The Playboy of the Western World
J. M. Synge
This etext was prepared by Judy Boss, Omaha, NE
THE PLAYBOY OF THE
A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
By J. M. SYNGE
In writing THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, as in my other plays, I have used
one or two words only that I have not heard among the country people of
Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I could read the newspapers. A
certain number of the phrases I employ I have heard also from herds and
fishermen along the coast from Kerry to Mayo, or from beggar-women and
balladsingers nearer Dublin; and I am glad to acknowledge how much I owe to
the folk imagination of these fine people. Anyone who has lived in real
intimacy with the Irish peasantry will know that the wildest sayings and ideas
in this play are tame indeed, compared with the fancies one may hear in any
little hillside cabin in Geesala, or Carraroe, or Dingle Bay. All art is a
collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of literature,
striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller's or the
playwright's hand, as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time. It is probable
that when the Elizabethan dramatist took his ink-horn and sat down to his work
he used many phrases that he had just heard, as he sat at dinner, from his
mother or his children. In Ireland, those of us who know the people have the
same privilege. When I was writing "The Shadow of the Glen," some years ago,
I got more aid than any learning could have given me from a chink in the floor
of the old Wicklow house where I was staying, that let me hear what was being
said by the servant girls in the kitchen. This matter, I think, is of
importance, for in countries where the imagination of the people, and the
language they use, is rich and living, it is possible for a writer to be rich
and copious in his words, and at the same time to give the reality, which is
the root of all poetry, in a comprehensive and natural form. In the modern
literature of towns, however, richness is found only in sonnets, or prose
poems, or in one or two elaborate books that are far away from the profound
and common interests of life. One has, on one side, Mallarme and Huysmans
producing this literature; and on the other, Ibsen and Zola dealing with the
reality of life in joyless and pallid words. On the stage one must have
reality, and one must have joy; and that is why the intellectual modern drama
has failed, and people have grown sick of the false joy of the musical comedy,
that has been given them in place of the rich joy found only in what is superb
and wild in reality. In a good play every speech should be as fully flavoured
as a nut or apple, and such speeches cannot be written by anyone who works
among people who have shut their lips on poetry. In Ireland, for a few years
more, we have a popular imagination that is fiery and magnificent, and tender;
so that those of us who wish to write start with a chance that is not given to
writers in places where the springtime of the local life has been forgotten,
and the harvest is a memory only, and the straw has been turned into bricks.
J. M. S.
January 21st, 1907.
OLD MAHON, his father, a squatter.
MICHAEL JAMES FLAHERTY (called MICHAEL JAMES), a publican.
MARGARET FLAHERTY (called] PEGEEN MIKE), his daughter.
WIDOW QUIN, a woman of about thirty.
SHAWN KEOUGH, her cousin, a young farmer.
PHILLY CULLEN AND JIMMY FARRELL, small farmers.
SARA TANSEY, SUSAN BRADY, AND HONOR BLAKE, village girls.
The action takes place near a village, on a wild coast of Mayo. The first Act
passes on an evening of autumn, the other two Acts on the following day.
THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
SCENE: [Country public-house or shebeen, very rough and untidy. There is a
sort of counter on the right with shelves, holding many bottles and jugs, just
seen above it. Empty barrels stand near the counter. At back, a little to
left of counter, there is a door into the open air, then, more to the left,
there is a settle with shelves above it, with more jugs, and a table beneath a
window. At the left there is a large open fire-place, with turf fire, and a
small door into inner room. Pegeen, a wild looking but fine girl, of about
twenty, is writing at table. She is dressed in the usual peasant dress.]
PEGEEN -- [slowly as she writes.] -- Six yards of stuff for to make a yellow
gown. A pair of lace boots with lengthy heels on them and brassy eyes. A hat
is suited for a wedding-day. A fine tooth comb. To be sent with three
barrels of porter in Jimmy Farrell's creel cart on the evening of the coming
Fair to Mister Michael James Flaherty. With the best compliments of this
season. Margaret Flaherty.
SHAWN KEOGH -- [a fat and fair young man comes in as she signs, looks round
awkwardly, when he sees she is alone.] -- Where's himself?
PEGEEN -- [without looking at him.] -- He's coming. (She directs the letter.)
To Mister Sheamus Mulroy, Wine and Spirit Dealer, Castlebar.
SHAWN -- [uneasily.] -- I didn't see him on the road.
PEGEEN. How would you see him (licks stamp and puts it on letter) and it dark
night this half hour gone by?
SHAWN -- [turning towards the door again.] -- I stood a while outside
wondering would I have a right to pass on or to walk in and see you, Pegeen
Mike (comes to fire), and I could hear the cows breathing, and sighing in the
stillness of the air, and not a step moving any place from this gate to the
PEGEEN -- [putting letter in envelope.] -- It's above at the cross-roads he
is, meeting Philly Cullen; and a couple more are going along with him to Kate
SHAWN -- [looking at her blankly.] -- And he's going that length in the dark
PEGEEN -- [impatiently.] He is surely, and leaving me lonesome on the scruff
of the hill. (She gets up and puts envelope on dresser, then winds clock.)
Isn't it long the nights are now, Shawn Keogh, to be leaving a poor girl with
her own self counting the hours to the dawn of day?
SHAWN -- [with awkward humour.] -- If it is, when we're wedded in a short
while you'll have no call to complain, for I've little will to be walking off
to wakes or weddings in the darkness of the night.
PEGEEN -- [with rather scornful good humour.] -- You're making mighty certain,
Shaneen, that I'll wed you now.
SHAWN. Aren't we after making a good bargain, the way we're only waiting
these days on Father Reilly's dispensation from the bishops, or the Court of
PEGEEN -- [looking at him teasingly, washing up at dresser.] -- It's a wonder,
Shaneen, the Holy Father'd be taking notice of the likes of you; for if I was
him I wouldn't bother with this place where you'll meet none but Red Linahan,
has a squint in his eye, and Patcheen is lame in his heel, or the mad
Mulrannies were driven from California and they lost in their wits. We're a
queer lot these times to go troubling the Holy Father on his sacred seat.
SHAWN -- [scandalized.] If we are, we're as good this place as another,
maybe, and as good these times as we were for ever.
PEGEEN -- [with scorn.] -- As good, is it? Where now will you meet the like of
Daneen Sullivan knocked the eye from a peeler, or Marcus Quin, God rest him,
got six months for maiming ewes, and he a great warrant to tell stories of
holy Ireland till he'd have the old women shedding down tears about their
feet. Where will you find the like of them, I'm saying?
SHAWN -- [timidly.] If you don't it's a good job, maybe; for (with peculiar
emphasis on the words) Father Reilly has small conceit to have that kind
walking around and talking to the girls.
PEGEEN -- [impatiently, throwing water from basin out of the door.] -- Stop
tormenting me with Father Reilly (imitating his voice) when I'm asking only
what way I'll pass these twelve hours of dark, and not take my death with the
fear. [Looking out of door.]
SHAWN -- [timidly.] Would I fetch you the widow Quin, maybe?
PEGEEN. Is it the like of that murderer? You'll not, surely.
SHAWN -- [going to her, soothingly.] -- Then I'm thinking himself will stop
along with you when he sees you taking on, for it'll be a long night-time with
great darkness, and I'm after feeling a kind of fellow above in the furzy
ditch, groaning wicked like a maddening dog, the way it's good cause you have,
maybe, to be fearing now.
PEGEEN -- [turning on him sharply.] -- What's that? Is it a man you seen?
SHAWN -- [retreating.] I couldn't see him at all; but I heard him groaning
out, and breaking his heart. It should have been a young man from his words
PEGEEN -- [going after him.] -- And you never went near to see was he hurted
or what ailed him at all?
SHAWN. I did not, Pegeen Mike. It was a dark, lonesome place to be hearing
the like of him.
PEGEEN. Well, you're a daring fellow, and if they find his corpse stretched
above in the dews of dawn, what'll you say then to the peelers, or the Justice
of the Peace?
SHAWN -- [thunderstruck.] I wasn't thinking of that. For the love of God,
Pegeen Mike, don't let on I was speaking of him. Don't tell your father and
the men is coming above; for if they heard that story, they'd have great
blabbing this night at the wake.
PEGEEN. I'll maybe tell them, and I'll maybe not.
SHAWN. They are coming at the door, Will you whisht, I'm saying?
PEGEEN. Whisht yourself.
[She goes behind counter. Michael James, fat jovial publican, comes in
followed by Philly Cullen, who is thin and mistrusting, and Jimmy Farrell, who
is fat and amorous, about forty-five.]
MEN -- [together.] -- God bless you. The blessing of God on this place.
PEGEEN. God bless you kindly.
MICHAEL -- [to men who go to the counter.] -- Sit down now, and take your
rest. (Crosses to Shawn at the fire.) And how is it you are, Shawn Keogh?
Are you coming over the sands to Kate Cassidy's wake?
SHAWN. I am not, Michael James. I'm going home the short cut to my bed.
PEGEEN -- [speaking across the counter.] -- He's right too, and have you no
shame, Michael James, to be quitting off for the whole night, and leaving
myself lonesome in the shop?
MICHAEL -- [good-humouredly.] Isn't it the same whether I go for the whole
night or a part only? and I'm thinking it's a queer daughter you are if you'd
have me crossing backward through the Stooks of the Dead Women, with a drop
PEGEEN. If I am a queer daughter, it's a queer father'd be leaving me
lonesome these twelve hours of dark, and I piling the turf with the dogs
barking, and the calves mooing, and my own teeth rattling with the fear.
JIMMY -- [flatteringly.] -- What is there to hurt you, and you a fine, hardy
girl would knock the head of any two men in the place?
PEGEEN -- [working herself up.] -- Isn't there the harvest boys with their
tongues red for drink, and the ten tinkers is camped in the east glen, and the
thousand militia -- bad cess to them! -- walking idle through the land.
There's lots surely to hurt me, and I won't stop alone in it, let himself do
what he will.
MICHAEL. If you're that afeard, let Shawn Keogh stop along with you. It's
the will of God, I'm thinking, himself should be seeing to you now. [They all
turn on Shawn.]
SHAWN -- [in horrified confusion.] -- I would and welcome, Michael James, but
I'm afeard of Father Reilly; and what at all would the Holy Father and the
Cardinals of Rome be saying if they heard I did the like of that?
MICHAEL -- [with contempt.] -- God help you! Can't you sit in by the hearth
with the light lit and herself beyond in the room? You'll do that surely, for
I've heard tell there's a queer fellow above, going mad or getting his death,
maybe, in the gripe of the ditch, so she'd be safer this night with a person
SHAWN -- [with plaintive despair.] -- I'm afeard of Father Reilly, I'm saying.
Let you not be tempting me, and we near married itself.
PHILLY -- [with cold contempt.] -- Lock him in the west room. He'll stay then
and have no sin to be telling to the priest.
MICHAEL -- [to Shawn, getting between him and the door.] -- Go up now.
SHAWN -- [at the top of his voice.] -- Don't stop me, Michael James. Let me
out of the door, I'm saying, for the love of the Almighty God. Let me out
(trying to dodge past him). Let me out of it, and may God grant you His
indulgence in the hour of need.
MICHAEL -- [loudly.] Stop your noising, and sit down by the hearth. [Gives
him a push and goes to counter laughing.]
SHAWN -- [turning back, wringing his hands.] -- Oh, Father Reilly and the
saints of God, where will I hide myself to-day? Oh, St. Joseph and St.
Patrick and St. Brigid, and St. James, have mercy on me now! [Shawn turns
round, sees door clear, and makes a rush for it.]
MICHAEL -- [catching him by the coattail.] -- You'd be going, is it?
SHAWN -- [screaming.] Leave me go, Michael James, leave me go, you old Pagan,
leave me go, or I'll get the curse of the priests on you, and of the
scarlet-coated bishops of the courts of Rome. [With a sudden movement he pulls
himself out of his coat, and disappears out of the door, leaving his coat in
MICHAEL -- [turning round, and holding up coat.] -- Well, there's the coat of
a Christian man. Oh, there's sainted glory this day in the lonesome west; and
by the will of God I've got you a decent man, Pegeen, you'll have no call to
be spying after if you've a score of young girls, maybe, weeding in your
PEGEEN [taking up the defence of her property.] -- What right have you to be
making game of a poor fellow for minding the priest, when it's your own the
fault is, not paying a penny pot-boy to stand along with me and give me
courage in the doing of my work? [She snaps the coat away from him, and goes
behind counter with it.]
MICHAEL -- [taken aback.] -- Where would I get a pot-boy? Would you have me
send the bell-man screaming in the streets of Castlebar?
SHAWN -- [opening the door a chink and putting in his head, in a small voice.]
-- Michael James!
MICHAEL -- [imitating him.] -- What ails you?
SHAWN. The queer dying fellow's beyond looking over the ditch. He's come up,
I'm thinking, stealing your hens. (Looks over his shoulder.) God help me,
he's following me now (he runs into room), and if he's heard what I said,
he'll be having my life, and I going home lonesome in the darkness of the
night. [For a perceptible moment they watch the door with curiosity. Some one
coughs outside. Then Christy Mahon, a slight young man, comes in very tired
and frightened and dirty.]
CHRISTY -- [in a small voice.] -- God save all here!
MEN. God save you kindly.
