THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
By J. M. Synge
In writing THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, as in my other plays, I have used one or two words only that I have not heard among the country people of Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I could read the newspapers. A certain number of the phrases I employ I have heard also from herds and fishermen along the coast from Kerry to Mayo, or from beggar-women and ballad-singers nearer Dublin; and I am glad to acknowledge how much I owe to the folk imagination of these fine people. Anyone who has lived in real intimacy with the Irish peasantry will know that the wildest sayings and ideas in this play are tame indeed, compared with the fancies one may hear in any little hillside cabin in Geesala, or Carraroe, or Dingle Bay. All art is a collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of literature, striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller's or the playwright's hand, as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time. It is probable that when the Elizabethan dramatist took his ink-horn and sat down to his work he used many phrases that he had just heard, as he sat at dinner, from his mother or his children. In Ireland, those of us who know the people have the same privilege. When I was writing "The Shadow of the Glen," some years ago, I got more aid than any learning could have given me from a chink in the floor of the old Wicklow house where I was staying, that let me hear what was being said by the servant girls in the kitchen. This matter, I think, is of importance, for in countries where the imagination of the people, and the language they use, is rich and living, it is possible for a writer to be rich and copious in his words, and at the same time to give the reality, which is the root of all poetry, in a comprehensive and natural form. In the modern literature of towns, however, richness is found only in sonnets, or prose poems, or in one or two elaborate books that are far away from the profound and common interests of life. One has, on one side, Mallarme and Huysmans producing this literature; and on the other, Ibsen and Zola dealing with the reality of life in joyless and pallid words. On the stage one must have reality, and one must have joy; and that is why the intellectual modern drama has failed, and people have grown sick of the false joy of the musical comedy, that has been given them in place of the rich joy found only in what is superb and wild in reality. In a good play every speech should be as fully flavoured as a nut or apple, and such speeches cannot be written by anyone who works among people who have shut their lips on poetry. In Ireland, for a few years more, we have a popular imagination that is fiery and magnificent, and tender; so that those of us who wish to write start with a chance that is not given to writers in places where the springtime of the local life has been forgotten, and the harvest is a memory only, and the straw has been turned into bricks. J. M. S. January 21st, 1907.
CHRISTOPHER MAHON. OLD MAHON, his father, a squatter. MICHAEL JAMES FLAHERTY (called MICHAEL JAMES), a publican. MARGARET FLAHERTY (called PEGEEN MIKE), his daughter. WIDOW QUIN, a woman of about thirty. SHAWN KEOUGH, her cousin, a young farmer. PHILLY CULLEN AND JIMMY FARRELL, small farmers. SARA TANSEY, SUSAN BRADY, AND HONOR BLAKE, village girls. A BELLMAN. SOME PEASANTS.
The action takes place near a village, on a wild coast of Mayo. The first Act passes on an evening of autumn, the other two Acts on the following day.
THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD
SCENE: [Country public-house or shebeen, very rough and untidy. There is a sort of counter on the right with shelves, holding many bottles and jugs, just seen above it. Empty barrels stand near the counter. At back, a little to left of counter, there is a door into the open air, then, more to the left, there is a settle with shelves above it, with more jugs, and a table beneath a window. At the left there is a large open fire-place, with turf fire, and a small door into inner room. Pegeen, a wild looking but fine girl, of about twenty, is writing at table. She is dressed in the usual peasant dress.]
PEGEEN — [slowly as she writes.] — Six yards of stuff for to make a yellow gown. A pair of lace boots with lengthy heels on them and brassy eyes. A hat is suited for a wedding-day. A fine tooth comb. To be sent with three barrels of porter in Jimmy Farrell's creel cart on the evening of the coming Fair to Mister Michael James Flaherty. With the best compliments of this season. Margaret Flaherty.
SHAWN KEOGH — [a fat and fair young man comes in as she signs, looks round awkwardly, when he sees she is alone.] — Where's himself?
PEGEEN — [without looking at him.] — He's coming. (She directs the letter.) To Mister Sheamus Mulroy, Wine and Spirit Dealer, Castlebar.
SHAWN — [uneasily.] — I didn't see him on the road.
PEGEEN. How would you see him (licks stamp and puts it on letter) and it dark night this half hour gone by?
SHAWN — [turning towards the door again.] — I stood a while outside wondering would I have a right to pass on or to walk in and see you, Pegeen Mike (comes to fire), and I could hear the cows breathing, and sighing in the stillness of the air, and not a step moving any place from this gate to the bridge.
PEGEEN — [putting letter in envelope.] — It's above at the cross-roads he is, meeting Philly Cullen; and a couple more are going along with him to Kate Cassidy's wake.
SHAWN — [looking at her blankly.] — And he's going that length in the dark night?
PEGEEN — [impatiently.] He is surely, and leaving me lonesome on the scruff of the hill. (She gets up and puts envelope on dresser, then winds clock.) Isn't it long the nights are now, Shawn Keogh, to be leaving a poor girl with her own self counting the hours to the dawn of day?
SHAWN — [with awkward humour.] — If it is, when we're wedded in a short while you'll have no call to complain, for I've little will to be walking off to wakes or weddings in the darkness of the night.
PEGEEN — [with rather scornful good humour.] — You're making mighty certain, Shaneen, that I'll wed you now.
SHAWN. Aren't we after making a good bargain, the way we're only waiting these days on Father Reilly's dispensation from the bishops, or the Court of Rome.
PEGEEN — [looking at him teasingly, washing up at dresser.] — It's a wonder, Shaneen, the Holy Father'd be taking notice of the likes of you; for if I was him I wouldn't bother with this place where you'll meet none but Red Linahan, has a squint in his eye, and Patcheen is lame in his heel, or the mad Mulrannies were driven from California and they lost in their wits. We're a queer lot these times to go troubling the Holy Father on his sacred seat.
SHAWN — [scandalized.] If we are, we're as good this place as another, maybe, and as good these times as we were for ever.
PEGEEN — [with scorn.] — As good, is it? Where now will you meet the like of Daneen Sullivan knocked the eye from a peeler, or Marcus Quin, God rest him, got six months for maiming ewes, and he a great warrant to tell stories of holy Ireland till he'd have the old women shedding down tears about their feet. Where will you find the like of them, I'm saying?
SHAWN — [timidly.] If you don't it's a good job, maybe; for (with peculiar emphasis on the words) Father Reilly has small conceit to have that kind walking around and talking to the girls.
PEGEEN — [impatiently, throwing water from basin out of the door.] — Stop tormenting me with Father Reilly (imitating his voice) when I'm asking only what way I'll pass these twelve hours of dark, and not take my death with the fear. [Looking out of door.]
SHAWN — [timidly.] Would I fetch you the widow Quin, maybe?
PEGEEN. Is it the like of that murderer? You'll not, surely.
SHAWN — [going to her, soothingly.] — Then I'm thinking himself will stop along with you when he sees you taking on, for it'll be a long night-time with great darkness, and I'm after feeling a kind of fellow above in the furzy ditch, groaning wicked like a maddening dog, the way it's good cause you have, maybe, to be fearing now.
PEGEEN — [turning on him sharply.] — What's that? Is it a man you seen?
SHAWN — [retreating.] I couldn't see him at all; but I heard him groaning out, and breaking his heart. It should have been a young man from his words speaking.
PEGEEN — [going after him.] — And you never went near to see was he hurted or what ailed him at all?
SHAWN. I did not, Pegeen Mike. It was a dark, lonesome place to be hearing the like of him.
PEGEEN. Well, you're a daring fellow, and if they find his corpse stretched above in the dews of dawn, what'll you say then to the peelers, or the Justice of the Peace?
SHAWN — [thunderstruck.] I wasn't thinking of that. For the love of God, Pegeen Mike, don't let on I was speaking of him. Don't tell your father and the men is coming above; for if they heard that story, they'd have great blabbing this night at the wake.
PEGEEN. I'll maybe tell them, and I'll maybe not.
SHAWN. They are coming at the door, Will you whisht, I'm saying?
PEGEEN. Whisht yourself.
[She goes behind counter. Michael James, fat jovial publican, comes in followed by Philly Cullen, who is thin and mistrusting, and Jimmy Farrell, who is fat and amorous, about forty-five.]
MEN — [together.] — God bless you. The blessing of God on this place.
PEGEEN. God bless you kindly.
MICHAEL — [to men who go to the counter.] — Sit down now, and take your rest. (Crosses to Shawn at the fire.) And how is it you are, Shawn Keogh? Are you coming over the sands to Kate Cassidy's wake?
SHAWN. I am not, Michael James. I'm going home the short cut to my bed.
PEGEEN — [speaking across the counter.] — He's right too, and have you no shame, Michael James, to be quitting off for the whole night, and leaving myself lonesome in the shop?
MICHAEL — [good-humouredly.] Isn't it the same whether I go for the whole night or a part only? and I'm thinking it's a queer daughter you are if you'd have me crossing backward through the Stooks of the Dead Women, with a drop taken.
PEGEEN. If I am a queer daughter, it's a queer father'd be leaving me lonesome these twelve hours of dark, and I piling the turf with the dogs barking, and the calves mooing, and my own teeth rattling with the fear.
JIMMY — [flatteringly.] — What is there to hurt you, and you a fine, hardy girl would knock the head of any two men in the place?
PEGEEN — [working herself up.] — Isn't there the harvest boys with their tongues red for drink, and the ten tinkers is camped in the east glen, and the thousand militia — bad cess to them! — walking idle through the land. There's lots surely to hurt me, and I won't stop alone in it, let himself do what he will.
MICHAEL. If you're that afeard, let Shawn Keogh stop along with you. It's the will of God, I'm thinking, himself should be seeing to you now. [They all turn on Shawn.]
SHAWN — [in horrified confusion.] — I would and welcome, Michael James, but I'm afeard of Father Reilly; and what at all would the Holy Father and the Cardinals of Rome be saying if they heard I did the like of that?
MICHAEL — [with contempt.] — God help you! Can't you sit in by the hearth with the light lit and herself beyond in the room? You'll do that surely, for I've heard tell there's a queer fellow above, going mad or getting his death, maybe, in the gripe of the ditch, so she'd be safer this night with a person here.
SHAWN — [with plaintive despair.] — I'm afeard of Father Reilly, I'm saying. Let you not be tempting me, and we near married itself.
PHILLY — [with cold contempt.] — Lock him in the west room. He'll stay then and have no sin to be telling to the priest.
