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Title: The Well of the Saints: A Comedy in Three Acts
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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 A Comedy in Three Acts 

 By J. M. Synge 



Scene: Some lonely mountainous district in the east of Ireland one or
more centuries ago.

THE WELL OF THE SAINTS was first produced in the Abbey Theatre in
February, 1905, by the Irish National Theatre Society, under the
direction of W. G. Fay, and with the following cast.

     Martin Doul  W. G. FAY Mary Doul    EMMA VERNON Timmy       
     SHIUBHLAIGH Mat Simon    P. MAC SHIUBHLAIGH The Saint    F. J. FAY

Persons in the Play

MARTIN DOUL, weather-beaten, blind beggar
MARY DOUL, his wife, weather-beaten, ugly woman, blind also, nearly
TIMMY, a middle-aged, almost elderly, but vigorous smith
MOLLY BYRNE, fine-looking girl with fair hair
BRIDE, another handsome girl
THE SAINT, a wandering friar



[_Roadside with big stones, etc., on the right; low loose wall at back
with gap near centre; at left, ruined doorway of church with bushes
beside it. Martin Doul and Mary Doul grope in on left and pass over to
stones on right, where they sit._]

What place are we now, Martin Doul?

Passing the gap.

_raising her head._ — The length of that! Well, the sun’s getting warm
this day if it’s late autumn itself.

_putting out his hands in sun._ — What way wouldn’t it be warm and it
getting high up in the south? You were that length plaiting your yellow
hair you have the morning lost on us, and the people are after passing
to the fair of Clash.

It isn’t going to the fair, the time they do be driving their cattle
and they with a litter of pigs maybe squealing in their carts, they’d
give us a thing at all. (_She sits down._) It’s well you know that, but
you must be talking.

_sitting down beside her and beginning to shred rushes she gives him._
— If I didn’t talk I’d be destroyed in a short while listening to the
clack you do be making, for you’ve a queer cracked voice, the Lord have
mercy on you, if it’s fine to look on you are itself.

Who wouldn’t have a cracked voice sitting out all the year in the rain
falling? It’s a bad life for the voice, Martin Doul, though I’ve heard
tell there isn’t anything like the wet south wind does be blowing upon
us for keeping a white beautiful skin — the like of my skin — on your
neck and on your brows, and there isn’t anything at all like a fine
skin for putting splendour on a woman.

_teasingly, but with good humour._ — I do be thinking odd times we
don’t know rightly what way you have your splendour, or asking myself,
maybe, if you have it at all, for the time I was a young lad, and had
fine sight, it was the ones with sweet voices were the best in face.

Let you not be making the like of that talk when you’ve heard Timmy the
smith, and Mat Simon, and Patch Ruadh, and a power besides saying fine
things of my face, and you know rightly it was “the beautiful dark
woman” they did call me in Ballinatone.

_as before._ — If it was itself I heard Molly Byrne saying at the fall
of night it was little more than a fright you were.

_sharply._ — She was jealous, God forgive her, because Timmy the smith
was after praising my hair.

_with mock irony._ — Jealous!

Ay, jealous, Martin Doul; and if she wasn’t itself, the young and silly
do be always making game of them that’s dark, and they’d think it a
fine thing if they had us deceived, the way we wouldn’t know we were so
fine-looking at all.

[_She puts her hand to her face with a complacent gesture._]

_a little plaintively._ — I do be thinking in the long nights it’d be a
grand thing if we could see ourselves for one hour, or a minute itself,
the way we’d know surely we were the finest man and the finest woman of
the seven counties of the east (_bitterly_) and then the seeing rabble
below might be destroying their souls telling bad lies, and we’d never
heed a thing they’d say.

If you weren’t a big fool you wouldn’t heed them this hour, Martin
Doul, for they’re a bad lot those that have their sight, and they do
have great joy, the time they do be seeing a grand thing, to let on
they don’t see it at all, and to be telling fool’s lies, the like of
what Molly Byrne was telling to yourself.

If it’s lies she does be telling she’s a sweet, beautiful voice you’d
never tire to be hearing, if it was only the pig she’d be calling, or
crying out in the long grass, maybe after her hens. (_Speaking
pensively._) It should be a fine, soft, rounded woman, I’m thinking,
would have a voice the like of that.

_sharply again, scandalized._ — Let you not be minding if it’s flat or
rounded she is; for she’s a flighty, foolish woman, you’ll hear when
you’re off a long way, and she making a great noise and laughing at the

Isn’t laughing a nice thing the time a woman’s young?

_bitterly._ — A nice thing is it? A nice thing to hear a woman making a
loud braying laugh the like of that? Ah, she’s a great one for drawing
the men, and you’ll hear Timmy himself, the time he does be sitting in
his forge, getting mighty fussy if she’ll come walking from Grianan,
the way you’ll hear his breath going, and he wringing his hands.

_slightly piqued._ — I’ve heard him say a power of times it’s nothing
at all she is when you see her at the side of you, and yet I never
heard any man’s breath getting uneasy the time he’d be looking on

I’m not the like of the girls do be running round on the roads,
swinging their legs, and they with their necks out looking on the
men.... Ah, there’s a power of villainy walking the world, Martin Doul,
among them that do be gadding around with their gaping eyes, and their
sweet words, and they with no sense in them at all.

_sadly._ — It’s the truth, maybe, and yet I’m told it’s a grand thing
to see a young girl walking the road.

You’d be as bad as the rest of them if you had your sight, and I did
well, surely, not to marry a seeing man — it’s scores would have had me
and welcome — for the seeing is a queer lot, and you’d never know the
thing they’d do.

[_A moment’s pause._]

_listening._ — There’s some one coming on the road.

Let you put the pith away out of their sight, or they’ll be picking it
out with the spying eyes they have, and saying it’s rich we are, and
not sparing us a thing at all.

[_They bundle away the rushes. Timmy the smith comes in on left._]

_with a begging voice._ — Leave a bit of silver for blind Martin, your
honour. Leave a bit of silver, or a penny copper itself, and we’ll be
praying the Lord to bless you and you going the way.

_stopping before them._ — And you letting on a while back you knew my

[_He sits down._]

_with his natural voice._ — I know it when Molly Byrne’s walking in
front, or when she’s two perches, maybe, lagging behind; but it’s few
times I’ve heard you walking up the like of that, as if you’d met a
thing wasn’t right and you coming on the road.

_hot and breathless, wiping his face._ — You’ve good ears, God bless
you, if you’re a liar itself; for I’m after walking up in great haste
from hearing wonders in the fair.

_rather contemptuously._ — You’re always hearing queer wonderful
things, and the lot of them nothing at all; but I’m thinking, this
time, it’s a strange thing surely you’d be walking up before the turn
of day, and not waiting below to look on them lepping, or dancing, or
playing shows on the green of Clash.

_huffed._ — I was coming to tell you it’s in this place there’d be a
bigger wonder done in a short while (_Martin Doul stops working_) than
was ever done on the green of Clash, or the width of Leinster itself;
but you’re thinking, maybe, you’re too cute a little fellow to be
minding me at all.

_amused, but incredulous._ — There’ll be wonders in this place, is it?

Here at the crossing of the roads.

I never heard tell of anything to happen in this place since the night
they killed the old fellow going home with his gold, the Lord have
mercy on him, and threw down his corpse into the bog. Let them not be
doing the like of that this night, for it’s ourselves have a right to
the crossing roads, and we don’t want any of your bad tricks, or your
wonders either, for it’s wonder enough we are ourselves.

If I’d a mind I’d be telling you of a real wonder this day, and the way
you’ll be having a great joy, maybe, you’re not thinking on at all.

_interested._ — Are they putting up a still behind in the rocks? It’d
be a grand thing if I’d sup handy the way I wouldn’t be destroying
myself groping up across the bogs in the rain falling.

_still moodily._ — It’s not a still they’re bringing, or the like of it

_persuasively, to Timmy._ — Maybe they’re hanging a thief, above at the
bit of a tree. I’m told it’s a great sight to see a man hanging by his
neck; but what joy would that be to ourselves, and we not seeing it at

_more pleasantly._ — They’re hanging no one this day, Mary Doul, and
yet, with the help of God, you’ll see a power hanged before you die.

Well you’ve queer hum-bugging talk.... What way would I see a power
hanged, and I a dark woman since the seventh year of my age?

Did ever you hear tell of a place across a bit of the sea, where there
is an island, and the grave of the four beautiful saints?

I’ve heard people have walked round from the west and they speaking of

_impressively._ — There’s a green ferny well, I’m told, behind of that
place, and if you put a drop of the water out of it on the eyes of a
blind man, you’ll make him see as well as any person is walking the

_with excitement._ — Is that the truth, Timmy? I’m thinking you’re
telling a lie.

_gruffly._ — That’s the truth, Martin Doul, and you may believe it now,
for you’re after believing a power of things weren’t as likely at all.

