Three Plays
by Padraic Colum
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Christy Clarice enters. He carries a little portmanteau.

CHRISTY Is Mr. Muskerry here?

CRIPES He's in the room. (A sound of water splashing and the movements of a heavy person are heard) Will you be speaking with him, young fellow?


CRIPES Tell him, like a good little boy, that the oul' men would be under a favour to him if he left a bit of tobacco. You won't forget that?

CHRISTY I won't forget it.

CRIPES I don't want to be in the way of Felix Tournour. We're going down to the yard, but we'll see Mr. Muskerry when he's going away.

Cripes goes out.

MUSKERRY (within) Is that you, Christy Clarke?

CHRISTY It is, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY Have you any news, Christy?

CHRISTY No news, except that my mother is in the cottage, and is expecting you to-day.

MUSKERRY I'll be in the cottage to-day, Christy. I'm cleaning myself. (A sound of splashing and moving about) The Guardians were good to get the little house for me. I'd as lieve be there as in a mansion. There's about half an acre of land to the place, and I'll do work on the ground from time to time, for it's a good thing for a man to get the smell of the clay.

CHRISTY And how are you in health, Mr. Muskerry?

MUSKERRY I'm very well in health. I was anointed, you know, and after that I mended miraculously.

CHRISTY And what about the pension?

MUSKERRY I'm getting three hundred pounds. They asked me to realize the pension. I hope I have life enough before me. (He comes out. He has on trousers, coat, and starched shirt. The shirt is soiled and crushed)

MUSKERRY On Saturdays I'll do my marketing. I'll come into the town, and I'll buy the bit of meat for my dinner on Sunday. But what are you doing with this portmanteau, Christy?

CHRISTY I'm going away myself.

MUSKERRY To a situation, is it?

CHRISTY To a situation in Dublin.

MUSKERRY I wish you luck, Christy. (He shakes hands with the boy, and sits down on a chair) I was dreaming on new things all last night. New shirts, new sheets, everything new.

CHRISTY I want to be something.

MUSKERRY What do you want to be?

CHRISTY A writer.

MUSKERRY A writer of books, is it?

CHRISTY Yes, a writer of books.

MUSKERRY Listen, now, and tell me do you hear anything. That's the sound of bees swarming at the window. That's a good augury for you, Christy.

CHRISTY All life's before me.

MUSKERRY Will you give heed to what I tell you?

CHRISTY I'll give heed to it, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY Live a good life.

CHRISTY I give heed to you.

MUSKERRY Your mother had great hardship in rearing you.

CHRISTY I know that, Mr. Muskerry, but now I'm able for the world.

MUSKERRY I wish success to all your efforts. Be very careful of your personal appearance.

CHRISTY I will, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY Get yourself a new cravat before you leave the town.

CHRISTY I'll get it.

MUSKERRY I think I'd look better myself if I had a fresher shirt.

CHRISTY I saw clean shirts of yours before the fire last night in my mother's house.

MUSKERRY I wish I could get one before I leave this place.

CHRISTY Will I run off and get one for you?

MUSKERRY Would you, Christy? Would it be too much trouble?

Muskerry rises.

CHRISTY I'll go now.

MUSKERRY You're a very willing boy, Christy, and you're sure to get on. (He goes to a little broken mirror on the wall) I am white and loose of flesh, and that's not a good sign with me, Christy. I'll tell you something. If I were staying here to-night, it's the pauper's bed I'd have to sleep on.

Mrs. Crilly comes to the door.

MRS. CRILLY Well, I see you're making ready for your departure.

MUSKERRY (who has become uneasy) I am ready for my departure.

MRS. CRILLY And this young man has come for you, I suppose?

MUSKERRY This young man is minding his own business.

CHRISTY I'm going out now to get a shirt for the Master.

MRS. CRILLY A starched shirt, I suppose, Christy. Go down to our house, and tell Mary to give you one of the shirts that are folded up.

MUSKERRY The boy will go where he was bid go.

MRS. CRILLY Oh, very well. Run, Christy, and do the message for the Master.

Christy Clarke goes out.

MUSKERRY I don't know what brought you here to-day.

MRS. CRILLY Well, I wanted to see you.

MUSKERRY You could come to see me when I was settled down.

MRS. CRILLY Settled in the cottage the Guardians have given you?

MUSKERRY Yes, ma'am.

MRS. CRILLY (with nervous excitement, restrained) No one of us will ever go near the place.

MUSKERRY Well, you'll please yourself.

MRS. CRILLY You put a slight on us all when you go there to live.

MUSKERRY Well, I've lived with you to my own loss.