MICHAEL — [to Shawn, getting between him and the door.] — Go up now.
SHAWN — [at the top of his voice.] — Don't stop me, Michael James. Let me out of the door, I'm saying, for the love of the Almighty God. Let me out (trying to dodge past him). Let me out of it, and may God grant you His indulgence in the hour of need.
MICHAEL — [loudly.] Stop your noising, and sit down by the hearth. [Gives him a push and goes to counter laughing.]
SHAWN — [turning back, wringing his hands.] — Oh, Father Reilly and the saints of God, where will I hide myself to-day? Oh, St. Joseph and St. Patrick and St. Brigid, and St. James, have mercy on me now! [Shawn turns round, sees door clear, and makes a rush for it.]
MICHAEL — [catching him by the coattail.] — You'd be going, is it?
SHAWN — [screaming.] Leave me go, Michael James, leave me go, you old Pagan, leave me go, or I'll get the curse of the priests on you, and of the scarlet-coated bishops of the courts of Rome. [With a sudden movement he pulls himself out of his coat, and disappears out of the door, leaving his coat in Michael's hands.]
MICHAEL — [turning round, and holding up coat.] — Well, there's the coat of a Christian man. Oh, there's sainted glory this day in the lonesome west; and by the will of God I've got you a decent man, Pegeen, you'll have no call to be spying after if you've a score of young girls, maybe, weeding in your fields.
PEGEEN [taking up the defence of her property.] — What right have you to be making game of a poor fellow for minding the priest, when it's your own the fault is, not paying a penny pot-boy to stand along with me and give me courage in the doing of my work? [She snaps the coat away from him, and goes behind counter with it.]
MICHAEL — [taken aback.] — Where would I get a pot-boy? Would you have me send the bell-man screaming in the streets of Castlebar?
SHAWN — [opening the door a chink and putting in his head, in a small voice.] — Michael James!
MICHAEL — [imitating him.] — What ails you?
SHAWN. The queer dying fellow's beyond looking over the ditch. He's come up, I'm thinking, stealing your hens. (Looks over his shoulder.) God help me, he's following me now (he runs into room), and if he's heard what I said, he'll be having my life, and I going home lonesome in the darkness of the night. [For a perceptible moment they watch the door with curiosity. Some one coughs outside. Then Christy Mahon, a slight young man, comes in very tired and frightened and dirty.]
CHRISTY — [in a small voice.] — God save all here!
MEN. God save you kindly.
CHRISTY — [going to the counter.] — I'd trouble you for a glass of porter, woman of the house. [He puts down coin.]
PEGEEN — [serving him.] — You're one of the tinkers, young fellow, is beyond camped in the glen?
CHRISTY. I am not; but I'm destroyed walking.
MICHAEL — [patronizingly.] Let you come up then to the fire. You're looking famished with the cold.
CHRISTY. God reward you. (He takes up his glass and goes a little way across to the left, then stops and looks about him.) Is it often the police do be coming into this place, master of the house?
MICHAEL. If you'd come in better hours, you'd have seen "Licensed for the sale of Beer and Spirits, to be consumed on the premises," written in white letters above the door, and what would the polis want spying on me, and not a decent house within four miles, the way every living Christian is a bona fide, saving one widow alone?
CHRISTY — [with relief.] — It's a safe house, so. [He goes over to the fire, sighing and moaning. Then he sits down, putting his glass beside him and begins gnawing a turnip, too miserable to feel the others staring at him with curiosity.]
MICHAEL — [going after him.] — Is it yourself fearing the polis? You're wanting, maybe?
CHRISTY. There's many wanting.
MICHAEL. Many surely, with the broken harvest and the ended wars. (He picks up some stockings, etc., that are near the fire, and carries them away furtively.) It should be larceny, I'm thinking?
CHRISTY — [dolefully.] I had it in my mind it was a different word and a bigger.
PEGEEN. There's a queer lad. Were you never slapped in school, young fellow, that you don't know the name of your deed?
CHRISTY — [bashfully.] I'm slow at learning, a middling scholar only.
MICHAEL. If you're a dunce itself, you'd have a right to know that larceny's robbing and stealing. Is it for the like of that you're wanting?
CHRISTY — [with a flash of family pride.] — And I the son of a strong farmer (with a sudden qualm), God rest his soul, could have bought up the whole of your old house a while since, from the butt of his tailpocket, and not have missed the weight of it gone.
MICHAEL — [impressed.] If it's not stealing, it's maybe something big.
CHRISTY — [flattered.] Aye; it's maybe something big.
JIMMY. He's a wicked-looking young fellow. Maybe he followed after a young woman on a lonesome night.
CHRISTY — [shocked.] Oh, the saints forbid, mister; I was all times a decent lad.
PHILLY — [turning on Jimmy.] — You're a silly man, Jimmy Farrell. He said his father was a farmer a while since, and there's himself now in a poor state. Maybe the land was grabbed from him, and he did what any decent man would do.
MICHAEL — [to Christy, mysteriously.] — Was it bailiffs?
CHRISTY. The divil a one.
CHRISTY. The divil a one.
CHRISTY — [peevishly.] Ah, not at all, I'm saying. You'd see the like of them stories on any little paper of a Munster town. But I'm not calling to mind any person, gentle, simple, judge or jury, did the like of me. [They all draw nearer with delighted curiosity.]
PHILLY. Well, that lad's a puzzle—the world.
JIMMY. He'd beat Dan Davies' circus, or the holy missioners making sermons on the villainy of man. Try him again, Philly.
PHILLY. Did you strike golden guineas out of solder, young fellow, or shilling coins itself?
CHRISTY. I did not, mister, not sixpence nor a farthing coin.
JIMMY. Did you marry three wives maybe? I'm told there's a sprinkling have done that among the holy Luthers of the preaching north.
CHRISTY — [shyly.] — I never married with one, let alone with a couple or three.
PHILLY. Maybe he went fighting for the Boers, the like of the man beyond, was judged to be hanged, quartered and drawn. Were you off east, young fellow, fighting bloody wars for Kruger and the freedom of the Boers?
CHRISTY. I never left my own parish till Tuesday was a week.
PEGEEN — [coming from counter.] — He's done nothing, so. (To Christy.) If you didn't commit murder or a bad, nasty thing, or false coining, or robbery, or butchery, or the like of them, there isn't anything that would be worth your troubling for to run from now. You did nothing at all.
CHRISTY — [his feelings hurt.] — That's an unkindly thing to be saying to a poor orphaned traveller, has a prison behind him, and hanging before, and hell's gap gaping below.
PEGEEN [with a sign to the men to be quiet.] — You're only saying it. You did nothing at all. A soft lad the like of you wouldn't slit the windpipe of a screeching sow.
CHRISTY — [offended.] You're not speaking the truth.
PEGEEN — [in mock rage.] — Not speaking the truth, is it? Would you have me knock the head of you with the butt of the broom?
CHRISTY — [twisting round on her with a sharp cry of horror.] — Don't strike me. I killed my poor father, Tuesday was a week, for doing the like of that.
PEGEEN [with blank amazement.] — Is it killed your father?
CHRISTY — [subsiding.] With the help of God I did surely, and that the Holy Immaculate Mother may intercede for his soul.
PHILLY — [retreating with Jimmy.] — There's a daring fellow.
JIMMY. Oh, glory be to God!
MICHAEL — [with great respect.] — That was a hanging crime, mister honey. You should have had good reason for doing the like of that.
CHRISTY — [in a very reasonable tone.] — He was a dirty man, God forgive him, and he getting old and crusty, the way I couldn't put up with him at all.
PEGEEN. And you shot him dead?
CHRISTY — [shaking his head.] — I never used weapons. I've no license, and I'm a law-fearing man.
MICHAEL. It was with a hilted knife maybe? I'm told, in the big world it's bloody knives they use.
CHRISTY — [loudly, scandalized.] — Do you take me for a slaughter-boy?
PEGEEN. You never hanged him, the way Jimmy Farrell hanged his dog from the license, and had it screeching and wriggling three hours at the butt of a string, and himself swearing it was a dead dog, and the peelers swearing it had life?
CHRISTY. I did not then. I just riz the loy and let fall the edge of it on the ridge of his skull, and he went down at my feet like an empty sack, and never let a grunt or groan from him at all.
MICHAEL — [making a sign to Pegeen to fill Christy's glass.] — And what way weren't you hanged, mister? Did you bury him then?
CHRISTY — [considering.] Aye. I buried him then. Wasn't I digging spuds in the field?
MICHAEL. And the peelers never followed after you the eleven days that you're out?
CHRISTY — [shaking his head.] — Never a one of them, and I walking forward facing hog, dog, or divil on the highway of the road.
PHILLY — [nodding wisely.] — It's only with a common week-day kind of a murderer them lads would be trusting their carcase, and that man should be a great terror when his temper's roused.
MICHAEL. He should then. (To Christy.) And where was it, mister honey, that you did the deed?
CHRISTY — [looking at him with suspicion.] — Oh, a distant place, master of the house, a windy corner of high, distant hills.
PHILLY — [nodding with approval.] — He's a close man, and he's right, surely.
PEGEEN. That'd be a lad with the sense of Solomon to have for a pot-boy, Michael James, if it's the truth you're seeking one at all.
PHILLY. The peelers is fearing him, and if you'd that lad in the house there isn't one of them would come smelling around if the dogs itself were lapping poteen from the dungpit of the yard.
JIMMY. Bravery's a treasure in a lonesome place, and a lad would kill his father, I'm thinking, would face a foxy divil with a pitchpike on the flags of hell.
PEGEEN. It's the truth they're saying, and if I'd that lad in the house, I wouldn't be fearing the loosed kharki cut-throats, or the walking dead.
CHRISTY — [swelling with surprise and triumph.] — Well, glory be to God!
MICHAEL — [with deference.] — Would you think well to stop here and be pot-boy, mister honey, if we gave you good wages, and didn't destroy you with the weight of work?
SHAWN — [coming forward uneasily.] — That'd be a queer kind to bring into a decent quiet household with the like of Pegeen Mike.
PEGEEN — [very sharply.] — Will you whisht? Who's speaking to you?
SHAWN — [retreating.] A bloody-handed murderer the like of...
PEGEEN — [snapping at him.] — Whisht I am saying; we'll take no fooling from your like at all. (To Christy with a honeyed voice.) And you, young fellow, you'd have a right to stop, I'm thinking, for we'd do our all and utmost to content your needs.
CHRISTY — [overcome with wonder.] — And I'd be safe in this place from the searching law?