Maybe we could send us a young lad to bring us the water. I could wash
a naggin bottle in the morning, and I’m thinking Patch Ruadh would go
for it, if we gave him a good drink, and the bit of money we have hid
in the thatch.

It’d be no good to be sending a sinful man the like of ourselves, for
I’m told the holiness of the water does be getting soiled with the
villainy of your heart, the time you’d be carrying it, and you looking
round on the girls, maybe, or drinking a small sup at a still.

_with disappointment._ — It’d be a long terrible way to be walking
ourselves, and I’m thinking that’s a wonder will bring small joy to us
at all.

_turning on him impatiently._ — What is it you want with your walking?
It’s as deaf as blind you’re growing if you’re not after hearing me say
it’s in this place the wonder would be done.

_with a flash of anger._ — If it is can’t you open the big slobbering
mouth you have and say what way it’ll be done, and not be making
blather till the fall of night.

_jumping up._ — I’ll be going on now (_Mary Doul rises_), and not
wasting time talking civil talk with the like of you.

_standing up, disguising her impatience._ — Let you come here to me,
Timmy, and not be minding him at all. (_Timmy stops, and she gropes up
to him and takes him by the coat)._ You’re not huffy with myself, and
let you tell me the whole story and don’t be fooling me more.... Is it
yourself has brought us the water?

It is not, surely.

Then tell us your wonder, Timmy.... What person’ll bring it at all?

_relenting._ — It’s a fine holy man will bring it, a saint of the
Almighty God.

_overawed._ — A saint is it?

Ay, a fine saint, who’s going round through the churches of Ireland,
with a long cloak on him, and naked feet, for he’s brought a sup of the
water slung at his side, and, with the like of him, any little drop is
enough to cure the dying, or to make the blind see as clear as the gray
hawks do be high up, on a still day, sailing the sky.

_feeling for his stick._ — What place is he, Timmy? I’ll be walking to
him now.

Let you stay quiet, Martin. He’s straying around saying prayers at the
churches and high crosses, between this place and the hills, and he
with a great crowd going behind — for it’s fine prayers he does be
saying, and fasting with it, till he’s as thin as one of the empty
rushes you have there on your knee; then he’ll be coming after to this
place to cure the two of you — we’re after telling him the way you are
— and to say his prayers in the church.

_turning suddenly to Mary Doul._ — And we’ll be seeing ourselves this
day. Oh, glory be to God, is it true surely?

_very pleased, to Timmy._ — Maybe I’d have time to walk down and get
the big shawl I have below, for I do look my best, I’ve heard them say,
when I’m dressed up with that thing on my head.

You’d have time surely.

_listening._ — Whisht now.... I hear people again coming by the stream.

_looking out left, puzzled._ — It’s the young girls I left walking
after the Saint.... They’re coming now (_goes up to entrance_) carrying
things in their hands, and they walking as easy as you’d see a child
walk who’d have a dozen eggs hid in her bib.

_listening._ — That’s Molly Byrne, I’m thinking.

[_Molly Byrne and Bride come on left and cross to Martin Doul, carrying
water-can, Saint’s bell, and cloak._]

_volubly._ — God bless you, Martin. I’ve holy water here, from the
grave of the four saints of the west, will have you cured in a short
while and seeing like ourselves.

_crosses to Molly, interrupting her._ — He’s heard that. God help you.
But where at all is the Saint, and what way is he after trusting the
holy water with the likes of you?

He was afeard to go a far way with the clouds is coming beyond, so he’s
gone up now through the thick woods to say a prayer at the crosses of
Grianan, and he’s coming on this road to the church.

_still astonished._ — And he’s after leaving the holy water with the
two of you? It’s a wonder, surely.

[_Comes down left a little._]

The lads told him no person could carry them things through the briars,
and steep, slippy-feeling rocks he’ll be climbing above, so he looked
round then, and gave the water, and his big cloak, and his bell to the
two of us, for young girls, says he, are the cleanest holy people you’d
see walking the world.

[_Mary Doul goes near seat._]

_sits down, laughing to herself._ — Well, the Saint’s a simple fellow,
and it’s no lie.

_leaning forward, holding out his hands._ — Let you give me the water
in my hand, Molly Byrne, the way I’ll know you have it surely.

_giving it to him._ — Wonders is queer things, and maybe it’d cure you,
and you holding it alone.

_looking round._ — It does not, Molly. I’m not seeing at all. (_He
shakes the can._) There’s a small sup only. Well, isn’t it a great
wonder the little trifling thing would bring seeing to the blind, and
be showing us the big women and the young girls, and all the fine
things is walking the world.

[_He feels for Mary Doul and gives her the can._]

_shaking it._ — Well, glory be to God.

_pointing to Bride._ — And what is it herself has, making sounds in her

_crossing to Martin Doul._ — It’s the Saint’s bell; you’ll hear him
ringing out the time he’ll be going up some place, to be saying his

[_Martin Doul holds out his hand; she gives it to him._]

_ringing it._ — It’s a sweet, beautiful sound.

You’d know, I’m thinking, by the little silvery voice of it, a fasting
holy man was after carrying it a great way at his side.

[_Bride crosses a little right behind Martin Doul._]

_unfolding Saint’s cloak._ — Let you stand up now, Martin Doul, till I
put his big cloak on you. (_Martin Doul rises, comes forward, centre a
little._) The way we’d see how you’d look, and you a saint of the
Almighty God.

_standing up, a little diffidently._ — I’ve heard the priests a power
of times making great talk and praises of the beauty of the saints.

[_Molly Byrne slips cloak round him._]

_uneasily._ — You’d have a right to be leaving him alone, Molly. What
would the Saint say if he seen you making game with his cloak?

_recklessly._ — How would he see us, and he saying prayers in the wood?
(_She turns Martin Doul round._) Isn’t that a fine holy-looking saint,
Timmy the smith? (_Laughing foolishly._) There’s a grand, handsome
fellow, Mary Doul; and if you seen him now you’d be as proud, I’m
thinking, as the archangels below, fell out with the Almighty God.

_with quiet confidence going to Martin Doul and feeling his cloak._ —
It’s proud we’ll be this day, surely.

[_Martin Doul is still ringing._]

_to Martin Doul._ — Would you think well to be all your life walking
round the like of that, Martin Doul, and you bell-ringing with the
saints of God?

_turning on her, fiercely._ — How would he be bell-ringing with the
saints of God and he wedded with myself?

It’s the truth she’s saying, and if bell-ringing is a fine life, yet
I’m thinking, maybe, it’s better I am wedded with the beautiful dark
woman of Ballinatone.

_scornfully._ — You’re thinking that, God help you; but it’s little you
know of her at all.

It’s little surely, and I’m destroyed this day waiting to look upon her

_awkwardly._ — It’s well you know the way she is; for the like of you
do have great knowledge in the feeling of your hands.

_still feeling the cloak._ — We do, maybe. Yet it’s little I know of
faces, or of fine beautiful cloaks, for it’s few cloaks I’ve had my
hand to, and few faces (_plaintively_); for the young girls is mighty
shy, Timmy the smith and it isn’t much they heed me, though they do be
saying I’m a handsome man.

_mockingly, with good humour._ — Isn’t it a queer thing the voice he
puts on him, when you hear him talking of the skinny-looking girls, and
he married with a woman he’s heard called the wonder of the western

_pityingly._ — The two of you will see a great wonder this day, and
it’s no lie.

I’ve heard tell her yellow hair, and her white skin, and her big eyes
are a wonder, surely.

_who has looked out left._ — Here’s the saint coming from the selvage
of the wood.... Strip the cloak from him, Molly, or he’ll be seeing it

_hastily to Bride._ — Take the bell and put yourself by the stones.
(_To Martin Doul._) Will you hold your head up till I loosen the cloak?
(_She pulls off the cloak and throws it over her arm. Then she pushes
Martin Doul over and stands him beside Mary Doul._) Stand there now,
quiet, and let you not be saying a word.

[_She and Bride stand a little on their left, demurely, with bell,
etc., in their hands._]

_nervously arranging his clothes._ — Will he mind the way we are, and
not tidied or washed cleanly at all?

He’ll not see what way you are.... He’d walk by the finest woman in
Ireland, I’m thinking, and not trouble to raise his two eyes to look
upon her face.... Whisht!

[_The Saint comes left, with crowd._]

Are these the two poor people?

_officiously._ — They are, holy father; they do be always sitting here
at the crossing of the roads, asking a bit of copper from them that do
pass, or stripping rushes for lights, and they not mournful at all, but
talking out straight with a full voice, and making game with them that
likes it.

