PETER. That is true, indeed. [He pats her arm.]
BRIDGET. Leave me alone now till I ready the house for the woman that is to come into it.
PETER. You are the best woman in Ireland, but money is good, too. [He begins handling the money again and sits down.] I never thought to see so much money within my four walls. We can do great things now we have it. We can take the ten acres of land we have a chance of since Jamsie Dempsey died, and stock it. We will go to the fair of Ballina to buy the stock. Did Delia ask any of the money for her own use, Michael?
MICHAEL. She did not, indeed. She did not seem to take much notice of it, or to look at it at all.
BRIDGET. That's no wonder. Why would she look at it when she had yourself to look at, a fine, strong young man? It is proud she must be to get you, a good steady boy that will make use of the money, and not be running through it or spending it on drink like another.
PETER. It's likely Michael himself was not thinking much of the fortune either, but of what sort the girl was to look at.
MICHAEL [coming over towards the table]. Well, you would like a nice comely girl to be beside you, and to go walking with you. The fortune only lasts for a while, but the woman will be there always.
PATRICK [turning round from the window]. They are cheering again down in the town. Maybe they are landing horses from Enniscrone. They do be cheering when the horses take the water well.
MICHAEL. There are no horses in it. Where would they be going and no fair at hand? Go down to the town, Patrick, and see what is going on.
PATRICK [opens the door to go out, but stops for a moment on the threshold]. Will Delia remember, do you think, to bring the greyhound pup she promised me when she would be coming to the house?
MICHAEL. She will surely.
[PATRICK goes out, leaving the door open.]
PETER. It will be Patrick's turn next to be looking for a fortune, but he won't find it so easy to get it and he with no place of his own.
BRIDGET. I do be thinking sometimes, now things are going so well with us, and the Cahels such a good back to us in the district, and Delia's own uncle a priest, we might be put in the way of making Patrick a priest some day, and he so good at his books.
PETER. Time enough, time enough; you have always your head full of plans, Bridget.
BRIDGET. We will be well able to give him learning, and not to send him trampling the country like a poor scholar that lives on charity.
MICHAEL. They're not done cheering yet.
[He goes over to the door and stands there for a moment, putting up his hand to shade his eyes.]
BRIDGET. Do you see anything?
MICHAEL. I see an old woman coming up the path.
BRIDGET. Who is it, I wonder. It must be the strange woman Patrick saw awhile ago.
MICHAEL. I don't think it's one of the neighbours anyway, but she has her cloak over her face.
BRIDGET. It might be some poor woman heard we were making ready for the wedding and came to look for her share.
PETER. I may as well put the money out of sight. There is no use leaving it out for every stranger to look at.
[He goes over to a large box in the corner, opens it, and puts the bag in and fumbles at the lock.]
MICHAEL. There she is, father! [An Old Woman passes the window slowly; she looks at MICHAEL as she passes.] I'd sooner a stranger not to come to the house the night before my wedding.
BRIDGET. Open the door, Michael; don't keep the poor woman waiting.
[The OLD WOMAN comes in. MICHAEL stands aside to make way for her.]
OLD WOMAN. God save all here!
PETER. God save you kindly!
OLD WOMAN. You have good shelter here.
PETER. You are welcome to whatever shelter we have.
BRIDGET. Sit down there by the fire and welcome.
OLD WOMAN [warming her hands]. There is a hard wind outside.
[MICHAEL watches her curiously from the door. PETER comes over to the table.]
PETER. Have you travelled far to-day?
OLD WOMAN. I have travelled far, very far; there are few have travelled so far as myself, and there's many a one that doesn't make me welcome. There was one that had strong sons I thought were friends of mine, but they were shearing their sheep, and they wouldn't listen to me.
PETER. It's a pity indeed for any person to have no place of their own.
OLD WOMAN. That's true for you indeed, and it's long I'm on the roads since I first went wandering.
BRIDGET. It is a wonder you are not worn out with so much wandering.
OLD WOMAN. Sometimes my feet are tired and my hands are quiet, but there is no quiet in my heart. When the people see me quiet, they think old age has come on me and that all the stir has gone out of me. But when the trouble is on me I must be talking to my friends.
BRIDGET. What was it put you wandering?
OLD WOMAN. Too many strangers in the house.
BRIDGET. Indeed you look as if you'd had your share of trouble.
OLD WOMAN. I have had trouble indeed.
BRIDGET. What was it put the trouble on you?
OLD WOMAN. My land that was taken from me.
PETER. Was it much land they took from you?
OLD WOMAN. My four beautiful green fields.
PETER [aside to BRIDGET]. Do you think could she be the widow Casey that was put out of her holding at Kilglass awhile ago?
BRIDGET. She is not. I saw the widow Casey one time at the market in Ballina, a stout fresh woman.
PETER [to OLD WOMAN]. Did you hear a noise of cheering, and you coming up the hill?