MICHAEL. You would, surely. If they're not fearing you, itself, the peelers in this place is decent droughty poor fellows, wouldn't touch a cur dog and not give warning in the dead of night.
PEGEEN — [very kindly and persuasively.] — Let you stop a short while anyhow. Aren't you destroyed walking with your feet in bleeding blisters, and your whole skin needing washing like a Wicklow sheep.
CHRISTY — [looking round with satisfaction.] It's a nice room, and if it's not humbugging me you are, I'm thinking that I'll surely stay.
JIMMY — [jumps up.] — Now, by the grace of God, herself will be safe this night, with a man killed his father holding danger from the door, and let you come on, Michael James, or they'll have the best stuff drunk at the wake.
MICHAEL — [going to the door with men.] And begging your pardon, mister, what name will we call you, for we'd like to know?
CHRISTY. Christopher Mahon.
MICHAEL. Well, God bless you, Christy, and a good rest till we meet again when the sun'll be rising to the noon of day.
CHRISTY. God bless you all.
MEN. God bless you. [They go out except Shawn, who lingers at door.]
SHAWN — [to Pegeen.] — Are you wanting me to stop along with you and keep you from harm?
PEGEEN — [gruffly.] Didn't you say you were fearing Father Reilly?
SHAWN. There'd be no harm staying now, I'm thinking, and himself in it too.
PEGEEN. You wouldn't stay when there was need for you, and let you step off nimble this time when there's none.
SHAWN. Didn't I say it was Father Reilly...
PEGEEN. Go on, then, to Father Reilly (in a jeering tone), and let him put you in the holy brotherhoods, and leave that lad to me.
SHAWN. If I meet the Widow Quin...
PEGEEN. Go on, I'm saying, and don't be waking this place with your noise. (She hustles him out and bolts the door.) That lad would wear the spirits from the saints of peace. (Bustles about, then takes off her apron and pins it up in the window as a blind. Christy watching her timidly. Then she comes to him and speaks with bland good-humour.) Let you stretch out now by the fire, young fellow. You should be destroyed travelling.
CHRISTY — [shyly again, drawing off his boots.] I'm tired, surely, walking wild eleven days, and waking fearful in the night. [He holds up one of his feet, feeling his blisters, and looking at them with compassion.]
PEGEEN — [standing beside him, watching him with delight.] — You should have had great people in your family, I'm thinking, with the little, small feet you have, and you with a kind of a quality name, the like of what you'd find on the great powers and potentates of France and Spain.
CHRISTY — [with pride.] — We were great surely, with wide and windy acres of rich Munster land.
PEGEEN. Wasn't I telling you, and you a fine, handsome young fellow with a noble brow?
CHRISTY — [with a flash of delighted surprise.] Is it me?
PEGEEN. Aye. Did you never hear that from the young girls where you come from in the west or south?
CHRISTY — [with venom.] — I did not then. Oh, they're bloody liars in the naked parish where I grew a man.
PEGEEN. If they are itself, you've heard it these days, I'm thinking, and you walking the world telling out your story to young girls or old.
CHRISTY. I've told my story no place till this night, Pegeen Mike, and it's foolish I was here, maybe, to be talking free, but you're decent people, I'm thinking, and yourself a kindly woman, the way I wasn't fearing you at all.
PEGEEN — [filling a sack with straw.] — You've said the like of that, maybe, in every cot and cabin where you've met a young girl on your way.
CHRISTY — [going over to her, gradually raising his voice.] — I've said it nowhere till this night, I'm telling you, for I've seen none the like of you the eleven long days I am walking the world, looking over a low ditch or a high ditch on my north or my south, into stony scattered fields, or scribes of bog, where you'd see young, limber girls, and fine prancing women making laughter with the men.
PEGEEN. If you weren't destroyed travelling, you'd have as much talk and streeleen, I'm thinking, as Owen Roe O'Sullivan or the poets of the Dingle Bay, and I've heard all times it's the poets are your like, fine fiery fellows with great rages when their temper's roused.
CHRISTY — [drawing a little nearer to her.] — You've a power of rings, God bless you, and would there be any offence if I was asking are you single now?
PEGEEN. What would I want wedding so young?
CHRISTY — [with relief.] — We're alike, so.
PEGEEN — [she puts sack on settle and beats it up.] — I never killed my father. I'd be afeard to do that, except I was the like of yourself with blind rages tearing me within, for I'm thinking you should have had great tussling when the end was come.
CHRISTY — [expanding with delight at the first confidential talk he has ever had with a woman.] — We had not then. It was a hard woman was come over the hill, and if he was always a crusty kind when he'd a hard woman setting him on, not the divil himself or his four fathers could put up with him at all.
PEGEEN — [with curiosity.] — And isn't it a great wonder that one wasn't fearing you?
CHRISTY — [very confidentially.] — Up to the day I killed my father, there wasn't a person in Ireland knew the kind I was, and I there drinking, waking, eating, sleeping, a quiet, simple poor fellow with no man giving me heed.
PEGEEN — [getting a quilt out of the cupboard and putting it on the sack.] — It was the girls were giving you heed maybe, and I'm thinking it's most conceit you'd have to be gaming with their like.
CHRISTY — [shaking his head, with simplicity.] Not the girls itself, and I won't tell you a lie. There wasn't anyone heeding me in that place saving only the dumb beasts of the field. [He sits down at fire.]
PEGEEN — [with disappointment.] — And I thinking you should have been living the like of a king of Norway or the Eastern world. [She comes and sits beside him after placing bread and mug of milk on the table.]
CHRISTY — [laughing piteously.] — The like of a king, is it? And I after toiling, moiling, digging, dodging from the dawn till dusk with never a sight of joy or sport saving only when I'd be abroad in the dark night poaching rabbits on hills, for I was a devil to poach, God forgive me, (very naively) and I near got six months for going with a dung fork and stabbing a fish.
PEGEEN. And it's that you'd call sport, is it, to be abroad in the darkness with yourself alone?
CHRISTY. I did, God help me, and there I'd be as happy as the sunshine of St. Martin's Day, watching the light passing the north or the patches of fog, till I'd hear a rabbit starting to screech and I'd go running in the furze. Then when I'd my full share I'd come walking down where you'd see the ducks and geese stretched sleeping on the highway of the road, and before I'd pass the dunghill, I'd hear himself snoring out, a loud lonesome snore he'd be making all times, the while he was sleeping, and he a man 'd be raging all times, the while he was waking, like a gaudy officer you'd hear cursing and damning and swearing oaths.
PEGEEN. Providence and Mercy, spare us all!
CHRISTY. It's that you'd say surely if you seen him and he after drinking for weeks, rising up in the red dawn, or before it maybe, and going out into the yard as naked as an ash tree in the moon of May, and shying clods against the visage of the stars till he'd put the fear of death into the banbhs and the screeching sows.
PEGEEN. I'd be well-night afeard of that lad myself, I'm thinking. And there was no one in it but the two of you alone?
CHRISTY. The divil a one, though he'd sons and daughters walking all great states and territories of the world, and not a one of them, to this day, but would say their seven curses on him, and they rousing up to let a cough or sneeze, maybe, in the deadness of the night.
PEGEEN [nodding her head.] — Well, you should have been a queer lot. I never cursed my father the like of that, though I'm twenty and more years of age.
CHRISTY. Then you'd have cursed mine, I'm telling you, and he a man never gave peace to any, saving when he'd get two months or three, or be locked in the asylums for battering peelers or assaulting men (with depression) the way it was a bitter life he led me till I did up a Tuesday and halve his skull.
PEGEEN — [putting her hand on his shoulder.] — Well, you'll have peace in this place, Christy Mahon, and none to trouble you, and it's near time a fine lad like you should have your good share of the earth.
CHRISTY. It's time surely, and I a seemly fellow with great strength in me and bravery of... [Someone knocks.]
CHRISTY — [clinging to Pegeen.] — Oh, glory! it's late for knocking, and this last while I'm in terror of the peelers, and the walking dead. [Knocking again.]
PEGEEN. Who's there?
VOICE — [outside.] Me.
PEGEEN. Who's me?
VOICE. The Widow Quin.
PEGEEN [jumping up and giving him the bread and milk.] — Go on now with your supper, and let on to be sleepy, for if she found you were such a warrant to talk, she'd be stringing gabble till the dawn of day. (He takes bread and sits shyly with his back to the door.)
PEGEEN [opening door, with temper.] — What ails you, or what is it you're wanting at this hour of the night?
WIDOW QUIN — [coming in a step and peering at Christy.] — I'm after meeting Shawn Keogh and Father Reilly below, who told me of your curiosity man, and they fearing by this time he was maybe roaring, romping on your hands with drink.
PEGEEN [pointing to Christy.] — Look now is he roaring, and he stretched away drowsy with his supper and his mug of milk. Walk down and tell that to Father Reilly and to Shaneen Keogh.
WIDOW QUIN — [coming forward.] — I'll not see them again, for I've their word to lead that lad forward for to lodge with me.
PEGEEN — [in blank amazement.] — This night, is it?
WIDOW QUIN — [going over.] — This night. "It isn't fitting," says the priesteen, "to have his likeness lodging with an orphaned girl." (To Christy.) God save you, mister!
CHRISTY — [shyly.] — God save you kindly.
WIDOW QUIN — [looking at him with half-amazed curiosity.] — Well, aren't you a little smiling fellow? It should have been great and bitter torments did rouse your spirits to a deed of blood.
CHRISTY — [doubtfully.] It should, maybe.
WIDOW QUIN. It's more than "maybe" I'm saying, and it'd soften my heart to see you sitting so simple with your cup and cake, and you fitter to be saying your catechism than slaying your da.
PEGEEN — [at counter, washing glasses.] — There's talking when any'd see he's fit to be holding his head high with the wonders of the world. Walk on from this, for I'll not have him tormented and he destroyed travelling since Tuesday was a week.
WIDOW QUIN — [peaceably.] We'll be walking surely when his supper's done, and you'll find we're great company, young fellow, when it's of the like of you and me you'd hear the penny poets singing in an August Fair.
CHRISTY — [innocently.] Did you kill your father?
PEGEEN — [contemptuously.] She did not. She hit himself with a worn pick, and the rusted poison did corrode his blood the way he never overed it, and died after. That was a sneaky kind of murder did win small glory with the boys itself. [She crosses to Christy's left.]