_to Martin Doul and Mary Doul._ — It’s a hard life you’ve had not
seeing sun or moon, or the holy priests itself praying to the Lord, but
it’s the like of you who are brave in a bad time will make a fine use
of the gift of sight the Almighty God will bring to you today. (_He
takes his cloak and puts it about him._) It’s on a bare starving rock
that there’s the grave of the four beauties of God, the way it’s little
wonder, I’m thinking, if it’s with bare starving people the water
should be used. (_He takes the water and bell and slings them round his
shoulders._) So it’s to the like of yourselves I do be going, who are
wrinkled and poor, a thing rich men would hardly look at at all, but
would throw a coin to or a crust of bread.

_moving uneasily._ — When they look on herself, who is a fine woman.

_shaking him._ — Whisht now, and be listening to the Saint.

_looks at them a moment, continues._ — If it’s raggy and dirty you are
itself, I’m saying, the Almighty God isn’t at all like the rich men of
Ireland; and, with the power of the water I’m after bringing in a
little curagh into Cashla Bay, He’ll have pity on you, and put sight
into your eyes.

_taking off his hat._ — I’m ready now, holy father.

_taking him by the hand._ — I’ll cure you first, and then I’ll come for
your wife. We’ll go up now into the church, for I must say a prayer to
the Lord. (_To Mary Doul, as he moves off._) And let you be making your
mind still and saying praises in your heart, for it’s a great wonderful
thing when the power of the Lord of the world is brought down upon your

_pressing after him._ — Come now till we watch.

Come, Timmy.

_waving them back._ — Stay back where you are, for I’m not wanting a
big crowd making whispers in the church. Stay back there, I’m saying,
and you’d do well to be thinking on the way sin has brought blindness
to the world, and to be saying a prayer for your own sakes against
false prophets and heathens, and the words of women and smiths, and all
knowledge that would soil the soul or the body of a man.

[_People shrink back. He goes into church. Mary Doul gropes half-way
towards the door and kneels near path. People form a group at right._]

Isn’t it a fine, beautiful voice he has, and he a fine, brave man if it
wasn’t for the fasting?

Did you watch him moving his hands?

It’d be a fine thing if some one in this place could pray the like of
him, for I’m thinking the water from our own blessed well would do
rightly if a man knew the way to be saying prayers, and then there’d be
no call to be bringing water from that wild place, where, I’m told,
there are no decent houses, or fine-looking people at all.

_who is looking in at door from right._ — Look at the great trembling
Martin has shaking him, and he on his knees.

_anxiously._ — God help him... What will he be doing when he sees his
wife this day? I’m thinking it was bad work we did when we let on she
was fine-looking, and not a wrinkled, wizened hag the way she is.

Why would he be vexed, and we after giving him great joy and pride, the
time he was dark?

_sitting down in Mary Doul’s seat and tidying her hair._ — If it’s
vexed he is itself, he’ll have other things now to think on as well as
his wife; and what does any man care for a wife, when it’s two weeks or
three, he is looking on her face?

That’s the truth now, Molly, and it’s more joy dark Martin got from the
lies we told of that hag is kneeling by the path than your own man will
get from you, day or night, and he living at your side.

_defiantly._ — Let you not be talking, Mat Simon, for it’s not yourself
will be my man, though you’d be crowing and singing fine songs if you’d
that hope in you at all.

_shocked, to Molly Byrne._ — Let you not be raising your voice when the
Saint’s above at his prayers.

_crying out._ — Whisht.... Whisht.... I’m thinking he’s cured.

_crying out in the church._ — Oh, glory be to God....

_solemnly._ Laus Patri sit et Filio cum Spiritu Paraclito Qui Suae dono
gratiae misertus est Hiberniae....

_ecstatically._ — Oh, glory be to God, I see now surely.... I see the
walls of the church, and the green bits of ferns in them, and yourself,
holy father, and the great width of the sky.

[_He runs out half-foolish with joy, and comes past Mary Doul as she
scrambles to her feet, drawing a little away from her as he goes by._]

_to the others._ — He doesn’t know her at all.

[_The Saint comes out behind Martin Doul, and leads Mary Doul into the
church. Martin Doul comes on to the People. The men are between him and
the Girls; he verifies his position with his stick._]

_crying out joyfully._ — That’s Timmy, I know Timmy by the black of his
head.... That’s Mat Simon, I know Mat by the length of his legs....
That should be Patch Ruadh, with the gamey eyes in him, and the fiery
hair. (_He sees Molly Byrne on Mary Doul’s seat, and his voice changes
completely._) Oh, it was no lie they told me, Mary Doul. Oh, glory to
God and the seven saints I didn’t die and not see you at all. The
blessing of God on the water, and the feet carried it round through the
land. The blessing of God on this day, and them that brought me the
Saint, for it’s grand hair you have (_she lowers her head a little
confused_), and soft skin, and eyes would make the saints, if they were
dark awhile and seeing again, fall down out of the sky. (_He goes
nearer to her._) Hold up your head, Mary, the way I’ll see it’s richer
I am than the great kings of the east. Hold up your head, I’m saying,
for it’s soon you’ll be seeing me, and I not a bad one at all.

[_He touches her and she starts up._]

Let you keep away from me, and not be soiling my chin.

[_People laugh heartily._]

_bewildered._ — It’s Molly’s voice you have.

Why wouldn’t I have my own voice? Do you think I’m a ghost?

Which of you all is herself? (_He goes up to Bride._) Is it you is Mary
Doul? I’m thinking you’re more the like of what they said (_peering at
her._) For you’ve yellow hair, and white skin, and it’s the smell of my
own turf is rising from your shawl.

[_He catches her shawl._]

_pulling away her shawl._ — I’m not your wife, and let you get out of
my way.

[_The People laugh again._]

_with misgiving, to another Girl._ — Is it yourself it is? You’re not
so fine-looking, but I’m thinking you’d do, with the grand nose you
have, and your nice hands and your feet.

_scornfully._ — I never seen any person that took me for blind, and a
seeing woman, I’m thinking, would never wed the like of you.

[_She turns away, and the People laugh once more, drawing back a little
and leaving him on their left._]

_jeeringly._ — Try again, Martin, try again, and you’ll be finding her

_passionately._ — Where is it you have her hidden away? Isn’t it a
black shame for a drove of pitiful beasts the like of you to be making
game of me, and putting a fool’s head on me the grand day of my life?
Ah, you’re thinking you’re a fine lot, with your giggling, weeping
eyes, a fine lot to be making game of myself and the woman I’ve heard
called the great wonder of the west.

[_During this speech, which he gives with his back towards the church,
Mary Doul has come out with her sight cured, and come down towards the
right with a silly simpering smile, till she is a little behind Martin

_when he pauses._ — Which of you is Martin Doul?

_wheeling round._ — It’s her voice surely.

[_They stare at each other blankly._]

_to Martin Doul._ — Go up now and take her under the chin and be
speaking the way you spoke to myself.

_in a low voice, with intensity._ — If I speak now, I’ll speak hard to
the two of you.

_to Mary Doul._ — You’re not saying a word, Mary. What is it you think
of himself, with the fat legs on him, and the little neck like a ram?

I’m thinking it’s a poor thing when the Lord God gives you sight and
puts the like of that man in your way.

It’s on your two knees you should be thanking the Lord God you’re not
looking on yourself, for if it was yourself you seen you’d be running
round in a short while like the old screeching mad-woman is running
round in the glen.

_beginning to realize herself._ — If I’m not so fine as some of them
said, I have my hair, and big eyes, and my white skin.

_breaking out into a passionate cry._ — Your hair, and your big eyes,
is it?... I’m telling you there isn’t a wisp on any gray mare on the
ridge of the world isn’t finer than the dirty twist on your head. There
isn’t two eyes in any starving sow isn’t finer than the eyes you were
calling blue like the sea.

_interrupting him._ — It’s the devil cured you this day with your
talking of sows; it’s the devil cured you this day, I’m saying, and
drove you crazy with lies.

Isn’t it yourself is after playing lies on me, ten years, in the day
and in the night; but what is that to you now the Lord God has given
eyes to me, the way I see you an old wizendy hag, was never fit to rear
a child to me itself.

I wouldn’t rear a crumpled whelp the like of you. It’s many a woman is
married with finer than yourself should be praising God if she’s no
child, and isn’t loading the earth with things would make the heavens
lonesome above, and they scaring the larks, and the crows, and the
angels passing in the sky.

Go on now to be seeking a lonesome place where the earth can hide you
away; go on now, I’m saying, or you’ll be having men and women with
their knees bled, and they screaming to God for a holy water would
darken their sight, for there’s no man but would liefer be blind a
hundred years, or a thousand itself, than to be looking on your like.

_raising her stick._ — Maybe if I hit you a strong blow you’d be blind
again, and having what you want.

[_The Saint is seen in the church door with his head bent in prayer._]

_raising his stick and driving Mary Doul back towards left._ — Let you
keep off from me now if you wouldn’t have me strike out the little
handful of brains you have about on the road.