OLD WOMAN. I thought I heard the noise I used to hear when my friends came to visit me. [She begins singing half to herself.]
I will go cry with the woman, For yellow-haired Donough is dead, With a hempen rope for a neckcloth, And a white cloth on his head,—
MICHAEL [coming from the door]. What is that you are singing, ma'am?
OLD WOMAN. Singing I am about a man I knew one time, yellow-haired Donough, that was hanged in Galway. [She goes on singing, much louder.]
I am come to cry with you, woman, My hair is unwound and unbound; I remember him ploughing his field, Turning up the red side of the ground,
And building his barn on the hill With the good mortared stone; O! we'd have pulled down the gallows Had it happened in Enniscrone!
MICHAEL. What was it brought him to his death?
OLD WOMAN. He died for love of me: many a man has died for love of me.
PETER [aside to BRIDGET]. Her trouble has put her wits astray.
MICHAEL. Is it long since that song was made? Is it long since he got his death?
OLD WOMAN. Not long, not long. But there were others that died for love of me a long time ago.
MICHAEL. Were they neighbours of your own, ma'am?
OLD WOMAN. Come here beside me and I'll tell you about them. [MICHAEL sits down beside her at the hearth.] There was a red man of the O'Donnells from the north, and a man of the O'Sullivans from the south, and there was one Brian that lost his life at Clontarf by the sea, and there were a great many in the west, some that died hundreds of years ago, and there are some that will die to-morrow.
MICHAEL. Is it in the west that men will die to-morrow?
OLD WOMAN. Come nearer, nearer to me.
BRIDGET. Is she right, do you think? Or is she a woman from beyond the world?
PETER. She doesn't know well what she's talking about, with the want and the trouble she has gone through.
BRIDGET. The poor thing, we should treat her well.
PETER. Give her a drink of milk and a bit of the oaten cake.
BRIDGET. Maybe we should give her something along with that, to bring her on her way. A few pence, or a shilling itself, and we with so much money in the house.
PETER. Indeed I'd not begrudge it to her if we had it to spare, but if we go running through what we have, we'll soon have to break the hundred pounds, and that would be a pity.
BRIDGET. Shame on you, Peter. Give her the shilling, and your blessing with it, or our own luck will go from us.
[PETER goes to the box and takes out a shilling.]
BRIDGET [to the OLD WOMAN]. Will you have a drink of milk?
OLD WOMAN. It is not food or drink that I want.
PETER [offering the shilling]. Here is something for you.
OLD WOMAN. That is not what I want. It is not silver I want.
PETER. What is it you would be asking for?
OLD WOMAN. If anyone would give me help he must give me himself, he must give me all.
[PETER goes over to the table, staring at the shilling in his hand in a bewildered way, and stands whispering to BRIDGET.]
MICHAEL. Have you no one to care you in your age, ma'am?
OLD WOMAN. I have not. With all the lovers that brought me their love, I never set out the bed for any.
MICHAEL. Are you lonely going the roads, ma'am?
OLD WOMAN. I have my thoughts and I have my hopes.
MICHAEL. What hopes have you to hold to?
OLD WOMAN. The hope of getting my beautiful fields back again; the hope of putting the strangers out of my house.
MICHAEL. What way will you do that, ma'am?
OLD WOMAN. I have good friends that will help me. They are gathering to help me now. I am not afraid. If they are put down to-day, they will get the upper hand to-morrow. [She gets up.] I must be going to meet my friends. They are coming to help me, and I must be there to welcome them. I must call the neighbours together to welcome them.
MICHAEL. I will go with you.
BRIDGET. It is not her friends you have to go and welcome, Michael; it is the girl coming into the house you have to welcome. You have plenty to do, it is food and drink you have to bring to the house. The woman that is coming home is not coming with empty hands; you would not have an empty house before her. [To the OLD WOMAN.] Maybe you don't know, ma'am, that my son is going to be married to-morrow.
OLD WOMAN. It is not a man going to his marriage that I look to for help.
PETER [to BRIDGET]. Who is she, do you think, at all?
BRIDGET. You did not tell us your name yet, ma'am.
OLD WOMAN. Some call me the Poor Old Woman, and there are some that call me Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.
PETER. I think I knew someone of that name once. Who was it, I wonder? It must have been someone I knew when I was a boy. No, no, I remember, I heard it in a song.
OLD WOMAN [who is standing in the doorway]. They are wondering that there were songs made for me; there have been many songs made for me. I heard one on the wind this morning. [She sings.]
Do not make a great keening When the graves have been dug to-morrow. Do not call the white-scarfed riders To the burying that shall be to-morrow.
Do not spread food to call strangers To the wakes that shall be to-morrow; Do not give money for prayers For the dead that shall die to-morrow ...
they will have no need of prayers, they will have no need of prayers.
