Three Plays
by Padraic Colum
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MARTIN DOURAS O Murtagh, Murtagh, sure you know you can't be alone. We're two old men, Murtagh.

MURTAGH COSGAR He daren't go.

MATT Because I'm the last of them he thinks he can dare me like that.

MURTAGH COSGAR There was more of my blood in the others.

MATT Do you say that?

MARTIN DOURAS Don't say it again. For God's sake, don't say it again, Murtagh.

MURTAGH COSGAR I do say it again. Them who dared to go had more of my blood in them!

MATT Ah, you have put me to it now, and I'm glad, glad. A little house, a bit of land. Do you think they could keep me here?

MURTAGH COSGAR (to Martin Douras) It's his own way he wants. I never had my own way. (To Matt) You're my last son. You're too young to know the hardship there was in rearing you.

MATT (exultantly) Your last son; that won't keep me here. I'm the last of my name, but that won't keep me here. I leave you your lands, your twenty years' purchase. Murtagh Cosgar, Murtagh Cosgar! isn't that a great name, Martin Douras—a name that's well planted, a name for generations? Isn't he a lucky man that has a name for generations? (He goes out)

MURTAGH COSGAR He can't go. How could he go and he the last of the name. Close the door, I say.

MARTIN DOURAS He'll go to Ellen, surely. We'll lose both of them. Murtagh Cosgar, God comfort you and me.

MURTAGH COSGAR Ellen; who's Ellen? Ay, that daughter of yours. Close the door, I say.

He sits down at fireplace. Martin Douras closes door and goes to him.



Interior of Martin Douras'. The entrance is at back left. There is a dresser against wall back; a table down from dresser; room doors right and left. The fireplace is below the room door right; there are stools and chairs about it. There is a little bookcase left of the dresser, and a mirror beside it. There are patriotic and religious pictures on the wall. There are cups and saucers on table, and a teapot beside fire. It is afternoon still. Ellen Douras is near the fire reading. Cornelius comes in slowly.

CORNELIUS I left the men down the road a bit. We ought to take great pride out of this day, Ellen. Father did more than any of them to bring it about.

ELLEN He suffered more than any of them. And it's little we'll get out of the day.

CORNELIUS It's a great thing to have prophesied it, even. We'll be here to see a great change.

ELLEN There will be no change to make things better!

CORNELIUS Will you be taking that school, Ellen?

ELLEN I'll wait a while.

Sally coming in; she is hurried.

SALLY (breathlessly) Oh, God save you, Cornelius. Tell me, is my father gone? I dread going back and he there! It was all over that baste of a sow that has kept me slaving all through the spring till I don't know whether greens or potatoes is the fittest for her!

CORNELIUS He didn't go, Sally. I went down a bit of the road myself with the men.

SALLY Oh, God help me! And I'll have to be going back to boil meal for her now. How are you, Ellen. (She goes to Ellen)

ELLEN Sit down for a while, Sally; it's a long time since I was speaking to you.

Sally sits down beside Ellen.

CORNELIUS I'll leave this paper where they won't be looking for pipe-lights. There are things in that paper I'd like to be saying. (He takes a newspaper out of his pocket and goes to room right)

ELLEN (to Sally, who has been watching Cornelius) Tell me, Sally, are they always that busy in your house? Is your father as harsh as they say?

SALLY Father 'ud keep us all working. He's a powerful great man.

ELLEN Matt will be bringing a wife into the house soon from all I hear. How would your father treat her?

SALLY Oh, he'd have his way, and she'd have her way, I suppose.

ELLEN And do you think your father will let him marry?

SALLY Sure he must if the boy likes.

ELLEN What would he say if Matt married a girl without a fortune?

SALLY In my mother's country there are lots of girls with fortunes that Matt could have.

ELLEN Supposing he wanted a girl that had no fortune?

SALLY Oh, I suppose father would give in in the end. It wouldn't be clay against flint when Matt and father would be to it.

ELLEN You're a good girl, Sally. If I was Matt's wife, do you think you'd be fond of me?

SALLY I'd like you as well as another, Ellen.

Cornelius comes down from room.

CORNELIUS I suppose they'll be here soon.

ELLEN I have tea ready for them.

SALLY Who's coming at all?

CORNELIUS Some of the boys and girls that are for America. They are going to Gilroy's to-night, and are leaving from that in the morning. They are coming in to see Ellen on their way down.

SALLY There are a good many going this flight. The land never troubles them in America, and they can wear fine clothes, and be as free as the larks over the bogs. It's a wonder you never thought of going, Ellen.

ELLEN Father wouldn't like me to be far from him, and so I went in for the school instead.

SALLY And now you've got a fine boy like Matt. It was lucky for you to be staying here.

ELLEN Hush, Sally.

SALLY Oh, I knew all about it before you talked to me at all. Matt always goes to the place where he thinks you'd be.

ELLEN (rising) I'll be in the room when the girls come, Cornelius.

She goes into room left.

SALLY (going to Cornelius) God help us, but she's the silent creature. Isn't it a wonder she's not filled with talk of him after seeing him to-day? But Ellen's right. We shouldn't be talking about men, nor thinking about them either; and that's the way to keep them on our hands on the long run. I'll be going myself.

She goes towards door.

CORNELIUS (going to her) Don't be minding Ellen at all, Sally.

SALLY Well, as high as she is, and as mighty as she is, she came into his own house to see Matt. God between us and harm, Cornelius, maybe they'll be saying I came into your house to see you.

CORNELIUS Who'll know you came at all? And what isn't seen won't be spoken of.

SALLY Would you like me to stay, Cornelius?

CORNELIUS Ay, I would.

SALLY Divil mind the sow,

They sit down together.

SALLY (after a pause) Would you like me to knit you a pair of socks, Cornelius?

CORNELIUS Oh, I would, Sally; I'd love to wear them.

SALLY I'll knit them. We'll be getting rid of the sow tonight, maybe, and I'll have time after that.

CORNELIUS And you come along the road when I'm herding. I don't want to be going near your father's house.

SALLY O Cornelius, it won't be lucky for us when father hears about Ellen and Matt.

CORNELIUS That's true. No man sees his house afire but looks to his rick.

SALLY Come down a bit of the road with me, Cornelius. The sow will be grunting and grunting, reminding father that I'm away. Och, a minute ago I was as contented as if there was no land or pigs, or harsh words to trouble one. (She goes to the door) The boys and girls for America are coming here.

CORNELIUS Give me your hands to hold, Sally. (She gives him her hands) We are as young as any of them after all.

They hold each other's hands, then stand apart.

SALLY 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.

SALLY God save you, girls. Good-bye, Cornelius. I'll have to run like a redshank.

Sally goes out.

CORNELIUS 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 chattering.

FIRST GIRL 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.

SECOND GIRL And the shops and the great houses.

SECOND BOY There's no stir here. There's no fine clothes, nor fine manners, nor fine things to be seen.

THIRD BOY 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.

THIRD GIRL Every girl gets married in America.

Ellen comes down.

ELLEN I'm glad you came. I have tea ready for you. I can't go to Gilroy's to-night.

Some come to the table and some remain near the door.

A GIRL (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.

A BOY 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.

ANOTHER GIRL 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.

ANOTHER GIRL 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 little ones.

FIRST BOY A girl like you, Ellen, is foolish to be staying here.

SECOND BOY She'll be coming in the fall. We'll be glad to see you, Ellen.

ELLEN I have no friends in America.

FIRST GIRL I have no friends there, either. But I'll get on. You could get on better than any of us, Ellen.

SECOND GIRL She's waiting for her school. It will be a little place by the side of a bog.

THIRD GIRL (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.

ELLEN (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.

ELLEN I won't be going.

FIRST GIRL 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.

SECOND BOY God help us, if that was all Phil could take.

THIRD BOY 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.

ELLEN 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.

SALLY Ellen! Ellen! I have wonders to tell. Where is Cornelius, at all? He's never here when you have wonders to tell.

ELLEN What have you to tell?

SALLY 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—

ELLEN Sally, Sally, take breath and tell it.

SALLY Matt is going to America, like the others, and he's taking you with him.

ELLEN Sally, Sally, is it the truth you're telling?

SALLY It is the truth. Honest as day, it is the truth.

ELLEN 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)

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 about it.

ELLEN 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.

SALLY (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.

MATT Well, Sally, were you home lately?