[_He is going to strike her, but Timmy catches him by the arm._]

Have you no shame to be making a great row, and the Saint above saying
his prayers?

What is it I care for the like of him? (_Struggling to free himself_).
Let me hit her one good one, for the love of the Almighty God, and I’ll
be quiet after till I die.

_shaking him._ — Will you whisht, I’m saying.

_coming forward, centre._ — Are their minds troubled with joy, or is
their sight uncertain, the way it does often be the day a person is

It’s too certain their sight is, holy father; and they’re after making
a great fight, because they’re a pair of pitiful shows.

_coming between them._ — May the Lord who has given you sight send a
little sense into your heads, the way it won’t be on your two selves
you’ll be looking — on two pitiful sinners of the earth — but on the
splendour of the Spirit of God, you’ll see an odd time shining out
through the big hills, and steep streams falling to the sea. For if
it’s on the like of that you do be thinking, you’ll not be minding the
faces of men, but you’ll be saying prayers and great praises, till
you’ll be living the way the great saints do be living, with little but
old sacks, and skin covering their bones. (_To Timmy._) Leave him go
now, you’re seeing he’s quiet again. (_He frees Martin Doul._) And let
you (_he turns to Mary Doul_) not be raising your voice, a bad thing in
a woman; but let the lot of you, who have seen the power of the Lord,
be thinking on it in the dark night, and be saying to yourselves it’s
great pity and love He has for the poor, starving people of Ireland.
(_He gathers his cloak about him._) And now the Lord send blessing to
you all, for I am going on to Annagolan, where there is a deaf woman,
and to Laragh, where there are two men without sense, and to Glenassil,
where there are children blind from their birth; and then I’m going to
sleep this night in the bed of the holy Kevin, and to be praising God,
and asking great blessing on you all.

[_He bends his head._]



[_Village roadside, on left the door of a forge, with broken wheels,
etc., lying about. A well near centre, with board above it, and room to
pass behind it. Martin Doul is sitting near forge, cutting sticks._]

_heard hammering inside forge, then calls._ — Let you make haste out
there.... I’ll be putting up new fires at the turn of day, and you
haven’t the half of them cut yet.

_gloomily._ — It’s destroyed I’ll be whacking your old thorns till the
turn of day, and I with no food in my stomach would keep the life in a
pig. (_He turns towards the door._) Let you come out here and cut them
yourself if you want them cut, for there’s an hour every day when a man
has a right to his rest.

_coming out, with a hammer, impatiently._ — Do you want me to be
driving you off again to be walking the roads? There you are now, and I
giving you your food, and a corner to sleep, and money with it; and, to
hear the talk of you, you’d think I was after beating you, or stealing
your gold.

You’d do it handy, maybe, if I’d gold to steal.

_throws down hammer; picks up some of the sticks already cut, and
throws them into door._ There’s no fear of your having gold — a lazy,
basking fool the like of you.

No fear, maybe, and I here with yourself, for it’s more I got a while
since and I sitting blinded in Grianan, than I get in this place
working hard, and destroying myself, the length of the day.

_stopping with amazement._ — Working hard? (_He goes over to him._)
I’ll teach you to work hard, Martin Doul. Strip off your coat now, and
put a tuck in your sleeves, and cut the lot of them, while I’d rake the
ashes from the forge, or I’ll not put up with you another hour itself.

_horrified._ — Would you have me getting my death sitting out in the
black wintry air with no coat on me at all?

_with authority._ — Strip it off now, or walk down upon the road.

_bitterly._ — Oh, God help me! (_He begins taking off his coat._) I’ve
heard tell you stripped the sheet from your wife and you putting her
down into the grave, and that there isn’t the like of you for plucking
your living ducks, the short days, and leaving them running round in
their skins, in the great rains and the cold. (_He tucks up his
sleeves._) Ah, I’ve heard a power of queer things of yourself, and
there isn’t one of them I’ll not believe from this day, and be telling
to the boys.

_pulling over a big stick._ — Let you cut that now, and give me rest
from your talk, for I’m not heeding you at all.

_taking stick._ — That’s a hard, terrible stick, Timmy; and isn’t it a
poor thing to be cutting strong timber the like of that, when it’s cold
the bark is, and slippy with the frost of the air?

_gathering up another armful of sticks._ — What way wouldn’t it be
cold, and it freezing since the moon was changed?

_He goes into forge._

_querulously, as he cuts slowly._ — What way, indeed, Timmy? For it’s a
raw, beastly day we do have each day, till I do be thinking it’s well
for the blind don’t be seeing them gray clouds driving on the hill, and
don’t be looking on people with their noses red, the like of your nose,
and their eyes weeping and watering, the like of your eyes, God help
you, Timmy the smith.

_seen blinking in doorway._ — Is it turning now you are against your

_very miserably._ — It’s a hard thing for a man to have his sight, and
he living near to the like of you (_he cuts a stick and throws it
away_), or wed with a wife (_cuts a stick_); and I do be thinking it
should be a hard thing for the Almighty God to be looking on the world,
bad days, and on men the like of yourself walking around on it, and
they slipping each way in the muck.

_with pot-hooks which he taps on anvil._ — You’d have a right to be
minding, Martin Doul, for it’s a power the Saint cured lose their sight
after a while. Mary Doul’s dimming again, I’ve heard them say; and I’m
thinking the Lord, if he hears you making that talk, will have little
pity left for you at all.

There’s not a bit of fear of me losing my sight, and if it’s a dark day
itself it’s too well I see every wicked wrinkle you have round by your

_looking at him sharply._ — The day’s not dark since the clouds broke
in the east.

Let you not be tormenting yourself trying to make me afeard. You told
me a power of bad lies the time I was blind, and it’s right now for you
to stop, and be taking your rest (_Mary Doul comes in unnoticed on
right with a sack filled with green stuff on her arm_), for it’s little
ease or quiet any person would get if the big fools of Ireland weren’t
weary at times. (_He looks up and sees Mary Doul._) Oh, glory be to
God, she’s coming again.

[_He begins to work busily with his back to her._]

_amused, to Mary Doul, as she is going by without looking at them._ —
Look on him now, Mary Doul. You’d be a great one for keeping him steady
at his work, for he’s after idling and blathering to this hour from the
dawn of day.

_stiffly._ — Of what is it you’re speaking, Timmy the smith?

_laughing._ — Of himself, surely. Look on him there, and he with the
shirt on him ripping from his back. You’d have a right to come round
this night, I’m thinking, and put a stitch into his clothes, for it’s
long enough you are not speaking one to the other.

Let the two of you not torment me at all.

[_She goes out left, with her head in the air._]

_stops work and looks after her._ — Well, isn’t it a queer thing she
can’t keep herself two days without looking on my face?

_jeeringly._ — Looking on your face is it? And she after going by with
her head turned the way you’d see a priest going where there’d be a
drunken man in the side ditch talking with a girl. (_Martin Doul gets
up and goes to corner of forge, and looks out left._) Come back here
and don’t mind her at all. Come back here, I’m saying, you’ve no call
to be spying behind her since she went off, and left you, in place of
breaking her heart, trying to keep you in the decency of clothes and

_crying out indignantly._ — You know rightly, Timmy, it was myself
drove her away.

That’s a lie you’re telling, yet it’s little I care which one of you
was driving the other, and let you walk back here, I’m saying, to your

_turning round._ — I’m coming, surely.

[_He stops and looks out right, going a step or two towards centre._]

On what is it you’re gaping, Martin Doul?

There’s a person walking above.... It’s Molly Byrne, I’m thinking,
coming down with her can.

If she is itself let you not be idling this day, or minding her at all,
and let you hurry with them sticks, for I’ll want you in a short while
to be blowing in the forge.

[_He throws down pot-hooks._]

_crying out._ — Is it roasting me now you’d be? (_Turns back and sees
pot-hooks; he takes them up._) Pot-hooks? Is it over them you’ve been
inside sneezing and sweating since the dawn of day?

_resting himself on anvil, with satisfaction._ — I’m making a power of
things you do have when you’re settling with a wife, Martin Doul; for I
heard tell last night the Saint’ll be passing again in a short while,
and I’d have him wed Molly with myself.... He’d do it, I’ve heard them
say, for not a penny at all.

_lays down hooks and looks at him steadily._ — Molly’ll be saying great
praises now to the Almighty God and He giving her a fine, stout, hardy
man the like of you.

_uneasily._ — And why wouldn’t she, if she’s a fine woman itself?

_looking up right._ — Why wouldn’t she, indeed, Timmy?.... The Almighty
God’s made a fine match in the two of you, for if you went marrying a
woman was the like of yourself you’d be having the fearfullest little
children, I’m thinking, was ever seen in the world.

_seriously offended._ — God forgive you! if you’re an ugly man to be
looking at, I’m thinking your tongue’s worse than your view.