MICHAEL. I do not know what that song means, but tell me something I can do for you.
PETER. Come over to me, Michael.
MICHAEL. Hush, father, listen to her.
OLD WOMAN. It is a hard service they take that help me. Many that are red-cheeked now will be pale-cheeked; many that have been free to walk the hills and the bogs and the rushes will be sent to walk hard streets in far countries; many a good plan will be broken; many that have gathered money will not stay to spend it; many a child will be born, and there will be no father at its christening to give it a name. They that had red cheeks will have pale cheeks for my sake; and for all that, they will think they are well paid.
[She goes out; her voice is heard outside singing.]
They shall be remembered for ever, They shall be alive for ever, They shall be speaking for ever, The people shall hear them for ever.
BRIDGET [to PETER]. Look at him, Peter; he has the look of a man that has got the touch. [Raising her voice.] Look here, Michael, at the wedding-clothes. Such grand clothes as these are. You have a right to fit them on now; it would be a pity to-morrow if they did not fit. The boys would be laughing at you. Take them, Michael, and go into the room and fit them on. [She puts them on his arm.]
MICHAEL. What wedding are you talking of? What clothes will I be wearing to-morrow?
BRIDGET. These are the clothes you are going to wear when you marry Delia Cahel to-morrow.
MICHAEL. I had forgotten that.
[He looks at the clothes and turns towards the inner room, but stops at the sound of cheering outside.]
PETER. There is the shouting come to our own door. What is it has happened?
[PATRICK and DELIA come in.]
PATRICK. There are ships in the Bay; the French are landing at Killala!
[PETER takes his pipe from his mouth and his hat off, and stands up. The clothes slip from MICHAEL's arm.]
DELIA. Michael! [He takes no notice.] Michael! [He turns towards her.] Why do you look at me like a stranger?
[She drops his arm. BRIDGET goes over towards her.]
PATRICK. The boys are all hurrying down the hillsides to join the French.
DELIA. Michael won't be going to join the French.
BRIDGET [to PETER]. Tell him not to go, Peter.
PETER. It's no use. He doesn't hear a word we're saying.
BRIDGET. Try and coax him over to the fire.
DELIA. Michael! Michael! You won't leave me! You won't join the French, and we going to be married!
[She puts her arms about him; he turns towards her as if about to yield. OLD WOMAN's voice outside.]
They shall be speaking for ever, The people shall hear them for ever.
[MICHAEL breaks away from DELIA and goes out.]
PETER [to PATRICK, laying a hand on his arm]. Did you see an old woman going down the path?
PATRICK. I did not, but I saw a young girl, and she had the walk of a queen.
A WISE MAN.
THE WISE MAN'S WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN.
SCENE: A large room with a door at the back and another at the side or else a curtained place where the persons can enter by parting the curtains. A desk and a chair at one side. An hour-glass on a stand near the door. A creepy stool near it. Some benches. A WISE MAN sitting at his desk.
WISE M. [turning over the pages of a book]. Where is that passage I am to explain to my pupils to-day? Here it is, and the book says that it was written by a beggar on the walls of Babylon: "There are two living countries, the one visible and the one invisible; and when it is winter with us it is summer in that country, and when the November winds are up among us it is lambing time there." I wish that my pupils had asked me to explain any other passage. [The FOOL comes in and stands at the door holding out his hat. He has a pair of shears in the other hand.] It sounds to me like foolishness; and yet that cannot be, for the writer of this book, where I have found so much knowledge, would not have set it by itself on this page, and surrounded it with so many images and so many deep colours and so much fine gilding, if it had been foolishness.
FOOL. Give me a penny.
WISE M. [turns to another page]. Here he has written: "The learned in old times forgot the visible country." That I understand, but I have taught my learners better.
FOOL. Won't you give me a penny?
WISE M. What do you want? The words of the wise Saracen will not teach you much.
FOOL. Such a great wise teacher as you are will not refuse a penny to a Fool.
WISE M. What do you know about wisdom?
FOOL. Oh, I know! I know what I have seen.
WISE M. What is it you have seen?
FOOL. When I went by Kilcluan where the bells used to be ringing at the break of every day, I could hear nothing but the people snoring in their houses. When I went by Tubbervanach where the young men used to be climbing the hill to the blessed well, they were sitting at the crossroads playing cards. When I went by Carrigoras, where the friars used to be fasting and serving the poor, I saw them drinking wine and obeying their wives. And when I asked what misfortune had brought all these changes, they said it was no misfortune, but it was the wisdom they had learned from your teaching.
WISE M. Run round to the kitchen, and my wife will give you something to eat.
FOOL. That is foolish advice for a wise man to give.
WISE M. Why, Fool?
FOOL. What is eaten is gone. I want pennies for my bag. I must buy bacon in the shops, and nuts in the market, and strong drink for the time when the sun is weak. And I want snares to catch the rabbits and the squirrels and the hares, and a pot to cook them in.
