Part 3 out of 5
It's a fine time for them to be going when the leaves are
opening on the trees.
_Three boys and three girls enter. They are dressed for going away_.
God save you, girls. Good-bye, Cornelius. I'll have to run
like a redshank.
_Sally goes out_.
I'll call Ellen down to you. _(He goes to the room door
and calls)_ I'm going herding myself. Herding is pleasant when you
have thoughts with you.
_He takes up the rod and goes out. The girls begin whispering, then
Sure I know. Every night I'm dreaming of the sea and the
great towns. Streets and streets of houses and every street as
crowded as the road outside the chapel when the people do be coming
from Mass. I could watch the crowd in the street; I would think it
better than any sight I ever knew.
And the shops and the great houses.
There's no stir here. There's no fine clothes, nor fine
manners, nor fine things to be seen.
There's no money. One could never get a shilling together
here. In America there's money to have and to spend and to send home.
Every girl gets married in America.
_Ellen comes down_.
I'm glad you came. I have tea ready for you. I can't go to
_Some come to the table and some remain near the door_.
_(at table, to Ellen)_ They say that a peat fire like that
will seem very strange to us after America. Bridget wondered at it
when she came back. "Do civilized people really cook at the like of
them?" said she.
It's the little houses with only three rooms in them that will
seem strange. I'm beginning to wonder myself at their thatch and
their mud walls.
Houses in bogs and fields. It was a heart-break trying
to keep them as we'd like to keep them. A GIRL _(at door)_ Ah, but
I'll never forget Gortan and the little road to Aughnalee.
I think I'll be lonesome for a long time. I'll be
thinking on my brothers and sisters. I nursed and minded all the
A girl like you, Ellen, is foolish to be staying here.
She'll be coming in the fall. We'll be glad to see you,
I have no friends in America.
I have no friends there, either. But I'll get on. You
could get on better than any of us, Ellen.
She's waiting for her school. It will be a little place
by the side of a bog.
_(going to Ellen)_ There would be little change in that.
And isn't it a life altogether different from this life that we have
been longing for? To be doing other work, and to be meeting strange
people. And instead of bare roads and market-towns, to be seeing
streets, and crowds, and theaters.
_(passionately)_ O what do you know about streets and theaters?
You have only heard of them. They are finer than anything you could
say. They are finer than anything you could think of, after a story,
when you'd be A GIRL You'll be going after all, Ellen.
I won't be going.
Well, maybe you'll be down at Gilroy's. We must go now.
_The girls go to the door. Ellen goes with them_.
ONE OF THE BOYS
Phil said that an egg was all he could touch while
he was on the sea.
God help us, if that was all Phil could take.
Light your pipes now, and we'll go.
_Ellen has parted with the girls. The boys light their pipes at fire.
They go to door, and shake hands with Ellen. The boys go out_.
Theaters! What do they know of theaters? And it's their like
will be enjoying them.
_Sally comes back. She is more hurried than before_.
Ellen! Ellen! I have wonders to tell. Where is Cornelius, at
all? He's never here when you have wonders to tell.
What have you to tell?
Oh, I don't know how I'll get it all out! Matt and father had
an _odious_ falling out, and it was about you. And Matt's going to
America; and he's to bring you with him. And Cornelius was saying
that if father found out about yourself and Matt--
Sally, Sally, take breath and tell it.
Matt is going to America, like the others, and he's taking you
Sally, Sally, is it the truth you're telling?
It is the truth. Honest as day, it is the truth.
And I thought I'd be content with a new house. Now we can go
away together. I can see what I longed to see. I have a chance of
knowing what is in me. _(She takes Sally's hands)_ It's great news
you've brought me. No one ever brought me such news before. Take
this little cross. You won't have a chance of getting fond of me
after all. _(She wears a cross at her throat; she breaks the string,
and gives it to Sally)_
I don't know why I was so fervent to tell you. There's the
stool before me that myself and Cornelius were sitting on, and he
saying--_(She goes to the door)_ Here's Matt! Now we'll hear all
So soon; so soon. _(She goes to the mirror. After a pause,
turning to Sally)_ Go down the road a bit, when he comes in. Sally,
you have a simple mind; you might be saying a prayer that it will be
for the best.
_(going to the door muttering)_ Go down the road a bit! 'Deed
and I will not till I know the whole ins and outs of it. Sure
I'm as much concerned in it as herself! "No man sees his house
afire but watches his rick," he was saying. Ah, there's few of
them could think of as fine a thing as that.
_Matt comes in._
Well, Sally, were you home lately?
I was--leastways as far as the door. Father and oul' Martin were
I've given them something to discourse about. Maybe you'll be
treated better from this day. Sally.
O Matt, I'm sorry.
_She goes out._
_(going to Ellen)_ It happened at last, Ellen; the height of the
It was bound to come. I knew it would come, Matt.
He was a foolish man to put shame on me after all I did for the land.
You had too much thought for the land.
I had in troth. The others went when there was less to be done. They
could not stand him. Even the girls stole away.
There was the high spirit in the whole of you.
I showed it to him. "Stop," said I; "no more, or I fling lands
and house and everything aside."
You said that.
Ay. "Your other children went for less," said I; "do you think
there's no blood in me at all?"
What happened then?
"I'm your last son," I said; "keep your land and your twenty
years' purchase. I'm with the others; and it's poor your land will
leave you, and you without a son to bring down your name. A bit of
land, a house," said I; "do you think these will keep me here?"