_hurt also._ — Isn’t it destroyed with the cold I am, and if I’m ugly
itself I never seen anyone the like of you for dreepiness this day,
Timmy the smith, and I’m thinking now herself’s coming above you’d have
a right to step up into your old shanty, and give a rub to your face,
and not be sitting there with your bleary eyes, and your big nose, the
like of an old scarecrow stuck down upon the road.

_looking up the road uneasily._ — She’s no call to mind what way I
look, and I after building a house with four rooms in it above on the
hill. (_He stands up._) But it’s a queer thing the way yourself and
Mary Doul are after setting every person in this place, and up beyond
to Rathvanna, talking of nothing, and thinking of nothing, but the way
they do be looking in the face. (_Going towards forge._) It’s the
devil’s work you’re after doing with your talk of fine looks, and I’d
do right, maybe, to step in and wash the blackness from my eyes.

[_He goes into forge. Martin Doul rubs his face furtively with the tail
of his coat. Molly Byrne comes on right with a water-can, and begins to
fill it at the well._]

God save you, Molly Byrne.

_indifferently._ — God save you.

That’s a dark, gloomy day, and the Lord have mercy on us all.

Middling dark.

It’s a power of dirty days, and dark mornings, and shabby-looking
fellows (_he makes a gesture over his shoulder_) we do have to be
looking on when we have our sight, God help us, but there’s one fine
thing we have, to be looking on a grand, white, handsome girl, the like
of you.... and every time I set my eyes on you I do be blessing the
saints, and the holy water, and the power of the Lord Almighty in the
heavens above.

I’ve heard the priests say it isn’t looking on a young girl would teach
many to be saying their prayers.

[_Bailing water into her can with a cup._]

It isn’t many have been the way I was, hearing your voice speaking, and
not seeing you at all.

That should have been a queer time for an old, wicked, coaxing fool to
be sitting there with your eyes shut, and not seeing a sight of girl or
woman passing the road.

If it was a queer time itself it was great joy and pride I had the time
I’d hear your voice speaking and you passing to Grianan (_beginning to
speak with plaintive intensity_), for it’s of many a fine thing your
voice would put a poor dark fellow in mind, and the day I’d hear it
it’s of little else at all I would be thinking.

I’ll tell your wife if you talk to me the like of that.... You’ve
heard, maybe, she’s below picking nettles for the widow O’Flinn, who
took great pity on her when she seen the two of you fighting, and
yourself putting shame on her at the crossing of the roads.

_impatiently._ — Is there no living person can speak a score of words
to me, or say “God speed you,” itself, without putting me in mind of
the old woman, or that day either at Grianan?

_maliciously._ — I was thinking it should be a fine thing to put you in
mind of the day you called the grand day of your life.

Grand day, is it? (_Plaintively again, throwing aside his work, and
leaning towards her._) Or a bad black day when I was roused up and
found I was the like of the little children do be listening to the
stories of an old woman, and do be dreaming after in the dark night
that it’s in grand houses of gold they are, with speckled horses to
ride, and do be waking again, in a short while, and they destroyed with
the cold, and the thatch dripping, maybe, and the starved ass braying
in the yard?

_working indifferently._ — You’ve great romancing this day, Martin
Doul. Was it up at the still you were at the fall of night?

_stands up, comes towards her, but stands at far (_right_) side of
well._ — It was not, Molly Byrne, but lying down in a little rickety
shed.... Lying down across a sop of straw, and I thinking I was seeing
you walk, and hearing the sound of your step on a dry road, and hearing
you again, and you laughing and making great talk in a high room with
dry timber lining the roof. For it’s a fine sound your voice has that
time, and it’s better I am, I’m thinking, lying down, the way a blind
man does be lying, than to be sitting here in the gray light taking
hard words of Timmy the smith.

_looking at him with interest._ — It’s queer talk you have if it’s a
little, old, shabby stump of a man you are itself.

I’m not so old as you do hear them say.

You’re old, I’m thinking, to be talking that talk with a girl.

_despondingly._ — It’s not a lie you’re telling, maybe, for it’s long
years I’m after losing from the world, feeling love and talking love,
with the old woman, and I fooled the whole while with the lies of Timmy
the smith.

_half invitingly._ — It’s a fine way you’re wanting to pay Timmy the
smith.... And it’s not his _lies_ you’re making love to this day,
Martin Doul.

It is not, Molly, and the Lord forgive us all. (_He passes behind her
and comes near her left._) For I’ve heard tell there are lands beyond
in Cahir Iveraghig and the Reeks of Cork with warm sun in them, and
fine light in the sky. (_Bending towards her._) And light’s a grand
thing for a man ever was blind, or a woman, with a fine neck, and a
skin on her the like of you, the way we’d have a right to go off this
day till we’d have a fine life passing abroad through them towns of the
south, and we telling stories, maybe, or singing songs at the fairs.

_turning round half amused, and looking him over from head to foot._ —
Well, isn’t it a queer thing when your own wife’s after leaving you
because you’re a pitiful show, you’d talk the like of that to me?

_drawing back a little, hurt, but indignant._ — It’s a queer thing,
maybe, for all things is queer in the world. (_In a low voice with
peculiar emphasis._) But there’s one thing I’m telling you, if she
walked off away from me, it wasn’t because of seeing me, and I no more
than I am, but because I was looking on her with my two eyes, and she
getting up, and eating her food, and combing her hair, and lying down
for her sleep.

_interested, off her guard._ — Wouldn’t any married man you’d have be
doing the like of that?

_seizing the moment that he has her attention._ — I’m thinking by the
mercy of God it’s few sees anything but them is blind for a space
(_with excitement._) It’s a few sees the old woman rotting for the
grave, and it’s few sees the like of yourself. (_He bends over her._)
Though it’s shining you are, like a high lamp would drag in the ships
out of the sea.

_shrinking away from him._ — Keep off from me, Martin Doul.

_quickly, with low, furious intensity._ — It’s the truth I’m telling
you. (_He puts his hand on her shoulder and shakes her._) And you’d do
right not to marry a man is after looking out a long while on the bad
days of the world; for what way would the like of him have fit eyes to
look on yourself, when you rise up in the morning and come out of the
little door you have above in the lane, the time it’d be a fine thing
if a man would be seeing, and losing his sight, the way he’d have your
two eyes facing him, and he going the roads, and shining above him, and
he looking in the sky, and springing up from the earth, the time he’d
lower his head, in place of the muck that seeing men do meet all roads
spread on the world.

_who has listened half mesmerized, starting away._ — It’s the like of
that talk you’d hear from a man would be losing his mind.

_going after her, passing to her right._ — It’d be little wonder if a
man near the like of you would be losing his mind. Put down your can
now, and come along with myself, for I’m seeing you this day, seeing
you, maybe, the way no man has seen you in the world. (_He takes her by
the arm and tries to pull her away softly to the right._) Let you come
on now, I’m saying, to the lands of Iveragh and the Reeks of Cork,
where you won’t set down the width of your two feet and not be crushing
fine flowers, and making sweet smells in the air.

_laying down the can; trying to free herself._ — Leave me go, Martin
Doul! Leave me go, I’m saying!

Let you not be fooling. Come along now the little path through the

_crying out towards forge._ — Timmy the smith. (_Timmy comes out of
forge, and Martin Doul lets her go. Molly Byrne, excited and
breathless, pointing to Martin Doul._) Did ever you hear that them that
loses their sight loses their senses along with it, Timmy the smith!

_suspicious, but uncertain._ — He’s no sense, surely, and he’ll be
having himself driven off this day from where he’s good sleeping, and
feeding, and wages for his work.

_as before._ — He’s a bigger fool than that, Timmy. Look on him now,
and tell me if that isn’t a grand fellow to think he’s only to open his
mouth to have a fine woman, the like of me, running along by his heels.

[_Martin Doul recoils towards centre, with his hand to his eyes; Mary
Doul is seen on left coming forward softly._]

_with blank amazement._ — Oh, the blind is wicked people, and it’s no
lie. But he’ll walk off this day and not be troubling us more.

[_Turns back left and picks up Martin Doul’s coat and stick; some
things fall out of coat pocket, which he gathers up again._]

_turns around, sees Mary Doul, whispers to Molly Byrne with imploring
agony._ — Let you not put shame on me, Molly, before herself and the
smith. Let you not put shame on me and I after saying fine words to
you, and dreaming... dreams... in the night. (_He hesitates, and looks
round the sky._) Is it a storm of thunder is coming, or the last end of
the world? (_He staggers towards Mary Doul, tripping slightly over tin
can._) The heavens is closing, I’m thinking, with darkness and great
trouble passing in the sky. (_He reaches Mary Doul, and seizes her left
arm with both his hands — with a frantic cry._) Is it darkness of
thunder is coming, Mary Doul! Do you see me clearly with your eyes?

_snatches her arm away, and hits him with empty sack across the face._
— I see you a sight too clearly, and let you keep off from me now.