SALLY I was—leastways as far as the door. Father and oul' Martin were discoursing.

MATT I've given them something to discourse about. Maybe you'll be treated better from this day. Sally.

SALLY O Matt, I'm sorry.

She goes out.

MATT (going to Ellen) It happened at last, Ellen; the height of the quarrel came.

ELLEN It was bound to come. I knew it would come, Matt.

MATT He was a foolish man to put shame on me after all I did for the land.

ELLEN You had too much thought for the land.

MATT I had in troth. The others went when there was less to be done. They could not stand him. Even the girls stole away.

ELLEN There was the high spirit in the whole of you.

MATT I showed it to him. "Stop," said I; "no more, or I fling lands and house and everything aside."

ELLEN You said that.

MATT Ay. "Your other children went for less," said I; "do you think there's no blood in me at all?"

ELLEN What happened then?

MATT "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?"

ELLEN 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 cities.

MATT Ay—there before us—if we like.

ELLEN Surely we like.

MATT I was always shy of crowds. I'm simple, after all, Ellen, and have no thought beyond the land.

ELLEN You said that house and land could not keep you. You told him you were going as your brothers went.

MATT 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.

ELLEN (suddenly) Matt!

MATT What is it, Ellen?

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.

MATT Ay, he spoke against you. I couldn't put up with that.

ELLEN He does not know your high spirit. He does not know your strength.

MATT Ellen, it's no shame for a man to have harsh words said to him when it's about a woman like you.

ELLEN 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.

MATT I had too much thought for the land.

ELLEN 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.

MATT 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.

ELLEN Your brothers—think of them.

MATT They all left some one behind them. I am the last of my name.

ELLEN Why should that keep you back?

MATT 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.

ELLEN I do not understand men. Will you go back to your father's house after he shaming you out of it?

MATT He'll be glad to see me back. He'll never cast it up to me that I went.

ELLEN Matt, your father said words against me. Will you go to him and take his hand after that?

MATT It was little he said against you. It was against your father he spoke.

ELLEN (sinking down on a chair, and putting hands before her face) My God! After all my waiting, you talk like that.

MATT (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.

ELLEN (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 farmer's house?

MATT Ellen!

ELLEN 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.

MATT (getting angry) Don't be talking that way, Ellen Douras.

ELLEN (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.

MATT You didn't know it always. And you have let some one come between us when you talk like that.

ELLEN I'm not one to be listening to what people say about you. Nor do I be talking in the markets about you.

MATT 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 better.

ELLEN You are foolish to be talking like that. You are foolish, I say.

MATT I know I am foolish. Fit only to be working in drains and ditches in the winter. That's what you think.

ELLEN Maybe it is.

MATT Ellen Douras! Ellen Douras! A farmer's roof will be high enough for you some day.

ELLEN May I never see the day. Go back, go back. Make it up with your father. Your father will be glad of a labourer.

MATT Maybe you won't be glad if I go back; thinking on what you've said.

ELLEN 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.

MATT 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.

ELLEN (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.

MARTIN DOURAS It's getting late, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR Ay, it's getting late.

MARTIN DOURAS It's time for me to be going home. I should be seeing Ellen. (He rises)

MURTAGH COSGAR Stay where you are. (Turning round) We're two old men, as you say. We should keep each other's company for a bit.

MARTIN DOURAS I should be going home to see Ellen.

MURTAGH COSGAR If she's going, you can't stay her. Let you keep here.

MARTIN DOURAS She'll be wondering what happened to me.

MURTAGH COSGAR Divil a bit it will trouble her. You're going to the fair anyway?

MARTIN DOURAS I have no heart to be going into a fair.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MARTIN DOURAS We're both old men, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR And is there any reason in your scholarship why oul' men should be dry men? Answer me that!

MARTIN DOURAS I won't answer you at all, Murtagh Cosgar. There's no use in talking to you.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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 like—

MARTIN DOURAS 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR Ha, here's one of the clutch home. Well, did you see that brother of yours?

SALLY I did. He'll be home soon, father.

MURTAGH COSGAR What's that you say? Were you talking to him? Did he say he'd be home?

SALLY I heard him say it, father.

MARTIN DOURAS God bless you for the news, Sally.

MURTAGH COSGAR How could he go and he the last of them? Sure it would be against nature. Where did you see him, Sally?

SALLY At Martin Douras's, father.

MURTAGH COSGAR It's that Ellen Douras that's putting him up to all this. Don't you be said by her, Sally.

SALLY No, father.

MURTAGH COSGAR You're a good girl, and if you haven't wit, you have sense. He'll be home soon, did you say?

SALLY 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR Make the place tidy for him to come into. He'll have no harsh words from me. (He goes up to the room)

SALLY Father's surely getting ould.

MARTIN DOURAS (sitting down) He's gone up to rest himself, God help him. Sally, a stor, I'm that fluttered, I dread going into my own house.

SALLY I'll get ready now, and let you have a good supper before you go to the fair.

MARTIN DOURAS Sit down near me, and let me hear everything, Sally. Was it Matt that told you, or were you talking to Ellen herself?

SALLY 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.

MATT Where is he? He's not gone to the fair so early?

SALLY He's in the room.

MATT Were you talking to him at all? Were you telling him you saw myself?

SALLY I was telling him that you were coming back.

MATT How did he take it?

SALLY Very quiet. God help us all; I think father's losing his spirit.

MATT (going to Martin) Well, you see I've come back, Martin.

MARTIN DOURAS Ay, you're a good lad. I always said you were a good lad.

MATT How did father take it, Martin?

MARTIN DOURAS Quietly, quietly. You saw Ellen?

MATT 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.

MARTIN DOURAS (eagerly) What did she say, Matt Cosgar?

MATT It wasn't what she said. She has that school in her mind, I know.

MARTIN DOURAS And is there anything to keep her here, Matt Cosgar?

MATT 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.

MARTIN DOURAS I should be going to her.

MATT 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.

MARTIN DOURAS God forgive my age, if it would keep her here. Would I have my Ellen drawing turf, or minding a cow, or feeding pigs?

MATT 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 frightened child.

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.

MURTAGH COSGAR (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?

MATT I did (pause) Well, I've come back to you.

MURTGAH COSGAR You're welcome. We were making ready for the fair.

MATT I'll be going out again before nightfall.

MURTAGH COSGAR I'll not be wanting you here, or at the fair.

MATT (sullenly) There's no good talking to me like that.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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 wanting you."

MATT Father, have you no feeling for me at all?

MURTAGH COSGAR Sure the wild raven on the tree has thought for her young.

MATT Ay, but do you feel for me, and I standing here, trying to talk to you?

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

SALLY I will, father.

MURTAGH COSGAR Be up early, and let the cows along the road, or they'll be breaking into the young meadow.

SALLY I'll do that, too.

MURTAGH COSGAR Be sure to keep enough fresh milk for the young calf.

SALLY I'll be sure to do it, father.

She goes out. Martin takes out his paper, and begins to read it again.

MATT (turning on Murtag) Before I go out again there's something I want settled.

MURTAGH COSGAR What is it you want?

MATT Would you have me go, or would you have me stay?

MURTAGH COSGAR Don't be talking of going or staying, and you the last of them.

MATT 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 treat Sally.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MATT The houses that you remember are different from the houses that are now. Will you have me go, or will you have me stay?

MURTAGH COSGAR You're very threatening. I'd have you stay. For the sake of the name, I'd have you stay.

MATT Let us take hands on it, then.

MURTAGH COSGAR Wait, we'll see what you want first.

MATT You have no feeling. I'd go out of this house, only I want to give you a chance.

MURTAGH COSGAR Stop. We can have kindness in this. We needn't be beating each other down, like men at a fair.

MATT We're not men at a fair. May God keep the kindness in our hearts.

Martin rises.

MURTAGH COSGAR Don't be going, Martin Douras.

MATT Don't be going yet. I'll be with you, when you're going.

Martin sits down.

MURTAGH COSGAR (to Matt) You'll be getting married, I suppose, if you stay?

MATT Maybe I will.

MURTAGH COSGAR (bitterly) In the houses that are now, the young marry where they have a mind to. It's their own business, they say.

MATT Maybe it is their own business. I'm going to marry Ellen Douras, if she'll have me.

MURTAGH COSGAR Ellen is a good girl, and clever, I'm told. But I would not have you deal before you go into the fair.