WIDOW QUIN — [with good-humour.] — If it didn't, maybe all knows a widow woman has buried her children and destroyed her man is a wiser comrade for a young lad than a girl, the like of you, who'd go helter-skeltering after any man would let you a wink upon the road.
PEGEEN — [breaking out into wild rage.] — And you'll say that, Widow Quin, and you gasping with the rage you had racing the hill beyond to look on his face.
WIDOW QUIN — [laughing derisively.] — Me, is it? Well, Father Reilly has cuteness to divide you now. (She pulls Christy up.) There's great temptation in a man did slay his da, and we'd best be going, young fellow; so rise up and come with me.
PEGEEN — [seizing his arm.] — He'll not stir. He's pot-boy in this place, and I'll not have him stolen off and kidnabbed while himself's abroad.
WIDOW QUIN. It'd be a crazy pot-boy'd lodge him in the shebeen where he works by day, so you'd have a right to come on, young fellow, till you see my little houseen, a perch off on the rising hill.
PEGEEN. Wait till morning, Christy Mahon. Wait till you lay eyes on her leaky thatch is growing more pasture for her buck goat than her square of fields, and she without a tramp itself to keep in order her place at all.
WIDOW QUIN. When you see me contriving in my little gardens, Christy Mahon, you'll swear the Lord God formed me to be living lone, and that there isn't my match in Mayo for thatching, or mowing, or shearing a sheep.
PEGEEN — [with noisy scorn.] — It's true the Lord God formed you to contrive indeed. Doesn't the world know you reared a black lamb at your own breast, so that the Lord Bishop of Connaught felt the elements of a Christian, and he eating it after in a kidney stew? Doesn't the world know you've been seen shaving the foxy skipper from France for a threepenny bit and a sop of grass tobacco would wring the liver from a mountain goat you'd meet leaping the hills?
WIDOW QUIN — [with amusement.] — Do you hear her now, young fellow? Do you hear the way she'll be rating at your own self when a week is by?
PEGEEN — [to Christy.] — Don't heed her. Tell her to go into her pigsty and not plague us here.
WIDOW QUIN. I'm going; but he'll come with me.
PEGEEN — [shaking him.] — Are you dumb, young fellow?
CHRISTY — [timidly, to Widow Quin.] — God increase you; but I'm pot-boy in this place, and it's here I'd liefer stay.
PEGEEN — [triumphantly.] Now you have heard him, and go on from this.
WIDOW QUIN — [looking round the room.] — It's lonesome this hour crossing the hill, and if he won't come along with me, I'd have a right maybe to stop this night with yourselves. Let me stretch out on the settle, Pegeen Mike; and himself can lie by the hearth.
PEGEEN — [short and fiercely.] — Faith, I won't. Quit off or I will send you now.
WIDOW QUIN — [gathering her shawl up.] — Well, it's a terror to be aged a score. (To Christy.) God bless you now, young fellow, and let you be wary, or there's right torment will await you here if you go romancing with her like, and she waiting only, as they bade me say, on a sheepskin parchment to be wed with Shawn Keogh of Killakeen.
CHRISTY — [going to Pegeen as she bolts the door.] — What's that she's after saying?
PEGEEN. Lies and blather, you've no call to mind. Well, isn't Shawn Keogh an impudent fellow to send up spying on me? Wait till I lay hands on him. Let him wait, I'm saying.
CHRISTY. And you're not wedding him at all?
PEGEEN. I wouldn't wed him if a bishop came walking for to join us here.
CHRISTY. That God in glory may be thanked for that.
PEGEEN. There's your bed now. I've put a quilt upon you I'm after quilting a while since with my own two hands, and you'd best stretch out now for your sleep, and may God give you a good rest till I call you in the morning when the cocks will crow.
CHRISTY — [as she goes to inner room.] — May God and Mary and St. Patrick bless you and reward you, for your kindly talk. [She shuts the door behind her. He settles his bed slowly, feeling the quilt with immense satisfaction.] — Well, it's a clean bed and soft with it, and it's great luck and company I've won me in the end of time — two fine women fighting for the likes of me — till I'm thinking this night wasn't I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in the years gone by.
SCENE, [as before. Brilliant morning light. Christy, looking bright and cheerful, is cleaning a girl's boots.]
CHRISTY — [to himself, counting jugs on dresser.] — Half a hundred beyond. Ten there. A score that's above. Eighty jugs. Six cups and a broken one. Two plates. A power of glasses. Bottles, a school-master'd be hard set to count, and enough in them, I'm thinking, to drunken all the wealth and wisdom of the County Clare. (He puts down the boot carefully.) There's her boots now, nice and decent for her evening use, and isn't it grand brushes she has? (He puts them down and goes by degrees to the looking-glass.) Well, this'd be a fine place to be my whole life talking out with swearing Christians, in place of my old dogs and cat, and I stalking around, smoking my pipe and drinking my fill, and never a day's work but drawing a cork an odd time, or wiping a glass, or rinsing out a shiny tumbler for a decent man. (He takes the looking-glass from the wall and puts it on the back of a chair; then sits down in front of it and begins washing his face.) Didn't I know rightly I was handsome, though it was the divil's own mirror we had beyond, would twist a squint across an angel's brow; and I'll be growing fine from this day, the way I'll have a soft lovely skin on me and won't be the like of the clumsy young fellows do be ploughing all times in the earth and dung. (He starts.) Is she coming again? (He looks out.) Stranger girls. God help me, where'll I hide myself away and my long neck nacked to the world? (He looks out.) I'd best go to the room maybe till I'm dressed again. [He gathers up his coat and the looking-glass, and runs into the inner room. The door is pushed open, and Susan Brady looks in, and knocks on door.]
SUSAN. There's nobody in it. [Knocks again.]
NELLY — [pushing her in and following her, with Honor Blake and Sara Tansey.] It'd be early for them both to be out walking the hill.
SUSAN. I'm thinking Shawn Keogh was making game of us and there's no such man in it at all.
HONOR — [pointing to straw and quilt.] — Look at that. He's been sleeping there in the night. Well, it'll be a hard case if he's gone off now, the way we'll never set our eyes on a man killed his father, and we after rising early and destroying ourselves running fast on the hill.
NELLY. Are you thinking them's his boots?
SARA — [taking them up.] — If they are, there should be his father's track on them. Did you never read in the papers the way murdered men do bleed and drip?
SUSAN. Is that blood there, Sara Tansey?
SARAH — [smelling it.] — That's bog water, I'm thinking, but it's his own they are surely, for I never seen the like of them for whity mud, and red mud, and turf on them, and the fine sands of the sea. That man's been walking, I'm telling you. [She goes down right, putting on one of his boots.]
SUSAN — [going to window.] — Maybe he's stolen off to Belmullet with the boots of Michael James, and you'd have a right so to follow after him, Sara Tansey, and you the one yoked the ass cart and drove ten miles to set your eyes on the man bit the yellow lady's nostril on the northern shore. [She looks out.]
SARA — [running to window with one boot on.] — Don't be talking, and we fooled to-day. (Putting on other boot.) There's a pair do fit me well, and I'll be keeping them for walking to the priest, when you'd be ashamed this place, going up winter and summer with nothing worth while to confess at all.
HONOR — [who has been listening at the door.] — Whisht! there's someone inside the room. (She pushes door a chink open.) It's a man. [Sara kicks off boots and puts them where they were. They all stand in a line looking through chink.]
SARA. I'll call him. Mister! Mister! (He puts in his head.) Is Pegeen within?
CHRISTY — [coming in as meek as a mouse, with the looking-glass held behind his back.] — She's above on the cnuceen, seeking the nanny goats, the way she'd have a sup of goat's milk for to colour my tea.
SARA. And asking your pardon, is it you's the man killed his father?
CHRISTY — [sidling toward the nail where the glass was hanging.] — I am, God help me!
SARA — [taking eggs she has brought.] — Then my thousand welcomes to you, and I've run up with a brace of duck's eggs for your food today. Pegeen's ducks is no use, but these are the real rich sort. Hold out your hand and you'll see it's no lie I'm telling you.
CHRISTY — [coming forward shyly, and holding out his left hand.] — They're a great and weighty size.
SUSAN. And I run up with a pat of butter, for it'd be a poor thing to have you eating your spuds dry, and you after running a great way since you did destroy your da.
CHRISTY. Thank you kindly.
HONOR. And I brought you a little cut of cake, for you should have a thin stomach on you, and you that length walking the world.
NELLY. And I brought you a little laying pullet — boiled and all she is — was crushed at the fall of night by the curate's car. Feel the fat of that breast, Mister.
CHRISTY. It's bursting, surely. [He feels it with the back of his hand, in which he holds the presents.]
SARA. Will you pinch it? Is your right hand too sacred for to use at all? (She slips round behind him.) It's a glass he has. Well, I never seen to this day a man with a looking-glass held to his back. Them that kills their fathers is a vain lot surely. [Girls giggle.]
CHRISTY — [smiling innocently and piling presents on glass.] — I'm very thankful to you all to-day...
WIDOW QUIN — [coming in quickly, at door.] — Sara Tansey, Susan Brady, Honor Blake! What in glory has you here at this hour of day?
GIRLS — [giggling.] That's the man killed his father.
WIDOW QUIN — [coming to them.] — I know well it's the man; and I'm after putting him down in the sports below for racing, leaping, pitching, and the Lord knows what.
SARA — [exuberantly.] That's right, Widow Quin. I'll bet my dowry that he'll lick the world.
WIDOW QUIN. If you will, you'd have a right to have him fresh and nourished in place of nursing a feast. (Taking presents.) Are you fasting or fed, young fellow?
CHRISTY. Fasting, if you please.
WIDOW QUIN — [loudly.] Well, you're the lot. Stir up now and give him his breakfast. (To Christy.) Come here to me (she puts him on bench beside her while the girls make tea and get his breakfast) and let you tell us your story before Pegeen will come, in place of grinning your ears off like the moon of May.
CHRISTY — [beginning to be pleased.] — It's a long story; you'd be destroyed listening.
WIDOW QUIN. Don't be letting on to be shy, a fine, gamey, treacherous lad the like of you. Was it in your house beyond you cracked his skull?
CHRISTY — [shy but flattered.] — It was not. We were digging spuds in his cold, sloping, stony, divil's patch of a field.
WIDOW QUIN. And you went asking money of him, or making talk of getting a wife would drive him from his farm?
CHRISTY. I did not, then; but there I was, digging and digging, and "You squinting idiot," says he, "let you walk down now and tell the priest you'll wed the Widow Casey in a score of days."