_clapping her hands._ — That’s right, Mary. That’s the way to treat the
like of him is after standing there at my feet and asking me to go off
with him, till I’d grow an old wretched road-woman the like of

_defiantly._ — When the skin shrinks on your chin, Molly Byrne, there
won’t be the like of you for a shrunk hag in the four quarters of
Ireland.... It’s a fine pair you’d be, surely!

[_Martin Doul is standing at back right centre, with his back to the

_coming over to Mary Doul._ — Is it no shame you have to let on she’d
ever be the like of you?

It’s them that’s fat and flabby do be wrinkled young, and that whitish
yellowy hair she has does be soon turning the like of a handful of thin
grass you’d see rotting, where the wet lies, at the north of a sty.
(_Turning to go out on right._) Ah, it’s a better thing to have a
simple, seemly face, the like of my face, for two-score years, or fifty
itself, than to be setting fools mad a short while, and then to be
turning a thing would drive off the little children from your feet.

[_She goes out; Martin Doul has come forward again, mastering himself,
but uncertain._]

Oh, God protect us, Molly, from the words of the blind. (_He throws
down Martin Doul’s coat and stick._) There’s your old rubbish now,
Martin Doul, and let you take it up, for it’s all you have, and walk
off through the world, for if ever I meet you coming again, if it’s
seeing or blind you are itself, I’ll bring out the big hammer and hit
you a welt with it will leave you easy till the judgment day.

_rousing himself with an effort._ — What call have you to talk the like
of that with myself?

_pointing to Molly Byrne._ — It’s well you know what call I have. It’s
well you know a decent girl, I’m thinking to wed, has no right to have
her heart scalded with hearing talk — and queer, bad talk, I’m thinking
— from a raggy-looking fool the like of you.

_raising his voice._ — It’s making game of you she is, for what seeing
girl would marry with yourself? Look on him, Molly, look on him, I’m
saying, for I’m seeing him still, and let you raise your voice, for the
time is come, and bid him go up into his forge, and be sitting there by
himself, sneezing and sweating, and he beating pot-hooks till the
judgment day.

[_He seizes her arm again._]

Keep him off from me, Timmy!

_pushing Martin Doul aside._ — Would you have me strike you, Martin
Doul? Go along now after your wife, who’s a fit match for you, and
leave Molly with myself.

_despairingly._ — Won’t you raise your voice, Molly, and lay hell’s
long curse on his tongue?

_on Timmy’s left._ — I’ll be telling him it’s destroyed I am with the
sight of you and the sound of your voice. Go off now after your wife,
and if she beats you again, let you go after the tinker girls is above
running the hills, or down among the sluts of the town, and you’ll
learn one day, maybe, the way a man should speak with a well-reared,
civil girl the like of me. (_She takes Timmy by the arm._) Come up now
into the forge till he’ll be gone down a bit on the road, for it’s near
afeard I am of the wild look he has come in his eyes.

[_She goes into the forge. Timmy stops in the doorway._]

Let me not find you out here again, Martin Doul. (_He bares his arm._)
It’s well you know Timmy the smith has great strength in his arm, and
it’s a power of things it has broken a sight harder than the old bone
of your skull.

[_He goes into the forge and pulls the door after him._]

_stands a moment with his hand to his eyes._ — And that’s the last
thing I’m to set my sight on in the life of the world — the villainy of
a woman and the bloody strength of a man. Oh, God, pity a poor, blind
fellow, the way I am this day with no strength in me to do hurt to them
at all. (_He begins groping about for a moment, then stops._) Yet if
I’ve no strength in me I’ve a voice left for my prayers, and may God
blight them this day, and my own soul the same hour with them, the way
I’ll see them after, Molly Byrne and Timmy the smith, the two of them
on a high bed, and they screeching in hell.... It’ll be a grand thing
that time to look on the two of them; and they twisting and roaring
out, and twisting and roaring again, one day and the next day, and each
day always and ever. It’s not blind I’ll be that time, and it won’t be
hell to me, I’m thinking, but the like of heaven itself; and it’s fine
care I’ll be taking the Lord Almighty doesn’t know.

_He turns to grope out._



[_The same Scene as in first Act, but gap in centre has been filled
with briars, or branches of some sort. Mary Doul, blind again, gropes
her way in on left, and sits as before. She has a few rushes with her.
It is an early spring day._]

_mournfully._ — Ah, God help me... God help me; the blackness wasn’t so
black at all the other time as it is this time, and it’s destroyed I’ll
be now, and hard set to get my living working alone, when it’s few are
passing and the winds are cold. (_She begins shredding rushes._) I’m
thinking short days will be long days to me from this time, and I
sitting here, not seeing a blink, or hearing a word, and no thought in
my mind but long prayers that Martin Doul’ll get his reward in a short
while for the villainy of his heart. It’s great jokes the people’ll be
making now, I’m thinking, and they pass me by, pointing their fingers
maybe, and asking what place is himself, the way it’s no quiet or
decency I’ll have from this day till I’m an old woman with long white
hair and it twisting from my brow. (_She fumbles with her hair, and
then seems to hear something. Listens for a moment._) There’s a queer,
slouching step coming on the road... . God help me, he’s coming surely.

[_She stays perfectly quiet. Martin Doul gropes in on right, blind

_gloomily._ — The devil mend Mary Doul for putting lies on me, and
letting on she was grand. The devil mend the old Saint for letting me
see it was lies. (_He sits down near her._) The devil mend Timmy the
smith for killing me with hard work, and keeping me with an empty,
windy stomach in me, in the day and in the night. Ten thousand devils
mend the soul of Molly Byrne — (_Mary Doul nods her head with
approval._) — and the bad, wicked souls is hidden in all the women of
the world. (_He rocks himself, with his hand over his face._) It’s
lonesome I’ll be from this day, and if living people is a bad lot, yet
Mary Doul, herself, and she a dirty, wrinkled-looking hag, was better
maybe to be sitting along with than no one at all. I’ll be getting my
death now, I’m thinking, sitting alone in the cold air, hearing the
night coming, and the blackbirds flying round in the briars crying to
themselves, the time you’ll hear one cart getting off a long way in the
east, and another cart getting off a long way in the west, and a dog
barking maybe, and a little wind turning the sticks. (_He listens and
sighs heavily._) I’ll be destroyed sitting alone and losing my senses
this time the way I’m after losing my sight, for it’d make any person
afeard to be sitting up hearing the sound of his breath — (_he moves
his feet on the stones_) — and the noise of his feet, when it’s a power
of queer things do be stirring, little sticks breaking, and the grass
moving — (_Mary Doul half sighs, and he turns on her in horror_) — till
you’d take your dying oath on sun and moon a thing was breathing on the
stones. (_He listens towards her for a moment, then starts up
nervously, and gropes about for his stick._) I’ll be going now, I’m
thinking, but I’m not sure what place my stick’s in, and I’m destroyed
with terror and dread. (_He touches her face as he is groping about and
cries out._) There’s a thing with a cold, living face on it sitting up
at my side. (_He turns to run away, but misses his path and stumbles in
against the wall._) My road is lost on me now! Oh, merciful God, set my
foot on the path this day, and I’ll be saying prayers morning and
night, and not straining my ear after young girls, or doing any bad
thing till I die.

_indignantly._ — Let you not be telling lies to the Almighty God.

Mary Doul, is it? (_Recovering himself with immense relief._) Is it
Mary Doul, I’m saying?

There’s a sweet tone in your voice I’ve not heard for a space. You’re
taking me for Molly Byrne, I’m thinking.

_coming towards her, wiping sweat from his face._ — Well, sight’s a
queer thing for upsetting a man. It’s a queer thing to think I’d live
to this day to be fearing the like of you; but if it’s shaken I am for
a short while, I’ll soon be coming to myself.

You’ll be grand then, and it’s no lie.

_sitting down shyly, some way off._ — You’ve no call to be talking, for
I’ve heard tell you’re as blind as myself.

If I am I’m bearing in mind I’m married to a little dark stump of a
fellow looks the fool of the world, and I’ll be bearing in mind from
this day the great hullabuloo he’s after making from hearing a poor
woman breathing quiet in her place.

And you’ll be bearing in mind, I’m thinking, what you seen a while back
when you looked down into a well, or a clear pool, maybe, when there
was no wind stirring and a good light in the sky.

I’m minding that surely, for if I’m not the way the liars were saying
below I seen a thing in them pools put joy and blessing in my heart.

_She puts her hand to her hair again._

_laughing ironically._ — Well, they were saying below I was losing my
senses, but I never went any day the length of that.... God help you,
Mary Doul, if you’re not a wonder for looks, you’re the maddest female
woman is walking the counties of the east.

_scornfully._ You were saying all times you’d a great ear for hearing
the lies of the world. A great ear, God help you, and you think you’re
using it now.