CHRISTY -- [going to the counter.] -- I'd trouble you for a glass of porter,
woman of the house. [He puts down coin.]
PEGEEN -- [serving him.] -- You're one of the tinkers, young fellow, is beyond
camped in the glen?
CHRISTY. I am not; but I'm destroyed walking.
MICHAEL -- [patronizingly.] Let you come up then to the fire. You're looking
famished with the cold.
CHRISTY. God reward you. (He takes up his glass and goes a little way across
to the left, then stops and looks about him.) Is it often the police do be
coming into this place, master of the house?
MICHAEL. If you'd come in better hours, you'd have seen "Licensed for the
sale of Beer and Spirits, to be consumed on the premises," written in white
letters above the door, and what would the polis want spying on me, and not a
decent house within four miles, the way every living Christian is a bona fide,
saving one widow alone?
CHRISTY -- [with relief.] -- It's a safe house, so. [He goes over to the fire,
sighing and moaning. Then he sits down, putting his glass beside him and
begins gnawing a turnip, too miserable to feel the others staring at him with
MICHAEL -- [going after him.] -- Is it yourself fearing the polis? You're
CHRISTY. There's many wanting.
MICHAEL. Many surely, with the broken harvest and the ended wars. (He picks
up some stockings, etc., that are near the fire, and carries them away
furtively.) It should be larceny, I'm thinking?
CHRISTY -- [dolefully.] I had it in my mind it was a different word and a
PEGEEN. There's a queer lad. Were you never slapped in school, young fellow,
that you don't know the name of your deed?
CHRISTY -- [bashfully.] I'm slow at learning, a middling scholar only.
MICHAEL. If you're a dunce itself, you'd have a right to know that larceny's
robbing and stealing. Is it for the like of that you're wanting?
CHRISTY -- [with a flash of family pride.] -- And I the son of a strong farmer
(with a sudden qualm), God rest his soul, could have bought up the whole of
your old house a while since, from the butt of his tailpocket, and not have
missed the weight of it gone.
MICHAEL -- [impressed.] If it's not stealing, it's maybe something big.
CHRISTY -- [flattered.] Aye; it's maybe something big.
JIMMY. He's a wicked-looking young fellow. Maybe he followed after a young
woman on a lonesome night.
CHRISTY -- [shocked.] Oh, the saints forbid, mister; I was all times a decent
PHILLY -- [turning on Jimmy.] -- You're a silly man, Jimmy Farrell. He said
his father was a farmer a while since, and there's himself now in a poor
state. Maybe the land was grabbed from him, and he did what any decent man
MICHAEL -- [to Christy, mysteriously.] -- Was it bailiffs?
CHRISTY. The divil a one.
CHRISTY. The divil a one.
CHRISTY -- [peevishly.] Ah, not at all, I'm saying. You'd see the like of
them stories on any little paper of a Munster town. But I'm not calling to
mind any person, gentle, simple, judge or jury, did the like of me. [They all
draw nearer with delighted curiosity.]
PHILLY. Well, that lad's a puzzle--the world.
JIMMY. He'd beat Dan Davies' circus, or the holy missioners making sermons on
the villainy of man. Try him again, Philly.
PHILLY. Did you strike golden guineas out of solder, young fellow, or
shilling coins itself?
CHRISTY. I did not, mister, not sixpence nor a farthing coin.
JIMMY. Did you marry three wives maybe? I'm told there's a sprinkling have
done that among the holy Luthers of the preaching north.
CHRISTY -- [shyly.] -- I never married with one, let alone with a couple or
PHILLY. Maybe he went fighting for the Boers, the like of the man beyond, was
judged to be hanged, quartered and drawn. Were you off east, young fellow,
fighting bloody wars for Kruger and the freedom of the Boers?
CHRISTY. I never left my own parish till Tuesday was a week.
PEGEEN -- [coming from counter.] -- He's done nothing, so. (To Christy.) If
you didn't commit murder or a bad, nasty thing, or false coining, or robbery,
or butchery, or the like of them, there isn't anything that would be worth
your troubling for to run from now. You did nothing at all.
CHRISTY -- [his feelings hurt.] -- That's an unkindly thing to be saying to a
poor orphaned traveller, has a prison behind him, and hanging before, and
hell's gap gaping below.
PEGEEN [with a sign to the men to be quiet.] -- You're only saying it. You
did nothing at all. A soft lad the like of you wouldn't slit the windpipe of
a screeching sow.
CHRISTY -- [offended.] You're not speaking the truth.
PEGEEN -- [in mock rage.] -- Not speaking the truth, is it? Would you have
me knock the head of you with the butt of the broom?
CHRISTY -- [twisting round on her with a sharp cry of horror.] -- Don't strike
me. I killed my poor father, Tuesday was a week, for doing the like of that.
PEGEEN [with blank amazement.] -- Is it killed your father?
CHRISTY -- [subsiding.] With the help of God I did surely, and that the Holy
Immaculate Mother may intercede for his soul.
PHILLY -- [retreating with Jimmy.] -- There's a daring fellow.
JIMMY. Oh, glory be to God!
MICHAEL -- [with great respect.] -- That was a hanging crime, mister honey.
You should have had good reason for doing the like of that.
CHRISTY -- [in a very reasonable tone.] -- He was a dirty man, God forgive
him, and he getting old and crusty, the way I couldn't put up with him at all.
PEGEEN. And you shot him dead?
CHRISTY -- [shaking his head.] -- I never used weapons. I've no license, and
I'm a law-fearing man.
MICHAEL. It was with a hilted knife maybe? I'm told, in the big world it's
bloody knives they use.
CHRISTY -- [loudly, scandalized.] -- Do you take me for a slaughter-boy?
PEGEEN. You never hanged him, the way Jimmy Farrell hanged his dog from the
license, and had it screeching and wriggling three hours at the butt of a
string, and himself swearing it was a dead dog, and the peelers swearing it
CHRISTY. I did not then. I just riz the loy and let fall the edge of it on
the ridge of his skull, and he went down at my feet like an empty sack, and
never let a grunt or groan from him at all.
MICHAEL -- [making a sign to Pegeen to fill Christy's glass.] -- And what way
weren't you hanged, mister? Did you bury him then?
CHRISTY -- [considering.] Aye. I buried him then. Wasn't I digging spuds in
MICHAEL. And the peelers never followed after you the eleven days that you're
CHRISTY -- [shaking his head.] -- Never a one of them, and I walking forward
facing hog, dog, or divil on the highway of the road.
PHILLY -- [nodding wisely.] -- It's only with a common week-day kind of a
murderer them lads would be trusting their carcase, and that man should be a
great terror when his temper's roused.
MICHAEL. He should then. (To Christy.) And where was it, mister honey, that
you did the deed?
CHRISTY -- [looking at him with suspicion.] -- Oh, a distant place, master of
the house, a windy corner of high, distant hills.
PHILLY -- [nodding with approval.] -- He's a close man, and he's right,
PEGEEN. That'd be a lad with the sense of Solomon to have for a pot-boy,
Michael James, if it's the truth you're seeking one at all.
PHILLY. The peelers is fearing him, and if you'd that lad in the house there
isn't one of them would come smelling around if the dogs itself were lapping
poteen from the dungpit of the yard.
JIMMY. Bravery's a treasure in a lonesome place, and a lad would kill his
father, I'm thinking, would face a foxy divil with a pitchpike on the flags of
PEGEEN. It's the truth they're saying, and if I'd that lad in the house, I
wouldn't be fearing the loosed kharki cut-throats, or the walking dead.
CHRISTY -- [swelling with surprise and triumph.] -- Well, glory be to God!
MICHAEL -- [with deference.] -- Would you think well to stop here and be
pot-boy, mister honey, if we gave you good wages, and didn't destroy you with
the weight of work?
SHAWN -- [coming forward uneasily.] -- That'd be a queer kind to bring into a
decent quiet household with the like of Pegeen Mike.
PEGEEN -- [very sharply.] -- Will you whisht? Who's speaking to you?
SHAWN -- [retreating.] A bloody-handed murderer the like of . . .
PEGEEN -- [snapping at him.] -- Whisht I am saying; we'll take no fooling from
your like at all. (To Christy with a honeyed voice.) And you, young fellow,
you'd have a right to stop, I'm thinking, for we'd do our all and utmost to
content your needs.
CHRISTY -- [overcome with wonder.] -- And I'd be safe in this place from the
MICHAEL. You would, surely. If they're not fearing you, itself, the peelers
in this place is decent droughty poor fellows, wouldn't touch a cur dog and
not give warning in the dead of night.
PEGEEN -- [very kindly and persuasively.] -- Let you stop a short while
anyhow. Aren't you destroyed walking with your feet in bleeding blisters, and
your whole skin needing washing like a Wicklow sheep.
CHRISTY -- [looking round with satisfaction.] It's a nice room, and if it's
not humbugging me you are, I'm thinking that I'll surely stay.
JIMMY -- [jumps up.] -- Now, by the grace of God, herself will be safe this
night, with a man killed his father holding danger from the door, and let you
come on, Michael James, or they'll have the best stuff drunk at the wake.
MICHAEL -- [going to the door with men.] And begging your pardon, mister, what
name will we call you, for we'd like to know?
CHRISTY. Christopher Mahon.
MICHAEL. Well, God bless you, Christy, and a good rest till we meet again
when the sun'll be rising to the noon of day.
CHRISTY. God bless you all.
MEN. God bless you. [They go out except Shawn, who lingers at door.]
SHAWN -- [to Pegeen.] -- Are you wanting me to stop along with you and keep
you from harm?
PEGEEN -- [gruffly.] Didn't you say you were fearing Father Reilly?
SHAWN. There'd be no harm staying now, I'm thinking, and himself in it too.
PEGEEN. You wouldn't stay when there was need for you, and let you step off
nimble this time when there's none.
SHAWN. Didn't I say it was Father Reilly . . .
PEGEEN. Go on, then, to Father Reilly (in a jeering tone), and let him put
you in the holy brotherhoods, and leave that lad to me.
SHAWN. If I meet the Widow Quin . . .
PEGEEN. Go on, I'm saying, and don't be waking this place with your noise.
(She hustles him out and bolts the door.) That lad would wear the spirits
from the saints of peace. (Bustles about, then takes off her apron and pins
it up in the window as a blind. Christy watching her timidly. Then she comes
to him and speaks with bland good-humour.) Let you stretch out now by the
fire, young fellow. You should be destroyed travelling.
CHRISTY -- [shyly again, drawing off his boots.) I'm tired, surely, walking
wild eleven days, and waking fearful in the night. [He holds up one of his
feet, feeling his blisters, and looking at them with compassion.]
PEGEEN -- [standing beside him, watching him with delight.] -- You should have
had great people in your family, I'm thinking, with the little, small feet you
have, and you with a kind of a quality name, the like of what you'd find on
the great powers and potentates of France and Spain.
CHRISTY -- [with pride.] -- We were great surely, with wide and windy acres of
rich Munster land.
PEGEEN. Wasn't I telling you, and you a fine, handsome young fellow with a
CHRISTY -- [with a flash of delighted surprise.] Is it me?
PEGEEN. Aye. Did you never hear that from the young girls where you come
from in the west or south?
CHRISTY -- [with venom.] -- I did not then. Oh, they're bloody liars in the
naked parish where I grew a man.
PEGEEN. If they are itself, you've heard it these days, I'm thinking, and you
walking the world telling out your story to young girls or old.
CHRISTY. I've told my story no place till this night, Pegeen Mike, and it's
foolish I was here, maybe, to be talking free, but you're decent people, I'm
thinking, and yourself a kindly woman, the way I wasn't fearing you at all.
PEGEEN -- [filling a sack with straw.] -- You've said the like of that, maybe,
in every cot and cabin where you've met a young girl on your way.
CHRISTY -- [going over to her, gradually raising his voice.] -- I've said it
nowhere till this night, I'm telling you, for I've seen none the like of you
the eleven long days I am walking the world, looking over a low ditch or a
high ditch on my north or my south, into stony scattered fields, or scribes of
bog, where you'd see young, limber girls, and fine prancing women making
laughter with the men.
PEGEEN. If you weren't destroyed travelling, you'd have as much talk and
streeleen, I'm thinking, as Owen Roe O'Sullivan or the poets of the Dingle
Bay, and I've heard all times it's the poets are your like, fine fiery fellows
with great rages when their temper's roused.
CHRISTY -- [drawing a little nearer to her.] -- You've a power of rings, God
bless you, and would there be any offence if I was asking are you single now?
PEGEEN. What would I want wedding so young?
CHRISTY -- [with relief.] -- We're alike, so.
PEGEEN -- [she puts sack on settle and beats it up.] -- I never killed my
father. I'd be afeard to do that, except I was the like of yourself with
blind rages tearing me within, for I'm thinking you should have had great
tussling when the end was come.
CHRISTY -- [expanding with delight at the first confidential talk he has ever
had with a woman.] -- We had not then. It was a hard woman was come over the
hill, and if he was always a crusty kind when he'd a hard woman setting him
on, not the divil himself or his four fathers could put up with him at all.
PEGEEN -- [with curiosity.] -- And isn't it a great wonder that one wasn't
CHRISTY -- [very confidentially.] -- Up to the day I killed my father, there
wasn't a person in Ireland knew the kind I was, and I there drinking, waking,
eating, sleeping, a quiet, simple poor fellow with no man giving me heed.