MRS. CRILLY Our house is the best house in the town, and I'm the nearest person to you.

MUSKERRY Say nothing more about that.

MRS. CRILLY Well, maybe you do right not to live with us, but you ought not to forsake us altogether.

MUSKERRY And what do you mean by forsaking you altogether?

MRS. CRILLY When you leave the place and do not even turn your step in our direction it's a sign to all who want to know that you forsake us altogether.

MUSKERRY What do you want me to do?

MRS. CRILLY Come up to Cross Street with me, have dinner and spend the night with us. People would have less to talk about if you did that.

MUSKERRY You always have a scheme.

MRS. CRILLY Come to us for this evening itself.

MUSKERRY I wish you wouldn't trouble me, woman. Can't you see that when I go out of this I want to go to my own place?

MRS. CRILLY You can go there to-morrow.

MUSKERRY Preparations are made for me.

MRS. CRILLY You don't know what preparations.

MUSKERRY Two pounds of the best beef-steak were ordered to be sent up to-day.

MRS. CRILLY I wouldn't trust that woman, Mrs. Clarke, to cook potatoes.

MUSKERRY Well, I'll trust her, ma'am.

MRS. CRILLY (taking Muskerry's sleeve) Don't go to-day, anyway.

MUSKERRY You're very anxious to get me to come with you. What do you want from me?

MRS. CRILLY We want nothing from you. You know how insecure our business is. When it's known in the town that you forsake us, everybody will close in on us.

MUSKERRY God knows I did everything that a man could do for you and yours. I won't forget you. I haven't much life left to me, and I want to live to myself.

MRS. CRILLY I know. Sure I lie awake at night, too tired to sleep, and long to get away from the things that are pressing in on me. I know that people are glad of their own way, and glad to live in the way that they like. When I heard the birds stirring I cried to be away in some place where I won't hear the thing that's always knocking at my head. The business has to be minded, and it's slipping away from us like water. And listen, if my confinement comes on me and I worried as I was last year, nothing can save me. I'll die, surely.

MUSKERRY (moved) What more do you want me to do?

MRS. CRILLY Stay with us for a while, so that we'll have the name of your support.

MUSKERRY I'll come back to you in a week.

MRS. CRILLY That wouldn't do at all. There's a reason for what I ask. The town must know that you are with us from the time you leave this.

MUSKERRY (with emotion) God help me with you all, and God direct me what to do.

MRS. CRILLY It's not in you to let us down.

Muskerry turns away. His head is bent. Mrs. Crilly goes to him.

MUSKERRY Will you never be done taking from me? I want to leave this and go to a place of my own.

Muskerry puts his hand to his eyes. When he lowers his hand again Mrs. Crilly lays hers in it. Christy Clarke comes in. Muskerry turns to him. Muskerry has been crying.

MUSKERRY Well, Christy, I'll be sending you back on another message.

Mrs. Crilly makes a sign to Christy not to speak.

MUSKERRY Go to your mother and tell her—-

CHRISTY I met my mother outside.

MUSKERRY Did she get the things that were sent to her?

CHRISTY My mother was sent away from the cottage.

MUSKERRY Who sent your mother away from the cottage?

CHRISTY Mrs. Crilly sent her away.

MUSKERRY And why did you do that, ma'am?

MRS. CRILLY I sent Mary to help to prepare the place for you, and the woman was impertinent to Mary—

MUSKERRY Well, ma'am?

MRS. CRILLY I sent the woman away.

MUSKERRY And so you take it on yourself to dispose of the servants in my house?

MRS. CRILLY I daresay you'll take the woman's part against my daughter.

MUSKERRY No, ma'am, I'll take no one's side, but I'll tell you this. I want my own life, and I won't be interfered with.

MRS. CRILLY I'm sorry for what occurred, and I'll apologise to the boy's mother if you like.

MUSKERRY I won't be interfered with, I tell you. From this day out I'm free of my own life. And now, Christy Clarke, go down stairs and tell the Master, Mr. Scollard, that I want to see him.

Christy Clarice goes out.

MRS. CRILLY I may as well tell you something else. None of the things you ordered were sent up to the cottage.

MUSKERRY Do you tell me that?

MRS. CRILLY I went round to the shop, and everything you ordered was sent to us.

MUSKERRY And what is the meaning of that, ma'am?

MRS. CRILLY If the town knew you were going from us, in a week we would have to put up the shutters.

MUSKERRY Well, I'll walk out of this, and when I come to the road I'll go my own way.

MRS. CRILLY We can't prevent you.

MUSKERRY No, ma'am, you can't prevent me.

MRS. CRILLY You've got your discharge, I suppose?

