Duty, and other Irish Comedies
by Seumas O'Brien
DUTY AND OTHER IRISH COMEDIES
[Illustration: FROM THE DRY POINT STUDY BY P. GRASSBY]
DUTY AND OTHER IRISH COMEDIES
JURISPRUDENCE MAGNANIMITY MATCHMAKERS RETRIBUTION
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
HEAD CONSTABLE MULLIGAN A Member of the Royal Irish
SERGEANT DOOLEY A Member of the R.I.C.
CONSTABLE HUGGINS A Member of the R.I.C.
MRS. ELLEN COTTER A public-house keeper
DUTY was produced for the first time at the Abbey
Theatre, Dublin, December 17, 1913, with the following cast:
Head Constable Mulligan, R.I.C. ARTHUR SINCLAIR
Sergeant Dooley, R.I.C. FRED O'DONOVAN
Constable Huggins, R.I.C. SYDNEY J. MORGAN
Micus Goggin J.M. KERRIGAN
Padna Sweeney J.A. O'ROURKE
Mrs. Ellen Cotter UNA O'CONNOR
Back kitchen of a country public house. Micus and Padna seated
table drinking from pewter pints. Mrs. Cotter enters in response to
PADNA (pointing to pint measures)
Fill 'em again, ma'am, please.
(taking pints, and wiping table)
Fill 'em again, is it? Indeed I won't do any such thing.
Indeed you will, Mrs. Cotter.
Don't you know that 'tis Sunday night, an' that the police might
call any minute?
Bad luck to them!
This will be the last drink that any one will get in this house
'Tis a nice state of affairs to think that dacent men, after a hard
week's work, can't have a drink in pace and quietness in the town they
were born and reared in, without bein' scared out o' their senses by
'Tis the hell of a thing, entirely! I don't see what's gained be
closin' the pubs at all, unless it be to give the police somethin' to
The overfed and undertaught bla'gards!
As far as I can see, there's as much drink sold as if the pubs were
There is, an' more; for if it wasn't forbidden to drink porter, it
might be thought as little about as water.
I don't believe that, Micus. Did you ever hear of a pint or even a
gallon of water makin' any one feel like Napoleon?
[Mrs. Cotter enters and places drinks on table.
PADNA (handing money)
There ye are, ma'am.
Hurry now like good boys, for forty shillin's is a lot to pay for a
pint o' porter, an' that's what 'twill cost ye if the police comes in
an' finds ye here. An' I'll lose me license into the bargain. [Exit.
One would think be the way the police are talked about that they
had charge of the whole Universe!
An' who else has charge of it but themselves an' the magistrates,
or justices o' the pace, as they're called?
They're worse than the police.
They're as bad anyway, an' that's bad enough.
Justices o' the pace!
There's no justice in the world.
Damn the bit! Sure 'tisn't porter we should be drinkin' a cold
night like this!
PADNA (as he sips from pint)
'Tis well to have it these times.
The world is goin' to the dogs, I'm afraid.
'Tisn't goin' at all, but gone.
An' nobody seems to care.
Some pretend they do, like the preachers, but they're paid for it.
I do be often wonderin' after readin' the newspapers if God has
forgotten about the world altogether.
I wouldn't be surprised, for nothin' seems to be right. There's the
police, for instance. They can do what they like, an' we must do what
we're told, like childer.
Isn't the world a star, Micus?
MICUS (with pint to his mouth)
Of course it is.
Then it must be the way that it got lost among all the other stars
one sees on a frosty night.
Are there min in the other stars too?
So I believe.
Sure, everythin' is queer.
If the min in the other stars are like the peelers, there won't be
much room in Hell after the good are taken to Heaven on the last day.
The last day! I don't like to think about the last day.
Well, 'tis terrible to think that we might be taken to Heaven, (
pauses) an' our parents an' childer might be sent (points towards
the floor) with the Protestants.
If the Protestants will be as well treated in the next world as
they are in this, I wouldn't mind goin' with 'em meself.
I wouldn't like to be a Protestant after I'm dead, Micus.
MICUS (knocks with his pint on the table and Mrs. Cotter
enters; he points to pints) The same again, Mrs. Cotter.
Indeed, ye won't get another drop.
This will be our last, ma'am. Don't be hard on us. 'Tis only a
night of our lives, an' we'll be all dead one day.
(as she leaves the room with measures in
hand) Ye ought to be ashamed o' yerselves to be seen in a public
house a night like this.
We're ashamed o' nothin,' ma'am. We're only ourselves an' care for
Well, this is the very last drink ye'll get then. [Exit.
Women are all alike.
They are, God forgive them.
They must keep talkin'.
An' 'tis only a fool that 'ud try to prevent 'em.
(entering and placing measures on table)
Hurry up, now, an' don't have me at the next Petty Sessions. [
MICUS (after testing drink)
Nothin' like a good pint o' “Dundon's.”
'Tis great stuff.
May the Lord spare them long, an' they buildin' houses for the poor
an' churches for God!
An' all out o' the beer money?
Of course. What else could ye make money at in a country like this?
'Tis a thirsty climate!
If all those who made money built houses for the poor an' gave
employment, there 'ud soon be no poor at all.
You're talkin' what's called socialism now, an' that's too delicate
a plant, like Christianity, to thrive in a planet like this. So I heard
one o' them preacher chaps sayin' the other evenin'.
Well, be all accounts, we're no better off than those who heard St.
Peter himself preachin'. The poor still only get the promise of Heaven
from the clergy.
That's all they'll ever get.
The world must surely be lost, Padna.
If God ever goes rummagin' among the stars an' finds it again,
there'll be bad work, I'm thinkin'.
I wonder will it be a great fire or another flood?
Tis hard to tell!
[A loud knocking is heard at the door.
(from the shop)
May ye freeze there!
Or trip over the threshold and break ye'r neck!
(rushing into kitchen)
Quick! quick! quick! (Points to a door) This way, boys!
[Micus and Padna enter a small room off the kitchen. Mrs.
Cotter locks the door and opens the street door for the policeman, the
knocking getting louder meanwhile.
Wait a minit! Wait a minit! I'm comin', I'm comin'.
[Opens door. Enter Head Constable Mulligan, R.I.C.
You took a long time to open the door, ma'am.
I know I did, but it wasn't me fault, Head. I had the house locked
up for the night, an' couldn't find where I left the kay.
'Tis all right, ma'am. I can lose things meself. (Looks
carefully around) 'Tis a lonesome thing to see the house so empty.
'Tis Sunday night, Head.
Of course, of course! All the same I'd prefer to see it full—of
bona-fide travellers, I mean.
Thank ye, Head. How's Mrs. Mulligan an' the childer?
Wisha, purty fair. How's the world usin' yourself?
Only for the rheumatics I'd have no cause to grumble.
'Tis well to be alive at all these times. An' Ballyferris isn't the
best place to keep any one alive in winter time.
Or summer time ayther. Whin the weather is good trade is bad.
That's always the way in this world. We're no sooner, out o' one
trouble before another commences. I always admire the way you bear your
troubles, though, Mrs. Cotter.
I does me best, Head.
Just like meself! Just like meself! The Government makes laws an' I
must see that they're not broken. (Rubbing his hands together)
'Tis a cold night, an' no doubt about it.
Bad weather is due to us now.
Everythin' bad is due to some of us. Only for that shark of an
Inspector 'tis little trouble I'd be givin' a dacent woman like
yourself a night like this.
He's very strict, I hear.
He's strict, disagreeable, a Protestant, a teetotaler, an' a
Cromwellian to boot!
The Lord protect us! 'Tis a wonder you're alive at all!
Wisha, I'm only half alive. The cold never agrees with me. (
Looking at fire) That's not a very dangerous fire, an' I'm as cold
as a snowball.
(with her back to the door behind which
Padna and Micus are hiding) There's a fine fire up-stairs in the
HEAD (draws a chair and sits down)
Thank ye, ma'am, but 'tisn't worth me while goin' up-stairs. As I
said before, I wouldn't trouble you at all only for the Inspector, an'
like Nelson, he expects every one to do their duty.
'Tis a hard world.
An' a cold world too. I often feels cold on a summer day.
That's too bad! Is there no cure for it?
They say there's a cure for everything.
I wonder if ye took a drop o' “Wise's” ten-year-old! It might help
to warm ye, if ye sat be the fire up-stairs.
HEAD (brightening up)
Now, 'pon me word, but that's strange! I was just thinkin' o' the
same thing meself. That's what's called telepattery or thought
HEAD (with confidence)
Telepattery, ma'am. 'Tis like this: I might be in America—
I wish you were—
HEAD (with a look of surprise)
What's that, ma'am?
I wish for your own sake that you were in a country where you would
get better paid for your work.
Thank ye, ma'am. I suppose min like meself must wait till we go to
the other world to get our reward.
Well, as I was sayin', I might be in America, or New York, Boston,
Chicago, or any o' thim foreign places, an' you might be in this very
house, or up in your sister's house, or takin' a walk down the town,
an' I'd think o' some thought, an' at that very second you'd think o'
the same thought, an' nayther of us would know that we were both
thinkin' o' the same thing. That's tellepattery, ma'am.
'Tis a surprisin' thing, surely! Is it hot or cold you'll have the
Cold, if ye please.
[Exit Mrs. Cotter. While she is away, he walks up and down
whistling some popular air. Enter Mrs. Cotter.
Will I bring it up-stairs for you?
Indeed, I'm givin' you too much trouble as it is. I'll try an' take
it where I am. (Takes glass and tastes) That is good stuff.
I'm glad you like it.
Who wouldn't like it?
I don't know the taste of it.
HEAD (as he finishes contents of glass)
May ye be always so, though there's nothin' like it all the same. (
Handing coin) I think I'll have a little drop from meself this time.
(as she takes the money)
Will I bring it up-stairs?
Erra, don't bother! I'm beginnin' to feel meself again.
[Fills his pipe until she returns.
(entering and handing drink)
Did you bring your overcoat with you, Head?
Why so, ma'am?
Because the cold o' the rain is there. I wouldn't make any delay
but go home immediately. You might get a wettin'.
HEAD (feeling his tunic)
This wouldn't leave in a drop o' rain in a hundred years, ma'am.
[Knock at door.
Police, did I hear?
'Tis the Sergeant's voice.
Glory to be God! I'm ruined! If he finds the smell o' whiskey from
me, he'll tell the Inspector, an' then Head Constable Mulligan is no
Is he as bad as that?
He has no conscience at all. He's a friend o' the Inspector's. (
Knocking continues at door) Don't open that door till I tell
you—that's if you don't want to find a corpse on the floor.
Sure, I must open the door.
Time enough. He's paid for waitin'. Have you such a thing as an
onion in the house?
I didn't see an onion for the last three weeks.
HEAD (scratching his head)
What the blazes will I do? (Looking towards coal hole)
Whist! I'm saved. I'll go in here until he's gone. (Goes in and puts
out his head) You can open now, but get rid of him as soon as you
[Exit Mrs. Cotter. Enter the Sergeant.
So you opened at last. Well, better late than never!
I'm sorry for keepin' you waitin', Sergeant. I don't open the door
for any one on Sunday nights, an' whin you said “Police,” I thought it
was one o' the boys tryin' to desaive me.
I see! I see! There's a lot o' desaitful people in the town, ma'am.
There are, Sergeant.
There are indeed. (Coughs) I'm sick an' tired o' the place
I thought it agreed with you. You're lookin' very well, anyway.
I'm not feelin' well at all thin. (Coughs) There's nothin'
more deceptive than looks at times. (Coughs)
'Tis in me bed I should be instead of troublin' dacent people like
yourself a night like this. (Coughs) But duty is duty, an' it
must be done. If I didn't do what I'm told, that bla'gard of a Head
Constable would soon have another an' maybe a worse man in my place.
The Lord save us!
But as herself says: There's no use in the Government makin' laws
if the people don't keep them.
Keepin' the world in order is no aisy business, ma'am.
'Tis a great responsibility.
(drawing a chair to the fire and sitting down)
'Pon me word I'm tired an' cold too.
Wouldn't ye go home and go to bed, Sergeant?
If I went to bed at this hour, the Head would send a report to his
chum the Inspector, statin' that I was drunk. (Coughs)
That's a bad cough. How long is it troublin' ye?
Only since supper time. I was eatin' a bit o' cold meat, an' a bone
or somethin' stuck there. (Points at his throat)
An' what did ye do for it?
What could I do for it?
Ye could take a drink o' somethin' an' wash it down.
I tried some cold tea. (Coughs)
I wonder would a bottle of stout do any good.
'Twould be no harm to try.
Will ye have a bottle?
To tell ye the truth, I don't like bein' disobligin', ma'am. (
[Exit Mrs. Cotter. While she is away, he walks up
and down, whistling the while.
Ye might as well come up-stairs, Sergeant. There's a fine fire in
I'm first rate where I am. Thank you all the same.
[Takes stout and finishes it without withdrawing it from his
How do you feel now?
(wiping his mouth with a large old handkerchief)
'Tis gone! I mean the bone. I feel meself again.
I'm glad of that. (Looking at clock) 'Tis gone half-past
Plenty o' time. We'll be a long time dead, an' happy I hope.
'Tis my belief that we should all try to do good while we're alive.
There's a lot o' good people in the world, Sergeant.
There is, ma'am, but nearly every one o' them thinks that they're
better than what they are. That's what annoys me.
Sure 'tis imagination that keeps the world movin'.
Yes, an' ambition. All the same, 'tis a good job that people can't
see themselves as they really are.
