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    Act II

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    Chapter 2
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    Rosscullen. Westward a hillside of granite rock and heather
    slopes upward across the prospect from south to north, a huge
    stone stands on it in a naturally impossible place, as if it had
    been tossed up there by a giant. Over the brow, in the desolate
    valley beyond, is a round tower. A lonely white high road
    trending away westward past the tower loses itself at the foot of
    the far mountains. It is evening; and there are great breadths of
    silken green in the Irish sky. The sun is setting.

    A man with the face of a young saint, yet with white hair and
    perhaps 50 years on his back, is standing near the stone in a
    trance of intense melancholy, looking over the hills as if by
    mere intensity of gaze he could pierce the glories of the sunset
    and see into the streets of heaven. He is dressed in black, and
    is rather more clerical in appearance than most English curates
    are nowadays; but he does not wear the collar and waistcoat of a
    parish priest. He is roused from his trance by the chirp of an
    insect from a tuft of grass in a crevice of the stone. His face
    relaxes: he turns quietly, and gravely takes off his hat to the
    tuft, addressing the insect in a brogue which is the jocular
    assumption of a gentleman and not the natural speech of a
    peasant.

    THE MAN. An is that yourself, Misther Grasshopper? I hope I see
    you well this fine evenin.

    THE GRASSHOPPER [prompt and shrill in answer]. X.X.

    THE MAN [encouragingly]. That's right. I suppose now you've come
    out to make yourself miserable by admyerin the sunset?

    THE GRASSHOPPER [sadly]. X.X.

    THE MAN. Aye, you're a thrue Irish grasshopper.

    THE GRASSHOPPER [loudly]. X.X.X.

    THE MAN. Three cheers for ould Ireland, is it? That helps you to
    face out the misery and the poverty and the torment, doesn't it?

    THE GRASSHOPPER [plaintively]. X.X.

    THE MAN. Ah, it's no use, me poor little friend. If you could
    jump as far as a kangaroo you couldn't jump away from your own
    heart an its punishment. You can only look at Heaven from here:
    you can't reach it. There! [pointing with his stick to the
    sunset] that's the gate o glory, isn't it?

    THE GRASSHOPPER [assenting]. X.X.

    THE MAN. Sure it's the wise grasshopper yar to know that! But
    tell me this, Misther Unworldly Wiseman: why does the sight of
    Heaven wring your heart an mine as the sight of holy wather
    wrings the heart o the divil? What wickedness have you done to
    bring that curse on you? Here! where are you jumpin to? Where's
    your manners to go skyrocketin like that out o the box in the
    middle o your confession [he threatens it with his stick]?

    THE GRASSHOPPER [penitently]. X.

    THE MAN [lowering the stick]. I accept your apology; but don't do
    it again. And now tell me one thing before I let you go home to
    bed. Which would you say this counthry was: hell or purgatory?

    THE GRASSHOPPER. X.

    THE MAN. Hell! Faith I'm afraid you're right. I wondher what you
    and me did when we were alive to get sent here.

    THE GRASSHOPPER [shrilly]. X.X.

    THE MAN [nodding]. Well, as you say, it's a delicate subject; and
    I won't press it on you. Now off widja.

    THE GRASSHOPPER. X.X. [It springs away].

    THE MAN [waving his stick] God speed you! [He walks away past the
    stone towards the brow of the hill. Immediately a young laborer,
    his face distorted with terror, slips round from behind the
    stone.

    THE LABORER [crossing himself repeatedly]. Oh glory be to God!
    glory be to God! Oh Holy Mother an all the saints! Oh murdher!
    murdher! [Beside himself, calling Fadher Keegan! Fadher Keegan]!

    THE MAN [turning]. Who's there? What's that? [He comes back and
    finds the laborer, who clasps his knees] Patsy Farrell! What are
    you doing here?

    PATSY. O for the love o God don't lave me here wi dhe
    grasshopper. I hard it spakin to you. Don't let it do me any
    harm, Father darlint.

    KEEGAN. Get up, you foolish man, get up. Are you afraid of a poor
    insect because I pretended it was talking to me?

    PATSY. Oh, it was no pretending, Fadher dear. Didn't it give
    three cheers n say it was a divil out o hell? Oh say you'll see
    me safe home, Fadher; n put a blessin on me or somethin [he moans
    with terror].

    KEEGAN. What were you doin there, Patsy, listnin? Were you spyin
    on me?

    PATSY. No, Fadher: on me oath an soul I wasn't: I was waitn to
    meet Masther Larry n carry his luggage from the car; n I fell
    asleep on the grass; n you woke me talkin to the grasshopper; n I
    hard its wicked little voice. Oh, d'ye think I'll die before the
    year's out, Fadher?

    KEEGAN. For shame, Patsy! Is that your religion, to be afraid of
    a little deeshy grasshopper? Suppose it was a divil, what call
    have you to fear it? If I could ketch it, I'd make you take it
    home widja in your hat for a penance.

