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in 1226, it became a flourishing English colony, and the citizens must have guarded themselves from any intercourse with the native Irish; at least, an old by-law of 1518 enacts that ‘neither O’ nor Mac shalle strutte ne swaggere thro’ the streetes of Galway.’
We did not go to Galway straight, because we never do anything straight. We seldom get any reliable information, and never any inspiring suggestions, from the natives themselves. They are all patriotically sure that Ireland is the finest counthry in the world, God bless her! but in the matter of seeing that finest counthry in the easiest or best fashion they are all very vague. Indirectly, our own lack of geography, coupled with the ignorance of the people themselves, has been of the greatest service in enli cheap nike air max vening our journeys. Francesca says that, in looking back, she finds that our errors of judgment have always resulted in our most charming and unforgettable experiences; but let no one who is travelling with a well-balanced and logical-minded man attempt to follow in our footsteps.
Being as free as air on this occasion (if I except the dread of Benella’s scorn, which descends upon us now and then, and moves us to nike air max repentance, sometimes even to better behaviour), we passed Porridgetown and Cloomore, and ferried across to the opposite side of Lough Corrib. Salemina, of course, had fixed upon Cong as our objective point, because of its caverns and archaeological remains, which Dr. La Touche tells her not on any account to miss. Francesca and I said nothing, but we had a very definite idea of avoiding Cong, and going nearer Tuam, to climb Knockma, the hill of the fairies, and explore their ancient haunts and archaeological remains, which are more in our line than the caverns of Cong.
Speaking of Dr. La Touche reminds me that we have not the smallest notion as to how our middle-aged romance is progressing. Absence may, at this juncture, be just as helpful a force in its development as daily intercourse would be; for when one is past thirt nike air max 90 y, I fancy there is a deal of ‘thinking-it-over’ to do. Precious little there is when we are younger; heart does it all then, and never asks head’s advice! But in too much delay there lies no plenty, and there’s the danger. Actually, Francesca and I could be no more anxious to settle Salemina in life if she were lame, halt, blind, and homeless, instead of being attractive, charming, absurdly young for her age, and not without means. The difficulty is that she is one of those ‘continent, persisting, immovable persons’ whom Emerson describes as marked out for the blessing of the world. That quality always makes a man anxious. He fears that he may only get his rightful share of blessing, and he craves the whole output, so to speak.
We naturally mention Dr. La Touche very often, since he is always writing to Salemina or to me, nike air max 95 offering counsel and suggestion. Madame La Touche, the venerable aunt, has written also, asking us to visit them in Meath; but this invitation we have declined, principally because the Colquhouns will be with them, and they would surely be burdened by the addition of three ladies and a maid to their family; partly because we shall be freer in our own house, which will be as near the La Touche mansion as possible, you may be sure, if Francesca and I have anything to do with choosing it.
The La Touche name, then, is often on our lips, but Salemina offers no intimation that it is indelibly imprinted on her heart of hearts. It is a good name to be written anywhere, and we fancied there was the slightest possible hint of pride and possession in Salemina’s voice when she read to us to-night, from her third volume of Lecky’s History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, a paragr nike air max 1 aph concerning one David La Touche, from whom Dr. Gerald is descended:–
‘In the last of the Irish Parliaments no less than five members of the name sat together in the House of Commons, and his family may claim what is in truth the highest honour of which an Irish family can boast,–that during many successive governments, and in a period of most lavish corruption, it possessed great parliamentary influence, and yet passed through political life untitled and unstained.’
There is just the faintest gleam of hope, by the way, that Himself may join us at the very end of June, and he is sure to be helpful on this sentimental journey; he aided Ronald and Francesca more than once in their tempestuous love-affair, and if his wits are not dulled by marriage, as so often happens, he will be invaluable. It will not be long then, probably, before I assume my natural, my secondary po sition in the landscape of events. The junior partners are now, so to speak, on their legs, although it is idle to suppose that such brittle appendages will support them for any length of time. As soon as we return in the autumn I should like to advertise (if Himself will permit me) for a perfectly sound and kind junior partner,–one who has been well broken to harness, and who will neither shy nor balk, no matter what the provocation; the next step being to urge Himself to relinquish altogether the bondage of business care. There is no need of his continuing in it, since other people’s business will always give him ample scope for his energies. He has, since his return to America, dispensed justice and mercy, chiefly mercy, to one embezzler, one honest fellow tempted beyond his strength, one widow, one unfortunate friend of his youth, and two orphans, and it was in no sense an extraordinary season.
To return to notes cheap nike air max of travel, our method of progression, since we deserted the high-road and the public car, has been strangely varied. I think there is no manner of steed or vehicle which has not been used by us, at one time or another, even to the arch donkey and the low-backed car with its truss of hay, like that of the immortal Peggy. I thought at first that ‘arch’ was an unusual adjective to apply to a donkey, but I find after all that it is abundantly expressive. Benella, who disapproves entirely of this casual sort of travelling, far from ‘answerable roads’ and in ‘backwards places’ (Irish for ‘behind the times’), is yet wonderfully successful in discovering equipages of some sort in unlikely spots.
In towns of any size or pretensions, we find by the town cross or near the inn a motley collection of things on wheels, with drivers sometimes as sober as Father Mathew, sometimes not. Yesterday we had a mare which the driver confessed he bought without ‘overcircumspectin’ it,’ and although you couldn’t, as he said, ‘extinguish her nike air max classic at first sight from a grand throtter, she hadn’t rightly the speed you could wish.’
“It’s not so powerful young she is, melady!” he confessed. “You’d be afther lookin’ at a chicken a long time and niver be reminded of her; but sure ye might thry her, for belike ye wouldn’t fancy a horse that would be leppin’ stone walls wid ye, like Dan Ryan’s there! My little baste’ll get ye to Rossan be nike air max 90 sale fore night, and she won’t hurt man nor mortial in doin’ it.”
“Begorra, you’re right, nor herself nayther,” said Dan Ryan; “and if it’s leppin’ ye mane, sure she couldn’t lep a sod o’ turf, that mare couldn’t! God pardon ye, melady, for thrustin’ yerself to that paiceable, brindly-coloured ould hin, whin ye might be gettin’ a dacint, high-steppin’ horse for a shillin’ or two more; an’ belike I might contint meself to take less, for I wouldn’t be extortin’ ye like Barney O’Mara there!”
Our chosen driver replied to this by saying that he wouldn’t be caught dead at a pig fair with Dan Ryan’s horse, but in the midst of all the distracting discussions and arguments that followed we held to our original bargain; for we did not like the look of Dan Ryan’s high-stepper, who was a ‘thrifle mounTAIny,’ as they say in these parts, and cheap nike air max had a wild eye to boot. We started, and in a half-hour we could still see the chapel spire of the little village we had just left. It was for once a beautiful day, but we felt that we must reach a railway station some time or other, in order to find a place to sleep.
“Can’t you make her go a bit faster? Do you want to keep us on the road all night?” inquired Francesca.
“I do not, your ladyship’s honour, ma’am.”
“Is she tired, or doesn’t she ever go any better?” urged Salemina.
“She does; it’s God’s truth I’m tellin’ ye, melady, she’s that flippant sometimes that I scarcely can hould her, and the car jumps undher her like a spring bed.”
“Then what on earth IS the matter with her?” I inquired, with some fire in my eye.
“Sure I believe she’s takin’ time to think of the iligan nike air max t load she’s carryin’, melady, and small blame to her!” said Mr. Barney O’Mara; and after that we let him drive as best he could, although it did take us four hours to do nine Irish miles. He came, did Mr. Barney, from County Armagh, and he beguiled the way with interesting tales from that section of Ireland, one of which, ‘the Old Crow and the Young Crow,’ particularly took our fancies.
“An old crow was teaching a young crow one day, and says to him, ‘Now, my son,’ says he, ‘listen to the advice I’m going to give you,’ says he. ‘If you see a person coming near you and stooping, mind yourself, and be on your keeping; he’s stooping for a stone to throw at you,’ says he.
“‘But tell me,’ says the young crow, ‘what should I nike air max sale do if he had a stone already down in his pocket?’ says he.
“‘Musha, go ‘long out of that,’ says the old crow, ‘you’ve learned enough; the divil another learning I’m able to give you.'”
He was a perfect honey-pot of useless and unreliable information, was Barney O’Mara, and most learned in fairy lore; but for that matter, all the people walking along the road, the drivers, the boatman and guides, the men and women in the cottages where we stop in a shower or to inquire the way, relate stories of phookas, leprehauns, and sprites, banshees and all the various classes of elves and fays, as simply and seriously as they woul nike air max sale d speak of any other occurrences. Barney told us gravely of the old woman who was in the habit of laying pishogues (charms) to break the legs of his neighbour’s cattle, because of an ancient grudge she bore him; and also how necessary it is to put a bit of burning turf under the churn to prevent the phookas, or mischievous fairies, from abstracting the butter or spoiling the churning in any way. Irish fays seem to be much interested in dairy matters, for, besides the sprites who delight in distracting the cream and keeping back the butter (I wonder if a lazy up-and-down movement of the dasher invites them at all, at all?), it is well known that many a milkmaid on a May morning has seen fairy cows browsing along the banks of lakes,–cows that vanish into thin mist at the sound of human footfall.
When we were quite cross at missing the noon train from Rossan, quite tired of the car’s jolting, somewhat vexed even at the mare’s continued enjoyment of her ‘iligant load,’ Barney appeased us all by singing, in a delightful, mellow voice, a fairy song called the ‘Leprehaun,’ [*] This personage, you must know, if you haven’t a large acquaintance among Irish fairies, is a tricksy fellow in a green coat and scarlet cap, with brave shoe buckles on his wee brogues. You will catch him sometimes, if the ‘glamour’ is on you, under a burdock leaf or a thorn bush, and he is always making or mending a shoe. He commonly has a little purse about him, which, if you are quick enough, you can snatch; and a wonderful purse it is, for whatever you spend, there is always money to be found in it. Truth to tell, nobody has yet succeeded in being quicker than Master Leprehaun, though many have offered to fill his cruiskeen with ‘mountain dew,’ of which Irish fairies are passionately fond.