PEGEEN -- [getting a quilt out of the cupboard and putting it on the sack.] --
It was the girls were giving you heed maybe, and I'm thinking it's most
conceit you'd have to be gaming with their like.
CHRISTY -- [shaking his head, with simplicity.] Not the girls itself, and I
won't tell you a lie. There wasn't anyone heeding me in that place saving
only the dumb beasts of the field. [He sits down at fire.]
PEGEEN -- [with disappointment.] -- And I thinking you should have been living
the like of a king of Norway or the Eastern world. [She comes and sits beside
him after placing bread and mug of milk on the table.]
CHRISTY -- [laughing piteously.] -- The like of a king, is it? And I after
toiling, moiling, digging, dodging from the dawn till dusk with never a sight
of joy or sport saving only when I'd be abroad in the dark night poaching
rabbits on hills, for I was a devil to poach, God forgive me, (very naively)
and I near got six months for going with a dung fork and stabbing a fish.
PEGEEN. And it's that you'd call sport, is it, to be abroad in the darkness
with yourself alone?
CHRISTY. I did, God help me, and there I'd be as happy as the sunshine of St.
Martin's Day, watching the light passing the north or the patches of fog, till
I'd hear a rabbit starting to screech and I'd go running in the furze. Then
when I'd my full share I'd come walking down where you'd see the ducks and
geese stretched sleeping on the highway of the road, and before I'd pass the
dunghill, I'd hear himself snoring out, a loud lonesome snore he'd be making
all times, the while he was sleeping, and he a man 'd be raging all times, the
while he was waking, like a gaudy officer you'd hear cursing and damning and
PEGEEN. Providence and Mercy, spare us all!
CHRISTY. It's that you'd say surely if you seen him and he after drinking for
weeks, rising up in the red dawn, or before it maybe, and going out into the
yard as naked as an ash tree in the moon of May, and shying clods against the
visage of the stars till he'd put the fear of death into the banbhs and the
PEGEEN. I'd be well-night afeard of that lad myself, I'm thinking. And there
was no one in it but the two of you alone?
CHRISTY. The divil a one, though he'd sons and daughters walking all great
states and territories of the world, and not a one of them, to this day, but
would say their seven curses on him, and they rousing up to let a cough or
sneeze, maybe, in the deadness of the night.
PEGEEN [nodding her head.] -- Well, you should have been a queer lot. I
never cursed my father the like of that, though I'm twenty and more years of
CHRISTY. Then you'd have cursed mine, I'm telling you, and he a man never
gave peace to any, saving when he'd get two months or three, or be locked in
the asylums for battering peelers or assaulting men (with depression) the way
it was a bitter life he led me till I did up a Tuesday and halve his skull.
PEGEEN -- [putting her hand on his shoulder.] -- Well, you'll have peace in
this place, Christy Mahon, and none to trouble you, and it's near time a fine
lad like you should have your good share of the earth.
CHRISTY. It's time surely, and I a seemly fellow with great strength in me
and bravery of . . . [Someone knocks.]
CHRISTY -- [clinging to Pegeen.] -- Oh, glory! it's late for knocking, and
this last while I'm in terror of the peelers, and the walking dead. [Knocking
PEGEEN. Who's there?
VOICE -- [outside.] Me.
PEGEEN. Who's me?
VOICE. The Widow Quin.
PEGEEN [jumping up and giving him the bread and milk.] -- Go on now with your
supper, and let on to be sleepy, for if she found you were such a warrant to
talk, she'd be stringing gabble till the dawn of day. (He takes bread and
sits shyly with his back to the door.)
PEGEEN [opening door, with temper.] -- What ails you, or what is it you're
wanting at this hour of the night?
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming in a step and peering at Christy.] -- I'm after meeting
Shawn Keogh and Father Reilly below, who told me of your curiosity man, and
they fearing by this time he was maybe roaring, romping on your hands with
PEGEEN [pointing to Christy.] -- Look now is he roaring, and he stretched
away drowsy with his supper and his mug of milk. Walk down and tell that to
Father Reilly and to Shaneen Keogh.
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming forward.] -- I'll not see them again, for I've their
word to lead that lad forward for to lodge with me.
PEGEEN -- [in blank amazement.] -- This night, is it?
WIDOW QUIN -- [going over.] -- This night. "It isn't fitting," says the
priesteen, "to have his likeness lodging with an orphaned girl." (To
Christy.) God save you, mister!
CHRISTY -- [shyly.] -- God save you kindly.
WIDOW QUIN -- [looking at him with half-amazed curiosity.] -- Well, aren't you
a little smiling fellow? It should have been great and bitter torments did
rouse your spirits to a deed of blood.
CHRISTY -- [doubtfully.] It should, maybe.
WIDOW QUIN. It's more than "maybe" I'm saying, and it'd soften my heart to
see you sitting so simple with your cup and cake, and you fitter to be saying
your catechism than slaying your da.
PEGEEN -- [at counter, washing glasses.] -- There's talking when any'd see
he's fit to be holding his head high with the wonders of the world. Walk on
from this, for I'll not have him tormented and he destroyed travelling since
Tuesday was a week.
WIDOW QUIN -- [peaceably.] We'll be walking surely when his supper's done,
and you'll find we're great company, young fellow, when it's of the like of
you and me you'd hear the penny poets singing in an August Fair.
CHRISTY -- [innocently.] Did you kill your father?
PEGEEN -- [contemptuously.] She did not. She hit himself with a worn pick,
and the rusted poison did corrode his blood the way he never overed it, and
died after. That was a sneaky kind of murder did win small glory with the
boys itself. [She crosses to Christy's left.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [with good-humour.] -- If it didn't, maybe all knows a widow
woman has buried her children and destroyed her man is a wiser comrade for a
young lad than a girl, the like of you, who'd go helter-skeltering after any
man would let you a wink upon the road.
PEGEEN -- [breaking out into wild rage.] -- And you'll say that, Widow Quin,
and you gasping with the rage you had racing the hill beyond to look on his
WIDOW QUIN -- [laughing derisively.] -- Me, is it? Well, Father Reilly has
cuteness to divide you now. (She pulls Christy up.) There's great temptation
in a man did slay his da, and we'd best be going, young fellow; so rise up and
come with me.
PEGEEN -- [seizing his arm.] -- He'll not stir. He's pot-boy in this place,
and I'll not have him stolen off and kidnabbed while himself's abroad.
WIDOW QUIN. It'd be a crazy pot-boy'd lodge him in the shebeen where he works
by day, so you'd have a right to come on, young fellow, till you see my little
houseen, a perch off on the rising hill.
PEGEEN. Wait till morning, Christy Mahon. Wait till you lay eyes on her
leaky thatch is growing more pasture for her buck goat than her square of
fields, and she without a tramp itself to keep in order her place at all.
WIDOW QUIN. When you see me contriving in my little gardens, Christy Mahon,
you'll swear the Lord God formed me to be living lone, and that there isn't my
match in Mayo for thatching, or mowing, or shearing a sheep.
PEGEEN -- [with noisy scorn.] -- It's true the Lord God formed you to contrive
indeed. Doesn't the world know you reared a black lamb at your own breast, so
that the Lord Bishop of Connaught felt the elements of a Christian, and he
eating it after in a kidney stew? Doesn't the world know you've been seen
shaving the foxy skipper from France for a threepenny bit and a sop of grass
tobacco would wring the liver from a mountain goat you'd meet leaping the
WIDOW QUIN -- [with amusement.] -- Do you hear her now, young fellow? Do you
hear the way she'll be rating at your own self when a week is by?
PEGEEN -- [to Christy.] -- Don't heed her. Tell her to go into her pigsty and
not plague us here.
WIDOW QUIN. I'm going; but he'll come with me.
PEGEEN -- [shaking him.] -- Are you dumb, young fellow?
CHRISTY -- [timidly, to Widow Quin.] -- God increase you; but I'm pot-boy in
this place, and it's here I'd liefer stay.
PEGEEN -- [triumphantly.] Now you have heard him, and go on from this.
WIDOW QUIN -- [looking round the room.] -- It's lonesome this hour crossing
the hill, and if he won't come along with me, I'd have a right maybe to stop
this night with yourselves. Let me stretch out on the settle, Pegeen Mike;
and himself can lie by the hearth.
PEGEEN -- [short and fiercely.] -- Faith, I won't. Quit off or I will send
WIDOW QUIN -- [gathering her shawl up.] -- Well, it's a terror to be aged a
score. (To Christy.) God bless you now, young fellow, and let you be wary,
or there's right torment will await you here if you go romancing with her
like, and she waiting only, as they bade me say, on a sheepskin parchment to
be wed with Shawn Keogh of Killakeen.
CHRISTY -- [going to Pegeen as she bolts the door.] -- What's that she's after
PEGEEN. Lies and blather, you've no call to mind. Well, isn't Shawn Keogh an
impudent fellow to send up spying on me? Wait till I lay hands on him. Let
him wait, I'm saying.
CHRISTY. And you're not wedding him at all?
PEGEEN. I wouldn't wed him if a bishop came walking for to join us here.
CHRISTY. That God in glory may be thanked for that.
PEGEEN. There's your bed now. I've put a quilt upon you I'm after quilting a
while since with my own two hands, and you'd best stretch out now for your
sleep, and may God give you a good rest till I call you in the morning when
the cocks will crow.
CHRISTY -- [as she goes to inner room.] -- May God and Mary and St. Patrick
bless you and reward you, for your kindly talk. (She shuts the door behind
her. He settles his bed slowly, feeling the quilt with immense satisfaction.]
-- Well, it's a clean bed and soft with it, and it's great luck and company
I've won me in the end of time -- two fine women fighting for the likes of me
-- till I'm thinking this night wasn't I a foolish fellow not to kill my
father in the years gone by.
SCENE, [as before. Brilliant morning light. Christy, looking bright and
cheerful, is cleaning a girl's boots.]
CHRISTY -- [to himself, counting jugs on dresser.] -- Half a hundred beyond.
Ten there. A score that's above. Eighty jugs. Six cups and a broken one.
Two plates. A power of glasses. Bottles, a school-master'd be hard set to
count, and enough in them, I'm thinking, to drunken all the wealth and wisdom
of the County Clare. (He puts down the boot carefully.) There's her boots
now, nice and decent for her evening use, and isn't it grand brushes she has?
(He puts them down and goes by degrees to the looking-glass.) Well, this'd be
a fine place to be my whole life talking out with swearing Christians, in
place of my old dogs and cat, and I stalking around, smoking my pipe and
drinking my fill, and never a day's work but drawing a cork an odd time, or
wiping a glass, or rinsing out a shiny tumbler for a decent man. (He takes
the looking-glass from the wall and puts it on the back of a chair; then sits
down in front of it and begins washing his face.) Didn't I know rightly I was
handsome, though it was the divil's own mirror we had beyond, would twist a
squint across an angel's brow; and I'll be growing fine from this day, the way
I'll have a soft lovely skin on me and won't be the like of the clumsy young
fellows do be ploughing all times in the earth and dung. (He starts.) Is she
coming again? (He looks out.) Stranger girls. God help me, where'll I hide
myself away and my long neck nacked to the world? (He looks out.) I'd best
go to the room maybe till I'm dressed again. [He gathers up his coat and the
looking-glass, and runs into the inner room. The door is pushed open, and
Susan Brady looks in, and knocks on door.]
SUSAN. There's nobody in it. [Knocks again.]
NELLY -- [pushing her in and following her, with Honor Blake and Sara Tansey.]
It'd be early for them both to be out walking the hill.
SUSAN. I'm thinking Shawn Keogh was making game of us and there's no such man
in it at all.
HONOR -- [pointing to straw and quilt.] -- Look at that. He's been sleeping
there in the night. Well, it'll be a hard case if he's gone off now, the way
we'll never set our eyes on a man killed his father, and we after rising early
and destroying ourselves running fast on the hill.
NELLY. Are you thinking them's his boots?
SARA -- [taking them up.] -- If they are, there should be his father's track
on them. Did you never read in the papers the way murdered men do bleed and
SUSAN. Is that blood there, Sara Tansey?
SARAH -- [smelling it.] -- That's bog water, I'm thinking, but it's his own
they are surely, for I never seen the like of them for whity mud, and red mud,
and turf on them, and the fine sands of the sea. That man's been walking, I'm
telling you. [She goes down right, putting on one of his boots.]
SUSAN -- [going to window.] -- Maybe he's stolen off to Belmullet with the
boots of Michael James, and you'd have a right so to follow after him, Sara
Tansey, and you the one yoked the ass cart and drove ten miles to set your
eyes on the man bit the yellow lady's nostril on the northern shore. [She
SARA -- [running to window with one boot on.] -- Don't be talking, and we
fooled to-day. (Putting on other boot.) There's a pair do fit me well, and
I'll be keeping them for walking to the priest, when you'd be ashamed this
place, going up winter and summer with nothing worth while to confess at all.
HONOR -- [who has been listening at the door.] -- Whisht! there's someone
inside the room. (She pushes door a chink open.) It's a man. [Sara kicks off
boots and puts them where they were. They all stand in a line looking through
SARA. I'll call him. Mister! Mister! (He puts in his head.) Is Pegeen
CHRISTY -- [coming in as meek as a mouse, with the looking-glass held behind
his back.] -- She's above on the cnuceen, seeking the nanny goats, the way
she'd have a sup of goat's milk for to colour my tea.