    PATSY. Sure, if you won't let it harm me, I'm not afraid, your
    riverence. [He gets up, a little reassured. He is a callow,
    flaxen polled, smoothfaced, downy chinned lad, fully grown but
    not yet fully filled out, with blue eyes and an instinctively
    acquired air of helplessness and silliness, indicating, not his
    real character, but a cunning developed by his constant dread of
    a hostile dominance, which he habitually tries to disarm and
    tempt into unmasking by pretending to be a much greater fool than
    he really is. Englishmen think him half-witted, which is exactly
    what he intends them to think. He is clad in corduroy trousers,
    unbuttoned waistcoat, and coarse blue striped shirt].

    KEEGAN [admonitorily]. Patsy: what did I tell you about callin me
    Father Keegan an your reverence? What did Father Dempsey tell you
    about it?

    PATSY. Yis, Fadher.

    KEEGAN. Father!

    PATSY [desperately]. Arra, hwat am I to call you? Fadher Dempsey
    sez you're not a priest; n we all know you're not a man; n how do
    we know what ud happen to us if we showed any disrespect to you?
    N sure they say wanse a priest always a priest.

    KEEGAN [sternly]. It's not for the like of you, Patsy, to go
    behind the instruction of your parish priest and set yourself up
    to judge whether your Church is right or wrong.

    PATSY. Sure I know that, sir.

    KEEGAN. The Church let me be its priest as long as it thought me
    fit for its work. When it took away my papers it meant you to
    know that I was only a poor madman, unfit and unworthy to take
    charge of the souls of the people.

    PATSY. But wasn't it only because you knew more Latn than Father
    Dempsey that he was jealous of you?

    KEEGAN [scolding him to keep himself from smiling]. How dar you,
    Patsy Farrell, put your own wicked little spites and
    foolishnesses into the heart of your priest? For two pins I'd
    tell him what you just said.

    PATSY [coaxing] Sure you wouldn't--

    KEEGAN. Wouldn't I? God forgive you! You're little better than a
    heathen.

    PATSY. Deedn I am, Fadher: it's me bruddher the tinsmith in
    Dublin you're thinkin of. Sure he had to be a freethinker when he
    larnt a thrade and went to live in the town.

    KEEGAN. Well, he'll get to Heaven before you if you're not
    careful, Patsy. And now you listen to me, once and for all.
    You'll talk to me and pray for me by the name of Pether Keegan,
    so you will. And when you're angry and tempted to lift your hand
    agen the donkey or stamp your foot on the little grasshopper,
    remember that the donkey's Pether Keegan's brother, and the
    grasshopper Pether Keegan's friend. And when you're tempted to
    throw a stone at a sinner or a curse at a beggar, remember that
    Pether Keegan is a worse sinner and a worse beggar, and keep the
    stone and the curse for him the next time you meet him. Now say
    God bless you, Pether, to me before I go, just to practise you a
    bit.

    PATSY. Sure it wouldn't be right, Fadher. I can't--

    KEEGAN. Yes you can. Now out with it; or I'll put this stick into
    your hand an make you hit me with it.

    PATSY [throwing himself on his knees in an ecstasy of adoration].
    Sure it's your blessin I want, Fadher Keegan. I'll have no luck
    widhout it.

    KEEGAN [shocked]. Get up out o that, man. Don't kneel to me: I'm
    not a saint.

    PATSY [with intense conviction]. Oh in throth yar, sir. [The
    grasshopper chirps. Patsy, terrified, clutches at Keegan's hands]
    Don't set it on me, Fadher: I'll do anythin you bid me.

    KEEGAN [pulling him up]. You bosthoon, you! Don't you see that it
    only whistled to tell me Miss Reilly's comin? There! Look at her
    and pull yourself together for shame. Off widja to the road:
    you'll be late for the car if you don't make haste [bustling him
    down the hill]. I can see the dust of it in the gap already.

    PATSY. The Lord save us! [He goes down the hill towards the road
    like a haunted man].

    Nora Reilly comes down the hill. A slight weak woman in a pretty
    muslin print gown [her best], she is a figure commonplace enough
    to Irish eyes; but on the inhabitants of fatter-fed, crowded,
    hustling and bustling modern countries she makes a very
    different impression. The absence of any symptoms of coarseness
    or hardness or appetite in her, her comparative delicacy of
    manner and sensibility of apprehension, her thin hands and
    slender figure, her travel accent, with the caressing plaintive
    Irish melody of her speech, give her a charm which is all the
    more effective because, being untravelled, she is unconscious of
    it, and never dreams of deliberately dramatizing and exploiting
    it, as the Irishwoman in England does. For Tom Broadbent
    therefore, an attractive woman, whom he would even call ethereal.
    To Larry Doyle, an everyday woman fit only for the eighteenth
    century, helpless, useless, almost sexless, an invalid without
    the excuse of disease, an incarnation of everything in Ireland
    that drove him out of it. These judgments have little value and
    no finality; but they are the judgments on which her fate hangs
    just at present. Keegan touches his hat to her: he does not take
    it off.