I knew they could not keep you here, Matt. You have broken
from them at last; and now the world is before us. Think of all that
is before us--the sea, and the ships, the strange life, and the great
Ay--there before us--if we like.
Surely we like.
I was always shy of crowds. I'm simple, after all, Ellen, and
have no thought beyond the land.
You said that house and land could not keep you. You told him you
were going as your brothers went.
And I felt I was going. I frightened him. He'll be glad to see me
back. It will be long before he treats me that way again.
What is it, Ellen?
I don't know--I was upset--thinking of the quarrel _(putting her
hands on his shoulders)_ My poor Matt. It was about me you quarrelled.
Ay, he spoke against you. I couldn't put up with that.
He does not know your high spirit. He does not know your strength.
Ellen, it's no shame for a man to have harsh words said to him when
it's about a woman like you.
Let nothing come between us now. I saw you in the winter making
drains and ditches, and it wet. It's a poor story, the life of a man
on the land.
I had too much thought for the land.
You had. Have thought for me now. There is no one in fair or market
but would notice me. I was never a favourite. I lived to myself. I
did not give my love about. You have never offered me anything. In
the song a man offers towns to his sweetheart. You can offer me the
sights of great towns, and the fine manners, and the fine life.
Ellen! _(He draws a little away)_ It's not me that could offer the
like of that. I never had anything to my hand but a spade.
Your brothers--think of them.
They all left some one behind them. I am the last of my name.
Why should that keep you back?
His name is something to a man. Could you hear of your own name
melting away without unease? And you are a woman. A man feels it more.
I do not understand men. Will you go back to your father's house
after he shaming you out of it?
He'll be glad to see me back. He'll never cast it up to me that I
Matt, your father said words against me. Will you go to him and take
his hand after that?
It was little he said against you. It was against your father he
_(sinking down on a chair, and putting hands before her face)_
My God! After all my waiting, you talk like that.
_(going to her)_ Ellen, Ellen, tell me what I can do for you?
There's land and houses to be had here. Father will let me have my
own way after this.
_(rising, with anger)_ What does it matter to me whether he
lets you have your own way or not? Do you think I could go into a
It's a bad hand I'd make of a farmer's house. I'm not the sort
to be in one. I'm not like Sally.
_(getting angry)_ Don't be talking that way, Ellen Douras.
_(with great vehemence)_ I must be talking like this. If you
take me, you will have to go from your father's house. I always knew
it. You ought to know it now, Matt Cosgar.
You didn't know it always. And you have let some one come
between us when you talk like that.
I'm not one to be listening to what people say about you. Nor
do I be talking in the markets about you.
I suppose not. You wouldn't have people think you gave any
thought to me; I'm not good enough for you. The people you know are
You are foolish to be talking like that. You are foolish, I say.
I know I am foolish. Fit only to be working in drains and
ditches in the winter. That's what you think.
Maybe it is.
Ellen Douras! Ellen Douras! A farmer's roof will be high enough
for you some day.
May I never see the day. Go back, go back. Make it up with
your father. Your father will be glad of a labourer.
Maybe you won't be glad if I go back; thinking on what you've
I said too much. We don't know each other at all. Go back. You
have made your choice.
_She goes up to room left._
Very well, then. God above, am I to be treated everywhere like
a heifer strayed into a patch of oats? Neither man nor woman will
make me put up with this any longer. _(Going to door)_ When Ellen
Douras wants me, she knows the place to send to. _(He stands at door.
There is no sound from room. Going back he speaks loudly)_ I'll be
waiting two days or three days to hear from Ellen Douras.
_There is no sound. Matt goes out. The room door is thrown open,
and Ellen comes down._
_(furiously)_ Two days or three days he'll wait for me. As if
I'd go into Murtagh Cosgar's house. As if I'd go into any farmer's
house. As if I'd get married at all, and the world before me. Two
days or three days you'll wait. Maybe it's lonesome, weary years
you'll be waiting, Matt Cosgar.
_Interior of Murtagh Cosgar's. It is towards sunset. Murtagh
Cosgar is standing before the door looking out. Martin Douras is
sitting at the fire in an armchair._
It's getting late, Murtagh Cosgar.
Ay, it's getting late.
It's time for me to be going home. I should be seeing
Ellen. _(He rises)_
Stay where you are. _(Turning round)_ We're two old
men, as you say. We should keep each other's company for a bit.
I should be going home to see Ellen.
If she's going, you can't stay her. Let you keep here.
She'll be wondering what happened to me.
Divil a bit it will trouble her. You're going to the
I have no heart to be going into a fair.
It's myself used to have the great heart. Driving in
on my own side-car, and looking down on the crowd of them. It's
twenty years since I took a sup of drink. Oh, we'll have drinking
to-morrow that will soften the oul' skin of you. You'll be singing
songs about the Trojans to charm every baste in the fair.
We're both old men, Murtagh Cosgar.
And is there any reason in your scholarship why oul'
men should be dry men? Answer me that!
I won't answer you at all, Murtagh Cosgar. There's no
use in talking to you.
Put it down on a piece of paper that oul' men should
have light hearts when their care is gone from them. They should be
There's nothing in the world like men with their
rearing gone from them, and they old.
_Sally comes to the door. She enters stealthily._
Ha, here's one of the clutch home. Well, did you see
that brother of yours?
I did. He'll be home soon, father.
What's that you say? Were you talking to him? Did he
say he'd be home?
I heard him say it, father.
God bless you for the news, Sally.
How could he go and he the last of them? Sure it
would be against nature. Where did you see him, Sally?
At Martin Douras's, father.