SARA. And asking your pardon, is it you's the man killed his father?
CHRISTY -- [sidling toward the nail where the glass was hanging.] -- I am, God
SARA -- [taking eggs she has brought.] -- Then my thousand welcomes to you,
and I've run up with a brace of duck's eggs for your food today. Pegeen's
ducks is no use, but these are the real rich sort. Hold out your hand and
you'll see it's no lie I'm telling you.
CHRISTY -- [coming forward shyly, and holding out his left hand.] -- They're a
great and weighty size.
SUSAN. And I run up with a pat of butter, for it'd be a poor thing to have
you eating your spuds dry, and you after running a great way since you did
destroy your da.
CHRISTY. Thank you kindly.
HONOR. And I brought you a little cut of cake, for you should have a thin
stomach on you, and you that length walking the world.
NELLY. And I brought you a little laying pullet -- boiled and all she is --
was crushed at the fall of night by the curate's car. Feel the fat of that
CHRISTY. It's bursting, surely. [He feels it with the back of his hand,in
which he holds the presents.]
SARA. Will you pinch it? Is your right hand too sacred for to use at all?
(She slips round behind him.) It's a glass he has. Well, I never seen to
this day a man with a looking-glass held to his back. Them that kills their
fathers is a vain lot surely. [Girls giggle.]
CHRISTY -- [smiling innocently and piling presents on glass.] -- I'm very
thankful to you all to-day . . .
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming in quickly, at door.] -- Sara Tansey, Susan Brady, Honor
Blake! What in glory has you here at this hour of day?
GIRLS -- [giggling.] That's the man killed his father.
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming to them.] -- I know well it's the man; and I'm after
putting him down in the sports below for racing, leaping, pitching, and the
Lord knows what.
SARA -- [exuberantly.] That's right, Widow Quin. I'll bet my dowry that
he'll lick the world.
WIDOW QUIN. If you will, you'd have a right to have him fresh and nourished
in place of nursing a feast. (Taking presents.) Are you fasting or fed, young
CHRISTY. Fasting, if you please.
WIDOW QUIN -- [loudly.] Well, you're the lot. Stir up now and give him his
breakfast. (To Christy.) Come here to me (she puts him on bench beside her
while the girls make tea and get his breakfast) and let you tell us your story
before Pegeen will come, in place of grinning your ears off like the moon of
CHRISTY -- [beginning to be pleased.] -- It's a long story; you'd be destroyed
WIDOW QUIN. Don't be letting on to be shy, a fine, gamey, treacherous lad the
like of you. Was it in your house beyond you cracked his skull?
CHRISTY -- [shy but flattered.] -- It was not. We were digging spuds in his
cold, sloping, stony, divil's patch of a field.
WIDOW QUIN. And you went asking money of him, or making talk of getting a
wife would drive him from his farm?
CHRISTY. I did not, then; but there I was, digging and digging, and "You
squinting idiot," says he, "let you walk down now and tell the priest you'll
wed the Widow Casey in a score of days."
WIDOW QUIN. And what kind was she?
CHRISTY -- [with horror.] -- A walking terror from beyond the hills, and she
two score and five years, and two hundredweights and five pounds in the
weighing scales, with a limping leg on her, and a blinded eye, and she a woman
of noted misbehaviour with the old and young.
GIRLS -- [clustering round him, serving him.] -- Glory be.
WIDOW QUIN. And what did he want driving you to wed with her? [She takes a
bit of the chicken.]
CHRISTY -- [eating with growing satisfaction.] He was letting on I was
wanting a protector from the harshness of the world, and he without a thought
the whole while but how he'd have her hut to live in and her gold to drink.
WIDOW QUIN. There's maybe worse than a dry hearth and a widow woman and your
glass at night. So you hit him then?
CHRISTY -- [getting almost excited.] -- I did not. "I won't wed her," says I,
"when all know she did suckle me for six weeks when I came into the world, and
she a hag this day with a tongue on her has the crows and seabirds scattered,
the way they wouldn't cast a shadow on her garden with the dread of her
WIDOW QUIN -- [teasingly.] That one should be right company.
SARA -- [eagerly.] Don't mind her. Did you kill him then?
CHRISTY. "She's too good for the like of you," says he, "and go on now or
I'll flatten you out like a crawling beast has passed under a dray." "You
will not if I can help it," says I. "Go on," says he, "or I'll have the divil
making garters of your limbs tonight." "You will not if I can help it," says
I. [He sits up, brandishing his mug.]
SARA. You were right surely.
CHRISTY -- [impressively.] With that the sun came out between the cloud and
the hill, and it shining green in my face. "God have mercy on your soul,"
says he, lifting a scythe; "or on your own," says I, raising the loy.
SUSAN. That's a grand story.
HONOR. He tells it lovely.
CHRISTY -- [flattered and confident, waving bone.] -- He gave a drive with the
scythe, and I gave a lep to the east. Then I turned around with my back to
the north, and I hit a blow on the ridge of his skull, laid him stretched out,
and he split to the knob of his gullet. [He raises the chicken bone to his
GIRLS -- [together.] Well, you're a marvel! Oh, God bless you! You're the
SUSAN. I'm thinking the Lord God sent him this road to make a second husband
to the Widow Quin, and she with a great yearning to be wedded, though all
dread her here. Lift him on her knee, Sara Tansey.
WIDOW QUIN. Don't tease him.
SARA -- [going over to dresser and counter very quickly, and getting two
glasses and porter.] -- You're heroes surely, and let you drink a supeen with
your arms linked like the outlandish lovers in the sailor's song. (She links
their arms and gives them the glasses.) There now. Drink a health to the
wonders of the western world, the pirates, preachers, poteen-makers, with the
jobbing jockies; parching peelers, and the juries fill their stomachs selling
judgments of the English law. [Brandishing the bottle.]
WIDOW QUIN. That's a right toast, Sara Tansey. Now Christy. [They drink with
their arms linked, he drinking with his left hand, she with her right. As
they are drinking, Pegeen Mike comes in with a milk can and stands aghast.
They all spring away from Christy. He goes down left. Widow Quin remains
PEGEEN -- [angrily, to Sara.] -- What is it you're wanting?
SARA -- [twisting her apron.] -- An ounce of tobacco.
PEGEEN. Have you tuppence?
SARA. I've forgotten my purse.
PEGEEN. Then you'd best be getting it and not fooling us here. (To the Widow
Quin, with more elaborate scorn.) And what is it you're wanting, Widow Quin?
WIDOW QUIN -- [insolently.] A penn'orth of starch.
PEGEEN -- [breaking out.] -- And you without a white shift or a shirt in your
whole family since the drying of the flood. I've no starch for the like of
you, and let you walk on now to Killamuck.
WIDOW QUIN -- [turning to Christy, as she goes out with the girls.] -- Well,
you're mighty huffy this day, Pegeen Mike, and, you young fellow, let you not
forget the sports and racing when the noon is by. [They go out.]
PEGEEN -- [imperiously.] Fling out that rubbish and put them cups away.
(Christy tidies away in great haste). Shove in the bench by the wall. (He
does so.) And hang that glass on the nail. What disturbed it at all?
CHRISTY -- [very meekly.] -- I was making myself decent only, and this a fine
country for young lovely girls.
PEGEEN -- [sharply.] Whisht your talking of girls. [Goes to counter right.]
CHRISTY. Wouldn't any wish to be decent in a place . . .
PEGEEN. Whisht I'm saying.
CHRISTY -- [looks at her face for a moment with great misgivings, then as a
last effort, takes up a loy, and goes towards her, with feigned assurance). --
It was with a loy the like of that I killed my father.
PEGEEN -- [still sharply.] -- You've told me that story six times since the
dawn of day.
CHRISTY -- [reproachfully.] It's a queer thing you wouldn't care to be
hearing it and them girls after walking four miles to be listening to me now.
PEGEEN -- [turning round astonished.] -- Four miles.
CHRISTY -- [apologetically.] Didn't himself say there were only four bona
fides living in the place?
PEGEEN. It's bona fides by the road they are, but that lot came over the
river lepping the stones. It's not three perches when you go like that, and I
was down this morning looking on the papers the post-boy does have in his bag.
(With meaning and emphasis.) For there was great news this day, Christopher
Mahon. [She goes into room left.]
CHRISTY -- [suspiciously.] Is it news of my murder?
PEGEEN -- [inside.] Murder, indeed.
CHRISTY -- [loudly.] A murdered da?
PEGEEN [coming in again and crossing right.] -- There was not, but a story
filled half a page of the hanging of a man. Ah, that should be a fearful end,
young fellow, and it worst of all for a man who destroyed his da, for the like
of him would get small mercies, and when it's dead he is, they'd put him in a
narrow grave, with cheap sacking wrapping him round, and pour down quicklime
on his head, the way you'd see a woman pouring any frish-frash from a cup.
CHRISTY -- [very miserably.] -- Oh, God help me. Are you thinking I'm safe?
You were saying at the fall of night, I was shut of jeopardy and I here with
PEGEEN -- [severely.] You'll be shut of jeopardy no place if you go talking
with a pack of wild girls the like of them do be walking abroad with the
peelers, talking whispers at the fall of night.
CHRISTY -- [with terror.] -- And you're thinking they'd tell?
PEGEEN -- [with mock sympathy.] -- Who knows, God help you.
CHRISTY -- [loudly.] What joy would they have to bring hanging to the likes
PEGEEN. It's queer joys they have, and who knows the thing they'd do, if it'd
make the green stones cry itself to think of you swaying and swiggling at the
butt of a rope, and you with a fine, stout neck, God bless you! the way you'd
be a half an hour, in great anguish, getting your death.
CHRISTY -- [getting his boots and putting them on.] -- If there's that terror
of them, it'd be best, maybe, I went on wandering like Esau or Cain and Abel
on the sides of Neifin or the Erris plain.
PEGEEN [beginning to play with him.] -- It would, maybe, for I've heard the
Circuit Judges this place is a heartless crew.
CHRISTY -- [bitterly.] It's more than Judges this place is a heartless crew.
(Looking up at her.) And isn't it a poor thing to be starting again and I a
lonesome fellow will be looking out on women and girls the way the needy
fallen spirits do be looking on the Lord?
PEGEEN. What call have you to be that lonesome when there's poor girls
walking Mayo in their thousands now?
CHRISTY -- [grimly.] It's well you know what call I have. It's well you know
it's a lonesome thing to be passing small towns with the lights shining
sideways when the night is down, or going in strange places with a dog nosing
before you and a dog nosing behind, or drawn to the cities where you'd hear a
voice kissing and talking deep love in every shadow of the ditch, and you
passing on with an empty, hungry stomach failing from your heart.
PEGEEN. I'm thinking you're an odd man, Christy Mahon. The oddest walking
fellow I ever set my eyes on to this hour to-day.
CHRISTY. What would any be but odd men and they living lonesome in the world?
PEGEEN. I'm not odd, and I'm my whole life with my father only.
CHRISTY -- [with infinite admiration.] -- How would a lovely handsome woman
the like of you be lonesome when all men should be thronging around to hear
the sweetness of your voice, and the little infant children should be
pestering your steps I'm thinking, and you walking the roads.
PEGEEN. I'm hard set to know what way a coaxing fellow the like of yourself
should be lonesome either.
PEGEEN. Would you have me think a man never talked with the girls would have
the words you've spoken to-day? It's only letting on you are to be lonesome,
the way you'd get around me now.
CHRISTY. I wish to God I was letting on; but I was lonesome all times, and
born lonesome, I'm thinking, as the moon of dawn. [Going to door.]
PEGEEN -- [puzzled by his talk.] -- Well, it's a story I'm not understanding
at all why you'd be worse than another, Christy Mahon, and you a fine lad with
the great savagery to destroy your da.
CHRISTY. It's little I'm understanding myself, saving only that my heart's
scalded this day, and I going off stretching out the earth between us, the way
I'll not be waking near you another dawn of the year till the two of us do
arise to hope or judgment with the saints of God, and now I'd best be going
with my wattle in my hand, for hanging is a poor thing (turning to go), and
it's little welcome only is left me in this house to-day.
PEGEEN -- [sharply.] Christy! (He turns round.) Come here to me. (He goes
towards her.) Lay down that switch and throw some sods on the fire. You're
pot-boy in this place, and I'll not have you mitch off from us now.
CHRISTY. You were saying I'd be hanged if I stay.
PEGEEN -- [quite kindly at last.] -- I'm after going down and reading the
fearful crimes of Ireland for two weeks or three, and there wasn't a word of
your murder. (Getting up and going over to the counter.) They've likely not
found the body. You're safe so with ourselves.
CHRISTY -- [astonished, slowly.] -- It's making game of me you were (following
her with fearful joy), and I can stay so, working at your side, and I not
lonesome from this mortal day.
PEGEEN. What's to hinder you from staying, except the widow woman or the
young girls would inveigle you off?