    NORA. Mr Keegan: I want to speak to you a minute if you don't
    mind.

    KEEGAN [dropping the broad Irish vernacular of his speech to
    Patsy]. An hour if you like, Miss Reilly: you're always welcome.
    Shall we sit down?

    NORA. Thank you. [They sit on the heather. She is shy and
    anxious; but she comes to the point promptly because she can
    think of nothing else]. They say you did a gradle o travelling at
    one time.

    KEEGAN. Well you see I'm not a Mnooth man [he means that he was
    not a student at Maynooth College]. When I was young I admired
    the older generation of priests that had been educated in
    Salamanca. So when I felt sure of my vocation I went to
    Salamanca. Then I walked from Salamanca to Rome, an sted in a
    monastery there for a year. My pilgrimage to Rome taught me that
    walking is a better way of travelling than the train; so I walked
    from Rome to the Sorbonne in Paris; and I wish I could have
    walked from Paris to Oxford; for I was very sick on the sea.
    After a year of Oxford I had to walk to Jerusalem to walk the
    Oxford feeling off me. From Jerusalem I came back to Patmos, and
    spent six months at the monastery of Mount Athos. From that I
    came to Ireland and settled down as a parish priest until I went
    mad.

    NORA [startled]. Oh dons say that.

    KEEGAN. Why not? Don't you know the story? how I confessed a
    black man and gave him absolution; and how he put a spell on me
    and drove me mad.

    NORA. How can you talk such nonsense about yourself? For shame!

    KEEGAN. It's not nonsense at all: it's true--in a way. But never
    mind the black man. Now that you know what a travelled man I am,
    what can I do for you? [She hesitates and plucks nervously at the
    heather. He stays her hand gently]. Dear Miss Nora: don't pluck
    the little flower. If it was a pretty baby you wouldn't want to
    pull its head off and stick it in a vawse o water to look at.
    [The grasshopper chirps: Keegan turns his head and addresses it
    in the vernacular]. Be aisy, me son: she won't spoil the
    swing-swong in your little three. [To Nora, resuming his urbane
    style] You see I'm quite cracked; but never mind: I'm harmless.
    Now what is it?

    NORA [embarrassed]. Oh, only idle curiosity. I wanted to know
    whether you found Ireland--I mean the country part of Ireland, of
    course--very small and backwardlike when you came back to it from
    Rome and Oxford and all the great cities.

    KEEGAN. When I went to those great cities I saw wonders I had
    never seen in Ireland. But when I came back to Ireland I found
    all the wonders there waiting for me. You see they had been there
    all the time; but my eyes had never been opened to them. I did
    not know what my own house was like, because I had never been
    outside it.

    NORA. D'ye think that's the same with everybody?

    KEEGAN. With everybody who has eyes in his soul as well as in his
    head.

    NORA. But really and truly now, weren't the people rather
    disappointing? I should think the girls must have seemed rather
    coarse and dowdy after the foreign princesses and people? But I
    suppose a priest wouldn't notice that.

    KEEGAN. It's a priest's business to notice everything. I won't
    tell you all I noticed about women; but I'll tell you this. The
    more a man knows, and the farther he travels, the more likely he
    is to marry a country girl afterwards.

    NORA [blushing with delight]. You're joking, Mr Keegan: I'm sure
    yar.

    KEEGAN. My way of joking is to tell the truth. It's the funniest
    joke in the world.

    NORA [incredulous]. Galong with you!

    KEEGAN [springing up actively]. Shall we go down to the road and
    meet the car? [She gives him her hand and he helps her up]. Patsy
    Farrell told me you were expecting young Doyle.

    NORA [tossing her chin up at once]. Oh, I'm not expecting him
    particularly. It's a wonder he's come back at all. After staying
    away eighteen years he can harly expect us to be very anxious to
    see him, can he now?

    KEEGAN. Well, not anxious perhaps; but you will be curious to see
    how much he has changed in all these years.

    NORA [with a sudden bitter flush]. I suppose that's all that
    brings him back to look at us, just to see how much WE'VE
    changed. Well, he can wait and see me be candlelight: I didn't
    come out to meet him: I'm going to walk to the Round Tower [going
    west across the hill].

    KEEGAN. You couldn't do better this fine evening. [Gravely] I'll
    tell him where you've gone. [She turns as if to forbid him; but
    the deep understanding in his eyes makes that impossible; and she
    only looks at him earnestly and goes. He watches her disappear on
    the other side of the hill; then says] Aye, he's come to torment
    you; and you're driven already to torment him. [He shakes his
    head, and goes slowly away across the hill in the opposite
    direction, lost in thought].