WISE M. Go away. I have other things to think of now than giving you pennies.
FOOL. Give me a penny and I will bring you luck. Bresal the Fisherman lets me sleep among the nets in his loft in the winter-time because he says I bring him luck; and in the summer-time the wild creatures let me sleep near their nests and their holes. It is lucky even to look at me or to touch me, but it is much more lucky to give me a penny. [Holds out his hand.] If I wasn't lucky, I'd starve.
WISE M. What have you got the shears for?
FOOL. I won't tell you. If I told you, you would drive them away.
WISE M. Whom would I drive away?
FOOL. I won't tell you.
WISE M. Not if I give you a penny?
WISE M. Not if I give you two pennies?
FOOL. You will be very lucky if you give me two pennies, but I won't tell you!
WISE M. Three pennies?
FOOL. Four, and I will tell you!
WISE M. Very well, four. But I will not call you Teigue the Fool any longer.
FOOL. Let me come close to you where nobody will hear me. But first you must promise you will not drive them away. [WISE M. nods.] Every day men go out dressed in black and spread great black nets over the hills, great black nets.
WISE M. Why do they do that?
FOOL. That they may catch the feet of the angels. But every morning, just before the dawn, I go out and cut the nets with my shears, and the angels fly away.
WISE M. Ah, now I know that you are Teigue the Fool. You have told me that I am wise, and I have never seen an angel.
FOOL. I have seen plenty of angels.
WISE M. Do you bring luck to the angels too?
FOOL. Oh, no, no! No one could do that. But they are always there if one looks about one; they are like the blades of grass.
WISE M. When do you see them?
FOOL. When one gets quiet, then something wakes up inside one, something happy and quiet like the stars—not like the seven that move, but like the fixed stars. [He points upward.]
WISE M. And what happens then?
FOOL. Then all in a minute one smells summer flowers, and tall people go by, happy and laughing, and their clothes are the colour of burning sods.
WISE M. Is it long since you have seen them, Teigue the Fool?
FOOL. Not long, glory be to God! I saw one coming behind me just now. It was not laughing, but it had clothes the colour of burning sods, and there was something shining about its head.
WISE M. Well, there are your four pennies. You, a fool, say "glory be to God," but before I came the wise men said it.
FOOL. Four pennies! That means a great deal of luck. Great teacher, I have brought you plenty of luck!
[He goes out shaking the bag.]
WISE M. Though they call him Teigue the Fool, he is not more foolish than everybody used to be, with their dreams and their preachings and their three worlds; but I have overthrown their three worlds with the seven sciences. [He touches the books with his hands.] With Philosophy that was made from the lonely star, I have taught them to forget Theology; with Architecture, I have hidden the ramparts of their cloudy heaven; with Music, the fierce planets' daughter whose hair is always on fire, and with Grammar that is the moon's daughter, I have shut their ears to the imaginary harpings and speech of the angels; and I have made formations of battle with Arithmetic that have put the hosts of heaven to the rout. But, Rhetoric and Dialectic, that have been born out of the light star and out of the amorous star, you have been my spear-man and my catapult! Oh! my swift horsemen! Oh! my keen darting arguments, it is because of you that I have overthrown the hosts of foolishness! [An Angel, in a dress the colour of embers, and carrying a blossoming apple bough in her hand and a gilded halo about her head, stands upon the threshold.] Before I came, men's minds were stuffed with folly about a heaven where birds sang the hours, and about angels that came and stood upon men's thresholds. But I have locked the visions into heaven and turned the key upon them. Well, I must consider this passage about the two countries. My mother used to say something of the kind. She would say that when our bodies sleep our souls awake, and that whatever withers here ripens yonder, and that harvests are snatched from us that they may feed invisible people. But the meaning of the book may be different, for only fools and women have thoughts like that; their thoughts were never written upon the walls of Babylon. I must ring the bell for my pupils. [He sees the ANGEL.] What are you? Who are you? I think I saw some that were like you in my dreams when I was a child—that bright thing, that dress that is the colour of embers! But I have done with dreams, I have done with dreams.
ANGEL. I am the Angel of the Most High God.
WISE M. Why have you come to me?
ANGEL. I have brought you a message.
WISE M. What message have you got for me?
ANGEL. You will die within the hour. You will die when the last grains have fallen in this glass. [She turns the hour-glass.]
WISE M. My time to die has not come. I have my pupils. I have a young wife and children that I cannot leave. Why must I die?
ANGEL. You must die because no souls have passed over the threshold of Heaven since you came into this country. The threshold is grassy, and the gates are rusty, and the angels that keep watch there are lonely.
WISE M. Where will death bring me to?
ANGEL. The doors of Heaven will not open to you, for you have denied the existence of Heaven; and the doors of Purgatory will not open to you, for you have denied the existence of Purgatory.