* By Patrick W. Joyce.
‘In a shady nook, one moonlight night,
A leprehaun I spied;
With scarlet cap and coat of green,
A cruiskeen by his side.
‘Twas tick, tack, tick, his hammer went,
Upon a weeny shoe;
And I laughed to think of his purse of gold;
But the fairy was laughing too!
With tip-toe step and beating heart,
Quite softly I drew nigh:
There was mischief in his merry face,
A twinkle in his eye.
He hammered, and sang with tiny voice,
And drank his mountain dew;
And I laughed to think he was caught at last;
But the fairy was laughing too!
As quick as thought I seized the elf.
“Your fairy purse!” I cried.
“The purse!” he said–“’tis in her hand–
That lady at your side.”
I turned to look: the elf was off.
Then what was I to do?
O, I laughed to think what a fool I’d been;
And the fairy was laughing too!’

I cannot communicate any idea of the rollicking gaiety and quaint charm Barney gave to the tune, nor the light-hearted, irresistible chuckle with which he rendered the last two lines, giving a snap of his whip as accent to the long ‘O’:–

‘O, I laughed to think what a fool I’d been;
And the fairy was laughing too!’

After he had sung it twice through, Benella took my guitar from its case for me, and we sang it after him, again and again; so it was in happy fashion that we at least approached Ballyrossan, where we bade Barney O’Mara a cordial farewell, paying him four shillings over his fare, which was cheap indeed for the song.
As we saw him vanish slowly up the road, ragged himself, the car and harness almost ready to drop to pieces, the mare, I am sure, in the last week of her existence, we were glad that he had his Celtic fancy to enliven his life a bit,–that fancy which seems a providential reaction against the cruel despotisms of fact.
Chapter 25 The Wee Folk
‘There sings a bonnie linnet
Up the heather glen;
The voice has magic in it
Too sweet for mortal men!
Sing O, the blooming heather,
O, the heather glen!
Where fairest fairies gather
To lure in mortal men.’
Carrig-a-fooka Inn, near Knockma,
On the shores of Lough Corrib.

