By George A. Birmingham
George H. Doran Company, Copyright 1922
I. LADY BOUNTIFUL
Society in the west of Ireland is beautifully tolerant. A man may do many things there, things frowned on elsewhere, without losing caste. He may, for instance, drink heavily, appearing in public when plainly intoxicated, and no one thinks much the worse of him. He may be in debt up to the verge of bankruptcy and yet retain his position in society. But he may not marry his cook. When old Sir Tony Corless did that, he lost caste. He was a baronet of long descent, being, in fact, the fifth Corless who held the title.
Castle Affey was a fine old place, one of the best houses in the county, but people stopped going there and stopped asking Sir Tony to dinner. They could not stand the cook.
Bridie Malone was her name before she became Lady Corless. She was the daughter of the blacksmith in the village at the gates of Castle Affey, and she was at least forty years younger than Sir Tony. People shook their heads when they heard of the marriage and said that the old gentleman must be doting.
"It isn't even as if she was a reasonably good-looking girl," said Captain Corless, pathetically. "If she had been a beauty I could have understood it, but—the poor old dad!"
Captain Corless was the son of another, a very different Lady Corless, and some day he in his turn would become Sir Tony. Meanwhile, having suffered a disabling wound early in the war, he had secured a pleasant and fairly well-paid post as inspector under the Irish Government. No one, not even Captain Corless himself, knew exactly what he inspected, but there was no uncertainty about the salary. It was paid quarterly.
Bridie Malone was not good-looking. Captain Corless was perfectly right about that. She was very imperfectly educated. She could sign her name, but the writing of anything except her name was a difficulty to her. She could read, though only if the print were large and the words were not too long.
But she possessed certain qualities not very common in any class. She had, for instance, quite enough common sense to save her from posing as a great lady. Sir Tony lost caste by his marriage. Bridie Malone did not sacrifice a single friend when she became Lady Corless. She remained on excellent terms with her father, her six younger sisters, and her four brothers. She remained on excellent terms with everyone in the village.
In the big house of which she became mistress she had her difficulties at first. The other servants, especially the butler and the upper housemaid, resented her promotion and sought new situations. Bridie replaced them, replaced the whole staff with relatives of her own.
Castle Affey was run by the Malone family. Danny, a young man who helped his father in the forge, became butler. Sarah Malone, Susy Malone, and Mollie Malone swept the floors, made the beds, and lit the fires. Bridie taught them their duties and saw that they did them thoroughly. Though she was Lady Corless, she took her meals with her family in the servants' hall and made it her business to see that Sir Tony was thoroughly comfortable and well-fed. The old gentleman had never been so comfortable in his life, or better fed.
He had never been so free from worry. Bridie took over the management of the garden and farm. She employed her own relatives. There was an ample supply of them, for almost everyone in the village was related to the Ma-lones. She paid good wages, but she insisted on getting good work, and she never allowed her husband to trouble about anything.
Old Sir Tony found life a much easier business than he had ever found it before. He chuckled when Captain Corless, who paid an occasional visit to Castle Affey, pitied him.
"You think I'm a doddering old fool," he said, "but, by gad, Tony, the most sensible thing I ever did in my life was to marry Bridie Ma-lone! If you're wise you'll take on your stepmother as housekeeper here and general manager after I'm gone. Not that I'm thinking of going. I'm seventy-two. You know that, Tony. But living as I do now, without a single thing to bother me, I'm good for another twenty years—or thirty. In fact, I don't see why the deuce I should ever die at all! It's worry and work which kill men, and I've neither one nor the other."
It was Lady Corless' custom to spend the evenings with her husband in the smoking-room. When he had dined—and he always dined well—he settled down in a large armchair with a decanter of whisky and a box of cigars beside him.
There was always, summer and winter, a fire burning on the open hearth. There was a good supply of newspapers and magazines, for Sir Tony, though he lived apart from the world, liked to keep in touch with politics and the questions of the day. Lady Corless sat opposite him on a much less comfortable chair and knitted stockings. If there was any news in the village, she told it to him, and he listened, for, like many old men, he took a deep interest in his neighbour's affairs.
If there was anything important or curious in the papers, he read it out to her. But she very seldom listened. Her strong common sense saved her from taking any interest in the war while it lasted, the peace, when it was discussed, or politics, which gurgle on through war and peace alike.
With the care of a great house, a garden, and eighty acres of land on her shoulders, she had no mental energy to spare for public affairs of any kind. Between half-past ten and eleven Sir Tony went to bed. He was an old gentleman of regular habits, and by that time the whisky-decanter was always empty. Lady Cor-less helped him upstairs, saw to it that his fire was burning and his pyjamas warm. She dealt with buttons and collar-studs, which are sometimes troublesome to old gentlemen who have drunk port at dinner and whisky afterwards. She wound his watch for him, and left him warm and sleeping comfortably.
One evening Sir Tony read from an English paper a paragraph which caught Lady Corless' attention. It was an account of the means by which the Government hoped to mitigate the evils of the unemployment likely to follow demobilisation and the closing of munition works. An out-of-work benefit of twenty-five shillings a week struck her as a capital thing, likely to become very popular. For the first time in her life she became slightly interested in politics.
Sir Tony passed from that paragraph to another, which dealt with the future of Dantzig. Lady Corless at once stopped listening to what he read. She went on knitting her stocking; but instead of letting her thoughts work on the problems of the eggs laid by her hens, and the fish for Sir Tony's dinner the next day, she turned over in her mind the astonishing news that the Government actually proposed to pay people, and to pay them well, for not working. The thing struck her as too good to be true, and she suspected that there must be some saving clause, some hidden trap which would destroy the value of the whole scheme.
After she had put Sir Tony to bed she went back to the smoking-room and opened the paper from which the news had been read. It took her some time to find the paragraph. Her search was rendered difficult by the fact that the editor, much interested, apparently, in a subject called the League of Nations, had tucked this really important piece of news into a corner of a back page. In the end, when she discovered what she wanted, she was not much better off. The print was small. The words were long and of a very unusual kind. Lady Corless could not satisfy herself about their meaning. She folded the paper up and put it safely into a drawer in the kitchen dresser before she went to bed.
Next day, rising early, as she always did, she fed her fowls and set the morning's milk in the dairy. She got Sir Tony's breakfast ready at nine o'clock and took it up to him. She saw to it that Danny, who was inclined to be lazy, was in his pantry polishing silver. She made it clear to Sarah, Susy, and Molly that she really meant the library to be thoroughly cleaned. It was a room which was never occupied, and the three girls saw no sense in sweeping the floor and dusting the backs of several thousand books. But their sister was firm and they had learnt to obey her.
Without troubling to put on a hat or to take off her working apron, Lady Corless got on her bicycle and rode down to her father's forge. She had in her pocket the newspaper which contained the important paragraph.
Old Malone laid aside a cart-wheel to which he was fitting a new rim and followed his daughter into the house. He was much better educated than she was and had been for many years a keen and active politician. He took in the meaning of the paragraph at once.
"Gosh!" he said. "If that's true—and I'm not saying it is true; but, if it is, it's the best yet. It's what's been wanted in Ireland this long time."
He read the paragraph through again, slowly and carefully.
"Didn't I tell you?" he said, "didn't I tell everyone when the election was on, that the Sinn Feiners was the lads to do the trick for us? Didn't I say that without we'd get a republic in Ireland the country would do no good? And there's the proof of it."
He slapped the paper heartily with his hand. To Lady Corless, whose mind was working rapidly, his reasoning seemed a little inconclusive. It even struck her that an Irish republic, had such a thing really come into being, might not have been able to offer the citizens the glorious chance of a weekly pension of twenty-five shillings. But she was aware that politics is a complex business in which she was not trained. She said nothing. Her father explained his line of thought.
"If them fellows over in England," he said, "weren't terrible frightened of the Sinn Feiners, would they be offering us the likes of that to keep us quiet? Bedamn, but they would not. Nobody ever got a penny out of an Englishman yet, without he'd frightened him first. And it's the Sinn Feiners done that. There's the why and the wherefore of it to you. Twenty-five shillings a week! It ought to be thirty shillings, so it ought. But sure, twenty-five shillings is something, and I'd be in favour of taking it, so I would. Let the people of Ireland take it, I say, as an instalment of what's due to them, and what they'll get in the latter end, please God!"
"Can you make out how a man's to get it?" said Lady Corless.
"Man!" said old Malone. "Man! No, but man and woman. There isn't a girl in the country, let alone a boy, but what's entitled to it, and I'd like to see the police or anyone else interfering with them getting it."
"Will it be paid out of the post office like the Old Age Pensions?" said Lady Corless.
"I don't know will it," said her father, "but that way or some other way it's bound to be paid, and all anyone has to do is to go over to what they call the Labour Exchange, at Dunbeg, and say there's no work for him where he lives. Then he'll get the money. It's what the young fellow in that office is there for, is to give the money, and by damn if he doesn't do it there'll be more heard about the matter!"
Old Malone, anxious to spread the good news, left the room and walked down to the public house at the corner of the village street. Lady Corless went into the kitchen and found her three youngest sisters drinking tea. They sat on low stools before the fire and had a black teapot with a broken spout standing on the hearth at their feet. The tea in the pot was very black and strong. Lady Corless addressed them solemnly.
"Katey-Ann," she said, "listen to me now, and let you be listening too, Onnie, and let Honoria stop scratching her head and attend to what I'm saying to the whole of you. I'm taking you on up at the big house as upper house-maid, Katey-Ann."
"And what's come over Sarah," said Katey-Ann. "Is she going to be married?"