WISE M. But I have also denied the existence of Hell!
ANGEL. Hell is the place of those who deny.
WISE M. [kneels]. I have, indeed, denied everything, and have taught others to deny. I have believed in nothing but what my senses told me. But, oh! beautiful Angel, forgive me, forgive me!
ANGEL. You should have asked forgiveness long ago.
WISE M. Had I seen your face as I see it now, oh! beautiful angel, I would have believed, I would have asked forgiveness. Maybe you do not know how easy it is to doubt. Storm, death, the grass rotting, many sicknesses, those are the messengers that came to me. Oh! why are you silent? You carry the pardon of the Most High; give it to me! I would kiss your hands if I were not afraid—no, no, the hem of your dress!
ANGEL. You let go undying hands too long ago to take hold of them now.
WISE M. You cannot understand. You live in that country people only see in their dreams. Maybe it is as hard for you to understand why we disbelieve as it is for us to believe. Oh! what have I said! You know everything! Give me time to undo what I have done. Give me a year—a month—a day—an hour! Give me to this hour's end, that I may undo what I have done!
ANGEL. You cannot undo what you have done. Yet I have this power with my message. If you can find one that believes before the hour's end, you shall come to Heaven after the years of Purgatory. For, from one fiery seed, watched over by those that sent me, the harvest can come again to heap the golden threshing floor. But now farewell, for I am weary of the weight of time.
WISE M. Blessed be the Father, blessed be the Son, blessed be the Spirit, blessed be the Messenger They have sent!
ANGEL [at the door and pointing at the hour-glass]. In a little while the uppermost glass will be empty. [Goes out.]
WISE M. Everything will be well with me. I will call my pupils; they only say they doubt. [Pulls the bell.] They will be here in a moment. They want to please me; they pretend that they disbelieve. Belief is too old to be overcome all in a minute. Besides, I can prove what I once disproved. [Another pull at the bell.] They are coming now. I will go to my desk. I will speak quietly, as if nothing had happened.
[He stands at the desk with a fixed look in his eyes. The voices of the pupils are heard outside singing these words.]
I was going the road one day, O the brown and the yellow beer, And I met with a man that was no right man O my dear, O my dear.
[The sound grows louder as they come nearer, but ceases on the threshold.]
Enter PUPILS and the FOOL.
FOOL. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Who is that pulling at my bag? King's son, do not pull at my bag.
A YOUNG MAN. Did your friends the angels give you that bag? Why don't they fill your bag for you?
FOOL. Give me pennies! Give me some pennies!
A YOUNG M. What do you want pennies for?—that great bag at your waist is heavy.
FOOL. I want to buy bacon in the shops, and nuts in the market, and strong drink for the time when the sun is weak, and snares to catch rabbits and the squirrels that steal the nuts, and hares, and a great pot to cook them in.
A YOUNG M. Why don't your friends tell you where buried treasures are? Why don't they make you dream about treasures? If one dreams three times there is always treasure.
FOOL [holding out his hat]. Give me pennies! Give me pennies!
[They throw pennies into his hat. He is standing close to the door, that he may hold out his hat to each newcomer.]
A YOUNG M. Master, will you have Teigue the Fool for a scholar?
ANOTHER YOUNG M. Teigue, will you give us your pennies if we teach you lessons? No, he goes to school for nothing on the mountains. Tell us what you learn on the mountains, Teigue.
WISE M. Be silent all! [He has been standing silent, looking away.] Stand still in your places, for there is something I would have you tell me.
[A moment's pause. They all stand round in their places. TEIGUE still stands at the door.]
WISE M. Is there anyone amongst you who believes in God? In Heaven? Or in Purgatory? Or in Hell?
ALL THE YOUNG MEN. No one, Master! No one!
WISE M. I knew you would all say that; but do not be afraid. I will not be angry. Tell me the truth. Do you not believe?
A YOUNG M. We once did, but you have taught us to know better.
WISE M. Oh, teaching! teaching does not go very deep! The heart remains unchanged under it all. You have the faith that you have always had, and you are afraid to tell me.
A YOUNG M. No, no, Master!
WISE M. If you tell me that you have not changed, I shall be glad and not angry.
A YOUNG M. [to his NEIGHBOUR]. He wants somebody to dispute with.
HIS NEIGHBOUR. I knew that from the beginning.
A YOUNG M. That is not the subject for to-day; you were going to talk about the words the beggar wrote upon the walls of Babylon.
WISE M. If there is one amongst you that believes, he will be my best friend. Surely there is one amongst you. [They are all silent.] Surely what you learned at your mother's knees has not been so soon forgotten.
A YOUNG M. Master, till you came, no teacher in this land was able to get rid of foolishness and ignorance. But every one has listened to you, every one has learned the truth. You have had your last disputation.