A modern Irish poet [*] says something that Francesca has quoted to Ronald in her letter to-day, and we await from Scotland his confirmation or denial. He accuses the Scots of having discovered the fairies to be pagan and wicked, and of denouncing them from the pulpits, whereas Irish priests discuss with them the state of their souls; or at least they did, until it was decided that they had none, but would dry up like so much bright vapour at the last day. It was more in sadness than in anger that the priests announced this fiat; for Irish sprites and goblins do gay, graceful, and humorous things, for the most part, tricksy sins, not deserving annihilation, whereas Scottish fays are sometimes malevolent,–or so says the Irish poet.
* W. B. Yeats.
This is very sad, no doubt, but it does not begin to be as sad as having no fairies at all. There must have been a few in England in Shakespeare’s time, or he could never have written The Tempest or the Midsummer Night’s Dream; but where have they vanished?
As for us in America, I fear that we never have had any ‘wee folk.’ The Indians had their woodland spirits, spirits of rocks, trees, mountains, star and moon maidens; the negroes had their enchanted animals and conjure men; but as for real wee folk, either they were not indigenous to the soil or else we unconsciously drove them away. Yet we had facilities to offer! The columbines, harebells, and fringed gentians would have been just as cosy and secluded places to live in as the Irish foxgloves, which are simply running over with fairies. Perhaps they wouldn’t have liked our cold winters; still it must have been something more than climate, and I am afraid I know the reason well–we are too sensible; and if there is anything a fairy detests, it is common-sense. We are too rich, also; and a second thing that a fairy abhors is the chink of dollars. Perhaps, when I am again enjoying the advantages brought about by sound money, commercial prosperity, and a magnificent system of public education, I shall feel differently about it; but for the moment I am just a bit embarrassed and crestfallen to belong to a nation absolutely shunned by the fairies. If they had only settled among us like other colonists, shaped us to their ends as far as they could, and, when they couldn’t, conformed themselves to ours, there might have been, by this time, fairy trusts stretching out benign arms all over the continent.
Of course it is an age of incredulity, but Salemina, Francesca, and I have not come to Ireland to scoff, and whatever we do we shall not go to the length of doubting the fairies; for, as Barney O’Mara says, ‘they stand to raison.’
Glen Ailna is a ‘gentle’ place near Carrig-a-fooka Inn–that is, one beloved by the sheehogues; and though you may be never so much interested, I may not tell you its exact whereabouts, since no one can ever find it unless he is himself under the glamour. Perhaps you might be a doubter, with no eyes for the ‘dim kingdom’; perhaps you might gaze for ever, and never be able to see a red-capped fiddler, fiddling under a blossoming sloe bush. You might even see him, and then indulge yourself in a fit of common-sense or doubt of your own eyes, in which case the wee dancers would never flock to the sound of the fiddle or gather on the fairy ring. This is the reason that I shall never take you to Knockma, to Glen Ailna, or especially to the hyacinth wood, which is a little plantation near the ruin of a fort. Just why the fairies are so fond of an old rath or lis I cannot imagine, for you would never suppose that antiquaries, archaeologists, and wee folk would care for the same places.
I have no intention of interviewing the grander personages among the Irish fairies, for they are known to be haughty, unapproachable, and severe, as befits the descendants of the great Nature Gods and the under-deities of flood and fell and angry sea. It is the lesser folk, the gay, gracious, little men that I wish to meet; those who pipe and dance on the fairy ring. The ‘ring’ is made, you know, by the tiny feet that have tripped for ages and ages, flying, dancing, circling, over the tender young grass. Rain cannot wash it away; you may walk over it; you may even plough up the soil, and replant it ever so many times; the next season the fairy ring shines in the grass just the same. It seems strange that I am blind to it, when an ignorant, dirty spalpeen who lives near the foot of Knockma has seen it and heard the fairy music again and again. He took me to the very place where, last Lammas Eve, he saw plainly–for there was a beautiful, white moon overhead–the arch king and queen of the fairies, who appear only on state occasions, together with a crowd of dancers, and more than a dozen pipers piping melodious music. Not only that, but (lucky little beggar!) he heard distinctly the fulparnee and the folpornee, the rap-lay-hoota and the roolya-boolya–noises indicative of the very jolliest and wildest and most uncommon form of fairy conviviality. Failing a glimpse of these midsummer revels, my next choice would be to see the Elf Horseman galloping round the shores of the Fairy Lough in the cool of the morn.

‘Loughareema, Loughareema,
Stars come out and stars are hidin’;
The wather whispers on the stones,
The flittherin’ moths are free.
Onest before the mornin’ light
The Horseman will come ridin’
Roun’ an’ roun’ the Fairy Lough,
An’ no one there to see.’