It's that Ellen Douras that's putting him up to all
this. Don't you be said by her, Sally.
You're a good girl, and if you haven't wit, you have
sense. He'll be home soon, did you say?
He was coming home. He went round the long way, I'm thinking.
Ellen Douras was vexed with him, father. She isn't going either,
Matt says, but I'm thinking that you might as well try to keep a
corncrake in the meadow for a whole winter, as to try to keep Ellen
Douras in Aughnalee.
Make the place tidy for him to come into. He'll have
no harsh words from me. _(He goes up to the room)_
Father's surely getting ould.
_(sitting down)_ He's gone up to rest himself, God
help him. Sally, _a stor_, I'm that fluttered, I dread going into my
I'll get ready now, and let you have a good supper before you
go to the fair.
Sit down near me, and let me hear everything, Sally.
Was it Matt that told you, or were you talking to Ellen herself?
O, indeed, I had a talk with Ellen, but she won't give much of
her mind away. It was Matt that was telling me. "Indeed she's not
going," said he, "and a smart young fellow like myself thinking of
her. Ellen is too full of notions." Here's Matt himself. Father
won't have a word to say to him. He's getting mild as he's getting
ould, and maybe it's a fortune he'll be leaving to myself.
_Matt comes to the door. He enters_.
Where is he? He's not gone to the fair so early?
He's in the room.
Were you talking to him at all? Were you telling him you saw
I was telling him that you were coming back.
How did he take it?
Very quiet. God help us all; I think father's losing his spirit.
_(going to Martin)_ Well, you see I've come back, Martin.
Ay, you're a good lad. I always said you were a good
How did father take it, Martin?
Quietly, quietly. You saw Ellen?
Ay, I saw Ellen _(gloomily)_. She shouldn't talk the way she
talks, Martin. What she said keeps coming into my mind, and I'm
troubled. God knows I've trouble enough on my head.
_(eagerly)_ What did she say, Matt Cosgar?
It wasn't what she said. She has that school in her mind, I know.
And is there anything to keep her here, Matt Cosgar?
I don't know that she thinks much of me now. We had a few words,
but there's nothing in the world I put above Ellen Douras.
I should be going to her.
Wait a bit, and I'll be going with you. Wait a bit. Let us talk
it over. She wouldn't go from you, and you old.
God forgive my age, if it would keep her here. Would I
have my Ellen drawing turf, or minding a cow, or feeding pigs?
I'm fond of her, Martin. She couldn't go, and I so fond of her.
What am I doing here? I should be making it up with her. What good
will anything be if Ellen Douras goes? _(He turns to the door, then
stops)_ I came to settle with him. I mustn't be running about like a
_The room door opens, and Murtagh Cosgar is seen. Sally has hung a
pot over the fire, and is cleaning the dishes at the dresser_.
_(at the room door)_ Sally, it's time to be putting
on the meal. If you have any cabbage left, put it through the meal.
_(To Matt)_ You put the thong in the harness?
I did _(pause)_ Well, I've come back to you.
You're welcome. We were making ready for the fair.
I'll be going out again before nightfall.
I'll not be wanting you here, or at the fair.
_(sullenly)_ There's no good talking to me like that.
You said, "I've come back," and I said, "you're
welcome." You said, "I'm going out again," and I said, "I'll not be
Father, have you no feeling for me at all?
Sure the wild raven on the tree has thought for her
Ay, but do you feel for me, and I standing here, trying to talk
You're my son, and so I feel sorry for you; and you
beginning to know your own foolishness. _(He turns to Sally)_ I'm
not taking the pigs. Put a fresh bedding under them to-night.
I will, father.
Be up early, and let the cows along the road, or
they'll be breaking into the young meadow.
I'll do that, too.
Be sure to keep enough fresh milk for the young calf.
I'll be sure to do it, father.
_She goes out. Martin takes out his paper, and begins to read it
_(turning on Murtag)_ Before I go out again there's something I
What is it you want?
Would you have me go, or would you have me stay?
Don't be talking of going or staying, and you the last
But I will be talking of it. You must treat me differently if
you want me to stay. You must treat me differently to the way you
You were always treated differently, Matt. In no
house that ever I remember was there a boy treated as well as you
are treated here.
The houses that you remember are different from the houses that
are now. Will you have me go, or will you have me stay?
You're very threatening. I'd have you stay. For the
sake of the name, I'd have you stay.
Let us take hands on it, then.
Wait, we'll see what you want first.
You have no feeling. I'd go out of this house, only I want to
give you a chance.
Stop. We can have kindness in this. We needn't be
beating each other down, like men at a fair.
We're not men at a fair. May God keep the kindness in our hearts.
Don't be going, Martin Douras.
Don't be going yet. I'll be with you, when you're going.
_Martin sits down_.
_(to Matt)_ You'll be getting married, I suppose, if
Maybe I will.
_(bitterly)_ In the houses that are now, the young
marry where they have a mind to. It's their own business, they say.
Maybe it is their own business. I'm going to marry Ellen Douras,
if she'll have me.
Ellen is a good girl, and clever, I'm told. But I
would not have you deal before you go into the fair.
I'm going to marry Ellen Douras.
Her father is here, and we can settle it now. What
fortune will you be giving Ellen, Martin? That 100 pounds that was
saved while you were in Maryborough gaol?
_Martin shakes his head_.
_(stubbornly)_ I'm going to marry Ellen Douras, with or without
_(passionately)_ Boy, your father built this house.
He got these lands together. He has a right to see that you and your
generations are in the way of keeping them together.