They wouldn't believe that they were themselves if they could.
I suppose not.
Won't ye come up to the fire in the sittin'-room?
Don't be worryin' about me. I'm all right. That was good stout.
'Tis a cure for nearly everythin'. Only for takin' a little now an'
again, I'd never be able to stand all the hardships o' me profession.
Hard work isn't easy.
True! But a good drop o' stout, or better still “spirits” makes
many things easy. 'Tis the seed o' pluck, so to speak. I'm feelin' just
a little queer about the nerves. I think I'll have a drop o' “Wise's.”
[Exit Mrs. Cotter. While she is away he fills his pipe.
(entering with drink)
That's like the noise of a row down the road.
Erra, let 'em row away! The Head is prowlin' about. Let him
separate 'em. 'Tis about time he did somethin' for his livin'. 'Tis a
damn shame to have the poor rate payers supportin' the likes of him.
I wouldn't be talkin' like that, Sergeant.
Why wouldn't I talk? There's as many Head Constables as clergy in
the country, an' only for the sergeants an' an odd constable 'tis
unknown what 'ud happen!
The Head is a dacent gentleman.
You don't know anythin' about him. Grumblin' about havin' to shave
himself he does be now, an' only for havin' a bald patch on one side of
his face, he'd let his whiskers grow altogether.
[The Head sneezes in the coal hole.
What noise is that?
That's only the cat in the coal hole.
(leaving his chair and moves toward it)
He must be suffocatin'. I'll open the door an' let him out. Under
the grate he should be a cold night like this. (Opens the door and
sees the Head) Heavens be praised! 'Tis the Head himself!
[The Head comes out, arranges his cap, and is not aware that he
has a black spot on his nose.
'Tis the Head an' every inch an' ounce of him too that stands
I thought 'twas y'er ghost I saw.
What the blazes would me ghost be doin' in a coal hole?
What I'd like to know is what y'erself have been doin' there.
That won't take me long to tell. Waitin' and watchin' to catch the
likes o' you is what took me there.
Now, Head, with all due respects, I'd try an' tell the truth if I
Sergeant Dooley, sir, anythin' you'll say or be likely to say 'll
be used in evidence against you.
An' anythin' that you say or don't say may be used in evidence
Do you know that y'er addressin' y'er superior officer?
The less said about superiority the better.
You can't deny that I found you drinkin' on these licensed premises
while on duty.
I might as well tell you candidly that you have no more chance o'
frightenin' me or desaivin' me than you have of catchin' whales in
You'll have a drink from me, an' we'll say no more about the
matter. I wouldn't blame any man for takin' a drop a cold night like
this. I suppose 'twill be “Wise's” the same as the last? That's if me
sense o' smell isn't out of order.
HEAD (crestfallen, blows his breath on the palm of his
hand and looks at the Sergeant) Is it as bad as that?
I smelt it the instant I came in, an' wondered where 'twas comin'
I only took it to avoid catchin' cold.
Just like meself. We must avoid catchin' cold at any cost. (To
Mrs. Cotter) Two glasses o' “Wise's,” ma'am.”
[Exit Mrs. Cotter.
Wait, an' I'll wipe that black spot off ye'r nose.
[He does so. Enter Mrs. Cotter.
The fire up-stairs is blazing away, an' there's no one sittin' by
We're all right. (Holding glass) Here's long life to us!
Health an' prosperity!
HEAD (after finishing drink)
We must have another, for I'm not feelin' too well, an' 'tis better
be on the safe side. 'Twas through neglect that some o' the best min
We must not forget that!
HEAD (to Mrs. Cotter)
The same again, Mrs. Cotter.
[Exit Mrs. Cotter with glasses.
I saw be the papers last night that the Royal Irish Constabulary
are the finest in the world.
Sure every one knows that!
I wonder what kind are all the others?
That's what I'd like to know.
Will I bring them up to the sittin'-room, gentlemen?
We're first class as we are, ma'am.
[Mrs. Cotter hands the glasses and a loud knock is heard at the
'Tis the constable!
The bla'gard surely!
What'll we do?
Take the drinks first, an' consider after.
[They finish drinks and hand back the glasses to Mrs. Cotter.
I suppose we had better hide in the coal hole. He has a better nose
than yourself, an' one word from him to the Inspector would soon
deprive us o' both stripes an' pensions.
I suppose the coal hole is the best place, though it does offend me
dignity to go there.
Wisha, bad luck to you an' ye'r dignity. Come on here!
[The Head enters, and the Sergeant follows. Mrs. Cotter opens
the street door and the Constable enters.
Thanks very much for openin' the door, ma'am.
I'm sorry for keepin' you waitin', Constable. I was sayin' me
prayers up-stairs before goin' to bed.
If I had known that, I wouldn't have disturbed you. I hope you said
one for me.
Of course I did. I always ses a prayer for the police.
An' right too, ma'am, for 'tis little time we have for prayin'.
There's no rest for a man once he joins the Force. Whin y're not kept
busy thinkin' o' one thing, y're kept busy thinkin' o' somethin' else.
Thinkin' is worse than workin'.
A hundred times. (Looking at his watch) 'Tis a long time
since first Mass this mornin'. Saturday! Sunday! Monday! 'Tis all the
same whin y're in the Force. On y'er feet all day, an' kep' awake be
the childer all night. An' whin pay day comes, all y'er hard earnin's
goes to keep the wolf from the door.
God help us!
Say what ye will, but life is an awful bother.
We must go through it.
Well, 'tis a good job we don't live as long as the alligators. We
might have to support our grandchilder if we did, an' I may tell you it
gives me enough to do to support me own.
How many have you now, Constable?
Seven, an' the wife's mother.
I thought she was dead.
Dead! There's five years more in her!
You seem to be in a very bad humor to-night.
An' why not? When I have to put up with that bla'gard of a
Sergeant—not to mention the Head-constable!
We all have our troubles.
Some of us get more than our share. An' 'tis far from troublin' a
dacent woman like you I'd be, only for the Sergeant, ma'am.
Excuse me, Constable. I can't keep me eyes open with the sleep.
I'm sorry for troublin' you. But duty is duty, an' it must be done
whether we give offence to our best friends or not. Sure, 'tis well I
know that you have no one on the premises.
We can't please everybody.
(as he draws a chair to the fire and sits down)
Who would try? I wonder is it snow we're goin' to have?
If you're cold, come up to the fire in the sittin'-room. Or if I
were you, I'd take a good walk.
I'm tired o' walkin', an' the cold gives me no trouble. 'Tis the
pains I have here (placing his hand on his heart) that affects
What sort are they?
Cramps—of the worst kind.
Gracious me! Have you taken anythin' for them?
What would be good for 'em?
Hot milk an' pepper.
I tried that.
Nothin' except a smoke.
Maybe a little drop o' “Wise's” would do some good?
I'd try anythin' that 'ud lessen the pain, though I'd rather not be
'Tis no trouble at all.
[Exit. While she is away, something falls in the room where
Micus and Padna are. The Constable fails to open the door, and returns
to his chair before Mrs. Cotter comes back with the drink.
Drink that up, go straight home, bathe ye'r feet in mustard an'
water, an' ye'll be as strong as a Protestant in the mornin'!
Thank ye, ma'am.
[Drinks it off. The Head in the coal hole sneezes, and the
Sergeant shouts “God bless us!”
Oh, that's nothin'.
[Another sneeze and “God bless us!”
Well, if that nothin' isn't somethin', I'm dotin'.
[Opens door and Head and Sergeant fall out on the floor.
'Tis all your fault with your blasted sneezin'.
Now, maybe you'll believe that I've a cold.
Don't be botherin' me. I can't believe meself not to mind a liar
HEAD (to the Constable, after he has got on his feet)
Now, sir, what have you got to say for yourself? 'Twill be useless
for you to deny that meself an' the Sergeant here (points to the
Sergeant who is still on the floor) have caught you drinkin' on
these licensed premises durin' your hours o' duty.
An' what about me catchin' the pair o' ye hidin' in the coal hole
o' the same licensed premises, an' a strong smell o' whiskey from ye?
'Tis from yourself that, you smells the whiskey.
(takes an onion from his pocket, peels it, and
eats it slowly) I defy you or any one else to find the smell o'
whiskey from me.
HEAD (to the Sergeant)
Well, don't that beat Banagher?
The Devil himself couldn't do better.
Well, gentlemen, I'm sorry for troublin' ye, but duty is duty. I'll
now place ye under arrest an' send for the Inspector.
HEAD (in a rage)
No more o' this nonsense! You'll pay for this night's work, believe
I'll pay for a drink for both o' ye for the sake of old times, an'
the less said about this night's work the better. (All remain silent
for a short time) Well, are ye goin' to have the drink?
We might as well take it, for 'tis the first time he ever offered
to stand, an' it may be the last.
HEAD (after much consideration)
Very well, then, I'll have a drop o' the best.
An' I'll have the same.
Three glasses o' “Wise's,” Mrs. Cotter.
(from the bar)
[The Head and Sergeant remain silent, and the Constable paces
up and down with his hands in his pockets, whistling some popular tune,
until Mrs. Cotter brings in the drinks.
(as she places the drinks on the table)
I don't like to see ye in this cold kitchen, gentlemen. Can't ye
come up-stairs to the sitting-room?
'Tisn't worth our while, ma'am. We have our work to do. (Taking
glass in hand) Slainthe!
[Drinks half the quantity of whiskey. The Head and Sergeant do
likewise. A noise like the falling of furniture is heard from the room
where Padna and Micus are.
[There is silence for a while, then Micus is heard singing
“We are the boys of Wexford
Who fought with heart an' hand
To burst in twain the galling chain,
An' free our native land.”
HEAD (to Mrs. Cotter who has come from the bar)
I'll have the kay of that door, ma'am.
What kay, Head?
The kay o' that door, ma'am. [Strikes door with his fist.
Erra, Head, what's the matter with ye? That door is nailed up this
seven years. That singin' comes from the next house.
Glory be to God! Do any one alive tell the truth? (Catches hold of
chair by the back) If you don't give me the kay, I'll burst open the
I have no kay, Head.
HEAD (holding chair over his head)
Once more I demand the kay in the name of His Majesty the King,
before I puts the legs o' the chair flyin' through the ledges.
(crying, hands key)
Oh, wisha, what'll I do at all?
HEAD (taking key)
You'll be told that later on, ma'am.
They are only two neighbors like y'erselves. Can't ye go away an'
lave 'em alone?
HEAD (placing key)
Not a word now, ma'am, for anythin' that you will say or won't say
must be used in evidence ag'inst ye.
“Who fears to speak of Ninety-eight?
Who blushes at the name? When cowards mock the patriots' fate,
Who hangs his head for shame? He's all a knave or half a slave,
Who slights his country thus: But true men, like you, men,
Will drink your glass with us.”
HEAD (to Mrs. Cotter)
That's a nice song to be singin' on a licensed premises, ma'am.
'Twould cause a riot if there was enough o' people about. No less than
raidin' the police barracks would satisfy the likes o' that songster if
he was left at large. (Opens door. Padna and Micus stagger on to the
floor. They fall but get on their feet again) What are ye doin'
What the devil is that to you?
Or to any one else either?
Do ye know that this is a licensed premises?
PADNA (looking at Micus)
Of course we do.
An' do ye know that this is Sunday night an' that I'm the Head
Constable, an' that one o' these min here is the Sergeant an' the other
is the Constable?
PADNA (buttons his coat and looks defiantly at them)
An' do ye know that I'm Padna Sweeney from Clashbeg?
MICUS (also buttons his coat and looks aggressively at
Head) An' that I'm his old pal Micus Goggin from Castleclover?
PADNA (as he staggers)
Don't mind him, Micus. He's drunk.
What's that you're sayin'? Who's drunk?
Be jaikus, ye're all drunk.
Come on away home, Padna, an' don't mind them. They're a bad
The smell o' drink from 'em is awful.
'Tis disgustin'. I wouldn't be seen in their company. Padna. Come
HEAD (to Sergeant and Constable)
Arrest these min!
Do ye hear that, Micus?
MICUS (opening his coat)
I do, but I won't be insulted be the likes o' them.
PADNA (opening his coat also)
Nayther will I!
Why don't ye arrest these min, I say?
PADNA and MICUS
Arrest us, is it? (They take off their coats, throw them on the
ground, and take their stand like pugilists) Come on, now, and
I'll take the best man.
An' I'll take the lot.
[The police try to arrest them, and a desperate struggle
ensues. The police lose their caps and belts, but eventually succeed in
(rushes to the rescue)
O boys, for my sake, an' for the sake o' ye'r wives an' families,
have no crossness but lave the house quietly.
PADNA (as he struggles with the Sergeant)
Don't fret, ma'am. We'll have no crossness. All we want is to wipe
the police from the face o' the earth altogether.
That's all. We'll have no crossness.
[Handcuffs are placed on Micus and Padna.
Take these min to the Barrack.
[They struggle violently, and sing as they leave the house.
PADNA and MICUS
“When boyhood's fire was in my blood,
I read of ancient freemen
For Grace and Rome who bravely stood,
Three hundred men and three men.
And then I prayed I yet might see
Our fetters rent in twain,
And Ireland, long a province, be
A Nation once again.”
[Mrs. Cotter follows them to the door, and while the Head is
alone, he writes in his notebook, talking aloud as he does so.
“Found drunk an' disorderly on the licensed premises o' Mrs.