"Never mind you about Sarah," said Lady Corless, "but attend to me. You're the under-housemaid, Onnie, so you are, in place of your sister Susy, and Honoria here is kitchen-maid. If anyone comes asking you questions that's what you are and that's what you're to say. Do you understand me now? But mind this. I don't want you up at the house, ne'er a one of you. You'll stay where you are and you'll do what you're doing, looking after your father and drinking tea, the same as before, only your wages will be paid regular to you. Where's Thady?"
Thady Malone was the youngest of the family.
Since Dan became butler at Castle Affey, Thady had given his father such help as he could at the forge. Lady Corless found him seated beside the bellows smoking a cigarette. His red hair was a tangled shock. His face and hands were extraordinarily dirty. He was enjoying a leisure hour or two while his father was at the public house. To his amazement he found himself engaged as butler and valet to Sir Tony Corless of Castle Affey.
"But you'll not be coming up to the house," said Lady Corless, "neither by day nor night. Mind that. I'd be ashamed for anyone to see you, so I would, for if you washed your face for the Christmas it's the last time you did it."
That afternoon, after Sir Tony's luncheon had been served, Danny, Sarah, Susy and Molly were formally dismissed. Their insurance cards were stamped and their wages were paid up to date. It was explained to them at some length, with many repetitions but quite clearly, that though dismissed they were to continue to do their work as before. The only difference in their position was that their wages would no longer be paid by Sir Tony. They would receive much larger wages, the almost incredible sum of twenty-five shillings a week, from the Government. Next day the four Malones drove over to Dunbeg and applied for out-of-work pay at the Labour Exchange. After due inquiries and the signing of some papers by Lady Cor-less, their claims were admitted. Four farm labourers, two gardeners, and a groom, all cousins of Lady Corless, were dismissed in the course of the following week. Seven young men from the village, all of them related to Lady Corless, were formally engaged. The insurance cards of the dismissed men were properly stamped. They were indubitably out of work. They received unemployment pay.
After that, the dismissal of servants, indoor and out, became a regular feature of life at Castle Affey. On Monday morning, Lady Corless went down to the village and dismissed everyone whom she had engaged the week before. Her expenditure in insurance stamps was considerable, for she thought it desirable to stamp all cards for at least a month back. Otherwise her philanthropy did not cost her much and she had very little trouble. The original staff went on doing the work at Castle Affey. After three months every man and woman in the village had passed in and out of Sir Tony's service, and everyone was drawing unemployment pay.
The village became extremely prosperous. New hats, blouses, and entire costumes of the most fashionable kind were to be seen in the streets every Sunday. Large sums of money were lost and won at coursing matches. Nearly everyone had a bicycle, and old Malone bought, second hand, a rather dilapidated motor-car. Work of almost every kind ceased entirely, except in the big house, and nobody got out of bed before ten o'clock. In mere gratitude, rents of houses were paid to Sir Tony which had not been paid for many years before.
Lady Corless finally dismissed herself. She did not, of course, resign the position of Lady Corless. It is doubtful whether she could have got twenty-five shillings a week if she had. The Government does not seem to have contemplated the case of unemployed wives. What she did was to dismiss Bridie Malone, cook at Castle Affey before her marriage. She had been married, and therefore, technically speaking, unemployed for nearly two years, but that did not seem to matter. She secured the twenty-five shillings a week and only just failed to get another five shillings which she claimed on the ground that her husband was very old and entirely dependent on her. She felt the rejection of this claim to be an injustice.
Captain Corless, after a long period of pleasant leisure, found himself suddenly called on to write a report on the working of the Unemployment-Pay Scheme in Ireland. With a view to doing his work thoroughly he hired a motorcar and made a tour of some of the more picturesque parts of the country. He so arranged his journeys that he was able to stop each night at a place where there was a fairly good hotel. He made careful inquiries everywhere, and noted facts for the enlightenment of the Treasury, for whose benefit his report was to be drawn up. He also made notes, in a private book, of some of the more amusing and unexpected ways in which the scheme worked. He found himself, in the course of his tour, close to Castle Affey, and, being a dutiful son, called on his father.
He found old Sir Tony in a particularly good humour. He also found matter enough to fill his private note-book.
"No telling tales, Tony, now," said the old man. "No reports about Castle Affey to the Government. Do you hear me now? Unless you give me your word of honour not to breathe what I'm going to tell you to anybody except your friends, I won't say a word."
"I promise, of course," said Captain Corless.
"Your step-mother's a wonderful woman," said Sir Tony, "a regular lady bountiful, by Jove! You wouldn't believe how rich everybody round here is now, and all through her. I give you my word, Tony, if the whisky was to be got—which, of course, it isn't now-a-days—there isn't a man in the place need go to bed sober from one week's end to another. They could all afford it. And it's your step-mother who put the money into their pockets. Nobody else would have thought of it. Look here, you've heard of this unemployment-pay business, I suppose?"
"I'm conducting an inquiry about it at the present moment."
"Then I won't say another word," said Sir Tony. "But it's a pity. You'd have enjoyed the story."
"I needn't put everything I'm told into my report," said Captain Corless. "A good deal of what I hear isn't true."
"Well, then, you can just consider my story to be an invention," said Sir Tony.
Captain Corless listened to the story. When it was finished he shook hands with his father.
"Dad," he said, "I apologise to you. I said—There's no harm in telling you now that I said you were an old fool when you married the blacksmith's daughter. I see now that I was wrong. You married the only woman in Ireland who understands how to make the most of the new law. Why, everybody else in your position is cursing this scheme as the ruin of the country, and Lady Corless is the only one who's tumbled to the idea of using it to make the people happy and contented. She's a great woman."
"But don't tell on us, Tony," said the old man. "Honour bright, now, don't tell!"
"My dear Dad, of course not. Anyway, they wouldn't believe me if I did."
II. THE STRIKE BREAKER
The train was an hour-and-a-quarter late at Finnabeg. Sir James McClaren, alone in a first-class smoking compartment, was not surprised. He had never travelled in Ireland before, but he held a belief that time is very little accounted of west of the Shannon-He looked out of the window at the rain-swept platform. It seemed to him that every passenger except himself was leaving the train at Finnabeg. This did not surprise him much. There was only one more station, Dunadea, the terminus of the branch line on which Sir James was travelling. It lay fifteen miles further on, across a desolate stretch of bog. It was not to be supposed that many people wanted to go to Dunadea.
Sir James looking out of his window, noticed that the passengers who alighted did not leave the station. They stood in groups on the platform and talked to each other. They took no notice of the rain, though it was very heavy.
Now and then one or two of them came to Sir James' carriage and peered in through the window. They seemed interested in him. A tall young priest stared at him for a long time. Two commercial travellers joined the priest and looked at Sir James. A number of women took the place of the priest and the commercial travellers when they went away. Finally, the guard, the engine driver, and the station master came and looked in through the window. They withdrew together and sat on a barrow at the far end of the platform. They lit their pipes and consulted together. The priest joined them and offered advice. Sir James became a little impatient.
Half an hour passed. The engine driver, the station master, and the guard knocked the ashes out of their pipes and walked over to Sir James' compartment. The guard opened the door.
"Is it Dunadea you're for, your honour?" he said.
"Yes," said Sir James. "When are you going on?"
The guard turned to the engine driver.
"It's what I'm after telling you," he said, "it's Dunadea the gentleman's for."
"It might be better for him," said the engine driver, "if he was to content himself with Finnabeg for this day at any rate."
"Do you hear that, your honour?" said the guard. "Michael here, says it would be better for you to stay in Finnabeg."
"There's a grand hotel, so there is," said the station master, "the same that's kept by Mrs. Mulcahy, and devil the better you'll find between this and Dublin."
Sir James looked from one man to the other in astonishment. Nowadays the public is accustomed to large demands from railway workers, demands for higher wages and shorter hours. But Sir James had never before heard of an engine driver who tried to induce a passenger to get out of his train fifteen miles short of his destination.
"I insist," he said abruptly, "on your taking me on to Dunadea."
"It's what I told you all along, Michael," said the guard. "He's a mighty determined gentleman, so he is. I knew that the moment I set eyes on him."
The guard was perfectly right. Sir James was a man of most determined character. His career proved it. Before the war he had been professor of economics in a Scottish University, lecturing to a class of ten or twelve students for a salary of L250 a year. When peace came he was the head of a newly-created Ministry of Strikes, controlling a staff of a thousand or twelve hundred men and women, drawing a salary of L2,500 a year. Only a man of immense determination can achieve such results. He had garnered in a knighthood as he advanced. It was the reward of signal service to the State when he held the position of Chief Controller of Information and Statistics.
"Let him not be saying afterwards that he didn't get a proper warning," said the engine driver.
He walked towards his engine as he spoke. The guard and the station master followed him.
"I suppose now, Michael," said the guard, "that you'll not be wanting me."
"I will not," said the engine driver. "The train will do nicely without you for as far as I'm going to take her."
Sir James did not hear either the guard's question or the driver's answer. He did hear, with great satisfaction, what the station master said next.
"Are you right there now?" the man shouted, "for if you are it's time you were starting."
He unrolled a green flag and waved it. He blew a shrill blast on his whistle. The driver stepped into the cab of the engine and handled his levers. The train started.
Sir James leaned back in the corner of his compartment and smiled. The track over which he travelled was badly laid and the train advanced by jerks and bumps. But the motion was pleasant to Sir James. Any forward movement of that train would have been pleasant to him. Each bump and jerk brought him a little nearer to Dunadea and therefore a little nearer to Miss Molly Dennison. Sir James was very heartily in love with a girl who seemed to him to be the most beautiful and the most charming in the whole world. Next day, such was his good fortune, he was to marry her. Under the circumstances a much weaker man than Sir James would have withstood the engine driver and resisted the invitation of Mrs. Mulcahy's hotel in Finnabeg. Under the circumstances even an intellectual man of the professor type was liable to pleasant day dreams.