But there will be some one there, and that is the aforesaid Jamesy Flanigan! Sometimes I think he is fibbing, but a glance at his soft, dark, far-seeing eyes under their fringe of thick lashes convinces me to the contrary. His field of vision is different from mine, that is all, and he fears that if I accompany him to the shores of the Fairy Lough the Horseman will not ride for him; so I am even taunted with undue common-sense by a little Irish gossoon.
I tried to coax Benella to go with me to the hyacinth wood by moonlight. Fairies detest a crowd, and I ought to have gone alone; but, to tell the truth, I hardly dared, for they have a way of kidnapping attractive ladies and keeping them for years in the dim kingdom. I would not trust Himself at Glen Ailna for worlds, for gentlemen are not exempt from danger. Connla of the Golden Hair was lured away by a fairy maiden, and taken, in a ‘gleaming, straight-gliding, strong, crystal canoe,’ to her domain in the hills; and Oisin, you remember, was transported to the Land of the Ever Youthful by the beautiful Niam. If one could only be sure of coming back! but Oisin, for instance, was detained three hundred years, so one might not be allowed to return, and still worse, one might not wish to; three hundred years of youth would tempt–a woman! My opinion, after reading the Elf Errant, is that one of us has been there–Moira O’Neill. I should suspect her of being able to wear a fairy cap herself, were it not for the human heart-throb in her verses; but I am sure she has the glamour whenever she desires it, and hears the fairy pipes at will.
Benella is of different stuff; she not only distrusts fairies, but, like the Scotch Presbyterians, she fears that they are wicked. “Still, you say they haven’t got immortal souls to save, and I don’t suppose they’re responsible for their actions,” she allows; “but as for traipsing up to those heathenish, haunted woods when all Christian folks are in bed, I don’t believe in it, and neither would Mr. Beresford; but if you’re set on it, I shall go with you!”
“You wouldn’t be of the slightest use,” I answered severely; “indeed, you’d be worse than nobody. The fairies cannot endure doubters; it makes them fold their wings over their heads and shrink away into their flowercups. I should be mortified beyond words if a fairy should meet me in your company.”
Benella seemed hurt and a trifle resentful as she replied: “That about doubters is just what Mrs. Kimberly used to say.” (Mrs. Kimberly is the Salem priestess, the originator of the ‘science.’) “She couldn’t talk a mite if there was doubters in the hall; and it’s so with spiritualists and clairvoyants, too–they’re all of ’em scare-cats. I guess likely that those that’s so afraid of being doubted has some good reason for it!”
Well, I never went to the hyacinth wood by moonlight, since so many objections were raised, but I did go once at noonday, the very most unlikely hour of all the twenty-four, and yet–As I sat there beneath a gnarled thorn, weary and warm with my climb, I looked into the heart of a bluebell forest growing under a circle of gleaming silver birches, and suddenly I heard fairy music–at least it was not mortal–and many sounds were mingled in it: the sighing of birches, the carol of a lark, the leap and laugh of a silvery runnel tumbling down the hillside, the soft whir of butterflies’ wings, and a sweet little over or under tone, from the over or under world, that I took to be the opening of a million hyacinth buds in the sunshine. Then I heard the delicious sound of a fairy laugh, and, looking under a swaying branch of meadowsweet, I saw–yes, I really saw–You must know that first a wee green door swung open in the stem of the meadowsweet, and out of that land where you can buy joy for a penny came a fairy in the usual red and green. I had the Elf Errant in my lap, and I think that in itself made him feel more at home with me, as well as the fact, perhaps, that for the moment I wasn’t a bit sensible and had no money about me. I was all ready with an Irish salutation, for the purposes of further disarming his aversion. I intended to say, as prettily as possible, though, alas! I cannot manage the brogue, “And what way do I see you now?” or “Good-mornin’ to yer honour’s honour!” But I was struck dumb by my good fortune at seeing him at all. He looked at me once, and then, flinging up his arms, he gave a weeny, weeny yawn! This was disconcerting, for people almost never yawn in my company; and to make it worse, he kept on yawning, until, for very sympathy, and not at all in the way of revenge, I yawned too. Then the green door swung open again, and a gay rabble of wide-awake fairies came trooping out: and some of them kissed the hyacinth bells to open them, and some of them flew to the thorn-tree, until every little brancheen was white with flowers, where but a moment ago had been tightly-closed buds. The yawning fairy slept meanwhile under the swaying meadowsweet, and the butterflies fanned him with their soft wings; but, alas! it could not have been the hour for dancing on the fairy ring, nor the proper time for the fairy pipers, and long, long as I looked I saw and heard nothing more than what I have told you. Indeed, I presently lost even that, for a bee buzzed, a white petal dropped from the thorn-tree on my face, there was a scraping of tiny claws and the sound of two squirrels barking love to each other in the high branches, and in that moment the glamour that was upon me vanished in a twinkling.
“But I really did see the fairies!” I exclaimed triumphantly to Benella the doubter, when I returned Carrig-a-fooka Inn, much too late for luncheon.
“I want to know!” she exclaimed, in her New England vernacular. “I guess by the looks o’ your eyes they didn’t turn out to be very lively comp’ny!”
Chapter 26 Ireland’s Gold
‘I sat upon the rustic seat–
The seat an aged bay-tree crowns–
And saw outspreading from our feet
The golden glory of the Downs.
The furze-crowned heights, the glorious glen,
The white-walled chapel glistening near,
The house of God, the homes of men,
The fragrant hay, the ripening ear.’
Denis Florence M’Carthy.
The Old Hall, Devorgilla,
Vale of the Boyne.

We have now lived in each of Ireland’s four provinces, Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connaught, but the confines of these provinces, and their number, have changed several times since the beginning of history. In A.D. 130 the Milesian monarchy was restored in the person of Tuathal (Too’hal) the Legitimate. Over each of the Irish provinces was a ri or king, and there was also over all Ireland an Ard-ri or supreme monarch who lived at Tara up to the time of its abandonment in the sixth century. Before Tuathal’s day, the Ard-ri had for his land allowance only a small tract around Tara, but Tuathal cut off a portion from each of the four older provinces, at the Great Stone of Divisions in the centre of Ireland, making the fifth province of Royal Meath, which has since disappeared, but which was much larger than the present two counties of Meath and Westmeath. In this once famous, and now most lovely and fertile spot, with the good republican’s love of royalty and royal institutions, we have settled ourselves; in the midst of verdant plains watered by the Boyne and the Blackwater, here rippling over shallows, there meandering in slow deep reaches between reedy banks.
The Old Hall, from which I write, is somewhere in the vale of the Boyne, somewhere near Yellow Steeple, not so far from Treadagh, only a few miles from Ballybilly (I hope to be forgiven this irreverence to the glorious memory of his Majesty, William, Prince of Orange!), and within driving distance of Killkienan, Croagh-Patrick, Domteagh, and Tara Hill itself. If you know your Royal Meath, these geographical suggestions will give you some idea of our location; if not, take your map of Ireland, please (a thing nobody has near him), and find the town of Tuam, where you left us a little time ago. You will see a railway line from Tuam to Athenry, Athlone, and Mullingar. Anybody can visit Mullingar–it is for the million; but only the elect may go to Devorgilla. It is the captive of our bow and spear; or, to change the figure, it is a violet by a mossy stone, which we refuse to have plucked from its poetic solitude and worn in the bosom or in the buttonhole of the tourist.
At Mullingar, then, we slip on enchanted garments which conceal us from the casual eye, and disappear into what is, in midsummer, a bower of beauty. There you will find, when you find us, Devorgilla, lovely enough to be Tir-nan-og, that Land of the Ever Youthful well know to the Celts of long ago. Here we have rested our weary bodies and purified our travel-stained minds. Fresh from the poverty-ridden hillsides of Connaught, these rich grazing-lands, comfortable houses, magnificent demesnes and castles, are unspeakably grateful to the eye and healing to the spirit. We have not forgotten, shall never forget, our Connemara folk, nor yet Omadhaun Pat and dark Timsy of Lisdara in the north; but it is good, for a change, to breathe in this sense of general comfort, good cheer, and abundance.
Benella is radiant, for she is near enough to Trim to go there occasionally to seek for traces of her ancestress, Mary Boyce; and as for Salemina, this bit of country is a Mecca for antiquaries and scholars, and we are fairly surrounded by towers, tumuli, and cairns. “It’s mostly ruins they do be wantin’, these days,” said a wayside acquaintance. “I built a stone house for my donkey on the knockaun beyant my cabin just, and bedad, there’s a crowd round it every Saturday callin’ it the risidence of wan of the Danish kings! An’ they are diggin’ at Tara now, ma’am, looking for the Ark of the Covenant! They do be sayin’ the prophet Jeremiah come over from England and brought it wid him. Begorra, it’s a lucky man he was to get away wid it!”
Added to these advantages of position, we are within a few miles of Rosnaree, Dr. La Touche’s demesne, to which he comes home from Dublin to-morrow, bringing with him our dear Mr. and Mrs. Colquhoun of Ardnagreena. We have been here ourselves for ten days, and are flattered to think that we have used the time as unconventionally as we could well have done. We made a literary pilgrimage first, but that is another story, and I will only say that we had a day in Edgeworthstown and a drive through Goldsmith’s country, where we saw the Deserted Village, with its mill and brook, the ‘church that tops the neighbouring hill’; and even rested under