I'll marry Ellen Douras, with or without a fortune.
Marry her, then. Marry Ellen Douras.
Now, Martin, we mustn't let an hour pass without going to her.
_(He takes Martin's arm, and they go to the door)_
Marry Ellen Douras, I bid you. Break what I have built,
scatter what I have put together. That is what all the young will be
_Ellen Douras comes to the door as Matt and Martin reach it_.
_She shrinks back_.
It's my father I came to speak to.
_(going to the door, and drawing the bolt from the half-door)_
When you come to my house, Ellen Douras, you are welcome within.
_Ellen comes in_,
It's right that I should speak to you all. Matt Cosgar, I am
going from here.
Ellen, Ellen, don't be saying that. Don't be thinking of the
few words between us. It's all over now. Father agrees to us marrying.
Speak, father, and let her hear yourself say it.
I can't go into a farmer's house.
You said that out of passion. Don't keep your mind on it any
It's true, it's true. I can't go into a farmer's house. This
place is strange to me.
How can you talk like that? I'm always thinking of you.
I've stayed here long enough. I want my own way; I want to
know the world.
If you go, how will I be living, day after day? The heart will
be gone out of me.
You'll be owning the land, Matt Cosgar.
_(passionately)_ I've worked on the land all my days. Don't
talk to me about it now.
_Ellen goes to Martin. Murtagh goes up to the door, and then turns
Listen to me, Matt Cosgar; and you listen too, Ellen
Douras. It's a new house you want maybe. This house was built for me
and my generations; but I'll build a new house for you both. It's
hard for a man to part with his land before the hour of his death;
and it's hard for a man to break his lands; but I'll break them, and
give a share of land to you.
You were never friendly to me; but you have the high spirit,
and you deserve a better daughter than I would make. The land and
house you offer would be a drag on me. _(She goes to the door)_
Ellen, what he offers is nothing, after all; but I care for you.
Sure you won't go from me like that?
Oh, can't you let me go?
I care for you as much as I care for any one. But it's my freedom I
Then you're going surely?
I am. Good-bye.
_She goes out, Martin follows her. Matt stands dazed. Murtagh
closes the door, then goes and takes Matt's arm, and brings him down_.
Be a man. We offered her everything, and she went.
There's no knowing what the like of her wants. The men will be in
soon, and we'll drink to the new ownership.
Oh, what's the good in talking about that now? If Ellen was here,
we might be talking about it.
To-morrow you and me might go together. Ay, the bog
behind the meadow is well drained by this, and we might put the
plough over it. There will be a fine, deep soil in it, I'm thinking.
Don't look that way, Matt, my son.
When I meet Ellen Douras again, it's not a farmer's house I'll
be offering her, nor life in a country place.
No one could care for you as I care for you. I know
the blood between us, and I know the thoughts I had as I saw each of
you grow up.
_Matt moves to the door_.
Where are you going?
To see the boys that are going away.
Wait till the fall and I'll give you money to go and
come back. Farrell Kavanagh often goes to America. You could go with
I'll go by myself, unless Ellen Douras comes now. The creamery
owes me money for the carting, and I'll get it.
Then go. Good-bye to you, Matt Cosgar.
Good-bye to you.
_He goes out. Murtagh stands, then moves about vaguely_
The floor swept, the hearth tidied. It's a queer end
to it all. Twenty years I bid them offer. Twenty years, twenty years!
_Martin comes back_.
The men will be coming back.
I suppose they will.
You're a queer fellow, Martin Douras. You went to
gaol for some meeting.
Them was the stirring times. I can't help but think
of you in gaol, and by yourself. What brings you back now?
Ellen told me to go back. I should say something to
Matt, I think.
He went out as you came in.
I'll go in when the house is quiet. I'll have a few
prayers to be saying this night.
I'm going to the fair.
I won't be going to the fair.
Why won't you be going to the fair? Didn't you ask me
for a lift? You'll be going with me.
I won't be going, and don't be overbearing me now,
You will be going to the fair, if it was only to be
showing that, seemly face of yours. _(Going to the door, he calls)_
"Sally!" _(He turns to Martin Douras)_ I've a daughter still, Martin
You have, and I have a son.
What would you say to a match between them, Martin
I have nothing to say again it.
Then a match it will be.
_Sally comes in from yard_.
If you fed that baste on honey, she'd turn on you. Cabbage I
gave her and got into trouble for it, and now she's gone and
trampled the bad potatoes till they're hardly worth the boiling.
I'll put the bush in the gap when I'm going out again, father.
Ay. Is that Cornelius Douras that's coming up the path?
O faith it is. I'll get him to give me a hand with the trough.
_Cornelius comes in_.
Well, Murtagh Cosgar, a great and memorial day is ended.
May you live long to enjoy the fruits of it. Twenty years on the
first term, and the land is ours and our children's. I met the men.
Ours and our children's, ay. We've been making a
match between yourself and Sally.
Between me and Sally?
Between Cornelius and myself?
Ay, shake hands on it now.
And tell me one thing, Murtagh Cosgar. Is it true that
Matt's going to America, and that Ellen will wait for him for a year
at the school? I met them together, and they told me that.
What they say is true, I'm sure. The land is yours
and your children's.
_(wiping her hands in her apron)_ O Cornelius.
Aren't they foolish to be going away like that, father,
and we at the mouth of the good times? The men will be coming in soon,
and you might say a few words. _(Martin shakes his head)_ Indeed you
might, father; they'll expect it of you. _(Martin shakes his head.