Sir James' thoughts went back to the day, six months before, when he had first seen Miss Molly Dennison. She had been recommended to him by a friend as a young lady likely to make an efficient private secretary. Sir James, who had just become Head of the Ministry of Strikes, wanted a private secretary. He appointed Miss Dennison, and saw her for the first time when she presented herself in his office. At that moment his affection was born. It grew and strengthened day by day. Miss Molly's complexion was the radiant product of the soft, wet, winds of Connaugh, which had blown on her since her birth. Not even four years' work in Government offices in London had dulled her cheeks. Her smile had the fresh innocence of a child's and she possessed a curious felicity of manner which was delightful though a little puzzling. Her view of strikes and the important work of the Ministry was fresh and quite unconventional. Sir James, who had all his life moved among serious and earnest people, found Miss Molly's easy cheerfulness very fascinating. Even portentous words like syndicalism, which rang in other people's ears like the passing bells of our social order, moved her to airy laughter. There were those, oldish men and slightly less oldish women, who called her flippant. Sir James offered her his hand, his heart, his title, and a share of his L2,500 a year. Miss Molly accepted all four, resigned her secretaryship and went home to her father's house in Dunadea to prepare her trousseau.
The train stopped abruptly. But even the bump and the ceasing of noise did not fully arouse Sir James from his pleasant dreams. He looked out of the window and satisfied himself that he had not reached Dunadea station or indeed any other station. The rain ran down the window glass, obscuring his view of the landscape. He was dimly aware of a wide stretch of grey-brown bog, of drifting grey clouds and of a single whitewashed cottage near the railway line. He lit a cigarette and lay back again. Molly's face floated before his eyes. The sound of Molly's voice was fresh in his memory. He thought of the next day and the return journey across the bog with Molly by his side.
At the end of half an hour he awoke to the fact that the train was still at rest. He looked out again and saw nothing except the rain, the bog, and the cottage. This time he opened the window and put out his head. He looked up the line and down it. There was no one to be seen.
"The signals," thought Sir James, "must be against us." He looked again, first out of one window, then out of the other. There was no signal in sight. The single line of railway ran unbroken across the bog, behind the train and in front of it. Sir James, puzzled, and a little wet, drew back into his compartment and shut the window. He waited, with rapidly growing impatience, for another half hour. Nothing happened. Then he saw a man come out of the cottage near the line. He was carrying a basket in one hand and a teapot in the other. He approached the train. He came straight to Sir James' compartment and opened the door. Sir James recognised the engine driver.
"I was thinking," said the man, "that maybe your honour would be glad of a cup of tea and a bit of bread. I am sorry there is no butter, but, sure, butter is hard to come by these times."
He laid the teapot on the floor and put the basket on the seat in front of Sir James. He unpacked it, taking out a loaf of home made bread, a teacup, a small bottle of milk, and a paper full of sugar.
"It's not much to be offering a gentleman like yourself," he said, "but it's the best we have, and seeing that you'll be here all night and best part of to-morrow you'll be wanting something to eat."
Sir James gasped with astonishment.
"Here all night!" he said. "Why should we be here all night? Has the engine broken down?"
"It has not," said the driver.
"Then you must go on," said Sir James. "I insist on your going on at once."
The driver poured out a cup of tea and handed it to Sir James. Then he sat down and began to talk in a friendly way.
"Sure, I can't go on," he said, "when I'm out on strike."
Sir James was so startled that he upset a good deal of tea. As Head of the Ministry of Strikes he naturally had great experience, but he had never before heard of a solitary engine driver going on strike in the middle of a bog.
"The way of it is this," the driver went on. "It was giv out, by them that does be managing things that there was to be a general strike on the first of next month. You might have heard of that, for it was in all the papers."
Sir James had heard of it. It was the subject of many notes and reports in his Ministry.
"But this isn't the 1st of next month," he said.
"It is not," said the driver. "It's no more than the 15th of this month. But the way I'm placed at present, it wouldn't be near so convenient to me to be striking next month as it is to be striking now. There's talk of moving me off this line and putting me on to the engine that does be running into Athlone with the night mail; and it's to-morrow the change is to be made. Now I needn't tell you that Athlone's a mighty long way from where we are this minute."
He paused and looked at Sir James with an intelligent smile.
"My wife lives in the little house beyond there," he said pointing out of the window to the cottage. "And what I said to myself was this: If I am to be striking—which I've no great wish to do—but if it must be—and seemingly it must—I may as well do it in the convenientest place I can; for as long as a man strikes the way he's told, there can't be a word said to him; and anyway the 1st of next month or the 15th of this month, what's the differ? Isn't one day as good as another?"
He evidently felt that his explanation was sufficient and satisfactory. He rose to his feet and opened the door of the compartment. "I'm sorry now," he said, "if I'm causing any inconvenience to a gentleman like yourself. But what can I do? I offered to leave you behind at Finnabeg, but you wouldn't stay. Anyway the night's warm and if you stretch yourself on the seat there you won't know it till morning, and then I'll bring you over another cup of tea so as you won't be hungry. It's a twenty-four hour strike, so it is; and I won't be moving on out of this before two o'clock or may be half past. But what odds? The kind of place Dunadea is, a day or two doesn't matter one way or another, and if it was the day after to-morrow in place of to-morrow you got there it would be the same thing in the latter end."
He climbed out of the compartment as he spoke and stumped back through the rain to his cottage. Sir James was left wondering how the people of Dunadea managed to conduct the business of life when one day was the same to them as another and the loss of a day now and then did not matter. He was quite certain that the loss of a day mattered a great deal to him, his position being what it was. He wondered what Miss Molly Dennison would think when he failed to appear at her father's house that evening for dinner; what she would think—the speculation nearly drove him mad—when he did not appear in the church next day. He put on an overcoat, took an umbrella and set off for the engine driver's cottage. He had to climb down a steep embankment and then cross a wire fence. He found it impossible to keep his umbrella up, which distressed him, for he was totally unaccustomed to getting wet.
He found the driver, who seemed to be a good and domesticated man, sitting at his fireside with a baby on his knee. His wife was washing clothes in a corner of the kitchen.
"Excuse me," said Sir James, "but my business in Dunadea is very important. There will be serious trouble if——"
"There's no use asking me to go on with the train," said the driver, "for I can't do it. I'd never hear the last of it if I was to be a blackleg."
The woman at the washtub looked up.
"Don't be talking that way, Michael," she said, "let you get up and take the gentleman along to where he wants to go."
"I will not," said the driver, "I'd do it if I could but I won't have it said that I was the one to break the strike."
It was very much to the credit of Sir James that he recognised the correctness of the engine driver's position. It is not pleasant to be held up twenty-four hours in the middle of a bog. It is most unpleasant to be kept away from church on one's own wedding day. But Sir James knew that strikes are sacred things, far more sacred than weddings. He hastened to agree with the engine driver.
"I know you can't go on," he said, "nothing would induce me to ask you such a thing. But perhaps—-"
The woman at the washtub did not reverence strikes or understand the labour movement. She spoke abruptly.
"Have sense the two of you," she said, "What's to hinder you taking the gentleman into Dunadea, Michael?"
"It's what I can't do nor won't," said her husband.
"I'm not asking you to," said Sir James. "I understand strikes thoroughly and I know you can't do it. All I came here for was to ask you to tell me where I could find a telegraph office."
"There's no telegraphic office nearer than Dunadea," said the engine driver, "and that's seven miles along the railway and maybe nine if you go round by road."
Sir James looked out at the rain. It was thick and persistent. A strong west wind swept it in sheets across the bog. He was a man of strong will and great intellectual power; but he doubted if he could walk even seven miles along the sleepers of a railway line against half a gale of wind, wearing on his feet a pair of patent leather boots bought for a wedding.
"Get up out of that, Michael," said the woman, "And off with you to Dunadea with the gentleman's telegram. You'll break no strike by doing that, so not another word out of your head."
"I'll—I'll give you ten shillings with pleasure," said Sir James, "I'll give you a pound if you'll take a message for me to Mr. Dennison's house."
"Anything your honour chooses to give," said the woman, "will be welcome, for we are poor people. But it's my opinion that Michael ought to do it for nothing seeing it's him and his old strike that has things the way they are."
"To listen to you talking," said the driver, "anybody would think I'd made the strike myself; which isn't true at all, for there's not a man in the country that wants it less than me."
Sir James tore a leaf from his note book and wrote a hurried letter to Miss Dennison. The engine driver tucked it into the breast pocket of his coat and trudged away through the rain. His wife invited Sir James to sit by the fire. He did so gladly, taking the stool her husband had left. He even, after a short time, found that he had taken the child on to his knee. It was a persistent child, which clung round his legs and stared at him till he took it up. The woman went on with her washing.
"What," said Sir James, "is the immediate cause of this strike?"
"Cause!" she said. "There's no cause, only foolishness. If it was more wages they were after I would say there was some sense in it. Or if it was less work they wanted you could understand it—though it's more work and not less the most of the men in this country should be doing. But the strike that's in it now isn't what you might call a strike at all. It's a demonstration, so it is. That's what they're saying anyway. It's a demonstration in favour of the Irish Republic, which some of them play-boys is after getting up in Dublin. The Lord save us, would nothing do them only a republic?"