ANOTHER. What a fool you made of that monk in the market-place! He had not a word to say.
WISE M. [comes from his desk and stands among them in the middle of the room]. Pupils, dear friends, I have deceived you all this time. It was I myself who was ignorant. There is a God. There is a Heaven. There is fire that passes and there is fire that lasts for ever.
[TEIGUE, through all this, is sitting on a stool by the door, reckoning on his fingers what he will buy with his money.]
A YOUNG M. [to Another]. He will not be satisfied till we dispute with him. [To the WISE MAN.] Prove it, Master. Have you seen them?
WISE M. [in a low, solemn voice]. Just now, before you came in, someone came to the door, and when I looked up I saw an angel standing there.
A YOUNG M. You were in a dream. Anybody can see an angel in his dreams.
WISE M. Oh, my God! It was not a dream! I was awake, waking as I am now. I tell you I was awake as I am now.
A YOUNG M. Some dream when they are awake, but they are the crazy, and who would believe what they say? Forgive me, Master, but that is what you taught me to say. That is what you said to the monk when he spoke of the visions of the saints and the martyrs.
ANOTHER YOUNG M. You see how well we remember your teaching.
WISE M. Out, out from my sight! I want someone with belief. I must find that grain the Angel spoke of before I die. I tell you I must find it, and you answer me with arguments. Out with you, out of my sight! [The YOUNG MEN laugh.]
A YOUNG M. How well he plays at faith! He is like the monk when he had nothing more to say.
WISE M. Out, out, this is no time for laughter! Out with you, though you are a king's son! [They begin to hurry out.]
A YOUNG M. Come, come; he wants us to find someone who will dispute with him.
[All go out.]
WISE M. [alone; he goes to the door at the side]. I will call my wife. She will believe; women always believe. [He opens the door and calls.] Bridget! Bridget! [BRIDGET comes in, wearing her apron, her sleeves turned up from her floury arms.] Bridget, tell me the truth; do not say what you think will please me. Do you sometimes say your prayers?
BRIDGET. Prayers! No, you taught me to leave them off long ago. At first I was sorry, but I am glad now, for I am sleepy in the evening.
WISE M. But do you not believe in God?
BRIDGET. Oh, a good wife only believes what her husband tells her!
WISE M. But sometimes, when you are alone, when I am in the school and the children asleep, do you not think about the saints, about the things you used to believe in? What do you think of when you are alone?
BRIDGET [considering]. I think about nothing. Sometimes I wonder if the linen is bleaching white, or I go out to see if the cows are picking up the chickens' food.
WISE M. Oh, what can I do! Is there nobody who believes he can never die? I must go and find somebody! [He goes towards the door, but stops with his eyes fixed on the hour-glass.] I cannot go out; I cannot leave that; go and call my pupils again—I will make them understand—I will say to them that only amid spiritual terror, or only when all that laid hold on life is shaken can we see truth—but no, do not call them, they would answer as I have bid.
BRIDGET. You want somebody to get up an argument with.
WISE M. Oh, look out of the door and tell me if there is anybody there in the street! I cannot leave this glass; somebody might shake it! Then the sand would fall more quickly.
BRIDGET. I don't understand what you are saying. [Looks out.] There is a great crowd of people talking to your pupils.
WISE M. Oh, run out, Bridget, and see if they have found somebody that all the time while I was teaching understood nothing or did not listen.
BRIDGET [wiping her arms in her apron and pulling down her sleeves]. It's a hard thing to be married to a man of learning that must be always having arguments. [Goes out and shouts through the kitchen door.] Don't be meddling with the bread, children, while I'm out.
WISE M. [kneels down]. "Confiteor Deo omnipotente beatae Mariae...." I have forgotten it all. It is thirty years since I have said a prayer. I must pray in the common tongue, like a clown begging in the market, like Teigue the Fool! [He prays.] Help me, Father, Son, and Spirit!
[BRIDGET enters, followed by the FOOL, who is holding out his hat to her.]
FOOL. Give me something; give me a penny to buy bacon in the shops, and nuts in the market, and strong drink for the time when the sun is weak.
BRIDGET. I have no pennies. [To the WISE MAN.] Your pupils cannot find anybody to argue with you. There is nobody in the whole country who has enough belief to fill a pipe with since you put down the monk. Can't you be quiet now and not always wanting to have arguments? It must be terrible to have a mind like that.
WISE M. I am lost! I am lost!
BRIDGET. Leave me alone now; I have to make the bread for you and the children.
WISE M. Out of this, woman, out of this, I say! [BRIDGET goes through the kitchen door.] Will nobody find a way to help me! But she spoke of my children. I had forgotten them. They will believe. It is only those who have reason that doubt; the young are full of faith. Bridget, Bridget, send my children to me.
BRIDGET [inside]. Your father wants you; run to him now.