Murtagh and Sally try to restrain him)_ "Men of Ballykillduff," you
might say, "stay on the land, and you'll be saved body and soul;
you'll be saved in the man and in the nation. The nation, men of
Ballykillduff, do you ever think of it at all? Do you ever think of
the Irish nation that is waiting all this time to be born?"
_He becomes more excited; he is seen to be struggling with words_.
END OF PLAY
THE LAND was first produced at the Abbey Theater, Dublin, in June,
1905, by The Irish National Theater Society, under the direction of
W.G. Fay, with the following cast:--
MURTAGH COSGAR W. G. Fay
MATT Proinsias MacSiubhlaigh
SALLY Sara Allgood
MARTIN DOURAS F.J. Fay
CORNELIUS Arthur Sinclair
ELLEN Maire Ni Gharbhaigh.
THOMAS MUSKERRY The Master of Garrisowen Workhouse
MRS. CRILLY His Daughter
CROFTON CRILLY His Son-in-law
ALBERT CRILLY His Grandson
ANNA CRILLY His Granddaughter
JAMES SCOLLARD Thomas Muskerry's Successor
FELIX TOURNOUR The Porter at Workhouse Lodge
MYLES GORMAN A Blind Piper
CHRISTY CLARKE A Boy reared in the Workhouse
MICKIE CRIPES | Paupers in Workhouse
AN OLD MAN |
SCENE: _Garrisowen, a town in the Irish Midlands_.
_The Master's office in Garrisowen Workhouse. It is partly an
office, partly a living room. To the right is a door opening on
corridor, and in the back, left, a door leading to the Master's
apartments. There is an iron stove down from back and towards right,
and a big grandfather's clock back towards door of apartments. A
basket arm chair down from stove, and a wooden chair beside it.
There is a desk against wall, left, and an office stool before it.
Down from this desk a table on which is a closed desk. On table are
books, papers, and files. On a wooden chair beside the arm chair is
a heap of newspapers and periodicals. There is a rack beside
corridor door, and on rack a shawl, an old coat, a hat, and a bunch
of big keys. In the corner, right, is a little cabinet, and on it a
small mirror. Above door of apartments a picture of Daniel O'Connell.
The grandfather's clock is ticking audibly. It is 8.45 p.m. The gas
over desk is lighted_.
_Christy Clarke, a youth of about seventeen, is seated in the
armchair reading a periodical. His clothes are threadbare, but
brushed and clean. He looks studious, and has intellectual
possibilities. The clock ticks on, the boy reads, but with little
attention. At the corridor door there is a knocking. Christy Clarke
turns slightly. The door opens, and a tall man in the ugly dress of
a pauper is seen. The man is Felix Tournour. He carries in a bucket
of coal. He performs this action like one who has acquired the habit
of work under an overseer. He is an ugly figure in his pauper dress.
His scanty beard is coal black. He has a wide mouth and discoloured
teeth. His forehead is narrow and bony. He is about forty-five._
_(in a harsh voice, after looking around)_ Is he not back
_(without stirring)_ Is who not back yet?
The master I'm talking about. I don't know where he does be
going those evenings.
_He shovels coal into the stove_.
And what is it to you where he does be going?
Don't talk to me like that, young fellow. You're poorhouse
rearing, even though you are a pet. Will he be sitting up here
to-night, do you know?
What's that to you whether he will or not?
If he's sitting up late he'll want more coal to his fire.
Well, the abstracts will have to be finished to-night.
Then he will be staying up. He goes out for a walk in the
evenings now, and I don't know where he does be going.
He goes out for a walk in the country. _(Tournour makes a
leer of contempt)_ Do you never go for a walk in the country, Felix
They used to take me out for walks when I was a little
fellow, but they never got me out into the country since.
I suppose, now that you're in the porter's lodge, you watch
every one that goes up and down the road?
It gratifies me to do so--would you believe that now?
You know a lot, Felix Tournour.
We're told to advance in knowledge, young fellow. How long
is Tom Muskerry the Master of Garrisowen Workhouse?
Thirty years this spring.
He's here thirty years according to the books.
Twenty-nine years. I was born in the workhouse, and I mind
when the Master came in to it. Whist now, here he is, and time for
_He falls into an officious manner. He closes up the stove and puts
bucket away. Then he goes over to desk, and, with his foot on the
rung of the office stool, he turns the gas on full. Christy Clarke
gets out of armchair, and begins to arrange the periodicals that are
on wooden chair. The corridor door opens. The man who appears is not
the Master, however. He is the blind piper, Myles Gorman, who is
dressed in the pauper garb. Myles Gorman is a Gael of the West of
Ireland, with a face full of intellectual vigour. He is about sixty,
and carries himself with energy. His face is pale and he has a
fringe of a white beard. The eye-balls in his head are contracted,
but it is evident he has some vestiges of sight. Before the others
are aware who he is, he has advanced into the room. He stands there
now turning the attentive face of the blind_.
Mister Muskerry! Are you there, Mister Muskerry?
What do you want, my oul' fellow?
_(with a puzzled look)_ Well, now, I've a favour to ask of
Be off out of this to your ward.
Is that Mister Muskerry?
Mister Muskerry isn't here.
And who am I talking to?
You are talking to Felix Tournour.
Felix Tournour! Ay, ay. Good night, Felix Tournour. When will
the Master be back?
_(coming to him)_ Not till you're out of this, and back in
Wasn't there a boy speaking to me?
Yes _(speaking as if to a deaf man)_ The Master will be
going the rounds in a while, and you can speak to him in the ward.