    By this time the car has arrived, and dropped three of its
    passengers on the high road at the foot of the hill. It is a
    monster jaunting car, black and dilapidated, one of the last
    survivors of the public vehicles known to earlier generations as
    Beeyankiny cars, the Irish having laid violent tongues on the
    name of their projector, one Bianconi, an enterprising Italian.
    The three passengers are the parish priest, Father Dempsey;
    Cornelius Doyle, Larry's father; and Broadbent, all in overcoats
    and as stiff as only an Irish car could make them.

    The priest, stout and fatherly, falls far short of that finest
    type of countryside pastor which represents the genius of
    priesthood; but he is equally far above the base type in which a
    strongminded and unscrupulous peasant uses the Church to extort
    money, power, and privilege. He is a priest neither by vocation
    nor ambition, but because the life suits him. He has boundless
    authority over his flock, and taxes them stiffly enough to be a
    rich man. The old Protestant ascendency is now too broken to gall
    him. On the whole, an easygoing, amiable, even modest man as long
    as his dues are paid and his authority and dignity fully
    admitted.

    Cornelius Doyle is an elder of the small wiry type, with a
    hardskinned, rather worried face, clean shaven except for sandy
    whiskers blanching into a lustreless pale yellow and quite white
    at the roots. His dress is that of a country-town titan of
    business: that is, an oldish shooting suit, and elastic sided
    boots quite unconnected with shooting. Feeling shy with
    Broadbent, he is hasty, which is his way of trying to appear
    genial.

    Broadbent, for reasons which will appear later, has no luggage
    except a field glass and a guide book. The other two have left
    theirs to the unfortunate Patsy Farrell, who struggles up the
    hill after them, loaded with a sack of potatoes, a hamper, a fat
    goose, a colossal salmon, and several paper parcels.

    Cornelius leads the way up the hill, with Broadbent at his heels.
    The priest follows; and Patsy lags laboriously behind.

    CORNELIUS. This is a bit of a climb, Mr. Broadbent; but it's
    shorter than goin round be the road.

    BROADBENT [stopping to examine the great stone]. Just a moment,
    Mr Doyle: I want to look at this stone. It must be Finian's
    die-cast.

    CORNELIUS [in blank bewilderment]. Hwat?

    BROADBENT. Murray describes it. One of your great national
    heroes--I can't pronounce the name--Finian Somebody, I think.

    FATHER DEMPSEY [also perplexed, and rather scandalized]. Is it
    Fin McCool you mean?

    BROADBENT. I daresay it is. [Referring to the guide book].
    Murray says that a huge stone, probably of Druidic origin, is
    still pointed out as the die cast by Fin in his celebrated match
    with the devil.

    CORNELIUS [dubiously]. Jeuce a word I ever heard of it!

    FATHER DEMPSEY [very seriously indeed, and even a little
    severely]. Don't believe any such nonsense, sir. There never was
    any such thing. When people talk to you about Fin McCool and the
    like, take no notice of them. It's all idle stories and
    superstition.

    BROADBENT [somewhat indignantly; for to be rebuked by an Irish
    priest for superstition is more than he can stand]. You don't
    suppose I believe it, do you?

    FATHER DEMPSEY. Oh, I thought you did. D'ye see the top o the
    Roun Tower there? That's an antiquity worth lookin at.

    BROADBENT [deeply interested]. Have you any theory as to what the
    Round Towers were for?

    FATHER DEMPSEY [a little offended]. A theory? Me! [Theories are
    connected in his mind with the late Professor Tyndall, and with
    scientific scepticism generally: also perhaps with the view that
    the Round Towers are phallic symbols].

    CORNELIUS [remonstrating]. Father Dempsey is the priest of the
    parish, Mr Broadbent. What would he be doing with a theory?

    FATHER DEMPSEY [with gentle emphasis]. I have a KNOWLEDGE of what
    the Roun Towers were, if that's what you mean. They are the
    forefingers of the early Church, pointing us all to God.

    Patsy, intolerably overburdened, loses his balance, and sits down
    involuntarily. His burdens are scattered over the hillside.
    Cornelius and Father Dempsey turn furiously on him, leaving
    Broadbent beaming at the stone and the tower with fatuous
    interest.

    CORNELIUS. Oh, be the hokey, the sammin's broke in two! You
    schoopid ass, what d'ye mean?

    FATHER DEMPSEY. Are you drunk, Patsy Farrell? Did I tell you to
    carry that hamper carefully or did I not?

    PATSY [rubbing the back of his head, which has almost dented a
    slab of granite] Sure me fut slpt. Howkn I carry three men's
    luggage at wanst?

    FATHER DEMPSEY. You were told to leave behind what you couldn't
    carry, an go back for it.

    PATSY. An whose things was I to lave behind? Hwat would your
    reverence think if I left your hamper behind in the wet grass; n
    hwat would the masther say if I left the sammin and the goose be
    the side o the road for annywan to pick up?

