, "I would be glad to
know why you are travelling abroad so early in the morn-
ing, for, at this hour, no one stirs but the sun and the
birds and the folk who, like ourselves, follow the cattle?"
"I will tell you that gladly," said the Philosopher, "if
you will tell me your name."
"My name," said the bearded man, "is Mac Cul."
"Last night," said the Philosopher, "when I came
from the house of Angus Og in the Caves of the Sleepers
of Erinn I was bidden say to a man named Mac Cul--
that the horses had trampled in their sleep and the
sleepers had turned on their sides."
"Sir," said the bearded man, "your words thrill in my
heart like music, but my head does not understand them."
"I have learned," said the Philosopher, "that the head
does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and
that what the heart knows to-day the head will under-
"All the birds of the world are singing in my soul,"
said the bearded man, "and I bless you because you have
filled me with hope and pride."
So the Philosopher shook him by the hand, and he
shook the hands of his sons and daughters who bowed
before him at the mild command of their father, and
when he had gone a little way he looked around again
and he saw that group of people standing where he had
left them, and the bearded man was embracing his chil-
dren on the highroad.
A bend in the path soon shut them from view, and
then the Philosopher, fortified by food and the fresh-
ness of the morning, strode onwards singing for very
joy. It was still early, but now the birds had eaten their
breakfasts and were devoting themselves to each other.
They rested side by side on the branches of the trees and
on the hedges, they danced in the air in happy brother-
hoods and they sang to one another amiable and pleasant
When the Philosopher had walked for a long time he
felt a little weary and sat down to refresh himself in the
shadow of a great tree. Hard by there was a house of
rugged stone. Long years ago it had been a castle, and,
even now, though patched by time and misfortune its
front was warlike and frowning. While he sat a young
woman came along the road and stood gazing earnestly
at this house. Her hair was as black as night and as
smooth as still water, but her face came so stormily for-
ward that her quiet attitude had yet no quietness in it.
To her, after a few moments, the Philosopher spoke.
"Girl," said he, "why do you look so earnestly at the
The girl turned her pale face and stared at him.
"I did not notice you sitting under the tree," said she,
and she came slowly forward.
"Sit down by me," said the Philosopher, "and we will
talk. If you are in any trouble tell it to me, and perhaps
you will talk the heaviest part away."
"I will sit beside you willingly," said the girl, and she
"It is good to talk trouble over," he continued. "Do
you know that talk is a real thing? There is more power
in speech than many people conceive. Thoughts come
from God, they are born through the marriage of the
head and the lungs. The head moulds the thought into
the form of words, then it is borne and sounded on the
air which has been already in the secret kingdoms of the
body, which goes in bearing life and come out freighted
with wisdom. For this reason a lie is very terrible, be-
cause it is turning mighty and incomprehensible things to
base uses, and is burdening the life-giving element with
a foul return for its goodness; but those who speak the
truth and whose words are the symbols of wisdom and
beauty, these purify the whole world and daunt con-
tagion. The only trouble the body can know is disease.
All other miseries come from the brain, and, as these be-
long to thought, they can be driven out by their master
as unruly and unpleasant vagabonds; for a mental trouble
should be spoken to, confronted, reprimanded and so
dismissed. The brain cannot afford to harbour any but
pleasant and eager citizens who will do their part in
making laughter and holiness for the world, for that is
the duty of thought."
While the Philosopher spoke the girl had been re-
garding him steadfastly.
"Sir," said she, "we tell our hearts to a young man
and our heads to an old man, and when the heart is a
fool the head is bound to be a liar. I can tell you the
things I know, but how will I tell you the things I feel
when I myself do not understand them? If I say these
words to you 'I love a man' I do not say anything at all,
and you do not hear one of the words which my heart
is repeating over and over to itself in the silence of my
body. Young people are fools in their heads and old
people are fools in their hearts, and they can only look
at each other and pass by in wonder."
"You are wrong," said the Philosopher. "An old
person can take your hand like this and say, 'May every
good thing come to you, my daughter.' For all trouble
there is sympathy, and for love there is memory, and
these are the head and the heart talking to each other in
quiet friendship. What the heart knows to-day the head
will understand to-morrow, and as the head must be the
scholar of the heart it is necessary that our hearts be
purified and free from every false thing, else we are
tainted beyond personal redemption."
"Sir," said the girl, "I know of two great follies--
they are love and speech, for when these are given they
can never be taken back again, and the person to whom
these are given is not any richer, but the giver is made
poor and abashed. I gave my love to a man who did not
want it. I told him of my love, and he lifted his eyelids
at me; that is my trouble."
For a moment the Philosopher sat in stricken silence
looking on the ground. He had a strange disinclination
to look at the girl although he felt her eyes fixed steadily
on him. But in a little while he did look at her and spoke
"To carry gifts to an ungrateful person cannot be
justified and need not be mourned for. If your love is
noble why do you treat it meanly? If it is lewd the man
was right to reject it."
"We love as the wind blows," she replied.
"There is a thing," said the Philosopher, "and it is
both the biggest and the littlest thing in the world."
"What is that?" said the girl.
"It is pride," he answered. "It lives in an empty
house. The head which has never been visited by the
heart is the house pride lives in. You are in error, my
dear, and not in love. Drive out the knave pride, put a
flower in your hair and walk freely again."
The girl laughed, and suddenly her pale face became
Back to Full Books