MATT I'm going to marry Ellen Douras.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MATT (stubbornly) I'm going to marry Ellen Douras, with or without a fortune.

MURTAGH COSGAR (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.

MATT I'll marry Ellen Douras, with or without a fortune.

MURTAGH COSGAR Marry her, then. Marry Ellen Douras.

MATT Now, Martin, we mustn't let an hour pass without going to her. (He takes Martin's arm, and they go to the door)

MURTAGH COSGAR 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 doing,

Ellen Douras comes to the door as Matt and Martin reach it.

MATT Ellen!

She shrinks back.

ELLEN It's my father I came to speak to.

MURTAGH COSGAR (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,

ELLEN It's right that I should speak to you all. Matt Cosgar, I am going from here.

MATT 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.

ELLEN I can't go into a farmer's house.

MATT You said that out of passion. Don't keep your mind on it any longer.

ELLEN It's true, it's true. I can't go into a farmer's house. This place is strange to me.

MATT How can you talk like that? I'm always thinking of you.

ELLEN I've stayed here long enough. I want my own way; I want to know the world.

MATT If you go, how will I be living, day after day? The heart will be gone out of me.

MURTAGH COSGAR You'll be owning the land, Matt Cosgar.

MATT (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 and speaks.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

ELLEN 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)

MATT Ellen, what he offers is nothing, after all; but I care for you. Sure you won't go from me like that?

ELLEN 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 want.

MATT Then you're going surely?

ELLEN 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MATT Oh, what's the good in talking about that now? If Ellen was here, we might be talking about it.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MATT When I meet Ellen Douras again, it's not a farmer's house I'll be offering her, nor life in a country place.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR Where are you going?

MATT To see the boys that are going away.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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 him.

MATT I'll go by myself, unless Ellen Douras comes now. The creamery owes me money for the carting, and I'll get it.

MURTAGH COSGAR Then go. Good-bye to you, Matt Cosgar.

MATT Good-bye to you.

He goes out. Murtagh stands, then moves about vaguely

MURTAGH COSGAR 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR The men will be coming back.

MARTIN DOURAS I suppose they will.

MURTAGH COSGAR You're a queer fellow, Martin Douras. You went to gaol for some meeting.


MURTAGH COSGAR Them was the stirring times. I can't help but think of you in gaol, and by yourself. What brings you back now?

MARTIN DOURAS Ellen told me to go back. I should say something to Matt, I think.

MURTAGH COSGAR He went out as you came in.

MARTIN DOURAS I'll go in when the house is quiet. I'll have a few prayers to be saying this night.

MURTAGH COSGAR I'm going to the fair.

MARTIN DOURAS I won't be going to the fair.

MURTAGH COSGAR Why won't you be going to the fair? Didn't you ask me for a lift? You'll be going with me.

MARTIN DOURAS I won't be going, and don't be overbearing me now, Murtagh Cosgar.

MURTAGH COSGAR 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 Douras.

MARTIN DOURAS You have, and I have a son.

MURTAGH COSGAR What would you say to a match between them, Martin Douras?

MARTIN DOURAS I have nothing to say again it.

MURTAGH COSGAR Then a match it will be.

Sally comes in from yard.

SALLY 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR Ay. Is that Cornelius Douras that's coming up the path?

SALLY O faith it is. I'll get him to give me a hand with the trough.

Cornelius comes in.

CORNELIUS 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR Ours and our children's, ay. We've been making a match between yourself and Sally.

CORNELIUS Between me and Sally?

SALLY Between Cornelius and myself?

MURTAGH COSGAR Ay, shake hands on it now.

CORNELIUS 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.

MURTAGH COSGAR What they say is true, I'm sure. The land is yours and your children's.

SALLY (wiping her hands in her apron) O Cornelius.

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.


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 SHANLEY 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.

TOURNOUR (in a harsh voice, after looking around) Is he not back yet?

CHRISTY (without stirring) Is who not back yet?

TOURNOUR The master I'm talking about. I don't know where he does be going those evenings.

He shovels coal into the stove.

CHRISTY And what is it to you where he does be going?

TOURNOUR 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?

CHRISTY What's that to you whether he will or not?

TOURNOUR If he's sitting up late he'll want more coal to his fire.

CHRISTY Well, the abstracts will have to be finished to-night.

TOURNOUR 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.

CHRISTY 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 Tournour?

TOURNOUR They used to take me out for walks when I was a little fellow, but they never got me out into the country since.

CHRISTY I suppose, now that you're in the porter's lodge, you watch every one that goes up and down the road?

TOURNOUR It gratifies me to do so—would you believe that now?

CHRISTY You know a lot, Felix Tournour.

TOURNOUR We're told to advance in knowledge, young fellow. How long is Tom Muskerry the Master of Garrisowen Workhouse?

CHRISTY Thirty years this spring.

TOURNOUR Twenty-nine years.

CHRISTY He's here thirty years according to the books.

TOURNOUR Twenty-nine years.

CHRISTY Thirty years.

TOURNOUR 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 him.

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.

GORMAN Mister Muskerry! Are you there, Mister Muskerry?

TOURNOUR What do you want, my oul' fellow?

GORMAN (with a puzzled look) Well, now, I've a favour to ask of your honour.

TOURNOUR Be off out of this to your ward.

GORMAN Is that Mister Muskerry?

CHRISTY Mister Muskerry isn't here.

GORMAN And who am I talking to?

CHRISTY You are talking to Felix Tournour.

GORMAN Felix Tournour! Ay, ay. Good night, Felix Tournour. When will the Master be back?

TOURNOUR (coming to him) Not till you're out of this, and back in your ward.

GORMAN Wasn't there a boy speaking to me?

CHRISTY 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? [6]

TOURNOUR (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 Muskerry enters

TOURNOUR This oul' fellow came into the office, and I was leading him back into his ward.

MUSKERRY 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.]

MUSKERRY Well, my good man?

GORMAN I'm here to ask a favour from you, Master.

MUSKERRY You should proffer your request when I'm in the ward. However, I'm ready to give you my attention.

GORMAN 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.

MUSKERRY Well, now, what can I do for you?

GORMAN (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 town.

MUSKERRY We'll consider it, Gorman.

GORMAN Master, let me out in the town on the market-day.

MUSKERRY We couldn't let you out to play your pipes through the town.

GORMAN 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.

MUSKERRY We'll consider it, Gorman. (He takes off muffler, and puts it on back of armchair)

GORMAN 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)

MUSKERRY Tell me this, Gorman, were you always on the roads?

GORMAN 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.

MUSKERRY And what will you do?

GORMAN 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)

MUSKERRY Tell me; have you any family yourself?

GORMAN 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, Master?

MUSKERRY I'll consider it.

GORMAN Good night to your honour. Remember my name, Master—Gorman, Myles Gorman.

Muskerry stands looking after Gorman.

MUSKERRY Now, Christy Clarke, I consider that the man gone out is a very exceptional man.

CHRISTY Is it Myles Gorman?

MUSKERRY Yes. I'd even say that, considering his station in life, Myles Gorman is a very superior man.

CHRISTY They say he's not a good musician.

MUSKERRY 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)

CHRISTY Will you give leave for to-morrow?

MUSKERRY No, Christy, I will not.

CHRISTY Why not, Mister Muskerry?

MUSKERRY That man would break bounds and stay away.

CHRISTY Do you think he would?

MUSKERRY He'd fly off, like the woodquest flying away from the tame pigeons.

CHRISTY 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.

MUSKERRY His brother did wrong, but he didn't do so much wrong to Myles Gorman.

CHRISTY How is that, Mister Muskerry?

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.

CHRISTY (going through papers idly) "I am much obliged for your favour—"

MUSKERRY That's not it.

CHRISTY (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—"

MUSKERRY 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.

CHRISTY And so you ought, Mister Muskerry.

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.

CHRISTY Where is it, Mister Muskerry?

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.

CHRISTY And so you'll go back to your own place?

MUSKERRY 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?

CHRISTY "And like the Hare whom Hounds and Horns pursue Pants to the place from whence at first he flew."

MUSKERRY Aye. "And like the Hare whom Hounds and Horns pursue"— (The clock strikes nine)

CHRISTY You weren't on the rounds yet?

MUSKERRY (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.

MUSKERRY 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 corridor door.

TOURNOUR 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.

ALBERT (lighting a cigarette) Is the grandparent here, Tournour?