Cotter, Ballyferris, during prohibited hours. Using bad an' offensive
language. Resistin' arrest, assaultin' the police, an' doin' sayrious
damage to their garments. Singin' songs of a nature likely to cause
rebellion an' threatenin' to exterminate the whole Royal Irish
Constabulary.” (Places book back in pocket)
[There is a little whiskey in each of the three that were
placed on the mantleshelf. The Head pours
the contents of each into one and drinks it before Mrs. Cotter
returns. Enter Mrs. Cotter.
Oh, Head, you won't be hard on a lone widow, will ye? Don't
prosecute thim poor min. Sure, they have done no more harm than
HEAD (as he stands at door)
Mrs. Cotter, ma'am! I'm surprised at you.
For what, Head?
To think that you'd dare attempt to interfere with me in the
discharge o' me duty!
* * * * *
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
MARTIN O'FLYNN A Resident Magistrate
CORNELIUS JOHN MICHAEL O'CROWLEY A New Justice of the Peace
PHELAN DUFFY A Barrister-at-Law
BRENNAN CASSIDY A Solicitor
PETER DWYER Clerk of the Petty Sessions Court
MARGARET FENNELL Wife of Richard Fennell
SERGEANT HEALY A Member of the Royal Irish Constabulary
CONSTABLE O'RYAN A Member of the R.I.C.
CONSTABLE MCCARTHY A Member of the R.I.C.
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
Scene: Room in courthouse at Ballybraggan. Magistrates and clerk
of court seated on the Bench. Barristers, townspeople, and police in
body of the court.
(rises and wipes his brow with a red
handkerchief) Members of the Munster Bar, Members of the Royal
Irish Constabulary, and—gentlemen (pauses), and ladies also,
before the Court opens for the dispensation of justice, I would like to
say a few short words about a matter that concerns not only ourselves
here present, and the town of Ballybraggan in particular, but everybody
alive to their own interests and the whole world in general. We have
with us to-day one who is no stranger to the people of this historic
town, and it is with feelings of the highest regard that I stand before
you in my privileged capacity as resident magistrate to perform what
seems to me to be the most pleasing and likewise the most joyous of
duties that could fall to the lot of any man, whether he might come
from where the waves of the tumultuous Pacific wash the shores of the
great Western world or from the town of Mallow itself. And that is to
have the honor and glorification of introducing to you our new and
worthy magistrate, Mr. Cornelius John Michael O'Crowley. (Applause
) Far be it from me indeed to flatter any man, but there are times when
we must tell the truth. (Applause) And when I say that there is
no one more humble for a man of his achievements from here to Honolulu
than Mr. O'Crowley himself, I am only telling the truth in a plain and
unadorned form. Every effort put forth by Mr. O'Crowley for the welfare
of mankind has been characterised by success, and what greater proof of
his ability could we have than the fact that he is one of the largest
wine merchants and hotel proprietors in the length and breadth of
Munster? Indeed, if Mr. O'Crowley wasn't fully qualified for upholding
and sustaining the dignity of the coveted title, Justice of the Peace,
His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, who is both a scholar, a gentleman,
and a Scotchman to boot, would not be so pleased and delighted to
confer on him an honor only worthy of a man of his attainments,
sentiments, and quality of character. (Applause)
On behalf of the legal profession of which I have the honor of
being the oldest member, I am not only desirous but extremely overjoyed
to have the golden opportunity of congratulating our worthy townsman
Mr. Cornelius John Michael O'Crowley on the great distinction that has
befallen him. We all have heard of that Englishman who said one time,
with all the cleverness of an Irishman and a native of Ballybraggan at
that: “Some are born great, others acquire greatness, and more have
greatness thrust upon them.” Now to say that Mr. O'Crowley had
greatness thrust upon him would not be a fact, and whether or not he
was born great we don't know, but one thing is certain, and that is, he
has acquired greatness. And when I say so, I wish it to be distinctly
understood that I am not talking idly or glibly, but with all the
sincerity of my heart. With the same sincerity that has characterised
all my actions since I was first called to the Bar, and made of me what
I am to-day. With the same sincerity that characterises every
successful member of the legal profession, be he Irish, Scotch, or
American. Let critics say what they will, but the fact remains that
success is the best answer to adverse criticism. A man's true worth may
not always be appreciated in a cold and heartless world like ours, but
there will ever be found a few who can always sympathise with us in our
sorrows and rejoice with us in our triumphs. And Mr. O'Crowley has the
rare gift which enables him to do both. (Applause) He is a man
of large and noble ideals, of sterling qualities and knows human nature
in all its many phases. He knows the wants of the people and what's
more, he knows how to satisfy them. He would not allow any man's light
to be hidden under a bushel, so to speak, and why should we allow the
bushel to bide his? (Applause) Let credit be given where credit
is due, was ever his motto. And only one month has elapsed since he
said to me, after defending his own brother on a breach of the Sunday
Closing Act in this very courthouse, “My heartiest thanks and warmest
congratulations for your splendid victory. There isn't another man in
the whole country, not even Tim Healy himself, who could win that
On behalf of the Royal Irish Constabulary, I wish to be associated
with the hearty and unanimous welcome extended to Mr. O'Crowley, whom I
have known since the first night I came to the town. And my only regret
is that I did not know him before, because men with his rare traits of
character are not to be met with every day. His genial and kindly
disposition has endeared him to us all. His doors are never closed on
either Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, or any other day. Friend or
foe, stranger or native of Ballybraggan, are all the same to Mr.
O'Crowley. Each and every one is received with the same hearty welcome.
He is a man whom we think of in our hours of suffering, whether it be
on the scorching heat of a summer's day or the blighting cold of a
winter's night. It is my earnest wish, and I am sure that I am only
expressing the sentiments of the whole of Munster, that the success
which has attended Mr. O'Crowley in all the ventures of his useful life
will be doubled in his capacity as Justice of the Peace. (Applause
In all the long years that I have acted as clerk of this court, I
never felt more pleased at the coming of a new magistrate than when I
heard of the discretion of His Excellency in selecting Mr. O'Crowley
for this most exalted position. All that I might say in my
congratulations and welcome has already been said, and I can only
concur in the good wishes that have been offered, and though a lot more
might have been said of one so praiseworthy, I know that Mr. O'Crowley
will understand, it is not that we like him less but that we respect
him more. Mr. O'Crowley is a man who is above pride and does not want
the walls of Rome or the stones of the Munster roads to know what he
does for mankind. So I will now conclude by wishing him all the success
that he deserves, in the future and hereafter.
MR. C. J. M. O'CROWLEY
Brother magistrates, members of the Bar, members of the Royal Irish
Constabulary, and gentlemen: From the bottom of my heart I thank you
for all the high compliments you have paid me this day, and I only hope
that I will be long spared to be a source of comfort and consolation to
the men and women of Ballybraggan. I know, of course, that I am not a
pararagom of perfection, but I have the wonderful satisfaction of
knowing that I have been appreciated in my own time, and that's more
than some of the world's best poets, philosophers, and other servants
of mankind could have said. The superdalliance of some and the
pomposity and congential insufficiency of others have always been a
warning to me, and when opportunity sallied forth from her hiding place
I never failed to recognise her queenly presence and extend a
cead-mile-failte, and make of her my own, so to speak. Such was the
way of Wellington and his contemporary Hannibal, and such must be the
way of every man who must serve his country and himself. And believe
me, much as the people of Ballybraggan think about me, I think every
bit as much about them. It is hardly necessary for me to say that we
only get what we deserve in this world, and sometimes a little more or
a little less as the case may be. The desirable propensities of the
people of the town have endeared me to them with a spirit as strong as
that which makes the ivy cling to the oak, and as we see the ivy fondly
clinging to that monarch of trees, whether it sprouts its green leaves
in the glorious sunshine or falls to the ground with decay, so will I
cling to the people of Ballybraggan. Once again, I thank you, but in
conclusion I must say that I will do all in my power to prove worthy of
the reliance and confidence placed in me. (Applause)
The court is now open for the dispensation of justice. The only
case before us to-day is one of house-breaking, drunkenness from
excessive use of poteen, which is an illegal drink, and resisting
arrest by the police. The charge is laid against one Richard Fennell,
and cross-summonses have been issued to Mr. and Mrs. Fennell.
On behalf of my client, Mrs. Fennell, I wish to impress upon the
Bench the gravity of the offence with which the accused Richard Fennell
is charged, namely, drunkenness from excessive use of an illegal
intoxicant known as poteen, house-breaking, terrorizing and almost
paralyzing with fear his highly strung and sensitive wife, and adding
insult to injury in resisting arrest by his Majesty's guardian of law
and order, Sergeant Healy. These are grave charges indeed, and who will
gainsay that a man gifted with the spirit of destruction like Mr.
Fennell is a menace to the peace-abiding town of Ballybraggan? Not
since the heartless barbarians made their ruthless descent upon the
Roman Empire was there such havoc wrought in any one house, or did any
individual member of society suffer so much from nervous prostration as
Can't a man dust his own furniture and chastise his own wife if he
feels like doing so?
Order! order! There must be no interruptions in this court of
You can well imagine how poor Mrs. Fennell thought that the end of
the world was coming when she saw every bit of ware on the kitchen
dresser smashed in pieces no larger than threepenny bits on the floor.
And the alarm clock that woke Mr. Fennell every morning and reminded
him that it was time to get up and make his wife's breakfast, which she
always got in bed, struck dumb for ever with its works battered beyond
recognition. Think of this poor woman's feelings at such an awful
Feelings! She has no more feelings than a tombstone.
Think of this decent, self-respecting, loving wife and mother, who
has had no less than three husbands.
An' I'll have another too, please God!
Think, I say, of three husbands, and ten children. Six resting in
the little churchyard at Ennisbeg, and four resting in the Royal Irish
Constabulary. That Mr. Fennell was what we would call a model husband,
before he touched this poteen goes without saying. Everything that his
wife told him to do was done, and done to her satisfaction, and done
whether he liked the doing of it or no.
I always made my husbands do what they were told.
Mr. Fennell is no doubt guilty of a serious offence, but whoever
sold him the base liquor is far more guilty in the eyes of the law, as
well as the public. Needless to state, this fact does not in any way
lessen the gravity of Mr. Fennell's offence, and I would ask the Bench
not to allow any feelings of sentiment to interfere with the discharge
of their duty. I would ask that the severest penalty allowed be
inflicted on the accused for his unwarranted, unmanly, and blackguardly
(to Phelan Duffy)
Wisha, bad luck to your impudence to call my husband a bla'gard. A
dacent man that never went to the likes of you or any one else for
'Tis only the likes of lawyers that have the insolence to insult
dacent people. Sure when they aren't ignorant they're consated, and
their wives and daughters are no better than themselves.
Order, order. Unless you behave yourself, you must be placed under
Sure, you don't think I can stand here with a tongue in me head and
listen to me husband being insulted, do you?
Order, order, Mrs. Fennell, please.
[She attempts to speak again, and the sergeant his hand over
her mouth. She resents this action, and in a struggle which ensues the
sergeant falls to the floor. He is helped to his feet by Mrs. Fennell,
and both look at each other in a scornful way.
(to Mrs. Fennell)
'Tis a good job for you that you're not Mrs. Healy.
And 'tis a blessing for you that you're not Mr. Fennell.
Order, order. This conduct is scandalous, Mrs. Fennell, and you
must keep quiet.
You might as well be asking a whale to whistle “The Last Rose of
Summer” or asking the Kaiser to become a Trappist monk.
Order, order. Now please, Mrs. Fennell, come forward and give your
All I have to say is that my husband got the delirium tramens from
drinking poteen and broke every bit of furniture in the house, an' he
might have killed myself.
I wish I knew how.
Only for having the good sense of rushing to the front door and
shouting for the police. I'm an orphan, your Worship, and that's why
I'm here to seek protection from the court. All the same, I haven't a
word to say to my husband, the cowardly ruffian, only for his love of
poteen, bad temper, and contrary ways.
That will do, Mrs. Fennell.
Thanks, your Worship.
(takes out his notebook. A day pipe,
box of snuff, and handkerchief fall to the floor. The snuff falls
on the handkerchief. He replaces the snuff box and the pipe in his
pocket, and wipes his face with the snuffy handkerchief. He then opens
his notebook for reference and begins) On the night of December third
sneezes and says: God bless us!) I was on me rounds doin' beat duty
in Market Square in the town of Ballybraggan (Sneezes)—God
bless us!—and all of a sudden without a moment's notice, I was
disturbed from me reverie of pious thought, be a great disturbance like
the falling of porter barrels from the top floor of a brewery, and
without saying as much as the Lord protect me, I swung to me left from
whence the noise came and beheld Mrs. Fennell (Sneeze)—God
bless us!—rushing out of her own house the way you'd see a wild Injun
rushing in the moving pictures and shouting like a circus lion before
his breakfast: “Police! police! police!” An' as though it was the will
of Providence, I was in the very place where me presence was required.
Accidents will happen, Sergeant.
They will, and disasters too, if you don't hold your tongue.