    CORNELIUS. Oh, you've a dale to say for yourself, you,
    butther-fingered omadhaun. Wait'll Ant Judy sees the state o that
    sammin: SHE'LL talk to you. Here! gimme that birdn that fish
    there; an take Father Dempsey's hamper to his house for him; n
    then come back for the rest.

    FATHER DEMPSEY. Do, Patsy. And mind you don't fall down again.

    PATSY. Sure I--

    CORNELIUS [bustling him up the bill] Whisht! heres Ant Judy.
    [Patsy goes grumbling in disgrace, with Father Dempsey's hamper].

    Aunt Judy comes down the hill, a woman of 50, in no way
    remarkable, lively and busy without energy or grip, placid
    without tranquillity, kindly without concern for others: indeed
    without much concern for herself: a contented product of a
    narrow, strainless life. She wears her hair parted in the middle
    and quite smooth, with a fattened bun at the back. Her dress is a
    plain brown frock, with a woollen pelerine of black and aniline
    mauve over her shoulders, all very trim in honor of the occasion.
    She looks round for Larry; is puzzled; then stares incredulously
    at Broadbent.

    AUNT JUDY. Surely to goodness that's not you, Larry!

    CORNELIUS. Arra how could he be Larry, woman alive? Larry's in
    no hurry home, it seems. I haven't set eyes on him. This is his
    friend, Mr Broadbent. Mr Broadbent, me sister Judy.

    AUNT JUDY [hospitably: going to Broadbent and shaking hands
    heartily]. Mr. Broadbent! Fancy me takin you for Larry! Sure we
    haven't seen a sight of him for eighteen years, n he only a lad
    when he left us.

    BROADBENT. It's not Larry's fault: he was to have been here
    before me. He started in our motor an hour before Mr Doyle
    arrived, to meet us at Athenmullet, intending to get here long
    before me.

    AUNT JUDY. Lord save us! do you think he's had n axidnt?

    BROADBENT. No: he's wired to say he's had a breakdown and will
    come on as soon as he can. He expects to be here at about ten.

    AUNT JUDY. There now! Fancy him trustn himself in a motor and we
    all expectn him! Just like him! he'd never do anything like
    anybody else. Well, what can't be cured must be injoored. Come on
    in, all of you. You must be dyin for your tea, Mr Broadbent.

    BROADBENT [with a slight start]. Oh, I'm afraid it's too late for
    tea [he looks at his watch].

    AUNT JUDY. Not a bit: we never have it airlier than this. I hope
    they gave you a good dinner at Athenmullet.

    BROADBENT [trying to conceal his consternation as he realizes
    that he is not going to get any dinner after his drive] Oh--er--
    excellent, excellent. By the way, hadn't I better see about a
    room at the hotel? [They stare at him].

    CORNELIUS. The hotel!

    FATHER DEMPSEY. Hwat hotel?

    AUNT JUDY. Indeedn you'e not goin to a hotel. You'll stay with
    us. I'd have put you into Larry's room, only the boy's pallyass
    is too short for you; but we'll make a comfortable bed for you on
    the sofa in the parlor.

    BROADBENT. You're very kind, Miss Doyle; but really I'm ashamed
    to give you so much trouble unnecessarily. I shan't mind the
    hotel in the least.

    FATHER DEMPSEY. Man alive! There's no hotel in Rosscullen.

    BROADBENT. No hotel! Why, the driver told me there was the finest
    hotel in Ireland here. [They regard him joylessly].

    AUNT JUDY. Arra would you mind what the like of him would tell
    you? Sure he'd say hwatever was the least trouble to himself and
    the pleasantest to you, thinkin you might give him a thruppeny
    bit for himself or the like.

    BROADBENT. Perhaps there's a public house.

    FATHER DEMPSEY [grimly.] There's seventeen.

    AUNT JUDY. Ah then, how could you stay at a public house? They'd
    have no place to put you even if it was a right place for you to
    go. Come! is it the sofa you're afraid of? If it is, you can have
    me own bed. I can sleep with Nora.

    BROADBENT. Not at all, not at all: I should be only too
    delighted. But to upset your arrangements in this way--

    CORNELIUS [anxious to cut short the discussion, which makes him
    ashamed of his house; for he guesses Broadbent's standard of
    comfort a little more accurately than his sister does] That's all
    right: it'll be no trouble at all. Hweres Nora?

    AUNT JUDY. Oh, how do I know? She slipped out a little while ago:
    I thought she was goin to meet the car.

    CORNELIUS [dissatisfied] It's a queer thing of her to run out o
    the way at such a time.

    AUNT JUDY. Sure she's a queer girl altogether. Come. Come in,
    come in.

    FATHER DEMPSEY. I'll say good-night, Mr Broadbent. If there's
    anything I can do for you in this parish, let me know. [He shakes
    hands with Broadbent].