[The two CHILDREN come in. They stand together a little way from the threshold of the kitchen door, looking timidly at their father.]
WISE M. Children, what do you believe? Is there a Heaven? Is there a Hell? Is there a Purgatory?
FIRST CHILD. We haven't forgotten, father.
THE OTHER CHILD. Oh, no, father. [They both speak together, as if in school.] There is nothing we cannot see; there is nothing we cannot touch.
FIRST CHILD. Foolish people used to think that there was, but you are very learned and you have taught us better.
WISE M. You are just as bad as the others, just as bad as the others! Do not run away; come back to me. [The CHILDREN begin to cry and run away.] Why are you afraid? I will teach you better—no, I will never teach you again. Go to your mother! no, she will not be able to teach them.... Help them, O God!... The grains are going very quickly. There is very little sand in the uppermost glass. Somebody will come for me in a moment; perhaps he is at the door now! All creatures that have reason doubt. O that the grass and the plants could speak! Somebody has said that they would wither if they doubted. O speak to me, O grass blades! O fingers of God's certainty, speak to me! You are millions and you will not speak. I dare not know the moment the messenger will come for me. I will cover the glass. [He covers it and brings it to the desk. Sees the FOOL, who is sitting by the door playing with some flowers which he has stuck in his hat. He has begun to blow a dandelion head.] What are you doing?
FOOL. Wait a moment. [He blows.] Four, five, six.
WISE M. What are you doing that for?
FOOL. I am blowing at the dandelion to find out what time it is.
WISE M. You have heard everything! That is why you want to find out what hour it is! You are waiting to see them coming through the door to carry me away. [FOOL goes on blowing.] Out through the door with you! I will have no one here when they come. [He seizes the FOOL by the shoulders, and begins to force him out through the door, then suddenly changes his mind.] No, I have something to ask you. [He drags him back into the room.] Is there a Heaven? Is there a Hell? Is there a Purgatory?
FOOL. So you ask me now. When you were asking your pupils, I said to myself, if he would ask Teigue the Fool, Teigue could tell him all about it, for Teigue has learned all about it when he has been cutting the nets.
WISE M. Tell me; tell me!
FOOL. I said, Teigue knows everything. Not even the cats or the hares that milk the cows have Teigue's wisdom. But Teigue will not speak; he says nothing.
WISE M. Tell me, tell me! For under the cover the grains are falling, and when they are all fallen I shall die; and my soul will be lost if I have not found somebody that believes! Speak, speak!
FOOL [looking wise]. No, no, I won't tell you what is in my mind, and I won't tell you what is in my bag. You might steal away my thoughts. I met a bodach on the road yesterday, and he said, "Teigue, tell me how many pennies are in your bag; I will wager three pennies that there are not twenty pennies in your bag; let me put in my hand and count them." But I pulled the strings tighter, like this; and when I go to sleep every night I hide the bag where no one knows.
WISE M. [goes towards the hour-glass as if to uncover it]. No, no, I have not the courage. [He kneels.] Have pity upon me, Fool, and tell me!
FOOL. Ah! Now, that is different. I am not afraid of you now. But I must come nearer to you; somebody in there might hear what the Angel said.
WISE M. Oh, what did the Angel tell you?
FOOL. Once I was alone on the hills, and an angel came by and he said, "Teigue the Fool, do not forget the Three Fires; the Fire that punishes, the Fire that purifies, and the Fire wherein the soul rejoices for ever!"
WISE M. He believes! I am saved! The sand has run out.... [FOOL helps him to his chair.] I am going from the country of the seven wandering stars, and I am going to the country of the fixed stars!... I understand it all now. One sinks in on God; we do not see the truth; God sees the truth in us. Ring the bell. [FOOL rings bell.] Are they coming? Tell them, Fool, that when the life and the mind are broken the truth comes through them like peas through a broken peascod. Pray, Fool, that they may be given a sign and carry their souls alive out of the dying world. Your prayers are better than mine.
[FOOL bows his head. WISE MAN's head sinks on his arm on the books. PUPILS are heard singing as before, but now they come right into the room before they cease their song.]
A YOUNG MAN. Look at the Fool turned bell-ringer!
ANOTHER. What have you called us in for, Teigue? What are you going to tell us?
ANOTHER. No wonder he has had dreams! See, he is fast asleep now. [Goes over and touches him.] Oh, he is dead!
FOOL. Do not stir! He asked for a sign that you might be saved. [All are silent for a moment.] ... Look what has come from his mouth ... a little winged thing ... a little shining thing.... It is gone to the door. [The ANGEL appears in the doorway, stretches out her hands and closes them again.] The Angel has taken it in her hands.... She will open her hands in the Garden of Paradise. [They all kneel.]