TOURNOUR He's gone on the rounds, Mister Albert.

ALBERT What time was he up this morning?

TOURNOUR He was late enough. He wasn't up in time to come to Mass with us.

ALBERT The old man will get into trouble.

TOURNOUR If the nuns hear about it.

ALBERT He'll have to give the whole thing up soon.

TOURNOUR He's well off that can get somebody else to do the work for him. (He continues to sweep towards corridor)

ALBERT Tournour, you're a damned clever fellow. I heard a piece of yours yesterday that I thought was damned good.

TOURNOUR Was it a rhyme?

ALBERT It was something called "The Devil's Rambles."

TOURNOUR (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)

CRILLY Are you going to finish the abstracts to-night, Albert?

ALBERT I believe I am. Go on with "The Devil's Rambles," Tournour.

CRILLY I heard it in Keegan's. It's damn good.

TOURNOUR I don't like saying it before Mister Crilly.

CRILLY (with easy contempt) Go on with it, man; I'll leave a pint in Keegan's for you.

TOURNOUR Well, you mightn't like it.

CRILLY Have done talking and go on with it.

TOURNOUR (reciting)

"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.'"

CRILLY 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.

CRILLY 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. (He drinks)

ALBERT Every town in Ireland is a cursed town.

CRILLY 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.

ALBERT Covey seems to have done it well.

CRILLY God knows how many he has stuck.

ALBERT Well, he didn't stick the Crillys for anything.

CRILLY Albert, you don't know how these financial things work out. Do you think would his brother settle?

ALBERT Settle with whom?

CRILLY 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.

ALBERT I wish I had a job and I'd wait on the pension.

CRILLY Oh, you'll be all right. The grandfather is seeing about your job.

ALBERT If the grandparent gets me that job I'll want two new suits at least.

CRILLY '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 the morning.

ALBERT They have. And damn all the old man has done to them.

CRILLY The Guardians hear that he's late in the mornings, Albert, and some of them are beginning to question his fitness to check the stores.

ALBERT The old man ought to resign.

CRILLY 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.

ALBERT The mother and Anna are preparing for the event.

CRILLY How's that, Albert?

ALBERT Mother has James Scollard in her eye for the new Master.

CRILLY Right enough! Scollard would get it, too, and then he would marry Anna.

ALBERT That's the arrangement, I expect.

CRILLY 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.

ALBERT The mother would never think of letting him take himself and his pension anywhere else.

CRILLY I don't think she would.

ALBERT I wouldn't be surprised if he did go somewhere else. I hear he often goes up to that cottage in Stradrina.

CRILLY What cottage, Albert?

ALBERT Briar Cottage. I hear he sits down there, and talks of coming to live in the place.

CRILLY (warningly) Albert, don't clap hands behind the bird. Take my word, and say nothing about it.

ALBERT All right.

CRILLY We'd have no comfort in the house if your mother's mind was distracted.

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.

CRILLY Good night, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY Are you finishing the abstracts, Albert?

ALBERT I'm working at them. It's a good job we didn't leave the old man much latitude for making mistakes.

MRS. CRILLY (closing door) He'll have to resign.

CRILLY Good God, Marianne. (He rises)

MRS. CRILLY 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 keeping him.

CRILLY 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 of whisky)

ALBERT Let the old man do what suits himself.

CRILLY (coming back to stove) Do, Marianne. Let him do what suits himself. For the present.

MRS. CRILLY For pity's sake put down that glass and listen to what I have to say.

CRILLY What's the matter, Marianne?

MRS. CRILLY 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.

CRILLY I don't know what's to be done.

MRS. CRILLY 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.

CRILLY Yes, yes. I think that Scollard could make a place for himself.

ALBERT The old man won't be anxious to retire.

MRS. CRILLY Why shouldn't he retire when his time is up?

ALBERT Well, here he is what's called a potentate. He won't care to come down and live over Crilly's shop.

MRS. CRILLY And where else would he live in the name of God?

ALBERT He won't want to live with our crowd.

MRS. CRILLY 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.

MRS. CRILLY 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?

ANNA Mother. Grandfather is going to live away from us.

MRS. CRILLY Why do you repeat what Albert says?

ANNA I didn't hear Albert say anything.

MRS. CRILLY Then, what are you talking about?

ANNA 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.

MRS. CRILLY When did you hear this?

ANNA This evening. Delia Martin told me.

MRS. CRILLY 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.

CRILLY Well, damn it all—

ALBERT Here's the voucher.

CRILLY God! I don't know what's to be done.

ALBERT 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 rises.

ALBERT (his hand on the handle of door) Well so-long.

MRS. CRILLY Where are you going?

ALBERT I'm leaving you to talk it over with the old man.

Mrs. Crilly looks from Albert to Crilly.

CRILLY The Master has let himself in for something serious, Marianne.

ALBERT 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 delivered.

MRS. CRILLY Is that so, Crofton?

CRILLY It looks like it, Marianne.

ALBERT 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)

MRS. CRILLY They will dismiss him—dismiss him without a pension.

ANNA Mother. If he gets the pension first, could they take it back from him?

CRILLY No. But they could make him pay back the fifty pounds in instalments.

MRS. CRILLY Fifty pounds! We can't afford to lose fifty pounds.

ANNA Who would find out about the coal, father?

CRILLY The Guardians who take stock.

ANNA And how would they know at this time whether there was a hundred or a hundred and fifty tons there at first?

CRILLY The business men amongst them would know. However, there won't be an inspection for some time.

ANNA Suppose grandfather had got his pension and had left the Workhouse, who would know about the coal?

CRILLY The new Workhouse Master.

MRS. CRILLY The new Workhouse Master—

CRILLY Marianne—


CRILLY I think I'll stay here and advise the old man.

MRS. CRILLY No. Go away.

CRILLY (at door of apartments) After all, I'm one of the Guardians, and something might be done.

MRS. CRILLY You can do nothing. We can do nothing for him. Let him go to the strangers.

Crilly goes out.


ANNA Yes, mother.

MRS. CRILLY The Martins are not giving up their house for a year or two?

ANNA No, mother.

MRS. CRILLY If he resigns now his pension will be safe. There is nothing else against him.

ANNA But some one will find out the difference in the coal.

MRS. CRILLY It's the new Workhouse Master who will know that.

ANNA (hardening) But he could not pass such a thing, mother.

MRS. CRILLY (abandoning a position) Well, after your grandfather gets his pension we could make some arrangement with the Guardians.

ANNA Yes, mother. Hasn't grandfather a hundred pounds invested in the shop?

MRS. CRILLY It's not a hundred pounds. Besides, it's not an investment.

ANNA (with a certain resolution in her rich voice) Mother. Is my money safe?

MRS. CRILLY We could give you the eighty pounds, Anna, but after that we would need all the help we could get from you.

ANNA Yes, mother.

MRS. CRILLY (again taking up a position) But if we help James Scollard to the place.

ANNA (with determination) Whether Mr. Scollard gets the place or does not get the place, I'll want my fortune, mother.

MRS. CRILLY Very well, Anna. If we could get him to come over. ... (She sits in arm chair) There's a lamb in Ginnell's field; you might call in to-morrow and ask them to prepare it for us.

ANNA Then grandfather is coming to dinner on Sunday?

MRS. CRILLY We must get him to come.

Some one is coming up the passage. Anna's hand is on handle of door. She holds it open. Thomas Muskerry stands there.

MUSKERRY (pleased to see her) Well, Nancy!

ANNA Good night, grandpapa. (He regards her with fondness)

MRS. CRILLY Good night, father.

MUSKERRY This Nancy girl is looking remarkably well. (He turns to Mrs. Crilly) Well, ma'am, and how are you? I've written that letter for that rascally Albert.

He leaves his stick on table and goes to desk. Mrs. Crilly watches him. Anna comes to her. Muskerry addresses an envelope with some labour. Mrs. Crilly notices a tress of Anna's hair falling down. Anna kneels down beside her. She takes off Anna's cap, settles up the hair, and puts the cap on again. Having addressed the envelope, Muskerry holds up a piece of wax to the gas. He seals the letter then holds it out.

MUSKERRY Here's the letter now, and maybe it's the last thing I can do for any of ye.

MRS. CRILLY You are very good.

Muskerry goes to them.

MUSKERRY In season and out of season I've put myself at your service. I can do no more for ye.