    BROADBENT [effusively cordial]. Thank you, Father Dempsey.
    Delighted to have met you, sir.

    FATHER DEMPSEY [passing on to Aunt Judy]. Good-night, Miss Doyle.

    AUNT JUDY. Won't you stay to tea?

    FATHER DEMPSEY. Not to-night, thank you kindly: I have business
    to do at home. [He turns to go, and meets Patsy Farrell returning
    unloaded]. Have you left that hamper for me?

    PATSY. Yis, your reverence.

    FATHER DEMPSEY. That's a good lad [going].

    PATSY [to Aunt Judy] Fadher Keegan sez--

    FATHER DEMPSEY [turning sharply on him]. What's that you say?

    PATSY [frightened]. Fadher Keegan--

    FATHER DEMPSEY. How often have you heard me bid you call Mister
    Keegan in his proper name, the same as I do? Father Keegan
    indeed! Can't you tell the difference between your priest and any
    ole madman in a black coat?

    PATSY. Sure I'm afraid he might put a spell on me.

    FATHER DEMPSEY [wrathfully]. You mind what I tell you or I'll put
    a spell on you that'll make you lep. D'ye mind that now? [He goes
    home].

    Patsy goes down the hill to retrieve the fish, the bird, and the
    sack.

    AUNT JUDY. Ah, hwy can't you hold your tongue, Patsy, before
    Father Dempsey?

    PATSY. Well, what was I to do? Father Keegan bid me tell you Miss
    Nora was gone to the Roun Tower.

    AUNT JUDY. An hwy couldn't you wait to tell us until Father
    Dempsey was gone?

    PATSY. I was afeerd o forgetn it; and then maybe he'd a sent the
    grasshopper or the little dark looker into me at night to remind
    me of it. [The dark looker is the common grey lizard, which is
    supposed to walk down the throats of incautious sleepers and
    cause them to perish in a slow decline].

    CORNELIUS. Yah, you great gaum, you! Widjer grasshoppers and dark
    lookers! Here: take up them things and let me hear no more o your
    foolish lip. [Patsy obeys]. You can take the sammin under your
    oxther. [He wedges the salmon into Patsy's axilla].

    PATSY. I can take the goose too, sir. Put it on me back and gimme
    the neck of it in me mouth. [Cornelius is about to comply
    thoughtlessly].

    AUNT JUDY [feeling that Broadbent's presence demands special
    punctiliousness]. For shame, Patsy! to offer to take the goose in
    your mouth that we have to eat after you! The master'll bring it
    in for you. [Patsy, abashed, yet irritated by this ridiculous
    fastidiousness, takes his load up the hill].

    CORNELIUS. What the jeuce does Nora want to go to the Roun Tower
    for?

    AUNT JUDY. Oh, the Lord knows! Romancin, I suppose. Props she
    thinks Larry would go there to look for her and see her safe
    home.

    BROADBENT. I'm afraid it's all the fault of my motor. Miss Reilly
    must not be left to wait and walk home alone at night. Shall I go
    for her?

    AUNT JUDY [contemptuously]. Arra hwat ud happen to her? Hurry in
    now, Corny. Come, Mr Broadbent. I left the tea on the hob to
    draw; and it'll be black if we don't go in an drink it.

    They go up the hill. It is dark by this time.

    Broadbent does not fare so badly after all at Aunt Judy's board.
    He gets not only tea and bread-and-butter, but more mutton chops
    than he has ever conceived it possible to eat at one sitting.
    There is also a most filling substance called potato cake. Hardly
    have his fears of being starved been replaced by his first
    misgiving that he is eating too much and will be sorry for it
    tomorrow, when his appetite is revived by the production of a
    bottle of illicitly distilled whisky, called pocheen, which he
    has read and dreamed of [he calls it pottine] and is now at last
    to taste. His good humor rises almost to excitement before
    Cornelius shows signs of sleepiness. The contrast between Aunt
    Judy's table service and that of the south and east coast hotels
    at which he spends his Fridays-to-Tuesdays when he is in London,
    seems to him delightfully Irish. The almost total atrophy of any
    sense of enjoyment in Cornelius, or even any desire for it or
    toleration of the possibility of life being something better than
    a round of sordid worries, relieved by tobacco, punch, fine
    mornings, and petty successes in buying and selling, passes with
    his guest as the whimsical affectation of a shrewd Irish humorist
    and incorrigible spendthrift. Aunt Judy seems to him an incarnate
    joke. The likelihood that the joke will pall after a month or so,
    and is probably not apparent at any time to born Rossculleners,
    or that he himself unconsciously entertains Aunt Judy by his
    fantastic English personality and English mispronunciations, does
    not occur to him for a moment. In the end he is so charmed, and
    so loth to go to bed and perhaps dream of prosaic England, that
    he insists on going out to smoke a cigar and look for Nora Reilly
    at the Round Tower. Not that any special insistence is needed;
    for the English inhibitive instinct does not seem to exist in
    Rosscullen. Just as Nora's liking to miss a meal and stay out at
    the Round Tower is accepted as a sufficient reason for her doing
    it, and for the family going to bed and leaving the door open for
    her, so Broadbent's whim to go out for a late stroll provokes
    neither hospitable remonstrance nor surprise. Indeed Aunt Judy
    wants to get rid of him whilst she makes a bed for him on the
    sofa. So off he goes, full fed, happy and enthusiastic, to
    explore the valley by moonlight.