WIDOW QUIN. And what kind was she?
CHRISTY — [with horror.] — A walking terror from beyond the hills, and she two score and five years, and two hundredweights and five pounds in the weighing scales, with a limping leg on her, and a blinded eye, and she a woman of noted misbehaviour with the old and young.
GIRLS — [clustering round him, serving him.] — Glory be.
WIDOW QUIN. And what did he want driving you to wed with her? [She takes a bit of the chicken.]
CHRISTY — [eating with growing satisfaction.] He was letting on I was wanting a protector from the harshness of the world, and he without a thought the whole while but how he'd have her hut to live in and her gold to drink.
WIDOW QUIN. There's maybe worse than a dry hearth and a widow woman and your glass at night. So you hit him then?
CHRISTY — [getting almost excited.] — I did not. "I won't wed her," says I, "when all know she did suckle me for six weeks when I came into the world, and she a hag this day with a tongue on her has the crows and seabirds scattered, the way they wouldn't cast a shadow on her garden with the dread of her curse."
WIDOW QUIN — [teasingly.] That one should be right company.
SARA — [eagerly.] Don't mind her. Did you kill him then?
CHRISTY. "She's too good for the like of you," says he, "and go on now or I'll flatten you out like a crawling beast has passed under a dray." "You will not if I can help it," says I. "Go on," says he, "or I'll have the divil making garters of your limbs tonight." "You will not if I can help it," says I. [He sits up, brandishing his mug.]
SARA. You were right surely.
CHRISTY — [impressively.] With that the sun came out between the cloud and the hill, and it shining green in my face. "God have mercy on your soul," says he, lifting a scythe; "or on your own," says I, raising the loy. SUSAN. That's a grand story.
HONOR. He tells it lovely.
CHRISTY — [flattered and confident, waving bone.] — He gave a drive with the scythe, and I gave a lep to the east. Then I turned around with my back to the north, and I hit a blow on the ridge of his skull, laid him stretched out, and he split to the knob of his gullet. [He raises the chicken bone to his Adam's apple.]
GIRLS — [together.] Well, you're a marvel! Oh, God bless you! You're the lad surely!
SUSAN. I'm thinking the Lord God sent him this road to make a second husband to the Widow Quin, and she with a great yearning to be wedded, though all dread her here. Lift him on her knee, Sara Tansey.
WIDOW QUIN. Don't tease him.
SARA — [going over to dresser and counter very quickly, and getting two glasses and porter.] — You're heroes surely, and let you drink a supeen with your arms linked like the outlandish lovers in the sailor's song. (She links their arms and gives them the glasses.) There now. Drink a health to the wonders of the western world, the pirates, preachers, poteen-makers, with the jobbing jockies; parching peelers, and the juries fill their stomachs selling judgments of the English law. [Brandishing the bottle.]
WIDOW QUIN. That's a right toast, Sara Tansey. Now Christy. [They drink with their arms linked, he drinking with his left hand, she with her right. As they are drinking, Pegeen Mike comes in with a milk can and stands aghast. They all spring away from Christy. He goes down left. Widow Quin remains seated.]
PEGEEN — [angrily, to Sara.] — What is it you're wanting?
SARA — [twisting her apron.] — An ounce of tobacco.
PEGEEN. Have you tuppence?
SARA. I've forgotten my purse.
PEGEEN. Then you'd best be getting it and not fooling us here. (To the Widow Quin, with more elaborate scorn.) And what is it you're wanting, Widow Quin?
WIDOW QUIN — [insolently.] A penn'orth of starch.
PEGEEN — [breaking out.] — And you without a white shift or a shirt in your whole family since the drying of the flood. I've no starch for the like of you, and let you walk on now to Killamuck.
WIDOW QUIN — [turning to Christy, as she goes out with the girls.] — Well, you're mighty huffy this day, Pegeen Mike, and, you young fellow, let you not forget the sports and racing when the noon is by. [They go out.]
PEGEEN — [imperiously.] Fling out that rubbish and put them cups away. (Christy tidies away in great haste). Shove in the bench by the wall. (He does so.) And hang that glass on the nail. What disturbed it at all?
CHRISTY — [very meekly.] — I was making myself decent only, and this a fine country for young lovely girls.
PEGEEN — [sharply.] Whisht your talking of girls. [Goes to counter right.]
CHRISTY. Wouldn't any wish to be decent in a place...
PEGEEN. Whisht I'm saying.
CHRISTY — [looks at her face for a moment with great misgivings, then as a last effort, takes up a loy, and goes towards her, with feigned assurance]. — It was with a loy the like of that I killed my father.
PEGEEN — [still sharply.] — You've told me that story six times since the dawn of day.
CHRISTY — [reproachfully.] It's a queer thing you wouldn't care to be hearing it and them girls after walking four miles to be listening to me now.
PEGEEN — [turning round astonished.] — Four miles.
CHRISTY — [apologetically.] Didn't himself say there were only four bona fides living in the place?
PEGEEN. It's bona fides by the road they are, but that lot came over the river lepping the stones. It's not three perches when you go like that, and I was down this morning looking on the papers the post-boy does have in his bag. (With meaning and emphasis.) For there was great news this day, Christopher Mahon. [She goes into room left.]
CHRISTY — [suspiciously.] Is it news of my murder?
PEGEEN — [inside.] Murder, indeed.
CHRISTY — [loudly.] A murdered da?
PEGEEN [coming in again and crossing right.] — There was not, but a story filled half a page of the hanging of a man. Ah, that should be a fearful end, young fellow, and it worst of all for a man who destroyed his da, for the like of him would get small mercies, and when it's dead he is, they'd put him in a narrow grave, with cheap sacking wrapping him round, and pour down quicklime on his head, the way you'd see a woman pouring any frish-frash from a cup.
CHRISTY — [very miserably.] — Oh, God help me. Are you thinking I'm safe? You were saying at the fall of night, I was shut of jeopardy and I here with yourselves.
PEGEEN — [severely.] You'll be shut of jeopardy no place if you go talking with a pack of wild girls the like of them do be walking abroad with the peelers, talking whispers at the fall of night.
CHRISTY — [with terror.] — And you're thinking they'd tell?
PEGEEN — [with mock sympathy.] — Who knows, God help you.
CHRISTY — [loudly.] What joy would they have to bring hanging to the likes of me?
PEGEEN. It's queer joys they have, and who knows the thing they'd do, if it'd make the green stones cry itself to think of you swaying and swiggling at the butt of a rope, and you with a fine, stout neck, God bless you! the way you'd be a half an hour, in great anguish, getting your death.
CHRISTY — [getting his boots and putting them on.] — If there's that terror of them, it'd be best, maybe, I went on wandering like Esau or Cain and Abel on the sides of Neifin or the Erris plain.
PEGEEN [beginning to play with him.] — It would, maybe, for I've heard the Circuit Judges this place is a heartless crew.
CHRISTY — [bitterly.] It's more than Judges this place is a heartless crew. (Looking up at her.) And isn't it a poor thing to be starting again and I a lonesome fellow will be looking out on women and girls the way the needy fallen spirits do be looking on the Lord?
PEGEEN. What call have you to be that lonesome when there's poor girls walking Mayo in their thousands now?
CHRISTY — [grimly.] It's well you know what call I have. It's well you know it's a lonesome thing to be passing small towns with the lights shining sideways when the night is down, or going in strange places with a dog nosing before you and a dog nosing behind, or drawn to the cities where you'd hear a voice kissing and talking deep love in every shadow of the ditch, and you passing on with an empty, hungry stomach failing from your heart.
PEGEEN. I'm thinking you're an odd man, Christy Mahon. The oddest walking fellow I ever set my eyes on to this hour to-day.
CHRISTY. What would any be but odd men and they living lonesome in the world?
PEGEEN. I'm not odd, and I'm my whole life with my father only.
CHRISTY — [with infinite admiration.] — How would a lovely handsome woman the like of you be lonesome when all men should be thronging around to hear the sweetness of your voice, and the little infant children should be pestering your steps I'm thinking, and you walking the roads.
PEGEEN. I'm hard set to know what way a coaxing fellow the like of yourself should be lonesome either.
PEGEEN. Would you have me think a man never talked with the girls would have the words you've spoken to-day? It's only letting on you are to be lonesome, the way you'd get around me now.
CHRISTY. I wish to God I was letting on; but I was lonesome all times, and born lonesome, I'm thinking, as the moon of dawn. [Going to door.]
PEGEEN — [puzzled by his talk.] — Well, it's a story I'm not understanding at all why you'd be worse than another, Christy Mahon, and you a fine lad with the great savagery to destroy your da.
CHRISTY. It's little I'm understanding myself, saving only that my heart's scalded this day, and I going off stretching out the earth between us, the way I'll not be waking near you another dawn of the year till the two of us do arise to hope or judgment with the saints of God, and now I'd best be going with my wattle in my hand, for hanging is a poor thing (turning to go), and it's little welcome only is left me in this house to-day.
PEGEEN — [sharply.] Christy! (He turns round.) Come here to me. (He goes towards her.) Lay down that switch and throw some sods on the fire. You're pot-boy in this place, and I'll not have you mitch off from us now.
CHRISTY. You were saying I'd be hanged if I stay.
PEGEEN — [quite kindly at last.] — I'm after going down and reading the fearful crimes of Ireland for two weeks or three, and there wasn't a word of your murder. (Getting up and going over to the counter.) They've likely not found the body. You're safe so with ourselves.
CHRISTY — [astonished, slowly.] — It's making game of me you were (following her with fearful joy), and I can stay so, working at your side, and I not lonesome from this mortal day.
PEGEEN. What's to hinder you from staying, except the widow woman or the young girls would inveigle you off?
CHRISTY — [with rapture.] — And I'll have your words from this day filling my ears, and that look is come upon you meeting my two eyes, and I watching you loafing around in the warm sun, or rinsing your ankles when the night is come.
PEGEEN — [kindly, but a little embarrassed.] I'm thinking you'll be a loyal young lad to have working around, and if you vexed me a while since with your leaguing with the girls, I wouldn't give a thraneen for a lad hadn't a mighty spirit in him and a gamey heart. [Shawn Keogh runs in carrying a cleeve on his back, followed by the Widow Quin.]
SHAWN — [to Pegeen.] — I was passing below, and I seen your mountainy sheep eating cabbages in Jimmy's field. Run up or they'll be bursting surely.
PEGEEN. Oh, God mend them! [She puts a shawl over her head and runs out.]