She takes the letter from him. His resentment is breaking down. He sits on chair beside armchair. He speaks in a reconciling tone.

MUSKERRY You're looking well, Marianne,

MRS. CRILLY I'm beginning to be well again.

MUSKERRY And the infant? What age is he now?

MRS. CRILLY Little Joseph is ten months old.

MUSKERRY I dreamt of him last night. I thought Joseph became a bishop. He ought to be reared for the Church, Marianne. Well, well, I've nothing more to do with that. (He settles himself in the armchair) Did Christy Clarke bring in the papers?

ANNA Christy Clarke hasn't been here at all, grandpapa.

MUSKERRY Stand here till I look at you Nancy. (Anna comes left of stove) I wouldn't be surprised if you were the best-looking girl in the town, Nancy.

ANNA (without any coquettishness) Anna Crilly is riot going into competition with the others. (She wraps the muffler round him, then kisses him) Good night, grandpapa. (She goes out by corridor door)

MRS. CRILLY Thank you for the letter for Albert.

MUSKERRY I think, Marianne, it's the last thing I can do for you or yours.

MRS. CRILLY Well, we can't tell a bad story of you, and things are well with us.

MUSKERRY I'm glad to hear that. I was thinking of going to see you next week.

MRS. CRILLY Come to dinner on Sunday. We are having a lamb.

MUSKERRY What sort is the lamb?

MRS. CRILLY Oh, a very young lamb. Anna will make the dressing for you.

MUSKERRY I'll send round a bottle of wine. Perhaps we'll be in the way of celebrating something for Albert.

MRS. CRILLY Nancy was saying that you might like to stay a few days with us.

MUSKERRY Stay a few days! How could I do that, ma'am?

MRS. CRILLY You could get somebody to look after the House. James Scollard would do it, and you could stay out for a few days.

MUSKERRY Well, indeed, I'll do no such thing. What put it into your head to ask me this?

MRS. CRILLY Nancy said—

MUSKERRY Let the girl speak for herself. What's in your mind, woman?

MRS. CRILLY Well, you're not looking well.

MUSKERRY I'm as well as ever I was.

MRS. CRILLY Others do not think so.

MUSKERRY I suppose you heard I was late a few mornings. No matter for that. I'm as well as ever I was. No more talk about it; I'm going on with the work. (He rises and goes over to desk)

MRS. CRILLY I'm sorry to say that no one else thinks as well of you as you do yourself.

MUSKERRY Well, I'll hear no more about it, and that's enough about it. Why isn't Albert Crilly here?

MRS. CRILLY Well, he was here, and he is coming back.

MUSKERRY I'll want him. (He takes up a card left on the desk. He turns round and reads)—"You have let the Guardians pay for a hundred tons. James Covey delivered only fifty tons of coal." Who left this here?

MRS. CRILLY I suppose Albert left it for you.

MUSKERRY The impudent rascal. How dare he address himself like that to me? (He throws card on table)

MRS. CRILLY Perhaps he found something out in the books.

MUSKERRY No matter whether he did or not, he'll have to have respect when he addresses me. Anyway it's a lie—a damn infernal lie. I was in the stores the other day, and there was eighty tons of coal still there. Certainly twenty tons had been taken out of it. The Provision Check Account will show. (He takes up a book and turns round. He goes back some pages. He lets the book fall. He stands there helpless) I suppose you all are right in your judgment of me. I'm at my failing time. I'll have to leave this without pension or prospect. They'll send me away.

MRS. CRILLY They had nothing against you before this.

MUSKERRY I was spoken of as the pattern for the officials of Ireland.

MRS. CRILLY If you resigned now—

MUSKERRY Before this comes out. (He looks for help) Marianne, it would be like the blow to the struck ox if I lost my pension.

MRS. CRILLY If you managed to get the pension you could pay the Guardians back in a lump sum.

MUSKERRY If I resigned now, where would I go to?

MRS. CRILLY It was always understood that you would stay with us.

MUSKERRY No, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY You'll have the place to yourself. The boys will be going to school, and Albert will be away, too. Anna and myself will look after you.

MUSKERRY I could stay for a while.

MRS. CRILLY Oh, well, if you have a better place to go—

MUSKERRY Remember what I said, Marianne. I've worked for you and yours, in season and out of season. There should be no more claims on me.

MRS. CRILLY There are no more claims on you.

MUSKERRY I'm willing to leave in the shop what I put into the shop. Let Anna know that it will come to her from me. I'll write to the Guardians to-night and I'll send in my resignation. I venture to think that they'll know their loss.

Mrs. Crilly goes out quietly by corridor door.

MUSKERRY (by himself) And I had made this place as fit for me as the nest for the wren. Wasn't he glad to write that card, the impudent rascal, with his tongue in his cheek? I'll consider it again. I won't leave this place till it fits myself to leave it.

Christy Clarice enters by corridor door with papers.

MUSKERRY They want me to resign from this place, Christy.

CHRISTY You're thirty years here! Aren't you, Mister Muskerry?

MUSKERRY Thirty years, thirty years. Ay, Christy, thirty years; it's a long time. And I'm at my failing time. Perhaps I'm not able to do any more. Day after day there would be troubles here, and I wouldn't be able to face them. And in the end I might lose my position. I'm going to write out my resignation. (He goes to the desk and writes. Christy is at table. Muskerry turns round after writing)

MUSKERRY No one that comes here can have the same heart for the poor that I had. I was earning in the year of the famine. I saw able men struggling to get the work that would bring them a handful of Indian meal. And I saw the little children waiting on the roads for relief. (He turns back and goes on with letter. Suddenly a bell in the House begins to toll) What's that for, Christy?

CHRISTY Malachi O'Rourk, the Prince, as they called him, is dead.

MUSKERRY Aye, I gave orders to toll him when he died. He was an estated gentleman, and songs were made about his family. People used to annoy him, but he's gone from them now. Bring me a little whisky, Christy.

Christy goes to Cabinet. Muskerry follows him.

CHRISTY There's none in the bottle, Mister Muskerry.

MUSKERRY (bitterly) No, I suppose not. And is that rascal, Albert Crilly, coming back?

CHRISTY He's coming, Mister Muskerry. I left the novelette on the table. Miss Coghlan says it's a nice love story. "The Heart of Angelina," it is called.

MUSKERRY I haven't the heart to read.

The bell continues to toll. Christy goes to door.

CHRISTY Good night, Mister Muskerry.

MUSKERRY Good night, Christy.

Christy Clarke goes out through apartments. Thomas Muskerry is standing with hand on arm chair. The bell tolls.



In Crilly's, a month later. The room is the parlour off the shop. A glass door, right, leads into the shop, and the fireplace is above this door. In the back, right, is a cupboard door. Back is a window looking on the street. A door, left, leads to other rooms. There is a table near shop door and a horse-hair sofa back, an armchair at fire, and two leather-covered chairs about. Conventional pictures on walls, and two certificates framed, showing that some one in the house has passed some Intermediate examinations.

It is the forenoon of an April day. Mrs. Crilly is seated on sofa, going through a heap of account books. Anna Crilly is at window. Crofton Crilly enters from the shop.

CRILLY It's all right, Marianne.


CRILLY The Guardians insisted on appointing an outside person to take stock of the workhouse stores. It's the new regulation, you know. Well, the job lay between young Dobbs and Albert, and Albert has got it. I don't say but it was a near thing.

MRS. CRILLY I hope Albert will know what to do.

CRILLY He'll want to watch the points. Where's the Master?

MRS. CRILLY He's in his room upstairs.

CRILLY Was he not out this morning?

MRS. CRILLY He's not dressed yet.

CRILLY He was more particular when he was in the workhouse.

ANNA I know who those two children are now. They are the new gas-manager's children.

CRILLY He's a Scotchman.

ANNA And married for the second time. Mother, Mrs. Dunne is going to the races. Such a sketch of a hat.

MRS. CRILLY It would be better for her if she stayed at home and looked after her business.

ANNA She won't have much business to look after soon. That's the third time her husband has come out of Farrell's public-house.

CRILLY He's drinking with the Dispensary Doctor. Companions! They're the curse of this town, Marianne. (He sits down)

ANNA She's walked into a blind man, hat and all. He's from the Workhouse.

CRILLY He's the blind piper out of the workhouse, Myles Gorman.

MRS. CRILLY There's no one within. You should go into the shop, Anna.