MUSKERRY I've given three hours' notice, and I'll get my discharge now.

MRS. CRILLY (at corridor door) We can't prevent you going if you have the doctor's discharge.

MUSKERRY The doctor's discharge! He would have given it to me—

MRS. CRILLY You can't leave without the doctor's sanction.

MUSKERRY Out of this house I will go to-day.

James Scollard enters.

SCOLLARD I believe you want to see me, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY I do, Mr. Scollard. I am leaving the house.

SCOLLARD I will be glad to take up the necessary formalities for you, Mr. Muskerry.

MRS. CRILLY First of all, has the doctor marked my father off the infirmary list?

SCOLLARD No, Mrs. Crilly. Now that I recall the list, he has not.

MUSKERRY I waited after Mass to-day, and I missed seeing him.

MRS. CRILLY My father was seriously ill only a short time ago, and I do not believe he is in a fit state to leave the infirmary.

SCOLLARD That certainly has to be considered. Without the doctor explicitly sending you down to the body of the house you are hardly under my jurisdiction, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY Mr. Scollard, I ask you to give me leave to go out of the Workhouse for a day. You can do this on your own responsibility.

MRS. CRILLY In the present state of his mind it's not likely he would return to-night. Then if anything happened him your situation is at stake.

MUSKERRY I'm not a pauper. I'll go out of this to-day without leave or license from any of you.

SCOLLARD As you know yourself, Mr. Muskerry, it would be as much as my situation is worth to let you depart in that way.

MUSKERRY Well, go I will.

SCOLLARD I cannot permit it, Mr. Muskerry. I say it with the greatest respect.

MUSKERRY How long will you keep me here?

SCOLLARD Until the doctor visits the house.

MUSKERRY That will be on Monday morning.

SCOLLARD And this is Saturday, Mr. Muskerry.

MUSKERRY And where will you put me until Monday?

SCOLLARD Other arrangements will be made for you.

MUSKERRY It's the pauper's bed you would give me!

SCOLLARD The old arrangements will continue. Can I do anything further for you, Mr. Muskerry?

MUSKERRY No, you can do nothing further for me. It's a great deal you have done for me! It's the pauper's bed you have given me! (He goes into the Select Ward)

MRS. CRILLY Sit down, Mr. Scollard. I want to speak to you.

Mrs. Crilly seats herself at the table. Scollard sits down also.

MRS. CRILLY The bank manager is in the town to-day, and there are people waiting to tell him whether my father goes to our house or goes away from us.

SCOLLARD No doubt there are, Mrs. Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY But you have nothing to do with that, Mr. Scollard.

SCOLLARD No, Mrs. Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY I have my own battle to fight, and a hard battle it is. I have to make bits of myself to mind everything and be prepared for everything.

SCOLLARD No doubt, Mrs. Crilly.

MRS. CRILLY There are people who will blame me, but they cannot see into my mind.

SCOLLARD Will you come down to the parlour, Mrs. Crilly?

MRS. CRILLY Yes, I'll go down.

She remains seated, looking out steadily before her. Myles Gorman comes in. He is dressed in his own clothes.

SCOLLARD Well, Gorman, what brings you back to the ward?

GORMAN I just want to do something to my pipes, Master.

SCOLLARD Very well, Gorman. You have your discharge, and you are free to leave.

GORMAN Oh, in a while I'll be taking the road.

He seats himself at the fire and begins to fix the bag of his pipes.

SCOLLARD Now, Mrs. Crilly, come down to the parlour.


SCOLLARD Anna is waiting to see you.

MRS. CRILLY (rising) He will be well cared for here.

SCOLLARD He will, Mrs. Crilly. I will give him all attention.

MRS. CRILLY He expected to be in a different place to-day, but delay does little harm.

SCOLLARD Come down to the parlour, Mrs. Crilly, and drink a glass of wine with us.

They go out. The door of the Select Ward opens, and Thomas Muskerry appears. He has got a stroke. His breathing makes a noise in his mouth. As he moves he lags somewhat at the right knee. He carries his right hand at his breast. He moves slowly across ward. Felix Tournour enters, carrying a bunch of keys.

TOURNOUR And where are you going?

MUSKERRY (in a thickened voice) Ow—out. (Motioning with left hand. He moves across ward, and goes out on door of corridor)

TOURNOUR Well, you're not getting back to your snuggery, my oul' cod. (He goes into the Select Ward and begins to pitch Muskerry's belongings into the outer ward. First of all come the pillows and clothes off the bed) And there's your holy picture, and there's your holy book. (He comes out holding another book in official binding. He opens it and reads) "Marianne, born May the 20th, 1870." (He turns back some pages and reads) Thomas Muskerry wrote this, 1850—

"In the pleasant month of May, When the lambkins sport and play, As I roved out for recreation, I spied a comely maid, Sequestered in the shade, And on her beauty I gazed in admiration."