CHRISTY -- [with rapture.] -- And I'll have your words from this day filling
my ears, and that look is come upon you meeting my two eyes, and I watching
you loafing around in the warm sun, or rinsing your ankles when the night is
PEGEEN -- [kindly, but a little embarrassed.] I'm thinking you'll be a loyal
young lad to have working around, and if you vexed me a while since with your
leaguing with the girls, I wouldn't give a thraneen for a lad hadn't a mighty
spirit in him and a gamey heart. [Shawn Keogh runs in carrying a cleeve on his
back, followed by the WidowQuin.]
SHAWN -- [to Pegeen.] -- I was passing below, and I seen your mountainy sheep
eating cabbages in Jimmy's field. Run up or they'll be bursting surely.
PEGEEN. Oh, God mend them! [She puts a shawl over her head and runs out.]
CHRISTY -- [looking from one to the other. Still in high spirits.] -- I'd
best go to her aid maybe. I'm handy with ewes.
WIDOW QUIN -- [closing the door.] -- She can do that much, and there is
Shaneen has long speeches for to tell you now. [She sits down with an amused
SHAWN -- [taking something from his pocket and offering it to Christy.] -- Do
you see that, mister?
CHRISTY -- [looking at it.] -- The half of a ticket to the Western States!
SHAWN -- [trembling with anxiety.] -- I'll give it to you and my new hat
(pulling it out of hamper); and my breeches with the double seat (pulling it
off); and my new coat is woven from the blackest shearings for three miles
around (giving him the coat); I'll give you the whole of them, and my
blessing, and the blessing of Father Reilly itself, maybe, if you'll quit from
this and leave us in the peace we had till last night at the fall of dark.
CHRISTY -- [with a new arrogance.] -- And for what is it you're wanting to get
shut of me?
SHAWN -- [looking to the Widow for help.] -- I'm a poor scholar with middling
faculties to coin a lie, so I'll tell you the truth, Christy Mahon. I'm
wedding with Pegeen beyond, and I don't think well of having a clever fearless
man the like of you dwelling in her house.
CHRISTY -- [almost pugnaciously.] -- And you'd be using bribery for to banish
SHAWN -- [in an imploring voice.] -- Let you not take it badly, mister honey,
isn't beyond the best place for you where you'll have golden chains and shiny
coats and you riding upon hunters with the ladies of the land. [He makes an
eager sign to the Widow Quin to come to help him.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming over.] -- It's true for him, and you'd best quit off and
not have that poor girl setting her mind on you, for there's Shaneen thinks
she wouldn't suit you though all is saying that she'll wed you now.
[Christy beams with delight.]
SHAWN -- [in terrified earnest.] -- She wouldn't suit you, and she with the
divil's own temper the way you'd be strangling one another in a score of days.
(He makes the movement of strangling with his hands.) It's the like of me
only that she's fit for, a quiet simple fellow wouldn't raise a hand upon her
if she scratched itself.
WIDOW QUIN -- [putting Shawn's hat on Christy.] -- Fit them clothes on you
anyhow, young fellow, and he'd maybe loan them to you for the sports.
(Pushing him towards inner door.) Fit them on and you can give your answer
when you have them tried.
CHRISTY -- [beaming, delighted with the clothes.] -- I will then. I'd like
herself to see me in them tweeds and hat. [He goes into room and shuts the
SHAWN -- [in great anxiety.] -- He'd like herself to see them. He'll not
leave us, Widow Quin. He's a score of divils in him the way it's well nigh
certain he will wed Pegeen.
WIDOW QUIN -- [jeeringly.] It's true all girls are fond of courage and do
hate the like of you.
SHAWN -- [walking about in desperation.] -- Oh, Widow Quin, what'll I be doing
now? I'd inform again him, but he'd burst from Kilmainham and he'd be sure and
certain to destroy me. If I wasn't so God-fearing, I'd near have courage to
come behind him and run a pike into his side. Oh, it's a hard case to be an
orphan and not to have your father that you're used to, and you'd easy kill
and make yourself a hero in the sight of all. (Coming up to her.) Oh, Widow
Quin, will you find me some contrivance when I've promised you a ewe?
WIDOW QUIN. A ewe's a small thing, but what would you give me if I did wed
him and did save you so?
SHAWN -- [with astonishment.] You?
WIDOW QUIN. Aye. Would you give me the red cow you have and the mountainy
ram, and the right of way across your rye path, and a load of dung at
Michaelmas, and turbary upon the western hill?
SHAWN -- [radiant with hope.] -- I would surely, and I'd give you the
wedding-ring I have, and the loan of a new suit, the way you'd have him decent
on the wedding-day. I'd give you two kids for your dinner, and a gallon of
poteen, and I'd call the piper on the long car to your wedding from
Crossmolina or from Ballina. I'd give you . . .
WIDOW QUIN. That'll do so, and let you whisht, for he's coming now again.
[Christy comes in very natty in the new clothes. Widow Quin goes to him ad
WIDOW QUIN. If you seen yourself now, I'm thinking you'd be too proud to
speak to us at all, and it'd be a pity surely to have your like sailing from
Mayo to the Western World.
CHRISTY -- [as proud as a peacock.] -- I'm not going. If this is a poor place
itself, I'll make myself contented to be lodging here. [Widow Quin makes a
sign to Shawn to leave them.]
SHAWN. Well, I'm going measuring the race-course while the tide is low, so
I'll leave you the garments and my blessing for the sports to-day. God bless
you! [He wriggles out.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [admiring Christy.] -- Well, you're mighty spruce, young fellow.
Sit down now while you're quiet till you talk with me.
CHRISTY -- [swaggering.] I'm going abroad on the hillside for to seek Pegeen.
WIDOW QUIN. You'll have time and plenty for to seek Pegeen, and you heard me
saying at the fall of night the two of us should be great company.
CHRISTY. From this out I'll have no want of company when all sorts is
bringing me their food and clothing (he swaggers to the door, tightening his
belt), the way they'd set their eyes upon a gallant orphan cleft his father
with one blow to the breeches belt. (He opens door, then staggers back.)
Saints of glory! Holy angels from the throne of light!
WIDOW QUIN -- [going over.] -- What ails you?
CHRISTY. It's the walking spirit of my murdered da?
WIDOW QUIN -- [looking out.] -- Is it that tramper?
CHRISTY -- [wildly.] Where'll I hide my poor body from that ghost of hell?
[The door is pushed open, and old Mahon appears on threshold. Christy darts
in behind door.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [in great amusement.] -- Cod save you, my poor man.
MAHON -- [gruffly.] Did you see a young lad passing this way in the early
morning or the fall of night?
WIDOW QUIN. You're a queer kind to walk in not saluting at all.
MAHON. Did you see the young lad?
WIDOW QUIN -- [stiffly.] What kind was he?
MAHON. An ugly young streeler with a murderous gob on him, and a little
switch in his hand. I met a tramper seen him coming this way at the fall of
WIDOW QUIN. There's harvest hundreds do be passing these days for the Sligo
boat. For what is it you're wanting him, my poor man?
MAHON. I want to destroy him for breaking the head on me with the clout of a
loy. (He takes off a big hat, and shows his head in a mass of bandages and
plaster, with some pride.) It was he did that, and amn't I a great wonder to
think I've traced him ten days with that rent in my crown?
WIDOW QUIN -- [taking his head in both hands and examining it with extreme
delight.] -- That was a great blow. And who hit you? A robber maybe?
MAHON. It was my own son hit me, and he the divil a robber, or anything else,
but a dirty, stuttering lout.
WIDOW -- [letting go his skull and wiping her hands in her apron.] -- You'd
best be wary of a mortified scalp, I think they call it, lepping around with
that wound in the splendour of the sun. It was a bad blow surely, and you
should have vexed him fearful to make him strike that gash in his da.
MAHON. Is it me?
WIDOW QUIN -- [amusing herself.] -- Aye. And isn't it a great shame when the
old and hardened do torment the young?
MAHON -- [raging.] Torment him is it? And I after holding out with the
patience of a martyred saint till there's nothing but destruction on, and I'm
driven out in my old age with none to aid me.
WIDOW QUIN -- [greatly amused.] -- It's a sacred wonder the way that
wickedness will spoil a man.
MAHON. My wickedness, is it? Amn't I after saying it is himself has me
destroyed, and he a liar on walls, a talker of folly, a man you'd see
stretched the half of the day in the brown ferns with his belly to the sun.
WIDOW QUIN. Not working at all?
MAHON. The divil a work, or if he did itself, you'd see him raising up a
haystack like the stalk of a rush, or driving our last cow till he broke her
leg at the hip, and when he wasn't at that he'd be fooling over little birds
he had -- finches and felts -- or making mugs at his own self in the bit of
glass we had hung on the wall.
WIDOW QUIN -- [looking at Christy.] -- What way was he so foolish? It was
running wild after the girls may be?
MAHON -- [with a shout of derision.] -- Running wild, is it? If he seen a red
petticoat coming swinging over the hill, he'd be off to hide in the sticks,
and you'd see him shooting out his sheep's eyes between the little twigs and
the leaves, and his two ears rising like a hare looking out through a gap.
WIDOW QUIN. It was drink maybe?
MAHON. And he a poor fellow would get drunk on the smell of a pint. He'd a
queer rotten stomach, I'm telling you, and when I gave him three pulls from my
pipe a while since, he was taken with contortions till I had to send him in
the ass cart to the females' nurse.
WIDOW QUIN -- [clasping her hands.] -- Well, I never till this day heard tell
of a man the like of that!
MAHON. I'd take a mighty oath you didn't surely, and wasn't he the laughing
joke of every female woman where four baronies meet, the way the girls would
stop their weeding if they seen him coming the road to let a roar at him, and
call him the looney of Mahon's.
WIDOW QUIN. I'd give the world and all to see the like of him. What kind was
MAHON. A small low fellow.
WIDOW QUIN. And dark?
MAHON. Dark and dirty.
WIDOW QUIN -- [considering.] I'm thinking I seen him.
MAHON -- [eagerly.] An ugly young blackguard.
WIDOW QUIN. A hideous, fearful villain, and the spit of you.
MAHON. What way is he fled?
WIDOW QUIN. Gone over the hills to catch a coasting steamer to the north or
MAHON. Could I pull up on him now?
WIDOW QUIN. If you'll cross the sands below where the tide is out, you'll be
in it as soon as himself, for he had to go round ten miles by the top of the
bay. (She points to the door). Strike down by the head beyond and then
follow on the roadway to the north and east. [Mahon goes abruptly.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [shouting after him.] -- Let you give him a good vengeance when
you come up with him, but don't put yourself in the power of the law, for it'd
be a poor thing to see a judge in his black cap reading out his sentence on a
civil warrior the like of you. [She swings the door to and looks at Christy,
who is cowering in terror, for a moment, then she bursts into a laugh.]
WIDOW QUIN. Well, you're the walking Playboy of the Western World, and that's
the poor man you had divided to his breeches belt.
CHRISTY -- [looking out: then, to her.] -- What'll Pegeen say when she hears
that story? What'll she be saying to me now?
WIDOW QUIN. She'll knock the head of you, I'm thinking, and drive you from
the door. God help her to be taking you for a wonder, and you a little
schemer making up the story you destroyed your da.
CHRISTY -- [turning to the door, nearly speechless with rage, half to
himself.] -- To be letting on he was dead, and coming back to his life, and
following after me like an old weazel tracing a rat, and coming in here laying
desolation between my own self and the fine women of Ireland, and he a kind of
carcase that you'd fling upon the sea. . .
WIDOW QUIN -- [more soberly.] -- There's talking for a man's one only son.
CHRISTY -- [breaking out.] -- His one son, is it? May I meet him with one
tooth and it aching, and one eye to be seeing seven and seventy divils in the
twists of the road, and one old timber leg on him to limp into the scalding
grave. (Looking out.) There he is now crossing the strands, and that the
Lord God would send a high wave to wash him from the world.
WIDOW QUIN -- [scandalised.] Have you no shame? (putting her hand on his
shoulder and turning him round.) What ails you? Near crying, is it?
CHRISTY -- [in despair and grief.] -- Amn't I after seeing the love-light of
the star of knowledge shining from her brow, and hearing words would put you
thinking on the holy Brigid speaking to the infant saints, and now she'll be
turning again, and speaking hard words to me, like an old woman with a
spavindy ass she'd have, urging on a hill.
WIDOW QUIN. There's poetry talk for a girl you'd see itching and scratching,
and she with a stale stink of poteen on her from selling in the shop.
CHRISTY -- [impatiently.] It's her like is fitted to be handling merchandise
in the heavens above, and what'll I be doing now, I ask you, and I a kind of
wonder was jilted by the heavens when a day was by. [There is a distant noise
of girls' voices. Widow Quin looks from window and comes to him, hurriedly.
WIDOW QUIN. You'll be doing like myself, I'm thinking, when I did destroy my
man, for I'm above many's the day, odd times in great spirits, abroad in the
sunshine, darning a stocking or stitching a shift; and odd times again looking
out on the schooners, hookers, trawlers is sailing the sea, and I thinking on
the gallant hairy fellows are drifting beyond, and myself long years living
CHRISTY -- [interested.] You're like me, so.
WIDOW QUIN. I am your like, and it's for that I'm taking a fancy to you, and
I with my little houseen above where there'd be myself to tend you, and none
to ask were you a murderer or what at all.
CHRISTY. And what would I be doing if I left Pegeen?