    The Round Tower stands about half an Irish mile from Rosscullen,
    some fifty yards south of the road on a knoll with a circle of
    wild greensward on it. The road once ran over this knoll; but
    modern engineering has tempered the level to the Beeyankiny car
    by carrying the road partly round the knoll and partly through a
    cutting; so that the way from the road to the tower is a footpath
    up the embankment through furze and brambles.

    On the edge of this slope, at the top of the path, Nora is
    straining her eyes in the moonlight, watching for Larry. At last
    she gives it up with a sob of impatience, and retreats to the
    hoary foot of the tower, where she sits down discouraged and
    cries a little. Then she settles herself resignedly to wait, and
    hums a song--not an Irish melody, but a hackneyed English
    drawing-room ballad of the season before
    last--until some slight noise suggests a footstep, when she
    springs up eagerly and runs to the edge of the slope again. Some
    moments of silence and suspense follow, broken by unmistakable
    footsteps. She gives a little gasp as she sees a man approaching.

    NORA. Is that you, Larry? [Frightened a little] Who's that?

    [BROADBENT's voice from below on the path]. Don't be alarmed.

    NORA. Oh, what an English accent you've got!

    BROADBENT [rising into view] I must introduce myself--

    NORA [violently startled, retreating]. It's not you! Who are you?
    What do you want?

    BROADBENT [advancing]. I'm really so sorry to have alarmed you,
    Miss Reilly. My name is Broadbent. Larry's friend, you know.

    NORA [chilled]. And has Mr Doyle not come with you?

    BROADBENT. No. I've come instead. I hope I am not unwelcome.

    NORA [deeply mortified]. I'm sorry Mr Doyle should have given you
    the trouble, I'm sure.

    BROADBENT. You see, as a stranger and an Englishman, I thought it
    would be interesting to see the Round Tower by moonlight.

    NORA. Oh, you came to see the tower. I thought--[confused, trying
    to recover her manners] Oh, of course. I was so startled--It's a
    beautiful night, isn't it?

    BROADBENT. Lovely. I must explain why Larry has not come himself.

    NORA. Why should he come? He's seen the tower often enough: it's
    no attraction to him. [Genteelly] An what do you think of
    Ireland, Mr Broadbent? Have you ever been here before?

    BROADBENT. Never.

    NORA. An how do you like it?

    BROADBENT [suddenly betraying a condition of extreme
    sentimentality]. I can hardly trust myself to say how much I like
    it. The magic of this Irish scene, and--I really don't want to be
    personal, Miss Reilly; but the charm of your Irish voice--

    NORA [quite accustomed to gallantry, and attaching no seriousness
    whatever to it]. Oh, get along with you, Mr Broadbent! You're
    breaking your heart about me already, I daresay, after seeing me
    for two minutes in the dark.

    BROADBENT. The voice is just as beautiful in the dark, you know.
    Besides, I've heard a great deal about you from Larry.

    NORA [with bitter indifference]. Have you now? Well, that's a
    great honor, I'm sure.

    BROADBENT. I have looked forward to meeting you more than to
    anything else in Ireland.

    NORA [ironically]. Dear me! did you now?

    BROADBENT. I did really. I wish you had taken half as much
    interest in me.

    NORA. Oh, I was dying to see you, of course. I daresay you can
    imagine the sensation an Englishman like you would make among us
    poor Irish people.

    BROADBENT. Ah, now you're chaffing me, Miss Reilly: you know you
    are. You mustn't chaff me. I'm very much in earnest about Ireland
    and everything Irish. I'm very much in earnest about you and
    about Larry.

    NORA. Larry has nothing to do with me, Mr Broadbent.

    BROADBENT. If I really thought that, Miss Reilly, I should--well,
    I should let myself feel that charm of which I spoke just now
    more deeply than I--than I--

    NORA. Is it making love to me you are?

    BROADBENT [scared and much upset]. On my word I believe I am,
    Miss Reilly. If you say that to me again I shan't answer for
    myself: all the harps of Ireland are in your voice. [She laughs
    at him. He suddenly loses his head and seizes her arms, to her
    great indignation]. Stop laughing: do you hear? I am in earnest--
    in English earnest. When I say a thing like that to a woman, I
    mean it. [Releasing her and trying to recover his ordinary manner
    in spite of his bewildering emotion] I beg your pardon.

    NORA. How dare you touch me?

    BROADBENT. There are not many things I would not dare for you.
    That does not sound right perhaps; but I really--[he stops and
    passes his hand over his forehead, rather lost].

    NORA. I think you ought to be ashamed. I think if you were a
    gentleman, and me alone with you in this place at night, you
    would die rather than do such a thing.

    BROADBENT. You mean that it's an act of treachery to Larry?

    NORA. Deed I don't. What has Larry to do with it? It's an act of
    disrespect and rudeness to me: it shows what you take me for. You
    can go your way now; and I'll go mine. Goodnight, Mr Broadbent.

    BROADBENT. No, please, Miss Reilly. One moment. Listen to me. I'm
    serious: I'm desperately serious. Tell me that I'm interfering
    with Larry; and I'll go straight from this spot back to London
    and never see you again. That's on my honor: I will. Am I
    interfering with him?

    NORA [answering in spite of herself in a sudden spring of
    bitterness]. I should think you ought to know better than me
    whether you're interfering with him. You've seen him oftener than
    I have. You know him better than I do, by this time. You've come
    to me quicker than he has, haven't you?

    BROADBENT. I'm bound to tell you, Miss Reilly, that Larry has not
    arrived in Rosscullen yet. He meant to get here before me; but
    his car broke down; and he may not arrive until to-morrow.

    NORA [her face lighting up]. Is that the truth?

    BROADBENT. Yes: that's the truth. [She gives a sigh of relief].
    You're glad of that?

    NORA [up in arms at once]. Glad indeed! Why should I be glad? As
    we've waited eighteen years for him we can afford to wait a day
    longer, I should think.

    BROADBENT. If you really feel like that about him, there may be a
    chance for another man yet. Eh?

    NORA [deeply offended]. I suppose people are different in
    England, Mr Broadbent; so perhaps you don't mean any harm. In
    Ireland nobody'd mind what a man'd say in fun, nor take advantage
    of what a woman might say in answer to it. If a woman couldn't
    talk to a man for two minutes at their first meeting without
    being treated the way you're treating me, no decent woman would
    ever talk to a man at all.

    BROADBENT. I don't understand that. I don't admit that. I am
    sincere; and my intentions are perfectly honorable. I think you
    will accept the fact that I'm an Englishman as a guarantee that I
    am not a man to act hastily or romantically, though I confess
    that your voice had such an extraordinary effect on me just now
    when you asked me so quaintly whether I was making love to you--

    NORA [flushing] I never thought--

    BROADHHNT [quickly]. Of course you didn't. I'm not so stupid as
    that. But I couldn't bear your laughing at the feeling it gave
    me. You--[again struggling with a surge of emotion] you don't
    know what I-- [he chokes for a moment and then blurts out with
    unnatural steadiness] Will you be my wife?

    NORA [promptly]. Deed I won't. The idea! [Looking at him more
    carefully] Arra, come home, Mr Broadbent; and get your senses
    back again. I think you're not accustomed to potcheen punch in
    the evening after your tea.

    BROADBENT [horrified]. Do you mean to say that I--I--I--my God!
    that I appear drunk to you, Miss Reilly?

    NORA [compassionately]. How many tumblers had you?

    BROADBENT [helplessly]. Two.

    NORA. The flavor of the turf prevented you noticing the strength
    of it. You'd better come home to bed.

    BROADBENT [fearfully agitated]. But this is such a horrible doubt
    to put into my mind--to--to--For Heaven's sake, Miss Reilly, am I
    really drunk?

    NORA [soothingly]. You'll be able to judge better in the morning.
    Come on now back with me, an think no more about it. [She takes
    his arm with motherly solicitude and urges him gently toward the
    path].

    BROADBENT [yielding in despair]. I must be drunk--frightfully
    drunk; for your voice drove me out of my senses [he stumbles over
    a stone]. No: on my word, on my most sacred word of honor, Miss
    Reilly, I tripped over that stone. It was an accident; it was
    indeed.

    NORA. Yes, of course it was. Just take my arm, Mr Broadbent,
    while we're goin down the path to the road. You'll be all right
    then.

    BROADBENT [submissively taking it]. I can't sufficiently
    apologize, Miss Reilly, or express my sense of your kindness when
    I am in such a disgusting state. How could I be such a bea-- [he
    trips again] damn the heather! my foot caught in it.

    NORA. Steady now, steady. Come along: come. [He is led down to
    the road in the character of a convicted drunkard. To him there
    it something divine in the sympathetic indulgence she substitutes
    for the angry disgust with which one of his own countrywomen
    would resent his supposed condition. And he has no suspicion of
    the fact, or of her ignorance of it, that when an Englishman is
    sentimental he behaves very much as an Irishman does when he is
    drunk].
    Next Chapter
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