Two hours later Sir James went back to his railway carriage. He had listened with interest to the opinions of the engine driver's wife on politics and the Labour Movement. He was convinced that a separate and independent Ministry of Strikes ought to be established in Dublin. His own office was plainly incapable of dealing with Irish conditions. He took from his bag a quantity of foolscap paper and set to work to draft a note to the Prime Minister on the needs and ideas of Irish Labour. He became deeply interested in his work and did not notice the passing time.
He was aroused by the appearance of Miss Molly Dennison at the door of his carriage. Her hair, which was blown about her face, was exceedingly wet. The water dripped from her skirt and sleeves of her jacket. Her complexion was as radiant and her smile as brilliant as ever.
"Hullo, Jimmy," she said. "What a frowst I Fancy sitting in that poky little carriage with both windows shut. Get up and put away your silly old papers. If you come along at once we'll just be in time for dinner."
"How did you get here," said Sir James. "I never thought—. In this weather—. How did you get here?"
"On my bike, of course," said Molly. "Did a regular sprint. Wind behind me. Going like blazes. I'd have done it in forty minutes, only Michael ran into a sheep and I had to wait for him."
Sir James was aware that the engine driver, grinning broadly, was on the step of the carriage behind Molly.
"I lent Michael Dad's old bike," said Molly, "and barring the accident with the sheep, he came along very well."
"What I'm thinking," said the driver, "is that you'll never be able to fetch back against the wind that does be in it. I wouldn't say but you might do it, miss; but the gentleman wouldn't be fit. He's not accustomed to the like."
"We're not going to ride back," said Molly. "You're going to take us back on the engine, with the two bikes in the tender, on top of the coal."
"I can't do it, miss," said the driver. "I declare to God I'd be afraid of my life to do it. Didn't I tell you I was out on strike?"
"We oughtn't to ask him," said Sir James. "Surely, Molly, you must understand that. It would be an act of gross disloyalty on his part, disloyalty to his union, to the cause of labour. And any effort we make to persuade him—— My dear Molly, the right of collective bargaining which lies at the root of all strikes——"
Molly ignored Sir James and turned to the engine driver.
"Just you wait here five minutes," she said, "till I get someone who knows how to talk to you."
She jumped out of the carriage and ran down the railway embankment. Sir James and the engine driver watched her anxiously. "I wouldn't wonder," said Michael, "but it might be my wife she's after."
He was quite right. Five minutes later, Molly and the engine driver's wife were climbing the embankment together.
"I don't see," said Sir James, "what your wife has to do with the matter."
"By this time to-morrow," said Michael, "you will see; if so be you're married by then, which is what Miss Molly said you will be."
His wife, with Molly after her, climbed into the carriage.
"Michael," she said, "did the young lady tell you she's to be married to-morrow?"
"She did tell me," he said, "and I'm sorry for her. But what can I do? If I was to take that engine into Dunadea they'd call me a blackleg the longest day ever I lived."
"I'd call you something a mighty deal worse if you don't," said his wife. "You and your strikes! Strikes, Moyah! And a young lady wanting to be married!"
Michael turned apologetically to Sir James.
"Women does be terrible set on weddings," he said, "and that's a fact."
"That'll do now, Michael," said Molly; "stop talking and put the two bikes on the tender, and poke up your old fires or what ever it is you do to make your engine go."
"Molly," said Sir James, when Michael and his wife had left the carriage, "I've drawn up a note for the Prime Minister advising the establishment of a special Ministry of Strikes for Ireland. I feel that the conditions in this country are so peculiar that our London office cannot deal with them. I think perhaps I'd better suggest that he should put you at the head of the new office."
"Your visit to Ireland is doing you good already," said Molly. "You're developing a sense of humour."
III. THE FACULTY OF MEDICINE
Dr. Farelly, Medical Officer of Dunailin, volunteered for service with the R.A.M.C. at the beginning of the war. He had made no particular boast of patriotism. He did not even profess to be keenly interested in his profession or anxious for wider experience. He said, telling the simple truth, that life at Dunailin was unutterably dull, and that he welcomed war—would have welcomed worse things—for the sake of escaping a monotony which was becoming intolerable.
The army authorities accepted Dr. Farelly. The local Board of Guardians, which paid him a salary of L200 a year, agreed to let him go on the condition that he provided a duly qualified substitute to do his work while he was away. There a difficulty faced Dr. Farelly. Duly qualified medical men, willing to take up temporary jobs, are not plentiful in war time. And the job he had to offer—Dr. Farelly was painfully conscious of the fact—was not a very attractive one.
Dunailin is a small town in Western Con-naught, seven miles from the nearest railway station. It possesses a single street, straggling and very dirty, a police barrack, a chapel, which seems disproportionately large, and seven shops. One of the shops is also the post office. Another belongs to John Conerney, the butcher. The remaining five are public houses, doing their chief business in whisky and porter, but selling, as side lines, farm seeds, spades, rakes, hoes, stockings, hats, blouses, ribbons, flannelette, men's suits, tobacco, sugar, tea, postcards, and sixpenny novels. The chief inhabitants of the town are the priest, a benevolent but elderly man, who lives in the presbytery next the large chapel; Sergeant Rahilly, who commands the six members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and lives in the barrack; and Mr. Timothy Flanagan, who keeps the largest shop in the town and does a bigger business than anyone else in porter and whisky.
Dr. Farelly, standing on his doorstep with his pipe in his mouth, looked up and down the street. He was more than ever convinced that it might be very difficult to get a doctor to go to Dunailin, and still harder to get one to stay. The town lay, to all appearance, asleep under the blaze of the noonday August sun. John Conerney's greyhounds, five of them, were stretched in the middle of the street, confident that they would be undisturbed. Sergeant Rahilly sunned himself on a bench outside the barrack door, and Mr. Flanagan sat in a room behind his shop nodding over the ledger in which his customers' debts were entered. Dr. Farelly sighed. He had advertised for a doctor to take his place in all the likeliest papers, and had not been rewarded by a single answer. He was beginning to think that he must either resign his position at Dunailin or give up the idea of war service.
At half-past twelve the town stirred in its sleep and partially awoke. Paddy Doolan, who drove the mail cart, arrived from Derrymore. Dr. Farelly strolled down to the post office, seeking, but scarcely hoping for, a letter in reply to his advertisements. He was surprised and very greatly pleased when the postmistress handed him a large envelope, fat and bulging, bearing a Manchester postmark. The moment he opened it Dr. Farelly knew that he had got what he wanted, an application for the post he had to offer. He took out, one after another, six sheets of nicely-printed matter. These were testimonials signed by professors, tutors, surgeons, and doctors, all eloquent about the knowledge, skill, and personal integrity of one Theophilus Lovaway. Dr. Farelly stuffed these into his pocket. He had often written testimonials himself—in Ireland everyone writes them in scores—and he knew precisely what they were worth. He came at last to a letter, very neatly typewritten. It began formally:
"Dear Sir—I beg to offer myself as a candidate for the post of medical officer, temporary, for the town and district of Dunailin, on the terms of your advertisement in The British Medical Journal."
Dr. Farelly, like the Etruscans in Macaulay's poem, "could scare forbear to cheer." He walked jauntily back to his house, relit his pipe and sat down to read the rest of the letter.
Theophilus Lovaway was apparently a garrulous person. He had covered four sheets with close typescript. He began by stating that he was only just qualified and had never practised anywhere. He hoped that Dr. Farelly would not consider his want of experience a disqualification. Dr. Farelly did not care in the least.
If Theophilus Lovaway was legally qualified to write prescriptions, nothing else mattered. The next three paragraphs of the letter—and they were all long—described, in detail, the condition of Lovaway's health. He suffered, it appeared, from a disordered heart, weak lungs, and dyspepsia. But for these misfortunes, the letter went on, Theophilus would have devoted himself to the services of his country in her great need. Dr. Farelly sniffed. He had a prejudice against people who wrote or talked in that way. He began to feel less cheerful. Theophilus might come to Dunailin. It was very doubtful whether he would stay there long, his lungs, heart, and stomach being what they were.
The last half of the letter was painfully disconcerting. Two whole pages were devoted to an explanation of the writer's wish to spend some time in the west of Ireland. Theophilus Lovaway had managed, in the middle of his professional reading, to study the literature of the Irish Renaissance. He had fallen deeply in love with the spirit of the Celtic peasantry. He described at some length what he thought that spirit was. "Tuned to the spiritual" was one of the phrases he used. "Desire-compelling, with the elusiveness of the rainbow's end," was another. Dr. Farelly grew despondent. If Theophilus expected life in Dunailin to be in the least like one of Mr. Yeats' plays, he was doomed to a bitter disappointment and would probably leave the place in three weeks.
But Dr. Farelly was not going to give up hope without a struggle. He put the letter in his pocket and walked across the road to Timothy Flanagan's shop.
"Flanagan," he said, "I've got a man to take on my job here."
"I'm glad to hear it, doctor," said Flanagan. "It would be a pity now if something was to interfere with you, and you wanting to be off massacring the Germans. If the half of what's in the papers is true, its massacring or worse them fellows want."
"The trouble is," said Dr. Farelly, "that the man I've got may not stay."
"Why wouldn't he stay? Isn't Dunailin as good a place to be in as any other? Any sensible man——"
"That's just it," said Dr. Farelly. "I'm not at all sure that this is a sensible man. Just listen to this."
He read aloud the greater part of the letter.
"Now what do you think of the man who wrote that?" he asked; "what kind of fellow would you say he was?"
"I'd say," said Flanagan, "that he's a simple, innocent kind of man; but I wouldn't say there was any great harm in him."