GORMAN I've a favour to ask the Master, and I don't want to ask it
before the others. _(To Christy)_ Will the Master be here soon, a
vick vig? 
_(taking him by the shoulders)_ Here, now, come on, this is
your way out.
_He turns Gorman to the door. As he is putting him out Thomas
This oul' fellow came into the office, and I was leading
him back into his ward.
Leave the man alone.
_Tournour retreats to the stove and takes up the bucket; after a
look behind he goes out and closes the corridor door. Christy Clarke
takes the periodicals over to table and sits down. Myles Gorman has
been eager and attentive. Thomas Muskerry stands with his back to the
stove. He is over sixty. He is a large man, fleshy in face and figure,
sanguine and benevolent in disposition. He has the looks and
movements of one in authority. His hair is white and long; his
silver beard is trimmed. His clothes are loosely fitting. He wears
no overcoat, but has a white knitted muffler round his neck. He has
on a black, broad-brimmed hat, and carries a walking-stick._
[Footnote 6: _A mhic bhig,_ my little son.]
Well, my good man?
I'm here to ask a favour from you, Master.
You should proffer your request when I'm in the ward.
However, I'm ready to give you my attention.
I'm a blinded man, Master, and when you're in the ward I
can't get you by yourself conveniently. I can't come up to you like
the other oul' men and speak to you private like.
Well, now, what can I do for you?
_(eagerly)_ They tell me that to-morrow's the market-day, and
I thought that you might give me a pass, and let me go out about the
We'll consider it, Gorman.
Master, let me out in the town on the market-day.
We couldn't let you out to play your pipes through the town.
I'm not thinking of the music at all, Master, but to be out
in the day and to feel the throng moving about, and to be talking to
the men that do be on the roads.
We'll consider it, Gorman. _(He takes off muffler, and puts
it on back of armchair)_
Well, I'm very much obliged to your honour. Good night to you,
Master. _(He passes Muskerry and goes towards the door. Muskerry has
been regarding him)_
Tell me this, Gorman, were you always on the roads?
I was driving cattle, and I was dealing in horses. Then I
took up with an oul' man, and he taught me the pipes. I'm playing
the pipes ever since, and that's thirty years ago. Well, the eyes
began to wither up on me, and now I've only a stim of sight. I'm a
blinded man from this out, Master.
And what will you do?
Oh, sure the roads of Ireland are before me when I leave this;
I'll be playing my bit of music. _(He moves to the door)_
Tell me; have you any family yourself?
Ne'er a chick nor child belonging to me. Ne'er a woman lay by
me. I went the road by myself. Will you think of what I asked you,
I'll consider it.
Good night to your honour. Remember my name, Master--Gorman,
_Muskerry stands looking after Gorman_.
Now, Christy Clarke, I consider that the man gone out is a
very exceptional man.
Is it Myles Gorman?
Yes. I'd even say that, considering his station in life,
Myles Gorman is a very superior man.
They say he's not a good musician.
And maybe he's not. I consider, however, that there's great
intelligence in his face. He stands before you, and you feel that he
has the life of a young colt, and then you're bound to think that,
in spite of the fact that he's blind and a wanderer, the man has not
wasted his life. _(Muskerry settles himself in the armchair)_
Will you give leave for to-morrow?
No, Christy, I will not.
Why not, Mister Muskerry?
That man would break bounds and stay away.
Do you think he would?
He'd fly off, like the woodquest flying away from the tame
He and his brother had a farm between them. His brother was
married, and one day the brother told Myles to go to Dublin to see a
comrade of his who was sick. Myles was home in a week, and when he
came back he found that his brother had sold the place and was gone
out of the country.
His brother did wrong, but he didn't do so much wrong to
How is that, Mister Muskerry?
He sent Myles Gorman to his own life. He's a man who went
his own way always; a man who never had any family nor any affairs;
a man far different from me, Christy Clarke. I was always in the
middle of affairs. Then, too, I busied myself about other people. It
was for the best, I think; but that's finished. On the desk under
your hand is a letter, and I want you to bring it to me.
_(going through papers idly)_ "I am much obliged for your
That's not it.
_(reading another letter)_ "I am about to add to the
obligations under which I stand to you, by recommending to your
notice my grandson, Albert Crilly--"
That's the letter. It's the last of its kind. Bring it to me.
_(Christy Clarke brings over the letter)_ There comes a turn in the
blood and a turn in the mind, Christy. This while back I've been
going out to the country instead of into the town, and coming back
here in the evenings I've seen the workhouse with the big wall
around it, and the big gate going into it, and I've said to myself
that Thomas Muskerry ought to be as secure and contented here as if
he was in his own castle.
And so you ought, Mister Muskerry.
Look round at the office, Christy. I've made it as fit for
me as the nest for the wren. I'll spend a few more years here, and
then I'll go out on pension. I won't live in the town, I've seen a
place in the country I'd like, and the people will be leaving it in
a year or two.
Where is it, Mister Muskerry?
I'll say no more about it now, but it's not far from this,
and its near the place, where I was reared.
And so you'll go back to your own place?
As Oliver Goldsmith my fellow county man, and I might
almost say, my fellow parishioner, says--What's this the lines are
about the hare, Christy?
"And like the Hare whom Hounds and Horns pursue Pants to the
place from whence at first he flew."
Aye. "And like the Hare whom Hounds and Horns pursue"--
_(The clock strikes nine)_
You weren't on the rounds yet?