Well, in with me to the house without a moment's delay, and what
did I see but Richard Fennell sitting in an easy chair and smoking a
cigar and looking as happy an' contented as a Protestant after a meal
of corn beef and cabbage on a Friday. An' the house, the Lord save
us!—one would think that 'twas struck be a cyclone. The only thing
that remained whole was the chair that he sat in and the decanter that
fed the broken glass from which he drank the poteen. “What brings you
here?” ses he, to me. An' only I had the presence of mind of clapping
the handcuffs on him before I had time to answer such an impertinent
question, there might be one more above in the old churchyard and one
less in this court of justice. (Sneezes) God bless us! The story
is nearly ended. (Sneezes) God bless us! I—(Sneezes) God
bless us! I—(Waits for an expected sneeze and when disappointed he
says “Thank God!”) I brought the prisoner to the barrack and have
here the poteen that changed him from a law-abiding townsman into a
fiend incarnate. (The sergeant then places the bottle of poteen on
the counter, looks very hard at it, pretends to faint from sudden
weakness, and asks for a drink of water) Can I have a little water,
if you please? [Several rush to assist him. There is no water in the
court, and the clerk gets the kind of inspiration that the sergeant
desires and fetches the poteen. He pours some out in a glass and gives
it to the sergeant.
(to the sergeant)
Try a little drop of the spirits, Sergeant, as there isn't a drop
of water to be had. The plumbers are working at the pipes.
Bad luck to them for plumbers. They are always a nuisance. (
Before putting glass to his lips) I suppose I must take it, because
I am dry as a bona-fide traveller. (He finishes it all in one drink
) It doesn't taste too bad after all, and water at its best isn't much
good for one who must do a lot of talking. I'll have a little more, if
You can't have any more, Sergeant. That would be abusing your
Alright, your Worship. When a man's as full of the law as meself,
'tis hard to remember when he's privileged. [The sergeant recovers
and the case proceeds.
(for Mr. Fennell)
On behalf of my client, Mr. Fennell, I wish to point out the
absurdity of the charges brought against him. For no reason whatever
and without a moment's warning, the sergeant rushed into his house
without an invitation or observing the laws of common propriety by
ringing the bell, and ruthlessly placed handcuffs on Mr. Fennell and
marched him off to prison like a common felon. And not a shadow of
evidence as to misbehavior against him except the statements of his
wife about the breaking of some furniture. Now, let us suppose that Mr.
Fennell did break the furniture. Was not that his own affair? The
furniture was his property, and he could do with it as he pleased.
Perhaps he did not like the manner in which it was designed, and Mr.
Fennell, mistaking his aversion for things not in keeping with his
artistic ideals, came to the conclusion that he was only on a voyage of
destruction when he merely was proving how little of the philistine
there was in his nature by removing from his home such articles as did
not harmonize with his conception of the beautiful. The fact that the
whole affair happened so hastily only goes to prove that Mr. Fennell
has the artistic temperament.
The artistic temperament, my dear! What next!
The idea of doing away with the furniture, which Mr. Fennell
emphatically states he disliked,—and what greater proof of the fact
could we have than his action in destroying it?—came to him like an
inspiration, and being a true artist he seized the opportunity, and the
world was made all the lovelier by the riddance of ugly things. I
think, in fact, I know that I have proved that the charge of
house-breaking is absurd. (Takes out his watch, holds it in the palm
of his left hand) This watch is mine, and if I should choose to
smash it into a thousand fragments, who is there to prevent me? What
power has the law over such matters? None whatever. Well, it would be
just as ridiculous and absurd to punish my client for smashing his own
furniture, which he purchased with his own hard earned money, as to
punish me for smashing this watch if I should feel like doing so. (
Applause, which is suppressed) To charge Mr. Fennell with drinking
poteen is equally absurd. He does not know what poteen tastes like. The
idea of taking a decanter and a bottle of whiskey out of any
gentleman's house without his permission is tyranny of the very worst
kind. It is a grievous offence in the eyes of the law as well as a
breach of etiquette. What, might I ask, would happen if any of us were
to break into His Worship's hotel and steal, or take if you will, some
choice samples of his wines? Would we not find ourselves in a prison
cell? Most assuredly we would, and what's more, our good name would be
gone forever. The finger of scorn would be pointed at our children and
our children's children, and posterity would never forget us.
'Tis only worse he's getting.
There is only one course for the Bench to adopt, and that is to
discharge Mr. Fennell. He has already suffered enough and any one with
such a ballyragging, unreasonable, unladylike, and headstrong wife
deserves our sympathy.
Mr. Cassidy, sir. How dare you stand up there in my presence and
insult my wife! You're no gentleman, sir. Remember when you offend my
wife, you offend me. Do you hear that?
This conduct is obstreperonious, Mr. Fennell. Mr. Cassidy is a
gentleman, and he must not be either insulted or interrupted, while he
is judiciously discharging the duties of his high office.
Oh, God help us! The world must be turned upside down when a lawyer
can be a gentleman.
Hold your tongue, woman, or I'll order you to be arrested for
contempt of court.
The next man who says a word to my wife must fight me.
[Buttons his coat.
(to the magistrates)
The Bench must make due allowances for the excitement of the
Of course, of course, Mr. Duffy, but we must not have a
reoccurrence of such conduct.
Meself and herself pulled together all these long years, and I'll
be damned if I'll allow any one to say a word to her.
[Mrs. Fennell places a handkerchief to her commences to cry.
Order, order, this is a court of justice, and the case must proceed
without further interruption or the strictest measures of the law will
be adhered to. (Pauses, speaks to the police) Any one who
interrupts me while I'm speaking must be ejected from the court.
Your Worship's orders will be obeyed.
Now, it was with the greatest of interest that I have listened to
the speeches pro and con for the prisoner and never before or since
have I heard such logic and eloquence as was used in this court of
justice to-day. I am nearly sure, in fact I'm certain, that since the
days when Marcus Anthony delivered his matchless orations before the
proud and haughty Egyptians, did such wisdom flow from the lips of any
man. By the judicious application of words and logic we have learnt
what uses can be made of the law of the land, and though our reason may
convince us and our conscience too, that right is right and wrong is
wrong, yet, the law's the law for all that, and we are Justices of the
Peace and must respect the law and abide by it. Mr. Duffy has clearly
proved to us how drink, especially bad and illegal drink, like poteen,
can change a man from a law-abiding, self-respecting, and obedient
husband into a demon and a housebreaker. And Mr. Cassidy has also
clearly proven on the other hand how that same drink can change a man
from the ordinary humdrum things of life and turn his mind to noble
ideals, and make of him an artist and an inspired one at that. Now
science has proved to us that in every one man there are two men,—the
artist, if I might be permitted to use the term, and the house-breaker.
But as the two men are only one man, and the artist is the better of
the two, then to the artist let us pay our respects, and dismiss the
charge of house-breaking.
Ah, God help us! The town will be full of artists when the militia
The charge of house-breaking then will be dismissed, but I must
impose a heavy fine and sentence for using the illegal intoxicant,
Will your Worship be good enough before passing sentence to make
sure that the liquor is poteen?
We have it on the testimony of the sergeant that it is poteen.
But with all due respect to the court, we cannot convict any one on
such evidence. What does the sergeant know about poteen?
What do I know about poteen, is it? How dare you, sir? Was there a
better maker of poteen in the County Cork than my own father, rest his
Now, isn't that evidence enough for you? Does the sergeant look
like a man who doesn't know the difference between a good and a bad
drop of whiskey?
I beg your Worship's pardon. But my client states that the evidence
is insufficient, and if he should be convicted, he will bring the case
before the Four Courts of Dublin.
He can bring it to the four courts of—Jericho, if he likes, but
that stuff in the bottle is poteen all the same.
As Mr. Fennel is so dogmatic about this liquor not being poteen,
why does he not tell us where and from whom he purchased it? (To the
sergeant) Are you sure, Sergeant Healy, that this liquor is poteen?
As well as I remember the taste of it, your Worship, it is. But
perhaps 'twould be better to make sure and try again.
Try again, then.
[Pours out a little and drinks it, smacks his li says nothing.
Well, Sergeant, what is it?
Is it or is it not poteen?
I don't get the flavor of it yet.
[Takes another drop.
What is it, Sergeant, poteen or just bad whiskey?
Bedad, 'tis hard to tell. Sometimes I think 'tis poteen, and
sometimes I think it isn't. But whatever it is, it isn't so good as the
stuff me poor father used to brew. Maybe the constable could tell us.
He comes from Castletownballymacreedy, where they make the best poteen
[Hands a glassful to the constable.
There's not a shadow of a doubt about it being poteen, your
Worship, and as fine a drop as I have tasted for many a long day.
Are you satisfied now, Mr. Cassidy?
I think it would be as well to have the opinion of some one else.
Constable McCarthy, let you take a toothful out of that decanter
and tell us what it is.
Though I am a League of the Cross man, I suppose as a matter of
duty I must break me pledge.
[Pours out a glassful and drinks.
Well, what is it?
Poteen, your Worship.
Now we have conclusive evidence that this liquor is poteen, and no
more serious charge could be brought against any man than to be found
guilty of using such obnoxious stuff by a court of justice. As with the
law of nature, so with the law of the land. He who transgresses any of
nature's laws gets duly punished according to the nature of his
offence. And so also with the law of the country. Mr. Fennell must be
punished, and his punishment must serve as an example to others and—
I beg your Worship's pardon. We do not always get punished for
disobeying the laws of nature. Nature's strongest force is
self-assertion, and excessive self-assertion is vanity, and vanity is
You must excuse me interrupting you, Mr. Cassidy, but that train of
argument cannot be followed here.
We have proved that poteen was found in the prisoner's
house, and if he did not make it himself, where then did he get it
Mr. Fennel emphatically denies having anything to do with the
making of the liquor found on his premises. And so far it has not been
proved to either his or my satisfaction that the intoxicant is poteen.
Does your client mean for a moment to cast a reflection on the
police of this town, and insinuate that they don't know what poteen is?
We are not satisfied with the decision of the police, your Worship.
Very well then, we'll give it a further test.
[Gives the decanter to the clerk, Peter Dwyer.
(after tasting it)
If that's not poteen, may I never wet my lips with it again.
(to Mr. Cassidy)
Perhaps you are satisfied now.
No, I am not.
Well, taste it yourself and tell us what it is.
Whatever it is, it is not poteen.
(pours out some in a glass)
I'll soon settle the question. (Drinks) That's poteen, and
good poteen too.
I beg to disagree with your Worship.
How dare you disagree with me, sir, and I drinking poteen every day
of my life. I'd resign my seat on the Bench rather than suffer to be
insulted in such a manner again.
I apologise. Nothing could be further from my thought than offence.
I'm glad to hear you say so, because when I said that the liquor in
the decanter was poteen, I knew what I was talking about. Unless the
prisoner tells us how he procured this illegal drink, he will be
imprisoned for six months.
For six months, is it?
Yes, for six long months, and you must find bail for your good
behavior at the end of the term for a period of twelve months.
Well, as you are so anxious to know where I procured the stuff that
you have certified to be poteen, I have great pleasure in telling you
that it was purchased at Mr. Cornelius John Michael O'Crowley's
establishment under the name of Scotch whiskey, and if there is any
doubt about the matter, I can show you some of his own sealed bottles
with the same stuff in them.
The saints protect us! What a vile fabrication!
Ah, you old hypocrite, 'tis about time that you were found out.
Place that woman under arrest for contempt of court. (Mrs.
Fennell is placed in the dock) Now, Mrs. Fennell, anything that you
will say will be used in evidence against you, so I warn you to hold
your tongue and keep quiet.
I'll try and keep quiet, your Worship.
Gentlemen, I regret to state that a mistake has occurred somewhere,
and there's nothing more plentiful than mistakes. They commenced long
ago in the Garden of Eden, and they are as inevitable as the day and
night, as inevitable, I might say, as America itself. Yes, some one has
blundered, as Napoleon said when he woke up and found himself a
prisoner on St. Helena. Mr. Fennell, alas! has erred, but to err is
human, and to forgive is divine. We are reasonable people, and we must
treat this matter in a reasonable manner. The prisoner has stated that
he purchased poteen at my premises, but what reliance can we place on
the word of a man who is addicted to drinking poteen? None whatever. We
have only the prisoner's word that the poteen was purchased at my
establishment, but the probability is that he was only suffering from
its ill effects when he imagined that I was the one who supplied it.
Though I'm very sorry indeed to have anything to say against Mr.
Fennell, his word cannot be taken as evidence, and the case will be
dismissed. (Applause, which is suppressed) The dignity of the
court must be upheld, and the next person who applauds will be ejected.
[Mr. Fennett is dismissed and Mrs. Fennett placed in the dock.
She goes through the usual ordeal of swearing, and Mr. O'Crowley tries
For contempt of court, Mrs. Fennell, you will be fined ten pounds,
and you will be bound to the peace for twelve months, and you must give
two securities of fifty pounds each, or go to jail for a term of six
months with hard labor. And anything that you may say after the
sentence of the court has been passed, of a disparaging nature to the
Bench, will be considered as a necessity for further punishment. I hope
that I have made myself perfectly clear.
Yes, your Worship, you have made yourself perfectly clear. (
Starts to cry) Oh, what will I do at all? Is there no one to go bail
for me? (Mr. Fennell looks like one who is trying to come to a
decision, and Mrs. Fennell starts to cry again) Is it the way that
ye'll be having me taken to the county jail for doing nothing at all?
Oh, wisha, who's going to go bail for me? Maybe 'tis yourself, Mr.
(walking up to the dock)
And I here, is it? Not for likely. I'll go bail for you, of course.
* * * * *
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
WILLIAM DRISCOLL A public-house keeper
POLICE AND TOWNSPEOPLE
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
Scene: Back parlor of a country public house. The
proprietor, William Driscoll, a man of about fifty with a very dour
expression, sings as he sweeps the floor:
“Oh, the days are gone, when Beauty bright
My heart's chain wove;
When the dream of life from morn till night
Was love, still love.