"I'm very much afraid," said Dr. Farelly, "that he's too simple and innocent. That's the first thing I have against him. Look here now, Flanagan, if you or anyone else starts filling this young fellow up with whisky—it will be an easy enough thing to do, and I don't deny that it'll be a temptation. But if you do it you'll have his mother or his aunt or someone over here to fetch him home again. That's evidently the kind of man he is. And if I lose him I'm done, for I'll never get anyone else."
"Make your mind easy about that, doctor. Devil the drop of whisky he'll get out of my shop while he's here, and I'll take care no other one will let him have a bottle. If he drinks at all it'll be the stuff he brings with him in his own portmanteau."
"Good," said Dr. Farelly, "I'll trust you about that. The next point is his health. You heard what he said about his heart and his lungs and his stomach."
"He might die on us," said Flanagan, "and that's a fact."
"Oh, he'll not die. That sort of man never does die, not till he's about ninety, anyhow. But it won't do to let him fancy this place doesn't agree with him. What you've got to do is to see that he gets a proper supply of good, wholesome food, eggs and milk, and all the rest of it."
"If there's an egg in the town he'll get it," said Flanagan, "and I'll speak to Johnny Conerney about the meat that's supplied to him. You may trust me, doctor, if that young fellow dies in Dunailin it'll not be for want of food."
"Thanks," said Dr. Farelly; "and keep him cheerful, Flanagan, don't let him mope. That brings me to the third point. You heard what he wrote about the Irish Renaissance and the Celtic spirit?"
"I heard it right enough," said Flanagan, "but I'm not sure do I know the meaning of it."
"The meaning of it," said Dr. Farelly, "is fairies, just plain, ordinary fairies. That's what he wants, and I don't expect he'll settle down contentedly unless he finds a few."
"Sure you know well enough, doctor, that there's no fairies in these parts. I don't say there mightn't have been some in times past, but any there was is now gone."
"I know that," said Dr. Farelly, "and I'm not asking you to go beating thorn bushes in the hopes of catching one. But if this fellow, Theophilus Lovaway—did ever you hear such a name?—if he wants fairies he must hear about them. You'll have to get hold of a few people who go in for that sort of thing. Now what about Patsy Doolan's mother? She's old enough, and she looks like a witch herself."
"If the like of the talk of Patsy Doolan's mother would be giving him is any use I'll see he's satisfied. That old woman would talk the hind leg off a donkey about fairies or anything else if you were to give her a pint of porter, and I'll do that. I'll give it to her regular, so I will. I'd do more than that for you, doctor, for you're a man I like, let alone that you're going out to foreign parts to put the fear of God into them Germans, which is no more than they deserve."
Dr. Farelly felt satisfied that Mr. Flanagan would do his best for Lovaway. And Mr. Flanagan was an important person. As the principal publican in the town, the chairman of all the councils, boards, and leagues there were, he had an enormous amount of influence. But Dr. Farelly was still a little uneasy. He went over to the police barrack and explained the situation to Sergeant Rahilly. The sergeant readily promised to do all he could to make Dunailin pleasant for the new doctor, and to keep him from getting into mischief or trouble. Only in the matter of Lovaway's taste for Irish folk-lore and poetry the sergeant refused to promise any help. He was quite firm about this.
"It wouldn't do for the police to be mixed up in that kind of work," he said. "Politics are what a sergeant of police is bound to keep out of."
"But hang it all," said Dr. Farelly, "fairies aren't politics."
"They may or they may not be," said the sergeant. "But believe me, doctor, the men that talks about them things, fairies and all that, is the same men that's at the bottom of all the leagues in the country, and it wouldn't do for me to be countenancing them. But I'll tell you what I'll do for you now, doctor. If I can't get fairies for him I'll see that anything that's to be had in the district in the way of a fee for a lunatic or the like goes to the young fellow you're bringing here. I'll do that, and if there's more I can do you can reckon on me—barring fairies and politics of all kinds."
Mr. Flanagan and Sergeant Rahilly were trustworthy men. In a good cause they were prompt and energetic. Flanagan warned the other publicans in the town that they must not supply the new doctor with any whisky. He spoke seriously to John Conerney the butcher.
"Good meat, now, Johnny. The best you have, next to what joints you might be supplying to the priest or myself. He has a delicate stomach, the man that's coming, and a bit of braxy mutton might be the death of him."
He spoke to Paddy Doolan and told him that his old mother would be wanted to attend on the new doctor and must be ready whenever she was called for.
"Any old ancient story she might know," he said, "about the rath beyond on the hill, or the way they shot the bailiff on the bog in the bad times, or about it's not being lucky to meet a red-haired woman in the morning, anything at all that would be suitable she'll be expected to tell. And if she does what she's bid there'll be a drop of porter for her in my house whenever she likes to call for it."
Sergeant Rahilly talked in a serious but vague way to everyone he met about the importance of treating Dr. Lovaway well, and the trouble which would follow any attempt to rob or ill-use him.
Before Dr. Lovaway arrived his reputation was established in Dunailin. It was generally believed that he was a dipsomaniac, sent to the west of Ireland to be cured. It was said that he was very rich and had already ordered huge quantities of meat from Johnny Conerney. He was certainly of unsound mind: Mr. Flanagan's hints about fairies settled that point. He was also a man of immense influence in Government circles, perhaps a near relation of the Lord-Lieutenant: Sergeant Rahilly's way of speaking convinced everyone of that. The people were, naturally, greatly interested in their new doctor, and were prepared to give him a hearty welcome.
His arrival was a little disappointing. He drove from the station at Derrymore on Paddy Doolan's car, and had only a small portmanteau with him. He was expected to come in a motor of his own with a vanload of furniture behind him. His appearance was also disappointing. He was a young man. He looked so very young that a stranger might have guessed his age at eighteen. He wore large, round spectacles, and had pink, chubby cheeks. In one respect only did he come up to popular expectation. He was plainly a young man of feeble intellect, for he allowed Paddy Doolan to overcharge him in the grossest way.
"Thanks be to God," said Sergeant Rahilly to Mr. Flanagan, "it's seldom anyone's sick in this place. I wouldn't like to be trusting the likes of that young fellow very far. But what odds? We've got to do the best we can for him, and my family's healthy, anyway."
Fate has a nasty trick of hitting us just where we feel most secure. The sergeant himself was a healthy man. His wife did not know what it was to be ill. Molly, his twelve-year old daughter, was as sturdy a child as any in the town. But Molly had an active mind and an enterprising character. On the afternoon of Doctor Lovaway's arrival, her mother, father, and most other people being fully occupied, she made her way round the back of the village, climbed the wall of the doctor's garden and established herself in an apple tree. She took six other children with her. There was an abundant crop of apples, but they were not nearly ripe. Molly ate until she could eat no more. The other children, all of them younger than Molly, stuffed themselves joyfully with the hard green fruit.
At eight o'clock that evening Molly complained of pains. Her mother put her to bed. At half-past eight Molly's pains were considerably worse and she began to shriek. Mrs. Ra-hilly, a good deal agitated by the violence of the child's yells, told the sergeant to go for the doctor. Sergeant Rahilly laid down his newspaper and his pipe. He went slowly down the street towards the doctor's house. He was surprised to hear shrieks, not unlike Molly's, in various houses as he passed. Mrs. Conerney, the butcher's wife, rushed out of her door and told the sergeant that her little boy, a child of nine, was dying in frightful agony.
Mr. Flanagan was standing at the door of his shop. He beckoned to the sergeant.
"It's lucky," he said, "things happening the way they have on the very first night of the new doctor being here."
"I don't know so much about luck," said Sergeant Rahilly. "What luck?"
"The half of the children in the town is took with it," said Flanagan.
"You may call that luck if it pleases you," said the sergeant. "But it's not my notion of luck. My own Molly's bellowing like a young heifer, and Mrs. Conerney's boy is dying, so she tells me. If that's luck I'd rather you had it than me."
"I'm sorry for the childer," said Flanagan; "but Mrs. Doolan, who's in the shop this minute drinking porter, says it'll do them no harm if they're given a sup of water to drink out of the Holy Well beyond Tubber Neeve, and a handful of rowan berries laid on the stomach or where-ever else the pain might be."
"Rowan berries be damned," said the sergeant. "I'm off for the doctor; not that I'm expecting much from him. A young fellow with a face like that! I wish to God Dr. Farelly was back with us."
"Doctors is no use," said Flanagan, "neither one nor another, if it's true what Mrs. Doolan says."
"And what does Mrs. Doolan say?" asked the sergeant.
"I'm not saying I believe her," said Flanagan, "and I'm not asking you to believe her, but what she says is——"
He whispered in the sergeant's ear. The sergeant looked at him bewildered.
"Them ones?" he said, "Them ones? Now what might you and Mrs. Doolan be meaning by that, Timothy Flanagan?"
"Just fairies," said Flanagan. "Mind you, I'm not saying I believe it."
"Fairies be damned," said the sergeant.
"They may be," said Flanagan. "I'm not much of a one for fairies myself; but you'll not deny, sergeant that it looks queer, all the children being took the same way at the same time. Anyhow, whether you believe what Mrs. Doolan says or not——"
"I do not believe it," said the sergeant. "Not a word of it."
"You needn't," said Flanagan, "I don't myself. All I say is that it's lucky a thing of the sort happening the very first evening the new doctor's in the place. It's fairies he's after, remember that. It's looking for fairies that brought him here. Didn't Dr. Farelly tell me so himself and tell you? Wasn't Dr. Farelly afraid he wouldn't stay on account of fairies being scarce about these parts this long time? And now the place is full of them—according to what Mrs. Doolan says."