ANNA Yes, mother. (She crosses) James Scollard is coming in, mother.

MRS. CRILLY Very well, Anna. Stay in the shop until Mary comes.

Anna goes into the shop. Crilly moves about.

MRS. CRILLY You're very uneasy.

CRILLY Yes, I am uneasy, Marianne. There's some presentment on me. Fifty pounds a year is a good pension for the old man. He's a month out now. He ought to be getting an instalment.

Anna comes in from shop.

ANNA Mother, the doctor's daughter is in the shop.

MRS. CRILLY What does she want?

ANNA (imitating an accent) Send up a pound of butter, two pounds of sugar, and a pound of tea.

MRS. CRILLY These people are paying nobody. But we can't refuse her. I suppose we'll have to send them up. Be very distant with her, Anna.

ANNA I've kept her waiting. Here's a letter, mother.

MRS. CRILLY (taking letter) When did it come, Anna?

ANNA It's just handed in.

Anna goes out. Mrs. Crilly opens letter.

MRS. CRILLY It's from the bank. They want me to call. What does the bank manager want with me, I wonder?

CRILLY I have something to tell you, Marianne. I'll tell you in a while. (He takes a turn up and down)

MRS. CRILLY What do you want to tell me?

CRILLY Prepare your mind, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY What is it?

CRILLY I owe you money, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY Money! How do you owe me money?

CRILLY That cute boy, James Covey, who took in all the town—

MRS. CRILLY (rising) Covey! My God! You backed a bill for him?

CRILLY I'll make a clean breast of it. I did.

MRS. CRILLY (with fear in her eyes) How much is it?

CRILLY (walking away to window) I'll come to that, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY Did any one back the bill with you?

CRILLY I obliged the fellow. No one backed the bill with me.

MRS. CRILLY Does any one know of it?

CRILLY No, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY The bank.... Tell me what happened.

CRILLY The bank manager sent for me when he came to the town after Covey cleared.

MRS. CRILLY We had four hundred pounds in the bank.

CRILLY We had, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY Tell me how much was the bill.

CRILLY There's no use in beating about the bush. The bill was for three hundred pounds.

MRS. CRILLY And what has the bank done?

CRILLY I'm sorry to say, Marianne, the bank has taken the money over from our account.

MRS. CRILLY You've ruined us at last, Crofton Crilly.

CRILLY You should never forgive me, Marianne. I'll go to America and begin life again. (He turns to go out by shop)

MRS. CRILLY We have no money left.

CRILLY A hundred pounds, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY That's Anna's money.

CRILLY Scollard should be satisfied.

MRS. CRILLY Anna insists on getting her money.

CRILLY Very well, Marianne. I'll leave it all to yourself.

James Scollard comes in. Anna is behind him. Scollard has an account book in his hand.

SCOLLARD Good morning, Mrs. Crilly. Good morning, Mr. Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY Good morning, Mr. Scollard.

Crofton Crilly turns to go.

ANNA Don't go, father.

SCOLLARD Don't go, Mr. Crilly. I have something particular to say to yourself and Mrs. Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY Sit down, Mr. Scollard.

Anna brings chair, and Scollard sits center. Anna stands behind him. Mrs. Crilly sits left of him.

SCOLLARD I am here to propose for the hand of your daughter, Miss Anna Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY We have nothing to say against your proposal, Mr. Scollard.

CRILLY Won't you take something, James?

SCOLLARD No, thanks, Mr. Crilly. I never touch intoxicants.

Crofton Crilly goes into shop.

MRS. CRILLY We couldn't wish for a better match for Anna. But I feel bound to tell you, Mr. Scollard, that we have had a very severe loss in our business.

ANNA What is it, mother?

MRS. CRILLY I don't mind telling you. Mr. Crilly has made himself responsible for a bill on the bank.

SCOLLARD In whose interest, Mrs. Crilly?

MRS. CRILLY He backed a bill for James Covey. A bill for three hundred pounds.

ANNA Oh, mother!

MRS. CRILLY It's a dead sure loss. I don't know what we are to do, Anna.

SCOLLARD This is very bad, Mrs. Crilly.

Crofton Crilly comes back from shop. He brings in a glass of whisky. He puts whisky on chimney-piece.

MRS. CRILLY The bank has taken over three hundred pounds from our account.

CRILLY Perhaps Scollard—

SCOLLARD What were you saying, Mr. Crilly?

CRILLY Oh, I was just thinking—about a bill you know—If some one would go security for us at the bank—

ANNA Father, what are you saying?

MRS. CRILLY It's unnecessary to talk like that. In spite of your foolishness, we still have a balance at the bank.

ANNA My portion comes to me from my grandmother.

SCOLLARD May I ask, Mrs. Crilly, is Miss Crilly's portion safe?

MRS. CRILLY It is safe, Mr. Scollard.

SCOLLARD I have been definitely appointed Master of the Union, and I may say that Anna and myself are anxious to marry.

MRS. CRILLY It needn't be soon, Mr. Scollard.

SCOLLARD After Easter, Mrs. Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY But that's very soon.

SCOLLARD I am anxious to settle down, Mrs. Crilly. I'm on my way to a meeting of the Board of Guardians, but before I go I'd like to have some more information about your loss.

MRS. CRILLY Anna's portion is not touched, but we could hardly afford to let the money go from us now.

SCOLLARD Is that so, Mrs. Crilly?

MRS. CRILLY Three hundred pounds is a very severe loss.

SCOLLARD Very severe, indeed. Still, you understand, Mrs. Crilly, the difficulties of taking such a step as marriage without adequate provision.

CRILLY Damn it all, man, Marianne and myself married without anything at all.

MRS. CRILLY (bitterly) Anna won't be such a fool as her mother.

CRILLY Well, Scollard has his position, and we helped him to it.

SCOLLARD I acknowledge that.

ANNA Isn't my portion eighty pounds, mother?

MRS. CRILLY Yes, Anna. But I'd like to tell Mr. Scollard that it would come as a strain on us to let the money go at once.

SCOLLARD I daresay, Mrs. Crilly.

ANNA But, mother, wouldn't the money be safer with us?

MRS. CRILLY Well, I leave the whole thing in the hands of Mr. Scollard.

SCOLLARD Anna and myself have been talking things over, Mrs. Crilly.

ANNA And we don't want to begin life in a poor way.

SCOLLARD We see the advantage of being always solvent, Mrs. Crilly.

ANNA James has ambitions, and there's no reason why he shouldn't venture for the post of Secretary of the County Council when old Mr. Dobbs retires.

SCOLLARD In a few years, Mrs. Crilly, when I had more official experience and some reputation.

ANNA Then he would have seven or eight hundred a year.

SCOLLARD As I said, a man like myself would want to be in a perfectly solvent position.

ANNA Besides, James has no money of his own.

SCOLLARD I never had the chance of putting money by—Family calls, Mrs. Crilly.

ANNA And we don't want to begin life in a poor way.

MRS. CRILLY You won't want the whole of the money. I'll give you forty pounds now.

CRILLY And forty when the first child is born.

ANNA Oh, father, how can you say such a thing?

SCOLLARD I need only say this. Anna and myself were talking over affairs, and we came to the conclusion it would be best not to start with less than eighty pounds. (He rises) I have to go down to the Board Room now, for there is a meeting of the Guardians. (He goes towards door)

CRILLY Won't you take a glass?

SCOLLARD No, thanks, Mr. Crilly. I never touch stimulants. Good day to you all.

He goes out. Crofton Crilly goes after him.

MRS. CRILLY Anna, you won't be deprived of your money.

ANNA Then what's the difficulty, mother?

MRS. CRILLY Let half of the money remain with us for a while.

ANNA But, mother, if I don't get all my money, what security have I that what's left will be good in six months or a year?

MRS. CRILLY I'll watch the money for you, Anna.

ANNA It's hard to keep a hold on money in a town where business is going down.

MRS. CRILLY Forty pounds will be given to you and forty pounds will be kept safe for you.

ANNA Forty pounds! There's not a small farmer comes into the shop but his daughter has more of a dowry than forty pounds.

MRS. CRILLY Think of all who marry without a dowry at all.

ANNA You wouldn't have me go to James Scollard without a dowry?

MRS. CRILLY Well, you know the way we're situated. If you insist on getting eighty pounds we'll have to make an overdraft on the bank, and, in the way business is, I don't know how we'll ever recover it.