CHRISTY — [looking from one to the other. Still in high spirits.] — I'd best go to her aid maybe. I'm handy with ewes.
WIDOW QUIN — [closing the door.] — She can do that much, and there is Shaneen has long speeches for to tell you now. [She sits down with an amused smile.]
SHAWN — [taking something from his pocket and offering it to Christy.] — Do you see that, mister?
CHRISTY — [looking at it.] — The half of a ticket to the Western States!
SHAWN — [trembling with anxiety.] — I'll give it to you and my new hat (pulling it out of hamper); and my breeches with the double seat (pulling it off); and my new coat is woven from the blackest shearings for three miles around (giving him the coat); I'll give you the whole of them, and my blessing, and the blessing of Father Reilly itself, maybe, if you'll quit from this and leave us in the peace we had till last night at the fall of dark.
CHRISTY — [with a new arrogance.] — And for what is it you're wanting to get shut of me?
SHAWN — [looking to the Widow for help.] — I'm a poor scholar with middling faculties to coin a lie, so I'll tell you the truth, Christy Mahon. I'm wedding with Pegeen beyond, and I don't think well of having a clever fearless man the like of you dwelling in her house.
CHRISTY — [almost pugnaciously.] — And you'd be using bribery for to banish me?
SHAWN — [in an imploring voice.] — Let you not take it badly, mister honey, isn't beyond the best place for you where you'll have golden chains and shiny coats and you riding upon hunters with the ladies of the land. [He makes an eager sign to the Widow Quin to come to help him.]
WIDOW QUIN — [coming over.] — It's true for him, and you'd best quit off and not have that poor girl setting her mind on you, for there's Shaneen thinks she wouldn't suit you though all is saying that she'll wed you now. [Christy beams with delight.]
SHAWN — [in terrified earnest.] — She wouldn't suit you, and she with the divil's own temper the way you'd be strangling one another in a score of days. (He makes the movement of strangling with his hands.) It's the like of me only that she's fit for, a quiet simple fellow wouldn't raise a hand upon her if she scratched itself.
WIDOW QUIN — [putting Shawn's hat on Christy.] — Fit them clothes on you anyhow, young fellow, and he'd maybe loan them to you for the sports. (Pushing him towards inner door.) Fit them on and you can give your answer when you have them tried.
CHRISTY — [beaming, delighted with the clothes.] — I will then. I'd like herself to see me in them tweeds and hat. [He goes into room and shuts the door.]
SHAWN — [in great anxiety.] — He'd like herself to see them. He'll not leave us, Widow Quin. He's a score of divils in him the way it's well nigh certain he will wed Pegeen.
WIDOW QUIN — [jeeringly.] It's true all girls are fond of courage and do hate the like of you.
SHAWN — [walking about in desperation.] — Oh, Widow Quin, what'll I be doing now? I'd inform again him, but he'd burst from Kilmainham and he'd be sure and certain to destroy me. If I wasn't so God-fearing, I'd near have courage to come behind him and run a pike into his side. Oh, it's a hard case to be an orphan and not to have your father that you're used to, and you'd easy kill and make yourself a hero in the sight of all. (Coming up to her.) Oh, Widow Quin, will you find me some contrivance when I've promised you a ewe?
WIDOW QUIN. A ewe's a small thing, but what would you give me if I did wed him and did save you so?
SHAWN — [with astonishment.] You?
WIDOW QUIN. Aye. Would you give me the red cow you have and the mountainy ram, and the right of way across your rye path, and a load of dung at Michaelmas, and turbary upon the western hill?
SHAWN — [radiant with hope.] — I would surely, and I'd give you the wedding-ring I have, and the loan of a new suit, the way you'd have him decent on the wedding-day. I'd give you two kids for your dinner, and a gallon of poteen, and I'd call the piper on the long car to your wedding from Crossmolina or from Ballina. I'd give you...
WIDOW QUIN. That'll do so, and let you whisht, for he's coming now again. [Christy comes in very natty in the new clothes. Widow Quin goes to him admiringly.]
WIDOW QUIN. If you seen yourself now, I'm thinking you'd be too proud to speak to us at all, and it'd be a pity surely to have your like sailing from Mayo to the Western World.
CHRISTY — [as proud as a peacock.] — I'm not going. If this is a poor place itself, I'll make myself contented to be lodging here. [Widow Quin makes a sign to Shawn to leave them.]
SHAWN. Well, I'm going measuring the race-course while the tide is low, so I'll leave you the garments and my blessing for the sports to-day. God bless you! [He wriggles out.]
WIDOW QUIN — [admiring Christy.] — Well, you're mighty spruce, young fellow. Sit down now while you're quiet till you talk with me.
CHRISTY — [swaggering.] I'm going abroad on the hillside for to seek Pegeen.
WIDOW QUIN. You'll have time and plenty for to seek Pegeen, and you heard me saying at the fall of night the two of us should be great company.
CHRISTY. From this out I'll have no want of company when all sorts is bringing me their food and clothing (he swaggers to the door, tightening his belt), the way they'd set their eyes upon a gallant orphan cleft his father with one blow to the breeches belt. (He opens door, then staggers back.) Saints of glory! Holy angels from the throne of light!
WIDOW QUIN — [going over.] — What ails you?
CHRISTY. It's the walking spirit of my murdered da?
WIDOW QUIN — [looking out.] — Is it that tramper?
CHRISTY — [wildly.] Where'll I hide my poor body from that ghost of hell? [The door is pushed open, and old Mahon appears on threshold. Christy darts in behind door.]
WIDOW QUIN — [in great amusement.] — Cod save you, my poor man.
MAHON — [gruffly.] Did you see a young lad passing this way in the early morning or the fall of night?
WIDOW QUIN. You're a queer kind to walk in not saluting at all.
MAHON. Did you see the young lad?
WIDOW QUIN — [stiffly.] What kind was he?
MAHON. An ugly young streeler with a murderous gob on him, and a little switch in his hand. I met a tramper seen him coming this way at the fall of night.
WIDOW QUIN. There's harvest hundreds do be passing these days for the Sligo boat. For what is it you're wanting him, my poor man?
MAHON. I want to destroy him for breaking the head on me with the clout of a loy. (He takes off a big hat, and shows his head in a mass of bandages and plaster, with some pride.) It was he did that, and amn't I a great wonder to think I've traced him ten days with that rent in my crown?
WIDOW QUIN — [taking his head in both hands and examining it with extreme delight.] — That was a great blow. And who hit you? A robber maybe?
MAHON. It was my own son hit me, and he the divil a robber, or anything else, but a dirty, stuttering lout.
WIDOW — [letting go his skull and wiping her hands in her apron.] — You'd best be wary of a mortified scalp, I think they call it, lepping around with that wound in the splendour of the sun. It was a bad blow surely, and you should have vexed him fearful to make him strike that gash in his da.
MAHON. Is it me?
WIDOW QUIN — [amusing herself.] — Aye. And isn't it a great shame when the old and hardened do torment the young?
MAHON — [raging.] Torment him is it? And I after holding out with the patience of a martyred saint till there's nothing but destruction on, and I'm driven out in my old age with none to aid me.
WIDOW QUIN — [greatly amused.] — It's a sacred wonder the way that wickedness will spoil a man.
MAHON. My wickedness, is it? Amn't I after saying it is himself has me destroyed, and he a liar on walls, a talker of folly, a man you'd see stretched the half of the day in the brown ferns with his belly to the sun.
WIDOW QUIN. Not working at all?
MAHON. The divil a work, or if he did itself, you'd see him raising up a haystack like the stalk of a rush, or driving our last cow till he broke her leg at the hip, and when he wasn't at that he'd be fooling over little birds he had — finches and felts — or making mugs at his own self in the bit of glass we had hung on the wall.
WIDOW QUIN — [looking at Christy.] — What way was he so foolish? It was running wild after the girls may be?
MAHON — [with a shout of derision.] — Running wild, is it? If he seen a red petticoat coming swinging over the hill, he'd be off to hide in the sticks, and you'd see him shooting out his sheep's eyes between the little twigs and the leaves, and his two ears rising like a hare looking out through a gap. Girls, indeed!
WIDOW QUIN. It was drink maybe?
MAHON. And he a poor fellow would get drunk on the smell of a pint. He'd a queer rotten stomach, I'm telling you, and when I gave him three pulls from my pipe a while since, he was taken with contortions till I had to send him in the ass cart to the females' nurse.
WIDOW QUIN — [clasping her hands.] — Well, I never till this day heard tell of a man the like of that!
MAHON. I'd take a mighty oath you didn't surely, and wasn't he the laughing joke of every female woman where four baronies meet, the way the girls would stop their weeding if they seen him coming the road to let a roar at him, and call him the looney of Mahon's.
WIDOW QUIN. I'd give the world and all to see the like of him. What kind was he?
MAHON. A small low fellow.
WIDOW QUIN. And dark?
MAHON. Dark and dirty.
WIDOW QUIN — [considering.] I'm thinking I seen him.
MAHON — [eagerly.] An ugly young blackguard.
WIDOW QUIN. A hideous, fearful villain, and the spit of you.
MAHON. What way is he fled?
WIDOW QUIN. Gone over the hills to catch a coasting steamer to the north or south.
MAHON. Could I pull up on him now?
WIDOW QUIN. If you'll cross the sands below where the tide is out, you'll be in it as soon as himself, for he had to go round ten miles by the top of the bay. (She points to the door). Strike down by the head beyond and then follow on the roadway to the north and east. [Mahon goes abruptly.]
WIDOW QUIN — [shouting after him.] — Let you give him a good vengeance when you come up with him, but don't put yourself in the power of the law, for it'd be a poor thing to see a judge in his black cap reading out his sentence on a civil warrior the like of you. [She swings the door to and looks at Christy, who is cowering in terror, for a moment, then she bursts into a laugh.]
WIDOW QUIN. Well, you're the walking Playboy of the Western World, and that's the poor man you had divided to his breeches belt.
CHRISTY — [looking out: then, to her.] — What'll Pegeen say when she hears that story? What'll she be saying to me now?
WIDOW QUIN. She'll knock the head of you, I'm thinking, and drive you from the door. God help her to be taking you for a wonder, and you a little schemer making up the story you destroyed your da.
CHRISTY — [turning to the door, nearly speechless with rage, half to himself.] — To be letting on he was dead, and coming back to his life, and following after me like an old weazel tracing a rat, and coming in here laying desolation between my own self and the fine women of Ireland, and he a kind of carcase that you'd fling upon the sea...