WIDOW QUIN. I've nice jobs you could be doing, gathering shells to make a
whitewash for our hut within, building up a little goose-house, or stretching
a new skin on an old curragh I have, and if my hut is far from all sides, it's
there you'll meet the wisest old men, I tell you, at the corner of my wheel,
and it's there yourself and me will have great times whispering and hugging. .
VOICES -- [outside, calling far away.] -- Christy! Christy Mahon! Christy!
CHRISTY. Is it Pegeen Mike?
WIDOW QUIN. It's the young girls, I'm thinking, coming to bring you to the
sports below, and what is it you'll have me to tell them now?
CHRISTY. Aid me for to win Pegeen. It's herself only that I'm seeking now.
(Widow Quin gets up and goes to window.) Aid me for to win her, and I'll be
asking God to stretch a hand to you in the hour of death, and lead you short
cuts through the Meadows of Ease, and up the floor of Heaven to the Footstool
of the Virgin's Son.
WIDOW QUIN. There's praying.
VOICES -- [nearer.] Christy! Christy Mahon!
CHRISTY -- [with agitation.] -- They're coming. Will you swear to aid and
save me for the love of Christ?
WIDOW QUIN -- [looks at him for a moment.] -- If I aid you, will you swear to
give me a right of way I want, and a mountainy ram, and a load of dung at
Michaelmas, the time that you'll be master here?
CHRISTY. I will, by the elements and stars of night.
WIDOW QUIN. Then we'll not say a word of the old fellow, the way Pegeen won't
know your story till the end of time.
CHRISTY. And if he chances to return again?
WIDOW QUIN. We'll swear he's a maniac and not your da. I could take an oath
I seen him raving on the sands to-day. [Girls run in.]
SUSAN. Come on to the sports below. Pegeen says you're to come.
SARA TANSEY. The lepping's beginning, and we've a jockey's suit to fit upon
you for the mule race on the sands below.
HONOR. Come on, will you?
CHRISTY. I will then if Pegeen's beyond.
SARA. She's in the boreen making game of Shaneen Keogh.
CHRISTY. Then I'll be going to her now. [He runs out followed by the girls.]
WIDOW QUIN. Well, if the worst comes in the end of all, it'll be great game
to see there's none to pity him but a widow woman, the like of me, has buried
her children and destroyed her man. [She goes out.]
SCENE, [as before. Later in the day. Jimmy comes in, slightly drunk.]
JIMMY -- [calls.] Pegeen! (Crosses to inner door.) Pegeen Mike! (Comes
back again into the room.) Pegeen! (Philly comes in in the same state.) (To
Philly.) Did you see herself?
PHILLY. I did not; but I sent Shawn Keogh with the ass cart for to bear him
home. (Trying cupboards which are locked.) Well, isn't he a nasty man to get
into such staggers at a morning wake? and isn't herself the divil's daughter
for locking, and she so fussy after that young gaffer, you might take your
death with drought and none to heed you?
JIMMY. It's little wonder she'd be fussy, and he after bringing bankrupt ruin
on the roulette man, and the trick-o'-the-loop man, and breaking the nose of
the cockshot-man, and winning all in the sports below, racing, lepping,
dancing, and the Lord knows what! He's right luck, I'm telling you.
PHILLY. If he has, he'll be rightly hobbled yet, and he not able to say ten
words without making a brag of the way he killed his father, and the great
blow he hit with the loy.
JIMMY. A man can't hang by his own informing, and his father should be rotten
by now. [Old Mahon passes window slowly.]
PHILLY. Supposing a man's digging spuds in that field with a long spade, and
supposing he flings up the two halves of that skull, what'll be said then in
the papers and the courts of law?
JIMMY. They'd say it was an old Dane, maybe, was drowned in the flood. (Old
Mahon comes in and sits down near door listening.) Did you never hear tell of
the skulls they have in the city of Dublin, ranged out like blue jugs in a
cabin of Connaught?
PHILLY. And you believe that?
JIMMY -- [pugnaciously.] Didn't a lad see them and he after coming from
harvesting in the Liverpool boat? "They have them there," says he, "making a
show of the great people there was one time walking the world. White skulls
and black skulls and yellow skulls, and some with full teeth, and some haven't
only but one."
PHILLY. It was no lie, maybe, for when I was a young lad there was a
graveyard beyond the house with the remnants of a man who had thighs as long
as your arm. He was a horrid man, I'm telling you, and there was many a fine
Sunday I'd put him together for fun, and he with shiny bones, you wouldn't
meet the like of these days in the cities of the world.
MAHON -- [getting up.] -- You wouldn't is it? Lay your eyes on that skull,
and tell me where and when there was another the like of it, is splintered
only from the blow of a loy.
PHILLY. Glory be to God! And who hit you at all?
MAHON -- [triumphantly.] It was my own son hit me. Would you believe that?
JIMMY. Well, there's wonders hidden in the heart of man!
PHILLY -- [suspiciously.] And what way was it done?
MAHON -- [wandering about the room.] -- I'm after walking hundreds and long
scores of miles, winning clean beds and the fill of my belly four times in the
day, and I doing nothing but telling stories of that naked truth. (He comes to
them a little aggressively.) Give me a supeen and I'll tell you now. [Widow
Quin comes in and stands aghast behind him. He is facing Jimmy and Philly,
who are on the left.]
JIMMY. Ask herself beyond. She's the stuff hidden in her shawl.
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming to Mahon quickly.] -- you here, is it? You didn't go
far at all?
MAHON. I seen the coasting steamer passing, and I got a drought upon me and a
cramping leg, so I said, "The divil go along with him," and turned again.
(Looking under her shawl.) And let you give me a supeen, for I'm destroyed
travelling since Tuesday was a week.
WIDOW QUIN -- [getting a glass, in a cajoling tone.] -- Sit down then by the
fire and take your ease for a space. You've a right to be destroyed indeed,
with your walking, and fighting, and facing the sun (giving him poteen from a
stone jar she has brought in.) There now is a drink for you, and may it be to
your happiness and length of life.
MAHON -- [taking glass greedily and sitting down by fire.] -- God increase
WIDOW QUIN -- [taking men to the right stealthily.] -- Do you know what? That
man's raving from his wound to-day, for I met him a while since telling a
rambling tale of a tinker had him destroyed. Then he heard of Christy's deed,
and he up and says it was his son had cracked his skull. O isn't madness a
fright, for he'll go killing someone yet, and he thinking it's the man has
struck him so?
JIMMY -- [entirely convinced.] It's a fright, surely. I knew a party was
kicked in the head by a red mare, and he went killing horses a great while,
till he eat the insides of a clock and died after.
PHILLY -- [with suspicion.] -- Did he see Christy?
WIDOW QUIN. He didn't. (With a warning gesture.) Let you not be putting him
in mind of him, or you'll be likely summoned if there's murder done. (Looking
round at Mahon.) Whisht! He's listening. Wait now till you hear me taking
him easy and unravelling all. (She goes to Mahon.) And what way are you
feeling, mister? Are you in contentment now?
MAHON -- [slightly emotional from his drink.] -- I'm poorly only, for it's a
hard story the way I'm left to-day, when it was I did tend him from his hour
of birth, and he a dunce never reached his second book, the way he'd come from
school, many's the day, with his legs lamed under him, and he blackened with
his beatings like a tinker's ass. It's a hard story, I'm saying, the way some
do have their next and nighest raising up a hand of murder on them, and some
is lonesome getting their death with lamentation in the dead of night.
WIDOW QUIN -- [not knowing what to say.] -- To hear you talking so quiet,
who'd know you were the same fellow we seen pass to-day?
MAHON. I'm the same surely. The wrack and ruin of three score years; and
it's a terror to live that length, I tell you, and to have your sons going to
the dogs against you, and you wore out scolding them, and skelping them, and
God knows what.
PHILLY -- [to Jimmy.] -- He's not raving. (To Widow Quin.) Will you ask him
what kind was his son?
WIDOW QUIN -- [to Mahon, with a peculiar look.] -- Was your son that hit you a
lad of one year and a score maybe, a great hand at racing and lepping and
licking the world?
MAHON -- [turning on her with a roar of rage.] -- Didn't you hear me say he
was the fool of men, the way from this out he'll know the orphan's lot with
old and young making game of him and they swearing, raging, kicking at him
like a mangy cur. [A great burst of cheering outside, someway off.]
MAHON -- [putting his hands to his ears.] -- What in the name of God do they
want roaring below?
WIDOW QUIN -- [with the shade of a smile.] -- They're cheering a young lad,
the champion Playboy of the Western World. [More cheering.]
MAHON -- [going to window.] It'd split my heart to hear them, and I with
pulses in my brain-pan for a week gone by. Is it racing they are?
JIMMY -- [looking from door.] -- It is then. They are mounting him for the
mule race will be run upon the sands. That's the playboy on the winkered
MAHON [puzzled.] That lad, is it? If you said it was a fool he was, I'd
have laid a mighty oath he was the likeness of my wandering son (uneasily,
putting his hand to his head.) Faith, I'm thinking I'll go walking for to
view the race.
WIDOW QUIN -- [stopping him, sharply.] -- You will not. You'd best take the
road to Belmullet, and not be dilly-dallying in this place where there isn't a
spot you could sleep.
PHILLY -- [coming forward.] -- Don't mind her. Mount there on the bench and
you'll have a view of the whole. They're hurrying before the tide will rise,
and it'd be near over if you went down the pathway through the crags below.
MAHON [mounts on bench, Widow Quin beside him.] -- That's a right view again
the edge of the sea. They're coming now from the point. He's leading. Who
is he at all?
WIDOW QUIN. He's the champion of the world, I tell you, and there isn't a
hop'orth isn't falling lucky to his hands to-day.
PHILLY -- [looking out, interested in the race.] -- Look at that. They're
pressing him now.
JIMMY. He'll win it yet.
PHILLY. Take your time, Jimmy Farrell. It's too soon to say.
WIDOW QUIN -- [shouting.] Watch him taking the gate. There's riding.
JIMMY -- [cheering.] More power to the young lad!
MAHON. He's passing the third.
JIMMY. He'll lick them yet!
WIDOW QUIN. He'd lick them if he was running races with a score itself.
MAHON. Look at the mule he has, kicking the stars.
WIDOW QUIN. There was a lep! (catching hold of Mahon in her excitement.) He's
fallen! He's mounted again! Faith, he's passing them all!
JIMMY. Look at him skelping her!
PHILLY. And the mountain girls hooshing him on!
JIMMY. It's the last turn! The post's cleared for them now!
MAHON. Look at the narrow place. He'll be into the bogs! (With a yell.)
Good rider! He's through it again!
JIMMY. He neck and neck!
MAHON. Good boy to him! Flames, but he's in! [Great cheering, in which all
MAHON [with hesitation.] What's that? They're raising him up. They're
coming this way. (With a roar of rage and astonishment.) It's Christy! by
the stars of God! I'd know his way of spitting and he astride the moon. [He
jumps down and makes for the door, but Widow Quin catches him and pulls him
WIDOW QUIN. Stay quiet, will you. That's not your son. (To Jimmy.) Stop
him, or you'll get a month for the abetting of manslaughter and be fined as
JIMMY. I'll hold him.
MAHON [struggling.] Let me out! Let me out, the lot of you! till I have my
vengeance on his head to-day.
WIDOW QUIN -- [shaking him, vehemently.] -- That's not your son. That's a man
is going to make a marriage with the daughter of this house, a place with fine
trade, with a license, and with poteen too.
MAHON -- [amazed.] That man marrying a decent and a moneyed girl! Is it mad
yous are? Is it in a crazy-house for females that I'm landed now?
WIDOW QUIN. It's mad yourself is with the blow upon your head. That lad is
the wonder of the Western World.
MAHON. I seen it's my son.
WIDOW QUIN. You seen that you're mad. (Cheering outside.) Do you hear them
cheering him in the zig-zags of the road? Aren't you after saying that your
son's a fool, and how would they be cheering a true idiot born?
MAHON -- [getting distressed.] -- It's maybe out of reason that that man's
himself. (Cheering again.) There's none surely will go cheering him. Oh, I'm
raving with a madness that would fright the world! (He sits down with his
hand to his head.) There was one time I seen ten scarlet divils letting on
they'd cork my spirit in a gallon can; and one time I seen rats as big as
badgers sucking the life blood from the butt of my lug; but I never till this
day confused that dribbling idiot with a likely man. I'm destroyed surely.
WIDOW QUIN. And who'd wonder when it's your brain-pan that is gaping now?
MAHON. Then the blight of the sacred drought upon myself and him, for I never
went mad to this day, and I not three weeks with the Limerick girls drinking
myself silly, and parlatic from the dusk to dawn. (To Widow Quin, suddenly.)
Is my visage astray?
WIDOW QUIN. It is then. You're a sniggering maniac, a child could see.
MAHON -- [getting up more cheerfully.] -- Then I'd best be going to the union
beyond, and there'll be a welcome before me, I tell you (with great pride),
and I a terrible and fearful case, the way that there I was one time,
screeching in a straightened waistcoat, with seven doctors writing out my
sayings in a printed book. Would you believe that?
WIDOW QUIN. If you're a wonder itself, you'd best be hasty, for them lads
caught a maniac one time and pelted the poor creature till he ran out, raving
and foaming, and was drowned in the sea.