‘The hawthorn bush with seats beneath the shade
For talking age and whispering lovers made.’

There are many parts of Ireland where one could not find a habitable house to rent, but in this locality they are numerous enough to make it possible to choose. We had driven over perhaps twenty square miles of country, with the view of selecting the most delectable spot that could be found, without going too far from Rosnaree. The chief trouble was that we always desired every dwelling that we saw. I tell you this with a view of lessening the shock when I confess that, before we came to the Old Hall where we are now settled for a month, and which was Salemina’s choice, Francesca and I took two different houses, and lived in them for seven days, each in solitary splendour, like the Prince of Coolavin. It was not difficult to agree upon the district, we were of one mind there: the moment that we passed the town and drove along the flowery way that leads to Devorgilla, we knew that it was the road of destiny.
The whitethorn is very late this year, and we found ourselves in the full glory of it. It is beautiful in all its stages, from the time when it first opens its buds, to the season when ‘every spray is white with may, and blooms the eglantine.’ There is no hint of green leaf visible then, and every tree is ‘as white as snow of one night.’ This is the Gaelic comparison, and the first snow seems especially white and dazzling, I suppose, when one sees it in the morning where were green fields the night before. The sloe, which is the blackthorn, comes still earlier and has fewer leaves. That is the tree of the old English song:–

‘From the white-blossomed sloe
My dear Chloe requested
A sprig her fair breast to adorn.
“No, by Heav’ns!” I exclaimed, “may I perish,
If ever I plant in that bosom a thorn!”‘