Sergeant Rahilly heard, or fancied he heard, a particularly loud shriek from Molly. He certainly heard the wailing of Mrs. Conerney and the agitated cries of several other women. He turned from Flanagan without speaking another word and walked straight to the doctor's house.
Five minutes later Dr. Lovaway, hatless and wearing a pair of slippers on his feet, was running up the street towards the barrack. His first case, a serious one, calling for instant attention, had come to him unexpectedly. Opposite Flanagan's shop he was stopped by Mrs. Doolan. She laid a skinny, wrinkled, and very dirty hand on his arm. Her shawl fell back from her head, showing a few thin wisps of grey hair. Her eyes were bleary and red-rimmed, her breath reeked of porter.
"Arrah, doctor dear," she said, "I'm glad to see you, so I am. Isn't it a grand thing now that a fine young man like you would be wanting to sit down and be talking to an old woman like myself, that might be your mother—no, but your grandmother?"
Dr. Lovaway, desperately anxious to reach the sergeant's suffering child, tried to shake off the old woman. He suspected that she was drunk. He was certain that she was extremely unpleasant. The suggestion that she might be his mother filled him with loathing. It was not any pleasanter to think of her as a grandmother.
Mrs. Doolan clung tightly to his arm with both her skinny hands.
Mr. Flanagan approached them from behind; leaning across Lovaway's shoulders, he whispered in his ear:
"There's not about the place—there's not within the four seas of Ireland, one that has as much knowledge of fairies and all belonging to them as that old woman."
"Fairies!" said Lovaway. "Did you say—— Surely you didn't say fairies?"
"I just thought you'd be pleased," said Flanagan, "and it's lucky, so it is, that Mrs. Doolan should happen to be in the town to-night of all nights, just when them ones—the fairies, you know, doctor—has half the children in the town took with pains in their stomachs."
Dr. Lovaway looked round him wildly. He supposed that Flanagan must be mad. He had no doubt that the old woman was drunk.
"I've seen the like before," she said, leering up into Lovaway's face. "I've seen worse. I've seen a strong man tying himself into knots with the way they had him held, and there's no cure for it only——"
Lovaway caught sight of Sergeant Rahilly. In his first rush to reach the stricken child he had left the sergeant behind. The sergeant was a heavy man who moved with dignity.
"Take this woman away," said Lovaway. "Don't let her hold me."
"Doctor, darling," whined Mrs. Doolan, "don't be saying the like of that."
"Biddy Doolan," said the sergeant, sternly, "will you let go of the doctor? I'd be sorry to arrest you, so I would, but arrested you'll be if you don't get along home out of that and keep quiet."
Mrs. Doolan loosed her hold on the doctor's arm, but she did not go home. She followed Lovaway up the street, moving, for so old a woman, at a surprising pace.
"Doctor, dear," she said, "don't be giving medicine to them childer. Don't do it now. You'll only anger them that's done it, and it's a terrible thing when them ones is angry."
"Get away home out of that, Biddy Doolan," said the sergeant.
"Don't be hard on an old woman, now, sergeant," said Mrs. Doolan. "It's for your own good and the good of your child I'm speaking. Doctor, dear, there's no cure but the one. A cup of water from the well of Tubber Neeve, the same to be drawn up in a new tin can that never was used. Let the child or the man, or it might be the cow, or whatever it is, let it drink that, a cup at a time, and let you——"
Lovaway followed by the sergeant, entered the barrack. He needed no guiding to the room in which Molly lay. Her shrieks would have led a blind man to her bedside.
Mrs. Doolan was stopped at the door by a burly constable. She shouted her last advice to the doctor as he climbed the stairs.
"Let you take a handful of rowan berries and lay them on the stomach or wherever the pain might be, and if you wrap them in a yellow cloth it will be better; but they'll work well enough without that, only not so quick."
Driven off by the constable Mrs. Doolan went back to Flanagan's shop. She was quite calm and did not any longer appear to be the worse for the porter she had drunk.
"You'll give me another sup, now, Mr. Flanagan," she said. "It's well I deserve it. It's terrible dry work talking to a man like that one who won't listen to a word you're saying."
Flanagan filled a large tumbler with porter and handed it to her.
"Tell me this now, Mrs. Doolan," he said.
"What's the matter with Molly Rahilly and the rest of them?"
"It's green apples," said Mrs. Doolan, "green apples that they ate in the doctor's garden. Didn't I see the little lady sitting in the tree and the rest of the childer with her?"
Dr. Lovaway made a somewhat similar diagnosis. He spent several busy hours going in and out of the houses where the sufferers lay. It was not till a quarter past eleven that he returned to his home and the town settled down for the night. At half-past eleven—long after the legal closing hour—Sergeant Rahilly was sitting with Mr. Flanagan in the room behind the shop. A bottle of whisky and a jug of water were on the table in front of them.
"It's a queer thing now about that doctor," said Flanagan. "After what Dr. Farelly said to me I made dead sure he'd be pleased to find fairies about the place. But he was not. When I told him it was fairies he looked like a man that wanted to curse and didn't rightly know how. But sure the English is all queer, and the time you'd think you have them pleased is the very time they'd be most vexed with you."
IV. A LUNATIC AT LARGE
It was Tuesday, a Tuesday early in October, Dr. Lovaway finished his breakfast quietly, conscious that he had a long morning before him and nothing particular to do. Tuesday is a quiet day in Dunailin; Wednesday is market day and people are busy, the doctor as well as everybody else. Young women who come into town with butter to sell take the opportunity of having their babies vaccinated on Wednesday. Old women, with baskets on their arms, find it convenient on that day to ask the doctor for something to rub into knee-joints where rheumatic pains are troublesome. Old men, who have ridden into town on their donkeys, consult the doctor about chronic coughs, and seek bottles likely to relieve "an impression on the chest."
Fridays, when the Petty Sessions' Court sits, are almost as busy. Mr. Timothy Flanagan, a magistrate in virtue of the fact that he is Chairman of the Urban District Council, administers justice of a rude and uncertain kind in the Court House. While angry litigants are settling their business there, and repentant drunkards are paying the moderate fines imposed on them, their wives ask the doctor for advice about the treatment of whooping cough or the best way of treating a child which has incautiously stepped into a fire. Fair days, which occur once a month, are the busiest days of all. Everyone is in town on fair days, and every kind of ailment is brought to the doctor. Towards evening he has to put stitches into one or two cut scalps and sometimes set a broken limb. On Mondays and Thursdays the doctor sits in his office for an hour or two to register births and deaths.
But Tuesdays, unless a fair happens to fall on Tuesday, are quiet days. On this particular Tuesday Dr. Lovaway was pleasantly aware that he had nothing whatever to do and might count on having the whole day to himself. It was raining very heavily, but the weather did not trouble him at all. He had a plan for the day which rain could not mar.
He sat down at his writing table, took from a drawer a bundle of foolscap paper, fitted a new nib to his pen and filled his ink bottle. He began to write.
"A Study of the Remarkable Increase of Lunacy in Rural Connaught."
The title looked well. It would, he felt, certainly attract the attention of the editor of The British Medical Journal.
But Dr. Lovaway did not like it. It was not for the editor of The British Medical Journal, or indeed, for a scientific public that he wanted to write. He started fresh on a new sheet of paper.
"Lunacy in the West of Ireland: Its Cause and Cure."
That struck him as the kind of title which would appeal to a philanthropist out to effect a social reform of some kind. But Dr. Lovaway was not satisfied with it. He respected reformers and was convinced of the value of their work, but his real wish was to write something of a literary kind. With prodigal extravagance he tore up another whole sheet of foolscap and began again.
"The Passing of the Gael Ireland's Crowded Madhouses."
He purred a little over that title and then began the article itself. What he wanted to say was clear in his mind. He had been three weeks in Dunailin and he had spent more time over lunatics than anything else. Almost every day he found himself called upon by Sergeant Ra-hilly to "certify" a lunatic, to commit some unfortunate person with diseased intellect to an asylum. Sometimes he signed the required document. Often he hesitated, although he was always supplied by the sergeant and his constables with a wealth of lurid detail about the dangerous and homicidal tendencies of the patient. Dr. Lovaway was profoundly impressed.
He gave his whole mind to the consideration of the problem which pressed on him. He balanced theories. He blamed tea, inter-marriage, potatoes, bad whisky, religious enthusiasm, and did not find any of them nor all of them together satisfactory as explanations of the awful facts. He fell back finally on a theory of race decadence. Already fine phrases were forming themselves in his mind: "The inexpressible beauty of autumnal decay." "The exquisiteness of the decadent efflorescence of a passing race."
He covered a sheet of foolscap with a bare—he called it a detached—statement of the facts about Irish lunacy. He had just begun to recount his own experience when there was a knock at the door. The housekeeper, a legacy from Dr. Farelly, came in to tell him that Constable Malone wished to speak to him. Dr. Lovaway left his MS. with a sigh. He found Constable Malone, a tall man of magnificent physique, standing in the hall, the raindrops dripping from the cape he wore.
"The sergeant is after sending me round to you, sir," said Constable Malone, "to know would it be convenient for you to attend at Ballygran any time this afternoon to certify a lunatic?"
"Surely not another!" said Dr. Lovaway.
"It was myself found him, sir," said the constable with an air of pride in his achievement. "The sergeant bid me say that he'd have Patsy Doolan's car engaged for you, and that him and me would go with you so that you wouldn't have any trouble more than the trouble of going to Ballygran, which is an out-of-the-way place sure enough, and it's a terrible day."
"Is the man violent?" asked Dr. Lovaway.