If it’s not lies you’re telling would you have me think you’re not a
wrinkled poor woman is looking like three scores, or two scores and a

I would not, Martin. (_She leans forward earnestly._) For when I seen
myself in them pools, I seen my hair would be gray or white, maybe, in
a short while, and I seen with it that I’d a face would be a great
wonder when it’ll have soft white hair falling around it, the way when
I’m an old woman there won’t be the like of me surely in the seven
counties of the east.

_with real admiration._ — You’re a cute thinking woman, Mary Doul, and
it’s no lie.

_triumphantly._ — I am, surely, and I’m telling you a beautiful
white-haired woman is a grand thing to see, for I’m told when Kitty
Bawn was selling poteen below, the young men itself would never tire to
be looking in her face.

_taking off his hat and feeling his head, speaking with hesitation._ —
Did you think to look, Mary Doul, would there be a whiteness the like
of that coming upon me?

_with extreme contempt._ — On you, God help you!... In a short while
you’ll have a head on you as bald as an old turnip you’d see rolling
round in the muck. You need never talk again of your fine looks, Martin
Doul, for the day of that talk’s gone for ever.

That’s a hard word to be saying, for I was thinking if I’d a bit of
comfort, the like of yourself, it’s not far off we’d be from the good
days went before, and that’d be a wonder surely. But I’ll never rest
easy, thinking you’re a gray, beautiful woman, and myself a pitiful

I can’t help your looks, Martin Doul. It wasn’t myself made you with
your rat’s eyes, and your big ears, and your griseldy chin.

_rubs his chin ruefully, then beams with delight._ — There’s one thing
you’ve forgot, if you’re a cute thinking woman itself.

Your slouching feet, is it? Or your hooky neck, or your two knees is
black with knocking one on the other?

_with delighted scorn._ — There’s talking for a cute woman. There’s
talking, surely!

_puzzled at joy of his voice._ — If you’d anything but lies to say
you’d be talking to yourself.

_bursting with excitement._ — I’ve this to say, Mary Doul. I’ll be
letting my beard grow in a short while, a beautiful, long, white,
silken, streamy beard, you wouldn’t see the like of in the eastern
world.... Ah, a white beard’s a grand thing on an old man, a grand
thing for making the quality stop and be stretching out their hands
with good silver or gold, and a beard’s a thing you’ll never have, so
you may be holding your tongue.

_laughing cheerfully._ — Well, we’re a great pair, surely, and it’s
great times we’ll have yet, maybe, and great talking before we die.

Great times from this day, with the help of the Almighty God, for a
priest itself would believe the lies of an old man would have a fine
white beard growing on his chin.

There’s the sound of one of them twittering yellow birds do be coming
in the spring-time from beyond the sea, and there’ll be a fine warmth
now in the sun, and a sweetness in the air, the way it’ll be a grand
thing to be sitting here quiet and easy smelling the things growing up,
and budding from the earth.

I’m smelling the furze a while back sprouting on the hill, and if you’d
hold your tongue you’d hear the lambs of Grianan, though it’s near
drowned their crying is with the full river making noises in the glen.

_listens._ — The lambs is bleating, surely, and there’s cocks and
laying hens making a fine stir a mile off on the face of the hill.
(_She starts._)

What’s that is sounding in the west?

[_A faint sound of a bell is heard._]

It’s not the churches, for the wind’s blowing from the sea.

_with dismay._ — It’s the old Saint, I’m thinking, ringing his bell.

The Lord protect us from the saints of God! (_They listen._) He’s
coming this road, surely.

_tentatively._ — Will we be running off, Mary Doul?

What place would we run?

There’s the little path going up through the sloughs.... If we reached
the bank above, where the elders do be growing, no person would see a
sight of us, if it was a hundred yeomen were passing itself; but I’m
afeard after the time we were with our sight we’ll not find our way to
it at all.

_standing up._ — You’d find the way, surely. You’re a grand man the
world knows at finding your way winter or summer, if there was deep
snow in it itself, or thick grass and leaves, maybe, growing from the

_taking her hand._ — Come a bit this way; it’s here it begins. (_They
grope about gap._) There’s a tree pulled into the gap, or a strange
thing happened, since I was passing it before.

Would we have a right to be crawling in below under the sticks?

It’s hard set I am to know what would be right. And isn’t it a poor
thing to be blind when you can’t run off itself, and you fearing to

_nearly in tears._ — It’s a poor thing, God help us, and what good’ll
our gray hairs be itself, if we have our sight, the way we’ll see them
falling each day, and turning dirty in the rain?

[_The bell sounds nearby._]

_in despair._ — He’s coming now, and we won’t get off from him at all.

Could we hide in the bit of a briar is growing at the west butt of the

We’ll try that, surely. (_He listens a moment._) Let you make haste; I
hear them trampling in the wood.

[_They grope over to church._]

It’s the words of the young girls making a great stir in the trees.
(_They find the bush._) Here’s the briar on my left, Martin; I’ll go in
first, I’m the big one, and I’m easy to see.

_turning his head anxiously._ — It’s easy heard you are; and will you
be holding your tongue?

_partly behind bush._ — Come in now beside of me. (_They kneel down,
still clearly visible._) Do you think they can see us now, Martin Doul?

I’m thinking they can’t, but I’m hard set to know; for the lot of them
young girls, the devil save them, have sharp, terrible eyes, would pick
out a poor man, I’m thinking, and he lying below hid in his grave.

Let you not be whispering sin, Martin Doul, or maybe it’s the finger of
God they’d see pointing to ourselves.

It’s yourself is speaking madness, Mary Doul; haven’t you heard the
Saint say it’s the wicked do be blind?

If it is you’d have a right to speak a big, terrible word would make
the water not cure us at all.

What way would I find a big, terrible word, and I shook with the fear;
and if I did itself, who’d know rightly if it’s good words or bad would
save us this day from himself?

They’re coming. I hear their feet on the stones.

[_The Saint comes in on right, with Timmy and Molly Byrne in holiday
clothes, the others as before._]

I’ve heard tell Martin Doul and Mary Doul were seen this day about on
the road, holy father, and we were thinking you’d have pity on them and
cure them again.

I would, maybe, but where are they at all? I have little time left when
I have the two of you wed in the church.

_at their seat._ — There are the rushes they do have lying round on the
stones. It’s not far off they’ll be, surely.

_pointing with astonishment._ — Look beyond, Timmy.

[_They all look over and see Martin Doul._]

Well, Martin’s a lazy fellow to be lying in there at the height of the
day. (_He goes over shouting._) Let you get up out of that. You were
near losing a great chance by your sleepiness this day, Martin Doul....
The two of them’s in it, God help us all!

_scrambling up with Mary Doul._ — What is it you want, Timmy, that you
can’t leave us in peace?

The Saint’s come to marry the two of us, and I’m after speaking a word
for yourselves, the way he’ll be curing you now; for if you’re a
foolish man itself, I do be pitying you, for I’ve a kind heart, when I
think of you sitting dark again, and you after seeing a while and
working for your bread.

[_Martin Doul takes Mary Doul’s hand and tries to grope his way off
right; he has lost his hat, and they are both covered with dust and
grass seeds._]

You’re going wrong. It’s this way, Martin Doul.

[_They push him over in front of the Saint, near centre. Martin Doul
and Mary Doul stand with piteous hang-dog dejection._]

Let you not be afeard, for there’s great pity with the Lord.

We aren’t afeard, holy father.

It’s many a time those that are cured with the well of the four
beauties of God lose their sight when a time is gone, but those I cure
a second time go on seeing till the hour of death. (_He takes the cover
from his can._) I’ve a few drops only left of the water, but, with the
help of God, It’ll be enough for the two of you, and let you kneel down
now upon the road. _Martin Doul wheels round with Mary Doul and tries
to get away._

You can kneel down here, I’m saying, we’ll not trouble this time going
to the church.

_turning Martin Doul round, angrily._ — Are you going mad in your head,
Martin Doul? It’s here you’re to kneel. Did you not hear his reverence,
and he speaking to you now?

Kneel down, I’m saying, the ground’s dry at your feet.

_with distress._ — Let you go on your own way, holy father. We’re not
calling you at all.

I’m not saying a word of penance, or fasting itself, for I’m thinking
the Lord has brought you great teaching in the blindness of your eyes;
so you’ve no call now to be fearing me, but let you kneel down till I
give you your sight.

_more troubled._ — We’re not asking our sight, holy father, and let you
walk on your own way, and be fasting, or praying, or doing anything
that you will, but leave us here in our peace, at the crossing of the
roads, for it’s best we are this way, and we’re not asking to see.

_to the People._ — Is his mind gone that he’s no wish to be cured this
day, or to be living or working, or looking on the wonders of the

It’s wonders enough I seen in a short space for the life of one man

_severely._ — I never heard tell of any person wouldn’t have great joy
to be looking on the earth, and the image of the Lord thrown upon men.