And it is not only trees, but hedges and bushes and groves of hawthorn, for a white thorn bush is seldom if ever cut down here, lest a grieved and displeased fairy look up from the cloven trunk, and no Irishman could bear to meet the reproach of her eyes. Do not imagine, however, that we are all in white, like a bride: there is the pink hawthorn, and there are pink and white horse-chestnuts laden with flowers, yellow laburnums hanging over whitewashed farm-buildings, lilacs, and, most wonderful of all, the blaze of the yellow gorse. There will be a thorn hedge struggling with and conquering a grey stone wall; then a golden gorse bush struggling with and conquering the thorn; seeking the sun, it knows no restraints, and creeping through the barriers of green and white and grey, it fairly hurls its yellow splend cheap nike air max trainers ours in great blazing patches along the wayside. In dazzling glory, in richness of colour, there is nothing in nature that we can compare with this loveliest and commonest of all wayside weeds. The gleaming wealth of the Klondike would make a poor showing beside a single Irish hedgerow; one would think that Mother Earth had stored in her bosom all the sunniest gleams of bygone summers, and was now giving them back to the sun king from whom she borrowed them.
It was at twilight when we first swam this fragrant, golden sea–twilight, and the birds were singing in every bush; the thrushes and blackbirds in the blossoming cherry and chestnut-trees were so many and so tuneful that the chorus was sweet and strong beyond anything I ever heard. There had been a shower or two, of course; showers that looked like shimmering curtains of silver gauze, and whether they lifted or fell the birds went on singing.
“I did not believe such a thing possible but it is lovelier than Pettybaw,” said Francesca; and just here we came in sight of a pink cottage cuddling on the breast of a hill. Pink the cottage was, as if it had been hewed out of a coral branch or the heart of a salmon; pink-washed were the stone walls and posts; pink even were the chimneys; a green lattice over the front was the only leaf in the bouquet. Wallflowers grew against the pink stone walls, and there is no beautiful word in any beautiful language that can describe the effect of that modest, rose-hued dwelling blushing against a background of heather-brown hills covered solidly with golden gorse bushes in full bloom. Himself and I have always agreed to spend our anniversaries with Mrs. Bobby at Comfort Cottage, in England, or at Bide-a-Wee, the ‘wee, theekit hoosie’ in the loaning at Pettybaw, for our little love-story was begun in the one and carried on in the other; but this, this, I thought instantly, must somehow be crowded into the scheme of red-letter days. And now we suddenly discovered something at once interesting and disconcerting–an American flag floating from a tree in the background.
“The place is rented, then,” said Francesca, “to some enterprising American or some star-spangled Irishman who has succeeded in discovering Devorgilla before us. I well understand how the shade of Columbus must feel whenever Amerigo Vespucci’s name is mentioned!”
We sent the driver off to await our pleasure, and held a consultation by the wayside.
“I shall call at any rate,” I announced; “any excuse will serve which brings me nearer to that adorable dwelling. I intend to be standing in that pink doorway, with that green lattice over my head, when Himself arrives in Devorgilla. I intend to end my days within those rosy walls, and to begin the process at the earliest possible moment.”
Salemina disapproved, of course. Her method is always to stand well in the rear, trembling beforehand lest I should do something unconventional; then, later on, when things romantic begin to transpire, she says delightedly, “Wasn’t that clever of us?”
“An American flag,” I urged, “is a proclamation; indeed, it is, in a sense, an invitation; besides it is my duty to salute it in a foreign land!”
“Patriotism, how many sins are practised in thy name!” said Salemina satirically. “Can’t you salute your flag from the high-road?”
“Not properly, Sally dear, nor satisfactorily. So you and Francesca sit down, timidly and respectably, under the safe shadow of the hedge, while I call upon the blooming family in the darling, blooming house. I am an American artist, lured to their door alike by devotion to my country’s flag and love of the picturesque.” And so saying I ascended the path with some dignity and a false show of assurance.
The circumstances did not chance to be precisely what I had expected. There was a nice girl tidying the kitchen, and I found no difficulty in making friends with her. Her mother owned the cottage, and rented it every season to a Belfast lady, who was coming in a week to take possession, as usual. The American flag had been floating in honour of her mother’s brother, who had come over from Milwaukee to make them a little visit, and had just left that afternoon to sail from Liverpool. The rest of the family lived, during the three summer months, in a smaller house down the road; but she herself always stayed at the cottage, to ‘mind’ the Belfast lady’s children.
When I looked at the pink floor of the kitchen and the view from the windows, I would have given anything in the world to outbid, yes, even to obliterate the Belfast lady; but this, unfortunately, was not only illegal and immoral, but it was impossible. So, calling the mother in from the stables, I succeeded, after fifteen minutes’ persuasion, in getting permission to occupy the house for one week, beginning with the next morning, and returned in triumph to my weary constituents, who thought it an insane idea.
“Of course it is,” I responded cheerfully; “that is why it is going to be so altogether charming. Don’t be envious; I will find something mad for you to do, too. One of us is always submitting to the will of the majority; now let us be as individually silly as we like for a week, and then take a long farewell of freakishness and freedom. Let the third volume die in lurid splendour, since there is never to be a fourth.”
“There is still Wales,” suggested Francesca.
“Too small, Fanny dear, and we could never pronounce the names. Besides, what sort of adventures would be possible to three–I mean, of course, two–persons tied down by marital responsibilities and family cares? Is it the sunset or the reflection of the pink house that is shining on your pink face, Salemina?”
“I am extremely warm,” she replied haughtily.
“I don’t wonder; sitting on the damp grass under a hedge is so stimulating to the circulation!” observed ‘young Miss Fan.’
Chapter 27 The Three Chatelaines Of Devorgilla
‘Have you been at Devorgilla,
Have you seen, at Devorgilla,
Beauty’s train trip o’er the plain,–
The lovely maids of Devorgilla?’
Adapted from Edward Lysaght.

The next morning the Old Hall dropped like a ripe rowan berry into our very laps. The landlord of the Shamrock Inn directed us thither, and within the hour it belonged to us for the rest of the summer. Miss Peabody, inclined to be severe with me for my desertion, took up her residence at once. It had never been rented before; but Miss Llewellyn-Joyce, the owner, had suddenly determined to visit her sister in London, and was glad to find appreciative and careful tenants. She was taking her own maid with her, and thus only one servant remained, to be rented with the premises, as is frequently the Irish fashion. The Old Hall has not always been managed thus economically, it is easy to see, and Miss Llewellyn-Joyce speaks with the utmost candour of her poverty, as indeed the ruined Irish gentry always do. I well remember taking tea with a family in West Clare where in default of a spoon the old squire stirred his cup with the poker, a proceeding apparently so usual that he never thought of apologising for it as an oddity.
The Hall has a lodge, which is a sort of miniature Round Tower, at the entrance gate, and we see nothing for it but to import a brass-buttoned boy from the nearest metropolis, where we must also send for a second maid.
“That’ll do when you get him,” objected Benella, “though boys need a lot of overseeing; but as nobody can get in or come out o’ that gate without help, I shall have to go to the lodge every day now, and set down there with my sewin’ from four to six in the afternoon, or whenever the callin’ hours is. When I engaged with you, it wasn’t for any particular kind of work; it was to make myself useful. I’ve been errand-boy and courier, golf-caddie and footman, beau, cook, land agent, and mother to you all, and I guess I can be a lodge-keeper as well as not.”
Francesca had her choice of residing either with Salemina or with me, during our week of separation, and drove in my company to Rosaleen Cottage, to make up her mind. While she was standing at my gate, engaged in reflection, she espied a small cabin not far away, and walked toward it on a tour of investigation. It proved to have three tiny rooms–a bedroom, sitting-room, and kitchen. The rent was only two pounds a month, it is true, but it was in all respects the most unattractive, poverty-stricken, undesirable dwelling I ever saw. It was the small stove in the kitchen that kindled Francesca’s imagination, and she made up her mind instantly to become a householder on her own account. I tried to dissuade her; but she is as firm as the Rock of Cashel when once she has set her heart upon anything.
“I shall be almost your next-door neighbour, Penelope,” she coaxed, “and of course you will give me Benella. She will sleep in the sitting-room, and I will do the cooking. The landlady says there is no trouble about food. ‘What to ate?’ she inquired, leaning out sociably over the half-door. ‘Sure it’ll drive up to your very doore just.’ And here is the ‘wee grass,’ as she calls it, where ‘yous can take your tay’ under the Japanese umbrella left by the last tenant. Think how unusual it will be for us to live in three different houses for a week; and ‘there’s luck in odd numbers, says Rory O’More.’ We shall have the advantages of good society, too, when we are living apart, for I foresee entertainment after entertainment. We will give breakfasts, luncheons, teas, and dinners to one another; and meanwhile I shall have learned all the housewifely arts. Think, too, how much better you can paint with me out of your way!”
“Does no thought of your eccentricity blight your young spirit, dear?”
“Why should it when I have simply shaped my course by yours?”
“But I am married, my child.”
“And I’m ‘going to be married, aha, Mamma!’ as the song says; and what about Salemina, you haven’t scolded her?”
“She is living her very last days of single blessedness,” I rejoined; “she does not know it, but she is; and I want to give her all the freedom possible. Very well, dear innocent, live in your wee hut, then, if you can persuade Benella to stay with you; but I think there would best be no public visiting between you and those who live in Rosaleen Cottage and the Old Hall, as it might ruin their social position.”
Benella confessed that she had not the heart to refuse Francesca anything. “She’s too handsome,” she said, “and too winnin’. I s’pose she’ll cook up some dreadful messes, but I’m willin’ to eat ’em, to oblige her, and perhaps it’ll save her husband a few spells of dyspepsy at the start; though, as far as my experience goes, ministers’ll always eat anything that’s set before ’em, and look over their shoulders for more.”
We had a heavenly week of silliness, and by dint of concealing our real relations from the general public, I fancy we escaped harsh criticism. There is a very large percentage of lunacy anyway in Ireland, as well as great leniency of public opinion, and I fancy there is scarcely a country on the map in which one could be more foolish without being found out. Visit each other we did constantly, and candour obliges me to state that, though each of us secretly prided herself on the perfection of her cuisine, Miss Monroe gave the most successful afternoon tea of all, on the ‘wee grass,’ under the Japanese umbrella. How unexpectedly good were her scones, her tea-cakes, and her cress sandwiches, and how pretty and graceful and womanly she was, all flushed with pride at our envy and approbation! I did a water-colour sketch of her and sent it to Ronald, receiving in return a letter bubbling over with fond admiration and gratitude. She seems always in tone with the season and the landscape, does Francesca, and she arrives at it unconsciously, too. She glances out of her window at the yellow laburnum-tree when she is putting on her white frock, and it suggests to her all her amber trinkets and her drooping hat with the wreath of buttercups. When she came to my hawthorn luncheon at Rosaleen Cottage she did not make the mistake of heaping pink on pink, but wore a cotton gown of palest green, with a bunch of rosy blossoms at her belt. I painted her just as she stood under the hawthorn, with its fluttering petals and singing birds, calling the picture Grainne Mael [*]: A Vision of Erinn, writing under it the verse:–