New hope may bloom,
And days may come
Of milder, calmer beam,
But there's nothing half so sweet in life
As love's young dream.
No, there's nothing half so sweet in life
As love's young dream.”
[Logan, a stranger, enters.
Good mornin' and good luck. What can I do for you?
I'll have a glass of the best whiskey.
All right, my good man. You shall get it.
LOGAN (takes up the morning paper, sits on the table, and
speaks aloud) Be the pipers that played the dead march for Moses,
but I'm twice as big a fool as I thought I was. And knowledge of that
sort is cold comfort for any man. What's this I see here? “Daring
burglary in the town of Castlemorgan. During the early hours of the
morning, the house of Michael Cassily was broken into, and five pound
notes, a gentleman's watch and a pair of silver candlesticks were
stolen. So far, no arrests have been made, but the police have every
hope of bringing those who committed the offence to justice, because
Mr. Cassily states that he saw two men leaving by the back entrance,
and found a piece of a coat-tail hanging from a nail on the porch.”
[He lifts up his coat, and discovers a piece missing from the
tail, and is about to take it off for a closer inspection when the
publican enters with the whiskey.
(as he places the whiskey upon the table)
This is your drink, stranger, and believe me, you couldn't get a
better drop of whiskey in the whole United Kingdom, not even if you
went to the King's palace itself for it.
'Tis good, you say.
None better, and wonderful stuff to put heart into a man.
LOGAN (drinks it off)
'Tis the good flavor it has surely. (Pauses awhile) I think
I'll have another, for 'tis plenty of heart I'll be wantin' before the
day goes to its close.
'Tis easy to feel plucky in the mornin', but 'tis a brave man who
can feel happy at the heel of day, especially if he has an uneasy
conscience and an empty stomach.
Hunger plays the devil with us all. A man with an empty stomach, an
empty purse, and an empty house, except for a scoldin' wife, can never
That's so, but if that's all you have to contend with, you haven't
much to worry about. Sure I thought by your looks and the way you spoke
that you might have killed a man and had the bloodhounds after you.
A man's conscience is worse than having bloodhounds after him, if
he has to spend months in idleness through no fault of his own, and no
one to look for sympathy from but a scoldin' wife.
The Lord protect us from scoldin' wives, anyway. They're the
scourge of Hell. But there are worse things than being married to a
wife with no control over her temper. You might be like the thief who
broke into the house of Michael Cassily and stole his grandfather's
watch and chain and silver candlestick.
And when did all this happen?
During the small hours of the mornin'.
That was a damnable thing to do.
'Twas more foolish than anythin' else, because, if Michael Cassily
should ever lay hands upon the man who stole his belongings, he'd shoot
at him the way you'd shoot at a rabbit in a ditch and kill him as dead
as one of Egypt's kings.
The Lord save us! You don't mean what you say.
I do, and every word of it. And a sure shot he is too. Indeed 'tis
said that nothing in the sky or on the land could escape him when he
has a gun in his hand.
I heard before comin' to this town that he was a very quiet and
And so he is a quiet man when he's left alone. But when his temper
is up, the devil himself is a gentleman to him.
I'll have another glass of whiskey. [Exit the publican. While he
is away, Logan looks at the torn part of his coat, and a stranger
(saunters into the back kitchen, picks a
piece of wet paper off the floor, and tries to light it at the fire
for the purpose of lighting his pipe, and after several unsuccessful
attempts, he turns to Logan) Good mornin', and God bless you, stranger.
Good mornin', kindly.
It looks as though we were goin' to have a spell of fine weather.
Judgin' by the way the wind is, it would seem so.
'Tis splendid weather for walkin' or tillin' the land.
'Tis good weather for anythin'.
All the same, 'tis a long stretch of a road from here to Ballinore.
How far is it, I wonder?
Twenty miles at least.
Every step of it, and a long road for a man with the rheumatics and
And what brought you from Ballinore?
And what would bring any poor man from his native town but lookin'
for work. And that's a hard thing to be doin' when a man hasn't a
friend to help him towards a job.
A man can always make friends if he wants to.
'Tis no easy thing for a man who hasn't a sleutherin' tongue and
the takin' way with him to make friends, stranger.
'Tis easy enough to make fine weather friends. But I suppose a
friend isn't worth a damn unless he can help a man when he's in
To have a lot of money is the easiest way of makin' friends. But
when a man hasn't either money or the sleutherin' tongue, he can't
expect to have any more of the world's goods than myself.
And have you no friends at all among all the millions of people on
the face of the earth?
The devil a one ever bothers their head about me but myself. And
what I can do for myself is hardly worth doin' for any one.
After all, when a man has his health and enough to eat, he should
But how could you expect the likes of me to be contented when I
didn't break my fast this blessed day yet, and all I have in the world
is the bit of tobacco you see in my old pipe, and unless you're not as
dacent as you look, 'tis hungry maybe I'll be until I find a turnip
field before the fall of night.
Would you drink a pint of porter and eat a penny bun?
Indeed I would, and remember the one in my prayers who'd give them
LOGAN (knocks and the publican enters)
Bring this man a pint of porter and give him one of the penny buns
or two that you have on the porter barrel in the shop.
Indeed I will and much good may they do him.
[Places pint of porter and bread in front of Falvey who begins
to eat and drink.
God bless your noble soul and may you be long spared to do good in
the world. (As he eats) There's no sauce like hunger, and no
friend like the friend in need.
That's true. Now tell me, do you expect to get work in this town?
'Tis my intention to try.
You'd have as much chance of slippin' into heaven with your soul as
black as a skillet from mortal sins, unknownst to St. Peter, as you'd
have of gettin' a job with an old coat like that.
And what can I do, God help me, when I have no other?
I'll swap with you, and then you'll have some chance, but otherwise
you might as well walk back to where you came from.
But I couldn't take a coat from a strange gentleman like yourself
and have an easy conscience. Sure, this old coat of mine is only fit to
be used for a scarecrow.
You're a fool to be talkin' like that, stranger. Don't you know
that you must take all you can get and give away as little as you can
if you want to be successful in life?
And why, then, should you be givin' me your coat when you want it
You had better say no more, lest I might change my mind. Sure, 'tis
sorry I may be to-night when I'm facing the cold winds on the lonely
roads that I exchanged my fine warm coat for an old threadbare garment
that a rag man wouldn't give a child a lump of candy for.
Sure, St. Francis himself couldn't do more, and he that tore his
coat in two and shared it with the beggars.
'Tis easy for a saint of God to be good, when he feels that he'll
be rewarded for his self-sacrifice, but have no more old talk and give
me that old coat of yours, or if you don't I might change my mind, and
then you'll have plenty of time to regret your foolishness.
Very well, stranger, very well. (They exchange coats) May
the Lord spare you all the days you want to live, and may you never
want for anythin' but the ill wishes of your enemies.
That coat makes you look like a gentleman, and if you only had a
better hat, and a good shave, you might get some old widow with a small
farm to marry you, if you are a bachelor.
Of course I'm a bachelor. Who'd be bothered with the likes of me
for a husband. Sure, I wouldn't raise my hand to a woman in a thousand
years, and what do women care about a man unless he can earn lots of
money and leather the devil out of them when they don't behave
That's true. And when a man hasn't any money to give his wife, the
next best thing to do is to give her a good beatin'.
That's what my father used to say. But 'tis the lucky thing for me
all the same that I'm not married, an' that I strayed into a house like
this to-day. Yet I don't think 'tis a bit fair for me to be wearin'
your fine coat and you wearin' mine. You don't look a bit comfortable
I feel comfortable, and far more comfortable than you can imagine;
and after all that's what matters. Every eye forms its own beauty, and
when the heart is young, it doesn't matter how old you are.
That's true! That's true! But 'tis the dacent man you are,
nevertheless, and 'tisn't the likes of you that a poor man like myself
meets every day.
No, and it may be a long time again before you will meet another
like me. But be that as it may, I must be going now, so here's a
shillin' for you and go to the barber's next door and have a shave
before startin' to look for work. (Hands shilling) Good-by.
Good-by, God bless you and long life to you.
[Exit Logan. Enter an old friend.
(walks slowly and takes the newspaper
from the table, looks at the clock) Only half-past ten, and damn
the bit to do. Ah, me! ah, me! One bloody day like another!
[Sits on the chair and yawns. Knocks for the publican. Enter
Good mornin', Garret. Anythin' new to-day?
Yes, I have good news this mornin'.
An' what is it?
Oh, not much, only that a grand-uncle of mine is after dyin' in
America and leavin' me a fortune of a hundred thousand pounds.
That's a terrible responsibility for a poor man to have thrust upon
him. What are you going to do with it at all?
Well, I was thinkin' of buyin' a new suit of clothes and dividin'
what's left between the poor of the town, the Sisters of Charity, and
the Salvation Army.
Wisha, I'm sick and tired of hearin' old yarns like that. I suppose
'tis the way that you want a half a glass of whiskey and haven't the
price of it.
How dare you insinuate such a thing. (Places a sovereign on the
table) Give me a half a whiskey and no more old talk out of you.
And where did you get all that money?
That's my business. I got it from the captain in the Salvation Army
when I told him how much money I was goin' to give him by and by.
Well, that's the first and last donation you'll ever get from the
Salvation Army. Sure, if you got all the money that was to be left to
you since I knew you first, you'd be buildin' libraries all over the
world like Carnegie to advertise your vanity.
'Tis nothin' to you whether I will build libraries or public houses
for the poor when I'll get all the money that's comin' to me.
Ah, wisha, I'm about sick and tired of hearin' all the things
you're going to do.
I don't give a damn whether you are or not. Go and get me the
whiskey, or I'll get it elsewhere.
Very well, very well! I'll get you the whiskey.
DEVLIN (to Falvey, who is still eating his loaf of bread)
Good mornin', stranger.
Good mornin' and good luck, sir.
'Tis a fine mornin'.
A glorious mornin', thank God.
Is that your breakfast that you're eatin'?
Indeed it is, stranger, and maybe my dinner and supper too.
'Tis the hell of a thing to be poor.
Sure 'tis myself that knows it.
And 'tis as bad to be rich and not to be able to get any of your
money like myself.
There's trouble in everythin', but no respect for the poor.
None whatever! none whatever! And no greater misfortune could
befall a man than to be poor and honest at the same time. But all the
same I'll be a millionaire when my money comes from America.
America must be a great country. One man is as good as another
there, I believe.
So they say, when both of them have nothin'. (Looking hard at
the stranger) Tell me, haven't I seen you somewhere before? What's
that your name is?
My name is Bernard Falvey, and I come from Ballinore.
Well, well, to be sure, and I'm Garret Devlin, your mother's first
cousin! Who'd ever think of meetin' you here. The world is a small
place after all!
It must be fifteen or more years since last we met.
Every day of it. And what have you been doing since? I'd hardly
know you at all, the way you have changed.
Workin' when I wasn't idle and idle when I wasn't workin', but in
trouble all the time.
You're like myself. I too only exchange one kind of trouble for
another. When I got married I had to live with the wife's mother for
two years, and when she died, I had to support my widowed
sister-in-law's three children. And when they were rared and fit to be
earnin' for themselves and be a help to me, they got drowned. Then my
poor wife lost her senses, and I haven't had peace or ease ever since.
She thinks that she is the Queen of England, and that I'm the King.
An' have you no children?
An' what does he do for a livin'?
He's a private in the militia, and his mother thinks he's the
Prince of Wales.
God help us all, but 'tis the queer things that happen to the poor.
An' what are you doin' in these parts?
Lookin' for work.
An' that itself is the worst kind of hardship. I don't think that
there's much doin' these times for the natives, not to mention the
strangers, though 'tis the strangers get the pickings wherever they go.
We'll have a look at the newspaper and see what's doin' anyway. (
Reads from the advertisement columns) “Wanted a respectable man, to
act as a coachman to His Lordship the Bishop. He must have a good
appearance, have sober habits, and a knowledge of horses and the ways
of the clergy.” That won't do.
“Wanted, a young man of dashing appearance, with
a good vocabulary to act as travelling salesman, must be well
recommended, and have a thorough knowledge of the dry goods business.”
That won't do either.
“Wanted, a middle-aged man to act as companion to
an invalid. He must have a knowledge of French and German, and be
able to play the violin.” That won't do.
“Wanted a man to make himself generally useful at
an undertaker's establishment. Apply to Michael Cassily. William
O'Brien St.” Bedad, but that's the very job for you.
But how am I to get it?
I'll give you a letter of introduction to Micky Cassily. He's an
old friend of mine.
Sure, that would be a great thing entirely.
Wait now, and I'll make a man of you, and if you should ever become
Lord Mayor of Cork or Dublin, you must not forget me.
Indeed, I'll never be able to forget this blessed day, and the
kindness of the people I have met in Castlemorgan.
[Knocks for the publican, and walks up and down; when the
publican enters, he assumes an air of great importance.
What's the matter?
I want you to oblige me with a few sheets of note paper, a bottle
of ink, and a writin' pen.
And what do you want them for?
To write a letter of introduction for this poor man here. He's
lookin' for work, and I want to help him to get it.
Then I'll give them to you with pleasure.
You needn't worry any more. I'll get a job for you. Micky and
myself are old friends. He buried my father and mother and all
belongin' to me. And although I do say it myself, there isn't a better
undertaker from here to Dublin. He's as good a judge of a dead man as
any one you ever met, and could measure the size of a coffin without
using the tape at all. [Enter Driscoll.