_(startled)_ Would you believe it, now, it was nearly
passing my mind to go on the rounds? _(He rises, putting the letter
in his pocket)_ Where's that fellow, Albert Crilly? He was to have
been in here to give me a hand with the abstracts. Christy Clarke,
go down to Miss Coghlan's and get me two novelettes. Bring me up two
nice love stories, and be here when I come back.
_Christy Clarke takes his cap off rack and goes out. Thomas
Muskerry puts on his scarf, goes to the rack and takes down the
bunch of keys. As he is going out Felix Tournour enters with a
bucket of coal. He carries it over to the stove_.
Now, Tournour, sweep up this place.
_Thomas Muskerry goes out by corridor door. Felix Tournour takes
brush from under desk, left, and begins to sweep in the direction of
Sweeping, sweeping! I'll run out of the house some day on
account of the work I've to do for Master Thomas Muskerry. _(He
leans on his brush in front of stove)_ I know why you're going for
walks in the country, my oul' cod. There's them in town that you've
got enough of. You don't want to go bail for Madam Daughter, nor for
Count Crofton Crilly, your son-in-law, nor for the Masters and
Mistresses; all right, my oul' cod-fish. That I may see them laying
you out on the flags of Hell. _(He puts the brush standing upright,
and speaks to it)_:
"The Devil went out for a ramble at night,
Through Garrisowen Union to see every sight.
The ould men were dreaming of meat to come near them,
And the Devil cocked ears at the words for to hear them.
'Twice a year we get meat,' said the toothless oul' men,
'Oh, Lord send the meat won't be too tough again.'
To clear away dishes Mick Fogarty goes,
May the Devil burn the nails off his toes.
Deep dreaming that night of fast days before,
Sagging the walls with the pull of his snore,
In his chamber above Thomas Muskerry lay snug,
When the Devil this summons roared in his lug--"
_The door of the Master's apartments is opened and Albert Crilly
enters. Albert Crilly is a young man, who might be a bank clerk or a
medical student. He is something of a dude, but has a certain
insight and wit_.
_(lighting a cigarette)_ Is the grandparent here, Tournour?
He's gone on the rounds, Mister Albert.
What time was he up this morning?
He was late enough. He wasn't up in time to come to Mass
The old man will get into trouble.
If the nuns hear about it.
He'll have to give the whole thing up soon.
He's well off that can get somebody else to do the work for
him. _(He continues to sweep towards corridor)_
Tournour, you're a damned clever fellow. I heard a piece of
yours yesterday that I thought was damned good.
Was it a rhyme?
It was something called "The Devil's Rambles."
_(taking a step towards him)_ Don't let the boss hear, and
I'll tell it to you, Mr. Albert. _(He holds the brush in his hands
and is about to begin the recitation when Crofton Crilly enters from
the Master's apartments. Crofton Crilly has a presentable appearance.
He is big and well made, has a fair beard and blue eyes. A pipe is
always in his mouth. He is a loiterer, a talker, a listener)_
Are you going to finish the abstracts to-night, Albert?
I believe I am. Go on with "The Devil's Rambles," Tournour.
I heard it in Keegan's. It's damn good.
I don't like saying it before Mister Crilly.
_(with easy contempt)_ Go on with it, man; I'll leave a pint
in Keegan's for you.
Well, you mightn't like it.
Have done talking and go on with it.
"In his chamber above--a--a _person_ lay snug,
When the Devil this summons roared in his lug--
'Get up,' said the Devil, 'and swear you'll be true,
And the oath of allegiance I'll tender anew.
You'll have pork, veal, and lamb, mutton-chops, fowl and fish,
Cabbage and carrots and leeks as you wish.
No fast days to you will make visitation,
For your sake the town will have dispensation.
Long days you will have, without envy or strife,
And when you depart you'll find the same life,
And in the next world you'll have your will and your sway,
With a Poorhouse to govern all your own way,
And I'll promise you this; to keep up your state,
You'll have Felix Tournour to watch at the gate.'"
That's damn good. I must get a copy of the whole of it to
show at Keegan's.
_Tournour has swept as far as the corridor door. He opens it and
sweeps down the passage. He goes out and closes door_.
That's a damn clever fellow. _(He becomes anxious, as with a
troubled recollection. He goes to the little cabinet, opens it, and
takes out a bottle of whisky and a glass. He pours some whisky into
the glass, and remains looking at himself in the mirror. He smooths
his beard. He goes to the arm chair with the glass of whisky, the
anxious expression still on his face)_ This is a cursed town.
Every town in Ireland is a cursed town.
But this is an extraordinarily cursed town. Everybody's in
debt to everybody else. I don't know what's to be done. Now, imagine
that fellow, James Covey, failing in business and getting clear out
of the town.
Covey seems to have done it well.
God knows how many he has stuck.
Well, he didn't stick the Crillys for anything.
Albert, you don't know how these financial things work out.
Do you think would his brother settle?
Settle with whom?
Well ... with any of the ... any of the people that have ...
I don't know. It's a cursed town. If I had joined the police at your
age, I'd have a pension by this, and I mightn't care for any of them.
I wish I had a job and I'd wait on the pension.
Oh, you'll be all right. The grandfather is seeing about your
If the grandparent gets me that job I'll want two new suits
'Pon my soul, Albert, I don't know what's to be done. (
_His mind wanders off)_ I suppose the abstracts have to go out in
They have. And damn all the old man has done to them.
The Guardians hear that he's late in the mornings, Albert,
and some of them are beginning to question his fitness to check the
The old man ought to resign.
I suppose he ought. I'm not wishing for his resignation myself,
Albert. You know your mother regards it as a settled thing that he
should come and live with us.