‘The thrushes seen in bushes green are singing loud–
Bid sadness go and gladness glow,–give welcome proud!
The Rover comes, the Lover, whom you long bewail,
O’er sunny seas, with honey breeze, to Grainne Mael.’

* Pronounced Graunia Wael, the M being modified. It is one of the endearing names given to Ireland in the Penal Times.
Benella, I fancy, never had so varied a week in her life, and she was in her element. We were obliged to hire a side-car by the day, as two of our residences were over a mile apart; and the driver of that vehicle was the only person, I think, who had any suspicion of our sanity. In the intervals of teaching Francesca cooking, and eating the results while the cook herself prudently lunched or dined with her friends, Benella ‘spring-cleaned’ the lodge at the Old Hall, scrubbed the gateposts, mended stone walls, weeded garden beds, made bags for the brooms and dusters and mattresses, burned coffee and camphor and other ill-smelling things in all the rooms, and devoted considerable time to superintending my little maid, that I might not feel neglected. We were naturally obliged, meanwhile, to wait upon ourselves and keep our frocks in order; but as long as the Derelict was so busy and happy, and so devoted to the universal good, it would have been churlish and ungrateful to complain.
On leaving the Wee Hut, as Francesca had, with ostentatious modesty, named her residence, she paid her landlady two pounds, and was discomfited when the exuberant and impetuous woman embraced her in a paroxysm of weeping gratitude.
“I cannot understand, Penelope, why she was so disproportionately grateful, for I only gave her five shillings over the two pounds rent.”
“Yes, dear,” I responded drily; “but you remember that the rent was for the month, and you paid her two pounds five shillings for the week.”
All the rest of that day Francesca was angelic. She brought footstools for Salemina, wound wool for her, insisted upon washing my paint brushes, read aloud to us while we were working, and offered to be the one to discharge Benella if the awful moment for that surgical operation should ever come. Finally, just as we were about to separate for the night, she said, with insinuating sweetness, “You won’t tell Ronald about my mistake with the rent-money, will you, dearest and darlingest girls?”
We are now quite ready to join in all the gaieties that may ensue when Rosnaree welcomes its master and his guests. Our page in buttons at the lodge gives Benella full scope for her administrative ability, which seems to have sprung into being since she entered our service; at least, if I except that evidence of it which she displayed in managing us when first we met. She calls our page ‘the Button Boy,’ and makes his life a burden to him by taking him away from his easy duties at the gate, covering his livery with baggy overalls, and setting him to weed the garden. It can never, in the nature of things, be made free from weeds during our brief term of tenancy, but Benella cleverly keeps her slave at work on the beds and the walks that are the most conspicuous to visitors. The Old Hall used simply to be called ‘Aunt David’s house’ by the Welsh Joyces, and it was Aunt David herself who made the garden; she who traced the lines of the flower-beds with the ivory tip of her parasol; she who planned the quaint stone gateways and arbours and hedge seats; she who devised the interminable stretches of paths, the labyrinthine walks, the mazes, and the hidden flower-plots. You walk on and on between high hedges, until, if you have not missed your way, you presently find a little pansy or rose or lily garden. It is quite the most unexpected and piquant method of laying out a place I have ever seen; and the only difficulty about it is that any gardener, unless he were possessed of unusual sense of direction, would be continually astray in it. The Button Boy, obeying the laws of human nature, is lost in two minutes, but requires two hours in which to find himself. Benella suspects that he prefers this wandering to and fro to the more monotonous task of weeding, and it is no uncommon thing for her to pursue the recalcitrant page through the mazes and labyrinths for an hour at a time, and perhaps lose herself in the end. Salemina and I were sitting this morning in the Peacock Walk, where two trees clipped into the shape of long-tailed birds mount guard over the box hedge, and put their beaks together to form an arch. In the dim distance we could see Benella ‘bagging’ the Button Boy, and, after putting the trowel and rake in his reluctant hands, tying the free end of a ball of string to his leg, and sending him to find and weed the pansy garden. We laughed until the echoes rang, to see him depart, dragging his lengthening chain, or his Ariadne thread, behind him, while Benella grimly held the ball, determined that no excuses or apologies should interfere with his work on this occasion.
Chapter 28 Round Towers And Reflections
‘On Lough Neagh’s banks, as the fisherman strays,
When the cool, calm eve’s declining.
He sees the round towers of other days
Beneath the waters shining.’
Thomas Moore.