MAHON -- [with philosophy.] -- It's true mankind is the divil when your head's
astray. Let me out now and I'll slip down the boreen, and not see them so.
WIDOW QUIN -- [showing him out.] -- That's it. Run to the right, and not a
one will see. [He runs off.]
PHILLY -- [wisely.] You're at some gaming, Widow Quin; but I'll walk after
him and give him his dinner and a time to rest, and I'll see then if he's
raving or as sane as you.
WIDOW QUIN -- [annoyed.] If you go near that lad, let you be wary of your
head, I'm saying. Didn't you hear him telling he was crazed at times?
PHILLY. I heard him telling a power; and I'm thinking we'll have right sport,
before night will fall. [He goes out.]
JIMMY. Well, Philly's a conceited and foolish man. How could that madman
have his senses and his brain-pan slit? I'll go after them and see him turn
on Philly now. [He goes; Widow Quin hides poteen behind counter. Then hubbub
VOICES. There you are! Good jumper! Grand lepper! Darlint boy! He's the
racer! Bear him on, will you! [Christy comes in, in Jockey's dress, with
Pegeen Mike, Sara, and other girls, and men.]
PEGEEN -- [to crowd.] -- Go on now and don't destroy him and he drenching with
sweat. Go along, I'm saying, and have your tug-of-warring till he's dried his
CROWD. Here's his prizes! A bagpipes! A fiddle was played by a poet in the
years gone by! A flat and three-thorned blackthorn would lick the scholars
out of Dublin town!
CHRISTY -- [taking prizes from the men.] -- Thank you kindly, the lot of you.
But you'd say it was little only I did this day if you'd seen me a while since
striking my one single blow.
TOWN CRIER -- [outside, ringing a bell.] -- Take notice, last event of this
day! Tug-of-warring on the green below! Come on, the lot of you! Great
achievements for all Mayo men!
PEGEEN. Go on, and leave him for to rest and dry. Go on, I tell you, for
he'll do no more. (She hustles crowd out; Widow Quin following them.)
MEN -- [going.] -- Come on then. Good luck for the while!
PEGEEN -- [radiantly, wiping his face with her shawl.] -- Well, you're the
lad, and you'll have great times from this out when you could win that wealth
of prizes, and you sweating in the heat of noon!
CHRISTY -- [looking at her with delight.] -- I'll have great times if I win
the crowning prize I'm seeking now, and that's your promise that you'll wed me
in a fortnight, when our banns is called.
PEGEEN -- [backing away from him.] -- You've right daring to go ask me that,
when all knows you'll be starting to some girl in your own townland, when your
father's rotten in four months, or five.
CHRISTY -- [indignantly.] Starting from you, is it? (He follows her.) I
will not, then, and when the airs is warming in four months, or five, it's
then yourself and me should be pacing Neifin in the dews of night, the times
sweet smells do be rising, and you'd see a little shiny new moon, maybe,
sinking on the hills.
PEGEEN [looking at him playfully.] -- And it's that kind of a poacher's love
you'd make, Christy Mahon, on the sides of Neifin, when the night is down?
CHRISTY. It's little you'll think if my love's a poacher's, or an earl's
itself, when you'll feel my two hands stretched around you, and I squeezing
kisses on your puckered lips, till I'd feel a kind of pity for the Lord God is
all ages sitting lonesome in his golden chair.
PEGEEN. That'll be right fun, Christy Mahon, and any girl would walk her
heart out before she'd meet a young man was your like for eloquence, or talk,
CHRISTY -- [encouraged.] Let you wait, to hear me talking, till we're astray
in Erris, when Good Friday's by, drinking a sup from a well, and making mighty
kisses with our wetted mouths, or gaming in a gap or sunshine, with yourself
stretched back unto your necklace, in the flowers of the earth.
PEGEEN -- [in a lower voice, moved by his tone.] -- I'd be nice so, is it?
CHRISTY -- [with rapture.] -- If the mitred bishops seen you that time, they'd
be the like of the holy prophets, I'm thinking, do be straining the bars of
Paradise to lay eyes on the Lady Helen of Troy, and she abroad, pacing back
and forward, with a nosegay in her golden shawl.
PEGEEN -- [with real tenderness.] -- And what is it I have, Christy Mahon, to
make me fitting entertainment for the like of you, that has such poet's
talking, and such bravery of heart?
CHRISTY -- [in a low voice.] -- Isn't there the light of seven heavens in your
heart alone, the way you'll be an angel's lamp to me from this out, and I
abroad in the darkness, spearing salmons in the Owen, or the Carrowmore?
PEGEEN. If I was your wife, I'd be along with you those nights, Christy
Mahon, the way you'd see I was a great hand at coaxing bailiffs, or coining
funny nick-names for the stars of night.
CHRISTY. You, is it? Taking your death in the hailstones, or in the fogs of
PEGEEN. Yourself and me would shelter easy in a narrow bush, (with a qualm of
dread) but we're only talking, maybe, for this would be a poor, thatched place
to hold a fine lad is the like of you.
CHRISTY -- [putting his arm round her.] -- If I wasn't a good Christian, it's
on my naked knees I'd be saying my prayers and paters to every jackstraw you
have roofing your head, and every stony pebble is paving the laneway to your
PEGEEN -- [radiantly.] If that's the truth, I'll be burning candles from this
out to the miracles of God that have brought you from the south to-day, and I,
with my gowns bought ready, the way that I can wed you, and not wait at all.
CHRISTY. It's miracles, and that's the truth. Me there toiling a long while,
and walking a long while, not knowing at all I was drawing all times nearer to
this holy day.
PEGEEN. And myself, a girl, was tempted often to go sailing the seas till I'd
marry a Jew-man, with ten kegs of gold, and I not knowing at all there was the
like of you drawing nearer, like the stars of God.
CHRISTY. And to think I'm long years hearing women talking that talk, to all
bloody fools, and this the first time I've heard the like of your voice
talking sweetly for my own delight.
PEGEEN. And to think it's me is talking sweetly, Christy Mahon, and I the
fright of seven townlands for my biting tongue. Well, the heart's a wonder;
and, I'm thinking, there won't be our like in Mayo, for gallant lovers, from
this hour, to-day. (Drunken singing is heard outside.) There's my father
coming from the wake, and when he's had his sleep we'll tell him, for he's
peaceful then. [They separate.]
MICHAEL -- [singing outside] --
The jailor and the turnkey
They quickly ran us down,
And brought us back as prisoners
Once more to Cavan town. [He comes in supported by Shawn.]
There we lay bewailing
All in a prison bound. . . . [He sees Christy. Goes and shakes him drunkenly
by the hand, while Pegeen and Shawn talk on the left.]
MICHAEL -- [to Christy.] -- The blessing of God and the holy angels on your
head, young fellow. I hear tell you're after winning all in the sports below;
and wasn't it a shame I didn't bear you along with me to Kate Cassidy's wake,
a fine, stout lad, the like of you, for you'd never see the match of it for
flows of drink, the way when we sunk her bones at noonday in her narrow grave,
there were five men, aye, and six men, stretched out retching speechless on
the holy stones.
CHRISTY -- [uneasily, watching Pegeen.] -- Is that the truth?
MICHAEL. It is then, and aren't you a louty schemer to go burying your poor
father unbeknownst when you'd a right to throw him on the crupper of a Kerry
mule and drive him westwards, like holy Joseph in the days gone by, the way we
could have given him a decent burial, and not have him rotting beyond, and not
a Christian drinking a smart drop to the glory of his soul?
CHRISTY -- [gruffly.] It's well enough he's lying, for the likes of him.
MICHAEL -- [slapping him on the back.] -- Well, aren't you a hardened slayer?
It'll be a poor thing for the household man where you go sniffing for a female
wife; and (pointing to Shawn) look beyond at that shy and decent Christian I
have chosen for my daughter's hand, and I after getting the gilded
dispensation this day for to wed them now.
CHRISTY. And you'll be wedding them this day, is it?
MICHAEL -- [drawing himself up.] -- Aye. Are you thinking, if I'm drunk
itself, I'd leave my daughter living single with a little frisky rascal is the
like of you?
PEGEEN -- [breaking away from Shawn.] -- Is it the truth the dispensation's
MICHAEL -- [triumphantly.] Father Reilly's after reading it in gallous Latin,
and "It's come in the nick of time," says he; "so I'll wed them in a hurry,
dreading that young gaffer who'd capsize the stars."
PEGEEN -- [fiercely.] He's missed his nick of time, for it's that lad,
Christy Mahon, that I'm wedding now.
MICHAEL -- [loudly with horror.] -- You'd be making him a son to me, and he
wet and crusted with his father's blood?
PEGEEN. Aye. Wouldn't it be a bitter thing for a girl to go marrying the
like of Shaneen, and he a middling kind of a scarecrow, with no savagery or
fine words in him at all?
MICHAEL -- [gasping and sinking on a chair.] -- Oh, aren't you a heathen
daughter to go shaking the fat of my heart, and I swamped and drownded with
the weight of drink? Would you have them turning on me the way that I'd be
roaring to the dawn of day with the wind upon my heart? Have you not a word
to aid me, Shaneen? Are you not jealous at all?
SHANEEN -- [In great misery.] -- I'd be afeard to be jealous of a man did slay
PEGEEN. Well, it'd be a poor thing to go marrying your like. I'm seeing
there's a world of peril for an orphan girl, and isn't it a great blessing I
didn't wed you, before himself came walking from the west or south?
SHAWN. It's a queer story you'd go picking a dirty tramp up from the highways
of the world.
PEGEEN -- [playfully.] And you think you're a likely beau to go straying
along with, the shiny Sundays of the opening year, when it's sooner on a
bullock's liver you'd put a poor girl thinking than on the lily or the rose?
SHAWN. And have you no mind of my weight of passion, and the holy
dispensation, and the drift of heifers I am giving, and the golden ring?
PEGEEN. I'm thinking you're too fine for the like of me, Shawn Keogh of
Killakeen, and let you go off till you'd find a radiant lady with droves of
bullocks on the plains of Meath, and herself bedizened in the diamond
jewelleries of Pharaoh's ma. That'd be your match, Shaneen. So God save you
now! [She retreats behind Christy.]
SHAWN. Won't you hear me telling you. . . ?
CHRISTY -- [with ferocity.] -- Take yourself from this, young fellow, or I'll
maybe add a murder to my deeds to-day.
MICHAEL -- [springing up with a shriek.] -- Murder is it? Is it mad yous are?
Would you go making murder in this place, and it piled with poteen for our
drink to-night? Go on to the foreshore if it's fighting you want, where the
rising tide will wash all traces from the memory of man. [Pushing Shawn
SHAWN -- [shaking himself free, and getting behind Michael.] -- I'll not fight
him, Michael James. I'd liefer live a bachelor, simmering in passions to the
end of time, than face a lepping savage the like of him has descended from the
Lord knows where. Strike him yourself, Michael James, or you'll lose my drift
of heifers and my blue bull from Sneem.
MICHAEL. Is it me fight him, when it's father-slaying he's bred to now?
(Pushing Shawn.) Go on you fool and fight him now.
SHAWN -- [coming forward a little.] -- Will I strike him with my hand?
MICHAEL. Take the loy is on your western side.
SHAWN. I'd be afeard of the gallows if I struck him with that.
CHRISTY -- [taking up the loy.] -- Then I'll make you face the gallows or quit
off from this. [Shawn flies out of the door.]
CHRISTY. Well, fine weather be after him, (going to Michael, coaxingly) and
I'm thinking you wouldn't wish to have that quaking blackguard in your house
at all. Let you give us your blessing and hear her swear her faith to me, for
I'm mounted on the spring-tide of the stars of luck, the way it'll be good for
any to have me in the house.
PEGEEN [at the other side of Michael.] -- Bless us now, for I swear to God
I'll wed him, and I'll not renege.
MICHAEL -- [standing up in the centre, holding on to both of them.] -- It's
the will of God, I'm thinking, that all should win an easy or a cruel end, and
it's the will of God that all should rear up lengthy families for the nurture
of the earth. What's a single man, I ask you, eating a bit in one house and
drinking a sup in another, and he with no place of his own, like an old
braying jackass strayed upon the rocks? (To Christy.) It's many would be in
dread to bring your like into their house for to end them, maybe, with a
sudden end; but I'm a decent man of Ireland, and I liefer face the grave
untimely and I seeing a score of grandsons growing up little gallant swearers
by the name of God, than go peopling my bedside with puny weeds the like of
what you'd breed, I'm thinking, out of Shaneen Keogh. (He joins their hands.)
A daring fellow is the jewel of the world, and a man did split his father's
middle with a single clout, should have the bravery of ten, so may God and
Mary and St. Patrick bless you, and increase you from this mortal day.
CHRISTY AND PEGEEN. Amen, O Lord!
[Old Mahon rushes in, followed by all the crowd, and Widow Quin. He makesa
rush at Christy, knocks him down,and begins to beat him.]
PEGEEN -- [dragging back his arm.] -- Stop that, will you. Who are you at
MAHON. His father, God forgive me!
PEGEEN -- [drawing back.] -- Is it rose from the dead?
MAHON. Do you think I look so easy quenched with the tap of a loy? [Beats
PEGEEN -- [glaring at Christy.] -- And it's lies you told, letting on you had
him slitted, and you nothing at all.