(as he places writing materials on the table)
Here's the writing material, and may good luck attend you.
Thank you, very much. (To Falvey) Now to business.
[They both sit at the table, and Devlin commences to write.
Dear Mr. Cassily:
I have the hon—how's that you spell honour?—h-o-n-n-o-u-r,
of course. Yes, that's right. I have the honour, and likewise the
(pauses) unprecedented—that's not an easy word to
spell—u-n-p-r-ee-s-c-ee-d-e-n-t-e-d—that wasn't such a hard word
after all, and it looks fine in print (repeats) unprecedented
and the great pleasure—that spells p-l-e-a-s-u-r—of introducing,
that's a stumbler of a word,—i-n-t-r-d—(to Falvey) Can you
spell the rest of it?
No. That's not right. We had better call Bill Driscoll. Are you
there, Bill? [Enter Driscoll.
What's the matter?
We want you to spell “introducing.”
(wiping a pint measure)
With pleasure. (Confidently) i-n-t-u-r-d-e-w-c-i-n-g.
Are you sure that is right?
Of course I am. What do you think I went to school for?
Very well, I'll take your word for it. But stay here awhile,
because we may want your assistance soon again. This is an important
matter, and we must give all our attention to it. I have the honor and
likewise the unprecedented and the great pleasure of introducing to you
a cousin of my own on my mother's side, one Barney Falvey. He is a man
of many and n-e-w-m-e-r-o-w-s. (To Driscoll) Isn't that right?
That's all right. Proceed.
—numerous a-c-o-m-p-l-i-s-h-m-e-n-t-s. That sounds wrong, doesn't
It sounds wrong, but let it go. No one will ever notice the
mistake, when we can't find it out ourselves.
He has an i-n-g-a-n-o-s turn of mind, and can do all kinds of hard
or easy work. He can p-l-o-w a field, milk a cow, mind childer, and
make nearly every thing from a bird cage, a mousetrap, or a snuff box,
to a coffin. He is w-i-l-i-n, o-b-l-i-g-i-n, and can put up with all
kinds of abuse. He can look i-n-o-s-c-e-n-t or guilty, as the occasion
may require and will, I'm sure, and certain, taking his accomplishments
all round, prove to be the very man you are lookin' for to fill the
v-a-k-a-n-c-y in your highly respected e-s-t-a-b-1-i-shment. Anythin'
you can do for him will be considered a personal f-a-v-o-u-r by your
old and e-s-t-e-a-m-ed friend,
[He reads it over again aloud.
“Dear Mr. Cassily:
“I have the honour and likewise the unprecedented
and great pleasure of introducin' to you a cousin of my own on my
mother's side, one Barney Falvey. He is a man of many parts and
numerous accomplishments. He has an ingenious turn of mind and can do
all kinds of hard and easy work. He can plow a field, milk a cow, mind
childer, and make nearly everythin' from a bird cage, a mousetrap, or a
snuff box, to a coffin. He is willin' and obligin' and can put up with
all kinds of abuse. He can look innocent or guilty as the occasion may
require, and will, I am certain and confident, taking his
accomplishments all round, prove to be the very man you are lookin' for
to fill the vacancy in your highly respected establishment. Anythin'
that you can do for him will be considered a personal favour by your
old and esteemed friend,
That's a great letter. Be God, sure 'twould nearly
get the job for myself. But it would never do for one of my social
standin' to take such a position in this town.
'Tis a great thing to be able to put so many words together on
paper. And 'tis the wonderful gift to have surely. A man that could
write like you should be a secretary to the Lord Lieutenant himself, or
writin' sermons for the Pope of Rome.
Now, no more old palaver, talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy
whiskey. Look as smart as you can (hands letter), and deliver
this letter before it's too late. There's nothin' like doin' things
with despatch when you're in a hurry. Wait, your face is none too
clean. Where's your handkerchief? (Hands him an old dirty handkerchief.
He drains the dregs of a pewter pint on the handkerchief, and wipes his
face with it. Then he looks at Falvey's boots) Glory be to God! but
you're a very careless man! When did you clean these boots last?
Wisha, who could keep boots clean upon the dirty roads.
[Takes off his old hat and wipes his boots with it
That's better. Now take off that old tie, and I'll give you mine.
But you must return it to me when you get the job. It belonged to my
grandfather, and it always brought luck to the family.
[They exchange ties, and Devlin's toilet is completed by
brushing the legs of his old trousers with a sweeping brush.
DEVLIN (looking at him approvingly)
If you always kept yourself as respectable lookin' as that, you
would never want for work, I'm thinkin'.
FALVEY (looking at himself in an old mirror)
There's somethin' in what you say. Sure my mother always told me I
was the best lookin' in the family.
That may be, but your beauty isn't of the fatal kind. (Shaking
hands with him) Good luck now, and I'll wait here until you'll
God bless you, God bless you, I'll be back as soon as I can.
DEVLIN (knocks and orders another half of whiskey)
Another half one. That letter took a lot out of me.
Literature, they say, is always a great strain on a man's vitality.
I was offered a job as proof reader on a newspaper one time, but my
friends advised me not to take it.
Your friends were wise. Stayin' up at night is bad for any man.
'Tis hard enough to be up in the mornin' without bein' up at night as
(places drink on table)
[Exit. A man of about forty-five enters, with a pint of porter
in his hand. He sits near Devlin.
Good mornin', stranger.
'Tis a fine day for this time of year.
This would be a fine day for any part of the year.
Fine weather is the least of the good things that the poor is
The poor have their wants, of course, but the rich, bad luck and
misfortune to them one and all, have their troubles also, because they
don't know what they want, the discontented, lazy, good-for-nothin'
varmints. May they all perish be their own folly before the world or
their money comes to an end.
'Tis only the poor who knows how bad the rich are. And only the
rich that can be hard on the poor. Have you a match, if you please?
DEVLIN (handing a box)
You'll find plenty in that.
All the comfort some of us have in this world is a smoke, that's
when we have the tobacco, of course.
There'll be smokin' enough in the next world, they say, but that's
cold comfort to a man without the fillin's of a pipe or a match to
'Tis a great misfortune to be born at all.
That's what I've often been thinkin'. And many's the time I've
cursed the day that my father met my mother. (Sadly) 'Twould be
better for us all in spite of what the clergy say that we were all
Protestants, or else died before we came to the use of reason. But
things might be worse.
Trouble comes to us all, and 'tis a consolation to know that the
King must die as well as the beggar. Think of me, and I after losin' my
return ticket to Carlow, and I must be there to-night even if I have to
walk every step of the way.
And haven't you the price of your ticket?
The devil a penny at all have I, and unless I can sell my watch to
buy my ticket with, I'll lose my job, and then my wife and family must
go to the workhouse.
God himself seems to be no friend of the poor. That was a terrible
calamity to befall a stranger. How much will your ticket cost?
Ten shillin's, and I'm willin' to part with my watch for that
triflin' sum, though 'twas my poor father's, rest his soul. (Holds
watch in his hand) Look at it, 'tis as fine a timepiece as eyes
ever rested on. A solid silver watch, and a chain of solid gold, and
all for ten shillin's. And history enough attached to it to write a
'Tis a bargain surely.
A man wearin' a watch and chain like that would get credit anywhere
he'd be known, though 'twould be no use to a stranger.
Leave me see how 'twould look on me. (The stranger hands him the
watch, and Devlin adjusts it to his vest front, walks up and down the
room, and looks in the glass) Bedad, but you're right. It does make
a man feel good, and maybe better than he is.
A man walkin' into a friend's house with ornamentation on him like
that would get the lend of anythin'.
I believe he would.
Indeed you may say so.
And you'll sell it for ten shillin's.
Yes, if you'll be quick about it, because I must catch the train
and get home as soon as I can.
Does it keep good time?
'Tis the best timekeeper that ever was.
DEVLIN (places watch to his ear)
It has a good strong tick, anyway. I'll give you the ten shillin's
for it. Here you are.
NAGLE (takes the money)
Thank you kindly, though it nearly breaks my heart to part with it.
Life is made up of comin' and goin', and what we lose to-day we may
gain to-morrow, and lose again the next day.
One man's loss is another man's profit, and that's how the world
True. And there's no use in being alive unless we can help each
other. Sure 'tis for each other, and not by each other, that we should
'Pon my word, but to know how to live is the greatest problem of
That's so. Sometimes 'tis foolish to be wise and other times 'tis
wise to be foolish, but the sensible man will always look out for
himself and let his friends look after his enemies.
Every word you say is true, but I must be goin' or I'll lose the
train. So I'll bid you good-by and good luck.
Good day and good luck to you also. (Exit Nagle) The
stranger was right. A man with a watch and chain like this, and able to
tell every one the time of day, could get as much on his word as he'd
[Buttons his coat and takes up the newspaper, sits in the chair
and commences to read. He is soon disturbed by the entrance of Bernard
Falvey, Michael Cassily, two policemen, and several of the townspeople.
(pointing to Devlin)
Is this the man who gave you the letter of introduction?
That's the man who has brought all this trouble on me, but I'm as
innocent as the babe unborn of the charge of burglary.
Hold your tongue, I say. What greater proof could we have than the
torn coat which you're wearin'?
I tell you that I got this coat from a stranger I met in this
house, this mornin'.
And sure you're the one who can look innocent, believe me. But this
won't be much good to you when you go before the magistrates. Now we'll
deal with your partner. (Places his hand on Devlin's shoulder) I
must arrest you on suspicion for being an accomplice of this strange
man here who broke into Mr. Michael Cassily's establishment last night,
and stole five pound notes, two silver candlesticks and a silver watch
and golden chain.
Is it madness that has come upon the crowd of you? Me that never
stole anythin' in my life, to be accused of robbin' from a dacent man
like Michael Cassily!
Search him, constable.
Of course, I will. (He opens his coat, finds the watch and
chain, takes it off, hands it to Michael Cassily) Is that yours?
Yes, constable, that's the watch and chain that was stolen from my
house this mornin'.
What have you to say for yourself now?
Nothin', only that I paid ten shillin's to a stranger less than
half an hour ago.
And where did you get the ten shillin's, you that haven't had ten
shillin's of your own altogether for ten years, but always borrowin'
money and tellin' the people that you are goin' to inherit a fortune
Tis the truth I'm tellin' you.
Nonsense, nonsense. What greater proof could we have of your guilt?
This man here who you gave the letter of introduction is a stranger to
the town and the piece of cloth that Mr. Cassily found hangin' on a
nail in his back porch after the burglary was committed, is the piece
of cloth that is missin' from this man's coat. (Fits the piece of
cloth) And we have found the identical watch and chain on your own
'Twas a clever scheme of the pair of them and no doubt about it.
I never thought that any one could add insult to injury in such a
manner. I was always a friend to you, Garret Devlin, and you tried to
get this man who had already robbed me, a position in my establishment
so that he could rob me all the more.
As sure as my great-grandfather is dead and gone, I tell you that I
got this coat from a stranger in this very house.
And as sure as the devil has paid a visit this blessed day to
Castlemorgan, I tell you I bought that watch and chain from a stranger
also. William Driscoll will prove that there were two such men in his
If William Driscoll says a word in your defence, he'll be arrested
on suspicion also. (To the publican) What have you to say?
Not a word, constable, not a word. I know nothin' at all about the
matter except readin' the account of the dreadful affair in the mornin'
paper. [First policeman places the handcuffs on both, and walks them
towards the door.
What's goin' to happen to us at all, at all?
The judge will tell you that at the next assizes.
* * * * *
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
DONAL CORCORAN A farmer
MARY ELLEN CORCORAN Wife of Donal Corcoran
KITTY CORCORAN Daughter of Ellen and Donal Corcoran
DENIS DELAHUNTY A farmer
ANASTATIA DEALHUNTY Wife of Denis Delahunty
CONSTABLE DUNLEA A member of the R. I. C.
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
Place: An island off the West coast of Ireland.
Scene: Interior of Donal Corcoran's house. Donal and
his wife seated in two comfortable armchairs by the parlour fire.
The parlour is well furnished, and Kitty is busy dusting, as visitors
are expected. Donal is a man of about fifty-six years, and his wife is
a little younger. Donal is reading a copy of the Galway Examiner, and
his wife is knitting a stocking.
DONAL (as he stretches the paper in front of him. With a
look of surprise) Glory be to God!
(who does not notice his attitude or expression
DONAL (holds the paper with one hand, and brushes the
hair from his forehead with the other) Is it the way that I'm
dreamin', or losin' my senses? Or is it the way I have no senses to
(looking up from her knitting)
Wisha, what's the matter, at all? Did any one die and leave you a
Who the devil would die and leave me anything? when I have no one
belongin' to me but poor relations. Bad luck to them, and they only
waitin' for myself to die, so that they could have what I worked and
slaved for all those long and weary years. But 'tisn't much there will
be for any one after Kitty gets her dowry. What's left will be little
enough for ourselves, I'm thinkin'.
But what have you seen in the newspaper?
Baronetcy for the chairman of the Innismore Board of Guardians. His
Majesty the King has been pleased to confer a Royal favour on the
worthy and exemplary Denis Delahunty, who in future will be known as
Sir Denis Delahunty, Bart., in recognition of his services to the
people of Innismore. It was with a feelin' of pride and admiration
(as she drops the stocking on the floor,
lifts the spectacles from her nose, and places them on her brow)
The Lord protect and save us all! Is it the truth, I wonder?
DONAL (handing paper)
See for yourself, woman.