_raising his voice._ — Them is great sights, holy father.... What was
it I seen when I first opened my eyes but your own bleeding feet, and
they cut with the stones? That was a great sight, maybe, of the image
of God.... And what was it I seen my last day but the villainy of hell
looking out from the eyes of the girl you’re coming to marry — the Lord
forgive you — with Timmy the smith. That was a great sight, maybe. And
wasn’t it great sights I seen on the roads when the north winds would
be driving, and the skies would be harsh, till you’d see the horses and
the asses, and the dogs itself, maybe, with their heads hanging, and
they closing their eyes——.

And did you never hear tell of the summer, and the fine spring, and the
places where the holy men of Ireland have built up churches to the
Lord? No man isn’t a madman, I’m thinking, would be talking the like of
that, and wishing to be closed up and seeing no sight of the grand
glittering seas, and the furze that is opening above, and will soon
have the hills shining as if it was fine creels of gold they were,
rising to the sky.

Is it talking now you are of Knock and Ballavore? Ah, it’s ourselves
had finer sights than the like of them, I’m telling you, when we were
sitting a while back hearing the birds and bees humming in every weed
of the ditch, or when we’d be smelling the sweet, beautiful smell does
be rising in the warm nights, when you do hear the swift flying things
racing in the air, till we’d be looking up in our own minds into a
grand sky, and seeing lakes, and big rivers, and fine hills for taking
the plough.

_to People._ — There’s little use talking with the like of him.

It’s lazy he is, holy father, and not wanting to work; for a while
before you had him cured he was always talking, and wishing, and
longing for his sight.

_turning on her._ — I was longing, surely for sight; but I seen my fill
in a short while with the look of my wife, and the look of yourself,
Molly Byrne, when you’d the queer wicked grin in your eyes you do have
the time you’re making game with a man.

Let you not mind him, holy father; for it’s bad things he was saying to
me a while back — bad things for a married man, your reverence — and
you’d do right surely to leave him in darkness, if it’s that is best
fitting the villainy of his heart.

_to Saint._ — Would you cure Mary Doul, your reverence, who is a quiet
poor woman, never did hurt to any, or said a hard word, saving only
when she’d be vexed with himself, or with young girls would be making
game of her below?

_to Mary Doul._ — If you have any sense, Mary, kneel down at my feet,
and I’ll bring the sight again into your eyes.

_more defiantly._ — You will not, holy father. Would you have her
looking on me, and saying hard words to me, till the hour of death?

_severely._ — If she’s wanting her sight I wouldn’t have the like of
you stop her at all. (_To Mary Doul._) Kneel down, I’m saying.

_doubtfully._ — Let us be as we are, holy father, and then we’ll be
known again in a short while as the people is happy and blind, and be
having an easy time, with no trouble to live, and we getting halfpence
on the road.

Let you not be a raving fool, Mary Doul. Kneel down now, and let him
give you your sight, and himself can be sitting here if he likes it
best, and taking halfpence on the road.

That’s the truth, Mary; and if it’s choosing a wilful blindness you
are, I’m thinking there isn’t anyone in this place will ever be giving
you a hand’s turn or a hap’orth of meal, or be doing the little things
you need to keep you at all living in the world.

If you had your sight, Mary, you could be walking up for him and down
with him, and be stitching his clothes, and keeping a watch on him day
and night the way no other woman would come near him at all.

_half persuaded._ — That’s the truth, maybe.

Kneel down now, I’m saying, for it’s in haste I am to be going on with
the marriage and be walking my own way before the fall of night.

Kneel down, Mary! Kneel down when you’re bid by the Saint!

_looking uneasily towards Martin Doul._ — Maybe it’s right they are,
and I will if you wish it, holy father.

[_She kneels down. The Saint takes off his hat and gives it to some one
near him. All the men take off their hats. He goes forward a step to
take Martin Doul’s hand away from Mary Doul._]

_to Martin Doul._ — Go aside now; we’re not wanting you here.

_pushes him away roughly, and stands with his left hand on Mary Doul’s
shoulder._ — Keep off yourself, holy father, and let you not be taking
my rest from me in the darkness of my wife.... What call has the like
of you to be coming between married people — that you’re not
understanding at all — and be making a great mess with the holy water
you have, and the length of your prayers? Go on now, I’m saying, and
leave us here on the road.

If it was a seeing man I heard talking to me the like of that I’d put a
black curse on him would weigh down his soul till it’d be falling to
hell; but you’re a poor blind sinner, God forgive you, and I don’t mind
you at all. (_He raises his can._) Go aside now till I give the
blessing to your wife, and if you won’t go with your own will, there
are those standing by will make you, surely.

_pulling Mary Doul._ — Come along now, and don’t mind him at all.

_imperiously, to the People._ — Let you take that man and drive him
down upon the road.

[_Some men seize Martin Doul._]

_struggling and shouting._ — Make them leave me go, holy father! Make
them leave me go, I’m saying, and you may cure her this day, or do
anything that you will.

_to People._ — Let him be..... Let him be if his sense is come to him
at all.

_shakes himself loose, feels for Mary Doul, sinking his voice to a
plausible whine._ — You may cure herself, surely, holy father; I
wouldn’t stop you at all — and it’s great joy she’ll have looking on
your face — but let you cure myself along with her, the way I’ll see
when it’s lies she’s telling, and be looking out day and night upon the
holy men of God.

[_He kneels down a little before Mary Doul._]

_speaking half to the People._ — Men who are dark a long while and
thinking over queer thoughts in their heads, aren’t the like of simple
men, who do be working every day, and praying, and living like
ourselves; so if he has found a right mind at the last minute itself,
I’ll cure him, if the Lord will, and not be thinking of the hard,
foolish words he’s after saying this day to us all.

_listening eagerly._ — I’m waiting now, holy father.

_with can in his hand, close to Martin Doul._ — With the power of the
water from the grave of the four beauties of God, with the power of
this water, I’m saying, that I put upon your eyes——.

[_He raises can._]

_with a sudden movement strikes the can from the Saint’s hand and sends
it rocketing across stage. He stands up; People murmur loudly._ — If
I’m a poor dark sinner I’ve sharp ears, God help me, and have left you
with a big head on you and it’s well I heard the little splash of the
water you had there in the can. Go on now, holy father, for if you’re a
fine Saint itself, it’s more sense is in a blind man, and more power
maybe than you’re thinking at all. Let you walk on now with your worn
feet, and your welted knees, and your fasting, holy ways a thin pitiful
arm. (_The Saint looks at him for a moment severely, then turns away
and picks up his can. He pulls Mary Doul up._) For if it’s a right some
of you have to be working and sweating the like of Timmy the smith, and
a right some of you have to be fasting and praying and talking holy
talk the like of yourself, I’m thinking it’s a good right ourselves
have to be sitting blind, hearing a soft wind turning round the little
leaves of the spring and feeling the sun, and we not tormenting our
souls with the sight of the gray days, and the holy men, and the dirty
feet is trampling the world.

[_He gropes towards his stone with Mary Doul._]

It’d be an unlucky fearful thing, I’m thinking, to have the like of
that man living near us at all in the townland of Grianan. Wouldn’t he
bring down a curse upon us, holy father, from the heavens of God?

_tying his girdle._ — God has great mercy, but great wrath for them
that sin.

Go on now, Martin Doul. Go on from this place. Let you not be bringing
great storms or droughts on us maybe from the power of the Lord.

[_Some of them throw things at him._]

_turning round defiantly and picking up a stone._ — Keep off now, the
yelping lot of you, or it’s more than one maybe will get a bloody head
on him with the pitch of my stone. Keep off now, and let you not be
afeard; for we’re going on the two of us to the towns of the south,
where the people will have kind voices maybe, and we won’t know their
bad looks or their villainy at all. (_He takes Mary Doul’s hand
again._) Come along now and we’ll be walking to the south, for we’ve
seen too much of everyone in this place, and it’s small joy we’d have
living near them, or hearing the lies they do be telling from the gray
of dawn till the night.

_despondingly._ — That’s the truth, surely; and we’d have a right to be
gone, if it’s a long way itself, as I’ve heard them say, where you do
have to be walking with a slough of wet on the one side and a slough of
wet on the other, and you going a stony path with a north wind blowing

[_They go out._]

There’s a power of deep rivers with floods in them where you do have to
be lepping the stones and you going to the south, so I’m thinking the
two of them will be drowned together in a short while, surely.

They have chosen their lot, and the Lord have mercy on their souls.
(_He rings his bell._) And let the two of you come up now into the
church, Molly Byrne and Timmy the smith, till I make your marriage and
put my blessing on you all.

[_He turns to the church; procession forms, and the curtain comes down,
as they go slowly into the church._]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Well of the Saints: A Comedy in Three Acts" ***

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