ANNA There won't be much left out of eighty pounds when we get what suits us in furniture.

MRS. CRILLY I could let you have some furniture.

ANNA No, mother. We want to start in a way that is different from this house.

MRS. CRILLY You'll want all the money together?

ANNA All of it, mother.

MRS. CRILLY You'll have to get it so. But you're very hard, Anna.

ANNA This house would teach any one to look to themselves.

MRS. CRILLY Come upstairs. (Anna goes, left) Three hundred pounds of a loss. Eighty pounds with that. I'm terrified when I think. (She goes after Anna)

Crofton Crilly comes in from shop. He takes glass of whisky from table, and sits down in arm chair.

CRILLY I don't know what Marianne's to do at all. She has a shocking lot to contend with. Can anything be got from the old man, I wonder?

Albert Crilly comes in by door, left.

ALBERT Well, pa.

CRILLY Well, Albert. What's the news in the town, Albert?

ALBERT They say that you've backed a bill for Covey.

CRILLY If your mother hears that kind of talk she'll be vexed, Albert.

ALBERT But did you back the bill?

CRILLY For Heaven's sake, let me alone, Albert. Yes, I backed the bill.

ALBERT How much?

CRILLY You'll hear all about it from your mother.

ALBERT They say the bill was for three hundred.

CRILLY It was three or thereabouts.

ALBERT 'Pon my word, father, the mother will have to take out a mandamus against you.

CRILLY (with parental dignity) Don't talk to me in that way, Sir.

ALBERT It's scandalous, really. I expect you've ruined the business.

CRILLY I hate the world and all its works and pomps.

ALBERT I believe you've done for the business. I'm going away.

CRILLY Then you've got the other appointment?

ALBERT Temporary clerkship in the Land Department. I wonder would the mother let me have the money for clothes?

CRILLY (desperately) Don't mention it at all to her.

ALBERT I have a card from a Dublin tailor in my pocket. If I could pay him for one suit, I could get another on tick.

CRILLY I tell you not to talk to your mother about money. That fellow, Scollard, has put her out.

ALBERT How's that?

CRILLY Money again. Wants the whole of Anna's portion down. And Anna's backing him up, too. I don't know how your mother can stand it. I don't like Scollard. Then you won't be staying on, Albert, to do the stocktaking in the Workhouse?

ALBERT No; they'll have to get some one else. I'm glad to be out of that job.

CRILLY I'm not sorry, Albert.

ALBERT The mother would expect me to do something queer in my report.

CRILLY Between you and me, Albert, women aren't acquainted with the working of affairs, and they expect unusual things to happen. Who will they make stocktaker, now?

ALBERT Young Dobbs, likely. I suppose the whole business about the coal will come out then?

CRILLY I suppose it will; but say nothing about it now, Albert. Let the hare sit.

ALBERT What does the old man think about it now?

CRILLY He's very close to himself. I think he has forgotten all about it.

ALBERT I wouldn't say so.

CRILLY Who's that in the shop, Albert?

ALBERT Felix Tournour.

CRILLY (rising) I wonder what they think about Scollard in the Poor-house. (He and Albert go into the shop as Muskerry enters from left)

Muskerry is untidily dressed. His boots are unlaced. He walks across the room and speaks pettishly.

MUSKERRY They haven't brought my soup yet. They won't give much of their time to me. I'm disappointed in Anna Crilly. Well, a certain share in this shop was to have gone to Anna Crilly. I'll get that share, and I'll hoard it up myself. I'll hoard it up. And the fifty pounds of my pension, I'll hoard that up, too.

Albert comes in from shop.

MUSKERRY That's a black fire that's in the grate. I don't like the coal that comes into this place.

ALBERT Coal, eh, grandpapa.

MUSKERRY I said coal.

ALBERT We haven't good stores here.

MUSKERRY Confound you for your insolence.

ALBERT Somebody you know is in the shop—Felix Tournour.

MUSKERRY Bid Tournour come in to me.

ALBERT (talking into the shop) You're wanted here, Tournour. Come in now or I'll entertain the boss with "The Devil's Rambles." (He turns to Muskerry) I was given the job of stocktaking.

MUSKERRY That's a matter for yourself.

ALBERT I don't think I'll take the job now.

MUSKERRY Why won't you take it?

ALBERT I don't know what to say about the fifty tons of coal.

MUSKERRY I was too precipitate about the coal. But don't have me at the loss of fifty pounds through any of your smartness.

ALBERT All right, grandfather; I'll see you through.

MUSKERRY Confound you for a puppy.

Felix Tournour enters. He looks prosperous. He has on a loud check suit. He wears a red tie and a peaked cap.

ALBERT The Master wants to speak to you, Tournour.

TOURNOUR What Master.

ALBERT The boss, Tournour, the boss.

MUSKERRY I want you, and that's enough for you, Tournour.

ALBERT I suppose you don't know, grandpapa, that Tournour has a middling high position in the Poorhouse now.

MUSKERRY What are you saying?

ALBERT Tournour is Ward-master now.

MUSKERRY I wasn't given any notice of that.

ALBERT Eh, Tournour—

"The Devil went out for a ramble at night, Through Garrisowen Union to see every sight. He saw Felix Tournour—"


"He saw one in comfort, of that you'll be sure. With his back to the fire stands Felix Tournour,"

He puts his back to fire.

ALBERT Well, so-long, gents. (He goes out by shop door)

MUSKERRY Let me see you, Tournour.

TOURNOUR I'm plain to be seen.

MUSKERRY Who recommended you for Ward-master?

TOURNOUR Them that had the power.

MUSKERRY I would not have done it, Tournour.

TOURNOUR No. And still, d'ye see, I'm up and not down. Well, I'll be going.

MUSKERRY Come back here, Tournour. I made it a rule that no Ward-master should let drink be brought in to the paupers.

TOURNOUR It's a pity you're not Master still!

MUSKERRY What are you saying?

TOURNOUR It's a pity that you're not still the Master over us.

MUSKERRY Tournour, you're forgetting yourself.

TOURNOUR Well, maybe you are still the Master.

MUSKERRY How dare you speak to me with such effrontery? How dare you?

TOURNOUR I dunno. I'm going away now, if your honour has nothing more to say to me. (He turns to go)

MUSKERRY You shall not. You shall not, I say.


MUSKERRY You shall not go away until you've apologised to me.

TOURNOUR Don't be talking, Thomas Muskerry. You're not Master over me.

MUSKERRY Not the Master over you?

TOURNOUR No. There's an end to your sway, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY Go out of the house. No, stay here. You think I'm out of the Workhouse. No. That's not so. I've claims, great claims, on it still. Not for nothing was I there for thirty years, the pattern for the officials of Ireland.

TOURNOUR Twenty-nine years, I'm telling you.

MUSKERRY The Guardians will take account of me.

TOURNOUR And maybe they would, too.

MUSKERRY What's that you're saying?

TOURNOUR The Guardians might take an account of Thomas Muskerry in a way he mightn't like. (He goes to door)

MUSKERRY Come back here, Felix Tournour.

TOURNOUR I'm not your sub-servant.

MUSKERRY Stand here before me.

TOURNOUR You and your before me! Your back to heaven and your belly to hell.

MUSKERRY Go away. Go away out of this.

TOURNOUR Don't try to down-face me. I know something about you.

MUSKERRY About me!

TOURNOUR Aye, you and your fifty tons of coal. (Muskerry goes back from him) Great claims on the Workhouse have you. The Guardians will take account of you. Will they? Talk to them about the fifty tons of coal. Go and do that, my pattern of the officials of Ireland!

Tournour goes out by shop. Muskerry stands with his hands on the arm chair.

MUSKERRY This minute I'll go down to the Guardians and make my complaint. (He notices his appearance) I'm going about all day with my boots unlaced. I'm falling into bad ways, bad, slovenly ways. And my coat needs brushing, too. (He takes off his coat and goes to window and brushes it) That's Myles Gorman going back to the Workhouse. I couldn't walk with my head held as high as that. In this house I am losing my uprightness. I'll do more than lace my boots and brush my coat. I'll go down to the Guardians and I'll pay them back their fifty pounds.

Anna Crilly comes in from left with a bowl of soup.

ANNA Here's your soup, grandpapa.

MUSKERRY I can't take it now, Anna. (He puts on his coat)

ANNA Are you going out, grandpapa?