(grabs the paper and scans it with interest)
Sure enough, there it is, then, with five lines of large black
letters and two columns of small letters besides, and his photograph as
well. (To Kitty) Look Kitty, darlin', look. There 'tis all. Sit
down and read it aloud for us. 'Twill sound better that way.
KITTY (takes the paper and smiles. Falls on a chair nearly
overcome with laughter. The parents look on in amazement) Sir Denis
Delahunty! (Laughs heartily)
What are you laughin' at? You impudent hussy!
KITTY (still laughing)
Sir Denis Delahunty, Bart., my dear!
Yes, yes, Sir Denis Delahunty. And what about it?
Dinny Delahunty, the old caubogue, a baronet, and no less! (
I'll have no more of this laughin', I say. What at all, are you
amused at, I'd like to know?
Oh, father, sure 'tis a blessing that some one has a sense of
humour, like myself and the King. And 'twas the great laugh he must
have had to himself, when he made a baronet of Dinny Delahunty. Not to
mention all the other shoneens and huxters, from here to Bantry.
How dare you speak to me like that, miss, when 'tis yourself that
will be Lady Delahunty one of these fine days. Dinny, I mean, Sir Denis
himself, is comin' here to-night to make a match with his son, Finbarr.
Wisha, indeed, now! And who told you I am going to wed Finbarr
Delahunty? And he a more miserable shoneen than his old crawthumping
humbug of a father.
If you'll speak as disrespectfully as that again about any of my
friends you'll be sorry for it. 'Tis I'm tellin' you that you are to
wed Finbarr Delahunty and that's information enough for you, my damsel.
I'll spare you the trouble of picking a man for me, father.
Don't be disobedient, Kitty. You must remember that I never laid
eyes on your father until the mornin' I met him at the altar rails.
You should be ashamed to acknowledge the like, mother.
Ashamed of me, is it? The father that rared and schooled you!
I have said nothing at all to offend you, father. But I have
already told you that I am going to pick a husband for myself.
You are goin' to pick a husband for yourself! Are you, indeed? Ah,
sure 'tis the stubbornness of your mother's people that's in you.
(as she keeps knitting)
And her father's, too.
What's that you're saying, woman?
I said that 'twas from your side of the family that she brought the
How dare you say that, and in my presence, too? The devil blast the
one belongin' to me was ever stubborn. She's her mother's daughter, I'm
Whatever is gentle in her comes from me, and what's stubborn and
contrary comes from you and yours.
DONAL (in a rage)
God be praised and glorified! What's gentle in her, will you tell
me? She that pleases herself in everythin'. (To Kitty) I'll
knock the stubbornness out of you, my young lady, before we will have
another full moon.
Indeed and you won't, then, nor in ten full moons, either.
DONAL (as he walks up and down the kitchen)
Woman! woman! woman! You are all alike! Every damn one of you, from
the Queen to the cockle picker.
You have no right to marry me to any one against my will.
And is it the way I'd be leavin' you marry some good-for-nothing
idle jackeen, who couldn't buy a ha'porth of bird seed for a linnet or
a finch, let alone to keep a wife? That's what a contrary, headstrong,
uncontrollable whipster like you would do, if you had your own way.
But, be God, you will have little of your own way while I am here and
If stubbornness was a virtue, you'd be a saint, father, and they'd
have your picture in all the stained glass windows in every church in
the country, like St. Patrick or St. Columkille, himself.
(laughs at Kitty's answer)
Well, well, well, to be sure! You are your father's daughter,
She's the devil's daughter, I'm thinkin'.
[A loud knocking is heard at the door. Kitty opens it and Denis
Delahunty enters. He is dressed in a new frock coat and top hat.
MRS. CORCORAN AND DONAL
(as he enters)
Welcome, Sir Denis, welcome. (They both shake hands with him
) Our heartiest congratulations, and warmest respects.
DONAL (pointing to his own chair)
Take my own chair, the best in the house, that I wouldn't offer to
the Bishop or the Lord Lieutenant himself, if either of them called to
see me. [Sir Denis sits down, but forgets to remove his hat, which
is much too small, and tilted to one side. When Kitty sees the strange
figure he cuts, she laughs outright, at which her father gets very
DONAL (to Kitty)
What are you laughin' at? You brazen creature!
Sir Denis has on some one else's tall hat.
(looks very bored, removes the hat and says
rather sadly) You are mistaken, my child. Badly mistaken! 'Tis my
own hat. 'Twas the only one in the town that I could get that came near
fittin' me, and herself, I mean Lady Delahunty, wouldn't leave me out
I hope that you feel more comfortable than you look, Sir Denis.
To tell the truth, Kitty, I don't know whether 'tis on my head or
my heels I'm standin'. The devil a one of me was ever aware that His
Majesty the King knew or thought so much about me. If I was only made a
mere knight inself, it wouldn't be so bad; but think of bein' made a
whole baronet all of a sudden like that, and not knowin' a bit about it
You are the lucky man, Sir Denis, but don't know it.
I suppose I am, Donal. At one stroke of his sword, so to speak, the
King of, well, we might say of half the whole world, put an
unbridgeable gulf between herself, I mean Lady Delahunty, and myself,
and the common people forever and forever!
May the Lord forgive him.
I suppose you must present yourself at Court and have tea with the
Sure, of course, he must be presented at Court, and the Queen with
a crown of glitterin' jewels on her head will bow to him, the same as
if he was the Rajah of Ballyslattery, himself, and he with his ten
thousand wives and numerous attendants. And for all we know, maybe 'tis
the way he'll be invitin' the whole Royal Family to spend the summer
with himself and Lady Delahunty at Innismore.
'Tis the great responsibility that has been thrust upon herself, I
mean Lady Delahunty, and myself surely. But we have made no plans, so
far, for the entertainment of Royalty, and their conspicuous
Aides-de-camp, you mean, I suppose, Sir Denis.
How dare you correct Sir Denis?
However, I suppose in time we will get accustomed to our new
surroundin's and environment. The Prince of Wales, they say, is hard to
please, but I have no doubt that he will be glad to meet Lady Delahunty
I have no doubt whatever but he will be delighted to meet Lady
Delahunty and yourself. But, of course, every man's trouble appears
greater to himself, than to his neighbours. And as we all think more
about ourselves than any one else, and as you have now partially
recovered from the unexpected stroke of royal generosity, we might as
well get down to business and fix up that match with Kitty and your son
With reference to the royal favour, Donal, I might as well be
candid and say, that it wasn't altogether unexpected, because I knew
somethin' was going to happen. I felt it in my bones.
Nonsense, Sir Denis; it must have been the rheumatics you felt.
That's all well and good, but what about the match?
Spare yourself the trouble of trying to make a match for me.
If you don't hold your tongue, I'll be put to the bother of lockin'
you up in your own room, and feedin' you on promises until your spirit
is broken. That's the only way to treat a contrary, impudent creature
Let there be no crossness on my account, Donal.
Well, I have carefully considered what we were discussin' last
week, and I have decided to give three hundred pounds, twenty acres of
rich loamy soil, without a rock, a furze bush, or a cobble stone in it,
five milch cows, six sheep, three clockin' hens and a clutch of
ducklin's. Provided, of course, that you will give the same. That much
should be enough to give my daughter and your son a start in life. And
I may tell you that's much more than herself and myself started out
with. Well, Sir Denis, is it a bargain or is it not?
No two people could get a better start, Donal. But it isn't in my
power to come to any settlement until herself, I mean Lady Delahunty,
arrives. She is up at the dressmaker's, and should be here in a minute
or two. [Knock at the door. Kitty opens and Lady Delahunty enters.
She is dressed in a new sealskin coat, black dress, and white petticoat
and a badly fitting bonnet. Mrs. Corcoran is greatly impressed with her
appearance and offers her a chair.
MRS. CORCORAN AND DONAL
Congratulations, Lady Delahunty, congratulations. Be seated, be
[Mrs. Corcoran draws her chair near Lady Delahunty and while
Donal and Sir Denis are talking, in an undertone, Mrs. Corcoran speaks.
That's a beautiful new coat, Lady Delahunty.
'Tis worth more.
So Sir Denis says.
(stoops and feels the edge of the lace petticoat,
which is well exposed) That's the nicest piece of lace I have seen
for many a long day.
Two pounds ten, and a bargain at that. And three pounds five for my
bonnet makes sixty pounds, fifteen shillin's. Not to mention what I had
to pay for Dinny's, I mean Sir Denis's new suit and tall hat.
You could build a house or buy two fine horses for that much.
Indeed, and you could then.
Now ladies, we must get our business finished, and we can talk
after. I am offerin' three hundred pounds, twenty acres of land, five
cows, six sheep, three clockin' hens, and a clutch of ducklin's, and
want to know without any palaverin' or old gab, whether or not yourself
and Sir Denis are prepared to do likewise.
One would think that I was a cow or a sheep, myself, going to be
sold to the highest bidder. But, thank God, I'm neither one nor the
other. I have a mind and a will of my own, and I may as well tell you
all that I will only marry the man who I will choose for myself.
Every one of the women in ten generations of your family, on both
sides, said the same, but they all did what they were told in the end,
and you will do it, too. You will marry the man that I will choose for
you, or go to the convent or America. And believe me, 'tisn't much of
your own way you will get in either place.
I will marry the man I want to marry and no one else.
Maybe 'tis the way she is only teasin' you.
No, 'tis her mother's contrary spirit that's in her.
Not her mother's, but her father's, contrary spirit.
Enough now, I say. I'm boss here yet, and I'm not goin' to let my
daughter, whom I have rared, fed, clad and educated, and all that cost
me many a pound of my hard earned money, have a privilege that the
kings, queens, royal princesses and grand duchesses themselves haven't.
Wisha, don't be losin' your temper, Donal.
'Tis enough to make any one lose their temper. If that sort of
thing was permitted, every dacent father and mother in the country
would be supportin' some useless son-in-law, and his children, maybe.
The man who marries my daughter must be able to support her as I have
Erra, hold your tongue. I never ate a loaf of idle bread in my
life, and always supported myself, and earned enough to support you as
I'll have no more of this tyranny in my own house, I say.
Well, well, for goodness sake! What is all this nonsense about? I
have already told you that I will marry my own man and no one else.
Now, Donal, when we come to consider the matter, perhaps, after all
is said and done, maybe Kitty is right. You know, of course, that we
all like to have our own way.
Do we, indeed? Maybe 'tis the way you are tryin' to back out of
He isn't tryin' to back out of anythin', Donal. But as we were
sayin' to-day when we heard that His Majesty, the King of Great Britain
and Ireland, Australia, Canada, and India, as well.—(Looks at Sir
Denis who is trying to light a clay pipe) Ahem! ahem! Sir Denis,
Didn't I tell you never to leave me see you with a clay pipe in
your gob again? Where are the cigars I bought for you this morning?
(searches in his pocket and pulls out a cigar)
Wisha the devil a taste can I get from one of them. I might as well
be tryin' to smoke a piece of furze bush.
Taste or no taste, put that pipe back in your pocket. What would
the King and his daughters think if they saw you suckin' an old dudeen
'Tis little bother any of us are to the King or his daughters,
either, I'm thinking.
I'll put a padlock on that mouth of yours, if you don't hold your
Well, as I was sayin', when His Majesty so graciously honoured Sir
Dinny and myself, we held a long and lengthy consultation and came to
the conclusion after a good deal of consideration, that it might be as
well not to hurry Finbarr's marriage. We were thinkin' of sendin' him
across to England to finish his education: so that he may be able to
take his place with the foreign aristocracy.
Of course, we all know that there is no better hurler in the whole
country, and no finer man ever cracked a whip, and no better man ever
stood behind a plough, or turned cows out of a meadow, but the devil a
bit at all he knows about the higher accomplishments of the nobility.
Such as playin' cricket and polo, and drinkin' afternoon tea with a
napkin on his knee, like one of the gentry themselves. And between
ourselves, he cares no more about cigarettes than his father does about
Notwithstanding all that, 'tis my belief that after six months in
England, he would be fit company for the best people in the land.
What the blazes does he want learnin' to play polo for, when he
must make his livin' as a farmer?
Listen now, Donal, and be reasonable. When—
Is it the way you want to break off the match? The truth now, and
Of course, we don't want the match to be broken off. But now that
Finbarr is heir to a title—well, we all know that Kitty is a very nice
and good girl; but as Sir Denis says: “'Tis a pity that we should force
people to marry against their will, and—”
The long and short of it is that my daughter isn't good enough for
your damn, flat-footed clodhopper of a son. Though 'twas Dinny himself
that forced the match on me.
Sir Denis, if you please.
Donal, Donal, be reasonable and agreeable, man. You should know
that people are never the same after royal favours have been conferred
on them. And though I am perfectly satisfied with myself and my social
standin', such as it is, yet, as you know, we must look to the future
of our children.
Well, of all the old mollycoddlin' bladderskites that ever I
listened to, you beat them all.
Restrain yourself, Donal, and leave me finish. Well, I was about to
say, when you interrupted, that when Finbarr has learnt how to behave
like a real gentleman, and can hold a cup of afternoon tea on his knee
without spillin' it all over himself, then he may aspire to higher
things, and want a wife who can play the violin as well as the piano,
and speak all the languages in the world also.
Wisha bad luck and misfortune to your blasted impudence, to cast a
reflection on my daughter, and she that can play twenty-one tunes on
the piano, all by herself and from the music too. And she can play the
typewriter as well, and that's more than any one belongin' to you can
do. 'Tis well you know there's no more music in the Delahunty family
than there would be in an old cow or a mangy jackass that you'd find
grazin' by the roadside.