By way of reply Constable Malone gave a short account of the man's position in life.
"He's some kind of a nephew of Mrs. Finnegan," he said, "and they call him Jimmy Finnegan, though Finnegan might not be his proper name. He does be helping Finnegan himself about the farm, and they say he's middling useful. But, of course, now the harvest's gathered, Finnegan will be able to do well enough without him till the spring."
This did not seem to Dr. Lovaway a sufficient reason for incarcerating Jimmy in an asylum.
"But is he violent?" he repeated. "Is he dangerous to himself or others?"
"He never was the same as other boys," said the constable, "and the way of it with fellows like that is what you wouldn't know. He might be quiet enough to-day and be slaughtering all before him to-morrow. And what Mrs. Finnegan says is that she'd be glad if you'd see the poor boy to-day because she's in dread of what he might do to-morrow night?"
"To-morrow night! Why to-morrow night?"
"There's a change in the moon to-morrow," said the constable, "and they do say that the moon has terrible power over fellows that's took that way."
Dr. Lovaway, who was young and trained in scientific methods, was at first inclined to argue with Constable Malone about the effect of the moon on the human mind. He refrained, reflecting that it is an impious thing to destroy an innocent superstition. One of the great beauties of Celtic Ireland is that it still clings to faiths forsaken by the rest of the world.
At two o'clock that afternoon Dr. Lovaway took his seat on Patsy Doolan's car. It was still raining heavily. Dr. Lovaway wore an overcoat of his own, a garment which had offered excellent protection against rainy days in Manchester. In Dunailin, for a drive to Ballygran, the coat was plainly insufficient. Mr. Flanagan hurried from his shop with a large oilskin cape taken from a peg in his men's outfitting department. Constable Malone, under orders from the sergeant, went to the priest's house and borrowed a waterproof rug. Johnny Conerney, the butcher, appeared at the last moment with a sou'wester which he put on the doctor's head and tied under his chin. It would not be the fault of the people of Dunailin, if Lovaway, with his weak lungs, "died on them."
Patsy Doolan did not contribute anything to the doctor's outfit, but displayed a care for his safety.
"Take a good grip now, doctor," he said. "Take a hold of the little rail there beside you. The mare might be a bit wild on account of the rain, and her only clipped yesterday, and the road to Ballygran is jolty in parts."
Sergeant Rahilly and Constable Malone sat on one side of the car, Dr. Lovaway was on the other. Patsy Doolan sat on the driver's seat. Even with that weight behind her the mare proved herself to be "a bit wild." She went through the village in a series of bounds, shied at everything she saw in the road, and did not settle down until the car turned into a rough track which led up through the mountains to Ballygran. Dr. Lovaway held on tight with both hands. Patsy Doolan, looking back over his left shoulder, spoke words of encouragement.
"It'll be a bit strange to you at first, so it will," he said. "But by the time you're six months in Dunailin we'll have you taught to sit a car, the same as it might be an armchair you were on."
Dr. Lovaway, clinging on for his life while the car bumped over boulders, did not believe that a car would ever become to him as an armchair.
Ballygran is a remote place, very difficult of access. At the bottom of a steep hill, a stream, which seemed a raging torrent to Dr. Lovaway, flowed across the road. The mare objected very strongly to wading through it. Farther on the track along which they drove became precipitous and more stony than ever. Another stream, scorning its properly appointed course, flowed down the road, rolling large stones with it. Patsy Doolan was obliged to get down and lead the mare. After persuading her to advance twenty yards or so he called for the help of the police. Sergeant Rahilly took the other side of the mare's head. Constable Malone pushed at the back of the car. Dr. Lovaway, uncomfortable and rather nervous, wanted to get down and wade too. But the sergeant would not hear of this.
"Let you sit still," he said. "The water's over the tops of my boots, so it is, and where's the use of you getting a wetting that might be the death of you?"
"Is it much farther?" asked Lovaway.
The sergeant considered the matter.
"It might be a mile and a bit," he said, "from where we are this minute."
The mile was certainly an Irish mile, and Dr. Lovaway began to think that there were some things in England, miles for instance, which are better managed than they are in Ireland. "The bit" which followed the mile belonged to a system of measurement even more generous than Irish miles and acres.
"I suppose now," said the sergeant, "that the country you come from is a lot different from this."
He had taken his seat again on the car after leading the mare up the river. He spoke in a cheery, conversational tone. Dr. Lovaway thought of Manchester and the surrounding district, thought of trams, trains, and paved streets.
"It is different," he said, "very different indeed."
Ballygran appeared at last, dimly visible through the driving rain. It was a miserable-looking hovel, roofed with sodden thatch, surrounded by a sea of mud. A bare-footed woman stood in the doorway. She wore a tattered skirt and a bodice fastened across her breast with a brass safety-pin. Behind her stood a tall man in a soiled flannel jacket and a pair of trousers which hung in a ragged fringe round his ankles.
"Come in," said Mrs. Finnegan, "come in the whole of yez. It's a terrible day, sergeant, and I wonder at you bringing the doctor out in the weather that does be it in. Michael"—she turned to her husband who stood behind her—"let Patsy Doolan be putting the mare into the shed, and let you be helping him. Come in now, doctor, and take an air of the fire. I'll wet a cup of tea for you, so I will."
Dr. Lovaway passed through a low door into the cottage. His eyes gradually became accustomed to the gloom inside and to the turf smoke which filled the room. In a corner, seated on a low stool, he saw a young man crouching over the fire.
"That's him," said Mrs. Finnegan. "That's the poor boy, doctor. The sergeant will have been telling you about him."
The boy rose from his stool at the sound of her voice.
"Speak to the gentleman now," said Mrs. Finnegan. "Speak to the doctor, Jimmy alannah, and tell him the way you are."
"Your honour's welcome," said Jimmy, in a thin, cracked voice. "Your honour's welcome surely, though I don't mind that ever I set eyes on you before."
"Whisht now, Jimmy," said the sergeant. "It's the doctor that's come to see you, and it's for your own good he's come."
"I know that," said Jimmy, "and I know he'll be wanting to have me put away. Well, what must be, must be, if it's the will of God, and if it's before me it may as well be now as any other time."
"You see the way he is," said the sergeant.
"And I have the papers here already to be signed."
Dr. Lovaway saw, or believed he saw, exactly how things were. The boy was evidently of weak mind. There was little sign of actual lunacy, no sign at all of violence about him. Mrs. Finnegan added a voluble description of the case.
"It might be a whole day," she said, "and he wouldn't be speaking a word, nor he wouldn't seem to hear if you speak to him, and he'd just sit there by the fire the way you see him without he'd be doing little turns about the place, feeding the pig, or mending a gap in the wall or the like. I will say for Jimmy, the poor boy's always willing to do the best he can."
"Don't be troubling the doctor now, Mrs. Finnegan," said the sergeant. "He knows the way it is with the boy without your telling him. Just let the doctor sign what has to be signed and get done with it. Aren't we wet enough as it is without standing here talking half the day?"
The mention of the wet condition of the party roused Mrs. Finnegan to action. She hung a kettle from a blackened hook in the chimney and piled up turf on the fire. Jimmy was evidently quite intelligent enough to know how to boil water. He took the bellows, went down on his knees, and blew the fire diligently. Mrs. Finnegan spread a somewhat dirty tablecloth on a still dirtier table and laid out cups and saucers on it.
Dr. Lovaway was puzzled. The boy at the fire might be, probably was, mentally deficient. He was not a case for an asylum. He was certainly not likely to become violent or to do any harm either to himself or anyone else. It was not clear why Mrs. Finnegan, who seemed a kindly woman, should wish to have him shut up. It was very difficult to imagine any reason for the action of the police in the matter. Constable Malone had discovered the existence of the boy in this remote place. Sergeant Rahilly had taken a great deal of trouble in preparing papers for his committal to the asylum, and had driven out to Ballygran on a most inclement day. Dr. Lovaway wished he understood what was happening.
Finnegan, having left Patsy Doolan's mare, and apparently Patsy Doolan himself in the shed, came into the house.
Dr. Lovaway appealed to him.
"It doesn't seem to me," he said, "that this boy ought to be sent to an asylum. I shall be glad to hear anything you have to tell me about him."
"Well now," said Mr. Finnegan, "he's a good, quiet kind of a boy, and if he hasn't too much sense there's many another has less."
"That's what I think," said Dr. Lovaway.
Jimmy stopped blowing the fire and looked round suddenly.
"Sure, I know well you're wanting to put me away," he said.
"It's for your own good," said the sergeant.
"It'll do him no harm anyway," said Finnegan, "if so be he's not kept there."
"Kept!" said the sergeant. "Is it likely now that they'd keep a boy like Jimmy? He'll be out again as soon as ever he's in. I'd say now a fortnight is the longest he'll be there."
"I wouldn't like," said Finnegan, "that he'd be kept too long. I'll be wanting him for spring work, but I'm willing to spare him from this till Christmas if you like."
Dr. Lovaway, though a young man and constitutionally timid, was capable of occasional firmness.
"I'm certainly not going to certify that boy as a lunatic," he said.
"Come now, doctor," said the sergeant persuasively, "after coming so far and the wet day and all. What have you to do only to put your name at the bottom of a piece of paper? And Jimmy's willing to go. Aren't you, Jimmy?"
"I'll go if I'm wanted to go," said Jimmy.
The water boiled. Mrs. Finnegan was spreading butter on long slices cut from a home-baked loaf. It was Jimmy who took the kettle from the hook and filled the teapot.
"Mrs. Finnegan," said Dr. Lovaway, "why do you want the boy put into an asylum?"