CHRISTY -- [clutching Mahon's stick.] -- He's not my father. He's a raving
maniac would scare the world. (Pointing to Widow Quin.) Herself knows it is
CROWD. You're fooling Pegeen! The Widow Quin seen him this day, and you
likely knew! You're a liar!
CHRISTY -- [dumbfounded.] It's himself was a liar, lying stretched out with
an open head on him, letting on he was dead.
MAHON. Weren't you off racing the hills before I got my breath with the start
I had seeing you turn on me at all?
PEGEEN. And to think of the coaxing glory we had given him, and he after
doing nothing but hitting a soft blow and chasing northward in a sweat of
fear. Quit off from this.
CHRISTY -- [piteously.] You've seen my doings this day, and let you save me
from the old man; for why would you be in such a scorch of haste to spur me to
PEGEEN. It's there your treachery is spurring me, till I'm hard set to think
you're the one I'm after lacing in my heart-strings half-an-hour gone by. (To
Mahon.) Take him on from this, for I think bad the world should see me raging
for a Munster liar, and the fool of men.
MAHON. Rise up now to retribution, and come on with me.
CROWD -- [jeeringly.] There's the playboy! There's the lad thought he'd rule
the roost in Mayo. Slate him now, mister.
CHRISTY -- [getting up in shy terror.] -- What is it drives you to torment me
here, when I'd asked the thunders of the might of God to blast me if I ever
did hurt to any saving only that one single blow.
MAHON -- [loudly.] If you didn't, you're a poor good-for-nothing, and isn't
it by the like of you the sins of the whole world are committed?
CHRISTY -- [raising his hands.] -- In the name of the Almighty God. . . .
MAHON. Leave troubling the Lord God. Would you have him sending down
droughts, and fevers, and the old hen and the cholera morbus?
CHRISTY -- [to Widow Quin.] -- Will you come between us and protect me now?
WIDOW QUIN. I've tried a lot, God help me, and my share is done.
CHRISTY -- [looking round in desperation.] -- And I must go back into my
torment is it, or run off like a vagabond straying through the Unions with the
dusts of August making mudstains in the gullet of my throat, or the winds of
March blowing on me till I'd take an oath I felt them making whistles of my
SARA. Ask Pegeen to aid you. Her like does often change.
CHRISTY. I will not then, for there's torment in the splendour of her like,
and she a girl any moon of midnight would take pride to meet, facing
southwards on the heaths of Keel. But what did I want crawling forward to
scorch my understanding at her flaming brow?
PEGEEN -- [to Mahon, vehemently, fearing she will break into tears.] -- Take
him on from this or I'll set the young lads to destroy him here.
MAHON -- [going to him, shaking his stick.] -- Come on now if you wouldn't
have the company to see you skelped.
PEGEEN -- [half laughing, through her tears.] -- That's it, now the world will
see him pandied, and he an ugly liar was playing off the hero, and the fright
CHRISTY -- [to Mahon, very sharply.] -- Leave me go!
CROWD. That's it. Now Christy. If them two set fighting, it will lick the
MAHON -- [making a grab at Christy.] -- Come here to me.
CHRISTY -- [more threateningly.] -- Leave me go, I'm saying.
MAHON. I will maybe, when your legs is limping, and your back is blue.
CROWD. Keep it up, the two of you. I'll back the old one. Now the playboy.
CHRISTY -- [in low and intense voice.] -- Shut your yelling, for if you're
after making a mighty man of me this day by the power of a lie, you're setting
me now to think if it's a poor thing to be lonesome, it's worse maybe to go
mixing with the fools of earth. [Mahon makes a movement towards him.]
CHRISTY -- [almost shouting.] -- Keep off . . . lest I do show a blow unto the
lot of you would set the guardian angels winking in the clouds above. [He
swings round with a sudden rapid movement and picks up a loy.]
CROWD -- [half frightened, half amused.] -- He's going mad! Mind yourselves!
Run from the idiot!
CHRISTY. If I am an idiot, I'm after hearing my voice this day saying words
would raise the topknot on a poet in a merchant's town. I've won your racing,
and your lepping, and . . .
MAHON. Shut your gullet and come on with me.
CHRISTY. I'm going, but I'll stretch you first. [He runs at old Mahon with
the loy, chases him out of the door, followed by crowd and Widow Quin. There
is a great noise outside, then a yell, and dead silence for a moment. Christy
comes in, half dazed, and goes to fire.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [coming in, hurriedly, and going to him.] -- They're turning
again you. Come on, or you'll be hanged, indeed.
CHRISTY. I'm thinking, from this out, Pegeen'll be giving me praises the same
as in the hours gone by.
WIDOW QUIN -- [impatiently.] Come by the back-door. I'd think bad to have
you stifled on the gallows tree.
CHRISTY -- [indignantly.] I will not, then. What good'd be my life-time, if
I left Pegeen?
WIDOW QUIN. Come on, and you'll be no worse than you were last night; and you
with a double murder this time to be telling to the girls.
CHRISTY. I'll not leave Pegeen Mike.
WIDOW QUIN -- [impatiently.] Isn't there the match of her in every parish
public, from Binghamstown unto the plain of Meath? Come on, I tell you, and
I'll find you finer sweethearts at each waning moon.
CHRISTY. It's Pegeen I'm seeking only, and what'd I care if you brought me a
drift of chosen females, standing in their shifts itself, maybe, from this
place to the Eastern World?
SARA -- [runs in, pulling off one of her petticoats.] -- They're going to hang
him. (Holding out petticoat and shawl.) Fit these upon him, and let him run
off to the east.
WIDOW QUIN. He's raving now; but we'll fit them on him, and I'll take him, in
the ferry, to the Achill boat.
CHRISTY -- [struggling feebly.] -- Leave me go, will you? when I'm thinking of
my luck to-day, for she will wed me surely, and I a proven hero in the end of
all. [They try to fasten petticoat round him.]
WIDOW QUIN. Take his left hand, and we'll pull him now. Come on, young
CHRISTY -- [suddenly starting up.] -- You'll be taking me from her? You're
jealous, is it, of her wedding me? Go on from this. [He snatches up a stool,
and threatens them with it.]
WIDOW QUIN -- [going.] -- It's in the mad-house they should put him, not in
jail, at all. We'll go by the back-door, to call the doctor, and we'll save
him so. [She goes out, with Sara, through inner room. Men crowd in the
doorway. Christy sits down again by the fire.]
MICHAEL -- [in a terrified whisper.] -- Is the old lad killed surely?
PHILLY. I'm after feeling the last gasps quitting his heart. [They peer in
MICHAEL -- [with a rope.] -- Look at the way he is. Twist a hangman's knot on
it, and slip it over his head, while he's not minding at all.
PHILLY. Let you take it, Shaneen. You're the soberest of all that's here.
SHAWN. Is it me to go near him, and he the wickedest and worst with me? Let
you take it, Pegeen Mike.
PEGEEN. Come on, so. [She goes forward with the others, and they drop the
double hitch over his head.]
CHRISTY. What ails you?
SHAWN -- [triumphantly, as they pull the rope tight on his arms.] -- Come on
to the peelers, till they stretch you now.
MICHAEL. If we took pity on you, the Lord God would, maybe, bring us ruin
from the law to-day, so you'd best come easy, for hanging is an easy and a
CHRISTY. I'll not stir. (To Pegeen.) And what is it you'll say to me, and I
after doing it this time in the face of all?
PEGEEN. I'll say, a strange man is a marvel, with his mighty talk; but what's
a squabble in your back-yard, and the blow of a loy, have taught me that
there's a great gap between a gallous story and a dirty deed. (To Men.) Take
him on from this, or the lot of us will be likely put on trial for his deed
CHRISTY -- [with horror in his voice.] -- And it's yourself will send me off,
to have a horny-fingered hangman hitching his bloody slip-knots at the butt of
MEN -- [pulling rope.] -- Come on, will you? [He is pulled down on the floor.]
CHRISTY -- [twisting his legs round the table.] -- Cut the rope, Pegeen, and
I'll quit the lot of you, and live from this out, like the madmen of Keel,
eating muck and green weeds, on the faces of the cliffs.
PEGEEN. And leave us to hang, is it, for a saucy liar, the like of you? (To
men.) Take him on, out from this.
SHAWN. Pull a twist on his neck, and squeeze him so.
PHILLY. Twist yourself. Sure he cannot hurt you, if you keep your distance
from his teeth alone.
SHAWN. I'm afeard of him. (To Pegeen.) Lift a lighted sod, will you, and
scorch his leg.
PEGEEN -- [blowing the fire, with a bellows.] Leave go now, young fellow, or
I'll scorch your shins.
CHRISTY. You're blowing for to torture me (His voice rising and growing
stronger.) That's your kind, is it? Then let the lot of you be wary, for, if
I've to face the gallows, I'll have a gay march down, I tell you, and shed the
blood of some of you before I die.
SHAWN -- [in terror.] -- Keep a good hold, Philly. Be wary, for the love of
God. For I'm thinking he would liefest wreak his pains on me.
CHRISTY -- [almost gaily.] -- If I do lay my hands on you, it's the way you'll
be at the fall of night, hanging as a scarecrow for the fowls of hell. Ah,
you'll have a gallous jaunt I'm saying, coaching out through Limbo with my
SHAWN -- [to Pegeen.] -- Make haste, will you? Oh, isn't he a holy terror,
and isn't it true for Father Reilly, that all drink's a curse that has the lot
of you so shaky and uncertain now?
CHRISTY. If I can wring a neck among you, I'll have a royal judgment looking
on the trembling jury in the courts of law. And won't there be crying out in
Mayo the day I'm stretched upon the rope with ladies in their silks and satins
snivelling in their lacy kerchiefs, and they rhyming songs and ballads on the
terror of my fate? [He squirms round on the floor and bitesShawn's leg.]
SHAWN -- [shrieking.] My leg's bit on me. He's the like of a mad dog, I'm
thinking, the way that I will surely die.
CHRISTY -- [delighted with himself.] -- You will then, the way you can shake
out hell's flags of welcome for my coming in two weeks or three, for I'm
thinking Satan hasn't many have killed their da in Kerry, and in Mayo too.
[Old Mahon comes in behind on all fours and looks on unnoticed.]
MEN -- [to Pegeen.] -- Bring the sod, will you?
PEGEEN [coming over.] -- God help him so. (Burns his leg.)
CHRISTY -- [kicking and screaming.] -- O, glory be to God! [He kicks loose
from the table, and they all drag him towards the door.]
JIMMY -- [seeing old Mahon.] -- Will you look what's come in? [They all drop
Christy and run left.]
CHRISTY -- [scrambling on his knees face to face with old Mahon.] -- Are you
coming to be killed a third time, or what ails you now?
MAHON. For what is it they have you tied?
CHRISTY. They're taking me to the peelers to have me hanged for slaying you.
MICHAEL -- [apologetically.] It is the will of God that all should guard
their little cabins from the treachery of law, and what would my daughter be
doing if I was ruined or was hanged itself?
MAHON -- [grimly, loosening Christy.] -- It's little I care if you put a bag
on her back, and went picking cockles till the hour of death; but my son and
myself will be going our own way, and we'll have great times from this out
telling stories of the villainy of Mayo, and the fools is here. (To Christy,
who is freed.) Come on now.
CHRISTY. Go with you, is it? I will then, like a gallant captain with his
heathen slave. Go on now and I'll see you from this day stewing my oatmeal
and washing my spuds, for I'm master of all fights from now. (Pushing Mahon.)
Go on, I'm saying.
MAHON. Is it me?
CHRISTY. Not a word out of you. Go on from this.
MAHON [walking out and looking back at Christy over his shoulder.] -- Glory
be to God! (With a broad smile.) I am crazy again! [Goes.]
CHRISTY. Ten thousand blessings upon all that's here, for you've turned me a
likely gaffer in the end of all, the way I'll go romancing through a romping
lifetime from this hour to the dawning of the judgment day. [He goes out.]
MICHAEL. By the will of God, we'll have peace now for our drinks. Will you
draw the porter, Pegeen?
SHAWN -- [going up to her.] -- It's a miracle Father Reilly can wed us in the
end of all, and we'll have none to trouble us when his vicious bite is healed.
PEGEEN -- [hitting him a box on the ear.] -- Quit my sight. (Putting her
shawl over her head and breaking out into wild lamentations.) Oh my grief,
I've lost him surely. I've lost the only Playboy of the Western World.
THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD was first produced by the National Theatre
Society, Ltd., at the Abbey Theatre, on Saturday, 26th January, 1907, under
the direction of W. G. Fay.
Christopher Mahon, W. G. FAY
Old Mahon, his father, a squatter, A. POWER.
Michael James Flaherty (called "Michael James"), a publican, ARTHUR SINCLAIR.
Margaret Flaherty (called "Pegeen Mike"), his daughter, MARIE O'NEILL.
Shawn Keogh, her second cousin, a young farmer, F. J. FAY.
Philly O'Cullen, J. A. O'ROURKE.
Jimmy Farrell, J. M. KERRIGAN.
Widow Quin, SARA ALLGOOD
Sara Tansey, BRIGIT O'DEMPSEY
Susan Brady, ALICE O'SULLIVAN
Honor Blake, MARY CRAIG.
Peasants, HARRY YOUNG.
Back to Full Books