WIDOW QUIN — [more soberly.] — There's talking for a man's one only son.
CHRISTY — [breaking out.] — His one son, is it? May I meet him with one tooth and it aching, and one eye to be seeing seven and seventy divils in the twists of the road, and one old timber leg on him to limp into the scalding grave. (Looking out.) There he is now crossing the strands, and that the Lord God would send a high wave to wash him from the world.
WIDOW QUIN — [scandalised.] Have you no shame? (putting her hand on his shoulder and turning him round.) What ails you? Near crying, is it?
CHRISTY — [in despair and grief.] — Amn't I after seeing the love-light of the star of knowledge shining from her brow, and hearing words would put you thinking on the holy Brigid speaking to the infant saints, and now she'll be turning again, and speaking hard words to me, like an old woman with a spavindy ass she'd have, urging on a hill.
WIDOW QUIN. There's poetry talk for a girl you'd see itching and scratching, and she with a stale stink of poteen on her from selling in the shop.
CHRISTY — [impatiently.] It's her like is fitted to be handling merchandise in the heavens above, and what'll I be doing now, I ask you, and I a kind of wonder was jilted by the heavens when a day was by. [There is a distant noise of girls' voices. Widow Quin looks from window and comes to him, hurriedly.]
WIDOW QUIN. You'll be doing like myself, I'm thinking, when I did destroy my man, for I'm above many's the day, odd times in great spirits, abroad in the sunshine, darning a stocking or stitching a shift; and odd times again looking out on the schooners, hookers, trawlers is sailing the sea, and I thinking on the gallant hairy fellows are drifting beyond, and myself long years living alone.
CHRISTY — [interested.] You're like me, so.
WIDOW QUIN. I am your like, and it's for that I'm taking a fancy to you, and I with my little houseen above where there'd be myself to tend you, and none to ask were you a murderer or what at all.
CHRISTY. And what would I be doing if I left Pegeen?
WIDOW QUIN. I've nice jobs you could be doing, gathering shells to make a whitewash for our hut within, building up a little goose-house, or stretching a new skin on an old curragh I have, and if my hut is far from all sides, it's there you'll meet the wisest old men, I tell you, at the corner of my wheel, and it's there yourself and me will have great times whispering and hugging.. ..
VOICES — [outside, calling far away.] — Christy! Christy Mahon! Christy!
CHRISTY. Is it Pegeen Mike?
WIDOW QUIN. It's the young girls, I'm thinking, coming to bring you to the sports below, and what is it you'll have me to tell them now?
CHRISTY. Aid me for to win Pegeen. It's herself only that I'm seeking now. (Widow Quin gets up and goes to window.) Aid me for to win her, and I'll be asking God to stretch a hand to you in the hour of death, and lead you short cuts through the Meadows of Ease, and up the floor of Heaven to the Footstool of the Virgin's Son.
WIDOW QUIN. There's praying.
VOICES — [nearer.] Christy! Christy Mahon!
CHRISTY — [with agitation.] — They're coming. Will you swear to aid and save me for the love of Christ?
WIDOW QUIN — [looks at him for a moment.] — If I aid you, will you swear to give me a right of way I want, and a mountainy ram, and a load of dung at Michaelmas, the time that you'll be master here?
CHRISTY. I will, by the elements and stars of night.
WIDOW QUIN. Then we'll not say a word of the old fellow, the way Pegeen won't know your story till the end of time.
CHRISTY. And if he chances to return again?
WIDOW QUIN. We'll swear he's a maniac and not your da. I could take an oath I seen him raving on the sands to-day. [Girls run in.]
SUSAN. Come on to the sports below. Pegeen says you're to come.
SARA TANSEY. The lepping's beginning, and we've a jockey's suit to fit upon you for the mule race on the sands below.
HONOR. Come on, will you?
CHRISTY. I will then if Pegeen's beyond.
SARA. She's in the boreen making game of Shaneen Keogh.
CHRISTY. Then I'll be going to her now. [He runs out followed by the girls.]
WIDOW QUIN. Well, if the worst comes in the end of all, it'll be great game to see there's none to pity him but a widow woman, the like of me, has buried her children and destroyed her man. [She goes out.]
SCENE, [as before. Later in the day. Jimmy comes in, slightly drunk.]
JIMMY — [calls.] Pegeen! (Crosses to inner door.) Pegeen Mike! (Comes back again into the room.) Pegeen! (Philly comes in in the same state.) (To Philly.) Did you see herself?
PHILLY. I did not; but I sent Shawn Keogh with the ass cart for to bear him home. (Trying cupboards which are locked.) Well, isn't he a nasty man to get into such staggers at a morning wake? and isn't herself the divil's daughter for locking, and she so fussy after that young gaffer, you might take your death with drought and none to heed you?
JIMMY. It's little wonder she'd be fussy, and he after bringing bankrupt ruin on the roulette man, and the trick-o'-the-loop man, and breaking the nose of the cockshot-man, and winning all in the sports below, racing, lepping, dancing, and the Lord knows what! He's right luck, I'm telling you.
PHILLY. If he has, he'll be rightly hobbled yet, and he not able to say ten words without making a brag of the way he killed his father, and the great blow he hit with the loy.
JIMMY. A man can't hang by his own informing, and his father should be rotten by now. [Old Mahon passes window slowly.]
PHILLY. Supposing a man's digging spuds in that field with a long spade, and supposing he flings up the two halves of that skull, what'll be said then in the papers and the courts of law?
JIMMY. They'd say it was an old Dane, maybe, was drowned in the flood. (Old Mahon comes in and sits down near door listening.) Did you never hear tell of the skulls they have in the city of Dublin, ranged out like blue jugs in a cabin of Connaught?
PHILLY. And you believe that?
JIMMY — [pugnaciously.] Didn't a lad see them and he after coming from harvesting in the Liverpool boat? "They have them there," says he, "making a show of the great people there was one time walking the world. White skulls and black skulls and yellow skulls, and some with full teeth, and some haven't only but one."
PHILLY. It was no lie, maybe, for when I was a young lad there was a graveyard beyond the house with the remnants of a man who had thighs as long as your arm. He was a horrid man, I'm telling you, and there was many a fine Sunday I'd put him together for fun, and he with shiny bones, you wouldn't meet the like of these days in the cities of the world.
MAHON — [getting up.] — You wouldn't is it? Lay your eyes on that skull, and tell me where and when there was another the like of it, is splintered only from the blow of a loy.
PHILLY. Glory be to God! And who hit you at all?
MAHON — [triumphantly.] It was my own son hit me. Would you believe that?
JIMMY. Well, there's wonders hidden in the heart of man!
PHILLY — [suspiciously.] And what way was it done?
MAHON — [wandering about the room.] — I'm after walking hundreds and long scores of miles, winning clean beds and the fill of my belly four times in the day, and I doing nothing but telling stories of that naked truth. (He comes to them a little aggressively.) Give me a supeen and I'll tell you now. [Widow Quin comes in and stands aghast behind him. He is facing Jimmy and Philly, who are on the left.]
JIMMY. Ask herself beyond. She's the stuff hidden in her shawl.
WIDOW QUIN — [coming to Mahon quickly.] — you here, is it? You didn't go far at all?
MAHON. I seen the coasting steamer passing, and I got a drought upon me and a cramping leg, so I said, "The divil go along with him," and turned again. (Looking under her shawl.) And let you give me a supeen, for I'm destroyed travelling since Tuesday was a week.
WIDOW QUIN — [getting a glass, in a cajoling tone.] — Sit down then by the fire and take your ease for a space. You've a right to be destroyed indeed, with your walking, and fighting, and facing the sun (giving him poteen from a stone jar she has brought in.) There now is a drink for you, and may it be to your happiness and length of life.
MAHON — [taking glass greedily and sitting down by fire.] — God increase you!
WIDOW QUIN — [taking men to the right stealthily.] — Do you know what? That man's raving from his wound to-day, for I met him a while since telling a rambling tale of a tinker had him destroyed. Then he heard of Christy's deed, and he up and says it was his son had cracked his skull. O isn't madness a fright, for he'll go killing someone yet, and he thinking it's the man has struck him so?
JIMMY — [entirely convinced.] It's a fright, surely. I knew a party was kicked in the head by a red mare, and he went killing horses a great while, till he eat the insides of a clock and died after.
PHILLY — [with suspicion.] — Did he see Christy?
WIDOW QUIN. He didn't. (With a warning gesture.) Let you not be putting him in mind of him, or you'll be likely summoned if there's murder done. (Looking round at Mahon.) Whisht! He's listening. Wait now till you hear me taking him easy and unravelling all. (She goes to Mahon.) And what way are you feeling, mister? Are you in contentment now?
MAHON — [slightly emotional from his drink.] — I'm poorly only, for it's a hard story the way I'm left to-day, when it was I did tend him from his hour of birth, and he a dunce never reached his second book, the way he'd come from school, many's the day, with his legs lamed under him, and he blackened with his beatings like a tinker's ass. It's a hard story, I'm saying, the way some do have their next and nighest raising up a hand of murder on them, and some is lonesome getting their death with lamentation in the dead of night.
WIDOW QUIN — [not knowing what to say.] — To hear you talking so quiet, who'd know you were the same fellow we seen pass to-day?
MAHON. I'm the same surely. The wrack and ruin of three score years; and it's a terror to live that length, I tell you, and to have your sons going to the dogs against you, and you wore out scolding them, and skelping them, and God knows what.
PHILLY — [to Jimmy.] — He's not raving. (To Widow Quin.) Will you ask him what kind was his son?
WIDOW QUIN — [to Mahon, with a peculiar look.] — Was your son that hit you a lad of one year and a score maybe, a great hand at racing and lepping and licking the world?
MAHON — [turning on her with a roar of rage.] — Didn't you hear me say he was the fool of men, the way from this out he'll know the orphan's lot with old and young making game of him and they swearing, raging, kicking at him like a mangy cur. [A great burst of cheering outside, someway off.]
MAHON — [putting his hands to his ears.] — What in the name of God do they want roaring below?
WIDOW QUIN — [with the shade of a smile.] — They're cheering a young lad, the champion Playboy of the Western World. [More cheering.]
MAHON — [going to window.] It'd split my heart to hear them, and I with pulses in my brain-pan for a week gone by. Is it racing they are?
JIMMY — [looking from door.] — It is then. They are mounting him for the mule race will be run upon the sands. That's the playboy on the winkered mule.