* * * * *
BY ALFRED NOYES
With an Introduction by HAMILTON W. MABIE
Cloth, 12mo, $1.25 net
"Imagination, the capacity to perceive vividly and feel sincerely, and the gift of fit and beautiful expression in verse-form—if these may be taken as the equipment of a poet, nearly all of this volume is poetry. And if to the sum of these be added the indescribable increment of charm which comes occasionally to the work of some poet, quite unearned by any of these catalogued qualities of his, you have a fair measure of Mr. Noyes at his best.... Two considerations render Mr. Noyes interesting above most poets: the wonderful degree in which the personal charm illumines what he has already written, and the surprises which one feels may be in store in his future work. His feelings have already so much variety and so much apparent sincerity that it is impossible to tell in what direction his genius will develop. In whatever style he writes,—the mystical, the historical-dramatic, the impassioned description of natural beauty, the ballad, the love lyric,—he has the peculiarity of seeming in each style to have found the truest expression of himself."—Louisville Courier-Journal.
PUBLISHED BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 64-66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
MR. ALFRED NOYES'S POEMS
The Flower of Old Japan
Contains also "Forest of Wild Thyme," of which the Argonaut says: "It is not only an exquisite piece of work, but it is a psychological analysis of the child-mind so daring and yet so convincing as to lift it to the plane where the masterpieces of literature dwell. It can be read with delight by a child of ten. It is put into the mouth of a child of about that age, but the adult must be strangely constituted who can remain indifferent to its haunting spell or who can resist the fascination which lies in its every page."
"We are reminded both of Stevenson—to whom Mr. Noyes pays a glowing tribute—and Lewis Carroll; yet there is no imitation; Mr. Noyes has a distinct poetic style of his own.... In a matter-of-fact age such verse as this is an oasis in a desert land."—Providence Journal.
"It has seemed to us from the first that Noyes has been one of the most hope-inspiring figures in our latter-day poetry. He, almost alone, of the younger men seems to have the true singing voice, the gift of uttering in authentic lyric cry some fresh, unspoiled emotion."—Post.
Mr. Richard Le Gallienne in the North American Review pointed out recently "their spontaneous power and freshness, their imaginative vision, their lyrical magic." He adds: "Mr. Noyes is surprisingly various. I have seldom read one book, particularly by so young a writer, in which so many different things are done, and all done so well.... But that for which one is most grateful to Mr. Noyes in his strong and brilliant treatment of all his rich material, is the gift by which, in my opinion, he stands alone among the younger poets of the day, his lyrical gift."
Cloth, 12mo, $1.25 net
PUBLISHED BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 64-66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
Lyrical and Dramatic Poems
BY W. B. YEATS
In two volumes; each, $1.75 net
The two-volume edition of the Irish poet's works includes everything he has done in verse up to the present time. The first volume contains his lyrics; the second includes all of his five dramas in verse: "The Countess Cathleen," "The Land of Heart's Desire," "The King's Threshold," "On Baile's Strand," and "The Shadowy Waters."
William Butler Yeats stands among the few men to be reckoned with in modern poetry, especially of a dramatic character. The New York Sun, for example, refers to him as "an important factor in English literature," and continues:—
"'Cathleen ni Hoolihan' is a perfect piece of artistic work, poetic and wonderfully dramatic to read, and, we should imagine, far more dramatic in the acting. Maeterlinck has never done anything so true or effective as this short prose drama of Mr. Yeats's. There is not a superfluous word in the play and no word that does not tell. It must be dangerous to represent it in Ireland, for it is an Irish Marseillaise.... In 'The Hour Glass' a noble and poetic idea is carried out effectively, while 'A Pot of Broth' is merely a dramatized humorous anecdote. But 'Cathleen ni Hoolihan' stirs the blood, and in itself establishes Mr. Yeats's reputation for good."
The New York Herald remarks:—
"Mr. Yeats is probably the most important as well as the most widely known of the men concerned directly in the so-called Celtic renaissance. More than this, he stands among the few men to be reckoned with in modern poetry."
PUBLISHED BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 64-66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
A History of English Poetry
BY W. J. COURTHOPE, C.B., D.Litt., LL.D.
Late Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford
Cloth, 8vo, $3.25 net per volume
VOLUME I. The Middle Ages—Influence of the Roman Empire—The Encyclopaedic Education of the Church—The Feudal System.
VOLUME II. The Renaissance and the Reformation—Influence of the Court and the Universities.
VOLUME III. English Poetry in the Seventeenth Century—Decadent Influence of the Feudal Monarchy—Growth of the National Genius.
VOLUME IV. Development and Decline of the Poetic Drama—Influence of the Court and the People.
VOLUME V. The Constitutional Compromise of the Eighteenth Century—Effects of the Classical Renaissance—Its Zenith and Decline—The Early Romantic Renaissance.
* * *
"It is his privilege to have made a contribution of great value and signal importance to the history of English Literature."—Pall Mall Gazette.
PUBLISHED BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 64-66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK