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Title: The Tinker's Wedding
Author: Synge, J. M. (John Millington)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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 The Tinker’s Wedding 


 by J. M. Synge 




The drama is made serious—in the French sense of the word—not by the
degree in which it is taken up with problems that are serious in
themselves, but by the degree in which it gives the nourishment, not
very easy to define, on which our imaginations live. We should not go
to the theatre as we go to a chemist’s, or a dram-shop, but as we go to
a dinner, where the food we need is taken with pleasure and excitement.
This was nearly always so in Spain and England and France when the
drama was at its richest—the infancy and decay of the drama tend to be
didactic—but in these days the playhouse is too often stocked with the
drugs of many seedy problems, or with the absinthe or vermouth of the
last musical comedy.

The drama, like the symphony, does not teach or prove anything.
Analysts with their problems, and teachers with their systems, are soon
as old-fashioned as the pharmacopœia of Galen,—look at Ibsen and the
Germans—but the best plays of Ben Jonson and Molière can no more go out
of fashion than the black-berries on the hedges.

Of the things which nourish the imagination humour is one of the most
needful, and it is dangerous to limit or destroy it. Baudelaire calls
laughter the greatest sign of the Satanic element in man; and where a
country loses its humor, as some towns in Ireland are doing, there will
be morbidity of mind, as Baudelaire’s mind was morbid.

In the greater part of Ireland, however, the whole people, from the
tinkers to the clergy, have still a life, and view of life, that are
rich and genial and humorous. I do not think that these country people,
who have so much humor themselves, will mind being laughed at without
malice, as the people in every country have been laughed at in their
own comedies.

J. M. S.

_December 2nd_, 1907.



MICHAEL BYRNE, a tinker.
MARY BYRNE, an old woman, his mother.
SARAH CASEY, a young tinker woman.


SCENE: _A Village roadside after nightfall. A fire of sticks is burning
near the ditch a little to the right. Michael is working beside it. In
the background, on the left, a sort of tent and ragged clothes drying
on the hedge. On the right a chapel-gate._

_coming in on right, eagerly._—We’ll see his reverence this place,
Michael Byrne, and he passing backward to his house to-night.

_grimly._—That’ll be a sacred and a sainted joy!

_sharply._—It’ll be small joy for yourself if you aren’t ready with my
wedding ring. _(She goes over to him.)_ Is it near done this time, or
what way is it at all?

A poor way only, Sarah Casey, for it’s the divil’s job making a ring,
and you’ll be having my hands destroyed in a short while the way I’ll
not be able to make a tin can at all maybe at the dawn of day.

_sitting down beside him and throwing sticks on the fire._—If it’s the
divil’s job, let you mind it, and leave your speeches that would choke
a fool.

_slowly and glumly._—And it’s you’ll go talking of fools, Sarah Casey,
when no man did ever hear a lying story even of your like unto this
mortal day. You to be going beside me a great while, and rearing a lot
of them, and then to be setting off with your talk of getting married,
and your driving me to it, and I not asking it at all.

[_Sarah turns her back to him and arranges something in the ditch._

_angrily._—Can’t you speak a word when I’m asking what is it ails you
since the moon did change?

_musingly._—I’m thinking there isn’t anything ails me, Michael Byrne;
but the spring-time is a queer time, and it’s queer thoughts maybe I do
think at whiles.

It’s hard set you’d be to think queerer than welcome, Sarah Casey; but
what will you gain dragging me to the priest this night, I’m saying,
when it’s new thoughts you’ll be thinking at the dawn of day?

_teasingly._—It’s at the dawn of day I do be thinking I’d have a right
to be going off to the rich tinkers do be travelling from Tibradden to
the Tara Hill; for it’d be a fine life to be driving with young
Jaunting Jim, where there wouldn’t be any big hills to break the back
of you, with walking up and walking down.

_with dismay._—It’s the like of that you do be thinking!

The like of that, Michael Byrne, when there is a bit of sun in it, and
a kind air, and a great smell coming from the thorn-trees is above your

_looks at her for a moment with horror, and then hands her the
ring._—Will that fit you now?

_trying it on._—It’s making it tight you are, and the edges sharp on
the tin.

_looking at it carefully._—It’s the fat of your own finger, Sarah
Casey; and isn’t it a mad thing I’m saying again that you’d be asking
marriage of me, or making a talk of going away from me, and you
thriving and getting your good health by the grace of the Almighty God?

_giving it back to him._—Fix it now, and it’ll do, if you’re wary you
don’t squeeze it again.

_moodily, working again._—It’s easy saying be wary; there’s many things
easy said, Sarah Casey, you’d wonder a fool even would be saying at
all. _(He starts violently.)_ The divil mend you, I’m scalded again!

_scornfully._—If you are, it’s a clumsy man you are this night, Michael
Byrne _(raising her voice)_; and let you make haste now, or herself
will be coming with the porter.

_defiantly, raising his voice._—Let me make haste? I’ll be making haste
maybe to hit you a great clout; for I’m thinking on the day I got you
above at Rathvanna, and the way you began crying out and saying, “I’ll
go back to my ma,” and I’m thinking on the way I came behind you that
time, and hit you a great clout in the lug, and how quiet and easy it
was you came along with me from that hour to this present day.

_standing up and throwing all her sticks into the fire._—And a big fool
I was too, maybe; but we’ll be seeing Jaunting Jim to-morrow in
Ballinaclash, and he after getting a great price for his white foal in
the horse-fair of Wicklow, the way it’ll be a great sight to see him
squandering his share of gold, and he with a grand eye for a fine
horse, and a grand eye for a woman.

_working again with impatience._—The divil do him good with the two of

_kicking up the ashes with her foot._—Ah, he’s a great lad, I’m telling
you, and it’s proud and happy I’ll be to see him, and he the first one
called me the Beauty of Ballinacree, a fine name for a woman.

_with contempt._—It’s the like of that name they do be putting on the
horses they have below racing in Arklow. It’s easy pleased you are,
Sarah Casey, easy pleased with a big word, or the liar speaks it.


Liar, surely.

_indignantly._—Liar, is it? Didn’t you ever hear tell of the peelers
followed me ten miles along the Glen Malure, and they talking love to
me in the dark night, or of the children you’ll meet coming from school
and they saying one to the other, “It’s this day we seen Sarah Casey,
the Beauty of Ballinacree, a great sight surely.”

God help the lot of them!

It’s yourself you’ll be calling God to help, in two weeks or three,
when you’ll be waking up in the dark night and thinking you see me
coming with the sun on me, and I driving a high cart with Jaunting Jim
going behind. It’s lonesome and cold you’ll be feeling the ditch where
you’ll be lying down that night, I’m telling you, and you hearing the
old woman making a great noise in her sleep, and the bats squeaking in
the trees.

Whist. I hear some one coming the road.

_looking out right._—It’s some one coming forward from the doctor’s

It’s often his reverence does be in there playing cards, or drinking a
sup, or singing songs, until the dawn of day.

It’s a big boast of a man with a long step on him and a trumpeting
voice. It’s his reverence surely; and if you have the ring done, it’s a
great bargain we’ll make now and he after drinking his glass.

_going to her and giving her the ring._—There’s your ring, Sarah Casey;
but I’m thinking he’ll walk by and not stop to speak with the like of
us at all.

_tidying herself, in great excitement._—Let you be sitting here and
keeping a great blaze, the way he can look on my face; and let you seem
to be working, for it’s great love the like of him have to talk of

_moodily, sitting down and_ _beginning to work at a tin can._—Great
love surely.

_eagerly._—Make a great blaze now, Michael Byrne.

[_The priest comes in on right; she comes forward in front of him._

_in a very plausible voice._—Good evening, your reverence. It’s a grand
fine night, by the grace of God.

The Lord have mercy on us! What kind of a living woman is it that you
are at all?

It’s Sarah Casey I am, your reverence, the Beauty of Ballinacree, and
it’s Michael Byrne is below in the ditch.

A holy pair, surely! Let you get out of my way.

[_He tries to pass by._

_keeping in front of him._—We are wanting a little word with your

I haven’t a halfpenny at all. Leave the road I’m saying.

It isn’t a halfpenny we’re asking, holy father; but we were thinking
maybe we’d have a right to be getting married; and we were thinking
it’s yourself would marry us for not a halfpenny at all; for you’re a
kind man, your reverence, a kind man with the poor.

_with astonishment._—Is it marry you for nothing at all?

It is, your reverence; and we were thinking maybe you’d give us a
little small bit of silver to pay for the ring.

_loudly._—Let you hold your tongue; let you be quiet, Sarah Casey. I’ve
no silver at all for the like of you; and if you want to be married,
let you pay your pound. I’d do it for a pound only, and that’s making
it a sight cheaper than I’d make it for one of my own pairs is living
here in the place.

Where would the like of us get a pound, your reverence?

Wouldn’t you easy get it with your selling asses, and making cans, and
your stealing east and west in Wicklow and Wexford and the county
Meath? _(He tries to pass her.)_ Let you leave the road, and not be
plaguing me more.

_pleadingly, taking money from her pocket._—Wouldn’t you have a little
mercy on us, your reverence? _(Holding out money.)_ Wouldn’t you marry
us for a half a sovereign, and it a nice shiny one with a view on it of
the living king’s mamma?

If it’s ten shillings you have, let you get ten more the same way, and
I’ll marry you then.

_whining._—It’s two years we are getting that bit, your reverence, with
our pence and our halfpence and an odd three-penny bit; and if you
don’t marry us now, himself and the old woman, who has a great drouth,
will be drinking it to-morrow in the fair _(she puts her apron to her
eyes, half sobbing)_, and then I won’t be married any time, and I’ll be
saying till I’m an old woman: “It’s a cruel and a wicked thing to be
bred poor.”

_turning up towards the fire._—Let you not be crying, Sarah Casey. It’s
a queer woman you are to be crying at the like of that, and you your
whole life walking the roads.

_sobbing._—It’s two years we are getting the gold, your reverence, and
now you won’t marry us for that bit, and we hard-working poor people do
be making cans in the dark night, and blinding our eyes with the black
smoke from the bits of twigs we do be burning.

[_An old woman is heard singing tipsily on the left._

_looking at the can Michael is making._—When will you have that can
done, Michael Byrne?

In a short space only, your reverence, for I’m putting the last dab of
solder on the rim.

Let you get a crown along with the ten shillings and the gallon can,
Sarah Casey, and I will wed you so.

_suddenly shouting behind, tipsily._—Larry was a fine lad, I’m saying;
Larry was a fine lad, Sarah Casey—

Whist, now, the two of you. There’s my mother coming, and she’d have us
destroyed if she heard the like of that talk the time she’s been
drinking her fill.

_comes in singing_

    And when we asked him what way he’d die,
        And he hanging unrepented,
    “Begob,” says Larry, “that’s all in my eye,
        By the clergy first invented.”

Give me the jug now, or you’ll have it spilt in the ditch.

_holding the jug with both her hands, in a stilted voice._—Let you
leave me easy, Sarah Casey. I won’t spill it, I’m saying. God help you;
are you thinking it’s frothing full to the brim it is at this hour of
the night, and I after carrying it in my two hands a long step from
Jemmy Neill’s?

_anxiously._—Is there a sup left at all?

_looking into the jug._—A little small sup only I’m thinking.

_sees the priest, and holds out jug towards him._—God save your
reverence. I’m after bringing down a smart drop; and let you drink it
up now, for it’s a middling drouthy man you are at all times, God
forgive you, and this night is cruel dry.

[_She tries to go towards him. Sarah holds her back._

_waving her away._—Let you not be falling to the flames. Keep off, I’m

_persuasively._—Let you not be shy of us, your reverence. Aren’t we all
sinners, God help us! Drink a sup now, I’m telling you; and we won’t
let on a word about it till the Judgment Day.

[_She takes up a tin mug, pours some porter into it, and gives it to

_singing, and holding the jug in her hand._

    A lonesome ditch in Ballygan
    The day you’re beating a tenpenny can;
    A lonesome bank in Ballyduff
    The time . . .

[_She breaks off._ It’s a bad, wicked song, Sarah Casey; and let you
put me down now in the ditch, and I won’t sing it till himself will be
gone; for it’s bad enough he is, I’m thinking, without ourselves making
him worse.

_putting her down, to the priest, half laughing._—Don’t mind her at
all, your reverence. She’s no shame the time she’s a drop taken; and if
it was the Holy Father from Rome was in it, she’d give him a little sup
out of her mug, and say the same as she’d say to yourself.

_to the priest._—Let you drink it up, holy father. Let you drink it up,
I’m saying, and not be letting on you wouldn’t do the like of it, and
you with a stack of pint bottles above, reaching the sky.

_with resignation._—Well, here’s to your good health, and God forgive
us all.

[_He drinks._

That’s right now, your reverence, and the blessing of God be on you.
Isn’t it a grand thing to see you sitting down, with no pride in you,
and drinking a sup with the like of us, and we the poorest, wretched,
starving creatures you’d see any place on the earth?

If it’s starving you are itself, I’m thinking it’s well for the like of
you that do be drinking when there’s drouth on you, and lying down to
sleep when your legs are stiff. _(He sighs gloomily.)_ What would you
do if it was the like of myself you were, saying Mass with your mouth
dry, and running east and west for a sick call maybe, and hearing the
rural people again and they saying their sins?

_with compassion._—It’s destroyed you must be hearing the sins of the
rural people on a fine spring.

_with despondency._—It’s a hard life, I’m telling you, a hard life,
Mary Byrne; and there’s the bishop coming in the morning, and he an old
man, would have you destroyed if he seen a thing at all.

_with great sympathy._—It’d break my heart to hear you talking and
sighing the like of that, your reverence. _(She pats him on the knee.)_
Let you rouse up, now, if it’s a poor, single man you are itself, and
I’ll be singing you songs unto the dawn of day.

_interrupting her._—What is it I want with your songs when it’d be
better for the like of you, that’ll soon die, to be down on your two
knees saying prayers to the Almighty God?

If it’s prayers I want, you’d have a right to say one yourself, holy
father; for we don’t have them at all, and I’ve heard tell a power of
times it’s that you’re for. Say one now, your reverence, for I’ve heard
a power of queer things and I walking the world, but there’s one thing
I never heard any time, and that’s a real priest saying a prayer.

The Lord protect us!

It’s no lie, holy father. I often heard the rural people making a queer
noise and they going to rest; but who’d mind the like of them? And I’m
thinking it should be great game to hear a scholar, the like of you,
speaking Latin to the saints above.

_scandalized._—Stop your talking, Mary Byrne; you’re an old flagrant
heathen, and I’ll stay no more with the lot of you.

[_He rises._

_catching hold of him._—Stop till you say a prayer, your reverence;
stop till you say a little prayer, I’m telling you, and I’ll give you
my blessing and the last sup from the jug.

_breaking away._—Leave me go, Mary Byrne; for I have never met your
like for hard abominations the score and two years I’m living in the

_innocently._—Is that the truth?

—It is, then, and God have mercy on your soul.

[_The priest goes towards the left, and Sarah follows him._

_in a low voice._—And what time will you do the thing I’m asking, holy
father? for I’m thinking you’ll do it surely, and not have me growing
into an old wicked heathen like herself.

_calling out shrilly._—Let you be walking back here, Sarah Casey, and
not be talking whisper-talk with the like of him in the face of the
Almighty God.

_to the priest._—Do you hear her now, your reverence? Isn’t it true,
surely, she’s an old, flagrant heathen, would destroy the world?

_to Sarah, moving off._—Well, I’ll be coming down early to the chapel,
and let you come to me a while after you see me passing, and bring the
bit of gold along with you, and the tin can. I’ll marry you for them
two, though it’s a pitiful small sum; for I wouldn’t be easy in my soul
if I left you growing into an old, wicked heathen the like of her.

_following him out._—The blessing of the Almighty God be on you, holy
father, and that He may reward and watch you from this present day.

_nudging Michael._—Did you see that, Michael Byrne? Didn’t you hear me
telling you she’s flighty a while back since the change of the moon?
With her fussing for marriage, and she making whisper-talk with one man
or another man along by the road.

—Whist now, or she’ll knock the head of you the time she comes back.

—Ah, it’s a bad, wicked way the world is this night, if there’s a fine
air in it itself. You’d never have seen me, and I a young woman, making
whisper-talk with the like of him, and he the fearfullest old fellow
you’d see any place walking the world.

[_Sarah comes back quickly._

_calling out to her._—What is it you’re after whispering above with

_exultingly._—Lie down, and leave us in peace. _She whispers with

_poking out her pipe with a straw, sings_—

    She’d whisper with one, and she’d whisper with two—

_She breaks off coughing._—My singing voice is gone for this night,
Sarah Casey. _(She lights her pipe.)_ But if it’s flighty you are
itself, you’re a grand handsome woman, the glory of tinkers, the pride
of Wicklow, the Beauty of Ballinacree. I wouldn’t have you lying down
and you lonesome to sleep this night in a dark ditch when the spring is
coming in the trees; so let you sit down there by the big bough, and
I’ll be telling you the finest story you’d hear any place from Dundalk
to Ballinacree, with great queens in it, making themselves matches from
the start to the end, and they with shiny silks on them the length of
the day, and white shifts for the night.

_standing up with the tin can in his hand._—Let you go asleep, and not
have us destroyed.

_lying back sleepily._—Don’t mind him, Sarah Casey. Sit down now, and
I’ll be telling you a story would be fit to tell a woman the like of
you in the springtime of the year.

_taking the can from Michael, and tying it up in a piece of
sacking._—That’ll not be rusting now in the dews of night. I’ll put it
up in the ditch the way it will be handy in the morning; and now we’ve
that done, Michael Byrne, I’ll go along with you and welcome for Tim
Flaherty’s hens.

_[She puts the can in the ditch._

_sleepily._—I’ve a grand story of the great queens of Ireland with
white necks on them the like of Sarah Casey, and fine arms would hit
you a slap the way Sarah Casey would hit you.

_beckoning on the left._—Come along now, Michael, while she’s falling

[_He goes towards left. Mary sees that they are going, starts up
suddenly, and turns over on her hands and knees._

_piteously._—Where is it you’re going? Let you walk back here, and not
be leaving me lonesome when the night is fine.

Don’t be waking the world with your talk when we’re going up through
the back wood to get two of Tim Flaherty’s hens are roosting in the
ash-tree above at the well.

And it’s leaving me lone you are? Come back here, Sarah Casey. Come
back here, I’m saying; or if it’s off you must go, leave me the two
little coppers you have, the way I can walk up in a short while, and
get another pint for my sleep.

It’s too much you have taken. Let you stretch yourself out and take a
long sleep; for isn’t that the best thing any woman can do, and she an
old drinking heathen like yourself.

[_She and Michael go out left._

_standing up slowly._—It’s gone they are, and I with my feet that weak
under me you’d knock me down with a rush, and my head with a noise in
it the like of what you’d hear in a stream and it running between two
rocks and rain falling. _(She goes over to the ditch where the can is
tied in sacking, and takes it down.)_ What good am I this night, God
help me? What good are the grand stories I have when it’s few would
listen to an old woman, few but a girl maybe would be in great fear the
time her hour was come, or a little child wouldn’t be sleeping with the
hunger on a cold night? _(She takes the can from the sacking and fits
in three empty bottles and straw in its place, and ties them up.)_
Maybe the two of them have a good right to be walking out the little
short while they’d be young; but if they have itself, they’ll not keep
Mary Byrne from her full pint when the night’s fine, and there’s a dry
moon in the sky. _(She takes up the can, and puts the package back in
the ditch.)_ Jemmy Neill’s a decent lad; and he’ll give me a good drop
for the can; and maybe if I keep near the peelers to-morrow for the
first bit of the fair, herself won’t strike me at all; and if she does
itself, what’s a little stroke on your head beside sitting lonesome on
a fine night, hearing the dogs barking, and the bats squeaking, and you
saying over, it’s a short while only till you die.

[_She goes out singing “The night before Larry was stretched.”_



SCENE: _The same. Early morning. Sarah is washing her face in an old
bucket; then plaits her hair. Michael is tidying himself also. Mary
Byrne is asleep against the ditch._

_to Michael, with pleased excitement._—Go over, now, to the bundle
beyond, and you’ll find a kind of a red handkerchief to put upon your
neck, and a green one for myself.

_getting them._—You’re after spending more money on the like of them.
Well, it’s a power we’re losing this time, and we not gaining a thing
at all. _(With the handkerchief.)_ Is it them two?

It is, Michael. _(She takes one of them.)_ Let you tackle that one
round under your chin; and let you not forget to take your hat from
your head when we go up into the church. I asked Biddy Flynn below,
that’s after marrying her second man, and she told me it’s the like of
that they do.

[_Mary yawns, and turns over in her sleep._

_with anxiety._—There she is waking up on us, and I thinking we’d have
the job done before she’d know of it at all.

She’ll be crying out now, and making game of us, and saying it’s fools
we are surely.

I’ll send her to sleep again, or get her out of it one way or another;
for it’d be a bad case to have a divil’s scholar the like of her
turning the priest against us maybe with her godless talk.

_waking up, and looking at them with curiosity, blandly._—That’s fine
things you have on you, Sarah Casey; and it’s a great stir you’re
making this day, washing your face. I’m that used to the hammer, I
wouldn’t hear it at all, but washing is a rare thing, and you’re after
waking me up, and I having a great sleep in the sun.

[_She looks around cautiously at the bundle in which she has hidden the

_coaxingly._—Let you stretch out again for a sleep, Mary Byrne, for
it’ll be a middling time yet before we go to the fair.

_with suspicion._—That’s a sweet tongue you have, Sarah Casey; but if
sleep’s a grand thing, it’s a grand thing to be waking up a day the
like of this, when there’s a warm sun in it, and a kind air, and you’ll
hear the cuckoos singing and crying out on the top of the hills.

If it’s that gay you are, you’d have a right to walk down and see would
you get a few halfpence from the rich men do be driving early to the

When rich men do be driving early, it’s queer tempers they have, the
Lord forgive them; the way it’s little but bad words and swearing out
you’d get from them all.

_losing her temper and breaking out fiercely._—Then if you’ll neither
beg nor sleep, let you walk off from this place where you’re not
wanted, and not have us waiting for you maybe at the turn of day.

_rather uneasy, turning to Michael._—God help our spirits, Michael;
there she is again rousing cranky from the break of dawn. Oh! isn’t she
a terror since the moon did change? _(She gets up slowly.)_ And I’d
best be going forward to sell the gallon can.

[_She goes over and takes up the bundle._

_crying out angrily._—Leave that down, Mary Byrne. Oh! aren’t you the
scorn of women to think that you’d have that drouth and roguery on you
that you’d go drinking the can and the dew not dried from the grass?

_in a feigned tone of pacification, with the bundle still in her
hand._—It’s not a drouth but a heartburn I have this day, Sarah Casey,
so I’m going down to cool my gullet at the blessed well; and I’ll sell
the can to the parson’s daughter below, a harmless poor creature would
fill your hand with shillings for a brace of lies.

Leave down the tin can, Mary Byrne, for I hear the drouth upon your
tongue to-day.

There’s not a drink-house from this place to the fair, Sarah Casey; the
way you’ll find me below with the full price, and not a farthing gone.

_[She turns to go off left._

_jumping up, and picking up the hammer threateningly._—Put down that
can, I’m saying.

_looking at her for a moment in terror, and putting down the bundle in
the ditch._—Is it raving mad you’re going, Sarah Casey, and you the
pride of women to destroy the world?

_going up to her, and giving her a push off left._—I’ll show you if
it’s raving mad I am. Go on from this place, I’m saying, and be wary

_turning back after her._—If I go, I’ll be telling old and young you’re
a weathered heathen savage, Sarah Casey, the one did put down a head of
the parson’s cabbage to boil in the pot with your clothes _(the Priest
comes in behind her, on the left, and listens)_, and quenched the
flaming candles on the throne of God the time your shadow fell within
the pillars of the chapel door.

[_Sarah turns on her, and she springs round nearly into the Priest’s
arms. When she sees him, she claps her shawl over her mouth, and goes
up towards the ditch, laughing to herself._

_going to Sarah, half terrified at the language that he has
heard._—Well, aren’t you a fearful lot? I’m thinking it’s only humbug
you were making at the fall of night, and you won’t need me at all.

_with anger still in her voice._—Humbug is it! Would you be turning
back upon your spoken promise in the face of God?

_dubiously._—I’m thinking you were never christened, Sarah Casey; and
it would be a queer job to go dealing Christian sacraments unto the
like of you. _(Persuasively feeling in his pocket.)_ So it would be
best, maybe, I’d give you a shilling for to drink my health, and let
you walk on, and not trouble me at all.

That’s your talking, is it? If you don’t stand to your spoken word,
holy father, I’ll make my own complaint to the mitred bishop in the
face of all.

You’d do that!

I would surely, holy father, if I walked to the city of Dublin with
blood and blisters on my naked feet.

_uneasily scratching his ear._—I wish this day was done, Sarah Casey;
for I’m thinking it’s a risky thing getting mixed up in any matters
with the like of you.

Be hasty then, and you’ll have us done with before you’d think at all.

_giving in._—Well, maybe it’s right you are, and let you come up to the
chapel when you see me looking from the door.

[_He goes up into the chapel._

_calling after him._—We will, and God preserve you, holy father.

_coming down to them, speaking with amazement and consternation, but
without anger._—Going to the chapel! It’s at marriage you’re fooling
again, maybe? _(Sarah turns her back on her.)_ It was for that you were
washing your face, and you after sending me for porter at the fall of
night the way I’d drink a good half from the jug? _(Going round in
front of Sarah.)_ Is it at marriage you’re fooling again?

_triumphantly._—It is, Mary Byrne. I’ll be married now in a short
while; and from this day there will no one have a right to call me a
dirty name and I selling cans in Wicklow or Wexford or the city of
Dublin itself.

_turning to Michael._—And it’s yourself is wedding her, Michael Byrne?

_gloomily._—It is, God spare us.

_looks at Sarah for a moment, and then bursts out into a laugh of
derision._—Well, she’s a tight, hardy girl, and it’s no lie; but I
never knew till this day it was a black born fool I had for a son.
You’ll breed asses, I’ve heard them say, and poaching dogs, and
horses’d go licking the wind, but it’s a hard thing, God help me, to
breed sense in a son.

_gloomily._—If I didn’t marry her, she’d be walking off to Jaunting Jim
maybe at the fall of night; and it’s well yourself knows there isn’t
the like of her for getting money and selling songs to the men.

And you’re thinking it’s paying gold to his reverence would make a
woman stop when she’s a mind to go?

_angrily._—Let you not be destroying us with your talk when I’ve as
good a right to a decent marriage as any speckled female does be
sleeping in the black hovels above, would choke a mule.

_soothingly._—It’s as good a right you have surely, Sarah Casey, but
what good will it do? Is it putting that ring on your finger will keep
you from getting an aged woman and losing the fine face you have, or be
easing your pains, when it’s the grand ladies do be married in silk
dresses, with rings of gold, that do pass any woman with their share of
torment in the hour of birth, and do be paying the doctors in the city
of Dublin a great price at that time, the like of what you’d pay for a
good ass and a cart?

[_She sits down._

_puzzled._—Is that the truth?

_pleased with the point she has made._—Wouldn’t any know it’s the
truth? Ah, it’s a few short years you are yet in the world, Sarah
Casey, and it’s little or nothing at all maybe you know about it.

_vehement but uneasy._—What is it yourself knows of the fine ladies
when they wouldn’t let the like of you go near them at all?

If you do be drinking a little sup in one town and another town, it’s
soon you get great knowledge and a great sight into the world. You’ll
see men there, and women there, sitting up on the ends of barrels in
the dark night, and they making great talk would soon have the like of
you, Sarah Casey, as wise as a March hare.

_to Sarah._—That’s the truth she’s saying, and maybe if you’ve sense in
you at all, you’d have a right still to leave your fooling, and not be
wasting our gold.

_decisively._—If it’s wise or fool I am, I’ve made a good bargain and
I’ll stand to it now.

What is it he’s making you give?

The ten shillings in gold, and the tin can is above tied in the sack.

_looking at the bundle with surprise and dread._—The bit of gold and
the tin can, is it?

The half a sovereign, and the gallon can.

_scrambling to her feet quickly._—Well, I think I’ll be walking off the
road to the fair the way you won’t be destroying me going too fast on
the hills. _(She goes a few steps towards the left, then turns and
speaks to Sarah very persuasively._) Let you not take the can from the
sack, Sarah Casey; for the people is coming above would be making game
of you, and pointing their fingers if they seen you do the like of
that. Let you leave it safe in the bag, I’m saying, Sarah darling. It’s
that way will be best.

[_She goes towards left, and pauses for a moment, looking about her
with embarrassment._

_in a low voice._—What ails her at all?

_anxiously._—It’s real wicked she does be when you hear her speaking as
easy as that.

_to herself._—I’d be safer in the chapel, I’m thinking; for if she
caught me after on the road, maybe she would kill me then.

[_She comes hobbling back towards the right._

Where is it you’re going? It isn’t that way we’ll be walking to the

I’m going up into the chapel to give you my blessing and hear the
priest saying his prayers. It’s a lonesome road is running below to
Greenane, and a woman would never know the things might happen her and
she walking single in a lonesome place.

[_As she reaches the chapel-gate, the Priest comes to it in his

_crying out._—Come along now. It is the whole day you’d keep me here
saying my prayers, and I getting my death with not a bit in my stomach,
and my breakfast in ruins, and the Lord Bishop maybe driving on the
road to-day?

We’re coming now, holy father.

Give me the bit of gold into my hand.

It’s here, holy father.

[_She gives it to him. Michael takes the bundle from the ditch and
brings it over, standing a little behind Sarah. He feels the bundle,
and looks at Mary with a meaning look._

_looking at the gold._—It’s a good one, I’m thinking, wherever you got
it. And where is the can?

_taking the bundle._—We have it here in a bit of clean sack, your
reverence. We tied it up in the inside of that to keep it from rusting
in the dews of night, and let you not open it now or you’ll have the
people making game of us and telling the story on us, east and west to
the butt of the hills.

_taking the bundle._—Give it here into my hand, Sarah Casey. What is it
any person would think of a tinker making a can.

[_He begins opening the bundle._

It’s a fine can, your reverence. for if it’s poor simple people we are,
it’s fine cans we can make, and himself, God help him, is a great man
surely at the trade.

[_Priest opens the bundle; the three empty bottles fall out._

Glory to the saints of joy!

Did ever any man see the like of that? To think you’d be putting deceit
on me, and telling lies to me, and I going to marry you for a little
sum wouldn’t marry a child.

_crestfallen and astonished._—It’s the divil did it, your reverence,
and I wouldn’t tell you a lie. _(Raising her hands.)_ May the Lord
Almighty strike me dead if the divil isn’t after hooshing the tin can
from the bag.

_vehemently._—Go along now, and don’t be swearing your lies. Go along
now, and let you not be thinking I’m big fool enough to believe the
like of that, when it’s after selling it you are or making a swap for
drink of it, maybe, in the darkness of the night.

_in a peacemaking voice, putting her hand on the Priest’s left
arm._—She wouldn’t do the like of that, your reverence, when she hasn’t
a decent standing drouth on her at all; and she’s setting great store
on her marriage the way you’d have a right to be taking her easy, and
not minding the can. What differ would an empty can make with a fine,
rich, hardy man the like of you?

_imploringly._—Marry us, your reverence, for the ten shillings in gold,
and we’ll make you a grand can in the evening—a can would be fit to
carry water for the holy man of God. Marry us now and I’ll be saying
fine prayers for you, morning and night, if it’d be raining itself, and
it’d be in two black pools I’d be setting my knees.

_loudly._—It’s a wicked, thieving, lying, scheming lot you are, the
pack of you. Let you walk off now and take every stinking rag you have
there from the ditch.

_putting her shawl over her head._—Marry her, your reverence, for the
love of God, for there’ll be queer doings below if you send her off the
like of that and she swearing crazy on the road.

_angrily._—It’s the truth she’s saying; for it’s herself, I’m thinking,
is after swapping the tin can for a pint, the time she was raging mad
with the drouth, and ourselves above walking the hill.

_crying out with indignation._—Have you no shame, Sarah Casey, to tell
lies unto a holy man?

_to Mary, working herself into a rage._—It’s making game of me you’d
be, and putting a fool’s head on me in the face of the world; but if
you were thinking to be mighty cute walking off, or going up to hide in
the church, I’ve got you this time, and you’ll not run from me now.

_She seizes up one of the bottles._

_hiding behind the priest._—Keep her off, your reverence, keep her off
for the love of the Almighty God. What at all would the Lord Bishop say
if he found me here lying with my head broken across, or the two of
yous maybe digging a bloody grave for me at the door of the church?

_waving Sarah off._—Go along, Sarah Casey. Would you be doing murder at
my feet? Go along from me now, and wasn’t I a big fool to have to do
with you when it’s nothing but distraction and torment I get from the
kindness of my heart?

_shouting._—I’ve bet a power of strong lads east and west through the
world, and are you thinking I’d turn back from a priest? Leave the road
now, or maybe I would strike yourself.

You would not, Sarah Casey. I’ve no fear for the lot of you; but let
you walk off, I’m saying, and not be coming where you’ve no business,
and screeching tumult and murder at the doorway of the church.

I’ll not go a step till I have her head broke, or till I’m wed with
himself. If you want to get shut of us, let you marry us now, for I’m
thinking the ten shillings in gold is a good price for the like of you,
and you near burst with the fat.

I wouldn’t have you coming in on me and soiling my church; for there’s
nothing at all, I’m thinking, would keep the like of you from hell.
_(He throws down the ten shillings on the ground.)_ Gather up your gold
now, and begone from my sight, for if ever I set an eye on you again
you’ll hear me telling the peelers who it was stole the black ass
belonging to Philly O’Cullen, and whose hay it is the grey ass does be

You’d do that?

I would, surely.

If you do, you’ll be getting all the tinkers from Wicklow and Wexford,
and the County Meath, to put up block tin in the place of glass to
shield your windows where you do be looking out and blinking at the
girls. It’s hard set you’ll be that time, I’m telling you, to fill the
depth of your belly the long days of Lent; for we wouldn’t leave a
laying pullet in your yard at all.

_losing his temper finally._—Go on, now, or I’ll send the Lords of
Justice a dated story of your villainies—burning, stealing, robbing,
raping to this mortal day. Go on now, I’m saying, if you’d run from
Kilmainham or the rope itself.

_taking off his coat._—Is it run from the like of you, holy father? Go
up to your own shanty, or I’ll beat you with the ass’s reins till the
world would hear you roaring from this place to the coast of Clare.

Is it lift your hand upon myself when the Lord would blight your
members if you’d touch me now? Go on from this.

[_He gives him a shove._

Blight me is it? Take it then, your reverence, and God help you so.

[_He runs at him with the reins._

_runs up to ditch crying out._—There are the peelers passing by the
grace of God—hey, below!

_clapping her hand over his mouth._—Knock him down on the road; they
didn’t hear him at all.

[_Michael pulls him down._

Gag his jaws.

Stuff the sacking in his teeth.

[_They gag him with the sack that had the can in it._

Tie the bag around his head, and if the peelers come, we’ll put him
head-first in the boghole is beyond the ditch.

[_They tie him up in some sacking._

_to Mary._—Keep him quiet, and the rags tight on him for fear he’d
screech. _(He goes back to their camp.)_ Hurry with the things, Sarah
Casey. The peelers aren’t coming this way, and maybe we’ll get off from
them now.

[_They bundle the things together in wild haste, the priest wriggling
and struggling about on the ground, with old Mary trying to keep him

_patting his head._—Be quiet, your reverence. What is it ails you, with
your wrigglings now? Is it choking maybe? _(She puts her hand under the
sack, and feels his mouth, patting him on the back.)_ It’s only letting
on you are, holy father, for your nose is blowing back and forward as
easy as an east wind on an April day. _(In a soothing voice.)_ There
now, holy father, let you stay easy, I’m telling you, and learn a
little sense and patience, the way you’ll not be so airy again going to
rob poor sinners of their scraps of gold. _(He gets quieter.)_ That’s a
good boy you are now, your reverence, and let you not be uneasy, for we
wouldn’t hurt you at all. It’s sick and sorry we are to tease you; but
what did you want meddling with the like of us, when it’s a long time
we are going our own ways—father and son, and his son after him, or
mother and daughter, and her own daughter again—and it’s little need we
ever had of going up into a church and swearing—I’m told there’s
swearing with it—a word no man would believe, or with drawing rings on
our fingers, would be cutting our skins maybe when we’d be taking the
ass from the shafts, and pulling the straps the time they’d be slippy
with going around beneath the heavens in rains falling.

_who has finished bundling up the things, comes over to Sarah._—We’re
fixed now; and I have a mind to run him in a boghole the way he’ll not
be tattling to the peelers of our games to-day.

You’d have a right too, I’m thinking.

_soothingly._—Let you not be rough with him, Sarah Casey, and he after
drinking his sup of porter with us at the fall of night. Maybe he’d
swear a mighty oath he wouldn’t harm us, and then we’d safer loose him;
for if we went to drown him, they’d maybe hang the batch of us, man and
child and woman, and the ass itself.

What would he care for an oath?

Don’t you know his like do live in terror of the wrath of God?
_(Putting her mouth to the Priest’s ear in the sacking.)_ Would you
swear an oath, holy father, to leave us in our freedom, and not talk at
all? _(Priest nods in sacking.)_ Didn’t I tell you? Look at the poor
fellow nodding his head off in the bias of the sacks. Strip them off
from him, and he’ll be easy now.

_as if speaking to a horse._—Hold up, holy father.

[_He pulls the sacking off, and shows the priest with his hair on end.
They free his mouth._

Hold him till he swears.

_in a faint voice._—I swear surely. If you let me go in peace, I’ll not
inform against you or say a thing at all, and may God forgive me for
giving heed unto your like to-day.

_puts the ring on his finger._—There’s the ring, holy father, to keep
you minding of your oath until the end of time; for my heart’s scalded
with your fooling; and it’ll be a long day till I go making talk of
marriage or the like of that.

_complacently, standing up slowly._—She’s vexed now, your reverence;
and let you not mind her at all, for she’s right surely, and it’s
little need we ever had of the like of you to get us our bit to eat,
and our bit to drink, and our time of love when we were young men and
women, and were fine to look at.

Hurry on now. He’s a great man to have kept us from fooling our gold;
and we’ll have a great time drinking that bit with the trampers on the
green of Clash.

[_They gather up their things. The priest stands up._

_lifting up his hand._—I’ve sworn not to call the hand of man upon your
crimes to-day; but I haven’t sworn I wouldn’t call the fire of heaven
from the hand of the Almighty God.

[_He begins saying a Latin malediction in a loud ecclesiastical voice._

There’s an old villain.

_together._—Run, run. Run for your lives.

[_They rush out, leaving the Priest master of the situation._


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