MAHON [puzzled.] That lad, is it? If you said it was a fool he was, I'd have laid a mighty oath he was the likeness of my wandering son (uneasily, putting his hand to his head.) Faith, I'm thinking I'll go walking for to view the race.
WIDOW QUIN — [stopping him, sharply.] — You will not. You'd best take the road to Belmullet, and not be dilly-dallying in this place where there isn't a spot you could sleep.
PHILLY — [coming forward.] — Don't mind her. Mount there on the bench and you'll have a view of the whole. They're hurrying before the tide will rise, and it'd be near over if you went down the pathway through the crags below.
MAHON [mounts on bench, Widow Quin beside him.] — That's a right view again the edge of the sea. They're coming now from the point. He's leading. Who is he at all?
WIDOW QUIN. He's the champion of the world, I tell you, and there isn't a hop'orth isn't falling lucky to his hands to-day.
PHILLY — [looking out, interested in the race.] — Look at that. They're pressing him now.
JIMMY. He'll win it yet.
PHILLY. Take your time, Jimmy Farrell. It's too soon to say.
WIDOW QUIN — [shouting.] Watch him taking the gate. There's riding.
JIMMY — [cheering.] More power to the young lad!
MAHON. He's passing the third.
JIMMY. He'll lick them yet!
WIDOW QUIN. He'd lick them if he was running races with a score itself.
MAHON. Look at the mule he has, kicking the stars.
WIDOW QUIN. There was a lep! (catching hold of Mahon in her excitement.) He's fallen! He's mounted again! Faith, he's passing them all!
JIMMY. Look at him skelping her!
PHILLY. And the mountain girls hooshing him on!
JIMMY. It's the last turn! The post's cleared for them now!
MAHON. Look at the narrow place. He'll be into the bogs! (With a yell.) Good rider! He's through it again!
JIMMY. He neck and neck!
MAHON. Good boy to him! Flames, but he's in! [Great cheering, in which all join.]
MAHON [with hesitation.] What's that? They're raising him up. They're coming this way. (With a roar of rage and astonishment.) It's Christy! by the stars of God! I'd know his way of spitting and he astride the moon. [He jumps down and makes for the door, but Widow Quin catches him and pulls him back.]
WIDOW QUIN. Stay quiet, will you. That's not your son. (To Jimmy.) Stop him, or you'll get a month for the abetting of manslaughter and be fined as well.
JIMMY. I'll hold him.
MAHON [struggling.] Let me out! Let me out, the lot of you! till I have my vengeance on his head to-day.
WIDOW QUIN — [shaking him, vehemently.] — That's not your son. That's a man is going to make a marriage with the daughter of this house, a place with fine trade, with a license, and with poteen too.
MAHON — [amazed.] That man marrying a decent and a moneyed girl! Is it mad yous are? Is it in a crazy-house for females that I'm landed now?
WIDOW QUIN. It's mad yourself is with the blow upon your head. That lad is the wonder of the Western World.
MAHON. I seen it's my son.
WIDOW QUIN. You seen that you're mad. (Cheering outside.) Do you hear them cheering him in the zig-zags of the road? Aren't you after saying that your son's a fool, and how would they be cheering a true idiot born?
MAHON — [getting distressed.] — It's maybe out of reason that that man's himself. (Cheering again.) There's none surely will go cheering him. Oh, I'm raving with a madness that would fright the world! (He sits down with his hand to his head.) There was one time I seen ten scarlet divils letting on they'd cork my spirit in a gallon can; and one time I seen rats as big as badgers sucking the life blood from the butt of my lug; but I never till this day confused that dribbling idiot with a likely man. I'm destroyed surely.
WIDOW QUIN. And who'd wonder when it's your brain-pan that is gaping now?
MAHON. Then the blight of the sacred drought upon myself and him, for I never went mad to this day, and I not three weeks with the Limerick girls drinking myself silly, and parlatic from the dusk to dawn. (To Widow Quin, suddenly.) Is my visage astray?
WIDOW QUIN. It is then. You're a sniggering maniac, a child could see.
MAHON — [getting up more cheerfully.] — Then I'd best be going to the union beyond, and there'll be a welcome before me, I tell you (with great pride), and I a terrible and fearful case, the way that there I was one time, screeching in a straightened waistcoat, with seven doctors writing out my sayings in a printed book. Would you believe that?
WIDOW QUIN. If you're a wonder itself, you'd best be hasty, for them lads caught a maniac one time and pelted the poor creature till he ran out, raving and foaming, and was drowned in the sea.
MAHON — [with philosophy.] — It's true mankind is the divil when your head's astray. Let me out now and I'll slip down the boreen, and not see them so.
WIDOW QUIN — [showing him out.] — That's it. Run to the right, and not a one will see. [He runs off.]
PHILLY — [wisely.] You're at some gaming, Widow Quin; but I'll walk after him and give him his dinner and a time to rest, and I'll see then if he's raving or as sane as you.
WIDOW QUIN — [annoyed.] If you go near that lad, let you be wary of your head, I'm saying. Didn't you hear him telling he was crazed at times?
PHILLY. I heard him telling a power; and I'm thinking we'll have right sport, before night will fall. [He goes out.]
JIMMY. Well, Philly's a conceited and foolish man. How could that madman have his senses and his brain-pan slit? I'll go after them and see him turn on Philly now. [He goes; Widow Quin hides poteen behind counter. Then hubbub outside.]
VOICES. There you are! Good jumper! Grand lepper! Darlint boy! He's the racer! Bear him on, will you! [Christy comes in, in Jockey's dress, with Pegeen Mike, Sara, and other girls, and men.]
PEGEEN — [to crowd.] — Go on now and don't destroy him and he drenching with sweat. Go along, I'm saying, and have your tug-of-warring till he's dried his skin.
CROWD. Here's his prizes! A bagpipes! A fiddle was played by a poet in the years gone by! A flat and three-thorned blackthorn would lick the scholars out of Dublin town!
CHRISTY — [taking prizes from the men.] — Thank you kindly, the lot of you. But you'd say it was little only I did this day if you'd seen me a while since striking my one single blow.
TOWN CRIER — [outside, ringing a bell.] — Take notice, last event of this day! Tug-of-warring on the green below! Come on, the lot of you! Great achievements for all Mayo men!
PEGEEN. Go on, and leave him for to rest and dry. Go on, I tell you, for he'll do no more. (She hustles crowd out; Widow Quin following them.)
MEN — [going.] — Come on then. Good luck for the while!
PEGEEN — [radiantly, wiping his face with her shawl.] — Well, you're the lad, and you'll have great times from this out when you could win that wealth of prizes, and you sweating in the heat of noon!
CHRISTY — [looking at her with delight.] — I'll have great times if I win the crowning prize I'm seeking now, and that's your promise that you'll wed me in a fortnight, when our banns is called.
PEGEEN — [backing away from him.] — You've right daring to go ask me that, when all knows you'll be starting to some girl in your own townland, when your father's rotten in four months, or five.
CHRISTY — [indignantly.] Starting from you, is it? (He follows her.) I will not, then, and when the airs is warming in four months, or five, it's then yourself and me should be pacing Neifin in the dews of night, the times sweet smells do be rising, and you'd see a little shiny new moon, maybe, sinking on the hills.
PEGEEN [looking at him playfully.] — And it's that kind of a poacher's love you'd make, Christy Mahon, on the sides of Neifin, when the night is down?
CHRISTY. It's little you'll think if my love's a poacher's, or an earl's itself, when you'll feel my two hands stretched around you, and I squeezing kisses on your puckered lips, till I'd feel a kind of pity for the Lord God is all ages sitting lonesome in his golden chair.
PEGEEN. That'll be right fun, Christy Mahon, and any girl would walk her heart out before she'd meet a young man was your like for eloquence, or talk, at all.
CHRISTY — [encouraged.] Let you wait, to hear me talking, till we're astray in Erris, when Good Friday's by, drinking a sup from a well, and making mighty kisses with our wetted mouths, or gaming in a gap or sunshine, with yourself stretched back unto your necklace, in the flowers of the earth.
PEGEEN — [in a lower voice, moved by his tone.] — I'd be nice so, is it?
CHRISTY — [with rapture.] — If the mitred bishops seen you that time, they'd be the like of the holy prophets, I'm thinking, do be straining the bars of Paradise to lay eyes on the Lady Helen of Troy, and she abroad, pacing back and forward, with a nosegay in her golden shawl.
PEGEEN — [with real tenderness.] — And what is it I have, Christy Mahon, to make me fitting entertainment for the like of you, that has such poet's talking, and such bravery of heart?
CHRISTY — [in a low voice.] — Isn't there the light of seven heavens in your heart alone, the way you'll be an angel's lamp to me from this out, and I abroad in the darkness, spearing salmons in the Owen, or the Carrowmore?
PEGEEN. If I was your wife, I'd be along with you those nights, Christy Mahon, the way you'd see I was a great hand at coaxing bailiffs, or coining funny nick-names for the stars of night.
CHRISTY. You, is it? Taking your death in the hailstones, or in the fogs of dawn.
PEGEEN. Yourself and me would shelter easy in a narrow bush, (with a qualm of dread) but we're only talking, maybe, for this would be a poor, thatched place to hold a fine lad is the like of you.
CHRISTY — [putting his arm round her.] — If I wasn't a good Christian, it's on my naked knees I'd be saying my prayers and paters to every jackstraw you have roofing your head, and every stony pebble is paving the laneway to your door.
PEGEEN — [radiantly.] If that's the truth, I'll be burning candles from this out to the miracles of God that have brought you from the south to-day, and I, with my gowns bought ready, the way that I can wed you, and not wait at all.
CHRISTY. It's miracles, and that's the truth. Me there toiling a long while, and walking a long while, not knowing at all I was drawing all times nearer to this holy day.
PEGEEN. And myself, a girl, was tempted often to go sailing the seas till I'd marry a Jew-man, with ten kegs of gold, and I not knowing at all there was the like of you drawing nearer, like the stars of God.
CHRISTY. And to think I'm long years hearing women talking that talk, to all bloody fools, and this the first time I've heard the like of your voice talking sweetly for my own delight.
PEGEEN. And to think it's me is talking sweetly, Christy Mahon, and I the fright of seven townlands for my biting tongue. Well, the heart's a wonder; and, I'm thinking, there won't be our like in Mayo, for gallant lovers, from this hour, to-day. (Drunken singing is heard outside.) There's my father coming from the wake, and when he's had his sleep we'll tell him, for he's peaceful then. [They separate.]