MUSKERRY I'm going before the meeting of the Board of Guardians.

ANNA Are you, grandpapa?

MUSKERRY Yes, Anna, I am. I'm going to pay them back their fifty pounds.

ANNA And have you the fifty pounds?

MUSKERRY Your mother has it for me.

ANNA Sit down, grandpapa, and take your soup.

MUSKERRY No, Anna, I won't take anything until my mind is at rest about the coal. A certain person has spoken to me in a way I'll never submit to be spoken to again.

Mrs. Crilly comes in.

MRS. CRILLY What has happened to you?

MUSKERRY Felix Tournour knows about the coal, Marianne. He can disgrace me before the world.

ANNA And grandpapa wants to go before the Guardians and pay them back the fifty pounds.

MRS. CRILLY Wait until we consult Mr. Scollard.

Anna goes out.

MUSKERRY No, Marianne. I'm not going to be a party to this any longer. I'm going before the Guardians, and I'll pay them back their fifty pounds.

MRS. CRILLY Fifty pounds. From what place is fifty pounds to come so easily?

MUSKERRY I'll ask you to give me the fifty pounds, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY I'll do no such thing. Anna is getting married, and she claims her fortune.

MUSKERRY Anna getting married. This was kept from me. And who is Anna getting married to?

MRS. CRILLY To James Scollard.

MUSKERRY To James Scollard. And so Anna is getting married to my successor, James Scollard. My successor. How well I knew there was some such scheme behind shifting me out of the Workhouse. And Anna Crilly was against me all the time. Well, well, well. I'll remember this.

MRS. CRILLY I'm at great losses since you came here.

MUSKERRY I'm at greater losses, Marianne.

MRS. CRILLY What losses are you at?

MUSKERRY The loss of my trust, the loss of my dignity, my self-respect, and—

MRS. CRILLY I think we did all we could for you.

MUSKERRY I'm going out now to pay back the Guardians the sum due to them from me. I want fifty pounds from you. I claim it, and I have a right to claim it.

MRS. CRILLY We have no money at all. Listen. Crofton Crilly backed a bill for James Covey, and three hundred pounds has been taken from our account.

MUSKERRY Three hundred pounds!

MRS. CRILLY Yes. Three hundred pounds.

MUSKERRY He backed a bill for three hundred pounds. And do you think, Marianne Crilly, there can be any luck, in a house where such a thing could happen? I tell you there is no luck nor grace in your house. (He puts on his hat and goes to cupboard to get his stick. He opens the cupboard. He turns round)

MUSKERRY (greatly moved) My God, my God. I'm made cry at the things that happen in this house.

MRS. CRILLY What is it?

MUSKERRY The good meat I brought in. There it is on the floor and the cat mangling it. I'll go out of this house, and I'll never put foot into it again.

MRS. CRILLY And where will you go?

MUSKERRY I'll go before the Board of Guardians and I'll ask them to provide for me.

MRS. CRILLY What do you want me to do for you?

MUSKERRY Give me fifty pounds, so that I can pay them off now.

MRS. CRILLY Haven't I told you the way I'm straitened for money?

MUSKERRY You have still in the bank what would save my name.

MRS. CRILLY Don't be unreasonable. I have to provide for my children.

MUSKERRY Your children. Yes, you have to provide for your children. I provided for them long enough. And now you would take my place, my honour, and my self-respect, and provide for them over again. (He goes out)

MRS. CRILLY I'll have to put up with this, too.

Anna re-enters.

ANNA Where has he gone, mother?

MRS. CRILLY He has gone down to the Workhouse.

ANNA What is he going to do, mother?

MRS. CRILLY He says he will ask the Guardians to provide for him.

ANNA It's not likely they'll do that for a man with a pension of fifty pounds a year.

MRS. CRILLY I don't know what will happen to us.

ANNA He'll come back, mother.

MRS. CRILLY He will. But everything will have been made public, and the money will have to be paid.

ANNA (at the window) There he is going down the street, mother.

MRS. CRILLY Which way?

ANNA Towards the Workhouse. And here's the doctor's daughter coming into the shop again, mother.

MRS. CRILLY I'll go out and see her myself. (As she goes out she hands Anna a cheque) That's the last cheque I'll be able to make out. There's your eighty pounds, Anna. (She goes into the shop)

ANNA We can begin to get the furniture now.

She sits down at the table and makes some calculation with a pencil.



The infirm ward in the Workhouse. Entrance from corridor, right. Forward, left, are three beds with bedding folded upon them. Back, left, is a door leading into Select Ward. This door is closed, and a large key is in lock. Fireplace with a grating around it, left. Back, right, is a window with little leaded panes.

It is noon on a May day, but the light inside the ward is feeble.

Two paupers are seated at fire. One of them, Mickie Cripes, is a man of fifty, stooped and hollow-chested, but with quick blue eyes. The other man, Tom Shanley, is not old, but he looks broken and listless. Myles Gorman, still in pauper dress, is standing before window, an expectant look on his face.

Thomas Muskerry enters from corridor. He wears his own clothes, but he has let them get into disorder. His hair and beard are disordered, and he seems very much broken down. Nevertheless, he looks as if his mind were composed.

MUSKERRY It's dark in here, Michael.

GRIPES It is, sir.

MUSKERRY I find it very spiritless after coming up from the chapel. Don't pass your whole day here. Go down into the yard. (He stands before the window) This is the first fine day, and you ought to go out along the country road. Ask the Master for leave. It's the month of May, and you'll be glad of the sight of the grass and the smell of the bushes. Now here's a remarkable thing. I venture to think that the like of this has never happened before. Here are the bees swarming at the window pane.

GORMAN You'll hear my pipes on the road to-day. That's as sure as the right hand is on my body. (He goes out by corridor door)

CRIPES Myles Gorman must have been glad to hear that buzzing.

MUSKERRY Why was Myles glad to hear it?

SHANLEY He was leaving on the first fine day.

CRIPES The buzzing at the pane would let any one know that the air is nice for a journey.

MUSKERRY I am leaving to-day, myself.

CRIPES And where are you going, Mr. Muskerry?

MUSKERRY I'm going to a place of my own.

Muskerry goes into the Select Ward.

CRIPES I'll tell you what brought Thomas Muskerry back to the workhouse to be an inmate in it. Living in a bad house. Living with his own. That's what brought him back. And that's what left me here, too.

SHANLEY (listlessly) The others have the flour, and we may hawk the bran.

An old pauper comes into the ward. His face looks bleached. He has the handle of a sweeping-brush for a staff. He moves about the ward, muttering to himself. He seats himself on chair, right.

THE OLD MAN (speaking as if thinking aloud) I was at twelve o'clock Mass. Now one o'clock would be a late Mass. I was at Mass at one o'clock. Wouldn't that be a long time to keep a priest, and he fasting the whole time?

CRIPES I'll tell you what Thomas Muskerry did when he left the bad house he was in. (He puts coal on the fire)

THE OLD MAN I was at one o'clock Mass in Skibbereen. I know where Skibbereen is well. In the County Cork. Cork is a big county. As big as Dublin and Wicklow. That's where the people died when there was the hunger.

CRIPES He came before the meeting of the Guardians, and he told them he owed them the whole of his year's pension. Then he got some sort of a stroke, and he broke down. And the Guardians gave him the Select Ward there for himself.

SHANLEY They did well for him.

CRIPES Why wouldn't they give him the Select Ward? It's right that he'd get the little room, and not have to make down the pauper's bed with the rest of us.

SHANLEY He was at the altar to-day, and he stayed in the chapel after Mass.

CRIPES He'll be here shortly.

THE OLD MAN Skibbereen! That's where the people died when there was the hunger. Men and women without coffins, or even their clothes off. Just buried. Skibbereen I remember well, for I was a whole man then. And the village. For there are people living in it yet. They didn't all die.

SHANLEY We'll have somebody else in the Select Ward this evening.

CRIPES That's what they were talking about. The nuns are sending a patient up here.

SHANLEY I suppose the Ward-master will be in here to regulate the room. (He rises)

CRIPES Aye, the Ward-master. Felix Tournour, the Ward-master. You've come to your own place at last, Felix Tournour.

SHANLEY Felix Tournour will be coming the master over me if he finds me here. (Shanley goes out)

CRIPES Felix Tournour! That's the lad that will be coming in with his head up like the gander that's after beating down a child.

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