"Is it me wanting him put away?" she said. "I want no such thing. The notion never entered my head, nor Michael's either, who's been like a father to the boy. Only when Constable Malone came to me, and when it was a matter of pleasing him and the sergeant, I didn't want to be disobliging, for the sergeant is always a good friend of mine, and Constable Malone is a young man I've a liking for. But as for wanting to get rid of Jimmy! Why would I? Nobody'd grudge the bit the creature would eat, and there's many a little turn he'd be doing for me about the house."
Mr. Finnegan was hovering in the background, half hidden in the smoke which filled the house. He felt that he ought to support his wife.
"What I said to the sergeant," he said, "no longer ago than last Friday when I happened to be in town about a case I had on in the Petty Sessions' Court—what I said to the sergeant was this: 'So long as the boy isn't kept there too long, and so long as he's willing to go——'"
Jimmy, seated again on his low stool before the fire, looked up.
"Amn't I ready to go wherever I'm wanted?" he said.
"There you are now, doctor," said the sergeant. "You'll not refuse the poor boy when he wants to go?"
"Sergeant," said Dr. Lovaway, "I can't, I really can't certify that boy is a lunatic. I don't understand why you ask me to. It seems to me——"
Poor Lovaway was much agitated. It seemed to him that he had been drawn into an infamous conspiracy against the liberty of a particularly helpless human being.
"I don't think you ought to have asked me to come here," he said. "I don't think you should have suggested—— It seems to me, sergeant, that your conduct has been most reprehensible. I'm inclined to think I ought to report the matter to—to——" Dr. Lovaway was not quite sure about the proper place to which to send a report about the conduct of a sergeant of the Irish Police. "To the proper authorities," he concluded feebly.
"There, there," said the sergeant, soothingly, "we'll say no more about the matter. I wouldn't like you to be vexed, doctor."
But Dr. Lovaway, having once begun to speak his mind, was not inclined to stop.
"This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened," he said. "You've asked me to certify lunacy in some very doubtful cases. I don't understand your motives, but——"
"Well, well," said the sergeant, "there's no harm done anyway."
Mrs. Finnegan, like all good women, was anxious to keep the peace among the men under her roof.
"Is the tea to your liking, doctor," she said, "or will I give you a taste more sugar in it? I'm a great one for sugar myself, but they tell me there's them that drinks tea with ne'er a grain of sugar in it at all. They must be queer people that do that."
She held a spoon, heaped up with sugar, over the doctor's cup as she spoke. He was obliged to stop lecturing the sergeant in order to convince her that his tea was already quite sweet enough. It was, indeed, far too sweet for his taste, for he was one of those queer people whose tastes Mrs. Finnegan could not understand.
The drive home ought to have been in every way pleasanter than the drive out to Ballygran. Patsy Doolan's mare was subdued in temper; so docile, indeed, that she allowed Jimmy to put her between the shafts. She made no attempt to stand on her hind legs, and did not shy even at a young pig which bolted across the road in front of her. Dr. Lovaway could sit on his side of the car without holding on. The rain had ceased and great wisps of mist were sweeping clear of the hilltops, leaving fine views of grey rock and heather-clad slopes. But Dr. Lovaway did not enjoy himself. Being an Englishman he had a strong sense of duty, and was afflicted as no Irishman ever is by a civic conscience. He felt that he ought to bring home somehow to Sergeant Rahilly a sense of the iniquity of trying to shut up sane, or almost sane, people in lunatic asylums. Being of a gentle and friendly nature he hated making himself unpleasant to anyone, especially to a man like Sergeant Rahilly, who had been very kind to him.
The path of duty was not made any easier to him by the behaviour of the sergeant. Instead of being overwhelmed by a sense of discovered guilt, the police, both Rahilly and Constable Ma-lone, were pleasantly chatty, and evidently bent on making the drive home as agreeable as possible for the doctor. They told him the names of the hills and the more distant mountains. They showed the exact bank at the side of the road from behind which certain murderous men had fired at a land agent in 1885. They explained the route of a light railway which a forgotten Chief Secretary had planned but had never built owing to change of Government and his loss of office. Not one word was said about Jimmy, or lunatics, or asylums. It was with great difficulty that Dr. Lovaway succeeded at last in breaking in on the smooth flow of chatty reminiscences. But when he did speak he spoke strongly. As with most gentle and timid men, his language was almost violent when he had screwed himself up to the point of speaking at all.
The two policemen listened to all he said with the utmost good humour. Indeed, the sergeant supported him.
"You hear what the doctor's saying to you, Constable Malone," he said.
"I do, surely," said the constable.
"Well, I hope you'll attend to it," said the sergeant, "and let there be no more of the sort of work that the doctor's complaining of."
"But I mean you too, sergeant," said Dr. Lovaway. "You're just as much to blame as the constable. Indeed more, for you're his superior officer."
"I know that," said the sergeant; "I know that well. And what's more, I'm thankful to you, doctor, for speaking out what's in your mind. Many a one wouldn't do it. And I know that every word you've been saying is for my good and for the good of Constable Malone, who's a young man yet and might improve if handled right. That's why I'm thanking you, doctor, for what you've said."
When Solomon said that a soft answer turneth away wrath he understated a great truth. A soft answer, if soft enough, will deflect the stroke of the sword of justice. Dr. Lovaway, though his conscience was still uneasy, could say no more. He felt that it was totally impossible to report Sergeant Rahilly's way of dealing with lunatics to the higher authorities.
That night Sergeant Rahilly called on Mr. Flanagan, going into the house by the back door, for the hour was late. He chose porter rather than whisky, feeling perhaps that his nerves needed soothing and that a stronger stimulant might be a little too much for him. After finishing a second bottle and opening a third, he spoke.
"I'm troubled in my mind," he said, "over this new doctor. Here I am doing the best I can for him ever since he came to the town, according to what I promised Dr. Farelly."
"No man," said Flanagan, "could do more than what you've done. Everyone knows that."
"I've set the police scouring the country," said the sergeant, "searching high and low and in and out for anyone, man or woman, that was the least bit queer in the head. They've worked hard, so they have, and I've worked hard myself."
"No man harder," said Flanagan.
"And everyone we found," said the Sergeant, "was a guinea into the doctor's pocket. A guinea, mind you, that's the fee for certifying a lunatic, and devil a penny either I or the constables get out of it."
"Nor you wouldn't be looking for it, sergeant. I know that."
"I would not. And I'm not complaining of getting nothing, But it's damned hard when the doctor won't take what's offered to him, when we've had to work early and late to get it for him. Would you believe it now, Mr. Flanagan, he's refused to certify half of the ones we've found for him?"
"Do you tell me that?" said Flanagan.
"Throwing good money away," said the sergeant; "and to-day, when I took him to see that boy that does be living in Finnegan's, which would have put two guineas into his pocket, on account of being outside his own district, instead of saying 'thank you' like any ordinary man would, nothing would do him only to be cursing and swearing. 'It's a crime,' says he, 'and a scandal,' says he, 'and it's swearing away the liberty of a poor man,' says he; and more to that. Now I ask you, Mr. Flanagan, where's the crime and where's the scandal?"
"There's none," said Flanagan. "What harm would it have done the lad to be put away for a bit?"
"That's what I said to the doctor. What's more, they'd have let the boy out in a fortnight, as soon as they knew what way it was with him. I told the doctor that, but 'crime,' says he, and 'scandal,' says he, and 'conspiracy,' says he. Be damn, but to hear him talk you'd think I was trying to take two guineas out of his pocket instead of trying to put it in, and there's the thanks I get for going out of my way to do the best I could for him so as he'd rest content in this place and let Dr. Farelly stay where he is to be cutting the legs off the Germans."
"It's hard, so it is," said Flanagan, "and I'm sorry for you, sergeant. But that's the way things is. As I was saying to you once before and maybe oftener, the English is queer people, and the more you'd be trying to please them the less they like it. It's not easy to deal with them, and that's a fact."
V. THE BANDS OF BALLYGUTTERY
The Wolfe Tone Republican Club has its headquarters at Ballyguttery. Its members, as may be guessed, profess the strongest form of Nationalism. There are about sixty of them. The Loyal True-Blue Invincibles are an Orange Lodge. They also meet in Ballyguttery. There are between seventy and eighty Loyal Invincibles. There are also in the village ten adult males who are not members of either the club or the lodge. Six of these are policemen. The other four are feeble people of no account, who neglect the first duty of good citizens and take no interest in politics.
Early in September the Wolfe Tone Republicans determined to hold a demonstration. They wished to convince a watching world, especially the United States of America, that the people of Ballyguttery are unanimous and enthusiastic in the cause of Irish independence. They proposed to march through the village street in procession, with a band playing tunes in front of them, and then to listen to speeches made by eminent men in a field.
The Loyal Invincibles heard of the intended demonstration. They could hardly help hearing of it, for the Wolfe Tone Republicans talked of nothing else, and the people of Ballyguttery, whatever their politics, live on friendly terms with each other and enjoy long talks about public affairs.
The Loyal Invincibles at once assembled and passed a long resolution, expressing their determination to put a stop to any National demonstration. They were moved, they said, by the necessity for preserving law and order, safeguarding life and property, and maintaining civil and religious liberty. No intention could have been better than theirs; but the Wolfe Tone Republicans also had excellent intentions, and did not see why they should not demonstrate if they wished to. They invited all the eminent men they could think of to make speeches for them. They also spent a good deal of money on printing, and placarded the walls round the village with posters, announcing that their demonstration would be held on September fifteenth, the anniversary of the execution of their patron Wolfe Tone by the English.