A Dublin car-driver told me one day that he had just taken a picnic-party to the borders of a lake, where they had had tea in a tramcar which had been placed there for such purposes. Francesca and I were amused at the idea, but did not think of it again until we drove through the La Touche estate, on one of the first days after our arrival at Devorgilla. We left Salemina at Rosnaree House with Aunt La Touche and the children, and proceeded to explore the grounds, with the view of deciding on certain improvements to be made when the property passes, so to speak, into our hands.
Truth to say, nature has done more for it than we could have done; and if it is a trifle overgrown and rough and rank, it could hardly be more beautiful. At the very furthest confines of the demesne there is a brook,–large enough, indeed, to be called a river here, where they have no Mississippi to dwarf all other streams and serve as an impossible standard of comparison. Tall trees droop over the calm water, and on its margins grow spearwort, opening its big yellow cups to the sunshine, meadow rue, purple and yellow loosestrife, bog bean, and sweet flag. Here and there float upon the surface the round leaves and delicate white blossoms of the frogbit, together with lilies, pondweeds, and water starworts.
“What an idyllic place to sit and read, or sew, or have tea!” exclaimed Francesca.
“What a place for a tram tea-house!” I added. “Do you suppose we could manage it as a surprise to Dr. La Touche, in return for all his kindness?”
“It would cost a pretty penny, I fear,” said Francesca prudently, “though it isn’t as if it were going out of the family. Now that there is no longer any need for you to sell pictures, I suppose you could dash off one in an hour or two that would buy a tram; and papa cabled me yesterday, you know, to draw on him freely. I used to think, whenever he said that, that he would marry again within the week; but I did him injustice. A tram tea-house by the river,–wouldn’t it be unique? Do let us see what we can do about it through some of our Dublin acquaintances.”
The plan proved unexpectedly easy to carry out, and not ruinously extravagant, either; for our friend the American consul knew the principal director in a tram company, and a dilapidated and discarded car was sent to us in a few days. There were certain moments–once when we saw that it had not been painted for twenty years, once when the freight bill was handed us, and again when we contracted for the removal of our gift from the station to the river-bank–when we regretted the fertility of imagination that had led us to these lengths; but when we finally saw the car by the water-side, there was no room left for regret. Benella said that, with the assistance of the Button Boy, she could paint it easily herself; but we engaged an expert, who put on a coat of dark green very speedily, and we consoled the Derelict with the suggestion that she could cover the cushions, and make the interior cosy and pretty.
All this happened some little time ago. Dr. La Touche has been at home for a fortnight, and we have had to use the greatest ingenuity to keep people away from that particular spot, which, fortunately for us, is a secluded one. All is ready now, however, and the following cards of invitation have been issued:–

The honour of your presence
is requested at the
Opening of the New Tea Tram
On the River Bank, Rosnaree Demesne,
Wednesday, June 27th, at 4 p.m.
The ceremony will be performed by
H.R.H. Salemina Peabody.
The Bishop of Ossory in the Chair.

I have just learned that a certain William Beresford was Bishop of Ossory once on a time, and I intend to personate this dignitary, clad in Dr. La Touche’s cap and gown. We spend this sunny morning by the river-bank; Francesca hemming the last of the yellow window curtains, and I making souvenir programmes for the great occasion. Salemina had gone for the day with the Colquhouns and Dr. La Touche to lunch with some people near Kavan and see Donaghmore Round Tower and the moat.
“Is she in love with Dr. Gerald?” asked Francesca suddenly, looking up from her work. “Was she ever in love with him? She must have been, mustn’t she? I cannot and will not entertain any other conviction.”
“I don’t know, my dear,” I answered thoughtfully, pausing over an initial letter I was illuminating; “but I can’t imagine what we shall do if we have to tear down our sweet little romance, bit by bit, and leave the stupid couple sitting in the ruins. They enjoy ruins far too well already, and it would be just like their obstinacy to go on sitting in them.”
“And they are so incredibly slow about it all,” Francesca commented. “It took me about two minutes, at Lady Baird’s dinner, where I first met Ronald, to decide that I would marry him as soon as possible. When a month had gone by, and he hadn’t asked me, I thought, like Rosalind, that I’d as lief be wooed of a snail.”
“I was not quite so expeditious as you,” I confessed, “though I believe Himself says that his feeling was instantaneous. I never cared for anything but painting before I met him, so I never chanced to suffer any of those pangs that lovelorn maidens are said to feel when the beloved delays his avowals: perhaps that is the reason I suffer so much now, vicariously.”
“The lack of positive information makes one so impatient,” Francesca went on. “I am sure he is as fond of her as ever; but if she refused him when he was young and handsome, with every prospect of a brilliant career before him, perhaps he thinks he has even less chance now. He was the first to forget their romance, and the one to marry; his estates have been wasted by his father’s legal warfares, and he has been an unhappy and a disappointed man. Now he has to beg her to heal his wounds, as it were, and to accept the care and responsibility of his children.”
“It is very easy to see that we are not the only ones who suspect his sentiments,” I said, smiling at my thoughts. “Mrs. Colquhoun told me that she and Salemina stopped at one of the tenants’ cabins, the other day, to leave some small comforts that Dr. La Touche had sent to a sick child. The woman thanked Salemina, and Mrs. Colquhoun heard her say, ‘When a man will stop, coming in the doore, an’ stoop down to give a sthroke and a scratch to the pig’s back, depend on it, ma’am, him that’s so friendly with a poor fellow-crathur will make ye a good husband.’
“I ha8

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