"I said I greatly fear That Mercury will draw near, As once he appeared unto Venus, Or as it might have been To the Carthaginian Queen, Or the Grecian Wight called Polyphemus."

Muskerry comes back to the ward. He stands looking stupidly at the heap Tournour has thrown out. Tournour throws down the book. Muskerry goes towards the open door of the ward. Felix Tournour closes the door deliberately turns the key and holds the key in his hand.

TOURNOUR You have no more to do with your snug little ward, Mr. Muskerry. (He puts the key on his bunch and goes out)

MUSKERRY (muttering with slack lips and cheeks) It's—it's—the pau—pauper's bed they've given me.

GORMAN (turning round his face) Who's there?

MUSKERRY It's—it's—Thomas Muskerry.

GORMAN Is that the Master?

MUSKERRY It's—it's the pauper's bed they've given me.

GORMAN Can I give you any hand, Master?

MUSKERRY I'll want to make—the bed. Give me a hand to make the bed. (Gorman comes over to him) My own sheet and blanket is here. I needn't lie on a pauper's sheet. Whose bed is this?

GORMAN It's the middle bed, Master. It's my own bed.

MUSKERRY (helplessly) What bed will I take, then?

GORMAN My bed. I won't be here.

MUSKERRY And where are you going?

GORMAN I'm leaving the house this day. I'll be going on the roads.

MUSKERRY Myles—Myles Gorman. The man that was without family or friends. Myles Gorman. Help me to lay down the mattress. Where will you sleep to-night, Myles Gorman?

GORMAN At Mrs. Muirnan's, a house between this and the town of Ballinagh. I haven't the money to pay, but she'll give me the place for to-night. Now, Master, I'll spread the sheet for you. (They spread the sheet on the bed.)

MUSKERRY Can you go down the stairs, Myles Gorman? I tried to get down the stairs and my legs failed me.

GORMAN One of the men will lead me down.

MUSKERRY (resting his hand on the bed and standing up) Sure one of the men will lead me down the stairs, too.

Myles Gorman spreads blanket on bed. He stands up, takes pipes, and is ready to go out. Muskerry becomes more feeble. He puts himself on the bed.

MUSKERRY Myles—Myles Gorman—come back.

GORMAN What will I do for you, Master?

MUSKERRY Say a prayer for me.

GORMAN What prayer will I say, Master?

MUSKERRY Say "God be good to Thomas Muskerry."

GORMAN (taking off his hat) "God be good to Thomas Muskerry, the man who was good to the poor." Is that all, Master?

MUSKERRY That's—that's all.

Gorman goes to the door.

GORMAN In a little while you'll hear my pipes on the road.

He goes out. There is the sound of heavy breathing from the bed. Then silence. The old pauper with the staff enters. He is crossing the ward when his attention is taken by the humming of the bees at the window pane. He listens for a moment.

THE OLD PAUPER A bright day, and the clay on their faces. That's what I saw. And we used to be coming from Mass and going to the coursing match. The hare flying and the dogs stretching after her up the hill. Fine dogs and fine men. I saw them all.

Christy Clarke comes in. He goes to table for his bag. He sees the figure on the bed, and goes over.

CHRISTY I'm going now, Mister Muskerry. Mister Muskerry! Mister Muskerry! Oh! the Master is dead. (He runs back to the door) Mrs. Crilly. Mrs. Crilly. (He goes back to the bed, and throws himself on his knees) Oh! I'm sorry you're gone, Thomas Muskerry.

THE OLD PAUPER And is he gone home, too! And the bees humming and all! He was the best of them. Each of his brothers could lift up their plough and carry it to the other side of the field. Four of them could clear a fair. But their fields were small and poor, and so they scattered.

Mrs. Crilly comes in.

MRS. CRILLY Christy Clarke, what is it?

CHRISTY The Master is dead.

MRS. CRILLY My God, my God!

CHRISTY Will I go and tell them below?

MRS. CRILLY No. Bring no one here yet. We killed him. When everything is known that will be known.

CHRISTY I'll never forget him, I think.

MRS. CRILLY What humming is that?

CHRISTY The bees at the window pane. And there's Myles Gorman's pipes on the road.

The drear call of the pipes is heard.


"Thomas Muskerry" was first produced on May 5th, 1910, by the Abbey Theater Company, at the Abbey Theater, Dublin, with the following cast:—



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