The mother and Anna are preparing for the event.
How's that, Albert?
Mother has James Scollard in her eye for the new Master.
Right enough! Scollard would get it, too, and then he would
That's the arrangement, I expect.
It mightn't be bad. Scollard mightn't want Nancy's money
under that arrangement. Still I don't like the idea of the old man
living in the house.
The mother would never think of letting him take himself and
his pension anywhere else.
I don't think she would.
I wouldn't be surprised if he did go somewhere else. I hear
he often goes up to that cottage in Stradrina.
What cottage, Albert?
Briar Cottage. I hear he sits down there, and talks of coming
to live in the place.
_(warningly)_ Albert, don't clap hands behind the bird. Take
my word, and say nothing about it.
We'd have no comfort in the house if your mother's mind was
_Mrs. Crilly enters from corridor. She is a woman of forty, dressed
in a tailor-made costume. She has searching eyes. There is something
of hysteria about her mouth. She has been good-looking._
Good night, Marianne.
MRS. CRILLY Are you finishing the abstracts, Albert?
I'm working at them. It's a good job we didn't leave the old
man much latitude for making mistakes.
_(closing door)_ He'll have to resign.
Good God, Marianne. _(He rises)_
Well. Let him be sent away without a pension. Of course,
he can live with us the rest of his life and give us nothing for
I don't know what's in your mind at all, Marianne. _(He
crosses over to the cabinet, opens it, and fills out another glass
Let the old man do what suits himself.
_(coming back to stove)_ Do, Marianne. Let him do what
suits himself. For the present.
For pity's sake put down that glass and listen to what I
have to say.
What's the matter, Marianne?
James Scollard came to me to-day, and he told me about
the things that are noticed.... The nuns notice them, the Guardians
notice them. He misses Mass. He is late on his rounds. He can't
check the stores that are coming into the house. He may get himself
into such trouble that he'll be dismissed with only an apology for a
pension, or with no pension at all.
I don't know what's to be done.
If he could be got to resign now James Scollard would
have a good chance of becoming Workhouse Master. He would marry Anna,
and we would still have some hand in the affairs of the House.
Yes, yes. I think that Scollard could make a place for himself.
The old man won't be anxious to retire.
Why shouldn't he retire when his time is up?
Well, here he is what's called a potentate. He won't care to
come down and live over Crilly's shop.
And where else would he live in the name of God?
He won't want to live with our crowd.
What crowd? The boys can be sent to school, you'll be on
your situation, and Anna will be away. _(She seats herself in the
armchair)_ I don't know what Albert means when he says that the
Master would not be content to live with us. It was always settled
that he would come to us when his service was over.
_Albert, who has been going over the books, has met something that
surprises him. He draws Crilly to the desk. The two go over the
papers, puzzled and excited. Anna Crilly enters from corridor. She
is a handsome girl of about nineteen or twenty, with a rich
complexion dark hair and eyes. She is well dressed, and wears a cap
of dark fur. She stands at the stove, behind her mother, holding her
hands over the stove. Mrs. Crilly watches the pair at the desk_.
We can't think of allowing a pension of fifty pounds a
year to go out of our house. Where will we get money to send the
boys to school?
Mother. Grandfather is going to live away from us.
Why do you repeat what Albert says?
I didn't hear Albert say anything.
Then, what are you talking about?
Grandfather goes to Martin's cottage nearly every evening, and
stays there for hours. They'll be leaving the place in a year or two,
and Grandfather was saying that he would take the cottage when he
retired from the Workhouse.
When did you hear this?
This evening. Delia Martin told me.
And that's the reason why he has kept away from us. He
goes to strangers, and leaves us in black ignorance of his thought.
_Crilly and Albert are busy at desk_.
Well, damn it all--
Here's the voucher.
God! I don't know what's to be done.
It's a matter of fifty tons.
_Albert turns round deliberately, leaving his father going through
the papers in desperate eagerness. Albert takes a cigarette from
behind his ear, takes a match-box from his waistcoat pocket, and
strikes a light. He goes towards door of apartments. Mrs. Crilly
_(his hand on the handle of door)_ Well so-long.
Where are you going?
I'm leaving you to talk it over with the old man.
_Mrs. Crilly looks from Albert to Crilly_.
The Master has let himself in for something serious, Marianne.
It's a matter of fifty pounds. The old man has let the
Guardians pay for a hundred tons of coal when only fifty were
Is that so, Crofton?
It looks like it, Marianne.
There were fifty tons of coal already in stores, but the
Governor didn't take them into account. That cute boy, James Covey,
delivered fifty tons and charged for the hundred. The old man passed
on the certificate, and the Guardians paid Covey. They helped him to
his passage to America. _(He opens door and goes through)_
They will dismiss him--dismiss him without a pension.
Mother. If he gets the pension first, could they take it back
No. But they could make him pay back the fifty pounds in
Fifty pounds! We can't afford to lose fifty pounds.
Who would find out about the coal, father?
The Guardians who take stock.
And how would they know at this time whether there was a
hundred or a hundred and fifty tons there at first?
The business men amongst them would know. However, there
won't be an inspection for some time.
Suppose grandfather had got his pension and had left the
Workhouse, who would know about the coal?
The new Workhouse Master.
The new Workhouse Master--
I think I'll stay here and advise the old man.
No. Go away.
_(at door of apartments)_ After all, I'm one of the Guardians,
and something might be done.
You can do nothing. We can do nothing for him. Let him
go to the strangers.
_Crilly goes out_.
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