Tell him all I know about Irish, French, and German too, father.
The next thing I will tell him is to take himself and his bloody
tall hat out of my house and never show his face here again.
I'm surprised at you to speak like that to Sir Denis.
Sir Denis be damned, ma'am.
(as he rises to go and requests Lady Delahunty
to do likewise) Lady Delahunty, if you please.
[A loud knocking is heard at the door. Kitty opens and
Constable Dunlea enters. As he stands by the door, he takes a letter
from his pocket.
(to Sir Denis)
This is a message for you, sir, from the editor of the Examiner. The postman couldn't find you at home and asked me to deliver it, as
he knew I was coming here to-night.
[Sir Denis excitedly opens the letter and Lady Delahunty looks
on with apparent satisfaction, as she thinks it is a personal letter of
congratulation for Sir Denis. Sir Denis borrows Mrs. Corcoran's
spectacles and reads the letter hurriedly and looks very crestfallen.
(with a look of surprise)
What's the matter, Sir Denis?
What isn't the matter would be a better question. 'Twas a mistake,
Anastatia, a sad and sorry mistake!
What's a mistake?
Ourselves! I mean we weren't knighted at all. The editor of the
Examiner sends his personal regrets and apology for printin' an
unofficial telegram that was sent by some malicious person about myself
being created a baronet.
(grabs the letter and spectacles. Adjusts
the spectacles on her nose and reads. Swoons and falls into Sir
Denis's arms) The saints protect us all! 'Tis the truth, surely!
(gets a glass of water and gives it to
Lady Delahunty) Here, now, take this, and you will be soon all
(as she recovers, turns to Kitty)
I suppose 'twas at your instigation that all this happened. You
impudent, prevaricatin', philanderin' galavanter. Now we will be the
laughin' stock of the whole country. If Sir Denis—
Plain Denis, if you please, ma'am.
(to her husband)
If you had only the good sense of refusin' the title itself, but—
We'll never be able to live down the shame and disgrace of it, Lady
Plain Statia Delahunty, if you please.
If you were worth the weight of yourself in gold and could sing
like a lark, I wouldn't give Finbarr to you now.
I never asked for him, ma'am. I told you all that I would marry
only my own man, and here he is. (Calls Constable Dunlea to her side
and takes his arm) We are to be married next month, and then what
need I care about titles or the aristocracy when I will have himself to
support and protect me while he lives, and his pension if he should
die, and the law of the land at my back all the time.
* * * * *
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
(nicknamed NAPOLEON) A carpenter
NEDSERS BROPHY (nicknamed BOULANGER) A mason
DANNUX TOUHY (nicknamed THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON) A mason
MRS. FENNESSEY A lodging-house keeper
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
Scene: Bedroom in a country lodging house. There is one narrow
bed and two chairs in the room, and a picture of Robert Emmet hangs on
the wall. Patcha Cremin is lying in bed with his head covered. A loud
knocking is heard at the door.
PATCHA (startled, uncovers his head and looks about him.
The knocking continues) Who's there? (Thinking for a moment that
he is at home and that his wife is calling) Oh, is that you, Ellie?
It is not Ellie, then.
PATCHA (not yet properly awake)
And who is it?
And who the blazes are you?
Mrs. Fennessey, your landlady.
Oh, yes! Of course, Mrs. Fennessey, excuse me, ma'am. I thought I
was at home and that my wife was callin' me to get up to go to work.
Are you in bed yet?
I am, ma'am.
When are you going to get up?
I want to say a few words to you.
I'm not feelin' too well, at all, to-day, and don't know when I'll
be able to get up, ma'am.
Don't you, indeed?
No, I don't, ma'am.
Well then, if you're in bed and covered up, may I come in?
PATCHA (draws the clothes about him)
You can, ma'am.
(enters, stands in front of the bed and
looks at Patcha) And might I ask what's the matter with you?
Oh, I don't exactly know, at all. I have a queer shaky feelin'
runnin' down the spine and all over me. It must be the 'fluenza or
maybe appendicitis, I'm thinkin'.
Well, if that's the case, you'll get up this very instant and clear
out of my house, for I don't want a sick man on my hands. And you that
didn't pay me a farthin' of rent for this last six weeks.
Didn't I promise to pay you a week over and above when I'd get a
job? And this is the gratitute you're showin' me now for my kindness.
What a lot of good your promises would do for any one. I want my
rent, and you can keep your promises.
Is it the way you'd be after turnin' a sick man from your door a
cold freezin' day like this? And the snow thirty inches thick on the
Galtee Mountains, and the air itself nearly frozen hard.
'Tis you're the nice sick man, indeed, with muscles on you like a
statue or a prize fighter, and an appetite like an elephant. God knows
then, you should be ashamed of yourself for nearly eating me out of
house and home, and I a poor widow dependin' on the likes of you for a
livin.' 'Tis I that wouldn't like to be the mother of a man such as
yourself, God forgive you!
I'm surprised at a dacent woman like you, Mrs. Fennessey, to stand
there abusin' me for my misfortune instead of bringin' me up a good
warm breakfast to nourish my wastin' frame, and encourage the good
spirits to come back to my heart.
I'm sick and tired of listenin' to you and your excuses, but I'm
not goin' to listen to them any longer. So pack up and get out, or if
you don't I'll get my brother Mike to fling you out, and believe me he
won't take long to do it, either.
You're losin' all your dacency, Mrs. Fennessey.
Thank God for it, if I am then! But I'm gettin' back my good sense,
and I won't talk or argue any more with you.
You should feel ashamed of yourself, Mrs. Fennessey.
Indeed then, I should, for puttin' up with the likes of you. You've
got to be out of this house before twelve o'clock to-morrow and
remember I mean what I say.
[She walks out and slams the door. Patcha sits up in bed,
rearranges the bedclothes, then places his hand under his chin, and
wrinkles his brow. Remains that way until he is disturbed by a knock at
(opens, and holds the door ajar)
There's a gentleman wants to see you.
Who is he? What is he like, and where does he come from?
How do I know where he comes from? He wanted to know if Napoleon
lived here and I told him there was no one livin' here at present but
one Patcha Cremin. Sure, that's who I mean, says he. Are you Napoleon?
Yes, I'm Napoleon.
Glory be to the Lord! What a purty name they got for you!
Did he say who he was?
He said he was an old friend of yours.
I wonder can it be the Duke of Wellington? Dannux Touhy, I mean.
Touhy! Touhy! That's the name. Will I send him up?
Do if you please, ma'am.
[Mrs. Fennessey leaves the room, and in a short time Dannux
DANNUX (as he shakes hands with Patcha)
Well, well! 'Tis real glad that I am to see you. Sure I didn't
expect to find my old friend Napoleon in the town of Ballinflask this
blessed day. And I've heard that Boulanger is here also. Is that so?
It is so, then. And he'll be as surprised as myself to find the
Duke of Wellington here before him when he arrives.
What makes you be in bed at this hour of the day? Is it the way
that you're sick?
Not in the body, thank God, but in the mind and heart.
And why don't you get up and dress yourself, and go for a good long
Sit down and I'll tell you. (Dannux sits on a chair) Last
night as I was goin' to sleep, a knock came to the door, and when I
said: “Who's there?” a voice answered back and said: “Boulanger.” “Come
in,” says I. And lo and behold, who should walk in the door but Nedsers
Brophy, himself. And of course, he had the usual poor mouth. He
couldn't get a job in the town because he is such a poor mechanic no
one would be bothered with him.
I'm not surprised at it. Sure he was never more than a botch at his
Well, he said, he hadn't a penny in his pocket, or the price of a
night's lodgin'; so I invited him to sleep with me in this bit of a
bed. And of course, he accepted. The same man never refused anythin' he
could get for nothin' in his life.
I know him of old, the good-for-nothin' humbug.
The bed as you can see isn't very large, so when he turned in the
middle of the night, I fell out on the floor, and when I turned he fell
out. And there we were, fallin' in and fallin' out like two drunken
sailors all night long. And when mornin' came, every bone in my body
was as sore as a carbuncle.
And sure 'tis myself that didn't close an eye or stretch my limbs
upon a bed at all last night, or eat a bit for two long days, but kept
walkin' the roads until I struck this town at daybreak.
God help us all!
And where's Boulanger now, might I ask?
He's gone out on a little message for me. He should be here any
I suppose there's no use askin' you for that one pound two and
sixpence that you borrowed from my brother, Lord Pebble, some time ago.
I'm after gettin' a job from the parish priest to set a range in his
kitchen, but I haven't either a trowel or a hammer, and unless I can
raise the price of them, I'll lose the contract.
And when will you get paid?
The instant the job is finished.
How much will the tools cost?
Three shillin's, at least.
I don't know if I could spare that amount, but I might be able to
give you a shillin' when Boulanger comes back.
Was it to the pawnshop you sent him?
'Twas indeed, then. And with the only suit of clothes I had too. We
were both dead broke, and my landlady stopped the grub yesterday
mornin', And I haven't broken my fast since. So here I am now without a
bit in the world but the shirt on my back.
The birds of the air or the fish in the sea couldn't be worse off,
themselves. Why didn't you make Boulanger stay in bed and pawn his
clothes instead of your own, you fool?
That would be the devil's own strange way to entertain your guest,
That's the queerest story I ever heard.
Sure we must get a bit to eat somehow. 'Tis famished I am with the
hunger, as it is.
[Brophy staggers into the room slightly intoxicated.
(putting out his hand to Dannux)
Well, well, well! How's my old pal Wellington? Who'd ever think of
finding you here! (As they shake hands) There are no friends
like the old ones. The world is a small place after all. Twas in Cork
we met the last time and in Fermoy before that.
'Pon my word but I believe you're right.
PATCHA (excitedly, to Nedsers)
Where's the food I sent you for?
(staggers to the side of the bed and sits down)
Wait and I'll tell you what happened to me. All I got on your old
suit of clothes was five shillin's, and if you don't believe me look at
the ticket. (Hands ticket) Well, I went into a pub to get a drop
of grog, and asked for a half shot of the best, put the five bob on the
counter, got my drink, put the change in my pocket, and lo and behold,
when I went to look for it again, I couldn't find a trace of it high or
low. Only for that I'd have brought you somethin' to eat. There's no
use cryin' over spilt milk, is there, Dannux? Wellington, I should have
said. Well, how are you, anyway? 'Tis a long time since we worked
together. Isn't it?
PATCHA (catching him by the back of the neck)
Glory be to the Lord! Is it the way you are takin' leave of your
senses? There's my only suit of clothes in pawn, and the money you
raised on them gone, and you here with your belly full of dirty drink,
and I with my belly empty and my guts rattlin' in want of food. 'Tis
you that should feel ashamed of yourself to have me in such a condition
and all on your account too.
What should I feel ashamed about? Didn't I do my best? Blame the
bla'gard who stole the money out of my pocket. What old talk you have.
Didn't I disgrace myself by goin' into a pawnshop for you?
What am I to do at all!
'Tis a bad way to be in, surely. But I think I can see a way out of
Good old Wellington! Good old Wellington! That's what your namesake
said before he put the comether on Napoleon. What say, Patcha?
Don't be botherin' me. I'm more than disgusted with you.
Now, there must be no quarrelin'. We are all friends and we must
stand by, and help each other, because there is only the loan of
ourselves in the world. I have a job to go to, but I have no tools to
work with. And I haven't a bit on my person that would be taken in the
pawn, so I propose that Boulanger will give me his boots and that I
will pawn them, and buy the tools I want. Then I will go to work, and
when the job, which will only take me a few hours, is finished, I'll
share the one pound one that his reverence said he'd give me. And as he
said himself, 'twas little enough, but as times were bad he couldn't
afford any more.
'Twas the Lord Himself that sent you in the door to us!
Nothin' could be fairer. But look at my old boots, you wouldn't get
a lump of candy from a rag man for them.
But why not give him your coat and vest? You'd easily get eight or
nine shillin's on them and that much would buy the tools and get us all
a bite to eat as well.
(taking off his coat and vest)
Enough said! Enough said!
DANNUX (as he wraps them up in an old newspaper)
I wouldn't be surprised if I'd get ten shillin's on them. And sure
they can be released again as soon as I get paid for the job.
That's right, that's the way I like to hear a man talkin'.
DANNUX (as he takes the laces from Patcha's boots lying
near the bed, and ties up the parcel) What else are we here for,
but to be a help and a comfort to each other? Sure 'tis by each other
we live. (Places the parcel under his arm, puts on his hat and walks
towards the door. Looks from one to the other) Good-by,
Napoleon—Good-by, Boulanger. May God bless you both.
What's that I hear? Aren't you comin' back with the money and the
bit to eat for us?
Of course I am. I only mean good-by for the time I'll be away.
[Exit Dannux. After he has gone Nedsers looks soberly at Patcha.
Only for the time he'll be away!
What's the matter with you, at all?
I think I did a foolish thing.
What's that you're sayin', I say?
I did a foolish thing! I know I did. But that's just like me. I
brought my dacent impulses from my mother. God forgive her!
Is it the way you are afraid he won't return?
I'm sure of it. I know he'll never return. He's the biggest bloody
liar in the whole country and the biggest rogue too.
PATCHA (as he jumps out of bed with the blanket around him)
The saints and angels protect us all! Sure I forgot that the parish
priest is away in England on his vacation. And we are to be flung out
on the roadside to-morrow, and in our shirts too!